It was surprisingly bright when I went outside. The moons were shining brightly in the sky, and my shadow stretched out on the ground.
“You must be thankful for the moonlight. Not so scary now, is it?”
“You just caught me by surprise earlier. It’s not as if I’m scared of the dark.”
I retorted, but could not shake off the feeling of embarrassment. I gulped.
“Now, I will watch you two. We have an early morning, so hurry up. Surrender or faint. I do not care.”
“You heard her, Levee. Let’s go.”
“Oh, and I was hoping you’d be the one.”
Daniela said with undisguised annoyance. I unsheathed my sword and pointed it at Levee. However, she was already running towards me with her ice rapier.
There was a burst of platinum and jade wind as I flew through the air and went around to Levee’s back.
“There aren’t many who are faster than me!”
I was behind her, my sword swinging towards her back, and yet she was laughing. And while her confidence made me wary, I didn’t stop. It was a good way to test her.
“Not so fast!”
Levee’s arm had been pulled back in order to thrust forward, but the angle suddenly changed. Her sword pointed down as if to pierce the earth. Then the pommel went up and pointed towards me.
It was probably my experience, as little as it was, that allowed me to notice it. Magic was about imagination. Small differences in the way you think could change the outcome. It was because I knew this, that I was able to dodge the sharp pommel that suddenly stretched towards me.
“Ahh… And I was so close…”
I jumped back and tried to catch my breath. But the right side of my face burned with pain. When I touched it, my fingers came away bloody. The area below my eye had been torn open. The pain only increased the more aware of it I became.
“It’s almost cute how affected you are by a little scratch. Are you a novice?”
“Pain is pain!”
Having your cheek cut by a sword wasn’t an everyday occurrence. I’ve been wounded many times throughout our adventures, and it wasn’t something I thought that I would get used to.
“Well, you’ll have a few more of those by the time I’m through with you. You won’t be so innocent any more.”
“Keep talking like that, and Daniela will get mad.”
Well, maybe she wouldn’t. I wiped off the blood and stared her down.
From what I had seen of her during the Imperial Sword Tournament, Levee was very advanced with ice magic and fighting with a rapier. However, I had had the impression that she relied on strength a lot. It was probably because she was hiding her magic. And so I had not expected her to use it in this way here.
“Now, let’s get serious.”
“Sure, I finished my stretches.”
I held the demon armor sword on my shoulder and lowered my stance. The sweet smile on Levee’s face vanished then.
“Yes… Let’s fight!!”
When she looked up at me again, I saw the same crazed expression she had had when fighting Daniela. It was creepy as hell.
But that kept me on my guard.
I watched her clutch her weapon and dash towards me. Then I enveloped my legs in the power of the wind and ran forward.
Her arm stretched out in a sharp thrust, but I knocked it away with a downward swing. However, Levee twisted her body, changing the course of the sword and allowing her to spin into a kick. I blocked it with the flat of my blade.
While she had the face of a madwoman, her movements were calm and calculated. Even split-second decisions were executed perfectly. She had great sensibilities in terms of combat.
I dodged her repeated thrusts while backing away. She occasionally used ice magic, which made things very dangerous. Her sword would sometimes curve out of nowhere. It would bend and then stretch.
When I had first seen Levee’s sword, I was impressed by how it could move in spite of it being made of ice. But this was the worst. Now, it was like she was fighting with a whip.
“I wasn’t expecting that…!”
“Hehe. I’ll take that as a complement!”
“I’ll consider it a lesson!”
Yes, I would learn. That was the only reason that I agreed to fight. To be honest, I just needed to use the power of Gleipnir to the fullest and I would win easily.
However, learning how to properly deal with Levee’s magic was bound to be useful in the future. Especially because her methods of using magic were so different from mine.
I wasn’t the best at making use of what I learned through Jack of all Trades, Master of None. So it was always great to watch others.
“Still, you have no trouble dodging…”
“No, I’m actually quite desperate.”
“Liar! I will show you what that feels like…”
Levee said as she cut her own wrists.
“Hehe. Don’t worry. I have more blood than most… But more importantly, were you aware, Mister Asagi?”
It was hard to not be distracted by the blood.
“Magic flows in my veins.”
“And so it’s very strong when I use it as a medium!”
Levee shouted, and her magic rushed into the blood. Just then, it froze into thorns and shot towards me.
I launched myself into the air in order to avoid them. However, they stretched out towards me.
As they wouldn’t stop, I slashed at them with the demon armor sword. Then I turned back towards Levee and rushed towards her.
“You’re still careless!”
I swung my sword and tried to cut the root of the bloody ice, but it exploded just as I reached it.
It exploded close to my wrist, and the countless thorns shot out in every direction. My body was shredded all over. But it was the same with Levee. She had hurt herself in order to avoid my attack.
“Damn it…you’re crazy…”
“As long as my blood has magic, I only grow stronger with every cut… Hehehehe…”
Shit. She attacked hard, and was strengthened when guarding. But she knew when to draw back and wouldn’t attack recklessly. It reminded me of the fight against the Queen’s Knight Goblin.
If it came to it, she would probably change to a different method of attacks. But only if she was desperate enough. It was a risk, after all. And this wasn’t even a serious fight to the death.
□ □ □ □
…I can only imagine what he’s thinking. How soft.
I feel sorry for people who aren’t able to enjoy fighting from the bottom of their heart. Well, I am aware that I’m in the minority.
Asagi held his sword and stared quietly at me. Was he trying to predict my next move? However, this blood magic was an ancient and secret art. It was not known to most of the world, and so there was little chance of him succeeding.
This magic worked very well with ice. After all, you could stop the flow of blood by freezing it. On the other hand, it was a bad fit for fire. Because blood would burn. Well, perhaps it just depended on how you used it.
But there was so much beauty in activating ice magic while using blood as a medium. The red crystals would chase after the enemy, piercing them and turning them into a bloody chunk of ice… Yes, so very pretty. No matter how many times I see it, it never fails to move me.
And so I would do it today. It’s been a while. But as this isn’t a real fight, I will have to undo it right away. How boring. If only there were criminals close by that I could kill. That would scratch the itch. This island really is lacking.
No ogres and no bandits. There is nothing but wild Adventurers that I am not able to kill…
Well, at least Mister Asagi is here. Hehe. And so I am saved from boredom for a short while. Now, I will show him the magic that froze so many monsters.
“Unknown magic is intimidating…”
“This magic is quite old. A type of blood magic that uses ice. I call it Freezeblood Art.”
“Hehe. Well, that is all I’m going to tell you today. Now you will know what it is that freezes you.”
Well, if you even survive today.
“Hehe. Hehehehe! Now, are you ready?”
“Vermilion Million Scraps!”
First, the ice near my hands exploded, and shot towards Mister Asagi. The tiny fragments of blood moved as if a wall of blades. He accelerates, trying to escape.
However, I knew he would try that. I did not expect that watching him during the tournament would be so helpful later on.
Though, he had also been watching my fight against Daniela. But then again, I hadn’t used this Freezeblood Art back then.
And so I knew that he wouldn’t be able to escape like that. The fragments didn’t just fly. They were magic, after all. They pursued.
“Now, now. It will hurt if you let them catch up to you.”
He frantically increased his speed as he flew through the air, but it was no use. And he didn’t even realize it yet.
Now he was going down?
“Vermillion Revenge Rain!!”
The frozen fragments returned to liquid as rain. No one can avoid rain. And Asagi was no exception. Once he was wet, I just needed to freeze…
Asagi raised an arm over his head, and my blood froze when it touched him. It kept freezing as they fell…until all of the rain had been frozen again.
“It’s just moisture, right? So it’s no wonder I can freeze it.”
“But it’s not pure moisture. And my mana…”
“Still. I can do it.”
Indeed… No…could it be…that he learned how to use my Freezeblood Art…?
No, that was not possible. It had taken me so long… It was my trump card. And yet…now?
“It’s not possible….”
“If you say so. But here I am.”
“No. No. No!”
Then he squeezed his hand into a fist. The blood crushed in his hand, and it caused a wave of shock to spread out and shatter all the blood around us. The shards fell.
It was as if all my power, confidence and pride had been crushed. I felt a sense of loss.
“It’s impressive magic. Most people wouldn’t be able to use it.”
“I think I was a good match for it. But then again, I would die if I bled like you did.”
He made it sound so simple… Damn it. How aggravating.
But it was as they said. The world was a big place and there was always someone above you.
So in a way, it could not be helped.
I had no choice but to accept it.
It was funny. It was. It was. It was impossible. Impossible. Impossible!!
Why did someone like this even exist!
Ohhh. Well, if I can’t understand, then he might as well die. There is no point anyway.
“Vermilion Wedding Funeral.”
The blood fragments turned into liquid, boiled and evaporated.
Anyone who breathed it in would freeze. It was the most powerful of my abilities.
“I expected that you’d do something like this. And so I can deal with it.”
A white mist emitted from his feet and covered him. Me as well. The whole world, it seemed.
Eventually, I could not think of anything. It was as if my mind had been erased, and there was only white. Before I knew it, my magic had been nullified, and silence surrounded us.
His voice alone entered my ears.
It grabbed me and would not let go. The sound of fate.