I was now about ten minutes after I could stand up again.
I thought it would be futile trying to do more for today, but my body is tougher than I expected. While I was lying down, I could grasp how to control the aura somehow.
That vampire...if I were a normal person, I would've been in the hospital by now.
However, with this, the three major heroines should be there in time for the final battle.
I can't stay lying down either. I have to chase after them. I need to get more involved with the decisive battle.
(If I idle about, Ryuuga and the others might win without me. I have to head off before that. And──I have to find them.)
Who is Kobayashi Ichirou?
I have a hunch that I'll find the answer to that question before the end of the battle. I'm already late for the conclusion of the fight.
(Things can't conclude with me still remaining a mystery character. My pride will not allow it.)
If I don't reach an answer, then I'll force my way to unearth one. I'll search for my own role myself.
That's what I've gotten deeply involved for up until this point──what it is that makes me distinct.
(Come to think of it, the doors to the spirit world are still open, right? Is it fine to leave them alone?)
I'm a bit concerned about that, but I don't have the time to respond. Or rather, I don't know the means to seal the doors.
Surely, if the "Evil Spirit" is vanquished, the doors will shut on their own. That's probably how it works.
Not thinking much of them, I headed towards the riverbank.
When I arrived at the riverbank, the battle was in its midst.
Ryuuga and the heroines were in my line of sight as I looked down at the bank. On the opposite side stood Kyouka, with her back towards the river.
...I could grasp the situation of the battle at a glance.
Ryuuga was kneeling before Kyouka. She was breathing heavily, only being able to stare at her opponent. This is the first time I've ever seen Ryuuga is a disadvantageous situation.
The heroines were the same as well.
Although everyone began with energy to spare, they're already riddled with wounds now. They each had tears in their uniforms, giving a peek at their bare skin and underwear. I can say that they're indeed heroines in this aspect.
While Ryuuga and the others were in that state, Kyouka said something bluntly with a blank expression.
It was clearly a voice different from hers, it was a deep voice from a man.
"I am the 'Evil Spirit.' I am, as what humans call me──chaos."
Before I was aware of it, heavy dark clouds covered up the sky. Lightning flashed with rumbling roar.
A huge aura suddenly appeared from Kyouka's entire body.
That dark, sinister ill will took the form of a person behind her, and immediately became a large, burly man.
(Is that the 'Evil Spirit'...?!)
The density of the ill will increased and the 'Evil Spirit' quickly materialized.
There was a huge horn on his forehead. Large fangs protruded from his mouth. His disheveled hair bristled up, his arms were like sets of logs, and he glared at Ryuuga and the others with a furious expression...he looks quite like a demon.
"Now, you humans shall perish. Offer your blood, your flesh, your soul...to me."
Kyouka, with the "Evil Spirit" attached to her back, slowly approaches Ryuuga and the others.
I was nervously watching the situation while crouching down at the bank.
(Isn't this really bad? At this rate, it'll be the protagonist's side that'll get taken down...)
The "Evil Spirit" seems to be that tough of an enemy. Mion's ill will was large, but this guy's is on a far different realm. The world could really get destroyed──this is no joke.
(What to do? Do I take part in the battle? Is it really okay for me to intervene during this scene? Someone give me some stage directions!)
My impatience was progressing.
Suddenly, Yukimiya, Aogasaki, and Elmira all got up one after another. Together, they stood in the way of the "Evil Spirit" to protect Ryuuga.
"...Everyone, do you need any healing?"
"No, I'm fine. My sword will not go dull with just this much."
"Same for me. I can't let it end like this after rushing over here."
While exchanging those words, the heroines looked back at Ryuuga.
Ryuuga could not yet stand up, and could only look up at the three. Rather than physical damage, perhaps the mental damage from her enemy being Kyouka is larger.
However, the hearts of the heroines haven't yielded yet.
Yukimiya, Aogasaki, and Elmira all gave a smile to encourage the protagonist. However, you people shouldn't forget about your skin being exposed.
This makes me flustered in a couple of ways, but...they really are splendid heroines. They're worthy of being main characters.
"Hinomori. I'll use my power as 'The Shrine Maiden of Life' with you until the very end."
"I am 'The Swordswoman of the Beheading Dance.' Ryuuga...I'll be your sword."
"Don't forget me, 'The Blood-kin of Eternal Darkness.' Let me show you my true power."
The three spoke their resolves, and at that moment,
An intense torrent of light began flowing from the heroines' bodies. They had done the unthinkable, their auras were on-par with Ryuuga's.
Yukimiya's radiance was white. Aogasaki's was blue. Elmira's was red...it seems that their colors reflect their image. Then,
"Unleashing divine might──'White Tiger!'"
"Unleashing divine might──'Azure Dragon!'"
"Unleashing divine might──'Vermilion Bird!' Okay!"
In response to their calls, their auras took the form of beasts in a flash.
(T, those are...the four gods!)
I unintentionally lean forward and gaze at the three.
──The four gods. the White Tiger of the West, the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, and the Black Tortoise of the North are sacred, holy beasts that rule over the four directions. I'm sure that everyone has seen them at least once in anime or games. (TLN: This is a part of East-Asian mythology)
The holy beasts are here.
They materialized on the back of the heroines and let out an ear-piercing roar.
Don't tell me that the cliche four gods are going to appear at this late of a moment...there also seems to be one of them missing. The Black Tortoise isn't here.
It's difficult to imagine Ryuuga being the Black Tortoise. Within her dwells the "Dragon King"...who I believe is the "Yellow Dragon" that governs over the center. (TLN: That's part of the four gods as well. So that technically makes five of them, but the Yellow Dragon is often omitted.)
So Ryuuga is a jack-of-all-trades. She can use all the abilities that the heroines have.
(Perhaps it's because it's difficult for a tortoise to get involved with a battle? There's four gods and yet, the Black Tortoise is missing...hmm?)
The Black Tortoise is──not here?
There, I was taken aback and gasped. I was wondering who Kobayashi Ichirou is...I feel that I can find my answer here.
(Perhaps I'm the Black Tortoise?)
Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of the truth. There are indeed some cases where a friend character awakens to a power and gets promoted to the protagonist's companion character.
Those kinds of people often speak and act mysteriously, they would spectate Ryuuga's battles from the shadows while chuckling to themselves, and above all, they have to be an ikemen, but...there's no use talking about that part.
(I see! So that's what it was! That's why the apostles felt a strange presence from me! That's why there was an aura coming from me!)
Now that I think about it, since the protagonist is a woman, things get unbalanced without one of the companions being a boy.
Perhaps I'm here to balance it out. I wanted to be a sub-character, but I shouldn't speak selfishly. If this isn't my position, then what else would explain this situation?
(I won't resist it! I'll participate, participate!)
The heroines have unleashed their divine might now, but this is the ideal timing...I'll participate as the "Black Tortoise" and complete the four gods!
While I was excited and in joy, the heroines assaulted the "Evil Spirit" together with their sacred beasts. Just hang in there! The "Black Tortoise" is also here!
While I was going through such, the sacred beasts displayed their power.
Snow and ice went wild, a sudden gust broke out, raging flames burned brightly. The ground trembled and split apart as they aimed towards the "Evil Spirit." The riverbank was now a heaping pile of natural disasters.
"Oh...you lot are stronger than the ones a hundred years ago. You guardians of the 'Yellow Dragon.'"
Facing a attack from three sides, the "Evil Spirit" seemed a bit unsure on what to do. The tide has completely turned.
However, I have one worry. Each time the "Evil Spirit" receives an attack, Kyouka's face winces. Could it be that their pain is linked?
"Everyone, stop! When you attack, Kyouka...Kyouka!"
Ryuuga gave a cry of grief. Then, at that moment,
Seeing an opening in Ryuuga, the "Evil Spirit" brandished a large palm.
"It seems you're the only one who's gotten weak. Successor of the 'Yellow Dragon.'"
Ill will instantly accumulated in the palm, and it released a jet black wave.
Taken by a moment of surprise, the heroines couldn't react.
That severe, exceptional strike was flying in a straight line towards the defenseless Ryuuga, who currently didn't have an aura.
"Watch out! Hinomori!"
"Get away from it, Ryuuga!"
The protagonist is in a desperate pinch. The heroines can't come to the rescue in time. Ryuuga herself can't move either.
Who can break the deadlock in this dilemma?
I've decided. It'll be me!
I had already leaped into the riverbank while raising a war cry.
I stood in front of Ryuuga to protect her, just like the heroines did before. Then the aura, cosmos, chakra, or whatever you wanna call it that was in my body erupted at once.
The "Evil Spirit's" wave was approaching. However, I wasn't frightened. Ending my mystery character status is much more frightening for me.
(The "Black Tortoise" means a tortoise. A tortoise means a shell. A shell means toughness...I've found out that my unusual ability is the power of a strong defense!)
Right. That's definitely the reason why the apostles hesitated to attack me.
They felt from instinct that they should take caution against my defense power. This seems quite convincing!
Exposing myself towards the imminent wave, I let out a loud cry. This will be the cry I use for my awakening.
"U, un, unleashing divine might! The Black Tor──"
I thought I'd be able to say it just in the nick of time. However, that phrase was unfamiliar to me, so I ended up fumbling on the words and ruining it. And the result was──
I took a direct hit from the wave and was blown off. I quickly flew about ten meters through the air.
While saying the remainder of the phrase, I tumbled onto the ground. The world around me was spinning as I went dizzy, and one of my shoes fell off somewhere.
(Crap...I went and blew it...)
This was supposed to be my highlight scene. The scene that would really get things pumped up.
...My "Black Tortoise" awakening ended in vain.