The Swordmaster and the New God
I found myself standing in a field of grass. I had been falling, and then I was here. The field went on for as far as my eyes could see. I tried to think back. I couldn’t tell how long I had been falling. It could have been days, years. I could have been falling for five minutes. Whatever the time frame, I had suddenly stopped.
“Kazuma, you have any idea what is going on?” Austin was standing beside me, looking just as disoriented.
“No. we can’t exactly say that was a normal isekai summon,” I said.
“Yeah. I wonder what ended up happening to Lillith?”
“I’m sure she is fine. Lilith is an angel, after all. I bet her comrades came in to save her just as we left.” I looked out into the vast open field when my mind flashed back to the meeting. “Status,” I said it out loud instead of thinking in my mind as instructed by Lillith, but the screen still came up as it had before. My class and skills, which were both empty before, had text beside them. Also, a level had appeared on my screen
Strength:1042 Speed:867 Stamina:905 Intelligence:737 Magic:1902 Luck:100,690
Skills: Creation, Destruction, Appraisal, Inventory
“Hey, Austin, open your stat screen.”
“Already on it.” Austin was seemingly staring at nothing, so his screen was probably open before I said anything. “What skills do you have Kazuma?”
“Creation, destruction, appraisal, and inventory. I know, my skills fit me well.”
“You think Mr. Protagonist?”
“Shut up. Anyway, what skills do you have?”
“Sword Mastery, Weapon Profensicy, Critical Attacker, Speed Demon. Perfect for the overpowered side character.”
“Doesn’t the overpowered side character beat the protagonist in the beginning?” I asked.
“Yeah. Are you trying to say you have a chance against me? You may have a strong class, but you know skills are not going to have much effect at level one. It's only strength and athleticism here.”
Crap, he had a point. Strength and athleticism were both things that Austin had in droves; I, however, was average in both. I would just have to rely on my skills. “You’re on.”
We stood twenty feet apart in the grassy plain, with swords in hand. I had created one for both of us using my creation skill, which used up almost all my mana. Only nine mana points were left, but that number seemed to be going up one point per minute.
“That skill is still stupidly unfair. I guess you truly are Kirito now. All you need is your harem, and you're the spitting image of him.” said Austin.
“You’re saying that while holding the pointy stick I gave you. You are also saying that while I’m holding a pointy stick.”
“Yeah, well my stick’s pointier than yours. I am the best stick swinger here, so my sword should be better than yours just by being in my hands.”
“Yeah, you believe that. You Americans have such wild fantasies.” I said
“You just don’t understand. In America, because we're truly free, we can have any opinion we want, even objectively wrong ones. I see the American spirit in you right now.”
“Enough talk, let’s fight,” I said.
“Sure. The faster I beat you, the more pegs I can knock you down. This is our Isekai.”
“Our? I thought you stood for freedom. Sound pretty communist to me.”
Austin smiled and then suddenly charged at me. His blade swung an arc right in front of me, making me jump back. I could feel the air part as the blade swung. I countered by sticking my hand out towards his sword. My mana was high enough to use destruction now, all that stalling and been worth it. I activated the skill like I did any other. ‘Destruction.’ Nothing happened. I used it again and again to no avail. When I used it on a blade of grass earlier, the grass had disintegrated instantly, only needing twelve mana. Did destruction take more mana the bigger the item? That would mean I would have to fight Austin. Crap.
Austin kept pushing me back while going on the offensive. He didn’t look necessarily good with the sword, but he swung it faster than I could block. If I could get on the offensive, I would have a chance. Austin was just too fast, however. There were no openings I could take.
The wind pushed me forward, making my hair stand up, and making retreating a lot harder. I looked behind me and saw an opportunity. A dirt road was behind us. There I could trip Austin up. We reached the road, and I created a small mound of dirt below my feet. It took the rest of my mana, so if this didn’t work, I was screwed.
He tripped over it as I stopped backing up. My plan had worked perfectly. Thinking back on it, I could have done it at any time, but a win was a win. I felt bad using such an underhanded tactic, but it was the only chance I had.
I swung the flat of my blade toward him when his sword started to glow a dull pink. He rolled back to avoid my swing and dashed toward me faster than I could react. His sword flashed through the air and my sword dropped to the ground as I got pushed down into the dirt. I had lost.
“Who’s Kirito again?” I asked Austin.
“Sadly, you still are. Unlike him, I actually have flaws. But, hey, at least that would make me a well written character.” He held out his hand and pulled me up.
“So what was that anyway?”
“Sword Mastery. Apparently, it's not a passive skill. The second I started falling, I activated it and the rest is history. I guess I have the sharper sword after all.”
Before I could respond, a scream rang out. Austin started running toward it before I even had a chance to move a muscle. I ran after him until we reached the source of the scream.
A wagon was turned over in the middle of the road; its supplies scattered everywhere. Surrounding the wagon were several tall green humanoid creatures and a man in the center of them trying desperately to fend them off. Austin was snickering at the scene, not doing anything as I caught up to where he was standing. “Are you actually kidding me?”
“What? Why are we not saving him?”
“Have you read a freaking light novel, Kazuma? This is the scene where the newly summoned hero saves the merchant who helps them to the nearest town.”
Austin had a point. It seemed like almost every isekai light novel that came out recently had almost the exact same plot with a random hook that barely changed the story in the slightest. Maybe originality was dead after all.
“It’s in every freaking light novel ever because apparently creativity isn’t a thing anymore and plagiarism is a funny joke.”
“Ok, so let’s go save the guy. Finding a town sounds good to me. Sleeping out here doesn’t sound like fun to me.”
“Really? We Americans are real men. We can sleep outdoors with a single stick of wood, our own grit, and a McDonalds and be perfectly fine.”
“You Americans certainly are special.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Austin smiled. “Anyway, before we go, want to make a bet?”
“About what? He really looks in trouble down there.” I said.
“If I’m right about what happens after we win, then you give me a hundred bucks. If I’m wrong, then I'll give you a hundred. Deal?”
I had an idea. “How about I give you a hundred yen if you’re wrong. Exchange currencies.”
“You know I’m crap with converting Yen. Is that a comparable amount?”
“Somewhat, now let’s get down there. He looks to be in trouble.”
Austin looked incredibly happy as he turned and ran towards the cart, thinking he had a free hundred bucks waiting for him, not that we could use earth money here. However, wasting the hundred yen was worth it to see the expression on his face.
I followed him with my sword out as I remembered that I had the appraisal skill. ‘Appraisal!' screens popped up near all the green monsters with the word ‘green orc’ on them. I was hoping it would show stats or something more useful, but at least we knew what to call the monsters.
Austin ran forward and his sword turned the same shade of pink as it did when I fought him. The sword ran through orc after orc. Some of the monsters had weapons of their own, but Austin’s sword was simply longer. He outreached their sword and impaled them wherever he wanted.
I ran forward on the other side of the cart. I couldn’t let Austin do everything. I was the one who did small favors for people. I needed to be able to get large tasks done too. Otherwise, I couldn’t make a difference here. I had known that since we fell in the white void.
I was out of mana, so my sword was all I had. I went around the nearest orc I could see, not letting it get a good view. The orcs looked incredibly strong but slow and clumsy as a result of its size. Not to mention the smell. It was like being in a cow pen that hadn’t been cleaned in years. As it spun in circles, I slashed at its legs. Blood poured out and spilled all over me, but I didn’t notice. My mind was in the heat of the battle.
The orc fell over and I climbed on top of it, stabbing my sword through its heart. It made a squeal, then laid still as its life left its body. I had killed it. I felt a mix of emotions. On one hand, I was happy. I had proven to myself that I could accomplish something big. I hadn’t hesitated too long and ran in before it was too late. But, on the other hand, I had just taken a life. Sure it was not human, but still humanoid. Most light novels made it feel like the easiest thing in the world to kill something. It was not. Austin had hunted a little back in America, so death by one's hand was probably easier to face for him.
The weirdest thing was that out of all the emotions running through my head, fear wasn’t one of them. In fact, I hadn’t been afraid since I opened my status window in front of Lillith.
I climbed off of the dead orc to go kill another one. The only problem was that they were all already dead. Austin had killed every other one in the time it took me to kill one.
The man walked over to us from the cart, where he had been hiding after we arrived. “Thank you so much! I am the merchant Giovanni. I was transporting my wares to the nearby city of Ronoe, when those green orcs attacked me out of nowhere. Whatever could I do to thank you?”
“Oh no, it was nothing,” I said. I was going to lose a hundred yen, wasn’t I?
“No, I have to do something. I know. How about you two travel to Ronoe with me? There I will reward you with some gold from my shop, and I'll let you keep the green orcs too.” Geovanni said.
I sighed as I pulled a hundred yen coin out of my pocket and tossed it to Austin, then turned back to the merchant. “We’ll do that. Giovanni. Just give us a few minutes."
I walked to where Austin was standing with a smile on his face. “You scammer. This coin is worth a dollar. In America, we have this thing called integrity.”
“Please, you’ve done way worse to me than this. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about when I loaned you some yen and you paid me back in quarters, saying one cent equaled a hundred yen.”
“That was like forever ago dude!”
“That was two months ago.”
“Whatever. How are we going to move these bodies? I don’t think they will all fit on the wagon.” Austin asked.
“I think I have a solution to that.” I walked over to the nearest corpse and activated my other skill, inventory. A rift in space-time appeared and pulled the corpse of the orc inside it. I went from orc to orc doing the same thing until the road was completely clear.
“Says the person who can kill an orc with a snap of their fingers. Let’s get going.”
“Sure Mr. isekai protagonist, whatever you say.” Austin sighed as he spoke.
After Geovanni had finished putting all the cargo he could salvage on his wagon, we headed off down the road towards Ronoe, where our adventure in the new world, Enfer, would truly start.