|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3319 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1585 words|
Kagura breezed through a set of stairs, reaching what looked like the summit of a rocky mountain. There was a small room encasing that area, or at least small compared to the place where Mira was fighting. Compared to a regular room though, it was quite large.
The construction of the room, and its size, made her think of a king’s audience hall, hinting at its identity. The stairs became longer and with less height halfway through the room, and at the end of them she saw it.
「So, you’re the boss?」
Kagura stared right into that person’s eyes, carefully walking forward.
At the end of the room was a throne, which looked like it had been carved out of the bedrock itself. There was someone sitting on it, though there was a thick veil of black mist, making it impossible to see any defining features, but there was a different, more important aura surrounding that person.
After a moment of stillness, that shadow moved.
「Yes, that is me. I’m the Demon Princess chosen to rule over you all. But pray tell, who are you? You don’t seem to be from around here, which tells me my servants are truly too incapable.」
She sounded more disappointed than annoyed. Though also apathetic, the voice of a young and innocent girl.
As Kagura got closer, the figure covered by the black mist became clearer, and once she had passed by the middle of the room, she stood still, frowning at what she saw. The person behind all of Chimera Clauzen, who had called herself the Demon Princess, looked like a very young girl.
(Where’s that mist coming from? Her stomach? It’s so weird. Not even an entire demon skeleton would be enough to produce mist that thick. Could she be…)
Kagura began to think as she looked at that young girl. During the days leading to the final battle, she had researched the black mist stones with the help of the alchemist Albatinus. Its properties and weaknesses, she knew it all. That only made the sight of that girl all that more bizarre.
The black mist was a manifestation of the Demon’s Curse, and the black mist stones were like a container. That meant that more black mist stones were needed to produce thicker mist, but for some reason there were no stones near the girl, or any item that seemed made out of them.
The girl shrouded in black mist, the Demon Princess, had black bobbed hair which rivaled the black mist in darkness, her eyes were red like blood, two black horns grew from her forehead, and her skin was white like porcelain. She wore a gorgeous robe similar to a kimono, and there was no other garment on her. It was easy to confuse her with a human at first sight, though she looked more like a doll. Somehow that doll-like perfection gave the Demon Princess her unrivaled beauty.
(What’s happening? This is different from encountering another player, her name or abilities won’t show up when I Examine…)
Kagura carefully Examined the Demon Princess, and while she saw many markers pop up, there were no details about her. Usually even the strongest people would have at least their names displayed. This was Kagura’s first time seeing someone with no information whatsoever.
(I really can’t afford to lower my guard.)
Only one thing was certain, she was not a former player. Not even the markers would show up when Examining other players. In other words, the Demon Princess’ existence was a mystery. That much was enough to overturn Kagura’s emotions quickly.
And because of that change, she was also fast to react. If that was Chimera Clauzen’s boss, she was an enemy, so Kagura had no reason to hesitate and start attacking.
Charm Skill – Vermillion Bird: Three Attack Rules – Red
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Piisuke swelled in size, becoming a giant bird more than three meters long, and set ablaze, it darted like a cannonball towards the Demon Princess. The bird let off an oppressive amount of heat. The moment it hit the mist surrounding the Demon Princess, there was a heavy thud and the room was lit red from the burst of flames.
「All that for a princess. It didn’t feel any different from anyone else.」
Kagura’s Art was not a mere explosion, but a chain of blazing attacks from the Vermillion Bird. But as the falling embers faded, it was clear Piisuke’s power was being weathered down. Kagura saw the charm that formed the backbone of her Art burning off into fire particles, meaning that the Demon Princess was powerful enough to resist it.
「You seem quite eager to spring into action. Though I admit I’m not talkative either. Let’s see who bends the knee and perishes first!」
The words had barely left her mouth when her body lifted into the air. The black mist trailed behind her like a tail, and until a certain distance where it changed its trajectory dramatically, shooting towards Kagura.
The thick cloud of black mist, the size of a human head, collided against the ground, leaving a deep crater. More similar clumps of black mist followed after the first, all with enough power to gauge out rock.
「Demon Princess… and black mist.」
Amidst the rain of black mist, Kagura skillfully dodged every shot as she ran out of her enemy’s range. But that was not enough to avoid the attack as a whole, as the Demon Princess adjusted her aim, redirecting the projectiles to Kagura’s new location.
Kagura answered by swinging her right arm, the bishop’s staff in her hand chiming. A moment later, all the black mist had vanished without trace.
「I knew it. You’re basically nothing more than the curse itself.」
Kagura’s eyes stared coldly at the Demon Princess floating in mid-air, though there was some pity in her gaze as well. The Anti-Demon Silver bishop’s staff was made exclusively for Kagura. Thanks to its special properties, it could render the Demon Princess’ mist useless, just like with that from black mist stones.
Using concentrated mist itself as an attack was something that no weapon made with black mist stones could do. Not to mention that the amount and thickness of mist around her were many times larger than what black mist stones could produce, showing it came from other means.
「Admirable, you’ve discerned my identity. You’re no mere simpleton.」
「Not really, knowledge of the existence of entities like yourself is common amongst onmyoji masters.」
The manifestation of a curse, and its embodiment. Kagura was aware of such phenomena, and had witnessed them many times before. In essence it was the same theory behind vengeful ghosts appearing when a dying person experienced too much grief. Onmyoji masters had records of many such occurrences.
Thanks to that, Kagura was able to notice, deduce it. The Demon Princess was a conglomerate of the demon’s curse, its embodiment.
「I’m assuming that body is merely a vessel as well. I don’t know who originally inhabited it, but I’ll make sure you pay for taking it.」
Whenever a curse manifested physically like that, it required a vessel with a strong connection to themselves, be it a stone or a box, some mirror or a doll. Who the girl used to be was still unknown, which made Kagura decrease her ferocity just slightly.
But she had no intention of going easy on her either. She unbound three charms, unleashing arts in quick succession at the Demon Princess. First a volley of countless fire bullets, then water, and stone pellets, without any pause between them.
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In response, the black mist seemed to expand greatly to protect the Demon Princess, swallowing Kagura’s attack and killing their moment, before returning all the shots back at Kagura.
(Hmmm, I see. So this is how the Art Reflection property I saw documented works.)
Kagura’s attack was flung back at her with full force, which she defended from with a barrier. Inside, she silently compared what she was seeing with her prior knowledge. Her way to fight was to always corner her enemy, and deal a final and powerful blow. After the reflected attack, a clump of black mist shattered Kagura’s barrier.
She defended from it with a swing of her staff, while she carefully examined her barrier that had been pierced without resistance.
(That must have been the black mist’s property to snuff out the mana rearing a spell. I guess I can’t use Arts to protect myself then.)
「How about this then?」
Kagura took five charms, focusing her mana into them to launch a spell, the especially higher level Onmyoji Art Shikigami Summon – Qilin.
With the Art activated, the five charms floated into the air while glowing in different colors, blue, red, yellow, white, and black. They formed a pentagram between them, before it appeared.
The legendary sacred beast. Five charms maintaining its body, the creature was more than four meters long, with a dragon-like head and the tail of a cow, legs of a horse and two majestic horns sprouting from its head. It had yellow fur near its head, while its fuzzy back had all five colors, and the rest of its body was covered by glistening golden scales.
That was the Qilin shikigami Linbei, looking like a creature straight out of a legend, standing tall and proud against the Demon Princess.