In the 80th floor of Fáfnir, 『The Blue Knight’s Hall』―――
Ann launches an acid bullet.
The glob of acid hurtles at high speed.
Yet, Ragin effortlessly dodges it.
―――He dodged… Indeed, while he can neutralize “magic”, he cannot neutralize the “acid” itself.
This fact was confirmed earlier when the acid grazed Ragin’s helm.
If his armor could nullify magic and its corresponding phenomena, there would be no need for him to dodge the attack in the first place.
There should be no need to dodge or deflect.
In order to confirm this, Ann knowingly launched a futile Acid Bullet.
The acid is generated within her own body, so it isn’t magical in nature.
Then, she confirms another thing.
『…Your armor, it’s empty, isn’t it?』
This is about Ragin’s true nature.
While it might sound negative, it essentially refers to the kind of monster he is.
She has understood it.
「Ho… noticed, have you?」
Saying so, Ragin removes his helm.
There’s nothing inside.
Only a hollow emptiness spreads before her.
『A Living Armor… A monster that houses its soul and magic in its armor after death.』
「Indeed, although to be precise, I’m a superior version of it.」
『As I suspected…』
During their exchanges, Ragin had been noticeably evasive.
He dodged her slashing attacks and the earlier Acid Bullet.
Despite being shielded by such armor, she had found it odd that he didn’t use it for defense. The reason was that his true form was the armor itself.
『I see… I’m glad my assumptions were correct.』
Ragin tilts his head.
Now that his true identity is known, what could it possibly mean?
Again, Ann kicks off the ground.
Closing the gap, she approaches Ragin, swinging the twin swords in her hands.
『Leviathan, Maximum Extended Slash!』
Next, the sword in Ann’s hand shines.
It’s the ability of Leviathan, a massive slash.
The blade, which could also be described as a pillar of light, is directly swung down onto Ragin.
Ragin receives it with the large sword in his hand.
The moment the swords clash, the pillar of light shrinks rapidly.
The massive magical power dwelling in the slash is vanishing.
『That’s not the end!』
Next, her other sword. the Earth Dragon Sword approaches with a side slash.
Of course, she has poured magical power into it, purely increasing its sharpness and hardness.
Ragin only has one sword.
He cannot block this one.
With a clashing sound, unbelievably, Ragin “catches” the blade with his hand.
A single-handed version of catching a blade barehanded.
An enormous amount of combat experience, along with terrifying reflexes and dynamic visual acuity.
Those enable this daring feat.
The sound of the sword clashing and the sound of the gauntlet rubbing against the sword echo around.
「I thought you had a plan, but to think it was just a reckless charge―――」
『No, it’s just starting―――’Acid Spear’!』
An acid spear from point-blank range.
The spear of acid, reinforced for penetrating power, approaches aimed at Ragin’s helm.
But Ragin is no ordinary opponent.
While holding back the force of the sword with undiminished strength, he shifts his body’s axis to dodge this.
「Tch, I still got hit.」
The acid spear grazes his shoulder.
Just slightly, but smoke rises from the pauldron of his armor.
――――This is my chance!
At this moment, Ann takes her gamble.
With a quick movement, she lets go of the Earth Dragon sword in her right hand.
Perhaps unexpected even for Ragin, the balance of the gauntlet holding the Earth Dragon sword is upset.
This offset affects the other hand, the one locked in a sword clash.
Ann immediately grasps the degraded version of the Sacred Sword Leviathan with both hands.
『Maximum Extended Slash!』
The light of the sword was on the verge of extinction.
Again, Ann pours magical power into it, expanding and reinforcing her slash attack.
In the current state of disturbed balance, her enhancement has a slight edge over the speed of nullifying the greatsword.
She parries Ragin’s sword and immediately smashes her slash into him.
Straight to the shoulder guard grazed by the acid spear.
『Even if the armor negates magic! At this distance!』
The instant it hits the shoulder guard, she pours in an enormous amount of magic, further enhancing Leviathan.
And she hammers it down.
The tip of Leviathan is driven into Ragin’s shoulder.
「Guh… GAAAAAAAAAAH! That’s… too naïve!」
But Ragin won’t be finished so easily.
He takes his now free right hand and swings it into his chest, grabbing Leviathan.
Next, he discards the sword he held and presses that hand against Ann’s flank.
A dull thud echoes.
A pain that felt like a reflux within her, so intense.
To begin with, Ann’s body, just like any ant, is made of an exoskeleton.
The inside is weaker than other monster.
Already, several Piercing Strike have left Ann’s insides a wreck.
But, she doesn’t let go.
Holding the sword with both hands.
The blade of Leviathan has already reached the chestplate of the armor.
Ragin’s magic nullification triggers, the light subsides, and it reverts to a mere sword.
Even so, Ann does not let go.
「Let go of that sword!!!」
A second Piercing Strike.
Ann’s insides are stirred and torn apart once more.
Finally, Ann releases her hold.
But the next moment, she lunges fiercely at Ragin’s shoulder and bites down.
Her fangs clamp down on the armor.
Smoke rises from the armor with a hissing sound.
「 ――――Get off!!!」
Overwhelmed by her relentless attack, Ragin delivers a backhand blow to Ann, prying her off.
Unable to defend herself properly, Ann bounces off the floor.
「Haa… Haa… What a persistence. You’ve done well, despite being my enemy.」
How prepared the opponent was for this attack is evident from this injury.
But, that’s it.
The blade is deeply embedded in the armor, but it’s not a fatal blow.
Ragin tries to pull out the embedded blade and realizes something.
「Hmm? …Is this acid?」
Apparently, she had poured acid when she bit him earlier.
Thanks to this, the armor and the sword are partially melted and stuck together.
Seeing that it’s not going to be easy to remove, Ragin immediately breaks the sword from the base with a karate chop.
『Haa… Haa… Kuh…』
Ann watches this scene silently.
A physical strength that easily breaks Leviathan, even if it’s an inferior version.
With the blade still lodged in him, Ragin heads towards Ann.
「That exchange was splendid. You’re the most spirited one I’ve ever faced, even counting those from my living days.」
The greatest compliment for a warrior.
Slowly, his steps lead him towards Ann.
On his way, he picks up the greatsword he had dropped.
「But, this is the end.」
Without hesitation, Ragin brings down his greatsword, targeting Ann.
However, she narrowly dodges it.
「Ho, she dodged…」
Just like that, Ann rolls on the ground.
Swiftly, she springs back to her feet and creates distance between them.
The Earth Dragon Sword is considerably far away.
『Kuh, if only… if only I had it!』
Saying so, Ann heads towards the Earth Dragon Sword.
「Ho, you still haven’t given up! Impressive! But, the outcome has already been decided!」
Ragin follows suit.
He reaches the Earth Dragon Sword that had fallen to the floor faster than Ann.
『Earth Dragon Sword! If I can just get it, I can still fight!』
While yelling, Ann sprints towards the sword.
But―――before Ann can reach out, Ragin arrives there first.
And then, it shatters.
With all his might, Ragin strikes the Earth Dragon Sword with the greatsword he holds.
A dry sound echoes.
Now that Leviathan is broken, the only weapon Ann had…
…has been destroyed.
That’s what Ragin must be thinking.
He was lured into thinking this!
Hence, an opening arises.
Yes, Ann still has her greatest weapon as an ant, her “fangs.”
And her real “trump card” is not the Earth Dragon Sword!
With a battle cry, Ann charges towards Ragin.
Even the unruffled Ragin widens his eyes in surprise.
He wonders why this ant, having lost her weapon, charges at him.
That moment of distraction was fatal.
Ragin allows Ann to get close.
Just like that, Ann drives her fangs in.
Not into Ragin―――but into the “Leviathan” lodged in his armor.
She thrusts the blade in.
Next, she pours her magic into it.
『――――Slash Enhancement Activate!』
Light begins to flood from within Ragin.
『…..Haa….Haa…. Given that you, whose true form is the armor, possess the characteristic to nullify magic, you should dissipate by your own power….』
With a determined set of her jaw, Ann braces herself.
This time, she will not let go.
『So, I hypothesized that the power of the armor only affected the ‘surface’… It seems my guess was right.』
Not the outside, but the inside.
An attack from inside the armor.
A step beyond point-blank range.
In a sense, a counter to the Piercing Strike, her greatest blow.
The destruction from within, by the enhancement and extension of the slashing power of Leviathan, still lodged inside.
This was Ann’s real trump card.
「Guh… The acid spear from before! That too…」
He had thought he dodged it at the last moment.
As a result, he assumed it had hit his shoulder.
But, he was mistaken.
『Yes, I was sure you would avoid it…』
That too was a setup.
All for this moment.
She pours magic into it.
Transferring it through her own fangs to the blade of Leviathan.
Even though the sword was broken, its functions should still be operational.
After all, this sword is―――a weapon crafted by Lord Earth.
It wouldn’t be made so frail as to cease functioning just because it was broken.
In her weapon.
In its strength.
The light of the slashing strike activates once more.
It pours out from the gaps in the armor!
「Guuahh! Let… gooooooo!!!」
A Piercing Strike.
A dull pain runs through Ann’s body.
But, the damage is less than she anticipated.
In turn, cracks form on her chitinous body surface.
The point of force is shifted, and the shock is transmitted across her body.
She’s barely hanging on.
So is Ragin.
―――Leviathan, Slash Enhancement!
A flash of light again.
「Don’t… underestimate meeeeeeeeee!!!」
Here, Ragin abandons his Piercing Strike and attempts to smash Ann with the great sword in his hand.
To sever her head.
――――Leviathan, Maximum Extended Slash!!!
Ragin brings his sword down.
The sword in his hand.
Ann doesn’t evade.
No, she can’t evade.
Therefore, she has to defeat Ragin first.
Maximum Extended Slash―――!!
In an instant, a gigantic pillar of light pierces Ragin’s body from within.
Suddenly, the great sword heading towards Ann’s neck―――stops.
At the same time, Ann’s fangs detach from the blade.
For Ann too, this was the limit.
As such, Ann collapses, leaning against Ragin.
With a thud, Ragin pushes Ann.
Though it was a slight push without much force, Ann couldn’t resist.
Inertia obeys, and Ann falls to the floor.
Watching her, Ragin quietly murmurs.
With a creaking sound, Ragin’s armor crumbles away.
By a narrow margin.
Just a small difference, but Ragin’s crumbling was quicker.
『Haa… Haa… Haa…』
「…You’re called Ann, right?」
Ragin throws the sword in his hand at Ann.
『What is this—――—?』
What do you mean by this? As Ann was about to ask, Ragin answered before she could.
「It’s called the Magic Sword Ridilll. One of your swords has been broken, and the other will crumble with my body. From now on, use this. It’s a bit of a wild horse, but I’m sure you can handle it.」
『……Why are you giving this to me?』
Ragin taps his chest.
「There’s enough to ascend to the heavens in this soul alone. I don’t need a weapon.」
Furthermore, Ragin continues.
「I’m satisfied. As a floor master, as a warrior, I was able to throw myself into a full-force battle. Anything more would be a luxury. Besides, it’s a given that there’s a reward for defeating a floor master, right?」
With a loud laugh, Ragin continues to smile.
And then, Ragin looks off into the distance.
「……Fal, I’m sorry, but I’ll be going ahead. I’ll be waiting for you, fuhahahaha!」
With those words, Ragin becomes particles of light and disappears.
For just a moment, she thought she saw the figure of a black-haired young man in the light.
Straightforward yet somewhat absent-minded, that kind of young man’s figure.
―――On this day, Ann achieves an “extraordinary feat.”
The “solo defeat” of a disaster-designated species.
A clearly defined class of monsters.
She broke that, Ann did.
She still hasn’t realized the magnitude of her “extraordinary feat.”
The battle is over.
『Haa… Haa… Lord Earth, I’m sorry, I struggled…』
Saying so, Ann turns to look behind her.
To seek the figure of her liege lord, whom she is to protect.
In the corner of the room where she casts her gaze…
There was no one.
Earth… was nowhere to be seen.
Ann frantically scans her surroundings.
『Where… where are you?』
In the 80th floor of Fáfnir, 『The Blue Knight’s Hall』
July 2023 Patron: GoatBeards