Chapter of the week: 1/2
The next thing I saw after opening my eyes was a single long passage.
“What is this place?”
I looked around me but my surrounding was covered by thick fog. All that I could see was the passage continuing forward and a tiny light orb floating before us as if it were telling us to follow it.
“This is a strange place, Desu.”
I heard Meru’s voice coming from my earphones. It seemed like she was safe. Well, the word ‘safe’ itself doesn’t have much sense when talking about AI. I turned to look at the tiny light orb floating before us. It didn’t seem to be created from magic, but it was pretty beautiful. I believe this is the so-called Fireball Youkai. I kept gazing at the tiny light orb with a curious expression when suddenly Karen opened her eyes finally and spoke in curiosity.
“What is this place?”
“I don’t know.”
She asked the same question as the one that I asked a few moments ago and I answered her with a shrug. We came here following the fox who pleaded us to help him save someone. I guess if we continue to walk through this passage, we will probably arrive at the desired location. That is the only possible option I could think of, now that the fox is nowhere to be seen.
“Let’s keep walking for now.”
Meru and Karen agreed with me and we started walking inside the passage.
I wonder how far we walked.
As the scenery surrounding us didn’t change, it was hard to judge how far we have walked.
“This passage is so long.”
Karen and I complained while we were still holding hands and walking towards the path. If he were going to ask us for help, he could have just teleported us near the exit of this path. As I kept on complaining to myself and sighing, a large shadow entered my field of vision. It was a huge Shinto Shrine archway leading to a building that looked like a Shrine. It looked like it was our final destination.
The more we walked towards the path, the more the building became clear and visible. It was at that time that I realized that that place was our destination. As we walked towards the end of the passage, we could notice that the fox, we were following, was standing at the exit of the pathway and waiting for us.
“You finally arrived-. I’m sorry-, I didn’t bring you here directly because I was in a rush.”
The fox lowered his head and apologized.
“That’s fine. More importantly, what is this place?”
“This is our den.”
The fox briefly answered my question and started walking.
“Let’s go. Ouka-sama is anticipating your arrival.”
Speaking in a way as if it was pressing us to hurry, the fox stepped inside the shrine. We naturally followed it all the way until it suddenly stopped and shouted.
“Ouka-sama!! I am back!!”
The high pitched voice of a child reverberated in the surrounding. Silence followed that shout for a short while which made me suspect the whole situation, but before I started to increase my wariness, a different voice reverberated from the other side.
“Welcome back, Nayame.”
At that moment, the fog drew back from the place we were standing and our vision became clear. Only after that happened that I was able to notice that the Youkai behind the humble female voice was standing in front of us. Its shadow was around 40 cm taller than me and it emanated a somewhat odd ambiance.
I narrowed my eyes and stared at the shadow until the fog completely disappeared. Finally, I realized that it was another fox. Though, this time its size was way over than that of a normal fox. It was big enough even for me to ride it. The way it stood, while waving its 9 magnificent tails, emanated a great sense of dignity. Without a doubt; it was the well known and prominent nine-tailed Youkai fox.
“Where were you all this time? I was really worried.”
As the little fox got scolded by the nine-tailed fox, it apologized but it didn’t look like it was sorry at all. They then started having a conversation and I took another look at the place in the meantime.
Could this be a different world?
The ground was no different than the one on Earth, and trees were surrounding the place. The passage we walked through to arrive here had already disappeared. I tried using my Space Magic skill to get more information, but I still had no clue about where we were. In other words, this place is neither Earth nor it is another world. When I concentrated my attention, I notice a few small foxes like Nayame gazing at us from a distance.
“That’s a human, right?”
“Yes, this is the first time I saw one.”
They talked to each other in a low voice tone while still concealing themselves. I felt like I turned into some weird creature.
“There are a lot of them, huh.”
Karen also seemed to have noticed the foxes that were hiding in the bushes. I replied to her as I looked at them with an unwitting smile. The way they restlessly show only their head was pretty adorable. A few moments later, Nayama and the big fox named Ouka finished their conversation.
“Human, I am indebted to you for saving Nayame. As the leader of these children, I give you my sincere gratitude.”
“Don’t worry about it. I just found him by incidentally while taking a stroll.”
When I replied to Ouka who expressed her gratitude to me, I felt that Karen added a bit of strength in seizing my hand. I turned to look at her and noticed that she was faintly trembling. It looks like she got intimidated by Ouka’s pressing aura. Ouka seemed to have noticed that as well and uttered with a regretting expression.
“I apologize. It seems that you’re are not very pleased with my current appearance. Please let me change it now.”
Following that line, Ouka started emanating a very bright light. Her outer appearance that was of a nine-tailed fox began shrinking gradually until it turned into the shape of a person. After the light disappeared, she had completely transformed into a shrine maiden with fox ears.
“Is this alright?”
Even her voice changed to correspond with her current appearance as a woman. I answered her while still being dumbfounded. I didn’t expect her to transform into a human. I should have predicted something as cliché to happen, but still; witnessing a fox transforming into a human in reality is quite stunning. I kept gazing at the Ouka with an astonished face. She was shorter than me in height and her hair had the same yellow color that she had on her fur. Her chest was reasonably puffed and she exuded a neat and clean ambiance of an elder sister.
“Um, is there something wrong with my appearance?…”
When I kept staring at her for too long, she asked me while making an awkward smile. Karen who was trembling just now seized me by my hand.
“What are you fascinated by?”
I was just surprised to see her turn into a human. I’m definitely not fascinated by her. I asked Karen who was glaring at me to move her hand, but she refused for no reason and kept seizing me by my hand. She probably doesn’t want me to get some weird passion for animals. What a good little sister. Despite trying to make her let go of me, she kept teasing me while resisting seriously. It’s like I’m feeling pain, but it somehow ticklish as well. Ouka who heard our conversation giggled, seeming amused.
“You are getting well along.”
Both of us turned to see Ouka watching us with a gentle smile on her face before we both felt embarrassed and stopped pinching each other. Anyway, we went a little bit off topic.
“So, Ouka sama? We came here because the little fox asked us to follow him…”
“Hey, hey, Ouka-sama.”
“Why are these humans here?”
Right before I was going to get into the core of the matter, the foxes who were watching us from afar rushed near Ouka and interrupted me.
“There is no need for fear. These humans are not evil.”
“Waa! There a lot of foxes!!”
“A, hey, Rouga!”
After the foxes showed up, this time Rouga appeared without my permission. She probably got too excited from finding new creatures. Rouga ignored my words and approached the little foxes. On the other sides, the foxes were wary of her at first, but once they guessed that she’s wasn’t harmful, they approached her as well and started to get along in the blink of an eye.
“This is fun!”
So lively and energetic. They already started playing with each other. Ouka seemed to be surprised as well, but she eventually watched over them running with a warm smile.
“I didn’t expect that you would have your own shikigami. And this enormous spiritual power; I understand why Nayame was too excited.”
Well, Rouga is just a familiar. Instead of trying to fix her misunderstanding, let’s just get into the actual reason for which we are here for. I heard Ouka muttering to herself something about my magic being useful for something, but I just went ahead and asked her for what they need.
“So, Ouka-sama. About the reason the little fox brought us here…”
“Ah, yes. I was about to forget about the reason you are here for. Also, it’s fine if you just called me as Ouka. I don’t mind being called that way by humans.”
After finishing what she was saying, Ouka changed her laid-back expression into a serious one and continued.
“This mountain is going to collapse in the very soon in a near future.”
“Yeaay!” ← Rouga
“This is fun!” ← foxes
“They are so lively.” ← Yato
“Well, they are still kids, after all.” ← Ouka
“It feels good to be young.”
“I will look for a chance in tonight and bite them away when they’re sleeping.” ← Rouga.
Next Update: Thursday, May 17, 2018