Chapter 0332 Death Trap
“Ryo… what did you just say…?”
Niels asked, fearfully.
And not just Niels.
Everyone’s face was tense.
Although they couldn’t tear their eyes away from the Skeleton King, it’s obvious that Ryo’s words had gotten them all anxious.
“It’s possible that this place has turned into a magic nullification field…”
When Ryo said that, Etho and Zeke tried something.
“I… can’t use magic…”
Both Etho and Zeke’s faces were tinged with despair.
“If we can’t use magic, then the same applies to our opponents.”
“No… that may not necessarily be the case.”
Ryo claimed, but Niels didn’t sound convinced.
Little Behee, the Behemoth, sealed the magic of the wyverns using magic nullification, but it was able to use magic just fine…
He was not exactly sure how it works, but… it was very likely that the Skeleton King could use magic too.
“In the first place, we don’t even know what kind of monster that lump of bones is…”
“If only we can use Turn Undead…”
Niels blurted out, and Zeke muttered in frustration.
“Oh, now I understand. The magic nullification is to seal Turn Undead…”
At that moment, something welled up from the ground.
“More Skeleton? Knights?”
“Whoa, so it’s not alone?”
Amon pointed out, and Niels blurted out more.
There’s only one boss monster on the 50th floor.
“So it’s saying even though there’s only one boss monster, sometimes the boss summons others?”
Etho said, and Harold and Gowan nodded.
There were eight Skeleton Knights summoned.
“Amon, you face the boss, be careful. Harold, Gowan, Zeke, and I will carry out guerrilla attacks on the rest and take them down. Ryo, I leave Etho to you.”
Niels gave out orders, and everyone got moving.
Amon, who had begun to outperform Niels in terms of his prowess as a swordsman, was paired with the boss.
The remaining three vanguard members and Zeke, who can also wield his staff to fight in melee, went around defeating the Skeleton Knights that sprung up.
And Ryo was tasked with protecting Etho, who has almost no offensive or defensive capabilities but must not be allowed to perish.
Niels, in a sense, entrusted Etho’s safety to the man he trusted the most.
And Ryo, of course, understood this.
Protecting Etho from multiple enemies in this situation where magic is sealed… was a surprisingly difficult task.
But he could not betray his trust.
Ryo pulled out Murasame and generated an ice blade.
After all, Murasame could be used even in a magic nullification field.
“Etho, back up to the entrance door. We’ll defend there.”
If they were to be ambushed from all directions, it would be impossible to defend.
At the very least, Ryo had to secure the rear and protect it by placing Etho between a safe area and himself.
In that situation, the safest place to be would be the door they came through.
As for the other walls… there’s no guarantee that new Skeleton Knights won’t emerge from them…
Ryo placed Etho behind him, searched for signs in all directions, and dispatched the Skeleton Knights attacking from the front.
He backed away little by little while tearing them apart.
Always keeping his body between the Skeleton Knights and Etho.
Occasionally, he would make a large side cleave, sending the Skeleton Knights flying, and at that moment, back up sharply and create distance.
Be it solo or in a party, retreating is the most difficult.
Thus the nerve-wracking retreat battle continued… a few minutes later.
“Ryo, I’ve reached the door.”
Etho, who was behind him, reported that he had arrived at the door.
At last, he had succeeded in securing a safe area behind him.
“Now, it’s time to counterattack.”
The moment Ryo said that…
“More Skeleton Knights…”
Eight new Skeleton knights Appeared before Ryo and the others, that was, between Ryo and Niels and the other three.
Ryo jumped right in.
He took a large step with his right foot while parrying the sword of the Skeleton Knight which swung down at him.
While shifting his center of gravity to his right foot, Ryo pulled the sword lagging behind him and linked it to his movement, and with that momentum decapitated the Skeleton Knight.
From the previous retreat battle, he already figured that he could defeat them by beheading or breaking the mana stone in their chest.
Retreating can also be an act of gathering intelligence for a counterattack.
At the moment of decapitation, he shifted his center of gravity once to his left foot, which he had put forward with the force generated from the decapitation, and then took another large step forward with his right foot.
At the same time, he released his right hand grip from Murasame and thrusts his left hand out at once.
A single left-hand thrust.
The tip shattered the mana stone in the chest of the Skeleton Knight in front of him.
Etho muttered to Ryo’s two consecutive kills.
Etho is a complete amateur in close-quarters combat.
To help the party, he equipped himself with a small rapid-fire crossbow that allowed him to attack at medium range.
Of course, arrows are useless against skeletons, so he had no means of attacking this time…
And even an amateur like Etho could tell that Ryo’s sword art was out of the ordinary.
Though a layman, he had seen Niels and Amon train over the past few years and had fought shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
Subjugating monsters and bandits more times than he could count together.
So he was quite in touch with the capabilities of a B-rank swordsman.
Compared to them, Ryo was… simply extraordinary.
His way of the sword felt totally different.
That’s right, that’s probably it.
Amon seemed to have learned the basics of Hume-style sword arts.
Niels was mostly self-taught.
Ryo’s swordsmanship… was significantly different from either of them.
He had the chance to watch the mock battle between Amon and Ryo on their way to the Western Countries.
But it ended in a single bout…
Thinking back, it was probably his first time seeing Ryo’s sword art in action.
In the first place, back when Ryo was with ‘Room 10’, he was always wielding magic…
If it weren’t for the situation in this magic nullification field, there would scarcely be an opportunity to see him wield his sword…?
Even so, it was such an elegant sword art…
Even while such things were going through Etho’s mind, Ryo dispatched the Skeleton Knights that charged at him.
But his top priority remained Etho’s safety.
Not straying too far out.
Always inserting himself between the Skeleton Knights and Etho.
And at times, returning right in front of Etho.
That was essentially the battle of Ryo and Etho by the entrance door.
Between Ryo, Etho, Amon and the boss, Niels, Harold, Gowan, and Zeke were fighting against the Skeleton Knights.
Already, eight Skeleton Knights had appeared, twice, anew.
“Dammit! It seems it’s the kind where they’ll keep springing up unless the boss is defeated.”
Harold agreed to Niels’ quip.
Of course, their swords didn’t stop moving in the meantime.
They kept moving, and swinging their swords.
Ordinarily, swords are a bad match for skeletons.
A bludgeoning weapon such as a club or a hammer is better.
However, as one would expect from a B or C-rank adventurer, they are capable of defeating skeletons with a sword.
They can even crush bones with a thrust.
C-rank adventurers and above are indeed first-rate.
Compared to Niels, Harold, and Gowan, who used swords, Zeke’s staff could attack a wider area.
His wielding was especially effective.
Like a spear or a Naginata, it can be swung over the head with one hand or held with both hands and swung sideways as if swinging a baseball bat…
‘Cuts like a sword, thrusts like a spear, sweeps like a naginata.’
An old Japanese saying that describes the characteristics of the staff.
Of course, Zeke was unaware of such a saying, but he was fighting a battle that made full use of the characteristics of his staff.
Occasionally, Zeke’s staff would annihilate a Skeleton Knight with a single blow.
That was because the staff was a holy blessed weapon.
It had proven to be the strongest weapon against skeletons and other undead.
So what about the sword-wielding trio?
The swords of the Skeleton Knights were, quite frankly, of a very high caliber.
If they were ranked according to adventurer ranking, they would be of C-rank… or perhaps, even B-rank.
That’s how formidable they were.
Even Niels couldn’t easily overcome them.
However, although not easy, it was possible with enough patience.
And a situation had been arranged in which there was no need to rush.
Etho’s safety, which was the biggest concern, was entrusted to Ryo.
Even though they’re in a magic nullification field and Ryo is after all a magician… even so, Ryo will surely get it done.
He would protect Etho ‘at all costs’.
An absolute trust.
Perhaps, Niels trusts Ryo more than he trusts himself… when it comes to protecting his comrades.
As for dealing with the boss, he assigned Amon.
He had already surpassed Niels in swordsmanship… Niels himself was aware of that.
Moreover, Amon still had a lot of room to grow.
He is undoubtedly a sword genius.
And Niels didn’t feel frustrated about it at all.
On the contrary, he wanted to see how far he could go… and that desire was strong.
He is talented and hardworking.
And also possess an honest personality.
There aren’t many who possess all of those factors for growth.
Niels saw the image of King Abel, whom he respects, in Amon.
That was why he left the boss to Amon to handle.
Abel would surely produce results in a situation like that.
And Amon too would surely…
The Skeleton King was an amazingly skilled swordsman.
Without a shield, he wielded his sword with both hands or even one hand, wielding it with dazzling skill.
In his lifetime, he must have been a swordsman heralded as the greatest in his country.
His sword art was that great.
Amon, however, was smiling as he parried the sword.
No, one might even say he looked happy.
The sword fight, in a nutshell, had Amon on the defensive.
The Skeleton King was attacking, while Amon was on the receiving end.
That had been the arrangement the whole time.
However, Amon’s expression didn’t look displeased at all.
With not even a tinge of despair.
Receiving the Skeleton King’s attacks one by one carefully.
Muttering things like, “I see”, or “So, the Skeleton King prefers thrusting” and so on…
What was perhaps surprising in their fight was the number of moves the Skeleton King made.
While unleashing his sword, he also shot out stone pebbles.
At a close range enough to cross swords, he would unleash magic…
It was simply abnormal.
Amon recalled the battle he had once seen between King Abel and Princess Fiona.
Fiona also mixed magic attacks during sword fights.
Perhaps it was because he had seen it before.
Amon responded perfectly.
Now, would he have been able to respond the way he did if he was seeing it for the first time…?
Moreover, it was also thanks in part to the statement Ryo made earlier which stuck to his mind that “the opponent might be able to wield magic” even in this magic nullification field.
And the boss actually ended up using magic.
Although he didn’t know the exact logic, Amon felt as if the magic nullification field was distorted just at the moment when the Skeleton King released his magic.
It was as if the magic nullification was removed only between the Skeleton King and himself.
If so, then it would make sense why only the Skeleton King could use magic.
“That’s some impressive magic control. Ryo said something similar once before.”
Amon said with a smile.
The Skeleton King, of course, said nothing.
Since he was a skeleton, his expression didn’t change.
He just… felt that he was smiling a little.
Of course, it was probably Amon’s imagination.
Even so… Amon felt that he smiled and said, cool right?
The sword fight between Amon and the Skeleton King raged on.
Since the Skeleton King is an undead, he did not tire at all.
Therefore, the longer the fierce sword fight went on, the more disadvantageous it became to the human side.
Since humans get tired.
Naturally, Amon was at a disadvantage since he’s human….
But he didn’t show any fatigue at all.
On the contrary, he had even begun to fight back.
The arrangement of the Skeleton King on the offensive and Amon on the defensive remained the same, but Amon was beginning to attack a little.
Imitating the attacks that the Skeleton King had shown…
Muttering stuff like, “Hmmm, maybe I should try pulling back a little faster”.
Or, “Perhaps I should shift my center of gravity a little to the back”.
“I see, the reason you switched to one hand here is to return the sword”, and so on.
If the Skeleton King had feelings, he would have felt shivers.
He has been fighting so intensely, yet he did not show any signs of fatigue.
What’s more, he was copying his techniques.
And yet, he had no gaps in his defense…
Threatened, he may have begun to feel impatient.
The more time passed, the more the swordsman in front of him absorbed his techniques and became stronger.
In fact, Amon was having fun.
The more they crossed swords, the more he felt his skills increasing, and he could even sense that he was getting stronger.
That is what sometimes happens in serious competition.
It is something that people can experience, not only in swordsmanship but in many other fields.
But some people die without ever experiencing it… that is also true.
Or some people experience it, but spend their lives without realizing it… that is also true.
Amon, though, was different.
He experienced, realized, and grew.
He was growing at this very moment.
For the tens or hundreds of times, he copied the Skeleton King’s technique and performed it.
He cracked one of the Skeleton King’s ribs.
He unleashed more techniques than the Skeleton King had ever unleashed and surpassed the Skeleton King’s expectations.
This was the moment when the copy surpassed the original.
The Skeleton King was especially good at thrusting.
Amon, too, could understand this because he liked thrusting.
The Skeleton King had delivered thousands of thrusts thus far.
Three series of thrusts, four series of thrusts, five series of thrusts… an unstoppable series of thrusts.
A series of lightning-fast thrusts.
“Do you know? The moment the arm and sword are fully extended in a thrust, it is at maximum power, but at other times…”
Amon muttered and took one of the Skeleton King’s thrusts with the ‘flat’ side of his sword, his arm outstretched.
The Skeleton King totally did not expect that, at a timing he had yet to achieve maximum power.
The Skeleton King’s sword was deflected backward greatly.
At the same time Amon parried with the flat of his sword, he took a large step forward with his right foot, while taking his left hand off the hilt altogether, and with his right hand alone, he swung his sword widely sideways.
Just as Ryo had performed previously… the stance at the moment of releasing the quick draw technique, as it is called in Japanese swordsmanship.
The sword reached the Skeleton King’s neck… and in a single breath, he cut it off.
He thought he saw the tumbled skull… smile a little.
Then… he thought he heard him say the words.