The difference between Snoton and us was quite obvious.
Just by blocking his sword, I was pushed back a few steps by the sheer force behind it.
I felt a sharp pain run through my hands. It was incomparable to the time I fought with Mayarton.
It was a good thing that I didn’t end up letting go of my sword.
Before, I would have definitely let go of it.
The zombies behind us were charging at Eleris.
Eleris had probably decided to stop pretending that she was a low-ranking wizard. The fireballs she kept throwing were proof of that. However, Ellen didn’t have the leeway to be shocked at Eleris’s prowess.
-Kang! Kang! Kakag!
Just blocking his strikes was almost unbearable. Aside from his skill, his strength and reflexes were already on a completely different level from mine.
Fortunately, there were two of us. If he attacked one of us, he would always be exposed to the other’s attack.
I swung my sword at his back as he was deflecting Ellen’s sword.
However, he didn’t seem to care about any wounds inflicted to him, so he just swung his sword right at me. I pulled out the sword in an instant and stepped back. However, if that guy had swung even a little farther, he would have managed to cut my head off.
I stabbed him deeply, but it didn’t seem that he would die from that wound any time soon.
However, I didn’t expect that the wound would almost instantly heal itself.
Both Ellen and I looked at that scene in disbelief.
“We should cut, not stab him.”
We had to cut him and kill him in a single strike.
If it were a one-on-one, we wouldn’t have been a match for him, but the effects of our well-coordinated cooperation showed great results.
Like that, the overwhelming power difference could be overcome. Ellen and I practiced a lot with each other. Although we had never practiced for cooperative battles, we were able to predict what the other was planning on doing to some extent.
It wasn’t really because we had fantastic chemistry or anything but because we were used to fighting against each other.
The guy focused more on Ellen as if he instinctively realized that she was the more threatening party. After a few exchanges of blows, I swung my sword towards his neck.
Like slashing off the zombies’ necks before, I managed to slice through his neck while he was blocking Ellen’s swing. His head was cut off in a single swing.
The fallen head began to attach itself to his neck again.
Even though his head was just cut off and immediately returned back to him, his expression didn’t change a single bit. We couldn’t read any form of emotion from his eyes, it was as if they were completely devoid of any form of life.
When I looked at that guy, he gave off a completely different feeling than those zombies.
I felt like I was looking at a completely different being, neither human nor undead.
—Overwhelming power, reaction speed, and regeneration.
In that situation where information about the enemy was scarce, all we could do was guess.
“We have to get that sword out of his hands.”
The only clue I had was that the sword was the source of everything.
If that guy’s regenerative powers also came from that sword, then we would have to get that sword away from him, no matter what.
If that didn’t work either, we could still think of our next move after we tried.
In the worst-case scenario, we could always escape by teleporting away.
Snoton lunged at us. I was his target.
If I tried to block that, I would be pushed away by his sheer force. Hence I had to use his own force against him by deflecting it or following his strike. He obviously had the upper hand in terms of strength, but his technique was lacking.
His swordsmanship couldn’t even be compared to Ellen’s. That Ellen had been my sparring partner for quite some time.
I had learned how to react when faced with an opponent with overwhelming strength. I had to learn those skills, as Ellen far outstripped me in sheer power as well.
I was used to fighting with someone with overwhelming power!
He was distracted while attacking me and didn’t notice Ellen’s sword coming in from the side. Ellen definitely had the technical advantage, and I was also a bit superior in technique; we were also attacking him at the same time.
I wasn’t sure how things would end if we were to face that infinitely regenerating enemy one-on-one, but with the two of us, we were able to take him on. Next, he struck out towards Ellen.
Something unbelievable happened.
Ellen took that bastard’s sword strike with her body. However, rather than blood spurting out, she was covered in a light blue light.
Rather, she actually hugged that sword as if she didn’t intend to let go of it at all.
The disposable protective bracelet. I remembered it at that moment.
A single defensive artifact could create such a huge gap, huh?
My body was already reacting when she shouted.
“Just give me your fucking arm!”
I swung my sword with all my might, cutting off Snoton’s wrist.
Ellen immediately kicked the sword away as soon as it hit the ground.
The guy screamed all of a sudden and ran towards his severed hand. It was as if he just suddenly lost his temper, even though he had been completely calm up until then.
The hand did not stick back to his wrist anymore; it didn’t regenerate, either.
The sword that had been kicked away was shaking and trembling.
With that, one could say that separating the sword from him was the right answer.
Ellen hit the man in the stomach after he tried running towards the sword and knocked him out.
As if that monstrous power just up and left his body, he went out really easily. A babbling man and a humming and trembling sword were both lying on the ground.
Ellen swung Lament at Snoton, who didn’t move, and cut off his head.
With that, the man’s body, which had been trembling like crazy up until then, fell completely limp.
However, it didn’t end there.
The sword began to float in the air all of a sudden and flew off towards none other than one of the zombies Eleris was annihilating.
And then, one of the zombies ended up catching it. To be precise, it was as if he had ordered one of the zombies to catch it.
The cursed sword flew towards its next owner.
* * *
A zombie with its abilities strengthened ran towards me with that sword.
Just a single swing of the sword pushed me far back.
The sword strengthened whoever its host was.
Even if we cut off that zombie’s arm again, the sword would just fly off to a different zombie. It seemed more than clear that it controlled all the zombies around it.
If we didn’t do something about the sword itself, the situation would only repeat over and over. Eleris was doing the most important thing in getting rid of the zombie swarm. It was best to kill off all the zombies and then cut off the host’s hand.
I couldn’t keep up with that thing with my physical strength alone.
The good thing was that the thing put a lot of trust in its own power, so it just pushed ahead with that. Like that, it was possible for me to stall it a bit.
However, the burden on my body was increasing by the minute.
My whole body ached.
And I felt like that sword was actually learning. It dodged Ellen’s attack that was aimed at its arm.
Knowing that we were aiming to cut off its arm, it was only focused on those attacks.
All its other wounds would regenerate anyway. The zombie kept on recovering with the power of the sword.
-Bang! Babang! Bang!
Eleris couldn’t keep blocking that zombie horde as well. Did she think we could manage on our own? Would she be able to protect us if it really became dangerous?
Asking those kinds of questions was impossible in that situation. I had no idea if Eleris still had enough strength left, and I don’t think I would have actually believed her if she did say she could handle everything.
We had to come up with something on our own without asking Eleris for help.
I shouldn’t lean too much on my insurance.
My whole body felt numb. My wrists and shoulders felt like they were about to break every time I had to deflect those blows.
“We can’t let this become a war of attrition.”
We had to avoid a war of attrition at any rate. However, the opponent’s stamina and strength seemed endless, and just after engaging with it for a short period of time, it was already clear that we were about to be totally defeated. It was obvious that Ellen had also suffered from severe physical strain.
But how were we supposed to avoid that situation?
During that standoff, Ellen called out to me. “Reinhardt.”
If it just kept exchanging owners, then it wouldn’t be a threat anymore, so we just had to keep cutting off the host’s arm.
Ellen seemed to have determined that she was able to cut off that zombie’s arm on her own.
But if we didn’t cooperate, how were we supposed to deal with it?
“Don’t interfere from now on.”
Ellen took a deep breath.
—Before leaving for the Darklands.
‘Hey. Hit me hard.’
It was the day Loyar asked Ellen if she could die for Reinhardt, and she said she didn’t know.
Loyar told her that she had something to say to her.
‘Try to hit me wherever you want, as hard as you can.’
‘What? Ya wanna get hit instead?’
‘I’ll do it.’
As she ordered, Ellen whacked Loyar in the stomach with all her might. A sound that almost seemed like a roar could be heard, but Loyar seemed to be completely unharmed, although she got only pushed back slightly.
When she had first encountered Loyar, she controlled her strength a little, but that time, she definitely used all her power.
Although Loyar wasn’t hurt in the least, she wondered if the fist that hit her was completely broken.
‘You know what I did, right?’
‘…Body strengthening using magical power.’
Loyar was able to protect and strengthen her body with magical power.
‘There is a huge difference between someone who knows how to do this and the one who doesn’t. It’s like magic. Not everyone can do this. Just as there are only very few wizards, there are just as few people who have the talent to manage to pull off this skill.’
‘I won’t tell you why I can do it, so there’s no point in looking at me like that.’
Just as there were few people with the talent to become a wizard, there were few people who were able to strengthen their bodies with magical power, and those who could were considered to have entered the realm of superhumans. There were even fewer who managed to master this skill.
‘I mean, if you can’t use magic, you won’t be able to beat me until you kick the bucket. It would be different if you used that weird sword of yours. However, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.’
They were on markedly different levels.
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Therefore, Ellen would never be able to defeat Loyar to begin with unless she exceeded her limits.
‘I don’t think they’re gonna teach you that at Temple. Not yet, at least. If you practice this the wrong way… It’s hard to put into words, but you will die after bleeding from every pore of your body. You can’t learn magic if you aren’t smart, but this skill will cause you to bleed out if you can’t do it properly and still want to use it, so one should be very careful when teaching this skill.’
Magical Body Strengthening.
It was a double-edged sword. Therefore, only people with appropriate talents were selected to learn it and they were taught with utter care. If one did a bad job teaching them, that would cause the loss of valuable talents and lives.
‘If it’s a skill only geniuses are eligible to learn, then only geniuses can actually use it, right? So even among these geniuses, there are ordinary ones, just like there are exceptional talents among all the wizards out there. That’s how it is.’
Loyar looked at Ellen.
‘You’re going to learn this really easily.’
In her view, Ellen was a monster that couldn’t be put in any category, so she didn’t have to be all too careful teaching her it.
‘Honestly, if it’s you, you probably don’t even need anyone to teach you this stuff, right?’
It didn’t even seem necessary for her to have a teacher.
‘…I don’t know how to do that.’
At Ellen’s words, Loyar only shook her head.
‘You never tried doing it.’
She never learned it, so she never tried doing it before. That was only natural. Why would she use something she never learned how to do?
Ellen thought that the gray-haired aunty was talking weirdly.
‘You feel the magical power in your body, use it to your will, and then strengthen your body with it. Simple.’
That was an overly simplistic explanation of the concept of Magic Body Strengthening. It wasn’t something that could be summarized in just a few words, after all.
‘It sounds simple, but why can’t anyone learn it then?’
‘It only sounds simple to you.’
Loyar was confident.
‘Even though it’s hella difficult for anyone else, it’ll be hella easy for you.’
“…Why are you so sure about that?’
‘I’ve never seen anyone who’s as crazily talented as you are.’
Loyar judged that no one she had ever met in her life was more talented than Ellen.
Hoping that she would always be on Reinhardt’s side, Loyar decided to teach her this.
She didn’t really have to wait for someone to teach her this skill. It might be difficult for others, but for her it would be more than simple.
‘If I do it wrong, I’ll end up vomiting blood and die.’
‘Then that’s your fate.’
‘That’s how it is. If you ever feel sick of waiting for someone to teach you, just try to do it carefully yourself. Don’t overdo it, though. If you aren’t in a hurry, you can always just wait for Temple to teach you, right?’
‘Can’t you teach me?’
‘Why should I?’ What an irresponsible person.
But she was somewhat thankful to her as well.
That was what Ellen remembered.
And now, Ellen was faced with an incomprehensible enemy.
She didn’t give her that advice so that she could use it immediately in a real-life situation.
—Ellen realized that she had to do it to get out of her situation.
There was no reason for her to try something she had never properly learned. She didn’t even want to touch it because she knew how dangerous that technique was.
However, she had no other choice but to use it. Now she had a reason to try using it even though no one had taught her anything.
It was more than ridiculous to try to use magic without knowing a single thing about how it was done.
She could simply run away with Reinhardt using the Teleportation Scroll.
But she didn’t have the courage to simply run away.
She didn’t know how that wizard named Relya, who said that she was a low-ranking wizard, managed to fire off so many high-ranking spells all of a sudden.
After all, she still was just a single wizard.
She wouldn’t be able to deal with that monster. It was her and Reinhardt’s job to take care of that thing.
The wizard was doing her job. Perfectly, at that.
She couldn’t just leave her behind and run away.
She didn’t have the courage to leave someone to die just to save herself.
She didn’t know her well, but they had fought together multiple times.
She was neither someone precious to her nor was she someone she knew well, but she was someone that stuck with her and complied with all of her unreasonable demands. She didn’t object and followed her will without saying a single word. Ellen didn’t know what secrets she was hiding, but for now, it wasn’t something she should think about.
Relya had seemed so saddened when she told her that they were going to kill countless people, but she eventually complied even with that unreasonable plan.
She could always dig into Relya’s secrets later.
She decided not to leave her behind for now. She couldn’t abandon someone who fought for her.
It was what she told Austin.
If one wasn’t strong, one should at least be shameless.
Going by her words, she just completely failed by not choosing the option of abandoning her suspicious party member and shamelessly running away when faced with an overwhelming enemy.
She couldn’t choose that option.
In that case, she just had to be strong.
One actually had to be strong to be shameless. One had to be strong to shamelessly survive.
So now, she had to gamble with her life on the line.
—A gamble that risked her life by using a skill she had never used in her life nor learned anything about.
She didn’t have the courage to run away, so she risked her life in the name of growing stronger.
—Just like her brother did.
Since she couldn’t suppress her conscience, she ended up following the same path her older brother took, who clung so dearly to his life while under constant pressure to grow strong enough to keep his conscience.
She didn’t know how…
But she was going to do it.
The magical power in her body…
It would further boost the capabilities of its shell.
It would also add armor-like protection to her skin.
That gray-haired woman who could perform magic body strengthening so skillfully could take a full-blown swing with Lament like nothing just by using that skill. Ellen wasn’t even on the same level as her. Just because she knew how to enhance her body with magical power to some extent didn’t mean she could stop Lament’s strike so easily, though.
She probably was in the master class. That was what Ellen guessed.
She wasn’t even sure if she could utilize that skill properly.
She knew the desired result but not the process of how to get there.
That gray-haired aunty was sure that she would be able to use it without anyone having taught her.
The raw material was embedded in her body, and she was going to use it to explosively boost the overall performance of her body.
Had she ever been so focused in her life?
Had she ever been this nervous in her life?
Ellen opened her eyes as a certain kind of sense was slowly awakening in her.
At that time, Ellen’s eyes seemed to shine blue.
Her opponent was watching her.
Ellen’s body suddenly disappeared.
Her speed was beyond what a human should be able to achieve.
While hovering in the air, the tip of Ellen’s sword swung precisely towards the arm the zombie held its sword with. Blue energy was swirling all around Ellen’s body. -Kakaaang!
However, the zombie blocked her attack.
The sound of Reinhardt’s silent muttering reached Ellen’s ears.
That monster, which they hadn’t managed to push back with strength alone before, was now getting pushed away instantly.
She couldn’t run away.
If she couldn’t run away, then she was bound to get stronger.
Ellen calmly continued her attacks, assisted by her enhanced senses that would blow up her brain if she was careless.
* * *
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Ellen was pushing back that monster that had easily overpowered us in physical strength up to that point.
-Bang! Kakaang! Kang! Kang!
It tried to block Ellen’s sword strikes, but it was just getting pushed back. It seemed to be hard-pressed to defend itself.
—Magic body strengthening.
It was a core subject in Temple’s curriculum and a very important part of the main story. We were supposed to learn it starting the next year. Although everyone started learning it at the same time, only Ellen would be able to awaken to it as soon as she was taught.
All combat talent students had to practice that skill and go through various trials and errors. It was a well-known fact that some people wouldn’t awaken that skill even after graduating.
After awakening to the skill, Ellen quickly reached the level of a superhuman.
However, history had changed.
Ellen succeeded in awakening her magical power through her own strength.
[Achievement reached – Superhuman (Ellen Artorius)]
[Ellen Artorius entered the path towards becoming a superhuman faster than originally intended.]
[You received 500 Achievement Points.]
Ellen changed history, but I couldn’t care less about that achievement at the moment. I couldn’t intervene in her fight.
I killed some Zombies that Eleris had missed one after the other so that they wouldn’t interfere in Ellen’s fight. Their degree of decay was much higher than those of Klitz Point, and it was hard to fight them with such a disgusting smell coming from those things and their even more disgusting appearance.
Cutting off their heads, I managed to kill every zombie that tried to approach Ellen.
-Bang! Bang! Bang!
I couldn’t even call that the sound of swords hitting against swords anymore. It sounded like the roar of heavy weapons whacking against each other.
Ellen, who used magic body strengthening, was giving off blue energy from all over her body. She looked like a bonfire.
And with a single blow, she opened the zombie’s chest.
Ellen went straight for the monster’s defenseless arm. Like that, the sword left another pair of hands once again.
Then, Ellen beheaded the zombie after it lost the sword. Ellen had succeeded in cutting off the sword’s host’s arm for a second time.
-Urg! Cough! Cough!
However, as soon as Ellen dealt with the zombie, she began to cough up blood. It was already a miracle that she managed to use magic body strengthening, which he had never used in her life before. Of course, there had to be some side effects.
The situation was dire.
The sword began to move on its own again.
It was trying to find its next host.
Ellen was incapacitated. If that thing found its next host, there would be no way out.
I couldn’t afford to completely rely on Eleris.
I had to do something.
I had to do something!
“This… Fucking shit!”
I flung myself forward and grabbed the handle of that sword that was about to fly through the air again.
I used Revise.
I can’t be controlled by that sword!
[The Revision cannot be performed.]
However, my expectations were completely betrayed. Couldn’t I do something so that I wouldn’t be controlled by the sword? Was there such a powerful curse placed on that sword?
But that wasn’t the reason.
[Your Talent ‘Sacred Spirit’ is protecting you.]
The Attribute I got from Olivia Lanze, Sacred Spirit, was protecting me.