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Day 358


Day 358


Today's morning, early enough that the sun has not risen yet.

Minokichi-kun safely encounters the new 【Beast King】 Arthie, and their meeting developed into a battle, that he perfectly won, so having done that he began the return to base.


I received this report almost at the same time as waking up in the morning, thus I was a little surprised, but also convinced it was true.

When I was told the full story, it seems like Minokichi-kun heard from the former 【Beast King】 Lionel at that time. 『Could you accept meeting my daughter, and show her what's like to be "on top"? Without killing, if possible, for now please overlook her existence』 Apparently, he spoke of such things at the end of their battle.


Apparently Lionel wished that his beloved daughter Arthie would grow accustomed to a stronger one, also so as to not be self-conceited, and so inducing that she ran into an enemy as formidable as Minokichi-kun.

I also think as to always direct myself towards breaking my limits, but Lionel held that belief more like a faith, in which strength is righteousness, and perhaps had wanted to know a strong enough presence that was strong enough to defeat him.


Death meant you could only reach up to that point. The experience of survival becomes the driving force for the future.

And so I thought, I wonder if such a thought of Arthie went through Lionel's mind in his last moments.


I don't know if he was acquainted with such feelings, but that aside, Minokichi-kun battled and won.


Confirmed through a small cloned body, every one of Arthie's bones ended up fractured or cracked, the internal organs were twisted or ruptured, muscle and skin is torn or split apart, with massive bleeding both internally and externally of her body. She seems to have reached a critical condition of being half-alive.

Although her life had been sustained by a tremendous life force, but left in her current condition, even that force was certainly not enough to keep her alive.


But after Minokichi-kun was done with her, she was allowed to recover with a secret elixir of labyrinth production, and if left to rest for a while, a complete recovery with no after-effects is possible, so it should be rather fine in the end.


However, with that level of injury, movement shouldn't be possible any time soon, even if she is healed.

Her whole body wasn't able to move properly for a while, just her consciousness was directed towards Minokichi-kun.


Lying on the ground, Arthie is looking up at Minokichi-kun with respect. Minokichi-kun, the one that killed Lionel, even while carrying Lionel's former 【Sacred Treasure】 - 【Strong Beast Spirit God・Birusuforuga】, she has a look that seems to say "If you want, come and challenge me again", or at least that's the how it looks to me. [editor's note1]


Minokichi-kun's intentions can only be roughly inferred, but he did not dare to listen to her.

Whether or not Minokichi-kun does have an idea, I just decided to believe in his judgment for the matter.


Although there was a shocking report to start off the morning, there has been nothing else that is particularly unusual.


Because the day was to be spent on training, I let members form groups to rise up to challenge me.


Training that began in such a way was carried out at the «External Training Field».

This time I am armed with my halberd on the right hand and my cursed spear on the left. Basically I'm just using these two, because I do not have anything on the left and right sub-arms

For everyone else, they have their serious battle equipment on.

This time things will be quite serious, so Sei-kun has been asked to be on stand-by so that people can be treated at any time.

Once the preparations were ready, it was to be quickly started.



 〓 〒 〓


A harsh feeling is spreading throughout the whole body, while the natural shallow breathing becomes a rapidly one.

Even a word is not spoken as the body and the palms don't speak for themselves, as cold sweat spouting from the whole body run down with a *tsu tsu*. [editor's note2]


Countless veterans gathered in the «External Training Field», while thickly surrounding the one Oni, already envisioning the end of their own fights.

You're pierced if you stay put, you get crushed if you jump forward, and crushed if trying to rush forward.

There's a difference in the intrinsic feeling of training that can only be brought on when fighting for your life, so I change the level for each person, raising it to the limit for each person until they are left throwing up blood.


But, still, the veterans are using their new weapons.

He stifled his fear and charged his chief, even after he accumulated countless defeats.


「Sheaaaaa!」


A shout rise from what appears to be a beast, as the Redhead equipped with her shining armor 【Platinum General】 precedes alone.

The distance between Redhead and Ovarou is shortened in the blink of an eye, as she, while clad in a red phosphorescence, fiercely swung down【General's Large Cleaver】 on her right hand, with the momentum of her sprint.


- Battle Art:【Sacred Beast Bloody Judgement】


Only one who possess 【Job・Sacred Beast Eater】 can release such kind of Battle Arts, its destructive power is tremendous from their nature itself, that full power can be achieved in just a single blow. If it hits directly, even for example a dragon species or the such would be instantly slaughtered.

Because of being fully concentrated in that attack, it could be said there is a drawback that the defense becomes neglected.

Although Redhead is reducing the gap while holding the 【General's Kite Shield】 in front of her with her left hand, it is still possible to say that this choice of action is almost a desperate suicide attack.

Understanding the presented situation, Ovarou smiled slightly. When looking at it, the slash was aimed at his neck, a slash faster than the speed of sound. In addition, Redhead also appears to be smiling.


Ovarou swung the cursed spear in his left hand against that beheading attack.

The spearhead collided with 【General's Large Cleaver】, and on a second moment the colliding forces deflected slightly in a different direction. The shock produced from the collision was almost nonexistent, so Redhead's body was only slightly pushed away.

That merely produced a small gap, but Ovarou didn't miss it, using the halberd in his right hand to 【Foot Sweep】, hooking Redhead's right foot.

Not being entirely aware of what happened, Redhead's response to the attack was barely delayed, which indeed led to her fall, but before being able to take a passive atitude, Ovarou cheerfully approaches in pursuit, while trampling down.


「*---gasp* *ka-thump!* *ka-thump!* *ka-thump!*」[Ed note: tried my best to TL big clumsy footsteps+scared girl here xD]


Although barely avoiding it by rolling in succession, it continued like a giant hammer with such destruction from overlapping 【Hammer of the Earthquake】, which generated a small earthquake, with 【Earth-Crushing Cane】, that triggered as he continued trampling down relentlessly.

Knowing that just being trampled down was simply inexcusable, Redhead becomes desperate while getting covered in mud.

However, because the ground is shaking so much it becomes hardly able to move, and it would seem she is going to get herself captured in just a short while.


「 My lord, prepare yourself -tsu 」


This time, Akitainu comes assaulting from the right side of Ovarou, who is aiming for Redhead.

Seeing that gap Redhead retreats, as the sword blade 【Heavenly Moon Wolf-Warrior】 wielded by Akitainu draws an arc aiming for his torso.

Being slightly faster than Redhead's previous blow, it was an exceptionally sharp blow, however Ovarou killed the blade's momentum by clashing with his halberd, directly repelling the blade even as it was.

And without missing that slight delay, Ovarou threw out a kick forward at his opponent.

Akitainu twisted himself in an attempt to avoid it, but it was impossible to do so, because of the golden thread that was ejected from the toe of the attacking foot, successfully restraining his whole body.


「 Remove! This.. Now *grunt* *ptooey*!!! 」[Ed note: *ptooey* = clearly the sound of someone spitting something out]


Recognizing the golden thread entangling his body, he decided to prepare for the inevitable, first Akitainu used one of the abilities of the【Mask of the Sealed Soul Perudiosu・Maskarade】, which had been equipped as a helmet - 【Ballroom Mask Massive Kaleidoscope】. It softened his own body.


Originally, a mask is a tool to become something else.


If you can master the 【Sacred Treasure】【Mask of the Sealed Soul】 of 【God of Masks】 it is possible to not only become another creature, but also turn into sand or liquid. It was easy enough to escape from the golden thread restraints.

It can not be said that Akitainu is very good yet at commanding the mask, but he managed to make his flesh flexible enough, as much as a slime's, that he was able to get out somehow.


And like that, the softened Akitainu moved his abdomen on the trajectory of the incoming kick.

Not only it softened his flesh, but also his living-armor which covered his body, so he judged the receiving damage to be lesser.


Receiving a powerful unmatched kick on the hard living-armor, he managed to dissipate the shock using his entire softened body.


And then, if there's blow, he shall put up with it, and Akitainu accepted the attack while in weakened state, fully prepared to even die if necessary.

However, as Akitainu was not allowed to be blown away due to the entangling golden thread, the power of Ovarou's kicks dug deep into him so that the impact smashed into his internal organs, penetrating beyond imagination.


The living body armor becomes greatly deformed, with the softened Akitainu's body being bent into the shape of "Ku", extending even more the possibility of being cut a thousand times.

Broken bones throughout the body, the skin throughout the body is dropping away, if he is really wracked by severe pain and shock, like having his internal organs put in a blender, death would normally come after this, and even if one survives they will be crippled and near death.

In fact, Akitainu has almost completely collapsed and been crumbling before the eyes.


「 *Gufuggeboo*! ---*falls over* Not.. Yet! 」


In spite of that, Akitainu pulled himself back to consciousness through his fighting spirit and started vomiting violently from the mouth, but that didn't stop him from moving, and still trying to shake the 【Heavenly Moon Wolf-Warrior】 again.

The remains of his arms are softened and bending like a whip, managing to move the tip close to the speed of sound.

Ovarou grabbed that whip vice arm of Akitainu with his remaining right hand, and in the next moment the figure of Akitainu disappeared.

He was 【Thrown】 without even giving Akitainu a chance to react.


As Akitainu goes flying over the stone gravel ground, Ramura-san passes by there, rushing past with a living body spear shaped like a Naginata. [Ed note5]


「*Shwip*, *tsu tsu*」[Ed note: sound of wind when something passes by in great speed]


The total weight of Akitainu with such a heavy set of biological armor sums up to his speed that more than lightly exceeds a hundred kilometers per hour, as it is coming horizontally towards the ground with plenty of momentum.

If directly hit, even if it was the hefty Thunder Dragonewt Ramura-san, there wouldn’t even be one scrap of that person remaining.

Therefore, from the beginning, Ramura-san did not even try catching Akitainu.


To avoid that, she threw herself down to crawl on the ground.


The wind of the Akitainu passing overhead lightly ruffled Ramura-san's hair, and far behind there was the sound strangely resembling a slime slammed to the ground.


「Whew ...... Haaah - *Gulp*!」


Ramura-san's avoidance of the 【Thrown】 Akitainu was superb, but she was also blocked by the stature of the Akitainu passing overhead, leading to her losing sight of Ovarou after looking away.

After the figure is gone, there is no sign of her target when her visibility is clear again. Still, Ramura-san's kept to her instinct, and threw herself forward in a moment.

While moving slightly slower, as if thinking an attack was going to come over her back, Ramura-san's body suddenly got blown away as if it had received a direct hit from an explosive shell, making the delicate figure of Ramura-san to go crumbling and rolling over the ground.

Without missing a moment after her loss of sight, Ovarou moved behind Ramura-san and attacked with the back fist of his left sub-arm.

「What? This is, Oh, I see. Did she use an electrical discharge to weaken its momentum?」

Ovarou's back fist was strong enough to kill, or at least break the spine and ribs if hit directly, but the power of the hit had only been able to crack some bones.

Ramura-san, who was supposed to have been rolling around violently, immediately rises up using the momentum of the blow, only taking a moment to frown with a pained expression.

Although it was Ovarou who wondered for a moment, as soon as he had delivered the back fist, Ramura-san had coated her back in purple lightning to shave off some of the power from the hit. 『 You did well. It was a good judgement. 』 His face broke into a smile as he was impressed with her move.


「Ha aaaaa Ha aaaaa!」*gasping for air*


「Waaaaaaaahhh!!!」


Female Knight and Rusty Iron Knight approaching from Ovarou's left and right flanks, both lauching an attack using Battle Arts.


- Battle Art: 【Merciful Radiant Samurai's Cherry Blossoms Storm】

- Battle Art: 【Battle Beast's Iron Fangs and Claws Attack】


Taking away the will power of those who were touched by her light, it was a continuous piercing attack harming the 【Spirit】.

Continuous slashes like fangs or claws from a four-legged beast come without interruption from him.


Both are powerful Battle Arts that repeatedly attack in succession with high power, but the charge is entirely blocked by the halberd and cursed spear that move at high speed, preventing them from reaching Ovarou.

Female Knight and Rusty Iron Knight keep their hands moving and do not let up in their attacks.

The aim of the two is to train their sword skills and see if they have improved when compared with their past lives, so they throw themselves at the weapons of Ovarou.

If Ovarou has any weapons equipped, when even unarmed he is lethal, his entire body becomes a lethal weapon. Whether it is possible to seal his movements, it becomes a priority if you want to pin down Ovarou.


Because the focus of the training was on weapons, Female Knight and Rusty Iron Knight attack in angry waves. But the tide is noticeably being overturned, gradually increasing the scars on their arms and legs.


「Tsu Tsu! Kuwuuuu!!」


「Groowwl Ooo Waaaaahhh!!!」


Female Knight and Rusty Iron Knight let out groans of pain.

They desperately endure the attack, but Ovarou increases the speed of his attacks, with his continuous attacks appearing like a muddy stream, thus passing through their slight defenses. At that moment, they each received a 【Rounded Up Uppercut】 from below, launching them into the sky.

Even though managing to prevent a direct hit using with each of their shields and equipment, they still found themselves helpless in the air and are blown far away.


「Ukyee Ooooooo Oh!」*monkey screaming*


At that moment, the Boss Monkey leap from behind Ovarou.

The aim of the Boss Monkey approaching unarmed was simple. It was the only way he could see that slightly gave him a chance to bind Ovarou from behind.

Just like Redhead's, this was a second "suicide attack".


「Hummmm.. *sigh*!」


「Sister Auro, keep on shooting! ~Tsu」


That said, typically the Boss Monkey's desperate move would have been ended in a vain death.

The left and right sub-arms are still vacant, and nothing else was visible to Ovarou from behind. There was no way to catch Boss Monkey who came grasping from behind.

However, in order to disturb him even further, explosions by Auro's magic gun and Argento's silvery white and gold partisans were aimed at the sub-arms, much like a burst-fire.


「Oh, I cannot raise my arms because of their shooting. However, there's still a long way to go for them. Yet, this is very sweet.」


It is Ovarou who rejoices in the growth of his children, but he is not so enamored as to standby by and let himself be attacked without fighting back.

From his vice arm he can usually shoot from the fingertip a rarely used black cursed bullet - 【Curse Spell Shoot】, to intercept the approaching magic bullets and partisans.

【Curse Spell Shots】- which were like black shots, as well as magic bullets exploded in the sky as astonishing fireworks, sprinkling out in a colorful flash of light.

The partisans bounced away from the impact, being sent flying like meteors.


「Kikiki!」


The Boss Monkey screamed, while receiving the shockwave of the blast.

The defeat of fellow who risked his own life for the benefit of his companions, because the covering attack was not enough. That left them feeling powerless, done once and for all.

In other words, Ovarou was ready for the Boss Monkey by the time he recovered, in a prepared posture.


That was the same as a kind of suicide.


「~Hmph」


Ovarou changed one of his sub-arms into the shape of a shield, increasing its strength with【Shield Wall】, while also overlapping invocations of 【Shield Bash】 and 【Back Attack】 "Leaning Mine Afterglow" -unleashing this alias "Leaning Iron Mine · Tetsuzankou" attack at the Boss Monkey.

Boss Monkey attempts to defend with its thick arms, but it’s meaningless.

Both arms are bent with the pressure, blown apart while the whole body flew away. Its momentum is stronger than any other, and the spray of blood turns into a blood cloud as he is leaving orbit.


With the death of the Boss Monkey - obviously not dead - something of a waste, those who remain also attack with the remains of their vigor, but in a certain sense the dominance of Ovarou obviously did not collapse.


Next, both Netsuki-kun equipped with 【Wolf Fang Spirit Sword】 and Iss Haa thrusting with both of her sickle arms, but they found themselves repelled by the halberd and a spell just like a replay of the past fight. [edit note4]

Female Knight, along with the 'resurrected' Akitainu, let out a beheading slash from a blind spot, but, being aware of everything, Ovarou wasn't hit by it.

Ovarou stopped short Oniwaka's fighting spirit fueled attack with just the tip of his finger, and the two jewel animals that Opushii had released were left trampled into the ground.

As the【Spirit Axe of the Sand Ox(Nusutufu.Rabyusu)】 swang down on him, he decides to target Toro's heavy jaw floating atop its big frame, applying terrible strength to it. Then, he sent Scarface's bone body flying, which should have been greatly strengthened from intense training.

As he gets playful, the Kumajirou that usually fatally rushed at enemies was thrown away aside, while also stroking the three of heads of Kurosaburou which were coming to attack from all directions, rocking their brains.


For the sake of defeating Ovarou each member puts all their efforts into the challenge, but they were left with the feeling that the wall they had to break through was endlessly thick.



Φ Δ Φ


We ended up repeating that training over and over again, gradually getting the training grounds heated up.

The first participants had an easier time, but for the second half, Kanami-chan, with Burasato-san and Supesei entered the battle. The border between life and death became quite delicate up to the last minute.

Those three Oni were for sure willing to kill me. If it wasn't for me being myself, I would have died without a doubt back then.


Anyway, training with a feeling of being too overwhelmed was initially intended only for some of the top teams.

Still, there was a repeated need for me to hold back because of the gap in strength, so I eventually decided to try to go back to fighting with my bare hands for the lower members of the group, such as with five member groups and ten man leaders.

Well, rather than fight, it would be more accurate that I was actually lightly playing. It couldn't be called anything else, since a gale would occur with one swing of my hand.

However, I was still able to gauge the power of the leaders which was long-awaited, while trying to fight with the leaders of five-men teams and the leaders of ten-men teams.

Since it would take a party of 100 members to almost be a suitable training partner, I prefer to focus on my Birthday Festival - because the long-awaited birthday is approaching, there are plans for a festival - I wonder if it will be just as good as the previous entertainment?


Today's synthesis results:

【Black Octopus Ink that Should be Avoided】 + 【Acid Bubble Breath】 = 【Black Octopus Bubble Acid that Should be Avoided】

【Fireproof Mucus Secretion】 + 【Violet-Blue Fluid Iolite Liquid】 = 【Fireproof Viscous Blue Fluid】

【Black Immortal Knight Garment・Black Knight Cross of Immortality Group】 + 【Blue Shrimp's Steel Shell】 + 【Indestructible Armored Castle Shell】+ 【Multiple Shells】 = 【Unbreakable Armor of the Demon God】


Translation/Editor's Notes

Writer Note
BluBear Note1: Lmfao, so.. one kanji can be TL as either "again" or "crotch/groins/genitals", while a next one can be TL as either "challenge someone" or "to pressure someone for sex".. I would be lying to say I wasn't tempted to do a more .."fun".. TL xD
BluBear Note2: ツツ = "tsu tsu" = sound made when *slinding*.
BluBear The 3 dots indicate when it starts a third person perspective and when it finishes, going back to Rou's perspective (althought there's one mention of Rou's perspective right in the beginning but that can't be helped, really)
BluBear Note4: First, we had a note3 but I erased it, as I found that out after a while. Now, for note4. Don't confuse it with Akitainu's weapon. Netsuki's weapon has Wolf in it because it belonged to Wolf Hero beforehand.
BluBear Note5: Naginata is one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese weapons. Click on the link for a better description.
BluBear Note6: Iolite = a transparent gem which presents a violet blue colour when looked at in a certain  direction. It's a hydrous aluminium + magnesium silicate.
BluBear Last note: the "black knight black..." refers to Rou's previous godly armor.

PLACE TRANSLATIONS ABOVE THE BAR. THESE ARE THE RAWS, LEAVE THEM HERE UNTIL SOMEONE DOES A REAL TRANSLATION (NOT JUST A GT OR RUSSIAN TRANS). CLICK EXPAND TO VIEW THEM.

 

 “三百五十八日目”

 今日の朝、まだ太陽も昇らない時間帯。

 ミノ吉くんは無事に新【獣王】アースティと出会い、そして戦闘に発展して完膚なきまでに打ちのめし、やる事をやったので帰路についたそうだ。


 朝起きてほぼ同時に聞いた報告に、俺は少し驚き、また納得してしまった。

 詳しい話を聞いてみた所、どうやらミノ吉くんは前【獣王】ライオネルから『娘に一度会ってくれねぇか。んでよぉ、ちょいと上を見せてやってくれ。できれば殺さず、見逃してくれるとありがてぇがな』的な事を言われたらしい。


 どうやらライオネルは愛娘アースティがより強くなれるように願い、また慢心しないように、ミノ吉くんという強敵をぶつけるように仕向けたようだ。

 普通自分を殺す程の存在を差し向けるかとも思うのだが、力こそ正義、という信念がありそうなライオネルはただ純粋に自分よりも強い存在を知ってもらいたかったのかもしれない。


 死んでしまうのならそれまでの事。生き残ればその経験は今後の力となってくれる。

 そう思い、ライオネルなりに最後までアースティの事を思って考えた事なのだろうか。


 そんな気持ちを知ってか知らずか、ともかくミノ吉くんは戦い、勝利した。


 分体で確認したところ、アースティの全身の骨は砕けるかヒビが入り、内臓は破裂したり捻じれたりと酷い有様で、筋肉や皮膚は断裂したり裂けたりして、内外問わず大量出血した半死半生の重体となったようだ。

 凄まじい生命力によって命は繋ぎ止めていたが、そのまま放置すれば命は確実に無かった程の怪我。


 だがミノ吉くんが終わった後に迷宮産の秘薬で回復させたので、しばらく安静にしておけば後遺症もなく完治し、むしろ元気になる筈だ。


 もっとも、治ったと言ってもすぐに動けるようなレベルの怪我ではない。

 全身はしばらくまともに動かせず、ただ意識だけはミノ吉くんに向けられたらしい。


 地面に転がり、ミノ吉くんを見上げるアースティに対し、ミノ吉くんはライオネルを自身が殺し、またライオネルの【神器】――【獣神之魂剛躯(ビルスフォルガ)】は自分が持っているので、欲しければまた挑んでこい、といった事を言ったそうだ。


 ミノ吉くんの意図は大凡推察できるが、あえて聞く事はしなかった。

 ミノ吉くんなりの考えがあるのだろうから、その判断を信じる事にしただけだ。


 朝からショッキングな報告があったものの、他は特に変わった事は無い。


 一日は訓練に費やす事にしたので、団員達に本気で挑んで来させる事にしよう。


 そういう事で始まった訓練は、≪外部訓練場≫にて執り行われた。

 今回の俺の武装は右手にハルバード、左手に呪槍。左右の副腕には何も持っていないので、基本的にはこの二本だけである。

 他の皆は、それぞれ本気装備だ。

 今回はかなり本格的なモノになるので、セイ冶くんには何時でも治療できるようにスタンバイしてもらっている。

 準備が整えば、さっさと開始する事にした。




 〓 〒 〓




 全身にのし掛かる重圧感によって、自然と呼吸が浅く、早くなる。

 背中と言わず掌と言わず、全身から噴出する冷や汗はツツと流れ落ちていく。


 ≪外部訓練場≫に集いし無数の猛者達は、オバ朗ただ一鬼を厚く包囲しながらも、自身の終わりを幻視していた。

 突けば貫かれ、薙げば薙ぎ払われ、突進すれば叩き潰される。

 経験値を積んでレベルを上げ、血反吐を吐き出しながら訓練し、命を賭して戦ってきたが故に対峙しただけで感じてしまう彼我の差は、鍛えれば鍛えるほど明確に分かってしまう。


 しかし、それでも、だからこそ猛者達は得物を握る。

 恐怖をねじ伏せ、幾度となく敗北を積み重ねてきた彼等の長へと駆けだした。


「シィアアアアア!」


 何処か獣染みた咆吼を上げ、白金に輝く【将軍(ジェネラル)】シリーズを装備した赤髪ショートは単独で先行する。

 赤髪ショートとオバ朗の距離は瞬く間に詰められ、疾走の勢いを乗せて振り下ろされる右手の【将軍大包丁(ジェネラルチョッパー)】には赤い燐光が宿る。


 ――戦技(アーツ)聖獣血断(スティルマ・ブライネス)


 【職業・聖獣喰い】を持つ者だけが放つ事が出来る戦技の一つであり、全力を一撃に込めるという性質からその破壊力は絶大で、直撃すれば例え竜種などでも一撃で屠る事が可能だ。

 ただ攻撃に意識が集中してしまう分、どうしても防御が疎かになってしまうという欠点があった。

 赤髪ショートは左手で【将軍凧盾(ジェネラルシールド)】を構える事で隙を少なくしているものの、それでも今回の選択はほぼ捨て身の特攻と言えるだろう。

 それを分かりつつも、オバ朗は僅かに微笑む。それを見て、赤髪ショートも微笑みながら音を置き去りにする程の斬撃で首を狙った。


 斬首を狙う斬撃に対し、オバ朗は左手の呪槍を振った。

 その穂先は【将軍大包丁】と衝突、するかと思われた瞬間力を僅かに別方向に逸らすように動き、衝突した際にあると思っていた衝撃が無かった分、赤髪ショートの身体が僅かに流れる。

 ほんの僅かな隙がそこに生じ、オバ朗はそれを逃さず右手のハルバードで【足払い】を繰り出し、赤髪ショートの足を引っ掛けた。

 全く意識していなかった攻撃に対応が遅れて赤髪ショートは転倒し、前回り受け身を即座にとるが、追撃であるオバ朗の踏みつけが迫る。


「――クヌッ。ノッ。ウノッ。ちょまッ!」


 連続して転がる事でギリギリ回避するが、巨人の鉄槌のような破壊と小さな地震を発生させる【地揺れの鉄槌】や【棍砕震地】を重複発動させた状態の踏みつけが執拗に繰り返された。

 踏みつけられればただではすまないと分かっているだけに、赤髪ショートは泥まみれになりながらも必死だ。

 しかし地面が揺れているため動き難く、あと少しで捉えられてしまいそうになる。


「殿、御覚悟ッ」


 赤髪ショートを狙うオバ朗の右側面から、今度は秋田犬が突撃してくる。

 その隙に赤髪ショートは退避して、秋田犬が振るう【月天闘狼】の刀身が胴を狙って弧を描く。

 先程の赤髪ショートの一撃よりも僅かに速く、鋭い一撃だったが、オバ朗はハルバードを振って生じさせた巨水刃でその勢いを殺し、そのまま刀身を弾いた。

 そして生じた僅かな遅延を逃さず繰り出されたオバ朗の前蹴り。

 秋田犬は咄嗟に回避しようと身を捩ったが、オバ朗の足の爪先から噴出した黄金糸が全身を拘束した事で回避できない。


「ぬぐおッ! これはまさッフンッ!」


 全身に絡まる黄金糸を認識し、避けられないと覚悟を決め、まず秋田犬は兜のようにして装備していた【仮面之魂封面(ペルディオス・マスクレイド)】の能力の一つ――【仮面舞踏会(マスカレイド)】を使い、自身の身体を軟化させた。


 そもそも仮面とは、別の何かに成るための道具である。


 【仮面の神】の【神器】である【仮面之魂封面】を使いこなす事が出来れば別の生物に成るだけでなく、砂化や液化する事も可能であり、そうすれば糸の拘束から抜け出す事も容易だっただろう。

 秋田犬はまだ使いこなせていないのでそこまでは出来ないが、スライムのような柔軟性のある肉体になるくらいは何とか出来た。


 そうして軟化した秋田犬は、前蹴りの軌道上に腹部を移動させた。

 軟化した肉体だけでなく、甲冑のような生体防具で覆われている胴体なら他の部位で受けるよりもダメージは少ないと判断したようだ。


 強力無比な前蹴りを硬い生体防具で受け止め、衝撃は軟化した肉体全部を使って受け流す。


 そして一撃ならば耐えてみせる、と秋田犬は決死の覚悟で脱力しながら攻撃を受け入れた。

 しかし黄金糸によって吹き飛ばされる事も許されず、また内部に衝撃が浸透するように繰り出されたオバ朗の前蹴りの威力は想像を超えていた。


 生体防具は大きく変形し、軟化していた秋田犬の身体は“く”の字に折れ曲がり、今にも千切れそうになるほど伸びる。

 全身の骨が砕け、全身の皮膚が手切れ、五臓六腑をミキサーでかき混ぜられるような激痛と衝撃に襲われれば、普通なら死に、生きていても悶絶し蹲ってしまうだろ。


 現に秋田犬も、白眼を剥いて崩れ落ちそうになった。


「グフッゲボォ! ――だ、だが、まだまガヒュッ!」


 だが気合で意識を引き戻した秋田犬は口から激しく嘔吐しつつも動きを止めず、再び【月天闘狼】を振ろうとした。

 軟化さたままの腕は鞭のようにしなり、その先端は音速を軽く超えていた。

 だがその手をオバ朗の右副腕によって掴まれ、次の瞬間には秋田犬の姿がブレた。

 オバ朗によって反応する間も無く【投擲】されたのだ。


 石礫めいて地面と平行に飛んでいく秋田犬の先には、薙刀のような生体槍を持って駆け寄ってきていたラムラさんがいる。


「ちょ、ッツ」


 生体防具なども含めた秋田犬の総重量は百キロを軽く超え、それが地面と水平に飛んでいく程の勢いで向かってくる。

 直撃すれば流石に屈強な雷竜人だとしても、女性であるラムラさんでは一溜まりも無いだろう。

 その為、ラムラさんは最初から秋田犬を受け止める、という事はしなかった。


 まるで地に這うように伏せる事で回避する。


 秋田犬が頭上を通り過ぎる際に巻き起こる風でラムラさんの髪が揺らめき、遥か後方でスライムが地面に叩きつけられたような奇妙な音が響いた。


「ふぅ……しま――グツッ!」


 【投擲】された秋田犬を見事回避して見せたラムラさんだったが、頭上を通り過ぎた秋田犬の体躯に遮られ、目を離すまいとしていたオバ朗を見失っていた。

 再び視界が開けた時には既に姿は無く、気配もない。しかしラムラさんは本能のままに、前方へ咄嗟に身を投げ出した。

 だが僅かに遅く、ラムラさんの背中で紫電が激しく撒き散らされたかと思えば、砲弾の直撃を受けたかのようにラムラさんの身体は前方へと吹き飛ばされ、ラムラさんの華奢な体躯はゴロゴロと地面を転がって行く。

 姿を見失った一瞬を逃さず、ラムラさんの背後に移動したオバ朗が左副腕の裏拳を叩きこんだのだ。

「うん? これは、ああ、なるほど。放電で勢いを削いだのか」

 オバ朗の裏拳は、直撃すれば脊椎と肋骨を砕くか、最低でも罅が入るだけの威力はあっただろう。

 だが激しく転がっていた筈のラムラさんは勢いを利用して即座に立ち上がり、かなり痛そうに顔をしかめつつも動きを止めていない。

 それに一瞬だけ疑問を浮かべたオバ朗だったが、裏拳が入った瞬間、ラムラさんの背面で発生した紫電が勢いを削ったのだと理解し、『よくやった。良い判断だ』と感心した様な笑みを浮かべた。


「ハアアアアアアアアアアアッ!」


「ウオオオオオオオオオオオッ!」


 そんなオバ朗の左右から迫る女騎士と鈍鉄騎士は、どちらも戦技(アーツ)を使用した攻撃を繰り出した。


 ――戦技【憐輝士の桜嵐(ハイマスト・レーゲフ)

 ――戦技【戦鉄獣の牙爪撃(マーブレイズ・ファロ)


 触れた者の力を奪う、【憐気】を宿した連続刺突。

 四足獣の牙爪が間断なく襲いかかってくるような連続斬撃。


 どちらも高威力の攻撃を連続で繰り返す強力な戦技だが、その悉くが高速で動き続けるハルバードと呪槍によって防がれ、オバ朗の身にまで届かない。

 だが女騎士と鈍鉄騎士の攻撃の手は止まらなかった。

 以前と比べモノにならないほど剣技自体上達している両名の狙いは、オバ朗の武器を封じ込める事にある。

 肉体そのものが既に凶器であるオバ朗に武器まで加わると手がつけられない。それを封じる事ができるかどうかが、オバ朗攻略にはまず大事になってくるからだ。


 狙いを武器に絞っていたからか、最初は怒涛の攻めで女騎士と鈍鉄騎士が押していた。だが気がつけば形勢は覆され、四肢には徐々に傷が増えていく。


「ッツ! クウゥウウウ!」


「グウヌウオオオオオオッ」


 女騎士と鈍鉄騎士の呻き声。

 必死に耐えていたが、オバ朗が攻撃の速度を上げ、まるで濁流のような連撃が繰り出されると僅かに防御が綻んでしまい、その瞬間、それぞれ下から跳ね上がった【切り上げ(アッパーカット)】を受けて空に打ち上げられた。

 それぞれ得物と盾で直撃こそ防いだものの、空中ではどうする事も出来ずに遠くへ飛ばされる。


「ウキィオオオオオオッ」


 その瞬間、オバ朗の背後からボス猿が躍りかかった。

 無手で迫るボス猿の狙いはただ一つ。背後からオバ朗にしがみ付いて、僅かにでも拘束する事だけだった。

 赤髪ショートに続く、捨て身第二弾である。


「いっけえええええ!」


「オーロ姉、撃ち続けてッ」


 とはいえ、普通ならボス猿の捨て身は無駄死に終わっていただろう。

 まだ空いている左右の副腕があったし、何より背後でもオバ朗には見えている。掴みかかって来るボス猿を捕らえる事など造作もなかったのだ。

 しかしそれを邪魔する為に、副腕だけを狙って放たれたオーロの魔砲とアルジェントの白銀のパルチザンが炸裂する。


「おお、射撃の腕も上げているな。しかしまだまだ、甘い甘い」


 子供の成長を素直に喜ぶオバ朗であるが、何もせず攻撃を受ける程甘くはない。

 副腕の指先から普段は滅多に使う事の無い黒い呪弾――【呪詛射ち(カーズ・シュート)】を撃ち出し、迫る魔砲弾とパルチザンを迎撃する。

 黒い弾丸のような【呪詛射ち】と魔砲弾は空中で花火めいて炸裂し、色鮮やかな閃光を撒き散らした。

 弾き飛ばされたパルチザンが、流星めいて飛んでいく。


「キキキ!」


 爆風の煽りを受けながら、ボス猿は悲鳴を上げた。

 仲間の為に捨て身で突撃し、それを援護する仲間の攻撃は呆気なく無力化されてしまった。

 つまりボス猿を待ち構えるのは、体勢を整えたオバ朗という事になる。


 それはある種の自殺と同じである。


「ふんッ」


 オバ朗は副腕の形状を盾に変化させ、【盾壁(シールド・ウォール)】で強度を増し、【背撃(バックアタック)】と【盾打(シールドバッシュ)】を重複発動させてボス猿に“貼山靠(てんざんこう)”――別名“鉄山靠(テツザンコウ)”を繰り出した。

 ボス猿はその太い両腕で防御を試みるが、意味は無い。

 両腕は圧し折られ、全身を拉げながら吹き飛んだ。その勢いは誰よりも強く、飛び散る鮮血が血煙のようになって軌道を残す。


 ボス猿の死――当然死んではいない――を無駄にするものか、という様に残る猛者達も攻撃を仕掛けるが、ある意味当然のようにオバ朗の優勢は崩れなかった。


 両腕を鎌にしたイス・ハーさんと【狼之魂牙剣(ウルファロス)】を装備した熱鬼くんが突っ込むが、何かの繰り返しのようにハルバードと呪槍で薙ぎ払われた。

 復活した秋田犬と共に女武者が仲間の陰から鋭い斬撃を繰り出すも、オバ朗に見切られて当たらない。

 気合と共に繰り出された鬼若の一撃をオバ朗は指一本で押さえこみ、オプシーが放った二頭の宝石冥獣は踏みつけられて地面にめり込んだ。

 【砂牛之魂角斧(ヌストゥフ・ラビュス)】を振り下ろすトロ重の顎にアッパーを決めてその巨躯を浮かべ、恐るべき強化・改良が施されたはずのスカーフェイスの骨体を殴り飛ばす。

 じゃれつく様に、しかし普通なら致命的な突進を繰り出したクマ次郎を巴投げし、四方八方から配下と共に襲いかかって来るクロ三郎の三つの頭を撫でながら脳を揺らした。


 オバ朗を倒す為に各員総力を挙げて挑んで行くが、壁は果てしなく高く分厚い事を実感するのだった。




 Φ Δ Φ





 延々と繰り返される訓練は、次第に熱を帯びていく。

 最初の方はまだ余裕があったのだが、後半のカナ美ちゃんとブラ里さんとスペ星さんが参戦した辺りからは、生死的な意味で結構ギリギリだった。

 あの三鬼は俺を殺す気だったに違いない。俺じゃなかったら間違いなく死んでいただろう。


 ともあれ、かなりやり過ぎた感のある訓練は、最初は一部の上位陣だけのつもりだった。

 だがせっかくなので手加減に手加減を重ね、五人長やら十人長といった下の方の団員とも実際に戦ってみる事にした。

 まあ、戦うというよりは、軽く遊んでやったという方が正確だろう。手の一薙ぎで生じる烈風で転び、まともに近づく事もできないのだから。

 それでも上の実力を肌で実感できたからか、評判は上々だ。

 百単位で相手にできるので手間も少なく、誕生祭――せっかくなので、迫る誕生日は祭りにする予定だ――前の余興としてはいいのではないだろうか。


 本日の合成結果。

 【忌避すべき黒の蛸墨】+【アシッド・バブルブレス】=【忌避すべき黒酸の蛸泡】

 【耐火粘液分泌】+【菫青流体(アイオライト・リキッド)】=【耐火粘青流体】

 【黒き不死族の騎士衣(ブラックアンデッド・ナイトクロス)】+【青海老鋼殻】+【多重甲羅】+【不破の鎧城殻】=【不壊なる鬼神の鎧纏城殻】



Day 357 == Day 358 == Day 359