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Chapter 4-10: In the Realm of the Dead
As someone who was raised in a city, absolute darkness was something Uta never experienced.
Yet, it felt like it had taken shape and wrapped itself around Uta’s whole body.
He could tell what it was from the smell, the sounds, and the chill freezing him from inside his lungs.
Even though the air was cold, he also felt a sticky liquid inside him.
The sound of cloth rubbing cloth echoed near his ears.
A breathy voice sounded depressed in his ears.
“…Say something. It’s like you’re dead.”
It was a familiar voice—Housou-no-kami’s. But it was trembling in pain.
“Housou-san…I’m still alive.”
Although Uta answered, he wasn’t certain if he really was alive. After all, everything was dark around him.
The stench clogging his nose grew even thicker now.
A cold palm crept over his skin, causing him to shiver.
This finally convinced Uta that he was alive.
“Hey, where are we? Why is it completely dark?”
“This is the entrance to the realm of the dead… If only darkness is reflected in your eyes, then the scene before you might be something you don’t want to see.”
“A scene I don’t want to see…?”
“Death is crawling all around here.”
Were there corpses lying around?
“I also hate death since it’ll silence the human I finally got my hands on…”
A numbing pain ran through Uta’s body.
“…Gh! Hey, Housou-san, what are you doing…?”
The god’s breathing by his ear had become rougher.
His cold hand stroked his skin and stopped right above his navel.
“Can you feel it? I’m inside of you.”
“Wait…?! You’re lying…”
Something moved inside him, and the numbing pain became more intense.
But, he also felt something else overlapping the pain in his body.
(What is this…? Loneliness? Sorrow?)
Uta couldn’t understand why, but it felt like these feelings would crush his chest.
It wasn’t his body but his heart that cried out together with the god’s pain.
“Housou-san, please don’t cry…”
He stretched out his hands and embraced the god.
When he did, the god’s breathing trembled.
“…Don’t be stupid. Why would I cry? I have no heart…”
“Housou-san, where did your heart go?”
“Don’t you remember? I told you I exchanged my soul for the power of corruption.”
That was probably why the god was currently empty.
Perhaps the connection he desired wasn’t physical but emotional to fill his empty heart.
“You can’t do that. Let’s look for your lost soul.”
When Uta decided that he had to go, the darkness surrounding him opened up.
The two were lying down inside a narrow cave and surrounded by angular rocks.
There was a steep path where one end led down into darkness where no light could reach. It looked like a gaping wide hole had opened up.
He felt like the scent of death was wafting out from there.
“Uta, it’s impossible to go look for it.”
Housou-no-kami held Uta’s body again.
“I want to continue to play with you here.”
“In such a lonely place?”
He stared at Uta, unable to answer.
“I want to go home and drink coffee in a warm space. Together with Housou-san and everyone else.”
The god’s breathing was slightly ragged.
“You understand, right?”
As if to prevent Uta from speaking any further, Housou-no-kami blocked his mouth with a kiss.
He debated if he should push the god away, but before he could make a decision, he felt the god drift away.
“If you’re going to look for it, do you have any idea where it could be?”
There was no way he would know, being that this was his first time coming to the realm of the dead.
“You’re hopeless, aren’t you?”
Housou-no-kami gave off the same rotten stench, but he kindly fixed Uta’s disheveled clothes.
“If I regain my soul, I’ll lose the power of corruption and will certainly be eliminated by Sukunabikona and the other gods.”
“I won’t let that happen!”
He said without thinking, but Housou-no-kami scoffed.
“You don’t have the power to go against them.”
“That may be true…”
“Know your limit.”
Housou-no-kami had an amazed look on his face as he helped up Uta.
“I’ll go with you. In return, you have to let me have my way with you again if we safely retrieve my soul.”
“…You don’t want to?”
As expected, Uta couldn’t say, “Sure.”
Treating him as anyone more than a friend would be the very definition of irresponsible.
Besides, the god had said “again”, but Uta wasn’t pleased with what had just happened.
Uta remained silent, so Housou-no-kami blatantly sighed and headed off.
For the time being, Uta followed after him.
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