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“What the hell is going on here-nya!” (Nekomata)
Nekomata, one of the Four Heavenly Kings, hissed and growled like an intimidating cat.
Her pupils like vertical cuts are wide open, and her sharp fangs are in full display. She’s trying to look murderous even while she’s quite exhausted.
…Well, her killing intent is as brittle and dangerous as broken glass, that is why…
There are about twenty to thirty cat beastkin waiting behind her. 8 out of 10 surely they are her subordinates.
They were all bleary-eyed and ready to pounce.
As soon as Nekomata gave the signal, they would rush in like a raging tide.
But that’s why I’m undaunted, and I step out in front of them with a yell.
“Don’t you hear the festival music? Today is ‘Ennichi’.” [T/N: ennichi is a day that is related to a Japanese diety. So there’s usually a festival.]
“…You!? Last time…!” (Nekomata)
The beastkin buzzed as their cat’s eyes widened even more as it caught sight of me.
It seems that they have finally noticed.
The next moment, I feel something cool on my nape.
—It was the sharpened blade of the weapon Nekomata was wielding against my neck.
“…I’m not going to let you get away with fooling around, even if you are a child-nya…!” (Nekomata)
“Fooling around? I’m very serious.”
“What do you mean-nya! Today being a fair day–!” (Nekomata)
“–No, Nekomata-san, today is definitely a fair.” (Sakura)
A voice suddenly interrupted her. Nekomata looked at the owner of the voice that interrupted her and was stunned.
No wonder. Because she, who should have been kidnapped as a hostage, stands there in a kimono.
“Why in such a place!?” (Bakeneko)
“The appearance is …!” (Bakeneko)
“—That’s not the point.” (Sakura)
Sakura cut off the words of the cat beastkin who were rattled and continued in a dignified tone.
“Why are you working on such a festive day? You should take a break, especially since it’s ennichi.” (Sakura)
“…Sakura-sama, no way…” (Bakeneko)
The beastkins were confused.
There was only one person among them, Nekomata, who looked at Sakura and me in turn, and then glared at Sakura.
If you think calmly, you will understand.
First of all, as a premise, this scene faithfully imitated the fairs in Yapani—naturally, we as genuine Grantesians can’t reproduce such a thing.
Then, Sakura appeared in her kimono, and she was free.
If you have all the ingredients up to this point, you will realize why Nekomata would be completely angry.
“Such dishonesty and ingratitude…! Sakura-sama! Why did you betray us by pretending to be taken hostage-nya!?” (Nekomata)
Naginata’s tip was directed at Sakura.
The sharply honed point of the blade trembled slightly.
It seemed that by gripping Naginata so tightly, she was stifling many of her unspoken emotions such as frustration and doubt.
But I know.
The one who is really suffering is Sakura, no one else.
And I know that she’s a strong woman who can overcome such struggles.
“What are you talking about from a while ago, Nekomata-san, when did I betray you?” (Sakura)
“Right now! You set up a stall on the path to the shrine-nya–!” (Nekomata)
“Yes, we’ve set up a stall on the approach, because there’s a fair. It’s Obon, you know.” (Sakura) [T/N: Obon is Japan’s version of Day of the Dead.]
Sakura said, Ura-bon-e, commonly known as Obon.
In layman’s terms, it is a traditional Yapani event to worship the spirits of ancestors and is usually held in early summer.
Just as the cherry trees are growing their lush green leaves.
Sakura points to me and says.
“I’m sorry that I lied to you, and they’re not a party of heroes, they’re not even human, they’re monsters, and they have no intention of harming me.” (Sakura)
“Well…!? Then they…!” (Nekomata)
“Of course it’s the Festival Consultation Firm I hired.” (Sakura)
“”Festival Consultation Firm!?”” (Cat Beastkins)
The group of beastkin, including Nekomata, were astonished that they had never heard of such a profession.
—Needless to say, such an outlandish job does not exist.
It’s all horsesh*t, and Sakura is a better actor than I expected.
It’s a mystery to me how her dignified voice makes me wonder if such a job really exists.
“Last time, A party of brave men and women is just a mistaken guess from Agata-san and Ungata-san… because they are old…” (Sakura)
The Komainu duo is in the midst of disappearing with the fairies in search of “real sushi,” as much as they want.
However, he seems to have somehow blamed him for his heartache.
“Why, why do you have to do such a roundabout thing… If you talk to Senri-sama and Momiji-sama, there won’t be any need for such a fuss…” (Nekomata)
Nekomata made a perfectly valid point.
But Sakura was unfazed.
“The Yapani value courtesy above all else, and I simply followed the Yapani blood that flowed within me as a matter of course, without needing to report it.” (Sakura)
“But at this time, Obon…” (Nekomata)
“–At this time?” (Sakura)
“Nya …” (Nekomata)
She stared at Sakura.
There’s something about her expression at this moment.
It’s a quiet and intimidating, yet breathtakingly beautiful, sharpened Katana.
As expected, Nekomata is unnerved.
“Are you looking down on the spirit of our great ancestors?” (Sakura)
“Nya, Nya, that’s not the case…! It’s just that it doesn’t have to be now…” (Nekomata)
“Isn’t it only during this period that the ancestors’ souls return from Joudo? Can you say the same thing in front of the graves of Torajiro (Nekomata’s father) and Hanako (Nekomata’s mother)?” (Sakura) [T/N: Joudo is the Buddhist version of heaven/paradise. This is according to Google-sensei.]
“That is…!” (Nekomata)
Nekomata suddenly lowered her eyes and stopped talking.
At Yapani, they value gratitude above all else, this is Sakura’s idea, and there is no lie or tricks in that word.
The islanders’ religious beliefs have led them to place great importance on ritualistic behavior, especially rituals based on religious beliefs.
There is no doubt about it, as we have experienced it over the past few days in contact with Sakura.
That’s why this is a strategy to take advantage of their Yapani values, which value courtesy above all else.
After all, when “tradition” and “faith” are used as a shield, they become very vulnerable.
“Nya, Nyaa…! But we’re still working today…!” (Nekomata)
“In Yapani, during the Obon Season, traditionally, at least four long vacations are granted, this is an absolute must.” (Sakura)
“So, so, so, so festive at a time like this-nya…” (Nekomata)
“You say that again, when did you become so irresponsible? The Bon Festival is an authentic ritual to welcome the spirits of the ancestors. At such a time, are you really planning to not offer even a single incense stick before the altar?” (Sakura)
“No, that’s not true-nya…! It’s just that I’ve been a little busy, and I accidentally…” (Nekomata)
“Hmm… Then, at least you’ve finished decorating the Obon selves, right? Did you make ohagi? What about ‘shouryouma’? What about the ‘Mizu no ko’?” (Sakura) [T/N: Obon shelves or “bon kazari” are shelves that are decorated in front of their altar during Obon. Ohagi is something like an Obon version of mochi that is covered in red bean paste or anko. Spirit horses or “shouryouma” are cucumbers and eggplants shaped like horses. Child of water or “Mizu no ko” is a mix of rice, chopped eggplant, and chopped cucumber on top of a lotus leaf. This is from Google-sensei.]
“That… well, you see…” (Nekomata)
The words of Nekomata petered out.
The pupils, which had been fully dilated a while ago, have shrunk completely and are now just swimming around in a confused manner.
She must be very confused right now.
That’s because just a moment ago she was the one questioning her, and now she’s the one being lectured to.
It’s like a parent giving a lesson to a young child, methodically and carefully cornering them so that they can’t argue.
There’s something wrong, something must be wrong, but I can’t refute it – I’m sure that’s what she’s thinking.
The reason it is strange is, of course, because the point of view is misplaced.
Sophism and sophistry, such a loose argument cannot usually pass.
――But her state of mind is not normal.
Nekomata’s processing capacity has been reduced to the point of extreme inebriation due to her extraordinarily long working hours.
In contrast, this is Sakura, who has been sleeping eight hours a day.
This is not even a contest at all.
“But I’m busy with work…” (Nekomata)
But Nekomata couldn’t just back down and make a counterattack.
But that’s a bad move.
Seeing this as an opportunity, Sakura casts a frosty gaze on Nekomata and hits a home run.
“— to use work as an excuse to neglect annual events, disqualifies you as a member of society.” (Sakura)
The scream of a demon’s death was so unfortunate.
Nekomata was serving the company to become a functioning member of society, but it was an overwhelming contradiction that she was then disqualified as a member of society.
Nekomata’s thoughts easily overheat when she is confronted with this contradiction.
Her body tilted unsteadily.
I muttered to myself as I watched her slowly collapse on the cobblestones.
“One of the four heavenly kings, the Immortal Nekomata, capture completely.”
“…I’m sorry Nekomata-san…!” (Sakura)
“Nekomata-sama nyaaaaaah!!?” (Bakeneko)
Sakura apologizes with her hands together, as if her frosty words were a lie.
The bakenekos in the back rush to Nekomata as she collapsed like a puppet without strings.
The festival music, the sound of fireworks, the hustle and bustle at the distance… none of them reached the ears of Nekomata, who was now frothing at the mouth as she lies on the ground.
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