Part 18: The One Behind the Scenes
(Literal Translation of title: The stagehand behind the black curtain)
Translator’s notes: Before you read this chapter, I’d like to warn you that the author uses some kendo terms which I explained(somewhat) in the footnotes. I’ve numbered my footnotes this time because it could get a bit confusing. I have left some of the Japanese text because I’m still cleaning up this draft and it makes it easier to check if the tl is correct. It’s quite an exciting chapter! I have started reading the next chapter. Hopefully I can churn out a new one soon.
Hiyuki and Otomaru, even though there was a distance of approximately 10 feet between the two of them, both of them shortened the distance between them in an instant.
Without moving their body, both of them held their weapons, one side the sword and the other, Mikazuki scimitars- usually, there is a tense feeling as if a balloon is expanding to its limits -but, there was no such feeling of tension at all.
The reason is that Hiyuki held the Sinner of Rose [Gilles de Rais] in a basic kendo posture, hasso (*1.), relaxed.
Otomaru wields the two Mitsurugi scimitar and held it in the chuudan stance(2), showing his scorn and the fact that he’s got the upperhand.
“For your information, thanks to that person my status is almost the same as the current you. The conditions are fair, that is to say, your real strength is inferior and won’t stand a chance against me.
Hearing the unexpected provocation from Otomaru, Hiyuki confirmed her opponent’s status with a doubtful look, then she opened her eyes wider.
Just like his words, Otomaru’s current status was boosted by pet fusion, almost similar to her status after fusing with the Divine Beast Nine-Tailed Fox Utsuho. (Her MP was superior but her opponent’s HP is more than hers.) Furthermore, Hiyuki was surprised by the text [Fusion: The God Crusher Fenrir].
”The God Crusher Fenrir?! Wasn’t that an Event Boss that can’t be tamed?!”
No, it’s possibly an underhanded trick that’s temporary, if it was normal- only the inhabitants of Imperial Crimson knows the way to exceed the limits of the base values – As the owner, it’s unlikely for him to be able to have a status that deviates from a Player’s level.
Actually, the pets that were summoned from the Movable Fortress didn’t have this sort of status values. In that case, the reason for the abnormality of the status is-
”You said ‘Anokata(3)’. Could it be related to that person Lubbock mentioned earlier, the ‘God of This World’?”
“That’s right. Anokata (Polite: he/she) is a God! The beginning of everything.”
“I would like you to share more details about that.”
“Hah! If you were to defeat me I’ll talk about it. Well, such a thing will never happen even if the heavens and earth were toppled though!”
With a mocking laughter, Otomaru kicked the ground. At the same time, Hiyuki moved forward.
GAKin! At the point where the blades intersect, sparks flew.
If it’s about who will tend to come out ahead in a clash between our strengths, as expected Otomaru excels with his body weight and strength.
Otomaru chased after Hiyuki who flew from the attack, drawing a spiral with his twin blades – using the Blade skill [Kamaitachi/Razor Wind] , while also adding the lighting element on the blade.
The sword’s pressure formed a tornado, swooping towards the floating body of Hiyuki.
Hiyuki’s skirt fluttered, her small body hovered in the air. And then, sparks that raised its head like snakes drew closer from four directions.
Together with a scream, Hiyuki rotated in the air while she brandished Gilles De Rais to split the tornado and the lighting attack into two with a single cut.
Before Hiyuki could set her foot on the ground after she was released from restriction, Otomaru rushed in like a cannon that’s been shot from the catapult.
Swordsman type basic skill[slash].
Against the release of vigorous direct attacks, Hiyuki intercepted with a horizontal sword swipe.
In addition to the impact on landing, Hiyuki accelerated every muscle in the body from stillness in a sudden – it was a Kei(6) move which had been learnt from the Beast King, because of Hiyuki’s originally explosive power, it transformed into a spiraling power.
Under her feet, the ground erupted.
The sword and scimitar clashed for the second time.
But, this time the sword did not lose in terms of power, and the conclusion came with a speed that far exceeds the opponent.
Because of the unforeseen result, Otomaru had a flustered expression.
Otomaru who had the intention to activate his skill again to cover up his blunder, blocked his opponent’s attack with his stance, but was kicked by Hiyuki till he flew.
Unable to withstand the force of the kick, in a panic he repositioned at a distant to bear his nausea.
Contrary to his expectations, Hiyuki placed the Gilles De Rais on her shoulder, saying “U~n” as she thought.
「……やっぱり同じだねぇ」“…As I thought it’s the same.”
”Hn? What is?”
“Your attack pattern. It’s the same as Animaru-san’s. Basically, it’s the continuous use of skills, with normal attacks in between. At times when skills can’t be used you use your strength to attack, depending on whether you can make it.”
“So what! If I took my time in killing the opponent, their HP wouldn’t decrease!”
Hearing that, she tilted her head.
“That’s if we’re in a game where pain does nothing, isn’t it? If this was the real world I don’t think such logic would apply. Hitting the tender spots will cause pain, if your field of vision is blocked you’d go mad from the sense of distance. Actually, that was why Animaru-san was defeated. Well, if the opponent were to continuously use skill, causing me to lose, it would be me suffering because of my own mistakes, for you that don’t even know how to use the basics, I think you failed at an early grade.”
”Stop speaking such crap. What can a loser without any strength come up with? As long as there is a difference in absolute strength, such things are irrelevant.”
“Is that so? Then from this point onwards, I’ll defeat you without the use of skills. Shall we decide it based on a showdown?”
”Do it if you can, you bluffing bastard!”
Along with a roar, Otomaru’s two scimitars were swung in all directions – continuously slicing with the scimitar skill, Hiyuki retreated while dodging, sidestepping and warding it off.
「はン！ 逃げるだけが!? この男女！」”Ha! Only know how to run! This girly boy! (T/n: or androgynous person, written as Womanman)”
He bared his fangs and pelted her with jeers. Hiyuki didn’t get particularly agitated. She aimed for the gap in between the skills when the body is still stiff. Otomaru dug his heels just before the skill ends.
At that, Hiyuki thrust like a falling star, swooping down on him.
When he was going to dodge Hiyuki’s sword that was aimed towards his throat at the shortest distance, the stiffness became a fatal delay. From that point onwards, dodging it was impossible.
To deal with that strike right away, Otomaru repelled the sword immediately, using the change in the trajectory of the Mikazuki scimitar in his right hand.
Katana Secret Skill・Break.
It’s a skill which wards or destroys the opponent’s weapon when your weapon clashes with your opponent’s.
In exchange, the user’s weapon will also be applied an appropriate burden.
However, there’s nobody in the server that doesn’t know the weapon Hiyuki possessed. The Gilles De Rais could even be called a divine sword, being almost the highest grade long sword that was miraculously succeeded in being reinforced 10 times. When that was compared with the Mikazuki scimitar, even if it was also a Level 99 weapon, the standard was lower.
As a result, the Mikazuki scimitar broke into fragments with a clear metallic sound, leaving the flawless Gilles De Rais. However, due to the effect of the skill, the sword slipped out of Hiyuki’s hands, falling and rolling behind Otomaru.
Probably as a reflex, Hiyuki’s left arm extended towards the Gilles De Rais. However, it wasn’t the end. Otomaru had two scimitars, in short, now he still has a Mikazuki scimitar in his left hand.
Otomaru who was going to confirm his victory, the sides of mouth curved upwards, setting his eyes on Hiyuki’s white collarbone, he waved his left hand.
Hiyuki who noticed her messed-up posture and immediately straightened herself, extending both of her hands towards the approaching sword.
Pan! With a sound like a clap, Otomaru’s blade was stopped.
剣聖技『白刃取り』。Saint Sword Skill, Shirahadori (Stopping the Sword with bare hands).
Earlier it was used by Animaru, and it was the reason Hiyuki lost.
“-Bastard, you said you wouldn’t use any skill!?”
Hiyuki smiled at Otomaru’s protest. “Un, sorry. That. Was. A. Lie. – or rather, don’t sweat the small stuff.”
At that position, he twisted the blade. And at the same moment, in front of Otomaru eyes, Hiyuki’s equipment on her left hand [Iron Rose: Eiserne Jungfrau(T/N: Iron Maiden) ]’s the ivy on the surface unraveled and is visibly stretching towards his own back.
Surprised, Otomaru turned his head to the back. And then, entwined with the Ivy, Gilles De Rais flew towards him and Otomaru was pierced before he could dodge.
As Otomaru was shaky from coughing up blood, Hiyuki easily confiscated the Mikazuki scimitar from his hands.
I extended my left hand toward Gilles de Rais which flew earlier to display a gap in my defense, which helps me identify Otomaru’s attack pattern. Not only that, I was secretly releasing the Steel Roses Iron Maiden’s ivy, entangling it with my hands. This enables the sword to be pulled towards me, killing two birds with one stone.
. “As I thought, you don’t know the basics and how to use them.”
Hiyuki pressed the Mikazuki scimitar she snatched earlier against Otomaru’s nape and earnestly stated her thoughts.
“It seems like the winner has been decided over there.”
From a distance, I returned my gaze towards the end of the Mobile Fortress <Mukade> that’s ablaze. Once again, I plunged the Mikazuki scimitar, causing Otomaru to make sounds filled with anguish.
Even though it has yet to reach the red zone of the HP bar or the yellow zone, due to a large amount of blood lose it seems like he has lost the will to fight.
That is why the feeling of game and reality differs…
“Then, the fight is over… it’s my victory(8). As such, it is time for you to fulfill your promise of talking about the truth behind ‘anokata(that person)’”
Otomaru answered my question with a glare filled with hatred.
“Who would… tell… someone like you… a coward…”
Well, it’s certainly a response I expected to hear from him.
Rather, calling me a coward when… He’s the one who brought more than a thousand monsters, ensuring that I couldn’t receive reinforcements by sending us into this isolated Duel Space, also to fuse with an untamable monster…I really don’t want to bring up who is the coward here.
Even if I were to say so it’s probably futile, isn’t it? This fellow’s moves, anything that doesn’t go according to his plan, the cause is always his opponent.
”Well, if you say don’t want to say it, I’ll do my best to make you want to say it.”
While saying that, I drew out Gilles De Rais, switching to the Mikazuki scimitar and stabbed him. As I was doing that, I lightly twisted the blade.
Yup, at this point it’s time to let the HP bar reach yellow.
But, seen in this way, even though our HP increase, we are still human with flesh. If we are hit, we will weaken. I’ll also have to be alert to it.
To induce pain with repeated attacks, I pushed it into Otomaru’s right feet.
“It’s bad of me, but I’ll be taking back Gilles De Rais. Don’t mind me, I just didn’t want to dirty it with your blood. In exchange, I’ll return you the Mikazuki scimitars. Afterward-”
I quickly opened my space inventory and prepared five more swords.
The swords that appeared in the air, with their pointed end facing down, stood around me.
Unfortunately I am not knowledgeable about tortures and such. For now, I’ll cut you up until you start talking, I’ll even do it like how Real Kuro* did (7.リアル黒○) – aah, even if you died I can bring you back to life and continue, so don’t worry.”
痛みも忘れて目を剥く音丸に、有無を言わせず1本目の剣を突き立てる。Towards Otomaru who opened his eyes wide as he forgot the pain, she wordlessly stabbed with the first sword.
“As expected from a pet union with The God Crusher Fenrir. Your HP hasn’t dropped to red yet.”
Feeling touched, I brought out the second sword.
”Speaking of which, when is this Duel Space going to be released? As I thought there are no other ways than killing my opponent huh?”
“Stop! I lose! I admit my loss. I’ll tell you anything!”
In the instant I heard Otomaru’s “I give up”, the Duel Space opened and that unique pressure disappeared.
“I see, it’s this sort of structure.”
As long as the loser admitted their loss, the Duel Space ends.
If that was the case it would have been better if I said “I lose.” earlier. The dual space would’ve collapsed, then I can call Tengai and beat the hell out of Otomaru.
いまさらだけどそう思いつつ、ボクは音丸に2本目の剣を向けた。But since it’s too late now, I pointed the second sword at Otomaru.
“So, what is the true form of the mastermind?”
“That- that is…”
Behaving in a strange manner, Otomaru was going to say something, at that moment –
”Princess, please be careful!”
The sound of Utsuho’s warning surprised her and caused her to move backward with a leap, at the same time a throwing dagger abruptly stabbed Otomaru’s throat.
However, for that degree of attack, Otomaru who is currently in a pet union with [The God Crusher] Fenrir, in terms of damage %, is yet to be a problem. From the looks of it, it’s a bit of decrease in HP, perhaps entering the critical red zone, but then…
Instantly, Otomaru released a scream that sounded like a deathly cry of agony as he tore his chest. His state couldn’t be compared to how he was earlier.
“This cannot do. It seems like The God Crusher Fenrir is about to run wild. Please step away, princess.”
In the instant Utsuho said it, Otomaru shouted while The God Crusher Fenrir appeared from his chest, wrapping him in flames, both of them burnt to a crisp.
While I was dumbfounded when it left a bowl-like shape on the ground due to the remaining high temperature, I heard the disgusted voice of unfamiliar people behind my back.
“It’s hopeless. Going berserk while the HP is red, there’s still room for improvement.”
In a panic, I turned while throwing away the sword I held and prepared the Gilles de Rais. Within my vision, someone that’s unlikely to appear leaped in.
From the looks of it, it was an 18-year-old youth. Thin eyes and short, black haired, carrying a full backpack, under a loose coat is an apron, no matter how you see it, it was a man dressed in Merchant style. Showing such an unsuitable appearance at this place, it was an appearance that I was unusually familiar with.
“Kagerou-san?” I asked to confirm, and Kagerou-san seemed to nod with a delighted expression – formerly one of the fellow guild member, with nondescript features and seemed as if he was present yet isn’t there(4). Someone who pursued assassination techniques to the limit, certainly the feared [Unnoticable Peddler], the legendary merchant that has the second name [(滅死彷徨)Selfless Devotion].
“Yes, it has been a while. Ojou-san. That we could meet once again makes me so happy I can shed tears, but now my body is serving another master, and I cannot enjoy lover’s meeting time with my beloved princess.”
Finally, Kagerou gave a forlorn look.
How should I say it, he’s still doing that “Ojou-sama and servant’s secret tender passion” ‘setting’(5) that they used to roleplay at the guild…
”That other master, is that referring to the same master of Otomaru?”
“Beg your pardon, no matter how much ojou-sama wants to know, I can’t tell.”
Fumu, even though his appearance is like this, when he drew a line, he will absolutely keep to it, just as always.
And, something came to mind suddenly, so I tried to ask about it.
“Speaking of which, Kuroe… the onee-san from the rabbitman tribe said that the As-you-like staff(如意棒) was bought from the weapon merchants.”
“Ah. That sturdy onee-san. Certainly, I sold it.”
Fumu, he indirectly confirmed that they’re the both the same person.
“-as of now, for the sake of renewing our friendship, may I hear about various things?”
“My apologies, my master ordered me to hurry and return. Really, I shall have to take my leave, ojou-san.”
After the apology was given sincerely, Kagerou’s figure blended with the background, slowly fading away.
This is his specialty, [Perfect Concealment].
Without pause, his appearance was completely erased.
While watching Mikoto and the rest in high spirits as I returned, I had the feeling like I almost grasped something and yet let it slip away. I sighed.
(Original Author’s Notes)
For now, a new character(Hiyuki’s ex?) is introduced.
黒子の設定について、某有名作品とモロかぶりとわかりましたので、職業・風体・名前を変更しました。About the mastermind setting, I copied it from a certain famous work, it will be noticed so the occupation, appearance, and name was changed.
Nattou’s Footnote Where Everything Researched is Explained in an Unnecessarily Long-Winded Way:
- 八相（はっそう）Some sort of posture in kendo. When you pose like this the hand seems to form a /丶shape, which is (probably) why it’s called the 八相(hassou). Read more at wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hass%C5%8D-no-kamae
- 中段（ちゅうだん）The most basic posture in kendo that lets you have a balanced attack and defense. See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C5%ABdan-no-kamae
- Anokata is a polite way to refer to he or she. Since I don’t know the gender and I don’t have a perfect way to translate this term into english, I think I best leave it in hiragana. For example of this word being left as it is, see Detective Conan’s ‘anokata’, the boss of the black organization which is yet to be revealed.
- There but not there, like, hiding in plain sight. Assassin’s Creed style?
- The setting for a narrative or fictional or dramatic account.
- Kei* – a power/technique mentioned in earlier chapters.
- I do not know who Kuro* is, but the author censored the last syllable probably due to copyright reasons. It’s probably a reference to a character from a different series that tortures people. If you do know, please share it in the comments so I can update this?The author wrote it as [リアル黒○] English: Real Black O? Real Kuro**? =w=??
- Mado-senpai mentioned this phrase here can also be read like this. Alternate translation: [雌雄も決したわけだし…まあ、いちおういまは私も女なわけなんだから、雌で私の勝ちだねぇThen, the fight between man and woman is over…Well, more or less, I am a woman now, so it’s my victory as a woman.] Since it is confusing I decided to translate it much more literally and leave the alternate interpretation in the footnotes. The kanji for fight is written as male and female, but it could be interpreted as showdown as well. It was a little confusing for me when I first saw the sentence, I don’t want you all to join in with the confusing sentence interpretation as well.
If you haven’t noticed, the footnotes are actually not in a proper order lol.