Inari Chapter 8: Reinforcements

 

After receiving the message from Mommy I flew into a panic. Unfortunately surrounded by Oni on all sides, and being way out here in Shima there isn’t much I can do except comfort Mommy through messages.

We know he is alive because his dungeon is active, but that doesn’t make us any less worried, and after a week passes and there is still no word I decide I have to do something…

(Madam Erin, I want to help search for Daddy, I would like you to come pick me up so I can help with the search for him.)

Madam Erin: (I appreciate your loyalty to you father, but something like that is quite difficult.)

(You came to my dungeon for little more than just talk twice now, surely there is something I can do to convince you.)

Madam Erin: (I will make a deal with you. Can’t bring you back to the mainland, but if you investigate something for me I promise to put more resources forth in helping to locate your father.)

(What could I do to help you…?)

Madam Erin: (During my visit I of course not only visited you, but spent some time at several other locations in Shima. While in the capital I heard rumors of a dungeon not far from your forest that just may be the source of the Oni. If it is indeed a dungeon as an Elder I can’t interfere, but the fact that it is a dungeon we know nothing about is concerning as well.)

(You know the Oni surround me when I leave the temple grounds, how am I supposed to do anything to help?)

Madam Erin: (The Oni have always made an effort to destroy dungeons, but when no dungeons are present they maintain a status quo. Your arrival in the forest a little over a year ago made it quite dangerous in that forest, but outside of it I barely encountered any Oni at all. Of course the more time you spend in a location the more they will start to gather, but if you can find the source quickly you might just be able to discover what is going on.)

(I told you before I rely on the Oni, and to put a stop to them now would seriously hinder my dungeon.)

Madam Erin: (Who said anything about putting a stop to them? I just asked you to determine their source. Besides I thought you wanted to do something to help your father, and doing this for me will do just that.)

(While I can’t make any promises, give me all the details and I will think on it.)

Madam Erin then tells me what she knows and what she expects from me… I don’t really know if I can do anything about it, but I will talk with the others and see what they think about it. I decide to gather my monsters and ask them what they think.

Yuji: “I believe it is too dangerous for you to do something like that mistress, but if you leave it to Akane, the others, and myself. Then I promise we will get to the bottom of it for you to help your father.”

Akane: “What have I told you about speaking for me!? But you do make a valid point. If our mistress wishes it I will see it through to the end.”

Saki: “What about the temple and the dungeon? If we all go, there is no way to gather enough xp to sustain the dungeon and village.”

“I hate to speak ill of Daddy due to what has happened, but I won’t sit on the sidelines like he has. If he had more combat experience maybe he wouldn’t have been kidnapped. I am going to go as well.”

Takeshi: “This isn’t a good idea. Who will watch the dungeon?”

“You have guarded my dungeon this entire time. Can’t I count on you to keep it safe in my absence?”

Takeshi: “I am your shield, I can’t let you leave that far away from the dungeon and not protect you.”

“Since you still are not one of my dungeon monsters it would really hurt us to have you along. Besides I can protect my body, but you protecting my crystal would mean so much more to me.”

Satoshi: “Saki-san had a point though, if we leave how we are going to maintain the dungeon, we can only gain enough xp to sustain us for 7 days out of every 5 of gathering. It would take months to be able to even leave the dungeon unattended for several weeks.”

“I have a plan for that as well. It will take a full week before we can leave, and if it is looked at too hard it will be seen through, but I think we have earned enough trust with the village we might just get away with it.”

Takeshi: “What do you plan on doing…?”

“A caravan is due in a few hours. If we claim I received a letter about receiving more servants from back home, which would give us an entire week to summon another group of monsters to gather xp for us while we are away. We will of course have to double down our efforts in gathering xp this week to make sure we have enough though.”

Takeshi: “It would take months from the letter to their arrival to make it believable.”

“We can say the letter is just the conformation and that they are right behind it.”

Yuji: “No offense Mistress, but that is thin at best…”

“It’s the best we can do! Even if I went to the mainland to search for Daddy, I don’t have a clue as to where to look, but as Madam Erin is an Elder she has far more resources available to her. If doing this for her means she puts them resources into finding Daddy, this is by far the best thing I can do to help Mommy & Daddy.”

Nobody seems to like the idea but they all eventually agree. I write out a letter that looks large and official looking and since Yuji is a ninja he has no problem sneaking it into the other correspondences that arrive when the caravan arrives that afternoon.

After placing the letter I have my monsters double down on their efforts in gathering xp, using one of my Oni “lures” to maximize the amount of Oni. After my monsters begin Tatsuo arrives on our doorstep with the letter Yuji snuck into the caravan’s correspondences. After pretending to read the letter I tell Tatsuo what is written.

“Months ago when the Oni Generals first began to appear I sent a letter home saying how dangerous it had become, it seems that letter reached my parents and they decided to send more servants to protect me. The letter says they should arrive shortly after the letter.”

Tatsuo: “Your servants were all pretty green in the beginning, will more even be able to make it through the forest now…?”

“It says they are part of the warrior faction, so this might be good news. With their arrival we can begin scouting the forest again, while they protect the village and the temple.”

Tatsuo: “Wait you plan on leaving the village? Your magical ability seems to draw the Oni every time you leave the temple grounds, do you really think that is a good idea?”

“I have my lures, and if we just stay scared in the village forever, the Oni will always have control. They seem to be thicker in the forest then the rest of Shima, so maybe the answer it here somewhere.”

Tatsuo: “You have already done so much for us though… I know you claim you are not associated with Inari, but even if it is just the fact you and your servant’s dedication to rebuilding and protecting the Inari temple, for that reason alone Inari has smiled down on us because of you. We couldn’t ask for you to do anything else…”

“You’re not asking me, I am doing it because I want to. I have wanted to do it for a long time now, but after the village relocated here, and everything else it has been hard. With more help from my parents though I am sure we can get to the bottom of this.”

Tatsuo: “Even if Inari doesn’t talk to you directly… Inari is lucky to have you.”

“Well if more servants really are coming I need to start making some preparations, so if you will excuse me…”

Tatsuo: “Of course, and if the village can do anything to assist, don’t hesitate to ask.”

After my monsters return that evening and I break down the room outside I look to see how we sit on xp. After deducting what my consumption will be for at least the next 24 hours, and the cost to make another lure I have a little xp to work with.

I could start with another beastkin at level 15, but it would probably be smarter to summon another boss monster. The cost for my second boss monster is 10,000xp though so I would have to wait to gather more xp before I do anything else.

This could backfire all together and I might not even get a sentient humanoid now that would really put us in a bind. Well I didn’t give Tatsuo a specific time frame that the group will be arriving so even if it’s a few weeks to build up enough xp that should be alright.

After hitting the confirmation I watch our xp reach critically low levels again, and the core room is filled with light. Luckily when the light clears the monster before me is a female fox beastkin.

Like Yuji she has silver ears and a tail with black hair but hers is quite long. Her build is halfway between Saki and Akane so similar to mine. Although she may have me beat ever so slightly in breast size, but its close enough I will deny it till the day I die. She looks around the room and then quickly kneels to me.

Beastkin: “Mistress what is you command?”

“Only being level 1 there isn’t much you can do at the moment, but being a boss monster means your strength will be a bit greater than the normal monsters, so once you level up some I am sure you will be leading your group in no time. As to that though we are pretty strapped for xp at the moment so you are the first member of your team I have summoned, for now you will be on standby until we can gather you all together.”

Beastkin: “As you wish Mistress.”

I debate it for a while and decide to summon her clothes in the Gowen fashion instead of Shima, as they are supposed to be traveling in from abroad. I will have to give her a Shima name however or it won’t make much since for the others to have Shima names.

“Alright now that you have some clothes let’s think up a name for you… How about Chika?”

Chika: “If that is what Mistress wishes.”

I then decide to look at assigning her a class. There are quite a few but even being a boss monster I am surprised to find none of them are magically inclined. They also are still Shima classes. Some of them are familiar but the one that stands out the most is the Onna-bugeisha so I select it.

Searching gear for that class looks pretty broad, but for the most part it is about the same as it is for Akane, but that will have to wait till we get a bit more xp.

“Oh and one final thing, once we introduce you to the villagers as long as you preform your duties you are free to act on your own. The only exception is Takeshi, who is my partner, and Satoshi who is one of my monsters are both off limits. Follow them rules and everything should be fine. Do I make myself clear?”

Chika: “Understood Mistress.”

“Good, now we can’t have you all crammed in my bedroom till we get the group together, so I am going to send you down to an area that isn’t accessible to the outside. It may be a bit boring till we get your group together, but you will just have to deal with it for now.”

Chika: “As you wish Mistress.”

I then transfer her to the large area behind the wall that I blocked the villagers from on the floor beneath the residential area. There isn’t anything else there, but she has plenty of room to move around at least.

When the others aren’t gathering xp I might send them to visit with her a bit at least till we can get a few more of the others together.  It takes a few more days of hard training, my monsters are positively exhausted, and I even make a few trips out with them as well to help take the load off of them before we can summon another monster.

I select the fox beastkin, with the xp we have gathered I raise the level up to 15, and summoning results in another female fox beastkin. This one like Akane and Saki has red hair, fur, and tail. She is built like Saki but has quite a bit larger breasts. They are still small quite a bit smaller than mine though so I am pleased with her appearance.

After clothing her, giving her the name Hotaru, and checking a class for her I found the shugenja which seems to be a magic class so I quickly selected it. I then tell her what I expect from her and also give her the warning about Takeshi and Satoshi before sending her to Chika.

Things continue like that for a while. My monsters work their hardest to gather xp and then after a few days I summon another, and another, and so on. It takes 2 entire weeks and I only have 6 new monsters, and instead of summoning a 7th I summon gear for them dropping us back down to critical levels.

I ended up with Chika, Hotaru, and Yuzuki who is a grey fox with light colored hair, her build is quite delicate like Saki’s but she is tall, also like Saki she is a miko. At least we have someone to watch the temple for us while Saki is away.

Then we got Kaori a second grey fox but she has black hair, her build is similar to Akane’s which means her breasts cause me a bit of distress, and even her class is Sohei is like that of Akane. Her personality is a bit more reserved but Satoshi and Takeshi seems to like that, so she might be even more worrisome then Akane is.

The fifth beastkin I summoned resulted in a fox with brown ears, tail, and hair. I gave her the name Rin and she shares the Onna-bugeisha class along with Chika. She is quite tall maybe even as tall of some of the men, but her breasts are equal to that of Saki so I am sure I have nothing to worry about with her. Not to take any chances though I give her the same stern warning as all the rest.

The final beastkin I manually set to male because for some reason even though it should have been a 50/50 chance all the others were female. I am disappointed however when the result is another brown hair, ears, and tailed fox that has a disappointing body like Yuji’s… The only redeeming feature is he is at least a magic user joining Hotaru with the shugenja class.

I am a little worried that 50% of the group is magic users, but magic classes are hard to come by so I am not going to complain and look at it as a blessing. All of the monsters but Chika are summoned in at level 15 so they will have to protect her till she can catch up, but as a boss monster that shouldn’t be no time at all.

The night before I plan to introduce them to the village I gather all of my monsters together, and give them a rundown of the plan. When Akane’s and Yuji’s group go out in the morning to gather xp near a lure I will have the others sneak out of the village, make their way around though the forest, and then enter from the front way.

At level 15 they should be able to handle a few stray Oni and with the lure they won’t probably have to worry about the Oni Generals so my only concern is that they keep Chika well protected. After I finish I let everyone get to know each other a bit better.

Yuji has already begun to hit on several of the women, but Akane doesn’t seem to mind as she flirts with the new male in the group Akihiro. Saki seems excited to have another Miko to visit with while Satoshi silently smiles in the background. Chika, Hotaru, and Rin seem content visiting together, but they have made several questionable glances at my Takeshi and started to giggle…

Everyone is supposed to know each other from back on the mainland so I don’t put an end to the gathering until I am sure at least everyone knows enough about each other to make it passable.

The next morning after setting the lure we start the plan. As the first group goes out, it gathers the usual onlookers that it seems to do every day. Other than the gawkers most of the other villagers are either in the temple or working so I quickly transfer the second group at the edge of the temple grounds near an isolated back corner of the grounds, and they quickly disappear into the tree line.

I told them to wait a couple hours gathering a bit of xp if they could, but if things got to be too much for them to quickly make their way for the main entrance to the temple grounds. They seemed to do alright though because it’s not till almost noon till I hear the villagers talking about someone making their way up the steps.

They do look like they have seen a bit of battle as they make their way up, but with three mages, two of which capable of healing it doesn’t seem to have bothered them any. Tatsuo apparently got word as well as he joins me at the edge of the temple grounds as the monsters cross the threshold.

A quick glance at the monsters have returned from battle screen shows me they seemed to have dealt with at least 16 of the normal Oni, or any combination of Oni and Oni generals to give that amount of xp. It was enough for Chika to jump up to level 7 so I feel they will do just fine.

They quickly make their way to me and they all take a knee.

Chika: “Mistress Inari, we have finally arrived.”

“Chika, it looks like you have been well. How are my parents doing?”

Chika: “They are sad their daughter has decided not to make a quick return after visiting Shima, but as you are doing what you mother has dreamed about her entire life. They understand.”

“Tatsuo, I would like to introduce you to Chika, she is one of the guard captains from back home. It also looks like she brought along with her, Rin, Hotaru, Yuzuki, Kaori, and Akihiro.” –I say while motioning to each one.-

Tatsuo: “All Shima names…”

“Yes… Mother is quite fond…”

Chika:  “It is also a great honor for the Grand Mistress to bless the newborns of the village with a name, but Mistress I must inform you I was demoted. I however welcome it as it was a blessing that allowed me to make this journey.”

Tatsuo: “It’s kind of strange to think that somewhere on the mainland is a village entirely of fox beastkin that live in what I would assume a Shima village of my father’s father would be like.”

“It’s not quite that bad, as you can see they are dressed like others from the mainland. Although they were trained in the styles of Shima combat and like Saki, Yuzuki there is well versed as a Miko.”

Tatsuo: “I guess your mother being versed in the old ways of Shima is why we are all still alive, so I would like to thank her one day…”

“Well if you will excuse me, I am sure they are quite tired from their journey, and we have quite a bit to catch up on. Once they get settled in we can speak in greater length.”

Tatsuo: “Yes, please forgive me.” –He then addresses the new monsters before departing.- “Your Mistress has really pulled through for us, so any friends of hers are more than welcome.”

Once he is out of earshot I sigh and say. “So far so good… Alright now we will spend a few hours out and about making sure everyone learns of your arrival. Then if everything goes well in a few days we will begin the next stage of the plan.”

We spend the next few days making sure everyone has grown use to the new monsters presence. There are a few rumors circulating but nothing more than normal. All in all it seemed to actually go much better than I had hoped.

Sending both groups out every day has also really helped in building up our xp, and a week after their arrival we then begin the next stage.

Daddy has been missing a full month now and I have yet to start to do anything about it, but don’t worry Mommy that is all going to change now. Once I do this for Madam Erin then surely she will be able to locate Daddy in no time.

I set Chika up with [Menu] access while we are gone, but I command her to pass any use of it though Takeshi first… I wouldn’t have to go through all this if he would just join us… I then meet with Tatsuo before our departure.

Tatsuo: “You are really going to go out there?”

“I am leaving Takeshi in charge of my affairs while I am gone. As Chika was once a guard captain she has a magic that will allow her to contact me if it’s an emergency, so if something happens let her or Takeshi know, and she can relay the message to me.”

Tatsuo: “You are leaving us in very capable hands… I am more worried about you.”

“Well we can be gone a week, a month, or even several, but I promise I will send a message to Chika here and there to let you all know we are still kicking.”

Tatsuo: “Without you here are you sure Inari isn’t going to kick us out?”

“If you listen to Yuzuki I don’t think you will have a problem.”

Tatsuo: “Do promise me you will take care of yourself…”

“I promise… Now if you excuse me I need to guilt Takeshi into something.”

Tatsuo laughs and excuses himself.

“Takeshi…”

Takeshi: “I refuse…”

“I haven’t even said anything yet.”

Takeshi: “I know you well enough, and you will return without fail, so the answer is no.”

“I wish I had your confidence, I am honestly really scared you know…”

Takeshi: “We know your father is alive, and you parents are both very capable people. They would never ask you to give your life for something like this, so promise me if things look bad at all, you will then swiftly return. You can always regroup and try again, but only if you are alive.”

“I leave my heart in your hands. Promise me you will not let it break.”

Takeshi: “I promise I will guard it with my life.”

“Not your life.”

Takeshi: “Miss Inari…?”

“Your life holds more value to me, because if you lose your life I promise it will break just the same.”

I then quickly wrap my arms around him embracing him. He raises his arms up and says. “Miss Inari! That is improper.”

“This is non-negotiable, please let me at leave have this much…”

When his arms are finally lowers and I feel his embrace as well I start to slide my hand down but stop. Instead I wiggle my head burying into his chest and squeezing him tighter. After he lets go I take one last deep breath breathing him in and I then let him go as well.

Then on my order Chika sets off an extra-large lure out back to draw as many Oni as possible. Once the group begins to work on them Yuji, Akane, Satoshi, Saki, and I head out of the dungeon quickly making our way in the direction Madam Erin told me about.

We hurry through the forest making good time, we have encountered a few Oni but we dealt with them swiftly. From the information we have it would take two days to clear the forest in the direction we are going, but we have to clear it in one, or the odds are the Oni will become too thick and we will become stuck.

Even as the sun starts to pass beyond the horizon that evening we haven’t seen the edge of the forest. We haven’t quit moving from the moment we stepped out of the dungeon and everyone appears quite tired.

The only one that seems like they just can’t take any more though is Saki, Satoshi however scoops her up in his arms and we continue on our way. Even after the sun has completely dropped from the sky we keep going.

I know we are being followed because I can hear the rustling behind us, but just how many I don’t know, and I am not prepared to stop to find out. After resting in Satoshi’s arms for a while Saki insisted on moving on her own again, but Yuji looks like he can’t take much more, and after carrying Saki, Satoshi looks like he wouldn’t be too far behind him.

“Five minutes. I will give you all five minutes rest. You all hit some trees going up them and I will circle back.”

Yuji: -While breathing quite heavily.- “We can’t leave you alone…”

“You don’t look like you can go on for another minute much less till we clear the forest. I have plenty of stamina left, and magic just do as I say.”

Akane: “We will leave it to you Mistress…”

“Now!”

They quickly disappear up nearby trees as I keep moving. I don’t know how many are behind me, but now I am completely alone… Once I am about to start circling back I see something that makes me change my mind.

I break through the cover of the trees, now I will be able to get an accurate count of how many Oni are behind me before circling back for the others. I however quickly start to break out in a cold sweat… 5… 15…30… Dozens maybe even 100 Oni pour from the forest…

They will never stop, so I will take as many as I can then regroup with the others. I don’t stop moving but I also start to arch around so I can launch spells at the Oni. Spell after spell I let loose drops Oni after Oni, but they just still keep coming.

Not only that but casting and moving in an arch means they are starting to get closer and closer. The only saving grace is every Oni we have ever seen has the exact same equipment, those stupid clubs. Even the Oni Generals just have larger uglier clubs. If there were any mages or archers I wouldn’t stand a chance.

I don’t know how many Oni I have killed but one or two have dropped with every single spell I have cast. I have casted over two dozen spells, but it doesn’t seem to have even made a dent in the amount of Oni. I have now gone through about half of my magic so I decide that without the others I can’t do any more.

When I finally do circle back I have lost enough ground that if I make a mistake now the Oni will be right on top of me. The Oni are close enough on my heels now I can hear their breaths. I quickly toss a few spells trying to down a couple trees to maybe slow them down a bit.

It helps a bit, but when I reach the location where I left the others I don’t see them anywhere… I said five minutes and it has been closer to 30. Opening [Menu] and fighting with [Communication] right now while running through the forest will surely trip me up, so I can only hope they headed in the direction they seen me disappear too.

I feel one of the Oni’s clubs graze my back. That chainmail the village had made for me really did its job. Another hit though and it might not do much damage to my hp but it might slow me down and that right now would prove fatal…

I finally break the cover of the trees again and off in the distance I can see the others.

“What the hell where you all thinking!?” –I scream out to them.-

I need to turn and start fighting before I catch up with the others, but if I slow down even in the slightest the Oni will be on top of me. I start focusing my magic empowering a spell to its fullest, I know it won’t hold but it may give me just enough time…

I dive forward and quickly let loose the [Stone Pillar] spell it causes a little damage to me as it launches right underneath me, but it lifts me up in the air out of the reach of the Oni, for at least a few seconds. I really wish I had more defensive magic instead of all attack magic. [Stone Wall] would be far more useful right about now…

I quickly start throwing spells down into the crowd underneath me. Unlike [Stone Wall], [Stone Pillar]  doesn’t last very long, but it can’t take damage either. After only throwing two or three spells into the crowd I cast another stone pillar a few feet away launching several Oni into the air.

I quickly jump to the other pillar just as the first collapses but only have time to regain my footing and throw one more spell before I have to cast [Stone Pillar] yet again. The rest of the group has their weapons drawn and are quickly heading my direction, but they are still far enough that even Saki’s spells still cannot reach.

An Oni manages to stay on top next [Stone Pillar] without being thrown clear so instead of casting into the crowd I have to attack it with my staff as I jump across. It almost manages to shove me off, but I manage to end it and cast another [Stone Pillar] just in time.

The cost of [Stone Pillar] is negligible, but my magic continues to wane, and I am now not even killing any Oni, but simply hopping from one [Stone Pillar] to the next. Saki’s spells however have started to hit the Oni, so the others should join the fray quite soon.

Yet again the Oni’s singular devotion of wanting me dead proves to be their downfall, as they completely ignore the others cutting them down, while they mindlessly try to climb the pillars as I hop around…

I don’t know how many times I cast [Stone Pillar] but by the time the Oni have finally been cleared I collapse on the ground…

Yuji: “Thank goodness you are safe Mistress…”

“I told you to wait…”

Akane: “We waited the five minutes, and then we heard the sound of combat. We thought you might have got pinned in so we tried to rush to your aid.”

“Well don’t let your guard down, we may be out of the forest, but that is far from the end of the Oni.”

We are all are exhausted, but I want to put in a bit more ground between us and the forest, so we continue to move till after midnight. The main advantage of being out of the forest we can see far and wide. Just with the light of the moon we can see the Oni long before they get near and Saki, or myself deals with them before they get close.

We finally have no choice but to rest for a few hours. I only have a small bit of magic left, but Saki is not only physically drained but magically as well, so I have Satoshi charge me up a bit with his ability to transfer magic. I then let Satoshi and Saki get some rest.

“After they sleep a few hours I will let you two go to sleep.”

Yuji: “What about you?”

“We need spells, so I will let them get as much sleep as possible. I when I wake them I will the rest the rest of the night.”

The night is pretty quiet after that though. The occasional Oni has to be dealt with but the Oni Generals should be behind us for now… After waking Saki and Satoshi I then get some rest, but it feels like I just closed my eyes and Akane is already waking me up.

Akane: “Mistress… It’s time.”

I nod, get up, dust myself off, and we then set out on day two…

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