"Oh, did that really happen today? Must have been tough, Sonny."
"In those kinds of situations, you could have asked me, Jyuri, to come over."
I was at the dining table that day. I complained about today's disastrous events to the non-participants, Hundun and Jyuri.
It was already eight pm. Dinner took place a little later than usual. Since Mion sent Tao home, cooking preparations were a bit delayed.
"It really was tough. Tao kept getting game overs immediately, squandering more of our budget than I thought..."
"I had to praise her playing skills, and that was difficult."
Mion sighed while Kiki chuckled. That's probably because she got to play a lot of games with Tao and also got a monster figure. It was the plant monster Plantria.
(I'm dead tired. I'm going to bed after eating and taking a bath. Oh, before I do that, I need to give Renie a call...)
The heron girl breathed a sigh of surrender while I ate up my meal.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
"Huh? What an odd time. Is there a delivery?"
"It's okay Mion, I'll answer the door. It might be a door-to-door salesman."
The king cobra daughter stood up and held back the heron daughter, who was about to head towards the door.
Indeed, if it's a door-to-door salesman, Jyuri would be the best person to deal with them. Mion would just kick the person out while shouting "You're a bother!" while Kiki would immediately say "We'll buy it."
Since Jyuri works as a school nurse, her communication skills are a cut above the rest. Making good use of her conversation skills and charm, she even managed to convince a salesman to clean out the drain in front of our house.
...However, an incident arose only a few seconds afterwards.
Jyuri suddenly let out a panicked voice from the front door.
"W, what did you come here for?!"
Hundun, Mion, Kiki, and I all exchanged glances at once.
Having a bad premonition, I promptly headed towards the front door. For caution's sake, I had Hundun withdraw back into me. Unlike Taotie, he can't be more than three meters away from me.
"Hey, Jyuri. What did──"
I halted my words the moment I arrived at the front door. It seems that my gut feeling was right on the mark.
Standing outside the door was neither a door-to-door salesman, nor was it a delivery man.
It was a beautiful girl who had long, straight, beige hair and wore an Oumei High School uniform...Yukimiya Shiori.
"Kobayashi, I apologize for coming her without warning...it seems the three princesses are here with you today."
"Huh? Oh, r, right! They happen to be here!"
Taking advantage of her misunderstanding, I had her enter the home.
Mion and Kiki stared at the "Shrine Maiden of Life" as she entered the living room.
I offered Yukimiya a cushion to sit on and sat facing her on the opposite side of the table. Mion brought some tea, but she only gave a slight bow and placed her hands on the ground.
"What? I didn't poison it, you know?"
"N, no. That's not it."
"I can also give you something to eat."
"No thank you. It's not that I'm wary, I just don't think I can eat or drink anything..."
For a while, Yukimiya kneeled down on the floor in silence.
...I have a rough idea as to why she came here.
It's obvious from her intense stare. It seems that some sudden truth has come to light for Yukimiya. Something about her condition.
"Yukimiya, if it's hard to speak while the three princesses are here, do you want to take this conversation somewhere else?"
Yukimiya glanced at the generals behind me, but shook her head.
"No, it's fine. This might concern the three princesses as well."
──From there, Yukimiya Shiori started telling us about the events that transpired an hour prior.
Sebastian, or rather Rikushou Renie, told her everything.
"...Honestly, I still can't process it all yet. The 'Evil Spirit' Taowu is already a shock for me, but I can't even begin to believe that...Sebastian's an apostle."
Yukimiya bit her lip while clutching her skirt. She looked worse than I had ever seen her, and I could tell that she was exhausted.
(Renie, what in the world are you planning? Why did you reveal it all to Yukimiya so quickly without consulting me?)
Such a hasty act goes against the well-being of both Tao and Yukimiya. That's not something a loyal subject would do. It's not something befitting of a butler either.
"Kobayashi, those frequent gaps in my memory are...because of Taowu, right? I couldn't 'convert' the 'Evil Spirit' like you did, and my consciousness was taken over, just like with Kyouka in the past..."
"...Yeah, that's correct."
"Does Taowu plan on using me as a vessel to rule the human world? Sebastian could be following orders as a subordinate..."
"No, that's not it, Yukimiya. Tao...err, Taowu doesn't intend to harm you or even humanity. Didn't Renie tell you that?"
"Sebastian only mentioned this briefly, but...he said that the longstanding grudge of the 'Evil Spirit' will rekindle."
Renie, what are you seriously planning?
Well, if he plans on making Tao the final boss, I'd be grateful of that. However, Tao doesn't want that. It's quite troublesome for me since I can't force her into it.
"There's another thing Sebastian told me. He wants me to decide between abandoning my role as the successor of the 'White Tiger' or my role as Taowu's vessel. He'll fight me depending on my answer."
Tears welled up in Yukimiya's eyes. She leaned forward, pleading for my help through her eyes.
"Kobayashi, what should I do? I'm so confused and──"
At that moment, Yukimiya suddenly stopped speaking. Her crying suddenly turned into anger as she stood up with a shout.
"Lemme get a word in! I ain't forgivin' Renie!"
Tao appeared. Judging from her words, it seems that it's only now that she knows the situation.
"What a crook, actin' like a watermelon thief and makin' my landlord cry! I'll hand him over to the namahage!"
"Hey, Tao. Withdraw for a bit. I need to speak with Yukimiya."
"Ichirou! I also wanna speak with Shiori! I wanna undo this misunderstandin'!"
"That might be hard to do..."
"I wanna get along with Shiori! I wanna have her know that! Shiori's in such a pitiful state right now!"
I folded my arms while trying to figure out what to do. Suddenly, a loud voice arose from behind me.
"Hey, Sonny. If you want Tao and Yukimiya to have a conversation, I've got a good method."
When I turned around, there stood Hundun, a large middle-aged man with a beard. He carried my father's personal video camera.
"It should be simple with this thing, right? What a convenient invention by humans."
"...You mean we should record video messages?"
"Sure. It's faster to watch Tao herself speak than to have bystanders relay what she said secondhand, right? Seeing is believing."
Before I could reply, Tao shouted "Let's do it!" and cheerfully raised her hand.
"If we use that, I oughta be able to talk with Shiori! Good goin' there, Dun! You've got the blue intellect of the ruler Dessler'!"TLNThis seems to be a reference to Space Battleship Yamato. Dessler is the leader of an alien race who launched an attack on Earth in the series. He has blue skin.
"I don't think him being blue has anything to do with his intellect."
...Well, it's not a bad idea.
Tao can hear Yukimiya's voice, but Yukimiya can't hear Tao's voice. However, that problem goes away with video messages. The messages are immediately accessible to Yukimiya as well.
I can't leave Yukimiya in a state of panic and worry.
At any rate, Tao and Yukimiya reconciling is top priority right now. Since Renie already revealed himself, there's no need to arrange things with him.
When I sent a glance of approval, the "Middle-Aged Evil Spirit" nodded and said "Okay."
"Then it's set. Hey Tao, sit here. Let's start now."
"H, hold up!"
Tao halted Hundun as he was setting up the camera. She quickly took out a hand mirror and began to adjust her bangs.
"Aah, if I knew this would happen, I woulda put on some makeup. It's embarrassin' sayin' hello to Shiori with my bare face..."
"Um, isn't she just going to see herself? You have the appearance of Yukimiya, right?"
"I shoulda put on some chest pads. Oh, Mion, lemme borrow two bowls. I oughta boost my chest!"
"You don't need to do that! You'll worsen your relationship with her!"
After calming Tao down, we began her "video message recording."