Last Embryo Volume 2 Chapter 7 Part 6
But just like it always did, her beloved linked serpent sword managed to sieze a path through all of the Paopei, and was now heading straight for Shen Gongbao herself.
Indeed, that weapon was just as sharp, fast and precise as the stories about it were making it out to be. Shen Gongbao now saw that the arrow which beheaded her before wasn’t just something that could be attributed to dumb luck itself, and that that attack worked because the one who fired that arrow was that skilled of a warrior. However, as fast and precise as this sword was, it didn’t possess enough raw force to knock her jewels out of the sky, and that’s why it was instead trying to find a path in between them, so all she had to do keep herself safe was to reposition them in a tighter defensive formation. After all, it matters not how fast the snake might be, when faced with the might of the storm, all it can do is to get caught in the whirlpool and be swept along at the mercy of its air currents.
Shen Gongbao was absolutely certain that the victory was going to be hers, but as it turned out, she was a bit to hasty in making that assumption, because Ayato knew from the very beginning that her attacks won’t be enough to destroy the Paopei, and her current actions only worked to support that. Therefore, there was only one way for her to survive the onslaught that was unfolding right before her eyes.
The moment when her Serpens Scorpius’ tip has been swallowed by one of the whirlwind-generating jewels… only for that jewel to suddenly change its direction and crash into another one, causing a chain reaction where all of the Paopei began to bump into one another, throwing Shen Gongbao’s entire formation into chaotic disarray.
Both Shen Gongbao and Byakko couldn’t believe their eyes, that is how impossible was the thing both of them just witnessed. They were aware that what that girl did was some kind of special attack, but because they were fully aware of what it was, it didn’t lessen the impact of what they just saw even by one bit, so they couldn’t help themselves but to feel so astonished that after the initial verbal outburst both of them fell silent.
Up to the point where the tip of that girl’s sword has been swallowed up by the wind-controlling Paopei everything was going exactly like Shen Gongbao planned, but anything after that was completely derailed from her original predictions, because Ayato suddenly ordered her weapon to withdraw, pulling the Paopei back with it, and because of that the flow of air was drastically changed, altering the trajectory of the Paopei that controlled it, causing it to crash into the other ones as a result.
Right now, there was really nothing at all standing between Ayato and Shen Gongbao. Ayato planned on closing the gap between them in one go, but Byakko and Asterios didn’t allow her to do so by jumping between the two of them. Asterios swung his double-edged battle axe down at her from atop Byakko’s back, but she blocked it with just one hand by procuring her Gift card again and taking her other weapon, the spear, out of it. Of course, she stood no chance as long as the contest of pure power was concerned, but again, her aim here was not just a mindless collision and a following tug-of-war.
The Minotaur’s downswing was supposed to crush Ayato with a single strike, but it slid off of the spear’s slightly slanted edge, cutting nothing but empty air right next to her. The inertia caused it to drop off while showering the surroundings with an explosion of sparks, but that was not a mere coincidence either. Ayato did that precisely because she anticipated that such a manuever was going to make the battle-axe wielder lose his balance, and took the actions which would inevitably lead to such a conclusion.
「Khh….!! You’re… you’re way different from the person that fought me the other day. Just who the hell are you?!」
Asterios and Byakko had no other choice but to distance themselves from her once again. It was quite shameful for the both of them to admit that, but they had to agree that staying near that girl for even a second longer would be catastrophical for them. They had no idea where she learned them of who taught it to her, but her fighting style and the martial arts she was employing were unlike anything they have ever seen.
But Ayato wasn’t so lax as to overlook such a critical opening that presented itself to her the moment her opponents dared to hesitate, even if it was for the briefest of moments.
(If your enemy appears to be shaken, capitalize on that and use it against him to drive him into a corner without giving him even a moment to breathe!)
That was a lesson which she learned the hard-way courtesy of Scathach-sensei, as well as the one that once she has bitten her teeth into the target’s throat, she was to never let go until the enemy was utterly and thoroughly defeated. She immediately sheathed the sword and spear back into the Gift card and took out the bow from it and started to rapidly fire arrow after arrow without even bothering herself with the distance that was between them. The three arrows she fired all at once managed to reach Asterios and graze his right shoulder, left foot and cheek. Those injuries were the testament to their opponent’s divine fighting prowess, and a proof that up until this moment all three of them have been taking this girl Knight way too lightly.
「Ugh…! She’s… she’s strong…!」
That was the only way Asterios could comment on what just happened with a voice filled with pain and anguish. Compared to the last time when he fought with her in his Minotaur form back in the Outer World, she now seemed like a completely different person in terms of her combat abilities. Maybe those weapons of hers made such a difference… no, that was not it, it was something more than that. It was as if the very nature of her being has gone through a complete metamorphosis.
Spear for close, a sword-whip hybrid for medium and a bow for long range combat… just what kind of a monster was she, really? Even though she was outmatched 3 to 1 by no less than legendary beings and she still managed to overturn the situation in her favor all the while cleverly playing with them across all possible ranges. Such a feat required a true skill, and the absolute mastery of one’s weaponry and fighting style, and she managed to do all that with finesse unbefitting of someone who, judging by her looks alone, should have been green and inexperienced. It only now became obvious to Asterios that with his level of skill, fighting against someone like the Queen’s Knight will be extremely difficult. He was even willing to hazard a guess that she was his battle axe’s natural born enemy.
However, no matter how strong or skilled she was, there were bound to be things that even she should be helpless against, and the falling of the Giant Spirit Train was bound to be one of them. If only the divine protection of this area’s Ley Line disappeared completely, then the speed of the fall would have been accelerated even further, but even with it still around, they were approaching the ground at the speed that was much too fast for comfort. Looking left and right to confirm her surroundings, a drop of sweat appeared on Ayato’s forehead.
(This is bad! At this rate we’re going to crash down onto the Labyrinth!)
In an attempt to break the impact of the fall even by a little bit, Ayato stabbed her spear into the Giant Spirit Train’s deck, but then, Suzuka suddenly appeared before her.
「Aya, grab my hand!」
「Suzuka?! W-What are you doing here?!」
「We’ll talk later! Right now I have to do something to stop the train from falling!」
「S-Stop it?! The fall?! You?! How?!」
For that moment, Ayato reverted back to her original, 14-years-old self who was just an ordinary girl. Confused at Suzuka’s overly bold statement, she linked her sword back together, since her initial idea to have it coil around Suzuka would have probably not be of much help in the grand scheme of things. Understanding that she won’t be able to do much by herself, she decided to follow Suzuka’s lead, because with her Gift, there was a legitimate chance that things won’t end up as badly as they could if she wasn’t around.
With such a monumental task ahead of her, you’d think that Suzuka would be troubled, or nervous, but contrary to Ayato’s expectations, she looked calm and composed, to an almost unbelievable degree.
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