『…If you’re going to go that far, then fine.』
“Yes, let’s stop the jokes here.”
Surprisingly, Mikoto and the Mask readily listened to their pleas, and the warrior and the dragon vanished.
Silence returned to the night as though they never existed in the first place.
But only Ryou and Tomoe were relieved.
Everyone else was still trembling in fear, unable to process what had transpired.
『…Sorry about that. I just said what came to mind… Can I address you as Tsuchimikado-dono?』
“I apologize too for getting carried away. Yes, I’m alright with that, Masquerade-dono… Both our names end in ‘do’ too, after all.” (Note: Tsuchimikado and Masukareido)
They came to terms like that and dropped the matter regarding the name.
But of course, they were never serious in the first place.
Or at least, Ryou and Tomoe suspected that that mythic battle was truly nothing more than a joke between them, a prank that utilized their excessive power, but they weren’t brave enough to ask.
“Before we get to the main topic, please allow me to apologize for all this commotion. I
『…I wasn’t particularly troubled, but if it’s an apology to my disciples, then I’ll accept it.』
Mikoto bowed low enough to form a right angle, and the Mask nodded.
The three girls behind were shocked to hear that, but Tomoe made them quiet.
Evidently, Mikoto and the Mask had agreed to make that the official story.
“Thank you… In that case… Tsumori-kun! I’ll be watching over these children for awhile, you don’t mind, right?”
Mikoto glanced at Michizane, who was convulsing with his eyes rolled over, and the black-clothed men, then she said those words to no one in particular.
No voice responded, but she nodded nonetheless, then clapped her hands and called for people.
“Takuma-kun, take care of the rest!”
“Mikoto-sama, you’ve been working me so hard… This is too harsh of a treatment for an old man.”
From out of nowhere, behind her, suddenly appeared an old man with gray hair and a crooked back.
With a good-natured smile, he took out pieces of paper and carelessly scattered them.
In the next moment, those pieces of paper transformed into shikis that looked just like those stage assistants dressed in black in Kabuki plays, and they worked together to restrain and disarm the members of the Tsumori family.
“Not only did he trespass into the Tsuchimikado Manor, he also damaged the place and harmed the guests and servants. On top of that, I have no idea how he caught wind of it, but he even stole the sealed demon sword… If you include all his stupid mistakes until now, youthful indiscretion alone won’t be enough of an excuse.”
The old man’s eyes turned from smiling to that of dismay and lamentation, and the black-clothed men must have known that they were in the wrong, for they didn’t offer any resistance and instead obediently allowed themselves to be arrested.
It was all too easy to imagine what Michizane would have done were he conscious, so they were just grateful that he wasn’t.
“Hmm, is that Grandpa Kusakabe? He’s still alive, huh,” Ryou said.
“Hey, Ryou, that’s rude. He’s one of the few people in the clan with a conscience, you know. He is the advisor to Mikoto-sama, the de facto number two, and one of the most important figures in the clan.”
The situation had come to an end, and the presence of an overly-reliable mentor and a relatively friendly person had helped them relax and regain some of their composure, but the Mask remained on guard and stood between them and Mikoto.
“Masquerade-dono, I would appreciate it if you could hand over
『Only if you tell me her identity.』
Despite that they continued to share a conversation only they understood.
“But of course,” Mikoto nodded, and the Mask casually extended his hand in which could be seen one of the black- clothed people.
He was firmly grabbing the black-clothed person’s head.
The person seemed to be a girl based off the contours, but regardless, she was gagged with a photon rope, and her whole body was shackled.
“I don’t really want to throw a tsukkomi every time, but… Where in the world did you pull that girl out from?”
“Huh? Is that the girl that gave him the demon sword?”
『Yes, she tried to run away in the commotion, so I knocked her out, tied her up, then left her in a corner.』
After a brief recounting, the Mask tore off the hood covering the person’s face.
She had black bobbed hair and had already woken up, so she groaned when the moonlight hit her.
With her true face unveiled, the other black-clothed men were shocked.
“W-Who is that!?”
“I feel like I’ve seen her before…”
“Why did she… What’s going on here?”
Though they hid their face while working, they naturally knew each other’s face.
But no matter how hard they tried to recall, they couldn’t put a name to the face despite having seen it before..
Mikoto was the only one who managed to recognize her.
“…You’re Kiyoko-chan from the Ooharu house, right?”
Mikoto asked knowingly, and the woman averted her eyes.
When that name was dropped, everyone in the area, especially those of the Tsumori House, were shaken.
“This has gotten complicated…” Tomoe said.
“Hey, don’t just understand on your own. What’s the Ooharu house?” Ryou said.
“Can you not treat me as if I’m here to explain everything? Sheesh…”
Ryou was irritated that he couldn’t follow, so Tomoe went ahead and explained for him, who was the only one here who didn’t understand.
“The Ooharu family is comparable to the Tsumori family and have been their rivals for many years now. If I recall correctly, Kiyoko is the only daughter of the younger brother of the current head. But neither her nor anyone else from her family has really risen to prominence, so someone with no ability like her should have been mostly raised outside…”
“In other words, the Ooharu family schemed against the Tsumori family?”
“That would be the case if you think about it normally, but…”
Tomoe felt as though something was wrong with that obvious conclusion.
Unfortunately, she could only tilt her head, unable to pinpoint exactly what was wrong.
“Should I praise you for understanding that much, or should I lament the fact that so much of our internal affairs has leaked?”
Mikoto said as she approached the woman that was still being held captive.
“Did you give him the demon sword to get him killed? And in the case of failure, ruin his reputation?”
With her identity exposed, the woman groaned through the photon mouth gag.
“If that’s true, then this really is a problem. The Ooharu family and the Tsumori family will end up fighting. The master of the clan will have to punish both sides, but I wonder if they will obey. If this is poorly handled, it will be a three-way fight─────Well, it’s a matter that needs to be thought through.”
Old Man Kusakabe seemed genuinely concerned about the future, though he chuckled at the end.
Mikoto smiled, and the Mask too laughed scornfully.
“I’m really being underestimated, aren’t I?” Mikoto said.
『What a terrible actor. Did you really think I’d follow a lousy script like that?』
The Mask covered his finger clad in black with an even denser mana, then he pulled up the woman’s face.
It was like something straight out of an old spy movie.
Kiyoko Ooharu’s face was peeled off like a piece of paper, revealing a woman with green hair and purple eyes who looked nothing like a Japanese person.
She was also at least 10 years older than Kiyoko Ooharu, who was in the latter half of her teens.
Three-dimensional imaging technology had also been applied to hide her figure, but the Mask forcefully dispelled it.
“Garestonian?” Tomoe said.
“What’s going on!?” Ryou said.
『In these times, you really can’t rely on what you see. Be sure to use remember that and use your spiritual eyes too. It’s because people can’t do that they keep getting fooled. At least know the difference between the presence of an Earthling and a Garestonian.』
Ryou and Tomoe followed the words of their Master that could be taken for either rebuke or instruction, then they ‘looked’ around them and nodded.
There was indeed a difference aside from personal differences in the presence of the souls of the Garestonian and the rest of the people here.
The difference was so minute, however, that they couldn’t really explain it clearly, but regardless, it was clear enough that they could tell the difference.
“…Ah, it’s true. It really is somewhat different,” Ryou said.
“Damn it! I messed up and judged her just from her appearance!” Tomoe said.
But unlike Ryou, who was genuinely surprised and impressed by that, Tomoe felt dejected for failing to notice it on her own.
However, the Mask could only accomplish that because of his frequent contact with Earthlings and Garestonians at the academy.
The exorcists might have a pair of special eyes, but with the little contact that they had with the Garestonians, they wouldn’t be able to easily tell them apart from the Earthlings even if they knew that there was a difference in their presence.
Because of that the three girls also faintly noticed the difference and were shocked.
“Fu fu, thank you for the lesson. Masquerade-dono, what do you think of this girl?”
『The same as you. She should be a spy or an agent of sort. She could be here to gather information, remove someone, or seize something. She could be from a public institution or an illegal organization. At this point, it’s difficult to speculate on her affiliations and objectives, but regardless, she infiltrated your clan by pretending to be Kiyoko Ooharu, a descendant of the direct line. Evidently, this isn’t a matter that’s just limited to one or two people, and neither is it a matter that happened just recently… Odds are that the people they’ve touched are no longer in this world.』
Right? The Mask casually confirmed with the spy.
An incomprehensible voice full of hate resounded through the gag.
The Mask didn’t mean to respond, but her eyes looked like she was saying, “Curse you, Masquerade!” And he couldn’t help but laugh.
『You’re barking up the wrong tree if you’re going to hate me. Even without me, your fake youth could have never beaten this
The Mask said, and Mikoto smiled.
No matter which way one looked at her, she looked like someone in her early twenties, yet the Mask was calling her an old woman.
“Ufufu, please don’t praise me so much.”
But instead of getting angry or denying his accusations, Mikoto just took them for a compliment and acted flirtatiously.
No one would find her actions unfit her age, but…
『She might look like that, but she’s at least past 100, you know?』
“That’s right! I, Mikoto Tsuchimikado, am a young peachy girl at the age of 117!”
The way she said that with a huge grin and a faint blush was nothing short of coquettish.
Or at least that would have been the case if not for the age she mentioned.
The spy needed time to come to terms with that.
She wanted to laugh, but considering the family, it was indeed possible.
But while the spy was losing her mind and screaming incomprehensibly, everyone else was just thinking…
──Looks like she didn’t know because it was common knowledge in the clan.