Chapter 4-2

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VOLUME 4

Chapter 4

Ch4-2

It was already past evening by the time Fiore arrived at the safe house Sieg and the others were staying at. After she knocked, Rider swiftly opened the door with Sieg and Ruler in tow.

Fiore sat in her wheelchair before the door with Archer of Black behind her.

“Ah, it’s that time already?”

“Sorry for making you wait. Then, shall we get going?”

Rider of Black tilted his head in puzzlement.

“Get going where?”

“Ah, I still haven’t informed you all. We’re going to the Henry Coanda International Airport. There, we’ll board airplanes and head to the Hanging Gardens. Please come board the car, everyone. I don’t mind if you change into your armor now.”

Fiore guided the three of them to the limousine. Ruler and Rider followed her suggestion and changed into their armor.

“All right… Are you sure you haven’t forgotten anything, Sieg-kun?”

“Of course not. This is the only equipment I have, anyway.”

Sieg patted the sword hanging from his waist. It was the sword that Rider of Black had lent him. He probably wouldn’t even have a chance to use it in the final battle. By the time he resorted to using this, the situation would likely be hopelessly bleak.

Even so, Sieg felt reassured when he carried this, like an iron rod supporting his back. Not because having a sword was reassuring, but because it made him remember the warmth of the person who had given it to him.

“I plan to keep it with me, but is that all right with you, Rider?”

Rider readily agreed as if it were only natural.

“Of course. I gave it to you, after all.”

While feeling slightly reluctant to part with the safe house they had stayed at for a short while, the three of them joined Fiore in the limousine.

“Wow, it’s so spacious inside!”

“Umm, is it really okay to wear my armor in here? It’s hard to sit here without damaging the seats—”

“I don’t mind. This car and everything in it are merely appropriated goods,” Fiore smoothly replied, as she skillfully sat herself down on the rear seat with her already activated Bronze-Link Manipulators.

“Now, let’s be off! We should arrive…… in about five minutes.”

It was so close that they wouldn’t even have the time to properly enjoy the limousine.

“…Couldn’t we just walk?”

Fiore firmly denied Ruler’s suggestion.

“We rarely get the chance to use this limousine. This might be the last time we get to ride it.”

And with that, they arrived at the airport in the blink of an eye.

+++

Unlike Sieg, who was a homunculus born in the Yggdmillennia castle, and Rider, who was a Servant summoned in the castle, Ruler had arrived in this country from France through this airport, and thus she recognized just how abnormal the current situation was.

It wasn’t that anything had changed here. There was merely no one else around. The taxies in front of the airport, the customers, even the security guards… They were all gone.

“Ah, yes. It’d be a problem if we were seen by anyone, so naturally, I reserved the whole place. From the next twelve hours, we’ll be the only ones using this airport.”

“Reserved, you say…?”

Ruler was left completely speechless in the face of Fiore’s casual words. Sieg and Rider seemed to be thinking ‘We can’t afford to involve any outsiders, so that’s a wise decision’ and thought no more of it. In Ruler’s eyes, though, reserving an entire international airport went beyond the realm of the ridiculous.

In front of the airport entrance doors, men in suits stood imposingly as watchman in place of the airport’s security guards.

When Fiore approached them and swiftly said what seemed to be a password, the men nodded and opened the doors.

“I’ve set up a Boundary Field to keep people away around the airport. No one will be able to approach within a several kilometer radius around this area.

“Wow, it really is completely deserted,” murmured Rider of Black in amazement.

Just as Rider had said, there was no one besides themselves in this vast airport. There were no receptionists at the counter, the always-running baggage claim conveyor belt was halted, and even the electronic display boards were off.

“Even I can’t help but be amazed by my own sister…” Caules murmured in astonishment, as someone who had the common sense of an ordinary person. “Just how much money did you spend on all this?”

“It wasn’t that much. The price of arranging this was only five times the cost of the Mystic Code I designed. The bigger problem was the money to purchase the airplanes. Really now, I asked for old second-hand planes since they’re going to be scrapped anyway, yet why did they cost so much? We truly are lucky to have the fortune that Grandfather Darnic left behind.”

“Well, that’s… because they’re jumbo jets.”

Sieg looked down at the visible airfield through the window in amazement. There were a total of ten old jumbo jets which Fiore had bought.

Fiore said that they were going to use all of these with their destruction in mind from the start. True, it was a valid decision, since a single plane would be completely annihilated by concentrated attacks. So instead, they would send out several decoy plans to increase their chances of survival… It was quite reasonable, if you didn’t take the accompanying cost into account.

“Then, we’ll deploy in the formation I explained in the car… Rider.”

“Yes, yes?”

“Your tome is our final hope. Have you remembered its true name?”

“Err…”

Rider awkwardly averted his eyes—the faces of everyone else present turned pale.

“Hey, don’t tell me you still don’t remember!? After coming all this way, that’s—”

Fiore drew close and pressed Rider, who waved his hands frantically.

“It’ll be fine, it’ll fine! Once it’s night, I’ll remember it! But look, it’s still evening right now. Just give me a little more time, okay?”

“We can trust you, right?”

“Leave it to me!”

Rider confidently placed his hand over his chest—however, dubious stares remained fixed on him.

“Aha, ahaha… Master, help!”

Rider ran behind Sieg’s back to protect himself from the stares.

“Rider… I’d like to talk with you about something with just the two of us, is that all right?”

“Eh? No, umm—”

Rider tried to say “Wait a minute”, but Sieg grabbed his arm without bothering to ask for any further permission and moved them both away from everyone else.

“…What is it?”

“A love confession, perhaps?”

The two siblings present both tilted their head curiously and conversed without any sense of tension.

“Maybe if it was Rider, but there’s no way Sieg would do that.”

Archer of Black joined their conversation as well, equally unconcerned. Meanwhile, for some reason, Ruler had gone off to follow Sieg and Rider.

+++

“W-What, what, what?”

Sieg pushed Rider against the wall next to a paper cup coffee vending machine as if to hide him in its shadow—upon which Rider stared at Sieg with open confusion. That’s a rare expression for Rider, thought Sieg.

“Rider. I’m asking this to make sure.”

“Y-Yeah?”

“—Are you scared?”

The question was blunt and sudden, and that’s precisely why it caught Rider off guard. Rider stared at Sieg dumfounded for a short while, but then his shoulders discouragingly drooped.

“…Yeah. But how did you know?”

“You told me before, remember? That you became scared the instant you regained your senses. The brighter and fuller the moon is, the more your sense of reason vanishes. But to put it another way, you regain your reason on dark nights when the moon isn’t out, enough that you can remember your tome’s true name.”

“Despite the situation, I’m still happy that your remembered those casual words of mine… Yeah, it’s exactly as you guessed. Master, I’m… scared. I know you’re probably disappointed at hearing words completely unsuitable for a Servant, but I’m scared,” murmured Rider with a gloomy expression.

“Do you mean… you’re scared of dying?”

“Hmm? No, not that. I’m not scared of dying. This much is true. I really don’t like pain and dying, but it’s not scary.”

“Then what are you—?”

Rider sighed in lamentation.

“Obviously, I’m scared of you dying. Seeing someone you care about die and understanding that they’re dead really takes its toll. When my sanity evaporates, I can forget about it for a while. It’s precisely because I forget about it that I can take absurd risks. But when my thoughts become clear like they are now, I keep imagining terrifying outcomes.”

Even if he released the book’s true name, what if the enemy had some means to counteract it?

The only thing the tome could block was magecraft. It couldn’t block the physical attacks of Rider and Archer of Red. If one of them managed to land a hit on Rider of Black—it would be a fatal blow.

He’d die. And everyone else would too. All because he was weak.

“I wish I were stronger. I wish I could stay a fool who even forgets the fact that he’s weak. But on nights of the new moon, it’s no good. When my reason returns, I’m—”

Sieg grasped Rider of Black’s hand. He spoke while looking at Rider right in the eye with the same perfectly transparent gaze he’d had when they’d first met.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re strong or weak. I think and believe that you’re an amazing person, Rider. After all, you saved me. You would have done the same thing regardless of whether or not you had your sense of reason, right?”

Though surprised at having his hand held, Rider managed to vaguely nod.

Yes. That’s why you’re fine the way you are, thought Sieg.

“Whether we fail and die or succeed and live, nothing would have begun for me in the first place if you hadn’t saved me back then. I wouldn’t have met Ruler either. The very fact that I’m standing here right now is already miraculous. That’s why you’re fine the way you are. Just do as you please like always.”

“…It’s okay if I fail?”

“I don’t mind.”

“You might die, you know?”

“But I might not die too. Either way, I won’t stop now after everything that’s happened. I’m fine as long as you continue to be yourself, Rider. The way I see it, the fact that you’re scared of what might happen to me if you fail… is also very much like you, Rider.”

—Rider sighed in relief.

In other words, that was all he wanted to hear. That Sieg wouldn’t be disappointed in him for becoming scared after regaining his reason. He absolutely hated the thought of disappointing the Master who he had chosen and who had chosen him in turn.

+++

“—As long as you continue to be yourself, Rider.”

+++

Both the way he fears failure and his foolishness that fears no one is just like him. That’s what his Master was saying.

In that case, the answer was simple. Rider would just do his best. Whether he succeeded or failed—doing his best was truly like him, after all.

“I see. You’re saying that it’s fine if I stay the way I am.”

“Yeah. That’s more than enough.”

Rider of Black tried to gloss over the tears in his eyes as he frantically wiped them.

“Yeah, you’re right! …Yeah. Huh, how strange. Even though I was thinking of nothing but failure just now, suddenly I feel all calm. I feel like everything will go well!”

Sieg smiled happily at Rider, whose depressed expression had completely disappeared.

“All right, let’s depart! Don’t worry, I’ll protect you, Master! We’ve made it this far already, so let’s charge in boldly and grab our happy ending!”

In complete reversal from when they’d come here, Rider grabbed Sieg’s arm and pulled him along to go back to the rest of the group. Though a bit confused, Sieg understood that his Servant had somehow cheered up, making him feel relieved.

And at the same time, he held an unexplainable, sad conviction—that having his arm pulled along again and again like this would soon come to an end.

Even if everything went well in every way—Sieg was certain that they couldn’t avoid an eternal farewell.

+++

…Ruler wanted to believe that the pain in her heart was just her imagination. But the hot ache spreading in her chest told her that it wasn’t.

It wasn’t that she was hurt by Sieg and Rider’s conversation. The two of them completely understood each other as Master and Servant. That was a good thing. Mutual misunderstandings between Master and Servant could only lead to tragedy.

She wasn’t narrow-minded enough to be jealous of that. What pained her was just one thing. The words that Sieg had casually said.

+++

“The very fact that I’m standing here right now is already miraculous.”

+++

That’s right. It truly was a miracle. Ruler had brought him all the way here. Of course, it was a path that Sieg had chosen himself. She hadn’t forced him. She’d even rebuked him for it. But in the end, he had arrived here.

It was both his choice and her choice. And yet, she still couldn’t get rid of the feeling that he had arrived here as if intentionally guided here.

Ruler wanted to know the reason for his presence here.

…At the same time, she didn’t want to know. If she learned the reason, she felt as if she would be crushed by guilt for bringing him with her this far.

But what pained her most was the thought of what Sieg himself might think.

If he understood that she had intentionally guided him here, he would probably scorn her. He would loathe her. He would probably see her as a reaper who had pushed misfortune unto him—

She couldn’t bear it.

She was used to being slandered. She’d even experienced people using her and then suddenly coldly abandoning her.

But she couldn’t endure the thought of betraying someone who had believed in her with innocent trust. Even more so since he was the boy who the girl insider her, Laeticia, had feelings for.

Aah—her heart hurt so much it felt like her very veins were in pain from the blood pumping through her heart to the point of bursting.

She wanted to reveal everything to him. She wanted to confess and ask for his forgiveness. But that would just hurt him instead of her.

Besides, it wasn’t certain yet that the worst would happen. Even if it was true that he had reached here due to some higher ‘will’… Even if he was chosen to be the ‘destroyer’ of the Holy Grail, it wouldn’t necessarily require his life to accomplish it.

True, he could turn into Saber of Black, but he wasn’t Saber of Black himself.

All she could do was hold onto that faint hope.

Those black Command Spells, and the impossible phenomenon of a homunculus turning into a Servant, even if for only three minutes. That was a frightening miracle that chipped away at one’s life and had to be sacrificing something in exchange.

Ruler was filled with dread at the thought of what result it would ultimately lead it.

An ending filled with nothing but sorrow—she absolutely wouldn’t allow it to happen.

+++

“…It’s time. We should get going now.”

“Huh? Now that I think about it, what about the pilots? I can pilot a plane, but the remaining nine…”

“Don’t worry. We’ve put golems installed with the skill to pilot in all ten planes. They’re golems that Roche originally created, so their ability is guaranteed.”

Being capable of ‘expanding’ their techniques and abilities after their initial creation according to need was one of the advantages of golems. Fortunately, they still had some humanoid golems that Roche had made left, and it was simple to install abilities that he designed beforehand into them.

+++

“We’ll be boarding this plane, so this is where we part.”

From this point on, Fiore would be acting independently of her Servant Archer.

Since they would surely clash with Rider of Red, who could fly through the skies, before they reached the Hanging Gardens, it was very likely that Fiore would get caught up in their battle if she stayed with Archer.

As much as it made her feel lonely, having Archer ride a different plane was the correct decision.

“…Archer. May the fortunes of war be with you.”

“Thank you, Fiore. I will obtain victory for you.”

Fiore shook her head at her Servant’s words.

“There’s no need to do it for me. It’s you that matters most here. I want you to fight to your heart’s content. —I permit you to use your Noble Phantasm as you see fit. There’s no need to wait for orders from me. If you feel that you should use it, please do so.”

Archer solemnly nodded. Her words meant that she was abandoning any intention of interfering in his battle and was entrusting everything to him. This wasn’t an act of irresponsibility, but rather proof of her absolute trust in her Servant.

“Then, we should get going.”

“Yes… Let’s meet again at the Hanging Gardens.”

They were very curt words of farewell. Fiore stifled the regret at parting inside her—and gave him a final smile as she left his side. She thought that bursting into tears would be shameful. Her Servant also understood that, which was why he didn’t speak to her more than necessary, in order to protect that resolve of hers.

“Archer.”

“Yes. I wish you luck as well, Caules-dono. And, about my Master—”

“No need to even ask… Go beat Rider of Red, Archer.”

Caules ended his farewell with a last wave of his hand. As if nothing had happened between them at all, he then pushed his sister’s wheelchair towards their plane.

“Don’t die, you two!”

The two siblings couldn’t help smiling wryly at Rider of Black’s rude farewell. Caules turned around and called out to him with an exasperated expression.

“Right back at you, Rider. Don’t get carried away and die by mistake.”

“I-I never get carried away! Stupid, stupid!”

“No, you do,” murmured Sieg next to Rider. However, it was certainly true that Rider was stronger when he got carried away than not.

“Caules… Are you really fine with coming?”

Fiore questioned her younger brother one final time as he pushed her wheelchair. Fiore was going off to a deadly battleground out of her sense of responsibility as a Master. But even if Caules was technically Archer’s second Master, it wouldn’t pose much impediment to Archer’s prana supply if he didn’t come.

…That reasoning was correct. It was correct, but Caules still rejected it.

“I’m your younger brother. Isn’t that reason enough?”

—What truly human-like words.

Fiore smiled at that thought. Normally speaking, such upright, human-like words should be avoided by magi. A proper magus wouldn’t and shouldn’t stick their heads into such an absurd situation.

“Besides, it’s not often that a mere magus gets the change to witness magecraft from the Age of Gods.”

And in contrast, those were truly words befitting a magus. Magi wouldn’t risk their own lives so easily. But it was a different matter when it came to magecraft. And the magecraft used by Assassin of Red—Semiramis—were truly miracles from the Age of Gods. If magi could get the chance to witness it, risking their lives was a cheap price.

Hearing that, Fiore nodded, feeling slightly relieved.

Compared to the likes of Fiore, Caules seemed to have much greater self-awareness as their family’s successor and resolve as a magus, irreplaceably important things to have when walking the path of magecraft—

+++

“Then, I’ll be heading off next.”

After seeing off the two siblings, Archer chose the plane he would ride. To him, any plane besides the one his Master rode was fine with him.

In the first place, the planes were merely footholds to Archer, whose job was to intercept Rider of Red.

“Archer!”

Archer turned around at Rider of Black’s call. Rider made the victory sign with his hand at him while wearing a beaming smile.

“Make sure to win! It’s embarrassing if the teacher loses to his student!”

“—Yes, it’s just as you say. I lived a long life, but I’ve never allowed myself to lose to my students even once, at least. In that case, I have to make sure to win.”

After replying that in a light tone, Archer boarded his plane.

“Yeah, in that condition, he’ll probably be fine.”

“In that case, I’ll be going as well.”

After performing consecrations on the planes loaded with explosives, Ruler would be boarding a different plane.

To her, the one unfortunate aspect of this plan was that she would be acting separately from Sieg from here on.

To act as the flagbearer who led the front charge—that was Ruler’s duty in their plan to board the Hanging Gardens.

“Be careful, Ruler.”

Ruler smiled faintly at Sieg’s words. Sieg felt that that smile was oddly sad for some reason.

“Sieg-kun, please try not to anything excessive. I know it goes without saying at this point, but—”

“Transforming a third time is forbidden, right? I know.”

Ruler had repeatedly told him that at every opportunity over the past several days. The way she said it was always strangely pressing, so even Sieg had to nod in acquiescence.

—However, this isn’t a situation where I can likely afford not to transform at some point.

Suddenly, Ruler’s expression became downcast.

“…Even I understand, you know. Under these circumstances, there’s no way you won’t transform, Sieg-kun. You’re unmistakably a Master, and you chose to fight. There’s no way you won’t end up using your power.”

She spoke as if she’d read his thoughts. Sieg sighed. Just as expected, Ruler also seemed to understand. There was no way to stop him besides making him withdraw from the Great Holy Grail War.

The homunculus Sieg had chosen to fight out of his own will. Even Ruler couldn’t stop him with words at this point.

+++

Ruler couldn’t say it. She was too scared to say it, and she understood that, even if she did—his determination would remain unchanged.

+++

Even if you chose to fight not out of your own will, but because of fate?

+++

What if you’ve been caught up in a great unstoppable flow and are subject to a destiny that can’t be resisted?

And what if what aided that process was none than me due to having received a revelation?

“…What’s wrong?”

—What would you think of me then?

“It’s nothing. Then, Sieg-kun, let’s meet again at the Gardens.”

After bidding farewell to him with a smile, Ruler turned her back on Sieg and Rider of Black. She went to board the plane that Fiore had instructed her to, and Sieg tilted his head in puzzlement as he saw her off.

“Is it just me, or did she seem like she wanted to say something?”

“If she had something she wanted to say, Ruler would properly say it. Just now, she probably had something she wanted to say but couldn’t.”

“Do you know what it is, Rider?”

“I don’t. Ah, but, well—”

Rider looked at Sieg with a pleased expression.

“She cares deeply for you. That much is certain!”

Rider grinned and hit Sieg on the back, apparently amused by something. The hit didn’t hurt, but Sieg coughed from having been taken by surprise.

She cares deeply for you. Sieg repeated those words in his mind. Just the fact that she cared deeply for a homunculus like him made him feel happy somehow.

“Now then, Master. Let’s get going too!”

“Yeah… Let’s go, Rider.”

Sieg swore to himself that he would survive this battle. He had to properly ascertain the right timing to use his remaining three transformations—no, if he followed Ruler’s advice, then it was only two transformations.

When they boarded the plane, the interior was naturally empty of any other people. His curiosity-filled Servant went to peek at the golem in the cockpit, but Sieg wasn’t all that interested himself and so just chose a random seat to sit down and wait for their departure.

As he looked around the plane, what caught his eye was an Ouija board that clearly didn’t belong in an airplane. The board had old-style alphabet letters and numbers carved into its surface. Attached on top of it was a needle like that of a record player and a cable, and the other end of the cable was attached to an old-fashioned metal pipe. Sieg surmised that it was a wireless communicator used by magi.

Besides the board, there wasn’t anything else in the plane that had been added or remodelled. There were no defenses against magecraft installed either… Though, considering the power of their enemy, even if Fiore had spent Yggdmillennia’s entire fortune on reinforcing and upgrading the planes, it would only increase the time it took for the planes to be destroyed from ten seconds to fifteen seconds.

Though Sieg had some basic knowledge about airplanes, he hadn’t thought the interior would be so big and spacious. A flight spell was so simple that even a novice magus could learn it. But it had taken ordinary humans two thousand years to create this kind of aircraft without magecraft.

Their advancement was slow, but certain. Meanwhile, magecraft kept going further and further beyond humanity’s limits—but where was that path leading to now?

“Sorry for making you wait.”

As Sieg was internally marveling over the differences between science and magecraft, Rider came back from the cockpit. He cheerfully reported that a big stone spider-like golem was in the pilot’s seat.

“It’s almost time, Master.”

Sitting in the seat next to Sieg, Rider waved his legs up and down in unconstrained excitement.

“Ah, right, it’s probably better to summon him now. Come out, Hippogriff!”

Before Sieg could stop him, Rider summoned his hippogriff. The materialized hippogriff was, as expected, confused by his current surroundings and gazed over the cramped plane interior restlessly.

“Sit!”

Seeming to be well trained, the hippogriff sat down, conspicuously destroying several seats in his way in the process.

“All that’s left is the book.”

Rider materialized his Noble Phantasm—Luna Break Manual: Universal Magic Guide (Temporary Name). Both the hippogriff and the time were Noble Phantasms containing enormous power, and as a result—they were easy to detect if the Red Servants choose to search for prana signatures.

This was another part of Fiore’s plan. Both Archer of Black and Ruler were powerful Servants with strong prana signatures. By having them each protect different planes, it made it harder for the Red camp to concentrate their attacks on a single target.

Archer of Black would intercept Rider of Red and Ruler would intercept Archer and Lancer of Red. And Rider of Black—would tackle Assassin of Red’s temple Noble Phantasm, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon: Aerial Gardens of Vanity, as a rematch after his defeat against her last time.

However, he had been shot down completely after a single attack last time. Therefore—this time, he had to draw out the tome’s true name.

“…Ah. Looks like we’re about to depart.”

Rider noticed that the plane had begun to move. Sieg, who’d been reading the in-flight manual to kill time, dutifully put on his seat belt.

“Is there any point in that?” asked Rider.

“Probably not. If the plane falls, it’ll be due to a Servant’s attack, and even if it falls without being destroyed, you’ll save me, right, Rider?”

“Ahaha, of course.”

As they chatted nonchalantly, they felt a slight pressure weigh down on their bodies. The jumbo jet’s four giant turbo fan engines began to roar loudly.

Suddenly, the Ouija board’s needle began to move. The needle pointed at certain letters and numbers while releasing a creaking sound. After a while, a voice came out of the board.

“Can you hear me, Rider?” said Fiore’s voice.

Rider picked up the transmitter to respond.

“I can hear you. Can you hear me? Testing, testing.”

“…Your voice is too loud. Please move your mouth away from the communicator a bit. Ruler has roughly grasped the location of the Hanging Gardens, but she can’t say when and where we’ll reach it. Make sure to keep on guard, okay?”

“I get it, I get it! It’ll be fine, don’t worry!”

“Naturally, you’ve already remembered the tome’s true name, right?”

“……Yeah!”

“Wait. What was that long pause for—!?”

Click. Rider flipped off the Ouija board’s power and turned his face away in feigned innocence. Then, he seemed to remember Sieg’s presence and trembled a little.

“…It’ll be fine, right?”

“Don’t worry. I believe in you.”

Sieg neither got angry nor laughed, but merely nodded with a serious and honest expression. Of course, he already knew that this was the most effective way to put pressure on Rider. The hippogriff squawked as if to express agreement with Sieg.

“Ufufu. As long as my Master understands what kind of Servant I am, everything is good.”

Rider of Black’s smile was clearly stiff as he replied.

Immediately afterwards, the plane lifted off the ground gently. Sieg looked out the window—the lump of metal they were riding was soaring through the sky at several hundred kilometers per hour.

Below, Bucharest became tiny in the blink of an eye. The people on the streets weren’t even the size of dots at this point. Their forms were indistinguishable amidst the dark town with only the tiny blinking lights from lamps visible.

The plane ascended further. Eventually, nothing could be seen outside the window—Sieg guessed that they were above the clouds now. The plane interior was brightly lit by the cabin lights, but the outside was painted completely black.

For the next while, all they could do was wait. Rider began eating treats he apparently got at the airport while sharing one with the hippogriff. The hippogriff scowled after one taste and spit it out, but Rider continued eating with a beaming smile.

After a while, the Ouija board began moving again—another communication from someone was coming.

“…Sieg-kun, are you there?”

This time, Jeanne’s voice came from the communicator. Sieg picked up the receiver.

“I’m here. What is it?”

“…”

Even though she was the one who had called, Ruler awkwardly sank into silence.

“Ruler?”

“Umm—why do airplanes fly?”

Then, without warning, she threw out that fundamental question.

“Err. They fly due to the flow of air released by the wings, I think. It’d take a while to fully explain, but why do you ask?”

“W-What would happen if the wings were torn off?”

“The plane would decelerate and fall. Of course, the same thing would happen if the engines stalled.”

“Wouldn’t that be really serious!?”

“…It would. Though, we probably wouldn’t have the time to think about that if it actually occurred.”

—More importantly, based on Ruler’s stressed tone…

“Ruler, could it be that you’re bad with airplanes?”

“Yes!”

Her reply was quite vigorous.

“I see… It’s unfortunate, but try to endure it. We can’t stop at this point, after all.”

“Uugh, I know that. I know, but—”

Even if she understood, scary things were scary and unpleasant things were unpleasant. Sieg pondered a little, and then tried to speak to her reassuringly.

“It’ll be over soon… Though, it’d be a real problem if the Hanging Gardens is also no good for you, considering how it floats in in the sky.”

“Ah, that’s not an issue for me. The Hanging Gardens is powered by magecraft and prana, after all.”

From Sieg’s perspective, something flying using magecraft was more untrustworthy than an airplane. A machine didn’t make mistakes. A machine merely got work out and tired; as long as a proper machine was made properly using the proper procedure, it would merely abide by physical laws.

However, it was true that, from the perspective of someone from the 15th century, machines were probably far more untrustworthy than any kind of mysticism. It was common sense to them that metal cracked and broke. Humans had spent hundreds of years making durable metals and advanced to the point of making materials that could withstand precise flight—but its appearance hadn’t changed at all.

“You should trust humans and the science that humans have cultivated a bit more. Well, I might not be in a position to say this as a homunculus myself, though…”

After Sieg said that, Ruler turned silent, as if his words had caught her off guard somehow.

After a while, she let out a small sigh of admiration.

“…You’re right. There’s no point if I don’t believe in what humans had cultivated. The fact that airplanes fly is the crystallization of hard work that doesn’t rely on magecraft. Making a lump of metal like this fly truly is a miracle!”

“Yeah, I get the feeling your trust in it is still a bit shaky, but as long as you understand—”

Sieg cut off his words as he heard Ruler suddenly draw in a sharp breath.

“Ruler?”

“Tell Rider to get ready.”

The hippogriff growled in apparent warning.

“—Oops, looks like this is it. We’ve arrived, Master.”

Upon hearing Rider’s grim tone, Sieg took a moment to take a deep breath. He felt like the air itself was burning. His acute sense of smell as a homunculus detected the huge swirl of prana lying ahead of them.

“All right, get on, Master!”

Rider lightly tapped the hippogriff’s neck and lightly jumped on its back. Rider held out his hand, and Sieg firmly grabbed it.

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TRANSLATOR’S NOTES

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