TWEM Vol. 2 Chapter 18

Chapter 18 – The Heroes’ Strength

The next day, I was in the residence’s garden, facing Tendo, Mogami, Suzuno, Shinonome, and Asakura, armed and ready to fight. Iris and Finne were watching from the side.

“Are you really sure about this?”

“No problem, come at me with all you’ve got.”

“ — okay then.”

I replied and Tendo nodded firmly.

~

It all started the day before, after dinner.

Tendo and the other four Heroes came to my room and told me what happened to them after we parted ways.

After that, Mogami casually asked a question.

“Hey, Yuki, you defeated one of the Four Heavenly Kings, right? How strong are you, exactly?”

“Ah, I want to know too! You’re going to train us, right?”

“I agree.”

Asakura and Shinonome shared Mogami’s curiosity too.

“You’re Heroes, so you can use Appraisal, right? You could just check with that.”

Tendo scratched his cheek after I replied.

“We weren’t sure we could, actually…so it’s okay with you?”

“Sure, go ahead. I don’t really mind.”

“Okay then, thank you….!?”

Tendo apparently activated Appraisal right away: he looked genuinely shocked.

Mogami and Suzuno swallowed their breaths too.

“Y-you’re over level 300…?”

“Whoa, five times higher than us!?”

“So many skills…”

“Now I see why you said you would train us.”

“With this level gap, I’m not sure if we can train together anymore, though…”

After a brief silence, they all voiced their thoughts.

“Well, strength is not all about your level…anyway, tomorrow we’re starting your intensive training, guys. I want to check your strength, so we’ll have a sparring match first.”

I smiled at them, but Suzuno whispered “I don’t think we can win even five on one…” to herself.

~

And that is why I was now facing Tendo’s group.

I set up a barrier around us, so we could go all out.

I took out an iron sword from my dimensional storage and armed myself with it.

Tendo seemed perplexed by my actions, though.

“Are you sure you’ll use that? I have a holy sword here.”

“No worries…okay, let’s start.”

Tendo and the others reacted to my words by taking their battle formation.

Tendo, Mogami, and Shinonome were in front, Suzuno and Asakura in the rear.

I observed their movements when Mogami called out to me.

“Hey Yuki, you’re not going to take a stance?”

I was indeed just standing normally, the sword just hanging from my right hand.

I was about to answer his question when Shinonome preceded me.

“Shinya, it only looks like he didn’t take a stance, but right now Yuki has no openings. That’s probably his stance.”

Oh, bingo. As expected of the daughter of a swordsmanship dojo.

Not one of you passed the test, though.

“What are you doing? It’s started already.”

I shot a light Intimidation: Tendo and the others stayed still for a second, then moved all at the same time.

The first one to approach me was Mogami.

“Rraaahhhh!!!”

He unleashed a full-powered blow with his gauntlets.

I dodged it at the last second, on purpose, and waited to strike his opening.

Tendo had circled behind me, however, and swung his holy sword in a horizontal sweep.

Before the battle, I had used Appraisal on the sword, revealing its name as “Mistilteinn”. It was a Legend grade weapon, capable of Barrier magic and Holy magic, which could also grant its wielder temporary invincibility, but…Holy magic could not be used to the fullest against human opponents, Barrier magic was a defensive ability and the temporary invincibility could only be used once a day: I doubted he was going to use it now, so in the end, it was just a sword.

I crouched to avoid Tendo’s slash and attempted a leg sweep.

Just then, however, Shinonome appeared at my side — though I had not noticed her approach — and swung down her blade on me.

I made sure not to lose my cool, powered the iron sword with my magic power, and parried Shinonome’s attack.

I expected Mogami and Tendo to take advantage of the opening and attack, but they both stepped backward, away from me.

They’re not going to attack? Which means…

Before I could reach my conclusion, Suzuno and Asakura shouted.

“Aoi!!”

Shinonome jumped away, and at the same time, two lances flew towards me, one made of light and the other of flames.

This is…Holy Lance and Fire Lance, huh.

I looked at the direction the spells came from and saw Suzuno and Asakura.

I see… a pretty good combination, better than expected, honestly.

Their offensive power is still not enough to defeat really strong opponents, though.

As I considered such thoughts, I tried using “Diamond”, the upgraded version of “Harden”, which I had obtained from a monster some time ago.

The next instant, the two spells crashed against me, causing a booming noise and raising a cloud of dust.

“Did we win!?”

“Koji, that’s a flag!!”

Asakura shot down Tendo’s “ominous” comment.

She was perfectly right: after all, I was unscathed.

I emerged from the cloud of dust and smoke and Mogami whispered to himself.

“Whoa, he took them head-on, without a scratch…?”

“Not enough firepower, definitely. Your combination was not bad, though. You’re better than anyone I’ve seen until now.”

Suzuno smiled broadly at my words.

“Thank you, Haruto!”

“Suzuno, we’re still fighting!”

“Whoops, sorry, Natsuki!”

Suzuno mellowed out completely, and Asakura scolded her, so she blushed and apologized.

“…okay, I more or less understood your attacks. It’s my turn.”

My first move was to take out the rear guard.

Before I could reach them, however, Tendo and Mogami stood in my way.

“We can’t let him through, Shinya!”

“Gotcha! Rock Wall!!”

Mogami punched the ground and a two Metol tall boulder rose up in response.

Tendo and Shinonome were on the left and right sides of the boulder wall, so if I jumped over it I’ll be hit by the rear guard’s magic attacks…was this their strategy?

In that case— 

I charged straight towards the Rock Wall and smashed it with my fists.

“Whoa, did you actually punch through it!? But I knew you were going to destroy the wall!!”

Beyond the wall, Mogami’s fists targeted the gap I was going to pass through.

“ — !! No, Shinya!!”

Tendo shouted to his companion, but it was too late.

At that time, I was already behind Mogami’s back, swinging my sword.

After tearing down the wall, I didn’t keep charging forward, but jumped, activated the Sky Walk skill to move in midair, and landed behind Mogami’s back.

An instant before my blade could collide with him, however, it was repelled by Shinonome’s own sword.

Whoa, she managed to keep up with my movements…

I felt genuinely impressed, then used the sand I had grabbed when I broke through the Rock Wall and threw it in Shinonome’s face.

She reflectively looked away to protect her eyes: taking advantage of that opening, I activated Conceal Presence and Stealth.

“Where did he go!?”

Shinonome quickly opened her eyes again but reacted with shock when she realized I had disappeared, together with my presence.

I grabbed her wrist and swept her feet, forcing her to tumble over.

“Never take your eyes off your opponent in a battle. It’s a matter of life and death.”

“Waah!”

Shinonome rolled over, letting out a rather cute cry.

Mogami’s fists and Tendo’s holy sword came on the offensive again, but I easily dodged them and turned towards Suzuno and Asakura.

The boys noticed it, but I had already activated the high-speed skill Ground Shrink, erasing my distance from the girls in a split second.

Suzuno and Asakura were surprised by my sudden approach, but they stepped backward and tried casting magic.

I didn’t let that opening go, however, and circled behind Asakura first.

I would make her fall down like Shinonome, then— 

Before I could act, however, my Detect Danger skill activated.

I immediately jumped backward, as a sword slash flew through the air in front of me.

“Pretty fast…”

Such a whisper escaped Tendo’s lips.

“Whoa, I could have died from that!”

“There’s no other way for us to hurt you, is there. Besides, you dodged it with ease…”

Tendo smiled wryly.

“Well, yeah. You’re better than expected, though.”

“I guess I can take that as praise?”

“Of course…okay then, let’s start this again.”

I then moved away from my opponents, returning to my initial position.

When Tendo and the others took their battle stances again, I spoke up.

“I’m not going to alternate offense and defense anymore…come at me like you want to kill me.”

My lips curved into a grin, and I could hear someone say “he totally talks like a villain…”

…who said that now!?

~

A few minutes later, I was pretty impressed by Tendo’s group, as they were putting up more resistance than I expected.

Their teamwork is this good because they’re Heroes…or rather, probably because they’re childhood friends.

As I was idly considering such things, a sharp slash flashed in front of my eyes.

“Whoops, hey, that was close.”

I nimbly dodged Mogami, Tendo, and Shinonome’s attacks then went on the offensive.

“H-he disappeared again!?”

“No way!!”

Tendo and Mogami completely lost track of my movements and expressed their frustration.

“!? He’s behind us!”

Only Shinonome managed to detect my presence: she turned around and performed a sweep with her sword, but I activated Diamond and stopped the blade with my hands.

“W-what!?”

I pulled in the sword to make Shinonome lose her balance, then tossed her away.

At the same moment, a shadow appeared over me.

The two boys, alerted by Shinonome, had jumped in the air and tried attacking me from above.

I easily dodged them but was targeted by Suzuno and Asakura’s magic at the same time.

Once again, they used Holy Arrow and Fire Arrow.

With a swing of my sword, however, both spells disappeared.

“W-what was that!?”

“Did he use magic to cancel them out!?”

“No, I didn’t feel like any magic was activated…”

“Then…”

“It’s either a skill or he just went with brute force. But to be able to cancel magic like that…”

Tendo, Mogami, Suzuno, and Asakura seemed confused: Shinonome, while standing back up, explained her theory about the situation.

I then answered their doubts.

“Shinonome is right. I just used brute force.”

“Is something like that really possible?”

I nodded to Shinonome’s question.

“It is. By the way, I haven’t used a single magic spell yet in this battle. Only skills.”

The five Heroes became deadly quiet.

“….WHAAAAATTT!!?!?!”

Guys, guys, you’ll rupture my eardrums!

“Y-you didn’t use any magic…?”

“Y-you’re lying, right? Please tell me you’re lying…”

Tendo and Mogami lamented and protested, but…

“Unfortunately, it’s the truth.”

“Tch…! We’re going to force you to use magic, then!!”

“See if you can.”

I taunted the group, then looked towards Finne and Iris, wondering if they weren’t feeling bored.

At that exact moment, Iris’ stomach growled meekly.

No one other than me heard, probably thanks to my boosted hearing: not even Finne, who was sitting next to Iris, seemed to have noticed.

I looked at Iris, who probably realized why she caught my attention, as she blushed.

“Are you sure you can afford to look away from us, Haruto!?”

Tendo tried provoking me, to no avail.

“Oh, it’s just that I noticed my lovely princess was feeling peckish. I suppose it’s time to end this.”

“What are you— ”

I activated Conceal Presence, Physical Boost, and Ground Shrink, to move behind the five Heroes in an instant, then struck the rear guard — Suzuno and Asakura — on their necks to knock them unconscious.

“Behind us!!”

Mogami heard Suzuno and Asakura collapse, then turned around while shouting.

“You should have moved away first.”

“Wha!?”

Mogami was apparently shocked by hearing my voice right in front of him: I punched him in the stomach and put him out of commission too.

“Shinya!! — but now you’re finished!!”

Shinonome probably thought she found an opening to strike: she unleashed a fierce slash, but— 

“If you want to catch me by surprise, keep quiet.”

I knocked her sword away and put more distance between us.

Again, I disappeared from Tendo and Shinonome’s sights and activated a skill.

They couldn’t see me anywhere, so they leaned on each other’s backs and carefully observed the surroundings.

“Be careful!”

“I know. You too!”

“Yes!”

Their backs were close, yes, but certainly not attached together.

I took advantage of that slight opening and struck Shinonome’s neck with a chop.

She fell down, unconscious, and Tendo finally understood what happened.

“W-what!? Aoi!!”

I was a few steps away from him when I decided to show myself.

“You guys were pretty tough, really.”

“In a situation like this, I don’t know if I should believe that…”

Tendo smiled bitterly, then I continued in a serious tone.

“Tendo, come at me with all you’ve got. I’ll do the same too. Let’s finish this.”

Tendo’s expression became tense.

I used Magic Manipulation to gather magic power around me, increasing my resistance to magic.

I then activated Fighting Spirit, a skill I copied from Dyne — and noticed something.

The magic power I had gathered with Magic Manipulation had turned a deep red color.

At the same time, the robotic voice echoed in my mind.

<<Skill “Magic Fighting Spirit” born from skill “Fighting Spirit”. Skill level reached 10. Skill added to Martial Unification. Skill “Fighting Spirit” deleted.>>

Hmm? Fighting Spirit was replaced?

.

<Magic Fighting Spirit>

Skill created by using Magic Manipulation and Fighting Spirit at the same time.

Magic power enveloping the user becomes visible. Magic resistance and physical abilities are greatly increased.

Available as long as the user possesses magic power. The color of the magic power depends on the user.

.

Pretty powerful skill…

So this deep red was my magic power’s color. I did see a lightning flash of the same color when I used Molding…

“Ha-Haruto? What’s that?” 

Tendo was looking at me, wide-eyed.

“It’s a…super physical boost, I guess?”

I increased the magic power’s density.

“Gh…”

Tendo probably felt pressured, as sweat lined his forehead.

“What’s wrong? Aren’t you coming?”

“ — wooooohhhh!!!”

I boosted my Intimidation a bit more and Tendo shouted to rile himself up.

I could see a bright light shining in his eyes.

He was indeed like a Hero, bravely facing an enemy boss…which made me look even more like the Demon King.

Tendo changed the grip on his Holy Sword. I could tell his concentration was peaking, so I readied my sword too.

After observing each other for a while, we moved at the same time — Tendo while shouting “Haaahh!!!”.

“ — Fireball!”

While running, Tendo shot a spell at my feet. The fireballs landed on the ground, raising a cloud of smoke and dust, as Tendo apparently intended.

I easily swept it away with a motion of my sword: Tendo was no more in front of me, but I did not lose my cool.

Detect Presence told me that Tendo had used Ground Shrink several times to circle behind me, after all.

Tendo took advantage of the momentum created by Ground Shrink and swung down his Holy Sword.

He probably put his whole strength in it: as expected of a Hero, it was a powerful, sharp slash.

I turned around, however, and blocked it with my iron blade.

“What!?”

Tendo was shocked to see his attack blocked like that, but the iron sword reached the limit of its endurance and shattered.

I tossed it away and used Tendo’s strategy against him: I circled behind him with Ground Shrink.

“Your back is wide open, man.”

“!?”

Tendo tried to turn around and attack as quickly as possible, but I grabbed his sword arm with one hand and landed my other fist in his stomach.

Tendo crumbled like that, signaling that the battle ended in my victory.

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