Out of fear of the wrath of the mask, they could not even hold the slightest hostility toward those pompous words.
In fact, not a hint of hesitation could be felt from the Ootsu leader when he agreed to those terms.
The mask uttered a chant.
In the next moment, something wrapped itself around the necks of those gathered, and a feeling of oppression attacked them.
“Gu, w-what is this!?’
『A curse… Think of it as a shackle to restrain the actions of the sinners. The tatoo of a black collar should appear on those affected by the curse. 』
Just as the mask said, a black tatoo had indeed appeared on everyone’s necks.
A shackle signifying that their actions were begin restrained or that they were under control.
『Three restrictions have been placed on you. First, you are not allowed to kill. This includes instigation, suicide, and willful negligence. Second, the scope of your skills has been reduced, and the use of curses, mind control, puppetry, and other skills that can hurt people have been prohibited. Should you think of breaking this restrictions───』
“Ah, gah, gyaaaa!?!?”
『───An intense pain will run through your whole body like that.』
Yoshihisa’s body slammed on the tatami mat as he scratched his throat.
The mask sighed and approached Yoshihisa to lift him up.
“Mercy please, Your Eminence!”
『 Don’t worry. I won’t kill him. Yes, I won’t klil. 』
“H-How dare, you…”
Defiant as ever despite his powerless, Yoshihisa glared at the mask, but for all his effort to glare with anger at that white mask, the eyes beneath it remained unfeeling, as though the things he was saying had nothing to do with the person before him.
『 To be born in a house with no values was indeed your misfortune, but the sins you’ve committed and have tried to commit are unpardonable, from attempted mass murder to attempted child murder to supporting terrorist acts, and yet, not only do you show no hint of remorse or guilt, you remain brazen and unscrupulous, and continue to scheme; thus, there are no extenuating circumstances to take into consideration. 』
“Guu, who, do you think, you are— Gah!?”
『 A god… The evil kind. 』
With a chuckle, an arm clad in black mist entered Yoshihisa’s chest, and an agonized voice resounded, but strangely, that was it.
Although the black mist’s arm had entered Yoshihisa and he was indeed in pain, no blood flowed out, and neither did the arm pierce through his body.
At that, the people here understood that the mask was touching something that wasn’t physical.
“That thing can interfere with the spirit!?”
『 Not quite… Ah, I see… Is this all it was? 』
“Ah, gah, gyah, guaaーーー !!”
Tampered with on a spiritual level, an ear-piercing scream resounded as Yoshihisa struggled violently, but the mask didn’t pay him any heed.
When the mask had taken out something, it released him, and Yoshihisa dropped to the ground.
“Yoshihisa, are you alright!?”
His grandfather ran up to him to examine him, and let out a breath of relief when he saw that he was unwounded.
All the pain had strangely vanished the moment Yoshihisa had been released, but for some reason, Yoshihisa felt like as though was a hole on his chest.
As Yoshihisa borrowed his grandfather’s hand to get up, he glared at the mask.
“Y-You, what did you do to me!”
By this point, the mask didn’t know whether to criticize him for his stupidity to remain brazen after everything, or to praise him for having the balls to desperately ask that question despite his trembling voice.
In the end, the mask decided to explain what he’d done.
『 All existences, abilities and phenomena of this world have a core to them called the Factor. It is through the ever continuing interferences between these Factors that changes, be they small or big, occur throughout the world. Perhaps it would be easier to comprehend if you consider it a combination of those things you refer to as destiny, human bonds, and the five basic elements.』
“What are you talking about!? Answer my question!”
Yoshihisa flared up in the face of that the circuitous answer, but the mask just seemed to shrug its shoulders and showed him the arm that was inside him just awhile ago.
『 This is the Factor of your spiritual power. 』
On that arm was a ball made up of faint light.
It was about the size of a baseball and kept flickering, but it was indeed there.
“That’s, the factor of my spiritual power? W-What nonsense are you spouting!!?”
“A-Ahh, Yoshihisa’s spiritual power!?”
Yoshihisa wanted to call out the mask’s absurd story, but his grandfather, Yoshikazu’s, voice resounded with despair.
The people around them were similarly shocked and distraught at the sight of the ball of light.
『 From this day forth, you will lose it forever – the power you call spiritual power and the reason for your existence. With it gone, you will never again be able to use spiritual techniques, and never again will you be able to see spirits. With your Factor gone, you will also lose the makings that allowed you to become an exorcist. No matter how much effort you put from now on, even your descendants will not possess spiritual power. 』
A punishment so apathetically and artlessly explained, and yet, no punishment could be crueler, for it would plunder the very thing that Yoshihisa valued the most, and with his ability to pass the power to his descendants gone as well, so was his future.
“Y-You lie! You— Hey! Stop messing around! Damn it! On, on, naumakusan! —Ah, why won’t it work!? Onkirikiri! —Why won’t it work! No! My spells and my shikionis! Why won’t they come out!!?”
He formed hand seals and chanted spells, but he couldn’t feel even the slightest spiritual power.
But of course, he didn’t even have the ability to sense spiritual power anymore, so that was only a given.
He desperately casted those spells that he’d practiced countless times, and yet he couldn’t make anything happen.
When the others saw his desperation and his horrified expression, they realized what had happened, and they cowered.
“Y-You can steal that that easily!?”
“I can’t feel any traces of spiritual power.”
“This should be impossible!”
All the exorcists wanted to flee, but running would make them stand out, and that too was terrifying.
Hence, despite their horror, not one of them so much as flinched.
“Y-Your Eminence, that price is too—‘
『 Too much? 』
Yet the old man still spoke out because of his love for his grandson.
Until now, the mask had spoken with nonchalance, but this time, its voice was cold and overbearing.
『 You have no right to say that, not when you tried to unleash such a vast amount of curse. I wouldn’t have minded ending the Ootsu family’s history here. There are other Exorcist Clans too, so there was no reason demanding your continued existence. 』
“That’s…” The old leader said.
『 Be that as it may, I have shown you great leniency because the world yet requires your service. Though there are others still, it would be best to avoid reducing your numbers. 』
“B-But with this, no one will be able to succeed me!”
『 You can just have someone else take on that role. It’s not as though the direct line has always been the one succeeding. You’re all relatives anyway, though perhaps not by blood. 』
So there was no problem.
Just ilke that the common sense that the old man held as the head of the family was blown away.
When the mask gave it to him that bluntly, he didn’t have no words with which to rebut with either.
The moment the mask could decide their lives, just coming out of this predicament with their lives in tact was already a blessing, and they couldn’t demand for more. But of course, that wasn’t the case for the person most affected.
“Give it back… Give it back! That’s mine!”
With his own identity taken from him, Yoshihisa could not keep calm.
He stretched out his hand to try and steal the ball of light, but the mask easily dodged him.
But by coincidence he was able to grab at the black mist, and he screamed at it.
“Give it back! Give it back! Give it back!!”
He continued to yell that as he recklessly reached out for the ball of light, but he couldn’t even graze it.
From the side, it looked like a child demanding for his toy back, while the adult held it up, but the despair on the onlookers painted the situation surreal.
” I am Yoshihisa Ootsu! I was born to succeed this family! It doesn’t make sense for someone like me to lose my spiritual power! I’m chosen! I’m a special existence! You can’t do this to—!”
『 ────No human, not one, is chosen or special. 』
The mask ignored Yoshihisa’s desperate pleas, and crushed the ball of light.
“Ah─────AHHHHHH AH AH ah AH!!!”
And just like that, the ball of light, Yoshihisa’s spiritual power, vanished, and agony and grief resounded throughout the hall as though he’d lost half of himself.
『 If someone like that existed, then I wouldn’t have survived. 』
That’s why no one heard those words the mask muttered.
『…You tried to steal the future of tens of thousands for your own selfish desire. Be glad that it ended with just this, normal person with no name… 』
Yoshihisa let out a broken sound, and fainted on the spot with his eyes open. It was doubtful that he even heard the mask’s sarcastic remark.