V2 Chapter 107: Neither Seeing the Leaf nor the Flower

The plant known as the “Red Spider Lily” has a peculiar characteristic.

Usually, plants have a growth cycle that starts from seeds sprouting, leaves flourishing, flowers blooming, and finally, fruits growing.

Of course, not all plants follow this sequence; some have different cycles. Yet, the Red Spider Lily was known for having an even more exceptional cycle.

Its unique feature is that “the flower blooms before the leaves flourish, and the leaves grow after the petals fall.” The flower never sees the leaves, and the leaves never see the flower—hence, it is alternatively called “Neither Seeing the Leaf nor the Flower.”

Ursula’s Anima, the Thunder Flower, is the embodiment of the Red Spider Lily. Naturally, her Void Armor was heavily influenced by the nature of this plant.

Typically, plants grow leaves to accumulate nutrients through photosynthesis. These stored nutrients then allow the flowers to bloom and the fruits to grow.

However, the Red Spider Lily reverses this order. The “result of the flower blooming” comes before the “cause of accumulating nutrients through leaves.”

This unique growth method was transmuted into Ursula’s cutting technique through her Void Armor.

Specifically, the “result of being cut by the blade” occurs before the “cause of swinging the blade,” an inverted sword technique called Reversary. That was the true nature of Ursula’s Void Armor.

Once unleashed, this sure-hit technique that ignores the enemy’s defense wasn’t something that could be used without any constraints, as Utsurui surmised.

The cost of using the Void Armor was the user’s blood. True to the folklore that the Thunder Flower blooms by sucking the blood of the dead, it releases its spectral slashes by consuming the host’s blood.

The amount of blood the Thunder Flower requires exceeds 20% of the total blood volume in the body, a level near lethal for humans.

Even if they are warriors of the Green Woods, they are still human. Losing such a large amount of blood in a short time leads to death. If Ursula uses her Void Armor even once, she would be at best half-dead or might even lose her life on the spot. Even if she survives, continuing to fight would be difficult, and using it a second time would certainly result in death.

For Ursula, the Void Armor is indeed her last resort in the most literal sense.

Furthermore, there are limitations on the range, power, and precision of the slashes, which was why Ursula took Utsurui’s Holy Devouring on herself. With Ursula’s current abilities, the effective range of the Void Armor is barely two sword lengths. To surely capture her enemy, she had to draw him as close as possible.

The desperate slash she released, ready for a mutual kill, indeed caught her father’s murderer and deeply cut him.

—However, that was all. It didn’t take his life.

Blood spills from Ursula’s mouth with a cough.

In her line of sight, the swordfighter with a demon mask was slowly approaching her. His footsteps were heavy, indicating that she had inflicted significant damage, yet it was not fatal.

Ursula clenches her teeth. “If this encounter had happened just two or three years later, I could have pierced his heart directly,” she thinks bitterly. Unfortunately, with her current abilities, such precision is unattainable.

Even as she stood there, the enemy continued to close the distance.

It seemed he was cautious of Ursula’s next attack, his steps dreadfully deliberate. Yet Ursula had no energy left to take advantage of this. Her vision was foggy, as if she were in a mist; her body felt as if it had been burdened with plate armor, and she experienced recurring, agonizing pain in her left shoulder as if a burning iron stake had been driven through it. She was barely able to stand, let alone let go of her Soul Equipment.

Ursula stood in silence. Judging by her blood-drained face and her slight unsteadiness, it appeared that her enemy also realized she had lost her combat ability.

Seizing the opportunity—or perhaps wanting to ask her something while she was still able to speak—the demonic-faced swordsman spoke for the first time.

“A magnificent strike, young flag-bearer. My name is Utsurui Utsumi. You may also introduce yourself. If there is something you wish to say, I will listen.”

There was not the slightest tremor in his voice. Despite the significant injuries he must have sustained, it was difficult to tell from his tone alone.

Truly astounding courage. Between his admirable swordsmanship and the person Ursula usually was, she would have shown at least some respect, even to an enemy.

But the man before her was her father’s murderer. Ursula was naturally inclined to ignore his query, but suddenly found herself compelled to speak.

“…Ursula Utgarza. Daughter of Ulrich Utgarza, whom you killed.”

Her response clearly took her opponent by surprise. Utsurui Utsumi’s words faltered, and an indescribable sense of confusion emanated from behind his demonic face.

After a moment, he spoke, his voice tinged with an odd flatness.

“I see. So you are the child from that time. If you’ve devoted long years to mastering the sword for the sake of revenge, then your ability to counter my strikes makes sense.”

“You admit that you are the enemy?”

“I do. Consider me your enemy and continue to pursue my trail. This is the least I can offer you, who have devoted your life to revenge.”

Upon hearing this, Ursula felt an unease about his words, but Utsurui Utsumi did not elaborate further.

In the next instant, he moved, rendering further discussion irrelevant.

His step and swing were nearly simultaneous. Ursula’s blood-soaked blade filled her vision, and an unavoidable sense of impending death gripped her entire being.

In the moment it took to blink, she was sure her head would be severed from her body. She tried to resist, but her body wouldn’t move an inch.

—Then let me at least not avert my eyes. I will continue to glare at the face of my enemy until the very end.

Ursula resolved to do so and did just that.

And so, she didn’t miss it—the moment a fellow student clad in black broke between her and Utsurui Utsumi.

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