Episode 81: Battle against a demon.
The battle between Agni, the demon-class Spiritual Beast and the knights had begun.
“This goat bastard! ”
Barrès, the knight from the Empire, slashed at it while raising a cry.
His aim was its head, a head that was shaped like a devil. His was an incredible slash, at a speed you wouldn’t think possible for such a huge sword.
“Barrès-dono, I’ll assist you! ”
Orn’s Knight Guard, Lienhardt followed after him. From the opposite side of Barrès, he aimed at a vital point of the monster with his long sword.
A swordsmanship fitting of his title of 《Ten Swords》. With the tip of that sword, he thrusted with a speed a normal person wouldn’t be able to follow.
These two knights were from completely different countries, practicing a totally different technique. However, that attack was a perfect combination.
Most likely, it was cooperation born from their previous battle together against the Black Wolf-type Spiritual Beasts. And considering the height of both swords strikes, it was an unavoidable scenario.
“Tch! You goat bastard! ”
“Are you for real!? ”
However, their attacks were stopped.
They bounded off of a huge scythe that suddenly appeared in the hands of the demon Agni. Even Barrès’ sword, that was as huge as him, looked small in comparison.
“You two, step back! ”
The girl jumped to defend the two after their attacks were deflected.
Sildria, the Valkyrie Knight, kicked off a cloud of dust as she accelerated and slashed at the enemy.
“This is payment for before! ”
Putting her whole weight on it, she slashed at the defenseless head of the goat demon. It was a deadly blow from a Valkyrie Knight whom could even pierce a thick plate of iron armor.
However, this surprise attack made with exquisite timing couldn’t connect with the Demon.
Shifting its center of gravity, Agni quickly moved its body and received Sildria’s sword edge with the scythe. And making a counter attack, it blew her away. This was most likely a technique that used the opponent’s strength against them.
Still, the blown away Sildria was able to stand back up with great pains.
“Don’t give it time to rest!! ”
“Barrès-dono, let’s aim both up and down now! ”
Barrès and Lienhardt then went to the offensive again. They were more aggressive than the first time, and their sword strikes rained on the Demon like a whirlwind of slashes.
The battle taking place was one where nobody could approach due to the continuous exchange from both swordsmen.
“Damn, the big shield was!? ”
“What, skinny dude!? Tch, this guy is tough! ”
Lienhardt’s compound armor shield failed to endure. It fell prey to the huge scythe of the Demon and was cut.
In response to this chance, Barrès slashed at the Demon’s chest using all his power. However, the blade’s edge bounced back while making a high-pitched sound.
The core, the supposedly weak point of the Demon, was actually too hard.
“You two, don’t stop your hands! Attack, keep attacking! ”
“Princess! That was my intention even without you saying it! ”
“I can’t afford to lag behind the knights of the Empire! ”
The three knights gripped their swords harder than ever before. And so, they continued to attack the Demon, who possessed an overwhelming power.
Since then, some time had passed. The fierce battle against the Demon had come to a standstill.
“This guy is crazy. Right, Lienhardt.”
“Yeah, it’s on a completely different level from the Black Wolves…… Barrès.”
“Is this the nightmarish Demon which was written in the ‘Chronicles of the Hisan Emperor’……?”
Taking some distance from their opponent, the three knights changed their expressions. So far, their swordsmanship moves had all been by intuition. This demon, Agni, was in a completely different dimension compared to the previous Spiritual Beasts, the Black Wolves.
The knights had grown rapidly by defeating the Black Wolves. Especially when it came to fighting against Spiritual Beasts, they had gained enough experience to be called the most experienced in the continent.
However, even to these three skilled knights, this demon was on a whole different level.
Even a single of their blows wasn’t an effective hit, bringing them fear. Alarm bells rang inside their heads, telling them that they couldn’t win against it, instinctively causing fear.
Even Barrès, with his beastly fighting spirit, was now stuck with despair and doubt.
“I see, is it because it’s humanoid that it can use skills?”
As I observed the back and forth between the three, I opened my mouth.
The gathering of information about the demon-class Spiritual Beast was now complete.
I didn’t offer my support to the knights, and instead, carefully watched the movements of the humanoid spiritual beast. There was the risk of losing a comrade, but I believed in the three knights and continued to look for the true nature of the sense of discomfort I felt from the enemy.
『Hee, did you guys see Agni-kun’s movements? 』
The mysterious boy calling himself “Spiritual Beast Master” spoke.
“Kamajutsu (scythe) and Joujutsu (short staff), and also some Taijutsu, huh?”
『Agni-kun has a really good memory. He remembers the skills of all the lower species that he has killed and eaten up until now. 』
The mysterious boy explained so. A mocking smile reflected on his face, like that of someone boasting his toy.
He was someone who evoked unpleasant feelings just by looking at him.
“Yamato of Urd, bastard…… were you using us as bait!? ”
“Calm down, Barrès. I’m sure Yamato has a plan. For now, focus on the enemy in front of us.”
The Empire’s swordsman Barrès, feeling like he was being used, yelled in exasperation. If not for Lienhardt that moved to stop him, he would’ve likely taken a swing at me.
That was a funny reaction, considering that such a dangerous existence was in front of him. The huge swordsman who was like a mass of fighting instinct had clearly transformed like a different person.
“I see. So it was that.”
Now I knew the nature of this strange sense of inconsistence coming from the demon, Agni. With this, I was able to solve the last puzzle.
“‘Fear’, huh……Does it have the ability to induce Fear? And to mimic the skills of everyone it fights?”
“Are you saying I’m scared of it!? ”
Sildria voiced her disagreement with my guess. Being aware that she was subjected to that skill, she couldn’t believe she had fallen for it.
『Heee……So, you’ve noticed Agni-kun’s skill? This “Fear Reflection” （Counter・Fear）. 』
“Counter Fear, huh? ……I don’t know on what principle it works, but it seems to have the effect of giving a terrible fear effect depending on the opponent, right?”
『Hmph……It’s amazing you managed to analyze it in this short amount of time. Still, even if you know about it, you can’t prevent Counter Fear. After all, the stronger the body and mind has trained, the greater the fear it will induce into you, causing your downfall! 』
The mysterious boy proudly explained his secret card, almost as if showing off. Regardless of how you train your mind, this was an attack that caused increasing fear proportionally.
In other words, the more skills the knight was, the more powerful Counter Fear was.
“Certainly, that might be true.”
When I saw the Demon Agni, I felt true fear for the first time since I was born. An aversion that made my whole body stand on edge.
However, this fear gave a sense of incongruity, making me aware of this ability.
“Tch……So that’s why. This is bad……I can barely move my hands……”
“Barrès, you too? This is disgraceful, but I feel as if my heart would get crushed……Just standing here is taking all my efforts.”
After listening to the boy’s words, Barrès and Lienhardt finally understood the situation they were in.
They were strong men who had lived through many battlefields by imposing on themselves rigorous training. Not only their bodies, but also their mental resilience far surpassed that of ordinary people.
However, right now, that toughness worked against them, turning into excruciating fear. This was the terrifying power of the demon Agni, who had slaughtered great warriors.
“Counter Fear, huh?……Interesting.”
Advancing past the knights who couldn’t move, I walked forward. And then, I stood in front of the demon holding the huge scythe.
“Yamato, that’s dangerous! ”
“Danna, please step back! ”
The voices of Sildria and Lacq’s scream echoed. Those yells claimed it was dangerous to fight this enemy without proper countermeasures.
“It’s fine. Right now, I’ll show you how to render Counter Fear useless.”
『Ohh……What a funny joke. You say you will win against Agni-kun? Whom hasn’t been defeated by any hero in the last few hundred years? 』
The boy reacted with a twitch on his face and responded.
He never thought there would be any fools who would challenge Agni head-on after knowing of the Counter Fear ability.
“Enough of the self-boasting. Here I come……Agni! ”
Thus, I charged head-on towards the Demon Agni.