Chapter 22: Return

“Kuu…! That was quite a challenge.”

After cutting down Ouken, I felt a large amount of souls flowing into me and muttered to myself, frowning. I thought he was a weak opponent, but he had some power to match his pompous names like Duke of Taizan.

I chased after him because I thought letting him go would come back to haunt me later, but as a result, I got an unexpected reward. It was nothing compared to the souls of the demon gods I had just killed, but that was only natural.

As I thought about that, I looked down at Ouken’s corpse that I had cut in half. My eyes were drawn to the horn on his forehead. It was obvious at a glance that it had lost its effect as a magic item after I split it in two.

I felt a bit of regret for wasting it. Ouken’s horn was the horn of the king of beasts, Behemoth – an item necessary for the barrier magic that prevented the leakage of Hydra’s poison.

But I knew that and still cut Ouken and his horn in half. This was the result of considering the disadvantages of bringing back a demon’s horn.

If the barrier magic was activated with Ouken’s horn, it would indeed reduce the poison damage to Titis Forest and Kale River.

However, in exchange, the fact that “a powerful barrier magic can be cast with a demon’s horn” would be passed on to the rulers such as Canaria Palace, the Temple of Law, and the Ishka upper echelon.

And the next thing they would do, knowing that, would be to secure a spare horn in case Ouken’s horn ran out of magic.

At that time, it was obvious that their eyes would turn to Suzume.

Bringing back Ouken’s horn was like giving them a reason to target Suzume with my own hands. I couldn’t choose such an option.

――Well, even before that, if I thought about Suzume’s feelings when I brought back the horn of her fellow Ouken, there was no such option as “bringing it back” from the start.

Anyway, I made sure to finish off Ouken and I was able to eat the demon gods. I also visited my mother’s grave. And by the way, I also cleared the condition that Mitsurugi family gave me to prove my strength. I did everything I had to do on this island. There was no reason to stay any longer, so I decided to go back to Ishka as soon as possible.

I would have liked to say goodbye to Lady Emma at the end, but I decided to refrain from doing so. If I showed too much respect to Lady Emma, some people might suspect that I, who had been banished, was trying to ingratiate myself with her and plot my return.

Now, is there anything else I left undone?

As I thought that, what flashed through my mind was the figure of the Kijin I had exchanged a few words with earlier. Kagari, a Kijin of youth, vitality, and bravery.

Kagari, who was called by Ouken as “Lord”, was probably, no, definitely a leader of the Kijin tribe. The fact that he avoided fighting by calling himself a lookout meant that the Kijin tribe had positioned this attack as a means of gathering information.

They would analyze Mitsurugi family’s strength with the information they obtained today and plan their next full-scale attack based on that.

I didn’t want the island where my mother slept and Lady Emma lived to become a place of turmoil. Should I warn Mitsurugi family or something? – As I thought about that, I immediately realized how meaningless it was and snorted.

Protecting the demon gate was an absolute duty for Mitsurugi family. It was the supreme command of the emperor that they had been guarding for three hundred years. How ridiculous it was to urge them to strengthen their defense of the demon gate.

I should leave the island as soon as possible without doing anything unnecessary. I’ll go back to Ishka as planned and then head to Berka to look for the king of beasts, Behemoth.

The only problem, if I had to name one, was the possibility of being attacked in my absence like before, but to be honest, I wasn’t too worried about that.

My father is someone I can’t understand, both in the past and now, but he has never gone back on his word once he said it. Now that I’ve proven my strength, he shouldn’t do anything like targeting Suzume while I’m away, going back on his previous words. Besides, as long as the battle over the demon gate continues, he wouldn’t have the leeway to send warriors outside the island.

As I finished sorting out my thoughts, I kicked the ground to leave this place.

――Just before that, I turned around when I felt a gaze.

What came into my view was Mitsurugi mansion built on a hill. I couldn’t see anyone because of the distance, but I definitely felt someone’s gaze.

I didn’t feel any hostility in the gaze, but it wasn’t pleasant to be spied on. I searched for the unknown owner of the gaze for a while – but I couldn’t find them at all.

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be strange if Mitsurugi family had someone with the same role as the lookout of the demon tribe, since there was one among them.

I snorted through my nose and turned my back on the Mitsurugi mansion, cutting off the gaze from the other side. There was nothing to gain for me by exposing the spy, and I wasn’t doing anything that would bother me if I was seen. In that case, there was no need to dwell on the owner of the gaze any longer.

I kicked the ground and left the place for good this time. Feeling the eyes pouring on my back.



The moment his consciousness returned, Ragna Mitsurugi threw off the bedding and sat up. He breathed heavily and pressed his left hand to his chest.

“Wh-where is this… I am…”

His muddled consciousness hindered his grasp of the situation. Still, driven by the burning impatience in his chest, Ragna stood up on the spot.

He couldn’t stay in one place. He had to keep moving. Otherwise, he would only be split in half by that monster――he thought that far, when a flash of light ran through Ragna’s mind, and his foggy memory became clear at once.

He had been fighting against a kijin who had infiltrated the Mitsurugi mansion. Ragna remembered that. In the midst of that, the enemy summoned a demon god, and he couldn’t withstand the enemy’s attack and took a blow from a great sword to his chest――

“I lost consciousness, huh… Damn it, what a disgraceful…!”

Ragna clenched his teeth and looked down at his body, which was wrapped in layers of bandages.

When he looked under the bandages, he saw a deep mark of a great sword carved from his left shoulder to his right waist. The wound itself was closed, but it was a gruesome scar that could have been fatal. It might have been good that he didn’t try to catch the demon god’s slash and flew back in a hurry.

The wound was closed thanks to a healer or maybe they called the high priest of the Temple of Law.

In any case, it was certain that the threat of the demon god had left the Mitsurugi mansion by the time Ragna was resting in his room. Probably his father Shikibu had killed it himself.

There was nothing he could do by jumping out with his sword now. Ragna understood that, but even so, there should have been plenty of things to do, such as searching for the remaining kijin or exterminating the monsters outside the castle. Lying down leisurely after being slashed by the enemy was not something the heir of Mitsurugi should do.

He thought so and tried to leave the room, when a sharp pain ran through his chest wound.


The pain didn’t go away even though the wound was closed. The sensation of being slashed came back more vividly as he regained consciousness, and the pain seemed to increase.

As Ragna staggered and knelt on the bedding, the sliding door of the room opened silently.

Ayaka, who was holding a small basin, saw Ragna clutching his chest in pain and hurried over to him.

“Ragna, you can’t stand up yet. You have to lie down and rest.”

In the basin were cold water and a white cloth to put on Ragna’s forehead. Looking closely, there was a wet white cloth near the pillow. It must have slipped off his forehead when Ragna first jumped up.

Ragna asked his fiancée, who was worried about him, impatiently.

“Ayaka, was the demon god killed!?”

“Yes, it was killed. They also repelled all the monsters that came to Shuuto. So, you can rest assured and lie down.”

“That’s not good enough. There may still be kijin who infiltrated. I’m going out too.”

Saying so, as Ragna tried to stand up again, Ayaka gently embraced him like comforting a child.

While patting Ragna’s back to calm him down, she whispered into his ear.

“The search is being handled by the Warrior of the Phantom Blade Style. Your job right now is to rest and regain your strength.”

With that said, Ayaka effortlessly lifted Ragna’s body and laid him down on the bedding in the blink of an eye. It was a swift action that left no time for resistance, and at the same time, it felt so natural that one couldn’t bring themselves to resist.

Ragna made a reluctant face on the bedding.

“Ayaka, you…”

“Lady Emma, has been worried about you all this time. She’s resting now because I told her I would be with you, but she was by your bedside until just a moment ago. Please refrain from behaving in a way that would worry her any further.”

She said that and soaked the white cloth in cold water, wrung it out and pressed it to Ragna’s forehead.

He couldn’t insist on his own way when his mother was brought up. Ragna let out a small breath and relaxed his whole body.

Seeing that, Ayaka smiled slightly and fixed the bedding. Then she picked up the white cloth that had fallen near the pillow and put it in the basin.

“Are you thirsty, Ragna?”

“A little, but… more importantly, Ayaka, tell me what happened after I fell. “

He had been carried to the rear at the risk of someone’s life after being wounded by the demon god. He realized that belatedly and asked Ayaka for details.

She knew that Ragna hated bad excuses or consolations at times like this. She honestly told him what had happened afterwards.

“After you were slashed, I carried you back. The warriors took on the demon god instead, but there was a lot of damage.”


“Thirteen people died. More than twenty people were injured.”

In terms of the number of casualties, the other banners that were defending the walls had far more. But the first banner was the most elite directly under the lord, and all the warriors belonged to it had mastered soul equipment.

In that sense, the damage caused by the demon god to the first banner was very large.

Ragna bit his lip and cursed softly when he heard that. It was a curse directed at himself, not anyone else. The damage this time would not have occurred if Ragna had held back the demon god.

For example, if it had been his father Shikibu at the scene, he would have cut down the demon god with one sword and prevented any damage. That was what was expected of the head of the Mitsurugi family. Ragna felt keenly his own lack of power.

The room was silent for a while.

During that time, Ayaka silently looked at Ragna, as if to comfort him.

Maybe he didn’t want to worry her any more, Ragna opened his mouth again.

“So who killed the demon god? Was it my father?”

“…That is”

Ayaka’s voice, which had been flowing smoothly, suddenly hesitated. Ragna noticed that and frowned slightly, calling her name “Ayaka” briefly to urge her to answer.

She let out a small breath and then answered the question.

“It was Sora who killed the demon god.”


“He slashed it head-on and won, I heard.”

“Impossible, that can’t be!”

Ragna lifted his upper body with force and denied Ayaka’s answer with a roar. The white cloth on his forehead slipped off again, but Ragna didn’t notice it.

He glared at his fiancée sitting next to him as if to shoot her dead, and continued his words.

“Who can do such a thing to that guy! Who is spreading such a rumor!? Is it Sima Gozu, or maybe――”

“It was Sidney, Sai, and Elder Morgan who were there. And Lady Emma was there too. She was the one who told me the story.”


Ragna was speechless at the mention of his mother.

To him, Ayaka continued in a calm voice.

“I asked Sidney and the others after I heard from Lady Emma, but even Sai admitted it. And I felt the kei pressure when Sora slashed the demon god. No, I think all the warriors on this island felt it.”

The great rise of kei that shook the island itself. The enormity of the kei pressure that swallowed the demon god was unmistakable.

Too big, too deep – and too abhorrent, the power of the dragon.

Ayaka gently hugged her arms. She did that because she felt like her body would shake on its own otherwise.

She secretly thought to herself as she calmed down the agitated Ragna.

I’m glad Sora left Demon Island quickly. If I saw him now, I don’t know if I could restrain myself.

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