Friday, December 16, 2022 @

Volume 3 Epilogue, Part 4

  It was an early autumn night... a crescent moon was illuminating the darkness of the night.
 In the dark of the night, the small girl sits alone in the center of her room, which is locked from the outside, sitting on her knees. Her posture was straight and straight, silent and absorbed in meditation. Her expression was filled with pain from remorse and self-doubt.
 She was alone in a darkened room, and the girl's name was Ako Murasaki. She is the daughter of the Ako family, whose lineage is the most famous for its exorcism, the owner of the youkai sword 'Nekiri Kubi Sogimaru (Neck Cutter)', and the girl who was sentenced to house arrest for the recent unauthorized extermination of youkai and other related blunders.
 Murasaki, who is under house arrest in her room, is not, however, dissatisfied with her treatment. She understood well that it was a punishment she deserved... no, it was too soft for the mistake she had made.
 After all, she did not even talk to her family, she ignored the pleas of her subordinates, she was caught when she was careless and went to exterminate youkai in the underground tunnels, and when she thought she could escape after that, she was caught off guard again and was almost eaten, and finally, she could not control her youkai sword and almost killed the member of another family, even if he was only a servant. The many blunders she committed during that time, big and small, were too many and too ugly. So, it is no wonder that her father scolded her for her carelessness when she returned home after completing his duties in the inner palace.
 "It's an abomination... indeed, it's all an abomination."
 Murasaki, sitting upright in her dark room, glanced at the mirror in front of her and smiled scornfully at her reflection in it. It was because she thought it was too funny.
 Although she had not said it to her father and the others, it was not really that cute. She was terrified, shedding tears and sniveling against youkai, begging for her life, clinging to the lowly and helpless servants. It is too shallow, too miserable, and too appalling behavior for the daughter of a famous family of exorcism. No, what's even more shameful is...
 "Hehe, this is what they call shamelessness, right...?"
 What is more disgraceful than anything else is the fact that she depended on her opponent, whom she saw as her rival, and whom she had been wrestling with on her own. Even so, despite relying on the other party...
 "I won't make excuses, and I can't. The fact is the fact, and I'll only be miserable if I try to defend myself."
 The difference in experience? Was it because it was the first time for her to kill youkai? Because it was the "youkai mother" of all people? That is not an excuse. The difference in talent and ability between the exorcists and the servants is so great that it would be miserable to use it as an excuse. She also believes that at least if she and he had been in the opposite position, he would not have been so ugly.
 (I'm sure he's safe, though...)
 Thinking about all this, Murasaki is concerned about the young man in question. When she thinks of the young man who was so battered and beaten by youkai, and who was so beaten by her own sword that went out of control, she feels a sense of remorse and a tightening of her chest, even though she understands that he is only a servant.
 He is safe... yes, he should be safe. Murasaki is half-convinced of that. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be alive right now. After all, it was obvious at first sight. For the first time in her life, she'd seen her cousin so obsessed with him. If he were gone, that respected cousin would have forced her way into this house by now, and there would have been a commotion.
 ...so he must be safe. Of course, he is. Please let it be so.
 "...Still, I never thought I would think such a thing about someone of that status. Is it what my grandfather and father said about trust on the battlefield?"
 Murasaki analyzes her own chest throbbing and aching. Normally, a servant, who is only better than a slave, is not someone she should be concerned about... but she has heard that there are times when people, who risk their lives in the same place, fight together, and share the same fate with others, even if they are subordinates, can indeed have trust, friendship, and respect for those who share their fate. She had also heard that this was a rare and precious thing.
 "This is... I see. I've been through so much. Even if it's just a servant, it's still a little... yeah, it made me worry a little. Yes, that's the way it is, isn't it?"
 Murasaki muttered to herself as if she was making excuses or telling herself something to no one. Or maybe it was a suggestion to herself.
 Either way, Murasaki tries to come to terms with her feelings in this way. That is how confused she was by the sensation she was feeling. And her thoughts go further and she tries to deal with her cousin's attitude in the same way. Yes, her cousin had also taken a liking to him since his work about four years ago, as she recalls. She must be feeling the same way as herself, she thinks.
 (Then I can understand why I went through all that trouble. So this is what I get for just half a day of life and death, huh? But my cousin was with him for 3 days. So, it's understandable that she favored him so much...)
 She even had hostility... and it was ugly jealousy... how can she change her mind so much? In a sense, it is natural that her cousin who has been with him longer and has not coiled around him favors him so much. However...
 "It's also true that my cousin is a bit too much, and I hope she will reflect on that point."
 Even though her cousin was a bit too much in her head, she could have subdued 'Nekiri Kubi Sogimaru (Neck Cutter)' more calmly if she had been able to do so. Thanks to her, the half-destroyed 'Nekiri Kubi Sogimaru (Neck Cutter)' will take several months to regenerate if it is not fed. That's what her father said when she took one look at the 'wreckage' of a youkai sword that had been shattered to pieces.
 Not to mention the fact that her cousin was going to wield a fan reinforced with spiritual power at her neck, no matter how threatening it was... Murasaki was about to think so... it was too much, even for a cousin. There are things she can do and things she can't do, even if they are cousins. There's a certain etiquette to being close. So...
 "...I think I need to protest."
 Although she might receive a visit from the other side, Murasaki felt that she should go there and question her directly.
 Yes, it would certainly be a hostile situation for visiting her cousin's place from there, but she wouldn't mind that much pressure if it was for that person. She just coolly and carefreely avoids the pursuit. If that is the case, it would be better for her to surprise her cousin and make her upset, wouldn't it?
 Once she thought so, Murasaki gradually began to think that it was a good idea. Of course, it was an illusion. Kizuki's cousin is objectively not so good, but even so, Murasaki, who is not so honest and not so good with her mouth, would have no chance to win the game with her mouth, even if she could catch her off guard. She should have understood that much if she was a normal person. In fact, for her, the true purpose of this idea was...
 "Yes, that's right. I owe him a favor. So, it would be a good idea to show up to visit him. I'm sure he'll be happy if I bring him a present too!"
 The youngest daughter of Ako said this, imagining him kneeling on her knees and thanking her. She did not notice that her voice was strangely lively at the last part of her words. That was the proof that she had been so excited inside. Yes, she had certainly been looking forward to it. It was nothing more than an excuse for her to give her cousin a surprise. Though Murasaki herself would deny it.
 Of course, that would have to wait until her house arrest was over first. More than that, there was a reason why she needed more time to carry out her plan. It was...
 "...! I'm getting lightheaded, this is... Uhh..."
 Murasaki, who has been overexcited, suddenly feels weak like a puppet whose strings have been broken. As soon as she feels dizzy and her vision spins around and around, she puts one hand on the tatami mat and presses her mouth uncomfortably with her bandaged hand. She looks confused, tired, and slightly ashamed.
 "...was I a little too excited?"
 Murasaki mutters with a tired look on her face, breathing heavily. Then, she reflects on her own state of excitement. She thinks that she is not yet good enough to get carried away by such a thing.
 To be honest, when she realized this, she was confused at first. Her mother died when she was very young, and she grew up in a male-dominated family, so she did not know anything about it. It was natural to suspect youkai or a curse at first, especially when it happened for the first time on the very night when she was rescued from the underground tunnels. She has talked to her father and brothers about her health condition, but neither of them knew anything about it, and therefore they were discussing it with serious looks on their faces.
 ...that's why, when one of the maids, who knew it well, explained to her about the cyclic events peculiar to women, Murasaki first stopped thinking, and then she was embarrassed to the point of writhing when she understood the meaning of it. She was so embarrassed that she thought of committing seppuku. Now, after a while, she has calmed down.
 ...No, even that is not so bad. The really embarrassing part is when she looks back at her memory and recalls the first moment when the discomfort and tingling started. It was in the tunnels of the underground sewers, she believes, when she was preparing herself to be tortured by the monster. Yes, when she was in complete despair... at that moment when that man saved her and reached out to her, she felt a pain like an arrow through her chest, and an indescribable heat and tingling under her abdomen...
 Murasaki hides her reddish face with the sleeves of her kimono and sits down on the tatami. She writhes in agony as she crouches on the tatami. The more she remembers, the more she feels shallow and embarrassed.
 "It's not like that!! Yes, that's right!! It was just a coincidence!! Or it must be a mistake!! Such shallow, dirty, shameful behavior...!!!"
 Murasaki desperately denies her feelings and memories. Yes, it's ridiculous. It's just like a rabbit... an animal that goes into heat over anything! It's a shocking thing. If she were to hear such a thing from an acquaintance, she would probably be so shocked that she would refrain from further contact with them, and probably the same goes for that servant. Murasaki was able to imagine him pulling a face and distancing himself from her.
 Therefore, such a thing could not and should not be allowed to happen. It must have been a coincidence, unless she remembered wrongly, that it triggered against that servant. It must be! It has to be!
 "Yes, it must be! I'm sure! It's just a coincidence! Absolutely! It's impossible!"
 Murasaki's face turns red and she screams like she's crying even though there's no one around her. Then she takes a deep, rough breath to calm her racing emotions. After a while, she finally manages to calm down.
 "Haah... haah... haah.... I was uncharacteristically too flustered... I really need more practice. To be flustered by such trivial nonsense...!"
 Murasaki comments on her own almost one-wrestling disgrace. Then she looks at her reflection in the mirror in front of her and catches her breath. But suddenly, she notices a small Japanese comb covered with dust by the mirror stand.
 She would not normally have been interested in this lacquered, less ornate, but fine-looking object. However, this time was different. Just as if being sucked in, her white hand, like a white fish, reached out and slowly opened the lid. Then she took a glance at the contents and remembered.
 It must have been something her father had bought for her to match her violet hair. But she had no interest in such a thing, and moreover, at that time, she felt as if her talent as an exorcist had not been recognized, so she had put it back in the chest and half-forgotten about it...
 Murasaki stared at it intently and then glanced around to make sure there were no peepers. Although there should be no peepers, she persistently looks around. Then, after carefully making sure there are no witnesses, she reaches out her hand fearfully and...
 "Like this, right...?"
 Murasaki struggled a little with this, as she had never done such a thing by herself, though she had been forced to put it on by a maid.
 And just after she somehow succeeded, she looked at her reflection in the mirror in front of her and naturally sighed.
 The comb, which was metaphorically made of fresh polka dots and colored with silver-like flower petals, looked beautiful together with the color of Murasaki's hair.
 She looked at the mirror and couldn't help staring at it. Although she had no knowledge or aesthetics about this kind of thing, the comb matched her so well that even she could think it was beautiful. If anyone other than her had seen it, they would have gazed at it and let out a sigh as well. Murasaki's father must have thought long and hard about whether this comb would match his daughter.
 (It looks good on me... doesn't it?)
 She had no interest in or knowledge of makeup or dressing up, but now she was beginning to like this comb, although she was not sure if it really suited her objectively.
 And then she thought, "Ah, what would he look like if I wear this comb to visit him? Would he be surprised? Would he admire it? Would he fascinate by it? Or...
 Murasaki smiled at her reflection in the mirror with a very natural, embarrassed smile. No, it might have been exactly the anticipation of her reaction when he saw her reflection.
 Then, as if it were a matter of course, her eyes turned to the chest of drawers sitting behind the mirror. There was a kimono there, which she had never worn since it had been bought for her...
 It was a while later that the maid who brought dinner was stunned to see Murasaki staring at the mirror stand in her brand-new kimono, and she turned bright red and screamed when she noticed the maid's gaze...
* * *
 '......Ah, she failed, didn't she?'
 The voice echoed in the eternal darkness like the deep sea. It sounded like the voice of a beautiful girl, but it also sounded like the voice of something outside of human reason, lacking in any kind of emotion. Followed by a sighing sigh.
 'I had not held high expectations for her to begin with, but... now I see. ...just as I suspected. Then, I should expect others to do their best.'
 From the beginning, their perceptions and purposes were not compatible with each other. God is always like that. They seem to be able to talk to each other, but ultimately everything is self-contained. Therefore, she did not expect much from her. She could have done whatever she wanted. Anyway, the plan would not go so far wrong.
 'Mmm, I suppose it's about time? On the other hand, maybe it's better to just rest a bit longer? Well, I can barely even lift a finger right now. So, I think I'll stay put for a little while longer and sleep again.'
 'It' says this nonchalantly, as if it were talking to someone else, and then falls silent again in the darkness. It is as if its very existence itself dissolves into the darkness and disappears.
 The words whispered in the deepest depths underground of the capital, in the deepest prisons, where no one ever sets foot, ring out forever. They reverberate in the dark depths of the earth.
 However, at the same time, in the reverberation, the sound of the voice changes its form. .... And by the time it reached the entrance of the prison, packed with gatekeepers, it had become a mere sound of the wind, and no one could understand its meaning...
 For the note, the timing of Gorilla-sama's appearance in her room was similar to that of Murasaki's.
 By the way, the white fox also peeps into the gorilla-sama's room and turns red in the face during the first half of the chapter. It's an R-18-rated game, so there's nothing to be done about it.
 Soon, the time of the original game will start.

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