[x] Do as she says.
You wordlessly stand from the table, walking over to the door. You hestitate for a moment as your hand touches the wooden door handle. Why are you doing this for that woman? This isn’t your home. You shouldn’t even still be here right now. You have things to do. Things to kill. And this woman is getting in the way. Getting in the way, getting in the way, always always getting in the way. What a troublesome creature she is. How irresponsible and stupid and…
“Oi, open up already, it’s freezing out here!” a rough woman’s voice calls from outside the door. So, it’s an acquaintance of Kamishirasawa, is it? Then there should be no reason to worry about a youkai trap waiting beyond the door, then.
You tug at the handle, but you meet resistance. Oh. You neglected to unlock the door. At once, you rectify that error, and allow the door to swing open, letting in the cold night’s breeze into the house. A girl of somewhat short stature stands waiting outside, with her hands shoved into the pockets of a baggy pair of pants covered in paper charms. Her light-colored hair is long, reaching down to her ankles.
At first, she doesn’t notice you, lowering her head and attempting to walk in when she finally sees you blocking the doorway. She looks up, and her young face carries an expression of shock, which turns to confusion, and finally to anger.
“You…!” she says, gritting her teeth and baring her fangs—not nearly as prominent as those of a youkai, but still sharp compared to most humans—like a beast.
Without further delay, she winds back, and throws a punch at you. Before it can connect with your jaw, however, you snatch her arm by the wrist. The girl winces in pain as you forcibly lower her arm. This is… the immortal phoenix, isn’t it? Yes, you’ve met her before, in that bamboo forest, along with those other youkai hunters…
“I told you not to show yourself in front of me ever again,” the immortal girl spits out with immense dislike, tearing her wrist away out of your grip.
You give no reply as you stand there stoically in complete silence, save for your breathing. Yes, what happened then was regrettable, but necessary, and if she chooses to hold your actions against you, you have no objections.
If this girl associates herself with that Kamishirasawa woman, then does that mean she is also a member of that group of youkai exterminators? Or, are they affiliated in another way? If that’s the case, then it might be worth something to stay for a bit. After all, it would be beneficial to receive information about the more powerful youkai…
“What are you doing here, anyway?” she asks, not looking directly at you. “…Oh forget it, you’re not going to even answer me anyway. I’ll ask Kamishirasawa myself. Move out of the way.”
She roughly shoves past you, stepping further inside, and you follow her, shutting the door behind you. At the dining room, the immortal girl briskly strides over to the sleeping form of Kamishirasawa, nudging her awake using her foot.
“Hey, hey, wake up already,” she says impatiently.
“Huuhhn?” Kamishirasawa responds sluggishly, groping around with her arm until she has a grip on the other girl’s pant leg. “…oh, hey Fujiwara.”
“Careful, don’t wake the brat.”
“…yeah whatever,” she lets out a big yawn, covering her mouth with the back of her hand as she sits up without disturbing her daughter. “What d’you want?”
“Well, I’d like an explanation as to why he’s here, for one,” the immortal girl says, pointing at you. “…And secondly, did you do anything to piss off the tengu recently?”
“The tengu?” Kamishirasawa raises an eyebrow, intrigued by the question despite her reddened face. “…No, why do you ask?”
“I spyed a couple of long-nosed crows watching this place while I was out there.”
That’s all you need to hear.
They must be after you. You need to leave this place now, before the tengu associate you with these people. Trying not to attract the two’s attention, you silently make your way toward the door. The door gives a creak as it opens however.
“Wha… hey! Where’re you going…!?” Kamishirasawa’s voice calls from inside the house as you step out.
Looking back, you see the woman rising to her feet, but the immortal girl grabs hold of her waist, pulling her back.
“Just leave him! If he’s got something to do with those tengu, it’s not our problem!”
Hmph. She’s saved you some trouble, whether that was her intention or not. You shut the door behind you, and step outside into the open air. As you take a few steps forward, your eyes dart about. Three… no, six… that’s not right either. In total, there are about fifteen enemies surrounding you.
You put some distance between yourself and the shabby home, not wanting to destroy it in the upcoming battle. It would have been better if you could leave this village before things start, but you know they wouldn’t allow you to.
Finally, a couple of them show themselves, black blurs darting into place in order to bar the path in front of you. Crow tengus, wearing that same mask the one you killed had in possession.With a sense of urgency, they whisper to one another.
“…be careful,” you hear one of them say.
“…don’t lose your head…”
“…he can transform his body into stone…”
You stand there, fixatedly staring at them. If they’ve come to assassinate you, then they have only come to die. As if you’ll allow them to end your undertaking for the sake of their own vengeance. Looking over them all, you put on an eerie smile to psyche them out. Raising one leg, you pantomime crushing something underneath your foot.
That gets to them. That gets to them a lot.
“You bastard…!” one of them shouts out as he rushes forward.
“No, you idiot, don’t!”
The one who took the bait flies toward you, his wings outstretched as he draws several knives from his sash, holding them between the knuckles of his hands. You jump up as he takes two swipes at you, slashing only the air. He kicks off of the ground, flying up after you. An idiotic move. You calmly draw a fist back and slam it into his head, sending him crashing to the ground and kicking up a lot of dirt. Not quite enough force to kill him, but it’s rendered him unconscious and bleeding.
You gently float back down to the ground, staring at the remainder of the tengu. If they were sent to kill you, then there’s no way that there would only be crows. Where are the wolves hiding? And where is their commander…
Your attention snaps back to the home behind you when you hear the door swinging open. Kamishirasawa stands there quite sobered up and shocked at the scene she sees in front of her. Following behind her is the immortal, redfaced and rubbing a bump on her forehead. There, now that woman won’t want anything to do with you. You won’t need to worry about that annoyance anymore.
You’re sent flying off your feet by a sudden force striking against your body. Twisting in midair, you manage to flip yourself over as you hit the ground on your hands and feet, skidding back. Recovering from the pain of the unexpected blast, you straighten yourself up in order to look at your assailant.
Walking toward you, accompanied by several armed wolf tengu, is a short, gruff-looking old man, holding a three-ringed staff twice his height. The old man has an unusually long nose, and light hair and beard. He looks about at the crow tengu already present, his eyes lingering on the fallen one next to your feet, and assumes a look of disgust.
“I told that idiot not to rush ahead of everyone else,” he says distastefully. “Honestly, you punks. You’re all over a thousand years old, so start actin’ your age, why don’t you.”
The other tengu apologetically bow to this old man, though he pays them no mind. His attention is fixated on you, and he calmly strokes his short beard with his thumb and forefinger.
“…so you’re the youkai-slaying god,” he mutters, his expression grim. “Didn’t think that the killing of one of our clansmen would incur our wrath? …No, of course you knew. You just didn’t care.” He laughs darkly as he says that. “…boy, vengeance begets only more vengeance. I know that, and you know that.”
“So if you understand that, then leave him alone!” Kamishirasawa yells from the doorway, glaring at the elderly tengu.
“Sacred Beast,” he begins to respond gravely. “…you would ask me to neglect cold-blooded murder? There’s no reason to shelter this man, and you’ve given us enough damned trouble by rescuing him from us when he was at his weakest. Don’t cross us again. Do not forget that it is partly thanks to the tengu’s influence that this village remains safe.”
Kamishirasawa opens her mouth to reply, but the tengu cuts her off.
“Don’t be a fool, Kamishirasawa!” he warns, slamming the end of his staff on the ground for emphasis. “You won’t interfere in this…”
He points two fingers toward the house and raises them up as Kamishirasawa attempts to step out. Immediately, the ground at her feet shakes, and with a startling bang, a solid wall of stone rises up, blocking off the entrance to the house—no one can get in, no one can get out.
“Let’s get this over with,” the elderly tengu says, now turning his attention back to you. He looks about at the rest of the tengu. “…You all, get away from here. You’ll all just die otherwise, so scram.”
“But Master Ogata!”
The other tengu reluctantly fall back, leaving only the elderly tengu standing there. He shifts the staff to his other hand and cracks his neck, rubbing his shoulders. “…haven’t done this in a looooong time,” he mutters to himself.
And then, he stands there, focusing his strength. He grits his crooked, darkened teeth as his body shakes and trembles.
And suddenly, he explodes in size. His muscles swell up, his crooked back becomes straight and he grows in height, going from a dwarf who was barely about as tall up to your chest to a heavily muscled, hulking giant with long white hair and beard who now stands at at least twice your height and four times the bulk. He reaches for the top end of his staff, and grips it, revealing it to be concealing a blade proportional to his own size as he draws the length of the metal from the rest of the staff.
“You are… the tengu king,” you say, recognizing him. “Sojobo.”
“Not anymore,” he replies in a booming voice, snorting. “…Just a mere teacher.”
He tosses away the sheath of the blade, and holds his sword with both hands, pointing the very tip of it at you. He narrows his eyes, and then draws back his enormous sword, now raised to the sky.
And then, despite his massive size and bulk, he manages to vanish into thin air and out of your sight without a sound.
[ ] Block.
[ ] Dodge.
[ ] Counter.