Wednesday, November 30, 2022 @

Chapter 22, Part 2

 The girl feels an inexpressible stirring in her heart and swings her sword.
 Again, the figure in front of her narrowly parries her blow, not with full force, but with the intent to kill. This further damages her self-esteem.
 Ako Murasaki is upset, despairing, and furious at the sight before her for the first time, though she seems to be calm at first glance.
 (So much for a mere servant...? It's impossible...!!)
 Surely, it is necessary to hold back and stop just a little so as not to kill the opponent, and even if there is a difference in gender between men and women, a difference in age, a difference in the distance between a spear and a sword... the fact that this is happening right now is beyond the scope of Murasaki's understanding.
 It was supposed to be nothing more than a sideshow. Normally, after just a few swings, the opponent would have thrown up his hands and said he surrendered. But...!
 (Impossible... Impossible... Impossible... Impossible!)
 Yes, it should be impossible. At least it was for Murasaki. There was such a clear difference in power between her and the servant. It is the difference of spiritual power.
 No matter how much of a disadvantage other factors may be, power solves everything. So much so that her family, the youngest of them, was certainly the weakest among the family members, but she was still an extraordinary human being.
 Her slashes were parried? Once or twice it could be dismissed as a coincidence, but three or four times it was inevitable. And it meant that her swordsmanship was being read.
 "Don't... you dare!"
 The girl screams with rage. At the same time, she releases another level of power. Within a second, the number of slashes she delivered increased to five, and the speed of her footsteps exceeded the speed of sound. A medium youkai could have been able killed in less than ten minutes with such a violent movement...!
 But the servant in front of her did not intend to take the storm of blades seriously. At the next moment, he must have strengthened his legs to the maximum extent with his spiritual power and kicked a large amount of dirt and gravel under his feet toward her. The dirt and the gravel became gravel, blocking her vision and attacking her. But...
 "This is the least I can do...!!!"
 With a single horizontal stroke of the sword, the wind pressure alone blows away all the dirt and gravel. The field of vision opens up. Ahead of her is a man wearing a mask and a samue (comfortable jacket and pant suits that originated with Zen monks), breathing heavily, taking advantage of a momentary lapse of distance to get away from her.
 "What is the matter!? Even though you are a servant and my cousin is paying attention to you, is that the extent of your power...!!?"
 The girl screams with hostility and hatred in her voice as she holds up her sword. She is frustrated by the sight of the man in front of her.
 She has always hated this man. The first she had heard about him was from a rumor that her respected cousin had found a favorite among the lowly servants, who were only there to make up the numbers of the men in charge of miscellaneous work.
 The fact that her quick-tempered, whimsical cousin liked him... that alone made Murasaki feel jealous. It was even more so when her cousin gave him a gift and taught him a technique. After all, ordinary exorcists don't pay that much attention to their servants.
 Even so, she was able to endure it as long as they lived far away from each other and didn't see each other often. But...
 The daughter of the Ako clan spat out, her face growing stern as if her self-respect had been hurt.
 Yes, it's this man's fault. It's all the fault of this one man... Murasaki grits her teeth.
 Murasaki, who had traveled to the capital with her father and others, had asked to visit her cousin in the capital many times when she learned of her cousin's visit a few months later. Normally, her cousin would not have refused to accept a visit from a relative, but... the result was that she was denied access for many months. Well, technically, she was entertained, but it was only for formality, and she could hardly even see her cousin, who was the main purpose of her visit.
 Then one day, on her way home, she was treated in the same way again, without seeing the intended person, and as she was getting ready to go home, she saw something. She saw her cousin who was talking merrily in the garden.
 It was the first time for her to see such a figure, who was full of joy, anger, sadness, and sorrow to the other person who was standing beside her...
 She felt a pain in her head. At the same time, irritation, jealousy, and envy were growing... Murasaki herself was surprised to feel the such passion when she saw the man for the 'first time'.
 Today, on this day, would have been the first time in years that she had seen him. She was really uncomfortable with that man who was always waiting in the corner of the room. Even during the conversation, she could not help but be distracted by him. And when the man finally left the room with a cup of hot water in his hand, she was relieved, but her cousin said to her.
 'You don't like him?'
 Her shoulders shook as if she could see right through the words, and the word 'him' shocked Murasaki. Not 'that' but 'him'...?
 She tried to deny it as soon as possible, but her peach-haired relative interrupted her with a boast.
 'It doesn't matter. I indeed pay too much attention to him for a servant. Well, I don't care what you and others around you think, though...'
 She declared that she doesn't care what she and others think... and then she looked at her cousin, who said, provokingly, but sweetly, as if she were crawling towards her.
 'I see. Then I'll grant my lovely cousin's request, shall I?'
 However, the glamorously, seductively, and sensationally Kizuki Aoi held up a finger at her mouth...
 Murasaki's reaction was delayed for a beat as that much went through her mind. A moment later, she sees a figure approaching, and she swings her sword with renewed hatred.
 She released a total of three shockwaves of slashes, which were released with almost no time lag, so that even an opponent in armor fifty paces away would not be unscathed. Although she took it easy not to kill her opponent, it was an impossible feat for an ordinary man. Of course, it was nothing more than a child's game compared to her older brothers who could unleash a slash a hundred times more powerful than hers, or to her father whose sword skills were almost sublimated into a conceptual attack that left 'time' behind to begin with.
 (Still, it's good enough for this guy...!!!)
 Yes, it may have been child's play compared to her family, but it was enough for the man in front of him. The speed and trajectory of the shockwave of the slash, which she had taken it easy on, were far beyond his ability to avoid. Therefore... the man in front of him should not be able to avoid.
 A moment of confusion, followed by a flutter of shock, overtook her. The servant who had received the slash, however, did not stop and continued to rush forward. Murasaki was shocked by this fact.
 ....she knew that the man couldn't avoid the slash exactly, so he just avoided it to avoid a direct hit to a vital point, etc. But she didn't realize at this point that the slash had dislocated his left shoulder and caused slight internal bleeding in his side.
 In any case, she could not afford to think about it for a long time. Murasaki hurriedly prepares to fight at close range. But the next moment, she sees a servant throw something at her, and almost as a reflex, she cuts it up.
 Is it a smoke ball? Or is it a flash ball, or a stink ball? After cutting it up, she thinks about what it is and braces herself.
 What was scattered in front of her from the ball that had been cut into pieces was... konpeito candy. White and red, yellow and green, brightly colored sugar confections that would make a child joyful... Because of her excellent dynamic vision, she recognized them clearly, and therefore, the girl who witnessed them, which did not seem to fit this place, involuntarily stopped moving.
 But then... a shadow runs on the ground as if to take advantage of this momentary lapse. Or, to be more precise, there was a figure that was trying to get close to her by digging its body so that it almost dug into the ground.
 Murasaki, who was distracted by the rain of konpeito in front of her, noticed the presence a fraction of it a second later, and before she could look at the figure, she had already drawn her sword. She knew that she would not be able to get her sword out of her hand in time if she looked at him and then swung her sword. But...
 "Is it wrong!?"
 The figure was cut in half and returned to the paper. Immediately afterward, the servant leaps out from behind her. He comes barreling toward her with a battered spear.
 "Tsk!? This much...!!"
 She swings her sword down, flips it back up, and slashes it back up from below. This is what is commonly known as the swinging back and forth motion (俗に言う燕返し). The attack from below is difficult for humans to perceive, and it was the best solution for the situation. However, it might have been a kind of revenge for her, because he also struck her from below.
 However, the difference in the reach was born in this case. In other words...
 "It hurts...!?'
 The next moment, the tattered tip of the spear struck the sword's, and the impact sent pain shooting through the girl's fragile fingers. There was no bleeding or bruising, but the pain was so intense that Murasaki involuntarily dropped the sword. The spear is a longer weapon than the sword and depending on how it is thrust, it can extend the distance between the two. Just before he was about to make a swing back in the manner of a harpoon, he switched his spear from two-handed to one-handed, thereby extending the distance between the two, which led to the surprise attack. The spear blade was then swung upward toward the girl's neck.
 "Don't you dareeeee!!"
 However, Murasaki, who had lost her sword immediately after the attack, kicked it high into the air with her foot to recover it, and then take her dropped the sword, and swung it down. Her target is the opponent's head. She had no time to take it easy on her opponent, as she had a clear intention to kill him.
 "No way...!?"
 With a small mutter, the servant readied his spear, which was supposed to be aimed at the girl, and blocked the blow coming down with its hilt just in time. The blade had cut halfway through the steel hilt.
 "Oh, you're not going to use your cunning anymore, are you...!?"
 Murasaki's mouth hung open as she watched the servant desperately prevent the sword attack with a cry of anguish. Murasaki's attack was not heavy at all, but she was carrying a lot of weight. In response, the blade of the sword screamed as it sliced into the hilt of the spear. The servant does not take any countermeasures. No, he cannot. He knows that if he slackens off, even a little, his head will be cut in half in the next instant.
 In other words, the servant in front of her was dead at this point. And, both Murasaki and the servant understood it. Therefore...
 "I surrender..."
 It is not that she did not hear the plea just before the spear handle was completely cut off, nor that she was late in reacting to it. However, this time Ako Murasaki dared to ignore his voice...
 "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to postpone the match."
 Just before the sword struck the servant's skull, it was stopped by a hand as white as a white fish. A voice like the tinkling of a bell rings out, and Murasaki suddenly comes to her senses. Then her eyes widen at the situation before her.
 "C-Cousin (Itoko-sama)......."
 Murasaki's face turns pale as blood trickles down to the ground from the palm that gripped the blade of the sword. Her cousin looked in the direction of the servant and opened her mouth.
 "It was an interesting show in its own way, but... too bad we're out of time."
 "...no, if the princess hadn't stopped it, I would have lost. Murasaki-sama has won."
 "I know you're as stubborn as a gutter rat. Don't be so modest."
 Dismissing the words of the servant, Kizuki Aoi looks at the servants and guards who have gathered at the commotion, and most of all at the head of the Oumi family who is running toward them in surprise. Then they take one look at the yard that has been ravaged by the short but intense 'battle' and sighs softly.
 "Leave the rest to me. Tomobe, you go back to your room with that fox. ...And Murasaki, you should go home for now."
 "Ah... But..."
 "Go home."
 The way she said it made Murasaki shiver. At the same time, she felt a sense of déjà vu. It was as if they had had a similar conversation in the past...
 "...what are you doing? You better get on with it."
 But there was no time to think about it. Murasaki had no choice but to quickly obey her beloved cousin's words. Aoi took a glance at Murasaki's back as she left the place with an expression of no room to spare, and slowly narrowed her eyes.
 "Princess, about this matter..."
 "I told you I'm well aware of it, remember? I'm the one who initiated it, and I'll clean up the mess. You don't need to worry about this, okay?"
 "No. I don't care, but it's not going to be good news for you. I hope you'll take care of that too."
 Aoi said troublesomely, but she stopped moving for a moment when the servant unexpectedly pointed out. Then she turns her head toward the servant and her mouth is twisted weirdly.
 "Worried about others instead of yourself? You've grown up so much, haven't you?"
 Aoi is aware of the stinging tone of her own words. However, at her word, the servant still says the following.
 "I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to use the word technique on your cousin just to pass the time."
 Aoi stares at her favorite for a moment with a fierce gaze. But... she immediately opens the fan in her hand and covers her mouth.
 "Go away. This is an order."
 "...I understand. But first..."
 The servant grabs Aoi's palm and wraps a cloth around the shallow cut made by the sword to stop the bleeding. Then, after saying that she should be treated again later, the servant bowed reverently and left the room.
 "......you always look so good to everyone. You end up being jealous.."
 Aoi muttered to herself, staring at the simple stopping of the bleeding on her palm. Then she understands that her comment comes from the whirling jealousy in her heart, and she becomes even more grumpy. Although she is aware that everything is going as she expected, she is still angry.
 "But it's a weakness of love, isn't it? It can't be helped."
 There is not a single element of affection or consideration in him toward her, and he should have made it so, but... it can't be helped. She had intended for him to be just a growth spurt, but her plan has changed course. However...
 "Just powder him or touch him, but don't get involved."
 "I am generous, but I am not indiscreet..." Kizuki Aoi declared inwardly, smiling at the head of the Oumi family as she approached him with trepidation.
 ...It was an empty smile, a socially empty smile...
A little follow-up to the previous chapter
Q: Can such a deceptive and depressing game really sell?
A: It's a quality game based on a flame sale, and it probably got a lot of criticism at first, but in the end, it was accepted because it's an interesting depressing game.

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