V2 Chapter 136: Each’s Scheme

Three hundred years ago, the Mitsurugi family built two strongholds to guard the demon gate.

The castle Shuuto, to prevent those who would enter the demon gate, and the fortress Southern Heaven Fort, to prevent those who would leave it.

Both holly and Heaven, that demons detest, were chosen for these names, indicating the Mitsurugi family’s strong animosity towards the Kijin tribe at the time.

For three hundred years since, these strongholds have remained impregnable, and the Mitsurugi family has flawlessly fulfilled their duty of guarding the demon gate.

That’s why the recent breach in Shuuto’s walls was an indelible disgrace for the Mitsurugi family. Although they managed to repel the monsters and Kijin without civilian casualties, there’s no doubt that this incident has tarnished the Mitsurugi’s martial prestige.

At least, that’s what Gozu Seema believed, eagerly waiting for the next Kijin attack to show them what he’s made of.

Gozu was now facing a banner knight in a room at Southern Heaven Fort.

The old banner knight, Morgan Skyship, was twenty, perhaps thirty years older than Gozu. Gozu bowed respectfully to his senior.

“It has been a while, Elder Morgan.”

“Indeed, it has been long, Lord Seema. I apologize for the sudden intrusion.”

Morgan, returning the bow politely to the younger Gozu, was the head of the distinguished Skyship family, which has been prestigious since the era of the first Sword Saint. He once served as the flag leader of the sixth banner. Morgan, a broad-minded and humble man, remains unchanged in character, though he is now in his late sixties, nearing seventy. His posture is straight, his speech clear and fluent, a person of vigorous spirit.

Morgan, lifting his head, spoke to Gozu with a serious expression.

“I have something I wish to inquire about from Lord Seema. Could I take a bit of your time?”

“You have something you wish to ask of me? I cannot refuse a request from Elder Morgan, but what is it about?”

“About the recent actions of our lord. Aren’t we being too lenient towards the Berch family?”

Upon hearing this, Gozu involuntarily furrowed his brows.

Morgan immediately noticed this reaction and continued with a grave voice.

“Surely, Lord Seema, you are aware of the recent incident involving Claira’s escape from the island.”

“Yes, I am aware.”

“Morgan stated emphatically, filled with indignation. He has held a grudge against Gilmore and the Berch family due to past events, but this incident was something he couldn’t overlook regardless of those personal feelings.

“Lord Shukuya mentioned that this incident was a plot to use those two to lure Lord Sora to the island. I agree,” he said. Since the previous attack on Shuuto, there had been growing voices within the Mitsurugi family reevaluating Sora’s worth. These voices weren’t overwhelmingly loud, but they were significant enough to not be ignored. If Sora returned to the Mitsurugi family, there would be discussions about restoring him to the position of legitimate heir, which would not sit well with the Berch family, who are close to Ragna.

“Therefore, Gilmore used Sora’s compassion to save Claira and sent them to the demon realm. He wanted to eliminate Sora without dirtying his own hands. And it’s not just Sora; choosing Ursula as a companion also seems to be driven by a desire to monopolize the position of Sikou by eliminating the Utgarza bloodline. That’s how I see it.”

“Most likely, Elder Morgan, you are correct,” Gozu replied in a grave tone.

Morgan shook his head in disgust, though his feelings were not directed at Gozu before him.

“Gilmore has always been ambitious, pushing aside his rivals with various schemes to seize power. But this time, it’s clearly gone too far. Young lives should not be lost for his ambitions. Lord Seema, why does the lord allow Gilmore to have his way?”

Gozu couldn’t answer Morgan’s question.

Morgan’s doubts were shared by Gozu himself. Although Gozu had tried to understand the lord’s intentions on several occasions, he never received a clear answer from him.

“Frankly, I don’t understand the lord’s true intentions. However, I heard that it was our flag-bearer who proposed this plan to Lord Gilmore,” Gozu said in a low voice.

“The flag bearer lord Dialt?”

Morgan was taken aback, then furrowed his brows deeply.

“It’s even more puzzling. Lord Dialt is a man of stern integrity in all matters, unlike his father. He’s not the type to engage in petty schemes or to propose a plan that would send his siblings, even if only in-law, to their deaths.”

“Yes, I share Elder Morgan’s opinion. Thus, I suspect someone might have whispered these schemes into the flagbearer’s ear.”

“Hmm… Someone who wanted to manipulate Gilmore through Lord Dialt. There are plenty who would flatter and ingratiate themselves with the Berch family, but it’s hard to believe that Lord Dialt would lend his ear to mere sweet talkers. Was there someone who impressed Lord Dialt enough to come up with such a plot?”

Morgan crossed his arms, deep in thought.

Gozu, once again, couldn’t answer Morgan’s question. He himself wasn’t certain if someone was indeed manipulating Dialt from behind the scenes. However, a person did come to his mind reflexively when he thought of this hypothesis.

—If the mastermind was the lord himself, all these questions would be resolved.

If Dialt acted under orders from the lord, it would explain why he proposed such an unusual plan to Gilmore. It would also explain why the lord silently consented to Gilmore’s actions. After all, if they were the ones directing Gilmore, there was no reason to stop him.

Furthermore, nearly a month had passed since Sora and others crossed into the demon realm. During this time, there were not a few flag-bearers who wished to search for or rescue Sora, Claira, Klimt, and Ursula. Notably, Ursula’s superior, Lord Shukuya, Claira’s superior among the fifth flag-bearers’ vice-captains, Klimt’s superior among the seventh flag-bearers’ vice-captains, as well as Morgan and his grandson Sidney, a member of the golden generation. Ragna, Ayaka, and Sai also stepped forward to rescue their peers.

Yet, the lord rejected all these petitions.

The head of the house, seemingly a puppet of the Berch family, caused confusion among many flag-bearers. This too would make sense if the lord was the mastermind. For him, the current situation with Sora and the others in the demon realm was going according to plan. They wouldn’t allow searches or rescues.

The problem was the lord’s purpose in sending Sora and the others to the demon realm. Gozu had some guesses on this as well.

—To forge Lord Sora. This thought made the lord’s actions comprehensible.

Sora’s power, already capable of defeating mythical creatures, was among the continent’s finest. The quickest way to gain more power would be to send him to the demon realm.

However, the current Sora wouldn’t listen to the words of the lord or Gozu. That’s why he used the Berch siblings.

As for Ursula, she was probably meant to guide them in the demon realm. The lord wanted to strengthen Sora, not to let him perish helplessly. Thus, sending Ursula, familiar with the demon realm, made sense.

Even when Sora was engaged in a fierce battle with the Kijin Dooga near the southern fort, the lord didn’t move. To Gozu, the power of that Kijin was a clear threat. If the eight flags had been mobilized then to assist Sora, it might have been possible to defeat that Kijin.

According to the law of exterminating demons and sealing gods, they should have acted. No, they had to act. But the lord didn’t. Perhaps, that too was part of the trial to forge Sora. Gozu couldn’t help but think so.

…However, there was no evidence. And even if there were, as long as Gozu had no intention of going against the lord’s will, any evidence would be meaningless.

Morgan and Gozu looked at each other, both deep in thought. After a while, Morgan let out a heavy sigh, perhaps to relieve some of the oppressive thoughts weighing on his heart.

“By the way, did you know? Minister of Public Work is thinking of resigning his position.”

Minister of Public Work is one of the four senior officials and primarily oversees water control and civil engineering. For Gozu, who is a Minister of War, Lord Sikou is a colleague of equal rank.

Gozu slightly widened his eyes and shook his head.

“Lord Sikou is resigning? I wasn’t aware of that.”

“He’s nearly sixty. He said once he finishes repairing the walls of Shuuto, he intends to resign and inform the lord. As Minister of Public Work, he feels responsible for allowing the walls to be breached and endangering the people.”

“That was merely the enemy being one step ahead. It shouldn’t be considered Lord Sikou’s fault.”

Gozu said this while frowning. If anyone was to be held responsible, it would more likely be the Minister of War, who oversees military affairs.

Upon hearing this, Morgan nodded with a worried expression.

“I told him the same, but his mind seems made up. Who his successor will be, I do not know, but it’s certain that Gilmore will try to install someone from the Berch family. Not just that. As you just mentioned, Lord Seema, if Sikou resigns taking responsibility for the previous battle, Gilmore might even plot your downfall, arguing that the Minister of War should do the same.”

“Indeed, that’s entirely possible.”

“Lord Seema, I’m troubled by your relaxed stance. If both Sikou and Seema are replaced by those under Gilmore’s influence, the four senior officials will all be controlled by the Berch family. Such a thing has never happened in the history of the Mitsurugi family.”

Morgan’s words were filled with a serious sense of crisis.

There was a reason for this urgency. In Morgan’s view, Gilmore’s ambitions did not stop at the Mitsurugi family. Since the founding Sword Saint, the Mitsurugi family had adhered to the principle of ‘not invading and not being invaded’ in foreign wars. However, Gilmore seemed intent on breaking this principle.

In other words, Gilmore might be planning an invasion using the warriors of Green Woods. By doing so, he aims to elevate the Mitsurugi family’s position within the Adoastera Empire and seize greater power. If the situation continues to progress, the warriors of Green Woods could be exploited for Gilmore’s ambitions. Morgan was seriously worried about this potential future.

“I also heard that the Berch and Quintos families had a secret meeting.”

“The Quintos family… I see, Zenon.”

Gozu mentioned Zenon, who is the flag-bearer of the third flag of Green Woods.

Zenon Quintos, a flag-bearer of the same age as Gozu, also serves as a mentor to Mitsurugi Ragna. The Quintos family is relatively new and lacks historical depth, but Zenon himself is highly regarded for his martial prowess, considered the fourth after Dialt, Shukuya, and Gozu among the warriors of Green Woods.

He is confident in his martial skills, considering them no less than Gozu’s, and has often directed challenging looks towards him.

Zenon also enjoys Ragna’s deep trust, and it’s almost certain that he would be appointed the new Minister of War if Ragna becomes the head.

As for Gozu himself, he isn’t particularly attached to his position as Minister of War and wouldn’t mind being dismissed. He knew well that Ragna, who will likely not favor him as he was Sora’s mentor, would not use him much.

However, it seems Zenon cannot wait until Ragna becomes the head. Perhaps he suspects that Gozu is plotting to restore Sora to the position of heir and is trying to make a preemptive move for Ragna’s sake.

Morgan said:

“While Zenon is not necessarily favorable towards Gilmore, his support for Lord Ragna inevitably ties him to the Berch family. It’s possible they’ve made a deal for the next Minister of Public Work to be from the Berch family and the next Minister of War from the Quintos family. If all four senior officials unite in support of Lord Ragna, even if Lord Sora returns, the position of the legitimate heir will be unshakeable.”

“I see. But if Zenon becomes Minister of War, he will have to resign his position as a flag-bearer. What are your thoughts on that?”

In the Mitsurugi family’s grand council, only the four senior officials, each flag’s flag-bearer, and vice-flag-bearers have the right to speak. Therefore, holding concurrent positions as a senior official and a flag-bearer is not allowed.

As Gozu said, if Zenon becomes Minister of War, the position of the third flag’s flag-bearer will become vacant.

Morgan nodded and continued:

“Then Vice-Flag-Bearer Lucius might be promoted, and the vacant position might be filled by Lord Ragna. Lucius is just over twenty years old. He’s a bit young, but his martial prowess, inherited from his father Zenon, is not shameful for a flag-bearer. The other flag-bearers are unlikely to oppose it. As for Lord Ragna, he’s a prodigy who rose to the fourth rank of the third flag before turning twenty. If he can master at least one of the Eight Trigrams, his position as a vice-flag-bearer will be justified.”

To become a vice-flag-bearer of the Green Woods’ eight flags, one of the requirements is “to be proficient in at least one of the Eight Trigrams.”

Watching the movements of Zenon and Gilmore, Morgan thought that Ragna might have already mastered the inner teachings.

After being severely injured by a demon god in the previous attack, Ragna, as soon as he recovered, was heard to have thrown himself into training as if possessed.

Originally, Ragna’s talent placed him among the upper echelons of the golden generation. If he used the bitterness of defeat to refine his skills, mastering the inner teachings was certainly within reach.

—At that moment, Morgan suddenly looked back over his shoulder.

Behind the old flag-bearer was the room’s door. Morgan raised his right eyebrow inquisitively and opened his mouth.

“It seems noisy outside. Something must have happened.”

“It does seem so.”

Gozu stood up and looked outside through the window. Several flag-bearers seemed to be excitedly exchanging words.

The soldiers stationed at the Southern Heaven Fort were the elite of the Green Woods’ first flag. If they were raising their voices, it undoubtedly meant that something unusual had occurred.

Thinking to check the situation, Gozu was about to leave the room after excusing himself to Morgan. It was only a month ago that an army of over a thousand Kijin appeared east of the Southern Heaven Fort. The army left eastward with Sora and others, and since then, there had been no movement from the Kijin. But now, after a month, they might have started to move again.

However, before Gozu could leave the room, a knock sounded.

Following the knock, a flag-bearer with dull-colored hair and a slightly dark complexion entered. He smiled in relief upon seeing Gozu and Morgan.

“Minister of War and Elder Morgan are here. I’m glad I didn’t have to search in vain.”

“Lord Shukuya. It seems something unusual has happened.”

“Yes, quite unusual. An incident so rare, I’m confident it’s unlikely to be surpassed. Depending on how things unfold, it could even split the Mitsurugi family.”


Hearing this, Morgan and Gozu exchanged shocked glances.

Shukuya is a calm and serious person. Although occasionally playful, he would never utter something as disrespectful as the family splitting, even in jest.

But Shukuya said it, which means, regardless of its truth, he believes an event significant enough to consider the possibility has occurred.

Shukuya then succinctly revealed the incident.

“The former young master has appeared at the fort’s eastern gate, bringing with him a young boy from the Kijin tribe, claiming to be an envoy from Chuuzan—the Kijin kingdom.”

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