Wednesday, November 16, 2022 @

Chapter 13, Part 2

 Kizuki Aoi swung her fan around and blew away the monster foxes, playing with them and taking pleasure in the spectacle.
 "I'm sure you weren't trying to hit them, but it's still a delightful thing to put your face in at the perfect moment, isn't it?"
 Aoi giggles, while admiring the spectacle of the man and the fox in the distance, and lets out a happy voice. From his point of view, he might have thought that she would give priority to helping the family of the trading company to make them indebted to her in advance, but... no way. For her, the favoritism towards the trading company is just a bonus. She has far more important things to do than that, and it was happening right in front of her eyes.
 "Oh, my, oh, my, what a sin. It makes me jealous. What a bad man to play with a little girl like that."
 Aoi squints her eyes and looks at the little girl who is being helped and evacuated by the hired exorcists and guards. The girl was literally in mortal danger, staring feverishly at the horror of the destruction that was being created right now. Her eyes were so familiar. She had seen eyes like those before, as she had too.
 ...Yes, it was a moment of light amid despair, a moment of hope, a moment of finding a hero.
 "Hehehe, I'm looking forward to seeing you grow up again."
 Kizuki Aoi whispered to her "hero" in a voice that sounded both mocking and affectionate, so small that no one could hear.
 Yes, that's how you grow up. Gain fame. Be a hero. That's how you'll finally be worthy of my standing by your side. Hey, dear audience, just take a look. A mere servant, with his wits and ingenuity, fighting desperately to avoid death with paper-thin margins, trying to win the battle! She declared so inwardly, obviously in a good mood.
 (But still, avoiding dangerously... Well, isn't this nostalgic in a way?)
 She watches the servant running while avoiding the tail of the fox, and then she lifts up her mouth with her fan to hide it. Oh, yes, it was so bad that time too. Being attacked many times a day, almost dying of despair many times, but still doing everything possible. Sometimes, there are even embarrassing memories, however, they cooperate to escape from the monsters who were chasing them through the forest with their lives. These memories are very nostalgic.
 Well, at that time, she let her guard down at the last minute and was surrounded by a huge army of Youkai. If she hadn't regained her freedom right after that, it would have been the end of her life.
 "...You're always so lenient, so I'll have to watch over you like this, okay?"
 Kizuki Aoi concluded her words in a way that sounded like she was talking to her lover or to a child. And then her face turns stern because things have changed. The reckless fox was about to deploy a large-scale technique. The power of the technique is...
 "Well, I would say it's about right, huh?"
 The technique may not be powerful enough to harm her, but it is more than enough to blow away the merchants and most of the guards. He too can't handle that trick. No, he might be able to survive, but not in terms of the survival of the surrounding witnesses or in terms of making the trading company feel indebted.
 "It can't be helped. I guess that's it for now, huh?"
 ...It's a little unsatisfying, but this is probably the end of the story for now. If she gets greedy, she'll lose everything. Regardless of what others may think, she believed herself to be modest.
 When she found a reasonable-sized rock lying at her feet, she kicked it. She adjusted her spiritual power and kicked it just enough to keep the fox from dying. The stone arcs and hits the fox's head, blowing out one of its eyes. At the same time, the fox screams.
 "Oh, my, you can't do that. There won't be enough witnesses."
 Is the fox planning to burn down all the witnesses to the battle that he has wrought with all his wisdom, effort, and courage? ...she says quietly. Seriously, don't bother me, you small fry.
 'Ugh... Gghhhh...!!'
 The fox stares at Aoi with a sharp look while one of its eyes is crushed and bleeding. The look with the intent to kill, however, she doesn't feel even a trace of fear. Of course, she has seen that kind of glare many times before. No, something more terrifying, even malicious and hatred-filled... then why would she be frightened by such a pretty gaze?
 "Hehehe, don't look at me with such moist eyes. It makes me want to love you."
 'Die, b*tch!!'
 The next thing the fox let out was a roar. Well, maybe not quite a roar. It was a sonic blast. The shockwave of the roar was aimed straight at Kizuki's second daughter, and the broken carriage on the way was literally shattered into pieces. If a mere human is careless enough to think that it is just a sound, he or she will be reduced to a piece of meat by the impact alone.
 "...Well, what difference does it make?"
 She shook her fan lightly, and the vibrations of the air that had turned into a deadly weapon dissipated and shattered. No big deal. That roar is nothing but a shockwave of sound amplified hundreds or thousands of times by the power of Youkai. If so, she can neutralize it only by scattering her own spiritual power by waving her fan. So the roar of destruction loses the source of its power and becomes nothing more than a deafening howl.
 "...no, that logic doesn't make sense."
 As Aoi explains the tricks gently to the fox, whose expression is dumbfounded, she hears the man muttering softly.
 (Hmm? What's wrong with that? It is true that the efficiency of using spiritual power is low, but theoretically, there should be no problem...)
 The efficiency of consuming spiritual power is the worst even if one thinks about it carefully, and it is something that Kizuki Aoi, who has almost inexhaustible and ridiculous spiritual power, could do only by pushing her luck, so the servant's comment is natural. But Kizuki Aoi seriously couldn't understand why he was so tense.
 ...Well, she understood the meaning in a sense, but from her point of view, it was not good for him to be stunned by such a thing. After all, he has to climb above her in the end... yes, he has to do this much or at least something similar if he is going to be her 'husband'.
 'Gghh, y-you b*stard...!!'
 The monster fox lets out a roar filled with bitterness. At the same time, several monster foxes from the surrounding battlefield appear noiselessly, attacking Kizuki Aoi from behind.
 "It's a distraction, you bastard!"
 A waving fan is enough to cause the disembowelment of the monster foxes. The fox-fire vanishes before a gust of wind, and even the waving tail cannot reach it. The one fox that manages to escape the blades of the wind, however, is roasted whole by a storm of flames shot out from the girl's slender fingers, and it writhes about. It was truly a one-sided violation.
 A monster fox attacked from a blind spot, probably distracted by his friends who had been acting as decoys. It was a blunder caused by inexperience in combat. The girl was slightly surprised... but what threat could a lowly youkai of this caliber pose? She could have killed it with her bare hands if she wanted to. Therefore, she was slightly upset inwardly, but tried to finish it off without hesitation...
 Immediately afterward, a dagger was thrown and pierced through the head of the monster fox that was approaching in front of her, killing it with a single blow.
 "...Isn't that unnecessary...? Did you think I would be wounded by a small fish like that?"
 Slightly silent, but immediately she calls out to the servant who delivered the sneak attack in a fearless and irreverent manner. The servant wearing a Noh mask breaks his knees and opens his mouth.
 "I am aware of your abilities, Princess. So, please forgive me for my impudence. However, we must not let our guard down against Youkai."
 The servant replies in a matter-of-fact, clerical tone.
 "Huh. They ran away, didn't they?"
 Covering her mouth with a fan, Aoi pointed out. It seems that the attack of the three monster foxes earlier seemed to have been a distraction for the four-tailed Great Youkai to escape, and that huge body had disappeared before she knew it. Like a fox, the Great Youkai seemed to be very skillful in running away and hiding.
 "Shall I follow it?"
 "I taught you how to use concealment, but you can't do it with your skills. Even a hidden group would have a hard time. Leave it alone."
 The darkness of the night was replaced by the dawn of light. The sky begins to turn bluish-purple, and the sunlight peeks out from between the mountains to illuminate the city streets where the battle has ended.
 It seems that the other three monster foxes have escaped, and there is no more sound of battle around.
 "...Let's go. I'm sure the leader has already taken care of his injuries. I have a lot to say to him about the management of the baggage, and I have to see him and talk to him, don't I?"
 Aoi smiles wickedly and turns on her heel as she orders the sacred beast standing by in the sky to keep an eye on the area.
 "Yes, I'll go with you."
 After retrieving the dagger he had thrown, the servant reverently stands behind the second daughter of the exorcist family, who begins to walk slowly.
 "...Hey, Tomobe..."
 "Yes, what is it?"
 The girl stopped walking and suddenly called his fake name. For a moment, she feels frustrated, inferior, and most of all, sad that she will never know his real name, but she doesn't show any such feelings.
 "...No, it's nothing."
 She is silent for a moment, then resumes her steps as if nothing had happened, followed by the servant. Yes, now is good. This relationship is still good, and this distance is still good. There are still years to go before the distance closes. The opportunity to know the real name, and the opportunity to call him by that name, so...
 "I'll thank you someday... sooner or later."
 Her mouth, hidden by a fan, is different from before, softly and tenderly turned up.

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