Chapter 21: Reunion


Kijin Ouken was running through the gaps between trees without looking back. He had escaped while Sora was fighting the demon god.

It was a terrible sight.

His right arm, which had been hit by Sora’s slash, was gone from the shoulder down. The blood gushing from the wound had dyed his temple of Light’s white robe a dark red, and twisted red lines were drawn on the ground.

Ouken had no choice but to leave behind clear evidence of his escape route. With just one left hand, he couldn’t stop the bleeding, nor did he have the strength to chant a healing spell. He didn’t even have time to cover the fallen blood with dirt.

If he did that, he would quickly be caught up by the pursuers – that human!

“Ha…haa…what, what is it…what is he…?!”

Sora had cut through Ouken’s most powerful trump card, his wind magic, as if it were a gentle breeze, and had slashed through the tough body of his beloved daughter like paper.

Not only that, but he fought head-on with the demon god who descended by using the body of a kijin as a vessel, and did not retreat even a single step.

The strength of the demon god who descended depends on the vessel. In that sense, the demon god who manifested by using Isagi as a vessel hadn’t reached his original strength.

Isagi, who was the leader of the Mount Ganzan Sixteen Spears, had exceptional power among the kijin tribe, but he was still human after all. The human vessel was too small to contain a god.

But. But, even if he did not reach his original power, a demon god was a demon god. He was not an existence that a mere warrior could oppose. That was supposed to be the case.

Ouken recalled the scene from earlier. The figure of Sora who took on the storm-like attack of the demon god head-on, repelled it, and finally inflicted a fatal slash.

Ouken had fled from that place without seeing the result, but the presence of the demon god was already gone, and the demonic aura that covered the island was erased. If that was the case, the outcome of the battle was obvious.

“That kind of user, there is no way he is unknown…! He plotted against me… Indeed, indeed humans are not to be trusted…!”

Groaning and struggling to find words, Ouken continued to move his legs. He had to return to Nakayama as quickly as possible and report what had happened on this abominable island to the upper echelons of the Church of Light.

However, the divine artifact needed to pass through the Demon Gate, which allowed him to conceal his appearance, had been lost along with his right arm. His comrades who had accompanied him to this land, led by Isagi, had been defeated by the Mitsurugi forces, and his own subordinates from Mount Taizan had been completely annihilated. Ouken now had no means of passing through the Demon Gate. In fact, he couldn’t even ensure his own survival at this point.

Ouken cast a healing spell on himself with a trembling voice, but no matter how many times he recited the sacred verses, the flowing blood showed no sign of stopping. Even though he should have felt lighter with so much blood loss, his legs only grew heavier, like they were made of lead.

“Guh… ga… gobuah!”

Unable to withstand the sudden surge of nausea welling up from the depths of his throat, Ouken opened his mouth. An astonishing amount of blood gushed forth from his chest, and he couldn’t help but fall to his knees.

The continuous vomiting of blood quickly formed a pool on the ground.

With blood streaming from both his mouth and nose, Ouken struggled to stand up. However, it seemed that something had been interrupted when he fell to his knees, and his body refused to move, as if it were rusted.

His vision has been swirling since a while ago. The next moment, he was attacked by a sharp pain that pierced his skull like a drill, and Ouken collapsed on the ground.

Splash, red liquid splashes around. Ouken, covered in his own vomited blood, gritted his teeth in humiliation and fear.

“――You’ve been badly beaten, Ouken.”

A quiet voice falls from above. Thinking that the pursuers had arrived quickly, Ouken moved his face as much as he could in fear. The owner of the voice appeared in his sight.

There was Kagari, a young kijin with shaggy hair.

The moment he realized that, Ouken’s face lit up with joy.

“Ka, Kagari-sama… Oh, thank you, thank you for coming to save me…!”

“Save you? What are you misunderstanding?”

“…Kagari, sama?”

Kagari’s low voice, unlike his usual cheerful and carefree self. It shook Ouken’s eardrums with a ominousness similar to the roar of distant thunder.

An uneasy sign covered Kagari’s slender body. Unconsciously, Ouken swallowed his saliva.

“I’m the observer of this battle. I’ve seen Kifu’s death, Isagi’s last moments, and your actions, Ouken.”


“I was told by Brother Hakuro to be especially vigilant about you. Thanks to that, I’ve heard quite a few interesting things. There are those who despise the blessings of the great Chiyou as a curse, right? It’s absurd for a Kijin to willingly abandon the very reason they are a Kijin.”

Upon hearing this, Ouken’s face contorted. In the midst of his battle with Sora, when the blade was pressed against his neck, Ouken inadvertently let slip his true feelings. Kagari had accurately heard it all.

“You… saw that?!”

“Don’t ask me why I didn’t help. The duty of an observer is to witness the battle and bring back all the information gathered, in great detail. To ensure that nothing goes wrong, I’ve been forbidden from fighting by Brother Azuma. You should have been aware of that.”

Kagari let out a small sigh.

“I didn’t intend to save you in the first place. I’d rather have you killed by the enemy than see you torture women and children and laugh happily. That’s a relief.”

“…Ka, Kagari-sama”

“Well, as far as I can see, you’ve received enough retribution for your cowardice, and if that was the only problem, I wouldn’t mind taking you back to Nakayama. But――”

For the first time, irritation appeared on Kagari’s face.

The same emotion seeped into his voice.

“You said it then. You don’t want to die like your father, so you joined the temple of Light and tried to cut off the curse of Chiyou. What does that mean?”

“Do, do you mean…”

“You can’t cut off the connection between Chiyou and Kijin by joining the temple of Light. You’re still a kijin. But if your words are true, it means that the temple of Light――the humans have a way to sever the bond between Chiyou and Kijin. I can’t ignore that.”

Or maybe the true purpose of the temple of Light is to annihilate Chiyou, Kagari thought. If they succeed in killing the god, it makes sense that they can cut off the blessing or curse.

In any case, it is clear that the temple of Light has something up its sleeve.

Ouken’s actions are suspicious, but the source of his suspicion is the temple of Light. That was a certainty for Kagari.

Kagari’s fierce gaze pierced Ouken. Ouken lowered his face, whether it was because of the sharpness of his gaze or because he didn’t want his expression to be read.

“Ouken. Azuma-nii knew that your loyalty was not to Nakayama but to the temple of Light. Even so, Azuma-nii respected you and Taizan’s royal family, and chose you as Taizan’s lord and treated you generously. You didn’t repay that kindness, but acted on the will of the temple of Light, and tried to harm the kijin by baring your fangs at Chiyou. That’s nothing but a worm in a lion’s body. Do you think I, the brother of Nakayama’s king, will save you?”

“Kagari-sama, please, you misunderstand… Please, listen to me…!”

“I might listen to you if you tell me everything honestly――but too bad, time’s up.”


Kagari shrugged his shoulders lightly, and Ouken uttered a bewildered voice.

At that moment, there was a powerful sound of footsteps on the ground. It came from the front for Kagari and from the back for Ouken.

Ouken hesitantly turned around and saw the black-haired, black-eyed, black-sword wielder – Sora, who had been fighting just moments ago.

Ouken let out a short scream.

As for Sora, he didn’t even give Ouken a glance, but slightly furrowed his brows and stared at Kagari.

Soon after, his mouth slowly opened.

“We meet in a strange place – well, maybe it’s not that strange. So, is it safe to say you’re my next opponent, Kagari?”

“No, I have no intention of fighting you, Sora.”

Kagari grinned at his opponent, with whom he had reunited after several hours.

“To be honest, I’d really like to fight you, but I’ve been strictly ordered by Brother Azuma not to.”

“I don’t know about your situation, but well, if we can avoid fighting, that’s fine – but I’m going to kill him.”

Saying that, Sora glared at Ouken. Ouken, who had fallen on his butt, crawled back in a bloody mess.

Kagari lightly raised both hands and responded.

“I saw your fight with Ouken. The right to decide the life or death of the loser is in the hands of the winner. That’s the same for humans and kijin.”

“Lord Kagari!”

A scream came from Ouken’s mouth.

The legitimate heir of the Taizan royal family, who once ruled one of the five mountains, clung to Kagari with a pitiful voice.

“Please, please have mercy… If you save me, I will tell you everything I know…!”

“I told you, Ouken. A scout can only complete his mission by returning alive. I can’t risk my safety to save you.”

Kagari firmly shook off Ouken’s hand, trying to cling to him.

The temple of Light had managed to survive within the Demon Gate for three hundred years, albeit with twists and turns. It was hard to believe that they would reveal their secrets to someone like Ouken, who would easily spill the beans when faced with threats to his life. If they were such a careless organization, they would have exposed themselves much sooner.

In that sense, Kagari did not place much importance on the information Ouken held. It was enough to know that the temple of Light was plotting something—probably something related to the demon gods. It was best to leave the task of investigating further to his older brother Hakuro.

Well, knowing Brother Hakuro, he’s probably already grasped most of the details.

Kagari’s figure seemed to blur and fade away.

Realizing that the prince of Nakayama was about to leave, Ouken opened his mouth again to plead for mercy.

However, before his mouth could fully open, Sora’s black sword flashed.

There was a wet sound as blood splattered on the ground. After a brief moment, the Kijin’s body, split in half along with its horns, collapsed onto the ground.

That was Ouken’s last moment.

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