Iruka's attacks, which create shockwaves and vibrations that affect a wide area, including the ground, are not something we can use.
Even Iruka herself struggled to execute a fourth attack due to severe coughing and spitting blood after firing three shots rapidly.
Moreover, I had already used up the flashbomb that could make connected shadows disappear during the previous blow.
It would be unrealistic for me to send an attack from high above and then strike.

 So, this was just a bluff.
It was an act to warn Kamui that he was no longer invincible and to lead him to voluntarily retreat.


 Kamui and I, along with Iruka, silently glared at each other, trying to intimidate one another.
We take defensive positions and observed each other, not missing a single gaze or subtle movement.

 ”…Wait, what?! Hey, this is bad!”

 And then, Iruka shouted as if she had noticed something.
I, too, realized it immediately afterward—the anomaly.
However, it was too late.

 *Thunderous roar shook the very air”

 Immediately after, it crashed between us and Kamui.

 Yes, somehow, not only had the blizzard that obstructed our vision ceased, but even a single snowflake stopped falling.
The clear surroundings allowed me to clearly see the scene of the monster screaming, spewing blood splatters around.

 Namahage, whose arm had been severed, somehow managed to stand up and tried to retreat with an unsteady gait.
Then, an old woman leaped at him with agile movements like a monkey and struck his face with a wide smile.

 ”Sh*t, seriously…!!?”

 Being hit in the face, Namahage couldn't support himself due to his missing arm and fell backward toward us.
I grabbed Iruka's hand and hastily escaped from the spot.
There was no other choice but to run away.
Staying there would only result in being crushed.


 In that moment, I glanced quickly.
Kamui, who had a confident smile aimed at me, was suddenly interrupted.
He disappeared into the darkness.
He managed to escape.
Although the retreat went as planned, I couldn't help but express my annoyance.

 'Don't lose focus! Let's hide for now!'


 Answering the words of the old man perched on my shoulder, I and Iruka were pulled down into the shadow of a large tree.
Taking a moment to catch my breath, I peeked through the gap in the tree to assess the situation once again.

 It happened right after that.
Yamanba was tearing Namahage's throat apart…

* * *

 I had a certain degree of expectation regarding the clash between Namahage and Yamanba.
I anticipated that the latter would have the advantage with a probability of about 60:40.
This view was based on the official setting I had read in my past life.

 The reason Namahage was feared by many exorcists was due to his ability.
Appearing in blizzards and frightening children…
yes, “children.”

 Based on the combat records and experimental observations so far, the Imperial Court and the Onmyoji BureauOnmyouji Dormitory had a rough idea of Namahage's abilities.
Namahage was a youkai that scared children, which meant his true power varied greatly depending on the age difference between him and his opponent.

 At the same time, it proved to the Imperial Court that the conventional method of subduing Namahage was extremely difficult, at least in the short term.

 It took hundreds, even thousands of years for a small young youkai to become a calamity youkai.
Moreover, it was impossible to estimate how many years the opponent, being a former deity, had accumulated since his existence concept was fixed.
At least during the establishment of the Imperial Court, records of such beings were already documented.
Although some members of the Onmyoji BureauOnmyouji Dormitory were several hundred years old, the age difference between them and Namahage was insurmountable.
Deploying valuable Imperial forces against Namahage, who simply roamed through regular paths, would be a dangerously risky gamble.
Therefore, after repeated failed attempts at subjugation, the Onmyoji BureauOnmyouji Dormitory adopted a basic policy of weakening Namahage through non-contact.

 On the other hand, one of the origins of Yamanba in its source material is as a mountain deity.
It is a kind of earth mother goddess.
This means that, like Namahage, Yamanba is originally a divine being that has lived for ages.
She may have lived for the same amount of time or even longer than Namahage.
As beings who have lived since ancient times, Namahage's abilities are greatly weakened when faced with each other.

 With the addition of Yamanba's abilities…
Hence, the result before my eyes.

 ”Tch, it's quite audacious in her devouring.”

 Iruka clicked her tongue and cursed.
In front of her, and within my field of vision, was the sight of a half-dead Namahage being gleefully covered and torn apart by a monstrous old woman, with her face stained with red blood, sucking on hisflesh.

 ”I could predict the outcome, but…
it ended unexpectedly quickly.”

 I had clearly misread the situation.
Despite the compatibility issues, when it comes to a clash between calamity youkai, and especially since it's a boss character from the second chapter of the original scenario, even if it's a branching route, I didn't expect such a anticlimactic end…

 ”What do we do? Do we proceed with the plan and make a move?”


 Iruka asked while hiding behind the trees once again.
However, I couldn't give an immediate answer.
In normal circumstances, it would be an excellent opportunity for calamity youkai to fight and exhaust each other, especially while they are in the midst of a meal.
It would be better to attack before they finish their meal.
it wouldn't work that way with Yamanba.

 In the original story, there is a choice to take a different route at the beginning.
Depending on the mission chosen, instead of encountering Namahage, the protagonist come across Yamanba.
This happens during a government-owned gold mine security event, which happens to coincide with the Namahage monitoring event.
During this time, he is attacked by many youkais.

 At this point, the protagonist is given two choices.
Either defend the gold mine itself or go to defend the mining town at the foot of the mountain…
Well, naturally, choosing the latter leads to a bad ending.

 Against Yamanba, who attacks the mining town seeking food, the protagonist has no choice but to be devoured without any means to fight back.
Yamanba's ability, which is based on the legend of a local Earth Mother goddess rooted in the region, just like Youbo (youkai mother), also has an aspect of fertility.
According to one of the legends based on the original source, Yamanba gave birth to 80000 children just by a man's touch.

 And based on that legend, Yamanba's ability is to give birth to youkai from wounds caused by arrows or swords received from men.
The more severe and numerous the wounds, the greater the number and strength of the youkai that emerge from the wounds.
However, once the wounds heal completely, the power is sealed.
This ability is not shown in the original story and posed a challenge for the protagonist, especially since he relied on a sword as his main weapon.

 Moreover, thanks to the overflowing youkai caused by the protagonist, not only the mining town but even the surrounding villages are devastated, along with the gold mine itself.
On the contrary, if the protagonist chooses to only protect the gold mine, he receive rewards from the court, but he is berated by the surviving residents of the town who have become his allies, leaving the protagonist feeling clouded.
How wonderful.

 …Furthermore, theoretically, if the extermination squad consists only of women, Yamanba's abilities can be nullified.
However, even without her abilities, her natural combat prowess surpasses that of great youkai, and there are her hungry youkai brats lurking in the surroundings.
Most importantly, there is a risk of falling into a trap set by Nue, the mastermind who uses Yamanba as bait, and being forced into a role as a breeding vessel.
In fact, in a bonus short story in the novel, immediately after the chaotic climax where Kubou goes missing and the fleeing youkai are bombarded, it portrays the court created a specialized task force to eliminate Yamanba falling into a trap.
However, they are then submerged in a murky liquid by youkai beasts and insects, resulting in their bellies becoming swollen.

 (Regarding Nue, as long as that guy sending Kamui there, there's no need to be on high alert, right? However…
if Namahage didn't work, does that mean that even beings with divine status or youkai fall within the range of Yamanba's abilities?)

 Even as a youkai-transformed version of myself, I have to admit that it would be difficult with normal attacks alone.
If I use “that,” there won't be a problem, but the issue is whether I can create an opening in Yamanba, who is unexpectedly not fatigued enough!

 ”…Master, please use 'that'.”

 After a moment of hesitation, I gather my resolve and make the request.
Regardless, I couldn't leave Yamanba alone.

I'll restart it now.
Buy some time…
They're coming, aren't they?'


 The old man's hummingbird that responded to my request issues a warning before entering a dormant state.
Shortly after, Iruka, and finally, I notice the approaching presence.

 Perhaps as a result of the intense battle with Namahage, several Yamanba offsprings that were likely “birthed” appear to have found us hidden behind fallen trees and eagerly hunger for us.
Now they are approaching us aggressively, ready to attack.

 ”I'll take care of this!”

 In place of me, who lacks a weapon, Iruka intercepts the charging locusts, tearing them apart with her claws and delivering a blow to the mantis's head.
With the spinning decapitated mantis, she kicks it away, crushing the following insects in one motion.

 And then, a leaping Yamanba arrives, blowing away her own children without a care.

 ”Oh, crap…”

 ”Iruka! Get down…!!”

 I narrowly evade the strike of the intruding Yamanba's fist by pushing Iruka down behind me.
A gust of wind blows over the snow-covered plain just above my head.
Despite the cold, sweat bursts out from my entire body in an instant.
If my head had been even slightly raised, it would have been blown away as well.
In fact, some of the surrounding youkai have been partially obliterated by the shockwave.

 And there, Yamanba raises her arm and gazes at us, smiling.
A smile that reveals nothing about what she's thinking.
I hastily pull Iruka's arm to help her to her feet.
However, it's too late…!!

 ”I knew we needed it after all, you brat!! Take this!!”

 Yamanba shouts angrily and curses, while someone else yells at the same time.
I quickly turn to look behind Yamanba and see Hikorokurō, who has stabbed the monster's leg with a sword.
I am amazed and my eyes widen in surprise.

 ”What the…!? Gah!! But more importantly, run…!”


 It happened right after I issued the warning.
A massive centipede emerged from the wound that Hikorokurō had inflicted.
Transformation of the wound, childbirth, Yamanba's power!!

 ”You d*mn monster…!! Die! Die!! Guaaah!!?”

 Hikorokurō desperately slashes at the newly formed centipede's head.
But immediately, Yamanba, along with her angry voice, blows Hikorokurō and the newborn centipede behind her, along with the snow on the ground, violently away.
Hikorokurō's figure disappears in an instant, swallowed by the swirling snow and dust.

 ”Let's go…!!”

 Seizing the opportunity, Iruka stands up and pulls me, sprinting to put distance between us and Yamanba.
We desperately navigate through the gaps between Yamanba's attacking offspring.
However, their numbers are overwhelming…!!

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