Kurz ran while scattering the fragments of the needles he crushed underfoot. It was a very careful sprint so as to avoid the dragonoids, who were laying all over the place while groaning and screaming, and the violet lines that were still shining suspiciously. But considering the armor’s weight, Kurz movement speed was still abnormally high.
Renya, who was riding on Kurz’ back, clung to Kurz using just his legs and drew the katana at his waist. Renya could be thrown off if he did something like that while on Kurz’ back which was moving up and down irregularly, but it was a stunt he was able to pull off due to his own leg strength, his sense of balance and the fact Kurz was supporting him with the black mist.
And yet Renya frowned slightly.
All of that didn’t change the fact that he couldn’t secure enough footing. Even if it was Renya, there was no way he could make full use of his katana in this situation.
The question of whether he should have worn slightly more armored equipment popped up in his mind for an instant, but Renya immediately rejected the thought. Speed and quick defensive movements were the characteristic traits of Renya’s fighting style. No matter how much armored equipment, which would hinder those attributes, might seem necessary, it would only result in a drop of Renya’s combat abilities.
“Margrave-sama! Incoming attacks!” Once Renya turned his eyes towards the black armor upon hearing Kurz’ warning, he saw the black armor readying its halberd in order to intercept the enemy that had invaded past its barrier. Countless black chains were about to be released towards Kurz from behind the black armor.
In response Kurz also unleashed countless black snakes to face the armor’s attacks.
The chains and snakes clashed against each other. The chains pierced the snakes, and the snakes bit into the chains. It was a struggle for supremacy.
However, Renya, who watched that battle unfold, immediately realized that Kurz was being pushed back, albeit only faintly. In contrast to the black armor which continued sucking strength from the dragonoid soldiers within the barrier, Kurz was completely cut off from any external supply. If both were to continue expanding their strength the same way as they were now, it was obvious that Kurz would use up all his strength first as the one without any means of recovery.
However, while that might be true, Renya couldn’t simply tell him to eat the dragonoids laying around them. That didn’t mean that he didn’t have a part of him thinking on an emotional level that it might be fine since there were some dragonoids who likely couldn’t be saved anymore, but even Renya knew that it would result in a very bad situation in terms of foreign affairs.
“I suppose it’s my job to compensate for the parts he’s missing,” murmuring out a complaint, Renya climbed up Kurz’ back, placed his feet on Kurz’ shoulders, and started running, using the backs of the snakes as a makeshift scaffold.
Renya arrived where the snakes and chains were clashing in no time despite using an unstable footing which was shaking intensely. After a light jump, he began using the chains as his footing and closed in on the black armor in one breath.
The black armor, which stopped manipulating the chains while revealing a faint hint of unrest, swung its halberd at Renya who was soaring high above its head after jumping before the chains lost their tension. To counter the swing, Renya performed a forward somersault in midair while falling, and faced the halberd’s upward swinging blade with a slash that contained his full centripetal force.
The full power slash, unleashed while using the force of gravity, his downwards movement, centripetal force, and even the spring force of his entire body, cut two times the katana’s width into the ax blade part of the halberd, but Renya’s expectation of being able to sever the ax blade completely in one go was quickly betrayed.
“It stopped!?” Renya was shocked.
Renya’s katana had cut deeply into the halberd’s blade, but it ended up being fully stopped just as the katana’s blade was twice its width within.
Renya, who had no scaffold, had no other option but to put all his remaining strength into his katana as soon as it got blocked.
In contrast to Renya who had lost his momentum, the black armor pulled the blade back and performed a sweep with the opposite handle of the halberd, aiming at Renya’s flank. Being in midair with no foothold, Renya had no way to avoid it, but while blocking the bladeless handle attack with the sole of his feet, he used the handle as a foothold using its force to jump far away.
That allowed him to widen the distance, but there was nowhere Renya could land. Renya resolved himself to suffer some injuries by landing on the ground which had countless needles pointed upwards, but not allowing that to happen, Kurz had a black snake coil itself around a somewhat largish needle and performed a high-speed move by using it like a grappling gun.
“Margrave-sama! Over here!” Kurz yelled. Responding to the call, Renya stretched his body as far as he could and did a somersault.
When he landed on Kurz, who had made his way to the landing point while smashing the needles growing out of the ground, most of Renya’s momentum was gone and he successfully carried out a soft soundless landing.
“Kurz, good move,” said Renya.
“Landing with the momentum you had from being sent flying would have been really bad,” said Kurz.
Judging from the difference in weight between Renya and the armor donning Kurz, it was very likely that Kurz wouldn’t have budged even a millimeter even if Renya had landed on him with quite some force, but for Renya that part was more of a question of how he felt about it.
“But, I certainly wasn’t expecting the black armor to be able to block the attack just now,” said Renya.
“Margrave-sama, you haven’t properly strengthened yourself with mana…it looks like that big weapon and the chains are one and the same.” Being told so by Kurz, Renya suddenly remembered.
Even though he had been taught by Emedra how to properly reinforce his body with mana, he ended up slashing at the armor in the same manner as usual, thinking that it would work out one way or the other.
However, this could also be attested to the fact that the notion of strengthening his body with mana was prevalent in Renya’s mind, and it was also impossible for him to develop such a habit in the short time since he learned the technique.
But, leaving that aside, Renya tried asking Kurz about a part of his statement that bothered him, “That halberd and the chains are one and the same, you say?”
“Yeah, that’s what it looks like. Being able to stop Margrave-sama’s attack was owed to it sending a part of whatever’s forming the chains to the weapon, continuously repairing it, I think.” Kurz guessed.
Once Renya looked at the black armor after being told as much, he realized that the large number of chains, which had been growing out of its waist, had mostly vanished without a trace.
Apparently being able to stop Renya’s slash wasn’t a result of the black armor’s skill or the weapon’s strength, but because it was continuously repaired from the outset as it was being cut. What actually happened was that the repairing speed surpassed the cutting speed and was thus able to stop the blade from cutting any further.
“So basically that means it can be cut,” Renya summarized.
“For me it has become much easier~,” Kurz rejoiced.
Because the black armor had rerouted the power forming the chains to the weapon, the number of chains had dropped sharply, and the battle for supremacy between the snakes and chains had heavily shifted in favor of the snakes.
Kurz attacks, which now excelled in numbers, reached a point where they frequently got through to the black armor, but they didn’t reach its main body as they were blocked by the halberd’s blade.
“Can you overcome its resistance at this rate?” Renya asked while riding on Kurz’ shoulder.
“I wonder?” Kurz inclined his head to the side and after pondering about it for a little while, he shook his head and said, “No good. It’s recovering, after all.”
For the moment Kurz’ snakes were overpowering the black armor’s chains, but Kurz had noticed that the black armor was starting to recover its numbers of chains, albeit only slowly, while repelling the black snakes with its halberd. Kurz immediately knew that its recovery was due to the black armor constantly sucking the strength from the dragonoid soldiers.
Among those soldiers, some were on the brink of turning into mummies and others went past mummies, turning into dust, and were about to crumble, but it seemed like there were still many more soldiers who had some strength left.
“How troublesome. With the numbers being what they are, I think it still has a lot of leeway left to recover.” Renya assessed.
“Isn’t it just fine to hinder it from recovering then?” Kurz asked and fleetingly glanced at the soldiers laying at his feet.
Although he had a somewhat bad premonition, Renya decided to be polite for the time being and tried asking, “And the method to achieve that would be…?”
“Cleaning up the recovery medicine scattered around here.” Kurz answered indifferently.
“…You should stop that. It’s also bad for your reputation,” warned Renya while knocking Kurz’ helmet with his fist.
Seemingly somewhat unhappy, Kurz made a deep but quiet groan, but nodded at Renya’s words nonetheless as it was apparently not something he would obsess over to the extent of pushing for it.
“But Margrave-sama, as long as that armor continues to recover, everyone will turn into dust sooner or later, you know?” Kurz rebutted.
“Well, I guess that’s true as well…but if we dirty our hands, it will likely cause various problems,” Renya conceded.
There’s already one seed of trouble. The fact that one of that obstinate Witenagemot and moreover the son of its chairman had been easily killed in action will likely turn into quite the source for trouble afterwards, was Renya’s concern, although only in secret.
Renya had been taking the situation lightly, thinking that he wouldn’t die that quickly since he was the commander of 10,000 soldiers. He thought he just should have wrapped him up in a bamboo mat, if he had known that it would turn out like it had, but now it was too late for that. It was Renya’s honest wish to not add any more seeds of troubles, seeing as he couldn’t change what had already happened anyway.
He fully understood that it was a situation that might have the unfortunate consequence of annihilation, but whether that result was achieved through their own hands or by those of the demons made a difference like heaven and earth.
“Getting through this situation in one go…I wonder whether that’s not somehow possible.” Renya pondered.
“I don’t really care, but if you’re going to make up your mind, you have to do it quickly as it’s going to completely recover otherwise, Margrave-sama,” Kurz said while sensing that the attacks by the chains were gradually gaining in intensity.
“I’m lacking a trump card here, but I’m going to attack it once more. Can you pick me up once more, Kurz?” Renya asked.
“Leave that part to me. Also, go after reinforcing yourself properly, okay Margrave-sama?” Kurz’ voice held Renya, who was about to kick off Kurz’ shoulder, back after forgetting about this once again.
After Renya looked at Kurz, who seemed to have somehow chuckled under his breath, for an instant with an unhappy expression, he reconsidered his attitude since it was his own carelessness that caused this reminder, and began to strengthen himself with mana as he had been told by Kurz.
Although you might call it began, there wasn’t any kind of chanting or ceremony involved. Basically reinforcement through mana meant being precisely aware of the mana flowing in one’s body, strengthening and broadening that flow, and making sure that it could flow smoothly.
When someone uses this technique for an item and not one’s body, it adds conditions to the amount of mana used and the creation of a circuit that would allow the mana to flow into the target item as well as the maintenance of all that, but if it was only about strengthening one’s body, such troublesome procedures weren’t necessary.
Renya shut his eyes and imagined the flow of mana. It was an image of the mana branching off a thick, large flow into many smaller ones, like the blood flow, and spreading into each cell. That was possible due to Renya’s knowledge that a human body is composed of many, many cells, but Renya misunderstood one thing here.
The method of mana strengthening in this world is normally based on imagining something like a stream of mana running through the bones to strengthen the whole body or just one stream heading into an arm, to strengthen only that arm.
However, Renya, who happened to know about cells, was under the impression that reinforcement meant spreading mana into each and every cell. As a result of that he let his mana flow while imagining blood veins and not bones.
If a common sorcerer had done something at a similar scale, they would have easily run out of mana and fainted. But, for Renya using such a huge amount of mana didn’t really matter. Renya strengthened his whole body with an accuracy that any run-of-the-mil sorcerer would have likely failed to control if they had let the mana flow with the same attention to detail as Renya had invested.
Speaking of what would happen as a result of Renya’s misunderstanding; let’s just say that mana strengthening is a technique that displays its effectiveness and exhibits power corresponding to the amount of mana used and the time and effort it takes to cast the spell.
“Huh? Somehow…I have a bad feeling, Margrave-sama,” Kurz spoke up in bewilderment due to the signs he sensed from Renya’s body, but Renya didn’t notice it as he was concentrating.
Kurz, who was assailed by an extremely bad premonition, temporarily increased the power he was releasing, he manipulated the snakes, and once he pushed back all the black armor’s chains, he stabbed his snakes into the ground during the momentary break he gained, using them to anchor his body.
“Go for it, Margrave-sama,” he called out to Renya.
“Okay…I’m off,” Renya said and kicked off Kurz’ shoulder.
In that instant Kurz felt as if he had heard violent screams coming from the shoulder Renya had used. The armor, which wouldn’t get dented even if hit by something like a wyvern, received so much damage that it caved in from the impact left behind by Renya’s soles.
Even though Kurz had braced himself, he was pushed several meters back, digging into the ground as he slid. Of course the torsos of the snakes, which he had stabbed into the ground to serve as anchors, groaned loudly under the stress and were ripped apart, causing Kurz to feel a chill run down his spine.
And it wasn’t just Kurz who wondered just what the heck had happened.
Even Renya was flustered when he saw the black armor get closer right in front of his eyes the instant he thought he had kicked off Kurz’ shoulder.
Even though he didn’t recall having used this much power as he took into account the fact he was borrowing Kurz’ shoulder, the enemy had appeared right in front of him before he even noticed.
That enemy apparently couldn’t understand why Renya was there so fast either. The armor kept standing stock still without using its chains to intercept or its halberd to attack.
Renya decided to postpone pondering what had just happened in favor of bringing down the black armor. Because the casualties would only continue to grow until the barrier and the traps had been disabled, he subdued the questions welling up within him, and brandished his katana towards the black armor, which hadn’t reacted yet, in a flash.