V2 Chapter 75: Berch’s Feast

It was a garden of exquisite beauty.

The view was colored by the intermingling red and green leaves of autumn, and the sound of the flowing water into the pond tickled the ears.

The pouring sunlight was accompanied by a faint chill, clear and crisp. The water surface of the pond, reflecting the sunlight, shone like a gem.

The sound of a deer scarer rang out.

The wind playfully lifted fallen leaves, a few of which fluttered into the room through the opened sliding doors.

I picked up a maple leaf that had fallen onto the tatami, twirling it by the stem in my hand, and turned my gaze towards the host of the room.

At the end of my gaze, a tall man with a bamboo whisk – a tool for mixing matcha tea in a bowl – was silently preparing tea.

He was Dialt Berch, the Flag General of the First Banner.

His skin was as white as snow, and his black hair was glossy. His features were cool and sharp, and his entire being exuded the aura of an exceptional swordsman.

In the Eight Banners protecting Demon Island, each named for its number, there were indeed eight Flag Generals. Among them, Dialt of the First Banner possessed a distinctive martial power and authority. In times of crisis, Dialt, who would take over command of the Eight Banners from the head of the family, could effectively be said to be the number two in the Mitsurugi family.

Right now, Claira and I were in the middle of a feast given by Dialt.

What on earth had led to this situation?

I tilted my head in thought.

Well, all that happened was that when I boarded the ferry to Demon Island, Dialt was the one who came to greet us.

While we were heading towards Demon Island on the ship, Dialt stood at the prow, releasing his Kei in all directions, protecting the ship from the attack of sea monsters. It was what Gozu did when I came last time, and now Dialt did the same for us.

As I said during Gozu’s time, escorting the ferry is the role of ordinary warriors, and there is no need for a higher-ranking warrior to step forward. Because I am now akin to an Imperial emissary, it might be a show of consideration towards the Imperial family, but for the number two of the Mitsurugi family to appear without any attendants is utterly unusual.

It was natural to think that there was some intention behind it.

The problem was that I had no clue what that intention was. I thought for sure that someone like Gilmore had sent his child to cover up his blunder, but Dialt didn’t even draw his sword, let alone show a trace of hostility.

When I told him I came to pass through the Demon Gate, he simply nodded and said “I understand” with few words, and showed no other reaction.

Afterwards, when Claira and I landed on Demon Island, we followed Dialt to the Berch residence, but there was no move from him there either.

The reason why they were guided to the Berch family, not the Mitsurugi family, was explained. According to Dialt, the key members of the Mitsurugi family, including the Sword Saint, are all out at the moment.

The repair of the castle wall destroyed by the previous Kijin attack, the subjugation of the monsters approaching Shuuto, and the preparations against the Kijin tribe attacking Demon Gate. Currently, the Mitsurugi family is desperately short of hands, and for that reason, Dialt has taken over as head of the family to handle the hospitality.

–Honestly, I think this explanation is suspicious. More clearly, I’m cursing inside, “You’re lying, bastard.” I can’t even imagine that my father left the mansion to deal with the situation.

However, I didn’t specifically expose their lie. My goal is Klimt (and the monsters equivalent to mythical creatures) beyond the Demon Gate. If I can go through the Demon Gate without meeting my father or Ragna, there’s nothing better.

But well, even with the emperor’s permission, I thought the Mitsurugi family wouldn’t easily let outsiders through. There’s also the matter of Claira who escaped from the island. Whether they take the form of an attack or make us listen by blaming Claira’s sin, I assumed that at some point, the Mitsurugi family would make a move.

However, neither on the way to the Berch family, nor after arriving at the mansion, nor even after being guided to this room, there’s no sign of an assassin attacking. There’s no sign of blaming Claira, who should be a criminal.

Dialt, the host, although quiet, treats us with impeccable manners.

I secretly think it would be easier if he just attacked.

Considering Claira’s feelings, I can’t make the first move, but if they make a move, it’s a different story. To be honest, when I saw Dialt on the communication ship, I was drooling thinking it was a great opportunity to take down one of the top two.

Previously, when I came to this island to visit my mother’s grave, I didn’t think I could reach the Sword Saint, let alone the top two, but since then, I’ve eaten a Demon God, eaten a Behemoth, and my level has dramatically increased. I have no concerns about facing the top two now.

If Dialt attacked, I intended to repel it head-on. Pointing a blade at a person with a signet ring would be a huge loss for the Mitsurugi and Berch families. It might be possible to make a political deal to ignore Claira’s sin in exchange for not telling the emperor about the attack.

Despite thinking this way, when I opened the lid, I found myself in a room overlooking the garden, having tea made by Dialt. There’s nothing to do but tilt my head at this situation.

Claira is also here, but she’s been stiff as a stone statue next to me since earlier. She’s been like this since she saw her brother on the communication ship.

Dialt, for his part, seemed to be completely unconcerned about his sister.

Then, the sound of the tea whisk, which had been echoing pleasantly, stopped, and Dialt silently handed me a tea bowl.

I respectfully accepted the tea bowl. No matter what the thoughts are, while the other party is behaving politely, we must show the appropriate attitude. By the way, I learned tea manners when I was a kid. I thought I had completely forgotten, but when I actually sit down, I remember surprisingly well.

A rich aroma drifts from the bright green liquid.

At that moment, I remembered the ‘Divine Bug,’ Gilmore’s soul equipment, that Claira had told me about. An eight-legged insect with a jaw as strong as steel. The divine bug is flexible, and Gilmore likes to miniaturize it and implant it in others.

It would be difficult to notice if the divine bug was implanted in this tea–With that thought, I drank the contents of the tea bowl.

I’m not on guard. According to Claira, the divine bug that was implanted when she was put in jail was completely digested by the recovery potion of the ‘Blood Spraying Sword’ she drank when she escaped. From this, we can infer that the durability of the divine bug is quite low.

There is no way that something that disappears with a little healing potion containing my blood can get into my body. Naturally, normal poison doesn’t work on me either. There’s no need to worry about being poisoned.

Seeing me drink the tea without hesitation, Dialt narrowed his eyes slightly, but he didn’t voice any concerns.

After that, Dialt prepared tea for Claira too. Once he saw her trembling as she drank her tea, he slowly opened his mouth.

“Currently, the interior of the Demon Gate is very active with the Kijin tribe and it is quite dangerous. If you still wish to pass through the Demon Gate after knowing this, the Mitsurugi house will not stop you. Do as you wish.”

It was surprisingly easy to get my wish granted.

However, of course, Dialt’s words didn’t end there.

“However, if you intend to bring disadvantage to the Mitsurugi house after passing through the Demon Gate, that’s a different story. The king allowed you to pass through the Demon Gate, not to cause harm to the Mitsurugi house.”

Dialt stared at me with a piercing gaze. His clear and penetrating gaze made me think of a judge or interrogator more than a warrior.

Facing Dialt’s gaze head on, I lifted the corner of my mouth and said,

“I have no such intention.”

There’s no need to add the truth that at least for now.

Dialt nonchalantly nodded at my words.

“As someone who has been entrusted with the king’s trust, I’ll believe you. However, your actions, being ignorant about the situation at the Demon Gate, could unintentionally bring harm to the Mitsurugi house. To prevent such an occurrence, the Mitsurugi house has decided to allocate a person. This is also special consideration for you who have won the trust of the king. Please understand that.”

Dialt said that he would assign a Green Woods Warrior to me. He said it was a favor to me who has the recognition ring, so I shouldn’t refuse.

I shrugged my shoulders. Whether they’re a watchdog or assassin, or there’s another intention, I don’t know, but in any case, if I refused, my companion would just turn into a tracker.

“I understand. I appreciate your family’s generosity.”

If I rejected their offer here and they were to say ‘then we can’t let you pass through the Demon Gate’, it would be a bother.

For Claira’s sake, and until I find Klimt, I’ll behave. Depending on who the companion is though, I might not be able to… but surely it wouldn’t be Ragna or Ayaka. Thinking that, I tried to ask Dialt the name of the companion.

However, Dialt stood up before I opened my mouth and quietly said,

“I’ll introduce you to your companion later. Until then, please enjoy your stay in our house and rest from your journey.”

Having finished his words, Dialt left the room without waiting for our response.

Realizing that throwing questions at his back wouldn’t get me any answers, I silently watched as he left.


A good minute had passed since Dialt’s figure disappeared, and it was then that Claira, who had been sitting upright until then, slumped her body onto the tatami mats, both hands supporting her.

Her brother wasn’t coming back and it seemed the tension had finally gotten to her. I wondered how much strain she was under, as I spoke to her.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, somehow…”

Claira answered in a faint voice. Then, as if pulling herself together, she raised her chin and looked at me with a gaze mixed with seriousness and anxiety.

“Um, Lord Dialt did not touch upon my circumstances. What does that mean?”

“For now, it probably means they’re watching.”

As long as there was a chance that I had asked the Emperor to acquit Claira, the Mitsurugi house could not rashly accuse her. If they did, it would mean they were objecting to the verdict issued by the Emperor.

Inevitably, they also couldn’t force me to “obey the instructions of the Mitsurugi house in exchange for acquitting Claira.”

In reality, since the Emperor did not mention the crime of fleeing the island, Claira Berch was still officially a criminal, but I was the only one who knew that. It would be immediately clear if they inquired in the capital, but as long as this bluff doesn’t get revealed before we pass through the dangerous area, that’s fine. One of the reasons I brought Claira with her face unveiled was to give the Mitsurugi house this suspicion.

I could explain this to Claira, but this is the Berch’s mansion. You never know who might be listening in the shadows. There’s nothing on my radar at the moment, but it wouldn’t be wise to casually reveal our information.

When I gave a slight wink, Claira seemed to belatedly realize the possibility of eavesdropping. With a start, she closed her mouth and bowed her head apologetically.

“I’m sorry.”

After a while, a voice like that accompanied the appearance of a Berch household member, who then guided us to a detached room.

According to Claira, this annex is used to accommodate guests. Indeed, the furnishings in the room were splendid and the cleaning was thorough. The garden around also showed a refined atmosphere, no different from the garden we saw earlier.

The Berch’s servant bowed politely, said to call if we needed anything, and left the room. There were drinks and tea sweets ready on the table. The meal that followed was indeed lavish. I declined the bath that was offered after dinner, but the thorough hospitality made me chuckle inadvertently.

It was a fresh experience to see the Berch family going to such lengths for me.

“Are they trying to win me over, or are they just trying to lull me into a false sense of security?”

Normally, you’d think the latter, but it’s curious that Flag General Dialt moved to lull me into a false sense of security. If the Mitsurugi house was serious about getting rid of me and Claira, they wouldn’t resort to such roundabout means; they would attack us head-on.

As for the former, it doesn’t fit quite right either. Considering the past events, it is impossible for me to build a friendly relationship with either the Mitsurugi house or the Berch house. They must be aware of that too.

“Hmm? Could it be… Is that where Claira comes in?”

I turned my thoughts to the possibility that someone, having noticed the connection between Claira and me due to the recent hostage incident, is scheming to use that to rope me in.

Indeed, to an outsider, I – who had accepted Claira after her escape from the island and was running around to fulfill her wish to help her brother Klimt – must look like I am infatuated with her.

If Claira and I were to get together, inevitably, a connection would also form with the Berch family. If this speculation is accurate, it may be that come nighttime, the futons of Claira and I will be laid out perfectly, without any gaps between them.

When I glanced at Claira, it seemed that she was looking back at me at the same time, and our eyes met perfectly.

“Sir Sora, do you need something?”

“Ah, no…”

Just as I was about to answer ‘nothing’, a voice from a housekeeper came from beyond the sliding door.

Its content was a notification: Dialt would be arriving soon, accompanied by Ursula, one of the Golden Generation.

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