Thursday, January 5, 2023 @

Chapter 43, Part 2

 Aoi is ready for it when she confirms that the youkai swallowed the pills and then started moaning in pain from inside its stomach. And then... the next moment, Aoi let go of her hands which were clamping its mouth tightly.
 Kayo screamed at the sight of a large amount of blood spitting out from the monster's mouth as if it was gushing out.
 No, it was not only blood. What was spewed out in the flood of blood were internal organs and bones. It was a gruesome sight, as if the contents of its stomach, including its internal organs, had been roughly thrown out...
 On the other hand, Aoi, who had been receiving it directly, watched for the right moment without changing her face at all. And it came at last.
 Something big was spat out, and Aoi grabbed it as if she was holding it while her head was splattered with blood and flesh. Almost at the same time, the creature literally spits out everything inside of it, and it collapsed to its death. Sinking into a sea of blood.
 Kayo, who could do nothing but stare at the scene without any words because it was so horrifying, suddenly realized what Aoi was holding at this moment.
 "Tomobe... san...?"
 Kayo muttered as she saw the figure collapsing in Aoi's hands holding him in a princess hug. His whole body was covered with reddish-black fresh blood, not a stitch of his clothes, his hair was longer than it had been just a few minutes ago, and although he was unconscious more than anything else, he was certainly the person whom Kayo had fallen in love with...
 "—You are the daughter of the Tachibana family, aren't you?"
 Kayo was about to shout his name but was interrupted by a cold question. It was not loud, but the bottomless cold and somewhat nasty words were enough to stop Kayo's screams and get her awareness and attention.
 "Don't worry. I informed your father at the party before I came here. He should reach you before too long. And he'll have plenty of men with him."
 Her voice was mocking and scornful, but it sounded sad and envious.
 "Hwee... Y-yes!!"
 At the call, the little fox, who had been ordered to hide in the shadows, rushes. At her waist was a small knife (kogatana) and in her hand was a cloak. Both of them were his equipment, which had been confiscated by the lackeys and recovered by Aoi and the others.
 Aoi wiped some of the bloodstained body with her own clothes and wrapped him in the cloak to hide his appearance so that his appearance would not be recognized.
 "Now, the cleanup..."
 Softly, Aoi starts to draw out numerous charms... simple formulas from the cuffs of her kimono. The formula sticks to the heads of the men who fall down, moaning and groaning, and takes away their consciousness, while at the same time falsifying some of their memories. At the same time, the remaining formula clings to the corpse of the monster sinking into the pool of blood... and ignites.
 "As a matter of course, I can't leave this behind. It can't be helped.
 The fire that suddenly broke out instantly carbonized the flesh and blood of the "shell" creature. If it had been alive, it would have been nothing but a lump of flesh now that its body had been expelled. With no more youkai energy, no more spiritual energy, and no more faintly wafting divine energy, it was easy to burn it down.
 "Yes. They're faster than I thought they'd be. Shall we go before we get into trouble?"
 Aoi knew what Shiro was trying to tell her and ordered her to go. Kayo also heard several footsteps in the distance. Perhaps they are...
 "Oh, yes, yes. I almost forgot."
 Aoi's words forced Kayo to stop thinking.
 At that moment, Kayo was in a kind of hypnosis. A kind of hypnosis, which is induced by the word technique. Her consciousness is clear, but her body does not move. Kayo, who was surprised and puzzled by this, realizes it just before it happens.
 With a snap, a fan lifts Kayo's chin. A beautiful girl with peach-colored hair was in front of her. She looks at Kayo with her dark eyes and a thin mouth lifted up as if she is examining a domestic animal's growth.
 "Oh... Ah...."
 "Oh my, there's nothing to be afraid of. Don't worry, I'm a generous person, I won't take your food. I just want you to make me a promise."
 "A... promise...?"
 Kayo is more confused by Aoi's words. And because she is nervous about what she will say, she glances at the man she holds in one hand for a moment, then returns her gaze and waits for the rest of her words.
 "...if you're worried about him, don't tell anyone about tonight, about what happened to him. Well... let's just say that the youkai for sale which that trash hid in the warehouse has escaped, okay? I'm sure they're doing something similar anyway."
 Aoi pointed with her chin at the fallen men behind her and ordered her to fabricate such a situation.
 "You can do it, right? If not, he will be handed over to the Onmyou dormitory or something. I'm telling you, if he's handed over to that place, he'll never be human again, okay?"
 Aoi had seen through the man only for a short while. Because of all the things he had taken in, both factors were precious ones. If those things were seen by the researchers of the Onmyo dormitory, they would be happy to experiment on him and dissect him. Thus, he would never see the light of day again.
 "Huh...!? T-that means I'll lie...."
 "You can do that, right?"
 The pressure in those narrowed eyes made Kayo shrug. If anything, she would have been a little incontinent. She was so young, and she had neither the skill nor the determination to fight. The fact that she didn't faint under Aoi's deadly force so close to her was simply because she was being treated with a little less pressure.
 What's your reply?"
 And at Aoi's urging for the third time, Kayo had no other choice but to say what Aoi wanted. It was the last advice... no, because she instinctively knew that it was a warning. And because she knew that even such absurdity was quite tolerable considering the temperament of the woman in front of her...
 "Hehe, you've managed to lose all your venom. I like an honest girl like you, you know? ...If it weren't so, I'd forcibly rewrite his memory. But I'm sure he won't like it much. So, I'll allow it."
 Kayo's bonds are broken, and she falls down to the ground.
 "Well then, tell them the story that's been piling up later on, Miss Tachibana. Good day to you."
 Looking down at her, the cherry princess smiles coldly as she holds her beloved in her arms, and turns on her heel, showing off the bite wound on her shoulder.
 ...with a beautiful, winning smile.
 "Ah... Ah......"
 Aoi walks away with graceful behavior like a princess in a picture story. Kayo gazes at her back, and what is left is just an unspeakable sense of defeat, guilt, impermanence, hopelessness, emptiness, and loss.
 Because isn't it so? After realizing that she was in love with him, after having put himself on the line twice for her... maybe three times to protect her, and yet when the time came she couldn't make the decision to protect him, she couldn't say anything about the fact that another woman had spilled her blood to save the man she was in love with, and that he was taken away from her. She has no right, she's too stupid, she's too pathetic... this makes her sound like a nasty antagonist in a romance novel who is in love with the main characters and gets in their way.
 ...in short, she is a wretched existence who will never be able to be with the protagonists of romance novels.
 "Sob... Uu... Uuuuu... Ueeeee...."
 This is not her love story, she has no right to realize it, and with a sob, the girl lost her first love, which she had just realized was pure...
* * *
 "Leave her alone. After all, that foolish merchant will be here soon."
 Aoi smiles sarcastically. Yes, there's no need to worry about her. She has allies. She has a family that cares about her. So there is no need for her to worry about anything.
 ...because she's much more fortunate than her.
 Squeeze~ she squeezes him tightly, and her grip on him grows stronger. It was hatred, joy, and jealousy. After all, no one in her family had been there for her until today, and she was so happy that he had saved her and so frustrated that he had turned so ragged for her sake...
 "N-no... it's not that, it's the injury on the princess's shoulder..."
 The fox cub asks shyly.
 "...hehehe, I knew you'd be cunning..."
 "Hweeehh!!? T-that's not what I meant...!?"
 Aoi teases Shiro who hurriedly explains her meanness and resumes her steps... Then, as if remembering, she stops and stares at the empty space. Stares. Gazing. Then she warns...
 "Oh, yes, that's for you, too, you know? If you say anything to that old man that I don't want him to hear, I won't let you get away without a fight, so remember that."
* * *
 Matsushige Botan, who had been sharing her vision with the shikigami and retrieving the Tamagata, involuntarily jerked up and fell back down onto the chair behind her.
 "Khh...!? Eye technique through a shikigami...! What a skill she has...!!"
 Botan took one look at her twitching hand and clicked her tongue. Unlike Kayo's word technique, her bindings were caused by the eye technique... but she didn't expect to be beaten so easily through the Shikigami, even though she had a countermeasure against the spirit (mind) technique...
 "And... keep quiet to my grandfather, huh? That's ridiculous. Am I supposed to turn a blind eye to something like that...?"
 Botan's face twisted as she remembered the servant's transformed appearance. It was an outrageous demand. She had expected that the servant would end up with a monster as far as the blood of the notorious fallen god was concerned, but she was astonished to see such an oblique result. Perhaps it is because of the drug and its ingredients brought by the girl, but still...
 "Even though it was only a little bit of a failure because it was in a state of immaturity... There's no way that man can be left alone like that forever, you know!"
 A human being cannot and should not become something other than a human being. There is no good future for them.
 Therefore, Botan was convinced that she should dispose of such an existence which had no cure and would take a long time even to prolong its life as quickly as the situation permitted. Who would succumb to such a threat?
 "Well, well, that's not good... isn't it?"
 With those words in her ear, Botan realized that she was being hugged from behind by an arm around her neck. It was the work of a person who had fooled even the five senses with their advanced concealment technique.
 Immediately, Botan woke the demon bear (Onikuma), who had been lying down inside the room, by forcing it to wake up with her technique. The great youkai was instantly awakened by the power of the charms that had been implanted in its head, and at about the same time, it bared its fangs and pounced on the attacker with claws raised...
 "Shut your mouth, you dog!"
 But the next moment, an anchor slammed into its face and it collapsed.
 "Tsk, you're useless!"
 The demon bear holds its broken, blood-dripping nose and gets teary-eyed. At this point, the beast's fighting spirit had completely waned. Botan tsked her tongue in contempt at the sight of such a pitiful bear as if she were looking at a coward.
 "Well, then, could you do me a favor? I'd like you to wait a bit before you tell on the old man, okay?"
 The person who hit the demon bear turned her head toward Botan as if nothing had happened. And then, with a sexy, liquor- and bitchy odor wafting through the air, the blue demon pleaded with Botan... while preparing to tear her head off at any moment if she wants to.
 "...!? You smell too strong! Is that how you ask someone for a favor...!!?"
 "Yes. That's how demons (oni) ask others for things."
 It seemed that the demon's asking for a favor was practically a threat.
 "I think you need to add the meaning to the dictionary...!? I mean, why are you in such a heat!!?"
 Botan says in disgust at the smell, as if to spit it out. In fact, she did not want to smell it for a long time because she was not very strong. At the same time, she did not understand why this demon was in such a heat of passion that it smelled so bad.
 "Well, well, well, it's natural to be excited, isn't it? After seeing such a nice scene. And would you like to see it? My underwear is soaking again..."
 "I don't want to see it!? ...I mean, your Shikigami survived too? Where the hell is it? I didn't see it."
 "Well, I was watching it through your vision."
 Botan shuts her mouth when she hears this outrageous statement without hesitation. She's peeking into another person's vision of the shikigami through her own eyes? How easy it is for her to say that. If it weren't for this demon's words, she wouldn't have taken them seriously. After all, it's a well-documented fact that the red-haired blue demon is also skilled in the spiritual technique.
 "...Well, anyway. That's surprising. I'd have thought you'd be mortified to see something like that."
 She knows this demon has declared an unexplainable desire to be killed by a hero since she came to live here on her own. That's why she didn't know what she would do if she saw that servant turn into a monster, and that's why she wanted to get rid of him before she realized what had happened...
 "...? Oh, I must admit that I was a little disappointed when I first saw his transformation. I felt betrayed after I had given him my attention. After all, he really shouldn't have taken in that joke of a creature's blood... But?"
 Having said that, the demon laughed. Her mouth gaped open, and she laughed, drooling from the corners of her mouth, excited to the point of debauchery. She laughed as if she had just seen a great feast.
 "I knew it the moment I saw those eyes. He's the one I've been looking up to!"
 Most of the people who have turned to youkai, unless they are well-prepared or of a special kind, are basically destroyed by their wild, evil, beastly desires. And when it comes to the blood of the youkai mother, the incarnation of desire, it is normal for a person to turn into a monster with only carnal desires and appetites.
 But what about him? Perhaps there is also the factor of the drug pill... However, even taking that into consideration, his appearance when he transformed, and his behavior, even if youkai's habit, he must have been driven by a terrible urge to do so, and most of all, that impossible transformation itself was probably to rescue that little girl... And that's why...
 "That's good, that's good, that's goooood! Very good! Ah, that's right! It's great! Amazing!!!! Climax!!!! Things are back to normal, and although I have a few complaints, I'm generally very happy with the results! It was a great show!"
 Aoko the Blue Demon declares in a good mood. In fact, the transformation seemed to her to be so brilliant. Such a transformation in such a short period must have taken a heavy mental toll on the man. And yet... it was admirable for the demon to see him behave so humanely. No matter how much his body became a monster, his eyes still had the will of a human being, and he kept himself in control until the end of his life. It was madly sweet to her.
 ...she even admired him.
 "...is something wrong?"
 "...? Oh, no. I was just thinking about the past. ...Hmm?"
 Botan asked with a look of disbelief in her eyes at the demon who suddenly became silent, and the demon came back to herself and answered in a somewhat clownish and selfish tone as usual. At the same time, she suddenly starts sniffing as if she has noticed something.
 "Sniff, sniff, sniff..."
 "What, what is it? You have been sniffing me since a while ago... Hmm!? H-honestly, I'm feeling very uncomfortable...?"
 Botan is deeply disgusted by the fact that the demon, who is a beautiful woman only in appearance, sniffs her like a dog without any hesitation like an old man, coming so close to her side, neck, and arms that her nose almost comes in contact with them. The demon, on the other hand, completely ignores her words and continues to sniff her carefully. Then she narrowed her...eyes.
 "Wh-what's the matter with you? You sniffed someone's body odor and suddenly you're making a face..."
 "No, no, I just thought it'd be interesting."
 "Huh!? What...!?"
 The next moment, the demon licked Botan's neck naturally. Botan didn't know what she was doing for a moment because of the naturalness of the movement, and she screamed in shock. Then, she tried to move away from her... but she fell down due to the effect of the still continuous binding technique.
 "Hahaha, well, I'd better go to bed now, staying up late is bad for my skin. You should be careful, too. Don't be too careless just because you're young."
 "Shut up, you noisy monster!"
 The girl with teary eyes and affected by curses give a hateful look at the demon who walks away with a merry smile on her face.
 ...It is another story that the bear who tried to wake up but Botan out of anger kicked it with her heels and made it teary-eyed.
* * *
 "......Well, well, this taste is quite nostalgic again. Hey, hey, is that person still alive?"
 Aoko licks her lips glossily with her red tongue and murmurs as she walks down the corridor with shelves full of books.
 "This peculiar sour taste and the persistent sweetness that makes me want to recline... it's a terrible curse. Five, or maybe six years ago? That guy still has a bad character. It's a far cry from my forgiving, kind-hearted, honest self."
 The demon analyzes the curse on the girl from the taste of sweat she licks off. While analyzing it, she utters some nonsense that would make anyone frown if they heard it.
 "Well, this is not so bad for a plot. I'm sorry to say this, but... it could be used as material for my plan to create a hero."
 Kukuku~ the demon laughed. In her mind's eye, she sees the image of youkai, one of the "Four Disasters" who have been officially defeated, but whose personality is more twisted and vicious than any of the others...

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