【Last Episode: Curtain Call and the end Part B, 11】
Even if the possibility of such a thing occurring is extremely low, I need to take another scenario into consideration, mainly…
… What if Monjiro has more than one Gift granted to him?
Normally, the custom dictates that one Knight should have only one of his Master’s Gifts. That is because Gifts grant the abilities imprinted directly on the Knight’s soul that a normal human beings should not possess, like growing a third arm or amplifying the senses beyond their usual maximum capabilities, therefore it was concluded that having more than one at a time would be too hazardous for human bodies to handle. Also, using two Gifts at the same time should be impossible. They might be supernatural powers that exist outside of the mortal’s scope of understanding, but in that regards they are the same as human bodies. Even if there is a saying that says human bodies can move around on their own even when we are unconscious, it is exactly that, just a saying. No one was actually able to move his limbs around simply by thinking 「move!」. Muscles can only be moved by means of conscious effort, not sheer willpower, and the same goes for Gifts. Our limited human brains have to utilize all of their processing power to understand the power given by the Gift and enable us to use them, so forcing it to undergo this process for two powers at the same time would be tantamount to frying it due to the information overload. The only exception to that rule would be 『Heroic Gifts』, but that is only because their powers are enshrined in physical objects that act as catalysts between them and their users.
Besides, even if Monjiro did have more than one Gift, he would probably need to undergo a rigorous training in order to adjust both his body and soul to using two different kinds of common sense-defying powers, otherwise the strain that they would place on him would tore him to pieces from the inside.
Because of that, I think it would be safe to discard that idea as too unlikely to be possible.
It has been a month since Kaguya partially awakened, parting ways with him. No matter what kind of trickery Jiro or Fujisato Yuika would try to use, thirty days was not enough to acquire a new Gift, adjust your body to it and then learn to utilize it effectively in actual combat. It is only my rough estimation, but someone with Monjiro’s level of skill, talent and latent ability would need at least three months to barely pull a stunt like that off.
Heh, look at me thinking so hard about Monjiro’s Gifts and possible ways to counter them, but I wonder how is he going to go against my own Gift, 『Demonic Gift Doppelganger』. The name itself might be a bit of a giveaway, but aside from that, it should be a complete mystery to everyone else besides my Lord and myself. It gives me the ability to alter the sensory perception of those around me, essentially giving me the power to change how others perceive me, or to put it in layman’s terms, it allows me to shapeshift, just like the infamous Mimics or Noppera-bō, the Japanese Faceless Demon.
What, don’t tell me you don’t know that story? Well, well, well, I see someone’s been slacking in the Japanese mythology class. Fine then, allow me to tell you all a streamlined version of this peculiar youkai’s story.
The story began when the protagonist of the story met a crying, forlorn woman on the Akasaka road leading to Edo, near the Kunizaka hill. He stopped by her and offered her his assistance, bearing nothing but good intentions in his heart. But when she stopped crying and turned his way to face him, he was frightened to see that her face had no features at all, looking like a blank piece of paper. Terrified, the man ran away from the woman and proceeded along the way for some time, until he happened upon a travelling soba vendor and stopped for a little break after running at a breakneck speed to run from the demon as he told the vendor the tale of his encounter. But when he finished recounting his tale, he became mortified and fell to the ground in horror when he saw the vendor grabbing the skin on his face and peeling it off like a grotesque mask, revealing that he was a faceless Noppera-bō himself.
That is how those youkai are portrayed in the Japanese folklore: harmless monsters who simply like to frighten humans and trapping them in the infinite hell of fear and paranoia by disguising themselves as other humans for their own amusement. But I am nothing like those harmless creatures. To me, the ability to alter my appearance in the eyes of others is a tool that allows me to kill my targets more effectively.
When I revealed to Monjiro that I was impersonating Aika, his little sister, he couldn’t hide how shocked he was. He really thought that I was his sister, and he was taken aback with fear when he started racking his brain on how long has that charade of mine was going on. And I capitalized on that fear of his and used it against him like a sword, using his own cautiousness and selfishness to make him self-destruct with fear, doubt and confusion. That is how it was, is and will always be with those who are arrogant enough to think that the entire world revolves around them as if they were some protagonist from a novel: push the right buttons enough times and with enough force and they will fall into despair in no time.
「Oh, that’s right. Mother?」
「What is it, my beloved son?」
However, something in Monjiro’s behavior was worrying me right now. No matter how well he thinks he is prepared or how many tricks he might have up his sleeve, isn’t he a little too calm right now? I was the one who taught him everything he knows as an assassin and even imprinted my way of thinking onto him. I literally know everything there is to know about him, so how is he able to keep his wit about him knowing that I can read his entire being like an open book?
「Your 『Demonic Gift Doppelganger』 won’t work on me anymore.」
Monjiro pointed his finger at me and declared that as if he had already won. I should have mocked him for saying something like that out of the blue. I should be angry at him for being so full of himself when he clearly had no reason to. But I wasn’t feeling any of those emotions.
The emotion that made my hands tremble right now…
If he is telling the truth, then that is great, as it will make things much more exciting. And if it turns out to be nothing more but a bluff designed to shake me up? That is going to be fine as well.
But, one sentence… haha, hahaha!
Just his one sentence was enough to stimulate me so much!
「You’ve grown up, Monjiro.」
「That may be so, but I wonder if it will be enough for me to beat you today? Because no matter how much progress I made as a kid, how much I endured that hellish training of yours, it was never enough for you. There was always something wrong or something that could still be improved.」
What he is saying is not wrong. Even after all those years, I can clearly see that the gap between our abilities has not dwindled at all. The difference is still as big as between a German Shepherd and a Pomeranian. Well if you ask me both of them are equally cute, but that is just my personal opinion.
But the fact remained that this Pomeranian tried to close that gap in his own way. It is as if a newborn puppy was biting at the beast’s leg. The puppy itself might think that it’s doing damage, but the truth is that play-biting will always be just that, play-biting without any actual impact. But the effort itself was commendable. After all, trying and failing will always be better than not trying and complaining. As his master and the one who prepared him for everything, it made me genuinely happy to know that this was the approach he has chosen.
「Wonderful, my boy. Remind me to stroke you on the head after I defeat you, okay?」
「Do you even know how to do that? Because as far as I can remember, you’ve never done that for me or Aika, even when we were both little.」
Now that he’s bringing that up, I guess I really never done that. And not just the head-stroking. I mean this whole parenting business in general. Because that was the part of my plan to kill all of his human emotions and make him into the invincible bodyguard for Kaguya.
Anyway, I believe we are getting more and more off the right track, but since we are on the subject then I guess I can elaborate on it a little.