Chapter 19 [Shadow]
TL : Cnine
ED/PF : MystiKnight
The night after the revenge match against Tendouji Ayato had been decided. While everyone else was relaxing in their own rooms or the lounge, Souji had left the dormitory alone and went towards the back of the building.
Grasping a long wooden training spear that he received from his home in his hands –
In a spot behind the building where he would be alone, Souji took up a stance with his spear while adjusting his breathing, and then slowly thrust his spear forward with both hands.
Again and again, he repeated this excruciatingly slow stab over and over for a long time.
While at first glance it seemed to be easy, Souji’s forehead was dripping with sweat.
That was because it was a stabbing motion that utilized all the senses in his body, from his arms, back, waist, thigh, shoulder, ankle, and even up to his toes. It was testing his nerves more so than exhausting his stamina.
However, it was only through constant repetition that one would be able to etch this form into their body, allowing them to master the Sorachi-style Ougi, ‘The One True Stab [Shin no Hitotsuki]’.
Those who have yet to reach true mastery have no choice but to wholeheartedly repeat this kind of training.
Soon, a full hour had passed. Souji let go of his spear after having done 300 repetitions.
「I’ll leave it here for today」
Normally he would go on for another hour, but since there were still tomorrow’s lessons and an important match, he held back a little.
In addition, there was a different training he had to do.
Lying down on his back and facing the night sky, Souji drew out power from his whole body while repeatedly taking a deep breath.
While any normal person would think that all he was doing was lying down, it was in fact martial arts training.
First weakening the feeling and strengthening it, first feeling it opening and then closing it.
To reach his peak, he had to exhaust his entire body. This was the only way to extract all the power he had.
Now stabilising his breath, he kept extracting his power little by little from his fingers, feeling as if his body had melted and vanished.
And so, his 『Self』vanished into 『Nothingness*』.
And so, Souji’s 『Existance』was only as a right hand, giving his consciousness and being many 『Forms』.
He felt his body vanishing, while his consciousness moved to his right hand. It was as if he had another brain in his right hand.
Feeling satisfied with the results, Souji’s exhaustion dissipated and he recovered the spear with his hand.
「It looks like everything’s running smoothly」
「Whatever you’re doing seems really interesting」
Behind him, the voice of a woman sounded out as she appeared.
Before his body became paralyzed with dread, Souji’s body reacted faster than his mind with movements that were etched into his very being.
He swept his spear with one hand while turning to the right.
Sorachi Style – Willow Windmill.
A technique used for counter-attacking; it struck the opponent’s spine while avoiding any surprise attacks from behind.
But, as his spear cut through the empty air without any resistance, the sound of a woman laughing rang out along with the light sound of her landing on the ground.
「Ahah, as expected of the ancient martial arts combat style, to hide such a nasty skill」
Just like a moon shining in the heavens, she praised him as if sneering while a wide arc formed on her face.
Her appearance was completely different to the one from earlier that day despite being the same person.
「Nice to meet you, Sorachi Souji-kun」
As if he was a friend met by chance on the road, Otome greeted him in a very intimate way.
「State your business」
「It’s nothing, I only said hello since you were doing something interesting」
「That’s the truth, I really didn’t mean to harm you」
Since Otome insisted that she was harmless while raising both of her hands, Souji could only trust her while wiping the cold sweat on his forehead.
If she really was trying to harm him – If she could kill her own presence like that, then he would already be dead. In the end, he was lucky to have even recognized her presence behind him.
However, he had to remain vigilant.
During the daytime, she was a woman who would show blatant hostility to anyone who sullied her beloved. That she would greet him with such a smile was far too abnormal.
「Are you really Chikagesawa Otome？」
She might be a different person masquerading as her. A situation where she was actually a twin sister would have been more believable.
To these words , Otome’s eyes opened wide and she burst into a laugh directed to the heavens.
「Aha-AHAHAHAHA-！ That’s right, I’m Chikagesawa Otome, Tendouji Ayato’s childhood friend, and the one who loves him the most」
「My father job as bank employee means we had to move many times. I was separated from Ayato in my 3rd grade of elementary school, fate let us meet again in the Special Forces. I feel really jealous when Ayato talks with other girls and I even get mad violent with him, but I behave like spoiled girl when it’s just the two of us」
「What are… 」
「My favourite food is strawberry, I hate asparagus, my favourite artist is Lunatic Blue*, I’m not really into games and anime, but I have a『Legend of Heroes』collection that I really loved during my time with Ayato」
「What are you talking about！」
Souji unintentionally interrupted her speech to stop her raving.
It wasn’t painful to listen to a girl giving her profile.
Although she had an ear to ear smile, her lips moved as if they were reading from a script. And her eyes appeared devoid of emotion, as if looking at an insect,
Building inside of Souji was an unfamiliar kind of fear, different from what he sensed from Tendouji Ayato.
「Sorry, because you were so nice I was a little happy 」
「Since I’m in a good mood, I’ll give you a little warning」
Her voice showed no signs of hostility, but held the warmth of falling snow.
「You cannot win against Tendouji Ayato」
It wasn’t a prediction or a wish. It was as if she was talking about a predetermined conclusion.
「You’re powerful, there’s probably not a sing ACE troop who can win against you from the front」
「Though I believe that before me is someone who can win without attacking from behind, 」
Hearing his honest thoughts without any sarcasm, Otome’s smile grew even wider than before.
「You’re stronger than Tendouji Ayato but, it’s a fact that you can’t win against him. It’s because you don’t desire for victory」
「There can only be one winner, only one absolute invincible hero」
Otome turned her back and walked away after saying that.
Even after her shadow vanished from his sight, Souji stood there, spear in hand.