“Solje Strauuuusss!!” (Mistral)
The skeleton opens his mouth to the point that made me think it might break and called me.
“…You are being a bit too overfamiliar. That ain’t your name.” (Solje)
“No…this name will be in my collection.” (Mistral)
“Interesting. You are saying you can kill me?” (Solje)
A damn straightlaced guy like you with such honest swordsmanship must have a basis for his confidence.
What’s the basis? Show me.
Wind blows from his hollow skeletal body as he shouts. A black wind. As if mixing with the blizzard, the black wind of Mistral spreads.
It is an unpleasant wind. I can feel evil in it. The magic eye of Ares shows me his ‘heart’. A reddish black. Truly easy to understand. It is the color of rage. Is it for admitting defeat?
With my dragon eye, I end up seeing the moment someone’s heart breaks. This time is the same as well. Mistral didn’t know the taste of defeat in these 50 years, and now he is being pushed by an unbelievable sense of defeat.
The way to heal the shame of defeat?
Revenge is the only way.
The enemy that tarnished your honor, cut them down; that’s the only way the shame of a swordsman can disappear.
What a troublesome living being. No, it wouldn’t be accurate to call him ‘living’.
“…Why are you laughing?” (Mistral)
“I learned that death doesn’t cure the stupidity of a swordsman. It made me so happy I couldn’t hold it.” (Solje)
Mistral was silent.
He didn’t like what I said? It is not as if I was insulting you, and I want to believe those feelings transmitted.
His body was slowly growing in size as he spreads out darkness wind, and eventually he answers me.
“…What a strange man.” (Mistral)
“…You are praising me there, right?” (Solje)
Silence again. But I take it as praise. I would be praising the person that defeats me after all.
Swordsmen are idiots, don’t you think?
But that idiocy makes them loveable. Being an idiot is proof that you are earnest as well after all.
“…Preparations are over.” (Mistral)
Saying this, a more violent wind travels the place. The blizzard was overwritten for an instant. It is like the time when a dragon rises to the sky.
This wind is fearsome and isolating.
There’s no need for a signal between swordsmen.
Mistral, who had managed some sort of transformation, charged at me as if piercing through the darkness wind.
Slashes come flying at me. Right, left, right, left…? No, I see! So that’s how it is.
Right, left, right, left, left, right, right!! The combinations didn’t stop and continued on perpetually.
What an unbelievable amount of moves. It takes my all to just deflect them with my dragon longsword, and there’s no opening for me to fight back!!
“I see! This aberration is nice! This is a first for me!!” (Solje)
I sing my happiness.
I felt like the meatless face of Mistral smiled.
“…To think you would be happy at your own death!!” (Mistral)
“I won’t die. I am somehow fighting on, right?” (Solje)
“Yeah, shockingly so.” (Mistral)
What is happening, you ask? This monster has become even more of a monster.
His arms became longer than before, have increased to four, and each were holding sabers. Using those four arms, he is creating a sword dance of sabers, and is attacking me in angles and moves that surpass my imagination.
“You are the first to praise this…abnormal form.” (Mistral)
“I see. You must have fought boring opponents then!” (Solje)
“…I haven’t thought of it in that way, but…hearing those words of yours…No, when I look at your sword playing freely, my past duels are fading.” (Mistral)
“Well, thanks!” (Solje)
I find an instance of an opening, and with a blow of the dragon longsword, I deflect the attack of the saber. I backstep and try to create distance, but…Mistral moves as if stretching like a silent shadow and easily pursues me.
“Damn it!!” (Solje)
This bastard has increased the number of legs to four too!! The current Mistral was like a monster who had become one with a horse. His current form must make it easier to fight in this snowy field. Each slash of his had more power and weight to it.
It is proof that his center of balance is a lot lower than before. He has become several steps more of a monster.
I continue blocking the slashes that felt like a downpour. But a number of the slashes that I couldn’t deflect completely had cut my cheek, armor, arm, and depending on the place, blood was spraying around.
Nicely done, Mistral. My face is not smiling anymore.
It must be thanks to the fact that he stopped taking a humanoid form. This Mistral who was showing more of a monstrous visage was faster and stronger.
I have already endured several tens…no, several hundreds of attacks and was being pushed back. I can’t think of a way to break through this amount of moves.
“Hahaha!! Well done enduring this long!! This is a first!! This special technique I have sealed for 50 years…there has been no man who has been able to endure this long alone no matter the battlefield and excellent warrior he was!!” (Mistral)
“I see! Figures. I don’t feel like I am fighting only one person here, after all!!” (Solje)
The four arms are coming at me at unbelievable angles after all. If it weren’t for my footwork, I would have been caught in the rush of slashes, and would have been minced.
“What’s the matter, Solje Strauss?! This is too one-sided!!” (Mistral)
“Wanted to test it?” (Solje)
“…Well, you see, I have a feeling. No wonder you have sealed this technique.” (Solje)
“Because if you used it, you would have won?” (Solje)
“…Yeah, that’s right.” (Mistral)
“That’s impressive.” (Solje)
Even while pouring slashes and overwhelming me, he turns silent once again.
What a straightlaced monster. I don’t even need to use my dragon eye.
“Is it boring? In the summit where you stand?” (Solje)
“…Who knows.” (Mistral)
“I am surprised you can laugh. Your cheek has been cut deeply just now, you know?” (Mistral)
“Yeah, it hurts. But you are simply way too amusing!!” (Solje)
I break down two of the sabers that were swung aiming at my head with the blow of my dragon longsword.
The pursuit of Mistral stopped for a moment. I use that instant to open the distance between us. And then, I fix my breathing.
He didn’t chase.
“Haaah, haaaah…good grief, I didn’t think fighting against four arms would be this tiring…” (Solje)
I didn’t imagine I would be fighting against a swordsman that has four arms in the first place. That’s why I couldn’t cope with it. But…my eyes have gotten quite used to it now.
“…You read my swordsmanship?” (Mistral)
“…Yeah, it is light and fast. That’s why I could destroy two at once.” (Solje)
“Did my sword dull?” (Mistral)
“No, that’s not it. You have been training alone way too much.” (Solje)
“I don’t know how many times longer you have lived compared to me…but you have trained way too much alone.” (Solje)
“…What’s the problem with that?” (Mistral)
“Your blade is dry. You have left it way too long without letting it drink the blood of a swordsman.” (Solje)
Well, with him sealing that technique for 50 years…no wonder it would turn out this way.
“What are you trying to say…?” (Mistral)
“It is a lonely sword. Your master is already deep under? Have you already drunk the blood of your brother disciples?” (Solje)
“The price of eternity. And the price for that overwhelming power…was big.” (Solje)
“You are not answering my question.” (Mistral)
“Your sword is way too lonely.” (Solje)
I answer him while placing my dragon longsword on my shoulder. He may be one great senior in the path of the swordsman, but he is a lonely monster.
“You reached your ideal sword. But that ideal has way too little fun in it. The intentional roughness mixed to it, the feints…even those are way too clean.” (Solje)
“What’s so bad about it?” (Mistral)
“…You know already, right?” (Solje)
“Yeah, it gets read. The closer it gets to the ideal sword…the easier it is read by even a stranger like you.” (Mistral)
Looks like the lonely monster already knew his own weakness. As expected of a great senior. I still don’t have the open-mindedness to admit the faults of my own techniques.
“With that much ideal movement…even if you are using four arms to control your swords, I can see them.” (Solje)
“…What fearsome eyes.” (Mistral)
“Yeah, it was given to me by a dragon.” (Solje)
“But this doesn’t mean I have lost.” (Mistral)
He did something slightly unfair.
The sabers that I went through the trouble of breaking were being restored… Even in areas like this, he has no openings. Nice technique. But…
“Lately, my family luck has been incredibly good. Looking back at my life, I’ve had terrible family luck. My whole family was killed by the Empire, and I couldn’t protect mother and Cecil. I was the last man in the family. My job was to protect those two. But lately, I haven’t felt lonely.” (Solje)
“…What are you saying?” (Mistral)
“The reason why you can’t defeat me. You don’t remember the sword of your siblings anymore, right?” (Solje)
That silence says a lot.
Of course. I don’t know how many centuries you have lived, but if you train alone for that long, you will end up forgetting a lot.
“That’s why that sword of yours is light.” (Solje)
“My sword is light?” (Mistral)
“Yeah, it is a sword that only has you on it. That sword that has been grinded so much by ideals and technique…has an emptiness that only thinks about attacking. It has forgotten about the people behind it all.” (Solje)
“What is it I am lacking?” (Mistral)
“The width of your techniques is not enough. You could call it arrangement. Not only is it easy to read because of how ideal it is, but it is lacking in the amount of changes… You were way too lonely. If you had comrades or family you could polish yourself with…you would have been able to learn more about that sword of yours.” (Solje)
“…Even from people that are inferior to me?” (Mistral)
“Of course. It is a problem of variety than quality after all. If a little brother with shorter arms than yours were to use the same technique, you could have seen weak points to it, learn about ways to erase those faults, right?” (Solje)
“…Who knows.” (Mistral)
“I see. Well, you could say it is a constriction of vision due to being alone. An ideal that comes by your own vision is so shallow that it is easily seen through.” (Solje)
“Even if it is a sword that has been polished to the highest degree?” (Mistral)
“Yeah, obviously. I will prove it to you right now.” (Solje)
I take an oblique stance with my dragon longsword and walk to where he is.
Mistral also approached me and gripped his four sabers.
The distance shortens. That’s right, from now on, it won’t be a talk. It will be a world where the grinding of swords will be speaking.
The one who attacked first was him. His ideal four armed swordsmanship once again attacks me like a downpour.
Yeah, it really is ideal. The angle, strength, speed; that’s why don’t think I will be breaking only two again.
I lower my body, and evade the saber that was coming horizontally at me…but that’s not all, I immediately turn around, and sweep the saber that I had just evaded!! My technique, Severing Gale!!
The red gale destroys two sabers of Mistral at once!!
“To be read so easily!! But I still have two!!” (Mistral)
“Are you an idiot?” (Solje)
I kicked him…at his right forefoot. I drive my iron boot into one of the four feet he had.
I easily destroyed his bones.
Mistral was supposed to be composed, but he was still shocked. You must not have noticed…the accumulation of burden in your legs. If you were a human, you would have felt the pain and would have noticed, but you don’t even feel that.
That’s why you couldn’t even notice the brittleness of it. The stronger the technique, the more of a recoil it has. That’s a basic.
Because of his broken leg, his balance was destroyed.
This is a natural thing to happen. At the moment when Mistral swung the top left and lower right sabers, he was placing way too much weight in this leg after all. Every time he swung, it was raising screams.
Your technique may have been way too ideal that it doesn’t have many openings, but the recoil for it is beyond belief.
Also, did you notice? While I was letting you hit me, in your eyes, I was always going to your right, and that was concentrating the damage to your right leg.
There’s no way my ears would miss the screams that your leg was giving out.
“Such a…stupid weak point!!” (Mistral)
“That’s right. Even if you had an unskilled sibling, they would still try to imitate your technique. And with that, their legs would break in the first try… If you had at least that experience, you wouldn’t have left such a technique replete with faults just as it is, right?” (Solje)
My Severing Gale cut off his head this time.
- Chapter 72
The severed head of Mistral rolled on the snowfield and the gigantified body of his fell in place silently.
“Hoh. So you are not dying even with that?” (Solje)
“…It is simply because I can’t die. I don’t really hate that.” (Mistral)
The severed head was talking calmly.
I see, so he really is ‘immortal’ then?
His body melts into the ground as if it were being swallowed into the ground like a shadow. In the place where the body of an undead was, there was now a dark reddish liquid. No, can’t even be considered a liquid. Anyways, it is a dark red stain that is slightly foaming.
“…Did the body perish?” (Solje)
“No. Well, just watch.” (Mistral)
The stain was moving like a living being. Slime? It feels like that, but…isn’t forming a solid shape. Anyways, that dark red boiling shadow got closer to the head of Mistral and swallows even the head.
I wait for it without interfering.
The fight of the Banjar Mercenaries against the ice bone wolves continues, but it is clear that our side is winning. There’s no need for me to lend a hand. I would rather have Mia experience battles in a snowy region and get some teamwork with her.
The dark magic here continues.
It is making a *blub blub* sounds, and from the dark boiling something, Mistral surfaces. Finished the repairs, I suppose. He has returned to his knight form he showed the first time.
“It certainly does give the vibe that you are immortal… But you are quite exhausted.” (Solje)
“…So you can see that. Is it with that strange eye below that eyepatch of yours?” (Mistral)
“I don’t want to be told it is a strange eye by you.” (Solje)
His eyes are blue fireballs swaying…I feel like I was told I am ugly by an ugly person. It is the complete opposite feeling of having a handsome man tell me I am handsome. It depressed me a hella lot.
“Don’t admit it.” (Solje)
This guy has decent conversational skills? I really feel like laughing here, you know… But Mistral has a serious expression, so endure it.
“…And so, what will you do? Wanna try a round three?” (Solje)
“Burns and lacerations, blood loss, stamina and mana; you should be exhausted as well.” (Mistral)
“Yeah, and?” (Solje)
“…If I had flesh in my face…I might have smiled from that.” (Mistral)
A smile that you would give to someone you empathize with? In that case, that’s nice.
“I see. If that’s the case, even if you were handsome or ugly, that smile would have gotten me.” (Solje)
“What do you mean?” (Mistral)
“Meaning that I like you quite a lot.” (Solje)
“Even though you cut off my head just a few moments ago?” (Mistral)
“Yeah, this and that are two different things.” (Solje)
“…What an interesting man. To think you can have such light talk with an undead.” (Mistral)
“If I can talk with someone that is worth talking to…of course I will talk.” (Solje)
“What weird logic. But…it is true that I have taken a liking to you too, Dragon Knight, Solje Strauss.” (Mistral)
“Well, thanks. Wind of Death, the immortal Mistral-san.” (Solje)
“…Hounds!! Close your fangs!! We are leaving!!” (Mistral)
Mistral shouted that.
The Ice Bone Wolves answered him with complete obedience. They didn’t even give a glance at their killed comrades, they gathered around Mistral and sat there.
“Your doggies have decreased by quite a lot.” (Solje)
“Dying in the battlefield is a blessing. More so with you personages as opponents.” (Mistral)
“We’ve been quite liked, huh. And so, who asked you of this?” (Solje)
He said ‘my master’… Who is this ‘Undead Lord’?
“Can’t say that. Our ‘requester’ doesn’t wish their name revealed.” (Mistral)
This Agarm by the name of Mistral is the same as us, a mercenary. It is the oldest of professions lining up with prostitutes.
There’s a lot of types, but to think an apostle of a Zeruaga, an Agarm, would be acting as a mercenary…
If it had been a person with an open mind like Garf Cortez, he would have tried to recruit him. ‘An Agarm mercenary?! Interesting, make sure to recruit him at all costs!!’ I could hear the previous captain’s voice from the other side.
But right now we are in the middle of an important mission. I can’t recruit an enemy. If there’s a chance in the future…I can decide that then.
“Is something the matter? Going all silent after being so noisy before.” (Mistral)
“I was just thinking a bit here. But…I see. The requester doesn’t wish it, huh. Then, you wouldn’t tell me even if I killed you.” (Solje)
“Of course.” (Mistral)
He really does fit the mercenary role. But Garf, I can’t listen to your opinion right now.
“…Then, fine. If you are going to leave, then that’s fine for today. I am sleepy.” (Solje)
“Fufufu, acting all tough.” (Mistral)
I am indeed acting tough.
There’s still more than 30 Ice Wolves. It isn’t difficult to fight and defeat them. But in this region of intense cold, and thinking about the journey to Barrow Gawick…I don’t want to get injured more than I already am.
Picking a fight and dying pointlessly?
I wouldn’t want a pathetic journey like that.
“…I will be taking my leave. I have fulfilled my request after all.” (Mistral)
“Fulfilled, you say? I am still alive.” (Solje)
“…Test, is what that person said.” (Mistral)
“Test? …My strength?” (Solje)
Or the Banjar Mercenaries’ strength?
Mistral shrugs his shoulders and says back.
“Do you think I am fit to test the quality of a person?” (Mistral)
“No, you don’t seem the type.” (Solje)
“…They probably don’t hate you. They must be expecting something from you.” (Mistral)
“Who is?” (Solje)
“I can’t tell you.” (Mistral)
“Expectations, huh… Doesn’t feel bad. But if I didn’t match those ‘expectations’, you would have cut me down? Sounds like someone I would like.” (Solje)
“Indeed. They did look like they got along well with you.” (Mistral)
“…What did you say?” (Solje)
“You have been embraced by the arms of the dead. Because of that, I was able to find you within this blizzard.” (Mistral)
“…Are you saying there’s someone who has ‘cursed’ me?” (Solje)
That person cursed me and is the person that sent Mistral after me?
It is true that I have been getting involved with undead a lot lately, but…I wonder when it was? Who was it that casted a curse and tried to test me?
“…For what goal?” (Solje)
“I have spoken too much. Forget it. Well then, Solje Strauss, let’s meet again on the battlefield.” (Mistral)
“…Yeah, thanks for the ‘parting gift’. Don’t get killed by someone aside from me, okay?” (Solje)
“Same with you.” (Mistral)
Saying this, Mistral disappeared into the blizzard.
Riel ran over here. She aimed at the back of Mistral with her bow and asks me.
“…Is it okay?” (Riel)
“Yeah, there’s no need to kill him. He seems to be an Agarm, he won’t be dying easily.” (Solje)
“…An existence that entered a contract with a Zeruaga and obtained immortality, huh. It is a traitor of this world, you know.” (Riel)
“It wasn’t a grandiose desire. He just wanted to become stronger. With infinite time, he could have reached the ideal strength…. That’s probably all he was thinking about. A pretty amusing guy.” (Solje)
“Are you saying letting that fiend go away is the right thing?” (Riel)
“No, I am not saying that. But exhausting ourselves more than this would be rough.” (Solje)
I can’t see any wounds on Riel at a glance. But she has used quite a lot of arrows, and of course, she is tired. Fighting with a horde of monsters inside a snowstorm, there’s no doubt it was more draining than my one-on-one.
“He will be coming at us again in the future anyways. We have a chance to finish him off, but…if we injure our legs in some way, our journey to Barrow Gawick is over, you know?” (Solje)
“…I will obey Captain’s orders.” (Riel)
Riel-chan says this and lowers her bow.
Mistral was truly brave and serious. But after fighting with him, I felt it. He is not an existence that brings much harm to the world.
He was a decently good guy.
Because he even left a ‘parting gift’ for me after defeating him.
“…Riel, looks like I have been cursed.” (Solje)
“Eh? …But I don’t feel such magic power in you.” (Riel)
“Even with Ares’s power, or Zephyr’s, we couldn’t feel it. In other words…” (Solje)
“A Zeruaga’s…a power of the Spirit World.” (Riel)
“Seems so.” (Solje)
The power of the Spirit World. It is a power that we can’t detect. An unknown curse using that logic has been placed on me.
That is if we can trust what Mistral said though. But right now we don’t have enough information to deny it.
“…It is apparently not a power brought forth by hatred.” (Solje)
“What do you mean by that?” (Riel)
“We are being tested. Me, and probably the Banjar Mercenaries’ power. Mistral seems to have come with that objective.” (Solje)
“What would come from testing us?” (Riel)
“…Must mean they want us to ‘do something’. We were being tested to see whether we were worthy of being given that job.” (Solje)
“And so, we cleared that test?” (Riel)
“Seems so. That’s why he must have left.” (Solje)
“…Was it a strong opponent?” (Riel)
“Quite. He cornered me to the point that I could smell the scent of death.” (Solje)
“…I see. For now, I understand that we don’t understand a whole lot of things.” (Riel)
Yeah, Riel and I aren’t intelligent after all.
“Let’s discuss this with Loroka-neesama. Also, treat your wounds. You seem to be wounded here and there.” (Riel)
“Yeah, heal me in the female team tent please.” (Solje)
“If you do any kind of sexual harassment, I will tie you up and throw you out.” (Riel)
“…Yeah, I understand.” (Solje)
And so, the attack of Mistral and the Ice Wolves finished.
We returned to the tents and began treating our wounds. I shared the information with Loroka, but it looks like she shared the same sentiment as us.
But Loroka-sensei said this.
“…A Zeruaga, whether it be its real body or a familiar…in order to curse someone with the power of the Spirit World, there’s the need for direct contact.” (Loroka)
“In other words, the culprit and I…” (Solje)
“Have met. Moreover, have had some sort of physical contact.” (Loroka)
“In the victory celebration party till now and at the bar, it was a free-for-all hugging, you know.” (Solje)
“It would be difficult to pinpoint the culprit.” (Loroka)
“…It is not my fault…but I feel guilty.” (Solje)
“That’s because you hug everyone without restraints.” (Riel)
Riel was angry.
“I also embraced you too, so you are also part of this.” (Solje)
“…D-Don’t call it ‘embraced’…dummy.” (Riel)
The Tsundere Elf was wrapping the bandages around the wounds of my arm while blushing. She really is cute.
“…But, for now, we don’t know who is the culprit, so…let’s sleep.” (Solje)
“Right. Mia is already sleeping and all.” (Solje)
Mia is already inside the tent sleeping. Sleep well. Children grow the better they sleep.
“Then, to sleep.” (Solje)
“…You go outside or to the male team tent, right?” (Riel)
“Premarital sleeping in the same bed with someone of the opposite gender is forbidden by the precepts.” (Loroka)
Loroka said an unexpectedly reasonable Diaros culture thing.
Yeah, that’s understandable. I knew it. I just wanted to try saying it.
Oh well, fine. Because of fighting with Mistral, I am quite tired now. I should go sleep already for tonight.