Chapter 136

 Tamamushi, who was walking in front of me, took my hand and walked through the barrier.
 The trees were lined up in a row, and the thick leaves covering the sky made it impossible for moonlight to reach the darkness. Normally, I would not be able to see my surroundings.
 Tamamushi, who was walking briskly in front of me, hit her face against a tree and screamed.
"Nu, I can't even walk like this......."
 Rubbing her forehead, Tamamushi reached into her pocket and pulled out a small insect.
 The small insect, which was in the palm of Tamamushi's hand, opened its wings and jumped up noiselessly. It floated in front of Tamamushi and emitted a blue-white light.
 It looked like a firefly.
 It's not as bright as a firefly, though.
"It's much better now."
 The pale blue light that dimly illuminated the surroundings made Tamamushi mutter in agreement, and she pulled my hand and started walking.
 The fact that it is possible to control insects without problems even inside a barrier means that it is possible to release insect energy.
 This barrier seems to block out most of the insect energy, but if it is possible to manipulate insect energy inside the barrier, it means that Nanafushi can operate without problems.
 That's what I thought, but...
 When I withdrew my hand. Tamamushi raised her voice, turned around and looked at me.
――What's wrong with you?
 Tamamushi asks me in her mind.
 Tamamushi doesn't seem to have noticed yet.
 The transparent wall that we were heading tobarriers.
 It's the fifth barrier.
 I had expected it, but I didn't want it to exist.
 If we entered that barrier and it completely blocked the insect energy, we would not be able to send any signals to the outside.
 Besides, if it also functioned as a physical barrier, once inside, it would be impossible to get out. If I couldn't get out, I wouldn't be able to escape to a place where Rikka could see me.
 In other words, I'd be helpless.
 I looked at Tamamushi, who was looking up at me, tilting her head and smiling with her mouth open.
 Tamamushi doesn't seem to understand at all.
 Since I suddenly stopped, I think she should have guessed.
 It's frustrating that I can "see" into her mind, but I can't tell her.
 Well, it's better to be able to "see".
 But what must I do? Should I let Rikka enter the barrier?
 No, if I let Rikka into the barrier, it might turn into a battle soon.
 Tamamushi is pretty strong too.
 Even if we get inside the fifth barrier, communication from the outside cut off, and can't get out of the barrier, if I analyze the enemy and Tamamushi fights back, there's a good chance we'll win.
 So, let's take a gamble.
 Tamamushi reacts with a jerk.
 I drew a "X" on the palm of Tamamushi's hand that I was holding.
 It was too dangerous to engage in conversation, so I had decided on a symbol beforehand.
 "X" means that the situation has worsened.
 There was a possibility that the insect's signal would be completely cut off, and there would be a new barrier beyond the four barrier that we would not be able to get out of. That's the symbol I tell to Tamamushi.
 ――The fifth barrier? I'm sorry, I didn't notice that at all.
 Tamamushi nodded slightly as she answered in her mind after receiving my instructions.
 The signal should be reaching the outside now.
 After receiving my instructions, Tamamushi conveyed the current situation to the outside.
 When the fifth barrier is detected by Nanafushi, she is supposed to keep an eye on it for five minutes.
 If the signal is still being received after five minutes, she will continue to monitor the situation.
 If there is no signal after five minutes of observation, the communication is considered to have been completely cut off. Then, we will wait for thirty minutes and enter the barrier.
 Even if the insect energy is completely blocked, Rikka will rush in on five minutes after thirty minutes.
 Even if Tamamushi and I couldn't defeat the enemy on our own, at least we could outlast them.
 Tamamushi, who was looking up at me, squeezed my hand tightly and cleared her throat slightly.
 ――It's finally time. I can't die easily. So, if something happens, I'll be your shield.
 That's what Tamamushi tells me in her mind.
 She seems to know that things are getting worse and is getting nervous.
 Tamamushi's weakness is that while she's good-natured, she shrinks when cornered.
 Then I suddenly remembered Hizuki's words.
 She told me that there was an additional factor on Marina's Denshin. It's supposed to make the heart warm, but I didn't understand it. But when I lost communication with Marina, I finally understood.
 Our "hearts" had indeed been warmed by Marina's message.
 It may have been just a small matter, but as the situation became more urgent, I realized how powerful it was.
 Her ability was amazing, isn't it?
 Well, there's no point in pushing for something that doesn't exist. Besides, Tamamushi is much more capable than I thought. In terms of strength, Rikka is superior, but in terms of application, Tamamushi is superior.
 But the barrier might have diminished her all-around ability.
 I grinned at Tamamushi and squeezed her hand.
 Tamamushi, who had been looking nervous, smiled as if relieved when I squeezed her hand back. She squeezed my hand again, nodded slightly, and started to walk.
 My role is to figure out exactly how much of Tamamushi's ability has been reduced. Then, analyze the enemy's strength and ability, bring out the remaining ability of Tamamushi to the limit, and find a way to use it.

 Tamamushi, who was holding my hand, was approaching the fifth barrier.
 Judging from her steps, she doesn't seem to know where the barriers are.
 ――I don't know the location of the barrier.
 As expected, Tamamushi, who didn't understand the location of the barrier, muttered in her mind.
 I don't know the location of the barrier. This means that the barriers are more advanced than ever before and that it is becoming more difficult to destroy them.
 It seems that barriers can only be broken if I find the starting point.
 Beyond the fifth barrier, I can see something like a large warehouse. That is probably the designated location.
 Tamamushi, who had entered the fifth barrier, stopped there and raised a faint voice.
 The insect that was floating and emitting light in front of Tamamushi fell to the ground as soon as it entered the barrierrobe.
 She turned around and tried to go back the way she came. But a transparent wall blocked her way.
 It seems that my worst guesses were right.
 The fifth barrier served as a physical barrier and completely blocked out the insects.
 No, since the glowing insects had fallen to the ground, I wonder if it absorbs the insect energy emitted by Tamamushi herself, or if it erases it. Either way, the signal that was sending to Nanafushi was cut off, and Tamamushi could no longer control the insect.
 ――I, I didn't expect to be unable to control bugs. What's more, I can't get out. Suzuhara, we're in trouble!
 Tamamushi turned around and looked up at me, and asked me in her mind, her emerald eyes shaking, sweat trickling down her cheeks.
 Calm down. It's within my expectation. It's a worst-case scenario, though.
 And then I noticed a blind spot.
 I'm a servant being controlled by Tamamushi. If she couldn't control the insects with her insect energy anymore, wouldn't it look suspicious if I wasn't released from Tamamushi's control?
 Well, I guess I'll just have to push it through as if I can't be manipulated anymore, but I can't break free of her brainwashing. But in order to do that, I have to tell Tamamushi about it.
 Will it be conveyed properly? That's what I'm worried about.
 When I called out to Tamamushi, she shivered, her eyes darted and her mouth formed a triangle like a chestnut.
"It seems your control over the insect's mind has been released, but that doesn't change the fact that I am a loyal servant to my master."
 Please notice me, I begged inbarrierly, as I spoke to Tamamushi.
 Tamamushi, whose eyes had been darting around, paused for a moment and then huffed.
 ――T, that's right! If I can't control the bugs anymore, does that mean that Suzuhara, who is supposed to be controlled by me, will also become uncontrollable!
 When Tamamushi heard my words, she seemed to grasp the situation somehow.
"I, it seems the brainwashing can't be undone, even though it's no longer possible to control it with insect."
 Tamamushi shouted a bit purposefully.
 Okay, as expected of Tamamushi. It seems that she understood exactly what I was trying to tell her.
 That being said, there is something odd about the situation where the bad predictions are coming true. It's my ability.
 Tamamushi is no longer able to manipulate insects. That means that the insect energy from her body will either be absorbed by the barrier or be erased.
 If so my ability should also be disabled.
 But as of now, my ability is working fine.
 I'm sure that the barrier is designed to reduce the power of the different abilities step by step, but is it impossible to seal my ability?
 Oh, that's right, kukuku, my eyes are "special".
 Maybe the Heavenly Eye and Earthly Eye aren't so easy to block.
 I'm sorry, my ability is not fair.
"Gee, servant, it seems I can't control you anymore, but you must still be loyal to me and act for me."
 It still sounds a little wishy-washy, but Tamamushi raised her voice in an acted-out manner.
 ――The brainwashing can't be undone even if the manipulation by the insects ceases, right!?
 Yes, Tamamushi, that's fine.
 My role is to assist you.
"Please don't worry, Master. I will remain loyal to you even if your manipulation by the insect energy ceases. And I hereby swear that I will be your "eyes" and hands."
 I got down on one knee and answered while looking up at Tamamushi.
 By including the keyword "eye," I was telling her that there was nothing wrong with my abilities.
 ――Are your "eyes" still safe? That's a scary ability.
 Tamamushi listened to my words and nodded with a grin on her face, though she looked a little nervous.
 It looks like she got my message.
 I took Tamamushi's hand and squeezed it tightly. She nodded again and started to walk to the warehouse beyond the barrier.
 Now, I have about thirty minutes before Rikka comes in. Let's see what I can do.
Edited by kanaa-senpai. (