Outside the village, outside the boundary of the boundary, the calamity youkai, Kamaitachi, their last clone, sitting on a branch, howled as they looked up at the sky.


 ”…Hey, you've come back well, Rouya.
Well, it's been a rough first battle for you, hasn't it? And to make it worse, you had to fight against a fellow half-youkai.
What rotten luck,” the calamity youkai said sympathetically.


 Feeling the presence of Rouya, Kamaitachi looked down and sneered at the figure below, who was holding his face and breathing heavily.


 ”Hahaha, your skull is caved in.
Well, don't worry about it.
Compared to being roasted by that fire, it's just a little beating.
If it's just an injury like that, you'll be fine after you eat and sleep…
Can't you hear me?” they taunted, their voice dripping with sarcasm.


 Yuka tried to comfort her junior jokingly, but halfway through, she noticed that the wolf wasn't even listening to her and was becoming frustrated.
It is not hard to understand why.


 In the past, there was a calamity youkai named “Senbiki-ōkami,” who was feared and called upon in Fusō-kuni.
The legend says that he commanded a thousand wolf youkai, but it was just a distortion of the truth over time.


 When the youkai was slain by the imperial court, it divided its soul and power into a thousand pieces and escaped.
It dreamed of someday coming together and being revived…
But even now, it has not been accomplished, and many of its incarnations have been killed or devoured by other youkai.


 For the calamity youkai 'Okuri-okami' Rouya, a half-youkai who had been carrying the factor of one of the many alter egos, it was nothing but an unwanted interference in a significant first battle against a fellow half-youkai, a compatriot with the same origin in a double sense.
That's why he growled and continued to rage.


 ”Don't be so upset,” the weasel said with a reassuring smile, “It's true the mission failed, but you did manage to defeat one of their family members, right?”


 ”And besides,” Kamaitachi added with a hint of excitement, “the people we met this time are quite interesting.
If we report to our superiors, we won't be held accountable for our failure.”


 As they spun through the air, the weasel landed on a branch and declared nonchalantly.
They boasted as if it were someone else's problem.
Then, squinting their eyes, they looked in that direction.


 They saw a demon (oni) hiding behind the trees.


 ”…Shall we end things here for now, Blue Demon Princess?” Kamaitachi asked, looking over to the demon.


 ”I guess so,” the demon responded, appeared among the trees and taking a swig of sake from her gourd, “I think it's a good idea to hold off on the match for now, for dramatic effect?”


 She took a swig of sake from her gourd again and hummed a tune.
Her appearance was somewhat dirty as she had obtained it during a rampage in the Shukuba City the other day.
Although she was a demon, even she could not have easily taken down more than ten exorcists in the end, without killing them.


 ”But it was worth it, wasn't it? Kekeke,” the demon chuckled brashly, “it was a really good accompaniment to the sake, wasn't it?”


 ”That's terrible, isn't it? Treating our job as if it's nothing…” Kamaitachi muttered, before turning to Rouya and restraining him from moving forward.
“Hey, stop it.
You won't be able to do it.”


 Then she continued observing the demon.


 ”Could it be that you've been observing us all along?” Kamaitachi asked, studying the demon's appearance, “No, considering your character…
well, well, you've become quite nasty since becoming a demon, haven't you? Hmm?”


 Kamaitachi, who had arrived at the answer of what the demon was plotting in this whole commotion, clicked her tongue and sarcastically remarked.
Truly, demons (oni) were a bunch of ill-tempered folks.


 ”I could say the same thing to you, you know?” the demon retorted, taking another swig of sake, “You've also become quite flashy.
Same goes for that Tsuchigumo guy, is it a recent trend?”


 The demon asked, ignoring the hostility directed towards her.
However, the demon's question itself was pure.
Especially considering the current appearance of the wind youkai in front of her…


 ”Oh?” Kamaitachi raised an eyebrow, “Haven't you noticed? I've looked like this since the Great War, you know?”


 ”Seriously? It doesn't suit you at all.
Couldn't you have come up with a better cover?” the demon responded, giving her honest opinion.


 The demon expressed her honest opinion in response to Yuka's comment.
The demon knew.
She knew how ugly this calamity youkai really is.
She was so thick-skinned.


 ”Well, there are various things in life…no, in youkai life,” Kamaitachi shrugged, “Isn't that the same for you? How about it? We finally met, why don't you join us this time? I'm sure we'd love to have you.”


 ”You've got to be kidding me,” the demon scoffed, “I just found a good hero.
How could I just abandon him? It's pathetic, isn't it?”


 ”That's too bad.”


 The weasel thought she'd be happier if she was left alone.
But she swallowed the word.


 Instead, Yuka command with a hint of urgency as she spoke to Rouya “….well, we should probably get out of here.
Rouya, let's go.”


 The 'Okuri-okami' huffed in annoyance, “…!” at Yuka's words, but knew that they were in no position to argue with the demon in front of them.
With a resigned expression, he reluctantly obeyed.


 Then both the weasel turns away and the wolf takes a step back…
and a moment later, with a swift gust of wind, they are gone.


 ”Kekeke, well isn't this getting interesting? And just when the hero has shown up…how delightful.
It seems like the wind has finally started to blow my way.”


 The demon laughs happily like a child, yet with an eerie and cunning tone that only a youkai could possess.
She laughed selfishly, swelling with anticipation for the moment she had been waiting for over a millennium.


 Before long, the demon's figure vanished like an illusion.
However, her distinctive laughter continued to echo throughout the dark mountain.


 Hehehe, hehehe…


* * *


 ”In the end, it didn't go as well as I had hoped,” the pink princess muttered to herself as she transcribed her memories onto paper in her room at the estate, for future analysis.


 He really gave her a hard time and made her panic.
It was somewhat typical of him to release a criminal and his archenemy and head straight into danger.
However, those who watched over him were very uneasy about it.
Even in the end, if the protection hadn't arrived just in time, his life would have been in danger.


 Fortunately, it seems that everything is under control now, but the cost is not cheap…


 ”It's not a cheap price to pay,” the second princess sighed.
Although temporary, entrusting him to that woman was not only against Aoi's will, but also too dangerous.


 It's hard to imagine what kind of thinking process that crazy woman has in her head.
After all, it would be troublesome if something happened and she jumped to a hasty conclusion that would harm him.
Even if not, he has been too reckless this time…


 ”Even so, it's unusual.
Not only the ceremony but also she is going there without even welcoming him,” Aoi said, tilting her head as she looked through the mirror at the shikigami that took a picture of the ox cart that passed through the estate gate.
When the old hag said she would go directly to Hotoya Village, Aoi thought she was losing her mind.


 ”Perhaps the goal is to gather pawns from those people there?” Aoi snarled, her voice dripping with disgust.
“How despicable.”


 The script to protect him is already in place.
So, Aoi had thought that old hag might need to silence the Ezo people from the village, but she never imagined that she try to recruit the daughter of the village head.


 (Although it was a strange power…
it's not like she's invincible or anything.)


 Aoi pondered, hiding her mouth behind her fan, but it still didn't feel right.


 Far from being invincible, the young girl was clearly defenseless.
Mentally immature, too.
Aoi thought she could crush her head with the first blow from as far as the horizon, even before that black thing reached her.
If that girl had time to train, she might be a little more useful, but who has time for that?


could it be?” Aoi's voice trailed off as she pondered the possibility.


 It was her beloved's relative who lived in that village.
But she couldn't help but laugh at the idea.
That would be a ridiculous story.


 Although he himself was relieved that the maid was safe, Aoi couldn't sympathize with his actions.


 From Aoi's point of view, his family was nothing more than a bunch of vulgar people who sacrificed him for their own protection.
He might still have some feelings for them, but even if it was…
it didn't seem right to bring them back for his sake.


 This is a bad relationship that has finally been broken.
It should not be reconnected.
They have done him more than enough for his birth.
He should be set free.
All the more because he's kind, and they shouldn't be around him.
They also become an obstacle when she gives him everything she has.
Besides, they say that success brings more relatives.


 Especially, Aoi, she didn't trust her “family” at all.
She had never had any evidence that her family was on her side.
The only person she could trust, even in the depths of despair, was the one person who was always on her side…


 ”…I'll have to question her later,” Aoi grumbled, resting her cheek on her hand.
She would like to have the old woman's influence and wisdom to her advantage, but couldn't fully trust her considering her past.
She was a real pain in the ass.
If only she could get the upper hand on her sooner, she wouldn't have to worry about being so cautious with her allies…


 ”Princess! Princess Aoi…!?”


 As she was lost in thought, a loud voice called out to her from a distance.
It was the voice of one of the miscellaneous worker in the house.
Aoi connected her sight to the shikigami serving at the estate and immediately furrowed her brows.


 ”You are making a lot of noise on my property,” Aoi scolded, securing the miscellaneous worker who had rushed into her place using the simple shikigami at her disposal.
Even if it was in the garden, Aoi was not happy to see her own property being trodden on.
There was only one person in the world she would allow such an outrage.


 ”What is it? Answer me clearly and concisely,” Aoi demanded through the shikigami, considering herself a forgiving person.


 However, there was no way the miscellaneous worker could not understand such a thing.
If it was a meaningless issue, she would break their arm as punishment, but that was a form of mercy.


 Thinking so, Aoi asked in a bored tone.


 ”T-The head of the family! The head of the family has just awakened…! Whoaa!?” the worker exclaimed, completely unaware of Onitsuki's domestic situation.
The person conveyed the news with joy, only to be thrown off balance and fall to the ground when the shikigami released them.
The worker didn't even have time to brace themself and ended up hurting their back.


 The worker wouldn't be able to work for a few days due to the pain, but this situation was of no interest to Aoi.


 ”…What?” Aoi was momentarily lost for words upon hearing the news, as if she were no longer present…

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