Chapter 3: Extreme Point

The great hall was the largest space in the Mitsurugi mansion. It was so spacious that even if you crammed in the lord, the Twin Peaks, the Four Lords, the Eight Banners, and the other important people of Demon Island, there would still be room left.

The moment I stepped into the great hall, which was covered with tatami mats, all eyes present turned to me.

At that moment, what flashed through my mind was the trial ceremony five years ago. The mockery, contempt, pity, and indifference that I received from those around me when I was disowned by my father and banished from Demon Island. They replayed in my head one after another.

That hateful memory.

The memory that made me groan and clutch my head every time I recalled it over these five years.


I brushed it off with a single breath and casually stepped into the hall.

Seeing me like that, Gozu made a relieved smile. In the past, I always shrank when I faced my father or my fellow disciples. He must have been happy to see the growth that allowed me to easily repel their gazes.

“Now, Sora-dono, please proceed to the lord’s presence. Everyone has been waiting for you.”

Gozu spoke as if everyone had gathered to welcome me. Hearing that, I gave a wry smile.

There was no way that such a distinguished group of people would gather for me alone.

They had not gathered for me, but for my mother. On Demon Island, it was common for the family to mourn the deceased on their death anniversary, and this was in line with the teachings of the temple of Law that covered the continent.

Mitsurugi Shizuya was the legal wife of Mitsurugi Shikibu, the Sword Saint of this generation, a great noble of the Adoastera Empire. On her death anniversary, all her subjects would gather and pay their respects. That’s how it was until I left the island.

To most of the people gathered here, I was nothing but an intruder who appeared on the death anniversary. If they were waiting for anything, it was not for me, but for this farce to end.

Thinking that, I walked past the courtiers who lined up on both sides and headed for the lord. Along the way, I spotted a few familiar faces, but I felt no ripple in my heart. And even if I received curious or hostile or blatantly appraising gazes, I didn’t feel my heart shrink like before.

Looking down, shrinking my shoulders, hunching my back, and walking were things of the past. I walked with my chest out, my chin tucked in and looking straight ahead. Some of them looked as if they wanted to say “Oh” at me, but—again, it didn’t matter to me.

I sat down at the designated position. Still kneeling, I bowed to the lord and heard a familiar voice from above.

“――It’s been a while, Sora.”

The first words from my father in five years. His voice was devoid of warmth, but also of any malice.

It may sound like a decent response when I say it like this, but there is no goodwill, nor malice. In other words, it means indifference.

His heavy, cold, and dry voice hasn’t changed at all since five years ago.

How many times did I shiver at this voice that doesn’t carry any emotion?

How many times did I flinch at this gaze that looks at me like a roadside stone?

Perhaps in my father’s eyes, I look the same now as I did five years ago. He may not even bother to tell the difference. Like a god who looks down on the masses from the heavens, he speaks to me while sitting aloof. There is not a trace of paternal affection in him.

――Well, I don’t feel any nostalgia or resentment towards my father whom I meet for the first time in five years either, so maybe we are alike in some sense.

I replied to the head of the Mitsurugi family calmly.

“Long time no see, Your Excellency.”

“It seems you have continued your training even after leaving the island.”

“Yes, sir.”

Afterwards, there were several more questions, but I continued to answer them all in silence. There was no need to hide anything. When asked if it was true that I alone took down a dragon species, I honestly affirmed it.

The reaction from those around me was not one of admiration, but rather a mix of bitter smiles, sneers, and mockery directed at those who boasted without any real ability.

This alone revealed my position on Demon Island. As expected, the reports from Gozu and the Berch siblings were not taken seriously.

That is why the Four Flags were sent. Despite Klaira’s quick thinking, the Four Flags must have returned to the island, but their reports did not seem to be heard by those present.

It would be too much trouble to send another assassin, so perhaps they were considering shedding my disguise when I came here to my mother’s anniversary ceremony.

There was a person who moved as if to confirm this speculation.

“Excuse me, my lord, may I speak?”

“You may, Gilmore.”

One of the four lords, Shito Gilmore Berch, stepped forward, shaking his white beard. He glanced at me with a glare, and the head of the Berch family began to speak eloquently as if he was impressed.

“The words of the empty lord just now were truly splendid. It is a truly astonishing feat to slay a dragon species by yourself. My children Claira, Klimt, and Gozu Sima, who are the flag bearers, could not match you. I can’t help but admire how far you have come in just five years, after being called a disgrace of the golden generation and unable to surpass even the trial ceremony.”

As if to harmonize with Gilmore’s eloquence, a roar of laughter erupted from the courtiers who were sitting in rows. It was half contempt for me and half flattery for the head of the Berch family, who had a momentum to shoot down any flying bird on Demon Island.

But well, it’s refreshing how blatantly he provoked me. It’s not very lordly to expose his inner thoughts so openly.

I believe that the true mark of a member of the Mitsurugi family, one of the Four Nobles at the pinnacle of the family’s culture, is to approach and speak kindly to even those they dislike. However, it must have been unbearable for Gilmore to see both promising adopted children defeated.

Or perhaps he is trying to appeal to the next heir, Ragna, by directing insults at me, and at the same time provoking someone like Gozu.

It seems more likely to be the latter. According to a story I heard from Claira in Ishka, the Berch family seems to be quite cold internally. It would make more sense to think that they are working towards expanding their own power rather than seeking revenge for their injured adopted children.

As I pondered these thoughts in silence, Gilmore looked at me with a smirk. Perhaps he thought that I was shrinking in the face of the situation, as I had done five years ago. He continued speaking in a relaxed manner.

“In that case, I humbly suggest that we change the content of the scheduled trial that was to be held with your grace’s mercy. For someone like Sora, who has slain a dragon, fighting against dragon tooth soldiers would be too trivial. I believe we should have him face the Earth Spider instead.”

As soon as Gilmore spoke, the hall shook with a rustle. Unlike earlier, when he had underestimated me, this time the commotion showed genuine surprise.

“We have already prepared everything. Today is an important day to mourn the late Lady Shizuka’s soul, so it is crucial that we quickly take care of our business,” Gilmore said.

Gozu was the one who reacted to Gilmore’s words. He opened his mouth forcefully, with an expression that clearly contained anger.

“Wait! I have never heard of using a Earth spider for a trial. Moreover, Sora has just come a long way to visit today. It would be unreasonable to expect him to participate in the trial without rest. If you understand that today is an important day, the trial should be postponed to another day!”

“Of course, if I were facing an ordinary person, I would not say such things, Gozu Sima. However, Sora is a master who has defeated mythical creature single-handedly, despite not having formally learned the Phantom Blade Style. Why should we impose the same conditions on a master like him as we do on ordinary people? And even for Sora, wouldn’t you want to finish such trivial matters quickly and mourn your mother’s soul with peace of mind?”

With those words, Gilmore smiled wryly at me.

“How are you, Sora? There is no way that someone who has killed a dragon would fear something like a Earth spider. I’m sure you agree with me, but… of course, assuming that you haven’t been playing games and lying to the lord of the castle.”


“What’s wrong? I was just joking around. But if you really have lied to the lord of the castle, then I won’t say anything. You should apologize to the lord of the castle and everyone gathered here immediately. This is a sacred gathering of the noble Mitsurugi family, and we cannot allow even a single word of jest.”

As Gilmore finished speaking, the hall fell into silence.

Feeling the gaze of everyone in the room on me, I closed my mouth and then my eyes, barricading myself in silence.

Every passing second, the atmosphere around me became more oppressive. The air was sharp and biting. If someone were to shout in anger, I would be swallowed up by the fury of the warriors in an instant.

Even knowing that, I kept my mouth shut.

One second, two seconds, three seconds, four seconds… When I suddenly opened my eyes, even Gilmore, who was supposed to be the instigator, was showing signs of impatience. I thought I had only two choices: to panic and act tough or to admit my fault and grovel, but he couldn’t understand how I could sit there calmly without showing any fear.

It seems that Lord Shito didn’t assume that my dragon-slaying achievements were true. With that realization, just before the anger around me exploded, I calmly asked Gilmore without any emotion, as I had once asked my father.

“Is that all you wanted to say,  Lord Shito?”

“What do you mean?”

“I asked if that was all you had to say. As you said just now, Lord Shito, I want to finish this trivial matter as soon as possible and mourn my mother’s death without any worries. Therefore, I don’t have time to listen to your sarcasm in small doses. If you have something to say, say it all at once. And when you’re done, say you’re done. I’ll ask you again. Is that all you have to say, Gilmore Berch?”

“…Oh, I see. It seems that Sora has forgotten his manners towards his superiors over the past five years. As the eldest son of the Mitsurugi family, he may have lacked in strength, personality, and character, but he had at least one virtue: proper etiquette. It seems he’s lost even that one redeeming quality.”

“If Lord Shito says so, then it must be true. I thought I had been showing enough courtesy, but if I have been rude, then I apologize.”

“I see–“

“Oh, and one more thing.”

I continued speaking, cutting off the other person’s objection.

“If it was a Earth spider, I can take care of it soon enough. As I’ve said, I want to finish these trivial tasks as soon as possible. Joking about spending the night here is not funny.”

In response to Gozu’s assertion, I rejected it outright. At the same time, I could see the expression on Gilmore’s face change, a mix of surprise and displeasure at being interrupted by someone like me.

For a moment, Gilmore seemed unsure which to say, but he must have had a desire not to waste time with someone as insignificant as me.

Immediately, he nodded dramatically and said, “Very well then, with the permission of the Lord of the Mansion, let us proceed with the test. Is that acceptable?”

“No, before that, I have one question to ask,” I protested, objecting to Gilmore’s attempt to finish the matter. Clear frustration now appeared on Gilmore’s face.

“What, are you still playing games?”

“You are the one playing games. Your condition was, ‘If you have the strength to defeat a dragon species, then one or two Kijin will not be a problem.’ If you want me to prove that strength, then I have no problem fighting a land spider. However, that has nothing to do with the test. I have no intention of joining the Phantom Blade Style or submitting to the Mitsurugi family.”

“What…did you say?”

Gilmore’s blank expression was probably something I had never seen before in my life. It was probably the same for most of the people there.

Although it was a rare spectacle, unfortunately, I was probably the only one who could enjoy it. Everyone, including Gilmore, was staring blankly.

The only person who hadn’t changed his expression was my father sitting directly in front of me, and even the twin gems sitting on either side of him were only slightly moving their expressions.

Most of the people present, including Gilmore, do not believe that I have defeated a mythical creature. In other words, they think that I am returning to the Mitsurugi family with false achievements. Even those who give some credibility to Gozu’s report probably have not changed their perception of my intentions.

I directly denied such speculation from these people, resulting in this silence.

Then, a muffled voice came from behind.

” -Sora-dono.”

“What is it, Lord Sima?”

“As I said in Ishka, I have already reported that Sora-dono has achieved Soul Equipment. And as one who has mastered it, you cannot be kept outside the Mitsurugi family’s protection. However, if Sora-dono can qualify as a warrior of the Green Woods flag, the situation will change.”


“As you know, some of the Green Woods warriors are engaged in activities outside the island, and your lord’s idea is to welcome you as one of them. If you achieve merit outside the island, I believe that one day you will be able to officially call yourself a Mitsurugi!”

“I see. In other words, the Mitsurugi family used me as a pawn. Although they wrote in a letter that if I prove my strength, my wishes will be granted, in reality, they say that my wishes will not be granted unless I become a vassal.”

“Sora! This arrangement is your lord’s utmost mercy, so please accept it with gratitude…!”

Ignoring Gozu, who was trying to explain with great effort, I waved my right hand without turning back.

“Ah, I’m sorry. Did I say too much? It doesn’t matter, Lord Sima. I expected this to happen anyway.”

” … Sora?”

“The Mitsurugi family follows the rule of the Demon gods’ seal, and they believe that in order to achieve their goals, even lying and killing can be justifiable strategies. Therefore, what you did as Ishka is not considered any different from their approach.”


I could sense a stunned atmosphere, but I wonder what they were surprised about. Did they think I was different from Gilmore?

Well, whatever. As I said before, I already expected this to happen anyway.

Taking advantage of the stunned silence around me, I looked at the warriors gathered in this place once again. I watched the Sword Saint, the Twin peaks, the Four Lords, and the Eight Banners. I saw the essence of the martial and literary arts of the Mitsurugi family gathered in this place.

And I thought to myself, “They are strong.”

Indeed, they were the elite of the Mitsurugi family. Even if the me from five years ago was crushed by fear when surrounded by such people, it was no wonder.

Especially the Sword Saint, it made me feel like I was looking up at the peak of a white mountain floating in the distant clouds, a sensation like that.

A high peak, like a tower reaching into the sky. The extreme of a divine realm that humans cannot reach, a realization that even with a dragon, one cannot compare.

However, even so…

…I certainly saw it.

My throat trembled naturally with a chuckle.

I felt more joy than when I cut down Gozu, trampled Klimt, or devoured Claira. Depending on the situation, I felt even more joy than when I defeated the mythical creature Hydra.

I saw the peak that I could never see five years ago. I saw the Sword Saint’s peak, which was beyond the Twin Blades.

It was proof that these five years were not wasted.

And there was one more thing I realized. Perhaps the Sword Saint, the Mitsurugi Shibu, had not grown at all during these five years.

The extreme was the last point that a soul equipment user could reach, beyond which there was nothing.

In other words, it means reaching the limit of growth. There is no room for growth for those who have blossomed a hundred talents to the fullest.

To break free from this state, the only way is to increase their level. However, what is necessary for a level-up is “an opponent stronger than oneself.”

But where in the world could there be an opponent stronger than the Sword Saint? The strongest because there is no one stronger than oneself. The title of the strongest belongs to those who cannot level up any further.

Perhaps, if it were a mythical creature, it could raise the Sword Saint’s level.

However, even I, who defeated Hydra, cannot reach the level of the Sword Saint. As for mythical creatures that could raise the Sword Saint’s level, perhaps―― Ah, perhaps――

―― There may be nothing except for a dragon that could kill a god.

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