The three of us continued cautiously into the cavern, uncertain what it was my nose was telling me awaited us at the end.
Suddenly, my collar vibrated and Myouga burst free, now sporting a pair of glittering fairy wings. He bobbed in the air over our heads, and in a high-pitched voice demanded, "Hey, listen! Hey, listen!"
I frantically grabbed at him, but he kept dodging me. "Shhh! Myouga, stop making such a racket! There are enemies ahead of us and we don't want them to know we're here!"
"I'm not Myouga, I'm the fairy Myou-myou, here to guide you on your journey!" he retorted, bouncing around in the air angrily. "I come from a magical dimension, and have been sent here to inform you that you have inherited the powers of that magical dimension as well!"
"Sweet!" I said, clenching my fist and totally not questioning this. "I could really use some extra magical powers!" Looking at my hands, I wondered, "So, what kind of magical powers are they? I mean, I can already throw youki blasts, create barriers, and turn into a giant dog. What else can I do now?"
Myou-myou nodded solemnly, the only answer he would give being, "You will discover your true powers in time."
Wakage puffed out her cheeks. "That's not fair! How come I don't get any new magical powers?"
"I am content as an ordinary human," Akagane said, sighing. "I have already been augmented with one manner of supernatural ability against my will by a fairy of an old man. I do not require more."
"Oh, by 'you', I meant 'all of you', but since I'm speaking English right now, that wasn't entirely clear," Myou-myou clarified.
"Heck yeah!" Wakage cheered, while Akagane could only groan. Turning and pointing down the cavern, she suggested, "Since now we know we all have these magical powers, let's just go kick some oni ass!"
We scampered blindly down the corridor, now completely confident that we could defeat whatever was ahead of us. Turning the corner, we arrived in a giant antechamber that must have had some kind of motion sensors because torches dramatically flared to life around us as soon as we entered. And at the center of that chamber stood...
"Ryakki-chan...!?" I gasped in disbelief. But not only that...
"H... Hisui?!" Akagane choked. Now there's a plot twist no one saw coming.
Ryakki held the back of her hand to the side of her mouth and laughed as evilly as she could manage. "Muahaha... Yeth... you have finally dithcovered the truth..." She was wearing spiked gauntlets and a cape, yet still somehow didn't come across as that threatening.
Hisui, on the other hand, was wearing some sort of dominatrix outfit, her hair spread out and waving on its own as though it was some sort of furry octopus. She held the back of her palm to her forehead and tilted her head back, dramatically proclaiming, "Oh, my darling, I knew this day would come, but it doesn't make it any less painful!"
Akagane fell to his knees and removed his mask. "I... I do not see how this is possible! I have lived with you since you were four years old! I... I married you! I had a child with you!"
Hisui cocked her head. "Did you really think that someone as normal-looking as me could come from someone like my father? Even the oni who attacked our village mistook him for one of theirs. And didn't you notice that I was the one to defeat the last of them, yet they made no move to attack me? And my downright fascist methods of organization? And how I had quite the fetish for your black leather?" Now that she mentioned it, the pieces were definitely starting to come together.
"Yeah, and I mean, who killth a little kid?" Ryakki added. "You thought I wath dead the whole time, and that only made thith eathier."
Souzou Tennou emerged from the shadows, apparently having been just standing there the entire time waiting to make an entrance. He wrapped an arm around Hisui's waist and gloated, "You fell right into my trap."
My face went blank, then I shook my head. "Wait... you hooked up with him?! But... but he's a murderous, misogynistic serial rapist! Why on earth would you want that?!"
Hisui pouted and stroked her hand over Souzou Tennou's chest. "Because he's hot. And I can change him."
My brain was about to explode, when Akagane stepped forward. "No. I will not allow you to become this. You are better than this, Hisui. Your desires are not so short-sighted and petty. You have a heart of gold, which you gave to me. And I give mine back..." he reached into his armor and dramatically pulled out a silver piece, "... with 10% interest!"
Hisui's eyes flashed briefly. "... That's hot..."
Suddenly, a portal opened up in the air above us, and a little boy dropped out of it and landed on Akagane's head. "Watch out!" Myou-myou shouted belatedly. Ryakki stole the silver piece in the confusion.
The little boy jumped up and announced, "I'm Shirogane from the future! I've come here to warn you that Mother has been brainwashed! Father! Ani-ue! Sexy Lady! You're the only ones who can save her!"
Akagane looked on in disbelief. "Sh... Shirogane?!" His face then melted into contentment. "... He called me 'Father'... I did not think I would ever see that day..." It felt pretty good being called "Ani-ue", too.
The three of us started glowing, and Myou-myou proclaimed, "That's it! His words have awakened the magical power within you! Shout 'Magical Power Makeover!' in order to activate it!"
"No! Not the Magical Power Makeover!" Souzou Tennou exclaimed in fear.
He lunged forward to stop me, but before he could, I shouted, "MAGICAL POWER MAKEOVER!" The walls of the cavern were suddenly alight in spinning pink hearts, and my clothes evaporated off my body in ribbons. Swirling light enveloped me and took the form of a short skirt, high-heels, and a magic wand with a heart at the end.
"Nice legs," Wakage commented.
I spun around and looked at my new attire. "Huh, yeah, I'm dressed kind of like you now, only frillier," I observed.
Souzou Tennou re-oriented himself from the strip-show, then lunged at me again. Before he could reach me, I pointed at him and declared, "You whose heart is full of darkness! How dare you brainwash an innocent woman and deprive her of the life she built!" Souzou Tennou stopped dead in his tracks the moment I started speaking. When I paused, he lunged at me again. Quickly, I continued, "The light of justice will punish you!" He stopped again.
"It looks like your magical power is that your enemy can't do anything until you finish what you're doing," Wakage noted.
"Well, that's kind of useful, I guess," I replied, my talking stopping Souzou Tennou rigid again. "It's like Daruma-san ga Koronda. I wonder what kind of power the two of you have, then."
Wakage shrugged. "Well, at least it's not much of a wardrobe change." She raised her hand and shouted, "MAGICAL POWER MAKEOVER!" Her body shimmered, but instead of losing her clothes, she seemed to instead gain a whole lot more. When the glowing subsided, she stood there dressed in a full-length suit covered by a European-style armor breastplate and a cape. Looking down, she exclaimed, "What the hell is this?! I can't fight in this clunky thing! Why can't I get what you're wearing?! You can do anything! I believe in you!" Wakage then covered her mouth and gasped.
I cocked my head. "I guess your power is to stand on the sidelines and shout encouragement?"
Wakage burst into tears. "You're so awesome!" Somehow that made her cry even more.
Akagane sighed, then raised his spear. "After much debate, I have concluded that these 'magical powers' are altogether useless and I am completely content relying on Sansazume instead."
Shirogane ran up to him and held his arm. "No, Father, you can't! You'll hurt Mother!" I could practically see him breaking down from that.
Collapsing and hugging his son, Akagane conceded, "Yes... you are quite correct, Shirogane. I would rather suppress myself if it would mean sparing your mother from harm."
He stood up and glared at Souzou Tennou, raising his arm. "Now, taste my full power, monster! MAGICAL POWER MAKEOVER!" His body glowed and everyone was temporarily blinded. I'd transformed into a frilly mini-skirt, Wakage had transformed into a suit of armor and a cape... but Akagane was already the most-accessorized of all of us, so I wondered what kind of flashy outfit he'd end up with.
When the glow subsided, there stood Akagane, in all the glory of his... normal civilian clothes. Well, at least they were his old civvies that he'd lost in the attack on the village instead of his drab newer ones. Patting himself down, Akagane let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank god..." This was his final arc, after all, so I guess he deserved at least one chapter where he wasn't constantly humiliated.
"Constantly" being the key word, as when he lifted up Sansazume, to his dismay he discovered that the crescent blades had curled inward, causing his spearhead to be transformed into a blunt heart shape.
"Sansazume has become heart-shaped!" he exclaimed, repeating what I had just described in narration meaning it should have been visually obvious.
"I know you can fight really well with that!" Wakage encouraged, then bit angrily on her sleeve for having to praise a human.
I sighed. "Well, now that the three of us have transformed..."
"You two can go kick some ass..." Wakage assured.
"And we also finish each other's sentences," explained Akagane. ... Oh god.
Souzou Tennou, Hisui, and Ryakki, who had all just been standing there the whole time, finally got the cue that it was okay for them to do something. They rushed forward, each choosing an opponent, with Hisui squaring off against Akagane, Ryakki against Wakage, and Souzou Tennou against me.
"Hmph," said Souzou Tennou, smirking. "You believed you could defeat me by calling upon some new power, but it has proven useless."
"Whatever. It's not like we absolutely have to use them," I retorted, readying a youki blast. "I'll just blow you up the old-fashioned way."
Myou-myou then flew in front of my face, shouting, "Stop! If you engage in physical violence while in those forms, there will be consequences! Your Magical Makeover forms rely on defeating your opponents with the power of love!"
My arms dropped. "Are you kidding me?!"
"What a great power!" exclaimed Wakage.
"We cannot engage in physical combat!" Akagane informed us.
"Okay, seriously, you two don't always have to chime in with something every time I say something," I shouted back.
"Your speeches are an inspiration!"
"The bake-inu appears frustrated!" Oh, screw this.
I took a few deep breaths to compose myself, then relented, "Fine, you wanna play it that way? We'll play it that way. My power is that none of our opponents can attack while I'm in the process of doing something, right?" I spun around and produced a large book from nowhere, then cracked it open. Pointing dramatically, I declared, "The aardvark is a medium-sized burrowing nocturnal mammal native to Africa!"
Souzou Tennou was locked in place and his face fell. "Oh... oh no..."
Striking further dramatic poses, I continued, "It has a long, pig-like snout and subsists on ants and termites!" I spun around again and flourished my hand. "It digs burrows in which to live and rear its young! And...!" I kicked my leg and a dramatic image of an aardvark appeared behind me. "It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata!"
"The bake-inu is hampering our enemies' movements by reading the encyclopedia!" Akagane explained in awe.
"What an amazing strategy!"
Hisui placed a finger on her chin and cocked her head. "But I thought Wan-chan couldn't read."
... Crap! She uncovered the fatal flaw in my plan! I dropped the encyclopedia, and our opponents were suddenly able to move again.
I stepped backwards and worriedly and wondered, "How the hell are we supposed to defeat them with the 'power of love', then, if my power doesn't work and theirs don't do anything useful?!"
"Now is the time, then!" declared Myou-myou. "Take your magic wand and shout 'Love Magical Victory!', and you will win!"
I grabbed Myou-myou out of the air and shouted, "Why the HELL did you wait until now to tell us that?!"
"It was the most opportune dramatic moment."
I smashed Myou-myou in my hand and left his twitching fairy form on the floor of the cavern. Whipping out my magic wand, I pointed it at Souzou Tennou, Hisui, and Ryakki, and grumbled, "Let's just get this over with already! LOVE MAGICAL VICTORY!"
A beam of hearts flooded the chamber, and Hisui and Ryakki held up their hands dramatically and cried out, whereas the hearts just bounced off Souzou Tennou's head and shattered while he looked on in annoyance. Hisui collapsed into Akagane's arms, while Ryakki just collapsed on the floor because Wakage didn't care enough to catch her.
Hisui's eyes fluttered open, and she reached up to stroke Akagane's cheek. "I'm so sorry I lost my way. Thank you for saving me."
"I did not actually do anything," Akagane correctly observed. Shirogane ran to them and they all shared a hug.
I smiled at the family reunion, but Souzou Tennou stepped forward again, cracking his knuckles. "Unfortunately for you, your so-called 'power of love' has no effect on me." Why am I not surprised?
"Souzou Tennou remains unaffected!" Akagane gasped.
"I know you have the power to beat him!" Wakage shouted.
My eyebrow twitched, and I began nonchalantly preparing a youki blast again. Consequences shmonsequences. If it defeated Souzou Tennou and made it so we never had to rely on this stupid magical powers again, I'd happily accept whatever effects came of it.
Souzou Tennou raised his hands defensively and took a step back. "W... wait! You can't blast me so long as I'm still wearing... eh?" He looked to his right shoulder and noticed that my mother's pelt had disappeared.
He looked down to his left and saw Ryakki standing there. With a toothy grin, she informed him, "I thieved it."
Souzou Tennou's face went blank as I finished charging up my youki blast to full power, then let it fly, shouting, "TENKA HADOUKEN!" Souzou Tennou was blasted far, far away, reduced to a little speck on the horizon.
As punishment for my use of physical force, our magical costumes evaporated away, leaving us back in our normal clothes. Oh darn!
"That was awful!" Wakage whined, falling to her knees. "You suck! And you suck! Everything sucks!"
Akagane and Hisui stood up, still holding each other. Shirogane bowed to us and said, "Father, Ani-ue, Sexy Lady, thank you for rescuing Mother. I will now return to the future." He produced a key which opened a glowing portal and stepped into it.
Akagane called after him, "Shirogane! We were victorious here this day! That means, as the bake-inu promised, we will return to the village safely and be a part of your future as well!"
Shirogane turned back to him, an uneasy look on his face, and admitted, "Oh, actually, you--" but the portal closed before he could finish.
Hisui absently played at Akagane's shoulder straps and said, "I'm sure that wasn't meant to be anything dire. You've already defeated Souzou Tennou, right?" She gave him a pat on the chest, then said, "I... should get home and get changed. I'll see you there, okay?"
Akagane nodded. "Yeah..."
Hisui scampered off, and I turned around and noticed that Ryakki had disappeared. "Wait... Ryakki-chan stole my mother's pelt from Souzou Tennou... now where'd she go?!"
Akagane smirked and let out a little chuckle. "At least she will likely be an easier opponent than Souzou Tennou." Parting Ryakki with something she'd stolen? I wouldn't be so sure.
Wakage shook her head and threw up her hands. "I don't really care about your mother either way. I just came here to avenge my sister, but thanks to you I couldn't even do anything!" She waved and wandered off, too. "Later, suckers."
We watched her walk off and shrugged at each other, and I said, "Anyway, ready to track down that mother-nabbing thief?"
Akagane nodded. "For love and justice."
I faltered a moment and gave him a dirty look, before the two of us ran off together deeper into the cavern. It was almost over. And then, we'd be going home.