Gorilla-sama mockingly takes advantage of Shisui's condescending and obliging words.
Uemon frowned again in disapproval.
This time, however, the other people do not agree with that.
Instead, they look grim.
They seemed to understand the meaning of Uemon's words even after all this time.


 Apart from the exorcists of the Kizuki family and the household members subordinate to the Kizuki family, the lower-ranking servants and the hidden group members are the two major armed forces in the Kizuki family's subordinate organization.
If a single person takes the role of the head of both of them, and even oversees their finances, everyone is on high alert, considering Uemon's position in the Kizuki family…


No, I have no intention…
of interfering with the authority of Lord Shisui.
I will not be humiliated by the misconceptions of servants!”


 Immediately Uemon understood his position and shouted to dispel any doubts.
He could no longer afford to be concerned about a single servant.


 ”That's right.
That is why, head of the servants' group.
I'm sure you understand this without being told, but…
I ask you to continue to supervise the servants.
There are some people who have some opinions.
Regarding that, you will report it back later.”


 Hina finished saying this to Shisui and then turned her gaze to me, who had been out of the picture for a long time.
I could see through her face that her expression was calm.


 ”Yun-shoku, you've been waiting for a long time.
Thank you for your work…
You may leave now.”

 ”Yes, ma'am!”


 I bow deeply to Hina's order.
Then I silently leave.
I didn't want to stay in that space forever.
Partly because I was nauseated by the spiritual power, but also because each conversation was too sticky and uncomfortable for me.


 After going out to the porch, I bowed and pulled down the sliding door.
After closing it, I let out a quiet sigh.


 (Did I move too much? I guess I look a little suspicious…)


 I think perhaps I have been too conspicuous, even though it was for the sake of restructuring the servants.
Of course, most of my actions are done in the name of Gorilla-sama and Shisui…
but the fact that I am in an easy position to be blamed and dragged down may also be a factor.


 ”I hope they won't try to trap me again, huh…?”


 I grumble, remembering the experience of nearly being eaten alive by the great youkai wolf.
As the original story approaches, the internal strife within the Kizuki family is also growing more intense.
The two candidates for the head of the family are no longer children.
The rivalry is becoming more and more difficult to cover up.


 No, it does not matter to me what happens to the Kizuki family itself in the end.
But the aftermath should not be so bad.
Like Ayaka who was chest-bursted (bursts out of a character's chest, killing them in the process), and the Kizuki family's internal conflicts have serious collateral damage.
Or rather, those who have nothing to do with it are the ones who suffer the worst…


 ”Hmm? That's….”


 I find someone when I go from the porch to my hut through the hall.
A figure is hiding in the shadow of the hedge that divides the garden, and I look at the figure with a suspicious look in my eyes.


 At the same time, the figure seems to have noticed my presence and turned around.
It was a thin boy with dark hair, dressed in a well-tailored kimono.


 ”T-Tomobe-san…!! I beg you!! Please cover me!!”


 I couldn't refuse the boy who came running toward me and begged me desperately.
I nodded my head without knowing why, and the boy looked relieved for a moment when he saw me nodding my head, but then he immediately hastily hid himself in the scaffolding on the edge of the porch.
Not long after, there it came.


 ”Oh, Tomobe-san, have you returned already?”

 ”Yes, I just finished reporting to the family members about what we have been asked to do.”


 I announced reverently to Kizuki Ayaka, who appeared from the shadows of the hedge, looking around the yard as if she were searching for someone.
Behind her, a child with a bob cut follows closely.


 This child is Princess Kikyou (Kikyou-hime), the only surviving child of a mistress of the Renge (Hasuka) family and was taken in by the Kizuki family.
When she comes under me, she grabs the sleeve of my clothes with an emotionless expression on her face and asks.


 ”Where is Hayama?”

 ”So suddenly…”


 At least say hello.
That's very rude.


 ”Kikyo-san, that's rude!? I'm sorry, but I'm trying to be disciplining her…”

 ”No, it's fine…
but when you say Hayama…
are you talking about Master Kuroha?”


 I say the name of the boy who officially inherited the Hayama Kizuki family just about three months ago, and who has now reached the age of maturity.


The mess of taking over the house is over and things seem to have settled down, so I came to visit him, but he went away…
I'm sorry, have you seen him?”


 Ayaka asks with a deeply troubled look on her face.
If anything, Kikyo, who is standing next to her, is staring at her silently.


 ”I did see a figure on the other side of the room, but I can't be sure…”


 Before saying “I can't be sure,” Ayaka bows and runs out of the place.
Yeah, that's why players say she's so careless, isn't it?



 ”…what's the matter, Princess Kikyo?”


 The girl is still staring at me after Ayaka leaves.
I ask her, pretending not to notice her gaze, as if she is trying to see right through me.




 She says it matter-of-factly and follows Ayaka.
After making sure the two are completely gone, I tell the boy that the threat is gone.


 ”Oh, thank you, Tomobe-san…….”

 ”No, it's…
Well, Master Kuroha, what is this all about?”


 I cower my shoulders and ask a question to the boy who thanks me with a tired look on his face.


 The head of the branch of the Kizuki family of Hayama, Kizuki Kuroha…
or Hayama, a former hidden group member, is a sub-character who deviates from the original story, as a result of how he came to be.
Although he was originally a hidden group at the start of the original work…
it is a big change to see him back as the head of a branch of the Kizuki family, albeit just living in a room with no land or people to speak of.
According to the story, the Madam Advisor is backing him as a guardian, but I don't know what her purpose is in this.
All I can say is that it has changed the situation around him drastically.


 ”No, I don't know how to say this, but…
I don't know how to describe the distance between me and my old friend…
Well, Ayaka was my friend when we were little…
but we are old enough to be with each other now, aren't we? Still, she treated me as if we were children…”


 ”I'm afraid we still know each other, but Princess Kikyou is coming with Ayaka.
However, since Ayaka is like that, the distance between us is…
something like that.”


 Hayama, or rather Kuroha, muttered with difficulty.
I could almost guess what he meant by that.
Or, more precisely, from what he said and my knowledge of the original story.


 Ayaka Kizuki, who is a shy girl but acts like a big sister and is friendly, is not very shy, probably because her clothes are rather revealing.
She is a bit young at heart for her age.
In the original scenario, depending on the route, she may unintentionally kiss the main character indirectly, sleep with him, or even come to take a bath with him.
But well, players who blatantly took the bait and bit the dangling fishing line like that is shown a particularly gruesome chest hell of her.


 …Perhaps Ayaka treats Kuroha in the same way.
Or, she may be even bolder than with the main character because she is closer to him.
In the original story, they may not have been able to have close contact with each other because of their positions, but now they are almost on equal footing.
Although she may treat him the same manner as when she was a child, it may not be so for Kuroha, who is her partner.


 ”She's already a girl of my age, so I don't want her to treat me as if I were a child…”


 The boy, a former member of the hidden group, sighs with a weary expression on his face.
From his point of view, he is probably under some stress from the fact that his environment has changed so much.


 Well, not having much spiritual power inherited, it would be difficult to live as an exorcist, but there are still many ways to make a name for oneself if one can officially take the name of Kizuki.
He could be a landowner, a government official, or a merchant.
Many people would probably gather around him.


 ”Ah, I'm sorry.
I was only talking about myself.
…Besides, Tomobe-san, I believe you were out on a mission, weren't you? Did you come back today?”

I just finished my report.
I'm sure you've been listening, so it's not new information, is it?”


 Hayama, or Kuroha, smiles bitterly at my point.
It's easy enough to listen in with just one wall at best, especially if he's a former member of the hidden group.


 ”No, just in case…
I wasn't called…”


 Kurou has a complicated expression on his face.
The same is true for Ayaka who was not invited to the meeting, but in her case, her father is still alive and she is attending the meeting.
Kurou is the head of a branch family, even if only nominally.
If he was not invited to the meeting, it must be a…
complicated situation.


 (Come to think of it, I haven't seen the Advisor.
Now, how should I interpret this…)


 Based on the situation in the original story, I try to guess the power situation in the Kizuki family, but there is just too little information…


 ”By the way, Master Kuroha, I don't think you should refer to me that way from a few minutes ago.
I am Yun-shoku, but I am only a servant.
Such honorifics will make me look bad…”


 It would be conspicuous and it would only be a bad match for both of us.


 ”What? Uh…
yes, you're right.
I'm sorry, it's hard to get used to it.”


 The boy smiled a complicated, even melancholy smile.
I frowned inwardly and twisted my head.
I couldn't understand the meaning of his reaction.
It is true that I knew him a little as a child, and helped him in the kappa riot.
But it was strange for him to take such an attitude.


 (Well, it's better than being silenced, I suppose.)


 The medicine is an exceptional pill that can delay even the invasion of youkai mother.
So, it can cure a kappa, which is not so powerful as an individual being.
However, there is no way to avoid damage to one's career.
I could have been killed to keep my mouth shut for the sake of his appearance, but…
he did not seem to have any such pretense.


 Anyway, I can't deny the possibility that it's all just an act to get people sleeping comfortably in their beds…
But at least it's a blessing that he doesn't see me as overtly hostile.


 ”…Well, it's not good for you to stay here too long.
Maybe it's time to go somewhere else?”

 ”Yes, I think so.
…and it's certainly time to run away somewhere.”


 His face tightens as if he remembers my point.
He must have a good hearing as a former hidden group member.
He listens carefully and turns to leave quickly, but he turns around.


 ”Tomobe-san, once again, I am glad you are back safely.
If you have any trouble with anything…
please do not hesitate to tell me.
You are my benefactor, and I want to return the favor.
…Maybe next time, I'll.”

 ”Hmm? Y-yes…”


 The last tone of his voice was too quiet to be heard.
I didn't understand, but I nodded my head as it was.
It was because I was caught off guard by the quiet but strong will of the boy in front of me.
For a while, there was silence…



 ”Ah! Kuroha, you were hiding after all!”

 ”What!? I-I'm sorry…! Excuse me!!”


 Ayaka's shout echoing from far away swallows my words that had been in my throat.
Kuroha starts to run in a panic.
Following that, Ayaka and the girl pass right by me.
I involuntarily try to reach for the boy's back, but I stop.
Then doubt fills my head.
What was I going to say…?




 I couldn't move from that spot for a while, because of the irresistible feeling of discomfort.

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