Wednesday, November 16, 2022 @

Chapter 12, Part 1

Sorry for the late update...
 In 'Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)', which is basically modeled on Japan around the Edo period when there were neither human rights nor the concept of democracy, Fuso-kuni has a strict class society. Rather, in fact, because the country is overrun by monsters that surpass human beings, and because there are people who have special power to fight against them, the sense of class and hierarchy may be more strict than in the real feudal age.
 As for the ruling class, the emperor, who is the supreme ruler of Fuso-kuni, and the royal family stand at the top of the ruling class, and the court nobles, who are in charge of the central government and ministries, the feudal lords, who are in charge of local administration and military affairs, and the exorcist family, who have the ability of opposing monsters of different shapes, reign in the upper layer of the ruling class.
 Below them are the landowners, such as big merchants and village heads with interests such as wholesale dealers, who hold the upper middle class, and in the middle of the society are the rich farmers who own large tracts of land, though not as much as landowners, the common samurai who eat the stipend from the feudal lords, the skilled craftsmen, and middle-class merchants who have real estate, privilege, other assets or skills, etc.
 Of course, being in the lower class does not mean that all the people are in need of food and shelter. Such a fragile country will soon be destroyed by the Youkai. So, while most of the peasant townspeople have little entertainment and have to work every day, they earn enough to eat and have a minimum savings. Well, there are still some peasants who have to pay a heavy tribute, the urban poor who have to work day jobs to survive, and the untouchables who are treated as lowly people, as the game suggests. As for me? I was born a poor farmer in a cold village. Well, we are lucky that we have private land, though it's not as big as a cat's forehead.
 In such a situation, there is the Tachibana family, a merchant family whose roots can be traced back to a noble family that fell and threw away its position as an aristocrat, and belongs to the upper class among the so-called commoners.
 This family runs a grain business, which was also important in Japan during the Edo period, and also runs a long-established major trading company that has been in business since before the Great Human Youkai War, dealing with daily necessities such as liquor, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and cotton, as well as luxury goods such as silk cloth and perfumes, weapons and medicine for the defeated warriors and warrior groups, and even imported goods from the southern countries and the continent. In the game, Tachibana Kayo-chan (14 years old at the start of the game), known as Kayo-chan, the item shop owner, is the first store of the trading company, where players can purchase various rare items at a high price.
 By the way, this Kayo, as is usual with the characters in "Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)", is not a character to be captured, but rather a character with unnecessarily elaborate standing pictures and abundant image variations. Therefore, she is often included in the first encounter heroine or harem member of NAISEI-oriented authors in the later secondary works. Above all, the incident in the gaiden novel 'Sad Tale of a Fox Child', also known as 'The Incident of Item Shop Kayo's Parents' Brain Miso Pudding', ignited fans' fantasies related between the two different books.
 Well, wouldn't it be a sight to see her parents' skulls cut open and their brains being scooped out with a bamboo whisk and eaten alive while hiding in the carriage's baggage? Then, after the murder of her parents, who were the top management of the merchants' association, the daughter alone had to manage a large merchant's business... Combined with the description of the family in 'The Sad Tale of Fox Child' and some dark lines in the game, fans of the game have been shown a lot of stories in which the daughter sells her body to bad adults in order to protect the store. Uh, yeah. Loli girl who literally put her body on the line for the sake of it... that's pretty twisted.
 ...Ah, now, this is a long explanation of the introduction. Anyway, Kayo's personal misfortunes are also quite remarkable, but I have my own reasons to intervene in this event other than good intentions. After all, this event, along with the dancing and eating event at the orphanage, will help the fox monster to regain her full power.
 "Hey, is that...?"
 I stare at the line of wagons (not only horses but also cows, to be precise) moving along the city road a few miles away from the capital. The number of wagons alone must be at least thirty. And if it were to include small clogs, the number might be three times as many. There were dozens of performers and laborers, and dozens of guards as well. Some of them have a spiritual power. No doubt there were defective exorcists, stray sorcerers, and ronin who had escaped from their clans.
 "That said, the quality is not that great."
 The gorilla princess dressed in a traditional cherry-red kimono, waving a fan by her side, boasts in a bored tone. In fact, as she says, their abilities are not good enough compared with those of the top-class exorcists.
 Well, in most cases, the defective exorcists and the stray sorcerers are mostly runaways from their parents' homes, trouble makers, farmers, etc. who have secretly awakened to spiritual power because they are weak and difficult to stay. Since they are weak and lack know-how, it is no wonder that their ability is low. Of course, there are some cases like Kazama Sabisuke or Michibishi O whose talents are too strong, or who were expelled from Onmyou dormitories or their families because they studied too much on the forbidden arts in the era of great war which is unethical... Though there may be some elite guards of Tachibana Trading Company, but they are not the best ones. In any case, such guards would have been sent elsewhere rather than to the safety of the capital.
 However, that said. I should say Tachibana Trading Company is a good company. It is true that they are mostly defectors and stray, but in the first place, there are not so many people who have spiritual power and other abilities. Among them, those who are skilled enough to fight are even more limited. Even if there are a dozen or more exorcists, sorcerers, and warriors with combat skills as guards, the quality and number are more than enough for escorting people in the vicinity of the capital. If medium Youkai class appear, 4 or 5 of them would be enough for fleeing. And such a situation near the capital is not so common. If it were normal.
 Maybe they don't know it yet because they've been out in the countryside. They must also don't know that dozens of people have gone missing in the capital, especially in the new city, in the past week or so. Or they may not care about it because it's only in the new city. Other possibility is that they don't think that such a powerful Youkai will not appear near the capital. And if things are going as described in the novel, it was a fatal mistake.
 "And that package... Oh, my, oh, my, if they carry something like that, of course the foxes will come. Although they seem to have put up some kind of a seal, they're still amateurs. There's a little Youkai power leaking out."
 I agreed. Carrying such a load to the current capital is like pouring a bucketful of blood over one's head on the beach where there are many sharks. Tachibana Hibiki of the Tachibana Trading Company is mentioned in the novel as a determined merchant, but he seems to be clueless about matters outside his field of expertise.
 "Oh my, it has started..."
 When the gorilla princess muttered this, it had begun. A dozen or so monster foxes appeared and began to attack the line of wagons leading to the capital. The pack of Youkai, which had been hidden from sight, sound, and smell until the very last moment, attacked the line of merchants, forcing them to stop their movement. They destroyed the wagon wheels, preferentially trying to neutralize the exorcists and fighters, and their actions to create a siege were clearly strategic and proved their intelligence.
 "It turned out just as you said. Are you talking about the foxes that are mischievous in the new city?"
 "Yes, I've been working with the princess's permission and I've figured out about the attack. Moreover, it's that Tachibana Trading Company. I thought it would be a good idea to them owe us."
 For a while now, I've been hunting for the human-eating foxes by myself under the cover of night, but this miso pudding project was more than I could handle on my own. At the same time, if I could break the event here and reap a considerable number of foxes, the subsequent event at the orphanage would be much better.
 Then, my methods were limited. And once I get involved in this case, I should finish it. The most fearful thing is to handle it halfway. This is because I cannot know how future events will change in a place I do not know.
 That is why I brought this story to the gorilla who is competing with sis (anego-sama) for the next head of the family (both in the game and in this world). I tried to move her in terms of scoring points for the imperial court and building a relationship with a big merchant... I thought it would be a bit more difficult given her moody personality in the original story, but I was lucky that I was able to drag her out only by getting down on my knees.
 "Hmm, I don't suppose this is the reason why you requested a freedom to roam?"
 Gorilla-sama asked me again, but a bit more curtly, about the request I had made earlier on the way to the capital. As in the game, she is confident of her talents and abilities and does not like to think snobbishly. She likes to do interesting things even if she knows she will lose something. So, if I make a mistake in my answer, I may have to cancel the rescue. Therefore, I must be careful about what I say in my replies.
 "This is related, but this is not the main subject. If I had to say so, I would say that it is an accessory to the main issue."
 The main issue is to get rid of yandere rivals who are competing for the guy who will you like (while causing damage to others).
 "Oh, well. That's good. I would have been disappointed if the gift had been anything less than tasteful. Please make sure the gift is something more interesting, not so theoretical and complicated, okay?"
 The gorilla declares in a mean tone while covering her mouth with a fan. Stop it, don't raise your expectations. To be honest, I have one guess, but my expectations are low because of the mess...
 "...Princess, I'm afraid we must intervene or someone will die."
 I replied, as if to divert the conversation. The girl sees through my digression and squints at me. Oh, is it bad answer? Shoul I run away?
 "I think it's easier for them to owe us after more people die, but... well, okay."
 She says helplessly and takes a step away from the sacred beast we've been "riding"... an eagle big enough to carry a few people. Yes, until now we have been talking on a sacred beast flying overhead. The headwind has been so strong since a while ago that I feel like I'm about to fall...
 "Tomobe, you know that you should get off after Ando lands."
 Yes, I know. Because I'll die if I jump from this height.
 As if mocking my inner musings, the girl quickly and naturally took another step forward, and the next moment she was falling.
 The girl's body follows gravity and her fall speed increases at an accelerating rate. Normally, the girl's body should have collided with the ground and reduced to a piece of red flesh like a red boxwood.
 But I knew that this was impossible.
 A moment later, dust flew up as the figure hit the ground. For a moment, I was confused by the scene, not knowing what had happened, and both Youkai and the people surrounding her had stunned expressions on their faces.
 "Now, entertain me at least to kill some time."
 Her low voice echoed strangely and impressively in the momentary silence of the bustle.
 From the dust, a dreamy girl with a fan in her hand appeared with a noble and ghastly smile on her face...
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