That’s that settled. Neither Misa nor the fan union can fight any more.
With the entertainment over I turn to Ray.
“……<Jie Gureido> huh? Could I cut it?” Ray mutters to himself.
“If you beat me I’ll let you have a go at it.”
Ray returned a cool smile at my provocation.
“Don’t you need to collect that sword you lent to Misa?”
“It’ll take me too long to go and get it. Anyway, I’ve got another sword besides Initeio.”
Ray showed me the sword hanging at his waist but as far I can tell it’s got no magic. It’s a simple iron sword.
“Are you using that poor looking sword to play with me? I can wait until you get Initeio.”
“I’m happy but is that true?”
“Is what true?”
Ray unsheathes his sword.
“Your face is saying you want to start now.”
Yare yare. I give up. That fellow sees straight through me.
“I’m fine with this sword.”
Apparently, he’s serious.
He’s a thoroughly interesting guy.
“Then to return the favour I’ll only use a sword as well.”
I pick up a handy tree branch that had fallen nearby.
“Even for Arnos-kun I think you’d be better using a normal sword”
“Why? You think you’re going to cut this branch in two with one strike?”
No denial or affirmation. Ray just smiled.
“If you have the confidence then try it.”
I take a step towards Ray with no hesitation or caution.
His hand disappeared and the iron sword flashed momentarily.
I swing the branch with all my strength colliding with Ray’s sword and overwhelming it completely.
A loud sound rings out and Ray is blown away. He’s sent rolling across the rumbling ground.
“What happened? I thought you were easily going to cut this branch?” I say to the fallen Ray.
This tree branch is reinforced with my magic. It’s much stronger than iron at the moment.
Ray stands up like nothing had happened.
“It’s the first time I’ve lost a point to an opponent with an inferior weapon.”
“You look happy though.”
“Do I? I’m completely afraid you know.”
“Stop lying. Your mouth’s gone all loose.”
Ray lets out a laugh and at the same time, he steps to the side but appears before me as if he’d used magic.
Besides its speed its a movement technique that cuts waste to the limit.
I could only see a flash of his blade like a trail of light.
“Fumu. A perfectly good blow.”
I use all my strength to react to Ray’s strike.
Sword and branch collide and again Ray is blown away.
“Was that your limit just now?” I ask the fallen Ray who gets up easily again.
“Overwhelmed again. I thought I’d exceeded my limit then.”
There’s no anger or offence in his voice only pure fun.
I felt like I could understand Ray’s feelings somehow.
“Is it okay to have another go?”
Ray sets his sword up. The movements so natural it’s like his sword is just another limb.
“Come at me again and again if you want.”
Ray breathed in and stopped.
He concentrated his power in his feet and this time it wasn’t just his sword that turned into a flash of light but his entire body.
Ray accelerates at such a speed that even my demon eyes can barely see him.
“Fumu. This speed is far superior.”
I up my power a level and strike Ray’s sword. As they collide their powers struggle against each other.
Ray had been one-sidedly taking my attacks for a while now and getting blown away.
This time however, despite the fact I’d doubled my power he only fell to the ground in a defensive stance.
“Amazing. Your plan just now went very well.”
First stage then the second stage and now the present which is better than the second stage. I’m having to put more and more power into the branch.
Ray seems to be getting gradually better at handling my attacks.
I’m not hiding my ability. It’s a real iron sword against me. I don’t have that much room to play around.
His words about surpassing his limit don’t seem to be a lie.
In other words, in the small intervals between our clashes, Ray is growing at a fearsome rate.
“……It almost feels like I’m remembering something……..”
“How to use the sword.”
Ray comes again but this time there’s no speed instead there’s a strange thirst for blood in his eyes.
I release my strike against Ray’s strangely gentle blow. His sword takes my power and wards it off.
That blow was probably strong enough to destroy a castle but Rays no longer receiving it head-on and is instead parrying and diverting the force of the blow.
Yare yare. I’m actually surprised at how quickly he’s adapting.
“You’re actually a big deal huh?”
He can’t divert all the force of my second blow though and loses his balance.
“I’ll give you a reward.”
A crashing sound rings out and Ray parries my blow again.
This time he doesn’t lose his posture at all.
He smiled his refreshing smile.
“Let’s see if I cant cut that branch next.”
“Interesting. Then I’ll break your sword.”
Explosive sounds that sound nothing like sword strikes ring out.
Me and Ray are trying to break each other’s sword.
Even though I’m gradually raising my power, Rays growth is so incredible I have to up it a level after each strike.
His swords so sharp and crisp. He’s a natural genius with the sword.
I could end this now by putting in so much power that Rays growth couldn’t keep up but I want to see how strong this man will become.
“You should come quickly to the heights I dwell in. Don’t give up on the way.”
“I’ll be troubled if you expect that much.”
Gradually our swordsmanship is approaching that of the age of myths.
If our blades cross the earth shakes and if the blow is deflected the trees are blown away from the force.
We stood in the centre of a typhoon of force where everything around us was mown down by our sword pressure.
“What’s this!? What’s with this natural disaster!?”
“Wha…wait Arnos. What are you doing!? A mountain just vanished!”
“The rivers dried up.”
“Earthquakes are still happening…….”
Screams and pandemonium came through <Liikus> but I answered them lightly.
“Just a bit of intense swordplay.”
“I’m sorry. Can you endure it a bit more?” (Ray)
Once again Ray and I cross swords.
The plants and even roots are now blown away. The whole region is turning into an empty wasteland.
It’s not really an issue though. The soil of the demon tree forest is full of magic. No matter how much you go wild it will be restored in one night. Basically, we can go full power as much as we want.
“You look happy Arnos-kun.”
“I am. It’s been a long time since I’ve used this much power. Even though I exercise my frustration still builds up.”
Again our blades clash and the tornado we’ve created blows away all the clouds.
“The look on your face is the same as mine.”
“Because this is the first time I’ve been able to cross blades with someone for this long.”
If you have his type of natural ability even with a superior opponent or against high numbers he will catch up in no time and overtake them.
“You seem to like the sword.”
“Only in that, it’s my only redeeming feature.”
Because of his ability, Ray would not have been blessed with a worthy rival until now. Everyone would have been worthless to him. There’s nothing more boring than that.
“I understand your feelings well.”
“I feel like I understand the feelings of Arnos-kun as well.”
Fumu. What is this feeling?
Even though our swords are being swung at full power the inside of my chest is hot.
This is the first time.
Is it because you don’t have to compete for your life in this age?
“Shall we end this soon?”
Ray completely wards off my branch with perfect skill and send the tip of his sword towards my throat.
He released a thrust that he hadn’t used at all until now.
As soon as I tried to parry it the orbit of the thrust changed and he pierced my branch.
If I push or pull it will probably be broken.
The orbit of the thrust changes again and Ray cuts the branch.
I determined the timing and pushed the branch upwards as he started to cut.
The tip of his sword breaks and flies off while at the same time half of my branch fell to the ground.
I thrust the shortened branch at Ray’s head.
“Fumu. As you declared. I really didn’t think you could cut my weapon.”
“…….It’s still my loss however. Not only was my sword broken by a branch I was also stabbed in the end.”
Ray dropped his broken sword on the ground and raised his hands.
“Can I say something strange?”
“Let’s hear it.”
“I felt it while we were exchanging blows. It doesn’t feel like this is the first time we’ve met.”
“It’s possible. We may have met two thousand years ago. I knew a man like you as well.”
Ray looks at me with interest in his eyes.
“Ray. If I told you I was the Demon King of Tyranny would you believe it?”
“I don’t know, but with your power, it does make me wonder.”
Is he someone who’s reincarnated? I can’t say for definite, but I feel like I know Ray well.
“By the way. Because I lost, can I not join Arnos-kun’s group?”
I reincarnated on purpose. There’s no need for me to remain a prisoner of the past.
“The man who can exchange swords equally with me doesn’t need to add kun to the end of my name. It’s embarrassing.”
As Ray first did to me I presented him my right hand and asked for a handshake.
Ray takes my hand and firmly shakes it.
“I’ll win next time.”
“Likewise, and I won’t let you break my sword next time.”
He smiles his refreshing smile and I laugh.
I looked behind that refreshing smile and saw a huge zone of desolation that was formerly the location of the demon tree forest.