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Chapter 074 – The End Point of the Sword [A]
—Leonhart’s vacation, the eleventh day.
Raizen continued his long wait.
Under the starry sky, Raizen occasionally looked up and down then back and forth across the slopes below him.
The reason he felt restless was probably because he couldn’t sleep.
…I guess I slept too much. Or perhaps… I was just expecting too much.
Either way, it was true that he had waited for a considerable amount of time.
After all, it was his first duel in a thousand years.
And also, it was the first time he thought he might reach the end of his life.
That was the reason that he had waited all this time. That was the reason why he continued to live on.
However, it was meaningless if the other party never returned.
Whether he had escaped due to sudden cowardice, or for some other reason, Raizen didn’t know.
Anyway, he couldn’t wait for the majin any longer. He would only wait until dawn. That was what Raizen decided.
Once the dawn came, he would continue on his quest for death.
In this wide yet narrow world, he had wandered for what felt like an eternity.
And— he would eventually be driven to insanity, just like his compatriots.
Raizen had witnessed that fall into madness several times in the past.
He had no idea why it hadn’t happened to him back then. But maybe the time for his own mind to decay simply hadn’t come yet. That was what he thought.
But even that thought would break down immediately if he didn’t come. Such was his prediction that was close to a conviction.
…That is something I don’t want to become…
Was it a sign of his mind weakening that he felt this anxiety, sadness, and regret? Dragon race lacked lifespan and would never age, but it wasn’t like their hearts didn’t grow old.
I guess I can’t laugh at Magiihoa in this case, thought Raizen as he remembered his friend from the past and,
He could hear something coming up from below him.
The sounds seemed to come from the bottom of a mountain road. He could hear the voices and footsteps of multiple people. Raizen felt skeptical at the sounds coming toward him.
…It’s not a single person?
After all, the reason they suspended their duel was to prevent the kalar woman from getting caught in the crossfire. This was why Majin Leonhart had gone down the mountain.
Therefore, there was no reason for him to bring another person back up with him.
…Or did the woman manage to change his mind?
Perhaps the others were called to witness their battle or, perhaps knowing he couldn’t win alone, he had brought allies to fight with him.
Various possibilities went through Raizen’s mind.
…Well, I don’t mind, even if I have to fight a few extra people.
He was willing to accept that, as was the leisure of the strong. Perhaps one could say that was a sign of his dignity. Regardless of the era, once they knew they couldn’t win against a stronger foe, the weak tended to flock together.
He heard that humans were especially good at flocking. So it wouldn’t be strange if that had happened.
In any case, he would just be generous and accept it. He didn’t care about such details, as long as the result would be a worthy end for him. Besides,
…If they’re going to fight together with that majin, there must be a good reason for it.
After all, that majin was a battle maniac who longed to fight against the strongest of opponents. So much so that he was prepared to fight a dragon one on one. Therefore, he should have wanted to return alone, thought Raizen, as he lined up reasons based on his impression of Leonhart.
Therefore, come if you are ready, and that was all it was about.
He turned his body to look at the shadows emerging from the bottom of the slope. Then,
The first person to enter his sight was, as expected, the blond man with red eyes — Leonhart.
The corners of Raizen’s mouth naturally rose. A feeling of joy sprung up in his heart.
The others didn’t matter as long as Leonhart came. Whether he came alone or with a companion, Raizen would allow it. With his tension rising, Raizen watched what came next.
The scene that entered his eyes was,
“…Uwah?! It-it’s really there…!”
“Let’s see…? Uoh, it’s certainly big, and looks strong too…”
“So that’s… one of the legendary Four Great Saint Dragons. Fumu, I do feel a great power from it.”
“It’s soooooo big, and looks very strong!! Leonhart-sama!! Let’s keep it at our house!”
“Do-don’t say that like it is an abandoned wanwan, it might get angry… A, ahaha, I said nothing, okay-? If you want to get angry, please don’t take your anger out on Leonhart-sama and me…”
Raizen was dumbfounded when he saw the people coming toward him.
There were seven of them. Every one of them possessed strong power and exuded great presence— nah, if he looked closer, he could see the kalar girl from a few days ago, and that one wasn’t very strong. The blond girl wasn’t all that much stronger than the kalar either.
However, this was certainly a powerful group. Especially that white-haired girl, her power level was incomparable to the others.
Raizen had seen many strong beings — She might be inferior to Magiihoa or Avel, but there was no doubt that she was at that level of existence. Perhaps that girl was indeed one of them.
…Besides — hey, wait, that’s not what I should be thinking about right now.
I have a bigger problem to deal with, thought Raizen as he forcefully cut off his thoughts.
Therefore, Raizen decided to speak. The person he called out to was Leonhart, who stood at the front of the group.
“Aah… sorry, I’m late.”
“Aah, yeah”, said Raizen as he resisted the urge to narrow his eyes at the statement. Although what Leonhart said was true, that wasn’t the problem with this situation.
Therefore, Raizen spoke with a low voice,
“…I don’t mind that. It doesn’t change the fact you returned. However—”
Raize cut his words there. Then with a single breath,
“—Isn’t there too many of you coming at once!!”
Along with his irritated voice, he also unleashed dragon breath as his retort to Leonhart.
“It’s okay, Ssulal!”
Leonhart reassured Ssulal, who worriedly called out to him from behind.
This kind of attack could be considered playful and it really wasn’t that strong. Therefore, Leonhart explained,
“This meager breath can just be deflected like this!”
Leonhart pulled out Orpheil — the slender sword which stood taller than he did, and clashed it into the ray-shaped breath to show her what he meant.
As he deflected it away just like he said he would,
“Just like this— ah.”
At that moment, Leonhart finally realized his mistake. It wasn’t like there was any damage done to him though. The breath was deflected properly.
However, the new target of the deflected breath was Ssulal’s group behind him,
And the breath hit them directly.
As dirt and smoke clouded the air, Ssulal’s figure was eventually revealed by the magic light she was using to illuminate the area.
Leonhart could make out the figures of the others standing around her. Seeing that, he exhaled in relief,
“…I’m glad you’re all safe.”
“Heeeyyy—?! You’re not supposed to say ‘glad you’re all safe’ there! Are you trying to kill me?!”
Now that he looked, Ssulal, who’d had to put her hand forward with multiple layers of magic barriers, was angry. Galtia also wore a surprised expression, which was rare for him,
“That was close… I really got caught off guard by that. I might have really been blown away, if not for Ssulal.”
“…I was prepared just in case, but it would have taken all my effort to evade that. Are you okay, Ssulal-sama?”
Kesselring said that as she exhaled in relief. She called out to Ssulal, who stood in front of her, with concern. Ssulal, who was drenched in a cold sweat, answered,
“I’m okay, but I guess as is to be expected of a dragon, it is anomalous… All my barriers were shaved away… I should get more up…”
“Ah, that really helps. Please add more barriers then.”
“…Why don’t you move away for a bit?”
Pale faltered at Ssulal’s harsh words. It seemed that Ssulal was still bothered by Pale’s attitude from earlier. Ignoring their exchange, Carol waved her hand with a carefree attitude then held it next to her mouth and shouted,
“Leonhart-sama-! We’re fine over here, so do your best-! I’ll cheer for you-!”
…They’re all so easy going about this… Rather, I find it distracting…
Leonhart could feel everyone was having various conversations behind him. Somehow, Carol began laying out a sheet with a cute pattern on the ground. Then Galtia began to spread his food out on top of it — hey, are you all going to have a picnic?
Out of all of them, I guess Hunty is the only quiet one, thought Leonhart. He was determined to ignore the things that were happening behind him as much as he could, and he looked towards the giant dragon in front of him — Raizen. Raizen then began to speak, as he glanced at the people behind Leonhart,
“…What’s with them? Rather, why did you bring these people to begin with?”
“…Sorry about that. Those people are my apostles, fellow majin, and the maou. Just ignore them. I’ll fight you alone.”
Raizen twitched when he heard the word “maou,” and immediately looked away. Would it have been better to not tell him about that? It feels like I’m threatening him.
But it seemed that was a needless worry, as Raizen continued with a solemn voice,
“…I see. Well, I won’t say anything about it. It’s enough that you came to fight.”
Leonhart frowned at the subtle relief he felt coming from Raizen.
He opened his mouth and asked,
“What’s wrong? You seem to be weirdly relieved…”
“Oops, don’t worry about that. It’s more of a personal problem…”
…? What the hell was that…?
He felt that there was something strange about Raizen’s words. Leonhart could see that there was more to his thoughts than what he was saying, but it was hidden behind the pressure that Raizen exuded — that was how Leonhart felt it.
However, Leonhart couldn’t tell what those emotions behind the pressure were. He could still feel Raizen’s fighting spirit. But,
“—Well then, let’s go.”
His words came while Leonhart was still thinking about it. But it was the declaration to start their battle, so Leonhart immediately responded to it.
He held his sword in front of him and pointed the tip at Raizen, which further increased the intimidation brought on by the strong fighting will of Raizen.
Then they both spoke. They seemed to speak at the same time, and there was no way to tell who spoke first. Although their words came out together, they each seemed to be responding to the other,
“Don’t die immediately, okay?”
“Sorry, but I won’t hold back from the beginning.”
Their words might have been different, but their intentions were the same.
In the next moment, they rushed toward each other.
Raizen gathered strength in his limbs.
Then he thrust his whole body forward, toward the majin in front of him. He couldn’t help but notice the people who watched their fight from behind the majin. However,
…I don’t have the time to pay attention to them!
He could smell the scents of multiple strong people just beyond the majin. There was even a maou among them.
They were having a duel while such a powerful existence was watching them. It would be a lie to say he didn’t mind their gaze, but he didn’t want to be rude to the opponent in front of him.
Therefore, he focused his attention on Leonhart. The only one he should be paying attention to was the majin in front of him. And his first attack came.
The majin ran toward him in a low posture, and slowly swung his sword.
The distance was still far, so Raizen could easily tell what was coming,
“Is it that slash?!”
It was an attack that was designed to do damage from a distance. The attack hit Raizen’s face and produced a slight impact. Of course, no cut appeared on Raizen.
That kind of attack wasn’t effective against his diamond scale.
So Raizen just ignored the hit and proceeded to dive straight toward the other party.
“You should’ve known that wouldn’t be effective against me…!”
To the majin who was still slashing at him, Raizen spoke words that implied is that all you’ve got?
Raizen thought, It would be impossible for him to defeat me with a slashing attack.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t completely impossible, but it couldn’t be done with a straightforward approach, and the timing to pull it off would be difficult to attain.
It would instead be much faster for the majin to choose another method to defeat him. One such alternative would be magic, but the majin in front of him didn’t seem to use magic.
…So I’m at an advantage…!
That fact hadn’t changed, as usual. The only thing that ever changed was the opponent he faced.
Within his sight, the majin was shifting his body to the side. He was using interwoven feints, both fast and slow.
There was no way his opponent would be foolish enough to just charge straight at him. That majin was using a technique designed to deceive his eyes. It was a delicate movement that used the majin’s human feet,
Perhaps due to their difference in size, the movements of the other party looked very minute to him. Trying to capture every little detail of his movements wasn’t impossible, but it was definitely troublesome.
Raizen eventually managed to catch on to the majin’s movements and shook his right foot. The trajectory of his leg was aimed to tear the majin apart with his claws, if he wasn’t just crushed by the impact.
“—That won’t hit me!”
The majin accelerated a single step and escaped the range of Raizen’s foot. His movement was beyond Raizen’s expectations.
…So he hid his top speed…!
The majin used a lower speed for his normal movements, then disappeared using instant acceleration. It wasn’t a skill the majin could use if he was perpetually moving at his top speed.
There was always a difference between fast and slow speed but, in this majin’s case, the difference between the two was enormous. Moreover, since the majin didn’t use it all the time, it seemed like he disappeared from Raizen’s view whenever he used it. This was how fast that majin was.
The majin wouldn’t give Raizen’s eyes time to adjust to his speed. Raizen responded to the majin, who swung his sword from the side, aiming at Raizen’s feet,
“I told you that won’t work against me…!”
Raizen shook his leg again as he spoke. This time, it was his left foot.
And this time, Raizen exert so much power that it wouldn’t matter if the majin evaded it,
Raizen lowered his stance and lunged forward.
He shifted his trajectory right at the moment he saw the majin was about to move away and dove at him, interrupting his movements. It became a tackle.
The majin seemed to be surprised by his attack, and his eyes were wide as he tried to move away. Raizen chased after him.
…Our top speeds are about the same!
Raizen corrected his trajectory again and slammed his right foot down. However,
“And I told you that won’t hit me!”
The majin accelerated even faster and evaded Raizen’s attack.
“So you could still go faster…! Did you hide your top speed?!”
Raizen asked what he had wondered about earlier. Although it wasn’t by much, the majin had certainly gotten faster.
In other words, compared to the majin, Raizen would be a half, possibly a full step slower.
Despite being in a human body — no, in a majin body, the majin had still managed to surpass Raizen’s physical ability, even if it was just in speed. It was a show of overwhelming technique.
That fact raised Raizen’s opinion of the majin a little higher. It would take a lot of effort for Raizen’s attacks to hit the majin.
However, it appeared that his opponent also lacked a method of wounding him. In that case,
“But I’m still at an advantage…!”
“I wonder about that?!”
The majin shouted this as he bounced in and out of Raizen’s sight, slashing his sword at varying speeds.
…What’s with that? Isn’t that cheating…?!
Ssulal was astonished as she witnessed the dragon species known as diamond dragon and how it fought.
She had been a bit skeptical when she first heard it from Leonhart, but that dragon which was known to be one of the Four Great Saint Dragons was,
“To think he actually possessed intelligence and could fight with technique…!”
“Hm? Now that I think about it, can dragons normally talk like he does?”
“Aah, this is also my first time witnessing a dragon speaking human language.”
Galtia spoke in wonder and Kesselring agreed with him. For the kalar race, who lived at the foot of Rising Dragon Mountain, dragons were more than just a distant existence. She was full of curiosity as she watched the dragon named Raizen.
Seeing such an intelligent dragon was a first for both of them. Of course, this excluded dragons who were turned into majins or apostles.
Behind them was Pale, who had been unsettled since she saw the dragon. As she looked at the scales of the dragon, she asked,
“I-is it true that all those scales, are actually made of diamonds?! If so…”
They all understood what Pale meant to say. The one who answered her was Hunty, who had spoken very little since they started climbing the mountain. She stared at the dragon and muttered with a low voice,
“…Slashing attacks are ineffective. Only magic will work against that dragon. That’s why Leonhart is poorly matched against him.”
Hunty’s words grabbed everyone’s attention. As they watched the battle, Galtia asked lightly.
“? Do you know about that dragon?”
“…Just a little bit.”
“Heeh,” said an impressed Galtia. However, Ssulal had a clue as to why Hunty knew.
She wouldn’t say it in this place. However, perhaps there was some sort of meaning for Hunty herself to give such a hint about it?
Perhaps Hunty didn’t mind it that much, but Ssulal couldn’t know for sure what was going through her head.
However, there was something in Hunty’s gaze and expression. She kept squinting her eyes and staring at them.
Ssulal inwardly agreed with her hypothesis. If all those scales were actually diamonds then,
An anxious voice leaked out of her. The hesitation in Ssulal’s heart grew.
Should she stop or help him now? She was shaken by the idea of him getting hurt. She didn’t want to take chances and ended up losing Leonhart.
Therefore, she should help him if he was losing.
“…Everyone, it’ll all be just fine!”
Carol, the apostle of Leonhart, shouted with confidence.
She proudly puffed her chest and there was no anxiety in her eyes. She continued,
“Leonhart-sama should have a good chance of victory!”
“I-is that so…?”
Pale asked, but she was looking skeptical.
But Carol nodded and added,
“Of course! You can tell by looking at his face.”
With that said, Carol shifted her gaze back to Leonhart, who continued to fight in front of them, with a glittering look. Everyone got drawn in by her certainty and looked toward Leonhart’s face.
There, they saw a fearless smile,
“That face shows that Leonhart-sama is enjoying himself. And it is also the expression that says he is about to try something!”
Having said that, Carol continued watching Leonhart, who was avoiding the dragon’s attacks with a deep smile on his face. Then she raised her voice again,
“Look! He is smiling! Leonhart-sama is definitely about to try something!”
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