Chapter 1: A Mysterious Chance Meeting
Motonari welcomed her readily to settle in the castle for the time being.
When she was brought by him to the shrine, where they first met, there was a monster she had never seen before…!
After breakfast, I accompanied Motonari-san on his business. Because I was here, we took a detour and went through the castle town.
[YUZUKI]: “Wow…! What a lovely town!”
[MOTONARI]: “Haha, I’m glad you’re pleased.”
Before we went out, I returned to my room once in order to tell Imari-kun the situation.
Imari-kun refused to appear in front of Motonari-san, an oni, and so this time we were to collect information separately.
[YUZUKI]: (It’d be nice if some kind of clue related to Himemiko-sama could be found…)
[MOTONARI]: “Are you alright? You aren’t tired, are you?”
[YUZUKI]: “Huh, ah, no! I’m fine!”
[MOTONARI]: “That is good then, but you seem to be somewhat lost in thought.”
[YUZUKI]: “Not really. I’m as fine as I look!”
[MOTONARI]: “Haha, that puts me at ease.”
[MOTONARI]: “—Ah, look, that sweets store is reputed to be delicious. Why don’t we eat there together next time?”
[YUZUKI]: “Sure, I look forward to it!”
When we began to walk, the townspeople walking down the road raised their voices in astonishment.
[MOTONARI]: “Oh, hello.”
[TOWNSPERSON]: “Hey, Motonari-sama is passing through! Clear the road!”
[MOTONARI]: “Here now, you do not have to pressure people to do that. It’s not a concern even if people do not clear out that quickly.”
[YUZUKI]: (Every time we pass someone they call out… Motonari-san is really liked, huh…)
[YUZUKI]: (Come to think of it, when we met for the first time, he treated an absolute stranger like me kindly…)
In the meantime, we went through the castle town like that and arrived at our destination, the shrine.
[MOTONARI]: “This is the place I met you yesterday. My purpose is a cave close to here.”
[MOTONARI]: “Listen closely, from here on do not leave my side. It is bound, but that doesn’t change how it’s dangerous.”
[YUZUKI]: (“It”? “Bound”? Is something here…?)
When I followed Motonari-san there, in front of us, was an unfamiliar monster lying there, bound securely by ropes.
[YUZUKI]: “Wah…!? W-what is this!?”
[MOTONARI]: “As I thought, you haven’t seen this before, have you. This creature is called a ‘yakuma’. It is a violent monster.”
[YAKUMA]: “GRRRGH… grrrgh…”
The yakuma, whose freedom was robbed, gave a hateful growl when it noticed us.
Suddenly, the bound yakuma began to struggle furiously. Maybe it intended to attack me, because its eyes were looking at me.
[MOTONARI]: “You should keep some distance. Stand behind me.”
[YUZUKI]: “Are there many of these s-scary creatures here?”
[MOTONARI]: “There is only one of these in this cave. The rest were all exterminated.”
[MOTONARI]: “At some point, it seems they started springing forth throughout Shinga. I am currently examining this one’s life. However, this is the first time I’ve seen it so horribly violent.”
Motonari-san touched his hand against his mouth in deep thought. Apparently, to Motonari-san, this monster wasn’t very frightening.
In that moment, we heard several heavy footsteps from the entrance of the cave.
[MOTONARI]: “—! Is it possible they smelled this place? Step back.”
Noticing the noises, Motonari-san pulled out his sword. I trembled with fear, feeling those abnormal presences.
In the next instant, a large amount of yakuma poured into the cave.
[MOTONARI]: “Oh my, our path of retreat has been cut off. It seems I have no choice but to exterminate them all.”
[MOTONARI]: “Hmm… furthermore, there’s quite a large number of them. And all of them are staring, not at me, but at you… I wonder if you have something that attracts them.”
As Motonari-san speculated out loud he swung his blade unconcernedly. Each time that he did, the death screams of the yakuma echoed through the cave.
[MOTONARI]: “—You mustn’t go that way!”
Motonari-san suddenly looked back and shouted. Right behind me, as I backed up out of terror, was the bound yakuma—
That yakuma twisted its body furiously trying to bite me.
Motonari-san, who quickly flipped his body over, brought his whole weight down on his sword and pierced the center of the yakuma.
I was saved by a hair’s breadth, but I heard even more footsteps from the entrance.
[MOTONARI]: “Hm… it appears that I slightly underestimated them. You seem to be their target, since they’re coming directly at you.”
[YUZUKI]: “Motonari-san, you’re bleeding…!”
Motonari-san, who had thrown his weight at the yakuma, was bleeding from the arm.
[YUZUKI]: “Please wait, I’ll treat that right now—“
[MOTONARI]: “… Don’t. You mustn’t come here.”
[YUZUKI]: “Huh, why?”
[MOTONARI]: “Because if you come close to me now, you may also get hurt…”
I didn’t understand what that meant, but I was worried about Motonari-san’s injury and came to his side.
When I did, Motonari-san had a helpless expression and pulled my arm into him without warning.
[MOTONARI]: “—I warned you.”
Motonari-san whispered that quietly and then traced my neck with his tongue.
[YUZUKI]: “Hyah!? Motonari-san!?”
[MOTONARI]: “I told you not to come close, but you’re the one who didn’t listen, you know…?”
After those words, which held some hidden meaning, Motonari-san pressed his fangs into my neck like that.
I felt a prickling pain, but right after that a sweet tingle assaulted me and spread through my entire body comfortably.
However, more than that, I was distracted by Motonari-san.
[YUZUKI]: (Motonari-san’s wound sealed… And his appearance is different from before…)
[MOTONARI]: “… I’m sorry. Was I a little forceful? But I can fight fully with this.”
Putting aside my surprise, Motonari-san nodded in satisfaction and wiped out the further yakuma that streamed in.
[MOTONARI]: “I apologize for giving you a frightening experience. Now, why don’t we return to the castle?”
[YUZUKI]: “Yes… but can I ask one question? Why did your injury heal and your appearance change after drinking my blood?”
[MOTONARI]: “… That will also be for later. For now, let’s return to the castle.”
[YUZUKI]: “… Okay.”
We returned to the castle and reported that a horde of yakuma had appeared at the cave to everyone.
Motonari-san guessed that the yakuma, the ones that came out later, had appeared at the cave, drawn to me.
[TAKAKAGE]: “It’s a bit strange how they’re targeting a mere little girl.”
[MOTOHARU]: “Yeah, I also find that incomprehensible.”
[MOTONARI]: “—However, owing to our princess, I’ve come to understand many things. Thank you.”
[YUZUKI]: “Huh, no! Not at all…!”
I didn’t think I would be thanked and hurriedly shook my head at Motonari-san’s words.
But Motoharu-san seemed to be the only one with a stern expression.