A day had passed.
Hearing that Yukimiya was at school, Ryuuga and I went to see her the moment first period was over.
We asked Elmira if she wanted to come along, but she was lying down at her desk and didn't seem to be waking up anytime soon. Apparently, she had been writing a reply to Shizuma until late at night.
"Elle really cares about Shizuma, doesn't she?"
"Yeah. She was even trying to send him money. That would have caused trouble for the one delivering our letters, so we managed to stop her though."
"Does the spirit world even use money?"
While speaking with Ryuuga, we peeked into second year class C──and found Yukimiya slumped over her desk.
She noticed us approaching and got up, but her complexion was obviously bad. It seems that it was considerably hard for her to even come to school. I'm worried that she'll be absent from this episode.
"Shiori, are you alright? You should visit the infirmary..."
When Ryuuga said that with concern, Yukimiya made an unsteady smile.
"No, I'm fine. My fever has gone down and I feel a lot less tired today..."
"Besides, I want to avoid owing Jyuri anything...I still don't accept her as the school nurse."
In response, Ryuuga faltered while saying "Uh..." Perhaps she was feeling guilty for trying to lead her into one of Hebizuka's massages.
"Since the season's changing, it's probably just a cold. Sorry for causing you all any──"
Yukimiya's head plopped down onto the desk. Thereupon...
"Kobayashi, Hinomori. Do you have a moment?"
Hebizuka entered the room and immediately started a conversation.
The blonde woman, who was once again dressed in a white gown with a tight skirt and high heels today, walked briskly towards us. The boys couldn't take their eyes off her alluring I-cup as it bounced with each step she took.
"W, what are you doing here? You're the school nurse."
Despite her weak condition, Yukimiya immediately put up her guard.
Ignoring the "Shrine Maiden of Life," Jyuri whispered to us. She made sure that nobody else could overhear us.
"Ichirou. I've decided to visit you to relay some information."
"Yes. In a place not far from the school, perhaps about six hundred meters southeast...I feel an ill will."
"Ill will? In other words, an 'Apostle of Hell'?"
While my eyes widened, Hebizuka grimaced and made a strange expression. She couldn't confirm it for whatever reason, causing Ryuuga and me to exchange looks.
"I'd like to say it's an apostle, but...there's something odd about it. It's like a chaotic mixture of ordinary ill wills."
Upon hearing that information, the unidentified monster I fought at the riverbank came to mind.
It was a strange monster that attacked Elmira and Shizuma. If I were to take a guess──I'd say that it was an amalgamation of many apostles.
I told the three princesses about it just last night, but they were all puzzled by it as well.
──Qiongqi's power is 'resurrecting apostles that have been transformed into souls.'
──I've never heard of Qiongqi having any other abilities.
──Of course, there's no ability that can combine numerous apostles. If you mean combining in a lewd way, I can show you tonight if you want.
Those were the three princesses' responses. That last remark came from the immoral female staff member in front of me.
──It's not like it matters all that much, Sonny. If push comes to shove, wallop the sucker. That's all you need to do.
──My tonkatsu...definitely had a tiny piece missing, didn't it?
While I was recalling the comments the "Evil Spirits" made, Ryuuga suddenly made a brave expression and spoke. It seems she entered her protagonist mode.
"I'll head over to the site. Ichirou, could you go back to the classroom and wake Elmira? I'll contact Rei and Rina."
"I, I'll also go."
When the "Shrine Maiden of Life" vigorously got up from her seat, Hebizuka immediately responded.
"You're in no condition to do that. Come to the school infirmary. You look deathly pale, you know?"
"I'm fine. I know my own body the most."
Though she said that, Ryuuga and I both showed signs of disapproval.
She was clearly in poor condition. She should honestly leave school early and rest at home...battling would be too much for her.
"Shiori. You shouldn't overexert yourself. Leave this to us for today."
"No. I won't allow myself to just lay around at home while everyone else is fighting. I am the 'Shrine of Maiden of Life'...the successor to one of the four gods, the 'White Tiger.'"
Yukimiya stubbornly refused to yield, causing Ryuuga to reluctantly nod.
I believe that's a result of her calmly judging that she didn't have the time to argue, and her naturally being weak to pressure. As usual, she's a protagonist who can be both reliable and helpless.
"...Ichirou. Take care of Yukimiya Shiori. Of course, this is not my request as one of the 'Three Princesses of Hell,' but as a school nurse."
When Jyuri whispered that, I nonchalantly nodded my head.
...Or rather, am I going as well...? I'm just a powerless citizen though (I hope).
Following the ill will, we came to an abandoned factory at the corner of an alley.
It was a spacious and dreary place that had been the site of several battles. In the concrete wall, there was a large hole from when Ryuuga sent an apostle flying.
(Come to think of it, wasn't this also where I first met Mion?)
At that time, I didn't think she would end up making miso soup for me everyday. Furthermore, I didn't think she would bring the eldest daughter and third daughter with her.
(Living together with them isn't all that bad now, but...now's not the time to be thinking about this.)
Setting my thoughts aside for now, I stared ahead.
I was behind the five main characters, Ryuuga and the members of the four gods. They were already prepared for battle and automatically got into a vanguard, middle guard, rearguard formation.
In front of them was──sure enough, another monster.
Its entire body had numerous faces, it wasn't based on another living thing, and was a grotesque giant.
Its numerous eyeballs jerked around, its many mouths uttered groans of resentment, and it emitted a suffocating ill will. It didn't seem to speak any words and couldn't communicate.
(There are definitely multiple ill wills coming from this thing. So that means it is an amalgamation of apostles, right? Numerous apostles gathered and transformed through super electromagnetic fusion, right?) TLN I believe this is a reference to Super Sentai since Googling the term "super electromagnetic fusion" points to a mecha in the show that forms through two other mechas combining
However, the monster this time was smaller in scale than the previous one.
First of all, there were fewer faces. Its size was clearly smaller as well. It still spans four meters, but the previous one was larger. If the last one was a heavyweight fighter, this one's lightweight.
Of course, it would still be a formidable enemy, but nothing that would beat Ryuuga and the crew. Kurogame's here from the beginning as well. All members are present.
(Naturally, I'll just watch. I'll do my best by providing commentary!)
...However, things didn't go that way.
It wasn't long after the battle began that something arose. Yukimiya, who slowed down the enemy's movements with the ring of her Kagura suzu, suddenly fell down.
The sounds of her bells vanished and the monster regained its original movements. Furthermore, several new arms grew from its body and it swung them around recklessly.
"Guh, to think my body was this bad..."
Yukimiya tried to quickly get up, but she soon lost her strength. We tried to warm you! You should have listened and stayed home!
"Ichirou! Take care of Shiori! Bring her a safe distance away!"
As requested by the protagonist, I carried Yukimiya in my arms and fled to a corner.
Well, I ended up getting involved in a battle once again...nobody seems to question my presence here either. They even said "Huh, you're not going to be part of the formation?" to me.
(Though if anyone should be at home right now other than Yukimiya, it would be me. Don't you all realize that? I am a friend character, okay? Someone from the daily life part of the story, you know?)
Well, what's done is done. Come to think of it, Hebizuka also asked me to take care of Yukimiya. I suppose this degree of care is within tolerable limits.
For now, I'll comply and watch over the battle.
Though Yukimiya was absent, the members were experienced at fighting. They could immediately react to an accident and overwhelmed their opponent through amazing teamwork.
"Rina, keep it surrounded! Attract the opponent's attention!"
The vanguard, Aogasaki and Kurogame, spread out and disturbed the monster.
I think just the tortoise would be enough for the vanguard, right? Didn't she call herself "Ryuuga's shield" or something?
"Let me incinerate those annoying arms! Ryuuga, it'll be your turn once the chance arises!"
The middle guard, Elmira, commanded a swarm of will-o'-the-wisps and spoke while standing beside the protagonist.
Ryuuga nodded and unleashed a golden aura from her whole body.
Perhaps she's going to launch her deadly "Dragon Fang (that's what I'm calling it)." That skill grows in power the longer she charges it. That's why those three heroines are buying time for her.
The protagonist is the one who finishes off the opponent...the heroines seem to know that as well.
So until then, I'll play my role!
"A, as expected of your teamwork! You have that monster in the palm of your hands! I see, its numerous eyeballs are backfiring! Since it can see everyone, it can't decide on a target!"
Making sure to speak smoothly and clearly, I commentated on the situation. Each time Yukimiya lifted her head, wanting to get back into the battle, I forcefully pushed her back down.
"──Now! Go, Ryuuga!"
"Do it, Ryu!"
"Finish it, Ryuuga!"
At that moment, the heroines succeeded in throwing the monster off balance and shouted.
"Unleashing divine might! 'Dragon King,' become one with my body and slay the enemy!"
Golden bullets of light soared right towards the enemy──piercing through its big body.
"...I'm sorry everyone. I got in your way..."
After safely dealing with the monster, everyone gathered.
Yukimiya dejectedly bowed down while saying that. She bit her lip in regret.
"Don't feel so down, Shiori. If someone's in a bad state, we'll cover for them...that's what friends are for."
Ryuuga gave a refreshing smile and patted her head.
Legend says that a protagonist's head pats have the power to stir a girl's heart. If sub-characters like me did it, we would be accused of sexual harassment.
"You always help us out, Shiori. This time, you should focus on your health."
"Even I caused you all trouble when I was taking care of Shizuma. I'll cover your part this time."
"I'm always late, so you can skip out from time to time, Shio!"
When her companions encouraged her, Yukimiya finally gave a small smile.
Then, Kurogame remembered something, saying "Oh right," and presented her left fist to Yukimiya. Looking closely, there was a small cut on the back of her hand.
"I got it when I punched the enemy a bit ago. Shio, could you heal it?"
"S, sure. Leave it to me."
That's the kind of wound that would be fine after a bit of spit on it.
However, perhaps that's Kurogame's way of showing appreciation. She probably wants to cheer her up by relying on her for something.
(Ryuga can also do some healing, but she can only use it on herself. The 'Shrine Maiden of Life' Yukimiya is the only one who can heal others. To think that the tortoise could be this thoughtful...)
I was quite impressed. However, Kurogame's actions ended up backfiring unexpectedly.
Yukimiya held her hand over Kurogame's wound, just as usual. However──nothing happened. Her healing ability didn't activate.
"W, what, why...?"
She frantically tried again and again, but the same result happened. The wound didn't heal.
When Yukimiya was dumbfounded, Ryuuga hastily comforted her.
"You must be tired. You better not force yourself. Your current condition is more important than Rina's wound."
Yukimiya became gloomier and once again said "Sorry..." while bowing her head.
Though victory had been achieved, the atmosphere was quite heavy.