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――Rowan Segmunt was a Stargazer.
Stargazer, in a sense different to the official position of the Vollachian Empire, to which Ubilk, who was one among them, had been appointed by Vincent Vollachia for the first time; he was a Stargazer in the original sense of the expression.
Bestowed with a commandment that ought to be prioritized more than anything else in their lives, a being that would relinquish anything and everything in order to fulfill their grand purpose; that was a Stargazer.
One could surmise that Vincent’s act of deliberately conferring the title of Stargazer upon the official position held by Ubilk held not only the purpose of bestowing meaning unto the aforementioned post, but even possessed the intention to reduce the very existence of Stargazers to a formality. The Wise Emperor’s true motives may be ignored for the time being, however.
What was important, was the fact that Rowan Segmunt was one of those people bestowed with a commandment.
The compulsive force that acted on a person vested in a commandment, thus becoming a Stargazer, was quite strong.
It was endowed with power to interfere with human life such that it could provide a mere male prostitute the influential voice to frequent the palace as to provide the Emperor with his opinion, that it could cause a frail mother to forget the love she felt for the daughter to whom she had given birth while on the verge of death, that it could easily make someone abandon the objective they had devoted their entire life to.
Upon receiving their commandment, many Stargazers would have the lives they had been leading till that point distorted, coerced, forced to alter the principles of their way of life. And, they did not consider that as a tragedy.
Rather, having been granted a great ambition, one they needed to accomplish even if it took them their entire lifetime, doubtlessly believing that fulfilling it was the purpose of their very birth, they even felt great happiness.
No matter how abnormal, how pitiful it might seem to those around them, that was how it was.
But, in regards to that tragedy shared by the Stargazers, the position Rowan had been placed in was an exception when compared to his fellow Stargazers.
After all, the commandment bestowed upon Rowan Segmunt was to reach the Heavenly Sword.
――And that was none other than the great ambition Rowan himself had harbored even before the commandment had been bestowed upon him.
Rowan: [To master the way of the swordsman, many months and years spent with steel in hand――]
Rocking his head from left to right, his face flushed red with a scent of liquor, Rowan sang in good humor.
There was no particular melody to it, but since he was in such high spirits, he could not help but sing. Happily staggering back and forth, his footwork would appear to be that of a dance.
A while prior, slightly before the uproar of the black-haired Crown Prince had begun, the nostalgic fragrance of blood had hung in the air across the entire Empire.
An omen of war it had been; as the reign of Vincent had been so ridiculously docile, Rowan had had a hunch that its backlash would cause an extremely large disturbance in the world.
That hunch of his had been right on the mark. The Empire was now facing a moment of disaster, one in which even the boundary between the living and the dead was unclear.
Rowan: [Ahh, really, this is the kinda world I like.]
The world was estranged from peace, and the more chaotic the state of the world got, the more the way of steel would be refined.
He did not mean that more diligent efforts ought to be applied in that case, just that there should be more enemies who were worth slaying. But generally, it was quite difficult for astonishingly powerful beings to come into being during the midst of peace.
Even if souls did know where they would arrive, their frame of mind seemed to be harmonized with their vessels of flesh before inhabiting them.
Those born into turbulent times would come into being bestowed with the aptitude to live in those turbulent times.
Therefore, expecting those same souls to be dwelling within people born outside of turbulent times was a bet with really poor odds. Rowan had lost that gamble many a time, and was only blessed with Cecilus after killing eight of his own children with his own hands.
Upon seeing a drawn blade during their first bath after being born, Cecilus had been the only one to laugh at it as something he would come to love for his entire life.
Rowan: [To think that Cecilus has also hit his ceiling, and yet the Heavenly Sword is still far off. Ahh, ahh, really, really… I really was born in the wrong era.]
Using his palm against his forehead as a visor, Rowan grumbled out his lamentations many times.
The more chaotic the world got, the more into ruin that peace fell, the more the era would demand the overwhelming might of the strong. With the path to reach the Heavenly Sword having become so distant and steep, he wondered just how good it would have been to live in the era of four-hundred years ago, when all living things feared the Witch.
Had he been born in that epoch, there would be no fear of the path to reach the Heavenly Sword being cut short.
Much less, would Rowan have Cecilus――,
???: [――Oi, do you intend on doing this seriously, you.]
A voice called out to his tottering back from behind him, and Rowan turned around inquisitively.
With both legs firmly planted on the stone pavement, the glinting eyes glaring at him from above belonged to a red-haired swordsman of tall stature―― to a person bearing the name of Heinkel.
That man had ought to have been binge-drinking together with Rowan til a moment prior, yet he now wore a completely sober expression in stark contrast. Though expectations were that he would don a tidier appearance compared to the time Rowan had initially found him on a plain, he looked even more haggard than before, strangely so.
Rowan: [Yer spirits still kinda down? C’mon, redhead, let’s just drink. The town’s a lil’ lackin, but fortunately those undead folk are leaving the food and booze untouched.]
Heinkel: [Fortunately… Hk.]
Rowan: [Ohhh, looks like that rubbed ya the wrong way.]
As Rowan raised his alcohol-filled gourd up high, Heinkel grinded his teeth, his cheeks stiffening.
Since that response indicated refusal, Rowan reluctantly allowed that destinationless alcohol to pass through his own gullet.
As he had informed Heinkel, without paying much attention to the noticeable restaurants and residences, the undead were prowling around in search of the living, but their objective was neither food nor alcohol, it was blood.
That was to say, they were free to satisfy their hunger and drunkenness as much as they pleased.
Rowan: [What’s not to like about that? If stuff’s just gonna spoil if we leave it be, the rational thing for us to do’d be to have our fill.]
Heinkel: [Food and alcohol and whatnot, those things don’t matter in the slightest! I have no hopes for your sense of duty… for the sense of duty of both you and your kid. More importantly, answer me, do you intend on doing this seriously?]
As Heinkel raised his voice, Rowan closed a single eye at those words, and kept silent.
The red-haired swordsman seemed to have grown irritated simply because he was unable to wait for those few seconds; unable to guess what his problem was, Rowan went without knowing what the answer to that question was in earnest.
Guessing the thoughts and feelings of others was something Rowan was not very good at.
That same defect seemed to have been inherited by Cecilus, but he would overcome that problem by force, making use of a different point of view. Rowan could not do the same thing.
In any case――,
Rowan: [Redhead, are ya worried ‘bout whether or not I’m gonna take part in that helmeted gentleman’s plan?]
Heinkel: [That’s right. The flow of events brought me back here, but as Aldebaran said, this is a chance for redemption. I won’t screw this up.]
With a nod, Heinkel pointed over yonder―― No, far beyond that, he indicated the sturdy ramparts that forbade one from seeing the outside of the Imperial Capital from within.
To the star-shaped ramparts used to protect the citizens from the rebel army in the decisive battle for the Imperial Capital, and thus――,
Heinkel: [It’s one of the five bastions we’ve got to capture.]
His voice leaden and tense, Heinkel spoke of the target of their tactics.
The man in the steel helmet, the person known as Al had spoken of the “path” they ought to pave―― foreshadowing for the sake of the “hero” who would come after Rowan and the others who were currently in the Imperial Capital.
Presently, the only living people at this place were Rowan and Heinkel, and luckily, they had not come across a single dead person. Cecilus, Groovy, and Al had gone off in a separate group.
All of them were taking action to open holes in the strong bulwark that safeguarded the Imperial Capital.
The method that Rowan, Heinkel, and Groovy had employed to enter the Imperial Capital had been quite illogical, so it would likely be difficult for others to replicate. In that case, the notion that they had to create passages was a proposal that made sense.
Then, after parting ways with his son, who was boisterous even after being shrunken, the middle-aged duo began a carefree journey―― preventing them from doing so was the heat Heinkel was filled with. Wondering what to do, Rowan scratched his cheek.
Ignoring Rowan’s sentiment, Heinkel clicked his tongue, and,
Heinkel: [To be honest, I don’t get what your son meant by “foreshadowing”, but…]
Rowan: [Well, ya really shouldn’t worry too much about the way he speaks. Anyhow, there ain’t no doubt about the fact that things won’t be able to proceed as long as those ramparts are in use.]
Heinkel: [If you understand that…!]
Rowan: [――Why would I choose not to take part?]
As Heinkel bared his teeth and shouted, Rowan interrupted the words of the former and shrugged his shoulders.
His daunted face was actually hilarious, and Rowan wished to say that it would be delicious to drink alcohol while gazing at it, but going too hard on the booze would be a mistake. It would be a hassle to procure alcohol at this place, and there was no guarantee that the man in front of him would not carelessly draw his sword.
Rowan: [Nah, redhead here ain’t drawing his sword against me.]
Rowan: [Ahh, ahh, ya really don’t need to feel any shame. At the very least, I’m the type who doesn’t think it’s very brave to draw yer blade on anyone and everyone without distinction… since I don’t get the difference between what’s scary or not in the slightest.]
Tapping the side of his head with his finger, he touched upon a shortcoming unrelated to his intoxication.
Seeing Heinkel widen his eyes upon hearing that, Rowan looked towards the ramparts,
Rowan: [The reason why I’m not going along with the helmeted gentleman’s offer’s exceedingly simple… His objective’s to retake the Imperial Capital from the dead people, right? That ain’t something I really desire.]
Therefore, he had no reason to cooperate with the plan to get rid of the Imperial Capital’s defenses.
Those were Rowan’s honest feelings, but Heinkel still darted his eyes about in bewilderment. Rowan believed himself to have given a relatively clear answer, so he titled his head in confusion.
Heinkel: [So, in other words, you’re taking the side of those undead guys?]
Rowan: [Why’d ya think that? That’s an entirely different thing, innit. For me, the country’s falling to ruin courtesy of the undead rampaging about. It’s just that a situation of this sort’s convenient, I ain’t taking the side of the undead.]
Heinkel: […It’s no use, I don’t understand what you’re thinking in the slightest. To begin with…]
Heinkel: [Even if you don’t feel like doing it, your son… the Blue Lightning is eager to. Are you just going to overlook that, knowingly?]
Putting his hand over his mouth, Heinkel tried to chew through the information it had been forcibly stuffed with. However, the next thing he spoke was also irrelevant to Rowan.
While it was true that Cecilus was eager to go along with Al’s plan.
Rowan: [I’m me, and my son’s my son, that’s all there is to it. Besides…]
Rowan: [For Cecilus in his current state, the summit of the Heavenly Sword’s become distant once again. By being shrunken, his skill with the sword’s been dulled. With how he is, he won’t be able to fulfill the promise we made when he slayed me.]
With a light stroke of his chest, Rowan reflected on the slash that had been engraved there.
Groovy had loathsomely spoken of the case of the attempted assassination on the Emperor. Rowan’s involvement in it was in trying to get Cecilus to do it, so he could be considered as having instigated an assassination. Either way, after that attempt of his ended in failure, he experienced the stroke of a sword as punishment, and even now he did not forget the scorching heat of that instant.
Then, upon thinking that much, Rowan suddenly cocked his head.
Rowan: [However, redhead, ya seem to be awfully hung up on the matter of me and my son. Thinking back on it, yer reaction was the most intense, redhead. ――Anything wrong ‘bout it?]
At the fact that the shrunken Cecilus was Cecilus, and that Rowan was Cecilus’s father no matter if he was big or small, Heinkel’s reaction had been weighty and thickheaded.
Upon being inquired of the true meaning behind that by Rowan, Heinkel returned an unexpected answer.
Heinkel: […I’m Heinkel Astrea.]
Rowan: [Astrea… Astrea, Astrea, Astrea… Oh, OHHHHHHHHH!]
Putting on more than enough airs, Heinkel gave his name, and Rowan gazed at him in wonder.
At first, placing the sound he had heard on his tongue, the conviction did not sink into his brain until he had ruminated on it a few times. However, the very moment it clearly sunk in, his blood boiled at its significance.
Rowan: [So that means, redhead! You, you belong to the Sword Saint’s lineage!]
The Astrea Family of the Kingdom of Lugunica; that was the title of the being said to be the strongest within the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica, or perhaps, the strongest across the entirety of the lands of the Four Great Countries, not just the Kingdom.
A special mention went to the Sword Saint of the current generation, Reinhard van Astrea, whose existence he had heard to be exceptional across all the generations of the Astrea Family until now.
Rowan: [No way, no way, redhead! Ya didn’t pretend yer name was Heinkel while actually being this generation’s Sword Saint, did ya? So that means, yer a blood relative… No, is it yer son!? Yer son’s Reinhard! The father of the Sword Saint! Now this is quite the unexpected coincidence! What a bizarre turn of fate!]
He had heard that Reinhard was of the same age as Cecilus―― the same age that Cecilus was originally.
If that was the case, Rowan could fathom a rough guess of the relationship between Reinhard and Heinkel, as the latter resembled himself in age. At the same time, Heinkel, having finished processing his bitter hangups, wore an expression of reaching comprehension.
Rowan and Heinkel were the fathers of the Blue Lightning and the Sword Saint――.
Rowan: [More importantly, this means that yer a descendant of an ancestor who reached the Heavenly Sword, right?]
Rowan: [The reputation of the first generation Sword Saint, Reid Astrea, is true to the memory and the ears! In that case, as a fellow swordsman, I hold respect for those who’ve arrived at the summit that we all ought to aim for.]
The title of Sword Saint was proof of the extraordinary nature of the Astrea Family, and the first generation was considered to be the first to have reached the concept of the Heavenly Sword, a transcendent being who stood at the apex of all swordsmen.
The instant he thought that, it seemed as though his attitude towards Heinkel until now had been rude; hence, a wish to apologize began to rise. Just how rude had he been to a descendant of someone who had reached the Heavenly Sword?
Rowan: [Sorry, redhead. I apologize for all my impoliteness until now. I’d never even thought that a family member of Reid Astrea, who reached the Heavenly Sword, would’ve fallen so low.]
There was no response from Heinkel as Rowan placed his hand on the katana on his waist, and deeply bowed.
Suspicious of that, Rowan looked with an upward glance, and saw Heinkel covering his face with his palm, shaking his head. Then, as he let out a long, frustrated breath,
Heinkel: […Got it. I finally got it. Down to our very roots, I’m completely different to you.]
Rowan: [No matter what’s up, don’t let it get ya down too much. I’m me, and my son’s my son. And so, you’re you, redhead. Regardless, ya won’t be able to cut deep unless ya persist with steel.]
Heinkel: [――I have you to thank, for not letting me die back there. For that alone, I’m grateful.]
As if refusing to entertain the back and forth any further, Heinkel turned his back to Rowan.
For a moment, Rowan raised his head with the desire to cut deep into that upright back, but Heinkel was not the type to draw his weapon were his life to be in danger, so he decided to refrain himself from killing in futility.
Killing without any gain would merely dull the steel.
Then, Heinkel headed for the bastion he had pointed to, and would likely work hard to sabotage it.
If there happened to be a skillful individual there, it was unclear whether Heinkel had factored the possibility that he might become unable to do anything into his calculations, but if he intended on depending on Rowan in that possibility, Rowan was sorry.
But, Rowan had his own objective, and his relationship with Heinkel did not take priority over that in the slightest.
So, though he felt a bit lonely to be parting with his drinking buddy, they would just be briefly separating here――,
Heinkel: [What do you want to do by neglecting your son, oi?]
Before running off, Heinkel called out with his back still turned, to which Rowan raised a wry smile.
This also went for his face and expression, but Heinkel really did not betray the impression that he was an unmanly personage. Anyhow, Rowan had no hesitation at that question, and while patting the sword wound on his chest,
Rowan: [Of course, it’s for the sake of my own dearest wish. ――Redhead, I’m the same as ya.]
If he was referring to the matter of neglecting his son, then, they were the same in that regard.
Without any interest whatsoever in how Heinkel would respond to that, Rowan headed for his own objective, and broke into a light sprint through the Imperial Capital, where no living people remained.
――Well then, Rowan Segmunt was a Stargazer.
Vowing on his honor, Rowan also had a personality, desires, and a life before becoming a Stargazer, before becoming fully absorbed in fulfilling the commandment granted to him.
Of course, just like the majority of Stargazers, Rowan was bestowed with a commandment, and was compelled to change the way he lived upon becoming a Stargazer. But, to those around him, there was no noticeable change that could be perceived from Rowan.
That was because before he had even been bestowed with a commandment, Rowan Segmunt’s dearest wish was to reach the Heavenly Sword, and he was obsessed with doing everything that could possibly further that purpose.
Strong individuals who strived to master their techniques just like Rowan, fearsome Witchbeasts that attacked villages, people of the villages destroyed by those Witchbeasts, scoundrels who tyrannized others, saints who donated to others; he had systematically slain everything that could be useful for tempering his steel with reckless abandon, but he had not produced many results.
In various schools, he had studied, acquired techniques, then went on to cut down the heads of the schools; he had tried to unify the many techniques he had absorbed, but when he understood that it only led to the equilibrium of his own skills crumbling, he abandoned that as well.
Quite literally, he had continued to walk and walk and walk a path of blood, but the path to the Heavenly Sword was still unreachable; craving that from the bottom of his heart, he had even considered ending his own life―― and it was at that moment.
That was when Rowan was bestowed with a commandment, and became a Stargazer.
The Heavenly Sword must be reached no matter what, such had become Rowan’s destiny; that did not mean that he himself was to reach the Heavenly Sword, but that he was to pursue trial and error in order to produce a being qualified to reach the Heavenly Sword.
But, he did not know the correct interpretation. Fundamentally, Rowan’s methods always remained the same.
At first, he could do nothing else but try and do everything systemically. He immediately gave up on the path of finding those who had talent, and fostering them to reach it.
He could always perform more skillfully when he did things himself. If they could not perform more skillfully than him, then the Heavenly Sword was just a dream within a dream, so it was better for him to cut down and discard that ephemeral hope.
While he was doing that, he realized it.
There ought to have been meaning in the fact that he had expected himself to be the one who should reach the Heavenly Sword.
Thinking that, he tried to aim for the Heavenly Sword on his own once again, but when it remained an unreachable path even after recklessly endeavoring, and recklessly slaying people, he relinquished it.
That was not it. For Rowan himself, it was not meant to be. ――Rowan’s lineage, ought to reach it instead.
Thus, through Rowan Segmunt’s diligent efforts, a vessel to reach the Heavenly Sword, Cecilus Segmunt, was born, and Rowan’s duty was fulfilled.
Seeing his child soaking in his first bath, giggling as he gazed upon the drawn blade pressed against his neck, Rowan was released from the binds that had tied him down for a long, long time.
When a Stargazer ascertained that their commandment was fulfilled, they were liberated from the role bestowed upon them.
Afterwards, what would overcome the mind was a loss of understanding for the sense of values that they had calmly obeyed until then for no reason at all, even distorting their beliefs and convictions.
Of course, the same thing happened to Rowan.
In order to fulfill his commandment, he had been desperate to create a child with the talent to reach the Heavenly Sword; upon seeing the child born at the end of all of it, the moment he realized he had accomplished it, it did not matter to him anymore.
As a result, what remained was his son who was recognized for his potential to reach the Heavenly Sword, and his very self, who had lost sight of his goal to reach the Heavenly Sword, and had squandered the prime years of his life for the sake of others.
Faced with that immensely unbearable truth, this time, Rowan headed towards the decision to end his own life, which he had been unable to carry out in the past.
Laughing at the drawn blade which threatened his life, the son, having been promised to tread the path to reach the Heavenly Sword from birth, clutched the finger of the despairing Rowan, and those thoughts vanished without a trace.
For Rowan, who had cut down so many lives and basked in enough blood to form an entire lake, the shock that this feeble life brought him was unfathomable.
He had realized it.
At this moment, a being so weak that it could not hold even a single chopstick would acquire ability with the sword worthy of eventually reaching the Heavenly Sword. In that case, where was the reason to assume that his future prospects would only decline after passing his prime?
If a baby could reach the Heavenly Sword, then a path still remained for an old swordsman.
Ergo, Rowan forgot about his sorrow over the path being closed, and vowed once again to strive towards his own desire.
Bestowed with a commandment, fulfilling his commandment, having a child capable of reaching the Heavenly Sword born into this world, Rowan Segmunt was released from his duty as a Stargazer.
――Even now, he did not give up on the path to reach the Heavenly Sword, and continued to move forward.
Having separated from Heinkel, Rowan sprinted towards the north side of the Imperial Capital with vigilance.
Ahead of his route was the building that stood out the most within the Imperial Capital, the Crystal Palace, and there was no room to doubt that it had currently been transformed into the base of the undead.
Likely, the ringleader who was resurrecting the dead, with whom Groovy and Al were having issues with, was also present in the palace, but that was no reason for Rowan to halt his legs.
Storming the palace, and beheading the ringleader of the enemy faster than anyone else―― Let it be known that he was not heading for the Crystal Palace in order to bring the situation under his control.
That which he had told Heinkel was no lie, it really did not matter to Rowan in the slightest whether the Empire was saved or not. His perception was that it was better for chaos and disaster to be widespread.
There was a reason why Rowan was possessed of a single-minded focus on hastening to the Crystal Palace.
That reason was of course, his biological son, Cecilus Segmunt. However, even if the reason were stated to be Cecilus, it was not due to any parental love or affection.
Rowan: [That damn dullard, it’s absolutely outrageous that he parted ways with the Dream Sword and Fiend Sword.]
In Rowan’s mind as he gnawed his teeth, two katanas that concealed tremendous power were pictured―― Though there were many magic and holy swords in the world, only ten were swords of absolute power.
Two among them were Cecilus’s beloved katanas which he had parted with after being shrunken, the Dream Sword Masayume and the Fiend Sword Murasame.
Even if things were to take a turn for the worst, it would be troubling if those two katanas were to be lost.
It went without saying that, to reach the Heavenly Sword, the person in question was required to possess masterful swordsmanship and talent. But in order to prove to the world that they were the real deal, they must not yield in the aspect of using worthy steel.
And undoubtedly, Masayume and Murasame were two worthy blades.
Rowan: [I dunno when he’ll return to normal, but without his katanas, he ain’t gonna be able to fully take form.]
When the shrunken Cecilus returned to his original size, him being without his swords was out of the question.
It was possible that, during a moment of this exceedingly massive disaster, Cecilus would reach the Heavenly Sword. If Cecilus were to not possess his katanas when that came to pass, it would be absolutely outrageous.
――Even if Cecilus were to reach the Heavenly Sword, were he to go without wielding his perfect katanas at the moment Rowan cut him down, then the latter would have no proof that he himself had reached the Heavenly Sword.
In order to secure that proof, he had no choice but to recover Cecilus’s swords.
Rowan: [That bastard, what an imbecile to shrink and forget the promise he made with his father.]
In the past, Rowan and Cecilus had made a promise as parent and child.
When Rowan attempted to quickly make the entirety of the Empire into an enemy, so that he could have Cecilus reach the Heavenly Sword, Cecilus refused it because “That’s typical of a crude villain” of all things, taking Vincent’s side as he tried to slay Rowan.
Then, in order to have Cecilus turn a blind eye, Rowan had made a promise.
That eventually, once Cecilus reached the Heavenly Sword, Rowan would definitely come to kill him.
Accepting that, Cecilus dropped a gravely-injured Rowan into a river, allowing him to escape. Having survived through the verge of death, Rowan continued to improve his skills as he awaited the promised time.
And now, that moment was imminent, constantly drawing closer.
Rowan: [If the location hasn’t changed――]
While vested with the seat of First, Cecilus had spent nearly all of his earnings on swords.
Therefore, he did not have a mansion befitting a General First-Class, instead living his life in a small hut constructed in the field north of the Crystal Palace. If that had not changed, there was a high chance that both the Dream Sword and the Fiend Sword were being stored in that small hut.
In order to retrieve those and deliver them to Cecilus, Rowan headed for the hinterland of the Crystal――,
He evaded the eyes of the undead, he passed by the Crystal Palace, and when he tried to proceed to the base of the destroyed reservoir wall, Rowan took a great leap sideways due to a sudden presence.
And, that had been the right thing to do.
――A tremendous impact crashed down from overhead, its vehement, destructive force generating a circular crater in the main street.
The walls surrounding the Crystal Palace that faced the street warped and crumbled, and as a plume of smoke akin to an explosion filled his vision, Rowan clicked his tongue and unsheathed his blade.
Utilizing the cloud-cutting technique he released a strike to sever the eruption of smoke, he was then able to lay eyes on the being present beyond it, on the culprit that had produced the impact.
Standing there was a lone woman, of tall, slender stature.
With long flowing white hair, the woman was adorned in a blue dress and stood with an elegant posture. Though Rowan was completely ignorant in concepts of beauty and ugliness, his values would evaluate her graceful physique as quite beautiful.
Her long-slitted blue eyes were pregnant with a hue of sorrow, which brought suspicion to Rowan.
Unlike the undead, she did not possess black eyeballs of golden irises. Blood coursed through her white skin, so the woman fixing her gaze on him was likely a living person.
However, this was the palace of the dead, the capital of the undead, that conduct should be that of an enemy to the living.
Rowan: [Over there, ya’d be――]
Rowan: […Didn’t think ya’d introduce yerself so suddenly.]
His katana poised by his waist, Rowan moistened his lips, and narrowed his eyes.
She was a woman, but that was no reason to underestimate her. More than anything else, she was clad in the air of an unbelievably powerful individual. She did not seem to have a positive expression about wielding that power, but that was a matter trivial for Rowan.
With an expression that seemed to be extremely concerned over that trivial matter, as the fox ears hidden within her white hair trembled, the woman who called herself Iris,
Iris: [Return to where you came from. There is no need for anyone to die within the reach of my eyes.] 
Rowan: [My goodness, awfully sorry about this.]
Closing a single eye before the woman who was earnestly appealing to him―― before Iris, Rowan adjusted his grip on his katana.
No matter what his opponent’s intentions may be, if they were obstructing his way, there was no helping it. And above all else, to move aside when faced with this powerful of an individual was something impossible for a swordsman.
That was to say――,
Rowan: [――The path to the Heavenly Sword is still steep. I’m gonna cut ya down, then further down the path I shall proceed.]
 – Though she is now identifying as Iris, one thing to note is that her speaking style is still Yorna’s unique Arinsu-kotoba.