Chapter 12: Invasion

It was the gatekeeper of the Mitsurugi residence who first noticed the man.

The man slowly climbed the long staircase connecting Shuuto and the Mitsurugi residence, taking each step as if to confirm the sensation beneath his feet.

He was a towering figure, as if piercing the clouds. His head was wrapped in layers of cloth, and he wore a fearless smile around his mouth. As he boldly exposed his muscular body, the man approached step by step. The gatekeepers on the left and right guarding the gate couldn’t help but feel a sense of caution.

Protecting the residence of the Sword Saint and his family should not be a trivial task. Both gatekeepers were Warrior of the First Flag.

The minimum requirement to join the First Flag was to master the secrets of the Phantom Blade Style. In other words, these two were Soul Equipment users.

Nevertheless, they felt an overwhelming presence from the approaching man. They were intimidated by the fanaticism in his eyes, the sharpness of the canine teeth peeking from the corners of his lips, and the whirlpool of fighting spirit emanating from his entire body.

Of course, it was not permissible for a Warrior of the Phantom Blade Style to be intimidated by an unknown opponent. The gatekeeper mustered his strength and called out to question the man’s identity.

“Halt! I don’t recognize your face. What business do you have at this residence?”

“Business, you say?”

The man continued walking, laughing heartily as if he was astonished.

“Kukaka! You traitors are so carefree! In a situation where enemies are already closing in, it’s foolish to ask an intruder who has breached the inner sanctum about their business. Utterly foolish! What other business could I have than taking your heads?!”

“Tch! Activate Soul Equipment—”

“You’re too slow, fools!!”

With a thundering shout, the man suddenly increased his speed. The stairs beneath his feet exploded, and his massive, bear-like body transformed into a gust of wind, charging at the gatekeepers.

By the time they realized it, the man’s fist had deeply gouged into the gatekeeper’s abdomen. It was no ordinary fist. Penetrating Kei— a technique that involved striking the opponent with a fist imbued with ample Kei, then sending the Kei inside the enemy and detonating it at the moment of impact. Steel armor and even sturdy Kei barriers were meaningless against this technique.

The Warrior of the Green Woods, adorned in a blue haori with powerful enchantments, could not prevent the man’s penetrating Kei from breaking through.


A tremendous shock coursed through the gatekeeper’s body, and in the next moment, a torrent of blood gushed from his mouth. His internal organs were crushed, stirred, and torn apart by the powerful Kei. Among the scattered bloodstains on the stone pavement, like vomit, were clots of blood mixed with what seemed to be parts of his organs.

Needless to say, it was a fatal blow. By the time the gatekeeper collapsed onto the blood he had spat out, he was no longer of this world.

Of course, the man did not leisurely confirm his opponent’s death. Right after plunging his fist into the first gatekeeper, he leaped towards the second one.

This gatekeeper had barely managed to manifest his Soul Equipment, but the man didn’t bother with the details and grabbed the guard’s face with his right hand. Then, with just his arm strength, he lifted the gatekeeper’s body.


As if to demonstrate the man’s incredible strength, the gatekeeper’s skull creaked and groaned under the pressure.

Desperately trying to escape from the restraint, the gatekeeper brandished his soul equipment while letting out a pained cry. However, the weapon that was supposed to embody the great power of the Anima, bounced back with a metallic clang as it struck the exposed skin of the man.

“How weak! How slow! Even as a user of soul equipment, can’t you even properly unsheathe your blade against an opponent you’ve declared an enemy!?”

“G-ah… Aaaaah!?”

“They’re incomparable to the traitors on the other side of the gate. In other words, their ranks aren’t that deep. If we can infiltrate their midst, we can manipulate them however we want.”

With that, the man let out a hearty laugh, his belly shaking.

“Hahahaha! Just confirming this one thing is more than enough to be worth my life! I had thought to take as many traitors as possible with me to the afterlife, but with this, I might as well take everyone on the island!”

The man’s right arm swelled up with a bulge. His contracting muscles moved like waves, concentrating all the power into his fingertips to crush the gatekeeper’s skull.

At this point, the captured gatekeeper could no longer make a sound, his limp body dangling helplessly in the air.

It would only take a little more effort for the man to crush the gatekeeper’s skull. And there was no reason for him to hesitate –

“Go ahead and become the vanguard of the afterlife with your comrades, and report to King Enma. From now on, humans will come swarming like a mountain!!”1

Just as the man was about to crush the gatekeeper’s face with his laughter, he released his grip at the last moment and quickly leaped back.

At the last second, a streak of light slashed through the space where the man’s right arm had been.

With a thud, the gatekeeper collapsed to the ground, but the man didn’t spare him a glance, instead focusing on the new enemy who had appeared.

The young man holding a golden sword curved like a sickle didn’t flinch under the man’s gaze and spoke.

“I am Mitsurugi Ragna. State your name if you have one, you foolish one. I must label the severed heads I collect.”

“Hahahaha! A lively youngster has appeared. I’d like to say that I have no name to give to traitors, but in return for you revealing yours, I’ll tell you. My name is Isagi, the foremost of the Sixteen Spears praised for their bravery under the King of Mount Ganzan, Gien!”

As he spoke, the man – Isagi – removed the cloth wrapped around his head, revealing his shiny black horns.

Upon seeing them, a sharp gleam ran through Ragna’s eyes.

“Kijin. Was the disturbance at the castle walls also your doing?”

“Indeed, it was. Now, let me ask you this. You just called yourself Mitsurugi – are you a human from that Mitsurugi?”

Isagi’s tone, which had been unrestrained and openhearted, suddenly took on a slippery quality.

Extreme hatred and resentment clung to his tongue like oil, sticking to the words spewing from his mouth.

His wide-open eyes were bloodshot from the aftereffects of his intense rage, stained a bright red like a ground cherry.

Next to Isagi, Ayaka Azurite, who had appeared by cutting through the wind, was lifting the fallen gatekeeper. However, Isagi didn’t even glance at her, fixing his gaze solely on Ragna, as if challenging him.

Ragna deflected the gaze that would have killed an ordinary person with just a glance, head-on.

“I have no hidden agenda as a Mitsurugi. We are the guardians of the demon gate, inheriting the blood and will of the first generation sword saint who founded the Phantom Blade Style. We are the natural enemies of the Kijin, raising the banner of demon extermination and divine sealing. I am Ragna, son of the 17th generation sword saint Mitsurugi Shikibu. Tell King Enma in hell, Kijin. You were defeated by the rightful successor of Mitsurugi.”

As soon as Ragna revealed his identity, a different emotion than hatred flickered in Isagi’s eyes.

If forced to name that emotion, joy would be the closest fit. Isagi let out a thunderous laugh that shook the heavens and thanked the gods for his good fortune.

“Hahahahaha!! What an unexpected stroke of luck to meet the leader of the traitors so soon! This must be the divine guidance of the great Chiyou! Lord Gien, from now on, your number one spear will skewer the descendants of the treacherous, despicable, and vulgar traitors. Please witness this!”

Isagi roared.

And then, he loudly unsheathed his Soul equipment.

“Soul equipment – Hunt the Sun, energize!”


The mansion was located in the heart of Shuuto, close to the Mitsurugi residence.

The property was spacious, and the construction of the mansion was solid. The outer walls surrounding the mansion were also robust, designed to function as a fortress to protect the Mitsurugi residence in case an enemy invaded Shuuto.

As can be seen from this fact alone, the owner of this mansion was required to be the right-hand man of the head and a vassal of the Mitsurugi family.

Once, the mansion was owned by the prestigious Skyship family from Demon Island. However, the Skyship family has been on the path of decline in this era, and the Berch family has risen to prominence instead.

As a result, the ownership of the mansion had shifted from Skyship to Berch. In response to the demands from Gilmore, the elderly head of the Skyship family resisted quite a bit, but ultimately, he couldn’t oppose Gilmore, who brought out an order from the Mitsurugi head of ceremonies.

Designed to function as a fortress during wartime, the Skyship mansion, now renamed the Berch mansion, had a large underground prison. It was probably for capturing enemy soldiers or perhaps for capturing traitors who tried to communicate with the enemy.

In any case, the underground prison certainly existed. And Gilmore made use of this prison even during peacetime. He captured incompetent individuals and traitors, punished them, and sometimes used it as a place for disposal.

―― Picha, picha, the sound of water droplets piercing the floor echoed.

This in itself was not unusual for those who spent time in this underground prison. However, today, not only the sound of water but also another sound resonated.

Since a while ago, there has been a constant shaking of the ground, with a forceful vibration that made one think the underground prison itself might collapse.

Claira Berch, while desperately clinging to her consciousness that seemed on the verge of fading, was trying to sense her surroundings.

As the cells in the Berch mansion’s underground prison are surrounded by walls, it is impossible to know whether there are other prisoners or not. Raising one’s voice would only invite punishment from a whip. That was true even for Claira, an adopted daughter of the Berch family and a bona fide Warrior of the Green Woods.

If she wanted to, she could summon her soul equipment, but doing so would likely cause the wedges driven into her body to tear through her flesh, causing excruciating pain. Claira’s body shivered slightly as she remembered the memories of her childhood.

Currently, Claira had her hands tied behind her back, and they were suspended, forcing her into a position as if she were prostrating herself. Even if her limbs were free, she undoubtedly wouldn’t have thought of trying to escape.

Even without a collar, handcuffs, or leg cuffs, she understood that she was a prisoner. She had been made to understand this since she was a child… a long time ago.

“…Anyway, what on earth is causing this shaking?”

At first, she thought it was an earthquake, but it was too long for that. She also considered the possibility of a massive monster attacking, but what kind of monster could produce vibrations that would reach the depths of a mansion located in the center of Shuuto?

If it was a mythical creature that appeared in Ishka just a while ago, it seemed capable of causing such shaking―― Just as she thought about that, Claira unexpectedly let out a small moan.

“…Ku, uh…!”

Claira, who was wearing a shabby kimono――to put it bluntly, just rags――had multiple layers of whip-like wounds running along her nape, exposed upper arms, and thighs. Some of the wounds were oozing red blood, indicating that they were not old.

―― If Klimt were to see her in her current state, it would be a terrible situation.

In a corner of her fading consciousness, she thought about that and unintentionally smiled. From the perspective of an onlooker, her face would likely appear contorted, but she also pondered on such unnecessary thoughts.

Perhaps it was an instinct to alleviate the pain that enveloped her entire body.

At that moment, the ground shook again. The floor, the walls, and the ceiling let out a screeching sound, like a scream.

As Claira idly considered whether she might end up buried in the earth and perishing here, she heard a sound. The powerful sound of footsteps, stomping on the floor―thump, thump, thump―reached her ears.

As if checking each cell one by one, the sound occasionally paused, but slowly and surely approached Claira’s cell――

“You’re in a terrible state, huh.”

With a somewhat exasperated voice, Claira Berhe’s eyes widened in surprise as she saw the figure of Mitsurugi Sora revealed before her.

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  1. King Enma, also known as Enma Daiō or Yama, is a figure in East Asian mythology and the judge of the dead. In Japanese mythology, he is considered the ruler of the underworld and oversees the judgment of the souls of the deceased. King Enma is often depicted as a stern and fearsome figure, determining if a soul will be sent to one of the various realms of the afterlife, such as heaven, hell, or the cycle of reincarnation, based on their deeds and actions during their lifetime.