Monday, February 27, 2023 @

Chapter 64, Part 1

Revision : Bee shikigami => Hummingbird Shikigami

 A young boy was standing alone. He stood alone and forlorn in a cold village where snow was falling.
 The boy, whose sealed memories have been arbitrarily opened according to the "contract", stands in front of his family's house that remains in his childhood memories. That's all he can do. He no longer even dares to open the thin, quickly slipping sliding door. With hands clasped around his despair-stricken face, the boy falls to his knees.
 'Truly, poor boy.'
 The voice echoes in the boy's ear. It was sweet, gentle, and reassuring. A voice that is too beautiful and too sweet, like a song that can violate a person's heart...
 'You once said to me, didn't you? That time, when you put the blade in my face, you told me not to tarnish your memory. But are you sure that those memories you hold so dear are real memories?'
 The whispering voice pierces the boy's heart like a formless blade. It makes him feel physiological nausea. Then, with a small smile, she laughs. Her exhalation of warm air tickles the boy's ears.
 'Truly, poor boy. I can see it now. I understand everything about you. How false, how suffering, how sorrowful your life has been. Now I understand. Because I am a part of you.'
 She blurts out in sympathy, in pity, in concern. Her words were clearly made with only good intentions. There was not a shred of malice in them.
 "I... I..."
 'Yes, I know. It must be very sad, isn't it? To be betrayed by something you believed in, to be hurt by something you cared about, to lose something you cared about, that's why you left, isn't it? I understand. Mother understands.'
 She sympathizes with his anguish, with his grief, with his courage, with the fact that he cut himself off, his greatest debt, for the sake of his family. She accompanies and affirms them while hugging him from behind. As if it were natural.
 'Don't worry. Mother is always on your side. I will never, ever, ever turn my back on you.'
 Somehow the place had changed. It was in the house. It was the room where the girl had made her confession. It was the place where the boy had been condemned to despair.
 The boy's appearance also changes. The clothes for the commoners were, on closer inspection, a fine, custom-made item. It was a clear distinction from the rest of the crowd, and it was a sign of the boy's position in the house. The days that seemed to be smooth sailing, the days when he did not have to be afraid of starvation, were shattered by the selfishness of the girl that day. And the boy was made aware of his mistake again.
 'It is not a lowly thing to give in for the sake of living, you know. Since many creatures have a symbiotic relationship and many serve one individual, your choice was not a mistake at all. There is no such thing as a mistake.'
 She strokes the head of the child in her arms. She then caresses the boy who is suffering from the scolding of conscience.
 There is no need to mourn. After all, every living being has the desire for life. It is not something to be ashamed of.
 At some point, the scenery changes. It was in a deep forest. The boy also had grown up. With a tattered black coat and a scarred body. But it doesn't even matter. What mattered most to the boy was the corpse lying before him.
 The boy, who had covered his face with his hands, not wanting to see anything, let go of his hands. Of course, he did. After all, he felt a fresh touch on his bloodstained palm. The warmth was human warmth. The touch was human skin. The sensation was... a person's neck being tightened.
 "No, no... A..."
 The boy's voice is hoarse. He lets out a scream that is not a scream. And then she looks at him with more tenderness and whispers.
 'You admired this person, didn't you? You cherished this person too, didn't you? I understand. It's hard. It is unreasonable. But the law of nature is the law of the jungle. The weak feed on the strong. The weak are exploited. It's an unavoidable principle.'
 This person's death was inevitable. It's inevitable that this person had to be killed. And then, she declares. She defends her beloved child.
 "I'm... I'm...!!!"
 'It's okay, I forgive you. You're forgiven. You did nothing wrong. You had to do what you had to do to survive, after all, right?'
 He tried to deny it, but he could not. He knew it was all a failure of his own immaturity. He was always wrong.
 'Don't worry. Mother will help you. I will give you strength. See, I saved you earlier, as I promised, didn't I? I protected you. So please....'
 "I want you to accept me," she admonishes him. With a gentle, kind voice. To invade. To infiltrate. To corrupt. To engulf his head, his heart, to engulf him. To make him fully 'her child'.
 "Ah... U..."
 The boy is left speechless, overwhelmed by the emotion. He cannot find the words to express the myriad of emotions swirling inside of him. Slowly, the light fades from his eyes, leaving only darkness in its wake. As he sits there, frozen in place, he feels her embrace from behind, her hair reaching out like tendrils to ensnare him. Her smile is warm and reassuring, filled with nothing but the best of intentions. With a sense of calm washing over him, the boy surrenders to the darkness, drifting off like a babe lulled to sleep by a gentle melody.
 "...I hear voices."
 But then, he muttered. It sounded like a voice from a place far, far away. But he knew. It was the voice of a young child. A child calling for help.
 "...little brother?"
 The next moment, he was standing up. With a snap, 'her' hair shredded as if it were a matter of course. It's no wonder, this world is the world of the mind, the world of mental images, the world of his spirit, so it makes sense that all the laws of this world are reserved for him, that they take priority over him.
 "Now, I should go...!"
 The light had returned to his eyes before he knew it, and he rushed out. The woman also rushes to stop him, and touches his shoulder... but her hand ignites.
 'Ah, this is...'
 She is surprised but does not scream as the fire spreads from the tip of her hand to the rest of her body in a flash. This is a dream world, so the pain is just a fleeting illusion. But this fire...
 'It's a nuisance... He's really stubborn. If he loves it so much, why don't all of you be my child together?'
 It's a problem that he doesn't accept her love. However, she is a mother, so she does not get angry about it. A mother's love does not ask for anything in return. She, a piece of youkai mother, sees the back of her child running in the woods. She looks at him with love.
 'It can't be helped. I guess I'm going to have to let you go this time, too. Anyway, it's all right. The mutation has progressed considerably this time.'
 Besides, there's another time to finish it. There is plenty of time and plenty of opportunities, and God is a patient being. She was especially patient and extraordinarily long-winded.
 There is no hurry. The end is already in sight anyway...
 'Well then. ◼️◼️, my child, I'll be watching your success?'
 Burning and scorching like a torch, the mother goddess of the earth saw him off with a smile overflowing with motherly love...
 The long nightmare was awakened by the voice echoing from far away.
 "Eeek!? D-don't come... don't come!"
 It was a scream. A scream of a child, almost in tears. And with that, my clouded and unclear consciousness became clearer little by little, but surely. It was as if I was passing through a deep forest and my vision was opening up.
 "Hmmm... ugh ......?"
 Was it because my clothes were wet with sweat? I felt as if I had just woken up from a long and unpleasant dream, a feeling of weariness like waking up from hibernation overtook my whole body, and my face was distorted. However, the discomfort woke me up completely.
 At the same time, my eyes widened at the presence in front of me. It was a spider. A black with white spots, a spider youkai monster the size of a wolf. Its eight red eyeballs glowed eerily, and its chelicerae snapped menacingly.
 And then I realize. I find myself on the ground, and a boy is holding me in his arms. The boy is waving his fan frantically with tears in his eyes, trying to get rid of the monster in front of him. Now, I understand. I understand everything here.
 The spider leaps at him as if paralyzed. Shirowakamaru, who had never even trained for combat before, could not react to it... but what he did was not to intercept it but to cover his head with his hand, which did not make any sense. And when the spider's fangs were closing in on the boy...
 "I won't let you do it...!"
 My sudden kick to the face, with a steel plate in the sole of my shoe, startled and frightened the spider, partly because it was a surprise attack.
 "Huh...!? B-big bro?"
 "Tsk, that wasn't good enough...!"
 Shirowakamaru was stunned by my sudden presence, but I had nothing to say to him. There was no time for that. The monster in front of me was still alive and well. Of course, youkai can't die just by kicking it in the face when it hasn't been strengthened by spiritual power!
 "Whoa!? Don't come here!!?"
 With fangs bared and claws raised, I desperately kick the approaching small spider. The spider youkai monster roars and swings its claws and fangs every time I kick it. Ouch!? Did it cut my leg a little...!?
 "B-big bro...!!?"
 "Shut up! D*mn, I need weapons... Huh, no weapons!? That's...!?"
 I look around as I repeatedly kick the spider in the face. Then a thought occurs to me. It's on the ground right next to me. A Dagger (tantō) with a cherry blossom pattern engraved on its sheath...!
 Almost as a reflex, I pulled it out of its sheath. It was a sword pull. A single horizontal flash...!
 I guess the spider didn't expect my counterattack. Still, the spider, its two front legs severed and its face wounded, turns its head back as if in a panic. Then I took a step forward to take advantage of the gap. I grit my teeth and endure the intense pain that makes my whole body creak, and thrust the dagger (tantō) into the spider's face.
 The spider with the Dagger (tantō) stuck in its face tries to lash out, but I put my weight on the dagger (tantō), and insert the dagger (tantō) up to the brim to stop it. The spider, which had been twitching and twitching, immediately collapses like a doll with broken strings.
 "Did I do it...?"
 I confirm that the spider I stabbed has certainly died, and check the situation around me as I forcibly pull out the dagger (tantō). Then I click my tongue. At least the situation doesn't look optimistic....!
 "Botan, you are watching, aren't you? Help me...!!!"
 'You don't have to shout, I'm here.'
 I shout to the hummingbird shikigami hiding somewhere, and the girl's discouraged voice echoes from above. The hummingbird lands right in front of me, watching me nonchalantly.
 '...Somehow, your appearance looks human, huh?'
 "...Look, I don't really care what you mean. I need your help, alright? Can you help me out?"
 I frown at the hummingbird shikigami's still indifferent tone and disturbing content, but I ask for help. The shikigami narrows its eyes. It looks at me as if it is looking through me as if it is observing me. Then the person, who uses the shikigami, asks.
 'How far back do you remember?'
 "It's a little fuzzy... but at least I should be able to deal with the monsters, right?"
 To the question of how well I know what's going on, I simply reply so. This is more effective than a lengthy explanation to Matsushige's people. Besides, there was no time.
 '...Okay. I know roughly what you want. You're that boy's babysitter, aren't you? Such an extraordinary talent can't be left unattended.'
 Botan's shikigami looked at Shirowakamaru with an impassive gaze. Shirowakamaru's body trembles at the fact that he is the topic of conversation. Like a frightened person. As for me, I take a glance at the boy and look at the hummingbird shikigami again.
 "There's that too. But first, I want you to do a little trick for me."
 'A little trick, you say?'
 "Yeah, I'm just saying that we should always assume the worst."
 I explain the trick to the shikigami, who ruminates doubtfully. Then I stand up. It was clear that the attack and defense between Gorilla-sama and the spider were getting to the point where we couldn't leave the situation as it was.
 "Well, well, I'd like to end this now... So, shall we?"
 It had been a long series of battles and I think I found myself growing tired of the repetitive cycle. It was time to end it all. With my resolve set, I gripped my tantō tightly, despite my aching muscles, and snuck up behind Tsuchigumo just as she was lunging at the gorilla. And then...
* * *
 "I would have been happy if it had ended with this blow to the brain."
 I look at the head of Tsuchigumo with half of the blade of the Dagger (tantō) stuck into it and laugh. It was the kind of smile I used to have when I was in trouble and couldn't do anything about it. It is natural. The dagger (tantō) pierced through the strong outer shell of Tsuchigumo. But it was entangled in its inner muscle fibers. So, the blade did not reach the spider's brain.
 "...Tsk, I missed, huh?"
 'Of course, you did, you rude b*stard!'
 "D*mn it!"
 Tsuchigumo tries to shake it off, but I cling to her head and pull out the dagger (tantō) with all my might. Tsuchigumo as her green bodily fluid spurts out. The spider seems to be in a lot of pain and goes berserk even more violently.

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