The Main Event Begins: The Old Butler — Part 2
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
My attack marked the battle’s true start. I backed a heavy, downwards swing with all the forward momentum of my charge. All the power put into the strike made it incredibly fast, but the butler dodged it with ease. His dodge was so practiced and deliberate that it almost made avoiding the blade look the most natural thing to do. With its target missing, my sword ended up cleaving into the stage instead, causing a conspicuously loud crash in the process.
I grunted as I pulled the weapon out of the ground and quickly turned the motion into a sideways swing. Of course, that wasn’t the only thing I did. I kicked up some of the debris that my first attack had knocked all over the place at my opponent as I went in to bolster my chances of success.
Much to my displeasure, he managed to not only drain my projectiles of their momentum by splitting them to pieces before they reached him, but also dodge Enne’s blade by stepping out of her range. And he did it all with only the slightest bit of effort. The look on his face was literally as composed as it possibly could have been.
“Those are some terrifyingly quick attacks,” said the butler.
“Yeah, totally sounds legit coming from the guy dodging them without even breaking a sweat.”
I knew that I had to crank my engines up as far as they would go if I didn’t want to lose, so I conjured up a series of water dragons and had them charge at the old butler. The spell was one that I employed often; I was so used to it that it no longer had any cast time whatsoever.
Each of the serpentine fabrications roared as they opened their jaws and coiled around each other in the middle of their suicidal charge. Yeah, I know the roaring doesn’t really make sense, especially since it’s not a part of the spell. I’m not really sure when they started doing it either, but they just kinda did.
But my opponent cut them down.
“The fuck!? Bro, you’ve gotta be kidding me!”
A single slash was all he needed to cleave through the spell. He had raised his sword above his head and split my attack into two neat halves as he brought it back down. The magically constructed fluids immediately lost its form before vanishing as if it had never existed in the first place. Bruh. Hold up. I didn’t even know that cutting magic was possible. What the fuck?
“I would advise against lowering your guard.”
My reaction speed was dulled by my surprise, so I didn’t notice that the butler had attacked until he was right in my face. I lowered Enne to guard against his blade as he thrust it at me, but my foe reacted to my attempt at defence and negated it. His blade suddenly changed trajectories and slithered over my own. The fuck!?
And that wasn’t all. He continued to demonstrate that it was far removed from the norm. Both his arm and his blade seemed to split into two, with one closing in on me from each side.
I stepped back far enough to avoid losing my arms, but I took a good bit of damage regardless. He had cut deep enough into my shoulders to cause a spray of blood to erupt from each.
“T-The fuck was that!?”
As far as I could tell, he had launched a pair of synchronized attacks fast enough to create after images.
“Just a clever little trick,” he said. “I’m sure that you too would be able to perform it with a bit of practice.”
Uhh… dude. Not everyone’s a superman like you, y’know? My dexterity stat had risen a lot since my reincarnation. And as a result, I had gotten a lot better at using magic. My ability to wield a sword, however, had improved by only a questionable margin. The change it experienced was so tiny that I wasn’t even sure whether I had really improved or if it was all just a placebo. Unfortunately, I was well aware of the fact that I simply had no talent for swordplay. My only option was to fake it by brute-forcing my way through my opponents with numbers and skill levels. Oh, god damn it. I totally would have leveled up both my sword and greatsword mastery before leaving home if I knew this was going to happen. Their effects stack, so boosting both would probably help me a tonne. Er, actually probably not. At least not against this dude.
Alright, Yuki. You can do this. Calm down, use your head. I had known from the start that beating a literal sword saint at swordplay was a fool’s errand. I was much faster than him and his old, creaky frame, but he made better use of his body. Unlike mine, his movements weren’t anywhere near as wasteful. He was both efficient and as hard to read as a leaf fluttering its way to the ground.
That said, it wasn’t as if I didn’t have anything over him. Alright, let’s see… I’ve got strength on him. I could totally crush him if it came down to a contest of brute force, physical or magical. He can’t fly either, so there’s always that. Oh yeah, and I’ve got Enne. That’s gotta be a huge plus. Alright, I think I’ve got a pretty solid game plan. Let’s do this!
“Enne! Activate wind magic!” I barked an order as I materialized my wings.
“Okay!” she said with a telepathic nod. The sword girl had immediately grasped my intentions.
I positioned her behind me and began channelling my magical energy through her to wreath her blade in flames. She followed up the action by beginning to eject the air around her. There was a sudden explosion; I shot forward with all the force of a missile.
“You better get ready to stop, drop, and roll if you don’t want to burn to death, old-timer!”
I literally flew at him and attempted to maul him with my engine. He knew just as well as I did that taking a hit from a literal flaming blade was a recipe for disaster, so he leapt backwards in order to avoid the attack by a large margin. That, however, wasn’t anywhere near enough to avoid me.
My swing had caused the engine to momentarily shift in front of me and provide me with a burst of backwards acceleration. It seemed like he was going to gain on me, but I flapped my wings while reorienting my blade in order to make a U-turn and continue firing myself in his direction. I gave my wings another flap right before I reached him in order to change my trajectory in an attempt to subvert his guard.
“How irksome!” The old man groaned as he evaded my blade. Wait. Wait! He’s calling ME irksome! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
“Says the guy that’s stupidly hard to read!”
I yelled back at him out of pure obligation as I flew circles around him and continued my assault. Enne’s flames grazed him over and over. The butler uniform he was wearing took severe damage. The man himself, however, did not. He had avoided taking even a single critical hit. The lack of progress started to tilt me, so my attacks lost their form as time progressed. They grew wilder and less thoughtful, a fact the old-timer took advantage of immediately. He made use of the increase in the number of openings I had to counter with a slash to the flank.
Ow… I groaned internally. Fortunately, the cut was a shallow one, but it was an impressive feat nonetheless. Even monsters with stats that matched my own would have to get pretty lucky if they wanted to evade my Ennegine based attacks. What the hell, man? The fuck’s up with this guy’s reflexes? I can’t believe he managed to throw a counter while I was moving around that quickly.
Frankly, the butler was terrifying. One’s stats had the tendency to drop as one’s body succumbed to age, which meant that he would have been even stronger in his prime. I had the sneaking suspicion that the man before me had once been strong enough to go toe to toe with dragons.
“What an amazing display of skill from both sides!” shouted the caster. “Can you believe that we’re only in round four, ladies and gentlemen!?”
His voice was immediately followed by a series of cheers. Again, I groaned internally, and not from pain this time. I was starting to get annoyed by both the MC and the crowd. They were too noisy and it was hard to focus.
Upon realizing that I was letting myself get a bit too tilted for comfort, I decided to stop and take a deep breath. Alright Yuki, calm down. You can do this. You just gotta stay calm.
I dispelled the flames enveloping Enne’s body and got her to stop casting wind magic before taking a moment to erase everything but my foe from my mind.
“Master. How are your wounds?” she asked, telepathically.
“I’m fine. How’s your mana holding up?”
“I have about… ten percent left.”
Shit. I let myself get carried away and used up a bit too much for comfort. Man, times like these, I really wish potions actually worked on Enne.
“So that sword of yours is an intelligent weapon?” asked the butler. “This is my first time ever seeing one in person.”
“I’m surprised you could tell.”
“I could sense it abiding by your will,” he said. “It is quite the splendid blade. Do treat it well.”
“That’s been the plan from the start,” I said. “She’s pretty much the most adorable little thing ever, so I don’t see any reason I wouldn’t.”
The air around my opponent eased for just a moment as his expression reverted to the kind you’d see on any other nice old man. Likewise, Enne also seemed to react by doing the telepathic equivalent of squirming around in embarrassment. See what I mean? She’s so cute!
“Would you mind doing me the favour of descending and meeting me on the ground?” asked the butler.
“Oh, hell naw. That sounds dangerous as fuck, and I’m not about that life,” I said. You see, up here, I don’t need to worry about you hitting me, oldtimer.
“Well, then I suppose I will have to resort to something a little less orthodox.”
Crisis detection suddenly kicked in and warned me that I was in trouble. And lots of it. I didn’t think I could face the incoming attack head-on, so I flapped my wings as hard as I could in order to force myself to evade. The wind roared. A sword beam came at me and cleaved through the airspace I had been occupying just a moment prior. It missed my face by no more than just a few centimetres. THE FUCK WAS THAT!? I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT WAS POSSIBLE! IS THAT WHAT MAXING SWORD MASTERY DOES!? GIVE YOU FUCKING SWORD BEAMS!?
Though I was screaming in confusion, I had, in fact, processed his attack. My magic eye allowed me to understand that he had filled his blade with magical energy and released it as he swung it. Shit man, that surprised me as much as a jack in the box would surprise a toddler.
“I’m surprised you avoided that.”
“Dude, what the fuck! I thought I was about to die, fuck me, holy shit!”
The first thing I did after firing off a series of complaints was pay him back in kind. I did the exact same thing he did: I filled Enne with mana and took extra care not to activate crimson blaze. Instead, I imagined the magical energy flying off into the distance as I released it.
And that was exactly what happened. I managed to send a sword beam flying right at the old butler. He avoided the attack, but it managed to prove itself a significant source of power by carving a large gash into the arena’s floor. Wow. That worked a lot better than I thought it would.
“You have learned the attack just by seeing it?” asked the butler. “How outstanding. I expected nothing less.”
“Mark my words, old-timer, I’m going to wipe that confident smile off your face!”
It’s time for round two! Let’s do this!