Monday, November 7, 2022 @

Chapter 6, Part 1

 "You have been purchased by our family. From now on, you will live and work for us."
 It was a dream I'd had a long time ago. That was over ten years ago. And it was kind of a bad memory.
 What had I done wrong? Was it that I couldn't hide my spiritual power well enough? Or was it that I had been acting so wise because of my reincarnation? No, it must have been a mistake to have been reborn in this world in the first place.
 I was reborn in the world of a game that I knew so well... and although I was excited for the first few days when I realized it, I soon came to realize the reality. This world is too harsh to live in. And it is too malicious.
 Moreover, when I realized that I had no so-called cheat ability, it turned into despair. In this world where I could die without being involved in the story, I worked desperately to train my spiritual power, which was too weak and fragile to be a benefit from reincarnation, and to be able to manipulate it completely. Spiritual power is not only a power to fight against Youkai but also a smell of a feast for them. If it isn't strong enough to fight, or even if it is halfway there, it will only make them kill me, so I trained hard to suppress and hide my spiritual power.
 Seriously... it was very hard work. The setting of 'Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)' is inspired by Northern Japan or Hokuriku region, so the winters are harsh. And I was born in a cold village in a barren land. With three brothers and sisters under me, children are a precious labor force.
 At that time, by the time I can remember my previous life, I'd been hoeing with my stomach growling, shoveling snow, weaving sandals, and using all the precious time I have left to suppress my spiritual power. These were the days when all I could think about was the immediate future. The few times I had fun were when I was taking care of my little brother or sister, or even the other younger children in the village. I told them fairy tales about stories I knew from a previous life and taught them simple reading, writing, and arithmetic. The children were pure, and they admired me without question. It's a shameful thing to say now, but it was one of my few pastimes to feel superior in this way.
 However, it was then that I was in a situation. One day, well-dressed visitors arrived in the village. The village chief, who usually demanded a heavy tribute and ordered us to do chores, took one look at us as we bowed our heads in desperation. But then, I gasped. Immediately, I felt a rush of spiritual power that overflowed my body.
 It made me nauseous immediately. No, at that time, I vomited. I was hit by too much spiritual power and fell down, and I just vomited like a drunken person. Even though there was not much in my stomach, I vomited even though there was only gastric juice. My head was headachy like a drunken man, my vision was shaking, and my consciousness was fading away. The voices around me were also fading away, and it was difficult to understand what the sounds meant. I just felt like I was drowning on the land...
 However, I knew that the village chief yelled at me and took out a whip. I thought I was going to be whipped... but then the visitor stopped the chief. And the moment I looked up and saw the figure saw the look in his eyes, I knew for sure. I knew my power was exposed. Or rather, that I'd been observed. Now that I think about it, it must have been a kind of eye technique.
 After that, there was some conversation with the village chief and my parents, and I was taken away by the visitors without a word of explanation as they handed the money over to my parent and the village chief. Seeing this, my little brother and sister chased after me with tears in their eyes, but they were being held back by my parents. That was the last time I remember seeing my family.
 After that, my memory is hazy. But I do remember that they asked me some questions as they took me away.
 They took me on horseback and I rode with them over the mountains for days. I remember that they made me take off my rags and put on brand new clothes at an inn town along the way.
 From that point on, my memory is again hazy, but I remember going through the gate of the Kizuki family's residence, which I had seen in the game. Then, I was led by the hand down the corridor and brought to the entrance of the room.
 As soon as the sliding door was opened, it took my breath away in two ways. First, because of her beauty, and second, because I had been swept along, and before I knew it, I found myself trapped in a ditch from which I could not escape.
 "You know what, boy? Take care of that little horsey girl. And be very careful. If you're smart for your age, you'll be able to handle her well, won't you? You might even hit it off with her, being of the same peasant blood."
 The grown-up man turns on his heel, leaving me standing there. But I still stare at the girl inside the room dumbfounded, but I can't stay like that forever, so I look at her again.
 "What? Do you have a problem with me? Who are you? Just what are you?"
 Her words were unbelievably foul for someone who lived in the house of the Kizuki family, a famous family of exorcists. She sounded like a country farmer's child. Because in fact, I've seen many such children in my village. No, more than that...
 "...? What? Don't just stand there staring at me for a long time."
 The beautiful dark-haired girl looked at me with rough words and an annoyed expression on her face, but she was wearing a kimono that was heavily disheveled, and she did not put her hair up in a bun or comb her hair. And from her eyes, I could see a clear hostility. But I realized...
 "I'm sorry, I just thought you were so cute."
 Well, since we were both only children in appearance, I would spit out such a blunt remark and throw it away without a second thought. However, the girl who has a low tolerance even in the game is surprised by such a single word, and she looks a little embarrassed and shy. Behind her childish smile, I was thinking coldly, "She's a childish girl, isn't she?"
 "Umm... as the grown-up said before, I'm going to be your caretaker. So, nice to meet you. My name is..."
 At that moment, I must have been full of ideas. Maybe I was filled with resentment from the hard life I'd led. So I approached her without thinking twice, hoping to get a taste of her sweet juices.
 But, it was a big mistake. I should not have made such an unprofessional and uncharacteristically greedy move. Seriously, it was a terrible and irreversible mistake...
 "Oh? You're awake? Should I say good morning? Oops...?"
 I woke up from a bad dream, and almost on reflex, I thrust my spear into the demon that was looking into my face. Of course, the demon avoids it by a hair's breadth, as I should have expected.
 "That's terrible. Why should I get speared by a spear so soon after you wake up?"
 "It's more than enough that you're a demon. You used sleeping potions, didn't you?"
 I ask, looking back at my somewhat hazy memory.
 "Oh. You remembered? Well, well, you don't have to thank me, okay? You didn't even eat, so you must at least get some sleep to keep your strength up, okay?"
 I can't help but raise an eyebrow at the monster who says this so self-satisfiedly. It would be far worse for my mental health to sleep unprotected in front of her. Because it shouldn't be okay, should it? She should be eating me, right?
 I check my fingers, nose, ears, etc. to make sure I haven't been "nibbled", and the demon shrugs her shoulders.
 "You're as careful as usual. Why is it that you don't trust me?"
 "Who would trust a demon?"
 I say this with a reproachful tone, and look up at the sky through the hole in the cave. And it seems there's no fog.

 "Well, I gave that one a kick yesterday to adjust the difficulty level. Maybe that one still crouching in pain."
 "I knew it was you who made that sound and whispered at me during the battle yesterday."
 That thunderous roar during the battle, followed by a sudden weakening of the fog, was this girl messing with me after all.
 (Still, the youkai is still alive after getting kicked by this girl? It seems we're dealing with a Great Youkai. And the candidates for the owner of the fog are limited...)
 "Well, at least that one didn't look like a person and didn't move well. Rather, it was so slow that that one's minions had to carry it."
 "Hey, hey, don't doubt me, okay? Even a demon who is a liar doesn't lie all the time."
 I look away from the monster, who is laughing and deceiving me, and narrow down the list. Fortunately, I had read several books on Youkai from the gorilla princess on a whim, so the candidates came up immediately.
 "Is that clam the best candidate?"
 If it had a body, used fog illusion, had no human form, and moved slowly, the most likely candidate was that monster.
 "Shin/shen (蜃)"... a giant clam, from which the word mirage is derived, is a monster that has been told down through the ages in the past lives, and in the game "Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)" it appears as a kind of Youkai. In the original game, this big and powerful Youkai torments the main character by showing him hallucinations of his dead family members.
 I don't know if it is the same individual or not, but it is lucky anyway. It's not that powerful in direct combat. It's probably not that mature, judging from that fog yesterday. And it must be very weak if it has been kicked once by the demon in front of me.
 (Given Kizuki Ayaka's character, even if it is a servant, like me, she would not leave me there if she is not sure that I am dead. So there are some ways to defeat it.)
 In yesterday's battle, her movements lacked precision, probably due to nervousness. I have accompanied her in her work several times, but at that time she was accompanied by another exorcist who was older than her... Well, in the game, she had been indecisive, but now she was on her first solo mission, so it would be so. Even with that in mind, this extermination will not be so tough.
 "First, I'll join up with the others... Huh!?"

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