V2 Chapter 81: The Four Brothers of Nakayama (4)

Upon hearing Hakuro’s concerns, Doga crossed his arms and growled deeply.

“Mount Ganzan and the gatekeepers, huh? I would like to say it’s impossible, but I can’t be sure what a desperate person might do. It’s not impossible that they would ally with those scoundrels out of sheer hatred for Nakayama.”

“But, Brother Hakuro, how would the gatekeepers even contact Mount Ganzan? I can’t imagine they’re that knowledgeable about our circumstances,” Kagari questioned.

To this, Hakuro calmly responded, “There are those close to us who are familiar with the circumstances of the demon world, Kagari. I am considering the possibility that they have acted as intermediaries between Mount Ganzan and the gatekeepers.”

“You suspect the Temple of the Light, Brother Hakuro?”

Surprised, Kagari widened his eyes.

Having witnessed the words and actions of Ouken, a member of the Temple of the Light, during their previous battle, Kagari had developed a deep suspicion of the Temple himself.

However, Ouken’s hatred towards humans was genuine, and he had fought the gatekeepers without mercy. Kagari wondered if the Temple was conspiring with the gatekeepers, wouldn’t they have instructed Ouken to avoid inflicting casualties?

Pointing this out, Hakuro replied with a composed look.

“That’s a valid question. But remember, Kagari, what did Ouken shout just before his death? ‘Such a master should not be nameless. As I thought, humans can’t be trusted.'”

“Sure, he did say that, but it was right after he’d been fatally wounded by that Sora guy. Whether he was in his right mind or not is questionable.”

“Even if he wasn’t in his right mind, those words wouldn’t have come out of nowhere. Either the elders of the Temple of the Light or someone he had contacted locally must have provided Ouken with information about that place.”

If it were the former, it would mean the Temple has its own ways to gather information from outside the gate. Even in the latter case, the fact wouldn’t change. There must be someone among the gatekeepers who is linked to the Temple, secretly passing information to Ouken, a member of the Temple. Otherwise, Ouken’s words wouldn’t make sense.

This fact affirmed Hakuro’s suspicion that the Temple of the Light and the gatekeepers might be in collusion.

Upon hearing this, Kagari grunted in frustration.

“Brother Hakuro, you’re technically a bishop of the Temple of the Light. Don’t you know anything about this?”

Hakuro had a past of concealing the existence of the Temple’s divine tool that can infiltrate the gate, even from his own brothers.

In response to Kagari’s query with this in mind, Hakuro shrugged.

“Indeed, I am part of the Temple’s cardinal body as a bishop, but that only applies within the confines of Nakayama. They don’t let me touch what really matters to them. In fact, if I go to the main hall, I still have a so-called guide attached to me who acts as a surveillance.”

Hakuro, who is now regarded as a distinguished warrior, was physically weak in his childhood and could not stand on the battlefield like Azuma or Doga even after he reached adulthood at thirteen. Learning to cook was his desperate attempt to find something he could do for his siblings since he couldn’t fight.

Joining the Temple of the Light overlaps with this. If he could gain a position within the Temple, he could use the influence of the Temple of the Light for the sake of Nakayama. He had no interest in the doctrine of the Temple of the Light.

For Hakuro, the information Kagari brought back from the previous battle was something he couldn’t ignore.

He had never thought that the Temple of the Light was a pure and innocent religious group. It was evident when he instructed Kagari to keep an eye on the movements of the Ouken.

However, the darkness that the Temple of the Light harbors seems to be much greater than Hakuro had anticipated. Depending on the situation, it might be necessary to expose the secrets of the Temple of the Light before fighting the gatekeepers.

As Hakuro was thinking about this in his heart, Azuma, who had been silently listening to his brothers’ conversation until now, opened his mouth here.

“Many people, both soldiers and civilians, adhere to the Temple of Light. We need to be careful even when investigating. Hakuro, don’t overdo it on your own.”

“Understood, elder brother.”

“I’d like to concentrate on the fight against humans for now if possible. But things don’t always go as planned. By the way, Kagari…”

Kagari, who was suddenly called by his brother, responded with a puzzled look.

“What is it, brother Azuma?”

“The human named Sora that you just mentioned. According to your story, he was wearing a bracelet passed down in the Kijin tribe. Do you think he has any connections with Mount Ganzan or the Temple of the Light?”

A human who possesses a bracelet of the Kijin tribe, uses the technique of a traitor, cuts down the Ouken, and even banishes the Demon god summoned by Isagi, albeit imperfectly. In his report, Kagari had listed five humans as persons of interest, among whom Sora was the most enigmatic.

Since he has killed the follower of the Temple of Light, the Ouken, and even Isagi, who is a general of Mount Ganzan, it’s unlikely he has any direct connections. However, it is only natural to start with the most suspicious person to unravel the complicated situation, Azuma thought.

By hearing Kagari’s opinion, who actually confronted him, there might be something new to see.

In response to his brother’s question, Kagari easily answered.

“Well, I don’t think so, brother Azuma. Not just because he cut down Ouken and Isagi, but I think he’s not the type to get involved in such troublesome matters. It’s just my gut feeling.”

“Hmm. On the contrary, do you think we can pull him onto our side?”

Not only Kagari reacted to these words. “Brother, elder brother, brother Azuma,” the three kinds of calls were made simultaneously, shaking Azuma’s ears.

The three brothers quickly exchanged glances, and after a moment, Doga, representing the collective doubts of the trio, began to speak.

“Brother, what intention lies behind your words? Regardless of how formidable this ‘Sora’ might be, he remains human. If we ally ourselves with humans, the discontent of our subjects will skyrocket.”

“I understand, Doga. However, separate from what Hakuro mentioned earlier, if we can secure external intelligence as the Nakayama, we should. If we can ascertain the state of our brethren outside, all the better. Don’t you think?”

“Indeed, having that would not be detrimental, but…”

Seeing Doga unusually hesitant, Azuma laughed, dispelling his concerns.

“Do not fret. I have no intention to forge peace with the humans at this point, Doga. Listen, Hakuro, Kagari: we will reclaim the gate. That’s a fundamental objective for us, the Nakayama. We won’t stray from this premise.”

The firm words from Azuma prompted nods of agreement from the three brothers.

Gazing with satisfaction at the faces of his determined brothers, Azuma slightly softened his tone.

“But reclaiming the gate isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. The Kijin have been imprisoned in the demon world for three hundred years. During that time, humans have flourished in the abundant outer world, increasing their numbers. I have no intention of waging a war to annihilate them all. What I desire is prosperity for both the Nakayama and the Kijin, not an endless feast on human flesh.”

To this, the brothers nodded again, although the speed of their acknowledgment varied, likely due to individual reservations.

Azuma continued.

“Of course, the humans, having lost the gate, will be desperate to retaliate. Even if we don’t seek conflict, an inevitable war will ensue. To break this chain, there will come a time when we must converse with the humans. Not through blades, but words. I believe preparing for such an avenue from now isn’t a bad idea.”

“Brother Azuma, are you expecting this role from that ‘Sora’ fellow?”

“Expectation, yes, I do expect. It’s hard to find a human who can demonstrate the skills of a gatekeeper and still maintain friendship with the Kijin.”

With a voice soft yet profound, Azuma spoke. Struck by their brother’s words, the three simultaneously bowed their heads.

Their feelings towards humans might vary, but none outweigh their respect for their elder brother. The Nakayama have always followed Azuma’s words, and this won’t change. Unspoken, the trio etched the same sentiment into their hearts.

The conversation among the four brothers continued.

As a result, Kagari was designated to head to Taikouzan as earlier decided, Doga continued his duty at the gate, and Azuma would establish himself in Capital, preparing to support both Taikouzan and the gate if necessary. Hakuro was tasked with investigating the Temple.

Once these decisions were made, Doga, with his large stature, turned towards his elder brother.

“Then, brother, I’ll head back to our base ahead of you. The gatekeepers appear content defending their fortress, but this state may not last forever.”

“Indeed. I apologize for making you turn back so quickly, but I’m relying on you to hold down the gate.”

“Rest assured, I’ll handle it.”

Doga gave a bow to his elder brother and then turned his gaze to his two younger brothers.

“Hakuro, Kagari, both of you take care of yourselves and fulfill your duties.”

“Understood, second elder brother.”

“I’ll quickly deal with the remnants at Mount Ganzan and return, so I’m counting on you until then, elder brother Doga.”

With a nod in response to his brothers’ replies, Doga stood up and left Azuma’s office.

And so, the four brothers set out, each with their own role to play.

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