「Well then, here I come! KURONOOOOOOOO!」(Kai)
Giving a spirited roar, Kai throws his wooden sword high into the air.
The ceiling is easily more than twenty meters above the arena, and the wooden sword spins loudly about halfway up that distance.
Before I can begin to wonder what the point of throwing his weapon away was, Kai springs up in a completely vertical direction. It’s as if he’s trying to catch up to the sword that he threw – actually, he’s really caught up to it.
Seriously, he can reach a height of ten meters with a vertical jump? I don’t know whether he’s using a martial skill or it’s a natural jump, but either way, it’s clear that he’s more agile than I am.
The moment the restrictions of gravity take hold of the thrown sword and it begins its descent towards the ground, Kai grips its handle once more.
The martial skill he unleashes adds the force of gravity to his attack as he attacks from above like a meteor.
Couldn’t he have just jumped while holding his sword without having to throw it…? It’s not the time to be thinking about that. No matter how I look at it, this attack contains a lot of power; it would be dangerous to receive a direct hit.
My only option is to evade – but I’ve just noticed something. One of the collapsed guards is lying right at my feet.
The man, who is lying completely motionless, is wearing the uniform of a knight cadet and still tightly grasping his wooden sword.
This is bad. If I avoid this attack, it’ll land right on this guy. Even if it’s not a direct hit, there’s no doubt that he’ll at least get caught up in the shockwave.
That『Break Impact』is probably a superior version of the Break technique that the Armored Knights were using at the battle of Alzas. It’s not difficult to imagine that it’ll release quite a shockwave when it hits the ground.
Then I suppose I’ll evade it while carrying this guy.
No, there’s no way I have time to do that. Kai’s martial skill will land right on top of my head just as I pick the guy up.
Damn it, there’s no choice but to take the attack head-on and reduce its power as much as possible!
I’m still holding the normal-sized wooden sword that I randomly chose for the duel. I cleaned them all up with just『Shock Buster』so I didn’t use Blackening, but damn, I suppose I should have finished things more quickly.
Even while I internally complain to myself, I raise my wooden sword to stop Kai’s as it flies towards me. I really don’t know how, but somehow my Blackening completes in that instant.
Kai’s attack is powerful, as if telling me that he doesn’t need to feint and simply plans to beat me down with raw strength, and I stop it with this unreliable, Blackened wooden sword.
As I feel a tremendous amount of pressure on both of my arms, I also hear the sound that I expected to hear, the creaking sound of my weapon being destroyed.
Damn it, I didn’t manage to block it completely after all.
Clicking my tongue mentally, I endure the impact that shakes my entire body. Kai’s martial skill smashes my wooden sword, strikes the ground and releases a shockwave. The male student I covered hasn’t been blown away too far. Great. He just rolled across the ground a little, so he should be fine.
「Bullet Arts – Shock Buster.」(Kurono)
I was preparing my counterattack while using my Blackening. Full Burst would be impossible, but it is possible to release enough bullets to fill the air so densely that there isn’t any space to dodge them at point-blank distance.
On top of that, all of them have the lightning element added to them through『Shock Buster.』The space between the barrage of bullets is filled with purple lightning. Just like a net of electricity.
Kai, whose body is rigid after releasing his martial skill, has no technique that can dodge or block this.
My magic bullets of electricity travel the minimal distance of less than one meter and all strike his broad chest. The impact sends his large, muscular body flying away with ease.
Of course, electrical attacks cause numbness. If the lightning is strong enough, it is possible that『Paralysis』is inflicted as a Status Effect. Yes, just like the Greed-Gore did to me.
In any case, my『Shock Buster』doesn’t have the power or spell formula necessary to inflict『Paralysis』, but surely Kai’s limbs will be feeling numb after receiving such a spectacular critical hit.
In other words, he is falling onto the arena without being able to put up any kind of defense –
「Tweh! Uhegh… I didn’t think that I’d be receiving a lightning attack when Sharl’s not around.」(Kai)
Kai lands on the ground casually and magnificently, like a gymnast. His control over his body is incredible, as if being blown away by my attack was just an act. He has agility equivalent to that of a War Cat.
No, the thing I should be surprised about is his toughness. His resistance to Status Effects is as good as mine, even though I have a remodeled body. Or maybe he trains by receiving a lot of lightning attacks on a regular basis.
「But is this that black magic thing? Heh, it’s not all that great.」 (Kai)
Ah, he’s wearing an expression that tells me that he thinks my black magic is simple. It kind of annoys me. Should I give him a『Grenade Burst』from『Overdrive?』
Wait, calm down, me. Don’t forget your original goal. You haven’t tested out your new divine protections yet, so you can bring this match to an end later.
No, that’s not right; the match will be decided in a single moment.
「I guess a sword is best for a Berserker after all! Hey, your sword’s broken, so I don’t mind waiting for you to get another one, you know?」(Kai)
「No, I don’t need it. Monsters don’t wait for you to pick up your weapon, after all.」(Kurono)
「Heh, just what I’d expect from the guy who killed the Greed-Gore with his bare hands. What amazing confidence!」(Kai)
No, truthfully, I’m really anxious about the fact that I don’t have my cursed weapons on me.
But I have to give these kinds of responses. These are necessary words to get Kai in the mood.
Because there’s no point if he doesn’t keep using attacks that he puts all of his strength into.
「Ah, don’t let your guard down just because I’m unarmed. Come at me as if you mean to kill me.」(Kurono)
They’re the exact same words I said to Helen, a line that easily provokes. She got really angry, but –
「FINE BY ME!」(Kai)
Kai seems really happy. Ah, I suppose he’s really battle-crazed after all.
He brandishes his enormous wooden sword and steps forward with enough force that the ground sinks beneath his foot before breaking off into a run. He’s so fast that I almost lose sight of him. It takes him only two steps to reach his top speed.
He’ll be suspicious if I just stand here silently. I have no doubt that he’s the type of person who makes decisions based on instinct rather than deduce things through logical thinking.
If I hold back even a little, he’ll realize something is going on.
That’s why I’ll fire distracting projectiles at full power. I’ll use Gatling Burst.
「I’ve already shown you that those have no effect, haven’t I?!」(Kai)
I know. I know that, but I hadn’t expected you to charge in like that completely unguarded.
Without forgetting that this is a mock battle, I use soft projectiles that will simply make a forceful impact if they hit rather than the usual pseudo-Fullmetal Jacket projectiles.
However, they’re still enough to knock a person out if they hit their head. Several hundred of them were enough to stop even the Rank 4 adventurer Vulcan in his tracks.
Despite that, this guy is pushing on quickly and forcefully, as if this storm of bullets is actually simply made of raindrops.
As expected of someone who is Rank 5, he’s tough.
「That was close!」(Kai)
A single red explosive projectile emerges behind the hail of rapidly-fired black bullets. Its size and the power hidden within it are on another level, so it’s not really hidden among the bullets, however.
But it seems that even Kai would choose to evade this projectile.
Still, I fired almost without making a single movement, but he reacted super-quickly as if he knew exactly when I was going to fire it. And above all, his body is incredible for being able to react as fast as his mind.
The direction of his movement turned ninety degrees while maintaining full speed.
The Grenade that missed its target sails through the air until it finally collides with the arena’s wall.
「That one gave me the chills!」(Kai)
With an explosive sound echoing through the arena and a black-red explosion in the background, Kai shouts these words as he returns to his previous course of movement.
If he takes three more steps from there, his wooden sword will reach me. The genius swordsman is stepping into lethal range.
「Don’t let it end like this –」(Kai)
My final discharge. I seriously used the pseudo-Fullmetal Jacket for this one shot, but as expected, it’s being dodged.
The magic bullet sails fruitlessly over Kai’s head as he bends his body down slightly.
Maybe it was easier to sense because of the small amount of killing intent I put into it.
It’s such a perfect evasion that even I can’t help but admire it. It’s not just that he’s dodged it; it’s incredible that he simultaneously moved his body into a position that leads into his incoming attack.
That’s right, Kai is finally releasing an attack that I’m satisfied with. A martial skill so powerful that I’m praying that it won’t end things here.
A single, sweeping attack. I can’t see the tip of his weapon due to its speed, but the mana imbued in the martial skill forms a swiftly-trailing aura behind the weapon.
Unlike my Kuronagi, the piercing light that is the color of an ocean reflecting sunlight is fascinatingly beautiful.
But this beautiful attack is enough to knock someone out. Actually, even with a wooden sword, I’m pretty sure this would kill an ordinary person with ease, wouldn’t it?
Ah, damn it, this is scary after all. Even though this is what I wanted, taking such a dangerous-looking attack completely unguarded is terrifying.
But I don’t have any other choice; this is necessary to test my second divine protection.
The first divine protection,『Overdrive』, grants me physical strength. And the second divine protection –
Grants me an iron-like defense. In other words, it’s a hardening ability.
There are basic defensive measures such as the『Protect Boost』spell or the martial skill,『Guard.』Both of them basically work by covering the entire body with mana to harden it, and the second divine protection I’m using now relies on the same principle.
However, the difference between it and the other defensive measures is like the difference between the sky and the earth. And because its effect is so simple, it’s extraordinarily easy to use.
The pseudo-earth-element black mana turns into a visible gray aura that surrounds me for only a moment.
It takes a moment to cast and another moment to exhibit its effect. But that’s fast enough to block this attack.
As Kai lets out a shout of astonishment, it’s drowned out by the deafening noise of the wooden sword being smashed to pieces as it strikes my chest.
No matter how powerful the martial skill is, if the weapon itself is weak, it’s only natural that it would be destroyed. No matter how hard you try, you can’t break a boulder with a wooden sword.
My body has transformed into steel even harder than a boulder, so this is the natural result. I’ve taken no damage. In fact, I didn’t feel any impact at all.
But I’m really glad it worked – ah, I don’t have time to be celebrating.
The moment after Kai’s weapon is destroyed is when he has a fatal opening that will never appear again if I let him escape here. I’ll hit him with all of my strength here to decide the match.
The crimson magic circle that has appeared on the back of my hand grants me the strength of an enraged Wrath-Pun.
「Clench your teeth –」(Kurono)
Burning red and destructive black. As my right arm draws a faint spiral of these two colors, it closes in on Kai’s defenseless body.
Using『Wrath Impact』would kill him. But『Overdrive』should give me more than enough strength to knock Kai out.
I feel my attack connect. At that moment, my fist extends in a straight punch thrown with all my might.
And then Kai’s body, which is right in front of me, vanishes. Without even letting out a groan, he’s been sent flying all the way to the back of the arena at an incredible speed.
There should have been twenty meters between us and the wall behind him, but he travels that distance without slowing down and crashes into the wall. Kai’s back sinks into the gray wall that’s made of an inorganic, concrete-like substance.
The roaring sound echoing in the arena and the deep fissures running along the wall’s surface show just how powerful the impact was.
「… Are you going to keep going?」(Kurono)
One second, two seconds, three seconds pass – there’s no response.
Gravity pulls Kai’s body that is half-buried in the wall to the ground, where he finally collapses. He sinks onto the ground without being able to move his arms at all, let alone put up a defensive stance.
「I suppose I’m the winner of this match.」(Kurono)
He seems to be completely unconscious, so I don’t think he can hear me, though.
My experiment disguised as a contest has finished. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t manage to test out my third divine protection, but I suppose I’ll just have to look for another opportunity for that.
Just as I begin to relax –
A chill runs down my spine and the alarm bells of my sixth sense go off.
This is killing intent.
By the time I turn around reflexively, I see the tip of a blade that’s already right in front of my eyes.
A sword radiating a dazzling silver light. Its blade curves in a wave-like shape. It’s a flamberge made of Pure Mythril. Unlike a wooden sword, it will bring death to anyone cut by it.
The one swinging this beautiful sword is a knight wearing a suit of armor and helmet radiating the same silver light.
The full-platemail that covers him head to toe in Mythril has a streamlined shape and purple decorations everywhere. What a beautiful design.
However, the face visible through the helmet that has its beak-shaped visor raised is not that of a handsome man befitting of such armor, but a skull that looks like it belongs to a grim reaper. The purple light in its eye sockets serve as proof of the false life that moves this dead body.
That’s right, this is an Undead knight being controlled through『Necromancy.』
Just because I’ve figured out its identity doesn’t mean that its attack is going to stop. The timing of this attack is just too perfect.
This horizontal swing aimed at my neck isn’t slow enough that I’ll be able to duck under it in time. The reach of this gleaming Mythril blade isn’t short enough for me to escape it with a back-step.
The second divine protection,『Overgear』, is… impossible; I won’t be able to use it for a second time quickly enough.
My cursed weapons aren’t present and I’m not wearing my demon’s coat. There’s nothing I can do – no, there is only one thing I can do.
Perhaps even this danger is something that has been prepared for me. This situation is so perfect that I can’t help but suspect this.
It’s perfect for testing my third divine protection.
I activate it – and as I do, time stops.