Chapter 109: Helping Inari

 

Only with a short message from Madam Erin asking for help, Belinda, Roxy, Zoey, Azami, and I find ourselves being dragged along on a trip all the way to Shima. Madam Erin quickly abandoned us in Inari’s dungeon saying she would explain and then took off. After arriving in Inari’s home we finally had a chance to catch our breath enough for Inari to explain the situation.

The Oni, as the locals call them, are on a rise over the entire island of Shima. When they grew in numbers like that in this forest, that is when they took out the town, so if that is the case other villages might soon be in danger. Inari and Madam Erin have however seemed to come up with a plan.

Inari: “And that is all there is too it. When we are done we are to contact Madam Erin and she will either come get you in the same fashion you arrived, or if little sis can’t get back in position Madam Erin will have to come get you in the fashion she used to travel to Shima, but if we can avoid that it would really help.”

Belinda: “I am surprised Madam Erin is willing to do all this just to help you out like this.”

Inari: “I think her motives behind it are that if we succeed here, then maybe we can start having new dungeon cores in Shima again.”

“I don’t understand, if you are the only one that can do it then how will that help a new dungeon core?”

Inari: “By the wording of the skill it sounds like even though I have to spend the xp the area doesn’t technically count as my dungeon, I would have to place an imitation crystal to start it, but we could then expand the area large enough for a new dungeon.”

“That still sounds like a lot of “if it works” and “maybes”.”

Inari: “Worst case scenario I lose an imitation dungeon, but if everything does work then I would be like an empress.”

“That’s a bit optimistic isn’t it?”

Inari: “What else would you call it? The new dungeons would have to protect my imitation crystal to protect their dungeon as well, and in turn have to protect my primary dungeon for the same reason. I could issue a call to arms, or even punish them by limiting their growth if I wanted to.”

“And Madam Erin was ok with all this?”

Inari: “I just mentioned placing a secondary dungeon. She was the one that came up with the rest. I think Madam Erin and Dyson are starting to plan for a future without the other elders in it, and if the new cores in Shima have to listen to me, then Madam Erin and Dyson will only have to get me on board for whatever they are planning, and the rest of the Shima cores would have to follow.”

“You are ok with Dyson and Madam Erin using you like that?”

Inari: “They might be using me, but I would be the one that holds the power. Kenta and you seemed to have no problem entering my dungeon, but Madam Erin and Dyson can’t, and I am not too sure that doesn’t include their monsters as well. Meaning if they want me to do something I don’t want to, I just have to tell them no and there isn’t much they can do about it, but to prevent that I am sure they will make it well worth my while. For starters Madam Erin even mentioned gifting me additional imitation crystals. Now I don’t have any problem with xp, but at 1 million xp for the first and the price increasing by 1 million for every imitation crystal afterwards that is a hell of a deal.”

Belinda: “I am worried for you though… Putting that much trust in Madam Erin and Dyson…”

“Not to mention the trust in that god of yours… We have had a little run in with a group claiming to serve the old gods and I am not too sure I would want to put my trust in any of them.”

Inari: “Inari has done nothing but help me, and doing this will also benefit the humans as well by making safe havens from the Oni, and that seems to be the thing that Inari cares the most about.”

“You still haven’t attacked any humans with your dungeon yet. If humans are what Inari cares about then what happens when you or one of the new cores do?”

Inari: “I don’t know, but I believe that this is the reason I am here.”

Belinda: “If this is truly what you want to do, then your father and I are behind you all the way.”

“Well, have you made up your mind where you are going to place it?”

Inari: “I want to stake a claim on that cave where we destroyed that corrupt dungeon, but if the Oni really are on the rise around the entire island I think we need to find another poorly defended village. I thought about the capital but they have large stone walls, so even if the Oni did like they did here the capital should be able to hold out far better.”

“It seems like you have this well-handled, so I am still a little confused why we are here.”

Inari: “I think Madam Erin wants to know if this is all going to work the way she hopes, and if she can’t enter [Inari’s Providence] I think she was hoping you could, so you could report back to her.”

Belinda: “Couldn’t you just message her and tell her?”

Inari: “I think she is a little worried I might hold something back.”

Belinda: “Does she think your father or I will be more honest?”

Inari: “Well with Daddy being the Archjusticar now it would be part of his job. It’s alright though, because I have no intention of hiding anything and it gives me the chance to see you all again. If it works once a few more dungeon cores are born then maybe we could see each other whenever we want as well.”

Belinda: “That would be great!”

“When do you want to set out?”

Inari: “I know it was pretty early when you all left home, but it already starting to get pretty late here, so just relax, my home is your home, and we can set out first thing in the morning.”

The muscular fox next to Inari then speaks to me. “Master, if it would be alright I would like to speak with you privately.”

“Master? Well I guess it’s alright.”

Inari: “Alright while the guys have their little talk, why don’t the rest of us go take a bath? I would love to know what you think about it Mommy.”

Belinda agrees and Zoey gets looks around the room getting rather excited, but Roxy shuts her down.

Roxy: “Thank you Inari, but for obvious reasons I think your Aunt Zoey and I will have to pass for now.”

Inari: “It’s really quite alright, we are all family here. I wouldn’t even mind if we all could enjoy the bath together, but Takeshi is stubborn and still won’t join the others. I do understand though if you’re not comfortable with it.”

Belinda looks a little nervous looking at Satoshi, Akihito, and Yuji. “Maybe I will just wait.”

Inari: “Alright… Fine just the ladies only then.”

Zoey seems to get excited again and Roxy sighs.

Roxy: “Fine, I guess it’s alright, but hand over the ring!”

Zoey: “But!”

Roxy: “She said ladies so hand it over!”

Zoey’s ears droop as she takes the ring off of her finger and puts it in Roxy’s hands.

“Wait, why were you even wearing it? Never mind, I don’t want to know…”

Inari then leads all the women towards the back of the house, all except one that is.

“Azami, you’re one of the ladies, why don’t you go as well?”

Azami: “Must I…?”

“As you said, it would be a good bonding experience.”

Azami doesn’t look happy about it but she stands following the rest of the women.

“Now Takeshi, was it? What can I do for you?”

He looks over at the other men and they seem to get the idea and they clear out as well.

Takeshi then quickly kneels pulling a small Shima style blade from his waist that is the size of a large dagger. He then presents the blade to me and says.

Takeshi: “I have protected your daughter as promised, but I also broke my other promise, so I offer you my life.”

“Wait… What are you talking about?”

Takeshi: “I have done myself a great dishonor by taking your daughter into my bed, and I can offer no excuses for my actions, so I offer my life to ask your forgiveness.”

“I’m still lost…I was under the impression that Inari and you are lovers”

Takeshi: “And in doing so I broke my vow to you that I would never lay my hands on your daughter. I understand if you do not forgive me, but my life is the most I can offer.”

“I’m still missing something here… Do you care for Inari?”

Takeshi: “Of course, I love you daughter very much, but that is no excuse for breaking my vow.”

“I don’t know what this vow you are talking about, but if you care for Inari, and she obviously cares for you by the way she was gushing about you when she was telling Belinda all about it, I don’t see the problem.”

Takeshi: “But I am just a mere servant summoned by you to be her shield.”

“Under that logic, anyone that is part of the dungeon would be a servant as well, and if Inari couldn’t make her lover part of her dungeon she would then have to suffer them growing old and dying on her over and over again. Are you saying that is what I would want for her?”

Takeshi: “I was just to be her shield, but if you summoned for her a lover then it would sure to be alright.”

“Then why not you?”

Takeshi: “I’m sorry?”

“If you will be Inari’s shield protecting her with your very life, I couldn’t ask more than someone like that to be my daughter’s lover. If you are saying you want my permission then you have it. If you make each other happy, then it makes me happy and I know Belinda would feel the same.”

Takeshi: “You honor me Master…”

“Now stand up. Belinda and I may treat Inari as our daughter, but we are both still dungeon cores, so as Inari’s lover you calling me Master, or bowing your head to me, I would think would be a dishonor to her.”

Takeshi stands sheathing the small dagger and lightly bows.

Takeshi: “Then if not master then please allow me to call you father.”

Takeshi looks to be my age or even a little older, and is definitely far more muscular, him calling me father seems odd somehow, but if it puts this strange conversation behind us…

“I believe that is between you and Inari, but unless she has an objection to is I guess it will be alright. Now where did the other men go off too? We should all get together and have a drink, because I could definitely use one right about now…”

Takeshi: “I could call them, but alcohol is rather scarce here. I do believe Yuji has a bottle stashed away, and although I do not drink I will gather them if that is you like father.”

Inari, Maeve, Dawn, and Twilight when they called me daddy or papa it seemed kind of nice, but this muscular man calling me father definitely is going to take some getting used to…

“Yes I remember now Inari telling me about that when she and Yuji were at the house. I would hate to get into Yuji’s private stash, but I did share mine with him so it wouldn’t hurt to ask at least.”

With that me and the four fox beastkin are sitting around the table diving into a bottle of Shima style alcohol. It’s quite different then what I am used to, quite a bit stronger as well. Even with the one bottle we all manage to get pleasantly drunk.

I even manage to take Takeshi into participating, and by the time the bottle is empty the women have returned from their bath. Inari is standing there with her hands on her hips and her cheeks puffed out as she says.

Inari: “Daddy! What did I tell you about getting my monsters drunk?”

“It’s not mine!”

Yuji: “I’m sorry Mistress. He let me drink his while I was there so I wanted to return the favor.”

Inari: “You even got Takeshi drunk!”

Takeshi: “I am sorry Inari, father made a compelling argument, and I felt it wrong to refuse him.”

Belinda pats Inari on the back with a smile and Inari looks shocked at first but then her face forms a mischievous smile.

Inari: “There is nothing that can be done about it now… But we have a long day tomorrow so we should get to bed early.” –She says grabbing Takeshi’s arm.-

Takeshi: “Please be gentle…”

The rest of us retire as well. Belinda and I were going to stay in the main house, but after we learned of the paper thin walls leaving much to be desired for the sake of reducing noise we decided to sleep in the building where Yuji, Satoshi, and Akihito are set up in.

The next morning when we gather together Inari looks rather tired as she yawns and says.

Inari: “Daddy, I made up my mind. This has to work, if for no other reason than that I can trade with you for some alcohol.”

Inari then tries to gain some composure as she addresses the room.

Inari: “Alright, there has been a small change of plans. Yuji, I will ask you to remain here with Chika and the others and I will take Takeshi along with me this time instead. That means with Akane and Takeshi with us, you are in charge, I can count on you right Yuji?”

Yuji: “Yes Mistress! I promise I will not let you down!”

Inari: “Good, now I am sure the villagers are going to be quite curious about our guests, but remember they aren’t to know Mommy and Daddy are among them or it could lead to some questions we aren’t quite ready to answer. Depending on how much the Oni slow us down we are only expecting to be gone a week at most, but if the set up for the secondary dungeon leads to any kind of problems it may take us longer.”

Akane: “Mistress… If Yuji is staying behind can I speak to him privately for a few minutes?”

Inari: “Just don’t take too long.” –She says with a smirk-

Akane nods and grabs Yuji dragging him from the room.

Inari: “Alright, while they have their talk I guess I will go to my room and make sure I have everything I need.”

Inari tries to leave but Takeshi grabs her arm and shakes his head.

Inari: “But…!” –She sighs. – “Fine, but you owe me.”

Inari then sits back down crossing her arms while we discuss our plan of action. When Akane and Yuji finally return their tails are intertwined and they are holding hands, but as they let go of each other Akane has a bitter-sweet expression on her face.

I didn’t realize they were lovers as well, and by the expression on Akane’s face they must really be close, because even though we are only expected to be gone a week the look on her face almost looks like they are not just saying bye for now but goodbye.

I guess it makes sense that Inari will have monsters to watch this new dungeon of hers, but I was under the impression she was going to summon new ones not have any of her current ones stay behind. Besides she surely could transfer between dungeons, and wouldn’t break them up like that intentionally.

“Inari, are you sure we shouldn’t take Yuji along as well?”

I was trying to help, but somehow my comment seemed to make matters worse though because Akane’s face looks even more pained.

Inari: “With this ring now I need to catch up in levels, and with Takeshi officially joining my dungeon this morning!” –She says with a bright smile and puffing out her chest.- “He needs to catch up to the rest as well.”

Inari’s comment seemed to improve the mood because Akane then smiles and says.

Akane: “Congratulations Mistress I am happy for you.”

Yuji: “About time Takeshi, that’s why you made the change to who is going. Don’t think I am going to slack off though, I will make sure I train extra hard to make sure I stay the Mistress’s primary boss monster!”

Inari: “Good, I will hold you to that then! If you drop from being the primary boss monster be prepared to face the punishment.”

Yuji now looks a little nervous but he says. “Understood!”

We then set off out of the house, after passing through the gate and up the stairs a muscular human about Logan’s age seems to have been waiting to ambush us. I can’t understand what he and Inari are talking about, but they seem to be on good terms although Inari seems to be trying to rush him along.

Inari then seems to send a message with [Menu] and Chika quickly makes her way up the stairs with a bright smile on her face. She seems to work herself into the conversation then manages to get the man’s attention long enough for us to slip away.

Inari: “That was pretty close. I knew they would be curious but I didn’t expect him to ambush us like that.”

We make our way to the surface and to the edge of the square temple grounds.

Inari: “This is going to probably be intense from the moment we step off of here, and if the new dungeon doesn’t work it might stay that way the entire time until we return. Is everyone ready?”

Inari’s Monsters: “Yes Mistress!”

We then set out.

Inari wasn’t joking… We have been taking it slow and steady. It took us two days to make it out of the forest, and two more across the plains and I don’t think a single moment of it at least one of us are fighting one of the Oni creatures.

They are not much trouble to deal with, but if they hit your dungeon like this non-stop I can see why all of the Shima dungeons eventually fell. Sleeping has been rather difficult with the constant battle, but Azami and her “friends” are a big help.

I know I am not mistaking it now, but her “friends” really are starting to look less grotesque, and there is now even a semblance of a humanoid shape too them. I can’t be for certain but maybe Moss being with Azami wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I just hope the poor little guy survives it.

We have reached the half-way point, and we have arrived at the small village that Inari decided to place her imitation crystal, but there seems to be one major problem…

Inari: “We are too late…”

Takeshi: “There was no way to know the Oni would attack the village like this it was months after the Oni Generals arrived back at the forest before they went through the fence, we were not even sure it wasn’t the fact that we had gone in and out of the village that they attacked it to begin with.”

Inari: “That doesn’t change the fact the village is gone! 70 families, that is what Tatsuo said this village should have had in it… That is about the same amount Kabemura lost in the attack. If the Oni really have gotten this much more aggressive then how many more villages around Shima are suffering the same fate?”

“The truth is we can’t do anything about that. We don’t know why there has been the sudden increase of these Oni creatures, but we can only do what we can.”

Inari: “Of course we know. It’s their answer to us destroying one of their dungeons. 30 years they never got worse. We destroyed one of the dungeons and then this happens.”

Takeshi: “Your father is right, there isn’t any way to know for sure if that was the cause or not, and even if it was it still isn’t your fault. You couldn’t just leave it there to continue spewing out Oni.”

Akane: “I would say we should find somewhere a bit safer to discuss this but there really isn’t such a place. Are you going to place the imitation crystal and then try to rebuild the village, or should we move on?”

Inari: “I am sorry Daddy, but this may take longer than we expected… Will you please still help us till we find another location?”

Belinda: “Of course we will.”

Inari and her monsters, and me and mine have been taking turns dealing with the Oni, so that both of our dungeons are capable of gathering xp, and after a week of traveling in this manner we have each gained a lot.

Inari: “That’s another one… That makes three villages, and that’s just the ones we know of. Maybe it’s all of them…”

Takeshi: “Don’t talk like that Inari…”

Inari: “Why did Inari even give me this ability to save more lives if everyone is already gone!”

Saki: “You can’t think like that Mistress. Maybe Inari saw what was coming and gave you that power so you can save the ones that are left.”

Inari: “But every village we have come too has been destroyed already.”

“Maybe instead of focusing on the small villages then we should head for one of the larger ones. Each one of these villages should have been 50 to 100 families. Maybe we should look towards ones that are larger than that?”

Akane: “There should be one about two days north east of here, maybe three with the way the Oni have been bothering us.”

Inari: “Two days north east is almost to the capital. I wanted to try to protect one of the more remote villages.”

Akane: “The only other one I have heard about in the size we are looking for would be five days due east on the coast.”

Inari: “What do you think Daddy?”

“With the crazy way the dungeon magic works in Shima we can’t be for certain if you can transfer from one dungeon to the other like a normal core, but if you can, having the capital close at hand would be quite useful. That being said if a new dungeon core is placed in Shima having a new core right on the coast might better connect Shima to the mainland.”

Inari: “Daddy that doesn’t help…”

“What does your gut tell you?”

Inari: “Would you be willing to stick it out with us for 5 more days?”

“Lead the way.”

Truth be told, the amount of xp we have been gathering here with Inari has been more than enough of a reason to spend a month here. Sure you would eventually get tired of looking over your shoulder twenty-four hours a day, but if we can establish a connection to Shima I am very tempted in spending a lot more time here just to train the girls and gather more xp.

Then again after another week passes, and we can begin to smell the salt in the air from the ocean I have had about all of these red goblins then I can take…

Just to be on the safe side we left communication parchment in Inari’s dungeon, but so far she has been able to keep in touch with them with messages, and we have keep Madam Erin informed as well.

We did have a little scare when we received word about a fire in one of Faron’s churches but as it turns out it had nothing to do with the group of beastkin, and the fire wasn’t even severe enough that the damage couldn’t be repaired.

Before we see the actual village we are heading to we hear the sounds of the coast and even can make out a few boats coming in and out of port so it appears at least for now the village is still safe. Once we arrive they do seem to have met with quite the damage.

Makeshift walls made from scrapped boats and overturned carts, branches with fish bones tied to them for makeshift spears drove into the ground, and bodies… The sea birds are having a feast on mounds of Oni corpses.

It seems they have been dumping the bodies into the ocean, but they are just stacking up faster than they can remove them. When one of the sentries sees us approach there are several calls, horns, and whistles blown before the entire town comes under alert.

The Oni have still not stopped attacking us so it does appear we are dragging Oni towards the village I guess. Everyone holds a defensive line while Inari and I approach the town. A man exits from between some of the makeshift walls and starts talking in the Shima language.

He does seem very happy to see us though I do think I hear him say something about Inari though. After Inari says something back he apologizes with a heavy accent.

Man: “I sorry.”

Inari: “He said he was starting to think they were the only ones left alive in Shima. He said he doesn’t speak much of the language from the mainland.”

“That’s alright, this is your show, and I am just along for the ride.”

Inari starts to talk to the man again in the Shima language. I guess Inari has started to tell him what we are doing here, Inari had it all worked out, but still if a stranger comes up to you telling you they were sent by god to possibly save their town you would have the same look that this man has on his face.

After they speak back and forth for a while Inari then says.

Inari: “He thinks I am crazy.”

“I don’t think I really blame him.”

Inari: “I know we expected this, I was kind of hoping they had some kind of shrine or something of Inari, but most of the people here are travelers so it would be easier to expect followers of Faron.”

“So what now?”

Inari: “Phase two, make them believers.”

Inari turns back to the man says a few words then lightly bows to him before turning away from him.

Inari: “Alright Daddy, go help the others and leave the rest to me. This may take me a little while.”

I return to the others and we give Inari plenty of space, the men on guard of the town look rather confused as does the man Inari spoke to. Inari then takes the staff spinning it around several times in a theatrical manor, and when she points it to the ground two foxes appear from thin air.

The foxes are covered mostly in snow white fur from the tips of their ears down to the tips of their tails in which case each has two of. The only parts of their bodies not covered in snow white furs are red streaks though their furs that form unique patterns.

The foxes then stay close by her side as she draws out a large square in the dirt, roughly the size of a standard sized room. She then begins casting a spell and from the line sprouts a large stone box sealing Inari and the two foxes inside.

She really is milking this for all it’s worth it seems… I then turn my focus to the battle ahead of me.

Inari’s PoV

I can’t help to feel greatly relieved that I managed to pull that off without a hitch. After we returned home after destroying that corrupted dungeon I quickly learned the [Stone Wall] spell as it would have made my life so much easier.

I haven’t really used it since learning it, but I tried to copy Madam Erin’s example when I formed this box. This particular stone wall isn’t very thick, but Daddy and the rest will keep the Oni off of me I just need it so the humans can’t see what I am doing.

Midori and Aoi have grown quite a bit fiercer since the dungeon excursion and after my skill ranked up they even both grew another tail. I pet them lightly on the head thanking them for their part of the show and decide it’s time to get to work.

I take out the small pebble from my pocket that is the unused imitation crystal and set it down on the ground.

Imitation crystal has been placed. Placing an imitation crystal in the current location will result in the creation of a secondary dungeon, and the decision cannot be undone. Do you wish to proceed?

“Yes.”

I am really going to knock the socks off the locals by having a full shrine standing here by the time the [Stone Wall] comes down, but for now I need to make sure they don’t find out it’s a dungeon.

I add a floor down accepting the notice about it being a dungeon with only sub-levels, and then create a basement. From the basement I add a trap door adding another floor down starting the dungeon. For now I just place a single room and move the imitation crystal down to it.

I then begin working on the temple of Inari, It is nothing to fancy but it covers the entire area I have blocked off by the [Stone Wall] I then throw in a shrine and several fox statues for good measure. Now comes the moment of truth.

Do you wish to place [Inari’s Providence]? This decision cannot be undone, and will remain as long as Inari wills it.

“Yes…”

I watch my xp plummet as I increase the size of [Inari’s Providence] stretching it to cover the entire town raises its cost to a staggering 1.5 million xp, but even though that cost does hurt it was within my prediction…

With the cost of the imitation crystal at 1 million xp, the 1.5 million for [Inari’s Providence], then the small temple, shrine, a basement, and a single dungeon room underneath my total xp expenditure is 2.6 million xp…

2.6 million xp is a massive amount for a single dungeon room, but that isn’t the important part. Right now this should keep the town safe from the Oni and maybe bring more followers to Inari… I guess it’s safe to say I really am a devote follower of Inari now.

“Oh Inari I beg you please let this work…”

I take a deep breath, pet Aoi and Midori on the head and hit the finalize button as I release the [Stone Wall].

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