Chore Granting Sorcerer Volume 1 Chapter 8 part 2

“[Momentary Enhancement – Twentyfold]”

So slow. The usual density increased tenfold. I could carve as many as I wanted.

I could feel the condition of my whole body as if holding it in my hand. I grasped the optimal ways to move and the best timing.

I was aware of each muscle fiber’s motion in increments of one-thousandth of a second. If I could continuously link enhancement after enhancement, I would use up almost no magic power.

Ah, it’s like my body and brain have been separated. The process of my body executing what my head thinks has become very clear. My ideals are distinct. It’s just the task of synchronizing the timing continuously. The fact that failing would snap my limbs like twigs feels irrelevant.

If my brain moves faster, my directly connected optic nerve moves faster too. My hearing becomes hypersensitive, able to pick up staggeringly more information. I record all the visual data, predict the movements, flickering. Glittering bright.

The tentacles close in on me seamlessly from all directions.

First I slash one tentacle with my longsword, opening a momentary escape route, and jump diagonally to the right. Of course a follow-up attack is coming, so this time, still midair, I use the recoil of my right leg to kill the next one. It’s a reckless maneuver, but as long as I harden just the bones and muscles for an instant when the load on them peaks, I won’t get hurt. My sudden midair stop tricks the tentacles into passing me by.

A tentacle leisurely swinging by my side is like an invitation to use it as a stepping stone. No, the position’s a little tricky. But it could work. I spread my hips until my right knee presses against my ribs, then kick off strongly from there. Normally it’d dislocate the joint, but raising the ligaments’ elasticity for just a split second solves that.

And I dove into the gap between tentacles. I land on a conveniently placed tentacle to avoid the water. All the attack-capable ends are behind me. I almost tip forward, but instead I use the momentum to tightrope walk forward.

“Haha!”

Yes! I slipped through that super, super low probability!

How many hundred thousand to one miracles have I lined up already? I’ve lost count. But I’m still going to die, still going to die. If I’m off by even 0.001 seconds, misjudge even one thing, the instant my bones snap from the tentacles’ beatdown will be the end. I have to keep crossing between tentacles without letting them grab me in the water, or it’s over.

Keep evading. Keep jumping. My speed is higher. The moment I fall behind, I die.

What’s next? What’s your next move? More tentacles?

I started to brace myself, but the Hierarch’s actions were different. I saw the color of magic power generating something on its skin surface.

It’s water blades. Using those alongside the tentacles? What is that?

There’s definitely clear intent. He must have judged I couldn’t be captured with just the tentacles. So these must be pretty fast.

The aim is set. The water blades fired the next instant. Yep, fast. And the blade span is considerable. And they’re not fired horizontally, but rotating diagonally on an awkward angle as they launch.

No way to dodge. But a miracle could let me avoid them.

So I avoided them. Did everything perfectly. I grasped the rotation visually, parried near my neck with my longsword, redirected them just a little to use them to intercept the tentacles I anticipated behind me. I couldn’t pull this off a second time if I tried.

There was a sound, no, vibration behind me. Looks like my prediction was accurate.

“I see it! I see it! Haha!”

Before I realized, I had closed in on the Hierarch’s flank. Huge. Like a wall. Even if I damaged it some, a boy with a shovel trying to dig into a mountain would make as much difference.

But I sensed odd movements there too. At the same time, I recalled Ms. Camilla’s [Giant Slayer] being dodged.

This guy’s gonna jump.

If he goes airborne, that’s nothing but an opening.

My thoughts make a leap. The train of my thinking hops around, and I can’t even feel the separation between consciousness and intellect anymore. It’s like my brain is tossing questions to itself.

The Hierarch blew water sideways and jumped up. I immediately slipped underneath. Is this his foot? For a slug, would you call it the ventral foot?

I slash upward. I dig in and slash over and over, cutting away the bothersome flesh. While blowing open the wall, I observe the interior.

It’s half-transparent, but I can’t see through the whole thing. Or is the position different from outside? I see, so it moves around. How foolish to be able to change the vital point’s location.

No time left. Gotta escape safely. My body is flung into the air.

I want to get one hit in. While the Hierarch’s body still has a hole, I threw a knife at the black mist.

Clank.

That’s the sound it made. Then I landed in the water right after the Hierarch – or rather, splashed down.

Finally I saw the Hierarch react to my attack. The attacks stopped, and it writhed around much more extremely than before. Probably in pain. Of course – it just had a person-sized hole punctured in its body mid-jump. There’s no way it can comprehend this. I mean, I’m amazed I pulled that off myself.

Wow. It’s all going as imagined. I’m executing everything that flashed through my mind in an instant.

I’m getting hotter. Much hotter. But my head is calm. No, excited?

“…Heehee.”

A grin leaked out.

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I’m getting carried away. No, that’s wrong. Right now, the lives of [Night Dragonflies]’s everyone are riding on my shoulders. If I can’t buy time here, someone might die. Don’t deviate from the role you determined. I don’t have time to enjoy this. And those round underlings are still unharmed, so–

–Enjoy?

Was I enjoying this?

Once I become aware of it, I can’t stop. I learn the thrill of brushing against death. My tingling skin had felt pleasant. The greater the looming danger, the more fun, fun, fun it was. I must have had a premonition of this scenery. I had always, always wanted to dive right in here. I’d been waiting forever for a moment like this.

Hey, am I really alive right now?

I noticed the Hierarch’s movements change. I thought another tentacle attack was coming, but no. He simultaneously extended tentacles all around himself and waved them around his body.

That’s defense. Certainly I can’t get close, but what meaning is there in the likes of me defending against me?

I soon grasped his intent. The round underlings were gathering around the Hierarch.

And they began floating.

“Huh?”

Drifting lightly upward. They rose fairly high and started circling above me like clouds. The individual consciousness they seemed to have before was gone, giving the impression they were being manipulated.

What is that, some kind of magic? You can’t just call anything magic and have it work.

The main Hierarch body dropped its defense.

The appearance of the Hierarch had changed. It seemed slightly larger? And its tentacles had grown – two short ones and another pair that were hard to see had been added. This was probably its true form.

This way, it wasn’t a slug or a snail, but still close to a sea cow, I guess.

In any case, this was a change of form. Hierarchs sometimes have such transformations hidden away as a trump card when they are backed into a corner. The Hierarch in the previous layer had been the same.

In other words, I had backed them into a corner.

“So it’s round two, huh?”

What would happen now? I didn’t know the enemy’s hand. But it had definitely become much stronger.

I’d have to raise my game too.

The moment the Chief was defeated, I heard the sound of a heart breaking.

Some executive candidate I was. I’d gotten cocky. I wanted to be able to save everyone.

I was powerless. I couldn’t even join in the Chief’s fight, and on top of that, I fell into despair over the outcome.

–Abel! Defend us!

When Mr Vim called to me, I finally moved. With him, I could concentrate on protecting the Chief. Thanks to his enhancement, I was able to perform an incredible defence. I might even have felt happy to be of some use in our final moments.

But in the next instant, he slipped past my side and confronted the Hierarch.

What I saw was a much smaller, more frail-looking back, bent with insecurity. Compared to the might of the enemy, he was absurdly out of place.

Yet that made him different. Along with the Hierarch, all eyes were drawn to him as an incongruity.

And now he was driving the Hierarch into a corner.

It was a ridiculous story, but I was surprised that I felt no surprise.

There was a clear gap. I didn’t feel frustrated, because the difference was too great – rather, I felt almost reassured. Different from my envy of the boss, somehow just different – a goal? No, the vector was too different to be a target.

I see.

That was hope.

Gratitude and debt to the one who pulled me back from despair.

When I thought of that, it sank in for me. What was probably an unremarkable exchange in the eyes of Mr Vim and the others would be a pivotal moment for me, I felt.

For now, I had to survive. I endured the rain of blows he parried, wounded all over.


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