The floating city of Kutoria whose size was comparable to Shikoku.
Behind the school at the island’s near center was a vast artificial nature that took up almost half of the entire city.
Forests, rivers, mountain ranges, caves, wastelands, and lakes could be found in it.
And even the dimensional energy that gave birth to the raybeasts, enemy to all living creatures, was intentionally gathered here from all over Earth to ensure the safety of other territories, providing the students with the opportunity for live combat practice.
Anyone related to the school could enter after receiving permission – often either for a lesson or for training, which in turn meant that only school-related personnel could enter the area. The military-grade barrier made sure of that.
Or at least, that was supposed to be the case.
Within that inviolable space were two shadows.
If one had to ask whether they were related to the school or not, well, they were, but due to various reasons, they had snuck in without getting permission – something that would have left a trail had they gotten it prior.
The two shadows haven’t gone as far as the backwoods, but they have gone as far as the shore of the lake, which was quite some distance from the barrier.
“Ugh, stay still!”
“You’re the one who keeps moving.”
In a fairly open area was a man and a woman crossing real swords with a single edge (blade).
White hair swaying, a woman dressed in jersey vigorously swung her blade, while a boy dressed in gym clothing used the least movements to dodge her attack while wryly smiling.
“You can still dodge at this speed!? You’re a monster!”
“I don’t want to be told that by someone so fast and so strong that just the aftershocks of her attacks are enough to crack the ground! You’re not even wearing any armor!”
The speed of her stroke indeed wasn’t ordinary.
Worthy of being called a gale, it was even harsher than a flash of lightning.
And it mercilessly destroyed the nature around the boy.
Just as the boy said, she was indeed not in a position to be calling others monsters.
“Ku ku ku, but that’s perfectly fine! I knew my eyes weren’t mistaken! You’re really good!!”
The woman was actually elated that the boy could dodge her attacks. Her face seemed void of sanity.
“Don’t be ridiculous, you battle junkie!”
But just who was this boy who could so easily dodge her attacks while being flippant?
No. In fact, he wasn’t dodging everything. Sometimes he would use his sword to parry the woman’s powerful sword that could literally crack the earth.
Before that subtle technique akin to a gentle caress, the woman’s sword could not display its full might.
A magnificent display of the concept of the soft suppresses the hard.
Moreover, while their exchange might appear to be defensive from a third party’s eyes, it was not actually the case.
Every time her blade was parried, the boy’s eyes would gleam like a hunter eyeing its prey.
The woman’s eyes did not miss that despite her excitement, and so she refrained from going too deeply.
She would swing her sword and then back off, a kind of hit and run strategy though her blade never made good contact.
“…Hey, isn’t it about time already?”
They continued like that for some time, until eventually, the boy spat that out as if fed up.
Considering their respective plans and condition, it only made sense to end this battle already.
And the floating monitor showing the time was saying just that, but the woman had no intentions of listening.
She was too excited to care.
“Fu fu fu, you’re good! This tension in my chest! This excitement within! More! Give me more!!”
As her beautiful face twisted in mad mirth, she cried out and ran.
“…Maybe I shouldn’t have gone along with this, after all…”
The woman attacked happily with a smile on her face, but the boy only sighed. Unfortunately, it was too late for regrets.
As the woman’s tekko-shaped foster glowed faintly, her skill was invoked.
But she still kept the rule decided beforehand and used voice activation.
Naturally, the boy also had to keep his part of the deal and fought her seriously.
Because of that he intentionally focused on his surroundings and not on her.
Normally, averting one’s eyes from one’s enemies would be suicide.
All the more so with the hit and run strategy she’s been employing since earlier, but that wasn’t the case this time, as the skill she just invoked made looking at her with one’s eyes meaningless and impossible.
After all, it made her vanish.
“Achaa, the interval is even shorter than yesterday.”
To be more precise, it only looked like that because she was repeatedly teleporting a short distance.
The woman’s shadow appeared and disappeared around the boy. Sometimes in front of him, sometimes in his blind spot, sometimes directly behind him.
She seemed like she was about to attack any time, but she just kept on vanishing and appearing in the next location.
The boy found it hard to predict where she was going since her movements were random.
Sometimes she would even appear in the same spot after disappearing.
“So it’s not just called Shukuchi (Short Land) for show, huh. What a terrible translation though.” 
Perhaps it was translated from Garesto to Japanese first, and then English, or perhaps it was because Shinichi was Japanese, that it translated the skill into a pseudo-English term.
Either way, the boy ignored the woman’s vanishing and reappearing act, and thought of silly things in a corner of his mind.
“I know it’s a bit late to be saying this, but that’s definitely not a skill you use against students. According to the textbooks, that’s an advanced skill! Not to mention its use is even prohibited!”
The boy’s actions were less because he was having an easy time and more because his opponent wasn’t acting like an adult.
The woman’s consecutive teleportations made it impossible to predict where she would go next; hence, the skill she was using was basically a cheat that allowed her to forcefully take the initiative.
“No one else.”
“To use this skill.”
“in live combat!”
Since she kept vanishing and reappearing, her words kept getting cut off.
She was vanishing and reappearing so quickly that it almost seemed as if there was more than one her.
The boy was half-fed up at this point, but his left hand did not loosen its grip over his blade, while his empty right hand also positioned itself to be able to respond anytime.
By this point, he was already well aware that this was her favorite skill.
After all, this was not their first time. They’ve been going at it for over half a month already.
And this would be the fourth time the boy had to taste her skill.
When she attacked him for the first time, she quickly closed their distance and stood behind him.
Even if he couldn’t take the initiative, he could still sense where she would be after.
But if she was still using a skill that’s already been broken three times, then there must be more to it.
Perhaps, she could make it so that he couldn’t sense where she would be afterwards, or maybe she has a plan where it didn’t matter even if he could.
As the boy thought that, he assumed a natural stance that minimized strain, and then focused his attention onto every direction.
Lowering his blade was also so he could respond at any time.
The boy lined up the words chanted in pauses. Icicle Rain.
Literally, a rain of icicles. When the boy thought of how things would turn out when that was combined with Short Land, he laughed internally.
When used by itself normally, Icicle Rain was a skill that rapidly shot out spears of ice in front of oneself.
But what if those spears were to be teleported around him instead?
“Isn’t a rain of icicles supposed to fall?”
What’s more was that these icicles weren’t falling from the sky but from every direction. But despite being surrounded by sharpened spears of ice all around, not a hint of impatience or panic could be seen on his face.
This method of using that spell indeed had a strong psychological impact.
But no human could possibly surpass him when it comes to ‘experience’.
Without the slightest hint of fear, he invoked a skill to protect himself.
A defensive nature interference type wind element beginner skill.
In the next moment, a shell-like membrane made out of wind wrapped itself around the boy, and the descending pillars of ice were all easily blown away by its whirling winds.
The force behind the icicle spears was the weakest possible since they were invoked while continuous teleportation was maintained.
But this was within the woman’s expectations.
From the Short Land to the Icicle Rain, everything was but a ploy to elicit a response from the boy.
In the first place, Wind Shell didn’t possess much in the way of defenses.
It was just adequate enough to defend against things like dust and gas, and was most certainly not enough to block a ‘killing technique’ behind which all of one’s power was concentrated.
In the next moment, the woman appeared in front of the wind-shell-clad boy, and she swung down with her blade.
She made sure to swing with only one hand to hold back, but even then, she was sure of her victory.
After all, the Wind Shell spell had a fatal defect to it – the flow of dense wind energies obstructed one’s vision and made it difficult to see outside.
Of course, the woman would still be noticed since she chose to stand right in front of him, but there was bound to be a momentary delay.
To someone like her, who has been continuously teleporting all this time, that was enough.
With a battle cry, the descending sword cut through the wind shell and reached the boy—
—Her defeat was decided.
This was a mere spar. The objective was to defeat the opponent, not kill; hence, the victor would be decided based on who is able to ‘land’ a clean undisputed hit.
From the perspective of a third party, victory would fall onto the woman whose blade had been stopped right before making contact with the boy’s neck.
“Tch, so the one who got baited was me, huh.”
“Well, your invitations were too obvious.”
But the voice that responded to the woman’s frustration came from ‘below’.
There, another boy could be seen crouching, his sword touching the woman’s belly.
As that boy smiled, the boy that was standing trembled and then vanished.
 – [Shukuchi’s characters ‘縮地’ are read as short land]