The dance hall on the second floor of Bolton’s mansion located in the upper class district. The development of the battle that was happening there could be said to be gradually leaning towards Rei’s side.
First, out of the party that laid in wait for Rei and others, the middle-aged woman—their sole mage—had lost all her fighting spirit the moment she saw Rei and sank down to the floor just like that.
And of course, Set seemed too much to handle for the archer. The archer, who had aimed for Murt on many occasions, was now collapsed on the floor with Set’s forelegs pushed on his back, becoming completely immobilised.
And like that, the only remaining people capable of fighting on Azoth’s side were the three from the C ranked party Snow Field Wolves that were now fighting with Freon and Brazos. And also…
The man with a halberd, who was silently approaching Rei while setting up his weapon.
(As expected, this guy is quite skilled. I heard the only B ranked adventurer they had was Galahat…but it seems they had quite a few unexpected individuals, be it the thief Tenda, or this guy. Well, neither Galahat nor Murt remembered this halberd guy, so I guess there’s no point in dwelling on it.)
While observing the approaching opponent, Rei once again set up his Death Scythe and took a step forward.
They both proceeded to shorten the distance between them…
As they entered each other’s attack range, they swung their weapons. Rei, his Death Scythe, and the man – his halberd.
The long weapons they swung tore through the air as they approached each other…
And then, they clashed, sending a high-pitched metallic sound around them. And it was not just once or twice. The sound repeated many times.
The halberd’s axe head and the Death Scythe’s giant blade clashed again and again, repelling each other.
From the shock that travelled to his hands, Rei revealed a slightly surprised expression.
(Although I’m still not putting a lot amount of magic power in it, he actually has a weapon that can exchange blows with the Death Scythe upfront? Could it be a Magic Item!?)
But Rei wasn’t the only one who showed surprise. It was the same for his opponent. He didn’t expect for there to be a weapon that could exchange blows with himself, who had gone through countless battles so far, continuing on undefeated through them all. And above all, with his most trusty halberd in the world. Indeed–with his halberd–a Magic Item made by the alchemist that was even called a legend.
Directing a gaze full of wonder at Rei, the man temporarily withdrew his halberd and took some distance.
Normally, in a case like this Rei would to pursue him, but being vigilant of the halberd that could fight evenly with his Death Scythe, Rei decided to let him go.
(Freon and Brazos are currently holding their own but the difference in numbers will show its effect sooner or later. They’ve been acting non-stop for the whole day, after all. As long as their physical ability or something else isn’t inhuman level like me, their stamina should be taking its toll sometime soon. When that happens, either Set will knock out the Archer and back them up or I’ll go myself after defeating this man with the halberd.)
Even as he pondered about various things, Rei didn’t let that man out of his sight even for a second.
Despite staring silently at each other, they were both looking for gaps in each other’s defences. Deciding to progress things, Rei put some strength in the hand that was holding the Death Scythe, took a half step forward, and even turned his gaze away to intentionally create an opening.
But the man confronting him was very well accustomed to fighting personal battles. He didn’t take any bait Rei threw at him and instead started using many similar feints, luring for an attack.
They stood there trying to find each others’ openings for several minutes. Thinking that Freon and Brazos, whose stamina were probably close to running dry, would be the ones to gradually fall into a disadvantage if neither of them made a move like this, Rei used a move that his opponent wouldn’t expect in order to make things move..
It was one of the acquired skills of the Death Scythe that could manifest a magic shield that could defend against any kind of attack, albeit only once.
While the man was surprised due to the sudden appearance of a light shield near Rei, he used that momentary gap and kicked the ground, brandishing his Death Scythe, and shortened the distance between them to get him inside his attack range. And without change, he invoked yet another skill of the Death Scythe to release his next move.
Brandishing the Death Scythe’s handle, an invisible tentacle was produced from the tip.
Although he understood that something was going on due to Rei’s words, it seems he was still unable to instantly grasp the existence of the invisible wind tentacle as he hastily checked the surroundings with his helmet-covered face. But he was unable to find anything in the end, so deciding it was just a bluff he set up the halberd to receive Rei’s swinging Death Scythe.
Rei swung down the Death Scythe along with sharp voice. But when the man, too, took a step forward to defend against the Death Scythe before it could reach its maximum power…
Manipulating the wind hand, Rei trapped his right ankle in place with its tip as he was about to step forward. And at the same time.
He released the final skill as if to settle everything with it.
It was released towards the man who had his right foot trapped by the Wind Hand and couldn’t move. Power Slash was a skill with an effect of blunting the blade’s sharpness in exchange for raising the power of the attack. However, that was fine right now. After all, he had been asked by Galahat to try not to kill the enemies where possible. The other side of the blade of the Death Scythe, or back of the blade in sword terms, headed straight towards the man.
Even if his right leg was seized by the wind tentacle, the Wind Hand’s level was still just 1. If its level had been higher, it might’ve kept the man’s ankle caught, however, despite being momentarily caught off guard, the man broke free from the Wind Hand with brute force the moment he realized his right ankle was being sealed by some kind of movement, and without stopping, swung his halberd towards Rei.
He went for a mutual strike as the final means after judging that he couldn’t come out unscathed from Rei’s attack no matter what he did. However…
(I could see that coming a mile away.)
Muttering that deep down, Rei showed a big smirk while swinging his Death Scythe without paying any mind to the halberd that was coming his way.
Just as the halberd, aiming for his head, was about to reach its mark…
The shield of light that floated around Rei stopped the attack while giving off a metallic sound and then disappeared like mist after serving its duty. At the same time, the Death Scythe was driven into the side of the full plate mail as if getting sucked in.
The Death Scythe exceeding 100 kg, coupled with Rei’s own inhuman strength. And that blow which was powered by the Death Scythe’s skill, Power Slash, gave off a thick sound as it easily smashed the torso of his full plate mail, blowing him away.
The first voice he let out ever since coming to this room, was a voice of anguish to endure the pain and shock.
「Okay, I’m finished here… what?」
If one received the current attack, they should have fainted in all probability. Judging that to be the case, Rei faced towards Freon and Brazos, however, the sounds he heard behind made him instinctively turn around in pure amazement. Tenda who received a normal blow to the flank had fainted on the spot. And yet, Rei couldn’t believe that the man was still holding on to his consciousness even after receiving a blow that employed the Power Slash. Of course, Tenda wore a leather armour suitable for a thief, focusing more on mobility rather than defence. It couldn’t be compared to the full plate mail in terms of defence, but even so, it was a blow made with Power Slash. As long as it wasn’t a Magic Item, be it a leather armour or a full plate mail, their defence powers should’ve been within the margin of error.
「Are you really a human? No, well, judging from that sturdiness, you don’t seem like a normal human… That said, you are too tall for a Dwarf, and Elves should be physically weaker than humans, to begin with. Or perhaps you are from a race of Demi-humans that I’m not aware of…」
Rei asked while facing the man who still stood up to his feet, although his movements were somewhat duller, however just like before the man didn’t say a word and merely set up the halberd.
(It would be easy if I could just kill him, but it’s a pain that I’m prohibited to do that. With that being the case, I should break one or two of his limbs… Wait, judging from the previous reaction, most of his ribs are definitely broken. So I’m not so sure it would be of any use if I were to break his limbs at this point… Wait. His movements…)
Not even a minute had passed since he stood up, but his movements were certainly becoming smoother. So much in fact that it was just like before he received the injury.
(Just like before he got hurt?)
A thought flashed through Rei’s mind, but the man raised his halberd and rushed towards him as if he didn’t want to even give him time to think.
His movements didn’t look anything like how someone with broken ribs would move.
(Ah!? I see, so it’s a Magic Item with constant healing effect just like the 『Love of Shizukuishi』 that Set is wearing, huh!)
Even among the countless Magic Items, this was a particularly rare kind. For that reason, it took Rei quite a bit of time before coming up with that possibility, and as if aiming for that opening the man swung his halberd. He mowed down with the axe of the halberd, thrust with its spear, and sent strikes at him with the spike protruding from behind the axe. Rei repelled those waves of attacks with the blade of the Death Scythe, or warded them off by parrying with the handle.
There were people who observed their fight, that was just like the repeat of their previous exchange.
They were Galahat and his escort, Murt, who stood near the dance hall entrance. Seeing their movements that were like a blade dance–no, like a dance performance–impossible for C or D rankers to achieve, they could do nothing but stand in pure awe.
Be it the Death Scythe or the halberd, both of their attacks were sharp and fast. And above all, the overwhelming power behind those attacks was clear as a day; it was enough to make them believe that getting hit by a single one of those would undoubtedly spell their doom.
(That man is a halberd user…like me? The difference between our ability is like day and night.)
Murt was overwhelmed deep down, instinctively realising the difference of skill between himself and the man that was fighting with Rei.
Murt naturally wanted Rei to win. But after all, the opponent was the user of the same weapon as him. So in the end, he ended up supporting the opponent.
However, such performance of theirs didn’t last long, and soon enough it started to head towards the conclusion.
The first one to notice that, as expected, wasn’t Murt but Galahat whose rank was higher and had more battle experience.
「…He won, huh.」
Without thinking, Murt questioned Galahat’s words. It was indeed a battle that he had trouble following even from this distance, however, from his viewpoint they still seemed to be on even ground. And despite that being the case, why was Galahat certain of Rei’s victory? He couldn’t figure out that reason by observing them, so he sent a questioning glance at Galahat.
「You don’t get it?」
「No. They both seem equal from my perspective.」
「Indeed, they do look equal. At present…that is. But take a moment and observe them again. If you do that, you should be able to see what’s different.」
Hearing Galahat’s words, Murt carefully observed the dance of the Death Scythe and the halberd. As he did that, the meaning behind Galahat’s words gradually became clear to him.
「Eh? It’s not much, but are the man’s reactions becoming duller?」
Murt muttered unconsciously. Indeed, from Murt’s perspective, it was only a bit. His attacks were fast enough that calling them instantaneous wouldn’t be an exaggeration, but it seemed that his reactions were still delayed against Rei’s attacks. However, Galahat responded with a little shake of his head to Murt’s words.
「Not quite. Well, it’s technically correct but not exactly accurate. It’s not halberd user’s reactions that are becoming delayed, but Rei’s who is becoming faster. …I never expected for his speed to be on yet another level from that state.」
(Or perhaps, the attack from before started to show its effect now…huh?)
Galahat muttered deep down while seeing that the battle was certainly inclining towards Rei…even if only for a bit.
Exactly as he said, before his eyes, Rei’s swings of the Death Scythe, slowly–truly little by little–were exceeding the speed of the man’s halberd, and although they were light, many cuts started to appear on his full plate mail.
If the situation continued without change, Rei would most probably come out victorious within the next ten minutes. That’s what Galahat thought, however the next moment his expectation was proven to be quite off.
As the Death Scythe put a big cut on the man’s full plate mail, he started to take a few steps back for some reason.
「…What’s the matter?」
Looking at his behaviour, Rei muttered without thinking.
Certainly, the current attack probably gave the man quite a shock, even though it landed on the armour. But even so, it was also true that it wasn’t something that would determine the outcome of the battle. And yet, the man who fought with him until a few seconds ago suddenly took a few steps back and continued doing so, widening the distance between them.
No, rather than taking the distance, it was more like he was heading straight towards the back door of the dancehall.
While being puzzled about the man who just gave up on the battle and withdrew without saying a word, he didn’t do anything like pursuing him.
(It’s difficult to neutralise him without killing as I promised to Galahat, given that he has a Magic Item with automatic healing effect. If he’s retreating himself then that’s all the better. …If he suddenly reappears in the room where Bolton is hiding, I’ll just deal with him then. Even so, that man just now was way stronger than a mere B rank. Why was someone with such ability cooperating with the likes of Bolton?)
Although he was puzzled on the inside, the fact was that his hands were now free, so taking a step forward, he set up the Death Scythe to deal the blow from behind to the Snow Field Wolves that were fighting against Freon and Brazos.