Vol. 8 Chapter 2 – Part 2

“Shall we seek an inn in this town to spend the night?”

“Are you alright? You looked pretty exhausted.”

“I’m alright, rest assured. Perhaps I felt a bit too excited.”

While they took breaks every now and then, the group had run for almost a full day, so Kanade’s voice was not as energetic as it was in the morning. Karin, who was probably more experienced, looked just a little tired.

“Let us look for the best inn available. Any fatigue left would weigh upon us tomorrow.”

“That’s true. I’ll go gather information, so please wait in that tea shop, have something to drink and rest.”

Shin pointed at the first tea shop he had seen in town and invited his two companions to rest.

“Sorry for the trouble.”

“I am thankful for your concern.”

Shin watched them enter the tea shop, then headed to the first item store he found. The range of goods available was one rank above the store he visited in Bayreuth. Even if some products were the same, their quality was higher here.

“This must be the artisan blood in me boiling…”

From the oriental patterns of its equipment to its name, Hinomoto really resembled Japan. Maybe because of that, like a Japanese artisan, Shin was also very particular about the quality of items.

However, Hinomoto’s towns were not only similar to what one could see in history-themed TV series, as Shin had imagined, but there were also Western-style buildings.

Shin thought that maybe the place they had visited was special, but Kanade had said that it was not the case.

The oriental-style and western-style architecture mixture was jarring, but no one other than Shin seemed to pay any mind.

The citizens of Hinomoto didn’t seem to find this kind of scenery unusual at all.

“Well, it’s not like one is better than the other anyway.”

It might look unusual, but it wasn’t inconvenient.

Shin picked up several items and headed to the register. While paying, he asked for any inn recommendations.

“I apologize for the wait. Oh, and I’ll have a dango.”

Shin finished his shopping and joined Kanade and Karin. The seat next to Karin was open, so he sat down and ordered a dango for himself too.

“Did you learn anything?”

“It looks like the inn called “Kasumitei”, located down this road, has a fairly good reputation.”

After a short break, they headed to the inn recommended by the clerk.

Kasumitei was a historical inn built in traditional Japanese-style architecture.

Lodging for one night cost an expensive price of 5 gold Jul coins, but the services provided well justified the price. Shin’s entourage spent the night and departed again for Mt. Fuji the next morning.

The 2nd day after they started their journey to Mt. Fuji, they arrived at the large forest area surrounding the mountain, Aokigahara.

(From now on, we can’t just go forward normally…)

Aokigahara was, as its name suggested, a map modeled after the Aokigahara “Sea of Trees” around the real Mt. Fuji. In the forest, the players’ map function is severely limited: leaving it without marking one’s progress or using special guide items was extremely difficult.

By the way, it is also possible to reach Mt. Fuji without going through Aokigahara.

“Let us camp near the forest for today. There’s something abnormal about it.”

“Ooh, you perceived it? This forest is indeed different from any other. For some unknown reason, it’s almost impossible to feel the presence of monsters when within. Entering and leaving it is possible once one is used to its geography, but I hear that many have fallen victim to surprise attacks by monsters in it.”

It seemed that the feature of monster signals not appearing on the map was still present.

To lose your way inside the forest, be ambushed by monsters, and come back dead was one of the common patterns of return from Aokigahara.

“What shall we do? Go around the forest?”

“No, that will not be necessary. I have an item to let us pass through.”

Kanade had been thinking of challenging the mountain already, but only as a last resort.

For Shin it would have been a reckless plan, but considering her reasons, it was no laughing matter.

After taking a brief rest just before Aokigahara, they proceeded into the forest, with Shin in the lead and Karin taking the rear.

The map displayed at the edge of Shin’s field of view became smaller and monster signals disappeared.

However, it was still possible to to use various detection skills at the same time, a technique available in the new world, so they ran no risk of being ambushed.

“I say, we are proceeding with impressive ease.”

Kanade made her surprised comment as they were following the light showing them which direction to take, displayed by the item “Wings of Beckoning”.

Any monsters drawing closer would flee after Shin sniped them with a shot of killing intent, so there was not any actual fighting either.

“I think that is better though?”

Shin thought that the fewer obstacles they had the better, as he replied to Kanade. He wasn’t hoping to find any obstacles, naturally.

“That is obviously true. But while things had been going all too well, we found an unexpected obstacle right at the end…so I can’t help but think that this might be the signal that something will happen…”

“I see what you mean…or rather, I feel that what you said just now raised a flag…”

“A flag? I don’t see any flags?”

“Not an actual one, I’m referring to words or actions that decide things that will happen later. Doesn’t it happen sometimes? Before going to a battlefield, whoever says “Once we come back, I will do this or that” will have a high chance of dying for example…”

Shin used a common example of Death flag to explain.

“Hmm? I cannot say I ever heard of such a thing. Have you, Karin?”

“Let’s see, I think I have heard something similar once from Sir Kankurou. When one goes to battle, one should never talk about what they want to do after returning. Promises of marriage are especially taboo…”

An honest to goodness death flag.

Shin thought that this Kankurou person could very well be a former player.

“What kind of person is he?”

“One of the greatest samurai in Hinomoto. He was alive since before the “Dusk of the Majesty”, a true living testimony of that age, we could say. He’s an extremely strong warrior.”

Hearing that he had been alive since before the “Dusk of the Majesty”, Shin thought that he could have been someone’s support character.

As far as Shin knew, former players only appeared after the “Dusk of the Majesty”. There might be exceptions, but Shin knew most of the advanced players caught in the death game, especially if they were samurai like him.

“I’d like to meet—”

Shin stopped while he was expressing how he would have liked to meet him one day.

Here comes the result of the flags…a signal was coming closer to them.

“Sir Shin? Why have you stopped all of a sudden?”

“It looks like the obstacle that Lady Kanade mentioned is coming. We have 12 signals coming from behind. And they’re not monsters.”

After hearing Shin’s words Karin drew her weapon. Slightly later, Kanade did too.

The 12-strong group heading straight towards Shin was using both the magic and martial versions of 【Hiding】. That was the reason why Karin, second only to Shin in signal perception, had not noticed their presence.

“Allow me to confirm, do you know of any ninja equipment-clad group that would attack you?”

“….not exactly, but we have been attacked in the past by a similar group. They were clothed like bandits though. We were attacked during our travels, after all…we heard that such ruffians are common outside Hinomoto.”

Shin asked Karin too; apparently their attackers until now were not anything special in terms of equipment or ability, and they had never been attacked by a clearly bizarre group such as this.

It was difficult to decide whether or not the earlier attacks were connected to the group currently closing in.

“I see we cannot make the situation clear. Let us go ahead and ask them.”

“But they are four times our numbers, are they not?”

“Well, just wait and see. Lady Kanade, please hide yourself for a while.”

After saying so, Shin used illusion magic and 【Hiding】 to hide Kanade and Karin from the ninja group closing in on them, replacing them with illusions.

He then had Yuzuha hide traps in the trees and bushes nearby, then waited for the group to arrive.

The group of ninjas reached Shin’s location roughly 3 minutes later.

Despite their looks, their jobs were not all the same: 8 ninjas and 4 hunters. Their average level was a little over 200.

“I know you are hiding. I just want to talk with you, could you show yourselves?”

The group seemed to be already aware that they had been found. The 4 hunters came before Shin.

“Hand over the women.”

“What if I refused?”

“You will die.”

As they said so, the men threw knives painted in black towards Shin.

Then, with purposefully delayed timing, the ninjas behind them threw their kunai towards Shin.

“Too slow.”

Shin dodged the flying knives and kunais; in exchange, his right hand was holding a throwing knife imbued with paralysing properties. He pulled out a similar knife with his left hand and threw them at the 2 opponents closest to him.

“Guuh!”

2 ninjas fell to the ground at the same time groaning. They fell from a tree, but considering their level they would not die from that level of damage.

Among the remaining six, four had already been caught by Yuzuha. She had paralyzed them with lightning magic and caught them.

“So now there are the trap victims left.”

The last 2 had lost consciousness because of the traps that Shin had Yuzuha set up. They could do little before the mind and negative status combination trap.

“Well, honestly, I didn’t expect things to be over so soon.”

“Agreed.”

It wasn’t weird for Kanade and Karin to comment about the situation in this way.

The ninja job specialized in assassination attacks and was an advanced scouting job. It was normally unthinkable for not only their ambush to be seen through, but also for them to fall so easily to a counterattack.

“First, let’s tie them up and see what they have to say. We should be able to gather some information.”

As their opponents were ninjas, Shin had Kanade and Karin wait while he walked closer to one of them. He was just a few steps away when he suddenly stopped.

“What’s this?”

Shin felt not a look, but a feeling of something pointed towards him, and his eyes narrowed.

There was nothing on the map. His skill-enhanced perception field, however, showed the signal of someone boosting their own magic power at the entrance of Aokigahara.

Shin used 【Clairvoyance】 and focused. He found a man clad in equipment many levels greater than the group that attacked them, raising his hands towards Aokigahara. Countless fireballs were floating around him.

“Yuzuha!! Come back!!”

Shin swiftly called back Yuzuha and ran towards Karin and Kanade. He broke open the bushes they were hiding behind and grabbed them.

“What is going on??”

“Si-sir Shin!?”

“I’m sorry, but please keep quiet for a while!!”

Ignoring their questions, Shin started dashing away to put as much distance possible between them and that place.

After Yuzuha caught up and landed on his shoulder, he accelerated even more.

“I have a question!! Do you know anyone who could shoot countless fireballs at once!?”

“I don’t understand what is going on, but I know someone who would be capable of that!!”

“Anyone that would target your life, Lady Kanade!?”

“None that I know of!!”

“Rather than that, sir Shin!! Please let us down!!”

“Just a little bit more patience!!”

While conversing loudly with the two, Shin expanded his perception behind him. The fireballs were flying towards the location Shin had been attacked.

After a few instants, the booming echoes of consecutive explosions rocked the forest. The vibrations shook the ground under Shin’s feet.

“The group that attacked us is probably dust and ashes by now.”

“The explosion just now…was an attack?”

“Yes. Countless fireballs stormed the location we were in just now.”

The explosions and vibrations had let Kanade and Karin realize the situation. Kanade looked at the billowing smoke, furrowing her brow.

“So their objective was to block our progress and serve as target for the attack.”

“That’s possible. It was already planned for them to be defeated. I don’t think…anyone is chasing us now. It would be difficult.”

Even before verifying the results of the attack, the caster had left the entrance of Aokigahara.

Shin’s perception field registered one signal only, moving away from Aokigahara at high speed. A Chosen One, probably.

“They attack enemies by using their allies as targets…?”

“Lady Karin, do you have any idea who they could be?”

“Not exactly…but I know of a family under the command of the west’s Yaejima house, the Rokuhara. They have a family of ninjas at their command, and rumor has it that if their master wills it, they will use whatever method possible in order to assassinate their target.”

Karin repeatedly states that it was only a rumor.

Regardless of the truth, or lack of it behind the rumor, Shin felt that this mission had suddenly evolved beyond a simple herb-picking quest.

“It will be better to pay attention to such ambushes too from now on. Let us proceed towards Fuji for now. At least, I doubt we will be attacked again soon.”

Maintaining a high level of alertness towards his surroundings, Shin quickly started to head toward the mountain again. Once they exited Aokigahara, it was a straight path to Mt. Fuji.

In the town at the foot of the mountain, they stayed in the inn with the highest security, with one person awake to stand guard.

“Just to be sure.”

Without Kanade and Karin knowing, Shin activated the skill 【Wall】.

That night, however, no assailants appeared; Shin’s entourage left for Mt. Fuji at dawn.

As they were already at the foot of the mountain, it didn’t take long until they reached it.

“It looks like the mists start appearing in the middle of the mountain.”

Shin voiced his thoughts while looking up at the mountain.

Just as Kanade had said, ashen mists invisible from a distance could now be seen hanging on the mountain. It would be difficult to proceed without some sort of countermeasure.

“What do you say? Can you do anything?”

As they arrived at a distance dozens of mels from the mists, Kanade asked for Shin’s opinion, a mixture of expectation and concern in her voice.

“Seeing through them isn’t a problem. To know if we’d get lost or not, we have to go inside first.”

Shin replied while looking towards the other side of the mists.

He asked for Yuzuha’s thoughts via Mind Chat, and she replied that the mists had the same effect as monsters’ illusion techniques. It was a pretty powerful one too apparently.

“I’ll try to go inside first. I will decide later if it’s possible to pass through or not.”

“What if you can’t come back anymore?”

“Shouldn’t we spend some more time inspecting the mists from outside first? We wouldn’t be able to help you after all.”

They probably found his proposal reckless. Kanade and Karin cautioned Shin to be more careful.

“I will tie one end of a rope to my body, and you will hold the other end. Like this, if anything happens you can pull me out. I’m going to check only if it’s possible to pass without getting lost, so I don’t plan to go in too deep, it should be all right.”

“Hmm, I suppose this method could work?”

“If we were to get pulled inside ourselves, we would have no choice but to let go of the rope though…”

“In that case, just let go. I will handle things on my own.”

It would be different if he had no idea about what could happen, but thanks to Yuzuha’s 【Analyze】 Shin knew there would be no problems, so he told Karin that they could let go of the rope.

The two women were still not entirely convinced, but they decided to trust Shin’s promise of not doing anything reckless, and firmly held onto the rope.

“Well, I’m off then. Please wait a while. Yuzuha, stay on the lookout.”

“Kuu!”

Yuzuha cried in reply and Shin turned around to head inside the mists. At his level of ability, seeing through such visibility-limiting mists was not difficult at all.

“Monster signals are…few, but they are there. If it’s the same as it was in the game era, even those two would be fine by themselves.”

Shin walked as much as the rope allowed, then looked towards the peak of Mt. Fuji.

Most signals he could perceive were repeatedly moving and stopping, typical signals of ordinary monsters.

“This feeling…is not normal. Why is Kagutsuchi not there, anyway?”

Shin’s perception field extended until the peak. What he perceived there gave him concern.

On the peak, he felt a small signal and a very large one. In the location where normally Kagutsuchi used to be, he didn’t feel anything.

Both signals were standing firmly on the peak, not moving an inch.

As they weren’t on the map, he couldn’t see the color of their markers; thinking about it from a game perspective, he decided they probably were boss monsters, present in place of Kagutsuchi.

“The medicinal herb is supposed to be near the peak, so we have to get closer in any case…I don’t suppose they’ll just ignore us if we do.”

If the monster was still the Kagutsuchi Shin knew, there were ways to pick up the Dead Snake Grass without being noticed.

It was impossible to know, however, what kind of perception ability the monsters now residing on the peak had. Some bosses did not attack unless challenged, but Shin was having a hard time deciding on whether to bring Kanade and Karin with him or not.

If the mysterious ninja squad had not attacked them he would have left them outside, but he couldn’t rule out the possibility of the fireball shooting man trying something again.

Would it have been better to keep them within his sights, or to give them a defensive item and have Yuzuha guard them? While pondering this dilemma, Shin returned to where he had left them.

“How was the situation inside? It does not appear like there were any serious problems?”

“There is nothing in particular limiting movement inside. Rather than that, something else intrigues me.”

Shin informed Kanade and Karin about the unmoving signals on top of Fuji.

“I assume they are the monsters ruling over Fuji.”

“I see, I see…I find it peculiar that there are two though.”

“Legend says that a divine blade rests on the peak of Mt. Fuji. Could they be there as its protectors?”

A legendary weapon in a place where no one dares tread…a pretty common tale.

However, as far as Shin knew, no hidden weapons such as the one Karin mentioned was supposed to be found on Fuji’s peak.

“We have no intentions of fighting, so it would be ideal if they left us alone, but there’s the possibility that they won’t. I could go on my own, but the possibility of an attack like the one before is still present…”

“Is it possible for our senses not to be swayed by the mists, like yours, sir Shin? If so, we could use it to hide our presence.”

“I also thought about doing that, but I don’t know how these mists confuse human senses. If we moved together, I could pull you forward if need be.”

If they didn’t move, they wouldn’t get lost either. If they simply focused on defending themselves, Shin could take them back after the fighting ended.

It was difficult to decide which method was safer.

“Milady, I propose we follow sir Shin. I shall handle any monsters that attack us.”

“We would make Shin worry, but waiting here is a possibility to consider too, is it not?”

“I am ashamed to admit that I could not perceive the magic attack that targeted us before. If something similar were to happen, I could not handle it by myself. It seems to be possible to perceive enemy signals even within the mists, so I think that the chances of being ambushed are lower there than here.”

All possible developments considered, Karin proposed to Kanade to go inside the mists with Shin.

“You are quite correct too. O Shin, could you allow us to accompany you?”

“Yes. We will avoid confrontations with monsters and use the shortest route available.”

Shin nodded to Kanade’s question. Just in case, he lowered his 【Limit】 to level II, bringing himself to a status close to the time of the Death Game.

They would stay away as much as possible from the bosses. In order to lower the chances of being found, they decided on the simple strategy that two would wait just before the herb’s location, and then they entered the mists.

“I cannot say I enjoy this kind of progression.”

“We cannot tie each other with the rope after all. Please have patience.”

In the mist, the three humans walked while holding hands. Shin was the lead, Kanade in the middle, and Karin took the rear. Because of this, both of Kanade’s hands were occupied.

Kanade, forced in the same situation as a child holding hands with her parents so as not to get lost, was understandably a little vexed.

“Just a little more patience.”

“Please do not worry. If any monsters come out, I will be your shield.”

“O Karin, that is not what I am talking about.”

It seems that Karin thought that Kanade was concerned by the fact that if monsters attacked, she couldn’t wield her weapon.

It’s true that it couldn’t be pleasant to walk in an area where monsters could appear without being able to wield a weapon, but Shin thought that Kanade was really meaning something else.

“Oops, a monster is heading towards us. This way.”

Shin perceived the monster coming closer and headed to a nearby crag. A few minutes later, Kanade and Karin perceived the monster’s signal too and hid in the rocks’ shadow.

After a few more minutes passed, the ground started to shake slightly.

Heavy, rumbling steps gradually closed in on the crag where Shin’s entourage was hiding.

(Must be a golem.)

The monster walking towards them with booming footsteps, possessing a large body measuring over 4 mels of height, was the Bullrock Golem.

Its appearance was simply roughly carved rocks assembled together to vaguely resemble a human shape, while its head resembled a bull’s. As its rock-solid looks suggested, its physical attacks were extremely powerful.

Its level was in the range of 400-500; being hit by the metal bat-like rock slab it wielded would have meant sudden death even for frontline jobs, depending on the equipment. Basically, the apex of focusing on physical attacking.

Except in dungeons, it usually appeared on mountains and within mines.

Its perception skills are very low: as long as one didn’t make loud sounds or attack it, it was easy to avoid.

The Bullrock Golem which had come closer to Shin’s entourage disappeared again in the mists, without showing any signs of having noticed them.

“It’s all right now. Let’s go on.”

After making sure that the Bullrock Golem was far enough, Shin stood up.

The three kept climbing the mountain at a fast pace, while avoiding all monsters.

After roughly 2 hours, they arrived just before the peak.

“Hm?”

Shin, who was in the lead, noticed that the mists disappeared at a certain point of the path leading to the peak.

“Sir Shin, did something happen?”

“It looks like the mists disappear a bit further ahead.”

“Could it be?”

Kanade reacted to Shin’s words. Looking at the peak from below, it looked shrouded in the mists like the rest of the upper side of the mountain.

What Shin noticed was that inside the mist there was a perfectly clear location.

“I see, if we proceed onwards we won’t be hidden anymore.”

Shin stopped a step before the end of the mists and guessed the reason why the mist would let up there.

“To not let any intruders in, I see.”

“(Kuu, there’s, something.)”

They were being watched.

Shin immediately noticed that several sets of eyes, which were not even trying to hide their powerful presence, were pointed at them.

Yuzuha’s ears perked up and she looked towards the source of these signals.

“We are being watched, are we not?”

“To think that such a powerful intimidation was possible by simply looking…”

Kanade and Karin had also realized that someone was watching them.

Karin, with a stern expression, touched her blade’s hilt, but Kanade seemed overwhelmed by the watcher’s aura.

“Will you wait here?”

“No, I believe it is best to proceed together. I think they know that there are three of us. If we separate, they might become even more alert. I don’t feel hostility coming from them. We did not come to fight, so I think it’s best not to provoke them.”

Karin spoke with a very serious expression, and Kanade nodded.

Shin and his entourage proceeded upwards, alert of their surroundings. After roughly 30 minutes, they reached what looked like a small shrine.

“Sir Shin, I feel a bizarre presence.”

“The larger monster’s signal is right before us, isn’t it.”

The map clearly showed the monster’s signal, but what they could see was just rocks, the ground, and some plants. The smaller signal was deep within the small shrine.

As the three stopped, their ears picked up the sound of two hard objects rubbing against each other.

“Ah, so this is the source of the signal.”

Shin looked towards the origin of the sounds and nodded, seemingly understanding what its source was. His materialized 『Kakura』 was still hanging from his hips.

“Shin, isn’t this dangerous…?”

“Milady, if anything happens, I will buy time for you to escape.”

In complete contrast to the impressed tone of Shin’s words, Karin and Kanade turned pale and prepared to run away at any time.

Their reaction was very natural, as on top of the shrine were 8 gigantic snake heads, bent forward and glaring at them.

The snakes’ mouths were large enough to devour an adult human in one bite.

3 of the 8 heads had come closer, and the sound of the air hissing in their mouths reached the party’s ears.

What they thought was a boulder was actually the snake’s body.

“Eight-headed Orochi…isn’t it. It’s not a monster that’s supposed to dwell in these parts though. ”

“How can you be so calm?”

“Just as Karin said, I feel no hostility. If it wanted to attack us, it would have done so before we noticed its presence.”  

The marker on the map was the green of neutrality. This eight-headed Orochi was not doing anything in particular and simply kept looking at the 3 humans and the fox.

“(Very, interested?)”

“(Looks like it. It surely doesn’t look like it wants to battle.)”

Maybe also because Shin and his companions were not wielding their weapons, the Eight-headed Orochi did not seem to be particularly wary of their presence.

It simply continued to stare at them, as if to look deep into their hearts.

“Do we have guests? Yachi, do not look at them so much, you’ll scare them. Step back a little.”

The moment Shin thought to say something to it, a female voice was heard from within the shrine.

In response to the voice, the snake slowly drew back its heads, which rested back on its body.

After a few moments, they could see someone emerge from the shrine.

“We must have surprised you. If you don’t try anything funny, you will not be attacked. Be at ease.”

From the shrine emerged a beautiful maiden clad in a platinum armor with blue borders.

Her black hair, extending until her hips, glistened in the sunlight. Her right hand held a helmet, her left a katana.

 

――――『One of the Five Supreme Blades – Munechika – Level 929』

 

“….our apologies. We were just at a loss of what to do.”

Shin, after staring blankly for an instant at the name displayed by 【Analyze】, muttered an apology.

“Hum. Generally, people either wield their weapons, thinking they will be attacked, or flee, but you are clearly different. What is your goal?”

Munechika spoke to Shin without showing any wariness of them herself. Her sharp look though, made Shin feel as if he was under interrogation.

“We came to look for an herb called Dead Snake Grass, as we heard it grows on the peak of this Mt. Fuji.”

“Oh, that. Indeed, it does grow here.”

“!!!”

Kanade could not help but gulp after hearing Munechika’s words.

Shin’s information was more than 500 years old. Relying on it and going to Mt. Fuji to find Dead Snake Grass was partly a gamble.

“Could you possibly share some with us? We have no intentions of harming you. As soon as we gather some Dead Snake Grass, we will be on our way.”

“It is not something of great value to us. Letting you have some is not a problem.”

Munechika’s words seemed to imply something else. Her eyes were aimed at Shin.

“T-then we can—”

“However. This area is under our rule. If you want to take away something from here, you will have to give something in return.”

Munechika cut off Kanade’s words and spoke clearly.

“…what do you desire…?”

Shin, feeling Munechika’s eyes on him, inquired her intentions.

Munechika was an NPC/Monster implemented in the 5th update “Banquet of Blades”’ main event, “Trial of the Noble Sword”.

The event consisted of defeating the human form of certain weapons; once defeated, one would obtain the original weapon. In her case, as the name suggested, the Ancient-grade katana 『Mikazuki Munechika』 would become available for use.

As the grade suggests, it was one of the weapons with the highest attributes in THE NEW GATE.

Its gender when facing it was random; it was impossible to know if it transformed into male or female before fighting it.

Incidentally, when Shin fought it during the game era, it was a slim, handsome young man. Every single time.

“An unused weapon can only rust. Finally, someone worthy matching blades against has appeared. I ask for a duel.”

“….what would happen if I refused?”

“I would not allow you the herbs. Do not fret, I do not ask for a duel to the death. I will hold back. I promise to stay my blade if it would inflict a fatal wound.”

Shin couldn’t help reacting to Munechika’s words.

Their genders were different, but Shin had fought against Munechika not once, but multiple times during the game era. Munechika’s fighting power was so high that not even a fully maxed Shin could win.

His stats and equipment were not as good as they were now, and he tasted defeat many times.

He managed to win only once, by a stroke of luck, just before the event ended.

“……Lady Kanade, Karin, please stay back so as not to be involved in the fighting. Yuzuha, I’m counting on you.”

“Kuu!”

Shin carefully checked for the presence of any attackers, then told the two women to stand away.

For added safety, he asked Yuzuha to watch over them.

“Your presence is different now. Better than I expected.”

“I’ve fallen plenty of times already because of you. This time, you won’t say that I won out of luck.”

Shin drew out a card and materialized it.

“Fallen? But moreover….that is…?”

“I cannot lose with this. No need to hold anything back.”

What Shin was holding while he made his declaration was 『Hakuramaru』.

He won’t use 『Kakura』. Or better said, he can’t. 『Kakura』’s attributes were not high enough to withstand Munechika’s weapon.

The 【Limit】 was still II. If Eight-headed Orochi also attacked, he would need to go at full power, but this was just a duel, so he chose to face it in the state he could control best.

“To think there still were such weapons in this world…but now is not the time to talk.”

Munechika wore the helmet she was carrying in her right hand and gripped the hilt of the katana she held with her left.

Munechika herself drew the weapon which could be described as its clone: 『Mikazuki Munechika』.

“Here I come.”

As the words left her lips,  Munechika stepped right before Shin’s eyes.

 

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