Two and a half hours on the express line from the large terminal in the city center.
After that, moving on to a local line for thirty minutes.
Four hours after they left the Toujou home, Basara and the others arrived at a particular station.
Passing through the station gates, Basara was greeted by a scenery that was not much different from that which remained in his memories,
“It’s been five years, since I even came to this station…”
It had been five years since they were banished from the village. In that time neither Basara nor Jin had ever returned.
Feeling a deep sense of nostalgia, he could not help but to let out a spontaneous mutter.
—- But, the place they’re aiming to go to is still beyond here. With that, Mio appeared to stand next to Basara. Locking the wheel of the suitcase that contain changes of clothes and other things needed for their travel, Mio spoke,
“We’ll be going by car from here?”
She asked as she took in the scenery that greeted her for the first time. What Mio was asking was about how they’ll get to their destination – the Hero Clan’s Village – from here. Hence,
“Yeah, bus or taxi. I’m sure the transportation network had changed in the last five years but… it should be fine around this area, right?”
As Basara asked this, Yuki, who took to Basara’s side on the opposite side of Mio gave a single nod,
“It’s fine. As briefed about before, this area had not changed much since you were last here.” “But it’s not climbing season, so a car could only go around halfway there”
Kurumi who was behind them said to supplement Yuki’s words. Then,
“What should we do? Should we use my flying magic?”
Kurumi said, offering a different method than cars. It was something Kurumi had suggested before even coming here. And without a doubt, using magic to fly is definitely a plausible method.
With a barrier too, they would not have to worry about being seen by on-lookers. …But.
It wasn’t something that could be entirely safe. In a different meaning from the demon world, this visit was one they must take the utmost precaution for. Hence, Basara shook his head and spoke,
“Let’s not do that… At the moment, it’s best to take the most regulated way. We should take regular transportation until as far as we can”
Going into the mountains is just a bit from here, this area was already within the Village’s territory.
To be discreet and not be seen by normal people, and to not reveal secrets about the hero clan — that was the law of the Village.
— Of course, there were times where one could ignore regulation for efficiency. Cases for flying magic or super seed aren’t rare.
Those are permitted case by case by Village. It’s also restricted to the members of the clan. Basara, who had been banished, and Mio, a demon, are not part of the Village’s rules.
At any rate.
The order for Yuki and Kurumi to return, and to bring Basara and Mio with them, was without a doubt not one of jubilation and welcome.
“As such, for now Zest-san and I will remain here”
Maria said with a displeased tone. Basara used his right hand to pet the head of Maria, who was pouting.
“Sorry… The elders asked for just me and Mio. It’s not impossible for you and Zest to come, saying you’re our escort but”
Like the demon world, they could decide not to comply with their opponent, and consider prioritizing their safety and go against the words of the elders, that much had always been a choice.
And it wasn’t a wrong way of thinking. But,
“No, we must avoid putting you and the others in a bad spot wherever possible, Basara-sama”
Zest, who had come all this way with Basara said firmly. However, despite the determination in her voice, Zest wore a gloomy expression. Most likely, her true feelings are the same as Maria, of wanting to go with Basara and the others.
Bringing Maria and Zest, who are demons, would somehow serve as a sort of impetus to the Village. Especially as Basara and the others have a special connection to the moderate faction of the demon world, and through clauses of peace that gives them a connection to the current
demon lord faction too. If they were to bring Maria and Zest too —- at the worst case, they couldn’t deny that their current situation might end up being used against them.
For instance, if the Village has some sort of secrecy going on in regard to the demons that leaked out, they’ll look to Basara suspiciously. At that moment, the Village could decide to oppose Basara using how he had brought Maria and Zest on his own free will, without getting permission from the Village.
…And in that case.
All of the hero clan would see Basara and Mio as dangerous —- as their own secrets were leaked out, it isn’t impossible for them to falsely accuse them of that conduct.
…Although he didn’t want to think about that.
Basara’s worry comes from how he doesn’t trust the other party, of thinking suspiciously. If it were his true feelings, he doesn’t want to have misgivings about his former friends —- about his hometown. But there was no harm in making sure that he doesn’t make any careless mistakes.
If they act strongly carelessly it could risk causing trouble for Yuki and Kurumi —- and not just them, but the Nonaka house that they were connected to within the clan. Once instructed to exterminate Mio, Yuki had gone against the Village’s order on that point.
They must avoid making Yuki’s standing any worse than it is now.
Think of the different situations that could arise, read the different hands that could lead to it and have reactions and plans to counter them —- then, if such a thing happens, execute it as quickly as possible. With this, eventually they would be able to match up an opponent much stronger than them. It’s not overthinking of things that would be unnecessary but thinking as far as possible for when it is —- it is because of this that Toujou Basara was able to overcome his adversity up to this point.
“That’s the case so, I’m sorry but you two should be on stand-by while we go there. Are you okay for housing?”
“Yes, as you have instructed, Basara-san, we have a reservation at an inn near the last station we changed at”
Maria answered his question with a smile.
—- It wasn’t that there was no lodging near this particular station.
As it was closer to the area of the village, and with how there were inns open despite the fact it wasn’t mountain climbing season, Maria and Zest initially wished to stay in this area. In the slimmest case that they may be needed, that would mean that they were able to go to Basara as quickly as possible.
If they stay so close to the village, there may be claims that he had them on reserve for a time. While he must think of a time if something may happen, Basara didn’t want to cause issues with the Village. With that, he got their understanding for them to go back to the other station and to stay at an inn near there for stand-by. However,
“Everyone… if something happens, contact us and we will be there right away” “Yeah, I got it…”
That’s right — if it comes to it, there’s no need to be particular about their method. They’re to meet with Maria and Zest right away and work it out from there together. Then, after they confirmed each other’s actions from this point.
“Anyway, from here on we will go by bus and taxi. As we have quite a bit of luggage if it’s a taxi it’ll be pretty tight unless we get a minivan of some sort… It’ll be good if we could get one with good timing but”
As he said that, a SUV approached them, at that moment, “It’s one of the Village’s cars…”
Saying that, Yuki thinned her eyes to focus on it. The Village sending someone to pick them up, wasn’t something they did not consider, they had thought if that was to happen the Village would’ve arranged for the car to wait for them before their arrival. Upon arriving and seeing such, they had thought that the possibility was no longer there but, it could be —- that they were being watched from a distance.
Being able to outwit Zolgear, Belphegor and other demons, had come from the fact that they didn’t know Basara and his group. But the Village knows Basara. Even though this doesn’t mean that they could read everything about him, they would be able to read his plans better compared to the demons. He has to brace himself for this —- thinking about this, Basara paid close attention to the car.
In front of Basara with furrowed brow, the car went past them without stopping. “…”
All of them were dumbfounded, as the car went past their backs, the brake ramp seems to be in a panic as it suddenly stopped with a halt, right before their eyes, and then, the door of the driver side door opened,
“Hmm… I’m not used to driving after all”
A man came out shaking his head exasperatedly as he exited the car. Upon seeing this man, with Japanese-styled clothing and long hair up to his waist exiting to stand, Kurumi exclaimed,
“Eh… D, dad?”
At how his own daughter exclaimed in confusion, the man —- Nonaka Shuuya —- said “hi” easily to them, and then walked towards them, and then, as he arrived in front of them,
“Welcome home… I’m happy you two seem well”
Saying that to Yuki and Kurumi both, he had a relaxed smile. And then to that,
“…I’m home, but why you dad?”
Yuki spoke the words of reunion with a soft look on her face, then with her question, her expression stiffened,
“Is it that strange for a father to pick up his daughter?”
“…To the point of doing things like driving a car that you’re not used to?”
Kurumi said, eyeing him. At being questioned by his puzzled younger daughter, Shuya gave a bitter smile.
“Your return this time is an order. As soon as you get to the Village you will be required to report to the elders right away. In this way, whether you want to or not you’ll be involved in the tension. That’s why I wanted a chance to be able to talk to you personally in this way before all of that. With you girls—“
And then, his gaze shifted over. “And with them too”
Saying that much, he fixed his gaze on Basara.
At Shuuya who, from a long time ago —- from five years ago, had not changed much, “Ojisan…” “Basara-kun, it’s been a while, you have really grown”
As Basara searched for the appropriate words for their reunion, Shuuya remarked on his growth, seemingly happy to see that, his voice nostalgic. Shuuya’s eyes thinned naturally at this. Basara, who stood in front of him, surely had let him see the past. To the Basara five years ago — the Basara who at the time was expelled from the Village.
—- Thinking of that, he had no reply. He felt he must say something, but it also seemed like saying anything would gloss over the present and the past. But thinking staying quiet was cowardice,
Shuuya placed his hand on the shoulder of Basara, who seemed desperately trying to tie words together,
“Surely you have a lot of things to say, piling up after all this time… It’s the same for me too” But.
“That isn’t something that will come with thinking about it. The more you think, the further away words get from the truth. That will increase the distance between those who have been apart”
However, said Shuuya.
“There is one thing I must say to you”
“Welcome home, Basara”
Smoothly, like a breath, the words that left Shuuya’s lips were gentle.
At his own self who was happy of the words given to him, Basara wondered if he was worthy of such, and his body trembled a little. It was to the point he was unable to find a reply.
At that Basara, Shuuya grasped onto Basara’s shoulder tighter with his kindness, then, he moved his glance away to the girl beside Basara —- and then he spoke,
“So you’re Naruse Mio-san… right?”
At the question Shuuya asked quietly,
Naruse Mio thought, as she bowed down her head lightly, as she responded. …This person is Yuki’s and Kurumi-chan’s dad.
He seemed like a kind man, that was Mio’s first impression of Shuuya. From earlier on, he had given a kind and calming smile towards his daughters, and he interacted with Basara who was banished from the Village gently. He has this air which made it hard to believe that he was one of the Hero Clan, fighting against the demons.
—- However, Shuuya’s position within the village wasn’t by any means low.
In fact, it was the opposite. Not counting the elders who govern the Japanese heroes, Shuuya was supposedly one of the most influential voices within the Village. Mio had received an explanation before coming by from Yuki, about her parents who she was to meet, as well as the elders of the Village and other things such as that. She had heard about Shuuya’s standing during that explanation too, and after that she had this thought that Shuuya must’ve been a strict person. Of course, it wasn’ the opposite, in which he seemed to hold a kind aura meaning that he was lacking in abilities. There are a number of people who have hidden abilities despite how they look at first glance.
Mio took a glance behind her. With that, “…”
Maria and Zest, who had been silent all this time — they had taken a step back as if to not disturb the reunion, but they were vaguely tense. Looking at it from their perspective as demons, it was natural for them to be cautious when meeting a member of the Hero Clan for the first time. However, on the other side, a member of the Hero Clan like Shuuya should have some tension building in front of the daughter of the previous Demon Lord Mio, and demons like Zest and Maria, but yet there was no such mood from Shuuya.
—- It wasn’t to say that Shuuya had no awareness. He noticed the tension from Zest and Maria. Even as he stood like this so naturally, there was no opening to him whatsoever.
In his thirties like Jin, it wasn’t suitable for him to be a figure of authority yet, but even so in the Village right now where Jin had left, Shuuya was a strong candidate for the position of the next elder. Having Shuuya come all the way here to pick them up, was perhaps in a way treating them somewhat like a guest of honor.
Shuuya noticed the grim expression that came with Mio’s silence, and he smiled sadly.
“It’s hard to say don’t worry as you’re going to the Hero Clan’s Village, you may end up with some unpleasant memories of our home… That was a possibility I couldn’t deny, as unfortunate as it may be”
At those words, “…Yes, I understand”
She was determined for that much before coming here. During the incident in the Demon Realm, knowing their own bad standing, Yuki and Kurumi had come along. Of course, that was in large part for Basara’s sake, but in the same time it was for Mio’s sake too. Up to this point, Mio had been helped by Yuki and Kurumi of the Hero Clan multiple times.
This time it’s my turn, Naruse Mio had thought. She wasn’t sure what she could do. Perhaps, it was even better for her to not be around and she may do something bad for this. But, if Mio’s and Basara’s actions may have worsen Yuki and Kurumi’s standing, she couldn’t run from it. If she was to take such a cowardly action, she would be ashamed to be by their side from there on.
She would want to avoid that much. At Mio, who clenched her fist as she vowed that in her heart,
“—-The place you are to visit now, is an area of the Hero Clan” Shuuya spoke once more.
“But, it does not mean that you are without allies. You have my daughters and Basara. My family and I too, plan to support you as much as we can. Of course, this isn’t something I can absolutely guarantee. But, I would be happy if you could believe that you can at least breathe”
Those words contain the weight of truth in them. Hence, “Yes… Please take care of me*”
T/N: “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” *I chose please take care of me because of context*
Mio finally made eye contact with Shuuya as she said that. With that, Shuuya gave a nod to affirm and went towards Maria and Zest who stood behind Basara and Mio,
“It is unfortunate but the two of you can’t come to the village this time… I have previously heard about how you two have taken care of my daughters in all sort of ways, so it pains me”
It was the most concern that Shuuya could express for demons like Maria and Zest due to his position as a member of the Hero Clan.
“…Understood” “Well, it really can’t be helped”
To that Shuuya, Zest and Maria said words of understanding. —- But, it wasn’t simply because Shuuya had told them that.
The two of them accepted their role to be on standby as Mio and the others requested it of them. Like Mio, Maria and Zest do not wish to make things harder for Basara, Yuki and Kurumi. Like Mio had chosen to go, the two of them had chosen to be left behind.
And then, as Shuuya finished greeting the group that gathered there, “—-Sorry, but can we have one more person come along with you?” With a cheerful tone, the voice came from behind them.
“That’s a pretty big car, surely you still have plenty of space”
There, a young man clad in black coat stood. “Takigawa… Why are you here!?”
Basara asked, surprised. Basara and Takigawa have all sort of things done in the past—- they have the kind of relationship where they have done important things together. But, seeing Basara’s surprised reaction,
…Basara didn’t know about this?
If so, then for what reason and goal was Takigawa here for? Mio and the others had their guard up as they’re unable to read the situation,
“Is it that unexpected? I’m put in charge of watching over you guys remember?”
Saying that, Takigawa became the center of attention right there, and he simply said good grief at them,
“Besides, this wasn’t some sort of trip. For Naruse to be called in by the Hero Clan, whether you want to or not that holds a potential for political problems among the demons. There’s no way they could approve of you guys going without them getting involved,”
Have some self-awareness,
“You guys are now in a pretty high political position and situation. Of course, we can allow you guys some level of freedom, but it has to be within scope of the higher ups. If not, it would cause trouble for me on this position,”
Takigawa said with a sigh, and at him,
“I see… So, you’re Takigawa Yahiro-kun, the demon in charge of watching over Naruse Mio- san”
Shuuya said, narrowing his eyes. Information regarding Takigawa, was something already ascertained to the latest with reports through Yuki and Kurumi after the incident with Zolgear — before the sports festival, ahead of the time Takigawa was returning to the Demon Realm. In short, how he was a spy from the Moderate Faction towards the Current Demon Lord Faction, and how he was dispatched by the Current Demon Lord faction to watch over Mio. As such, the details of the condition and position from the Demon Realm was yet to be reported. Even so, the Hero Clan’s precaution was utmost.
“Considering the responsibility, you have, I must say I understand that you can’t stay quiet and just let Naruse Mio come to the village without you”
However, he said, taking a glance at Maria and Zest before returning to Takigawa,
“Those two girls who served as her protectors have to hold themselves back. So, I would be grateful if you would do the same. We simply can’t just have any uninvited guest come to the Village. Especially if that person is a demon”
“Well, I thought you would say as much, considering your position” Takigawa said with a shrug, as he reached inside his coat pocket. “—-“
At once, Yuki and Kurumi had a sharp expression on their faces,
Basara said in a low tone, with the intention of controlling the situation. With that, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything rash”
With a sad smile, Takigawa took out a white document. Then, he showed the back of the envelope. It was sealed with a red seal — Naruse Mio knew the two emblems that were put side by side on it. Because not too long ago, she had seen it time and time again while in the Demon Realm.
“Truth is, this time, other than as someone who watches over them, I also hold the role of an envoy. From the current demon lord faction and the moderate faction —- I came here as a representative for the two sides of the Demon Realm, to deliver this confidential document… As such, can’t you understand me wanting to go with you guys?”
“——I see. If what you say is true, then it’s without a doubt that the letter is of utmost importance”
After listening to Takigawa, Shuuya muttered in understanding. However,
“Unfortunately, this isn’t something I can determine by myself personally… As a messenger who represents the demons, I would think that one could use the same route as the time of the last armistice?”
At how Shuuya was unwilling to budge, Takigawa shrugged,
“It’s not like we didn’t consider that you know? However, unfortunately, this has all sorts of situations. We can’t just use a window like last time. The reason why is that this secret document was addressed to the Japanese Village of the hero clan. If it’s not something you could decide, it’s too rash to turn me down right here. I’m sorry that it’s so much trouble but get me an elder who can decide it. Surely you can just call them to ask?”
The words have logic in them. Watching the banter between Takigawa and Shuuya, Mio tensed and gulped down,
“…I understand, let’s do that”
Perhaps thinking that a demon like Takigawa won’t abide so easily, Shuuya said words of agreement.
And then he took out a phone from his pocket, and began to use the screen to navigate the options,
“I’m sorry, but please wait a bit…”
He said with a serious face, he then walked towards Yuki and Kurumi,
“…You two, what should I do with this?”
“Dad… do you still not remember?”
Kurumi said like she was tired of it, as she was asked on how to use the phone,
“No, I’m just really bad with technology…” “Let me do it”
At Shuuya who spoke while tilting his head, Yuki took the phone and began going through it,
Looking at this sight, Takigawa said quietly,
“Hey Basacchi… Are we really going to go on this mountain road with this old man who can’t even use a phone driving? It seems pretty dangerous”
“…No, that’s, well”
As Basara found it hard to say much, Shuuya received his phone back from Yuki and began talking to someone on it.
Then —- Getting permission for Takigawa to go with them, was yet another twenty minutes.
With the Basara and the others on board, the car runs through a road surrounded by mountains.
The large SUV has a spacious interior, and Kurumi sat next to the driver Shuuya — in the second row, Mio and Yuki sat side by side, with Kurumi in the passenger seat, the three girls chatted among themselves, with Shuuya sometimes joining into their conversation.
The topic of their conversation was answering Mio’s questions regarding the Village. That being said, the content of the conversation was generally things that had been covered before, and it was a means of ice breaking with Shuuya.
And then, behind them were three seats.
“Hmm… So that’s one of the dams. Even though deep in this mountain is the mysterious Hero Village, it’s relatively close to tourist spots”
Takigawa spoke as he looked up information from his phone,
At that, Basara nodded a yes to Takigawa,
“It seems like this area being a tourist spot was nothing new”
To have the elders approve of Takigawa coming along, surely, they had given them a gist of the situation. They were told it was unrelated to Basara’s problem and was related to the Village itself. With that,
“Well, if you think about the duties of the hero clan, while they can’t have regular people know of their identity, they have to be able to grasp the knowledge and circumstances regarding this world. They chose a way to not reject any sort of development while hiding themselves, it seems”
Takigawa guessed the bullseye. The hero clans’ duty to begin with was to protect the human world from the magic of the demon realm. And then throughout human history, technological innovation happened. If they isolated from present society, it would make it close to impossible for them to do their duty. Currently, the Japanese hero clan took the form of the Village, a form present in other places such as Oceania or Africa, on the other hand, other districts of the clan may be located in places that is more intermingled with regular society.
“I don’t know the details but… If I’m not wrong in the US, they have this department for the Hero Clan in a secret information agency directly under the government?”
Takigawa’s casual words were new to Mio who was sitting in front of him. Even as she was engaged in talking to Yuki and the others.
Perhaps hearing the discussion behind her, she turned her back a little towards them.
— They’ve only touched lightly upon the hero clan overseas. Though even on that, the discussion about the Japanese village had been limited to the scope needed so that there wouldn’t be any trouble. As Mio has demon blood in her, and Maria and Zest are demons themselves, if they were given extensive information, they might be perceived as dangerous by the hero clan.
The political fuss that happened in the demon realm over Mio was finally sorted. There was no more risk of Mio being targeted, and as long as they understood there’s no risk to this world, even if they can’t be released from under observation, there was no more risk of something as deeply dangerous as an extermination.
However —- Takigawa wasn’t in the same position. As he was being deployed as a special envoy, Takigawa was a representative of both the moderate and current demon lord factions. For the village to approve of him, surely, he must’ve had to demonstrate himself as suitable for this position. That being said,
“You know quite a lot about the situation here…”
“Well, I have to know this much to do my job”
At Basara saying that dumbfounded, Takigawa shrugged.
Hence Basara sighed —- his eyes then fell to the interior of the car, to his feet. …Most likely.
Even though the elders agreed to have Takigawa go with them, they most likely have ordered Shuuya to ascertain if Takigawa is truly an envoy. In a moment, Basara’s eyes ran to the rear- view mirror and did not see a change in the driving Shuuya’s expressions. While gripping on to the steering wheel, Shuuya occasionally joined in with the girls’ discussion — even so, there’s no doubt he was listening to their conversation in the back too.
How much relevant information one knows is a barometer to determining one’s standing. It’s the same with human society, where management would know information the regular workers don’t, while the top admin knows information the management doesn’t. However, by saying all the information he knows like that, besides ensuring his position with the demon realm, he put a higher risk on Mio as she’s hearing more of it. That was something Basara and the others wished to avoid. However, he doesn’t think that Takigawa would purposely put them in a bad position. Hence Basara spoke with his voice lowered,
“You’re being so aggressive, what are you thinking?”
“I want to ask that too… It’s not like I particularly want to have to watch over you guys, or be sent as an envoy, you get that right?”
Takigawa said with an annoyed tone,
— Presently Yuki and Kurumi, had made notes on Takigawa’s presence to the Village.
That was in part due to various situations and problems regarding the period they knew of Takigawa’s true form, how they had cooperated with Basara and other conditions. However, there were parts where they neglect to tell the Village as part of their duty, as if they’re not careful with the information regarding their relationship, it might cause Yuki’s and Kurumi’s position to worsen. And then between Basara and Takigawa, they have secrets to keep, not just from Shuuya but the girls too. As such they didn’t allude to any great depths, only letting their conversations reach the surface. Even so, with word play, Basara and Takigawa were able to come to a mutual understanding with each other. At Takigawa’s displeased words,
“So that thing about being a special envoy earlier, it wasn’t just a means to go with us?”
“Obviously… It’s not that easy to come and go to the hero village?”
As Basara spoke like he knew of the real intent, Takigawa replied sounding displeased. Considering his personality, the statement was like a sort of self-introduction for Takigawa. Most likely, this was something he meant for Shuuya to hear. And then, the words also contained implications that this particular instance had much to do with the higher ups of the moderate faction as well as the current demon lord faction.
…In that case.
After the war that set itself as a landmark for the future of the demon realm — the day Basara and the others returned to the human world, the current demon lord Leohart arrived at the base of the moderate faction, Wildart. That was to negotiate the terms for post-war peace. It had been three months since — besides how Takigawa was to continue on watch over them and return to the human world, the details on the development of the peace conference wasn’t passed on to them.
While it’s not something admitted publicly, the theory for Ramsus with Wilbert, and how Basara was able to bring the truth out for so many people, the mood for Leohart coming in for the peace conference was more peaceful with that, and this was a clear element for the current Demon Lord faction and Moderate faction to achieve peace. The letter earlier had two seals on the envelope — that of both the current Demon Lord faction and the Moderate faction. Basara would like to believe that was a sign of peace between them. Hence,
The situation at the Village they’re going to, the situation between the current Demon Lord and Moderate faction that they left in the Demon World. And then, thinking of his own position between the two, Basara considered the choices they must take from here. And then, at the same time, he mustn’t forget for the time he – for Toujou Basara to do things by himself.
Yes — all to protect the things he will never give up on.
Basara slumped down into his seat.
…Somehow, he ended up thinking of a lot of things.
Regarding Basara, if it’s about protecting the family he treasures, Mio and the rest, Takigawa Yahiro knew how cold he could be. For that sake, he would do everything no matter what. And then, one of those things was Takigawa himself.
After the first time they fought – the time he realized Takigawa’s true form, they decided to secretly unite. It wasn’t a bad deal for Takigawa, and truth is he was interested in why a former hero clan member like Basara chose to protect the previous Demon Lord’s daughter.
He had a feeling that being with Basara might put them in stalemate situation.
He wasn’t able to predict this situation.
Basara had killed Zolgear, Basara had killed Belphegor, he was able to drive back the demon Chaos, he brought the current Demon Lord and Moderate Faction of the demon realm to an armistice.
Of course, it wasn’t that Basara did it all alone. On Zolgear and Belphegor Takigawa had helped, and they had Leohart’s sister Liala help them as well in dealing with the Cardinals. The current state between Current Demon Lord faction and Moderate factionwas also due to Leohart’s and Ramsus’ charisma, and to begin with the path was carved by Wilbert, one lauded as the strongest Demon Lord.
All of those were separate points. Without a doubt, the one who tied that together, bringing it to form into a solid shape was Basara.
But that Basara sometimes gives off an ominous feeling.
At the time Liala who just finished dealing with the cardinals and Jin came to the same place. Takigawa did not step into the special observation room. Or rather, he couldn’t. It wasn’t that he was scared. However, he had decided that if one went into it carelessly, there was a risk of losing one’s life. Most likely, Basara had felt the same thing.
…This guy here.
However, Basara, went straight in without even dropping his speed.
—- Did the sense of fear from the overwhelming power of the Chaos numb him?
No, that couldn’t have been the case. Chaos at that time surpassed the force exerted by both Liala and Jin. And surely Basara had seen Takigawa stop in his tracks.
But Basara, without minding that stepped forward, stepped above it — the line of certain death.
That’s why Takigawa had decided. He would follow Basara for as far as he could — but if the time comes, he would pull himself back.
…Well, up till now there had been a lot of times he wanted to pull back as is.
That being said, being entrusted with a secret document from both Ramsus and Leohart was also a reason he must grit his teeth and not run. In particular, he didn’t want to play hide and seek with the murderous monster who said, “Don’t shame Leohart, if not oneechan will be mad”, betting his life on the stage of demon and human world both.
Hence Takigawa gave an exasperated sigh, and he put his hands behind his head together.
There’s no use in thinking about everything so pessimistically. He should just do what he has to do. Basara too, in the same way, would do what he personally has to do. And then as silence fell between Basara and Takigawa, and as the conversation between the girls fell to a close, the inside of car then descend into a quiet state – but the car itself kept moving.
—- And before long, they saw a traffic light.
At the right there’s a tunnel, and there right in front of it, two guards stood. The tunnel couldn’t be used by cars without permission to do so all days of the year, and the two of them were there to ensure that this was no ordinary car. Further, as wasn’t in season, they should really walk from here. But, as Shuuya used the car blinker,
The two of them stepped aside so naturally, letting them push through.
“I see… So, while there was a management company here for the regular visitors, as needed the Hero Clan uses shikigamis as gatekeepers.”
In a moment, they could see the guards are shikigamis. At that,
“Indeed…. Well, as you can see, leaving Shikigamis out normally is like saying there’s something here. The guards are usually just regular people.”
Shuuya said with a small smile. Takigawa didn’t just possess sharp eyes, saying “as needed”, he spoke with understanding regarding the concealment of the Village.
“—Then, let us keep going”
Shuuya said, the car continued inside the tunnel — it ran just like that for a while.
Around just the middle of the tunnel, Mio who spoke in the middle raised her voice softly.
Takigawa too, raised his eyebrow with a twitch. Just now —they could feel the car they were in cross a dimensional barrier. And then, as they exited the tunnel,
“I see… So, this is the reason why it’s called a hidden village” “Yeah”
At his muttering, Basara who stood by him answered.
At the end of Takigawa’s sight — right outside the car window, a countryside view spread widely around them. which was a sharp contrast to what was actually supposed to be on the other side of the tunnel. If they had continued on to the other side of the tunnel, it should have taken them to a famous tourist spot, littered with hotels and restaurants. There was nothing of that sort here.
There was no denying that this was the ‘Village’ of the Hero Clan in Japan.
He could tell, even from within the car, that there wasn’t a drop of demonic energy in this sacred area. From what he could tell, the surrounding mountains were creating some sort of dimensional barrier to hide and cleanse the area.
No wonder the Elders of the Village didn’t deny him entry to the village. With the barrier in place, Takigawa couldn’t even use half of his powers here.
He also saw signs of water pipes, power lines and telephone poles, suggesting that the infrastructure was somehow connected to the outside world. Perhaps this very car they were in had some sort of ‘passport’ which allowed it to travel between dimensions.
No, that wasn’t the case. It’s the barrier itself.
“I see… So, the barrier itself determines what goes through or not. So, I guess, packages addressed to this “Village” won’t have any trouble passing the barrier?”
“You are quite the clever one.” Shuuya had to praise Takigawa’s sharpness.
“Most people are unable to see the kinds of things we see. However, if for some reason they found their way here, the barrier induces a form of memory loss that makes the person forget the details and also makes him or her not want to talk about the place.”
“Well, that’s quite the precaution…”
Takigawa snickered and looked out the window, only to stare in shock at the sight before him.
It wasn’t a sight of beauty. No, far from that.
“What the hell is that….”
Basara could only stare at the scene in front of him.
He saw from the windows of his vehicle, a massive crater, – no -, a gaping hole in the side of the mountain. If it was a meteor or something, it should have left a crater in the side of the mountain. Instead, something punctured through the mountain.
But what scared Basara wasn’t the sheer size of the destruction unleashed on the cliffside. What scared him was that this scene was identical to what happened 5 years ago.
Mio heard Basara mutter to himself from her seat in front. But there wasn’t much she could do to comfort him. After all, she was not there 5 years ago, to understand what exactly Basara was going through. Her words of comfort will not do anything to alleviate the nightmare that Basara has been trying to repress in the back of his mind all this time: the memory of wiping out entire families and houses.
Mio glanced towards Yuki and Kurumi, in the hopes that they could comfort Basara, but instead saw them maintain their silence as they stared down at their feet.
“That area where your powers went rampant… it seems like time has simply stopped in that exact area.”
Shuuya spoke with a heavy heart as he continued driving.
“It’s as if that area has been cut off into some separate dimension. Whether it be physical matter or magic, nothing seems to affect that area.”
In other words, Basara’s sins will remain there forever, a gaping scar in the beautiful face of Mother Nature.
“So that’s why…”
Basara understood now. Understood why Yuki was so cold to him the first time they met again at school. Why Takashi and Kurumi were out for his blood, and why the girls were acting quiet. While Basara was trying to put the events of 5 years ago behind him after being ousted from the
village with his father, the people of the village were reminded of the tragedy every single time they looked outside. And this will not change for the foreseeable future.
Basara’s sins and his mistakes were forever.
Heavy silence settled in the car as they passed some houses. Yuki spoke up softly, over the sound of the whirring engine, to break the silence.
Basara looked up to look at Yuki, only to have his breath caught in his throat. For right in front of him, towards the left side of the road, lay a building he was very familiar with. His childhood home. The Toujou household. And on the other side of the fence, the Nonaka household.
Basara desperately tried to hold back the emotions that were bubbling within him. After all, he didn’t come here to reminisce. Of course, he will forever shoulder the sins that he committed that day 5 years ago, but for now, there were other things that he had to do.
Because Basara now has things that he must protect.
“I know it’s been a long trip from Tokyo, and I’d more than want you to take a rest, but with unexpected guests and everything, time is really of the essence. So, I’m sorry but I’ll have to take you to the elders right now.”
Shuuya spoke apologetically, and the usually aloof Takigawa responded in a rather mature manner.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. We’re fine.”
But something seemed a bit off for Basara.
“Um, may I ask a question?”
“You just said ‘unexpected guests’, am I to assume that there are guests other than Takigawa here today?”
Shuuya didn’t respond to Basara’s question, and in fact, you could see the nervous look in his eyes from the rearview mirror.
“Hey, if you need to speak about something I shouldn’t be listening to, do you want me to cover my ears or something?”
Takigawa suggested in a joking manner, but Basara was once again the serious one here.
“Uncle Shuuya, if it’s about Takigawa, don’t worry. He is someone we can definitely trust. And if something was to happen, I’ll personally take responsibility.”
Takigawa gave a slight retort but he knew what Basara meant. If Takigawa was to leak whatever Shuuya had to say, there will be consequences if the information went to the wrong people. Even though Takigawa was one of the few demon friends that he had, he was Basara’s responsibility the moment he decided to tag along to visit the village. So it will be on him to make sure Takigawa didn’t misbehave.
“The Vatican notified us that they are sending a Hearing Officer. The officer will be arriving tomorrow.”
Basara was at a loss for words. For this was the topic he was just talking to Takigawa before in regards to other Hero Clans around the world. The Hero Clan in the United States have found their way in the upper echelons of the intelligence agencies and the military of the US government. The Heroes in Europe, on the other hand, were able to move around their base of operations for centuries, under the guise of ‘religion’. Currently they occupied the Vatican and had an influential grip over the aristocrats and the ruling elites throughout Europe. The European branch of the Hero Clan had the longest history, and you could even say that they acted as the headquarters and governing body of all Hero Clans.
And the Hearing Officer that Shuuya referred to, wasn’t some priest to give a sermon. They were the handpicked elites chosen from the best Heroes in the European branch, to handle special missions like combat against high ranking demons and to dispel any quarrels and infighting in the Hero community. But as elites, they weren’t just sent off to any random mission, but only those of the utmost importance.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but… was it perhaps the Vatican who summoned me this time and not the village?”
What Takigawa said before was starting to make sense. It wasn’t surprising that the village would want to make a move on them before Basara and co become an even bigger threat to the village. But Basara did not, even for a moment, expect that the Vatican will involve themselves. Of course, Basara now had something that he needed to protect, even to the point of taking on the Vatican.
But Yuki and Kurumi cannot just follow Basara’s path. They had to think about the trouble that they will bring to their parents. Even the meeting this time wasn’t just for Basara to introduce himself to the elders, but for him to argue for the Nonaka sisters to continue living with him.
“Oh no, it was very much the elders who summoned you. The Vatican just decided to interfere in the last minute. It took the elders completely by surprise as well. That’s why nerves are high. It’s not always that we have a Hearing Officer pay us a visit after all.”
Basara considered what Shuuya just said and came to the conclusion that things weren’t at their lowest point, but it still wasn’t looking that great. Currently he didn’t know if the Vatican was going to butt heads with Basara and co, or if they were going to quarrel with the Village. Regardless, it probably isn’t something that will sort itself out with just a friendly conversation.
It also now made sense as to why Shuuya was chosen to escort Basara and the others. Usually, as Yuki and Kurumi’s father, and someone who is close to Basara, he would not be a suitable choice to escort them. In fact, it would have probably been better to have somebody else, somebody who won’t disclose any information to them. But the elders had to have their ‘insurance’ in this situation. By having Shuuya speak to Basara about the Vatican, Basara will be entering the talks without being surprised and would be able to act in a clear-headed manner in case something was to happen.
And the confusion that will occur with the sudden interference by the Vatican might play to Basara’s hand when negotiating with the elders. The fact that the village already planned to invite Basara before the Vatican interfered also proved that the village may have some certain issues and conditions that they did not want the Vatican to change or to know about. So Basara was not about to let go of such an opportunity.
“Thanks for everything ojisan.”
Basara gave his thanks and looked ahead at the large manor. The building that will host the swordless duel that is about to take place. The manor of the elders.