“Ah! They’re working!”
“Ain’t that right! It’s not a Killer Ant hunt until your eyes are burning like this!”
“It’s finally our turn!”
The high-ranking Adventurers started to return from the nest and help with the work. As they were accompanied by soldiers who carried more Killer Ants, the pile grew very quickly. And they were all stronger types that were protecting the queen.
Still, the local Adventurers were very skilled with this kind of work. And they had no trouble working with the advanced types. The magicians burned the remaining carcasses, and the wind machine made the fires burn high.
While venting a little, I continued to crack the hard shells of the Soldier Ants. My arms felt like logs. My grip was getting loose, and I was in danger of letting go of my tools.
“You’re getting sloppy. The Soldier Ants have hard shells. You have to make precise cracks instead of just trying to smash them at full force.”
One of the Adventurers offered some advice. And so I made a crack, wedged the axe inside, and slowly widened it. While I tried my best to copy the others, the first crack had to be straight, or the angle would be wrong when it opened. That was difficult.
“Even though the shell looks smooth, there are grains. So you have to crack it along the grain. Though, it takes time to get the hang of it.”
Indeed, I could see that it wasn’t completely smooth. But it was barely noticeable under certain light. So I just had to line it vertically and as straight as possible before hammering.
There was a sound that was quite different, and the axehead went deep inside.
I see. Yes, it was different. I didn’t know if it was a good thing or bad thing, but there was still a lot left. So I had time to learn.
I continued while trying different methods, and started to be able to see the pattern. And so I chose the straightest ones and hit them.
Like this, I was able to crack the shells with just half of the strength I used previously.
“You see it now. Don’t forget the feeling.”
“Aye, thank you.”
I thanked the Adventurer and continued to work. As he said, the more I did it, the easier it was to see the grain. By the time that I was able to see the exact spot at a glance, I had a sudden burst of inspiration.
I put the axe down and unsheathed Mine Breaker. I had little magic energy left. But I charged it just a little and closed my eyes. I visualized the sword swing in my mind, opened my eyes and held the sword mid-height.
This would not be brute force or about the sharpness of Mine Breaker. I just focused on the grain of the Soldier Ant shell. Then I raised the sword slowly and stopped.
The sidelong sweep, unleashed in a single breath, smoothly slid into the gap of the outer shell, and from there, effortlessly tore through it without any resistance.
I sheathed my sword again.
“Hey, what was that?”
“That’s amazing, Mr. Ajifu!”
As I had taken out my sword so suddenly, the other Adventurers watched with surprise. The hardness of the outer shell was not something I couldn’t cut if I charged Mine Breaker all of the way and hit my hardest. However, it was quite meaningful that I was able to do it with very little power.
“I don’t want to forget this feeling. Could you bring me the other Soldier Ants?”
“If it means we don’t have to crack them open, of course!”
“I’ll bring them right away!”
The other Soldier Ants were gathered and lined up before me. I stood in front of each and inspected them first. The pattern of the shells. And then I swung.
Mine Breaker bounced off with a clang. Then I got closer again, inspecting the grain, and swung. This time, the sword tip entered the shell and cut right through.
So it only worked when I could visualize it clearly. After that, I swung, had it bounce, and then cut through. The more I did, the clearer the patterns became. The trick was to not focus too much on a single point. It was more like gazing than watching. Or, instead of gazing at the whole, you gaze on the small part you want to cut.
Eventually, I was cutting them on the first hit. The time I spent inspecting them became shorter, and I worked faster. By the time there were hardly any Soldier Ants left, I saw a rowdy group coming towards me.
“See, look at it, you Adventurers. The Queen Ant has arrived!”
The soldiers said proudly as they brought her. She was considerably larger than the Soldier Ants. Even just the head was about the size of a regular ant.
It must have been very huge when alive. While its hunting rank was B, it was not very strong during combat, from what I had heard. However, as it kept creating more ants, it was difficult to reach.
When I checked the shell, it was definitely thicker than the Soldier Ants.
“What do you think, Ajifu? Can you cut it?”
I suppose they could tell that I wanted it. And so the overseer asked me about it.
“I don’t know. But I’d like to try.”
“This is a rare opportunity, so you should do it! Hey! Everyone! Ajifu is going to split the Ant Queen’s skull right open!”
Upon hearing, the other gathered around in order to watch.
“I don’t think he’ll be able to.”
“I’ll bet one of these tags!”
“I’ll be two of mine!”
“I saw what Ajifu can do. I bet three that he’ll be successful!”
While the spectators started to place their bets, I looked at the Ant Queen’s shell carefully. The patterns looked similar enough to the Soldier Ants. The problem was the thickness.
I charged up Mine Break and raised it into the air and focused on the grain that I had to cut.
I recalled the words I had once heard from instructor Leonard in the Razshita capital.
‘The sword art skill supports the will of the user. Though, that also means that you won’t be able to use the skill if you are not properly aware of your movements.’
If you could use the skill, you could unleash chains of attacks and movements that seemed to ignore the laws of physics. However, I had never been able to do that up until now.
Because swords were not something you just swung with your arm. Your torso, legs, hips, all were connected to the ground. But such unusual and fierce movements were not compatible with this prosthetic leg. I could not even begin to visualize it.
However, like this, I could swing my sword in the targeted spot. I could visualize that. That was why I had practiced my sword swings so many times.
I swung down with Mine Breaker. It moved just like I had imagined, drawing a beautiful arc.
The blade came down without hesitation, as if being sucked towards the Ant Queen. Cutting through and hitting the ground below.
There was a dry crack and the two sides of the head fell apart, and everything was quiet.
I heard the voices erupt around me. I had succeeded in splitting the head. Four years since I started training in the royal capital. I had cut open numerous monsters and swung countless times. Training my body and raised my skill level.
What I got in return… An attack where you ‘swing the sword where you targeted,’ that was all.