Chapter 16: Taizan Duke

“Who goes there!?”

Morgan Skyship suddenly raises his voice to challenge the Kijin who appeared out of nowhere.

In response, Kijin Ouken clasps his hands in front of his chest and bows with an exaggerated display of respect.

“My name is Ouken. I am the one who will bestow the whip of punishment upon you in place of the great God. Please take notice, you sewer rats who have crawled out of the hiding place.”

“…Those horns, a Kijin, huh? How did you manage to bypass the barrier of the Demon Gate?”

“Heh, what meaning is there for those who are about to embark on the journey to the underworld to know that?”

The moment Ouken answers, Sidney Skyship and Kumon Sai—two of the Golden Generation—step forward to protect Morgan.

The two of them showed signs of attacking the Kijin right away, but Morgan restrained them and repeated his question. He had a question that he couldn’t overlook.

“Are you not going to answer? But I’ll have you answer this one. Why are you here? Unless you know the existence of the tunnel, it should be impossible to ambush us here!”

Morgan glanced around.

The exit of the tunnel leads to the temple of the Law God, away from the Mitsurugi residence. To be more precise, it leads to a forest within the temple grounds.

There are many teachings of gods in the world, such as the Law God, the Earth Mother God, the War God, and others, but basically these temples do not intervene in worldly battles. It is an unwritten rule that worldly forces do not touch the temples.

Even if a force hostile to the Mitsurugi family invaded Demon Island, they would hardly do anything to desecrate the temple. That’s why the Mitsurugi family had connected an emergency passage to the temple of the Law God.

This area is restricted by the temple, so not only the residents of Shuuto, but even those who work at the temple rarely set foot in it. It is also far from the Mitsurugi residence, so the chance of running into an enemy by chance is almost zero.

–That’s how it should be, but the Kijin in the priest’s robe was waiting for them. Morgan had a question that he couldn’t ignore.

In response to this interrogation, Ouken smiled with amusement.

“Are you not saying the answer yourself? Unless you know the existence of the tunnel, it is impossible to ambush here. If that is the case, I am here because I knew the existence of the tunnel. It’s a logic that even a child can understand.”

“So, how did you find out about the secret?”

“I asked someone who knew it.”

As he said that, Ouken took out several small spherical objects from his pocket. The white objects, about the size of a small dumpling, had red streaks like threads running through them, and a large black spot of unknown origin floated on them.

Sai, who was the first to notice their identity, made a face as if he was about to spit out saliva.

Then Sidney and Morgan also realized what they were. The grandfather and grandson changed their complexion almost at the same time.

“You, that is…!”

“Yes, these are the eyeballs of the humans who served this temple. Even though they serve the god, they reveal the secret by having one or two eyes plucked out. Even if they are the same apostles of the god, they are still human, and their loyalty is no different from three hundred years ago.”

As he said that, Ouken opened his mouth wide and threw the eyeball he had in his hand into his mouth.

He didn’t just throw in what he had. The number of eyeballs that rolled out from the sleeves of his white robe easily exceeded ten.

Every time Ouken chewed them, blood and mucus overflowed from the Kijin’s mouth and moistened his lips. Seeing that, the wives and children who were not used to rough things screamed in a high-pitched voice.

Morgan stepped forward with his face dyed in anger.

“You killed a priest who had no weapon, you ignorant fool! I, Morgan Skyship, will personally deliver divine punishment to you!”

“How presumptuous of a human to claim the authority of heaven. That is the act of someone who does not know right from wrong.”

“Enough talk! Soul equipment――”

When Morgan, trembling with anger, was about to manifest his soul equipment, a loud scream came from behind.

He turned around in a hurry and saw one of his young concubines floating in the air. It was clear from her face distorted by fear that this was not her intention.

As he said that, a man in a white robe appeared behind the woman who was hanging in the air, as if seeping out of the air. It was exactly the same way of appearing as Ouken before, and the robe he was wearing was also the same as Ouken’s.

Morgan opened his mouth with regret.

“So you had another soldier hidden!”

“Another one? Huh, you’re trying to invade the enemy’s base, after all. Don’t you think it’s natural to gather as many people as possible?”

As Ouken said that, another scream came from a different place. A baby who was not even a year old was torn from his mother’s hand and floated in the air. The mother, who had gone half-mad, desperately reached out her hand, but the baby was quickly lifted up to a height where her hand could not reach.

What appeared behind her was, as expected, the figure of a kijin wearing a robe.

In another place, another concubine was also hanging in the air and screaming.

Morgan, who confirmed four kijin, one in front of him and three behind him, groaned in a low voice.

“…Impossible. Where did they hide so many? I didn’t feel any sign of them.”

“The bracelets we wear not only conceal our appearance, but also erase the kei that wells up from within us. It’s only natural that you didn’t notice us. By the way, this is also the answer to your earlier question of ‘how we were able to pass through the demon gate’.”

Well, Ouken looked at Morgan with a deliberately polite attitude.

“What’s wrong, is there no need for any more questions and answers? Don’t hesitate to bring out your soul equipment and slash at me. If it’s for the sake of the law of the Extinguishing Demons and Sealing Gods, you’ll kill your enemies even if you have to leave women and children to die. Hehe, you could say it’s a splendid determination.”

Morgan, who sensed what the other party was trying to say, clenched his back teeth.

“Hostages. You despicable bastards!”

“Hostages? Don’t tell me you think I’ll say something like, if you hand over that white-haired head, I’ll spare the women and children?”

“…What did you say?”

Morgan frowned in bewilderment, while Ouken sneered with lips curved like a crescent moon.

“Hehehe! Our target was Mitsurugi’s women and children from the beginning. We kill the women before they can conceive, and we kill the children before they can grow. After fifty years, the Mitsurugi will be reduced to a group of failures who couldn’t even reproduce. There’s no need to fight them head-on.”

“…You’re a monster. In the end, Kijin are nothing more than harmful animals.”

“Kufufu, a monster, you say? Yes, yes, I’m definitely a monster. Indeed, I’m quite monstrous. It’s a completely logical plan, but as a Kijin warrior, let me respond.”

–Don’t you say that, human.

“After all, this strategy was devised by none other than a human- Mitsurugi’s founder! It’s the pinnacle of the wickedness that involves running away from Kijin warriors, while killing their women and children, and cutting off the lifeblood of the Kijin clan as a race! You humans aimed to exterminate us Kijin in this way!”

“I won’t stand for this nonsense! Would the founder ever behave so despicably?”

“Are you playing dumb, or have you truly lost the knowledge? Either way, we Kijin have not forgotten. Humans are filthy traitors, cowardly and deceitful. They took our land, stole our techniques, and then, after three hundred years of living carelessly, have the audacity to call us monsters!”

Ouken spoke and then discarded his white robe. His body, which appeared from beneath the robe, was slender, not because he avoided training, but because it was the result of pushing his body to the limit through intense training.

“Those who cannot see the truth or refuse to see it have no need for eyes. Let me at least use you as my prey! Soul Equipment Activation – Pierce through and through, Demon Bird!!”

Upon the declaration of the unsheathing command, a sudden change occurred in the upper body of the Kijin who had been exposing his naked torso. Feathers began to grow, and black feathers resembling those of a bird quickly covered Ouken’s body. Even his skeletal structure changed, with a beak on his face, wings on his arms, and sharp talons growing on his fingers.

In the blink of an eye, Ouken had transformed into a half-beast, half-demon form, causing Morgan to murmur in caution.

“… Is that a mutant form of Soul Equipment?”

“Calling it a mutant form is such an ignorant human-like way of speaking. Those who manifest the power of Soul Equipment with their own bodies are deeply connected to the Anima, which is proof that this form is a manifestation of Chiyou’s profound blessings. In the Kijin tribe, individuals like me are referred to as ‘Beloved Children’.”

Those who draw power from Anima not in the form of weapons but through bodily mutations often exhibit tremendous strength. The Kijin use themselves as a vessel to bring forth the power of demon gods, but the beloved child can wield power that rivals theirs.

As a clear example, almost without exception, the rulers of Mount Ganzan manifest their Anima through their bodies.

“My name is Ouken. I am the son of the former Taizan King, who once ruled one of the Five Mountains, and was appointed by His Majesty the Nakayama King as the Taizan Duke! Humans, tremble before the flapping of my phoenix wings!”

Ouken roared and swung both arms, unleashing an unnatural wind that swirled like a tornado and charged towards Morgan.

That was the signal for the start of the battle.

Liked it? Take a second to support WordyCrown on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!