ess and contentment and being in the depths of despair, is it not?”


 In a world full of death, people will not cling to life.
In a world full of unreason and discrimination, people will not be outraged by their unfair treatment.
In a world where the agony of hunger is common, people will not want to eat well.


 Of course, they do.
Because they don't know.
If they do not know about the safe world, the world of equality, the world of satiation, if they only know the status quo, they will not have any such envy or conception, and they will have to accept the world as it is.
At least, those who are suffering from such a situation are not educated at the same time, and it is even more difficult for them to come up with such an idea, and they are probably few in number.


 ”Therefore, the most miserable thing of all is to know what is enough.
To know what happiness is, but to know that it cannot be obtained forever.
To know how little hope and salvation there is in ourselves.
Isn't that right?”


 My “mother” speaks the truth.
Because of wisdom, people suffer.
The poorest of the poor, the most ignorant of the poor, are still happy in some ways.
The suffering of this life is bearable because of the expectation of the next life or paradise.
Even if it is a means of escaping from reality, even if it is an empty and baseless delusion, if it can protect and support the mind from the hellish reality that lies before people's eyes now, then they are still happy.
And what about those who don't even have that?


Wh-what are you saying…? No, what do you know…?”

 ”You poor boy.
Why is your way of life so cruel and pathetic, that you can't run away, turn away, or escape, and that you can only live alone, with no one to understand you?”


 My “mother”'s penetrating words contained deep feelings of compassion, pity, and sympathy.
The words were clearly compassionate and kind, forcing me to feel relief and at the same time shaking my heart violently, forcibly opening and breaking the emotional muddy stream that I had been keeping a lid on for years.


 ”It's okay, you've worked so hard, haven't you? It's all right now.
You don't have to work so hard anymore, you don't have to suffer anymore, okay?”


 It was only after she did that that I realized what was happening.
Before I knew it, my “mother” was right in front of me, holding me gently.
The mask I had been wearing was thrown away on the floor, and she was holding me against her soft bosom, my head was being stroked like a baby being soothed.
Everything was happening as I came to realize it.
I had no idea how long it had been happening.
My rationality had melted away, and I was about to overflow in a whirlpool of intense emotions.




 My eyes welled up, and I struggled to stop myself from sobbing.
I instinctively knew that if I did, there was no going back.


 ”Hehehe, you don't have to endure.
It's okay to be spoiled.
It's okay to cry.
After all, it's a natural behavior of a living creature to follow its emotions.
And as a 'mother', why would I refuse to let my child be spoiled and cling to me?”


 The words of my “mother” echoed in my head, ever so gentle and affirming of my weakness.
A warm, gentle sleep fills my thoughts.
I want to give up all thoughts, turn my eyes away from all realities, and just be sweet to my “mother's” heart, just like a baby.
Out of relief and sadness, tears well up in my eyes.



 ”Yes, yes, it's okay, okay? You don't have to worry anymore.
Mother is here for you.”


 The temptation was so sweet and luscious that I gradually closed my eyelids like a baby.
Murasaki, trembling at the sight, noticed something and shouted something at me…
but my brain had already refused to hear or understand her words.
I was tired.
Everything else was too.
I just wanted to get comfortable.


 (Oh, it would be so nice to sleep like this…)


 How much easier would it be if I didn't have to think about anything else and just lived like an animal, faithful to my instincts, to my desires, to my feelings? That is exactly how youkai should be, and it would have come true if I had just left everything to my “mother”.
It seemed to be an endlessly fascinating fate.
That's why…
that's why…


 ”Come, come here.
■■, from today on, you're part of our 'family'”


 ”Yes, yes.
You, as one of my boys, will be a member of our family.
You are not alone.
You have nothing to fear.”


 That's right.
If it's like that, I won't be alone anymore.
No more pain.
I can gather, eat, and live in groups.
That's all I need.
Then I won't have to worry…
and I'll be happy…
and carefree…


 (Wait, I seem to be forgetting something…
or is it…?)


 I felt peaceful in my “mother's” arms, but something was still bothering me.
Yes, something was strange.
Something was definitely weird.
Family? Was my family like this? My family…
my family wasn't like this…
Yes, it wasn't like this…




 Suddenly, the image of a girl holding hands with her parents and younger brothers and smiling carefree and exclaiming, was shown in my mind.
The girl was familiar to me.
It made me miss her.
And although I would never see her again, she was still there…!


 (Yes, that was my family…
my real family…!!!!)


* * *


 ”You've got to be kidding me…!”


 With that little mutter, the sound of something being stabbed echoed through the basement.


 All the youkai in the nest stopped moving and looked at it.
Ako Murasaki, who had been desperately shouting something, stopped and stared at the scene with a stunned expression on her face.
Only the guide was looking around, not knowing what was going on.


 ”Oh, dear…?”


 The human-shaped creature opens its arms, puzzled by the pain in its chest.
Stabbed into its chest was a dagger.
It was a dagger with a gold leaf and lacquer handle, engraved with a vivid cherry blossom pattern, with many layers of curses on it…
and it was in the hand of the human being who it was holding in its bosom.




 She asked, not with anger, but with confusion and sadness.
As if in answer, the human who had been in her arms slowly lifted his face.
Then he opened his mouth.


 ”Don't play with me! Don't you try to destroy the memory of…
my family! Don't take away my family…!!”


 With his face wet with tears and with a trembling voice, but with clear intent to kill, hatred and anger, the young man shouted.
And then…
he forcibly pulls out the dagger he has thrust into the human-shaped creature's chest.
Red plasma spurts from her white skin, wetting his face.
And then…


 ”My dear boy…? What are you doing…?”

 ”Don't act like a mother, you monster…!”


 She wasn't going to hear any of it.
But in the next moment, the sharp dagger blade drawn by the young man had indeed pierced the left eye of the fallen mother goddess…

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