Thinking back, even Nayame could tell there was something weird with me for a moment.
So, following Ouka’s advice, I used ‘Presence Block’ to hide all signs of my nature.
“Well then, let’s go to the capital.”
Having disguised both my face and my true nature, I went into the cave with Ouka.
The sound of our footsteps echoed inside as we walked.
Inside the cave, the field of vision grew darker as you go further in, but aside from that there was nothing else worth mentioning.
Ouka and I silently proceeded further in, and arrived at a point where the road stopped and there was no clear path from that point onwards.
“It’s a dead end…”
“No, it’s not.”
My words came out as a whisper as I stared at the wall that was right in front of us.
But then, Ouka continued to walk towards the wall without hesitation, placed her hand on it… And then her hand went through the wall as if being sucked in.
“This is the way out.”
Ouka started going through the wall slowly and steadily, almost as if to show me how it’s done, and then disappeared completely into it.
I was a bit surprised at first, but then remembered the first time I arrived at Ouka’s shrine.
This was exactly how it was the first time I went there.
Just like Ouka, I pushed my hand against the wall and it went right through it.
What was I waiting for?
I was being driven by a strange sense of curiosity in this unimaginable scenery.
I didn’t feel anything when I touched that wall. On the other side, once the rest of my body had gone through, I found that such a gorgeous world… was not there at all, but instead more of the same cave we were in.
The atmosphere was so similar that for a moment I did not know if I had gone through the wall at all, but Ouka was there to bring me back to reality.
“Here we are, Yato-sama.”
Half disoriented, after hearing Ouka’s voice, I went down to where she was.
Once there, a light suddenly began to shine in front of us, letting us know that we were close to our destination.
Ouka and I exited the cave, and an “oh” escaped from my mouth as I saw what was there.
Ouka and I nodded at each other, and looked at what loomed ahead.
A perfect-looking Japanese castle.
It had an appearance that even an amateur would understand, complete with typical roof tiles and white-lacquered walls.
Though it was still a bit far off in the distance, its sheer presence made it feel like it was closer than it really was.
“Black Princess is waiting for you at the castle’s tower.”
Ouka pointed at the topmost part of the castle as she explained that.
That’s where we were going.
Teleporting there would have been easy enough, but there’s a reason why we were going through the main entrance.
My eyes had been fixed on the castle for a while, but looking down I could see that there were several small houses around it.
I wanted to see what the town looked like.
Since the place we were going is known as a capital, I expected it to be quite prosperous.
“Let’s finish this quickly so we can return to Karen-sama.”
Of course, spending too much time sightseeing wouldn’t do at all.
Ouka and I went down the cliff and headed to the castle town.
Traditionally, people are set on their idea of youkai and regard them as “frightening things”.
But that might be just people nowadays taking the prejudice of the people from the olden days for granted.
That word just came out of my mouth, almost as a whisper.
I couldn’t see a single “frightening thing” or anything like that.
It almost felt as if we had been taken back to the Edo period.
On the way to the castle, several passing youkai had caught my attention.
There was nothing to worry about. If I had looked way too different than a regular human, I would have attracted the attention of anyone who passed by.
Rather than just one-eyed youkai or half-beasts, even youkai shaped as things that are not normally alive such as darumas and umbrellas moved around everywhere, and had conversations with each other.
But there was nothing wrong about that sight.
Instead, far from “frightening”, these youkai were overflow with radiance.
“It’s quite lively around here.”
“It seems this is the last land of the youkai. For that reason, all of the youkai that have been scattered around far away from these lands have gathered here.”
“So they just needed to gather here?”
“There is a reason, and that is that there is not just one race of youkai.”
Ouka starts speaking while facing somewhere else.
“Youkai feed on various things depending on their race. Grass, fruit, meat, spirits, and so on. There are infinite variations depending on each race of youkai, and there are cases where some of them can’t procure food for themselves and become extinct. That’s why Black Princess, in cooperation with five other youkai, decided to provide for everyone one way or another.”
That’s why they gathered in the capital.
They support each other by cooperating and compensating what their neighbor lacks.
It feels almost like a human society.
That’s the vague impression I got from Ouka’s explanation.
Ouka stopped walking, and I soon followed suit.
Before I knew it, we were already in front of the castle.
Having it right in front of my face, I could feel its immense presence.
I took a deep breath as I my eyes moved towards the top of the castle.
“We’re here to see Her Highness, Black Princess.”
“Please, do come in.”
Ouka announced us both before the black-winged gatekeepers that stood at each side of the castle gates.
“Let’s go, Yato-sama.”
I was just standing there in awe, but Ouka’s voice prompted me to catch up to here with a small trot.
“Speaking of which, what kind of youkai is Black Princess?”
I was curious, so I asked Ouka. But apparently it wasn’t a question that could be answered easily.
Ouka was at a loss for words, which may or may not have been befitting of her.
“What can I say? … She’s very, very big.”
“Huh? What? Like a giant?”
In my head, I could only imagine some sort of giant youkai. Ouka’s next answer took some time, too.
For some reason, she was slightly blushing, and replied with nothing more than “you’ll understand when you look at her.”
Ouka’s answer ended up getting me even more confused than I already was.
At the shrine
“… Can’t I even show it to at least one of these cubs?”
I was still struggling.