“Glad to go head to head with you, Kobayashi.”
“I give you my regards, Miyamoto.”
It was just before the beginning of the match. During that interval, Miyamoto and I briefly exchanged words.
Her eyes, which glinted behind her mask, shot a dangerous look at me, just as ever…Now I wish that I could have remembered Miyamoto’s three sizes. It would give me something to aggravate her.
“I heard it from Asao. You have a fracture in your left arm, right? To think you would make light of me by participating in the match with your current condition…!”
“A perfect handicap, is it not?”
When I said that, Miyamoto’s eyes dyed further with anger. Unfortunately for you, I’ve done some research. Though you seem composed on the outside, you’re a relatively irascible girl.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that she’s a dangerous opponent. As evidence of that, Aogasaki gave me a verbal warning some time ago.
──Kobayashi. Miyamoto’s ability is at the level where she can occasionally beat Asao. Think of her as a swordswoman above even Sasaki.──
If Aogasaki Rei is going as far as to say that, then her ability must be the real deal.
However, Aogasaki. Stop undervaluing Sasaki. That person still hasn’t fought yet. He’ll be making an appearance after this match.
As such, the match began.
(My job is to prolong the competition for as long as possible. Yukimiya and the others need to make it in time for the next matches. I’ve got to do it…I’ll hold out for as long as possible…I’ll drag this match out!)
With a shuffle of her feet, Miyamoto gradually closed the distance. As I should expect from someone like her, she didn’t leave any gaps for me to sneak in a hit.
“What’s with your attitude? Could you actually be an amateur in the sword? Well, even if that’s the case, I have no inclination to go easy on you. This is your retribution.”
“…Miyamoto, let me say this first. Sorry, but I don’t think this will be an easy victory for you, you know? Furthermore, I don’t think this will be a worthwhile match either.”
“What are you saying?”
“This is a poor matchup. Since you’re going against me──you’re no more than comic relief!”
It happened right as I finished speaking, An eye-popping sword attack flew towards my face.
Though I dodged it right away, Miyamoto began launching a chaotic rush of blows. Her swift attacks were more breathtaking that I had imagined. Her Miyamoto family name is not for show.
“Mask! Torso! Forearm!”
However, she’s just a girl in the end. Or to be more specific, she’s just a human in the end. That much won’t faze a vessel of the “Evil Spirit.”
Well then, perhaps I should launch a counterattack. Have a look at the Kobayashi style of the sword!
“Breasts! Tush! Calf!”
While boldly declaring the parts I would aim at, my bamboo sword made a noise as it cut through the air. Though my opponent, the formidable foe she is, was surprised, she managed to barely defend against my attacks.
“There’s nothing about that in the rules! Take this seriously!”
“Navel! Navel! Navel! The armpit, where you missed a spot when shaving!”
“I, I did not miss a spot!”
In the blink of an eye, I was now the one in control.
There were children laughing in the back. Even the audience was charmed…that’s Kobayashi Ichirou’s harassment-swordsmanship for you.
“Panties! Navel! Bra! Navel! Garter belt! Navel!”
“I don’t have a garter belt on! Also, you’re targeting my navel far too much!”
“The breasts that I want to rub! The thighs I want to caress! The nape I want to lick! I want to lick that nape!”
“Aren’t you just blurting out your desires now?!”
…As I repeated this indecent offense,
The referee, who couldn’t keep watching, stopped the game momentarily and spoke to me.
“Follow the rules properly.”
“My apologies. I only have experience with fencing…”
“You going to anger the fencers out there. Anyways, if you do that again, you will lose due to infringing the rules.”
I got a bit carried away. Time to be serious. I’m more or less being seen as a pupil of the Aogasaki dojo right now. I shouldn’t create a slew of disapproval.
“T, this pervert…!”
Miyamoto was angry and her shoulders were trembling. I could almost see the steam coming out of her mask.
“My apologies, Miyamoto. I’ll be serious about this and use the Aogasaki style now.”
With a bow of my head, I repositioned my bamboo sword. I’ve probably bought a little bit of time.
…I plan on pretending to win this match by a stroke of pure luck. That’s something I’ve decided on after glancing at the adult, Kiriya, when we stood in a line a while ago.
Based on what I’ve heard, that person’s strength is extraordinary. Yukimiya and Elmira, with their supernatural abilities sealed, would probably have a hard time winning.
(Sasaki’s a powerful person, and there’s no guarantee that we can win against him. That being the case, it’s better if we make this our second win.)
Right. If that can happen, then there’s no need to wait for Yukimiya or Elmira. If we have to withdraw from the third and fourth matches, that would leave us with two wins and two losses, leaving the fate of the competition to Aogasaki.
(No wait, but…leaving Elmira aside, Yukimiya had been doing her best for this…she said that she “wanted to be helpful to Rei.’)
I want her to participate in the competition, even if she loses. In the first place, would Aogasaki even consent to such a shoddy proposal like withdrawing?
I was also worried that cutting the second match short might make things boring…and while I was worrying about such things,
Once the match resumed, Miyamoto once again fiercely lunged at me.
“Hah! Ah! A thrust!”
Miyamoto continued attacking incessantly, seeming hysterical. That’s also when I realized that I didn’t need to call out where I was going to strike. However,
(It’s impossible for you to beat me with that degree of effort!)
I intercepted the countless number of blows she launched at me. I passed on many of the chances to counterattack, leaving me to just be on the defensive. Each impact caused both of my arms, especially my left arm, to creak.
At any rate, I can’t let the match end too quickly. Once Ryuuga and the others come back, things will at least follow the script somewhat. For now, I just need to buy some time!
“T, this guy is strong…he’s not your average pervert!”
──Before I knew it, Miyamoto got tired from attacking and was breathing heavily.
She seemed to have realized that all of her attacks were being seen through. The anger from her eyes vanished, and were replaced with a sense of unease.
“Weren’t you supposed to be an amateur? Why, why are you able to handle my sword…the sword that had even reached up to Asao’s level…?!”
“That’s the way the cookie crumbles. I had been reading through ‘Musashi no Ken’ for this day.”
“W, what idiotic nonsense…”
“Now then, this time I’ll make a move. If you remain willy-nilly, then you just might end up losing! You’ll have your turn again in a moment, Miyamoto!”
Just like what I said, I quickly shifted to the offensive.
Though I put in a fair amount of force, Miyamoto managed to narrowly stop the blows. Gradually retreating, she was overwhelmed while unable to launch a counterattack. Her expression warped, as if she could burst into tears at any given moment.
“This can’t be real…me, the top of the class in Getsushiyoukan…being so one-sidedly pushed back!”
“You shouldn’t get too prideful, Miyamoto! There’s always a bigger fish!”
“You say you’re the top of the class at Getsushiyoukan, so what?! Haven’t you ever though about training in a higher-level environment?! Something like the Aogasaki dojo?!”
Amidst the bustle, I tried recruiting her to the Aogasaki dojo. She’d probably be a good practice partner for Aogasaki. Since Getsushiyoukan snatched Tanaka away, don’t mind me as I do the same thing with Miyamoto!
My fierce attacks drove Miyamoto to a corner. The children raised a cheer.
“What’s the matter, Miyamoto?! Your feet stopped moving! They say that a sword-wielder’s true value comes out when they’re in an unfavorable──”
Something happened the moment I got carried away and started preaching to her.
My left arm──suddenly felt a sharp pain. The sting was accompanied by a large crackle.
I involuntarily shouted, dropping my bamboo sword in the process. When I was about to pick it up in a panic, the referee raised one hand and spoke.
“Dropping a sword is a violation! That, coupled with your previous unsportsmanlike conduct, means…the winner is Getsushiyoukan!”
The venue fell completely silent for a different reason than the first match. After a brief period, the children began booing me in unison.
“Dropping the sword is against the rules!”
I didn’t know such a rule existed. In that case, does it also mean I can’t throw a bamboo sword, steal one from my opponent, and connect them together with a string to make a nunchaku?!
(They did that in ‘Musashi no Ken’…)
No, that’s not what I should be focusing on right now.
The match is over. I didn’t buy enough time for Yukimiya and Elmira to arrive yet. Furthermore…I lost.
(Guh, to think that my left arm would hurt at a time like this…)
The area near the fracture still throbbed with agony, the pain continuing to heighten. It didn’t interfere with my daily life, so I thought that it would have been fine.
This injury had been given to me by Kurogame, who was currently in the remote region of Canada. The nerve that tortoise has to not only run away from her responsibilities, but also leave behind a parting gift…!
“…It’s swollen. You’ve been fighting with your left arm in that condition?”
Miyamoto, noticing my arm, spoke. She had already taken off her mask and crouched down to look at it.
“I suppose so. Though, that’s no excuse for me losing. Jeez, I feel like punching someone.”
“You’re being quite hard on yourself. My impression of you has changed a bit…no actually, a lot.”
While saying that, Miyamoto smiled at me for the first time.
After having only seen her with a harsh look on her face, she looked cuter than I had initially thought. The person I “felt like punching” was Kurogame, but I didn’t say that out loud, of course.
“That’s the first time I’ve faced an internal crisis during a match. Perhaps I have been prideful. To be able to see that so easily…is quite amazing of the Aogasaki dojo.”
Miyamoto stood up and turned around. She walked away, telling me something at the last moment.
“How about another match once your left arm heals? I feel that I can come to realize more of my immaturity when I stand with you. Then afterwards, I can tell you my three sizes as thanks.”
“N, no thank you, I’ve already turned over a new leaf.”
“Of course, keep it a secret from Hinomori Ryuuga. The only one who can know about that information…is you.”
…It seems that I somehow raised yet another flag.
Walking back while stricken with regret, I bowed my head to Aogasaki.
“Aogasaki, I’m sorry…”
“No, you did your best with that left arm. Right, I suppose it didn’t heal. Even so, you went that far for my sake…Kazuhiko must have come to realize your spirit and will by now.”
“Um, about Ryuga…”
“I was sent a message while your match was going on. It seems that new troops have appeared and the number of apostles is increasing.”
“N, new troops?”
“Unfortunately, it’s going to take a little more time. I have no choice but to be the contender for the next match.”
Aogasaki got up and said “Wait right here,” causing me to stop her in a panic.
The next opponent is Sasaki. If Aogasaki appeared now to snag our second win, then what would happen to the fourth and final match? King Arthur and Kiriya are still there.
Even if Yukimiya and Elmira came back in time for the competition, those people would be too tough of an opponent for them. If things get bad, it’s possible that we would face two consecutive losses.
(Instead of livening things up, I ended up creating the fear that we might lose…this is my fault. I have to take responsibility for this.)
…Should I pull out my trump card?
I didn’t want to use it if possible, and it’s almost foul play, but there’s not much else to do.
“Aogasaki. Could you approve a change of members?”
“A change of members? But who…?”
“Please let a substitute take the next match. He’ll be here in about ten seconds.”
While saying that, the sound of hurried footsteps resounded within the passage and a young boy appeared in the venue. He was already equipped with armor and shouldered his bamboo sword in a cocky manner.
“Kobayashi Taotierou, reporting for duty! Those who want to die, form a line! No cutting!”
That’s right. It’s Taotie.
One of the four spirits, a ruler of the ‘Apostles of Hell,’ and someone with the same look as me.
…Actually, when I left the waiting room, I had Taotie on standby there. Just a little something in case of an emergency. And now I’ve called for him through our remote communication.
“K, Kobayashi Taotierou? Who?”
I made a brief reply to Aogasaki, who was taken aback.
“My younger twin. Please arrange things as such.”
This is my trump card. I’m a bit peeved by it, but I’ll have to use Taotie’s “twin idea.”
Your opponent is an “Evil Spirit.”