Interlude: On Demon Island ④

“Ya! Ya! Tooo!”

In the center of Shuuto, the only city on Demon Island, where the Sword Saint and his family live, a young child’s voice echoes in the courtyard of their residence.

Swinging the wooden sword is Mitsurugi Ibuki, who is four years old. Of course, it is not a real wooden sword that a Green Woods warrior would wield, but a toy that imitates the shape of a sword.

The wooden sword that Gozu gave to his nephew for his fourth birthday was a masterpiece made by Sima, the steward of the Mitsurugi family, with all his heart and soul, and it had very fine craftsmanship from the hilt decoration to the pattern on the scabbard.

It was an invaluable treasure to Ibuki, who brought it into his futon at night and slept with it. His mother, Cecil Sima, advised him to leave it by his pillow when he went to bed, citing safety concerns, but Ibuki stubbornly refused, causing his mother concern.

Cecil, who was in charge of taking care of Ibuki’s clothes that were soaked with sweat, was not in this place. The ones who were here were Gozu and Ibuki, and the female warrior who was playing with Ibuki. And one more person…

“Hehe, Ibuki is very enthusiastic,”

She said with a smile to Gozu. Her name was Emma Mitsurugi.

Her eyes shone like blue sapphires, and her hair, like strands of gold, reached down to her waist. Her beauty and gracefulness made her look more like a spirit or a goddess than a human.

Emma was the legal wife of Sword Saint Mitsurugi Shikibu, and the real mother of Mitsurugi Ragna, the next head of the Mitsurugi family. Her family, the Paradis, was among the leading noble families of the Adoastera Empire. To add more, Gozu’s sister Cecil was Shikibu’s concubine, and she was placed below Emma, the first lady, in the order of the inner palace.

She was a person who Gozu couldn’t look up to for many reasons.

“Yes. It’s a troublesome thing that he’s so naughty and mischievous.”

“Children are children of the wind. It’s a good thing that they’re naughty. Ragna, Sora, and Ibuki were always running around outside and not coming home when they were about his age, and they made me and Shizuya worry.”

“Haha, indeed. I can’t count how many times I ran around outside the mansion looking for them.”

Emma and Gozu had a pleasant expression as they reminisced.

If a third party saw this scene, they would have been surprised.

For Emma, Cecil was a rival in love who competed for Shikibu’s affection, and Ibuki, Cecil’s child, was still young but might threaten Ragna’s position when he grew up. As for Gozu, he was an ambitious man who sent his sister to his lord’s side to gain power.

In fact, the people around Emma were wary of Gozu and Cecil. Neither Gozu nor Cecil had any interest in the power struggle within the Mitsurugi family, but the people around them looked at them with suspicion just because they had “qualifications”.

A typical example of this was Gilmore Berch last night. The Berch family was actively approaching Ragna in order to maintain their power in the next generation that they had built up in this generation. If they could kick Gozu out, they could take over the position of Shiba and nip the bud of future power struggles. There was such a side behind last night’s scene.


Contrary to the enthusiasm of those around her, Emma herself was friendly to both Gozu and Cecil. As for Ibuki, she loved him so much that she came to see him herself like today.

Originally, Emma Paradis was such a woman. Perhaps because she was raised like a butterfly or a flower since she was a child, she was sometimes ignorant of malice in the eyes of others. She could be said to have a deep heart that did not care about some malice.

When Emma first married into the Mitsurugi family, Shizuya Mitsurugi was the first wife of Shikibu, so she had no choice but to be the second wife as a princess of a great noble family. The child she gave birth to was also excluded from being the heir.

If she were a normal noble daughter, she would have harbored a strong hostility towards Shizuya and tried to plot to pull her down from the position of the first wife.

But Emma did not try to pull Shizuya down, but actively talked to her and became friends with her before she knew it.

That’s why Emma didn’t harbor any hostility towards Cecil, Ibuki, Cecil’s child, or Gozu, of course.

Gozu knew that too, so he could talk to Emma without being tense.

And then, a cheerful female flag bearer’s voice echoed in their ears.

“Okay, that’s it for today, Ibuki.”

“Aw! I can fight more, Ayaka-nee-chan!”

“What if a monster attacks you after you get tired like that? Who’s going to protect your mother?”


“It’s also your job as a flag bearer to keep your body in good condition so that you can fight at any time.”

“Yes, I understand!”

“Good. Come on, go to your mother and wipe off your sweat. You’ll catch a cold if you stay like this.”

Saying that, the female flag bearer – Ayaka Azurite pointed to Cecil, who had returned with Ibuki’s change of clothes.

After watching Ibuki run to his mother’s side at a trot, Ayaka came over to Emma and Gozu.

Facing Ayaka, Gozu bowed his head slightly.

“I’m sorry, Azurite. I’ve put you through a lot of trouble.”

“Not at all. Ibuki is like a cute little brother to me. This is nothing, Shiba.”

Ayaka smiled and said that.

Ibuki is a half-brother to Ragna. For Ayaka, who is Ragna’s fiancée, Ibuki must indeed feel like a younger brother.

In any other family, even if he were a child of a concubine or a mistress, he would be treated as a member of the head’s clan, and Ayaka would not be permitted to interact with him so casually. Even Gozu, who is his uncle, would have to kneel before Ibuki in normal circumstances.

However, in the Mitsurugi family, only the children of the legal wife are treated as clan members. They are allowed to use the Mitsurugi surname, but they have little or no inheritance rights. The same goes for their mothers. For example, Emma, who is the legal wife, changed her surname from Paradis to Mitsurugi, but Ibuki’s mother Cecil still uses Sima as her surname. In that sense, there was a strict distinction between legal wives and concubines.

Moreover, in return, the mother’s wishes are given priority in child-rearing. In addition, a generous allowance is paid monthly to the concubines and their families, and the benefit of bringing Mitsurugi’s blood into their own family is immeasurable, both tangible and intangible. In the first place, the families that send out concubines do so knowing these things, so there was no one who was dissatisfied with Mitsurugi’s treatment.

This is a completely irrelevant aside, but Mitsurugi’s current head of household has a large number of concubines and also has many children born to them, so the amount of money paid to them is quite substantial. Gilmore, who oversees finance as a Shito (minister), occasionally admonishes his lord about this. Gilmore is Gilmore, and he is not a flatterer who only knows how to flatter.

In any case, Ibuki grew up freely under such circumstances, and so far there have been no signs of personality twists or distortions. The adults around him smiled, hoping he would continue to grow up well.

And at that moment, Ayaka looked at Gozu and opened her mouth.

“By the way, Sima. The topic changes, but–“


“Is Sora doing well?”

Ayaka’s voice was natural, as if she were asking about yesterday’s menu, and there was no sign of agitation or tension in her gaze directed at Gozu.

Ayaka had participated in yesterday’s council as a warrior of the Green Woods flag. Of course, she had heard Gozu’s report.

If one looked closely, even Emma was directing a questioning gaze at Gozu.

As mentioned earlier, Sora’s mother Shizuya and Emma were friends. When Shizuya passed away, she asked Emma to take care of Sora.

That’s why Emma always paid attention to the well-being of her deceased friend’s child and continued to speak to him kindly.

In reality, it was Sora who rejected Emma’s care.

Emma, who became the first lady after Sora’s mother’s death, was seen by young Sora as someone who took away his mother’s place. Coupled with conflicts with Emma’s son Ragna, young Sora began to show animosity toward Emma.

Emma understood Sora’s attitude and decided to watch over his growth from a distance. This was also because she realized that her focus on Sora was affecting her son Ragna’s behavior.

When Sora was banished from the Mitsurugi family, Emma was ill and unaware of the fact. She was shocked when she learned of it a few days later, as Gozu knew.

Emma, who seldom voiced her opinions to Shikibu, passionately appealed for the reversal of Sora’s punishment on this occasion.

However, as expected, Shikibu’s judgment was unshakable, and Sora’s whereabouts after leaving the island remained unknown, leaving Emma to hang her head in front of Shizuya’s grave.

After five years, Sora’s whereabouts were finally revealed. Emma was just as curious about Sora as his former fiancée Ayaka, if not more so.

Ayaka and Emma came to Ibuki’s place in the morning, likely to ask about Sora. Despite feeling oppressed by their calm gazes, Gozu nodded in agreement to Ayaka’s inquiry.

“Yes. It is certain that he was well.”

After all, he had been completely beaten despite using his Void Armor.

Upon hearing Gozu’s half-joking, half-serious words, Ayaka nodded slightly with a faint narrowing of her eyes.

“He was banished from the island, but he managed to reach his Soul Equipment on his own. He hasn’t changed his stubbornness.”

“Indeed. I deeply regret it. If only I had been able to guide him to his Soul Equipment while he was on the island, nothing would have happened.”

Ayaka tilted her head slightly at Gozu’s lament, but she did not voice her thoughts out loud.

Instead, it was Emma who opened her mouth.

“Lord Mitsurugi said he would summon Sora to coincide with Shukuya’s death anniversary, but do you think Sora will respond to the invitation?”

“To be honest, I don’t know. If it were the previous Sora-dono, he would have undoubtedly accepted, but how the current Sora-dono will judge is――”

“Sora will come, my lady.”

Contrary to Gozu, who hesitated to answer, Ayaka vividly asserted Sora’s actions. Emma was surprised by her confidence and widened her eyes.

Gozu asked with a dubious look.

“Azurite, why can you say that so confidently?”

“Sora will give up anything else, but he will not give up his vow with Shukuya-sama. If Sora had given up his vow with Shukuya-sama in the past five years, he would not have reached the soul equipment――the Anima”

“Hmm. So you mean that if it’s Shukuya-sama’s death anniversary, he will come no matter what he has to leave behind.”

Gozu nodded as he crossed his arms. He remembered Sora’s words when they confronted him in Ishka.

“It’s been five years since I was banished from the island. I crawled on the ground and came this far. Sure, it’s not what I wanted before. Mom might be disappointed in me.”

The words that he might have disappointed his mother could not be uttered by someone who did not remember his mother’s wishes.

Sora, who was disowned by the Mitsurugi family and banished from Demon Island, had not been able to visit his mother’s grave until now.

Shikibu’s words this time meant nothing but lifting that ban temporarily. Ayaka’s guess that he would come no matter what he had to leave behind seemed correct.

After that, the topic of Sora was interrupted by the arrival of Ibuki and Cecil, who had finished changing their clothes.

The three of them chatted with Ibuki and Cecil.

Ibuki was quiet at first, trying to fit in with the adults, but it seemed boring for a child who wanted to play, and he soon started to fidget.

Ayaka noticed it quickly and smiled wryly as if to say “can’t be helped”.

“Ibuki, you’ve had a break, right? Shall we continue from earlier?”

“Yes, yes! I want to, I want to, Ayaka-oneechan!”

The adults around them naturally smiled as they saw Ibuki jump up and raise his hand.

But the next moment, when they heard Ibuki’s words, their smiles were replaced by different expressions.

“I’m going to get stronger soon and beat up the guy who bullied Gozu-ojichan!”

Gozu looked at his nephew with a sour face as if he had drunk vinegar. Cecil, his mother, also looked at her son with a similar face.

Emma touched her cheek with a faint confusion, and Ayaka blinked her eyes as if she had been caught off guard.

Ibuki didn’t know anything about “the guy who bullied Gozu-ojichan”――Mitsurugi Sora. Neither Gozu nor Cecil knew how to explain to Ibuki about Sora, who was disowned by the Mitsurugi family and banished from Demon Island.

For Ibuki, it was a statement out of righteous indignation to avenge Gozu, who came back covered in wounds. He never expected that his statement would shake the adults around him.

“…Ayaka-oneechan? What’s wrong?”

“Oh, sorry, it’s nothing. Well then, today I’ll teach you a special move. It’s the ultimate secret sword that I and my friends came up with.”

“Ultimate? Is that strong?”

“It’s strong, you know? After all, it’s ultimate! Its name is Serpent King Flame Slaying Sword! It’s a sword that burns away demons and spirits with the forbidden power of the dragon!”

“Wow…cool! Teach me, oneechan, teach me that!”

“Okay. Then Ibuki, follow me. The training is hard, but you’re ready, right?”

“Yes! I’ll do my best!”

Ibuki replied with sparkling eyes. The strange atmosphere from a moment ago had already vanished from the four-year-old’s mind.

Unknowingly, sighs of relief escaped from the mouths of the adults at the same time.

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