Friday, February 17, 2023 @

Chapter 58, Part 1

Revision : bee shikigami => hummingbird shikigami

 I was running. I was running through a dark, poorly foothold cave. I didn't even think about the risk of falling. Because I had no time for that. After all, there were countless monsters chasing me from behind. Chasing for my life.
 "D*mn, I should have asked for the magatama back...!"
 I regret it now after remembering that I had left it in that Hasuka (Renge) girl. Thinking about it, if Kitsuri-Shiroki (IN Gorilla-sama) was by their side, it might not have been a problem if I had asked her to return the magatama. But it's really too late now.
 Now, as I move deeper and deeper into the den of the monsters, I hide in the shadows, gasping for breath and looking behind me to see if I've dispersed my pursuers. And it was. But was it because of my repeated attempts to deceive and conceal myself? No sign of them approaching from behind.
 "Did I do it...? Oh, wait. This flag (event) is..."
 Before I could realize my blunder and say so, a giant spider entered from the side road right next to me, blocking my path. It was probably the one that had been chasing me from behind just a moment ago.
 "Hahaha, what a smart guy. You're anticipating it...?"
 I spit out, and the spider stares at me with its red, suspiciously glowing eyes. At the same time, it spits out a shower of wire-like threads. No, actually, it is a special kind of thread that gains the hardness of steel instantly upon contact with the air, and if I am hit by it head-on, I would be skewered and turned into a human sea urchin in no time at all.
 I just barely avoided the shower of threads by spinning myself around, and then I slid through the gap between its legs in a single leap. Using this momentum, I cut down two baby spiders that appeared in front of me with my Dagger (tantō) and sprinted forward again without looking aside.
 Now, I proceeded deeper into the cave, but the number of monsters blocking my way was clearly increasing at an accelerating pace. This formation of monsters, even though a considerable number of forces should have been allocated to the upper level of the cave... I wonder how long these monsters have been gathering forces, youkai are still magnificent as ever.
 '...!? Servant, stop now!!'
 "Whoa!? Is this another wire trap...!!"
 I stop just in time to hear a voice in my ear. In front of me was an extremely thin thread that glinted slightly as it passed right through my neck. If I continued, my neck and torso were going to part with each other.
 'Snap, snap, snap!!'
 "...!? The heck!"
 It must have been lurking in advance as an ambush, and just after I stopped, a spider as big as a dog jumped in from the ceiling, but I hit it sideways in the direction of the wire trap and knocked it away.
 The spider, whose body was cut in half the moment it collided with the wire trap aiming at its neck, was hit and cut by several more threads one after another, and by the time it hit the ground ten steps ahead, it had turned into a dice steak of around twenty pieces.
 'Snap, snap, snap!!'
 "D*mn, there's a group behind me!"
 Behind me, of course, a swarm of spider youkai monsters appears one after another, surrounding me from holes here and there. They threaten me by snapping their chelicerae.
 'They surround you where the trap has stopped you, huh? Like other traps, these creatures are very clever for lowly creatures.'
 "This is no time for evaluation. It's impossible to fight against this number, okay? Is there a gap where I can get through?"
 Among the spiders that appeared, there were even a few that were as big as great youkai. The total number of spiders might reach three digits, too much for me to handle alone.
 '...Unfortunately, unlike the previous ones, there doesn't seem to be a gap. Ah, that makes sense. So the previous openings were decoys to get you here.'
 "Easy to get in but hard to get out? It's standard in fish and beast traps... So, I'm the prey?"
 Of course, the exorcists can force their way through the trap, even if the servants can't—Huh!?
 A spider the size of a human leaps toward me and makes me fall. I couldn't evade or retreat because the spider's threads were everywhere. As I fell, I got into a scuffle with the spider that tried to bite my face off. Damn, your legs (pedipals) hurt! And stop drooling, you filthy...!!
 'Be careful. The rest will come too.'
 The shikigami says so, and I glance over to see spiders swarming all around me. By the time I count to ten, my whole body will be crushed by their chelicerae. To tell the truth, I'm in desperate straits...
 "Hey, I don't intend to die here...!"
 I spit out, holding one hand down on the face of the spider as it presses down on me, baring its sharp fangs and trying to bite me. But I throw a Dagger (tantō). ...straight up.
 'Servant, what are you doing...?'
 "Beware of impact!!!"
 I shouted a warning before I could accuse Botan of my foolish action of throwing the weapon in the direction away from the enemy. Simultaneously, I climbed onto the spider and hugged it as it attacked me.
 In the next moment, my dagger (tantō), which was thrown through the gap between the countless spiders that were trying to jump on me, severed one of the spider threads that had become a wire trap with its sharp blade. And a moment later, a violent shock and a torrent of the blast hit the surroundings.
 The spiders had no time to be surprised when the walls and rocks on both sides of the cave exploded. Because the explosion severed the threads that had been stretched here and there in a chain reaction, which further served as a detonator, turning the whole cave into a killing field with explosions and debris. It is, of course, the spiders that are massacred.
 After the chain of explosions, which lasted for about a couple of minutes, the lengthy cave was filled with the corpses of spiders and youkai monsters that had been torn apart by the debris and burned by the blasts. Then a strange silence, as if after a storm, filled the cave for a while...
 "...Well, it looks like I've managed to kill them all together..."
 I muttered as I got up from the pile of countless dead spider youkai monsters and threw away the corpse of the one I had used as a pillow and a shield.
 Trapped in a trap, unable to move forward or backward, and surrounded by youkai, my choice was in a sense a simple and reversible one. That is, I used youkai themselves as a shield against the trap.
 The way to do it is simple. When the spiders attacked me to kill me, I cut the threads of the spiders and invoked the explosion trap.
 The explosion trap itself was originally designed to kill an individual caught in a trap or to exterminate a group of enemies, but... now, the spiders swarming around the trap are literally annihilated by the trap.
 'The idea of using the monsters as a shield is quite astonishing. But well, I had considered that idea, but one wrong move and you would have been devoured or turned into minced meat, wouldn't you? And besides, I didn't you think of the danger of the collapse?'
 Botan's shikigami declares grimly as I crawl out from between the piles of spider corpses. She was pointing out the danger of what I had done.
 "At least there's no danger of collapse. If what you're saying is true, then maybe these monsters trying to draw the raiding party deeper into the cave? If that's the case, they're not going to let the cave collapse and prevent the party from going any further."
 I answer, throwing off the spider leg that is caught on my shoulder. And seriously... They've set up so many cunning traps. But I'm sure they've calculated that much. I'd like to think so. But, well, it was a gamble, now that I think about it...
 "Anyway, that Dagger (tantō) is... oh, here it is. I knew it was solid. Not even a scratch."
 She senses the presence of the pile of corpses and searches for it, and finds the dagger (tantō) that I have just thrown. It was a dagger (tantō) made by Gorilla-sama... But still, there was not even a scratch on this dagger, even though it was thrown to a string that could sever a cheap sword, nor was any part of it damaged by the explosion storm.
 'There's no time, let's move on.'
 "Yeah. But wait... I think... I might be able to use something..."
 The hummingbird shikigami urges me to go on, but I kneel a little on the ground and reach out my hand to it. I looked at it and saw a thin, transparent—
 "Whoa, that was close!?"
 I feel the presence for a moment and swing my dagger (tantō). At the same time, a voice rises, but it seems to have a timidness to it. The woman, or rather, the monster, takes a half step back and moves out of the dagger's range.
 "Hey, hey, it's scary to suddenly raise a sword in front of someone's eyes, isn't it? Can't you say hello a little more calmly?"
 "You're the demon."
 "Oh, that's right..."
 Aoko the Blue Demon laughs openly, not knowing what's so funny. Although I am slightly annoyed by her attitude, I remain vigilant. No, I can't be lazy.
 (If she gets serious, I won't even last ten seconds...)
 The next moment, I could be beaten to a stain before I even know what has happened. So, how can I feel comfortable with someone who can kill me so easily?
 "Hehe, don't look at me so passionately, it makes me feel ashamed, you know?"
 "Are you a maiden...? But then, what do you want? I don't have time for this."
 "Oh, I'm sorry about that. I don't want to get in the way of the order of your favorite. But, here you go."
 With that, the demon throws something at me. I catch it as quickly as I can, but it's a...
 "A spear?"
 It was a spear. A familiar spear.
 "This, I think, is because of the stray exorcist..."
 "A beautiful woman picked up something you dropped. Shouldn't you give her a pat or something?"
 I swing my dagger (tantō) again at the demon, who was close to my ear from the front in an instant. Swish! The demon jumped backward quickly. And she did a backflip in the air for some reason. For some reason, she was playing with me.
 "Hahaha, did I tease you too much? You don't have to be so shy. You're so cute"
 "Hey, is this spear under some kind of a strange curse?"
 I ask the smiling demon. It's a possible story, considering the bad character of demons. They deceive, lie, humiliate, and entrap people.
 "No, no, I hope you trust me on that. I didn't put any harmful curses on it. You can use it."
 "And if I don't?"
 "I'll cry. I'll get mad."
 "You crazy...!"
 I looked at the demon with obvious disdain. I don't know how serious she is, but to prevent this guy from doing something, I have no choice but to use this spear that I can only suspect. When I got it through the Tachibana Trading Company, I was glad that it was a high-quality spear, but now it is a complete bomb. Hey, she didn't really put a curse on anything, did she...?
 "Well, it's just a little leverage and a gift. You should be grateful, right?"
 "Who would do that?"
 The demon replied to my cold reply with a smirk, a smile that still smelled like a lie. And then, before I knew it, the demon slowly disappeared. Now, did she use some kind of hiding art, or was it some kind of illusion or something else? The only thing I know is...
 "D*mn, she's a wretch after all. And seriously... there's more of them."
 A swarm of baby spiders was approaching from the back of the cave, probably attracted by the presence of the demon.
 'I found a side passage. Let's go. You won't be able to fight them in this space against that many.'
 The voice of the shikigami echoed in my ear. I clicked my tongue at the demon's mistake and turned around to follow her guidance...
* * *
 A roar echoes through the cave. It was the roar of a strange, yet hideous beast that could not be described as a tiger, wolf, or raccoon. At the same time, it exhaled a thick poisonous breath, which was too vicious to be released in an enclosed space such as a cave.
 "...!? Everyone, please stand back!"
 Kizuki Ayaka steps in front of the servants and holds up a bow made of sacred wood.
 There are no arrowheads. But it doesn't matter. The next moment, her hand emitted light and an arrow of light was generated.
 It was a mass of spiritual power, which was released with a sound that cuts through the air. The shot was accompanied by a warm light, and a moment later, it neutralized the poisonous atmosphere that was about to spread in the cave, counteracting its source, the youkai energy, with her spiritual power.
 "Ggh...!? Haa... haa..."
 "Lady Ayaka, it's dangerous! Please retreat...!"
 "No! I can't pull out yet...!"
 Ayaka, however, denies the opinion of the servant, who also accepts the leader's position, though her forehead is sweating and she is short of breath, and she looks distressed.
 Now, most of the kappa born from cocoons or hostages have been killed to dust. Although the cause is not known. However, the greatest enemy of all is still alive and well in front of their eyes.
 The calamity youkai, the Tiger Wolf Raccoon (kourouri)… were almost impossible for the servants to defeat. No bow and arrow, no spear, stone, or even gun could pierce the hard skin of the monster in front of them. And when it came to close combat, it was nothing short of suicide.
 With almost no means of attack, the servants could only retreat. Then, as if they had been aiming at them, new spiders appeared from the hidden passageway that they had been saving without using. Although the spiders themselves are only a small youkai level at best due to the size of the passage, they are the most troublesome when considering the calamity youkai that is approaching.
 Now, Ayaka was helping to stall such calamity youkai. She herself had limited means of attack, but she was a great help to the servants even if she had only been able to annihilate the spiders with arrows composed of spiritual energy. If not for her, the servants would have been devastated long ago.
 Certainly, Ayaka's presence is significant. But it is not decisive.
 How many times has she shot the arrow of spiritual energy? Ayaka's spiritual power had already been drained to a great extent. But she was not allowed to retreat. It would cost a great deal to the servants.
 At this point, neither Ayaka nor the servants are aware of the fact that the white fox half-youkai girl has suddenly disappeared. That is how confused and chaotic the situation is at this point.
 "Haa... haa... It's my fault that we fell into the trap. I should at least clean up my own mess. I can't allow myself to run away here!"
 Ayaka spins her words while running out of breath. Her earnestness and goodness were evident in her words alone. This was a virtue for an individual.
 However, that does not change the reality that the inclination toward despair is increasing.
 The Tiger Wolf Raccoon (kourouri) also seems to have realized that the exorcists in front of it are getting tired, and enters into the final push. In its balloon-like belly, it transforms its youkai energy into a powerful poison, and further concentrates it. The next moment, its head was split in four, and it exhaled a breath of poison thicker than ever before.
 Tiger Wolf Raccoon also knew that itself had been designated as a top-priority target for elimination by the exorcists. Therefore, this monster wanted to destroy the exorcists and their powerful servants in front of it before reinforcements could arrive. In other words, this poisoned breath was its trump card to make sure they were eliminated.

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