436 p2. Noble Faction and New School Year 
「Sakura Blossom One-Sword Style – Consecutive Sakura Flashes!」
A storm of thrusts unleashed once again.
Maddy, who was caught off guard by the unexpected charge and was one breath behind in reacting, made a quick decision to backstep.
She kept her distance from Rose’s range while barely dodging attacks on her vital points.
「Haa haa… So that resilience is your pride, huh? You adopted a fighting style that doesn’t care for defense…」
「I am literally “invincible” when〈100 Million Year Sakura〉is manifested.」
「Conditional invincibility, huh… The more powerful your soul dress and true soul dress’ abilities are, the more severe restrictions are placed on them. So the weakness of your soul dress is its short duration, right?」
「Yeah, that’s right.〈100 Million Year Sakura〉consumes too much fuel that my spiritual power is exhausted quickly, and so it has a duration. What are you going to do? Wait until the duration runs out?」
Maddy snorted in response to Rose’s question.
「Don’t be silly. Who would want to eat a shriveled up radish? Of course, I’ll have the crisp one!」
「Fu, that’s what I want too!」
With a belligerent smile, Rose tapped her heels.
「—Thousand Roots of Kwannon!」
Three huge roots protruded from the ground.
「Hah! What are you trying to pull off with the roots!」
Maddy tried to cut off the approaching roots with her sharp white blade, but…
「Wha–!?(It’s just a stupid root, but it’s filled with an absurd spiritual power…)」
The Phantom Spirit〈100 Million Year Sakura〉is a collection of spiritual power. Its roots are unusually hard, and even the blade of the〈Citrus〉was repelled.
「Kuh… Don’t underestimate meeee!!」
With her outstanding physical strength and swordsmanship, Maddy parried the roots and closed in on Rose, bringing both of them into close combat with that momentum.
Crossing swords at zero distance while their feet were on the ground.
Swords collided, spiritual power bounced around, and fresh blood splattered on the ground.
In the midst of the fierce sword fight, as if even tiny openings are of extreme value, strikes and kicks were weaved in.
The match was an extremely simple war of attrition.
Whose stamina and spiritual power will run out first, Rose or Maddy?
After that, at the end of the frantic sword fight, Maddy was the first to reach her limit.
「Got you now…!」
「Cra–… Ka, ha…」
Maddy was thrown across the stage as Rose’s sharp sidekick landed on her.
「…Shit… you’re strong.」
She slowly stood up, wiping the blood off the corners of her mouth.
Perhaps the supply of spiritual power from〈Citrus〉had run out, as her tattered body never recovered.
No matter how you looked at it, Maddy’s body was covered in wounds, and she was wounded so severely that she couldn’t even swing her sword anymore. In such a desperate situation, Maddy showed the biggest smile this entire day.
「Then, I’ll give you my last big attack!」
At the same time as the whole venue roared, the towering Citrus tree behind Maddy withered away, and an enormous amount of spiritual power dwelled in the white blade of〈Citrus〉.
「The next one… The next slash will be a slash that contains my whole body, soul, spiritual power and everything else that I’ve got!」
In a normal battle, you do not pour all of your spiritual power into a single swing. Moreover, you don’t declare it to your opponent.
If that final swing is avoided, your defeat will be decided at that moment.
「Come, I’ll take it.」
The swordsman named Rose Valencia would never pick up such an unrefined victory.
They both hope for a real end where they gave it their all.
Maddy understood that, and that’s why she dared to declare it.
A strong relationship of trust was built between the two who exchanged swords fiercely.
Amidst the fleeting silence and tense atmosphere,
「So… Here I come.」
As their gazes met, Maddy swung down her white blade.
「Citrus Style Secret Technique – Heaven’s White Silk!」
A maximum power white light was unleashed.
Reminiscent of mythical thunder, it rushed forward while erasing everything in a straight line.
Rose, on the other hand,
「Sakura Blossom One Sword Style Secret Technique―」
She slowly held up her sakura sword.
It was a strange moment.
It was both slow and fast. As if the flow of time had been stretched out, it was an inexplicable moment.
Right in that instant, it overlapped.
Her stance, her standing posture, her breathing – perfectly overlapped with Bacchus Valencia, the swordsman who was once hailed as the strongest in the world.
「–Mirrored Sakura Slash.」
Blades of sakura blossomed in full glory, dyeing the world in the color of sakura.
Amidst a tremendous shock wave and dust storm, the soul dress〈100 Million Year Sakura〉and the true soul dress〈Citrus〉disappeared at the same time.
When the dust cleared away, there stood an unharmed Rose and a Maddy who was riddled with wounds.
(No way… even with those wounds, she is still…? A strengthening-type true soul dress user is this strong?)
Maddy was so extremely wounded that it was strange that she was even alive, but she was still standing on her own two feet.
While everyone was at a loss for words,
「…Rose Valencia…you’re the coolest person ever…」
Maddy praised Rose with a happy smile and slowly collapsed.
「Maddy Malm, incapable of fighting! Therefore, the winner – Rose Valencia!」
When the live commentator’s declaration of victory roared, the audience erupted in thunderous cheers.
「Rose Valencia, you’re an unbelievable swordsman!」
「Miss Maddy was amazing too!」
「This battle will definitely go down in the history of the Sword King Festival!」
All the audience stood up and gave a generous round of applause.
(…Strong. Rose is, after all, incredibly strong!)
A fair and square serious match that kept you at the edge of your seat.
Both Rose and Maddy were truly wonderful swordsmen.
Even as the excitement of the fierce battle had not yet cooled, four medical staff rushed over to Maddy.
「H-Hey, this is dangerous…」
「As expected of a strengthening-type true soul dress user. In a normal scenario, she would have died a long time ago…」
「Bring me a stretcher! Hurry up!」
「Make an emergency contact to the recovery-type soul dress users! Have them standby in the infirmary and charge their spiritual power to the maximum so that the treatment can begin within a minute!」
As they were proceeding with first aid in a careful and prompt manner,
Maddy, on the stretcher, extended her right hand toward Rose.
「What is it?」
「Haa haa… next year, let’s do it again!」
Maddy smiled brightly while saying so.
It was a smile that was completely honest without any ill-will.
On the other hand, Rose, who received the “Booking Reservation” for next year,
「Of course! I wouldn’t have it any other way!」
She smiled happily and held Maddy’s right hand firmly.
Rose and Maddy, it looks like these two will continue to build a good rivalry in the future.
After that, Rose stepped down from the stage and slowly walked towards us with exhausted steps.
「Good job, Rose. That was a most wonderful fight!」
「You did well, Rose! You were so cool!」
Ria and I said so.
「As expected of Rose-san, to win against a true soul dress user.」
「When you pulled out the 100 Million Year Sakura, even the great Lilim-sama was stunned!」
「It was so unbelievably beautiful, though!」
「I was mesmerized by Rose-senpai’s sword fighting!」
The president, Lilim-senpai, Ferris-senpai, and Lou also gave words of praise.
「Fuu… That’s why I told you to leave it to me, right–」
Rose suddenly stumbled a step forward and leaned against my chest.
「A-Are you okay!?」
「Yes… sorry. I’m feeling the effect of spiritual power deficiency. If I take it easy for a while, it will get better soon.」
As she slowly regained her posture, she sat on a bench nearby and quenched her thirst with the water bottle she had brought with her.
She should be fine after this.
Anyway, it’s two wins and two losses.
The victory or defeat of Thousand Blade Academy will be decided by the battle between the Generals – the battle between me and Shin Rex.
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