Chapter 231, A Score Unsettled
In the arena, Lylia was standing on the side opposite to Asley, her arms crossed and her eyes closed.
Asley, facing her, quietly did a taunting gesture.
“What do you think you’re doing, Master!”
Pochi, out of the corridor and now caught up with her Master, smacked him on the head.
“Well, she wasn’t responding to me at all, so I figured I’d try doing that! Anyway, your smack hurt like hell, you know!”
“What smack It was probably just your imagination, sir!”
Asley held the back of his head and looked at Pochi, who promptly turned away.
[It doesn’t look like she’s bluffing… but she should still be feeling at least a bit scared.
Even if she’s okay for this round, it might be a source of concern for the future.]
Asley thought things over as if he could see into Pochi’s mind.
Both of them had gotten through everything up to now just fine, but it was most unlikely that the enemies they would face later would be weaker than what they had defeated before.
Thanks to the Archetype Changer, Pochi had attained the power of a Heavenly Beast.
Asley, on the other hand, had been blessed with a Holy Warrior’s power as a result of his tireless pursuit of progress.
However, no matter how much stronger they got, their fundamental aspects were not so easily changed.
Pochi’s loyalty to her Master was paramount, but she was not the bravest dog around.
There were times when she could not bring herself to fight.
Keeping that thought in mind, Asley proceeded to look around the Colosseum.
“Familiar of Lylia, Seki’teigyu! Familiar of Poer, Shiro! Forward!”
The referee’s voice echoed through the venue with the help of the voice amplification magic spell.
“…Here I go!”
“Take it easy, doggo!”
Asley deliberately avoided the saying of ‘do your best’.
He did want to cheer his Familiar on, but he had opted not to use that phrase.
Because Asley understood it well…
[It’s not gonna work on someone who’s already doing their best, that’s why…]
Pochi looked up at Seki’teigyu, the body of which was four to five times her size.
“Nice to meet you!”
Pochi strengthened her gaze, as if to glare at the Ox.
The only reaction she got was a rough snort.
But once she heard that, Pochi turned to her Master, her eyes sparkling.
“Master, Master! I wanna try doing that, too!”
“Shut up! You don’t have anywhere near enough dignity!”
“But I do, sir! My dignity is higher than the heavens! And lower than the heavens!”
“Then that’s nothing! They cancel each other out, damn it!”
“Hey, no interruptions!”
The referee stopped Asley before he went on a long tangent.
Pochi and Seki’teigyu went back to staring at each other.
The commotion from the audience gradually died down, the crowd holding their breath in anticipation for this Familiar Chalice’s final round.
And a moment later, as if he had been waiting for that silence, the referee shouted,
[What do you think you are, a monkey!]
Asley thought to himself upon hearing the noise Pochi’s made when she gigantified.
He considered calling her out on it, but then he was stunned by the earth-shaking scream from the giant Ox.
Two earthen auras blew out from the Crimson King Ox’s body – one from the activation of Fortify Strength, and the other from Fortify Resilience.
In the meantime, Pochi leaped backward and activated Flight.
The OX, the size of which was larger than even Pochi’s full gigantification, charged at her.
Pochi ate the hit head-on, and was blown further back.
She flipped in mid-air and landed on the Colosseum wall, but was then met with another terrifying sight.
[This can’t be-! It hasn’t lost any momentum…!]
Pochi avoided a direct hit in the nick of time, but the Crimson King Ox’s horn did manage to graze her neck, causing her to bleed a little.
Seki’teigyu hit the wall, sending off a tremendous impact
“You all right, Shiro!”
“This is just a scratch, sir! A REALLY big one! Hmph!”
Pochi proceeded to activate Blinding Speed, emitting a blue aura in the process.
“Stop joking around! Now’s your chance – cast a slow magic spell while you can!”
“Re, Re, Re, O-re! Speed Up!”
Pochi’s first priority in self-enhancement effects was speed.
As long as she could do that, she could then concentrate on strengthening herself more while escaping from Seki’teigyu… or so she thought.
Seki’teigyu should have been stuck in the wall as a result of its charge, but it took no time at all to get off – it charged straight at Pochi again.
“That wasn’t its top speed!”
The Ox swung its horns up.
This time, Pochi leaped forward, running on the Ox’s back and heading for its tail.
But then she realized…
[Could this be… a trap]
The tail she was going for proceeded to repeatedly beat her like a whip.
Pochi shut her eyes to try and avoid some damage, but still took a heavy hit on her right eye.
That also caused her to reflexively activate Fortify Resilience, resulting in her body becoming tougher but also slightly stiffer.
[Oh no… Looks like this was a trap, too.]
Pochi, with a troubled look on her face, realized that the Seki’teigyu was not done attacking just yet.
Once the tail attack started slowing down, Pochi charged forward and kicked the Ox’s back.
It was now that she noticed that its back half was lifting up slightly.
[Kick incoming… now!]
And as Pochi guesses, the Ox’s hind legs launched up, aiming at Pochi’s abdomen.
Unable to go on the offensive, Pochi started thinking about how to avoid this attack… but then she heard her Master’s command,
“Parry it, Shiro!”
Pochi, instantly understand what Asley wanted, jumped onto the Ox’s hind legs and stood on it with her front paws.
“Yeeeah! Nailed it!”
Then she did a forward somersault off, rousing up the audience’s excitement in the process.
“That was amazing! I couldn’t tell what even happened at all!”
From the honored guests’ seats, Bright exclaimed his admiration for the spectacle, while Ferris was at a loss for words.
I’d thought Seki’teigyu would have the advantage, but young Shiro is dealing damage consistently.”
“She ran on the Ox’s back, scratching it with her claws in the process… Now they might stand a chance after all, but only if they don’t make a single wrong move – both her and Sir Poer’s direction.”
Polco and June analyzed the battle situation as their eyes fixated on the out-of-breath Pochi.
“Whew… whew… can’t let my guard- DOWN!”
Seki’teigyu continued to attack Pochi, not giving her the time to even catch her breath.
[Seki’teigyu is fighting without Lylia’s direction, but this is a Heavenly Beast we’re talking about… And it’s not hard just because it’s a skilled fighter, either.
It’s trying to prevent Pochi from using magic and special techniques – it knows that her using them will decrease its chances of winning.
Pochi… she’s got a pretty deep wound on her neck.
The Ox, on the other hand, now has quite a few injuries on its back thanks to Pochi’s claws.
Attacking it head-on will be difficult, not to mention how devastating its counter-attacks can be.
The sides aren’t good, either, since its movements are too versatile.
Hopping away and using a recovery spell is also out of the question.
All in all, Pochi has the disadvantage here because of her neck wound, but Seki’teigyu is also slowing down… Now, what will you do, Pochi!]
The audience watched as the fight raged on with either side backing down.
At one point, Pochi grinned mischievously, and pulled off an unexpected move.
…She charged at Seki’teigyu head-on.
“What the-! What do you think you’re doing, Shiro!”
Asley shouted out in concern, while Seki’teigyu lowered its head, seeing a good opportunity to intercept Pochi.
Lylia, having silently been watching the fight all this time, saw Pochi’s gigantified body disappear.
The same went for Asley – he could not tell what had just happened.
The only ones who saw through Pochi’s plan were Polco and June, in their honored guests’ seating area above the rest of the audience.
Seki’teigyu was sure that, right before the anticipated impact, Pochi had been right before its eyes.
However, its greatest weapon, his horns, pierced the air as if they had slipped right through Pochi’s body.
Seki’teigyu had not lost sight of Pochi, as had Polco and June.
All three of them had been following Pochi quite closely.
The spot where Pochi had disappeared was under the Ox’s lowered head.
It was as if Pocchi had disappeared into thin air.
In fact, she had not gone anywhere, but shrunk down with a momentary disengagement of her gigantification.
And now that she got under the Ox’s body, she gigantified herself once again.
The Ox’s front legs slowly rose into the air.
Because of Pochi’s gigantification, both her and Seki’teigyu were now standing on just their hind legs.
“GAWR! Hehehe… how’s that! Now I know your blind spot!”
Pochi had managed to pull the move off despite being the smaller creature.
What she aimed to do now was to bite the Ox’s neck as they both stood up.
Seki’teigyu tried to pull itself away, but Pochi refused to let go, digging her claws into its shoulders.
Seki’teigyu did not give up just yet, however.
It flailed its front legs, striking Pochi’s face and body.
[It’s just like wild beasts fighting… Well, these are Heavenly Beasts, I guess…]
On one side, the black wolf Pochi that had obtained the abilities of a Violet Phoenix.
On the other, the gigantic, deep crimson King Ox.
They were clashing against each other, both aiming to take the other’s life.
Asley was stunned, and the crowd was understandably speechless.
The scuffle of just two creatures caused dust clouds to erupt in the Colosseum venue.
At one point, Asley suddenly heard an ominous sound.
[…What It’s not from those two.
And I can feel the ground… shaking]
The next one to realize it was Polco.
“What’s this sound…”
“What in the world…”
…And then June, prompting her to mutter to herself.
And following that was…
…Lylia, breaking the silence with her declaration.
The result of the round could have gone either way, but she tossed out the possibility of her side’s victory without a second thought.
While the referee was speechless, Lylia stomped on the ground, sending off a shockwave that reached even Asley.
The next thing Asley saw was Lylia standing in front of the arena gate.
For a moment, he was confused as to what she was up to.
“You’re hearing this as well, aren’t you”
“Hearing… you mean this eerie noise”
“That’s right – very few know of its significance, but this sound signifies the threads of life themselves.”
“What are you talking about-”
Not making sense of Lylia’s words, Asley’s attention was then taken by the voice of another one of his friends in this era.
“Sir Poer! Head outside of Regalia immediately!”
“W-what’s the matter, Master Polco!”
“They… they are approaching!”
Asley could tell that Polco was dead serious.
Anxiety, concern, and fear crept into his mind.
He turned around and looked at the green-haired Elf Lylia.
And then Polco, not giving him the time to mentally prepare himself, proceeded to state the real situation outright,
“Be ready – they’re coming… the Devil King’s army is coming!”