KENS Chapter 53

Chapter 53 Sword and Sword (3)

While ascertaining that my sword was on my waist, as I climbed up into the arena, an extremely loud cheer that could explode one’s eardrums rose.

Realizing that at least half of those cheers were for me, I almost felt my body freeze from fear and nervousness. Really, I’m not used to being in front of so many people.

At times like these, I’d talk to Ermenhilde or my comrades to avert my thoughts but…..right now, I was alone.

Aah, I really am so helpless when alone.

While I gave bitter smile realizing that, from my opposite side—-O’brien-san entered the stage.

With grizzled blonde hair and a well maintained beard.

Even though he is well past the age of being in active duty, he is a great man that still stands at the very forefront of the army while swinging his sword.

His body was covered in the full plate iron armour used by the Knight Order. Normally it’s what lower level knights wear but its perfect for use in such a tournament.

As expected, if he were to wear his full mithril armour here, it’d be really unfair.

In his hands was a two-hand sword which was longer and heavier than the one on my waist. Unlike me and Masaki-chan who focus on fast slashes, his sword style focuses on smashing and hacking down the enemy.

Once more, loud cheers rose.

But somehow, the cheers felt slightly lesser than mine. Must be my imagination.

It seems O’brien-san himself realized that as he was giving a rare wry smile.

Judging by his eyes and expression, he seems to be in a pretty good mood. When he’s pissed, just standing in front of him, his stare alone would make it feel like your life span is getting shortened.

…………it’s the kind of fear only people who have witnessed it can understand.

“It seems you’re the more popular one.”(ob)

“I doubt that. If they knew how I really was, it’ll probably disappear completely.”

“I won’t be too sure of that.”

Inside my head, the magic [voice] resounded.

It’s gave an introduction for me and O’brien-san as normally done in such tournaments.

In fact, like right now——-this isn’t the first time I’m standing in such an arena. It’s a great place to win money and also a really good opportunity to test your own skill as well after all.

To see how strong you are, to test how much you can fight alone.

For me, who was the weakest of the 13, a place like this Coliseum where you fight with blunt swords was a pretty convenient place.

At times, I was made to fight against monsters acquired by slave merchants as well though.

“Back then, you did train here quite a lot, eh?”(ob)

“It feels really nostalgic. To think, 3 years have already passed from that time.”

I wonder, how long did we actually stay in the Imnesia continent…….I think it was less than even a year.

After getting used to fighting in this continent, getting used to killing monsters, we accustomed ourselves to fight with swords and magic.

After that, we went to Elfreim continent where we had to fight actually strong monsters and demon—-and finally, we went to Abenelm where we had to face off against whole armies of monsters and Demons, and then finally fought the Demon Lord and then the Demon God.

Recalling those times, I realized how peaceful Imnesia continent already was in comparison. Though the threat of monsters was there, they still had the composure of capturing those monsters to make them fight in the Coliseum in the end.

Well, it’s not like I, who had to fight desperately even against such weak monsters, have any right to complain though.

“You were always so close to crying.”(ob)

“I didn’t, in the end though………”

This Knight commander who knew a lot of my embarrassing past spoke of such things with a broad grin and laughed.

He must be really laughing recalling all sorts of things inside his mind.

Not all, but I could remember a lot fo them as well so all I could do was just scratch my cheek and give a wry smile.

Once I got used to fighting with comrades, the next was to learn how to fight one-on-one, then against many while alone; all this was drilled into me here in this arena in the name of training. It’s still actually kind of a slight trauma for me.

I recall when I was told to fight against many goblins inside this arena with nothing more than this blunt weak-looking sword. I was sure I’d die that day.

It’s said that the arena is a place to test your skill and guts, but I really wish they’d not put my life on the line as well. There’s a limit to how spartan you can be.

………..thanks to that, I was able to survive till now though and have been able to travel even alone. But still, recalling those memories still make me hope that he could have been a bit more gentle with me.

Seriously, I really did come close to crying so many times.

“Well, an adult can’t cry in front of kids after all, right?”(renji)

“Ha——certainly, that’s true.”(ob)

When I said that, O’brien-san gave a broad smile.

In my opinion, adults have to look good when in front of kids no matter what. Even if you are unsightly, and completely not cool, I really don’t want to think of myself as being not cool. I don’t want the kids to see me like that.

An adult is a person who’s made out of stupid pride alone. And for that pride alone, he must work as hard as possible and can become as strong as he can. At least, that’s what adults are in my opinion.

“So, have you gotten any stronger from then?”(ob)

“I wonder.”

The magic [voice] continued to speak inside my head.

After finishing my and O’brien-san’s introduction, it was speaking about our journey—–about the monsters we fought, etc.

Hearing myself being introduced like some cool, super powerful warrior, I only felt embarrassed and felt like getting out of here as fast as I could.

Yesterday, I was laughing when hearing Souichi, Masaki-chan and Aya’s intros but right now, when I was the one being talked about, I couldn’t laugh at all.

The only one laughing was the knight who held the same merits and result as the ones being told except for a few.

While lightly talking with O’brien-san, I drew my sword. And O’brien, who had already unsheathed his sword, put it up on his shoulders as usual.

“Show me, how much you’ve grown.”(ob)

“I’ll be in your care.”(renji)

I doubt the spectators can hear our talk.

That’s why we can talk like that.

What I’m wished to be, is a Hero.

A Hero known as Yamada Renji.

The hope of humanity, the existence that reaches a helping hand out to those in pain, never losing………an undefeatable hero.

But still, since I’m standing here——I have to answer to those, almost selfish, expectations.

That’s the kind of existence a Hero is.

I wonder if I’m the only one who thinks like that.

…………even though to always win is an almost impossible task for me.

Well, I think that you’d say that I shouldn’t stand here if I truly feel that way though.

In the end, even while using my debt to Utano-san as an excuse——like this, I might be influencing someone right now.

It’s annoying to have so many expectations of me but still, I am…………just like before, someone who gets lonely easily.

Holding the sword in my right hand, I relaxed my body.

I took no stance. In the first place, this knight in front of me never taught me any specific style of fighting.

There was form or type to the way I fight. I have not learned Battoujutsu like Masaki-chan or the sword forms the Knight Order teaches either.

My way of fighting was the way to survive, the way to kill monsters.

That’s all this knight taught me.

“Fuu.”

“—–You don’t seem very nervous now.”(ob)

“If I was, I’d die in the very first second after all.”

“fuh……..I guess I don’t have to hold back then.”

No, if you can please hold back against me.

If he did what he said, even in front of so many people, he really wouldn’t care a bit as he smashes me all over the place. Giving a bitter smile, I took a deep breath once more.

I said that but, I still am a bit nervous. I feel like the strength I was putting in my grip was stronger than even when I’m facing monsters.

I’m well aware of O’brien-san’s strength. He has the destructive strength in a single swing of his large sword to completely destroy the floor I was standing on. Even if his sword is a blunt one, that won’t change.

I’m sure, if his opponent was anyone other than me, he’d hold back his full strength.

But against me, he’d go all out.

That’s the kind of man he is. I am well aware of that.

That’s why, I want to answer him back properly. Fighting at full strength—-I want to win. Unrelated to me being a Hero and whatnot, I just want to win against O’brien-san.

This past one year, I spent it freely. Averting my gaze that was still in chaos after the war with demons and the Demon God, I went away on my travels.

While I spending time like that, O’brien-san was working hard and doing his best to bring stability to the country and to end the chaos.

That’s why, at least here, I want to fight him with my full strength. I’m sure that’s just my own selfish excuse though.

——-Inside my head, the magic [voice] finally stopped.

“OOHH!!”

The next instant, even though he was wearing that heavy armour, O’brien-san closed in on me with just a few steps.

His force was incredible and my body almost went stiff from the pressure.

He swung his sword at me with unimaginable destructive force behind it. It would be impossible for me to take that on with the sword I was holding.

Without reacting to his yell, I kept my calm and dodged the swing by bending back my body.

The pressure from the sword made my clothes sway as the sword crashed into the stone floor. Without even looking at that, I swung my sword.

I aimed for his neck.

But he blocked that instantly with the gauntlet on his left hand that had let go of his sword. A loud metallic clang resounded in my ears.

Even though my strikes aren’t that powerful as his, though it wouldn’t wound him, it should still have numbed his hand. Yet, without showing any change in expression, he used his right hand to swing back his large sword.

I stopped the swing with my foot and used that momentum to jump away to create some distance between us.

In this world, most swords are mass produced ones.

Since they are produced like that, most don’t have much sharpness. If it was some mithril sword made solely for one user, it would take various things into consideration like more sharpness and habits of the wielder but swords like these, that are given in the Coliseum, are not like that. Above all, for the tournament they were blunted as well. So it was possible for me to block it with just my boot. It’s a technique you shouldn’t use in an actual battle even by mistake.

“Houu, you’re like an acrobat.”(ob)

“I’m not that good.”

Lowering my waist, I held my longsword with both hands.

Every weapon has its own advantage. While recalling the teachings of O’brien-san, I took another deep breath.

Advantages of a long sword, advantages of a large two hand sword. At the same time, all had their own weaknesses as well.

All of that was thoroughly trained into me. You could say that it had been carved into my body even. Told through words then explained through my body. I was trained till it felt like I didn’t have any arms.

How nostalgic, really.

“Well, well, what are you going to do next?”(ob)

“let’s see…”

Even when I aimed for his neck, it was easily deflected.

It clearly showed that there was a reason this man was still in active duty even at his age. His reflexes were at an astonishing level.

Seeing my own full strength attacks deflected so easily, I became even more cautious.

As if he found it amusing, O’brien-san once again took his usual stance of having his sword on his shoulder. He’s going to swing with his full strength once more.

This man doesn’t use any tricky moves. At least in one-on-one battles like this.

The advantage of a 2hand sword was the greater range and destructive strength. And it’s weight, that alone was a big weapon in itself.

But——all of those were its weakness as well. It’s bigger range can be turned into a disadvantage if you can step in close to his body.

Because its swings are so destructive, it causes stamina to deplete fast as well.

And as for its weight…….as long as you can avoid the attack, it’ll create a big opening to attack.

Thinking of all that; What should I do next?

Even with all such weaknesses, even after stepping in close to him and dodging his attack, in the end, my attack was blocked.

Just like how I know the weakness and strengths of his large sword, O’brien-san knows the same for my longsword as well. And he also knows the way I fight.

Since I lack the arm strength, I can’t clash my sword directly with his.

Due to that, my moves are limited. So I aim for the vitals. Neck, joints, heart; I fight with each strike aiming to kill instantly.

That’s why, he was able to block it. Because he knew that I would only aim for his neck at that moment.

“Let’s go!!”

That said, it’s not like I had any other way to fight.

I wasn’t giving up, in fact, I felt unusually calm as I concentrated on O’brien-san’s charge.

We’re both aware of each other’s moves and skills. Then, it’ll be a battle of pure ability and skill.

Until now, I had never been able to win against him because I was nowhere near his level. Whether it be in arm strength, my physique, my techniques, or experience.

He swung his sword again. Against that full powered swing, I could only once again dodge by bending backwards and once more, the floor got smashed.

From there, to create a big distance between us, I jumped away.

“OOH!!!”

Trying to pursue me, his sword swung after me.

The swing was so fast that it looked as if the sword was weightless as it closed in on me.

Jumping back one more step, I somehow dodged that attack as well. The tip of sword slightly brushed my clothes making a small tear in it.

My feet landed on the ground at the same time as the sword swung past me.

Seeing the opening created from the wide swing of the sword, I rushed in towards O’brien-san with full speed.

But my actions were seen through already as he, while remaining in his stance, used his incredible arm strength to swing back his sword towards me.

Swinging back the sword from such a weird stance should have limited the power behind the horizontal slash——or so I thought.

Feeling a bad premonition, I quickly dropped down my body when the sword rushed just above my head cutting through the air.

Right in front of me was his right leg. His knee aimed for my face. As I bent my neck to dodge it, reflexively I swung my sword towards his left leg.

His right leg rose and his left leg, which I tried slashing, remained uninjured.

While clicking my tongue, I rolled on the stone floor to distance myself away from him. But this time, O’brien-san pursued after me.

Against me, who was still on his knees, he brought down his sword from above.

“Shiit!!!”

I dodged that slash by jumping to the side and then avoided the next one that came after me by bending my neck away.

His sword moved so fast that you wouldn’t believe that it was a 2 hand large sword. Unable to even take on that barrage with my sword, I continued to dodge it. I didn’t even have time to properly stand up and fix my posture.

He continued to swing, slash, and mow me down with his sword.

And I dodged, twisted my body and moved my neck to avoid all of the attacks. As the speed of the attacks continued to rise, my speed in dodging them also rose.

Let alone blink, I didn’t even have the time to breathe.

But his speed only kept on rising further.

It was Boost magic that enhanced physical abilities.

Something I cannot use. Even though it’s a power that almost most of the people in this world possess. Magical energy.

I could faintly see the earthen coloured magical energy around O’brien-san.

I don’t consider it to be cheating though. This was normal way to fight for the people of this world. I, the one who didn’t have it, was the weird one.

The speed of his sword, sharpness, all rose.

But still, I continued to desperately dodge.

The ones I couldn’t avoid, I parried them somehow by smacking my sword at the base of his large sword.

He accelerated. More and more.

The fatigue in my arms continued to grow and my arm started to go numb. The lack of oxygen made it painful and my unblinking eyes hurt. But still, he continued to accelerate. Even though he’s already stronger than me, by using magic to enhance his movements, even while wearing the armour, he was faster than me. Each and every one of his attacks coming from his enhanced arm strength made my arms grow numb.

And I continued to parry those attacks with minimum required movements.

Silence. As if even the grunts and shouts while fighting were useless, both me and O’brien-san were completely silent.

Only the sharp sound of sword clashing came to my ears.

The [voice] of magic that normally commentated on the matches was also not resounding in my ears anymore.

I want to breathe.

I dodged the diagonal slash by lowering my waist

I want to breathe.

As if he knew I was going to dodge, he stopped his swing and returned back the sword aiming for me neck.

I want to breathe.

That attack, rather than using my sword to strike back at it, his hand holding the large sword——I used my left fist to strike at his wrist to stop the attack. No matter how much arm strength he might have, it’s still flesh and skin, and bones underneath that. It’s much better than getting slashed by the sword.

In that instant, a single opening appeared.

Rather than taking this chance to breathe, I used my sword and aimed for his knee joint that is not protected by his full plate armour. I didn’t even have to look at it, I simply aimed for the joint solely through my trained instinct.

Let alone being blunt, the sword that had taken heavy damage from the swings of his large sword and was almost in tatters, was unable to cut through and simply ended up as striking him but still, that made O’brien-san bend his knee.

From there, I hastened my side, swung back my arm and with the minimum required movements, I stuck my long sword at his neck.

There, finally, I took a deep breath.

…………it’s a miracle that I didn’t actually slash away his neck by going with the momentum. Or were they sure that if it was me I would stop myself in time?

Huge cheers rose, like thunder. It was really a huge cheer of joy.

“You’ve become better.”(ob)

“Where, exactly?”

My heart was beating so fast that it felt like it’d explode.

Sweat poured down from all over my body and both my arms felt like they were going numb.

The sword I had was in such a bad condition that no amount of repairs could save it. That’s how ruined it was.

Though I’m not injured anywhere, it still feels like my whole body hurts.

In comparison, O’brien-san was simply breathing slightly roughly.

Just looking at us, it should be clear who was in better condition.

Yet, the [voice] declared me as the winner.

“Tchh. You really should go easy a little…….”

When I said that, O’brien-san went down on his knees.

At the same time, three men in priest-like robes came out from one of the entrances to the arena towards O’brien-san.

“It’s not broken. Only wounded.”(ob)

He tried to stand up while saying that but went back down on his knees again.

It was the knee I struck at just now.

It looks like I hit it perfectly and ended up hurting his joint.

Though this was a duel, I still felt a bit bad.

Well, in my case, if I had failed at dodging even once, my head, or rather, my whole body would have been in pieces though.

“Are you okay?”

“Obviously. Seriously………..just because I got slightly injured, you’re already like this.”(ob)

“Well, I can’t help that.”

Saying that, I lent my shoulder to give him support to walk. His full armour really was heavy.

“C’mon, let’s go to the sickbay.”(renji)

“………To think that I have to borrow the shoulder of a man I once trained myself.”(ob)

“That’s my line. To think that I’d have to lend my shoulder to someone who trained me so hard that I almost vomited all I ate everyday.”

“That was because you were weak.”

“Yeah, sure.”

That’s why.

“Thank you, for training me so well.”(renji)

“Idiot.”

When I said that, he turned his face away with a surprised voice. I felt nice seeing O’brien-san get embarrassed for once.

Somehow, I didn’t feel weird while thanking him at all.

Though he was a total spartan with me, he still always thought of me and it’s thanks to him I’m even alive right now.

Though they are unpleasant  memories, they are not bad. I’m really grateful enough of him that I can still thank him like this.

The white robed priests followed after us as the audience gave a huge round of applause.

I wonder what they thought of our fight.

Well, for the time being I think they were satisfied, I think.

Feirona and the others might be in the stands as well so it might be a good idea to ask them.

“Don’t blame Yuuko-dono too much, okay?”(ob)

“Huh?”

After walking a bit, he suddenly said that.

Why did Utano-san come up here? I was thinking in confusion when O’brien-san continued.

I, do not what happened that made you always have such a gloomy face.”(ob)

“Do, I really have been like that?”

“I have said this before as well but you’re the type whose emotions are completely visible on your face.”

“And here I was sure that I had matured a bit after all this time.”

Well, that doesn’t mean I’d get good at making poker faces though. But still, it’s a bit eye opening to be told that directly to your face.

Was I really making that gloomy of a face always? I thought I was pretty normal as always.

But if he says that, it must be true. All said and done, this man has clashed swords with me the most after all.

He must be able to understand me pretty well now……..I think.

“Because you were so gloomy, she came up with something like that debt or whatnot.”(ob)

“I don’t really understand the connection between my debt and my gloomy face………..”

“It’s to make you feel willing and eager again by bringing you out in front of everyone, is what I’m saying.”

‘You should understand at least that much!’ it feels like he’s saying that.

But, well, yeah..

………just how much am I making other around me worry for me?

Just how hard do I have to work to be able to answer their concerns?

Utano-san, Aya, and everyone else as well. Even Koutarou and Astraera……..

“What’s wrong?”(ob)

“No, it’s nothing.”

When I said that, O’brien-san’s shoulders shook with laughter.

It’s a bit troublesome to walk since I’m lending him my shoulder but still, I felt happy to see him laugh like that.

“I guess, women who pull you around really do suit you.”(ob)

“What?”

“I have been thinking of this from back then as well but it seems you are only able to move forward when someone shows you the path and pulls you towards it.”

Being told that, I had no words to say back.

That’s because I knew deep inside that it was true.

In the past one year, I travelled to fulfil my promise to Eru but was I truly moving like when I was travelling with my comrades…….It’s hard to say.

……….I felt pathetic to not even being able to refute O’brien-san’s words.

“That’s how it is.”(ob)

“What do you even……..”

Could you not reveal it all so easily.

Did my reaction seem funny to him, as he laughed again. This time, out loud.

“Later, be kind with Yuuko-dono alright?”(ob)

“What kind of encouragement is that?”

“Fufu.”

Haah, I sighed.

Raising my head, in the balcony of the noble seats,——-Utano-san, Aya and Yui-chan along with Anastasia on her shoulder were there.

Probably, behind them Toudou, Kuuki and KNIGHT are also there. Can’t say for sure about Kudou.

And they were all looking at me.

“Don’t tell this to Yuuko-dono okay?”(ob)

“I won’t.”

“She is really scary when she gets angry after all.”

“I know.”

Or rather, I definitely won’t say that.

We were talking about this during our duel…………if I said that to that shy Sage-sama, what would she do to me just to hide her embarrassment? Well, that might be interesting to see on its own though.

“It seems Aya has grown to be pretty beautiful as well. Great people do have great taste indeed. How splendid.”(ob) (T/N: to be exact what Obrien said was -‘Great men have great fondness for sensual pleasure’ but that kind of sounded a bit too weird so I ‘localised’ it the best I could.)

“What kind of weird things are you saying?”(renji)

True, that sounds great. As a man, they are truly words one would be attracted to.

But still.

…………So O’brien-san had (such desires) this kind of side to him as well.

Somehow, it felt really fresh.

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