Kimetsu No Yaiba Light Novel (Demon Slayer Light Novel) – Chapter 1 – Signpost of the Wind
Afterword Gotouge Koyoharu
What does everyone think after finishing the novel?
I hope everyone liked it.
The author was in charge of the illustrations just as before, but due to a flood of work, said author had a brain fart.
The Rengoku who was drawn looking for his glasses was wearing the Kimetsu Academy outfit.
Fortunately the employees of J-BOOKS quickly picked out the error and corrections were made.
Afterwards, the one who made the mistake somehow got some treats and got some delicious tea leaves. The world is really full of wonder.
Finishing one book requires the help of many people and the author deeply understood this fact for herself.
(T/N: Ok, so the afterword didn’t clearly state gender but you all know that Gotouge is a woman right?)
I really thank everyone.
You must take care of your teeth.
*It’s a weird feeling to be bitten on the head so most likely this kind of expression would be shown.
Afterword Yajima Aya
I was given the honour of penning the second volume of the light novel for “Kimetsu no Yaiba”.
It’s really thanks to everyone.
This writer has put in all the effort from her heart, in order not to destroy her most beloved world view of Kimetsu.
I shall also give my thanks to Gotoge-sensei.
Even amidst the intense busyness of dealing with the weekly serialization, anime, design book and short stories and so on, she still specially took time out to supervise this work.
Such as Uzui would not address Inosuke by name, he would add a -san when calling Himejima as well as things like Zenitsu’s tone of voice.
Every time Sensei gave her precious opinions, I will be immensely grateful to the point that I would be crying a torrential rain of tears next to my computer.
Because I feel so blessed, I tend to not be able to hold back and would be crying hard with my nose running in front of my computer.
I would also like to thank you for drawing such wonderful illustrations.
Every single one of them is amazing! And chaotically cute!
It’s really great.
Editor-sama, I have been in your care this time as well.
Every time I hit a wall, it was you who racked your brains to think with me.
I feel reassured when you are around.
Also the Editorial department from J-BOOKS, Shounen JUMP Weekly editor Azai-sama, the same Proof Readers as before NART Shioya-sama, Satou-sama and everyone who has helped out in one way or another in the production of this book, as well as everyone who bought this book, let me express my gratitude here…….!
“Hey—are you still holding up? I already beheaded the demon so it’s alright now. Ahh, you’re bleeding quite a lot from your left hand. Anyway, use this to press down firmly on your wound.”
Once he finished talking, the youth threw a piece of clean cloth over with his hand that was not holding a katana.
The youth was wearing a black high collared military clothing and seemed to only be one or two years older than himself. There were also two old deep scars under his left eye.
“….The demons die when their heads get cut off?”
“You’re hunting demons when you don’t even know this? It’s a miracle you’re still alive.”
The youth said, looking flabbergasted then he used a piece of Kaishi* to wipe off the demon’s blood that got stuck onto his katana and sheathed it before sitting down with a thump next to Sanemi.
(T/N: *A kind of Japanese paper. It can be used to wrap sweets or as writing material. It has many uses in daily life.)
“The blood isn’t stopping. Guess it can’t be helped. We’ll bandage it tightly first then get it properly treated later.”
The youth pulled out bandages from his clothes. “Hold out your arm” then while deftly securing the cloth that was on the wound—
“It’s you, isn’t it?”
–the youth started asking.
“That guy who has been using brute force to kill demons even when he’s not a demon slayer. Why are you so reckless?”
Sanemi’s eyes met the youth’s.
Those eyes were so straightforward that they were piercing.
Sanemi averted his gaze and mumbled:
“……I want to kill off all those hideous demons.”
“Is that so?”
The youth gently overlooked Sanemi’s deep hatred.
“But if you continue like this, you’re going to die sooner or later, you know?”
He spoke in an innocent tone.
“Using that kind of strategy isn’t going to kill off all the demons.”
Sanemi glared at the youth with angry eyes.
Then, the youth stood up and held out his right hand.”
“I’ll refer you to a “cultivator”. Since you want to kill off all the demons, then get stronger.”
The youth had a refreshing smile that was beyond comparison and Sanemi could not helped but feel stunned.
This was how Shinazugawa Sanemi met the Demon Slayer Kumeno Masachika—
“Sanemi! Did you get injured again?”
Masachika was waiting in front of the house for Sanemi to return from a completed mission, but once he saw the injury on his shoulder, Masachika looked surprised for a moment before his eyes slanted up in anger. Sanemi showed a sour expression and asked:
“What are you doing here?”
“I just completed my mission. Then I heard the Kasugaigarasu say that you’re coming back as well and I thought I could go for a meal with you, and then you go and do reckless things when you have marechi*in your body? Didn’t I tell you before not to get yourself injured?”
(T/N: In case anyone doesn’t remember, marechi is rare blood that is extremely tempting for demons)
“It has nothing to do with you.”
Sanemi flicked his fringe impatiently and clicked his tongue. He was at the end of his tether, and just when he wanted to crawl into bed as soon as he could and sleep, he had to run into this annoying person.
(Every time, it’s almost like he’s secretly ambushing me….What’s up with him?)
Sanemi wanted to ignore Masachika and walk straight towards the entrance of the house, but Masachika grabbed his hand.
“Go to the Butterfly Manor.”
“Go over there and get proper treatment. And while you’re there, let Kochou-san give you a good scolding.”
“! Stop messing around!”
Sanemi glared at Masachika from a close distance. Never mind about the Kakushi and the other members from his batch, even more senior demon slayers shrunk back at how aggressive Sanemi was. Even so, this had absolutely no effect on Masachika.
“I’m really serious about this. It’s not a joke.”
“I already said it has nothing to do with you! Kumeno!”
“How can this have nothing to do with me? The cultivator I introduced to you when you first joined was my master, so that makes me your Aniki*.”
(T/N: As in fellow disciple. Like the relationship between Kaigaku and Zenitsu or Giyuu and Tanjirou. I couldn’t think of an English equivalent)
“Don’t just address me so casually. Sanemi this, Sanemi that, it’s annoying.”
“Then why don’t you just address me by my first name then? That would make it fair right? Masa, Chika—alright, you try.”
“That’s not the problem!!”
Sanemi got agitated and roughly tried to wrench off Masachika’s hand, but Masachika kept his vice like grip and refused to let go.
In the end, the two got into a scuffle but in the midst of it, Sanemi, who was already in an anemic state, lost consciousness and found himself lying on a bed in the Butterfly Manor when he woke up.
“You injured yourself again.”
“Leave me alone.”
In the treatment room, Kochou Kanae who was standing before him slanted her brows downwards with a troubled expression.
“Also, your wounds have not even healed from the last mission and you tore your bandages off. The wound is going to get filled with pus and look, even your face is swollen to a weird shape.”
After Kanae finished speaking, she took out antiseptic for cleaning wounds, then Sanemi suddenly turned his face away.
“The one who injured me isn’t a demon, it’s that bastard Kumeno.”
Kanae listened and then sighed.
“Don’t make Kumeno-kun too worried.”
“Hah? It’s that guy who loves to get worried on his own. What’s up with him?”
Sanemi raised his voice.
Don’t get injured, don’t kill demons recklessly, have you eaten? Are you getting along with the rest? Did you take a proper bath? Don’t just glare at people. That nosey man just kept hovering around him whenever he felt like it and it was exasperating.
“Who cares if he’s the Aniki or not, he’s a pain in the butt.”
Seeing that Sanemi was clicking his tongue roughly, Kanae gently held both of his hands.
“Don’t be so prickly all the time, get along with him, alright?”
Seeing that kind and gentle smile right before him from close up, Sanemi quelled his anger for the moment and did not talk back to the woman in front of him. Just when he turned his head, Kanae nimbly tended to his injuries.
Kanae’s actions were extremely delicate.
He could feel that she was afraid that she was going to hurt him.
(She’s so gentle….)
His mother who had passed away also had warm and gentle hands, just as Sanemi got distracted with his own thoughts—
“Kumeno-kun is very worried about you, Shinazugawa-kun.”
Kanae stitched the wounds with thin needle and disinfected it while speaking lightly at the same time.
“Because you are too kind.”
Sanemi was yanked back to reality in an instant and he snorted at Kanae’s statement.
“In what way am I kind? It’s not like that at all. It just purely that idiot Kumeno being too nice.”
Hearing Sanemi’s cold words, Kanae shrugged lightly.
Though Kanae looked at Sanemi as though she wanted to get some words out, in the end, she kept silent. She placed a gauze on the stitched-up wounds and secured it firmly with bandages.
The tidy treatment room had the stinging smell of antiseptic permeating its air, but hidden within it was the fragrance of wisteria flowers—
When Sanemi left the treatment room, Masachika was in the corridor chatting with another demon slayer.
(This guy….was waiting for me?)
Seeing how much Masachika was stalking him, Sanemi could not help but feel a wave of vertigo. How was he going to let this man realise how irritating he was? Sanemi seriously started feeling troubled.
The one chatting with Masachika was a petite female demon slayer. From that face with good features and the butterfly hair accessory, that was probably Kanae’s younger sister, Kochou Shinobu.
It was considered rare among the Demon Slayer Corps to have one’s younger sister become a Demon Slayer as well.
He heard that they witnessed their parents being slaughtered by demons before their very eyes and through some good fortune, the stone pillar lent a helping hand, and in the end, they joined the Demon Slayer Corps as well. However, Sanemi had no idea what Kanae could possibly be thinking.
No matter what kind of ideas Kanae had, Sanemi could not imagine letting his sibling become a Demon Slayer like him.
Even if his younger brother Genya requested to join the Demon Slayers, Sanemi would absolutely not allow it.
He would think of every single way possible to stop Genya.
Even if he had to beat the other party within an inch of death.
It was enough for just him to step onto this bloody path.
“—Because Stone Pillar-sama’s pan flute playing was too noisy, this old lady who lived nearby could not take it anymore. Then she grabbed her broom and chased him down the streets.”
After hearing what Masachika said, Shinobu let out a laugh. She quickly kept a straight face and cleared her throat.
“….So Himejima-san actually had such an interest.”
“It’s unexpected isn’t it? Right! Despite his appearance, he’s actually a crazy cat person. Once they see Stone Pillar-sama’s face, all at once, the cats nearby would—”
(What are they talking about?)
Even though it was not to the point where he felt that people should still be all prim and proper after a mission, those two were far too relaxed.
Sanemi was irritated.
“—Oh, Sanemi. I see you’re done with your treatment.”
Masachika noticed Sanemi and raised a hand to greet him. Shinobu watched and then said:
“I still have to look for my Nee-san for something. I shall take my leave.”
Shinobu lightly nodded her head and went past Sanemi to go into the treatment room.
Masachika leaned over with a playful expression.
“Everyone’s worried about you so don’t get injured, alright? Strange? Your face is really red, are you okay?”
Sanemi used his shoulder to shove Masachika who had a broad grin on his face and then turned to walk off. “Hey—wait for me~~” Masachika chased after him with not a hint of anger.
Seeing that the other party did not seem to mind, Sanemi got even more irritated.
“I was talking to Shinobu-chan about Stone Pillar-sama just now. The Pillars are really strong after all. Not only are they skilled, they’re dependable too.”
Masachika closely tailed behind Sanemi and while full of emotion, said : “They are so cool.”
A pity that Sanemi only heard the part about the pan flute and loving cats.
(In what way are they cool?)
He thought to himself in disdain.
“I hope I can become a Pillar in future as well. Sanemi, you feel the same too, right?”
Faced with Masachika who was just talking incessantly, Sanemi decided to ignore him.
“How about let’s compete and see who becomes a Pillar first.”
Masachika decided on his own that Sanemi agreed with him.
“Hm—how about this. Whoever becomes a Pillar first will get treated by the other person to a meal. It’s too boring if it’s something like soba so how about beef hot pot? Tofu that has been braised in sauce till it’s soft and tender is extremely delicious with beef.”
Talking on and on, Masachika reveled in his fantasies and let out a sigh.
Sanemi’s patience had worn thin and he scornfully threw out a statement: “I’m not interested.”
Masachika gave a blank look and Sanemi got even more impatient when he saw that.
(Tch…this guy still loves to just mess around.)
Why was this kind of man risking his neck to kill demons?
This man did not even harbor a deep hatred for demons in the first place. When he thought to this point, Sanemi’s level of irritation grew.
“Why? Don’t you want to become a Pillar? If you did, I’m sure you’ll have better luck with girls.”
“Then I have even less interest.”
“You don’t want to have a chance with girls? Is your head screwed on right?”
Sanemi was so annoyed that he stopped in his steps and turned around, everything about this man made him boil.
“What do you want? You’ve been sticking to me since the start.”
With Sanemi’s angry gaze, Masachika stopped in his steps as well. For some reason, he was looking at Sanemi with a disheartened gaze.
“Listen up, Sanemi. You cannot give up hope and beat yourself down. Even if you have no luck with girls now, one day, there will surely be a woman who knows your good points. You mustn’t say words like giving up that easily, alright?”
“Do your best.”
Masachika gleefully patted Sanemi’s shoulder heavily and Sanemi almost died from anger.
Sanemi coldly pushed away Masachika’s hands that have landed on his own shoulders.
“This kind of thing is meaningless, isn’t it?”
“No no, enjoying your life is important.”
Masachika shook his head.
“As a Demon Slayer, death follows us closely like a shadow. However, many of our fellow soldiers have lovers and among them, there are even those who have settled down. Sound Pillar-sama has three beautiful wives. Listen carefully, three, you hear me? That’s too much isn’t it? Three! For me, once is enough. One who truly loves me and I love her ba….”
“—I just want to kill more demons.”
Sanemi coldly responded.
“Living is not for the sake of enjoyment.”
Ever since Sanemi killed his mother who had become a demon, he had already given up living as a person.
The reason he could live till now was solely due to his never-ending hatred of demons—a vengeful heart.
Even so, if he had a dream, then it was just about his sole surviving brother.
He hoped that Genya could get together with a girl he loved and lived a blissful life with many children.
In order to protect this bliss, he was willing to do anything.
He wanted to get rid of all the demons that threatened his younger brother’s happy life.
Who cares if he only had a head left. He would use that head to rip the demon’s throat out.
Other than that, he did not need anything else.
“If you understand, then scram. Leave me alone.”
Masachika lowered his eyes and looked down, staying silent for a while.
He then said:
He sounded rather serious.
Did this guy finally get it? Sanemi snorted in a condescending manner.
However, Masachika grabbed Sanemi’s arm instead.
“What are you….”
“Let’s go eat Ohagi.”
“I’ll treat you so eat as much as you want. After eating a mountain of Ohagi, I’m sure you’ll feel happy right?”
“Are you stupid?! That’s ridiculous!!”
“Right, I’ll treat you to green tea as well.”
“That’s not the problem! Besides, why do I have to eat Ohagi?!”
“Earlier, I happened to see you eat Ohagi. You like them, right? Seeing how you actually made such a rare peaceful expression, I’m sure you love Ohagi.”
“Don’t spy on me! That’s creepy!!”
While getting roughly pulled along by his senior, Sanemi roared angrily at Masachika’s back.
His tone was unexpectedly gentle.
That voice was tender to the point that one might even call it weak; it did not sound like it came from this man’s mouth. Without realizing it, Sanemi gave up retaliating.
Masachika also released his grip on Sanemi and stopped walking.
“The wounds that you sustained are that deep. However—”
His senior continued talking without turning around.
The word “滅” printed on his back trembled slightly.
I do not wish for you to give up on your own life.”
Masachika turned his head and smiled.
There was a smile on his face, but somehow Sanemi felt that the man before him was crying.
“There’s a new order, Sanemi. It’s a cooperative mission too.”
“The two of us? That’s rare.”
“Well, when we go up in ranks, we still have to take care of our juniors so there’s not many chances for us to fight together.”
Sanemi encountered Masachika, who was still smiling in a refreshing manner after the many days they had not seen each other, at the dojo that was borrowed for training demon slayers.
Much time has flown by since the two of them first met, and now both of them were ranked “Kinoe”.
(T/N: If you can’t remember, it’s just one rank below the Pillars)
Sanemi also no longer called this nosey senior of his “Kumeno”. Instead he called him “Masachika”. Even though Sanemi did not do it intentionally, but when Masachika heard him address him directly by name, Masachika was so surprised that he dropped the wooden sword used in training and smiled in delight.
Sitting cross-legged in the center of the dojo and facing each other, it felt like they had returned to those days.
Sweat seeped into the wooden floor causing the place to have a smell that most dojos had, invoking feelings of nostalgia.
“I heard that this mission is quite a troubling one.”
“Hah, so that’s why they appointed the two of us.”
Sanemi said and snorted.
“So? What kind of order is it?”
“In a village that’s pretty far from here—”
They heard that people disappeared from a deserted manor which was located outside the village.
“Is there some kind of common trait among the people who went missing?”
Sanemi asked, supporting his chin with his hand.
“The ones who disappeared were all children.”
Hearing Masachika’s answer, the figures of Sanemi’s young siblings appeared fleetingly in his mind.
Looking up, he could only see Masachika having a worried gaze, as though to ask if he was alright.
Sanemi had only spoken about his mother and siblings to this friend.
Sanemi did not speak more about it and continued to ask.
“Is there any distinction between boys and girls?”
At this point, Masachika’s tone sounded harsh.
“Actually before we got instructions for this, there were already a few of our fellow slayers who’ve got the same mission. Other than three of them, the rest went missing.”
“We can’t confirm if they’re alive or dead?”
“Then? What about those three? Are they dead?”
“No. The three of them returned safely.”
“They said no one was there. Never mind the demons, they could not even find any of the missing children or Demon Slayers in that mansion.”
“What’s going on?”
Listening to this story that sounded like one of being bewitched by a Kitsune, Sanemi scratched his light coloured hair.
“Did those missing slayers have anything that was different from those guys?”
“It’s a pity, but no one is sure at the moment. If we fail, then the next up would be the Pillars.”
“Eh, that’s really a mess.”
Sanemi commented with a stunned face. Just as their namesake, the Pillars supported the entire Demon Slayer Corps, so unless it was a serious matter, they would not be activated that easily.
But if even two people of the “Kinoe” rank could not handle it, then that fate was unavoidable.
With that said, Sanemi had no intention of letting that happen.
This problem did not require the Pillars to trouble themselves.
No matter what kind of demon they encounter, he would exterminate them with his own hands.
“Then let’s go, Masachika.”
Sanemi leisurely got up from the ground.
“It’s a rare chance for us to kill demons together.”
Masachika nodded and stood up as well. Sanemi watched his friend stretch his stiff back and look up at the ceiling of the dojo that he did not have much free time to visit. Masachika lightly closed his eyes and said.
“And to think I intended to spar a bit with you.”
“When this mission is over, let’s go up against each other. It has been a long while.”
“The tally is two hundred and seven fights. I won one hundred and fifty nine times and lost forty two. We also drew six times. It’s obvious that I’m the winner by a long shot.”
“Idiot. It’s the other way isn’t it?”
Even though Masachika cunningly misreported the tally of their fights, Sanemi did not take those words to heart and the two headed for that town where the abandoned house was located at together.
Masachika would not stop complaining on their way there.
“Lately, you aren’t cute at all and without even noticing it, you’re taller than me already.”
“Seems like I’m going to become a pillar first.
“Damn~ I’ll definitely become a pillar before you and then you have to treat me to beef hot pot! And then I’m gonna be super lucky with girls! Just you wait and see!”
“Already, stop dragging your feet, let’s go.”
“If it’s the battle between horned beetles, I’m way ahead of you! With my pride as the senior on the line, I will not lose.”
“You’re so noisy, keep up already, stupid Aniki.”
Though he knew they were in a middle of a mission, he was too delighted that he could be with a friend he had not seen for a while and Sanemi showed a rare gentle smile.
Just like in the reports received by their colleagues earlier, the town where the mansion was located was far from the dojo they started out from and the house itself was located on its outskirts.
When they reached the manor, the sun was about to hide behind the top of the mountains. In the first place, the weather was not good and the dark sky was full of black clouds. It looked like it would rain anytime.
The wind that blew over was so cold it pierced their skin.
“Is it here?”
“What a crazy looking house.”
Masachika said in amazement from the side.
Truly, this manor looked pretty flashy, not to mention, it was ancient. It was surrounded by thick growths of trees, which gave people the impression that it was quiet, but at the same time, it looked really murky.
“It kinda looks scary…”
Sanemi furrowed his brow that was under his long fringe.
Amaryllis flowers bloomed, filling the entire courtyard. Rather than calling them beautiful, they brought chills down their spine instead.
The two of them made a short exchange and entered the mansion together.
A scent that Sanemi never smelt before rushed into his nostrils.
The scent was extremely intense, as though it was the smell of incense but yet sickly sweet to the point it was nauseating, in fact, there was the rotting stench of a decaying carcass mixed within it. In other words, it was an aroma* that could not be described with words.
(T/N: Not saying that it smells nice…but it’s like a perfume)
The thick scent made Sanemi’s head spin.
“What the heck is with this sweet smell…”
Sanemi roughly shook his head, waving away the fragrance that enveloped him.
He scrunched up his nose and turned towards his right.
However, his friend was not there.
Sanemi looked around him, however there was no sign of his friend at the doma* or in the dimly lit long corridor that led to the entrance.
(T/N: Doma: Literally means dirt floor. Refers to the space between indoors and outdoors in aJapanese house. It’s where you take off your shoes.)
Just to make sure, Sanemi even went outside to check. There was no sign of anyone leaving outside the house. Furthermore, there was no way Masachika would run off without informing him first.
Seeing that his friend had suddenly vanished, Sanemi mumbled to himself with a suspicious expression.
“….what is going on?”
“What is going on?”
As though he became smoke.
Sanemi who was walking beside himself had disappeared.
Masachika blinked in surprise and then immediately searched around the manor that was filled with a revoltingly sweet smell.
“Hey—Where did you go? Sanemi—”
The deserted house was lonely and cold and extremely open.
But it was not as though the place was completely devoid of furniture; Some items were scattered along the ground like their owners had forgotten to take them along.
He found a dressing table and a display cabinet made of red sandalwood among those furniture in the rooms of the mansion. Even though they can be considered high class items, they looked dreary, being carelessly abandoned in the corner of the spacious living room.
“Sanemi–? Where are you–?”
Masachika called out his friend’s name and searched the entire mansion. Aside from the kitchen and the storeroom, he even searched the bathrooms and toilets but he could not find Sanemi anywhere.
The missing children and slayers were also not around, let alone demons—
“No one is here……”
“They said no one was there. Never mind the demons, they could not even find any of the missing children or Demon Slayers in that mansion.”
The words that Masachika said before the mission floated back into his head and he frowned.
“Sanemi—Where did you go?! If you’re here, say you’re here, if you’re not here then say so–!!”
“Idiot, what are you saying?” If his friend heard him, he would definitely express his speechlessness in a serious manner. However, Masachika’s shouts, of course, did not get any response.
Masachika stood in the dimly lit corridor blankly and that unbearable, sickly sweet, overripe aroma entered his nasal cavity.
(There has been this scent since earlier, I can’t say whether it smells nice or terrible, not to mention it’s so thick that it’s making me dizzy.)
Speaking of which, where was the smell coming from.
There should not be an incense burner inside a manor.
Masachika used the sleeve of his uniform to cover his nose and thought back about what had happened since they reached the mansion.
(I heard Sanemi say “Let’s go”, then I replied “Yeah”, after that we went through the partition door…then I smelt this strong aroma–)
When he suddenly came back to his senses, Sanemi had vanished.
Even if he thought hard and pushed his brain to its edge, he could not think of any other clues. Furthermore, his memories were actually gradually becoming foggy.
In the end, Masachika even started doubting if he really came here with Sanemi. He slapped both his cheeks.
“Get a grip of yourself, Masachika! Calm down!”
Masachika roused himself up and immediately went to the outside of the house by the entrance.
When the cool air of the outside touched his skin and the breeze blew on for a while, the inside of his brain became particularly awake. Masachika used his eyes that had regained their clarity to observe the mansion.
This mansion did not have a second floor or an outhouse.
Just as he was ready to check if there was a secret room under the boarded floor strip, a voice could be heard from behind him.
“Hey, kid. What are you doing in a place like this?”
Masachika suddenly turned around and only saw that there was an elderly man standing outside the door. Even though his head was full of snow white hair, the elderly man had a strong body and did not need a cane to support himself. He twisted his mouth, made a stiff face and it looked as though he was a stubborn person.
“Don’t just barge into other people’s homes.
Masachika obediently bowed his head and apologised. The old man squinted his eyes, that were not big in the first place, till they were almost like thin lines.
“Are you from the police?”
Seeing Masachika’s completely black uniform, the old man made a misunderstanding.
“But you’re pretty young for that.”
“No, I only look young. I just have a baby-face. See.”
Masachika successfully made use of the old man’s misunderstanding. If he revealed his identity as a Demon Slayer, it would only increase the confusion. After all, the Demon Slayer Corps were a secret organization and not one recognized by the authorities, so most normal people were not aware of its existence.
The old man doubtfully stared at Masachika who was smiling cheerfully and then asked:
“What business does the police have here?”
Masachika randomly made up an excuse.
“Well, there are some things I wanted to check in this residence….”
“What’s there to check? No one lives there anymore.”
“Is that so?”
Hearing the old man’s words, Masachika felt that something was off and immediately ran to the elderly man’s side.
“Do you know who lived here before? If it’s not too much trouble, can you tell me?”
Perhaps there would be clues about the demon.
Masachika rattled his questions off in an agitated manner, then the old man placed a hand behind his own ear and asked: “What?”. Masachika thus drew his face close to the old man’s and asked once more in a loud voice:
“Who lived here before?! Ojii-san!!”
“You’re so noisy! Also I am not at the age where others call me Ojii-san! It’s that you suddenly went off like a loose cannon and I couldn’t catch what you were saying!”
His first impression was not wrong. Conventional methods would not work on this old grandpa. Masachika internally showed a strained smile.
However, under the patient cajoling by Masachika who had a kind nature, the old man finally dispelled his anger and loosened his tongue:
“—When I was still a young lad, there was a beautiful lady called Yae who lived here with a few servants.”
Her parents had died when she was young and perhaps it was due to loneliness, she married at a tender age.
However, at the start, even though her husband who had dashingly good looks seemed to act in a steadfast manner, when their only daughter, Sae, was born, he revealed his true colours.
“That violent man was too much….”
It was said that both mother and daughter were always covered with injuries.
What was worse, the man even sold off the antique hanging scrolls that came with the mansion that Yae inherited under her parents’ names and splurged on gambling and alcohol.
If Yae let out a word of complaint, she would be beaten to unconsciousness. The servants were all terrified of the man’s dominance and all escaped.
Masachika was hopping mad when he heard the story.
“This husband is really scum.”
“If I were there, I would definitely bring justice for the mother and daughter’s sakes.”
“What’s the point of getting angry over something in the past? Be quiet and listen to me.”
Seeing that Masachika got emotional over the injustices faced by the mother and daughter, the old man did not comment much, but he seemed somewhat happy. He then showed a gloomy expression again.
“Relax, kid. The man had already got his retribution,”
On a certain morning after a huge storm, the townsfolk found that the man had drowned in a nearby river. As visibility became poor due to the rain and the ground became muddy and difficult to walk on, he probably lost his footing and fell into the river. No one felt that it was a pity that the man died.
“Everyone heaved a sigh of relief and thought that finally Yae and her daughter could find happiness……”
Unfortunately, just when she was able to escape the clutches of her violet husband, her daughter Sae fell ill.
The townsfolk felt sorry for Yae and tried to find ways to help her. That time, the old man and Yae’s only daughter were close in age, so he went to the manor multiple times with gifts that his mother had prepared.
“She took such careful care of her daughter….”
Yae diligently helped Sae change the cool towel on her forehead, fed her gruel, wiped her body, cleaned her vomit and did not even have the time to rest. It was not known if it was to mask the smell of herbal soup and medicines, or to alleviate the suffering of her bed-ridden daughter but the mansion always had the fragrance of incense.
However, even with Yae’s wholehearted care for her daughter, Sae’s body that looked like it was recovering took a turn for the worse.
“In the end, she could not even open her mouth to speak—she passed away before she was even ten years old.”
Perhaps he recalled the situation at the time, the old man sighed out of grief.
“The night when the deceased’s spirit was being guarded*, Yae sat in front of the vanity in Sae’s room and cried bitterly.”
(T/N: Refers to the Japanese/Chinese/Korean tradition of staying awake during the nights of the funeral to make sure incense doesn’t burn out, nothing happens to the body of the deceased etc etc.)
“A dressing table, it’s something passed down from Yae’s mother. That’s really some good quality stuff. I heard that her mother also got it from her own mother. That’s a demon repelling mirror that was custom made. Only that dressing table…she did not allow that scum of a man to take away from her unless she’s dead. She said that the mirror would definitely protect herself, but—”
The man was suddenly at a loss for words.
Even the demon-repelling mirror that was passed down from generation to generation was unable to save the pitiful mother and daughter.
“Afterwards, what happened to Sae?”
Masachika asked carefully. The old man heard the question and his snow white brows turned into a frown before he muttered in a low voice.
“Well, about that….not long after Sae’s funeral was over, her body got dug out of the courtyard.”
Perhaps she got eaten by wild dogs. It was said that the scene still had the girl’s clothes.
“Yae was so distraught that she ran off somewhere, no one knows. No one knew what happened after that.”
“After that, not one person stayed in that mansion?”
“Yeah, that place has always been empty.”
The old man said as such. Most likely, the old man still had some lingering affection for the girl who died at a tender age or her mother. Even till now, he still remembered this mansion and walked to this place every single day like a grave keeper.
“After all, this mansion is a real flamboyant one, so no one can be sure that some person isn’t going to have some strange intentions for this empty house.”
“True, that wouldn’t be good.”
Masachika nodded seriously and the old man nodded in response as well.
“Just now I saw two shady looking lads arguing while heading in the direction of the manor, so I came over to take a look because I felt uneasy…..”
He glanced at Masachika. Masachika did not realise what the old man was implying and he gave a look of surprise: “There’s actually such people? Where are they?”
“Idiot, I was talking about you two.”
The old man said while looking baffled.
“But now that I take a good look, you look like you wouldn’t even hurt a fly and you look like an airhead too. Speaking of which, where’s that thug with the ferocious eyes? Is he still in the manor?”
Just as he finished his words, the old man shot a suspicious gaze at the mansion. “He means Sanemi!” Masachika shouted within his heart.
(He must be referring to Sanemi.)
They did come here together after all.
But the problem is his friend had disappeared.
Perhaps this was the work of a demon. Making the people they wanted vanish into thin air and then bring them to some unknown place.
But why Sanemi and not him?
(Is there some common trait among the missing children and demon slayers and Sanemi?)
Just as Masachika was deep in thought, the old man finally concluded what he had to say:
“Anyway, this place is that kind of place. Even if you are a policeman, you shouldn’t be randomly trespassing onto the grounds which has special meaning to others. Get the other guy and scram, get it?”
In the end, the man gave a piece of earnest advice and then leisurely left the place.
After watching the old man’s retreating back, Masachika raised his head and gazed at the gloomy mansion that was inside the dense growth of trees. However, after listening to the old man’s story, Masachika felt a huge wave of sadness.
Where did the mother who lost her daughter, Yae disappear to?
She became a demon, maybe?
Kibutsuji Muzan gave a portion of his blood to this woman who sank into despair after the painful loss of her daughter and as she could not forget her dead child after becoming a demon, she kept kidnapping children.
Where were the kidnapped children, the missing Demon Slayers and Sanemi—
Then, an idea flew into Masachika’s head.
Walking along the dimly lit corridor, Sanemi finally reached a hall.
The room in which the smell was especially intense had six beds.
The bizarre sight that unfolded before his eyes caused Sanemi to furrow his brows.
A petite woman whose long black hair was styled in a braided bun was busily weaving between the beds.
On top of the bedding that were blindingly white lay four children and two demon slayers—however two of the children and one of the demon slayers have already passed on and flies crawled on their eyeballs while maggots burrowed across their skin.
The surviving children were so thin their bones could be seen and their cloudy eyes stared blankly at the ceiling,
In the right-most bed was a male Demon Slayer who was wrapped in blood-stained bandages. Perhaps it was because his wounds caused him pain, the young man let out a groan that sounded like a frog being flattened and then started retch and vomit.
“Oh dear, you threw up again. How pitiful.”
After the woman finished speaking, she gently wiped up the vomit and even fed him water from a pot. The water that did not go down his throat dribbled out from the corners of his mouth.
The woman lightly wiped away the seat that formed on the youth’s forehead and even propped him up to a position that made it easier for him to breathe. Afterwards, she meticulously brushed a girl’s dull and frizzy hair.
“Here, I’m going to make you look pretty, alright?”
The woman showed a benevolent smile as she braided the girl’s hair.
She actually acted as though she was their birth mother.
However, this woman was not human.
“Don’t worry, I’ll always protect all of you.”
Even though the woman was stroking the girl’s hair and spoke in such a soft voice it sounded like singing, but her mouth had fangs and her eyes were crimson, just like fresh blood.
“Oh right, a new child has arrived today, do get along.”
She finished speaking and the woman turned her head to look in his direction. She casually tucked the hair that had fallen over the left half of her face behind her ear and revealed her left eye that had the words “Lower One”.
Sanemi’s eyes widened.
The number that was carved on her eyes was proof that they served directly under Kibutsuji Muzan.
“One of the Twelve Moons…?”
Sanemi narrowed his eyes.
This demon was different from the other small fry demons. Among the demons with special skills, this demon before his eyes was one of twelve demons that had the most of Kibutsuji Muzan’s blood. The hate and excitement within him caused his hair to stand on their ends.
Sanemi gripped his Nichirin sword and kicked hard against the tatami mat.
In order to avoid hurting the innocent people, he aimed straight for the woman’s slender neck. Focusing his attack on a single point, the power in his attack did not reduce at all. However, the foul demon lightly waved her slim elbow and deflected Sanemi’s attack.
The vermillion flower that adorned her shiny hair shook gently.
As though a light breeze blew past her.
“Fu fu fu, you shouldn’t be so naughty.“
Seeing that Sanemi had a stunned expression, the Lower One twisted her vibrant lips upwards. With a smile on her face blessed with flower like beauty, it was as though she was chiding a mischievous child.
Sanemi glared fiercely at that face.
“Where did you hide Masachika?”
“Masachika? Ah, never mind that child, I don’t need him. It seems like he’s looking for you but he’ll give up and leave sooner or later. I only want you.”
After the demon said those words with a wide smile, she immediately drew close till she was inches away from Sanemi and looked straight into his eyes.
The woman mumbled and her slender fingers stretched out towards Sanemi’s cheeks.
The instant the demon’s outstretched fingers touched his cheeks, Sanemi leapt back to create distance between themselves and he tightened his grip around his Nichirin sword again.
The woman touched her upper lip with the fingertips that came into contact with air, she narrowed her large eyes which had pupils that were the same size as the sclera.
“You have been abused by your parents before, right? I can tell from looking at your eyes. Was it your father? Mother? Or both of them?”
“! You bastard!!”
Seeing that the other party was humiliating his mother, blood rushed to Sanemi’s head and he swung his sword towards her once more.
“Go to hell!!”
“Oh dearie, you really are disobedient.”
The woman leapt lightly and dodged Sanemi’s sword.
“Children should not be pointing blades at their parents.”
That aroma that was hard to endure became even stronger.
The next second, all the items in the hall started to change.
Sanemi’s eyes widened in shock as the space transformed into one with dark red fleshy walls.
The pure white bedding the children and demon slayers were on also became lumps of flesh resembling soft mushy overripened fruit.
“What in the world? This disgusting place….”
“It’s the inside of my belly.”
The demon revealed the appalling truth with a calm composure and soon showed a gentle smile.
“Like this, you’ve become my child as well.”
“You don’t believe me? Even with this, you still don’t believe me?”
When the demon finished speaking, the three who were already dead sank into the lumps of flesh with a wet sound and the entire flesh wall pulsed intensely.
“Thanks for the meal.” The demon stuck out her bright red tongue and licked her lips.
“….You…where did you hide the bodies?”
“Of course I ate them.”
Sanemi was so angry that he lowered his voice to a growl, however the demon just replied with a smile.
“I let them return to my womb. In that way, we can be together forever.”
The women overlapped her hands on her bosom and spoke affectionately. Her tone was so gentle it made people nauseous.
Where this place was did not matter. As long as he beheaded this demon, Sanemi would be able to quell the flames of anger within him.
“Oi….Stop pretending to be a mother and doing these messed up things.”
“Pretending to be mother? Oh no, I’m not. I’m letting these children with terrible parents find solace in place of my dear daughter who died from sickness. With just a look, I can tell how much hurt and tragedy these children have suffered. So I want to become the mother of these pitiful children.
“Stop spouting nonsense!”
Sanemi spat in disgust.
“In what universe can you be considered a mother? In what way did these people find solace?!”
The other demon slayer seemed to react slightly to the angry yelling. He used all his strength to support the upper half of his body and turned his death like face towards Sanemi.
That face belonged to someone he had seen before.
Sanemi had seen him before during the final selection. He recalled that that Demon Slayer was a stocky man by the name of Uraga.
Perhaps his throat was damaged; Uraga was using a tiny voice to call out Shinazugawa.
An arm that was as thin as a branch weakly stretched out.
When the demon saw him doing that, her face became expressionless.
She quietly walked till she was next to Uraga and raised her right arm, aiming her claws straight for his throat—However Sanemi moved first and saved his batch mate from the bed.
That body was so light it did not feel like that of a full-grown man.
Sanemi laid Uraga down at a location far away from the demon and then Uraga used a strange last ditch of strength to grasp onto Sanemi’s uniform.
“………my lover, is still…..waiting for me to return…..please….I, don’t want to die……I don’t want to die……”
Sanemi remembered that this man said before that his relationship with his parents—especially with his mother was extremely sour so he wanted to quickly make his own family.
He quietly gritted his teeth.
Considering the state that Uraga was in, even if they got treatment immediately, it was likely that there was only a fifty percent chance that he could keep his life.
“Don’t worry, Uraga. Stop talking.”
Finishing his words shortly, Sanemi released his comrade’s hand.
“—-Even you want to abandon your mother.”
The demon said monotonously.
She stared fixedly at Uraga with an icy gaze.
“You’re just like that completely ungrateful child. All that time I spent on you has gone to waste. How detestable. Well then, since you want to betray me then disappear from my sight at once. There’s no point for someone like you to live. I don’t need you. Just die right now.”
“Hah? What are you saying?”
Just as Sanemi glared at the demon, Uraga grabbed his own head.
His entire body started to shiver slightly.
“Ahhhh…..ah….ahh, ah, ah, ah, ah.“
Sanemi noticed that Uraga was acting strange and grabbed his shoulders.
For a split second, Sanemi’s batch mate looked at him with a pleading gaze filled with tears. However, Uraga immediately shook his head lightly as though he had given up and showed an expression that was smiling and crying at the same time.
“No……I’m……unable…..to betray Mother…….after all…….”
Straining to get his voice out and finishing those words, Uraga pulled out a tanto* and slit his throat open in one go.
(T/N: Literally translated to short sword)
For a short moment, flowers of crimson blood bloomed before Sanemi’s eyes.
The fresh blood landed on his face and body.
Uraga collapsed onto the floor that was made up of pieces of flesh and after spasming in a pained manner for a while, he soon became motionless. His tears slid across his cheekbones that have resembled that of a skull.
“………You piece of…what did you do to Uraga?”
Sanemi asked in a voice that was trembling with rage.
“Oh my, what are you angry about? This child wanted to make me out as the villain? I just wanted to live a blissful life with my beloved children here and he trampled on my good intentions, ruining everything for nothing. At the very least, he should apologise for his sins with death.”
The demon reverted to her original gentle expression and smiled broadly.
There was a sound of Sanemi’s rationality snapping within his mind.
Sanemi’s roar echoed throughput the space
Masachika had a feeling that he heard his friend’s voice, but could not see any sign of him.
He was currently in the hall of the mansion, and the vanity the old man was talking about was in front of him.
Masachika also did not understand why he took notice of the mirror. However, if Yae really was a demon, then at most, he could only start figuring out where she went from here.
Masachika squatted in front of the vanity. The mirror was covered with a piece of fabric that was beautifully embroidered.
Other than the fact that it was ancient, this was a normal vanity. However the handle of the drawer was made of a material similar to their Nichirin sword.
Since it was called a demon-repelling mirror, perhaps it really made use of ores mined from Sunlight Mountain. Tools made from ores that received ample amounts of suns have the ability to exorcise demons—the power to repel evil.
Masachika reached out his finger and hooked around the handle that had a faint shine and pulled it outwards.
The drawer was empty.
Just to make sure, Masachika stuck his dominant hand into the drawer and felt around. At that moment, the tips of his fingers suddenly touched some rough object.
“?What is this? On the top of the drawer—it seems to be paper? Were they stuck there with glue……?”
In order to avoid ripping the paper, Masachika lightly peeled the paper from the inside of the drawer. It was a parchment that was folded haphazardly. Masachika opened it without much thought.
However in the next second, Masachika froze and was unable to utter a word.
Words written with blood that have turned black leapt out from the paper.
Mother*fed me poison. (T/N: Mother was written as Hahaue which is a very respectful way of addressing one’s mother)
Mother made me made my throat unable to speak.
Mother made my ears unable to hear.
Mother plucked out all my hair.
Mother ripped off all my nails.
Mother broke my bones.
Mother no longer hugs me.
Mother said I’m a child no one wants.
Mother said I’m important to her.
Mother wants to kill me.
Help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me —————-
The last few words were no longer legible.
Masachika’s hands flew to his mouth and he almost threw the paper away without thinking and he frantically used both his hands to grasp the letter. A piercing rustling noise came from his hands.
(What is the meaning of this……Mother killed me……could it be.”
Masachika found it hard to believe. However according to what the old man said, this was definitely Sae’s room.
“Yae…did that to Sae….”
When he thought to this point, the world suddenly seemed to flip around.
He had heard that the mother was a strong yet pitiful woman. If this was the case, all that was now smeared with mud.
Masachika stared at the vanity at a loss.
This mirror witnessed everything. The kind mother who put her heart and soul into caring for her child, her true colours were….
Then how about the husband’s death? Was it truly an accident?
And the one who dug up Sae’s body was—
The bone-chilling imagery in Masachika’s mind made him sick to his stomach.
The words that cried for help had tears.
Did she write those words by biting her pinky? From the words that were written while struggling in pain, he could feel how much fear and despair this young girl who did not reach her tenth birthday was feeling.
The edges of Masachika’s eyes felt wet.
Who knew how she suffered, how fearful she felt.
Masachika’s tears fell in drops onto the black blood-stained paper.
Then at that moment
The fragrance that enveloped his nasal cavities became faint and his friend’s voice reached his ears once more, this time clearer than before.
“It’s Sanemi!! Where are you?!”
Masachika bolted up and spun around to survey his surroundings. This time, the sheath of his Nichirin sword caught onto the cloth that covered the mirror and the rough cloth slipped onto tatami with a rustle.
Oh no…Just as Masachika was about to pick up the fabric, he happened to look straight at the mirror.
Masachika suddenly stopped in his movement.
Sanemi appeared in the mirror.
He was facing a female demon in the hall—no, that was not right.
For some reason, his friend was holding his sword and facing a completely different direction. The demon that had the appearance of a woman was watching Sanemi from a far with a delighted expression. The colour drained from Masachika’s face.
“Sanemi! Not there! The demon is behind you!!”
Masachika frantically spun around, pressing his hand against the handle of his sword.
Yet, when he turned around, he did not see his friend and the demon in the hall.
“What….but they are definitely here.”
Masachika turned to look at the mirror once more, feeling troubled.
The mirror was in the hall, Sanemi was attacking the air and the demon was still mocking him.
Just then, a peculiar feeling that something was strange rose up within Masachika.
The mirror did not show his—Masachika’s reflection and the display cabinet that was supposed to be at the corner of the hall had vanished.
Was the mirror reflecting the scene from another room?
Masachika got closer to examine the mirror carefully.
Then the image of his friend vanished from the reflection and what took its place was his own frantic expression. Masachika grabbed the sides of the mirror, his face pale.
“! Wait!! Sanemi, where did he go?!”
Masachika shook the mirror hard—but he suddenly stopped the movement of his hands.
He could see the display cabinet in the corner of the mirror.
On top of it was a bizarre incense burner.
However, when he turned around, there was only an empty display cabinet.
Masachika was confused.
He turned back to the mirror again, his mind was in a mess.
Masachika gazed at the mirror hard, almost to the point that his gaze could bore through the mirror. Then he realized that a faint red smoke was being emitted from the incense burner and the room had that sickly sweet fragrance.
Could it be.
Just as Masachika mumbled to himself softly, the red smoke in the mirror started to sway.
He seemed to hear the girl’s wordless plea in his mind.
The already dead girl used all her strength to force that child-like voice out.
Even now, she kept whispering.
“………Damn it……why doesn’t it work?”
“Silly boy, didn’t I say so just now? This is the inside of my belly, no one can hurt me.”
Seeing that his opponent had lightly deflected his attacks countless times, Sanemi could not help but feel panicked. The demon ridiculed him in a tone like she was lecturing a child.
What a pity. Never mind what the demon said in the first half of her statement, she was right about the second half. Sanemi’s slashes could not even damage the fleshy walls around them, much less the woman.
After that, Uraga’s body was sucked into the piece of flesh and Sanemi could not even send the body back to the man’s lover. He deeply blamed himself for this failure.
“You should give up already. You are already my child. Mother will always be by your side, protecting you, so cease your meaningless struggle. Come here and let Mother hug you. Or do you want me to sing a lullaby instead?”
(Damn….she’s just toying with me.)
The proof was that the demon had not attacked him proactively.
The demon was joyfully observing Sanemi waste his energy, slowly chipping away at his strength and getting both his mind and body fatigued.
If he did not think of a way to leave this place, Sanemi had no chance of winning.
But what should he do?
His thoughts went in one full circle back to where it started.
(At the very least, I have to get those brats out….)
Sanemi looked at the two children through his peripheral vision. From the beginning, the boy’s situation did not look right. It was not known if he was running a high fever but his body kept shivering. The girl looked like she was fine for now, but Sanemi still wanted to quickly send her to a safe place for treatment.
To do that, Sanemi had to kill the demon as soon as he could and leave this place.
However if he stayed here, he could not even harm a hair on the demon’s head.
The demon mockingly looked over at Sanemi who was struggling.
However, the smile suddenly disappeared from her face.
He had thought that the demon was talking to him but that pair of eyes did not look in Sanemi’s direction.
The demon was staring into space with a look of disbelief.
“What is up….with that child?”
For the first time, Sanemi saw that the demon had lost her composed expression.
The demon was raving in whispers.
“There’s no way he can see this.”
“Hah? What are you talking about?”
Sanemi finished his words of astonishment—then a sharp sound of ceramic breaking came from somewhere in the hall.
What’s that sound? Just as Sanemi frowned, not understanding what was happening, something changed drastically in his vision.
Without noticing it, the red and black world turned back to the hall from earlier, the demon who was before his eyes vanished and appeared diagonally behind him.
Sanemi turned his head and leapt away from the demon.
(What’s going on?)
When he looked carefully, the scene in the hall was not exactly the same as before. The white bedding was all gone and the children were lying directly on the tatami mats. The paper doors, walls, tatami mats and ceiling all had clear marks left by Sanemi’s slashing.
At this moment, Sanemi finally understood.
Whether it was the white bedding or the creepy world that was enveloped by dark red flesh walls or even the demon herself—
No wonder his attacks did not do anything.
When he came to his senses, that nauseatingly sweet rotting smell had also disappeared.
(Damn….stop messing around.)
Seeing that he had been thrown into a state of confusion by the illusions, Sanemi was seething mad.
Even if he was not in the belly of that demon, Sanemi deeply believed that he was trapped in some alternate space. He was just single mindedly focused on exterminating the demon and leaving the place, so he was not able to see the truth.
In the end, he completely got trapped by the demon’s blood art.
(But why was the spell suddenly lifted?)
Right after that, a bright voice dispelled Sanemi’s confusion.
“Sanemi!! Where are you?!”
Hearing the voice he had not heard for a while—
“! Masachika!! I’m over here!!”
Sanemi replied loudly.
In a few seconds, the frantic sound of running rang out in the corridor and Masachika rushed in through the paper door that had been thrown open.
“Sanemi…did I make it in time?”
His friend started by saying those words. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and he was breathing heavily, his shoulders heaving.
Masachika’s face was all scrunched up.
Seeing that relieved smile, Sanemi immediately understood that the man in front of him used some kind of method to get him out of the trouble he was in.
His anger and anxiety quickly settled down.
Even though they did not see each other, Masachika was still fighting alongside him.
A smile naturally formed on Sanemi’s lips.
Once he said that.
“Of course, I am your Aniki, you know.”
His friend smiled happily.
Comparing the position that was within the mirror, Masachika held the Nichirin blade and swung it towards the display cabinet. Then with the sound of pottery breaking, the sweet rotten smell vanished.
After checking the fragments of the incense burner that was under the wrecked display cabinet, Masachika immediately started shouting in the corridor. At that time, Sanemi also made a noise to reply him.
When Masachika sprinted down the corridor towards the direction of Sanemi’s voice, an inner hall which he had never seen before showed up—at a place that was a dead end just earlier.
Masachika burst into the room through the opened sliding door and over there he discovered the female demon, two children and his friend who looked unhurt.
“Sanemi….did I make it in time?”
There were no new injuries on his friend and he was not bleeding either.
It seems like the other party did not rely on his marechi to do reckless things. Even though the situation was still dangerous, Masachika could not help but smile.
Masachika rushed forward and Sanemi also grinned.
“What happened? How did you dispel the blood demon art?”
“There was a demon-repelling mirror that was passed down for generations in one of the halls.”
The daughter who got murdered by her mother left a letter written in blood in the drawer of the vanity.
Most likely the girl’s grudge reflected the truth—the final act of virtue from the mother who killed her daughter.
After destroying the incense burner, that strong fragrance also disappeared.
After hearing Masachika’s summarized explanation, Sanemi had a moment of realization and he understood.
“Then the mother who killed her daughter was……”
“—Yeah, it’s that demon.”
Masachika glared at the demon once again.
“That’s right, that mirror does have that kind of power.”
The demon’s eyes met Masachika’s then she smiled coldly. Her left eye had numbers. “Lower One”—The number one of the Lower Moons, one of the twelve Moons. The opponent in front of them was closer to Kibutsuji Muzan compared to any other demon they faced before.
What was strange was that Masachika was not frightened, nor was he impulsive. There was just a quiet burning rage that could not be extinguished.
That woman killed Sae.
That woman was a demon.
Ever since she was still a human, this woman was a demon wearing human skin.
“When I was beaten by my husband, that mirror did not help me. That time I thought the demon-repelling mirror was just a piece of trash with just that as its name.
“……Sae saved us.”
Was it a curse?
Or was it the girl not wanting her mother to pile on her sins any further—
Thinking about how the girl died in despair, Masachika clenched his fists without thinking.
The demon whispered:
“That child betrayed me again.”
Hearing the self-pitying tone, Masachika’s rage finally exploded.
“You actually have to nerve to say such things?! The traitor is you!! You were killing your own daughter little by little!! Your daughter managed to slowly recover but you poisoned her, made her mute, made her deaf! You broke her bones!! How could you do such a thing?! Did you not go through the pain of childbirth?!”
Masachika raised his voice in anger.
Yet the demon’s eyes did not carry any emotion, as though she was not interested at all.
Masachika’s anger turned to sorrow.
“……Yae….I won’t forgive you.”
When the female demon heard Masachika utter the name that she had when she was still a human, her entire body trembled. She was unaffected about her daughter’s incident, but this time, she had a clear look of resentment and with displeasure in her tone, she spoke:
“I have abandoned that name ages ago. I am called Ubume. Other than this beautiful demon form of mine, that Lord also bestowed me with this precious name. This was given to me by that Lord who understood me.”
Ubume said, reveling in delight.
“I only wanted to obtain happiness.”
So I endured the violent actions of my husband, firmly believing that our family could become blissfully happy. Yet my husband got charmed by some woman from the gambling den and intended to abandon me and leave the family. So I killed him off and made it look like an accident.
Why am I unable to achieve happiness despite working so hard? But when I was caring for my sickly daughter with a feeling of emptiness, my emotions became so calm that even I was surprised.
I shall take care of my child like this, I only pray that such a life will continue for eternity.
“However, that child actually wanted to escape.”
Ubume suddenly showed a pained expression and let out a sigh.
“She was planning to leave me even if she had to crawl her way out. That child trampled on my kindness and efforts.”
“….So you killed your own child?”
Sanemi who had maintained his composure since earlier spoke in a monotone.
“Ah, that is correct.”
Ubume gently closed her eyes with a smile. The gaze she used to look at Sanemi was vastly different from how she looked at Masachika, as though she had thought of Sanemi as her own beloved child.
“However, I regretted it once I ended her life. Because this way, I am no longer that strong wife who gave her all to her violent husband, or that gentle mother who supported her ailing daughter. Then at that moment, that lord appeared.”
That lord empathised with me and gave me part of his blood.
He said, you definitely could become a strong demon.
For that sake, you must consume plenty of humans.
“Guess what was the first thing I ate when I became a demon? It’s Sae’s corpse.”
Just like Masachika had guessed. Strong disgust as well as the pity he felt for the young girl welled up within in his heart and he clenched his firsts hard.
Ubume made an expression like she was in ecstasy.
“After that I caught so many children to eat. They are all within my belly and have become my children. I’ve created a happy family with my lovely children in this manor.”
When she spoke to this point, the demon paused and looked at Masachika, continuing her words:
“Those children who are not doted on by their fathers or loved by their mothers or even endured lots of abuse really let down their guards easily. Some children even still continue to love me and depend on me or are even grateful to me when they are at death’s door. I’m so delighted, so very happy—So the children I want are not those with straightforward eyes like that one, but someone like you, Sanemi.”
Ubume’s gaze fell upon Sanemi once more and her blood red eyes showed an immensely gentle smile.
“Your body is covered with scars and so is your soul. I already know just from one look that you were abused by your parents. I want to comfort a pitiful child like you and give you all my love.”
In an instant, blood rushed to Masachika’s head. He did not even have any leftover mood to ask the Lower Moon one to shut her mouth and directly put all his strength into his attack.
“Breath of Wind, third form – Spring Tempest*.”
(T/N: Well think fan translators have been using Spring storm wind tree. So that’s if you break the words down one by one. 晴嵐風樹 means mostly spring storm or tempest. The wind tree part at the back comes from the idiom 風樹の嘆. 風樹 meaning a tree that wants to stay where it is but the wind keeps blowing. Then 嘆 means lament. Put together風樹の嘆 means wanting to do something or stay at a place but lamenting that you can’t because you there are external forces or incidents that prevent it. More commonly, it is used in this context “Lamenting that my parents had already died when I decided to do acts of filial piety”. So this breath may carry feelings of regret, maybe. Either way, I’ll just translate it as Spring Tempest. Just when you thought everything could be at a standstill – spring is supposed to be a peaceful season – an external force comes to mess it up.)
Ubume intended to use both her hands to block the slash that Masachika was using, however the power of the move far exceeded the strength of the demon.
Her left arm was removed right at the shoulder and it landed heavily on the tatami flooring.
Her red eyes coldly stared at the disembodied arm and she looked at Masachika again.
Masachika glared back at her crimson eyes furiously and spoke, holding back his volume:
“Sanemi is not pitiful at all….Sanemi’s mother loved him and her other children from the bottom of her heart.”
The reason why he was able to keep his calm was because other than rage, other feelings welled up within his heart.
Masachika simply could not let this slide.
She did not know how his friend managed to survive.
She also did not know what kind of feelings his friend, who was gentler than anyone he knew, was having when he was harming himself.
“Foul demon, you know nothing…don’t taint his memories.”
“——–I’m fine, Masachika.”
Seeing that Masachika was so angry that he was shaking, Sanemi reached out a hand and placed it on the former’s shoulder. Feeling the warmth from his palm, his heightened feelings cooled down quickly.
“Why are you making that kind of face?”
Sanemi asked and then showed a faint wry smile.
“You got taught by your parents too well. My old man was full of crap so I’m already sick of hearing such words. Don’t try to argue with those who can utter false words without batting an eyelid.”
Sanemi’s consoling words were extremely gentle.
“I don’t think that I’m pitiful.”
Masachika quietly nodded his head.
His friend’s gentle voice and expression made his heart clench instead.
Masachika gritted his teeth.
Sanemi raised his Nichirin sword and pointed it at the demon who only had a single arm left.
“Too bad for you, but you can’t control me. You trash demon who thinks you’re some kind of wonderful mother.”
“Looks like I can’t have things going my way. What a pity, I really thought we could become a lovely mother and son pair.”
Stop messing around, Sanemi said scornfully.
“It’s all over. Now I have a way to attack you.”
“Yes, you’re right about that.”
Ubume made a show of picking up her arm from the tatami mat and lightly attached it to her wound. After which, the flesh near the wound swelled up and reattached the detached arm.
What a frightening regeneration speed, it was faster than any demon Masachika had defeated before.
“However, so what? I can regenerate as many times as I want? I am a demon after all. What can you humans do?”
“Then I’ll kill you until you don’t have the time to regenerate.”
A cold smile appeared on Sanemi’s face and he released his breaths.
First form, second form, third form, fourth form, fifth form—
He released his attacks continuously.
Ubume received the attacks in some cases and blocked in the other cases.
Just as Masachika raised his sword, intending to help.
Sanemi turned his eyes, and made some sort of signal at Masachika.
Following his line of sight, Masachika could see the children who were captured by Ubume. They were lying on the tatami mat weakly.
Masachika realized his friend’s intention and quickly grabbed one child under each arm. He swiftly moved to the corner of the hall and let the children lean against the wall.
This way, the two of them will not get caught up in the battle.
If anything happened, Masachika could protect them as well.
The boy was about twelve years old while the girl looked like she was not even ten. Their frail appearance made people’s hearts ache.
“Hold on, I will definitely save the two of you.”
The boy mumbled those words and looked in Masachika’s direction with his sunken eyes.
Masachika was surprised and his tensed up without thinking.
Masachika replied shortly.
Tears flowed out form the corners of the boy’s eyes.
The boy’s face was an ashen colour and his cheeks were so abnormally thin that it made it hard to bear the sight. The girl beside him probably had completely given up and she blankly stared into space, motionless.
Masachika gritted his teeth so hard that he made a grinding noise.
(Damn it, she actually did such things to such small children……)
A mad fury boiled up within Masachika.
After saying those words to the children, Masachika tightened his grip around the handle of his Nichirin sword.
Masachika’s rage could not be quelled.
Sanemi kept using his attacks and at the same time, glanced at his friend who engaged in the fierce battle as well.
The usual Masachika was cheerful to a fault, he also had a simple personality but at the same time he was smart and calm and would not do things on impulse.
This was the first time Sanemi saw his friend make an obviously sorrowful expression.
Perhaps the words and actions of this demon touched Masachika’s nerves.
(You shouldn’t get so angry….that you can dump everything.)
Sanemi was secretly worried about his friend who shown this kind of mental state for the first time but Masachika had not lost his cool and wasted his stamina uselessly. On the contrary, his sword strikes were fiercer and calmer than usual.
Just from Sanemi’s slight movements, Masachika was able to instantly tell what moves he was about to use and he carefully avoided a situation where both of them would strike each other by accident.
Seeing Masachika’s fluid movements—
(He is the Aniki after all.)
Sanemi’s mouth curled up slightly.
“Sanemi! Her neck! Focus on attacking her neck!!”
“Yeah. Just die already!! Trash!”
“Seriously….you’re both so pesky.”
Faced with the highly coordinated fierce attacks from the two, an expression of impatience finally revealed itself on Ubume’s face. The next second, the female demon appeared within reach of Sanemi.
The demon raised her leg and aimed for Sanemi’s chin.
Sanemi leapt backwards to dodge however the wind pressure from the attack brushed passed his Adam’s apple causing him the knit his brows. Right after, another attack went straight through his sternum.
For an instant, Sanemi stopped breathing and he got thrown backwards. He landed on the tatami mat onto his back and he started coughing violently.
Masachika yelled and slashed at Ubume.
“Breath of wind, third form – Spring Tempest.”
Ubume did not avoid the attack; on the contrary, she took the move on purpose and made use of that opportunity to kick towards Masachika’s temple. Even though he avoided it by the skin of this teeth, the skin near his hairline split open and blood flowed out.
Masachika showed signs of concussion and he started to wobble left and right. When the demon raised her hand and intended to stab through Masachika’s defenceless abdomen with it, he managed to dodge her blow in the nick of time. The side of the demon’s hand went past his waist and cut through his skin and flesh.
Masachika could not endure the sharp pain and his face became twisted.
Ubume licked the blood that got on her hand with relish.
“I have eaten plenty of children, and there were children with marechi among them. Even if I don’t rely on my skills, I’m plenty strong enough.”
Masachika fell to his knees on the tatami mat and did not move. He was using his breathing to stop bleeding. Ubume reached her claws out towards Masachika’s throat.
Sanemi yelled out his friend’s name and at the same time raised his blade and slashed at Ubume.
“Breath of wind, fourth—”
The instant he was about to unleash an attack, the wound on his neck suddenly broke and blood spurted out and Sanemi started to cough forcefully again. Most likely, there was an injury within his throat as well and Sanemi coughed out large amounts blood, dying the tatami mat red.
Her slender frame trembled slightly.
“What? This is……”
Ubume whispered to herself.
Her eyes darted around as though she was searching for something and finally it landed on Sanemi who was bleeding continuously from both his neck and the corner of his mouth.
The demon’s eyes widened in shock.
“Mare, chi? You have marechi within you?”
A tinge of red appeared on Ubume’s pale cheeks.
And after that, she had a dazed look as though she had entered a dream.
“……And it’s that, extremely rare……a hundred persons’s worth? No, your blood has higher value that that.”
She said those words in a distracted manner and Ubume walked leisurely towards Sanemi as though she was a different person.
At this moment, she had completely ignored Masachika who had intended to kill.
A doting smile appeared on her cheeks that were flushed.
“Ahh….Sanemi, you belong to me after all. Darling child, I love you the most. Sanemi, I definitely won’t hurt you, so, stay with me forever—”
When she reached that part of her dialogue, the demon’s body started to become strange.
She grabbed her head with both hands, her body shook and she looked like she could barely stand.
(Hah, you’re completely intoxicated by my unique marechi.)
Sanemi wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand and exhaled in relief.
Based on his past experiences, the stronger the demon, the more marechi would have effects on them.
Since the opponent was Lower moon one, the effect was extraordinary.
“Why….ho….how is………the effect of marechi so strong…..”
Ubume grabbed her head and kept panting. I can’t miss this chance. Sanemi endured the pain he was feeling and continued to execute the move he did not manage to earlier.
Countless slashes of wind headed straight for the demon’s body like sandstorms.
Even though she was on the verge of fainting, Ubume managed to barely dodge the attacks.
Just then, Masachika managed to stop the wound on his waist from bleeding and he raised his sword once more and took on a ready stance.
“This is the end. Go to hell and apologise to Sae as well as the children you killed!!”
The image of his friend drawing a perfect arc in the air with his sword appeared in Sanemi’s eyes.
“Breath of wind, third form- Spring tem—”
With this distance and with Masachika’s skill, he definitely can behead the demon.
At the instant Sanemi was sure that victory was within their grasp—”
A young blood-curdling cry rang out.
When he looked carefully, the girl had dashed next to Ubume and spread open her trembling arms to block Masachika. She looked at him with teary eyes.
Masachika immediately turned his blade’s trajectory and missed the girl before his eyes by mere millimeters.
The slash of wind avoided the girl just in time. However, as Masachika’s form crumbled just like that, his breathing messed up.
The demon took that chance to attack and intended to kill Masachika together with the girl. In order to protect the girl’s life, Masachika was stabbed by the demon’s arm through his defenseless abdomen.
Masachika’s body jolted and he vomited large amounts of blood.
“—You should have killed the girl as well.”
“What a fool”
Masachika’s hand released his Nichirin blade and he collapsed onto the floor.
Just as Ubume was coldly staring at Masachika, Sanemi silently raised his sword and cut her neck.
The female demon’s head landed and rolled on the tatami mat with a dull sound.
A beast like roar exploded from deep within Sanemi’s injured throat.
His heart was full of rage that could not be vented as well as a helpless emptiness.
The demon which had left her body still had an affectionate smile on her face and she dissipated just like that.
Right after, the Kakushi that came to rescue the group took the two children away.
Sanemi received treatment on the spot but on the other hand, even though Masachika managed to regain consciousness after much effort, he was already too far gone and could die on the way back……therefore they just let him lie in the hall.
Sanemi sat next to his friend.
One of the Kakushi asked timidly:
“Shinazugawa-sama, you have lost a lot of blood….”
“It’s no big deal, leave me alone.”
“No, this won’t do. Also your ribs are broken and we can’t handle the injury in your throat here……I recommend that you head for the Butterfly Manor immediately to get treatment or in the worst case, both of you would……”
Sanemi glared at the Kakushi harshly and asked him to keep quiet.
“Are you really alright? Can you be sure of it?”
Another Kakushi said. It was a young man with lifeless eyes. Sanemi quietly nodded his head.
“Alright then, let’s pull out.”
His comrade seemed to want to say something else.”
“They are the ones risking their lives to fight demons. At the very least, understand their feelings.”
The Kakushi spoke sternly then urged his comrade to leave the mansion.
In the room which had the smell of incense to cover the stench of blood, only Sanemi and Masachika were left behind.
His friend who had regained a bit of consciousness spoke in a voice that could barely be heard.
His face was as white as a sheet.
“That child….those children.”
Sanemi replied while supporting the upper half of Masachika’s body. Masachika’s body was extremely cold, indicating that the flame of life within him was slowly going out. Sanemi forcefully held down the impulse to scream.
“The Kakushi have brought them back to the Butterfly Manor.”
Masachika smiled as though he was relieved.
“That’s……great…….Sanemi, how ‘bout….you?”
“Of course I’m alright.”
Seeing that Masachika was worried about the children and his junior disciple even at this kind of time, Sanemi could not help but grit his teeth and somewhere deep within his throat felt so hot it was as though it was on fire.
When they got rescued, the boy cried in joy while the girl looked completely lost and did not respond no matter how the Kakushi called her.
Uraga was the same. Just before, he cried, screaming that he did not want to die, his lover was waiting for him to return. The next moment, however, he pulled out his sword and ended his own life, saying that he could not betray his mother.
Just like how his batch mate, Uraga, could not cut ties with Ubume —could not cut ties with his mother, the girl deeply loved her mother and craved her mother’s love, even if that mother was a fake.
Sanemi felt that the girl’s future was nothing but a bleak path.
“That child….will be alright.”
As though he read Sanemi’s thoughts, Masachika whispered:
“Because she….lived in fear for so long……she was not able to escape from the demon’s clutches……I think, it would take a long time……but, she will definitely, recover.”
Hearing that declaration that was expected of this man, Sanemi could not help but feel the edges of his eyes become hot.
“You’re in this state and you still have the energy to worry about others? Stupid Aniki.”
Sanemi held back his tears and said those words with a shaky voice. Masachika closed his eyes tightly as though the light was piercing.
“Even when…I’m not around.”
Masachika seemed to only make noises that sounded like he was exhaling.
“Remember, to eat regular, three meals……sleep properly……get along with everyone……”
“Live….your own life……properly.”
Sanemi answered shortly. If he continued to speak, he would definitely be unable to stop himself from bawling and crying and screaming in a shameful manner, wishing for Masachika not to die.
Masachika gazed at Sanemi’s face and managed to smile.
That was the world’s warmest smile.
When they first met, he found the other party irritating, but now he liked his smile the best. He did not know how many times he got rescued by that smile and continued to live.
Because Masachika was around, he was able turn around before he spiraled down the abyss.
And live like a person.
(Why does such a kind and gentle person….have to die?)
Because he did not want to implicate the girl who tried to protect a demon?
Sanemi wanted to howl at the skies. If there really was a god, please save this person.
This man was kinder than himself.
He was so much stronger than himself.
He would be able to save more people in the future and bring happiness to others.
“I leave…the rest to you……Sanemi….don’t die……”
“….I wish….you happiness—–”
The colour slowly drained from Masachika’s eyes.
Sanemi cradled his friend’s bodies and cried non-stop, holding his voice back.
Demon Slayer Corps member- Kumeno Masachika was buried in the same grave site as his younger brother who got killed by a demon when he was younger.
Sanemi placed flowers and offerings in front of his friend’s grave.
Wind that carried humidity blew at the white flowers till they swayed continuously and smoke from the incense rose up towards the sky in a thin and long rope.
“In the end……I knew nothing about you.”
Masachika had a younger brother.
He saw his younger brother get killed in front of him.
Even though his parents never blamed him for the death of his brother, he blamed himself heavily.
He pushed away his mother who had stopped crying and entered the Demon Slayer corps with the resolution to abandon everything.
Sanemi knew nothing about this. Seeing how Masachika appeared to be cheerful and gentle, Sanemi thought that he was one of those goody-two shoes who had a smooth sailing-sailing life and had not tasted sorrow.
But the reality was that Masachika also harboured a strong sense of hatred for demons and a fury that could not be eliminated.
However, Masachika put up a façade of a firm gentleness and did not let anyone—even Sanemi, find out.
When they fought against Ubume, Masachika appeared to be full of anger. Most likely, he saw his dead brother in the injured children and at that point of time, was unable to control his emotions.
The will that Oyakata-sama passed to Sanemi contained the side that no one knew about Masachika.
“….You treated me as your younger brother.”
No wonder he kept emphasising on his status as the Aniki and put up a show of being the big bro.
But to Sanemi, the both of them were close in age and the other party was more like the younger brother that just made people worry…….
A gentle smile appeared on Sanemi’s lips.
“You’re really a nosey and noisy older brother.”
Sanemi teased and zinnia flowers swaying in front of the grave seemed to smile as well.
“Sanemi, let’s go eat beef hot pot.”
“Sanemi, I bought some Ohagi back, go make tea.”
“Damn! I lost again….you’re pretty full of yourself these days, aren’t you! At least show some respect to your Aniki!”
“Heya—if you keep putting up such a scary expression, you won’t have luck with girls, you know.”
“Sanemi—I caught a rhino beetle. Go cut some watermelon, don’t forget my share.
“Live….your own life…..properly.”
Masachika asked Sanemi not to give up on his own life.
But how about Masachika’s life?
Was he really happy?
For quite a while, Sanemi immersed himself in the memories he shared with his dead friend wordlessly.
“—I say, Masachika.”
Sanemi said softly.
“That idiot from my home just had to have the intention of joining the Demon Slayer Corps.”
Sanemi’s tone carried intonations of anger and frustration and the zianna swung around as though they were worried.
Genya was Sanemi’s first younger brother.
The day he became an older brother, just as Sanemi nervously clutched that small hand, that baby that resembled a small monkey seemed to smile with his eyes closed.
A feeling of warmth rose up in Sanemi’s heart for a moment.
Sanemi decided that he was going to protect this cute younger brother of his no matter what.
Afterwards, his other younger siblings were born and without realizing it, Genya started to support Sanemi from the side and the two of them swore that they will support their mother together and protect their younger siblings.
However, to Sanemi, Genya was still his younger brother.
The day Sanemi killed his mother who had become a demon with his own hands, his only surviving younger brother cried and called him a “murderer”.
His foolish younger brother was full of regret even till this day.
That did not mean much.
No matter what Genya said, those words would not hurt Sanemi.
Sanemi only wished for Genya to live happily. That was his only source of happiness, his wish and purpose of living.
“No matter how much that guy hates me, I will not acknowledge him. I definitely won’t allow him to continue become some Demon Slayer.”
When he spoke to this point, Sanemi paused for a bit. He lowered his head and asked softly.
“Masachika……Am I doing the right thing?”
No one responded.
Only the wind continued to blow.
If the dead were still alive, what would he say.
If it were that man who treated him as a younger brother and hoped for a bright future for him—
(You would definitely call me a “jerk” right?)
If it were you who was kinder and softer than anyone else.
You would definitely smile cheerfully and say:
Spare a thought for your younger brother’s feelings. It’s no big deal, it’ll be fine if we train him together.
“But other than that, I have no other way……”
Masachika was extremely kind, that’s why he died.
Because he was kinder than anyone else, that kindness snatched his life away.
Genya was also very kind, he would stand out to protect those around him—to protect his comrades.
Rather than let that kindness end his younger brother’s life, Sanemi would rather let his younger brother hate himself. It was fine no matter how much his brother abhorred him.
(I’m different from Kochou.)
Sanemi could not accept letting his brother battle alongside him.
He had to protect his younger brother at all costs.
Other than that, Sanemi did not know how else he could protect him.
After squatting quietly for a while, Sanemi finally stood up.
The wind gently tousled Sanemi’s hair and the offering flowers.
After calmly saying his goodbyes, the Wind Pillar who carried the word “殺” on his back turned away from his friend’s grave.
He left slowly.
The flowers that had the flower language of “Missing one’s friend” swayed continuously.
Only the wind continued to blow–