3rd Person POV
"I guess I am the brave guy who will kill you all." The short man laughed viciously.
Hearing those words and feeling the sharp increase of the aura the man gave off, the group protecting the swallowed Nora and Tamamo did not falter. Mushashi gave a cursory glance to her surroundings but failed to detect any sort of support that the man could rely on, however, no matter how much he failed to find any, she still could feel her blood getting colder, and while it was not enough to affect her movements, Musashi was aware that her senses never failed her, there was another threat hiding nearby, it was simply a failure in her detection ability that she could not find it. Nonetheless, she could hardly focus on finding that threat. The enemy standing in front of her was not going to let her calmly search around.
"Musashi, Ei, you two take my sides, I will be the one to face him directly." Raikou said.
Raikou did not direct a single glance at Kasen, but the self-proclaimed hermit did not mind. She warily stared at the man, but soon furrowed her eyebrows before taking a few steps back and guarding the nine-tailed fox nearby.
Smiling creepily, the short man leisurely took a step forward before vanishing from almost everyone's perception. However, the ones that were the objective of the man did not miss his movements. Raikou raised the sheath of her katana with one hand and received and downward slash directed at her from above. The man had a nonchalant expression after being stopped mid-air, and Raikou did not even budge after the attack, before Raikou could even think of attacking back, the man used the point they were connected as a pivot point to push himself back, landing a few steps behind before taking a few more steps back to get out of the immediate range of attack from Raikou
"Jeez, how scary, even though I put no strength there, you stopped it so easily. That requires quite a bit of brute strength from your side... you look-alike a lewd human woman, but perhaps you are a lewd non-human woman." The man nonchalantly muttered with a carefree smile.
Narrowing her eyes, Raikou felt extreme indignation so she spoke.
"I am not lewd." Raikou said.
The smile on the man's face twitched a little at that.
"I don't think that is the main point... *sight*." The short man glanced at Raikou before doing the same past her.
With their guards, the highest they could be raised, Musashi and Ei held their ground.
"Well, I guess I will have to kill you one by one since you insist, although, a friendly reminder, you should come all at once, that way you will not harbor any regrets as you die, thinking you should've done so and you might've survived... instead, your faces would carry despairing expressions." The man said before vanishing again.
This time, Raikou used the sheath of her katana to block the next blow, but she was pushed back since she blocked a stab. Without hesitation, she counterattacked with one thrust of her katana but the man did not even evade, letting the katana plunge into his heart... or so it seemed. Raikou did not feel any resistance and black smoke poured from the 'wound'.
Clicking her tongue, Raikou circulated her ki and inwardly cast several enchants on her blade. By the time electricity coursed through the katana, the man had turned completely into smoke and drifted away. Warily taking a stance, Raikou raised the danger level of the man for the stun he just did.
"You are not a simple priest or blind believer. You should be at least a Deacon at least." Raikou muttered but her words only received a mocking smile as a reply.
Regardless of his provocation, Raikou kept a cold head. She had found the boy by coincidence, and she was almost torn up when she heard his voice. It was an absurd coincidence that they looked the same, but she took it as some sort of signal. She would not waste this chance, so she had to be careful.
Once again disappearing, the man exchanged several blows with Raikou, from the top, for the left, and he kept attacking from other directions as well. Each attack was faster than the last one, and more strength was added with each strike. Nonetheless, Raikou could still parry each attack.
"Ei-sama. Should we join in the fight? If we work together, we can probably take down the Deacon before he flees. They will run away once they notice the difference in strength." Musashi suggested.
Glancing sideways at the youngest member of their current team, Ei noticed signs of distress and urgency easily reflected on her face.
"I know that you are deeply worried about that boy, and the two of us also have our reasons to worry about him too However, hastily handling this enemy might be harmful to the boy." Ei calmly stated. "Currently, his life signatures are in no danger despite the fluctuations you can detect. Something must be happening to him inside Tamamo no Mae, but it is not urgent enough for us to drop the fight with that man. Besides, Tamamo no Mae is known as one of the three great youkais since ancient times. Do you think we could take down such a foe despite her wounded state? I believe that we should use the fact that she is not attacking and get rid of the greatest threat, that man, before acting against the nine-tailed fox."
Even as she spoke, Ei maintained high levels of alertness directed at the man. The words her sister muttered were not exactly true. The man could not be a simple Deacon. Raikou's question was a probing one, and only three people could understand the meaning of that phrase. Raikou, the man, and Ei herself were most likely the ones who were aware. Ei could take pride in her experience dealing with the cultists, and the same could be said about her sister. Nonetheless, Ei had to reassure Musashi so she did not take Raikou's words at face value. If the pink-haired young woman acted recklessly, she could be wounded heavily and that was taking into account her high dexterity.
"*sigh* Sorry, I just want to save him, and staying here doing nothing makes me feel uncomfortable. I will focus on defeating that man first, so wait for me, Nora-kun." Musashi apologized to Ei before glancing back for one second.
"I think that boy can pretty much walk out this one on his own. He has a weird ability to make allies so perhaps he will befriend the great youkai, heh, that would be too much, but I am not lying when I say that he has a strange ability. He was able to reason with my sister so he is someone who can make miracles come true." Ei jested.
"I can't deny that I impressive he archived that feat, but Ei-sama, aren't you being rude at your sister too much? She can be reasoned... ok, never mind." Musashi did not formulate further.
A shout full of fighting spirit was heard and the figure of Raikou splitting the figure of the man was seen, however, despite her best efforts. the man turned into smoke and just formed fully again a few steps away.
Nevertheless, such a thing did not discourage Raikou. She continued to plunge straight at the man with her katana. One change and thrust of her sword before slashing the body continuously. Not stopping, she linked one attack with the next one as she held her ground, yet there was this feeling that the short man was not taking the fight seriously, or maybe he was expecting her to simply waste her stamina by relying on his constitution.
The cracking of electricity is how you would describe the sound Raikou caused with each attack. Blue lighting expanded looking for its target after leaving the katana, but the lack of a physical body to latch into made it hard to accomplish the task. Raikou could see the mocking grin on the man's face as vanished once again Yet, she kept pressing forward, until, unlike before, one of her hands left her katana and pulled a bead from a hidden pocket in her waist. She crushed it with her hand and once again held her katana with both hands.
This time, the lighting did not simply scatter after not finding a target but instead followed the smoke before actually hitting it.
"Argh! How...?" The man's voice sounded in pain.
Despite not materializing, his voice drifted as the lump of smoke inquired. Until now, he had been careful and had not sensed an ounce of real threat from the woman if he turned into smoke. Only a few selected from that organization should be able to harm the immaterial transformation. It was a rare ability, that unlike the liquid or solid transformation, allowed him to remain unharmed unless the other party used high-level exorcizing spells or high-grade holy weapons. Unless-
"Is that man back!? No, that is impossible. If he was back, you would not use such a feeble method to attack me. It must be one of those beads he left before vanishing, but those were a limited resource. The event 40 years ago should've depleted the number quite a bit. You-" The man tried to continue speaking but Raikou did not allow it.
Taking the initiative to back away, this time Raikou pulled her bow as she sheathed her katana, and while the man spoke nonsense, she fired several arrows. The first three seemed to lodge into something despite the smoke-like state the man was in, but the others were avoided by openings the man-made in smoke, making the arrows pass through those gaps.
"Tsk." The man clicked his tongue.
Now that there was a way to harm him, the man took the fight more seriously. His hands, along with his sword materialized and attacked Raikou, but he kept most of the smoke away from the busty woman, in case she had other means to attack him. His actions caused her to change her method of attack again and she focused on using her katana, not before firing some random shots that missed the target. The man was able to see some strips of paper tied at the end of those arrows and that alarmed him enough to avoid them like plague.
Minutes went by and nothing worth mentioning happened.
Raikou did not sweat one drop as she parried attack after attack and that irked the man. However, what seemed to bother him more was that Raikou had gotten used to his movements and was having an easier time despite the rise in strength he used. He had already used strength-enhancing spells and several speed-rising ones but Raikou only got more and more collected.
"What is wrong with you? Were you faking the troubles I gave you at the beginning?" The man could not help but to stop his actions.
"Eh? You are stopping? I was finally getting the hand of it." Raikou absentmindedly asked.
"What do you mean?" The man asked once again.
He tried to take a materialized form but Raikou only smiled and swiftly sheathed her sword and pulled her bow before shouting two arrows. Her actions cause the man to maintain his smoke-like form.
"Isn't it quite easy to guess? You waste stamina by maintaining that form, isn't that right? Even if accepting the baptism of those foreign gods greatly enhances your powers, you can't honestly expect those powers to work with no downside." Raikou spoke in hopes to distract the man as she pulled another bead and crushed it. "I reckon that you like to toy with your enemies and this is the first time you face someone who is not helpless against your transformation so I will take a wild guess and say that you avoid facing those who are stronger than you."
The words spoken by Raikou irked the man, but he did not dare to get closer since Raikou's sword drawing was swift and he might get injured if he failed to land a proper strike.
"You only answered my question halfway." The man considered other options as he sent some distress signals to his partner mentally, but he did not receive a response.
"Certainly." Raikou nodded. "I must admit that my poor performance was that I was unnecessarily wary of your abilities, and that was basically because I had never fought anyone with a similar skill set. I have fought amply with people who can turn into that murky liquid, transport using shadows or darkness, and even those who harden their skin to an extreme degree, but those kinds of abilities only reduce the amount of damage received. That said, each one of them is tricky for your regular person and would require quite an effort to slay for those who face them for the first time."
Saying so, Raikou glanced at the group of people who did not dare to intrude in the fight as they gazed at the fight, at Tamamo's figure, and at Kasen who kept glaring like a hawk at anyone who dared to think of attacking. Inwardly, Raikou was thankful since that would prevent unnecessary casualties from occurring, despite not doing it for that purpose, Kasen was saving their lives since only a few selected had the skills to survive the tricky ability of the man.
"I see, you have met quite a few of our people already." The man's voice spread widely. "Good, good, since you seem quite experienced, deal with this!"
The man's sword was sent flying in Raikou's way. The voluptuous woman sidestepped to avoid it but in that window of time, the man took his regular form and pulled a blackened seed that he immediately swallowed.
"Finally. Ei, Musashi, be extra careful." Raikou warned.
With her words as the signal, a chilly and ominous aura enveloped everyone present. The man was no more, his transformation took a second, and in his stead-
"HELLO? Can anyone hear me!?" I shouted.
Nonetheless, I failed to get a response. Endless darkness as far as I could see.
"I am pretty sure I got eaten, and not in the way I would've liked to be eaten... and not by the fox I wanted either." I sighed.
I was having trouble using my ability, or rather, I felt like the connection to it was kind of blocked. Like when you are aware that you are dreaming but can't wake up, it is that kind of helpless feeling. Yet, I think that if I work long enough, I can get it to work. I was not sure how the heck the stomach of that cutie fox ended as such a wide space, but I have my body and clothes (thankfully, since I am not a nudist, you know?) so I could at least walk in this nonexistent ground. It was a similar experience as with He (?) so I used it pretty quickly. Yet, no matter how much I walked or even breakdanced, I did not seem to advance. That said, I kind of heard someone holding her laughter when I spectacularly used my moves, but it could be a mild case of multiple identities, or ghosts- I mean, stands.
"Since no one can hear me, I will use this chance to confess my sins... Nah, nope, not gonna happen. Too much time would be wasted and I will take those memories to my grave. Yasaka-san must never know I have been mixing dieting sweets among her usual rations. It is not like I am doing something bad by taking care of her health, but even if I cried tears of blood, her breasts were killing her and the cause was a recent upgrade in certain areas. She is that type." I mumbled. "Unfortunately, she is wary of my hands for some reason. I reckon that my lack of skills is the issue. I need to work harder and reach new heights. It is like patting, I can still improve."
Nodding, I concluded my course of action after this crap is over.
Then my mood pummeled, I am still not sure what to do.
"Come on, black cats are the incarnation of luck, work your magic Nora-kun!" I said as I scratched my neck.
Now that I noticed, the magatama was not hanging on my neck so I hastily searched my persona and found it neatly wrapped in a handkerchief and my pocket. I furrowed my eyebrows at that, I did not have the handkerchief with me before being swallowed and it did not look familiar, but an idea came to mind. Before carelessly speaking, I inspected the magatama. It looked blackened, the reason why I failed to identify it before, but as soon as I picked it, it started to regain the green hue I recalled, even giving a gentle glow. The darkness began to recede a little and some sort of path appeared.
"Not the craziest thing I have seen, so who cares? Let's dive into the unknown recklessly... or not, let's turn around a run as far as possible from that suspicious path." I said before doing what I mentioned but no matter how much I tried to walk away, I could not retreat. "*+-(/%(, it must be you that damn thing. Protagonist halo, I have been meddling with this world too much, is this the punishment? Dragging me into troubles as the reward."
I cursed and swung my hand threateningly at those damned high gods from this world, Draconic Deus. I am a humble guy who only wishes for a simple life where Yasaka-san and I live together in a house on the beach with a great view.
Resigned, I walked in the only direction I was allowed since the path appeared, before finding myself in front of some sort of wall, no, it is not hard like one and when I touch it, I cause ripples to spread.
Praying to Yasaka-san for a bit, I walked through the wall, and what I saw was-
3rd Person POV
The size of the short man reached 2 meters in one breath, his skin turned black like charcoal and some black liquid dripped from it, his torso expanded with a big belly attached to it, the legs remained as they were except that claws grew from the feet. The arms grew larger along with pointy claws on the hands. The eyes changed to bloody red and their numbers grew to four, but the older ones closed and never opened, instead, new ones emerged on his forehead, but at times those eyes would close and emerge somewhere else, and lastly, a pair of tentacles grew from his back. That was the shape the man took after swallowing the seed and everyone present could see those traits. As soon as she saw that, Raikou mumbled a spell under her breath to enhance her already absurd base strength, and prepared herself to face a difficult opponent. She was aware that using that pill was a double-edged sword for them, but that did not mean that they did not get any benefits. By using that pill, their powers would be enhanced, they would gain abilities similar to many deities under the god they believed in, and depending on their affinities, the power boost would be greater. That said, there were special cases of cultists with great affinity with several gods and that would give them a wide array of abilities, although that was a downside in Raikou's opinion given that their stamina ran out faster. Nonetheless, from Bishops to the Pope, they are people who have overcome that issue for the most part and could fight for long periods of time. For Raikou, it mattered not, she only heard that it was an estimation done by their current leader.
Out of nowhere, Raikou slashed forward and it collided with the claws of the man. Like two pieces of metal crashed with each other, sparks flew, yet Raikou held her ground. Despite causing a current of air to spread due to their movements exceeding a certain tree's hold, none of the two blinked. Rather, Raikou did not blink and two of the eyes from the man did not, the other eyes closed for a moment before glaring at her closely.
"WweRRE YyouU Hholdiing BBacK BbbefOOree?" The man spoke in a raspy tone as his voice took a sinister hue.
To the ones hearing him speak, they felt some discomfort since his speech turned strange, a downside to those who can't control the power of that god well. Such a thing half relieved Raikou, and it was only by half because it meant that the man was not capable of controlling his power well and could very well lose control and start attacking random, if you considered his special constitution, preventing him from harming the boy would be almost impossible if he abandoned defense. Raikou could also use that as a way to draw him in, by doing that, she was certain that her younger sister and Musashi would not fail to deliver critical blows, yet that did not mean that the man would be stopped.
"...Why don't you test that?" Raikou taunted by sheathing her katana.
Her hand did not part with her sword yet she smiled mockingly at the man. He growled and glared at her threateningly, he planted his claws on the ground even as his figure seemed faint for a second. He lunged at her soon after in a straight line, however, Raikou ignored the approaching man, and instead drew her sword in one single motion to send a slashing attack at the man's shadow. Like it could the tell it would be attacked, the shadow evaded and the figure of the man did the same, differently from how it would usually happen, the shadow moved first, instead of the body. Raikou did not stay idle and sent several slashing attacks flying. She had an absurd strength due to her heritage and only the winds she caused with each swing were enough to hurt people if she was serious, but coupled with her aura, she was capable of cutting steel like it was spicy tofu. Why spicy tofu? Because her sister once wanted to cook that and only the first mouthful of it made Raikou wish to hack it.
Thanks to her rather wild way of attacking the shadow, the movements of the bystanders changed, or rather, they did not stay idle any longer. The first to jump in was the oni-kin, he carefully took the long way so it was far away from Kasen. Despite his reckless actions, he did not dare to get inside the range Kasen had forbidden him to. Raikou narrowed her eyes at that but did not have the spare time to chide the oni-kin, she continued to focus on the erratic movements of the shadow that tried to pass her guard, for a moment, the shadows' movements came to a complete stop and the hands of the figure touched the shadow. Raikou, who had been waiting for that, dashed forward, and with both hands, she slashed downwardly at the man.
Held in place, the man did not stay in physical form but instead turned into black smoke. Raikou's katana crashed on the ground, making a deep crevice that extended for several meters, but Raikou only felt slight resistance when she slashed at the smoke so she could tell that the damage from her attack was hardly life-threatening for the man. She hoped that the bead she used to enhance her weapons did its job, and like someone heard what she wanted, the man materialized some distance away with a slash wound running down his should mid-torso, a little more and his whole arm and shoulder would've been chopped up. Nonetheless, Raikou was not very optimistic, he did receive damage, and that pleased her, yet that kind of wound-
"IIItT'sS tOOoo soOON tO cELEbrATE...!" The man smirked and his sharp teeth showed fully.
He simply used his other arm to stick his shoulder back. Raikou clicked her tongue and mumbled the chant of a spell. From the corner of her eyes, she observed how the arrows she shot shined for a second, but she did not focus too much on them and instead glared at the man. She did not pursue and continued to attack because she had continued to chant, but now that it was done-
Raikou lunged at the man, with katana in hand, she did a horizontal sweep that the man easily evaded by coaching down, however, Raikou expected that and without stopping her movement, she used the momentum of the slash to half twist her body and position herself perfectly to send a kick to the crouching man. This time, she connected a hit on his face, and using her inherited inhuman strength, she caused him to fly away. Normally, Raikou would be more pleased if her attacks had accurately hit her enemies, but this time she could feel her foot a bit sore.
"If a human recklessly attacked using her bare hands or feet, they could break their bones if they do not use Touki or Magic to protect themselves..." Raiko mumbled.
It was easy to guess what the man did, while it was still far from the level of cultists who could harden their skin even more and even return some of the damage you dealt, this particular cultist had a tough exterior. Thankfully, this man had different abilities, making it harder to strengthen and master them all. That said, the deities they believed in wouldn't have these kinds of downside so Raikou was not able to be completely pleased.
The man crashed a good distance away, ten to fifteen meters, despite having used his claws to slow down his flying speed and reduce the space he was thrown away. Nonetheless, Raiko noticed that he seemed to have underestimated her and the amount of strength she could use. Although Raiko could still raise her strength more, she could not help but hold back as much as she could. Her instincts told her that a threat greater than the man was looming nearby, one that she would not be able to fight on her own, thus she was biding her time to get reinforcements, but Yukari's absence despite her interest in watching over Kyoto. For a moment, Raikou paused her movements, but it was not because Ei had started to hold back the exorcist from interfering, or because Musashi was holding back the subordinates from the reckless Oni-kin that tried to attack the man she was fighting and crashed into a tree in the distance, no, it was not because the attack was useless and the man opened his mouth full of sharp teeth a fired something akin to a beam. None of those were the reason that the voluptuous woman stopped in her tracks.
"My mother senses' are picking something... does Yukari-sama have an interest in my boy?" Raikou widened her eyes.
Completely ignoring that Nora had repeatedly denied being something like that, no, being hers, Raikou made a wild guess. Thankfully, or regretfully, Ei, her sister and the one responsible to retort to her nonsense and stop her wild conclusions, was busy. However, in a very rare moment of clarity, Raikou shook her head and put those thoughts on the shake of her head. Still feeling odd about that 'realization' Raiko felt like venting out her feeling so she coated her blade with electricity, and dashed after the cultist.
After crossing that wall, the first thing I had come across was a path, it was a huge contrast to the black around me, a white path I had no choice but to follow until a bubble appeared in front of me, a large one that blocked my path all of sudden and it stopped my advance, not to mention my vision. Sighing, I just went through it. I was getting the hang of it, probably Tamamo wanting me to pass through it. Although the unwilling groan that I heard as I entered the bubble made me think otherwise. Nonetheless, I had already entered.
Inside, several blurry images appeared around me, they remained that way until the magatama I held shined. Soon, the images took a clearer shape. I could see the figure of a cheerful child with pink hair. She lived an ordinary in a village. Well, she was a bright girl so there were many times when she came up with ideas to help the people living there. They were mostly things that helped improve their lives. For a modern person, they were stuff you could easily learn and have access to the information about it, but for people of that time, they were groundbreaking ideas. The girl seemed to think that it was no big deal and laughed off most of the praises she received but that did not stop people from raising her status in their hearts. Just then, the sound of a bubble exploding freed me from the visions and I was once again able to see the path, no, the paths. While I was distracted, thinking about what I just saw... the path I thought would remain unchanged, changed, thus I noticed the branching of the path. Narrowing my eyes, I forced myself to see ahead I could distinguish several bubbles at the end of those paths.
"Hmmm, I knew it. Kitsunes are as troublesome as they are cute." I sighed.
I was sighing because I got a rough idea that it would take some time before I was able to go to the end of the path, whether I had to pass through every single bubble would decide if I will have to get used to living here for a long time or not. Nonetheless, I felt I could get a glimpse of the famous Tamamo no Mae. No, I recall that she had another name in those visions. I briefly wondered what she would prefer to be called but I did not stay standing in one place as what I considered that, I moved forward and before I knew it, another bubble was before me.
"Wait... if I am watching her memories... Would she would happen to be capable of reading mine!?" I panicked. "Listen, O' Great Youkai. The thing about me secretly designing some mini skirt maid outfit for Yasaka must remain a secret. Otherwise, you will know that cats are terrifying foes. I don't care if you are the strongest nine-tailed fox or not, you will get into conflicts with me."
Threateningly raising my fist, I slightly shook it as I narrowed my eyes. I swear I heard the giggling sounds of a young woman but no matter where I looked, there was no one there. Snorting, I let her laugh at me.
"Let's see if you can laugh at me after I see your black history." I threatened before stepping into the bubble.
Continuously repeating the same task was not monotonous or boring, I have to say that I enjoyed watching most of her youth. Tamamo no Mae was an amusing individual. She was rather silly, but she always acted for other people well being and she genuinely enjoyed bringing others joy. I could feel some bubbling empathy for her growing inside me as my understanding of her grew. I wished I could see more of her life but I arrived at a place that no longer contained bubbles and the way back was no more.
There was no need to guess that I either reached the end of the road or maybe Tamamo did not want to pry into her life anymore. I feel like it is the former since I was allowed free advance with interference despite how embarrassing the memory looked. I would get the feeling of shame and shyness now and then, something I considered coming from the mighty(lol) youkai. Well, she was a lot younger and her ears and tail were always hidden. Something you could not blame on the poor girl since humans back then were absurdly xenophobic and would reject anything or anyone different from what they already knew if it came from strangers.
In front of me, another wall-like thing prevented me from advancing. I tried knocking or hitting, but it was all in vain. I had been so long that I sort of understood that I was not in some physical place, but rather a mental one. The way everything changed was too sudden, similar to a dream... or if I am being crazy, some overpowered magic spell, although I doubt it such a thing, if you could trap someone in such a place and change really as you pleased, you could become the strongest creature on this world, and while in the novel there was not someone so strong, I doubted that they were just hidden. That said, I did recall a certain Longinus that had unusual abilities, and perhaps if you combined several balance breakers of that one and another broken Longinus, you could alter reality, the consumption would be too much for a human to bear. It goes without saying, Tamamo was a Youkai so she could not get that Longinus from birth.
Idly pondering over that, I leaned on the wall. I did not account though, that while I did that, the Magana pranked me and after shining, I passed through the wall. No, that is not correct, I fell through the wall. Lying on the ground, I blinked and cursed the object I held. Why did it not act when I was checking the wall? Is it because it takes time to do so? Could it be that I unknowingly triggered it? No, I did nothing strange other than gripping it harder.
"I must say, you are quite tenacious. Even though I did not want you to get hurt by that curse cast on me, I kept your consciousness inside my inner world at a certain distance from me. Yet, you shamelessly went through my memories and entered my innermost place. In simpler terms... I let you inside my house, yet you shamelessly started to go through all the rooms and you did not feel satisfied and entered my very own room."
A voice that contained a certain charm spoke, and I moved my head slightly to see the speaker. Like I recalled seeing her, there stood Tamamo no Mae, the strongest nine-tailed fox.
"In my defense, you have a lovely house and curiosity usually gets the better of me. You could call it RPG protagonist curse, a curse that makes you check every single place on the map without caring about privacy." I replied.
Her tone did not carry either goodwill or ill will, she only sounded exasperated, thus I answered as such. It was funny to see how she turned into a speechless kitsune. You could say that is normal for me, I do leave Yasaka-san speechless often after all.
"I thought that I spoke nonsense, but it seems that after so many years, someone like came to exist. I suddenly feel like my character overlaps, Tamamo shock." Tamamo no Mae mumbled.
I raised my eyebrow at that, she used a term that you would usually not hear from someone with her age.
"Fufu, your face says it all, Tamamo can see through you!" Tamamo no Mae smirked. "You were capable of watching my memories, why couldn't I watch yours? It was an equal exchange. That said, we exchanged only memories that we did not try to hide at all cost. The mind usually protects such a thing. If you had a mastery over your little jewel, things would've been different though."
"Somehow, you tell a young child that he needs to master his jewel, it sounds wrong. Ecchi." I covered my body as I glanced at Tamamo no Mae.
Once again, I left her without words, and her mouth opened and closed as she tried to find words to retort.
"You are not cute at all." Tamamo no Mae pouted.
"Thanks." I gave a cheeky grin as I stood up. "So, you ate me because you were horny or hungry... basically the same stuff if you think about it."
Rubbing my chin thoughtfully, I saw Tamamo's twitching expression.
"You are not trying to hide it." Tamamo no Mae mumbled.
"Even if the whole process is hidden deep inside our consciousness and it is not easy to access, you should've been able to see the moments when I nonchalantly muttered that when I was alone. I am aware that I speak nonsense, and that does not change when I am alone. Not to mention, that the way you looked at me was not one filled with pity or sadness like you would usually see a child that found himself in a precarious situation." I explained. "I am not smart, but I can at least read that much. That said, I am not sure if you feel disappointed or relieved to know about my circumstances. I guess I should be happy that you are not angry at me."
Observing me, Tamamo no Mae pursued her lips before sighing.
"You sure are carefree. Aren't you afraid that in reality, I am a terrible youkai like in the rumors? The terrifying nine-tailed fox..." Tamamo no Mae changed expressions into an evil grin, showing the sharp fangs on her mouth.
I calmly blinked at that display. Firstly, they were not exaggeratedly large, your regular fangs but she only exaggerated her expression to show them more. Secondly, despite trying to sound threatening, even adding some of her spiritual pressure (I shall call it that since I am in her inner world), I could see that she looked sad and hurt when she called herself a terrible youkai.
Once again, my guts told me to speak up my mind while my rationality told me to stay quiet. Thus, I opened my mouth to express something I had been thinking about for a while now.
"I am not being carefree. I can be many things, but the reason why I am not afraid of you is simple." I muttered. "You are a good kitsune, there is nothing evil about you. The fact that I am here unharmed proves it."
Tamamo no Mae froze and she lowered her head, the bangs of her hair covered her expression and I was unable to see what face she was making. However, the slight shaking of her shoulders and the raising spiritual pressure she was giving made me understand that she did not take nice my words. Somehow, I could guess her reasons, and as expected, she-
"Lies... what do you know about me? You think that by shamelessly prying into my memories, you can know everything about me? You have no idea what I went through." Tamamo no Mae lifted her head and showed a face full of rage. "I originally thought that you were a pure soul, a nice child since you tried to cover for me back then, but I learned that you were a reincarnation, my mind considered the possibility that you had ulterior motives so I was not sure if I should've attacked your or not, but the fact that you tried to help me made me hold back. However, the curse made my transformation lose control. I am not a fan of massacres so I sealed my movements..."
Doing several hand signs, I guessed that she spoke so much to distract me. Even knowing that, I could do nothing. My physical abilities were not the same as my youkai ones, I felt like I was back in my human childhood. Before, I tried some youjutsu or senjutsu, but I could do nothing of that sort. I briefly wondered if it was because Tamamo no Mae did something special or inner worlds were always like that. My time checking my inner world was used to confirm how my Ki was taking shape and to compress it so I had no need to try if I could cast spells.
"Who would've thought that my body would instinctively move by itself before I could completely seal myself. I guess I do have it in my blood, the instinct to harm others." Tamamo no Mae bitterly said. "Nonetheless, it was useless. I could not undo the curse they cast on me, in fact, it tried to corrode me. Thankfully, or perhaps not, you became a variable. No, to be precise, the thing hanging on your neck. Having the same rank as my mirror, that sacred treasure helped me to keep the curse in check."
As she spoke, several bubbles, large enough to make the ones I saw before look like specks of dust, manifested above us. Smiling helplessly, I continued to listen to her.
"No, to be precise, it tried to protect you. That is why the curse has not affected you, since you are inside my body, I have been protected somewhat too. Nonetheless, fate is cruel. My body has been cursed so I will soon end up getting completely corroded. I am not sure of the specifics of the curse, but I might turn into a mindless beast that destroys everything around her." Tamamo no Mae bitterly said. "In the end, I guess I am fated to do such a thing."
"Wait, if we use the magatama-" I tried to offer but she glared at me.
"Certainly, I considered that possibility. I planned to approach you, and trick you if I had to. However, you end up watching my memories and we ended here. Still, I wanted to propose a possible solution." Tamamo no Mae clenched her teeth. "However, you said something I cannot forgive. Only that, I cannot accept. So, I will take over your body and forcefully expel the curse using the magatama. No matter what, even if the magatama tries to reject me, I will do it, regardless of your will. In the meantime, taste a bit of despair. Me, a good woman? You know nothing. I am a monster, a monster who killed hundreds of thousands of people. Will you still be able to lie and call me 'good' when you go through the things that the people I murdered went through?"
Not waiting for a reply, she swung her hands down and the bubble enclosed us both. Soon, I lost consciousness. I felt like I was dragged somewhere and everything turned black.
"Rest assured. If I tried to truly kill you, the magatama would go berserk and the possession will be impossible. However, with this, you will show your true colors... just like them." Tamamo no Mae muttered.
I could feel the sadness and pain in her tone as my last consciousness was leaving my body.
To kill what was in front of me. That urge dominated my being as I marched forward. I felt a subtle confusion as I continued to march forward. We were the army sent by the emperor to slay the cunning nine-tailed fox that posed as one of the confidants of the emperor. She showed her true colors when a certain exorcist made an appearance and exposed her. She ran away and that was enough to brand her as guilty. Not to mention that resisting her capture cause several people to get hurt. Thanks to her absence, the emperor was finally free of her control after the exorcist got rid of the charms she had cast onto the emperor himself.
(Wrong, this is wrong.)
First, a small number of troops went after her, and many raised questions about such an approach when she was a frail woman, but there were no survivors. The exorcist explained that she was not a frail woman but a powerful nine-tailed fox, one capable of single-handedly killing hundreds of people with ease. That kind of news alarmed many retainers of the emperor and caused them to begin gathering a bigger amount of troops, an army, to hunt down the kitsune.
(Stop, this is not-)
Nonetheless, after facing her, her true form was revealed. It was a crushing defeat, no one died and that raised many questions. However, the exorcist endowed everyone with the truth. She only spared everyone because she was busy casting a powerful spell, and their death would taint the ritual.
(Urgh, why is this body not listening to me!?)
As a simple foot soldier, I only heard that a bigger army would be prepared to get rid of the nine-tailed fox before she could cast her evil spell. Our weapons would be enhanced by the exorcist so we could fight the kitsune. After rains of arrows, one after another, we were capable of stopping her casting. She focused on the army, while scarcely attacking. Those actions brought countless casualties and they once again understood how dangerous she was.
Heeding the warning from the exorcist, we turned a blind eye to her pitiful expressions, pleading words, and the like. Some of our troops were against continuing after seeing the youkai's tearful expression, but the commander made an example of them by killing them. The idea was not the best one because it enraged the nine-tailed, she reproached the commander for not taking care of his men and her words bought her some empathy from some of the troops, but the commander mercilessly killed a few men more, and that put an end to any possible protest that his men might start. Watching the hurt expression on the youkai pulled some stings on his heart, but by chanting the words the exorcist provided, he was capable to bury those feelings.
Hours later, their numbers were reduced to more than half so the commander strategically made them retreat. The youkai did not pursue them but she was not able to run away either, the exorcist had set up a barrier around her location so she could not escape.
Fearing a crushing defeat, the emperor sent more troops as he continued to gather more. Regardless of their age or level of training, no one was spared. However, it was far from enough.
(No kidding, you sucker. You are only alive because she is going easy on you. However, all of you are blind!)
Days went by, fighting nonstop with the youkai and many people dying, but their mission hardly changed. There were many complaints about the exorcist. The fact that he did nothing while countless soldiers died irked even the commander who was a keen follower of his order. That said, it was not only until the exorcist revealed that he was working on a special barrier that drained the youkai's energy and a way to seal her, only then, but the commander also accepted the explanation about their useless struggle.
(If I could move this damn body as I pleased, I would rip the heads of those bastards!)
For a moment, while he listened to the conversation his commander had, an impulse to do the unthinkable caused him to take a step forward but once he regained his bearings, he left the place in fear that someone asked about it.
The battle continued until the bodies of his comrades could make mountains if he piled them up, yet the job was not done. The remaining few thousand troops had surrounded Tamamo no Mae and he was among the first. Leading an elite group, he guided his commander until they reached the now exhausted youkai. Her beautiful visage rested her body on rock, and even though she was severely injured, her devilish charms made the undisciplined troops to be dazed for a moment. Thus, he hardened his heart and came forward, preparing to deal the last blow to the weakened youkai. Watching her, he could see her severely wounded state, but despite such a thing, what struck him the most was her eyes, he could tell that her suffering on the inside was several times more than on the outside. The katana in his hand hesitated for a moment, but he could not turn back. Too many people died at her hands, and many would die if he let her live, that is why he will-
(I told you to cut the crap! I would rather kill myself than do what you are doing! You bunch of cowards! Your so-called emperor is a bastard, why do you protect him? He caused such a good kitsune to end up like this because he was afraid and paranoid. She is a fox? So what? The fact that she is not human changes nothing, open your goddam eyes. Look at her past deeds, I remember that you were among the countless people that benefited from her ideas, ideas that you guys claimed to be evil after someone else pointed them out. You had seen her eyes before, her smile, can you say that she was evil?)
His katana was raised high in the air, but his hand refused to go down. Tamamo no Mae looked at him and did not even react, her lifeless eyes glanced at him and cast her gaze aside. Looking at the sky, Tamamo no Mae raised her hands towards the sky feebly. The yell of his commander behind him was urgent, it seemed he feared that the youkai could use any devastating spell, but it did not seem that way, he could tell that she simply tried to reach for the sky. It was hard for him to see so he decided to grant her mercy and-
(You dammed bastard, you still plan to do that!? I won't accept it!)
His hand refused to budge, he could not move it.
(Don't underestimate me! I don't care if I am only made to see this! I will find a way to change her outcome! I don't give a crap about justice or the right thing to do. She can be considered a damn villain with all the people she killed. Honestly, I am quite evil for thinking that they deserved to die. However, I am alright with that. Why did I want to save her? It might be because of my overflowing love for kitsunes and partly for my love for Yasaka-san, I won't deny that a tiny bit came from that side of me. It could be because she is a beautiful woman and she charmed me? Well, I am charmed, but her way of life is the thing I came to admire. Like the sun, she always brought happiness to those around her, such a thing was something I found extremely charming and I felt a little envious that she had that disposition, that said, I would like to follow her example and make my beloved ones the happiest people on earth. She has my respect, and as her admirer, and as someone who can understand her, I wish to lend her my support. No matter how useless it might seem, no matter how childish and nonsensical my actions might seem. I think that she deserves better than what she went through, and despite the futile of my actions, I want her to know that she should not despair, that there are people out there that can become her light as Kuroka-chan and Shirone-chan became for me. That's why-)
"I won't tolerate this crap, you bunch of heartless bastards. I heard you calling her a monster, but the only monsters here are you!" I spoke.
Controlling the body of the soldier, I stuck the katana on the ground and moved near Tamamo no Mae. She ignored completely my actions like she had given up completely on the world. In the same way, I ignored the angry yells of 'my commander'. I smiled wryly at Tamamo, but I still did what I planned. Gently, I picked her up in a princess carry. She was bewildered, and reacted for the first time, looking at me at least. Nonetheless, I could not stare at her pretty face. It was not like her charm caused me to blush or anything like that. No, something else occupied my mind. Since I was dragged here, I could feel the emotions and the pain of this nameless soldier, but now that I took over his body, the feeling has been magnified several folds. I had to do my best to not make funny faces, although I think I managed to make a reassuring face as I took Tamamo no Mae behind that rock she rested on.
"Tama-chan, wait for me here. I will do some cleaning here." I tried to sound as reassuring as possible but I only got a bewildered look coming from Tamamo no Mae.
I can't blame her, the man who tried to kill her suddenly picked her up and put her in a safe place before calling her pet names in a close manner. I should be glad that she did not try to kill me while she could.
Going back to 'my' katana, I saw 'my' comrades surrounding me. The sheer bloodlust directed at me almost made me faint, but for some reason, I laughed it off when I recalled my anger. Yes, they might be angrily calling me a traitor or making guess about me being charmed by Tamamo no Mae, but these people are my enemies, and it was like that the moment they attacked her. There is no need to pay attention to their malice directed at me. She had to withstand more than I am doing and she never trembled. No, there is no way I can tell if she was scared or not. My understanding of her is still shallow, and she could've been maintaining a strong facade to intimidate the troops.
Sighing, I stopped thinking about useless things. The moment I took over this body, what I planned to do was set in stone. Tightening my grip on 'my' katana, I used a swift motion to stab the first person to come near me.
It was a surprise attack and I used it to my advantage to pierce his throat.
Now then, what to do next?
It seems I reached my limit faster than I imagined.
Wiping the blood dripping from my lips, I swung my weapon in front of me to make my enemies back away. Several dead bodies lay around me, casualties that were caused by me, and while killing a dozen of men is a large amount for a regular person, I needed to be an irregular one. There were still thousands of troops gathered around here, but my body was riddled with wounds, from my time fighting and before I took control of this body. Moving caused me pain and my body felt heavy, and I am pretty sure that those sounds that kept coming from my body should not be coming from my body. I used too strenuous movements and tore down my muscles. After getting used to my youkai body, one that belongs to nekomatas that are unique, I ended up forgetting that human bodies are not that durable... not to mention that this one did not seem to have trained that much. I can't help but marvel at the unique cases of human miracles such as a Strada and Hero(lol) Faction that trained until their bodies were capable of fighting against supernatural creatures of high caliber.
Being asked to surrender quietly, I smirked and would've mocked them if I did not have to swallow a mouthful of blood that threatened to come out. Nonetheless, I could not fall here yet. If I had the energy to complain, I should have plenty of energy inside me. Scathach Shishou taught me that much when she left me hanging within consciousness and unconsciousness saying that it was the true limit when you could not even muster the energy to complain or groan from the pain. Recalling that, and the threat she left me about not losing to just anybody or she would double my training and add some serious survival exercises, I shuddered and found strength returning to my body. Inwardly nodding in realization, I could accept that Shishou called her words, 'encouraging' words to move forward, capable of releasing hidden potential (fear of training).
Twenty, that was my limit.
I am seriously dying here, if I died... Shishou would not pursue me in the afterlife and drag me to her training camp, would she?
Two more, and thus I fell face-first on the ground.
My efforts scared my former comrades and they did not let down their guard despite my collapse. It probably had something to do with fact that I failed a fall before and used the opportunity to counterattack.
At times like these, I think back at my battle, many mistakes were caused by my lack of ability, and while being in this sorry state had a hand on my errors, it was ultimately my lack of experience that let me loose so quickly. Despite using every dirty trick I could think of, I fell so easily.
Inwardly tilting my head, I waited for my death but it did not come. I nonchalantly wondered if it got lost on the way, but in all seriousness, I should be dead.
Suddenly, I could feel my body being able to move again and the pain easing up. Raising my body, I no longer saw my former comrades. In their place, bloody stains on the floor marked their previous position and-
"Why?" Tamamo no Mae asked.
The Kyuubi, Tamamo no Mae, was staying there with her posture straightened and looking down on me.
"You still had the energy to spare..." I bitterly said.
"That, I did." Tamamo no Mae confirmed. "Do you believe that fighting for mere three days is enough for a youkai of my level to lose all my powers? Ki users are known for their capability to fight for long periods, and their vitality is immense. Thanks to the barrier and the several spells covering this area, I suffered crushing damages to which I doubt I can easily recover, but I had enough power to wipe out such an army since the beginning."
Despite trying to use an indifferent tone, Tamamo no Mae's tone was a little downhearted. Her words might've sounded terrifying but her action during the fight showed what she truly desired.
"Silent? Are you disappointed? That your efforts amounted to nothing at all, that you suffered in vain." Tamamo no Mae coldly said. "You tried to act as the hero that saved the damsel in danger but you failed."
I could not help but chuckle when she finished saying that. Despite not doing it with the intention to mock her, she took it the wrong way.
"Not only you are an idiot who spouts nonsense, but you are also a natural death seeker, what did I say that caused you to laugh? Depending on your answer, I will reconsider finishing you off once I have finished using your body." Tamamo no Mae muttered.
"No, no, you seem to be mistaken. Despite your wide pool of knowledge, you are quite silly." I smiled wryly. "You have mistaken everything."
Listening to my words, Tamamo no Mae raised her left eyebrow and frowned.
"First of all, I am no hero. I have not even one spec of that hero caliber so you are terribly wrong. I did not try to help you because of that kind of complex." I exclaimed. "Secondly, my efforts were not wasted. Listen, and listen well, I am a selfish and whimsical individual, someone who does as he pleases. I have yelled before the reasons why I wanted to help you, no matter if it is because I felt that you and Yasaka-san overlapped, because I thought what you went through was unfair, or simply because I took a liking to you. No matter which option you choose, it is all esteemed from my selfishness. I did it because I wanted, and as I acted, I ignored your feelings. That is the kind of bastard I am. I am not a good guy, foxie, and you are not one either. Ahem. technically you are a gal so yeah. Ahem. You wanted to resign yourself to your fate back then, no, that is probably what you did in the past. You were tired, tired of betrayals and schemes against you. I could not blame you. If I had not met the light of my life, even my love for my beloved wouldn't have been enough to keep me going through those despairing and painful times. However, Tama-chan, you should change your mindset. You are now free, well, sort of. The world is a different place from back then."
"You think I have a death wish? I only showed you what I went through so you could despair and showed your true colors. I am not sure how you were capable of hacking into my spell with only your will, but you wasted your efforts in doing so, nothing you do or say will make me think you are a good guy." Tamamo muttered.
Slowly standing up while ignoring the pain, stood face to face against Tamamo no Mae.
"You don't need to, I don't care how you think of me. I just did what I wanted and you will do what you want. Although I feel like it is slightly a pity, I wanted to be friends with you." I regretfully said. "One thing though, take it into account. I know you can't change the past, but that does not mean you have to be indifferent about it. What happens to us indeed is what defines us, in a way, that is correct, but do recall that your fate is yours to decide. You can't allow your past to define your future. Even if things look bad, it will be you who will decide if they stay that way. Alrighty, do what you want."
"...you speak so much nonsense that I am not sure I can keep up with you." Tamamo no Mae spoke. "Are you not going to ask for mercy...?"
"Not at all, I said what I wanted to say, I did what I wanted to do. I am satisfied. I know you well enough, and I can tell that if you make up your mind to do something, you won't change your mind so easily. Tamamo no Mae is an amazing fox, after all, you are a Miko and a fox." I mumbled. "I would help you out there to the best of my ability. I think you deserve a second chance, that way, you could attain happiness."
Sighing, Tamamo covered her face with both hands.
"What am I going to do with you?" Tamamo no Mae tired voice was heard. "Sending you away into another one of these spells will not affect you, it is a bad idea to allow you to interfere in my spells. No, pushing you aside would be unwise."
Tilting my head, I wondered what she was up to. She kept mumbling in a low voice and I had a hard time understanding what she was saying.
"Argh! Jeeez! You! Are! Such! A! Troublesome! Man!" Tamamo no Mae exploded. "Answer me truthfully! Will you hold onto your words until the end? If I want to fulfill a dream I could never accomplish back then, you will help me, right?"
Pointing at me, she exuded a heavy aura and her words demanded nothing but the truth. Trickery will only lead me to death, and any goodwill she had left for me will disappear, or so my guts were telling me.
I was not sure exactly what she meant so I thought back about everything I said. Thinking back, she probably felt lonely and found herself at a loss over how to start her new journey. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she wanted a real friend that would not betray her, and I could do that.
"Sure, I will (be your friend)." I said in a resolute tone.
Friends do take care of each other.
"So you will (marry me and take care of me for life) help me, very well." Tamamo no Mae nodded. "That said, I can't trust you completely just yet."
Tilting my head, I gestured for her to continue talking, although I felt like her words had another meaning somehow.
"Ahem, I wish to continue doing the thing we did before." Tamamo no Mae muttered.
The mischievous me inwardly smiled and I hugged my body and put on a shy expression.
"You did not have enough the last time? What to do with you, I will get shy if we do it outside." I timidly said.
Tamamo's lips twitched and she once again was left with no words to retort until she put on a playful expression. I had a bad feeling and took a few steps back in response.
"That does not seem like a bad idea, Tamamo is hungry and you seem like a tasty treat." Tamamo no Mae seductively licked her lips.
I shuddered since it seemed like her eyes were directed in a particular way. She meant to eat me like I am a snack, right? She has not eaten for hundreds of years so her stomach is empty... right?
"No, no, no. Please don't joke around. I am not tasty." I vehemently shook my head while taking another step back.
"Fufu, there is nothing to worry about. In this place, I would be capable of eating you, but 'eating' you is another matter altogether." Tamamo laughed.
I sweated coldly and tried to take a step back again, it was like the distance did not widen even one bit. Shuddering in realization, I recalled that this was Tamamo's inner world.
"I-I am a m-minor, you pervert, you can't do anything to me." I pitifully declared.
With a wicked smile, Tamamo took a step forward.
"Are you mentally old enough, I am not completely sure about the details, but if you reincarnate, you can add your old age to your current one, can't you?" Tamamo took another step closer. "That being said~ I am safe~"
No, no, no, don't speak that nonsense. I am just a pure boy- ok, even I don't believe that crap.
"Can you change your mind? I will do whatever you say." I pleased.
Like her attitude from before was a lie, Tamamo no Mae changed gears.
"In that case~ Tamamo is a tiny bit curious about the rest of your memories~ So~" Tamamo gave me an upturned eyes attack.
This time, understanding that her swift change was because she had the other option in mind, I was not sure I wanted to retort. However, I was slightly relieved. I did not want to be eaten with a double meaning.
Seeing that I was taking my time to reply, Tamamo once again smiled wickedly.
"That said, I wouldn't mind going through both options if you are not pleased with only one." Tamamo exclaimed.
Shaking my head vehemently, I signaled her to stop in her tracks.
"Read my memories or whatever, I am fine with it. You already read a part of them and found out about my secret, there is no need to hide anything else." I bitterly said.
I also peeked into her memories so I guess it is only fair. I do not have anything to hide, although I am slightly afraid of how she will react after seeing the me from my past. I was not a good person, and I lived quite the debauched life for a while. I treated other people like strangers despite our long relationships and turned my bad to others. I was in the end, a lonely and pathetic guy.
"You don't need to force yourself to do it, you know?" Tamamo's kind voice reached me. "I am indeed curious, but that difficult face you are putting on makes me think that you are reluctant to do it. I am just curious about you and want to learn about you. More than anyone else, I want to understand the person who will be my light from now on."
Bitterly smiling, I blamed my easy-to-read expression that caused the nine-tailed fox to worry about me. It is no time to get chickened out. The past can't be changed, but that does not mean that I have to let it bound me. If she gets grossed out and disappointed in me, I will have to accept it because that is the result of my own actions even if they happened back then.
"Are you sure? I will probably be peeking at your memories too." I inquired.
"This Tamamo has nothing to hide, I am a guilty-less and fluffy fox-eared Miko." Tamamo patted her not-so-subtle chest.
Nodding at that, I decided to not resort, I would lose if I did. Interpreting my silence as a sign of victory for her, she extended her index finger to my forehead and I blanked out slightly. Different from the bubbles method, memories after memories were displayed and engraved in my head. I could not be certain, but I think that Tamamo was doing the same with my memories.
"I am disappointed in you." Tamamo shook her head as she stared at me. "Why have you not jumped at that Yasaka lady already? Where are all the guts you had to perform all those deeds with so many women before!?"
Somehow, after the memory reading finished, I was getting scolded by Tamamo.
"No, you see? It is different... It is the first time I fell in love, you know?" I shyly said.
"Geeez, that complicates things, if you are that slow with her, when will I get my- ahem, you know what? Tamamo is so shocked that she can't retort at you anymore. Instead, we should focus on getting out of our current problems." Tamamo muttered.
No, no, you can't retort anymore because you have been doing it for a while already.
"Even if you tell me that, I am just a weak youkai. You are far more powerful than me." I shrugged my shoulders. "Can't you just possess me as you said? If I ask this thingie to not hurt you, you can probably get rid of the curse without getting hurt. That said, the issue will come after that."
"You are quite nonchalant despite offering your body completely to someone you just met today." Tamamo retorted.
"Please, I feel like I have known you for ages. Besides, hesitating won't help, that is the only option I can see working. You mentioned that if I master this magatama, I could deal with the curse by myself, but that would take a while. This ain't a xianxia novel where I can just get a sudden inspiration in a pinch, I told you that I am not a hero so I don't have plot armor. You are more experienced in spell casting than me too." I replied.
Sighing, Tamamo exasperatedly stared at me.
"I am happy that you trust me, but if it happens so easily, it feels anticlimactic." Tamamo said. "The real issue is after we get rid of the curse."
"The man that broke the seal and his collaborator. They are big troubles, in particular the woman, she carries a coffin that I feel must not be open." I sighed.
"Honestly, fighting is not my forte." Tamamo muttered. "My dream was always to be a housewife and have a sweet and comfy house, but I end up picking the interest of the emperor."
Smiling wryly, I ignored her nonsense.
"Can't you still break havoc? If someone of your level did it, not many would be able to stand up against you." I asked.
"Naive! Tamamo is certain that she would be 100% defeated if she acted now. This is truly a pinch!" Tamamo mumbled. "I would dare to say that you have more experience in fighting than me so with that said, I will leave the fighting to you~"
Tilting my head, I made sure to ponder her words briefly. I almost felt like she asked me to fight in her stead.
"Fufu, your face says it all. I did not joke, it is the husband's duty to fight for his wife when she is being bullied~" Tamamo spoke in a playful tone.
Rubbing the bridge of my nose, I took deep breaths to calm myself down.
"Ignore the latter half of your words which are nonsense, you just asked ME to fight? I am too weak to face those guys." I said.
I knew it, foxes have an unreliable trait, no matter the fox. Even Yasaka-san mutters some crazy stuff once in a while... mostly when it comes to sweets though.
"I knew you would say that! That is why Tamamo has a wonderful idea! Behold! A technique I developed in the past after reading the records about a certain clan capable of fusing with monster souls, the harmonixers! I call it... Spiritualization!!!" Tamamo made a piece of paper appear out of nowhere.
Almost shoving it to my face, Tamamo smugly urged me to read the contents. I rolled my eyes at her enthusiasm but took the paper. I was prepared for some nonsense but when I learned that it was a modified version of possession spells, my eyes widened.
"This is...!" I mumbled.
"Fufu! Tamamo is a reliable fox when needed! Come and shower me with praise!" Tamamo muttered in a smug tone.
"Hahaha, you are really the best." I laughed and praised her without holding back. Heck, I even ran to her and gave her a hug that left her stunned.
This could work.
3rd Person POV
With a ruthless slash, Raikou hacked a familiar that the man had summoned when the fight did not look well for him. He had summoned several creatures that were like floating eyes, and while they were using that ability sparingly, they could cause several ailments and debuff just by glaring at someone. However, the most dangerous feature was the beam they could shoot that packed quite the punch. At the moment, she was busy taking care of the families while Ei, Musashi, and Kasen were keeping the man busy. Ei and Musashi did not have as much experience as her when dealing with cultists so they have taken a bit more time to get used to him, but Kasen played an important role by taking care of any deadly blow they could receive and would supporting them by doing follow up attacks. It left her slightly surprised that she had that much experience, not to mention, that her weapon naturally caused wounds on the man without using the beads. That said, the man also learned how to evade critical blows after being subjected to such a long fight.
Glancing slightly to one side, she observed how the spectator gallery had gotten involved in taking care of the familiar. The numbers kept pouring out of a special artifact the man pulled out. He sacrificed the tentacles on his back to fuel it and it now kept spamming his familiars nonstop. The cultist usually had a large amount of these on their rank, and they nurtured failed transformed individuals into this eyeball-like creature due to their usefulness. The fact that so many kept appearing was proof that they have been kidnapping people since a long time ago, and while it is not widely pointed out by anyone, the number of citizens in the cities does get reduced often.
The other option for a large number of creatures was that they managed to make contact with one of their deities and they provided access to the countless nightmarish creatures residing in their godforsaken location. It gave her goosebumps every time she imagined that, but Raikou wanted to believe otherwise.
The oni-kin from before had to go back to coordinate with his subordinates a defense so they would not get wiped out, and the same happened with the youkais and humans who took each a different zone and took care of the summons. The large figures of golden and brown nine-tailed foxes breathing fire were capable of mowing down most of the threatening creatures so Raikou did not have to worry about the orders to assist them if needed. That being said, her earlier assumptions were proved to be true when a barrier was erected around the artifact that prevented her from destroying it. The man had not done that so it was obvious that another person, an ally of the man did it. Nonetheless, if there was something that she could not understand... that would be why that person erect a barrier around Tamamo no Mae as well.
At some point, an obvious change occurred and everyone could feel it. The barrier surrounding Tamamo no Mae was unable to contain the burst of energy being expelled from the kitsune so it broke down. A loud howl coming from Tamamo no Mae made almost everyone grimace in pain and made them cover their ears, but despite some people being prepared to face a rampaging fox, the nine-tailed fox shrank in size little by little until only two figures were left. Both the boy and the young woman had their eyes closed and seemed to be in trance and in no time, the young woman, Tamamo no Mae opened her eyes and did several hands signs before finally turning into a spec of light and entering the boy's body. Before long, a transformation followed. The cat ears and tails from the boy were hidden and his body began to grow, or age until he looked several years old, around his late teens. His clothes seemed to be from a special fabric since they stretched as he grew, such a thing caused a few people to sigh in disappointment but everyone tactfully did not point it out. As soon as his height reached 180cm, the youkai traits reappeared, however, this time the boy, no, the teen had a pair of fox ears on top of his head and one by one, several tails sprouted from his back until nine fluffy tails were in sight. Whether it was because Tamamo no Mae had been cursed and his fur turned black, or maybe because it was his natural color of fur, the ears and tails were pitch black. Opening his eyes, red pupils appeared for a moment but soon enough, a gentle green light coming from his chest changed that and his eyes turned green again.
"Spiritualization: Tamamo no Mae, Nine-Tailed Mode." The teen, Nora, mumbled under his breath.
His voice was the same as when he changed using his own ability, but there was something different about him that made the surrounding people not be able to look away from him. Just like Tamamo when she appeared, a certain charm oozed from his body and that was proved for a certain number of females when he smiled.
"Suzaku!? What happened to you? Kuhh, accursed cat, you made Suzaku faint."
A certain old mad muttered.
"Kuroka, Shirone? Are you too ok!?"
A certain kitsune worriedly asked.
"Dear, I want the divorce."
A random exorcist lady mumbled listlessly as she fixed her hakama.
The list of people who reacted strangely to the cat, no, the now nine-tailed Nora, would've made him speechless if he had been paying attention but he was busy closing and opening his hands and getting a feel of his new form. Feeling the strength coursing through his body, Nora grinned and that whether he planned it or not, affected his allies, and he noticed their situation.
Fighting the man, Musashi and Ei had stopped briefly affected by Nora's appearance, and the chance was not wasted by the man who sent them flying, Raikou ran as fast as she could but could not stop the attack, and Kasen who had the role of supporting them was the most distracted, almost dropping her broadsword. Nonetheless, the pair of young women were sent flying and Nora reacted by moving at a speed that you could not follow with your eyes, he caught them both midair. He slowly descended using footholds he created in the air as he held both stunned young women by their waist, his hands dangerously close to an area that would usually get someone slapped and sued for sexual harassment, however, the pair were too stunned to complain or even speak, and the reason was-
"Are the two of you alright? I hope you are not hurt." Nora flashed a gentle smile as he asked. "Sorry if my handling is a little rough, I am getting used to this form. Let me thank you for protecting us while we were unable to act, now you can leave the rest to us. Take a rest."
Mumbling such a thing, he took advantage- righteously healed them using Senjutsu as he spoke. None of the two heard a word of what he and simply meekly nodded. Musashi could not be any redder and her mouth flapped open and her eyes were spinning, it seemed she had reached her limit and before reaching the ground, she fainted. On the other hand, Ei was not sure if she should be thankful that she was an avid reader of Shoujo manga since it raised her resistance to ikkemen (handsome men) situations, but instead raised her delusions when she got herself involved in one, like in this situation that she could almost imagine several roses as a background for the person holding her. Regardless of her inner thoughts, Nora simply landed on the ground and handed Musashi to Ei.
"Could you take care of her for me? It would mean a lot." Nora muttered.
Dumbly nodding he thanked her with a smile and she dumbly smiled back before he disappeared again. Shaking her head to get rid of her distracting-but-definitely-worth-remembering-delusions, she noticed that her sister was in a pinch along with Kasen who were both sent flying by the man who attacked them when he saw them in awkward situations.
First flew Kasen followed by Raikou, the first time both of them got hit was because they were distracted. For Raikou, it was because she tried to reach for her sister but Kasen's case left a few people speechless.
Repeating his earlier actions, Nora caught Raikou and Kasen, although due to certain differences in 'size', his hands ended up-
"Ara?" Raikou opened her eyes wide and covered her mouth with one hand, her thoughts were unclear but she did not try to remove the hand on her waist that was bordering-
"Nora-kun!" Kasen mumbled affectionately.
The subtle or rather, not so subtle feelings expressed in her voice made Raikou snap out of her surprise and furrow her eyebrows at Kasen, although the pink-haired young woman did not pay attention to it as she gazed at Nora with something he would describe as Otome eyes or shoujo manga eyes. That gaze felt somewhat burdensome so he did not retort it, instead, he smiled wryly.
"Kasen-san, you came..." Nora muttered.
"I told you before, I am your ally, you needed me so I could not fail you." Kasen smiled. "Hopefully, this was the time you needed me the most... If something else- no."
Turning her head away, Kasen spoke in a hushed but worried tone. Turning a blind eye, or ear in this case, to her words, Nora directed an unfriendly gaze at the man who had an enraged expression. His animosity was palpable and Nora responded by righting his grip, which earned him a pair of happy and slight sensual yelps coming from the people in his arms, but he acted oblivious to avoid getting in troublesome situations.
"IignNoring Mme!!! YooUu arRe sEeAkkKing dEeath!" The man angrily exclaimed.
Signaling his summons, they all dropped whatever they were doing and started to channel their energy into their eyes. Nora wouldn't have minded if they attacked his current position since he was midair and could easily avoid it, but their targets were Ei who was holding an unconscious Musashi. Clicking his tongue at that nasty attempt by the man, Nora immediately moved and in no time he was standing in front of them. He lowered Raikou and Kasen who looked somewhat unwilling to part with him for some reason and took a step forward to shield them.
Being unable to speak until now for several maiden reasons, Yasaka, Kuroka, and Shirone reacted to his sudden action to jump into a dangerous area.
"Nora-kun!" "Nora-nya!" "Nora!"
The three voices filled with worry made Nora glance at them with a reassuring smile.
"It is ok..." Nora turned his head back to the man.
A vicious grin covered the man's face, and combined with his unsightly transformation, he looked repulsive, but the confidence in his action was easy to react and he seemed to be expecting a particular outcome.
It did not take long for the creatures to shoot a beam in Nora's way despite Yasaka desperately trying to destroy as many summonses as possible.
Standing motionless, Nora mumbled a few words under his breath.
"Heed my call! Yata no Kagami!" Nora extended his right hand forward.
Lying on the ground, forgotten by everyone, a mirror with ancient decorations reacted and flew.
Before the several beams landed on Nora and the young women, the mirror got in between just in front of Nora's stretched hand.
"Yata no Kagami: Absorption." Nora's voice could be faintly heard.
What happened next was something that only those who were paying close attention were capable of understanding. Unfortunately for him, the man was gleefully laughing with all of his eyes closed so he missed it. All of the beam shoots were swallowed by the mirror that seemed to have an attraction force no matter the position or direction they came.
After one second of not hearing the sound of destruction, the man opened all of his eyes and they widened in surprise but then he narrowed them in anger.
"What are you so surprised about? Out there you will see people that can double the power or even halve your attacks, compared to that, this is nothing much." Nora sneered. "You had such a good time bullying them so it is a bit of payback time."
Ending his words, he released a difficult to withstand pressure, it pushed down hard enough on most people present, causing them to freeze on the spot and have felt a certain dread. The man was the one who had it worse since the place he was standing sunk because the pressure on him was the strongest, although people that had a relation to Nora seemed puzzled by what was happening around them since they felt nothing.
The man was about to curse when his eyes widened in surprise after Nora appeared in front of him with his arm in a punching position and unable to move from the pressure, he was sent flying backward, but the strength of the punch not only caused him to fly but almost burst through him and caused indirect damage in the surrounding area.
"Areeh? Arerereehh? I think I powered up a bit too much..." Nora muttered while sweating coldly.
Thankfully for him, a mountain was in the direction he had attacked because the ground as the man was sent flying was destroyed... along with a small building.
Glancing in the direction of the youkais and exorcists, Nora straightened his posture, wiped his sweat, and fixed any wrinkles from his hakama. Pointing with his right hand at the man's location he put on an angry expression.
"How despicable to lay waste to such a beautiful landscape, even targeting the building!" Nora rightfully accused.
A certain phrase appeared on everyone's mind at the same time, 'no, no, it was clearly you who caused that'.
Not much to say here, you can see several scenes of Raikou fighting and while the information can be said to be a lot, it is part of what I plan to add for the enemies, such as their abilities and the like. Well, there is still much to show so this is not all.
Do leave any questions you might have, below, I will reply them if I can.