Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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This an edited Machine Translation, which has been checked by at least one Japanese-English Human Translator for quality using feedback from the machine translators and proofreaders. This may have a quality dip in accuracy, therefore, if you read this chapter you must take into consideration the tradeoffs between speed and quality.
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――Among the battlefields that painted the struggle for the Imperial Capital, two places had transformed into scenes that particularly stood out.
One of the places was the second bastion, where the Cloud Dragon that had arrived from beyond the sky was majestically spreading its wings, and where the scene had been painted white in order to prevent its damage from spreading to the surroundings.
The other place was the first bastion, where the scorching hot sky had been colored red――the power of a young woman at the center of it all had made the environment so harsh that the survival of any living organism was under threat.
Flickering akin to the very flames of the sun, Arakiya’s body leapt through the red sky.
Making an ample display of her capability as a Spirit Eater, Arakiya had transformed the world; it was already a hellscape that ate away at the lives of those who lacked power beyond the realm of rationality.
Arakiya: [I, will definitely――]
――Take back the Princess.
That was the primary, and only, reason that Arakiya had taken to the battlefield like this.
It was not out of loyalty or patriotism as a General First-Class of the Empire, pride or dignity in being one of the strongest existences that were the Nine Divine Generals, anger for her kind, or any malicious thoughts for her own ambitions whatsoever.
The other Divine Generals had their own motivations and reasons for fighting.
She did not have any such noble basis on which to support such strength, nevertheless, serving as the strongest force on the side of the Imperial Capital, Arakiya, the Second, reigned supreme over the battlefield.
However, considering her origin―― considering the fact that she was a Spirit Eater, that was a matter of course.
Strength being demanded from them, it was the way of being for the Spirit Eaters to be forced to use that strength not for themselves, but for the sake of others, and Arakiya was no exception to that.
In the first place, the Spirit Eaters were extraordinary creatures that could only have such a nature.
Spirits were beings present everywhere throughout all the vast lands and skies.
Eating those spirits, taking in their power, the Spirit Eaters would become one with them―― it was an outlandish action equivalent to taking nature itself into one’s own body, so inevitably, there was a wide variety of effects, both large and small.
If one took in a Fire Spirit, their body temperature would rise, and if one took in a Wind Spirit, there was the danger that their inner body would be torn apart. If a Water Spirit was taken in, it could put one’s circulation of blood at risk, and if one took in an Earth Spirit, it was possible that they would become one with the earth and even lose their human form.
In fact, because of those side effects, many aspiring Spirit Eaters had ceased to be human.
Created in ancient times to oppose a lone Witch who charmed all, whom even the wordless Great Spirit obeyed, they were beings devised for the purpose of fighting, much like the Oni Tribe that could sense Miasma.
After the death of that Witch, the Spirit Eaters of the present day had lost their original purpose, but zeroing in on that power and utility, a faction within the Vollachian Empire sought to restore them.
Arakiya too, was nothing more than a single person recognized for her rare abilities within that endeavor.
Her rare abilities were the two foundations required for a Spirit Eater―― That is to say, a body that could withstand taking in a spirit, and a soul that could remain human even after subsuming a spirit.
In the first place, the method by which the Spirit Eaters extracted power from Spirits was an unconventional technique, and the method of bypassing various conditions to extract nothing but their power was accompanied by a great many risks. That was their big difference to the Spiritual Arts Users who borrowed the power of Spirits, and to the Acolyte Knights from the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko who gained their power through a system of vassalage.
For the latter two, there was the requirement of effort to establish a relationship with the target Spirit, but if a contract had been established, there was no danger in using their power as long as the relationship with the Spirit did not break down.
On the one hand, even just to maintain their power, Spirit Eaters needed to constantly replenish themselves with new Spirits, and they continued to be frightened by the possibility of losing their physical and mental selves with each replenishment.
If their mind and body succumbed to the Spirit even once, their body would permanently lose its original form, and their mind would assimilate with the Spirit, dragged into an non-human dimension.
On the other hand, an overly strong ego would greatly hinder one’s affinity with Spirits, making it impossible to achieve the full potential of a Spirit Eater in the first place.
Therefore, in order to be in harmony with the power of the Spirit they had taken in, a Spirit Eater would be required to have an almost diluted sense of self and ego. However, as mentioned above, an ego that was too weak would invite an easy assimilation with the captured Spirit, and there was a high chance of losing one’s humanity.
To prevent that from happening, the Spirit Eaters were bestowed a pillar―― that is to say, taking over from their weak ego and sense of self, a “core” to keep them from losing sight of themselves.
The function of imprinting, akin to when a newly hatched bird thinks of the first one it sees as its parent bird, was deeply rooted into the instincts of the Spirit Eaters, forming their foundation, just like a pillar.
The tremendous power of a Spirit Eater was wielded for the sake of that pillar, and the naïve mind of a Spirit Eater was then made up for by that pillar.
Doubtlessly, a Spirit Eater’s precise reason for existence was their pillar.
――Without any ambition for betrayal, a Spirit Eater would continue to selflessly pledge service to their pillar.
After many sacrifices, which were so numerous as to make one feel depressed if they were counted, the Spirit Eaters of ancient times had been resurrected in the present day. Even the people of the Empire could not possibly justify this success considering the number of lives that had been paid.
Therefore, the girl who had become the sole instance of completion, as an existence with invaluable abilities, was presented to the Emperor of the time, Drizen Vollachia, and Drizen bestowed her as a foster sister to one of the daughters that had inherited his own blood.
It was unknown what impression the Emperor Drizen Vollachia harbored for the girl that had been presented to him, or for what reason he had bestowed her to his own daughter.
If there was one thing that could be said, it was that the girl functioned exactly as the faction that had planned to revive the power of the Spirit Eaters had desired, so Drizen had decided on the pillar for the girl who was presented to him.
And above all else――,
――As a Spirit Eater, Arakiya had been perfected as an existence that was more obstreperously powerful than any of her predecessors who had once been called upon to fight against the Witch.
After the world had begun to overheat in a complete mockery of common sense; just breathing flared the lungs, as blood vessels running through one’s body swelled due to the heat, while even the teardrops to moisten the parched eyes evaporated.
In an environment where life was being consumed moment by moment, any half-hearted approach would not even get one close enough to check the color of Arakiya’s eyes. No matter the kind of life, it would be left behind, thirsting, withering away and dying, unable to keep up with the altered world.
For that reason, except for Arakiya, having been at the center of this world alteration; only two people stood on that vast land overlooked by a red sky, Yorna and Priscilla.
Even Yorna and Priscilla could not escape the feeling that their lives were being slowly eaten away.
Yorna’s cheeks stiffened at the sense of loss, after her fourth hairpin noticeably broke apart.
The Soul Marriage Technique allowed the many offerings made to Yorna to stand in for her life. Thanks to this, Yorna was not physically injured and her movements were unhindered, even when fighting the literal monster that was Arakiya.
Yorna: [If only I could get rid of this pain in my chest.]
Standing in for Yorna’s life was, in and of itself, proof of the love that had been put into these gifts.
The hairpins were by no means outstandingly designed or expensive. They were merely various things that had been offered by the residents of the city under Yorna’s protection, using their own horns, scales, and body parts.
There was only love, respect, and trust. Therefore, no price could be put on them.
Priscilla: [The hairpin shattered? Just like the other hair ornament a moment ago, they are slowly being whittled away at, Dear Mother.]
As the shattered pieces of the plain ornament trickled through Yorna’s fingers, Priscilla landed next to her with the train of her red dress fluttering.
Wielding the dizzyingly radiant Yang Sword, Priscilla’s beautiful profile revealed her fearless expression. ――At her remark, Yorna slightly narrowed her eyes,
Yorna: [Needless to say, to treat the gifts of my beloved children as a mere number of substitutes for my life is utterly loathsome.]
Priscilla: [What an adorable thing to say from someone extending their life by transferring it for nigh an eternity, Dear Mother. Are you hesitant to call me, who has never presented a single gift to you, your beloved child?]
Priscilla: [Incapable of playing along, are we? ――Then I shall speak pragmatically, just as you wish.]
Shrugging her exposed, pale shoulders, Priscilla turned her gaze forwards. To this attitude and tone Yorna retorted “Pragmatically, you say?”
In response to this, Priscilla slightly raised her chin.
Priscilla: [How much longer can we fight with that thing, I wonder?]
Priscilla turned her crimson eyes up towards the sky. ――Immediately following, a torrent of water spears rained down upon Priscilla and Yorna.
Gritting her teeth, Yorna braced herself for the fierce downpour of water spears by lying face-down.
The fired water spears had each been compressed to be as thick as a single finger, but one should not underestimate the power a single finger could possess.
The densely compressed torrent, piercing through everything standing in its way and mercilessly cutting down any potential threats, could tear someone limb from limb in a single fatal blow.
To wield such a delicately difficult technique that required an enormous amount of water to crudely split the ground open so effortlessly; except for the inherent danger, none of it seemed consistent.
Yorna: [――Hk, Priscilla!]
Laying face-down and pouring all of her efforts into evading the downpour of water spears, Yorna called out Priscilla’s name who was using the Yang Sword to deflect the torrent of water.
As she brandished this radiant treasured sword, Priscilla successively cut through the torrent of water, rendering them completely ineffective, even though double the number of water spears were aimed at her in comparison to Yorna.
Between Yorna and Priscilla, it was easy to guess which one Arakiya attached more importance to based on the sheer volume of water.
The dance-like swordsmanship of Priscilla whirling the crimson blade through the air was a mesmerizing sight of gracefulness.
However, one could hardly say that she fully repelled Arakiya’s assault.
Just like how she had alluded to the remaining ornaments on Yorna’s body a moment ago, Priscilla had also had much of the jewelry adorning her beauty shattered over the course of the battle.
It was not only Yorna who had a limited time remaining.
Priscilla: [Even if you blow off my limbs, yes? ――What a macabre hope to be entranced in.]
As Priscilla received a piercing attack in her ample bosom, the jewel of her necklace exploded.
Priscilla’s crimson eyes did not bat at the fate of the jewel standing in for her life, but instead they were fixated solely on Arakiya’s figure in the sky.
However, seeing Priscilla’s profile looking at Arakiya, Yorna could not believe her eyes. For a moment, it was hard to believe what was wrong with those crimson eyes.
Yorna: [Do you regret it, Priscilla, the way Arakiya is?]
Priscilla: [Nonsense. ――Everything in this world is made for my convenience.]
Priscilla snorted at Yorna’s question and leaned forward to run.
The way she left her mother behind to rush to her estranged foster sibling made it seem like she hid her feelings for both of them in order not to look into their eyes.
Yorna: [I am also full of regrets.]
Yorna did not know what kind of encounters and partings there had been between Priscilla and Arakiya.
Even though she had been in a position to know, the opportunity to learn about it had been snatched away with her life. In her previous incarnation, Yorna lost her life during a difficult childbirth whilst delivering Priscilla.
In the aftermath, the Imperial Selection Ceremony took place, and the daughter of Vollachia’s Royal Family―― Prisca Benedict, was also defeated in battle and had lost her life.
That should have been the entire life of the daughter known to Yorna’s previous incarnation, Sandra Benedict.
For some reason, time passed, and circumstances unfolded in such an implausible way that Yorna and Priscilla were reunited.
They were reunited not as Sandra and Prisca, but as Yorna and Priscilla, and through a miracle that originally should never have been possible, mother and child were going through this red hell together.
――Yes, they would go together.
Muttering this word briefly, Arakiya’s entire body literally overflowed with power.
Whether it was fire or water, wind or earth, light or shadow, the being of infinite transformations that used the entire composition of the world, poured all of her energy towards the approaching Priscilla.
Responding to Priscilla’s demeanour, who was about to take on the streams of water and lightning rushing toward her with nothing but her body and sword, she was met with the sound of a thunderous roar――,
Yorna: [――I love you.]
A moment later, Priscilla’s raised Yang Sword was about to collide with attacks of water and lightning directly above her as they suddenly disappeared. ――No, they did not disappear like smoke.
Undoubtedly, they were cut away by the slash of the Yang Sword.
However, the sword flash drawn by the treasured sword of crimson was even more refined and blindingly fast than before.
Priscilla: [This is…]
With a slight, surprised exhalation in her voice, Priscilla’s well-shaped brow furrowed.
Winds of reddish flame approached her from all directions. But, Priscilla did not hesitate to slash away the scorching winds with a strike, easily cleaving them away.
As if to reaffirm, Priscilla then adjusted her grip of the treasured sword and gently touched her own face. Her fingertips gently caressed her eyes, but she likely did not sense anything unusual.
Yorna already knew. That it was something entirely different from a tangible effect accompanying the flame.
――It was the bond Yorna shared with her beloved child taking form as the flame that burned in her eyes.
Priscilla stood straight, with the treasured sword of crimson in hand, and her left eye ablaze.
This was the proof of Yorna’s protection bestowed to the inhabitants of the Demon City of Chaosflame. By granting the Soul Marriage Technique, a portion of Yorna’s power could be shared with the target she sought to protect.
Originally, it was a secret technique granted by Yorna to protect her children who did not have the strength and technique to fight for themselves, as they shared a bond no warrior could be endowed with.
But an exception to that rule arose here and now.
A being equipped with the power and technique to fight, alongside a treasured sword no one outside the Royal Family of Vollachia was allowed to wield, that fulfilled the requirements as a beloved child Yorna wished to protect regardless of her power.
Priscilla: [At last, you are willing to recognize me as your own child, Dear Mother.]
Yorna: [How impudent. ――I shan’t be a foolish mother who just looks as you walk off into the distance. If you’re going, then I’ll be going to the same hellscape as well.]
She did not intend to let Priscilla go any further by herself.
Priscilla sniffed at Yorna’s answer and permitted her resolve as she stood beside her. As proof of that, Yorna felt something strange on her face causing her to gently move her hand there.
The cause of that discomfort was in her eye―― Most likely, there was a flame harbored there, the same as Priscilla.
The two users of the Soul Marriage Technique, which could not be performed without qualifications, fulfilled each other’s conditions, and complemented each other’s souls. ――A phenomenon that truly could never happen, happened.
And then, having witnessed that,
A faint voice escaped, and a gaze fell to the ground, as if a curse.
Staring at Yorna and Priscilla side by side was Arakiya, placed in the sky. She ran her hand over her face and the eye patch covering her left eye.
Then, she tore it off as if wrenching it away, and,
Arakiya: [Why! Why, why, why, do you have, the Princess’s…!]
Laying her anger bare, Arakiya displayed the red eye bereft of all light under her eyepatch. Yorna was reflected in that eye, incapable of sight, and Arakiya called out to her with those pair of red eyes.
To Yorna, whose eye harboured a flame, having received the blessing of the Soul Marriage Technique from Priscilla.
By Arakiya, whose eyes harboured no flame, unable to receive any blessing from Priscilla.
Arakiya: [The Princess… is my… hk]
Priscilla: [Make no mistake, Arakiya. Even supposing your wishes were to be tolerated, and even supposing I were to concede, you would still be mine, and I would never become yours.]
Priscilla: [And, mineself would never concede to anyone.]
At Priscilla’s decisive gaze, Arakiya gasped slightly.
However, after that stern declaration by Priscilla, a small sound of protest had interjected.
Priscilla: [Dear Mother, for what reason did you strike mineself on the head?]
Yorna: [You should not speak in such a manner. I don’t remember raising my children to be so high and mighty.]
Priscilla: [Dear Mother, I don’t remember being raised by you in the first place.]
Yorna: [In that case, it seems that chance has finally come around.]
Saying that, Yorna lowered the kiseru that had struck Priscilla’s head with a clunk, and slowly shook her head before looking up at Arakiya.
In her eyes, there was an invariant anger, and a slight discomposure at what had just occurred.
Staring fixedly there, Yorna put the kiseru in her mouth and inhaled the purple smoke as she stood among the hellscape.
And then, giving a somewhat cheerful smile that did not fit the situation,
Yorna: [Finally, you have seen me, General First-Class Arakiya. ――The chance has come for me to atone for my lack of virtue in failing to discipline you, together with Priscilla, as I should have.]
Arakiya: [What do you…]
Yorna: [To put it simply――]
Yorna exhaled purple smoke as she took in the bewilderment that was carried in those words.
Wrapped in the smoke overflowing from her lips, her eye burning with her daughter’s trust, Yorna Mishigure, the mother that was once Sandra Benedict,
Yorna: [――I am not a parent who cuts corners in disciplining her children. Prepare yourselves, little girls.]
Thus, she harshly declared.