Human Translated By:
- Garcar (Section 2 & 3)
Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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——Projected within a shimmering blue jewel, was a scene of glimmering flames that seemed like the end of the world.
Locked and confined in a dungeon, before the eyes of the hanging Priscilla, being projected by the deathly pale-skinned Sphinx, was the fierce battle that was happening in one of the vertices of the Imperial Capital.
On the one hand, taking in the very core of the Empire for oneself, while on the other, fighting against a formidable foe and standing one’s ground, the reality of these two extraordinary circumstances coming together was already for the verses of legends.
As such, the many songs and stories that have been passed down from long ago were themselves thought to have been born in this way.
???: [——However, that is only if there remains someone to pass along what they saw and heard.]
???: [Do not force your desires on others, much less upon mineself. When boorishness reaches its zenith, even getting angry is irksome.]
While witnessing the same scene within the jewel, such was Priscilla’s response to her addressee’s weak in enthusiasm words.
Weak. Yes, it was a voice that was weak in passion. Not completely lacking passion, just weak. Feeling so, with her shapely eyebrows drawn into a frown, Priscilla observed the person beyond the jewel.
The undead confronting her—— Sphinx, who had introduced herself as the ringleader of the Great Disaster, had expressly come down to meet Priscilla, as if to flaunt the tragic situation in which Arakiya, with whom Priscilla held deep ties, was presently in.
Priscilla did not know what exactly Sphinx imparted to Arakiya while she was captured and isolated. But, the result was reflected in the jewel, and the purpose of doing so was before her eyes.
Arakiya was on the verge of exploding while trying to hold on to an existence that was too great for her, and Sphinx was observing Priscilla as she witnessed Arakiya’s suffering.
By those golden pupils the black was vanquished, as they hinted at a curiosity that failed to be fully concealed, as well as a tinge of expectation.
Sphinx had an expectation. ——That Arakiya’s suffering would cause Priscilla’s heart to waver.
Without a doubt——,
Priscilla: [——You are obsessed with mineself.]
Locking eyes with Priscilla who had spun it that way, Sphinx parted her lips without saying a word.
It was a confirmation, an expression of delight. Thus, being that the very impetus behind the Great Disaster, Sphinx’s obsession with Priscilla was unquestionable.
Although how that originated was still unclear, any deed motivated by obsession was something to be despised.
Sphinx: [To have something that was bestowed, forcibly taken away. It is an extremely heart-rending feeling, such is my learning from observation. How will it affect you? Confirmation: Required.]
Priscilla: [Your wishes are being fulfilled. Are you in high spirits?]
Sphinx: [It is true. I affirm it. As you said, I feel a sense of elation. I used to take for granted that everything would proceed according to the plans made in advance, but… my past self should have understood this sense of accomplishment. In that case, the outcome of the Demi-Human War would have been different.]
Sphinx: [——But, that would mean that I could neither give, nor could I earn anything.]
Taking a glance at Priscilla, Sphinx, who had been speaking with great eloquence, placed a hand over her own chest, and cast her gaze downward as if reflecting upon something.
There, noticing an emotion that was different from both joy and wrath directed towards her, Priscilla understood.
It was a figure that invoked a sense of mournful sorrow. ——And, it was also what drove Sphinx to instigate the Great Disaster.
Setting aside her thoughts about Sphinx’s motivations, Priscilla once again directed her attention to the scene projected in the jewel.
Regardless, the battle that unfolded on the battlefield was one that could completely change the very state of the world, a clash between what could be said was the embodiment of the Empire itself, against ineluctable lightning.
However, in the midst of it all, Priscilla had not failed to notice the weakness, which seemed to vanish into thin air.
Priscilla: [Weak, fragile, timid, born with nothing and resisting the notion of becoming anything; can such a one leave traces in the verses of myths?]
Sphinx: [What do——]
Priscilla, who averted her gaze, prompted Sphinx’s consciousness to wonder what she saw in the jewel. However, she did not try to ascertain the true nature of what caught Priscilla’s attention.
The reason was that earlier, tremors that could reach even the underground dungeons had erupted in various parts of the Imperial Capital.
Priscilla: [I presume that must be my elder brother.]
Sphinx: [Emperor Vincent Vollachia?]
Puzzled by the situation, Sphinx furrowed her slender eyebrows at Priscilla’s murmur.
For her, that possibility was not particularly high. Priscilla in the underground dungeon had no way of knowing what was the total number of forces Sphinx had at her disposal.
The Emperor, who once abandoned the Imperial Capital, found a way to break through the hordes of the undead.
Sphinx: [The swordsman who ended my life is in the midst of a one-on-one battle with General First-Class Arakiya… Even if the Emperor of Vollachia is a wise man, there are situations where one cannot overturn a hopeless board. ——No.]
With a finger running along her lips, Sphinx tried to dispel worrisome possibilities. However, in the midst of that contemplation, she narrowed her black eyes.
Sphinx: [——The strange element that prevented Valga’s stratagem, was involved?]
Priscilla: [Ho, did something come to your mind?]
Sphinx blurted out as if suddenly realizing.
Putting her thoughts into words, she then immediately denied them by shaking her head. At that time, Priscilla deliberately interjected.
The moment Sphinx glanced over, Priscilla, smiling enchantingly,
Priscilla: [Hastening when it does not stand to reason? If that is the case, then mineself shall give you “advyce”. ――Call it intuition, what you have taken a hold of.]
Priscilla: [Think of it as the taste of the wind sensed by your heart. It may be ironic for the dead.]
Snorting in response, Sphinx fell silent, pondering Priscilla’s words.
Neither dismissing with laughter nor dismissively rejecting was in line with her innate habit—— calling it innate was also ironic, but Sphinx continued to contemplate regardless of the concept of life and death.
Eventually, she slowly looked up——,
Sphinx: [Let us acknowledge it. There is a strange element that could disrupt my plan. ——Adjustment: Required.]
With Sphinx, standing in front of her, admitting her own change, Priscilla also gazed upward.
What was visible was the dimly lit, dark ceiling of the underground dungeon, faintly illuminated by the light of the jewel, yet unable to conceal the weight of history.
However, it only served as evidence of the narrowness of the view.
Priscilla did not look up at the sky to inspect the dirty ceiling.
For her heart would not miss the opportunity to sense the taste of the wind.
――Having begun unexpectedly, and concluded pragmatically, the battle started anew sacrilegiously.
As innumerable swordsmen of the same face assailed her from all directions, Iris, after a moment of shock, shattered them head-on.
Iris: [Strange, yet it is nothing more than a paper tiger.]
As the dress-clad Iris swung her arms, the approaching blue-haired swordsmen―― the group of Rowan Segmunts had their heads, torsos, hips, and legs mowed down, being blown away like leaves off a tree.
But, there was also a Rowan who had slipped past her initial attack, and made it to a distance at which his blade could reach her. As he threw himself at her with all his might, Iris easily intercepted the attack with two fingers, inclined her body to evade the sword, and swung down her upraised legs to shatter what remained of him.
It was quite literally a total beatdown, for even if he had amassed more numbers, he was not worthy as an opponent.
That was the difference in strength between Iris, and the undead-turned Rowan.
Rowan: [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Next.] / [Kahaha.]
As the opponent who had been kicked senselessly sprang up one after the other, her thoughts froze.
Raising smiles of satisfaction as if to say they had placed their hands upon their desire, the men closing in―― no, the group made up entirely of the same Rowan, turned their blades toward Iris.
Reflexively fighting back against the berserking sword slashes, while she was countering all of them―― what flashed through Iris’s mind, was the guilt that she had erred.
By causing surrender through brute force, and chasing people away without taking lives, she had tried to decrease the number of casualties, even if only by a few.
Iris had ignored the fact that her arrogant ideals crushed the hearts of those who were dyed in the Imperial Way, likely causing them to suffer.
As a result, as a victim, Rowan’s state had become like this before her eyes.
Iris: [I am…]
Evading the swung blades, she struck her kiseru into several of the approaching faces. Kicking one of them up with the inside of her long leg, she grabbed the leg of the airborne body, and heartily slammed it towards the Rowans in the surroundings, blowing away another ten of them that were approaching.
However, no matter how much she struck and whittled them down, she did not know if the vigor of the reviving Rowans could be stopped.
Iris: [I am…!]
Having suffered Iris’s attack, the body of the undead Rowan shattered, unable to endure.
Rowan was shattered to pieces like a ceramic bowl, however the next Rowan trampled over him with his zori without paying him any mind, and was also shattered upon jumping in.
Repeating that so many times, it was the same as being placed in the position of an executioner with no end in sight.
By nature, there were some people who thought nothing of destroying things that took the form of people.
However, in most cases, the act of destroying the human form, the receptacle of life, was something that took great resolve and determination, or perhaps accustomation or resignation, in order to be possible.
Iris could be said to be the extreme of the latter case.
Now still, even if it was an opponent that showed hostility against her, she could not kill them without feeling any anguish in her heart.
For that reason, Iris had manifested the Soul Marriage Technique, a power that could not be mastered without compassion for others.
That was what had propelled Iris to the apex of strength known as the Nine Divine Generals, though its origins lay in the malicious miracle that fettered her soul to the vast lands of the Empire.
Either way, even if it was an aberrant existence like that of Rowan Segmunt, even if that was a being that would continue to appear no matter how many times it was shattered, it grated Iris’s heart each time she shattered them.
Tormented by unbearable pain, as it intensely gnawed at her heart, Iris was laid bare.
Each time she plucked a life, each time she destroyed something with form, each time she made the world lose the way it currently was, lose something from how it was, Iris’s soul would fissure, and she was laid bare.
Iris: [I am―― hk.] 
And thus, the final destination of her fissured soul.
For Iris, who had unwillingly continued to live on for a long, long time; for Sandra Benedict, who had tragically lost her life giving birth to Prisca; for Yorna Mishigure, who was shaken by a beloved reunion after hundreds of years, this was an unknown state of mind――,
A hoarse breath spilled from her red lips, and the next moment, blood sprayed.
As some of the splatter landed upon the cheek of the blade’s wielder, he stretched out his tongue and licked up the blood.
A smile escaped. ――The wicked smile of the swordsman, escaped.
Rowan: [――The steps of the Heavenly Sword, the tips of my toes are thus placed upon them.]
The stretched-out arm slipped through, and the naked blade brushed the bare shoulder of the woman.
A beat later, the spray of blood dyed the gray street a vibrant hue, and the finest swordsmanship of Rowan’s life ―― no, now that he was an undead, he was no longer alive, so the finest swordsmanship of Rowan’s existence was renewed.
Rowan: [Not there yet, I’m still just getting started.]
However, as his heart had ceased to pulsate, that insatiable desire spurred his whole body forth in place of flowing blood, and the being known as Rowan evolved at an accelerated pace.
The beautiful fox lady he faced off against was dreadfully powerful. An unbelievably formidable enemy. The difference in strength that made it impossible for him to fight against her, easily smashed through the piling-up Rowans.
By all rights, Rowan’s attempt to challenge her should have ended back when he was defeated. However, these strange circumstances threatening the Imperial Capital, the Empire, and the very world, had not put an end to Rowan.
Fastening a blade to his own neck, he gave up on his futile, worthless life.
Believing that there was a territory only reachable by casting away his life, he exerted his blade, knowing that he would rot away and fade to obscurity if he could not reach it, and when he did, Rowan’s vision opened up in the truest sense.
Rowan: [Ahh, ahhh, AHHHH! What a plain world I’ve been seeing until now.]
Within his opened vision, the domain that he had reached during his lifetime with bloodshot eyes was easily surpassed by Rowan.
Life truly was useless. Life was not a good thing. Due to it being the first thing one is granted upon being born, even recluses like Rowan harbored an unwise attachment to it.
Only when he cast all of that away, did Rowan obtain the freedom to head for the Heavenly Sword.
Without a doubt, this lack of attachment was the precise qualification to ascend the steps to reach the Heavenly Sword.
Rowan: [Well now, take a gander, foolish son of mine. This’d be impossible for ya.]
This was a state that those who had lost their lives could finally reach.
That was to say, it was scenery that even Cecilus Segmunt, unable to conquer death, would never lay his eyes upon.
To think it could only be reached through dying, what a sadistic place for the Sword God to have placed the Heavenly Sword.
He had won his gamble. ――Hence, he would receive his inflated winnings.
As Rowan roared with laughter, his swordsmanship began to reach heights that had once been so distant.
No matter how much the approaching Rowan swung his sword, he was felled time after time by the opposing Iris. Unable to reach her as she kicked the ground, he had become unable to stand up just from a blow by her slender arm.
Such an overwhelming disparity, began to be closed at an unbelievable pace.
――Here, the misfortune of the man known as Rowan Segmunt shall be narrated once more.
Rowan Segmunt held a long-cherished desire. Something he kept pursuing. A prayer he continued to long for.
However, he had never come across an opportunity to fulfill it; he had never come across a worthy opponent.
That had been the tragedy of Rowan Segmunt, a man who had been plagued by misfortune until his life came to an end.
――Here, the miracle of the man known as Rowan Segmunt shall be narrated.
Rowan Segmunt held a long-cherished desire. Something he kept pursuing. A prayer he continued to long for.
And, he had finally come across an opportunity necessary to fulfill it; he had finally come across a worthy opponent.
Without having lost his deluded obsession towards the Heavenly Sword even after death, Rowan Segmunt was reborn as an undead; no matter how many times he was shattered or not, he produced beings that shared the same soul one after the other, transforming him into a monster incomparable to the man he was during his lifetime.
There were cases when those who faced off against a formidable opponent, bearing witness to abilities far and above those of their own, and using the battle on which their life was staked as a source of nourishment, would experience rapid growth.
Rowan was trying to invoke that same phenomenon as a miracle within himself.
Facing off against the formidable enemy Iris, bearing witness to abilities far and above those of his own multiple times, and using the battle as a source of nourishment as he quite literally was shattered over and over; that was his current environment.
If Natsuki Subaru were here, he might have even dubbed that act of learning through death as “Learn by Death”.
The undead’s unusual obsession, combined with his desire to learn, resulted in Rowan’s sword being sharpened.
Having left behind the sword of his lifetime, the undead sword technique designed for killing―― the work of the Undead Swordmaster, Rowan Segmunt, was hot on the heels of Iris’s life.
Iris: [Uh, ah…]
Besieged from every conceivable direction, Iris could not deal with all the incoming sword attacks; her arms and sides were sliced by the blades, and she gave a slight groan as her blood spilled.
Hearing that frail breath, Rowan shook his head in disgust.
He did not want to hear it. He did not want to hear it. He did not want to hear the weakness of the strong.
Rowan was grateful to Iris. It was thanks to her that he had become strong. Dying itself was nothing more than an impetus. It was something that had been necessary for him, who was to eventually reach the Heavenly Sword. There was absolutely no need for Iris to worry over that.
After all, he did not want to hear it; after all, it was grating on his ears; after all, even though the one who was inferior was surpassing the one who was superior, what he wanted to hear was not weeping, but cheers.
Rowan: [Don’t be crying now, young lady. You’re making a mess of yer lovely visage.]
Iris promptly hoisted her kiseru to block the sword being swung down from overhead, and with her opposite hand, she bore a hole right through the center of Rowan’s torso.
That was the end of this Rowan. But, it mattered not. Another Rowan subsequently leaped out, and approached Iris as her hand was still stuck in the pierced Rowan until he fully crumbled.
Her leg sprang up and smashed that Rowan. She thus had one arm and one leg occupied. Then, as a Rowan thrust his sword from behind her, she quickly slammed her tail into him, but blood spurted from the base of her tail. The slashing attack had connected. Iris’s expression contorted in pain. Not good. This was truly not good.
Rowan: [Won’t ya also die and resurrect, to keep me company forever?]
That would truly be an exhilarating future, however it was likely a future that would not come to pass.
Rowan’s gaze collided into Iris as he stepped forward, but her eyes were turned to another place, irrelevant to the life or death before her.
Her perspective was not that of the victory or defeat, the life or death in front of her, but something different, as if she were looking at the past, so to speak.
To those who look not at the future, but at the past, glory would not come.
That alone, from the very bottom of his empty, hollowed heart, Rowan regretted――,
Rowan: [――Your life, is mine.]
A silver flash was sprung at full speed, and as the finest swordsmanship of his existence was renewed, it bolted towards the woman’s slender neck.
Then, an artistically brilliant beheading was enacted―― or, it should have been.
Hindered by a firm, solid, stiff, and hard sensation, the sword technique reaping the life was stopped.
The woman who was a formidable enemy, who was the finest worthy opponent, who could even be called his teacher of sorts, as his brandishing of gratitude towards her was stopped, Rowan widened his black-stained golden eyes, and was struck with wonder.
It was regrettable that his attack had been stopped, but the person who had stopped his attack was another matter.
It was not Iris, whom he had recognized as a tough, formidable, and worthy opponent. It was not a latent strength that she had shown while in the grips of death, but rather an undoubtable interference.
Indeed, calling out the name of a nobody, the young voice had obstructed Rowan’s sword.
Through sheer force, a whole body wedged itself between them to stop the strong sword, but even so, from Rowan’s perspective, that was something that should have been impossible.
Even if the entirety of that slender body was used to try and get in the way, the slashing attack ought to have had enough power put into it to completely bisect the body. And yet――,
???: [You all have the same face, but everyone get out of the way!]
Subsequently, a voice akin to the sound of bells courageously resounded, and the sound of the atmosphere tensing rended the world.
That instant, flowers of ice blooming on the surface engulfed the surrounding scene in one fell swoop; Getting caught up within that, Rowan, Rowan, and the rest of the Rowans were turned into nourishment for the flowers.
Seeing his selves being frozen still in his peripheral vision, as Rowan jumped back and readied his katana, he gazed over what had occurred.
???: [――At last. At long last, I was able to meet you again.]
In a quiet, yet deeply emotional voice, the antlered girl muttered as she held Iris in a tight embrace.
Shedding blood and having fallen to her knees, Iris was embraced in the thin chest of the short girl, and while her blue eyes widened in surprise, she accepted the embrace.
Then, the young girl who had hugged Iris turned her dark eyes to Rowan, and,
???: [Scoundrel who turns a blade to Yorna-sama, though I may be unworthy, I shall serve as your opponent.]
With that, the antlered girl had made a clear declaration.
 – Here Iris changes her pronoun from Yorna’s pronoun, わっち(Wacchi), to what is likely Iris’s original pronoun, 私(Watashi).