”Uwaa!? Uguu!!? …U-unbelievable!? Tomobe-kun!!?”


 Tamaki, who dashed out energetically from Mayoiga's gate, immediately fell vertically and rolled, landing on her backside.
As she rolled, she let out a scream that was almost a cry of confusion.

 ”No, no way…! Can't believe this happened!”

 She couldn't believe that this had happened.
She didn't want to believe it.
Such an ending was too much to bear…!?

 ”Wait…
No, Tomobe-kun, wait!! I'll help you! I'll come over there right now…”

 ”Tamaki, don't move over there!!”

 ”…!!?”

 As Tamaki, with an unsteady gait, started walking towards Mayoiga's entrance, a shouting voice echoed.
Startled, Tamaki turned around, and as she did, splatters of blood flew up.
There was a sound of something collapsing.
And then, a figure embraced her.

 The half-youkai, Iruka, tried to carry Tamaki away from that spot.
The wolf-girl ran with leaps and bounds.

 ”Don't stand there like an idiot!! You'll get killed!!”

 ”Iruka…? Are you okay? …No! Iruka, we can't go! Tomobe-kun is still in there! We have to save him…!!”

 For a moment, Tamaki was stunned, but then she shouted desperately.
However, Iruka's reply was cold.

 ”No, it's impossible!”

 ”Why!?”

 ”It's already too late!! Look, the mansion is collapsing.
If you go back in, you'll get crushed!!”

 In response to Iruka's words, Tamaki looked towards Mayoiga's main entrance.
The mansion itself was spasming, collapsing, and about to die.
Indeed, going back inside there would be madness.
However…

 ”But, but Tomobe-kun…!!”


 ”Think about your own safety!! I don't know what happened, but he's a servant.
He'll take care of himself! We're also under attack.
We needs to go to Suzune's place quickly…!!”

 ”Attack!? Right! The ones from earlier…!!?”

 ”Yeah.
Those bastards seem to be using some kind of trick to stay invisible.
It's chaos everywhere.
What the hell are those Onitsuki monsters doing…!!?”

 Tamaki was shocked by Iruka's words, and Iruka yelled them out as if spitting.
Well, she knew she couldn't say anything about others since even with her keen senses like smell, she still had to be careful not to miss their stealth ability.
In fact, she had taken a hit.
She was lucky it was just a charge.
One of the guys nearby had their head bitten off on the first strike.

 ”That's…but, but!! Even so, Tomobe-kun is in danger, right!? If he escapes but gets attacked by someone he can't see…! Iruka, I'm okay! You go to Suzune's place alone…!!”

 ”You're annoying, just shut up! If something happens to you, Suzune won't stand a chance against them, understand!? She's in a bad state after saying something stupid, you know…?”

 While saying that much, Iruka unintentionally fell silent.
Then, she realized her mistake.
Driven by momentum and anger, she had said something she shouldn't have.

 ”Huh…? Iruka, what does that mean?”

 Tamaki, held in Iruka's arms, looked at her.
Confused, shocked, and confused, her eyes wide open, she trembled with a premonition of some terrible truth.
She stared at Iruka with frightened eyes.

 ”Iruka, what did Suzune say?”

 ”That…well…”

 Iruka hesitated, unable to give an immediate answer to her master and best friend's question.

 ”Iruka…?”

 ”…”

 Repeatedly called upon, Iruka kept her mouth shut.
She was torn between what she should say and what she shouldn't.
Before her eyes, the light disappeared from her friend's eyes, showing her frustration.
And then, and then…

 ”…What!?”


 It happened the next moment.
Iruka's keen hearing sensed something jumping out of the gate of the collapsing Mayoiga.

* * *

 The fangs were closing in.
The curses were resounding ceaselessly.
To make matters worse, countless arms extended from the walls, pursuing them.

 With the sound of cutting through the air, shadows darted through the gaps.
We accelerated, decelerated, and changed direction with the thinnest margin of error, heading towards the direction where the light shone relentlessly.

 'Don'T RUN AWAAAy…!!!'

 ”Goodbye forever.”

 In response to the dying scream of Mayoiga, I coldly and dispassionately spat out those words.
And we passed through the exit of the labyrinth.

 ”…!!?”

 Evading countless fangs and arms, we flew through the exit.
At the same time, 'up' and 'down' swapped places.
No, it should be said that things returned to normal.

 Upon escaping, we rapidly ascended, revealing the cloudy sky.
The cold air pierced our skin.
Looking behind, twe saw the collapsing Mayoiga mansion, trembling like a withering flower.

 ”It will collapse dramatically.”

 For a moment, I considered giving a biting retort, but such thoughts scattered when I saw the scene before me.

 Looking down at the ground, it was filled with dense fog.
I squinted and managed to see the sight of a slaying group confronting something within the mist.

 ”Botan-sama!! Descend lower! If we fly like this, we'll be completely exposed to attacks!!”

 Out of genuine concern for my subordinates and comrades' safety, and perhaps also fearing being spotted flying with no cover, I made such a request.
Though, I quickly realized there was not much need to fear the latter reason.

 If I tilted my head, I could see the Magatama wrapped around the girl's wrist behind me.
Even if they were dealing with supernatural beings, ordinary humans wouldn't be able to perceive us.
But the real issue was…

 ”Be quiet for a moment.
I need to concentrate; otherwise, I can't move it…!!”


 ”Huh?”

 Once again, the sound of flapping wings resounded as the girl muttered with a bitter tone.
I was perplexed by her words' meaning, but that thought was soon abandoned.

 After all, we suddenly went into a sharp turn and steep descent.

 ”Uwaaahhh!!?”

 '(#°Д°) I don't want to die yet…!!'

 ”Tsk!!?”

 We rapidly approached the ground.
The spider and I shouted.
Botan clicked her tongue.
Just before our eyes, the dense forest loomed closer and closer.

 ”!? Is it like this!!?”

 Botan's cry, as if she noticed something or grasped the trick, resonated.
At the same time, the flapping of wings sounded intensely.
We rapidly decelerated just before impact, and our posture wavered.
We flew into the forest as if it was being struck.

 ”Kuu!!?”

 While enduring the pain of hitting small branches, we managed to avoid hitting large trees and completely lost our momentum, falling directly downward.
Luckily, we didn't hurt our backsides.

 ”Haah, haah…
What the hell…”

 ”Servant, excuse me.”

 ”Huh? Ahh!!?”

 'Σ(; ゚Д゚) Whoa!?'

 Botan, speaking slightly fast, said to me, who let out a voice of relief at surviving.
Immediately after, I felt a dull pain stabbing near the back of my neck, close to my collarbone.
At the same time, a sweet fragrance tickled my nostrils…


 Matsushige Botan sank her teeth into me.
She was sucking blood, drawing it out.

 ”B-Botan-sama…!!?”

 ”Please be quiet.
Don't move.
I might injure your major artery.”

 Her response to my call was a warning in a freezing voice.
Or perhaps it was a threat…
whatever it was, there was no room for resistance for me in my completely exhausted state.
I gave up and relaxed my entire body.
In fact, after two consecutive quests to escape from Mayoiga, my body had reached its absolute limit.
There was no strength left to squeeze out.

 ”You don't have to fear that much.
I'll be careful.
Besides…for someone who went through such reckless actions, this shouldn't be a bad thing.”

 ”A bad thing? That's…guhh!?”

 Perplexed by Botan's words, I was about to inquire further when I was forced to grimace in pain from her relentless biting near my neck.

 ”…!!? Huh!? What's this…?”

 Instinctively trying to evade the injection like a scared child, I turned my consciousness away in the spur of the moment.
As a result, I noticed the presence of something beside me just now.

 Dark-feathered crows or perhaps raptor-like wings enveloped me from both sides.
Probably, the flapping sound I heard during the roller coaster-like flight earlier was coming from them.
And my thoughts were directed towards what lay beyond.

 Considering the conversation just before the farewell inside Mayoiga and the current situation.
The possibilities derived from that lead, although I can't believe it…

 ”Maybe, yo…you…”

 ”That's enough.
I'm done.”

 ”Hgghh!!?”

 Before I could voice my speculation, Botan interrupted me with a curt remark.
At the same time, she threw me as well.
Quite literally, she pushed me down from behind and abandoned me on the ground.
Matsushige's granddaughter took a step back in silence and turned on her heels.

 ”This treatment is quite something, huh?”

 I managed to raise my upper body at least somehow, despite the pain.
When I tried to turn around to complain instinctively, something black swiftly passed right above my head.

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