Tuesday, February 21, 2023 @

Chapter 60, Part 3

 "!? It's coming...!!!?"
 The mole, perhaps growing weary of my inaction, begins to move. It stretched out dozens of tentacles and came at me from above as well as below, from both sides in a geometrical motion. It was a simultaneous attack from multiple directions. As I thought, this guy is surprisingly intelligent, since it has been modified...!!
 "Is there a way out...? D*mn it!!"
 I find a direction where the approaching tentacles are relatively few, and I start running frantically in that direction. I dodge the tentacles that come at me, just in time to avoid them, and then I swing my spider threads to clear the tentacles from behind me as they come at me from behind. The whip has a large gap when you wield it. Therefore, I needed to swing it as efficiently as possible if I use it.
 As I dodged the tentacles that attacked me one after another, or as I sliced through them, I was hit by a huge claw strike. The swing was blunt, but heavy and powerful, and did not cut through my body, but instead gouged out the ground in front of me.
 "It's not dirt...! It's a rock!!?"
 The rock was gouged out by the claw and broken into small pieces, and scattered as it was. And it's right in front of me! The total weight of the debris must have been several hundred tons. Is it a power shovel!? It was fast enough to hit me, and if it hit me with even a single piece of rock, it would take away all the flesh around me.
 'Boy, are you alright?'
 A woman's voice whispered right next to my ear, and my body was moving before I could even think about what it was. I dive to the right side, sliding down low.
 A rock the size of a clenched fist came flying into me, grazed my cheek, and took the Hannya mask I was wearing with it. I was lucky. Without the mask, I would have lost my whole cheek.
 However, I made the right decision to dive into the right side of the rock as soon as I could. The blown debris and dust hid me from the mole. Seizing this opportunity, I ran straight ahead.
 "And this is a bonus!!"
 At the same time, I kicked a piece of debris up as I sprinted, and it hit the left eye of the mole. Thanks to the dust, the mole didn't seem to notice the hit until just before it happened, making it a complete surprise attack. Now, this monster grunts and clutches its left eye as sharp debris flies in like an arrow from the dust. Okay, there's an opening...!
 "Okay, with this... Huh!?"
 Just as I was about to close in on the mole, something pierced through the rock under my feet and shot out. A moment later I realize that it is several tentacles. The red strands of flesh that had come out of the rock danced and tangled around my ankles.
 "Oh, d*am, you've got to be kidding me!!?"
 This guy's tentacles can reach out from the ground!? And digging through the rocks!?
 That was some kind of blind spot. Although it was an assumption. I hadn't expected it, since it hadn't shown any sign of such a thing. But looking back, I suppose it was a trap. It led me to believe that the tentacles could not come out of the ground, and used them at the most effective moment. It was a terrible thing, typical of the modified youkai made by '鵺 (Nue)'.
 The mole with its left eye suppressed stared at me with a roar of anger. That's not good...!
 "Not ggodhh, I need to get out of here...!!?"
 I quickly try to swing my spider threads to cut off the tentacles beneath my feet, but it's no use. Tentacles appeared from everywhere, seizing my limbs, neck, and joints and entangling them. A crackling, popping sound echoed from the surroundings. It was the sound of static electricity. And it was only a prelude...
 I struggled to get out, but right after I did, several tentacles pierced me like spears. Aimed at my internal organs, of all things. Making me vomit blood. But even that was not its true mission.
 A moment later, the high-voltage current emitted from the tentacles burned me from both inside and outside. The pain and shock running through my body were so intense that I was unable to resist, and I immediately lost consciousness...
* * *
 "Noo!! This can't be happening!!? This is... this is... this can't be!!? Noooo!!!??"
 And time returns. The trapped adviser/representative of the Kizuki family was half-crazed by the devastation before her. It was natural because that person, that child who looked like the exact replica of that person, had been left in front of her, charred and burnt to a crisp.
 No, on the contrary... the millennium mole, who had caught such a nearly charred boy with its tentacles, slammed him repeatedly on the ground and walls. It was like a child throwing a tantrum and playing with a doll: a relentless, careless, crude, and violent act...
 "Well, well, it was surprisingly disappointing, wasn't it? I thought it would have a little more grit since he survived the fox and the earth mother goddess and is favored by the blue demon.... but to be honest, it's disappointing."
 Then, struggling with tears, Kochou finally realizes its presence. She was caught by the tentacles and moved only her head, but what she saw was a rag-clad shadow without arms.
 "You, are..."
 "It's a first time to meet you, Kizuki's Advisor. I'm the owner of the mole, and I've been having a playmate from a well-tanned servant of yours... Oh, oops..."
 A moment later, using what little spiritual power she has left to strengthen her right arm, Kochou cuts through the tentacles and swings her sword down at the shadow. The shadow, however, just avoided it and passed through the void. And then...
 "Ah! Ugh, guh......!!!?"
 Kochou screams as a piercing pain runs through her body. The electric current discharged from the tentacles was low in power, but it was aimed precisely at her nerves, at her sense of pain.
 "Well, well, it's a scary thing that you suddenly cut off my head. Couldn't you at least say hello to me?"
 "You, you bast*rd... How dare you...!"
 But that's all there was to it. Her spiritual power was reduced and her nerves were paralyzed by the electric shocks from the tentacles, so there was nothing she could do, so it was just an empty, detailed threat. It was a pathetic resistance, like a rat's frantic, toothy mewing at a cat that has caught it...
 And the shadow knew it well. He smiled scornfully at Kochoy's attitude, glanced for a moment at the great monster war still going on behind him, and cowered his shoulders. Then he declared.
 "Well, since the time is running out, let's finish this job."
 As if in response to the shadow's words, the tentacles of the millennial mole grabbed Kochou and carried it toward the jade pillar. Then, several large cockroach-like insects youkai monsters jumped out from the rags of the shadow and climbed up her body.
 "It's a breed that I improved for surgery. It has a very dexterous tongue, so it's very useful."
 As soon as he said this, they reached Kochou's neck and opened their mouths wide. Blades and scissor-shaped tongues emerged from their mouths. It was clearly not a structure intended for feeding.
 '鵺 (Nue)'s latest creation, the surgical youkai insects... Now, they dripped mucus from their mouths, dripping onto the white skin of the old exorcists. The strangely cool saliva was also a local anesthetic to numb the sense of pain and prevent the subject from dying of shock during the surgery.
 "Huh!? N-no..."
 Kochou muttered in fear. She knew what was about to happen. It was a fundamental rejection of death as a human being.
 No, it was not only that. Her despair was also due in part to her own powerlessness. She thought she had drunk the bitter pains of life. She had experienced much unreason, humiliation, and pain, and she should have made the most of them.
 And that is why, this time, she wanted to protect that boy who is the exact replica of that person, and she was confident enough to show him that she could do it. After all, she thought she was no longer the helpless, naive, and stupid little girl who could not protect or do anything that day. This time she was going to protect what she wanted to protect.
 But now what? She can't say anything about her granddaughters now. It's like that day all over again. It's a repeat. No, it's worse than that. She can't even protect him, and now she herself is a hostage, a burden, and everything is about to be taken from her before she can do anything.
 Therefore, Kochou despairs. She is confronted with the reality that everything she has done so far is worthless, meaningless, and futile, with her own demise looming ahead. A future in which everything will be taken from her.
 "It can't be like this... No, no... this is... this is..."
 "Hmm. There's no built-in self-destruct formula... Well, just do it."
 She trembles with fear, despair, and helplessness, but the shadow gives his orders without emotion. His only concern was the availability of the self-destruct curse used by the exorcists during the Great War for self-destruction and taking others. The exorcist from Hasuka (Renge) family was the same, but it was now forbidden by the Imperial Court and had been lost. The times have become so lax that people do not take measures to protect themselves in case they are captured.
 Then, the sharp tongues of the insects, who have been ordered to do so, come close to her section. First they stroke the surface. Then they grasped the location of the spine and spinal cord and tried to stick their needle-like tongues into them... But a moment later, a roar roared in the cave.
 It was not a spider's or a hawk's. Nor was it a mole. If anything, the closest thing to it was a horse.
 For a moment, the roar of the strange creature caused all the beings present to turn their gazes in the direction of the voice. Immediately after, a sharp sound reverberated through the cave, as if something had been shaken and was cutting through the sky. A gust of wind blows. And then...
 "This is a surprise..."
 A moment after he fell to the ground with his severed upper body, '鵺 (Nue)' muttered. It was a murmur of amazement and admiration.
 At the same time, the millennial mole, which had lost its master, immediately extended more than a hundred tentacles from its head at once, aiming them at the source. Each of its high-speed tentacles was charged with a high-voltage current that could kill a human being instantly, and even if it did not, it was powerful enough to pierce through steel plates and even armor. But... all of them had been obliterated by the servant's arm.
 It didn't even touch the tentacles. The shockwave had caused the air blades, the tentacles that were hard enough to penetrate not only rocks but even steel plates, to all but vanish. Understanding this fact, the mole roared in astonishment, but it immediately made its next move.
 The mole repelled the air and released an electric shock. With a flash, a streak of lightning was released. It hit its target instantly and without missing a beat. A blast and dust are generated at the same time. Even the same great youkai would not be able to survive most of these blasts. So, the mole's mouth hangs open, confident of victory.
 But immediately afterward, with a gust of wind, something pierced through the dust. Then the mole feels a blow on its cheek... and is blown away. It spun around and slammed into one of the walls, yanking out the lower half of its body, which was buried under the ground.
 The mole, with one-third of its face smashed in, screams in pain as if its own face is being burned, not knowing what has happened. At the same time, this relatively intelligent youkai barely noticed the anomaly during the intense pain. The woman whom he had entangled with the tentacles on the tip of his nose was nowhere to be found.
 And the hidden eye sewn into the back of its head caught something.
 They were black. The black legs were muscular and strong, bloated. A thin, tail-like tail stretched out, wagging like a whip. His long black hair grew down to his back like a mane. On his head were two antlers like a deer's, and he let out an animal-like roar from his mouth. He breathed out a white breath that was clearly visible with each exhalation.
 A deformed being. That was the only word to describe it. It gave the viewer a sense of distortion, or what might be called a sense of discomfort, as if it were a half-hearted mixture of a human being and a monster as if the change was forcibly stopped in the process of a human being becoming a monster. Spiritual energy, youkai energy, and faint divine energy intertwined with each other, overflowing as if seeping out.
 "Huh? Wh-what is...?"
 And there it was, in the arms of the deformed figure. The woman, who was being held in the arms covered with jet-black scales as if she was being held by a princess, seemed to be unable to fully grasp the situation she was in at the moment, the tentacles were instantly ripped off and scratched away. And the deformity does not wait for his surroundings.
 After all, there is the sound of something crushing in the deformity's arms. When she looked at the source of the sound, she found that the insects that had been clinging to her body had been crushed in the deformity's palm. The iron-like shells of the insects are crushed and crushed, and the convulsing, dripping green bodily fluids of the insects are slammed to the ground as if they were thrown away to the dust.
 "Are you...?"
 Kochou looks up at his face and tries to ask something to the deformity that rescued her, but the deformity ignores her and lowers her to the ground. Unlike the way she had just swatted away the insect, the deformity seemed to be taking care not to injure her.
 Kochou quickly reached out with a trembling hand, but it did not reach her. The deformity fled from her hand, turned around, and turned toward the monster.
 In the next moment, the servant, transformed into a half of the monster, looked up to the sky as if howling and roared like a beast itself...

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