…it goes back in time.


 In the orphanage, where no noise, no dust, and no scorching fire can leak out through the boundary…
two people were facing each other just outside the doorway.


 ”Is this the famous Princess Aoi of the Kizuki family of the renowned Northern Region, known for her beauty and talent? It's my pleasure to meet you for the first time.”

 ”Oh my, oh my, thank you for your kind compliments.
It is a great honor for me to meet the second in command of the prestigious Onmyo Dormitory and the renowned Matsushige Family's head of profound knowledge.”


 One of them is dressed in luxurious clothes which do not suit the chaotic atmosphere of the outer city, fanning her fan, and the other is surrounded by a crowd of monster foxes whose movements are restricted by binding technique, and they take a glance at each other.
Then they smile.


 Without any knowledge, they might have appeared to be standing there calmly, unconcernedly, but in fact, they were radiating their spiritual power to each other and were on the utmost alert for the other.
This meant that they were ready to use their techniques at any time, and the exorcists were ready to fight.


 ”So, what brings you here to the outskirts of the capital? If you are here to see the city, there must be some sights that will interest you more than others.
May I show you some of them?”

 ”Thank you for your kindness.
But I'm not one of those simple folk.
I've seen far better pleasures than those that can be seen at any time.”


 A giggle, a chuckle similar to a bird's chirp, and a fan spread out, seemingly at ease…
but the old man ahead noticed a hint of impatience in her appearance.


 ”Oh, then you should enjoy the pleasures of the city without having to go to such a dirty, unromantic place.
Or is there some reason why you must hurry here even if it means soiling your dress with dust?”

 ”…just take care of yourself, old geezer.”


 It was a small murmur, and at the same time, the air around her grew heavier and clearer.
The foxes, all of them motionless from the binding technique, shuddered without uttering a sound.
At the same moment, a big bear with horns, which had been hiding in concealment, appeared in front of the old man as if to protect him.
Though, the bear was quite shriveled up.


 (Well, well…
at her age, she has such a murderous temper…)


 Though he did not show it on his face, the old man was deeply astonished inwardly.
A little girl, who is at most a little over ten years old, could direct such a huge amount of spiritual power to the same person as an invisible killing intent!


 (It is true that exorcists are often involved in family quarrels, but…
the people of the northern region are still scary.)


 Although there are some exceptions, it is said that most of the exorcists who reside in the western and southern regions are relatively weak.


 This is partly because the areas have already been cleared and developed, and because of the lack of strong youkai, the exorcists have become mundane, engaging in activities other than their main occupation, but the main reason goes back to the time of the Great War.


 At that time, the development of agriculture and industry had already progressed, and the youkai invaded these lands with a large army to damage the productive capacity of the human side, and as a result of fierce battles with the local exorcists, many of the ancient members family were cut off, or, if they survived, they were all at the end of their line.
The talent of exorcism is a generational trait.
Considering that the talent of exorcism grows stronger with the passing of generations, it is only natural that the family in the western and southern regions of the country would be weakened by the loss of so many promising exorcists.


 On the other hand, the northern and eastern regions, which were relatively free from the fires of war due to their remoteness during the period of the Great War, were the places where the exorcists, who were ridiculed as countrymen and young people, were sealed away, but nowadays, there are still many families that have continued to exist since before the Great War that have a lot of experience in actual warfare by facing many youkai.
The Kizuki family is one of the oldest among such clans in the northern region, and it is not surprising that the family is powerful.
The biggest surprise, however, is the following…


 ”Hohoho, I hope you don't abuse this old man too much.
It seems that my purpose and the princess's purpose partially, if not completely, overlap.
You don't have to look so afraid, do you?”


 The old man smiles and gets to the heart of why Princess Kizuki is here.


 ”You know that if I say a word, you will be hunted, right?”

 ”Of course I am.
However, that would be impossible.
At least for the time being.”

 ”Yes, for the time being.”


 Both parties suppress the spiritual power they emit and smile a friendly smile that is almost a formality rather than a pretense.
Yes, now is not the time to be hostile.
For the old man, until the man who has been favored by the demon slays the demon, for the princess, until the only person she loves rises to greater heights, and for the demon who is probably watching them from somewhere, nothing to complain about, because it's all for the best.


 ”Well, well.
Now then, my dear princess, you may go in.
I'm sure it would be more pleased for him to see a beautiful woman than a withered old man like me.


 With this remark, the old man snapped his stick nimbly, and the next moment the door of the orphanage opened.
This meant that the door, which Azuma's boundary had put up, was forcibly opened.


 His action was a bad one.
Because if he had forced the door open so forcibly, even the person who had put it there would have known it.
As a matter of fact, the reason why the old man put the incantation of the forbidden word in the book he had donated was partly for an ambush, but also because he did not want to go through the trouble of opening the boundary by force, and also because he did not want to deal with Azuma herself after she noticed the situation.


 Conversely, the old man's actions were necessary because there was little need to do so.
There has already been quite a commotion in the boundary.
So, the raccoon dog lady must have noticed that something is happening in the orphanage…
or rather, she has already confirmed it from the shikigami she has sent into the sky.
If the old man intervenes in the commotion at the orphanage and encounters her, it will be a very unpleasant situation.
Rather than that…


 ”Your request has been granted.
I hope we can continue to have a good relationship.”



 Before the old man could respond, the pink girl was gone in a cloud of dust.
At the same time, the monster foxes that had been bound around the old man's body were all decapitated and killed at the same time.


 ”…hmm, I guess she's a monster after all…”


 The old man grumbles in dismay as he rubs his beard and looks around him at the sea of blood that has instantly turned into a sea of blood.
The girl's power was astonishing even to the old man.




 …but then, a shadow stared at the back of the astonished and dismayed old man.
It was a surviving fox that had been hiding beneath.
It seems that it is more skillful at hiding than the others, and the fox, hiding among the corpses of its companions, approaches the old man…
and leaps at him without a sound, ready to devour him with a single blow.


 At the same time, however, the old man leaped into the transparent boundary that had developed like a needle in front of him, killing the surviving fox instantaneously.


 ”Though it seems to be a bit short meeting…
But still, she seems to be very obsessed with you, huh?”


 As he released the boundary, he thought back to the servant.
The sound of chunks of meat falling to the ground behind him echoes, but this is of no concern to him.
All he can do is sigh in sorrow over the fact that he has gotten himself involved with a very troublesome person.


 It is a misfortune among misfortunes to be favored by a demon, and on top of that, to be favored by such a monster girl…
there is no way that life can be normal for a girl so young who can unleash such power and such deadly force.
And for such a girl to be so obsessed with 'him', he can't help but wonder what happened to him.


 ”Just a demon alone would be troublesome.
But at this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if he's got other troubles as well.”


 He's not sure what kind of trouble he'll get himself into if he's treated carelessly.
However, it's not as if things will go on peacefully if it's left alone…
which brings back to the beginning of the discussion.


 ”Good grief, what kind of star do you have to be born under to have such karma?”


 The old man's muttered words were strangely echoing in the air…


* * *


 The first words that came to my mind when I saw the peach-colored girl who appeared at the right moment like a hero of a story were not words of thanks…
but words of curse.


 (This girl…
She must have been waiting offstage…!!?)


 It was inevitable to think so, given the exquisite timing of the intervention.
Wait, was she watching the show the whole time?


 Even though she is wearing a cloak and it should be difficult to recognize her facial expression, I noticed her smile when she noticed my eyes on her.
Damn, she's not only a bad person but also a woman who makes me wonder what she's thinking.


Y-You b*stard…!!”

 ”Well then…
oh my…
was that a little underpowered?”


 The battered and bruised monster fox that had fallen into the mud wall had reverted to her beastly form…
but she still seemed to have the will to fight, even though her body was dripping a lot of blood as she emerged from the mud wall.
However, the next instant, the blade of the wind brought it all to naught.
The slender girl swung her fan from a distance, and the invisible blade cut through the monster fox's body in tandem with the fan.


 ”Is this the end?”


 The next moment Aoi said so, she waved her fan in her hand.
At the same time, the head of the monster fox is cut off.
Her head falls to the ground, and surprisingly no blood spurts out from the section of the body where the head and the body parted in tears.
The reason is that a lot of blood had already flowed from the whole body.


 ”…well, you've turned out to be quite a wretched sight, haven't you?”


 Kizuki Aoi looked at me as if the one-sided violation I had just suffered had never happened.


 ”I am ashamed to present myself to you like this, Princess.”

 ”Don't worry.
I'm used to it.
By the way…
have you brought me my souvenirs?”



 Of course not! said my inner scream.
To tell the truth, I've thought about it a lot, but I can't do it because her request is too reckless and too demanding.
Damn, she has a wicked smile on her face!


 (Depending on the route, she might get traumatized and make the monsters break her pride and make her understand, or she might be forced to perform a highlight-off interracial play right in front of the main character…
oh, that's right, the trauma flag has been broken)

 ”Hey, Tomobe, were you thinking something terrible about me just now?”

 ”No, nothing at all.”


 Her eyes narrow slightly in disapproval at my emotionless words, but she quickly turns her gaze in the other direction.


 ”Well, that's okay.
In that case, you can bring me the souvenirs I specified, right?”


 I turn my head in the direction of the gorilla princess's gaze and see a white fox girl being cared for by a group of children.
The girl, looking distressed but acting strong, makes eye contact with us the next moment.
At the same time, I had a faint idea of what she was thinking just from that eye contact.


 ”I don't think that's possible…”

 ”Oh? Is that bad?”

 ”No, I mean, I don't know…”


 I think it's a little too far-fetched to be a souvenir.
Well, in this world, people are products, too.
Still, she's ordering something complicated.


 Thinking about the future, I sigh inwardly.


 …Oh, no, on second thought, I should not have let my guard down here.
Youkai is a monster, no matter what the extent of their existence and their way of being is not something that can be measured by human common sense.


 ”It's not over yet…!!”


 My little monologue, however, strangely echoed in the place.
At the same time, a strange, ghastly grinding sound echoed.
I look quickly in the direction of the sound and am startled at the same time.


 Of course.
The monster fox that I thought was dead was crawling on the ground with her head only at a tremendous speed.
How shocking!




 The fox was crawling on the ground like a cockroach with a speed that was unbelievable for a fox with only her head.
A moment later, I realized what the monster fox was aiming at from the direction she was moving.


 ”Hey! Run away!! Quickly…!!”



 The fox's target was the orphanage children who had rushed to Shiro's side.
In a sense, it was a natural choice.
The gorilla-sama would have been sure to fight back if she had attacked her.
I am too close to Gorilla-sama, and my spiritual power is depleted, so even if she ate me, the return would be too small to be worth the risk.


 Therefore, half-youkai children are far more efficient than mere humans in recovering their strength and are less likely to fight back.
She probably intends to eat the children and run away from gorilla-sama as fast as she can.


 ”I won't let you do it…!!”


 I had used up all my spiritual power, so I couldn't run at her with my physical strength, so I threw a dagger at her.
The dagger was thrown with only my physical strength, but I had been training in my spare time since my reincarnation because I didn't want to die, and it tore through the air so sharply that it was hard to believe that it was thrown with a battered body.


 The dagger precisely pierced the top of the head of the headless monster fox.


 (It doesn't stop her…!!)


 The head may have been half in motion, but the force of the projectile was probably too weak.
It seems that the blade stopped at the skull and the blade did not reach the brain of the monster fox.
In the eyes of the monster fox, I could still catch a glimpse of her clear will.


 ”Oh no…”


 I realized that I had nothing left to do.
The children in front of me could only stare in astonishment at the fangs of the monster that attacked them.
It's not surprising considering their age and lack of combat training.
But that does not mean that the monster will take it easy on them.
In other words…




 For a moment, I look at gorilla-sama beside me, but even though she is aware of what is happening, she does not seem to take any action.
She seems to have no interest in the children.
And because there was no time to persuade her.
There was only one thing to do.


 I start to run while enduring a great deal of pain…
but my movements are much slower than usual, and I don't think I'll make it in time.
And just as the head of the monster fox jumped up and was about to cover the children…


 ”'Protection Law Boundary 3rd Class – Tortoiseshell Pattern'”


 A fluent tone echoed through the room.
At the same time, the fangs of the monster fox stopped in mid-air.


If I look closely, I can see that the monster fox was biting the crystal-clear boundary that had been deployed to cover the children.
The monster fox and the children are stunned at each other.


 ”'Binding Law Boundary 4th class – Stacked Box', and…
'Breaking Law Boundary 6th class – Endless Flame Hell'…”


 The monster fox sensed what was about to happen and tried to do something.
But the next moment, the monster fox was trapped in three layers of boundaries, and the next moment, it was dyed red with the attribute of fire.
No, it was probably the flames of hell that were swirling inside the boundary.


 It happened in an instant.
It wasn't just a burnt-out corpse.
Not even a corpse remained.
When the boundary was lifted, all that was left was a few ashes and a small dagger stuck in the monster fox's head.
The ashes were quickly blown away by the wind, and the dagger fell with a clang to the ground, making a striking sound.


 After that, there was a sound of footsteps.
The quiet footsteps, however, had an overwhelming presence.
The spiritual power mixed with the thick and youkai energy became an invisible blade and was directed at me and the gorilla princess beside me.


 ”I came here in a hurry because of the disturbance…
I'm sorry, but may I ask what happened?”


 A figure appeared as if protecting the children…
Azuma Hibari, who was looking at us with sharp eyes, was dressed in the same manner as a commoner, but she pursued us in a dignified manner befitting her position as the head of the Onmyou Dormitory.

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