I wonder if it is because I threw away my hesitation.
Even though I am going to be having a battle that might kill me, I could feel my head cooling down steadily.
I bring out all the potions I could from the pouch, and throw that to the fallen Raiden by the side of the Butcher.
I don’t have confidence in my throwing accuracy, but fortunately, most of the potions hit Raiden, and it spreads the healing effect.
I used all my healing potions there, but those were the remaining ones I had when I went with Ina to the Cave of Trials and, in the end, they are potions from Lamurick.
It has no function of waking him up from his unconscious state, and I can’t expect much from its HP healing, but with this, I doubt he will be dying.
I finish up one pressing matter, and observe the King Butcher who can’t move from the Lightning Strikes.
(This…won’t hold for long.) (Souma)
In my first play, I have thought about the best strategy against the Butcher for leveling up.
At that time, we had our new mage companion put up a smokescreen with magic to stop its movements, and attack it in that opening.
But that plan crumbled oh so easily.
I won’t hold such a naive thought like we will be able to push it through just as we are now.
“Ringo, that guy will probably crouch eventually and ignore the attacks. When that happens, please move behind me in a straight line from him.” (Souma)
I tell this to Ringo who is restraining the Butcher with unending Lightning Strikes.
She didn’t use it on any living creatures aside from Goldens, so I couldn’t tell, but Lightning Strikes might have a stun or a knockback effect.
The Lightning Strikes were showing unexpected effectiveness, and we are currently keeping the Butcher in place completely, but it is clear that this is just a temporary measure.
When the other party tries to escape the Butcher, or gets attacked for a long period of time, it will try to do a charge.
When he does the preliminary motions for the charge, it will enter a Super Armor state, in other words, no attack will flinch it or interrupt him.
And then, when the preliminary motions end, that heavy body will come assailing us at unimaginable speed.
…And that moment will be our biggest window of victory.
Attacking without flinching or being interrupted means that it is easy to read the timing.
That’s why I will wait for the attack of the Butcher here, and with the 10th Skill of the Otachi, Absolute Katana Reversal, I will defeat him.
(I can do it…right?) (Souma)
I ask myself that.
The Otachi has a lot of skills with astounding damage, and as long as it hits, you could defeat an enemy that’s beyond your mettle. However, because of this, there’s a lot of them that have conditions.
The 10th Skill, Absolute Katana Reversal, is within those cases, and it competes for the 1st place within the Otachi counter skills for its overwhelming attack power, but it holds a heavy risk on use.
Since it is a counter skill, it of course will counter an attack that you get when you activate the skill, but it just ain’t that simple.
The preliminary motion of this skill is outrageously long. First, 2 seconds before you can do a counter, 3 seconds when the counter is activated successfully, and if it doesn’t activate, you won’t be able to move for around 2 seconds.
Moreover, you are in Super Armor state at that time, so knockbacks are nullified.
On top of that, no other action of the player can be registered at this time, so you can’t use skills or spells in that time frame, and it is impossible to cancel no matter what methods you use.
Super Armor sounds cool and all, but if you flip it around, in exchange for not being interrupted, no matter how strong the attack you receive, you won’t be sent flying back, so you can’t take distance.
If you use this skill while you are surrounded by strong enemies, the counter might activate, but the player will no doubt die.
The next problem is that the counter time frame is really rough.
Even though the preliminary motion is 2 seconds, the counter window is only 0.3 seconds.
In order to successfully do a counter, you have to detect the attack of the enemy 2 seconds beforehand, and then, make sure you receive an attack between the 2 seconds and 2.3 seconds after.
Moreover, the attack you receive in that time won’t be mitigated at all.
Even if you try to counter an attack that kills you outright, you will simply die.
This is a clear minus when fighting an enemy like the King Butcher that has high attack power.
And the last one.
Even when you clear all the conditions and counter, that doesn’t assure you from defeating the enemy.
The attack you will be countering with is…a vertical slash of the same element as the attack the user received.
For example; if you receive a fire element attack from a fire element monster, when you counter, you will counter with a fire element attack.
There’s no knowing if the attack will work against it. In the first place, your counter isn’t an AOE or in the direction you receive the attack, but a vertical slash to the front.
There’s the risk of the opponent avoiding it or attacking in a completely wrong direction from the very beginning.
As expected of a skill from Nekomimi Neko. So many buts in between.
However, this skill has the power to consider it worth using despite all of these risks.
Also, if you cut the Butcher with a vertical slash using the long range of an Otachi, that attack will hit the head which is its weak point.
There’s no skill other than this to defeat the Butcher.
(That’s why, all that’s left is whether I can get the timing right or not.) (Souma)
My skill and the Butcher’s charge are the same in that you can’t avoid or cancel it once you begin the motions.
Once the Butcher begins its charge, it has no way of avoiding my counter.
However, the Butcher’s charge is fast.
If I want to match the counter there, I will have to make 1 second adjustments.
It may sound easy, but 1 second is a short time that would pass the moment you think ‘Now!’.
Also, depending on my condition, there will definitely be a 0.1 second deviation even if I were to do the same motion.
Thinking about it normally, you could say such micro management of time would be impossible.
(But I can do it. I should be able to.) (Souma)
I have been repeating the process of animation canceling in windows that are less than 0.1 seconds for thousands to millions of times.
I have devised complicated and original combos with the Time Activation spells and skills, and have succeeded in performing them.
My time management when I am concentrated is already polished to the level where it could be considered a special skill.
…Even if others can’t do it, me -Sagara Souma- a severe Nekomimi Neko player, who has spent most of his college days in this game, should be able to do it.
That’s why, in this faint moment…
I will forget that this world is reality.
Right now, I am looking at a virtual world in that big and obnoxious VR machine.
What exists in this world is me and the game data.
The scene in front of me is all a bunch of numbers, therefore, there’s nothing that can’t be calculated.
I have to believe that.
I eye measure the distance with my head that has cooled down to a chilling extent.
I obviously don’t remember how long it takes for the preliminary motions of the charge.
That’s why, when the Butcher begins its charge, I calculate how long it takes for it to reach here.
(3…no, 4 seconds…or more…?) (Souma)
I once again replay the scene burned in my mind; the time when the Butcher charged at my companions and minced them.
That speed, the distance, the time it took to reach us…
I try to dig out all the information from my fragmented memory.
4.1 seconds since the start of the Butcher…no, since the moment it would take for me to recognize that the Butcher will start.
That’s my answer.
I will gamble my own life…no, the fate of everyone on this timing.
The moment I decided on the timing of the attack, the King Butcher began its preliminary motions for the charge as if it had been waiting for that.
Ringo moved behind me at the same time as I shouted this as if already prepared.
Even in the case the Butcher targets Ringo, it will definitely crash onto me first.
The Butcher finished the preliminary motions, and the moment it starts will signal the beginning.
I concentrated on the Butcher, who had turned smaller as if charging up its strength, in order to not miss ‘that moment’.
Concentration creates a pseudo acceleration in thoughts, and can lengthen 1 second infinitely.
There’s practically no change in the movements of the Butcher.
However, I feel like I can see how his body is accumulating the power like a spring, and how it will fly off at any moment.
And then, that time finally came.
An explosion happens behind the Butcher!
No, it was sudden acceleration that would make you think that.
However, I have not let the timing escape.
The moment I saw the start of the Butcher, I also began the Order.
(2 seconds of preliminary motion, so…here!) (Souma)
2 seconds passed, and I utilized my trump card, which is the Absolute Katana Reversal.
At this point, there’s nothing I can do anymore.
All that’s left now is to pray the activated attack will be hitting the Butcher.
Slowly, my body traces the preliminary motions of the skill.
The Butcher is approaching.
How was the timing?
…The answer came soon.
(It begins!) (Souma)
2 seconds passed in the time when the Butcher still hadn’t reached the range of the Otachi.
The distance between me and the Butcher is so vast, to the point it made me uneasy.
Obviously, it is impossible for the attack of the Butcher to hit me within 0.3 seconds.
…But that’s how it should be.
Even if the attack of the Butcher doesn’t reach me, the moment my brain recognized the beginning of the counter registration time, my vision was already covered by an explosion.
—Fire spell: [Petitplosion].
This is my trump card that I finished the chant of and have left in standby this whole time before the escape.
The explosion of this spell that I set the Time Activation for 4.1 seconds ago will damage anyone that’s within its AOE, regardless if it is friendly or not.
In other words, I am no exception.
The explosion attacked me, but it didn’t do much damage.
A spell of mine who has low magic power isn’t that big of a deal, and the damage multiplier itself of Petitplosion isn’t that high.
But, on the other hand…
My body that has registered the fire element attack of Petitplosion automatically enters into counter motion!
This is my true trump card.
If I were to do the counter after I have received the attack of the Butcher, I wouldn’t make it in time at all.
That’s why I attack myself and activate the counter at the perfect timing.
It is technically a self-activated counter.
A fighting style that pure fantasy residents wouldn’t even begin to imagine…the gamer fighting style!
Both of my hands holding Shiranui raise naturally.
At that moment, the blade of my sword transformed into a long fire tongue.
As if striking everything along with my fears, the flame blade was swung down the moment the white giant entered the range of the Otachi.
And it hits the head of the white giant directly as if it gravitated towards it.
What erupted was an ear-piercing scream.
The feedback from my hands, the sensation of having broken something…
(I did it!) (Souma)
The giant couldn’t take this one attack either.
The weak point, which is its head, was hit directly, making its giant body fumble, dropping its cleaver, falling on its knees, and…
The giant roared once again.
However, it wasn’t from pain but pure rage.
The one the giant glared at with its cruelly smashed face was…
(…This is bad!) (Souma)
The hatred of the giant pierced through my body.
Even if the damage was high, the King Butcher has still not lost its fighting spirit.
He soon grabbed back the cleaver he dropped and raised it.
(This is bad bad bad bad bad!) (Souma)
I can’t move because of the skill stun.
I can’t cancel this stun.
I won’t be able to avoid this attack!
(Move! Move move move!) (Souma)
My heart was screaming at my body not moving as it wishes to.
The skill stun isn’t ending.
My body isn’t moving!
(Damn it! [Ground Compression]! [High Step]! [Step]! [Jump]!) (Souma)
Even when knowing it was pointless, I continued shouting out the skills.
But my body didn’t react.
The cleaver so big it is like a blunt weapon closed onto both of my eyes.
The Lightning Strike poured onto the Butcher as if screaming, diverting the attack slightly.
Even so, it didn’t manage to stop the attack.
The attack was diverted slightly, but I watched how it was heading towards my body in slow motion…
([Ground Compression]! [Ground Compression][Ground Compression][Ground Compression][Ground Compression]—) (Souma)
And then, that time suddenly announced its end.
My breath stops.
An impact on my chest that couldn’t be processed by my head.
My thoughts were bleached white from the attack.
Even so, my gaze was reflexively directed towards the impact in my chest.
It was an unbelievable sight.
The giant cleaver sunk into the armor and easily destroyed it.
The giant weapon didn’t stop at that.
I clearly envision my end.
As if proving me correct here, the deadly weapon that destroyed my armor will tear apart my body next…
(Aah, I am dea—) (Souma)
My strangely stretched vision was cut off there.
A scream came out from my mouth.
My vision spins.
And then, a sound and impact.
I don’t understand what happened.
I can see the sky, I can see the ground, see the sky again…I don’t even know where I am anymore.
Pain ran through my whole body.
I don’t feel Shiranui which was supposed to be held in my hands.
However, I was overwhelmed by something that was assailing me, and by the time I noticed, the ground and the sky took half and half of my vision and spread before me.
A groan escapes from my mouth.
My whole body hurts.
The sensation of scorching fire comes from my chest.
I honestly don’t want to confirm what’s going on.
Just that…I am alive.
And from the sight in front of me, I can tell that I have fallen sideways on the ground.
I barely understood here that, the moment I was prepared for death, the skill stun was undone and I was sent flying.
The sense of defeat looms over me.
I did my all.
I used all of my experience and knowledge, won a dangerous gamble, and landed the hit.
But even with that…
The absolute wall that is stats couldn’t be overcome.
Even with the Otachi and skill modifiers, I couldn’t fill up the difference between us two.
And at the same time, I understood…
I will die.
Not accomplishing anything in this world, unable to return to my original world, killed in these plains by a monster and disappearing into light particles.
I am beginning to somewhat feel like that’s fine too.
My body isn’t moving an inch anymore.
I can’t even tell if there’s pain or not anymore, but my whole body is burning, and all of my sensations are growing distant already.
If I close my eyes here, I feel like I can attain peace.
If I had to speak out one regret, it would be…
As that voice rang, my last regret came running towards me.
Seeing that, I was relieved from the bottom of my heart.
I desperately move my lips as if saying it is its last job…
Did my voice properly come out?
I can’t tell.
However, for some strange reason, I feel like it was transmitted to her.
There was no response.
No, she responded to me with action.
The golden ninja sword was thrown away in front of me.
What was dropped there was her weapon: the Golden Sakura.
This is…her answer.
Dropping her weapon.
It means she is willing to run away.
(That’s…a relief…) (Souma)
A part of my heart was saddened by this, but I was covered by a big veil of relief.
With this, I have no regrets anymore.
Now, all that’s left is to pray Ringo will manage to run away while the Butcher turns me into a corpse.
That’s what I thought.
(What…are you doing?) (Souma)
Even though she should have already thrown away her weapon, I saw her putting a hand on her own waist.
That should be the one other weapon that’s several times weaker than the Golden Sakura, the Heat Knife.
She held the Heat Knife, but there’s no point in that.
The element of the weapon is not counted in the Lightning Strike.
Even though she should know that…
But I was the one who didn’t get it.
I am the one who didn’t get anything at all.
“…I won’t let you. Definitely not.” (Ringo)
I watch how Ringo strings up those words with indescribable emotions.
And then, with knife in hand, she ran towards the Butcher without hesitation, and the foolish me finally understood.
Even if Lightning Strike doesn’t get the element added, if she attacks directly with the knife, the element will obviously be counted.
She threw away her strongest point that is the Lightning Strikes and plans on fighting blade to blade against the Butcher with a single knife.
To protect me.
To save someone like me.
But that’s beyond reckless.
She has no experience in close combat, and all her stats are below that of the King Butcher.
That can’t be called reckless anymore.
That’s just suicide.
I tried to stop her…
Tried to tell her to stop the foolishness…
I whipped my unmoving body and forcefully stretched out my hand.
…But that hand grabbed nothing.
(Reach… Reach…!) (Souma)
I stretch my hand.
I try to.
But my hand isn’t moving as I want.
I tried to scream to not go.
But my voice isn’t coming out.
(Reach… Reach…) (Souma)
There’s no hesitation at all in those steps.
She will soon be arriving in front of that giant.
When that happens, that’s the end. She will easily die then.
I can’t let that happen.
That alone must be avoided!
(Reach! Reach, reach…REACH!!) (Souma)
I desperately squeeze out my voice and try to stretch out my hand.
My tired out body couldn’t move and my voice couldn’t even manage a shout anymore.
But, at that moment…
(…It reached!) (Souma)
That hand…touched the golden handle.