Now that Kyouka had suddenly double-crossed me, the state of the battle had taken a complete turnabout in the blink of an eye.
Ryuuga, unable to keep up with the situation, paid close attention to her sister and Hundun.
Kurogame was also in bewilderment. Looking closely, the snake on Gameo's tail was flabbergasted as well. The guardian deity's facial expression was quite rich, just like his host.
"Kyo, Kyouka...is that really you?"
Kyouka gave a thumbs up to her older sister, who was speaking to her nervously. Hundun, who was standing beside her, also gave a thumbs up.
"That's right, sister! Now then, let's bring back Kobayashi together!"
"Hey, Hinomori Ryuuga. It's possible to have an 'Evil Spirit' be a guardian deity as long as the host has a strong force of will. For that to happen, there needs to be an occasion where it's defeated and weakened."
Even after such a kind, careful, and thorough explanation, Ryuuga was a still a bit suspicious. I suppose it would be hard to believe such a thing upon first hearing it.
That being the case, it's best to demonstrate it through one's actions. Time to show her that Hundun has become an ally. They say that yesterday's enemy is today's friend.
"To think that an 'Evil Spirit' could coexist with humans──"
Kurogame acted the very moment Ryuuga muttered that. With a gleam in her eyes, she made a cry of joy,
"So that's how it is! How amazing of you to win over an 'Evil Spirit,' Kyou!"
"Hey, Ryu! Isn't this great?! Don't you think it is?!"
Ryuuga, urged by her, nodded while saying "S, sure." She was forced to agree due to her vigor.
...Kurogame's reaction is just as I had anticipated.
It was what I expected by having a one-track-minded person like her participate in the battle at the riverbank. The other heroines probably wouldn't believe it so easily.
She served well as a key character here. For the first time, the tortoise was helpful.
(Alright, with this, the issue of Kyouka and Hundun has been resolved. Next is──me.)
Ryuuga, Kurogame, and Kyouka began to approach with their guardian deities by their side.
Unfortunately though, we're not done here yet. It's a bit too early for the climax.
"Hey, 'Evil Spirit' Taotie! Come up with something!"
With the battle resuming, the one who made the first move was Kurogame, as to be expected. She charged at Taotie like a deranged beast, and following her was a cocky Hundun.
"Shove it, Taotie! Die!"
Not paying attention to me, Kurogame and Hundun began a joint attack against Taotie. Surprisingly, the two had some good coordination and as expected, Taotie had a hard time dealing with them.
(Ow ow ow! Hey, Hundun! Whatever happened to stopping just before the blow?!)
Taotie kept a clam face while making complaints in his mind. If Ryuuga joined, we would instantly be in a tight situation, but she wasn't able to find the right time to.
That's due to Hundun and Kyouka skillfully crushing any chance for Ryuuga to jump in. They're sabotaging her chances while being her companions.
"Guh! This 'Evil Spirit' is tough...and he's covered in black!"
Kurogame, at a loss on how to continue, leaped back to take some distance. The others didn't miss that chance.
"Taotie, prepare yourself!"
Kyouka and Hundun rushed at Taotie. This was her last order of business.
Already knowing that this would happen in advance, I barked with anger. I recited my dialogue word for word from the script.
"You're a disgrace to the four fiends for siding with the humans!"
My roar of anger was the cue. With a fiendishly strong arm, Taotie sent Hundun flying.
Taking the forefront of that blow, Hundun's massive body soared through the air. Kyouka soared in the air with him.
Just before crashing into the ground, Hundun used himself as a cushion to protect Kyouka.
As a result, Kyouka only tumbled a bit on the ground. However, the 'Evil Spirit,' unable to move after using up all of his strength, was absorbed into the twintailed girl's body and disappeared.
Kyouka, who had collapsed face-down, glanced at me for just a moment.
(Kobayashi, is that how it's done...?)
(Good work, Kyouka. You can take it easy now.)
While conveying my appreciation for her through my eyes as she pretended to faint, I maintained my expression of anger.
Of course, this was a rigged game. Hundun's quick exit was part of the plan. Unlike part one, Kyouka was only feigning sleep this time.
After all, the story's main characters were Ryuuga and...her companions.
When Ryuuga's and Kurogame's faces turned pale as they attempted to rush over to her, Taotie and I stood in their way. I couldn't let them look at Kyouka. It would be a problem if they found out that she was still awake.
"Hmph. There's no need to hide it anymore. Right, when Hundun lost to you people, he had been thoroughly weakened. However, to think that he would 'convert'...The one who would be 'converted' would normally be the human vessel, and yet on the contrary, the 'Evil Spirit' was the one who became under her control."
While explaining the technical term, I dropped my coat with a thud.
"It's impossible for Hundun to defeat Taotie after losing his power...so I suppose all he could do was rely on the underhanded tactic of pretending to be a companion. Such a shortsighted 'Evil Spirit'...What a heap of trash he is to surrender to the humans and fall under their control!"
"You're exaggerating, Ii! Hundun isn't under anyone's control!"
As expected, Kurogame snapped at my verbal abuse and brandished her fist in a rage.
"Surely those two have established some kind of bond! I saw it myself! Hundun protected Kyou when they collided against the ground! You saw it too, right Ryu?!"
"Right...I saw it as well."
Ryuuga, finally trusting Hundun, slightly nodded her head. Way to go tortoise, you were helpful!
"Hmph. At any rate, Hundun has already withdrawn. All that's left for me is to watch as Taotie plays with you all."
Ryuuga stared at me in frustration as I made an evil grin.
That's right, Ryuuga. Be disillusioned. Demote this guy here from the role of a semi-boyfriend.
As expected, even when knowing that my consciousness in under control, even you would probably come to hate me! But, don't drop me as a friend!
"Come now, Taotie! Let's kill these two! Let's trample down on them! Let's gouge at their intestines and use their organs for juggling──"
"We won't let you!"
At that moment, a familiar voice cut off my dialogue.
When I looked, three girls stood there about ten meters away on top of the bank.
The petite, dainty shrine maiden with flowing beige hair.
The tall, ponytailed swordswoman carrying a wooden sword.
The vampire with crimson, wavy hair and will-o'-the-wisps surrounding her.
...Of course, it was the three heroines. Yukimiya Shiori, Aogasaki Rei, and Elmira McCartney.
"H, how did you all...Did you kill my subordinates?!"
Though I was legitimately flustered, I chuckled to myself deep down. What perfect timing. I'd like some cool background music to play here! If possible, I'd also like to prevent any commercial interruptions!
While my tension was secretly rising, the heroines slid down the bank's slope. They then ran up to Ryuuga.
"E, everyone...you're all safe..."
Looking at their faces, Ryuuga smiled for the first time today. Being conscious, her tone of voice and appearance had become that of a boy's again.
"For some reason, the apostles suddenly withdrew."
"Though we're a bit concerned, we decided to head here at any rate."
"We promised you, didn't we? We said that we would come rushing to you."
While they spoke, the heroines turned towards me
Next, they unleashed a huge aura, and behind them, their guardian deities suddenly manifested.
Yukimiya's "White Tiger." Aogasaki's "Azure Dragon." Elmira's "Vermilion Bird." And, Kurogame's "Black Tortoise," who couldn't show up in part one. The four gods appeared together.
(So the three princesses did their job well...Alright, things are going just as planned!)
Right. This was the final stage of the plot.
Endgame──Operation Phase 3. With her companions arriving just in time, the stage has been set for Ryuuga's victory.
I let the three princesses retreat back home in order to buy some time before they would have to digest the two major episodes, "Ryuuga's Crisis" and "Hundun's Betrayal." As a result, I had been waiting for the three heroines to appear.
All the main characters should be together during the climax.
In the finale, a joint attack with everyone's power will bring it all to an end.
(Perhaps we're rushing things just a bit, but I probably livened things up enough.)
All that's left is to be gloriously beaten as the final boss.
Then I'll return to the Kobayashi Ichirou I was before...staring blankly while feigning ignorance.
"Unleashing divine might──'Yellow Dragon!'"
Just the response I expected.
Once Ryuuga yelled, the golden dragon once again manifested.