Chapter 0158 Kalinikos Part 1
The front line.
Hero Roman and Hugh were facing off against Vampire Kalinikos and two Strigoi, who could be said to be his entourage.
Up to that point, eight Strigoi had been killed in the blink of an eye.
However, these two were completely different from their previous opponents.
To begin with, what they were wearing was different …
“Former adventurers huh …”
Hugh muttered quietly.
But he must have heard his muttering as Kalinikos grinned and answered.
If he had been an adventurer before his death, he would not be able to hold his own in a fight against a Hero and the hero of war at the same time.
But now that he was a Strigoi, his physical abilities had been pushed beyond their limits, and what he lacked in skill, he made up for in speed and power.
“I too shall kill some time.”
Kalinikos said and produced a crimson sword from his palm.
Roman looked at the red sword and muttered.
“That’s correct too. You lot know a lot about vampires, don’t you? That’s unusual for adventurers from the Central Nations.”
Kalinikos was not yet aware of the identity of Hero Roman and the group.
However, he understood that Roman and Hugh, who had come to the front, were stronger than the adventurers he had made into Strigoi, so he quickly joined the battle.
It was never just to ‘kill some time’.
Kalinikos was one-on-one with Roman, with Hugh taking on the two former adventurers.
Kalinikos’ swordsmanship was of a very high level.
At the very least, there was no clear difference between the two such that Roman could easily defeat him.
If that was the case, then as a vampire, he could be said to have much greater stamina than humans.
It seemed that the more time passes, the more advantage Kalinikos would have.
Up until this point, Kalinikos was full of confidence.
But his composure was shattered when he saw the Strigoi attacking the rear guard had their movements slowed and they were decapitated one by one.
“What is happening …?”
It was completely unexpected that fifty Strigoi would be annihilated without killing a single adventurer.
Neither Hugh nor Roman, who glanced at the scene, knew exactly what had happened, but they understood that the vampire in front of them was shaken.
If this was the case, it was a common practice in battle to take advantage of that.
The unrest in Kalinikos, the leader of the group, would extend to his kin as well, the former adventurers.
Hugh slashed the sword arms of the two former adventurers, whose movements had grown just slightly duller, and then, without a moment’s pause, decapitated them both.
It was truly a divine feat.
Even Roman, who was watching from the corner of his eye, was amazed by his swordsmanship.
(As one would expect from a Hero of the great war and renowned former A-rank adventurer…)
“Damn you … I didn’t expect this.”
Vampire Kalinikos wrung out those words.
As he said that, Kalinikos, perhaps instantly boosting his physical capabilities, stepped back so fast that even Roman had difficulty following him, and moved a short distance away from Roman and Hugh.
Then he chanted softly.
At that moment, a kind of haze appeared in Roman’s and Hugh’s heads, cutting off their consciousness.
Roman gritted his teeth and held on, while Hugh involuntarily fell to one knee.
That scene was visible to the ten people in the rear guard.
Niels uttered reflexively, but no one could give a clear answer.
If he had heard the word <Slave> chanted by Kalinikos, Ryo might have understood.
But even if he had not heard the chant, something flashed through the mind of the Priest Graham.
“No way, Dark Magic …”
He muttered to himself, then readied his staff and chanted.
The air distorted slightly, creating a hemisphere with a radius of about five meters around Graham.
“Hurry up and get inside!”
He called out to Niels and Amon, who were a short distance away, and the two of them tumbled into the hemisphere.
Then they looked at the front line.
“What the hell is going on?”
“It is likely the Dark-Attribute Magic <Slave>. It’s a troublesome spell that allows the caster to control the target at will.
Niels asked to no one in particular and Graham answered.
“Then, those two are …”
“Roman will probably resist. The magic resistance of the Hero is the strongest of mankind. But … nobody apart from Roman is capable of resisting the Dark-Attribute Magic of a Count-class Vampire. Even Saints and Saintess can’t. I fear Master McGrath …”
Graham answered Etho’s question with a frown.
“In other words, Roman and Hugh will face each other.”
It was Ryo who said that.
Ryo recalled that on the way back to Rune from the Royal Capital, the same Slave spell was cast on him and was almost manipulated in the same way by a priest who believed in a dark god.
At that time, Abel was wearing an item that resisted mental interference-type magic and the Slave spell was ineffective.
“Does Hugh have any items that resist mental interference-type magic …?”
He asked Graham, thinking that perhaps Hugh might have … an item of that sort.
“I fear we can’t hope for that. Items of that sort are national treasures, both in the Western Countries and in the Central Nations. Not even Master McGrath, a former A-rank adventurer and renowned hero, would wear one …”
Graham replied, shaking his head.
(Why the heck is Abel wearing such an item? …)
Ryo’s mind was filled with questions, but now was not the time.
“How do we dispel the Slave spell?”
“There is no other way than to defeat the sorcerer who cast it.”
Alicia, the Wind-Attribute Magician, asked and Graham answered. With the bitterest face they had seen on him until now.
Hugh, who had been kneeling on one knee, was seen standing up by the rear guard as they were talking about this.
Hero Roman noticed that Hugh’s air as he stood up was different from before.
He had been easygoing with an air of strength around him but now as he stood up, he was what could only be described as a mass of aggression.
When his eyes met Roman’s, he slashed at him with his sword without a moment’s pause.
Roman, who had sensed the change in the atmosphere, was not caught off guard.
That sword strike was so swift that if he had been careless, the fight would have ended with just that one strike.
(As expected from the Swordsman called the hero of war, 『Master of the Sword』 McGrath.)
Perhaps Roman was superior in terms of speed and power.
But just a couple of clashes showed … the overwhelming difference in skill.
Even in the clash in the Royal Capital with Abel, Abel had the advantage in skill but the advantage would have shifted to Roman as time went by.
But the man in front of him was different.
He parried Roman’s high-speed strikes perfectly.
The timing of his sword strikes, the angle, and the counterattack after parrying, everything was overwhelming.
(I would be ruined with just the slightest misstep.)
Roman was under a pressure he had never experienced before.
The 『Hero』 Roman and the 『Hero of war』 McGrath.
The sword fight between these two men would have been awe-inspiring entertainment for those who had nothing to do with it.
Both were Swordsmen representing the western and central countries.
In fact, even those involved were transfixed.
Even the Fire-Attribute Magician Gordon, who was a wizard and had no interest in sword fighting, was transfixed by the sword fight.
The Swordsman Niels was crying for some reason.
Even if it was an exchange of lives, people unconditionally felt emotional in the face of something wonderful.
It was a battle between two of the greatest Swordsmen that might never see again.
Just by being able to see it, Niels’ sword technique would probably increase by a notch.
The 『real deal』 had that much influence.
But in contrast, there was another Swordsman watching the swordfight between the two.
It was Amon.
He was staring transfixed at them, not missing a single movement.
His arms and legs moved just slightly, and in his mind he was simulating what would happen if he moved with his own body… although only Ryo noticed that.
Ryo, too, was at first fascinated by their swordfight.
However, after ten rounds of clashes, it became clear that Roman was losing.
In that situation, he could not just stand there and watch.
If the 『Hero』 died there…
Yes, the same reason why he had stopped Roman and Abel when they had fought previously.
『The Hero is needed to defeat the Demon Lord』
Of course, he didn’t want Roman to die and he didn’t want him to become a Strigoi.
However, Hugh’s skill exceeded Roman’s speed and power.
Perhaps in the eyes of all but Ryo, they were evenly matched.
That’s how tiny the difference was.
But there was certainly a difference.
A difference that Roman could not overturn.
If that was the case, then someone in the rear guard had to do something.
(The <Slave> that we faced in the hidden temple … Abel overcame it with items, but I resisted all by myself. It was probably the effect of the 『malice purification』 that Sera talked about. And it should work on those near me too … That’s why Sera hangs around near me … not because of my charm)
Ryo got depressed for some reason.
But he quickly got back on his feet.
(No, that is my constitution, so instead it’s my power! The guardian beast of Niels’ village also said that just by staying close to me, her lifespan was extended … Okay, let’s do it.)
Ryo held the Murasame that was at his waist in his hand with the blade formed.
Then he shouted.
“Roman! Switch with me.”
Roman could not understand what Ryo suddenly shouted from the rear guard.
“You switch with me. On my signal, move to the rear. Three, two, one, switch.”
At that moment, Roman jumped far backward.
Naturally, Hugh chased after him, but Ryo suddenly appeared and thrust at him with Murasame, with the blade of ice formed.
Thrust. Thrust. Thrust.
With a barrage of thrusts, Roman outstripped Hugh’s charge and retreated safely to the rear.
The swordfight then switched to Ryo vs. Hugh.
Surprised at the sight, but seeing the switch, Vampire Kalinikos grinned and said.
“I’m still in the middle of activating <Slave>. Somehow it didn’t work on the young Swordsman, but you can be my slave.”
Without a moment’s delay, Ryo continued his swordfight with Hugh.
At that time at the hidden temple, he fell to his knees the moment Slave as applied on him, partly because it was his first experience, but this time he continued to fight without a pause in his movement at all, even when he came out into the space of the Slave spell.
After he clashed with Hugh five, ten times, Kalinikos eventually noticed something was wrong.
“You … why are you unaffected?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps it’s my constitution?”
Ryo replied to Kalinikos’ question as if he was making fun of him.
“Don’t be ridiculous! I am a Count. There are not many people who can withstand a Count’s <Slave>!”
“It didn’t work on the young swordsman just now, did it?”
While having such a conversation with Kalinikos, Ryo was still handling Hugh’s sword deftly.
In the first place, he did not plan to defeat Hugh with a sword.
In that case, he just had to protect himself.
He was good at defending himself.
Even against Sera clad in her <Wind Equip> who boasted overwhelming speed, power, and superb technique, he had recently been able to maintain the balance for nearly two hours.
Even Hugh would not be able to easily overcome Ryo’s ironclad defense.
The total number of the clashes must have exceeded 200.
At last, the timing that Ryo had hoped for had arrived.
Hugh took a big swing and miss, and dropped to one knee with his head down.
“Wh-what’s going on?”
Kalinikos could not grasp what was happening.
All he saw was Ryo dodging Hugh’s lateral cleave.
What actually happened was that … Ryo merely dodged Hugh’s lateral cleave.
Hugh went down on one knee for another reason that.
The other reason was …
“Damn you …”
A small murmur escaped from the man on one knee in front of Ryo.
As soon as he looked up, something flew out of his left hand.
The flying object was a dagger.
The destination was between Kalinikos’ eyebrows.
Kalinikos deflected the dagger away with his Bloody sword.
But that was, of course, Hugh’s trap.
As soon as the dagger was thrown, he closed the distance between himself and Kalinikos at once.
By the time Kalinikos had deflected the dagger, Hugh had already moved into his space.
Four streaks of light that could only be described as sword flashes. These were drawn by Hugh’s sword.
He cut off both of Kalinikos’ arms and legs.
Even vampires, as expected, felt pain when they were cut.
‘You son of a bitch … But it’s no use. I will recover soon … Huh? Why aren’t they moving?”
Kalinikos looked at his arms and legs that have been cut off.
Normally they might have returned to his body immediately but this time there was no sign of that happening.
‘It’s no use, Vampire. I hold the Holy Sword Galahad. It’s a sword that seals the regenerative abilities of things like you.”
Hugh looked down at Kalinikos, who had lost his legs and was now shorter.
“The Holy Sword? There should only be three adventurers in the Central Nations who have holy swords…”
“You’re well informed. I am one of them. My introduction is late. My name is Hugh McGrath. A former A-rank adventurer.”
Hugh bowed politely and introduced himself.
“Hero of the Great War … I never expected such a big name to come at the very beginning … I was too naïve to recognize that.”
Kalinikos was visibly disappointed.
Ryo had not yet let down his guard against Kalinikos, who was displaying such an appearance.
Based on his knowledge of light novels, the vampire might turn into countless bats and flee, or curse them before his death, or even more directly self-destruct to bring them down with him.
『Assume the worst and hope for the best.』
A maxim that applied to any situation.
It was a quote from the British politician Disraeli. Originally, politicians were inherently good.
Yes, originally …
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