Campione! / Campione! Vol 14 Chapter 1


Chapter 1 – Tuscan Prelude
Part 1
A hectic journey running all over the place —
That was how one could summarize Kusanagi Godou’s expedition to Italy’s
Tuscany.
Basically, Godou had battled the divine beast at the end of his journey
although his memories of this segment were rather vague. Conversely, the
matter of “traveling to so many places in such a short time” left a far
greater impression on him.
Not long after Kusanagi Godou became a godslayer…
Shortly after he dueled his kin, Salvatore Doni, by the shore of Lake Garda
in northern Italy…
On that very morning, after parting ways with Doni, Godou was confronted
with Erica’s invitation.
‘Hey Godou, let’s go slay a divine beast after we reach Milan, how’s that?’
Godou began a journey in order to decline this invitation.
More accurately, he fled. His destination was northern Italy’s ancient city of
Verona, the stage where the story of Romeo and Juliet was set.
This town not only neighbored Lake Garda but also possessed an
international airport.
As soon as he entered Verona, Godou dashed his way straight towards
the airport.
An ancient city with a long history, Verona was the site of the Roman
amphitheater, the Verona Arena, which remained in use for activities even
in the modern day. The city also had deep connections to the great writer
Dante. Furthermore, there were many astounding churches, cathedrals
and other architecture.
Despite being a town where one could hardly resist a quick sightseeing
tour, Godou resolutely rejected temptation.
Were he to stop here, he would surely be caught by Erica.
Then with his personal freewill completely ignored, he would be forced to
accept this amazingly attractive girl as his lifelong partner —
Come to think of it, that would certainly be a sweet and blissful future.
Nevertheless, it was only natural for a student to have doubts over
committing his future by the May of his first year in high school. Without
even listening to the details of the “divine beast slaying,” Godou went
directly to the airport. This was an instantaneous act he undertook just as
he was about to be devoured by Erica’s overwhelming charm.
In any case, after escaping fortuitously, Godou finally managed to board
the last flight scheduled that morning.
However, he still could not let down his guard before the plane took off, in
case Erica tried to prevent him from leaving the country.
Nevertheless, Godou’s plane managed to take flight without incident, lifting
off successfully.
“All that worrying for nothing…”
Seated on the plane, Godou muttered to himself.
With this, that Erica girl would probably have no choice but to give up.
What an absurd itinerary. To go slay an unidentified monster the next day
after fighting the Campione who stood as Europe’s strongest swordsman?
That would have been way too much no matter what.
Besides, Kusanagi Godou was a pacifist. He would rather keep a
respectful distance away from such meaningless combat…
While Godou was contemplating these affairs, the plane reached
Switzerland’s Zurich Airport. He would then take a transfer flight to Tokyo
from here.
Since there were three hours until his next flight took off, he had to find a
way to kill time.
Hence, Godou ordered a coffee at a cafe in front of a duty free shop. A
long-missed moment of peace —
Then Godou was greeted with a sudden reunion.
“Oh dear, to think I would run into you in a place like this, Godou. What
wonderful serendipity!”
Approaching this way, Erica deliberately emphasized the element of luck in
her exclamation.
The smile appearing on her lips was like the devil’s through and through.
“Hoho. Surely this must be the gods rewarding me for my many benevolent
deeds.”
“Hold it right there, Erica. This feels as though you took the same flight as
me. If that were not the case, your presence here cannot be explained.”
Certain imaginings surfaced turbulently in Godou’s mind.
Such as a passenger poisoned for the sake of obtaining a seat on the fully
booked flight, followed by a scene of a blonde beauty nonchalantly sitting
down on a vacated seat.
These were delusions. Nevertheless, Erica was perfectly capable of doing
that.
“I didn’t do anything illegal or immoral, okay? I asked an old acquaintance
for a favor and borrowed a private jet, that’s all.”
“1-1 see.”
Godou was relieved to hear this unexpected answer.
However, Erica put on a smile with deliberate affectation.
“Be that as it may, should you happen to continue ignoring my myriad
entreaties, Godou, the flight to Tokyo might very well run into some trouble.
The pilot might suddenly feel unwell, for example.”
“!?”
“Should that be the case, Godou, you’ll be trapped here. Oh dear, so many
people will be inconvenienced.”
“Are you threatening me!?”
“Of course not. I would consider this a lover’s willful request.”
Sitting down beside Godou, Erica suddenly leaned over.
Godou could feel her astoundingly attractive body tightly against him.
Separated only by the reddish blonde hair, her face also pressed close.
Godou could even smell the fragrance of her perfume.
Faced with this helpless and lamentable situation, Godou could feel
himself unsettled greatly. His heart was pounding like mad.
For a high school boy whose age equaled the number of years without a
girlfriend, this was the absolute unbearable limit.
“Moreover, I am actually quite willful, you know? How could you leave your
lover behind without a single hug or farewell…”
“For someone like me who is merely using radical measures to hold back
her beloved, impatient for their next reunion, I’m certain the sympathy of
most Italians would side with me, wouldn’t you agree?”
“B-But the fact is, you’re calling us lovers on your own accord.”
“True, when clearly our relationship has reached the point where we have
brought our lips madly together in the past, and even shared beds for the
night?”
“B-But that was necessary for fighting gods and that idiot Doni.”
Godou knew it. The awareness of sharing “no ordinary relations” with Erica
still lurked somewhere in the back of his mind.
Consequently, the resolution behind his objections was compromised.
Furthermore, his inability to push away the passionate body she was
leaning tightly against him stemmed purely from a difference in arm
strength.
Using mysterious magic to strengthen herself, Erica was able to command
monstrous strength even beyond that of heavyweight wrestlers.
“Then there is the latest news I obtained merely by chance.”
Hearing Erica’s low whispers in his ear, Godou’s body stiffened even more.
His cheeks felt hot.
But after listening to the news she recounted, he immediately tensed his
expression.
“An eel-like monster surfacing in Tuscany… Previously, it was only sighted
in the depths of mountainous forests, but last night, it made an appearance
at the ruins of a medieval fort and apparently went on a rampage.”
“Did it attack humans!?”
“No issue there for now, for it’s a desolate site akin to historical ruins.
However, there are towns nearby so it does pose a risk.”
“This is not as simple as a mere ordinary giant beast…”
A divine beast. A type of creature similar to the [Boar] summoned by
Verethragna’s authority. Godou was completely surprised to learn that a
creature resembling an UMA could live quietly, making its residence deep
in the mountain woods.
“Since Doni lives near there, I’d rather have him handle it.”
“You’re not wrong on that point, no doubt about it. But do realize that it
could develop into a serious situation. If you really leave it to him, Sir
Salvatore’s existence itself is a great source of trouble.”
“That’s totally ridiculous. You mean he’s a double-edged sword, huh…”
Rather than taking care of problems, Salvatore Doni was clearly more
adept at causing them.
Realizing what Erica meant, Godou nodded.
“Currently, the magic associations of Florence intend to handle the
situation. However, if this monster really is a divine beast-class creature…
They cannot be allowed to shoulder the responsibility. They are incapable
of shouldering it…”
Erica was currently sitting on Godou’s lap quietly. While feeling the
sensations of her weight and body temperature, Godou recovered his
calm.
“The only ones capable of facing off against the gods and their
possessions are the Campiones. Namely, only you and your kin, Kusanagi
Godou, understood?”
Faced with this notification which sounded like a challenge to his
magnanimity, Godou had no choice but to accept his fate.
Kusanagi Godou was a pacifist. One who kept a respectful distance from
pointless combat. But at the same time, he was also a man with a greater
sense of responsibility and aspirations to serve the public good than
ordinary people.
Thus, Godou’s third emergency trip to Italy was decided.
The flight from Zurich to Milan was roughly one hour long.
Part 2
“Worse comes to worst, should our opponent really turn out to be a divine
beast, we have two options available. Either we put our lives on the line in
an attempt to slay the enemy or put our lives on the line to stall for time.”
These words were spoken by Clarens, Erica’s colleague. Sporting a
shaved head, he was a Dutchman of African descent.
“Let me clarify beforehand. These options are only available provided we
form a hit squad consisting only of multiple Great Knight-class magi like us.
Unless this condition is fulfilled, evacuating and praying to God would be
the only course of action.”
“In short, our enemy is totally absurd.”
The current location was a lounge in the headquarters of Milan’s [Copper
Black Cross], reserved for members of the core leadership.
The room exuded an air of luxury. Not only were there everyday
furnishings such as couches but it was even equipped with a private bar
and a billiards table. This was where Godou currently faced three other
people.
Since Erica had gone off to another room to get changed, all the people
present were male.
One of them began to discuss the challenge of fighting divine beasts.
“Yeah. Furthermore, the Campione is precisely the transcendent existence
that this kind of divine beast cannot hold a candle to.”
“Isn’t the description, ‘transcendent existence,’ a bit too exaggerated…”
“Oh no, it’s only because you’ve repeatedly engaged in absurd battles of
that sort, your senses are getting warped.”
This time, the speaker was Gennaro Gantz.
Despite his short stature, he was quite a brawny young man. With a head
of black hair and a bearded face reminiscent of a pirate’s, he looked like he
was in his latter thirties. In actual fact, he was only twenty-odd years old.
He carried an unrefined air about him.
“Disregarding the various Campiones who stand as kings, the only person
belonging to the human realm and capable of soloing a divine beast is
probably Paolo. Even so, it would still be a great battle where one must be
prepared to accept the possibility of death.”
Paolo — Paolo Blandelli. Godou had heard that he was Erica’s paternal
uncle and legal guardian.
Godou turned his gaze towards the third person present whose name was
just mentioned. The man was smiling wryly.
“Allow me to object to the accuracy of that statement. Aside from me, there
are plenty of others who have reached that level of power.”
“But purely in regards to expertise in combat against divine beasts, you are
considered the indisputable master, right?”
“That’s only because I’ve grown accustomed to it. Due to some personal
ties to one of your kin, the Campiones, I ended up encountering divine
beasts relatively often.”
While speaking, Paolo turned to face Godou halfway through.
Godou was surprised by the gaze of Paolo’s clear eyes of blue. After the
flight from Zurich landed at Milan’s Marpensa Airport, Godou had arrived at
the [Copper Black Cross] headquarters half an hour earlier.
This was his first time meeting Erica’s dear uncle.
As expected of a man whose niece was such a beauty, his face was quite
handsome too.
His stately demeanor was coupled with a refined manner of speech. Long
hair draped gently over his shoulders while a bit of stubble had gathered
about his mouth. In addition, he was quite strongly built.
Even dressed casually in a long-sleeved t-shirt with a parka, his muscular
body, steeled through and through, was quite conspicuous.
But more than his appearance, it was Paolo’s comportment that held
Godou’s gaze of fascination.
Paolo was very dignified. Despite his slightly rough appearance and casual
attire, nothing could detract from his inborn sense of dignity. Rather, it
helped to serve as a foil for contrast.
Gallant, intellectual, handsome, noble —
Until Paolo, Godou had never met anyone who embodied the “knight”
concept so thoroughly.
“Please, everyone, there’s no need to show excessive respect to someone
like me. Not to mention, I’m also the youngest person here. Please
converse with me normally.”
The three men present were different from Salvatore Doni.
Feeling particularly uncomfortable about the privileged treatment he was
receiving from Paolo, Godou suggested. For the high school student who
was the youngest present, this type of worry was only natural. As a result,
Gantz suddenly straightened his back.
“Eh, is it really okay? That would be absolutely splendid. I’m really glad to
know that the seventh Campione is someone easy to get along with, oh
my.”
“Gennaro, even if His Majesty makes a personal request, please do pay a
little attention to your behavior.”
On the other hand, Clarens frowned in response to his colleague’s
reaction.
“Thank you for your considerate offer, Your Majesty. Respect for the
various Devil Kings is the requisite attitude displayed by those involved in
the realm of magic. Rather, a candid chat would present difficulties.
However.”
After deliberately offering this respectful explanation, the bald black man
finally smiled.
“By a stroke of good fortune, I, Clarens, am not so lacking in the talent of
adaptability as to be unable to accommodate your request. Indeed, I shall
bear your request in mind henceforth. Let us get along well together.”
Saying that, he elegantly bowed his head as he remained seated on the
couch.
Godou could only smile awkwardly in response to Clarens’ rigorous style of
speech and elegant mannerisms.
An exchange as befitted Erica’s colleagues, that was Godou’s heartfelt
impression.
Smiling wryly at the sight of his subordinates’ reactions, Paolo responded
in the following manner:
“Kusanagi Godou, you are a king. It is only natural for us to take utmost
pains to respect your wishes as much as possible. It is also a king’s duty to
accept the respect we offer as knights. Nevertheless, your intentions of
practicality are greatly appreciated.”
“R-Respect?”
“What we offer to all Campiones is the greatest reverence and awe. No
matter what temperament they may display, they are the ones with
experience, great achievements worthy of the godslayer title.”
Paolo continued to gaze straight into Godou’s eyes as he spoke.
Drawn by the sincerity and power in Paolo’s gaze, Godou nodded
involuntarily.
“Furthermore, even disregarding the respect offered to all Devil Kings, from
a personal standpoint, I would still provide Kusanagi Godou with maximum
support. This goes for Europe without saying, but also extends to
anywhere around the world.”
“Eh!?”
Paolo smiled gallantly in response to Godou’s shocked reaction to the
unexpected declaration.
“There are multiple reasons for this. First of all, I have heard reports of
your character, a splendid youth just as I expected. Additionally, there is
the matter of gratitude. Without Kusanagi Godou, my niece could not have
returned to Milan, safe and sound.”
“No really, all I’ve done is receive Erica’s help.”
Ever since their encounter on the island of Sardinia, Godou and Erica had
been supporting each other. Moreover, Erica probably did the lion’s share
of helping.
Considering the issue of gratitude, Godou felt that he was the one who
should be returning favors.
But seeing Godou shake his head, Paolo suddenly seemed to be at a loss
for words.
After a brief moment of hesitation, he coughed dryly. Then he spoke rather
slowly.
“In that case, let me add another reason. Well, basically… In the place of
Erica’s deceased parents, I believe I am bound by duty to provide the best
for this daughter’s partner. As the uncle who acts as her custodian.”
“P-Partner— ”
Come to think it, on further examination, this current situation could very
well constitute Godou’s visit to the parental home of the girl with whom he
shared “no ordinary relations.”
Isn’t this basically meeting the parents…?
“Consequently, whether stemming from official or personal reasons, I am
bound by duty to pledge my support. Goodness knows if this is a mixed
blessing or not, but you are surely unprecedented in regards to placating
the stubborn surrogate father that I am.”
By suddenly addressing Godou with the patronizing kimi form of saying
“you” in Japanese, Paolo’s mixed feelings were readily apparent.
However, Godou naturally had no objections. Instead, he was quite
impressed with this forthright awkwardness coming from a man
unaccustomed to his surrogate paternal role.
“Indeed, she is a girl who is sometimes too smart for her own good.
Currently, I am sincerely grateful and relieved that her chosen partner is a
shrewd and able man on her level instead of a free spirit like Sir
Salvatore.”
“It really helps to hear that coming from you.”
Gazing at each other for a moment, Godou and Paolo Blandelli then
smiled wryly simultaneously.
Unlike his cunning niece, Erica’s uncle seemed to be an upfront man of
common sense.
Watching Godou and Paolo, Gantz remarked emphatically.
“That said, you’re quite a ‘decent’ person despite being the seventh
Campione. Could this be an omen of cataclysmic change? I never would
have expected the birth of a sensible Devil King.”
“Pay attention to what you’re saying, Gennaro.”
Paolo spoke as if reprimanding his subordinate.
“No matter how sensible or benevolent, a Campione cannot possibly be a
harmless existence. I can predict with certainty that Kusanagi Godou will
become a world-shaking Devil King in the future.”
“P-Paolo-san?”
“My apologies. Based on the reports so far, although I’ve garnered that you
have no such intentions… But inevitably, you will undoubtedly become ‘that
type of existence.’ Regrettably, I am a man who has dealt much with the
various Campiones. This experience informs me.”
“I see.”
At that moment, Godou could only think to himself that “Paolo-san sure
loves to worry” and did not try to object.
It was only months later, after encountering a number of his kin and
reflecting on his own atrocities, when Godou was struck deeply by how
prophetic Paolo’s words were.
Seeing Godou reserve his judgment for now, Paolo remarked with heartfelt
intensity.
“By the way, I never would have expected Erica to set her sights on the
seventh Campione…”
“Oh dear, that’s certainly true. I could not have foreseen that our lady
would…”
“That female fox huh…”
Staring into the distance, Clarens and Gantz were also overcome with
emotion.
They apparently regarded Erica as something of an unbridled horse — Just
as Godou racked his brain for a response…
“Hello everyone, did something happen? You’re all bearing rather eccentric
expressions. It’s a little unusual.”
Accompanied by the sound of the door opening, Erica entered.
The male magi immediately resumed their usual countenance and
straightened their sitting posture. Clarens answered on their behalf with an
innocent look:
“Nothing at all. Anyway, are you ready to set off, my lady?”
“Yes. I also intend to visit Florence for gathering intelligence.”
Erica had changed into a red jacket and black jeans, a simple coordination
of rossonero colors. Pulling a trolley case behind her, she looked
completely like she was about to go traveling.
Before setting off for Tuscany, Godou and Erica were simply making a
quick visit to the [Copper Black Cross] headquarters.
Next came the real journey. The pair’s subsequent destination was the
ancient city of Florence. The Arno was the major river in the Tuscany
region flowing through this city.
The eel-like monster was located in the mountainous region near the
Arno’s source.
Part 3
“This comes as quite a surprise. I can’t believe you’d want to take
something like a train.”
Seeing his companion looking a little bored, Godou struck up conversation.
This was taking place in the spacious first class compartment on the
express train which had just departed from the Milan station.
On the other hand, this daughter of the Blandelli family, currently sitting
beside Godou, had once asserted in no uncertain terms that “I shouldn’t
need to take buses or trains, okay?”
“Well, this supposedly reaches Florence faster than traveling by car or by
plane. Considering the way you are, you’d probably accept Gennaro’s offer
of ‘let me take you there by car’ or the like.”
Erica replied with an expression of annoyance.
“And would there be anything wrong with that?”
“Of course there would. Precisely because of him. He’d probably use the
opportunity to play Japanese children’s cartoons nonstop in the car. Trying
to show them off to you.”
“C-Cartoons?”
“I definitely have no wish of partaking in anything like that.”
Godou recalled the terrifying face of Gennaro Gantz.
That manly, bearded face. If a bandana was wrapped over his head, he
would immediately become a fearsome pirate. It was impossible to
associate that face with anime. Nevertheless, Godou did not get the
impression that Erica was lying…
“People have all sorts of hobbies.”
Godou simply responded with a brief comment. While they were talking,
the train really started to get going.
Mineral water, coffee, wine, champagne and other drinks were offered in
the first class car. There were also various snacks and fast food.
However, Erica slowly opened a basket she had brought herself.
“What is that?”
“I told the girl who is my assistant to bring me clothes for changing, but she
turned out to be quite quick on the uptake. She asked me to take this on
my journey as well.”
The basket was lined with quite a few handmade sandwiches.
Various fillings in toasted bread — uncured ham, mozarella cheese,
proscuitto, lettuce, rucola and other vegetables. The sandwiches were
quite visually appealing.
“Eh, these look very delicious.”
“She’s an apprentice in the [Copper Black Cross] — As a mage in training,
she was almost expelled for her lack of aptitude. But because she’s quite
skilled in domestic chores, I tried her out as my assistant. Quite an
interesting girl. I’ll introduce her to you in the future.”
Judging from the way Erica spoke of her, Godou imagined a girl in her
early teens.
It was slightly later when Godou finally learned that she was Arianna-san
and actually older than Erica. Only then was Godou struck by the shock of
Erica’s patronizing description.
In any case, Godou enjoyed the food, thoughtfully prepared by the maid he
had never met before, as they continued the train journey.
The aerodynamic high-speed train took two hours to reach Florence from
Milan.
During this time, Godou spent his time leisurely, chatting casually with
Erica while he read Italian newspapers. Despite the fact that he was going
to be approaching a monster’s lair soon, he did not feel particularly
nervous.
Somehow, his instincts were informing him.
Even if that eel-like giant organism really turned out to be a divine beast,
he was not going to suffer in a desperate battle.
Godou knew this instinctively because he was capable of using a divine
beast himself, the [Boar]. Speaking of desperate battles, those would occur
only if the divine beast’s master, a [Heretic God] or a Campione, was
nearby —
“After all, I shouldn’t be running into those guys.”
Godou muttered to himself as they got off the train at the Florence station
platform.
His battle against Melqart, the ancient Middle Eastern divine king, had
taken place a month earlier. As for the fight with the godslayer Salvatore
Doni, that was last night.
These momentous events should not be happening all the time. In terms of
probability, it should be impossible.
Looking up, Godou found a vast expanse of the Italian sky, illuminated by
the glow of dusk.
The red of the setting sun was mixing mysteriously with the darkness of
evening, an exotic sight unlike dusk in Japan.
“Let’s spend tonight in Florence and have a chat over dinner with the magi
of this city. The [Capital of Lilies] is the magic association responsible for
handling the incident. We’ll first obtain information from them — ”
Just as Erica began to speak, her cellphone rang with an incoming call.
Godou had a worrying premonition. To him, this melody sounded like an
ominous sign. Indeed, it was the apostle from the realm of absurdity, the
person capable of blowing theories of probability right out of the water —
“What’s the matter, Uncle? Eh, Sir Salvatore?”
Then Godou realized he had forgotten about the most dangerous element.
The ancient city of Florence was one of the best known places even in
Italy.
The river passing through this city, the Arno, followed the terrain of the
Tuscany region and flowed from east to west into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The
ancient city of Pisa, famous for its Leaning Tower, was located near the
river’s mouth.
Indeed, water was essential to human life, thus giving rise to cities
adjacent to bodies of water.
Given that Godou was on a journey to the Arno’s headwaters…
It would only be natural to advance east from Florence.
However, the car picking up Godou and Erica went south of Florence
instead, taking them to the city of Siena located roughly in the center of
Tuscany.
This was also a city with ancient origins, said to be a colony of the ancient
Roman Empire of old.
A historical zone preserving streets straight from medieval times, the entire
city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Renowned as “the
world’s most beautiful public square,” Piazza del Campo was the city’s
most famous tourist attraction.
Despite being a plaza covered with red brick, it was actually not flat.
The plaza’s surface was shaped like a bowl and sloped gently. Townsfolk
and tourists would take up sitting or sleeping positions on the sloping
surface, spending their time as they pleased.
“Coming to this place feels like a variety show’s trip planning…”
Recalling his itinerary for the past day, Godou felt especially weary.
Lake Garda, Verona, Zurich, Milan, Florence and Siena.
These were all historically ancient cities and tourist destinations. But
Godou passed through all of them with nary a stop, finally arriving here at
Siena. What an exhausting trip, even crossing national boundaries.
By the time they arrived in Siena, night had fallen completely.
Although this was no time for touring around, Godou and Erica were still
led to Piazza del Campo. Instead of sightseeing, the purpose was for
meeting a certain someone.
“Ah Godou, it’s been a while, my dear friend!”
The young man, who had parted ways with Godou only this morning, was
waiting for him.
His cheerful frivolity carried a certain Latin quality indeed, suiting his
personality quite well. Salvatore Doni was the Campione renowned as the
King of Swords.
A black, short-sleeved shirt. Cotton pants. A pair of sneakers. He was
dressed casually as usual.
Furthermore, a long cylindrical case laid fallen by his feet. Undoubtedly, it
contained that dangerous and lethal weapon.
“Just come over yourself if you’ve got any business. We’re on the way to
somewhere else.”
“Well, my dear aide is an excessively strict person, so I’m currently
grounded from travel. He said I’m not allowed to go outside for now
because I’ve caused too much trouble lately.”
“Wow, your aide turns out to be someone with normal thought processes…
But then again.”
Godou replied to Doni who was grumbling on his own.
The message of “Let’s meet briefly, okayi 1 ” was transmitted from Doni to
Paolo to Erica to finally reach Godou. He could have ignored it, but that
would probably spur Doni into his ridiculous antics again.
Godou only came to Siena because he was worried about this issue.
“So let me say this. Even if you’re grounded, don’t get us involved.”
“But you’re going to exterminate the divine beast that’s lurking in Monte
Falterona, right?”
Doni asked with a grin.
To think he would receive the news so quickly as soon as the incident
happened.
Godou shrugged. Although Doni looked like a carefree idiot — No, he really
was a fool in actual fact. But at the same time, he was also cunningly
astute. Godou was deeply struck by how important it was not to
underestimate this man.
“Sorry, but could you step aside…? Just a minor suggestion.”
“You mean you want to slay the monster in my place?”
“Yes yes. This opportunity to make a quick trip and be back before that
annoying Andrea discovers, just yield that to me. You and me, we’re best
buddies, right?”
Godou was quite surprised. Indeed, Salvatore Doni was a belligerent man,
but this sort of request seemed really out of character.
“Sir Salvatore. Allow me to point out that there is merely one monster
sighted at Monte Falterona, the one that has been recognized as a divine
beast. For a Campione of your stature, Sir, it would simply be a weak
enemy.”
At Godou’s side, Erica interjected with a probing tone of voice.
Godou nodded. Indeed that was the truth. Even as a novice, Godou did not
consider a divine beast to be any sort of threat. Even more so for Doni, the
experienced warrior. Yet for some reason, he wanted to defeat the divine
beast himself.
His insistence was quite strange. Tossing troublesome chores to Godou
would probably be more suited to his liking.
“For a trivial task of this nature, I think you can just leave everything for us
to handle.”
“Yes, you have a point there, but I also have various circumstances on my
end.”
Doni smiled casually in response to Erica’s intervention.
“Circumstances? What do you mean?”
“Well well. Some things need to be kept secret — ”
Playing the fool to evade Godou’s question, Doni picked up the cylindrical
container on the ground.
Then he drew out a longsword of iron. This was the weapon with which he
used his silver arm authority to manifest ultimate sharpness. Doni casually
entered a stance with his sword.
“You intend to slay me to prevent me from exterminating the divine beast?”
“Of course not. Didn’t we just have a deadly duel yesterday? I have no
intention of having a rematch suddenly on the very next day. This is just a
wager. Let’s play a game.”
Doni readied the longsword before him, pointing its tip at Godou.
“You win if you can block one strike from my sword. I’ll yield the divine
beast extermination to you this time. However, if you’re unable to stop
me… Let me do as I please.”
“I can’t stand you. Just deciding all that on your own…”
Godou bent forward slightly in response to Doni’s sudden declaration.
He was taking the posture of a defending infielder in order to guard against
Doni’s sword.
Speaking of which — Godou noticed something. Even though it was not yet
seven at night, Piazza del Campo was empty apart from the three of them.
Did Doni use some sort of suspicious magic to drive people away, or did
he use his influence as a Devil King to prohibit access?
In any case, a match was already unavoidable.
“Godou, do you really intend to fight!?”
“The situation will get weird if I leave things to this guy, so there’s no
choice.”
Godou answered Erica who was a little worried. At the same time, he kept
his attention focused on Doni.
The enemy raised his right arm, holding the sword in a stance.
In the parlance of Japanese swordsmanship, this would be called the
hassou-no-kamae stance.^ But since Doni’s original posture was a
flexible and natural stance, he really seemed like he was sticking to his
claim of not intending to fight seriously.
Only because of that he was making this sort of attacking stance, intending
to enjoy the game.
That said, this was still a dangerous game of death where one false move
could lead to one’s demise —
(…I guess I’ll just have to try evading using the [Raptorj’s speed.)
(…Please be careful. This isn’t an opponent who makes things easy.)
After whispering this reminder, Erica immediately retreated.
It was finally time for Godou vs Doni, one on one. The enemy’s right arm
glowed with silver radiance.
The previous night’s battle had taken place roughly twenty-four hours
earlier. Nuadha’s silver arm authority, which Godou had sealed with the
[Swordj’s spell words, was already recovered and currently usable.
“Hoho. We already know each other’s tricks. This will be no different from
yesterday.”
Doni smiled quietly. This was different from his usual idiotic smile.
Rather, this was a smile of delight with a hint of malevolence, coming from
a man who enjoyed risking his life in battle. The frivolous and handsome
face instantly transformed into that of a dauntless warrior.
Godou and Doni were separated by a mere distance of five meters.
All Doni needed to do was pounce while swinging his sword and the
distance would instantly shrink to zero.
However, the speed and acuity of Doni’s swordsmanship was great
enough to unlock Godou’s [Raptor].
Verethragna’s seventh incarnation possessed speed equal to lightning.
Since Godou was unable to make precise movements due to the
excessive speed, it was not that useful for making attacks.
On the other hand, it was quite a handy ability for defense and escape.
In order to use divine speed the instant Doni swung his sword, Godou
readied his posture.
However, he suddenly trembled for the air around him felt rather heavy.
This was due to Doni’s gaze. Without glaring at Godou or making threats,
he was simply gazing cheerfully. One could even call it a gentle and quiet
look.
But Godou was certain his intentions had been seen through.
Every single motion of Kusanagi Godou’s body down to the smallest
fingertip, the violent pounding in his heart resulting from the sudden battle,
his breathing —
All were seen through completely. Heard. Observed. A complete grasp.
“He really is an opponent for which defense won’t work huh…”
Godou muttered to himself. Just as his foe mentioned, they already knew
each other’s tricks.
Salvatore Doni’s eyes were capable of seeing through divine speed. He
also possessed mysterious movement techniques allowing him to close in
before one could react, as well as horrifying swordsmanship that was
challenging to evade.
Although this was only going to be a split-second battle, was Godou really
capable of defending against martial arts as varied as a sword god’s?
His gaze met with Doni’s. The enemy went “Hmph” and smiled fearlessly.
Godou had to muster his courage at this moment. If possible, he still
wanted to take the least risky route and use the [Raptor] to evade —
However, in order to crush the enemy’s strongest technique, Godou had
no choice but to use his strongest power!
“The one unblunted and unapproachable, oath-breaking sinners be purged
by the iron hammer of justice!”
“I hereby swear! I shall sever all existence in this world, slicing them in half
with but a single cut!”
Precisely because they knew each other inside and out, they were able to
have this sort of simple clash.
Throwing out his trump card before the horrific attack reached him, Godou
then leveraged his residual momentum to defeat his enemy.
As a result, Godou’s summoned [Boar] crashed boldly through the stone
tiles of Piazza del Campo to make its way to the ground surface. At the
same time, Godou prepared to charge straight into Doni.
The instant the divine beast was about to penetrate the surface, Doni’s
swinging magic sword struck the [Boar]’s pitch black forehead.
ROOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!
The beast’s roars resounded.
Swung by the silver arm, the magic sword stabbed itself deeply into the
[Boar]’s forehead. The divine beast was destroyed by the time half of its
head surfaced aboveground.
However, Doni went “Oh no!” and cried out.
Although it was excessively reckless, Godou did indeed manage to block
one strike from Doni’s sword.
Doni’s sword of mental nothingness was achieved by letting the sword and
the body move naturally. Hence, Godou knew that as soon as he launched
a powerful attack, Doni would involuntarily attack in return —
The result ended exactly as he predicted. Godou nodded greatly.
However —
“Although I did wonder if it would turn out like this when you agreed to the
match, Godou… You never let down expectations, do you?”
Gazing at the “price” paid by Piazza del Campo, Erica remarked in
amazement.
There was a deep crack resembling a fault line.
The ground was cracked open deeply in a straight line, tearing the plaza
apart from one end to the other.
Very likely, this resulted from Godou choosing Piazza del Campo itself as
the target when summoning the [Boar].
As soon as the pitch-black divine beast surfaced from the ground, it
immediately caused destruction to the plaza.
Godou covered his head in his arms. Oh well, because the [Boar] was
exterminated before it truly began to wreak destruction, one should be
satisfied that only this level of damage resulted…
“W-Wait a minute. That was no fair at all. How about another match!?”
On the other hand, Doni kept harassing him, refusing to accept the result.
While reflecting on his own actions, Godou treated Doni’s protests as
meaningless noise.
Although the destruction was a terrible result, one should probably count
their blessings that a commotion’s embers were smothered before they
could be truly set ablaze.
Nevertheless, why would Doni be interested in slaying a divine beast?
Just as Godou was about to question him, sirens could be heard in the
distance.
Police or firefighters were apparently on the move. Naturally, they must be
heading here. Probably for the sake of calming down this commotion, Erica
took out her cellphone and contacted someone…
Part 4
In the end, Piazza del Campo’s “aftermath” was handed over to Doni’s
subordinates to take care of.
Having fled the scene for now, Godou and company were seeking refuge
in a nearby bar. Standing before them was the young man named Andrea
Rivera.
He was wearing silver-rimmed glasses and dressed neatly in a suit.
Known for his serious demeanor, he was the one who served as Doni’s
butler.
Upon hearing of his job title, Godou was filled with the deepest sympathies.
After handling the aftermath by making some calls to local magic
associations in Siena and issuing a few orders efficiently, Andrea Rivera
swiftly turned around to face Godou again.
“Regarding this incident, let’s consider it the fault of my lord, Salvatore
Doni. We will take charge of the aftermath.”
“I-I’m sorry. I’ve made trouble for you.”
“No, as someone who serves a king, this is simply a part of my duties.
Please don’t let this weigh on your mind… Anyway, putting that aside, may
I have a word with you?”
Ashamed of being Doni’s accomplice, Godou was bowing his head when
Andrea addressed him.
“A Campione causing trouble on momentary impulse is something that
cannot be helped. There is no need to respond graciously to my lord’s acts
of folly. But please bear in mind the suffering and disaster brought upon
the innocent commoners when you guys are horsing around.”
Righteously and resolutely, Rivera used a calm tone of voice to admonish
the king.
Truly befitting of Doni’s chaperone. Godou was greatly impressed with this
fact while feeling indebted to him. The Devil King’s Butler turned to Erica:
“So, Erica Blandelli, may I rely on you to handle the divine beast incident? I
must take that idi — Sir Salvatore back to a certain location.”
“Of course you may, Sir Andrea.”
Erica displayed a puzzled expression towards the young man who had
almost called his lord an idiot.
“However, where do you intend to take Sir Salvatore?”
“Sir Salvatore was heavily injured in the fight against Kusanagi Godou and
must go recuperate. He needs to be placed in a quiet environment for now
so as to recover his energy.”
“Eh!?”
Being the man in question, Doni was completely stunned to hear his
butler’s words.
He was the man who seemed completely fine in health apart from a
sunburn from the [White Stallion] last night.
Doni’s face was filled with a frivolous expression of puzzlement.
“What is this about, Andrea? I do have a bit of a burning sensation all over
my body, but apart from that, I don’t really think there’s any problem with
my health.”
“Nonsense. This is an excellent opportunity. Why don’t you just take it easy
and rest for three or four months, okay?”
Switching instantly away from his respectful attitude towards Godou,
Rivera addressed Doni as equals.
On closer examination, Rivera was twitching slightly near his temples.
Probably due to anger. It was some time later when Godou would nod in
understanding after hearing that these two men were friends from before
Doni became a godslayer.
The Devil King’s Butler spoke with what one would call a “sullen look of
seriousness and austerity.”
“I have already prepared for you a hospital no different from a prison on a
remote island in the Indian Ocean. You will be forcibly hospitalized in a
special sickroom on the twelfth floor underground. All you need to do there
is cure your brain inside a jail akin to Alcatraz. You fucking lowlife whose
mere existence causes trouble to the world, you’re even worse than trash!”
Thinking back, Rivera’s outpour of curses and insults was probably the
climax of the whole affair.
Although Godou did suffer some hardship afterwards, no commotion could
be worse than crossing paths with a Campione.
After Doni was taken away to be punished for his follies, Godou and Erica
stayed the night in Siena.
The next morning, the weather was raining unfortunately. However, Rivera
had arranged for a car and chauffeur to send them on the way. Thus
Godou and Erica reached the incident’s stage without issues.
This region of Casentino was located on the eastern side of Tuscany.
An area surrounded by natural habitat, one could find lush green fields,
hills, forests and valleys.
In accordance with its designation as a national forest park, the region was
virtually devoid of manmade structures apart from roads and the scattered
homes of residents, as far as Godou could see along the car journey.
As for Monte Falterona which Doni had mentioned, this was Erica’s
explanation:
“A streamlet that is born in Falterona / And not a hundred miles of course
suffice it… This is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Purgatorio, Canto XIV.”
“So this is the river it’s referring to.”
Godou and Erica sat side by side in the rear seats as the car sped along its
way. A stream was flowing beside the road. It was the Arno River.
It was supposed to progressively widen as it flowed through the lands of
Tuscany to become a wide and major river.
Probably due to the rain, the river volume seemed to be higher than
normal.
“So the only place we need to visit is that Falte whatever mountain?”
“It would be ideal if it were as simple as that. However, the target seems to
have left its lair and moved its habitat elsewhere.”
“Where did the monster appear yesterday?”
“Medieval castle ruins at the foot of Monte Falterona. Having said that, the
ruins are just a few castle walls that remain standing. Apart from that,
there’s nothing.”
Erica opened and examined a map of the area as she spoke.
“In fact, yesterday’s divine beast-like organism has made an appearance in
some other castle ruins. Crashing into and damaging the castle walls, it
even caused a ruckus before leaving. Luckily, no humans were caught up
in it, but seeing as it’s quite close to the city after all… It could get
dangerous.”
“That’s very true. By the way, that eel monster that’s like a snake — ”
After listening, Godou tried to probe an issue that had been bothering him.
“Since it has gone to castle ruins twice, could it be that it likes old places?”
“That could be true. Alternatively, it might prefer to be near water.”
“Water?”
“Yes. Since ancient times, cities and villages have always been
constructed near water. Based on the terrain, the Arno River basin
naturally contains many towns and structures built since ancient times.
Also, the second appearance was this place.”
“Eh, that’s really close to the river.”
Seeing the spot on the map Erica was pointing to, Godou nodded.
“We will be in this place, contemplating our next move while we wait for the
Florentine magi who are tracking the beast. If my predictions are accurate,
we could very well discover the target today.”
“Then let’s stay in this area to search for now.”
“It’d be wiser to wait for their investigation’s report first.”
Godou and Erica went on standby at a town near Monte Falterona and the
Arno River.
Then at a time one could consider late night, Erica’s cellphone received a
report of discovery.
The two instantly got on a car and rushed towards the Arno River.
Then Godou saw it. Beneath the pouring rain, a black and slender creature
was swimming on the surface of the flooded river. Indeed, it did look like a
giant eel.
Putting on a raincoat, Godou braved the rainstorm to enter the torrential
Arno River.
He wanted to observe the “enemy.” But perhaps because it sensed his
presence, the black creature submerged itself into the water.
Erica was rather intrigued by this wariness, uncharacteristic of a vicious
monster.
“Clearly it remained calm when the searching magi discovered it. Perhaps
it’s because it realized you’re a Campione, Godou?”
“Are things like divine beasts capable of that?”
“It wouldn’t be strange, no, because it’s a supernatural creature after all.
Among the monitoring personnel, a spirit vision user apparently saw that
it’s a divine beast with ties to a snake deity.”
“So, handling it like an eel isn’t actually going to work.”
In any case, there was nothing to discuss until it was caught.
Thus the overnight chase began.
Furthermore, they requested support from the Florentine magi to use
search magic, communicating by cellphone and pursuing by car.
When dawn almost arrived, or rather, during morning…
Godou and Erica finally faced off the monster again.
The place was a rural town called Poppi on the shore of the Arno River.
Around here was a medieval fort dating back to the fifteenth century.
Using borrowed binoculars to observe the monster that was roaming
leisurely, Godou and Erica murmured to each other.
“Not only is it not an eel, it’s not even a snake…”
“It should be called a dinosaur instead. I remember seeing a similar one in
an old movie.”
A certain action movie whose stage was set in a theme park where
dinosaurs had been brought to life using the power of science.
Not far from their eyes was a species resembling the dinosaur that became
a symbol of the movie. Called the velociraptor in the story, these
carnivorous dinosaurs were slender, agile, cunning and vicious.
“A true dinosaur fan would probably call it something like the Deinonychus
or the Utahraptor.”
“Oh my, that name really suits its appearance.”
“What do you mean?”
“Deinonychus. It means ‘terrible claw’ in Latin.”
Hearing the explanation of Erica who was proficient in linguistics, Godou
nodded.
The black Deinonychus before them was walking upright on its tough hind
legs, with a massive, sharp, hooked claw on each foot.
Its body was roughly seven meters long, with a slender torso and a very
long tail.
Its dorsal outline was probably impossible to see except for when it was
swimming on the surface of the water.
Especially due to its black color, it was indeed quite easy to be mistaken
for a snake or an eel.
“Normally, no one would expect a dinosaur in this river.”
Finally figuring out how the eel description came about, Godou muttered as
he summoned the [Boar] to defeat the creature.
The battle needed to be finished immediately because it would be
troublesome if the enemy escaped into the water. The pitch-black giant
boar swiftly sent the dinosaur flying in accord with expectations.
Godou could no longer remember how much time it took to knock out the
enemy. Roughly three or four minutes perhaps?
After all, there were other problems outside of combat. The [Boar]’s howls
were mixed with Shockwaves as usual and ended up smashing the ground
which had softened from the pouring rain.
As it happened, Godou’s foothold on a hillside collapsed as a
consequence.
Rolling down the slope, Godou fell into the Arno River and spent several
hours in a predicament, drifting along the flooded river’s turbid currents.
Nevertheless, Godou would naturally come to forget what happened in this
region.
This stemmed from the never ending series of conflicts that arrived
henceforth from May of that year, after he became a Campione.
A duel with Doni at the beginning of May, followed directly by the
expedition to Tuscany. After returning to Japan for a week, he was called
to Italy again by Erica and forced to attend a seance with dozens of magi.
When the end of May rolled in, the great event of Athena’s duel
happened —
Thereafter, battles and troublesome incidents still continued to take place
in succession.
Various matters, such as the fact of traveling being more exhausting than
combat, were inevitably buried in the back of his mind.
Consequently, Godou had almost forgotten about this incident after the
passage of nine months. Nevertheless, what happened back then was
going to lead Godou into yet another troublesome adventure.
References
1 . t Hassou-no-kamae(A^X(D^^.): one of the five stances of kendo,
an offensive posture with the sword pointing upright and the blade
sloping slightly to the
rear.http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Hass%C5%8D-no-kamae

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *