Wednesday, November 9, 2022 @

Chapter 8, Part 2

 As I mentioned last time, the Kizuki family's residence has been artificially turned into a "stray house" by the technique developed as a result of many years of experimentation and research by the researchers. From the outside, the size of the building is roughly equivalent to that of a large noble's residence in the capital, which is vast in itself, but in fact, the interior of the building is half a different world, and its area has been extended several times over.
 The building is based on the Shinden-zukuri (寝殿造), and as much as possible, there are several gardens and even a farm inside the residence.
 The central bedroom is the place where the head of the family resides, followed by the north pair with the hall to the north. This northern pair is the room of the old hag with a youthful appearance.
 From the central bedroom, the east and west pairs extend east and west, respectively. The former is the room for sis (anego-sama), and the latter is the room for a gorilla. From the northern pair, there are two halls extending north, east, and west, and these three halls are the places where other members of the family, including relatives, reside. Although several people live in the same area as the residence where the immediate family members live alone, this point is not of much concern since the residence itself is huge to begin with. Rather, it is only funny to see the four people who occupy the whole building by themselves.
 This is the main structure of the building, which is surrounded by a kitchen, a stable, a warehouse, a well, and so on, as well as a building where the servants live. Such is the living quarters of the family.
 But then, the Kizuki family, as exorcists and not as private citizens, also manages the facilities in the surrounding area, separated by Tsukiji (a small wooden structure). Those who live in the Kizuki facilities are servants for the purpose of making a living and have no knowledge of exorcism. Across the Tsukiji are the residences of the Ongyo-shu (hidden group), the Yakushi-shu (medicine group), the Noroi-gu-shu (curse-tool master group), the Rikyu-shu (researcher group), the Heiju-shu (healer group), and the Shimonin-shu (servant group), with various laboratories, living facilities, and training centers necessary for their use.
 After cleansing myself in the bathhouse on the west side, I went to the servants' building, or more precisely, the detached building of the head of the servants' building, with a fragrance that was not appropriate for a servant. The purpose of this visit was to report on my recent assignment and to apply for the re-supply of the goods I had lost.
 "I've already heard about this from Ayaka-sama and the researcher group dispatched. It's a stroke of luck, but considering the fact that this is against a great Youkai, I'd say it's a very big win. As the head of the servants, I'm very proud of you."
 The man working in his tatami-floored study stops writing and raises his head. At first glance, his smile appears good-natured, but its depths remain elusive.
 Kizuki Shisui, the head servant of the Kizuki family, is in his mid-thirties at the time of the start of the original game. He has short blond hair cut short, and his right eye is indigo, while his left eye is red.
 Iris heterochromia... is not an attribute given simply for the visual appearance of the character. Rather, it was proof of his unusual ability.
 Those who can use spiritual power to perform magic have "heterotopia," a special, unique, and inborn ability that occurs especially in extremely rare cases.
 And the "special ability" that is fully automatic and specialized for a single purpose is called "mystic eye (魔眼)". In the case of Kizuki Shisui's "mystic eye", it is unique in that it has different characteristics for left and right eyes.
 The former is similar to hypnosis, but it puts the subject in a state of binding, and the latter is similar to telekinesis in psychic ability and affects the subject mechanically.
 This combination is heinous. In the worst case, just by "seeing" the target, he can block his/her movement and even twist off his/her head. Of course, there is a possibility that it can be neutralized depending on the opponent's Youkai power or ability, but in most cases, it can kill the opponent at the first sight.
 Moreover, even if his "mystic eye" is neutralized, his spiritual power, techniques using his spiritual power, and stick techniques using his stick are all top-notch. In fact, at the end of the game, neither humans nor Youkai were able to defeat him in a head-on battle, but Youkai was finally able to kill him with a combination of various techniques. It can be said that he is one of the strongest members of the Kizuki family "at present". And... he was once the most promising candidate for the next head of the family.
 However, after the blooming of the spiritual power and the manifestation of the "unusual ability" of both Hina, the eldest daughter, and Aoi, the second daughter, he voluntarily gave up his position as a candidate for the head of the family. Although he was still superior to them at the start of the original story, he thought that his two cousins would surpass him in the future. This would lead to the prosperity of the entire Kizuki family.
 In fact, the older sister can revive herself even if her neck is twisted, and the younger one can strengthen her body by simple spiritual power, making restraints and neck-twisting powerless, so it can't be helped. Well, even if the "mystic eye" is neutralized, he is still overwhelmed by their bare skill at the beginning of the game.
 (Above all... he is a character who can't show his openness.)
 In the game, Kizuki Shisui is not cruel or cruel, but he is a man who thinks of his family as a whole with a cold heart and is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of it. Therefore, depending on the route, he would cooperate with the main character, and on the other hand, there were times when he would thoroughly confront the main character. And when they confronted each other, he was merciless and unscrupulous. Considering my position, I could not say anything careless to him, even if he was not a person to watch out for.
 "'Shin/shen'...I heard that youkai was small in the beginning and had just turned into a great Youkai. However, it was wounded... It is possible that it was defeated in a territorial dispute with other Youkai and washed up in that mountain forest."
 Shisui opens a scroll that seems to be an inspection report from the researcher group who retrieved and analyzed the carcass and describes its contents as if to confirm them.
 "Multiple tentacles were severed, and the fatal wound was caused by a blade being twisted into a depression in the shell, resulting in fatal damage to the internal organs, huh?"
 "Hmm," he says and looks at me.
 "I don't mean to put it this way, but with the equipment provided to the servants, it would be difficult and it's not impossible to damage the outer skin of a great youkai. Even if they were wounded."
 "With the dagger that Princess Aoi gave me, I was able to accomplish my mission the other day."
 I anticipate what he wants to ask and answer his question ahead of time. The content itself is true, and above all, by answering first, it implies that I am obedient. Kizuki Shisui is not a clear enemy at present, but he is not a fool if he becomes an enemy. Therefore, I could not let his impression of me worsen.
 "...I don't blame you for receiving the gift from Princess Aoi. But you should have reported it to me. It is my job to educate and supervise you."
 I think he meant "monitoring and supervising". but he does not say it. Among the Kizuki family's subordinates, the most numerous, the most expendable, and the most likely to rebel due to their poor treatment, are the servants. Although they are educated (by brainwashing), cursed, and information controlled to deter escape and rebellion, they are not completely safe. So, Shisui is placed one rank below the other members as the head of the servants' group because he is capable of putting down a rebellion by himself when it breaks out.
 "Please forgive me. It was the princess's request."
 It's not a lie, but it's not true. At the time of the bestowal, the gorilla princess refused to accept my refusal and said that she would not allow me to take it away, but she did not tell me not to report it. Nevertheless, I didn't report it because I didn't want to draw attention to myself and I didn't want to be known. Well, she is a quick-witted princess with a whimsical habit. If Shisui asks her some questions later, she will probably make some adjustments to her story. Or at least, she should.
 "I see. Very well, I'll let her know. I don't mind favoritism on a whim, but as long as it's for the sake of control, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know."
 In other words, in the future, the servant should be warned not to hide things from him. This is a good example of how the saying goes.
 "Well, there were some problems and some luck, but an achievement is still an achievement. Even if you are a mere servant, your achievement should be properly appreciated."
 These words proved that Kizuki Shisui is a person who never forgets to give me candy after the whip. At the same time, he did not disregard me as just a servant in a bad way.
 (Still, my origin is slightly different from other servants... so he is wary of me on that point as well.)
 I guess he thinks that I am suspicious of what I am thinking because I was originally a caretaker of sis (anego-sama) and now I am a servant. Therefore, he is trying to show me some candies to ease my frustration, and at the same time, he is trying to find out what I think by my reaction...
 "We, the servants, have suffered a considerable loss due to the failure of the previous two missions. It was a painful loss, even though this is a job with a lot of turnovers to begin with. However, thanks to your support, I have asked you to take on the role of group leader temporarily, and I would like to take this opportunity to officially give you command of the group. Naturally, there will also be an improvement in your treatment."
 For a subordinate group leader, it was a kind of appropriate and generous compensation. In order to prevent rebellion and collusion as much as possible, the servants do not have fixed units. They usually did not have active interactions between the upper and lower ranks, and the horizontal ties were not that deep because of the rapid turnover of members. In addition, there is no rank higher than the leader of the group, and the leader of the group is given a private room, unlike the subordinates who sleep together in the same room. So, they are isolated from the rest of the group. And with such isolation, it is difficult to plan anything with the subordinates. The ancestors of the Kizuki family who made this organization have really bad character."
 "I humbly accept your trust..."
 ...But I already know that from the book, and I don't think I can escape from my position as a servant by such a lenient way. Therefore, I was able to kill my emotions and accept the appointment honestly.
 (Yes. Wait for the right opportunity. It's too unknown now. The sure way out is to wait until after the original event...)
 To be precise, there were many bad endings in which the servants or the whole Kizuki family was wiped out or obviously wiped out, so I had to lead the main character to a route where he could break the flags of such a route and escape. Although it is difficult, and the situation has already been partially changed from the original game... it should still be possible to follow the main flow of the story. And taking advantage of the event...
 I think to that point, and then I realize that the head of the servants is staring at me from the front all the time, and I close my mind and pretend to be unconcerned.
 "...Oh, yeah. About supplies. You can tell the curse-tool men about the weapons and the clothes. I've already talked to them."
 With that, he pulled something out of his pocket and held it out to me.
 It was a Noh mask. Not the small mask I used to wear when I was a low-ranking member, but a Noh mask that represented an old man. It was a mask for the leader of the group.
 I bowed deeply and accepted the mask. Just before taking the mask, the giver smiled meaningfully.
 "Keep up the good work. I will be on your side as long as you know your place as a servant, swear fealty to the Kizuki family, and devote yourself to your duties with sincerity and devotion."
 I felt cold on my neck and broke out in a cold sweat, probably as a warning. If I said the wrong thing, my neck would surely be in a crisis.
 "...I understand."
 I reply shortly. For a moment, the pressure from the torrent of spiritual power filled the room... and it took about ten seconds for it to subside.
 "...Quickly wear the mask. I have a lot of work to do."
 The words were spun as the thick pressure of spiritual power completely subsided. I silently and somewhat hastily put the mask on my face, trying hard to stop my hands from shaking. I didn't want to look too much like a dead man with a bloodthirsty face.
 "Now, you can retire."
 "Yes, sir."
 I reply in a completely emotionless tone to the smiling order from the head of the servants and turn on my heel.
 (D*mn! I can't stay here forever! I don't know when I'm going to be killed...!)
 I am aware of my heart rate spiking. I try to stay calm and hide my emotions like a servant, trying to avoid the nervousness and fear that makes my legs almost fall off.
 But in a way, the worst news for me may have been from the report I was about to give early. Because right now, he looked at my back and said, as if remembering.
 "Oh, that's right. I'll give you the official notice later, but I'll tell you now. Tomobe-kun, you are to accompany me on my next trip to the capital. I expect you to be ready and willing to do your duty."
 Kizuki Shisui's merciless and sudden bombshell statement made me forget my acting and give such a stupid reply. After all, his order was too ill-timed.
 ...Yes. This mission was the worst mission at the worst place at the worst time.
 Anyway, this was the time of Kitsuri Shiroki (狐璃白綺), one of the heroines in "Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)", and one of the most infamous beast characters in the game... Her prequel to the game was about to start in the capital...

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