TL Note: Here’s the extra queue guys. Merry Christmas btw. I ate so much today, so much…
Terms: OMG, I'm so sorry, I forgot.
Waki-gamae - One of the five stances in kendo.
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Volume 3 Chapter 24
After Sebasu took Ryouma to the appointed area, Rheinbach and the others talked about Ryouma. Before they could finish their discussion, Sebasu came back. When Shiva saw that, he quickly went to prepare.
Quickly entering his room, he gazed deeply at the halberd he was using during his service, and the armor he bought after retiring. Then he said to himself,
“How strong is that boy I wonder… Judging from his movements alone, I know that he’s skilled, but as to what extent, I don’t know. From what Rheinbach said, he’s not an opponent I could take lightly… How despicable, truly. That my body would age so.” [Shiva]
When he resigned, he could still fully fulfill his duties. But although people tried to stop him from resigning, he was resolute in his decision.
At the time, he had already begun to find his once favorite halberd that he swung with ease, gradually becoming heavier. It was only through arduous training in qigong that he eventually learned how to swing it as he did before. His worsening skill was the painful mark of age.
And in the end, he resigned as soon as he finished raising a successor.
After retiring, he did everything he could to keep himself from getting dull, and from getting older. He toiled against age, but no matter how hard he worked, he knew he couldn’t overcome it. And he would spend the nights drinking away his feelings.
Remiri who was listening while lying down said,
“The flow of time is like that. Everyone’s the same, you, me, there’s nothing else to it but to accept it. But the more prepared you are for it, the more accepting you’ll be. Shiva-chan, if you let your mind wander, you’ll grow old quickly.” [Remiri]
Said Remiri to Shiva. The sort of philosophy you’d expect from a race with long life like the dark elves.
Shiva smiled bitterly when he remembered those words.
“Seriously, Remiri… It’s hard to tell your age with you being a dark elf, I wonder if you even actually age at all. I don’t know exactly how old you are… But it’s most likely close to double mine. Yet your body hasn’t changed one bit since we first met. Your movements haven’t slowed one bit either. Even if you tell me you’re aging; I don’t see it one bit.
Swallowing my pride, I once asked her if she had a secret. And she just replied, “Because my heart’s young.” What’s that supposed to mean? No, even if I talk about this now, nothing will change. Right now, I should just focus on my spar with Ryouma.” [Shiva]
He cast away all his worldly thoughts, steeled himself for the upcoming spar, and finished his preparations. Then together with Remiri and Rheinbach, they teleported with Sebasu-san’s dimension magic, passed through the gate, and teleported a second time. The rocky place where the mock match would take place appeared, but for some reason, a part of the land has been levelled. And a great number of slimes were there, surrounding Ryouma. Shiva and the others then went to take a closer look.
“Thank you for this opportunity, Shiva-san.” [Ryouma]
“Same, let’s have a good spar. By the way, what’s up with the ground and these slimes?” [Shiva]
“The slimes are my slave demons. And the ground, I levelled with my magic for our spar. I figured it’d be better to have an area that’s closer to the ones in the training grounds.” [Ryouma]
“Oh, thank you for that. Do you have enough magic power left?” [Shiva]
“Don’t worry, the slimes were the one who used earth magic to level the ground.” [Ryouma]
“I see. Then as for the rules of this spar, the rules of the knight ceremony should be fine, right?” [Shiva]
“How does that work?” [Ryouma]
“We’ll each be fighting with real weapons in a one on one. And either side can use magic up to the intermediate level. In other words, it’s a real fight. You can use even magic weapons if you want; I don’t mind. It’d normally be dangerous without a healer, but fortunately, Remiri is here, so there’s nothing to worry on that front.” [Shiva]
“I can use healing magic all the way to the advanced level. Even if your limbs are cut off, as long as it’s immediately, I can put it back. So don’t worry, alright?” [Remiri]
Ryouma was surprised when he heard that, but he quickly understood, and then asked a question regarding the rules.
“Regarding the weapons…” [Ryouma]
As Ryouma said that, he had the weapon he was using split into slimes, and then back in to a single blade again. Then he continued,
“The weapon I’m using is like this, so… Is this still within the rules of one on one?” [Ryouma]
Shiva thought a bit, then he said,
“It’s my first time seeing someone use slimes as a weaopn, but… This is a match to see the extent of your abilities. If you’re using that as a weapon, then there’s no problem. But using the slimes themselves to attack is a breach of rules.” [Shiva]
“Thank you very much.” [Ryouma]
With the rules decided, the two fighters gripped their weapons, and walked towards each other over the ring (levelled ground). In between the two of them was Sebasu-san, the referee. Then with Sebasu-san’s ‘Fight!’ the match began.
“… Fight!” [Sebasu]
As the signal resounded, Shiva quickly thrusted his halberd to test Ryouma. But Ryouma dodged that, and he closed the distance between them. Shiva wasn’t going to let him do that, so he lifted his halberd up, and attacked with its handle. But Ryouma dodged again, and this time, he fired a ‘Fire Arrow’ towards Shiva. Dodging that, the former knight commander, shot back with his own.
The battlefield quickly turned into an exchange of fire arrows and clanging metal, but the two fighters have yet to show their full might. They were still measuring each other up.
If the people fighting were anyone else, Sebasu and the others would have a hard time believing the fight before them to be a mere warm up.
Marks of the fighting could be seen in the ground around the two as fierce fighting continued at its center. The continuing sound of clanging metal and crashing magic showed just how fierce the battle was. Not one bit of the fight resembled a mere warm up.
In truth, the two were already fighting at a pace such that normal soldiers or adventurers would have a hard time seeing their crossing swords. The only ones who would think those shooting arrows of magic and thrusting halberd to be nothing but a warmup, were Shiva and Ryouma. If it was a normal soldier, he would have been pierced without even having the time to react. A normal soldier wouldn’t be able to dodge and fight back. And likewise, a normal soldier wouldn’t be able to stop Ryouma’s counterattacks either. Such a thing is impossible for them. Shiva and Ryouma fought at a level so high, normal soldiers wouldn’t be able to do anything but watch and wait.
As that sort of battle continued, Shiva made his move.
Raising his halberd, he swung down towards Ryouma’s shoulder, and released magic power at the same time. Ryouma quickly reacted, and took a step back. But having sensed the flow of magic, he immediately jumped to the right.
In the next instant, whirlwind blew from the halberd, showering the area Ryouma was standing at a while ago with countless attacks.
Shiva’s halberd is a magic weapon imbued with the powers of the elementary wind magic ‘Wind Cutter’ and the intermediate wind magic ‘Tornado Cutter’. Activating ‘Tornado Cutter’ summons a small vortex of wind blades, cutting the foe into bits. Of course, Shiva held back in that attack just now, so Ryouma wouldn’t have died. But if he hadn’t dodged there, he would have incurred enough damage to be rendered incapable of fighting.
“You noticed.” [Shiva]
“If I hadn’t sensed the magic power flowing into your weapon, this spar would have ended right then and there.” [Ryouma]
The ability to detect magic power. The decision that the magic power being released was to activate a magic weapon. And the decision to dodge. If Ryouma could not do even a single one of those, or if Ryouma was even a moment slower in making a decision, it would have been too late, and he would not have been able to dodge.
But Ryouma spectacularly dodged unwounded. And Shiva could not help but praise Ryouma in his heart. At the same time however, he focused even harder.
And the battle began once more.
But this time, the both of them were going at it for real. And this time, Ryouma made his move.
“ ‘Fire Arrow’ “ [Ryouma]
Ryouma casted his magic, and slashed with his blade. It’s the usual pattern, but right before Ryouma attacked with his blade, he casted another magic. A chantless ‘Earth Needle’.
Shiva managed to dodge the chantless ‘Earth Needle’ that fired off from Ryouma’s feet, but that sudden attacked opened a hole in Shiva’s defense. In an instant, the distance between them was shortened, and Shiva was forced to receive Ryouma’s blade with the handle of his halberd clad in ki.
Immediately, Shiva began to fire off consecutive ‘Fire Ball’ at Ryouma, stopping him and letting Shiva take some distance. Then he fired off a ‘Wind Cutter’ from his own halberd.
As he did so, a question popped up.
(That’s weird… This boy is blocking my attacks, but he refuses to attack immediately after. …No, that’s wrong. He is attacking, but there’s some strain in his movements. His swordsmanship is certainly exceptional, and he can even use ‘Chantless Casting’. But… Compared to his skills, there is a strange hole in his fighting… I guess you could say there’s some clumsiness in his movements.
At first, I thought that he was feigning weakness on purpose, baiting me to attack, but… It’s too blunt. Could this boy possibly…)
As the two fighters continued to exchange blows, Shiva thought of testing his theory. And with a thrust, Shiva’s hypothesis was proven true.
(This boy most likely trained in swordsmanship and magic, and then combined those two by himself… He’s skilled with his sword, so I thought he wouldn’t have much openings, but looks like he’s still lacking in experience. That might be enough for your age, but it doesn’t change the fact that you there’s an opening!)
From here on out, Ryouma started to lose out.
If it was only with their martial arts, then it would have been a struggle for supremacy. But there’s another factor in this battle, and that’s magic.
Ryouma came up with his own methods, but his opponent, Shiva, is someone originally from this world. Even if both of them can use magic from the start, because of Shiva’s training as a knight, his skill was more polished, and he is able to cast magic right after attacking with his halberd. He can even cover for his openings with magic after making a bold move. Shiva’s movements were just much smoother than Ryouma’s.
Until now, it didn’t matter whether Ryouma’s movements were clumsy or not because of the absurd difference between his own abilities and his opponents’. But Shiva is someone with abilities that could rival Ryouma’s. An opponent like that wouldn’t fail to make use of an opening. And that small opening is the reason why the battle has turned to Shiva’s favor.
The battle continued like that with Ryouma losing out for a while. Then Ryouma suddenly clad his own body with ki, and he moved at a level faster than before.
Dodging Shiva’s magic, Ryouma went for Shiva’s chest. Shiva dodged that attack, and counterattacked. But now the small advantage he had was gone.
When Ryouma began to lose, he realized that he was losing out in magic, and at the same time he realized that he had forgotten his own specialty.
It’s common sense in this world to use magic to fight against magic, but there’s no magic in Earth.
So Ryouma decided to stop thinking of forcibly combining magic with the Kenjutsu he learned from earth. To begin with, that forced combination could be said to be nothing but a crude attempt, so it can’t be helped if it there are a few holes in it.
But then following that thought, as long as he doesn’t use that forced combination, he should be able to solve the problem. And so he instead devoted everything into the Kenjutsu that he has been practicing for a long time.
As Ryouma came to understand that, the battle became even fiercer.
Shiva swung his halberd from the upper left to the lower right, aiming for Ryouma’s head.
Even if Ryouma blocked the oncoming halberd with his sword, he would still get hit with his own blade from the impact, so he aimed for the blade instead. Ryouma took a waki-gamae stance with his blade on the right, then he moved his right foot diagonally forward, taking a half step. Then sinking his body, he swung his blade in a circle, parrying the attack of the halberd. And then immediately after, he instantly took a large step with his left leg, closing the distance as he went to cut Shiva’s left leg.
Shiva twisted his body back to dodge the blade, and aimed his halberd towards Ryouma’s leg to stop him. As Ryouma dodged that, Shiva casted ‘Wind Cutter’. And then having calculated where Ryouma would run to, he activated his magic weapon’s ‘Tornado Cutter’.
The flurry of spells bore through the earth, and a cloud of dust blew as the force of the wind carried dusts and stones with it. But Ryouma’s heightened speed from his ki allowed him to dodge. Then he swept the clouds of dust away, and he rushed towards Shiva again.
The two exchanged blows like that, pushing their own techniques to the limits. In the midst of that fierce battle with little room for wandering thoughts, Shiva finally remembered that sense of fulfillment that he once had.
The power he believed he had lost had returned. The abilities he thought to have dulled were sharpened to the point of comfort. Shiva swung his halberd freely, and fired magic continuously.
But such a battle wouldn’t last forever. In the midst of that fierce fighting, the two fighters suddenly took a step away from each other. As they each calmed their heavy breathing, they glared at each other with great pressure.
They did not arrange this. They did not plan for this. But they thought of the same thing. The next move would be the last.
“HA!” [Ryouma & Shiva]
At the height of tension, the shriek of fighting spirit echoed, and the curtain was drawn on the last exchange.
Ryouma pointed the tip of his sword to Shiva, and wielded it tightly. Then focusing all of the ki within his body to his legs, he rocketed off in an explosive speed that made the once visible distance between the two appear as nothing more than an illusion.
Shiva filled his halberd with magic power to meet Ryouma’s abnormal speed. Then he chantlessly casted ‘Tornado Cutter’. With Shiva using the same magic as his magic weapon, the resulting force doubled. As his halberd struck out, the combined force of the two whirlwinds exploded.
Ryouma dodged the halberd, but the whirlwind of wind blades cut his cheek, his shoulders, and even the left half of his body, leaving cuts and bleeding wounds. But Ryouma ignored the damage, and stepped in even further. He took back the ki he had allocated to his lower body, transferring it to the entirety of his body. And then with all of his strength, he thrusted his sword.
Shiva tried to twist his body as hard as he could to dodge that thrust that could kill him instantly, but the blade still reached his left flank, and a shallow, bleeding wound was cut.
Because of the force from the thrust, Ryouma’s body kept going. But strengthening his legs with his ki, he stepped hard into the ground, forcefully stopped his body, and turned. Then he raised his sword high, reaching to his back. And using the load in his legs and knees like a spring, he jumped as if he were bouncing towards Shiva, and slashed.
At the same moment, Shiva brought back his halberd, and met Ryouma’s attack.
In the next instant, blood sprayed into the air.