NBAA Vol. 4 Chapter 3 Part 2
Bal came inside the room.
“Oh, Your Highness. May I borrow him for a moment?”
“That’s fine by me.”
Bal pulled Reito out of the treatment room.
Bal bowed politely to Nao before closing the door and facing Reito.
“So, you’re doing a hospital visit?”
“Yeah, you could say so. She looks a lot better, but she is itching to get revenge on the Rotten Dragon.”
“Of course… I haven’t told you our strategy plan yet, right?”
The subjugation corps planned to leave today and attack the Rotten Dragon tomorrow morning. Only a select few adventurers had been told the plan in advance and of the Black Tiger members, only Reito had heard.
“How’s everyone doing? Everything okay?”
“No one is calm in this situation. Everyone besides you is getting ready. They’re waiting at the southern gate, so go help them.”
“Got it. What will you be doing?”
“I want to persuade the princess one more time. But, she won’t listen to me, so we have to just leave her behind. Why do I have to tell her that revenge is meaningless?”
Reito requested something from Bal.
“Bal, I’m sorry but when you finish with that, can you help me with something?”
“What in the world could be at a time like this?”
“There’s a move I want to test. You seem like the kind of person who wouldn’t die even if I killed you, so I think you’ll be fine.”
“What does that mean!! You wanna test a new battle skill? Alrighty, then.”
Bal confusedly agreed and went into the treatment room. After a while, she came back out, and the two made their way to the sparring ground.
No one was at the sparring ground. Reito and Bal got their swords at the ready. Reito implemented the Iceclad Sword as well and was going to use two swords.
“When did you become a dual swordsman?”
“Recently… I think? If you get used to it, it comes in handy.”
“Do you think that cheapass sword will work on me? Although, given that it’s you…” Bal said, and her facial expression changed. She knew she couldn’t be careless.
Reito dodged the attack by redirecting the blow of the longsword with the Iceclad Sword in his left hand.
Bal was flustered and retreated a little. She was in a cold sweat that Reito had so easily been able to dodge her attack.”
“You parried that too easily. I knew you were a fast learner… But you’ve gotten a little overpowered.”
“Of course. You’re afraid if you pull all the stops on a child like me, you’ll kill me… Ahh!!”
In the middle of the conversation, Bal picked up the sword and swung it.
The speed and force of the swing sent dust rising in the air like smoke. Reito couldn’t see.
“I’m over here.”
Bal planned to conceal herself in the dust flying around and attack him, but all of a sudden Reito was behind her.
She was surprised, but she swung her sword behind her. This time they were repelled by two swords.
“Ngh!? When did you get this strong!?”
Bal had many years of experience, so she surmised that he was using “Shrink Ground.” “Shrink Ground” is an extraordinarily difficult skill, and only top swordsmen could learn it.
Reito adjusted his Iceclad Sword and Extermination Blade, facing Bal.
“I’m over here.”
“Ho, ho! Bravo!! Now come attack!!”
She was excited at her pupil’s sudden growth.
Reito was calm and he avoided his body getting stiff. He loosened up and grabbed the longsword and broadsword again.
After that, the noise of metal clanking could be heard in the sparring ground a number of times.
Sparks flew as their swords clashed. The two of them forgot they were fighting for practice and were trying to cut each other’s heads off.
“You almost killed me!” Bal barely managed to dodge Reito’s attack. She smiled and used another battle skill.
Reito managed to parry her attack again, but he grimaced. The attack she had done just now was clearly a weak one.
—Let’s talk about Bal.
She is the Black Tiger guildmaster. She’s a swordsman warrior. Level 65.
In this world, people greater than Level 70 are called heroes regardless of profession. She was near level 70, so she was considered as having a foot in the realm of heroes.
There are times when it’s harder or easier to raise your level. It’s easiest to raise it from your 10’s to your 20’s. Once you’re in your late 20’s, it becomes extraordinarily difficult.
She became a guildmaster at a young age, but if she hadn’t, there’s no doubt she would be a hero.
Bal became a guildmaster to get revenge on the vampire Gain who had killed her parents.
As such, there was a time when she belonged to the Hailstorm guild. Part of the reason she joined the guild was out of respect for the lady who raised her in place of her real parents – Maria.
While she worked as an adventurer, she gathered information about Gain.
However, once Maria knew Bal’s real goal, she told her she didn’t want to do something as meaningless as going after revenge. She told her to stop pursuing Gain.
She was indignant and left the guild. She was asked to take over the Black Tiger guild and became its new master.
After she became a guildmaster, she used her connections from when she was an adventurer to gather people. She continued collecting information on Gain.
As a result, she was almost able to run into Gain a number of times, but he always got away.
She wasn’t sure what her life was about. But, thanks to the people who loved her, she was able to get back on her feet. She was thrilled someone was closing in on her abilities like Reito.
—Back to the fight.
“Strike Blade!!” their voices overlapped, and their swords collided. Thinking about profession and level, Bal should have been stronger, but Reito was able to repel her attack head-on.
“When did you get this!?” Bal was shocked.
“I’m not finished.”
Reito had reinforced his physical strength with magic and lunged with his sword.
As their swords crossed, Bal’s suspicions were confirmed.
Reito’s attacks got stronger and faster the more they fought, and before she knew it, Bal had been blown back.
Reito let go of his Iceclad Sword and clutched the Extermination Blade. He rushed toward Bal.
At that moment, Bal noticed that Reito’s eyes had turned red, and she ascertained her prediction was correct.
“Are those, demon eyes…!?”
Realizing it would be dangerous to take the brunt of Reito’s attack, she immediately dropped her sword.
When Bal’s broadsword touched Reito’s Extermination blade, it broke in half.
Bal let out an out-of-character scream. Reito was puzzled by the strange feeling in his hand and stabbed the broad sword into the ground. His eye color turned back to normal. Both of them cooled down as if ice water had been poured on their heads.
“What are you doing? Are you trying to kill me? That was dangerous!!”
“I-, I’m sorry. I was in a groove and… I’m surprised with myself.”
“You went and broke my sword.”
Bal complained to Reito who had been able to easily destroy the precious mithril sword that she had used for years. She got up.
She had an inkling about what was going on in Reito’s body.
“Reito, did you kill someone? Someone close to you?”
“Based on that response… I was on the money. Who did you kill?”
Reito stiffened at Bal’s surprising question. She sighed and picked up the broken sword.
Based on Bal’s tone of voice, she wasn’t criticizing Reito.
“Your swordsmanship wasn’t the same as usual. I’ve seen it somewhere… You’ve gotten the title of Sword Demon, haven’t you?”
“How did you…”
I have fought with a few people with the title of Sword Demon. You have similar fighting styles.”
Bal sat down and gestured to Reito to sit as well. Reito looked at her.
“Tell me what happened. It’ll help,” she said.
“First, tell me why you knew I was a Sword Demon. I want to know what Sword Demon entails.”
“A little bargaining, eh? Good by me.”
Bal folded her arms and thought about Reito’s question before saying one word.
“Sword Demon was my dream. I lived for revenge, so I wanted a title worthy of that.”
“What do you mean?”
Reito thought about Gain when he heard the word “revenge.”
Bal explained further, “Sword Demon is a special title. When a normal swordsman reaches a certain skill level of swordsmanship dexterity, they get the title of Holy Swordmaster. I got that title in my late teens.
“But, Sword Demons are different. You can’t get it by polishing your skills alone. There are a lot of theories, but only one thing is for certain. Someone with this title is on par with the people called heroes.”
“The people who surpass Level 70. I have fought with a hero before, but it wasn’t even a competition. I was wrecked.”
“You fought with someone so barbaric?” Reito asked, and Bal laughed.
“HA! That guy really was a barbarian. Very true.”
“…?” Airis’s voice came in his head.
『The person who defeated Bal was your mother Aira. Apparently, Maria is also at a higher level than her, though.』
Knowing his mother was over Level 70, he was shook. He was impressed that the king was still alive after being punched by that kind of person.
“Damn. That’s the first time I’ve laughed in a minute… What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the Sword Demon thing.”
“Yeah. What kind of people have become Sword Demons in the past.”
“For the most part, they’re criminals. Of course, there are a few upstanding people as well. As far as the crucial question of how to obtain it goes… As I said before, I’m not sure. People say you can get it by continuously killing a lot of people. But if that were the case any old serial killer would become a Sword Demon. I think there’s another condition.”
“You have to kill someone close to you. Like a family member. Your closest ally… Maybe you know what I’m talking about.”
She looked at Reito and sighed, “I’m not asking who you killed or anything dumb like that. I just want to remind you that killing people isn’t something to take lightly.”
“When people who become Sword Demons continue to kill people, they go crazy. I’ve heard that from a Sword Master, so I don’t know the details. But, I wanted to have a power greater than a Holy Swordmaster so I aimed to be a Sword Demon… Now I ended up like this,” she said, self-deprecatingly. Reito didn’t know how to react.
But, he knew he had to talk about what he had done. He decided to tell her everything.
“I killed the person who raised me.”
“Tell me about it.”
Reito put the small details aside and explained how he ended up fighting with Aria.
Bal listened to the story and was convinced.
“I see… So that’s what happened. Perhaps she came to be killed by you.”
“I mean, that seems like the case. As far as you’ve told me, she was an expert assassin. Despite that, she decided to duel with an expert swordsman like you. She smiled at you in her last moment. I think she understood she would be killed by you.”
“How could that?”
“Well, only she knows, and she is dead. But, I think that’s the case. Don’t get it twisted. And live your best life for her,” Bal put his head on her chest.
Reito opened his status menu and looked at the title of Sword Demon and thought about what Bal had said.
“Aria… You didn’t…”
Reito didn’t say the rest. He closed the screen and headed toward where his friends were.