V2 Chapter 159: The Relocation Plan

When I announced that I had defeated my father, the Sword Saint, and was to be presumed the next head of the Mitsurugi family, the reactions of the Nakayama brothers varied.

Azuma nodded in admiration, Douga grimaced with a troubled expression, and Hakuro stared at me with thoughtful eyes. Kagari, who already knew the situation, crossed his arms behind his head and watched his brothers’ reactions with a smirk.

The members of the Green Woods Knights had varied reactions as well. Upon seeing me return, Claira’s eyes filled with tears, and she clung to my side, refusing to leave. Whether I was recounting my battle with my father or discussing the possibility of becoming the next head, she gripped my sleeve like a lost child.

Ursula, while not as overt as Claira, clearly showed her joy at my safe return. Her smile towards me was so beautiful it made me blush.

Given the opponent I faced, it wouldn’t have been surprising if our farewell had turned into a permanent parting. In fact, the likelihood was higher. In that sense, their reactions were completely natural.

It was unnatural of me, however, to only take joy in the fight, completely oblivious to their anxiety and impatience.

Perhaps, had I been with Kagari, Claira’s worries might have been somewhat alleviated. However, they were left behind by my decision, out of concern for them. Looking back, I can’t say there wasn’t a part of me that wanted to keep them away to focus on my fight with my father.

Indeed, had Gilmore or Dialt someone from Berch family turned against Claira, during my battle, my attention would undoubtedly have been divided.

Ursula also had questions for my father regarding the death of her own father. If I had fought while trying not to kill him out of consideration for her, the outcome of the battle could have easily been reversed.

In this sense, leaving them behind in the Underworld was the right decision. However, it’s true that I imposed unnecessary anxiety on Claira and the others for personal reasons, so I must make it right. I’ll ask them later if there’s anything they want me to do.

As for Klimt, there was nothing particular. I didn’t interfere with his actions. It was his own decision to stay in the Underworld with his sister. Although Klimt appeared to have swallowed vinegar upon hearing I might become the head of the Mitsurugi family, the nature of his feelings remains unclear.

After explaining everything, I discussed future goals with Azuma and the others.

The battle had paved the way for the opening of the Demon Gate. It would be good if the Mitsurugi family acknowledged my assumption of leadership, but I had no intention of losing to a Mitsurugi family lacking the Sword Saint. It was possible to crush the opposition and become the head, or to forcibly open the Demon Gate regardless of the title.

The Kijin can leave the Underworld.

The issue was what to do after exiting the Demon Gate.

King Azuma Nakayama intends to integrate his clan with humans after freeing them from the Underworld. His favor towards me, despite being a human of the Mitsurugi family who harbors no prejudice against Kijin, is because he sees me as useful in negotiations with humans.

I have no objections to Azuma’s plans. I owe a lot to the Nakayama brothers. Surpassing my father was undoubtedly thanks to their cooperation. Thinking of it as repaying a favor, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer my assistance.

However, integration is complex. The simplest solution would be for humans and Kijin to live together peacefully in Shuuto—but that is undoubtedly impossible. It’s hard to imagine those who have been enemies for three hundred years suddenly integrating, and besides, Shuuto does not have the land or resources to accommodate thousands, if not millions, of Kijin.

Occupying Shuuto and expelling its inhabitants to the mainland is an option, but it’s unlikely the residents would quietly leave the island, especially without guarantees for their future livelihoods.

Considering the time and effort needed to deport all islanders to the mainland, this plan is impractical.

Therefore, relocating the Kijin to Shuuto is deemed exceedingly difficult.

So, what should be done?

I conceived the idea of relocating the Kijin outside the island.

Specifically, to bring them to Titis Forest. There is no city on the continent that can accommodate tens of thousands of Kijin. Thus, we must create our own. Titis Forest, with an area comparable to that of a nation, was the perfect location for constructing a Kijin city.

Of course, there are problems—mountains of them.

Titis Forest is within the territory of the Canaria Kingdom, and relocating the Kijin there would require the kingdom’s permission. The difficulty of obtaining such permission needs no explanation.

There’s also the issue of how to get the Kijin’s consent to move to a forest far from Demon Island, filled with dragon veins, monsters, and Hydra poison.

Even if those problems could be resolved and relocation became feasible, we would then need permission to traverse the territory of the Adoastera Empire. It’s clear this would involve troublesome negotiations.

Moreover, there are mountains of other issues to resolve, such as securing food for the relocation and materials for city construction. Solving all these issues would take more than a month or two; even the most conservative estimate would be at least a year.

And this assumes everything goes smoothly, which, in reality, might take up to ten years or may never conclude.

This thought is overwhelming. Despite owing much to the four brothers, I can’t help but wonder if it’s necessary for me to be so involved in this matter.

However, whether fortunately or unfortunately, now that I have fulfilled my longstanding wish to surpass my father, I find myself without a clear purpose. Rather than spending my days aimlessly without a solid goal, it wouldn’t be bad to make amends for my past self-centered actions by working towards the integration of Kijin and humans.

Additionally, I am reminded of an event from the past I learned about in the Underworld.

Three hundred years ago, Kazuma Mitsurugi, the founder of the Mitsurugi family who nearly drove the Kijin to extinction in collaboration with Sofia Azurite. His wish can easily be inferred from the final form of the Phantom Blade Style being “Dragon Slayer.”

All the heads of the Mitsurugi family, including my father, knew the truth about what happened three hundred years ago but were unable to fulfill the founder’s wish.

If I could destroy Sofia, slay the dragon, and provide a peaceful land for the Kijin, I would have surpassed not only my father as a swordsman but also as the head of the family. With that thought, motivation wells up within me.

Most importantly, if I remain involved with the Kijin and the Mitsurugi family, it’s inevitable that Sofia’s final prophecy about the destruction of this era and its divine child will come into play.

With this in mind, I slightly lifted the corners of my lips.

“So, Sora—no, Lord of the Manor. Regarding our conversation yesterday, realistically, how feasible do you think it is?”

The next day, Ursula, with a serious expression, inquired with unusual politeness.

The conversation she referred to must be about the plan to relocate the Kijin to Titis Forest. Due to the fatigue from my battle with my father last night, I had only given a brief explanation before falling asleep, so it was natural for Ursula to want more details.

The overly formal address as “Lord of the Manor” must be Ursula’s way of humor, probably.

Claira had been by my pillow since I woke up and naturally, she was present here too. She had stayed up all night on watch.

When I learned this, I almost said, “There’s no need to be so cautious,” but in truth, it wasn’t so simple.

For the Kijin, with the Sword Saint, their greatest obstacle to capturing the Demon Gate, now defeated, eliminating me would give them a decisive advantage in their fight against humans.

I have cooperated with the Kijin thus far, but I am also a human of the Mitsurugi family. It wouldn’t be surprising if there were Kijin who didn’t trust me and plotted my removal.

Furthermore, there’s a possibility that followers of the Light God who bear a grudge against me for defeating the Pope Sofia might attack. Claira was on guard against such people. Of course, I made sure to thank her properly.

And Claira, seemingly curious about the details of the relocation plan too, stared at me earnestly along with Ursula. Although I told her she could sleep since she had stayed up watching, she had a look that said she wouldn’t sleep until she heard the story from me.

Perhaps, she’s cautious about being left behind and separated from me again. Is this what they call reaping what you sow?

Well, I have no intention of leaving Claira behind this time, so if she wants to hear the story, I’m happy to tell it.

With that in mind, I answered Ursula’s question.

“As for the feasibility, let’s just say it’s moderate. First off, regarding obtaining permission to relocate the Kijin to Titis Forest, I doubt there are any royals or nobles eager to manage a forest where Mythical Creatures could appear at any moment. As a Dragon Slayer, if I step in, I expect the Canaria Kingdom would be more than happy to entrust the management to me.”

Originally, that country had intended to mollify me, a dragon slayer, by offering a title, so negotiating for Titis Forest to become my domain in exchange for my services to the Canaria Kingdom is also an option.

Under normal circumstances, such a request would not be entertained, but as mentioned before, Titis Forest is currently in a state where the appearance of Mythical Creatures or a second or third monster stampede could happen at any moment.

If they recognize me as the lord of Titis, they could shove all those problems onto the Dragon Slayer. There’s a good chance my request would be accepted.

Moreover, the country now has Princess Sakuya—or rather, since the marriage ceremony with Prince Azar has likely already concluded, Empress Sakuya.

Empress Sakuya seemed eager for me, a military asset, to protect her brother, Prince Shion. If I promise to support Prince Shion in the event of an imperial crisis, she would undoubtedly help with the Titis matter.

Once I become the lord, the rest is easy. Inviting settlers falls under the authority of the lord. I can openly invite the Kijin to my domain. If any nobles complain, I can simply say I’m bolstering our forces in preparation for Mythical Creatures or monster stampedes, and they’ll have nothing to argue against.

Upon hearing my explanation, Ursula tilted her head and questioned.

“But, Lord of the Manor, if you become the head of the Mitsurugi family—a noble of the Empire, would the Canaria Kingdom welcome you as one of their own nobles?”

“It is precisely because I will become a noble of the Empire that the Canaria Kingdom cannot refuse my demands. After all, if they do, it would mean the Dragon Slayer is siding with the Empire for certain.”

Even though the marriage between Prince Azar and Empress Sakuya has been finalized, there’s still strong resentment towards the Adoastera Empire within Canaria. Many in Canaria would rejoice knowing that I, a resident and the strongest swordsman who defeated the Sword Saint, am on their side.

My existence as a Dragon Slayer and the one who defeated the Sword Saint could serve as a deterrent against the Empire. Canaria would undoubtedly want to avoid at all costs the scenario where I leave for the Empire.

When I explained this, Claira spoke up.

“Lord Sora, what would the Empire think? I cannot imagine the Emperor or the central nobility allowing the head of the Mitsurugi family to also hold a title in another country…”

“If they don’t accept it, I’ll just become a noble of Canaria. Then I’ll force my way across the Empire’s territory. The Empire’s regular soldiers won’t be able to withstand my Kei, so passing through unharmed won’t be difficult. This would significantly damage the prestige of the Adoastera Empire. Especially since there’s already turmoil between the Emperor, the Crown Prince, and the nobles of the central and eastern regions, they’ll want to avoid adding fuel to the fire.”

There’s no problem in granting permission for a nation’s noble to traverse its own territory. However, if a noble from another country forcefully crosses without permission, it sets a bad precedent for the citizens and invites ridicule from neighboring nations.

To avoid this, the Empire would have no choice but to acknowledge my ascension as head of the family.

Ursula spoke again upon hearing this.

“Lord of the Manor. What if the imperial nobility unites against a common enemy? If the knights who oppose your appointment join them, it could become troublesome.”

“Well, if that happens, I’ll just have to force my way through again. If necessary, I could even march into the imperial capital and negotiate directly with the Emperor or the Crown Prince—by the way, Ursula, how long do you plan to keep up this act?”

“It’s disheartening to hear you call it an act. I’m merely showing respect to the person you’ve entrusted with your legacy.”

With that, Ursula diverted her gaze from me.

Seeing this, I internally tilted my head, puzzled. I had thought Ursula’s overly polite behavior was a joke, but it seems that’s not the case.

It doesn’t seem to be a roundabout way of protesting my victory over my father, either.

As I pondered this, a chuckle reached my ears. When I looked in that direction, Claira, the source of the laughter, was smiling amusedly.

“Lord Sora, Ursula is just embarrassed.”

“Embarrassed? About what?”

“Of course, it’s because of you, Lord Sora. Since your return from Demon Island, your demeanor has become much more distinguished.”

Caught off guard by such an unexpected comment, I could only open my mouth in surprise, likely making a face as if I’d been struck by a sudden shock.

Thinking it might be some kind of joke, I looked at Ursula, who still averted her gaze from me, her cheeks flushed with a hint of red that extended to her ears.

Well, I’m at a loss on how to respond to such a straightforward reaction… Ah, that reminds me, Kagari mentioned something about my aura changing, is that what this is about?

I’m completely unaware of such a change, but if Ursula’s embarrassment is any indication of a significant transformation, that’s quite surprising.

However, I can’t exactly ask face-to-face, “Have I really become that much more handsome?” How would I even begin to phrase that question?

At a loss for words, I scratched my head and looked away, feeling somewhat awkward.

Seeing my reaction, Claira chuckled again, her smile indicating she was thoroughly amused.

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