Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Stealth vs Master Swordsman (Main Battle)
「No answer… Then can you at least tell me what you’re after? If you don’t, I’ll have to cut you down.」Lawrence said.
He didn’t use the more direct term “kill”, which sent a chill down to Hikaru’s bones. He had never experienced a matter of life and death quite like this. He had to make himself believe that the captain didn’t know his exact location or he wouldn’t even be able to move at all. Hikaru ignored the girl for now. His target this time was the captain.
Was there a point in attacking the captain?
That question had been clawing at the corner of his mind ever since he stepped foot in the training facility. The answer was clear. Not much.
The captain thought Hikaru wanted to test his abilities. His goal of preventing the death of East was already fulfilled. It was nothing more than speculation, however.
Was there any benefit in attacking the captain then?
The answer was clear. He could turn that speculation into reality. Put it another way, that was all the benefit there was. Nothing more. Compare that to the risk of attacking the captain who was in a whole different league than the other commanders, it just wasn’t worth it.
Hikaru’s bad habit – his curiosity – was aching. He could find out how effective his Stealth really was. There hadn’t been anyone who he could use a hundred percent of his abilities on. Not until now.
He could go all out with the captain. After all, he had 8 points on Natural Recovery. The max points allowed for it was twenty, but eight was plenty enough. He wouldn’t die that easily.
The old him – the one back in Japan – wouldn’t take a risk like this. He stayed away from violence as much as possible. He never thought of testing his own strength. His life was peaceful.
In this world, life is valued lightly. Am I slowly conforming to that notion as well? Yikes… But it can’t be all that bad. One day, I’ll eventually learn of the limits of my Stealth and job class. This is my chance to find out sooner, rather than later.
In essence, this fight would be a safety measure.
Hikaru gripped the pebbles from his pockets tightly. He was behind the captain, about ten meters away and at an angle. A complete blindspot.
Here goes nothing!!
Mustering every ounce of his strength, Hikaru threw the pebble straight at the back of the captain’s head, which was exposed without any sort of protection. 0.3 second until the pebble would land.
I got him—
In the blink of an eye, the captain’s body rotated like a tornado. With his great sword, he smashed the pebble to pieces.
Hikaru accidentally let out a sound. How could he move like that?! How did he sense my attack even? By sound?
A flying pebble would make a sound as it cut through the wind. The speed of sound is 340 meters per second. The pebble would only make a sound once it was out of range of Hikaru’s Stealth. Yet the captain was able to hear it and then react quickly.
Impossible… No, maybe it is. That’s why he’s called the kingdom’s strongest.
Hairs stood all over Hikaru’s body. Lawrence’s eyes were fixed towards his direction.
「There you are.」
Oh, shit. This would be the second time he was face to face with death. The first was during his fatal traffic accident.
「You were promising, but this is the end for you!」
The captain brandished his large sword effortlessly, exposing the jet-black blade, its width uniform from base to tip.
The captain caught a glimpse of a black cloak behind a pillar. He brought the sword down with a flash, destroying the post along with the figure in black. Air pushed forward. The shockwave from the swing struck the wall of the building and burst outside. It wasn’t magic. Lawrence had zero knowledge about spells. He caused the shockwave by sheer power from him swinging his sword.
「…What a letdown.」
The cloud of dust settled. Under the rubble of the broken pillar was a black cloak.
Lawrence’s eyes widened. There was no body. Only the cloak was pinned underneath.
Holy crap! What the hell was that?! The guy’s not human!
Hikaru’s heart pounded in his chest. The trap he set earlier did its job. He hung his cloak on a spot where it could be seen for just a little. He then threw the pebble from that direction. Once the enemy followed the trajectory, the first thing he’d see would be the cloak, making it look like someone was hiding behind the pillar.
Hikaru set it up for insurance. He was actually optimistic, thinking he might not need it. Without any plate armor, he assumed the captain was an easy target for his pebbles.
That was way unexpected. What’s with that reaction time?
Hikaru was on the walkway on the second floor and threw the stone from there. Lawrence had an idea of the general direction where the attack came from, but he didn’t know the exact location of his foe. As proof, the captain was looking around restlessly, searching for him.
What ridiculous strength. That was probably the reason why the princess could come watch alone. The captain wouldn’t lose. That doesn’t answer the question of what she was doing here, however.
Should I get closer? But if do that I’d lose all the benefit of my Throwing skill.
One of the advantages of Throwing was he could attack his target while hiding. If he got close and his attack got blocked, or the captain recovered quickly thanks to his high Natural Recovery and then counterattacked, all would be for naught.
Should I retreat, then?
He considered it for a bit.
…Nah. Hikaru grinned while covered in cold sweat. I haven’t tried giving it my all yet.
He opened up his Soul Board and used the one point he had saved. Quietly, he got down from the walkway to the ground. With Hikaru’s Stealth fully activated, Lawrence didn’t notice him at all.
…Time for round two.
He tried desperately to stop his legs from shaking. Gripping his Dagger of Strength tight on his right hand, he walked towards Lawrence.
Hikaru was planning on engaging in close combat. Or rather, he just wanted to get close – he had no intention of fighting.
One-hit instant kill.
The captain attacked earlier with the intent to kill. This wasn’t an opponent that Hikaru could go easy on.
Time to take down this kingdom’s strongest.
For a moment, it looked like Lawrence felt something. But what it was, he had no idea. Perhaps he was busy thinking that maybe his foe was already gone, because for a second, he let his guard down. Sharp pain ran through his neck.
In an instant, he was overwhelmed by the smell of blood. Lawrence didn’t know it was his own blood at first.
Blood spewed out from his jugular. The neck. A defenseless part of the body with no muscles. But slicing the spot just right down one’s face was not something that could be done easily. That goes double for someone as strong as Lawrence. And yet, his neck was slashed, no doubt, although he had no idea how.
His confusion didn’t last long. Beyond the gushing blood, Lawrence spotted the figure slipping right by his flank.
With a grunt, the captain swung his sword. Its power was a lot weaker than the one earlier, but it was enough to cut a man in half. Given the distance, he was sure the tip of his sword would hit.
Hikaru quickly leapt back with enormous force. It was a jump that far exceeded his physical abilities, allowing him to evade the tip of Lawrence’s sword.
Damn, two points on Power Burst is freakin’ quick!
When Hikaru opened up his Soul Board, he used his one point on Power Burst. He did so just to be safe, and yet he still almost got killed.
Lawrence probably didn’t expect to be attacked from the front. Hikaru cut his artery, then in the cover of the gushing blood, moved quickly behind the captain.
The princess was behind Hikaru. If Lawrence swung his sword in his direction, a shockwave would be produced, possibly harming the princess. Which is exactly why Hikaru thought the captain wouldn’t strike.
But he did. The shockwave destroyed the wall right under where the princess was. It was a close call. Hikaru wouldn’t have been able to dodge without his Power Burst 2. He realized that there was no such thing as too much insurance when fighting against someone as strong as the captain.
The wall collapsed. The training facility might be firmly built, but if the walls collapsed in two different spots — they were close as well — that whole section would come crumbling down.
The princess was on the walkway. With his Mana Detection, Hikaru saw her getting up on her foot in a panic. She would surely fall. Lawrence should be running towards her right about now…
「There you are!」
Lawrence charged straight at Hikaru. He had seen the boy for a moment which weakened the effects of Stealth.
W-W-Wait a sec! Aren’t you going to save the princess?! I saw her stats! There’s no way she’ll get out of that unscathed!
Lawrence swung his sword downward at an incredible speed. Hikaru frantically tried to escape. His Power Burst was doing wonders, but it drained too much stamina when used multiple times. The shockwave was destroying the wall even more.
I have to somehow get out of his sight to reactivate my Stealth.
His cloak, which would’ve been perfect for blocking Lawrence’s field of vision, had been sacrificed earlier. All he had on his hands were pebbles, but they weren’t enough for the task.
No, wait. There’s one more thing.
There was a way he could block the captain’s vision for a second. More specifically, a “thing”.
I’ll have to retreat afterwards.
「What a strange art. Is it magic? Are you done now that I know where you are?」
Hikaru removed his mask and threw it at Lawrence’s face. A moment — a split-second — was all he needed. Having lost sight of Hikaru momentarily, the captain couldn’t perceive him any longer, even though he was still standing on the same spot.
The fact that it was dark inside helped as well, and that Hikaru had black hair and was wearing black clothes. The effects of Stealth wouldn’t have been restored if they were out in broad daylight.
「Where are you?!」
Lawrence crushed the mask in his hand.
How can you even move when your jugular is cut?!
Lawrence’s face was growing pale, the blood still flowing from the cut on his neck. The wound was deep enough that his Natural Recovery couldn’t heal him up quickly. With that much blood loss, a normal human being would’ve fainted a while ago, or even died.
The spot the princess was standing on tilted to one side. She was about to fall. Perhaps due to the magic item, Lawrence couldn’t discern the her exact location.
「That voice… Is that you, Princess Kudyastoria?! What are you doing here?!」
Wait, what?! He didn’t know the princess was here?!
Then, the princess was in the air, falling. Directly under here were bits and pieces of wood, with sharp edges. If she fell on them, she’d be heavily injured. What’s worse, the ceiling was making a sound. She wouldn’t be able to walk right away if she sprained her ankles from the fall. If the ceiling collapses on her…
Ignoring Lawrence who still had no idea where the princess was exactly, Hikaru dashed towards her. She wasn’t that far away. It was a good thing that he steadily distanced himself from Lawrence.
He didn’t have a reason to save her, but he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if she died here. Although given that the royal castle was close, someone with healing magic should be able to help her right away. But they wouldn’t be able to bring the dead back to life.
Catching someone falling with both arms was a lot tougher than expected. Pain ran through his knees and hips like an electric current. But he couldn’t stay there for a second longer for the ceiling was crumbling down.
「Damn nice timing!」
Hikaru quite literally carried the girl in both arms like a princess. He jumped outside through a hole in the wall. A loud crash came from behind them. The ceiling had fallen.
「Your Highness! Are you okay?!」
Lawrence was shouting, unable to see exactly where they were. After all the ruckus, the guards would surely notice. A whistle pealed, setting the whole area abuzz.
「Are you the assailant?」Kudyastoria asked as Hikaru stood still.
Hikaru wanted to click his tongue in annoyance. He threw his mask so she saw his face. Up close, at that.
I guess it’s fine. I doubt I’ll see her again anyway.
Hikaru saw the face hidden under her hood. She was beautiful, with an air of sagacity. Though considering she snuck into the training facility at night, she might be quite reckless as well. Hikaru let her down right away.
「You’re fine, right? No sprains or anything?」
「What? Ah, yes, I’m fine.」
「Good. The captain might die from blood loss… Actually, I highly doubt that. That guy’s extremely jacked. Guards should be here soon. Just ask them to pick you up.」
Hikaru turned his back to the princess.
「W-W-Wait a second!」
「Why should I?」
Hikaru started running.
「…Roland…?」the princess muttered as she watched his back growing farther and farther away.