It was early afternoon.
If Azuma had remained at the orphanage, she would have already noticed the strange situation.
That the area around the orphanage was deserted by the youkai-jutsu.


 Then, just as the youkai-jutsu cast, a high-pitched, beastly scream sounded, causing the children to shake their shoulders and turn their heads in the direction of the voice almost at the same time.


 ”Huh…? What? What was that noise?”


 One of the children who were playing kickball (kemari) muttered anxiously.
At the same time, there was a violent banging on the door of the orphanage.



 ”Wh-What? Who is it?”


 The children were frightened by the fierce and menacing sound.
However, one of the older children immediately approached the doorway and peeked out through the crack to see what was outside.


 ”Please!! Someone open the door! Help me!! I-Is there anyone there…!!?”


 Several men were pounding on the doorway, their faces distorted with despair and fear.
At the same time, a horrifying howl of youkai crossed from behind them.




 The next moment, a man was caught in the mouth of a monster fox, much bigger than a tiger, and slammed into a doorway and onto the ground.
His limbs are snapped off as he is slammed against the doorway, and his flesh is torn off as he is slammed to the ground.




 The girl witnesses this and quickly moves away from the gap and screams.
Seeing this, a few children call out to the girl in concern and at the same time ask her what happened.
The older boys, either out of curiosity or out of a sense of duty, peeked into the gap instead, frightened.




 At the same time, they are speechless.
Their young minds could not immediately comprehend the tragedy that was happening in front of them.
The men beat the doorway violently and desperately.
Behind him were a few human beings, a swarm of monster foxes that were biting and pecking at the red and white mingled “things”.
The indescribable smell of flesh and blood wafted down to the children, who were supposed to be far away…


 ”What the…!?”


 One of the weaker boys nearly vomits and leaves the doorway with tears in his eyes.
The other boys, or rather the other children, turned blue and sensed the horror of the situation.
And one of the boys quickly shouts to his friends who still don't know what's going on that there are many monsters outside.


 It may have been a good intention to teach them the seriousness of the situation, but in this case, it was a mistake.


 ”T-There are a lot of youkai out there…!”

 ”Huh!? Y-Youkai…? Why!?”

Are they going to eat us!?”


 Anxiety spreads through the children like a contagion, and in no time at all, they are one step closer to a state of panic.
It's bad…
one of the older children, realizing the danger, screams out as if remembering it as quickly as he can, partly to calm down this chaos.


 ”Calm down! Mother told us, didn't she!? This house is safe and sound!”


 With these words, the children's fears are momentarily relaxed.
Although they were still afraid, they knew very well Azuma's power as their mother.


 ”T-That's right!”

 ”Mother is strong, so we'll be fine!”


 They encouraged each other as if half-telling themselves.
Children forced smiles on their faces even though they were tense.
It was their way of reassuring each other.
However, the air that was about to loosen was frozen in the next moment by the newest of them all, the fox girl.


 ”Hey, are we safe here? Then what about the people out there…?”


 The children's faces hardened at her words.
A moment later, as if on cue, a cry rang out.


 ”Please! Help us!! Help! Hel—No! I don't want to die…


 The man who had been banging on the door almost as if he were beating himself while sobbing was bitten on the leg and dragged away.
He desperately tried to escape by clawing at the ground, but to no avail.
The nails peel off, leaving red streaks on the ground.
And when he is far enough away from the doorway, the hungry monster foxes swarm around him.
At the same time, a scream can be heard and a scarred arm flails out from among the foxes that cover him, but it slumps down and is soon swallowed up.




 The children's eyes, which had seen the last of him through the doorway, gave a small scream and trembled as they covered their ears.
Tears were streaming from their eyes, and perhaps their thoughts were completely confused.


 ”Please!! Open the door!! Hurry upppp…!!”

 ”Someone's in there, isn't there!!? I know it!? …Please, please! Open the door! Don't leave me here..!!”


 The two remaining men cry out, wailing and sobbing.
Their bodies are injured in places and their clothes are stained red.
With expressions of desperation, they plead with those perhaps on the other side of the doorway…
with the children.




 One of the children looks at the man, her face turning blue.
The children all look at each other, their faces almost tearful.
It was conflict and fear.
The tragedy before them, and one of the reasons for it, was their own judgment.


 ”Let them go inside the house too!? If we don't do anything, they'll die…!”

 ”But we can't let strangers in!? Mother will be upset!!”

 ”But I feel sorry for them!!”



 A heated debate ensues among the older children, but no answers are forthcoming.
And even as they argued, the precious few minutes left of the day were running out.


 ”Damn it! Hurry up and open it! Agh…!? It hurts! It hurtssss…!?”


 At the sound of his scream, Shiro, who had come to the doorway, peeked in, gasped for breath, and looked away.
It's no wonder, then, to see the man's face distorted with despair as he continues to bleed profusely from the side of his body.


 ”Shiro-chan, let's open the door! If we don't do it soon, they'll die!”


 An older girl shouts to Shiro with tears in her eyes.
It must have been the way Azuma raised her.
She was highly sensitive and saw the horrifying things happening outside as if they were her own.


 ”Eh? Ah…


 For a moment, Shiro is at a loss as to whether she should follow her decision or not, but…
things are already happening in a matter of seconds.
There was no time to argue for too long.
Shiro, along with the other children who have chosen to help the people outside, unbolts the door and rushes to open it, inviting them in.


 ”Y-You can't…!”


 The children who had been opposed to inviting the strangers inside cannot do anything about it now.
They rush to close the door after the survivors rush into the orphanage.


 It was thanks to Azuma's moral education.
It is true that people outside are scary, and some of them have suffered severely.
But that being said, the children were well taught not to abandon those who are suffering or in trouble.


 That in itself is not wrong.
In fact, it was the right kind of education.
The children's judgment cannot be said to be wrong because of the existence of the boundary.
But on this occasion, it was a mistake.


 The “invited” men entered the doorway just before they were bitten by the foxes that jumped at them from behind.
The foxes who followed them, however, hit an invisible wall “uninvited” just as they leaped toward the doorway, and screamed and retreated.
The boundary seemed to be functioning normally.


 ”A-Are you okay…?”

 ”It's okay, it's safe to go in here…”

 ”Are you scared?”


 The children ran up to the two men who had rushed into the orphanage and were still gasping for breath, and tried to talk to them.


 One of the men, as he tearfully regained his breath, saw the children and tried to say something to them, though he was a little startled.
The next moment, the body of the one who was standing next to him…
“It's ripped”.


 ”Eh? What?”


 The man who was about to open his mouth noticed something was wrong and turned his head to look in the direction of the other man, and a huge shadow swallowed his body from the head, and the man's body was ripped off from the abdomen.


 …or, more precisely, his spine was not shredded, so when the man's upper body was swallowed as if he was looking up, his lower body was swung around halfway in the air, and then at last, with a cracking sound, his lower body spun around and plunged into the field at the yard of the orphanage, scattering his organs and blood.




 A half-youkai girl with cat ears screams as she witnesses the scene closest to her.
A moment later, the remaining children also scream.
Then, “she” appears with a big smile on her face, enveloped in her cries.


 Indeed, “she” cannot use magic, nor can she tell a lie.
It's a pretty good boundary, but that's all there is to it.
Everything has a structural weakness.
In this case, the fact that a child is living inside means that there is a chance to be taken advantage of.


 Of course, if someone takes advantage of them, it is almost certain that they will fail.
But the monster fox weakened far more than its original destiny by the pain of licking the city and failing to attack the merchants, and by a series of failures, has played its tricks cold-heartedly and ruthlessly.


 …So, if she doesn't change, if she doesn't lie, she won't be caught by the orphanage's security.
Therefore, she didn't change, and she didn't lie to the children.
Instead of changing, she just put on the “human skin” she had just peeled off.
The call for help was not a lie.
Because if the “human skin” hadn't, the human decoys accompanying her would have been “eaten” for sure.


 Youkai is evil, cunning, and vicious.
And they exploit the weaknesses of things cunningly.
After capturing the humans who were safe enough to disappear in the wrong place, the monster fox skinned one of them alive and then replaced him.
She then released them near the orphanage and drove them away, deliberately leading them to seek help at the orphanage.
Bypassing the transformations and the lie-breaking, they invited the men to come inside the boundary to seek help and blatantly show the good children a stranger being eaten by monsters.


 The man-skin is ripped off to reveal a giant man-eating fox, whose hide we don't even know how it got in there.
Its mouth is twisted in a cruel smile, and several red streaks of the blood of the man who had just been eaten flow from its mouth.
With a cold look of superiority, the monster fox looks down at the half-youkai children…
its tender and delicious prey.




 The children were in a state of near paralysis before the mighty youkai force was released by the youkai fox.
Without knowing what had happened, their faces were drawn, or they had stunned expressions on their faces, and some of them were shaking their legs or falling on their backsides, unable to escape from the situation.


 …though they would have been too frightened to do anything anyway even without youkai-energy.


 Now, the huge youkai fox takes a step forward with a calm attitude.
Then it looked at the nearest children, the girls who had opened the bolt on the door, and its eyes narrowed.


 Shiro, along with some of the children, caught the look and knew almost instinctively that it was a sneer.
At the same time, she realized.
This giant creature had clearly seen and laughed at her.


 Then the youkai fox opened its long mouth to its full size.
Fangs like saw blades were lined, and a line of mucus mixed with saliva and blood was drawn.
And just like it had done to the man earlier, the creature was about to bite the girl standing beside Shiro, covering her from above.




 It was almost a reflex.
Shiro pushed her friend, who was about to be swallowed whole and unable to do anything, away from her.
The next moment, however, when Shiro turned her eyes to the monster, the monster's palate filled her field of vision.


 And a moment later, the memory of the nightmare reappears in her mind.
She understood with despair.
She understood this situation, and what would happen next.
But she did not even know who was the cause of it.


 ”It can't be…”


 She muttered almost reflexively, out of grief, regret, and self-hate.
Oh, I should have died “then” if this is the case.
I shouldn't have stayed in this place so long.
If only she had left me alone, if only I had died alone in the wild…!


 But it's too late.
Too late.
Very too late.
In a few tenths of a second, its sharp fangs will pierce, gouge, and tear apart Shiro's slender body.
The girl is overcome with a feeling of helplessness.
But the next moment, when she prepared herself for the pain that was to come, it came…
The long spear suddenly thrust in front of her stopped the fangs of the spear.




 The teary-eyed girl shifted her gaze, not understanding what had happened.
She moved her gaze along the spear's handle and saw a cloaked figure standing at the end of the spear.


 ”Ggh…!? It's so heavy…!!!”


 In front of the girl's eyes, the figure pulls out a long spear.
Having pulled out the spear, whose blade and handle are both badly damaged by the heavy youkai fox's fangs, the shadow holds up the broken spear as if it is helpless.


 ”…Oh, yeah.
Isn't this obvious? I'm not surprised if it's broken since this is the second time, right? Haha…
Damn it!”


 …Although the cloak with its recognition-blocking effect made it impossible to see the figure's face, the fox girl could clearly read from the tired and despairing words that the figure must have a deeply bitter and drawn expression on her face at this very moment.

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