It’s been four days since Yukimiya came to the house. It’s Thursday, only three days away from the school festival.
Unfortunately, Renie still hasn’t shown up. Due to that, preparations for the school festival have been proceeding steadily.
While watching out for Qiongqi, Ryuuga and the others were having some busy days, preparing their classes’ attractions at school and going to the studio after school.
While I was preparing glow sticks, happi coats, and other items for the stage performance, I also continued searching for Renie during my free time each day. Of course, I didn’t spare any cooperation with the class.
(Renie, come out already…where are you dawdling around?)
Ignoring the matters of Tao and the three princesses, he’s the only problem remaining before part three, the Qiongqi arc, can start.
I want to know whether or not he’s nearby Qiongqi. It’s for Yukimiya’s sake, too. It’s also for the story’s sake.
(Once the school festival ends, the Qiongqi arc will start. Before that happens, I need to find Renie and confirm what his position is…)
I spent my lunch break while feeling frustrated, and soon the afternoon class began.
Ordered by the class, I ended up having to leave the school and head to a supermarket. They asked me to buy ingredients like coffee beans and sugar, along with supplies like napkins and paper plates.
Since the school festival is imminent, starting from today, the afternoon will be used for preparations. This applies to all classes, not just second year Class B.
“I’m free as well, so I’ll go too. There’s probably a lot to carry.”
Ryuuga, who shrewdly requested to come with me, walked with me to the supermarket. She also wanted to take a breather from the chaos and return to being a girl, even for just a moment.
“Ryuga, did you try on the maid clothes already?”
“Yeah, I did just a while back. Right now, Tenryouin’s trying them on. As I thought, it disgusted me.”
“I also tried them on, but even I was disgusted at myself…I think it would’ve been better to have the girls be maids, like usual…”
“What~, you were cute, Ichirou. Wouldn’t you look good even in a bunny girl outfit? Do you want to try one on at my house? You’ll be bunny boy though.”
“No. A bunny with a bulge is the stuff of nightmares.”
…Agito and I haven’t talked much since that one time. I asked “Is Renie in your apartment building?” once.
His answer was no.
It seems that the spider apostle came to see Qiongqi twice, but he’s still obsessive about being “Tao’s close associate.” Well, who knows if I should trust Agito’s information.
(Come to think of it, Agito doesn’t know about Ryuga and the others doing a band, right?)
If he hears about it, he might try to jump in and participate. There’s a risk him doing a bass duo with Ryuuga.
It’s my duty to prevent that. A live performance of the main characters needs no extra members. Neither friend characters nor enemy characters are necessary.
Unaware of my thoughts, Ryuuga smiled at me.
From the moment we walked together, I felt as if she was a little more mature. Or rather, she feels very womanly…can she hide her identity as a girl until graduation?
“Shiori’s attending school every day and she seems to be in perfect shape. I hope nothing happens until the school festival though.”
“What’s Yukimiya’s class doing?”
“Shiori’s Class C is doing a matchmaking game.”
Apparently, boys and girls are divided into groups of six people for a “make-believe matchmaking.” In the end, people nominate who they like, and if the feelings are mutual, they form an official couple. It’s all just a game though.
“If I remember correctly, Rina’s class E is doing a haunted house. Rei’s class A is doing some kind of hero show. They even made a part of the schoolyard their stage.”
“Huh. As I thought, the third year students are doing something different.”
“Furthermore, Rei is playing the leading hero. I need to go see it.”
A matchmaking game, a haunted house, and a hero show? Taking the band performance into account, it seems that everyone has their hands busy with the school festival.
We arrived at the supermarket, so we decided to split up and roam the store efficiently.
Leaving the supplies to Ryuuga, I headed towards the food section. I went to get coffee beans first, and for a brief while, compared the prices and volumes of the products, until…
“…Kobayashi, you seem well.”
Behind me, I heard a deep voice greet me. It came from the aging butler, the very person I’ve been searching for.
I turned around in a hurry, and sure enough, there stood Sebastian wearing a tailcoat.
With his usual polite mannerisms, he courteously bowed. As always, his hair was solidified with pomade and his moustache was carefully tended to.
“Where have you been this whole time?! Why did you reveal Yukimiya’s true identity?! Why have you been contacting Qiongqi without telling anyone?! Why are you wearing a formal dress despite being off duty?!”
“Please calm down. We shouldn’t stand around while talking, so why don’t we take this outside?”
Anyhow, it’s fortunate that we met. I can ask him about his position now. I’ll also get him to speak with Yukimiya.
I responded to Renie with “Alright,” and we both headed towards the exit.
“──Hold it, both of you.”
A girl approached us from the side while saying that. At first, I was alarmed, thinking it was Ryuuga, but it was the phony schoolgirl wearing a sailor suit.
“M, Mion? Why are you here…?”
“I was buying ingredients for dinner, you know? I saw Hinomori Ryuuga just over there and fled here. It’ll be troublesome if she spots me…thanks to a certain someone.”
With a sharp tone of voice, the heron apostle glared at the orb-weaving spider apostle. She had an unfriendly attitude, imitating the king cobra apostle.
“Mion…well, no matter. Now then, let’s move, Kobayashi.”
Ignoring the fact that he just met a fellowman he didn’t see for hundreds of years, Renie turned around.
When I was about to quickly follow him, Mion suddenly grabbed my sleeve and held me back.
“W, what? If we pass up this chance, who knows when we’ll see Renie again?”
“Not that, leave the coffee beans behind. You didn’t purchase them yet, did you?”
…I almost became a shoplifter.
About a minute passed. We moved to a bicycle parking lot behind the supermarket.
Mion and I faced Renie, who had been waiting for us earlier.
There’s not much time to spare. Ryuuga will probably finish buying supplies in the span of five minutes.
In this situation, I only need to ask the important things. Namely, what is Renie’s true motive, and what side is he on? As for the rest, I can ask when I invite him to my house. Yukimiya will be there as well.
“Kobayashi. First of all, I apologize for the incident at the graveyard the other day.”
Before I could speak, Renie bowed deeply.
“I won’t make any excuses, what happened there was my doing. In order to get Qiongqi’s trust, I had to resort to those measures…I’m here today to apologize.”
“Do you actually plan on allying with Qiongqi?”
“The weak do what they must As I’ve said before, I am currently Taowu’s only subordinate. It would not be wise to make an enemy of Qiongqi right now.”
“In that case, why can’t you ally with us? Tao is much safer that way, and it’s also what she wants──”
“You mean to throw away my pride as an ‘Apostle of Hell’ and ally with the ones who’ve sided with humanity?”
At that moment, Renie’s eyes glowed with a threatening light.
“Certainly, it would be reasonable to ally with you and defeat Qiongqi. After all, you have two ‘Evil Spirits’ on your side…Hundun and Taotie.”
The spider apostle immediately continued, saying “But.”
“What will happen after defeating Qiongqi? If my lord remembers her longstanding grudge…she will definitely regret mistaking her allies.”
“So, who should my lord side with right now? The ally of humanity, Kobayashi? Or, the enemy of humanity, Tenryouin Agito?”
In other words, Renie ultimately…couldn’t accept “coexistence with humanity.”
Even if it meant angering Tao, he chose his instinct as an “Apostle of Hell.”
A conversation I had with him immediately came to mind. The spider butler gave me a specific answer when I asked “Do you oppose coexisting with humans?”
──It’s been a long time since I’ve come to the human world. From my experience, it’s not impossible for humans and apostles to coexist. However…this may sound a bit vague, but I wonder if ‘that’s really okay.’──
It seems that those words were more deeply rooted in Renie’s heart than I thought.
So, he chose to stick with his pride as an apostle. Against Tao’s wishes, he decided to make himself an enemy character.
“Well, I don’t mind purging you here.”
Mion, who had been silent until now, suddenly took a step forward. Bloodlust filled her voice.
“That is an act of hostility towards Taotie and Hundun. In addition, that’s a breach of Tao’s trust…there’s plenty of reasons to kill you. Ichirou, can I take care of him?”
That’s not good. If a battle starts here, Ryuuga will rush out of the store.
Even if Renie ends up being an enemy, I need to have him speak with Yukimiya.
If he leaves the stage without that happening, Yukimiya’s episode will be left incomplete. It would be absurd to tell her “Sorry, Renie was an enemy, so we purged him.”
“Settle down, Mion. I don’t want to end things with Renie here.”
“It’ll be alright. I won’t lose. I’ll win and have you fall in love with me all over again!”
“Stop exaggerating things! Not just with the battle, but also with me!”
Restrained, the sidetailed girl gave me a look of disapproval. In response, the combed-haired butler grinned.
“Stop it, Mion. There’s no reason a maiden like you could kill me.”
…Did I hear that wrong? I have a feeling that just now, Renie said something outrageous. Did he make a sexual insult, something unbecoming of him?
However, Mion reddened and she glared at Renie in anger. Thereupon, I heard another outrageous thing.
“I am not a maiden. I’ve had experience with many people after coming here.”
“Were they all apostles? Those don’t count.”
“Then let’s test it out. Let’s see how long you can last.”
I need some clarification. They’re talking about battles, right? This isn’t about dating, right?
“You and I have had completely different experiences. One dealt with humans, the other with apostles.”
“How smug of you…how many have you done it to?”
“Too many to count.”
“Oh? Then, are you going to do it to me? Or will you back out?”
“It doesn’t matter what you say, I’ve made my choice. Let your body experience…my special move.”
Wait a minute! Don’t lay a hand on the middle daughter of the household! No special move!
Right before I could retort, Renie shrugged his shoulders and smiled sarcastically.
“Apologies, Kobayashi. For those who have no experience killing, us ‘Apostles of Hell’ label them as virgins and maidens. It seems we misled you.”
“In other words, this man’s an utter villain. Though he has a policy of only killing those who oppose him, he’s a complete pro in terms of his kill count. He’s a veteran actor.”
So that’s what they meant? In other words, Renie won’t harm peaceful humans. He only deals with professional killers. It’s fortunate that his pride results in such a policy.
Mion revealed the feathers on her neck, prepared for war.
In response, Renie loosened his tie.
…I noticed a colorful ring on his right index finger. It was a toy ring made of beads, unusual for the butler of a large company. Well, now’s not the time to worry about that.
“Calm down, Mion! I understand how much experience you have now!”
“Don’t say it so loudly! For your information, we don’t mean maiden in a lewd way! That’s important!”
“Anyways, I won’t allow a battle! Renie, I don’t care if you’re becoming an enemy, but hear me out on one thing!”
“What is it?”
“Talk with Yukimiya! If you’re going to part with her, at least do it properly!”
“That is not necessary. Since Shiori is living in your house, that means she has no intention of giving up her identity as the successor of the ‘White Tiger.’ Unfortunately──she’s not qualified for being my lord’s vessel.”
“Is there anyone who even understands Tao to the degree that Yukimiya does?! You’ve also spent seventeen years with Yukimiya──”
“It’s all for my lord. For the sake of making Taowu the champion among the four fiends.”
All he thinks about is Tao…does Yukimiya Shiori mean anything to him?
“Hey Renie, do you remember? You’ve thanked me once before.”
As Sebastian, there was something he said to me.
──I truly thank you for treating the young lady with kindness.──
──After entering Oumei High School, the young lady has become quite lively.──
──This is thanks to you, Hinomori, and the others.──
“Oh…that small talk.”
“Yukimiya and Tao are getting closer. They even talked about having Tao be a foster daughter, you know? Is your pride as an apostle more important?”
“That is my raison d’être. I’ll fight for Taowu and lead her to eventual victory, even if it means turning back on my lord.”
“Give up. The winner of this battle won’t be any of the ‘Evil Spirits.’ It’ll be Hinomori Ryuuga.”
“Kobayashi Ichirou…don’t you mean yourself?”
That sudden question upset me greatly.
“I, I am just a friend character!”
“You mean that you’ll assassinate Hinomori Ryuuga in her sleep and become the ultimate victor?”
“No! No way!”
“You’re a frightening man.”
“Don’t arbitrarily turn me into a betraying character! Don’t make me knock you out!”
When I was about to prepare for war, Mion was the one calming me down this time. She scolded me by saying “Can’t you let him finish?”
“The most terrifying thing about you is that you have complete control over Taotie and Hundun. Of course, both ‘Evil Spirits’ are threats, but Taotie is the one to be cautious of.”
Well, I suppose he has a point. While Hundun has only recovered thirty to forty percent of his strength, Taotie is at full power. In fact, he’s so energetic that it’s a problem.
“Furthermore, Taotie has cleaned a plate of Miss Shiori’s cooking…hearing such a thing shocked me.”
“His stomach is his only strong point!”
“He buys sweets at the convenience store each day, and he’s engrossed with playing video games until late at night…hearing that relieved me. I’m glad that he’s not my lord.”
“Don’t disrespect the ‘Evil Spirit’ of another home! You’re not that kind of character!”
“The other day, I saw Taotie playing card games with children at a park. When I saw that, it made me want to cry.”
“I’m the one who wants to cry! Those people definitely thought that was me!”
Thereupon, Renie said “Oops,” calmed down, and turned around.
“Talking with you made me feel unwell…now then, excuse me.”
I felt a bit exhausted upon seeing Renie leave.
There’s more I wanted to say to him, but I’m already out of time. Ryuuga’s probably looking for me.
(This was an important conversation with Renie, and yet we spent a needless amount of time talking about Tie…)
Agito and Renie…is it my fault that the enemy characters are becoming more comical?
Do I carry a Kobayashi virus that infects a serious character with comedy?