Chapter 3: The Withered Tree Flowers
An abrupt appearance of a commander of the Mouri army. Because of that one man, Kikkawa Motoharu, Kagekatsu sustained a grievous wound. The wound was deep and even with the power of her blood it couldn’t be healed. She wished strongly to save Kagekatsu and in that moment…
[YUZUKI]: (There’s no time…!)
I reflexively closed my eyes at the approaching yakuma’s attack. However, no matter how long I waited, the impact did not come.
[KANETSUGU]: “Ggh… Hey, are you okay!?”
I opened my eyes at that strained voice and there was Kanetsugu-san, catching the yakuma’s blow.
[YUZUKI]: “… Thank you!”
[KANETSUGU]: “Sorry, I was late in noticing…! I did the same thing again…”
[YUZUKI]: (The same thing? Is Kanetsugu-san possibly talking about…)
[YUZUKI]: “I’m OK! Kanetsugu-san, you made sure to protect me. So… I’m alright.”
Maybe Kanetsugu-san heard how desperate my words were because his expression softened.
[KANETSUGU]: “Yeah. I won’t screw up the same way. This time I’ll protect to the end— HAAGH!”
The yakuma that was cut down didn’t move after that. It looked like all the injuries it had received until now stacked up and this one blow reached it at last.
Looking around it seemed like everyone else’s attacks were also starting to get through and the number of yakuma gradually decreased.
However, there was a noticeably large yakuma among them that wouldn’t quite go down.
[KANETSUGU]: “Kgh… this one isn’t flinching at all…”
[MASANOBU]: “Indeed… It’d be nice if it could just give up and die…”
[YUZUKI]: (Everyone’s exhausted… I thought there was just a little more to go, but now there’s this tough one.)
The moment everyone’s fatigue and impatience thickened—
[HANBEE]: “Everyone, could I have your attention? I have a great plan.”
Hanbee-san’s proposal was to corner the yakuma and attack it all at once.
[HANBEE]: “There’s huge trees in the area, so it’s just perfect, right?”
[KANETSUGU]: “It’s true they look useable.”
[KAMANOSUKE]: “Mm. We might be able to defeat it like this…”
[HANBEE]: “If it’s decided then let’s go according to what we discussed~.”
Masanobu-san and Hanbee-san, who fell into the role of giving instructions, gave each of their allies precise orders.
[KOJUUROU]: “To think a time would come where I’d place my back against yours like this.”
[KANETSUGU]: “I know. The situation now is different from that time. So, let’s cooperate to kill this thing.”
The two, without any waste of movements and with a splendid cooperation to the point where people wouldn’t think it was improvised, distracted the yakuma well and steadily drove it back.
Not overlooking this second of opportunity, Kanetsugu-san and Kojuurou-san attacked the yakuma.
The sound of the yakuma collapsing resounded and then a silence visited, making all the noise from before seem like a lie.
[YUZUKI]: “… It’s defeated, huh.”
[MASANOBU]: “Yes. We can relax for now with this.”
[MASANOBU]: “… Still, for there to be such a strong yakuma.”
[KANETSUGU]: “Yeah… to think it wouldn’t die after being knocked down once.”
[HANBEE]: “The strength of those yakuma were abnormal. Could it be—“
[MASANOBU]: “They may have been for eliminating those who approached this lithograph.”
[RANMARU]: “There’s a trace of vines being brushed away here… It looks like someone came here recently.”
[KAMANOSUKE]: “Coming here means… the Mouri army?”
[KOJUUROU]: “In any case, so that nothing further happens, we should take a look at that lithograph.”
Everyone agreed with Kojuurou-san’s words and we naturally surrounded the stone slab in the shape of a ring.
[RANMARU]: “It’s written with quite old characters. Let’s see…”
[RANMARU]: “—‘If thou completes the sacred treasures and offers them to the capital, then the path towards unification shall open.'”
The moment Ranmaru-san read out the stone slab everyone’s expressions became shocked.
[YUZUKI]: (The capital… that’s where Himemiko-sama was, huh…)
[KANETSUGU]: “Hey, you—!?”
Kanetsugu-san tried to say something to me, but he suddenly whipped around to look behind him.
[???]: “Oh my, it appears there were preceding visitors.”
When I looked over to where I heard the voice, there were two shapes—