Of course, it is not so difficult for first-rate exorcists to create such a flame.
But only the best can do it.
But if it is only an ordinary person, and without spiritual power, the meaning will be different.


 Especially this time, since they were dealing with kappa, the importance of this “Imperial Hellfire”, along with the poisonous gas used earlier in the morning, was a tiger's egg for the raiding team.
At first, they expected to have a tough time…


 ”From the Imperial Court's point of view, it was also intended as a check on us.”


 The old exorcists affirm the words of the household with silence.
The exorcists are also potential offenders in the eyes of the imperial court.
But it is undeniable that the existence of youkai is the reason for the current relationship between the two groups.


 Given the fact that the Imperial Court has provided two of its trump cards to the raiding party, it must be a warning to the exorcists as well as a sign that they are taking this matter seriously.
If they try to rebel against the Imperial Court, these weapons will turn on the same people.
Furthermore, since there are not many opportunities to fight against the youkai on a large scale like this, it may also be an experiment to evaluate the performance of the improved weapons.
As in the case of Poisonous Gas, the Researcher group who had been dispatched by the Imperial Court observed the horrific scene in front of them with a joyful attitude.


 ”However, we cannot be optimistic yet.
It seems that the real guests are here.”


 It was right after those words.
In the corner of the old exorcists' vision, the ground around the people in black medical suits who were radiating fire rose.




 That was the next moment.
Suddenly, a huge shadow attacks them from the ground.
And an echoing scream can be heard.
It restrains the Researcher group with its eight legs, and with fangs in its jaws injects dissolvable venom into the people inside the black death suit.


 ”Here it comes…”


 At the same time, the old exorcist digs his way through the ground to the surface, ascends the watchtower without making a sound, and leaps at the giant ground spider from behind, blocking its assault with a flash of his finger in front of the human-sized spider.
At the same time, countless needles formed by the boundaries were deployed.
The transparent needles, falling following gravity, penetrate the outer shell of the ground spider youkai and reap its life.


 Now, looking down the tower, the regular exorcists, the servants, and the hidden group were fighting with many of the ground spiders that had crawled out of the ground as well.
No, that's not all.


 ”Hmm, I didn't expect to see three calamity youkai…”


 The old exorcist is surprised while squinting his eyes.




 One of them is an ugly monster that looks like a combination of several beasts, and its miasma-filled breath withers the surrounding plants and trees, rotting and killing the servants.
Even flying arrows corrupt, as is the case with flying weapons.
So, those around the monster cannot even get close to it.




 Then, the wind was now only an uncertain shape.
The hidden groups and servants attacked as if by a gust of wind, however, all their attacks passed through in vain, while their bodies were cut, mutilated, and fell to their deaths one after another by the gust of wind.
Physical weapons are almost ineffective against this youkai, moreover, since this expedition was organized against kappa, the number of those with effective equipment was too limited.




 The wind was created by an owl.
An owl bigger than an ox cart with a wolf's tail.
It descended from the sky, leaving the sound behind, and cut the heads of several servants who were fighting desperately against it with its claws.
The surviving servants rush to intercept it, but when youkai stares at them for a moment, they fall with a grunt.


 ”These youkai look very high class, don't they?”

 ”After all, they are the ones who could not be destroyed when they should have been destroyed.
No matter how hard they try, victory or defeat is already decided.
Let's start with that first.”


 It happened at the same time as he said that.
With a gust of wind, it struck the owl youkai.




 Youkai, who had been pecking at the servants whose bodies he had sliced open, was crushed over its head in the next instant.
It was an egret that had swooped down from a high altitude.
A giant egret, a simplified shikigami.
It held the owl's head forcibly with its hooves and presses the owl's head to the ground, determined not to let it move.


 And having observed the battle so far, the owl's eyes were some kind of mystic eyes.
If the owl's head was allowed to move freely, the shikigami would be cursed the next moment by the owl's eyes, whose head could turn around…


 Now, with a thud, the egret snaps the owl's neck.
Youkai's body shakes with a jerk, but after a moment he collapses into a limp heap.


 As if as a final blow, the mouth of the shikigami releases a fire of karma.
The corpse of the youkai burns rapidly, and then, softly, a human figure descends from the shikigami's back to the ground.


 ”It is indeed Kizuki's adviser, isn't it? Even though it was a surprise attack, she managed to kill one of them in such a short period.”


 The household beside the old man let out a voice of admiration.
She must have been observing the battle situation from a high altitude.
And she chose the one most likely to succeed in the surprise attack out of the three calamity youkai, blocked its ability, and killed it.
Moreover, it was only a simple shikigami, though it must have been made with great care.


 Including the fact that she was manipulating a large number of butterfly shikigami as if they were her hands and feet in the early morning, the household could fully understand that the exorcist named Kizuki Kochou was quite skilled in the use of simple shikigami.


 ”Oh, does it look that way to you, Lord?”


 The old exorcist, however, muttered a few words of doubt in response to his household's words of praise.


 ”Hmm? Is it not?”

 ”It is not.
After all, she is a cunning, cold, cautious woman.
Normally she would not have stepped forward so rashly.
Even if her own people were in danger.”


 The old exorcist looks at the person in question with narrowed eyes.
As the youkai of the ground spiders appear out of nowhere and close in on them, Kochou waves her fan, and one after another, a simple form resembling a bird appears, pecking at the youkai with its sharp beak like a deadly weapon.
Even if the opponent is a small youkai to a medium youkai at most, the way she overwhelms them with her simple form should be marveled.


 ”It's really strange.
That that vixen would fight so desperately…”


 The old exorcists, who had met her many times in the course of their work, had noticed that she was fighting with a pretty, graceful, but actually quite agitated appearance.


 Yes, it seemed as if she was trying to protect something.
And it seemed to be an unusual behavior, which was not befitting a woman called the “Black Butterfly Woman of Kizuki”, who is indifferent even to her people when necessary…


* * *


 In a cave, located in the mountains of Ashina county, there is a spider that was driven out from its original land and has been hiding and hiding for many years.
The cave is an underground labyrinth that has been expanded to capture the power that overflows from the spiritual veins of this land.


 So as not to waste the power, Kumo (the spider) that sits in the corner of the cave in its temporary form has been keeping track of the whole area inside the cave with near-accurate knowledge of the situation.


 The secret is in the threads.
Kumo (the spider) threads that cover the entire cave are all connected to other spiders.
The threads, infused with youkai energy, are as hard as wire, yet so thin that they are almost invisible, and they are designed to disintegrate spontaneously so that they cannot be traced if other spiders are killed.
Now and then, other spiders would shake this thread that connected them to their lord, and the master of the den would sense the characteristics of the tremors with its five senses, which are beyond the reach of a human being, and it would control, analyze, and grasp the situation in this area with unlimited precision.


 ”I see.
Another one has been killed.
I had expected it, but it happened so fast…”


 And the Giant Spider grumbled to itself as the report came through Kumo (the spider) threads.
Although Kumo (the spider) understood that it was impossible to come back alive…
not to mention all the other spiders, the fact that one of its subordinates whom it had known for many years had been killed so quickly made Kumo (the spider) express a feeling similar to disappointment and resignation.


 ”Indeed, I would have thought they would have given us a bit more trouble in the past.
…D*mn you, you subspecies of a monkey!”


 It seems that the quality of the exorcists has become quite nasty over the past 500 years.
Though they have been vicious for a long time, no one in those days could kill a calamity youkai so easily.


 After all, humans should never have been given the time.
Kumo (the spider) could only think that Kuuban had made a mistake in the past.
They have grown stronger, crueler, and viler with each passing moment.
This one day alone reminded Kumo (the spider) of that to the point of disgust.


 ”…Well, it doesn't matter.
It's all right.”


 Perhaps they would lose this war.
But so be it.
There is no need for them to win.
After all, they've been deadlocked from the start…


I never thought I'd run into you here, blue demon.
What do you want?”


 Kumo (the spider) turns around in the dimly lit cave and asks.
No vibration can be felt through the threads.
However, Kumo (the spider) had noticed her presence from her evil presence.


 There was a demon.
A demon with long bright blue hair carrying an anchor filled with evil energy…
one of the infamous four disasters, Aoko the red-haired blue demon.
Now, Kumo (the spider) glares at this calamity youkai, which once coincidentally threatened the capital at that time.
It glares at her as if in alarm.
It was not a glare at an ally.


 ”Hahaha, that's my line, isn't it? I'm surprised to see you here in the deserted countryside, looking like such a little prick.
Did you bring this trouble here?”


 Aoko closes one of her eyes and smiles with a hearty, fake-smelling laugh.
She is referring to the kappa pandemic that has swept through the area.


 ”So what? You didn't come here to mix with us, did you?”


 Despite saying so, however, Kumo (the spider) understood that it was probably impossible.
Ever since it had been exterminated by the capital a thousand years ago, this demon had seldom made public appearances.
Even in the great war that was the perfect opportunity to retaliate against those loathsome apes, this demon remained silent.


 Even the former god herself had bowed her head and joined the battle line…!


 ”No, no way.
Please don't joke around.
I'm not going to kill myself against such a bunch of idiots…”


 And just like that time, the demon denied her participation again.
She denied it in her peculiar tone of voice as if she was making fun of others and irritating their nerves.
Does she have to offend others every time? Kumo (the spider) blatantly clicks its tongue.
Well, so be it…


 ”Joking around, huh? That's an unfortunate word.
Are you not satisfied with the people who have gathered here?”


 In the time of the great war, it would be almost impossible for dozens of exorcists to gather here nowadays.
In this day and age, this would be a very luxurious battlefield…


 ”Geez, it's no good.
In the first place, none of the people who gathered here are any good…
Before that…
there's no point in going out there if I'm just going to blow everything up.



 Kumo (the spider)'s eyes narrow silently at the demon's words.
The demon's killing intent is as if a blade is being thrust at it.
The scent of death is so thick that a mere human being might faint and foam at the mere mention of it, but the person to whom it is directed is no ordinary being either.
Instead, laughing with ease and amusement.


 ”How did I know? You know, it was just a trick.
But seriously.
You don't have any sense in this kind of thing, do you? It's too sad that no one will be there to witness your big day.”


 Aoko declares in a mocking tone.
She is talking nonsense that Kumo (the spider) does not understand.
The demon, reading Kumo (the spider)'s inner feelings of bewilderment, continues.


 ”If you participated in that great war, you should know that much, don't you? Or are you pretending you don't know…?”

 ”What kind of nonsense are you talking…?”


 Kumo (the spider) muttered uncomfortably to the demon, who was drinking sake straight from the gourd.
It is useless to take the demon's words seriously because of her selfishness and moodiness, but that is not the reason why her words are so annoying.


 ”Hahaha, well, it's all right.
It's good to know it, and it's also good to end up not knowing it.
Oh, just tell your kids not to eat my favorite, okay?”

 ”Your favorite…? Oh, you mean that strange one?”


 The demon's comment made Kumo (the spider) remember what she was referring to a moment later.
It was that individual who had fallen while clearing out the remnants after the humans had sowed poisonous winds all over the land.
And just as Kumo (the spider) had just received word of it from its own kin.


 ”That guy's family, they were very troublesome…
Is that the kind of food you like? I remember you hated that troublesome one with all your heart, didn't you?”

 ”That's exactly why!”


 The demon suddenly exclaims in a frenzy, startling Kumo (the spider).


 ”I wonder why you don't understand! No, you don't need to know! He's my hero in training! He's always, always, always mine! He always exceeds! Exceeds it!!!”


 He's the best! The blue demon declares without being asked.
Her face is twisted into a smile of ecstasy, and her eyes are vacant.
She was drooling from her mouth, and the whole scene was dangerous in various ways, partly because of the gap between her natural good looks and the fact that she is a beautiful woman.
To tell the truth, Kumo (the spider) was a bit taken aback by the whole scene.
If anything, the smell of alcohol was so strong that one could smell it in one's nostrils as if she was in heat or something.


 ”I-I see…”


 Kumo (the spider) barely responds to the demon's excitement.
At the same time, knowing this demon's character, Kumo (the spider) is slightly intrigued by the person in question, but that's all…


 ”…That's good.
Order them not to eat him.
But that's it.
Anything other than that, it's not a problem for me.”


 This attempt was a risk to Kumo (the spider)'s life, and Kumo (the spider) did not want the truth of this attempt to leak out.
Therefore, once captured, Kumo (the spider) had no intention of letting him go.
At least until just before the moment things were about to go wrong.


 ”If you don't want him to die, bring him back just before.
With your legs, it shouldn't be too hard to carry a man on your back to safety, should it?”

I'm a watchman.
I'll pass.”


 The demon, however, rejects Kumo (the spider)'s advice without hesitation because she doesn't want to be disturbed by her plan.
She immediately refuses.


 ”….Do what you want, but don't interfere with us, okay?”

 ”Of course, I will.
Don't you trust me?”

 ”What kind of idiot trusts a demon?”

 ”You're a jerk.
I'm being honest, though, aren't I?”


 The demon laments in a fake tone, and Kumo (the spider) looks at her with a stern stare, but finally agrees with her.


 ”…Well, that's all right.
Come to think of it, you are such a guy, aren't you?”


 Kumo (the spider) expected without permission, was disappointed without permission, and became furious without permission.
That's a blue demon.
That's what Kumo (the spider) heard in the rumor mill.
It must be she's probably expecting too much from her favorite again.
It's foolish.
Just how many times can she repeat her mistake?


 After letting out a small sigh, the figure begins to stir.
Eight huge legs begin to grow out from its back, and the figure begins to undergo a horrifying transformation.


 'I warn you once again.
I will turn a blind eye to whatever you do, but only so far as it does not disturb the plan.
Do not forget that.'


 Kumo (the spider)'s reply to the warning was a fearless smile.
A silent chuckle.


 'Hmph, you churlish girl.'


 The gigantic non-human monster then sniffs in displeasure at the attitude of a demon much younger than itself and leaves the scene with an earth-shaking sound…
or perhaps it is better to say that it begins to stir.


 In any case, Kumo (the spider) had no time to stay with such an incomprehensible person.
For Kumo (the spider), this is a once-in-a-lifetime revenge, a revenge that is the price of its own existence.
Now, this monster stirs.
Behind it are thousands of other spiders.


Don't worry.
I won't get in your way.
I'm not even interested.
Just leave…”


 Then the demon's mouth twisted into a glamorous smile.
She licks her own lips with her red tongue like a youkai.


 ”Though, my hero won't let you off the hook, you know? Well, at best you can be a stepping stone for him to gain experience.”


 Taking a mocking glance at the huge body of the departing spider, the demon whispers proudly, confidently, pleasantly, and most of all arrogantly…

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