Chapter 203 Strongest Sage, Waits for Time
---------Mathias's Point of View---------
In this kind of fights, the most critical juncture that could decide victory or defeat is a few seconds right after it starts.
Right after a battle start is when each has the opportunity to unleash the card both have prepared beforehand, clashing each other's powerful magic.
If either made even the slightest mistake, that could be the decisive moment of the battle.
However, in our current situation I'm at an overwhelming disadvantage.
I have no means to deal a decisive blow even if the enemy shows an opening.
The only thing I can do now is buying time.
--That's why, now is the time to deal as much damage as I could possibly do.
In order to make the enemy as wary as possible, and prevent him from trying to end this battle quick.
The problem here is the enemy's actions--
『Iris, it's the Destruction Flight! Dodge below while readying your breath!』
I shouted that with comm magic when I saw Zaridias made a sudden acceleration in front of us.
Overcoming the flaws in 『Fullpower Flight』 by coating themselves in an enormous amount of mana, turning a simple flight into a weapon capable of felling a dragon in one hit, it's a magic that can only be used by high ranking demons.
This blow is probably aimed at Iris. There's no need for such firepower just to kill me, and for Zaridias himself, Iris's breaths possess the most obvious menace.
Thus, Zaridias closed the distance at once with Destruction Flight. To prevent the breath from getting discharged.
He's carrying two great swords whose heights exceed even his own in both hands.
His movements are an exemplary of anti-dragon combat.
Putting aside magic to neutralize Dragon Breaths like I used before, the best way to fight a dragon is to zero in at once and deliver the finishing blow quick.
Since even though Breaths can cover wide breadth, hitting something up close with it is difficult.
However, this move ignores my existence.
Naturally, I use the chance to jump off Iris and strike at Zaridias from the flank, however--
Black shields appeared in Zaridias's surroundings almost the same time I deployed my magic.
--『Instantaneous Absolute Shield』.
It's only effective for half a second, but even amongst the numerous defensive magic there are, it's close to the strongest possible.
And with 『Destruction Flight』, half a second is enough to get away from me and reach Iris.
This magic's spell formation isn't so simple it could be deployed immediately in response to my actions.
Zaridias probably predicted that I would act at this timing and prepared the defensive magic accordingly beforehand.
--However, I have also predicted this.
The magic I deployed was 『Limited Binding Barrier - Rev』.
It's not an attack spell, it's just used for binding target.
Of course, there's no way an ordinary binding magic is able to stop 『Destruction Flight』.
By modifying 『Limited Binding Barrier』 spell formation, limiting its range to a few centimeter wide, and effective time to a few seconds, I've squeezed enough defensive power to even temporarily defend against 『Destruction Flight』.
And a few seconds is enough for Iris to fire her breath.
『Iris, shoot him up along with me!』
With my signal, Iris shot a breath into a path that would engulf Zaridias along with me.
She wasn't holding back at all with her attack.
To deal with that, I deploy a special kind of magic around me.
It's a magic without name I made especially to defend against Iris's breath.
It's principally similar to the magic that destroyed Iris's breath, but this one protects only me.
Zaridias who had lost the effect of 『Instantaneous Absolute Barrier』 got roasted in Iris's breath.
He attempted to deploy a defensive magic, however, there's no way an impromptu made barrier is able to defend against a high ranking dragon's breath.
As expected of a battle hardened veteran like Zaridias, he didn't scream out loud like other demons would, but he couldn't hide the damage he suffered.
--A few seconds later.
After the flame cleared up, Zaridias showed up with burn marks, being ragged all over.
Within Zaridias's line of sight, Iris swooped down below, turned into her human form and went inside the barrier.
Quite an ideal retreat.
Zaridias isn't saying a word.
He's simply waiting for the moment to strike with his great swords at the ready.
He must be hiding the damage he suffered as much as possible, trying to make me believe that the breath wasn't really effective.
His posture is indeed stable, as if he hasn't suffered any damage.
His body has been restored back to its original state with magic, leaving no wounds outwardly.
But the sensation I've tempered through my past life tells me that the damage is still largely intact.
High-ranking demons have sturdier bodies than humans', but it's also harder to recover. It cannot be restored in just a few seconds.
And the fact that Zaridias is moving while wary of being bound again is all the evidence I need.
However--I'm still at an disadvantage here.
This much damage is not enough to overcome the gap in our fundamental mana amount and strength.
While hiding that, I should buy as much time as possible with my limited mana.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
Zaridias comes slashing at me without a word.
I parried his sword with my own.
At a glance, it must look like an ordinary cross between blades.
However, we exchanged dozens of magic in that span of time.
If I used even one wrong magic to deal with Zaridias's, the battle would end in that moment.
In order to gain more time in such a battle, I used Iris to become a deterrent from the start.
With the amount of mana I currently have, parrying one blow from Zaridias's sword charged with his full power attack magic requires nearly 10% of the amount.
Our blades need to cross at least several hundreds time before Ruli comes bringing me the sword. Consuming 10% with just one blow is completely out of question.
Thus, I'm using Iris to keep him in check.
I mix up spells to bind Zaridias among the defensive spells I use.
Depriving him the chance to use attack magic to block those.
Thus, Iris's breath is useful for that.
If Zaridias gets bound by my magic, there's a possibility of Iris shooting breath from the ground below.
Since our enemy is wary of that possibility, I'm able to keep using binding magic that uses little mana, and the enemy himself is preserving his strength to cast the magic needed to break him out of it.
Thus begins the fight to buy time for real.
--About a minute since the nerve-wrecking fight begun.
The flow of battle itself hasn't changed at all from the beginning. Zaridias comes slashing at me, and I parry him.
If there's a slight difference, it's that I've managed to grasp Zaridias's moves, bringing my mana consumption down.
Zaridias too attempts to read my moves, but I'm above him in term of foresight.
Rather, by outsmarting his attempts to read my moves, I end up consuming less mana than when dealing with normal attacks.
While repeating the ebb and flow, I single-mindedly wait for time.
Prolonging the battle even one second longer, preserving until the sword gets here.
A few minutes after the fight to buy time unfolded.
I could sense Ruli and Alma's mana reactions becoming extremely small.
They've probably entered the capital's treasury. It shouldn't be long now until they brought the sword here.
However, at the same time, I can feel the bottom of my mana.
I've been repeatedly lowering my mana consumption that could have resulted in an instant death if I made a single mistake, yet, fighting a prolonged battle against a stronger opponent simply consumes a significant amount of mana.
My remaining mana is probably not enough to even get me half the time Ruli and Alma need to get here.
There is a way to convert my own life force into mana.
However, it's a double-edged sword.
Life force is the root of all powers, it governs over everything, from martial arts to magic output.
The less life force I have, the weaker I get, and the more mana I need to maintain this battle's status quo.
The decreased life force will be restored in time, but it's not fast enough to get replenished in the middle of a fight.
In other words, the moment my life force is decreased, it will rapidly get depleted, until my life is consumed at the end.
If the magic sword didn't get here until then, I would die.
I can't reincarnate myself since I haven't made preparations for it.
However, it is possible to construct reincarnation magic if I convert the entirety of my remaining life force now.
If I did that, I might be able to master magic combat in my next life.
Zaridias would probably destroy the present civilization, but it should be possible to bounce back as long as humans don't go extinct.
Which one should I choose here.
I contemplated for a second, and made my decision.
--I'm betting on Ruli and Alma to get here in time, to win this fight.