I take distance from the Scarlet Demon Lord and check the state of that man.
He is leaning on the nearest wall and isn’t showing signs of standing up. He is keeping Kutou deployed around him.
There’s no doubt the bones on his legs are broken, and judging from his expression of enduring pain, I can tell that he has suffered damage in other areas, too.
There’s a limit to the barriers Kutou can cast.
He should be able to run away at a certain degree of speed if he were to order Kutou, but it would put quite the heavy burden on his body which can’t use mana strengthening.
Also, judging from the conversations until now, the objective of the Scarlet Demon Lord includes him.
If he were to move carelessly, it could lead to him moving in order to incapacitate Kutou, and the shockwave of it would injure him even further.
“I can tell your mind is elsewhere. That’s how much leeway you have against an opponent who isn’t showing signs of attacking aggressively, huh. In that case, allow me to open up.” (Scarlet)
The Scarlet Demon Lord said this and walked this way without taking a stance. I don’t know if this is a sign of his leeway or he doesn’t have a stance to begin with, but what I got after having him attack me twice is that I must not allow him to grasp the initiative.
“No need for that!” (Ilias)
I concentrate my mana strengthening from the onset and jump to the very front of the Scarlet Demon Lord. I was trying to land a hit on his neck, but his axe was placed in a way that it got in the way of its trajectory.
It is not only that his reaction is fast. He must be predicting the moves I will take. It is different from the monsters that make their strength speak. It is certain that this man excels in his fighting skills.
In that case… I switch my steps, add a spin to my axis, and aim for his legs from the opposite direction.
“Nice moves.” (Scarlet)
He uses the handle of his axe if he defends; if he can’t block the attack with the blade that’s the center of gravity, he would step in and easily stop my sword.
He has to see through the moment the sword will appear in order to read the trajectory of the sword while I am spinning. But he had already raised his knee to strike my sword away. He had completely seen through the fact that my aim was his legs.
I immediately moved back and created distance.
“My intention was to break it though. That’s a pretty sturdy sword. The quality of your weapon doesn’t seem to be bad.” (Scarlet)
“I thought you were a strong conceited Demon Lord, but you praise humans more than I thought.” (Ilias)
“I just speak the truth. In the battlefields I have rushed through, I have not seen a human who has had this much mastery in mana strengthening and wielded such a sturdy weapon after all.” (Scarlet)
“Obviously. Humans have been polishing their fighting techniques in preparation for the arrival of new Demon Lords. Our efforts won’t wane as long as there’s the scars called Nethers. You yourself must have the power that you polished after having been defeated by Yugura, right? Make sure not to fall before pulling all stops.” (Ilias)
“—I unfortunately have no such thing.” (Scarlet)
“Mine body that has been strengthened further with Strife has reached the limit of its growth a long time ago. My skills have not changed at all from the time I was defeated by Yugura.” (Scarlet)
“That’s slothful when other Demon Lords have been growing!” (Ilias)
I will prioritize seeing through his movements first. I will go for the higher number of moves to bring out as much of his patterns as possible.
I swing my sword in all directions without going too deep. My first and second attacks were blocked, but I am slowly beginning to see just how my enemy blocks with what type of attacks.
I will go in even further like this and—
My sword is stopped.
It is not that my attack was blocked.
The Scarlet Demon Lord didn’t even defend and stopped my sword with his bare body.
Even if I was concentrating on speed and didn’t put strength into my sword, taking on my sword that had the speed of mana strengthening added to it is just…
I take on the axe he swung haphazardly with my sword.
But the shockwave of it was so strong, it easily made my body float despite me having held ground. There was no sign of mana strengthening from that attack just now.
No, this Demon Lord is different somehow to begin with.
“Let me correct a misunderstanding of yours. Mine power isn’t something that can be trained even if I wanted to. Mine body is already perfected. Strife is a power that enhances the person’s strength over their limits. Thus, there’s no need to strengthen myself in the middle of battle. That body can continue to move at its best even without mana strengthening.” (Scarlet)
“You don’t need mana strengthening…?” (Ilias)
“Indeed. There’s no need for a technique created for the weak to defeat the strong.” (Scarlet)
The consequent attacks of the Demon Lord had speed incomparable to that of before.
It is on the same level as the charges of Lord Ragudo or even more than that. But the strength included in it was far stronger. However, they are not attacks that I can’t block.
“You will speak of the strong despite having been defeated by Yugura?!” (Ilias)
“He is a transcendental being. He learned the truth of the world and violated it. It can’t be helped that there would be a gap between the ones that have overcome the truth with their own strength and those that were led to the gates of the truth. I acknowledge the fact that I was defeated, but I don’t feel inferior over it.” (Scarlet)
The real power of Yugura that I experienced in the Hero Index I saw at Kuama, the power of the anbu protecting His Majesty; it is true that they are in a realm that surpasses competition.
But if that’s true, that would mean this Scarlet Demon Lord possesses power that surpasses the common sense of this world.
“Scarlet Demon Lord, it is true that you are strong, but I don’t feel like you have gone beyond common sense!” (Ilias)
“Obviously. I haven’t shown you yet after all. But there should be no need to hold back against someone of your level. Go ahead and experience the true meaning of the Strife’s power.” (Scarlet)
The Scarlet Demon Lord swings his axe again. That speed was no different from the one before. It may be difficult to avoid, but it is possible to take on.
I take on the attack with the assumption that my body will float from this and make it so that my posture won’t crumble from it.
The shockwave of it was certainly inhuman, but I managed to block it. I will go on the offensive just like th—
My body is heavy.
I can’t put as much strength as I want.
My body aiming for a counterattack has loosened up as if it has forgotten about the fight.
The Scarlet Demon Lord is standing right in front of my eyes.
Retaliate…no, I can’t. The axe is already approaching.
I somehow managed to slip my sword in between the attack of the Scarlet Demon Lord, but my body was sent flying, unable to take the attack properly. I was smashed onto the rubble and sharp pain ran through my whole body.
“Are you okay, Ilias?!”
“So you avoided instant death. Impressive.” (Scarlet)
“Mine body is Strife itself. If I attack with that power in mind, the one who is hit by it will be affected by that power. You were swallowed by mine Strife in that attack just now. Your body itself can’t wield the power to fight anymore. That’s all there is to it.” (Scarlet)
Many soldiers lost their fighting spirit due to the roar of the monsters that had been affected by Strife.
So you are telling me his attacks are the same as that, no, they have even more effectiveness than that?
The power to forcefully incapacitate the target you attack… A power that’s not a technique or magic; a power only he has.
I get up by using my sword as a cane. The damage was pretty high, but there are no broken parts in my body.
I fix my breathing and concentrate on the flow of mana in my whole body.
It is okay, I can still move.
It seems like that effect disappears slowly after a certain period of time.
“Even if you can take away the freedom of my body…it seems like you can’t take away the desire for strife in itself.” (Ilias)
“That’s because you are strong. A normal person would have had their heart broken even if they were to escape with their life.” (Scarlet)
It is certainly a troublesome power.
The effect may have dimmed, but my body is trembling. How long has it been since I have trembled against an opponent?
It reminds me of the time when I was weak, and I dislike that.
“No matter how many times you attack me, my resolve as a knight won’t be shaken!” (Ilias)
“Then, prove it to me.” (Scarlet)
The Scarlet Demon Lord switches to the offensive.
I must avoid the attacks. If I get hit by one, I will end up in an almost defenseless state, and I will definitely be taken down on the next one.
I throw away my preparations to retaliate and concentrate on evading.
With this, I should be able to avoid getting hit—?!
The moment the wind pressure of the axe swung hit my skin, the same sensation as before assailed me.
Even coming close has an effect?!
I take distance in one go and try to evade the following attacks somehow.
The effects of it are weaker than taking on an attack, but I will definitely be caught if I were to continue avoiding at close range.
I must not let him attack.
I will attack myself and take distance before he can retaliate.
I can’t think of any other way.
“Good eyes. Show me just how long those eyes will have light residing in them.” (Scarlet)
I evade the attack of the Scarlet Demon Lord and swing my sword, aiming for the stiffness afterwards. But my attack was completely read and he took it on with his axe.
An attack done while trying to create distance is blocked more easily. No, not only that.
I can’t bring out strength again.
“Even when defendi—?!” (Ilias)
The Scarlet Demon Lord swings his axe.
This is bad. I won’t be able to avoid it in time.
At this rate—
The Scarlet Demon Lord who was in front of me was sent to the side. I could feel familiar mana resonating in me at the same time as this happened. This mana…there’s no doubt about it.
“Ilias, are you okay?!” (Wolfe)
Wolfe had run to help out and punched the Scarlet Demon Lord without hesitation.
The Scarlet Demon Lord stopped his attacks thanks to the sudden ambush and took a defensive stance.
The mana emission punch of Wolfe had moved the body of the Scarlet Demon Lord that had not taken a favorable defensive stance.
“Yeah, I am okay. You saved me there.” (Ilias)
“What about Shishou?! Ah, there he is! Shishou! Are you okay?!” (Wolfe)
“I can’t say I am okay, but well, I am alive.”
“He is injured, but there’s no risk to his life for now. But the opponent is not so soft that he would be able to escape from here.” (Ilias)
The expression of the Scarlet Demon Lord hasn’t crumbled despite having been hit by the attack of Wolfe.
But I can see him confirming the axe he used to defend.
“This mana amount… I see. You are a so-called Illegitimate that Yugura and Green created, huh.” (Scarlet)
“You…did that to Shishou…!” (Wolfe)
“Wait, Wolfe! Attacking him carelessly is dangerous! …No, are you okay?” (Ilias)
“…What do you mean?” (Wolfe)
I don’t see the effects of Strife on Wolfe despite her having punched the Scarlet Demon Lord.
Not only that. The recovery of my body is a lot faster after having touched the mana emission of Wolfe just now.
What is the meaning of this?
I was thinking about it and that man raised his voice.
“Ilias, it is mana emission!”
“…I see! Wolfe, there’s something I would like to try out. I will go in first. If my movements get dull, please follow after me!” (Ilias)
“I don’t really get it, but…got it!” (Wolfe)
I swing my sword at the Scarlet Demon Lord like before.
He stopped it without difficulties, but I emitted mana to the surroundings in one go around the sword and took distance.
I don’t see anything off about my body.
So that really was the case.
His power interferes with the mana of the other to show its effects.
If I emit the mana clad in my sword immediately, his power won’t reach my body.
The mana expended is nothing to scoff at, but this will allow me to fight. Me recovering from the mana of Wolfe must have been because of the qualities of her mana.
The mana of Wolfe resonates more easily in the bodies of others.
By resonating deeper than the mana of the Scarlet Demon Lord that crept into my body from the outside, she mitigated its effects.
If the mana of Wolfe overflows in the surroundings, it should serve to mitigate the effects to a certain degree even if my mana emission doesn’t make it in time.
“It hasn’t been dealt with before, so I didn’t even think about it, but…I see. There was that method, huh.” (Scarlet)
“Wolfe, if that guy touches you, release that mana to the outside immediately. You can fight as normal in everything aside from that!”
“Got it! But Shishou, don’t talk too loudly! It will hurt Shishou’s body!” (Wolfe)
“It is okay! I can endure with bravado!”
“That can’t be called being okay!” (Wolfe)
It is not only Wolfe. He is fighting together with us, too.
He is analyzing the power of the Scarlet Demon Lord as much as possible despite him not being able to move his body properly.
I can see a ray of hope because of this.
“It is 3 vs 1, but you won’t call it underhanded, right, Scarlet Demon Lord?” (Ilias)
“You are counting the resident of Yugura’s planet? His head does spin, but it is far from being a one.” (Scarlet)
“We can bring out strength beyond one thanks to his wits. Calling it 3 wouldn’t even suffice!” (Ilias)
I charge towards the Scarlet Demon Lord in coordination with Wolfe.
We understand each other’s movements, so we can match each other as if we shared limbs even without waiting for a signal.
The defense of the Scarlet Demon Lord is sturdy, but even so, it is easier to fight him than before.
He didn’t evade when it was light attacks, but he is defending when it comes to attacks I am putting my foot on.
The Scarlet Demon Lord is also defending against the attacks of Wolfe.
This means we will definitely deal damage if our attacks land.
A Demon Lord is different from a monster in that their body is composed like that of a human. We have a chance of winning if an attack lands on a vital point!
I swing my sword with even more strength than ever before.
It is an attack that has a higher risk of getting counterattacked by, but Wolfe would jump in at that opening without delay, so there’s no counter from the Scarlet Demon Lord.
Each and every attack of Wolfe holds inhuman power due to the mana emission.
If the Scarlet Demon Lord counterattacks carelessly, he will be the one getting a direct hit land on him before his attack does.
“Those are pretty energetic moves, but that energy won’t last for long.” (Scarlet)
“Sadly to say, Wolfe and I have a lot of mana. Waiting for us to run out of mana is a bad idea!” (Ilias)
Wolfe fights while emitting a large amount of mana to begin with, so the Strife doesn’t reach her body, and her mana is also abundant.
My mana is low compared to Wolfe, but the cost of it isn’t that high as long as I concentrate on emitting just the mana clad on the sword.
That said, if time passes like this, the Scarlet Demon Lord will get used to the movements of Wolfe.
The fighting style of Wolfe has turned into an irregular one that’s hard to read thanks to the teachings of Gradona, but she doesn’t have much experience fighting people, so you can see a decent amount of patterns.
I need to create an opening while the Scarlet Demon Lord is still doing his reading.
I aimed for the moment the attack of Wolfe was blocked and increased my mana strengthening to its limits.
I unleash the fastest and strongest attack to the front of the Scarlet Demon Lord.
It is an attack that the Scarlet Demon Lord should be able to see. But if he understands that this attack has more power put into it than the ones before, he will have no choice but to defend.
The sword and axe clash violently.
I do mana emission at its highest output at the same time and stop the movements of the Scarlet Demon Lord with the mana pressure.
It is only for an instant, but stopping his movements for an instant is enough.
Wolfe did mana emission, changing the trajectory in midair, and unleashed a punch onto the Scarlet Demon Lord once she moved to his back.
The Scarlet Demon Lord is still being held down by my sword.
If he blocks the attack of Wolfe, my sword will be swung fully!
An intense clashing sound.
The axe of the Scarlet Demon Lord has not moved.
I don’t think he will fall from this, but we have at least landed a hit—
“…What’s a shame is that you were inexperienced in front of a Demon Lord.” (Scarlet)
Wolfe and I were dumbstruck.
The Scarlet Demon Lord is still taking on my sword. He has no leeway at all to turn his body to the punch of Wolfe that was unleashed behind him.
But the punch of Wolfe didn’t reach.
The fist of Wolfe had stopped just a few centimeters away from the head of the Scarlet Demon Lord.
What I saw around the head of the Scarlet Demon Lord was a barrier blocking the fist of Wolfe.
Moreover, it is not only one, but several layers.
“Female knight, the magic seal stone embedded on your sword only has the size to erase the magic that’s slightly in front of the sword. It is a range that you can use your sword to erase magic if you were to use it as a shield. If it were bigger than that, you wouldn’t be able to use magic even when it is sheathed on your waist after all.
Conversely, there’s no magic seal stone on the weapon of the demi-human woman’s weapon. In that case, I just have to block your sword with my axe and use a barrier for attacks coming from my back.
Of course, I understand that it has enough power to break through a single layer, thus I used 10.” (Scarlet)
“So you deployed them only around your head and blocked it by concentrating on that narrow range…!” (Ilias)
“You must have thought about settling the fight before the movements of the demi-human woman are seen through, but you mistook your measurement.
The peculiar movements of a demi-human, the habits when fighting; I already know them from head to toe since before I became a Demon Lord.” (Scarlet)
“! Wolfe, get away!!”
Before I could finish shouting, the Scarlet Demon Lord launched a kick onto the abdomen of Wolfe who was in the air while still maintaining strength in his axe to stop my sword.
Wolfe couldn’t mitigate the attack and was smashed to a nearby wall.
The power in the axe suddenly increased, and I, who was supposed to be the one pushing him back, was sent flying instead.
I fix my posture and land, and then direct my gaze at Wolfe.
She is barely managing to move, but she clearly can’t get up.
Wolfe has high mobility thanks to her large amount of mana which allows her to unleash powerful attacks. But Wolfe’s main battle style is to avoid the attacks of the enemy, so she is unskilled when it comes to techniques to protect her body from impact.
Even if it is hard for her body to be affected by Strife, getting the full brunt of the Scarlet Demon Lord’s attack who is far stronger than me…
“That goes for you, too. I said your pure strength and speed is great, but you are in the end just someone who has lived in a peaceful world compared to the warring era. Both attacks lacked weight.
Understand that an attack that you just hope it would be nice to slice the enemy won’t be able to stop mine movements even one bit.” (Scarlet)
I can tell mana is gathering on the axe of the Scarlet Demon Lord.
I have a similar technique, so I can tell immediately. The attack coming next is without doubt a large area of effect attack that emits massive amounts of mana from his axe.
It must be the same as the one that destroyed the gate of Gahne.
An attack that hits my whole body is not something I can defend against.
I have to jump the moment he swings his axe and avoid a direct hit.
“You can avoid it if you want…but the one behind you won’t be coming out safe.” (Scarlet)
Behind the location I landed at…there’s him, unable to move.
I can’t avoid together with him in this position.
If I avoid, he will die without a doubt.
I tried thinking of a countermeasure, but the Scarlet Demon Lord had already swung his axe.