Though unclear, the fragments of memory Ryou could remember was filled with uneasiness.
Tomoe leaped for the sky as Michizane thrust it out, then Kamunagi’s blade swung down at a speed too fast for any of the black-clothed men to respond.
The flash of shimmering blue-white light, however, was blocked by the sudden appearance of a translucent wall.
Fierce sparks erupted between the two, neither able to cut or deflect the other.
But this was by no means a draw. The moment the attack was stopped, Tomoe lost.
“Fu, ha ha, a ha ha ha!”
Michizane faltered for a moment, but when he saw how strong that wall was, he couldn’t hold back his laughter.
When he proudly thrust his sword forward, Kamui, which had been stopped midair, moved back by that much.
The wall blocking Tomoe seemed to have no intention of letting even the exoskeleton’s propulsion through.
“Ha, ha ha… I’ve done it! This is the real thing! How is it, you fakes! This is my power!”
It was a scene that was hard to believe, but what was really curious was the yet wrapped ‘something’ that accomplished it.
What was that thing?
“Are you using that thing while knowing what it is!?”
Unfortunately, the man, who was most unaware, didn’t realize what it was.
While the screams of the girls, who was most aware, failed to reach him.
Michizane just grinned in satisfaction.
“Oh? So even the likes of you can understand how amazing this sword is. A long time ago, this was used to perform a ritual, then before long, it itself came to be worshipped. It goes all the way back to the Yayoi period. That katana of yours is at most around 500 years-old, so there’s no way it can…”
“Haa!? Are you stupid!? I know it’s sealed and all, but you’re telling me that you’re holding it and yet can’t feel anything!?”
Michizane boasted about it as though he’d obtained a new toy.
Tomoe scolded him, but that only pissed him off and made him even more reckless.
“Hmph, in the end, you’re blood is just too filthy. To think that you can’t even understand the vibrations of this pure spiritual power… Behold!”
But Tomoe’s words fell on deaf ear as the sword was exposed under moonlight.
At first glance, it looked like a bronze sword, but it wasn’t anything like those found in textbooks or museums, and there were no stains, dullness, or missing parts that would remind one of its age.
The blade shone brightly, as if it had just been polished to a new finish. Moreover, the blade itself was 80cm long, making it a little long for a ceremonial weapon.
But its appearance wasn’t the problem.
Everyone gulped. There was no one here who couldn’t feel that.
That was nothing like the pure spiritual power that Michizane claimed, but a black, muddy, evil ki.
As expected, even Michizane finally noticed that something was wrong, but it was already too late.
The dense evil ki sealed had already been released and was encroaching reality.
A deep blue smoke far beyond the miasma of the Gashadokuro instantly covered him.
Tomoe quickly backed up and shot something out of her right sleeve, but there was no telling if it worked or not with the veil of the smoke.
None of Michizane’s screams could be heard.
“Stop it, you fool! That’s not something you can do anything about by rushing into it!”
A few of the black-clothed men tried to approach, but Ryou suppressed them.
For better or worse, the aftershock of Tomoe’s attacks had sent the black-clothed men flying, and only Michizane was swallowed by the dark ki.
“Tch, if something like this was going to happen, I should have learned more from mom!”
The sword truly did contain power, but it wasn’t a spirit sword but a demon sword.
And the cloth was the last thing keeping it sealed.
After seeing the situation, Ryou could finally remember his mother telling someone about the power the cloth held.
Unfortunately, it was too late.
“There’s no point saying that now! More importantly, brace yourself!”
Tomoe’s voice was no longer as leisurely as before as she landed next to him with her Kamunagi ready.
“I know! Sheesh, just what is that disgusting thing!?”
From a glance, it just looked like a dark blue smoke or fog, but it made him sick just looking at it.
Nauseating discomfort, endless chills… The alarms in his head just kept blaring.
But it wasn’t just Ryou suffering from that.
From the countenance and weak breath of the other people here, it was clear that they too were suffering.
“…Well, it’s still weaker than him, though, so there’s some relief in that.”
“Indeed────Everyone, brace yourselves!”
But even then…
It was still laughable compared to a certain boy, allowing them to relax to some extant.
Tomoe called out to everyone, but only Ryou followed her. Everyone else just looked at her dubiously.
The few remaining black-clothed people distanced themselves from the smoke with an air of confusion.
The girls at the back looked at Tomoe suspiciously, but this time, she didn’t snap back at them for addressing her with a sama.
No, she didn’t have the leisure to do so.
She formed a hand seal and drew a pentagram in front of her.
In the next moment, the dark blue smoke scattered to the surroundings as though it was blown away by a gust of wind.
The star contained within the spirit of that word manifested and became a shield for everyone – including those unconscious – that protected them from the evil ki.
While everyone was stunned by the completion and speed of the jutsu, only Ryou, who did could not comprehend those details, leaped forward and struck his fist, releasing the only projectile available to him – his spiritual power itself.
They had not planned for this beforehand.
He just assumed from the moment she warned him that that thing was about to go berserk.
Since this was the only thing he could do, it was only natural for him to be in charge of attacking.
The ‘thing’ hidden behind the dark blue smoke just easily deflected his lump of spiritual power.
Ryou clicked his tongue as he realized that his attacks had no effect, then as if he wasn’t filling bad enough, a high-pitched laugh echoed in the dark night.
“Hya, ha ha! Hii, hyahahahaーーーー!!!”
The voice was barely recognizable to belong to Michizane.
But there was another tint to it, a distortion, as though his voice had been altered.
But even Ryou, who met him for the first time today, could tell that it was him.
The black-clothed men that have been serving him for a long time, however, were dubious if that thing was truly their master as they looked at him with aghast.
“Tch. I couldn’t make it in time… He’s been swallowed by the evil ki.”
Tomoe’s frustrated voice was directed at the distorted “dark blue lump of flesh”.
It retained its humanoid shape, but the muscles on its limbs have been enlarged and were as big as the waist of an adult.
The flesh of the body as a whole has also increased, and the luxurious suit that he used to wear only had the waist part of his slacks remaining. Moreover, it was dark blue.
What was so eerie about that was that no human race had that skin tone.
Hilariously enough, the only part of him that yet resembled the original was his face that has been bloodied by Tomoe’s knees and fists.
But even that part was bloated, and no sanity could be gleamed from his blackened, clouded eyes.
Already, that was an appearance that could only be described as a monstrosity.
“Impossible. Michizane-sama has countless layers of defensive jutsu on him…”
“That sword just has that much power… You understand, right?”
Tomoe wore a bitter expression as she urged the black-clothed men to understand, but she never once averted her eyes from the ‘thing that was once Michizane’.
They too didn’t avert their eyes. That’s why they understood.
That the demon sword in
There was a world of difference between it and what the Gashadokuro radiated.
Before such power, all-purpose defensive jutsus that blocked against all spiritual attacks might as well have been mere paper.
But of course, it was also because the person himself had a weak mind that he was so easily swallowed.
That’s why they could tell with just a look – that this was a situation wherein the weapon and the wielder have switched places.
The sword had taken control of the man named Michizane and was using him for itself.
But the sharpness of their eyes and their wariness backfired on them.
They were so caught up by the sinister ki emitted by the sword that they failed to realize the monster smiling.
The monster’s right arm rose, and the tremendous brilliance of evil ki shone even brighter, then it burned and swelled up all at once as though to dye the darkness of the night.
Before they knew it, the demon sword had descended with the power befitting a monster and split the earth, then in the next moment, an explosive sound resounded and a torrent of black flames devoured them.