It was truly unexpected.
Words woven with disappointment born of arrogance.
No one’s countenance or expression changed, or perhaps, they simply could not react.
And that spoke volumes of how terrifying Mikoto’s words were.
For a moment, everyone was speechless.
Essentially, what she was saying was that the Abe and the Shinguuji families had antagonized the clans by accepting outsider blood for two generations, but that was by design, and they truly did want to antagonize the entire clan. This recent even was a rehash of that.
Wherein the last heirs of their blood were used as a spark to plot the same thing.
Not to destroy the clan, but───
“Once they’ve been torn to shreds, and they start raving about vengeance an whatnot, I would use everything and annihilate the clan.”
───To end everything with her own hands.
Mikoto’s face remained void of expression, yet her lips loosened and smiled, giving her a crazed air.
But while she might have confessed her schemes frivolously, there was a coolness to it that suggested this was not some rashly thought plan.
If she were to try and destroy them from inside by herself, they would either unite or scatter and go into hiding.
That’s why it was better to create an opponent for them and get them killed.
A method like that certainly wasn’t bad.
Or at least, that was the case when only reliability was taken into consideration.
『…Back then the air in the clan was strange. That was especially true in those parts where the influence of the clan master was strong. We could feel it headed toward us, so Asuka and I left. Who would’ve thought that that was the prelude to the collapse of the clan instigated by none other than the Clan Master herself』
“A-Are you serious, Mikoto-sama?”
The old man’s voice trembled as he ascertained not the truth of the matter but her true motives.
By the time he was old enough to remember, her time had already stopped.
This was someone who had been working with him since his youth to maintain the organization and uphold the duty of the exorcists.
So when he asked that question that he did not want to ask, there was a heartrending emotion in it akin to desperation.
“It’s true that we’ve wasted a lot of time out of fear of making a mistake. But that’s no reason to fall into despair, not to mention involve these children…”
The old man insisted that the blame was with them, but the voice he got in response was too casual.
“It doesn’t really matter… Because the exorcists have already fallen. Rather than try to fix this broken clan, wouldn’t it be better to just get rid of it once and for all?”
That was tantamount to denying half of his life.
Above all, by none other than the partner he has shared that half with.
Despite that the old man did not collapse.
Perhaps that was because of his pride as someone who has lived for a long time, or perhaps that was because there was someone here young enough to be his grandchild, then again, it could merely be his stubbornness.
Regardless, his eyes too changed, and just like Shouko, he started looking at Mikoto with hostility.
Within that tense atmosphere a step away from breaking into hostility, one person
“Ku, a ha ha ha ha ha… What a terrible actor! You’ll never make it to the main stage like that!”
That was mockery so blatant that not only Mikoto but the entire atmosphere was diffused.
All eyes gathered onto the laughing boy, who was even clapping.
“You would create an enemy and destroy the clans from inside and outside? Don’t be stupid. It was because you couldn’t do
But the boy did not respond to any one of those gazes. He merely looked at Mikoto with contempt and eloquently verbally abused her for her incompetence.
“You’ve spent your years in vain. There were two ways you could have gone: you could have purged everything early, or you could have opted for a long-term plan.”
All the while blaming her for inability to make that decision.
In response, Mikoto spat back as though her calm countenance until now had been a lie.
“…What point is there in what-ifs?”
She knew that this was exactly the kind of reaction the boy was looking from her, but she couldn’t stop.
In the end, all the unexpected occurrences and
They were just too accurate.
“They may be pointless, but they sure make it clear how incompetent, unresolved, and half-assed you are.”
Without reveling in his success, the boy calmly returned her snide remarks.
Whether he was serious or not, Mikoto finally had enough and laid bare her emotions.
“You impertinent child! You haven’t even lived an eighth of my life!”
“Hah! So you’ve lived eight times as long as I have, and you’re still this stupid!?”
Mikoto could no longer hide her irritation, but Shinichi continued to mock her.
The quality of words exchanged hadn’t really changed, but neither the old man nor Shouko could get a word in, so they just glared at each other menacingly.
Perhaps, Mikoto simply could no longer afford to pay them any attention.
Shinichi’s words were just that hurtful.
And he continued to abuse the old yet young woman with no restraint.
“That’s why you turned into an annoying existence that can neither live nor die. You should have made your decision a long time ago, but you kept sitting on the fence, and now, here we are.”
He rudely pointed at the young yet old woman as though she were a terrible example.
For what reason did she even stop her body’s time? He glared at her as though he were looking at something filthy, and her face twisted.
Neither Shouko nor the old man were on the receiving end of that gaze, and yet they found themselves losing their nerve.
That gaze carried with it just that much pressure.
Mikoto’s cheeks twitched in anger as she glared at the boy───What does he know? She thought.
Just barely, she managed to keep her irritation from showing on her voice.
“…You talk as if you were there.”
“Long-lived, a leader with a problematic organization and is somewhat decent at heart… When people like that end up no good, the situation ends up like this. It’s a stereotypical development.”
This problematic situation that she couldn’t do anything about was apparently just something on that level.
A stereotypical development.
The desire to kill this boy right here and now surfaced, but she kept it at bay.
This was a matter that concerned a sensitive topic to her.
Perhaps, it was only thanks to her age that she was able to swallow that anger, or perhaps, it was because she thought of the perfect response.
“…Well, okay. So, what is it that you intend to do with me? Do you intend to dispose of me for putting your precious disciples in danger?”
‘If you can do it, then do it,’ she said in provocation, but Shinichi just kept quiet, though not without glaring at her.
Meanwhile, everyone else was just shocked. Because…
“Mikoto-sama cannot be expelled…”
It was her fame and power that was keeping the clan together.
If Mikoto were to disappear, the clan would disintegrate, and the various families would act as they please, eventually inviting destruction upon themselves and others.
If such foolish elites were to be unleashed into the world, the only fate that awaited them was for them to cause an incident and die.
But of course, that was exactly what Mikoto wanted.