The earth is gouged out and blown around.
It is the result of kicking the ground powerfully.
This spectacle was unfolding here and there in my field of vision.
“Even Tomoe and the others are surprised. That’s impressive.” (Makoto)
And as it happens, my Magic Armor continues to receive the attacks as usual.
The power and type is changed constantly, and I could feel that she was trying to sound out my defense.
It even felt like she was telling me she was doing that.
She is probably also sounding out my reaction.
I thought she was a doll-like shrine maiden, but her current state is pretty forward.
When a fight unfolds, her atmosphere changes.
She is a woman that resembles me.
The attacks I can’t see don’t stop.
With a speed I can’t perceive, she continues her attacks and her endless turn.
What an irrational power.
“…Fuh…well, time to do it then.” (Makoto)
Even if I can’t see her with my eyes, there’s still a lot of ways to deal with this.
I was uneasy doing this with an opponent that seems to be able to increase her power even more, but I changed [Sakai] from strengthening to perception.
I can feel her.
She doesn’t stop in one spot, her movements are marked.
Even so, no matter where she is, she is able to send killing intent without hesitation.
Of course, I can’t narrow the aim like this.
Frankly speaking, there’s no way to aim at a target like this.
That’s why I won’t aim.
I could tell that her marked movements are all centered in me.
I search for the distance.
The limit distance that Touda separates from me.
“You just introduced yourself and I haven’t seen your figure again. This is hard to deal with.” (Makoto)
I set on fire all the area that I have seen through.
A strong light and fitting heat had filled up the area till where Tomoe and the others are.
There was no aria.
I released it, doing my best not to show any signs of my action.
“Fufufu, to think that you would attack me with fire after I introduced myself as Touda.” (Touda)
“I feel like it has been a long time since I have seen that figure of yours, Touda. Was fire a bad idea?” (Makoto)
“Wicked Fire General…that’s an alias that Touda has as well, Goshujin-sama.” (Touda)
Is that so.
Well, since she called herself Touda, I was wondering if it was Enda-san, but maybe it was the name of a God?
Touda is pouring me with bloodthirst as always, and yet, she is showing the same smile she had in the shrine.
“Even so, you seem to be quite used to killing.” (Makoto)
I personally don’t remember doing anything to be hated for.
Does that mean she is the type of person that can go with the intent to kill just because she was told to do it? This shrine maiden-san, Touda.
“Goshujin-sama also seems to be used to being attacked. You don’t look agitated at all. And it seems like you can use a giant barrier I have never seen before. I didn’t know about that.” (Touda)
Looks like she received no damage.
So I only managed to heat her up huh.
“For some reason, these few years, I am prompt to being attacked. More importantly…” (Makoto)
“What is it?” (Touda)
“Have you heard about my bow from the Gods as well?” (Makoto)
Seeing the movements of Touda, that’s the only conclusion I can arrive at.
It looks like she knows of my accuracy beforehand.
Did she receive that much information in advance?
If that’s the case, why doesn’t she know about Sakai and the Magic Armor?
It is not to the point of bringing about suspicion, but it does bother me.
“I have been told that you possess a rare talent. But the details of it…” (Touda)
“Ah, I see.” (Makoto)
So she can’t answer me huh.
She knows of my bow, but not about Sakai.
Currently, from my experience, her fighting style resembles that of Hibiki-senpai.
Well, instead of calling it similar, their core style being speed is technically the same.
The only difference would be that Senpai didn’t move around this much, and she wasn’t as cautious against my mid and long ranged attacks as Touda is.
The part about not being able to see Touda even when she attacks makes her even more troublesome though.
“Now then…” (Touda)
“Let’s continue the killing.” (Touda)
Touda’s figure disappeared again—or not.
She had stopped in place, and from her hands, something string-like that had the color of molten metal began appearing one after the other.
The shrine maiden had stopped disappearing, but in her place, the string-like things had disappeared.
Those were no strings, they are whips!
I could feel a different kind of impact transmitted to the Magic Armor.
I see. The reason why she is doing this without erasing her figure from sight is because I am being tested here.
I am kinda beginning to feel like I am actually fighting now.
The three were silently spectating the progress of the fight between Makoto and the shrine maiden that called herself Touda.
It is not like they didn’t feel anything from the fight.
The three followers of Makoto had their own thoughts surfacing in their minds.
(She is good. If she is evenly matched to us even before the pact, she is certainly higher than Mio and I-ja. She is able to maintain her bloodthirst even in the face of Waka, and on top of that, she is trying to test him. A temperament that is still unreadable, but she is definitely not a coward. There’s no doubt that she would become a great help in the battle between the Goddess if she were to become the follower of Waka.) (Tomoe)
Tomoe was observing with narrowed eyes the figure of the shrine maiden as she attacks Makoto with the wild flame whips.
Small throwing weapons, spears, daggers; it felt like a fair of weapons.
She is obviously able to control her magic, moreover, she is able to use a variety of weapons in the intervals of the fight.
It is something that a normal individual would definitely be unable to do.
(What she is showing is different from that of Root, it is not enjoyment. But I can’t feel pure hostility or hatred either. The moment I first saw her, I felt some sort of presence for an instant. Just what was that? I don’t think it was my imagination-ja ga.) (Tomoe)
Her speech and conduct, and her behavior as well; all of them didn’t match with the first instant that she had felt from her.
The presence that Tomoe felt from the shrine maiden in that instant made her hold doubts.
On the other hand, at the battlefield, wind was gathering with Makoto as its focus, and a tornado that reached till the skies had been formed.
Moreover, the fire whips touched the tornado and melted together, changing into a ferocious red pillar.
(Not only Waka-sama, she looked like she was trying to sound us out as well. In the first place, not having a name doesn’t serve as an excuse for not introducing herself. Because she could just tell Waka-sama she had no name from the very beginning. Also, she suddenly gave out a name at this point in time. Right now as well, it feels like every move of hers is trying to test Waka-sama and us, and I don’t like that at all.) (Mio)
Mio felt displeasure at the shrine maiden that was directing surveying eyes at Makoto and his followers, and also, the actions of the shrine maiden that were as if she were testing them.
All her words sounded honest, however, Mio felt like there was some sort of faint trace of a different impression, which was also one of the reasons of her displeasure.
(It is also strange that she was specially interested in Shiki. She didn’t look like she was directing love at him after all. Those weren’t the eyes you direct at someone you like. Those were truly the eyes of someone surveying. Even now, she is trying to test out the power of Waka-sama. She is truly a disgusting woman-desu wa. Just what is she thinking?) (Mio)
Looking at the fight, Mio didn’t have much of an impression towards the power of the shrine maiden.
Because there was no meaning for her in who is stronger anyways.
She already knows that she is not an existence that surpasses Makoto.
That’s why she is only feeling displeased at the fact that the shrine maiden is testing Makoto. She wasn’t interested in her power.
The red pillar was torn up from the inside, and the figure of Makoto’s Magic Armor was exposed.
There were no signs of the Magic Armor being broken at all from the magic of the shrine maiden.
But Touda didn’t falter from that. She held down her agitation in an instant and proceeded to her next action.
Closing the distance, she swings the katana at her waist once.
The Magic Armor obstructed its path, but that attack froze the area it hit.
With a flurry of slashes, the Magic Armor was hardened in ice.
(Not only is it hard to catch her with the eye, she possesses a speed that makes it hard to even catch her presence, and yet, she has shifted her fighting style to one where she personally goes to attack Waka-sama with her figure in sight. Is she testing him? How foolish. But…she didn’t show much interest in Tomoe-dono and Mio-dono, and yet, she seemed to have a strange interest in me and Waka-sama. What was the reason of that? The first fighting style was a choice made because of her knowledge of Waka-sama’s specialty, but it seemed like she hadn’t accounted for Waka-sama’s Magic Armor. I can’t understand. I can’t understand, but…at the very least, I can tell that she is strong. If Waka-sama desires more fighting power, she possesses power that is acceptable.) (Shiki)
Shiki probably understood the gaze the shrine maiden directed at him more than anyone else.
Because it wasn’t something strange for people like Shiki.
The eyes of someone that wants to smell out even the slightest amount of information.
It was an interest that was totally different from that of love.
It is exactly because he saw through the intentions of the shrine maiden, that he could so easily reject that stupid act of hers.
Looking at the fight of Makoto with the shrine maiden, he could certainly see that she is strong.
She says that she is an envoy of the Gods from the other world, but in essence, she is a woman ‘that doesn’t have a single proof of her origins’ and he could only try thinking of her identity and her thoughts, with no result.
He bit his lips.
The reason why Makoto wanted fighting power.
Shiki could easily tell that this was because Makoto was looking out for their and Asora’s safety.
Makoto is trying to fight the Goddess.
However, he also doesn’t want to sacrifice the people close to him.
Then it would be better to have strong people and comrades cooperating.
Shiki doesn’t know how Tomoe and Mio would answer, but if he were asked if he himself has the confidence of coming back safely from the fight of Makoto with the Goddess, he wouldn’t be able to nod yet.
That’s why he was mortified.
If only Shiki had the sufficient strength to declare firmly that Tomoe, Mio, and him could go together with Makoto, fight alongside him against the Goddess, and return; maybe Makoto wouldn’t have thought about accepting this shrine maiden. That’s how Shiki felt.
(If I could at least master the 13th steps…) (Shiki)
Shiki had a self-depreciating smile surfacing on his face.
From the place where Makoto is, intense waves often reached towards Shiki and the other two followers, shaking their hair and clothes.
The reason why they were let off with only that much was because there’s a barrier enveloping their surroundings.
The fight, which is the origin point, was increasing in intensity at high speed.
Makoto shoots a Rocket Punch with the arm of the Magic Armor that was frozen.
With a short aria, a white light gathers at the hand of Touda and shoots it at the frozen fist.
The light breaks the fist and continued its straight trajectory towards Makoto, and just as it was right before him, it turns into darkness, and dyes his field of vision in pitch black.
Shiki turns his gaze from the fight to his side.
At that place, there’s Tomoe.
“Tomoe-dono, shouldn’t it be okay to break it up now?” (Shiki)
“Hm, yeah, you are right-ja na. It seems like she has the power to make a pact with Waka. Let’s finish it while Waka is still able to hold back.” (Tomoe)
“Yeah, if this continues, Waka-sama will…” (Shiki)
“What are you saying, Shiki? Tomoe-san too. Waka-sama is having fun here, so it is fine to just watch silently until it reaches a conclusion.” (Mio)
“Mio, are you saying that you won’t mind if Waka is soaked in the joy of killing? No, it is certainly true that you wouldn’t have any problems with that though.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe’s expression distorts.
On the other hand, Mio had a surprised expression.
Tomoe and Shiki had an understanding of what happened when Makoto summoned the Gate, and they were worried that he would once again reach that state of mind here.
Shiki also nodded at what Tomoe said.
“Joy of killing? What are you talking about?” (Mio)
“About the Gate that was summoned a few days ago-ja. The one that brought about the wrath of Waka.” (Tomoe)
“Ah, you said he was smiling, right?” (Mio)
“That’s right-ja. Waka himself didn’t seem like he was conscious of it though. If that’s an omen that he is awakening his joy in killing and destroying…” (Tomoe)
“Are you saying the current Waka-sama is showing those signs, you two?” (Mio)
Tomoe and Shiki meekly nod at Mio’s words.
Makoto’s figure was still enveloped in darkness.
However, Brids were attacking Touda at high speed and precision.
Looking at the faces of the two, Mio laughs.
“What’s that, so suddenly.” (Tomoe)
“What’s wrong?” (Shiki)
“You were worrying about something so out of mark that it is amusing.” (Mio)
“…Out of mark?” (Tomoe)
After a slight pause, Tomoe asks Mio back.
“Yeah. Waka-sama is not the type of person that would find joy in killing. The reason why he is having fun right now is because he is wondering about what he should do next, what he should try doing next. He is most likely purely having fun in thinking about the next step he should take-desu wa.” (Mio)
“Why can you tell?” (Shiki)
Even though Mio said ‘most likely’, her tone didn’t hold any signs of being a simple guess.
It felt like she was talking while being completely sure.
Shiki was bothered by the basis of her confidence, so he questioned Mio.
“Why are you asking something like that so late in the game. In the first place, the ones that feel joy in destroying and killing, are people that have some sort of strong attachment to life and objects, you know?” (Mio)
“Waka-sama doesn’t have either of them. That’s why it is definitely impossible that he would get drunk in the action of killing. That’s the reason why-desu wa ne. You two, you were at the side of Waka-sama and didn’t notice that?” (Mio)
“Look look. That shrine maiden has used all of her weapons, and her magic power has been consumed quite a lot. Using magic power like that in Asora is a bad move-desu wa. There’s a difference between utilizing the power in this surroundings and fighting in a place where magic power is overflowing. She probably doesn’t know how to fight here.” (Mio)
“Mio, you…why did you think that Waka has no attachment to life?” (Tomoe)
“Can you please tell me?” (Tomoe)
“Why do you have that scary expression? If I had to say it simply, when Waka-sama talks about the importance of life and those kind of things, his words sound so~~ much as if he had borrowed them from somewhere else. As if he had just taken those words from someone else or from a book he read. It didn’t sound like Waka-sama truly thought that way. Ah, of course, there are exceptions you know. Waka-sama is the type of person that really treasures his family. That’s—ah!” (Mio)
“Tomoe-san, looks like it is ending.” (Mio)
Mio casually answered the question she was asked, and stopped in the middle of her words.
Makoto had come out from the darkness still cladded in his Magic Armor and charged at Touda.
The charge and the arm of the Magic Armor that was swung at Touda, neither of them had touched her.
Makoto looks up.
The figure of Touda was there, with her shrine maiden outfit damaged here and there.
“…Hm. That ability to utilize fire, water, earth, wind, light, and darkness so freely. What was that she said about only being proud of her speed-ja? She has a mastery in everything but her specialties in close combat are with the sword and spear, fire and wind in magic, and her quality is, needless to say, speed. If that’s supposed to be a jack-of-all-trades, that’s a total show off-ja na.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe had a face as if she wanted to say something, but after the words of Mio, she looked at the state of the shrine maiden and evaluated her power.
An existence that could do anything to the point that it felt like showing off.
Tomoe suddenly recalled Root as she thought of this.
“Ah, Waka-sama is planning on using Azusa.” (Shiki)
Just like he said, Makoto had finally taken out his bow as he released Brids.
Touda blocked the Brids that came at her, creating a fire whip that was longer than before, she destroyed the Brids just before they are released by Makoto in a skilfull manner as usual, but her state showed agitation.
Even if she tried to make the best use of her speed, she couldn’t find the correct timing with the accurate gatling sniping that was raining at her.
The concentration of the three followers and Touda was gathered on the arrow that Makoto was preparing.
“He is even using that?” (Tomoe)
As if wrapping up the place where Touda and Makoto are from both sides, what Tomoe referred to, were the silver arms that were opening their inorganic palms.
The space that was being wrapped, distorted in a strange manner.
The expression of Touda had distorted as well.
The blocking of the Brids had stopped, and the shrine maiden changed her defense into a concentrated barrier.
Of course, she wouldn’t be able to defend against everything with only that, and wounds were slowly piling up.
The pair of arms steadily grew closer, and as the wrapped space became smaller, the distortion of the landscape in that space grew denser as if looking at it through lens.
The Brids of Makoto stop.
The shrine maiden was being smothered by something invisible, that’s what her body showed was occurring.
It was clear that the arms were placing some sort of constraint in the space where Makoto and Touda are, but Makoto still maintained his stance holding his bow.
In time, the arms stopped in the place where the shrine maiden had been caught mid-air.
“He had her concentrate on the Brids and the bow, and then, sealed the movements of both sides huh. Splendidly done.” (Shiki)
“We might be in a territory advantage, but it makes it even more interesting that Waka is able to maintain that refreshing face against an opponent of that level.” (Tomoe)
“This was the obvious result-desu wa.” (Mio)
The shrine maiden has technically been deprived of her legs.
Looking at Makoto who had taken aim at her from the ground, Tomoe and the others had judged that this fight was over.
“It is over then.”
Looking at Touda who was caught in mid-air, I spoke to her.
I have already finished targeting her.
“…Uuugh. Not yet.” (Touda)
“That was an impressive display of physical strength and skill. You said you were the Wicked Fire General, and yet, you used things like ice and wind, and a variety of other stuff. I was truly nervous.” (Makoto)
“Even if I am told this by Goshujin-sama who was able to handle all of it, it doesn’t sound convincing… It is true that I was once called Touda. Also…the fight is still in progress.” (Touda)
“You still intend to continue? Leaving aside your stamina, your magic power seems to be practically empty already.” (Makoto)
It is not completely exhausted, but the magic power that’s left in Touda is faint.
She had used quite a lot of big moves in succession.
She also threw in counters against my Brids.
If it were me, it would be another story, but using arias of big magic attacks like that in Asora and in succession, that’s not good.
The general spell arias, when they surpass a certain point, they borrow the magic power of their surroundings and from the spirits in order to form them.
Because it is not realistic to cover for the whole cost of magic power after all.
Using magic that drops you to the floor with only one use is way too impractical.
But Asora doesn’t have overflowing magic power in its air to begin with.
The grass, trees and animals already have a dense amount inside them, so thinking that this place has thick magic power is a misconception.
If you are careful and pay attention to your magic power, you would be able to tell.
That’s why, to fight in this place normally with magic, there’s the need for a peculiar method.
It seems like Touda didn’t know that.
“I can still move, and I still have weapons remaining. I have not lost them all. I still intent to kill Goshujin-sama.” (Touda)
Words I could only feel bloodthirst from, were thrown at me.
I was only planning on using it as a decoy, but it seems like I have no choice but to shoot once.
I was unable to imagine it piercing her, so I could only picture hitting her.
At the time with Senpai, it was strangely hard to do, but it seems like it isn’t only my image that affects, there’s probably another condition I still don’t know of.
“Then, sorry but, I will be hitting you.” (Makoto)
“Victory can only be declared if you have, at the very least, incapacitated your opponent. Go ahead.” (Touda)
For a second, I felt like her eyes turned challenging.
Maybe she is truly a battle junkie just like Sofia?
It was a referral from Susanoo-sama and Daikokuten-sama, so it is a suspicion I can’t simply discard as impossible.
Anyways, the battle is over.
I move my aim slightly away from Touda’s chest and shoot her shoulder.
There was no scream.
She fell down just like that.
“I will heal you immediately. Good job.” (Makoto)
I call for Tomoe and the others.
“…It was my total lost. It was a splendid attack.” (Touda)
“I see. Ah, about your way of calling me, I don’t really like the sound of Goshujin-sama, so I want you to change it.” (Makoto)
“What should I call you?” (Touda)
“Makoto, or…well, the one that everyone calls me with: Waka.” (Makoto)
I am totally Waka-sama now after all.
It would be hard to change it now.
It is also true that I am getting used to being called that way.
“Understood. Then Makoto-sama, I may be inexperienced, but please take care of me.” (Touda)
“Here as well. Ah Touda, there’s something I want to ask you.” (Makoto)
I was going to ask her in the Shinto shrine, and I have just remembered it.
“What is it?” (Touda)
“The big tree that’s on the grounds, I saw a few on the road to the shrine as well, but…those are cherry blossoms, right?” (Makoto)
“Yes. Unfortunately, there’s no Yoshino cherry blossoms, but there’s a few different types of cherry blossoms there.” (Touda)
“As I thought. Then, is it okay to go cherry blossom viewing when the cherry blossoms bloom?” (Makoto)
“Those grounds are Makoto-sama’s belonging. Please do as you please with it. It may be a bit too soon, but if you want, how about I have them bloom?” (Touda)
For a conversation between a woman that is lying on the ground with an arrow pierced in her shoulder, it felt like an everyday talk, and that created a bizarre atmosphere.
However, there were words I couldn’t just let them slip by.
“Have them bloom, you say?” (Makoto)
“If it is a small thing like that, it is possible.” (Touda)
She said she was fire element, and yet, she had a diverse fighting style and was strangely skilfull in many fields.
Touda really must be only one of the many names she has.
But that helps me out.
“Then please do. I am feeling kind of nostalgic here you see. I was thinking it would be nice to go cherry blossom viewing with everyone.” (Makoto)
Bring everyone to check out the Shinto shrine, and do a cherry blossom viewing.
That’s two birds with one stone.
As we do a conversation like that, Tomoe and the others arrive.
There was no need for me to ask, Tomoe and Shiki begin Touda’s treatment.
“Good work, Waka-sama.” (Mio)
Mio gave me a towel.
I didn’t sweat, but since she went through the trouble of bringing it, I thank her and accept it.
Shinto shrine huh.
I direct my gaze towards the grounds.
There’s a Buddhist temple and a Parthenon temple as well, but they are probably not normal buildings.
I missed the chance to ask, so I should ask if they have some kind of outrageous function at another time.
…No well, I do think normal is best, but the shrine maiden-san here is like this after all.
But I am happy.
I can’t help feeling happy.
I don’t really know how exactly Shinto shrines are made, so I am truly happy that the end product suddenly appeared.
I will do a shrine visit every now and then, and in time, I want to try doing a festival as well.
I wonder if those kind of things will take root in Asora.
How should I explain it to everyone?
An unbelievable gift that came after the sea. I could feel my face was loosening from this.