Gozu vs Sora (⅔)


  The two soul equipments clashed with a clang.


  The splattering sparks shined fiercely even in the sunlight, illuminating the two swordsmen’s faces.


  This former mentor and protege who faced each other at the closest distance fought with their fighting spirit flooding out of their eyes.






  Sora and Gozu’s roars echoed on the premises of the residence, and the sound of their continuous swordplay was so loud that it hurt.


  Right, left, front, right, a feint to the right, front, front.


  Sometimes there were strikes with brute force, and sometimes there were surprise attacks that involved technique.
The two soul equipments released sparks constantly as they collided like they were struggling with each other, or perhaps, playing with each other. 


  It was mainly Sora who was on the offensive.


  Due to Gozu’s soul equipment, Juzumaru, Soul eater’s power had been sealed.
However, that doesn’t mean Sora’s own strength was sealed too.


  With his entire body covered in an overflowing amount of kei, Sora slashed furiously.


  On the other hand, Gozu committed to defending and observing his opponent’s movements.


  From Gozu’s point of view, Sora’s kei techniques truly had many unnecessary movements, and his sword skills were also clearly inexperienced.


  However, like what he said to him just earlier, Sora’s attacks also had an eye-opening strength and precision to them.
Ordinary soldiers and adventurers would be no match against the current him.


  Even Gozu can’t afford to be careless.
Sora is a dangerous enemy that can take his life if he were to show the slightest opening or hesitation.
Even though he has been dealing with all his attacks easily up to this point, it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t being careful. 


  ――That being said, a natural smile had ended up on his face for some reason.


  Gozu asked himself why that is.


  And the answer came to him right away.


  It’s because he’s having fun.
To have a sword bout with the grown-up Sora――something that he had once dreamed of but couldn’t accomplish has now become reality.
He couldn’t contain his happiness when that thought came to his mind.



 On top of that, as they cross swords like this, he can tell that Sora is growing up at a rapid rate.
That fact was bringing Gozu joy as well.


  The Sora who couldn’t pass the trial ceremony could not learn the phantom blade style officially.
He has been training the basics, of course, but there was a limit to what he can do with that. 


  Since his kei techniques and sword techniques were self-taught, it’s natural for them to have many weak points and unrefined parts.


  To Sora, Gozu is a massive wall to overcome, but also a hard-to-come-by model at the same time.
Even when they are trying to kill each other, there are many things he can take away from fighting him.


  Defensive body movements, footwork, and the flow of kei.
The more they exchange blows, the more Sora’s skills started to sharpen.


  Sora was doing the same attacks over and over one-sidedly, and Gozu would occasionally focus on defense.
From a third-person point of view, it might look like the two were practicing.


  ――Needless to say, Sora was not trying to do that at all.




  Not being able to get over Gozu’s defense that’s like a huge unshakable castle wall, Sora clicked his tongue and retreated.


  At that moment, Gozu could have pursued if he wanted to.
But he didn’t do that because he didn’t want the fight to just end like this.


  As he faced Sora who had put some distance between them, Gozu muttered to himself inside his mind.


  “It would be too much of a waste if I have to make this young man not able to wield a sword ever again”.


  He’s had similar thoughts so far, and Gozu also had to admit that those thoughts did come from his personal feelings.


  However, the emotion of regret he feels right now was coming from his position as the Mitsurugi family’s Shiba.


  He was sure of it after he actually tried crossing swords with him.
The lid that once blocked Sora’s growth in the past is completely gone.
He’s still an amateur in many ways, but Gozu could fix all of that.
Judging by how Sora’s 18 right now, he will probably be able to grow even more from this point on.


  Moreover, there’s his soul equipment’s ability.
Its power is sealed by Juzumaru’s power right now, but a power that can win against the Berch siblings would definitely be useful against the monsters from the demon gate.
It might even aid them in defeating the demon god.


  It would be the loss of the Mitsurugi family if this talent was lost, and a great one too.
He has to bring him back to Demon Island no matter what.


  However, Sora would never listen to him no matter how many times he tries to talk to him.
That has already been proven.


  Even though they decided to let their swords do the talking, would Sora listen to him if he just wins as expected like this?


  No, Gozu thought.


  Sora has gained power and lost his pride.
That power is his soul equipment.
If he just wins with that soul equipment’s power sealed, Sora wouldn’t admit defeat.


  “I would have won if I could use my soul equipment”――As long as Sora thinks that, he will not walk the right path again.


  In order to set him straight, he has to beat Sora’s soul equipment in a crushing manner.

  If he takes Sora down fair and square while he can use his soul equipment, it would show him that there’s always someone better out there, getting rid of the arrogance that is eating at his heart――Gozu believed.


  「Becoming aware of anima, controlling it, and then materializing it into something.
That’s what we call soul equipment――That’s what I told you in the past, Sora」




  Sora gave Gozu a questioning look from his sudden words.


  Gozu continued without minding his opponent’s reaction,


  「I was going to tell you more when you learned to do that someday.
The soul equipment is only the beginning.
In other words, nothing more than the entryway.
I would have told you to not be satisfied just from achieving that.」


  「……Just the entryway?」


The moment you obtain your soul equipment, you become in sync with your anima.
How someone harbors their anima varies per person, but that power is immense overall.
It brings a person to a height that surpasses what a human can reach」




  「You turn that immense power into something you can handle with your hands, and that is what the soul equipment is.
But all you’re doing still is just turning a power that you can’t handle into something that you can――It’s a forced method no matter how you put it.
That’s what I meant when I said soul equipment is just the entryway.
The people who manage to bring out their soul equipment have a new mission assigned to them the moment they are able to do so.
That mission is to overcome the inherent forcefulness that’s in your soul equipment and bring out the full potential of your anima’s power」


  Gozu said.


  Soul equipment is like the wooden swords you give to a child who can’t handle real swords.


  Soul equipment users use those wooden swords to improve themselves and learn how to draw out the power of their anima. 


  Then when they finally can draw out the full power of their anima, they will obtain power that can surpass human limits and kill even mythical beings.
That’s what it would mean to control a power that humans can’t reach.


  Gozu then weaved together some words as if he was chanting a verse.


  「Delicate makes formless.
Soulless makes limitless.
Without form, therefore infinite.
The domain of surpassing humans and killing mythical beings, that’s what we call the domain of “void” in the phantom blade style」




Your name embodied the wish of Lady Shizuya.
That is certain.
And I believe Master Mitsurugi had also put his wish in you.
He had definitely named you Sora because he wishes for the son that’s born in this world to be on the same level as his father someday」




  「You probably won’t believe what I’m saying right now.
As I said, I’ll show you how I will crush your arrogance with you at your full power.
From here on, I will show you the domain of void, the essence of the phantom blade style――Prepare yourself」


  Gozu raised Juzumaru in his hand high into the sky.


  Then, he said,


  「Kuusou reiki」


  The moment his voice was heard, the string of beads that was wrapped around his sword guard snapped, scattering the numerous bundled beads in the sky.


  At the same time, Sora felt as if there was an invisible hand grasping his heart.
That illusion-inducing pressure was distorting the space of the surrounding area.


  Juzumaru started to change its form before Sora’s eyes.
The ordinary-looking sword was contracting in a creepy manner like an amoeba.


  It was as if “something” that was sealed by Juzumaru was being set free, Sora couldn’t help but realize that.  


  Right now, a mythical killing power was about to descend on the city of Ishka.




  At the same time, in the deepest parts of Titis forest.


  “It” was dozing off quietly.


  Like thunder, tornados, earthquakes, or erupting volcanos.


  It was a phenomenon that is triggered when the world’s conditions were met.
A mythical disaster born of flesh and blood.


  “It” had been manifesting little by little since a few months ago.


  The stake that obstructed its manifestation until now has been pulled, and there are no signs of that stake going back in.
Therefore, there’s no stopping its manifestation now.


  After just a little more time it will fully come into the world.


  Until then, it intended to doze off a little longer.


  However, it noticed an unpleasant presence today.


  It sensed that a being that can kill it is nearby.


  “It” being born when the world’s conditions are met means that it’s the same as a natural phenomenon in that sense.
However, in “that thing” that has flesh and blood, there is the instinct to ensure its own survival that a natural phenomenon won’t have.


  It cannot tolerate any existence that can destroy it.


  “It” raised its head.


  Slowly, in the shape of a sickle――it lifted all 8 of its heads.



TLN: The domain of “void”(空) – read “kuu”, also uses the same letter as the name “Sora”(空)


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