Whole chapter is in Amelia’s PoV
“Haah…… haah…… haah……!!!”
The time now is exactly noon.
It’s been about six hours, that is, half of the time remaining, and I already have four roses left.
Ray’s strategy was simple yet powerful.
It was based on hit-and-away, getting in close when he could and scattering my roses with his sword. However, he never tried to forcefully attack me. Once the rose is scattered, it doesn’t get greedy, doesn’t attack again, and quickly retreats.
There was nothing dramatic about this battle. Ray just keeps on doing the same thing, like chipping away at my heart little by little. I, on the other hand, have to keep enduring it. I was not allowed to run away in the face of its overwhelming presence, and I had to keep facing it alone.
Come to think of it, this test was very well done. He would scatter my roses, and that would be the end. It may even end within the time limit. But the condition for me to clear the test was that I had to endure for twelve hours. If I can’t endure for twelve hours, …… that’s it.
Probably, even if it’s for 12 hours, Ray’s concentration will not be broken. He may already be familiar with this forest, or for him, it is now just his garden. I had set up delayed magic all over the trees and bushes, but it never caught him.
Ray didn’t even have a scratch on him. I, on the other hand, was now a wreck. I don’t remember how many times I’ve been thrown around and how many times I’ve been slammed into this ground.
All I could think of was to fight him off while selflessly protecting the rose.
However, if it was before my training with Ray, I would have already finished. Basic physical strength, and casting time for magic. Raising the level of those fundamentals. If not for that, I’m sure I would have already had all my roses scattered.
It could be considered as my growth ……, but I was never satisfied with that.
“Haah…… haah…… haah……!”
I can’t remember how many times I’ve had close calls with him.
I was so relieved that Ray was gone that I didn’t even have time to count the number of roses left,……, I was trapped without being able to relax.
Whenever I think that I need to be calm and cool,……, I can’t move my body properly. It’s as if I’m tied up in chains, and my movements slow down.
Ray just nonchalantly goes through each battle. There is no light in his eyes. His usual brightness and the smile he wore when he was doing something wild have all disappeared.
This might be a glimpse of him as the Ice Blade Magician, I learned once again.
I couldn’t help but let out a squeal.
I thought Ray would scatter the roses with his sword, but he closed the distance at once and caught my arm, throwing me to the ground. Thanks to what he taught me, I managed to catch myself, but the next moment, Ray’s hand was reaching for my rose.
“I won’t let you do it!”
I raised my voice.
I was not in any condition to pretend. I will protect this rose, this remaining rose, to the death. With that in mind, I somehow managed to flip off Ray’s arm, and this time I attempted to use physical techniques on him.
At this distance, this is faster than using magic!
If it wasn’t for my training with Ray, I wouldn’t have done this. I’m sure I would have relied on magic. But even this body can be a weapon. That’s what he taught me, and that’s what I could do.
That’s why I’m going to do everything I can, absolutely everything I can!
And although it lures him to the position of the delay magic set up,……, Ray dodges it effortlessly without perceiving it in his vision. Delayed magic has the most detailed code construction of any magic.
For this reason, I have avoided it until now, but Ray has thoroughly trained me in this technique as well. But again, it didn’t seem to work for him, who knew me so well.
I’ve already built a kind of barrier around myself, with layers and layers of delayed magic. But Ray seems to be aware of all of this. He was a monster, ducking and dodging effortlessly as he faced me.
I know that this is a glimpse of the seven great sorcerers.
And then he left the scene again.
“Hah …… hah …… hah …… did it …….”
For the first time. For the first time, I survived without any damage. I still have four roses left in my chest. There are only five and a half hours left. If I keep up the pace of the first half, I’m sure I won’t be able to pass this test.
But …… I won’t give up until the end. I can do it too if I try. That’s what I wanted to prove. It’s not for anyone else, it’s for myself.
I’ve been following Rebecca and Ariane for a while now.
And I was acting like an aristocrat by imitating them. But I had somehow given up on myself like that.
I thought that I was inferior to those two anyway.
I thought that I couldn’t do anything anyway.
That I was nothing but a fake anyway.
I had made up my mind and narrowed down my possibilities. Without looking at the efforts and sufferings of others, I felt as if I understood only the beautiful part of the top layer, and despaired of myself.
That was the essence of Amelia Rose.
But …… I’m certain it’s different.
Both of them are living freely. They have accepted the pressure of aristocracy, but instead of making it a conceit, they are proud of it and are moving forward on their path.
Last year, I actually saw Rebecca senpai’s final match in the Magic Swordsmanship Competition and saw her win, and I thought that this was the way the three aristocrats should be,…….
However, when I looked into it later, I found that Rebecca-senpai lost the second round in the rookie competition.
I’m sure she tried. She didn’t give up on herself, she believed that she could still go on, and one year later, she won that peak.
Also, I was the same age as Ariane. So, I assumed that I would have no choice but to be defeated in the Magic Swordsmanship Competition. Because I had always felt inferior to her.
In past, we were on good terms. She was my best friend. But as I began to feel uncomfortable, I began to distance myself from her. Because I was jealous of Ariane’s appearance.
I felt jealous of Ariane’s appearance because I knew that I was inferior to her, both as a nobleman and as a sorcerer.
I admired her confidence in herself. There were times when I longed to be like her. But I could never be like her.
Secondly, I wished to be like Ray.
But …… I’m just me, I can’t be anyone else.
Now I know …… why that is.
And the confidence that I could …… do it, that I could prevent Ray White’s attack, was beginning to awaken in me.
I had five and a half hours left.
You can do it. I can do it.
With that thought in mind, I tied my messed-up hair back together with a hairband and lightly brushed the mud from my face.
Once I had come this far, I didn’t care about my appearance. I just have to protect this rose. That’s all. That’s all I have to do now.
And I will continue to face Ray again in this forest.
Until the time limit comes to an end…
“Haah …… haah …… haah ……!! Uu……gu……haah……haah!”
How much magic did I use? I don’t know how much energy I exerted.
The sun was already setting, and the light of twilight was taking over us.
Sweat was pouring down my body. My hair was covered in mud, and my body was covered in scars. I managed to stop the bleeding, but the pain would never stop. Besides, the pain from when Ray threw me around is still lingering like a dull ache. It was probably internal bleeding. Ray did not show any mercy. With all his might, we are facing each other.
And he …… just calmly repeats his actions as if he were cutting my heart out.
I think he knows that I have a weak heart.
It’s the way he fights because he sees through it.
But I manage to keep up with him. By now, I was often able to finish my battles without incident. Perhaps if it was a no-questions-asked fight, it would be over in an instant. But all I have to do is protect this rose. Just protect it thoroughly.
Although I would attack, it would be a check and balance. All I have to do is to reach the time limit safely.
And I’m starting to understand the impatience in Ray’s eyes.
But I was such a …… full of wounds. No one will complain if I give up now. I would have been satisfied even if they had meekly scattered the rest of the roses here.
I’ve made it this far, and that’s enough. That’s what I would have thought…….
“Hah …… hah…… won’t give up …… will never give up!”
——–Shake it up!
My body is not at its limit. I can still move. But if my heart admits defeat, it will end there. That’s why I’m striving. I have to inspire my mind.
I don’t know how much time I have left. From the moment the last hour was up, Ray’s attacks never stopped.
I only have two roses left. If I could protect them, I would be able to finish this training safely.
Giving up after coming this far?
There was no way I could do such a foolish thing.
I don’t want to give up on …… myself anymore.
I wished to change.
When I came to this school, I met irreplaceable friends, and I wanted to be real.
So that’s what I’m going to be. I am living in this moment, not in the future.
“…… is over.”
A moment later, his hand reaches for my chest. It’s really a last-ditch attack. I wasn’t in a daze. But even at this time, Ray’s speed was still the same. In order to make sure that he gets it, he tries to rip my rose with his right hand.
What do I do? What should I do? High-speed magic? No, there’s no way I can make it in time. And I don’t have much energy left to use magic.
Physical magic? No, that’s also impossible …… when it comes to this distance.
What should I do …… lose? Will I give in to …… myself as I always do here?
Such thoughts pass, but a moment …… later, a strange thing happened.
I looked down and saw ….. butterflies floating in the air. But such a being had never existed before. But between me and Ray, there was definitely a single butterfly, red and fiery. An existence that suddenly appeared as if sewn between our consciousnesses.
It was as if time had stopped.
Ray and I were just staring at it in time that seems to be frozen.
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