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KENS Chapter 55

Chapter 55 Sword and Katana

(TN note: After thinking a while, I’ve decided to change Masaki-chan’s ‘demonic sword’ to ‘magic sword’ from here onwards cuz, logically speaking it’s weird for the heroes to be using anything ‘demonic’ after all. I don’t even know why I decided to even use ‘demonic’ in the first place. Maybe because it sounded cooler? ……..Yeah, that must be it -_-‘ )

The longsword in my hand, felt really heavy.

How many times had I thought that already—–?

.

.

For the Nth time, huge cheers rose as I stood in the arena.

Those cheers were not for the ‘human’ Yamada Renji, but for the Hero of salvation.

While knowing that, looking at loud excited cheering of the crowd, I ended up servicing them by waving my hand to them a bit as well.

“You look pretty relaxed.”

“Really?”(renji)

“Yes, a bit too relaxed.”

Looks like my opponent doesn’t think that I’m very serious right now. I feel like that red haired merc said something similar in the second round as well but I honestly think that I’m in a pretty serious mood right now.

Frankly speaking, among all the participants of this tournament, there is not a single one against whom I can say that [I’ll definitely win]. In fact, I can’t even let down my guard even slightly against any of them either.

Steeling myself so much, I’m actually tiring myself mentally.

Paying no regard to my inner thoughts, Masaki-chan looked at me with a chilly gaze. If I had some weird fetish, her gaze might have made me feel all excited. While thinking of such really inappropriate things, I faced her.

“So?”

“Hm?”(renji)

“Against me, will you at least fight seriously?”

“………I was pretty serious even in the first and second rounds though…”

While scratching my cheek, I replied.

At the same time, I began to hear the magic [voice] that I had finally gotten used to.

But this time, the voice wasn’t the usual one. Instead, it was a very familiar one—–Utano-san’s voice. She began our introductions.

Hearing her first introduce herself before talking, I realized that she was always so diligent with everything. Thinking that, I smiled slightly.

“Haah.”

Clearly noticing my reaction, Masaki-chan gave a sigh.

The sigh she gave while dropping her shoulders was heavy, and deep………You don’t have to be like that. Now I’ll start feeling as if it’s all my fault seeing a sigh like that.

“You sure are well loved by everyone.”(masaki)

“n…..muu”

“She’s worried for you isn’t she. She basically going so far just to show that she is with you, even if its only a bit.”

Saying that in an almost teasing voice, I wonder how much did she mean seriously and how much she meant as a joke. As she talked while giving an exaggerated shrug, she really looked like Koutarou when he jokes around. If I said that, she’d slit my throat without even waiting for the start signal though.

Or maybe, she meant all of it seriously.

When I hesitated to reply, she stepped in even more. But, for once, seeing her talk of such things instead of just about fighting, I guess she’s in a pretty good mood. In fact, that’s way better.

The only thing I could think of was that it must be something related to Souichi……..or worst case, just because she is getting to fight me.

“What, did something good happen with Souichi or something?”(renji)

“…..muu.”

Oh. Looks like I hit the right answer on the first try.

Her teasing expression, for a second, seriously just for an instant, turned into a surprised one as she looked at me.

How easy to understand. A girl in love is really adorable to see.

“I see, I see. So you were able to take a step forward with him, eh?”(renji)

“Shut up.”(masaki)

She spoke that in a low tone.  Her voice that seemed to come from the depths of her stomach could have made the heart of anyone who hears it tremble with fear.

But, I’m used to that as well. I was very familiar with her as she is one of my trusted comrades after all. I didn’t consider it scary or frightening. In fact seeing as how she normally acts so dignified, this was actually amusing. Maybe I was pretty fearless in a way?

“Yeah yeah, sure. I have no intention of turning a person’s love story into a joke after all.”(renji)

“guh.”

Finding Masaki-chan to be cute as she was lost for words, I drew my sword from the sheathe.

I used a short sword to teach Ms Francesca how to use it against large sword users but as expected, I can’t do something like that against Masaki-chan.

She pretty serious when it comes to fighting. Even if its among comrades, she won’t like it if I held back my strength.

But, in this world, to fight without holding back, even as training, means that it can be dangerous. She likes swords, loves to swing her katana and loves to fight. It’s not like I don’t understand her feelings but I hope she’d at least try to understand my feelings of not wanting to hurt her as well.

And because it was almost always Souichi who’d go along with her training, at some point training became a daily routine for her.

It must be because her partner was also a fighter of similar strength, she must have thought he’d be able to do anything she can easily as well, or something like that. That’s quite the dangerous way of thinking though. If they made a mistake anywhere, it won’t end with getting just a small injury for them. Or rather, there has been a few times where Yayoi-chan had to heal either of the two due to some mishap. And they tried to hide that fact from us as well.

At least they do understand that they would have gotten scolded. That makes it even worse though.

“Well, you’ll probably be fighting Souichi in the finals. Why don’t you win and ask him to listen to anything you say?”(renji)

“Eh?”

“Well, isn’t that a common trope? ‘If I win listen to anything I say! I’ll do the same if I lose!’, Right?”

When I said that jokingly, Masaki-chan looked at me with a blank expression.

“So there was such a tactic!”(masaki)

“………Onii-san’s happy to see that your brain is useless as usual.”(renji)(T/N: renji refers to himself as oniisan in third person)

“Wh- Who’re you calling useless!”

Oh well.

Swinging around my longsword a few times, I checked its condition. I did say that I could win, but in the end, this is a sword fight.

No matter how much I try to distract her concentration, once we get into battle, it’ll be useless. That’s how incredible Masak-chan’s power to concentrate in battle is.

Since I knew that, I wanted to at least try and disturb her concentration even if only a bit but——Utano-san’s [voice] didn’t allow me much time for it.

Our introductions were finished. All that was left was for us to take stance before declaring the start of battle.

“——-”

“——-”

Hah.

Looks like we were both thinking of the same thing.

Just by matching our gazes, I felt as if our thoughts overlapped as well.

Hisaki Masaki. The girl who wished for a sword that could [Cut through even fate] from the Goddess Astraera.

In terms of attack power, she isn’t behind even the Brave who has the divine protection of both the Goddess and the Spirit God. Against the magic sword user, and without Ermenhilde, even 10 of me can’t win probably.

While thinking of that, I lowered my waist. Just like Masaki-chan took stance for her quick sword draw, I also took a stance while holding my sword with both hands and almost hiding it near the left side of my waist. Depending on your view, it might look like we had the same stance. The only difference was that her sword was still in the sheathe and mine wasn’t.

Just like that, we waited for a few moments for the signal to start.

The cold win caressed my cheeks and the loud cheers felt very far away. As if there was some barrier around me and the only things inside it were me and Masaki-chan.

The world became slow and my concentration reached its peak and it felt like I could even see the wind itself. Forgetting how to even blink, I focused on the opponent in front of me. My opponent was the same as me as nothing except me reflected in her eyes. Right now, she’s probably isn’t thinking of Souichi even faintly.

I took a breath, a deep, long, and uniform breath. We both did. Mine and Masaki-chan’s consciousness, thoughts and even breathing were matched. The little space for us to fight, the arena, felt like it was infinitely large and as if only we two were the only beings alive in this world.

The next instant. A slightly stronger wind blew. Her long, black hair covered her vision as it swayed in the air.

At the same time, the signal to start came.

Without wasting even a second, I leaped in closing the distance between us. Nobody will all this unfair, not even she herself. By the time her eyes, that had been covered by her hair for only an instant, met with my eyes, I had already taken 2 big steps towards her.

Without feeling even a bit surprised at my actions, Masaki-chan’s waist lowered even further.

And she drew her sword.

The moment I realized that, I stepped in right in front of her. At the same time as I swung my longsword, her Katana was drawn out and rushed towards my neck even faster than my sword. There was no sense of hesitation or holding back in her attack.

Her skill was flawless as her katana came from her sheathe, towards my neck in the least amount of time and distance possible. The slash was so perfect that it looked like a straight line.

But that’s why, it was too easy to predict.

As I aimed my longsword towards directly the trajectory of her katana, the perfect slash was instantly shaken.

Because it was so perfectly executed, her movements were easy to predict. If I knew what she’d aim for, if I could tell the path of her katana, there were countless steps I could take to fend against it.

As I deflected the katana’s trajectory by scooping it away with my sword, a loud metallic sound resounded.

“tch.”(masaki)

“Wa—–”

I was hoping to either break her katana or at least bend it with my attack but Masaki-chan’s reaction was even faster.

As expected of a person who has the divine protection of the Goddess. Her reaction speed was multiple times faster than even O’brien-san. At the same time as my longsword was diverting her attack, she quickly changed the trajectory of her katana to reduce the burden taken from my attack.

Katana and Sword.

The biggest difference between those two is the sharpness, and endurance I believe. A katana swung by a swordswoman like Masaki-chan can cut through even steel but katana’s have low endurance. If not for a magic sword made through the power of the Goddess, I doubt they can be used for long in a battlefield.

In contrast, a normal sword was more used to chop/hack down the opponent rather than slice/cut through. But its endurance far surpassed that of a katana. Because they’re made solely with use on the battlefield in mind, I guess it should be obvious.

If I had a way to win against Masaki-chan, it would be to break her katana. That’s the only way.

In terms of physical ability, reaction speed, in basically everything, I am below her so that’s the only choice I have. That was, to destroy her katana in the very first clash of our weapons when she’d be sure to clash swords properly with me.

But, in ended in failure.

I tried to quickly open up the distance between us but, she won’t let me. As I stepped backwards, she began to speedily step in towards me. Her drawn katana was once more in the sheathe before I even knew it and she rushed at me head front with her waist more lowered than even mine who had already drawn the sword.

By lowering her body so much, it made it difficult for me to attack her. Even if I try to attack, it would be to difficult for me to aim at her properly. Even if I swung my sword, I wouldn’t be able to bring out enough power behind my swing.

With that kind of weak swing, her katana would split me instead.

“fuuh!!”

She drew her katana again. I dodged her swift slash not by jumping back but by leaping to the left.

Since I jumped away quickly without trying to maintain my form, I was able to avoid her attack with just some of my upper skin of my right arm getting cut but, I ended up rolling on the arena instead.

It looked pretty pathetic, but I quickly stood up and prepared my sword.

Once more, she rushed in towards me with almost enough power to break the stone floor, but this time to match her, I also plunged in towards her centre.

Before, I feinted that I was going to jump back first before changing my direction. But that won’t work again. At least not in this fight.

Then, rather than stop the blade, I stepped in to block her attack directly from her grip which couldn’t cut me no matter what. But it seems my movement was seen through as she didn’t sheathe her katana this time. Rather than using her draw technique the third time, she made a normal slash. But the slash she made was probably even sharper than Souichi’s——-

“Guh——!?!”

I quickly held up my longsword as a shield but it cut through like it was butter. What the hell is that katana even made of? That sharpness is unreal!

While chasing that slash with my eyes, I put strength in my legs.

A slash isn’t the only way a katana can cut. After a swing, one could pull the katana to cut once more.

After cutting my long sword, she pulled her sword. That was just a very slight movement but she must do that action to cut my body as well.

That instant. In the time of a single blink, where the katana was about to touch my waist—–I matched my movements with her and, with my left leg as the centre, I rotated my body. My clothes were cut, and a slight, shallow cut was made on my flank/side. While definitely feeling the sharp pain, I knew that my body was still in one piece.

As I held down my side with my right hand, a wet feeling came to me. A slight amount of blood was sticking to my hand but, I’m still alive——I can still fight.

As I quickly turned my gaze to look towards Masaki-chan who I had lost sight of due to rotating away my body, but she was just standing there looking at me with surprised face. I guess, she really didn’t expect me to dodge her attack with that kind of manoeuvre.

“—–Ha.”

I wonder was it me or Masaki-chan who laughed.

If it was me, it must be a stiff, and miserable face.

The long sword had been cut apart and had become the size of a short sword. But, because her katana was incredibly sharp, my sword wasn’t broken and could still be used as a weapon.

While looking at Masaki-chan who stopped due to surprise, I lowered my waist and rushed in towards her. This time, I held the sword near my waist as I charged towards her in the shortest distance.

I feel, that me and Masaki-chan are the same.

Souichi and Masaki-chan both don’t want to lose to each other as [swordsmen/women] but their sword and katana were different.

But in me and Masaki-chan’s case——It’s the same. There was literally no difference.

How safely, without making the slightest waste, in the easiest way possible—-can I cut the enemy, can I kill them. That’s what our lifeline is, and you could say, also the core, spine of our fighting style.

As her unsheathed katana aimed for my neck, I aimed for her heart at the same time.

Her slash, and my stab. If you were to ask what’s faster, it would always be the stab.

That is—–only considering the full length of the longsword.

 

“guh……unu—–”

“…….haah.”

The sharp edge of the katana was touching my neck. That sensation alone felt like it could take away 10 years from my lifespan.

In comparison, my sword——had not reached Masaki-chan’s heart. The part of the sword that had been cut away by the katana had made all the difference.

And inside my head, Utano-san’s [voice] resounded.

It was my loss.

“uuuuu.”

“eh, umm.”(renji)

As Masaki-chan glared at me while moaning and teary eyes, I was perplexed.

For the time being, that face is super scary so I’d be happy if you could take the katana away from my neck though. If she were to pull her katana right now, my carotid artery would pop, killing me.

“This..”(masaki)

“This?”

“This, isn’t ..!”

Well, honestly speaking, when we went for the kill, even I thought that I’d win.

And, Masaki-chan, who had become sure of her victory at that had stopped her movement already. That was the difference.

In the battlefield, it would be a deadly opening. But this was a duel not the battlefield. As a result, Masaki-chan was the winner and I was the loser. That fact cannot be debated.

But, it seems that to Masaki-chan, this isn’t acceptable/satisfactory.

If my weapon was Ermenhilde instead, it would have never been cut nor would it have broken. Then maybe the result would have been the opposite.

………but then, from the start, she would have come at her full strength to cut me as well. In fact that one would be even difficult for me to beat.

“Even though I was hoping to beat you up today and release my anger for making us all worry by disappearing for a whole year!!”

“…………….”

Since she was making a truly regretful expression, she really must be speaking truthfully.

Yeah. Oniichan’s happy that you’ve grown up to be so honest.

“Ummm.”

“Guh. Don’t think that you’ve won here!!”(masaki)

How should I say this…….amazing.

She sounds exactly like those villains from those tokusatsu series. (T/N: tokusatsu= super sentai, kamen rider etc.)

I looked at her back as Masaki-chan sheathed her katana and walked away fuming. What is this……..am I at fault here? No, well I am in a way.

I understand that Masaki-chan was trying to resolve my actions for the past one year in her own way. In fact, now I look totally like villain instead. At least, from the point of view of my comrades.

That said, if I had gone easy on her, it would have made her even more pissed.

“Haah. She must be in her difficult age right now, seriously.”(renji)

For the time being, I decided to put it as that. It seems our fight really roused the crowd as the cheers were even louder than before. I’m not joking, I feel like my ears will go crazy.

“Well, I’ll leave the girl to her lover to deal with.”

If I were to apologise, it’d only make her angrier as well so I decided to put it away all towards Souichi who she’ll have to fight in the finals as I walked down the arena.

At least, with this my tournament has finally ended but…….what a bad taste it leaves. Well, no matter how much Masaki-chan went easy on me, I still didn’t think I’d get this far.

While thinking of that, I looked at my hand as I opened and closed it. It was the same as always.

“I wonder if I have gotten stronger even a bit.”

Well, no matter how strong I get physically, if my mental strength doesn’t match up with it, it’s useless.

My side gave a sharp pain. It’s the wound Masaki-chan gave me. It seems the blood loss hasn’t stopped yet.

Seriously, I wish she’d gone a bit more easier on me.

While looking at my hand stained with blood, I smiled bitterly. I put up a good fight to Masaki-chan but seeing how I got hurt, I can’t really feel happy.

I’m sure, once more……….I’ll make all sorts of people worry for me.

“Optimistically speaking, it was kind of draw eh? Haah……..what use is it growing stronger now anyways.”

But, oh well.

My life hasn’t ended yet.

Maybe one day I’ll have to protect someone once again, then I need to get stronger.

Grasping my stained right hand tightly, feeling a bit lighter, I walked away.

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