『What’s so special about you people anyway when you’re just fools contaminated by the ideologies of your family? A group of fools with a painful misunderstanding.』
The black mist seemed to shrug its shoulders, and the men seethed, but the mask’s scorn showed no signs of stopping.
『Oh, while I was making fun of you, it appears that I’ve completed locking onto my targets.』
Apparently, the black mist was just buying time, but there was a tinge of amusement and provocation in its voice that reminded Tomoe of a certain boy’s mocking face.
『────Turn the depraved into ash,
…The voice suddenly changed and a wave of tension washed over everyone.
Quietly and briefly, the white mask muttered
There was a mystique to it that made it sound like a mantra or a ritual prayer.
That’s why Tomoe and the monks believed that something was about to happen, and so, braced themselves.
In the same moment that the chant ended, the white mask easily threw the wooden box into the sky.
And then a loud noise erupted as a great crimson flame burned vividly in the sky.
Everything nearby was dyed in the fire’s hue, only the color of the mask remained darker than even the abyss.
At that, the monks and the girl looked up speechlessly in shock.
Neither a skill nor spiritual power had been used, and yet such a powerful blaze had been called forth.
Everyone could feel the heat on their skins, but it was then that the monks realized what was happening, and they laughed.
“…F-Fu ha ha ha, you fool! Did you think you could put a stop to that thing by burning it? Now that the seal on the box has been undone, the only fate left is for this entire region to be contaminated—!?”
Just as the monks were mocking the mask’s foolish actions, a ghastly shriek resounded from up above.
It was a sound that did not seem to belong to this world, and yet somewhere someway it sounded just ilke a human’s voice.
───GAGAGA, UGUGAaa, stop ittt!!
When they looked up at the fire burning in the sky, they saw a twisted face screaming in pain.
Perhaps it was a lump of curse, of grudge, or of madness, but regardless, the great fire sought to burn it all up.
───It hurttss, I’m, going, to disappearrrrr, ugyaaaa!!!
As the very curse itself writhed in pain, it vanished right before their eyes, leaving behind only ash, but even that was scattered by the wind.
The monks were in such disbelief that thei mouths were left hanging.
But the mask gave no regard for them and only muttered.
『It’s been awhile since I last saw such dirty fireworks… There’s no charm to it at all.』
The voice sounded as though it truly found that to be a pity. It was as though none of this was related it.
Did the mask even understand how absurd its actions were? It was hard to judge.
“…I know it saved my life and all, but I can’t believe there are two people with the same terrible personality here…”
Tomoe figured that the mask probably did understand what it had done and was playing dumb just to inflict more damage on the monks.
“I-Impossible. We spent so many years preparing that thing!” A monk said.
“And yet you were actually able to burn it up with just some fire!?” Another monk said.
“Don’t screw with me! I’ve never heard of something so ridiculous!!” A third monk said.
Sure enough, the monks refused to accept reality and started moaning.
The girl couldn’t see past the mask, but she felt as though she could see a crescent smile right behind it.
Because of that she knew she could remain calm.
“Enough! Calm down already! It’s not over yet! If we can just stop this thing, the others will—” The old monk said.
“A-Ahh! C-Chief, look!!” The old man tried to calm down his flustered subordinates, but a pathetic voice sounded back.
“What!?” The old man said, annoyed, but when he looked up, he gulped.
As though to crush their hopes and dreams, several pillars of flames had erupted.
About 20 meters high each, they dotted along the coastline.
Because of the position these pillars of flame, it didn’t take the monks long to realize what was happening.
“Y-You couldn’t have!?”
『I did tell you I’d finished locking onto my targets.』
It wasn’t possible to see all the pillars of fire from where they were.
But because they knew the location of the curses, they could sense that their trump cards were being turned into ash one after another.
“C-Chief, all of the presence is disappearing, they’re all burning!” A monk said.
“I know! You, how dare you get in the way of our dearest wish!!” The old monk said.
Realizing that they’d failed, wrath took fear’ place, and the monks were able to surrounding the mask as they glared hatefully at it.
At the behest of the old monk, the monks struck their khakkharas into the ground and rung the loop on theirs.
As metallic sounds resounded, a circle floated on the ground.
It surrounded the mask, and then drew complicated lines that bound it.
“A Spirit-Binding Shiki’s Crushing Formation!?”
『A magic formation meant to capture a target and crush it to death, huh.』
At almost the same time, the girl and the mask were able to figure out what kind of spell that was.
In the next moment, the spiritual lines jumped out and wrapped themselves around the black mist.
When the old monk saw that, he gloated, and a spiritual vibration ran through the circle.
“Crush him to death!”
As the mask felt that, it sighed, and was about to make a move, but then it stopped.
Something had entered its sight.
Under the impressed voice of the mask, a katana struck the area near its feet.
In the next moment, the force accumulated on the outer circumference of the circle exploded
The real people behind the shiki couldn’t feel pain, but the sudden impact still made them cry out in anguish.
“GAH, DA, KU…W-What happened!?”
“Uu, GU, impossible. We failed?”
『…How foolish. To not even know the difference between failing or being made to fail, do you even intend to proclaim to the world how lacking you are? 』
As the mask sighed, it pulled out the katana that had struck the ground near its legs.
When they saw that, the monk finally realized who had intervened.
“Woman!! What did you do!!?”
『What do you mean what? She identified the origin of the spell, then struck with her katana filled with her own spiritual power to intervene and reverse the flow. 』
The mask explained amidst sighs, as though to say, ‘you couldn’t even understand that much?’
That was why the spell that should have crushed what was inside it released the force outward instead.
Yes, a girl had hijacked their spell by throwing a katana at it.
“With this, I’ve repaid my debt!”
Tomoe proudly made a V sign, and the mask chuckled.
Shocked at the fact that a lone girl had turned their own spell against them, most of the monks blanked out, but the rest lost heart.
“In that moment? That’s impossible!”
“What is this? Just who are we fighting with!?”
After all, they had just lost to the person they were looking down on in the field that they were so confident in.
They prided themselves in knowing every ‘devil’, but then came along someone who knew a fiendish ‘devil’ that they did not know of.
That fact and its existence tore apart their pride.
“I-Impossible! We are the ones who’ve inherited the long history and knowledge of the Ootsu! And yet you’re saying that we lost to an incomprehensible specter!? And that we’re inferior to a little girl with filthy blood!!?”
The old man yelled in a hoarse voice, not knowing that the more he yelled, the more miserable he became.
It was curious if the mask felt pity for him, or if it thought it had been too lenient, but regardless it stood in front of the leader’s shiki and spoke.
『───That’s the difference between a pebble just happy to show off its coating, and a precious stone that continues to polish itself. Those satisfied with just their lineage could not possibly compare to a genius that has always been training.』
Oh, how ugly the inferior fake is in the presence of the original’s brilliance.
Eyes darker and deeper than darkness, they looked down at the shiki of the old man.
And when the old man beheld those eyes up close, he fell to the ground in fear.
“Eek! Y-You’re a real monster!”
『Unfortunately, I’m something beyond that. Either way, it’s much too late to be noticing that just now, old man.』
Based off the voice, the person behind the shiki leader was likely an old man, but the mask didn’t hesitate to swing down with the katana in his hand, leaving behind just the paper doll that’s been halved and the garbage that together made up the flesh.
And then a spirited voice resounded along with the shooting of a spiritual arrow.
The arrow reached for the heavens, and when it reached the peak, it split into countless arrows and rained on the monks from above.
Having lost even the will to resist, the monks didn’t move an inch from where they stood.