DARK MODE 

Friday, November 4, 2022 @

Chapter 5, Part 1

 Among the many crazy heroines that have appeared in 'Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)', one of the three most popular is Aoko the red-haired blue demon, commonly known as Aoko-chan among fans.
 
 In the game, the main character mistakenly thinks that she is a member of the Kizuki family because she appears at the mansion dressed as a family member. So, if the players had played the game without knowing anything about her, they would have thought that she was a mere caretaker or a supportive NPC.
 
 ...But the true nature of this character is that she is one of the "Four Evil Ones" who attacked and nested in the capital of Fuso-kuni nearly a thousand years ago and was nicknamed the "Great Blue Demon" because of the place where she nested...
 
 According to the story, she was originally a rampaging monster on the continent, and after crossing the sea, she literally "devoured" Ukyo along with many other monsters that had taken over the capital and neighboring villages. By the way, Aoko-chan at that time is called "EX Aoko-sama" by her fans and the production team.
 
 In the end, however, the emperor ordered the "Seven Exorcists," a group of renowned Onmyoji, Samurai, and Buddhist priests, to kill all her subordinates, and she was literally torn to pieces as her limbs were repeatedly torn off, her internal organs were dragged out, and her head was repeatedly chopped off. I heard that she ran away in desperation. And until now, the wounds still seem to have not healed. Thanks to this, her fighting strength is said to be only 20% of her peak at the start of the game. Even so, I'm still no match for Calamity Youkai. More importantly, weren't the people who beat her at her peak of the game terrible?
 
 Anyway, it seems that she had some purpose to infiltrate the Kizuki family at the start of the game, and depending on the route from the middle to the latter half of the game, she reveals her true identity only to the main character or her neighbors, or she can be controlled as a reassuring ally character. Her friendly personality, her high parameters of reassurance, and her relatively(?) low level of skill make her a good friend to the protagonist and her friends. Moreover, she is reasonably popular due to her better bad endings and her striking visuals, and for a while, she was ranked fourth in the number of illustrations posted among all the characters on a certain illustration site.
 
 But, her image was considerably changed by the spin-off novels and manga that were produced a while after the release of the game. Especially her deeds during her "EX Aoko-sama" period, it was described in a rather brutal and gruesome manner and, above all, in great detail.
 
 'It is clear that people and monsters are incompatible after all.'
 “Before reading: 'The cover EX Aoko-sama's beautiful side breast and armpit are lick-lick-lick-lickious! ' -> After reading: 'We have to kill all the monsters (with a straight face).'
 'Is this an official secondary anti-hate story?'
 'The only good monsters are dead ones.'
 'I felt sorry for Aoko in the game, but this is too cruel. '
 'I knew it... Demon is a big liar!?'
 'Totally automatic chopping off the head technique, a mass of killing intent and rationality, all the exorcists of that time seem to have a thought process like a goblin slayer.'
 '↑That's right (if the monsters keep doing such evil deeds).'
 'Aoko-sama is so cute that she runs away from people who made fun of her with her intestines dripping in the latter half of the story even though even though she was so pissed off in the first half of the story.'
 
  These are the opinions on an Internet bulletin board after reading the novel depicting the death struggle against the "Seven Exorcists" who were sent by the Imperial Court to run rampant in the capital. No, seriously, that was terrible. The fans were made to reconfirm the meaning of the name "Aoko the Red-Haired Blue Demon". In the game, they say "she used to be naughty" or "she's quiet now", but it's not that lukewarm.
 
 "Good grief, are you also a person who ignores a meal that someone has prepared for you? Why don't you accept people's good intentions?"
 "There's an old saying that it's dangerous to take food from monsters. And you never know what's in the food prepared by a lying demon."
 "Well, well, as usual, you are being very cautious. I've always treated you with respect and civility, but it's sad to see the hostile glances you give me even at times like this. I've heard that human beings seek human skin when they are in such a scary and painful situation."
 "Well, if it had been human skin, I might have sought it."
 
 Without saying a word, I point out that I will not care for a monster like her. The demon, who looks like a mendicant monk if I ignore the heavy anchor she carries on his back, laughs and cries, then sits down on the floor, eating her own rice wrapped in bamboo leaves prepared in front of me while looking at me with amusement and indifference.
 
 "......"
 
 I, on the other hand, sit silently against a rock with my spear and face the monster. Naturally, I am only cautious. I watch every move of the disaster in front of me with all my senses. However, I did not look directly into the eyes of the monster to avoid being blinded by the eye technique. If possible, I did not even want to listen to her words for fear of the spirit technique... but I could not do that because I needed to be alert to the noises around me.
 
 (I understand the reason for the gorilla to pay attention to me, but... why is she paying attention to me too?)
 
 I can understand that the peach-colored power gorilla is still somehow reasonably like me. If I play caretaker for three days and three nights while playing extreme sports on the run, even a personality-deficient person who has no interest in anyone but special people like the main character might have some interest in me. But now? Isn't it ridiculous that she's paying attention to me?
 
 "What do you want? Why are you here? Why are you following me?"
 
 It was my sincere question.
 
 "I've heard a lot about your purpose before. Then don't you have better things to do than to stay here and play with me? Even as we speak, a gifted hero may be born somewhere."
 
 Or rather, he's already born. If she wants to see him, hold out for three more years. It won't be long now from the monster's point of view.
 
 ...yes, I know what this monster wants. I knew it from my knowledge of the game, but she herself told me about it unwillingly (half-unilaterally).
 
 Aoko the red-haired blue demon is a monster left behind by the times. She used to be one of the top five in the country in terms of power, leading an army of Youkai with enormous strength. Yes, she was once.
 
 But times change. Over time, she has fallen to past glory, even though she once enjoyed a great name. She is still powerful, but not as powerful as she once was. On the contrary, the records describe her as a dumb monster, overconfident in her power, and pursued by the "Seven Exorcists" and become a complete laughingstock.
 
 Nevertheless, it is impossible to clear her name by crashing into the city now. Human beings have become much stronger than they were a thousand years ago. It is not only that the exorcists have intermarried with each other and increased their power. The number of human beings themselves has increased, technology has developed, and the know-how of killing monsters has improved.
 
 Above all, the capital is heavily fortified technically based on the experience of the Great Human Youkai Rebellion of 500 years ago. Even if she could break into the center of the capital, the political center of Fuso-kuni, it would be impossible even with the full power of this monster. Even if she could break in, the emperor would be protected by the most powerful and renowned onmyoji, priests, samurai, and priestesses of Fuso-kuni, who are the best in the country. Now that even the great demons have been weakened, it is doubtful that she can even strike back at them.
 
 And because of her inferior intelligence, because she has lived for a long time and seen the changing of the times, Aoko the red-haired blue demon, has come to understand. That she is now a relic of the past, and that she has missed her time to perish.
 
 The "Four Evil Ones" who once plunged the capital into the depths of terror together with other youkai and literally piled up piles of corpses along the city streets have been defeated by the "Seven Exorcist", who is now a famous and infamous figure in other regions of Japan. Even the "Kuuban," the man who gathered an army of monsters from all over the country, or even the continent, and caused the all-out war against humans called the Great Human Youkai Rebellion, was defeated by the heroes of the time.
 
 So, nowadays, there are not so many monsters as old as her or even older and more powerful than her, at least not in this Fuso-kuni. Though the existence of Youkai is still a great threat to humans, it is not as great as it was a long time ago. And in the next thousand years, if not in the next hundred or two hundred years, the monsters will probably no longer be a threat to humans. That's why...
 
 "Hey, hey, I told you before, didn't I? The only reason I was hiding in that place was because I was looking for a man who was good enough to kill me."
 
 However, the monster is talking aloofly with her cheekbones. Yes, her purpose is indeed a selfish and annoying one.
 
 All of her past compatriots have been killed. And as the heroes' favorite foes, they left their names in history forever.
 
 Then she too, who is about to be forgotten and become a thing of the past, wants to leave her name behind like her compatriots of the past. Even if it is a part of the brilliant achievements of the heroes, before the time comes when she will be left behind and "dealt with" as a nobody, while she is still feared by the people as Youkai. This is the reason why the monster has infiltrated the Kizuki family.
 
 Now, she was checking the Kizuki family, which has its roots in the north of Fuso, to see if there is anyone worthy of defeating her. In the course of her search, she happened to meet the main character of the original story. She observed the spirit, talent, and ability of the original main character, and examined him to see if he was worthy of avenging her. And she cooperates with him to help him to grow up to be worthy of killing herself on the bright path to becoming a hero... at least, that was the original purpose.
 
 But depending on the route of the main character's liking, he may develop an unforgivable interracial love relationship with her, but in the end, he may not be able to overcome the barrier and kill her, or he may have a bad ending where he is killed because he hesitates to do so. Well, I personally don't mind the former case because it doesn't bother people around me... or I actively encourage it... but in the latter case, the monster goes crazy in the latter half of the story and starts "taking it out" on the surrounding unrelated people and ends up fighting to the death with the army dispatched by the Imperial Court to defeat the monster.
 
 "Demon is really selfish. If all you want is to be killed, why don't you just storm the capital? But to be so selfish and stingy in the arena of death?"
 "That's exactly why I'm a demon. I deserve a proper stage for my death. Just a few lines in a record book is a lonely way to die, don't you think? If I'm going to die, I'd like to die in a dramatic scene as much as possible... or should I call it a demon's passion?"
 
 The monster in human skin smiles as she closes her eyelids and says so. But I know it. I know that she is imagining the moment when she will fight to the death with the rare hero of her time, washing herself with his blood, and in the end, she will be decapitated by her own power.
 
 "You're crazy..."
 
 I give a little snide look at the thrilled expression on the monster's face. I could never understand that way of being.
 
 It's been nearly twenty years since I was born into this world where death is so close at hand, but even now, or maybe that's why I can't understand the thought. Or maybe I could have sympathized with them if I didn't know about my previous life...
 
 (Is it because I know my previous life that I am a coward to die?)
 
 If I had only known a world where life was light from the start, I wonder if I could understand the thought of seeking honor rather than life. At least in my previous life, death was not close to me, so I was afraid of dying even though I was reincarnated in this world. And that was certainly the driving force that kept me from not giving in, and from struggling to grab hold of life, even though I was in an untenable position, to begin with. Oh, damn... aren't I tired? Seriously... don't get distracted.
 
 "...Let's get back to the point. I know what you want. That's why I don't understand you. Your goal is to find a hero to kill you. But all you're really doing is messing with me. I don't see a connection between the two. You know I'm just a lowly servant with no special powers or origins. None of the elements that you see in me would be of any use to you."
 
 Or rather, I don't even want to be. The being in front of me who dreams of being killed by her ideal hero or heroine is a selfish and self-centered demon. She expects and hopes for the best, and if it deviates from her goal even a little, she feels betrayed and goes on a rampage. In fact, her selfish disappointment is one of the reasons why she has not committed euphemistic suicide until the start of the original game. In fact, there were many people before she met the main character who was killed for no reason because they made a small mistake that was unpleasant for her when she thought she liked them, as the creators revealed in the fan guidebook.
 
 I mean, if I make a mistake in raising her likability, she actually gets mad and I suddenly get gutted, and the game is over. What a monster, I have no idea what she's thinking.
 
 Anyway, I have to take a deep breath for now, enduring the pain and pushing down the drowsiness and exhaustion.
 
 "...Or what? Am I some kind of plaything for you to pass the time? I don't know what to say to a demon who only tells lies, but it would be easier for me if you said so."
 
 I blurt out with a self-mocking chuckle. It is possible. Monsters are greedy, arrogant, selfish, and pleasure-seeking beings regardless of their intelligence, especially oni (demon), many of whom are Youkai-ized from human beings.
 
 "Good grief, you're always unfriendly to me, aren't you? Do you really think I'm going to prepare a meal for someone who's just passing the time? If you keep talking to me like that, I'm going to cry from sadness, you know?"
 
 She makes a crying gesture. Of course, there is no other way for a demon to cry but to lie and cry. In fact, when she sees that the crying spell doesn't work, she lets out a sigh of relief. Rather, shouldn’t I be the one who sighs…?
 
 "...!?"
 
 Suddenly, my vision is dizzying. I get a headache, and I'm drowsy as hell.
 
 "Oh? Are you tired? Hahaha, of course, you've had a hard day. Sorry, I interrupted your sleep on the way here, so if you want, I can take over the night watch for you."
 
 The demon smiles happily when she sees me wobbling around. Is this monster doing...?
 
 "You've got to be kidding me...!?"
 
 At this point, my nose finally notices the faint smell of something strange. It seems she's using some kind of suction-operated sleeping pills or something...!!
 
 My spear slips out of my hand and the spear falls to the floor. My shoulders slump and my eyelids grow heavy rapidly.
 
 "Well, you're a very persistent one. In this kind of trick, the skilled ones are caught so easily. So, I'm surprised that you persisted for so long. Oh, I remember that you personally get resistance to poisons from your acquaintances in the medicine men's group."
 "You... why... are you..."
 
 I spun the words in my sleep. It meant two things. Why she knew about it, and why she was doing this to me...
 
 "Well, well, it doesn't matter, does it? It's better not to push yourself too hard. This is health advice from a demon, you should be obedient to your body's needs, okay? Don't worry, I won't eat you in your sleep."
 
 Don't... be kidding me...!! Your... demon's... words... are... not trustworthy...
 
 "Good night. I hope you have good dreams."
 "Shut... up... you... monster... when... you... will... die..."
 
 I didn't even have time to finish my line of questioning before the demon spat out something that reeked of lies, and my consciousness was darkening...
 
 *

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