The White Swordswoman’s Brutal and Irritating Battle
The blurs of black and white smashed through and passed by one another at impossible speed, each clash resonating with the sound of trees crashing to the ground and the screech of metal-on-metal.
A black mass that rivalled the dark contour of his mount’s hide struck out from the end of Marion’s lance, a shockwave of pure magical energy ripping through the forest.
Impossible physical agility. Even if she had used magic to augment her movements, the way she turned in the air to avoid that was beyond human ability. Shirley swept past, the blades in her hand blurring to draw a beautiful crimson flower alongside a wave of blue water… But that beauty belied the true terror of the raining blows she hammered against Marion, with the full intent of piercing through his plated armour.
However, even though those strikes would easily pierce through steel, Shirley’s flashing swords didn’t leave a dent in Marion’s armour.
(All of his weapons and armour are made of the same black metal, which must mean impact his magic conductivity isn’t as strong as it could be, although opting for black mithril armour still gives him a lot of manoeuvrability… But, that’s not all.)
As she struck at his armour, Marion swung his blade around at her with lightning speed, a blow she avoided by a hair.
Her sword hadn’t even scratched that armour of his. Although most opponents would be completely overwhelmed by Shirley’s assault, Marion stood firm and even counterattacked viciously, something she couldn’t help but begrudgingly respect as she moved to the defensive.
But, Marion also had similar feelings.
As Marion leapt and thrust at her with his lance, she stamped its point into the dirt with her boot and used it as a springboard to launch herself at her airborne opponent.
There was no way she should have been able to parry a blow that shook the very foundations of the forest itself with merely her boot. Yet, although Marion thought he had struck a killing blow, Shirley had both managed to completely kill his momentum and subsequently knock him back with a blow of her own, which he barely managed to guard in time.
“Ahahahaha! How commendable! To think that an enemy standing against me would act so fearlessly before my spear! It has truly been a long time since I’ve felt like this when face to face with a foe!”
“I don’t care about your flattery… Tch. Get out of my sight right now, Black Saintly Spear.”
The twin blades clashed against that dark lance, illuminated against the night by the flying sparks that rained between them. However, as elated as Marion seemed to be, Shirley’s thoughts only got more frantic and impatient with every blow they exchanged.
(What if the Phantom Thief uses some kind of trick to defeat Canary…!? Sophie and Tio will be in danger…!)
Shirley was at her wit’s end not being able to be at her daughters’ side in a situation as dire as this. She wanted to end or escape this fruitless battle as soon as she could, but the man in front of her didn’t seem to leave her a single opening to do so.
“Don’t be so cold! If you’re going to act like that, it will make me wonder if it was really worth taking up the invitation of the Phantom Thief at all! Let us decide who truly is the greatest warrior in all the land, a battle of the sexes!”
“As I said, I don’t care about such things…!”
Battle Junkies… She had heard of these people from rumours floated around at the adventurers guild, but for Shirley who had never been troubled by such people before couldn’t help but think her first run-in with this type had come at the worst possible time.
What’s more, this particular opponent was formidable enough that if she put even a foot wrong, she could find herself losing her head in the blink of an eye. He didn’t seem interested in listening to her either, completely focused on the fight. To say it was troublesome would be an extreme understatement.
(What a pest…! I want to just ignore him and get back to the castle, but…)
When Shirley realized there was no way to escape this fight, she grit her teeth in bitter anger.
As their weapons clashed dozens, then hundreds of times, Shirley consciously compared her own skill and power to Marion’s.
Shirley had the slight upper hand when it came to speed, but when it came to raw strength, Shirley couldn’t even compare to Marion. And from her point of view, his martial talent was on-par with Shirley’s.
(If I show him my back for even a moment, he’ll take my head straight away.)
When one reaches a certain level of mastery in battle, its as if they can wrap invisible chains around the foe they’re facing, completely removing the option to flee and forcing them to stand their ground.
Shirley had never truly developed any tricks or techniques for eluding or escaping an opponent, for when has she ever had to? And for that matter… When was the last time she had ever been truly pressed in battle like this?
Was it when she fought the monster in the Valonian ruins? Or perhaps when she faced the Golden Witch herself, when Canary took charge of her training as a rookie?
“If that’s the case, my only option to get back is to defeat you as quickly as possible.”
“Oho!? So, you’ve finally got some motivation, I see!? …Hah!”
Both keeping pace with and towering above Shirley on his massive mount, Marion thrust downwards at her with his lance.
Shirley crossed her two blades together to deflect the blow… But, as she received the strike, the ground around her was torn up and the epaulette on her shoulder was blown away as the lance pierced through, red blood scattering across her white skin.
Even though the wound was healed straight away due to her being a semi-immortal, Shirley realized immediately that it had taken more of a toll on her physical and magical strength than she had expected.
“Our blades, our brains, our means to battle! Whoever comes out on top here can claim pre-eminence on the field of battle!”
Since there were no overwhelming advantages on either side when it came to skill or speed, the battle would be decided by tactics, as well as the equipment they had brought to bear.
At any rate, when it came to the latter, Shirley was at a clear disadvantage. Her lack of armour aside, her blades were being kept at bay by the long reach of Marion’s spear, as he attacked her from several meters above her atop his dragon mount.
A human being’s body wasn’t suited to dealing with attacks coming from overhead. Of course, such a disadvantage typically wouldn’t phase someone of Shirley’s calibre, but when the playing field was evened out against an opponent of similar skill it was a different story altogether.
As the two masters clashed against one another, it was this difference that was driving Shirley further and further back.
“《Dragon Mount ・Come Forth》”
But, Shirley hadn’t yet played her full deck.
Taking advantage of the split-second opportunity she had gained by pressing Marion and his mount back with a furious counterattack, she immediately cast a spell.
There was a tear in the fabric of the air between them, from which a riding dragon from the frontier town’s adventurer’s guild was summoned… However, it was barely half the size of Marion’s mount.
“Oho… How interesting! You dare to joust in the air with me, against my mighty lance!?”
Without responding to Marion’s provocation, Shirley jumped up and mounted the dragon. Without even touching its reins, she held those two swords of hers at her side.
Responding to her challenge, Marion raised his shield and held his lance steady, he too not holding the reins. Despite those dragons shaking intensely beneath them as their wings flapped thunderously, buffeting the ground with wind.
(This still doesn’t even the odds enough.)
As things stood, their battle would now continue in the air as they jousted back and forth, but in reality, the portents of the battle had not changed decisively.
Even if Shirley now had her own mount, she couldn’t deny that the dragon that Marion rode had a much stronger build.
The mount she had summoned was only the smaller variety that Shirley typically used on long-ranging adventures. It wouldn’t be enough to completely negate Marion’s height advantage.
(It should at least limit his options, though.)
As it was, neither of them had the opportunity to strike at each other’s mounts. Because of the constant dance of attack and defense that flowed like water between them, for Shirley or Marion to take their eyes off their opponent for a second to attack the mount they sat on would be the same as signing their own death warrants.
Then, the path Shirley should take was clear. As if in a proud demonstration of that fact, she stood up atop her dragon, swinging down at Marion with Ig-Alima in a way that countered the advantage he had held in height.
“As I thought! To be able to produce such finery with the blade despite standing on such unstable ground, you really are a swordswoman worthy of the name Demonic White Blade!”
Despite this, Marion remained calm, even praising his opponent. As he deflected her strike with his shield, he counterthrust at Shirley’s stomach with his lance. He had expected her to either dodge his strike or parry his blow by using Sul-Sagana, however…
Marion yelled out in surprise for the first time in their battle, as his arm that thrust forward with his spear was suddenly yanked to the side. When his eyes flicked over to look at his upper arm, he saw that her red blade had somehow wrapped itself tightly around his forearm like a snake constricting its prey.
He pulled back hard on the chain. Using his overpowering strength, he pulled Shirley into the path of his still onrushing spear.
Despite twisting around as fast as she could to avoid its barb, the part of the uniform around her stomach was completely blown away and she had to jump off the dragon as well.
“Muooooooo…! You almost had me, Demonic White Sword! To think that you can even hide the true nature of your blade in such a way! Such mastery over all manner of swords… You truly are a warrior worthy of being my rival!”
“Just keep saying whatever you like…”
Due to the momentum, Marion himself also fell from his mount in pursuit. Both kept a stance as they fell, facing each other in readiness as soon as their feet hit the ground. As they squared off like this, it didn’t seem that either of them would find the opportunity to remount.
“Very well… From here on out, we shall truly test our mettle.”
The black dragon didn’t seem to have any intention of interfering with the fight, slowly floating away from the two of them, so Shirley likewise sent her own mount back to where it came from with magic.
At the same time, the tip of Marion’s lance changed with a mechanical whir, suddenly forming into three thick points, almost akin to a trident. Just like she had shown him earlier, his weapon also had the potential to change its shape. Once more, Shirley raised her blades.
“Fufuu… You seemed completely preoccupied with whatever was happening back at the castle until a little while ago, but have you finally decided to see me as an opponent you truly must defeat now?”
“Yes. That’s because, even if I simply leave you be as it is, you will inevitably come back to the castle. I’m sure the only way I can avoid that is by battling you until you’re satisfied.”
“That’s excellent to hear… However, are you sure that is fine? Even I do not know what that Phantom Thief is up to in the castle right now?”
There’s no way it could be fine. Yet even if she said that, there was no chance the man facing her would let her go so easily, but…
“You shouldn’t make underestimate me… Us so much. Even if you put Canary and I aside, there is a lot more to our group than you think.”
“Then all is well! I’m glad that we can truly face each other, then! To shed the blood of a distracted opponent wouldn’t give me my fill at all!!”
The overwhelming fighting spirit turned into overflowing magical energy as it raged between the two of them, kicking up dust and swirling leaves.
“In battle, one should always put their body and soul on the line! Now, face me!!”
The white and black blurs clashed at such a speed that it looked like an illusory trick of the light.