Interlude 2 – Roses’ Thorns

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Author: Sasaki Ichiro Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mado English Source: MadoSpicy TL
Editor(s): Crash

The Amitia Republic Capital, Alra. At a plateau on the foot of the White Dragon Mountain Range, which stands on the back of this city, two shadows repeatedly engaged each other as if they were dancing.

On one side was a lionkin tribe member who had a magnificent body like a rock, stood over 2 meters tall, and was wearing a dark blue robe. His hair and beard had become white like snow. His solemn face carved with numerous wrinkles told of his aging, but the decline that was said to accompany old age was nowhere to be seen. It instead further accented his dignity.

On the other side was a girl who looked to be about 12-13 years old and was wearing a black dress arranged with a red rose corsage. Her jet black hair, scarlet eyes, and white skin were like an object d’art. Just by standing, she cast a brilliant brightness and would attract the gazes of those around her. A girl whose beauty could even be considered dreadful.

That girl held a thin, long sword, which was decorated with rose flowers, in one of her hands as she faced the old lion.

Looking at it as an outsider, it would seem to be nothing but a reckless confrontation. A girl with a 60cm difference in height and a weight of less than one-third of the lionkin was facing him down, and in addition, he appeared to be a veteran.

―She will be instantly broken―Yes, everyone would probably think so.

However, contrary to that prediction, they were fighting on equal ground―No, it actually looked one-sided with the girl pushing him back.

◆◇◆◇

How did it turn out like this? It all started from a casual conversation:
‘Come to think of it, I didn’t see it since I was unconscious, but by what means did you use to corner Animaru that far?’
‘Even if you ask me how, I just fought him normally. If you like, how about we try having a match, little lady?’
‘Oh, that’s excellent. Then let’s try it.’

I shouldn’t have started this duel in such a carefree mood. (Thus, we ended up fighting in a place without public notice, where we could fight each other without holding back.)

Even though I was attacking him from all angles while using hit and run tactics, it was as if he had eyes all over his body. Every attack was dodged, and he repelled my double edged sword ‘Gilles de Rais’ by accurately changing the vector of the fuller. Furthermore, he even responded with counter attacks.

With just the slightest opportunity, my leg or arm would be caught, and then I would be thrown away.

It’s the Beast King’s battle style where not even a moment of negligence was allowed.

Since this match started, I have no idea how many times I have been thrown away, fixed my posture in the air, made some distance between us by putting strength in my steps as soon as my feet touched the ground. I addressed him with a tone that threw even myself off.

“I’m almost using my full equipment and buffs, and it’s only just getting me this far? I’m not making light of you though. As expected of the one who overpowered Animaru.”

“That is my line. It’s like fighting against a crossbow coming from four directions. Furthermore, little lady’s body is so light, even my throw had no power at all. To make matters worse, you nearly never lose your concentration, there are no gaps at all. Compared to the likes of that idiot, you are significantly more difficult.”

The Beast King shrugged his shoulders giving an ‘Oh dear’ impression.

“Well, from those circumstances it was probably his affinity. Animaru was mainly used to close combat, so we crashed against each other, also the difference of experience and pride, insufficient application, and being unable to interact against his unknown skills, those were my reasons for defeat, I guess?”

I tried to guess the main reason I was defeated by Animaru from the course of the battle with the Beast King up until now.

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Toward that, the Beast King made a smile like a teacher who heard an answer from a student with good judgment.

“Understanding so much from just this little is quite considerable―How about it, little lady, would you formally be my pupil after this match? Well, I’m the one who has to lower my head and make the request though.”

“Hm~mm~, honestly, things like wanting to be stronger are not very interesting to me…”

Power and the like are all relative anyway. Looking at them, the summit of each one is endless. Presently, my abilities are far more than enough to continue living on in this world.

Perhaps my thoughts showed on my face because the Beast King nodded with a satisfied expression reserved for good students.

“That’s right. Desperately wanting power is for those without it. For the genuinely powerful, that desire is something irrelevant. Little lady’s choice is correct… Even so, before my eyes there is an unrefined gem, there’s no way I can be patient.”

I see―Well, it looks like Lubbock really became the enemy. More or less, I might need to put up a great amount of effort so I can oppose him.

At the same time, the faces of Maroudo, Joey, and the still unseen Beast King successor, who still had a lot of room for growth (Well, perhaps Joey was not), floated in my mind.

“Then, after I tidy up the Cres Kingdom matter, how about you become, not my individual coach, but the Imperial Crimson martial arts instructor? There are some people who want someone else to teach them.”

“Very well, I accept those terms. Ah, about the Cres Kingdom matter, whether it succeeds or fails, it’s already out of my control. Either way, I accept that role. At least, will I receive payment?”

“Whether it be a palace, a harem, or gold and silver coins, I will give you whatever you like.”

“Those things will be just a hindrance for me at this age. Well, at least three delicious meals a day and good sake are enough for me.”

Hearing his words reminded me of the sleeping lion that was kept inside a cage at the zoo.

“… Won’t your fangs and nails start to rust from that?”

“I am not tempered to be such a weakling.”

“Then, whether or not that will become the reality, isn’t it now time to reveal your trump card as well…?”

The Beast King, with a ferocious smile, accepted my provocation and made the first move for the first time. Leaping into a mid level punch.

If I had to say something of the speed, it was fast, but it was not something that couldn’t be dealt with―Or perhaps, in the eyes of a vampire princess (mine), it was seen in slow motion.

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I maintained my composure and dodged it―suddenly I swayed. His fist changed trajectory like it was missing a frame. His punch that awaited me where I dodged to hit me in my side.

“―HA!”

Furthermore, an unknown shock pierced my body, and a single blow drove my body away a number of meters.

Rumble-rumble! I was falling over a bush. Somehow I managed to stand up, but―the damage isn’t gone―my feet are trembling.

I checked my status window in a hurry. Even now my HP is slowly decreasing. There is no status ailment, so he didn’t use poison… in that case, it’s the piercing damage over time effect?

The condition to receive this status effect is when bullets or arrows remain in the body, but there was no sign of such things. So that means, including the last attack, that’s the so-called Beast King’s trump card?

“―How is it? Your impression of receiving an attack using [internal force].”

“Interesting. As expected, accumulated skill can’t be looked down on.”

Yeah, there is probably value just by studying it.

“There are also a number of other practical uses. I wonder if you would receive it a bit more for future knowledge.”

“Eeeh, I don’t want to, it hurts. Besides―”

“Hmm?”

“… Receiving it just once, I already know the main principle and how to deal with it.”

Perhaps it was hard to judge the authenticity of my words since the Beast King partly closed his eyes.

“Hou, how will you deal with it?”

“Ummm, first of all… Rose’s Thorn.”

After reciting the keywords, rose ivy crawled along the surface of my left hand’s equipment, the ‘Steel Rose’, and separated. It spread in a circle with me at the center.

“―Fumu.”

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It detects the Beast King’s toe which is a step forward inside the circle. It sprang up like a living thing.

“Aah, there is poison in that thorn so you better be careful.”

The Beast King frowned upon hearing my warning.

“Don’t tell me that you think everything will be alright if you put some distance between us?”

“……”

I am not answering―No, perhaps I can’t answer him now.

The Beast King lightly shrugged his shoulders with a disappointed face―fake movements. He simultaneously threw five iron-like claw weapons with scattered trajectories.

Detecting them, the ivy wall quickly sprang up and repelled them.

However, the Beast King took advantage of the gap when the field of vision closed for a moment and jumped from the front where the density had thinned.

Assaulting him, countless ivy vines became a storm of whips rushing at him, but they couldn’t deal with the Beast King’s movements mixed with his feints. Everything struck air.

“It’s the end.”

The Beast King’s right fist was about to pierce the pit of my stomach―except, the exact moment he touched a layer of my skin,

“―What!”

The Beast King caught his breath. My body, that should have been hit by his fist, vanished in an instant, and he saw that I stood on the top of his extended arm.

Simultaneously, in that very position, my toes struck at the Beast King’s chin.

However, just slightly before that attack reached him, the Beast King brushed me off as he retreated. Then, together with his yell, he released a thrust.

Towards the destination I quickly dodged to, once again, his fist moved like there were missing frames, but they were punching―empty air.

“!?” Taking advantage of that moment of surprise, from the posture of spreading my legs out horizontally that almost reached the ground, I used nothing but both of my ankles’ spring power to mow him down with a blow from below like I was scooping upwards.

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The Beast King, who barely had his stomach robe ripped straight up, put some distance between us and gave a sigh of admiration.

“I thought it was a bluff, but surely that was coping with my technique. How did you do it?”

“Nn… well, it’s splendidly heavy work.”

I disclosed my secret while knitting my eyebrows from the pain in my head.

“Its parallel thought.”

“Hou, the thing used by the nine blade user knight who was little lady’s comrade?”

“It’s just an imitation. I was taught the trick by Lubbock before, but it takes several seconds of preparation to use it, and even if I use it, I can do it just barely for several minutes.”

Therefore, it’s not really intended for real combat, and right now, I know that I can’t deal with him if I don’t use it.

“―Also, the ‘[internal force] attack’ just then. That was no trick in moments of impact, but a technique of driving a ‘heavy’ attack in super close intervals.”

The Beast King was grinning with his face saying ‘Exposed huh?’

“Therefore, there was a slight lag, so I countered using that lag. And then that brilliant move seems to foresee my movements and copes with it using minimum movement by eliminating futile ones, so it moves in a different direction from what was originally intended.”

After I said so, the Beast King now definitely possessed a broad smile.

“With merely a hit you could see through it to that extent! What great talent!”

“Well, I wonder about that…? I am different from someone like Lubbock, who is a natural genius. In my situation, even giving it all my effort only gave me this degree of success.”

I feel that I’m just the jack of all trades and master of none.

“Heh, the likes of a genius won’t be interesting nor have any teaching effect… Apart from that, what will you do? Still want to continue?”

“No, let’s end it. More than this, my head is going to burst, you see. The sequel is going to happen after I return from Cres Kingdom.”

I put ‘Gilles de Rais’ and the others back into my inventory.

And then suddenly something came to my mind, so I tried to ask the Beast King about it.

“Does that ‘successor’ have about the same strength too?”

With that question, “Hrmm,” responds the Beast King as he deepens the wrinkles around the forehead of his grim face.

“There are future prospects. But well, at his current stage, even if fighting normally… with the little lady as the opponent… mmn, he might be able to keep up for about 2 minutes. I guess I can sum him up like that.”

“Hmm~mm. Then, if you are unsure, I’d be happy to help. Like if he could hold up against me for 3 minutes, it should be more or less enough to recognize him.”

The Beast King seriously nodded toward the words I jokingly said.

“Yes, surely even I won’t recognize that kind of weakling as a successor. You can hurt him as much as you like.”

My, a lion pushing its own child off into a bottomless valley really does happen.

“Well, I prefer to settle it with peaceful discussion as much as possible though.”

That said, my target is from the beast tribe that follows the law of the jungle. Even if I think about it, a discussion would probably be hard. I shrugged my shoulders imagining it.



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