――Who are you?
Tsuchimikado Tsubaki was deceased. Hinata thrust out that fact based on the memory she regained.
The people of Tsuchimikado who were lying on the ground or just woke up from their unconsciousness were dumbfounded.
Especially the son Kiyotake, he was trembling from the chill he felt. He had been calling an unknown woman as his mother all this time.
As though to mock them, the woman’s lips twisted repulsively.
「I don’t know what are you saying. I am the genuine Tsuchimikado Tsubaki you know?」
The shameless remark caused Kiyotake to lose his temper and raised his voice roughly.
「Certainly mother has died. From sickness-, when I was eight years old!」
「That’s horrible Kiyotake. Can’t you see Okaa-san is here?」
「You-!! In the first place even your face is completely different! You also appaeared……t-that’s right! It was just two months ago!」
「There is circumstance about that. I faked my death you see. I also changed my face with plastic surgery. Everything is for the sake of deceiving the true enemy of Tsuchimikado.」
「Yes. I was finally able to return here after spending more than ten years.」
The sound of bell *rin* rang out inside their consciousness. Kiyotake and the other casters of Tsuchimikado clan showed a bit of bewilderment.
「Please listen to me! I――」
The woman tried to vehemently argue that some kind of unavoidable scheme was enclosing around Tsuchimikado clan and everything that happened was necessary in order to avoid that.
But from the way she wasn’t even hiding the insincerity she was sporting on her expression, there was no doubt that she wasn’t seriously trying to get them to believe her.
That must be why.
A cold voice cut off the farce in a single stroke.
In addition the words of power 「――”Restrain”」 was chanted. Right away the woman went 「Uguh!?」 with her breath taken away while her hands automatically moved behind her and stiffened there. And then she fell on the ground like that.
There was no hand to support her. Her jaw collided on the ground as though to pierce it. That figure invited sympathy.
When Kiyotake and others gasped and turned their gaze toward the voice, there was Hinata there with an expression so cold that they wanted to describe it like freezing winter.
Several adults and also Kousuke reflexively went 「Hieh」 and shrunk back from how chilling she looked. Though for some reason, a very small part of the people there turned red while muttering 「Ohii-sama……wow……」……
They were definitely gentlemen who couldn’t help but yelling their overwhelming gratitude when getting stepped on by a little girl with gaze of scorn. They could just be cursed later.
「Who are you, and what is your objective. I can already guess the answer in general though.」
「R-really!? Ah, no, is that true, Ohii-sama?」
Kiyotake unconsciously leaned forward eagerly, but his expression immediately turned awkward when he met Hinata’s gaze and he altered his wording to be more polite.
The other casters were also the same. Due to the dignified bearing of “Ohii-sama”, they slightly regained their footing and looked down from the guilt about what they had done to Hinata and Fujiwara clan immediately tormented them.
There, one more voice joined the scene. It was a trembling voice that was oozing out regret.
「Can I ask to listen to this talk too, Hime-sama?」
They turned around and there, the elderly nobleman was standing with his right arm hanged up using a torn cloth. It seemed the bone of his right arm was broken when he was assaulted by the horse oni. His other body parts were also beaten up. His old body was in a really bad shape.
The one who was lending his shoulder to that elderly nobleman’s left arm was Taisei. Speaking of weakened condition then he should be in the worse condition, and in fact his complexion was like a corpse but……
「Otou-sama! You mustn’t move yet-」
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「There is no way I can just watch even though my daughter is fighting. Well, it looks like things are over already though.」
Hinata’s dignified atmosphere dispersed and her face became the face of a daughter worrying for her father. Taise smiled wryly and said that. In other words, it seemed he was forcing himself because he was worried for his daughter. The elderly nobleman seemed to take advantage of that to also come here.
「Jii-san, where is father!?」
Kiyotake yelled in worry for his father who wasn’t here.
「Don’t worry. He isn’t in a state that will be able to move right away, but his life isn’t in danger. That includes the other people of Tsuchimikado and Fujiwara.」
Kiyotake and others let out a sigh of relieve seeing the gentle atmosphere of the elderly nobleman as though the evil spirit that had been possessing him before this had left.
Taisei glanced at that and separated from the elderly nobleman. He walked toward Hinata even with a bit of stagger in his steps, then he patted her head with his big hand.
「It must be lonely for you to be by yourself right? It was painful right? I’m sorry that I’m such a worthless father.」
「But, as expected from my daughter. For you to solve an incident this serious so magnificently……I’m thankful to you for saving me, Hinata. You are my pride.」
A drop of tear gathered in the corner of Hinata’s eyes and she almost spontaneously leaped on her father’s chest.
But, Hinata seemed to reel back her self as a daughter with much effort. She quietly wiped her tear with her sleeve to tell herself that it still wasn’t time for this.
Taisei looked a bit surprised before he frowned.
The display of impressive self-control that a little girl shouldn’t need to have made him felt, both proud and desolate, he guessed.
Hinata returned back from a daughter who wanted to be spoiled into the strongest onmyou girl. She lightly shook her head and smiled faintly.
「No, Otou-sama. I wasn’t alone. I was being protected the whole time.」
She said that and sent a sidelong glance. The enormous trust dwelling inside that gaze caused two me to jerk.
Kousuke felt a heat in that gaze that was unsuitable for a little girl. Taisei’s instinct as a father drove him into battle readiness.
「I-I see. Then as a Fujiawara I have to show my gratitude. However――」
「It’s none other than Endou-sama who is the benefactor for all of us. Without him, I would surely have……」
「I-I see. Anyway, Hinata. When talking with me, look properly into my eyes. Come on, stop looking at him. Otou-sama never saw you staring with a passionate gaze like――」
「There are, a lot of things that I have to talk about. But, for now let’s take care of the matter here first.」
「No no, don’t be in a hurry like that. By all means, tell me about things like his background, or what happened in detail――」
Otou-sama was looking at his daughter wanting to hear her story! But, the daughter in question ignored him completely.
「Eh, y-you’re calling for me, Hime-sama?」
The gaze of the elderly nobleman moved back and forth between Hinata and Taisei with great speed.
The ignored Taisei turned his neck with a horror tic. His extremely complicated gaze that was a mix of gratitude and sadness and indignation was turned toward Kousuke. His gaze seemed to ask「You, did something happen between my daughter and you? Hey, what happened? The way she is attached to you isn’t normal though!?」.
Of course, Kousuke’s face also snapped away with the same horror tic. He gazed at Fukube who was ahead of his gaze. Fukube was drinking an air stomach medicine while pretending to be unrelated with all his might.
Hinata ignored those men who was breaking the seriousness of the place like that and talked to the elderly nobleman.
「I believe you are aware now but, both the Tsuchimikado clan and the Fujiwara clan are being targeted by a shared enemy.」
I have to pull myself together for a bit here. The elderly nobleman thought while clearing his throat and renewing the serious atmosphere.
「We fell into the jutsu of that woman over there, wasn’t it……」
Pathetic. The elderly nobleman thought as he gritted his teeth.
「Certainly, we have the feeling of wanting to protect the declining name of Tsuchimikado but……」
「That feeling was distorted, amplified, and used.」
「……Even so, for us to carry out such terrifying plan……in addition, to do such horrifying out toward the princess of the true main house……we can’t possibly apologize enough for this. This Tsuchimikado Jounosuke shall receive any punishment that Hime-sama deems fit.」
The elderly nobleman kneeled weakly. He was about to go further and do dogeza, but Hinata shook her head.
「Let’s have a talk between Fujiwara and Tsuchimikado after we finished everything. Elder, right now, no, this is exactly the time for us to combine our strength and face the malice that attempted to disgrace us, isn’t that right?」
「……Indeed. I will follow Hime-sama’s will.」
The elderly nobleman looked toward Hinata as though he saw something dazzling.
The scene of a girl clad in kimono and grace with an elder in hakama kneeling before her looked like a scene of conversation between a princess and her retainer from ancient age.
When Hinata turned her gaze toward Kiyotake and others, they also bowed their head together.
Kousuke glanced at that sight and asked with a small voice toward Taisei who was slowly closing his distance.
「Ummm, is it alright? Aren’t you, Fujiwara’s head of house……」
「Fuh. You’re sorely mistaken if you think that a male of Fujiwara House can win against the female of our house.」
「W-what a pathetic thing to say with such powerful tone……」
「You see Endou-san, father is something like that. House head is just an empty title.」
It was a remark that made him extremely concerned about the internal affairs of Fukube family.
As expected, Hinata ignored the men who were acting like that and faced the woman who was restraining with a binding seal. The atmosphere was as though the people of Tsuchimikado were abiding by her.
Although she had averted her gaze from the woman, it seemed she didn’t avert her focus on her at all. Rather she apparently had spent time purposefully to prepare the jutsu that she was going to use right after this.
「I shall tear off the thing possessing you from there. Please don’t worry. I have slowly made my spiritual power to permeate into you, so your life won’t be torn off together with it.」
Hearing what terrifying thing Hinata said so casually, the woman went 「Nn—h」 and struggled even harder with a whitening expression.
「――Shoyo Onteki Kaishi Tsuzaime (Every Sworn Enemy Complete E)!」
Words of power that shook the air surged out. Hinata’s unshakeable power became a wave of white light that struck the woman.
Right after that, an inhuman, no, a clearly animalistic scream 「Gyahn」 rang out from the woman.
The woman gasped in intense pain and her body arched like a bow. She went from lying face down to arching backward like a shrimp. A beat later, something slowly jutted out from the center of her chest before tumbling out.
「Oo? A cat?」
「It has two tails. Is that what you call Nekomata?」
Kousuke, Fukube, and then Taisei stared in deep interest toward the convulsing white lump even while putting up their guard against it.
It was a white cat with golden eyes and two tails. Its size also wasn’t that different from a normal cat. But, it was vaguely clad in sickly and repulsive aura.
This must be the “possessing existence” in the woman that Hinata saw through.
It was struck by Hinata’s words of power and writhed in agony while curling up.
The woman was also gasping in pain after having such thing forcefully dragged out from her. However, only the glint of her eyes still retained its abnormal sharpness as she glared at Hinata.
The apparition’s possession was powerful because the woman herself accepted it. Tearing it off forcefully from her would also be dangerous for her life. If not for Hinata’s prodigious skill, the woman would have lost her life.
In other words, the agony she was feeling should be tremendous. And yet, even now her glare didn’t weaken at all. That too wasn’t normal.
Hinata, and then Taisei, the elderly nobleman, Kousuke and also Fukube became convinced that the woman was acting under an unshakeable will that shouldered something big that was more than simply a self-interest.
Hinata’s sharp eye glint didn’t waver. She observed the white cat in great detail and muttered 「As I thought」 with a nod of understanding.
「If I recall correctly, when you chanted the spell of steam, you hailed out like this to the target you gave your order to, “Kinkabyou” wasn’t it?」
――Kinkabyou (Gorgeous Golden Cat) Juuon Byouku Grudge and Agonizing Sickness) Kongou Kaijuu (Mixture of All) Kyuukyuu Nyoritsuryou
Kyuukyuu Nyoritsuryou was a command that meant “Carry out the command as though it’s the legal code with great haste”, naturally the words would be meaningless if it didn’t have the designated target and the content of the order included at the very least.
During that battle, Hinata didn’t fail to hear the name of the target that the woman gave the order to.
Kousuke tilted his head and asked in the place of the woman who was only glaring silently.
「Cat of golden coin? Sure its eyes look like gold but……」(Note: Kinkabyou sounded like golden coin cat if you don’t know the kanji, but from the kanji you can notice that the “ka” doesn’t refer to coin but to flower, or more accurately the gorgeousness of flower)
「That’s not it Endou-sama. The meaning of the kanji is the gorgeousness of the gold.」
「So gorgeous golden cat?」
「Yes. Kinka is its regional name.」
「Whoa, that’s really……」
Fukube scratched his head with a troubled face. Because he knew. Where was this regional that Hinata referred to. Taisei seemed to be the same. He guessed the true identity of the enemy and his expression suddenly turned grave.
It was a cat apparition whose legend was passed down at Jinhua district of Zhejiang Province of China. It was an apparition with unusual legend, where a pet cat mutated into an apparition in just three years by absorbing “moon’s spirit”. It deceived human with its ability to freely transform and caused death from emaciation by giving water that was mixed with urine.
「You made the people of Tsuchimikado to misrecognize you as Tsubaki-sama, changed into the form of my mother, all of those were done by borrowing the power of Kinkabyou that you allowed to possess yourself.」
Hinata said that while making a sword hand seal with her hand that she touched to her lower lip. When she muttered 「――”MetsuDestroy」, the woman’s cuff shined for an instant before a small bell rolled out.
「You used powerful jutsu of suggestion that used bell’s sound and words of power in conjuction. The white mask of pentagram is also a type of spell item. You seized Tsuchimikado clan by using multiple jutsu on top of each other.」
Hinata might said those words as consolation in her own way.
It would be different if it was several hundred years ago, but in this modern time, getting attacked by human caster wasn’t something that the present time onmyoujis were wary of.
It couldn’t be denied that they had gotten complacent from peace, but originally they were just people who inherited their legacy as mere legend and knowledge, so this was also something that couldn’t be helped.
Although that consideration from Hinata, exactly because it was a consideration that it pierced especially deeply into the elderly nobleman and others. Everyone of them was making an ashamed expression.
Taisei kept the talk moving to change the heavy atmosphere.
「In other words, Hinata. This woman is a practitioner from the main land?」
「Huh, do I look like anything but Japanese? Do I have accent in my speech? There is a limit even in being wrong you know, missy?」
The woman scoffed with contempt.
Her attitude was irritating, but what she said wasn’t wrong. She looked Japanese no matter what, and there also wasn’t any accent in her speech.
「I admit it. Certainly I’m not a Tsuchimikado. I’m an unaffiliated practitioner. My ancestor wasn’t from any prominent clan like Tsuchimikado though.」
The woman confessed that was why she wanted pedigree and lineage, and using that she was going to encroach into Japan government, but Hinata shook her head.
「I already said that I have enough of your nonsense. All will become clear if your nationality and genealogy are investigated.」
She glanced at Fukube which was returned with a nod.
「In the first place, something like your nationality doesn’t matter.」
「Doesn’t matter? Why is that I wonder?」
「Because it’s clear that you have a deep relationship with that country.」
「Hmph. That’s so simplistic of you just because I have a Kinkabyou as my shikigami. Even though I just went to that region to catch it before coming back here.」
「Does that also apply to “Sokujou”?」
The woman fell silent at that question.
「That’s impossible isn’t it? Depending on the situation that apparition is in a different level than Kinkabyou that can be transformed artificially.」
Kousuke timidly raised his hand there.
「Err, sorry, Hinata-chan. What is “Sokujou”? I also heard that name got mentioned during battle, so I guess it’s that moving earth.」
Kousuke looked troubled because he couldn’t keep up with the talk. The other people other than Taisei and the elderly nobleman also looked the same.
It seemed that even people from onmyouji family didn’t know about it unless they had very extensive knowledge.
「Yes, Endou-sama. Sokujou is that moving earth. It’s an earth apparition that appeared in Chinese legend……no, it’s more of a divine tool rather than an apparition, or perhaps it should be called as the mystic itself.」
「It’s an existence that appeared before BC 2000 and even I don’t know much about it. However, there is a story that it once formed a wall that stopped a great flood that had trampled the earth for dozens of years.」
「A-aa. So that multiplication power……」
「Yes. Sokujou was a possession of an emperor at that time. At the same time it was thought as a great treasure and not an apparition.」
In other words, Taisei and the elderly nobleman continued the explanation.
「A legendary existence like that which also contained divine power can’t possibly be in the hand of a mere unaffiliated practitioner.」
「It must had been kept under very strict lock and guard. What’s more it would be in extreme secrecy that would astound us.」
Inevitably the owner was definitely a family with ancient and honorable origin of that country, or perhaps it was the country itself that kept such treasure. Either way, it should be an item that was impossible for an individual who was also a foreigner to obtain.
There Fukube cheerfully stepped forward. He crouched in front of the woman to match the height of their gaze.
「Recently you see, there is a lot of uninvited guests from other country. It really gave a lot of work to these uncles.」
His cheerful smile and face looked terrifying instead. Behind the closed smiling eyes, there was a sharp glint like that of a snake.
Kousuke remembered. When they were brought to the safe house, he heard the story that right now a part of the government and other countries were making suspicious movements.
Could it be, this case of Tsuchimikado clan and the movement of the government and other countries that suddenly started to become noisy were related.
The woman didn’t answer. She looked down and wouldn’t meet Fukube’s gaze. It was like her provocative attitude before this was just a lie.
「And, which one are you? That country’s agent? Or perhaps you are from an unpleasant civil organization?」
Fukube had completely entered interrogating mode. He took out a knife to show it off.
Taise and the elderly nobleman were aghast.
But, from Fukube’s perspective this was a situation where he couldn’t pay any mind to that.
If the perpetrator was just a practitioner from an occult organization, he was someone related to the earth fantasy, so he wouldn’t be felt that surprised. And if there was a pain in the neck organization making trouble, he could just dogeza to the demon king family to ask for help.
But, if, the perpetrator was an agent from that country?
What if there was a force affiliated to that country or perhaps a department of the government there being formed from such practitioners?
The onmyoujis said that they regained their strength several months ago, but who could say that the same thing didn’t happen in other country?
If this conjecture was correct, then the situation was the worst.
For a country, it was only inevitable and natural to not be picky with their method if it was for the sake of their national interest. Furthermore if they possessed absolute weapon in the form of occult that couldn’t be proved using scientific method, not using that for the country’s interest could only be taken as an inexcusable negligence instead. It was impossible for a nation to ignore it.
And then, Japan was defenseless against invisible power that was wielded without any hesitation. Because the bureau of Onmyou that could oppose it had been abolished since a long time ago.
Or perhaps, the movement of a part of the government that looked as though they had forgotten the second returnee uproar would become just like Tsuchimikado clan……
「So you won’t answer the question hmm.」
The government dog Fukube didn’t hesitate. He stabbed his knife into the woman’s thigh.
Sound of agony leaked out from the woman’s gritted teeth. But, that was all.
Fukube’s eyes narrowed even dangerously seeing the woman enduring that.
「Please wait Fukube-sama!」
「Whoops, sorry about that. Is it too stimulating for a lady? But, this too is my work, furthermore the situation might be urgent. Please forgive me.
It was an unspoken 「Don’t get in my way」 from Fukube, however Hinata didn’t flinch.
She grabbed the hand of Fukube who was going to cut off the woman’s ear next and stopped him.
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And then, before Fukube could ask with his gaze to Kousuke to “bring us to some other place from here”,
「Have you forgotten? Endou-sama is in the possession of an even more nasty interrogation method!」
「Ah, you’re right!」
「Y-you called it nasty……」
It went without saying. It was that become a lovely villager thingy. Kousuke’s expression became very conflicted.
While Taisei and the elderly nobleman and others were tilting their head, Fukube realized that he was losing his calm.
「That was stupid of me. I have shown everyone something unsightly.」
「No. I too should point that out quicker……」
「Then why……aa! So you wanted to see her getting stabbed at least once as revenge!」
「You misunderstand! Just what kind of person Fukube-sama think I am!」
It seemed that the reason she was late in pointing that out wasn’t that.
「I was just……unconsciously removing that option from my mind.」
The reason was.
「That, that kind of justice is just too horrifying-」
Hinata-chan covered her face with both hands with a mortified look.
Taisei and the elderly nobleman and others who didn’t understand what they were talking about were worried with Hinata’s head. It couldn’t helped because her Japanese language was strange just now. But it was a fact, so it couldn’t be helped even more.
「U-umm Hime-sama? What do you mean by justice……」
The elderly nobleman asked in confusion.
Hinata turned a pitying gaze toward the elderly nobleman. Her gaze moved to Kiyotake too next.
And then, she spoke sadly.
「Taiga-sama, is gone……he has completely become justice.」
「「I don’t get it.」」
Also, that Justice-san’s real name was Tsuchimikado Taiga. He was a grandson of the elderly nobleman and an older cousin of Kiyotake. He was a good young man with straightforward personality and nothing to hate about. No, even now he was still someone completely straightforward without anything twisted in him though, in a certain sense.
「Endou-sama……it looks like this woman has received some kind of training. With my way it will take too much time to draw out the truth from her……so it can’t be helped. Please make her into justice.」
「Can you stop calling it justice, justice like that?」
Even while making that tsukkomi, in order to force the woman to confess, Kousuke took out “Staking the Pride of a Villager”.
Fukube stood up and gave him his spot.
But, he noticed that the woman’s shoulders were shaking. Even though she was acting so provocatively before this, right now her face was still casted down so her expression couldn’t be seen.
They thought that perhaps she was scared hearing that Kousuke who had shown supernatural power before was going to do something to her, but that seemed to be not the case.
「What is so funny?」
Kousuke felt suspicious and asked her. Right after that.
Hinata and Taisei turned around toward the direction of the mansion in surprise at the same time,
「There is something!!」
「The Horse Oni is fighting――no, it was sent back!?」
Right after they yelled that, a pillar of light pierced the sky. It was from the other side of the mansion, the place where the ritual site was at. And then from the same place, irregular lines of light instantly ran under the feet of Kousuke and others like blood veins.
「Ahahah, my thanks for going along with my attempt to buy time-」
The woman lifted up her face quickly. Her opened eyes were displaying joy.
「What a blunder! So she got a comrade who is good at stealth!!」
Kousuke’s judgment was instantaneous. He scolded his body that had dull reaction from the fatigue tormenting him and turned around with great force as though to gouge the ground under his feet. He left behind the calls of Hinata and others and returned to the ritual site in full speed.
(After giving first aid to Taisei-san and others, I searched for ambush just in case but……sh*t-. To slip through even Hinata-chan’s instinct, the enemy is hiding an outrageous joker huh-)
Taisei left behind that powerful Horse Oni as guard just in case, but most likely it was finished off with a surprise attack that killed it in a single blow. From there he could surmise the height of the ambush soldier’s stealth ability.
He didn’t plan to be conceited. But, as someone who had pride to his role as scout, he couldn’t help but blame himself for this painful blunder.
He lashed his creaking body and rushed to recover the situation. He passed through the forest in the blink of eye and charged into the mansion’s ground. There, an angry voice that was oozing with worry came from the backyard of the mansion.
「Endure-. Defend Fujiwara clan to the death-」
The next head of Tsuchimikado clan who had just lost one arm――Takehiko was the one saying that.
When Kousuke jumped on the roof and checked the situation, he saw a fierce scene unfolding there.
Takehiko looked pale like a corpse, but he created a sword hand seal with one hand with his fingers holding a talisman to desperately perform the spell of barrier.
There was a sound like the barrier creaking. It seemed an unseen power was pressing down on it. Inside the barrier, four practitioners of Tsuchimikado clan were also deploying barrier with desperate look. They were protecting the members of Fujiwara clan who were still unable to move in the middle of them.
Yes, there were four casters. There wasn’t even any need to think where were the remaining four casters.
A scream resounded from the direction of the towering pillar of light. When he looked there, an onmyouji of Tsuchimikado was getting dragged by an earth tentacle into the light――to be more accurate, he was vanishing into the shining hole at the center of the pillar of light.
Kousuke didn’t even have any time to feel shocked that there was still the moving earth remaining. He rushed out.
Toward the person who attacked them.
The man in black clothes standing with the bursting out pillar of light behind him.
Silently he closed the distance in an instant. With his invisibility in full force, Kousuke unleashed a beheading slash. He didn’t consider allowing him to live in order to wring out information from him. Kousuke’s battle experience was insisting to him to kill the man immediately.
The blade of sharpened killing intent certainly severed the neck without the man realizing it.
The sensation in his hand wasn’t the sensation of cutting through flesh, but like plowing through earth. What scattered out wasn’t just blood, but mostly soil.
(Did he make Sokujou possess him!?)
Kousuke’s conjecture was correct.
This man in black was none other than the true owner of Sokujo. He put Sokujo inside his body to make himself in a possessed state and constantly lurked underground. That was why he was far away from where Kousuke and co originally got held back and Sokujo got proportionally more effective the closer the distance to the mansion was.
But, Hinata’s “power of purification” must be unexpected.
He was driven to the death’s door along with Sokujou, and because of that his presence also became weaker. And because he was also underground, Kousuke and Hinata’s detection didn’t catch him.
There was no doubt that the second “whole mountain purification” would lethally wound him. A clear sign of death was formed on his face.
But, that was exactly why Kousuke felt a chill on his spine seeing the man’s eyes.
「Facing a suicide soldier who is going to accomplish his mission at all cost isn’t funny at all-!!」
To wipe away the rising up bad premonition inside him, Kousuke tried to seal the man using ice tonjutsu――but, as expected a suicide soldier was troublesome.
Something like “possession” wasn’t simple at all. Since the man resolved himself to die, he had already pushed himself into a state that should be called as “assimilation”.
The man’s body crumbled like Taisei’s substitute object at the highway.
Kousuke only froze an empty space and the moment he realized his blunder,
「――On Shuciri Kyararoha Unken Sowaka」
The man grew out from a different place. His mouth was reciting the mantra of Yamantaka Vidya-raja’s deadly curse.
His target was Takehiko. As the cornerstone of the barrier, it would immediately turn brittle if he vomited out blood and collapsed. The barrier was pulverized at the next instant.
The spiritual impact from barrier destruction made the onmyoujis of Tsuchimikado clan to fell on their knees simultaneously.
Earth tentacles instantly captured the Fujiwara clan members and dragged them toward the hole of light.
「I won’t let youuu!!」
Kousuke manifested three clones even while feeling like his soul was creaking.
Earth tonjutsu and ice tonjutsu broke and froze Sokujou, but the earth’s amount was too much.
「Everything is for the homeland.」
Muddy black miasma explosively burst out from the man.
「What is it this time!?」
From the stomach of the man who had mostly transformed into soil, a cursed item that had many charms stuck on it was taken out.
When those charms were torn off, it might be just his imagination, but Kousuke felt like he saw a scene of nine tails faintly swaying. The miasma was giving off an absurdly repulsive presence. Heat and intense pain suddenly attacked Kousuke’s neck.
Because of that, he failed in stopping eight Fujiwara clan members from getting dragged away.
The man turned around and leaped into the hole of light. The eight Fujiwara clan members were screaming while getting dragged in. Kousuke leaped after them even while cursing.
Seeing that sight,
Was witnessed by Hinata who finally caught up.
Taisei, the elderly nobleman, the onmyoujis of Tsuchimikado clan were also with her. The woman was laughing while being restrained by Kiyotake.
Hinata was wailing and Taisei and the others were making grim look as they gave instruction to the onmyoujis of Tsuchimikado clan. While that was going on, Kousuke and others who fell together into the hole of light were――
Safe and sound.
Kousuke threw a kunai to stab the ground just before he jumped off and used the iron string attached to it as a lifeline.
He wrapped the string on his whole right arm while his left arm was in the same state as he prevented the Fujiwara clan members from falling by throwing iron string and tying them in a row.
Even though he possessed superhuman strength, for Kousuke who was in exhaustion, the weight of eight people was no different from a torture. The iron string tore his flesh and blood was dripping down.
He didn’t know what lie at the bottom of the hole of light.
But, it wasn’t anything good.
Kousuke understood even though the bottom was full covered by light. It was a large river.
It was the stream of light of life. A great stream that was beyond human knowledge. Anyone who got swallowed by it would surely be unable to maintain their self no matter who they were. They would lose their “self” and became “everything” that flowed endlessly in there.
When he looked below, it felt like he was going to get sucked in. He suddenly even got the mood of wanting to let himself to be swallowed by the stream.
Such subconscious and dangerous thought was,
『You keep getting in the way-』
Cut off by the words of foreign country. The “Language Comprehension” skill translated the main land words.
Yes, the man in black was clinging using earth tentacle at the Fujiwra man at the most bottom.
He wouldn’t go die alone. For the sake of his mission, he would definitely bring the skilled people of Fujiwara clan to the grave together with him. The madness in his eyes was conveying that.
「You bastard, so annoying! Just go fall by yourself!」
Kousuke summoned a kunai from “treasure warehouse”. He threw it and hit the man, but as expected the part that got hit only scattered as soul. It didn’t deal any damage.
「N-no good. W-what is waiting for this guys is-……guh, we can’t allow ourselves to fall into the dragon vein!」
The youth who was the nearest to Kousuke was desperately insisting with gasping breath.
「Even if you tell me that in this situation!」
Even while saying that, the man in black played his last hand.
He was forming a spell with foreign language. The man’s eyeball suddenly popped. Blood flew out in large amount from his mouth together with soil before vanishing too.
It was as though he offered himself as sacrifice.
By doing that, the charms that were sealing the cursed item burst and nine tails that were completely coming into view appeared around the man.
At the same time, different cursed item jutted out from the man’s earth body.
That item with charms sticking on it that also burst up looked like a horn. The horn was also emitting terrific miasma too that gnawed on the consciousness of the people of Fujiwara clan.
In addition, there was a violent roar from above.
Sokujou was rampaging on the surface even now following the man in black’s order to drag the other Fujiwara clan members into here. Kousuke grasped the situation through the eyes of his clones that were dealing against it.
The woman blew away Kiyotake with an inhuman strength and snapped even Hinata’s binding.
Her face was changing rapidly.
Her hair fell off, her body bloated up, her claws and fangs grew longer, and horns grew out through the skin of her head.
『You stupid fools who didn’t even realize that the apparitions of your own country got stolen!』
The man laughed mockingly with foreign language.
At the same time, the woman who transformed into an oni with huge body rushed toward the hole with terrifying momentum.
Hinata who had already rushed until near the hole turned around in surprise. She hurriedly formed a sword seal with her hand, but she wouldn’t make it in time no matter how.
One of the clones looked like he was staring at a dump truck approaching with high speed, even so he snatched away Hinata from the side and dodged in a hair’s breadth.
From the start, the woman’s objective was only pushing off Kousuke and the others here.
Through his clone, Kousuke saw the woman who turned into an oni rapidly approaching in slow motion.
(This is……bad. The abyss lord mode――)
Instantly Kousuke decided to push through with a reckless move even if it would exhaust his soul――it was then.
He heard a voice.
In that instant, his memory of “her” revolved in his mind like a revolving lantern.
At the same time he felt it, that presence.
He gasped and turned his gaze.
The man in black who was letting out a mad laugh in his belief of his victory was holding a cursed horn with his earth tentacle. Looking closer, Kousuke’s blood that was dripping down had hit it, causing the horn to be wrapped in a faint light.
Right away, a heat without intense pain caressed his neck. His whole body turned heated as though he was being enveloped.
An apology spontaneously came up in his mind.
On the ground above, Hinata was reaching out with her hand while making a tearful expression in the arms of his clone.
Taisei, the elderly nobleman, the other onmyoujis of Tsuchimikado, and the people of Fujiwara who were conscious were watching the charging oni with expression of despair.
However, Kousuke didn’t apologize to them because he had given up on life.
The one who he apologized to was the person who had been calling him all this time.
He never even though that she would really cross a world to help him.
But even more than that, his instinct was telling him that thing would become bad once he called for her, because of that he had subconsciously submerged that contract to the bottom of his memory.
The beautiful boss of oni.
Her name was,
「――”Yaya no Hidzuki (Crimson Moon of Nights)”」
Even for the onmyoujis, that sight made them doubted their own eyes.
The woman transformed into an oni and charged to finish off Kousuke and others who fell into the hole of light――the “dragon’s den” that led into the “dragon vein”.
Hinata’s spiritual intuition had seen through the oni.
That was one of the three legendary onis that were sealed in the phoenix hall of Byodo-in (a temple in Kyoto). The relic that acted as storing object hidden inside the woman’s body manifested a calamitous great oni using the woman’s life body as sacrifice.
That was why she despaired.
She couldn’t be stopped. There was no time. Because there was no jutsu that could instantly stop an oni of that level who manifested in flesh body.
She felt like the flow of time was slowing down.
The oni that shook the earth with each step arrived at the dragon’s den, where Kousuke and others must be hanging on for dear life at the edge of it.
A shriek flew out from Hinata’s mouth.
Such light hearted tone came out from the clone holding her.
*DON-* A thunderous sound that was like an explosion struck her eardrums severely.
At the same time, a terrific impact radiated and the soil that was dug out in tremendous amount by Sokujou became smoke that spread out.
The clone properly protected Hinata from the impact before vanishing.
「Cough, Endou, sama?」
Fukube and Taisei were tumbling on the ground at the corner of her eyes. She could also see the elderly nobleman and others. They too were looking at the dragon den with the same uncomprehending gaze like Hinata.
「So ye finally calleth?」
A delighted and very bewitching woman voice resounded.
And yet, for some reason it sent chills into their spine.
The smoke was swept away by wind.
There was a woman with height taller than two meters there. She had beautiful white long hair and golden eyes. She was wearing a beautiful kimono with black background and embroidery of red spider lily, worn slovenly so that her breasts looked like they were going to spill out.
And then, there were three splendid horns growing from the middle and both sides of her forehead.
That existence who suddenly appeared caused everyone including Hinata to gulp from the dread that assaulted them.
Was it because she was stopping the charging oni with a single hand like it was nothing?
That was a part of it.
But, even more than that, the fierce demonic aura that she emitted liberally even while smiling elegantly was overwhelming the onmyoujis, no, the humans’ instinct.
With her intuition that was unparalleled as expected, Hinata saw through her true identity.
「No way……Shuten, Douji?」
The true identity of the reinforcement who suddenly appeared, the impossibility of it, it went without saying that it caused everyone in that place to open their eyes wide like saucer.
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