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488 Yukine by the River, Her Thoughts, Her Identity, and Another Oracle

 Day 125 - 10:22 PM - Agos River, Mount Malabito, General Nakar, Quezon

Yukine sat on the rocky riverside, playing with her foot on the water. Her white robe lay on the rock beside her, revealing her beautiful visage as a fox spirit in human form.

She was a part of the Yuki Kitsune, a group to gather intelligence and information that was directly under the Empress, the leader of the Japanese Branch of Auraboros.

Yuki Kitsune was composed of white spirit foxes who were the ones with the most alluring appearances among the spirit foxes. This quirk made it easier for them to deal with people and gather information without getting too much suspicion. Some times, their appearance made the people overlook the severity of their questions without using their abilities to charm them.

Because of that, no one forced them to act their status. The Yuki Kitsune were free to move and act in any way they wanted as long as they would get their work done fittingly.

Furthermore, as spirit foxes feed off the life force of their victims, they were sensitive to these energies, making their job easier.

But this time, Yukine, the vice leader of Yuki Kitsune, was having a hard time in her mission.

Her mission was to gather information about the several phenomenons that happened in the countries south of Japan. It was not surprising considering how many things had changed during the apocalypse. Still, nothing could cover that the ones that happened in the south-east countries of Asia were among the most earthshaking.

It was earthshaking in a literal way.

Who would have thought that a Spirit Tree would be born in the mortal world at this time? The latest one before this was already a thousand years ago. It was at the time way before someone said to have discovered America.

There was also the Moria. It was a tree born as a gift from a godly being. However, that person made it that the Moria would not be exploited aside from its fruits. Thus, it had far lesser capabilities, consciousness, and intelligence compared to the ones planted by powerful entities. It was nothing more than an ancient tree that continued to exist for religious purposes.

This time, after a long time, a Pure Spirit Tree appeared. And it was a fully grown one. Of course, everyone that was able to would try to contend for it no matter how much they sacrifice. That was what the China Branch of Auraboros was doing. Furthermore, they took an interest in the resources that the base that harbored the Pure Spirit Tree had.

As for the Japan Branch, aside from trying to take over the remains of Japan, it had a far lesser interest outside their jurisdiction. Unlike the empire of Japan, led by humans, that tried to colonize as many countries as they could, the members of the Japan Branch did not aim for that scale.

Nevertheless, endeavors like this would interest them, trading and such. That was why Yukine gave out that proposal. She was very sure that her Empress would agree with it too.

But the main reason for this was different.

It was because, unlike most humans, Yukine could not read what was going on in that person's mind. The owner of the Spirit Tree that she had observed in these past days was not something to be taken lightly. She followed him every time he came out, and he also just left her alone until now.

The reason might be because the current plan of the China Branch to involve innocent people angered him.

And thus, she finally managed to meet the entity named Mark.

For the result, however, she wished that she knew more before this. What she received was a direct threat and a declaration of war towards the Organization.

Because of the outbreak, their information gathering had been slower. Although the Japan Branch knew that some branches started to move against weaker countries, they were not able to gather their accurate plans.

When Shin's group accepted the rescue mission, they only knew that the plans of Auraboros in Bay City had failed. They did not know what the exact plans were or who was in charge of the mission. It only came to light when The Great One had gone missing.

The Great One, he was not just some random leader or character in the Organization. Among the thirteen founders of Auraboros, he was the eight. The weakest among the thirteen was a Lower Diety while The Great One was just a few steps away from being a Higher Deity.

All the branches of Auraboros had contact with all the founders through magical means. And they all knew that they lost contact with The Great One due to an unknown reason.

It came to light that he led the mission in Bay City directly. Although he could not go physically, he was able to due to the use of small ritual portals. Not to mention that the current founders could not leave their personal spaces due to a reason unknown to everyone.

And in that mission, The Great One led, something severe might have happened. The other founders could tell that he was still alive. However, any form of contact was not possible.

Now, Yukine gained a valuable but threatening piece of information.

The cause of what happened to The Great One was the person the China Branch was currently facing.

"Hah..."

Yukine sighed. She remembered the sentences she spoke to Tan Sitong before she left. Those words were nothing much but a play despite having some truth in it. Now, she could not even believe that her words would not come true.

Furthermore, she tried to use this opportunity to measure his strength as the Jiangshis that Tan Sitong brought were well-known warriors. But even with that, she could tell that he was holding back. This situation made it harder for her to gauge things accurately.

"What should I report to the Empress? Incomplete reports like this were unacceptable for her."

While she was thinking deeply while looking at her reflection on the river water, she heard a loud flap of wings.

"What could you be thinking too deeply, milady?"

A middle-aged voice echoed from behind her.

"Kouki."

Yukine spoke.

"Yes, milady?"

The voice from behind replied.

"What will you do if someone gave a declaration of war to the organization?"

"Hmmm..." The voice hummed. "That depends, milady."

"Just answer."

Yukine pressed.

"The person should be a powerful one if someone was able to declare something like that. In that case, it depends on whether the person is a slaughterer or not, or if we offended him or not. At the moment, our branch is avoiding conflict as we stabilize our condition. If that person would not slaughter everyone just because they were a part of the Organization, then I will not join the battle. On the other hand, I would fight. If he stepped into our with the goal to slaughter, I would kill him. But if he was stronger, I will still fight and let you, milady, and the Empress, escape."

"You're not going to escape?"

Yukine asked.

"I will not."

The voice confidently replied.

"Your answers are very like you, Kouki."

Yukine smiled as she turned her head to the side to see behind her.

There, a tall, muscular man wearing an old Japanese attire stood. He was wearing large beads on his neck and a small hat on his head, his white long white hair and beard waved with the wind. He looked like a human. However, he had a red-colored skin, a very long nose, and the black feathered wings of a crow were present on his back.

He was a Tengu, a powerful being in Japanese Legends.

"Are you here to pick me up, Kouki?"

"Yes, Milady. An oracle came. This place will be a battlefield. That is why the Empress immediately sent me to pick milady up and return."

Hearing that, Yukine was a bit surprised.

"For an oracle to come at this moment. But I am confused. Isn't it just a small group from the China Branch that are here?"

Those words of Yukine made Kouki shake his head.

"We already received milady's initial report a few days ago. How was it now?"

Hearing that, Yukine told Kouki about Tan Sitong and the movements they made after the vice leader of China Branch arrived. She also told him about her speculations in the current battle.

The information Kouki received caused a frown on his already scary face.

"I could not understand it too, milady. If it is just as you said, the current forces of China Branch here were not enough to cause an oracle."

The two felt confused as to how mysterious it was. Oracles would not easily come, especially to events unrelated to them. For an oracle to appear, it should either be a catastrophic event or something directly related to the person receiving it.

As Yukine was nothing but an observer here, a third party, she was not directly related. Then, the oracle meant that it was the former. A catastrophic event was about to happen.

Realizing this, Yukine became distraught. Her determination to cooperate had not waned at all. Maybe, she could use this as a bargaining chip?

But then, she was directly interfering with the business of the other branch then. She needed to wait after the China Branch left defeated. But then, what if the catastrophe would happen before that?

"This is the first time I saw milady having such expressions in a long while."

Kouki smiled.

The vice leader of Yuki Kitsune, it was a big task given to Yukine. Because of that, the playful fox before decided to become a proper intelligence agent afterward.

She mostly tried to hide her expressions, as it was not a good role model for those below her. Yukine also gained merit after merit, which gave her more popularity that even surpassed the current leader of the Yuki Kitsune.

Of course, it was not like she was not admired by many before all these.

"Just give your word, milady. Maybe, I am here to pick you up, but you can always choose when you want to leave."

Kouki smiled.

Hearing that, Yukine took a deep breath.

"Well, then..." She smiled. "Can you accompany me here for a while. I want to see the battle that will happen soon. If the catastrophe really struck, it's not late to leave since you are here."

Kouki looked at Yukine. He could not tell whether she wanted to gather more information or was just plainly interested in what will happen.

'But even if it was the latter, it was still fine.' Kouki thought.

There was barely anything that actually made Yukine interested. That was why Kouki was quite supportive of it.

"Still, milady, the moment that I deduce that it is getting dangerous, please pardon me if I dragged you back."

"Are you afraid? You're strong, right?"

Yukine teased.

And to that, Kouki stared at the white fox woman with a stern expression.

"Milady, I am not afraid of any enemy. What I am afraid of is you getting into danger that you can't deal on your own. This might be one of those times. Remember that the oracle of your clan never made any wrong predictions."

Seeing that expression, even Yukine felt goosebumps. She knew that Kouki was only thinking of her well being. Thus, she could only sigh.

"Alright. You're free to take me back at that time. I will not resist it."

"As you wish milady... No," Kouki said as he kneeled on one knee. "As you wish Princess."

Seeing that, Yukine shrugged her shoulders.

"Stop that Kouki. I'm currently on Duty. I don't even dare call the Empress as my mother at times like this. Family and work in the organization is separate, remember?"

Yukine reprimanded Kouki.

"Yes, I understand, milady."