Once I unsteadily returned home, I collapsed onto the living room with a crash.
The time was already just before eight o’clock in the evening. In addition to severe anemia, that sludge I ate for lunch brought a stomach ache and I had to take multiple stops at the restrooms of convenience stores before returning.
…It’s been a long day. I feel like I’ve used up ten days’ worth of willpower and stamina today. Next time, I have to properly coordinate my schedule.
(I’m going to miss dinner. I don’t even have the energy to make cup ramen…)
I thought as such while slumped over.
There was suddenly a guy that looked at me. It’s someone I’m used to seeing, is quite uncharacteristic, and completely has the same appearance as me…it’s Taotie.
What’s praiseworthy is that he followed my command of refraining from appearing until we got home. He’s a considerably upright “Evil Spirit.”
“Boss, you look considerably tired.”
“Lots of things happened…”
“I know the gist of it. I was awake every now and then. Well~, you’re a popular person, Boss.”
“At this pace, I’m going to end up exhausting all of my strength during the summer…”
“You’re like a cicada. Wait one moment. You’d be able to eat chazuke, right?”
While having an easygoing smile, Taotie vanished into the kitchen.
The chazuke was soon prepared, and although it was made on short notice, it was delicious. The salted salmon was carefully cut into small pieces, and there was a slightly fragrant wasabi flavor…this cooking is way more skillful than Yukimiya’s.
“*huff* Thanks to you, I feel a bit more lively now.”
“Please take care of your body. I’ll be troubled if you die, Boss.”
It’s natural for Taotie to be worried. Without someone to summon them with, an “Evil Spirit” cannot exist.
Supposing that I die, Taotie would have to look for another host. However, the amount of humans that can withstand being an “Evil Spirit’s” vessel is scarce…most people would die the moment they’re possessed.
Also, it seems that “Evil Spirits” can’t “change residence” as they please. There appears to be some conditions for them to change hosts.
One──the vessel they’re dwelling in has to die.
The other──if the current host is alive, then they have to get permission from them “to change residence.”
It seems that only after either of those conditions are fulfilled can the host be changed, but…honestly, I think those aren’t that big of a deal.
The former is a matter of course, and for the latter, there wouldn’t be anyone that would deny permission. Instead, getting permission from a new host is many times harder.
(I’d do whatever it takes to get permission for sending this guy away. I’d even give an envelope of money for it.)
Perhaps a travelling circus could pick him up…and as I was thinking of such things,
Taotie, who sat on the opposite end of the table, spoke while sipping tea.
“All things considered…the ‘White Tiger,’ ‘Azure Dragon,’ and ‘Vermilion Bird’ of the present age all seem like excellent vessels.”
“In particular, the vessel for the ‘Yellow Dragon’ may be the most important person so far. That person caused Hundun to get done in.”
…A tension coursed through my entire body from those words.
Could it be that this guy hid within me today while observing his opponents? Perhaps he was investigating what kind of personality they have and what their weaknesses are.
If that was the case, then I’ve been cooperating with Taotie’s scheme. I’ve been giving him a private, detailed presentation of each main character.
“Don’t tell me──you’ve been planning to do that?”
Seeing me cautiously ask that, the “Evil Spirit” replied with “Say what?” in a stupid manner.
“What do you mean by ‘do that?'”
“Are you planning to take over my consciousness and attack Ryuuga and the others? To destroy the world…”
Taotie changed his posture in response to my question. He stared at me with an unusually serious face. He’s usually a character that plays the fool, but it seems this guy really is an “Evil Spirit.”
“How do I say this, Boss? I’ve already moved on from being that kind of troublemaker.”
Now I was the one replying in a stupid manner in response to those shocking words he said.
“I’m not going to fight. I won’t even lay a hand on a humanity.”
I can’t let that pass by. I don’t like being the final boss, but the situation is different for Taotie. He’s an “Evil Spirit,” after all.
“I have two reasons. The first is that it’s probably impossible for me to take over your consciousness, Boss.”
“Why! Hundun took over Kyouka’s consciousness! He only faced a little bit of resistance!”
“That has to do with merits and flaws. As you know, the ‘qualities of a vessel’ are important for us, but…humans often resist us. Even Hundun was having difficulty with Hinomori Kyouka, right?”
Come to think of it, just a bit before Hundun’s revival, Kyouka had a fever and stayed in bed.
In other words, humans that resist being an “Evil Spirit’s” vessel have a strong force of will. It’d definitely be a precarious situation for them. It can probably be said that Hundun and the others were defeated because of that.
“This is between you and me, but your resistance is higher than that. Even if I make a low estimate, it would be several times higher than Kyouka’s. If I don’t handle myself well, then I’d be the one in danger of being taken over instead.”
“Why am I that resilient?”
“This is just something you’re naturally born with…you’re that overwhelming, Boss. You’re the strongest Kobayashi.”
“That doesn’t make me happy, and it doesn’t make me feel cool either!”
I don’t want the qualities of a host. Having something like that is pointless for a friend character. To be more precise, it’s an obstacle.
“So, what’s the other reason?”
I set aside my qualms and returned to the main issue at hand.
There’s one more reason for why Taotie abandoned his duties. I’ll have to hear him out if I want to persuade him.
Upon which, Taotie immediately hesitated.
He took his line of sight off of me, scratched his temple, and was constantly readjusting his seating posture. That’s not a reaction a final boss is supposed to do.
“Perhaps this is something that’s bad to tell you…”
“Naturally, as your vessel, I’m obligated to know about it.”
After hesitating for twenty seconds, Taotie finally spoke.
I’m wondering why he’s being oddly fidgety. Seeing my own figure acting bashful is giving me bad vibes.
“I don’t want to fight Hinomori Ryuuga.”
“That’s because, um…isn’t Hinomori Ryuuga c, cute?”
“To be frank, I don’t want you to hate me for this, I suppose…but I want you to stay in your mediator role like you are now and be her boyfriend, I think…”
“Don’t fall in love!”
Despite being completely exhausted, I got up and raised an angry voice.
What is this guy saying! What is he turning red for! To think that he’s a final boss! To think that he’s an “Evil Spirit”! To think that he’s one of the four fiends!
I frantically want to return to being a “friend character” and yet, he wishes to maintain my current “lover character” position?
He was doing this not for defeating Ryuuga, but because he had a crush on her?!
“Look here, Tie! I’m going to return to being Ryuuga’s friend character! I’m also going to immediately put you up for sale on Yahoo Auctions and sell you off via postage!”
“P, please stop. Won’t you be unable to see Ryuuga’s cosplay anymore?”
“Don’t be so casual with Ryuuga! She’s the devastating ‘Successor of the Dragon King!'”
“You like the cosplay, right Boss?”
“Just the bunny girl!”
“It’s the nurse for me. The maid one today was nice as well.”
“No, you don’t understand. The maximum appeal of her beautiful rear is displayed when she puts on the rabbit tail…no wait, that’s not what this is about! You should be more self-aware as the final boss!”
I tried pounding the table, but Taotie didn’t listen.
His cheeks became less tense, and he wiped his drool as he was thinking about Ryuuga’s cosplay…This “Evil Spirit” is getting increasingly worse. Just about everything to him is bad.
“I get it! I’ll cooperate with you! So, go fight, Tie!”
“It’d be impossible for me to attack Ryuuga. What if she gets hurt?”
“She has healing abilities! It’s not an issue!”
“*sigh* I want to chase after Ryuuga on a sandy beach…”
“Listen to what I’m saying!”
“I want her to call me Tie…”
“Get out there and destroy the world!”
“Oh, what would happen if I defeated those remaining of the four fiends? Perhaps exterminate the apostles too?”
“What kind of sudden plot twist is that! That’s pretty strange for part two!”
…I attempted to persuade him for an hour after that, but Taotie was stubborn and didn’t listen. He was single-mindedly focused on “drooling about Ryuuga.”
(Now that its come to this──I’ll have to temporarily halt my efforts in returning to a friend character.)
As a final boss, he has to knock down Ryuuga and the others.
Part two has to be properly established.
This isn’t even the time to worry about criticism of “the final boss being someone close to the protagonist once again,” anymore. At this rate, that’s not going to happen because Taotie is seriously abandoning his duties.
(He has to be the final boss. He has to be Ryuuga’s enemy.)
Then, Taotie will be destroyed, I’ll rid myself of being a mysterious character, and my body will be cleansed. Then I’ll be able to return to being a friend character.
…Come to think of it, the methods to being free from “Evil Spirits,” which are “having the vessel die” or “getting permission to change residences,” aren’t the only ones out there. That just has to do with their own circumstances.
From the perspective of the host, the point is to vanquish the “Evil Spirit.” That would probably be the best solution for those people.
(It’ll be fine. When an “Evil Spirit” perishes, the vessel remaining behind is safe, as proven by Kyouka. If I get rid of Tie, I can return to being an ordinary person.)
Whether as a final boss or a friend, my position of “making the protagonist shine” doesn’t change.
In that case, for the time being, Kobayashi Ichirou──will play the villain, despite the inexperience.
I’ll bring fear and chaos to this world. I’ll have Ryuuga and the others fall into a dilemma.
Just for the summer.