Chapter 35: The battle before the battle
What I said must not have registered with her, she asked me dubiously.
“Game of tag In other words, it is a match where I chase and cut you down” (Hisame)
“There’s way too many wrongs in that!” (Souma)
Rather, there’s only wrongs in that.
What’s with that violent real game of tag!
It isn’t any different from crossing swords, and she is already assuming I will get cut down.
“That’s not it.
You have confidence in your speed, right But I also have confidence in my ability to run away.
So…want to have a match with me” (Souma)
It seems like she wasn’t convinced by my proposal and shook her head to the sides.
“You were caught pretty easily just now though.” (Hisame)
“That’s because the conditions were not present.
If I were to run away without caring for the means, you definitely wouldn’t be able to catch me.” (Souma)
It seems like her mood soured a bit at my tone that could be considered arrogant.
Her cat ears are tensing up in anger.
No, it is true that that’s cute, but that’s not it.
What I mean is that I don’t plan on withdrawing here.
I might have found a plan that will let me run away from an opponent that I shouldn’t be able to run away from.
I want to bet my possibilities on that.
The first one to yield was Hisame.
Despite being expressionless, she was emitting exasperation as she spoke.
“If you are so confident, I don’t mind that being the condition.
However, what do we do about the time limit I honestly have the confidence to catch you in 10 seconds.
How much time wi—” (Hisame)
“10 minutes.” (Souma)
I cut off the words of Hisame and said this.
“…Are you sane” (Hisame)
“I do think I am, yeah.” (Souma)
Her cold eyes clash with mine.
We look at each other in silence for a while.
“Looks like you are not lying.” (Hisame)
Seems like her eyes have some sort of lie detector.
You have all bases covered, huh, Cheetah-san.
“So, what about the use of weapons They will naturally be completely prohibited” (Hisame)
I shake my head to the sides.
“No, I won’t put any limitations on the use of weapons.
I have no intention of having you graze me with your attacks at all.” (Souma)
“You are talking big here.” (Hisame)
I am sweating buckets internally while saying this though.
This is actually a bitter choice.
In the case things don’t go as I planned, I would have no chance of winning a game of tag against her without a weapon.
Then, in that scenario, it would be better for it to turn into a battle.
Emphasis on the ‘better’.
“It is not exactly in exchange for that, but I have my own preparations.
Please give me time…a whole day.” (Souma)
This is what’s important.
If I were to be told to have the match right now, I would have no chance of winning at all.
I have to force the talk forward.
Now then, how should I explain it to her
I check the basis of my decision, my watch, and it is currently 8:30.
This should do.
“Then, the match will begin 24 hours from now.
Let’s make it tomorrow at 9.” (Souma)
This town has a bell that rings when the hour hits multiples of 3.
It is a nice time and easy to understand.
“Tomorrow at 9…no, 5 minutes before that, come to the front of the inn from before.
Beginning right at 9, for 10 minutes, that will be our match time.
If you manage to touch me within that 10 minute frame, you win.
If you don’t, I win.
How’s that” (Souma)
Fortunately, Hisame didn’t make any complaints about it and accepted the time of the match.
But this is where the battle begins.
I will wrap things up here in one go.
“The rules pertaining to the match are as I stated just now.
However, there’s a few conditions I want you to accept beforehand.” (Souma)
“First, regardless of the match results, you won’t put a hand on the girl who was together with me, Ina.” (Souma)
“I had no such intention from the very beginning.” (Hisame)
“Despite that, please promise me this.” (Souma)
I strengthened my tone and she nodded albeit rudely.
“I promise that I won’t put a hand on her.
That said, it is a different story if she is the one attacking me though.” (Hisame)
“That’s good enough.” (Souma)
Hisame is whimsical, but she keeps her promises.
With this, I won’t have to worry much about Ina.
No matter how terrible of a situation, death is the end of all.
That gives me quite a bit of comfort.
“One more thing.
I don’t want you to approach me until the match begins.
I want to believe you are not a foul player, but just thinking about the possibility of getting attacked before the match, or you peeking at my preparations for the match, would stress me.” (Souma)
No, I actually believe she wouldn’t do that, but this is important.
I take distance from Hisame.
“This distance is…around 3 meters.
I want you to not get closer than this to me until the match begins.” (Souma)
This is completely my selfishness here.
It is unknown whether she will accept this one, but…
“What unnecessary worry.
But if you wish to, I will promise.” (Hisame)
Alright, got her!
I pump my fist internally and double check this.
“…It is okay, right You have accepted it, so if you get within 3 meters of me before the match starts, you will lose before the match.
Is that okay” (Souma)
“I said I don’t mind.” (Hisame)
Got her to promise.
Now things will get quite a lot easier for me.
But when I sighed in relief, this time, Hisame began to put out conditions.
“It is not exactly in exchange for that, but there’s two things I want to confirm.” (Hisame)
“…What is it” (Souma)
Did she see through my plan
I asked back while thinking this with my drumming heart, but what she asked was something completely different.
“You still haven’t said the important part.
What do you plan on demanding of me if you win” (Hisame)
I was only thinking about getting out of this situation, so I forgot about it completely.
A one-on-one against Hisame is an event to make her your companion.
That’s why, if I were to wish for it, she would become my comrade when I win.
But I honestly think that making her my comrade and activating her chain event would be suicidal.
I would definitely die midway.
In that case, I should just decide on whatever…
“You are betting your life here, so I will prepare a decent reward.
There’s limits to what I can do, but if it is within my power, I will do anything.” (Hisame)
The word ‘anything’ is a word that tickles the desires of a young man.
If I can do anything, would I be able to mofumofu the cat ears of Hisame for a whole day
By the way, how do you mofumofu cat ears
I don’t know, but I want to do it!
However, I hold back my desires and shake my head.
“No, I don’t need anything.
Right now there’s nothing I want to ask from you.
If I had to ask anything, it would be that I don’t want you to do serious matches like this that forfeits the lives of people anymore.” (Souma)
“You don’t need my strength” (Hisame)
Her pride must have been hurt since I didn’t desire anything, she said that, but well, that’s true.
It is not that she wouldn’t be of help, but that the event she activates is way too dangerous, so I can’t keep her at my side.
I choose my words carefully before responding.
“I definitely would feel reassured if you were to lend me your strength, however, if there’s no urgent danger, I want to take it easy by myself.” (Souma)
You are a weird guy.” (Hisame)
Her tone is cold and blunt as always, but her cat ears slightly loosened up from the conversation just now.
She probably has accepted me a bit.
“And so, there’s no need to talk about that anymore.
Anything else” (Souma)
The moment I asked that, I could tell the atmosphere around her changed.
She said fearsomely seriously as if the atmosphere of before was a lie.
“Can you pledge once again here that you will be forfeiting your life if you were to lose this match” (Hisame)
Is that the weight she places on a serious match
I felt as if something with actual mass was pushing down on me.
I declare this slowly but clearly so as not to lose against that pressure.
“…Yeah, I will bet my life on this match.” (Souma)
When I finished saying this, her pressure withdrew.
Then, I have nothing more to say.” (Hisame)
After that, she turned and tried to leave without any grievances.
With this, the rules have been decided and the negotiation is over.
I am glad I managed to finish the conversation here.
“Please wait!” (Souma)
And yet, for some reason, I called Hisame to a stop.
“Anything more” (Hisame)
There was no emotion in her turned face.
Her cat ears are currently showing nothing but interest in me.
The depths of her heart are calm.
Even though we just finished a talk about betting lives just a few seconds ago.
“Hey, why do you fuss so much over life-or-death matches” (Souma)
That’s something I was curious about the whole time in my game time, but it is a question I never got a proper answer about.
I thought it was wrong to seek too much of a reason for the game characters in Nekomimi Neko.
But now that the world has become real, maybe…
“I am aware that my sense of values deviate from that of normal people, but I think the important things lie beyond the point between life and death.” (Hisame)
She easily answered my expectation-filled question.
I thought she was one crazy battle maniac, but I learned that she has her own set of beliefs in her own way with that answer of hers.
“That’s why you tried to cut off my head the moment we met” (Souma)
No matter how you think about it, that’s way too impatient.
Could it be that she was trying to weigh my sin by whether I can overcome the line between life and death
That’s some messed up logic, but if she has a reason like that, it would match her actions.
I said this with that in mind, but she reacted baffled at my words.
“What are you saying There’s no way I would actually kill someone with an empty accusation like that.
I was simply trying to gauge your ability by threatening you a bit.” (Hisame)
Wait a moment.
Wait wait wait.
She said it as if nothing…
She said it as if nothing, but…
Could it be that she said something outrageous just now
If I hadn’t avoided the first hit of Hisame…
Or if I didn’t challenge her to a serious match in the middle…
Hisame would have stopped her attack before it hit, then say something like ‘I was simply testing you’, and that would have ended the battle
And yet, I brought out a serious match, put Hisame in the mood despite not having the intention of killing me to begin with, and have now challenged her to a fight of life-or-death
Could it be that I did something completely unnecessary, or more like, have poked a lion without the choice of taking it back!
“Then, later…” (Hisame)
She probably thought she didn’t want to hang any longer around me after seeing me suddenly groaning, she turned her back on me again and walked away.
What she said just now was certainly shocking, but Hisame looked like an unfettered battle junkie, however, it seems like she is still someone who can draw a proper line.
(That’s why I didn’t want to do something this deceitful…) (Souma)
There’s certainly things that I can’t just easily give away
One of those is of course my life.
And if there’s necessary stones I need to build up in order to protect myself, I won’t hesitate to do so.
([High Step]!) (Souma)
I used a skill aimed towards the back of Hisame.