Shin and Girard ran between the trees, they were headed straight towards the center of the forest. By the way, Larua Grand Woods was quite spacious. One could imagine the vastness, when it was said to be wider than Hokkaido in the real world.
They went towards the center to keep the damage to the surroundings to a minimum. To really ensure safety, they should be at least 20 kemels away from the spectators.
Wouldn’t it make so that they couldn’t be seen by the【Far Sight】 skill if they were that far away? It was probably a concern, but it would never happen. Because, on the route where Shin and Girard ran through, clouds of dust looking like explosions and thousands of sliced trees flying off could be seen. Even though their figures couldn’t be seen, that track of destruction informed the others of their existence.
The two people ran side by side for a while, and divided into two groups on the way. While heading toward the center, they gradually separated from each other. It was about 10 minutes later, that the earth and sand that was flying up due to their tracks disappeared, and so they knew that the two people stopped moving.
About 5 kemels apart, both of them faced each other. Among a few of the dueling methods of the beasts, it was the oldest dueling principle that was chosen this time.
With that settled, the duel that took place in Larua Grand Woods was where they set a distance according to the ability of the people who were fighting. This was intended to get rid of the handicap of each other’s weapon specialty.
Though it might seem to be disadvantageous for the short distance type, the dense trees that obstructed the view made it easy to dish out a surprise attack.
As for the long distance type, though the distance was reduced, that meant it was harder to make a line of fire with the trees in the way.
Now that it came to this, whoever found the opponent first, was the most important point. Normally the distance would be roughly 50 mels, but because it was these two’s ability that were having showdown this time, what was said to be the best distance was not decided. Both of them spontaneously decided the distance.
There was also no referee for this match. Though it wasn’t just because it would put the referee’s body into danger; to begin with, victory or defeat was not significant between Shin and Girard. The fight itself was the goal. A referee, and the likes, would only be a hindrance instead.
Their fighting spirits were mutually raised at their locations, and they gazed at the opponent they couldn’t see.
Shin had to control his 【Limit】, to match his stats with the time in the game. It wasn’t because he was ‘going easy on someone’. The titles, such as Limit Breaker and Accomplished One, were turned off in the fight, so it became the original values from when he had spent time with Girard.
Shin wore the titles that had increased his power from around the time of the Death Game. The titles that he acquired after he defeated the boss, Origin, in the final dungeon, would never have been obtained via normal play. Because the dungeon that was also called 【Gate of the Otherworld】, and Origin too, both appeared after the Death Game began. To fight against an opponent who called himself Master, it was extremely rude to depend on those cheat skills. Though there would certainly be a time when he must use it, at least now was not that time.
This was a kind of ceremony to see off Girard. It was meaningful, when fighting with only his own power.
Girard strengthened his own ability with the aid of martial arts skills. Shin’s stats were better than his, this was something he had known a long time ago. To fill the differences, even if only by a little, he wouldn’t spare the effort.
Though Shin talked about the titles with Girard, he also conveyed that he didn’t have any intentions of using them. About that, Girard was thankful, but regretful too. He would do the same thing if he was in Shin’s position; it was easy to imagine. The feeling of them getting in the way was understood, and he felt genuine happiness by thinking that it would be settled with only their own original powers. However at the same time, he really wanted to have a fight with Shin at his best, in the true sense. Girard also knew, that Shin also thought of the same thing. When that time happened though, it would be over in an instant.
Girard was lost in thought for a brief amount of time; To receive the death that he could be satisfied with the most.
Now at this moment, Shin and Girard were pouring every nerve into each other’s presence.
Thus, it was the moment that both of them were well prepared for. The presence of the opponent was felt, and it was understood that they were ready.
The two people inhaled in a deep way. And like they had arranged it beforehand, skills were invoked.
What seemed to be like the firing of a signal gun for starting a war, was actually the barehanded system martial art skill, 【Cannon Wave】.
<Attract enemy’s attention, and cancel incantations of magic skills at a low probability.> As if sneering at such a skill’s explanation, both of them fired a【Cannon Wave】 that ran through Larua Grand Woods. Power that could rival even the upper class of wind-system magic skills mowed down a big tree exceeding 1 mel of diameter, blasted away a large monster on its course, and finally collided at the midpoint of the two people.
The charged energies did not offset each other, instead it condensed where it gathered, and that energy was released in all directions in the next moment. The scattering energy was transformed into a shock wave, and spread the destruction out to the surroundings.
That shock, together with the earth shaking, cleared the ground from a radial center that should be called ground zero. Big trees that were said to be several hundred years old, and the gigantic stones that were buried under them, flew over several mels up into the sky and disappeared into the thin air. Though it would cause a second disaster when they fell, the two people didn’t worry at all. After firing 【Cannon Wave】 , they had already started moving.
If Shin used a magic skill for long distance, than Girard, who specialized in close-range was at a disadvantage. However, Shin abandoned the advantage of a one-sided attack from the distance, as he went toward Girard.
With the speed of the two people, it wouldn’t take too long for them to arrive at the place where the 【Cannon Wave】 collided. The trees vanished and the ground was exposed, it was almost like an impromptu ring had appeared. Shin with his 『True Moon』 and Girard with his 『Crushing Moon』, took a stance and filled the distance furthermore.
Against the blow coming from over Shin’s head, Girard answered by thrusting his right hand straightforward. Sparks and a buzz sound were produced when the weapons clashed.
With a high-pitched metallic sound, cracks ran through the ground around the position where the two people stood. The earth was split, due to the energy from the clash.
“Kuku, still as good as usual.”
“Hah, this is nothing for me to stop the blow.”
With a grinding sound, while praising each other as their weapons met, the grins that appeared on their faces could be called fierce.
The duel had become a state where they couldn’t go easy on each other, because the higher the ability of both of them; just a trivial blow might prove fatal.
However, at this time now, Shin and Girard were both convinced that the other would not die from a lucky shot.
There was no reasoning there. They just knew.
――――This guy(Girard) won’t fall by such an attack!!
――――I can’t defeat this guy(Shin) with just this level!!
The weapons were repelled and they took some distance again.
Shin took a stance with his katana, and waited for Girard. Those fangs, if only he could pierce through them.
Girard, who prepared his stance with one leg bent in front and the other extending behind him, calmly overflowed with fighting spirit. As long as he used his own technique, he could receive it with his own body.
Silence, time flowed slightly.
And, the moment when the big tree fell from the sky between the two people, their figures vanished.
Subsequently, consecutive metallic and crushing sounds were heard. Sparks were scattered about midair and the ground on top of the ring was crushed.
As for speed, Shin was faster. The slashing attack that could be mistaken for a flash of light, he faced towards Girard without any hesitation.
And as for reflexes, Girard was superior as he faced Shin. He didn’t specialize in close-range combat just for show. The reaction to the strike, instant judgment, and above all, the attack predictions that came from 500 years long experience. Girard had experienced fighting against numerous people and monsters, and watched Shin fight side by side with him. His intuition showed that he could cope with Shin’s attacks, even if Shin had better stats than he had.
He bent his body and dodged the slashing attack from the upper right, approaching while flicking it with his 『Crushing Moon』, and then turned his body back to go under the roundhouse kick from Shin. The wind pressure, from when it missed, created a storm of destruction 10 mels in a straight line. Without minding Shin’s attack, Girard jumped up from the ground, after bending down, and drew back his fist.
That fist was then continuously fired out, with the support system magic skill【Enchant • High Blow】 to reinforce it further. It was an additional reinforcement magic, to the fist that could already crush a solid castle wall easily. For a fist that the naked eyes couldn’t follow, it was said to be inevitable that the opponent would be definitely crushed.
But Shin, who was a master of swordsmanship, was not so normal that he could not receive it either. The current stats were at the value that Shin was the most experienced with. When he fought against divine beast monsters, when there were confrontations among the Rokuten, and when he defeated Origin too; it was always with these stats.
Therefore, now Shin could completely grasp his own physical abilities. The arms that wielded the katana swung, and the foot that crushed the earth, they moved as Shin imagined them to. Was it because he dueled against this pinnacle opponent, the one known as Girard? His mana manipulation that was imperfect before the duel, it too was sharpened unconsciously. If he strengthened his stats by using the titles, his control might be weakened again. However, when he was in the present state, he was able to use mana naturally, like breathing; Shin was able to grasp it again.
For this reason, he didn’t skimp. In contrary to the fist coming toward him, Shin was pouring mana into his beloved katana.
Similarly to Girard’s fist, the blade that now received the support system magic skill 【Enchant • High Edge】 effect was shining, and its edge was sharpened, along with its speed.
The blade raised a buzz sound whenever it cut a fist. Whenever Shin’s blade resisted the fists of Girard, each weapon’s charged mana counterbalanced each other before discharging into the surroundings. Small explosions sounded around the two people as they exchanged blows, and the terrain was transformed.
For a lengthy long rally, remarkably large shocks resounded, then Girard and Shin separated again. Without missing a beat, they began to move. While it was going nowhere, even with the exchange of blows there, the way of fighting changed.
Contrary to before, it had completely changed to a high-speed chase inside the forest, now they dashed without leaving a trail of destruction. Though the figure of the opponent disappeared from sight, the two people wouldn’t make such a blunder as to lose sight at that level.
Let alone the five senses, their intuitions also sharpened. Multiple support system martial arts skills, ranging from【Mind’s Eye】 to 【Insight】 were activated there, and they sensed each other’s blood-lust, repeatedly clashing into each other.
The blade that was aimed towards Girard’s blind spot was repelled by his fist, while Shin had to fend off a tempest of fists that came from above with his katana. The attack was coming from all directions, whether from above, front, left, right, rear, and sometimes from the ground when they jumped.
Still, not a single blow was hitting each other’s bodies. Since there were stat differences, it was natural for Girard’s attacks to not hit.
But even Shin’s attacks couldn’t graze Girard. A person who knew the ability of these two people would feel a sense of incongruity. No matter how much they kept strengthening, currently there was a wall that couldn’t be overturned between Shin and Girard.
“Ah, I can’t get through. Is this the limit of the current technique?”
“Did you finish warming up? It’s time to show it. I felt something was off only a little while ago.”
“Kuku, you found out, huh? I was trying to conceal it.”
“Did you think I wasn’t gonna find out after we exchanged blows? It would be noticed eventually.”
“Don’t say that. It’s a technique I devised specifically to fight against you. Let me put on some airs a little.”
Sparks were scattered with the blade and fist, but the two people were joking around while running in the forest. Shin who was expressing slightly messy words, and Girard who was returning them with a smile.
For both attacks, though they were certainly powerful, it seemed to have turned into a state where friends talked about obtaining a rare item by chance.
They understood each other. There was still much to this fight; they hadn’t gotten serious and gone all out yet.
It had been about 10 minutes since the duel had started.
The greatest battle was about to begin.
Whenever Shin and Girard clashed, a portion of the forest vanished as craters and trees were blown away, exposing the devastation. The animals, which had sensed the abnormalities and moved to the edge of the forest, where there was little danger, were perhaps the only things saving grace. The two people were getting absorbed in the fight, but seemed to have considered the area as the damage tended to be concentrated at the center of the forest.
Somehow, that spectacle, which was watched with the 【Far Sight】 skill, was divided into two groups based on their reaction.
“It couldn’t be…this is when the founder is serious.”
Tiera was speechless at the scene that unfolded before her eyes. Wolfgang, who saw Girard being serious for the first time, growled. Cuore and Yuzuha couldn’t cover their excitement. Whereas Kagerou was watching their state.
“It’s about time they finished warming up.”
“Umu, flashy warm-up as usual.”
“Well, expect no less from our king.”
Schnee, Van, and Rajim watched it all with a calm composure, as if saying “You haven’t seen anything yet, there’s still more after this”.
Their reactions were split in two splendidly, into whether or not they had seen that Shin and Girard were not being serious yet.
“Master, they haven’t gotten serious yet, despite all that!?”
“Yes. Shin appears to have hardly used his magic skills at all, and Girard hasn’t shown his new move in that state either.”
“Master is strong like that too, right?”
“Depending on the fight, I still have a hard time against Girard.”
To Schnee who indirectly implied “I am stronger”, Tiera became speechless again. Though Tiera knew that Schnee was strong, after watching the fight between Shin and Girard, she understood how poor her imagination had been. Furthermore, it was said that the two people who were battling now weren’t even completely serious yet. How far away was the existence that spoke to her like it was natural? Tiera finally understood the true meaning.
“Honorable father, this is the fight of a High Human and Girard-sama, right?”
“It seems like there’s still more to it from Schnee-dono’s story. Though I also succeeded in the secret and became strong myself, I can’t help but think I have so much more to learn when I see this.”
“I have had a match with Shin-san before, and I thought he was as much the same as Girard-sama. But it was not so.”
“It’s the person whom founder-sama lowered his head to. We are likely not able to see through that power or something.”
While hearing the explosions echo far away from the hill, the parent and child were having a talk. Meanwhile, their pupils were moving rapidly, as they were going to sear the fight between Shin and Girard into their memory.
“It’s time for him to move.”
“Umu, I guess it will be an exchange of existing skills from now on.”
“That will reach the High Human, huh?”
“Now, it’s up to our king.”
Van and Rajim knew Girard’s trump card. They were not excited nor did they adopt a philosophic view on it; they just calmly watched the progress of the battle.