V2 Chapter 86: Clash of the Dragon and Tiger

As the name of the Anima, a mythical creature called Kyuuki, escaped Doga’s lips, his body began to transform rapidly.

His muscular frame remained, but black, gold, and white beast fur began to cover the Kijin’s skin in a striped pattern. His wide-open eyes shone like topaz, glowing brilliantly, and from his cheeks emerged fangs that could not belong to a human.

Seeing his appearance, which closely resembled a tiger, memories from the past returned to me.

Humans transformed into beasts by curses or diseases are called Weretigers or Werewolves. I had fought a Werewolf shortly after mastering my Soul equipment.

The Werewolf I faced back then had mostly lost its human reasoning, nothing more than a bloodthirsty beast drooling at the mouth.

In comparison, the figure of Doga in front of me seemed almost divine. Types of Soul equipment that manifest power physically are called mutant types, and Doga seemed to fit this category.

What was notable was that the Kei, which had explosively expanded as he brought out his Soul equipment, was still perfectly controlled. Perhaps as proof of this, the surroundings of Doga were astonishingly quiet even after manifesting his Soul equipment.

The ground wasn’t cracking, nor was there a sudden gust of wind, nor was the air creaking. Yet, the pressure of the Kei was so finely honed that it created a physical sense of oppression.

Whether the chill that ran down my spine was due to excitement or fear, I couldn’t determine before Doga moved.


Without even a moment’s pause, the Kijin’s massive body closed in on me. The sound of his feet hitting the ground was light like a deer running through the fields, but the force of his charge was like that of an elephant.

Doga’s clenched right fist held no weapon, but it was clear that the gauntleted fist itself harbored a destructive power akin to a siege hammer.


I parried his cannonball-like straight punch with the blade of Soul Eater. The intense scraping sound, like steel against steel, scorched my ears, and an incredible shock attacked me through the Soul equipment.

Had I not braced my legs in that instant, I would probably be flying through the air parallel to the ground right now.

Doga and I faced each other at close range, engaging in an unusual clash between sword and fist.

Soul Eater’s blade could cut through steel and even adamant, a type of diamond. Despite clashing with that blade, Doga’s gauntlet remained unscathed. This fact meant that my attacks had not broken through Doga’s Kei shield.

I wanted to click my tongue, but honestly, that was the least of my concerns. Even with my entire body enhanced by Kei, the enemy’s strength still surpassed mine, and the heels I was digging in were screaming. This pressure was not inferior to the Demon god I fought on Demon Island.

The moment I thought that, I saw Doga’s left arm move at a blurring speed out of the corner of my eye. While maintaining the pressure of his right fist, he was going to strike my flank with his left. It was clear he was aiming to gouge it out.

If one were to take a punch imbued with ample Kei, it was clear as day that it wouldn’t end with mere agony. Thinking thus, I reflexively lowered my right elbow to block the enemy’s blow――or at least, I intended to block it.


I could hear the crackling sound as my right elbow’s joint shattered. A piercing pain shot through my head, and an involuntary groan of agony escaped my lips.

In a flash, I leaped back to put distance between myself and Doga, my face contorting as I looked at my right arm.

Both Doga and I were enhancing our bodies with Kei. There was no doubt that he was superior in handling Kei, but even so, I had the advantage in terms of the amount of Kei. Considering the difference in physical strength, I had judged that I could counter his attack, and I did feel that I had done so.

Despite that, Doga’s punch had broken through my defense. No, more accurately, it might have been said that it passed through. Even though I had stopped the attack itself, the shock wave it created had shattered the joint――it felt like that.

My right arm was dangling limply. My left hand still clutched the hilt of Soul Eater, but dealing with Doga’s ferocious attack with only one arm would be difficult. He must have thought the same, as he closed in, sensing an opportunity.

Noticing his movements, Claira let out a desperate cry.

“Lord Sora!”

Her voice was as pale as her face as she yelled. In response, I quickly said, “Don’t move!” This was directed not only at Claira but also at the silently moving Ursula.

While doing so, I healed my shattered right elbow with Soul Eater’s restoration, moving it once, twice to check its condition.

Seeing this, the tiger-faced Kijin, Doga, abruptly stopped his leap towards me. He must have been surprised to see me effortlessly move the elbow he thought he had definitively broken.

Doga’s brows furrowed deeply, and he fixed me with a piercing gaze.

“Without any spell or prayer to the gods, you heal a bone shattered into fragments by Kei Strike in an instant. Are you truly human?”

“I could say the same exact thing to you. What’s this Kei Strike? It slipped through my Kei defense and entered my body. It’s disgusting.”

My question wasn’t really meant to solicit an answer, but Doga replied earnestly.

“Kei Strike is a martial art also called Penetration Kei. By punching with a fist wrapped in Kei from close range, it destroys the enemy’s body through armor. The Kei struck becomes an invisible hammer that tears flesh, breaks bones, and crushes organs.”

“A fist wrapped in Kei, huh?”

I exhaled through my nose, pondering the meaning of his words.

I could wrap my fist in Kei, but if I were to punch Doga with it, it would be stopped by his thick Kei. That would be the end of it.

Just surrounding oneself with Kei is meaningless. Probably, the Kei must be given direction and released at the moment of the strike.

I’ve mentioned this several times, but Kei is the magic power of the individual, known as Od. From this, it can be inferred that Kei Strike is a physical attack magic that strikes from an ultra-close distance.

To achieve this, one must skillfully manipulate Kei. Such fine and precise control is impossible for me now, but Doga can probably do it. As I felt when he defended against the first strike, Doga’s technique for manipulating Kei is terrifyingly high.

Realizing the situation, I inadvertently clicked my tongue. In other words, no matter how much I slash at Doga with the Soul Eater, I can’t break his defense. On the other hand, Doga’s attack will ignore my defense and reach my body.

Of course, not just slashing but using Kei techniques properly might break the opponent’s defense. However, there’s no way to avoid being targeted when unleashing Kei techniques.

Even if the wounds heal through the power of the Soul Eater, it’s not like there’s no pain accompanying the injuries. It’s unbearable to have bones and joints shattered every time an attack is received.

Moreover, now that he knows about my healing ability, Doga will surely aim for a part that can’t recover. If I take a blow to the chest or head and have my heart or skull shattered, even the Soul Eater won’t be able to restore it.

In such a situation, the standard tactic is to keep a distance and fight so as not to get hit by his fists. But the Kijin before me is not an opponent to whom such a timid fighting style will work. Above all, I did not seek a formidable enemy to fight like that.

――Therefore, there is only one option for me.

Unconsciously, the corners of my mouth rise.

I won’t run away to avoid Kei Strike. On the contrary, I’ll initiate close combat and let him strike as much as he likes. If Kei Strike is a type of attack magic, it makes sense that he won’t be able to use it once his magic power is depleted.

I’ll just avoid fatal injuries and heal the rest. Of course, I won’t forget to strike with Kei techniques when there’s an opening. By forcing Doga to exhaust his Kei, I should be able to find an opportunity.

It’s a war of attrition. To take advantage of my own strength, which is the amount of Kei, this is the best way. I must endure the pain with determination.

Thinking about this, I step forward.

Seeing that, the tiger, who had been watching my every move until now, seemed to smile knowingly, as if it had guessed my intentions.


“Ho, you chose to clash.”

Looking at Sora, who stepped forward instead of backing away, Doga internally smiles, thinking, “Interesting.”

It was by no means a scoff. Although touted as the strongest Kijin by his brethren, Doga himself is still far from satisfied with his strength. The second son of the Nakayama royal family is only in his mid-twenties, and it’s too early for him to achieve wisdom or maturity.

For Doga, who is always aiming for higher heights, a foe who can withstand his techniques, who doesn’t falter or back away, and who confronts him head-on is valuable in itself.

Especially if the opponent is a strong warrior equal or above himself.

At this point, Doga’s balance of like and dislike for Sora tilted significantly in one direction.

Additionally, there were the words of his brother Azuma before the sortie. Doga certainly has not forgotten that Azuma had expectations for the unseen Sora.

Doga himself harbors deep mistrust towards humans and does not acknowledge the need for peace. More precisely, even if peace were to be concluded, he thinks that humans will surely break the covenant as soon as it benefits them, so he sees no point in making the effort to establish peace.

However, while thinking so, the words that Azuma uttered earlier in the western capital—that they must face humans with words and not with blades—still lingered in his heart.

“Am I hesitating?”

Doga asks himself.

Although Azuma said he has expectations for Sora, he did not command to take risks in capturing him alive during the battle. Therefore, killing Sora here would not go against his brother’s orders. If he were to report that he couldn’t capture Sora alive because of his fierce resistance, Azuma would surely believe Doga without a doubt.

That’s what he should do, someone whispers in his heart. Doga was aware that the deep whisper was his own voice.

He feels a premonition that something decisive would change if he lets his human opponent meet his brother. If he kills Sora here and now, that premonition will never become reality, and he is sure of it.

When he thought that far, Doga suddenly realized the true nature of the emotion within him. His eyes widen, and he lets out a low chuckle.

“Heh heh… I see, I’m not hesitating. I’m afraid.”

It’s not Sora’s power he fears. What he fears is the change that Sora would likely bring.

He does not feel contempt for the Kijin from Sora. The existence of the Kijin outside, who entrusted the bracelet, must have instilled a completely different value system.

It’s more than clear that Azuma would favor such a Sora. Perhaps, the encounter with Sora would further foster Azuma’s conciliatory thinking.

The problem arises from the resentment of other Kijin that this would cause. At this point, Azuma is the only one among the Kijin considering harmony with humans. Doga himself lent an ear only because it was Azuma’s words, but he could not definitively say that he would have no dissatisfaction if Azuma actually began moving towards harmony with humans.

Even Doga, who deals with Azuma on a daily basis, feels this way, so the feelings of the other subjects must be even stronger.

These grievances could lead to a change in the throne. And there would be no one else but Doga that those who are dissatisfied with Azuma would support.

Allowing Sora to meet his brother could lead to a conflict between himself and his brother. This premonition was what made Doga fearful.

Doga, who had recognized the true nature of the emotions that were confusing him, found it troublesome that he could not say, “Such a thing will never happen!”

He had no intention of opposing his brother, not even a speck. He had never once desired the throne. However, Doga’s true feelings were that he did not want to see his brother paying respect to humans, and this was something he could not wipe away.

He could accept coexistence if the humans were to kneel before his brother. But he could not bear humans treating his brother as an equal. Moreover, it was intolerable if the humans were to make his brother kneel.

If his brother were to accept these things for the sake of harmony, he might rise up to correct his brother – Doga, having thought this far, exhaled deeply from his nose as if overwhelmed by his confused thoughts.

The subtleties of being the younger brother just below the king and possessing a valor surpassing the king are difficult for others to understand. Even his younger brothers, third son Hakuro and youngest Kagari, would probably not understand Dogha’s true feelings.

This was not the first time he had thought of such things. There had been similar occasions, albeit few. At those times, Doga would fight until his spirit was exhausted, emptying both mind and body. This way, he wouldn’t have to think about unnecessary things.

Usually, his opponent would be some monster rampaging in the Nakayama territory, but now he had a perfect opponent right in front of him.

Dogha looked once again at the Sora in front of him.

His face, with the corners of his mouth pulled up wide, was filled with a wild fighting spirit, and the Kei welling up from within him was raging like a storm. His appearance reminded him of Kagari when serious, and he could feel the stirring of an unfathomable power.

Doga grinned like Sora and took a heavy step forward with a thud.

The relationship with humans, the pros and cons of harmony, whether or not to take Sora to his brother – he would put those thoughts aside for now. He could think about them after this battle. Now, he only needed to think about defeating the opponent before him.

Perhaps, he might find the answers in this battle – thinking this, Doga leaped at Sora.

This was the beginning of a fierce battle that would last for three days and three nights.

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