My intention was to lop off her head, but it ended up with just slicing off both of her arms because she let go of her sword by reflex and avoided.
Girista managed to escape from the bad footing spot now that she had let go of her weapon and was light.
“Oh my, oh my, you’ve got me. I guess I have to be grateful I at least have my head attached.” (Girista)
“Looks like you still have leisure. However, you can’t hold a weapon with the state of your arms. Or could it be that you have a way to regenerate your arms like Ekdoik does with his chains?” (Ilias)
“I can treat my arms, but it takes time and I need to wash the fallen arms. But that would be difficult here.” (Girista)
I can tell how high level Girista’s healing magic is just by seeing how there’s not a single drop of blood falling and her wound being closed already.
“I can stick it back, but I can’t touch the sword anymore. I am fine with this being my defeat. I will be struggling if you tell me you want my life though.” (Girista)
Her fighting spirit certainly is gone now. Should I finish her off? But Pashuro is finally beginning to get serious.
Girista specializes in defense to begin with. Even without her arms, it should be safe to assume that she can buy time even without her arms. My time being wasted here would lead to risking the life of Wolfie. Fortunately, Rakura has gone to protect him. In that case, it should be possible to react even if they were to pull any tricks.
“Do as you please if you want to run away. If you do anything weird, I will finish you off immediately.” (Ilias)
“I will be watching. Well, if it looks like Pashuro will lose too, I will run away though.” (Girista)
I leave Girista and head to where Wolfie and Pashuro are fighting.
Wolfie was attacking one-sidedly until now, but right now she is being pushed back completely. Of course she would be. The fire clad around Pashuro has the ability to ignite the mana of others.
Receiving the attacks of Pashuro or even defending against the arms clad in fire would ignite Wolfie. On top of that, he has poured a certain degree of mana on both arms in order to harden them.
Wolfie has low proficiency, so she is maintaining a high degree of hardness by forcefully outputting large amounts of mana. However, that is instead increasing the risk here. It is basically like fighting while pouring kerosene all over your body.
Even so, if she were to reduce the mana and push it back, her physical specs and defense will drop sharply and she will be beaten to death with pure physical violence.
The reason why she can avoid the attacks of Pashuro who has switched to the offensive is because Wolfie is in good condition. Wolfie is in top gear right now due to the initial battle.
In terms of mana strengthening, Wolfie’s is superior to that of Pashuro. If we are talking plainly of physical strength, she would be second only to Ilias in this plaza. With such high specs revved up from time along with her polished concentration, if she were to move to evasion, the results are as you see.
“Don’t jump around like a damn fly, you weakling! Even I get bored if it is one-sided.” (Pashuro)
“I see. We will go on the offense then.”
Pashuro blocks the attack of Ilias who jumped in.
Despite that attack having come completely from behind him, he still managed to block it without issues.
“What, did Girista give up? That bitch! You must really like to shit on your chivalry by jumping into a duel!” (Pashuro)
“Say whatever you want. There’s no words that can injure me when it comes from lowlifes who use a hostage as bait to drag others into their affairs!” (Ilias)
Pashuro jumped back to avoid the following attack. The sword of Ilias caught fire because it got blocked with the black fire.
But Ilias waved away the black fire with a swing of her sword.
“Waah, Ilias-san is so skilled. She gathered all the mana she was pouring on her sword onto the tip and stopped the encroachment of the black fire.” (Rakura)
“Thanks for the explanation, Rakura. Seems like Ilias has a good grasp of that fire’s special trait.”
In that case, Wolfie should also…is what I want to say, but the weapons of Wolfie are gauntlets. It would be difficult to wave it off. On top of that, that was a feat that was made possible because of the mastery of Ilias. If the perceptive Wolfie wants to try out something like that on her first try, it would be better for it to be with a long weapon like a spear.
“Well, I don’t care if it is 1 or 3 though. It is a good handicap for trash.” (Pashuro)
Pashuro provokes them with a beckon. That composed face of his didn’t change even in front of Ilias.
Ilias attacked without a response.
Pashuro avoided that, but the one who jumped in from behind Ilias was Wolfie.
“You think that’s gonna catch me off-guard, you idiot? Burn.” (Pashuro)
Wolfie blocked the gauntlet clad in black fire with her gauntlet and immediately retreated. The fists that you would think were ignited didn’t have fire on them.
“Playing tricks, you trash! The technique of that knight there, huh.” (Pashuro)
“Setting barriers is not exclusive to Rakura.” (Ilias)
Ilias set a barrier on the surface of Wolfie’s gauntlets. Barriers are a mass of mana. It will burn up if they touch the black fire, but it will lose its destination if it is undone. A one-and-done barrier. It won’t be possible to set the barrier again if Ilias and Wolfie don’t make contact, so the amount of moves they have to make have certainly increased.
“I will jump in. Wolfie, you avoid any counterattacks as you try to get accurate hits in.” (Ilias)
It is an extempore tag team, but these two know each other’s movements well. Pashuro is not looking as leisurely as before…
It should be about time.
I observe Pashuro as I ready both arms.
I clap both hands.
But no one reacted to the sound. However, change occurred in the battle.
“Now then, how’s this? Burn already, weaklings!” (Pashuro)
Pashuro stomps the ground. When he did, his surroundings flared up with black fire. Ilias and Wolfie take distance on the moment and avoid it. However, the kick of Pashuro that came out from the black fire landed on Ilias.
She must have had a barrier on herself as well. She caught fire for a moment, but the fire disappeared. That said, the difference in defensive power between this and Rakura’s is like heaven and earth. It is originally used so you don’t breathe in poisonous mist, so you can’t expect much battle effectiveness from it.
The battle style of Pashuro has changed at this point. From a fist style that used his gauntlets to one that specializes on legs. It is less than the black fire appearing in his arms, but the threat it poses isn’t lower.
Pashuro followed up his attack on Ilias immediately. Ilias is being pushed back with the many leg techniques being unleashed on her one after the other.
“Where did the energy of before go, ain’t this too one-sided, woman?!” (Pashuro)
“—! Don’t look down on me!” (Ilias)
The moment she defended against the 10th kick, Ilias began to retaliate. Looks like she has begun to adapt to Pashuro’s new style…but it is not as easy as that, huh.
I clap both hands.
“—Ilias, move back!” (Wolfie)
“Don’t look down on you?! Nah, you are all the way down. Die, you blockhead idiot!” (Pashuro)
Pashuro threw a fist onto Ilias. It is not a distance that can reach her, but Ilias must have felt something from the warning of Wolfie, she quickly took distance.
Black fire was shot at the place Ilias was an instant after. From punches, to kicks, and now even a switch to long ranged attacks.
“Uwaah, he is so multi-purpose, that Pa-something-san.” (Rakura)
“Pashuro. But he really is a troublesome one.”
The battle is growing in intensity.
Pashuro and Ilias were having exchanges while Wolfie aimed for openings. But no effective method is showing up. They can’t create one.
The battle sense of Ilias is certainly high. In just a few trades, she got used to the movements of Pashuro, and has switched from defense to offense. However, when Ilias tries to concentrate on the attack, Pashuro switches his way of fighting completely.
Just when you think he is controlling the fire and shooting it out like a pyromancer, he would create a sword of fire and come at you like a knight. Just when she got used to the fire sword, he created fire claws on both hands and went at her with a new martial style. He is not always switching to new styles. He would at times return to styles he has shown before and the pattern couldn’t be read.
“The basic strength of Pashuro is a threat in itself, but the biggest problem he poses is his whimsical nature. He is not maintaining the same style and is changing them on a whim. It is a tough opponent to deal with for Ilias and Wolfie who increase their gear as they observe the fighting style of the opponent.”
“Right. By the way, Counselor-sama, why have you been clapping over and over for a wh—” (Rakura)
“Rakura, barrier on the front only!”
Black fire flew here the moment Rakura deployed the barrier.
“Oi, you are being noisy, you damn brat! Don’t go doing unnecessary stuff when you are not fighting.” (Pashuro)
“Of course he would get angry if you were to go clap clap and distract him. Uwaa, the barrier is burning?!” (Rakura)
Looks like he read what I am trying to do. Of course he would notice if I do it over and over, but…it should be enough.
“—Ilias, careful!” (Wolfie)
The attack method of Pashuro changed after the warning of Wolfie.
“You are noisy, you piece of shit! Getting stupid knowledge!” (Pashuro)
The composure has disappeared from the face of Pashuro. Wolfie already understands the sign of when Pashuro switches.
Me clapping was so Wolfie and Ilias noticed.
Pashuro is an incredibly whimsical person who changes tone, style, and even moods. However, he has habits right before switching.
For the change in mood, it is a change in the conditions of the surroundings; the defeat of Ekdoik and Girista were just that. The change in tones is when he takes a breath or cuts off his words.
The change in battle style also has its own signs. This one alone is hard to feel on the surface. However, I am done with my observations. Reading the atmosphere of the other party isn’t so difficult compared to reading their mind.
Even so, telling them out loud would be dangerous. My reflexes are slow so it could cause confusion. Thus, the hand claps.
I have been imprinting that into Wolfie and Ilias unconsciously. The moment I feel a sign of change, I clap my hands. And then, the movements of Pashuro change.
By repeating this, Wolfie managed to observe carefully the moment Pashuro switches. The concentration of Wolfie is top gear right now. She has trained countless times to find answers in such situations.
“You are in the way, you weakling! Buzzing around…!” (Pashuro)
The frequency in which Wolfie participated in the attacks is steadily increasing. Now that she has seen through the attack methods and the switches, the chances of an accident drop drastically.
With Wolfie’s moves increasing, Ilias obviously gets more freedom in movement too.
“Just…burn already, you brat!” (Pashuro)
“Won’t let you!” (Wolfie)
The moment Pashuro switched from kicks to fists, the leg sweep of Wolfie hit. He regained his balance soon after, but her attacks are beginning to connect.
Looks like she not only learned the switch of styles, but can predict some of the styles that will be coming.
The fighting style of Pashuro is one that switches freely, fitting a whimsical person. However, the downside is also his whimsical nature. Changing on whim means there are times when he doesn’t feel it. In other words, Pashuro can’t do actions that go against his whims.
When he is on the whim of using fists, he will use fists; when he is on the whim of using kicks, he has to use kicks. Even if you can freely switch your hand in rock-paper-scissors, there’s no point if they can predict what you will put out beforehand.
Pashuro understands this, but he can’t change. If he tries to force that change…
“What’s the matter?! Such unenergetic attacks won’t hit!” (Ilias)
“Damn it!” (Pashuro)
His body and mind won’t match anymore, and he won’t be able to make attacks with high efficiency.
Now that it has reached this point, Wolfie can aim for that technique. The risk is high, but it is one with high decisive power.
“This will…decide it!” (Wolfie)
Wolfie pushes out her right fist she held aloft, but Pashuro avoided it by shifting his body slightly to the left.
“As if a large swing like that will hit. Don’t get ahead of yourself you shitty—” (Pashuro)
A dull sound rang.
The body of Pashuro spun in the air and bounced on the ground as if he had been hit with a full power attack.
“…It hit!” (Wolfie)
“Nicely done, Wolfie!” (Ilias)
The gauntlets of Wolfie showed their true meaning.
The protectors around the fist are not for protection but propulsors.
I was already aware of the explosive power of Wolfie’s mana in the battle against the Anbus. By directing that explosive power into a specific direction, she changed it into propulsion power.
Wolfie purposely threw a large swing with her right fist and had Pashuro avoid to the inside. And then, she exploded the mana accumulated in the gauntlet, ejecting vast amounts of mana from the propulsion openings, and the right fist changed trajectory as if sprung.
This technique carries huge risks. If this attack were to be avoided, Wolfie’s stance would be broken heavily.
If she throws a full power attack from the correct stance, her body can react to the next action. However, an attack from an unstable form has nowhere to get a hold of. She even tripped flashily and injured her shoulder lightly at the time when she tested it out.
She might be able to control it if she lowers the output, but if she does that, it would just be a normal hook you switched trajectories of. It is when it is a second high speed straight after fully stretching your arm that gives it the surprise factor and its power.
Pashuro mitigated the fall and got up. However, he soon fell on his knees.
“Damn it! To think a demi-human would get the better of me…!” (Pashuro)
“The match has been set, Pashuro. You shouldn’t be fine after receiving that attack just now.” (Ilias)
Just as Ilias said, his legs can’t stop shaking. He got a full power hit on his head. One hit is more than enough. Pashuro probably can’t even stand up.
“Don’t joke around! As if I would accept defeat after an injury of this degree…!” (Pashuro)
Pashuro stood up as he gritted his teeth. However, it is clear to the eye that he is extremely weakened.
He will be able to move after a while, but in his current state, releasing the black fire would most likely be the most he could muster.
“Oh my, oh my, that’s pathetic. Can’t you just honestly admit your loss?” (Girista)
“Shut up, Girista! In the first place, it is because you are useless trash that things ended up like this…! You get up too already Ekdoik, you incompetent idiot!” (Pashuro)
When I looked over there, Ekdoik slowly got up. But the shower of chains he took with his whole body was even more damage than Pashuro. He is most likely the most injured out of the group.
“Give up. Even if it is not fatal, with those wounds, it is impossible for you people to fight.” (Ilias)
“Shut up, you numbskull! Don’t talk as if you’ve won with that high and mighty gaze, you bitch!” (Pashuro)
Pashuro shoots out black fire. But he probably couldn’t aim properly, it flew off without hitting anyone.
“I see, it can’t be helped then. Let’s settle this.” (Ilias)
Ilias readies her sword.
The battle will most definitely be settled with the next attack.
“—Aah, I am bored already. I will end this as you wish!”
Suddenly, black fire bursted around my surroundings. My body is covered in fire. It is pretty hot. However, it is not like I am actually being burned. Must have intentionally held back. Well, obviously.
Pashuro did something to my clothes on the way here. So it was for this.
“Counselor-sama?! There was no such sign… Could it be that they had it set from the very beginning?!” (Rakura)
“That’s right! Don’t move, you pieces of trash! If you make a single move, I will turn that man into cinders with my black fire.” (Pashuro)
“You are going to stoop even lower, you lowlife!” (Ilias)
“Don’t provoke me that much. It took me a lot to hold back and not kill him. Ekdoik, you can move, right?! Come here!” (Pashuro)
Ekdoik unsteadily approached Pashuro as he observed the situation.
“What do you plan on doing, Pashuro?” (Ekdoik)
“Any more battle would be rough, so I will be running away. But that would be insufficient, right?! These guys came here prepared to die in order to save that man. Then, it should be fine for one or two of them to die, right?!” (Pashuro)
“Right, I will kill that white brat this time! That’s why, kill Ilias Ratzel. If they resist, that man is cinders!” (Pashuro)
“There’s pretty much no trust towards us. Even if we told them it is in exchange for the life of that man, I doubt they are the type who would just let themselves be killed.” (Ekdoik)
“No issues! I know that woman is the bodyguard of the man. A knight-sama would be able to throw away something like their lives, right?!” (Pashuro)
Ilias closed her eyes vexed.
A face that says she might seriously accept if they were to say it is in exchange for my life.
“Pashuro-san, do you not have pride as the strong?!” (Rakura)
“A cleric preaching, huh. That pisses me off, you numbskull! If you are so serious about your opinion, then let’s have you die first. Ekdoik, accomplish your objective first! Now, show me that pride of the strong you preach about!” (Pashuro)
Throwing the sparks onto Rakura as well? That’s way too convenient.
If it were just running away, the life of a single hostage might suffice, but you are greedying for the win.
Man, I can only laugh at that.
Pashuro doesn’t understand what happened to himself yet. The reason why he vomited blood, the meaning of the chains piercing through his chest, or the worth of the organs that are skewered at the tip of them.
However, he is not an idiot who doesn’t know anything. He should be able to notice soon -the reality that he has been fatally injured by the chains of Ekdoik.
The fire covering me disappeared weakly as if synchronized with the flames of his life.
“Ekdo…ik…. What…are you…” (Pashuro)
“It all went just as that man said. What a pathetic man you are.” (Ekdoik)
Giving someone a present on their way to hell is what a villain does, but he is the type of person that would take others as hostage. Let’s leave regrets on him at least.
“Rakura, would you be able to extinguish the fire here completely now?”
“Eh, ah, yes, eh?!” (Rakura)
I have Rakura clear the remaining fire. His last struggle is gone now.
I walked towards Ekdoik and Pashuro who went on his knees again. There’s no need to get too close, just enough for my voice to reach.
“You wouldn’t like to die without knowing, right? Allow me to explain, Pashuro. Ekdoik betrayed you guys. I set it up so that would be the case.”
“You…there were no signs of…” (Pashuro)
“Yeah, Ekdoik was your ally just before -until the moment you got greedy and asked to kill Rakura, that is.”
I was certain Ilias could win against Girista. Wolfie would buy time, Ilias would join, and by utilizing the habits of Pashuro, there was enough chance of winning.
The uncertain factor was the battle between Ekdoik and Rakura.
Also, depending on how strong the whimsical nature of Pashuro is, I knew that he would do whatever is necessary in order to win when he has lost. That’s why I planted a seed on Ekdoik -the seed of rebellion.
“Ekdoik, victory for you is to protect the honor of your father. Being raised by your father and obtaining power, if you were to win one on one against Rakura, you will certainly be able to regain that honor. However, learn that you would be able to protect that honor even more if you were to lose.”
“What do you mean by that?” (Ekdoik)
“If you win, what you will prove is how good the education of your father was. But in order to prove the strength of your father, you would have to go for a different method. It is to bring up Rakura. If you manage to raise Rakura to an existence that would be natural for a devil like your father to lose, you would be able to protect his honor in a firmer manner. Even the Demon Lords have lost to the Hero, after all.”
“Do you think I will give up on my revenge just for that?” (Ekdoik)
“No, that’s why you can fight with everything you have, fair and square. However, you should rethink how to act when you have lost. Also, one more warning. There will be a case where the honor of your father will drop to rock bottom. Do you know when that is?”
“There’s no way that can be the case. I can prove the greatness of mine father if I win.” (Ekdoik)
“That’s only in the case when you win with your own strength. But what if Rakura were to lose to you in a way where she doesn’t resist? Would you be able to call that a victory? No, you wouldn’t. On top of that, if it were obtained by using a hostage, just what would that prove from the guy who scavenged such a victory?”
“…Are you telling me to free you?” (Ekdoik)
“No, you need a hostage for the sake of fighting Rakura. You are not wrong. However, what about the others? Especially the whimsical Pashuro. There’s the possibility he will thoroughly use the hostage in order to win. Then, imagine this. Pashuro used the hostage and you managed to one-sidedly kill Rakura. Now, what would the world think of you…of your father if they were to learn of this?”
“I have no intention of running away. But if you undo my restraints, I promise that I will be a complete spectator on your battle against Rakura. If you win, that’s fine. Even if you lose, we can avoid being used by Pashuro. No issues with that, right?”
“Yeah, got it.” (Ekdoik)
“However, if something were to happen despite that, I won’t be able to do anything. Remember that if something were to happen that would trample you and your father’s honor, you will be the only one who can eliminate that threat.”
“Why go through such lengths?” (Ekdoik)
“Regardless of whether it is blind justice or dyeing oneself in evil, it is the nature of humans to want to cheer for the ones that can be reasoned with, Ekdoik. Your desire to protect the honor of your father is correct, and regardless of shape, it should be achieved. That desire shouldn’t be dirtied. You should protect the worth you hold in yourself with your own hands.”
Ekdoik’s anger towards the killer of his father, Rakura, wasn’t because she took her family away.
He has been raised to hate the humans that threw him away. But the devil that taught him this was defeated by Rakura. Ekdoik had lost sight of what was right at that point.
Not wanting to believe that everything he gained until now was worthless, he sought for the rightness of his father. However, the voices around were cold -that there’s no worth on the devil that lost to someone incapable like Rakura.
If the worth of his father is gone, the worth of himself until now would be gone too. That’s why he decided to get revenge on Rakura.
However, this is also in part to gauge the worth of Rakura. And so, I prepared an escape path for him, so that it is okay to evaluate Rakura there. If Ekdoik can acknowledge Rakura, he will be able to move forward. There’s no need to block the other paths. You will feel more relieved when you have more choices after all.
And then, at the end, I imprinted a view on the existence that could ruin everything.
Ekdoik lost to Rakura. He had no choice but to acknowledge her at this point. However, what would happen if he killed Rakura without any difficulties after that.
It would turn Ekdoik’s past -its worth- to zero. That’s why it is the natural result that Ekdoik betrayed Pashuro here once he took desperate measures.
“Too bad, Pashuro. If Ekdoik had no honor, the one in this state would be someone else. Whimsical people are not to be trusted, you see. You know, I am a bit of a whimsical person myself. Just give up and think of this as having lost because of my disgust for my own kind.”
“Don’t put me…in the same level…as you…! You are…you are…!” (Pashuro)
“Aah, but your whimsical nature was…how to say it…easy to understand.”