Campione! / Campione! Vol 9 Chapter 1


Chapter 1 – Wound of the Divine Lance
Part 1
The region of Brittany in France had a long history with England.
The original inhabitants of Britain, the Celts, had lost their homeland to the
Anglo-Saxon invasion. Around the fifth century, part of the Celts living in
Cornwall crossed the channel to settle in the westernmost peninsula of
France.
People on the continent called them “Britons” which is where the name of
the Brittany peninsula originated.
Furthermore, the most legitimate of divine ancestors also had her
stronghold secluded here.
The Witch Queen Guinevere.
Her appearance was like a classic western doll with exquisite facial
features of a beautiful ten-odd-year-old girl. Clad around her slender body
was a black dress reminiscent of funeral attire.
The current location was deep within a forest, protected by a magical
barrier.
Somewhere in there was a little lake, with lush woodland along the water’s
edge, adding a sense of greenery.
Guinevere stood proudly on the lake shore, her sky-blue eyes of sapphire
gazing at the surface of the lake.
“Sir Knight… Guinevere believes without a doubt.”
The figure of a knight in white armor could be seen on the surface, but he
was not underwater.
This was simply a two dimensional existence projected as an image onto
the lake surface which acted as a screen.
“Sure enough, our lord the ‘King of the End’ lies dormant in Japan — the
far east. This is the only remaining possibility.”
(—Oh? And the basis for that is?)
The knight on the water surface replied using a “voice” that ordinary
humans could not hear.
His name was Lancelot du Lac. Also known as the Knight of the Lake.
As the guardian of witches at the pinnacles of heaven and earth, he was
the war god protecting the divine ancestors.
“Intel left behind by my kin Asherah. That country once rounded up the
ancient tribe and concealed them. With the hero god Susanoo as their
leader, the special ability users who moved with him to the Netherworld
have been suppressing [Heretic Steel].”
Guinevere explained in detail.
“Even the Great Sage Equaling Heaven was put to use through the Great
Wizardry of the Dragon and Snake’s Seal… I had become suspicious ever
since I learned of its existence. Unless something important was being
concealed, there was no need to undertake such a monumental
operation.”
(Come to think of it, that was the place you visited earlier.)
Lancelot’s “voice” replied softly.
He was not a typical [Heretic God]. As an underling whose mission was
guarding the Witch Queen, he was just a [God’s Shadow] maintained on
earth.
“Yes. Due to the possibility of the sealed Great Sage Equaling Heaven
being the ‘King of the End’ — in order to ascertain if he was truly the
master we anticipate, I attempted some stratagems.”
(However, that monkey king turns out to be a divinity quite different from
our master.)
“Yes, it is regrettable that we know even less than those ancient fellows in
this regard. Which is why Guinevere stayed a while on that island to
investigate, based on clues the deceased Asherah obtained from the
Kuhoudzuka family.”
The Kuhoudzuka was one of the Four Families leading the Japanese
wizardry world, inheriting and adhering to ancient precepts. They were
assigned to various direct-controlled shrines and monasteries in Japan,
taking on important duties like at the Saitenguu in Nikkou.^
“However, I discovered that out of all the shrines, there was one where
they were responsible for some unknown mission, so I decided to pay a
visit.”
(Hmm, if it is unknown then one can conclude it is “something deliberately
concealed,” right?)
“Precisely. Guinevere was lucky enough to succeed in spirit vision, and
that shrine turns out to be where the secrets of our dormant master lay. If
we can unravel this mystery, then the King who manifests at the end of
eras will descend once more…!”
Guinevere spoke as if in a trance.
It must have been a good many decades since she was last reborn? All
this time, she had been seeking the legendary hero king.
“I wonder if the key to the mystery lies in the lost memories of Guinevere
the goddess… However, divine ancestors lose their previous life’s
memories after being reborn. Even Sir Knight who once served master
does not know his location — correction, does not wish to know.”
Hence, the key to unraveling the mystery was lost.
As Guinevere sighed, the white knight suddenly interrupted.
(Hoho, this Knight’s only wish is to gallop across the fields, brandishing the
lance, treasuring the ladies, and protect this way of life. Everything else is
trivial and none of my concern. These are the reasons why this Knight has
become slow and cowardly.)
Without a shred of hesitation or doubt.
Galloping like the wind, swinging the sword like thunder. These were the
traits of the war god Lancelot.
(If the comrade-in-arms is slain on the battlefield, why not just mourn his
death with the raising of swords and the singing of dirges, is that not
enough?)
A soldier through and through, only living on the battlefield.
With this as his personal philosophy, the war god commented with
indifference.
(My apologies. If this Knight was not someone like this, the mystery would
have been cleared up sooner.)
“No, Sir Knight is the most important one apart from the strongest of
[Steel]. Do not be concerned. Rather than this, please direct your attention
to greater things.”
Guinevere gazed sincerely at the divine knight reflected on the surface of
the water.
She put her arms together and pleaded in earnest, begging:
“I entrust you with everything, Sir Knight. Not as my shadow but as my
guardian deity, [Heretic Lancelot], I beseech you to manifest.”
( — You realize this is a path of no return?)
“Now that the place where master sleeps has essentially been identified, it
would be wrong not to take a gamble. I cannot repeat the mistake of losing
to Alexandre Gascoigne six years ago.”
Guinevere’s previous stronghold was not located in this forest.
The Fairy Realm — was the forest of fairies that connected to the place
known as the Netherworld to humans or the Boundary of Life and
Immortality as called by gods.
The adventurous story of the Black Prince who discovered and
successfully invaded that holy sanctum —
Stood as a painful memory of defeat to Guinevere.
“Due to falling into the Black Prince’s trap, the energy of the land we stored
in the Magic Holy Grail… We lost the majority of it. The life force of the
great earth mother goddess that we spent all our efforts gathering to offer
to our master!”
Guinevere once offered to hand over the Magic Holy Grail to Alec.
However, she actually had no intention of following through. As the true
legitimate successor to the Holy Grail, she could simply summon it back
any time by thought even if she temporarily gave it away.
It was rather contemptible for Alec to see through that and attempt to take
it by force.
“If Sir Knight had been able to use your full power at that time, then the
Black Prince would have met his just deserts, and we would have been
able to protect the Grail properly.”
(The spell that sustains this Knight as your guardian… If that were to be
lifted…)
It was unprecedented for gods to descend to the earth for the sake of
protecting a particular person.
What made this possible was thanks to the spell cast on Lancelot by a
certain goddess. This was Guinevere’s previous incarnation — the great
mother earth goddess who assisted the King of the End in ancient times
and created the Holy Grail together.
However, there was an arbitrary restraint. Lancelot could only manifest for
short periods of time when the Divine Ancestor was in crisis.
(If this Knight were to become a [Heretic God], acting freely and going
berserk, even forgetting the original mission of protection in the frenzy of
battle is very likely… Do you really wish to take such a risk?)
“Yes, that island country’s Kusanagi Godou-sama is a person so
outstanding that even Her Eminence Luo Hao holds him in high regard. He
has even roped in the great John Pluto Smith from across the Pacific
Ocean. If we were to start an incident, there will definitely be interference
from them. It is unavoidable.”
Six years ago, Guinevere had failed to understand the true nature of
Campiones.
Now she knew. Devil King Campiones were like glowing embers that
erupted into flame at the slightest touch. Even if operations were
undertaken in secret, Campiones would still be able to see through them.
Devil Kings were like lights that attracted moths in the way they discerned
their mortal enemies the gods.
Completely outrageous. They were the illegitimate children of the fool,
killing and challenging gods that transcended humans.
One could only prepare against them by considering the possibility of the
improbable happening.
(In that case, girl, polish the divine blade left behind by the master, and
make it this Knight’s divine artifact!)
“Sir Knight… That… To wake the Divine Sword of Salvation requires
obtaining steel that tears apart heaven and earth, causing the stars to
crash. You really want that?”
Guinevere suddenly raised her head in response to Lancelot’s suggestion.
( — Yes. Despite the lack of divine powers of prescience, this Knight can
clearly smell the battle approaching in the near future. For that, this Knight
requires a new weapon. Something like that is the bare minimum!)
The helmet’s visor obscured the white knight’s face, but Guinevere did not
need to see it.
She was certain the war god Lancelot must be smiling, greatly delighted
with the premonition of battle.
“Yes… Yes! Guinevere will joyfully polish the sword for Sir Knight! Spirits of
the earth who accepted my blessing! Offer up the Witch Queen’s treasure!”
As Guinevere waved her hand at the ground, the surface was split open.
Two items broke through the earth to appear.
One was a massive urn made of gold, standing at the height of a child’s.
The other was a very long double-edged sword, but extremely worn and
corroded, full of rust.
Though the two items came from the earth, neither of them were soiled by
dirt.
The large urn was the divine artifact known as the [Magic Holy Grail].
The other was the steel of the King of the End’s sword. These can be
thought of as his relics and avatars. Ever since the hero disappeared from
the surface of the earth, his beloved sword also lost its luster and was left
behind in the ground in its decrepit state.
Part 2
Half a month had passed —
On the plains of Thrace extending from southwestern Bulgaria.
The suburbs of some city was visible from this place, a land full of beautiful
plains. Beneath the majestic Balkan mountain range, this open country
stretched far and wide, covered by plains and farmland.
Guinevere was using flight magic to descend upon this land. In the middle
of this vast plain, a hole had been dug in order to bury the master’s
decrepit sword.
“O Steel of the King, I beseech you to awaken from this long slumber!”
Guinevere chanted a song of spell words to carry out the current task.
The sword was buried in the earth… All this was done to wake up the steel
known as Excalibur in King Arthur’s legends.
“More dazzling than gold, more pristine than silver, that is what you are.
Born from the ashes of the dragon’s skeleton is the dragon-slaying steel.
That is what you are!”
A long broad sword that once shone with brilliant white luster.
Its length approaching 100cm, this double-edged blade was actually quite
thick, with a structure similar to a woodcutter’s chopper. However, it was
now worn out and corroded without any luster, only covered by rust.
This divine sword and the earth shared deep roots, and was thus buried in
the depths of the land. Now, the essence of the earth was being channeled
into the blade for the sake of restoring its lost power.
“The stars, the sun and the moon shall lose their brightness before you! All
treasures shall lose their value before you! So please, I beseech you to
awaken! Please let the girl who is your maidservant see the light once
more!”
There was a reason for selecting this location to revive the divine blade.
The awakened steel was going to be wielded by Heretic Lancelot. Hence,
choosing to awaken the sword on land with deep ties to him facilitated the
forging of bonds between souls.
“Divine Sword of Salvation, steel amongst steel, the Witch Queen
beseeches your divine self to revive!”
Finishing her chant, Guinevere raised her hand.
Lightning descended upon where the ancient sword was buried. In the next
instant, a short platinum-colored blade was suddenly thrust out.
The length of the cutting edge was about 50cm or so. This shrunken size
was the reborn form of the decrepit divine sword.
Guinevere breathed out in relief.
“Please come and have a look, Sir Knight. Guinevere has finally
succeeded!”
“Succeeded… A word thou shouldst not use lightly. At the same time,
yonder sharp blade is not something one can ignore, having witnessed that
thing!”
The one who responded was an unexpected intruder.
Guinevere’s face was full of shock as soon as she noticed the owner of the
voice.
“Your divine self has graced this land with your presence… Pray allow
Guinevere to offer her salutations.”
Clutching the hem of her black dress like a noblewoman’s curtsy, she
bowed her head.
Trying to suppress her panic as she greeted elegantly, Guinevere
appeared composed but was being eroded by anxiety from within. She
never expected this goddess to return here!
Despite her appearance of a young girl, the goddess’ slender body fully
carried the solemn presence of a matriarch deity. As the great mother of
the earth, the queen of darkness, and the sky goddess of wisdom, she was
the tripartite goddess.
Her name was Athena.
The goddess from Greek mythology who had manifested as a [Heretic
God] a while ago.
The divinity of the ancient earth mother goddess had been retrieved
together with the mystic treasure, the Gorgoneion. Apparently, she had
battled Kusanagi Godou in Japan a few months earlier…
“For the past few days, one sensed an unusual spiritual presence
overflowing in this old land of Thrace.”
Athena spoke softly like the whistling of the wind.
With silver hair as if the moon had melted into it, she was in the form of an
adorable ten-odd-year-old beauty, wearing modest garments in the style of
ancient Greece.
Facing such a girl, it would take a fool to mistake her for a harmless child.
Pulsating with power that could not be concealed, one would naturally
realize she was no ordinary person even if it was unclear whether she was
a god or not.
“One expressly came, suspicious of a premonition of calamity… One never
expected that man’s maidservant to be polishing the steel of taboo!”
The flames of wrath flickered in the child-like eyes of the goddess.
“Knowest thy shame, kin of the past. Ever since the forgone age of the
myths, the descendants of we matriarchs have been irreconcilable
enemies with steel that slays dragons and snakes. In spite of that, dost
thou wish to sully thy hands with the filth of yonder blade. O far thou hast
fallen!”
“Pray heed my words, Goddess Athena, your divine self is severely
mistaken. Ever since the forgone age of the myths, we daughters of the
earth have always been bound to the fate of serving the heroes of [Steel].
Though there are times when dragons and snakes turned their fangs
against them, those occasions only lasted as ephemeral dreams.”
Compared to a real goddess, the Witch Queen was just an insignificant
existence.
However, Guinevere held her head high and pleaded to Athena.
“We are the ‘Hero’s Attendants’ who serve brave warriors. Even the
legends designated the goddess Athena as the beloved daughter of Zeus,
the chief deity of Greek mythology. If your divine self truly believes this to
be erroneous please do point out corrections.”
” — O what sharp tongue thou hast.”
Athena narrowed her eyes and stared down at Guinevere
unceremoniously.
“The maidservants of that man were all paragons of loyalty. No matter
what age we speak of, they are still worthy of respect!”
The divine ancestor’s objections seemed to have gradually calmed the
goddess’ anger.
Athena was also a goddess of war in Greek mythology. Did she not have a
personality that viewed with favor those who risked their lives in battle?
Guinevere bowed her head and answered with reverence.
With a lofty stance, the goddess nodded at her childish posture.
“Very well, witch. One shall not pursue this matter for now. However, as
mentioned just now, the blinding brilliance one witnessed… What is that
steel?”
Athena cast her gaze upon the white blade thrust out of the ground.
“As the goddess of wisdom, one recognizeth that steel. That man’s avatar
the ‘Divine Sword of Salvation,’ the blade born from his remains, is it not?”
Amazing — Guinevere was thoroughly impressed with Athena’s eyes of
wisdom.
To discern the divine blade’s origins from a single glance.
“Infused with new life… Though one doth not believe it can be used very
long, it will serve its purpose well enough. However, this relic must be ye
sole remaining trump card… If ye shall use it without reservation…”
Guinevere saw Athena’s eyes turn into those of a snake’s.
“Discovered eh?”
Athena glared with evil eyes, as befitted her identity as the goddess of
snakes —
Guinevere’s body remained completely motionless. With the fate of life and
death held firmly in the grasp of the supreme goddess, her body was
petrified with fear.
“Thou hast discovered that man? Found the tomb of the sleeping king of
salvation who manifesteth whenever the end draws near for the earth?
Where? Where doth that fellow lie dormant?”
“East… The far east, Japan…”
Guinevere whispered softly as she panted for air.
The goddess finally displayed true solemnity.
Sure enough, it was still impossible to resist. Guinevere felt absolute terror
from her innermost depths, and could only pray with all her heart.
Come save me, Sir Knight! Lancelot du Lac!
“Yonder island? One visited that place recently but did not sense that
fellow’s presence at all… Perchance it was very skillfully concealed?”
The snake-eyed Athena’s murmurs were heard.
Alas, it was a voice like the freezing wind. Simply hearing it was enough to
make the body tremble and lose all strength.
“Thou knowest, maidservant?”
Guinevere shuddered in fear.
She could feel the murderous intent seeping from Athena’s solemn voice.
“One’s mortal rival, that god-slayer inhabits yonder island. That man — will
be the first to be targeted with the awakening of the hero whose fate is to
bury all devil kings. For the nearby Kusanagi Godou, inevitable it must be.
Nonetheless, it is one’s final wish to serve defeat to that brat…”
Athena’s pubescent face had never shown this sort of tempting or
seductive aura.
As the goddess’ flirtatious gaze focused on her, all Guinevere could think
was how to solve the current crisis!
“One hath been waiting for Kusanagi Godou to mature as a warrior. Before
that time arrives, it would be quite inappropriate to let that man awaken. In
that case, one shall bury thee here, plucking this young sapling…”
The snake eyes were infused with a golden brilliance.
There was not an instant left to hesitate! So, make haste!
“Pray accept these apologies, goddess of snakes.”
Boom! The sound of thunder and the apology descended from the
heavens at the same time.
“That girl is this Knight’s beloved child. Killing her is not permitted.”
Dark clouds suddenly filled the sky, and a flash of white lightning
descended — no.
Rather, enveloped by white lightning and riding a white horse was the
knight in white armor, Lancelot du Lac! He proceeded to launch the barbed
lance in his hands.
This attack turned into lightning once again, approaching Athena.
“Gun…!? Lightning and horse — the most primitive [Steel]!?”
Athena instantly distanced herself from Guinevere, jumping backwards.
The attack from the sky was evaded. However, in the instant before it
struck the ground, the lance took a right-angled turn and continued
forwards, flying towards the escaping Athena.
“Gun— !”
The lance of lightning embedded itself deeply into her left shoulder,
distorting the goddess’ face with pain.
“As the goddess of wisdom, could your sacred eyes not discern this
Knight’s true name… As a matter of courtesy, let this Knight announce his
name. Lancelot du Lac. The Knight of the Lake as known by others.”
Leading thunder and his white steed into battle, the war god descended
upon the earth as he declared.
Part 3
“Sir Knight! Guinevere has always believed in Sir Knight!”
Lancelot simply nodded at her emotional cries of gratitude.
Turning his gaze towards Athena, he suddenly spoke.
“This Knight apologizes sincerely for the rude act of pointing a lance at an
unarmed opponent like you without even a sword. However, this was done
for the sake of protecting this Knight’s beloved child. Pray grant your
forgiveness.”
“Fu — Even if forgiveness is withheld, that lance still continueth to attack.”
Athena smiled despite her heavy injuries.
“One had almost forgotten, the mighty name of one called the [Steel] of
mist and thunder. Rumored to have become the retainer of that man, it
must be you!”
Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war, as well as the earth, the
darkness and the sky.
However, was it because of the goddess’ heavily weighted warrior aspect?
The injured Athena displayed an exotic kind of beauty, full of imposing
dominance. Being bathed in fresh blood simply contributed to her glamor
like heavy makeup.
Lancelot felt like uttering the word “beautiful” in praise and admiration.
“Worryest not. Even if challenged by the lance, one shall respond with
force. Twould be better to say, a little girl who knows not of battlefield
etiquette would be truly shameful. Ultimately, Athena is the heavenly child
of death and war!”
Athena suddenly grew in height, turning from a pubescent girl into a young
woman of seventeen or eighteen years of age. With maturity came a sense
of lively beauty and dynamic vigor. The beautiful girl’s appearance and
powers evolved all at once.
The shoulder wound healed itself, closing up and stopping the bleeding.
Like a grim reaper’s iconic weapon, a scythe with a long shaft manifested
in her right hand. Its blade was jet black. Embodying darkness and the
earth — this was the weapon of the queen ruler of the subterranean
underworld.
“Now then, comest with everything thou hast, Lancelot du Lac!”
“Much appreciated. This Knight expresses the greatest respect towards
your courage.”
Lancelot respectfully replied atop his horse.
Even though she had grown taller, Athena was still at a height which
required looking up to him. She laughed fearlessly.
“…But war god, one knoweth. Surely thou art not complete right now, yes?”
“Oh? Very clever of you.”
The process of undertaking Excalibur’s rebirth and cancelling the
guardian’s spell started half a month ago.
However, Lancelot had yet to be revived in any complete sense of the
word.
“One’s wisdom informeth, thou art neither a [Proper God] nor a [Heretic
God]. Staying long term in this intermediate state, thy body hath yet to
accustom itself to this world. In short, thou spendst the majority of thy time
with a dazed consciousness, is that not so?”
Lancelot slowly nodded in response to the goddess’ question.
“Admittedly so. For the sake of injecting vigor into this Knight’s exhausted
body, one must dive into thunderclouds every day to be struck by lightning.
Without this, the body’s link to the earth feels like it is separating. Thanks
to you, this Knight no longer needs to wander around aimlessly.”
Even while confessing his weakness, the knight remained relaxed and
easygoing.
“On the other hand, well, there is no cause for worry. This Knight has
proffered his utmost respect and thus will battle you to the bitter end,
concluding with nothing but death itself!”
Faced with a duel to the death, completely and utterly dauntless.
As if seeing off blades of grass floating away on water currents without a
care in the world.
“This Knight shall go full speed at maximum power to defeat Athena.
Please understand that battle is what this Knight has long sought over
thousands of days and nights, for this is Lancelot’s style. Turning into
madly blowing wind, becoming dashing galloping lightning, crushing
enemies in an instant. Indeed, that is this Knight’s way.”
“Ha — ! Well said. Should that be the case, one shall respond with
everything as well!”
Athena took a giant leap.
This was a humongous leap that no bipedal creature could have taken
naturally. In a single bound, she closed the 100m distance between her
and Lancelot mounted on his white horse. She flew as elegantly as a white
bird with feathered wings.
“O Earth, knowest one’s determination! O Darkness, understandest one’s
rising emotion! As one along the matriarch’s lineage, Athena hereby
judgeth this follower of steel as the archenemy!”
The adorable voice was shouting spells words loudly.
Boom boom boom boom boom — With a terrifying sound that chilled one to
the bone, the ground began to rumble.
Earthquake. The skies also began to darken, or rather, darkness was
spreading out. Somehow, the broad plains of Thrace were suddenly
plunged from daylight into a shroud of darkness.
“This Knight’s lord… This hand defiles your divine remains, pray grant your
absolution.”
Lancelot quietly muttered as he calmly rode his white steed upon the
shaking earth. Flying towards the sky, the divine horse and rider were
completely unfazed by threats on the level of earthquakes.
“Tearing apart the ancient earth, penetrating the skies, Divine Sword that
brings stars crashing down, now is the time for your return, to the hand of
the Knight of the Lake, once again sounding the horns of war!”
From atop his mount, Lancelot extended his hand towards the white blade
embedded in the shaking ground.
Guinevere had awakened the new Excalibur. Immediately, the 50cm white
blade left the ground’s surface, flying towards Lancelot’s hand!
“Mystic powers of the Oak, lend your strength to Sir Knight!”
Guinevere immediately used magic.
An oaken shaft suddenly manifested on the summoned white blade, and
proceeded to be held in Lancelot’s right hand. The combination of the
blade and the long shaft was truly like a [Lance].
Divine Lance Excalibur was born.
“The earth collapseth, the ground spliteth open, behold the goddess’
violent song of destruction!”
As Athena began to chant, the ground beneath Lancelot and the divine
horse collapsed.
The earthquake attacking the vast plains became even more intense,
creating cracks in the ground. At the same time, black snakes flew out from
the raised ground, numbering in hundreds. Lancelot and his beloved horse
were entangled and swept down by the snakes baring their fangs, trying to
drag them into the earth.
“O Winds of mist, blow forth.”
Upon his mount, Lancelot chanted.
Mist began to flow out from all around him. Furthermore, the knight and the
divine horse’s material bodies lost color and form.
The mist burst forth continuously, becoming thicker and thicker. It was like
the dense fog that hangs over lakes, with a visibility of less than 5m.
“…Sir Knight, may fortune accompany your battle!”
Using flight magic, Guinevere fled for safety.
Seeing her off, Lancelot who had turned into mist, muttered:
“The Goddess Athena… a dangerous and formidable foe.”
The authority of turning into mist was part of his immortality as [Steel].
Mist cannot be struck. Mist cannot be cut. However, Athena was the ruler
of the underworld. She held the highest authority over everything related to
death and immortality. It was only natural for her to be knowledgeable in
the methods of sending immortal [Steel] to its grave — But there was a
catch.
“However, encountering this Knight is truly your misfortune. This Knight is
the galloping invincible divine sword that tramples innumerable dragons
and snakes. Even Athena, or rather, precisely because you are Athena,
defeat is inevitable.”
He was currently displaying the martial arts of the sword which he had
attained to the highest perfection.
This was the shocking strike of the ultimate dragonslayer. To Athena, this
was a deadly weapon akin to a natural predator due to dragons and
snakes being the violent incarnations of the great mother earth goddess.
Lancelot and the divine horse flew up in the form of mist, materializing in
midair.
They flew into the thundercloud he had descended from when first
summoned. Within the dark clouds where lightning crackled and sparked,
the knight spoke softly to his beloved horse.
“Respond to the wish of the beloved child, smash apart the great and
venerated foe, we shall take the form of lightning, and this Knight’s life is
entrusted thus.”
Lancelot readied the divine lance, pointing its blade forward.
The white divine horse galloped forth. Towards the ground, where Athena
was standing!
They had taken the form of lightning when saving Guinevere just now. But
this time they were moving at lightning speed — god speed, and this time
with extreme destructive power as well.
This impact and destructive power was comparable to a massive meteor
descending from the heavens.
—Crash!
A white meteor crashing down with the speed of lightning.
It was a divine iron hammer that defies existence.
The white knight and divine horse descended from the sky, charging at the
earth like a god of destruction. Reaching the ground in an instant, the
divine lance was thrust out.
Athena brandished the jet-black scythe, intent on deflecting the blade of
the divine lance.
This was the divine skill of the goddess who discerned the lance tip
approaching with god speed.
Lance and scythe, the two weapons clashed together violently.
A storm was created at the moment of impact. In the eye of the storm were
Lancelot and Athena while everything else in their surroundings were
blown away by the cyclone formed by the impact.
The earth crumbled beneath Athena’s feet.
Vegetation growing on the plains of Thrace, the land and rocks were all
dug up and blown away.
The surface of the ground was transformed into a depression like a crater.
The massive area dug out was roughly 2 or 3km in diameter. The
atmosphere rumbled.
At the bottom of this crater-like depression, the goddess and the war god’s
clash intensified.
Athena absorbed the essence of the earth, infusing peerless might into her
slender girl-like arms. Darkness materialized into nine demonic snakes
which attempted to crush Lancelot in their jaws.
— However, the final result was most unexpected.
In the end, Athena’s scythe was sent flying by Lancelot’s divine lance. The
demonic snakes of darkness were annihilated by the resulting impact.
It was achieved by a meteor crash descending from the heavens that
collapsed the earth.
“Guh — gah, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!”
Finally skewered through the chest by the divine lance, Athena gave off
painful cries.
However, her snake-like eyes continued to stare at Lancelot. Relentless,
her desire for vengeance continued to burn like fire!
The white knight kicked at the belly of the divine horse, intending on
following through by severing the goddess completely. However, the
goddess, pierced by the lance, gathered together the divine power of the
great land, attempting to produce a force of repulsion to push back
Lancelot in his white meteor form.
In kendo terms, it would be described as a situation of tsuba-zeriai.^
Truly worthy of the name of Athena. Lancelot generously praised in
admiration as he called out to the girl he was protecting.
“Beloved child, now is the time to release the Holy Grail’s mystical
powers!”
(What is the matter, Sir Knight!?)
Guinevere’s thoughts arrived, flying from far away.
“The Holy Grail has the property of absorbing the life force of great mother
earth goddesses and storing it. Now is the perfect opportunity to obtain the
life force of the highest ranking earth mother goddess! Do not miss it!”
(— ! Understood!)
No further instructions were necessary.
A golden urn, the Magic Holy Grail, suddenly appeared beside Lancelot.
“!? Knight of the Lake, what art thou planning — oh?”
“Because simply defeating you will likely not be enough to overcome your
immortality. However, it would be an entirely different matter if the Grail
absorbs all your life force. Farewell, Heretic Athena. You were the most
suitable formidable foe that this Knight had long awaited to battle.”
From the wound where the divine lance Excalibur pierced —
The great earth mother goddess’ life force of Athena was beginning to spill
out and flow into the Holy Grail!
“This seemeth to be some mysterious technique!”
Athena wrapped the Holy Grail in black mist coming from her hands.
Lancelot could tell that it was a corrosive gas. However, the Grail
continued to absorb Athena’s life force. The golden vessel’s lustrous
brilliance did not falter!
“This is the infinite power offered by this Knight’s lord, the vessel created
by sacrificing the life force of the earth mother goddess equal to your rank,
we call it the Holy Grail.”
Lancelot explained nonchalantly to the shocked Athena.
“Seeming to be a material like earth, but not in reality. Divine wisdom, that
which is symbolized by the truth of heaven and earth. Even for you,
Athena, it cannot be destroyed.”
“Guh… That so? It is like the Gorgoneion that one sought, an immortal
indestructible vessel.”
Her beautiful face in pallor, Athena murmured.
However, Lancelot was astounded by the goddess’ pupils which had yet to
lose their luster.
“One feeleth clearly. One’s life force shaven off, devoured by yonder
vessel.”
At some point in time, Lancelot and the divine horse’s motion had stopped.
In the end, all effort had been spent in halting the meteor-like charge.
“This be the vessel that compeleth the maidservant of the white mother
goddess to stoop so low? O Despair!”
By this point, the Holy Grail had already taken the lives of a good many
mother earth goddesses.
Even Athena had no way of escaping. Nevertheless, the goddess did not
lose the will to fight. She grabbed and forcefully pulled out the lance
piercing her chest. Blood gushed out in a torrent from the piercing wound
between her breasts.
Athena proceeded to display a smile of absolute despondency.
“However, one is the goddess of wisdom who claimeth all knowledge as
her possession. A little toy like this Holy Grail, one never expected to
discover it so soon had this body not experienced it first hand. But then
again, this doth not fit one’s style, so one shall undertake revenge!”
Athena’s blood-splattered hands slowly turned towards the Holy Grail.
Next, the great urn-like Grail began to fly towards Athena.
“Holy Grail that absorbeth life, one shall be keeping it!”
Athena reached out with her hands to touch the Grail, causing the great
urn of a child’s height to vanish in an instant.
It was absorbed into the goddess’ body.
“One shall take leave for now, Knight of the Lake. Thou shalt repay the
remainder at some other opportunity!”
Having devoured the Holy Grail, Athena began to sink into the earth.
Lancelot charged forth in pursuit and swung the lance.
However, it was too late. The lance tip only managed to pierce air.
“What a mess… Who could expect things to have ended like this?”
“No, Sir Knight. Guinevere believes this result is absolutely not
unfavorable.”
Just as Lancelot shook his head ruefully, Guinevere answered, having
returned by flight magic.
At the bottom of the crater-like depression marring the Thracian plain, the
knight and the girl faced each other.
“Athena seems to have devoured the Holy Grail in order to suppress its
effects. However, Guinevere does not believe this is enough to halt the
functioning of the life-absorbing Grail.”
Guinevere spoke as the one with a mysterious bond with the Holy Grail.
The divine artifact created by the matriarch deity of all the earth goddesses
through sacrificing her own immortality and divinity. As long as that Grail
remained active in the earth, it was forever indestructible.
“Even if we just let it be, by this point it must have stored up a substantial
amount of magical energy. No matter what happens, from now on there is
a connection between Sir Knight’s divine sword and Athena’s grail.”
“Wielding the steel that splits apart the stars, is that so?”
Lancelot muttered. In the battle just now, he merely used it as a bladed
object.
The steel known as the legendary Excalibur had yet to exhibit its true
worth…
“But before that form can be attained, will she manage to remove the Grail
from her body?”
“Even if that happens, it may be just as well. Having swallowed the Grail
into her body to suppress it, Athena’s return will not take more than half a
month’s time”
“Then Athena will die, is that so? In that case, it might not be so bad.”
Lancelot nodded.
A “way” always appeared in the end.
Whether abandoned somewhere or separated by any distance, as long as
the Grail existed on earth it would continue to absorb Athena’s life.
The divine artifact created at the cost of immortal life —
This was its truly terrifying aspect. The wisdom and prayers of the goddess
of death, had yet to be carved into the deepest reaches of the earth. On
the other hand, the Grail’s powers extended to the furthest ends of the
earth.
“In that case, girl, Athena is of no concern for now?”
“Yes. Guinevere will now go to Japan, the island where master sleeps.
Please grant your protection.”
Lancelot silently grasped the reins of his beloved horse, flying towards the
sky which had recovered its brightness with the departure of Athena. Still
unaccustomed to the conditions of the earth, the full-powered attack just
now had already exhausted his divine power.
He must take a good rest amongst the thunderclouds once again.
Heretic Lancelot —
Despite his overwhelming power of destruction, still could not be
considered fully revived at this point.
References
1 . t Saitenguu(ffi^^): fictional shrine, name literally means “Western
Heavenly Temple.”
2. t Tsuba-zeriai: The situation where the distance between two
opponents are at their closest, with both players holding their shinai
tilted and the tsuba (sword guard) locked against each other, attacking
each other’s grip and destroying each other’s posture.

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