Ushiwaka defeated Nick/Karan for good… Or so it thought.
Ushiwaka suddenly realized the Sword of Bonds had slashed it from the waist to the flank.
The raging flames surging from the sword created a quiet, brutal, and decisive flash.
The upper body that was now separated from the rest, hit the ground.
Mumbled Ushiwaka, who would soon breathe its last breath.
““Can I say it?””
“Yes, tell me.”
““You were simply outmatched. No matter what shape-shifting tricks you pull, it doesn’t matter if I can see and predict your attacks. In fact, the way you relied entirely on your body made things easier for us.””
“So, what should I have done?”
““Well… You evolved fairly recently, so you wanted to see what you could do. You knew you should’ve kept running but got greedy, didn’t you?””
“Of course I did.”
““Yes, it couldn’t be helped… But I think a more experienced monster would’ve been more patient.””
“So I’m just a kid?”
““For a monster, yes.””
“But… Do you think holding back was an option in this situation?”
“So, in the end it wasn’t just a joke… Haha, I could only really act like a monster for a bit.”
Said Ushiwaka with a laugh, before its face became blank. Its eyes were no longer looking at Nick/Karan, or anything else for that matter.
“I have one final request.”
Nick/Karan suddenly sensed movement behind them, but it was too late.
“Turns out you’re just kids too, getting so careless when you’re facing monsters…! We’re both too self-conceited!”
Ushiwaka’s lower body ran towards Nick/Karan, and wrapped around their body like an octopus.
The great ogres charged furiously at Nick/Karan, but that also was a foregone conclusion.
Bellocchio seemed to have just been watching, but in reality he had already infused several spears and swords with magic. These were thrown by Suisen with the force of a cannon, and the great ogres quickly went down one after the other.
Tianna also set a chakram in her magic bow, and the others also moved towards stopping this final charge.
“Oh… Ohh… So this is defeat…”
Mumbled Ushiwaka, before breathing its true last breath.
“What a weird guy…”
The Union spell was undone, and Nick, Karan, and Bond returned to their regular bodies.
After offering a prayer, everyone started collecting materials. The magic energy that remained was very strong, on par with a boss from a B or A rank labyrinth. In addition to the reward, trading in these materials would bring them a lot of money.
Usually at the end of an adventure, Nick would feel happy about getting to spend his money on tickets to live events and merchandise, but this time, he felt strangely emotional.
He did not feel like he had just eliminated a regular beast or monster. It felt rather refreshed and lonely at the same time. It was as though he just had a match with a pure martial artist.
“Now that I think about it, we were able to use Union normally. Doesn’t that count as magic?”
“I do not know about regular magic swords, but this barrier is not enough to hold down a sacred sword such as myself. One of the things they had in mind while making me was blowing away these crafty little barriers.”
“Ah, yes. You did say something about that.”
“A sacred sword? I see, now it makes sense.”
“Well, a lot happened. Do you want to hear about it?”
“Of course, but… How about we return first? I am starting to get hungry.”
Said Bellocchio, to which Nick smiled and nodded.
“I’m really tired as well.”
“This is not worth the two million, even adding the money from the materials. Should we try to negotiate for a little more?”
“Of course. Let’s squeeze all we can from them.”
The monsters were quiet after their boss went down. Even the paths that were dangerous were safe on the way down. Even if monsters did appear, they would be small fry that appeared after the Sword Mantis’ area. The only dangers were tripping or catching a cold due to their bodies losing heat.
Nick’s Survivors and Bellocchio’s Wanderers were all adventurers, and yet, at this moment, they were careless.
And someone took advantage of this opportunity.
“I’ll have your life!”
But it was not a monster. It was clearly a man.
This man most likely hid behind rocks, and got surprisingly close.
He wore clothes from the country known as Nozomi. He had a long face and black hair, although a little different than Nick’s.
His katana was already unsheathed, and he was already very close by the time Nick noticed him.
It was a member of All Martial Arts. Nick’s former partner, Argus’ pupil, and katana user, Garosso.
He was suspected of killing a knight. Why was he acting so suspiciously in a place like this?
The answer was obvious.
Nick suddenly understood everything, and realized Garosso really was working as an assassin.
He also thought he was an idiot.
The target was obviously Bellocchio.
However, even if he could not use magic, Bellocchio would surely not go down to a broad downwards swing. He could dodge such close-range attacks, and had his partners with him.
Even now, Suisen moved to block Garosso’s path without hesitation. After getting so close, he really should have attacked from behind.
However, Garosso side-stepped Suisen with strange moves.
It was as though he was ignoring gravity. He was using Stepping.
Not only that, but he was much more skilled than Nick.
Garosso’s movements seemed as hard to grasp as mist, and he stopped in front of Bellocchio.
“Who are you!?”
Bellocchio blocked Garosso’s slash. Luckily, he was cautious and had a sword hidden in his pocket.
The shrill sound of metal hitting metal echoed.
Or at least it should have. It was certainly what everyone present heard, and not the sound of flesh being cut.
But Bellocchio was cut.
Although he had blocked the slash from the front, blood spewed from his back.
“Ahh… This old man was the one I was worried about, so now I can move on to the main job.”
“Garosso! What the hell are you…!?”
Nick grabbed a short sword and rushed towards Garosso.
“What am I doing? Did Argus teach you to ask questions when someone attacks you?”
Garosso pointed his katana at Nick.
Something instinctual, almost animal-like told Nick he should not fight him. What did Garosso just do?
Nick was sure Bellocchio blocked that attack, so there was surely a trick behind it.
All Nick could do was stop him without touching the sword. At that moment, Nick decided to put him in check with his bare hands.
“You’re a better fighter than me, but my Stepping is better.”
Nick tried to entangle Garosso like a snake, but the moment he was about to touch his body, he was flicked away.
Nick remembered this impact, and it was then…
Nick just barely evaded Garosso’s killing slash, but the silent kick that followed it carried a lot of force.
Nick’s body was knocked off the mountain path, and plummeted from a considerable height.