Tuesday, April 4, 2023 @

Chapter 74, Part 1

 The action was swift. After sending off two Shikigami for reporting, including one in reserve, I hurriedly returned to the village while escorting the main character and Kayo. By the time I returned, armed mercenaries and men from the trading company, as well as servants from the Kizuki family, who had been informed of my return, were already at work guarding and protecting the village, centering on the residence of the Hotaruya family. For the time being, I handed Chidori, which I had been carrying, to Mikage who came running towards me.
 "Miss Kayo, you should go to the house with your attendant. As for Miss Hotaruya, you too, please go to your family house with the guard."
 Passing through the gate of the house, I handed Kayo and the boy over the men from the trading company, and then urged the main character and her maid to evacuate as well.
 "There's no 'but' about it!! Please put your own safety first!!"
 I reprimand the main character who tries to stay there somehow, and force her to stay with the servants of the Hotaruya family. If she dies here, it would be troublesome...!!
 "Miss, please calm down. Let's just follow the instructions for now."
 The maid Suzune restrains the main character from clinging further. She whispered something into the main character's ear and from the mysterious look on her face, the main character finally nodded her head repeatedly to follow her suggestion. It seemed more like she was trying to convince herself rather than being truly convinced.
 I was curious about what they were talking about... but unfortunately, I had no time to pay attention to it in the midst of the bustle and the lack of time. My position did not allow it.
 Therefore, once I had completed protecting the escort target, I hurriedly turned around and returned to the front yard of the house. Amidst the many people moving around, I found a particularly fat figure and headed toward him, kneeling down in front of him.
 "I am a member of the servant. I have just finished escorting the members of the Tachibana and Hotaruya families who were under our protection."
 "Very well."
 Uemon said arrogantly and condescendingly, as he sat heavily on the low table, arms crossed.
 "You did well for someone of your station. Even if you're only a servant, it would be a big problem if anything happened to the two of them while they were under our protection."
 Uemon snorted and looked towards his retainer. The retainer nodded and asked me.
 "We have received the beast hair in question from the shikigami that you sent ahead. It must have come from one of your men?"
 "Yes. I asked my subordinate about it and he said that he grabbed it as soon as he saw the attack."
 I had heard about it from Chidori while evacuating in advance. He said that he sensed the presence of something during his patrol, but was attacked from behind while searching for the presence. He said that he immediately extended his hand and grabbed the attacker, but his hand was shaken off. However, it seems that the fur of the beast remained on his palm at that time.
 "I see... We examined it and it was indeed enveloped in fresh youkai energy. It seems that youkai have infiltrated this village."
 With a frown on his face, the retainer reports to Uemon. I feel nervous inwardly. This situation may be a little troublesome.
 "Hmph, perhaps there was a tear in the boundary after all."
 "However, it was fortunate that it happened while we were staying here."
 "Don't be so optimistic... We might be considered as the ones who attracted it."
 At the retainer's words, Uemon whispers in a hushed voice this time. His expression is grim.
 Exorcists also have spiritual powers that greatly attract youkai. Moreover, the presence of servants and even hidden groups is also another reason... Because of this, common people are both in awe of and disdainful on them. For Uemon, he couldn't afford to make a mistake here for the sake of Kizuki's honor.
 "So, shall we go hunting in the mountains?"
 "We also need to investigate the boundaries as soon as possible. Shall we start now?"
 Uemon, along with Kizuki Keiharu, the bald-headed head of the Rikyushu (Research group) who belonged to the Eastern Strike Force, and Kibihagi Kage, a young retainer, each voiced their opinions. Uemon stroked his chin in response to their opinions and thought about them for a moment.
 "No, let's put off mountain hunting for now. First, we need to fix the boundary. We must not forget why we are here. We can't release youkai into the wild, nor let other youkai into this village."
 Originally, the reason why we came to this village was because we were asked by the local government to take down the youkai who were destroying the city roads. Therefore, it is not allowed to release the youkai that has entered this village, whether it is the same youkai or not, again. At the same time, we also cannot allow youkai that have entered this village to be left unattended. So, it would be better to fix the boundary and take away the youkai's escape route, and then hunt them down by cornering them with mountain hunting.
 "Besides I must speak with the members of the Hotaruya families and Tachibana families as well. I do not want any unnecessary misunderstandings."
 With these words, Uemon ordered Kizuki Keiharu, a member of his family, to watch over the city road and the surrounding area. The masked old man, who was once the younger brother of the previous head of the family and Uemon's uncle, nodded respectfully and agreed to carry out the order. In truth, however, he was the most experienced of all those who had joined the Eastern Strike Force when it came to the extermination of youkai, and he was certainly the most qualified for the job.
 "Kibi, you are in charge of checking the boundary. As for me, I will protect this house."
 Uemon declares arrogantly, but he cannot be accused of simply being a coward. Not only does he have to protect the members of the Hotaruya family and Tachibana families, but he also has to explain and negotiate with both families as the leader of the strike team.
 Above all, if he strengthened himself, Uemon possessed physical abilities that were beyond comparison with the remaining two. If anything should happen, Uemon would be the one to come to the rescue quickly.
 "Hmm... Just in time. With all this commotion, you're going to work for me, aren't you?"
 Although I was inwardly confused by the change in the situation, could not go against Uemon's words and replied respectfully. I did not ask him about the contents of the meeting. After all, I had no right to refuse.
 "You are quite capable of answering, aren't you? Hmm?... Well, fine. Then I command you. You, on the other hand..."
 And with a hint of sarcasm, Uemon gave me the order...
 "Following those circumstances, I have come here at the behest of Lord Uemon."
 "Huh...? Oh, I see... that's right. I understand now."
 The TS main character, who seemed lost in thought, replied as if she had finally regained consciousness.
 On the night of the investigation of the boundary and the attack, I officially knelt in front of the Hotaruya's young lady in her private room as an escort sent by the Kizuki family to protect her.
 Uemon's order was, from his point of view, a natural one. Although Uemon was guarding the house, he needed a substitute to come to his rescue if necessary. And since there were no more exorcists available, it was only natural that I, a Yun-shoku of the servants, should be the next best candidate, albeit of a much lower quality.
 If anything, my acquaintance with the main character and Kayo helped me to do so. However, regarding the main character... unfortunately, only a few people knew about my first encounter with Tamaki, and Uemon apparently only recognized that I was protected by her after I collapsed. This is the reason why this kind of personnel arrangement was made in a sense disrespectful.
 ...Well, I don't intend to correct that. After all, the moment I told Uemon the truth, my head will be cut off by his hand.
 "You're the escort...!? What are those Kizuki people thinking...!!?"
 The first one to express her anger at my offer was Suzune, the maid standing by the curtain. She glared at me with obvious disgust.
 "Suzune, stop it. It's rude to the one who came to be my escort."
 Tamaki hurriedly scolded Suzune's verbal abuse. Then she looks at me.
 "I'm sorry? She didn't mean to be rude. It's just that Suzune is concerned about me. I hope you don't mind too much."
 "Okay. So, what's your answer?"
 "Since you're coming to me, you must have talked to my father before, right? What did he say?"
 "He says he'll leave it to your decision, Miss."
 If I think about it rightly, Yoshinori's decision is also quite crazy in this world.
 For exorcist families where the excessive amount of spiritual power is more important than gender, it's one thing, but in other classes, the values of male superiority and female inferiority are deeply rooted. To think that a family head would respect his daughter's decision... especially since it was a lowly man who peeped at his beloved daughter's body, even though it was an accident, it would be normal to be outraged first.
 I mean, it's not natural that I didn't lose my head in the first place.
 "...I don't mind. In fact, it's reassuring, isn't it? Kehiko said you're pretty good at it. I feel safer with someone like that by my side."
 The main character smiles as she said so. Although she seemed a little down, there was no malice in her words.
 "And it seems like you get along well with Kayo-san... The truth is, I grew up in the countryside and have this kind of personality, you know? Kayo-san will be staying here for a while, so I think we'll be spending some time together. At times like that, if I don't have someone like you to help me out...'
 With a wry smile, the young lady of Hotaruya apologetically asks me for help. As a matter of course, I couldn't refuse her request, burdened as I was with a sense of obligation.
 "I understand. Although I don't have deep connections here, I'll do everything I can to assist you in my capacity."
 I bow deeply. There is a short silence... and then Suzune spoke up.
 "...Alright then. You may leave now. As for tonight's guard duty, please stay outside the door from the hour of the ox (1:00 AM to 3:00 AM). Do not come in unless we ask you to... I mean, I will not forgive you for disrespecting our young lady once, let alone twice..."
 Suzune orders me threateningly. Well, the content of the order was reasonable. In fact, it was not normal for a servant to enter the room of a noblewoman and have a conversation with her. It is also appropriate to order me to stand guard from the hour of the ox, which was said to be when the activities of non-human creatures became more active. Suzune's words were well within the bounds of common sense in this world.
 I bowed again, and then I left the room through the sliding door behind me. And as I close the sliding door, I let out a small sigh.
 "This is not good... Has it become difficult for me to intervene?"
 I don't know what caused the current disturbance or what is happening, but the problem is that it has restricted my freedom of action.
 It was especially troublesome that it made it difficult for me to get involved in the boundary inspection work. If it is bad, it could potentially ruin the original youkai attack event from the original story. If that happens, I hope it won't break the flag of the awakening of the original main character...
 (Worst case scenario, do I have to break the boundary myself? No, I don't want to do that...)
 If I turned a blind eye to the broken boundary, it would be one thing, but I didn't want to destroy it myself. In this world, that would be nothing less than aiding and abetting murder. Am I prepared to go that far? Moreover, the victims are innocent, good people of this village.
 As my thoughts reached that point, I suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous and instinctively kneeled down. I pressed my hand to my mouth to suppress the nausea. My whole body shivered and goosebumps rose on my skin. This horrifying sensation, like countless caterpillars crawling around under my skin,as if countless caterpillars were wriggling beneath my skin...!!
 "Tch... Hah! I'm in no position to worry about other people."
 I give a small, cold laugh to stifle the fear and anxiety inside me. Come to think of it, when was the last time I fed that spider?... And it looks like I'm going to have to feed it again soon. For my sake.
 The pills only superficially suppress my youkai transformation, and it was dangerous to let the spider suck the blood along with the factor. In order to remove all the factors, I needed more blood that can't be compensated for with anemia, and since the spider seemed to expand its belly quickly when it was small, it would have to grow up to a certain extent before it could feed on all the factors completely. But by the time the spider can eat up all the factors in me, it will probably have grown to the point that I can't handle it anymore. Hahaha, I'm completely cornered.
 "I can't keep this up."

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