“It looks like we will somehow make it in time…” (Souma)
I can’t say with certainty, but my guess is that they haven’t opened hostilities yet.
According to the Explorer Ring of Mitsuki, the king is still in the royal castle.
The moment the battle started, there should have been an event where the king would come out from the castle.
It is natural to assume the battle hasn’t begun yet if that hasn’t happened.
We have already run to the field close to the city.
Leaving aside whether we will make it in time when the battle begins, I doubt the battle will end by the time we have arrived.
We lower our pace a bit here.
We confirm our plan while our enemies are still not in sight yet.
While we were walking there, I confirmed the types of enemies.
For now, there hasn’t been an enemy I haven’t seen before within the monsters that apparently came from the west.
The level distribution is around 130-170, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any Butcher class enemy.
There’s apparently monsters that even Mitsuki can’t match at the interior of the west, so you could say the monsters overflowing from unreleased areas are from the outer part.
The problem is that the enemies of level 150 have a difference of heaven and earth compared to 100.
Honestly speaking, if level 150 class enemies were to just blitz us, a city would fall in an instant.
It somewhat goes above what the Knight Order could deal with.
I don’t know what kind of high level enemy is mixed in it, but if we don’t do our best, there will definitely be casualties.
“Let’s go with our original plan. Once the battle begins, we will get the back of the enemy, and draw the attention of the monsters. That alone can lower the pressure of the monsters, and that would be a lot easier for the city.” (Souma)
When I said this, Mitsuki bent her cat ears in worry.
“Monsters have the tendency to attack the closest enemy. It would mean that, if 3 people get their back, the back half of the enemies will be targeting us, you know?” (Mitsuki)
“I know that. That’s why we won’t be joining in until after the battle at the city begins.” (Souma)
I personally would want us to take on the whole army ourselves.
But that’s way too reckless.
“I will be forcing you two into a pretty rough battle thou—” (Souma)
I was about to finish that sentence, but Mitsuki cut me off.
“No, what I am worried about is you.” (Mitsuki)
I was confused by the unexpected words.
Mitsuki looked at me with a sharp gaze as she said this.
“Honestly speaking, monsters that are merely level 170 are not enemies of mine. It may take time to wipe them out, but I am certain that I won’t be dying.” (Mitsuki)
“If it is you…yeah, that might be true.” (Souma)
If we are just limiting it to our chances of survival, Mitsuki would definitely be number one within the NPCs of Nekomimi Neko.
On top of having outstanding evasion, she also has high resistance to magic and debuffs.
No matter what big army it is, there’s a sense of safety that she will be able to make it out somehow.
“I am worried about the defense of Ringo-san, but there’s no problem as long as she fights at a distance. There’s no long ranged attack that would surpass her Lightning Strike, so she won’t be losing in a long range battle.
Even if it turns into a hard fought battle, she has enough nimbleness to run away when it gets dangerous.” (Mitsuki)
“You have a point.” (Souma)
I do plan on having Ringo concentrate on doing long range attacks in this time’s battle.
Even if Maki has become the princess, there’s no knowing if she can shoot Lightning Strikes.
There’s the need for a person who can do anti-flying attacks, so there’s no need to force her into getting close to the battlefield.
In that case, she should be able to secure a certain degree of safety.
“That’s why the problem is you. Your strategies, your ability to strike at the weak points of others; I evaluate them highly. But this time around, there’s no preparation at all, and it is a horde of monsters you have no knowledge of… Can you…still fight with those conditions?” (Mitsuki)
The gaze of Mitsuki pierces me.
It is natural for her to tell me that.
I have fought opponents several times stronger than me a fair amount of times now, but rather than calling it my strength, it was more like my quick-wittedness and knowledge.
‘There’s barely any prior knowledge, and it might turn into a melee, so will you really be able to fight in this situation?’, that’s what Mitsuki is asking here.
But I can also feel strong expectations deep within her eyes.
Even when that’s what she is saying out loud, there’s no doubt Mitsuki is the one who evaluates my abilities the highest.
And I currently have the power to answer that trust.
We have a bit of time here.
Also, I want to test out just how much I can do in an actual fight.
“Then, I will prove it to you.” (Souma)
That’s why I declared this and pointed at the armored monster that could be seen far away.
Living Armor: Level 160.
A monster with high physical defense, and you could say it is a bad match against us warriors.
But you could also say that if I defeat that guy, it can serve as proof that I can defeat almost all the monsters in this invasion.
“I will defeat that Living Armor faster than you, Mitsuki. If I do, you will acknowledge me, right?” (Souma)
“I see. So you are challenging me to a speed battle. Fine, I accept.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki hasn’t shown that side of hers lately, but she likes competitions.
I knew she would accept this.
We line up and set our target.
I measure the distance to the enemy, and form an image of how I should defeat it and the flow of events until that happens.
“When we are like this, it feels like we are back to the past.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki suddenly said that.
She certainly did become a companion of ours after competing with each other.
“That said, please don’t use any weird tricks here like before, okay?” (Mitsuki)
I chuckled at that.
“Yeah, I know. I won’t do my petty tricks here. It is a true to the word battle of power.” (Souma)
If not, I can’t make Mitsuki acknowledge my strength and I wouldn’t feel good either.
That’s why I must achieve 2 things if I want to defeat that guy before Mitsuki.
First, reach that monster before Mitsuki, who is called the fastest one in Nekomimi Neko.
On top of that, defeat that sturdy monster in the short time Mitsuki catches up.
I take a deep breath before the battle.
My plan is set.
Now all that’s left is to put it to practice.
(Alright, I can do this!) (Souma)
After finishing all my…preparations, Ringo took the role of referee and…
She raised her hand with a cute shout and the match began.
The first step was exactly at the same time.
But Mitsuki’s movement speed is faster than that of Step.
However, Step has fast initial velocity, so the distance she creates isn’t too big in the first half of the skill.
I somehow keep up with Step and…
“[High Step]!” (Souma)
I line up to Mitsuki with High Step…
“[Ground Compression]!” (Souma)
And completely overtake Mitsuki with the last skill.
…But there’s no continuation to this.
Because Ground Compression is a high tier skill, you can’t cancel it with other attack or movement skills.
From here, I have to accept the skill stun or force a cancel with a Jump which has high cancel ability.
Whichever I choose, I will be losing important time and stamina, and I will be overtaken by Mitsuki as a result.
All fronts closed.
—Is what my past self would say.
But I can now make one more move.
Ground Compression can’t be canceled with other movement or attack skills.
However, you could say I can cancel it with other things aside from skills.
“[Air Hammer]!” (Souma)
Right before the skill stun happened, the spell Air Hammer…which I prepared beforehand, pushes my body forward.
My body accelerated further ahead after the Ground Compression ended.
I grinned at the sensation of cutting through wind.
This is the one other skill canceling method in Nekomimi Neko: KB (Knockback) Cancel.
If the skill cancel is what the developers created as the surface form of cancel, then KB Cancel is a hidden cancel method that exploits the systems of the game.
Knockback is a game term. It refers to knocking back your opponent.
The KB Cancel is as the name states; you rewrite the skill stun with a knockback. A drastic move created by Nekomimi Neko players.
I have said this before in the explanation of the Midare Sakura, but when you get hit with an attack that has knockback while casting normal skills that don’t have Super Armor, you will forcefully be staggered and your skill will be interrupted.
This KB Cancel is a technique that takes advantage of that.
The technique itself isn’t complicated at all.
When the skill ends, you purposely use a knockback spell to omit the stun. By the time the knockback ends, you will be able to use your next skill right away.
Because it allows you to chain skills really quickly, this technique is also called Rapid-Fire Tech, and it created enough of a shockwave amongst Nekomimi Neko players just like the Godstep Cancel.
It can’t cancel things like the Midare Sakura with special attack registrations, or the Absolute Katana Reversal which has Super Armor, but any other skill, you can cancel them with any timing you want.
With this, the freedom of battle in Nekomimi Neko increased by leaps and bounds.
The ones that are often used for this KB Cancel are Petitplosion and Air Hammer.
It is utilized with the assumption that you will be hitting yourself, so you lower the power with Magic Customization and increase the Chant efficiency.
Petitplosion’s power is low and the knockback is pretty low too.
If you manage to hit yourself right after the skill using Time Activation, you will be able to act again at a far faster pace than when you just wait out the skill stun.
You could say it is the most handy spell for KB Cancel.
Air Hammer is originally a spell that ‘Shoots out a cluster of wind in the set direction and launches the hit enemy in the designated direction’. You can’t even use it on yourself as it is.
However, by lowering the Range to the lowest output with the customization, it changes into a spell that ‘launches you in the direction you set’.
My guess here is that ‘what’s actually changing when you customize the range is the target location, so when you move it to the minimum, the body of the spellcaster will be closer to the spell’s departure point, and it is deemed as the spell targeting the caster’, but I don’t really get it that well.
Well, whichever the case, it is probably the usual coding mistake.
Using this has the opposite trait of when you are using Petitplosion on yourself.
Because of the movement distance from the knockback and the time, it is used for evasion and movement.
And right now…I am actually using the knockback of the Air Hammer to move and…
([Air Hammer]!) (Souma)
I bend and do the chant for Air Hammer once more.
This is an advantage the KB skill cancel has over the normal cancel.
There’s a clear difference between skill stun and the staggered state. Different from the skill stun where you can’t use skills or spells, you can chant spells while you are staggered by knockbacks.
One other plus is that, when you are knocked back, stamina recovers at the same speed as when you are in a normal state.
In other words, by mixing in a knockback in your skill combo, you can recover your stamina a bit.
And then, the moment the knockback ends and my feet touch the ground…
I once again activate the skill.
I chain [High Step], [Ground Compression], and add in [Air Hammer].
This way I am using the high tier skills, and because I don’t mix in Slash and Side Slash to cancel, it is faster than Godstep Cancel.
If I had more MP, I would use Ground Compression and Air Hammer directly, but that’s off the table right now.
However, even with this, I managed to pull some distance from Mitsuki.
At this rate, I might be able to get a preemptive strike on the Living Armor.
(It is a battle of strength from here on!) (Souma)
I should have been able to show off my speed to Mitsuki.
Now I show off my attack power.
And from there, I will prove to Mitsuki…and also myself, that I can fight!
With the enemy before my very eyes, I reserve the activation of the spell and…
I re-think as I make small adjustments to the distance.
It is true that I don’t have favored parameters or a broken normal attack like Ringo; I don’t have the cheat level speed or excel at swordsmanship like Mitsuki.
“[High Step]!” (Souma)
I have the proper strength of a game character.
Even if I don’t have anything special, I have raised my level, gathered strong weapons, and obtained easy to use skills and spells.
Even if I can’t trace the exact same battle style as when it was a game, I have obtained enough power to replicate about 80% of it.
“[Oboro Zangetsu] <Hazy Morning Moon>.” (Souma)
The Oboro Zangetsu I used just now is a mid-ranged attack skill of the Otachi that activates with a time lag.
A slash happens at a slightly further away location I swung from after a space of time.
Because of the time lag before the slash happens, it is hard to hit with it, and because there’s no damage registration in the first swing, you end up defenseless if the enemy approaches you, but it is a useful skill that makes up for its cons.
“[High Step]!” (Souma)
The skill’s animation is deemed as having ended at the first swing of the weapon, so you can cancel the skill before the actual slash happens and it will still occur.
I use [High Step] and [Jump] to buy time and space to match the activation of the Oboro Zangetsu’s slash and…
“[Side Slash]!” (Souma)
By using a different skill, it is possible to use two attack skills at the same time.
Just that there’s not much benefit in doing simultaneous attacks.
However, there’s always exceptions to everything…
“[Power Up]!” (Souma)
I do a Time Activation of Power Up while I was staggered, and my body shines red.
This is the reason I aimed for a simultaneous attack.
The effect of a normal Power Up is to increase your Strength by 1.3 times for 30 seconds.
But with the Magic Customization, I lowered the spell’s Duration to the very limit, and even increased the MP cost to the max.
The result is a spell with this effect: Increase your Strength by 9.9 times for 0.5 seconds.
The highest and lowest you can set something in Nekomimi Neko is 9.9 – 0.1.
In other words, this spell can perform the highest power up that the system allows in a brief period of time.
The price is that it is only half a second though.
However, all of the attacks in that frame of time become killing blows!
“With this…!!” (Souma)
As I shout this, two skills -an horizontal and a vertical slash- hit the armor at the same time.
I can feel the hard sensation in my arms.
But I can push it with the Power Up.
I won’t do something so bothersome like aiming for the weak point!
I will push through you like that!!
(I got through!) (Souma)
My arms finish the swing with a peculiar sensation.
The armor was cut open, and the vertical slash of the Oboro Zangetsu and the horizontal slash of the Side Slash overlapped cleanly, and drew a cross.
(How’s that?!) (Souma)
I look up while still in my swung stance.
Even if it is a level 160 monster, it couldn’t stay alive from its body being sliced in 4.
The Living Armor became light particles and melted into the sky without even being able to fight back.
I let my body be taken over by the skill stun that comes after ending a skill, and exhaled what was accumulated in me.
A sense of accomplishment slowly surged in me.
With this, I win this match.
But I feel like I obtained something worth even more than that.
I haven’t properly fought until now.
I would rely on tricks, would deceive others with words, and would defeat enemies with quick-wittedness rather than strength.
Because of that, I was even given the nickname Strange Sword User.
“I guess it is time for the Strange Sword Style to cease business…” (Souma)
I can now say with confidence.
“…I am already strong in a proper battle too!!” (Souma)
When I let myself be driven by the overflowing sense of accomplishment and proclaimed this loudly…
I heard a voice of surprise from behind me.
What’s with that flustered voice just now that was as if saying ‘I don’t think that’.
I turned back and asked Mitsuki who had caught up…
“Uhm, I was the normal type of strong there just now, right? Even without using tricks or the Strange Sword, I managed to fight normally, right?” (Souma)
“…Eh? Ah, yeah, you are right. It was the no…norm…normal…the normal you!” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki answered with her cat ears all flustered.
I looked at her dubiously and she averted her gaze.
Her cat ears are covering themselves full force as if saying ‘don’t look over here!’.
(Wa? Why that reaction?) (Souma)
Mitsuki’s usual iron face was gone, and she was visibly acting weirdly here.
I didn’t understand the reason why and was confused here.
“…Souma…you are…misunderstanding.” (Ringo)
A blue haired girl slowly approached us.
Ringo really is my goddess.
She gently wrapped my hands that were stiffened up from putting strength to them in my excitement, and is healing my agitated emotions.
And then, the goddess looked up at me and said this as if admonishing me.
“Normal and weirdo mean 2 different things, you know?” (Ringo)
…God is dead.
(Does my fighting style really look weird when seen from a 3rd person’s perspective?) (Souma)
A new worry was born as I was reminded of the shortcomings of VR gaming which are always in 1st person view.
And so, the 1st act before the decisive battle closed its curtains.
Technique Introduction: Oboro Cross Slash.
One of the special techniques of Souma in his gaming days.
Shoot out an Oboro Zangetsu from afar, get close with High Step to match the distance and time, mix in a Jump for further adjustments in the timing, and by using Side Slash, you deal a cross shaped attack.
The damage calculation of the Oboro Zangetsu is done when the slash happens, so it has the benefit that both Oboro Zangetsu and Side Slash can make use of the modified Power Up.
The name of the technique is written as Oboro Cross Slash but read as Invisible Cross.
He would definitely end up writhing in shame a few years after because of that name.
The chuunibyou days of Souma are still ongoing…!!