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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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The various battles across the span of the city, were gradually meeting their end.
The destruction caused in areas now altered into battlefields was immense, and the city’s faculty had been greatly impacted.
This very fact, which conveyed the extent of the catastrophe that had transpired in this city of Priestellaーー could be labelled as the result of the malice brought forth by the Witch Cult into the city.
Within the situation of such devastation continuing to rise and be inflicted, there existed a single battlefield with a different hair colour.
Rather, it may not even be appropriate to call it a battlefield.
Only the solemn sound of swords clashing echoed, with each of the coruscating swiping swords aiming for the other’s life.
Present here was only the tactless wish of two swordsmen, with the tips of their swords pointing towards each other, shredding everything unneeded with their, what could be at least said, true desire upon them.
The swords’ blades continued to gleam under the moonlight, and the swordsmen continued to exchange love over clashes of steel.
Sharp reports, scattering sparks, grey and red hair continued to dance under the rays of the moon.
A swords dance so magnificent and polished, it would indisputably steal the sights of all audiences, or rob them of their hearts, it was such that even the Sword God would ululate.
The unimaginably lustrous movement of the longsword, as though blading through water.
With a rebound, the twin swords swept through the breeze, striking the other like lightning.
As though dancing a performance of reciprocated fixation, the swords of the two continued to intertwine with each other.
Wilhelm accepted the sword slash of the one in front of him, of Thearesia, who was still as beautiful as when she had been young, from the front, bathed in the sword slash with the same vigour, and woed at the reaction he felt in his palm.
Boiling up from the depths of his body, was the acclamation of his immature self’s heart, despite his age.
ーーHe was getting exhilarated.
ーーHe was getting delighted.
ーーHe was blooming.
With honesty, must he affirm.
The Sword Demon Wilhelm thought back to the days gone by, and yearned for a present where he could, once again, connect with his youthful wife. His heart had been scorched by that.
His mind was now occupied by the thought, by how much he desired and how he would willingly renounce everything, if only it meant for this exchange of swords, this tryst, to never come to an end.
Such greed was blasphemy, it was unforgivable for him to even bear it.
Blasphemy, to the untiring days the Sword Demon Wilhelm had dedicated to the sword.
Blasphemy, to his oath of taking away the sword from the Sword Saint Thearesia, once he put her to defeat.
Blasphemy, to his sentiments of utmost dedication to his master, as a swordsman.
To detachedly follow the love that lit the chest of Wilhelm van Astrea, would be blasphemy to everything that was living in this world at this very moment.
ーーHenceforth, he must not defer the cessation.
ーーRegardless of how much these moments, had proven to be a delightful paradise for the Sword Demon.
Wilhelm: “Hiy, a~a~a~a~!!”
A mute slash of the sword, swept through like a storm, to which he responded with his own barrage of innumerable sword strikes.
With long, deep red hair swaying, Thearesia’s movements, clad in white clothes, possessed no vacillation.
Like a leaf afloat a stream, the lethal sword was fired from the interior of her completely natural stance.
Up, down, left, right, her sword strikes had no particular angle.
However, as the attacks overlapped, Wilhelm felt something be slightly off. He felt this cogent discordance in her responses as well.
Thearesia van Astrea’s ability as a swordsman was exceptional.
Naturally, even when his body was at its prime, Wilhelm unmistakably failed to rival that territory in terms of pure swordsmanship.
Even now, that prowess remained abode in Thearesia’s blade, as she stood in front of him, silent.
The art of the Sword Saint, to mercilessly kill adversaries, that invited both relief and envy onto guardians.
ーーHowever, her current self and her self of those days, had a realm of decisive difference in between them.
As the twin sword and longsword collided face to face and sparks scattered around, the Sword Demon remarked.
Locking swords, Wilhelm acutely stared into the blue eyes on the other side of the sword’s blade.
Wilhelm: “Without even a need to compare, it’s light, Thearesia. ーーYour sword, which rid itself of its hefty burden, is it something so light.”
A certain tone, words mingled with disappointment, yet the eyebrows of her beautiful face let not even twitch.
Thearesia, with perfectly clear eyes, lacking all emotion, was returning a look to Wilhelm.
No refutation, no revolt, they did not hold even enmity.
She used to be a woman who used to often smile, often get angry, often sulk.
She used to be a woman beautiful like the blade when she was silent, but the times of her being silent were almost none.
She used to be a woman like a spherical flower, blooming under the sun.
ーーThus, her state now, was naught but tragic.
Present there was only the shell of his silent wife.
As he exchanged slashes of swords with the figure he had continued to love, Wilhelm’s heart shattered into fragments.
Prancing as if having returned to the days of the past, attenuating as if understanding the days of the past could not be returned to, casting aside the days of the past as if having a dream akin to a bubble on the surface.
ーーFor fifteen years, what kind of a life must Thearesia have lead.
When he thought back to the time he had lost her, and dedicated himself to vengeance, the incurable wound on Wilhelm’s shoulder ascertained itself.
A wound inflicted by the『Divine Protection of Death God』, never disappears.
It was the Divine Protection aside from the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』bestowed upon Thearesia by the Sword God, in order to bring cease to those days of war.
A single slit could generate a river of blood, a few slashes could pile up a mountain of corpses.
Henceforth, there lay no necessity of superficial cleverness and artfulness for her, in order to sever the thread of life.
Indeed, the only way of defeating Thearesia, was through swordsmanship superior to that of hers.
Wilhelm of the past had shred himself to his extreme limits, with such austerity that converted his own self into a sword, by persevering till the very end had he truly managed to accomplish that.
There was no way of defeating Thearesia, who, too, got her abilities boosted to their very limit through the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』.
And now, having exchanged swords with her youthful self, Wilhelm understood.
ーーHer abilities with the sword were transcendent, and lay in the territory of dexterity. However, there was one enormous shadow casted upon her swordsmanship.
Wilhelm: “Even if you felt troubled before holding the sword, you no longer felt troubled after taking hold of it. You were a woman, who knew that even better than myself.”
Wilhelm: “Do you remember the day we parted. At the occasion of the Great Subjugation, you shook me up as I stopped you, and inflicted an incurable wound upon this shoulder of mine. ーーYour words back then, I have not forgotten even a single one of them.”
She gave no answer. He did not solicit one.
This was simply Wilhelm’s ceremony, looking back onto that day.
Along with the pain of this shoulder, the memory etched within also resuscitated.
Whilst she commenced with the Great Subjugation, a journey she could potentially never return from, Thearesia had verbatim let go of herself from Wilhelm, and had expressed.
ーーWhen I return, that day, please let me hear the words I could not hear.
Wilhelm: “I have come here, to fulfill the promise of that dayーー!”
The twin swords roared, and Thearesia’s longsword strummed.
The former Sword Saint swung the blade utilising that recoil but Wilhelm, without even looking at that counterattack, dodged by fully reading through its trajectory.
He knew it.
Where the blade was going to come, so much so that he was in love with it.
Wilhelm: “Ru, o~o~o~o~!”
The habits were the same. The techniques were the same.
Scorched onto his soul, within the austerity of his former self, when he had shred himself, he had painted them in his mind, the sword techniques of the Sword Saint he was in pursuit of.
Defeating her, swearing to take it away from her, reaching that territory, he yearned, yearned, and they were scorched onto his soul.
It was the same, along with her figure, which warmed his chest.
Even against Wilhelm’s implore, the ravishing face of rose did not flinch, even slightly.
As the sword aimed for its prey soundlessly, silently, emotionlessly, Wilhelm shot it down altogether.
He loved it so much, that he knew it even with his eyes closed.
That is precisely why, he now chose to love it without closing his eyes.
ーーAbove, countered the slash, exchanged swipes, raised the blade, slashed the sword diagonally.
Accepting the blade raining down upon him, and sinking the counterattacking strike, dodging the swipe then released, gyrating his body around the leaping point of the sword, both sides, who had slashed diagonally across each other’s shoulders, then entwined their swords as the key performers, and shifted the counterattack.
Surpassing the blows with an elegant safeguard, impossibility arose in Thearesia’s swordsmanship.
Thearesia, who had accumulated the blows, retreated, and Wilhelm plunged into that interval without any hesitation.
For a single moment, emotion arose within Thearesia’s eyes, who was looking at the Sword Demon.
No, it was his misapprehension. His effeminate heart, had pulled out the memory of a situation of the past, identical to this one.
ーーWithin the sights of abundant citizens, Wilhelm had struck and defeated the lead actor of the ceremony, the『Sword Saint』, and robbed the youth named Thearesia from the Sword God.
A facsimile of that situation, identical as this one.
Then, the conclusion too, would be identical once again.
Wilhelm: “Thearesiaーー ~hk!!”
Wilhelm attacked the longsword, flying towards her bosom.
The Sword Demon hoisted up his twin sword against it, and unable to bear the pressure, there occurred a fissure in the blade. But, at the same time the longsword repelled it by turning right overhead, and half of Thearesia’s body largely opened up.
Drawing a wide semi circle, Wilhelm’s twin sword made its return.
Since the origin of this tryst till this point, Thearesia, who was right before his eyes, produced the greatest interval yet. With the muscles of his arms swelling up, he gripped the handle of the sword, to the point it started creaking.
And wielding the attack with all of his might, now must he put an end to this inconceivable reunionーー.
ーーHe attempted to, put an end to it.
Violent passion packed his throat, countless facial expressions levitating in his eyes.
Her face when she was crying, her face when she was angry, her face when she was sulking, her face when she was smiling, levitating were the beloved expressions, of the same woman.
Shaking that off in its entirety, Wilhelm shot down the blade.
The sword slice bolted, straight from the head till the torso of the womanーー.
Before the slash could strike, a person’s shadow emerged in the corner of Wilhelm’s eyes.
At the utmost limit of focus, it was a fluctuation in his concentration originally impossible. However, that was all there was to it. Without any kind of influence, it was nothing beyond what he could simply ignore.
As a swordsman, with his life on the line, must he cross swords at the border of life and death, no bystanders could ever create any room of doubt in that.
Devoting his everything to the being in front of his eyes, he fulfilled his purpose with a sword slash befitting of the Sword Demon.
That was supposed to be what he was going to do. That was supposed to be what he could do.
ーーHad the shadow reflected, not been that of a person of red.
There was distance in between.
The doubtful mutter was not at a distance where its echo could reach Wilhelm.
Yet, he felt the voice as though being whispered right into his ear.
Looking towards him, was a man with blue eyes and red hair.
Heinkel Astrea, was observing the final moments of this battle.
Simply dazed, at the denouement of the deadly swordsmanship of his father, Wilhelm, and his mother, Thearesia, as they aimed for each other’s life.
ーーAt that moment, the glint of his sword became dull.
He was supposed to have fired a decisive strike.
Pouring himself into the trends of the fight, a sword strike that was supposed to bring an end to this long dreamーー the glint dulled, giving birth to a scope for counterattack.
Thearesia bent her body immensely, and reversing her wrist, the rebounding longsword rejected the twin sword away.
The sound of the two blades colliding echoed, and she disarrayed down the strike that had promised to wound her, with her heart, technique, physique, and distanced his purpose further away from fulfillment, as sparks scattered about.
Wilhelm: “Kh…… ~hk.”
ーーWhy, did he take notice.
Receiving the blow of the sword fluttering in the wind, sidestepping its weight, Wilhelm clashed head-on with his emerging doubts with all of his heart.
Had he not noticed Heinkel’s presence, or had he ignored his presence, had he kept focus on Thearesia, he would not be in the unsightly shape he was in now.
He had determined to dedicate his entire life, and take Thearesia away from the Sword God.
The result of that aggrandized decision, did it have to be this predicament.
Once again, commenced the successive notes of light sword strikes.
However, the blade that had formerly turned transparent after the exchange of blows, had already lost its swords dance.
Foreign impurities had intermingled.
Using all kinds of strengths of all possible limits, further enhancing the purity of the blade, had all been lost by the edge of the sword, which was supposed to have been swung only twice, due to a single appearance on the other side.
All what remained was a solitary strike by the aged Sword Demon at his beloved wife, in front of their son.
Without becoming a sword, without living as a Sword Demon, he was far too immature, far too deficient, as a father, as a husband, as a swordsman, as a man.
Eventually being rendered incapable of a single swing, he realised his immaturity.
He was unable to stop foulness from intermingling with the essence of the swordsmanship pouring into the sword.
Henceforth, this result may have been inevitable.
Once the two blades were shot down, he then immediately jolted the longsword.
Receiving the power of the sword strike with tactless earnesty, their strengths were being compared within the interval created by Thearesia halting her legsー the moment he overcame the resistance and stepped ahead, the slender body in front of his eyes rotated, creating a vacuum around.
A leg appeared before him, halfway, and an interval was born.
Immediately afterwards, premonition of demise shadowed him.
He received the supremely mighty sword slash of indubitable coldness, by gyrating his sword towards the rear with not even a millisecond of delay.
Without being able to stop the shattering attack, his sword, that had accepted it, encroached deeply into his own shoulder. Stepping as if on a foot bellow, his body whilst bent forward spouted blood. His bones creaked, his muscles palpitated a lighting in his brain.
His right blade had accepted it. His left blade still remained.
With blood cascading from the edge of his mouth, Wilhelm, using his right blade, as if carrying it on his shoulder, once again deflected Thearesia’s longsword upwards.
Devoid of inaccuracy, Thearesia’s longsword was raised overhead.
At the same time, the sword fell from Wilhelm’s right hand. He did not mind. If his right hand was now free, he must dedicate all of his strength into the remaining left blade and strike.
With his left blade, he hammered a blow into Thearesia, behind him.
Carving a clockwise trajectory, a grim sword strike pierced upright into Thearesiaーー,
A sound echoed, a high-pitched report.
The weight of the blade in his hand was halved, and Wilhelm, wielding his own errs, having innumerably recognised his own weakness, once again took notice.
The moment he struck Thearesia with the attack, Wilhelm chose to act subconsciously.
The blade gripped in his left hand, whether he should strike it by gyrating it towards the left or towards the right.
A slight, mere, meagre difference.
But at the same time, it marked a lethal difference for those two, who had attained the extremity of swordsmanship.
If he chose velocity, left, or if he opted for strength, then right.
After getting caught up in that choice, if he managed to realise he had erred in that action, things could still be helped.
Wilhelm, whilst determining whether or not to look at Thearesia straight ahead, in that single instant, lost his way.
Accepting the Sword Demon’s attack, was a single swing released by Thearesia’s grip.
Catching hold of it while it was mid-air, Thearesia cut into the trajectory of the attack.
The moment she accepted the sword, and engaged it whilst standing still, she swung it down with immense force. This cracked the belly of Wilhelm’s sword, and rejected the steel, faced with no resistance.
The longsword fragmented his sword, and Wilhelm perceived the loss of his special weapon. Instantly gripping to the handle of the fractured sword, he prepared for the following attack, which was in his instinct as a swordsman.
However, that preparedness would bear fruit, only if he differed in the purity as a swordsman.
In that respect, her self, in front of his eyes, was the worst possible opponent.
The Sword Demon who lost his sword, and the『Sword Saint』loved by the Sword God.
That difference was clear, no necessity for even delineating it.
ーーDuring the juncture he forgot to even blink his eyes, Wilhelm saw the longsword pierce through his right leg.
It was a sword so beautiful, to the extent he charmed by it.
The blade penetrated into the joint of the aged swordsman’s right leg, and the edge of the sword was contaminated by minimal blood.
Without any unneeded destruction, right through the gap between muscle fibres and nerves, taking away only the functionality of the leg, it was the excellence of preeminent swordsmanship.
The lack of resistance was such that it seemed as if the blade was simply swiping through water.
With that performance being held upon his own right leg, Wilhelm’s back shuddered.
Was his emotion that of admiration, vexation, infatuation, he himself did not know, which one complied.
What he did know, was only the truth of his defeat being thrusted into his face.
Wilhelm: “Gh, ugh…… ~hk.”
As the blade embedded in his right leg slid through, the height of his knees was divided.
Just as when the longsword had pierced in, his flesh was drawn out soundlessly, Wilhelm groaned upon the delayed pain and crumbled.
As blood flooded out of his leg’s wound, his lower body was rendered powerless.
If the power of the『Divine Protection of Death God』was invoked, any type of healing magic may be used, but it shall not heal. The closer the distance with the wielder of the Divine Protection, the more its effectivity increased, no matter how marginal the wound, it became a curse that eroded away life and coerced endless bloodshed upon the victim.
The wound on Wilhelm’s right leg, was not so slight as to be labelled a shallow wound. It was a gash that could be life threatening if it was neglected, and the『Divine Protection of Death God』was obligated to refuse all recovery.
It seemed as if the deadline for his life, had been set for a period excessively short.
As his brain was being scorched by the pain, he leaked out his grief prior to his anguish.
The sense of pain was stimulating an incessant screech, but Wilhelm revealed it on his face simply via furrowing his eyebrows and nothing else.
He was not frivolously holding it back, or affixing it to his willpower.
The sharp impetus upon his body, could not possible ever outstrip the darkness veiling his heart.
When despair, despondency, and his own cowardliness and worthlessness was being scorched onto his soul, what significance could physical ache possibly hold for this aged swordsman.
Dropping the sword in his hand, Wilhelm put his hand on the mouth of the wound.
The bleeding was supposed to leak away his life but the defeated had no intention of disgracefully maintaining distance. However, according to etiquette, he must not meet his end by something like blood loss.
He had fought as a swordsman, he had opposed as a swordsman, he had been defeated as a swordsman.
Then, the life of the defeated, was to be taken away by the sword of the victor.
Wilhelm: “Thearesia, I am……”
The female swordsman of rose, with her longsword being carried on her shoulder, was looking down towards Wilhelm.
In those eyes, truly, existed no deep emotion. Without remembering anything until the very end, and continuing to not remember anything, she was the death god of the sword who was going to reap Wilhelm’s life.
He looked up at the beautiful face, such that he was fascinated by it.
Thearesia, silent, swung the sword before Wilhelm. Once her sword descended, Wilhelm’s life, too, would come to an end.
Wilhelm: “All alone, never will I……!”
The instant of the longsword’s descent, Wilhelm extended his right hand. Lying there, was a fragment of the twin swordsーー the sword Thearesia had cast aside.
Wilhelm picked it up with his fingers, and floundered, unable to accept the moment of his death, till the end of the end.
His defeat, that remained unchanged.
That could not be helped.
But her, in these moments, he must not render Thearesia, her, alone.
Unable to stop his wife, who was being made to swing the sword against her will, he could not allow her to advance towards Crusch, whom he was greatly indebted to, or Subaru and the rest.
If his ignition of his life was insufficient, then he did not mind the destruction of his soul after death.
ーーHowever, the brandish of that resolution was.
Keeping her sword held tight, Thearesia leapt a great distance backwards.
The blade he held in his right hand, she was a distance that its swipe would not reach her. At a position that would be beyond Wilhelm’s reach, whose leg had been injured, Thearesia slightly inclined her neck.
Emotionless eyes, seeing a terribly empty colour in them, Wilhelm, for the first time, experienced fright.
That fear, was a fear that arose in his instinct, in Wilhelm’s instincts as a swordsman.
There lay no necessity to go out of the way and deliver a finishing blow, to a prey bearing fatal injuries.
With the pride of a swordsman long lost, this was the judgement which could only be cast by a calm death god.
Wilhelm: “Wait…… Wait, Thearesia!!”
Wilhelm shouted, at the dread of being left behind.
His leg did not hurt. Forgetting the ache of his right leg, Wilhelm tried to pursue the distant Thearesia. However, the pain, or at the very least, the wound, was real. Without any strength, he tumbled. Potently striking his shoulder, the aged swordsman made an expression conveying how unforgivable this was.
Swinging about her long, red hair, Thearesia became further distant.
Ahead of the path of her self’s footsteps, was Heinkel, standing upright.
The longsword, with no decline in fighting spirit hitherto, established him as its next prey.
Slashing the man whom she did not know was her husband, she shall next slash the man whom she did not know was her son, for that purposeーー.
Wilhelm: “Stop, Thearesia! Do you think that is…… that is forgivable!? Fight with me! Look at me…… at me! Look at me, at me, Thearesia~a~a~a~!!”
With a voice as though bleeding, Wilhelm called Thearesia.
Innumerable times, innumerable times, that name which he wished to call whilst having her in his eyes, in a form utterly unalike the figure he had thought of innumerable times, rage in lieu of love, insanity in lieu of ardour, devoting it all.
However, the woman did not look back.
Gripping firmly the sword where abode the death god, the woman slowly resumed heading towards Heinkel. Heinkel inhaled at that figure advancing ahead, and unsheathed the knight sword with his own trembling hands.
Heinkel: “W-Wait, I said wait. Y-You…… Thearesia he said, no way? It can’t be possible…… It, can’t be mother…… ~hk.”
Heinkel: “No, even if it isn’t mother…… that’s not it! Fa-Father had become like that, so…… shit! What is this! Just what is this, what are you doi~ng!”
Looming before his eyes, was Thearesia of her youthful days.
That form, and the form of her as a mother within Heinkel, shall never overlap. He shook his neck horizontally in repudiation, and desperately tried to deny the spectacle before his eyes, voicing words he failed to put a halt to.
His knees sneered, his line of sight disarrayed, and his figure, whilst wielding the sword, too, seemed frail.
Faced with the former『Sword Saint』, he had not even the slightest of chance.
At this rate, unquestionably, Heinkel shall get slashed to his death by Thearesia.
That alone was something, which could never be allowed to happen.
Wilhelm: “Thearesia! Over here! I am still alive! If you want to kill then kill me first! Heinkel, there’s no way you can do it! Right this instant, flee!!”
Supporting himself with the sword, Wilhelm stood up feeling as though he was crunching stones. With no room for grasping his wound, with an increase in pressure further of his blood gushed out.
A cascade of fresh blood, the cobblestone subsequently metamorphosed into a hue of red, and whilst pulling the thread of that blood, Wilhelm pursued Thearesia’s back.
Distant. Too distant.
Slow. Too slow.
Once again, Wilhelm did not make it. Once again, Wilhelm could not reach it.
Wilhelm: “Hugh…… ~hk.”
Thearesia’s longsword drew an arc, and the knight sword of Heinkel, who had tugged his shoulders inward, accepted it.
With not even the slightest stagnation, Heinkel’s knight sword left his hands far too quickly, giving rise to a shrill note as it bounced on the cobblestone.
Heinkel: “S-Stop…… Please stop, m-mom……. ~hk.”
Rendered unarmed, the frightened Heinkel fell on his bottom at that spot. Flailing around his limbs desperately, Heinkel tried to escape, as if crawling.
However, his quivering fingers, his terrified heart and Thearesia’s eyes devoid of emotion tethered his mind and body to fear, and he was rendered nearly perfectly immobile at his locus.
His throat was parched, wiping off the tremendous cold sweat he was perspiring, Heinkel made a pallid face.
There had possibly been some incontinence there as well. However, robbed of the composure to even feel embarrassed about that, Heinkel stared at the tip of the longsword hoisted upward.
ーーAs though slicing the moon, the longsword extended directly towards the heavens.
At the brink of his life, Wilhelm could accomplish naught but witness the spectacle of his wife slash their son to his death in front of his eyes.
He raised his voice. It did not reach.
He stretched his hand. It did not reach.
No strength remained in the merely hollering voice of the Sword Demon, who had been unable to dedicate his everything into the sword.
Heartlessly, the longsword was swung to cut off Heinkel’s lifeーー.
???: “ーーThat’s as far as it goes.”
That voice suddenly, but distinctly, cut into the seemingly stinging tension.
With a dignified tone and not a single fragment of vacillation in it, it wielded no pardon. Those who heard it were struck with the aura of an overwhelming existence, it was simply natural to abide by its will.
Wilhelm, Heinkel, and even Thearesia halted all movement.
Ahead of the line of sight of the three, stood a single youth.
Blazing red hair, like fire, perfectly clear, gleaming blue eyes which captured the blue sky.
Even with his white outfit contaminated by blood and mud, the figure, standing upright, was needless of any words to be adorned with except for heroic.
The youth, steadily, continued to advance towards the location.
In his hand, was a scabbard with the engravings of deep wounds, and a knight sword unsheathed from that scabbard.
A sword blade polished to an extent of aberration, he clutched to the Dragon Sword Reid.
ーーThe voice of the laughter of the Sword God, resonated raucously in the ears of the Sword Demon.