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.
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“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.
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“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.