Interlude: On Demon Island ③

“I beg your pardon, Lord Shikibu!”

Klimt, who had advanced on his knees and raised his voice, was met with sharp gazes from all around.

Klimt’s rank in the Green Woods Eight Banners was the seventh of the seventh banner. He was exceptionally skilled for a young warrior who had not yet reached his twenties, yet from the perspective of the four lords and eight generals present, he was merely a greenhorn.

It was an act that could not escape the accusation of presumption for Klimt to speak directly to Shikibu, the head of the family.

Of course, Klimt was aware of that. But he could not remain silent in this situation.

“If you wish to save Claira, you must risk your life and follow my instructions. Otherwise, your sister will wish she was dead as she cries and screams. You don’t need me to explain why I kept Claira as a hostage instead of you, a man, don’t you?”

The words that Sora said when they crossed swords in Titis Forest flashed through his mind. Unconsciously, Klimt clenched his teeth.

Of course, Klimt had no intention of obediently following Sora’s demands.

In the first place, no matter what Gozu or Klimt argued, there was no way that Sora’s request would be accepted. The Ministry of Ceremonies would surely order Sora’s pursuit and execution.

Regardless of Sora’s strength or the power of his Anima, he could not defeat all the elite warriors of the Eight Banners. Therefore, it was certain that Sora would eventually lose, regardless of how things turned out.

Klimt had to rescue his sister Claira before the pursuit team made contact with Sora. He knew that if Sora found out that Demon Island rejected his demand and sent a pursuit team, he would not hesitate to attack Claira.

The problem was whether or not the other warriors shared Klimt’s idea.

If the warriors sent to pursue Sora would save Claira before attacking, there would be no problem. However, saving a hostage at the risk of alerting the enemy – such a lenient approach did not exist within the military law of the Green Woods Eight Banners.

If it were innocent women and children who were taken hostage, it would be another story, but Claira was a bona fide Green Woods warrior who became a prisoner as a result of her defeat. In that case, whatever happened to her was her own responsibility for losing.

For example, suppose Klimt was a third party who had nothing to do with the Berch family, and was ordered by his lord to pursue Sora. Would he show any consideration for Claira, who had been taken hostage?

The answer was obvious. He would not care about the safety of the hostage at all, and would devote all his efforts to eliminating the target. If the hostage was saved as a result, that would be fine. If not, it was the fault of the person who was taken hostage for being inexperienced, and Klimt had no need to worry about it.

Knowing that, Klimt appealed to Shikibu with presumptuousness. He asked him to add Claira’s protection as a requirement for this mission, as well as Sora’s pursuit. If that was not possible, he asked him to include himself in the pursuit team.

Ideally, this kind of action should have been taken by Gilmore, Klimt and Claira’s foster father.

But Gilmore was a man who was only interested in expanding the power of the Berch family, and no matter what he said, he only saw Klimt and the others as tools for his advancement. Klimt knew that. Many of the children who were gathered as adopted children by the Berch family were discarded like worn-out shoes halfway through.

Even a member of the golden generation was merely a disposable tool to his foster father. Let alone someone who had been defeated and captured, Gilmore would not even give him a glance. The only one who could save Claira was his brother Klimt. It was the result of Klimt’s desperate thinking that he tried to appeal directly to his lord with impudence.

–But to conclude, Klimt was not able to appeal directly to his lord with a single word.

Just before Klimt, who had advanced his knees, tried to ask Shikibu for his sister’s protection, a strong impact hit Klimt’s head.

He had no time to react. He didn’t even know what had happened. When he came to, Klimt’s head was slammed into the tatami mat. He writhed in silent agony, as if his skull had shattered, while a voice as clear as ice whispered in his ear.

“Fool. How dare you, a mere flag-bearer, be rude to your lord.”

The swordsman who was trampling on Klimt’s head with his left foot was the pale-skinned, black-haired swordsman who had been sitting on Shikibu’s right until a moment ago.

First Flag First Rank. In case of emergency, he would take over for the lord and command the eight flags of Green Woods. This person’s name was Dialto Berch.

He was the real son of Gilmore, the minister, and Klimt’s brother. Of course, neither Klimt nor Claira had ever called Dialto their brother.

In the Berch family, everything from education to food was different between real and adopted children. Let alone Dialto, who was the next lord and the first flag general. The difference in treatment between him and Klimt was literally like heaven and earth.

“…I’m sorry–gubh!?”

Klimt tried to apologize, but his words were stopped by Dialto again. Forcing his face down into the tatami mat.

“Shut up. You don’t even have the right to speak in this place.”

Know your place. Dialto said that and increased the pressure on his foot. The floor creaked beneath the tatami mat, as if it could not bear the pressure. Or maybe it was the sound of Klimt’s skull cracking.

It was when Gozu, who had been listening to the brothers’ exchange up close, decided that he had to stop this.

Suddenly, Klimt’s figure disappeared from Gozu’s sight. He slipped into the tatami mat–no, into the shadow reflected on the tatami mat, and Klimt’s body vanished.

After Klimt’s figure disappeared, Dialto’s left foot touched the tatami mat, but his foot wrapped in tabi socks firmly stepped on the tatami mat. Of course, there was no sign of sinking.

Then where on earth did Klimt disappear just before?

“Isn’t this too much for a punishment, flag general?”

The one who said that was the owner of brown skin and dull blue hair who was sitting on Shikibu’s left.

The first flag second rank. This person’s name was Kumen Shukuya, who served as the vice-general of the first flag directly under the lord.

In front of Shukuya, Klimt lay groaning. By some means, Shukuya had transported Klimt, who had been stepped on by Dialto, to his front in an instant.

Dialto responded to Shukuya without moving a brow.

“That rude one is a member of my house. I don’t need to hold back on judging the shame of my family.”

“I don’t intend to interfere with the Berch’s house law, but this is a time for deliberation. You shouldn’t disturb your lord’s thoughts.”

Contrary to Dialto, who didn’t move his expression like a mask, Shukuya admonished his superior with a likable smile.

Furthermore, Shukuya added with a pleasant smile,

“Besides, his real sister is captured by the enemy. You should be lenient with some rudeness. I don’t think I could stay calm if I were in his position. Especially, if that enemy is the young lord–”

At that point, Shukuya seemed to notice something and closed his mouth. Then, he looked at Mitsurugi Ragna, who was sitting in a corner of the place, with an awkward expression.

“My apologies. Not the young lord, but former young lord. If former young lord has acquired the power to slay dragonkind as Gozu says, this is a situation that cannot be dealt with easily. For the sake of the Berch family who have been taken hostage, we must avoid rashness.”

“No need for unnecessary consideration. Claira fell into the enemy’s hands because of her immaturity. How can we keep the law of exterminating demons and sealing gods by sparing the life of an immature one?”

When Dialto said that Shukuya corrected himself with a chuckle.

“I see. Then let me rephrase it. Not for the sake of the Berch family, but for the sake of the Mitsurugi family, we should be careful not to act rashly here. I think it would be a pity to lose one of the golden generation who has great talent in a place like this.”

Saying that, Shukuya turned his body toward Shikibu, who was next to him, and bowed his head deeply.

“My lord, if you don’t mind, please entrust me with this mission. I want to negotiate with the former young lord, free the hostages, and bring him before you.”

If Sora rejected him, then he would just use force to accomplish his goal–Shukuya didn’t say that out loud, but everyone in the room understood what he meant. And they all judged that he could definitely do it.

Originally, Shikibu did not show much interest in what happened outside the island. As one of the twin peaks volunteered, it was almost decided – that’s how those who thought about it were surprised by Shikibu’s next words.

“No. Lately, the demon gate has been noisy. It must be a sign of a disturbance. I can’t let Shukuya leave the island at a time like this.”

This answer seemed to surprise Shukuya as well, and he responded with wide eyes.

“The demon gate… I’m sorry, I didn’t notice. I apologize for making an unnecessary suggestion.”

“It’s fine. The signs are still faint. Nothing will happen today or tomorrow. But it’s not something that will happen in half a year or a year either. Be prepared for any situation, and don’t neglect your preparations for the Green Woods Eight Banners.”


Not only Shukuya, but also Dialt and other flag generals and vice generals raised their voices in unison.

Gilmore opened his mouth here.

“My lord, what will you do about this matter?”

If there is movement in the demon gate, not only the twin peaks, but also the other flag generals (kisho) and vice generals cannot be moved. On the other hand, sending in ordinary flag soldiers would only result in a repeat of Gozu and his men.

Ignoring the opponent’s demands and making them impatient is one way to go. If they know that we don’t care about hostages or anything like that, there might be room for bargaining.

However, considering the importance of Gozu’s report, this can only be called a bad idea. Above all, leaving defeat as it is would be a disgrace for a martial family.

As everyone scratched their heads, Shikibu calmly answered his subordinate’s question.

“Tell Sora to come to the island. If his ability to defeat a dragon species is true, there should be no problem leaving one or two demon people to him.”

Hearing that, Gozu was the one who raised his face with a grin.

He was happy that Shikibu had not chosen to fight Sora, for whatever reason.

“My lord, then I will go to Canaria Kingdom and persuade Sora-dono–”



Gozu blinked his eyes in confusion, as his words were abruptly cut off by Shikibu.

Gozu blinked his eyes in confusion, as his words were abruptly cut off by Shikibu.

Shikibu continued as if it was nothing.

“There is no need for you, a Shiba, to go there. A letter will suffice.”

“That is… My lord, I doubt that Sora-dono will come to the island with that.”

He recalled Sora’s eyes filled with hostility when they confronted him in Canaria Kingdom. If he sent a letter saying that  he showed his strength by visiting Demon Island, he might entrust him with Suzume’s matter , Sora would never come to Demon Island.

On the contrary, as soon as he read the letter, he might judge that his demand was rejected and hurt Claira, the hostage.

To Gozu’s anxiety, Shikibu had an unexpected answer ready.

“I don’t care. Send a letter. In it, you can specify the date when he should come to the island.”

“A date, you say?”


As soon as he heard the date that Shikibu said, Gozu realized his lord’s intention and widened his eyes.

He was not the only one who reacted that way. Several others also noticed Shikibu’s aim and showed their surprise.

The date was one month from today. The end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

It was the death anniversary of Sora’s mother, Shizuya Mitsurugi.

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