It happened three days ago.
I led Kyouka, who had arrived without any prior notice and introduced the “Evil Spirit” Hundun, to my living room while bewildered.
We sat across a table and faced each other. Kyouka was silent as she watched steam rising from her teacup.
(This kind of reminds me of that time when Ryuuga revealed that she was a girl…)
However, the shaggy middle-aged man sitting next to Kyouka was definitely different from back then.
Then, sitting next to me was a boy who looked just like me, as if we were two peas in a pod.
“Kobayashi. This conversation doesn’t leave this room.”
Before long, Kyouka resolved herself and began to speak.
“To tell the truth, I knew about it already. I knew that you were Taotie’s vessel, Kobayashi.”
“Yeah. Of course, the one who told me that was Hundun. At first, he thought that it was his imagination, but he was completely convinced at Chigayama…”
Following that, Hundun calmly nodded while holding a teacup.
“The one who played with Hinomori Ryuuga at the river wasn’t you, but Tie, right Sonny? Come to think of it, he indeed could act separately from his host. Once I saw that, I understood, even though I didn’t like it.”
Who would have thought that she would be able to see through that substitution trick we did? And here I thought that it was a perfect disguise…Well, Ron also figured it out, though.
“I suppose you’re surprised, right? When I said to Hinomori Ryuuga that “sooner or later, the other three rulers will revive,” I was just being a loser unwilling to admit defeat, but…I never would have thought that a fellowman would reawaken and wear a leopard print speedo.”
When Hundun laughed scornfully, Taotie immediately got angry.
“S, shut up, you dotard! I’ll gouge out your guts and use your small intestine as a jump rope!”
“And just who are you talking to? You’ve got some nerve to say such unpleasant things.”
The “Evil Spirits” stared at each other with bloodthirst. They looked like delinquents.
…It’s not really something worth caring about, but it seems that “Evil Spirits” have a small intestine too. That doesn’t really matter, though.
“So, Kyouka. Other than me being Taotie’s vessel, what else are you here to talk about…?”
I continued the conversation while ignoring the two “Evil Spirits.”
Before I knew it, the three princesses were kneeling side-by-side beside me. Since this matter isn’t entirely unrelated to them, I suppose it wouldn’t be an issue for them to stay.
“Hey. Before that, let me check something, Sonny.”
Thereupon, before Kyouka could speak, Hundun opened his mouth. He’s quite the talkative “Evil Spirit.”
“Kobayashi Ichirou, I’ll say it bluntly. It seems that you──have ‘converted’ Tie.”
I blinked in surprise while looking at Hundun, who had leaned forward. What was he talking about?
While I was bewildered, the three princesses behind me knew what was going on and gasped in surprise.
Then, I could hear them whisper “As I thought…”, “I felt that something was suspicious,” and “Oh my, you too Kiki?” I grew increasingly uneasy about what the girls seemed to be talking about.
“Um, by ‘converted,’ you mean…?”
“It’s when the human who’s supposed to be the vessel is the one controlling the ‘Evil Spirit.’ And so they become that person’s guardian deity. Similar to the ‘Yellow Dragon’ and the other four gods.”
“S, such a thing…”
“This is something unprecedented. However, the possibility of it happening isn’t zero. Hey, what’s wrong Tie?”
When Hundun brought up the subject, Taotie took offense and turned away. That only confirms it.
…Come to think of it, Taotie had said something before. He said “It’s probably impossible for me to take over your consciousness,” and “If I don’t handle myself well, then I’d be the one in danger of being taken over instead.”
Could it be that Taotie attempted to take control over me in the past?
And what happened was that he “didn’t handle himself well”?
If that’s the case, that must be why I feel that I’m always the dominant one whenever we fight. It’s not that Taotie wasn’t making a serious effort, but that he couldn’t. Even if he could, it wouldn’t amount to anything!
Perhaps judging what happened based on Taotie’s reaction, Hundun made a bitter smile.
“It’s as I thought. We both messed up…didn’t we, Tie?”
When he said those words, I finally understood.
I had been bothered by Kyouka and Hundun’s relationship for a while. It seemed that Kyouka was dominating the “Evil Spirit.”
“By that, you mean…”
“Right. I’ve also been ‘converted.’ Kyouka was the one who did it.”
When Hundun bluntly affirmed it, Kyouka stepped in and said “In my case, it’s because Hundun had lost most of his power, though…”
…To sum it up, Hundun, who was thought to have vanished after being defeated by Ryuuga, only had enough strength to barely avoid falling asleep. However, it seemed that he could no longer oppose Kyouka’s force of will, and instead became ‘converted.'”
As expected of the Hinomori household’s daughter…Hundun made a big mistake choosing her as the vessel to dwell in.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s as Tie has said, I’m just a dotard now. I managed to avoid falling asleep, but I don’t have much power remaining.”
While speaking in bitterness, Hundun poured some tea into his cup. In addition, he went as far as to pour tea into Kyouka’s cup as well, quite like he was her underling.
“In my current state, I can’t even open doors to the spirit world. Or rather, I can’t defy Kyouka’s orders. So I’ve just resigned myself. At least, I’d like to change hosts and get rid of this ‘conversion.'”
Hundun made a complaint at the end, Kyouka probably wouldn’t allow such a reckless action.
Hinomori Kyouka’s strong force of will has caused Hundun to become harmless. At any rate, she’s a strong person who has continued to resist Hundun even before he had lost his power.
He couldn’t sleep and he couldn’t get permission from his host to “change residence.”
As a result, Hundun had been driven into a corner.
“The Hinomori household doesn’t know either that…an ‘Evil Spirit’ only sleeps when defeated. That’s how the four fiends work. We just thought that ‘Evil Spirits’ were all the same.”
Sipping some tea, Kyouka spoke once more. Her eyes, their piercing gaze, and their dignified gleam are things that she and her sister have both inherited.
“So as long as I’m here, Hundun won’t be a threat to humanity. Now that it’s been confirmed that ‘Evil Spirits’ don’t vanish…I don’t think that recklessly knocking them down will solve anything.”
Indeed, it would be a fruitless cycle of “Evil Spirits” repeatedly reviving and falling asleep. It seems that the Hinomori household’s mission won’t end permanently.
Someone, somewhere needs to stop this cycle.
And, now that Hundun and Taotie have been “converted,” now might be the best chance.
“Now that Hundun is like this, he’s a pretty reasonable person when you face him properly. Taotie’s the same, right?”
Kyouka smiled at the other person who looked like me.
In face of such a pure gaze, Taotie looked away. For the first time, he lost in a staring contest. Perhaps he’s weak to the sister of the girl he likes.
“Now that you and I are vessels, it’s possible to peacefully speak with them. What I came to talk about is…how exactly we should tell that to my sister and the others.”
Then Kyouka’s facial expression clouded as she said “But.” The reason for that was obvious.
Right. I had declared war on Ryuuga and the others. I made my evilest face and designated a place and time.
“My sister had rushed out of the house with a frighteningly grim look, so I secretly followed her…and then saw what happened on top of the rooftop of that building.”
There’s no doubt that it was a big deal for Kyouka.
She planned on peacefully negotiating, but that had been ruined. After all, I had suddenly revealed myself and prattled on by saying something like “My wish…is to destroy the world.”
(I never would have thought that this is what she wanted to talk about…she’s definitely worried about what will happen in the future!)
(To think that it would have been better to ignore my promise with you, Boss…I could have been on good terms with Ryuuga if we just talked together and didn’t go through with the event where I supposedly reform!)
I was at my wits’ end, and so was Taotie. We let out our complaints within our remote communication.
…However, there’s something I’d like you to explain, Kyouka.
Since Taotie has revived, and since I’m his vessel, then surely I was fated to battle against Ryuuga. It’s impossible to have part two suddenly end with a reconciliation.
I have the ambition to fulfill my role as the final boss, relinquish my title as Ryuuga’s semi-boyfriend, and return to being “the protagonist’s friend character.” I will do anything for that.
Once I return to that position, I can live in peace.
And if she says that friendship between a man and woman is impossible, then I’m prepared to become an effeminate character.
(Of course, I understand Kyouka’s thoughts. Ryuga being able to end this conflict with the ‘Evil Spirits,’ which has been going on since ancient times…is something I can approve of. That’s exactly what my ideal protagonist would do.)
Just thinking about it excited me. I really hope that Ryuuga can fulfill such a great achievement. That being the case…
──While advancing the story in that direction, my wish could also be granted at the same time.
──I can return to being a friend character until I lead the story to a complete close.
I’ll liven up part two. While that happens, I’ll show that “‘Evil Spirits’ can be ‘converted’ into harmless people.”
I can’t return to being a member of the general public anymore, so I’ll compromise with this. By pretending that Taotie had weakened, just like Hundun, I won’t have anything to do with battling from now on.
I’ll become someone who focuses on the daily life part. When the remaining “Evil Spirits,” Qiongqi and Taowu, revive, I’ll secretly contact them and have them follow the example of “reconciliation after being defeated.” Even if I have to do it by brute force.
(In order to accomplish that, I’ll need Tie’s cooperation. Well, since this guy will do anything for Ryuga’s sake, he’ll probably be satisfied as long as I let him enjoy himself with Ryuga from time to time.)
In a flash, I worked out my plan.
I immediately faced Kyouka and bowed down. Not caring about my dignity, I knelt in front of the second-year junior high school student.
“Kyouka! There’s something I’d like to consult with you!”
“Could you lend me a hand?!”
“U, um, Kobayashi, please raise your head.”
Kyouka panicked as I pressed my forehead against the tatami mat floor.
At the same time, the three princesses behind me got up and left the room. It seemed they decided that subordinates probably shouldn’t watch such a sight…and decided to make the tactful decision.
“As you know, I, Kobayashi, have challenged Ryuga to a fight! It’s too late to back out now!”
“So please let me reconcile with Ryuga in a smooth and dramatic manner!”
Kyouka was at a loss on how to react. The two “Evil Spirits” were also speechless.
Of course, if I tried to explain about “part two” and the “final boss,” Kyouka would probably wonder what I was talking about. So, I used my vigor to coax her. I used the camaraderie between fellow “Evil Spirit” vessels.
“Though I like dialogues, I do think that Ryuga and the others would be more willing to listen if we show it to them through actions! Please, Kyouka! Please go along with my story!”
“That tone of voice and kneeling…Boss, has your character been affected by me?”
I grappled the frowning Taotie’s head and forcefully pinned it down. We’ll make this request together.
After that, with my pleas succeeding when I threw away my pride, Kyouka promised to cooperate on the basis that I was her “future brother-in-law.” Though I’m reluctant about it, it doesn’t really matter if she calls me her brother-in-law.
──Thus, I spent all day and night rebuilding the script and somehow managed to complete it by the appointed day.
The final battle had approached.
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