“He’ll be seeing you. Please wait here for awhile.”
There was a land in the outskirts of the city with a scenic view brimming with nature.
If spun negatively, however, it could also be described as an old land that reeked of mud with nothing but plants and vegetation.
Regardless, it was in a land such as that that an ancient Japanese mansion with a long history stood.
Within that mansion was an open area with an open veranda through which a guest suddenly arrived and was ushered into the guest room.
The young female servant told him to wait.
With white hair and white beard, the man was as old as he looked, but his straight back and muscular physique that was visible even through his clothes betrayed his age.
That physique gave a sense of power to his movements as he quietly sat himself at the foot of the table.
His looks made it clear that he was not Japanese, but for some reason, he seemed overly familiar sitting in the seiza position.
“It is rare for you to come visit me.”
As the fusuma (Japanese sliding screen) opened, the master of the house revealed himself and asked that question.
The master and the guest were both advanced in age, but though the master’s hair was just as white, his bent back and use of the cane made him appear much older than the old man visiting.
The master of the house looked like a good-natured old man, but he did not appear to be sincerely welcoming.
The guest could understand why, but despite that, he bowed his head quietly.
That was both a greeting and an apology, but the old master did not budge.
“I understand very well that I have no right to be here, but there is something that requires me to bear this shame and seek your counsel.”
The old foreigner did not use any of those translators that have been popular among the public recently.
Instead he spoke fluent Japanese while keeping his head down.
The old master looked at him for a while, then he let out a sigh and sat himself at the head of the table.
“You can’t even walk out in the open, and yet you came to meet me directly. The situation must be urgent. Well, what is it?”
With the permission of the old master, the old guest raised his head and took out an object wrapped in a cold-colored cloth from his pocket.
“Is that… A cloth of sealing?”
“Yes, before she died, she told me to use this to cover any object of unknown origins.”
“I see, it seems that something of yours must be truly problematic.”
That short exchange full of meaningful words was more than enough for the old master to understand the situation.
His sharp eyes darted away from the old guest and onto the package as his consciousness transformed into something beyond the norm.
The old guest sensed that change, so he slid the object on the tatami and unbound the cloth to reveal a red metal fragment the size of a hand.
It was nothing more than a fragment of the real thing, a scrap metal, but…
In the next moment, a powerful shockwave attacked the old master, forcing him to stagger while still seated.
When the seal was unbound, the powerful ‘something’ within was released and the dimensional space within the guest room began to distort.
The old master watched on as the familiar scenery within the mansion twisted and the familiar colors transformed.
It was a transformation akin to the ‘darkness’ enveloping the world.
The thick ‘darkness’ was trying to dye everything in its own color.
Or at least, his special eyes made it seem that way to him.
Meanwhile, the old guest could only look anxiously at the old master, not understanding why his countenance suddenly changed.
But the old master could only see the old guest’s face distorted by the darkness, so he could not see his expression.
“Hurry and bind it! Are you trying to blow away this mansion!!?”
The old master almost screamed when he reprimanded the old guest, while the latter immediately returned the seal, restoring the original appearance of the manor to the old master.
There were still some residues left, but they were nothing to speak of compared to how thick that darkness was.
Apparently, despite how viciously thick it was, it did not spread that quickly.
“…Just where did you find that thing?”
Yet the old master already looked exhausted after that one glimpse.
He was so haggard it seemed he’d used up his remaining life.
The object had once again been bound in that cloth of sealing, so the aura emanating from it has already been suppressed, yet the old master continued to look at it with great awe and – for some reason – reverence.
“To think there would exist something that could emanate a ‘ki’ like that in this age. Did your people dig up the sacred body of a god  from some old ruins?”
It was such an absurd example that the old master didn’t dare believe it, but if not that, then what else could possibly explain this?
Yet the truth of the matter transcended even that.
“N-No, this is a fragment of my subordinate’s exoskeleton.”
The old man was struck speechless for a moment, but he quickly calmed down and asked the old guest to explain.
However, that was only on the surface, and deep inside, the questions never ceased, the disbelief only growing stronger.
“It was roughly a month and a half ago. One of my subordinates was hit by an unknown enemy with a mysterious attack, shutting down almost all of the internal functions of the exoskeleton. The subordinate using the exoskeleton saw some kind of illusion too and went berserk. We somehow managed to calm her down, but everyone that tried to examine the exoskeleton hallucinated or fell sick as well.”
“So you suspected it might not be something from this realm. You’re not wrong, but… This is beyond my pay grade.”
The timid respond of the old master surprised the old guest.
But the old master didn’t show any signs of being dispirited, and instead replied as though that was a given.
In fact, he even seemed astounded by the old guest’s gall.
“But of course, no human could possibly win against a god. Not only have you antagonized the world, now you’re even picking a fight with a god. Truly not knowing to treasure your lives.”
“…A, god? But that can’t be…”
It was this old guest who sought the old master for his strange abilities, but even he did not expect to hear the word, god.
Especially since no one who saw that would associate the word ‘god’ with it.
“I don’t know what you saw, but that thing I saw was without a doubt ‘Divine Ki’. Do not look down on the aura of the gods. They are on a different level of existence than humans. Should they will it, even their killing intent alone can easily obliterate us.”
The old guest knew that the old master was neither trying to intimidate him nor make him laugh; hence, he could only swallow his breath in response.
But then the old man suddenly dropped his solemn face and laughed sarcastically.
“They’re supposed to have restrictions on how much they can interfere, though. Either way, all of the gods that could do something like that have long left.”
“T-They’re gone? But there are so many gods all over Earth, and they have believers too.”
The old master was surprised that the old foreigner – or rather, old alien – knew that much.
The old guest seemed to be asking him, ‘then to what exactly are the believers of the world praying to?’
It was an honest question to an alien culture, and the old man readily answered with his own opinion.
“Who knows? Maybe they just return to square one, but regardless, all the gods with power have already gone. The true faiths have long since faded and most of the people don’t believe in supernatural powers either. Since the power of the gods is essentially the power of faith, it isn’t wrong to say that there are no gods left in modern day Earth.”
If there are some left, they would have to be weak imitations to the point that it was doubtful that they even existed.
Or at least that should’ve been the case, but… The old master glared sharply at the seal.
“As someone who has lived at the border between humans and non-humans, I have never seen the real thing myself, but I have felt an aura akin to that of the gods several times. However, this aura is just too thick. And this malice… This aura might just belong to those evil and heretical gods spoken of in the myths────But wait, on second thought, that might not be the case.”
 [Transliterated: Go-Shintai. An object believed to contain the spirit of a deity.]