The spirit world.
The stronghold for the “Apostles of Hell,” a world living in a separate space-time from the human world.
There was no sun, a land of perpetual darkness. Only a large moon stood in the starless black sky, illuminating the desolate lands, the steep mountains and seas of trees.
…Under such moonlight, there was one large town.
It resembled a European town from the Middle Ages, stone buildings decorated the old-fashioned scenery. The city stretched out far, surrounding a large castle in the center that stood on a hill.
“…There’s no day or night in this world. I feel like my senses are going crazy.”
The front of the large castle featured an entrance.
While staring up at the moon, Shizuma mumbled to himself.
A full moon glowing blood red meant that it was more or less “daytime.” There was no day or night in a world without sunlight, so months were tracked using the phases of the moon.
“How does the moon change shape when there’s no sun? Well, perhaps the moon works differently than on the human world…”
Before long, Shizuma grew tired of staring at the moon and turned towards the castle entrance.
There were four stone statues, two on each side of the gate.
He didn’t know who made them, but he thought that their carvings were beautifully finished. Ever since he turned this castle into his hideout, staring at them has been Shizuma’s daily routine.
──A muscular, giant man with a horn on his forehead.
──A handsome, young man with wings like a bat.
──A slender beauty with her face hidden by her hair.
──A half-beast, half-human peculiarity wearing a fox mask.
They were statues of the four fiends.
They were made in the images of the “Evil Spirits,” worshipped as lords by the “Apostles of Hell.”
Among them, Shizuma’s favorite was Uncle Taotie’s statue. Of course, he respected Hundun as well, but he had a strong attachment to Uncle Taotie, given that he often played with him since he was born.
(Come to think of it, I’ve done a lot of rude things…having an ‘Evil Spirit’ change my diaper must have been really disrespectful.)
He reflected on himself.
“──Hey, Shizuma. You’ve grown quite a bit, haven’t you?”
Suddenly, a voice came from behind, causing Shizuma to jump away, creating some distance.
As he turned around, he saw a peculiarity matching one of the stone statues.
A fox-masked “Evil Spirit” with snow white fur and nine tails.
“Y, you’re Qiongqi…!”
Qiongqi chuckled in response to Shizuma’s shock. Just like a child would.
“Why so surprised? You know that ‘Evil Spirits’ can transfer to the spirit world, don’t you?”
Of course, he knew. He would periodically meet with Uncle Taotie and Hundun. They planned on meeting again in two days.
“Still, it’s exactly as Agito said. To think you would hide in the spirit world…you’ve really done it now.”
While speaking, Qiongqi took one step, then another step, forward.
“It’s quite lucky that we met like this. Shima may have unfortunately escaped me, but…your soul will make do.”
Shizuma couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of Qiongqi’s words. However, it seemed that a fight was inevitable. That was clear from the fierce ill will his opponent was emitting.
What to do? Should he call Gaigo, Yagujya, and Zelva? No, commanding officers wouldn’t be a match for him. He couldn’t afford to expose his precious friends to danger.
“Shizuma, you’re an apostle as well, so why don’t you listen to the orders of an ‘Evil Spirit’? Now, how about you come with me? Shiyuu is waiting.”
“…No matter your words, the ones I serve are Uncle Taotie and Hundun. I will not comply with your orders.”
“Ahaha. When did Tie become an uncle?”
“Furthermore, I’m still a child, so if even if I did want to comply, I would need permission from my guardians. Namely…Kobayashi Ichirou, Elmira McCartney, and Boushou Kiki.”
“You’re quite logical for a young boy. Still, there’s a way I can force you to comply, you know?”
“The amount of time an ‘Evil Spirit’ can be in the spirit world is about ten minutes. Can you beat me under that time?”
“Do you think I can’t? Don’t get carried away, child of Reida.”
As they ended the conversation, the both of them kicked their feet off of the ground at the same time.
Only the black sky and crimson moon watched over the duel.