“Ryuuga, Two of these coffees for table three.”
“Alright, got it.”
Placing the cups she received from Elmira onto a tray, Ryuuga moved towards the customers on table three.
It was currently 2:30 in the afternoon. As soon as she returned to being a maid, the area became busy once more. Despite insisting that she was a boy, everyone kept giving her their phone numbers and Line IDs.TLNFor those unaware, Line is a messaging app popular in Japan.
(I’m glad that they think I’m cute, but…*sigh*, what’s Ichirou doing? I wonder if he found Mion and Kiki…)
She wanted to search for the two with him.
Though, she wasn’t really concerned about the three princesses. As far as she could see, they’ve been the same so far. It seems that they didn’t become enemies after all.
She honestly wanted to just have a date under the guise of a search. She to go around the many refreshment booths with her boyfriend. It was only natural for a maiden to have such thoughts, right?
(I had to let Goutokuji take pictures of me in a maid outfit a little while ago…I feel a bit down.)
Though, there was no use crying over spilled milk. She was student of class B, so she had to do her part to contribute.
Anyhow, there was about twenty minutes left in her shift. As for why, she had a band performance onstage at 3:30. She already informed her classmates about it.
(Come to think of it, where did Tenryouin go? I was worried that he would come back upon hearing that I was a maid again…)
If she recalled correctly, he also played the bass guitar. Well, she didn’t intend to compete with him though. It would be enough for her if she managed to earn Ichirou’s praise.
(If the performance goes well, I’ll have Ichirou pat my head. Then I’ll have him embrace me from behind while saying ‘You’re the best, Ryuga. I love you,’ to me…heheheh.)
She immersed herself in her delusions.
Ryuuga picked up the hem of her skirt while saying “Master, two coffees. Thank you for waiting, nyan.”
The main characters were busy with the festival event.
Meanwhile, two fierce battles were unfolding at the abandoned factory.
──The apostle amalgamation Shiyuu vs. my “Evil Spirit” Taotie.
──Qiongqi’s vessel Tenryouin Agito vs. the friend character Kobayashi Ichirou.
That first battle’s fine, but the second one’s a big problem. It’s definitely a matter that no one should see, a scene that shouldn’t exist.
“To think you could last this long…you really are my rival, Kobayashi.”
“Don’t make me out to be your rival! I am a friend character!”
Countless fists flew in the blink of an eye. Furthermore, kicks soared, aiming for my blind spots.
His kicks were bad, but I needed to be careful with his fists as well. Rings with unsettling designs of skulls and pentagrams fitted Agito’s fingers. Taking a punch to the face would do a number on me.
“Agito! Give up on Ryuga already! In exchange, I can introduce you to Goutokuji!”
“Who is that? Hinomori is the only suitable woman for me.”
“Ryuga’s a guy! I’ve seen it many times! He’s got a massive thing between his legs!”
“Again with that…Hinomori doesn’t have a member.”
“I’m telling you, he does! In fact, it looks like a dragon fang!”
“In that case, I’ll find a way to love her member.”
“A, are you sane?! He’s carrying a package in his pants, I said!”
Qiongqi criticized us, saying “Stop talking about that during battle.” The nerve that scheming fox has to leisurely watch from above!
“Say, Agito. You’re almost done, right? Why don’t we withdraw? There’s no need to settle things with Kobayashi boy in such a hurry.”
Agito didn’t listen to Qiongqi. He continued fighting while ignoring the words of the “Evil Spirit.”
“Good grief, what a troublesome vessel…hey Kobayashi boy, think wisely. Is it really alright for you to be focusing solely on Agito right now?”
It happened the moment Qiongqi said that. I felt a spine-chilling, powerful ill will from above.
Looking up, I found that the fox-masked “Evil Spirit” gathered a dark aura into both of his arms. I’ve seen that phenomenon before. Taotie and Hundun did the same thing before.
The “Evil Spirits” can release waves of ill will from their palms. It’s something akin to a cannon.
(Is Qiongqi going to intervene in this battle? Not good, if I take a hit from that at this distance, I’m dead meat! I won’t get off with just my hair being rustled!)
I was about to call out to Taotie in a panic, but he was busy grappling Shiyuu. Is this the time to be doing a sumo match?! Your vessel is in a tight situation right now!
However, something unpredictable occurred.
Qiongqi took the hand he held up and suddenly turned it the other way. He faced his palm towards the entrance of the factory, near an alley.
Over there stood Yukimiya, watching the scene.
“Too slow, Kobayashi boy.”
Immediately following, Qiongqi released waves of ill will from his five fingers. The five black bullets left a trail, soaring towards her like comets.
Agito’s attacking prevented me from moving. Likewise, Shiyuu stopped Taotie from taking any action.
Coinciding with my scream was a yell coming from Yukimiya herself.
“That ain’t gonna work on me!”
Once more, Tao manifested above Yukimiya’s head and flexed her arms like whips, striking down the wave attacks. It was like some kind of volleyball move.
“I ain’t lettin’ ya hurt Shiori!”
Oh, right. Tao did withdraw, but didn’t put Yukimiya back in control.
As expected of an “Evil Spirit,” she struck down all five wave attacks, despite being weakened. She didn’t earn the high score in that taiko game for nothing.
While loading the fingers on his right hand with more ill will, Qiongqi whistled while seeming impressed.
“Oh, I might have underestimated you, Tao. I thought that one shot would do it.”
“Qiong! I’m mad now! Makin’ apostles into food for monsters makes ya as bad as a pumpkin thief!”
“I hate pumpkins, you know.”
“Ya that picky of a guy?! Pumpkins pack a lotta nutrients!”
“I’d prefer if you didn’t talk about pumpkins while taking on that appearance.”
“I ain’t takin’ no advice from a fox!”
An angry Sadako-like “Evil Spirit,” and a giggling fox-like “Evil Spirit.”
Ugh…this scene should really be left on the cutting room floor. Here we have a friend character involved in a battle, and two “Evil Spirits” away from the protagonist, talking about pumpkins.
“No matter, Tao. I wonder how long you can defend against my attack? It’s been about a month since you’ve awakened, right? How acquainted are you with your vessel?”
Qiongqi unleashed wave attacks from his five fingers once more. Furthermore, he released more in succession.
“Let’s raise the difficulty a bit. Good luck.”
“T, this is like Oni Mode in that taiko game…!”TLNOni difficulty is the highest difficulty setting in Taiko no Tatsujin, the taiko rhythm game being referenced here.
As to be expected, Tao had a hard time putting up with dozens of black bullets.
Furthermore, each ill will had a different trajectory, making them hard to deal with. Fastballs, curveballs, sliders, shootballs, forkballs…Despite the starting lineup, those are some pretty good pitches.
“Guh, my hands are gettin’ numb…”
“Ahaha, hold out, Tao. Though, is it really okay to tackle my waves? I’m not referring to your wellbeing, but Yukimiya Shiori’s.”
Looking at Yukimiya, I found that despite being in a trance state, her face seemed warped with pain.
(Could it be that…Tao’s damage is carrying over to Yukimiya too?!)
Memories of when Hundun possessed Kyouka flashed into my mind.
At that time, the “Evil Spirit’s” damage transferred to his host as well. That’s an apparent risk when the “Evil Spirit” hasn’t been “converted” yet.
(This is getting bad. I need to save Tao and Yukimiya!)
However, I didn’t have the leeway to interfere with Qiongqi’s attacking.
Agito’s attacks were growing more and more intense. Instead of running out of breath, it seemed like his engine was warming up.
I felt uneasy…urged to do something.
Suddenly, one of the ill wills hit Tao and caused her to fall over backwards.
“Yes, game over. The cost for that──the destruction of your vessel.”
While saying that, Qiongqi held up his left hand. He had only used his right hand up to this point. He had been continuously gathering ill will in it, setting it aside for a massive attack.
Seeing the dire situation, I immediately tried to jump in order to kick Qiongqi’s left hand. However, Agito stopped my attempt. With the pivot of his leg, he prevented me from jumping.
“Don’t be distracted by other things. You’re opponent is──”
Without waiting for him to finish speaking, I immediately sent a kick towards Agito’s solar plexus. At that moment, the wave cannon on Qiongqi’s left hand went off. It went right towards Yukimiya, who stood defenseless.
Tao couldn’t brace herself. I didn’t have time to make it. Taotie didn’t either.
I thought it was hopeless at that point.
However, at that moment, the king cobra apostle stood before Yukimiya. It was the eldest daughter still riddled with injuries, whose blonde hair was disheveled.
“Ichirou, thank you for everything. Please take care of Mion and Kiki.”
The large wave approached Jyuri while she gave me a smile.
The entire scene leapt into my vision in slow motion. Thereupon──
The wave erupted in a direct hit. A torrent of black light burst, rolling up gusts of wind.
Eventually, the light and wind settled down, leaving only silence.
…In turned out that Jyuri was safe. Yukimiya and Tao were safe too.
The one who took the hit, and the one who pushed Jyuri out of the way at the last moment──was Renie.
Jyuri’s old rival, Tao’s trusted retainer, Yukimiya’s butler, and the orb-weaving spider apostle.
With a slight groan, Renie fell down. His whole body was charred black, smoke rising from him.
It’s impressive enough that he took the blow without vanishing instantly. Perhaps he was gifted with a sturdy physique.
“R, Renie…why did you…?”
Jyuri stared in amazement while on the ground.
Next, I heard a faint voice from Yukimiya. It seemed that she switched with Tao and understood the situation immediately.
The fox-masked “Evil Spirit” gave a small shrug towards the spider apostle on the ground.
“Oh my. So it’s going to be like that…? Though, it’s quite nice that you didn’t die instantly. With this, I’ll have the soul of another general.”
With a muffled laugh, Qiongqi spoke to Renie, who was on the verge of death.
“It’s such a shame that this is how you leave. It took a lot of effort for me to pretend we were allies, and I even had a plan to leave you sleeping with the fishes.”
Sleeping with fishes? While confused by his words, I ran straight towards Tao and the others. Agito, who had taken a kick from me, was crouching down.
As I was rushing towards them, Yukimiya held up Renie’s upper body. Oh, perhaps Tao switched with Yukimiya so that she could use her healing abilities.
“I know what you had in mind, Renie. You wanted to seal me and transfer Tao to Agito, right? You wanted him to have two ‘Evil Spirits’ like Kobayashi boy, didn’t you?”
Moving Tao to Agito? Have him hold two “Evil Spirits” like me?
Looking at Qiongqi, who was seven or eight meters away, I asked him “What do you mean?” Fortunately, it seemed that he stopped shooting his waves.
“It’s as I said. Though he would have two ‘Evil Spirits’ in him, I would fall under a deep slumber. By doing so──Agito would effectively be Tao’s exclusive vessel.”
Once again, Qiongqi’s explanation was not to the point.
That’s basically the same as changing Tao’s vessel. Besides, what’s the point of that?
While my bewilderment amplified, the fox-masked “Evil Spirit” continued his spiel. He talked as if speaking on behalf of the spider apostle.
“Renie, not knowing about Shiyuu, thought that the war had already been decided. Tie, Dun, and Tao all chose to coexist with humanity.”
“The only thing left to do would be to seal me. By the time I would resurrect once more, the relationship between humans and the ‘Apostles of Hell’ would have changed greatly. In other words, Renie was willing to secure the ‘story.'”
Yukimiya, Jyuri, and I all looked at the spider apostle.
However, he remained silent on top of Yukimiya’s lap. His six arms dangled, not making any movements, perhaps unconscious.
(Renie approved of coexisting with humans from the start…?)
Securing the story as he pleases would cause a bit of trouble, but his goal was the same as ours. His stance on opposing coexistence back at the supermarket’s bicycle parking lot was a lie.
“Renie was thinking about what would happen after that. Say, Kobayashi boy. If the battle with the ‘Apostles of Hell’ ends, what would Hinomori Ryuuga and the rest do?”
What would happen? They would go back to their normal lives.
The main characters, released from their fate, would each peacefully return to their lives. That’s how the end of the story would go.
That’s the conclusion I had in mind. Then, during the end credits, everyone’s daily lives would show up onscreen.
As if reading my thoughts, Qiongqi made a slight chuckle.
“There’s just one person…who wouldn’t live a normal life afterwards.”
Qiongqi pointed towards Yukimiya with a beast-like claw.
“She can’t live a normal life with an ‘Evil Spirit’ in her body. In other words, Yukimiya Shiori──can’t escape fate. The fate of being an ‘Evil Spirit’s’ vessel, that is.”
It finally clicked with me. Renie’s goal was to move Tao.
I see. His goal was to “liberate Yukimiya Shiori.” Liberate her from both the fate of battle and the fate of being a vessel.
Of course, when peace arrives, the main characters would still have their guardian deities. However, they wouldn’t need to summon them anymore. The “Yellow Dragon” and four gods are sacred beasts.
(However, Tao’s different. The ‘Evil Spirit’ has her own personality, eats and drinks, and wants to interact with humans. It’s not like she would fall into slumber by then, so we can’t ignore her.)
That’s why Yukimiya thought about “adopting Tao.”
The “Evil Spirit” could follow her for the rest of her life. I’m no stranger to this matter.
“Say, Kobayashi boy. Don’t you think Renie’s more wicked than me? He tricked both sides, tried to eliminate the three princesses to get close to me, and even tried to push Tao onto Agito.”
“Not even for Tao’s sake, but for the enemy, Yukimiya Shiori’s sake. It’s fine if that angers you too, you know.”
I have no right to judge him. After all, I’ve let my ego get the best of me as well.
Renie thinks of other lords as akin to insects. I believe Mion told me that.
It seems that she was right all along. It seems that he didn’t think much about the lives of Agito or the three princesses either. No wonder he didn’t ask for my help. He was going to follow through with sacrificing the three princesses.
All for the sake of his lord. However, Tao isn’t Rikushou Renie’s only lord anymore.
Even now, the spider apostle wore a ring of beads on his index finger…that alone is enough to tell the story.
“Though, Renie’s plan failed from the very beginning. He didn’t know about Shiyuu. Furthermore, he misjudged Tenryouin Agito as a vessel.”
Agito stood up, placing a hand over his abdomen where I had kicked him.
I did hold back, but that should’ve left a normal person on the ground for fifteen minutes. He could already move again.
“It seems that Renie found Agito to be a rare vessel. However, he thought that at best…he could only hold two ‘Evil Spirits,’ and that one of them would have to lie dormant.”
In other words, “converting” an “Evil Spirit” requires more power than just hosting two of them. He didn’t realize Agito’s capabilities.
“Agito being able to ‘convert’ us would be a big problem for Renie. If Tao was ‘converted’…then the hierarchical relationship between the ‘Evil Spirit’ and host would completely change.”
So that’s why Renie was so shocked earlier. He saw that Qiongqi didn’t take over Agito’s consciousness.
Agito would have power over an “Evil Spirit” residing in him. Just like how I have power over Taotie and Hundun.
“I assure you, Agito can ‘convert’ Tao without a doubt. I can also assure you that he’ll use her as a tool for destruction.”
Agito’s desire is to ‘see the demise of humanity.’ He’s been acting as my loyal marionette since our interests align.”
At that moment, the spider apostle on Yukimiya’s lap faintly opened his eyes.
However, his eyes were empty and lacked focus. Yukimiya continued trying her hardest to heal him, but it seems he still couldn’t get up.
Yukimiya gently stroked Renie’s face as he took painful breaths.
“Don’t speak, Sebastian. We can talk about it later. Of course, you’ll be hearing from both Tao and me. Let me heal you until then.”
“A normal life…for you is…”
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s a life with you and Tao. That’s what I want myself. So please…come back, Sebastian. I said it before, didn’t I? That even if you’re an ‘Apostle of Hell,’ you’re still my──”
A voice interrupted Yukimiya.
“Alright. Talk time’s over.”
Qiongqi’s reached out his right arm and flew towards us.
Jyuri and I immediately reacted to the approaching white-haired arm. However, our movements were blocked by bullets coming from his left arm.
Qiongqi’s right arm grabbed Renie’s body…
And took him away from Yukimiya.