Monday, February 6, 2023 @

Chapter 53, Part 2

Revision : bee => hummingbird

 She leaped with a chill. The leap was like a walk in the sky. At the same time, the shikigami deployed between the servants and youkai.
 "!? Huh... Madam Kochou!?"
 "You seem to be doing better than I expected. Who's in charge here?"
 Suddenly, a figure lands right above the people in the middle of the camp, and the servants nearby raise their weapons, but they soon realize who the figure is and become upset. Kochou asks them a question.
 "I-It's me, Madam. This is the Asagiri team, and I am the leader of the Asagiri team. I have been appointed as the second in command of the group for the recent battle."
 A servant with an old man's face answers indifferently. Kizuki Kochou mutters and looks at the girl who has blended in with the black-clad group.
 "That little whitey over there, come over here."
 She orders, holding a fan at the half-youkai girl who had been cowering in the middle of the camp. The girl herself was confused by the fact that she had been called.
 "I command you again. Come here."
 The white fox girl responds to the slightly more forceful command with a shudder. But Kochou does not change her expression as the girl rushes to her, but inwardly she asks with impatience.
 "This place, there, I think, is Yun-shoku's tent, isn't it? ...Where is the Yun-shoku?"
 When Kochou asked her, the white fox girl blushed as if she remembered something, but she hurriedly held her gaze when she noticed the urgent look from Kochou.
 "I, uh... I don't know that...!"
 "You don't know?"
 "Y-yes... well...Tomobe-san, no, Yun-shoku left the tent and he's looking for a caretaker and to bring him all back later....!!"
 Shiro answered in fear. This was why the servants stayed with her. The boy had summoned them, and the attack had come when they were more gathered, and they were supposed to just sit there and intercept.
 Kizuki Kochou was biting her teeth as she tried to share her vision with the shikigami. The reason was that the connection with the shikigami attached to the servant had been severed. That meant that something had happened to him...
 "That's not good... Huh!!?"
 Kochou realized its presence the next moment as she was about to curse her search for something she had a bad premonition about. A huge spider monster, completely ignoring the attacks of the exorcists and the servants on the way, comes running toward her, gouging out the ground.
 "It's coming this way!!"
 The servants hurriedly responded with bows and arrows, sling stones, and spears. Kochou's shikigami also rushed to intercept the rush. But...
 "No, it's bad! It won't stop!"
 Undeterred by all these attacks, the Giant Spider continued onward. It opens its chelicerae to reveal its fangs, which grow in a messy, saw-like pattern.
 "...Spread out!! Evade!!"
 The temporary commander, a servant named Asagiri, ordered. It was the best order. If it had been another servant with a rigid mind, he would have insisted on defending himself to death and would have been overrun. However, that does not necessarily mean that the result was good.
 The spider charged at the scattered servants with arrows and throwing stones. One of the servants who failed to escape was hit head-on by the spider and blown away. Another was crushed by the spider's foot. A sound like a man crushing an insect is heard.
 "Shiro-dono, I'm sorry!"
 One of the servants who were nearby quickly avoided the situation by holding Shiro in his arms. If he had not done so, the fox girl would have been crushed by the spider.
 "...!? You bast*rd...!!"
 Quickly, she deployed the Egret's shikigami and made it hold her shoulder to avoid the spider's rush with just a hair's breadth of her hand. Then, she waved her fan in a vexed manner. The slash of the wind would have easily cut it off if it had been a medium youkai, but it was all caught in front of the spider's body hair.
 "Tsk, as I thought, this is still not enough...!"
 It was the next moment when she clucked her tongue at the fact that her attack was almost ineffective. A spider changes its direction halfway forcibly. It turned its head toward her. A spider that had clearly set its target and was staring at her at close range. Its emotion-unreadable eyeballs reflected its own reflection. It had an upset expression on its face because.... it was so unexpected.
 "What... Aaah!?"
 It is understandable that youkai would target exorcists with spiritual power. But there are plenty of exorcists in this place. So why is the spider so clearly aiming at her, whose spiritual power is being depleted...? But she could not think of anything else. Because the next moment the spider's arm was slamming into her.
 "Ggh!? This much...!?"
 But she tried to fight back immediately, to no avail. A moment later, her vision was filled with spider silk.
 She could not avoid it in the air and with her right arm bruised. Her whole body was entangled in the threads. The threads, smooth as silk, elastic as rubber, and yet as strong as iron, were made by youkai's power, and she had no chance to resist them.
 "Ah...!? No way... that's...!!?"
 In a flash, she was bound all over. At the same time, she is more upset than ever. It was because she remembered an old memory. Yes, that day, that time...!!!
 "N-no... this thing... this kind of thing!? Ggh!!!"
 With a trembling voice, Kochou tried to scream with a terrified voice, but she could not do so. A stabbing pain runs down her neck. It was a poison needle. A quick-acting poison that takes away consciousness...
 "Ah... no... don't... no..."
 Her consciousness rapidly faded and became cloudy, her vision sinking into darkness. The last thing that crosses her mind is the image of her beloved in her hazy black-and-white memory...
* * *
 It was warm. It was small and dark but certainly filled with gentle warmth.
 The boy sleeps involuntarily in the warmth. For him, such sleep was too rare, and waking up means facing the horrifying and unholy reality.
 He remembers the nauseatingly strong sweet smell of incense and the sticky stale smell that could not be disguised, the smell that he has smelled most since he woke up, and the sickening feeling of sweat that seems to have been kneaded into his whole body. No, that would be better. In the morning sunlight, the boy was unhappy with what he had done last night, and once again he started and even ended things unilaterally.
 Therefore, this feeling was fresh and kind of reassuring for the boy. The smell of sweat was not unpleasant. This was because, in contrast to the monks who seldom sweat, the boy was sweating regularly and had not accumulated any waste. The hand that held him was firm and not in good shape, but the hard work of its owner was evident just by touching it.
 Above all, the fact that he did not feel any sense of evil or desire from the person who embraced him was the most reassuring thing for him. The boy, who had been touched by many malicious and lustful hands, could vaguely understand the feelings of the other person toward him just by being touched. And the boy sensed that the touch that was now holding him was with the will to protect him. The arms, the presence would not harm him. Somehow he is sure of that.
 And so the boy surrenders himself to it, safe and secure. He lets himself slide against it, buries his face in it, and fills it with his scent.
 But the boy's consciousness quickly refuses to allow him to fall asleep again. His instincts strongly tell him that he should not sleep here. Why not? Is there no better place to get a good night's sleep? No, no. He shouldn't sleep here. Do not sleep here even if it's a good night's sleep. Because everything will be too late.
 Too late...? What is too late? ...and why is he sleeping? What was he doing just before this good night's sleep? Where is this place? Who's holding him? Whom... yes, whom was he trying to save...?
 Shirowakamaru's eyes widened in surprise. His blurred vision became clearer, and he realized his situation as if only now.
 A dimly lit closed space... he guessed where it was from his memory of just before he lost consciousness. He also finds out the true nature of this warm feeling that is closely connected to him.
 At the same time, the boy's face turns red with shame and he grits his teeth in disgust. He was frustrated that he felt comfortable and secure with this touch.
 ...Disgust? To whom is it, to him? Or...
 '...You there, are you awake?'
 "Huh~!? Who...!!?"
 Shirowakamaru's thoughts were interrupted by the sudden sound of a disorganized girl's voice in the blackness of the closed space. He was upset, and then he shouted. He looked around, unable to move, but all he could see was darkness.
 'Don't worry about that. More importantly, are you aware of what's going on?'
 He heard something move as if it was being pushed away from him inside the narrow room, and then a voice rang out in his ear. Is this... a hummingbird?
 "Is this... inside a cocoon?"
 The boy muttered, recalling the memory of just before he woke up here, the horrifying memory of being swarmed by countless spider monsters and entangled in their sticky threads.
 'You are right. You were trapped in a cocoon by those spider monsters.'
 He understood. He remembers. In that horrible forest, surrounded by countless spiders, with nowhere to run, the boy was just hanging on. He knew it was pointless, he knew it was a bad move, but he still didn't want to leave, he was afraid to leave...
 "...!! D*mn, this... it's too hard... it won't break!!"
 Realizing his feelings, the boy tries to break through the cocoon as if to shake them off. He pushes, pulls, and tries to scratch it. But the cocoon does not break.
 It was a strange feeling. Was it dry? The cocoon, which was crumbly like a straw, seemed to be elastic, absorbing the shock, and stretchable, and did not seem to be able to be broken through in any way.
 'It was a string that 'youkai' had spit out. It can't be torn that easily, okay?'
 "This is no time to be so carefree! Hey...! The spider is wrapping us in threads! That means we're going to be eaten!"
 The boy knew well the scene of spiders entangling their prey with threads. Since it was forbidden to kill in temples and shrines, the boy had seen the spider many times casting its net in the corner of the temple. The boy inwardly loathed and feared at the same time that the spider was playing with the trapped, pitifully struggling prey. The sight seemed to him as if it were his own.
 'I know. So let's cut it open quickly. I have a way. Find the hand of the servant trapped with you. Dagger (tantō) should be there.'
 "Dagger (tantō)......? Huh!!!!"
 The boy's expression turns doubtful for a moment, and then he remembers that he had it in his hand. The boy reaches for it in a hurry. But...
 The boy feels pain in his arm, probably because he searched for it in a hurry in the dark. It wasn't in its scabbard, come to think of it.
 "Ugh... D*mn it!"
 The boy grunted and grabbed the handle of the small knife (kogatana). He grabbed it over the owner's hand. The hand was stumpy, thick, and hard. The hand gripped the small knife (kogatana) firmly.
 'Please remove it forcibly. The servant there is paralyzed by the poison, and his consciousness is still vague.'
 "Ah. I understand. I'm sorry... but can I borrow it?"

Please bookmark this series and rate ☆☆☆☆☆ on here!
Donate me