With a suspicious yet gleeful and twisted crescent moon smile, Shinichi mocked Johann.
The boy must’ve known that he would end up like this and so pretended to lose the advantage at first.
Clearly, the boy was toying with him.
No matter what he did, no matter how hard he fought, the boy that stood before him refused to treat him as a proper opponent.
But at the same time, it also became clear to him just how ignorant he was of Earth’s martial arts.
Even the five brains he had assimilated were ignorant in that regard.
Indeed, he might have been able to gain an overall advantage against Shinichi by incorporating those brains, but in the face of the unknown, no matter how high his Skill might be, there would still be a slight delay in response.
For normal people, such a difference might be negligible, but in a battle between highly skilled individuals, such a delay could prove fatal.
Johann felt humiliated, but at the same time, the rational part of him praised the boy.
“Ah, damn it! Why didn’t I realize something so elementary!? How could I be so proud of creating something this stupid!?”
Johann yelled angrily as he criticized the thoughts he had before assimilating those brains.
“No, wait! Even if that’s true, my Resistance and Stamina are still far above yours! So eventually you’ll run out of str—!?”
“Fu fu… All I have to do is look at you, and it seems you’ll figure it all out for yourself. Indeed, that body of yours has a time limit, so you can’t fight a battle of attrition either. I could just run around or teleport you into the depths of the sea, and victory will fall to me. I’m sure even someone like you can’t mass produce brains of that caliber. They’re also not so convenient that they could be reused.”
It was indeed a challenge to handle the brain, one of the most mysterious and delicate parts of the human body, and no matter how many bodies Johann could create, there was no way for him to replicate the same brain.
That’s why he had to steal someone else’s brain. In the first place, if it were possible to access the knowledge and experience stored in the brain, then Johann would have kept his Skill always elevated. The fact that he hadn’t done that only meant that reuse was impossible or couldn’t be maintained for long.
That’s why the boy mocked him for thinking for even a moment that he might be able to suppress him once he’d expended his current body’s life.
“Don’t be ridiculous! There’s still the Barrier of Teleportation that I— It’s gone!? Where did it go!? Did you destroy it? But that can’t be, there weren’t any aftershocks or negative effect! How could it be destroyed so thoroughly? Don’t tell me! Did that Silverganth weapon do it? Ahhhh!”
Johann repeatedly murmured and argued with himself, then as he held his head as though it were aching, he told himself to shut up, but only Shinichi was able to make out those words with how much of a mess he was.
“Looks like you finally understand that Skill isn’t something you can just raise thoughtlessly. Indeed, Stella’s’s silver wings weren’t just meant to open them an escape path.”
“Gah, ah, gu, uu… It was meant to destroy the barrier and call out to you for help!”
His head seemed to be aching a lot, for he screamed in desperation as though in an attempt to get away from that pain.
“Correct… But of course, it wasn’t a very expectant plea for help, though. Because of that I’m actually quite fired up today.”
A plea for help where no one was waiting, yet to Shinichi, it was a plea that couldn’t have come at a better timing.
After all, a situation that might seem hopeless could be easily solved when another person acted.
Shinichi knew how to solve the problem at hand, but the solution was not something that he himself could offer, so when that solution was provided through the unwavering determination, pride, and trust of another, there was no reason for Shinichi to answer that plea.
“Stella, you…” Lilisha said.
“…Yes. It is exactly as he says. I’d considered that you might choose not to run, so just in case, I also intended for that strike to reach him…” Stella said.
Stella’s fear that the princess might not choose to abandon him and her conviction that Shinichi could do anything as long as the barrier was broken led her to make that decision.
But of course, even then she’d only really thought that only Lilisha could be saved.
“But then, everything else after would be left to Shin, no? The heck. So you really are the one who’s opened up to him the most.”
After all, that was tantamount to entrusting everything to him and being satisfied with whatever the result was.
Especially, since she likely had no idea what the situation was like outside.
But of course, she just wore an expressionless face and kept mum in the face of the princess’ questions, neither affirming nor denying anything.
However, to those who knew her well, they could tell that was her trying to get out of an inconvenient situation by keeping quiet.
“A-Ahh, I can tell, I can tell! My forces! All of them! My workshop, my storage rooms, and even all my laboratories! All of them have been destroyed! It was just one move, one move! That I let past me, and I get punished this hard!? …That’s why you came!!”
Meanwhile, Johann stared blankly at the large hole in the wall and, upon coming to an understanding all on his own, cried out in anguish. Though he wasn’t as perceptive as Shinichi, his vision too was improved, and even without searching for any presence or magic formulas, he could understand what had transpired.
“I told you from the start. You’d lost the moment I came… That head of yours should have already arrived to the same conclusion.”
“Shut up, shut up, shut up! I’m not going to end at a place like this!”
Unwilling to accept his defeat, Johann let out an angry bellow and channeled his emotions to create two swords.
His was a body that combined the skills of a swordsman, the vision of a hunter, the agility of a fighter, and the speed of a thief. And he relentlessly rushed at the boy with killing intent.
He moved with top-notch precision despite his mental state, and while his first attack could be avoided even with half-hearted movements, there was no avoiding the second attack.
Those sharp silver blades of his could easily slice through any half-hearted defense, and regardless how many combat styles and techniques the boy might know, there was no denying that Johann’s overall stats currently surpassed him. One wrong move, and Johann was sure to claim victory.
“Hah, as they say, the foolish are indeed loud.”
But that was a possibility so slim that the boy scoffed at the very thought.
He had already explained how to deal with Johann. All he had to do was send him somewhere or run away.
There was no reason to fight.
Johann could of course protect himself from being teleported away, but against someone with far superior Skill, he could not offer anything that might even resemble a resistance.
With him unable to fight the boy up close, already this was nothing more than a desperate struggle on his part.
He was so shocked. For both of his blades were deflected, the boy neither taking a step away nor resorting to teleportation. Instead, he had simply moved his supposedly immobile left hand and parried the first slash, then grabbed the sword and struck it down with the second sword.
Whether it was his skillful application of the Magic Raiment Battle Law or his forced use of his left arm, both were worthy of surprise, but what baffled Johann the most was why he took such an unnecessary action. But while the alchemist was speechless, a crescent moon smile surfaced on the boy.
“Out of consideration for your delusions───”
Shinichi covered his face with his relatively fine right hand.
“───Allow me to crush your trump card personally.”