The audience, rushing towards the venue through all available pathways, was quite like a crowd of zombies.
They all had a blank expression and were shuffling towards us while their eyes were out of focus, as if they were sleepwalking. To make matters worse, a majority of them held bamboo swords.
(To think that the final event of the competition would be a melee battle involving everyone…!)
Furthermore, there were about one thousand of them. Since they’re only being manipulated by Balon’s mindwaves, we can’t afford to fight them with serious intent. It’s even more difficult when considering that they all have swordsmanship experience.
In a sense, they were more troublesome opponents to deal with than the apostles.
“…Everyone, we can’t go all out against them. It’ll be fairly difficult, but we have to strike them unconscious.”
While waiting for the approaching audience members coming from all around, we listened to Ryuuga’s instructions.
In a separate location, Aogasaki was facing Balon. Since none of the zombies were there, it seems that he ordered them to attack us.
In addition, Mion had quickly escaped to the now-vacant second floor seating and sat on the handrail, acting as if she were just a spectator. It seems that she doesn’t intend to lend a hand.
The encirclement around us was gradually getting smaller. Amongst the gathering, Tanaka, Miyamoto, and Sasaki were visible. It seems that those three don’t have even the faintest idea of the truth.
Behind me, I could sense signs of Ryuuga and the others preparing for battle.
“By the time they’ll wake up, the brainwashing will probably be undone. Make sure to control your strength.”
“If there were at least plants, I could restrain them all with my ‘Tree Binding Execution,’ but…”
“For now, knock out the adults and the males if you can. Good grief, I was planning on doing the final match, though.”
“No. In the first place, this competition is a battle with the Aogasaki dojo at stake. I think that the one to settle it should be Rei. We just have to back her up! Ichirou, help out as well!”
I was quite surprised by Ryuuga’s request.
…This is bad. She’s considering me as part of their fighting power. That worries me.
I was planning to just run around. I intended to only provide comic relief, like a friend character would, by saying things like “Uhaaa!”, “Help me!”, or “Guh, I’ll cut you apart! Hey hey, don’t strip me! At least give me back my underwear!”
(Being considered a ‘useful person’ from now on is not the way to go. If I make myself out to be a useless guy…it’s possible that I could disillusion everyone.)
While I was thinking about it, Ryuuga, Yukimiya, and Elmira suddenly rushed out towards three different directions.
Immediately after, they vigorously struck the zombies on the nape of the neck, and they began to faint in succession. All three of them were superb.
(As expected of the main characters…)
Tanaka was again beaten by Ryuuga.
Miyamoto and Sasaki were also knocked down in one blow by Yukimiya and Elmira respectively. Since they weren’t restricted to sword fighting, it’s obvious that it wouldn’t be a hard struggle for them.
(If this is how things are going, then it seems that there’s no need for me to butt in. Alright, I’ll take the role of comic relief, as things should be. To make it easier for my clothes to be taken off, I’ll loosen the cord around the waist of my uniform.)
However, something happened right when I was about to start preparing for my undressing.
There was someone behind me who hit the back of my head. The merciless swing I received caused me to see stars.
When I turned around, there were a group of children. They had emotionless faces, like those of a doll, and each of them had readied their bamboo swords.
Needless to say, they were pupils of the Aogasaki dojo…Aogasaki’s students. The one who hit me was Kobayashi (2nd grader).
“W, wait you guys! Calm down! How much do you want──”
Not listening to my words, the children leapt towards me. I was knocked over in the blink of an eye, pushed down, and then ganged up on.
“Ah! Guh! Stop it, you brats! Don’t beat me up, take off my outfit!”
Ignoring my objections, the zombie kids continued to beating me to a pulp. As expected of the Aogasaki style, they put their back into their sword strikes. It seems that Aogasaki makes for a good teacher.
(T, Tie, wake up! Your host is in a pinch! Ryuga’s back as well!)
While curled up into a ball like an armadillo, I called out to Taotie through our remote communication. I received a response before long, but it was only the “Evil Spirit” sleep-talking.
(Nnnnngh~, hmmm…hehehe, you’re so aggressive Ryuuga…unexpectedly perverted too…keep this a secret from Boss, okay?)
(The hell kind of dream are you having?!)
(Ah, stop, Ryuuga. Don’t pull on my speedo…give it back…)
(Don’t get undressed before me!)
Giving up on the good-for-nothing Taotierou, I asked for salvation from the heron girl on the second floor seats.
“Hey, Mion! I need help! Do something about these guys!”
“No thanks. I have no interest in harming children.”
“Then at least remove my clothes! This is supposed to be my time to shine!”
“I don’t understand what you mean. Besides──well, this is a bit amusing.”
Mion, sitting on the handrail with her legs crossed, looked at one specific spot.
Of course, her sight was on the fierce battle unfolding between Aogasaki and Balon.
Balon used both arms to attack his prey as he pleased. The wind pressure from his attacks even reached me.
Being a mantis apostle, his hands were gigantic sickles. Normally, mantis arms were meant for clawing and snagging, but what Balon had were undoubtedly blades…their purpose was to cleave, behead, and mince.
If one reacted just a moment too late, their hands and feet could easily be torn off.
However, Aogasaki did not shy away. In response to the fiendish dance of sickles, she continued a strategy of “dodging at point-blank range.”
(Aogasaki, shouldn’t you take a bit more of a distance? At this rate, you might receive an attack at any moment…)
While worrying about such things, the children were still attacking me. I wanted to carelessly kick them around in rage, but I firmly put up with it. I have a soft spot for children.
“You can be rest assured, Rei. I won’t kill you. However…you can still have children even with one or two limbs missing. It’ll even make you a bit easier to deal with in the future!”
“One of Hell’s Top Eight, Balon…there’s one thing I have to tell you.”
Aogasaki spoke to Balon while exposing herself to a hailstorm of rampaging blades.
Contrary to her calm attitude, her martial arts uniform was receiving tears here and there. There were also two light cuts on her cheek. Stop injuring her face! She’s a main character!
“I said it before, Rei! You can’t break your promise at this──”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
It was at that moment. Aogasaki leapt towards her opponent’s torso.
As a swordswoman, she was too close to her opponent, but…Aogasaki was no ordinary swordswoman.
She drove the bottom of her hilt towards Balon’s solar plexus. She had changed her grip on the wooden sword without me noticing it.
Having received the hefty strike, Balon’s bent forward.
It seems that he didn’t expect the blow. It was a tricky attack she was able to do since she was using a wooden sword instead of a real sword.
Stepping away from her opponent’s chest, Aogasaki readjusted how she held the wooden sword.
“A strike to the torso make this my win, how about it?”
“D, don’t fool around…in kendo, such a rule doesn’t…”
“Kendo? You’ve got it wrong. That’s the rule in swordsmanship for my dojo. I understand that this is competition is a battle of swordsmanship, right?”
“Of course, the techniques taught can be used for kendo. However, the true nature of the Aogasaki style isn’t about ‘matches,’ but ‘a fight to the death’…a means to annihilate the opponent.”
Aogasaki rapidly swung her sword around, hitting Balon in every possible vital point. It was obvious that she wasn’t using any kendo techniques.
(Those aren’t attacks meant for winning a game. Those are attacks meant for killing the opponent.)
As my eyes widened, bamboo swords once again swung at my head.
When I looked closely, I noticed that it wasn’t from a child, but the referee, so I kicked him away with my hind legs. I’m harsh towards adults.
Meanwhile, Aogasaki didn’t even allow a counterattack from her opponent, her wooden sword swerving through the air. Each time, Balon let out a cry of anguish.
“The sword is a weapon to kill the enemy. That’s why the Aogasaki style respects the ‘heart’ and ‘spirit’. One must always ask themselves what it means to wield such a thing. To never resort to heartless violence.”
“Does my sword hurt? The more you sharpen your ‘heart,’ the more your sword sharpens as well. Depending on how serious you are, you can even turn a wooden sword into a real one. The same applies to swordsmanship and kendo!”
“Gahah! Guheh! Ah, guh…”
At that moment, something strange happened to Balon’s body.
King Arthur’s body tumbled to the ground, as if separating from him. Only the mantis apostle remained standing.
(Did his possession of him come loose?)
Perhaps he was unable to maintain his possession due to the severe amount of damage he took.
I see. So that’s why Aogasaki wasn’t finishing him off. She was thinking about splitting the two apart first.
(With this, she won’t have to worry about King Arthur’s body…)
She really is a cool person. If this story were any different, perhaps she would be the protagonist instead.
“You’ve come out, did you? Refraining from using my supernatural ability ended up paying off.”
“I said it before. I would have you return Asao. The other day, Kobayashi taught me…that the important thing is to ‘not lose sight of the goal.’ Some fine words. I’m thinking of having it be one of my mottos.”
That wasn’t me, but Taotie though…or rather, it was Ryuuga who originally said it…and now it became Aogasaki’s motto.
“Anyhow, now I can fight seriously without holding back.”
“S, seriously…you mean that you’ve been going easy on me until now…?!”
“Of course. Now then, let me show you what it means to be the ‘Swordswoman of the Beheading Dance.'”
An ultramarine aura coated Aogasaki’s Blade of the Sacred Tree. It spiraled around the sword, faintly taking the form of a dragon.
“Our conversation is coming to an end, but let me say this. There’s one thing I should mention about you.”
Aogasaki’s long ponytail stood up, as if pointing to the sky. Her ribbons were levitating and her beautiful hair spread out.
“Balon. You──don’t even match up to Mion.”
Balon was speechless. Thereupon, Mion said “That’s obvious.”
“Kanshou Balon! Back to the abyss with you! Take this! Secret Sword, Royale!”
With a loud yell, Aogasaki swung her sword downward.
Her blade unleashed a whirlpool of air that instantly engulfed Balon.
The peculiarity, who was swerving around in the air, was torn into shreds. His feet, head, and torso, scattered in all directions. It was as if he was fruit put into a blender…it was quite a shocking sight.
The shreds of flesh soon disappeared in the air. As a result, only his head and sickle-arms dropped to the floor.
A new killing technique had been revealed, one that outrivaled Secret Sword, Sonic Blade in terms of power.
(A, amazing…is this what Aogasaki’s ‘Azure Dragon’ can do?!)
As expected of the one who was number two within Ryuuga party. It seems that I have seriously misjudged Aogasaki Rei’s power.
No, that’s not it. She’s definitely stronger than before. Devotion each and every day──that’s the Aogasaki style. Her true nature wasn’t that of a “fashionista girl,” but indeed a “swordswoman.”
(Even so…just like Sonic Blade, that name once again sounds cocktail-like. I’m beginning to have suspicions that Aogasaki might be drinking.)
…Suddenly, I realized that the zombies had stopped moving.
After a short while, the children around me fell down on the spot. They probably were released from Balon’s mindwaves after he had been defeated.
“Ow ow ow…*huff*, I thought I was going to die.”
While getting off the floor and sitting up, I once again looked at my surroundings.
The other audience members were lying down everywhere as well. There were a thousand people sleeping together in a spacious venue…a surreal sight to behold.
“Ichirou, are you alright?”
Ryuuga spoke as such while walking up to me.
Though she had moved around quite a bit, she wasn’t out of breath at all. Since Aogasaki beat Balon earlier than expected, it wasn’t necessary to keep the thousand people company anymore.
I gave a thumbs up while rubbing the bump on my head.
“Yeah, I’m somehow alright. Unfortunately, my pants and underwear are fine too.”
“What do you mean by that? Anyways, you’re in pretty bad shape today. I thought that you’d be able to calmly deal with five hundred people, Ichirou.”
“Ryuga, don’t overestimate me. This is the best I can do. Tie has little fighting strength remaining as well. Even Funassyi wouldn’t think I could win.” (TLN: Some brief Googling seems to say that Funassyi is a mascot character designed to cheer up residents)
“Ahaha. I heard that someone made a crater in the venue. That was your doing, right?”
Ryuuga lent me a hand while making a wry smile.
I gratefully grabbed her hand and got up onto my feet. Her hand was sleek with slender fingers, and no matter how I looked at it, it seemed to be a girl’s.
“Anyways, this issue has been settled.”
“It seems so. King Arthur looks to be safe.”
Yukimiya and Elmira came in while saying such things.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
“Since we’ve knocked down Sasaki and the others, we must have earned some more points as well.”
Then, everyone shifted their gaze towards what was ahead. There stood Aogasaki, tying her hair.
“…Rei, you really are cool.”
Yukimiya and Elmira nodded in agreement towards what Ryuuga muttered.
“Indeed. I’m sure that Rei is the strongest of all the successors to the ‘Azure Dragon.'”
“If she was just a little more ladylike, she’d be perfect.”
In contrast to Yukimiya’s honest comment, the vampire spoke in jest.
Ryuuga said “Jeez,” as usual and smiled while looking once again at Aogasaki.
“She’d be perfect if she was more ladylike, you say? In that case──Rei really is perfect.”