Chapter 3: Pulchritudinous Panacea

Wherein a revelation is uncovered

Kagari’s constitution continues to worsen as the travellers head into a rural area. Tatsuya has expressed an irrational dislike of Kagari, which spurs Hiiro to accuse Kazuo of hiding information about the girl. Sen also suspects demonic possession may be at work, and the party clashes about whether escorting her to an unknown destination is wise. Kazuo proves unwilling to break his oath of secrecy to his master about the reason for the journey.

The group finds itself pursued by an okuri-inu as they continue; this “send-along wolf” does not attack and, according to Sen and Genbe, should not be dangerous if everyone keeps their wits about them. The next morning they enter a small farming village with a dwindling population. Some women greet them warmly, others with disdain. Travelling the village as a monk offering prayers, Kazuo finds that the town is supposedly “protected” from the plague by the town head Noboru’s companion Kaori. Kaori used to live alone in the nearby mountain until Noboru’s father died on a hunting trip. While no man has died of the plague during her tenure, many women in town bitterly report that their devoted sons and husbands suddenly vanished, abandoning their families and setting off into the mountains with no explanation.

As Kagari is getting very ill, the party leaves her with local midwife Toko, a no-nonsense elderly woman who dislikes Kaori and is housing a young boy who has the plague in her own home while trying to help him. She takes in Kagari for the night while Sen, Ren, and Genbe head to Noboru’s house to see what’s up with the town’s suspicious state. The maid answered, thoroughly at the end of her rope with Kaori’s abuse, but sees them into the sitting room. Genbe follows her to the courtyard where he talks to her while helping with laundry. He finds that Kaori is a tyrant, who runs the town for her own benefit while sending Noboru on constant hunts. The maid reports Noboru has not had a thought of his own in his head for months and used to be hardworking and considerate. Genbe pays the maid a large enough sum to move to the city and better her life. Meanwhile in the sitting room Kaori has rudely confronted Sen and Ren for waking her from her nap, and quickly enchants Ren after he flirts with her. Fully under the witch’s spell Ren lures his friends into the forest that night where he tries to convince Kazuo to turn on the others with him. Kazuo sees through Kaori’s enchantment and confronts her. However, she attacks with the Okuri-inu, which is enthralled under her command. Desperate combat ensues; Sen’s druidic abilities prove the key to the witch’s undoing. Striking both her and Ren down with lightning, Sen manages to free her comrade, and everyone is released from the spells controlling them. The witch was in fact an old woman disguised with illusions, who had been controlling Noboru after killing his father. The town’s state was her fault; each time a man fell ill, she convinced him to walk off to his doom, death at the hands of the okuri-inu.

The next morning the party collects Kagari from a troubled Toko. Toko reports that Kagari is 3 months pregnant, the source of her woes. Kazuo reveals he knew this all along, but had been sworn to secrecy. However, Toko is surprised to find that a mere healing incantation from Kagari has completely cured the sick child. Realizing the implications of this information getting out, the group decides to fool the town. Kazuo reveals himself to be a kitsune, and teams up with Sen and Sora to use this to his advantage. With the aid of a little magic he poses as the kami Okanari incarnate, and “cures” the child himself, sending him off to spread the word before our heroes make a hasty exit.


TadWick TadWick

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