Trial Ceremony


 

  *clang*, *clang*, *clang*, sounds of dry thuds echoed as a wooden sword rolled on the ground.

  I was stunned as I looked at my own hands that have been emptied.

  “That’s it”, the voice of the judge felt strangely far away.

  It was a match that I had to win.

  However, I had completely lost.
The wooden sword was knocked out of my hand instantly.

 

  Thirteen years old–  it was the coming of age trial ceremony for the pupils of the phantom blade style.

  My opponent was a dragon tooth warrior- a skeletal swordsman that was created from magic.

  It was by no means a weak opponent.
In fact, even a regular soldier of the empire or a single adventurer would have a hard time fighting it one on one.
It can be said that it wasn’t an opponent meant for young boys and girls.

  However, nobody here would have any doubts about facing an opponent like that.

  For the pupils of the phantom blade style, it’s natural that they’d win vs an opponent of this level.
In fact, the other seven people that took the trial before me had all won.

 

  There was only one person who lost.

  All the hard work that I had accumulated for today, all the efforts that I had put in for this moment over the last many, many years had all crumbled to nothing.

  When I hung my head down in silence, the voice of my father came from above.

  It was a deep, cold, dry voice.

 

  「–Sora.」

 


  「Y-Yes, Father!」

 

  「The Mitsurugi household is a house of ancient warriors founded by the sword saint who sealed away the demon god three hundred years ago.
The phantom blade style is an evil crushing sword that our ancestors risked their lives to create.
A blade that protects mankind from mythical creatures such as dragons, giants, and demon gods that are as dangerous as natural disasters.
For that reason, our family was given the important task of being the protectors who guard the demon gate by the emperor.
Were you aware of this?  」

 

  「I-I am aware!」

 

  「The people born in the Mitsurugi house have the obligation to inherit the founder’s sword.
And then, they have the responsibility to pass the sword to the next generation.
Those who cannot fulfill these two duties have no place in this household」

 

「F-father…」

 

「The people who can’t pass this trial ceremony do not have a right to learn the phantom blade style.
And those who have not mastered the phantom blade style are not qualified to carry on the Mitsurugi name.
From this day on, I am disowning you.
You are no longer allowed to use the name Mitsurugi beyond this point.
Finish packing your stuff today and you will leave this island tomorrow.
The weak are not needed in this place」

 

  He banished his own biological son without a second thought in an indifferent tone.

  There was not a single sign of being troubled on father’s– The seventeenth generation sword saint, Mitsurugi Shikibu’s face.
He looked at me the same way he looks at a rock on the ground.

 

  For a father who has devoted his life to the sword, a man who was not talented in the sword would be equal to dust to him, even if it was his son.

 

  …I knew about that.

 

  He has always looked at me that way for as far back as I could remember.
No matter how dense a child is, they would eventually understand.

  I have always been trying my hardest to have such a father recognize me.


 

  However, it did not work out in the end.

  No matter what I say here, my father’s mind will not change.
There was no use in crying, groveling, or begging for mercy.

 

  It wasn’t only my father who felt that way.
The many pupils, and the star pupils who were lined up on his left and right were also looking at me with cold eyes.

 

  Scorn, contempt, pity, indifference…

 

  It was just as my father said a moment ago.
The curse of that demon god that was sealed by the sword saint continued to encroach upon this world through the demon gate even today.

  Demons and demonic beasts of levels that far exceed the main continent’s monsters roam free on this island, but all of that is because of the demon gate as well.

  People called this island the demon island (Onigashima).

  For those who are born in a place like this, weakness itself is a sin.

  The weak who would hold the others back would have to leave the island immediately– that is the consensus of those who live here.

 

  I left the dojo like I was running away, and then I packed my luggage in tears.

  Then, the next morning, I left the house at the same time the sun rose from the east.
Strictly speaking, I was kicked out of the house.

 

  「This is my room from now on.
Hurry and get out.
Oh, right.
I’ll be the heir of the Mitsurugi house from today on, so this house is mine.
All of that is father’s orders」

 


  The man who said that with a faint smile on his face was my little brother, Raguna Mitsurugi.

  Even though he was my little brother, my hair color is black and his hair is blonde.
As the difference in our appearance tells, we are brothers with different mothers.

  He was thirteen years old like me.
Even our birthdays were on the same day.

  He is definitely more talented than me in the sword.
His physique is better too, and he is smarter.

  Raguna’s mother was the daughter of a great noble of the empire, so he was at the top regarding his bloodline.
But since he wasn’t the child of the legal wife, the position of heir for the Mitsurugi house went to me.

  I knew that Raguna did not like that one bit.
He never tried to hide that.

Even at this moment, he stared at me with his blue eyes that were filled with contempt.

 

  「Hm.
Finally I’ll be released from this mortification of having to call your incompetent ass my older brother.
Sora, you are father’s son but you still can’t even use shinsou(soul equipment).
You are an embarrassment to the Mitsurugi household.
Don’t ever show me your face again.
No need to worry though, I’ll properly do the job of the heir.
Your fiancee Ayaka too, I’ll take real good care of her」

 

  「Raguna, you…!!」

 

  「Haha, you look like you want to beat me up at any second.
Good, try it if you can.
However, in a situation like this, I should defend myself as well, right? Don’t think you can defeat me when you couldn’t even do a thing to a dragon tooth warrior— shinsou reiki (Energize, soul equipment)!」

 

  The moment he yelled out, a sword appeared in Raguna’s hand.
It was a splendid two-hand sword that was glowing golden yellow.

  Just how many times have I seen this radiance? It reminded me of the overwhelming difference in our abilities every time I saw it.

  Why? Because him having that sword is pretty much the same as having to face two Ragunas.

 

  Inside a human’s heart, there lies another inner-self deep within the soul called the Anima.

  The secret to the phantom blade style was to become aware of this Anima, control it, and materialize it.
That is called “shinsou”(soul equipment), and Raguna, who was thirteen years old, has already mastered the art of that.


  It wasn’t just him.
Ayaka, who I was engaged with, and the other five pupils of the same age have all learned to use shinsou.

 

  It was a rare case in the history of the phantom blade style.

  Talents called on talents, and by training with each other, they started to polish each other and grow.

  The golden generation.
That’s what the people referred to them as.

  There was only one person who did not master the art of shinsou.

 

  「Hmm, your legs are shaking, you know? Are you still not going to ready your sword? Haha, whatever.
Any more than this would be bullying the weak.
The phantom sword style is the evil-crushing sword that protects the people.
As the heir of the Mitsurugi household, I must be kind to the weak.
Here, I’ll give you these」

 

  With that, Raguna threw three gold coins onto the ground.

  It’s a great amount of money that would let you live a comfortable three months.

 

  「I want to tell you to pick them up– but you still have a little pride in you, right? Or are you going to act like a beggar before me? No worries, I’ll be leaving in a second.
After I’m gone, please slowly pick the gold up, my dear brother.
Hahahaha!」

 

  After laughing for a while, Raguna left in long strides.

  I made a fist as I stared at his back, but my mouth and feet did not move; it was as if they had been frozen.

  In the meantime, Raguna’s figure disappeared beyond the gate.

 

  After there was no one else around, I glanced at the ground.

  The three coins that he had thrown on the ground were shining dully as they received the morning sunlight from the east.

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