Translator: Saitama-sensei Editor:Ryunakama
45. Vesteria Kingdom and Elite Guard 
The swallow and the crow flew around Claude-san as though protecting her, and the owl was looking down at me from a slightly higher position.
(…At first glance, it is a manipulation-type ability to control materials such as stones)
The simple increase in number will make it more troublesome, and because of its simplicity, it’s a powerful ability.
(But I still can’t say for sure…)
My opponent is the Elite Guard Captain, Claude-Stroganoff.
It is hard to think that her ability is just to manipulate objects.
(When you face an unknown ability… Attack!)
Attack, attack, and keep attacking – you must not allow the soul dress to be swung 『for offense』!
I ran in a straight line towards Claude-san to control the forestall.
「You seem to know how to fight against a soul dress user… That’s a good decision. However, your opponent is a bad match.」
With enough time to spare, she swung down the long sword on the spot.
The owl flying over her head, began to nose dive towards me.
It was different from a free fall.
It’s obviously a speed boosted by the power of soul dress.
However, this level of speed is no problem…!
The moment I cut the approaching owl right into two halves – Claude-san laughed.
In that moment, the stone owl, emitted a dazzling light and burst into a huge explosion.
I jumped back greatly due to a split second judgment, but the stone fragments scattered by the blast, struck my body.
While my visibility was obstructed by the smoke,
「High King Style – Strong Strike!」
Claude-san started attacking in a flash.
While in a disadvantageous posture, I raised my sword overhead horizontally to prevent the impending downward slash.
「A good response but – your abdomen is completely open!」
Her sharp front kick struck my abdomen.
A dull pain ran through my body.
In order to regain a proper posture, I leapt back and took a distance.
Control your breathing, rethink the exchanges – analyze〈Avio Troop〉’s ability.
「…I see. Rather than just manipulating the object, it is the ability to manipulate after transforming the object that was cut into a『bomb』…?」
「Correct. So, your head isn’t half bad either.」
Saying that, she cut the cobblestones,
The owl, which was exactly the same shape as before, breathed again.
As long as there is the original material, it seems that bombs can be made infinitely.
(…This is a nasty ability.)
I bit my lower lip and checked my condition.
(The wounds… are not too deep.)
This was due to jumping back instantly and avoiding the heat wave and bomb blast.
The stone fragments only lightly cut my skin at most.
Damage from being kicked in the stomach has already been recovered.
(Yoshi… There’s no problem in continuing the battle.)
All that’s left is to find a way to defeat〈Avio Troop〉…
Then I put the sword in front of my navel and assumed the stance – Seigan no Kamae.
「Then, it’s my turn now!」
Claude-san swung her long sword just like a conductor’s stick.
And the next moment,
The fist-sized swallow and crow drew closer at a tremendous speed.
It was much faster than the owl.
At the moment of quickly cutting the two birds, a small explosion occurred.
I took a short step back and at the same time avoided all the scattered stone fragments.
(The speed of movement is dreadfully fast, but… The scale and power of the explosion is much smaller than that of the『owl』…)
Although it was barely, I can avoid all of the heat waves, blasts, and stone fragments.
Claude-san, who was observing my movements from a distance, spoke calmly.
「To be able to keep up with this speed, you sure do have a good sword speed.」
「…Well, thank you.」
When I replied briefly,
「-It can’t be helped, I’ll have to increase the『number』」
The next moment, she quickly slashed the ground.
There were five swallows and crows each – a total of ten breathing bombs.
「…Are you kidding me?」
Cold sweat flowed through my back.
(No matter how small the explosion is, this number is dangerous…)
At the same time as her orders,
Ten bombs flying at high speed rushed towards me.
「Damn…! What an absurd ability…!?」
Then I concentrated all my nerves and slashed the approaching swallows and crows.
But it was difficult to avoid both blasts and stone fragments – and one by one, fresh wounds accumulated on my body.
「Haa… No matter how much effort you’ve put in, you will never compare to『innate talent』in the end. Look at the present state – the state of battle has completely changed with one soul dress, right? Unfortunately, this is reality. Allen-Rodore.」
Claude-san, surrounded by many birds, described the futility.
I’m sure she’s already convinced of victory.
(Damnit… the distance, if only I can close the distance…)
As I clenched my teeth, I glared at the owl that was floating over her head.
As soon as I show signs of even a slight approach, she immediately takes a defensive posture with the owl.
(…It’s a really troublesome soul dress.)
If I draw closer, a large-scale blast of the big owl.
If I take distance, a continuous small-scale blasts of fast swallows and owls.
Furthermore, the bombs are nearly infinite.
(…I’m beaten. At this rate, I can’t win…)
Her abilities were a bad match for me, who doesn’t have a soul dress.
I look around to see if there’s any breakthrough solution – we’re on a stage.
There are no shields to block the explosion, no trees to hide behind.
Then, when glancing around left and right, Ria’s image was reflected at the edge of my sight.
She linked her hands tightly in front of her chest as though praying for my victory.
Even in such a desperate situation – she believed in my victory.
(…I’ve got to strengthen my resolve.)
The explosion of that owl is much larger than that of the swallow and the crow.
But it’s much smaller than the oversized explosion I saw at Daido Firm.
(…It’s okay. The explosion is not at the level that would blow my body into pieces.)
Strengthen my resolve.
The resolve to jump into the explosion.
The resolve to bear the pain until the end.
Above all – the resolve to survive.
After solidifying my determination and resolution,
Just straight – I took the shortest distance towards Claude-san.
「You fool, so you’ve given into despair!」
As she swung down the long sword,
The owl began to fulfil its role by nose diving.
At the moment of slashing the huge imminent bomb, a dazzling light overflowed.
In the next fraction of a second, my body will be frozen by the pain that will follow with the explosion.
(…Don’t fret! Move Forward!)
The next moment I stepped into the light, inspiring myself – a big explosion occurred.
Heat wave, blast, and stone fragments – hit my whole body like a storm.
My field of vision was completely blocked by the smoke from the explosion.
「O-OiOi… Did he die?」
「It was a huge explosion… he actually might have.」
There was a stir in the audience.
「A-Allen…? Please tell me it’s a lie…?」
This was Ria’s quavering voice.
「That’s why I told you to surrender… You fool.」
And this was – Claude-san’s voice!
While the smoke was keeping her out of sight – I relied only on her voice and grasped her position.
「-It still isn’t over, you know?」
I pierced out of the cloud of smoke and raised the signal of counterattack.
「Eighth Sword – Yatagarasu!」
Claude-san was in anguish, as two slashes struck her shoulder and leg.
「Ki-Kisama… are you invulnerable!?」
「No, of course your attack was effective…!」
I swung my sword determinedly even while exchanging words.
On the other hand – she was forced to be on the defensive.
(Yoshi…! I have the overwhelming advantage now that the distance has been closed…!)
(Dammit… I can’t use the bombs when he’s this close…)
〈Avio Troop〉, its ability is manipulation and explosion.
Both are good for medium and long distance fights.
In addition, the shape of the long sword.
A long sword is a medium-ranged weapon, and at this distance, she can’t counterattack easily.
(I will finish things here!)
「Fifth Sword – World Judgment!」
As I tried to unleash a large swing, Claude-san expressed a smile.
「I’ve already prepared a countermeasure to deal with the weakness of close-combat.」
When she suddenly opened her right hand,
There was a small parakeet made of a pebble.
(Was she concealing it…!? But if it’s an explosion of this size – no problem! )
The moment I swung down the certain kill blow.
A dazzling light burst from the parakeet’s body – my field of view was enveloped in white.
It wasn’t a bomb, it was a flash bomb.
When I was deprived of sight by the violent light, I exposed a huge opening.
Claude-san slashed my defenseless abdomen.
I felt a sharp pain, and jumped back at once.
My flickering vision gradually became clear, and when I immediately check the condition of the cut wound,
Strangely enough, the wound was shallow.
(Did she not cut through properly…? Or did she not step in properly?)
In any case, I was saved by her mistake.
And when I felt relieved,
「Ki-Kisama, do you usually eat iron or something…!? (The sword doesn’t cut through…!? That’s impossible, what hard skin… In the first place, he’s unhurt after that huge explosion!? Body strengthening-type soul dress… No, there is no sign of that. Damn… What kind of magic did he use!?)」
While turning pale, Claude-san shouted something that doesn’t make sense for some reason.
「…What are you saying? Of course not…」
I’ve never heard of anyone who eats iron.
「Then – here I come.」
And when I stepped forward,
Claude-san took a step back.
Her complexion had turned pale, and her previous confidence had completely disappeared.
(I’ve already gotten used to the explosions.)
Either〈Avio Troop〉has weakened, or my body has adapted to the explosion.
Even though it was a big explosion, it didn’t do as much damage as I had expected.
Now, even if I was subjected to a series explosion of the swallows and the crows, I will probably not bear a single wound.
(There’s nothing to fear anymore.)
All I have to do is solely attack!