“Cats and dogs squabbling over a dragon’s horn.”
—A metaphor for needless squabbling passed down through the Scarlet Clan
“Over and over and over, why do you keep doing that!?”
“No, that really wasn’t on purpose. I won’t ask for forgiveness, though. That was my fault.”
Hearing Aqua speak out of her usual nonchalance, Yutaka answered as honestly as ever.
“Do you think I’m an idiot!?”
Still though, that just seemed to have added fuel to Aqua’s fire.
“You know, Aqua, wasn’t it your fault for not avoiding it?”
Nina’s offhanded grumble sounded awfully loud despite how low her voice was.
“I mean, didn’t Yutaka react to your surprise attack?”
“… Are you trying to say that this monkey’s better than me?”
Changing drastically from her nigh-hysteric voice from a moment before, she spoke unhurriedly.
However, it was clearly due to her being even more angry than before.
“I wonder? Everyone has something they’re good at, I’m not anyone to say who’s better at what. Whether you excel or don’t excel at something isn’t something so simple as to be decided on like that.”
Although Aqua had rounded on her directly, Nina took it with a straight face.
“But, well, if it’s about fighting… I’d say Yutaka is stronger.”
She added yet more fuel to the fire, for some reason.
“… Alright. I’ll prove that I won’t lose to a monkey like him… Come outside. I’m going to beat you.”
“Eh, I don’t want to though…?”
Yutaka responded in confusion from Aqua pointing at him sharply.
“Don’t worry, I won’t take your life. We’re school friends, right?”
Probably seeing his response as cowardly, Aqua provoked him in derision.
“That’s not what I mean, Aqua. You’re a girl. You’re not an enemy and there’s no way I would wield my sword against a girl that isn’t.”
Not angry at her in the least, Yutaka just spoke his feelings.
I unintentionally let out a chuckle.
Aqua gave him the greatest glare of all time—her image as a beauty was entirely dashed through.
“Don’t mess with me! If you’re a warrior, fight me! Or perhaps… are you saying the Swordsaints are just a group of cowards?”
“… I see.”
Now that she’d said that, not even Yutaka could back down. He and Aqua followed each other out of the building.
“M-Mentor! Are they going to be alright!?”
“I wonder… I don’t know how strong Aqua is…”
We all headed outside as I answered Lufelle’s anxiety-driven question.
I didn’t know how far Yutaka’s strength went, either, so I couldn’t tell how their duel would go.
“You’re not going to stop them, right?”
The ringleader responsible to fanning the flames, Nina, spoke as if she were having fun.
“No, I mean, now that it’s come to this, it’d probably be a bad idea to stop them.”
I figured that Aqua exploding was probably due to other events and not just from today.
Maybe that’s what Nina meant by what she said earlier?
“You laughed too, so I figured.”
“No, that’s not why…”
It was just that Yutaka was speaking as if girls were to be cherished caused me to accidentally let a laugh slip out.
“Well, I’ll be relying on you if it turns dangerous, Rin.”
“Yep. I think it’ll be okay though.”
I asked Rin to step in just in case.
Her water manipulation magic was incredibly convenient for disempowering individuals. My magic wasn’t suited for that in the least, and although Nina’s worked well enough, it was a bit messy.
By the time we made it outside, Aqua and Yutaka were standing ten meters opposite each other.
A pole that looked like a straight branch extended from Aqua’s hand and she plucked a petal from the flower adorning her hair, attaching it to the pole’s tip. The thin petal stretched out and she pointed it in Yutaka’s direction like a sword.
That’s her magic as an elf? It probably cuts things like a blade.
Aqua held the two meter long pole in both hands like a spear.
“Unsheathe your sword.”
“I told you. I won’t wield my sword against women.”
Saying that, Yutaka threw his sword to the ground, scabbard and all.
“How dare you look down at me…!”
Shouting out, Aqua threw her spear. Given its length, maybe it was a javelin?
Yutaka easily dodged the spear, but Aqua already had two more in her hands being thrown. Catching the first with his hand, he kicked the second upward into the air and sending it flying as he threw the first away.
Gradually closing the gap between him and Aqua, Yutaka continued eluding the spears flying at him.
Together with a shout, the spear Aqua thrust forward this time didn’t part from her hands. Instead, it grew forward like a plant and bent this way and that making numerous joints as it closed in on Yutaka impossibly fast.
Although Yutaka, having grown accustomed to her attacking him in straight lines, managed to just barely avoid it, it caused his stance to fall apart somewhat.
Seeing her chance, Aqua spat out an incantation. All of the spears she’d thrown up until then flew back toward Yutaka from all directions.
Yutaka was weak. Although he did still have some room to grow since he was still young, unless some massive growth spurt happened, he would still be shorter than even Aqua.
At the very least, as things were, he couldn’t be called strong.
—That was, however, only talking about those among the Swordsaints.
“Oh, you surprised me there.”
Catching each of the spears between his fingers, Yutaka let out a breath and spoke.
What he just pulled off was easy enough for him.
“I am fast. I am fast. I am fast. I am fast.”
Throwing away the spears he’d caught, Yutaka recited the same incantation over and over.
Normally, it would be meaningless to repeat the same words over and over. However, they were different for Yutaka.
Fast—to dodge. Fast—to move his limbs. Fast—to kick against the ground. Fast—to move his body by kicking his feet against the ground.
Each reinforcing his body in a different way, he stacked multiple reinforcements on top of each other.
Aqua’s hair bristled as it stood up and tapered into many bestial fangs.
From amid those fangs, numerous spears burst from her hair and pierced Yutaka.
—At least, that’s what my eyes saw.
“I am weak.”
By the time I realized what had happened, I heard Yutaka’s voice reach my ears.
Faster than I could perceive was happened, even faster than the sound itself, he’d already managed to strike Aqua near the heart.
Using weakening magic just before impact, he’d made sure to kill the force behind his strike. His fist had struck Aqua on her soft chest without wounding her at all.
“With that, I guess it’s my win?”
Still holding out his fist in vigilance, Yutaka spoke. If Aqua didn’t acknowledge her defeat, he would be in position to follow up. Aqua looked down at her chest as if seeing something unbelievable, then slowly looked up to Yutaka in blank surprise…
Then, as if suddenly realizing something, she looked back to her chest.
“Wha…. what’re you touching my boobs for!? You pervert!”
The open-fisted slap coming at Yutaka was many times slower than her spears… however, he still took it right to the cheek.
＊ ＊ ＊
“I can’t believe him. Not wanting to raise his sword against a woman? I doubt that, he just wanted to… what a pervert.”
“No, wait, please, that really wasn’t it. It wasn’t!”
Yutaka kept on trying to explain to Aqua, who continued prattling on.
“R-Really, I, just, umm, I really didn’t mean—”
Nina looked to Yutaka—who looked like he was about to cry—with a serious expression.
“Were they soft?”
“What’re you saying with such a serious face?”
Yutaka answered even that in all honesty.
“I guess he’s just a huge pervert after all!”
“No, that was… I didn’t…! Big sister…!”
Nina just treated Aqua and Yutaka’s antics as someone else’s problem.
… Oh well. I’ll step in and throw him a rope.
“The one responsible for teaching Yutaka that is me.”
Aqua protected her chest with both arms and backed away from me.
“No, not that… I taught him to be kind to girls, that’s all.”
That reaction hurt. I started to sympathize a bit with how Yutaka felt and decided to back up him a bit more.
“Eh, but my dad taught me that…?”
“Yes, but you see? I’ve been teaching that for more than six hundred years. Long before you were born, Yutaka, even before your grandfather.”
Six hundred years before, this world’s women weren’t treated decently.
However, it was entirely different nowadays. To be honest, Yutaka’s way of thinking was actually closer to being old-fashioned at this point.
In the present era, the popular opinion was that there were no differences in ability between men and women.
After all, there was almost no difference in strength between men and women in this world.
Although women tended to be smaller and physically weaker overall, that was just when talking about their bodies.
As could be observed by how women often served as the leader of the Swordsaints, magic held the power to easily overcome all physical discrepancies.
… Still though, I never thought that my preaching to Darg about being protecting women would reach through the centuries…
The sudden wave of nostalgia was what caused me to laugh out earlier.