Is it Tough Being a Friend?

Is it Tough Being a Friend? v7 Chapter 1 Part 3

Beyond the gate was a large space about the size of a gym.

The floor, walls, and ceiling were all made of stone. There was not a single window, leaving the air stagnant. Shelves filled with books stood inside the room, making the place smell like a bookstore.

“W, what is this? A library…?”

“Oops, did I make a miscalculation? This is indeed a library.”

While scratching his head, Hundun pulled out a book from a shelf.

For whatever reason, it was a manga of mine. Upon closer inspection, there were also game strategy guides and directories of pro baseball players. I knew that I was missing things, but to think that they’d end up in the spirit world.

“This is a room in the ‘Hell Castle’ for an ‘Evil Spirit.’ Ordinary soldiers cannot enter the castle without permission. The only exception is the cleaning crew.”

“There’s no electricity, but did you notice that the walls and ceiling emit a faint light? This castle’s made of a stone that reacts to our ill will. I don’t know how it works.”

Hundun and Taotie explained as such while reading the manga together.

I’ve heard of houses with lights that turn on as you walk in front of them…are they similar to this?

(So in the spirit world, these guys lived in a palace that could rival the Yukimiya family’s home…though, the name ‘Hell Castle’ kind of bugs me.)

…I already heard that the spirit world isn’t like a damp cavern. I heard that there were mountains, trees, a sky, rivers, lakes, and even a city.

This “Hell Castle” is the center of the city and the castle of the “Evil Spirits”…or in other words, the nucleus of the spirit world. There are supposedly several fortresses on the outskirts, but most apostles live in the city.

(It’s hard to believe there’s only one town…though, there are only around six thousand apostles.)

To be precise, there are two thousand apostles living here now. The rest entered the human world, and it seems that three thousand of them were defeated and are waiting for resurrection in a place called “Konminden.”

In other words, there are around a thousand apostles in the human world. Considering that Qiongqi has been collecting souls, perhaps that number is even smaller.

(I’d like to go sightseeing, but now’s not the time for that. Hundun can only keep the gate open for thirty minutes…we need to find Shizuma during that time!)

Shizuma said that this “Castle of Hell” would be his base for the time being. So, it’s likely that he’s somewhere in this castle.

Since we had a time limit, I suggested that we divide and conquer our search through the castle…or rather, I was about to suggest that.

“Alright, Sonny. Go look for Shizuma now. I’ll be here reading manga.”

“Same. I want to know what happens in this manga now.”

The two “Evil Spirits” sat down and started to gluing their eyes to the manga. They looked just like those rude customers you’d see at convenience stores.

“You guys! Put in at least a little work! Shizuma’s safety is at stake, you know?!”

“Stop screaming, ‘Vermilion Bird.’ There’s you, Sonny, and the three princesses…five people should be enough for a search party. If Shizuma notices the gate, he might go to the human world. It would be bad for him to be stranded there by mistake.”

“I’ll help out after I find a good place to stop reading!”

These guys were fooling around at such a critical moment.

Do you care more about a manga than Shizuma?! Is it that interesting to you?! Let me see!

“Leaving Tie aside, you can’t stay here, Hundun! You can’t separate from me, so you’ll have to come along!”

Moving independently of the host is Taotie’s exclusive ability.

In other words, Hundun can’t leave me. He would have no choice but to come along. However…

“That’s only in the human world. As long as we’re in the spirit world, “Evil Spirits” don’t need a vessel. We can exist without a host.”


That’s when I noticed it. He and Taotie had both completely manifested.

“That’s right. This is our world, after all. That’s why I can leave your body and transfer to the spirit world, Sonny.”

Is that so? So “Evil Spirits” can be here without any conditions?

This story has gotten quite complex. If this story was published in pocket-sized books, I feel that it would take up around seven volumes. I would’ve like to have known about this kind of plot detail much earlier.

“While I’m here, I can act freely. That also means Tie’s ability is useless in the spirit world.”

“You jerk! Don’t bring up sensitive topics! It’s fine! ‘Evil Spirits’ rarely come back to the spirit world!”

In any case, now’s not the time to loaf around.

The more we chat, the less time we have. I can criticize the “Evil Spirits” for their negligence once we get home.

It seemed that Mion made that decision as well. She quickly gave out some instructions.

“Anyways, let’s find Shizuma. Ichirou and Elmira, try looking in rooms near the library. Us three princesses will traverse the distant rooms.”

While saying that, the heron girl handed a flashlight to Elmira and me.

Did she anticipate this situation and prepare them in advance? After all, these walls don’t illuminate for those who aren’t apostles. As always, she’s the thoughtful one among the daughters. She’s really turning out to be the perfect wife.

With that, Mion and I walked towards the exit. Jyuri, Kiki, and Elmira followed.

“Ichirou, let’s gather in the library again five minutes before the time limit is up.”

“I will definitely protect Shizuma! Leave it to commanding officer Kiki!”

“By the way, what would happen if we miss the time limit?”

While sitting cross-legged, Hundun answered Elmira’s question.

“We’ll have to stay here for two days. In my current condition, I can open a gate once every two days at best.”

We rushed out of the library in a hurry.


I left the second floor, which is where the library was, to Elmira and headed towards the first floor.

It wouldn’t be smart to have two people search the same floor. Since time was of the essence, I figured that looking around in as many places as possible, even if only briskly, would be best.

(Still, this is a needlessly long staircase…like something straight out of a Cinderella picture book.)

After descending the large staircase, there was a large entrance hall. In other words, it was the entrance to the castle.

The place was an atrium with a ceiling so high that I couldn’t see the top of it with my flashlight. The huge iron door at the front was so tightly closed that I couldn’t tell what was outside.

(Is this castle built on a small hill? There’s apparently a town around here…I’d like to see the townscape if possible.)

Well, I’ll save that for later. It would take a lot effort to open that door. In video games, places unrelated to the story are left inaccessible.

With that in mind, I went towards the first door to my right. In the silent darkness, I could hear only the loud sound of my footsteps.

(Is Shizuma staying in a place like this…? Without a TV or internet, it would be boring here. How pitiful.)

Maybe this is why the “Evil Spirits” brought manga with them here. I suppose that’s them being kind. If it’s to let Shizuma read, then I won’t mind.

I soon stood before a door and reached for the knob.

What kind of room is this? Since it’s near the entrance, it can’t be an important one, can it? In a game, this is where a save point would be.

I thought about the possibility of a zombie attack lying behind the door…until something occurred.


I suddenly felt bloodthirst from above and jumped away immediately.

Immediately following, objects pierced through the door multiple times. They were needles about thirty centimeters long, like chopsticks.

“Whoa, you dodged a sniper’s attack?!”

An astonished voice came from the darkness of the ceiling. Unfortunately, I couldn’t determine where exactly.

(A, an enemy attack?! Furthermore, a sniper?!)

I quickly ran to the door in front of me to avoid a second attack. My evasion was unbefitting for a friend character, but I’ll worry about that later.

There’s no place to hide in the hall. Staying there would make me an easy target. For now, I have to hide in the room! I need to secure safety while there’s still a chance!

However, there’s an obstacle to that.

The door opened from the inside and a giant figure leapt out towards me.

“Aaaah! Is it actually a zombie?!”

“Who are you calling a zombie?! What are you doing in this castle?!”

The second assailant screamed while charging towards me. His neck was unusually long. He was like a giraffe…hmm? A giraffe apostle?

“Hey, wait! Are you guys──”

I tried to start a conversation, but the other party continued his head-butt attack without responding.

I leapt to the side and rolled. A second later, I head the sound of the stone floor shattering. What a hard-headed guy.

“Wait, I said! Hey giraffe, are you the commanding officer Gai──”

When I jumped back onto my feet and shouted, I felt a third person’s bloodlust from behind.

The figure of a bird soared in at an alarming speed, trying to knock me down. Dodging by a paper-thin margin, I once again rolled to the side.

“Oh, you dodged that? Some nice reaction times you’ve got there, intruder.”

“You won’t slip away this time~. Get ready~.”

“Hands off! He’s my prey!”

The three apostles didn’t stop attacking me while talking to each other.

Each attack carried the intent to kill. Forced to dodge them all, I eventually ended up in the entrance hall.

“Cut it out, everyone! I’m just a friend character! Stop putting me outside of my comfort zone!”

The falcon apostle landed on a stair handrail and scoffed.

“Friend character? An idiot like you would never be my companion.”

Next, the giraffe apostle pointed at me with a finger.

“Judging from your plain human form, you’re probably a pill bug, inchworm, or floral egg crab apostle soldier.”

Finally, the hornet apostle swooped down.

“How pitiful, your luck ran out when you came here alone~. Now, be an obedient hedgehog apostle~. This won’t hurt a bit~.”

…Not good. The three commanding officers weren’t listening at all.

They’re convinced that I’m an intruder and a weird apostle. Who are you calling a floral egg crab?

(Now what? Do I beat them up? Is it okay for a father to beat his son’s friends?)

No, that should be a last resort. If possible, I don’t want to injure them.

These three should know where Shizuma is. If I show them who I am, they should understand. They’ve seen my face in the video messages.

Thinking so, I quickly lit my face with the flashlight. Since I held the light below my face, I looked like I was about to tell a ghost story.

“Zelva, Gaigo, Yagujya! It’s me, Kobayashi Ichirou!”

While giving my name, I stepped sideways to create some distance. Kind of like how a floral egg crab would.

“Huh? A Kobayashi Ichirou apostle?”

“I’m not an apostle! Just Kobayashi Ichirou!”

The falcon Zelva…seemed to be the dunce of the group.

“Then how do you explain that side stepping? How do you explain that smooth skin?”

“Those are just coincidences! Both my walking and my skin!”

The giraffe Gaigo…also seemed to be a dunce.

“Wait a minute. I’ve heard about people who tell scary stories while having a light from below them. Inagawa Junji, I think…so this guy’s an Inagawa Junji apostle, right~?”1Inagawa Junji is a professional ghost story teller

“Again with that! Junji Inagawa is Junji Inagawa! Nothing more, nothing less!”

The hornet Yagujya…is also a dunce. They’re all idiots, aren’t they?

I’m not getting through to them. I considered actually beating them up…before I heard a voice.

“Ichirou! Wait right there!”

“Halt, you three! Don’t lay a hand on Ichirou!”

“Stay back!”

Fortunately, the three princesses arrived. It seemed that they heard the commotion.

“Oh, Miss?!”

“My queen?!”


The commanding officers were taken aback by the appearance of their superiors. Despite their confusion, they kneeled down and showed their manners.

“Zelva, this is Kobayashi Ichirou. He’s the one who ‘converted’ Taotie and Hundun, and he’s more than he looks. Now that you know, apologize.”

“To think I’d receive a scolding after our first meeting in a long time…I shall reflect on this.”

“Gaigo, I thought I told you to do something about your quick temper. Do you want to get fired? Perhaps I won’t let you use my high heels as a glass anymore.”

“A, anything but that!”

“Yagujya, say sorry to Baron Ichirou. You tried to stab him in the butt with a stinger.”

“I understand~. My bad~.”

…I was wondering what would happen to me, but it seems that things have been cleared up.

Now they’ll know that I’m not a floral egg crab, nor am I Junji Inagawa.

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