Wednesday, November 23, 2022 @

Chapter 17, Part 2

 When the rats ran up to the fox's feet, the fox finally noticed their presence.
 'What? A rat...?'
 As soon as she said that, the rat exploded. To be precise, it was the explosive that the shikigami rats were carrying on their back. The smell of the gunpowder must have been lost on him thanks to the stimulant. The low quality gunpowder, which I had personally received from my acquaintance among the medicine men, would not have been powerful enough to cause the explosion. Therefore, I filled a bamboo tube with sharpened pebbles and used it like a hand grenade. The target was the fox abdomen, where organs are densely packed and vulnerable. And then... finally I move.
 I, who had been secretly moving behind in concealment, strengthened my legs with spiritual power and went to close the distance at once. The monster fox, bleeding from her belly, notices my presence and turns around to fire her fox-fire, but I hit it with shikigami as I did before, disabling some of them, and the rest are caught by a puppet shikigami that appears in front of me as a shield just before a direct hit. Seeing the doll burning up in a cloud of dust and white smoke, the monster fox mistakenly thought that she had finished me off, albeit only for a moment. But then, I attacked to catch her off guard.
 '...No, not yet!!'
 The fox noticed my presence and turned to the front this time and swung her tail. The wagging tail naturally shreds several shikigami crows that have come charging at her from the front like a cloud of dust. However, it was obvious that it was a diversion.
 'Huh!? I knew it was the real one...'
 "No, this is the real one...!!"
 A fox-tail swung quickly passed right beside me. With a cutting sound, the cloak on the left side of my body was scraped off, and the fabric blew away with the wind. I felt a dull pain in my left arm and leg. But if I can get this far enough...!
 Aiming at the belly of the monster fox, which has already been wounded to some extent by the explosives, I hit it with a dagger. I must damage her internal organs or arteries with the dagger to weaken her while making her fight for endurance...!
 The sharp dagger that Gorilla-sama had given me broke through the barrier of youkai-energy that was quickly put up, passed through the artery leading to the heart, and pierced easily into the corner where the internal organs would be located. At the same time, a scream rang out.
 (Okay, I'm going to pull out my dagger and break free, twisting it to widen the wound...!!)
 "Do you think you can do that...!!?"
 I turned around at the sound of that voice. There she was, staring at me with a look of hatred in her blood-red white clothes... with long silver hair and blue eyes shining like jewels, she was undoubtedly the same Kitsuri Shiroki who had attacked the main character in the game so many times.
 (Oh no...!!)
 I kicked the ground and tried to escape from the scene, but the shock hit me at about the same time.
 "What the...!?"
 I tried to reduce the power of the back fist that hit me with my leap and the basket hand under my clothes as before, but there was no way I could kill the impact of the blow that was much more powerful than before. So, I am slammed to the ground as it is. Ah, I just heard a strange sound coming from the bone.
 "Ugghh...? Cough...!!!?"
 I spit out a mixture of blood, gastric juice, and contents on the ground.
 (Oh sh*t. Last time I could handle a little bruising... but my left arm, which caught the blow just now, is broken for sure...!)
 I stand up and look at my dangling left arm and grimace. D*mn, I was careless. Even though my opponent is a former calamity youkai...!
 I swallow a painkiller... It sounds good to say, but I swallow some kind of narcotic pills. Hopefully this will mask the pain a little....
 (At what point did I fall for the illusion? It helps that at least up to the time of the bomb she is real...)
 Looking again, it seems from the youkai fox disguised as a person. After all, the clothes on her abdomen are stained red. The opponent is breathing heavily, and if I look closely, I can see that she is sweating. I guess it is more efficient to use gunpowder than to engage in a physical battle.
 "However, even a complete surprise attack can't stop a great youkai who is not suited for combat...!!"
 I bite my tongue as I hold up my dagger. I've done a lot of simulations in preparation for this moment. By making the first move, I narrowed down my opponent's options and took control of the battle. I didn't want to allow the monster to make any free moves, but my actions fell apart at the last minute.
 "Hmm, hmn... never thought I'd be so easily played by mere servants, let alone exorcists...!"
 The monster roars like a beast while holding down the blood flowing from her abdomen with her hands. Her expression showed clear impatience. It seems that she did not expect to be cornered so hard against me, who is worth nothing more than a mere stone on the side of the road. Of course, she was probably wary of the exorcist who had put up a boundary, or any other entity that might attack her as soon as she showed an opening somewhere. Well, the fact that she focused her attention on me personally and failed to challenge me with all her might was a factor in the fact that the monsters fell into all the traps I set for her.
 But that seems to be as far as it went. Perhaps I should assume that she must have figured out my tricks by now, since she has not shown any reaction to my many fatal opportunities, even when she has been pushed to this point.
 "A bug that crawls on the ground should just be a bug...!! To me! You have humiliated me, who has such great power...!! I won't forgive you, monkey!!"
 The monster fox stares at me, clad in such a hideous youkai power that it is hard to believe that she is seriously injured.
 "Monkey, monkey, stop your whining, you fox! Come here, I'll rip your fur off and make you a rug."
 "I'll make you say it...!"
 The monster's eyes widen in anger at my provocation. Yes, she's short-tempered and quick to anger. Even a cheap provocation like this will get her angry...!
 A moment later, the youkai fox spits out a pale blue flame from her mouth. The flames spread all around, burning down the fields of the orphanage and engulfing the mud wall at the doorway. The orphanage itself was saved on the other side. There was nothing I could do if those brats got caught in the fire. Nevertheless, if she hadn't been provoked, her cooler head might have been realized this.
 "I'm not so sure about this, but...!"
 I cast a spell in the air, linked it with all my remaining spiritual power, and leapt.
 In the air, a little higher than the ceiling of a private house, I created a physical boundary. The size, at best, was about the size of a inkstone... partly because the size was limited by the fact that the physical boundary used a lot of my spiritual power, but also because that was all that was needed. No. Smaller, easier to fall from. To parry a blow she's aiming at me...
 "Here it comes...!"
 Just below me was a fire that would not be easily extinguished by a splash of water... I could barely make it out as the heat nearly burned my skin. At that moment, I saw Kitsuri Shiroki trying to crack my head open with her hands
 I had predicted this in advance, and I narrowly avoided a blow from her hand... but I still ended up being pierced through the left shoulder... It hurtssss!!!??
 "Aaah, ghh...!? What the hell is this sh*t? ?"
 I counter with tears in my eyes. You monster fox! I know you'll aim at my head when I'm bleeding!
 But I thrust my dagger into the monster fox's chest. I can feel the sharpness of the dagger's hilt as it pierces her flesh. But...
 The dagger did not penetrate deeply, probably because it pierced into bone or muscle fibers or something. And that was fatal in this situation.
 "Cough...!? You've got to be kidding!!"
 The fox, who coughed up blood right in front of me, immediately grabbed the arm on which I had thrust the dagger with tremendous force, pulled out the dagger by the arm, and... threw me down with a swing.
 "Whooooo...!!? Cough!?"
 I screamed as I was thrown at a tremendous speed, but a few tenths of a second later, I plunged into the ceiling of the orphanage and fell to the floor, crashing through the ceiling and blowing the tatami mats off.
 "Cough...!? Ghhhh...!?"
 The pain was so intense that it seemed as if every bone in my body had been shattered, several small pieces of wood were stuck into my flesh, and it was certain that my muscles were bleeding internally everywhere from the bruises. The blood I coughed up spilled onto my cloak, creating red spots. Or is it a little too dirty to be called "spots"?
 "D*mn you...!! Why did I make a mistake at the very last moment...!!"
 If there was such a thing as fate or God, I'd be cursing him. But not at the most critical moment of life and death...!!?
 "Eeek... Ah, uhh... A-Are you okay...?"
 That small, muffled voice made me quickly move my blurred vision. There were children looking at me anxiously and worriedly through the small closet.
 That's not good.
 "Y-You're injured, so... now..."
 "Close that door and hide."
 I command in my smoky voice. I knew what was coming. Worst-case scenario is I fall apart and the old man moves on but he won't care a half-Youkai brat in a fight. Even if he didn't, it was obvious that if he showed himself here, he would come after me right away.
 "Eeek... B-But..."
 With tears in their eyes, the children are still upset that there is nothing they can do to help me. Unfortunately they can't help me with this injury. So, just shut up and hide.
 Finally, the kids hide in the closet as I charge at them. That's right, that's good. Maybe if they're lucky, they'll make it. But it's a long shot.
 "It's... coming...!"
 I turn my eyes to the sound of footsteps that leave an indelible impression. At the same time, the sliding door is kicked down, and a beautiful, hand-mounted monster fox stares at me reproachfully against the backdrop of the burning garden. A trickle of blood runs from her mouth, and she looks down at me in frustration. She must be very weak, breathing on her shoulders, and her face is quite pale.
 "Hmph... You've grown quite... quiet, haven't you... huh?"
 "That's nonsense... Even though you're just a human...!"
 The fox screams with a horrified look that could scare a demon.
 "I don't approve, I don't approve, I don't approve it!! To me! To powerful me! How dare I let you, a little fish get this far!!? Stop screwing around, stop screwing around, stop screwing around!!! I won't allow it! I won't forgive you! I will not forgive you!!!!"
 The fox was furious that she was half-dead, coughing up blood. She was so mad that she couldn't speak half the time.
 (Well, that's true.)
 In the case of this fox, it would have been like this if she had been cornered by a human, a much lower-ranked one at that.
 (If I gather up my remaining spiritual power, I can just barely manage one more blow...?)
 My bones and muscles are in shreds, but I should be able to last for a few seconds if I reinforce them with spiritual power. Or rather, it is necessary for me not to have it. I have two kunai in my pocket and a dagger in my hand... I have no choice but to dazzle her with the kunai in my pocket and pierce her with the dagger when she is flustered... I have no choice but to do it.
 The odds are against me, but I have no choice.
 "I won't kill you easily. I'll skin you alive and cut you into little pieces from the feet up...!"
 The monster fox raises hers tail and tries to attack me. I'm ready for it. But then... a tiny little fox-fire hits the back of the monster fox.
 The fox-fire was so pathetic that it barely scratched her, but the monster fox took it and turned around with a deadpan expression on her face. Then, the monster looked with a look of deep displeasure.
 "D-Don't! Don't kill him!"
 The little half-youkai girl, with her legs trembling like a fawn, her ears and tail curled up in a frightened manner, her eyes teary-eyed and her voice tearful... the girl who is the source of the fox spirit called Kitsuri Shiroki, shouted this stout-heartedly to the other herself.

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