While Mutsu was asleep, Sousuke and Hiroto both managed to take a shower, change their clothes and take a nap with the other kitsune at the kotatsu table. When they woke up again it had already become completely dark outside.
“We should make sure that Mucchan eats something. But can you go take a look at how things are over there first, Hiro-chan.”
Hiroto gently opened the sliding screen door, to find Mutsu sitting cross-legged on the futon with a hand resting on her chin.
“Mutsu-san, are you better now that you’ve had a nap?”
“Yes, much better.”
Mutsu beckoned Hiroto to come closer, so he slowly entered the bedroom. When he was inside, Mutsu handed him five talismans. He couldn’t discern what it was, but something was written on them.
“Bury these in the ground at the four corners of the shrine office. They will form a barrier.”
“Do you think we’ll have to use them?”
“I want you to do it just in case. I’ll feel a bit more reassured if we have them up.”
Mutsu didn’t say anything more and dove under her blanket again. Then, she took the opportunity to give the wet towel to Hiroto while he was still there.
After telling Sousuke about the talismans he had gotten from Mutsu, Hiroto started to properly bury them at the four corners exactly like she had told him.
Hiroto had just buried the talismans and was about to go inside when something caught his attention, making him turn towards the torii gate. While he couldn’t clearly distinguish what it was that he saw there, it seemed to be the figure of a woman. But as soon as he blinked his eyes, the figure disappeared. Maybe it had just been his imagination or maybe there really had been someone there. As a sign of what had transpired, Hiroto’s arms had gotten goosebumps, and they had nothing to do with the cold.
When Hiroto stepped inside the shrine office again, rubbing his arms, he felt relieved for some unknown reason. It was a place with mythological fox spirits and had been sloppily remodeled to suit as living quarters, but this place still had become one that gave him a warm reassurance.
Hiroto went to peek into the kitchen only to find Sousuke bustling about, taking out a saucepan and looking through the refrigerator.
“Do you need any help?”
“Hmm… What do you think would be better: congee or udon?”
“Let’s go for udon. Then we can make our share together with Mutsu san’s and the kitsunes. And it should be good for those guys if we just put some deep-fried tofu in it.”
Sousuke gave a laugh, “That’s true.”
Then he put water in the saucepan and turned on the stove. His somewhat disappointed expression when he lamented the fact that they’d had noodles for lunch too made Hiroto amused.
As one would expect, the two guys who usually ate their meals at the convenience store naturally didn’t know how to cook.
Somehow, they managed to cook the udon but the noodles ended up swollen and soggy from absorbing too much broth and weren’t something you could slurp as one usually would.
The kitsune complained that they would like to eat Mutsu’s cooking again but couldn’t find anything else to object about. Sousuke and Hiroto also wished that Mutsu would get better quickly. Doing unavoidably dangerous work in such a place as this one made everyone wish that at least their meals would be good.
Unlike the others, Mutsu laughed when seeing the udon:
“It looks like it’ll be easy to digest.”
Finally, the kitsune started to act, dividing the udon into one-person portions together with Mutsu. With the help of the kuda-gitsune their plates were finally cleared completely.
“Go to bed as soon as you’re done eating!”
Mutsu carried the kitsune that had been sleeping on Sousuke’s futon to her own bed. The guda-kitsune also slipped under her blanket and immediately fell asleep.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This novel will be on hiatus for about a month, due to me taking a break from translating. So don’t worry if you’re reading this and wondering why it isn’t being updated, it hasn’t been dropped and I’ll be back soon. Sorry for the lack of notice and thank you for understanding!
This story has a new editor, Clover. Big thank you to them for their work! And for putting up with my messiness and lazyness.
Oh, and I almost hope that the “figure of a woman” will rid Mutsu of her status of the only friggin female character in the story yet. But we’ll see.