“Don’t make me keep repeating myself, Shinguuji.”
Shinichi landed with the great sword in one hand, and when he landed, he pulled on the entire sword.
Ryou distanced himself from the oppressive aura emanated by the great sword’s great weight, but the way he pulled his heels out so restlessly gave the impression that he couldn’t afford to let his guard down even for a moment.
Shinichi seemed to have been waiting for that, however, and the moment Ryou pulled his heels out, Shinichi swung that great sword to call forth a powerful gale.
One swing, one slash, one sweep of that great sword was more than enough to split the earth and tear the air asunder, but as powerful as it was, it left too many openings.
In Ryou’s hands was a pair of swift one-handed swords that could be easily handled.
But despite that, the reason he couldn’t attack was— That the enemy was using only one hand.
“Again, you’re only looking at the weapon!”
Ryou aimed for the opening after the swing and leaped out, but he was sent flying back by the left hand.
It was true that the great sword left a lot of openings, but the free hand, and the remaining two legs were a huge problem.
Anyone else would need two hands just to support the weight of that great sword, and they would need to keep their two legs firmly planted to swing it, but Shinichi could ignore all of those requirements without even the help of an exoskeleton.
Having to face an opponent like that without an exoskeleton himself proved a great challenge to Ryou. That free hand and those two legs were just too good at suppressing his attacks.
“Don’t move your eyes away from the weapon the moment I call you out! Focus your attention on the entire body!”
Ryou had leaped once again to take advantage of that opening left by the great sword in its descent, but he was sent flying by Shinichi’s right fist.
He had put so much of his attention on the rest of Shinichi’s limbs that he failed to notice Shinichi letting go of the great sword, causing him to take a powerful blow straight in the jaw.
“This whole time I’ve been using nothing but Garesto’s own weapon! Had I been using another weapon, how many times would you have died by now?”
That sort of exchange repeated many times.
No matter how many times Ryou tried to take advantage of the openings left by the great sword, one of Shinichi’s limbs would send him flying back.
Before long, it finally reached a point where he failed to pay enough attention, and a precise blow landed on him.
“What? Tired already!? If you can’t even do anything against someone wielding a great sword, then I guess that’s all you amount to in the end!”
“W-Who’s tired!? I’m not done just yet!”
Ryou wondered what his situation would be like if Shinichi was using the same weapons as him, and he couldn’t help but feel a chill run through him.
In a sense, it was only because one of Shinichi’s hands was being weighed down by a great sword that Ryou could still put up a resistance, albeit poorly.
Were Shinichi using two swords instead, the only future he could see was a one-sided stomping.
Ryou understood that, that’s why despite answering to Shinichi’s provocations, he could accept his current predicament.
But it was also precisely because of that that the desire to overcome this predicament appeared within him.
No one told him that this was an impossible challenge.
No one was using an inexplicable power and neither were there any unreasonable rules.
If so, then he should be able to do it. Ryou told himself that and took a step as soon as he gripped his swords.
Either way, he couldn’t possibly end up in a state as bad as that stomping he imagined.
Until now, Ryou has been focusing only on the great sword, so he’s been trying to land the counterattack this whole time, but this time, he was going to take it a step further.
He was neither going to dodge nor block Shinichi’s first attack; he was going to attack before that was even an issue.
He wasn’t going to look away anymore. He would watch Shinichi’s every movement until his sword was close enough to reach him.
One step, two steps, and finally, the foe was within range, but Shinichi
The moment Ryou thought that something was off, he was sent flying into the night sky.
Shinichi remained unmoving until the very end, and by the time Ryou suspected something, it was already too late.
To neither swing nor move while in stance was the same thing as to lie in wait, and the moment Ryou was near enough, that great sword erupted with a powerful gale, launching him into the night sky.
As the starry reflected on Ryou’s eyes, he thought to himself, ‘that was so stupid.’
He was so taken by the attacks after the first swing that he ended up ignoring the great sword itself.
He knew it was a threat too, but he was so caught up trying to solve the problems that came after its swing that – without intending to – he looked down on it.
He’d intended to attack before the enemy could, but the distance between them was great, and his speed wasn’t fast enough.
In the end, he jumped straight into a foe that was waiting for him, and ended up being sent on a tour through the night sky. Before long, he landed next to Tomoe, who was busy reading one of her secret books.
“…You didn’t have to do that.”
Was it luck or did he aim for that on purpose? Ryou felt like it was the latter.
Anyhow his landing should have normally been loud and powerful, but not even the slightest tremor nor sound rose in his crash. It was as though something had wrapped itself around him to break his fall.
He didn’t bother confirming it, but this childhood friend of his probably used a jutsu.
He’d flown higher than the trees around them, and had allowed himself to fall.
He had his foster on and had a high rank in Resistance, so he didn’t have any injuries.
The gale from the great sword’s swing was plenty powerful and painful, but it wasn’t to the point that he couldn’t move his body.
He was just so taken aback by how stupid his attack was that he didn’t feel like breaking his fall.
That’s why he couldn’t even thank Tomoe for her help and just found fault with her instead.
But then he realized what it was that actually broke his fault and he was shocked once again.
“Huh, eh… What!? Wait a moment, what the heck is that!?”
When Ryou saw what it was that broke his fall, he panicked and jumped back.
An Oni Mask with two horns at an adult’s height was right before him.
Extending from which was a hollow armor with design akin to those of the Sengoku period.
The shikioni that attacked them in the incident a few days ago was there.
This was the monster that the Senba siblings struggled, so it was only a given that he was so surprised.
But unlike the Oni Mask from then, this one wasn’t red but pure black, a black oni.
Moreover, it didn’t wear a terrifying expression, but a smile that was even somewhat courteous.
That only served to make it creepier, however.
“Hmm? Ah, I just finishing reading about the part regarding shikionis, so I wanted to give it a try. You might not know this, but it’s actually difficult to create a shiki without a medium. You need a human-shaped puppet or the exorcist’s hair or even blood. But the Ootsu have been researching for a method that doesn’t rely on any of those. As expected, though, you still need to use a medium if you want to make a shiki capable of complex thoughts or a terminal.”
“W-What, so you made this? Sheesh, don’t scare me like that. But if that’s the case, why did you make it black? Weren’t the ones the Ootsu used red?”
“I didn’t really want to use the same color as them. You understand, right? I could have made it blue, but that seemed so stereotypical, so I made it black instead.”
Tomoe said nonchalantly, and Ryou just accepted that.
But normally, no matter how blessed someone was with spiritual power and how learned they were in the basics, and no matter how much they’ve read a secret book, an exorcist shouldn’t be able to immediately use a jutsu they were seeing for the first time.
If that were the case, then it wouldn’t have been a secret technique in the first place, so the fact that she could use it this quickly spoke volumes of her comprehension of spiritual techniques.
“But that’s not a reason to go out of your way to make it black, right— Oh, so that’s why.”
“Ah, it’s nothing, it’s nothing… I’m just really exhausted.”
Ryou tried to fool her by saying that before lying down on the ground.
He was wondering why she had to choose black of all the colors, but when he saw Shinichi walking toward them slowly – it was late already, so they were probably done for the night – he connected the dots.
Shinichi, who was both a student and their master, always wore his black school uniform, and when acting as Masquerade, he was covered in jet-black.
No matter how you put it, black was his color.
He wanted to tease her a bit and ask if she’d picked that color out intentionally or unintentionally, but Ryou was too exhausted physically and mentally to bother.
TL Note: Changed devil face to oni mask since it appears to be a Japanese technique.