Kaze no Stigma:Ignition Volume1 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - Ayano-chan's Misfortune
Normally at this hour, there should be no one in Seiryo Academy. The fully automated security system allowed this place to not require any teacher or guards to station here. It was impossible to avoid the sensors situated at the different significant spots and infiltrate the school. Once an abnormality was detected, the guards would be here within five minutes.
However, tonight was an exception. At this moment, a few shadows that obviously did not belong to those of guards, were loitering around school campus, not bothering to hide themselves.
“So------ Let the first Seiryo Academy ghost exorcism tour set off now!”
A girl raised her hand in declaration upon the lightless pitch black corridor. The soft slightly curly hair wavered with that exaggerated action, that gesture looked very cute.
Beside her, another short haired girl emotionlessly blew her trumpet.
Pabuuu------ A sound that spoiled the atmosphere echoed around their surroundings.
Ayano shouted. Just like how Caesar cried out “Brutus, even you……” when he was dying.
“You should stop Yukari!? Why are you joining her instead!”
Nanase did not reply, but blew the trumpet once more instead------ Looked like she is enjoying it.
“Don’t be so depressed.”
“Yukari shut up!”
The start of this goes back to several hours ago.
Ayano, who got to the headmaster’s office upon hearing the school broadcast, suddenly took up a job request. Of course, as an Enjutsushi that controls flames------ Ayano Kannagi.
“Is it a “human spirit”?”
“Yes. It is said that after dark, there will be countless spirits flying around in the campus. As it has begun affecting curriculum activities, I hope you will exorcise them as soon as possible.”
Differing from the term “Mysterious studies”, the fact that ghosts and magic exists was common sense to people of a certain social standing.
Schools has always been one of the two biggest origins for ghost stories, together with hospitals, and as someone managing a school, it is only right for him to know of the name Kannagi. This wasn’t the first time Ayano had gotten a request from the headmaster.
“I have already talked to your father about it, it will commence tonight.”
Since it was an official request, naturally, Ayano had no objections. She straightened herself and replied:
”I got it. Leave it to me.”
Hearing a confident promise, the headmaster nodded in satisfaction.
And so, Ayano and the Fuujutsushi Kazuma Yagami infiltrated the school at night together. But------
“……Why are you guys here?”
Faced with Ayano who was staring at her with squinted eyes, Shinomiya Yukari showed a cute smile.
This girl was just like Kudo Nanase, both were Ayano’s best of friends. She has a lot of connections, and even though she is currently the secretary of the student council, she has private information networks among different committees and the more popular clubs, and even among the teaching staff.
And even though this information network has only been established for a year, but it is said to be the biggest in the school already------ Even so, can it really get to know the contents of the one-to-one speech with the headmaster on the day itself?
“Could it be…… that you planted a listening device in the headmaster’s office?”
“Gee, Ayano how can you ask such a question.”
Yukari bore the smile of a obedient child and made a vague reply.
Even though Ayano knew clearly that she was playing dumb, Ayano had no intentions of probing further. If Yukari said: “Aren’t you asking the obvious?” someday, it would still be fine, but if she said: “That is but of course”, Ayano really had no idea what to say then.
Ayano began to change the topic, trying to convince Yukari:
“Anyway, you guys should head back quickly, the season for bravery competitions is summer.”
On a side-note, it was December now and the school was so cold it left one trembling even without the scares.
“But it doesn’t necessarily mean that ghosts would appear in summer.
Besides, I am a member of the student council, how can I ignore ghosts that is a threat the school!”
Yukari held her fist tight, saying those words righteously. But, this didn't cover the curiosity that was being revealed from within her eyes------ Or should it be phrased as that she had no intentions of hiding them.
Understanding that there was no way she could convince Yukari, Ayano sighed deeply. The only way to let them go back quietly was probably by force.
“Kazuma, don’t you have anything to say?”
“Not at all. If you bring these two along, you better take up the responsibility to protect them well.”
Kazuma said in a tone as if it didn't concern him. Ayano knew very clearly, this was not a joke. If the two of them were in danger, this man would probably never lend a helping hand.
“…… Big jerk……”
After grumbling softly, Ayano turned to face Yukari. Yukari bore a usual------ Or should it be said, a smile that was certain of her victory.
“You guys have to obey my instructions, don’t act on your own.”
“Okay, don’t worry♥”
Hearing this sentence that was equivalent to a defeat declaration, Yukari nodded in agreement instantly. Following that, she announced loudly:
“So------ Let’s set off now!”
Some time had passed, but nothing happened. As they loitered aimlessly in the school campus, Ayano asked Kazuma:
“Sense any abnormalities?”
“------Nope, nothing special.”
As a fuujutsushi that commands the wind and air, it was a piece of cake for Kazuma to sense the entire school premises.
Ayano only completely trusted this ability of his as well, and so said:
“Looks like everything is normal, so let’s just head back.”
“No such thing------ Ghosts definitely exist!”
Seeing Ayano’s intention to give up immediately, Yukari said confidently.
“This school has a very long history, so many things happened before. For example, five years ago, someone jumped off from the roof, and got stuck on the Sakura tree------”
“Then doesn’t that mean she didn’t die?”
“No, she died. Normally speaking, the branches should catch her like a spring bed, but that girl’s back hit a rather strong branch, and so her backbone broke just like that. So, it is said that when everyone found her, the corpse was in a state where it was bent backwards, the back of her head and her feet were almost together, hanging on the branch gruesomely------”
“Ahhh! Stop talking! How gross!”
“Huh------ We were just getting to the good part-------”
“This isn’t about whether its good! If there really had been some ghost haunting the school for five years, I would have realized long ago back when I just got to Junior high!”
“Is that so? Aren’t you really slow on this kind of stuff normally?”
Even though she shouted out to protest, but Ayano seemed to have noticed her own slowness in such issues, and then looks towards her back with an irritated look on her face.
“Even if I didn’t notice, he would definitely not miss anything. There is no ghost that can escape Kazuma’s eyes------”
Ayano suddenly shut up in the middle of her sentence, frowning slightly, because she sensed wind coming from behind her. In an enclosed school environment, there was air flow that should not possibly exist.
Before she could react to it, the gentle wind suddenly became a strong gust of wind. The upward air flow in the narrow corridor lifted the girls’ skirts up.
With the cries of three, a mixture of three colors, pure white, striped and black lace------ Needless to say which belonged to who------ stood out clearly in the dim corridor.
Ayano held her skirt down hurriedly, and turns her head around with a red face.
Kazuma looked around with a troubled look on his face.
He mumbles to himself, following that he placed his eyes straight ahead. And so------ his eyes met with those of the furious Ayano.
He seemed to have realized what happened, so Kazuma opened his mouth to apologize with his greatest sincerity:
”Did you think just a “Sorry” would be fine!!”
Ayano unsheathed Enraiha immediately, and swung this sacred blade of exorcism that was used to vanquish evil down at the head of the shameless man before her.
“Go to hell! Big pervert! Die! Go and die right now!”
Faced with these angry attacks, Kazuma unhurriedly dodges. He did not leave the attack range of the sword, but instead pressed closer towards it.
After dodging several tens of attacks, Kazuma finally took an offensive stand. He grabbed the hand that Ayano wielded Enraiha with, and pulled gently.
Ayano who lost her balance knelt onto the floor. At the next instant, a ball of light flew past coincidentally at the place Ayano's head was.
Ayano was stunned for a second, but her body made instinctive reactions to take on a battle stance.
At this moment, she thought to herself, this should be an attack by the enemy.
“------Who is it!?”
Ayano hurriedly faced the direction at which the ball of light came from, raising the Enraiha in her hand. But there was no one there.
“There is no one there.”
Heaing Kazuma’s words, Ayano finally relaxeed, putting Enraiha down.
“……Who did that just now?”
Kazuma shrugs his shoulders.
“Didn’t you say there were no abnormalities?”
Ayano stared at Kazuma with eyes of suspicion.
She couldn’t really tell what, but Kazuma’s attitude was really strange.
To describe it, he appeared to be overly calm. If what Kazuma said was true, then a mysterious enemy had just attacked without Kazuma noticing at all, and then vanished without a trace.
An enemy with such great power was currently hiding somewhere within the school. Just this alone should make Kazuma nervous.
Just as Ayano wanted to question further, a chirpy voice came from behind her suddenly, calling Ayano’s name:
“Ayano! You see you see! There are Ghosts! I was right wasn’t I? But, it moved too quickly just now, I didn’t manage to grab a shot in time.”
Turning her head around, she found Yukari holding a digital camera from who knows where, her face full of smiles.
Ayano wass lazy to rebut that how can there be ghosts flying at that kind of high speed, and used an unenergetic voice to reply:
“……Yeah, gee great.”
Failing to notice the sarcasm within, Yukari nodded happily.
“Have you found that fellow just now?”
“Not a trace.”
Ayano and gang resumed their search, but were still lingering without a goal. After all, Kazuma who was the main force in the party did’t seem enthusiastic about it. And so, their actions came to a still halt.
Ayano slanted her eyes to stare at Kazuma, trying to see what she could tell from his expression, but gave up instantly. Ayano is very certain that with such a simple personality, it is impossible for her to tell what Kazuma, a guy that was hard to deal with, was thinking.
In the end, Ayano decided to take an action that suited her personality the most, that is to ask Kazuma straightforwardly:
“Kazuma, you are hiding something from me right?”
“What? You wanna get to know more about me all of a sudden?”
“Don’t joke with me!”
Ayano stared at Kazuma who was trying to change the topic with sharp eyes. At the same time she grabbed his collar, pulling that cheeky face toward her.
“Spill it out! Tell me everything you know.”
“Or else I will strangle you to death”------ Ayano questioned him with such a “gentle” smile. But, Kazuma took an unexpected move of retaliation.
He didn't resist at all, instead he pulled the distance between them closer.
Seeing Kazuma getting closer and closer to herself, Ayano could not understand what he’s doing, and couldn’t help but release her grip. But, Kazuma’s face continued to close in------ in the end, his lips touched Ayano’s nose gently.
After being stunned for a few seconds, Ayano suddenly made a weird noise as she retreated backwards.
“You…… You…… What are you doing……”
“Its nothing. I just felt that you would probably let go this way. Just like the story of “The northern winds and the sun”.”
Pachunk, nerves gathered at Ayano’s temple instantly.
“You……. You are really a……”
Her furious anger turned to power, emerging from Ayano’s body. She had gottene serious about it entirely, preparing to gather her powers for a full fledge strike.
At this moment, Kazuma used his usual tone, opening his mouth to say slowly:
“By the way------”
“You should look ahead when you are walking.”
Ayano turned her head back hurriedly, and saw a trace of the ball of light flying straight at her instantly.
Judging from the distance, it was approximately ten centimeters away, there was no way she could dodge it. That glaring cold light made Ayano feel as though she saw her own death.
She couldn’t scream, even her thoughts stopped right there. And just like that, the ball of light hit Ayano’s forehead directly, giving her a strong impact.
Ayano screamed out, and fell backwards entirely. Kazuma looked coldly at the girl lying with her limbs spread wide on the ground, and grumbled in his mouth:
“Be it the scream or the pose when she fell onto the ground, why isn’t there any sign of femininity in them?”
“Because it's Ayano.”
Yukari answered instantly. Kazuma nodded in agreement.
“Ahh, sounds very reasonable.”
“What did you say!”
Ayano jumped up to protest immediately. But Kazuma ignored her and shifted his eyes above him.
The ball of light that hit Ayano, was currently staying still around the ceiling, as if confirming the results from the hit. Kazuma squinted his eyes, trying to see what was within that ball of light. At this moment------
“Head back! Head back!”
The will of the ball of light sounded off directly within the consciousness of the gang. As if threatening, the light flickered, transmitting a strong hostility.
“Do not continue any further! Or else you won’t be so lucky next time!”
“Stop fooling around!”
Tossing all suspicion and shock aside, Ayano shouted back reflectively, releasing flames at the same time.
The ball of light dodged in the nick of time, giving a cute scream at the same time. Any ghosts or ghouls that comes into contact with the flame of the Kannagi even slightly will perish. Yet, the ball of light did not seem to have suffered any damage.
“Big idiot------! Watch it------!”
“Don’t even think about escaping!”
Aimed directly at the ball of light that tried to escape, Ayano was just about to release flames. But------
An instant before releasing her flames, Kazuma knocked Ayano’s hand away. The palm that changed its direction released golden flames right below it.
The floor caught fire instantly.
“You…… What are you doing!?”
“That’s not important, let’s extinguish the flame quickly.”
Kazuma ran far away, and pointed to the fire on the floor as he spoke.
“Don’t make such sarcastic remarks!”
Ayano protested as she calmed the fire spirits down, extinguishing the fire in such a manner. In the end, a big hole was burnt in the floor.
“……Look, what should we do now.”
“Why ask me?”
Faced with Ayano’s grumble, Kazuma just shrugged his shoulders, without a shred of sincerity.
Ayano glared at Kazuma with eyes filled with murderous intent at this moment.
“Fine, I won’t hold you responsible for this. Tell me everything!
Why did you stop me just now?”
A tone that allowed no room for error. Those eyes seemed to be telling the other party that if he doesn’t reply honestly, he would suffer.
Kazuma’s eyes shifted around, as if pondering about something. In the end, he finally broke the silence:
“Well------ Didn’t that guy threaten us “not to go any further”? That is to say, that guy probably is doing something somewhere. So instead of killing it, why not let it live so it can lead the way for us.”
Kazuma gave a bunch of reasons. Yet Ayano looked at him suspiciously.
“Why does this seem like an excuse you came up with at the last minute?”
“How can that be? Fuu-jutsushis don’t lie.”
“From what kind of old timed movie did this line come?------ Fine, if that's the case, how are we to find its position?”
Understanding that it won’t help at all to continue questioning him, Ayano changed the direction of her questioning.
“Well, there’s got to be some way------ Let’s go.”
With that, Kazuma showed a deep smile and without hesitation stepped off.
Following the shriek, the girls all “slipped” down from the stairs. And as she was falling, Ayano got a glimpse of Kazuma who was standing beside the wall, his feet actually pinned securely against the slope.
“You are so heartless------! Caring only for yourself------!”
Just before knocking into the staircase platform, Ayano screamed at the top of her voice.
Under the lead of Kazuma, the gang started searching for the ball of light, their direction was correct. They have had several encounters with the ball of light------ Each time they get vigorously attacked.
The floor suddenly became abnormally smooth, causing Yukari to have a great fall.
The direction of gravity suddenly turned upside down. Nanase’s entire body broke through the ceiling, half her body getting stuck within.
And now, the stairs suddenly disappeared, becoming a steep slope. The three girls, like comedians, came tumbling down one by one.
“What…… is going on……”
Ayano shook her head as she stood up.
The power that the ball of light uses was just like magic in fairytales. How to achieve such effects, the cause-effect in-between is hard to guess.
Kazuma slid down behind them. Ayano stared at him angrily:
”Even at this stage, you refuse to let me use my powers?”
“What do you mean? Did any of us even get hurt?”
Ayano was unable to say anything then, falling into silence.
Kazuma was right. The strange phenomenon that the ball of light caused, though it seemed exaggerating, almost did not cause any harm.
Even though it possessed amazing powers that can even destroy the entire school, all it did was like a child’s prank. Just what does that ball of light have in mind, Ayano couldn't understand at all.
“I suggest you don’t waste your effort, no one knows what it is thinking.”
As if seeing through Ayano’s thoughts, Kazuma said so. From his tone, he obviously knew what was the true identity of the ball of light.
Ayano stared straight at the cheeky Kazuma.
Even though he was flippant on the surface, Kazuma’s work attitude had always been serious. Once he accepted the rewards, he will take up his responsibility.
Even for those suspicious actions, there must be some hidden reason behind them. But------
“……Because you won’t tell me anything.”
She looked at Kazuma with eyes filled with grudge, and said this in an unhappy tone. Kazuma patted on Ayano’s head gently like coaxing a child.
“I am not keeping things from you. It is just that I still don’t have clear evidence, even if I tell you now it won’t help.”
Ayano said coldly, turning around in disgust. Kazuma saw this, and whispered softly by her ear:
“Its true------ Believe me. I am here just to protect you.”
A fatal hit. The sweet words that flowed into her ear smashed all consciousness of resistance.
(~~! Why does this guy’s voice sound so sweet……)
It felt as if the relaxing low pitch voice goes past her eardrums, and got transmitted straight to her brain. Her heart throbbed, her body beginning to heat up. The voice echoed in her mind, causing her to be unable to think anymore-------
------ As a result------
When Ayano realized that she had been fooled, it was already the next morning------ after everything was already over.
“I wonder what is going to happen next------”
Walking beside Ayano, Yukari says happily, the pitch near the end of the sentence going slightly higher.
“Huh------? Ah, yeah you’re right.”
Seeing the still unfocused Ayano, Yukari looked at her with mischievous eyes.
“Don’t begin letting your guard down just because Kazuma-san will protect you.”
“That’s right. It is fine for you to indulge in your prince and princess fantasies, but the one in charge of protecting us is you, so please pull yourself together.”
Nanase appeared beside Ayano and used a deep smile to say. Ayano blushed all the way to her ears.
“Non……. Nonsense……. I didn’t……!”
She refuted loudly, while secretly observing Kazuma. Kazuma had now regained his usual self.
There was no way that he didn’t notice Ayano’s gaze, but Kazuma still seemed oblivious of it, being so calm that made one feel unpleasant about it.
Without knowing why, the more Ayano looked at him, the angrier she got, walking on her own at the front of the party------ Suddenly, she stops in her steps.
“What’s the matter?”
“I should be asking you that! Where are we headed to next? Give the next instruction already!”
Even though she was walking ahead, yet she was putting up an impatient look. Kazuma knew that she was just trying to vent her anger, and so treated her as he always did.
“Just go straight ahead like this. If you went the wrong way I would tell you.”
“------ You still refuse to tell me the destination?”
Looking at Ayano who bore an unpleasant tone, Kazuma thought deeply for some time.
“Destination------ is outside. Probably the backyard.”
“Backyard? On what basis is your guess?”
Towards Ayano who questioned once more, Kazuma answered discretely:
“The wind are all gathered at the same location from all directions, and that spot is the backyard. I am not a specialist in this area, so I cannot be certain, but it seems they can control the geographic flow.”
“Aren’t you a wind specialist? Why didn’t you notice immediately?”
“Why? Because it is too natural.”
Kazuma replied without hesitation.
“Besides, no matter how slow you are, you probably would've noticed long ago right? Why do you always only notice the moment before the ball of light strikes? And let it escape every single time as well?”
“This is because------”
Actually Ayano noticed it as well. The existence of the ball of light was very natural, there was no strange feeling like those from a supernatural being like the spirit of a dead person and their weird “ki” from the ball of light.
That is to say, that ball of light was a “normal” existence that this world recognizes. And so, jutsushis that are used to tracking demonic auras find it hard to pick up its trace.
“Seems like trouble.”
This comment had two meanings, one being that the enemy was hard to pick up.
And the other being, the enemy was not an “evil being”.
A being that possessed intelligence, able to communicate with people yet not human. Ayano had never fought with such an enemy before and when the time comes, Ayano is not sure whether she can destroy the enemy with her flames.
“It is pointless thinking so much, let’s just head to the backyard.”
Tossing away her unanswerable thoughts, Ayano walked in front of the group once more.
Passing by the hall with shoe cabinets, the group walked out of the school campus through the front entrance. Once they left the school campus, the backyard could be easily seen.
Kazuma followed behind Yukari and Nanase and walked to the open space. At this moment, his gaze shifted slightly upwards.
“What’s the matter?”
Ayano with her sharp ears asks.
“Nah, its nothing------ I just feel that that guy really controlled it well.”
“What are you talking abo------”
Just as Ayano was trying to ask again.
With a loud sound, Ayano’s eyes turned to darkness instantly. The rest on the other hand, looked at this scene with an unbelievable look on their face.
After several second, Yukari broke the silence first:
“Wow, what a classic trap♥”
“Indeed. I never thought I could actually witness it in real life.”
As if having seen some miracle, Nanase placed her palms together to express her gratitude------ and she targeted it at Ayano, who stood there motionless, with a bucket that fell from the sky on her head.
“Wahahahaha! Stupid fool, you deserved it------!”
An unscrupulous mockery rang within their minds.
The source was obvious. Under the night sky, the ball of light danced happily, forming a mystical scene------ But, that was also the premonition of the disaster to come.
Suddenly, the metallic gray bucket covering Ayano glowed with a red brilliance. The red metal melted off in an instant, flowing down along Ayano’s body onto the ground.
After shaking off the metal piece that was stuck on her hair forcefully, Ayano stared up into the sky peacefully.
Her eyes did not shift the slightest bit.
Ten seconds ago, she was still hesitant about whether to fight, but now all of those thoughts have vanished without a trace. Ayano pulled out Enraiha immediately and slashed upwards forcefully, the tip of her sword giving off golden flames at the same time.
Dodge and dodge------ The ball of light began to run in all directions. And the search light-like golden flames sliced through the dark night, following closely behind it.
Witnessing this shocking scene, Yukari and Nanase couldn’t help but look at each other.
“This…… Doesn’t seem good.”
“It may even attract the police.”
With a silent expectation, they both looked at Kazuma at the same time.
“……Gee, that idiot.”
Kazuma said impatiently, and then walked towards Ayano. From the way he walked, he seems to be taking silent steps as he pleased, and with that, he snuck up behind Ayano, and grabbed the hand that was raising Enraiha high up.
“Let go of me!”
“You are so noisy, get a grip on yourself.”
Seeing Ayano who was about to burst into tears, Kazuma sighed deeply:
“…… Don’t cry, it is just joking with you.”
“Then have you ever been hit with a bucket? Such humiliation can only be understood by someone who experienced it for himself!”
“I don’t want to understand it at all.”
He replied simply, and turned to look at the ball of light floating in mid air. The floating object that was flying in an irregular manner, seemed to be obviously playing around with Ayano.
Kazuma warned the ball of light:
“Our princess cannot take it anymore. Stop the pranks.”
“No way! Catch me if you can!”
The attitude of the ball of light seemed really arrogant.
Towards that taunting response, Kazuma squinted his eyes slightly. At this moment, the ball of light suddenly began to fall.
An awkward cry followed along------
It dropped down.
Ayano looked at the ball of light. She seemed to have forgotten her anger from just now, and asked:
“------What did you do?”
“I just cancelled her lift.” [Translator’s notes: Lift refers to those of airplanes. When wind blows under the wings of the plane, a upward force called “lift” is created. Or I believe this is what he means. If anyone finds a better explanation, please do inform this ignorant translator. Thank you.]
A short reply. Yet this answer made Ayano even more confused.
“Lift? You mean that thing flies with lift?”
The outside of the ball of light looked just like its name, it is a rough sphere shape. No matter how you looked at it, it didn’t seem like a shape that can be affected by lift.
Kazuma did not reply, but just simply stretched his hand out. The ball of light lying on the ground originally was then slowly pulled towards his hand.
The ball of light kept on struggling at first, but gave up all resistance after a while, and rode on the wind itself, stopping before Kazuma. The glow began to dim, revealing its true form within the ball of light.
A small and cute girl around twenty centimeters, was currently waving a pair of transparent wings to float in mid air.
“This is a…… Sprite?”
Ayano opened her eyes wide, understanding it all at the same time. Pixie------ This type of sprite with wings, has a mischievous personality. They enjoy instant entertainment, and would sometimes come into the human world and cause some extravagant pranks.
The pixie seemed to enjoy the attention, and blinked with a cute look.
“Call me Tiana♥”
“Who cares what your name is! Why are you causing trouble for everyone!?”
“Because I don’t want humans to get close.”
“This is a place where humans live, don’t fool around.”
“I don’t care------”
Tiana lifted her head, and said arrogantly.
Ayano wanted to use Enraiha to punish her, but was stopped by Kazuma.
“Why do you seem unlike yourself today? Don’t throw a tantrum at work.”
After hearing Kazuma’s words, only then does Ayano realized she was too emotional. Even though she knew that she was at work, she just couldn’t seem to control her emotions……
(This is strange indeed. Just what is wrong with me------?)
Ayano’s query in her mind was instead answered by Yukari voluntarily . She bore with her urge to laugh and told Kazuma:
“Because, Ayano is of the same mental age as that sprite.”
“Just like “Tom and Jerry”.”
“------Ahh, so that’s why.”
After hearing Nanase’s complementing statement, Kazuma nodded in agreement. Ayano’s blood pressure shot way high instantly.
“Wait! You mean to say I am the same as that bug that only has a tiny bit of brain capacity!? You must be joking!”
“Wait a minute! Don’t put me on the same level as this woman who has nothing but brute strength! This is a serious humiliation!”
At almost the same time as Ayano, Tiana made a protest as well. As the timing was too coincidental, the other three did not say anything at first------ after a few seconds all three began laughing altogether.
“Hey! What are you laughing about!? Don’t laugh! Stop laughing already!!”
The angrier Ayano was, the more comical it seemed. The laughter lasted for several minutes continuously.
“Phew------ That was a good laugh.”
After finally managing to hold onto his urge to burst out laughing, Kazuma exhaled, satisfied. On the other hand, Ayano shifted her face to the side in fury, ignoring the other three completely.
Kazuma walked to Ayano’s side, and softly caressed her head, consoling her:
“Don’t be angry. I will treat you to a meal next time.”
Ayano widened her eyes, turning her head over abruptly.
“You…… What did you just say……”
“Great, it’s a date.”
Yukari said with a “pure and innocent” expression.
“No…… no, it isn’t……”
Ayano tried to deny with blushed ears, but thought of something, and stared at Kazuma with a suspicious glare:
“By your treating to a meal, you don’t mean burgers at a fast food or something right?”
“You can eat anything you want.”
“You said it yourself! Be prepared! I am gonna eat till you're bankrupt!”
“Yes yes, as you wish, princess. So then, let’s settle things now.”
Kazuma responded to Ayano’s taunt very simply, and then walked off on his own. Ayano who wanted to catch up with him, was stopped by someone who held onto her neck from behind.
Nanase laid onto Ayano’s back, saying softly:
“Congratulations on having your first date.”
“I….. I told you that’s not it……”
Even though she says so, Ayano still couldn't control her accelerated heartbeat.
“By the way, what do you guys intend to do in the backyard?”
Kazuma asked Tiana who was flying above his head. Knowing that she couldn't hide it any further, the sprite answered honestly:
“We aren’t doing anything bad, we are just granting the last wish of a dying old gramps.”
Kazuma could not understand, and turned to look at Ayano.
“Don’t tell me that wanderers live in the backyard?”
“How can that be possible?”
While chatting, the gang reached the backyard. From the outside nothing seems to be special about it, but Kazuma found the problematic spot instantly.
“------That is the focus.”
Planted among the trees in the backyard, there was a gigantic Sakura tree[cherry blossom]. Energy gathered from the heavens and earth, was currently being poured into this tree.
“Focus? “The cursed sakura tree”?”
Hearing Yukari speaking to herself, Kazuma turned his head around to ask:
“As I mentioned before, the sakura tree that the suicidal girl got hanged onto. From that year on, the entire tree no longer blossomed. People began having rumors, that it is because the suicidal girl placed a curse, so it is called “the cursed sakura tree”.”
“…… That suicide happened five years ago right? A sakura tree that doesn’t blossom was just left here for five years?”
“Yeah, after all the tree is very old. But, I heard that they plan to chop it down during the winter holidays.”
Yukari revealed information that only the teaching staff know without realizing it.
“So that’s it.”
Kazuma nodded slightly, and then looked at Tiana above him.
“So then, work hard.”
Waving her transparent wings, the small sprite flew towards the cherry tree. At the same time, countless balls of light appeared from different areas of the branches.
The glowing sprites, as if toying around, began dancing to their hearts content around the sakura tree, the originally messy actions, slowly became neat and tidy, forming a circle that surrounds the sakura tree in the end.
The sprites danced continuously, granting the final wish of the dying tree, letting its flowers blossom one last time.
The circle of sprites kept spinning, the glowing circle lent its life to the old tree. In the end------
The originally withering tree began becoming young once more. The dry bark showed luster & buds grew out from the thin branches. The flower buds expanded instantly, revealing sakura flowers.
The pink sakura flowers blossomed, decorating the old tree to its former glory. The petals that fell with the wind, danced in the air under the frolic-like effort of the sprites that showed a bright brilliance.
Almost covering as far as the eyes can see, a beautiful sight of sakura petals as if they are snowing down, and the dancing sprites. And the gigantic sakura tree that stood tall in the center------ Anyone would link this to the term “Paradise”. That's how dreamy the scene truly was.
Yet, just like how it began, the end came suddenly as well. The sakura flowers stopped falling, and when their sights became clear once more, before them was a tree similar------ No, even older than before it blossomed.
Perhaps the old tree had used up all its remaining life for that brief moment of beauty and magnificence. Now, there was not a shred of life that could be felt from the tree.
As if announcing the end of the carnival, the sprites gradually flew up into the sky. The last ball of light on the other hand circled above Kazuma and gang, as if bidding farewell, and then flew off with its companions.
------This was the true end of a mysterious event mixed with reality and fantasy.
“Wow------ It was such a wonderful scene------”
Yukari murmured with all sorts of feelings in her heart, Ayano nodded in agreement. She looked at the old tree that made a perfect closure with respect.
“Yeah, even though a lot of unlucky things happened. But just thinking about that scene then, they all seem unimportant.”
Ayano said. Yet Kazuma looks at her with peculiar eyes.
“------No, it's nothing.”
“If you have something to say, say it. Acting all mysterious all the time.”
Seeing Kazuma equivocate, Ayano questioned further. And so, Kazuma struggled to speak:
“To protect something, the best way is to not let anyone notice its existence.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“As long as no one notices, it won’t get attacked, nor will people come close. But, we noticed the abnormality, and it was when we were chasing that sprite that was loitering in the school.”
“That is to say, what the sprite did was not protecting something. They are mischievous, but they aren’t stupid, there is no way they didn’t notice this.”
“So then, why did she……”
“You still don’t know the personality of sprites?”
Love pranks, enjoying fun. Naïve and pure like a child, acts without thinking------
Kazuma shrugged, and got to the main point:
“That guy only wanted to play with humans.”
Ayano lowered her head, her entire body trembling. Everyone around her seemed to have understood what was about to happen, and fled the scene quickly.
With eyes that were about to burst into flames, Ayano stared furiously in the direction at which the sprites left.
“Get your asses back here! Dumb sprites! I am gonna roast every single one of you------------!!”
The angry roar echoed pointlessly within the dark school.
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