Chapter 77 – Countermeasure
And so Luke and I started to prepare for the match.
“…You read all of these documents?”
“That’s the least one could do to get started. That is the kind of opponent you will be dealing with. The Holy Blade.”
Luke had read through all of the Holy Blade’s existing battle records, and analyzed them in order to create a strategy.
“The Holy Blade is equal in strength to a Magus-Rank magician. He has won over seven hundred duels and is considered to be one of the strongest knights in the history of this kingdom. He surpasses you both in strength and experience. Most people would think that he would beat you in an instant, before you can do anything. And that will likely happen if you do not prepare.”
“Yes. That’s what I thought too.”
He was like a hero who represented the kingdom.
Numerous great warriors and swordsmen had challenged him and failed.
It made one feel like there wasn’t a hope of winning.
“Still, you will be able to think of something. Won’t you, Luke?”
Luke said as if it was obvious.
While he looked like a genius, he put more effort and preparation into his work than anyone. When it came to working out a countermeasure, he was probably the best in the whole kingdom.
He would research an opponent, thoroughly attack their weak points, and bind them before they have a chance to show their true power.
When it came to fighting dirty, there was no one who could match this evil bastard.
Oh, how many times had I suffered at the hands of this person who fought so maliciously?
I recalled how much I had hated him at first.
But if I wanted a partner to help me fight someone who I normally could not win against, then there was no one who would be more reliable than him.
“So what should I do?”
“Keep your distance and focus on dodging all of his attacks. For this fight, the rules say that you will win as long as you can survive for five minutes. The only way to win is to focus on running.”
“On top of that, what is important is that you acquire the response capabilities to be able to deal with the Holy Blade’s attacks. Especially the first attack. If you can manage to deal with that, then even this battle, which looks hopeless, might just be possible. You can do it, Noelle. That’s what I think. I believe in you.”
His words gave me courage and strength.
Because in my previous job, I had always been treated as useless.
But he said that I could do it.
He believed in me.
And I was so grateful for that.
“In order to learn how to deal with the Holy Blade’s attacks, you should practice with an opponent who is at a higher rank.”
Luke said as he took out a glowing bracelet.
“This is a 2nd rank artifact that halves the mana of the person who equips it. ‘Sealing Bracelet.’ I want you to wear this while training, Noelle.”
“A training method for the effective use of magic by restricting your mana! I wanted to try this!”
This high intensity method of training had become popular recently, and I had been secretly wishing that I could do it.
However, magic tools that limit your mana were rare, and not something that I could afford. So I never thought that the day would come that I could use one.
“Ohh! My mana really has been halved!”
I felt quite excited by this new sensation.
“So, what kind of training should I do while wearing this?”
Would I start with a basic regimen?
Since this was my first time, I should start off with something easy and work my way up…
“Now, Noelle. In preparation for the real fight, I will beat you thoroughly. So do your best to last five minutes.”
I was speechless for some time. And then…
After that, Luke did exactly what he said he would do.
He was already considered to be a genius that history would remember, and so how was I supposed to fight him with my mana halved?
This wasn’t even a fight. It was one-sided domination.
Indeed, as training for facing a superior opponent, who I had to focus on escaping from, it was pretty effective training.
I could not do anything at first, but little by little, I got a grasp on what it is I should be doing.
The one thing I could not stand was that I felt like I was losing to Luke.
As it started to annoy me, once we were finished training, I had Luke put on the bracelet so that I could beat him up.
Now that felt very good.
“Did you see that! My power! Wahahaha!!”
“You really are merciless…”
“Well, you made me angry. I can’t stand losing so many times.”
“You weren’t losing. You were wearing the bracelet.”
“That’s true. But still… You are the one person I don’t want to lose to.”
“The one person…”
Luke pondered the words for a moment before saying,
“…In that case, this isn’t so bad.”
But I just beat him up?
Could it be that he had a taste for this kind of thing?
Now that would be a shocking revelation…
Of course, everyone has their quirks.
And since Luke is my friend, I shall accept it and not be judgemental. Yes.
And so began the days of special training.
We were working together towards a common goal. It somehow reminded me of our time back at the magic academy.
‘Hey, hey. How am I supposed to solve this?’
‘Figure it out yourself. Damn it. First, you take this and…’
We would study together in the library and…
‘Argh, you made me mad now! Go outside. I’m going to beat you up today!’
‘That’s my line! You will know the difference in power between us!’
It didn’t take much for us to start fighting.
Thinking about it now made me smile.
When we were together, I felt as if I could return to that time.
Though, perhaps it was strange to feel that way, now that we were adults.
What I was facing now, was not something so gentle as a regular exam.
I was facing the strongest knight.
The Holy Blade.
A wall so high that no one thought that I could overcome it.
But for a reason I could not explain, I did not feel afraid.
Because I could hear our younger selves saying it. I can fly. I’m invincible.
“Let’s win, Luke.”
“Yes. We’ll do it.”
And then the day of the games arrived.
◇ ◇ ◇
“You didn’t tell her? That if she loses, you will no longer be buddies.”
“I wasn’t able to do it.”
Luke replied to Leticia.
“I wanted her to fight without having to worry about other things.”
“You really are so…”
Leticia let out a sigh.
However, she also expected this of him.
Pure and calculating.
Gentleness and obsession.
He was a very human person who shifted between those two opposing forces.
Perhaps nothing but tragedy would await such a person.
The prince and the Holy Sword.
The obstacles in front of him were much too great.
And so the thing that he cherished most was moving farther and farther away from him.
Even if he fought, there was no way for him to win. And yet he showed no signs of giving up.
What a hopeless fool he was.
And so she could not leave him alone. She was worried.
“It will be a severe battle.”
He had looked through every available record and studied the Holy Blade.
And so he understood his strength more than anyone.
Magus-Rank… You would need to be of that level in order for it to be a fair fight.
“However, there is something I realized while she trained with me.”
He said, suddenly.
“Something you realized?”
“She was incredibly quick to adapt to having to fight with limited mana. A normal magician would have taken over a month to do what she did in several days. It shouldn’t be possible.”
He paused for a moment.
“I think…there is something deep within her that knows no bounds.”