Campione!:Volume 7 Chapter1
 Part 1
The sun had already set, and the Nikkou Toushouguu was welcoming the arrival of night.
The Okusha inner shrine for venerating the divine monarch Tokugawa Ieyasu was around 200m away from the worship and main halls.
The corner of Okusha had been transformed into a bare mountain top, with all the lush cedar trees originally surrounding the shrine completely gone. A young girl was in the sky, looking down upon the bare mountain.
She was wearing a miko outfit with a white garment and a red hakama while standing on a golden cloud hovering in the air.
Her face obscured by a mask like a monkey's visage, she was holding the Ruyi Jingu Bang in her hands. This unassuming-looking iron staff was the legendary weapon with innumerable victories under its name.
"Yes, it looks like I'll need to change these clothes to something more appropriate to my stature."
The girl — no, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, Sun Wukong, who had stolen Mariya Hikari's body, spoke thus.
The miko outfit transformed into a yellow costume decorated with intricate black and green embroidery. Its sleeves reached down to the ankles, two very long open slits were on the sides of the outfit, and red pants were worn underneath.
It was the costume known as "Kao" in Beijing opera.
The monkey mask was also moved to the side, revealing Hikari's face and the golden-gaze fiery-eyes — namely, eyeballs of red and pupils of gold.
"Very well, this works for now. Everyone, thank you for your patience!"
The people looking up to watch this transformation were the five humans Kusanagi Godou, Cult Leader Luo Hao, Erica Blandelli, Liliana Kranjcar and Lu Yinghua.
"Finishing off two godslayers at the same time would be rather tricky... No, in a certain sense, this is a perfect opportunity. Hohoho, even heavenly fate is on my side this once."
The Great Sage Equaling Heaven spoke contradictory words, and then his divine power began to expand greatly.
What was with this power!? Godou was very surprised. The power displayed here far surpassed every deity he had encountered so far — Melqart, Athena, Perseus.
"Perhaps this snake might come in handy after all, so let me take her with me."
Lying on the bare mountain top was the beautiful young girl with wounds all over her body. Her name was something like Asherah.
The Great Sage on the golden cloud extended his Ruyi Staff and lightly poked the witch on the ground. In an instant, Asherah's body disappeared as if he had performed a magic trick.
"Appearances aside, you have at least recovered the nature of [Steel]... Very well, Great Sage! Now is the time for a decisive end to things!"
Luo Hao yelled with a high-pitched voice at the Great Sage, who had restored his Ruyi Staff to its original length.
However, her body was still shaking and it looked like her injuries had yet to recover.
In order to save Hikari, Godou also intended to challenge the Great Sage, but his body couldn't move. This was the after effect of using the [Raptor] incarnation, which currently paralyzed his body and made his heart suffer intense pain.
"Godou, if you were to challenge him in your current condition, I believe it would be a very tough battle."
"Yes, even though I understand very well your wish to retrieve Mariya Hikari's body, you and Her Eminence Luo Hao both need to rest and recover your powers. We would do well to retreat for now."
From his side, Erica gave a warning and Liliana also made a suggestion to Godou.
Godou agreed. However, the question was whether the Great Sage would let him leave.
"So let us end the intertwining of our fates which started long ago. Though there are two of you here, I will take care of you both together."
Just as suspected, the Great Sage was smiling with mockery using Hikari's face, and even spoke with her voice.
Standing on the golden cloud, he was coldly overlooking everything across the land. However, his eyes only saw Luo Hao and Kusanagi Godou as targets while completely ignoring all others.
"The earth's condition is receptive devotion / Thus the superior man who has breadth of character / Carries the outer world. Kun is the nature of earth!"
Forming mudra with one hand, the Great Sage began to chant a mantra.
The change suddenly took effect. Petrification. The ground of the now barren mountain of the Nikkou Toushouguu's Okusha inner shrine was completely changed into solid rock, bleached white as if snow had covered the land —
Godou and the rest were standing on ground which turned into grey stone within the blink of an eye.
"Hahahaha! I will use the secret art of the stone mountain's rocky caves to imprison you two!"
In the cedar forest around Okusha — all the trees began turning into stone continuously. With Toushouguu Okusha as the center, the petrification was spreading all around like a wave.
And then Godou's body also gradually lowered into the ground — sinking into rock. First it covered his ankles followed by his knees, and then it immediately reached his waist and would soon cover his chest and finally his head. As he turned his head to the side, he found the transcendent beauty, the other Campione, also sinking into the ground!
"Hmm...! Planning on sealing us away!?"
"Haha, correct! Though you're both injured, I'm not going to underestimate you godslayers... Eh, rather I should say that being injured makes things more frightening because you are a crazy bunch who doesn't follow common sense. I didn't come to revive all this way just to take a stupid risk like that!"
The Great Sage was replying to Luo Hao using Hikari's voice.
"—Godou!" "Kusanagi Godou!?" "Master!"
By the time Erica, Liliana and Lu Yinghua's yells were heard, the two Campiones had almost sunk completely.
Inside the rocks was pitch black, but Godou could still see the sinking beauty beside him.
"Sun Wukong has mastered the Immortal arts, and is a deity with unlimited divine powers. Though he carries the traits of the warlord of [Steel], he is also a god highly skilled in magic. To be imprisoned by such tricks of his, I was far too careless."
Luo Hao was lightly murmuring in the dark.
Godou was going to ignore his chest pain in order to respond, but Luo Hao suddenly smiled.
"Did you use up all your strength in the battle just now? Though it is the privilege of young ones to fight without considering the future, for you to obtain victory from me at such a bargain... King Kusanagi... You are quite something."
"I-I defeated you? Please don't joke with me."
"It is fine. Even though it is officially a draw, taking into account the difference in experience, the victor is apparent. For a renowned master like me to lose to a young upstart like you, it is an unforgivable mistake. I, Luo Hao, am not one of those stupid fools who deceive themselves."
The demonic cult leader showed a slightly displeased expression.
"As the Ruler of the Martial Realm, I approve of your ability. In the match just now, I definitely lost."
Godou was speechless as he endured the pain. The battle to the death just now was only a competition to her, as if having a kendo match and being indignant over thoughts like 'I lost a round to that guy!' Is that how she was feeling?
"By the way, King Kusanagi, do you know magic that allows you to survive without water and air?"
"How could I? Other than the ability to fight gods, I'm just an ordinary person."
Godou's answer to Luo Hao's sudden question plunged her deep into thought.
"I see... If that's the case, it would be best to return you back to the surface."
"Back to the surface!? I can get out of here!?"
"Yes. Until the Great Sage's spell finishes, there is still a window of opportunity. If I use my remaining qi, I can send one of us back to the surface."
Luo Hao's offer was quite surprising, but Godou immediately objected.
"But in that case, Your Eminence will have to stay in the Netherworld!"
"I don't mind. King Kusanagi, have you not noticed? The air here is getting thinner. The Great Sage is not so merciful as to provide food and water for us captives."
Godou had excellent instincts, but Luo Hao was a far sharper person than him.
After hearing her explanation, Godou couldn't help but shiver. True, there was no reason for that monkey to treat his prisoners well.
"I am the Ruler of the Martial Realm, the one standing at the pinnacle of Daoist practices. I have long conquered this kind of ascetic training over a hundred years ago, so let me stay."
"Y-You can survive without air and water, that's really amazing. But still!"
"No problem. If I abandon you and return to the surface alone... Just the thought of that brings a horrible outcome!"
"Ho... Horrible outcome?"
"Correct. Think about it. If I abandon you who just won our match, rumors will begin to spread, saying I took revenge for my defeat. I will be seen as a despicable scoundrel who has betrayed the path of heroism and chivalry!"
"Ah... I see now."
Facing Luo Hao's voluptuous figure, Godou nodded.
It was a declaration that deliberately downplayed the benevolence of her offer. She was truly a person with exceptional pride.
"Of course, I don't plan on being submerged here forever, I will surely find a way to escape... King Kusanagi, in the meantime before I return, you shall have a splendid battle with the Great Sage Equaling Heaven in my stead."
Was this the price of accepting her help? She was now ordering him like a subordinate.
Still, Godou felt troubled. Can this stone prison be as easy to destroy as she said?
"No problem... I've already spoken, I am the one at the Daoist pinnacle, and will surely find this prison's weakness and destroy it. You don't have to worry."
The slight anger of Luo Hao's reproach showed that she had read his concerns.
"Then let's start — Great Sage of the Seven Stars of the Big Dipper, dispel the disaster of the inauspicious spirits!"
Using a beautiful voice melodic like a yueqin, Luo Hao chanted the incantation, and took out a rectangular piece of paper. On it was written complicated script along with the six large characters "Ba Gua Zhi Jing Ji Ji", and then she threw this talisman away.
The talisman transformed into a white tiger. Then flying through the air, the ferocious beast attacked Godou.
The white tiger opened its great jaws and the fangs skillfully caught Godou's neck and lifted him. Godou found his body rising continuously.
Within the blink of an eye, he was greatly distanced from the slowly sinking Luo Hao.
"King Kusanagi, I wish you victory. Go fight a battle worthy of a hero."
The transcendent beauty continued to maintain her airs of superiority and spoke these parting words to Godou.
 Part 2
In the space of black emptiness, Godou and the white tiger flew upwards.
This probably lasted only a couple dozens of seconds, and he suddenly left the darkness and returned to the surface.
This was the area of Toushouguu Okusha, which had been turned to stone. Having stolen Mariya Hikari's body, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven continued to casually ride his cloud.
On the ground, Liliana was in a battle stance, wielding a naginata that Godou had never seen before, while Erica endured her injuries to hold Cuore di Leone and Lu Yinghua extended his palms.
Their gazes were drawn to the returned Godou.
Having accomplished its mission of bringing Godou back, the white tiger disappeared like a puff of smoke.
"Godou, you came back safely! But where is Her Eminence Luo Hao?"
"She fell down in order to save me, but she said she will escape by her own power."
Godou answered Erica's question simply.
Since he was still in his immobilized condition, the act of speaking took great effort. With an understanding expression, Lu Yinghua nodded at Godou.
"That's very like one of Master's typical excuses. She probably thought that if she abandoned Kusanagi-sama and came back alone, unpleasant rumors would spread about her in the field."
Apparently quite knowledgeable in his master's personality, Lu Yinghua's answer was completely correct.
"Ho — escaping alone? Looks like you guys are just as difficult to handle as I expected."
Sitting on his cloud, the Great Sage began to swing his Ruyi Staff around.
Liliana held her breath and gathered her concentration as she ran over to Godou's side.
"Everyone gather together! We are flying to the foot of the mountain to meet up with Mariya Yuri and the rest!"
She was likely planning on using the technique of high speed [Flight].
But could they really escape? ...One really couldn't expect Sun Wukong's legendary somersault-cloud to be slower than witchcraft. Just as these worries crossed Godou's mind...
"Hmph, trying to escape is futile. Old Sun here is very confident in my lightning speed. Even far into the distance, a hundred and eight thousand li away, I can cover it with a single leap — Hmm!?"
On his cloud, the Great Sage grabbed his knees and screamed as if suffering from an invisible attack.
Though his overwhelming divine power remained, his body was not acting under his control.
"I am not sure what is going on, but here is our chance!"
Seeing the Great Sage undergoing some unexpected change, Liliana held Godou's body in her arms.
Erica and Lu Yinghua also gathered around and the entire group began to fly, surrounded by blue light.
Once the destination was decided, flight magic had to immediately take off and cannot travel to an unfamiliar destination.
Though it had many restrictions, it was still a very convenient magical technique. The group passed through Toushouguu's main and worship halls, then flew over Karamon Gate and the divine stable. From the sky, they could see that Toushouguu, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinnouji's buildings, cedar forest, land, vegetation and springs had all been turned into stone.
As they landed on the visiting path at the foot of the mountain, Yuri and Princess Alice ran over to them.
"Mariya! I'm sorry, Hikari was taken by that monkey... The Great Sage Equaling Heaven stole her body..."
"Yes, I already know. The Princess used ecto — that method to watch Godou-san and Her Eminence's fight, and told me what just happened."
Just as Godou wanted to apologize, Yuri interrupted him.
The Princess skilled in spirit body separation also nodded at him.
"The entire mountain has been invaded by immense divine power as a result of the Great Sage transforming it into a stone prison for sealing Her Eminence Luo Hao and Kusanagi-sama away. If the spell is not dispelled in a few months or perhaps a few years, Her Eminence may very well be trapped forever —"
Alice's words made everyone survey the surroundings where petrification had already reached the foot of the mountain.
This included Toushouguu's entrance torii, the five-story pagoda near there, the main visiting path leading to the holy sanctum, the cedar forest, the road made from gravel and soil, as well as the drainage ditch on the side of the road.
Everything within their sight had turned into stone, with Godou's group being the exception.
"But... How come you don't seem worried about your master?"
Erica asked Lu Yinghua.
Everyone else looked worried, but he was the only one untroubled.
"Because she is just imprisoned, not dead. Assuming that is the case, let us gamble and see if Master can find a way to free herself alone."
The proper-looking handsome youth scratched his head with poor manners, and answered with a disinterested tone.
"Oh my. On what basis do you make such a statement?"
"Is there any need? Think about it, if the same had happened to your own king, how would you feel? I think all you Nee-sans will worry, but definitely won't write him off as dead, right? It's the same principle."
Lu Yinghua's explanation surprised Erica, but she smiled wryly, while Liliana and Yuri also looked at each other and nodded with emphasis.
Godou wanted to object. Don't talk like I'm some kind of monster!
"Rather than that, I've been curious about this for a while now... Where have all the people, who were here this evening, gone to now? There were no people at all in the area near Master and Kusanagi-sama's battle."
That's right. Lu Yinghua's observation prompted Godou to ponder.
Just at that moment, he felt a presence approaching.
From the depths of the petrified cedar forest, a group of small animals were approaching — monkeys.
There were almost a hundred of them. Many of the monkeys hid in the petrified tree, and were watching Godou's group from amongst the branches they had climbed onto.
"What's with these guys? Did the Great Sage summon wild monkeys?"
"If he did, then there are too many. I have a bad feeling about this."
The one who responded to Godou and Lu Yinghua's doubts was Yuri, who possessed spirit vision:
"These monkeys... No, they were originally humans, transformed into monkeys by the Great Sage's divine power. I am wondering if they are the tourists and people on the streets who had stayed in Nikkou mountain just now..."
The Hime-Miko explained in a trembling voice. When a [Heretic God] appeared on earth, many supernatural phenomena would occur. Was it the transformation of people into monkeys this time?
As Godou felt speechless, a familiar voice was heard through the pitch dark night.
"People of my kingdom, listen well! My enemy the godslayer and his group have escaped! I will reward well the one who catches them!"
It was Hikari's voice, but clearly the Great Sage from the tone.
The monkeys made a noisy ruckus and turned their gaze to Godou's group, their eyes full of murderous intent.
"If they were to attack, as knights... We cannot hit them recklessly. This is not good."
"Very true, try not to harm them and simply make them lose the ability to fight."
As Erica complained, Liliana spoke gloomily. On the other hand, the other main combatant Lu Yinghua looked very relaxed.
"I won't feel sorrow even if I kill them, but there'd still be a shred of guilt. How about letting me prepare us a car to escape?"
"Prepare? Did you guys come here by car?"
The young master of the Lu family smiled at Godou maliciously.
"Of course not, but right now in the nearby parking lot over there, aren't there many cars with owners who had been turned into monkeys? We can have our free pick. Luckily the Lu family has many subordinates with talents in this area, and I picked up a bit of skill from them. Opening locks and driving are not a problem."
Was this guy really a member of upper class society? The one who cleared this doubt was Erica.
"Perhaps you all have misconceptions about this guy, so let me clarify. It is rumored that the ancestors of the Lu family have roots in triads, or in other words, you can call them the likes of gangsters and robbers directly."
"Really, Erica-neesan, please use something a little more classy like 'heroic outlaws', OK?"
Lu Yinghua quietly laughed to himself.
"Probably like the Three Heroes and the Five Gallants or the Outlaws of the Marsh, those who call themselves heroes or martial artists often had roots as outlaws. Tracing back the exploits of the ancestors, they did take part in activities like "thievery", but the Lu family prides itself for never having a member who turned out to be an evil villain."
"Pretty much along the lines of thieves, bandits, pirates, mounted robbers, highwaymen..."
Regarding this triad member who proudly admitted to his roots, Liliana whispered with an impressed tone:
"Though the current situation is dire, if given a choice we should not deliberately break the law... Erica, I will use flight magic once more. Help me stall for time."
"Got it. Please find us a safe hiding place."
As Erica nodded, Liliana closed her eyes. When using flight magic in unfamiliar lands, it was necessary to use vision spells to confirm the destination.
"Embers cast into the black metal cauldron. May the essence of the red wheel appear above my hand!"
Erica chanted the spell words, and fire surrounded Godou and his group.
The one-meter tall flames blocked the gaze and murderous intent of the monkeys like a wall. This was a move intended to restrain and defend against the monkey army.
A few particularly vigorous monkeys tried to make a leap, but the fire wall's height instantly doubled. Burnt by the red tongues of fire, the monkeys noisily retreated to their group.
"Oh... You realized that my servants are actually your fellow humans? How clever! Then I must prepare even more interesting tricks to handle you guys —"
Hikari's voice once again... No, it was the voice of the Great Sage. He seemed a lot craftier than the average monkey, but did not sound like he was going to attack. Perhaps it was true he couldn't fight personally after all?
As Godou was sent into deep thought, Yuri suddenly tried to survey the surroundings.
"Yuri, did your spirit vision see something?"
"Yes, that is correct, Erica-san! Something very dangerous is approaching, a threat that requires high alert, it should be here immediately — everyone, look up!"
Godou turned his gaze upwards and had a great shock.
A monkey was descending from the pitch black darkness of the sky, its fur having a copper color with a shade of orange, with the body size far exceeding normal monkeys. Crash! A massive noise reverberated and the ground shook as it landed.
Descending upon the main visiting path, this monkey was taller than normal cedar trees.
Roughly twelve, thirteen meters in height, it had a strongly-built physique, long arms and short legs, and a stout and giant body resembling something in between a gorilla or an ape.
Erica's wall of flames was likely useless against this guy.
"This is not like the monkeys we met just now — it's a divine beast! A divine monkey beast that serves the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, with strength that probably rivals dragons, and unimaginably powerful!"
Warned by Erica, Godou looked at Liliana.
The silver-haired knight had closed her eyes, but the flight magic was not yet ready.
Yet another giant monkey fell from the sky. Even for Erica and the rest, divine beasts were challenging opponents. For two enemies like that to appear, it looked like they had entered a most desperate crisis.
 Part 3
As the stony ground shook beneath their feet, the two monkeys approached Godou's group.
Lu Yinghua watched them and said:
"Looks like a deadly battle is unavoidable. Kusanagi-sama, I will attack first to attract their attention. Please use this opportunity to escape."
"Wait a minute, I can't let someone I met the first time today do me a favor like that!"
"That's not how it goes. If Kusanagi-san came back in Master's stead, then you are currently her representative. If I don't display my utmost loyalty to you, then I will be punished sooner or later most severely. Think of it as self-preservation."
Godou suddenly began to pity the youth who spoke such words. On further thought, since that woman was his master, he must have led a hard life all these years.
But after seeing Lu Yinghua's detestable smiling face, he immediately changed his mind.
"Besides, as the disciple of Luo Cuilian, I'm not used to fighting with burdens to take care of. So let me fight my battle alone — Nee-san, is this acceptable? I believe none of you here are arrogant enough to think you can keep up with my speed?"
Hearing his audacious words, both female knights nodded reluctantly.
To have the courage and capability to make such boasts to the two genius great knight prodigies, truly, it was a case of 'like master, like disciple.' Godou felt that somehow the master-disciple pair suited each other very well.
Having made clear his intentions, the youth leaped towards the petrified forest, his motions like a bird gliding on its wings. This served the role of an attractive beacon for these monkeys.
The members of the monkey army, whose heights ranged from half a meter up to a full meter, began to pounce after the youth. As wild beasts, these monkeys surpassed normal humans by far in athletic ability despite their small size, and also had sharp claws and fangs.
However, Lu Yinghua was even faster and more agile than the monkeys.
Moving conspicuously through the cedar branches, he nimbly evaded the monkey army's attack. He even used his skill of Tanzhishentong to flick his index and middle fingers to attack the monkeys' foreheads or abdomens. Monkeys that suffered his attacks either fainted or collapsed painfully, struggling as they vomited.
One of the two giant monkeys began to move after Lu Yinghua, its attention captured by his conspicuous movements.
It made a beeline for the youth, forcing its way and pushing down cedar trees. The little monkeys scattered away like spiders in its wake.
Finally, the giant ape reached out with its very long arm, intent on capturing its prey.
Lu Yinghua lightly jumped to a branch on the neighboring tree. While holding the giant ape's attention, he moved between branches like a squirrel and immediately disappeared into the depths of the forest.
The giant ape casually brushed aside the trees (which were now equivalent to stone pillars) as it gave chase.
Its massive body, over ten meters tall, ran like the violent winds of a storm, gradually destroying the petrified cedar forest in its wake with destructive power equivalent to a typhoon. Furthermore, another one of these giant apes still remained near Godou's group.
"Light from the East, show me your mysterious power!"
Princess Alice suddenly chanted spell words and aimed her palm at the remaining giant ape.
An intense flash of light shot forth from her palm, burning the giant ape's eyes.
ROOOOOAAAAR! The giant ape's howls echoed in the surroundings.
"A-Alice-san! What was that move just now?"
"The sacred miko's blessing of light to drive off enemies. In a fight against divine beasts, it's only effective as a distraction, but used as a farewell greeting, it is more than enough."
The one who called herself a princess carried herself with elegance and calm.
The massive monkey nearby was waving its arms and legs attacking randomly, screaming strenuously. Princess Alice's courage sure was outstanding.
"Just like what that child said just now, we'd better get going. Kusanagi-sama, even though you are a devil king Campione, you need rest in your current state."
Godou nodded in agreement. Right now, his body was covered with wounds.
Even without the side effects of the [Raptor], the injuries caused by Luo Hao's attacks were enough to immobilize him.
"I really would have wanted to watch the outcome of this commotion... But I regret to say, Cinderella's curfew has arrived."
The blonde beauty smiled.
"Since too much magical power has been exhausted, this body will run out of energy soon. I have to return my consciousness to my true body to rest. The next time I can visit you all... Would most likely be a few days later."
In other words, she had flown over here from her home in London using something like ectoplasm or a psychic projection.
Enduring his stiff body, Godou nodded firmly to her.
"I understand. I will handle everything here properly. Please take your rest, I am really grateful to you for today."
"Not at all, the honor is all mine. I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to find out what kind of person you are."
Alice deliberately winked humorously.
"Ah, by the way, I would like to make a request to Erica and the rest. Please keep our meeting a secret. Likewise, I will keep all manners of Kusanagi-sama's secrets."
Hearing this request that sounded like a joke, Erica gracefully bowed. Having found her destination, Liliana also opened her eyes and respectfully bowed to Princess Alice.
Like paying respects to a noble lady, was Princess Alice's true identity some kind of upper class noblewoman? Just as Godou puzzled, the princess suddenly vanished.
"So just now, that was spirit body separation!?"
"Now that it's mentioned, Uncle did tell me once, the Princess was a sage who couldn't be judged on the surface, and had all sorts of trump cards hidden up her sleeves..."
Liliana spoke what she noticed, while Erica exclaimed with great emotion.
In total, the current members of the group were the blue and red great knights, Mariya Yuri and Kusanagi Godou.
"Uh, isn't this our usual group?"
Godou couldn't help commenting about the three girls before him.
ROOAAR! Its sight apparently recovered, the giant ape charged straight at them.
"I know, come closer Mariya Yuri! We are about to take off!"
Urged by Erica, Liliana instructed Yuri who did as she was told and came closer. The blue light covered them once again. This was the second time they used flight magic that day.
Flying once again, the entire petrified holy sanctum was beneath them in an instant.
Seeing the target had escaped, the giant ape and the small monkeys nearby roared. The other giant ape that had been crashing through the forest in pursuit of Lu Yinghua, also began to roar as well.
For an instant, Godou saw Mariya Hikari whose body had been taken by the Great Sage.
"Namo ratnatrayaya, namah arya, avalokitesvaraya, bodhisattvaya, mahasattvaya, mahakarunikaya."
It sounded like some sort of Buddhist prayer. That's right, it was Hikari — the Great Sage's voice.
What effect do these spell words have? Godou felt an ominous feeling in the depths of his heart.
The injured Campione continued flying, riding upon the blue light.
Sun Wukong was the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, unparalleled in his ability to fly. Under normal conditions, he would have intercepted and struck them down — but at this moment all the Great Sage could do was gnash his teeth in anguish, chanting spell words at the same time.
Although he had recovered overwhelming divine power, the body was not listening to him.
In possessing the body of the miko with powers of disaster purification, one never expected to fall into such a trap...
But having obtained this rare ability it should not be wasted, thought the Great Sage as he focused single-mindedly on chanting the spell words. With the current level of divine power, that particular spell — the grand technique that posed great difficulty even for a warlord of [Steel] like himself, should be usable.
In order to make the Great Sage Equaling Heaven complete once more, it would be better to finish the current task rather than seek out battle for now.
 Part 4
He was not a spellcaster with a high pedigree like Mariya Yuri or Seishuuin Ena.
Though his family had deep roots in wizardry, their past was enshrouded in dark activities such as espionage or worse, and were descendants of evil wizards. Compared to staying together with everyone like an RPG party, his skills and preferences were more suited to acting alone.
The art of concealment — a wizardry technique for camouflaging oneself and becoming one with the environment.
Highly skilled in this technique, Amakasu Touma hid himself as he observed the battle at Toushouguu, the disappearance of Lu Yinghua into the forest, the departure of Princess Alice, and the flying escape of Godou and the girls.
Subsequently, roughly a hundred monkeys or more started to take action, advancing towards the west of Toushouguu.
The group of monkeys moved along a national route called Romantic Road. They were making their way towards the Nikkou mountain range where Nantaisan was at the forefront. The giant apes that had attacked Godou's group also travelled in the same direction.
Bending their knees deeply and jumping with great force, they leaped through the air like shooting stars.
As befitting the name of divine beasts, they were amazingly nimble despite their ten-meter-tall frames.
"Kusanagi-san and his group were fleeing north... So these monkeys are not chasing after them. Are they intending on migrating to some place to establish a base of operations?"
Amakasu muttered to himself.
All the shopkeepers, tourists and shrine personnel around Toushouguu seemed to have turned into monkeys, and now the only human left was Amakasu.
"Namo ratnatrayaya, namah arya, avalokitesvaraya, bodhisattvaya, mahasattvaya, mahakarunikaya."
The words of the dharani could be heard, carried by the wind.
Dharani was a name for Buddhist wizardry and incantations. The underlings had left, but their king the Great Sage still remained in this place chanting the dharani.
What was his purpose? Leaving Toushouguu, Amakasu walked towards the streets of Nikkou city.
Nikkou Toushouguu was very close to the station, and around twenty minutes away by foot. Amakasu surveyed his surroundings there.
Then he jumped from rooftop to rooftop. This was the physical skill that Templar Knights like Erica called [Leap], Chinese martial artists called [Qinggong], while users like Amakasu called it [Monkey Flight]. Though he wasn't on the level of Lu Yinghua or Seishuuin Ena, his steps were still superhumanly agile.
"No other obvious changes... Perhaps the Great Sage's power of domination does not extend that far after all? Or he hasn't shown his true skills yet..."
There were roughly six thousand inhabitants living in the quaint city of Nikkou.
Due to the people and cars out and about, the calm and peaceful streets looked a little bustling. There were no incidents of people suddenly transforming into monkeys, or pitiful scenes of people screaming their heads off. It was just the scene of a normal Saturday night on the first day of a three-day long weekend.
Leaving the station, Amakasu made his way back towards Toushouguu.
He ran like the wind along the river bank of the Daiyagawa until he saw the vermilion bridge.
The famous Shinkyou was a wooden arch bridge built over the Daiyagawa. Lacquered with bright vermilion, it was very eye-catching at night.
Apparently, the only people turned into monkeys were the ones around Toushouguu.
Having confirmed the situation, Amakasu stood on the edge of the Shinkyou and took out his cellphone.
'—That's all. This is the general situation in the surrounding area.'
"Understood. So the monkey divine monarch used Hikari to recover the divinity of Sun Wukong and then created subordinates. This is not a good situation at all... So why didn't you turn into a monkey as well, Amakasu?"
On the back seat of a very unassuming car without distinguishable features that was racing along the highway, Sayanomiya Kaoru was listening to the report of her trusted subordinate.
'Hmm, not only me but Erica-san, Yuri-san and Liliana-san as well, none of us were changed into monkeys. Most likely those with a certain level of magical power resisted the monkey transformation.'
"So, what happened to those involved with the Committee at Nikkou?"
'I didn't see them. If they were fine, they should have taken action already, so it would not be wrong to assume they have been turned into monkeys.'
"If we send reinforcements, they will need to be Hime-Miko or agents on your level, right?"
'Yes. Gather all the master-level instructors near the Imperial Capital, and organize an emergency gathering of related personnel from the Kantou region, then contact the higher-ups of the spell department to call in the wizards. Also, we need to inform Tochigi Prefecture's police department and government bureaus like the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism... And then after that...'
"Yes, it looks like a dangerous crisis, so using a trump card directly is also a plan."
Kaoru's gaze turned to the premier Hime-Miko beside her.
In order to gather strength for the upcoming battle, Seishuuin Ena was sleeping soundly while embracing the Japanese sword taken out from the storeroom of the Sayanomiya residence. Kaoru's original intention was to have her stationed near Utsunomiya, to be used as a free chess piece...
'That's right, against divine beasts that are like giant UMA monsters, I think it is better to concentrate our firepower rather than being stingy with our combat potential.'
"Thank you for your valuable opinion, I will take it into consideration."
'Not at all, you're welcome. I'll be going back to work.'
Kaoru hung up the cellphone and greeted Ena who had already woken up some time earlier.
"Hikari has been captured by the Great Sage Equaling Heaven?"
"Ena, your hearing is acute as ever."
Even while sleeping, she was still listening. Kaoru could not help but smile wryly.
"However, it would be a great help if you enter the fray, so Ena, what do you think? Divine beasts have appeared and Kusanagi-san's group is in a crisis. Do you have the confidence to penetrate into the battlefield and perform even better than Erica-san and the rest?"
The cross-dressing Hime-Miko smiled at the corner of her lips. Though it frequently surprised people when they found out, Kaoru was a talented polymath. Whether in the area of martial arts or the spirit powers of a Hime-Miko, only one person had been able to surpass her.
"Of course, Erica-san is very smart and Liliana-san is very talented at witchcraft. However, in a battle of pure strength, Ena will always be the final winner."
The premier Hime-Miko was the only person to surpass Kaoru in spellcraft and swordsmanship.
Having heard the strongest trump card make her bold guarantee, Kaoru adjusted her battle strategy.
Amakasu ended his report to his boss and switched off the cellphone.
It was almost time for him to make an appearance at Kusanagi Godou's place, and he also needed to confirm the condition of Mariya Hikari — the apprentice Hime-Miko whose body had been possessed by the monkey divine monarch who should now be called the Great Sage Equaling Heaven.
He had to judge the feasibility of rescuing or abandoning her. However, that particular devil king probably won't recognize any option other than the first...
As Amakasu smiled wryly, he found a rather alarming sudden change.
Before his eyes was the bridge of Shinkyou that was lacquered vermilion.
Nikkou was originally the training grounds for the monks in the mountains and a holy place linked to the sacred peaks of Emei. The scenery of the Daiyagawa river flowing through here normally gave off an atmosphere like deep mountains and secluded valleys, but the volume of water was continuously increasing right now.
With Lake Chuuzenji as its source, the Daiyagawa was a beautiful stream, but that description completely failed to describe the current volume of water.
The river water was currently gushing loudly as if flooded after a massive rainstorm. What on earth happened?
Amakasu reflexively surveyed the surroundings.
The first time a bridge was erected here was over a thousand years ago. It was said that during the Heian period, Great Monk Shoudou was opening up the uninhabited Nikkou and Nantaisan mountains, and supernatural entities built this bridge for him. Shinkyou is the legacy to the world that brings the legend to life.
"Namo ratnatrayaya, namah arya, avalokitesvaraya, bodhisattvaya, mahasattvaya, mahakarunikaya."
Amakasu heard Mariya Hikari's voice.
"Om, sarva bhava samudram sosana karana. sarva vyadhi prasamana karaya."
The Great Sage continued to chant, and soon enough, a nude male floated onto the surface of the Daiyagawa river.
His skin was very black and he had a very thin build like a sick person's.
His face was like a demon's, with bloodshot sharp-looking eyes that flashed brightly and sharp fangs protruded from the two sides of his great gaping mouth.
The legend of Great Monk Shoudou told that, back when the strong currents of the Daiyagawa had blocked his path to enter Nikkou, the haggard monk made a prayer. A spirit then appeared on the opposite bank and began constructing a bridge across the river. This was how the Shinkyou came about.
Afterwards, Great Monk Shoudou gave a name to this spirit, and that was —
"General of the Deep Sands!? In other words, this is no longer a crisis on the level of divine beasts!"
In the moment of Amakasu's shock, the black wrathful spirit roared loudly.
The cry of a [Heretic God]'s birth was a response to the Great Sage's dharani.
As if answering this roar, the waters of the Daiyagawa River rapidly flooded.
Like a massive flood, the rushing flow swept down from upstream, easily smashing the Shinkyo bridge, and Amakasu too was swallowed by the torrent.
 Translator's Notes and References
- Wandering Monk Sun(孫行者): One of Sun Wukong's titles, Xingzhe(行者) means "wandering monk," a reference to his joining the Buddhist faith in becoming the disciple of the monk Xuanzang in the Journey to the West.
- Nikkou Toushou-guu: a Shinto shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, located in the city of Nikkou in Tochigi Prefecture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Tokugawa Ieyasu: the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ended the Sengoku (Warring States) era.
- Hakama: traditional Japanese divided trousers.
- Ruyi Jingu Bang(如意金箍棒): the name of the magical weapon wielded by Sun Wukong, the protagonist of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.
- Kao(靠): a type of military outfit often worn by actors playing generals in Beijing opera.
- Kun(坤): one of the eight trigrams from the Book of Changes. The trigram for kun is ☷.
- Mudra: religious hand gestures used in Buddhism.
- Immortal(仙): in Chinese Daoist tradition, a sage who achieved immortality through enlightenment.
- Qi(気): known variously as ki/chi/qi/chakra, an oriental concept of life energy. In Campione!, the concept is equivalent to magical power, and is the term used by Chinese characters, hence the romanization of "qi" will be used.
- Yueqin: nicknamed the "moon guitar," a stringed traditional Chinese instrument that resembles a lute with a round body.
- Ba Gua Zhi Jing Ji Ji(八卦之精急急): the words of some kind of Daoist charm, "Ba Gua" refers to the eight trigrams of the Book of Changes.
- Li(里): a traditional Chinese unit of distance. 108000 li would be equivalent to 54000 km or 33554 mi.
- Torii: traditional Japanese gate used as the entrance to Shinto shrines and also found within them. They symbolize a transition between realms.
- Three Heroes and the Five Gallants(三俠五義): a Chinese historical novel set during the Song dynasty, with Justice Bao as the main character.
- Outlaws of the Marsh(水滸傳): one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, it tells the story of a group of 108 outlaws during the Song dynasty.
- Tanzhishentong(彈指神通): a fictional martial arts technique that trained the fingers to great strength and precision, allowing a single flick to fire off innocuously light objects as deadly projectiles, break or disarm the weapons of opponents, or even attack at range with just the wind from the finger's motion. Widely known due to the immensely popular martial arts novels of Jin Yong.
- Great Compassion Mantra(大悲咒): a popular Buddhist mantra in East Asia for protection or purification.
- Onmyoudou(陰陽道): literally "the way of the Yin and the Yang", mixing science and occult, a traditional Japanese philosophy based on Chinese concepts of the Five Elements and the Yin-Yang duality.
- Shugendou(修驗道): a Japanese mystical-spiritual tradition that melds ideas from various Buddhist sects, and seeks to attain enlightenment by becoming one with kami.
- Dharani: Buddhist mantras involving meaningful intelligible phrases.
- Imperial Capital: another name for Tokyo.
- Kantou region(関東地方): the region covering the Greater Tokyo Area and consists of the seven prefectures of Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa.
- Utsunomiya(宇都宮): the capital of Tochigi Prefecture.
- Mount Emei(峨眉山): one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China.
- Great Monk Shoudou(勝道上人): the Buddhist monk who founded the temple of Rinnou-ji.
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