No, it is not NTR.
All of you have disappointed Kermit.
Real talk though, I’m starting to feel a slight burn out from this novel. Not enough to lose motivation, but enough that it’s slightly slowing down my translation pace (this has nothing to do with daily releases being gone btw, that has to do with IRL). I don’t want this series to end up like HP1, where I just burn myself out to the point of losing interest altogether. At the same time, I feel iffy about taking a break mid-volume. I don’t know what exactly to do. What do you guys think?
With this and that happening, the sun set in the blink of an eye.
After the river-time was beach ball volleyball, a barbecue, fireworks, telling ghost stories…those kinds of standard events, and now the time was already 11 o’clock in the evening.
Kurogame had been dozing off, so we decided to go to bed for today.
Once the barbecue had started, I swapped back with Taotie. Once I returned to my room, I kicked Taotie right in the rear.
(*sigh*…this turned out to be more tiring than I thought)
In any case, I’m relieved that we managed to get through without being exposed. There’s still tomorrow, but since we’re descending from the mountain at midday, we should be able to manage.
(Once I get back, I’ll resume the search for apostles. I have to quickly form an army for Taotie.)
Throwing myself onto the bed, I stared at the ceiling while pondering about such things. Since I took a nap when I switched with Taotie, I was wide awake even though it was 12 o’clock late at night.
I was wondering how I can efficiently come into contact with an apostle. They probably don’t have a Facebook…and while I was thinking of such things,
There was suddenly a faint knocking at the door to my room.
“Ichirou, are you awake…?”
Then came Ryuuga’s whispering voice. I soon got up and headed towards the door.
(Don’t tell me that she wants us to sleep together…)
I open the door with such worries. There stood Ryuuga in her pajamas.
There were paws printed on them here and there, making them some childish cotton pajamas. On the other hand, her bulging chest eloquently emphasized her femininity. Her hair was tied up, oddly enough.
I’ve never seen any cosplay that was like this before, and it sort of made my heart beat.
“W, what is it Ryuuga? At such a time like this.”
“Umm…well, could you accompany me to the toilet…?”
“We were telling ghost stories before bed, right? Recall that story that Rina had said about the ‘specter that comes out of shacks.'”
…What kind of protagonist is afraid of ghosts? Well, the final boss was a ghost, and she had a difficult time with that, so maybe that has to do with it?
Something worth noting is that despite how grand this lodge is, there’s no toilet. Since there’s no sewer system installed, there’s only a simple toilet that’s like a telephone booth near the building.
In other words, it was necessary to traverse outside in order for someone to take care of their business.
“I get it. I can’t sleep either, so I’ll go with you.”
“Eheheh. Thank you, boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend ‘role,’ you mean.”
So Ryuuga and I held hands, silenced our footsteps, and sneaked out of the lodge.
Soon, Ryuuga came back from the toilet, so I was about to head back to the lodge. For some reason though, she stood still while tugging on my shirt.
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
“Since we’re here, let’s talk for a bit. Look, the stars are so beautiful.”
Looking up into the night sky, there certainly was a breathtaking sea of stars laid out. It was clear, with not a cloud in sight, so I could clearly identify each individual star. Though, I have no knowledge about constellations.
(Well, perhaps things like this are the true charm of staying at the mountains.)
Thinking as such, I sat with Ryuuga along the stairway in front of the entrance, and we decided to enjoy nature’s planetarium for a short while.
The night wind was pleasantly cool. We continued gazing at the stars in the sky, with the hooting of owls serving as background music.
“I had a lot of fun today.”
Ryuuga calmly said so while resting her head on my shoulder.
“It’s been a while since I was able to be a girl for this long…to the point that I don’t want to come down from this mountain.”
“So you can only return to being a girl when in front of Kyouka, Kurogame, or me. Will it really be that bad if you officially reveal yourself?”
“Yeah…my father had scolded me severely for revealing my secret to you, after all.”
It must have taken a lot of courage for Ryuuga to tell her father about us.
Ryuuga has lived faithfully as a child of the Hinomori household. She was very much a girl, but had been forced to be a guy. I can only wonder how difficult it must have been.
“You father scolded you?”
“Right. But in the end, he understood. He said ‘You’re a really fantastic person,’ to me and also told me ‘If you talk that highly of him, he must be a reliable boy.’ Then he said ‘Since you’ve inherited the Hinomori guardian deity, the ‘Yellow Dragon,’ you’re now the head of family, so I’ll respect your wishes.'”
My chest is aching. At some point, I’m going to have to stand in Ryuuga’s way as a final boss. I’ve been secretly searching for the apostles in the shadows. Perhaps I’d even have to go as far as kicking her father in the rear.
(However, she’s seriously treating me as her boyfriend. It seems that Kyouka and Kurogame think that we’re going out as well…)
Not aware of the sigh I let out, Ryuuga suddenly focuses her sight from the stars to me.
When looking at her eyes from this close, they look more beautiful than the stars above us.
“N, need something?”
“Have you perhaps been…troubled by something recently?”
With those brief words, it seemed like she could see right through into my heart, giving me a startle.
When I inadvertently avert my gaze from Ryuuga and reply weakly with “No, not particularly…”, she smiled while taking hold of my hand.
“I know something when I see it. I’m more or less your girlfriend, after all. Your mood was a bit odd in the afternoon.”
That’s because that wasn’t me, but I don’t have the option to give her such an explanation. Taotie’s mismanagement is my mismanagement.
“I also have things I keep silent and don’t talk about. So, I won’t force you to say anything.”
That was the same line that I had used for her before.
Those were the words I had told Ryuuga when she was still hiding the fact that she was a girl.
“No matter what happens, I’m your lover. An ally of Ichirou.”
Those words also sound familiar. A knife of guilt had plunged into my heart. Though, I’d prefer if “lover role” were used instead of “lover.”
(Oooooh! What a good and pure girl! Ryuuga’s navel and personality score full marks!)
At that moment, I had heard Taotie’s voice in my head. So he’s still awake?
(Hey Boss, let’s stop this final boss thing after all! To betray Ryuuga is an act of a demon, a fiend, a devil!)
I’m pretty sure he’s all three of those.
Well, I’m──a vessel of an “Evil Spirit.” A piece of the final boss.
I have to establish part two for the sake of Ryuuga. I have to liven up the drama in this story and unleash Taotie from my body. I feel bad carrying out this bitter task, but…one could call this the destiny of “protagonist,” I suppose.
(I feel bad for Ryuuga, but I have to move according to what I decided on. I’ll carry out my role.)
However, I’ve sworn a vow. I will not let Ryuuga be defeated. In case of some emergency, I’ll cast away my position and destiny to help her.
I’m her ally no matter what──I don’t even harbor any thoughts of cheating her out of a single coin.
“Sorry, Ryuga. I can’t talk about the circumstances right now…but, I’ll be fine.”
“It’ll definitely turn out as a happy ending. I’ll make my way back to you in the end.”
“Haha, how bizarre.”
Seeing my serious look, Ryuuga couldn’t help but laugh. Then she replied.
“I’ll be fine as well, then. I trust you more than anybody else, Ichirou.”
She said as such and closed her eyes.
Don’t tell me that this──means a kiss? Does she want a kiss? That would be really bad, as expected. This can’t be written off as just training anymore! It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we’ve become lovers!
“It’s okay, Ichirou. There are…kiss scenes in plays, after all.”
When Ryuuga said that while blushing, sweat immediately started pouring out of my whole body. My heart began to thump violently. Feelings were welling up.
She said it’s okay, so I guess it is? Perhaps I can return to being a friend character even after kissing her? Perhaps we can have a mutual breakup?
(Aaaaah! Noooo! Ryuugaaaa!)
(Be quiet, Taotie! I’m contemplating here! This is the biggest decision in my life!)
(Don’t be deceived! You’re the final boss, Boss! You’re the bad guy!)
(You have no right to say that! You’re not supposed to worry about the protagonist!)
I was making a fuss with Taotie in my head, leaving Ryuuga waiting.
Ryuuga’s lips pressed her lips slightly tighter. Perhaps she’s urging me to hurry.
(Oh, but if you kiss Ryuuga, Boss, then perhaps it would be an indirect kiss for me? In that case, maybe it’s okay…)
(Are you in elementary school or something?!)
(In any case, now’s not the time to lose your way. If you reject Ryuuga, you’ll hurt her feelings, you know? Go for it, Boss!)
(Don’t rush me! If I make a mistake in my decision, I won’t be able to recover from it!)
Though, Taotie has a point. No doubt about it.
If it’s just a light, a really light, kiss that we’re doing, it should be fine, right? It’s probably fine.
(No no, I shouldn’t get too hasty! Purge my worldly desires! Clear away my wicked mind and become Saint Ichirou!)
While I was scolding myself, both of my hands grasped Ryuuga’s shoulders before I knew it. It seems I’m just like every other man in the end.
With the stars in the sky watching over, this kind of situation…is ideal for a heroine kiss scene. With that kind of excuse propelling me, I steadily drew closer to Ryuuga.
Then something happened once our lips were about a centimeter apart.
“A, a, achoo!”
Suddenly, there was a grand sneeze from behind.
Ryuuga and I both opened our eyes and turned to look behind.
Upon which──there were people peeking through the lodge’s slightly opened door. It was Kyouka and Kurogame. Their heads were on top of each other like a totem pole.
“Kyo, Kyouka! Rina too! You two weren’t sleeping?”
Ryuuga was in a panic at once, and I quickly separated from her.
Not being able to get out of my rigid state yet, I carefully observed the two with a wide open mouth like I was a clown.
“H, hey Rina! Doing that at such a critical time!”
Kurogame scratched her head as Kyouka reprimanded her.
Judging from their bickering, it seemed that it was Kurogame that sneezed. I never expected that it wasn’t just the stars in the sky that were watching us…!
“Y, y, you’ve got it wrong! We weren’t going to kiss! We were just going to stare at each other!”
Shaking her head and waving her hands around, Ryuuga was frantically trying to come up with an excuse. Steam was coming out of her head, and she turned bright red up to her ears.
(Boss. How about we kill that tortoise?)
(Stop. Even that tortoise is one of Ryuuga’s companion characters.)
…Perhaps this is good. I should instead be thankful of Kurogame for letting me slip out of this situation.
She saved me. It’s better for the daily life part if things end with just chatter rather than with some sloppy business. After all, the female protagonist’s lips shouldn’t be snatched away because of some kind of play.
“Kyouka. Absolutely do not tell father about this──”
As this was happening, I noticed something on the shoulder of Ryuuga, who had still lost her composure.
It was a comically shaped, cute mini-dragon. The dragon turned towards my direction and made a threatening growl for some reason.
That is──Ryuuga’s guardian deity, the “Yellow Dragon.” Also known as Ron.
(Could it be that this little fellow can sense Taotie’s ill will…?)
It’s possible. There’s no mistaking that guardian deities and evil demons are both deities. One could say that they’re of the same family, in a broad sense.
If that’s the case, this is pretty bad. Perhaps it might be better to avoid contact with Ryuuga hereafter.
“Ryu. Don’t mind us, it’s fine to continue on with Ii.”
“There’s nothing to continue!”
“Sorry, sister. You always told me that you wanted your first kiss under a starry sky…and it was about to come true…”
“Don’t reveal that, Kyouka!”
Thus, the night at the mountain went on.
Ryuuga’s and my first kiss ended as just an attempt.