Metro Labyrinth Chapter 126.3: [True Ashura] vs [Magic Woman]

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“For all of you!!” (Shuu)



 I endured the dizzying five seconds.


 The upper left mycelial arm fires an accumulated [Fireball] at the puppet below.


 The moment it hit the ground, it exploded. The expanding hot air blows the puppet away, and the pillar of fire engulfs the two closest to the direct hit. As one would expect from a Fungal Skill that is 100 percent mycelium, it burns very well. The effect was excellent.



“What—[Great Fireball]!?” (Maria)



 I, who had landed, approached the wide-eyed Hakuou. Even so—it still didn’t work, the Holy Silver puppet became a wall, buying time for the other puppets to join. At that moment, Hakuou once again took some distance.



 I didn’t miss the sight of her breathing hard as she pulled out threads to replace the charred puppet.



 Regarding [Magic Woman], I discovered three qualities that could be called weaknesses.



 The white puppet attacks without feeling fatigued or in pain. Its killing power is too threatening, but the durability of its body made of soft mycelium is not so high. Although I am unable to use my [Light Blade] due to fuel consumption, I am still able to cut down the puppet with my bare [Katana].



 The puppet, which has no internal organs or brain, has no vital organs or brain, and its vital point is probably near the center of its torso. It doesn’t matter if you cut off its head or pierce its chest, it will come at you, but if you cut it in two with a diagonal slash or a helm splitter, it will no longer move. Whether there is some kind of nucleus there, or whether it stops after a certain amount of damage, I have no time to make sure.



 And—in order to add a new puppet, Hakuou is also draining a reasonable amount of physical strength. There is no way it is inexhaustible or risk-free.



 As evidence of this, the new puppets are picking up hypha weapons from their destroyed comrades. It’s a stingy act that doesn’t suit her queen act, but she’s also cornered to the point that her physical strength to produce it is being conserved.



(Compared to me.) (Shuu)



 Will I run out of strength first, or will she run out of strength first?



(—No, I don’t intend to go down before you!) (Shuu)



“Gaaaah!” (Shuu)



 Combining savage courage, turning the pain in his whole body into fighting spirit, I rushed forward.



 If her visible exhaustion is not a bluff, she, herself, is nearing her limit.


 I forcefully slash and cut open a path where a squad of puppets stands in my way.



 I do not stop. I do not stop thinking. I continue to move, gorging on oxygen and burning my cells.


 A blade passes right in front of my eyes and nose. Dust is flying from the slash, and splattered blood and fragments of mycelium mingle together.



“Guuu-!” (Maria)



 The groan is not from me but from Hakuou.


 Obviously, the puppet’s movements are slowing down. Is she also in pain, is her mind being scorched away?



“Aaaaaaaa!” (Shuu)



 Stepping in with all my might, mowing them all. The white puppet in front is blown away and a bloody path is opened. Hakuou is about ten meters ahead—




 The momentary pause because of [Leaping] ended with a sense of discomfort.



(My arms!) (Shuu)



 Both my real arms and mycelium arms creaked and didn’t move.


 Hakuou sticks out her hands in front of her. Thin threads extend from the fingertips and connect to six puppets.


 That thread was entangled in my arm. Surrounding me and pulling the string, restraining me.



 Then – the remaining one rushes forward. It holds its [Axe Spear] in the upper position.



“Oooooooo!” (Shuu)



 With a yell, I exert all my strength. Every vein in my body seems ready to burst.


 I pull back the puppets by the threads that clamp down on my arms, twisting and turning my body like swinging a fishing rod.


 The puppets fly through the air like an amusement park ride and crash into each other.


 Then, I close the distance and strike the puppet with my [Katana], cutting the strings at the same time.



“Damn, that ridiculous strength–” (Maria)



 Hakuou, who had cut the threads from herself just in time, stepped back. I was also [Leaping] in line with that.


 With a short breath, I swung down my [Katana]. She dodges with a hairs distance, but I immediately swing my [Great Shield] finally hitting her face.



(At last–) (Shuu)


(My first hit!) (Shuu)



 Hakuou lying on its side and rolling on the ground. A Holy Silver puppet entered to interrupt me, who was preparing to pursue her, and she immediately stood up.



“…the promise.” (Shuu)


“……eh?” (Maria)


“First one, it’s done.” (Shuu)



 Then she notices her own blood dripping from her nose.



 As if the time that had stopped had come back to life, the venue was enveloped in a deafening cheer. Was it for the breathless battle that had just ended, or was it for me finally getting my revenge?



 Hakuou spits out blood, proof that the inside of her mouth is also cut.



“…I should have realized it earlier.” (Maria)


“Eh?” (Shuu)


“Your true strength…is not [Light Blade], much less it is [True Ashura]. Your most important skill is that you have the zombie-like endurance to survive the injuries that would normally kill someone many times over.” (Maria)



 Indeed, if it weren’t for [Immortality], I would have been out of combat long ago. It’s also true that thanks to it, I’m close to running out of gas.



“The wound under the bloodstain is already pretty much closed, isn’t it? The speed of your recovery, which is impossible with [Self-Regeneration], that bluish scab… I doubt it, but–” (Maria)


“But, as expected, it’s almost time for me to end this.” (Shuu)



 I cut off the next words. It’s not something we should talk about now.


 Hakuou smiled and muttered, “Yes.”



“So am I… I haven’t been cornered this far since the duel with the first ranker.” (Maria)



 First rank—“Transcendent” Kang Juubei. Has she ever stood up to him?



“As a reward… I’ll show you. Only he knows, my strongest.” (Maria)



 The white puppet was about to break due to my attack earlier.


 Those who were staggering and on the verge of rising suddenly collapsed to the ground. As if their strings had been cut.


 What was left behind were two Holy Silver puppets. They close in from both sides of Hakuou and wrap their arms around her in an embrace.



“My [Magic Woman] is… I can only produce dolls of the same shape and size. Most of the soft hypha can be adjusted in size… I wonder who resembles their stubbornness.” (Maria)



 As she speaks, the threads are unraveling from the puppet’s body and entwining with hers.



“But… for some reason, I was able to do this, I don’t know. I didn’t even practice.” (Maria)



 The clattering mithril armor envelope breaks down and covers her body.



“It’s really a mystery how Fungal Skills works, isn’t it? It’s so fickle, it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. …but coincidences are so interesting.” (Maria)



 The audience fell silent.



 Then, Hakuou Maria, who had fused with the [Magic Woman], appeared.


 She is a six-armed witch clad in silver and white mail over her entire body. The arms extending from her shoulders and armpits belonged to the Sacred Silver Puppet.


 It looks as if she is imitating my form. It is certainly too good to be coincidental.



“…that’s the end of playing with dolls. Let’s settle this, you and I.” (Maria)



 Her intimidating presence, and the murderous aura that she wears, is not a sign of bitterness.


 As she said, this must be her true secret. And surely—this is the last card.



“…can I show my last card too?” (Shuu)


“Oh, is there still something to enjoy? Show me.” (Maria)



 I threw away the [Great Shield]. I grip the [Katanna] with both hands and focused.


 Hypha flows from the palm of my hand. My stamina is being squeezed out.


 The hilt becomes thicker, and the blade sharpens and spreads out.



“…That’s right. It wasn’t [Great Fireball], it was [Accumulation] Fungal Skill.” (Shuu)



 An accumulated [Katana]. A three-sword fighting technique, swinging all with my bare arms and swinging left and right hypha arms.


 “Fuu, fuu.” I was breathing heavily. The giant [Katana] feels heavier than usual. It’s not just because of the mass.



“Me too… I’m going to end this.” (Shuu)



 I don’t think I have any energy left to use other Fungal Skills, or to heal serious injuries.


 So, I’ll bet everything on this melee. This is the only way to punch through that mithril armor.



“…that’s unfortunate. If you were twenty years younger, I would have made you mine.” (Maria)



 Hakuou says with a smile. She picks up the [Rapier] and [Axe Spear] that have fallen to the ground and takes a stance.



“If only I was 20 years younger.” (Shuu)



 Imagining myself as a boy of eight years old, I carry a large sword on my shoulder. Two swings of the mycelial arm spread out to the left and right like the wings of a butterfly.



 We don’t need a signal.



 Kicking the ground in perfect harmony, the two of us clashed head-on.



T/N: Huh. It’s still going.




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