[4] I Like a Challenge
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Clare stared into the white eyes of the ice giant, taking the creature's words in as snow fluttered about her. Once again, she found herself annoyed at the lack of knowledge the situation placed her in. She knew not whether or not the beast would outright attack them, nor what his resting place meant, but still. . .she was Claire Hill, and so answered its words in kind without a shake to her own.

"I do have a tongue and so doubt we've grown backward," She said, "To answer your question, however, my name is Claire hill."

At her side, the vampire nodded. "Alicia Fraught."

"Hmm."

The deep hum of the creature shook the air. Then it crouched, coming down to half his height, yet still towering over the two girls.

"Have you come for my heart?" Ymir asked, speaking through squinted eyes, curiosity abounding its tone.

It did not sound all that bothered at the thought that someone would want to kill him for his heart. And so, this caused Claire to raise a brow.

"You seem awfully nonchalant about it."

It smiled, showing crystal teeth as blue as ice.

"Many have come to this realm for that very purpose before. Yet none have succeeded," He said, "Do not tell me you two believe you can duel me?"

Claire shrugged.

"It's worth a try."

However, realistically, she doubted they could win. He was an Ice Giant most likely immune to her abilities, and his stats far surpassed Alicia's.

Yet, Claire recognized this was an Iseikai.

'If I know anything about isekai, it's that a trial is not unbeatable and old-man-mentors always twist words into riddles. That being the case, with how nonchalant he is, either he is a monk or. . .'Ymir's Heart' is probably not a literal item.' She thought. 'If that's the case, then killing him might not be the requirement to acquire it.'

So, she asked, "What is this heart of yours, anyhow? It can't simply be your actual heart, can it?"

"Oh?" It raised a brow. "You're quite intelligent."

Its massive body shuddered as it raised back into the air. As it spoke, the air chilled around it, freezing even below the temperature of the land.

"Indeed. My heart is my son, Asta. Beat me, prove your worth, and I'll give him to you."

Claire frowned as the memory of the spineless snowball filled her mind. A snowball—with a soul reminiscent of a cute, little boy—whose size changed with its confidence. Now that she thought about it. . .she never did glance at its status screen. At that time, she had been too busy bullying it.

'Of course. . .' She also grimaced. 'Igris's warning was a diversion. . .'

There was never a way to get Asta before meeting the Ice King. It simply wasn't possible. In the end, they would have to kill the creature one way or the other. Either that, or they would have ran, fated to wander the land of ice until—if they were normal—they froze to death.

"Fight me, win, and you may take my heart," Ymir repeated again. This time, elaborating. "Only the worthy may have my son. Yet, I know very few able to battle me. . .I will allow one attack of yours first."

"Oh?" Claire raised a brow. "You're thoughtful."

However, both Alicia and Claire were people who did not mind a challenge. The Ice Queen doubted they could win one on one but. . .looking left at the already elated expression of her partner, whose visible crimson eye seemed to shine with a fever for battle, she smiled.

Claire nodded, "Go all out, why don't you?"

"Mhmm."

Ymir looked down as Alicia steadily walked forward, black-boot covered feet sinking into the snow. The ice king took in a breath, then released it as frost flowed out and snow spun about the realm.

"You may attack me now," It said, white eyes focused. "I advice you to make it count, vampire."

The vampire in question shook her head.

"There's no need." Alice stepped forward as the red of blood overflowed her fist. "Fight me normally."

She grinned.

"I like a challenging fight."

Ymir looked shocked for a moment.

Then laughed as its right arm raised.

"Very well." Snow fluttered about its fist. "I'll fight to my whim."

Claire watched with folded arms.

'This is a boss battle. . .isn't it?'

It took a step forward and the ground shook, rumbling due to its weight.

Alicia ran across snow, effortlessly as if they did not exist, and it glanced down at her.

Then.

"I hope you survive, girl."

It punched, breaking the air as the vampire leaped, a red gauntlet upon her right fist.

Their fists collided as a brilliant explosion of crimson burned the air and snow flashed against the sky.

Ymir's lips opened.

"Frost," It spoke, ice covering its left fist as it smashed forward again.

Seeing a fist the size of a carriage headed for her body as if it were a missile, Alicia could not help a widening grin. She really could go all out with an opponent like this. There was nothing better.

"<Death's Glare>"

The frozen-punch of the beast stopped and the giant staggered, stunned and suddenly steeled. Fluttering into a bat, Alicia dodged and rose into the sky as red revolved around her entire body.

She flipped within the air, back to form. Blood hardening into a spear around her. Devouring her figure within.

The next moment, she dived down.

The weapon, a part of her, spun in the air—like a drill, it blurred crimson as it descended the cloudy sky. Claire whistled, watching the air break apart and the destructive thing fall upon the body of the ice king.

'So this is what going all-out means to her? . . I have a dangerous partner.'

A giant roared, breaking apart a world of death as ice flowed about its body like liquid.

An explosion shattered the air. Bright as if a miniature sun had become a nuke.

Blood splashed upon the world of white.

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