Chapter 4: A Painful Strike

“As the saying goes, ‘It’s easier to give birth than to worry about it.'”

Leaving the grand hall, I murmured with great satisfaction and a slight sense of relief.

Before confronting the Sword Saints, I had assumed the worst: that they would have become stronger just as I had. I knew the possibility of that happening, especially considering Gozu, Klimt, Claira, and the others. Even though I knew it was highly unlikely, my memories from five years ago kept whispering that possibility to me.

But after actually facing them, all of those worries vanished into thin air. On top of that, the strongest Sword Saint of the Mitsurugi family hadn’t grown at all since five years ago, which was an extra source of joy.

If I couldn’t be happy about that, then what could I be happy about?

And that wasn’t all. This state of affairs would remain unchanged no matter how many years passed from now on. Because the Mitsurugi-style Sword Saint couldn’t move from that pinnacle of power.

On the other hand, I could move forward as much as I wanted. As someone who could devour the souls of others to grow stronger, I had no shackles such as “I have to defeat enemies stronger than myself.”

“This fact clearly demonstrates its meaning.”

I couldn’t help letting out a small laugh. I could hear the commotion and angry voices of the people gathered in the grand hall behind me, but it didn’t bother me much.

Well, setting aside the talk about the trial, I’ll fight the Earth Spider. I’m not obligated to follow the conditions they imposed on their own, but I do need to fulfill the agreed-upon condition of proving my strength.

And if the Mitsurugi family tries to force me into submission or lays a hand on Suzume, then I won’t hesitate to devour – no, to kill them.

It would be troublesome to face the Sword Saints or the Twin Gems right now, but for someone who was discarded as weak five years ago, it’s also an honor. If those three hadn’t deemed me as someone beyond their handling, I wouldn’t find myself in this position.

“Hmph. Well, that’s assuming those three have the time to deal with me.”

Saying that, I reminisced about the events that took place on this island. The chaos in the previous kingdom of Canaria was quite something, but it seems that the same thing is happening on Demon Island as well. This situation won’t concern Suzume or me, and it’s likely to unfold soon.

Of course, this is just a guess – or rather, a baseless intuition. That’s why I won’t give any warnings or advice. The premonition I sensed is probably insignificant to the Mitsurugi family, who have been guarding the demon gate for three hundred years.

With a sarcastic smile on my lips, I returned to the guest room I had been assigned to. Well, I tried to.

However, someone blocked my path.

The person blocking my way was quite small. Even smaller than the three little brats with Sarah the priestess.

He looked to be about four or five years old. Despite his size, he wore a proper haori and hakama, and his appearance with a wooden sword strapped to his waist was quite a dignified warrior style. The Mitsurugi family’s crest was on his haori, so there was no doubt that he was a child of this family.

That’s all well and good. It’s not strange for there to be a child of the Mitsurugi family in the Mitsurugi residence.

The issue, however, was the child glaring at me with intense indignation. Also, why is he wearing a sash over his haori? It should be tied after taking off the haori…

On closer inspection, it seems that he tied it himself, and the knot is very unreliable. I’m worried that it will come undone immediately, although it’s not my problem.

As I was thinking about that, the small black-haired swordsman opened his mouth while staring at me sharply.

“I am Mitsurugi Ibuki! I challenge you to a duel… a duel, um, entrust…entrustment!”


When a child younger than himself suddenly challenged him to a duel, what kind of answer should he give?

I crouched down to meet the eye level of my challenger and responded to his introduction by introducing myself as well.

“I am Sora. So, Ibuki, the little swordsman. Why do you want to duel with me?”

“Because you bullied Uncle Gozu! This is a rightful revenge!”


Uncle Gozu, huh…

He might just be Gozu’s disciple or something, but considering he introduced himself with the Mitsurugi surname…

“You also made my mother sad!”

“… Is your mother’s name Lady Cecil?”

He pulled out his wooden sword from its scabbard and pointed it at me, shouting, “Let’s do it! Let’s fight now!”

The wooden sword that the boy was holding was exquisitely crafted, despite its small size. Come to think of it, Gozu was good at making such handicrafts. I remembered this fact and lifted the corners of my lips ironically.

――If I didn’t do that, I would have burst out laughing like before without any other intention.

The boy didn’t notice my inner thoughts and repeated his words, “What’s wrong? Draw your sword! You can’t kill someone without drawing it!”

Sometimes, he spoke in an oddly formal tone, as if reciting a phrase from a storybook that his mother had read to him. It was a line that sounded like something a protagonist would say in a story.

Well, what should I do?

“I’m seriously contemplating my stance towards the half-brother before me.

To be honest, I don’t feel much affinity for the existence of a half-brother. After all, because my father had affairs with various women, even before leaving the island, I had a number of half-brothers and half-sisters that could fill both hands. And most of them, we didn’t even exchange words, let alone meet face to face.

Even if one or two siblings were added at this point, there was no way I could feel any kinship.

However, if I looked at them not as “half-brothers and sisters” but as “Gozu’s nephew” or “Cecil’s child”, there were some things I thought about. I have many thoughts about the two of them, but I couldn’t bring myself to treat this child coldly.

Moreover, it’s natural for this child to be angry with me, who knocked down “Uncle Gozu” and made “Mother” sad. Even I, at this age, would have challenged my opponent to one or two duels if I were

Oh well, there’s no helping it. I’ll have to take him on. I think to myself with a wry smile.

“Prepare yourself! What you’re about to witness is the forbidden power of the dragon!”


Suddenly, a familiar line of dialogue enters my ears.

While I’m struggling with my inexplicable anxiety, the young swordsman in front of me continues his monologue.

“Expel demons and slay the gods! The ultimate peerless sword technique of Musou!”

“Wait, hold on–“

“Its name is the Flame-Killing Sword!”


I was struck precisely in my old wound in the heart, and I couldn’t help but clutch my chest and cower in pain.

The little swordsman seemed to think that was the effect of his introduction, and proudly puffed out his chest.

“Are you afraid, villain?”

“Cough, cough!”

As I cowered, spit got caught in my throat and I couldn’t stop coughing.

Perhaps my face looked too pained, as Ibuki withdrew his smug expression and asked me worriedly,

“Um… are you okay, old man?”


In a way, that was the finishing blow, and I finally fell to my knees and collapsed.

It was a fatal and unexpected blow.

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