「「「「「WELCOME TO HAURIA VILLAGE!!」」」」」(Said in Engrish)
What welcomed Kousuke and others when they arrived at the sea of trees was a total of twenty Hauria posing with smokescreen of seven colors at the background. This was a bit within expectation.
「By the way, just now is a welcome personally from this clan head Karm! One that is stylish to the extreme――」
「No need to explain.」
Kousuke completely disregarded it as the next clan head.
Karm stopped dead in his track. For some reason he got drenched in cold sweat.
「W-we also prepared some food already!」
「Come come-, next clan head! Sit over here!」
For some reason Par-kun and Nea-chan were acting like low level employees welcoming the company’s higher-up. They were also drenched in cold sweat. No, looking closer, he could see that all Haurias were sweating nervously.
「Eh, what? What in the world is with this creepy welcoming……」
「How horrible to call this creepy! All of us Haurias are simply displaying our reverence toward the clan head candidate who will shoulder our future!」
「Karm-san, your tone is also strange……」
Rana who had realized everything lightly placed her hand on Kousuke’s shoulder.
When Kousuke looked back over his shoulder, he found the face of a soldier waiting for their superior’s verdict whether they would be sent to a suicide mission or not. He was taken aback.
「Kou-kun. You see, the clan head is using the welcome as camouflage for bribing attempt. You can also call it as a bootlicking attempt.」
「They want you to mediate them with boss.」
In other words, by giving their all to suck up to Kousuke who was Hauria’s next clan head and the demon king’s right hand man, they wanted him to give advice to reduce the rebuke to them for trying to make a hidden village without permission. That seemed to be the meaning of their behavior.
If the labyrinth of sea of trees that was overflowing with romance was completed, there was no doubt that even boss would be overwhelmed by it and accepted their action without getting angry! There was a chance! A ray of hope! How could they call themselves Hauria if they shirked from taking risk! Hyahhhaa!! Like that they carried out their plan with max tension that kept rising but……
Their plot went off the rail and they calmed down after it was already too late. Now they were shaking in their boots thinking 「……Isn’t this seriously bad? We did something even after boss kept telling us not to do it over and over……we’re gonna get punished……」.
These people were really……really……
「A hopeless bunch-」
The honest impression that Emily unconsciously let out made Karm and others groaned with a face of someone enduring stomachache while their poses were still locked in their cool poses at the beginning.
「M-more importantly, Kousuke-dono! We heard that you are coming together with some people who are overflowing with romance!」
「You’re trying to gloss over things with momentum again……」
「The onmyouji practitioners should be together with you aren’t they!!」
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Karm tried to change the atmosphere forcefully. Kousuke sighed at that while nodding.
Actually, in this place there were only five people. Kousuke, Rana, Emily, Vanessa, and Claudia.
It was decided that Hinata and others would come later. That was because they needed to prepare first before joining the battle. They needed to resummon the “shiki” or “shikigami” that they lost, remaking and resupplying their charms, changing into their uniform that also served as a magical tool, contacting their relatives or contacts who were all over the country, and checking various other things.
「Fumu. I heard that you violated a little girl though.」
「Who told you something like that? It was Nagumo wasn’t it? Yosh, I’ll go Aby at him.」
「It was Rana though?」
「An unexpected betrayal!」
When Kousuke’s gaze snapped toward Rana, she covered her face with one hand while making a cool pose and saying 「It’s a certain future. I can see it already. Fufu-」, so he ignored her.
「Can they come here? They can’t open a gate right?」
They must have received explanation about magic power and willpower from Hajime. Hinata and others couldn’t open a gate because magic power was necessary for that.
「No, there is no problem. Hinata-chan can travel from torii to torii that are connected to Inari through the underworld of the Great Barrier of Heavenly Star.」
「Hou! That’s amazing! In other words, they will come out from that underground torii!」
Hinata could teleport to any torii of Inari Shrine all over the country. Excluding the returnees, she could be said as the owner of the fastest travel method in Japan.
Kousuke and Hinata were forced to walk almost endlessly in the mountain when they first met, but that was because Hinata’s memory was sealed and she was unable to communicate telepathically with the white fox, and because the white fox was focusing its whole power to maintain the wavering barrier.
The underworld was the white fox’s territory. Originally it could also interfere with space and time to a certain degree. The progress of time there was slower than the outside world was also to slow down the crumbling of the barrier. Normally the progress of time would be faster to increase the consumption rate of the flowing in willpower. It was also possible to shrunk the space inside the underworld to do something like instant movement so that the shrine maiden could deal with things there easily.
With that power, by placing the torii of the destination in front of the torii that the shrine maiden entered, it was also practically possible to travel to Inari Shrines all over the country in several seconds.
「The underground torii……from there?」
Kousuke moved his gaze.
Their location right now was in front of a basin that was surrounded by a rock wall around two meters high. There was a trace at the surrounding as though the ground had been dug up.
「There is an underground slope inside that basin. The aforementioned shrine is inside there.」
「I’m amazed you were able to find it.」
「We heard about it from the “Shadow Monk”. We completely thought that our unpermitted village building in this nature preserve got found out and a government official came to check, and yet the one who came was completely stinking of the unique smell of someone living in the dark side.」
「You found out the infiltrators from that?」
「Umu. I was completely impressed thinking that even the government of the peaceful Japan has some men of steel who can hire the residence of the dark side, but the truth was different. Though even if the one who came actually was a normal bureaucrat, there was no way we would let them get away because of the risk of the boss finding out.」
「Scrap that thought. Don’t try anything to government official who come only to do their work, absolutely not.」
「Still, I heard that boss once meddled deeply with the mind of people related to, what did you call them, family register……?」
Anyway, Karm and others misunderstood that some government officials definitely came for 「Using nature preserve without permission is forbidden, die!」 , no doubt about it, so they went 「Then it’s war! You bureaucrats!」 and hunted down the casters of “Shadow Monk”. After subduing them, Karm and others extracted information from them and learned the existence of the shrines in the sea of trees. The revelation was just too crazy.
「By the way, Karm-san. Where are Barnard and others?」
「I also don’t see Wynn and others everywhere?」
Vanessa and Claudia were looking around restlessly before asking. The special forces of Britain’s security bureau that was led by the commander of assault division Barnard and the exorcist squad of Omnibus under the leadership of Wynn should be participating in this battle, but they weren’t here.
「The security bureau’s force will arrive soon. Boss will send them here through a gate when it’s time. The people of Omnibus already arrived here, but they went out just now because they want to check the geography here. They won’t get lost because around thirty Haurias are patrolling the area. They will surely return soon……it seems it’s just bad timing that you guys missed each other.」
That seemed to be the case. This time it was Karm instead who looked puzzled.
「Come to think of it, there was this person called Fukube was it? What happened with Japan’s official? I heard that he would send some manpower though?」
「We parted temporarily with Fukube-san. We asked him to prioritize dealing with the surrounding settlements and the mass media.」
「Fumu. Certainly, considering the location here, even though it’s midnight……it will be bad if by some chance civilians barged in. Especially if it’s the mass media’s people.」
「Yes. I heard that Fukube-san would make up some reason to send out prohibition for anyone to approach this p[lace. After that I’m thinking to ask his men to serve as a mobile unit at the outer edge of the sea of trees.」
「I see. So we’re going to pincer the enemy with an outside unit using the terrain. Roger that.」
When their information sharing reached that point,
「Mine beloved, we hath to go see the shrine immediately right?」
A tall woman suddenly appeared behind Kousuke without any sign beforehand. The reaction that the Haurias showed in respond was extreme.
They all simultaneously leaped back and instantly unsheathed the short sword on their back. Nea who was the nearest to Kousuke after Karm circled around behind the woman while Par leaped up to a distant tree for taking a sniper stance.
「The case of Hauria being too constantly ready for battlefield.」
Everyone must have sensed the danger Hidzuki possessed instinctually. Even though they were getting cold sweats, they were still sending her sharp eye glints with seething killing intent. In addition, before anyone noticed half of the Haurias had vanished as though melting into the darkness of the night.
The teamwork that instantly formed the formation to surround and kill a powerful enemy caused Emily and Claudia to feel creeped out and go 「Uwaa……」, while Rana and Vanessa got a smug look for some reason.
As for Hidzuki who had those killing intents directed to her,
「Hou……as to be expected from the first wife’s relatives. What a pleasant welcome, fufufu」
She was licking her lips bewitchingly while looking somewhat ecstatic. It seemed that this reaction struck a chord within the legendary oni. Apparently the Haurias had completely won her favor.
「Karm-san. It’s fine. She is――」
「She is Kou-kun’s new wife! She is a Shia type! And her race, be amazed! She is an oni god of disaster who is talked in legends!」
「「「「「An oni god of disaster……」」」」」
Karm and others shivered. Their rabbit ears were fidgeting restlessly. Their instinct was reacting to the lovely words that were tickling their soul!
Rana turned meaninglessly. One of her hands pointed at Hidzuki for introduction and she raised her voice with a sparkling face like an entertainer.
「The peerlessly beautiful leader of the onis who is considered to be the strongest and followed by numerous subordinates! The feared crimson moon who dyed even the night with fresh blood! When people talk about Shuten Douji of Mountain Ooe, they talk of none other than her!」
「「「「「UOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, Shuten Douji! Shuten Douji! I don’t have any idea who the hell is that but, anyway you’re so cool Shuten Douji!」」」」」
They had reflexively formed a battle formation but, without even receiving the explanation they must have judged that this woman was an ally when seeing that Kousuke was relaxed around her. What was left after that was their tension bursting up without end from Rana’s introduction. Because, the introduction really stabbed deeply into their Hauria soul.
「……This is, quite embarrassing-」
Everyone thought that she would simply smile calmly with an expression as though this reaction was only natural, but unexpectedly Hidzuki-san was fidgeting while both her hands were pressed on her reddening cheeks.
Before coming here, she had given permission to only Rana to call her with her true name, because there was no way she could keep such thing secret from the first wife. It seemed that such unreserved praise from someone who she deemed worthy was plainly delightful for her. Perhaps this too was the nature of oni. Her personality was relatively upfront.
Also, Hidzuki was unseen until just now because she had dispelled her materialized state temporarily.
Hanging on Kousuke’s neck was a magical object tied on a string――Shuten Douji’s horn. By possessing this object and giving it his blood periodically, it enabled Hidzuki to freely materialize or erase herself. Also even when she was not materialized, she was able to contact Kousuke telepathically.
「Cough. Mine beloved, we art going to check the shrine art not we?」
As the strongest type of oni who left behind legends in this country, it seemed that she harbored an interest to the shrine that sealed the “Dragon” that was this country itself.
Either way, they had to check their protection target, and they would also welcome Hinata and others there.
And so, they left behind Nea and others to protect the area while Kousuke and others followed Karm’s guidance to enter inside the cave that connected to underground――but before that, Kousuke scowled as he peeked into the hole.
「It’s just for a bit. The space will widen a bit more at the end of the slope.」
The slope was gentle, but no matter how he saw it, they would have to advance while stooping if it was this cramped. The hole itself was also manmade but the way they dug it was really sloppy. The bumpiness was really bad. It was unimaginable that this hole was intended for frequent entry or for a lot of people to enter.
No, for the average height of the Japanese people at the era when Abe no Seimei was alive, perhaps this much was already sufficient, but……
「This will be hard for Hidzuki.」
Do you want to return to the medium? Kousuke asked while looking back. Then,
「There wouldst not be any problem with this.」
Few red colored particles flew before a weight softly landed on Kousuke’s shoulder.
Rana’s eyes immediately sparkled. Yes, Hidzuki changed into a size that could be put on a palm and got on Kousuke’s shoulder.
「Something like mine shape is indetermined in this world. It might be impossible for me to become something else, but simply changing mine height is possible ye know? Though it used a considerable power to do.」
Hidzuki made a smile like a girl who succeeded in her prank after seeing the shock that everyone exposed. She covered her mouth with her sleeve and laughed 「Kuku」. That gesture was just so adorable that Emily and Claudia’s breathing was turning rougher.
「Kousuke-san, finally even a mascot……just how far your heroic nature goes?」
「Shut up you.」
Kousuke averted his gaze from Vanessa’s astonished face while pulling himself together and urged Karm to lead the group deeper toward the underground shrine.
After walking for a while,
「Uu, it’s really smelly inside here.」
Emily grimaced and covered her nose with her white coat’s sleeve. Certainly, the cave was filled with stagnating air that was very humid.
「According to the elder, “Uten no Hokora” was basically not maintained except for one place at the south.」
Rana spoke of what she recalled.
“Uten no Hokora” consisted of four places at the west, east, north, and south with Mountain Fuji at the center. It was because of the barrier of four gods. Even if some of them were lost, as long as one place was still in good state, this barrier was guaranteed to continue functioning.
The one located in this sea of trees was the “north shrine”. It was only a guess but, the other three places, the “east shrine” at Amakoyama, the “west shrine” at Furousan, and the “north shrine” at Houraisan were already destroyed.
If Hauria didn’t run wild because of romance, the situation would definitely become even more pressing.
「I can understand that the best way is to treat the whole thing like they “don’t exist” to keep the secrecy but, is it alright to breath here?」
Vanessa spoke of her worry while sniffing the air. Claudia turned a worrying gaze toward Karm.
「Won’t the deeper area be especially worse? Won’t Hinata-san and others collapse immediately if they come out into this kind of place?」
「I think there won’t be any problem though.」
Karm said that in Hauria’s case, they normally dug the ground and entered inside to investigate, but if it was Hinata and others, whether they entered from outside or came out from the torii inside, wouldn’t they be able to deal with the state here using some kind of technique?
He considered that also because apparently, the rock surface and torii inside had countless patterns and letters engraved onto them. It seemed such thing also existed at the entrance of the sea of trees although they had been destroyed.
「Besides, we had already reported to boss that the location is inside a cave. Boss had prepared ventilator and artifacts that stocked oxygen together with the supplies he sent us. There is no problem because we already activated the ventilator. As for the smell……even this is already far better than at the start.」
That’s how it was. Various supply items had been sent to them for their support. The whole group let out a relived sigh hearing that.
「Now that you mentioned it, we also have artifacts that are effective against apparitions lent to us.」
Claudia recalled her own partner “Holy Cross” that was currently put inside Kousuke’s “treasure warehouse” as she said that.
It was the strongest weapon that was specialized against demon, but there was no guarantee that it would also be as effective against apparitions. Kousuke had proved that apparitions could be defeated using magic, but the exorcists’ magic element’s level was low compared to the returnees. It was questionable how far they would be able to fight back using their existing power……
Artifacts to clear out that problem should have been prepared.
「Umu, we received those artifacts. They are fundamentally artifacts to amplify your magic power and basic ability. Those artifacts are using sublimation magic. We have equipped ourselves with them. We’re using the shrine as our base, and the supplies for you are also placed there.」
Claudia nodded in acceptance before she suddenly tilted her head.
「Why aren’t we exorcists feeling anything even though there are people with grounding all over the world awakened? If I remember it right, Hinata-san was already able to use technique even before this, but her power was amplified even more since the revival of the King Tree wasn’t it?」
「Now that you mentioned it you’re right. Or rather, with that theory then it shouldn’t be strange for us returnees to also get a power up……」
「If it’s about that, I think boss has alluded about it a little. This came up while boss questioned us whether there is any change with us who are a race without any magic power from Tortus.」
According to him, this was in the end still just a hypothesis but, the source of power for exorcist and onmyouji must be different.
Exorcists were descendants of children created between earthling and otherworlder that was the resident of hell whose power was based on magic power. Therefore they had magic power grounding in this earth that had no magic power.
In contrast, the awakened people who had grounding to a degree that they could use technique like the onmyoujis were most likely descendants from children created between apparition and human. Because of that they had higher grounding based on willpower than the average people.
「Aa! Come to think of it, there is the story that Abe no Seimei was born from the mother of the white fox named Kuzunoha!」
「I see. Stories of marriage between different species existed all over the world. If those stories are based on fact, then perhaps their descendants are the awakened people. As expected, regardless of the country or era, the whole mankind is all otaku and lovers of inhuman beings! As expected from his majesty! What a hypothesis that is overflowing with romance! This Vanessa-, is in admiration! Overwhelming admiration!!」
Claudia casually ignored the excited Vanessa and made an understanding face. Kousuke spoke of an additional explanation to her.
「But conversely speaking, if Claire and others come to a world that is abundant with magic power like Tortus, won’t they be able to grow even more just like us?」
「My! That is really a dreamy idea! I also thought that I want to try going to other world one day!」
Claudia squealed in high spirits. She hopped *pyon* and like always her head hit the ceiling. Her feet slipped at the same time when she landed and the back of her head rushed straight into a collision――before that happened, Vanessa who was behind her caught her body with a practiced motion.
Vanessa didn’t stop there. In this kind of situation Claudia would usually flail around meaninglessly and caused a self-destructive sequence of events like in the show Pythagora Switch (NHK children’s TV show), so even though she was stooping, she firmly held Claudia in a princess carry and stopped any secondary damage from occurring. Normally this agent was always acting like that, but the strength legs and waist that she displayed here was befitting her occupation.
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As such things were going on, the slope finally ended. They could see an open space ahead of the cave. Lighting artifacts must have been placed everywhere. The place was really bright.
The space widened drastically the moment they got out of the passage. The height was around five meters. The length and width of the space must be around twenty meters. A river around three meters width crossed the space near the center of the area. The right end was a spring where it had underground water flowing from it.
At the other side of that clear river there was a shrine covered with moss standing quietly. It was built from stone with the shape of a small shrine with a triangle roof. At the other side of the shrine’s double doors there was a stone block that was engraved with a pentagram.
Between the river and the front of that shrine, there were also toriis made from stone packed tightly close to each other to support the ceiling.
「This is, it feels otherworldly isn’t it?」
Kousuke reflexively spoke out his impression. He represented the feeling of everyone here.
The place felt divine, but also somewhat eerie. It looked like the place was refusing any human’s entry, but conversely it also felt like inviting human to approach near.
Various items were piled up at the side of the toriis.
Not only there were ornamental artifacts, there were also various types of firearms and ammos, and various types of medicines packed into boxes. An Arachne of unknown number was sorting out those items while screeching 「Ii!!」 to welcome them like a shop owner.
「We don’t have magic power after all. It will be troublesome to use up the magic power stock to activate the treasure warehouse every time, so we asked for everything to be taken out into the open.」
「Understood. Emily, the injure will be brought here to receive treatment, so you can arrange things as you like.」
「U-understood……but, is it really okay for me to be here?」
Emily understood about her own specialty. That must be why she was uneasy.
She didn’t want to be left behind. She wanted to be with everyone. Her eyes were wavering because she was placed between such desire and her rational mind that was telling her she would only become a hindrance out there.
「I’m, not useful in a fight, and if the worst happen then I’ll only be a bother for Kousuke and others……」
She self-depreciatingly said that she had no qualification to fight together with everyone. Her shoulders dropped in depression.
For some reason, Kousuke and others all made a transparent expression seeing that.
Kousuke quietly stepped forward and returned to Emily the thing that she entrusted to him inside his “treasure warehouse”.
Emily interpreted that as Kousuke expressing his feeling of 「What are you saying after coming this far. Let’s fight together」 to her. Her expression slackened down completely and she showed a happy smile.
And then, she equipped a gas mask that looked like Darth Va*er.
In addition she also equipped a thick belt and poaches that looked like gun belt. Her white coat fluttered and from a glimpse, there were dangerous looking substances of various colors lined up at its inner side. There were even gas cans put into holsters on her thighs. Just what was this girl planning to spew out?
「Kofuuh, Kousuke! I’m going to answer your expectation for sure!」
「Kofuuh, even if by some chance there is enemy that enter here, I’ll definitely subdue them using all kinds of medicines!」
「Here-, antidote! Kofuuh, when the battle start I’ll flood the cave with gas and powder, so everyone, don’t forget to drink this so you don’t get affected! Shukooh」
Was this thing really an antidote? The purple color of the thing looked really venomous that he could easily accept even if he was told that this was actually a poison.
The lab coat girl wearing a mask that looked like Lord Vade* was waiting inside a cave while equipped with poison and poison gas……yep, surely even the “Shadow Monk” with their iron determination would hesitate to enter into here, no doubt about it.
Also, this gas mask was an artifact that was prepared for Emily who was researching dangerous substance daily. It was unnecessary in this present situation because they had antidote ready but……
It seemed that Emily-chan had really taken a liking to it. She once mentioned something about how the isolated feeling from wearing it strangely calmed her down and made her thought clearer.
Looking at her objectively, she looked completely like a mad scientist. Scary.
「Emily-san, there is no need to debase yourself. You’re already a credibly dangerous character.」
「Emily-chan, how about you hold a poison exihibition in front of the whole clan next time?」
「Good idea, that! Although none of them is lethal, they all have wonderful effect right? We will buy them from you with your asking price if any of it is to our liking!」
「I won’t sell them! Especially to Hauria!」
「What a mysterious aspect ye hath. I understand now the reason why ye were able to confront me. Ye dressed yerself as a pure and innocent girl when in actuality ye are hiding such terrifying visage underneath.」
「I don’t want an oni to take a liking of me because of something like this though!?」
「Mad Poison Emily……no, it should be more stylish, like……」
「SOUSAKAN! No need to think of any nickname!」
In short, Kousuke and others were feeling really complicated and speechless at Emily who was holding extremely low self-evaluation despite showing her usefulness more and more the more she was feeling self-depreciating.
Also, the people of Fujiwara and Tsuchimikado had also been prescribed with Emily’s “energetic making medicine”, and coupled with artifact of regeneration magic, they were now acting like they were high――not, rather they were acting like they were ecstatic――also not, rather they were full of spirits and energic.
They would definitely collapse with extreme fatigue after this night passed, but conversely speaking, they would be able to display their greatest performance for this whole night. As expected from Emily.
「Well, the drugs won’t be effective against apparitions, and we don’t know what kind of method they might use to slip through the defensive line, so I’ll also leave behind some combat force here. You don’t need to worry about anything.」
「Y-yeah. Thanks for letting me stay together here, kousuke kofuuh」
Her expression was definitely slackening into a sloppy smile again behind the mask. Perhaps. She looked like Lord Vade* after all so it was hard to imagine her expression.
While they were doing that, the toriis were starting to be tinged with faint light.
As everyone turned their focus to there, thin mist was coming out from the pillars themselves before they whirled to converge at the center. And then,
Kousuke unconsciously let out a voice of surprise and admiration. Even Rana blinked her eyes while her voice slipped out. The other people were also the same.
The reason was,
「Endou-sama, everyone, forgive us for the wait.」
Because the girl who was at the front simply looked divine.
First her outfit was different. She was wearing a pure white kariginu (informal clothes worn by the nobility from the Heian period onwards). Her flowing long hair and the blackness of her upright eboshi (black lacquered headgear) were really eye-catching. Her whole body was faintly enveloped with white light, perhaps because she had just carried out the teleportation. Her eyes were also containing strong light inside.
There was no way anyone wouldn’t feel divinity from her. Her figure was that of a purity without any stain that would make anyone believe even if they were told that she was a messenger of god.
However, when the onmyoujis who were all wearing uniform kariginu led by Taisei and the elderly nobleman stepped forward behind her, coupled with her dignified bearing, it immediately made everyone felt that she was definitely the strongest onmyouji who was accompanied by her followers.
The girl possessed the atmosphere of a holy precinct while also radiating the strength as a human.
「Fujiwara Hinata is present and ready.」
There was nobody here who didn’t get entranced by her smile. Even Hidzuki wasn’t an exception.
Hinata was gradually getting fidgety when she was seeing that Kousuke and others were overwhelmed for some reason and simply staring at her silently. Her cheeks were also reddening.
「U-umm……do I, look strange?」
Her shyness was befitting for a girl her age. The light enveloping her had also vanished when anyone noticed. She got a bit timid as she alternately compared her kariginu outfit with Kousuke and the rest.
Thanks to that Kousuke and others finally returned to their senses.
「N-no, you don’t look strange at all, you know? Umm, this is, that, like it was shocking……I don’t know how to say it……」
Kousuke spoke incoherently from realizing that he was blushing because of a nine year old girl. If any police officer saw his current state, there was no doubt that they would definitely take out their handcuff.
Hinata tilted her head. In front of that, even Rana was blushing slightly even while she poked at Kousuke’s side to urge him. Come on, say it! Your honest imnpression! She urged.
「Uh……err, Hinata-chan, you look really pretty. Haha……」
「! T-thank you, for the compliment……」
Hinata covered her face with both her sleeves while saying thanks with a fading voice. The females writhed even more instead when they saw her like that.
And then, Taisei papa stepped forward with the face of an oni.
「Just what are you doing showing off in front of the father huh?」
「Sorry, really sorry」
「Is it alright if I curse you by mistake?」
「That won’t be a mistake at all. That’s a premeditated crime.」
「Geez, Otou-sama! You can’t say something like that even as a joke!」
Hinata scolded her father with meh like scolding a child, but her crimson face made her pressure to be nonexistent. Also Kousuke pointed out in his heart that your father isn’t joking at all you know. Because, Taisei papa’s eyes were full of seriousness. The fingers of his right hand was quietly forming hand seal.
「Now now, Taisei-dono. Calm down. Right now isn’t the time for that.」
「Elder……haa, you’re right.」
Taisei reluctantly backed down after the elderly nobleman admonished him. Looked like things would be difficult even later after this incident was resolved.
Kousuke kept praying that Taisei wouldn’t form a tag team with Claudia’s foster father――Director Dime. After all, that person was also troublesome in his own way. He was someone who abused his authority to charter an airplane to launch an assault from the sky during a date. Kousuke didn’t even want to imagine what a combination of unseen curse and physical attack would do to him.
While he was shivering from imagining the possible future, it seemed the greeting with Karm had also ended.
There, multiple footsteps echoed through the space.
「Ou! Aby! About the damn time you came!」
It seemed they had been safely sent to here on the surface. Only their leader Barnard came down into this cave. He was dressed in combat uniform with black base color. He was waving his hand with his usual lively air.
There were also three other people following behind him.
「Aziz! And Wynn and Anna too!」
They were the exorcists of Omnibus. There was Claudia’s junior who was like her little brother Aziz, the blonde rapier user Wynn, and the tonfa user Anna whose brown hair was braided.
The expressions of all three burst into smile when Kousuke waved his hand to them.
Only Aziz was strangely avoiding his gaze but……the cause of that was due to him becoming the prey of the thin doujinshi that Kousuke’s little sister Manami authored.
The different world that he learned from that kind of thing. When Aziz visited the house of Endou family, he accidentally read the thin doujinshi. And then, 「You saw it didn’t you……Aziz-kun」 Manami was already standing behind him without giving off any presence, a wide grin on her lips.
It went without saying that Aziz screamed as though he suddenly encountered an archdemon.
After that, somehow it became hard for him to meet the gaze of Kousuke-san, the person who he respected. He understood that there was no way things would develop like the content of that thin book but……he understood, but still!
Getting back to the main topic.
「Forgive us, Claudia-sama, Kousuke-dono. We missed each other.」
「Haha, it’s a disaster isn’t it, this situation.」
Wynn and Anna smiled wryly while exchanging a greeting with Taisei and the others too. And then, they looked at Hinata, looked at Kousuke, looked at Claudia……
「Claudia-sama, are you really fine being together with Kousuke-dono?」
「I believe that it’s still not too late to stop it even now!」
「「What do you two mean by that!?」」
Kousuke and Claudia were in harmony. Though they themselves understood just what the two meant.
「Kousuke-san……as expected, perhaps this is just too indiscriminate……」
「Even Aziz! Recently it also feels like you have been avoiding me! Let’s have a talk at least once about your perception toward me!」
「W-what are you saying. It’s not like I’m avoiding you……wait, why are you trying to touch me!? It bothers me!」
「Why!? Somehow you have been acting strange since visiting my house aren’t you!?」
「I-I don’t know! I don’t know anything!」
Aziz-kun darted off to outside like a fleeing rabbit. The suspecting gazes of Wynn and Anna were painful.
「I’m in the faction that is okay with anything as long as there is love!」
「What do you mean!?」
The atmosphere was unthinkable for a pre defensive battle where not only the fate of Japan, but the fate of the whole world was hanging in the balance. In the middle of that,
「Eei! This ain’t the time to be in chaos like this! Come on-, let’s switch track! It’s time for work! Check your equipment and supplies! Check the positioning of each squad! Share with each other about possible enemy tactic! Check the countermeasures! Hurry!」
Kousuke forcefully changed the atmosphere as the leader of the defensive battle.
Outside the shrine, above at the night sky that was so clear to an irritating degree, when the moonlight was passing through the zenith.
The other world’s head reaping rabbits, the special force of Britain’s security bureau, exorcists, and onmyoujis, the overly novel mixed force was on standby in a large circle surrounding the shrine.
Suddenly everyone sensed a presence caressing their skin coldly.
The silence of the sea of trees was broken by the countless sounds of the ground being stamped on, or the sounds of many things slithering through the ground.
The air changed.
Into a stifling air that was filled with killing intent and hostility.
The abnormal presences were approaching from all directions. A tension that was taut like a drawn boy was filling the area. Everyone’s palm turned sweaty and their breathing was getting shallower.
The heaviness of what they were shouldering and the result that would await in case they got defeated. Although they all understood that there was no need to consider such things at this juncture, this abnormal air forcefully provoked the image to come alive in their mind.
『It’s two o’clock right now. Four more hours until dawn.』
Kousuke’s calm voice that came from the communicator caused tension to leak out from their mimetic muscles that had hardened without them noticing.
『This is Nagumo we’re talking about. He’ll finish up for sure before morning. In other words, we just need to wait until then.』
The casual voice unconsciously made smiles to surface.
『Still, even then――』
*za-za-* The imposing sound of footstep stamping on the ground entered their ears.
A particularly powerful and repulsive presence was rapidly approaching from head on. But without paying any attention to it, the sound of walking advanced forward to personally welcome the approaching presence.
『If it’s us, then it’s also not impossible to end this without waiting for that!』
The air suddenly changed! And the tone too!
Hyaaah, our Aby is here yeah! All the fans of Abyss Lord got hyped up! Only the onmyoujis were unable to fully keep up with the tension!
『Enduring the whole time? No, no, no! Absolutely no! Let’s teach these guys! Of our power! Of the power of the bonds gathered here! That deep inside the darkness of this sea of trees, we, the apostles of abyss are awaiting! Let’s engrave this lesson into their soul!』
UOOOOOOOOOH, roars rose from here and there. All of the onmyoujis were in fear! Because the special force members who were staying calm, cool, and collected beside them suddenly went high tensioned to the MAX! Eh, what’s with these people, scary-.
At the same time, *zan-*.
The sound of a slash, the graphic scream of death throe, and then, the vanishing repulsive presence that was at the forefront of the enemies.
『Ａｒｅ ｙｏｕ ｒｅａｄｙ?』(Said in English)
From somewhere there were screams of 「Kousuke, stop it alreadyyy!」「Aah, Endou-sama is getting strange again!」, praises of 「Kuku, my spouse is shining bright!」「You’re the greatest, Abyssgate! Keep it up, moreee!」, and an exchange like 「Mine beloved, doth he hath another personality just as I expected?」「No, they are one and the same. It’s hard to believe though……」 could be heard but, those were just trivial details!
Surely, the abyss lord who was making a cool pose while performing a beautiful turn above the corpse of the defeated apparition vanguard was,
『Ｉｔ’ｓ ｓｈｏｗ ｔｉｍｅ!!』
Yelling the start of the “sea of trees defensive battle” so loudly as though trying to make his voice resounding through the whole forest.
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