Chapter 45 – Prequel story of the Kyobe family
It was Sunday.
I was helping out before my Onmyoji training.
My father found out that my spiritual power was ridiculously high because I helped him with a job once before the social gathering.
He got a taste of it and started making me do the work that uses my spiritual power prior to my Onmyoji training.
Doesn’t he have any pride as the patriarch of the family, throwing a tiring job to a child?
However, I’m not complaining. From my point of view, the amount of spiritual power I consume is miniscule, and it would be better for me to have my training after this so that I can be in perfect condition.
Since I am being provided for, I will show at least this much filial piety.
I’ve finished with my payment to the Shikigami and now I’m in the process of injecting spiritual power into the ink pots.
I put my fingers into the small ink pots lined up on the desk and put spiritual power into them.
“Dad, my hair is in the way, can’t you just cut it off?”
It was an immediate answer.
I already knew the answer.
Hair is a versatile item that can be a trump card for Onmyoji.
It can enhance Onmyojutsu or be used as a compensation for Shikigami.
Such a useful item has an expiration date the moment it is cut off.
There is no expiration date, but the potency and value of the item will decrease significantly.
That is why Onmyoji basically do not have the custom of getting a haircut.
I, too, have never had my hair cut since I was born, and I keep my shoulder-length hair tied up at the back of my neck.
I was ridiculed at my first day of kindergarten for looking like a woman because it was an unusual hairstyle for a man, and the boy who made that comment that was likely to spread fire on social media had to be reprimanded through a game of tag, so we are good friends now.
“……. ………. ……. Evil Demon”
In my previous life, I went to a store that offered 1,000-yen haircuts once every three months and said, “Please shorten the overall length of my hair. Please trim the back and both sides at 6mm.” My standard was to have a non-popular haircut with an emphasis on practical use.
In short, I had lived with short hair all my life, so when my bangs got in the way like this, I couldn’t help but be bothered.
Hanging a tuft of hair over one’s ear, for example, is a gesture that is for the benefit of no one, especially if done by a man.
This kind of gesture looks good only when a beautiful woman does it, and for me, it’s just depressing.
I want to use a hair clip to tie it back together, but I can’t because my fingers are now wet with ink.
I only have two more ink pots to go, so I’ll just have to put up with it.
“Father, you have a short hair, don’t you? What did you use it for?”
Yes, my dad immediately replied to me that I shouldn’t cut my hair, but he is getting himself a clear haircut.
That means he used it for some Onmyojutsu.
And it means that he’s been using it frequently.
It’s been bothering me quite a bit up until now, and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to ask him.
“……. I used it for Hijiri and Yuya’s birth ceremony.”
Certainly, a major event like the birth of one’s own child is an appropriate situation to use one’s precious hair. But that was more than three years ago.
In three years, hair grows a lot.
If you’re deceiving me, are you using it for something you wouldn’t want to tell your child about?
I’m a little curious, but it seems that in some Onmyoji cultures, “longer hair is better looking”, so I’m not going to pursue it too much.
“So, when was the first time you made use of it?”
“First time huh ……?”
Hair that has been growing for a long time is infused with spiritual power and its value increases.
Since we all don’t use our hair when we are children, it is usually the hair we first use as adults that has the most value.
I will probably use my hair someday. I would like to use this as a reference.
“The first time I used it was when I fought a Threat Level 4 Yōkai that appeared in our city.”
Hey, there’s something heavy in the air.
It’s like when you hear something you shouldn’t …….
The atmosphere in the room changed drastically as my father began to talk with a somber expression on his face.
“Threat Level 4, that’s the one that the surrounding houses have to work together to fight, right?”
“That’s right. Depending on the strength of the enemy, a national Onmyoji unit will be deployed.”
National Onmyoji Unit.
It is a group of Onmyoji specialized in large-scale rites.
It is said to have been established to defeat an opponent who cannot be defeated by individual forces that are working together to fight an extremely powerful Yōkai.
It is also said that it is mainly used as a place of employment for the second and third sons of Onmyoji families. It was mentioned on the Onmyoji Channel.
Therefore, the head of each family is required to have personal capabilities to fight such Yōkai.
A Yōkai with a Threat Level of 4 is an opponent that can only be defeated by an elite group of individuals.
It is a very formidable foe.
“Those in the vicinity at that time were my family, the Tonobe family, then the Uraki family, the Rimono family, and the Ejiri family.”
“So, there was a lot of families.”
I’ve only been to the Tonobe family, so I don’t have a clue about the other families. I guess there are quite a few Onmyoji around here.
“No, they don’t exist anymore. Only we and the Tonobe family.”
Hmm? Does that mean that three families were destroyed by that Yōkai?
How strong was it?
“The first to arrive were my family and the Tonobe family. Each head of the family, their wives, and I, the next head of the family, as well as Momi, fought together against the Yōkai that was spreading the impurities.”
Momi-san was also a participant?
And it seems that the former head of the Kyobe family, who died before I was born, and my grandparents on my father’s side were alive at that time.
“The Yōkai was later certified as a Threat Level 4, but from my senses as I was fighting it, it was equivalent to a Threat Level – Lower 5. The Tonobe family built a ward and the Kyobe family summoned a Shikigami. This method, which had become a standard practice, did not work on him.”
I thought they were awfully well acquainted, but I didn’t know they used to fight together.
But they don’t seem to be working together now. ……Something must have happened in this battle.
As soon as my father, who is always a man of few words, started talking about it at length, I knew that was the case.
“The wards were destroyed with no effort at all, and the Shikigami lacked any effective counterattacks. We moved into delayed combat once it became clear that the three slow-arriving families were our best bets. We waited for the three families that would not arrive anytime soon.”
I sense some kind of conspiracy.
“Why didn’t they come?”
“You don’t need to know yet. At that time, the former heads of the family did everything in their power and managed to suppress the Yōkai. The attack by me and Momi was only as a deterrent, though, and we could do little more than watch. When the call came that the national Onmyoji force would be arriving in a few moments, my father …… collapsed.”
Grandpa, were you killed by a Yōkai?
My father was not sure what to say, but I, who had died once, had no need for such concern.
I was prepared for this as soon as I learned that I was going to fight Yōkai.
“When the vanguard was broken and the balance could no longer be maintained, I cut my hair. After my father died, I gave it as a compensation to the Shikigami whose contract had expired, and we managed to get through the situation. Not long after that, the national Onmyoji force arrived and sealed the place.”
“Not exterminated, but sealed?”
“It was that strong. I am convinced that Yōkai was Threat Level – Lower 5.
I see, my father cut his hair for the first time to fight such a powerful enemy.
It turned out to be a more epic story than I had expected.
I had imagined it would be something like, “I used it to summon a new Shikigami”.
I thought the story was over, but I was astonished to hear what happened next.
“Shortly after that, my mother and the former head of the Tonobe family collapsed.”
“The doctor said it was caused by getting too close during the battle and allowing the impurities to enter their bodies through injuries. The curse was so powerful that it could not even be lifted in time.”
Eh, they won, but they died, that’ s really unfortunate.
I did hear that there are such types of Yōkai, though.
“The curse of Yōkai cannot be completely healed. Momi’s mother was also cursed, and she did not last a month before falling ill. The Tonobe family managed to complete the inheritance, but for the Kyobe family, the succession of the Shikigami has been interrupted.”
Does this have anything to do with the fact that our house is in shabby condition?
I think I heard the term “inheritance of the Shikigami” once on the Onmyoji Channel, but I’m not sure what it means.
“Therefore, it is a problem for you Hijiri. Kyobe’s family is only able to partially carry on the family’s summoning formation.”
“When will I inherit it?”
“When I retire. Until then, you will practice with the Shikigami I don’t use.”
Oh well, that’s a ways off.
I can provide the spiritual power for the compensation on my own, and I was hoping to do that soon.
Still, it was quite a good story with a lot of room for consideration.
I now know a little more about the current state of my family and the harshness of the world of Onmyoji. I will refer to it as the history built by our predecessors.
My father stands up and walks over to me and puts his hand on my head.
“An Onmyoji who makes his living by fighting never knows when he will die. I do not intend to die until I have told you everything I know, but if …… the time does come ……, please take care of Reika and Yuya.”
Dad …… that is a flag …….
“I will protect Yuya. But father, it is your role to protect mother, isn’t it? Mother told me everything. Mom married you because you saved her, and she fell in love with you.”
“You talked about it ……………………..?”
But, yeah, …… my dad is ready to die, I guess. …… He’s working hard, too. ……
In that respect, he’s different from me in my previous life. I’ve lived in a peaceful world all my life.
I wonder how on Earth he feels when he goes to work.
To keep my happiness in my daily life, my whole family has to be present.
As was the case with my mother’s love story, I need to find a way to run to her when she is in a pinch.
I wonder if there is any way I can do something with spiritual element.
While I was listening to my father’s past story, I had finished injecting spiritual power into the ink pot.
After that, it was time to study the formations. There are a number of different types of formations that need to be learned, such as simple warding, breaking spells, and dissolving curses, to name a few.
“Tonight is the full moon. Finish your studies early and have a good night’s sleep.”
“Then at midnight, teach me how to draw a moonbathing formation.”
“…… All right.”
That look on his face is one of amazement, “How can you study so much without getting bored”?
Naturally, if it is such an interesting subject to study, I can keep going as long as I would like to. That’s logical for someone who aspires to be a professional Onmyoji.
That being said, my dad is going to run out of things to tell me soon enough.
Please, just don’t die prematurely because of some strange flags.