Wednesday, November 30, 2022 @

Chapter 22, Part 1

 For Ako Murasaki, that girl was her ideal, her idol.
 The exorcists are a family of people whose power becomes more concentrated and more powerful with each passing generation... and she was born into the direct lineage of the Ako family, which is a prestigious family, but she was too weak.
 Certainly, she is more powerful than the rest of human beings. However, her spiritual power is far inferior to that of her grandparents, parents, and brothers. She had no talent in swordsmanship and was criticized every time she trained. The final words she was told were, "You are too inexperienced to fight in a real battle." So, even though she was about to turn thirteen this year, she had not yet had even a single experience in killing a youkai. Not even a single small youkai.
 This was far behind her parents, grandparents, and brothers, who had killed several great youkai in the span of a dozen or so years. It could be said that it was bizarre. For a child of a commoner with no power, it was natural, but for a child of a prestigious group of exorcists who had been given enormous spiritual power from birth and had learned how to defeat monsters from outside the human race, this was unthinkable.
 It is obvious how much her sense of inferiority would be stimulated if she were to inherit the youkai sword that has been handed down in her family, one of the easiest to handle and the most docile of all the swords.
 'The spoiled daughter of the main family.'
 'A lucky person who inherited the youkai sword from a family with good family background and mercy.'
 'A disgrace to the Ako family who has never slain a youkai.'
 It was inevitable that such gossip mixed with jealousy and envy would be thrown at her who was born into a prestigious family, was powerless, and yet was given the ancient youkai sword, even though it was the weakest one.
 'I can fight now!!'
 How many times has she told her family this? To her strict father who gave her strict training, or to her grandfather who always kept a calm smile on his face, or to her brothers who had already done their duty as exorcists in the imperial court or in their hometowns and had made great achievements. Sometimes she was stubborn, sometimes she was sweet, and sometimes she cried and begged them to let her fight against youkai. She wants to fight like everyone else. He wants to fight with everyone.
 ...but when they hear her lamentations, they all say in unison, coldly, 'It's too early for you.' Rather than exterminating youkai, she was told to be more like a town girl or a noble's daughter and was given costumes, ornaments, and cosmetics one after another. However, she was not interested in most of them, so they were gathering dust in the chest of drawers in her room.
 Because of this, she felt miserable. She became sad. She was frustrated. Why can't I be the only one? Am I that unreliable?
 Then that girl appeared in front of her.
 It was probably at the celebration party where many of her relatives had gathered. At first glance, Murasaki was struck by the atmosphere of the girl.
 She was a beautiful, glamorous, and beautiful girl. She had a manner like an adult, eyes that seemed to see through everything, a proud and somewhat arrogant smile... such that it was hard to believe that she was only one year older than herself.
 Not long after that, she learned that her name was Kizuki Aoi, the daughter of her father's sister... in other words, her own cousin's sister. And when she was told of her talent and power, she felt jealous at first. It's natural because her grandfather, father, and brothers all praised her talent, while she herself was constantly criticized. No wonder the little girl was so angry. Why that woman!! How many times has she been angry at her? Every time her family praised her, she would get angry and stomp her feet in her room.
 At the same time, deep down inside, she continued to conceal the fact that she had a longing for her. It was not until one day that she became aware of this longing.
 Perhaps she was a child, or perhaps it was because she was a child, she began to notice the subtleties of the world around her, that she had been neglected because of her weak strength. And one day, surrounded by boys from other families who were close to her in age, she was bullied and sneered at.
 At first, Murasaki had a rough temperament, and she had been arguing back, but gradually her voice became quieter and quieter. After all, all those words were true, and all of them had defeated the man-eating youkai, no matter how weak the youkai is. Murasaki, on the other hand, was not strong in spiritual power, was not tall, and above all, was a girl.
 In the end, she was crying and retorted and was ridiculed and humiliated by the angry boys all at once, and when she tried to strike them, she was rebuffed and pushed down on the ground. It made her feel helpless and the pain of being pushed down messed up her mind, and she finally sobbed and sobbed. It was a very pathetic appearance for someone who was born into a prestigious family of exorcism. But,
 'You're making too much noise. Be quiet. ...oh my, oh my. You're all being very pathetic.'
 A voice came from somewhere, and the boys who had been bullying Murasaki were all blown away at once. Both Murasaki and the boys turn their heads in the direction of the voice with stunned expressions.
 Murasaki can still remember the prideful figure of her cousin who was so graceful and transcendent. She responded gracefully to the boys' abuse and politely retorted to their words, and then she started a fight with them at a higher level. She fought them off as they attacked her in a rage, taunting and taunting her, and finally chasing them back, leaving them covered in mud. The peach-colored girl who covers her mouth and cruelly mocks them as they run away crying. A truly proud, arrogant, and sadistic figure...
 She might do it not to help Murasaki, but simply because she was displeased with the noise of the weak people who were an eyesore to her. No, at least Aoi probably didn't care much about Murasaki. Or maybe she didn't even realize who Murasaki was. But still... Ako Murasaki certainly 'admired' Kizuki Aoi at that time.
 She was strong, beautiful, educated, and truly talented... she had everything that she did not have and a girl of her age, and because of this incident... since then, Ako Murasaki has been infatuated with Kizuki Aoi, and even at an early age, she has been desperately trying to get her attention.
 ...in a sense, this may have been a practice that had been handed down in the family from generation to generation. Many of the Ako family members are not good talkers. Just as her grandparents, her parents, and her brothers were not able to express their deep love to her family clearly, so too did she inherit this trait perfectly. Therefore, she is a spineless woman.
 Still, she desperately tried to get close to her cousin by researching her interests and tastes, studying them, and offering her topics of conversation... but her attempts almost completely failed. Because of her bad approach and Aoi's lack of feeling for her clumsy and half-hearted cousin.
 Nevertheless, for Murasaki who can't give up, the incident may have been the one that made her feel jealous again and again.
 Kizuki Aoi, who had only dealt with a few youkai at most due to her age, was about to enter into a full-scale battle against youkai... into the nest of the monsters... when she first heard about this, neither Murasaki nor the Ako family members were worried.
 It was indeed her first full-scale sweep of the youkai, but knowing the power of Kizuki's second daughter, they need not have worried. Although they had been taking some precautions to be on the safe side so far, it was hard to believe that the always bored-looking girl with peach-colored hair would fall behind against the numerous youkai, and that was the fact. That is why the Ako clan was shocked and the blood drained from Murasaki's face when they heard the whole story of how she was wounded and barely survived, and when they learned of the trap that had been set.
 She hurriedly asks her father to visit her, and he grants her a wish. Due to the complicated relationship between the two families, her father and brothers accompany her, and while the adults deal with each other in the big room of the house, Murasaki halfway quietly goes to her cousin whom she has been longing for.
 In a sense, that was a mistake. It was then that she happened to see her. The ghostly back figure with peach-colored hair, probably bandaged from an arm injury, had quietly crept into a room at the end of the house.
 And then she saw it. That 'figure'.
 It took Murasaki a few seconds to realize that the bloodied, bandaged figure moaning on the rough rug was a human being. The immediate feeling was fear. A dying person treated in an exorcist's house is bound to have been injured in a fight with youkai, although there may be exceptions.
 Horrifying, and terrifying... it was understandable that a young girl would be so aware of the ragged existence.
 The smell of blood, abscess, and rotting flesh was too strong to tickle her nostrils, and the sight of it wriggling like a caterpillar from time to time, making inarticulate moans of pain with her muddled consciousness, was too strong for her to ignore.
 Yes, even if the wounds were caused by the battle with the monster, the sight was just too horrible. The room was filled with the scent of death, proving that the person had not long to live. Or, perhaps, the person was left in such an unpopular place without a caretaker to let him die...?
 When her cousin literally looked down at such a dying figure in front of her, Murasaki at first tried to call for help but stopped herself immediately. Her sixth sense told her not to do so.
 The girl with peach-colored hair sat down on the spot, whether she noticed Murasaki standing there breathless or not. Then, without saying a word, she approached the face of the writhing figure in agony. Had she been looking at the figure's face for a while? From the purple angle, she could not see the expression on her cousin's face.
 '...I won't let you die, I promise. You are my special one.'
 But then, in the strangely too-quiet space, the cold words crossed her mind unnaturally well. Then the girl with peach-colored hair takes out a medicine bottle from the cuff of her bandaged arm. Murasaki did not know what it was. However, as a member of the family of exorcists, she knew that it was not just some kind of medicine.
 The next moment, the girl slurps it down in one gulp. And then...
 At the sight of this, Murasaki first doubted her own eyes, and then she doubted her cousin's sanity. It was too shocking a sight for Ako Murasaki. Even according to common sense she knew, even as an immature girl who only vaguely knew about love.
 Yes, the pink-haired girl who looked up the medicine leaned her body on the dying lump of flesh, touched its blood-soaked cheek with her white hand, and put her face close to it... And the moment she saw what she did, she was so shocked that her eyes widened, which made her face turn red and her mouth gape open.
 'Haah... Haah... Haah... Hehe, I won't forgive you. I won't forgive you if you leave me here... I won't forgive you for breaking your promise...!'
 After seconds, dozens of seconds, who knows how long, a line of silver thread is drawn from her mouth, and she finally pulls away, whispering words of vindictive and passionate words with a slight upturn... and the act is not over yet.
 'Hamu... Mm... Mmm... Hahh... Hahhh... That's right, there's no way I can forgive them. Already, you're the only one who can protect me... the only one who can look after me, and you're the only one who can...!!'
 Driven by intense emotion and impulse, the girl uncaps another bottle of medicine, drinks it again, and without hesitation, puts her face close to the ugly lump of flesh and transfers it to its mouth. She twists her body, taking a longer time than before, making some lustful sounds. And the next time she took her mouth away from it, she was shaking her shoulders and breathing so hard that Murasaki could see it from behind. She was definitely aroused. It was obvious that the lack of oxygen was one of the reasons, but not the only one.
 'Haa, haah... Haah... Haahhh! Haha!! Hahahahaha...!!! That's right, I won't forgive them... I won't ever forgive them. This family, that man, that woman, everything... anything and everything that abandoned me except you...!!!'
 Murasaki couldn't afford to listen to her mad voice, which was almost a curse. So, by the time the third thick mouth-to-mouth action began, Murasaki finally stopped watching, hiding behind a sliding door. Then her face, ears, and whole body turned red with embarrassment, shock, and fear, and she breathed hard and trembled.
 What was that? Who was that? What did her cousin do just now? What was she doing to that thing, with her face so close to it, her hand on its cheek, making that kind of sound?
 For a girl who was pure-hearted, innocent, young, and most of all, steeped in the common sense of this world, the scene was too exciting.
 'It's a lie, right...? S-surely...!?'
 '......What are you doing there?'
 Before she knew it, a figure was behind her, and she turned around, shivering. It was that person whom she had been longing for. She looked down at her with dull, clouded, lightless eyes as if she was bored. It seemed that she did not find any value in her.
 'Ah, ah... Uhh......'
 '....you're not here.'
 These sudden words left Murasaki momentarily bewildered. The cousin in front of her ignored her reaction and continued.
 'You didn't come to this room. You didn't see anything... do you understand?'
 'What... that...'
 'Do you understand?'
 The way she said it made her feel like she had no choice but to answer, "Yes". And then, with confusion, fear, and the jealous feelings that swirled inside her from the previous scene, she looked at the figure still suffering and moaning in the back of the room and...
 'You can't do anything rash, okay? You know what I mean?'
 The cold, inorganic words that were spoken to her immediately afterward as if she had seen through everything took a moment for her to realize that they were coming from her cousin. Then she looked up fearfully. There she saw the person of her dreams smiling at her.
 It was a smile that chilled her to the core.
 Suddenly, her consciousness fades away rapidly... and she wonders what it is, even as her consciousness darkens. It's a word technique. It was probably set up earlier...
 'Sleep. Forget. Forget what you see. ...I'm in a good mood now, so I'll let you go.'
 With these words, the peach-colored hair girl turns her eyes away from Murasaki and back to the bloody lump of flesh. She strokes her cheek lovingly, and turns the most gentle, loving, feverish eyes Murasaki is ever seen on her...
 ....though she was young, Murasaki realized at that moment that this person would never show affection to her again. She realized it. Even the last bit of her love would only be for one person. And that it would definitely not be her.
 But when she wakes up the next time, even the memory of that piece is gone. All that remained was the indescribable buzzing in her chest. And time passed...
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