For a brief moment, my vision went black. The shock that felt so distant made me lose consciousness.
If I had lowered my guard for even an instant, that powerful kick would have hit the side of my head directly, which would have led to me waking to an unknown ceiling once again. The girl quickly retreated in case of an unexpected attack.
Although the atmosphere was rather chilly, Lilka Aaron kept on attacking, which was why the Orbis Class guys seemed rather nervous at first, but with time became a little excited.
However, Lilka Aaron didn’t look that good.
—She was clenching her teeth.
That was when I remember something Ellen once said:
‘My fist hurts.’
‘…It really hurts.’
Ellen and I mostly trained in swordsmanship, but we also frequently practiced close quarter combat.
The reason was simple—she taught me because, looking at what I was up to, she thought that I would have to fight more with my fists rather than a sword.
How should I put it? I was grateful for her consideration, but it did feel rather awkward. However, I didn’t have any reason to refuse.
She pretended not to, but she actually cared a whole lot about me.
Ellen had told me that her arms and legs hurt a lot when she fought with me while I strengthened my body. So after thoroughly beating me up, it was her who asked for a rest.
Although I, as the one who got beaten up, was rather upset that she, as the one who did the beating, whined about her hurting even more, Ellen’s words were true.
When even Ellen Artorius said that, then that would mean that I would be able to defeat my opponent just by letting them hit me—unless a decently strong attack managed to hit my vital points.
That was why I just defended as much as possible.
‘If you deal with someone specializing in close combat, don’t attack them if you can.’
‘I’ll show you. Try.’
Ellen took up a stance in front of me.
She meant that she was just as good as someone specialized in close combat, so if I tried it on her, I would know—that didn’t really surprise me.
As I looked for the gaps in Ellen’s stance, I clenched my fists and launched a jab and a straight at her.
And just like that, Ellen grabbed my arm and put me in a flying armbar.
‘Hey! Hey! Damnit! I got it! I saw it! You’re gonna kill me!”
‘You got it?’
‘Yeah! I got it! I got it! I really got it!”
Even though I went through such a hard time because she was trying to teach me like that, that was the advice she gave me in the end. At one time, when I caught her foot when she launched a frontal kick towards me, She rotated her whole body, putting me into an arm bar again. She showed me many weird and special movements.
In any case, she showed me in various ways that if I punched out and they could grab hold of my arms, I would be in danger.
…What the hell was that?
It was rather shameful that I became a bit embarrassed by all the physical contact.
However, it hurt a lot more.
‘Grappling can be used in many more situations than you can imagine. There are still a lot of things you don’t know yet. You can’t possibly cope with everything that it encompasses.’
‘…Right. What should I do, then?’
‘Don’t lower your guard. Don’t get caught. Don’t catch them.”
If I got caught, they’d grapple me.
If I caught them, they’d grapple me.
Anyway, if I made even the tiniest mistake while attacking, I might get hit by a lethal move which would be the end of it. I couldn’t become a master of close combat when even my swordsmanship was still severely lacking, so Ellen taught me how to deal with someone specialized in close combat.
So the main point was that I shouldn’t mess around if faced with someone like that. If I recklessly trusted in my own strength and attacked, they would destroy me with their technique.
That part wasn’t really about close combat itself. I bet she told me that because she thought that I would get into more fist fights than sword fights.
I couldn’t believe that I was using those things in that situation.
‘You know that guarding is important, right?’
‘Do you know which part you need to guard the most?’
‘Shouldn’t it be my head and face?’
Ellen pointed at her own chin.
‘It’s over if you get hit on the chin. That’s why I’m telling you to not let your guard down.’
When one gets hit on the chin, the shock reaches the brain, making them faint. So it had been said that the most important places to protect were the head, the face, and the chin.
I shouldn’t get caught.
I shouldn’t grab them.
I shouldn’t get hit in the chin.
—So I shouldn’t drop my guard.
‘Then you want me to just get hit?’
‘…Don’t get into fights in the first place.’
‘No! You know how things will turn out!’
It wasn’t just once or twice where Ellen thought that I was pathetic, so everything was fine. Ellen could teach me more about close combat, but that wasn’t her main goal. She only gave me some basic training in case I got into a fight with someone specializing in it.
‘If you just strengthen your body and don’t get hurt seriously, your opponent will just tire themselves out as long as they don’t manage to grab you.’
‘Well, I mean, winning is good and all, but isn’t winning by getting beaten up even sadder than losing?’
I didn’t want to win like that! I’d rather lose!
Aah, I’m too tired. It’s my loss.
It was just sad! It was just like my winning mentality!
‘Is there really nothing?’
Ellen sighed briefly at my whining, then looked at me.
‘You are much harder to deal with than others, especially in close combat, because of your supernatural ability.’
Because of my ability to strengthen and harden my body, I could even make Ellen say that she was in pain in close combat with me.
‘So, just hit them as you get hit.’
‘Deliberately allow them to attack excessively, and then hit back harder.’
Ellen furrowed her brows as she said so.
‘Think about it. In every fight involving close combat, they have to close in to attack, As long as they don’t use any tools, every time they get in your reach would create another gap. Every time they attack just creates one big gap in their guard.’
‘Just trick them.’
‘Let them think they are keeping you in check and hold on. Don’t be reckless. Just pretend that you don’t care and let them hit you. Don’t even try to clumsily respond to their attacks, and just act like an idiot. That way, your opponent will get careless because they’ll think that you’re clumsy.’
‘Then they’ll make bigger and bigger moves to knock you out. If you just let yourself get hit, they’ll get impatient and try to end it, mostly by using some big technique or move. What I’m trying to tell you is to make your opponent drop their guard.’
‘While you’re just getting hit, your opponent will exhaust themselves. If you don’t drop, the one on the offensive will get more and more tired, and they will want to finish it as fast as possible then. That’s when the big techniques will appear.’
‘Big movements, of course, will create huge gaps.’
‘That’s when you attack.’
‘Don’t try to block them.’
‘Don’t block them, and just hit them at the same time.’
‘That’s what’s important. Deceive your opponent, pretend that you’re clumsy. Pretend that you only know how to get hit. That way you’ll either make them feel impatient or make them think that you’re a weakling.’
‘Then you’ll hit them with a counter.’
‘You just have to knock them out with that single blow.’
I was better than anyone else in taking a beating. Her advice was to wait for them to make a big move and then hit them harder. If I allowed enough hits without collapsing and KO’d my opponent, I’d win no matter what.
I just had to trust in my stamina, which was unusually greater than others.
Every attack would create a gap. It was essentially a loss to offset those gaps by uselessly going on the defense.
A counter that would pierce through that gap called an attack…
While the opponent attacked, I couldn’t prepare to defend. It wasn’t an exchange of attack and defense, it was an exchange of attacks. Since I had my supernatural power to physically reinforce me, I had to trust in it and just throw one powerful hit and knock them out.
Ellen told me that I wouldn’t be able to beat someone specialized in close combat with technique, so I should just believe in my supernatural ability and let them just cut my flesh to cut through them.
Victory belonged to the last person standing anyway. No matter if one had the upper hand before or not, the one who fell in the end would lose.
I had the advantage in a war of attrition. Even though the damage slowly accumulated, it wasn’t unbearable.
Lilka Aaron was keeping her distance, looking for another opportunity to go in.
As Ellen said, if I tried to grab her prematurely or try to land an attack directly, It might’ve be fatal. And although I had been slightly trained in close quarter combat, I hadn’t delved too deep into it yet.
I knew a bit about the sword, but I certainly didn’t know all the takedowns martial artists could perform.
Her main attack was kicking. I presumed it was because that was the only method for someone of her small stature to ensure a wide reach.
-Pak! Pow! Pak!
Her leg strength was amazing, but that was all. She wasn’t as good as Ellen.
* * *
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
Actually, maybe my stamina wasn’t the way it was because of my supernatural power, but because I had been getting beaten up so much every day that it couldn’t be helped but get raised, right? In fact, that seemed to have played a big part in it.
It hurt, but it wasn’t unbearable.
I was still fine, but my opponent was getting tired.
My body was a little harder than that of a normal person, so while she wasn’t getting hit at all, she still seemed to be in pain.
Even if I wasn’t as hard as a rock, it was only natural that she looked the way she did because she continued to kick that hard body of mine.
Winning by just getting hit wasn’t a pleasant way to win, but it actually looked to be happening.
There were various emotions showing up on Lilka Aaron’s face.
Why isn’t he going down?
He should have gone down just now.
His guard is very firm and he doesn’t look tired at all, nor does he look like he took damage.
I have to quickly finish him somehow…
Or I might be the one to fall first.
That was the kind of anxiousness and impatience she was showing.
As Ellen had said, Lilka Aaron seemed to have fallen into the mindset that she might go down first at that rate.
She was going to do something.
She approached me quickly and kicked me in the abdomen.
As soon as I was pushed back and my posture was in disarray, she leaped up into the air again.
An aerial back kick—the rotational force behind it was much stronger than before.
Therefore, the gap she left was much bigger as well.
The kick was directed towards my left side.
I didn’t back off, but rather rushed into it, keeping my left guard up.
My left arm would take care of guarding.
While I pulled back my right hand…
I would hit her as I was getting hit.
I felt a heavy shock running through my left arm.
And the strong sensation of having hit something ran through my right.
Lilka Aaron flew backwards and rolled along the floor as soon as she landed her aerial back kick.
I felt a bit dizzy because I had been hit by such a kick without guarding properly, but I didn’t fall down.
“Kuhuk! Arg! Urg! Hub!”
Lilka Aaron, on the other hand, was lying on the floor of the training hall, belly up.
She wasn’t even able to breathe properly.
It was only natural, as she was hit by my counter when she least expected it.
Everyone was just staring at me after I knocked my opponent down in a single attack.
The fight was over. In the end, even though she succeeded in landing numerous attacks, she was downed in a single blow.
“Cough … Ugh… H-huu…”
However, Lilka Aaron shuddered and forced herself to stand up.
I could see horror permeating her eyes.
I was looking into the eyes of someone who had been utterly defeated but had still forced herself to stand up because she couldn’t afford to lose.
The fight had already concluded.
I could see her legs trembling: Just standing was hard enough for her. That was only natural after unexpectedly getting punched into the stomach like that.
I even strengthened my body with my supernatural power.
It was already miraculous that she managed to stand up. However, even though her legs were already shaky, she got into position and confronted me with her teeth clenched.
It had to have felt like I was a fortress that wouldn’t collapse no matter how much she attacked me.
She had attacked a plethora of times and was hit just once. However, it seemed like she couldn’t believe that she was driven to that point by just that one attack.
She had lost her will to fight, but she couldn’t give up.
It wasn’t her who had to kneel down, but her senior who would have to take responsibility. She was far too afraid of the price she would have to pay for the humiliation he would have to experience.
Lilka Aaron simply couldn’t fall.
However, even though her concentration and body had already reached their limit, Lilka Aaron rushed at me once again. Her movements weren’t swift and nimble to the point where I couldn’t grasp them like before.
However, she was still fast.
Avoiding her kicks, I punched out, aiming at her face that time.
However, as if she had predicted that, she dodged my fist by slightly twisting her head.
That wasn’t all…
She grabbed my wrist and at the same time she propped her body up and placed her legs against my neck.
However, I had already foreseen that she would come at me like that.
I’d given her that arm on purpose. If I fell down like that and got completely caught, it would be over.
It strengthened my muscles to the extreme.
She tried to grapple me while her body had already reached its limit. Even though I was in a more disadvantageous position, I was able to force myself out of it.
I forcefully flung that girl hanging onto my arm against the training hall’s floor.
Lilka Aaron, who hit the floor with her back, got the wind knocked out of her lungs. Although one could overcome the gap in physique with skill, one couldn’t overcome that rather big weight difference when one’s body had already been pushed over its limits.
So even if she tried to lock my joints, I could get myself out of her holds through my own strength.
I watched her quietly as she forced herself to stand up after I had thrown her on the floor.
There was no sense in fighting anymore.
It had already ended after I’d landed that counter into her stomach. However, the moment I could forcibly release myself from her armbar, it was definitely more than over.
She was in no state to continue when she couldn’t keep me in a suppression hold like that, much less win that fight.
Everyone knew that it was Lilka Aaron’s defeat. Everyone knew that Lilka Aaron couldn’t win against me.
It was my victory by a large margin.
Even that unnamed fourth-year senior who watched over the fight had to have known.
However, Lilka Aaron still stood up, her legs staggering.
If neither of us surrendered or was completely unable to fight, neither of us would lose.
There wasn’t anyone who would do something like declare someone’s defeat. We didn’t have a judge. It wasn’t a duel, it was just a fight.
She would never utter a single word of surrender. Her eyes were telling me that she’d rather die than declare her surrender with her own mouth.
She looked like she was going to experience something horrible otherwise.
The senior had asked to see our guts.
Lilka Aaron had to prove herself, even in that situation where defeat was inevitable.
She had to prove that she’d done her best.
She had to show that she had done everything she could in every way to protect her senior’s honor.
She had to fight until she became completely incapacitated to reduce the price she had to pay for her weakness, if even only by a little bit.
That was why that girl, who couldn’t even stand properly anymore, just clenched her teeth and got up again and again.
The Orbis Class…
One of the special Classes inside of Temple along with the Royal Class.
A place in which one had to prove oneself through one’s effort, not talent. That was why I’d set it up as a place in which military-like discipline, strict training, and a clear hierarchy between seniors and juniors existed.
I always felt surprised or uncomfortable when I found those unexpected ways in which my settings specifically worked.
In that case, I felt really uncomfortable.
This world was created based on a few words I’d strung together.
There were people who had to suffer from all the absurdities I had placed into this world.
Every time I saw someone like that, I would feel a certain sense of responsibility, guilt, and discomfort.
Lilka Aaron had already been defeated, but she still stood up, even while shaking, just to prove that she had done her best.
When I lightly kicked her thigh, the girl’s posture completely crumbled, making her land on her butt.
My only thoughts were that I couldn’t bring myself to attack an already collapsed opponent with all my might.
She stood up again, trembling like a newborn calf. The girl came towards me again to attack me as much as possible just to be beaten again. Her attacks didn’t hurt anymore even when I didn’t strengthen it.
It was mere desperation.
Giving up wouldn’t work.
On the contrary, it wouldn’t mean anything if I surrendered. Everyone could see that Lilka Aaron wouldn’t have won.
Everyone present watched that long concluded fight in total silence. All the Orbis Class’ first-years wore miserable expressions.
Some of them wanted to step in, but because that senior was there, that wasn’t possible. The senior was just quietly watching over the fight with his arms crossed.
I felt like I was being bullied. I had to beat up that girl who had already lost her will to fight, incapable of keeping going, who just kept on standing up again and again, her eyes completely dead.
She was looking at me.
It seemed like she wanted to say something with her eyes.
I couldn’t make out any details, but I could read her one desire from them.
Please, make me faint.
Don’t let me get up.
—That was what her eyes seemed to plead.
Yeah, even though it couldn’t be called a fight anymore, my opponent was forced to keep going.
Surrendering wasn’t the best I could do for that opponent of mine, who was made to keep fighting, all I could do was end the fight.
“Come on, sleep.”
I got close to Lilka Aaron and dug my fist into her stomach once again.
Lilka Aaron, after receiving a strong hit to her abdomen once again, was left lying on the training hall’s floor, her head looking up.
She didn’t get up.
The senior who had been watching from the sidelines briefly declared the fight’s end.
“Hey, take her to the priest on duty.”
At those words, some of the first-year students rushed forward and carried away the collapsed Lilka Aaron. I’d hit her quite hard. If I hadn’t, she might not have fainted.
Maybe I ended up rupturing her gut or something. That was something for the priest on duty to take care of.
She wasn’t going to die.
[Challenge completed – Fight with the Orbis Class]
[500 achievement points acquired.]
I could also confirm that the main purpose of the fight had been accomplished.
“You won, Reinhardt.”
The unknown fourth-year senior approached me and placed his arm on my shoulder.
“What’s the matter? You should be happy about your victory. My, for her to lose so overwhelmingly, even if she was just ranked fifth… I didn’t expect that to happen. That would mean that everyone below fifth place would also lose to you…”
The senior grinned, scanning the faces of the other Orbis Class students who remained in the training hall.
“Was I a bit too lax as your senior…?”
I knew what those words meant. Everyone’s expressions, which had completely hardened before, were colored in fear. It was Lilka Aaron who lost, but in the end, that meant that I had defeated those below her as well.
All of them had to pay the price of defeat.
“Anyway, a promise is a promise, I shall apologize as a representative of…”
“I don’t need your apology.”
I looked him straight in the face and shook off the hand he placed over my shoulder.
I couldn’t help but realize it after seeing it with my own eyes…
That place was bound to create many more monsters like Ender Wilton, over and over again. His case was just slightly more radical and somewhat unusual.
It was impossible not to get completely broken in that kind of environment.
No one could be free in that system that promoted and enforced loathing, jealousy, hatred and feelings of inferiority.
There was no way that anyone could remain sane under that constant pressure to improve.
“Just fight me, you fucking bastard.”
In the end…
No matter how one put it, I was taking it really bitterly.