Yukimiya shouted as Qiongqi grabbed Renie.
A yell reached every nook of the venue, and with it came a rumble in the ground. Upon looking, I found that Taotie gave Shiyuu a shoulder throw.
“Wahaha! Score! I win, monster!”
My “Evil Spirit” spoke in a carefree, delighted manner. It was a sumo match just a moment ago, and now it turned into a judo match.
It’s great that he won against the monster amalgamation, but now’s not the time to celebrate. Renie’s being taken away.
Held by Qiongqi’s enormous hand, the spider apostle groaned under the pressure. This is bad. At this rate, he’ll turn into food for Shiyuu, right after Saihiru!
After wiping his forehead in satisfaction, Taotie finally looked our way. Noticing that Renie was in Qiongqi’s hand, he let out a “Huh?” in dimwitted way.
In response, Qiongqi scratched his mask with his left hand.
“Color me surprised, Tie. To think Shiyuu would be no match for you, even after taking in Saihiru…were you always that strong? Weren’t you just a mere dimwit?”
“Who are you calling a dimwit?! You think I’d lose to this greenhorn here?! Hey Qiongqi, give back that spider! If not, I’ll perform a Texas Cloverleaf hold on this thing…”TLNThe Texas Cloverleaf hold is some kind of pro wrestling hold.
Taotie tried to use Shiyuu as a hostage. However, Qiongqi snapped his fingers before Taotie could do anything.
Shiyuu’s body immediately disappeared, similar to when an apostle turned into a soul, dispersing into numerous particles. The particles immediately flew towards Qiongqi and into the old gourd.
(Did he recover Shiyuu? He can revert the souls to their original state?)
Once he closed the lid of the gourd, Qiongqi once again gave his vessel a warning.
“Now Agito, that’s enough for today.”
“Ridiculous. My match with Kobayashi isn’t over yet.”
“He kicked your stomach quite hard, didn’t he? Kobayashi boy’s no easy opponent when you’re in that state. It’s better to retreat, don’t you think?”
Agito still glared at me, but before long, he reluctantly turned around.
It seems that he decided to listen to the “Evil Spirit.” However, we couldn’t let them go. Not when Renie wasn’t free yet.
I shouted at Agito and Qiongqi as they walked away. Surprisingly, Taotie yelled the same words as me, causing us to harmonize.
“If you’re leaving, then put down Renie! He’s not your subordinate! He’s part of Tao’s faction!”
“Sorry to say, but Renie’s mine. By offering his soul, Shiyuu will power up once more…aren’t you glad that the story will liven up?”
In response to Qiongqi’s words, Yukimiya stood up with a pale face.
“What do you mean? You must be the ‘Evil Spirit’ Qiongqi, right? What do you mean by…offering Sebastian’s soul…?!”
“I believe this is the first time we’ve met, ‘White Tiger.’ It’s exactly as I’ve said. Now then, I’m taking Renie.”
Yukimiya, understanding his intentions, immediately broke into a sprint. However, Jyuri seized her arms from behind, preventing her from moving.
“Let go! Qiongqi’s going to turn Sebastian into a soul and feed him to that monster!”
“Calm down, Yukimiya. Renie’s beyond saving now.”
Of course, Jyuri’s cold words didn’t convince Yukimiya. They didn’t convince me either.
I was thinking about bringing back Renie myself…but the moment the thought came to my head, something happened.
Renie himself gave some words of restraint.
Inside the hands of Qiongqi, the spider apostle spoke with gasping breaths. Despite his words, I didn’t have it in me to run away. Renie, in serious condition, no longer has the strength to break free on his own!
“It would be wrong for you to help me after I…tried to eliminate Jyuri…”
“You made up for it by protecting Jyuri! You can’t leave without the permission of the story planner!”
“Please understand…that was to repay for…going against Tao’s wishes and tormenting Miss Shiori…”
Renie turned his gaze towards my direction. More specifically, towards the direction of his lord, who was struggling to break free from Jyuri with tears on her face.
“Miss Shiori…I wanted to commit to one last duty as Sebastian, but…it seems that backfired…I’m sorry.”
“Stop, Sebastian! Don’t say goodbye!”
“I’m very pleased that…you think we’re ‘family’…but, you should forget about me already…”
“I would never forget my family! Wait there, Sebastian! I’ll help you!”
However, Jyuri wouldn’t let her. Not only that, she urged me to hold back as well.
“Ichirou, we can’t stop Renie’s abduction. This is our loss. There’s nothing we can do anymore.”
The king cobra apostle’s cold words disappointed me.
Well, I suppose in Jyuri’s eyes, Renie hasn’t been forgiven. It’s likely that he’s not only her sworn enemy, but also Mion and Kiki’s sworn enemy as well. But even so…
“If we make a move, Qiongqi will instantly get rid of Renie. Perhaps some would consider that favorable. After all, the spirits Qiongqi personally kills himself won’t enter Shiyuu.”
“And if we let him get away, Shiyuu will end his life instead!”
“I know. However, I suggest we don’t approach, even if that means Renie will become Shiyuu’s food.”
“That way──Yukimiya Shiori won’t have to witness the moment Renie dies. I think that’s a greater risk to avoid than strengthening Shiyuu.”
As Jyuri flatly said that, she unmistakably donned the face of Hebizuka.
Still, if Qiongqi kills Renie here, then he won’t become Shiyuu’s feed. In any case, since the spider apostle’s fate is sealed, that would be the best scenario.
…No, wait. What’s good about that scenario? Is it worth it to have Yukimiya watch Renie die? Is it worth it to watch her heart tear itself apart?
My mind quickly cooled down.
(I shouldn’t be emotional. No matter what we do in this situation, Qiongqi will kill Renie before we can get anything done…he has us in a corner.)
I couldn’t move anymore. Taotie also racked his brain, unable to figure out a good strategy.
Thereupon, Renie spoke once more.
“Sorry for the trouble, Jyuri…I never thought I would be thanking you…”
“Don’t thank me. I’m the one abandoning you.”
The king cobra apostle and spider apostle stared at each other from a distance away.
For some reason, Agito stood there, exposing his back to us.
“Jyuri, I’ve told you before that…I, Rikushou Renie, always serve Taowu no matter what…that is my pride…”
“That’s right. I’m pretty sure I responded by asking if that was just you being a stubborn geezer.”
“Laugh if you want. I’ve already lost my pride as an apostle long ago…how shameless I was to spout such a thing…while having two lords…”
“I think you’re better that way.”
Jyuri brushed her blonde hair and spoke. Her usual lewd self was nowhere to be seen.
“Renie, leave the rest to me. I, Genshou Jyuri, will take over the role of…protecting Tao and Yukimiya Shiori.”
With those words as a cue, Agito began to silently walk. Qiongqi floated above him, and they disappeared into the dim abandoned factory with Renie. Perhaps they were planning to exit the building from the back.
I wanted to chase after them. However, even if I do that…I won’t be able to save Renie.
While at a loss for what to do, I watched as Agito left.
(Hey, Sonny. Give up on Renie. He did as he pleased, and was prepared to face the consequences.)
Hundun’s voice resounded in my head. I completely forgot about him. I ended up having Taotie fight for the duration of the whole confrontation.
“Say, Uncle Hundun. Was Renie’s plan really the right thing to do? What about moving into Kyouka instead of Agito…?”
(Actually, I warned Renie against that. I told him ‘If you lay a hand on Kyouka, your death will not be painless.’)
It seems that Renie replied to that with “I will keep that in mind.” I wonder if he didn’t want to stir up trouble with any “Evil Spirit” other than Qiongqi.
(A human who would cause no trouble if they vanished from Yukimiya’s sight. That’s probably what he considered optimal for Tao’s vessel. You and Kyouka don’t fit the bill for that.)
Looking at Yukimiya, she fell down on the ground, crying.
Perhaps inside, Tao was crying as well. Perhaps she’s mourning over her own inability…to prevent Renie from being taken away.
(By the way, Sonny. I’ve got a wise idea, listen closely. There may still be a possibility──that we can get Renie back.)
Hundun’s surprising statement made me let out a voice.
At that same moment, Jyuri stood right in front of Yukimiya.
“Just be lucky that you don’t have to watch Renie’s final moments. Furthermore, please listen to what I have to say. There still might be a chance──to get Renie back.”
Yukimiya’s eyes widened upon hearing that. Oddly enough, it seems that Hundun and the king cobra apostle had the same idea.
(Oh. Does Jyuri have the same idea as me?)
I impatiently inquired Hundun after he said that in a low voice.
“W, what do you mean? There’s a way to prevent Renie from dying?”
(I never said that. Renie is definitely being fed to Shiyuu. There’s no changing that.)
“Then what’s the point?!”
(I’m talking about what happens after that. That is, ‘taking Renie back after he becomes part of Shiyuu.’ Do you get what I mean by that, Sonny?)
No, I don’t. There’s a way to save Renie, even after he’s been fed to Renie…?
Perhaps hearing my voice, Jyuri turned towards me.
“It’s Gazari, Ichirou. Though, I only heard about him from Kiki.”
While I was trying to figure out who that was, Hundun spoke.
(That was a soldier who’d previously been food for Shiyuu. Qiongqi said something a while back. He told us that he doesn’t fully understand his ability yet. Perhaps we know one thing that he doesn’t.)
What Hundun and Jyuri were talking about gradually became clearer.
A certain memory sprung up in my mind. Gazari was a lizard apostle that Shizuma defeated at the riverbed.
There, we met an apostle amalgamation for the first time…though that was actually the second prototype for Shiyuu. During that time, Hundun yanked out Shiyuu’s arm, “resurrecting” Gazari.
Did Qiongqi watch that fight take place? If he didn’t, then he might not know about that fact. He might not know that Shiyuu had such a quirk.
“In other words, a soul separated from Shiyuu…returns to being an apostle?”
(We can’t say for sure. That’s why I said it’s only a possibility. However, it’s worth a try.)
I think I see a silver lining.
It’s definitely a promising idea. If Gazari, a mere soldier, can resurrect, then there’s no reason why a general like Renie can’t do the same!
I immediately explained it to Yukimiya, as if it was my own idea.
“If we pull out an arm from the apostle amalgamation, Sebastian will come back…?”
“That’s right, Yukimiya! It’s too early to give up hope! Your episode might not have a bad ending!”
I shook Yukimiya’s shoulder in an attempt to cheer her up. Thereupon, Jyuri placed her hand over her cheek and voiced her concern.
“Though, how will we pinpoint which part contains Renie so that we can pull him out? Three other generals, Balon, Higaia, Saihiru, along with fourteen commanding officers are in there too…so if you think about it, there’s a one in eighteen chance that we’ll get the right one.”
That’s true, I suppose we’d have to keep trying until we eventually pull Renie out.
Even if we get the wrong one, Shiyuu will weaken due to missing an apostle. The probability that we get the right one will also increase, so there’s no loss in taking the gamble.
“Alright, Tie! Let’s go to a shrine tomorrow and draw fortunes! Let’s train our luck!”
As I gave my order, I stared at Taotie in front of me, who was lying down on the ground.
“I’m tired…I don’t feel like doing anything else today…”
“Is now the time to be worn out?! Your disorderly life is the reason why you’re in that sorry state right now! Lately, you’ve been getting flabby as well!”
“P, please stop. That smarts.”
I gnashed my teeth with watching the “Evil Spirit” rub his stomach with a pout.
Suddenly, Jyuri staggered and fell down.
How could I have forgotten? She hadn’t fully recovered yet. She’s still full of wounds.
Yukimiya quickly held up Jyuri. She placed the king cobra apostle on her lap while activating her healing ability.
“These wounds are bad…did you really hold me down while in this state?”
“You were surprisingly strong, making it hard to keep you still. Well, that shows how much you wanted to take Renie back…*sigh*, it’s thanks to that spider that I’m alive…”
I briefly told Yukimiya about how Jyuri tried to protect her back then. Yukimiya listened silently, then straightened her back and gave her thanks.
“Thank you, Jyuri. It seems I owe you a big favor.”
“If you think so, then how about acknowledging me as a school teacher?”
“…I understand. I will put faith in you. That being the case, I won’t chase after Sebastian right now. I believe that we will rescue him eventually.”
“Is that alright? Renie will die…perhaps even today.”
“Of course, it aches my heart. I want to chase after him, even now. However, I can bear with it. If Qiongqi kills him──I won’t ever get him back.”
That’s right. There’s no point in being hasty and forcing Qiongqi kill Renie himself. Ironically, having him become part of Shiyuu is the only way to save him.
Did Jyuri stop Yukimiya and me with that in mind? Of course, it’s likely that her main reason was to “not let Yukimiya witness the moment Renie dies.”
(Our eldest daughter is quite the ruffian, being able to trick Qiongqi. It seems she’s more than just a lewd lady.)
The eldest daughter in question had a better complexion now that she was being healed.
“Well, Renie has fought in the human world for hundreds of years, so I don’t think this is the first time he’s died. In the first place, he’s not going to truly die, so don’t worry too much about it.”
A single tear from Yukimiya dripped onto Jyuri’s face.
She must have had it rough. However, Yukimiya had regained her composure. Her strong emotional strength is what makes her the “Shrine Maiden of Life”…and Tao’s vessel.
“Jyuri, there’s something you said earlier. You mentioned that you would protect Tao and me.”
“What about it?”
“Will you help me…get Sebastian back?”
The king cobra apostle remained silent for a while, staring at Yukimiya.
“Are you making that request as a student of Oumei High School, not as the successor of the ‘White Tiger’?”
“Yes. This is my request as Yukimiya Shiori. A request not to save Rikushou Renie, but my butler Sebastian.”
Hearing those words, Jyuri soon nodded. The eldest daughter was eager to cooperate, but couldn’t say it honestly. Perhaps the second daughter’s tsundere-ness is rubbing off on her.
“In that case, I’ll lend you my power. Not as Genshou Jyuri, but as the school nurse Hebizuka Ai.”
“I should mention that the name Ai came from the I-cup I have. Though, it might become a J-cup soon.”
The moment Jyuri said that, Yukimiya moved her knees away.
With a dull thud, the king cobra apostle’s head dropped to the floor. In response, Jyuri let out a strange groan, one that didn’t suit her.
“Oh, my bad.”
“You dropped me on purpose!”
“That’s because I can’t stay still.”
“I know you can! I’m your patient, you know? An injured nurse, you know?”
“I oughta beg ya pardon, Jyuri.”
“Don’t pretend to be Tao! You didn’t change places with her!”
I thought that they had finally gotten along, but…it seems that they still aren’t on good terms.