Wednesday, November 9, 2022 @

Chapter 9, Part 2

  In the original game "Firefly of the Dark Night (Yamiyo no Hotaru)", the player can join a trip to the capital by improving his abilities to a certain level by a certain point in the game's progression.
 In Fuso-kuni, the setting of this work, the central part centering on the capital is ruled by the imperial court with the emperor and court nobles as the core, and the local areas are ruled by the dual power of the feudal lords who rule mainly in the secular world and the exorcist family who deal with supernatural phenomena such as youkai.
 Going to the capital is one of the duties imposed by the imperial court on the lords and the exorcist clans. They do it once every three years and are ordered to visit the inner palace and guard the capital for half a year.
 The Kizuki family also regularly visits the capital with a delegation of their clan, and this visit to the capital is scheduled in the middle of the game, and the storyline will be diverges depending on the status, friendship, and likability of the main character, whether or not he accompanies the visit to the capital, and who stays or goes away to the capital. Oh, if a player gets along with one of the sisters, and he/she goes to the capital and gets along with the others, he/she can see a great scene...? (white eyes)
 (In other words, this time is exactly two and a half years before the start of the original game...)
 Considering that it takes half a year from the time the main character is taken in by the Kizuki family to the start of the capital event, it is clear that there is only a short time left before the game starts.
 ...however, the initial setting and the situation have already deviated from the original story, even if only slightly, because of me, even if it was an unavoidable action to survive. I don't know if the game will start as it is, and even if it does, the question is how to avoid the route that almost always ends badly, or how to escape by taking advantage of it. Even if I succeed in freeing myself from the curse of subjugation and surveillance, the country itself may be in a mess. The difficulty level of this game is really a disaster.
 "Tomobe, are you even listening to me?"
 "What? C-Can I help you...?"
 I come to my senses at the sudden voice, and look at the owner of the voice through the mask.
 I was kneeling in a corner of the room, and what came into my view was a spacious room with tatami mats... there is also a girl sitting on the floor with a Japanese harp sitting right in front of her. The girl in peach color smiled with a sly smile as she took her hand off the strings and put it on her lap.
 "Oh my, how extravagant of you to be thinking about something else while others are playing? You seem to have become haughty since you became the leader of the group."
 "No, I would never do such a thing. I was just thinking about the concerns in the capital."
 The girl giggles, her voice a little like a bird's chirp, and I offer an apology, including the obvious.
 Three oxcarts (already converted into stray houses), plus one wagon for carrying goods, four exorcists, including a representative, and ten miscellaneous people to take care of them, accompany us. There were also five cloistered men, 12 servants, six other men such as the medicine group, and about 30 temporary workers... If it were only by numbers, the formation was as large as that of a low-ranking feudal lord, which was a treat for Youkai and the others, partly because many of them had spiritual powers and unusual abilities. For the note, although the roads are well maintained, Youkai still appears and attacks merchants and travelers, especially on the mountain roads. There may even be bandits.
 "Oh my, how can a servant leader be so worried about such a thing? You're getting too cocky. How can a servant do better than me and my uncle?"
 She smiles a classy, yet clearly, abusive sneer, hiding her mouth with the sleeve of her kimono.
 The fact of the matter is, I'm only a servant. I have not the slightest chance of winning in a fight, not against the younger girl in front of me, let alone against her fat uncle, who is the head of this group. So, what can I do to make them retreat from the fight? Even if not, unless Calamity Youkai comes out, the monsters that attacked us on the way would have been killed immediately by the exorcists who accompanied us. Fortunately, I, the leader of the servant group, can be a gorilla princess's guard, a companion chatter, and a listener of her harp performance without having to do any work.
 But that's only until we enter the capital. After all, visiting the capital at this time of the year is euphemistically suicidal, you know...?
 (No, if I don't do something about it, I'll just die.)
 Based on the original game and the manga/novels, the timing of this trip to the capital is very bad. To be precise, Gorilla-sama and Fatty are strong, so they may be okay, but if it goes badly, I may die from accidental injuries. And the most problematic thing is that even though I understand that I am in such a dangerous place if I read the novel, I would feel bad if I don't do something after entering the capital.
 (The question is whether I have free time or not, and if so, what I should do...)
 Since I know about the brain miso pudding case of Item Kayo-chan's parents and the dance-eating party at the orphanage in the new city, I feel too guilty to ignore it, and more than that, it troubles the storyline. If there is no such thing, it is better not to ignore it.
 Even if it is not, that female fox is as bad as the Kizuki family in the main story of the game. As for Aoko, she is also a big deal, but she is less hated as far as the main story is concerned... but the female fox was already the target of hate from the time the game was sold. She was an evil woman with a rotten character. There was a little, really a little, defensible setting, but it was too much of a fuck-up to cover it up. It makes people think that it might be better to kill her if you can (even if it is unlikely).
 In fact, it is not a small matter to be crossed so lightly...
 "Oh my, you are thinking about something else, aren't you?"
 "Princess, that..."
 "No need to make excuses. You can't fool me all you want. Even through your mask, I can guess your shallow thoughts just by the way you act. You're so vacant. It's puzzling. If you were going to the capital, you should be more nervous, no... is it depressed?"
 The gorilla princess has a strange expression on her face. Well, it is rare to be excited about life in the capital, but not so rare to be depressed. In the time of the Youkai Rebellion, however, there is no safer place than the capital in these days.
 "You seem to be in a very low state of mind, huh? Is it so bothersome for you to accompany me?"
 "No, there's no such thing."
 "Then why do you seem so serious?"
 "It's just..."
 I'm not a very smart man. I can make assumptions and take countermeasures in advance, but I'm not nimble enough to take the best possible action on the spur of the moment when those assumptions are deviated from. So I am silent for a few seconds.
 "So, you can't tell me everything as it is?"
 In response to my brief silence, the gorilla princess mutters, but with the right meaning. Well, Gorillas are the sages of the forest, so it can't be helped.
 "No, I have no secrets from the princess..."
 "I don't need excuses or compliments. I've seen it all the time."
 She lets out a choked sigh and waves her finger. The sideburns on the edge of the room are pulled up in the air and land in a position that is just right for where she is sitting. The girl continues to fan herself with her elbow on the side breath...
 "I know you're not well educated, but I know you're not stupid. You must have a reason for not wanting to talk about it, don't you?"
 "With all due respect, Princess, there are things I am considering for the sake of the Kizuki family and the Princess. However, I ask your forgiveness if I cannot make a decision at this time."
 I bow my head in reverence and plead. I cannot lie here. The gorilla would be offended if I told her, and the six senses of the exorcist are not to be trifled with. She can detect my lies and deceptions from the slightest discomfort. And moreover, if it is against a gorilla...
 That is why I will not tell a lie. There is no benefit for either the Kizuki family or the gorilla in letting that fox woman do what she likes and letting her be strengthened. Especially for you, gorilla-sama. You don't want to lose your favorite hero, do you?
 "...I see."
 The gorilla princess replies to my words with a momentary hint of frustration and then continues.
 "So? What is it that you want from me, making such an unprovable and unconvincing request?"
 "I will devote myself to my duties as long as they are assigned to me. However, I would like to have some freedom in my leisure time."
 The Kizuki family understands that it is impossible to work from the time one wakes up to the time one goes to bed, even for six months straight, so there are some vacations and breaks. The problem is that even those hours are not completely free, and even the little freedom that servants have to move around can be enough to make the family suspicious and wary. So, all I ask of her is tacit approval and follow-through.
 "That's a very bold request from a servant. Do you expect me to grant it?"
 She whispers in a mean tone. However, she is wise despite her reputation as a gorilla. She herself must understand that at least my words are not lies. And she can handle whatever she wants to do to a single servant at any time. Above all, I knew that a gorilla with too much talent and too much time on her hands could not fail to be interested in this unknown proposal.
 ...And I probably won the bet.
 "Okay. When you're done, send me something interesting. Understand?"
 The words sounded familiar. When the main character asked for her help in the game, she said the same thing in return for his agreement.
 "As you wish."
 I bowed my head again, deeply and gratefully. Even though the conditions were negative and troublesome, her acceptance of my request saved many lives, averted several bad endings of the original main character, and above all, increased my chances of survival...
 "Princess, we have arrived. We are now preparing for your entrance."
 Just as I was about to express my gratitude, a messenger reported from the oxcart. I looked at him through my Noh mask, and the gorilla cowered her shoulders and waved her fan in approval.
 After bowing, I step out of the blind of the oxcart. Then I saw it reflected in my vision.
 It was the majestic gate of the castle. A wooden gate that separated the rich, verdant fields that would turn golden in autumn. Many oxen, wagons, and footmen lined up in a long line to the gate, which was supervised by the city guard. The gate itself is a fortified gate with multiple layers of protection.
 Now, the crowd parted as if to break the sea. Then, the Kizuki family's oxcart and the line of people headed for the gate, enjoying it as a matter of course. For the note, it is not possible for a family of exorcists to line up at the gate with merchants and migrant peasants. Likewise, I follow the line, standing guard by the oxcart.
 "...well, now that I'm here, I guess I'll have to do it."
 I make up my mind to do it. It's dangerous... but as long as I can expect a return for it, I have no choice but to do it.
 I rearrange the timeline in my brain and come up with what should be my first priority.
 I know what I must do first in this capital. That is to stop the revival and strengthening of the damned fox. That is... to stop the dancing and eating at the orphanage on the outskirts of the new city and to stop the former head of the Onmyou dormitory, Azuma Hibari (吾妻雲雀), from being devoured without resistance by the cowardly means of being taken hostage.

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