Time to End This
Marion pulled back his arm with lance in hand while Shirley held Shul Shagana at her side with an ocean of scattered wood chips floating around them.
The both of them stood at the ready, prepared to bring certain death to the other. A slight delay from either of them would mean certain death. Yet despite their raging spirits, their hearts were as calm and pristine as a clear lake.
Shirley was the first to make a move in this scene where a single moment could decide the result. She held Igarima out as a shield to parry any oncoming attacks as her other crimson blade flashed forward in a single, straight slash.
A secret sword art capable of breaking the speed of sound, Shadow Severance. A drawing technique that that allows Shirley, whose martial skill had delved into the realm of magic, to penetrate any object that stands in her way and only cut what she wants to cut. It is the same technique she used to bisect the Empire’s castle and slay the ancient dragon.
This instant death technique touched Marion’s black armor…….and yet Marion had yet to make any big moves. He did not move his body to try and dodge the sword’s blade or push out his lance to counterattack.
It was a scene where anyone watching would be convinced they would be seeing Marion’s body cut in two in the next second………however――――
“Victory…….belongs to me!”
The swordplay of the Demonic White Sword could be said to have already reached the level of magic, but you could say the same thing of the Black Saintly Spear’s lancework.
Shirley’s chest was run through by a lance. Despite the fact that Shirley’s sword should have been able to cut down Marion before his lance could have pierced her.
The Black Saintly Spear has thrust his lance billions, trillions of times throughout his life. Monster, trees, boulders, seas, and the bodies of a countless number of enemy warriors. Marion had repeated that same thrust time and time again on everything that stood before him until the point that all that accumulated experience pushed his technique forward into the realm of the divine.
In practice, it is a thrust that completely disregards the matter of who attacked first. A deadly thrust that twists time itself to pierce his enemy before they have time to counter attack, time to defend, or even time to dodge.
Twisting time to pierce his enemy before they could possibly react, Marion’s Rapid Shadow technique crushed Shirley’s heart.
(Semi-immortal or not, she won’t be able to move with her heart crushed.)
The greater the damage to the body, the more physical and magical energy it takes to heal those injuries. Even a semi-immortal with strong mana will be incapacitated for a while if a gaping hole is carved into their chest.
All that’s left is to strike her weakness, the head. Marion was convinced of his victory having felt the sensation of his spear piercing through flesh and bone.
“No, the game isn’t over yet.”
……or so he believed, until the body hanging off the end of his lance disappeared like smoke.
(A trick……but I never sensed her using any magic.)
Marion thought she had used some kind of spell to create an alter-ego, but he just as quickly wrote that off as impossible.
Even though he isn’t any good at using magic himself, he does have a knack for following an opponent’s magic power along with their presence. It was through pure experience that he deduced that Shirley had not used any magic.
However, setting aside the presence and bloodlust he felt, Marion was positive that his lance had indeed pierced flesh. What he was looking at now was a level of supernatural skill that went above and beyond the common sense of this world.
(Could the Demonic White Sword have truly made a duplicate image this elaborate without using any magic!?)
As Marion’s lancework bent time, Shirley’s footwork bent space.
Footwork is exceedingly important in close quarters combat, and Shirley’s footwork had already reached the realms of magic by combing high speed movement, afterimages, and shukuchi.
A supernatural technique capable of creating a false image with mass using the body of herself from a parallel world as a substitute. It was this false image of a Demonic White Sword from a parallel world Shirley created that Marion pierced.
Despite being an after image, it retains a level of mass…….so the attack, bloodlust, and feel of cutting flesh were all there. However, because of how elaborate the steps are to pull it off, the image itself is very fragile.
Not even Marion would be able to guess at a glance that the Demonic White Sword had summoned a perfect replica of herself without having used any magic.
The Demonic White Sword’s secret technique, the Haze Clone, was able to completely throw off the Black Saintly Spear and created a huge opening.
(I screwed up…….!)
This is when the surprise attack is sprung. It’s what he would do if he were in her position.
Marion moved so rapidly it felt like his muscles might tear off from his bone as he jumped into a defensive stance. However no matter how long he waited, the blow he was convinced would come never did.
What the hell is going on? A huge question mark hung over his head as he once again searched the area for any signs of life.
He immediately found another presence. Any living creature that lived in this forest had already escaped away from the days long battle, so it was almost certainly Shirley. She was a little ways away behind some bushes and trees, possibly trying to hide.
She had blended herself well into the forest, but it was impossible to hide yourself completely from the Black Saintly Spear’s superhuman senses. With a single swing of his lance, Marion created enough force of wind to blow those trees away, leaving Shirley in full open view.
“……….fuu. I am healed.”
She was sitting upright with both her swords sitting at her side as if she had given up the fight as she gazed at a photo. The photo in her hand was one of Sophie and Tio, something she usually keeps in her pocket as a talisman. It’s a precious gem she would protect even during the fiercest of battles, sacrificing clothes and blood to make sure it didn’t get even a nick, but that protectiveness wasn’t the problem here.
It’s crazy to waste your momentary advantage in battle to pull something like that out. Moreover, on closer inspection Marion found a half-eaten wild fruit laying on top of her lap.
While looking directly at Marion, Shirley plopped the rest of the fruit into her mouth while sliding her photo back into her pocket. Yet even during such a leisurely moment, Marion did not attack.
His brain had completely stopped functioning from confusion over seeing this woman taking actions that have absolutely nothing to do with their fight. This mental lapse didn’t go on for very long, but it did give Shirley more than enough time to pick up her swords and rise to her feet.
“How…….are you able to act so relaxed in a situation like this!?”
“To be honest, I have been feeling dizzy after being unable to see my daughters these past three days. My condition would become debilitating if I didn’t do at least this much. ………Besides”
Swords clashed with lance once again, a swath of destruction radioing out from their clash and mowing down any nearby trees, but Shirley’s movements showed a dramatic change this time around.
Rather than sleeping or eating, it is seeing her daughters, even if it’s just a picture of them, that is the best way for Shirley to recover. The convulsions from the withdrawal symptoms have been temporarily abated, and she’s now able to finally demonstrate her true ability.
“I have finally returned to normal, so it’s time to finish this.”
Shirley’s speed was clearly different than it had been without the muscle spasms these past two days. With the dramatic edge added on to her swordsmanship, she was capable of pushing Marion back immediately.
As Igarima and Shulshagana clashed off of the black lance, the backs of the two blades overlapped, forming into one. Combining into a singular bluish purple magical weapon, Shirley lifted her new sword above her head and swung it down.
A tremendous slash that split the earth and cut a nearby mountain right down the middle. Marion was able to guard against even that, but it was quickly becoming clear that Shirley intended on ending this fight immediately. Realizing as much, Marion raised an angry shout.
“Are you that set on concluding this with me!?”
“A foolish question…… I don’t have the free time to deal with you forever!”
The bluish purple blade broke down into its original blue and red swords. Then spinning her hips, she delivered a swirling storm of slashes.
The Demonic White Sword’s secret technique, Spiral Blade. Her two blades fired off a swarm of slashes spiraling through the air like a pair of giant snakes, crashing against Marion’s armor until his entire body began to be lifted up into the air and pushed away.
“I……I won’t accept this as the enddddddd……….!”
Marion rose up further and further towards the stars, only able to shout out a passing remark before being swallowed by the tornado created by Shirley’s slashes and flying off into the air.
“Begone…….and never come back.”
Shirley almost fell to one knee after everything had finished, but she managed to beat back that weariness and pulled out her pocket watch from the Hero’s Toolbox. Her magic tool capable of teleporting herself to her daughters when they need rescuing was beeping.
“Has something already happened…….!”
Shirley rammed the pocket watch’s bezel, praying that Kyle and the other had managed to protect Sophie, Tio, and Hilda.
Space distorted and instantly transferred Shirley to her daughters’ side……..is how it was supposed to work, but after the space magic embedded inside the watch was finished, Shirley found herself just outside the capital’s walls.
“It’s you? Then you’ve finally finished.”
As Shirley stared bewilderingly up towards the city wall, Canary moved next to her. Her hands scribbling out a countless number of magic circles as she walked.
Shirley looked at her suspiciously for a moment wondering why she was here, but as she soon realized the reason, she unconsciously grimaced.
“I knew it was a possibility, but were you actually outsmarted? Are you trying to bring shame to the name Golden Witch?”
“It couldn’t be helped!? There was nothing wrong with my magic or abilities, but I never imagined he would use a technique like that……..!”
Anger and humiliation. Shirley turned her head away feeling a small mixture of shame and joy seeing Canary like that.
“So what’s the situation?”
However now wasn’t the time. Shirley turned her gaze towards the wall of the capital. Her special ability allows her to see that which is hidden, thus revealing to her a magic circle projecting out a second translucent shield that covers the entire city.
“The entire space around the capital is out of phase, preventing anyone from physically reaching it. There’s also a bonus function that automatically repairs the spell if it’s destroyed. With how prominently is has been affixed, I suppose it would be difficult even for you to break it?”
“You’ll have your run of the place in just a minute.”
Shirley looked over the enormous complicated magic circle while swinging her sword. It’s not the type of magic you would be able to understand just by looking at it. She would like to say it is just as she would expect that Canary would be able to undo such super advanced magic as this in only a moment, but Shirley was more concerned than that.
“Shifting something out of phase…….isn’t that your specialty? I am surprised this man is able to use such magic.”
“Well, that’s because I taught it to him long ago.”
………and then, Shirley got back an answer she never expected to hear come from Canary’s mouth.
“…….what are you saying? I thought it was strange you were so easily overtaken, but the two of you know each other?”
“Well I suppose. Anyhow, this ‘Phantom Thief’ was a familiar of mine long ago during my youth. He reported directly to me, so he is familiar with my techniques. That is why he knew how to escape from me.”
Shirley held her aching head as a shocking truth was revealed in the lightest of tones.
“And you didn’t notice until now? Given his history, you haven’t seen him in a couple hundred years right?”
“That guy has always specialized in transformations, concealment, and escaping. His personality however is the exact opposite from what it was, so I never thought about it. ……..but then he screwed around with my head to show me that repulsive illusion. He’s messing with memories nobody else should touch………oh the things I’m going to do to him the next time I see him.”
Magic power leaked from Canary’s body alongside her overflowing anger, cracking the ground beneath her feet and raising a number of rocks around her into the air. She’s always been a fiercely emotional person, but it was rare for her anger to leak through this much.
“……by the way, if this Phantom Thief was once your familiar, why is he hostile towards you now?”
“Hmph…….it’ll take a while if I tell you everything, but to summarize…….”
Canary got this faraway look in her eye after Shirley asked something she had been curious about.
“Around a thousand years ago I seduced a semi-immortal lolicon and forced him to become my familiar, but for some reason he hated working under me. One day he simply cancelled the contract and ran away.”
Feeling angry just thinking about it, Canary started to complain with a stern look on her face.
“…….honestly, to be so ungrateful after I caught him trying to kidnap a girl a thousand years ago and only forced him to procure some resources off the moon, salvage a treasure that had sunk to the bottom of the sea, act as bait for a giant fish that swam through lava, and run as my gofer a hundred times a day in return. I always let him off easy whenever he disobeyed me by only burying him alive in a desert as punishment too. I really was a pitiful child to have my familiar betray me when I was so young………hold on just a minute! Let’s just slowly put those swords down!”
“So you’re telling me all of this is happening because you don’t know how to properly manage your subordinates? And now you’ve gotten my daughters involved!”