Looking at the current circumstances, I probably had the advantage.
But Halfa-san’s weapon had now changed. The quarterstaff that had split in two would definitely become a problem.
Although his range was now shorter, it wasn’t going to make this battle any easier.
“I smashed that apart, huh…”
I didn’t put in that much strength in my punch just a moment ago. But it should have been more than enough to render him unconscious.
The other students had been silent for some time now and it was bothering me… But I had to focus on Halfa-san who was in front of me.
Even I was starting to get tired of an opponent that aimed for my neck each and every time. It was a little scary too.
“Looks like you’re finally ready to start for real.”
“I’ve been going at it for real since the start so…”
“That’s a good joke… Even someone like me is capable of understanding my opponent’s true strength when fighting them. Your abnormal physical ability alone has already surpassed my ‘eyes’. However, you don’t desire to fight… I truly apologize. Despite the fact that your true duty is to heal and save other people… But this is also my duty.”
….Duty? Why was it a duty? Didn’t Halfa-san desire to participate in this mock battle himself? Hearing the lingering remorse in his voice, it caused me to think too deeply about the current circumstances.
No, it didn’t matter whether it was some duty or not at the moment. Although there was sorrow in Halfa-san’s eyes, it quickly disappeared. Now he was giving off an amazing presence, similar to a beast’s intimidation aura.
Looking at his stance with the broken quarterstaff, it felt like he was waiting for me to attack first. His violet eyes, filled with magic power, were focused on me. There was definitely some sort of trick behind those eyes.
“If you’re waiting for me to attack….”
Then I guess I have no choice but to go.
If we continued to stare at each other like this, it would only be a waste of time. In that case, I’ll move first.
With a light spring in my step, I rushed out. Whether he was aiming for a counter or trying to guard against my attack, it didn’t change what I would do.
I would run up to him and punch him— Just that.
While keeping Halfa-san who was still retaining his stance in my sights, I jumped to the right and attacked. Sure enough, Halfa-san knew I would attack but I continued to throw out my fist infused with healing magic without concern.
Halfa-san used the two pieces of the quarterstaff to block my blow and was sent flying backward from the impact.
His response was unnatural.
Despite how he was watching me this whole time, it was evident that Halfa-san’s reaction was a step too late. I continued my attack by drawing closer to Halfa-san and kicking at him. But this time, he was able to react in time and evaded it. Was it because he was able to clearly see me this time?
His attack came again. After I dodged Halfa-san’s broken quarterstaff pieces, I took a few steps back and took another look at him.
Despite how close I was when I kept attacking him, he never properly attacked me back. He did attack me once but it was very safe for him. It made me think that… I wouldn’t be able to beat Halfa-san if he kept guarding and evading like this.
“Physical strength, speed, and stamina. I definitely lose in all three when fighting against you but… There are still other ways to fight!” Halfa-san said, defiantly.
“Please don’t show that kind of face to me! Your current expression is telling me that you’re facing some kind of terrifying and powerful monster!”
Was I supposed to be some kind of mid-level boss in a RPG?
But he was right.. there were still other ways to fight. I could see sweat dripping down his forehead as he kept evading my punches and kicks. He looked like a tortoise with an impenetrable defense.
It was a pain in the ass to get into his range every time, only for him to move away…..
“He’s been able to evade my attacks all this time… Is it because I’m inexperienced…?”
I didn’t train in any martial arts.. maybe that was why he could easily read my moves.
“If that’s so…”
I attacked again, knowing my attack wouldn’t land.”. After I punched, I quickly drew closer to Halfa-san, who had retreated, and sent forth a kick.
Sure enough, he could only guard against it and the impact caused him to fly back. But I didn’t stop there. I continued my pursuit without pause and swiftly caught up to Halfa-san.
“! So that’s what you’re aiming for!”
“You won’t be able to run around anymore!”
Even if I lacked experience, there was no way I would let him get away this time!
I clenched my fist tighter this time in anticipation of Halfa-san’s guard.
I’ve been fighting for him this long so I know… There’s no reason to hold back!
Smash apart that broken quarterstaff of his!
I was already storing power into my fist when I knocked Halfa-san back. I wasn’t aiming for a direct hit on his body. I would break apart that annoying weapon of his first.
I swung my left arm down—
—But the person I was aiming for, Halfa-san, reacted just before he landed. He kicked some sort of object behind him, allowing him to land faster. He then twisted his body and avoided my incoming fist.
“Then, allow me to attack you from the back now!”
Utilizing the momentum that he gained from twisting his body, he struck a blow from behind with his quarterstaff.
Although it wasn’t that painful.. this blow was enough to delay me, allowing my target to escape.
My magic-infused fist had now lost its target. It continued on its path and I ended up punching at the object that Halfa-san used to regain his ground.
It was clearly not some living organism but the object in question seemed to wrap around my fist with its toughness and elasticity. However, it only lasted for a few moments before my magic-infused fist started penetrating through the elasticity.
From there, I finally realized what I had just punched.
It was white and its shape was similar to a log. I punched at it with a lot of force and drove it straight into the ground.
It was the same type of target that Senpai and Kazuki had destroyed earlier.
‘Normally, it won’t break.’
‘It’s extremely durable and tough.’
‘There isn’t anyone who could destroy it with their bare hands.’
Ignoring Halfa-san, I quickly turned around to Senpai’s direction.
Kiriha’s entire body was trembling while it seemed like Kyou was worried about his sister.
Carla-san was looking at me and laughing.
The other students were looking at me like I was some kind of alien.
Kazuki looked at me with sparkling eyes.
Lastly, Senpai gave me a thumbs up while looking more satisfied than I had ever seen her.
“…This is just a coincidence you see, it just happened to break on its own…”
While giving such a desperate explanation, I tried to pull out my arm that was still embedded in the target.
——Wait, huh? I can’t pull away.
“I won’t show any mercy.”
Seeing his opportunity, Halfa-san had started running towards me from behind.
“W-wait, wait wait! Time out! Time out! I can’t pull it out!”
“I’ll make use of anything and everything I can! I really didn’t think you would penetrate through that but… This is also part of my strategy!!”
“What kind of random and unplanned strategy is that!?”
As I was distressing, Halfa-san commenced his attack.
This is quite bad.. my arm is still stuck in the target. This isn’t an opponent I could take on with just my right arm. Actually, I couldn’t even freely move in this situation. My legs are sealed, this is already checkmate.
———No no, I refuse to be checkmated in such a stupid way! Rose would murder me for an outcome like this!
I deflected Halfa-san’s quarterstaff pieces with a wide kick. I defended, only to buy myself a bit of time.
Using this short gap, I’ll exert all my strength to pull my arm out of this damn target!
With my brute strength, I lifted the target up. My left arm was stuck in the target while my right arm supported it.
“Usato-kun!? You’re finally doing it!? You’re going to surpass the limits of being human!?”
Hey, that Senpai over there! You’re being a little noisy!
I felt like an immobile telephone pole. I also felt like my feet would sink into the ground. I continuously used my strength to keep myself from falling and I clenched my teeth as cracks started forming on the ground around my feet.
Once I felt like I was stable enough, I threw the target down. Using the gravitational potential energy, I pulled on my left arm.
It didn’t seem deep as I thought.. my arm started showing itself once it fell approximately 1 meter. It was coming loose but my arm was still stuck in the target. Halfa-san had already recovered and was using his weapon to attack me again.
“I won’t be defeated that easily!”
At the same time that I turned over to Halfa-san, I swung with the target to ward him away. With some light steps back, he avoided it. He wryly smiled and looked at my left arm that was still stuck in the target.
“Seeing someone attempting to pull their arm away from a target… It’s such a strange thing to see…”
Who do you think caused this current situation? Even I’m surprised.
But it seemed unexpectedly shallow since the target finally loosened and fell from my left arm—
“Using your magic to reinforce yourself to remove it! You easily surpass my expectations!”
“….Fu, fuu…. Even I had a bit of trouble removing it…” Carla-san boomed.
I couldn’t do anything other than reinforcing myself with my magic to remove it. Carla-san, you really don’t need to say it in such a loud voice for everyone to hear.
However, I’m astonished at the fact that he was able to kick off the target and get behind me. His close quarters combat is excellent and he’s good at using his surroundings. I can understand why Kiriha and Kyou were worried due to how strong he is.
More importantly, he’s able to completely read my movements. I have to do something about that first.
“Which reminds me…”
As I was healing my left arm that I forcefully extracted from the target, I remembered something.
Halfa-san’s [Magic Vision], I think it was called? Welsey-san said it was a type of magic eyes that could see the flow of magic in people and the environment.
I was too used to Amako’s ability to see the future that I could only use her as a reference for Halfa-san’s magic. I didn’t know anyone else with something similar either…
If those magic eyes of his were similar to Amako’s foresight to see the future— No, in this case it would be his ability to see an attack. If he could ‘feel’ an attack coming, it would make sense for him to anticipate my attacks.
When Halfa-san first met me, he mentioned that “The magic power in my body is extraordinarily smooth” or something along those lines.
In other words, Halfa-san’s eyes wouldn’t be able to see the flow of magic during the times I’m not using it. If I took that into consideration, then maybe… Maybe… If I change how I currently think about my ‘flow of magic’ for this fight from what he has seen so far from me—
“It’s something worth trying…”
Even if he can predict an attack coming, he can’t tell what the exact attack will be.
Even so, it was dangerous to rely purely on my strength to fight against a human like Halfa-san. It wasn’t like the time when I was fighting those Blue Grizzlies in the forest. He was able to use my own strength against me and put me in a difficult spot.
There was no other way but this.
“…..It looks like you’re up to something!”
I lightly clenched my left hand and formed a fist.. I started concentrating healing magic into it and approached Halfa-san.
I didn’t have to go out of my way and attack him close— What I wanted to confirm—
I transferred the healing magic from my left hand to my right leg.
But I left a small amount of healing magic in my left hand.. an amount that you wouldn’t even notice. Then, I punched. It was something like a ‘telephone punch’. It lacked speed and power. It was something Halfa-san could easily dodge but…
It seemed like Halfa-san didn’t expect it at all. He was flustered and tried to block my punch quickly. He almost wasn’t able to guard it in time but he managed to at the very last second.
—It looks like my hunch was right.
“The flow of magic isn’t the only thing your magic eyes can see, right?”
“….Looks like you realized it…”
He lowered his weapons and exhaled to show his acceptance.
“Magic flows by circulating inside a person’s body… Oops, you already knew this part.”
It looked like he had no intention of hiding it. Halfa-san was unexpectedly going to reveal his own trick.
But I guess it didn’t really matter to begin with. Against an opponent who could completely predict your moves, you could only throw sand or something in their eyes.
“Magic flows gently just like a river. When it’s activated by the user, they produce a [Fluctuation]…. I look for this [Fluctuation] when I’m reading your movements… Although I say this, a body like yours has one big weakness that cannot be overlooked.”
I expected some sort of reaction to magic but… I see, [Fluctuation], is it?
I wanted to test this and so I purposely operated my magic in a weird way. The reason why Halfa-san looked so flustered was due to the fact that he couldn’t tell where my attack was coming from. It was either my left arm or right leg. This caused his response to be delayed.
He had been able to read my attacks until now. Halfa-san looked at me sternly, as if re-examining me once more. He pointed his weapon at me and said,
“However, that little feint of yours won’t work on me again. It’s not over yet… I can still fight…”
“……No, it’ll be over in the next round.”
If you were predicting my attacks by observing the flow of my magic, then it was easy.
If a simple feint won’t work then I have an ace up my sleeve. There’s a bit of risk involved but it’ll be exceptionally effective against someone like him who looked at the flow of magic.
I bolted out, heading for Halfa-san again. I intended to end this match with my next attack.
“….No matter how fast you are, to think you would head straight for me again like this!”
Even I know that it’s not optimal. But the hand I would play this time, it was better for me to be directly on the opposite side of you and— In the center of your vision!
Halfa-san got into position to meet my next attack. I stopped running, and focused healing magic into my right hand. I made sure he could see it too.
“A feint won’t work—“
I guided and concentrated as much healing magic as possible into my right hand. The thin and pale green color of my magic became denser like it was blotted with ink. The overflowing magic caused the light to radiate and shine.
Basically, the countermeasure I had against Halfa-san’s magic eyes was to blind him. His eyes must be quite sensitive since he was able to predict my movements this entire time.
I swung my right hand in front of him and he seemed to be trying to resist.. but he didn’t break his line of sight from me.
This worked because his eyes were too good.
With his sensitive eyes, I knew there was no way he would look away… Even more so when a great amount of healing magic was being focused in my right hand.
I drew closer at this instant to deal the final blow to Halfa-san. I kicked away his two quarterstaff pieces into the air and let loose my fist.
I sent an uppercut to Halfa-san, and it was far too fast for him to guard in time. Just right before I would make contact with him, I stopped.
While holding this position, I was secretly fearful that he would still want to continue. Looking at his expression though———
“Ha, hahahaha…. To think, I would so easily…. How unsatisfying… I surrender. I completely lost.”
He raised his arms as he said so. It looked like he finally admitted defeat since my fist would have hit him.
It was finally over. It was a close match…
I sighed in relief and withdrew my fist. Because I felt relieved, I finally noticed the pain tormenting my right arm.
Looking closely, blood was pouring out from my hand.
I was still too inexperienced and tried to use more magic power than I could control. The burden resulted in tearing my hand apart. I immediately applied healing magic to my hand to heal the wound. After a short moment, it was completely cured and spotless. I gently closed my palm.
“But compared to the injury last time, it isn’t as bad.”
I was also growing.
At least more than before.
Feeling a real sense of achievement in my growth, I did an uncharacteristic fist pump.
“Fufufu. Despite saying all that, I knew you would be able to do it, Usato-kun.”
After finishing with the mock battle, I returned back to the group… Only to receive words from Senpai that didn’t make me happy at all.
I looked around and could see students noisily talking to each other while looking at me. The only one among them who looked content and smiled was Halfa-san.
I discovered one problem after fighting him.
It was that I held back when my opponent was another person. Demons and monsters were sort of in the grey area for me. It still bothered me to fight them. Actually, I’ve been fighting nothing but them. This was my first time fighting another human and this problem felt very apparent.
No, Rose doesn’t count…
“I understand your personality quite well. However, don’t you think you were showing far too much for a Demonstration?”
“A Demo… What? What’s that?”
Was it some sort of English word?
After asking that question to Senpai, she only gave me a profound smile.
If you know what it means then I’d prefer you tell me instead of acting so knowledgeable and important…
“You two, that fight just now was magnificent. I really didn’t expect to meet a magician here who would reach this level already— Even though your Reinforcement is incomplete, I didn’t think I would get to see all that.”
Just as I was about to question Senpai again, I held it in since Carla-sensei initiated a conversation with us.
It seemed like she was surprised about how I added more power to my own magic. But it also seemed that the other students had no idea what she was talking about.
“Come to think of it, I still haven’t taught it yet…. Reinforcement is a type of strengthening technique that increases the concentration of magic power. Generally, the concentration is always the same but this technique allows you to increase it. If you were to polish this technique, it’s very possible for even a weak fire magician to manipulate tremendous fires.”
The Reinforcement of healing magic…? I was simply just increasing the power of my healing and enhancing my own physical abilities. But it looked like there were different effects for strengthening other magic.
It was irrelevant to me though.
“It looks like you’re all wondering why I didn’t teach you all of this technique already…… Reinforcement isn’t something an inexperienced magician can handle. If you don’t control it properly, your magic can overflow and it will cause damage to yourself. You have to be quite good at controlling your own magic—“
As I was listening to her talk about something that had nothing to do with me, Carla-san made her way over to me. Her arms were folded and all the students’ eyes were on her. She took a glance at me. The corners of her mouth distorted upwards and she suddenly placed her hand on my shoulder. She looked over at the students’ direction once more and said,
“Your hand was in a pretty bad shape but it looks like you’ve been training to heal injuries no matter how severe they are… You sure showed something nice today. You were able to show how the supportive healing magicians can ‘fight’.”
She was totally adding more oil to the fire, wasn’t she? There were definitely people in the crowd that were scowling at me. Among them, the twin tailed girl who had suggested the mock battle at the start was looking at me with some unreasonably bloodshot eyes.
I caught sight of a boy who was just a few steps away from the entrance. He seemed dumbfounded and was staring blankly at me. It was a short boy covered in soot… It was the boy that was a healing magician, just like me.
Our eyes made contact with each other. He wasn’t glaring at me like when we first met.. it felt more like he was looking at something unbelievable.
“Excuse me, Carla-san.”
“Leave him alone. At least for now.”
It seemed she noticed and gave an immediate reply.
Even without Carla-san and Halfa-san’s advice, it might be careless for me to act when I didn’t know anything.
He might just have been simply been drawn here by healing magic without realizing it. However, I didn’t know at this time what result my actions would bring to this boy whose name I still did not know…..