The old prince’s Skill set was greatly solid. Although he only had two transcendental domain Skills, he had a very large number of Skills that had reached the limit of the ordinary domain, MAX-rank, and SSS-rank. That didn’t mean I was at a disadvantage, however; put radically, there was no reason for me, having three Skills at the transcendental domain, to lose the prince who only had two. This was because the transcendental domain didn’t simply increase the effect of a Skill.
It stimulated something a little more at the essence of it all.
Though even I didn’t know exactly what that something was!
Like how Miss Trainee Teacher had said, it had an influence on the way the Skill user existed. To put it simply, the transcendental domain Z-rank effect of a Skill boasted a high-efficiency that overwhelmed that of the ordinary domain—at times, to a far greater extent than all of the ordinary domain effects combined. This was what described a Skill that had reached Z-rank.
“That’s definitely how it should be…?”
Yet I was being pushed back without a doubt. The gap in our strength had shown itself clearly from the first moment our weapons clashed.
The old prince swiftly dodged Holy Sword 2, which was enveloped in Divinity and Dark Energy, and the blue lightsaber he had summoned grazed past my chest.
The injury was at the level of a slight scratch. My Divinity played a part in protecting me, but it was more that the attack was far too lacking to pierce my skin, highly compressed by the layers of enhancement achieved by Master Mollang’s teachings. Nevertheless, I was definitely on the receiving end in merely the first exchange.
“O new generation Hero, are you not clumsy?”
I had expected being pushed back in terms of technical skill from the start. When thinking about it objectively, I had spent a total of 17 years—or actually 11 years—in that barbaric fantasy world, but before that I was an ordinary student. In contrast, the old prince had experienced at least hundreds of years of battle, a very long period of time. The difference in ability that came from that couldn’t be ignored.
Even in the 6th Playthrough, in the Cave of Training, I had taken a one-sided beating for that reason. Although I was able to win thanks to Divinity(Z)’s normal attack immunity, I was several levels lower in terms of pure ability. In terms of Skills, though, I was superior.
I covered my body in Z-rank blessing, added another layer of blessing on top, then enhanced that effect with Holy Sword 2’s amplification. Preparations done, I took action.
I saw the old prince gasp at having lost track of my movements for one moment.
“Even that proud skill of yours is useless if you’re slow, isn’t it?”
I smiled complacently as I closed the distance and vertically swung down Holy Sword 2.
The old prince was no easy foe though, as expected. He forced his relatively slower body to twist and dodged to the side.
The black and white whirlwind that cut empty air cut a vertical line which extended into the deep ocean. Immediately afterward…
“And as for you, your Skill is wasted on you.”
Trading tit for tat, the old prince flicked the wrist of his right hand holding the lightsaber. Even that light motion contained a subtlety that came from Swordsmanship that had reached SSS-rank and couldn’t be carelessly ignored—the blue lightsaber came jabbing towards my throat. The power behind the attack was threatening, but it was no use if it was slow.
I ignored the old prince’s counterattack and launched a powerful kick at his belly, but his body that was as hard as diamond didn’t budge; all that shook was his surrounding.
A shockwave so powerful as to distort the atmosphere swiftly spread throughout the entire Pacific Ocean in the shape of a concentric circle.
It was such a powerful kick and yet…!
“Damned dirty prince! Your Level’s as insane as your age!”
Even despite holding the upper hand regarding Skill, I couldn’t help myself from cursing upon noticing the reason why I couldn’t predict my chances of winning.
“It’s the product of effort, not age!”
Sensitively reacting to my outburst, the prince pounced towards me at once and this time he was significantly fast; however, it wasn’t enough to catch up to my speed.
“Tin Can! Knife!”
“It’s a Holy Sword!”
Quickly summoning forth Golem D, I took Holy Sword 3 from it as if stealing and wielded it with my left hand. Now I was holding a Holy Sword each in both hands.
The old prince was slightly startled at recognizing Holy Sword 3, with which I blocked his blue lightsaber and made a pretty horizontal cut at his waist using Holy Sword 2.
I felt the sensation of having landed a good hit—this time it had struck properly.
“Haha! How good!”
Dual wielding is a technique that heavily depends on personal style. You might simply think that two swords are better than one, but it isn’t as easy to utilize as in theory. For instance, imagine yourself holding a smartphone in both hands and chatting with Lover A and Lover B separately. If you use them well, you could achieve a fantastic multi-tasking feat of raising intimacy with both Lover A and Lover B, but it could also end up being the shortcut to ruin.
That’s what dual-wielding is. So how was I doing with it?
Dual Wield(F)→Dual Wield(E)
Just slightly better than a beginner at dual wielding, but that was enough for the present. I had no intention of dragging out the battle; my aim was to pin the opponent down with pure speed and power.
His clothes bloodied and reduced to tatters, the old prince retreated behind dark clouds surrounded by a storm.
“I’m not letting you get away!”
I kept hot on his heels, not giving him distance. It would have been great if I could have cut off a finger or two of the prince, but as my weapons weren’t satisfactory, I only managed to cut flesh to the extent of revealing some bone. Nevertheless, victory was definitely leaning towards my side.
My gaze met with the frowning prince’s and I was slightly surprised at how calm he looked despite being in such a disadvantaged situation.
He made a declaration in a low tone.
“… I shall acknowledge you somewhat, O dirty Hero. From now on, I will face you not as a warrior, but as a prince.”
“Ha! Even if you bluff at this poin… Huh?!”
The movements of the old prince, who wasn’t able to catch up to my speed, suddenly grew fast—and overwhelmined mine.
A small crack appeared on Holy Sword 3’s blade, which I had used to barely block the prince’s surprise attack using his blue lightsaber.
A red alarm blared inside my head. Immediately after the man had declared he would fight as a prince and not a warrior, it wasn’t only his speed that had increased; his overall abilities had improved.
“Just what the hell is… Ah!”
I recalled the old prince’s Job.
The stronger the country of this prince, the more his Skill Willpower would become enhanced. However, it was genuinely my first time coming across a case where this kind of effect was so extreme—just how amazing a kingdom did he belong to?
The old prince proceeded to speak in a tone which a gamer that had activated a cheat key might use.
“Be honored, O Hero. The number of times I have unleashed my Job perk, which I kept sealed due to its too great power, could be counted on a hand.”
“Ah, is that so.”
To speak of a cheat key, I had one myself; I unsummoned Holy Sword 3 and Saintess H, and after activating the Skill “Infinite”, I unsparingly squeezed out the power I had in me. Divinity, Dark Energy, Battle Spirit, Fighting Skill, Willpower, Swordforce, Magic Power… I had many of resource-type Skills. I didn’t use these one after another, but all at once.
Holy Sword 2 creaked upon containing the entirety of the resultant force.
That demon butler from the other day had destroyed a Holy Sword using a Z-rank curse, which was possible because the sword was a weakened version with its power divided. The very same restriction and limit applied to this Holy Sword 2, which was why the sword was at its limit from having too much power injected into it, but I didn’t stop as it could become useless if I held back.
“… Is this place not supposed to be your home planet?”
The old prince asked with puzzlement.
“I don’t give a damn for an Earth without me!”
Our main battlefield, the Pacific Ocean, already resembled a scene of hell. Thunder and lightning in the sky along with a typhoon and whirlwinds was only the start, and there were pillars of water spouting up from everywhere. As tall tidal waves crashed towards all four directions, they swept everything away as if cleaning up.
Even the submarine volcanoes sleeping in the abyssal depths were exploding in series.
“That makes sense.”
Wearing a triumphant smile, the old prince took a stance as he distanced himself from me. Was it that he giving me time to gather strength? Or was he also gathering strength to meet me head on? Whatever the case, I didn’t refuse his intention.
I had lost my wings upon unsummoning Saintess H, but that didn’t result in me plunging into the wild waters of the ocean as I was imitating the old prince’s flying technique; I had obtained a rocket-like propulsive force through a gray whirlwind formed from the powers of Divinity and Dark Energy colliding. That was what I was using to keep in the air.
I would be able to gather much greater power if I dragged out more time here, but I had no choice as Holy Sword 2 wouldn’t be able to withstand it. More than anything, the old prince’s expression that was unconcerned at whatever I did had been bothering me from a while ago. Using blitz tactics in these sorts of times was the way to go.
“Go to hell!”
“I told you that you are clumsy.”
The time of the world began to diminish and even my body, which I had thought wouldn’t be affected, gradually slowed to the point where it had practically come to a stop.
What was going on?
The old prince’s movements had become as sluggish as mine, yet his face wasn’t disconcerted like mine.
“Hey. What did you do?”
I questioned the calm prince with a glare.
“This is the polished power of a Hero.”
The prince’s two eyes were burning with a purple light as he answered, like the statue of the First Hero enshrined in the Cave of Training.
He then continued to speak.
“Have you never felt doubt? As to the origin of the Skills and Levels given to you. The excessive generosity and favor shown by the transcendental being that granted the system called Status, capable of trampling over an opponent without much effort. Did you not irresponsibly ignore all this, to first enjoy and see how things played out?”
I had constantly felt doubt regarding this myself, but I decided to hold my tongue as I felt the old prince would keep mum if I replied as such. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt, no?
As expected, the old prince turned triumphant and continued to chatter on.
“O foolish Hero, listen carefully. Those trifling abilities do not belong to you. Even if you have the power to destroy the galaxy in a single breath, it is nothing but a fantasy that will disappear like a mirage if the original owner takes it back. It is no more than a power borrowed from a transcendental being.”
“It’s make believe, you say?”
“Indeed. A false power.”
The prince asserted that these fantasy abilities were fiction, so I gave him a piece of my mind in return.
“Look here, you old prince. You call the Levels and Skills of Statuses a false power yet you use them well enough yourself. Isn’t that a contradiction then?”
Even as we talked, the distance between us was closing. Although we were moving at a snail’s pace, our “false powers” were soon going to clash.
The old prince replied to my question in a perfectly calm manner.
“This power is very convenient, you see. You can easily become strong by intuition like a game character, and it is even possible to transfer power to others as well. The new generation Heroes call it EXP, was it? That is why I regularly make use of it myself. Mainly, I use it to grant eternal life to females, when I spot one that I like, and keep them by my side until I tire of them. Are you not the same?”
I had no companions, let alone a woman.
“Is, is that so… You are truly a strange one…”
“Right back at you.”
The man jabbered on about the power being false to another, yet ultimately he was saying he would continue using it as it was convenient. Wasn’t he a scoundrel instead of a prince? In the first place, would that so-called owner, the transcendental being, even have the intention of taking his own power? And if he did, just how powerful was he or she?
I simply couldn’t imagine.
Time was almost up and there were only moments before two enormous forces collided! Yet the old prince continued to yap without losing composure.
“In truth, there was no need to even talk so much to you like this. But rather than letting you die in complete ignorance, I wanted to see you collapse at the realization of being betrayed by the very abilities you had absolute belief in until now.”
“What a pervert.”
“Haha! This is the only time you can hold your head so high, relying on the power of another.”
“Have you never heard? That being long-winded leads to an early exit.”
The old prince replied without being shaken by my rebuke.
“Wake up from your dreams and hopes, O foolish Hero!”
The purple brilliance in the old prince’s eyes exploded everywhere and swallowed not only me, but also this entire area. And immediately afterward…
Everything disappeared like it was all a lie.