Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Chapter 3 – The Mysterious Shrine Maiden
After we finished our unplanned work at the beach house owned by Sawada-sensei’s family, we went back to the beach to have fun. At that time, Ryo and Shingo-kun were approached by women. Many people also approached me, probably because I stood out at Ginji-san’s beach house, and that confused me.
However, we didn’t have to worry about anything happening to Kaori and the others again like at the beach house, thanks to the fact that we all stayed together as much as possible.
Then we went back to the cottage for our dinner and to have a rest.
In the meantime, I moved to a secluded place and went home to prepare dinner for Night and the others. Ouma-san seemed to have slept all day, and everyone stayed quietly at home.
When I finished preparing Night and the others’ meal and snuck back to the cottage, Yukine brought a book with her from her room.
“…Everyone, do you have a minute?”
“Hmm? What is it? Yukine-san.”
When Kaori tilted her head, Yukine held out the book in her hand and proposed to us.
“…Do you want to test your courage?”
“A test of courage?”
Rin and Kaede seemed to have realized something – especially Kaede, whose cheeks twitched.
“Yu-Yu-Yu-Yukine-chan? Are you serious about this… test of courage?”
We are confused by Kaede’s loud shout at Yukine’s words. W-what happened to her?
Then, Rin smiled bitterly and again told us about the occult research club that Yukine is a member of.
“So, is the test of courage… related to that club activity?”
“…It’s not just because of the club activities. But when I was researching the cottage area before coming here, I found a place that looked like a good place for a test of courage. So I just suggested it.”
“A good place for a test of courage?”
Kaede continued to react loudly to Yukine’s words. Maybe she’s not very good at ghosts and such… Fortunately, I’m not so bad at it, so I’m fine.
In a different world, I had fought with a ghost type monster called “Wraith.” I don’t know if the ghosts in this world have the same characteristics as the monster called Wraith, though.
“I used to come here a lot with my father, but I didn’t know there was such a place…”
“…Yeah. There seems to be a pretty old shrine.”
When Yukine replied to Kaori’s surprise, Ryo suddenly had a question and asked her.
“I understand that the shrine is the best place to test our courage, but is it open at night?”
“…It looks like it’s open. But you shouldn’t make any noise. Just enjoy the atmosphere.”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Even though it’s open even at night, causing a disturbance was out of the question.
“…So, we should all go to the shrine.”
Kaede raised her hand when Yukine said that with an unusually rough snort.
“No, no! I don’t want to!”
“…Lie. Kaede seemed to like it even though she said she didn’t.”
“I’m not that weird.”
“It’s interesting, you know?”
“I-I’m also a little interested!”
Kaede looked around as if she was looking for a friend, as if she didn’t expect that there would be so many people interested in a test of courage.
“T-that’s right! Shingo-kun? You don’t want to do the test of courage, right?”
“E-eeh? W-well… I’m sorry about that. I-I’m also a little interested in it…”
Kaede’s face turns pale in despair. She seemed to be in a state of shock.
“Yu-Yuuya-kun, how about you…?”
“Eh, I-I was… sorry, I’m not that bad at it, so…”
“Uuugghh. I don’t have any friends!”
Kaede groaned and got teary-eyed. I-I’m sorry for what I said.
Then, Rin laughed out loud at the sight of Kaede.
“Ahahahaha! Just give up, Kaede. Besides, the place we are going to is a shrine, you know? Isn’t it rather safe?”
“You see, a shrine is a place where gods reside, right? There won’t be any scary devils or ghosts there, you know?”
“I-I wonder if it’s…?”
Rin said this to persuade Kaede, but is it really true that a shrine is safe? Although it is open at night, a shrine is like a home for the gods, right? Even humans would not like it if people came into their homes without permission in the middle of the night. I feel it would be somewhat wrong… But if that is the case, wouldn’t it be a nuisance to make a New Year’s Eve visit to the shrine?
Kaede was about to be persuaded by Rin’s words, but then she noticed something and shook her head.
“Ha! B-but if I don’t go, I’d be safe to begin with!”
“Rin-chan, why did you click your tongue?”
“Geez,… then, do you want to stay here?”
When Rin’s unexpected words surprised not only Kaede but also us, Rin grinned.
“We’ll simply go to the shrine to test our courage. If you’re scared, you can wait for us here, Kaede. But you’ll be alone in this cottage, you know?”
Kaede shrieked at Rin’s smile. Rin-san, you have said a terrible thing…
Then, Kaede shivered with tears in her eyes and finally screamed.
“Ri-Rin-chan, you’re a demoooonnn!”
──Thus, Kaede will also participate in the test of courage.
“A-Are you okay?”
“…It doesn’t sound like it, but…”
As we approached the shrine, Kaede seemed to get more and more scared and was now clinging to my arm. At first, I was very nervous about Kaede clinging to me, but the way she clung to my arm and how she looked at me made me more worried than nervous.
“Um… If you’re so scared, do you want to go back to the cottage?”
“Don’t leave me aloneeeeeee!”
“No, if you’re going back, I’ll stay with you…”
But Kaede didn’t seem to hear my words and kept walking while shaking her head. In the end, we’re going to go with everyone…
Then I noticed Kaori was watching Kaede and me.
“Kaori? What’s wrong?”
“Huh? N-no, it’s nothing!”
If it’s nothing, then it’s probably nothing.
“Ugh… I should have been scared from the start too…”
With that thought in mind, I turned my attention to Kaede, who continued to struggle with her fears, and did not notice Kaori’s murmur.
“Yuuya. You are also a sinful man.”
I tilted my head when Rin said that in a meaningful way. Sinful, huh… did I do something to offend anyone?
As we moved forward following Yukine, we stopped when she stopped.
“…This is our destination.”
“Wow. It’s huge.”
“Y-yeah. And it’s pretty mysterious…”
As Shingo-kun said, the shrine in front of us looked more mysterious than scary due to the fact that it was in the middle of a forest with the moonlight shining on the shrine.
The beauty of the place made us admire it for a while.
“I didn’t know there was a place like this nearby…”
“It’s a nice place, regardless of whether this is a test of courage or not. Kaede thinks so too, doesn’t she?”
“U-Un. It’s beautiful…”
The mystical sight of the shrine seemed to make Kaede forget her fears, even if this was only temporarily. And then Yukine, who was also admiring the shrine and the surrounding atmosphere, muttered.
“…It’s beautiful. But it wasn’t the right place for a test of courage.”
“Well, that’s okay. That’s how we got to see the beautiful scene──.”
It was the moment when Rin was about to say so.
“──I feel some mysterious presence.”
Suddenly, a woman slowly appeared from the shrine.
The woman was dressed in a shrine maiden attire. Her glossy black hair was tied on both sides, and her bangs were neatly trimmed. Her eyes were lifted up, and she seemed to have a strong spirit.
She looked to be about the same age as us, but she seemed to have a holy aura about her.
When all of us were surprised by the shrine maiden’s sudden appearance, Kaede pointed at such a woman and exclaimed.
“Where’s the ghost?”
The woman’s words were met with a look of disbelief. We came here to test our courage, so I can understand why Kaede might think she’s a ghost. But no matter how you look at it, she’s a shrine maiden of this shrine.
The shrine maiden let out a sigh and looked over at us.
“There’s something strange going on here, so I came over to… what? You don’t look like worshippers, are you?”
Yukine answered the shrine maiden’s questioning expression straightforwardly.
“…We came here to test our courage.”
“Test your courage? Eh, you’re…”
“…..? What is it?”
As soon as the shrine maiden gave Yukine a sharp look, she moved away from Yukine with an astonishing speed.
“! You’re possessed by something outrageous!”
“……? Something outrageous?”
“How could you not notice? Oh, geez! I’ll exorcise you right now!”
The shrine maiden then pulled out what looked like a talisman from out of nowhere.
Then, chanting something in a voice we couldn’t hear, she threw the talisman at Yukine’s shadow!
“What the hell are you───?”
Then, Yukine’s shadow suddenly swelled, and a black mist appeared.
What the heck is this…? This is not a different world.
“Yu-Yuuya-san, what is that”
Kaori, who also knows about the different worlds, had her eyes wide open, not expecting to see such a monster on Earth.
Kaori and I were so surprised, but Kaede’s surprise was probably even greater.
“Yu-Yukine… Have you done something again?”
While Kaede and the others are pale and trembling, Yukine doesn’t seem to be too frightened. Is it a daily occurrence in the occult research club?
I looked at Yukine, but she kept a straight face and nodded quietly.
“…It surprised me.”
“Don’t you understand it?”
Rin immediately tsukomied her. I-I’m glad to hear that… I was wondering what I would do if someone told me that this was the norm…
With that in mind, the shrine maiden who threw the talisman that may have caused the monster to appear in front of her paled as she faced the monster.
“W-what on earth is this thing…!”
“It is neither an evil spirit nor a youkai… I’ve never seen such an evil being!”
It seems that this monster was unexpected even for the shrine maiden. Then the black mist began to change its shape as it looked around. The creature now stood on two legs, its entire body heaving with muscles.
The claws and fangs were sharp, and the skin was black as if the shadows and darkness had become flesh.
…Eh? This is…
The moment the monster screamed a cry that cut through the air, Kaori and the others fell to their knees.
I tried to pick up everyone in a hurry, but the monster threatened me, and I couldn’t move as I wanted. What the heck is this thing…!
Then, the shrine maiden, who was the only one to get down on one knee, looked up at me in pain, and opened her eyes.
“H-how can you… in this situation… still remain unaffected…! Or rather, there’s also a hint of wickedness in you too…!”
“W-what do you mean by that… I don’t know what…!”
For me, it was as if everyone had suddenly collapsed due to the screaming of the monster in front of me. There was nothing wrong with my body.
The monster seemed to be even more alarmed by the fact that I was not affected in any way. While I was confused by the situation, Kuro, who had been quietly sitting inside me all this time, called out to me with a big sigh.
“Fuwahh… There was a strange presence, so I came to check it out… Why is this guy here? Hey, Yuuya. This is the place called Earth, right?”
“Yes, but… Eh, Kuro! Do you know what this monster is?”
“I know what it is; it is an existence… that has failed to become an Evil.”
“So, it’s an evil beast?”
When I listened back to the unfamiliar words I couldn’t help but ask, the shrine maiden who was moaning in pain looked at me with a doubtful expression.
“? Y-you… who the heck are you talking to…!”
“Eh!? Oh, that…”
“…You’re so careless, aren’t you? Oh well. Listen to me without talking. The evil beast in front of you is not a good thing either for you or for this world. I don’t know why it’s in this place at all, but… first of all, if you leave it alone, there will be some serious problems.” said Kuro.
Even if you say that it will cause a lot of trouble…!
The evil beast is so strong that it’s called the evil incarnation. Night and the others are not here right now… Will I be able to handle this on my own?
As I was feeling uneasy, the evil beast, which has been on guard for a long time, attacked me as if it had lost its nerves.
“Ugh? T-that’s dangerous!”
The shrine maiden tried to take out some kind of talisman again, probably to protect me from being attacked, but she couldn’t move her body enough and ended up losing the talisman from her hand.
I considered hurrying to avoid it, but I couldn’t because Kaede and the others were just behind me.
Then, my body, which naturally moved to fight back due to my training with Master Usagi, kicked the evil beast on the side of the head while half dodging its attack.
The evil beast took my kick and was blown away, hitting a nearby tree and slipping down.
“I thought it was a decent kick, but you’re still standing, huh…?”
Even though I kicked it with all my might, the evil beast was still alive as it tried to stand up, though it looked like it was in pain. Although not completely, it still has the power of evil and is probably quite strong.
“If that’s the case…!”
At the moment when the evil beast hurriedly tried to retake its stance, the shrine maiden unexpectedly jumped out. She released a talisman at the evil beast.
“Get out of here!”
When the talisman touched the evil beast, it began to suffer. Then, it desperately tried to remove the talisman but was unable to do so. Finally it disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
T-that talisman is… or rather, who the heck is this shrine maiden?
“More importantly, how is Kaori and the others!”
I rushed over to Kaori and the others to check on their condition. Then, it seems that all of them are just asleep, which is a relief.
When I turned my gaze towards the voice, I saw a languid-looking shrine maiden glaring at me.
“Why were you the only one who was safe? And can you explain to me the power… that overwhelmed the monster earlier?”
I was at a loss for an answer, not knowing what to say.