Vs Fermus — The Battle Begins
「Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome the Martial Arts Tournament’s final set of events. The weather’s looking great today folks, it’s a perfect day to finally buckle up and watch this year’s last two matches. The first we’ll have today will be a showdown for third place!」
It seemed that today would be the last time we heard the caster and his commentary. Realizing that almost caused me to feel a sense of solitude, the same kind you’d feel as a festival you enjoyed came to a close.
（Master. Feeling off?）
『Nah, it’s just that it hadn’t really struck me that today’s the tourney’s last day.』
（Will play all cards.）
『Yeah, that we will.』
Fran was unlike me in the sense that she didn’t feel even the slightest bit of lament. She was too busy being totally pumped. The young black catgirl honestly appeared to be thinking of nothing but the duel she was about to engage in.
Seeing her like that made me feel that she was extremely reliable.
「Entering from the west, we have a C ranked adventurer that’s used this tournament to make a name for herself! Fran, the Black Lightning Princess! Don’t be fooled by her, folks, ’cause she packs one hell of a punch! Her fangs are so sharp that they’ve even allowed her to take down an A ranker! Let’s hope we once again get to see her unleash that daunting black lightning of hers onto the field!」
We heard our last welcoming roar as we entered the ring. I figured that most of the audience members present were here to see the finals, but they ended up cheering Fran on regardless.
『Unfortunately, he looks like he’s in great condition today.』
Fermus walked towards the stage with a relaxed smile decorating his face. He didn’t seem even the slightest bit nervous. It was something I really should’ve seen coming given that he’d once won three of these things in a row.
『Well, all’s good if that’s how you feel, I guess.』
Fran, unlike me, wished to see him in perfect form. Her nature as a battle maniac made it so she would’ve actually ended up being rather disappointed if he wasn’t.
「And from the east, Fermus, the Dragon Hunter! They say he’s retired, but, to me, it doesn’t look like his strength’s faded even in the slightest! He unfortunately lost the final round, but is definitely still going strong!」
Fermus’ gear was just as light as usual. He didn’t seem to be wearing anything more than just a white shirt and a pair of black slacks if you looked at him from afar. The dandy looking older man had a bit of a rough but professional air to him, like a butler that’d taken off his jacket and was ready to brawl. That said, his attire was actually made up of parts he’d gotten from dragons and whatnot. Looking at him more closely would allow one to tell that he was basically wearing scalemail.
「Hey, long time no see.」
「Would you get mad if I told you that I never expected to have to compete with you for third place?」
「I guess the feeling is mutual then.」
I’d been expecting to fight Royce, but Fermus had proven himself the stronger of the two. I had to admit, Fermus’ thread based techniques were a real threat. We didn’t know how they worked, nor what he could even really do with them. Guessing at his tactics was way out of the scope of our abilities. Worst of all was that he was way more experienced than us.
Our stats were higher than his, so if we were to lose, it would definitely be due to our lack of knowledge or experience.
Fighting Amanda had proven that we weren’t good enough at coming up with functional tactics, as she’d managed to completely dismantle our less than sane strategy of whipping out our trump card right off the bat.
「This match’ll be one to look forward to! A young adventurer in the middle of growing stronger will be pitted against an experienced A ranker. Which of the two will come up on top!?」
「No, it’ll be me.」
Fran took a stance, which soon prompted Fermus to do the same. He looked empty handed, but I knew there was no way that was actually the case. His position was undoubtedly one from which he could deploy and manipulate his string-like weapons.
Name: Monarch Whale’s Beard War Threads
Magical Conductivity: C~A
Space/Time Element 
Greater Water Element
Name: Dragon-Eating Spider’s War Threads
Magical Conductivity: D~B+
Greater Earth Element
His threads had a huge number of elemental affinities attached to them. I wasn’t really sure how they functioned, but if I had to guess, I’d assume that each individual thread could have its own element. Likewise, each individual thread seemed to have a different value for its attack and magical conductivity.
「It looks like they’re ready! Without further ado, let the battle for third place… begin!」
We created a barrier and fired off several offensive spells the moment the caster signaled for us to start.
Immediately spamming spells wasn’t something that had worked on Amanda, but I figured the tactic could still be effective against someone like Fermus.
All four of our spells were targeting Fremus’ threads. We wanted the lightning-based spell to run through his threads and shock him, the fire-based spell to burn his threads down, the poison-based spell to melt them, and the wind-based spell to simply blow them away and prevent him from using them for offense.
And it worked. Our spells were able to null the first wave of attacks he’d thrown at us as the match began.
Despite that, we hadn’t actually gotten any hits in, as his threads had suddenly pulsed with magical energy and dispersed our spells. The density of the mana that fluxed through his weapons was so high that I didn’t even need to look to understand exactly what had happened.
It didn’t seem like we’d be able to put too much pressure on him with magic alone.
『Looks like we’ll have to engage him in close combat.』
Under normal circumstances, we would’ve held the advantage at a range. We could have simply continued bombarding him with magic from a couple hundred meters away until we forced him to yield. The arena, however, was far too small to allow for the aforementioned tactic. The barrier made it so we were always in reach of his threads and the ever-changing attacks he could use them to launch from any which direction.
That was why we decided to fight him up close, where it’d be a bit harder for him to manipulate his threads to his will.
We made use of the lesson Amanda and taught us and avoided using Physical Damage Nullification because we understood that Fermus was the type to deliver quick hits in rapid succession.
「Brilliant Lightning Rush!」
Fran accelerated towards Fermus. He reacted by creating a wall with his threads, but was ultimately unable to stop us.
（Master! Executing plan!）
『Got it! Dimension Shift!』
I teleported us, and this time, made the explicit assumption that we would be completely seen through. The reason I was willing to make such a move was because I’d eliminated the risk associated with it through the use of Dimension Shift, a spell that took a few seconds to activate, but could prevent all sorts of different attacks. It was more than enough to shield us from getting hit the moment we reappeared.
And that was in fact exactly what happened — a series of threads assaulted us from four different directions the moment we finished teleporting.
The application of our contingency caused them to pass right through us without doing any sort of damage.
「Hmph! I knew it. You really can use Space/Time Magic after all.」
Fran tried raising me above her head and crashing my blade into Fermus’ body, but wasn’t able to. He had already figured out our goal, and so, he created a barrier with his threads and stopped me in my tracks
Each individual thread was rather weak, but he was able to strengthen them and turn them into a shield by channeling magical energy through them and using a couple dozen in conjunction.
We couldn’t take advantage of our higher weapon skill level because we still had absolutely no idea what Fermus’ threads could do. There was just no way we could see through his techniques or predict his actions without further knowledge of his style.
『But that’s fine! ‘Cause we’re not done just yet!』
We didn’t need to have me come into contact with Fermus’ flesh for us to damage him. The black lightning that enveloped Fran’s body would shock whatever she attacked.
In other words, attacking Fermus’ threads would cause them to be struck by lightning. The electrical energy would conduct its way through his threads and ultimately damage him.
Or at least, that’s what should’ve happened.
「That won’t work.」
The black lightning did begin coursing through Fermus’ threads, but it began petering out and losing its power as it moved, only to disappear completely before reaching him. He had managed to use his threads’ sheer volume to disperse all the electrical energy before it reached him.
Fran continued attacking Fermus while parrying the threads he countered her with, but to no avail. None of her lightning reached him; it all dispersed and flowed into either the ground or the air instead.
He was easily handling our technique with a method we’d never imagined possible.
『Multiple Doppelganger Synthesis!』
I teleported us again, but this time, also threw in a few doppelgangers to distract him while we did. It was kinda obvious that Fermus would manage to defeat the doppelgangers in an instant, but I didn’t care. What mattered was that the doppelgangers were more than just illusions. Their physical forms forced Fermus to invest time in actually dealing with them.
Watching my doppelgangers die was something that used to make me cringe, but I’d gradually gotten used to and grown completely desensitized to it over time because of all the practice we had in using them.
None of the three doppelgangers I spawned had taken on the form I’d been expecting them to have.
Magical Conductivity: C
They didn’t have the form I had when I was still human, but instead, happened to possess my current form. Appearance wise, they were basically perfect replicas of me; it was impossible to tell us apart at a glance.
Fortunately, they still did their jobs; Fermus’ eyes ended up getting pulled to the newly formed blades.
I was really curious as to why my doppelgangers had suddenly all turned into swords, but ended up shelving the thought for the time being. I needed to concentrate on the battle.
I telekinetically propelled my doppelgangers towards the dragon hunter. I hadn’t planned on them actually damaging him, so I’d only put just enough force in to cause them to move towards him at the same speed they would have been at had they been free falling.
None of the replicas really had much durability, so he destroyed them in an instant. But again, they served their purpose.
We were really quite fortunate that Fermus had just fought and lost to Forrund. The experience he gained from the battle was still fresh in his mind, so he ended up paying much more attention to the doppelgangers than was actually necessary. We’d basically slipped his mind as a result.
We took advantage of the opening and attacked him. Though Fermus managed to avoid a direct hit, he still did end up bleeding. It was a pretty good outcome considering that I’d activated Magic Poison Fang and laced the attack with venom.
The old dragon hunter had a skill that made him resistant to abnormal status conditions, but I didn’t care. My goal was once again not dealing him any direct damage, but instead detracting from his ability to focus. There was no way manipulating that many threads didn’t require an incredible amount of concentration.
Fran continued rushing him down and attacking. Shallow wounds began appearing all over him as she did.
His threads were powerful and difficult to deal with, but we were still capable of defeating him so long as we stuck cl-
『Fran, watch out!』
A piece of thread rose from beneath Fran’s feet and attempted to both trap and attack her.
Fermus had lured us to one of the traps he’d prepared upon figuring out that we wanted to engage him in close combat.
I’d only barely noticed it in time for Fran to avoid a direct hit from it because of my Trap Detection skill. It was extremely difficult to pick up because of how high leveled Fermus’ Trap Creation skill was. It was the type that activated if we touched one of many specific threads.
We needed to watch out and be more careful of being baited going forward.
He took the opportunity caused by us recoiling from the trap to retreat and widen the gap between us.
Holy shit! Dealing with him and his god damn threads was a huge pain in the ass!
 Here, the author specifically denotes that Fran’s title is, in Japanese, pronounced “Kokuraiki.”
 I literally translated the second halves of these skills for now because I’m not sure what they’re supposed to do. I’ll update them accordingly once the author reveals their properties.