V2 Chapter 87: Fierce Battle and Stirring

Two warriors, each having severed ties with their own kind, were locked in an intense battle. On the ground, in the air, sometimes with brute force, and sometimes with technique, they clashed tirelessly.

With each collision, a massive wave of Kei erupted, causing the very air to wail. Piercing sounds filled their ears. Scorching heat burnt their skin. The winds grew fiercer by the moment, now resembling a storm.

Amidst this tempest, Ursula Utgarza watched the battle unfold with bated breath.

How much time had passed since the battle began? She couldn’t be sure, but it was certainly longer than one or two koku (two or four hours). Her hand gripping her Soul Equipment was rigid, making it difficult to move.

Despite fighting relentlessly for such an extended period, the momentum of both fighters—Sora and Doga—showed no signs of waning. On the contrary, their intensity increased over time, as they unleashed fatal strikes at each other.

Ursula watched in silence. She couldn’t do anything else. If she attempted to intervene, she knew she would be torn apart by their combined force.

It wasn’t just Ursula who was engrossed in the battle. Next to her, Claira was equally captivated, as were the armed Kijin on their side. Presumably, even the Mitsurugi stronghold in the rear had many watching this duel between Sora and Doga.

“Unbelievable,” Ursula murmured internally for the umpteenth time, her gaze mostly fixed on Sora.

Normally, a Green Woods warrior could maintain their full power for about half a day. Especially in this demon realm, where just standing depleted one’s Kei at an accelerated rate. But Sora showed no signs of exhaustion, even after fighting intensely for nearly half a day.

Her gaze was directed mainly at Sora, who seemed to defy all expectations. Instead of waning, his Kei seemed to sharpen and increase over time. It was as if he was mocking her predictions.

She had heard from Dialt that Sora’s Anima, Soul Eater, had the ability to absorb or seize the energy of his enemies. If Sora was drawing on Doga’s power, that could explain things.

However, Doga also continued to fight, showing no signs of a waning spirit or diminishing Kei, which made it unlikely that Sora was siphoning his power. This meant that Sora was sustaining this lengthy battle purely with his own Kei.

He wasn’t holding back. Each of his attacks was laden with a high level of Kei—attacks so powerful they could be fatal. If he could also utilize his absorption ability, Ursula wondered if he could fight eternally, as long as he had an opponent.

“Soul Eater. What an incredible piece of Soul Equipment,” she mused.

Ursula unintentionally voiced her astonishment, immediately followed by a hacking cough. She realized her throat had become unbearably dry, her own voice sounding hoarse and almost unrecognizable.

As she relaxed her tense hands, Ursula reached for the water pouch at her waist, quenching her thirst with the lukewarm water it contained.

Taking a shallow breath, she refocused her attention on the battle unfolding before her.

Soul Eater is an outrageous piece of Soul Equipment, but the one wielding it, Sora, is just as extraordinary.

The ferocity of the clash between the two has not diminished since it began—in fact, it has intensified. At least, that’s how it appeared to Ursula’s eyes.

Initially, Sora deliberately allowed the enemy’s attacks to hit him, only to counterattack immediately afterwards. A strategy of “letting the flesh be cut to break the bone,” so to speak.

This tactic remains unchanged even now, designed to counter the opponent’s Kei Blasts that penetrate his Kei defenses. But the time it took for Sora to move into a counterattack had been gradually, yet noticeably, shortening.

The two fighters were exchanging blows at a speed too fast for the eye to follow. The time reduced for counterattacks might be less than a blink of an eye, but clearly, Sora was adapting to Doga’s Kei Blasts. It seemed he’d gotten the hang of warding off the penetrating Kei during the course of the battle.

This wasn’t just the power of the Soul Eater; it was the skill of the user.

For the enemy confronting him, it was the worst-case scenario. An opponent who recklessly attacked without fearing injury, an opponent who instantly recovered from any damage, and worse, an opponent who analyzed your special techniques when you ramped up your offense.

The more you fought, the more you were drained, your techniques laid bare. The end of such a battle would inevitably be a crushing defeat. For Ursula, this was the last person she would ever want to fight.

Well, the fact that Doga, that Kijin, is enjoying his fight with Sora means he’s beyond any usual standards as well.

In her line of sight, Doga was intensifying his Kei more than ever, lunging at Sora. Repeated clashes had shattered Doga’s armor, and the mask covering his face had come off. The exposed upper body of the Kijin revealed a deeply etched smile, as if he couldn’t be happier.

This image didn’t match with the four-eyed Kijin from Ursula’s memory. However, there was a good chance that the Kijin who killed her father was of this level.

Still watching the ongoing battle between the two, Ursula gripped the hilt of her Soul Equipment, filling her hand with strength.


At the same time that Sora and Doga were engaged in intense combat…

The remnants of Mount Ganzan, who had rebelled against Nakayama, had gathered in an ancient battlefield known as Taikouzan, ostensibly preparing for the inevitable battle against Nakayama.

However, the reality was grim. Morale couldn’t be described as high; they were lacking in arms and provisions, and merely fending off the monsters that attacked them daily was all they could manage. Many soldiers were more concerned with surviving the day than with reclaiming capital city, a situation far removed from any dream of victory.

Originally, there weren’t many former vassals of Mount Ganzan gathered at Taikouzan to begin with. The numbers had declined further due to people unable to bear the dire conditions and fleeing. Just as Doga had discerned in capital, if things continued this way, the Mount Ganzan army would wither away before even confronting Nakayama.

Yet, despite the dire circumstances, the remnants of Mount Ganzan maintained some semblance of order. This was because the core members of their organization were still in good health.

It wasn’t Yamato—the child of the late King Gien, who had been the figurehead of the rebellion—nor was it his sister, Lan. Yamato was just an eight-year-old child, and even Lan was a young girl in her mid-teens. Due to the low social standing of their mother, the only role assigned to the young siblings at Taikouzan was to be ceremonial figureheads, nothing more or less.

The person truly leading the remnants of Mount Ganzan was a warrior named Kasasagi, once counted among the Sixteen Spears of Mount Ganzan. Kasasagi was a middle-aged man who had sworn loyalty not to the land of Mount Ganzan, but to the individual Gien. While he showed a degree of respect to Lan and Yamato, that respect did not go beyond mere formality.

Proof of this was that Yamato and his sister were not even consulted when important military discussions were held. In a chamber of the fort built in one corner of Taikouzan, all that was asked of the siblings was to sit quietly.

“Really, this is the end of the line,” said a young man serving as a close attendant and guard to the siblings of Mount Ganzan, looking over the situation.

Called “Kurt” by those around him, this man was a rare human among the gathering of Kijin at Taikouzan, identifiable by his distinctive white hair and red eyes. Specifically, including Kurt, there were only two humans currently in this place. Though humans would normally have no place among a group of Kijin, both had secured their positions within the Mount Ganzan army as believers in the Light God.

“Really, what am I doing in a place like this?” Kurt muttered, this time not just in his mind but aloud.

Hearing him, Yamato asked curiously, “Kurt, did you say something?”

Replying tersely to his young master, who spoke with uncharacteristic formality, Kurt said, “Yes. I sensed a strange presence from outside—perhaps a monster is approaching. I’d like to go and confirm, so I ask for permission to leave this place.”

Hearing this, Yamato glanced questioningly at his sister. Lan, after studying Kurt intently, spoke, “If it’s like the other day when they infiltrated the fort, it will be a serious matter. Lord Kurt, I impose upon you to go and confirm.”

“Understood. Then,” Kurt briefly responded, turning on his heel to leave the siblings’ room. He then walked through the fortress and went out onto the parapet.

Built on a sheer cliff, the fortress had the advantage of focusing its defenses forward and on both sides, without having to worry about attacks from the rear. Even though the geography was rugged on all three sides, the simple barricade of the fortress would likely hold back enemies sufficiently.

It would be nearly impregnable—were it not for the fact that the rough terrain posed little challenge to monsters or Greenwood Banner Knights who could harness Kei to traverse through the air.

“Greenwood Banner Knights could take down a fortress like this in less than an hour,” Kurt—Klimt Berch—muttered, a wry smile pulling at the corners of his lips. The smile faded as he became aware of its hollowness.

Klimt had ventured into the demon realm to rescue his sister Claira from prison, targeting the demon king Azuma. He was here among the remnants of Mount Ganzan for good reasons.

To put it bluntly, Klimt never intended to defeat King Azuma from the outset. Regardless of his sister’s rescue, it was improbable to think he could defeat an elusive demon king in a place as unforgiving as the demon realm. His decision-making was not that impaired.

Although Klimt had been provided a decent amount of mana recovery potions from his brother Dialt for this mission, it was far from sufficient. Even if he were to defeat King Azuma, he could hardly expect his stepfather Gilmore to release his sister willingly.

So, why had Klimt come to the demon realm?

To acquire a mystical artifact that concealed one’s presence, used by the demon folk during their previous raid on Demon Island.

With such a magical item, extracting his sister from the Berch family’s underground prison would be easy. The artifact would be useful when sneaking her out to a location beyond the reach of the Berch household.

No one in the 300-year history of the Mitsurugi family has ever succeeded in sneaking away from the island, but if they never knew he left, there would be no pursuit.

From the moment he heard of the artifact’s existence, Klimt wanted it desperately and pondered how to acquire it.

The issue was how to get it. Almost none of the artifacts were found on the invading demons. Either they destroyed them in their dying moments, or an invisible retriever took them. Either way, only a few artifacts fell into the hands of the Mitsurugi family.

Even those were stored in the Mitsurugi vault, beyond the reach of a mere Banner Knight like Klimt. Raiding the vault for the artifact would be suicidal.

Hence, Klimt chose the path of seeking the artifact in the demon realm.

Though he had no leads, it was still more manageable than taking the life of an enemy king, he thought, stepping into the demon realm.

As a result, after many twists and turns, he managed to infiltrate the remnants of Mount Ganzan. It should be considered a stroke of luck.

But this luck was not solely due to Klimt’s efforts.

As previously stated, Klimt was accepted among the Kijin as a follower of the Light God’s teachings, though before coming to this land, he knew nothing about the religion—not even its name.

Naturally, it was impossible to deceive and infiltrate the Kijin as a false follower. The one who vouched for Klimt as a follower of the Light God was another follower present in Mount Ganzan.

This individual could be called Klimt’s benefactor, but he felt no gratitude towards him. The reason was—

“What are you doing here, Klimt?”

A voice, filled with haughty arrogance, spoke as its owner appeared—precisely the person Klimt was just thinking of.

The man, named Shinto, was in his late thirties. He wore robes befitting a clergyman, but his muscular physique unmistakably belonged to a warrior.

Shinto was one of the key figures in the Mount Ganzan army alongside Kasasagi, responsible for managing finances and supplies. It could be said that the reason the Mount Ganzan army could survive without starving was thanks to Shinto and the Light God religion backing him.

More importantly, it was Shinto and his fellow Light God followers who had instigated the rebellion among Kasasagi and the former retainers of Mount Ganzan. Klimt knew this because Shinto had proudly told him.

“You were supposed to be guarding Lord Yamato. Why are you idling here? Are the subordinates of Shikibu incapable of even babysitting?”

“I’ll return immediately. Don’t casually address our lord by his first name. I’ve told you this before.”

“Ah, you did. But what’s wrong with addressing him so? You Mitsurugi are nothing but servants of the Hoso clan. In essence, Shikibu should be bowing before me, and naturally, so should you.”

With a tone mixing mockery and arrogance, Shinto scoffed.

In response, Klimt silently furrowed his brows.

As his words implied, Shinto was aware of the Mitsurugi household. He was under the misconception that Klimt had come here on the orders of the family head. Because of this misunderstanding, Shinto had vouched for Klimt, a person whose face and name he didn’t even know, in front of the Kijin.

Shinto’s arrogance toward Klimt manifested itself in his belief that he had done Klimt a favor and his perception that he was above the Mitsurugi family.

For Klimt, this was exceedingly vexing, but the information he could get from Shinto was indispensable, especially concerning his connection with the Light God religion—undoubtedly a secret that the Mitsurugi family had long concealed.

This was a trump card that could help his sister in a way different from divine weapons—a conviction that endowed Klimt, who was usually short-tempered, with unusual patience.

Still, for someone as forthright as Klimt, it was hard to completely mask his true feelings. Noticing the hostility seeping through Klimt’s expression, Shinto snorted.

“What’s the matter? You seem like you want to say something. Would you like another sparring lesson? Want to experience the true art of demon-slaying that is different from your counterfeit techniques?”

Liked it? Take a second to support WordyCrown on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!