- [Vol.2] Chapter 16: On The Day Of Departure
- [Vol.2] Chapter 17: The Bustling City
- [Vol.2] Chapter 18: Challenger
- [Vol.2] Chapter 19: Leaving Arufareia
- [Vol.2] Chapter 20: Mountain Village Natousha
- [Vol.2] Chapter 21: The『Eye』of Skywatching
- [Vol.2] Chapter 22: Surging Waves
- [Vol.2] Chapter 23: Child of Wind
- [Vol.2] Chapter 24 – Calm
- [Vol.2] Chapter 25 – Conclusion
- [Vol.2] Chapter 26 – The Moon and Hot Spring
- [Vol.2] Chapter 26.5 – Bonus: A Different Battle
- [Vol. 2] Chapter 27 – Crawling Mountain
- [Vol. 2] Chapter 28 – Red Crystal
- [Vol.2] Chapter 29 – Tarisberg
- [Vol. 2] Chapter 30 – Sharpening one’s Fangs
- [Vol.2] Chapter 31 – Before the Storm……
- [Vol.2] Chapter 32 – “Martial Arts”
- [Vol.2] Chapter 33 – Crimson Crystal Dragon Fang
- [Vol.2] Chapter 34 – Garden of Swaying Trees and Flowing Water
Update on Project Gender Bender
- [Vol.1] Prologue
- [Vol.1] Boy and Girl
- [Vol.1] Chapter 1: Five and Hundred Six Year Old Boy
- [Vol.1] Chapter 2: The World After The Void
- [Vol.1] Chapter 3: Shijima’s Preaching
- [Vol.1] Chapter 4: Martial Arts Class
- [Vol.1] Chapter 5: The Old Man’s Morning
- [Vol.1] Chapter 6: Destiny Creates Strange Coincidences To My Previous Life
- [Vol.1] Chapter 7: Strange Coincidences from my Previous Life Become Even More Entangled
- [Vol.1] Chapter 8: Worthy Opponent
- [Vol.1] Chapter 9: Beyond Shijima (Shijima No Kanata)
- [Vol.1] Chapter 10: After The Duel
- [Vol.1] Chapter 11: The Pale/White Girl
- [Vol.1] Chapter 12: Heavenly Ability
- [Vol.1] Chapter 13: The Girl Named Cheryl
- [Vol.1] Chapter 14: The Origin of the Fist
- [Vol.1] Chapter 15 – The Road Followed
Sorry for my not posting last week. I was kidnapped to a place with no internet connection whatsoever. Well, I apologize for being late
Anyway, here’s the next chapter
As I fixed my eyes on the crystals approaching at a high speed I let out a small breath and started to run with gentle movements.
Now that I’ve removed Cherry Blossoms Prototype I can’t do much. Because I gave priority to the healing magic, I used less magical power than usual for body reinforcement.
Though I take pride in the fact that among this area’s martial artists no one can catch up to my output even if they put their all into it. However, standing up to that powerful demonic beast, that’s just completely useless.
Under the present conditions of all my abilities having declined, it’s impossible for me to smash those crystals like a while ago. Therefore, I actually can only use one method.
It’s simple, really.
I’ll continue dodging until my fist is healed. Other than that there’s nothing else I can do.
Every hit would certainly cause a fatal injury so I have to avoid everything this rain of death, in which it wouldn’t be unusual to die in, has to offer without exception.
That’s the way I chose.
The flying crystals aimed at me as I was running and hit the ground at a tremendous speed.
The sharp crystals shook the ground with its great momentum and deeply pierced into the soil.
……It’s not too difficult to imagine that being my body instead.
If those crimson fangs where to hit — for example my abdomen, my bones would be smashed, my internal organs would be crushed and pierced, the wound in my torso would widen ending in cutting my body in two.
Then it would just pierce the ground as if nothing happened. With only the bare minimum of magical power used to move my body it would just penetrate me as if I didn’t use any at all. That’s the offensive power that crystal hid.
Every crystal approaching me held such a future for me.
Thus, I had to dodge every one of those red crystals.
“(Good grief, how did that Alma break this?)”
While those crystals aiming for my shadow hit the ground one after the other what incidentally floated through my mind was the face of my disciple.
Although, I was watching her while I attended school, but the present Alma grew up so much, however, the past me …… can’t even walk shoulder to shoulder with the present me.
Then how did you defeat Tarisberg? Where you just blessed with good luck — or is it this thing about the individual differences Monica was talking about?
The word Tarisberg is said to be used to collectively refer to gigantic beasts which negate magic. They say that each one takes on a different appearance, their size and strength also seem to differ.
Then Alma’s opponent should have been somewhat weaker than this one.
I dodged the accurately aimed crystal by somersaulting to the back and avoided the subsequent projectile reaching the ground by putting some power in my right hand and jumping to the right side.
……Fumu, although it’s not perfectly healed, looks like it recovered enough so that I won’t feel any pain if it’s something of this degree, huh?
I glanced at the forest of red crystals which was created in the blink of an eye and raised my right hand, swung my dangling wrist.
While I was thinking, both of my hands have recovered to some extent. However, looks like it will still take some time before I can use all my power, huh?
After I checked the condition of my fist I looked up at Tarisberg. The reason for that was because I felt suspicious as the crystals that poured down on me like rain just a while ago suddenly stopped.
I thought that if it finished I could quickly complete my fist’s treatment and be a little bit more at ease but, as I thought, that legendary beast isn’t lenient.
There, crimson crystals were forming in rows again.
──While avoiding the attacks I noticed that the trajectory of the crystals Tarisberg shoots have two patterns.
One is a bullet which has some aim to it, but it is shot disorderly as if “assuming that it will miss”.
As one can imagine, there’s no way those are going to hit if I stay completely still. Therefore, its aim isn’t the hostile individual, namely me, but an attack aiming for that area.
It’s a seemingly meaningless attack. Its accuracy is even lower than a casually shot attack, like this it’s a technique that will never hit.
However, combined with the other type, its effect is tremendous.
The other trajectory is a simple and therefore powerful “precisely aimed” bullet.
I’m interested how that giant is able to aim for such a small mark like me, but that’s fine.
What’s important is that it aims for my approximate position.
However, its trajectory is linear and other than troublesome magic it isn’t guided, so as long as one is agile enough it can be easily avoided.
So those randomly shot crystals become troublesome.
If you don’t move you won’t get hit, in other words, if you move there’s a possibility of getting hit.
Move the target with precisely aimed shots and kill it with bullets purposely aimed loosely.
This is very crafty for a new-born monster.
It has a big body, can destroy the attributes’ power and it’s also clever.
Having found one more reason for this monster being a monster, my mouth twisted into a smile.
Cunning and brutal, splendid, splendid. Rather it seems to be without competition.
I confirmed my fist’s condition again. As before it’s not enough to crush the crystals with force, but precise movements are possible.
Perfect, isn’t it?.……It’s just the right opportunity to try that out.
“–Original technique, “Swaying Trees””
While remembering a certain woman I murmured that newly created name.
It wasn’t really necessary for me to say it out loud as there’s no one who knows about the technique and no one can ask a beast who doesn’t even understand words.
The stance used is “Flowing Water” which is excellent for receiving attacks. To avoid the intense “movements” of that barrage raining down since a while ago I have to be as “calm” as a clear stream.
Very small, thin and weak magical power started to circle around me.
It was basically like using magical power to build a defensive wall. However, it just doesn’t have any defensive properties to it. It won’t pose any hindrance so it’s as good as if nothing was there.
It’s impossible to defend against those crystals coming this way with this. If I get hit directly it’ll end the way I just imagined.
Then why did I stop walking?
──It’s extremely simple, it’s no longer necessary to dodge.
The crystals aimed at me approached and broke through the magic I spread around me.
Obviously. As I said some time ago, it doesn’t have any defensive properties.
At this moment the crystal was an arm’s length away from me. It’s too late to try and dodge it now. If it was the same as before the crystal would simply drill through my body
However, that won’t be my future. Even if it didn’t fulfil the role of Armor and it was already broken through.
Still, this — is the strongest and most absolute defence I can use as of now.
I guessed every possible attack and took the Running Water stance, excellent in receiving.
I stretched out my hand to the crystal as the stance demanded — and swung my hand as if trying to swat away an insect.
Just when I thought the crystal would shred the arm I launched at it, at that moment, the crystal finally broke with the attack power of “Cherry Blossoms Prototype”, as seen before.
Like an insect which got hit away it missed its target and was send flying to a place somewhere behind me.
A bulky, massive crystal gave off a huge sound behind me and pierced the ground.
“Kuku, as expected, looks like you were surprised.”
Looking at Tarisberg’s expression filled with hatred, I could clearly see bewilderment floating over it. Noticing that I laughed wickedly.
As long as it has some intelligence it would be surprised.
Regardless of the magical power I put inside my body, the magical power I expanded outside my body to receive the crystal was weak and even compared to the average person it was inferior.
Even so, those crystal bullets which crushed trees and gouged out the ground were deflected with that minimum amount of magical power.
Its surprise only lasted for an instant when a rage similar to the flames of hell appeared on Tarisberg’s face as if it’s most praised weapon got laughed at.
In the next moment, all the crystals lined up in the sky were launched towards me at once.
As I thought, there were two types of trajectories. So if I stay at this place I have to take on a part of that army.
The thin magical power was still revolving around me.
No matter how huge its mass is– those crystals are too small to kill me the way I am now.
”Swaying Trees” which spreads a thin film of weak magical power around me.
Its nature is not “defensive” but “analytical”.
I expanded my magical power which can be said to be a part of myself and made it surround me.
Naturally, attacks aimed at me will first touch that magical flow before me.
If it were only that, then this magical flow doesn’t have any meaning to it. There’s no way for it to stop the attack or weaken its power.
However, the flowing magical power can accurately read the direction of the approaching attack.
But just ejecting it doesn’t have that effect. It can only accurately read the strength and direction of a huge force touching it simply because the flowing magical power is in motion.
And after I can see the powers flow I can swallow it using the Shijima style and manipulate it.
──Well, one would get it without me saying it, but I used Sonia’s “Fragrant Body” as basis for “Swaying Trees”.
Although it’s not to the extent of Sonia’s Fragrant Body with which she can feel an attack’s origin and trajectory even with her eyes closed by reading the wind’s flow, it can read the all the trajectories of attacks while seeing them with one’s eyes and as long as one can grasp the flow of power this can show a great effect while using little magical power.
I’m proud of this “Swaying Trees” which is like a big tree getting swayed by a rivers flow, not putting shame to the name “Flowing Water”.
I deflected the approaching crystal with slight power.
Something like changing the direction of powers is mere child’s play before the “Flowing Water” stance.
I only have to slightly change the direction of said power without having to use any of my own power. With that alone I can make those crystals fly in a different direction without them ever getting to injure my body.
How much time passed, I wonder.
The crystal rain stopped leaving my surroundings to look like a pincushion.
Nonetheless, the place where I’m standing, similar like a spotlight illuminating a dark stage, maintained a clean, circular shape.
“……Oh, ran out of ammunition, huh?”
In the end I’m unhurt.
The crimson crystals shot out with fiery passion didn’t give my body a single scratch and just made the ground look like Tarisberg’s back.
If I knew “Swaying Trees” had that much of an effect I would have been great if I used it earlier, but unfortunately I can’t move my body as I please in the sky so it would be difficult to perform such precise movements even if I can read the attacks.
At first glance it seems like the strongest defensive skill but it is still inadequate when compared with Sonia’s skill.
……Regretfully, it isn’t effective on enemies like Chester who can change the direction of their force in the middle of their attack.
However, it’s true that it’s effective against long-ranged attacks. I became stronger again. One could put it like that.
Now, while I was thinking those things──
I repeatedly opened and closed my hand.……Perfect. I might even be able to fight Chester like this.
I strongly clenched my fist and looked at Tarisberg.
I felt like there was some perplexity mixed in that angry expression.
Then I looked around incidentally.
The mountains that were covered in trees looked tattered caused by the crystal bullets and Tarisberg’s own movements.
All of that was aimed at me so this horrible sight the collateral damage, so to speak.
……I’d prefer to not cause any more damage to nature.
Let’s end it this time for good.
I feel slightly reluctant, but this isn’t much different from torment.
Additionally, right. It’s the individual differences. If an existence weaker than this one existed, then there surely is one exceeding this one getting born somewhere.
“I can’t, stop here”
The magical power around my body snapped and sparks looking like scattering petals fell down.
I changed my stance to “Surging Waves”.
I can’t just stay here if I want to aim for the top and further above.
I clad my body and reached heaven’s domain.
The magical power exceeding my limits poured pain instead of blood into my muscles.
A domain I never imagined reaching was now present in my body. Surely the world will spread out further beyond the clouds.
If that’s the case then I have to blow those clouds away here and now.
“──Shijima style, secret technique “Inexplicable Change”.”
With this I shall end it and move on to the next step.
With clear intentions, I murmured the name of the domain I finally could reach my hand out to.
I loosely clenched my fist without any clear form and drained the strain from my body.
In front of this gigantic beast, I took the Shijima style’s offensive stance, Surging Waves.
Even though I’m more proficient in Flowing Water rather than Surging Waves, Flowing Water is a stance one should only consider using against people even among the techniques from the anti-person combat focused Shijima style.
Hitting, throwing and grappling. Among these three basic elements of martial arts, Flowing Water consists out of “throwing” and “grappling” movements which are tailored to deal with humanoid bodies and aren’t supposed to be used on such a non-standard opponent.
Simply put, it doesn’t make any sense to use throwing or grappling techniques on such a bulky opponent.
Nevertheless, it’s defensive and counter capabilities stay unchanged — in the end, they go hand in hand. Being up against that bulky body a drawn-out battle seems unfavourable as I don’t know how much damage it will do to the vicinity.
──Therefore, I took the Surging Waves stance.
If it’s this posture with hitting as its main aspect I won’t have to change anything even if my opponent has a huge body.
Though the way of fighting might demand a little change, but that is within expectations.
Looking at me who now took a clear fighting posture Tarisberg raised a groan.
Its expression was stained with anger so that even I, who is of a different species, could immediately understand it.
Something along the lines of, that dwarfish creature is too cocky, huh? They certainly were feelings of killing, not suited for a match.
The dark magical power surrounding Tarisberg swelled and its groan changed into a roar.
Tarisberg kicked the land supporting its big body scooping it out and ran towards me.
Behind its behaviour was only its intent to kill, but that charge with its overwhelming mass was stubbornly straightforward and rather monotonous.
That speed, however, was spectacular. This great mass and enormous magical power followed by that speed.
Everything was so straightforward, but all it made me think about was a simple death more than anything.
If Magic and Sorcery don’t work stopping this would certainly be troublesome. Just this intense charge alone must have slaughtered many elves.
It’s as though it could only see me. Tarisberg didn’t pay the trees any heed and just went through them as if it was out to conquer the wilderness.
It’s different from the boar I fought the other day. As expected, it’s troublesome to take that head-on.
It’s not impossible now if I activate “Cherry Blossoms Prototype” — but if I take that power head on I can’t avoid receiving damage. It’s not a wise choice to use this now that I have yet to uncover all of the enemy’s cards.
Therefore I kicked the ground and flew high into the sky.
It’s higher than Tarisberg’s body height so it looked somewhat shrunken.
Needless to say, I’m out of the range of its charge. Tarisberg lost sight of my body again.
However, this leap’s purpose wasn’t just to dodge the charge.
When Tarisberg’s running body was right under me — I turned my legs towards the sky and folded them.
As soon as I took a breath I released magical power from my feet. No, rather than release it should be called expansion, shouldn’t it?
I made a scaffold with plain magical power something lesser than sorcery. Not to stand on, but to kick off from.
After I put some spirit behind that short breath I instantaneously put force into my feet.
As I leapt from the sky to the ground I swallowed the gravitational force and turned into a bullet.
I fixed my posture mid-air and headed straight for Tarisberg’s back.
I, who had a force far exceeding this small body’s weight behind him, landed feet first on Tarisberg’s back crushing its crystals.
While raising a sorrowful voice Tarisberg’s body stiffened.
With his forefoot raised, it stopped its charge and Tarisberg’s body stumbled.
Putting power in my feet I remained on Tarisberg’s back and observed it.
There were dark coloured crystals, which could be said to represent this creepy monster, growing on its back — Those who crumbled spew out magical power and disappeared as if they melted in the air.
It’s more or less as Monica said.
”Dark Coloured Crystals” are said to not be able to keep its form and disappear by releasing its magical power when they are crushed to small pieces.
I wanted to check it myself just to be sure, but the crystal growing on Tarisberg’s body are undoubtedly “Dark Coloured Crystals”.
If that’s the case, then how much magical power does that monster have when it’s covered in this many crystals — looks like I probably shouldn’t go for a battle of attrition.
And now another thing I wanted to try.
I used some power and lit fire magic around my fist.
“……As expected, huh?”
The fire magic after it was touched by the dark magical power emitted from the broken crystals disappeared and was neutralized as if it was blown out like a candle.
……looks like it’s true that Tarisberg is able to destroy magic.
Rather, should we say that it has the power to dissolve the connections of processed magical power?
Seeing as it didn’t interfere with Cherry Blossoms Prototype it won’t act on magical power used to strengthen one’s body. And — it doesn’t interfere with healing magic which is protected by a film of colourless magical power either.
Looking at the power of the fire magic and the moment it’s neutralized, it seems like the ability of Tarisberg’s magical power is to invalidate the attribute of processed magical power.
That characteristic doesn’t really concern me, but it certainly is the natural enemy of the elves. As soon as that magical power which springs forth endlessly is touched Magic and Sorcery simply get destroyed.
That means if it charges with that kind of magical power surrounding it like just now, ways to stop it are very limited.
Looks like I ought to do something here after all.
On Tarisberg’s back, I filled my open right hand with power. The bones gave off a dull sound as I clutched it properly, turning it into a weapon.
There shouldn’t be any way for it to counterattack in this situation in which I took Tarisberg’s back.
I put all my power into Cherry Blossoms Prototype and hammered my clenched fist down. This should determine it.
I’d like to fighting more if I could, but this body isn’t mine alone now, the fate of this beautiful city rests upon my shoulders.
Feeling bad for it is meaningless, huh? Even if it’s perhaps caused by the crystal fragments, this creature is like a lump of hatred. As long as it lives it has to curse every living being.
If it’s like that, I’ll resolutely attack it. It was at that moment that my fist held a clear intent to kill.
A voice filled with muffled resentment sounded and I covered my ears in the spur of the moment.
This couldn’t be compared to the pain filled voice it raised before — feeling like my whole body was engraved with its resentment I unintentionally frowned.
Even this roar is some kind of attack. As I thought about it, it created a dissonance appealing to the heart.
However, the true value of that monster showed from this point on.
I saw the crystals I just crushed by landing on them growing back from Tarisberg’s body again.
How the hell did they grow back out in such a short time — This question floated through my mind for merely an instant, but after that, I had an unpleasant premonition running through me.
If I stay here something bad will happen. I didn’t have any basis for that. Strictly put it’s an instinct born from having fought for so many years, so I kicked the big dragon’s back without hesitation.
Soon after having jumped up into the sky while feeling the intense burden of that excessive acceleration using “Cherry Blossoms Prototype” I knew my feeling was right.
Dark coloured crystals were protruding from the big dragon’s back. A huge crystal as big as a human child was heading my way who was in the sky
I unintentionally clicked my tongue faced with this unexpected action.
The newly grown crystals gave off a dry sound like flint stones hitting against each other while they filled the sky and started to approach me. One should call that quantity over quality.
It was a barrage of volcanic bomb like projectiles having huge mass and great speed. Clenching my teeth I enhanced the strength of Cherry Blossoms Prototype as the scenery drastically changed in an instant as if a disaster hit.
I raised my concentration while gritting my teeth from the acute pain running through me.
As the world slowed down I found a rather narrow open place inside that hail of bullets flooding towards me.
I formed a scaffold with magical power, jumped to that open space and turned around towards an imminent bullet.
If possible I wanted to get out of the attack’s range but that’s not possible inside this relentless sky.
Avoiding this crystal storm is as challenging as trying not to get wet in a rainstorm.
Therefore, I’ll just repel those that might become fatal and attack the others!
The fist clad in Cherry Blossoms Prototyp’s glow drew traces in the sky.
While hitting and sometimes repelling the bullets rushing towards me as I cut through the sky — I gradually approached the ground.
The time it took me to fall felt like an eternity.
I finally reached the ground accompanied by a sound that seemed like a chorus of screams similar to glass breaking.
Those large mass/ high-speed crystal bullets left scars everywhere on my body.
They were caused by shards of crystals I crushed, but the fist I used to destroy them was the most damaged.
Even though I was strengthened by “Cherry Blossoms Prototype” the bones still broke and my fingers were crushed.
Though I take pride in my high pain resistance, faced with this pain I still let out a slight sound.
I clasped my fist — or should I say it was locked in that form? I could hardly even open the fist changed into something that seemed like an unshapely mud ball due to the fracture and pain.
I, who received more damage than I anticipated by that unexpected attack, cancelled “Cherry Blossoms Prototype”.
My aim was to treat my broken fist.
While deploying “Cherry Blossoms Prototype”, one has to constantly mobilize healing magic, but as the body is destroyed at the same rate as it is healed it’s not possible for the healing magic to lean towards the positive.
Though one’s life isn’t endangered, it’s a huge problem as one’s offensive power declines.
Still, I won’t be able to land the blow to finish off that monster with this fist. I strengthened my body to the limit with body strengthening magic and deployed healing magic with emphasis on my right hand.
As I fixed my eyes upon it while cold sweat showed on my face, that huge beast neighed.
It was a heartless voice, I could feel more hatred in it than in the beginning.
──Earlier, Tarisberg let the crystals on its back grow and shot them the moment I emitted thirst for blood.
When I think about that groan of pain and that timing I don’t believe it’s a coincidence.
“It’s sensitive to a person’s malice…… or something like that?”
Hearing that sound I changed my speculation in desperation while clenching my teeth feeling the pain in my hanging arm.
In this state, it’s impossible for me to attack it until I finished my treatment. While dodging its attacks, I’ll prepare to counterattack. That’s it for now.
I opened both my eyes wide, appearing as if I’m prepared for whatever might come my way.
The time it takes for my fist to completely heal — should be about 2 minutes or so, huh? Until that time comes intense movements should be avoided.
The moment I thought that a scene I didn’t want to see for a while jumped into my eyes.
“Tch, what a pain……”
Red crystals filled the sky as far as I could see.
Are you telling me that those things not only grow on its back but can also be formed from nothing?
And it can also shoot them.
This is quite troublesome. I even said I hate long distance attacks.
However, even if I complain it won’t change anything.
In my present condition, I can’t fight that. I have to somehow deal with it though, huh.
The red splinters lined up in the sky.
Their arrangement was reminiscent of that dragon’s fangs.
In order to focus on the approaching threat I took a small breath — then, like a closing jaw, the lined up
crystals were released.
What stirred me up that day was a strong presence comparable to a bad scent.
I immediately grew vigilant and woke up from my sleep which I intentionally kept light.
I threw my body, wearing my everyday clothes to be able to move at any time, out of the bed and ran inside the house of which I memorized the layout after staying here a few days.
I ran not caring about the probably still sleeping Cheryl and the others, like someone running out to greet their father who came back home or a lover that eagerly awaited to visit their beloved’s house after a long time.
As if to calm my mind, I imagined such things in a self-mocking manner.
The entrance wasn’t far away. Nevertheless, as I really looked forward to meeting it that distance felt long to me.
–It’s pretty imprudent of me to say I have looked forward to the elves biggest disaster.
But I put my hand on the wooden door without controlling myself, while still paying attention not to break it, and still send it flying.
When I opened the door I sensed strong and dense magical power enough to make one unintentionally drool.
I turned my face towards the source of that magical power as if I got enchanted by the sweet smell of the finest dish.
“Aah, you woke up, huh, Sonia? Is it that –?”
While this creature exceeding all imagination made my heart and voice tremble, I asked Sonia, who came out several seconds later, this question even though I was already convinced.
Sonia bitterly distorted her beautiful face, which was unexpectedly exposed and not covered by a mask, then she exaggeratedly and meekly nodded.
“Kuku, I see. It’s that……”
Looking at that giant in the distance appearing like a raging tyrant, I involuntarily smiled.
I couldn’t help but laugh. It seemed like it was born to fight with those huge, vicious claws appearing like Great Swords. And then there was that magical energy that seemed to shout out its hatred for all living beings.
In front of that thing, even dragon class monsters would run away. If it starts to move it would take the top of this world’s food chain. That’s the kind of creature it is.
The only beings, except its own kind, that are on equal footing with it and able to eliminate it are people who thoroughly refined themselves. Such an existence is bound to repeatedly cause destruction and slaughter, so to speak — Ultimate, Violence.
–That’s the kind of thing I can fight against now.
What a sensible story. If I didn’t laugh about that, about what should I laugh?
Martial arts were used to raise the power of weak forces in order to oppose strong forces in the first place.
If that’s the case, then this struggle will be the epitome of the battles that occurred ever since the creation of martial arts.
The ultimate violence born to kill versus a martial artist who possesses a weak body but can overcome anything with superior technique. The battle of martial arts.
Aah, isn’t it tantalizing?
I want to try it. I want to fight against that violence.
“This is truly, unexpected — I mean, wha, what is it?”
“My bad, but please don’t interfere”
“Eh, ah…… Hey!?”
Filling my legs with magical power and kicking the ground, as if to shake off Sonia’s words, I left behind the sound of the stone pavement cracking and with the momentum of a shot arrow I soared into the sky.
While catching a glimpse at the edge of my awareness of the beautiful townscape flowing backwards underneath my feet, I kicked the ground again at a suitable place to regain my height and velocity.
As that gigantic body I saw in the distance gradually grew bigger in my view, my expectations increased further.
──I, who dashed through the sky without any obstructions, as if reflecting my impatient heart, was able to immediately reach that monster.
I chose one of the trees that grew on the mountain and borrowed its height. I climbed the tree, which was several tens of metors tall, and then that gigantic figure crossed my eyes.
I finally realized that before I knew it, I was so close to that thing, which looked like an ant in the distance.
Tarisberg, who had been facing the village before, now slowly moved its neck to look at me.
I don’t know when this creature was born. Monica said that this will rapidly occur when the magic power stored in the crystal has reached its limit, right? If that’s the case, wouldn’t that giant be just like a newborn baby?
–If so, then it should be like a baby just brought to this world.
That life from which was supposed to be pure more than anything else in this world aimed its eyes, tainted with hatred, at me– raising its voice as if to curse the sky, the earth and all of mankind in grief.
In midst that roar hitting my body, I floated a smile as opposed to the monster’s eyes filled with hatred.
The disaster elves were most afraid of, Tarisberg — its figure reminded me of a dragon in a way.
The squared red crystal which grew on that long face seemed to have completely broken through the skin and stuck out.
That ominous crystal can appear anywhere on Tarisberg’s body, it’s what directs that vicious aura and seemed like it was embedded in its skin.
If one manages to look away from that crystal, which tends to captivate one’s eyes, and takes a closer look at the rest one would see that it was covered from head to toe with muscles of steel seeming like bags full of iron sand.
It didn’t have feathers or wings commonly seen on members of the dragon race, but instead, its back was closely packed with crystals.
Its skin was black appearing like solidified blood. It’s adequate to call its appearance extremely evil looking.…… How could such an abominable creature have been born?
But– because of that, I’m getting fired up.
It’s not only that magical power I felt, that body roaring with muscles as well – it’s strong. It just eloquently showed that this was an existence worthy of being called tyrannical.
……I’m glad. To get that excited about having a demonic beast as my opponent — Kuku, when I was young and foolish I even fought with a fire dragon.
“Let’s have a fair match–”
I muttered those words out of habit, but when I noticed I thought they were a weird thing to say in this situation.
That magical power smeared with hatred didn’t seem to advocate mutual understanding and trying to speak with a raging demonic beast isn’t even possible in the first place.
However, if I had the choice to fight either demonic beasts or humans, I’d want to fight with humans until the end. This is my one-sided oath.
──Thus, this match got started with Tarisberg’s roar followed by a swing of its Great Sword like claws.
Its movements were agile, unbecoming of its huge body. With its sword-like claws covered in magical power surrounded by clear killing intent, Tarisberg swung down on the much smaller me.
What I felt form that one blow was “A lion hunting a rabbit”…… That’s not it. This killing intent isn’t something as sweet as giving one’s all to fight even a small opponent, but rather — Right, it was a body-shredding shout of resentment as if it finally cornered its century-old mortal enemy covered in wounds and being able to finally land the finishing blow.
Tarisberg’s three blades it swung down nearly caught me.
In order to distance myself from the line of impending, definite death I turned mid-air.
While moving from tree to tree, I could see Tarisberg easily bisecting the trees I was standing on before.
It was a smooth movement like a hot knife cutting through butter. Those could probably tear through iron as well.
“(……Fumu, that agile, big body is troublesome)”
Tarisberg, which created three crevices on the mountain in the blink of an eye, after having confirmed that my corpse wasn’t on the scene turned its red eyes, seeming like two scars in the night sky, towards me.
Those were the first things that entered my view — I who was challenged to this unyielding battle looked composed contrasting that hot-bloodedness I felt inside.
That big frame is more annoying than it looks.
It’s not the first time that I fought a gigantic beast, though it’s been quite a while — I’m talking about before I died — and that Tarisberg is bigger than any of the demonic beasts I fought so far.
Not to mention that difference in reach, but that large body messes with my sense of distance. At first glance, the attacks unleashed by that giant appear slow, however, its speed is actually violently fast and simply very difficult to avoid.
Additionally, that attack power caused by its body weight will also become a problem. In the world of human boxing, just about 3 kiulograma …… just that much weight difference puts one into a completely different league.
It easily surpasses 10 metors in height, even supposing it’s not as heavy as it looks, it probably weights hundreds or thousands of kiulograma more than me.
However, to overturn that is the strength of mankind.
In the wilderness, something is considered strong if its body is big. That’s natural.
–Still, mankind was able to survive until today. That’s because we possess magical power and the ability to use technology.
Certainly, Tarisberg also seems to be able to use magic. It possesses a huge amount of that vicious magical power.
Besides, it’s said to be able to cancel out sorcery and magic which are mankind’s weapons. If that especially refined technology is also neutralized, it’s understandable why one would call it the strongest and worst creature alive.
It forcibly reduces the fighting style of humans into that of animals. That’s the terror of the demonic beast called Tarisberg.
“But so what”
That incarnation of violence caught me in its eyes again.
No matter how much I think about it I’ll never know what’s reflected in its eyes or what the thoughts of that creature, which shared no common features with us, might be.
What I knew was that that creature is trying to kill me and comes straight at me — without thinking about its own defeat.
Again, those violent claws gave off a dull glow and flew towards me.
For the sake of slaughtering all the elves — and all of mankind, it seems like it plans to make me its first victim but not the last.
Tarisberg took one powerful step to close the distance of dozens of metors. It didn’t use any special technique, it was only its sheer size that filled the gap between that itself and me, brandishing its claws.
I have to avoid that hit. If that hits me I’ll die. That doesn’t change, even for me. That’s how tyrannical that body is.
“Don’t underestimate me, youngster”
In order to intercept those claws swinging down, I kicked the tree I was on and jumped in front of those Blades.
Concentrating my senses to their utmost limit, I thought while looking at the approaching claws.
Because its body is big it’s strong? Because magic is ineffective one can’t win?
–What foolish things those people were spouting on their own!
Tarisberg certainly is an unreasonable existence.
It’s the simplest and most unreasonable display of “violence” in this world making it a very, very troublesome monster.
However — Violence can only be crushed under the power of martial arts!
To us — the martial artists, it’s always only been this fist!
Putting my whole heart into it, I twisted my body.
Though the centrifugal force my whole weight, which seemed dwarfish compared to that guy, gathered in my right foot.
While the magical power, which wrapped around me, swelled until my body was about to burst, changed into sparks giving of cracking sounds.
–Cherry Blossoms Prototype.
As the magical power was over the limit of what this small body could handle, it was like a weapon filled to the brim and about to explode.
That right leg which swung out with the momentum of my rotation — crushed the monster’s claw.
With the sound of cracking glass, the claw of Tarisberg’s middle finger out of its three crumbled.
Even though its body is huge, but taking on just one finger is no problem.
I, who escaped the verge of death — Nay, overcame the verge of death in a simpler way than before, landed on the open ground as the trees around that place got mowed down.
Looking into Tarisberg’s eyes filled with anger, I hurled these words towards it without reaching it.
“I’ll say it one more time. Don’t underestimate martial arts and don’t underestimate mankind”
We don’t understand each other’s words. In the first place, it’s questionable if such a monster ruled by hatred, a slaughter machine, could converse even with its own kind.
However, I wondered if it could slightly grasp the meaning of my actions because of its hatred for mankind?
Seeing the corners of my mouth raising fearlessly, Tarisberg let out an angry roar.
At that time that magical power which aroused discomfort in oneself, like that crystal, merged with the wind and struck my body.
It was like the rotting stench of a corpse hit my face, I felt strong discomfort.
But other than that — I realized that the fight had just begun.
“(Looks like it finally got serious)”
Promoted from prey to enemy. I knew that the perception of me has changed inside the monster as I received its “murderous intent” which I received I don’t know how many times from various people up until now.
Twisting the corners of my mouth I took a stance while that thing’s appearance turned even darker.
“Thank you for the meal. Sonia’s a good cook, isn’t she?”
I, who finished eating dinner at Sonia’s house, clapped my hands together in front of the prepared tableware and exhaled.
We had a lot of opportunities to eat Sonia’s cooking recently, but I have to say one can clearly see the attention to detail she puts in even in such a simple dish.
Sonia said if one cooks every day like this one would naturally reach that degree of skill — but when noting that those cooking skills of mine, who had similar living circumstances, hadn’t reached that level yet I still think that Sonia’s cooking skills are a big deal.
As evidence, Cheryl’s eyes also seemed to melt in satisfaction and Monica often praised the dish during the meal, too.
However, now that dinner was over Monica’s and Sonia’s expression turned dark.
“You’re welcome. I’m glad you think that way……Slava-kun is good at composing himself, isn’t he……?”
One can understand the reason without it being said out loud. It’s Tarisberg which is on their mind, it’s said to appear tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
Tarisberg is the existence elves are most afraid of. For someone with Sonia’s power still being that afraid of the above-mentioned existence went beyond my wildest imaginations.
“You say that, but it’s rather difficult to be afraid of something one hasn’t seen before, isn’t it?”
But what of it. I’m not looking down on it, but I was originally a human who didn’t experience the period of Tarisberg’s appearance, so their fear didn’t get transmitted to me.
Although it’s said that magic and sorcery are ineffective against it, but I think it would be better to just strengthen one’s body and hit it then.
In fact, it’s hard for me, who is the teacher of Alma who defeated Tarisberg without the use of magic, to develop a sense of danger.
“Hey, you really don’t have to push yourself, you know? Even though I can’t abandon my hometown, but Slava-kun still has a big dream, isn’t that right?”
“This is also part of my dream, you know? Whichever way this ends here my goal still is being the strongest beyond the unbelievable. If it’s a legendary demonic beast then it’s perfect for warrior training.”
To Sonia’s question, said in a shaking voice, I expressed the lightness of my mood with a gesture I held my right hand out for.
–I’m aiming to be the strongest, those two characters. So, if I don’t destroy those things blocking my way in front of me, that’s the same as giving up.
Just because the other party isn’t a person one can’t use the excuse of it being a different kind. Even looking at people, there are four races as well, elves, humans, demons and beastmen.
No matter how strong she is I can’t leave a girl frightened like that, can I?
Good grief, for me to become such a busybody.
“Well, don’t worry. Nothing bad will happen”
I gathered the tableware and stood up.
If it’s simple water magic for daily life use, even I can use it.
When receiving a free meal, washing the dishes is the least one can do.
“Ah……It’s okay, with just that much I–”
“No no, I’m not comfortable with being a freeloader, so let me at least do this much.”
When I stood up with everyone’s dishes in both my hands, Cheryl lifted her body from the chair and floated to my side.
Looks like she intends to come with me. When Cheryl turned the doorknob one step ahead of me my facial expression relaxed.
“Thank you, Cheryl”
“Cause, I want to talk……”
When we stepped through the door Cheryl opened she grasped the knob with both her hands and shut it.
I wanted to pet her head for that cute gesture, but unfortunately, both my hands were occupied so I couldn’t.
However, looks like she turned out well. Doesn’t look like that idiot grandpa spoiled her that badly. Watching her growth since we met reminds me of the days I spent with Alma.
“Certainly, around this area–”
Since I’ve already cleaned the dishes many times in Sonia’s house, I knew where to find a brush and metal basin for that purpose. I put away the dishes and crouched down.
Using the brush I invoked the water magic and saved the water in the metal basin. After that, while dunking the tableware into the water I removed the dirt by strongly scrubbing them. If the dirt collects in the water, I would exchange the water and repeat the same process again.
Washing dishes is a monotonous work which feels troublesome to do every day but occasionally it’s also unexpectedly fun.
“Alright, well then–”
After I finished cleaning all the dishes, I refilled the water in the basin. This time I put my hand into it and activated fire magic.
The heat born from the fire changed the water into hot water.
I’ve asked my master and it looks like it’s said that heat has the effect of killing the origin of diseases. It’s not a well-known method, but I heard there are places where this is commonly done. I can’t prove the effect, because I don’t understand the theory behind this, but I don’t think it’s wrong, as it’s something my master told me.
When the hot water reached a temperature that would injure the skin without magic protection, I finally stopped boiling the water and pulled out my hand.
After boiling it for a while, it’s fine to leave it like that for some time.
……Suddenly, when I looked up at the sky, it was completely dark.
“It’s, beautiful, right?”
Cheryl who sat down and hugged her legs put some ripples in this silence.
If one looked up, one would see a sky filled with countless stars.
It had the innocence and disorder of a black canvas studded with one’s favourite colour and yet its magnificent brilliance was breath-taking.
“Yeah, it’s beautiful”
I don’t have a profound knowledge of art, so the words I can use are limited, but that doesn’t mean it would spoil this beauty.
–I looked at the sky together with Cheryl for a while.
Now that I think about it, it has been a long time since it was just me and Cheryl. Recently there were always Sonia or Monica close by.
As I separated my eyes from the sky, I saw Cheryl looking up at it with a loving gaze.
When Cheryl noticed my eyes she looked directly into them and her gentle smile became stronger.
“What is it?”
Entwining her elegant, thin fingers with mine, our hands connected.
I widened my eyes in surprise when I felt the cool and girlish softness from Cheryl’s fingers entwined with mine.
I don’t feel the usual grip strength from Cheryl’s hand gently holding mine.
Compared to the force a normal girl of marriageable age can gather, this degree of grip strength was enough to let someone feel a lot of pain if one didn’t train oneself, you know?
“Thank you, Slava-kun”
A gentle smile reflected in my wide open eyes.
Cheryl, who tilted her head to look into my eyes which looked like circles, slowly let out a voice as if trying to persuade me in the darkness of the night.
“I, was able to become a little gentle, right……?
……It’s all, thanks to Slava-kun”
“……Not at all. It’s been thanks to Cheryl’s hard work”
“No, that’s not it……If you didn’t give me a chance and didn’t practice together, with me I wouldn’t have made it, so it’s thanks to Slava-kun……That’s why, see?”
She put a little power in the hand that held mine.
However, it wasn’t enough to hurt me– Well, this is how that child turned out.
“……Lets look, at lots of the world– foreeever together……?”
She turned her strong-willed eyes towards me while I felt her soft hands quivering slightly.
……I see, that child is probably worried.
The girl, which ran rampant when she threw a tantrum, grew up a little.
As I thought, it’s good witnessing someone’s growth. Especially if it’s a childhood friend.
If that’s the case, then I want to forever be able to watch that child’s future.
“Rest at ease, that’s what I intended to do all along.”
The hand I wiped is already dry.
When I gently stroked Cheryl’s hair, which was as light as a feather, with my empty right hand, her sharp eyes sleepily narrowed.
“I’m not going to lose. This journey of training still has to continue. Let’s explore the world together”
Yes, this journey isn’t just about training.
Its purpose is to let this girl see a lot of different things as well.
For that reason–I didn’t intend to let some demon delay us, but doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t take any chances?
It has been such a long time that I truly wanted to do something for someone like this.
Martial arts used not just for oneself.
I think that those called martial artists are selfish beings, until the end.
To gain something, to protect something — Whatever the purpose, it’s impossible to avoid hurting anyone in order to reach one’s goal. No matter how important or righteous that purpose might be this fact will never change.
However, it strongly shook my heart to use my fists for somebody else.
“Well then, let’s go to bed for today. We have to get up early tomorrow, Cheryl.”
I threw away the hot water which was in the basin and wiped the dishes with a dishcloth.
I piled up the cleaned dishes which were still hot and returned to Sonia’s house.
As Cheryl’s expression relaxed and followed me with a springy gait, I incidentally looked up, my expression pregnant with thoughts.
“(The meaning of wielding a fist, is it?)”
The fist I just kept swinging in pursuit of becoming the strongest.
That purpose hasn’t changed. It doesn’t change the fact that being the strongest is supreme to me.
However, if it’s within the reach of those hands can’t I reach them out to protect those around me as well — I wonder if I can be that greedy?
“I won’t lose anymore, absolutely”
Those words, I don’t know how many times I swore them, melted into the sky.
Those words which should have felt worn out strangely heated up my body.
──With that heat dawn came, the time of the decisive battle arrived.
Dark clouds filled the sky.
In the lands of Natosha, which we visited again, two girls faced each other.
One party swung that familiar silver hair, her crimson eyes gently shaking, and the other party wore a bird mask covering her face, making one unable to see her expression.
In spite of that, I concluded that those two girls were —
Doing nothing much, because those two were good friends.
Cheryl and Sonia. Neither of those two female martial artists took a stance.
At first one couldn’t find a common point in their pose, but it’s interesting for them both to completely relax as if they agreed upon that prior to this.
“Looks like you’re ready”
When I called out to those combat ready people from a place slightly away from them, both of them answered at the same time.
As Sonia hid her face behind a mask I couldn’t see her expression, Cheryl’s expression, on the other hand, was easily understood. In her usual calm expression resembling drowsiness, one could see a belligerent twinge.
That reminds me, she didn’t get to do any sparring recently. Although Cheryl’s face looks considerably more girlish than when I met her, at times like this when she’s excited about fighting a strong opponent one can see that she’s that man’s grandchild.
Fumu, delaying this anymore would just be cruel then.
It’s like being hungry and having a feast which could make one forget everything in front of one’s eyes. Looks like it’s that child’s limit soon.
“Then — Begiiin!”
I moved to a place where I’m not in their way, but even with that distance my voice was loud enough to resound through this place.
–In the next moment, that signal shout was overwritten by the scream of the ground Cheryl kicked.
She’s completely like a carnivorous animal. As is expected of Chester’s beloved grandchild. She fully inherited that guy’s aggressiveness and youth became the launching pad for said aggressiveness.
The distance, which should have been enough to carry out a martial arts match, was destroyed like a hindrance and she approached Sonia with a gale coiling around the girl’s delicate arm.
However, Sonia also wasn’t someone to be taken lightly. She easily handled Cheryl’s splendid rush, which would even let a lion’s charge appear like a snail’s pace, and her hammer like fist swinging down.
“–Aha, as I thought, Sonia’s great”
Despite that, they still had some spare energy left.
Although Cheryl’s slugfest seemed disorderly at first glance, ever blow compared to those other martial artists’ attacks is nothing to be ashamed of and has reached an incredibly high level. Speed, power and precision. This form is what any normal martial artist is yearning for.
However, I cannot but say that Sonia who avoided every of those powerful and complicated blows is out of the ordinary as well. She keeps on avoiding Cheryl’s “Transparent Fist” easily, which had a high speed and was even difficult to dodge with high visual acuity, without relying on her vision at all.
Good grief. Those girls are still considered young elves, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.
That Chester called himself a man only talented in putting in effort, but if these geniuses get stronger at the same pace as that idiot, I wonder to what heights they will rise.
“I can’t get too careless, huh?”
As I observed those two young people’s battle unfolding in front of my eyes I sighed.
In preparation for the upcoming battle against Tarisberg, Sonia sealed her magic in this match.
Having crossed fists with both Cheryl and Sonia, I believe that the current Cheryl still isn’t a match for Sonia. That’s why I suggested they shouldn’t use direct magic attacks, though I didn’t tell them my reasons, but — I see, in those circumstances their strength is equal to some extent.
How do I put this? Someone with equal strength is the best opponent for a match. Of course, it’s important to fight stronger opponents to be able to understand the flow of a battle, which is as profound as the ocean is deep, but it’s just as important to fight slightly weaker ones to review the basics.
Well, well, while I was thinking about these things, it seems like this match reached a turning point.
Sonia’s palm strike charged with magical power hit Cheryl’s abdomen. Her delicate body was blown away as if it got dragged away by a storm.
Other than the Shijima style’s “Valiant”, which involved letting one’s magical power explode, and that wind blast I saw before, this one hit held that much destructive power while needing little magical power — that had to hurt.
Sonia’s palm strike — Kuku, looks like it was effective. Even without her using wind magic, this should probably be enough to flip Cheryl’s switch.
“Did I go a little too far……?”
“What’s the matter? You don’t have to worry. Cheryl’s over there”
I replied Sonia, who worried about Cheryl’s small body, so smoothly one might think I prepared it beforehand.
The moment she made a small “Mu” sound behind her mask and turned her attention to me she instantly turned towards Cheryl.
There, Cheryl, who held her abdomen and looked down, slowly raised her face.
Naturally, there was an aggressive, wide smile on her face.
Sonia, who restored her posture, started to mutter.
“I see — it’s like that”
If one only knew the Cheryl from before one would certainly be surprised which is what leaked out from behind her mask.
That magical power which was mixed with joy and hostility but still remained innocent. One can’t imagine this from the usually quiet Cheryl.
It’s been a long time since I last saw Cheryl like that, but looks like it hasn’t been cured, huh? Maybe I didn’t see her like this while we were sparring because Cheryl restrained herself as it was necessary to think about more things.
“It’s fun, It’s fun, Soniaaaa! Hey, Slava-kun, it’s fine, right? I can give it my all, right?”
In any case, I can’t bring myself to restrain her young self anymore.
That said, let’s have her borrow Sonia for a little.
“Yeah, you should give it your all. I’m sorry, but could you please try to receive the blows, Sonia?”
“Don’t just say whatever you want……But I just can’t refuse a request from Slava-kun”
A sulky voice swelled out from beneath the mask.
This certainly feels a little irresponsible, but it’s also a form of trust born from having crossed fists with her.
“Aah, there are only few who can serve as Cheryl’s opponent. That means I’ve recognized your strength, Sonia”
“……Good grief, didn’t even forget to say some sweet lines. As I thought, you’re cunning”
Sonia spat some poisonous words at me in a childish voice, followed by ones that seem like she prepared beforehand.
Fumu, the winds have changed.
The outcome has already been decided, huh? Well, let’s leave it to Sonia.
I, who tried to predict the match’s future outcome, turned my back to Cheryl and Sonia and took some distance from them.
This match took place for training purposes. I didn’t particularly want to conceal myself anymore, so just staying here should be fine, but I wanted to avoid getting in their way.
“Well then, Shall we start?”
I stopped walking and charged my magical power after what felt like a minute.
I let my magical power boil inside my body to enhance my physical ability. — From this point on it was the same as always.
As the pale, cherry blossom coloured light ball of magical power leaked out of my body, whose functions gradually sharpened, I stopped pouring magical power into it and breathed out.
“This …… is my limit, huh?”
Compared to my peak was it the same or slightly weaker? –Knowing my limit, I closed my eyes.
I tried to make this small body adapt to this technique. With the difference in body and mind I tried to polish that skill, but even in my golden days, it didn’t even exceed the thickness of a thin skin.
Therefore I’m required to set foot in domains I didn’t step into before, in my previous life.
”Cherry Blossom Prototype” was, in fact, the first step.
Even though I said I created this technique together with my master, I only used it three times, the fight with Sonia included.
Naturally speaking, this technique is accompanied by extreme pain and could nearly be labelled as a suicide attack. I don’t want to use it as much as possible.
However, now that I caught up with the past Slava Shijima I have to push myself to reach higher places in this new life– as Slava Marshal.
I poured more magic power into my body after I sighed and used healing magic on it at the same time.
The ball of light leaking out of my body gained in intensity, it danced like falling cherry blossoms and sparked like a fire flower.
As the strengthening rate was more subdued than at the time I showed it to Sonia, the pain was less extreme as well.
“……I heard a little about it, but it’s really dreadful”
As I thought about raising the rate and tried to add more magic power — I stopped my movements in quiet surprise at the sounds coming from behind.
This unknown voice with some childishness still remaining it seemed to belong to someone I encountered recently. I was familiar with it.
“– Monica, is it? What brings you here?”
It’s Alfareia’s talented woman, Monica Renfield.
Although we parted with her at the research institute, she followed us to Natousha one day later as she was worried that something might happen.
It’s largely thanks to her that we are able to practice like this.
If she didn’t investigate the ground directly we wouldn’t be able to tell when Tarisberg might appear and all we could do was silently wait.
“I heard from Sonia that you went in this direction. Additionally, I was interested in those tremendous waves of magical power.”
To have come all this way, did she have some business with me?
As I continued “Cherry Blossoms Prototype” Monica seemed like she wanted to ask something but lowered her gaze with hesitation.
“I wanted to report the results of today’s investigation, I confirmed that Tarisberg’s appearance will be after approximately two to three days. …… Ehm”
“Mu? What’s the matter?”
“Aren’t you scared? Speaking of Tarisberg, it’s the most frightening existence any elf without exception is afraid of, you know?”
With her shoulders shaking, Monica directly looked into my eyes.
……I don’t know how many times Sonia asked me this already.
I realized that “Tarisberg” holds a special place in an elf’s heart. In a bad way.
But my answer doesn’t change.
“It’s probably something I can only say because I didn’t experience it, but I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of. Alma defeated that Tarisberg which appeared before, right? Then there’s even less reason to be afraid.”
“Alma, is it? You say the elves’ hero’s name so casually, don’t you?”
Mu, I’m speechless. Was it a little unnatural for a kid like me to mention Alma’s name without honorifics?
Well, I have to think about how to reply to that, but that child’s really smart. Even if I try to keep this up I’m afraid I’ll be found out.
“She’s an alumni of my school so we are acquainted. I’m sorry if I offended you”
I couldn’t really come up with a good excuse so I decided to tell her the truth together with an apology without any resistance.
Monica quickly waved her hand to me who lowered his head.
“I, it’s nothing, I certainly do respect Miss Alma. However, as there’s nothing more to it I don’t intend to blame you. So, please raise your head. I’m just a little curious……”
“That’s good then. –Well then, there’s a skill I’d like to practice right now. It’s dangerous so please step back”
I pretended to not notice Monica who seemed to want to hear more and changed the topic.
Monica didn’t seem convinced but she followed my words.
……I think I don’t particularly mind talking about it, but I had not just a little influence on the world in my previous life. It’s not something I can just tell anyone. Well, I wouldn’t believe it either if I were in their place.
Anyway. I can finally test “that”.
It’s the culmination of Shijima style’s “Surging Waves” stance I reached after much hard work in my previous life — “Inconceivable Change”.
“Wha, what was that, just now–!?”
Frowning from that acute pain, I put my hands on my knees and try to steady my breathing.
The effects of “Cherry Blossoms Prototype” have already been lifted, but the healing magic still continued to heal the physical damage.
That severe pain gradually softened due to the healing magic, but this couldn’t even compare to the time with Sonia.
Kuku, this, indeed, is all the burden this body can endure. Hopefully, there won’t be another opportunity to use it in the next ten years.
──However, I comprehended it. Shijima style “Surging Waves’” pinnacle “Inconceivable Change”!
Although intense pain was tormenting me and agony was running through my body, I clearly felt my face dyed with delight.
The secret technique I only succeeded to use one time in my previous life before I was afflicted with disease, inconceivable change.
It seems like Slava Marshal, who caught up to my previous self, is somehow able to use that skill.
It was the sign that I had taken the first step on this new road — meaning I caught up and exceeded the previous me at my strongest.
Looking at these facts in front of my eyes, the force with which I clenched my teeth in pain lessened.
–The place I’m training in now is inside the forest close to Natousha.
I wasn’t that deep inside, but the trees still blocked the sun’s light making the place shadowy even at noon.
Now, however, the brightly shining sun was reflecting inside my eyes when looked up at the sky.
I reflexively closed my eyes from that radiance and turned my gaze down again out of fatigue.
Thereupon, the trees, which obstructed the view to the sky not long ago — turned into splinters and scattered.
“Wha, what was that sound just now, Slava-kun –Tha, that’s…..!?”
As soon as that pain subsided, having heard the noise that was resounding all the time until now Sonia carrying Cheryl on her back appeared.
Cheryl, who probably got knocked unconscious by Sonia, breathed softly but contrasting that Sonia seemed awfully surprised.
Well, looking at this situation that’s not surprising. Only I, who used “Inconceivable Change”, could understand — what kind of method could cause such a disaster.
“Kuku, hey, Sonia”
“– What is it?”
“Making progress — is a good thing”
After having confirmed the progress I made for the first time in several decades, I showed an exhausted smile.
I don’t feel like I’ll lose to anything if it’s the current me. Even that Chester.
Even if it’s a dragon or a behemoth, it doesn’t matter what it is, come at me.
While being wrapped in the biggest satisfaction of this life, I fainted and fell down.
“The dark coloured crystal — huh?”
While looking at the crystal held out in front of me I repeated that name unconsciously.
The crystal filled with dark red seemed like a lump of blood.
For some reason, when I looked at the crystal I felt severe aversion and yet I couldn’t keep my eyes off it.
“To be honest, there isn’t much I know about this crystal.
……However, I can tell you to some extent what kind of effect that crystal has”
Monica who placed the crystal on a table folded her hands in front of her modest chest.
Her facial expression, which usually was quite lacking, warped into a bitter one so that even I, who was unfamiliar with her, could see it.
──However, it was just for an instant, then Monica’s expression was as blank as it was a while ago.
It was like that change in her expression was just an illusion.
It’s not like I didn’t notice it. Sonia, who didn’t mention anything about Monica’s short change in expression, reached out towards the table.
The crystal which gave off this eerie colour was back in Sonia’s possession.
The crystal still emitted some weak magical power on her palm.
“I understood the gist of your business here. I don’t know where you found this, but the animals and demonic beasts in that area’s vicinity became more aggressive, right? Furthermore, these animals are strangely big and above all…… they possessed magical power.
……Otherwise — No, that’s it”
It seems like she was about to say something but instead Monica closed her eyes and shook her head, ending her words there.
The continuation of those words worried me, but when she completely guessed the reason for our coming here it was clear we wouldn’t hear anything more.
“Yeah, that’s it. As expected of Monica-chan.
However, this crystal is related to those violent outbreaks?”
“Yes, that’s right. Its body grows, the epidermis and body hair…… Even the blood and internal organs become black, furthermore, that evil magical power coiling around it – One could say that the crystal caused those changes in these individuals, one might call abnormal.”
With Monica’s words, Sonia handed me the crystal.
Let’s take a look, is what I’d like to say, however — honestly, I felt aversion towards that crystal.
I don’t know the origins of that aversion but I simply didn’t like to touch it.
Well then, what should I do? When I was thinking that I noticed Cheryl staring towards me.
Our eyes meet and then a brief period of silence broke out.
“……Do you want to take a look?”
Apparently, Cheryl seemed to be curious about this crystal. Cheryl gave me a simple nod.
That thing didn’t seem to be very safe, but — Well, I didn’t notice anything immediately just after touching it, so it I should be fine handing it over …… right?
When I held it towards her, Cheryl took the muddy, dark crystal into her hands.
Having the origin of that repulsive feeling leave my hand I slightly exhaled.
……Fumu, Monica as well as Sonia and Cheryl — Didn’t they get the same feeling from that thing?
Cheryl, who received the crystal, held it up against the light, like Monica did, and changed the angle she held it in while observing — slowly and carefully.
Seeing Cheryl who felt interested in that crystal, my expression relaxed unintentionally.
“……Well then, let’s answer what you are all interested in.
First of all, as I said earlier, that crystal’s name is “Dark coloured Crystal” and is the cause for the animals’ ferocious behaviour. You got all that, right?”
I took my eyes of Cheryl and fixed them on Monica.
“That crystal’s effect is to harden the body and amplify magical power to be concrete. Depending on the individual, it’ll make them grow huge.
As you know, it is very rare for a non-humanoid animal to be able to harness magical power. At this point, you can see that this crystal is a material beyond one’s wildest imaginations.”
I glanced at Cheryl observing the crystal as Monica continues.
“However, from my personal view, the most frightening part about the “Dark coloured crystals” is — that it changes the host’s personality. No, one should call it rewrite rather than change.”
Monica exhaled slightly while showing apparent sorrow in her eyes.
When Monica mentioned the word rewrite I remembered the animals which became aggressive.
“Those who ingested the crystal will take on the same behaviour regardless of their individual differences, no matter if they were animals or demonic beasts.
It’s not to defend its territory against intruders, nor to counterattack, nor out of hunger — they just start to attack living things indiscriminately.
It’s nothing else. Just unchecked violence. Even if their opponent is stronger than themselves those crazed animals, even young ones, start to attack regardless of the other side’s numbers.”
Monica talking about the terrors of that stone made me remember this unease I felt back then — namely, the lack of animal-like behaviour.
Violence for violence’s sake, is it? Looks like my choice wasn’t wrong.
Needless to say, those animals were abnormal.
It’s the first time I encountered such pure murderous intent with no reason behind it.
“Animals corrupted by the crystal only think about spreading their murderous intent around them. If one leaves them alone its impact on the ecosystem won’t be small. Of course, people will get hurt as well. ……I don’t really recommend it, but there’s no other effective method other than exterminating them to bring peace to the area.”
“Hmm, it’s like that after all, huh?……Thank you, Monica-chan”
In response to Monica’s words, Sonia let her thumb slide along her cheek.
Both of them didn’t have very pleasant looks on their face. It was mentioned that Monica was doing biological research as a hobby, apparently.
However, I feel like there’s more to that expression Monica showed.
Before she hesitated to say something, like something she wasn’t able to talk about — that’s how it felt.
“What is it?……Aah, you can speak comfortably. Sonia’s friends are mine as well.”
As I worried about those words she said earlier I unintentionally raised my voice.
Though I didn’t dislike using honorifics for girls who were younger than the me in my previous life, it still felt a little weird.
Let’s say I’m grateful for that offer.
“Then, don’t mind if I do.
……Earlier you were about to say something, right? If it isn’t anything difficult for you to say I’d like to inquire about that.
Of course, if you don’t want to talk I won’t force you”
Even though I changed my tone my serious attitude didn’t. I stared directly into my opposite’s still youthful eyes.
Monica’s deadpan expression distorted again. First, it turned bitter, then sad.
“……Telling you is useless. It’s useless, because it’s just too hard to believe.
Particularly for us of — the elven race”
Monica grabbed her arm and trembled slightly.
Not wanting to talk — it seems to be slightly different than that.
Rather it might be the opposite.
From what it seems, the thing Monica kept silent about is considerably heavy.
Even though it wasn’t long since I met that girl, but if she’s a friend of a friend I want to lend her my strength as much as I can.
……That’s why that way of speaking is reserved for their elders, right?
“There’s no problem then”
I broke my expression and smiled at her.
Surprise mixed into Monica’s expression.
I showed Monica, who finally wore a girlish expression, a grin with my canine teeth exposed.
“If you’re a friend of Sonia, I’ll believe you no matter how outlandish it might be. Can’t you just throw off some of that burden you carry?
I can’t tell you the details, but even though I’m like an elf I’m not one. So there’s no problem regarding that”
I’ve been keeping a serious attitude until now, so I tried joking around a little to relieve the tension.
I kind of thought the girl needed that.
That idea of mine seemed to work as Monica laughed — for the first time.
“Ahaha, what’s with this? That’s”
Her original facial features had a certain youthfulness to them and, probably because of the contrast to her usual deadpan face she showed every day, that smile possessed a wonderfully splendid cuteness.
Looks like what I said was very funny as Monica laughed with one hand in front of her mouth.
Even though we, Sonia included, knew what I meant with “not an elf”, but this reaction is certainly quite normal.
Recalling my own body’s absurdity I vowed to never talk about my real nature in public carelessly.
After having laughed for a while, Monica fixed her eyes on me still with tears in them.
……Well, let’s keep silent about this teary, emotional breakdown.
“Yeah, weird….. But it feels like it’s been such a long time since I laughed that much. I calmed down a little.
──Let’s talk. The “fact” — my father uncovered was the cause for his expulsion form the academic world.”
Her expression was blank again — However, Monica raised her face with firm resolution.
Monica, who emphasized the word “fact”, now wore a much more dignified expression than before.
“Please, try to believe me. Though you probably won’t be able to believe it — please try.”
Those words were directed to all of us.
Though I just met Monica, I felt like what she’s about to tell us won’t be a lie.
Cheryl looked towards Monica like she usually did.
Sonia — smiled and nodded firmly.
Monica, who took in their gazes, now looked into my eyes.
I nodded resolutely.
“Thank you, everyone.
Well then, I’ll tell you. This crystal, has two more characteristics hidden in it.
–In this country, what is it that makes the world turn?”
That voice which was as balanced as a flat road started to shake, like it was tumbling down the mountain path of resolution.
Monica put her hand on her chest as if to suppress the beating of her heart and opened her mouth.
“Apart from the ones I mentioned earlier, this crystal has two more characteristics hidden in it.
──The first of these characteristics is “Residual”. Cheryl, could you lend me the crystal?”
“……Yes, got it”
Cheryl, who had the crystal and looked at it from different angles, handed it to Monica.
Monica held the crystal in her fingers so that everybody could see them again and extended her arm forward.
“What is, Residual?”
“If that crystal enters someone’s body it will cause similar symptoms to what I mentioned before.
However, even if it enters someone’s body the crystal won’t get absorbed by it.”
Not understanding what Monica said I frowned reflexively.
The light in the talented woman’s eyes changed to a dignified one as she continued.
“That might have been a little confusing.……In other words, the crystal will stay inside the body basically.
In the study, it is said that the crystal was mainly ingested through the mouth. If it’s food it’ll get digested and absorbed as nutrition by the body. If it can’t be digested……it will be discharged as a foreign substance from the body in one way or another.
This crystal, however, neither gets digested nor ejected out of the body.
However, inside the corpse of a host who showed similar symptoms to the ones mentioned earlier — that crystal was detected even after the host got killed.
As long as one doesn’t completely destroy the crystal, it will remain inside no matter what”
Monica let out a small sigh.
……Looks like the real show starts from now on.
I noticed that her atmosphere changed.
“If it was only that, then it would just have been some special material, but — the crystal grows.
Through some method, it finds nourishment inside the host’s body. And it will always come out bigger than it was before the host took it in, sooner or later the crystal will find its next host. My father said that it would enlarge the host’s body in its process of growing, but for now, that doesn’t matter.
──And now to the true terror of that crystal.……It’s the fact I was trying to conceal and over which the researchers banished my father”
Monica dropped the crystal she held in her fingers on the table and closed her eyes.
Even though her eyes were closed they were reminiscent of slight hesitation.
However, she already made up her mind.
As if shaking off something her eyelids opened.
“Do you know a monster called — Tarisberg?”
What emerged from Monica’s mouth — was the name of a monster no one among the elves wouldn’t know.
“Wha……Tarisberg, you said!?”
It was amazing how the atmosphere in this room changed instantly.
Sonia loudly repeated that name and even Cheryl had her eyes wide open.
In this space which instantly reflected the tension, I chewed on that name.
I was reborn as an elf roughly twenty years ago and even I knew the name as well.
–Tarisberg. It’s because that’s the name of the monster which made Alma known as a hero.
Tarisberg is said to be a big beast which suddenly appeared in the elven country after I died. To be exact, one should call them big beasts instead.
Where it originated from was never discovered — this demonic beast which suddenly “appeared” was an existence, one could call the natural enemies to the elves.
Originally, elves didn’t use personal combat as much…… as for martial arts, though it slowly got more known, it was still a rare, distant existence.
I also noticed as I grew up as an elf, but it’s hard for an elven body to build up the necessary muscular strength which is the basis for martial arts. Additionally, because their affinity to magic is very strong, elves prefer long distance attacks centred on magic and the bow in a fight.
Alma’s name getting known to such a degree and martial arts becoming part of physical education regardless of these matters, has something to do with a certain characteristic that monster had.
──It invalidated processed magical power such as magic and sorcery.
That’s what made Tarisberg the natural enemy of the elves.
Tarisberg is not a name given to an individual, it’s a generic name given to giant beasts with the same characteristic.
Thus, the elves didn’t have a counter measure against these huge beasts.
Magic didn’t work and weapons such as swords and bows couldn’t even put a scratch on their tough bodies.
If one had enough magical power in them one could use body strengthening magic.
However, that also needed a certain degree of refinement and body strengthening which constantly consumed magical power wasn’t compatible with magic and sorcery attacks so there were only few who learned it.
Moreover, that gigantic beast had a ferocity bordering madness, indiscriminately attacking any creature it came across.
With no way to confront it, the elves’ corpses, including their so-called heroes, started to pile up and at that time someone from a foreign country appeared — Alma Shijima.
Alma singlehandedly defeated that magic resistant beast and saved the elven country.
Thus, Alma received the title of hero and martial arts got taught–
It is said that the monster called Tarisberg became the most frightening thing to elves.
The name which came out of Monica’s mouth was something like that.
A terror-inducing monster with no equal. That’s what the name Tarisberg means.
“Could you give us an explanation in which way Tarisberg is related to this crystal?”
“Yes. That was my intention.
……Earlier I said that this crystal would gradually grow bigger while changing its hosts, right?
Then, one might think it would just keep growing endlessly, but that isn’t the case.
The result of the crystal finishing its growth — that’s how it relates to Tarisberg.”
I crossed my arms and closed my eyes.
……Listening up to here one can certainly guess the continuation of those words without listening to the end.
What happens when the crystal stops its growth — when it’s complete, so to speak?
“It can’t be……!”
Sonia half stood up from her chair, leaned over and drew closer to Monica.
She seemed to have guessed it as well but spoke hoping for her guess to be wrong.
“Yes, Tarisberg is the result. Whether it changes the host into Tarisberg or the crystal itself becomes Tarisberg isn’t known yet, because it’s such a unique creature –but the fact remains that Tarisberg will appear none the less.”
Sonia probably also understood that those words were meant to deny that possibility.
Having heard Monica’s words, Sonia dropped down on her chair with her face, having lost its usual composure.
Seeing her friend Sonia in that state, Monica’s face twisted into a sorrowful expression.
There was still something difficult to say.
“……And, this is difficult to say, but– I have never seen such a big crystal.
I don’t know what’s happening in the mountains of Natosha, but if there are many crystals which have grown that large — a Tarisberg outbreak won’t be far off”
After Monica squeezed out those words she looked down.
Sonia muttered with a pessimistic smile on her lips.
“Haha……In Natosha……I see……”
It hasn’t been a long time since I met Sonia.
Still, from her usual self, I was unable to imagine her making such a frail expression.
……I don’t have any particular feelings about it, but to elves, the name Tarisberg is something absolutely terrifying after all.
When I looked, Cheryl also seemed slightly uneasy.
When scolding their children elves seemed to tell them they’ll get eaten by Tarisberg — Looks like Chester scolded Cheryl like that as well, huh?
When I patted Cheryl to relieve her tension she returned to normal.
I entered the conversation while smiling.
“I see. Got it. –So, can you predict when the outbreak will happen?”
“It’s hard to say, in a few days? However, it’s possible for me to judge how far along it is to some extent.……Looking at this crystal, that time isn’t too far……”
Monica and Sonia grew gloomier over that fact.
Fumu……Good grief, preconceptions are terrible things.
The scar Tarisberg left behind was unexpectedly big to the extent that masters like Sonia were afraid of it.
“Then, let’s return to Natosha at once. You said there isn’t much time left, right?”
I was reflected in Monica’s and Sonia’s eyes when I casually said that.
Their eyes became round with surprise.
“I heard that this Tarisberg thing will indiscriminately attack people. It’s only been a few days that I was in that town’s care, but I can’t just abandon it so easily, now could I?”
“Can’t abandon it……you say, that’s, it’s impossible. Even if we go back we’ll only return to see them getting killed before our eyes.……the corpses will only increase”
With the smell of tears mixed together with her shaking voice, Sonia cast her eyes down.
However, I lacked knowledge about Tarisberg, so it was only natural to ask.
Sonia’s eyes turned sharp.
“Why……you say, because it’s like that!? How should one fight a monster immune to magical attacks– Ah……?”
In an instant, her voice strengthened and her eyes sharpened.
Watching her with the corners of my mouth raised I saw Sonia having a blank expression float on her face as if she noticed something.
Magic doesn’t work and sorcery will naturally fail.
Both arrows and swords break confronted with that tough body.
A big monster against which you can’t depend on anything you know. The more there are the more troublesome it’ll be. It’s definitely an elf’s natural enemy.
But the only thing I have — is this fist.
“Isn’t it fine? No matter the enemy this is the only thing I can swing.
I think I’m quite suitable. My fighting technique is the Shijima style, same as Alma”
In contrast to Sonia, I raised the corners of my mouth and showed my fist.
A huge beast against neither magic nor sorcery nor weapons work, fine.
It was a narrow-minded thought to only take people as opponents to aim to become the strongest.
“I’ll undertake a Giant Beast Extermination. What, this is part of my martial arts training as well”
When I was young I did a lot of foolish things, defeating demonic beasts with my bare hands is much better.
If it’s that legendary monster there won’t be a shortage of opponents.
“Slava-kun, you’re–……Thank you”
Swallowing several words, Sonia took my hand and strongly clutched it.
From that strong force I felt something.
It’s something I want to do. I don’t ask for anything in return but — no matter how many times one gets reborn the feeling of being relied upon isn’t bad.
“Umu. If I can hear your words of gratitude, that’s enough to make it worth doing.
……Well then let’s hurry back to Natosha, shall we? There isn’t much time, right?”
“Yes. Whether they scattered at the same time or someone was actively distributing them, usually, the crystal’s growth is roughly the same depending on the region. If there is a crystal of this size, then the appearance of Tarisberg should be near.”
While squeezing Sonia’s hand and looking into Monica’s eyes, she gave me information after thinking for a while.
The fact that she changed her expression from not far to near had some meaning to it.
“So, it’s necessary to hurry up, as I thought. Though I just returned to Alfareia, let’s depart.
Monica. The things we talked about were really helpful.”
“……No. It’s me who should thank you.
Please take care of Sonia.”
When I stood up and expressed my intention to leave, Cheryl stood up at the same time.
I shook hands with Monica, who closed her eyes.
……Once more, our destination is Natosha.
Let’s take a look at that Tarisberg with my own eyes.
“Alright, shall we go?”
After we parted with Monica, I put my hand on the door.
……This dark coloured crystal turns into Tarisberg, huh?
Looks like the era I was sent into for my second life is rather complicated.
That’s why it’s fun.
Oh heavens, please throw more hardships at me.
Feeling like my resumed martial arts training will become a steep path, the corners of my mouth slightly curved upwards.
“……It was beyond my expectations that I’d return so quickly after departing.”
Seeing this familiar cityscape which I left behind just a few days ago, I muttered in a somewhat bitter voice. Thinking that I received a new life as an elf in this world only to be about to set foot in a town I didn’t plan to return to anytime soon I could only laugh in self-derision.
However, interestingly I felt nostalgic though it’s only been a few days and life in Natosha felt more concentrated.
“But……I like, the town”
Well, Cheryl seems to be happy and the me now, other than in my previous life full of ties, I don’t hate the crowds anymore, so it’s been a good decision to revisit Alfareia.
“No, I’m sorry for having bothered you with this. But……It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? There are many people here as usual.”
However, there’s one thing that’s different from when I left this town a few days ago.
It’s the existence of Sonia. The martial artist who uses wind magic and crossed fists with me in Natosha.
As she didn’t want to expose her beautiful, real face to the public eye she was wearing her bird mask today.
Giving her a side glance I noticed that this mask was slightly different from the one I smashed in our bout, it seems like she had some kind of fixation and possessed multiple similar masks.
“So, didn’t you say we were heading to the research institute?”
I thought we shouldn’t loiter around the town entrance forever so I urged us to move indirectly.
I’m not really in a hurry, but, whether that is a reaction to my previous life’s last years, I have a hard time keeping still.
“That’s right, let’s not talk while standing so how about we find place to sit down? How about a coffee shop?”
Sonia, having noticed my state, suggested a detour and pointed to a coffee shop.
……Fumu, there’s also some truth to what Sonia said.
In other words, we aren’t really in a hurry and my throat feels dry…… companions and a drink. At such a meaningful time this is more than welcome.
“Coffee shop? Is there……Tea……?”
Cheryl also showed interest in Sonia’s words again.
That reminds me, Chester had a hobby of making tea.
Perhaps she did it because of Cheryl as well, whose eyes were sparkling although her face looked the same as usual.
“If it’s a coffee shop they should have it. Cheryl likes tea, right?”
“I love it. Next to Slava-kun, Grandpa and fighting”
As one could see, Cheryl still seems to like tea. That old man’s grandchild liking his hobby, he’d die of happiness.
……However, I can’t let him hear this because that guy would misunderstand it.
The moment that sentence reaches his ears he’d attack me while shedding bitter tears of blood.
“Aah, I see……But let’s not say that in front of Chester, okay?
If he asks you just say you love it.”
“……? Got it……”
I’m not sure……. if that’s fine, but it’s not a bad idea to set up some precautions for the time being.
If that guy hears that directly from her mouth he might say something like: I’ll kill you and after that, I will die as well.
“Okay, how about that coffee shop over there? I thought it was quite delicious, the last time I came here.”
While I was praying for Cheryl to not tell Chester that sentence in that order Sonia pointed towards a coffee shop with an open terrace.
It was a good shop with a classy atmosphere. Just by looking at its outer appearance one could expect something great.
As no one really objected we headed to the shop and sat down after being guided by a waiter.
Both the customer service and atmosphere were really good. When I was in the human country, I didn’t really see any coffee shops. This is also a fresh and good experience.
“Eehm……Three cups of tea, please”
When I told him my order, not breaking his smile even after seeing Sonia’s strange appearance, the waiter disappeared into the depths of the shop with light steps.
……How professional. It takes some guts to look at someone with such a strange appearance without batting an eye.
“……Well then, where do we go?”
Sonia, who saw off the waiter, let her voice resound in our minds through her mask.
When I nodded instead of replying Sonia removed her mask and put up a finger.
While thinking that she removed the mask, after all, I concentrated my consciousness on Sonia’s words.
“I said it before, but it’s a research institute. There are a great many research institutes here in this elven country. It’s one of them”
Sonia’s long beautiful fingers which lay to her side intertwined with her other hand.
Sonia’s eyes above her crossed fingers were narrowed and looked like she was in deep thoughts.
“Though that place mainly studies the mountain creatures, but I kind of got acquainted with someone because I helped with her work. I intended to rely on her.
Though her speciality is mountain creatures, but she’s a very knowledgeable child brimming with curiosity and I think she’ll be a big help this time.”
I see, was that nostalgia in those eyes as well?
Sonia’s state, who happily recalled an old friend, made me recall Chester suddenly. While sweeping that fearless smile out of my mind I wait for Sonia’s words to continue.
……Certainly, that man is suitable to be called my best friend, but why is it so frustrating to admit that.
“Besides, Slava-kun might be interested in her because she’s an interesting person.”
“Hoh? Can that person…… do it?”
I directed a fearless smile towards Sonia who was throwing a mischievous smile back at me.
However Sonia looked somewhere and laughed after all.
“No, I think she probably wouldn’t be too far behind Cheryl in close combat, I think”
Apparently, my expectations seemed to be off.
I felt a little disappointed but Sonia continued happily.
“But, that child is my master in magic–that might be a bit too exaggerated. As a teacher she’s quite capable.”
“She taught Sonia magic, huh? I see, she surely has caught my interest”
However, Sonia piqued my interest in a different way. There’s also Sonia’s personal talent, but in front of the creator of such powerful magic something like that would be useless, I certainly can’t suppress my curiosity.
“Well, that child’s character is quiet considerably as well
though.……Ah, Miss, over here”
The clerk carrying three cups of black tea on a tray seemed perplexed seeing Sonia without her hood and mask calling her over with her hand raised.
Yeah, it certainly is unexpected that such a beautiful girl hides behind that bird mask.
My apologies, I received the tea while sympathizing with the clerk.
After Sonia expressed a smile to calm down the woman, then when she asked about Cheryl, it seemed like she just placed the cup on her lips.
Following that, I took a few breaths of the tea as well, letting the fragrant amber enter my mouth.
……Fumu, it’s a nice fragrance. The slight astringency is pleasant.
“……Grandpa’s tea is more delicious”
“Hey, that’s not something one should say. ……Well, I agree though”
As I said this in a low voice it seems like Cheryl’s and my opinion regarding tea was the same, as I thought.
Initially, I thought there was something missing, but as I rarely got to enjoy this kind of luxury good, originally, I only had one object to compare it to.
This tea is very delicious as well, however — I feel like it’s somehow not sufficient after all.
……This irritation might be caused by a weird kind of sense of defeat to that guy.
Should I also look for a hobby like that? While thinking there is no benefit to that I let some tea flow into my mouth. It certainly is delicious but it’s still lacking something.
We, who left the coffee shop, slowly moved towards the research institute Sonia told us about.
Unlike Alfareia’s townscape I usually saw, it turned into a dreary place with lesser shops but there seem to be a lot of research facilities scattered over the area.
“Eeehm, it certainly was around here…. Ah, found it, there it is.”
Sonia who was carefully observing the area while walking took off her bird mask.
It seems logical to find a building one hasn’t visited for a long time with their eyes, though she might just have done it because of the lack of traffic.
Still, it’s not like there weren’t any people other than us and every person we met turned back to look at Sonia, without exception. As expected, it goes without saying but it certainly seems inconvenient to live without the mask.
Aside from that. The “research institute” in front of which Sonia stopped was larger than any of the ones standing around here.
I looked around the area to check but only this building felt out of place, there’s no building it could be confused with.
“It seems to be a research institute directly under the country’s control. Though it seems like it’s mostly used to store books and documents — Hm, are you there, Monica-chan?”
Sonia unreservedly rang the bell installed at the research institute’s entrance gate while murmuring — probably that acquaintance’s name.
The name Great National Research Institute is a name to be daunted by, however for her to be able to call someone inside of that place without an appointment…… This girl might unexpectedly be a big shot.
They probably added resonance magic to the bell. Despite the bell only emitting a small sound which didn’t even seem to reach the institute the door behind the gate opened after we waited for a little while and a girl appeared.
Looking about 15 or 16 and having black hair, which was rare for an elf, she was an impressive girl.
While shaking her long, jet-black hair, the girl, who wrapped her petite body in a light looking, long-sleeved garment, stepped forward.
“Do you need something? There weren’t any visitors scheduled for today.
……Also, who are you people? Do you have anything with which you can prove your identity?”
When the girl stopped in front of the closed iron fence gate she observed us doubtfully.
Though I said doubtfully — but her expression didn’t really change. The reason I mentioned it was because it got barely transmitted from her voice.
However, asking for our identity and needing an appointed to visit, this seems to be a different person from Sonia’s acquaintance.
Given her young appearance, could she be an assistant of this research institute?
Did she come in “Monica’s” stead? While I was silently doubting, Sonia raised a light voice sounding like a musical instrument.
“Come on, Monica-chan, it’s me, Sonia. Don’t tell me you forgot about me?”
Somehow, this girl in front of her seemed to be “Monica” looking delighted about their reunion.
Maybe that acquaintance was just a one-sided thing. Just one word of that black haired girl… was able to destroy these doubts I was harbouring.
“……Sonia? You were an elf. I thought you were a new variation of sub-humans for sure. That mask was one reason”
“Eeh~? How mean, but I guess this is the first time I showed you my real face, isn’t it?”
Aah, I see. That certainly is a slightly strange girl is what I thought.
However, the same thing can be said about Sonia — us, as well.
An elven boy with the mind of an old man.
A half elven, half Majin girl who occasionally had some destructive impulses.
An elven girl who always wears a bird mask.
And, a researcher who was convinced that the bird mask wearing girl was such a creature.
……Well, she seemed to hold a great sense of pride.
How many times did I gulp down a sigh about to flow out?
Suddenly, I felt exhausted and dropped my shoulders.
“……So, those people are?”
The girl called Monica, who probably noticed some figures behind Sonia, asked about our identity.
Her suspicions about Sonia seemed to have been cleared, but this is unmistakably the first time she met us.
It can’t be helped that one would be cautious to some extent.
“Hm, aah, shall I introduce you? This is Slava-kun, who is a martial artist in training, and his friend Cheryl-chan.
I had a match with Slava-kun and I lost.”
“Heh, you beat Sonia? Though you look rather young, that is a considerable thing, isn’t it?”
As Sonia introduced us I together with Cheryl lowered my head.
Contrary to her voice, her expression didn’t change much more than Cheryl’s.
She had a good looking face, but it seemed like a mask.
Somehow, I got the impression that it’s the opposite of Sonia.
A girl who doesn’t show her emotions on her face and Sonia who is rich in emotions while hiding her face.
This adds to my curiosity on how those two got to know each other.
“……Well, it’s fine. There’s no reason to reject you if you got introduced by Sonia.
Anyway, you brought something troublesome again, didn’t you? I’ll ask for more details inside.”
When the girl called Monica moved her finger the gate opened automatically.
Perhaps the gate itself is enchanted. When we passed through the gate it closed again without anyone operating it.
Following that swaying black hair, I stepped into the research institute and let my gaze move from left to right observing the long corridor while maintaining the minimum amount of composure.
This certainly seemed to have cost some money to make. The great number of doors indicated that there was the same amount of rooms.
Still, it placed emphasis on functionality and its calm and modest appearance left a favourable impression.
……However, it was somewhat different from what I thought.
As it’s a national research institute I imagined a place where a large number of researchers wrapped in enchanted clothes busily moved about.
I didn’t detect any signs of life in here. It can’t be that everyone is out — or that’s what I think, but if it isn’t that what’s with this?
Monica, not knowing whether she noticed my inhibitions, continued walking without breaking her constant rhythm.
“We’re there. I’ll listen to your story in this room. Sit where ever you want.”
After walking for a while, Monica stopped in front of an impressive door, opened it and invited us inside.
……Looking at it, it resembled a dining room in Chester’s residence — or rather, this is a dining room, well, anywhere is fine.
Sonia entered first and immediately sat down on a chair, following that Cheryl and I sat down close to her.
Monica pulled her chair to face us.
“Honestly, I would have wanted to serve you some appetisers in the parlour, but, you see, that place is rather cramped.
Well then, let’s start with self-introductions. My name is Monica Renfield.
The only researcher of the National Institute of Biological Research.”
After declaring this without faltering with her spine stretched, holding a dignified form, Monica let out a small sigh.
……What, looks like my senses weren’t mistaken back then after all, huh?
When I didn’t detect any signs of life I thought my senses had grown dull, but those were just unfounded fears as it seemed, which made me feel relieved.
However, there’s only one researcher at the national research institute?
That’s what I’m rather interested about.
“This girl, though she is like this, she’s very able. For the sake of supporting this child the country established this research institute in name only…… Well, it is a research facility on the paper though.
Though it’s a biological laboratory, her main job is the development of magic tools. Ah, biological research seems to be that girl’s hobby.”
“Scandalous. I more or less do work fitting the name”
I almost racked my brain over this, but thanks to Sonia’s explanation she saved me the effort.
Fumu, the country made up that name to support the girl. This certainly is pretty exaggerated.
“I’d like to introduce myself once again, as well. I’m Sonia Alven. Natosha’s Sky Gazer”
“I know you already…… is what I want to say, but this is the first time I saw your real face. Unexpectedly, I was slightly surprised.”
Despite saying she was surprised there wasn’t any change in her expression or intonation.
Actually, when I saw Sonia’s face for the first time I was pretty surprised.
Well, I didn’t even know that there’d be a woman of the same calibre nearby.
As I was distantly observing those two who came close to the image of the word friendship, unexpectedly, Sonia’s and Monica’s eyes locked on me at that time.
I guess, they want to tell me it’s my turn next.
Well then, how should I do this? The girl named Monica should be older than me as an elf. It might be better to keep a minimum amount of courtesy.
“I am called Slava Marshal. I met Sonia in the middle of my martial arts training, we got along well and are now acting together”
“That sounds rough.
Yes, nice to meet you……what’s the matter, Sonia?”
Apparently, my polite speech hit her weak spot, as Sonia tried to stifle her laughter which nearly managed to gush out.
……It’s nothing to laugh about. Well, I myself feel a sense of incongruity, however — I don’t think it is funny to be polite to a person you meet for the first time.
“Kuku……No, it’s kind of refreshing”
“You’re weird Sonia. Well then, that one’s –”
However, Monica didn’t ask anymore, probably because she was used to the person called Sonia.
Anyway…… that said, Monica fixed her eyes on Cheryl.
Cheryl, who stared back at her with round eyes that still had some childishness left in them, gave a small nod.
“Cheryl Prime. Half Majin and half elf.”
“Cheryl-chan, is it? Nice to meet you”
As they both weren’t people of many words they ended the conversation with a bow without prolonging the conversation.
Well then, this is the end of our greetings.
Can we finally get to the main point? I gave Sonia a signal with my eyes.
“Uhm, shall we get to the main point then?”
“Yes, please do”
Sonia who nodded in my direction took out the crystal in question out of a pocket attached to her clothes.
Just then, Monica’s look changed.
That look seems like she did know something, as we thought.
Monica watches the crystal which was taken out and gives Sonia quiet instructions through hand movements.
Give me the crystal. Sonia, who understood her silent demand, moved the crystal from her fine fingers.
Letting light shine through the crystal she received, it remained cloudy as expected.
The crystal let some light from the chandeliers attached to the ceiling shine through it dying Monica’s silver eyes red.
The dark red light which dyed Monica’s eyes seems to drip out of the crystal like blood.
“……As I thought, this is”
Monica’s sharp eyes kept narrowing.
Her first change in expression as far as I saw. The situation might be more serious than I thought. That’s the feeling I got from these eyes.
Monica straightened her expression before long and fixed her eyes on us.
The crystal which was exposed to light was handed over to us so that we could look at it.
“That’s the first time I saw such a big crystal.
This doesn’t have a fixed name yet, but we researchers, out of convenience, call it”
She paused to breathe in a little.
Instead of exhaling, Monica told us … that things name.
“”Dark coloured crystal” –”
The calm voice of the orderly girl sounded through the dining hall illuminated by inorganic lights.
Wondrously, my — no, our eyes got stolen by that crystal. We were able to very naturally accept that name for some reason.
Dark and moist murderous intent was directed towards me.
The moist air which originally wrapped around the trees now got corrupted by the bloody smell of a beast.
In front of me, there was a heavily breathing, gigantic boar, which is the origin of this smell, blocking the road.
Its eyes harboured a strong murderous intent which made me doubt they belonged to an animal for an instant.
It wasn’t hunger nor was it anger caused by invading its territory.
It was a black emotion not directly connected with instinct which was unnatural for an animal to possess.
–It certainly is appropriate to call this strange.
I stroked my chin, inside the mountains Sonia asked me to visit.
The gigantic boar let out a muffled roar as the prey before it was moving.
That gigantic boar, letting out a strong murderous intent, kicked the ground, making it shake in the process.
With its big body overflowing with magical power it starts to run with a violent force packed with all its speed and mass.
That massive body smashing trees in its way while charging completely looked like a chariot.
On the other hand, I thought it pulling a carriage would be great.
That, however, depends on if one could even tame this incarnation of raging violence.
It seems impossible for me.
This is what one would call a reckless charge. I don’t know —
Whether out of instinct or desire– its only purpose was to cause destruction, but if it doesn’t desire to communicate it wouldn’t even feel the pain caused by one’s tries to train it.
The gigantic body of the boar drew closer while pushing away the broken trees’ branches.
I glanced at it before I kicked the ground.
I jumped over the three metor high, massive body of that boar while twisting my body to form a lax circle.
After I landed without making any sound like a feather the boar stopped its charge before I saw it running towards me again.
It was definitely targeting me which reminds me of Sonia’s words she directed towards me before I entered the mountain.
“The mountain’s wildlife is acting strangely, was it?”
I repeated those words I heard while watching that enormously big body approaching.
While having my thoughts wander to a far-off place, I locked my eyes on the approaching, big boar and let my body overflow with magical power.
However, that large boar didn’t care about that and ran towards me with that large body, not hesitating at all.
The distance between us melted in the blink of an eye, at that time the boar tried to crush this boy’s body by ruthlessly stomping on it.
I focused all my magical power in my feet and kicked the huge boar’s face.
The large boar got forcibly bent into a perpendicular position.
An earth shattering crushing sound could be heard as the boar’s massive built mowed down many trees.
With is head pointing into a different direction than its body the gigantic boar stopped moving.
I glanced at the motionless boar at the tip of my kicked-out foot and retreated it.
I walked towards the large boar which became a motionless corpse and crouched down.
Those eyes which were fitted in that big body were filled with something like insanity as it died.
“– I see, this certainly is strange”
It wasn’t an act out of instinct such as hunger or to protect its territory or off springs. If it went on a rampage because of pain then it would have shown some reaction to the wood piercing its body.
In short, there was no reason behind its actions. Or rather, it did it because it wanted to– it gave the impression that it let itself get led by its destructive impulses.
Another thing I don’t understand is how it could have such an unexpectedly large body different from normal boars.
The blood flowing out of the large boar changed its colour to the same murky black its magical power, which one should rather call miasma, had.
I’m not even sure if one can still call this a boar.
There’s this one thing, however, I absolutely cannot understand.
That’s– this, magical power.
In the first place, it’s really unusual for non-humanoid creatures to be able to handle magical power.
There exist countless species in this world but there have been very few species, except humanoids, who were confirmed to be able to harness magical power.
They were mostly part of the dragon species whose population is really small, so just hearing that some wild boar inside this kind of mountain was able to harness magical power no one would believe that.
……And such unbelievable things are said to happen all over the world, including the mountains near Natosha.
I wouldn’t have believed it either before seeing it with my own eyes, however– seeing that large boar, it seems the rumours were true.
However, that’s not the only thing I don’t understand about this.
As I mentioned before, that magical power’s…. It’s nature.
It felt unprecedentedly evil and rough as if it was malice itself.
Even a person with malicious intentions would have trouble to produce such wicked magical power.
For a beast with low intelligence to possess something like that lets one realize the magnitude of this matter.
──However, I didn’t really know what to think about this.
“……Lets meet up with Cheryl and Sonia for the time being.”
I stood up in order to head towards the meeting place I agreed upon with Cheryl and Sonia who acted separately.
I wouldn’t call it uneasiness, but I left the place feeling like something will definitely happen.
As I finished exploring I subdued several wild boars which also turned violent as well as some other monsters — then I headed towards the location Sonia designated.
It was a river located in a relatively shallow part of the forest. It’s filled with pure water which strongly reflected Natosha’s nature.
As the trees became fewer and it gradually grew brighter my goal came into view.
Cheryl and Sonia already sat down on a rock near the river.
“Huh, you’re already here? Have I kept you waiting?”
To not alarm those two I approached them while calling out to them.
Cheryl who was scooping up some water and Sonia who was watching her with a smile turned around at the same time.
“No, not at all, we just got here as well. Fufu, this kind of exchange always seemed fun”
For some reason Sonia was very happy.
I relaxed my facial muscles and started to laugh while she was shaking her head and trying to cover her slightly reddened cheeks.
……That reminds me, she wasn’t wearing her mask which she wore until a while ago.
“You took off the bird mask?”
“In the mountains there aren’t any people who’d care. Thanks to you I feel a little better.”
While stretching, Sonia gave off a sense of liberation.
It was just a casual gesture but due to the location it seemed very picturesque.
If one is a girl with Sonia’s facial features no matter what she’d do it would attract people’s attention.
“If it’s Sonia, it might be like that.……So, what are your search’s results?”
“Ehh? That’s all? I thought…… there’d be more”
……However, I’m getting used to it.
Sonia directed a fearless smile towards me with that vermilion colour still present on her face.
Ever since we shared that hot bath, I’m troubled by her aggressive attacks.
In a sense, for me who spent more than 100 years single, she might be an opponent more powerful than Chester.
“No, it suits you — sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, you’re very cute?”
Still, without breaking eye contact I opened my mouth as I was thinking.
Even though they were just plain and awkward words, Sonia seemed satisfied, maybe because my honest feelings were conveyed.
“Hmm~? Ufufu~, well, that’s good enough for now, I guess~”
Sonia turned her face away to hide that loose smile while pretending to be unaware of the reddish tinge present on her face getting stronger.
Good grief, if you’ll get all flustered like this yourself, why do this to begin with?
Why use such a suicide bombing attack…. though me, who used “Cherry blossoms (Trail made)”, saying that would seem rather rude, wouldn’t it?
“I, isn’t it enough already, one shouldn’t make fun of the elderly. Besides, how about Sonia starting to talk about this times exploration. Let’s report quickly.”
Looks like I can’t help but hide my embarrassment again, after all.
I don’t think I can keep covering it up and I think Sonia has already noticed, but– Well, it’s a matter of pride.
“I got it, I got it. Well then, shall we start talking a little more seriously?……Cheryl-chan”
When Sonia turned her head her face regained its dignified, strong brilliance.
Fumu. Did you organize your thoughts or– is the report’s content important?
Cheryl, in response to Sonia’s words, tilted her head slightly and took something out.
Cheryl held it in both her hands and showed it to me.
She probably wants me to look at what she had in her hands.
I took what I was shown out of Cheryl’s glossy hands.
“Yes, Cheryl-chan found it”
A completely dark red crystal.
This was a strange colour for a jewel to have and it gave off a strong brilliance unusual for a stone as well.
It seemed like the solidified blood of a dragon– as if regrets were mixed together with a ruby.
“I don’t know. However, this colour is worrisome, isn’t it?”
“Colour……Ah, I see, that’s how it is, huh?”
As I questioned Sonia an idea immediately formed in my mind and I immediately stopped the interrogation.
That’s because that colour which emitted such malice seemed familiar to me.
“It really does look similar. Those crazy animals — No, should I call them monsters? It resembles the magical power they gave off”
That’s right, it’s that magical power that shouldn’t exist which I saw just now.
Magical power coloured like blood which seemed like malice itself. This crystal had a similar colour.
Besides, this crystal itself emitted weak but evil magical power.
It was really weak that one would miss it if one wasn’t careful but– as I thought, this doesn’t seem unrelated.
“That’s right. Though it was concealed by the disgusting demonic beasts’ magical power, but, as you said, I can feel the same energy from it.
You did great, Cheryl-chan. If it wasn’t for you, I’d surely overlooked this”
“……! I’m great?”
“Yeah, great, Cheryl”
I patted Cheryl’s head as her eyes seemed to sparkle, trying not to dishevel her hair.
Then Cheryl span round and round, spreading her flowery skirt.
Now that I think about it, recently she started expressing herself through movements to make up for her lack of facial expressions.
Cheryl, who expressed her joy for a while, got closer to me and took my arm.
She took me to a nearby rock and sat down.
She seemed to tell me to sit down as well. As I didn’t have a reason to refuse, I placed my buttocks on that rock.
Naturally, we sat on the same rock.
Cheryl who got praised by Sonia and me seems to be in a good mood.
Her satisfied and comfortable looking face was very cute.
I carefully reached out my head to her head.
However, Cheryl seemed to like being patted so she accepted happily.
Truthfully, she seems to love it. I’m horrified because recently I started to understand that fellow, Chester’s feelings.
Oops, my thoughts were just deviating from the topic. Let’s get back to the main subject.
“So, as for my report, but– What’s the matter, Sonia?”
……Mu? Now that Sheryl also calmed down I called Sonia to get back on topic but I got a displeased answer in return.
Did I do something bad?……Things like a woman’s heart, I don’t get them.
I have no idea how a “woman” such as Sonia is thinking probably because I was surrounded by young girls like Seria and Cheryl up until now.
I kind of understood how to handle Cheryl, but I wonder if I will learn in time.
“……? Well, fine. Well then, my turn, but to tell the truth, nothing much happened.
I killed a big boar, a deer and two snakes which attacked me.
However, this is my personal opinion, but– those demonic beasts weren’t very animal like is what I thought. I had the impression as if their actions weren’t driven by instinct but by a clear malicious intent.”
I recalled those attacking animals’– no, demonic beasts’ evil eyes.
Even now I was still worried about the fact that I got attacked with the intent to kill without any reason whatsoever.
“We didn’t encounter any violent animals, but malice, huh……?”
Sonia put the back of her hand under her slim chin.
Like the moon hiding behind clouds, her emotions seemed to be hidden somewhere behind those beautiful lips.
Sonia, who seemed to be deep in thought, breathed some words rather than saying them from time to time.
“Yeah, as I thought, I have to go to that place, don’t I……?
Hey, Slava-kun, have you decided on your next destination yet…….?”
Before long she seemed to have collected her thoughts, then Sonia propped up her face with her hand and asked us.
Those words which carried a certain sense of fear…… seemed to implicate she indirectly hoped we haven’t decided yet.
To tell the truth, I haven’t decided yet — I didn’t really think about anything after the match with Sonia, after all.
“No, I haven’t decided on one yet. I hadn’t planned anything except when I heard from a friend that there is a strong fighter in Natosha.”
“I see! Then that’s really good!”
When told that our next destination was yet undecided Sonia’s voice lighted up, proving that my theory was right after all.
Our destination being undecided is good and convenient, meaning — you want us to go somewhere.
“Actually, there’s a place I want to take that crystal to.
I have an acquaintance in a research institute located in Alfareia. If your destination is yet undecided why don’t you come back with me to the capital which would also serve as information gathering?…. Is what I was wondering”
Sonia, whose eyes were moist, asked this of me with upturned eyes. Perhaps, she wants me to accompany her there.
……When hearing something like this how could one refuse? A girl’s upturned eyes probably are some kind of secret eye technique.
However. It’s true that our destination isn’t decided yet and this might unexpectedly be a good suggestion.
“Fumu……That might be a good suggestion. A place where a lot of people gather certainly is the best for gathering information.”
“Yeah, it’s a good idea to go back to Alfareia one more time. Thank you, Sonia.”
When I smiled widely and turned to her, Sonia’s face was dyed in deep red.
“I, I don’t think it’s very nice to surprise attack people like that……”
Sonia twisted her body while trying to hide her cheeks which became bright red as she was taken by surprise.
I shouldn’t have said anything too weird but — I don’t know about that. I should learn more about a woman’s feelings to avoid angering her so suddenly, huh……
Putting that aside, it’s good that we decided on a destination.
I didn’t think I would come back right after I said my good-byes, but life is like that sometimes.
“Then, shall we leave? Personally, I’d like to hurry up a bit……”
As she tried to change the conversation’s direction with something like impatience, soft laughter spilt out of my mouth.
As the smile on my face inflated my cheeks, Sonia turned to face the other way.
It seems like, even though she’s good at attacking, she’s quite bad at receiving.
I obtained some good information but let’s get on with the talk.
“If that’s so…… then lets depart tomorrow. I want to adapt to Sonia’s circumstances. Is that alright with you Cheryl?”
“Yeah……I, like the city”
I more or less tried to get Cheryl’s approval as well, however — it seems like there was no part in her wanting to deny.
She seems to like the city a lot, so it is an even better idea to return to the city if Cheryl can enjoy herself as well.
“Well, because there’s nothing but nature here in Natosha. Well then, let’s strike while the iron is hot and leave tomorrow, shall we? Towards the capital Alfareia!”
By obtaining our approval Sonia’s voice gained in brightness and she loudly declared as such.
Even if she begs to differ, she’s also a young elf. Watching these events unfold, swinging between joy and sadness, is pleasing to watch.
An immediate goal has been decided as well so for now I’ll just sigh.
──However, a crystal emitting a very small amount of magical power and monsters becoming violent and possessing magical power, huh?
Their correlation has yet to be proven, I, however, quietly believed in the correlation between these two things without anything for the time being.
Unexpectedly, this second life I received might take place in a troublesome age without my knowledge.
Feeling the beginning of something, I looked up at the sky.
“Well then, shall we go, Cheryl-chan?”
“……Yup. Hot spring, fun”
The beautiful moon brightened the area like a spotlight in the dark mountains.
An elven girl, who boasts peerless beauty which is still insufficient to describe her, and a half-elven, half-Majin girl, who gave of a mysterious radiance, stood there together.
Both of them were only wearing a towel and the limps which were illuminated by the moonlight were beautiful in an artistic sense rather than a sexual one.
From their appearance, one could assume they were about to take a bath. One could also say, walking around the cold mountain dressed like that was rather reckless.
That girl who swung her golden thread like hair from side to side barely covering anything of her body despite– No, because she usually concealed those abundant curves from the public under her robe, now seemed like she was flaunting her magnificent beauty.
In contrast to that golden haired girl, the white haired girl accompanying her possessed a childish body with close to none curves whatsoever. However, on the other hand, through her gracefulness and reserved nature, a certain majesty is born which made her fascinating while still being a little girl.
They were two girls who would even put a goddess’ beauty to shame.
The golden haired girl was called Sonia and the white haired girl’s name was Cheryl.
“……But is that really fine? Grandfather told me to never show my naked body to a man”
Among those two, Cheryl seemed puzzled and sent questioning looks towards Sonia.
Although they seemed to be young appearance- and character wise, but those two who carried elven blood within them were much older than they appeared to be.
Because of that effect the elven sense of virtue differed greatly from their outward appearance and was firmly rooted in their culture.
“Right, normally one shouldn’t do that. But Cheryl-chan……Eehm, have you ever taken a bath together with your grandfather?”
“Hm hm, so if it’s with siblings, parents and people you’re close with then you don’t have to mind it.
Slava-kun is also like a big brother to you, right Cheryl-chan?”
“That’s……Right. But I’m a year older so I’m the big sister……”
Sonia smiled at Cheryl who proudly stuck out her non-existent chest and snorted.
“Fufu, well, anyway, it’s okay with people like him. So, if you understood shall we continue? Our bodies will get cold”
“……Hot spring!……Huh? But what about Sonia?”
When she said the word “hot spring”, for which she held high expectations as she never saw one before, Cheryl threw up her right hand while still holding onto her towel.
……However, despite her still being a child she seemed to have noticed the incongruity in Sonia’s words.
Certainly, Slava and Cheryl were close childhood friends. Their relationship was like that of a parent and child or siblings, very close.
Then, what is Slava, whom she just recently met, to Sonia?
Cheryl looked doubtful as she felt this was a little unconvincing somehow.
Sonia who got asked something like this by a child softened her eyes for just an instant.
However, she quickly recovered.
“Me, you ask?……I’m, let’s see. I’d want to be his future wife, just kidding.”
She covered her cheeks dyed in vermilion with both her hands.
Young Cheryl didn’t really know if that was the answer to her question but– she didn’t like it for some reason.
“Come on, let’s hurry. If we don’t hurry Slava-kun might leave before we get there, you know?
You want to bath together with him, right?”
But Cheryl was still just a child for an elf blessed with longevity. She seemed to have decided to give priority to spending time with her favourite boy without being swayed by some passing emotion.
Silence was circulating between them for a while.
Despite the small steps Cheryl took, their destination wasn’t far anymore and it soon entered those two’s field of vision.
What they saw was — Not sure if one could classify him as a boy– the elven boy they were talking about just now.
“Yes, good, good. Looks like he just entered……”
Sonia who spotted Slava unconsciously hid behind a bush and lowered her voice.
Cheryl, who didn’t quite understand why she did this, copied her. Feeling embarrassed in front of the opposite gender dressed like this was natural after all.
“Fufu, “Aah~”, he said. He’s an old man on the inside after all, huh?”
Usually, Slava would have noticed those two but as he was bathing in the hot spring, which he professed to love, he let his guard down.
Still, Salva was a slightly special boy who would instantly get ready for battle if any of those two emitted any malicious intent. Those two observed Slava without being that careless.
“Still……If you look closely, he looks cool even though he’s young”
Sonia muttered as if she looked at a completely different person than before when she looked at Slava from that angle.
She unconsciously held her breath while she observed the bathing Slava’s profile.
Certainly, his face, while still being childish, was well formed.
Every part of him was honed without a flaw reminding one of an excellent sword, those sharp contours were reminiscent of a body thoroughly put through training. His copper coloured hair which was cut short so that it won’t get in the way, though not very decorative, had a functional beauty to it and fit the boy called Slava very well.
……What Sonia liked the most, however, were his eyes.
It was precisely because she knew Slava’s circumstances that she noticed the charm of those aggressive and solemn eyes which normally couldn’t be found on a young boy’s face. And yet, those eyes seemed to contain some sorrow mixed with deep affection.
An elf’s lifespan is long. However, because of that life ends up feeling dull.
Sonia hated that. She didn’t want to live a meaningless life. That’s why Slava’s eyes, which harboured a great variety of emotions, and inevitably his mind as well seemed attractive to her.
What was he thinking about now?
He looked up at the moon, his eyes, which were tinged in a deep sorrow, glued to it as if he tried to absorb its light.
If possible I’d like to watch him like this forever. The moment she thought that a strong pull on her arm brought Sonia back to reality.
“……Right. If we stay here we’ll get cold.”
It was Cheryl who pulled at her arm. Cheryl, who tilted her head and directed questioning eyes towards Sonia, seemed to be a little cold.
That’s right, they were here dressed like this to bath together with the boy who was soaking in the hot water.
Sonia who was reminded of that became slightly red again.
It was embarrassing for her to expose her skin in front of the man she fell in love with. That was only natural, as Sonia hadn’t really experienced love before she met Slava.
For Sonia, whose beauty even made a goddess look pale next to her, it wasn’t unusual for men to show up with the desire to court her.
But the men who made advances towards her always only wanted to get to know her after seeing her face. Before she noticed, Sonia got a really dull impression of that thing called love.
While she was like that this boy called Slava appeared before her.
A special kind of boy who, while still being an elf, had a very strong air about him. The more Sonia spoke and listened to him the more interested she got in him.
As she listened she found out his special circumstance of being a “former human”. So while being of the same long-lived elven race he was an “elderly boy”.
And — that absurd strength. Slava’s fist which broke Sonia’s mask smashed in the door which closed off the maiden’s heart within her.
Sonia who experienced “love” for the first time was fired up to such an extent one couldn’t imagine her usually being very calm.
──If I miss him here I’ll have to spend this long life always compromising. Sonia having such conviction was a matter of course.
Be assertive, don’t regret anything, live strongly! Like that this reckless assault came to be.
“A, alright, let’s go, Cheryl-chan”
When the girl — She travelled together with Slava– Cheryl nodded in agreement Sonia slightly changed her position.
She was embarrassed to go out just as is so she circled around and approached Slava from behind.
Then the girl’s first love started to progress.
As she encountered Slava under the moonlight, seeming calm, they exchanged their mutual intentions with each other.
Before long, that surprisingly pleasant time passed and Slava, who was soaking in hot water, stood up.
The hot spring made him feel so relaxed he completely forgot to cover his front. Or is it the habit of an old man no one would look at in that way? Old habits die hard.
Sonia hastily covered her eyes.
──However, Being interested in sex for the first time (Cheryl had yet to understand that concept) Sonia felt restless and spread out her fingers.
At that time, a cracking sound containing some moisture, sounding like a palm strike, was reverberating through the mountains.
The source of that sound was the boy who strangely attracted the girl’s gaze.
When Sonia opened her eyes behind her hands she saw–
The figure of Slava hitting his back with a slightly wet towel, which he wore on his head up until a while ago, through his crotch.
……Why did that gesture of which she didn’t understand the purpose seem so natural as if it was a habit?
“Like an old man….” is the impression it gave of and reaffirming the fact again that Slava is an old man who’s a hot spring enthusiast.
……However, love is said to be blind, isn’t it? As this gesture seemed cute to her, for some reason, Sonia let out a sigh.
The sun which glared down on us in the day now concealed itself making way for the moon to watch the sky instead.
Only that fantastic scenery spread out in front of me.
I saw the moonlight reflecting on this water. One could identify it as hot water as the moonlight and steam were mixing together in a fantastical dance.
“It’s the first time in years I enter a hot spring. It’s been such a long time since I saw something this splendid.”
The so-called hot spring.
They are bathing facilities built around naturally formed or man-made pools of hot water.
In my previous life, when I was still a human my Master often took me with him when he visited them.
As I went again and again I came to enjoy that thing called hot spring.
Now that I think about it, one could say visiting them is my hobby. That’s why I’m in high spirits right now.
–After the fight I went to this nameless hot spring on Sonia’s recommendation.
My physical wounds mostly got healed with healing magic but the exhaustion stayed and still had to be cured. Then when Sonia suggested me to go relax while taking a hot bath I jumped at that suggestion leading to the current situation.
It’s said that this is an undiscovered hot spring not even the locals knew about but with Sonia’s power to detecting its smell and heat finding it was easy.
That’s how I got this hot water.
This sulfuric fragrance is just right. I must know it, I went around several hot springs together with Master after all. This water is of good quality!
“–Ups, don’t get impatient, don’t get impatient”
That cold wind blowing around my body made me want to quickly enter the bath but I was able to control myself through much effort.
A hot spring is a place where you can wash away your fatigue and enjoy yourselves but even taking a bath has its etiquette.
I slowly approached the bath and carefully checked its temperature.
Fumu, the water’s fine. I wonder from where the water influx is controlled –Is what I thought while feeling the water’s warmth. I heard this place was amazing because it’s naturally formed.
After I checked the temperature I filled the wooden bucket Sonia lent me with the muddy, hot water and calmly poured it over my body.
This not only washes off the body’s dirt but also lets it get used to the hot water’s temperature.
After my body was properly adjusted to the water I could enter the bath at last.
I let my body slowly sink into it starting with my feet. The stone inside the hot spring felt slightly slimy, probably caused by the precipitation of its components, and stuck to the skin.
“Tsu, ah~……This is, irresistible……”
As if having been pushed out by this hot water this hoarse voice left my mouth while I let my body sink further.
That chilly temperature outside paired with this water’s warmth. My body seemed to just melt away……
In addition, the moonlight shining through the trees gave this scene a certain beauty. Being able to view a perfect, picturesque scenery while soaking in perfectly heated water. There’s no other hot spring like this. I would have liked to visit it together with Master.
While feeling exalted I began to sing a song. No, accurately speaking, I was singing melodies without actually knowing if it was a song or not.
As I was mimicking the thing Master always sang, I didn’t even know if these were the lyrics of the song or not either. However, it kept pouring out of this mouth, how weird.
I was told this song was about a good-natured lumberjack…… I want to hear that tasteful singing voice once again.
I stopped singing after some time.
Now that I think about it, I really received a lot from Master.
The Shijima style’s techniques, my morals, this hobby.
He was such an important existence.……I wanted to pay him back for at least one of those favours. I wasn’t able to repay anything while receiving so much.
I rubbed some hot water on my face and then looked up at the sky.
……That’s no good, no good. Don’t I feel too depressed for soaking in this kind of first rate bath after so much effort?
Even though I didn’t tell anything to Alma, but I might not have been able to overcome my own Master’s death.
“Oh my, you’ve got quite the gloomy face there, don’t you?”
It was in the midst of that. When I saw the shadow of my Master floating on the full moon I heard a bell-like voice.
A familiar, clear voice. It probably belonged to Sonia.
Did I look that gloomy for her to say that? While laughing a little I turned my head towards the voice which sounded like it was dancing in the moonlight.
Then, when I did that–
Sonia together with Cheryl stood there with her beautiful, lascivious skin exposed, making me think the Moon Goddess has descended before me.
……Those two only warped in a thin cloth made me uneasy.
“Wha, wha wha wha……”
The shock was so great I even forgot that Cheryl stood next to her for an instant.
In short, two girls only covering themselves with a single towel stood before me.
“Pu, put on some clothes, clothes I say! A girl of marriageable age looking like that……”
I don’t know about the elven culture, but as a human being, I know that a girl of marriageable age shouldn’t expose herself in public like that.
Thus, I half-anxiously, half-amazed remonstrated Sonia, but–
“Hm? What a weird thing to say. To enter the hot spring one has to take off one’s clothes. Right, Cheryl-chan?”
“Hot spring, I want to enter, too……”
Am I the only one who felt this urgency? Those two started to pour water over their bodies as if it’s natural.
……U, umu, is this normal in the elven country?
Certainly, my body looks like that of a 10 year old boy but my mind is that of an over 100 year old man.
Both of them should now that……
“Cheryl aside– Sonia’s and my actual age are pretty close, right? Don’t you feel ashamed?”
Cheryl and I would be grandfather and grandchild in human terms. Even in elven terms, our relationship would be something like an older brother and younger sister, well, I’m not completely sure.
But there’s hardly any age difference between me and Sonia. Although this body’s age is far from her’s, but a maiden exposing herself in front of a man of similar age is just unacceptable.
“Feeling ashamed……I do. But I don’t particularly mind if it’s Slava-kun”
“Is it because this body looks young? But I’m actually–”
“I know. It’s just something I deemed to be right or something.
I usually don’t even take off my mask in public. Though it’s a different matter when I have to eat but it’s unusual for me to eat together with someone.
However, you took off my mask with your own power”
Sonia put up her index finger while holding her towel.
Even among elves who usually are beautiful, Sonia who did that gesture with that kind of beauty gave off an especially strong radiance which made my heart roar so unlike my age.
“To be honest, I fell in love with you. It’s not only because you are strong but it’s also that attitude and way of thinking I like. You’re as composed as the calm sea and yet you also possess the ingenuousness to make your heart just like the raging sea when it comes to battle.”
Sonia gently put her finger under my chin.
……What’s this? Am I being courted, me?!
The me who never was in such a relationship unintentionally flinched.
Or is she teasing me? Either way, this situation was rather stimulating for me who led a single life up until now.
“……Oh? You’re quite upset”
My heart was beating violently, one could see me fret more than enough as well, and then there it came…
While still having the innocence of a girl her bewitchingly glittering lips shook with a smile.
“Could it be you unexpectedly aren’t used to this kind of thing?……Don’t worry. This would be my first time as well–”
I was tempted to ask if that was really the case.
Sonia’s tension got transmitted from her ever approaching lips.
I didn’t know what to do so my body solidified pitifully. This childish appearance might actually fit me, huh?
I neither accepted nor rejected her. When Sonia’s lips overlapped with my tense ones– just at that moment.
Sonia reversed her movements and separated from me.
Part of me was relieved she changed her mind the other part felt it was a shame. Although I felt strangely relieved I was finally able to understand the present situation.
After I somewhat regained my composure I looked back, what made Sonia change her mind– was Cheryl.
Cheryl firmly grabbed Sonia’s hand. Looking at that situation, she probably grabbed Sonia’s hand and pulled it away from me.
“……What’s wrong, Cheryl-chan?”
Cheryl pointed her deep red eyes to the ground as if she wanted to glare at Sonia.
I don’t feel any murderous intent but her eyes were very similar to the ones she had at that time. Sonia’s tone while asking such a thing in that kind of situation had a certain sharpness to it.
To that voice which still retained its gentleness Cheryl glanced at her from the corner of her eyes.
“I don’t want that……Though I don’t know why but I don’t want that”
Cheryl closed her eyes and swung her head to show her disapproval.
……Fumu, does the person herself not understand the reason behind her actions either?
But I could see Alma’s figure overlapping with her’s.
Jealousy– it’s similar to that and yet it’s slightly different. It’s a feeling like the fear of parents and brothers leaving you behind.
I was able to completely regain my composure.
I smiled at Cheryl.
“Cheryl, don’t worry. I won’t leave you. Did you do up your hair?”
I didn’t notice before as I lacked composure but Cheryl’s long hair looked like it was done up.
I guess they tied it up before they got here because it might get into the water.
Usually, it was soft and long and would flutter in the wind but now it was put up like the hair of a noble princess.
“Ah……Yup. Sonia did it up……”
“It looks really good. You look like a princess.”
Cheryl, having been praised and put in a good mood, smiled innocently and blushed.
It’s good one could understand her mood without her saying anything. At that moment the moon in the sky seemed as bright as the sun.
I somewhat calmed down. As I thought, that child’s smile is worthy to be called a treasure.
“If you two stay like that you’ll catch a cold. How about you warm up first?”
After I calmed down a little I remembered that it was cold around the mountain top.
It can’t be helped, so that their bodies won’t cool off they entered the hot spring.
“Hot spring……My first time. Excited”
“Fumu, quickly settle down……Are you done?”
In contrast to Cheryl whose mood made a full recovery Sonia’s face was coloured in regret.
Both of them let their body sink into the hot water, letting out a long sigh. Umu, hot springs are a place of relaxation after all.
However, there’s no way that a woman like Sonia would whisper words of love to me.
……If this isn’t just a fleeting emotion I have to think about countermeasures.
There are many things I have to think about but right now it’s more important to thoroughly enjoy this bath.
Cheryl, whose voice sounded a little more lively than usual, and Sonia happily chatted with each other. And then there was me who talked a little slower than usual.
We who crossed fists just a while ago were now happily laughing together illuminated by this dim moonlight.
The first things I saw were Sonia’s lips painted in surprise after this breaking body pushed away the wind.
I poured magical power into my body exceeding its limit. As a result, it violently accelerated.
–With the first kick I got warped in wind.
Only leaving behind the exploding sound of this earth gouging kick I headed straight towards Sonia.
My continuously collapsing body screamed with pain subjected to this explosive movement.
However, as I’m under extreme concentration I miraculously felt this pain only delayed as well.
These screaming muscles and that speed are reminiscent of a disposable, rigid bow, though I basically never held a weapon in my hands.
–With the second kick I became one with the wind.
But for Sonia to be surprised towards the current … me.
It’s something along the lines of after witnessing this catastrophic speed even fast horses seem like slugs.
As I expected, Sonia formed a wind wall before herself. What a splendid reaction speed and magic construction speed. Regarding that fast reaction speed, I have yet to meet a martial artist who is superior to this girl.
Even the average martial artist who takes pride in their perception wouldn’t be able to grasp anything moving at this speed.
……Are even movements faster than the speed of sound not enough yet? If that’s the case, then I’ll move even faster.
–With the third kick I overtook the wind.
I kicked the ground some more to circumvent that obstructing wall.
It seems like Sonia lost sight of me this time, too.
Her reaction speed is like this because she doesn’t rely on her eyes. It certainly is a brilliant technique, but now that I’m even faster than the wind Sonia can no longer follow my movements using sound.
Like a raging flame burning off the distance I took Sonia’s back and clenched my first.
–With the fourth kick I pierced through the wind.
I held my clenched fist parallel to my waist in order to hit her.
This is like a cannonball loaded in a cannon. This blow is like a hammer able to destroy a wall if it hits even once.
That isn’t just a metaphor. If it hits, even metal walls will be smashed to pieces.
If the wind can’t approach me, sound can’t catch up with me either.
Still Sonia turned around towards me the next moment.
It’s probably because of her perception.
……It’s like a Grim Reaper’s scythe certain to take one’s life. The blade’s coldness near one’s neck ringing the last alarm bells.
However, at this distance it’s already impossible to avoid it.
If the defender originally had the power to repel the blow and had enough time to invoke magic then it still would be easy to escape.
Faced with this premonition of death Sonia is forced to concentrate to the limit, something resembling a readiness to accept her fate bound her well-shaped lips and distorted them.
Then my fist sunk into Sonia’s face–
I stopped just before that happened.
That stopped fist created a strong wind.
That penetrating wind blew off Sonia’s hood she put on — and gave the cracked mask the finishing blow.
It began to crumble and the mask which could no longer keep its shape fell to the ground.
That mask which fell onto the rocky ground gave of a particularly persistent, dry sound now reduced to nothing but fragments.
The wind settled down and Sonia with her regular face exposed muttered something in a shaken state.
Those firmly closed lips which seemed to accept death now loosened up and formed a perfect circle.
After her hair, which seemed like golden threads, settled down again after being dishevelled by the wind my fist created Sonia, as if all the power in her legs left her, fell on the ground.
“Tsutsu……That’s the end of, the match”
I clenched my fist two to three times to check my condition while frowning in pain.
──Stopping just before hitting. In a fight between fellow martial artists this marks the end.
Competing for one’s life isn’t unusual in martial artists who were made to compete against each other.
However, the purpose of a martial artist’s fight is to bring each other to new heights.
I also preferred a conclusion without blood getting spilled.
If this was a duel between people holding a long time grudge against each other than a conclusion without either of them dying isn’t possible.
However, we’re martial artists who are just interested in checking the opponent’s and one’s own strength.
I don’t hold a grudge against Sonia whom I met first on my journey to hone my skills. Rather I’m in her debt for accommodating us for one night and granting us a meal.
With this I think this smooth conclusion to this bout is fitting.
“……Haha, I lost”
Finally able to process the….Information before her, Sonia had a slightly relieved smile floating on her face.
However, I thought so the first time I saw her, but she really is a pretty girl. For such a girl to handle herself to such an extent… that’s why the world of martial arts is interesting.
“Can you stand? I’ll lend you a hand”
I offered my hand to Sonia who sunk down to the ground.
A match that ended without any grudges. Although a bit of thankfulness for this good match was mixed in–
Sonia stood up without taking my hand.
“You don’t have to push yourself. Although you look fine your whole body should be in acute pain, right?”
Her expression changed unconsciously into a girl’s slightly troubled smile to fit her words.
……Come to think of it, she saw through me. To be honest, there was so much pain shooting through my body I was about to raise a voice unbecoming of my age.
“Good grief, this technique is ridiculous in more than one way. Was that part of the “Shijima” style as well?”
“Yeah, my master and I devised this “Cherry Blossom Prototype”– a failed technique”
–The Cherry Blossom Prototype. It’s an incomplete technique my master and I once devised to oppose great strength.
As I mentioned before, it’s a body strengthening technique that grants one tremendous power by pouring magical power into one’s body far exceeding its limits.
If it’s just that, anyone can use that body strengthening technique without exception. However, it belongs to the Shijima techniques because no one other than us can use it.
If one pours magical power into one’s body its strength increases. But there’s a limit which differs from each individual and every ounce of magical power exceeding a person’s limit acts like poison to it.
First the muscles tear up, next the bones break before one’s inner organs rupture at last, to be exact.
Therefore there’s no person foolish enough to do something like exceed their magical power limit.
……That’s exactly what we of the Shijima style did.
Of course, if we exceed our limit within us the collapse of our physical body would start. Forcibly supressing that with healing magic– or rather, healing one’s body from the edge of collapse is what this “Cherry Blossom Prototype” is about.
That means one could strengthen one’s physical abilities though pouring magical power into one’s body exceeding one’s limit as much as one wants as long as healing magic can keep up with the body’s collapse.
If it was just that, than that would be a dreamlike technique but it’s not such an out-of-the-ordinary kind of technique. Its name would be different if that was true.
As I mentioned, this technique forcibly supresses the body’s collapse by only healing it at top speed immediately after it happens.
Actually, one is constantly tormented by pain if one moved while using this technique.
Calling that pain pure hell is only appropriate. Imagine your body continuously getting torn up, that would be the best analogy.
Incidentally, if the healing magic is too strong magical power would be wasted and the strengthening and consumption efficiency would be low and if it’s too weak the body’s collapse would start.
Because the difficulty to learn it and that intense pain, even though it’s a technique of the Shijima style only I and one more person– An excommunicated former student, were able to use the “Cherry Blossom Prototype”, no one else.
Even Master who invented and named the technique wasn’t able to endure that pain.
……Thus, while having an overwhelming effect it was deemed as a defective technique and would eternally stay a “Prototype”.
Even the technique’s name is connoted with it being a kamikaze technique.
Anyway, that’s it.
It’s been a long time since I last used it but the pain was more intense than I expected.
It took quite a bit of will power to pretend to be fine but Sonia saw right through that.
“You overdid it. Are all practitioners of the Shijima style like that?”
“No, they don’t hate losing to that extent”
While using healing magic on my body I tried to avoid Sonia’s astounded gaze.
……I clenched my fist a couple of times to check my condition. Umu, did you give me some leeway this time?
“Well then, is your body better now?”
“There’s no problem. I’m just exhausted from fighting a powerful foe for the first time in a while”
I gave Sonia a smile exposing my canine teeth.
She was a good fighter. It seems like my excited heart doesn’t quite cool down like white-hot iron.
Sonia watched me and held her breath for just an instant before she turned her back to me.
……Mu, could it be, did she think I was being sarcastic just now? That’s not what I meant, it’s really been a long time since I met a martial artist that could get me fired up.
I turned my head to correct my words.
At the same time Sonia turned towards me.
“Ah-……Ehm, when you have recovered, then. Some other time……”
A girl’s white as porcelain hand was held out in front of me in a way that I couldn’t believe it was used to fight such a fierce battle.
To that I softened my smile.
“It was a good match. If we get the chance, we should cross fists again”
“I agree. When that time comes I’ll be even stronger”
I wonder if she wasn’t used to that type of exchange because Sonia’s face adopted a light red colour similar to a kind of fruit.
Umu, that’s it. This refreshed feeling after having worked hard.
Wielding one’s fist was originally an act done to harm one’s opponent. But I felt like it helped create a new friendship today.
I’m sure this relationship with Sonia will continue after this. In human terms, she’s still young, young enough to still call her a girl.
I wonder how you’ll grow in the future. Will you be able to make me struggle? When thinking about that I can’t help but get excited.
“Well then, we should go down the mountain soon and go back to the village, shouldn’t we?”
“You’re right. Cheryl, we’re done. Come here”
Cheryl who watched the fight the whole time a distance away left that place while swinging her snow white long hair when she heard my voice and came over.
Cheryl who ran towards me at a speed one could call it dashing jumped at me from approximately 5 metors away.
I caught her without trying to dodge, hugged her and slightly spun her around.
“Oopsy Daisy……Sorry, were you bored?”
“No. But I wanna fight Sonia, too”
Like always, I put Cheryl down on the ground while receiving a hug with which she could pull out a huge tree.
You want to fight Sonia, huh? Certainly, Sonia wouldn’t lag behind Cheryl and for Cheryl this would be able to get some good experience in fighting martial artists other than me and Chester.
“Slow there, speaking of which, Cheryl-chan was also… a child, right? If you’re fine with me I can keep you company anytime.……Just not today”
Sonia didn’t seem to be against it.
I didn’t miss that curiosity of a martial artist sparkling in her eyes.
How did such a pretty girl grow up to be the same kind of fool as us?
Well, Cheryl would be like that as well, right? Despite being part Majin she has a very delicate appearance which didn’t seem strong at all.
“Well then– Let’s return and have a meal, shall we? You’ll stay here for a while, right?”
“Is that fine with you? I thought it would be better if we moved into the hotel as soon as there’s a free room, but”
“We went to so much pains to befriend each other so just let me do you a favour. Besides, there are some things I’d need your help with”
I started to talk but Sonia said such things as if it was a matter of course and we responded with a smile.
While exchanging words I laughed and started to walk in a straight line matching her pace.
Even though we just finished fighting an intense battle we were warped in a comfortable atmosphere.
Although I never regretted not having any long ranged attacks but this time I was made aware of the usefulness of them.
Techniques which didn’t belong to fist techniques– I avoided them, but in situations such as this, I’d like to also have techniques such as that.
While Sonia is warped in this soft breeze, I will reveal all my cards.
Sonia probably won’t make the first move with this.
If I were in her position, I definitely wouldn’t. If the technique is broken before it could hit then one wouldn’t see the need to counter.
If I was able to use long-ranged attacks I would be able to restrain her from outside but……asking for things I don’t have is useless, huh?
I have to somehow find a way to break that wind fortress.
“Fufu……What’s the matter? Not coming?”
Sonia’s lips curved into a beautiful smile as if she was able to read my thoughts.
Good grief, what a sadistic girl. Still, I couldn’t feel any malice from her — Is that what one would call innocence, is what I thought.
Cold sweat was gathering on my forehead. As I was in midst of this wind this coldness is probably real and not just a feeling.
If that’s the case I’d honestly want to move out of this wind but if I did that this would certainly give Sonia an opportunity.
That girl’s reaction speed is unusually sharp. If a troublesome person uses this bothersome technique I can’t lay a hand on them.
“Yes, as expected of Slava-kun. It’s good to be cautious.”
Immediate withdrawal is a bad plan. I didn’t move an inch so as to not give out any information, then Sonia calmly started to walk — as if this was an everyday occurrence.
Oh ****, I thought.
This distance of approximately two metors is certainly unpleasant for me who is primarily in the proximity.
Normally if Sonia approached me like this I’d be rather grateful.
But in this situation it was different.
This magic mystifies every attack which should have been straight forward.
To Sonia who was excellent in quick firing skills this space was like her backyard, it was easy for her to advance.
I couldn’t do anything but watch Sonia slowly approaching.
Eventually the distance of 2 metors shrunk to just one metor — if she extended her arm she would have been able to touch me
“Hey there, long time no see”
Then we were so close to each other that we could hear the softest whisper.
……How utterly sadistic.
The me who is a martial artist is screaming inside me to hit in my opponents face, even now. But if I obeyed that voice nothing but plain ruin would have been waiting for me.
“Oh my, you’re still not coming? — If that’s the case I’ll come at you without reservation”
However– Sonia who had an overwhelming advantage couldn’t turn away from this place either.
Sonia slowly raised her palm which seemed like nothing at first glance then she hit my cheek with it and shook it.
For arguments sake, it doesn’t really matter if I receive this blow at that point as it was aimed to cause pain rather than damage.
Still, that open-handed slap had so much power behind it that one couldn’t ignore it and try to receive it without guarding.
Thus, I defensively raised my hand and received the slap.
Is that what one would call the reflex of a martial artist who imprinted this into his very being after 100 years? Even though I know in my head that this was a bad move — I still chose to defend.
Usually this wouldn’t be such a bad move because in the Shijima style, which excels in countering, it would both serve as defence and attack at the same time, the best move one could make.
But this all changes when dealing with that girl.
At that moment I certainly heard for an instant.
“– I waited, you know?”
The whisper of an innocent spider waiting for its prey.
The hand which deployed this slap which should have contained great power was now fluttering –her other hand was also being idle overflowing with wind magic.
She seemed like beauty who got stood up. She cancelled her slap as if having lost interest, instead she hammered a palm strike warped in wind magic into my abdomen.
Wind power pierced into me from her palm strike to my abdomen.
The shock of that tornado exploding inside of me disturbed my internal organs.
That explosive magic power turns into a storm and throws me, who is as light as a child, up.
I somehow was able to rebuild my posture in mid-air while feeling nauseous from the shock which felt like I was directly hit by a blunt object different from the time before which felt like being swept away by the wind.
──However, Sonia already ran to the place where I estimated I would land.
Damnit, just when I thought she’s done with sending me off she’s already on her way to welcome me again, what devotion……!
This time it’s Sonia who is chasing me with clenched fists.
Her hidden magical power is high. It’s enough to strip one of one’s consciousness in one blow if it’s a clean hit.
As expected, while feeling the bitterness of being handicapped there’s no other way but prepare to receive one of the most powerful attacks which was ever approaching — But, as I thought, this blow mustn’t hit me.
For an instant I watched that stopped fist with round eyes, being cautious of the next attack.
Then I caught her right leg moving out of the edge of my sight.
I can’t afford to also defend against that. Although a large swing is certainly powerful but it also gives one the best chance to use countering techniques on it–
Therefore it is nothing to be shaken by, I reflexively assume a defensive posture before I again felt a wind palm heel strike piercing through my abdomen.
My body is attacked by strong nausea and this floating feeling again.
This one seemed weaker than the one before because she probably focused more on speed. While being exposed to the air pressure I felt even stronger nausea than before because I was hit on the same place again.
“Haa, haa……That’s some extremely evil magic”
“I’ll take that as a compliment”
Because of this continued display of unreasonableness I unintentionally cursed.
──Oh yeah, in battle, cursing is unmistakably seen as a compliment.
Sonia who wore a pleasant smile started to laugh.
Now that I experienced it on my body I can say, what dubious magic. Even though I say so myself, I had confidence in being able to read her attack, but I can’t understand it at all.
……Speaking of which, Sonia was doing something that feels like rock, paper, scissors since some time.
What’s more, it’s like when one doesn’t immediately show one’s hand after having said “Rock, paper, scissors” and calmly waits for the other party to show their hand first, extremely vicious.
To just wait and see and aim this simple yet powerful blow she had to predict if the other party was going to defend and resist it or dodge it, to do that — she must have somehow read the movements of my muscles and magical power of which I didn’t have any conscious control over and found a place to hit me. To Sonia, using her “Aroma Vibration”, my insides are like the back of her hand. She carefully looks at one’s movements, feels them as confirmation and responds to these pieces of information correctly later on.
It sounds easy if one puts it that way but it takes reaction speed far exceeding common sense and the imagination and hard training to grasp the situation by just feeling the wind.
But even considering that, this is foul play. Erasing the factor of being able to read the attacks from battle — Certainly, a successful feint, is, as one might expect, a feint that confuses the other party.
But because of that–
“……Amazing. To be able to laugh in a situation like this, truly”
I can’t help but laugh.
Well, it’s like, this world is rather vast, isn’t it? To unexpectedly meet such a powerful person right from the start. What a shame that I died before meeting her.
I can’t help but be happy that I got to meet her with this light body.
This can’t be anything but fun, more than anything.
“What, aren’t you the same? I see a smile forming under that mask”
“Fufun, I’m also a martial artist, after all. It’s my first time meeting someone as tough and fast as you. That tingling feeling that if I relax just for a moment I’ll be overtaken, it’s unbearable.”
It seems like Sonia is the same as me — We faced each other with a smile and let out a hearty laugh.
The one with the title of the strongest is a sinful guy for he attracts beautiful women just like Sonia.
But even such a pretty girl has such an unyielding attitude, martial artists are a lost cause after all.
“We think alike, don’t we? Absolutely not wanting to give up this match. Now, the talk’s over. Show me — What will Salva-kun do about this wind armour?”
Sonia’s body starts to shine faintly and a soft breeze wraps around my body.
Did the range of “Aroma vibration” get larger? Looks like she wants to decide the match with this.
……I absolutely don’t want to lose though. This thought isn’t uncommon in fighters.
Therefore it’s commonplace for such obstinate people to confront each other like this.
But only one can be the victor.
Certainly, I can’t deal with this magic through ordinary means. But I’m not that obedient to just give up because I’m told to.
–This magic called “Aroma Vibration” is excellent, except its use is limited to Sonia.
Grasping the things within range, breaking down the information with her exceptional reaction speed, calculating the weak point in the other party’s defence and attack.
Reading the other party’s attack isn’t necessary for Sonia to choose the most suitable attack.
If that’s the case then attacking from here would be nothing but a bad move. Compared to the defenceless exposure when choosing to counter the attack, if I launch an attack from here it just would give Sonia a chance to counter. Then, if I use feints — they would get seen through by Sonia as soon as I’m in range. It’s like I handed her all my cards, that’s how it seems.
Well then, I’m beaten.
What’s with this, isn’t this unbeatable?
Sealing of the reading of attacks from battle is just like a fairy tale and she dared to turn it into reality with this.
……Then there’s no way to attack, that can’t be.
I myself think this is stupid but I’m not entirely sure about this battle anymore — For the time being, I’ve got two plans I could use to break out of this situation.
However, I’m not exactly willing to carry out one of those.
If you’d ask me for a reason, it’s pretty hard to explain.
But if I had to answer it would be — I just don’t like this technique. That’s it.
To be honest, the plan I thought of is crafty as well as dirty.
What’s more, before Sonia who covered her face with a mask and takes pride in her abilities as a “Sky gazer” this technique is especially dirty.
To put it simply, one of the techniques is something like a “smoke screen”.
I’d let my magical power blow up instantly, creating a storm which would swallow Aroma Vibration’s winds resulting in cheating her magic perception with this enormous magic power. It’s a trick — that would enable me to bring her down in no time.
This technique, without using a spell, takes enormous amounts of magical power out of any common sense. But I’d be able to do it. With that, I’m confident I would be able to defeat Sonia in a single blow.
–Tricks are certainly part of this plan. Thus, faced with this, Sonia won’t be able to retaliate.
However, as I said before, I have no intentions of using it.
Achieving victory against such a great beauty through tricks? How meaningless.
Therefore, the last plan is–
“The Surging Wave stance? You’re plotting something, isn’t that right?”
Being fair and square. Simply that.
My other acceptable option is — preparing for an honourable defeat.
On one hand, this “plan” doesn’t seem like me but on the other hand, I was able to choose it because it’s me.
To Sonia’s excited voice, I twist my mouth into a smile.
I wanted to do it outside of Aroma Vibration’s range but it can’t be helped.
Seeing my smile Sonia chuckled a little, she heightened her concentration to clearly grasp the situation.
Judging by her stance she realised I would launch an attack.
And this exchange — will probably be the last as well.
I heightened my concentration and raised my magical power.
This other method I chose. Normally, this would be a bad plan, without a doubt.
In other words──
“……! What tremendous magical power……It’s the first time I’ve seen so much”
A sure-kill hit outside of her perception. The so-called — Bulldozer.
Like a dam which manipulates the flow of a stream, This Surging Waves technique with the power to swallow up everything is able to alter the terrain.
The me who always absorbed and manipulated my opponent’s power, longing for that power, devised this technique if you can even call it a technique.
──Anyone using the Shijima style is obliged to learn healing magic.
Only for that reason I’m also able to use healing magic.
If you enhance your body with magical power your strength will rise. However, like a paper balloon filling up, the body can’t endure infinite amounts of magical power and will start to collapse if it’s too much.
This technique pushes that limit and to prevent the body’s physical collapse through healing magic. It’s that simple of a technique.
“–Idiot, have you gone mad?……No, you can’t be sane. I thought otherwise, but it turns out you’re just a great fool”
That’s right, this technique is only something a fool would use.
The state of pushing one’s body beyond its limit and healing it again and again feels just like torture of continuously getting cut down.
Though I’m laughing like this right now but there’s actually sweat flowing down the side of my face.
My muscles are struck by a similar cutting pain. This process repeats again and again.
Well, though it’s been a long time since I last used it but it’s more painful than I expected it to be. If I don’t hurry up this might be bad.
“What’s, the matter, now? Us martial artists, are all great fools”
I clench my fist near my waist and show my will to attack.
Sonia didn’t say anything anymore. She just strengthened her senses awaiting this blow.
Silence fell over us.
For just an instant it seemed like the whole world grew silent, there was just a soft breeze — and a fire lit inside my body.