Kimetsu No Yaiba Light Novel (Demon Slayer Light Novel) – Chapter 3 – The Flower and the Beast

Kimetsu No Yaiba Light Novel (Demon Slayer Light Novel) – Chapter 3 – The Flower and the Beast


“I, no, suke…..Ino, suke.”

“Yeah! You got it right!! Good job!”

When Inosuke, with much difficulty, finally made Nezuko remember his name successfully, he let out a loud cheer and did a jumping somersault.

Yesterday morning, when he was headed to the Butterfly Manor to get his injuries treated, Inosuke caught wind that Nezuko could speak and he immediately taught her how to read his name with great zeal and enthusiasm.

Even though Nezuko kept getting the word “Boss” as “Bozz”, at least she got the reading of the few words “Inosuke” correct.

For someone as impatient as Inosuke, he actually displayed a surprising amount of patience. It was no wonder that he was over moon and he was so happy that he felt his entire body become fluffy.

After a few somersaults, Inosuke treated Nezuko as a child who just learnt to speak and asked her to say his name.

“Inosuke?”

“Ohhh!!”

“Inosuke!”

“That’s right! Say that a few more times! That’s your boss’s name!!”

Inosuke’s delighted voice rang out through the courtyard of the Butterfly Manor.

“You said it well. Here, take these pretty acorns, they’re for you.”

Nezuko received the acorns with an expression of delight and held them up against the sun. There were still fangs poking out from the corner of her mouth and her eyes were red.

Even though his younger sister was still a demon, Tanjirou was elated that she could finally stand under the sun.

Thinking about Tanjirou’s smile and seeing Nezuko bathed under the sunlight, a strange sense of warmth rose up within Inosuke’s heart. When he was with Tanjirou and the rest, quite often, Inosuke will feel this warm fluffy feeling. The usual him would always stubbornly cast aside this feeling that would dampen his fighting spirit but today, it seemed like he could accept it.

(Welp, the joys of the minions are also the joys of the boss after all.)

Inosuke let out a snort in satisfaction and decided to continue getting more minions in this way.

“Kyaaaaa!!”

The cries of a girl who was hanging the laundry came from the corner of the courtyard, accompanied by the loud sound of something falling onto the ground.

The sound came from one of the three girls who took care of the Butterfly Manor – Terauchi Kiyo.

“What is it?! Are there enemies?”

Inosuke sprinted over while grabbing both his swords.

Neuzuko also followed behind Inosuke.

The loud crash from earlier appeared to be the sound of the clothes pole falling onto the ground and the washed sheets and pajamas were scattered on the ground, stained with mud. Kiyo knelt in front of the clothes and was sobbing with both hands covering her face. Kanzaki Aoi and Tsuyuri Kanao were frantically trying to console her.

Inosuke was so furious that he was getting prickly.

“Who did this?! A demon?!”

“It’s a crow.”

Aoi replied as such in response to Inosuke’s question that was filled with the urge to kill.

Inosuke frowned under his boar head.

“The Kasugai garasu?”

“How is that possible, the Kasugai garasu won’t do such a thing. It’s just a normal crow.”

“Did they bite your face?!”

“Stop scaring people!!”

Aoi glared at Inosuke who was being blunt.

“Didn’t it rain until yesterday morning? Because there were a lot of clothes that did not get washed—

Today, Aoi and Kiyo started washing large amounts of bedding and pajamas since the early morning.

When they managed to finish the washing after much trouble and finished hanging them all up, a crow suddenly flew over and plucked away Kiyo’s hair ornament.

At that moment, Kiyo lost her balance and knocked the clothes pole over.

“Hair almond? What’s that, can it be eaten?”

“Not almond, hair ornament. Here, it’s this.”

Aoi pointed to the butterfly that was pinned onto her own hair.

“Hair ornament?”

Now that she mentioned it, the small butterfly hair ornament that was on Kiyo’s head seemed to be gone. However one must look carefully to see the difference.

What, so that’s what happened. Inosuke felt secretly disappointed.

“Did she get hurt?”

“She’s fine……it’s just that she got a bit of a scrape on her knee when she fell over. Right, Kiyo?”

The young girl was still sobbing continuously. Nevertheless, she nodded her head lightly in reply to Aoi’s question.

Kanao clumsily stroked Kiyo’s back.

Nezuko imitated Kanao and stroked Kiyo’s head in pity.

“Al, right, alright.”

Hearing Nezuko’s clumsy way of consoling her, Kiyo cried while nodding.

Inosuke was starting to feel impatient.

(Why was this lass crying in the first place?)

It was not as though her food got stolen or she got seriously injured, was there a need to cry?

“Don’t cry over just one hair ornament. It’s just a thing.”

“……!”

After Inosuke finished his words impatiently, Kiyo’s shoulders jolted.

Aoi glared at Inosuke angrily—however….

“……You’re wrong!!”

The first one to open her mouth was not Aoi, but Kanao.

Usually this girl would always smile quietly and spoke very little, however she glared over, her pale cheeks flushed.

“To Kiyo, that isn’t an ordinary thing! That hair clip is full of Nee-san—is full of precious memories together with Kanae nee-san….it’s proof that we’re family.”

Those words were spoken with a trembling voice, then Kanao turned and ran off.

Inosuke watched her back retreat, stupefied.

“……Kana,o”

Kiyo cried while softly calling Kanao’s name.”

“It’s alright.” Aoi consoled Kiyo while supporting the girl’s petite body. At the same time she looked straight at Inosuke.

Do you want to fight? Inosuke quickly made a defensive pose.

However, Aoi only showed a lonely expression of blame and did not utter a word.

*

“—and that’s what happened.”

Inosuke went to look for Tanjirou who was recuperating after getting injured at the swordsman village and he sat cross legged on Tanjirou’s bed as he complained about what happened earlier.

The scene then was like that of a child complaining to his mother about some detestable thing that happened then cooling off after finishing his story. A youth with a mohawk on the neighbouring bed watched the scene while flabbergasted.

“I’m gonna sleep, tell him to be quiet, Tanjirou.”

The youth said then buried his head under his covers and fell asleep.

Inosuke flared up and looked as though he was prepared to fight.

“What! This guy with a weird head!! If you don’t like it then we can talk with our fists!”

Tanjirou consoled Inosuke like he always did.

“Then what happened after that? Inosuke.”

He continued the topic at hand.

Inosuke clicked his tongue and sat back down on the bedding, cross legged.

“That beansprout who usually nags and nags didn’t say a thing. On the other hand, that silent one suddenly got angry.”

Aoi was serious in her work and would nag at Inosuke at every turn, so Inosuke got trained by this to have more patience. Even if she got angry, at most Inosuke would just think “here we go again”.

However Inosuke never imagined he would get scolded by Kanao who rarely opened her mouth and it was even for such a trivial matter. The more Inosuke thought, the more unreasonable he thought it was and he was so angry even his breathing became faster.

“She said something like it wasn’t an ordinary thing and it was full of their memories, then she ran off after saying all that.”

“….Is that so? Kanao actually….”

“A thing is a thing isn’t it? She didn’t get seriously injured so why did that shortie cry so sadly? I don’t understand at all.”

Tanjirou did not interrupt at all and just quietly listened to Inosuke’s complaints.

“It’s Inosuke who is in the wrong, isn’t it?”

“How could you say such a thing?”

Even though he did not reason with Inosuke like that, Tanjirou also did not agree with what Inosuke said.

He only showed a somewhat sorrowful yet gentle gaze and quietly looked at Inosuke.

“Wha, what is it….Souichirou, say something will you.”

Inosuke felt confused by that look.

When Aoi stared at Inosuke without uttering a word, he also had some feeling of unease. When Inosuke was fidgeting restlessly onto the bedding—

“—Well, Inosuke.”

Tanjirou addressed Inosuke’s name.

His tone was extremely calm.

“If that boar head got stolen by someone, what would you do, Inosuke?”

“Of course I would snatch it back.”

“If it’s that loin cloth of yours?”

“I will thrash that thief!!”

After hearing Tanjirou’s hypotheses, Inosuke suddenly got agitated and he raised his clenched fists to look threatening.

“That’s right then.”

Tanjirou showed a gentle smile.

“This is just my opinion so I could be wrong.”

After making a disclaimer, he continued to talk:

“That boar head came from the boar that raised Inosuke while that loin cloth that had your name “Hashibira Inosuke” were marks left by Inosuke’s parents. Because they are extremely important things, so you had that kind of reaction, right?”

Tanjirou said as such.

When it came to the guess about the loin cloth, Inosuke snorted in disdain.

“I don’t have parents.”

“Inosuke….”

“The one who raised me was a boar.”

Inosuke said coldly. But on the other hand, he thought: Then why do I think of this loin cloth as something important?

(If it was just an ordinary thing, then it’s fine even if it’s gone right?)

Tanjirou quietly watched Inosuke who was having an internal debate. Seeing the other party’s gentle expression, Inosuke suddenly remembered something.

When Inosuke was small, he got curious about what was written on the loin cloth so he asked “Baked Mochi Gramps” to read it for him.

Only then did Inosuke know he was called “Hashibira Inosuke”.

“That should be your name….that was the name given to you by your parents, you should treasure it!”

He remembered that the old man said as such.

(That’s right, it’s because my name is on it so it’s important. I almost got tricked by that bastard Soujirou.)

The important thing was not the loin cloth itself but the name.

“I don’t know how to write so I’ll be in trouble if I can’t even recognise my own name.”

With Inosuke’s reply, Tanjirou also did not pursue the matter further.

Alright then, let’s just put aside the matter about your loin cloth.”

Tanjirou pointed at his head and said.

“But to you, Inosuke, that boar head is an important thing left to you right?”
“Yeah.”

“The hair ornament is to Kiyo just like what the boar head is to you, Inosuke.”

“Are you saying it’s something left to her by the person who raised her?”

Inosuke tilted his head, puzzled.

Now that they reached this part of the conversation, Kanao seemed to say something about important memories with someone else, what was that name again?

“Kanaie….? Kanaiye….Kanaye…….No, it’s Kanae!“

Inosuke hit his fist against his palm and exclaimed.

“Who is Kanae?”

Inosuke tilted his head again, not understanding while Tanjirou relaxed his brows with a gentle look.

“That should be Shinobu-san’s older sister. I heard of that name from Shinobu-san and from Kiyo and the others before.”

“Shinobu’s…….?”

When he got inured in an earlier mission, Inosuke asked Shinobu to treat his wounds. The image of Shinobu then appeared in his mind.

“I stitched up the wounds, don’t touch it. Don’t pull the stitches off on your own.”

Shinobu’s pinky was wrapped around Inosuke’s.

Pinky promise, don’t break it.”

But it was that kind of action that made Inosuke become unable to remove the stitches no matter what.

“Kanae-san is not only Shinobu-san’s older sister, she is also Kanao’s, Aoi’s, Kiyo’s, Sumi’s and Naho’s—everyone’s older sister. Even though they are not related by blood.”

“What happened to that Kanae then?”

“She already passed away. I heard she used to be one of the Demon Slayer Corp’s Pillars.”

“…..I see.”

Inosuke answered shortly.

Every living being will die.

And they have to return to the earth after they die.

All along, Inosuke always thought that way. But for some reason, the image of Shinobu’s gentle smile while making a pinky promise with him appeared in his head.

“Everyone who lives here has a butterfly hair ornament right? Kanae-san must have had one too.”

To the girls in the butterfly manor, that hair ornament should be a precious item that connected them to that deceased person who was important to them. After silently listening to Tanjirou finish talking, Inosuke mumbled:

“So that’s why she was that angry?”

“…..Kanao can also say such words huh, that’s great.”

Tanjirou closed his eyes, smiling.

“So it’s not an ordinary thing after all.”

Inosuke said to himself.

“—Yeah.” Tanjirou nodded his head in delight and relief.

Inosuke lowered his head and stayed silent for a while. Then he suddenly leapt off Tanjirou’s bedding. Just as he was about to leave the ward without saying anything—

“I think Kanao must have also went to find Kiyo’s hair ornament.”

Tanjirou said as such.

Even though he did not ask anything, Tanjirou said “also” as though it was obvious.

As though he already knew what Inosuke was planning to do……

“I’ll search as well.”

After saying this, Tanjirou intended to get up from his bed.

“I’m just hungry so I wanted to find something to munch. I’m not looking for a hair ornament or whatever.”

Inosuke purposely said some irritating words and then suddenly stuck his index finger out and pointed at Tanjirou.

“Also, don’t move. Don’t you dare follow me! Or you’re gonna collapse again. Got it?”

After saying those stern words, Inosuke left the ward.

–After that, the man who was supposed to be asleep suddenly shot up and spoke with a befuddled expression:

“That guy isn’t honest at all.”

Tanjirou laughed and said:

“Yeah, he’s just like you, Genya.”

Genya got angry and yelled back:

“Who’s like that damned boar! I’ll kill you!”

However Inosuke was already in the corridor and of course, he never knew about the conversation in the ward.

*

“Hyahhhhh!”

Inosuke made the unnecessary action of leaping from the boarded floor strip and both his feet landed heavily on the courtyard and made a fairly loud noise. Aoi got startled and stopped in her steps. She turned her head nervously while holding a basket. The basket seemed to contain the clothes that were washed again.

“Oi.”

Once Inosuke spoke, Kiyo who was next to Aoi showed a look of fear and cowered before ducking sneakily behind Aoi.

Seeing the young girl’s expression, Aoi also showed a nervous expression.

“What is it?”

The girl with a tough personality was looking at Inosuke and spoke with a somewhat harsh tone.

Inosuke brushed aside how she spoke and went straight for the two of them. Aoi raised the clothes basket and placed it between herself and Inosuke while Kiyo grabbed the corner of Aoi’s clothes from behind.

“Do you remember where it went?”

“What?”

“I was talking about the crow that stole that midget’s hair ornament. Where did it go?”

“Ah……”
After Inosuke asked his question impatiently, Aoi slowly put down the clothes basket, stunned.

“That way—it flew towards that mountain.”

“Over there?”

After confirming the direction that Aoi pointed out, Inosuke was planning to move immediately but suddenly changed his mind.

He took out an acorn from the trouser pockets of his uniform and held it in front of Kiyo. The girl seemed timid for that instant.

“Take it.”

Inosuke said roughly.

“Eh?”

“This is the largest acorn and it’s pretty too. It’s as shiny as a gem. Here, take it.”

“O, ok.”

Kiyo timidly reached out both her hands. Inosuke placed the shiny acorn on her small palm. “……it’s pretty.” Kiyo whispered. Her eyes were red and swollen and it made people’s heart wrench. The remaining butterfly ornament fluttered in the wind.

“I’m sorry, for just now.”

With that said.

“Eh….ah—”

Inosuke left Kiyo who was at a loss, and sprinted in the direction where the crow flew towards.

Aoi suddenly shouted from behind him:

“Inosuke-san!”

Inosuke stopped in his steps.

And turned around.

Only to see Aoi looking at him with a stern look.

“The incident happened too quickly so I cannot be sure. However that crow should have some white feathers on its tail.”

“I get it. Thanks.”

After hearing Inosuke’s reply, Aoi’s expression quickly softened.

“Be careful.”

“Right!”

Under the steadily setting sun, Inosuke ran without stopping towards that mountain that was starting to get dyed with the faint colour of twilight—

*

–What now? I can’t find it anywhere.

Kanao uneasily and hesitatingly went circles around the mountain, looking for the crow that took away Kiyo’s hair ornament.

When the incident happened, Kanao saw a crow that had a partially white tail. But other than that, it was just a normal crow. Kanao followed its direction and ran around as hard as she could. Finally she noticed that the crow in question had descended halfway up the mountain but she could not be sure.

She tried searching the nests in the trees, as well as in the bushes. But there was no sign of that white tailed crow or the hair ornament.

When the sun started to set, the mountains grew more and more dark. Seeing that her field of vision was getting worse, Kanao could not help but become more anxious.

She was someone with a strong night vision, even if the sun set, in that short period of time when there was still a bit of light, she could still see clearly. However if she went back too late, she would cause the rest to worry over nothing.
Even so, if she decided to return now, it was highly likely that Kiyo’s hair ornament would never be found.

(……Kiyo.)

That usually energetic and cheerful girl actually cried in such a manner.

Curled up and her body shaking.

Like the time when she was just brought to the Butterfly Manor……

When Kiyo was just brought to the Butterfly Manor, she cried a lot.

Perhaps it was because she had not overcome the grief of her family being killed by demons, Kiyo thought about her dead family members often. She sobbed and cried incessantly.

That day, Kiyo was hiding in the corner of the courtyard and quietly crying, trying to hold her voice back.

That time, Kanao, who had just finished her training, was seated on the outdoor floor strip. However Kanao only knew that the girl who just came in was crying and she did not understand why she was crying nor could she understand her feelings.

Just as Kanao was absent-mindedly watching the butterflies that were flitting around the courtyard, Kanae had appeared next to Kiyo when she was not paying attention.

Kiyo said some words that could not be heard.

The floor strip that Kanao was on was some distance away from the two so she did not hear the contents of the conversation clearly.

However Kanae’s gaze was extremely gentle and warm and was also full of a deep sorrow.

Kanae said something and Kiyo also replied.

Kanae then used her slender fingers to help Kiyo tie up her hair before attaching small butterfly ornaments to it. Only then did her damp face have a smile.

That time, Kanae must have gave her all to carry the sorrow, hatred, loneliness, anger, fear and other negative feelings that Kiyo was unable to bear. Just to slightly relieve the girl of her grief, she did not hesitate to even hurt herself.

Kanae was that kind of person.

Kind and gentle beyond compare.

As though all the kindness and warmth in the world had manifested in that body. A truly compassionate person who everyone wanted to emulate.

It was Shinobu—as well as Kanae who linked all of them who had no blood relation, into a family.

To these girls who had no one to depend on, the butterfly hair ornament given to them by Kanae was the absolute “proof”.

Just like what Inosuke said, that was just some ordinary thing.

It was not an expensive or rare treasure.

But when she wore that hair ornament, Kanao seem to hear someone telling her that she was not alone and this was a place where she belonged to.

At least within Kanao’s heart, this was not just some trivial object. Shinobu, Aoi, Naho, Sumi as well as Kiyo definitely felt the same—

So she could not help but let out words of rebuke.

Even though she knew that Inosuke’s words had not a shred of malice at all……

“Since this is a rare chance for you to be under the same roof as those of your batch, why not take this opportunity to have a chat with them? Just like how you and Tanjirou became friends, if you do this, your heart will definitely mature, Kanao.”

A few days ago, when Kanao returned from her mission, Shinobu said that to her with a broad smile.

To Kanao who had a hard time just stopping her habit of tossing a coin to make decisions, this request was exceedingly tough.

In reality, when she was asked to bring soap water for Inosuke to blow bubbles with and when Aoi asked her to pass some medicine to Genya, she quietly passed the items to other people and ran off.

She actually wanted to try again today but in the end, such an incident happened.

Kanao slumped her shoulders.

(….And I thought thanks to Tanjirou, I finally changed a bit.)

In the end, did she not change at all?

Was she only capable of slaying demons?

After that, Kanao continued to pace around the mountains, feeling dejected, but she still could not find the hair ornament. She had no choice but to descend the mountain, disappointed.

(Master, Kanae nee-san, sorry….I can’t help Kiyo. I can’t become like my older sisters in the end.)

Just as Kanao was spacing out, distracted, a figure appeared at the foot of the mountain. Because there was light coming from behind it, Kanao could not make out the other party’s face.

Kanao approached the figure while keeping her eye on it. Only then did she realise that there was a boar head on top of the figure.

“Hi.”

“Eh……”

Before she could even ask the other party what he was doing here, Inosuke had casually tossed something over.

“Take it.”

Kanao clumsily caught it with both her hands.

When she opened her hands, a small butterfly laid on her palm.

Kanao’s eyes widened.

“This is—”

Even though the string was a bit tangled and some places were torn, this was definitely Kiyo’s hair ornament.

“W, why….?”

Kanao, who was staring at the hair ornament earlier, raised her head.

How did you find it?

Why are you helping?

Kanao was full of questions and she stared at Inosuke’s face fixedly. The youth who was from the batch as her made an arrogant pose:

“I am the King of the Mountains. Everyone who lives in the mountains are my minions. As long as I get information from these guys, it’s a piece of cake to find a crow with a special tail colour.”

“Eh? Don’t tell me you know how to talk to animals?”

“I know what they’re thinking.”

“That’s amazing.”

Inosuke suddenly became delighted when he heard Kanao’s heartfelt words.

“It isn’t much.”

After happily speaking, Inosuke proudly puffed out his chest as though he still wanted to hear more praises.

Putting aside that ridiculous boar head and that rough voice, his actions were pretty childish.

“That trinket would become sparkly when light hits it right? Those birds love sparkly things the most.”

After listening to what Inosuke said, Kanao held the hair ornament within her hands up in the air and observed it.

Even though it was almost nightfall, the thin wings of the butterfly sparkled under the crimson sunset.

The butterfly that got tinged with the red light was stunningly beautiful.

Kanae’s image from a long time ago appeared before her eyes.

Holding onto the memories that rose up within her, Kanao tenderly gripped onto the hair ornament, careful not to break it.

“—sorry.”

The words came out naturally by themselves.

“For scolding you out of the blue just now.”

“Huh? What are you suddenly apologising for?”

“Thank you, Inosuke.”

Kanao lowered her head after she spoke. Inosuke looked at Kanao, full of surprise. Seeing that he had a troubled look and seemed like he wanted to say something but did not, Kanao realised this was the first time she called him by his name directly.

Somehow she felt that it was very embarrassing.

But Kanao did not dislike that feeling at all.

“….oh, ok.”

After a while, Inosuke nodded his head.

“If there’s problems, I can help. I’m the boss after all.”

Inosuke thumped his chest and said. Kanao nodded her head in response then she held the hair ornament out to Inosuke.

This way, Kiyo would smile as well. When she thought to this point, a sense of warmth welled up from the bottom of her heart.

However, Inosuke only looked at her hand and shook his head.

“You should pass it to her.”

“But, Inosuke, you’re the one who found—“

“Isn’t that the proof that you’re all family?”

Inosuke cut off Kanao who was intending to retort.

“If that’s the case, then you, who is family, should be the one to return it to that shorty.”

Inosuke’s voice was low and did not sound polite at all.

And who knew which direction were the boar head’s eyes looking at.

(But why does it sound so gentle?……)

Seeing that Kanao had nodded silently, Inosuke stretched his stiff back.

“Let’s go back.”

“Uh-hm.”

“I’m hungry.”

Growllll, Inosuke’s stomach made a noise in response.

“Umm….if you don’t mind, how about I buy some snacks back?”

Kanao asked.

Even though it was a bit far to make a detour to town, with Kanao’s walking speed, she should be able to make it back before dinner. She could buy the snacks that Inosuke liked as well as the crepes that Kiyo liked.

Kanao had those ideas but Inosuke rejected them.

“It’s fine. Rather than sweet food, I would much rather have tempura. Fry some for me when we get back.”

“Eh….”

The unexpected reply made Kanao show a bothered expression.

“Fry tempura? Me?”

The household chores of the Butterfly Manor were managed by Aoi, Kiyo, Sumi and Naho, just the four of them. Not only was Aoi capable and good at the culinary arts, all the cooking was done by her while Kiyo and the other two took turns to help out every day.

On the other hand, even though she had already improved by leaps and bounds, whatever Kanao did was an action for each comment and pretty much did not help at all.

When Kanae was still alive, everyone in the manor had made Hanami cooking together before but Kanao was only in charge of taste testing.

Some time ago, Tanjirou was in a coma after fighting Upper Moon Six. While waiting for him to regain consciousness, Kanao and Kiyo made gruel together and that was the only food she made that actually looked decent. However, that time, it was only possible because Kiyo was next to her giving all kinds of instructions.

“I’m not that good at cooking, later, I’ll ask Aoi—”
When she spoke to this point—

 Just like how you and Tanjirou became friends, if you do this, your heart will definitely mature.

Kanao seemed to hear Shinobu whispering next to her ear.

As well as Kanae’s gentle laughter….

Kanao swallowed the words that she wanted to say.”

“……I’ll ask Aoi to teach me when we get back. Then I’ll try and make some.”

With that said, Kanao showed a slight smile.

*

That night, under Aoi’s close guidance, Kanao made Tempura. Even though it was charred and there were some bits that were raw, Inosuke said in an honest manner that they were delicious and ate a huge amount of them.

After Kiyo placed the Butterfly that was snatched away by the crow back on her head, for some reason, she treated the shiny acorn she had as a treasure and took it everywhere. She even used it to play “Guess which hand it’s in” with Nezuko.

“Guess which hand it’s in?”

“Th, this one!”

“Hehehe. Too bad, it’s this one.”

“On…one more time!”

Naho and Sumi got jealous and they puffed up their cheeks.

“Inosuke-san is playing favouritism.”

“Give us pretty acorns too!”

The two of them were clinging to Inosuke and not letting him off.

After thinking carefully, Aoi picked some dishes and placed them on a tray, preparing to send them to Tanjirou and Genya. As for the tempura made by Kanao, Aoi said “I’ll just cut them to small pieces and make chazuke.”

Shinobu looked at everyone with a broad smile.

Her expression was full of affection.

When her eyes met Kanao’s, Shinobu showed a gentle smile.
Kanao’s heart was full of warmth.

She thought that this happiness would continue….

Till the end of time.

*

“Inosuke, grab my shoulder.”

Kanao ducked under Inosuke and supported him upwards. Inosuke’s tough and strong body was heftier than she had expected, and Kanao, who was also injured could not help but stagger. She put force into her legs and just managed to steady herself.

In one of the rooms of the Infinity Fortress.

The two, who managed to defeat Upper Moon Two with a lot trouble and also through the immense sacrifice of losing Shinobu, were covered in wounds.

Kanao seemed to have lost the vision of her right eye and Inosuke was also injured all over. Even though the wound that was bleeding pretty heavily had been stitched up and bandaged, based on how serious it was, it was a miracle he could still stand.

Even so, they still had to push forward.

Kanao half dragged herself and Inosuke’s body to the corridor.

Inosuke was not wearing his boar head and was sobbing like a child.

He had assumed that his mother abandoned him then he suddenly found out that his mother was killed trying to protect him. No wonder he was crying so miserably.

However, seeing tears pour out of Inosuke’s eyes in such a defenseless manner, Kanao, who had been trying to hold back her tears, felt the edges of her eyes getting moist.

(Shinobu nee-san….)

Kanao endured her tears, the stinging pain in her nose and the vapour that was, little by little, clouding her vision.

“I….”

Inosuke mumbled softly. His tone was worn and lacking in power – not like his usual self at all.

“When I first saw Shinobu, I felt like I’ve seen her somewhere before.”

But I was wrong. Inosuke said.

“Shinobu….was like my mother.”

When Inosuke finished speaking, tears trickled down once more.

Upon hearing Shinobu’s name, Kanao could not help but cry as well.

Did Shinobu see Kanae on the other side?

Were the family of four be able to live a happy life in heaven from now on?

The tears kept spilling out.

“Crybaby.”

“You’re the crybaby, Inosuke.”

Kanao said.

“I’m not crying!”

The stubborn youth retorted angrily. He pushed away Kanao’s hand and put the boar head back on. After that, he made an action as though he was going to rip off the bandages that were just wrapped on. Kanao saw what he was doing and quickly stopped him.

“Don’t remove them! The wound that was stitched up would open, alright?”

“If these were wrapped on my arms, my senses will become duller!”

“Didn’t Shinobu nee-san say before? You have to keep your wounds clean—”

Once Shinobu’s name was mentioned, Inosuke cowered for a moment. He reluctantly gave up on removing his bandages.

“You put that on as well.”

Then he spoke with a rough tone.

“That?”

Kanao frowned and Inosuke raised his fist to the right side of his boar head.

“That thing, the hair ornament.”

“Ah…..”

Only then did Kanao realise her hair was a mess and the hair ornaments of her two older sisters were placed in the breast pocket of her uniform.

“This is the last time we’ll be hunting demons. Bring your family along.”

“…..”

Kanao’s eyes widened when she heard Inosuke’s words. Then she closed her eyes and various emotions rose up within her.

Memories at the Butterfly Manor, as well as everyone’s faces, appeared in her mind.

She had staked her life to protecting the people important to her but in the end, she could not.

For the sake of those who were praying for their safety back at the manor, at the very least, she should bring the hair ornament back.

As for the peaceful world her two older sisters staked their lives on to protect—

(I will definitely….)

Kanao bit her lip and tied her hair just like how Kanae did for her.

Then she put on the item her older sister left behind.

(Nee-san, watch carefully)

I will definitely beat Kibutsuji Muzan.

I will never let anyone else have to go through that taste of bitter pain.

(Please watch us carefully from over there.)

“We will definitely defeat Kibutsuji Muzan and return to where the rest are.”

Inosuke glared furiously at the corridor that led to the depths of the Infinity Fortress.

Kanao silently nodded.

The two of them coincided and started running at the same time.

For the sake of ending the long night……

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