NBAA Vol. 2 Chapter 4 Part 3
“So this is the place…it’s huge.”
Reito and Ullr arrived in front of a massive waterfall.
They carefully studied the surroundings: according to Airis, the Minotauros’ lair was located here. There was a cave behind the waterfall, similar to the place Reito and Ullr used as their dwelling.
This cave was not a natural one, however: the Minotauros had dug the cave into the cliff and used it as a lair.
The Minotauros was far more powerful than the Blood Bear: the one that moved to this area actually exterminated a pack of Blood Bears by itself.
On the five-step danger scale for monsters, it was ranked four: normally, a party of rank A adventurers would be needed to take one down.
The reason why Reito went to face such a dangerous opponent was to retrieve the memento of Ullr’s previous caretaker and because he trusted Airis’ advice.
In order to lure the Minotauros out of the cave where it was supposedly hiding, Reito made his resolve and lightly slapped Ullr’s back.
Ullr’s howl echoed in the surroundings.
Reito watched from above, standing on top of the waterfall. The moment he drew his broadsword, a gigantic figure jumped out of the waterfall, spraying water everywhere.
It was a creature with a human-like body and the head of a black bull — the Minotauros. It looked at Reito and Ullr, snorting menacingly.
The Minotauros was about two meters tall, roughly the same size as an Orc, but the intimidating aura it emanated was completely different. Its body was bulging with muscles, like an Ogre; it was covered in black fur, but its limbs looked completely human: the only bull-like feature was its head.
According to Airis, the Minotauros was not a monster, but a member of the Demon species.
Its intellect was superior to normal Goblins: it stripped weapons and armor from its beaten opponents and wore them itself.
The Minotauros facing Reito and Ullr actually had a silver armband hanging from one of its horns. It was armed with an axe made for Giants and had a Mithril chain wrapped around its arm.
Reito recalled Airis’ words of warning.
『Be very careful. This Minotauros was previously used as a “war slave”, a slave forced to fight for its masters. The chain on its arm was used to restrain it, but now it uses it as a weapon. The axe is a special magic tool, so do not think you can destroy it physically.』
Reito, facing the clearly fearsome opponent, gripped his broadsword tighter.
The Minotauros looked down at Reito, ready to swing his broadsword, and the growling Ullr. After a closer look at the latter, however, it stopped moving.
Reito found it unusual and observed the creature’s movements: the Minotauros slowly reached for its head — for the silver bracelet on its horn. It took it off and flung it on the ground.
The Minotaurus’ inexplicable behavior left Reito and Ullr puzzled.
Just like that, the bull Demon turned around and left.
Reito stood speechless for a few moments, but Ullr turned towards the Magic Ring and sniffed it.
Ullr took the Magic Ring in his mouth, then looked at the Minotauros’ back. In his eyes brimmed both anger and sadness.
Reito, still confused by the Minotauros’ actions,wrapped his arms around Ullr and held him tightly.
While looking at the Minotauros walk away, Reito called Airis.
『Phew…you were lucky, you two. That Minotauros remembered Ullr, apparently.』
『What exactly happened?』
『The Minotauros let you go, as you can see. It still remembers the Elf it fought against four years ago.』
Airis explained that Minotauros were extremely belligerent, but also had a sort of warrior’s pride: they took the gear and items from the opponents they defeated as a gesture of respect.
Thanks to the Minotauros’ high intellect, it still remembered Mille, the female Elf it fought against four years prior. She was defeated, but the Minotauros took the Magic Ring from her as a sign of respect for her strength.
Minotauros do not lay their hands on the weak.
They only fight against opponents they deem strong enough. In fact, when it fought and killed Ullr’s parents it did not do anything to the weak newborn Ullr.
This time too, the Minotauros did not fight because it did not see them as worthy opponents. If they were strong enough to pose a threat, the Minotauros would have attacked without a second thought.
As a result, Reito successfully retrieved the memento of Ullr’s caretaker, but felt defeated.
Reito and Ullr watched the Minotauros go, resenting their own weakness.
Reito called the frustrated Ullr and left, before the Minotauros changed its mind.
Ullr turned around and looked back several times, but ultimately could only follow Reito. He clenched the Magic Ring in his mouth.
Their primary objective cleared, Reito and Ullr returned to their old cave dwelling.
The reason why they did not immediately leave the forest was to check the Magic Ring’s powers: the forest was a suitable place for training. In order to see how the Magic Ring could be used in battle, Reito decided to spend the night in the cave.
“Yaawn…it’s been a while since I last woke up here…”
“Whoa! So that’s the sound you make when you yawn…?”
Reito got up from the makeshift bed, with Ullr as a pillow. Usually, Ullr got up first and woke him up, but this time they woke up at the same time.
The Magic Ring retrieved from the Minotauros was on Reito’s left arm.
He looked at the accessory and counted eight slots.
The Magic Ring was a tool used to reinforce the user’s magic: its true powers manifested only when Magic Stones were set in the slots.
At present, Reito put the Barrier Stone he found in the abandoned village in the slot. He had a Decay Stone too, but using it would have caused Ullr discomfort, so he didn’t.
『How do you use the Barrier Stone…? Airis?』
『You need to place a finger on the writing engraved on the stone and chant a spell. In that Barrier Stone’s case, the chant is “Shield”.』
Reito uttered the chant, as per Airis’ instructions.
A green barrier formed from the Magic Ring, creating a 50 cm wide round shield. Reito tried touching it and his finger was repelled by the rubber-like shield.
“Hmm, pretty cool…! But it works only if I put a finger on the stone…? It’ll be hard to use it in battle…”
*lap lap lap*
“H-hey, no licking!! This isn’t candy!”
Ullr started licking the green shield, so Reito hurriedly stopped him.
The Magic Tool was a bit tricky to use, but it could repel physical attacks, so if Reito figured out how to use it effectively, it could be very useful.
Reito then recalled his initial objective.
“Three more days…if I don’t get stronger quickly, Bal will die…”
“I know, I’m not whining.”
Reito only knew Bal for a couple weeks, but she had been of great help to him. He couldn’t just let her die like that.
He was also the reason why she was doomed to meet her death, so Reito felt guilty.
“I have to master that sword skill, first of all.”
Reito activated a Support Magic spell and the stone on his new Magic Ring glowed, as a white light surged from his body.
Reito confirmed the new effect and swung his broadsword, not without some hesitation.
As he poured the strength of all of his muscles in the slash, the broadsword created a powerful wind pressure.
Both offensive power and speed were much higher than before. The swing was also much wider than before, however, creating a larger opening.
“Hmm…Strike Blade is strong, but it’ll take a while before I get used to it…”
“A fast opponent like Ullr could easily dodge it too. The same weakness as Spin Strike…”
Reito rubbed Ullr’s head, deep in thought.
Spin Strike was a Battle Art that involved slashing the enemy while spinning, as the name said. If the rotation was stopped before hitting the enemy there would be no point in using it; every rotation raised speed and power, but blocking or avoiding attacks became impossible.
“Strike Blade is fast from the start, since I just concentrate on a single slash, but it’s weaker than Spin Strike…wait…from the start…?”
An idea suddenly flashed in Reito’s mind.
The toll on his body would be great, but by equipping the Magic Ring and using Muscle Boost he might be able to endure it. Reito tried it out immediately.
“Ullr, stay back…I might hit you.”
“It’s just a little test.”
Ullr moved to a safe place and Reito readied his broadsword.
Strike Blade, fast from the beginning, and Spin Strike, faster and stronger with every rotation. Together, these two skills should create a very powerful Battle Art.
Reito activated Muscle Boost first.
Reito performed several horizontal sweeps for practice.
When he felt ready, he performed Strike Blade and Spin Strike at the same time.
Reito swung the broadsword with great momentum, but in the same instant a jolt of pain ran through his body. He couldn’t help but let go of the hilt.
Reito fell down on the ground, as the broadsword clattered in the opposite direction.
He nodded to the worried Ullr and stood back up, looking at his hurting arms with a frown.
“Ow ow ow…it didn’t work, huh…using two Battle Arts at the same time isn’t easy, after all. It doesn’t seem impossible, though.”
“I’m fine, don’t worry. I have to do this much, or I’m never going to win…”
Reito’s next opponent surpassed him greatly in sword skills, and he knew it well. A fighting style incorporating magic was necessary to win.
Reito tried using Muscle Boost and then activating Gravity Blade.
“I have to reduce the burden as much as I can…okay.”
He picked up his broadsword and let the crimson magic power fill the blade completely. Thanks to the gravity manipulation, he could swing the broadsword very lightly.
Reito swung again, activating the two Battle Arts simultaneously, but once again the pain was too much: the broadsword dropped from his hands.
“I’m fine, I’ve started figuring it out. I’m not going to stop until I figure it out…”
Reito healed his aching muscles with Recovery Boost, then thought for a while.
He realized that one of the reasons why he let go of the broadsword was his lacking grip strength. He then decided to improve his physical abilities through this training.
Reito thus started swinging, again and again.
He did not simply swing the broadsword: he stepped forward with decisive momentum and poured all of his muscles in the swing.
Eventually, he became able to swing the broadsword faster than ever. His balance also remained stable after the swing, his form cleaner.
<Combination Battle Art “Spin Strike Blade” acquired>
“Oh, I learned something. Hm? Combination?”
The “new skill acquired” window appeared before Reito’s eyes.
The skill category was a new one for him, however: “Combination” Battle Art. It was not a Craft Skill, but a unique category of skills born from the combination of multiple Battle Arts.
“Spin Strike Blade!”
Reito tested the new skill immediately: he could swing his broadsword much faster than before, as the sound of sliced air echoed in the cave.
The skill drained more energy than other Battle Arts: after activating it Reito fell to his knees, panting.
He was far from mastering it, but it would definitely turn out to be very powerful.
“Okay, might as well try it with other Battle Arts too. Let’s see, Helmet Smasher and Strike Blade…but first, a bit of rest.”
*lap lap lap*
“H-hey, I’m dirty now — hahaha!”
Ullr came closer and started licking Reito’s face, so the boy realized his partner was worried about him. He rubbed Ullr’s head until he calmed down.
Reito tried combining all the four Battle Arts he knew, learning new skills one after the other.