Volume 7 Chapter 5 Part 2
Despite all this, I succeeded in landing a critical blow because my opponent—Count Gaze—has a refined swordsmanship. There are various movements when wielding swords, but when it comes to movement for optimized attacks, your options become limited. The more the Count practiced the sword, the more efficient and uniform his movements became. To be able to fight a hundred times and swing the same sword a hundred times is the result of training.
That’s why it’s easy to predict his movement. The most frightening part of this type of swordsmanship is the fact that you can’t stop it even if you can predict it. But if you can activate a Critical Counter, you can make up for the difference in strength.
Confused by the fact that his sword was parried, Count Gaze tried to fix his stance. I swung my sword for a follow-up attack, but I stopped halfway.
The Count grinned. “So you noticed,” he said. “Not bad at all.”
Count Gaze wasn’t really off-balance, he was just pretending to be. In the first place, the sword that he’s using doesn’t rely on strength to overpower the enemy. It’s not that unusual to have your sword parried by a type of swordsman who’s much stronger than you.
When the Count swung his sword at me, he took into account the possibility of his sword being parried. When that happened, he didn’t just let things end there, instead he baited me into launching a follow-up attack, making me create an opening for him to take advantage of. It’s a kind of tactic that can only be used once, but if you behead your opponent in that one opening, you win.
“I didn’t know knights use such a dirty tactic,” I said.
“Why not? A knight’s duty is protect the people, not his pride. A knight must use any means necessary to achieve victory.”
Count Gaze swung his sword once more. Rather than putting his weight on the sword, he focused more on speed. He just wants to hit me. Once again, I stopped it my sword. With a Critical Counter, I parried his weapon back. His swing was weaker than before, but that made it more difficult to counter. Reducing power increases the flexibility of the sword’s movement, thereby making it harder to trigger Critical Counters.
“Looks sure can be deceiving!” the Count roared.
He raised his sword again. I tried to parry it, but this time Critical Counter did not proc.
The Count’s swing had no power at all, as if he emphasized speed instead. But my sword was being pushed back easily. Our weapons were locked, but it was clear that I was at a disadvantage.
There is simply too much difference in raw power. The difference in physical strength between a spellcaster and a knight that specializes in swords (I don’t know his exact class, but I’m pretty sure he’s a swordsman-type) is too great. Only a critical hit from the spellcaster can make up for that difference.
Count Gaze looked surprised for a moment at the difference in the blow, then he muttered. “I see. Those were Miracle Strikes just now!”
“So what if they were?”
Looks like he figured it out. The question is how he’s going to end this match for good.
Instead of answering my question, the Count uttered the name of his Skill. Guard Crush is an offensive Skill that smashes the opponent’s defense using tremendous power.
He made the right move. While offensive Skills are incredibly powerfuly, they have a drawback—that is, limiting the caster’s movement. In many cases, activating a Skill just as you’re about to clash swords with your opponent can create a huge opening.
But if you cast it while locking weapons with an opponent, they can’t dodge it. The enemy could push back with their own Skill, in which case, it would be a battle of power. If you’re confident in your own strength, your victory is pretty much assured once you lock weapons.
Count Gaze wore a look that said he won, but he still watched me carefully as he activated his Skill. In response, I pulled myself back. Surprise flashed on the Count’s face.
Right now, the only thing holding back Count Gaze’s sword is my sword. If I pulled the sword back, his sword would reach me.
The Count is using a real sword, while I’m not wearing any armor. The sharpness of the sword, the stats of a swordsman class, and the power of Guard Crush all combined, could at worst slice me in half, or at best, leave me with a fatal wound.
The expression on Count Gaze’s face gradually changed to panic. Not because he thought he would lose, but because he was about to kill me.
Sure, we’re having a duel, but it’s not like he actually meant to kill me. I had no intention of killing him either, and I wasn’t going to let myself get killed. I mean, considering our respective positions, there’s no way a fatal match would be allowed.
Unfortunately, his panic could not stop his sword. In exchange for immense power, the Skill limits the movement of the caster severely, not allowing for any shift in the motion until the end of the Skill’s duration, whether his sword is dodged or he lands an unexpected clean hit.
Count Gaze’s sword struck me on my side, and stopped. His weapon didn’t stop because he intended to. It stopped for a simpler reason. It wasn’t powerful enough to cut through my body.
My sword closed in on Count Gaze. The reason I pulled my weapon back was so I could attack at this exact moment.
Hitting a skilled swordsman with a sword is difficult. But if you can completely neutralize an opponent’s attack, things become way easier. In a normal fight, striking each other at the same moment is a loss, but under the right conditions, a simultaneous strike from both sides can mean victory. No, not even that. It doesn’t have to be during a simultaneous strike. Just launching an all-out self-destructive attack equals victory.
The problem is that normal fights don’t come with such a broken condition, but a Sage has a way to make this condition happen temporarily.
Magic Veil. It’s a Skill that uses mana to nullify any physical damage you take. While active, each attack received drains a large amount of mana, but I’m pretty much invincible until my mana is completely depleted.
The spell is very mana-inefficient. Against Steam Explosion, I could die with only one shot. But against Guard Crush, even when I have nothing to protect myself with, I only consume about twenty percent of my mana.
In contrast, Count Gaze, who received the brunt of my attack without any sort of defensive Skill, did not get away that easily.
With a pained grunt, the Count staggered as he was struck by a blow from the top of his armor. No critical hit procced, so I couldn’t knock him way back, but I had more than enough opening now.
Thrusting my hand to the Count, I cast my spell. The fireball from my hand shot past the Count’s cheek and landed on the ground. I didn’t hit him, but it was clear that if I really wanted to, I could have.
“Do you still want to continue?” I asked the stunned Count.
He was still alive because I missed on purpose. If this was an actual battlefield, he’d be dead. And he knew that.
“No. I surrender.”
The Count let go of his sword, and it fell to the ground with a clang.