Chapter 26: Pain of Growth
“I accept the duel against Souma Sagara and swear to compete against each other with the utmost of our arts!” (Ina)
At the same time as Ina shouted this, a white light film covered our bodies.
This is the proof that the duel has been made official.
The word duel sounds dangerous, but this is actually a system to make it not dangerous.
Duels don’t mean it is a death match.
No matter how intense of a battle it is, when your HP is reduced by the attack of your opponent, a flashy effect will happen, the light film will break, and the duel will end.
The HP set will differ depending on the conditions made before the duel.
‘Compete against each other with the utmost of our arts’ means that the duel will end when the damage reaches 50% of the max HP.
If this were ‘We will continue fighting until our strength runs out’, we would have to continue fighting until our HP is 1.
Flipping that around, it means that, even if you get hit by a strong attack, your HP won’t go lower than that by the attack of your duel opponent.
It is impossible for your HP to go to 0 which means death, so you can fight without worrying.
However, this is a feature that only works on the related parties, so there’s no such function like a 3rd party being unable to get involved.
The HP not going lower than a margin only applies to the duel opponent, so if you were to get hit by an unrelated character or monster in the middle of the duel, your HP can drop to 0 and die.
…Aah, I won’t forget about it.
One of the main quests in the story: Duel at the Desert.
You duel them with the winning condition being getting to 1 HP, but the moment you lower their HP to 1 and think you have won, they end up getting environmental damage from the desert and die.
In the end, rather than thinking about how to defeat the opponent, you would have to get a grasp of the environmental damage, and would need to heal the opponent as fast as possible for that quest.
As expected of the Nekomimi Neko developers.
Their reputation of ‘I hate debugging more than the killer of my parents’ is not just for show.
Anyways, with this, there’s no worries about killing your opponent and we can fight without worrying about killing each other.
“U-Uhm, Souma-san, what weapon should I use!” (Ina)
Is she being reserved here
I respond with a leisure expression to what Ina said.
“I told you this is weapon training, right You can use whatever weapon you want to use, Ina.” (Souma)
Ina hesitated for a bit there and took out the shortsword that an Armored Knight dropped.
That’s a weapon that has both the Dagger and Ninja Sword category, a Wakizashi.
No, I understand the question here.
In the first place, why would a western Armored Knight drop an eastern weapon that is the Wakizashi Also, a Wakizashi is not a Ninja Sword.
But that’s Nekomimi Neko quality.
Leaving aside the name, it is an item dropped by a level 70 monster.
It is not on the level of Shiranui, but it is decently high in ranking as a weapon.
Coupled with Ina being level 66, someone like me with beginner equipment would be minced without a chance.
Against her, I…
“S-Souma-san! Are you sane!” (Ina)
Ina raised an objection at what I pointed at her.
I play dumb and Ina shouted with a bright red face.
“There’s nothing but problems! Because that’s clearly…clearly not a weapon!” (Ina)
It can’t be helped that Ina would get angry.
She probably thinks my specialty weapon is a sword or a katana.
And yet, what I am holding is not a sword or a katana.
No, it doesn’t fall into the category of any weapon; a wooden stick.
“It is okay.
I won’t be attacking after all.” (Souma)
If I don’t hold a weapon, not only will the weapon power not be counted, the weapon proficiency modifier as well as the weapon skills won’t activate.
Because I can’t even use the Step Cancel, I won’t be able to use the Godstep Cancel either.
However, it is necessary for me to use this against Ina.
“…I won’t be holding back, you know.” (Ina)
“That’s exactly what I want! Come at me at any time!” (Souma)
We had that exchange of words and the battle began.
Seeing that I wasn’t showing any signs of moving as I told her, she took the initiative.
She said she wouldn’t hold back, but she really must feel uncomfortable attacking a person without a weapon.
That attack approached me with half-assed speed and I…
I easily took that attack with my wooden stick.
Even though it came at quite the force, there was no impact felt from my hand.
It must be a game-like correction of some sort.
There should be no problems then.
“N-Not yet!” (Ina)
The eyes of Ina grow sharper.
She may have introduced herself as a newbie, but she is still an adventurer.
Her profession is to fight.
There’s no way it would end with just this level of a display.
She threw away her reservations, pulled back her Wakizashi once, and…
“[Jump Slice]!” (Ina)
She activated a dagger skill without hesitation.
Even though she did a terribly subdued attack just now, she switched into a skill attack after one step back.
She probably thought that she wouldn’t be able to get me with a normal attack.
She is correct in that judgment.
This is also the correct answer to control the flow of the battle.
The Jump Slice is a skill with fast speed even within the short sword style and it is most likely the strongest skill in her arsenal.
It seems like she has no intention of holding back now that she has switched into battle mode.
I can honestly praise that about her.
Since it is not an activation through Cancel, it has obvious telegraph motions.
More so since she is shouting the name of the skill.
I simply place the stick at the trajectory of the skill and…
“No way!” (Ina)
I can easily stop that hit that she intended to be a one hit finisher.
I instead return the hit while she is skill stunned after using that skill.
Ina lost her balance, stumbled back, and tried to regain her balance with heavy steps.
(Yeah, it is working unexpectedly well.) (Souma)
The battle style of female thieves is like that of a trickster, so this is my first time having a fight with one properly, but it is going better than I thought.
The bigger factor here is that the fear of death is not here, so I can use my game movements at full right now.
(I have to persist a bit more for the sake of Ina.) (Souma)
I ready my wooden stick without lowering my guard against Ina, who is now completely showing battle eyes, while feigning leisure here…
And then, after I don’t know how much time passed since the duel began…
“Why…can’t I win…!” (Ina)
She still couldn’t get a hit on me and I continued to take on her attacks.
Why can I continue stopping the attacks of Ina
There’s of course a reason for that.
First of all, the character stats are inconsequential this time around.
Stamina and Nimbleness are parameters that don’t change with level ups.
I think Ina has higher Stamina and Nimbleness than the normal characters, but there’s not much difference between us at the times when she is not in Train Mode.
When it comes to hitting attacks and blocking them, there’s no deciding factor here.
Next would be battle technique.
This depends on the individual.
This is something I noticed after fighting, but the average adventurer probably doesn’t polish their technique when it comes to fighting other people.
Adventurers fight against monsters by profession to train themselves and there aren’t many humanoid monsters.
Rather than learning feints that you don’t know if they would work against monsters, it would be faster to just increase your attack power.
The newbie adventurer Ina doesn’t know much about the intricacies of fighting people and this goes for me too who relies on skills a lot when fighting.
…That’s why this is the result of the difference between Ina, who has been fighting in reality, from me who fought in the game.
Getting a grasp of the specs from your controlling character is a basic of games.
The speed limit of your limbs, the area that your joints can cover, the flexibility of your body; we have a grasp about every single aspect of our character.
Also, no matter how unreasonable of a movement you do, this body doesn’t feel pain.
Intense movements do consume your Stamina, but as long as you don’t use skills, there’s barely any worries of me running out of Stamina since I am wearing the rings.
On the other hand, what about Ina
VR AI in recent days is exemplary.
The movements of humans have been researched to the smallest of details, and they move just like actual humans.
But putting it in another way, it means that, when trying to do movements that surpass the specs possible for a human, they will end up trying to ground it to human movements.
Maybe because of this tendency, I don’t know if it is because she is a real human in this world, but she is using that body like a person in reality would.
That’s the absolute difference between her and me.
That said, the attacker has an advantage over the one defending.
Even I would find it hard to continuously block her attacks without any plans.
Me being able to manage despite that is because of one other game factor.
“How about this then!” (Ina)
The sharp attack of Ina assails me who had my posture broken, but I control the wooden stick with only my wrist and stop that.
Ina raised a desperate shout.
My wooden stick defense barely managed in time, but my posture is still completely broken.
Thinking about it in a realistic manner, it wouldn’t be strange for me to be pushed by the attack of Ina who has the momentum, and yet, it didn’t happen.
I somewhat understand it now that I have lived in this world.
When it comes to battles, it tends to prioritize the laws of the game rather than the laws of physics.
That’s why, even when it comes to the power of the attack, rather than taking into account the speed and the strength you put in it, the numbers are what heavily affect the damage you deal.
(I am on a different plane!) (Souma)
I gloat passionately internally and deflect the Wakizashi with my wooden stick.
And then, I went on the offensive for the first time since this battle began.
As if overlapping the unreasonable over the unreasonable posture I already have, I kick the ground and attack Ina.
I once again hear the desperate cry of Ina.
If this were reality, I wouldn’t be able to do these nonsensical movements, and wouldn’t even think about doing them.
But it doesn’t matter even if you do movements that a real body would raise screams over.
At times, even physically unnatural movements can be possible if the specs of your body allow it.
I am certain of this.
You could even say I am confident in it.
Think about it.
That way, you will be able to get it really quickly.
There’s no way Nekomimi Neko would have such high level programming like creating strains depending on forceful movements!!
This time around, Ina raised a natural scream without any exaggeration as I smacked the Wakizashi off her hands.
Having moved this much, even the recovery of the stamina gauge won’t be able to keep up, I guess.
My body feels heavy as if I just did some intense exercise in real life.
Well, this should be enough for today.
I offered a hand to Ina who had fallen onto the ground and said…
“I surrender.” (Souma)
“Excuse me” (Ina)
This announces the end of today’s training.
A while after the training in the guise of a duel was over…
“Souma-san, you really are incredible.
You are incredible, but…uhh—!” (Ina)
Ina really is an adventurer.
She must be mortified by the fact that she couldn’t win against me.
But there’s no souring in our relationship, and we were actually chatting with a closer mood than before the duel.
It seems like the rift between us has been mysteriously covered by the intense battle.
That’s undesirable in its own way, but it wasn’t only Ina, I also felt closer to her after the battle.
“I don’t really understand, but that…that felt kind of unfair!” (Ina)
Even with that, it seems like she didn’t find the result of the duel fair and complained to me again.
Well, I understand why she would want to do that.
Honestly speaking, I also didn’t think I would be able to overwhelm Ina that much either.
And, I am sorry for Ina, but I got a bit of confidence after being able to fight that well.
Learning that my fighting style of using game logic works here really does make me happy.
“Those weren’t human movements!” (Ina)
Ina still complained here, but she is correct in a sense.
And that’s also the reason she lost.
…Well, thinking about it, this is truly simple.
A simple matter of, the ones who can’t differentiate between game and reality will always receive their just desserts.
“Ah, speaking of which…” (Souma)
I was so into the battle that I was about to forget the original objective.
“How many dagger skills do you know” (Souma)
“Eh U-Uhm, 3…” (Ina)
“Test out whether you can use the 4th one later.” (Souma)
‘There’s no way skills can be learned so easily’, is what Ina must be thinking, she nodded dubiously, but I am confident about this one.
Not only the 4th skill, she probably has learned the 5th and maybe even the 6th and 7th skill as well.
(Master Torch, you have been of help once again.) (Souma)
I mutter this internally and brush the wooden stick I have been holding the whole time in the duel before gently returning it inside my bag.
When we returned to the town, Ina said that she would be going back to her mother’s place, and I decided to return to the inn after we parted ways.
Maybe because I have noticed a lot of things today, doing anything right now would feel like a pain, so I want to rest as soon as possible.
The innkeeper once again was talking this and that about dinner, so I responded half-heartedly, returned to my own room, and slept like a log just like that.
The next time I opened my eyes was the morning of the next day.
(I completely slept all the way through…) (Souma)
I get up while reflecting on this and…
The moment I did, a strange electric-like sensation ran through my body, making me let out a strange scream.
(What’s this) (Souma)
What’s with this nostalgic and unpleasant feeling as if my whole body is all stiff.
This is something that I have experienced countless times in the real world.
A certain symptom.
“No no, that’s impossible.” (Souma)
I unconsciously said this and denied it.
If that were possible, it would have already happened yesterday morning.
The day before, I was exercising endlessly with Master Torch after all…
But now that I think carefully about it, at the time when I was cutting Master Torch underground, the first half was skills and the latter half was mainly fine cuts, so there wasn’t that much time I was moving my body heavily.
Even then, I still moved to an unbelievable extent in real world standards, but the movement amount at the duel yesterday went far above that.
Could it possibly be that…
The term ‘muscle pain’ surfaced in my mind together with the pain running in my body.
Just like how this world is more of a game than real, it is also more real than a game.
In battle, the game laws take priority, so I moved my body like in the game, and managed to fight just like in the game.
But the law of reality that dictates ‘if you do intense exercise, you get tired’ can be considered outside the hemisphere of battles.
I was so concentrated in thinking that I ended up missing something unthinkable.
I squandered the control in my body and I ended up leaning to the back on my own…and I am falling from the bed.
(This is bad!!) (Souma)
Even if I tried to stop from falling or were to fall from the bed, whichever the case, I will end up straining my body.
If I were to do any forceful movements in this state, what in the world would happen
I thought this in the middle of this dire situation.
…Well, now that I think about it, it is a truly simple matter.
The ones who can’t differentiate between game and reality will always receive their just desserts.