NBAA Vol. 2 Chapter 4 Part 5
Reito and Ullr, back in Faas village, were resting in the horse carriage.
Reito could finally sleep in a warm blanket after days of camping, so he felt completely rejuvenated: when he woke up, it was already past noon.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll start cooking…we’re having boar meat tonight.”
Ullr jumped at Reito as soon as he got out of the blanket. Reito patted his head, then took out ingredients and cooking utensils from his Storage subspace and started cooking.
Thanks to Fireball, he could start a fire even without wood. He used the seasonings he recently bought at the market, put meat and vegetables in the pot, and started cooking the stew.
“No, Ullr. You know you have to wait for it to cool a bit before you can eat.”
Ullr looked at Reito with pleading eyes, but he couldn’t eat food when it was still hot, so Reito instructed him to wait.
In the meantime, Reito finished his meal and checked the state of his tools. He then searched the nearby houses for any useful items.
“It’s been a while since the Goblin attack…there isn’t much to left here anymore.”
Compared to the day when Reito first visited the village, now there were clear signs that outsiders, probably thieves, had gone through any valuables.
There were little to no daily necessities: only shattered plates or broken chairs remained.
Thanks to his Alchemist skills, Reito could repair and put to use many of the items, so he collected a fair volume of tools from the empty houses.
In his first visit, he was interrupted by the arrival of Nao and her knights, so he couldn’t search the village thoroughly, but this time he found useful tools.
“Okay, this is the last one…now I can only hope that the plan goes well…”
“What’s wrong, Ullr? Hm…?”
Reito left the house and Ullr ran up to him. He whined sadly, rubbing his face against Reito’s body.
Reito looked in the direction Ullr came from and found a large man, wolfing down the contents of Reito’s stew pot.
“Nghah…! So good!!”
“Whoa!? Who are you!?!”
Reito immediately drew his broadsword, but the man seemed not to notice: he lifted the pot and poured the remaining stew in his mouth.
The man was much larger than Reito: there was no doubt that he was a Giant.
The Giant emptied the pot and set it down, satisfied. His face smeared in stew, he rubbed his belly pleasantly.
“That was really good…”
“Why thank you.”
Reito instinctively thanked the large man, who reacted with utter surprise.
“…!! Who are you?”
Ullr’s bark was a loud and clear “that’s our line!!”.
The man looked at Reito and Ullr, then at the empty pot, then at them again. He nodded to himself, then prostrated on the ground.
“I’m very sorry!!”
Reito and Ullr were taken aback by the Giant’s behavior. His face pressed against the ground, the man continued to apologize.
Reito and Ullr looked at each other and decided to listen to his story first.
The Giant’s name was Gonzo. He too was an adventurer: he had taken the extermination request of certain crustacean-type monsters near the village of Faas.
Gonzo successfully disposed of the monsters, but he suffered a grave wound in the battle and lost all of his food and water supplies.
He somehow managed to go back to Faas on foot, but he almost collapsed from hunger. At that exact time, the smell of stew tickled his nostrils…before he realized it, he was already stuffing his mouth.
Gonzo said he would pay for the food, so Reito activated his Storage magic and gave him a great quantity of dried meat.
“I’m really sorry…to both of you.”
Gonzo apologized to Ullr too for eating their food without permission, but Ullr barked at him not to worry.
After receiving the food from Reito, Gonzo took out a leather satchel filled with bronze coins.
“I’m sorry, this is all I have at the moment. If I go back to the guild, I can receive the reward for the request, but…right, want to go together?”
“No, I have other things to do…besides we will move with our carriage, don’t worry about it.”
“Got it…I’m a D rank adventurer in the Fang Dragon guild, by the way. If I can help you in any way, come visit anytime.”
“Fang Dragon…okay, I’ll remember that.”
Reito shook hands with Gonzo and they talked a bit more.
『Oh, you have made a Giant friend?』
『Yeah…despite his looks, he’s younger than me, actually.』
Reito had opened communication with Airis. She was supposed to know everything about this world, so he found it strange that she seemed not to know Gonzo’s age. He boarded the horse carriage and headed for the Ymir coal mine: thanks to Ullr’s speed, they would arrive before sunset.
The Ymir coal mine was the current location of the pro-empire faction officer Gain. According to Airis, he chose to wait there for Bal to find him.
『He apparently knows of Bal’s movements too. This is the best chance: his subordinates won’t arrive at the mine until tomorrow morning. Until then, he will be alone.』
『I see…can I really win against him, though?』
『You can always give up on the whole plan.』
『Not a chance.』
『I knew you’d say that…anyway, you have memorized the method I told you about, yes?』
Airis had already given Reito information about Gain: he knew about Gain’s sword skills and his relationship with Bal in detail.
Gain had acquired the Unsheathe Battle Art, something few swordsmen ever attained. He had brutally slaughtered hundreds of people with that skill alone. He also had the habit of slicing his victims to shreds as much as possible before killing them, relishing in the pain he inflicted.
『And he’s a Vampire to boot…should I get some garlic or a cross for protection?』
『The vampires in your world seem to be weak against such things, but unfortunately the Vampires here are unaffected.』
『W-wait a second…do vampires really exist in my former world?』
『Indeed they do. They don’t attack people, as you seem to be worried about, though. They operate hospitals and obtain blood from humans under the guise of blood donations.』
『Whoa…so that doctor who took a sample of my blood in elementary, even if I cried and complained, was a vampire too…』
『I wonder…that world is not under my jurisdiction, so I don’t know such detailed information…』
Reito closed the communication with Airis and reviewed the strategy for the battle against Gain. He was also going to use the skill he practiced so much in the Abyssal Forest in a battle for the first time.
“Okay…we have to do this.”
Reito steeled his resolve. At the same time, Ullr stopped running: they had finally arrived at the Ymir coal mine. They were going to proceed on foot from that point.
Reito equipped the Magic Ring and Cleansing Blade, then started climbing the mountain path.
“…it’s really dark.”
It was not their first visit to the Ymir mine, but they felt a different kind of nervousness this time.
Ullr perceived the eerie atmosphere and seemed unusually intimidated, as he followed behind Reito.
“Ullr…you can stay here, buddy.”
Ullr barked back angrily and whacked Reito’s back with his front paws.
Smiling wryly at his partner’s reaction, Reito gripped his broadsword tighter. He activated the Assassin skills Soundless Walk, Stealth, Detect Presence and Seal Presence before proceeding further.
“…crap, I want to go home.”
Once they arrived on the mountain’s summit, Reito and Ullr felt the killing intent.
The smell of blood already filled the air.
On the mountaintop excavation site, corpses were strewn everywhere, all sliced to ribbons.
Only their heads were perfectly preserved, all in a line. Among the human heads, there were Goblin-like heads as well.
Near the entrance to the mine, a body — probably Basil’s — was hung on a cross. It was the only corpse whose head had not been cut off, but there were slash wounds all over the body.
Reito put a hand over his mouth and looked away.
“I heard about it already, but…it’s too horrible.”
The instant Reito tried to contact Airis, in order to know the exact whereabouts of the person responsible for the carnage — someone whispered behind his back.
Reito turned around immediately after he heard the whisper, but there was no one to be seen. The voice was then heard from atop a nearby boulder.
“Who would you two be…? Surely you are not just passing by.”
Reito looked in the direction of the voice and found a young boy with delicate, handsome features and physique.
He looked like a pretty boy, but the aura he emanated was more oppressing than an Ogre.
The situation was evidently dangerous: the battle could start at any moment.
“So you’re Gain.”
“Oh…if you know who I am, there really is no chance you are just a passing adventurer…”
“A White Wolf…how filthy.”
Gain had an expectant look on his face when he spoke to Reito, but it became a frown when he turned towards Ullr.
Gain was positively interested towards humans, but with other living beings it was the complete opposite.
He reached for his sword, but —
“Not so fast! Flame Bullet!”
Reito realized Gain was going to attack Ullr, so he shot a globe of fire like a cannonball. Gain, however, dodged it with little effort.
Reito’s Flame Bullet was a combination of Fireball, Wind Pressure and Magic Power Boost.
The fireball blew past Gain and crashed against the boulder behind him.
The impact was so strong Gain went wide-eyed for a moment, then started clapping.
“Impressive…! I have never seen this spell before! You’re something, boy!”
“Why thank you! Flame Blade!”
Reito judged that he couldn’t target Gain precisely with Flame Bullet, so he activated Flame Blade, which had a wider target range, and shot the flaming crescent blade at Gain.
Gain, however, activated Leap, lightly hopping from boulder to boulder, moving all around Reito.
“I’m right here~”
“Damn you…don’t look down on me!!”
Gain continued jumping around, toying with Reito and Ullr.
Even if they tried changing to a more favorable location, Gain jumped ahead of them, so they couldn’t move at all.
Reito could use Leap too, but Gain was much faster: he moved almost instantly, appearing behind Reito in the blink of an eye.
“You are a Magician, yes? You should know that you cannot compete with me, then. You’re not fast enough.”
Reito and Ullr deliberately voiced their irritation.
They continued chasing after Gain, eventually stopping as they were standing back to back. It was their first battle against an opponent that surpassed them in speed.
“Shit…how about this, then!!”
“…what are you trying to do?”
Reito pressed his palm at the ground and the boulder Gain used as a foothold started changing abnormally.
A ripple-like vibration expanded with Reito at the center. The boulder crumbled and Gain quickly jumped down on the ground: just as he did, Reito released his palm.
“What was that?”
“Earth Block…basic grade magic.”
Reito used Earth Block to manipulate the terrain and cause a small-scale quake.
As a result, all the boulders around them crumbled and fell, removing any stable footholds for Gain to use.
“Now we’re on the same field…right?”
“Haha, I wonder…I cannot use the boulders as foothold anymore, but that goes for you too.”
Gain looked at the cracked ground at his feet and furrowed his brow. He did not lose his composure, however, as he approached Reito and Ullr.
“The time for games is over…I’m going to cut you down.”
“Oh really…do your worst.”
Reito and Ullr felt Gain’s unbridled killing intent and prepared to fight back.
The battle had become a pure duel to the death.
Reito drew his Cleansing Blade: a broadsword made with the strongest metal of his former world. He thought back to his training in the Abyssal Forest.
Strike Blade, a skill passed to him by the one person who defeated Gain in the past. Reito had used it as a base to craft a new skill.
The secret behind Strike Blade was to use all of the body’s muscles when swinging the sword. Reito activated a Support magic spell to boost his physical abilities.
Gain looked at Reito and stopped in his tracks.
Only Support Magicians used Support magic: learning that his opponent was a hopeless Job holder, Gain was first surprised, then utterly dejected.
Gain’s interest in Reito vanished completely: he moved to finish the battle then and there. He placed a hand on the hilt of his katana and activated his characteristic Battle Art.
Reito activated the Barrier Stone on his Magic Ring and defended himself against Gain’s katana with the green shield. It was extremely effective at blocking physical attacks, as Gain realized with great surprise.
Ullr jumped at Gain, taking advantage of the opening, but the Vampire jumped backwards to dodge.
Reito managed to parry Gain’s attack, but could not nullify the impact and was forced to let go of his Cleansing Sword.
“I see, you have a Barrier Stone with you…there is no point if you can only protect your arm, though. This is the end.”
Gain smiled at the defenseless Reito. He put his katana back in the scabbard and prepared to use Unsheathe again, when—
“Don’t be so sure!!”
Reito took a small satchel hanging at his waist and threw it at Gain.
Gain reflexively reacted to the unexpected attack by slicing the satchel, which contained a Decay Stone ground into dust.
Gain was showered with the dust and screamed.
“GWAAHHHHH! THIS SMELL…!!”
Gain’s arrogance and confidence were completely gone: he rolled and writhed on the ground.
Decay Stones were harmless to humans, but monsters loathed the stench they emanated. Demons possessed both human and monster traits: the Vampire Gain was no exception.
Reito remembered that Basil used ground monster feces to incapacitate Ullr. He asked Airis for advice and ground the Decay Stone into dust and stuffed it into a satchel.
Incidentally, Ullr was not as affected by the Decay Stone thanks to training he received from his former caretaker, the female Elf Mille. Regular monsters would run away at the smell of a Decay Stone.
“Ullr, stay away!”
“Damn you…!! The smell…I can’t…!!”
Gain dropped his weapon to cover his face. Reito did not pick up his own weapon and faced him unarmed.
He stepped forward with good momentum, rotated and accelerated his sole, ankle, knee, hips, abdomen, torso, shoulder and elbow, in that order, and struck with his fist.
Reito’s fist hit the helpless Gain in the face and sent him flying.
Reito, however, felt something was off when his fist made contact. Gain had jumped backwards right before impact, to reduce it.
Reito picked up his Cleansing Sword and prepared for Gain’s counter offensive.
“Tch…how dare you…!!”
Gain manipulated a thread to retrieve his katana. The katana, scabbard and Gain’s waist were connected with a kind of wire, apparently.
Gain glared at Reito, his handsome features marred by tears and snot.
“You’re dead…you’re dead!!!”
“Hey, calm down…is this the real you?”
Gain stretched his hand towards the hilt of the katana and prepared to use Unsheathe again, but Reito’s broadsword was faster.
Reito, using the same muscular movement needed for Strike Blade, activated his signature Spin Strike.
“Spin Strike Blade!”
Reito powerfully stomped the ground and swept his broadsword horizontally.
The slash was not only much faster than the regular Spin Strike, it also carried all of Reito’s muscular power as it struck Gain. He had achieved maximum speed from the first rotation.
Gain activated a defensive Battle Art and tried parrying the broadsword with his scabbard, but could not stop the broadsword’s momentum: his skin was torn and shredded, spurting blood.
Reito frowned, but did not relent and stepped forward again.
Reito gripped his broadsword tight so as not to drop it, then swung it down in a vertical slash.
Helmet Smasher was the combination of Helmet Splitter and Strike Blade.
The muscular movement of Strike Blade, paired with Helmet Splitter, the Battle Art Reito was most proficient with, formed Helmet Smasher: the speed of this slash was even higher than Reito’s previous attack.
Gain, holding his arm, managed to dodge the attack by a hair’s breadth, but the wind displaced by the slash blew him backwards, as the ground at their feet caved in.
Gain stumbled and fell backwards, but Reito endured the impact with both arms and went on to attack again.
“I’m not done yet!!”
“DAMN YOU, BRAT!!”
Gain raged at Reito’s unrelenting offensive. He needed to be standing on the ground with both legs to use Unsheathe, however. Before he could stand back up, Reito unleashed the final skill he acquired during his training in the Abyssal Forest.
It was the Battle Art born from the combination of Whirlwind and Strike Blade. The sound of the blade cutting through the air and Gain’s screams echoed throughout the mines: the next instant, the earth shook with a tremendous impact.
Reito cursed under his breath.
His Cleansing Blade had cut into Gain’s abdomen, but he had not stepped forward with enough strength: the blade failed to completely sever his opponent’s body.
Reito had learned the skill only recently, his muscles were nearing their limit — and he hesitated before delivering the killing blow.
Despite the blade deeply lodged into his stomach, Gain had not lost consciousness: he glared at Reito as he spat blood, then tried to draw the katana at his waist.
Gain drew his blade in a flash and sliced Reito’s left cheek.
His katana, an enchanted weapon called Crimson Devil Blade, could increase in hardness by absorbing fresh blood.
Reito did not stagger, however, and readied his Cleansing Blade.
Reito used the Alchemist skill Shape Change to make the blade of his Cleansing Sword vibrate at high speed. As a result, the sword tore deeper into Gain’s body.
Gain, his bloodshot eyes open wide, swung around his katana in a desperate attempt to counter.
Reito ignored his opponent’s frantic attacks and swung his Cleansing Sword to the end, slicing through Gain’s torso with good momentum.
Gain’s torso presented a large, gaping gash.
A torrent of blood sprayed from the wound, but his upper and lower body were still attached.
Reito activated Leap to put some distance between him and his opponent.
“S..shit…!! My…my body…!!”
“You’re still alive…? What a monster…”
Gain stood up, holding his body together: the next instant, a cloud of red smoke surrounded him.
Vampires had excellent recovery capabilities, which could be boosted further by absorbing the blood of other living creatures.
Gain took out a vial he kept hidden in his clothes and poured the human blood inside on his torso.
Recovery did not come without pain, apparently. Gain endured the sealing of the wound on his torso, a grimace of pain on his face.
Reito looked at the process, a tense look on his face, but did not lose the opportunity to use Recovery Boost on himself.
“Phew…you won’t get away with this…I’ll definitely kill you…!!”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that already…Ice Blade Bullet!”
Before his opponent could fully recover, Reito created Ice Block blades and shot them, but Gain swung his Crimson Devil Blade, fast enough to draw afterimages in the air, and shattered all of Reito’s ice blades.
For a moment, Reito thought Gain had created several blades out of thin air.
Airis had told him in advance about Gain’s skill to create countless blade afterimages, but witnessing it in person made him have cold sweats.
He could not track the movements of those blades with his eyes: if he locked swords with Gain without a plan, he would be surely torn to pieces.
“You’ve finally used it…but you need a stable foothold to use that skill, don’t you!?”
Reito put his palm on the ground and activated Earth Block.
The Battle Art Vision Blade required both arms to move at high speed and high concentration: if the user’s attention was drawn to something else, even for an instant, it was not possible to maintain it.
Reito used Earth Block to depress the ground at Gain’s feet, forcing him to deactivate Vision Blade.
Gain emerged from the pit and sheathed his katana, ready to use his Unsheathe skill. He drew a deep breath and glared at Reito.
“To see through my Vision Blade like that…who exactly are you?”
“Someone who has no reason to answer you…”
“In that case…it’s over, die.”
“No point in threats. Your sword range isn’t limitless, is it?”
Unsheathe, just like Vision Blade, could only cut the opponent in a fixed range. In other words, Reito could not be cut as long as he stayed out of Gain’s range.
The wound on Gain’s left eye was caused by Bal when she realized such a weakness.
“Which one of us has the longer blade, now?”
“…what are you saying?”
“You’ll see soon enough…Gravity Blade.”
Crimson magic power surged from Reito’s fist. He held his broadsword directly in front of himself. Gain prepared to counterattack and grinned.
He was genuinely enjoying the battle.
At first, Gain was interested in Reito because his sword techniques resembled Bal’s.
Reito’s skill with the sword, however, was far inferior to hers, and he even used a moronic diversion with the Decay Stone dust. Gain decided to get rid of him immediately but was unexpectedly pushed to a disadvantage.
Gain was foiled time and again by Reito’s ability to read his strategies. He even risked being cleaved in half at one point.
The more Gain was cornered, the more his interest in Reito grew. Even if he taunted him, Gain gained some respect for the young and immature swordsman.
Reito had apparently already figured out the weak point of Unsheathe and Vision Blade, but Gain didn’t care anymore.
He was now simply excited to see what move Reito was going to show him next.
“Come at me…!!”
Gain, his Crimson Devil Blade still in the scabbard, did not move an inch. Reito, on the other hand, held his broadsword tight, to calm himself down.
Crimson magic power surged from Reito’s arms: he enhanced his physical abilities to the max and stepped forward.
Reito stepped forcefully on the ground and swung his Cleansing Blade.
Looking at his movements, Gain felt all of his expectations had been betrayed. He looked intently at Reito’s blade as it came swinging down and moved his right hand, placed on his katana’s hilt.
One year before, Gain had lost his left eye to Bal’s sword.
Gain lost because Bal attacked from outside his sword’s range. Unsheathe and Vision Blade couldn’t reach her.
Bal’s broadsword was far longer than the katana he wielded at the time.
She attacked from outside Gain’s range, ultimately wounding his left eye, without giving Gain a chance to counterattack.
Gain’s current opponent was using the exact same strategy.
Gain drew his sword from the scabbard: at the same time, he moved one step forward.
After the defeat against Bal, Gain had analyzed his weakness and acquired a new skill, an evolution of Unsheathe.
He took the stance to use Unsheathe and moved forward.
That skill, Sliding Step, could be used to counterattack by surprise an opponent convinced to be outside of Gain’s range.
“ — Unsheathe!”
Gain approached Reito, as the latter was bringing down his broadsword, and drew his katana.
Reito, however, did not fear his opponent’s offensive.
He focused on his hands gripping the broadsword and activated a Support spell.
“Magic Power Boost!!”
The next instant, the crimson magic power surrounding Reito’s Cleansing Blade glowed brighter, accelerating the sword’s downward swing. Magic Power Boost had reinforced the gravity pull on the blade and raised its speed.
(To be able to go so far…incredible!)
Gain’s reaction to Reito’s attack, however, was euphoric. He had lived over a century but had never met a human being that fought like Reito.
Gain was entranced by the blade approaching his neck.
In his eyes, Reito’s broadsword descended on him little by little, as if in slow motion.
If Gain concentrated fully, any kind of attack became excruciatingly slow to him.
He then spoke to Reito, out of pity.
“It was fun, but now it’s really over.”
Those words could not reach Reito, however. Gain gripped his Crimson Devil Blade and swung it, targeting Reito’s torso.
The katana moved much faster than Reito’s broadsword ever could. The instant before Reito’s torso was sliced open — a sharp pain struck Gain’s back.
Gain turned around: a short sword had sunk deep into his back.
His concentration broke, and Reito’s movements accelerated.
The Cleansing Blade tore into Gain’s right shoulder, cutting through the Vampire’s flesh.
The Cleansing Blade had fully severed Gain’s body this time.
Gain let go of the Crimson Devil Blade, which flew over Reito as he crouched after swinging the Cleansing Blade.
Gain, his body torn in two halves, watched Reito as he slumped to the floor, together with his broadsword.
Even with his body torn from the right shoulder down, Gain laughed loudly.
On the other hand, Reito — despite his successful attack — was terribly pale. He looked up and found Gain smiling broadly.
“I can be…human…again…”
An innocent, boyish smile formed on Gain’s lips — as a cloud of red smoke erupted from his body.
The Vampire’s body shriveled and shrunk, as if dozens of years of aging had their effects in seconds.
Eventually, Gain’s severed body collapsed on the ground.
Gain drew his last breath with a smile.
He had lived with the pain of loving humans, yet being forced to make them suffer. He was thus grateful to be finally released from such a cycle of suffering.
It was also true that Gain found pleasure in murder: he had not been always like that, however.
Gain had begun to kill in order to survive.
If he didn’t take the blood of other living beings, he could not live on. Bound by such a fate, he continued to kill more and more.
His personality was eventually twisted, by all the lives he took and the murders he committed: he ended up replacing the guilt with pleasure. That was how he kept his sanity as a Vampire.
Somewhere in his heart, however, he wished to be saved. He would have never expected for that to happen at the hands of a young man he had just met, though…
“…did we win?”
In response to Reito’s question, Ullr howled loudly.
Reito looked at his broadsword, looking for Gain’s blood. The blood too, just like Gain’s corpse, had turned into red smoke.
The blood of Vampires, for unknown reasons, disappeared once it left their bodies.
Reito put back his broadsword and touched the wound on his cheek.
He was an opponent much more powerful than anyone Reito had ever faced. His sword skills were superlative: the battle against him would become a significant experience for Reito.
“Let’s go back.”
Reito and his partner Ullr climbed down the mountain. They did not want to see that place again.
Reito, exhausted, entrusted his body to Ullr, and the two left the Ymir coal mines.