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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 .
“Yes . ”
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 . ”
“That’s right . ”
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 .
“… Amazing . ”
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 .
“We’re here . ”
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 . ”
“Well met . ”
“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 . ”
“Ah, sure . ”
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 .