The entire venue had fallen into a panic.
It seemed that the Imperial side were not informed of this in advance, so the soldiers looked equally confused.
On the other hand, the delegates that were not combatants from the three nations stood down as the ones that could fight surrounded Dorothea.
Dorothea braced herself with her sword in hand without making any movement.
“Those who still wish to live should run away now―― is what I’d usually say, but that’s not going to be the case today. Sorry, but I plan on killing everyone here.
“Do you really think you can?!
Claire-sama fired a flame spear at her the moment she opened her mouth.
The attack was as large as the one she dealt to Relaire’s mother in the past.
“So you want to be the first to die, huh, Claire François?”
“――! I messed up――”
Dorothea let the flame spear land a direct hit on her as she walked towards Claire-sama.
I sank Dorothea’s feet into the ground, causing her to lose her balance.
It seemed that I had just barely made it in time as Dorothea’s sword cut nothing but air.
“Please be careful, Claire-sama. Magic doesn’t work on Dorothea.”
“That’s right. How troublesome……”
Magic didn’t work on Dorothea.
That meant that our fighting capabilities against her were significantly reduced.
The hole that I created in the ground with my spell was the type of magic that interfered with the terrain, so it worked, but direct attacks such as flame spears and ice bullets wouldn’t work on her at all.
The same held true for Claire-sama’s Magic Rays as well.
“Protect His Majesty!”
“Administer medical care to the Queen right away!”
The soldiers moved in a hurry, but nobody dared to get too close to Dorothea.
If they weren’t careful, that would spell the end for them.
The soldiers surrounded Dorothea, pointing the tips of their swords and spears at her.
“Did you really think that small fry like you…… could prove to be worthy opponents to me, the almighty Dorothea Naa?!”
There was a flash of black light.
When Dorothea swung her jetblack sword, dozens of soldiers that should’ve been standing there were struck down in an instant.
“Rei, you need to administer first aid to onee-sama right away! The only person that can actually match Dorothea’s swordsmanship abilities is onee-sama!”
“Her wounds are deep! It’ll take a while!”
Dorothea was cunning.
She knew that Manaria-sama was the only person who could fight her on equal footing.
And she also knew of her weakness.
That’s why Dorothea tried to attack me first.
“This much is fine. Let me go.”
“But Manaria-sama, this isn’t enough……”
“If we keep this up, all of my soldiers will die. As the monarch of my country, I can’t overlook this.”
Manaria-sama stood up while gripping her sword in her left hand.
Her right hand was her dominant one, but it seemed she didn’t have any strength left in it.
“Don’t be ridiculous, onee-sama! You can’t possibly confront Dorothea in this state!”
“But even so… Claire, it’s just as Dorothea said. At that moment, I prioritized Rei over myself. If you look at the big picture, that was a grave mistake that I made.”
From the standpoint of Manaria-sama – the Queen of Sousa – she should’ve let me take the hit.
But she didn’t.
Just so she could protect me.
“I won’t make the same mistake next time. That’s why, Claire, I’ll leave Rei in your hands.”
“You should run away with Rei. I’ll buy you some time somehow.”
Even as her face gradually became more and more pale, Manaria-sama still managed to muster up a smile.
It was a fleeting smile that felt completely unlike her.
“Please wait, Manaria-sama. It’s a bit too early to make self-sacrifices.”
“You’re as relentless as ever, huh, Rei? Do you have something up your sleeve?”
“Yes, but it’s a race against time right now.”
Before this meeting, I caught wind of some interesting information.
It was a risky gamble.
But I wanted to bet on it.
“Are you finished with your little strategy meeting?”
Dorothea said as she slowly approached us.
There were countless fallen soldiers behind her―― all of them shedding blood.
Suddenly, her gaze was shifted towards the side.
When I looked over there as well, all I saw was a certain bureaucrat trying to leave the room.
What was going on……?
I wasn’t sure of what was happening, but for the first time, Dorothea left a gap wide open.
“Let’s do it, Claire-sama!”
“Follow my lead, Rei!”
What happened after that was a bit hazy.
I frantically supported Claire-sama with my magic as she prepared to engage in hand-to-hand combat.
Claire-sama boosted herself with her own explosive power in order to increase the strength of her sword’s attacks.
Manaria-sama was also providing backup of her own.
But even so.
Even so, none of our attacks got through to Dorothea.
“This is your loss, Rei Taylor.”
Dorothea declared, as if she was a grim reaper.
Claire-sama and I were both quite worn out already.
We had almost no magical power left in us.
Manaria-sama had fainted after being depleted of her magical energy as well.
There was nothing else we could do.
However, we could not afford to stay silent.
“Haah…… Haah…… You’re strong, Dorothea…… I’ll admit that much.”
“That goes without saying.”
“However…… I apologize for my rudeness, but right now, you’re third-rate.”
“…… What did you say?”
Dorothea raised her eyebrows.
“Haah….. Haah…… What Rei is trying to say…… is this… You are extremely strong. In fact, you might just be one of the strongest people in all of history.”
“I don’t need your flattery.”
“But that’s all. You’re just strong. You don’t know that there is more to strength than just that.”
“Strength, huh…… What nonsense. Are you talking about the strength of a flock? Don’t make me laugh. People only flock together because they are so weak, they have no other choice.”
Dorothea laughed mockingly.
“All you do is describe a group of people banding together as flocking together. That’s your weakness, Dorothea.”
“You’re choosing to act like poor losers, huh? Such fools.”
The only thing she believed in was her own individual strength.
It was true that Dorothea was incredibly strong.
However, humans can possess different types of strength.
“No. People can form all sorts of connections with each other. There’s a term for it too―― it’s called forming bonds.”
“What a pompous statement. Do you really think you can defeat me with your bonds?”
“Huh? Have you already forgotten about it?”
“…… What are you talking about?”
I grabbed Claire-sama’s hand.
Claire-sama squeezed back.
There was a warmth that flowed through our palms.
“You set up an internal conflict in Bauer in the past, didn’t you? And? How did it turn out, Claire-sama?”
“…… Fufu. Rei and I managed to survive because of the bonds we created with many different people.”
Bonds were not just simple fairy tales or pipe dreams.
It was a type of power that existed in real life.
“I admit that I messed up a bit there. I should’ve interjected back then with my sword.”
“You’re quite the poor loser, aren’t you?”
Dorothea’s eyebrows were raised sharply.
She seemed vexed when we dished her words right back at her.
“That’s enough. You will die here.”
Dorothea brandished her sword.
Power was gradually welling up between our connected palms.
Claire-sama was transferring whatever remaining power she had to me.
“There’s a saying where I’m from that goes like this: The winner isn’t decided until the match ends!”
I cast my magic.
Claire-sama and I managed to launch the last shot we could muster up with our remaining magical energy.
Dorothea flicked our bullet away with her sword and leapt away to create a bit of distance.
“You had one last trick up your sleeve, huh. How cheeky……”
Dorothea said spitefully as she suddenly turned to face the entrance.
The faint footsteps gradually began to leave an echo.
It grew louder and louder, to the point where you could tell that there was a huge group approaching.
It seems like we made it in time.
“Dorothea, have you realized it yet?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You lost this battle long before the conference today even began, you know? Fufu, fufu…….”
If she felt like it, Dorothea could close the distance in a split second and cut us down right away.
There would be no way for us to fight back in our state.
It’s scary, right, Claire-sama?
Even I’m a bit scared.
But even so, the person that I loved most in the world began to laugh loudly in victory.
“…… What are you talking about……?!”
Dorothea asked, frustrated while clicking her tongue.
“Haaah…… Haah…… I made it in time――!”
The person that ran into the venue all out of breath was none other than――
That person was Philine Naa, the girl that should have been abroad living in exile.