A young man stood twenty meters ahead, wearing the purity mask that the shinshi wear during the demon chasing festival. But the voice was unmistakably Shun’s.
“You shouldn’t have come. Go home, Saki.”
I shook my head.
“Look at this,” he pointed at the ground.
At first it was too dark to see, but then the ground began to glow softly and I saw that it was covered with writhing insects.
All of them were deformed. Moths of all sizes unable to fly because of their wilted wings and bulging abdomens. Beetles with the legs on one side of their bodies elongated as if on stilts, stumbling around in endless circles. And centipedes with their front and rear ends fused together so that they were literal rings.
“If you don’t want to end up like this, leave now.”
“No,” I said stubbornly. “Tell me what exactly is going on. I won’t move an inch until you do.”
“Don’t be stupid!” Shun said sharply.
“I’m fine with being stupid. I came all the way here to rescue you. A tainted cat almost killed me along the way,” I said in a choked voice.
“You met a cat?”
“Yeah. I was saved thanks to the charm you gave me. But there’s probably another cat around.”
“I see…” He took a deep breath. “Fine. Ten minutes. You can stay for ten minutes and I’ll explain as much as I can. But you have to leave once time is up.”