Kobayashi, Head to the Spirit World
It happened after finishing my banter with Agito.
I took the train once more, heading over to Yukimiya’s mansion. I was expected to be there at noon.
I wasn’t doing this as the story planner for the sake of reconnaissance, but instead as a friend character appearing onstage. Not only myself, but Ryuuga, the four heroines, and even the ‘Three Princesses of Hell’ were all meeting up. It was a scene where all the main characters gather together.
The purpose was to settle a necessary matter before the decisive battle against Qiongqi.
That is, to reintroduce the “Evil Spirit” Tao to Ryuuga’s side and have them accept her as an ally.
(Though initially, I planned on having Ryuga and the others fight Tao at least once.)
If they did fight, perhaps Yukimiya would “convert” Tao after Tao exhausted all of her power. That might also put an end to Tao taking over Yukimiya’s consciousness and body to act in an unrefined manner.
However, I eventually realized that such a plan was a bad idea.
If an “Evil Spirit” loses a large amount of power, they’ll suck up the life force of their host. In the past, Ryuuga’s little sister, Kyouka, almost died due to that.
(Come to think of it, that’s also the reason why I took in Uncle Hundun. The futility of this plan is also a big reason why the Tao arc didn’t work out…)
I reflected on my carelessness as a story planner while heading towards the Yukimiya residence.
After arriving in her room, I found that everyone had already gathered.
“Oh, Ichirou. Where were you? I wanted us to come here together.”
Of course, the first one to speak was the protagonist, Hinomori Ryuuga.
Wearing a school uniform, despite it being a holiday, and a refreshing smile, she raised her hand. For some reason, she was lying on the carpet. Furthermore, she had her head on Mion’s lap while getting her ears cleaned.
“Don’t move, Hinomori. You’ll interfere with my progress.”
The heron girl spoke in an unfriendly manner despite carefully cleaning Ryuuga’s ear. Hey, stop being so friendly with each other. The protagonist and an apostle general shouldn’t be flirting.
“Hey, Kobayashi, ngh…you’re late, ahh.”
Aogasaki spoke next.
She spoke with her usual cool attitude, but gasped strangely every so often. As for why, Jyuri was giving the “Swordswoman of the Beheading Dance” a shoulder massage for some reason.
“You’re quite stiff. I wonder if it’s because of your chest…you must be a G cup, right?”
In face of the king cobra nurse’s skill, Aogasaki inadvertently let out a questionable voice. Hey, didn’t I say not to be so friendly? Why did this turn into the three princesses offering their services?
“Kobayashi Ichirou, can you offer some assistance? I’m having trouble moving.”
The last person to speak was Elmira.
When looked over at her, I found that Kurogame and Kiki were sleeping, leaning against both sides of her body. They clung to her arms, rendering the “Blood-kin of Eternal Darkness” unable to move.
“Chaha~…I can’t eat this much grilled meat…”
“Don’t eat that…that’s Berberon’s shoulder roast…”
The “Star-Wall Guardian” and Hokkaido wolf girl were sleep-talking. Hey, are you two so close that you’re sharing dreams now? What happened to Berberon, the underground monster?
(And to think that their relationship took a turn for the worst just earlier…you’re not supposed to be friends, but just working under aligning interests, you know?)
At one point, Ryuuga and the three princesses got into a conflict over Tao, eventually turning into a fight…I mean, them being at war with each other is bad, but being buddy-buddy isn’t that much better either. I’d like for them to know their positions.
(We should get down to business now. However…)
Unfortunately, the topic of conversation, Tao, was nowhere in the room.
I sat there wondering where the main star of the day went. After some time, I heard a knock from the door behind, and Yukimiya entered the room.
In an instant, Ryuuga, Aogasaki, and Elmira sat up and straightened their postures.
Mion and Jyuri kneeled down while bowing their heads.
Kurogame and Kiki immediately woke up, wiping the drool off their faces.
“S, sorry for the wait…”
Ryuuga and the four heroines seemed bewildered over the “Shrine Maiden of Life” greeting them in a weak voice. Their mouths seemed partially agape.
As for why──it was Tao, rather than Yukimiya, who appeared.
First of all, she put on some make-up, but did it really badly. She had some extremely long fake eyelashes that flapped each time she blinked. Her cheeks were so red she looked she had a case of mumps.
Furthermore, she wore a dress meant for a social party. That would’ve been fine, except that she unnaturally stuffed her chest as well. It seems like she stuck two rice bowls in there.
In addition, she wore a sash that read “today’s leading actress.” And like that, the “Evil Spirit” displayed zero dignity. She got really carried away.
“N, nice to meet y’all…I’m the ‘Evil Spirit’ Tao.”
After gaining everyone’s attention, Tao bashfully bowed.
“Thank you for time out of your busy day to gather here for this debut ceremony. First of all, allow me to pick up a glass, and with your permission, offer a toast to…”
Ryuuga reluctantly spoke to the “Evil Spirit,” who was making a speech while glancing at the cue cards made for her.
“Um…first of all, could you remove those rice bowls from your chest, Tao?”
Some time had passed. Once Ryuuga and the others finally calmed down, Tao introduced herself once more.
“Sorry for the mess. The name’s Tao. My specialty is Dojosukui.”TLNDojosukui is a comedic Japanese folk dance where the performer acts like they’re scooping for loaches in muddy water.
Seeing that Tao was about to break into a dance, Mion quickly put an end to that. Unfortunately, the make-up and clothes stayed. Furthermore, she had a tricorne hat on her head.
Aogasaki, Elmira, and Kurogame stared at Yukimiya, who looked miserable and completely different from her normal self. It was too much for them to process.
“She looks exactly like Shiori, but she seems so unrefined…”
“She’s more like an ‘Agriculture God’ than an ‘Evil Spirit’…”
“I feel like I can hear cows and chickens in the distance…”
The three princesses immediately retorted to those statements.
“You’re being rude. You’re speaking to a ruler of the apostles.”
“Tao is the most skillful of the ‘Evil Spirits,’ to the point of being called ‘Taowu of Technique.'”
“She can move her hair around and even use it to catch flies. She’s very capable.”
Thereupon, Ryuuga suddenly coughed and looked quietly at Tao.
As expected, the protagonist tried to tighten the relaxed mood. Let’s not forget, this is a negotiation for reconciliation with an “Evil Spirit.” This is an important scene for the story.
“So Tao, there’s something I’d like to confirm first…you really don’t plan on threatening humanity anymore?”
“I ain’t gonna. I’m done with that.”
“You’ll also let Shiori ‘convert’ you too at some point?”
“Yep. That too.”
Tao nodded with each question Ryuuga asked. The tricorne hat shook along with her head.
“I’ll help Shiori rescue Renie. He’s a pesky lil’ apostle, but an important friend. And, he’s Shiori’s important family.”
…Rikushou Renie, who pledged allegiance only to Tao, perished after protecting her from Qiongqi’s attack. After losing his life, he was absorbed into Shiyuu.
To be precise, he didn’t just try to protect Tao. He was also protecting Yukimiya. As Sebastian the butler, he cared for Yukimiya Shiori.
(That’s why he wanted to separate Tao from Yukimiya, dispose of Qiongqi, and have Agito be her new vessel. If peace returned to the world, Yukimiya could lead a normal life again.)
However, Qiongqi was not that naive of an opponent. He predicted Renie’s intentions and as a result, turned the spider butler into food for the apostle amalgamation. I…couldn’t stop it from happening.
However, there’s still a way to save him.
When one of Shiyuu’s arms are forcibly pulled out, an apostle returns to its original form…that’s something we’ve seen for ourselves.
Rescuing Renie is an essential mission in the battle against Qiongqi. Of course, Ryuuga and the four heroines were being told about this. I feel a bit guilty for giving them another hurdle to cross.
…While I was thinking about such matters, other things were happening.
“Say, I heard that my ancestor, Hinomori Ryuuzan, fought you three hundred years ago.”
“Yep. He was a fella whose handsomeness would give ya a run for your money, Ryuuga. He sent Renie flyin’ with just a single blow.”
“If you’d like, how about we visit his grave together? It can also serve as a sign of our reconciliation.”
“Ya, let’s visit. I’ll offer some daifuku mochi in front of the grave. Ryuuzan really liked daifuku──”TLNDaifuku mochi is mochi filled with sweetened red bean paste.
The reconciliation negotiations were already going off track again. Ryuuga and Tao were enjoying a chat while snacking on potato chips.
I began to worry about how things were going…
Thereupon, a comical, tiny dragon appeared on Ryuuga’s shoulder. It was her guardian deity, the “Yellow Dragon” who transcends the four gods.
“Ah, Ron! It’s been a while! Ya got smaller while I was away.”
Ryuuga spoke with shock after seeing Tao smile at Ron’s face.
“D, did you just say Ron…?”
“That’s what I’ve always been callin’ him. Though we’re enemies, we’ve known each other for long.”
Seeing that Tao gave him the same nickname that she did, Ryuuga grinned. She seemed to feel a sense of affinity.
“I, is that so? Yeah, I think it’s a good nickname. I think I’ll call him that too.”
Ryuuga poured Tao a glass of juice while shamelessly saying that. It seems that she planned on using this to openly call the “Yellow Dragon” Ron from now on.
“By the way, Tao. Sorry for what happened when we first met. I attacked you without asking any questions…”
“Sorry, Tao. Did we hurt you?”
Ryuuga and Kurogame bowed their heads. At the graveyard, the two chased Tao into a corner with the superb teamwork of childhood friends.
“Don’t worry your heads about it. Still, y’all were really strong. Game’s punch was especially nasty. I want ya to teach me how to do that.”TLNGame here is short for Kurogame.
“Sure! I’ll teach you!”
Saying that, Kurogame pulled Tao by the hand and forced her to stand up. Bewildering everyone else in the room, she began to immediately teach her technique.
“First, lower your back! Tighten your sides! Then pull back your left hand while thrusting your right hand straight forward! Hiyah!”
Tao struck her fist, mimicking Kurogame. Hey, don’t stand bowlegged with Yukimiya’s appearance. She’s still the idol of the school.
“Once more! Hiyah!”
“Alright! You’re doing well! Hiyah!”
“Hiyah…! Oh, I have to switch with Shiori soon.”
With that, Tao suddenly withdrew.
Yukimiya’s face suddenly went blank. She look around, and then at herself, before blinking her eyes. Her fake eyelashes fell loose.
“W, what is this pose I’m in?! What’s with this tricorne hat?! What’s with this ‘today’s leading actress’ sash?!”
Yukimiya ran out of the room with a bright red face. We watched her with looks of sympathy.
──Thus, the “Evil Spirit” Tao reconciled with Ryuuga’s team.
In the end, we had to desperately stop her after she declared “I’m gonna enroll in the Kurogame School of Archelon Fist!”
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