066. Chance Meeting
After sending Grucius back to Tempest, I tried to return myself but the skill wouldn’t activate.
What’s going on?
Grucius did just disappear in front of me a second ago, though…
≪Announcement. You are inside a wide-range barrier. Transfer skills are sealed.≫
were answered by the『Great Sage』.
I’m getting a bad feeling about this.
A feeling of impending doom that I have never felt before.
When Milim invaded, I did not feel any killing intent from her; so I was not that worried. But this time, all my senses are sounding the alarm.
Have I fallen into a trap?
I tried calling for Ranga from within my shadow, but he did not respond.
Seems like this barrier has completely isolated me from the outside world.
So it seems that I can neither call for aid nor escape.
The feeling of dread led to me to set up some things as insurance. At least I can still use my skills…
≪Announcement. You are inside a wide-range barrier. All magic energy manipulation abilities have been sealed.≫
That basically includes every type of magic that I use; even flame and lightning abilities have been sealed.
Moreover,『Steel Thread』and thread manipulation abilities have also been sealed.
So instead of thinking that I wandered into somebody’s hunting ground, I am the one who is being hunted?
They permitted Grucius departure in order not to fight both of us at once. Had I decided to leave first, though, they might not have waited.
In that case, they can probably sense the flow of my magic.
What could they be planning?
I take stance in response to a relentless killing intent, and wait for the enemy to appear. I am of course trying to dispel the barrier, but to do that I need the『Great Sage』to analyze it first.
However, these long range barriers require more time to be analyzed.
In other words, I’m in a pinch.
This was the first time I felt my heart beat faster out of anxiety.
It was anxiety that I have never felt since coming into the world.
That could have been the result of me changing into the slime, but chances are, it’s mostly due to the predictive abilities of the『Great Sage』.
Before I undertake anything, it can estimate the chances of me succeeding.
Which is why I have been able to face strong opponents fearlessly. Though they were strong, I could predict the outcome.
On the other hand, even facing certain defeat I did not feel anxious.
If I can’t win, I should just run away. If I can’t run away, let’s at least punch them once.
But none of that mattered in this case. Here, without knowing my opponent’s strength, I cannot predict the outcome.
However, I do feel their killing intent.
I don’t know whether I can win, and I cannot run away. Nor do I know how many enemies I am facing.
A few humans would be needed to set up a barrier this large.
However, 『Heat Perception』is detecting only a single body approaching;『Magic Perception』is not responding.
So if I turned into a slime, I would be essentially blind.
In other words, I have lost that amazing perceptive ability and cannot view the entire battlefield at once.
The moment I was caught in this barrier, my chances of winning have fallen significantly.
However, to go out of one’s way to seal an opponent’s abilities…
So it’s possible to fight like this. Moreover, the enemy doesn’t even realize that they have been separated from the outside world.
Clearly the work of someone who professionally hunts monsters.
Chances are, the barrier is at least 4 kilometers wide. It’s boundary is completely outside of my sight.
Their meticulousness is terrifying.
(Just who would do this, and why are they hunting me?)
When I thought that,
「Pleased to meet you, should I say? Though I won’t know you for long」
A single person walking towards me threw such words at me.
I thought so for a while now, but I feel like I’ve seen her somewhere.
A nostalgic feeling when looking at her.
She has beautiful, glossy black hair at about shoulder height, with the left side swept back and the right almost covering her eye.
She wears small round glasses, which could be described as her defining characteristic.
I wonder if she wears them out of fashion, since her eyes don’t seem particularly bad.
She wears dark clothing that’s easy to move around. However, by the quality of it, the clothing is clearly made for ceremonial occasions. Rather than a skirt, she wears pants.
Her body is bound by a robe, the kind the clergy wear, dyed black.
Though I am a fan of black myself, hers is an unnatural fascination with the color.
Her eyes, cold and cruel, display profound wisdom.
Other than the cold glare, she can only be described as beautiful
「Pleased to meet you, but do you have some business with me?
My name is Rimuru; could there be some misunderstanding here?」
It’s probably pointless, but no harm in trying.
She clearly has targeted me. There’s no way she made a mistake.
But even so, I’d rather not get killed because of a misunderstanding.
「Of course not, there is no mistake here.
Master of the Monster’s City. You know, it’s a bother.
So I decided to crush it.
Which is why your return would be a great inconvenience.
You understand, don’t you?」
Without any hesitation and as if bored, she explained herself.
“Ah, I see!” Isn’t something I can just say here.
But how does she know that I rule over Tempest?
「Why do you call me a monster, and some monsters’ city lord?
I’m just a normal adventurer, can’t you see?」
「Huh? Are you playing dumb?
Well, it’s no use. I have my sources.
I won’t tell you who, of course, but this much I’m certain about.
There are many “eyes” in the Royal Capital. You should be more prudent with your secrets.」
An informant, she says?
I have no idea who it could be. I would have noticed if I were being followed and I was careful with my contacts.
I don’t get it. Well, I do understand that she’s out to kill me, though.
This is really bad.
She is armed with a rapier hanging on her hip.
She isn’t wearing armor and appears rather carefree.
I can’t feel the presence of anyone else around, seems like the people who created the barrier will not be joining the fight.
They planned a certain-kill trap but only sent one person?
Or does that mean that she’s simply that powerful?
But this is not the time to be pondering these things. Tempest might be getting attacked this very moment.
After raising an army, it would take them about a week to reach the city.
How many days did it take Grucius to travel from Farmas Kingdom to Ingrasia Kingdom?
If he was running without rest, I’d say about three days.
The plan was for me to return immediately, but, as things stand, I can only lament my ignorance.
All I know is that I don’t have the time to fool around.
「Seems that even if I claimed that you’ve got the wrong person you won’t trust me, will you?」
「Nope. After all, I’ve heard that the master of the monsters is named “Rimuru”」
「Ah, is that so…」
She got me. To think that she has even heard of my name.
「Can we start now?」
「I’d prefer not to, but can I at least hear your name?」
I said to her, who was drawing her rapier.
The beauty tilted her neck, and said
「I haven’t told you, huh. Didn’t really care, so I forgot.
In that case, one more time.
I am the “Emperor’s Personal Knights Battalion” Knights Captain.
Sakaguchi Hinata is the name.
Our acquaintanceship shall be short, and not a pleasant one.」
She drew the rapier.
Seven jewels adorned the hilt of her silver blade.
Crimson magic enveloped it. A Magic sword, it seems.
But to think that she is Sakaguchi Hinata…
I heard that she was the ultimate pragmatist who doesn’t like to follow through.
That seems to be a misconception. She learned about me, and everything regarding my city.
But, more importantly.
I still have to “thank” her for having messed with the kids.
Thank goodness she’s intending to fight. I can mercilessly crush her.
But just for the sake of time, if I can negotiate out of this, I will.
So while drawing my sword,
「Hinata, you say? Wait a second, I’ve been meaning to talk to you!」
「I don’t know what a monster could possibly mean to tell me, but I’m not planning to listen.」
「Wait, I said. You’re Japanese, and so am I. Shizu-san has asked me to look…」
「I know. That you killed Shizu-sensei. So this is revenge.
Besides, a monster being a Japanese? What a ridiculous thing you say, don’t try to make me laugh」
Doesn’t seem like she’ll believe me.
Right! I thought of a way and,
「I’ve been telling you: I’m Japanese! I died over there and reincarnated as a slime in this world!」
I said, in Japanese.
Surprise colored her face.
「How skillful… where have you learned those words?
But, that’s not how this works. The chance of that occurring is astronomically low.
Moreover, the chance that such a person is talking to me right now on top of that makes it impossible.
In other words, there’s no need to even consider your words.」
She completely disregards anything I’ll say.
I had thought she may believe if a monster suddenly starts speaking Japanese, but…
「So you are planning to fight no matter what, huh?
Well, then let me pay you back for messing with the kids!
And besides, do you think that you’ll be enough to defeat me?」
Even if she is a “World Traveler”, I possess the power rivaling demon lords.
No matter how far my abilities have been restricted, I can hardly imagine losing to her.
Is what I thought, but…
「Hmm? What kids are you talking about?
Besides, I’m surprised. Are you honestly thinking that you can win against me in this barrier?」
She smiled in amusement and whispered the response.
In the next moment, seven rainbow colored lights shot out from her sword.
A series of high speed thrusts. The afterimage matches the color of the jewels?
I tried to avoid it, but my body felt heavy.
Seriously! Even physical abilities are restricted.
In spite of my attempts, I was hit thrice.
A burning pain ran through my body. Pain? I felt something I should be resistant to.
「Hmm? Not all of them hit I see.
I am impressed by your evasive abilities. I wonder how far you can go?」
Without giving me a second to rest, she resumed her onslaught.
I tried blocking the hits with my sword. But as if her thrusts were passing through the sword, I was hit again.
Feeling imminent danger, I jumped away from her.
Thus, I was hit four times. Somehow, I feel that taking any more hits is dangerous.
「Oh, have you noticed this skill’s powers?
There have been plenty of fools who have perished without offering even a hint of resistance…
Seems like you’re a bit brighter than the rest」
With a small nod, she complimented me.
Not that it makes me happy.
This skill probably transmits pain not to the nerves, but directly to the soul. So there’s no way to guard against it.
The fact that there is not a single wound on my body is proof.
I had the『Great Sage』run some predictions based on my observations. It seems that I will die if I get hit thrice more.
Not the death of the flesh but of the soul itself.
What an absurd skill. But I can’t be certain whether this is a skill or an ability of the magic sword.
Honestly, seems like I was underestimating my opponent too much.
Sakaguchi Hinata. She definitely has a unique skill.
On top of not knowing what it is, the fact that my abilities are sealed put me at a great disadvantage in this fight.
In fact, I probably should have attempted escaping since the moment I found out I was trapped inside the barrier.
Though whether I could escape or not…
I’m constantly a step behind.
From what I tried out, neither『Black Flame』,『Black Lightning』, nor『Barrier』 can be used.
Moreover, since『Cloning』,『Devil Transformation』, and『Fire Change』are also magic energy manipulation abilities, I can’t even transform.
All my certain-win skills having been sealed without even having a chance to put them to use.
Not that I am completely defenseless, though.
「Fumu. What are you planning, I wonder.
It’s useless, you know?
A rank monsters trapped in the Holy Barrier cannot live for long.
C rank monsters are immediately purified.
Don’t you understand? The barrier purifies magical energy itself.
Therefore, high level monsters like you lose most of your power and cannot fight as you normally would.
It is the strongest barrier the church has against you monsters.
Normally, it is used for Disaster Class A rank monsters and above…
Oh and you said that I wouldn’t be enough to kill you, but there was hardly a need for me to come out.
But, I guess I did want to try talking to you once.
Since you killed Shizu-sensei.
Perhaps not revenge, but she would have wanted me to kill you, no?」
「I did technically kill Shizu-san, but that was…」
「That was? Doesn’t matter. She was the only person who was nice to me in the whole world. And now she is gone…」
Not a feeling I myself understand. She murmured and looked at me.
Her eyes simply declare me as her prey.
After showing such an overwhelming difference, she stands motionless.
Her confidence probably comes from the power she has just displayed.
And, if I trust what she is saying, my chances of victory inside the barrier are next to none.
If I don’t dispel it, I will certainly lose.
But, she believes me to be Shizu-san’s nemesis? That I don’t get.
Since a while ago, something about her conversation seems off.
But there’s no time for that.
If anything, I mostly worry about…
「This barrier can only be created by the Holy Knights. So don’t worry.
The ones sent to your city cannot use it.
But, creating a weak barrier is part of our curriculum, so they will create a weak one.
Before long, you’ll lose a place to return to, you see?
Not that you’ll be able to return」
As I thought; if they use such a barrier to attack Tempest, my friends will be in danger.
They are an opponent we must immediately crush. But how unexpectedly annoying they are!
My only option is to use attacks that don’t use magical energy.
That is–the sword and unique skills.
Her sword hand is superior to mine. My physical strength is slowly falling–that much is true–but she hasn’t shown her true skill yet either.
I don’t want to believe it, but I feel the same pressure from her that I do from Hakurou.
Which is why I have to depend on unique skills to defeat her.
That wasn’t something I wanted to reveal. I am hesitant to use it, but I have no choice.
First, I raised my abilities using〈Fighting Spirit Technique〉. Moreover, I activated『Herculean Strength』.
As expected, I can use skills that don’t rely on magical energy.
「Isn’t it too early to think that you have won?」
I readied my sword and went on the offensive.
Thanks to Hakurou’s guidance, I have gotten rather good with the sword.
Maybe out of surprise, but Hinata went on the defense.
No… she’s just being careful.
Her eyes. They are the eyes of a chef looking at a fish on the cutting board.
That’s no surprise, she is analyzing my attacks and looking for a weakness. Nor is that pride–she looks uninterested, as if doing her job.
Nor were her previous words fueled by pride, but by raw calculation.
That sending her against me is overkill is mere truth to her.
She was not looking down on me in the slightest…
Even now, as she observes my movements, she is making predictions. To my superior speed she is offering the perfect response.
This feels as if I were fighting the『Great Sage』instead of her.
When she received a hit from the sword strengthened by『Herculean Strength』I understood.
The overwhelming difference between us.
Though the tip of the sword has almost reached the speed of sound, she has yet to be wounded.
She is able to perfectly read my attacks.
And in order to do that, you’d have to be as proficient as Hakurou.
The second I lost my balance, she landed two more hits with deadly precision.
「Oh? Is this the end?
But, yeah. Being able to move that well in this barrier is commendable.
Honestly, I looked down on you. But even now, you can’t win against me.
You’ve held up well, until now, that is. You have already received six hits.
The special ability of the sword, Dead End Rainbow, bestows certain death upon an opponent it has struck seven times.
There was no need to teach you this, but you wouldn’t be able to pass on without knowing what killed you, would you?」
The truth as she saw it. And make no mistake, that’s is the truth since I saw it as well.
But, though she masquerades it as an act of kindness, she really intends to instill fear in me and push me into making a mistake.
She is perfectly prudent. Meaning there is no other reason for her to teach me this.
Even with my abilities sealed I had thought I would manage somehow, but she’s the worst opponent for me.
An opponent who knows neither pride nor negligence. One that would use her best hand to win.
And, she kept analyzing my abilities while fighting; yet being so sure of her victory, she has yet to neglect to continue analyzing.
The situation was simply that hopeless. Never had I thought I’d face such a hopeless situation.
Even with the limitless Milim I could imagine a thing or two to do. Not that I’d win, of course…
「Then I’ll continue this pointless struggle.
I am not so obedient that I’d just roll over and die when asked!」
I respond, and try something I have yet to use.
That is, spirit summoning. Spirits are something other than magical energy.
While I cannot summon a spirit without making a contract, I can call forth the one resting inside me.
≪Solution. The High Spirit Ifrit has been separated from the『Shapeshifter』skill.≫
Seems like it was a success.
I could allow this spirits skills to change, resulting in various types of magical abilities, but not this time.
The reason is: I fear it won’t reach her.
Unfortunately, she is not the type of an opponent to fall for petty tricks.
If I don’t go all out in one shot, I cannot win.
「Serve thy purpose, Fire Spirit Ifrit!!!」
At my call, the Ifrit materialized.
A magical energy link was established between the Ifrit and I, resulting in magical energy flowing from me to him.
Thus, my energy was finally put into some use.
However, that was not the reason why I called him out.
Ifrit began his attack. Thus, she should be too occupied to attack me.
As expected, she is busy fighting with the Ifrit.
Thus, I could launch some attacks on her,
「Oh? To even be able to summon high level spirits, how unexpected; but, that’s not enough to defeat me」
She declared facing me, interrupting my attack.
Ifrit is a high ranking spirit.
Even if we are inside the Holy Barrier, spirits are natural energy and are unaffected.
Since this is a barrier of holy power.
Even if that was not the case, Ifrit, who surpasses A rank, would not be defeated by it.
By the looks of it, Ifrit is looking back, crouching. As if he were defying my orders.
「You, what did you do?」
「I’ll answer if you tell me what you were planning to do?」
The air tensed between us.
Hearing that call, Ifrit disappeared, and returned back inside of me.
≪Solution. Ifrit was subjected to a Forced Control Ability
The opponent probably attempted to steal Ifrit away≫
Forced control ability? So her power is to take away…
This World Traveler Sakaguchi Hinata is a monster far exceeding my predictions.
I was blinded by the barrier, thinking that it was the reason for the close battle, but that was a mistake.
In fact, the barrier is merely there to make me believe that and let my guard down.
Did I really believe I could defeat her!
A lovely smile appears on her face.
What a terrifying enemy she is.
She has yet to use all her strength–that much I am sure of.
「You… tried to snatch Ifrit away, huh…?」
「Oh? How did you know?
Since you found out, I’ll let you know.
You’re right. It’s thanks to my unique skill『Usurper』」
Unique skill『Usurper』she says…
The ability to take away the strength of one’s enemies and their spirits! Similar to my『Predator』.
But she does so without having to analyze the abilities, so it’s more battle oriented.
I see, so fighting “World Travelers” will inevitably lead to a clash between unique abilities, huh…
It’s guaranteed for summoned ones, but seems like World Travelers can also acquire one.
Actually, no; I should expect the most powerful individuals in this world to possess a unique skill.
The fact that I didn’t consider that before only shows my immaturity.
I see, that’s why Hinata has been observing me the whole time. A textbook fighting method.
Just shows how much more fighting experience she has.
While I am unsure whether her ability is superior to mine, her use of it probably is.
I can’t win without betting my very existence here.
However, I will lose after taking one more hit.
She even so easily crushed my Ifrit trump card, so I have only one thing left to do.
It’s not something I want to use, but I have no choice here.
I have no idea what will happen as a result, or whether it will reach the barrier…
But I have to try.
「Hinata, we have yet many things to discuss, but I don’t have enough time.
I’m sorry, but we’ll have to settle this next time」
「Still haven’t given up? Well, be my guest…
The last attack will be on a completely different level of pain than the rest.」
She looked at me one last time,
(Oi, I leave the rest to you『Great Sage』!)
≪Understood. Order has been received. After confirming the situation, I will execute command≫
I am impaled by last attack
「Die! Dead End Rainbow!」
After shouting that order, my consciousness fell into seemingly endless darkness.
As if falling asleep, I fell unconscious.
＊ ＊ ＊
At the same moment as the rapier pierced Rimuru’s flesh,『Gluttony』awakened on commend.
The awakened demon, stared at the rapier stuck in his flesh, and began to change.
Hinata quickly noticed Rimuru’s change and was on her guard.
She felt the sword grow heavy in her hand.
For some reason, she decided to let it go; little did she know that this decision saved her life.
A pale blue light enveloped the rapier down to the hilt.
In front of her eyes, Rimuru began to change, but collapsed without taking a form.
After all, the barrier prevented any kind of change caused by magic manipulation. Transformation was included in that list.
But, that being didn’t care–it moved towards her formless.
While swallowing everything in its wake.
Dangerous! Hinata felt.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s absorbing the very environment.
Had she been a second late releasing that sword, she would have been swallowed whole already.
But it kept targeting Hinata, moving on sound, heat, and smell alone.
Unbelievable. She murmured.
In the first place, Dead End Rainbow is as advertised–it destroys the opponents soul after seven hits.
This being will not die, as it does not have a soul.
Since coming to this world, she has discerned the three layers of souls.
The soul–the source of power for humans and monsters.
Cloaking themselves in their souls, the most brittle existence, the astral bodies
Establishing themselves in power, spiritual bodies
Those who have a direct connection to this world, material bodies
The soul is the entity itself, there is no “being” outside of it.
Any kind of consideration requires the presence of an astral body.
Of course, should it be based on astral body alone, the being will dissipate into thin air.
So a medium to record the memories is needed–spiritual body.
However, spiritual body preserves kind of like virtual memory, hence cannot serve as a permanent medium.
Hence the flesh.
So for those with tempered souls, should they even sustain brain damage, recovery of certain memories becomes possible.
And, there are monsters who live with only a soul. That kind of being, however, is inferior to the rest.
But, even if it is but a soul, should it obtain some level of intelligence, it will be recognized as a monster.
These are what the world knows as the four dragons, the highest form of being.
But, even this special race requires a soul. So what is happening before her now completely escapes her understanding.
For the first time ever, Hinata felt anxiety.
The only thing she could think of…
Would this no longer be a life-form?
At the very least, it has certainly exceeded the definition of “life” of this world.
Yet before her eyes, it continuously tried to take shape. Right now, it looked like a slime.
No, Hinata thought, it was a slime to begin with.
What was now before her was far more sinister–devouring all life insight.
It wasn’t something she could quickly defeat. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t something she couldn’t defeat.
Her weapon, however, crumbling before her eyes,
She took out an amulet from her bag, and erected another barrier with it.
One that binds not the flesh, but every level of one’s soul.
However, the slime continued to move.
As I thought…
Thus, Hinata concluded that the slime before her was but Rimuru’s empty husk.
The result of the last works Rimuru called out–Gluttony, was it?
Probably, though his soul was destroyed he activated some kind of program to defeat his opponent…
In that case, this is simple.
If it doesn’t have a soul, it’s hardly an enemy. All you need to do is stop the body from moving.
Of course, she still needed to watch out for getting caught and devoured by this half-baked thing.
「Oh my. You are a pain even after death… I hate you.
But, if I don’t erase what you have become, I fear you’ll wreak havoc upon the world…」
She grumbled to herself, while coming up with a plan.
The point was to stop it’s movements. Having so decided, Hinata started to summon spirits.
The myriad of spirits attacked the slime as a flood.
Normally, she’d summon a demon, but that wouldn’t be possible within the Holy Barrier.
So while she did feel bad for the Spirits, they’d have to go out and die.
While confirming that the spirits have occupied the slime, Hinata began to chant a grand spell.
Thanks to her ability『Mathematician』she can normally ignore the chant, but this time was different.
The magic that she could use within the barrier belong to〈Incantation〉and〈Spirit Magic〉as these do not rely directly on magical energy.
The magic that she is planning to use is the ultimate attack magic from the〈Divine Magic〉archive.
The atheist Hinata was praying to a god.
Finding this very fact ironic, Hinata hated this magic. However, her preferences aside, the magic that Hinata knows, the strongest among it, is limited to the ones taught by the church.
Her hands stretched out in front of her, one is drawing some complicated symbols in the air, while the other is drawing geometric shapes.
After quickly weaving such a complicated spell, a completed magic circle was now before her.
The decorative glasses have by now fallen off her face, and,
「I lift my prayers to the heavens. I ask, for a holy strength.
I beg, for my prayer to be heard.
Upon all of creation! Disintegration!!!」
A power befitting a god.
Though it’s not an area attack, since it targets everything from the atom to the soul, it is considered the strongest anti-personnel magic.
Upon completing the chant, a brilliant white light shot out from her hands.
A blinding light.
It traveled to the target at a speed of 300,000 km/s. Equal to the speed of light.
The skill completely vaporizes the target via holy energy. The down-side–it requires a long time to prepare.
Amidst a magic fight, or a duel, it is not a power you can use. Moreover, it requires a large amount of energy to use, and can be used at most once per day.
However, there is not a single being who could withstand this attack.
Now, the hideous slime, who barely feels any damage from the environment, has disappeared without a trace.
This is also a skill which only erases its target.
「It’s over, huh… you were harder than expected」
Hinata sighed in relief, and so muttered.
Using spirits she notified the Holy Barrier knights squad to dispel it.
She had originally thought that there was no need to erect it, but the informant insisted that it was necessary.
Had she fought without it…
She thought not further. She refused to consider meaningless possibilities.
She was busy thinking about what the slime Rimuru has said.
The kids? What was that about?
Ah, whatever. Thinking about it wouldn’t help. What can she do about something she has never heard of?
After confirming that the barrier has been dispelled, Hinata thought about the future.
Would she be able to gain complete control of Tempest if she set off for the city?
First is information gathering.
She decided to first learn of the subjugation team’s progress, so she returned to the church.
By now, the monster named Rimuru was completely forgotten.
Whether they were strong or weak, there’s no use thinking about something that was erased.
The chance that the monster was still alive was completely ignored by her.
That is the secret to her strength and her greatest weakness, though she herself is unaware of the fact.
Hinata’s only thought at the time was「I need a new sword」
And thus she left.