The slash that would become fatal if I took a straight blow struck me like a storm.
I could only endure it in a breathless state, and when I was about to get pushed out of my way, Yuki released me from that state.
It was a rope with a hook on the tip. It was the first time I saw him using this weapon, but he used it at a perfect time and it twined around the old man’s arm, stopping his movement for a moment.
I pressed down on the old man to make the best of the opportunity Yuki made, and swing down my sword with all of my might.
This was a telling blow that hit him for the first time. Even so, it was shallow.
With his arm restricted, he twisted his body to avoid the fatal injury. How could he even avoid it in this position!?
I continued with the second attack.
But before that, the old man pulled the rope that was restraining him and slipped away quickly.
He avoided my sword like it was a matter of course. After that, there was the sound of Yuki falling to the ground after having his rope pulled.
The rope that was released from Yuki’s hand was flung to who knows where from the old man’s hand.
「Ah, it hurts!」
「Are you alright?」
I watched out for the old man’s attack standing in the middle and wait for Yuki to stand up.
「Well, both of our are not really bad. I didn’t expect that I will receive a blow this easily.」
「…Thanks for the praise, then.」
Wasn’t that just a graze, though?
I didn’t think he was at a level more than my expectations. To be precise, this was just a hopeless skill gap.
I didn’t have any experience in fighting with an opponent who had such a large gap with me in my memory. This was a completely unknown area for me.
I didn’t know if it was because of the lizardman’s racial traits or the wall of the HP, but he didn’t really bleed much. His breath was also normal.
On the other hand, as the result of giving my utmost effort, my breath had gone up in this short period of time. Even though I was confident in my physical strength, what a joke. This was too shameful.
The countdown within my sight hadn’t even decreased by one minute.
I saw Yuki’s hand at the corner of my eyes. I’m also going to the front.
…This old man certainly wasn’t an opponent that could be defeated with the long-ranged attack.
I readied myself and closed my distance with him again.
This was probably the best attack I had released today, yet it would still get hampered by this old man’s sword.
Still, he didn’t destroy my stance, probably because he couldn’t parry it of..
This time, it was my turn to swing my sword, continued with the second and the third time. They were blocked by his sword and never reached the old man, but I was still the attacker.
And then, Yuki who approached and used my body as a screen, started his attack from the interval. Alright, good timing.
The old man raised his voice, probably because Yuki’s attack from the unobstructed place was unexpected.
Although Yuki’s blade didn’t reach him, we succeeded in attacking him in his unguarded moment, destroying the old man’s stance who was evading the attack.
I swing down my sword as if to pierce that interval. Yuki also entered his next move.
The sword moved as if it was drawing an inevitable trajectory, being sucked into the old man’s body.
But the moment I was convinced that I would definitely hit him, a strong impact ran on my side.
My vision rolled around. No, I was flying in the air.
What? What happened?
I was blown off just like that and fell to the ground.
Without being able to understand what just happened, I used the momentum when I was rolling to wake up and prepared to pursuit him.
There was a dull pain on my side. This was not the pain of being slashed… No way, did he kick me?
I caught Yuki who flew from the front at once. When I held him like this, he was smaller than my imagination.
Looking at how the old man’s foot was raised, did Yuki also get kicked?
It was not normal to make people fly this far just by a kick. Even though his physique wasn’t that different from mine, just how much power did he have?
「T-thank you, Tsuna.」
I put Yuki down and faced the old man from a long distance. Damn, my stomach hurts.
My focus had gone entirely to his swordsmanship. This was not a sword match, so of course his legs would come out, damn it.
I didn’t have enough power. I didn’t have enough speed. Not even my reaction speed and experience in confronting strong enemies could reach him. Above all, my swordsmanship was not enough.
Our ability was too separated, it was like a child fighting with an adult. This difference was not something that only《 Melee Combat 》could fill.
His swordsmanship was definitely not come only from his physical ability and experience. He definitely received the benefit from《 Swordsmanship 》skill or something similar to that.
How much difference did this old man make by having a lot of skill like what Chitta-san showed to me? No, he might have even much more than that.
Was this the Labyrinth City adventurer? ….He was even restricted now, so this old man was definitely a monster.
Even though this was a great opportunity to kill us, the old man didn’t chase us.
When I looked at him, the old man was standing still, beckoning at us. He was giving us too much flexibility.
Earlier, he kicked us easily. I still couldn’t see a chink of his sword even until now.
However, using my large body to screen Yuki’s small body was not bad. It was quite effective for our opponent who almost had no difference in physical build with me.
「Yuki, what we did just now worked. Let’s try it again.」
「Got it. …Be careful of his feet.」
We readied ourselves to confront the old man again.
It was at that time.
I noticed a system message in the corner of my vision.[You have mastered the “Swordsmanship” skill.]
It was actually a slight difference.
I didn’t know how to swing the sword, the angle, how much power should I apply, how to place my feet, what was the optimal position, but I could see those points being corrected from my movement until now.
My swordsmanship was self-styled, relying on my《 Melee Combat 》,《 One-handed Weapon 》, and also my experiences from my previous combats, so having them properly corrected with the well-structured《 Swordsmanship 》made I feel sublimated.
Each one of them was a slight difference, and if someone looked at it from outside, they wouldn’t see a difference. Even so, it was a huge difference for me who used it.
In fact, I finally could continue attacking the opponent who we couldn’t touch with Yuki’s assistance.
Even so, there was still a big gap between our movement before it could be considered optimal. With the slight slippage, a gap was created and he counterattacked.
My arm was sliced, but it was just my skin. It didn’t become a hindrance in my movement. This was nothing.
「Well, you learnt something at the last minute, huh?」
The opponent was convinced, but I didn’t need to give them any information. I ignored him.
Focus, focus, focus.
It’s alright, If it was just a few mistakes, Yuki would cover it. I believed so and tried to engage in close combat again.
Probably, I didn’t obtain this《 Swordsmanship 》skill from this battle alone.
In addition to my experiences in fighting at the mountain and dungeon, it was manifested by seeing and experiencing the lizard’s old man’s swordsmanship.
There was no doubt that the timing was good, but the uncle’s move was too much for me to push through it. I could even say that it was inevitable that I learnt something from this.
The most important thing to optimize this skill was to “see” him.
I recognized and learnt the old man’s sword movement, angle, trajectory, and leg movement. I didn’t miss every single move and used it as a feedback for my《 Swordsmanship 》.
I see, this was certainly a good “study”. I was having a match with the best reference book. I wanted to thank him.
Matching with Yuki’s attack, I unleashed a blow to his disorganized posture that couldn’t be called as a chance.
Although it wasn’t perfect, it overlapped with the ideal movement that could be judged as my most optimum for now. With the precision of passing through the hole of a needle, I managed to make a strike into the slight chance created at the gap of the old man’s sword.
It was the first blow that broke through the old man’s sword wall and made an effective hit.
Although there was a moment of indecision after I stroke him, he returned with a large swing and opened a distance again.
Even so, my posture hadn’t collapsed as well. I could keep continuing like this. I went forward again to press him.
No matter how many times it would take, I would leave my way through the gap of his sword barrier and persist in attacking him!