V2 Chapter 164: Determination and Elation

The Kumon family is among the oldest in the Mitsurugi household.

Their ancestor was a flag-bearer and served as a close aide to the first Sword Saint. For three hundred years since then, they have played a significant role within the household as vassals.

However, it’s a fact that the successive heads of the Kumon family, serving as one of the four high officials, have avoided involvement in politics. They placed their primary duty in being flag-bearers, not seeking power within the household.

In other words, the Kumon family has always tried to avoid competing with other families as much as possible.

Engaging in power struggles with other families could lead to resentment, even in victory. The heads of the Kumon family, following the verbal teachings of the first generation, withdrew from seeking power until “that time” came, to ensure the Kumon family line did not end. This might have also been a punishment for secretly passing down an event from three hundred years ago that was not to be shared.

From the perspective of other families, the Kumon family was the epitome of a flag-bearer of the Green Woods: loyal to the main house, friendly with peers, and always leading the charge in battle.

Thanks to their resolute stance, the Kumon family, while not openly powerful, maintained a significant covert influence within the household.

The current Shukuya, in particular, known as one of the two pillars, was highly reputed for his mild-mannered and earnest character, winning the respect of fellow flag-bearers. If Shukuya wished, it wouldn’t have been impossible for him to seize power from the Berch family.

Indeed, many flag-bearers feeling threatened by the rise of the Berch family had high hopes for Shukuya.

Yet, Shukuya, following the tradition of his predecessors, saw his primary role as a flag-bearer and did not engage in politics using the Kumon family’s influence.

As a vice-general, he supported his superior, Dialt, and showed respect to the minister, Gillmore, even though Gillmore, who had caused the downfall of the once-prominent Skyship family, did not turn Shukuya into an enemy.

The Kumon and Berch families, maintaining a neither close nor distant relationship, cooperatively supported the governance of the Mitsurugi ministry.

—And now, Shukuya is challenging Sora, the newly appointed head.

This fact held significant implications. At least, many flag-bearers thought it was significant. Even the head of the Kumon family who had accepted Gillmore, could not accept a new head who disregarded the laws of exterminating demons and sealing gods.

Almost no flag-bearers were pleased with Sora becoming the head. Even more so, there were no flag-bearers who agreed with Sora’s plan to relocate the demon tribe to the continent, condemning the founder as a criminal.

Naturally, the flag-bearers’ hopes were focused on Shukuya.

Sora had defeated Mitsurugi Shikibu who was hailed as the strongest of his era in the Mitsurugi family, which seemingly left Shukuya with little chance of winning.

However, Sora’s victory could also be attributed solely to his powerful Void Armor overcoming a significant disadvantage. In other words, it was just a matter of good compatibility with the Void Armor.

Therefore, depending on the compatibility of Sora and Shukuya’s Void Armors, the outcome of their battle could go either way.

The flag-bearers hoped Shukuya would serve as their spokesperson, applying a metaphorical hot iron to the arrogant new head.

However, Shukuya himself let these expectations drift away like a gentle breeze, maintaining a cool expression.

Regardless, with Shukuya’s challenge and Sora’s acceptance, their battle was set in motion.

Considering it was a duel between the head of the Mitsurugi family and one of its two pillars, the training grounds were deemed too cramped for their battle. Thus, they moved to the outskirts of Shuuto.

“Awaken, Soul Equipment—Come forth, Queen of Shadows, Scary.”

Standing in a wasteland still bearing the fresh scars of yesterday’s battle between Sora and the ministry, Shukuya quietly unleashed his soul equipment.

At that moment, a chill so intense it sent shivers down the spine swept across the land of Demon Island as a gust of wind.

The oppressive sensation was as if an invisible hand had seized one’s heart. Merely standing there made one’s limbs numb with a cold, biting fighting spirit.

From Shukuya, who had drawn his soul equipment, emanated the thick presence of the Grim Reaper.

Naturally, the source of this was the soul equipment that materialized in Shukuya’s hands.

A spear, black as if dyed with ink, had its tip, shaft, and pommel all imbued with a lethal poison that could dissolve a body with a single thrust, resembling the fangs of a venomous snake. This spear also possessed the ability to wound an enemy by striking their shadow.

Due to its malevolent power, Shukuya, who rarely drew his soul equipment, did so from the start. This clearly meant he had no intention of holding back in this battle, ready to use all his strength.

In response, Sora—

“Awaken, Soul Equipment—Devour everything, Soul Eater.”

Without being the least bit phased by Shukuya’s oppressive aura, Sora drew his soul equipment, exuding a calmness as if questioning why he, the one who defeated the Sword Saint, should fear one of the two pillars.

The energy released by Sora was even more formidable than the day before. Unable to withstand the overwhelming pressure that seemed capable of crushing Demon Island itself, even among the flag-bearers and vice-flag-bearers, some were forced to their knees.

Even though Sora’s energy was vast enough to surpass the Sword Saint yesterday, today’s was even more significant, denser, and more refined.

Shukuya couldn’t help but be astonished by the sheer overflow of Sora’s energy, which seemed almost like a different person’s.

Normally, the power of a flag-bearer handling Void Armor wouldn’t drastically increase in less than a day, as higher ranks inevitably slow down growth.

Sora’s rank, which allowed him to directly confront Shikibu who had mastered its rank level, is likely comparable to Shikibu’s. Despite this, Sora is undergoing growth akin to that of a burgeoning ordinary flag-bearer.

This rapid development was unprecedented.

“Could it be that Sora-dono has no limit to his rank level?”

Shukuya thought this with a trepidation akin to fear when suddenly, the figure of Sora in his field of vision became blurred.

In the next moment, Sora had moved right in front of him. With his right hand, he swung his soul equipment mightily from a high stance, slashing down.


Shukuya raised the Queen of Shadows, Scary, in haste to catch Sora’s strike, feeling an immense shock pass through his arm.

It was a powerful blow that seemed capable of crushing Shukuya along with his soul equipment.

Shukuya tried to push back, but neither Sora’s body nor his soul equipment budged an inch. Against Sora, who held his blade with just his right hand, Shukuya gripped his spear with both hands. Yet, it didn’t move.


Shukuya instinctively thought this, feeling like he was touching a boulder.

And more than that, he thought it was fast. Shukuya could barely catch Sora’s movement just before.

Then, Sora, having spared his left hand, swung his fist towards the Queen of Shadows, Scary.

Was he trying to knock away the soul equipment, or was his aim to disrupt the stance? Shukuya reflexively thought so but soon realized Sora’s intention was neither.

“Four Calamities of Three—”

Almost simultaneously as Sora spoke, Shukuya was sent flying backward.

Sora’s fist could generate destructive power enough to shatter soul equipment. He wasn’t thinking about something as roundabout as deflecting soul equipment or disrupting a stance. Sora aimed to smash the Queen of Shadows, Scary, itself.

And Shukuya could not be confident that his soul equipment would withstand a blow from Sora’s fist, now enveloped in tremendous energy.

As a result, Shukuya had no choice but to opt for retreating backward.

This became an opportunity for Sora to exploit.


Without a word, Sora kicked off the ground, pursuing the retreating Shukuya. In the blink of an eye, Sora closed the distance between them, his soul equipment flashing like lightning.

Right, right, left, right, left, left. The irregular sword strikes coming from both sides were so fast that the trajectories seemed distorted, as if being whipped by lashes of light.

Moreover, subjected to a fierce onslaught that mixed diagonal slashes, reverse slashes, and thrusts, Shukuya was forced into a relentless defense without a moment’s respite.

Still, as one of the two pillars, he showed commendable reaction, skillfully catching the continuous slashes.

However, each time Shukuya caught Sora’s formidable blade, a strong shock ran through his hands gripping the handle, and the Queen of Shadows, Scary, let out a creaking sound like a scream.

Judging that he would be overwhelmed if this continued, Shukuya seized a momentary opening when Sora exhaled during a series of strikes to counterattack.

“Phantom Blade Style’s Secret Technique, Da’s Stance: Eight Thousand Eyes.”

The Da’s Stance is the only technique in the Eight Trigrams’ secret teachings that hinders movement. It envelops the opponent’s body with countless particles of energy, restraining their movement with binding energy.

An enemy struck by this will become sluggish, as if swallowed by a bottomless swamp—the Valley Eye. The more they struggle to escape the invisible restraints, the tighter the grip becomes.

Considering Sora had continued to fight even after being subjected to several secret techniques of the Sword Saint, the likelihood of direct attack techniques affecting him was low. Therefore, Shukuya chose the Da’s Stance from among many options.

He judged that if he could even slightly dull Sora’s movements, he could capture him with the tip of the Queen of Shadows, Scary.



With a loud shout, Sora released a massive amount of energy around him, easily shaking off Shukuya’s restraint. This simply highlighted the difference in energy between Sora and Shukuya.

Sora, having overcome the secret technique, switched back to the offensive.

As mentioned before, Shukuya’s soul equipment not only has a deadly poison but also the ability to wound an enemy by striking their shadow. However, Shukuya couldn’t aim for Sora’s shadow.

He knew that any futile move would result in his head being severed in the next moment.

Furthermore, Shukuya, who wields the Phantom Blade Style with a spear, is in the minority among the Green Woods flag-bearers, who predominantly use swords. The distance at which one wields their soul equipment and the timing for energy techniques differ between spears and swords, so those fighting against Shukuya must be wary of this.

This would be an advantage for spear-wielding flag-bearers like Shukuya, but Sora seemed almost unconcerned about this aspect.

The way he moves his feet, distributes his gaze, manages distance, anticipates attacks, and the tactics used when weapons clash, etc., Sora now surpasses the two pillars in every aspect of combat behavior.

From Sora’s perspective, whether Shukuya uses a spear or a sword, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of being able to handle it.


After the exchange of blows with soul equipment surpassed thirty times, Shukuya, having leaped back to create distance between himself and Sora, muttered inwardly.

Having closely observed the battle between Sora and Shikibu yesterday, Shukuya had anticipated and braced himself for being at a disadvantage. Yet, Sora had easily surpassed even the worst of Shukuya’s expectations.

Overwhelming strength backed by solid confidence. The imposing presence, like a towering wall, involuntarily brought to mind Sora’s father, Shikibu.

Sora, already exceedingly strong yesterday, seemed to have broken even further out of his shell after defeating his father. Conversely, it meant that Sora had defeated Shikibu while still being restrained.

Shikibu, who was hailed as the strongest among the Sword Saints alongside the founder.

—This person could surely defeat the “true enemy” the first generation spoke of.

In this moment, Shukuya Kumon decided on the path he should take. While he had initially planned to side with Sora, he now resolved to take the final step.

Consequently, Shukuya lost the reason to fight Sora. Sora’s strength had been sufficiently proven, and this should have been conveyed to the other flag-bearers as well.

Sora did not win against Shikibu merely due to the compatibility of their Void Armor. Even without Void Armor, he is a swordsman with the strength to overwhelm the two pillars.

However, even if Shukuya were to sheathe his weapon, there was no guarantee that Sora would do the same. Naturally, since Sora knew nothing of the Kumon family’s oral tradition or Shukuya’s intentions.

If Shukuya were to sheathe his weapon intending to side with Sora, only to be decapitated, it would not make for a laughing matter.

Yet, if Shukuya were to surrender now by raising both hands, it would cast doubt on whether the entire fight was a farce.

Above all, Shukuya himself was not content to end the fight being overwhelmingly pushed back. It wasn’t just a matter of pride as one of the two pillars—but rather, he was exhilarated by the battle against a superior opponent, a feeling he hadn’t had in a long time, excluding Shikibu.

As a vice-flag-bearer, opportunities to fight with all one’s might, both in terms of skill and position, are rare.

Shukuya didn’t want to miss this rare opportunity. He knew it was an emotion he should discard as the head of the Kumon family, but the thrill of battling a formidable foe had ignited a fire in his heart.

“Would you accompany me, Queen of Shadows, Scary?”

To the host’s whisper-like question, the Anima, as if to say “needless to ask,” vibrated the handle of the soul equipment.

With a smile on his lips, Shukuya faced Sora anew, not as the head of the Kumon family, but as a Green Woods flag-bearer.

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