Chapter 8: Collapse

“He’s strong. I didn’t doubt Klimt and the others’ reports, but I didn’t expect him to be this formidable.”

A voice of admiration escaped Sidney Skyship as he watched the fight between Sora and the Earth Spider.

Sora, who was in front of Sidney’s eyes, had not summoned his soul equipment. He was not using any kei techniques. In fact, he had not even drawn his sword at his waist. Nevertheless, he was overwhelming the Earth Spider.

To be precise, Sora was only dodging the Earth Spider’s attacks, so it might be wrong to say that he was overwhelming it. But Sidney had no other way to describe it.

After all, Sora had hardly moved from the center of the arena. At first, he used kei-based footwork to keep his distance from the Earth Spider, but as time passed, he stopped going out of the Earth Spider’s attack range.

Now, every time the Earth Spider attacked, its claws grazed Sora’s clothes――but that was all. The storm-like onslaught could not inflict any wounds on Sora. The gap between the two was that wide.

This was not only Sidney’s thought. The people around him also had the same or similar thoughts as Sidney.

“Ha ha, amazing, amazing. That empty bastard is playing with the Earth Spider!”

Next to Sidney, Kumon Sai was clapping his hands and laughing happily. It was a very frivolous behavior, but in fact, his eyes were sharp and pointed like needles, observing Sora’s every move.

Known as the ‘Newbie Killer’ on Demon Island, the Earth Spider often ambushed young trial passers of the Green Woods Eight Banners, biting off heads or tearing bodies apart with its sharp claws.

There were also other causes of death, such as being sprayed with venom from its mouth and dissolved to the bone, being immobilized by its thread and dragged into its nest, and being used as food. The causes of death by the Earth Spider were diverse.

One of the conditions for graduating from being treated as a newbie was to defeat an Earth Spider alone. There were even warriors who set that as a condition.

Even veterans could fall victim to the Earth Spider. This intelligent creature sometimes formed groups and set traps for its prey. There were even individuals among the Earth Spiders that faced soul equipment users who tried to use wounded warriors as shields to block their opponents’ movements.

Sora was dealing with such a creature without using his soul equipment or kei techniques. Anyone who could not understand Sora’s strength by seeing this would surely be judged as unqualified to be a Green Woods warrior.

Thinking that, Sai slapped Klimt’s shoulder hard and repeatedly.

“I’m sorry for doubting you, Klimt. He’s the real deal――whether he killed the Hydra or not.”

His apology was sincere, a rarity for Sai.

While thinking that, Klimt snorted and exhaled from his nose.

“…I don’t care. It’s none of my business what you think of that empty guy, Sora.”

“That’s true. Well, maybe this will make more people reconsider Sima and your siblings’ reports. If that happens, Claira’s suspension will be lifted soon.”

The moment the word “suspension” came out of Sai’s mouth, Klimt reflexively stiffened his face.

Before Sora’s return, Claira Berch had been released from her hostage status and returned to Demon Island. But only a few people welcomed her return with joy and relief, and most of the warriors looked at Claira with cold eyes.

Especially Gilmore, who felt that his family name had been tarnished, was furious and even asked the lord to execute her at one point.

In the end, this was settled by Gozu, Shukuya and Claira’s direct superior, the flag general and vice general of the Sixth Banner, but it was not a case of acquittal. She was immediately suspended.

Sai mentioned that, but in fact, the suspension was only a public punishment, and a heavier punishment had been imposed on her within the Berch family.

Claira was chained in the underground prison of the Berch mansion. Even Klimt was not allowed to see her face, let alone talk to her. He had asked his foster father Gilmore many times, but he had been rejected as many times as he had asked.

Klimt was not at ease. He knew what had happened to the children who had been deemed unnecessary by the Berch family. That only made him more anxious.

Now Claira is a full-fledged warrior and widely known as one of the golden generation. No matter how strict and merciless his foster father was, he would not do such a thing as abuse his sister Claira――Klimt told himself that, but he still could not get rid of his anxiety.

That was why Klimt had no interest in the fight between Sora and the Earth Spider.

In the arena, Sora had finally drawn his sword and cut off one, two legs of the Earth Spider that attacked him, and finally pierced its red eye socket with the tip of his sword.

The Earth Spider, whose blade had been pushed in up to the hilt, went berserk like crazy. And not only that. The miasma that spewed out from its body enveloped the Earth Spider and transformed it into a grotesque shape that looked like a mixture of mud and curses.

It was the appearance of the Earth Spider that had decided to resist to the end, knowing that it was going to die. Even wild animals that are not monsters will continue to resist until they die when they are shot by a hunter. There is no way that the Earth Spider, which has intelligence, will accept death calmly.

In this state, the Earth Spider has a very short time of activity, but its abilities increase dramatically. This is why it is called the “Newbie Killer”.

――But even seeing that, Klimt’s expression did not change.

As mentioned before, Klimt had no interest in the fight between Sora and the Earth Spider.

If someone asked him about it, he would have answered with annoyance.

Why do I have to pay attention to a fight whose outcome is obvious?

That was Klimt’s attitude, so he did not notice that his classmates Ragna and Ayaka were a little away from him. Of course, he did not notice what kind of faces they were watching Sora’s fight with.

Let alone, he had no idea that there was someone who was watching the situation from far outside his perception range.


At the same time

A figure sitting on the roof of the spire of the watchtower above the high walls that surrounded Shuuto, put his hand on his forehead and looked up at the sky.

If Sora had been there, he would have recognized that figure as the boy who had exchanged a few words with him in Shuuto.

“I told you to get off the island as soon as possible, but why are you there of all places? Was he one of the gatekeepers too? No, but that ornament was new. He knew the meaning behind the ornament, so I don’t think he stole it from his fellowmen――”

He muttered to himself, twisting his neck.

And suddenly, a large figure appeared behind him. A huge shadow that could be mistaken for a bear uttered a curious voice.

“What is wrong, Kagari-dono? It is almost time, and yet you are here alone in such a place.”

“What, I was just trying to check on the gatekeepers a little, Isagi.”

The hulking figure known as Isagi followed the direction of the gatekeepers’ gaze toward the Mitsurugi family’s mansion in the center of Shuuto. From the top of its spire, the mansion was no larger than a clenched fist. And the humans moving about inside were like ants or grains of rice, hardly worth noticing.

Isagi let out a deep breath. “To think you can check on their situation from here… If Lord Kagari were here, the Nakayama’s army wouldn’t need scouts. ――oh, excuse me. I should have said our army.”

“Heh, it doesn’t matter if you call it the Nakayama’s army. It’s been less than two months since the last battle. I understand that it takes time for Huayang’s soldiers to sort out their feelings.”

After saying that, Kagari clicked his tongue with bitterness and continued. “…On top of that, this operation is like telling them to go die. It’s brazen to demand loyalty from disposable pawns.”

“I appreciate your concern. But please don’t worry about me. I and the others who participated in this war from Mount Ganzan are volunteers. We should have died in the previous battle, but we were given the opportunity to strike back at the traitors. I have no resentment towards Kagari-dono or King Azuma. I’m grateful to them.”

As he said that, Isagi suddenly frowned, sensing the presence of a third person other than himself and Kagari.

“However, I do have something to say to the temple of Light, who looked down on Mount Ganzan.”

“–This is outrageous.”

The person who appeared in that place like a mirage was wearing a white robe.

“Is it not a false accusation to say that the temple of Light looked down on Mount Ganzan, Isagi-dono?”

His appearance with horns on his forehead was the same as Kagari and Isagi. However, Ouken’s skin was white and his limbs were thin. It was obvious that he was not a warrior.

Isagi’s attitude towards this Ouken was harsh.

“You said it well. Then let me ask you, what is this talisman?”

He said that and pointed to the golden bracelet that was fitted on his arm.

“A tool that can enter the gate without being noticed by the traitors who watch with eagle eyes. I, one of the Sixteen Spears, have never heard of such a tool. Why did the temple of Light hide this tool from Mount Ganzan? If we had this, we could have taken the gate by ourselves…!”

As Isagi accused him with trembling fists, Ouken raised and lowered his hands twice or thrice to calm down the other’s excitement.

“Isagi-dono, let me clear up a misunderstanding first. If you think that this talisman is a magic tool that can be made in a month or two, that is a mistake. It is a divine tool. It is a great miracle product created by a high priest who brought down a god to his body. Only the hero who unified the five mountains has the qualification to use it. If Mount Ganzan had defeated Nakayama, we of the temple of Light would have gladly presented the divine tool to Mount Ganzan.”

“So you mean that the temple of Light has no use for those who cannot even unify, right?”

“That interpretation is too biased, I must say. What I want to say is that the divine tool is something that should not be easily exposed to the world.”

As Isagi said that, he clicked his tongue irritably, but he refrained from further questioning, knowing the situation.

Ouken, on the other hand, shrank his shoulders as if he was afraid of Isagi’s anger, but his expression did not change at all.

Kagari silently observed the two of them.

The temple of Light is a human organization that was the only one to side with the Kijin when humans betrayed them in the past. They are said to have helped and rescued many Kijin in the name of God.

A religious organization that has continued to exist for three hundred years among the Kijin who worship the demon gods. There are not a few Kijin who belong to the five mountains who are believers of the temple of Light, and they do not lose the protection of the demon gods even if they convert to the temple of Light.

Among the four brothers of Nakayama who unified the five mountains, there are also followers of the temple of Light. It was Kagari’s elder brother, Hakuro, who was one of them. He was not just a follower, but a high-ranking follower who participated in the key of the church as a bishop.

As Isagi and others just mentioned, it was thanks to the temple of Light that Kagari and others were able to infiltrate Shuuto, but this infiltration of Shuuto itself was an idea of the temple of Light–Hakuro, his third brother.

–I don’t like Hakuro-nii’s plans, they always leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Kagari thought to himself. However, it was also true that there were many examples of things that turned out to be necessary when he looked back later, no matter how bad they tasted.

He was convinced that this plan was also one of those things.

“Well, then let’s get started soon. Isagi, Ouken, are you ready?”

“Of course.”

“I promise you a sure victory.”

“Good. Then it’s operation start at the same time as my signal. Both of you, get in position!”

Isagi and Ouken disappeared from the spot like mist after replying respectively.

Kagari jumped off the roof of the spire with a natural movement, waiting for the two of them to disappear.

Kagari was sitting on a lookout tower that was even higher than the huge city wall. The distance to the ground was not ten or twenty meters.

If someone had witnessed Kagari at this time, they would have panicked and thought he was committing suicide.

Of course, Kagari had no such intention. He finished his fall–or rather, his plunge–of several tens of meters and landed on the ground very easily. He landed casually, where he should have been in a horrible state that did not retain his original form as a human.

Then, Kagari pressed his right palm against the nearby city wall. And he opened his mouth as if to recite something.

“–Jouju Ekuu. Nothing in heaven and earth can escape destruction.”

The symbol of Shuuto, which has never been broken since it was built three hundred years ago, and the key to its defense.

“Therefore, there is nothing that cannot be broken by my fist. The leader of the Ganzan, the great Chiyou God of War. Behold our Nakayama’s battle.”

The defense was said to be as thick as to withstand a hundred battering rams and as sturdy as to resist a thousand spells, surpassing even the golden walls of the Imperial City.

That was.

“Third of the Four Calamities–“Destruction”!”

As Kagari’s intense kei hit it, it cracked with a crisp sound.

The cracks slowly but surely eroded the city wall. They looked like countless snakes crawling, bringing fear to the hearts of those who saw them.

The snakes gained momentum as they increased in number. Now the speed of the cracks was equal to that of a running person, and they reached the top of the city wall in no time.

The warriors who seemed to have noticed the anomaly raised their voices, but Kagari did not care. Why should he care?

It was too late for them to notice now.

“Shall we begin, humans? It’s a rematch from three hundred years ago.”

He said that and punched his left fist into the wall.

At that moment, the great feat was completed, and the city wall of Shuuto began to collapse with a sound.

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