Chapter 5: Promise

Let’s go back a little in time.

After Sora bowed to the head of the family, Shikibu, and left with a gust of wind over his shoulder, Gilmore Berch directed his suppressed voice at his lord in the great hall.

“…My lord. Is it all right not to punish that rude fellow?”

Gilmore had expected Shikibu’s anger to strike Sora like thunder upon hearing his previous remarks – he had even smirked at the thought – but to his surprise, Shikibu casually allowed Sora to leave.

A vassal cannot stop someone whom his lord has permitted to leave. Gilmore’s voice was low with anger at Sora’s rudeness and hesitation at not being able to grasp Shikibu’s true intentions.

To this question, Shikibu nodded casually without thinking.

“It’s fine.”

“But, my lord. That would not set an example for the rest of the house. If it is for the sake of Demon gods’ seal, even lying and killing can be justifiable strategies, and so on… That was as good as spitting on our aspirations, wasn’t it?”

As if in agreement with Gilmore’s argument, angry voices rose from all over the hall. Some were flattering Gilmore, but more prevalent was the anger at Sora’s arrogance.

Five years ago, the Mitsurugi family disowned Sora and banished him from Demon Island. He should never have been able to cross the threshold of this mansion again. And yet, Shikibu, the head of the family, had specially lifted these two punishments, and even declared that he would add him to the last seat of the Eight Flags by means of a trial ceremony.

It was an exceptional measure for a banished person.

But Sora, who should have been grateful for this offer, dismissed it as if it were a pebble on the road. And on top of that, he uttered those vulgar words that Gilmore had mentioned.

Even if they were not warriors of the Berch family, they could not help but feel angry and disgusted.

――However, the angry voices that rose at this time did not grow loud enough to overwhelm the hall. This was because Mitsurugi Shikibu, who sat at the head of the table, showed no reaction to his subordinates’ dissatisfaction.

The growing commotion gradually subsided, leaving behind confusion and suspicion in the great hall. Both were directed towards the castle lord. What was going through his mind? This was the shared thought among the warriors present.

Even Gilmore, who was skilled in understanding the lord’s intentions, was not exempt from this feeling.

For Gilmore, who considered himself the chief retainer of the Mitsurugi family, this incident had not been interesting from the beginning. The exceptional treatment given to Sora was a clear indication of the lord’s trust in Gozu Shima, which he understood.

The lord had fully believed the outrageous report that Gozu had brought back from the Kingdom of Canaria. That’s why he allowed Sora to leave.

Gilmore wondered if the lord would have believed his report if he were in Gozu’s position. The answer was no.

Despite their current status and power, in terms of the lord’s trust, Gilmore Berch was not on the same level as Gozu Shima.

If Gozu continued to support Sora like this, Sora might actually make a comeback as the legitimate heir. If that happened, the Berch family, who had formed a friendship with Ragna, would deviate from the Mitsurugi mainstream and fall into decline.

But Gilmore had no intention of letting that happen. That was why he had been present today, being especially harsh towards Sora due to this background.

Of course, as Gilmore, he had no intention of actively provoking the displeasure of his lord, so he had planned to remain silent if the lord truly wished for Sora’s return.

However, the lord did not show any displeasure towards Gilmore’s verbal attack on Sora, nor did he show any signs of stopping him. At some point, Gilmore wondered if the lord had planned to dispose of the Mitsurugi’s failure during this opportunity and intentionally stirred up Sora even more.

As a result, the perfect opportunity to execute Sora had presented itself, but the lord had not taken action and allowed Sora to leave.

Gilmore was left bewildered about the lord’s intentions.

Then, the lord addressed Gilmore.

“Is the preparation for the trial ceremony complete, Gilmore?”

“Y-Yes, as you command.”

“Then, the ceremony will be held in half a bell (30 minutes) from now. Prepare yourself.”

“Understood, but earlier Sora said that he had no intention of learning the Phantom Blade Style or returning to the Mitsurugi family. What should we do about that?”

“His intentions are irrelevant at this point. There is a user of the Phantom Blade Style who has completed the trial ceremony in the Canaria Kingdom – that fact alone is sufficient.”

After hearing this, Gilmore’s eyes widened, then he lowered his head deeply.

Next, the lord called out the name of Gozu, who was silently bowing his head. When called by his lord, Gozu furrowed his brow for a moment, then immediately spoke firmly.



“Tell Sora what we just did.”


Quickly standing up, Gozu left the great hall following Sora. He was heading towards the guest room, but given Sora’s behavior earlier, there was a possibility that he might have already left the mansion.

To leave the island, one must wait for a ferry, but Sora might be able to return to the continent on his own. If that’s the case, Gozu would have to hurry and catch up.

As he naturally began to walk faster, Gozu was called out from the side before he could reach the guest room. It was his little sister, Cecil, who appeared in a state of extreme agitation.

“Big brother!”

“Cecil? What’s wrong, you look so flustered.”

“I can’t find Ibuki!”


Even though he inherited the blood of the sword saint, Ibuki, who was not yet a warrior, did not have the qualification to attend the great hall.

The reason why he had dressed Ibuki in formal attire was because he had planned to introduce him to Sora after the audience was over.

Mitsurugi Emma, Shikibu’s legal wife, and Cecil, his concubine, were running around inside and outside the mansion preparing for the memorial service that would follow, and there was a timing when Ibuki would inevitably be left alone.

He seemed to have taken advantage of that gap.

Ibuki was a mischievous child, but he rarely disobeyed what the adults told him. And it was not as if he had been left alone for a moment or two. It was understandable that Cecil was panicked.

――It was unlikely that any rogue would sneak into the Mitsurugi’s main residence.

Gozu started to walk quickly, deep in thought. Cecil hurried after her brother.

There are criminals in the hollyhock city, but there are hardly any who would dare to sneak into the Mitsurugi family. He thought that Ibuki probably left on his own, but he couldn’t think of a reason why his nephew would disappear against his mother’s orders.

He didn’t want to think about it, but there was a possibility that a monster or a spy from another country who was good at hiding had infiltrated. He decided to inform Sora of the time of the trial ceremony first, and then look for clues – that’s what he was thinking when he turned the corner leading to the guest room.

“Hey! Hey! Damn it!”

“What’s wrong, user of the Snake King Sword? Is this the extent of your ultimate peerless swordsmanship?”

“Shut up! Hey! Hey! Hey!”

Ibuki and Sora were sparring in the courtyard.

How did this happen, Gozu wondered in astonishment.

The expression on Sora’s face, who was sparring with Ibuki, was something that Gozu had never seen before since their reunion in Ishka.

――No, even five years ago, Sora never smiled so calmly. When was the last time he saw Sora’s smile from the bottom of his heart?

He was appalled at himself for not even remembering such a thing.

Behind him, Cecil let out a small “ah…” as if she was moved. She was happy that her son was safe, but that was not all. The sight before her eyes was the very dream that the Sima siblings had wished for with all their hearts, but had almost given up on.

Whether he noticed her sigh, or had sensed their presence from the beginning. Sora glanced at Gozu and his sister, and spoke to the small swordsman in front of him.

“Hmm. It seems that this is it.”

“Hmm, are you running away!?”

“Let’s call it a draw for today, Snake King Sword user.”


Ibuki puffed up his cheeks and looked clearly dissatisfied..

To Ibuki, Sora sat down and matched his eye level before continuing.

“Let’s call it a draw for today. So, let’s settle this next time.”


“Yeah. Let’s fight again when you become an adult. Until then, do your best to get stronger. You know yourself that you can’t reach me with your current strength, right?”

“Hmm, you said it! Okay, then I’ll definitely, definitely beat you next time we fight! So you better fight me properly, it’s a promise!”

“Yeah, it’s a promise – look, your mother and the others are coming.”

As he said that and jerked his chin, Ibuki turned around and brightened his expression. He ran up to Gozu and his sister with light footsteps.

After watching his back for a while, Sora raised his eyes as Ibuki clung to Gozu’s leg.

――In the blink of an eye, frost had fallen on his gaze.

“Did you get the time, Sima-dono?”

Not only his gaze, but also his voice was cold as ice. It was clear from hearing his voice to Ibuki just before, the despairing difference in temperature.

A block of ice slid down the back of one of the best warriors of the Mitsurugi family.

“Th-the lord said it would be a quarter of an hour later.”

“He gave us time for the grave visit. Let’s thank him for his consideration.”

“W-wait! The memorial service for Lady Seiya will be held from noon――”

There was no reply to Gozu’s voice.

Sora quickly turned on his heels and disappeared in an instant, as if he had no use for the people here.

He probably used Kei. It was such a quick move that Ibuki, who was clinging to Gozu, widened his eyes.

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