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Let’s be an Adventurer! ~Defeating Dungeons with a Skill Board~ 148

 

Let’s Fight The Hero Masatsugu!

 

 

A slight leak of energy overflowed from his body.

The next moment…

 

“–!!”

 

Masatsugu was right in front of him.

Haruki quickly tried to defend himself.

Right on the verge of contact, Haruki prevented Masatsugu’s attack with his short sword.

 

He couldn’t win by sheer strength alone.

Against a strength that could easily immobilize him, he chose to dodge.

But Masatsugu pushed faster than how Haruki could dodge.

 

There was no escape.

All he could do was to relax his muscles and try to rotate.

The branch made a horrible sound as it passed by Haruki.

 

He stepped back immediately.

However…

 

“Gaaah!!”

 

Masatsugu’s kick hit Haruki right in the middle of his stomach as he tried to create a space between each other.

 

How much power was in that kick?

Haruki was sent flying for about 5 meters and then rolled several times on the ground.

 

Fearing a follow-up attack, he immediately got up.

 

“Haah… Haahh…”

 

Fortunately, Masatsugu did not pursue Haruki.

There was no need for that.

The game was already set. It was Haruki’s defeat.

 

“Again?”

“…Sure!”

 

Haruki bowed and took up his short sword one more time.

 

Unlike Shigure’s attacks, he could see Masatsugu’s attacks coming.

However, he was overwhelmingly faster than Shigure.

 

His movements made full use of his physical ability and weren’t technique-based.

 

However, he wasn’t attacking with his full power.

That kick when Haruki tried to pull back felt as if it could have been even worse.

 

(Not yet!)

 

Haruki regained his spirit, and this time went for an attack.

But he missed.

 

Masatsugu kept out of his short sword’s reach, as if he had seen the attack coming from miles away.

If Haruki were to try to close the distance, he would most likely end up receiving a painful counterattack.

However, even though Masatsugu was out of his reach, he was within range of Masatsugu’s weapon.

 

“…Tsk!”

 

Haruki’s attack was met with Masatsugu’s own strike.

 

In the blink of an eye…

The branch became blurry.

 

His field of view was reversed.

An impact on his back.

Haruki found himself collapsed on the floor, facing upwards.

 

His legs felt numb.

It seemed that he had been struck with that branch.

 

“What do you say?”

“One more time, please!”

 

From that point on, Haruki started fighting recklessly.

 

Too far ahead, thought Haruki.

Masatsugu was way out of his league.

 

Masatsugu was clearly going easy on him, but still was making short work of him.

 

(I didn’t feel this much distance back when I was fighting Shigure!)

 

Haruki felt sorry for himself.

However, he was much weaker back when he fought Shigure.

That’s why Shigure too had gone easy on him.

 

Knowing that made Haruki feel even more frustrated.

He was disappointed in himself for not having realized she had gone easy on him.

 

Haruki imagined Shigure going easy on him, and then felt miserable for thinking he had become stronger.

 

“Uooooooohhhh!!”

 

Haruki screamed and slashed at Masatsugu.

Masatsugu would send him flying over and over, and he would roll on the ground over and over…

 

His pain and his impatience were driven away by his concentration, as he gradually entered the realm of silence.

 

All of his consciousness was focused on the battle.

His consciousness read every movement.

 

Haruki was driven only by those reactions.

 

 

Masatsugu was using only about 60% of his full power as he fought with the masked man.

 

But even though it was only 60% of his power, Masatsugu was still an adventurer who had reached deeper than the 50th floor of Shinjuku Station.

Even 60% of his power would be too much for any adventurer who had yet to reach the lower levels of a dungeon to handle.

 

In fact, the masked man hadn’t been able to deal with Masatsugu at all.

If he had been a regular adventurer, it would have been a one-sided battle that would have ended in a heartbeat.

 

But Masatsugu thought this was just about right.

 

An adventurer who wishes to be stronger would be an important force when capturing dungeons.

If he was such an adventurer, Masatsugu wanted him to join Team Braver.

If he wanted to improve himself, it would be best to belong to the best team.

 

But if he wasn’t, then that would be it.

Team Braver had no need for adventurers who had no desire to become stronger.

 

Masatsugu was like that not just to keep Team Braver as the strongest team.

Some adventurers despised Masatsugu and Team Braver, claiming they were just desperate to protect their position.

They would post things like “Do they need to go that far just to be the strongest?”

 

But Masatsugu was like that only because he wanted to erase the dungeons from Japan.

It wasn’t to protect his status as the strongest adventurer, nor to be famed as a hero.

 

Masatsugu didn’t allow the masked man, who used a short sword, to get near him.

The battle was going just as he intended.

 

However, the wind strangely shifted direction at some point.

 

“…Hmm?”

 

The masked man avoided his attacks.

Masatsugu squinted at his movements.

 

Just a moment ago, the masked man hadn’t even been able to react to Masatsugu’s attacks.

But now, instead of trying to block it with his weapon, he had suddenly avoided his attack.

 

(Was it a coincidence?)

 

Without thinking twice, Masatsugu attacked the masked man once again.

However…

 

(Wha–!?)

 

He also avoided that attack.

 

Dodging an attack two times in a row was unlikely to be just a coincidence.

Masatsugu increased his wariness.

 

(…How about this?)

 

He attacked the masked man with even more force than before.

Masatsugu used a feint to close the distance with the masked man and delivered a powerful kick.

 

However, the masked man avoided that as well.

 

(–Tch!!)

 

He clicked his tongue and struck back.

He swung his branch about with all his might.

Masatsugu’s weapon collided with the masked man’s short sword, sending the latter flying away.

 

Masatsugu won that match, the next match, and the match following that one.

His victory streak had been unwavering.

 

However, by the time they were having their 20th match, Masatsugu noticed something.

 

(Since when…?)

 

Masatsugu’s spine shivered.

 

(Since when have I started fighting with all of my power!?)

 

Masatsugu was already fighting the masked man with all his might.

If he hadn’t started to go all out against him, they could have even reached a point where the masked man had the upper hand, even for a moment.

 

(This is what Shigure was talking about!!)

Masatsugu heard from Shigure about the practice match with the masked man.

According to her, he would come through to the bitter end.

 

Since Shigure would always find herself being tongue-tied and unable to get to the point, Masatsugu only listened to about half of what she said.

 

But now that he was actually fighting him, he could tell.

That masked man was truly getting stronger and stronger as they fought.

 

He would come through to the bitter end.

Shigure’s words definitely were no lie.

 

His attacks at 60% of his full power no longer worked on the masked man.

He would imitate their angle and speed perfectly.

 

(…I want this guy.)

 

His kicks were the same.

The masked man would start mixing in kicks in his attacks.

 

They were the same as Masatsugu’s kicks.

He delivered them from a blind spot.

 

One such kick caught Masatsugu off guard, and he had to use his small shield to block it.

 

He was able to keep up with him at 60% of his ability.

So he had to turn it up to 80%, 90%, and eventually with all of his strength.

 

Even though he had stepped on the gas, the masked man was hot on his heels.

 

Attacks that he couldn’t even see coming at first were now completely evaded.

His movements reminded him of Shigure.

 

The masked man would also approach with almost no motion at all.

That too was very much like Shigure.

 

He got in close to Masatsugu, twisted his body and made a horizontal cut.

It was a quick and powerful blow that worked all the muscles of his body at once.

 

That attack reminded him of Kagemitsu, with whom he had had a duel once before as well.

 

Without panicking, Masatsugu took a step back.

However…

 

“—Mm!?”

 

His intuition kicked in.

Masatsugu raised his left arm.

 

Immediately after, a shock.

His small shield had blocked the masked man’s kick.

 

It had been a roundhouse kick using the momentum he had built up by slashing with his short sword.

The technique that changed a movement that would have ended up with leaving himself open into an attack was how Masatsugu himself fought.

 

The blood of the masked man, who at first had been cornered by Masatsugu, was now boiling.

That boiling blood complemented the masked man, covered his gaps, raised his speed, and made him bare his fangs.

 

“Haha… Hahahaha!”

 

Unconsciously, Masatsugu laughed.

The masked man had the ability to far exceed Masatsugu’s expectations.

Masatsugu never thought that he would have such a talent.

 

(I want this guy even more now!)

 

Masatsugu laughed.

As he laughed, he crushed the masked man.

 

(I have to get him to join Team Braver!!)

 

Masatsugu had a lot of things he could teach to this man.

And there were lots of things he wanted to learn from him as well.

 

When he first met the masked man, Masatsugu was impressed by his lack of presence.

As far as his equipment was concerned, he was a beginner adventurer, but he was strangely good at hiding his presence.

 

And now…

He was getting better and better at hiding his own presence, and if it weren’t for the fact that they were fighting each other, even Masatsugu would have easily lost track of him.

 

Fortunately, the strange mask he was wearing was flashing, so Masatsugu didn’t lose sight of him.

 

But what in the world is that mask?

Why is it shining like that!?

 

It wasn’t something he had to be aware of. Masatsugu’s intuition wasn’t reacting to it.

At first glance, he couldn’t tell what kind of ability that mask had.

 

Still…

Masatsugu was terrified by his hypothesis.

 

If he were to take off his mask, would his presence completely disappear, making him totally unpredictable?

 

That idea made a chill run down Masatsugu’s spine.

 

Masatsugu was curious about the relationship between the abilities of the masked man himself and his mask.

But he was already fighting with all his might, so he couldn’t afford to worry about that.

 

(If he does win this match… Will he take off his mask?)

 

That idea floated in his mind for an instant, and then disappeared.

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

The match between Masatsugu and Air was settled in an instant.

 

“…Haah.”

 

As he watched over the situation, a big sigh escaped from his mouth.

 

This was the expected result.

There was nothing regrettable in seeing Air lose the duel.

 

But leaving that aside, Van asked himself if this match wouldn’t be of help in improving his situation of having come to the end of his tether. Because he had such a faint expectation, he was slightly disappointed that the battle ended in an instant.

 

“They’re still at it, aren’t they?”

“Huh?”

 

Van thought it had been a one-game match, but apparently that wasn’t the case.

As Akane said, that duel was over, but Air had readied his weapon once again.

 

Over and over again, Masatsugu easily defeated Air.

The duel between Air and Masatsugu couldn’t even be considered a proper fight.

 

Which wasn’t surprising, as Masatsugu was the strongest adventurer in Japan.

Air, on the other hand, was just one of the many unnamed intermediate adventurers.

 

The abilities of the two were so far apart that Air wouldn’t stand a chance even if Masatsugu were to go easy on him.

 

He would be attacked over and over, falling on the ground and standing up once again.

Air was already battered and covered in mud.

 

Van started to get frustrated little by little as seeing Air get pushed back every time seemed to remind him of his own troubles.

 

What the hell are you doing?

This is just bullying at this point!

 

(Won’t his teammates try to stop this?)

 

Karen and the monsters that Air had tamed were fixedly staring at the duel.

Even Akane, who was still standing next to Van, showed no signs of going anywhere.

 

(How can they watch this silently!?)

 

Van was confused by their behavior.

 

This battle was already beyond the scope of a practice match.

Van could only see an intermediate adventurer being violently battered by Japan’s strongest.

 

Why isn’t anyone trying to stop this?

Van couldn’t understand that at all.

 

Coincident with Van’s confusion, the situation of the battle changed slightly.

Air had been able to dodge Masatsugu’s attack for the first time.

 

“Here it comes.”

“…Hmm?”

 

Van tilted his head to the side, wondering what she was talking about. But Akane wouldn’t answer that question.

 

Akane was simply staring at Haruki’s back.

She had expectations and excitement all over her face, as if she was waiting for fireworks to launch in the sky in total darkness.

 

It wasn’t long after Akane’s remark that Van noticed the change in the match.

 

The situation itself hadn’t changed.

However, the speed of the matches was different than before.

 

Van could no longer follow Masatsugu’s attacks, even though he had been able to see them up until that point.

And Air, who would have gotten hit by those dreadful attacks just a few moments ago, was now avoiding them!

 

There was no way a mere intermediate adventurer could follow the physical performance of the hero Masatsugu.

And yet, Air was avoiding Masatsugu’s attacks.

 

Was that a twist of fate? Or was it Air’s innate ability?

Van couldn’t say for sure.

Their battle had taken such a turn that there was no way to tell what was going on anymore.

 

“…”

 

Seeing those two fight, Van clenched his teeth hard.

 

He had seen Air get pummeled, and thought…

“He’s an intermediate adventurer, after all.”

“He’s an intermediate adventurer, so there’s nothing he can do.”

 

And yet, despite being only an intermediate adventurer, Air was hot on Masatsugu’s heels.

 

Perhaps it was that way of seeing things that had been affecting Van’s growth?

 

“I’m not a Ranker, so there’s nothing I can do.”

“I’m different from Kagemitsu, so it’s useless.”

Had he himself started giving up because of those thoughts?

 

Perhaps he had simply misjudged his own talent and set up a ceiling that wasn’t even there.

 

Perhaps what he lacked was what Air had. To be desperate to be a match for his opponent.

 

“What do you think of Air, Van?”

“…Weak.”

 

Van’s words weren’t muddied with envy or jealousy.

Air was weak. That was an unquestionable fact.

 

If Van and Air were to have a duel, Van would win 8 or 9 out of 10 duels.

It wasn’t a matter of physical ability.

Air was overwhelmingly lacking in combat experience.

 

“But…”

 

His ability to absorb experience during battle compensated for his lack of combat experience.

 

Usually, what little experience it could be gained from a handful of matches would be of little importance.

At best, one could hope to connect an attack or two by mere luck.

 

It would take a student of kendo several hits on his head, and a student of aikido to be thrown to the ground several times.

Just by taking in his high-level attacks over and over, he had grown to a point where they just don’t work on him anymore.

Air’s growth rate was just that unusual.

 

Van was jealous of Air’s growth.

 

Air was weak.

But he had the ability to overcome his own weakness with experience.

 

Van, on the other hand, still didn’t know how to overcome his own weaknesses.

He had no idea how to become stronger, so he couldn’t help but envy Air, who seemed to have a clear path to becoming stronger.

 

“Air really grows at a tremendous speed. If I’m not careful, that gear I’ve racked my brains to get repaired will soon become useless to him. How much time will I spend choosing his next gear…? Eheheh~”

 

Akane’s sheep clothing was slightly peeling off.

She was even grinding her own teeth.

 

Even though she was that way, she seemed to care for Air as well.

Though Van couldn’t really understand why…

 

While Van’s chest was riddled with mixed emotions, the battle ended with Masatsugu’s branch snapping in half.

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