Chapter 19: Demon Gods

“You called that bird guy Duke of Taizan, so you must have been here for a long time – or maybe from the beginning, right?”

It was obvious that Sai’s words were an accusation. If translated, it would be something like “Don’t hide and watch the situation, and steal the best part and act like you did something. You were here for a long time – or maybe from the beginning, right?”

There were countless ways to counter this accusation.

I had no obligation or duty to help the Mitsurugi family. I didn’t mind being thanked for helping them, but I had no reason to be blamed for being late to help.

It was easy to dismiss Sai’s words as the barking of a loser. I could mock him as a weakling’s tantrum. I could even accuse Sai of shifting the blame as a loser.

That’s why I didn’t choose any of them.

“As you say, I’ve been here from the beginning.”

The person I knew as Kumon Sai had a twisted and sharp personality like a soul equipment Longinus. My intuition whispered to me that it would be just what he wanted if I argued back arrogantly.

As if to prove the correctness of my intuition, Sai raised his right eyebrow in surprise when he heard my reply. He was surprised that I didn’t argue back or mock him or accuse him.

In fact, when I stopped and turned to face him, Sai continued like this.

“Well, well, you admit it quite honestly. So, what’s the reason for hiding? Your brother was here too, you know?”

Sai said that and lifted the corner of his mouth sarcastically. It was very nasty that he was speaking loud enough for Lady Emma and the others to hear.

Sai was still trying to provoke me. Knowing that, I answered in exactly the same tone as before.

“The reason is not to get in your way. You and Sidney are the golden generation, and Lord Skyship is a former flag general of the Six Flags. And there’s even Lady Sima, who was a top warrior of the First Flag. If I interfered clumsily, I might have become a hindrance.”

I answered the questions calmly, without mocking or despising.

Sai twisted his lips again when he saw me, but this time it was closer to a wry smile. He seemed to realize that I wouldn’t take the bait.

Probably, Sai was suspicious of the relationship between me and the Kijin, just like Ragna earlier.

I killed Ouken’s subordinates with my soul equipment, but I attacked Ouken with magic and avoided a fatal wound. And then I helped Lady Emma and the others, so there was room to doubt that it was a staged act.

So, Sai deliberately chose words that would stir up my anger. He tried to provoke me and get information out of me with his words.

Instead of confronting me face to face like Ragna, he came at me with a trick. That was very typical of Sai.

――I looked at my classmate in front of me again.

Sai’s attitude was casual as he stared at me, but his eyes were sharp.

His brown skin and dull blue hair. His tall and thin body, and his slightly stooped posture were unchanged from five years ago.

I was ridiculed a lot for being called “empty” because of my name “Sora” when I was on the island.

It still makes me angry to remember, but I couldn’t argue back very well at that time. That’s because Sai’s words and actions were always backed by more training and results than his opponents.

I couldn’t argue back because I knew that he was working harder and achieving more than me. I didn’t have anything to do with Sidney either, but that wasn’t because I had anything against him personally, but because he was Sai’s best friend. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him through Sidney – that’s what Kumon Sai was to me.

So, I was very wary of him when I came back this time. Even though I was confident that I had surpassed him in strength after the fight with Hydra, the fear that stuck to my chest didn’t go away easily. Just like I did with my father, just like I did with Ragna, I secretly feared Sai – until just a moment ago.

And then, Sai opened his mouth. He tapped the ground with the butt of his spear – the opposite part of the tip – and looked back at me.

“I see, I see. You don’t seem to be just getting carried away by mastering soul equipment. You’ve grown a lot, Sora, who couldn’t even look me in the eye.”

His voice was still twisted as before, but the thorns that stuck out on the surface of his words were smaller.

Maybe it was Sai’s way of complimenting me – no, complimenting was too much. It was something like a late greeting to me who had returned home. It seemed that he had no intention of continuing to provoke me any more.

Sidney, who had been treating his grandfather, looked at me with a somewhat relieved look. He seemed to have noticed Sai’s intention. He might have been ready to mediate if we had created a tense atmosphere.

The air in the place visibly relaxed. If I said a word or two to them here, I might be able to build a different relationship with Sai and Sidney than five years ago. At least, it would be a start. I thought so.

――Well, I didn’t feel like doing that at all.

I looked away from Sai in silence.

I had already lost my fear of Sai. I had marked him as a person to watch out for from my past memories, but I had no interest or fear in a warrior who was done in by seven or eight Kijin. This was true for Sidney and Morgan as well. Cecil goes without saying.

I would be interested if he showed me even one void armor like Gozu, but he didn’t have that either.

The reason I didn’t ignore Sai’s provocation was partly because I didn’t want to be misunderstood by Lady Emma. And another reason was –

“You bastards, you bastards, you humans!”

It was to give Ouken enough time to not look unnatural.

The Kijin roared in anger and flew high into the sky, flapping his wings like a harpy. The wound inflicted by the Flame Princess’s magic had almost healed, and his eyes, which should have been burned, had regenerated.

As I had guessed from his talk about gods before the battle, Ouken himself was a healer.

The Kijin looked down at us from the air, with a fiery passion swirling in his eyes like a blast furnace.

The next moment, Ouken began to chant his magic in a loud voice.

“Those who have horns on their heads, leopard spots on their bodies, and snake scales on their tails!”

It was a phrase I had never heard before. It was a fairly high-level magic with a long chant.

The one who raised a warning voice was Morgan Skyship – an experienced warrior who had served as a flag general of the Six Flags.

“Damn, that’s a ninth-circle wind magic… He’s trying to blow up this whole area…!”

Morgan’s voice trembled, either from the pain of his wound or from the fear of the magic.

As the chant progressed, the wind that surrounded Ouken’s body grew stronger. The air made a creaking sound like a scream, and thunder-like roars hit my ears one after another.

“Beast’s roar, endless vow. Leave your claw marks on the field of red maple!”

As the magic approached completion, Ouken’s own kei also swelled up.

It seemed that Ouken was enhancing his magic with his kei. The wind that surrounded the Kijin was swirling and roaring, as if he had wrapped himself in a tornado.

The raging wind also reached the ground. The wives and concubines of my father screamed as they were blown by the strong wind that could blow away an adult.

“Run with the wind and thunder at my command!”

The chant was precise. The amount of kei was enormous. It was incomparable to when he was torturing Ibuki earlier.

I heard a voice filled with joy from beyond the raging wind.

“Now, fly away with my phoenix wings! Black Wind Zetsuei, the thousand-mile legs pierce the horizon – Kokuhiren!”

At that moment, the activated magic was indeed powerful.

The ninth circle was the end point of systematic magic, that is, the highest level magic. And it was enhanced by the Kijin’s kei, so its power was obvious.

――However, that was all there was to it.

“Hmph, this is all?”

I say, disappointed.

I once faced an eighth-circle spell in the capital of Canaria. My current level is more than double what it was back then. There’s no way I would be daunted by a ninth-circle spell now.

The added Kei on top of the magic isn’t a significant problem either.

While Ouken’s Kei is indeed powerful, it doesn’t even compare to the Mythical Creature Hydra I fought in the Titis Forest. To put it more bluntly, it doesn’t reach the level of Gozu when he unleashed his Void Armor. There was no reason to feel threatened by that level of Kei.

In fact, the released ninth-circle spell crumbled pitifully before the Soul Eater. My casually thrown Flying Strike clashed with Ouken’s spell in mid-air, and the unnatural whirlwind broke apart with a creaking roar.


Ouken is at a loss for words, dumbfounded by the sight before him. Judging by his face, it seems that was indeed his full power. It’s quite disappointing, considering I gave him the time to reveal his trump card.

I clicked my tongue softly but quickly changed my thoughts.

Well, that’s fine. With that being the case, I’ll just quickly cut down Ouken and head to the Mitsurugi residence. I swung Soul Eater once more and fired a Flying Strike at Ouken, who was in the air.

The invisible slash raced through the air, easily severing Ouken’s right arm. Unable to maintain flight with only one wing, the Kijin screamed and fell.

Just before his body was slammed into the ground, I infused my legs with Kei and dashed to the crash site. Then, I caught Ouken’s body with one hand.

If he died from the fall, I’d miss the chance to consume his soul. Besides, there was something I wanted to ask him at the end.

Silently, I threw Ouken to the ground. The moment he fell, a loud groan of pain escaped the Kijin’s mouth, possibly due to his wounds. At the same time, his bird-like body rapidly reverted to human form. He probably didn’t have the strength to maintain his soul equipment any longer.

After a short while, Ouken sluggishly raised his upper body and found my face up close, his expression contorting. He screamed something and frantically tried to back away while sitting on his behind.

Of course, there was no way he could escape like that. I pressed the tip of Soul Eater against Ouken’s neck.

“Well, Ouken. You can’t escape death at this rate, but do you have any trump cards left?”

“…Wh-what are you exactly!? I’ve never heard of a human like you–“

“Answer the question.”

I pressed Soul Eater’s blade against his neck. The edge bit into his skin, and the overflowing blood trickled down his flesh.

I directed the question again to Ouken, who had immediately shut his mouth.

“Are those attacking the Mitsurugi residence your allies? That power rivaling a Mythical Creature, do you possess it as well?”

“…If I answer, will you spare me?”

“If you don’t answer, I’ll definitely kill you.”


Ouken remained silent, but in the depths of the eyes looking up at me, he was desperately calculating.

He seemed to have reached some kind of answer, and opened his mouth while gauging my reaction.

“Those who attacked the mansion must have dedicated their lives to Chiyou… If you ask me if I can do the same, I can. But, I have no intention of doing so…”

“Why is that? If you’re going to die anyway, it’s better to die after striking back at your enemy.”

“…Not all Kijin are devoted to Chiyou, you see… We Kijin are connected to Chiyou, whether we want to or not. Some rejoice in his blessing, and some abhor his curse… That’s how it is…”

I raised my right eyebrow like Sai did earlier when I heard that. Chiyou must be the name of a demon god. I was surprised that there were Kijin who hated the demon god.

“I take it you’re the latter.”

“Heh… Love is short-lived, as they say. Do you know why…? Because human vessels are too small to receive Chiyou’s power. My father, the King of Taizan, went mad and died because he couldn’t withstand Chiyou’s power…”

He covered his face with his left hand and continued to move his mouth like he was possessed, while repeating his ragged breathing.

His body, clad in a robe, trembled as if he was shivering.

“I… I don’t want to die like that. Yes, I don’t want to…! That’s why I joined the temple of Light and tried to cut off this curse… And I’m going to die here? Die here? Defeated by a human? Heh, heh heh heh… Heh heh heh heh heh heh!”

Ouken laughed in a toneless voice. His eyes were bloodshot, and a confused light flickered in them. He was clearly losing his sanity.

He was either shocked by losing to me, or traumatized by his father’s death. Or maybe he had lost too much blood and his consciousness was clouded.

I still had questions to ask, but it seemed bad in more ways than one to continue.

And then, Ouken suddenly roared.

“- Is there anyone, anyone there? Lord Kagari, Lord Isagi! I… I can’t die here! Someone, anyone, help me!”

That scream was a roar of anger, a shriek, and a plea. At the height of his fury, the capillaries in his eyes burst, and tears of blood flowed out.

Ouken’s desperate cry shook the skies of Shuuto and violently struck the eardrums of those who heard it.

Of course, there was no response. Ouken’s actions held no value beyond a desperate struggle in the face of death. That’s how it should have been.

But in the next moment, the situation dramatically changed.


Sensing the surge of killing intent from afar, I instinctively leaped away from the spot.

There wasn’t even a hair’s breadth of distance to spare. A flash of light cut through the place I had been just a moment ago. If I had stood there dazed, my body would have undoubtedly been severed in half.

While quickly regaining my composure, I directed my gaze forward.

In my line of sight were Ouken, who had fallen on his rear, and one more person. No, in this case, it would be more appropriate to say one more pillar.

A strange creature stands.

A huge body that reaches three meters. Four limbs like iron pillars. Both eyes are red like winter cherry, and countless fangs peek out from the large slit mouth.1

It is not human, nor is it a kijin. Yet it is too dignified to be called a monster.

Demon god–I was convinced that the being in front of me was called that.

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  1. Winter cherry is a common name that can apply to different plants in the nightshade family. here it refer to Hozuki. Hozuki is a Japanese name for the plant Physalis alkekengi, which has bright red fruits that look like lanterns. Hozuki is a symbol of the Bon festival, a Buddhist tradition to honor the spirits of the ancestors. People offer hozuki plants or lanterns to the graves of their loved ones, or hang them outside their houses to guide the spirits back home.