Volume 8, Chapter 31: Side Story, Earth: When I got trapped, part 2.
A ramen shop that had opened several years ago in a certain place in Tokyo.
This was the branch store of a certain famous store, with the main store being a very traditional place that was dedicated to “ramen”. But this store was a bright and cheery one with plenty of personal touches from the young couple that owned and ran the place, and it came to be beloved of the community within a few years.
However, since this store’s owner would occasionally be away for a business trip every few weeks or so, during that time they had a male part-timer who manned the kitchen.
Although his skills and personality weren’t bad, he drank throughout the day, and with his manly influence, the place attracted more young athletes than their usual families.
“…… Onzada, are you still doing that?”
“geh, elder brother……”
Ever since that incident in his childhood, Onzada had become distrustful of [Miyama], and deviated from being a demon-sealing monk, working as a freelancer exorcist under the name “Haimiya”.
He was a so called “sympathetic”, and his reputation was stellar in some parts of the industry, but it wasn’t quite profitable as someone so softhearted.
It was about 2pm in the afternoon, when most of the customers of the store weren’t in, and his elder brother, who had taught Onzada how to seal evil, walked in, thinking that Onzada had gone mad.
Although Onzada had been treated as if he had been formally disowned by his house, this one elder brother would still come by to see Onzada with some reason or another.
“What, are you not going to lecture me?”
“I just came here to eat ramen.”
“……Sigh. I recommend the seaweed ramen.”
There was a local legend that a certain girl who loved ramen had eaten this ramen with seaweed in it, where the seaweed never ran out no matter how much she ate, and who came by to eat it again and again.
“Here you go.”
“……I’ve troubled you.”
As the elder brother thanked the young woman who brought him his chilled tea, she smiled innocently, like a child.
“Please, take your time.”
“…… Misa, don’t be mean.”
“No, it’s alright. ……… ah, welcome!”
As Misa turned towards the foreign girls who walked in, there was a fragile atmosphere settling between Onzada and his older brother, and the two began to chat with the sound of Misa serving the girls in the background.
“…… Will you not apologize to our father?”
“What do I have to apologize for……? I have done nothing wrong.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Welcome~ So what do you expect me to do?”
“I heard that the stuff called “ryamen” here is famous.”
“No, it’s “Ra-men”.”
“Uhm…… is this your first time eating ramen?”
“A long time ago …… you let her die. “
“…… There was nothing I could have done. You know that too.”
“I don’t know. And would you say that it wouldn’t have changed a thing?”
“We recommend the seaweed ramen. It’s easy to eat.”
“I’d like that.”
“Yes, that’ll be good. I am also interested in remodeling the seaweed.”
“…… the seaweed ramen for me too.”
“Onzada, living this kind of life……”
“Don’t interfere with my work. …… hang on, your seaweed ramen will be right out.”
“What is this stick?”
“Eh? Don’t you know what chopsticks are?”
“Of course I know who Mr Chopstick is.”
“I know~ It’s for knitting, right!”
“Please stop nosing about the seal. Miyama is watching you.”
“…… I know that. I’m not doing anything, though.”
“You know you can’t make that excuse.”
“This is a pretty good use of the seaweed.”
*crack* *tink* *clatter* *slurpurpurpurpurpurpurpurpurpurpurp……*
The strange conversation and noises that were coming from the corner seats caused Onzada and his brother to lose their train of thought, and fell silent.
“…… Take care of yourself for now. That respected shrine maiden has come to Kanto. Keep your eyes open out there.”
“……Aah. I get it.”
After seeing his elder brother who had given him valuable information off, Onzada looked back with a sigh at Misa who was holding an empty tray with nothing on it, standing there with a blue face.
“Oh? Misa, who were those customers just now?”
“Uh…… they ate everything and then left, and they then left this behind with the bill bill……”
“Why, is it not enough?”
“Uhm…… do you think this is alright?”
Misa reluctantly held out a heavy golden coin that was exquisitely carved, which looked like it could easily fetch a 7-figure price if it were solid.
* * *
After somehow getting a month’s worth of sales in an unexpected windfall, he thought about going out to drink, but then remembered that he couldn’t go out and play with his newly-married friend, and went off to work in the evening.
Working in the evening. Of course, it was an “exorcism”.
Although it was called an exorcism, in this mana-depleted world, neither demons or creatures of myth appeared naturally. What the exorcists of this world did was to remove spirits, and the targets for exorcism were evil spirits.
Onzada was currently working for the Kuon family long-term. who managed the land, and with his reputation for being a gentle soul, he was asked by the old woman who owned the land to [appease] the spirits of the old trees that had to be moved for the road expansion, and worked and drank nearly daily.
Although it wasn’t quite a negative evaluation, Onzada, who disliked being called “uncool” in this underground industry, wore an anachronistic leather jacket to give himself a wild look, but he very much oozed the atmosphere of an old man behind his back.
“This is not the only purpose……”
Persuading the spirits of the old trees was important, but that wasn’t all.
The information that his elder brother had leaked was that that shrine maiden who had killed Yuzu was coming to Kanto. Perhaps she would stay here in Kanto until the seal was complete, but by that time, he hoped to find out her whereabouts.
Of course, even though he still believed that she was still alive, he still wanted to avenge the loss of Yuzu, but it was also important for his friends and collaborators – the people of the Kuon and Niku families – to avoid facing the poisonous reach of that shrine maiden.
But that shrine maiden ~ Matsuri ~ hadn’t given up on the Kuons or the Nikus. And in fact Matsuri had once sprinkled Onzada with that poisonous powder in secret.
“You’re fucking kidding me, that lecherous woman.”
Still, in the underground industry, there were plenty of rumors about her, and even some of the monks of [Miyama] had become dissatisfied and complained about her.
Tonight, it seemed that one of the information brokers had gotten their hands on information about the shrine maiden, and Onzada came to the temple in the middle of the night, not too far from the old tree, to meet the broker.
As Onzada sipped from his metal hip flask, he suddenly turned a sharp eye towards the darkness.
“Oi, come out!”
As he heard the voice of a young man replying foolishly, out stepped beautiful youths dressed in monk’s clothes, chests bared to the world.
“……Who are you?”
As if they were some sort of visual kei band or an idol group, the youths all looked visually distinct from one another, one of which was handsome, another cool, another cute, another metropolitan, and their hair colors were equally distinct like traffic lights, one red, one blue, one yellow, and one white.
“So you are the one who is sniffing around for Matsuri.”
“It seems that he refused Matsuri once.”
“This old uncle? What a joke.”
“No, if you shave and dress like us, you’ll be quite splendid too.”
Onzada felt sick to his stomach after being winked at by the last guy.
“Haah?! There aren’t any men who don’t understand this hard-boiled wildness.”
It’s impossible for either to understand the other since they were so different from each other. It was a feeling that was hard to accept for normal folk in the first place.
Anyway, these were clearly subordinates of the shrine maiden Matsuri, or her harem members. The information broker might have betrayed him, or been tortured, and they had come here to capture or dispose of him.
He didn’t want to die, but he’d rather die than be Matsuri’s plaything. That was why there was no choice but for Onzada to defeat them.
(…… these guys are clearly possessed)
They had been possessed by that existence – that [God].
If so, it was impossible to persuade them, and if they fought, their abilities would have been boosted considerably.
A terrible pinch. Onzada, who felt that even his chastity was in danger from that beautiful man’s gaze, looked around for anything at all.
In the distance, something black and white fluttered.
As he made out the shape of a skirt, and the white-stockinged legs that fluttered out towards the palm of his hand, he suddenly heard a “voice” in his head.[Onza, quickly, run!!!]
He snapped out of the haze muddying his thoughts.
That was the voice of the “ancient tree”. Onzada noticed that the outcry was both serious and angry, a far cry from its usual moody and bossy tone.
A girl with a mask, that looked like a [Jester], advanced towards them soundlessly. As the hard mask turned into a distorted smile, baring black fangs, Onzada knew in an instant that it was beyond him, and fled.
“Ah? A clown?”
Onzada heard the youths talk to each other, seemingly unworried, like their heads were full of wool, even as he ran without looking back, he could hear an ugly, childlike laugh, and then the screaming of their last moments.
Onzada kept running, unable to find relief even after a few minutes of running, finally collapsing at dawn, sweating all over, shouting with a loud cry from the depths of his heart, thanking the spirits of the old trees.
* * *
“Will be searching for Mistress soon?”
“Yeah~ I didn’t get full from the ramen, but I’m glad that I managed to fill myself with the 4 little snacks.”
“It’s not Ramen, it’s Ra~men.”
“Is that so? Then, when the twins arrive, I’ll tell them to go have Ra~men.”
And so, just like this, while having this dangerous conversation as casually as workmates, the Demons enjoyed this world, awaiting being called by their Mistress, all while causing massive trauma in many ways.
And this is the end of the Earth stories.
Next time, before the third part, a small story in the in-between worlds.
A pleasant bit of slice of life here, just a bit to go!
fufu the side stories are great/