The moment he was thrown onto the sand, Julius immediately adjusted his posture and was on guard of his surroundings.
Although it happened suddenly, the knight luckily still hasn't lost his edge. However, he no longer felt the dragon carriage that he should have been holding on to. At that time, he probably got blown away along with the carriage and the people.
Julius: [Cgh, Cgph...]
His vision was also obscured by the plume of sand dust in the air, and Julius could only clench his teeth in frustration.
This is an accident. However, he should have been able to do something more. Unable to deal with his regret, he swung his sword to disperse the sand that blocked his vision.
He called out the name of his master who was missing, seeking her response.
Of course, he knows the risks associated with doing so. This place is the Augria Sand Dunes where countless fierce demon beasts live. Not long ago, the group had just seen demon beasts mimicking a flower field. However, rather than avoiding the risk of attracting demon beasts, it is more important to look for his companions who were sucked in by the cracked sky and were scattered everywhere.
At worst, he might have to kill hundreds or thousands of demon beasts by himself. For this, he has cultivated a skill. Rather than being afraid and worried about danger, he should think of how to act.
In this world where almost everything lacks a certain piece, he can no longer lose anything any more...
From a distance, someone was calling his name. Julius watched in the sand, lowered his breath. He then stepped firmly on the sand, and ran towards the large shadow looming on the other side of the dusty sand…. the dragon carriage.
That is the dragon carriage that has been with him all the way during the long journey, sitting in the front of the carriage is...
Julius: [Emilia-sama! Are you alright?]
Emilia: [Well, I'm fine! Beatrice, Meili... and Rem is inside and safe!]
Julius: [That's truly…]
As soon as Julius was about to finish his sentence with "great" to express his peace of mind, Julius' thoughts suddenly halted.
There was a sense of contradictory feeling in Emilia's words. Since she specifically listed the names of those present, there's the implication that some people are not present.
They are exactly the ones who were not mentioned by name--
Julius: [Anastasia-sama, Ram-san... and Subaru are not present?]
Emilia: [....Also, Patrasche-chan is also not present.]
Including Subaru's beloved ground dragon, there are three fewer people here, plus one ground dragon. Upon learning of this, Julius had an illusion as if the world itself was spinning.
It just had to be those three who were missing.
Beatrice: [Emilia! They’re really not around here! The distance I perceive is very far in fact!]
Meili: [Also~, the demon beasts are also getting closer. What are we go~ing to do~?]
Julius continued to bask in his regret, and the two girls walked up from the back of the dragon carriage and entered Julius's field of vision. Beatrice and Meili gave their reports from their respective standpoints.
Beatrice is Subaru's contractor, and Meili is in charge of dealing with the demon beasts.
Emilia: [After being scattered, we were all close to each other. So, Subaru and the others…]
Julius: [No, Emilia-sama, we haven't found anything around. Moreover, the cracks in the sky and the distortion of the space became visible to the naked eye. In that case…]
Emilia: [Maybe they were thrown even farther away? But if everyone was really scattered, everyone should've been farther apart ...Subaru and the others might be together.]
Emilia looked down, her thoughts are filled with hopeful observations, but if it's true, it can be said that the situation is slightly better. For some reason, the ones that were scattered are those who have low combat prowess, but Anastasia and Ram are careful and good at using their wits. The power that Subaru can muster in a crisis should also not be underestimated.
Having said that, the situation is still very urgent...
Emilia and Julius who were anxiously judging their situation raised their heads at the same time.
The two felt a powerful,sharp, and oppressive aura. Before the two could realize what it was, they were hit by the impact.
After the loud bang, the impacted dragon carriage drastically flipped. Emilia, who was in the driver's seat lost her balance, and Beatrice and Meili also screamed due to the sudden rise of sand dust caused by the impact.
However, it was Julius who saw the impact first.
The real cause of the impact is a black-haired woman on the roof of the dragon carriage.
She had tied up long black hair, a thin cloak and clothes that boldly exposed her white skin. The woman slowly turned her head and looked at Julius and the others who stood around the dragon carriage.
A distinctive red pattern appeared in her green pupils, and caught in her gaze, Julius couldn't help but hold his breath.
He had never seen such cold and dry eyes before. She had absolutely no interest in anything reflected in her eyes.
...What can possibly make someone have such an empty state of mind?
Facing Julius who had forgotten to breathe, the woman's head tilted to one side . What came out of her throat was a high but hoarse voice that was the opposite of her beautiful impression.
However, there was no friendliness or hostility in her voice. ...No, there is still a bit of emotion that can be distinguished. It’s...disappointment..
When the woman's head was so crooked that it could no longer be crooked, the woman finally made a sound that had meaning. However, before asking the true intention behind these words, she turned her back to Julius and others. Seeing her knees slightly bent, alarms went off in Julius’ mind.
The impact just now proved that she jumped here from an unknown place. No, it's not that where she jumped form is unknown. In this situation, her starting point is obvious.
She jumped from the destination of their journey, the Pleiades Watchtower. In that case...
It was Emilia who grabbed the woman's legs as she was just about to take off. Obstructed from using her legs, the woman let out a short scream and fell off the roof. The woman fell face first into the sand, and Emilia also rolled into the sand with her.
Julius failed to keep up with this series of unfolding events, and he ran to the place where the two of them landed. As he looked, Julius gasped.
The two who fell into the sand, Emilia and the black-haired woman, faced each other. The woman held her palms at Emilia's face.
Julius instantly saw through the danger. The black-haired woman will release "death" from her palm. It would only take an instant, and Emilia's head would disappear from her neck.
Therefore, Julius should have rushed in immediately to stop...
Emilia: [...Please, listen to me. Our companions are lost.]
Emilia: [They’re all veryyy important people to me. So, I want any clues that can be used to help find them. If you know anything, please tell me. You…]
Emilia desperately and sincerely conveyed her request. The woman looked back at her with her cyan eyes, and the expression on her face changed a little. She frowned slightly and sighed.
Then, she slowly lowered her arm that was aimed at Emilia,
???: [……Coming soon.]
The woman stood up, said a short sentence and fell silent. She turned her back without looking back and walked towards the wind and sand on the other side.
Upon seeing this, Julius relieved his tension and walked quickly towards Emilia. Beatrice and Meili came here as well, but Emilia quickly stood up on the sand.
Beatrice: [Emilia! Are you okay…?]
Emilia: [Everyone! Get in the carriage! We need to catch up to that woman right away!]
Meili: [...? Is it okay to ignore Onii-san and the others?]
Emilia: [No! Of course not, but that woman seems to know something! So…]
Julius: [In order to ask her clearly, we can't afford to lose her. That's what I felt as well, let's hurry up and chase after her.]
Julius chose to believe Emilia's claim and quickly stepped onto the driver's seat. Emilia then picked up Beatrice and Meili and one by one they got into the dragon carriage.
Julius drove the carriage that was fortunately not separated from them. He then chased after the incredibly light-footed and unfathomable woman in the desert. And then...
Anastasia: [...Julius! And Emilia-san, you all are safe.]
In the Pleiades watchtower they managed to reunite with Anastasia and her party. Julius felt relieved and took note of that fact.
A few hours ago, Julius chased after the black-haired woman to the Pleiades Watchtower.
Opening the huge door leading to the tower, the black-haired woman placed the dragon carriage along with Julius and others into the building, she then disappeared, and no one knew where she went. After investigating in the tower for a few hours with caution, the woman appeared again in front of Julius and others.
Moreover, along with the missing Anastasia, Subaru, Ram, and Patrasche.
Julius: [Fortunately everyone is safe…]
Anastasia: [I'm sorry for making you worry. That said, my side also got pretty dangerous. After all, a group of people who couldn't fight were gathered together...but.]
Anastasia, covered in grit, talked with Julius while glancing behind her... Glancing at the dark-haired woman who guided her here.
There wasn't a change in her smart and beautiful appearance, and she didn't care about the glances and consciousness casted on her. To say the only thing that there is a sense of discomfort:
Anastasia: [...It seems that something happened between her and Natsuki-kun.]
Julius: [And Subaru?]
Following the woman's gaze, in her eyes she only focused on one thing. There was a man and a woman, Subaru and Ram, riding on Patrasche's back. The two were completely unconscious and hugging each other, to be more specific, it was Subaru who was hugging Ram tightly.
There were signs of injuries on both of them. Apparently, they had experienced a fierce battle during their separation. At that time, Subaru supposedly wanted to protect Ram, and it turned out to be like this.
Anastasia: [It probably came about while we were underground. We encountered an incredible demon beast there. Natsuki-kun and Ram-san fought hard, but as they were about to lose... At that moment, that woman appeared.]
Julius: [We also came to the tower under her guidance... Have you talked to her?]
Anastasia shook her head as a reply.
Anastasia: [Although there was dialogue similar to negotiations, it was only a one-sided offer. That woman was only planning to take away Natsuki-kun, but I stopped her. I told her that if she doesn't bring me and the others along with her, Natsuki-kun would feel very sad.]
Julius: [So she agreed to help?]
Anastasia: [Strictly speaking, she guided me. Anyways, she helped a lot…]
Anastasia's attitude revealed her extreme exhaustion. Seeing this, Julius once again felt ashamed that he had not rejoiced for their reunion, but instead had asked questions.
Julius: [Anastasia-sama, your safety is better than anything else. Although I have wanted to go outside the tower several times to search for you…]
Anastasia: [Ah, that's great, got it. You don't need to explain, I already know that Julius would've acted that way. Now that we have successfully reunited, don't sweat about the details. More importantly…]
Anastasia paused and looked up at the ceiling, and took in a breath:
Anastasia: [We were able to successfully set foot into the Pleiades Watchtower which no one has done before... It's not bad to have a taste of this sense of accomplishment, right?]
Julius: [...That is true. This is a great achievement that even Reinhard failed to achieve. If only we could've figured all of this out earlier.]
Anastasia: [Alright, no more assumptions. Julius, that's a bad habit of yours. It is true that everything has a good side and a bad side...but you always only look at the bad side. That’s no good.]
Julius recalled the journey, regretted the actions he chose, and wanted to apologize for his incompetence, but was interrupted by Anastasia's words.
Her cute face was stained with seriousness, and her finger pointed at Julius' nose.
Anastasia: [If you are like this, even good signs will turn bad. And... not even I can figure out the attitude and actions of that woman. The two people on Emilia-san's side are also in that state...]
Julius: [...We need to keep our stance even harder, right.]
Anastasia: [Yes, that's the saying.]
Anastasia nodded in satisfaction. Pulled by her attitude, Julius bowed towards her. Then, Julius walked towards Subaru and Ram ...To be precise, towards the woman looking at Subaru.
Perceiving the approach of Julius, she glanced at Julius. Julius knelt quietly in front of her:
Julius: [Thank you for your assistance. Thanks to you, we were able to reunite with our separated companions. I also reunited with my master, I would like to express my sincere thanks to you for all of this.]
Julius: [If possible, I wish to know your name…]
Julius spoke carefully. However, the woman remained silent, responding to Julius with her back.
It's not that she won’t speak. It’s just that she doesn't intend to speak with him. ...Unless one of the participants of the conversation is Natsuki Subaru.
Julius: [...If it was you, you would be able to pry her mouth open.]
Julius turned to look at Subaru who was focused on by the woman. Emilia and Beatrice are currently rejoicing at their reunion with Subaru and Ram.
Emilia: [Ah, Julius! Come and help. I want to check if they are injured, but Subaru won't let go of Ram…]
Beatrice: [There are no major problems with the injuries of these two. However, his strength is far too great in fact...!]
Emilia: [Subaru's chicken arms usually don’t have any strength to them, but now he is holding her so tightly... I can't pull them apart.]
Emilia and Beatrice were extremely troubled by this. Julius went to help, and at the same time sealed his feelings of inadequacy into the bottom of his heart.
Even in this scenario, even after he lost consciousness, Subaru still does everything he can to protect someone.
Julius: [Right now, between you and me…]
Who is more worthy of the title of Knight? Such doubts were also deeply engraved in Julius' heart.