Chapter 37 – Chance meeting – Part one

I take out a mana potion and a stamina potion from my item box and drink both.

They still taste like bitter tea.
It’s not like their taste is really bad, but I wouldn’t drink them just because I want to either.

But they do work.
The languid feeling in my body is going away.

Can I rework them so they taste like juice? I use Purification to get rid of the lingering bitter taste in my mouth, although I kind of feel like it’s a waste of magic.

As I think about this, I turn around, and see a person standing there.

That person seems to be standing normally, but there are no gaps in his posture.

Is he on guard? We’re a bit far from each other.

“Who are you?”

If this person isn’t attacking me, I can only assume he’s here to talk.

But what is that outfit? It’s completely black, with a mask covering his eyes.
What is it, a ninja? This person is also about two heads shorter than me.

“…Number Thirteen.
Otherworlder Sora.
Your strength has been confirmed.
Have orders to take you.”

“…Have you been watching me? Why?”

“Don’t know.
I was only told to take you if you acquired power.”

“I only hunted monsters.
Any adventurer can do that.”

“…You hunted five orcs alone.
Not everyone can do that.”

This voice sounds so plain and unemotional.
Almost like a machine.

“…Confirmed use of unreported magic.”

“What if I refuse?”

“…You will come.
Refusal is not an option.”

I see his body tremble, and suddenly approaching me with an incredible speed.

This person has a knife in hand, and when I jump back, the distance is instantly closed again.

When I take my gun and point it, my target jumps back diagonally as if running away from the muzzle.

Does that mean my opponent knows what this does?

We are about thirty meters apart, and he is now observing me while keeping that distance.

It’s a happy misunderstanding that he is being cautious, but this gun doesn’t have any bullets left.
I get the feeling that it’s all over if he notices this, but that’s not my main concern.

I put the gun in the Item Box, and pick up the sword an orc was using.

I try swinging it lightly, and it doesn’t feel heavy, so I hold it as I face my opponent.

“Sorry, but I don’t want to go back there.
You people abandoned me in the first place, and now you’re telling me to go back because I’ve gotten stronger? What kind of joke is this?”

This provocation leads me to close the distance between us myself.

What I really want to avoid here is letting them get away.
He’s alone right now, but it would be a big problem if word got out and more came.
I need to make sure to finish this here.

I swing my sword down, and it’s easily avoided.
I don’t even have time to breathe before a counterattack comes.

There isn’t a single wasted movement in his step.

He uses his flexibility to its full advantage to slowly pile on the damage.

None of the attacks are fatal, but my skin is cut and blood starts dripping.

Did I pick the wrong weapon? Then again, the sword is what I’m most familiar with.
Even if I used a knife, the difference in skill and experience would be clear.

I thought I couldn’t let them get away, but at this rate, I can’t get away.

I slash and use Fire Arrow multiple times, but it’s all evaded, so I fall back to try to put distance between us again.

I try going for a feint, but it doesn’t work, and just as I’m getting ready to go at it again, the sword slips out of my hand.

What? I try to pick it up, but it’s then that I notice my body isn’t moving too well.

My senses… No, my hand is getting numb.

I feel eyes are locked on me, so I raise my head.
He shouldn’t be able to see me through that mask, but I feel like I’m being watched.

I use Appraisal and look at the knife… I see…

I take out a potion from the Item Box, but a knife is immediately thrown at it and breaks it.

I tried to dodge, but my body isn’t moving how I want it to.

The numbness is getting worse, but strangely enough, my opponent isn’t coming near me.

Is it because he knows he just has to wait until I can’t move at all?

No no no.

This is really bad.

I chant status open in my head, and see the status ailment ‘Paralysis’.

Drinking that mana potion restored some of my MP, but not enough for me to be able to deploy a magic barrier.
It looks like it will take a while for Natural Recovery to do something about this too.

What do I do?

I’m looking at my opponent while checking the status panel.

Are there any skills that might help… I search as I try not to panic.

No, nope, not this one, no…

But wait, I found something.

Status Ailment Resistance.
Grants resistance towards status ailments, and its effect improves as it levels up.

Is this the one? I don’t see anything else that might work.
But I don’t know for sure if it will help resist this paralysis.

I hesitate for a second, before deciding to learn it.

I have five skill points left.

Skill, ‘Status Ailment Resistance Lv1’.
Effect, ‘resistance against poison’.

This is no good.

I use more points, leaving me with three.

Skill, ‘Status Ailment Resistance Lv2’.
Effect, ‘poison nullification’.

Still no good.

That’s not what I want right now.

I use more points, leaving me with zero.

Skill, ‘Status Ailment Resistance Lv3’.
Effect, ‘poison nullification and resistance to paralysis’.

I feel the numbness in my body getting better, and see the proficiency increasing.

I test my grip, and pick up the sword.

Then I get up again, looking like even this is difficult for me.

I ready my sword while breathing rapidly and staggering as I slowly walk.

This is acting.
Not bad if I may say so myself, but will it work?

I get closer, one step at a time, and Number Thirteen hasn’t dropped his guard, and is still holding that knife.

When I get close enough, I lift the sword with all my strength, and activate ‘Sword Rush’.

As I slash down, the sword goes flying half-way through.

My eyes follow the sword in disbelief, and my opponent takes the opportunity to slash at me.

But I move my hand towards the knife and grab that wrist, before putting all my strength into my hand like I’m going to crush that wrist.

We’re evenly matched when it comes to speed, but I have the upper hand when it comes to strength.

This is the decisive moment, as Number Thirteen looks shaken.
I put all my weight into pushing him down.

His mouth twists with pain, and he struggles to try to escape, but I won’t let that happen, and keep pushing.
But then, the still active Appraisal skill picks something up.

‘Slave Mask’.
Wearer is robbed of free will, creating a doll that follows orders.
Physical abilities are dramatically increased.

It takes my attention for a bit, before I turn to my opponent again.

This person is small and slender.
I can’t tell his expression because of the mask, but his nose, mouth, and skin all look pretty young now that I look at them closely.
Is this actually a kid?

People appraisal won’t show me ages.

I struggle to decide what to do now.
We were fighting as enemies, but I don’t think I can kill.

This didn’t happen when I was fighting monsters.
I guess it’s because now I’m fighting another person.

Do I take off that mask? Destroy it?

“The noise brought me here, but this is quite a scene.”

A voice coming from behind me interrupts my thoughts.

I was so focused on Number Thirteen that I didn’t notice someone else approaching.

I turn around and see blood red eyes, two horns, and bat-like wings.
All belonging to someone who looks very calm.

…It’s a demon.


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