Today as well, from the opposite end of the horizon, floods a black ocean. In truth, that black ocean is a swarm of malice seeking to destroy the world. Those creatures are the enemy of humanity. Those creatures are mazoku.
The dirt brown, wasteland has small patches of green here and there, yet the foul taint of the mazoku dyes everything black. The process is gradual, much how a cloth is ruining by stains.
The great wastelands of Knollfolk lies in the Sardius Alliance's northern area. Keeping watch from a ridge to the south is the Alliance's Yuusha, Kuchiba Hatsumi. She has been surveying the scene for a while now.
Sometimes, as is characteristic of the northern wastelands, a cool, gentle wind blows. The sensation upon feeling it is similar to the prickling numbness that sets in when a limb falls asleep. In truth, however, that numbness stems from the impatient mazoku who thirst for blood. That black ocean of mazoku fills the air with a frantic urge to kill.
The mazoku were driven into a corner during a previous battle. These mazoku were forsaken; their situation leaves them without hope. Therefore, to regain their notoriety, they intend to leave an all-out battle to the death as their legacy.
Hatsumi is well aware that the battle draws closer with each moment as she looks over her shoulder. Hidden within the forest immediately behind her is a coalition of acquaintances along with the Sardius Alliance's Army. On her right is Gaias Foban, a martial artist from the Alliance's nation member Larshim. On her left is Selphy Fittini, a witch from a self-governing state. Finally, directly behind her, kneeling in peaceful meditation, is Prince Vizar Rahyuzen, a swordmaster from the Alliance's head nation, Miazen. All three of them are renowned warriors within their countries who have proven their skill and prowess time and time again. This will be the fifth time they entrust their backs to each other in order to repel the mazoku forces.
Hatsumi's nod is the signal. Gaias gives a hearty smile while thumping his chest whereas Selphy gives a gentle nod. Vizar gives the same expression he always gives, one of absolute determination.
Hatsumi, having confirmed everyone's resolve, leaps off the cliff. She has neither forerunners, nor flagbearers, yet there are no deficiencies in her charge. She will cut down the first mazoku to reach her. That's her role as a swordsman. Nothing more is needed. Everyone with the will to wield a sword would agree.
Therefore, she continues forward without looking back. The descent is just like from the mountains of Ichi-no-Tani. (A narrow strip of shore in Japan with mountains to the north and the sea to the south. It was an easy place to defend, but came with difficulty in maneuvering troops inside the fortress.) While most would find rushing down a slope difficult, it's only a trivial matter for summoned heroes blessed with divine protection. Her legs soon bring her to the end of the slope.
Neither her companions nor the army came down with her. She severed herself from them by leaping off the mountain. She's alone, yet insecurity, fear, and unease don't exist within her.
She dashes ahead without slowing her momentum and cuts into the center of the mazoku army that spreads across the wasteland. The mazoku army, failing to have anticipated such an attack, falls into chaos.
Kuchiba Hatsumi draws her sword. The beautiful, mithril, uchigatana in her right hand is straight from a fairy tale. Forged by a dwarven swordsmith, her extra-long katana has a 120 cm blade. It shines silver as she skillfully cuts through the mazoku as though they were paper. Regardless of whether she meets iron or flesh, she splits it in two without any resistance. Not even a speck of blood sticks to her blade.
All she has to do is swing her sword. Everything will be fine as long as she keeps moving, keeps swinging, and keeps faith in her abilities. She strikes at the confused mazoku who are trying to reassemble their ranks. In a flash, she cleaves the foremost mazoku in half. She maintains her momentum and turns to sever the head of a neighboring mazoku. A human war cry erupts as she kills another nearby mazoku. They're late, Hatsumi wonders if the soldiers ran into trouble after she left.
The mazoku cry out as swordsmen attack their flanks and divide them. Then, the spellcasters, at their own discretion, provide support from behind the lines. Selphy takes command of the spellcaster unit and as planned, directs them into eliminating the isolated mazoku forces. The mazoku's ranks and formation is soon destroy. For them, it's an undeniable, crushing defeat.
A scraping sound carries in from the front after the successful first strike. The more powerful mazoku, after the collapse of their ranks, continue battling on their own. Maybe it's because this is a mixed unit bolstering its strength with monsters? With that though in mind, Hatsumi sets forth to deal with them herself.
Showboating is a lethal mistake in war. Therefore, like a scalpel cutting into the skin, Hatsumi removes the infected tissue. By doing so, she cements her position as Yuusha.
A mazoku magnitudes more powerful than the other mazoku soon appears. The mazoku shogun steps onto the battlefield. A mazoku swordsman, it wields a magic sword and wears a thin mantle. Its name is Mau Hario. The title "Swift Arctic Gale" was conferred upon this mazoku due to using its blade to decapitate many of the Alliance's soldiers.
"Yuusha from the Alliance!!" The waste land trembles and dust is kicked up from its booming roar. Such a loud voice is unexpected from its thin frame. That sole shout attacks the Alliance soldier's moral and spawns hesitation within their hearts.
Only Hatsumi and her companions rise against that roar. Mau Hario appears before them and an evil gale follows the draw of it sword.
Hatsumi swings her odachi in response. The two swords ring as they clash against each other. Mau Hario disengages by leaping back. Then, faster than the eye can follow, slides to the left and swings again.
The ring from a mithril blade blocking a strike echoes. Just like before, the mazoku's sword ends up in a stalemate against Hatsumi's. The divine protection blessed upon summoned heroes grants her the strength necessary to resist the mazoku's swing.
"Yuusha from the Alliance, you bitch, today I'll rip you apart! Surrender your neck to Nakshatra-sama!"
"Tsu… Too bad, I have no intention of dying here."
Mau Hario, during its taunting, has it sword parried from below. Sensing a slash coming, the mazoku again pulls back and stops far enough so that no sword will reach it. The attack that follows is one no one could ever respond against.
… Mau Hario is the type of swordsman that prefers power over speed. Being outside of a blade's reach, that distance where neither side can just rush into, being in such a position is disadvantageous. That's usually the case.
Hatsumi won't utter such weak words. Her feet are shoulder width apart. She turns her left ankle towards her right heel and places her sword over her right shoulder to hide it behind her neck. The coolness from the metal soothes the nape of her neck. There's about 8 meters between herself and the mazoku shogun. The length of her sword is one meter. This is probably the ideal range for the mazoku shogun who favors attacking with crushing impact.
A sneer floats across Mau Hario's face upon measuring the distance. It positions itself to launch forward with for an attack. Hatsumi is certain that that is what it will do. In a battle of swords, the survivor is the swordsman who out reads the other first.
….. Even at the furthest she can stretch her blade, a six foot gap remains between herself and her opponent. It is not a distance she can reach. However, that's nothing more than a trivial issue. But for the mazoku shogun who failed to realize that, it might be a fatal issue.
"Dieeeeeeeee!" The mazoku shogun's fierce roar is filled with a boundless amount of fighting spirit. The wave of blood thirst that bursts forth dams the hope within everyone's hearts. All of this information is processed within Hatsumi's mind and becomes white noise. Right now, neither the blood thirsty roar, the cheers from the mazoku soldiers, the cries of fear from the Alliance's soldiers, nor the impatient shouts from her companions disturb her concentration. Her target has arrived.
Kurikara Dharani Phantom Sword, Heavy Blade.
The mazoku are left with their eyes wide open. A sole swing of the sword severed their fighting spirits along with their breaths.
From far away, a breeze can be heard blowing behind the mazoku shogun. The mazoku's weapon sways with the wind and in betrayal to everyone's expectations, the mazoku shogun's lower half blasts over. The upper half catches the wind and tumbles in the opposite direction. Blood sprays everywhere as the two halves collapse on top of themselves.
Mao Hario falls in defeat without taking a single step. Everyone is stunned into silence. The soldiers begin cheering moments later. That moment seems to have been needed before what they saw could register within their heads. The mazoku, however, are paralyzed by the fact that their strongest member was defeated before their eyes. They are unable to accept that someone stronger than it appeared.
Why are you not dead?
Mao Hario rolls over on the ground and while spitting blood from its mouth, speaks in a tone full of surprise. "How… stupid. The distance between our swords should have been…"
The mazoku shogun is correct, its body was outside the range of Hatsumi's sword. But, as stated before, that was only a trivial issue.
Hatsumi gives the mazoku a cold stare as she flicks its blood off her blade. It will never stand before her again. "— I suppose you really are a swordsman to be asking such a question, a swordsman who only possess the ability to cut down that which is before it, that is. Being second rate is something to be happy about, do you not agree?"
Hatsumi's words, as a fellow swordsman, are merciless. The mazoku shogun shivers and dies.
…The battle between the mazoku and humans soon comes to an end. The human army— the Sardius Alliance claims victory. Everyone, the swordsmen and spellcasters, cheers. Those shouts of joy are the proof that the battle has ended.
After a while, the soldiers part to open a path for a boy wearing knight's armor. The prince of the Alliance's head state Miazen and also one of the seven sword masters, Vizar Rahyuzen, kneels at Hatsumi's feet. "That was a magnificent battle, Yuusha-dono."
Hatsumi Kuchiba sighs out in frustration at the stubborn boy's flattery. "Calling me Yuusha, how many times have I told you to stop, Vizar?"
He, however, doesn't pay it any mind and instead takes Hatsumi's hand so that he may place a kiss on it.
Is this some sort of ritual for him? Hatsumi, finding the act uncomfortable, pulls back her hand the same way she always does.
Vizar raises his eyes. His slick arrogance changes into disappointment. "Yuusha-dono…"
"It can't be helped, Vizar." The voice of Selphy Fittini, another of Hatsumi's companions, carries over from the opposite side. "Hatsumi is the Yuusha, after all."
"Even if you make such a troubled voice, it won't twist the truth."
Selphy is wrapped within a light green robe and wears a hood low over her eyes. A light chuckle leaks from within that hood.
A large shadow appears from behind Vizar without anyone noticing. From that body that depicts an image of pure muscle pours a loud, cheerful voice. Gaias Foban says, "Strike out again, prince?"
He claps Vizar's shoulder with a scarred hand. Even though they're comrades, the person's shoulder he's casually slapping is a prince's. Anyone would think he should restrain himself, but regardless of all that, he seems to have misunderstood the respect Vizar was trying to convey with his kiss.
Vizar gives Gaias the sharpest glare he can muster. "…That wasn't an actual rejection."
"Ho-ou? Far as I can see, isn't that exactly what happened?"
Vizar's eyes twitch in irritation at Gaias's feigned ignorance.
"I- I don't particularly dislike Vizar? It's just that, what you just did, I can't get used to it…."
"I understand that, but you always act like you hate it."
"Gaias, be silent. -Yuusha-dono, I truly am just trying to convey you my respect…"
"Both of you should stop troubling Hatsumi." Selphy, who's usually taciturn, voices her candid advice. That, however, isn't enough to silence the two of them as they make dissatisfied expressions while giving opposing responses, "Huh?" and "Yes…"
"Well… anyway, everyone, thank you for your help."
To Hatsumi's gratitude, the three turn towards her and reply in turn.
"But, that there weren't as many as anticipated was surprising." Selphy's tone reveals her concealed frown.
"Then again, that was just one third on the mazoku army."
"That's natural, the force we just annihilated was nothing more than a sacrificial limb."
At the moment, three mazoku armies are waging war against the Alliance. Although they defeated one of them, it was the smallest of three. The remaining two forces have many times more numbers to fight with.
"But isn't this still good? The results from today's battle were great."
"Yuusha-dono defeated one of the mazoku shogun. We couldn't ask for better results."
"Don't say any more than that. This is all Hatsumi's achievement. We've only been able to come this far because she's here."
"That's right. The mazoku army was pushing us back up until you arrived. We were able to join with our reinforcements only because you came to this battlefield. That's why today,"
"One of the three mazoku forces was crushed and their leader killed. Everything was only made possible because of Yuusha-dono's power."
Gaias says, "Ah? Everything? What about the one I defeated?"
"It's all thanks to Yuusha-dono that the mazoku army was defeated, that the mazoku shogun was defeated, and that Gaias was able to defeat mazoku soldiers."
Gaias's eyes sharpen with furry as Vizar utterly denies his contribution.
Hatsumi sighs upon seeing them quarrel and changes the subject. "Vizar, we won because we made proper preparations. Isn't that much more important than anything I could contribute? Besides, fighting alone would be difficult."
"…I suppose you have a point." Selphy is the only one who voices her agreement.
The mazoku they defeated were the type that had absolute faith in its own strength. That made their movements predictable and easy to counter.
Hatsumi's arrival on the battlefield did reverse the flow of battle. However, the boon she provided was only able to establishing a stalemate up until reinforcements arrived. She struggled against an enemy with no interest in utilizing strategies. If not for the reinforcements, they would have kept losing ground.
Hatsumi makes a troubled expression at Vizar's, "That's irrelevant." His face radiates with complete confidence in her. "Yuusha-dono alone strikes fear into the mazoku army."
Gaias thumps his chest as he says, "That's amazing, but so do I." As usual, he's overflowing with self-confidence. This time, however, Selphy joins Vizar in directing a sharp stares towards him.
Hatsumi makes a gloomy expression in contrast to their intensity. "…Hey, what kind of person am I to you?" She then remembers to add, "Ah, saying Yuusha isn't an answer."
Her three companions look at each other and answer in turn.
"If I can't answer with Yuusha, then I suppose I'd have to say a beautiful swordswoman?"
"In terms of species, I'd say a young, human, girl."
Gaias and Selphy are the first to answer. Vizar places a fist against his chest and stares at Hatsumi while making a serious expression. "Yuusha-dono is our princess."
"—Hii!? …..Vizar, saying such a powerful phrase is embarrassing!" says Selphy.
"Hoho-u! But we can't really hate someone with the guts to say that!"
"Hold on, Gaias! Mou,"
Receiving such an embarrassing line to her face makes Hatsumi's blush a red as deep as the setting sun. However, her spirit soon wavers and her head droops.
— That isn't what I wanted to hear.
Selphy, picking up on Hatsumi's distress from the way her eyes shake, approaches her. She crouches down to look up into Hatsumi's face and nudges her knee. "Does not having your memory still frighten you?"
"…Of course it does. Why are sword techniques and their names the only thing I can remember? My situation is terrifying."
When the Alliance summoned their Yuusha, Kuchiba Hatsumi, she was brought to the summoning room… In other words, they called a Yuusha that wouldn't be able to become anything other than a Yuusha. That is to say, she has no memory; she doesn't know what kind of person she was, she doesn't know what she was doing, she doesn't know anything about herself.
All she knows is that her name is Kuchiba Hatsumi and that she's a swordswoman. Because of that, she hesitates over traveling the path she walks.
Gaias steps forward and clasps a reassuring hand upon Hatsumi's shoulder. "Did you forget? We're here for you."
"I know, it's just…."
"Yuusha-dono, if you've lost your memories, then make some new ones. Make them together with us."
"Vizar…" He speaks with a gentle smile, but it isn't enough to wipe away Hatsumi's insecurity.
That's when Gaias cups his hands around his mouth as though ready to spread embarrassing story about someone else. "Oy, everyone, Vizar started making smooth talk!"
Vizar, standing behind Gaias, silently draws his sword.
In the middle of everyone's victory celebration, Hatsumi looks up towards the sky.
Her memories are gone. Yet, despite that, she still dreams of her previous world. She always has the same dream where she sees many things that do not exist in her current world. Also, in that dream, the same person always appears. But when she wakes up, everything becomes hazy and obscure which fuels her unease. Each time that happens, a flame ignites within her chest. She's seeing something very important, something she should never have forgotten.
T/N: Knolfuk, the katakana went nourufouku. If anyone has a better reading for that, I am all ears. The same for Mau Hario. That mazoku's name was written in katakana Mauhario. I'm guessing it's two words because they come up as individual words when I make a web search. As to what language or meaning, no idea.
Sorry for the delay in this chapter. I fell into a week long slump where I didn't feel like doing anything. I didn't even update my fanfiction and all that chapter needed was proof reading. Anyway, about our new heroine, Hatsumi. Her name is really pretty, I just love how smooth saying it feels. But seriously, Vizar isn't fooling anyone. He's totally crushing on her.
One more note, this is chapter 83 down. Can you all believe how far we've come?? We're basically half way to being caught up!