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”
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–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”
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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.