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A few hours have passed since Ain and the others took the train to the royal capital. Looking out the window, the night scene spread out like a celestial sphere studded with dark blue and gold.
The temperature was lower here than in the capital, and the windows felt cool to the touch.
“So that’s it, huh-nya? According to the information Professor Oz gave us about the monsters.”
In the hand of Katima, who sat down on the sofa, was the document that Oz had given them before they left Ist. It’s not the one about the Red Fox, but the one related to Ain’s monsterization.”
“Yeah. It seems that evolution does not change the inherent will of a monster.”
“Fumu… nya, at least it might mean that Ain’s will not be lost-nya.”
“Hmm? That means the monsterization is already…”
“But only if we treat Ain’s monsterization as the same as evolution-nya.”
“Ah. So we can’t be sure it’s safe yet…”
“Umu! It’s a symptom that has never been seen before, so we need to check it out and make sure you don’t go into a coma again-nya!”
That meant that the investigation would continue. Chris and Dill, who were standing nearby, nodded at Katima’s statement.
“According to Professor Oz, the next step is Baltic, right-nya? If we can find out about Ain’s condition and also about the Red Fox, we can kill two birds with one stone-nya.”
“Well, that’s true.”
“When the matter of Ain’s body is settled, maybe the investigation of the Red Fox will become the main focus-nya. If it were the Red Fox that was behind Sage, it would prove that they are still doing something in Ishtalika-nya.”
Everyone in the carriage nodded in agreement with her words with a mysterious look on their faces. It was a matter that should be investigated at the same time as Ain’s condition.
“So, let’s get to bed now-nya.”
Katima stood up after letting out a sigh on the sofa.
The time on the clock showed the hour of midnight. Although a lot had happened in Ist, they had talked for too long.
“I think I’ll go to bed too… Oh, we’re already on that big bridge.”
Looking out the window, the water train was just going over the river. It was on the huge bridge, the longest bridge in Ishtalika, that Chris had told Ain about on the way.
Though they hadn’t noticed it on the way, there were rolling hills on the side of the royal capital beyond the bridge. Suddenly, they saw bubbles floating on the surface of the water, illuminated by the Milky Way.
(Is there something out there?)
A moment later, Ain stopped at the window.
The water train brakes suddenly, and the wheels and tracks make a screeching noise.
“Ain-sama! Be careful!”
Then, Dill rushed over and supported him.
“No problem. But what was with the brakes just now?”
The furniture in the lounge seemed to have been shaken, and the glasses on the table had fallen to the floor and shattered.
“I’m okay too-nya!”
Katima seemed to have been supported by Chris and was safe.
“It looks like something happened, so I’ll go ask around.”
“Yeah. Chris-nya, please.”
“Wait! I’m coming with you! I’m not in the mood to sleep anymore. Dill, can you take care of Katima-san for me?”
“Y-yeah… It’s not a problem for me; I’ll be guarding here.”
When Ain and Chris put on their robes and went out into the passageway between the cabins, it was noisy there too. After a short walk, the noise increased even more when they approached the dining cabin.
One man, who seemed to be the conductor, was explaining to the passengers.
“Emergency stop! The train driver has informed me that some kind of large monster has crossed in front of us!”
Ain and Chris listened to the frantic voice.
“He explained that some kind of big monster crossed the road and was flying in the sky!”
“Then why didn’t we hurry and run?”
“Because it’s flying around blocking our path!”
This was more than the newly arrived Ain could have imagined. He turned to Chris, who was standing next to him, and said what came to his mind.
“What do you think about the possibility that the target is us?”
“That’s strange. Actually, I was thinking the same thing.”
The guy who got away from them at the Tower of Wisdom is here.
“If we can just get away from here…”
“No! There’s nowhere else to go from this bridge! Besides, if it’s after us, the monster that appeared must be…”
Soon after Chris said that.
There was a sound of a sharp, huge claw grabbing the train’s roof. Then windows were broken on both sides of the train, and the cold outside air rushed through the train.
“I would like to think not, but it sounds like it wants us to come out, doesn’t it?”
Then Chris whispered in his ear.
“A-Ain-sama, please just stay here; I’ll check it!”
“What are you talking about? The target is not only you, Chris-san, but also me, so it doesn’t matter where I am. If that’s the case, I’ll choose the one that doesn’t cause any damage to the other passengers. If the whole train is submerged in water, many lives will be lost.”
As soon as he said this, Ain approached the window and looked out.
“Passenger! It’s dangerous!”
The conductor stopped him but now was not the time. Suddenly, a strong wind stirred up the robes of Ain and Chris. Their hoods came off easily, exposing their hidden faces.
Everyone on the train widened their eyes in surprise at the sight of the two of them.
“Don’t worry; everything will be fine.”
The person who appeared in front of them was the hero who had defeated the Sea Dragon.
The woman standing next to him was also known to most people. She’s a knight who just became the new marshal, Christina Wernstein, and she’s the best knight in Ishtalika.
They didn’t have time to wonder why the two of them were here, but they were deeply relieved.
“Chris-san, we should tell Dill first!”
Ain and Chris ran out of the dining cabin with great speed and ran down the passageway where the broken glass was scattered on the floor, just like in the dining cabin.
As luck would have it, they ran into Dill, who had run out after hearing the noise.
“Ain-sama! I think we’re being attacked by something!”
“I know! Dill, stay with Katima-san… No, I want you to get Vara and Mei in the same room and guard them!”
“Y…yes! But what about you, Ain-sama?”
“I think the monster is after Chris-san and me. That’s why.”
Dill’s face twisted when he heard Ain’s words.
He looked at Ain, who revealed his unwavering determination, and said to Chris as if he had given up.
“Chris-sama. Please take care of Ain-sama…”
“Yes, I know!”
The conductor who stopped Ain just a moment ago came running up from the opposite side of Dill, who was leaving.
“Please wait! Your Highness!”
But Ain did not respond.
“I have a favor to ask you. We’ll go out and investigate the enemy. So, when you can proceed, I want you to hurry up and start the train.”
This was because, as Ain had explained to Chris earlier, the worst that could happen was that the whole train would sink underwater.
While he was talking, Ain leaned out the broken window.
“If anything happens, get my guard, Dill! Let’s go, Chris-san!”
As he lightly jumped out of the train, the roof was high enough for several adults.
Ain created an illusory hand and used it to head for the top of the cabin while Chris nimbly kicked the tracks and jumped up.
“Please don’t use the same tactics you used to defeat the Sea Dragon, okay?”
“I know, I know. Look, there it is.”
A Wyvern spreads its wings wide against the night sky, looking like it owns the place. The muscular body, bulging and swollen, was even more muscular than the other day.
The large, wriggling eyes looking down at the two of them were bloodshot. The fangs that protrude from the half-open mouth are sharp, and the breath is white from the heat inside the body.
An angry voice shook the sky, and the tension stung their skin.
“In the monster arena, it was scared of me, but… it’s obviously different now!”
“Let’s quickly ease it off…”
The two of them drew their swords. Eventually, the Wyvern swooped down and aimed with its two legs.
A sharp claw aimed at Ain.
Chris, who quickly stepped forward, narrowed her eyes.
“I won’t let you…!”
An unbelievable thrust was made, and it went straight into the claws of the oncoming Wyvern. The claws are not shattered, but they are deeply cracked.
The Wyvern’s scream of pain hit the ears hard. Pieces of the claw flew off and caused a thin cut on Chris’s ear.
“As expected of Chris-san!”
“N-no… I thought I shattered the claw!”
But it was only a crack.
Her rapier, which she prides herself on, is a masterpiece made of mithril, a precious metal that excels in sharpness and lightness. If it were an ordinary monster, she could cut it down with a single attack.
“Gauaaa ─ Guuu…”
The menacing Wyvern landed on the roof. Then the train departed, and the two of them strengthened their hold on the train.
The sound of the water train moving along the tracks began to echo around the area.
“It would be better for me if you were as scared as you were last time!”
A total of six illusory hands appeared on Ain’s back.
(Chris-san and I have to keep attacking so that it can’t afford to target the train.)
Not long after that, Ain took a deep breath…
“For a moment, I’ll take away the Wyvern’s vision. Then we can attack at the same time.”
“Vision? Oh, you’re going to use that power!”
“Yeah, that’s right!”
When Ain used his “Dense Fog” skill, the wind blew the fog over the Wyvern’s body for a moment.
Ain, who ran a step ahead of Chris, spread his illusory hand and restrained the Wyvern’s wings.
Chris’s rapier pierced the open chest. She pierced its chest once, then twice, then three times, and the blood that sprayed out dyed both their clothes red.
“It’s not over yet…!”
Ain’s face contorts in desperate resistance.
“…I never thought it had this kind of power!”
But he can endure.
“I’ve known stronger ones to resist…! I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let you go until you’re defeated!”
Compared to the Sea Dragon’s resistance, it was nothing. Besides, Chris was present now, too.
Ain put more magic power into his illusory hand, but…
The Wyvern resisted, wagging its tail vigorously.
“Please step away from it! I can attack it enough!”
Just before the tail strikes the ground, Ain managed to defend himself with his illusory hand and flew into the air.
At this rate, he is going to fall into the water. The river is still spreading around the water train running on the bridge. Although the surface of the water is calm, the cold water will quickly take away his strength.
The Wyvern turned to Ain, who was floating in midair and defenseless.
The large, raised wings, floating veins, and balloon-like muscles attacked Ain.
But Chris is behind the defenseless Wyvern.
“Don’t forget about me!”
Her attack is thrust at the tip of the Wyvern’s tail.
“This one is much softer! If this is the case!”
More thrusts of divine speed followed. In the end, the tail was severed, and the Wyvern collapsed in agony.
“Thank you, Chris-san!”
Ain returned next to Chris, using his illusory hand.
The night breeze caressed their cheeks, and the battle in the train was temporarily calmed.