oneill: Claymore - Clare, partially Awakened, leaps to attack Priscilla (Now you have fucked up.)
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[Content Notes]

Scrapped Princess | Canzonetta of the Unforgiven | An Unwavering Bond | Part 3/3

A black radiance danced.

The hyaline walls, which were weathered and fragile to begin with, shattered under slight impacts. The fragments' smooth surfaces reflected the moonlight, glimmering like precious gemstones as they decorated the empty air.

Countless dancing rays of light, like black snow.

Every time their blades sprang forward, every time the soles of their shoes glided across, fragments whirled up, bringing about a translunary beauty that made it unthinkable that this place could be the scene of a life or death struggle.

"You're a persistent bastard, aren't you?"

The shriek of blades pierced the starry sky.

Two weapons, exchanging countless blows in the twinkling of an eye.

Judging the distance between them, Chris focused his fighting spirit in an instant and transferred it to the blade of his halberd, then drove it into Shannon's katana.

It was an attack that could have consigned a second- or third-rate fighter to oblivion in a single blow. While they made excellent use of technique after technique, each worthy to be called a killing blow . . . neither Shannon nor Chris could manage a decisive attack.

Shannon had his offensive magic; Chris had a flexibility and physical strength superior to Shannon's. Each was far too wary of a finishing blow from the other to use any bold moves, which would leave the user wide open.
Translation of caption: 'It's your own fault for not finishing me off.' Chris drove his halberd in toward Shannon.
"It's your own fault for not finishing me off."

Their blades grinding against each other, the two stood face-to-face.

"You could have avoided all this by killing me."

"True. I'm kicking myself for it," Shannon said, sounding annoyed. "But you know, you ought to do something more meaningful with that life of yours I spared."

"I am. I'm using it to save the world," Chris scoffed. "I don't understand you two at all. Just looking at you gets on my nerves. There's nothing I can do about it, seeing your hypocrisy."


"Well, that's what it is, isn't it? You're protecting the one who's going to trigger the destruction of the world, yet you'll come strolling out here just like you're told, all because a passing acquaintance has been taken hostage."

". . ."

"There's no rhyme or reason to the things you do. In the end, what is it you hope to accomplish? What is it you're doing? For what? For whom?"

Shannon did not answer.

"You don't even have the nerve to kill someone--you're not even ruthless enough to let someone die . . . You can't even kill me! Yet you're going to protect the Scrapped Princess? If it comes down to it, you'll kill her yourself? You couldn't possibly manage that! You're just wallowing in the self-satisfaction you get from playing the role of the big brother protecting his poor little sister!"

". . . Maybe I am," Shannon said, very calmly.

His expression stiffening, Chris swung his halberd. As though flung away by the power of his attack, Shannon fell back, putting space between them and bringing his katana back to the ready.

"I can't stand it . . . Just seeing that hypocrisy of yours pisses me off!" Chris yelled, raising his battleaxe overhead.

Striking out with all his might, as though to consign the pretense standing before him to oblivion . . .

Dancing black fragments, glistening as they scattered diffuse reflections of moonlight, like a small, wandering meteor shower as it crashed down to earth from the heavens. Amid that, the life or death struggle that unfolded between the two was beautiful, just as though they were performing a dance.

"You can't--!" Winia choked out, still in a heap on the ground and at her wit's end. Before the echoes of that tempestuous clash of blades, her voice may well have been too small, and yet . . .

"You can't . . . You--!"

Within the darkness was a small child.

Unable to trust anyone. Unable to fall in love with anyone. With only desperate loneliness left in their heart.

Beyond the darkness, a light could be seen.

But the child was not trying to move out of the darkness. Betrayed by those they should have been able to trust above all others, their heart had resigned itself to sweet despair. They had come to fear starting out from the darkness. All they could do was gaze enviously at that light in the distance, with eyes that were dry even of tears.

They clasped both knees to themself, and the face that peeked out between . . . belonged to Chris, and to Winia herself.

"You . . ."

They had just one wish.

A person to stand beside them, there in the darkness, without bothering to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

A person to stand by their side, even if the rest of the world became their enemy.

Reason, common sense, any and every possible constraint that bound people, or else that spurred them to action--an unwavering bond that could transcend all of these things.

A trust that was absolute.

That was what Chris--and Winia, as well--had seen in Shannon and his sisters.

". . . There isn't . . . anything like that."

However, that sort of absolute bond did not exist.

While living with Shannon and his sisters, Winia had come to think that.

They had no expectations of such a thing. They did not try to bind each other up in such a thing. They merely went on putting in the effort that was required for them to continue living together . . . not because anyone had asked it of them, but because that was what they themselves wanted to do.

It was for just that reason that they were able to be together.

"Stop!" Winia screamed.

Chris did not hate Shannon and his sisters. He had only convinced himself that he did.

"You just . . . You just envied Pacifica!"

Winia's scream rang out through the glass valley.

As Chris rushed in, his movements slowed slightly . . . by just the tiniest bit.

In that moment, Shannon took a chance.

"O Battle Maiden, sanctify!"

A batch spell.

A method by which one can use a short incantation to activate a previously registered casting ritual at high speed.

". . . !"

Shannon gritted his teeth and endured the psychological burden of activation.

Shannon was not a mage to begin with.

Though he had magical power, he had no ability to control it. The spell that Raquel had cast on him had formed another, artificial personality--an Emulator--within him, which functioned only to control his magical power.

This was an extremely dangerous technique.

Because it deliberately caused him to lapse into a state of doubled personalities. Remaining in this state for an extended period would blur the boundaries of his own spirit--however strong-willed he was--and ultimately cause a breakdown. The remaining husk of the personality that had once been him would not be able to last.

If that happened, he would lose even the ability to think, and become a person that could only react mechanically to external stimuli.

That was why Raquel hated to cast this sort of spell on Shannon.

Not to mention, this batch spell was something that multitasked several spells, and therefore formed yet another Emulator. As a result, Shannon carried three consciousnesses in his head, and had to bear the burden of them.

It's as tough as I thought it'd be . . .

. . . tough as I . . .

. . . ough . . .

Meanwhile, Chris--his eyes fixed on the spell-casting Shannon--felt assured of victory.

Certainly, a batch spell did activate far more quickly than an ordinary offensive spell. However, even so, the fact that it needed to be aimed after activation remained unchanged.

And so, the battle would be decided in that moment. That was the reason offensive magic was not suited to close combat.

At this distance, a slashing attack would be the quicker.

I've won! he thought, and swung his battleaxe down.

Seeming to abandon the spell, Shannon showed no signs of aiming anything, instead bringing his katana up to meet Chris's attack.

The battleaxe and the katana bit into each other . . .



A harsh sound that seemed to gouge out one's eardrums.

The blade of the katana bit into the huge battleaxe.

It tore right through . . . the katana, through the battleaxe.

Chris stared in disbelief as steel sliced through steel. The katana smoothly severed the steel--as though cutting through butter--and sent the battleaxe flying in pieces.

Astonishment slowed Chris's movements.

Shannon flipped his katana around and smashed it into Chris's abdomen.

". . . !"

Sending up a whirl of black glimmers, Chris fell.

". . . Geez, give me a break," Shannon grumbled as he thrust his katana all the more vigilantly at Chris, who lay with a look of anguish on his face. "I'm done fighting you. If not for Raquel's new casting ritual, I'd have been done for."

What he had used was not an offensive spell.

It was a combat support spell that was almost never used . . . More accurately, it was an improved version of that spell. It was a spell invented for mages (who had inferior physical capabilities) to use in a desperate attempt at close combat against swordfighters and the like.

But to put it bluntly, its ease of use was lacking.

Because however immense a weapon's power, it is meaningless if the one who wields it possesses meager combat abilities.

However, in the hands of Shannon, who was a swordsman at heart, it was a different story. Keeping this in mind, Raquel had improved on it, and then inserted the casting ritual into his consciousness.

Sanctified Blade . . . It accelerated the slashing attacks of swords and katana and simultaneously created a rapidly vibrating virtual blade on top of the real one--a virtual blade that could even cut through steel.

An ordinary blade could not check it. No, even thick steel armor or the walls of a fortress would be no different from butter before this blade.

"You really should kill me this time," Chris said between pain-wracked breaths.

". . . I'm not gonna kill you," Shannon said, returning his katana to its sheath. "If we killed someone to protect her, I got a feeling she might really become a 'trigger of disaster,' you know? At the very least, if someone got hurt because of her, she'd blame herself for it, that idiot princess."

". . ."

"So we decided that we wouldn't kill anyone, and we wouldn't let anyone do any killing. Not even a screwed-up, homicidal brat . . . If that's what you call hypocrisy, then go ahead and call it that."

Shannon said this over his shoulder as he turned his back on Chris and started to walk toward Winia. He probably had no reason not to expect a counterattack from behind, but . . .

". . . It's my loss," Chris said tranquilly.

This unwavering thing was not a bond. It was not trust. It was conviction. Neither relying on someone nor acting for someone else's sake, it was simply the will to follow through on something he felt ought to be.

"This time, it really is . . . my loss."

"If that's what you think, then don't come around ever again."

Even so, that young man--that Guardian--once again sounded as though it were all a hassle to him.

Figures huddled amid the faint darkness. These men all had splendid physiques, the kind whose well-built nature is clear, even when wrapped in clothing. Perhaps due to their short-cropped hair and ash grey cloaks, they gave a strong impression of austerity; however, on the other hand, there was also something about them that made them stand out.

An impression of artificial uniformity. The same hair style, the same clothes, the same bearing, the same build. Their arrangement suggested a hatred of individuality, and had a bizarre air about it.

They were people who had cast aside their individuality as human beings in the beautiful name of their Creed. The governing body of the Church of Mauser had five Offices of Public Engagement under its jurisdiction, and these men belonged to the sixth office . . . which did not officially exist: the unit that oversaw the extermination of key traitors and especially powerful enemies.

The Purgers.

However . . . right now, they were nothing more than four powerless men who had sunk to the ground in exhaustion.

All of their bodies had scars here and there, as though resulting from internal ruptures. Wounds like this come about after being momentarily hit by a powerful lightning strike. This flash of lightning, which races through the body without pause, releases its destructive power the moment that it is discharged from the body.

Moreover, every one of them had had his kneecaps shattered. Depending on their post-treatment physical therapy, they would probably be able to walk again, but their lives as combatants were over.

". . . ye were defeated?"

The men sluggishly raised their heads. Though no expression should have marred their arrogance, a faint weariness and fear clung to it.

Those who acted as agents of divine punishment on earth did not lose. They were not allowed to suffer defeat. Defeat, in other words, undermined the supremacy of the Lord God Mauser. That they might acquire the ability to bring down any target with absolute certainty, they had cast everything aside. For that very reason, defeat deprived their lives of all meaning.
Scrapped Princess - Galil takes hold of a Purger's head, causing the man to undergo a monstrous transformation.
More than any stigma that manifested in their traumatic injuries, the Purgers' defeat ate away at them.

"They are stronger than I thought, these Guardians."

A beautiful shadow, standing against a light.

That figure--which was beautiful enough to inspire awe, even in silhouette--looked down on the men.

"I had not originally intended to intervene directly, but I suppose I have no choice. I cannot entrust this duty to the military, as they do not comprehend the true state of affairs. They are subject to an extraordinary covetousness."

The shadow looked composedly up at the firmament.

"Furthermore, an abominable relic of the old world hath begun to stir. It would be troublesome were it to engage us in earnest."

Moving composedly, the shadow reached out their right hand.

"Now shall I bestow true power on you. By the works of the Lord God Mauser, the Almighty Creator Mauser, shall ye now become truly one."

A song-like voice.

No, it was in fact a song. It was a song of benediction for the advent of a new life.

"I--in the name of Galil1, Fourth Guardian of Order, Envoy of the Lord God Mauser--bestow on you a miracle . . . Rejoice, for now shall ye cast off the husk of your human existence."

Reaching out their right hand, the shadow suddenly seized the face of one of the Purgers.

"Rejoice, rejoice, for now is the hour of your rebirth."

The shadow's fingers stabbed through the Purger's face and sank in.

Deeper, deeper . . . By what technique, by what power on earth could such a thing be possible? The shadow's fingertips seemed to reach as far as his brain.

The Purger's eyes rolled back into his head. It was a natural reaction, but . . . his expression was slack with ecstasy.

"Ah . . . Ahh . . . Ahhgoogiiii . . ."

The faint darkness resounded with a scream . . . no, a baby's first cry.

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1) Galil is the name of a family of small firearms manufactured by the Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) Ltd. It is named after one of its designers, Yisrael Galil (the other being Yaacov Lior). Back

Galil's lines took as long to translate as the rest of the section put together.
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sutepri: Scrapped Princess - Pacifica Casull beams while the sun rises in the background. Also, Shannon's shoulder. (Default)
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