「Ho, this is a good location」
「Isn’t it? Though, I didn’t think that I would invite anyone」
Arubaku mountain – the secret area where I always train.
Usually, there’s no one other than me, but today there’s someone else.
Not facing each other, we begin our own preparations while exchanging comments.
At first glance, the atmosphere seems friendly. In reality, it’s like a bloated paper balloon. Even a small movement would pop it, such was the danger of the situation.
After waiting for thirty years, I will finally be trading blows with my nemesis.
I relax my arm muscles while Chester begins shadow-boxing an imaginary enemy.
It symbolizes the difference in our preparation methods: soft and hard.
Unfortunately, both of us are probably thinking the same thing:
I can’t wait to fight.
I wasted twelve years training by myself while trying to hide my power. How frustrating it was… Bearing these sentiments, with full force, I bump fists with my rival (of my previous life).
If my heart was not trembling, then I might as well be a dead tree.
I have not felt this trembling for 50 years. The only thing I can think of is how much I look forward to this fight.
「It’s about time, isn’t it? It’s getting late.」
As I thought. Someone who is his equal, does not exist.
In the end, the one who hungers for battle is the same as him. So it should be no surprise that we’re similar.
I take the Shijima stance called “Running Water”. It is a basic stance which emphasizes on defense. This structure took years to ingrain into the brain and creates an armor which permeates the body.
On the other hand, Chester lowers his weakened left hand to his waist, taking into account a possible strike.
After fighting with him for so long, I recognize this as one of the basic stances.
The deciding factor between two seasoned warriors is not compatibility, but experience. Basic movements encompass the whole school of Martial Arts, and is a mysterious and difficult thing to master.
A genuine fight without petty tricks.1
No need for words.
I want to fight soon, even a second quicker would be fine.
「Shijima Style 「Original」 Master, Slava Shijima. Come」
「Primo Style founder, Chester. Let’s start. 」
As I claim the name of my previous life, Chester has an intense smile on his face.
He had most likely been empty ever since he had said the last rites of the deceased for me.
Despite finishing our declaration for the duel, we are not moving.
Both of them did not move an inch. The fight had begun and the both of them understood that. Even though both of them were motionless, there was no longer any atmosphere of fun.
The tension in the air pierces my face, a feeling I have not experienced for a long time.
Not a single sound can be heard, not even the wind. Wild beasts probably sensed the killing intent we emitted, leaving not even a trace of life in the surroundings.2
Just one, no, two exceptions. Us.
…Fumu, it might not be bad to scare them a little
The eternal silence is suddenly broken,
Taking a defensive stance, I make the first move.
An instant. In the instant Chester was off guard, I take the opportunity and advance.
5 meters of distance is closed in a step. Chester, who was taken off guard, has a bitter expression. However, that too is only for a moment.
The weakened left hand melts into the air. Reaching from relaxation to maximum speed in a second, it disappears.
However, I did not miss that initial movement. Like a snake that blends into darkness, the concealed Adamant(ine) whip lashes forward.
If I had received a direct hit, my bones would probably break due to the blade inside the whip. Even poison would have been preferable to that.
However, anticipating the snake-like movement, I give up the first move and let the whip coil around my glove.
It’s a metal plate but by using arm movements, I utilize the wrist guard to its maximum potential.
Even then, my wrist guard was scratched and shaved. Even if it’s a good blade, that should be impossible.
A slight pain runs through my body, but since he fell for my trick, then it is a cheap price. Using my left arm, I direct the force towards him.
However, this old man is reluctant to raise his arm. Even after moving from a defensive stance to create an opening… Also if my body was larger I might not have been able to dodge so easily.
Well, even though I took so much effort, it wouldn’t be enough just to launch a bold move.
Originally, the whip lashed to the ground, but I redirected the direction of the fast motion of the whip towards the sky.
With a small force, the fast whip flies towards the sky.
A small voice leaks from Chester, who is sweating.
As expected, his left hand is pulled up. His defenseless stance is still tight. It’ll be bad if I rush.
Leaving my hand with the whip coiled around, I concentrate Mana into my left hand. Let’s see if it’s effective on him.
Shijima Style, Palm Bottom 「Valiant」── A technique which involves concentrating explosive mana into the palm, twisting it and then striking.
Chester, at best, could only stop the strike due to his bad stance.
Chester leaps back, but not before I strike his flank.
As if it is a raging bull flying, the old guy’s body flies horizontal to the ground.
If he was an average martial artist, I might have suspected an instant death. But he was once the man who united all of the underworld martial arts. Putting aside whether he was serious, the previous strike probably only woke him up.
「You don’t seem to have dulled.」
「Bullshit. It’s a piece of cake.」
Even though the edge of his mouth is bleeding, he smiles.
Aah, this is fun. Since when was fighting so fun?
It’s like tasting an exquisite food. I don’t want to stop, no, there’s no way I’ll stop.
Both Chester and I are laughing so hard that our cheeks hurt.
Without any need for words, we start the second bout at the same time.
Being very careful, Chester was frustrating but strong.
That left arm which can bend like a whip is troublesome.
It can instantly accelerate from the relaxed and limp state to maximum speed.
Yet the fact that it can freely move in that crafty trajectory, is very reminiscent of a snake. Its power can probably easily shatter steel.
Blessed with a long reach, the distance he creates is huge. Having been burned before, the distance, especially with my small body, feels tremendous.
However, with such a light body, I gain maneuverability.
Even then I probably won’t be able to change my disadvantage, but I already knew this from the start.
To win against him now, it’s necessary to be prepared to set foot in the netherworld.
That guy too probably knows all of this. Having a good grasp of his strengths, he developed the battle in such a way to take advantage of his reach.
Chester is strong, hence I take some measures.
The moment I got close, this guy would completely overtake me.
…The steel snake lashes out. It’s even faster than I thought!
If I hadn’t been targeting his defense since the beginning, I don’t think I would’ve been able to defend.
In response to the precise aim towards my temple, I try to defend by bringing up by arm. I mustn’t break my stance. If I do, then it’s all over. Getting hit in my vitals is out of the question.
Within an instant, I make the decision to meet the blow.
It’ll come, it’s coming, it came!
The blow comes heavier and faster than expected.
It gave the illusion of a lump of lead tied to a rope smashing into me.
Maintaining my defensive stance, leaving a shoe mark on the floor, I slide forward.
Heavy, it’s too heavy. I can’t receive the blow.
With his arms raised, he presses his lips together.
I’ll say, what the hell am I fighting against?
Somehow maintaining my posture, Chester presses on with his assault.
Certainly, the blows are heavy. It’s definitely stronger than mine.
However, don’t underestimate me. The Shijima stance is a defensive stance you know?
Chester’s steel fist accurately targets my face.
If I’m hit by that, even dying will be lucky, it wouldn’t be weird if I was blown away, thus I ready my arms.
Don’t underestimate the Shijima Style that is devoted to defending.
Instead of talking, I devote my defense to below my arms.
I place my knee in the trajectory.
Similar to movement of the protruding arm, my knee pierces Chester’s face.
I can feel his nose break. However, sinking my knee into his face, he grabs my right arm.
This is bad! The moment I thought that, a fist sinks into my belly. While spitting out blood, I am sent flying. He forcefully increases our distance.
「Gaff, Vue….. Gukukuku, this is fun, Chester!」
「Bonetly, Yor za besht!」4
While discharging the blood remaining in our throat, and blowing blood out of our noses, we laugh.
Chester’s face is so bloody that I can’t recognize him anymore.
Though, I haven’t seen that expression on that old man before, it’s a pure smile.
My face isn’t as beat-up as his, but my internal organs are badly damaged.
Amidst all the damage, that fist just now wasn’t just a half-decent attack.
Both sides are being unreasonable to each other.
I parry Chester’s blow. But before I can retaliate, he continues his assault.
I am taking more damage than him, so I feel like crying.
Even then, this feeling of happiness – geez, I never thought I would become crazy.
However, that is that. The person that seeks to become the strongest is going to be such a person.
Chester fixes his broken nose. I spit out all the clogged blood that had prevented me from taking a proper breath.
Now there are no problems. Let’s continue.
Distance virtually doesn’t exist. Chester closes the distance within a moment, unleashing his honestly polished fist.
I try to take his fist and bend it out of the limit of its range of motion.
If I do that, his arm will break – such was the feeling I had. Chester once again uses his remaining right arm to smash my nose. The old geezer of the past who did not mind such pain. Wincing only a little, it’s almost a foul.
However, this time I won’t retreat. In order to push his left hand at a right angle to his body, I step forward.
A crisp sound resounds, Chester’s palm is facing himself.
It definitely broke! Having crushed my enemy’s greatest weapon, my face is filled with delight – but the next moment, I tremble in agony.
The sight of his knee piercing my stomach enters my sight. Hell-like burning and pain dominates my abdomen. Too much pain for me to tolerate, I collapse on the vomit and blood splattered on the ground.
Although pain dominates my body, my mind is strangely calm, I cannot allow my body to rest.
Seeing his foot that tries to step on my body, my hand grabs his feet as though the pain in my abdomen suddenly disappeared.
Because of my collapsed posture, avoiding the trajectory of his attacks are the best I can manage, but having raised one leg, Chester’s body is supported by only one leg.
Thus, I easily break his balance and force him to collapse.
A moment of unexpected silence resumes. While each of us grimaces in pain, we rebuild our posture and retake some distance.
「Ha~, Ha~ .. you’re getting close to your limit aren’t you?」
「Ze, kaha …. it’s the same for you too isn’t …. bakayaro5, take more care of your elders. Breaking it without holding back」
Stomach and Arms. Both of us, protecting our most severely damaged parts.
If it’s just pain there’s no problem. However, both of us are getting physically exhausted.
A question similar to our desires, we answer with our actions. (TLN: The question is ‘Who will win?’)
The next bout will be the last one. It goes without saying, I understand that.
Offensive and defensive. The contrasting stances last bout, and our shadows meet.
The damage we have taken is almost equal. But I understand that I have the advantage.
Having destroyed his strongest offensive, his left hand, he can only attack using his right arm or execute a kick.
In comparison, though my stomach is destroyed, if it’s only pain then it will not limit my movements. Speaking solely in terms of damage, I have taken more but, the one who stands at the end is the winner, and until I announce myself as the winner I will not give up.
Stretching my consciousness to the limit, that moment seems to stretch on for eternity. Slowly…in the world I see, I see…Primo, the style that puts its absolute trust in its fist, as I thought the last attack is a right punch!
I assume to running water stance in order to intercept it.
His right fist draws an arc –
Then, it did not even graze me.
「(Bakana! (Impossible!) A feint, rotation?!)」
My arms were raised in a guard to intercept. Yet, Chester’s right arm passed only before my guard.
There’s no way this man would’ve measured the distance wrongly …. This must be a feint!?
「(If you kick or turn kick – no way)」
If it’s not the right fist, then what is it!
Surprised, my mind blanks out for a moment.
….By the time I noticed, it was too late. Likened to a blade of a swordsman, Primo style’s left fist.
In such a scenario, there’s no way he would use that…
「(The broken left fist ….)」
…….Damn, such a shame.
In that slowed down time, the moment before my consciousness turned white, I felt his left fist touching my chin. The broken left fist. A backhand blow, hammers my chin.