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Standing on his own two feet, facing off against a difficult opponent, with nothing to cover him but a towel and nothing to fight with but a toothbrush.

How did it come to this?

There’s was a first time for everything, but surely ‘everything’ wouldn’t include this? Kayden’s mind raced as he thought of the countless actions that he could do without dooming himself.

When he had threatened Matou, while he sincerely hoped that the young lord would actually leave, he knew deep down that the possibility of that happening was incredibly low. He was only doing it for the sake of stalling for time.

‘Is there anything I can do? Anything?’

“I can’t beat the sh*t out of you without getting closer.”

He opened one eye to stare at the young lord.

Damn, this kid sure can spout vulgarities!

Kayden shut his eyes again, as he planned his best course of action. Despite having a shiny sword pointed straight at his neck, he masterfully kept his breathing under control.

He twisted his body sideways, hiding the hand that reached for held a toothbrush, before chucking ten knives (his toothbrush in disguise) at his enemy! Following his attack, he turned tail and fled!

“IS THAT THE—"

Kayden couldn’t make out the words he was shouting as he was already well on his way. He put it to the back of his mind and continued his mad dash towards the public bathhouse.

***

Matou was caught off guard by the sea of knives launched toward him.

Tap!

As he raised his sword in an attempt to block the projectiles, he got hit by … something.

[User has taken 1 damage!]

The unidentified object clattered onto the ground. Matou peered over at the object and was amused by what he saw. There lay a dangerously sharp dagger with a small guard and wooden hilt. A few seconds was all it took before it melted into a puddle of darkness. The puddle of darkness evaporated, revealing a light-green toothbrush.

He looked up at his opponent, before realizing that he had vanished!

No way… did he?

“IS THAT THE SECRET JOESTAR TECHNIQUE?” He shouted, carrying his voice to the unwitting ears of everybody in this establishment.

He didn't expect a reply from anybody anyway and proceeded to kick away the toothbrush.

“Not that it would help you!”

Ohhh systemmmmmmmm!!!

[Tracking marked target]

[Target found!]

The corners of his mouth rose as a swarm of different colors swirled and condensed within his free hand.

The public bathhouse was not a complex structure. Multiple bamboo walls surrounded a hot spring and a large thatch roof supported by four beams stood in the middle of it all, providing a relaxing shade for the customers. Several large rocks were laid to form a small barrier around the spring water and there was a tall wooden wall that separated the men’s bath and women’s bath.

Kayden pushed away the curtain blocking the entrance and burst into the bathhouse, startling the few old men currently lounging around in the spring. His eyes rapidly examined the area, before he launched himself toward the center of the spring. His sudden burst of movement frightened the old men, and they stood up in a panic to leave.

Boom!

Splash!

Kayden felt a large impact blast the water behind him, followed by a splash that drenched him from head to toe. He turned around to find a large chunk of ice the size of a boulder, melting rapidly under the heat of the hot spring.

Kayden grimaced. He was hoping for some ice shards that he could use as makeshift weapons, but it seemed like it was too much to hope for.

Matou walked into the bathhouse, his palm forming another large chunk of ice. He knew better than to reduce the place to ashes, and so he opted for one of the least destructive elements in his arsenal, ice magic.

His first attack had missed, and so he proceeded to launch another chunk of ice, straight at the dark figure.

The dark figure somersaulted through the air. Using the ice chunk as a stepping stone, he kicked off the projectile to boost himself towards the roof! His arms latched onto the rough wooden edges, before he exerted his strength and pulled himself up.

Matou realized Kayden’s plan and immediately fired ice shards in rapid succession like a Gatling gun. The ice shards cut through the air with a resounding whistle towards the retreating figure, who upon making it onto the roof, stood his ground and faced him.

The dark figure danced through the bullet storm, with the bulk of it passing harmlessly through his illusory cloak. Kayden dodged and weaved through the passing hailstorm, performing stunts while bending his body to the absolute limit. Several ice shards scraped his skin, but all of his wounds were only superficial.

It was at that moment when Matou witnessed a miraculous sight!

[Target is using skill: Knife Combat C]

[Target is using ability: Honed Instincts C]

As the figure danced through the soaring ice, his fingers grasped an ice shard… and threw it back at him!

What followed was another barrage of ice shards, a far larger number than the ice shards he sent, zooming back towards him!

[Target is using skill: Create minor illusion]

Matou was disoriented by what was real and what was not. What he thought were illusions formed cuts on his body when passing through, and the ice shards he attempted to block only dissipated upon colliding with his sword.

[User took 11 damage!]

[User took 9 damage!]

[User has been inflicted with the ‘Bleeding’ status]

A series of numbers flashed before his eyes, followed by the chilling tone of the system counting down his health points. Seeing the situation turn around, he gritted his teeth and held Star Platinum in front of him in a two-handed grip. The sharp edge of the blade aligned so that it separated his into two parallel sides.

“Dragon Dance Style: Dragon Scale Reflection!”

[User is using skill: Dragon Dance Swordsmanship C]

Matou adjusted his stance, putting his right foot forward and anchoring his left foot in place. He slashed his blade horizontally and whirled his sword all around his body, carving lines in the water and rocks around him. He spun so fast that his movements sucked in the spring water to form a swirling vortex that doubled as a barrier. It blocked all ice shards, both real and fake, before shattering them into tiny ice crystals.

And he wasn’t done.

“FIRE!”

The whirling blade was set ablaze, causing the twister to radiate a crimson glow. The water within the vortex immediately evaporated into steam and soon after, it emanated a blistering heat, causing the surrounding hot spring to boil.

Kayden could see the heat instantly melt all the remaining ice. His face felt like it was going to burn off, and it really might do so at this rate. He retreated further up the rooftop, where he scanned the city for escape routes. It was this momentary distraction however, that would cause him to regret not taking things seriously.

Matou stopped executing his technique and looked up towards Shadow. His technique had drained a portion of his stamina and mana, and he estimated that he could execute his Dragon Dance technique only a few more times.

Name:

Matou Dragonsteel

Title:

Unparalleled genius unseen for millennia

Level:

15

Health:

177/215

Mana:

192/294

Status:

Bleeding

 

[Target appraisal successful!]

Name:

???

Title:

Shadow, the pest of Babylon

Level:

13

Health:

96/160

Mana:

60/94

Job:

Thief

Status:

Bleeding

 

After exchanging a few moves, the system managed to appraise the opponent’s basic info. Comparing the stark difference in their stats, Matou couldn’t find it in him to laugh. He had more than twice the amount of health and mana compared to his opponent. However, looking at it differently, the opponent was skilled enough to make up for his lack of attributes.

I think I now have a general grasp of his abilities, Matou thought. As long as I don’t give him any options to retaliate, he cannot hurt me.

Thinking this, Matou’s stance shifted dramatically, causing Kayden’s shoulder to tense unwittingly.

He’s trying something again, Kayden thought. He had experienced firsthand how devastating a blow could be and had no wish to receive one head-on.

It seems I’ll have to take a gamble.

Kayden shut his eyes in focus as black tendrils poured out of his pores. His mana merged into a black ball floating on the tip of his index finger.

“Deceive their sights. Confuse their hearing. Distort their very senses. Let my enemies suffer the pain of hallucinations.”

[Target is casting a tier 1 spell: Inflict hallucinations]

Kayden couldn’t cast this particular spell without a long chant, as it was not something he was proficient with. The extra time spent muttering incantations could mean the difference between life and death but sometimes, it was worth it.

Meanwhile, Matou adopted a similar stance as before. He had made up his mind.

‘I’ll just get dad to pay for this roof.’

[User is using skill: Dragon Dance Swordsmanship C]

“Dragon Dance Style: Dragon Pierces the Clouds!”

He held his sword in a reverse grip, letting the tip of his blade point towards his rear.

“LIGHTNING!”

Lightning tendrils coiled around his blade. The sparkling sword cast an eerie purple glow onto the waters from the spring below.

Before Kayden could react, a clap of thunder nearly burst his eardrums. His eyes could barely register the flash of lightning that filled his vision, and the high ground that he was so proud of was reduced to a mere meter.

Matou materialized directly in front of him.

‘Damn it!’

Out of reflex, Kayden released the incomplete spell on his fingertip. The dark ball came into contact with Matou’s chest, only for it to burst harmlessly. He might as well have thrown a toothbrush at him for all it did.

What happened next would cement itself as one of the worst days in Kayden’s life.

[User is using skill: Dragon Dance Swordsmanship C]

[User is using skill: Elemental Magic C]

“Dragon Dance Style: Dragon Breaks the Gate!”

“ELEMENTAL DEVASTATION!!!”

Making use of the momentum given by his previous technique, he swung his sword down with all his might. As his sword sliced through the air, it was as if a light show sprung to life. Mana of various elements burst violently from the blade, displaying vibrant colors that shone like a rainbow. If not for the durability of his weapon, it would have been long shattered to smithereens.

BOOM!

The thatch roof that they were standing on collapsed from the devastating force and landed in the hot spring with a massive splash. Matou had deliberately let his attack miss and aimed at the roof beneath them. He hadn’t forgotten his original goal of capturing his opponent. While he didn’t directly hit Kayden with one of the most powerful attacks in his arsenal, he was sure the aftershock would knock him out.

Matou safely landed back on his feet outside of the hot spring. Water droplets rained down over the area for a short moment, dampening his head. He glanced at the aftermath of their confrontation.

The remains of the thatch roof now filled the hot spring itself. Countless broken pieces of wood lay adrift on the water’s surface. Amidst the destruction, a man burst out of the water, flinging the debris in all directions. The man stood up as if nothing happened!

‘Impossible!’

Matou prompted the system to appraise him, before sighing in relief.

Name:

???

Title:

Shadow, the pest of Babylon

Level:

13

Health:

27/160

Mana:

51/94

Job:

Thief

Status:

Bleeding

 

Although Kayden didn’t leave unscathed, Matou was still surprised that his opponent still managed to remain conscious. He called out to his enemy, “How do you like them apples?”

***

Kayden was quaking in his boots, or he would be if he was wearing any. The last blow would have killed him. He had no misconceptions that he was a good match for the young lord in his current state.

When he was staring down his death earlier, he had briefly considered the idea of using the spell orb in his possession. However, he was very unwilling to potentially waste the inheritance. He had also entertained the possibility that the spell orb might contain an explosion of some kind which would only doom him further. Thus, in that split second, he shoved the spell orb in his mouth and guarded his face with both arms.

The blast from the explosion sent him flying straight down into the water. He was grateful for the water for preventing him from splatting onto the ground like a tomato. What he was not grateful for, however, was the heat biting into his already hurting wounds. That wasn’t all, the debris immediately buried him after, hammering down on his body and leaving him to almost drown underwater.

He burst out of the hot spring, only for him to swallow a breath full of wood dust, and even he was surprised how he still managed to remain conscious. His body had stinging cuts all over, and he was sure some splinters had made their way into his body. He spat out the spell orb and was relieved to see it unharmed.

It was the only happy thing he found in this situation.

“How do you like them apples?”

Kayden looked over at his opponent.

“I don’t get why you need to know my fruit preferences, but I…”

Kayden was downright exhausted. He was sure that further resistance would only lead to a pointless death. And so, without hesitation, he declared,

“I surrender.”

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A note from Kageko

It's a fight scene! Everyone loves them! Right?

 

 

 

right?


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Kageko

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