Intermission- On Demon Island


  On Demon Island where strong demonic beasts and apparitions run rampant, there is only a single place where the people can live in peace.


  That is the fortress city called Shuuto that was built by the first generation sword saint who created the phantom blade-style.


  If one were to look down at Shuuto from the sky, they would see the beautiful shape of a seven-pointed-star. 


  That is the so-called star-shaped fortress, and to protect these 7 quarters from outside threats is 1 of the 2 absolute duties that had been entrusted to the Eight Flags of Green Woods.


  The ones who safeguard the 7 quarters are the 7 squadrons from the 2nd flag to the 8th flag.
The 1st flag that is led by the family head himself is deployed at the center of Shuuto. 


  While they act as reinforcements for the 7 quarters, they have the role of carrying out the other absolute duty.


  That is the role of stopping and pushing back the monsters that flood out of the demon gate that’s located in the center of Shuuto.


  Threats that are surging in from the outside and threats that are overflowing from within- For 3 hundred years since Shuuto was built, it was constantly under those two threats.  


  It’s a hopeless situation where if it was any other city or country, it would have been crushed along with their citizens in no time.


  However, Shuuto is still doing well today, and within the fortified walls, the adults are working hard and the children are laughing.


  The people in Shuuto believed.
They believed that there’s no threat that could put Shuuto in peril, and even if there was, they were sure that those threats would never reach them.


  That trust the people have is neither blind trust nor a delusion.
It’s a trust with the hard evidence of the longstanding 300 years of peace as its solid base.


  It’s exactly because the Mitsurugi family that rules the island are the ones who realized that miracle, their reputation is stronger than Shuuto’s walls and higher than Shuuto’s lookout towers――With such thoughts, Gozu Cima proudly looked at his master’s back from behind.


  The 17th generation sword saint, Shikibu Mitsurugi.


  He has an average build.
Whether it be height or body mass, Gozu was superior to him. 


  However, the power inside them is incomparable.
The title of sword saint is not just for show, as Shikibu Mitsurugi is at the top of the Green Woods Eight Flags not because of his status, but because of his strength.  


  He is Demon Island’s strongest, in other words, the strongest in the empire, and by extension, the world’s strongest. 


  Gozu admires his master from the bottom of his heart, and he feels the greatest honor about his sister, Cecil, giving birth to a son for him. 


  Shikibu has a lot of sons, so Gozu’s nephew Ibuki who is turning 4 this year will never be the heir of the Mitsurugi family.


  However, that fact does not affect Gozu one bit.
The sword saint’s blood entered the Cima house, so just that alone will allow Gozu to be proud in front of his parents and the generations of family heads of the Cima family.  

  The days he would be able to teach the grown-up Ibuki the sword is not far from now.


  ――When he had such thoughts in his mind, another young man’s face suddenly surfaced in Gozu’s mind, and his expression turned heavy for a second.


 It was the face of the Mitsurugi family’s heir that his master had once entrusted him to.


  A painful memory of him failing his master when he wanted Gozu to foster him into a full-fledged warrior of Green Woods.

  It has already been 5 years since they severed ties.
What is that young man doing now?――While Gozu wondered about such things, Shikibu already walked ahead of him, and then Gozu quickly chased his master from behind.   


  Eventually, Shikibu stepped foot underground.


  After he walked down a long staircase that seemed to have no end, he arrived at a room underground where sunlight doesn’t reach.


  In that shut in space where there’s no wind, there was a seemingly endless amount of candles lined up.  


  At a glance, almost all of the candles were lit.


  There’s no wind because the flow of air is cut off.
There shouldn’t be so much fire burning in such a location, but no matter which candle it is, its flames were burning bright red and there were no signs of them going out.


  As soon as Gozu walked into that room, he instantly knitted his brows.


  In the center of the room, an old lady was sitting there with countless candles surrounding her.
Gozu knows that all the candles in this room are the old lady’s soul equipment.


  Its ability lets her grasp the situation of every warrior of Green Woods while she remains in this place.


  Naturally, one of the candles represents Gozu as well, and Shikibu probably has his candle too.


  The fact that his own life is reflected as a candle and how it’s entrusted to the old lady’s hand makes Gozu feel uneasy.


  Because of that, Gozu did not like this place――Even though he knows that it’s not like his life would end if the old lady blows his candle out. 


  Then, Shikibu opened his mouth for the first time.


  「So which flag did the fallen warrior belong to?」


  His low voice echoed within the room.
In response to her master’s question, the old lady opened her mouth.


  「The 4th flag, ranked 9th, master」


  「……Jijinbou, huh?」


  「Yes master.
Since he was using his soul equipment, there’s no mistake that he died in battle」


  After Gozu heard that, he furrowed his eyebrows with a reason that’s different from before.


  Gozu does not know who Jijinbou is or what he was doing.
However, if there’s a casualty on the island, Gozu should know about it.


  In other words, this Jijinbou guy died in a fight outside of the island.


  A single-digit ranked soul equipment user was killed by a human outside.
Moreover, it wasn’t in a surprise attack, it was while he was using his soul equipment.


  That’s a strange enough situation to make a seasoned warrior like Gozu move his brows.


  After a short silence, Shikibu moved his mouth.






  「Jijinbou went to the Kingdom of Canaria.
He had a secret mission to establish a marriage between princess Sakuya and that kingdom’s crown prince.
This was an imperial order from the emperor, so the emperor’s vassals are going to make a fuss about it if the mission failed.
I’m also concerned about who took out one of our warriors」


  「Yes master.
Then I shall go to the Kingdom of Canaria and find out what happened」


  「I’m counting on you.
Bring two subordinates to go with you」


  It’s not that Shikibu did not trust in Gozu’s strength, but rather, it was an order to tell him to go show the outside world to the young warriors. 


  Showing the outside world to the youngsters who only know what life on the island is like is something that’s necessary when looking from the perspective of their education.


  However, even the ordinary warriors of the island have battle capabilities equal to heroes of the outside world.
Among the youngsters who find out about that truth, there might be some who will try to run away to pursue money and fame instead of fighting the harsh battles on the island.


  Therefore, there needs to be someone watching over them, and Shikibu is using the incident as an opportunity to have Gozu do that.


  From this one example, it was clear that Shikibu doesn’t really take the incident this time seriously.
All he cares about is his sword and guarding the demon gate.


  However, regardless of how his master feels inside, as his retainer, Gozu has to give it his all when an order is given.


  Gozu nodded strongly.


As you instructed, I will show the youngsters the outside world」


  After he said that, the faces of two youngsters surfaced in Gozu’s mind.

  Strangely enough, they were young warriors the same age as the heir he thought of earlier.

  Just like Ayaka and Raguna, they were 2 of the 7 people who were praised as the golden generation.  

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