The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village:Volume9 Epilogue
Epilogue: After the Prophecy
The unnatural government bonds issue came to a complete stop and the electronic display once more gave the usual rate of 114 yen per dollar.
That was bad news for the people who had made a quick fortune with careless financial techniques and magic tricks, but overall there was relatively little chaos. It sounded like a joke, but the Hishigami Group had not been broken up even after everything that had happened. Being “too big to fail” was a frightening thing.
And as the yen stabilized, the government could calculate out their budgets like normal, so the nearly shut down agencies came back to life.
The hands of the clock were moving as if nothing had happened.
For the most part anyway.
“Hey, Uchimaku-chan. Did the organization finally throw you out? There’s a notification on the P-phone bulletin board.”
“Ehhh!? This is not the kind of surprise I like in the morning! And they’re moving me at the end of the year instead of waiting until March? Where are they sending me!?”
Hayabusa quickly checked with his police cellphone, but it did not look like he was being transferred to a remote region. He was being sent to a newly created office of Investigation Department 1, so it was within the same building.
The Metropolitan Police Department was divided into divisions, which were divided into departments, which in turn were divided into offices. Investigation Department 1 was often treated as a single entity in dramas, but it was split into nine different offices.
“What is this? …Um, the newly created tenth office will combat the many new forms of crime that crop up on a daily basis with a novel approach to-…”
“You’re in trouble. You’re definitely in trouble, Uchimaku-chan. This sounds complicated, but it isn’t actually saying a damn thing. Who knows what kind of dirty jobs they’ll be having you do.”
He made his way to the usual floor, but everyone was acting more distant than usual.
The department chief’s warm look bothered him too.
He gathered his things from his desk and started toward his new workplace. The new location mentioned in the notification was not just a newly partitioned-off area. It was an entirely different room down the hall. In fact, he was pretty sure it was the large conference room whose air conditioner had been broken the other day.
“Um, why do you feel like such an outsider? And this doorplate…is this a joke? Why does this say 0-X Office!?”
He could already hear some voices from beyond the thin door, so some others had likely been gathered for this. He decided it would be faster to get an explanation than to worry over it all, so he skillfully knocked on the door while still holding the cardboard box of his things.
Then he opened it.
“Sorry I’m late. I’m Uchimaku Hayabusa and I was transferred to this office starting-…”
“Oh, honestly! You really are late, detective!!”
An unpleasant sound came from his feet.
It was the sound of the cardboard box’s contents hitting the floor after he dropped it.
“No!! Nooo!!! That twintailed demon has finally made it to the center of the capital’s police force! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!”
“C’mon, no turning around and running off. You’re a civil servant, aren’t you? Then you’ve gotta obey your orders.”
She grabbed his collar and dragged him back into the isolated room.
“Why!? How!? You haven’t passed the police exam, you aren’t a civil servant, and middle schoolers aren’t allowed to work! How in the world could this have happened!?”
“You hadn’t heard, detective? The cyber-focused parts of the police are using civilians a lot lately. And this newly-created tenth office is specialized in Youkai Packages. It’s for dangerous spirits and other eXceptions to the law, so it’s the 0-X Office. Is it any surprise it’ll be more specialized and unique? Youkai have an affinity with children and young minds are needed to keep up with the cruel new crimes that are evolving on a daily basis. We’ve reached an age where people other than civil servants will be wandering around the Metropolitan Police Department on a regular basis. Scary, isn’t it?”
“Even so, this is way too sudden!” shouted Uchimaku.
No one had unpacked their things, but there were a few people other than Hishigami Enbi in that room. And they were all girls who clearly were not civil servants.
He first looked to a middle school girl with glasses and a braid who was wiping down a table with a rag.
“Wh-what? Why do you look so surprised?”
“I thought you at least were still a sensible person!!”
“Don’t just start crying!! And I clearly am a sensible person!!”
As Tomoe shouted back on reflex, another black-haired girl patted her shoulder to calm her.
“Um…you already seem to be vanishing away, but are you…?”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s me, Tsumada Mio.” The girl laughed and clasped her hands in front of her chest. “But I think there’s someone else you should be focusing on even more. I doubt you could see both PSI_ver_RAIN-san and Anemura-san, the Empress of the Major Arcana, even at a major concert.”
“Ahhhhh!!!!! How could any of this even be possible!?”
They had apparently not been unprincipled enough to completely fill up the old conference room that had held seventy-eight people, but it was sounding like different people could be stopping by to play at different times.
“Wait, wait, wait. Why would they choose these people?”
“I know, right? I thought the police had finally prepared a love nest for the two of us at the taxpayer’s expense, but they just have no tact.”
“That’s not the point!! What is with this extreme moral hazard!? And the thought of being stuck in a closed room alone with you is just scary!!”
“What!? So you’re saying you wanted a garden of young girls around you!? You secret harem lover!!”
“Why do you have to put it like that!?”
Hayabusa looked about to explode, but when Enbi saw the bulging veins in his temples, she decided to show some kindness.
“It’s supposed to be modern girls who have a high affinity with Youkai plus the one adult leader. Detective, you’re an office chief at your age. …Well, that’ll be your title, but who knows how meaningful it really is. Tomoe and I are in charge of deductions, Tsumada Mio will handle tailing people and sneaking into places, and the idols can use their fans and the media to gather information or get an endless supply of helpers. Look closely, and you’ll see this is an impressive group. Maybe this is a reward from that playful Chief Superintendent. Can you believe it? This paradise is running on the taxpayer’s yen.”
“What is going on? When did the Metropolitan Police Department become a home for school clubrooms? And what in the world are we supposed to investigate with a group like this? I can’t let you do anything dangerous and this will just be a space for middle school girls to hang out if everyone but me stays behind.”
“Oh, c’mon, detective. Not all of us are middle school girls. Those, um, what was it? Oh, right. Those Atou and Tsugawa people will apparently be joining us later.”
“Them!? Now I know they just want to make a mockery of the police!!!!”
Uchimaku Hayabusa looked in the direction Enbi indicated.
The smallest girl in the room was sitting atop a desk rather than in a chair. Her white hair was done up like a giant flower and she wore a pure white kimono.
“You’re kidding, right? Are they finally letting elementary school girls join the police if they can show off a useful talent?”
“Don’t be silly. She’s the oldest one here. That’s Hishigami Shikimi, my great great great great great great great great…how many greats is it?”
“Don’t ask me. You just need to know that I’m the founder of the Hishigami line.”
Uchimaku was not even drinking coffee, but he still did a spit take.
“Cough, cough!? Ehhhh!? Hishigamiiiii!!!???”
The giant white flower smoothly answered him and lightly waved a diagonally-cut bamboo pipe she pulled from her kimono.
“By the way, this is my Shikigami. Her name’s Enchanting Full Moon Flower. As you can see, she’s based on Kaguya-hime. Her hobby is eternal youth and her special skill is a long lifespan. As long as it doesn’t conflict with my orders, use her however you like. If you’re trying to win her over with food, I recommend ohagi or rice balls wrapped in bamboo leaves. Nice to meet you.”
“Waaaaaaaaaah!! We’ve moved beyond the fantasy of middle school girls! Now there are legit paranormal phenomena in the middle of Tokyo’s police headquarters!!”
She seemed to find fresh new enjoyment in the detective’s fresh new way of being surprised.
The founder of the Hishigami line had the same look of curiosity and joy as a monster who had found a youth who was honestly surprised by a Hitotsume-Kozou in this day and age. Shikimi gave a cruel and devilish smile.
“I was curious about your conversational ability that’s keeping Enbi’s murderous side in check. My goal is to be useful to someone just once. If it’s to that end, please use me and my Shikigami however you want, detective.”
The sidewalk café did not get many customers in December, but it was not actually all that chilly with the spot heater in the outside space.
Hishigami Mai wore a jacket over her tank top and hot pants as she took a sip and winced at a drink with sugar, cream, milk, cinnamon, and a ton of other things dumped inside.
“Ahh, ahh. The world is as crazy as ever.”
“Now, now. Don’t say that.”
A voice answered her from another table.
She sat back to back with Mishima Jun, a VIP from the NPA.
He wore a custom suit and coat while reading through an English language newspaper.
“This was what I always wanted: an investigative agency that specializes in Youkai-related Packages. No matter how many civilian victims there were, everyone was even more afraid of government authority reaching that underground industry, but I thought this might make a good starting point.”
“Do you really think this will work?”
“I’ve set up some defensive lines just in case. I learned from my previous failure and kept the number of police officers to a minimum while filling the numbers out with harmless…or seemingly harmless outside civilians. The people chosen might be a liiiiittle uncomfortable for Uchimaku-kun, though. And the office only deals in the Packages rather than directly judging the Youkai themselves. But more importantly…”
Mishima paused there and continued after a quiet laugh.
“The winds have changed this time.”
“You mean the movement to apply civil law to the 592 species of Youkai that can communicate with humans and to protect their lives, assets, and dignity?”
“Ha ha. The fact that it’s civil law is important. If we went straight for criminal law like murder, the deadly Youkai that kill as part of their nature wouldn’t be able to keep up. It’s important to keep it at civil law for now. It’s the first step.”
“Well, your goal never was to kill Youkai.”
Mishima flipped a page in his English language newspaper in an intentionally noisy fashion.
“If Youkai fall under the management of the law, then I thought the law would protect them. At the very least, I thought they wouldn’t be hunted down to add them to a collection or make strange drugs out of them.”
“Is that where you found a connection with Majina and Mei? No, I suppose if anyone it would’ve been Ohatsu.”
“But the people who just wanted to do whatever they wanted with the power of Youkai fiercely opposed the idea. Ha ha. At the time, Hyakki Yakou was divided between a moderate faction and an extermination faction, but it was the extermination faction that plotted an assassination. Strange, isn’t it? They were the ones insisting we had to exterminate all the Youkai because we could not allow any more victims, yet they decided to kill someone once they were afraid of winding up on the wrong side of the law.”
A short silence followed.
After a while, Mishima asked a question.
“That’s enough about the past. What is the current Hyakki Yakou going to do?”
“Who knows. At the very least, they haven’t cursed you to death, so I think they’re simply observing the situation. If the existing Youkai can be bound by the laws, they should be fine with that. And since Hyakki Yakou continues to reign even after such a fierce battle, I doubt any of the other organizations are going to oppose them on this.”
“I see,” muttered Mishima. “So what will you do?”
“The environment around Youkai is changing. And in a way that doesn’t require the disaster brought by the Hishigami Women. But…will you be able to give up that violence of yours now that it isn’t needed?”
“Hey, boy.” After listening to all that, Mai gave a truly cruel smile. “I don’t know what kind of delusional fantasies you have in your head, but let me tell you one thing.”
“And what is that?”
“There is no such thing as a world without conflict. At the very least, not as long as at least two humans remain.”
It was a simple answer and that woman did not hesitate to give it.
“Hyakki Yakou will control the underground society? Youkai-related crimes will dwindle away? So what? Sparks of conflict are scattered everywhere. The end of one problem is just the harbinger of a new problem. If Packages are no longer usable, a new type of crime will appear. If Youkai are no longer usable, people will start using demons and spirits instead. Will we be seeing Onmyouji next? Or Shikigami summoning battles? …Let me be clear. The next age is already here. Demand for me will never die.”
Mishima Jun honestly admitted it.
He tossed the English language newspaper to the table as if to ignore everything up to that point.
But when he turned around, there was already no one there.
Hishigami Mai had set off alone to the next age.
In a thatch-roof house of Noukotsu Village, Jinnai Shinobu heard someone crying.
Confused, he made his way to the front door and found a small child crying there. The boy may have been from the same village, but he did not recognize him.
When he sighed and asked what the matter was, he received the following answer:
“Um, um! I was told to come here to tell someone about Nee-chan’s issue! I was told to go to Jinnai Shinobu for any Youkai problems!!”
“Who’s been spreading that kind of troublesome rumor?”
The most likely suspect was the elementary school couple made up of a boy loved by Tsukumogami and a girl who got along really well with animal and bug Youkai, but it was best not to suspect people without proof.
And that was not the core of the issue anyway.
It was starting to rain and the boy looked up at him with tears in his eyes.
“It’s about Nee-chan. My Youkai Nee-chan.”
“What? Hold on…this sudden rain shower. Is this what they call the Fox’s Wedding?”
“She isn’t doing it because she wants to! I know how Tseli Nee-chan secretly cries on her own at night! She doesn’t want to get married!!”
Shinobu stopped the boy.
He did not like the sound of some of the boy’s comments. Cries at night? Doesn’t want to get married? But no. That was not it.
“Um, when you say ‘Tseli’ Nee-chan…”
“Tseli Nee-chan is Tseli Nee-chan. Tselika Nee-chan.”
A true scream echoed through the Jinnai house.
Since they would likely know the most about this, he held a strategy meeting with the micro bikini Succubus and Marguerite the Witch.
“Wait, this doesn’t make any sense!! That archdemon is getting married? She secretly cries on her own at night? Impossible! It’s like something from a school play! I guarantee you she’s tricking that boy so she can devour his soul with a grin of feigned innocence on her face!!”
“She has all the cards that lead someone to betray god: hostility, oppression, scorn, joy, violence, suspicion…and even kindness, justice, love, courage, and passion. She’s an archdemon that’s grown too large to fit in just one deadly sin, scarily enough.”
“Stop!! I won’t let you say bad things about Tseli Nee-chan!!”
Getting someone to defy an archangel or god like that while their soul grew corrupted was a favorite trick of an archdemon, but…
“What are you going to do?” asked the Aburatori who had become a Kaeshigami.
Jinnai Shinobu scratched his head in annoyance.
It was the look of someone who thought they had finished all their summer homework and then found a bunch they had not done on the day before the new term.
“It is true that there was one person we didn’t save. I kept saying I can get along with any Youkai, but like this, I can’t exactly say I’m doing that.”
“Master! She’s a demon, not a Youkai! If you approach Tselika when she’s gesturing you over and spreading her legs in the middle of a gigantic spider web, you’ll definitely die! No, you’ll meet a fate worse than death!! How about you ask Marguerite about that!?”
Shinobu looked over as the witch began trembling from the reminder of her trauma.
“I don’t need to go visit the demon’s castle. Marguerite, you draw a magic circle over there and summon Tselika. You can do that in three minutes, right? Hurry.”
“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!! I never want to see her agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!!”
He was unsure what to do when an adult beauty began crying in earnest, but he had to focus on something else right now.
Jinnai Shinobu spoke to the boy whose name he still did not know.
“Let me tell you one thing first. The Succubus and Marguerite are probably right in their suspicions. Tselika isn’t the type to be sobbing over a marriage. She might just be enjoying herself as she manipulates your sense of justice, but it’s also possible she’ll devour your soul.”
“N-no! She wouldn’t!!”
“Hear me out. That isn’t really what matters.” Jinnai Shinobu grinned and slowly continued. “Hey, boy. Even with that knowledge, what do you want to do right now?”
The boy fell silent for just a moment.
Then he wiped his tears away with the back of his hand and looked up at Jinnai Shinobu.
“I still want to go save Tseli Nee-chan.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better answer.”
The next thing he knew, they were shaking hands.
To Jinnai Shinobu, this was no longer a kid he did not know. He did not look down on him or treat him as an inferior.
A little hero stood before him.
Even now, the era was changing.
The boy who had been able to join forces with any form of the paranormal had missed just one, but it may not have been his job to save her.
This was a new era and Jinnai Shinobu nodded as he saw this boy moving to the forefront of that era.
“Madoka, Nagisa!! Give me some help. We’re about to make the impossible possible.”
“Ehhh!? I’m still worrying over what kind of distance to put between us, Shinobu-kun, but you’re just going to ignore that and use me? How cruel are you!?”
“Eh heh heh. Bonds come in more than one form. I’ll do my best, in more ways than one.”
The Yuki Onna was observing from behind a pillar and she cut in with her irritation at the limit.
“If you’re going to cheat like that from the get-go, why not use someone who can fight more directly like me?”
“Jinnai Shinobu’s Hyakki Yakou is on hold for the time being. And if I start using stuff like that as easily as a rock-paper-scissors hand, the convenience would make me too lazy. So, Aburatori, you’re staying home too. Oh, and…Aoandon! Come here!!”
“Why!? What a pain!! Didn’t you just say you aren’t using deadly Youkai not ten seconds ago!?”
“You’re coming along for some social studies. Didn’t I tell you it’s a parent’s job to show his kid the beautiful side of the world that’ll keep you from thinking you should destroy it?”
The Aoandon pouted her lips, but she did not try to run off.
Preparations were underway, but then the Nekomata made a calm comment.
“Are you going to ignore your wife at this important time and head off to interfere with this marriage? And from what I’ve heard, this is like the cruelest marriage scam imaginable.”
“I’ll head out real quick and be back before you know it. I’ll make it in time somehow.”
“I was listening in, but this is that Tselika, right?”
“Yeah. But this boy says he’s going to save her, so there’s no helping it. Someone’s finally shown up who wants to save that hopeless archdemon. He immediately made the decision I couldn’t. How can I look down on that or take it lightly? How many millions of years do you think it’ll take before a miracle like this happens again? The blatantly malicious marriage stuff doesn’t matter. She tramples on people’s hearts as easily as breathing and takes lives as naturally as keeping her heart beating. This can remove the need to directly face the cruel and evil essence of that archdemon. …I need to take this seriously since I wasn’t able to defeat her back then. Let me make up for that before this important day really gets started.”
The boy let out something like a groan and Jinnai Shinobu pointed at him.
“Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.”
He had no proof of that whatsoever.
“It’s true I wasn’t able to reach your level. I never even thought of saying anything as crazy as wanting to save Tselika. To be honest, boy, you’ve got me beat. But let me say one thing: I can still be of some help. This might be the beginning of your era, but let me at least provide some reinforcement from the side.”
These were the words of a man who had grown after overcoming and accepting many different things.
“After all,” he added with a smile. “I can get along with any Youkai.”
Now for the next item of news.
The Supreme Court’s Third Petty Bench has ruled that not applying a portion of civil law to the 592 species of Youkai that can communicate with humans is in violation of the constitution.
This ruling will bring an end to a series of legal battles.
Justice Haruoka Makoto commented that “their desire to bring humans and Youkai together will now be brought to a national level and it is only natural to grant them this blessing. As a guardian of the law, I hope this ruling will act as a precedent of good that will give everyone a push in the right direction” and he expects this will help resolve similar problems.
The focus of this ruling was on the right to life, property rights, and personality rights. It is thought this will improve the past situation where a Youkai alone could not even sign a cell phone contract.
However, there are fears this will create an obligation to pay for residence taxes and utility costs.
Property rights include the donation and inheritance of property, but this has led to a new movement in relation to marriage.
If a human and Youkai were to have a child together, it would be appropriate for that child to receive the same inheritance rights as a legitimate child. Also, to make equal marriage between human and Youkai a possibility, the government offices around the country are accepting the appropriate paperwork while also registering the Youkai partner in the family register.
This had begun new movements across the nation and the first registration for a human-Youkai marriage was submitted this very afternoon. It was submitted by the same individual who fought for this ruling, a Noukotsu Village resident named-…
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