[The match will begin in 180 seconds.]
My sense of boredom and disappointment didn’t last for long. I felt better as soon as I entered the arena again.
As I thought, this is the best for me.
People kept on automatically surrendering, so I was able to get to the semi-final without having to swing my fist even once.
Now, I was at the semi-final. I finally met an opponent who looked like he might not surrender.
“By any chance, you are not going to just surrender, are you?”
“I wasn’t intending to.”
My opponent for the semi-final was the bearded uncle from the Japanese server.
He said he won’t surrender right away.
I am so thankful. Is there any way at all to let him know how grateful I am?
I don’t think there is.
Unlike the previous matches, the semi-final had a longer standby time.
Also, there were no other matches happening at the same time.
In other words, in this huge building, the only match being held at the moment was just this one between me and the bearded uncle.
“I’m standing on the stage with so many people watching. I cannot disappoint them and just declare surrender right away. I have heard about you, so I already know that you are overwhelmingly powerful. Still, I’ll do my best. I’ll show you the pride of the Japanese!”
Pride my ass.
Anyway, I welcome your attitude for wanting to do your best.
Because the semi-final was held by itself without other simultaneously occurring matches at the same time, there were magic spells displaying the match on large screens and also the sound amplification magic for the spectators.
Even the spectators who were watching from a far distance could clearly hear what we were talking about, and they could also observe our movements in detail from the screens.
That’s for sure. On a stage like this, it would be embarrassing to surrender right away.
Ah, now that I think about it, I asked him if he was not going to surrender right away. I think that might have been taken as a provocation since all of the Japanese people from the server were listening.
The bearded uncle took a few steps to come closer. He bowed.
At the heat of the moment, I bowed in response.
Was that a greeting before the duel?
This is not bad?
Like how they ask the people to do a simple greeting before the duel in a Taekwondo gym, I think it would be not a bad idea to make it a rule for everyone to do before matches.
It is a gesture that is meant to convey respect for the opponent, including basic courtesy abd sportsmanship.
Although most people won’t give a damn about such inside, and this would be just a formality that does not mean much, but a meaningless formality has use as a meaningless formality.
I should bring this up later.
While I was thinking about this, the bearded uncle drew the katana from his waist.
His movements looked quite experienced.
As I thought, could he be well-versed in swordsmanship?
“Uncle, before you entered the Tutorial, did you handle swords for living?”
He could have been a swordsman, but he could also have been simply a member of the Japanese syndicate who happened to have used the katana a few times. So, I made the question vague.
“The only knives I have ever held before entering the Tutorial were kitchen knives.”
Still, his movement looked pretty skilled?
Did he learn it from other challengers?
However, the environment inside the Tutorial is not fit for learning something from another challenger over the course of a long time.
We are constantly separated from each other. We have to say farewells to each other all the time.
Also, no matter how hard I look at it, there weren’t anyone in the Japanese server who were as skilled as the bearded uncle.
When I told him what I was wondering about, it seemed the bearded uncle look embarrassed.
It was only a moment ago when he looked very tough and determined.
“Um. I’ll tell you honestly. I saw the movements in anime. I used to love watching anime before entering the Tutorial.”
“Are you saying you are mimicking the swordsmanship movements from anime? Still, your moves look pretty good?”
“I have been practicing and improving the movements, and they gradually became more natural over time.”
Oh… I never even thought about this possibility.
He was mimicking anime characters.
Unlike how he looks like, he has a flower garden in full bloom inside his head.
“I really panicked when I first ended up inside the Tutorial. I was drunk, so I don’t remember how I entered it.”
That’s just like how it happened to me.
“I was dragged into this world. I was despaired about my situation for a long time. However, what could I do? I was already trapped in this place. So, instead of staying in despair, I made a new goal for myself. That was mimicking anime characters I had been fond of. It was going to be absolutely impossible in the real world. However, in the Tutorial, as I make progress through the floors, I really could become super humans like anime characters, right? So, I am trying to achieve my childhood dream.”
I think some people would be like him too.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I can understand him.
When I was a kid, I wanted to shoot the Kamehameha wave like they do in Dragonball.
Back then, I actually tried out mimicking the move’s pose by myself in a room.
Maybe I’ll really be able to do the move by the time I get past the 100th Floor and go back to the reality.
That uncle adapted to the life inside the Tutorial with those thoughts.
His motivation was a unique. Still, he focused on growth, which allowed him to get to where he was now.
It was childish and unbecoming of his age, but still, it is romantic in a way.
On top of this, he was able to tell his story in the open, in front of so many people. That makes it even more so.
[The match will begin.]
“Are you not going to draw any weapon?”
I just nodded.
Honestly, it would be cheating if I used a weapon.
I’m a fair person.
“Well then, here I come.”
Where could you go, old man?
I suppressed my urge to swing tasteless retorts at him. Instead, I focused on the bearded uncle charging at me.
He came within close range and quickly swung his sword. He started to attack me.
Ah, now that I’m seeing him swinging the sword, I can see countless flaws.
It is certain now. He never was properly trained in swordsmanship.
It was not like I had been trained properly either, but I at least had learned the basics from Idy and the Knight from the 16th Floor.
I noticed that his swordsmanship had many gaps from where I stood.
His moves looked cool to watch. However, there were so many wasteful movements in between.
Even at a glance, he had so many gaps that could be exploited. His moves were not efficient.
In other words, they were not very practical.
They were just cool-looking movements that were haphazardly joined together.
Still, as I said earlier, they looked cool.
It must be the bearded uncle who made the katana trendy in Japanese server.
Still, despite all these problems, the bearded uncle’s sword was quite powerful.
He was a superhuman after all. He could break boulders with his bare hands and jump to two or three stories high with the strengths of his legs.
His swordsmanship may be lacking, but he was swinging the sword with intensity, fierceness and confidence. I could not just dismiss them and take them lightly.
Of course, it was not like his moves were threats to me anyway.
As if he was trying to stab me with a spear, he tried to stab my left shoulder with a big movement. I dodged it.
After that, I lightly struck his chest with my fist.
The moment I made contact, I felt something breaking.
I think he broke a rib bone.
After finishing the punch, I drew a bit of distance.
I am planning to make sure the bearded uncle saves his face and pride just like what I did for Kim Gyoung-shik.
The bearded uncle was the face of the people from the Japanese server. There is no need to hurt their mentality by crushing him overwhelmingly.
He is also the only Japanese to make it to the semi-final.
Moreover, the bearded uncle had been quite cooperative with us.
To the spectators, it would appear that the bearded uncle is pressuring me on like a madman and I’m dodging them narrowly and throwing counters. They are probably thinking I finally managed to land a counter and then drew distance.
However, I’m sure the bearded uncle realized the difference in our caliber from the exchange of attacks earlier.
As I thought, the difference in our strengths is significant.
It is not a simple matter of him being less skilled in comparison to me.
Of the four challengers who made it to the semi-finals, he is the one who is most behind.
Well, he had some luck in the match-up orders.
The bearded uncle stood there still for a moment. He kept silence.
He had his mouth open. It seemed he wanted to say something. However, perhaps he thought it would be inappropriate to say it on the stage, so he closed his mouth.
Should I wait for a bit?
A brief moment passed. Other people probably thought it was just a silent battle of fighting spirit through the gazes between two high-level warriors. The bearded uncle said,
“The difference in skills is greater than I thought.”
I was going to be considerate and make the duel look like a close one, yet he said it out loud.
The bearded uncle pressed his chest hard to check his condition. He then took a stance.
“Even if it is just once, can you show me your full strength?”
“It will be dangerous.”
“I’ll accept the possibility of ending up with some injuries.”
Instead of going easy on him on the fight, I think it would work better for saving his face if we ended the battle with clean and substantial moves.
“Alright. I’ll show you my full strength.”
I brought out the Transmutable Thousand Arms from the inventory and formed a long sword.
I wrapped the sword in Aura Blade and pointed it toward him.
The bearded uncle also swung his katana in a cool, large motion. He then pointed forward and took a stance.
What’s this uncle doing?
Did he just tell me his name?
Oh my… That was so cheesy; I’m getting goose bumps.
However, if you are a man, then you have no choice but to respond to that childishness!
I am also childish!
His name was more complicated than I thought. It was too much of a bother for me to memorize. Also, I don’t think I’ll need to remember his name in the future. It was that kind of name. When the bearded uncle took a step, at that timing, I also swung my sword and used a skill.
I swung my sword precisely when the Blink was activated. The sword threw off the bearded uncle’s katana to the air.
The katana’s edge cut almost half way into the bearded uncle’s wrist. The tip of the katana made a lengthy cut across his chest.
I thought I adjusted down my strength, but I’m still clumsy at doing so.
The bearded uncle’s blood dropped to the floor.
“Uncle. Are you all right?”
He just nodded and took a few steps back.
“… What’s the name?”
I already told you my name earlier.
Why are you asking for the name again?
I stood there with confused look. The bearded uncle supplemented his question.
“I’m asking about the name of the technique that you just used.”
… I don’t make such things.
It seemed this uncle was one of those people; the people who name every technique and shout the name whenever they are used… Those kinds.
This reminds me of a female college student who I met at the First Floor waiting room.
I don’t remember her name or her face. Still, she shouted strange names or spells every time she swung her sword. I remember being surprised by her behavior.
So, this uncle is one of those types.
I pondered about this for a moment.
I had no choice but to ponder on it.
Naming the movements or skills and being restricted to this format… Should I tell him how much of negative impact such things would have on real battles?
Instead, should I just play along with this childish uncle who is serious about this?
I concluded my pondering. I said,
“It is a magnificent technique. It was a great duel. I surrender.”
The bearded uncle’s attitude was like that of a fated rival character in anime who would definitely come back for a rematch in the second season. Like that, he made his dramatic exit.
[You achieved your victory in the semi-final.]
As soon as I received the message, I was moved to the spectator seats.
As soon as I moved to the spectator seats, I was welcomed by belittling voice of Kim Min-hyuk.
“Hey, Blink Boy Lee Ho-jae.”
“Do you have a death wish?”
Now that I actually gave my attack a name, it is so embarrassing.
“Min-hyuk, do not make fun of Ho-jae. It was actually pretty cool. Blink. Slash. Kuuuuuu…”
I had no idea when he showed up too. Park Jong-shik was sitting behind us. He joined in of making fun of me. Kim Min-hyuk and Park Jong-shik faced each other and put up very serious, sincere faces.
“Ku… I thought I was watching a hot-blooded youth anime, Ho-jae.”
“I thought it was a scene straight out of a western movie. Puhahahaha.”
Damn it all. I think Kim Min-hyuk and Park Jong-shik are going to make fun of me with this for a long time.
It is not like I only have a few blemishes in my history. Couldn’t they just leave this one be?
“What is it? Why are you not saying anything? Try acting a bit more embarrassed, Ho-jae.”
Park Jong-shik repeated the scene and made fun of me for almost over 10 minutes. However, I didn’t react to it, and it seemed Park Jong-shik was disappointed. He complained.
Meanwhile, there was a match going on at the arena. It was between two other challengers who made it to the semi-final.
It was between Lee Jun-suk from Korean server and the black man who was the Hell Difficulty challenger from the Australian server.
During his battle against Lee Hyung-jin, the black man dragged on the battle for over one hour. In the end of this drawn out battle, the black man achieved victory.
After that, he achieved victory after victory. He made it to the semi-final without any trouble.
The match was a battle between the Hell Difficulty’s Sixth Floor challenger and a rising star of the Hard Difficulty. It was a matchup that awaited with great expectations. However, the battle was one sided.
Lee Jun-suk was just toying with the opponent.
“If he can do that much, doesn’t that mean Lee Jun-suk is stronger than Big Bro Jong-shik?”
Kim Min-hyuk asked, and Park Jong-shik flinched in fury.
“No way! He’s 10 years too early to beat me!”
Even I think Lee Jun-suk is at least on par with Park Jong-shik.
During the day of the great harmony, I gave Lee Jun-suk a gift; it was an item which supplemented his mana circuit skill.
Back then, he was not this strong.
He grew incredibly fast.
Lee Jun-suk had spread a wide blitz field around him.
However, this alone was enough to keep the black man from approaching near him.
When he charged in while braving the danger of blitz attacks, Lee Jun-suk drew distance again and launched electric harpoons to tie up the black man’s legs. Lee Jun-suk tried to continuously inflict damage on his opponent.
The black man could not afford to stay outside of his own attack range either. Although he could not attack, the black man was defenseless against Lee Jun-suk’s ranged skills.
In the end, the black man couldn’t do anything. He was like a mouse being chased by a cat. He was just desperately running around the arena.
“Ho-jae… About that rascal…”
It was unusual for Park Jong-shik to say this.
“Were you going to ask me to step on him?”
Lee Jun-suk was an important challenger to Park Jong-shik, especially among the Hard Difficulty challengers.
It could even be said that Lee Jun-suk was a direct successor to Park Jong-shik.
Park Jong-shik was asking me to step on Lee Jun-suk, but he was not saying I should squash the man’s potential.
Park Jong-shik was merely saying that I should have Lee Jun-suk experience the taste of overwhelming defeat. It was for the sake of Lee Jun-suk’s growth and to keep his confidence in check.
I think this is necessary.
I can see clearly that Lee Jun-suk being drunk in his own power and running wild.
Such overconfidence will lead to death.
I need to apply brakes on him for his own sake.
“Will his mental fortitude be able to withstand that?”
“It will be all right. He is not the kind who would dig himself a hole on the ground forever because he was smashed and shattered once. He has some grit.”
That sounds good.
As long as Park Jong-shik keeps Lee Jun-suk under his wings, our pal Lee Jun-suk will continue to reach higher places.
Park Jong-shik glanced at Kim Min-hyuk.
“Well, if Big Bro Jong-shik wants this, then I have no objections. To start with, Big Bro is in charge of this matter anyway. It is not something I should interfere.”
Park Jong-shik looked at me next.
“It would be alright if I was a bit hard on him, right?”
“It would be good if you obliterated him once.”
This is really great.
Really, really really great.
Of all challengers here, I’ll be fighting against one who is counted as one of the best.
He is saying I don’t need to adjust down my strength, and that I can be tough on him.
I was satisfied with the conditions. I was smiling before I realized.
It was at that moment that Lee Jun-suk had firmed his tide of victory. He was looking around the spectator seats. I was not sure if it was pure coincidence or if he knew where we were. Lee Jun-suk’s and my eyes met.
There was confident smile hanging on Lee Jun-suk’s face. Looking at the man’s smile, I was satisfied and swelling with anticipation for the coming battle.
Today, I think I’ll be relieving some of my stress.