Chapter 23: Splendid

“Has Ibuki fallen asleep, Cecil?”

“Yes, brother.”

After nodding to her brother Gozu Shima’s question, Cecil smiled awkwardly.

“He was talking about the battle the other day with his eyes shining until he fell asleep.”

“I guess he’s still excited, huh?”

Gozu chuckled and stroked his chin with one hand.

In the previous battle, Ibuki was ambushed by a kijin and beaten up. Considering his age of four, it would not be surprising if he was frozen with fear and unable to speak.

However, Ibuki was full of energy, ignoring the worries of those around him. He ran around inside and outside the house, and had trouble falling asleep at night, making his mother struggle.

He truly inherited the blood of the sword saint – Gozu praised his nephew’s boldness, with a bit of bias.

There was other good news. It was that Ibuki had changed his view of Sora.

Until now, he had seen him as a “bad person who bullied Uncle Gozu”, and was so angry that he challenged Sora to a duel when he returned home. But after the attack, he seemed to have changed his perception to “someone I have to surpass someday”.

The way he defeated the group of kijin who ambushed him and the mythical creature that attacked him captivated the child’s mind and did not let go. According to Cecil, it looked like Sora had shown up to help Ibuki, and that might have touched him.

Gozu wanted to thank him for a word or two, but Sora left the island as if he didn’t want to stay long. To further add on, Ibuki looked very disappointed when he found out.

It might be time to talk about his brother Sora, whom he had not been able to talk about until now. Gozu and Cecil thought so.

However, if they talked about him, they would also have to talk about various things related to him. Why did his brother Sora leave the island? Why did his brother Sora “bully” Gozu?

He wouldn’t be able to understand those things even if they told them to a four-year-old. Besides, the Sima siblings themselves didn’t understand everything. The appearance and words of Sora since they met again crossed their minds.

Cecil opened her mouth, looking down.

“…Brother. Were we wrong?”

“If there was a mistake, it was that I couldn’t lead Sora-dono to the soul equipment. It’s not something Cecil should worry about.”

Gozu responded in a gentle voice to his sister’s whisper-like question.

It was a word to comfort his sister, but at the same time, it was Gozu’s true feeling.

Cecil regretted that she should have done something different when Sora was exiled.

But Gozu thought that there was no other way to do it at that time.

As a premise, Gozu did not think that Sora’s exile was a bad thing.

Considering the history of the Mitsurugi family, it was impossible for Sora to remain the heir if he could not surpass the trial. And it was obvious what kind of position Sora would be in if he lost his position as heir – and also that Sora would not be able to endure that situation.

If he had no place in the house, he had to look for a place outside the house. Shuuto was narrow, and people’s eyes would follow Sora wherever he went. In that case, he had no choice but to leave the island.

Exile may sound bad, but on the other hand, it was Shikibu’s mercy to tell him to live in a peaceful continent rather than on Demon Island, where powerful beasts roam. At least, that’s how Gozu interpreted that exile.

Of course, it was not an easy path. He knew that Sora was deeply hurt and afraid of being alone.

But once he became an adult, he had to take care of himself. If Gozu and Cecil were by his side, Sora would inevitably rely on them. Besides, if Gozu and Cecil had disobeyed the head’s order and followed Sora at that time, they would have been considered deserters of the Green Woods – and chased by pursuers.

The option of following Sora was a foolish act that would expose him to danger and trample on Shikibu’s foresight. There was no way they could choose that.

Cecil’s inner feelings were almost the same as this. One difference from Gozu was that she couldn’t go against Shikibu’s wish, who had taken a liking to her. Gozu had once turned his blade against Mitsurugi Shikibu. Shikibu forgave Gozu generously and even took care of the Sima siblings’ lives. Cecil had always been grateful to Shikibu, and that’s why she couldn’t disobey his order.

Gozu and Cecil didn’t tell Sora about these circumstances. They thought they shouldn’t say goodbye with regrets for the island. When Sora grew older and gained more experience, he would understand his father’s feelings – they hoped so as they saw Sora leave the island.

Five years passed, and Sora came back. With a fearsome power and a freezing gaze.

Cecil remembered the look in Sora’s eyes when he saw her, and shivered slightly.

If only it had been a look of resentment, she wouldn’t have been so shocked. She had been prepared to be hated by Sora as well, since she knew that he had cut down his brother.

But that was different. That was not a look of hatred or resentment.

Sora had no interest or curiosity in Cecil. He had no hatred or resentment either. He didn’t acknowledge her worth enough to direct his emotions at her.

That’s why she knew – she knew, and that’s why Cecil couldn’t talk to Sora much while he was on the island. It was unbearable to be looked at like a roadside pebble by Sora, who had loved her like a sister.

Gozu spoke quietly to his sister, who was pale and lost in thought.

“Cecil, don’t think too hard.”

“…But, brother.”

“Don’t worry, it will cloud your face. Ibuki will worry. You should rest soon.”

It’s no use regretting what can’t be undone. It only consumes you. Cecil nodded slightly, sensing her brother’s concern.

Her gaze turned to Gozu’s side. There was a wooden sword in the process of being made. It was obvious that it was for Ibuki, who had lost his wooden sword in the previous battle.

“Brother, you must be very busy. Are you sure?”

“Don’t worry, this is a way of relaxing for me.”

Gozu said with a smile. It would take a long time to repair the damaged walls. The kijin had just started to move. Some of the Green Woods Eight Banners were restless because Ragna, the heir, was defeated by a demon god, and that demon god was defeated by Sora, the former heir.

The real storm was yet to come. That was more than a guess for Gozu. That’s why he wanted to make a gift for his hard-working nephew before the storm arrived.


At the same time, at the Mitsurugi residence, Gilmore Berch was attending to his lord’s room and making a passionate argument.

His point was the punishment of Mitsurugi Sora.

It was not good to leave someone who openly declared that he would not follow the Mitsurugi family’s intentions.

He might be taken in by another country, or contacted by a noble of Adoastera who had a grudge against the Mitsurugi family. They needed to put Sora under the Mitsurugi family’s surveillance before that happened. He argued.

Gilmore, who had once followed Shikibu’s intention to “leave Sora alone”, had hardened his attitude toward Sora again after the attack.

What Gilmore feared most was the fact that Morgan Skyship, the head of the Skyship family, was at the scene where Sora defeated the demon god.

Morgan Skyship was a political enemy whom Gilmore had once kicked out. He still had influence, as can be seen from the fact that Shikibu entrusted him with the protection of his wife and concubines.

If Morgan spread Sora’s achievements, Ragna’s evaluation would inevitably decline, as he was defeated by a demon god. If Sora were to regain his position as heir, Gilmore, who had approached Ragna, would not escape decline either.

Gilmore tried to announce the details of the battle as follows, in order to seal Sora’s achievements.

Ragna was wounded by a demon god at the Mitsurugi residence, but at the same time he inflicted a fatal wound on the demon god. The demon god left the Mitsurugi residence because he ran away from Ragna. The demon god who fought with Sora was half-dead, and that’s why he could be killed by someone like Sora. In fact, it was Mitsurugi Ragna who defeated the demon god – Gilmore asked Shikibu for permission to make this announcement.



“…But, my lord. If we leave it like this, there may be unnecessary trouble over the position of heir. Now that the kijin have started to move, we should nip any elements that cause trouble in the house in the bud. That’s what I think.”

“No. For a warrior, defeat is something to be avoided, but not shameful. What is shameful for a warrior is not to be defeated, but to hide one’s defeat. If one loses and falls in evaluation, one should raise it by winning. Like someone who lost to a dragon fang soldier and raised his evaluation by defeating a demon god.”

Left alone, Shikibu muttered the words he had just uttered.

“Defeated by a dragon fang soldier and raising his evaluation by defeating a demon god, huh?”

The scene of the previous battle was vividly projected in Shikibu’s mind. The last thing he saw was the back of a black-haired young man who turned his back on him and left.

Shikibu lifted the corners of his lips. As if smiling, praising, or perhaps even mocking.

“-Splendid, Sora.”

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