The Main Event Begins: The Old Butler — Part 3
Editors: Joker, Speedphoenix
The old butler was one hell of a foe. I tried all sorts of attacks, but none were able to truly find their mark. If I were to seek a cause, I would likely label his skills. Namely, Mind’s Eye and Blade Seer. It felt as if he foresaw each and every single one of my attacks; I got read like Dr. Seuss.
Unlike the butler, who happened to be a true master of his craft, I was just another undertrained whelp. If I were to go back in time and ask the me from a year ago whether I knew anything about martial arts, or whether I got into fights all the time, the answer would be a simple “no.” My lack of experience put me at a disadvantage despite the difference in our stats.
It wasn’t as if I was truly helpless. In fact, seeing Lefi’s magic in action had prompted me to develop a spell focused entirely on mass destruction. All I needed to do to delete the butler was use it. But I couldn’t. It was too powerful. Casting it would lead to the obliteration of the entire stadium. The happy, festive event currently underway would end up being warped into a tragic “accident” to be remembered for generations. That, however, did not by any means imply that magic-based brute force was off the table.
If large scale spells were off the table, then all I had to do was throw smaller ones at him until one eventually landed. My goal was simple. I would create a literal bullet hell, a barrage so thick that it would be impossible for him to keep up regardless of whether or not he could see through each and every single attack. Alright, time to go all out!
“You better brace yourself, old-timer, ‘cause I’m not about to give you any more chances to rest!”
“I really would not take any offence if you were to take pity on these frail old bones of mine.”
“Frail old bones my ass!”
I positioned myself in the air right above him and began channelling my magical energy in order to create dozens upon dozens of water dragons.
“Go! Attack the old-timer and take from him the few years he has left!” I shouted an order that even I thought was a bit too malevolent as I showered him with projectiles. The dragons that materialized in my vicinity began darting towards him.
My attacks were met with an onslaught of blades. It was almost like they were being repelled by a literal barrier of swords despite him only wielding a single weapon. Everything, everything that closed in on him would be split in two. But I didn’t care.
“ORAORAORAORA!” I screamed like a man in the midst of a bizarre adventure as I kept up the assault. Every dragon that was destroyed was replaced immediately; I showed him what it meant to play a real shoot ‘em up.
That said, I was fully aware of the fact that a few dozen water dragons wasn’t going to be enough to surmount the butler’s strength. He was cutting through them at inhuman speeds and destroying them with ease. That was fine. Because they were just the setup. I used the fact that he was distracted in order to create a massive earth dragon identical to the one I had used against the bandits.
My stone creation roared as it joined the fray. The butler tried cutting through it the same way he had with the water dragons, but unfortunately for him, the earth dragon was of a different make. Even the mana that it was composed of was different. Though I had made it in tandem with my water dragons, I had done so using a separate part of my mana pool. He could still slice it into pieces, but it would simply reconstruct itself and continue attacking him regardless.
He immediately realized that interception fire wasn’t going to cut it, so he opted for evasive maneuvers instead. He positioned himself such that it was between him and the water dragons and used it as a shield. Damn, he’s good! But this ain’t over yet.
The old-timer jumped and rolled around in order to avoid wave after wave of attacks.
Only for the ground underneath him to explode as he took one wrong step. Unlike every other attack I launched at him, the butler hadn’t foreseen the one he was just hit by, so he wasn’t able to dodge it; his body was immediately engulfed in fire and smoke. The attack that he had been hit by was one of the many traps that I had planted while distracting him with my draconic onslaught. My battle with the douchelord had taught me that traps were extremely useful, so I learned to make them with primordial magic. The specific trap that the butler stepped on was fairly simple. It would activate whenever someone stepped on it and use magic to create an explosion. As it was buried underneath the earth, the bits of arena above it would be transformed into shrapnel. Long story short, it was a magical landmine, one that benefited from the effects of trap mastery. The skill made it not only more powerful but also more difficult to detect.
So powerful was the mine’s output that it would have blown any ordinary foe’s lower half to bits. The butler, however, was anything but normal. Never once had I assumed that a mere trap would be enough to finish him off. But with that said, it still provided me with the perfect opportunity to win the match. If I was going to end this, I would have to do it here and now.
I had every single dragon charge straight into the center of the explosion whilst doing the same myself. I flapped my wings, oriented myself in his direction, and dove. Going all-in was the name of the game. Or at least it would have been had my crisis detection skill not kicked in.
Danger was headed my way, and fast. I immediately reacted by swivelling around in the air. A blade flew past me with all the speed of a laser mere moments after I dodged. His clothes were torn and his body was covered in soot. But that didn’t stop him. He had leapt right at me the moment I entered his range and attempted to deliver a high-speed stab. Damn. You scary, man.
I fixed my posture in midair immediately after completing my dodge and swung Enne. He managed to parry her and ward her off right before he lost all momentum and started to fall.
“You’re not getting away!”
Flapping my wings, I accelerated downwards and chased with an overhead swing. He blocked and chained his defensive measure into a slash. He managed to draw blood, but the fact that his stance was broken meant that it wasn’t actually poised to attack. The attack ultimately amounted to nothing more than just a graze, so I ignored it as I smashed my foot into his torso from above. I made sure to follow through with the attack; I kept my foot on him and slammed him into the arena.
An incredible sense of impact rang throughout my body. The ground beneath us almost seemed to shake.
It was a heavy blow. The butler, who had been unable to defend, coughed out a mouthful of blood. Despite having taken serious damage, he continued to fight regardless. He swung his blade, but it was a much weaker swing than usual, so I kicked it away with the leg I didn’t have on his torso and positioned Enne by his neck.
“Looks like I win,” I said with a pant.
“It certainly does,” he chuckled. “It appears that I’ve lost despite intending to do the opposite.”
He was hurt so bad that there was blood dribbling from his lips, but he smiled regardless. It was a teasing smile, the kind you would see on a child’s face immediately following an innocent prank.
“And we have our winner! Ypsilon has taken yet another match by storm!”
The audience, which had been left silent by our display, began to roar with cheers as soon as the MC declared my victory.
I exhaled deeply as I took my foot off of him and hoisted my blade back over my shoulder. “You should probably hit up wherever they keep the doctor around here, and fast. You’re getting on in years, old-timer. You really shouldn’t be pushing yourself so hard.”
“I suppose so,” said my opponent with a bit of a laugh. “I will do as you have suggested and head over to the infirmary immediately.”
He got up off the ground and began patting off his clothes. The way he carried himself made it seem as if he was completely uninjured.
“I was lucky you were so old.” I smiled in a strained manner as I watched him walk away. Though he had borrowed a shoulder from a member of the medical team, he still seemed to have the same firmness in his steps as usual.
I hadn’t killed him, but I had done some major damage. And frankly, seeing him just walk it off as if it was no big deal was terrifying, even if he was just putting on a strong front. It was as I said. I was lucky that he was as old as he was. The degradation of his body was the reason I had taken so little damage; I probably would have lost had he still been in his prime.
As I hadn’t watched every single fight, I didn’t know exactly how skilled the tournament’s participants really were. However, my duel against the old butler had at least proven that it wasn’t all just fun and games. Some of the event’s participants were at the peak of their game, the top of their class. And that wasn’t the only thing I had learned from the experience either. I now understood why the demon king was so worried about the human threat.
They lacked brute strength, but humans had technique. They passed their techniques to each generation that followed, thereby refining them over relatively short periods of time. Every batch of humans would be stronger than the last. Of course, humans weren’t the only ones to hand down their martial arts. Demons, demi-humans, and beastkin were all sure to do the same. But they were longer lived. Their techniques passed through fewer hands in the same amount of time, and the lack of iteration led to a lesser degree of refinement. Races with longer lifespans didn’t evolve as quickly. And neither did their martial arts. That was why the humans, who had started off as a race of little note, had grown into a major power over time. Stats were only one of many measures of strength. I had to make sure to pay attention to more than just the numbers if I didn’t want the rug to be swept from under my feet.
“Looks like I’ve learned a helluva lot from you, old-timer.” I muttered a few words of thanks under my breath as I turned my back to the cheering crowd and made my way to the exit.
“Ughhh… I’m so tired,” I groaned. “That old man was mad scurry.”
“Mhm. He was really strong,” agreed Enne. “How are your injuries, Master?”
“I’m fine. It’s just a few flesh wounds. I’ll just rub a few potions into them or something later.”
Enne and I headed towards the waiting room whilst engaging in a bit of a chat.
We weren’t the only ones present, however. I realized that we were being approached from behind, so I spun around to greet whoever was following me. And as I did, I was greeted by a pair of familiar faces.
“Oh, hey girls, what’s up?” I greeted both Leila and Agent McHoodface whilst tilting my head and speaking in a questioning tone.
Haloria immediately glanced around us in order to check that no one was present before leaning over and whispering into my ear.
“Leila said that you’ve received an important message. The red orb of correspondence is glowing. There’s been an emergency.”