Ryuu Kusari no Ori -Kokoro no Uchi no “Kokoro”-

Cadet

Chapter 7.25

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Chapter 7.25

The fight between Nozomu and Zonne was slowly but surely starting to shift towards Nozomu.

Zonne was concerned about the upper limit of his current strength because of his old man's body. On the other hand, Tiamat was trying to increase her power without worrying about Nozomu's body.

Now that they were competing in close combat techniques against each other, the difference was purely based on the total amount of power the user had exerted.

"Mmm!"

The slash shot by Nozomu finally shattered Zonne's staff of light.

With his technique destroyed, Zonne leaped backward, leaving the scattered elements behind.

In addition, he raised his right hand and deployed multiple techniques. He created a huge ball of light as huge as his body and immediately exploded it.

The shockwaves generated at the same time were concentrated in one direction. The shockwave was released toward Nozomu and attempted to blow him away.

The released shockwave was released in the spur of the moment, but it was powerful enough to match Tima's offensive magic.

Moreover, the distance between him and Nozomu was only a few meters. It was not a distance from which Nozomu could react at all. Naturally, it was also impossible to evade.

Furthermore, Zonne created an arrow of light in his left hand at the same time as the explosion and shot it soundlessly while hiding in the shadow of the exploding ball of light.

The two-stage attack consisted of a surface attack and a stealth attack.

To begin with, it took more than just reflexes to win a high-speed battle. It also required a deep intelligence to antic.i.p.ate the opponent's movements and a high level of thinking ability to make instantaneous judgments.

Those who were consumed by anger often suffer defeat due to a lack of this thinking ability and intelligence. In that sense, the current Nozomu, who was consumed by his own anger, had almost no thinking ability.

"" Oooooooo! ""

However, such common sense didn't apply to this young man.

As soon as Zonne raised his hand, he swung the blade of chaos in his hand, as if he had predicted his action.

A very thin blade of Qi ran along the trajectory of the blade.

The [Phantom] released from the blade sliced the supposedly invisible shockwave in half, and furthermore, cutting in half the arrow of light that was approaching from behind it.

"There are still more!"

However, Zonne had also predicted it to that extent.

Suddenly, the ground under Nozomu's feet emitted a radiance, and countless thorns of light protruded from it.

Multiple attacks that combined surface and stealth attacks. The ball of light and arrow of light released earlier were all bluffs.

In addition, these thorns of light were just a way to buy time.

After realizing that the thorns of light would not be enough to finish Nozomu off, Zonne again constructed a multiple magic circle in an attempt to launch a powerful counterattack. He began pouring in as many elements as he could.

No matter how long it took Nozomu to slash the thorns of light to protect himself, it would take time, even if it was less than half a second. That little time was enough for Zonne. However…….

"What the h.e.l.l?"

Nozomu went beyond Zonne's expectations. He stepped forward despite one of the thorns of light that was about to thrust up toward him.

With a tearing sound, the thorn pierced through Nozomu's foot.

No, it was only Nozomu's shoe that was pierced.

Nozomu supported his own body by pinching the thorn with his thumb and forefinger, then leaped toward Zonne.

Nozomu, too, was familiar with the old man's abnormality. If he gave him even a moment's time, he would have suffered a painful counterattack, which was why he took such an action.

Unable to buy even the slightest amount of time, Zonne's eyes widened.

His thoughts must have been racing, but his actions were so calm.

Nozomu leaped and caught Zonne in his blade range, then raised his katana and swung it down toward the old man's head.

"Kuh~! Will I make it in time !?"

His weapon was shattered, and he was unable to deploy his technique in time.

Zonne quickly concentrated as many elements as he could gather into the palm of his hand, and attempted to block the blade.

Zonne, who was now in human form, didn't have strong scales.

If he were unable to block it, the blade would easily reap the old man's life.

However, suddenly, a powerful storm hit the two of them from the side.

A storm of wind fangs blew away the white elements that were scattered in the aftermath of the battle and ran along while gouging the ground.

Zonne, whose eyes widened at the sudden storm, hurriedly deployed a barrier again, and Nozomu also quickly drew a circle with his blade of chaos to create a film of Qi in front of him.

Then, the storm that had attacked them swallowed the two of them.

"Hi ~yaaaaaaa! Ebu~ !?"

"~ !?"

The old man was blown away while letting out a strange scream, and Nozomu also got hit in mid-air, struggling to regain his position.

Nozomu managed to use the weight of his katana to get into a good position to land on the ground, but Zonne ended up kissing the ground head first.

"Oh, old man. That was a close one!"

"That's true. Iyaa~ I'm so glad I got there in time~."

Two men came out in front of Zonne with a shameless tone of voice. Mars, who carried a greatsword on his shoulder, and Feo, who played with a talisman with his fingertips.

The remnants of the [Dust Break of the Hungry Beast] that had just attacked Nozomu and Zonne were still clinging to Mars's greatsword, showing clearly who had unleashed the storm earlier.

"Bulls.h.i.t! You were going to blow me away from the beginning!"

Zonne pulled his face out of the ground with a popping sound and began to complain while turning his face red.

"Ehhh~. You're just being paranoid~."

"I know, right~? I was just returning the favor since you saved me before~."

On the other hand, Mars and Feo looked at each other with disappointed expressions, but they couldn't hide their smirks.

Or rather, they didn't seem to have any intention of hiding it from the beginning. They were probably trying to get back at Zonne for blowing them away earlier.

Actually, magic arrows and single-shot magic were not effective enough to break into the battle between Nozomu and Zonne, who were slashing at each other at high speed, so a little more aggressive measures were necessary.

"What a terrible thing to do to your own benefactor."

Zonne kneeled on the ground with tears in his eyes. It was indeed an emergency, and they blew away the person who was helping them before, even so, they didn't really feel sorry for him.

"Good work, old man. Please step back. We will take care of the rest."

Irisdina, who had just arrived, gently spoke to Zonne, who looked devastated.

The beautiful girl's words of encouragement made Zonne, who was covered in dirt, smile.

"Y-, young lady. Will you comfort this poor old man in your soft bosom?"

Zonne slithered up to Irisdina's feet with his hands raised like an infant begging for a cuddle.

Combined with his dirt-covered, grinning, wrinkled face, it's the most disgusting thing one can imagine.

"Ha~a ... Mars-kun, you may continue."

"Get the h.e.l.l out of here, you pervy dragon."

Irisdina sighed in disgust, grabbed Zonne by the collar roughly with both hands, and threw him toward Mars. Mars caught him and swung him with a big swing, gaining momentum as he did so. He threw him further backward with all his might.

Catch and throw.

With Mars' physical ability drastically increased by the magic and Qi combination technique, Zonne's body was once again thrown into the air with great momentum.

"Fuooo! Adaw~!"

The promised face landing.

Zonne had his face buried in the ground again, and Somia called out to him fearfully.

"Umm. Old man, are you all right?

"Somia, you needn't worry about him. He is a dragon. He is not the kind of being who would die from something like this."

"I can't say anything too terrible because my life is being saved, but your behavior makes me a little less sympathetic..."

"U-, umm..."

Somia's cheeks pouted at her sister's poor treatment of the old man who had helped heal her inferiority complex, and at Lisa's unsympathetic words.

Zonne lifted his face, which was more covered in dirt than before, and raised his voice in protest.

"I-, I'm just like a normal human in this form tho."

"How can someone who can go toe to toe with Nozomu in that state be categorized as a "normal human being"?"

"In the first place, you're a dragon, not a human being."

Mars and Mimuru cut Zonne's modest protests to pieces. There was no need to prove it.

It was a fact that the strength and maximum output of the body were the same as that of a human being, but the total amount of power contained within was clearly inhuman, so they were not wrong.

"In fact, even Nozomu-kun is ..."

"" Oooooooo! ""

Along with a scream, the surrounding smoke was blown away and Nozomu's figure appeared.

He was still covered in wounds and bleeding from all over his body, but it was only from self-inflicted wounds. Other than that, he didn't appear to have suffered any other serious injuries.

"See. Even Mars-kun's magic and Qi combination technique didn't do much damage, so it's pointless to be so careful."

Finally, Tom said so while getting into his position.

The fact that Tima was right next to him and wasn't actively denying him spoke eloquently about her thoughts.

"I'm starting to feel a little sorry for the little boy..."

The old man hung his head with a melancholy atmosphere on his back and tears streaming down his cheeks.

And, by the way, Lisa, a former lover who was now recognized as an outsider by Nozomu's friends, pulled her face.

"Now, enough joking, it's time to get down to business."

Joking time was over, and Mars held up his greatsword, bracing himself for the battle.

Next to him, Irisdina with her rapier and Lisa with her magic power overflowing.

"Alright. As we discussed, Mars-kun and I will support the front line. Lisa-kun, you'll..."

"I'll cover for you guys fighting on the front line. I'll coordinate with you, so you can move as you please."

"Is it going to be okay? I mean, can you really keep up with us? We don't want to get shot in the back by accident."

"I may look like this, but I'm one of the best in my cla.s.s when it comes to practical skills. I'm more dexterous than you are."

Mars was skeptical of Lisa's words, but in the current situation, where even the cat was needed, he couldn't be picky.

Meanwhile, Shīna, who had once stepped back, presented Mikael in her hand to Zonne.

"Zonne-dono, please."

"Hm? Are you sure?"

"Yes, our words are not going to reach his heart. So, we will show him by our actions."

Shīna simply said so, held a dagger she borrowed from Mimuru, grabbed a dozen or so strands of her own hair, and cut them off in one fell swoop.

Her long, l.u.s.trous azure hair was pulled by gravity and spread out over her hands.

"Do you need my help?"

"No, after we subdue Nozomu-kun, I would like you to revive him. I know there is little chance of failure since I saw you saved Lisa-san."

"I'd rather nothing bad happen. Hurry up, just back the h.e.l.l off!"

Mars waved his hand, urging Zonne to step back.

"Hmm, if you say so, I'll leave it to you ... Good luck."

Zonne nodded and stepped away from Irisdina and the others with Mikael in his hand.

"Lisa-kun, are you ready?"

"Yeah, I know what I have to do."

"Here he comes!"

"" Ooooooo! ""

The next moment, with explosive acceleration, Nozomu moved toward Irisdina and the others.

"Now, let's continue where we left off!"

It was Mars who was the first to move toward Nozomu.

He used his physical strength, which had been drastically increased by the magic and Qi combination technique, to his advantage and swung his greatsword down at Nozomu, who was rushing toward him.

"" ~! ""

Naturally, there was no way that such a large slash would work on Nozomu. With a gliding movement, Nozomu deflected himself from the trajectory of the greatsword and tried to launch a counterattack as the blade pa.s.sed by his side.

"Oraaa!"

Mars also knew that such a monotonous attack would not work on Nozomu.

He then forcibly changed the trajectory of the greatsword he swung down with his drastically increased physical ability and connected it with a cleaving attack.

Nozomu tried to attack Mars' flank as he run past him, and Mars tried to blow Nozomu away. The two crossed blades collided with a high-pitched sound.

At the same time, a powerful impact struck both of them.

"Guu ...!"

Mars put strength into both of his legs, desperately trying to regain his collapsing posture. Nozomu in front of him was already ready for his next attack.

Nozomu adjusted the direction of his body, which was about to flow forward due to the momentum, with an exquisite sense of balance. While rotating his body, he dexterously released a slash and conversely gained momentum.

As always, his technique was astounding.

"b.a.s.t.a.r.d!"

Mars, trying not to be outdone, launched a counterattack with his greatsword and intercepted Nozomu's slash.

"Deeee~i!"

"" Oooooooo! ""

With a yell, Mars and Nozomu wielded their weapons.

Each time they made one or two slashes, high-pitched clashing sounds resounded in the gray forest, and bursts of Qi and magic scattered around them in shock.

In such a situation, it was still Nozomu who pushed forward. Unlike when they fought earlier, Nozomu's blade, which released the power of chaos, instantly chipped away the magic and Qi of Mars that enveloped the greatsword.

"See~i!"

Before Nozomu's katana could cut through Mars' magic and Qi, Irisdina thrust her rapier from the side to thwart him.

Nozomu took a half-step backward and ducked as the rapier thrust into him.

Nozomu, while looking at the rapier pa.s.sing in front of his vision, withdrew his blade and slashed at Irisdina in a vertical slash.

Irisdina quickly pulled her rapier and swung it to follow Nozomu's slash.

Nozomu's katana clashed with Irisdina's rapier.

She endured by clenching her teeth against the blade of Qi that unilaterally eroded her own magic sword and against the intense pressure on both of her arms. Then she slipped while ducking under Nozomu's slash.

"Tee~i!"

Irisdina, who had ducked, released a thrust like a gust of wind.

Nozomu turned his body and repelled Irisdina's lightning-like thrust.

But Irisdina did not stop.

She kept thrusting and pulling her rapier. She repeated these simple movements at a tremendous speed, dozens of times per second.

Between the eyebrows, the solar plexus, the heart, and the lower abdomen. A storm of thrusts, like a shower, was released at every vital point in sight.

The thrusts were so quick that they couldn't be seen by the eyes of an ordinary person. All that could be seen was the afterimage of her arm and the remnants of the flash of light drawn by the tip of the rapier.

"" ~ ! ""

However, Nozomu casually dispelled the rain of thrusts.

The katana wielded softly at the same time powerfully, rattled and clanged with metallic sounds. Along with the resounding metallic sounds, the katana bounced off every drop of the piercing rain.

"Guh~!"

"" Gaaaaa! ""

In return, Nozomu's counterattack was unleashed on Irisdina.

The blade of chaos approached, slicing through the magical light that fluttered in vain. But before the blade could reach her body, three fireb.a.l.l.s rushed toward Nozomu.

"Haa~!"

It was Lisa, who was one step behind Irisdina and the others, who fired the fireb.a.l.l.s.

She was behind Irisdina and Mars, observing their battle and watching for the right moment to support them.

Nozomu quickly turned himself around to see the fireb.a.l.l.s approaching him.

"Fix your stance while you still can!"

"Sorry!"

As if to answer Lisa's call, Irisdina quickly leaped backward about five meters away from Nozomu.

Meanwhile, the blade that was supposed to cut through Irisdina had slashed three oncoming fireb.a.l.l.s with a single strike.

Lisa's role was to provide support for Irisdina and Mars. Since it was already difficult for these two alone to hold Nozomu back, her role was to provide support.

"'I'm not done yet!"

Lisa further focused her attention on her right hand.

With her chant, the converged magic power was converted into flames, forming a sharp spear in the air.

She grabbed the handle of the spear and threw it toward Nozomu with all her might.

"Tee~i!"

Combined with the body strengthening magic that had been applied beforehand, the flame spear achieved a tremendous speed. The spear pierced through the air.

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"" Oooooo! ""

That was why a chill ran down her spine every time she imagined the time Nozomu broke through the front lines.

Whether or not they knew of Mimuru's anxiety, both Tom and Shīna calmly carried out their roles.

"Tom, I'm done here. All we have to do now is your part."

"Yeah. I'll take care of the rest."

Eventually, Shīna's work was finished, and she handed the finished strings to Tom.

Tom put the strings he received aside for the time being and continued to work his part.

"By the way, are you sure that it will work?"

Mimuru, who was driven by anxiety, asked Tom without a second thought.

Tom replied in a matter-of-fact tone as he continued his work.

"Perhaps. According to the old man, if we can make the connection between Nozomu-kun and Tiamat severed, there's a good chance that things could be restored."

"What proof do you have?"

"You remember when Nozomu-kun was misled by Tiamat and pointed his blade at us before, right? Ever since then, something has been stuck in my head..."

Mimuru involuntarily cut off Tom's words as if to confirm.

"I was wondering, what kind of power Nozomu-kun got from defeating Tiamat..."

"Power, you say? Isn't that obvious?"

Mimuru pointed to the rampaging Nozomu, but Tom quietly shook his head.

"That was the power that Tiamat had. What I am referring to is the power that Nozomu himself, who became a Dragon Slayer, obtained."

In the lore of the past, there were many descriptions of Dragon Slayers in the past who had acquired special abilities that didn't seem to belong to humans.

Some scholars believed that some of these abilities were so special that they couldn't be cla.s.sified as either humans or dragons, and were therefore considered "Extraordinary Abilities" unique to the Dragon Slayer race.

It would not be surprising if Nozomu, who took in such a powerful dragon, also possessed some kind of unique ability.

Rather, they had to a.s.sume that he had it.

By the way, Mimuru also possesses the [Beastification] ability. Although it is a special type of ability that does not reduce one's rationality, it is difficult for her to acquire the same physical ability as Mars who use the magic and Qi combination technique.

Naturally, it would be impossible for her to fight against Nozomu.

Besides, she had other reasons why she couldn't face Nozomu...

"I became convinced at the time of Lisa's and Ken's incident. That's when I saw Nozomu plunge into the Abyss Grief's predatory barrier and come back almost unharmed."

[Predatory Barrier]

A barrier that was deployed by Ken, who had a.s.similated with Abyss Grief, to devour Lisa, whom he had yearned for. It was a foreign barrier that violated the spirit of the person it took in, devouring the soul and making it a.s.similate with its host.

The predatory barrier at that time was something that even Jihad deemed as dangerous.

Even though Shīna's contract magic had somewhat helped to disperse some of the pressure on Nozomu, the hastily made contract wouldn't have had much of an effect.

Under normal circ.u.mstances, the possibility of a human being coming back alive with his sanity intact was almost nil.

However, Nozomu, who had destroyed the barrier and returned alive, only looked tired, but there wasn't the slightest sign that his spirits had been eroded.

"Perhaps, Nozomu had already awakened to some kind of ability... Or perhaps his ability is just starting to awaken? Anyway, I'm pretty sure there's some kind of ability that he himself hasn't grasped, let alone us."

Mimuru nodded her head as if she didn't quite understand what Tom was talking about, but Shīna could understand Tom's story quite well. Because she herself had an idea of what was going on.

At that time, when Nozomu was still bedridden, she had desperately tried to contact his spirit, but she had been blocked by countless chains as she pa.s.sed through the path of contract magic and was unable to contact Nozomu's spirit.

If the chains at that time had any connection to his abilities, then...

"Alright, it's done! Shīna, I leave it to you."

Tom handed the bow to Shīna after he finished engraving the formula. The surface of the bow was thoroughly engraved with the technique.

Shīna pulled the bowstring she received to check its condition and nodded.

"Then Shīna, please. Also, Mimuru, please do as usual..."

"Yes, I understand. Don't forget the timing!"

Mimuru quickly turned around and disappeared into the gray forest.

Shīna checked on Mimuru as she disappeared deeper into the forest, then slowly readied her bow and pulled the string.

"Fuh~..."

She exhaled a little, let the magic flow from her entire body, and poured it into the bow she was holding at the ready.

The blueish magic element, which had been shining faintly, gradually began to increase its light, and at the same time, the magic formula engraved on the bow began to shine.

As the light filled the drawn string, the four shining colors of red, green, yellow, and blue magic elements gathered on the bow and began to form a single shining arrow.

"Uu~u……"

As the arrow took shape, Tima's expression became even more pained.

This arrow, like the one that detonated Azel's breath, was a magic arrow created by Tima's mighty magic power.

Moreover, unlike the previous one, everything, including the body of the arrow, was formed by Tima's magic power.

The power of this arrow would be incomparable to the previous one.

However, Tima had been sending her magic power to strengthen Irisdina with all her might. No matter how much magic power she had, she was mentally close to her limit.

Even so, there was no way she could stop here.

Shīna controlled the flow of Tima's magic power while cheering for Tima in her heart.

The body of the arrow was created by Tima's magic power, but it was Shīna's role to give that magic power the form of an arrow.

Moreover, she had to shoot the arrow precisely into Nozomu's heart, who was slashing at high speed.

It was a feat akin to harpooning a fish in the sea while enduring the rough waves on a cutter boat.

Even for Shīna, who was proficient with her bow as an elf, it was an almost impossible feat.

"Haa~ ... nnn ..."

However, there was no hint of hesitation or wavering in her eyes as she held up her bow.

She straightened her back and exhaled slowly.

"Nozomu-kun ..."

She stared at him who was in the corner of her eye.

"I've made up my mind. I will support you..."

Shīna once again confirmed her feelings.

When Lisa had pointed out her feelings before, she had been so embarra.s.sed that she had almost fainted in agony and made a shameful behavior in public, but after that, she felt no particular sense of shame.

Instead, she felt a slight warmth in her chest. And she found herself naturally making up her mind to support him.

Shīna wondered if it was because she was an elf.

Elves are a pure race, for better or worse.

Once they have made up their minds, they never give in, and they are sometimes called a stubborn race.

They are very protective of their people, that's why their feelings for their own kind can put them at odds with other races.

Because of this, the elves were rather closed-minded and rarely interacted with others of their own race until they were forced to leave their homeland due to the Great Invasion.

Ever since they lost their homeland in the Great Invasion, they had been forced to interact with many different races, and nowadays, the chances of seeing elves in other cities had increased.

Nevertheless, humans and elves perceived the pa.s.sage of time differently, and even now it was extremely rare for elves to be attracted to other races.

However, once someone was judged as their relative, they would try to protect him or her at all costs. And the relationship between husband and wife or lovers within their race was very strong, so when their loved one pa.s.sed away, they would mourn for several decades due to their sadness. In some cases, they would even choose to die in pursuit of their partner.

Perhaps it was because she was an elf herself that she naturally walked behind Nozomu as if to support him.

That was why Shīna, who tried to do so much for someone like a human, was an odd one from the elves' point of view. That's why it could be said that she fell in love with Nozomu to that extent.

Perhaps, not really, Shīna didn't have the desire for Nozomu to be by her side as much as Irisdina did.

Perhaps it was because she had formed a bond with him that no human could do.

Shīna turned her consciousness deep into her own heart.

She could feel Nozomu and Tiamat's rage through the path she had connected with.

A whirlwind of rage that seemed as if it might burn her own heart. But it was proof that he was indeed still alive.

"It's okay. I believe we can reach you..."

She closed her eyes and spoke to Nozomu as if she were praying. As she thought, she couldn't hear his reply.

Neither Nozomu nor them had any more time. Perhaps they only had one chance. If they missed it, everyone in this place would be invited to their deaths.

Even so, she was not worried.

Just as the contract still hadn't been broken, even if her voice could not be heard, she understood that she was still connected with him.

Finally, the magic arrow was complete. Shīna opened her eyes and aimed with the intention of hitting the target in her heart.

She looked beyond her gaze to the cause of deception to the person she had sworn to support.

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