Stoic stood Hifumi, awaiting the Vichy soldiers in his Hakama and Dougi.
Yet Hifumi stood in the middle of it.
And he felt happiness.
As the smile rose on his face, a katana rose in his hands; and with speed of lightning striking from the heavens, with the gentleness of a leaf carried by the wind, the katana was swung down.
The enthusiastic vanguard blinked, unsure of what had happened, but by the time he blinked again he had already drowned in blood. For his face had split open.
A step into his range, and the katana tip would reap your life.
Pierce the eye.
Not once did the katana strike bone or armor.
「Surround him! Encircle and slay him!」
And yet no one managed to wound him.
「How can he evade it?!」
「I don’t want to die…!」
Hifumi was quite surrounded: some desperately rushing to be killed, others already a corpse, and yet others soon to become a corpse.
The road was dyed red: and to a friend it may even have looked beautiful.
「Fire the arrows」
「I’m telling you to shoot that monster!」
「But, we will hit our own if we fire now」
Curtly replying, the Adjutant offered a prayer and ordered the bowmen to fire.
Without waiting for the result, the captain began issuing orders to the remaining soldiers.
He had thus sent a hundred men on this quest.
Ordering the another volley of arrows, the captain was sure of his victory.
A rain of arrows entered Hifumi’s view.
Taking but a single step away, arrows landed around Hifumi.
Those who could still move he disposed of; those who were fatally injured he ignored.
「So they had finally begun」
「So the slaughter finally beings? Come, be a man!」
Seeing Hifumi decapitate five more men, even the trained soldiers stopped motionless.
「Guess I should clean up a bit」
Vichy soldiers were terrified, although it had no effect on them—you can’t store away a living thing.
As if the battle had never happened.
At some point the katana on Hifumi’s waist was replaced with a 130 cm long pole.
They would probably resent him no matter how he killed him; the few soldiers who remained now had their heads smashed in. As before, they just kept on dying.
「Come on, keep the line. Ready your blades… Oh?」
Hifumi twisted the end of the pole, and a chain dangled out from within it.
And while Hifumi was deflecting the arrows with the chain and approaching the Vichy captain, distant screams reached his ears.
Although the blockade was made of a durable material, if many people were to press on it, surely it would eventually fall.
The first among them were the youngest, those unaccustomed to war.
Unable to so much as scream their bodies were pierced, and those who fell on top of them rendered fatal their wounds.
This crafty trap was placed past every blockade, and the number of wounded and dead only increased.
Surely the number of dead would only number in the dozens, but the objective was not to kill but to stop their advance.
The soldiers were close enough that the spears needed not arch in their path, and many were pierced as a result.
There were few such spear-throwers, so those empty handed followed with bows and arrows.
As for the captain, with messengers coming at him to report of ever increasing casualties, and the sight of Hifumi approaching, caused him to lose any remaining composure.
And wielding a bizarre staff with chains, a man continued to approach while creating more and more corpses behind him.
The adjutant wanted to command the forces to retreat but then he glanced over the captain.
Would this power-hungry man be able to approve of that decision? Withdrawing now would close the door on his career. But otherwise all would die. Should he withdraw troops even if it means being court-martialed? The adjutant hesitated.
The weapon Hifumi wielded, is a traditional Japanese martial arts weapon from the staff-family: the Chigiriki (Promise Tree). Normally it is made of wood, but it had to be made of metal so as to withstand Hifumi’s strength.
The weapon has its perks and demerits, and is rather hard to use; and although it’s not Hifumi’s specialty, the weapon does allow for a great variety of attacks if you were to mix in Jojutsu* while using it.
For example, crushing somebody’s throat and then stepping on their chest so as to stop their heart; or breaking their jaw, forcing them on their knees in tears, and smashing in their heads.
This massacre has yet to end.
「Captain, we must retreat」
Scolding his man, the captain desperately asked anyone to kill Hifumi, but the adjutant only sighed.
The departure of thirty men created an opening.
Struggle the captain as he might, he could do naught until Hifumi’s finger pierce through his eye.
Seeing their captain killed, the soldiers completely lost their will to fight, and began edging back.
Of course, they would abandon the corpse.
Fearing the smile on Hifumi’s face, the Vichy soldiers scattered like baby spiders before a predator.
Hifumi calmly wandered the field, disposing of any wounded, while his guard was busy burying the bodies.
Origa and Alyssa, after issuing the troops orders, rushed over to Hifumi.
The blood-stained main road soon welcomed a bloody sunset.
With less than a hundred men, Hifumi’s guards utterly crushed a force many times larger—in but three days such rumors reached the capital, and the bars were filled with songs of praise for the “Knight of the Slender Sword.”
She left of her own free will; as an adventurer her life made an about turn and she was rather well off. She also sick of killing people, was satisfied with her life as a freewoman, dined in fancy and expensive restaurants, and even went out to buy herself a new weapon.
To her surprise, she rarely thought of Hifumi, but when she did, she would remember his face when he ordered a man to die for her revenge.
Within the four-corners of her small inn room, she collapsed on the bed, feelings of loneliness overcoming her.
That line only increased her despair.
As many thoughts and regrets filled her mind, she heard someone knock on the door.
She grabbed a sword and asked.
「It’s Pajo. There’s something we need to discuss」
In response to being let in, Pajo flashed an elegant smile.
「My, my, how impressive. Now then, what do you need from me?」
「There’s a request for you coming from the Crown」
Wouldn’t it be better to make a request of the guild, she asked, but Pajo only smiled.
Without any reservation, Pajo made a single request of her.
Kasha was silent, and merely blankly stared at Pajo. The smile on her face has long turned serious, and cold, gold eyes stared straight at Kasha.