Chapter 84

"Heave-Ho! Heave-Ho!"

It's important to solidify the image in your mind to mold the ice into the shape you want.

When Subaru first suggested 'Ice Brand Arts', Emilia thought it would be very useful, but she wasn't sure if she could do it.

Subaru: [Don't worry! I know Emilia-tan can do it!]

Emilia recalls that Subaru gave her such an anxious smile and a thumbs up.


When Emilia thinks back on it now, that was such an unfounded reason - no, in Subaru's view, it was because he "loved" her, that he pushed her.

In the process of creating ‘Ice Brand Arts’, Emilia studied a lot about painting.


Unlike singing, she wasn't very good at drawing, but even so, she drew more and more pictures with Subaru, she made a lot of progress.

Ram was dismayed to see Emilia drawing with Subaru and Beatrice, Otto chuckled, Frederica and Petra would occasionally mingle with her, and Garfiel would advise her to draw like this. Rosewaal, too saw Emilia and Beatrice drawing side by side, sometimes from a distance.

Memories that Emilia thinks are very, very important and hard to let go of. Memories that may have disappeared from everyone else, but Subaru remembers them. When Emilia thinks about it, she feels a warm feeling in her heart.

Emilia: [I'll turn that feeling into courage.]

Driven by feelings that were bubbling up, Emilia took the ice weapons she had created and the seven ice soldiers who were advancing with her to confront the Divine Dragon Volcanica.

As previously explained, the image in your mind is important in shaping ice. It is the same for the weapons, and even the ice soldiers that are created. After all, the ice soldiers were made in the form that Emilia had envisioned a knight would look like.


It was the seven Natsuki Subaru ice soldiers who would be fighting alongside Emilia.

Emilia: [But they're more powerful and faster than the real Subaru!]

Subaru is also competitive in terms of perseverance and energy, but his construction is fundamentally different from the soldiers made of ice.

The strength of the soldiers depended on the density of mana Emilia had given them, and they could not be compared to simple ice statues. Just like ice weapons, even steel would not be comparable.

Emilia: [Go!]

Following Emilia's instructions, the lead ice soldier came into range of Volcanica.


Volcanica didn't move while leaning against the watchtower, a large pillar in the center of the first floor.

A moment later, the dragon's blue tail moved at high speed, as if it had sensed the ice soldiers’ intention to take the pillar.


There was a strange sound that could only be described as a hole in the wind, and immediately afterwards the top half of the lead ice soldier's body shattered into tiny pieces of ice. The direct hit was in the chest area, and the ice soldier's torso was smashed in half, and the Subaru-like head was blown off.

Emilia: [I'm sorry! But that means Volcanica will defend the pillar even if it's not me approaching.]

Emilia feels bad for the Ice Soldier who was used as a pawn, but now she knows exactly what Volcanica's aim is.


Although the Divine Dragon has become demented and has inadvertently forgotten about the 'test', he is still alive with the intention of intercepting any opponent who is clearly trying to face the pillar.


With or without life, Volcanica would defend the pillar.

Emilia: [Soldiers, please!]

In response to Emilia's voice, the ice soldiers jump out in front of the silver-haired girl.


The first one was shattered, and the six remaining ice soldiers were scattered in different directions.

Volcanica: [Thou who came to the top of the tower. Step forward, petitioner of the almighty.]

Sensing the presence of the approaching ice soldier, the 'divine dragon' once again repeated his speech.

Emilia remembered the strong sense of desolation and the sadness that scratched her heart at the sight of him doing that, repeating a meaningless string of words, to a girl who could not understand them.


Volcanica is trying to protect 'something'.


Emilia doesn't know who or what it was, for what promise made, and for what purpose but….

Volcanica: [I am Volcanica. I am Volcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would reach the top.]

Volcanica swung his tail into two ice soldiers in the blink of an eye.


In a spur-of-the-moment reaction, the two ice soldiers took a defensive stance, but one was blown off from the waist down and the other one was blown off from the right half of his body, and collapsed without being able to defend properly.

Then, the remaining four ice soldiers attempt to prevent Volcanica’s tail from moving back into an offensive stance.


Currently, Volcanica's means of intercepting them were limited to a single strike by the tail. Volcanica did not seem capable of moving his legs. If Volcanica was in a state where he was unable to stand up, Emilia would only have to stop the tail.

Emilia: [Stand firm!]

Aiming to stop the movement of the tail, three ice soldiers squared their shoulders side by side.


The tip of Volcanica’s tail sweeps away the ice soldiers all at once. The mechanism was similar to the whip wielded by Subaru, but it’s speed and power are orders of magnitude greater. Subaru’s whip can easily be grabbed by Emilia’s hand, but not the dragon's tail strike.

The Divine Dragon unleashes a power comparable to the full strength of most living creatures, with the casualness of dispelling insects.


The tail strikes at the three ice soldiers, who had fallen side by side, together. However, they were not crushed. Behind three hunched over ice soldiers, a wall of ice arose to support them.


The corner of the ice soldier's mouth, which resembled a boy with a nasty look in his eyes, opened as his entire body cracked. Then, from behind the three that had stopped the blow, the last ice soldier, that had been assigned to standby, pounced.

The last ice soldier wielded a special type of polearm. Emilia believed Subaru had called it a sasumata.

At the tip of its long spear-like hilt, there is a curved bracket attached to it that is used not to stab the opponent, but to seize him, and it is said to be called a criminal catching tool.

The sasumata is used to thrust down and hold the tail of the 'divine dragon' to the floor.


The tail of the Divine Dragon is as thick as a log, even at its thinnest point, and it's impossible to stop it with a single stab, so the other three cracked ice soldiers stab at it. Volcanica’s tail stopped.

Volcanica: [Thou who came to the top of the tower. Step forward, petitioner of the almighty.]

Immediately afterwards, there was a sound of the world being scraped away, and the four high-fiving ice soldiers were destroyed.


From the waist up, the top half disappeared cleanly, leaving only the lower half of the ice soldiers to collapse. It wasn’t the tail that had launched the counterattack, rather it was a set of claws. Volcanica, who had been lying on the floor, used his left forepaw instead of the tail. Just like that, Emilia's ice soldiers were instantly forced to disappear.


Emilia had been tricked.

Emilia: [If your tail and limbs are healthy why isn’t your head healthy?!]

Volcanica [I am Volcanica. I am Volcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would reach for the top.]


Despite being told this, Emilia's bold spirit is unbreakable. The ones that were broken were only the ice soldiers, although of course, it was a little painful.

Emilia: [It’s okay! It's not like I didn't expect this to be difficult.]

Emilia gets into range of Volcanica’s tail, believing that the ice soldiers hadn’t been destroyed in vain.


However, the sasumata that held the tail down was still intact, and it was worth the sacrifice of the four ice soldiers. Of course, instead of the tail, the front paws would be aiming at Emilia, but...

Emilia: [The range of legs are shorter than the tail, right?]

Faster than its claws can catch Emilia, an ice spear passes by Emilia and closes in on the Divine Dragon.

It was from an ice soldier that had reconstructed itself behind Emilia. Emilia can create up to seven Ice Soldiers, but they can be remade each time they are crushed. In other words, the Ice Soldiers can stand up as many times as Emilia can until her strength is exhausted.


That's just like the real Natsuki Subaru.

Volcanica: [Thou who reached the top of the tower. Step forward, petitioner of the almighty]

Emilia: [Take this!]

Ice spears rain down upon Volcanica. In response Volcanica raises his front paw into the front of the icy barrage. What follows is a strong gust of wind that raves throughout the first floor, rushing towards Emilia and her ice soldiers.

Emilia: [.....]

Emilia squints her amethyst eyes as she holds her ground against Volcanica’s assault.

The central pillar that Volcanica guards is sturdy, and Emilia has yet to even take a closer look at the pillar. From a distance, it appears to be no different from the other six pillars, but there had to be something special about it.


However, Emilia's main focus here is not so much the central pillar itself but rather …..

Emilia: [What's above the pillar!]

Standing against the roaring winds, Emilia begins to sprint towards the pillar.


It's still too far away to take any kind of action against Volcanica or against the pillar. But it's fine, she had a plan.


An ice soldier, who is regenerating from his initial crushed state, sits back and holds his hands in place. The ice soldier catches Emilia's feet with both hands and helps her leap up into the air.

Hold the tail, draw attention to the pillar, and leap towards the top of the pillar


Emilia rarely does this as well, but after reaching this place, Emilia's intuition told her that what she had to reach was the top of the tower.

With a great leap with the help of the ice soldier, she jumped onto Volcanica's head. Emilia jumped again to reach for the pillar. But then ….

Emilia: [What?...]

Emilia feels a hot sensation below her feet as she reaches her fingers on the pillar.

Emilia's ice soldiers had been annihilated by a hot blaze.


The one unit that had helped Emilia leap, the four that had been throwing ice spears to cover it, and the two that had been running to stab at Volcanica’s tail with sasumatas, all disappeared at once.

And the one that did this was not Volcanica's tail or front legs.

Volcanica: [I am Volcanica. I am Volcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would reach the top.]


With the repetition reaching her ears again, Emilia’s fingers rested on the pillar. Desperately trying to hold herself in place, Emilia looked down at the scene below.

Smoldering white smoke rose from various places, and the ice soldiers that should have existed were not even left behind. That much heat, that much power, that much annihilation, the breath of the Divine Dragon Volcanica burned everything away.

Emilia: [His tail and limbs are fine, and he can even blow fire!]

Volcanica: [You have reached the top of the tower. You have reached the top of the tower, thou shalt tread on the first floor, petitioner of the Almighty.]

Emilia: [Okay! Yes, sir! Okay, I'll go to .......]

Emilia's eyes widened in the middle of her reply. Slowly, the twin eyes of The Divine Dragon looked upwards, and the golden eyes mirrored Emilia's. And then--.

Volcanica: [I am Volcanica. I am Volcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would go to the top.]

As he said this, Volcanica stood in place, spreading his blue wings.            


Emilia: [Oh, this is bad!]

Realizing the danger of the events below her, Emilia hurriedly reached for the top of the pillar.

In the meantime, Volcanica pulls out his tail that had been stopped by the sasumata and begins to flap his wings.

He is going to fly.

Since it is the Divine Dragon Volcanica, it is natural for him to fly, but since Emilia had never seen a flying dragon, it seemed surreal.


In the first place, could a creature with such a large body really fly?

Emilia: [I've only seen Puck or Roswaal fly, and .....]

It was only natural that Puck, who is a spirit, and Roswaal, who is a top tier wizard, could fly.


According to what Emilia heard, there are flying dragons in the southern Volakia Empire, like earth and water dragons, so is Volcanica like those flying dragons? Or is it a mistake to think that all dragons are the same?

Emilia: [Either way this is not good, not good at all!]

While calling out, Emilia clambers to the top of the pillar at the highest speed she could muster.

Volcanica: [Thou who has reached the top of the tower. Step on forward, petitioner of the almighty.]

It was no illusion that the voice sounded closer than before. It's not below Emilia, but rather, it is a pronouncement that came from her level.

With its blue wings spread out, an unbelievable giant is flying in the air. The "Divine Dragon" Volcanica is imposing, its undiminished presence floating in the sky. It's an intimidating presence, from the menacing feeling it emits, to the glare in its eyes, to its tail and paws, to its breath, the legends of the Divine Dragon did not betray it . The only thing that betrayed it was--.

Emilia: [I'm going to the top, so that maybe you and I won’t be enemies!]

Volcanica: [I am Volcanica. I am Volcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would reach the top.]

The Volcanica's tail strikes above Emilia, who clung to the pillar as her ears were subjected to the Dragon’s roar.


Gasping for breath, Emilia bit down on her back teeth, and with the help of a scaffolding that never existed, she jumped over the slammed tail.

Emilia: [Nyaah!']

With this application of "Ice Brand Arts" rather than clinging to a pillar and scrambling up it, Emilia can attach a scaffold to the side of that pillar and run up it to increase her speed.

Emilia: [Now with my arms free….!]

Emilia brandishes two swords made of ice and strikes at Volcanica’s tail.


Emilia's arms were vigorously numb from wrist to elbow, and it was unlikely that she would be able to make a new weapon for several seconds before she recovered.

However, unlike the damage Emilia had suffered, Volcanica only wagged his tail.


The 'Divine Dragon', which continues to take the same altitude as Emilia, wags his tail and tries to beat down - no, crush - the reckless opponent who was trying to attack the pillar.

Emilia: [....]

Against that looming tail, Emilia choked.


If that tail knocks Emilia down she may not have the energy to try to attack the pillar again. Emilia can't afford to be hit by that tail attack.

Emilia: [Still, I have to do my best!]

Emilia can't use her hands. But she can move her feet. she can point her foot upwards.


She created a foothold to go up, but it's not enough. There is a limit to how much ice magic she can do at once. She can't waste too much mana.

Emilia: [Allright!]

Volcanica: [Thou who has reached the top of the tower. Step forward, petitioner of the almighty.]

Another tail shot rapidly approaches Emilia.


Emilia manages to avoid it with the help of a foothold. Emilia then reaches out to a new scaffolding that reaches back out to Emilia with an outstretched hand.

Emilia: [Please, my soldier!']

In response to Emilia's voice, an ice soldier with similar features to Subaru, but only the upper half of him, reaches out.


It was not just a foothold, but a dependable ally, the ‘Path of the Ice Soldier’, which grew only its upper body one after another on a pillar.

Because all she has to do is grow the upper half of the body on the pillar, there is no need to create legs, so she can add more than seven of them. After growing about ten bodies on the pillar at once, Emilia went up the pillar with their help.

Emilia: [Allright, here I go!]

Emilia climbs to the top of the pillar, with the help of the icy Subaru’s. All the while, Volcanica tries to interfere with Emilia, but it is also the ice soldiers of the pillar who get Volcanica’s attention.

Volcanica, trapped in the habit of defending the pillar, cannot leave the ice soldiers attached to the pillar alone.


The ice soldiers throw their ice swords and axes at the airborne Volcanica, and the Divine Dragon retaliates, hunting down the pillar's ice soldiers one by one with its tail and paws.


But in the meantime, Emilia goes up and up and up the pillar - and

Emilia: [Almost there.]

Emilia’swas finally near the top of the pillar


Emilia should be able to reach the top floor of the tower in another 10 meters or so. The upper part of the pillar was curved like a grail, and looks to be extremely difficult to climb up .


Even for someone who is good at mountain climbing, the situation would be a struggle, but fortunately, Emilia was good at climbing trees. In the past, she used to be scolded by Fortuna and Guese for climbing around too much.

Emilia: [My fingers don’t feel so numb anymore.]

Emilia regains the feeling of her fingers and takes on the curved pillar in front of her.


She grabs an ice soldier's hand, which grows upside down from the curved pillar, and lifts her up in the air. Thanks to the ice soldier's help, the climb is steady. Only an obstruction from Volcanica could ruin it.

Emilia: [....]

Volcanica: [I am Volcanica. I am Volcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would reach the top.]

Volcanica's tail strikes the pillar with a thud, causing the pillar to shake violently. The impact of the strike was felt through the entire pillar, uprooting and cracking the upper body ice soldiers growing from that pillar, destroying them all at once. The damage even extended to the ice soldier that had formed on the curved structure that had tried to lend a hand to Emilia.

Emilia: [Ahhhh!]

The hand that grabbed her snapped off and Emilia's body fell without support. The wide-eyed ice soldier tried desperately to stop it, but his other hand couldn't reach her.


A floating sensation instantly enveloped Emilia's entire body, ruining the climb she had worked so hard to do

Emilia: [Kyah!]

Emilia was supposed to fall down the height of the pillar she was trying to climb, dozens of meters. However, something caught Emilia's buttocks unexpectedly quickly as she gasped.


It wasn't an iceman. All the ice soldiers that grew on the pillar were crushed.


Her hand was touching something very lumpy and hard and …..

Emilia: [Could it be?]

Volcanica: [Thou who has reached the top of the tower. Step on forward, petitioner of the almighty.]

A voice was delivered close to Emilia, the breeze in the high sky confirmed the feeling under her buttocks. From the proximity of that voice, Emilia belatedly understood that she had fallen on the back of the Divine Dragon Volcanica.

Emilia: [I can’t just sit here!]

She could use Volcanica as a stepping stone and attach herself to the pillar again.


Emilia thought so, but that would be easier said than done. Flapping his wings, Volcanica rises, writhes, and tries to shake Emilia off.

Emilia: {Woah!]

Emilia desperately clings to the dragon's back as she endures the wind that hits her whole body. Until now, Emilia has never felt such a physical wind. Each scale is large and strong, Emilia clings to it like a rock, but she can't hold on to it for long.

On top of that, the Volcanica is just flying freely in the sky. He is not launching a strike from his tail or a blow from its paws, much less a breath of fire. He is just flying with momentum, trying to shake off the clinging Emilia. Emilia had to hold on though. There was just too much to lose.

Emilia: [I won’t be able to see Subaru and the others again.]

Emilia opens her mouth unwisely, wind bursts through her lungs. Turning over, she grits her back teeth and Emilia thinks of the people she cares for and looks forward to seeing again. The desire to get back with her friends gives her the courage to look up.

Emilia: [.....]

Despite being swallowed by strong winds, Emilia pushes her eyelids open with all her strength. Emilia dares to open her amethyst eyes to find a way to take advantage of her power and win.

When people are about to be crushed by fear and anxiety, they tend to close their eyes.


But the people Emilia had thought back on, the people she cared about, were not those kinds of people. She would not close her eyes. They would remain open. To reach something, to take someone's hand, and ....

Emilia: [Well, that's strange.]

It was a scene dominated by blue on all sides, up and down, left and right, everywhere.


This was probably due to the fact that Emilia was in the sky, higher than the clouds, and the Divine Dragon that Emilia clung to was clad in brilliant blue scales.


Other than that, everything else is passing by so fast that even Emilia's peripheral vision can't capture it all. Therefore, what Emilia's consciousness captured was a completely blue world.

Volcanica: [I am Volcanica. I am Vulcanica, and by the ancient pact, I challenge the aspirations of all those who would reach the top.]

Volcanica is flying while trying to free himself of Emilia.


Apparently, it is around the base of that Volcanica's wings that Emilia is clinging to. Strangely enough, the dragon isn't so busy moving its wings. Birds and insects are supposed to need the flapping of their wings to fly, but the principle of dragon flight seems to be different from those.


It must be similar to the way Puck and Rosewall fly.

Emilia: [The reason Puck and Roswaal could fly was because of magic.]

Emilia has an idea, she had never tried it on Roswaal and she doesn’t think she ever will.

Puck was a different story however. Emilia had spent much of her time with Puck, one of the dearest members of her family. He has been away from her for the past year, and Emila often missed him very much. There were even times when she felt like crying at night, but her memories kept her going. And those memories gave Emilia hope even at times like this.

Emilia: [Maybe, just maybe, you don't like being tickled, either?]

Pressed open, Emilia’s amethyst eyes catch the long neck of the writhing Divine Dragon. Underneath the chin of that great dragon, amidst the dense growth of blue scales, there is a single white scale.

The days spent playing with Pack flashed through Emilia's mind.

Puck: [No! Lia. If you do something that crazy, it will disrupt your concentration, right?]

Emilia: [I know, Puck.]

With that response, Emilia concentrates her consciousness.


Again, in the strong wind, Emilia does not have the power to directly reach those white scales. However, what she learned from the pillar can be put to use, even if the opponent changes from inorganic to organic.

Emilia: [.....Soldier!]

Beyond Emilia's awareness, the ice soldiers appear again around the white scales.


The ice soldiers, who supported each other firmly with only their upper bodies, slowly extended their hands to the white scales--.

Volcanica: [----?]

-For the first time, Emilia heard a voice other than the 'divine dragon' repetitive statements.


There is a word for it: gyakusha, the reverse scale.

The word originates from an old Chinese legend, which says that the mythical dragon has only one scale on its neck that must not be touched, and it is called the gyakusha, reverse scale. It is said that a dragon that is touched on the gyakusha is enraged and will surely kill its opponent. The word gyakusha came from this legend to describe touching a part of the opponent that should not be touched.

Of course, Emilia had no way of knowing the origins of such a different world's legend.


The purpose of trying to touch the white scales on the dragon's neck was to disrupt the concentration of her opponent, who was flying around vigorously trying to shake Emilia off, and create an opening.



Emilia: [Kyah!]

The heavens and earth spun around as Emilia screamed and was thrown into the air.


However, this time the floating sensation was even shorter than when she fell on the dragon's back earlier. Taken in by the hard impact, Emilia quickly rolls over. She then quickly stands up on the spot and looks around at her surroundings.

Emilia: [.....]

Emila takes a rough breath. Fortunately, there is no sign of a sudden attack coming towards Emilia. And that's no surprise. Volcanica was much, much higher up.

Emilia: [.....]

Perhaps he didn't like being touched on the white scales so much, but Volcanica was writhing in agony as he rose into the high sky. Volcanica let out a scream that echoed throughout the sky, and Emilia couldn't help but roll her eyes.

Emilia: [Puck would be pleased.]

However what makes people pleased is different for each person.


Emilia checks her body for damage. The blood flow in her body was a little out of whack due to being swung around so much by Volcanica's back. In some cases a blockage of blood flow could cause the brain to lose its vision, but Emilia was just barely able to hold out.


And after confirming this, Emilia realizes.

Emilia: [....Ah! Here?]

Looking around, Emilia's realized she was one level higher than when she arrived on the first floor. The absence of the six pillars that should be around is proof that Emilia has reached above the tips of those pillars. In other words, this place is the top floor.

She had reached it by being swept off Volcanica's back.


The top layer of the Pleiades Watchtower, an unheard of place, finally--.

Emilia: [Yes! It was worth the effort!]

Emilia clapped her hands in front of her chest and then quickly rushed to the center of the top floor. If she faltered, the writhing Volcanica would come back for her. Emilia has to find a way to complete the 'test' to help Subaru and the others before that happens.

Emilia: [Please, give me a problem I can understand….]

Volcanica forgetting the 'test' was a big problem, but the problem for Emilia was also whether or not she could solve the 'test' of the first floor in the first place.


Fearing that, Emilia went to the center of the top floor. Then, she reached the base of the pillar that stretched from there to the heavens and opened her eyes.

There it was. A feature that was not present in the six pillars, one level below. There was indeed a strange feature that was only found in this top level, the central pillar. It was--.

Emilia: [Whose handprint is this?]

On the top level of the Pleiades Watchtower, at the base of the central pillar, was a black monolith. And on that black monolith was stamped a handprint. Six, different handprints were stamped on it.