437 p3. Noble Faction and New School Year 
(Now then, how will you handle it?)
I shifted my weight onto my toes and leaned forward so that I could engage in close combat at any moment.
On the other hand, Shin―after taking a quick glance at me, cut the approaching Flying Shadow in two with a single stroke.
「Allen Rodore, you are certainly strong. But no matter how strong you are, it is futile. After all, I am an existence one level above the concept of “strength”.」
「Good for you.」
While ignoring his nonsense, I revved up my thought process.
(…There are three restrictions, it seems.)
(1) When applying a rule, the target must be slashed.
Whether it was the penetrating stone, muddy stage, or blade of wind, Shin slashed at the target of the rules with his〈Emperor Rule〉.
There is no doubt that it’s definitely a necessary condition for granting rules.
② Rules must be declared orally.
After Shin slashed at what he wanted to apply rules to, he always said the target’s name and the rule.
This act must also be a condition for activating〈Emperor Rule〉’s ability.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have taken it upon himself to reveal the information.
(And the third restriction… I’m still in the hypothetical stage on this, but I think I’m probably right.)
Up until now, Shin has called〈Emperor Rule〉a perfect soul dress, and has wielded its power as if to show it off. The arrogant and super-confident man, for some reason, didn’t use his ability only at that time.
(In the state where there were already two rules – Dark Shadow → Disperse・Dark Roar → Disappear – he chose not to grant Flying Shadow the third rule, and chose to cut it down instead. Moreover, just before that, he glanced at me for a moment. Probably because I was leaning forward, he considered the possibility of close combat.)
③ A maximum of two rules can be maintained at the same time, and if the limit is exceeded, the oldest rules will disappear in order.
If you think about it this way, it makes a lot of sense.
At that time, if a rule was attached to Flying Shadow, the rule of Dark Shadow → Disperse would disappear.
Flying Shadow for long distances and Dark Shadow for both near and far. When considering close combat, which one should be tied up was plain as daylight.
(In other words, Shin didn’t want to break the rule that “Dark Shadow will disperse”, so he deliberately cut down Flying Shadow without using his ability.)
The same was true when the stone stage suddenly became muddy and I lost my mobility.
After the Stone Stage → Swamp rule was added, the “Blade” and “Penetrate” rules were added to the wind. Then, all of a sudden, the swamp rule given to the stone stage disappeared.
To sum up the restrictions of ①②③……〈Emperor Rule〉is a very powerful soul dress, but it requires two processes of slashing → rule declaration before the ability can be activated, and the maximum number of rules that can be maintained at the same time is two.
(…I can finally see it.)
If you calmly analyze it, it’s not that difficult.
In order to break through the defense of〈Emperor Rule〉, all I have to do is unleash three different types of attacks at the same time.
「Haa… I don’t know what you’re thinking about, but it’s futile futile futile. Everything will end up meaningless and worthless anyway. The whole world will prostrate itself before me, after all.」
While saying that, Shin slashed his sword sideways. The next instant,
「–The space will shrink.」
Shin was standing right in front of my nose tip.
It’s not that he closed the distance.
The distance was literally destroyed.
As a result of the space between Shin and me shrinking to the utmost limit, the distance between us became zero.
「This is going to hurt.」
A series of rain-like attacks were unleashed from the sword imbued with ridiculous spiritual power.
Due to the unexpected approach, I was caught in a storm of slashed as a result of my delayed reaction.
(A simple thrust is so powerful…)
I couldn’t help but to retreat back… but then a follow-up attack approached.
「I won’t let you escape – The impact will become a raging storm.」
Shin held〈Emperor Rule〉high up in the sky, and slashed at the stone stage with all his might.
Everyone expected a terrific shock wave to occur―but that did not happen, instead a huge raging storm concealing an immense spiritual power burst forth and slashed my whole body into shreds.
(Shit, the degree of freedom is too high…)
The attacks come from outside of common sense. The next move is completely unpredictable.
(But… right now, two rules are active!)
The rule limit of〈Emperor Rule〉has been filled to the maximum.
If my hypothesis is correct, the rules for “Dark Shadow” and “Dark Roar” should have been lifted.
As I manifested it inside my left fist so as not to be noticed by Shin, the Dark Shadow manifested normally.
(Okay, I was right!)
As expected, the rule “Dark Shadow will disperse” has been lifted.
This completes the conditions for victory.
(The match will end in an instant, a very short-term decisive battle! I will end it with the next attack!)
I put off recovery and started the final preparations.
「That technique will not work– huh?」
Tentacles of darkness stretched out quickly, as if encircling Shin.
In that state, I moved to the next move.
「Sixth Sword – Dark Roar!」
At the same time as unleashing the gigantic jet-black slash, the Dark Shadows on standby were also fired.
「Hmm, it looks like you used your head a bit. But two consecutive attacks will not– Wha!?」
For the first time since the match started, Shin’s face showed astonishment.
No wonder, as I had completely captured Shin’s rear when I hid myself in Dark Roar.
「I have already seen through your trick, b”astard! Tenth Sword – Dark Heaven Slash!」
An omnidirectional attack with three slashes: the Dark Shadow advancing from below, the full-might Dark Roar rushing in from the front, and the Dark Heaven Slash exploding from behind.
There is no way to escape due to the omnidirectional nature of the attack, no defense is possible due to the use of as much spiritual power as possible, and it is impossible to nullify all of them due to there being three different slashes.
「Got”chu you now!」
The moment I was convinced of my victory,
Shin laughed rottenly, and everything fell apart.
What existed there — was nothing.
The Dark Shadow, Dark Roar, and Dark Heaven Slash disappeared like an illusion.
As I was dumbfounded, a sharp blade approached me.
「Unfortunately, see you next year.」
〈Emperor Rule〉drew an arc.
A deep and sharp slash gouged out my flesh and cut my bones.
Because I used almost all of my darkness to attack, I took an almost fatal injury.
Having received too much damage, I fell to my knees while bleeding profusely.
「I wonder why? You can’t understand it, right? Because that’s the power of Emperor Rule!」
Shin spread his hands wide and spoke cheerfully.
I understood when I saw his mocking demeanor.
This guy has a really rotten fighting style.
「B”astard… at that time, you deliberately cut Flying Shadow because…」
「Hmm? Oh, that. I just played with you for a bit. A reckless and stupid loser who tried to conquer〈Emperor Rule〉.」
The fact that he cut down Flying Shadow without using his ability, and that he looked at me just before, everything was fake.
(Come to think of it, he was a disagreeable guy the whole time…)
During this battle, Shin was laughing the whole time.
Laughing at me, who was desperately searching for the weaknesses of〈Emperor Rule〉.
「That’s why I said it at the beginning, didn’t I?〈Emperor Rule〉is a “perfect soul dress”! There is no limit to the number of rules that can be maintained, and there is no need to express the specific rules! There’s no need for me to go out of my way to slash at the target! I can force the rule of absolute compliance to anything I touch, anything I target! It’s the ultimate and strongest power!」
「Yeah, normally it’s impossible. But it definitely exists. That’s why I’m a special existence.」
Shin said with a bright smile.
「But well… let’s stop playing.」
His expression suddenly changed, and his quiet, cold eyes turned towards me.
「I’ve heard from the noble faction that your spirit core is unbelievably ferocious, isn’t it? It would be troublesome if it goes out of control, so let’s end it here.」
「…B”astard, don’t think that everything will move according to your convenience!」
I emitted darkness from my palm and used that power to spring up.
I put all the spiritual power I had into the black sword and unleashed the strongest slash.
「Fifth Sword – World Judgement!」
「As I have been saying, it’s useless – The Black Sword is fragile.」
In an instant, the Black Sword that was about to slash Shin shattered.
The strongest slash that cut through the prison of time, the Black Sword that had overcome all kinds of adversity, was shattered into pieces.
「Have you come to understand it now? In any generation, the one who makes the rules is the strongest.」
The next moment―.
〈Emperor Rule〉was deeply thrust into my chest.
An organ that should never be destroyed―the heart, was destroyed.
(No. I can’t let him pull this out. Absolutely not…)
I bit down the sharp pain that welled up and tightened the muscles around my chest.
Don’t let him pull out〈Emperor Rule〉, and keep it stuck in my chest.
「Ahaha, you’re doing something clever. Tightening your muscles so that I can’t draw out my sword.」
Shin kept an innocent smile on his face.
「But that is also an ugly struggle.」
He punched me in the chest.
「Allen Rodore’s heart stops.」
It was unlike any other attack I’ve received thus far.
It was not an attack which aimed for your life.
A beyond-reason attack that simply ends your life.
(What is this…my body is…heavy….I can’t thi…nk…)
Oxygen does not reach my brain. I couldn’t organize my thoughts well.
My senses are getting farther… and farther…… away.
My flickering vision eventually turned black.
(Once again… I am…)
I–the swordsman named Allen Rodore, died.
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