7 Nights:Chapter 02 part2
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Chapter 2 - Wield the fabled blade - Part 2
Though Suijou Academy (our school) has both middle and high schools, it doesn't mean that the grounds they are on are separate. Located where both schoolhouses can use, there is a canteen, a gymnasium, and a clubroom building. The reinforced-concrete, three-story clubroom complex was, in a single word, "chaos".
"Like there's a weird smell or something ..."
From the start, garbage and junk from the various clubs are occupying both sides of the narrow corridor.
"Ah, but this is bliss. The stench of garbage everywhere makes you feel good."
"My god ... . You could keep a cool face around here."
"You'll get used to it. Is this your first time here?"
"It's not my first time, but ... ... I'm not as used here as you are."
"Well get used to it. Or you'll have to think of some other place."
"I'm all right here. I think I'll be all right if I get used to this place. I'll lose my appetite if it smells really bad."
As she is speaking those lines, I led her to a room on the second floor. She's looking up on the name plate on the door,
"SF Study Group ... ? You sure have a strange interest."
"Sorry, but I'm on the tennis club. This is my friend's place as club chief."
BTW, because the thrown away stuff like tennis uniforms and towels (already used) in the tennis club room is mixing with the humidity and heat giving off a very nasty smell, it's definitely not a good place to eat.
Knocking at the SF's door, I slid the door without waiting for a reply. The door opened readily, being unlocked. There was no one in the club room.
"S ... sorry for intruding ..."
Akeno looks hesitant in entering. Then she let out a scream.
Well, that's probably a normal reaction.
Six mats wide, the club room was surrounded by bookshelves. The bookshelves themselves are closely packed with novels and manga. Above the shelves are figures and plastic models large and small lining up, the ceiling is filled with anime posters, video games new and used jam below the TV rack, above the PC desk are software a high school student should not be able to buy, trading cards are scattering about in the table. I too was drawn in when I first entered this room.
"... sorry about that"
I guide her (who's prepared for the worst) to the bench, and I lowered myself on the chair in front of the table.
"Well, we can talk here, we just don't mind the surroundings."
As she said that with a bitter smile, she brought out two lunchboxes. The smallish, pretty, pink box must be hers. And the normal-sized, blue, angular box ---
I awkwardly accept the lunchbox handed over by Akeno.
"You must be nervous and worried ..."
"I guess that can't be helped. This is the first time I got a lunchbox from a girl. Why would it happen like this I don't know ..."
"It's my first time too. But, I think I must return the favor for helping me. This is the only thing that I can think of."
As she say that plainly, she lowered her eyebrows for her next punishment.
"Then, I must apologize. I'm sorry ... for inflicting injuries to you many times."
She says that with her head lowered.
"I .. it's all right. For that to happen within the dream doesn't mean it will happen in reality. Besides, saving you, I think, is what is expected of me."
I said my intentions for following, but then,
"... ... well then, won't you accept it?"
Her face unnecessarily frowned.
"No, well, that's not what I mean. I mean I'm thankful I received the lunchbox. So, there's no "lending and giving", right?"
She finally smiled. ... ... I think her smile's sneaky.
After regaining our composure, we dug in on the food (itadakimasu!). And open the lunchbox lids. Croquette sprinkled over the cooked rice and salad was the lineup. My mother would prepare my lunchbox from basically last evening's leftovers, but this one looked especially prepared. Not bad for Akeno's mother.
Separating the croquette with my chopsticks, I bring a piece into my mouth. Compared to the others on the lunchbox, this one's crunchy and not soggy, the taste of potato and minced meat spreading throughout. Not bad!
"... ... ..."
Goes, as I met Akeno's eyes. Akeno did not touch my lunchbox, and watched me tasting it with a stony face.
"? what is it?"
"Ah, nothing ... . How's the taste?"
"Very delicious. More so than my mother's, if were talking on croquettes only."
I express it frankly. Muttering "thank goodness", her expression softened.
"I've prepared the lunch hurriedly in the morning so I have no confidence on it, but it seems you were able to enjoy it. I'm flattered but happy, thank you."
"... ... ... eh"
*snap*, my chopsticks stopped. On impulse I look at her. Those words, it would mean that ---
"eh? Is it true, this ... you prepared it ... !?"
"Yeah, it's true so?"
"... ... ..."
Just what is this! So this is what the boys desire for, a lunchbox made by the girls themselves ... !!
"Wh, what is that for! Don't be surprised that I made it. I, too, can quite cook!"
"No, that's not it, that's not it ..."
Ah, I wonder what is the best of of conveying my feelings? The boys in most romances must have a hard time understanding their girl's feelings ---.
"... I tell you, I thought at first your mother prepared this lunchbox. For you to actually prepare this, you're actually quite good, well ..."
"... ah, thank you. For you to complement ... I'm abashed."
She hung her head bashfully, and to hide it she began to eat her own lunchbox. Perhaps this is what Nazumu is saying. With the way it's going, she too has a nice personality. Now I know why boys fall in love with her. So, listen up Sakuya, so even if you receive this handmade lunchbox as a token of gratitude, this does not mean that she's finally interested in you, got that?
While these are fighting within me, I stuffed myself with the food from the lunchbox when ...
"... ... uuuhhhh ... "
Out from nowhere I heard a groan.
"! what's that now ... ?"
Both Akeno and I looked around the room worriedly. Must be because of the nightmare last night we have become cowards. Even as we thought "there's no way that would happen", vigilance is a prudent course of action.
"... ... uuuu ... uhn ... "
We've heard it again! It's close, was it within this room? But we can't see anything weird no matter how much we scanned the room.
"----- kya !?"
Akeno let out a high scream. A leg was sticking out onto the bench. As I clearly saw the whites from within her skirt, I instinctively dropped my chopsticks.
"Below!! There's something below ... !!!"
And, she's clearly not fascinated. She jumped back from the bench and ran for the door. I stood up and looked down the bench across. From an opening, I see something creeping. It is creeping about as it makes a rasping sound.
"This" has two arms, two legs, and a head. "Its" body was wearing indoor shoes, slacks, and a suit, in other words, a human.
As "it" gets up it made a loud yawn. With unkempt hair and a pair of glasses,
"Ah, it must be Sakuya-kun. And then ... and, well, this girl?"
"It" was Teru-san.
"You, of all the places to come out ..."
I smile bitterly. Akeno is still totally dumbstruck.
"It was just a short noon rest. Quite wonderful, no? I'm covered there, so I don't worry about being found by a patrolling teacher."
"I see, so Teru's been skipping morning classes and slept here."
"Correction. I was allowed to escape from PE."
"*sigh*, and is that allowable for you, a scholar?"
"As long as I study, the scholarship office won't be mad at me."
Hiruma shamelessly shrugged his shoulders as he said that.
In Suijou Academy, there are students on "special course". Compared to normal students, these "special course students" (scholars) are primarily given financial support. Depending on the students' grades, various benefits apply like tuition fee discounts, free tuition, uniform stipend, and monthly stipends. Teru-san is one of them.
"You're the one from yesterday ..."
Akeno greeted him as she calmed down. Which reminds me, the two are engaged in idle talk yesterday morning (Teru-san didn't recognize Akeno, since probably he can't remember other people)
"Let's do the greetings again. He's my friend and chairman of the SF group, Hiruma Teruhiko ... eh ..."
As I say those words I was seized by an uncomfortable feeling. Just like that the two of them are looking suspiciously at me.
"How should I put it, shouldn't we introduce ourselves first ...?
"Ah .. which reminds me,"
I do not at least hear the names from her own mouth. Teru-san has watched curiously at us hidden in depressed feelings.
Having introduced ourselves again, we resumed eating. As Akeno and I are eating our lunchboxes and Teru-san his cup ramen, we discussed our two days worth of dreams. (The club room has some reserve instant ramen and an electric pot to heat water).
The really deserted town, the misunderstanding and quarrels between me and Akeno, the monster dragon attacking us, the woman calling herself Valkyrie saving us, ... ... what happened in Akeno's dream and in my dream ... just about everything matches. This means,
"*Two people experiencing the same dream* might be a valid conclusion ... ..."
Teru-san looked worried as he crunched on.
"But it's not 'experiencing the same dream by chance'. Hoshi-kun told Kasugamori-kun of his own name and class in the middle of the dream only. For her to obtain the information, it only means she visited him, thus the meeting. In short, an information interchange is happening within the dream. How intriguing. And of great interest ..."
As he sipped the ramen soup, he easily nods in assent. It appears that he's more interested in that than either the all-too-real-dream or the dragon appearing within it.
"Two strangers meeting each other in the same dream ... that I cannot understand. Because of that the entire incident cannot be explained fully ..."
"Eh, then it can be explained if we're talking about its logical opposite ..."
"Ah, of course. What you two have seen is a 'lucid dream'"
Teru-san brought out a bottle of ginger ale from the refrigerator and handed us (whose heads were shaking in doubt) a glass each, then began to explain.
"If it can be explained easily, your dreams where your consciousness say it really is one are 'lucid dreams'."
We experience some strangeness when we were totally aware that we were in that dream, but there is an explanation for that phenomenon and, rare as it might be, is not probably that mysterious. As a result from a half-conscious brain, it results to a condition where the consciousness was preserved while within the dream. The five senses were used too in a lucid dream just like in reality.
"As for that lizard-like monstrosity, it's obvious that it is the by-product of that dream. It's possible it spawned because Sakuya-kun probably wished to be the knight for the damsel-in-distress. Or it's because Kasugamori-kun probably wished to be the damsel-in-distress"
As Teru-san infers this, Akeno's lips shoots out,
"I didn't wish for that. Even if I did, I would have chosen a reliable person for a knight."
"Hell I wish for that too. Remembering that horror, I'm not cut out to be a knight. Besides, I'm not the one who brought down that monster."
On hearing my harsh words, Akeno closes her mouth. I prepare a follow-up for Teru-san,
"Or how about this, isn't it strange that random persons are chosen to become partners?"
"That's it, that's where we were stuck at. Even Valkyrie herself must have hesitated at that point. Is she the product of this dream? Or are there really three persons within it?"
As Teru-san slumps down on the table, he gulped down the ginger ale. Akeno looks at him with amazement on her eyes. I too downed my share the juice in one go.
"For her to exist, is it possible? I think she would be a superhuman if she really exists."
"Not actually. In this reality, she cannot hold that much power. Only within the dream is where she becomes superhuman. She must have the means to control this dream."
"A way to control this dream?"
"In a normal dream, there's no way for a person to recognize that he's seeing one. So even if something out this world happens, only he follows what he sees as common sense. To be able to do superhuman stuff involves some degree of mind control."
Sure, for example I could make everyone within the dream wear fundoji; and I thought "this is madness", I too might be in fudonji.
"But your intentions are crystal clear within a lucid dream. You know it's a dream. You're aware that where you're standing on is the product of your id. In that world, your intentions take precedence over even common sense and laws of physics. Wearing fantastic armor, taking down dragons, using magic, all are possible. Everything can change according one's wishes. ... ... Even you guys can change it."
"Even us? Are you sure?"
"First of all, start believing in yourselves. If you're stuck to common sense and to "I can't do that"-like attitude, you cannot do anything."
Teru-san raises his bottle for the last drops, before placing it back on the table.
"Good, for the trials tonight, sleep along with some toys. With luck, you'll have those within your dream, and you might be able to use them for something. You might be able fly if you attach taketonbo on your heads."
"A taketonbo can become a futuristic toy?"
"That's it. Listen, if you lose your tools, you might still be able to fly. It should be easy to imagine."
Tonight I might be in the same dream again. So I'll be following Teru-san's advice. We'll still be meeting here tomorrow after school, so we're dismissed for today.
Finally Teru-san handed me and Akeno each a piece of paper.
"There are only three people here now. If not for you two, this club would have been abolished and that would be problematic. Please think of it as a give and take ---"
Written on each of the papers was "SF study group registration form".
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