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Chapter 4 – Wriggling Malice
I was able to get permission for Kaori and the others who were still asleep to rest at the shrine, so I took advantage of the hospitality and carried everyone to bed.
“───So? What was that all about earlier?”
After putting everyone to bed, I was interrogated by the shrine maiden like that.
“Um… I don’t even know what that thing was either…”
“You’re lying. You must have something to do with it, right? Otherwise, it wouldn’t explain your power to defeat the monster earlier.”
“Even if you say so…”
When asked if that has anything to do with me, it seems that the monster is an “evil beast” that is a corruption of the “evil” from the other world, so I can’t say that it has nothing to do with me. However, I have no idea why such a being appeared on this Earth.
For a moment, I thought that the door to the other world in my house might be the reason why it came out of there. Still, it would have to break through the mysterious barrier covering Sage-san’s house in the other world. More importantly, Night and Ouma-san would have noticed it… though Ouma-san would likely have left it alone.
With that in mind, the shrine maiden, who once again wore a serious expression, opened her mouth.
“I don’t know exactly what, but there is a presence of evil in you, too. So, I will exorcise it.”
The sudden offer made me shout in a distracted voice.
“Do you mind? I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but I can feel the same evil presence in you as in that monster. So if I don’t exorcise it right now, you’ll be in trouble again.”
“Eh, no, that’s…”
“Hey, is this woman trying to make me disappear?” said Kuro.
The shrine maiden’s words made Kuro, who was inside me, panicked. Certainly, the evil beast was extinguished with that talisman, and it may be effective for Kuro as well.
“Um, It’s not like I’m───.”
“It’s okay! For now, take off your clothes for the exorcism.”
I opened my eyes to the shrine maiden’s sudden request. Eh, taking off my clothes?
I was confused, but the shrine maiden frowned unhappily.
“Can I? In order to exorcise that evil presence, we need to borrow power from the holy air that floats around the world. So, the more skin you expose, the easier it is for the holy spirit to enter. That’s why I’m telling you to take off your clothes because they’re in the way.”
“Yuuya! You should never take off your clothes!” said Kuro in a hurry.
“No, I’m not taking my clothes off!”
“Why not? I said, take them off!”
The shrine maiden finally took a hard line and tried to pull my clothes off! I know she’s trying to be nice, but I don’t want Kuro to be exorcised, and I don’t want to take off my clothes either.
I’m stronger than her, but if I resist with all my might, I might injure the shrine maiden, and more importantly, my clothes will tear.
W-what should I do with this?
“Oh, geez! Stop your useless resistance!”
“N-nooooo! Help meeeee!”
“…Yuuya-san, what is going on here?”
When we were startled by the unexpected voice, Kaori was glaring at us with fierce eyes.
“Yuuya-san… who is that woman over there? And why is it that Yuuya-san is undressed…?”
Kaori was about to say that much, but she seemed to recognize my current appearance once again, and her face gradually turned red.
“Ka-Kaori! It’s a misunderstanding; it’s a misunderstanding!”
“T-that’s right! It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong…!”
The shrine maiden and I rushed to clear up Kaori’s misunderstanding. Then Kaori, who managed to regain her calm after resolving the misunderstanding, looked around again.
“By the way… where are we? We were supposed to have come to test our courage…”
In response to Kaori’s reaction, I couldn’t help but look at the shrine maiden, who also had a puzzled expression on her face. No way, does she have no memory of meeting that evil beast?
Then after Kaori, Kaede, Rin, and the others woke up, and everyone was confirmed to be safe. However, none of them seemed to remember anything about the evil beast.
Seeing the reaction of Kaori and the others, the shrine maiden quietly approached me.
“…It seems that everyone doesn’t remember anything about that.”
“Phew… I would really like to ask them some questions, but they don’t seem to know much about that monster either, so there’s no need to tell the rest about it. I’m worried about what it might do to their body later, but I’ve never seen anything like it before, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Well, I’ve been attacked in the same way, and there’s nothing physically wrong with me, so I think everything will be fine…”
Certainly, considering the fact that everyone suddenly fainted, it would be better to think of some kind of effect.
For the time being, I checked the condition of everyone with the [Identification] skill, but I didn’t see anything strange.
“It’s okay. Anyway, if you learn anything from this, don’t try to test your courage again; just leave quietly.”
That’s all the shrine maiden said as she turned to leave.
When I hastily stopped her, she looked at me with a slightly unhappy expression. But, undaunted by such a gaze, I opened my mouth.
“Um, I’m sorry about this… And thank you for letting Kaori and the others rest here.”
“…I don’t mind, that’s about right. But next time, you should be a little more careful.”
“Yes… we’ll be careful.”
As we were about to leave, the shrine maiden unexpectedly called out to us.
“Huh? I-is it me?”
The shrine maiden looked at me closely and asked quietly.
“…What’s your name?”
“Eh? Oh, I’m Yuuya Tenjou.”
“Fumu… Tenjou, right?”
As the shrine maiden muttered that to confirm, I couldn’t help but ask her.
“Um, and you are…?”
Shrine maiden-san, or… Kagurazaka-san said and turned her back on us once again.
“I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you again at some point.”
That was all Kagurazaka-san said, and this time she left. After that, we went back to the cottage quietly and went to bed immediately.
The next day, we made it back to our hometown safely.
“Well, the beach was fun!”
“Y-yeah. It was fun to play with everyone.”
“Though we were a bit confused when we were suddenly asked to help Sawada-sensei’s family!”
“That’s true. I was more surprised about meeting Sawada-sensei at the beach.”
“…She was boing boing.”
Rin murmurs with a wry smile as she recalls her memories of the beach.
“Even so… the fun time flies by so fast.”
“That’s right… I had a lot of fun playing with you guys too! Thank you very much!”
“That should be our line, you know!”
“Yeah. Thanks to Houjou-san, we were able to play with all our might like this.”
“R-really? If you say so, it’s worth inviting everyone!”
“But now that the beach is over, the summer vacation will continue for a while. Can we go out again somewhere?”
When I suddenly suggested this, Kaede’s eyes lit up.
“That’s good, let’s play, let’s play! I’ve already finished my summer homework, after all!”
“That’s because I took care of it for you.”
“Thank you very much for the help, hehe…”
“…So, what’s next, a summer festival?”
“Oh, a festival! That sounds great.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah! Then let’s have a festival next time!”
So, after promising to go to a summer festival, we parted ways this time.
Then I went straight home too…
“You’re back, welcome home.”
“Mmm? You finally returned. Now, prepare the food. I’m starving.”
Night and the others greeted me.
…In the past, it would have been hard to imagine. Playing with friends and having someone welcome you home like this.
While enjoying such happiness, I prepared food for Night and the others. But as I prepared the food for them, I kept thinking about something.
What is that monster… the evil beast? I’ve heard that it’s an incarnation of evil…
What’s more, how can it cross into this world?
I asked Ouma-san about something that had been bothering me.
“What is it? I’m hungry now. Go ahead and make me some food! I want to eat curry!”
I was going to ask him about the evil beast that had crossed into this world, but as I was busy preparing the meal, I missed the chance to ask him.