-SLASHDØG- Chapter 3 First Half

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Companion/Fourth Person[edit]

Part 1[edit]

Tobio welcomed the morning in one room of the ‘hideout’. It was a modest room with only one bed and a desk. Seeing the black puppy curled up asleep at the foot of the bed, he recognized anew the truthfulness of yesterday’s events. While lying in bed, Tobio exhaled.

……He had also found a ray of hope amid despair. No matter how, in spite of having been attacked by a reality that was hard to accept, he still wanted to save everyone……Sae as well.

Tobio again hardened the resolve in his heart. Having obtained a strong determination, Tobio went over in his mind what today’s goals were.

——Go to meet one of the delinquent students of Ryoukuu High School named Samejima Kouki.

Still in bed, Tobio recalled what he knew about Samejima Kouki. The last time he’d seen him, it was at the joint funeral for their classmates. That would have been a few weeks after the “Heavenly of Aloha issue” maritime accident——.

It was sunny that day Tobio remembered. During a cloudless blue sky the joint funeral service was solemnly performed. It had become unknown whether the 233 students of Ryoukuu High School were alive or dead, however their survival became seemingly hopeless. The remains of the teachers, as well as the crew of the “Heavenly of Aloha”, were found, and were included in the joint funeral.

Outside of the funeral home, the area was overflowing with the media who’d returned, having sniffed out the information, which was also reported on TV.

The funeral ceremony was held on behalf of all the bereaved parents. The funeral was still held under circumstances where it remained unconfirmed if they were alive or dead. Tobio had been doubtful about how they were able to proceed with such a meritorious performance without even the slightest hitch.

The seats for students who like Tobio had survived without having participated in the school trip numbered less than ten seats. There were some vacancies. There was a colleague standing in front of the microphone, saying words of farewell. Listening to them, sobbing leaked out from the bereaved families. But, it was strange. Absolutely, there was this feeling as though the funeral was just being acted out. From the bereaved families, especially those who were parents of students, their sadness gave off a feeling that this was similar to a staged performance. The bereaved families of the students, excluding their crying, didn’t appear like those who are genuinely sad, and despite the situation did not have the appearance of haggardness. At that place, he visibly felt as though it was only the appearance of emotions of sorrow covering up indifference.

At least at the time of his grandmother’s funeral, there wasn’t such a strange feeling of discomfort. It harbored only the sadness that comes from parting with a loved one.

Despite Tobio’s doubts, the funeral had progressed. Thinking back on it now, that “discomfort” had been there at that stage.

The funeral had progressed and already the time for it to conclude was approaching. Then the door was vigorously thrown open by someone entering. About the same age as Tobio, he was a boy whose hair had been dyed a light brown. Everyone in attendance had focused on his appearance. Clasped in the boy’s hand was a bouquet of flowers.

A delinquent had briskly intruded with extreme rudeness. With an expression of surliness in the presence of the deceased, he stood and looked upon a certain memorial portrait. The figure in this portrait, that person was a fierce looking boy with hair dyed brown.

Then, he softly placed the bouquet he had brought upon the altar.

“You idiot……”

Without even joining his hands, he said as much, and then immediately turned on his heel to leave. Having appeared like the wind, the delinquent went and left like the wind.

For Tobio, what left the great impression on him from the joint funeral, was this scene.

It was Samejima Kouki. The most feared delinquent of Ryoukuu High School.

Looking up at the ceiling, *fuu*……letting out a deep sigh, Tobio again sank his head into the pillow.

“……Ryoukuu’s number one delinquent……Samejima.”

Even if he had no prior memory of Minagawa Natsume, he could still distinctly remember Samejima Kouki.

With such self-derision, he covered his eyes with his arm. In the case of that young man in high school, since he carried such a title of delinquency it was only that he remembered him, or so he thought. It was the one type of person that one must avoid during everyday school life.

“Shark isn’t a bad person.”

Such a voice was heard from nearby. It was a girl’s voice. Tobio leapt awake and began examining the bed. He pulled back the comforter and there was——

“Good morning.”

Wearing a single white button down shirt was the figure of a blonde haired girl——it was Lavinia.

“Wha……Whaa……!”

Tobio was unable to enunciate when faced with such an excessive occurrence. During his life, something like being in the same bed as someone of the opposite sex had never happened (to be precise that had happened when he had taken a nap together with Sae when they were young, but because they were young children it doesn’t count) so this was especially a great surprise.

What had now burst into his vision——was the visibly snow white skin of her thighs. Since it was just a single dress shirt, Lavinia’s legs were almost completely exposed. A scene that is poisonous to a healthy high school boy, yet also medicinal. With the sunlight flowing in from the window, the white dress shirt appeared to be transparent.

With his cheeks dyed red, Tobio turned away while asking her.

“W-why are you here……!”

He noticed that his own voice sounded nervous, and furthermore he felt very much ashamed.

Without bearing any mind, Lavinia spoke while rubbing her eyes while half asleep.

“……Last night I got up to go to the toilet. The next thing I noticed I was in this bed.”

The next thing I noticed I was in this bed——. There was no way Tobio could believe something so excessively ambiguous, nor was there any way to know how long her body had been here.

“In what way is this a problem?”

As Lavinia conversely inclined her head and enquired, Tobio retorted, “You’re asking me that!” and the two began to bicker.

Tobio, having concluded the current mood was too maddening, changed the subject.

“……So Shark, that’s Samejima?”

Earlier, Lavinia had said ‘Shark’. At that time he had muttered the name of Samejima. ‘Same (鮫) = Shark’, it’s simple but that’s how it seems to be.[1]

Lavinia answered right after one yawn.

“That’s right. Shark is Shark. Because his mood is really shark-like I thought it was perfect.”

Samejima has a shark-like mood…… Is it because he’s a delinquent and is thought of as aggressive? Still, when Samejima was at Ryoukuu, despite being a delinquent, he was the type whose popularity with girls was considerably good. It was the so-called good-looking bad boy type. Still, flirtatious speech was never once to be heard from him, only talk of his heroic face entered one’s ear.

Lavinia continued speaking.

“Shark it seems did not return to this apartment building last night. Perhaps, I think he was outside exterminating Utsusemi using the sacred treasure.”

……Outside exterminating Utsusemi, huh. To call that extremely daring, that exceeds reckless behavior. He probably also possesses an animal sacred treasure, something like an independent avatar type, just like Minagawa Natsume’s. So it should be possible with Utsusemi for opponent, but what’s most surprising is the mental fortitude. ……Something like fighting those monsters all day long, is he able to manage that? For himself at least, it was unlikely Tobio would be able to use calm judgement. Just considering the degree of mental and physical fatigue, such an approach seemed to be very haphazard.

……It took strong determination to be able to go out like that, but would Samejima’s possession of such an unshakable purpose would be enough? For him to be facing the likes of such battles alone with only the unusual temperament of a simple delinquent, that was difficult to imagine.

Moreover, there was one troublesome special characteristic of the 'Utsusemi'. Tobio was remembering the information on the 'Utsusemi' he’d received last night.

Utsusemi——the monsters they are utilizing, once they’ve memorized the smell of their opponent from the blood of their prey, they can transmit knowledge of that scent to their fellow Utsusemi. For Tobio, this happened when the Utsusemi employed by his friend Sasaki cut his cheek. Apparently it seemed to have memorized the smell from his own blood that was spilt at that time. The Utsusemi would then pursue their targets by tracing the scent of the opponent that had been memorized on that one occasion. And thus, the Utsusemi had invaded Tobio’s home.

Was there anywhere he might not be discovered and find relief?.

Since they broke into his home he hadn’t thought to return——yet. But, contrary to his desire, it was extremely easy to attack that place. The shock was immeasurable.

As he had heard it, Natsume was also already attacked at her home, and told him that she had ended up here. She currently lives in another room in the same condominium.

The condominium this 'Governor General' had prepared, was located on the outskirts of the city. It seems it was composed of some special structure, which made it a place the Utsusemi couldn’t find easily.

……Since leaving his house, he had gained an understanding of the other party. Tobio and company had already obtained amounts of information on the existence of something like an organization that was manipulating the Utsusemi. ……Though he hadn’t understood why those people couldn’t seize this condominium. It seems he had no choice though, that in order to those who had made to become Utsusemi, they would have to find the other party’s stronghold before such a result was achieved.

……There’s not much time, he thought. Within this limited time, how he should live, how strong must he become, that, Tobio was able to understand, was the current dilemma.

Abruptly, Lavinia inquired while looking at the black dog.

“……Toby, there’s one thing I want to ask.”

Toby……. Apparently he was also given a nickname the same as Samejima, Tobio understood.

“Wh-what’s the problem?”

While gazing at the black dog with her blue eyes, Lavinia stated her question.

“——This Doggy-san, did it hatch from the ‘egg’? That is, originally, it did emerged from breaking out from inside that ‘egg’ by shattering it, right? I’m concerned about whether or not it was born that way.”

……

……Tobio could find no words to reply with. The egg——it had been broken, but it was empty. The dog——it had emerged from his own shadow. The scene she had described, in which it emerged from breaking out from inside by shattering it, he’d never seen it.

“……How did you hear about that?”

Gulping, Tobio answered as such.

Lavinia–—stared intently at the puppy. The blue eyes of the young girl and the red eyes of the puppy.

“……This Doggy-san, it evidently has a different ambiance than what Natsume and Shark possess.”

……Minagawa Natsume’s Griphon had a different ambiance……. Tobio had not given voice to such feelings at the time, but the only thing that he intuitively understood was that there was something suspicious about the puppy’s existence.

“Toby, if this Doggy-san is also a Sacred Gear, there’s a simple rule relating what form it takes, its ability, and how it manifests its power.”

Lavinia said it straight while placing a hand on his chest.

“——The power of desire. The sacred treasure——Sacred Gears become strong from strong desires, responding to the possessor. It is almost certain that that Doggy responded to Toby’s strong desire.”

……The power of ‘desire’. That is to say that the black puppy would become powerful in response to his desires……?

Tobio was also staring at the puppy, the person in question wearing nothing but a blank look.

——Then, as Tobio and Lavinia were staring fixedly at the puppy, there was a knock on the door that had been left open.

“Good mornin—. The door is open—?”

Natsume appeared in the room saying as much. Having been certain he’d securely locked the door when he entered last night, the surprised Tobio immediately arrived at the thought, “Incidentally did Lavinia unlock it when she came here?”

“It’s morning already. Get up quick-like, everything’s rea—dy! Waaoh! What are guys doing?”

Natsume was horrified by the situation she saw here. That is to be expected. It had become the same as a room where a man has taken a woman to bed.

“N-no, this is……!”

This was Tobio standing up offering an unsatisfactory excuse.

“How disgraceful? Such things are said in Japanese Manga at times like this.”

Such indifferent words issued from the mouth of the expressionless Lavinia. One would be tempted in their heart to insert a Tsukkomi[2] of, “What kind of manga is that!?”

“Hey, oy oy oy oy oy! I didn’t do anything!?”

While pointing her finger at Tobio, who could do nothing but frantically try to explain, Natsume called him out.

“Ikuse-kun! Although it is wonderful to deepen one’s relations with a new comrade, wouldn’t this be deepening them too much!?”

“T-that’s, this is……!”

Natsume issued her objection as she approached until their faces were in close proximity——she was smiling broadly.

“Ju-ust kidding. I got you. Anyway, Lavinia wandered in here in the middle of night while half asleep, am I right? She’s always entering my bed in the same way. Besides, in my judgement, Ikuse-kun is very sincere when it comes to girls.”

…….

……Looking over at Lavinia, there was a blonde maiden saying, “That is so” in agreement. ……The misunderstanding was likely cleared up, but this in no way caused Tobio’s mind to be fully satisfied.


In the room where they’d watched the video the previous night, the trio of Tobio, Natsume, and Lavinia had a late breakfast.

——Regarding said breakfast, what had been laid out before Tobio’s eyes was a kettle and cup ramen. Natsume and Lavinia began to prepare, hastily pouring the hot water.

Seeing that there was only one thing Tobio could say.

“……Cup ramen in the morning, huh.”

Tobio would never have subsisted on ready-made food and junk food if given a choice. Since his grandmother had died, the daily three meals she had once so accurately prepared with excellent balance had become something he could no longer experience. Yet for there to be a case the likes of not being able to prepare proper food, discounting when he was out associating with friends or running an important errand, such a thing had never happened. However, when he was cooking alone after his grandmother died, before he began receiving food prepared by his childhood friend Sae, he had become much too familiar with such poor prepackaged meals.

As the two girls, showing no particular mind, began pouring the hot water, Tobio addressed the two of them while standing.

“Incidentally, I had brought some canned goods and some spices when I was leaving my house. I’m also capable of cooking them. So, errr, what ingredients do you two have that I’m lacking?”

Hearing Tobio’s——no, a young man’s declaration about unexpected food, Natsume was flabbergasted——

“Y-yeah, in the supply room there’s some bread and some milk, and there should be some eggs.”

——She answered so.

“The supply room is jointly available to all the residents living here. There should be some ingredients you can use in the refrigerator that’s in there.”

From Lavinia who’d raised her hand, he had received excellent information.

“I understand. Then would you just wait 20 minutes? I’ll just prepare breakfast.”

Telling the two of them that with a smile, Tobio went to collect the ingredients.

——20 minutes later.

Lined up on the table, the menu consisted of a plastic cup filled with vegetables sticks dipped in mayonnaise, tuna sandwiches, and French toast garnished with jam for desert.

Seeing this, the openly fascinated Natsume clamored, “Amazing, amazing!” Lavinia’s facial expression appeared to remain unchanged, but her eyes were glued to the French toast.

Tobio spoke while folding the apron.

“My apologies, both the tuna sandwiches and the French toast overlap in their use of bread, although for the time being, I was able to prepare this meal that has an impression of being makeshift.”

Given the state of affairs, in order to get the girls to eat it, Tobio had prepared something that was only a bit tastier, supplying a menu that was simple and could be eaten quickly.

But, Natsume, the girl in question, seized Tobio’s hand and rapidly shook it up and down in extreme delight.

“It’s amazing, Ikuse-kun! Well, surely, I had no idea you were the kind of young man who can cook! Iya—, I may have come across a good bargain.”

……Bargain, huh. Tobio was a little troubled by that response, but, since things seemed to have ended pleasantly, he thought that there must have been a good meaning behind it.

Lavinia, who had started eating, let out “Ottimo” from her mouth as she chewed.

Ottimo——it’s the Italian word for “delicious”. Based upon that, would that mean Lavinia is from Italy? Speaking of which, Tobio recalled there being a famous Italian painter with the same name as Lavinia.

“Since the cup noodles have already had the lid removed, I’ll take it up to Vaa-kun afterwards.”

Lavinia says so while looking at the container of cup noodles.

“Vaa-kun?”

Tobio posed a question having heard an unfamiliar name. Natsume let out a sigh.

“……He’s the cheeky brat who lives in this apartment building I mentioned last night. The reason we have been eating only cup noodles, that child is the one who gave us those cup noodles. He’s going through a much too unhealthy growth period. But now we are being treated entirely to Ikuse-kun’s cuisine.”

……One can’t help but wonder, what kind of people reside in this apartment complex? This better than expected response had Tobio feeling just a bit nervous.

Natsume began eating from the meal Tobio had finished preparing.

“Well then, in regards to today’s plans, we are going to meet up with Samejima-kun as I explained last night.”

“That’s fine, but do we know where he is? Or else, perhaps, have you contacted him and he’s coming back here?”

In response to Tobio’s question, Natsume took out her phone.

“Contacting him……is no good. Just in case, I did make certain to force Samejima-kun to input his number, but I can never get through because he never seems to turn it on. I can’t help but wonder if he didn’t just provide me with a fake number.”

Or perhaps he’s ignoring all phone calls. In other words, there’s no way to contact him from here. The result, he apparently does whatever he wants without anyone else knowing about it.

Then, that would mean Samejima Kouki’s whereabouts were completely unknown. Does that mean that the Utsusemi already……. Even though the worst assumptions suppositions were emerging within Tobio, Lavinia said.

“It’s okay. Since I placed my magical equation marking on Shark, his position can be specified.”

Natsume’s voice cried out, “As one would expect from a magical girl.” Until recently, Tobio would have furrowed his eyebrows at anyone professing to be a “magical girl”.

Lavinia produced a small wooden stick from her breast pocket, which began to emit a blue light from its tip.

Words failed Tobio with this phenomenon. As much as he would like to believe that the light on the end of the stick was some kind of trick, bearing in mind the circumstances around him it didn’t necessarily seem that this so-called magical girl was a practical joke.

Lavinia immediately stood up, and rotated around once. Thereupon, the stick was observed to emit much more light when pointed in a specific direction.

While pointing in that direction, Lavinia spoke.

“Shark is over there in this direction. However, it was a somewhat bad reaction. Probably, it’s a place that’s difficult for my magic to reach……perhaps the enemy has set up a force field that I don’t know how to penetrate.”

Hearing that Natsume inquired.

“In other words, Samejima-kun charged into someplace alone against swarms of enemies?”

Lavinia nods in silence. Natsume wore an abject look on her face.

“……That Yankee, becoming so engrossed with defeating the enemy, he probably just went straight into the opposing encampment without invitation, didn’t he……!”

Natsume, while grinding her teeth, had trembling fists. While wearing a half smile, her eyes had changed to a look of rage. She headed towards the entryway while making especially noisy footsteps.

“I’ll get that Samejima Kouki! In spite of our combat readiness, that’s no reason to leave him out there alone!”

Linking up with Samejima——. It meant the resumption of battle against the Utsusemi——our classmates.

Part 2[edit]

Having left the apartment building hideout, when they had arrived downtown, Minagawa Natsume handed Tobio a single micro SD card.

“That contains certain data that was prepared by the ‘Governor General’. The app can be freely installed by inserting the card into a mobile phone. Quickly now.”

While being rushed by her, Tobio took out his own mobile phone. It was still powered off from the previous night. Having received Natsume’s explanation about not contacting the police, and there being no benefit to involving anyone else, he had voluntarily turned his mobile off.

……Had he left it on, and he were to receive a call from a friend, he wouldn’t be able to say anything with his current mental state. From this day and for the foreseeable future, he was unable to attend school. He had no expectations of attending. This was in order to not involve any of the current students, since it seems like there was a high probability of them being caught up with the enemy if he were to go to school. Until this incident was resolved, he could not return to his usual routine.

The moment he inserted the card he’d received from Natsume into his mobile phone, it began installing automatically, and the app booted up.

Photos of young people appeared on the screen. It was a photo roster of the two hundred thirty-three students who had become Utsusemi.

“For the sake of future countermeasures, there’s nothing to lose by memorizing the faces of our opponents.”

Natsume said so.

People he knew, people he didn’t know, they were all displayed successively on the screen.

——There were also many unfamiliar fellow students.

Among the two hundred thirty-three Ryoukou High School second year students who had become Utsusemi, there were classmates of his he was familiar with, and there were those from other classes that he knew by appearance alone. But the majority were people who he could not match a name to their faces.

That was how it was. Since he wasn’t a teacher, such a thing as matching all the names and faces of his fellow students was something he was unable to do.

However, he was thankful for this app. When the time came, it would serve as a reference. When it came to those who appeared to be strange suspicious people, if they can be permitted to approach them, they could then be able to make a good assessment.

Lavinia was making the tip of the stick glow. If one were to see such a spectacle downtown, with her wearing a pointed hat, they would think it was a blonde girl cosplaying with a glowing toy stick and donning a cloak. In order to avoid additional unwanted attention, they found a taxi on the way with Lavinia’s guidance, hastening to their destination.

Would the black puppy be able to ride in the car, he had worried, but the puppy that had been with him just a moment earlier had disappeared without him being aware. Noticing its disappearance Natsume said.

“That seems to be how our partners are. Incidentally, taking Griffon-chan for instance, I expect he’s flying up in the sky by now.”

She cheerfully replied in such a way. According to her, fundamentally the Sacred Gear hatched from the egg——the puppy and Natsume’s Griffon differ from the Utsusemi of their fellow students in that people who are unrelated, from their perspective, remain unaware of their existence. They will also become visible to other people if the possessor wishes for them to perceive them. So long as he doesn’t desire for them to see the puppy, they won’t be able to see it unless Tobio authorizes them to do so, Natsume explained.

The puppy had been trotting after him since he left his house. Having escorted him up until the moment the taxi left, the puppy had obstinately refused to be separated from Tobio.

That was the sort of existence they were, these so called independent-avatar type Sacred Gears. For those who are unrelated, their existence is unrecognizable——. However, when the possessor is in a pinch they will without fail come running when called upon.

Natsume unexpectedly spoke.

“It might be good if you were to give it a name. For when you wish to call it, since I think it’d be inconvenient if there’s no name.”

……A name, huh. Due to all that had occurred since the previous night, he hadn’t considered such a thing until now. ……This black puppy, in spite of being a supernatural power of his, it has its own will, so a name may very well be necessary.

Riding in the taxi, Tobio watched the scenery outside as he gave thought to the various issues on the matter of the dog, a matter that’d be ongoing from this point forward.

Riding in the cab, while being concerned of being targeted by the Utsusemi, they made good progress during the day, with the taxi having passed through two towns peacefully. After they arrived at the entrance to a public park, they began the search for Samejima Kouki with Lavinia’s guidance. On the way, they were vigilant of every resident they happened to meet though none of them seemed to be Utsusemi, since in general none of them appeared to be close to student age. Naturally though, it’s not possible to be certain. Now though, students should be in the middle of classes at this time. If a student were to be seen by themselves in a residential area at this time of day it seems they’d be quite conspicuous.

Continuing to progress, the three of them arrived——at an out of business department store at the edge of the residential area. The story of how this department store had gone out of business had reached even Tobio’s ear. Having been beaten out by an aggressive shopping mall in the next town, the neighborhood was considering having it demolished. It had been decided that a comprehensive sports gym equipped with an indoor pool would be built on the site.

Tobio and Natsume prepared themselves in front of the deserted department store. Presently, it was nothing other than a dangerous place, in spite where it was established. At any rate, with the interior of the building being devoid of any signs of life, the conditions were just about the worst for being attacked by the Utsusemi.

Nevertheless, even an amateur could see that the light from Lavinia’s stick was glaringly shining in the direction of the department store’s interior. ……It would seem Samejima Kouki is inside.

Having determined what this meant, Natsume spoke.

“I wouldn’t be strange at all if this place has become a den of Utsusemi.”

The black puppy that had been gone had also imperceptibly reappeared at his feet. ……In other words, that would seem to be the situation. Since there was a high likelihood of the master’s body being at risk——. To an extent, it exists within said body and was called upon by current situation. Considering the scale of the department store, it was impossible to know if perhaps the number of Utsusemi who had broken in isn’t just one or two people.

“Let us enter.”

Without showing particular hesitation, Lavinia did so while facing behind at them invitingly. It was not possible to enter through the front gate due to the shutter being lowered. Since Samejima was currently inside, one would wonder from where he gained entry. Tobio pondered whether the staff use entrance might be open.

The three of them sought out the staff entrance.

“In any event, it sure is gloomy……”

Natsume’s murmuring in a low whisper resounded lightly through the store's interior.

After that, they had discovered the entrance by going around back. As expected, the staff-use gate had been forcibly wrenched open by someone, making it easy to trespass.

Within the department store, it was naturally unilluminated, since after all the shutters had been closed, so the store’s interior was nearly pitch dark. Natsume produced two pencil lights from inside her bag, and passed one in his direction. Since the tip of Lavinia’s stick was shining, she didn’t seem to need a light.

The trio advanced through the first floor while keeping a set distance from each other. Natsume spoke in a whispering voice such that Lavinia could hear but which the enemy would probably not be able to detect.

(……That Yankee, which floor is he on?)

(I do not know. Due to the force field making it difficult to utilize my magic here, there’s somewhat of a restraint on the marking I placed on Shark. However, I’m positive he’s in here.)

As she declared that, the light from the tip of her stick repeatedly flickered irregularly. It seemed there was something inside this department store which was having an adverse effect on Lavinia’s supposed ability to use magic.

Natsume quietly whispered a suggestion.

(Let’s search floor by floor. It would be troublesome if we rushed up to the top and happened upon a large crowd of people. Lavinia, can you use some kind of communication magic?)

Lavinia nodded to Natsume’s query, and drew something in the air with her stick. Together with the movement of the stick a circle was emitted from the light at the tip. Moreover, strange characters were inscribed in the circle’s design, forming a small magic square that had appeared before their eyes.

……It seemed similar to the kind of magic square that appeared whenever the Utsusemi vanished……no, there seemed to be a difference in the design. When the small magic square vanished, there were glowing crystals about the size of a grain of rice floating in the air. The glowing crystals started moving on their own, entering the ears of Lavinia, Natsume, and himself. Tobio was scared by the abrupt occurrence involving his body……especially since it had gone into his ear.

While accidentally letting out a small chuckle at Tobio’s reaction, Natsume whispered while holding her ear with her hand.

‘(Can you hear me?)’

——!! At the same time as Natsume’s voice was heard from in front of him, Tobio was shocked to also hear it directly from inside his ear.

(By holding your ear your voice will be transmitted to us. This is one of Lavinia’s magical spells.)

…….Such an impossible remark. The slightly proud Lavinia was next to her making a peace sign, but magic——supernatural phenomenon truly does exist…… Was that combustion phenomenon also real magic then? ……However, one must wonder whether he should be so surprised at this late hour. After all, he had been continuously confronted with such phenomenon since last night——.

……If that’s the case, then is there also a magician involved with the magic square that shows up when the Utsusemi vanished? Just like how Lavinia was assisting them, by any chance, could that be the cause of it? Although such varied guesses circulated in Tobio’s thoughts, for now the search for Samejima was most urgent, so he left behind such references to Lavinia until after this was resolved. ……It would be good to ask after they have once again returned alive from this place.

Natsume utters a confirmation.

(We’ll temporarily split up to search. We go one floor at a time. We’ll each attempt to contact the others when we reach the second floor, and we’ll decide from there. However, should you find Samejima-kun, contact the rest of us in due course afterwards.

Nodding their accent, the trio temporarily distanced themselves to begin the search.

Walking through the interior of the closed department store that was completely devoid of people, Tobio’s heart was beating ominously. From the interior of each shop every piece of merchandise had been removed, leaving only plastic sheets and ladders inside for demolition use, with not a single forgotten shelf of merchandise to be found. This was a blessing in the sense that there were only a limited number of places to hide.

……With classes having ended, that those who had left school weren’t present brought such eeriness, as did the lack of anything befitting a department store that people would want. Furthermore, within this building, there were fellow classmates accompanied by monsters like those that had been attacking them last night. This was something that Tobio found hard to endure considering that he’d been an ordinary high school student until yesterday.

Nevertheless he was somehow able to temporarily maintain a strong will, with the mighty existence of the black puppy trotting along earlier helping him to not lose his mind in this situation. A sharp protuberance was coming from the dog’s head——a blade like object was growing there, it having already had done something similar to making good preparations for battle.

……What had enabled him to gain this strong will, when he had previously been so terrified, was nothing other than believing in the rescue of his fellow classmates——and reuniting with Sae.

If it’s the case that Sae would be there from now on——.

Tobio found strength in that thought alone, resisting his fear as he advanced forward.

‘Anything over there?’

The voice of Natsume was heard directly in his ear. Tobio also whispered while holding his ear.

(Nothing in particular. What about on your end?)

‘Still nothing. Although Griffon went ahead earlier, nothing in particular has shown up.’

……So when it comes to the first floor, there is nothing of particular interest?

Where Tobio had now arrived, there was an escalator that was stopped. Should he ascend from here? Or perhaps it would be better to take the stairs. The decision was that they would all link up——this was the main thing to consider.

The puppy sensed something and started staring at a specific point. Tobio gulped as he aimed the penlight in that direction. What the puppy was staring at, was a pillar. ……Was there something hiding behind it? Even with the light he couldn’t make out anything, so perhaps it was prudent to gather the others at least temporarily.

From behind the pillar, a single white cat appeared. The cat had a pure white coat. Its long tail was swaying from side to side.

……A stray cat that had entered the department store? ——However, he immediately revised that thought. The Utsusemi those guys possess, those are monsters that imitate the form of animals. If one accepts that, then this cat as well is……?

As Tobio was tensing up, there was the shape of another silhouette that then appeared from behind the pillar. Exposed by the penlight, there was a tall youth with dyed brown hair.

——It was Samejima Kouki.

The youth——Samejima lowered his gaze while using his hand to protect his eyes from the light shining from the penlight. He seemed to be looking at a mobile phone. The puppy was also staring at the cat accompanying him while not moving an inch. Just a little, Samejima sighed.

“……It would seem that this guy doesn’t resemble those on the list. So, is he from the group of survivors? Geez, that such a kid would come to place like this.”

Samejima gave such a complaint while grabbing the back of his head with his large hand.

With them mutually no longer posing a threat to each other, Samejima spoke.

“You there, did you come here together with Natsume and that witch girl?”

“……Yes, they're also searching the first floor.”

“……The one who grasped my movements—, that would be that witch girl, or else that conceited silver haired son of bitch determined where I was. ……Geez, even though they said I could do as I pleased for the time being. I finally seized upon a clue to the mastermind behind everything—and now this.”

Samejima cursed as he spoke.

——Then, Samejima directed his gaze towards the escalator ahead as though noticing something. Similarly, the white cat and black puppy stared in the same direction. Tobio was also prompted to gaze in that direction……he wasn’t able to make out anything in the darkness, but the feeling that something was there persisted.

“……As I suspected, there does seem to be something here.”

Samejima was glaring at the escalator in front of them.

“Identifying such a presence, it would be good of you to memorize how to do it. By sharpening your senses with the sacred treasure, even an amateur at fighting should be able to memorize it instantly.”

Samejima spoke as such as he moved to Tobio’s side, facing towards the escalator. Having found Samejima, he had thought of going up to the second floor to report to Natsume and company——but at that moment he heard the girls’ voices in his ear. Simultaneously a large sound echoed through the first floor.

‘Ikuse-kun! Sorry! I’ve been attacked! Lavinia and I are supporting each other right now! Is it the same over there!?’

Attacked!? The opponents had suddenly appeared on the first floor! They must have come down the stairs from up top.

Holding his ear, Tobio spoke to Natsume and company.

“I found Samejima Kouki over here! Is there anything we can do!? Should I head over to you bringing Samejima!?”

At this suggestion Tobio had made, Samejima only chuckled.

“So it seems the witch girl is there? If that’s the case, shouldn’t there be any reason to worry about that birdbrain? It’s too bad, but they’ll have to wait for me to finish my business upstairs.”

Saying that, Samejima picked up the white cat, placed it on his shoulder, and proceeded to ascend the escalator.

“Oy!”

As Tobio tried to call him back, Natsume’s voice was transmitted.

‘Ikuse-kun! That voice just now, was that Samejima-kun? In any case, please go after him for me!’

“But! Are you truly alright over there?”

‘Don’t be putting down my Griffon-chan. Besides these run of the mill Utsusemi opponents can’t resist the magical girl over here.’

At that moment, there was a crashing sound heard from the interior accompanied by a flash of red light gleaming in the darkness.

As Natsume had said, Lavinia had instantly defeated the monster with the Ustusemi last night with that combustion phenomenon. Even the pair of Natsume and Samejima shouldn’t be a cause for such concern, he thought, because that’s just how powerful they are.

“……My bad! I will follow Samejima! You absolutely cannot die on me, Minagawa-chan! Lavinia-chan!”

‘Understood!’

‘It is understood.’

The spirited reply of the two girls reaches his ears. Though there was a desire to go to where the girls were……Tobio shook it off and proceeded up the escalator in pursuit of Samejima.

Ascending to the second floor, they immediately discovered the lights were on. The sudden brightness dazzled Tobio and Samejima. But thanks to the light, the entire floor was visible to them.

And then, waiting for them on the second floor——were gigantic monsters. A mantis, a stag beetle, a crab, a turtle, a herd of monster with appearances similar to such things——. There were also varieties of the frog and spider he’d fought last night. Beside them were boys and girls. It was the Utsusemi who were their fellow classmates. From a glance there were roughly no more than ten people spread out before them.

……In this single case on his second day of being involved in such experiences, he really shouldn’t have to face so many opponents.

For Tobio, this first taste of this amount of violence sent chills down his spine.

——However, that guy went “Kukuku” in amusement, wearing a fearless smile.

Samejima, without hesitation, advanced step by step towards the enemy line.

“Byakusa, let’s go.”

This he said to the cat sitting on his shoulder. Thereupon, the cat’s long tail stood up straight like a pin——and then split in two. The two split ends of the tail steadily extended, one of them wrapping around Samejima’s left arm. The white tail that was wrapping itself around its master’s arm began to steadily change its shape——it transformed into an enormous cone shaped lance.

“——My cat’s lance can pierce anything. Come now, come and be pierced by this guy.”

With the lance that had grown on his left arm, Samejima issued a declaration of war to the Utsusemi.

Right after that starting signal for the outbreak of war, the spider monster charged from the front. By lowering his posture, he pierced the spider monster with his left arm’s lance by bringing the upper point to an extremely low altitude!

Samejima lifted the spider he had pierced and held it above his head in the air, and then swung his lance down tossing towards the enemy as though discarding it! At that moment the annihilated spider was released from the lance and was sent flying forwards! The monsters dispersed from the spot. Samejima turned to the crab that was attacking from his right, and with his right hand signaled directions to the cat.

“Aim at the gaps in the hard shell!”

One of the white cat’s two tails windingly stirred, and shot out at high speed! The crab monster was unable to avoid as a part of its shell completely gave way to the blow from the tail! The white tail was like a thin sharp rapier, having pierced the body of the crab, and was preventing the opponent from moving. The tail was moving freely, having previously pierced its body, and Tobio understood that it was destroying the nucleus. Samejima’s lance, with the cat’s manipulation of the sharp thin tail, bore into it. Samejima and the cat had matched their breathing in order to unleash two attacks.

——And, at this time, a monster was coming to attack Tobio. Just like last night, the frog monster, its tongue dripping, was leaping at him. Tobio pointed his right hand in the frog’s direction, and sent an order to the black dog. The puppy rushed out at a speed the eye couldn’t catch, charging through the frog with the blade on its forehead bisecting it.

Seeing this scene Samejima *Huuu* let out a complimentary whistle.

Subsequently, Samejima evaded the mantis’s twin arm blades while piercing its abdomen with the lance, then jumped to evade the charge of the stag beetle that was flying low to the ground.

“——Nja, here!”

He aimed the lance downwards using the energy of his jump, and thrust into the stag beetle from above. He then extracted the lance which had pierced through the floor of the second story and respectively mowed down the beetle horizontally. The stag beetle monster whose appearance had completely changed from the force was left discarded upon the floor.

Off to the side, Tobio was also cleaning up a monster’s body. In this situation, Tobio truly felt the power.

——Fight! Win!

Even though this was still only his second day since plunging into this strange world, the puppy’s power was the real thing. And then, the power of Samejima beside him was overwhelming the other Utsusemi.

……This is, could this be the difference between genuine Sacred Gears and artificial ones? Thinking in such a manner, Tobio and Samejima, naturally, effortlessly avoided taking even a single blow. The Sacred Gears themselves, it seemed, exhibited greater power than user would have assumed.

And yet, there was an opponent Samejima’s attack couldn’t penetrate. It was a turtle monster. Its hard shell repelled his lance. The turtle monster was focusing on defense by hiding its head and limbs inside its shell. Samejima was clicking his tongue. ——But, the puppy jumped in unconcerned.

How sharp would the dog’s blade have to be cause harm to that shell——.

But the dog’s behavior exceeded Tobio’s expectations. It used the blade that had grown to assault the spot where the head had previously retracted.

Approaching the spot where the head had previously retracted——it pushed the extending blade from its forehead forward. Although the turtle had hidden within its shell, the part where the head had been retracted was not covered by the hard shell. Making use of the blade, the dog aimed there. The sharp blade extended, skewering the turtle monster that had withdrawn into its shell. From the pointed end of the turtle’s head that was hidden in the shell, it pierced straight through to its tail. The turtle’s life had been ended.

“If attacking the shell is no good, attack where there is no shell. Didn’t I do something similar with Byakusa?”

Samejima commented as such. Indeed, when the white cat defeated the crab, it did so by targeting the gap in its hard shell. ……Having seen that, did the black puppy immediately learn such a thing? Assuming that’s the case, it can be determined that the puppy’s intelligence is higher than he had thought.

Two people came up to the second floor, and completed their first battle in just a few minutes——.

Ten Utsusemi had been completely annihilated. The fellow classmates whose monsters were defeated collapsed on the spot after losing consciousness. While ensuring that all the fellow classmates were vanishing through the magic square, Samejima enquired of Tobio.

“There’s one thing I’d like to ask.”

Tobio nodded in silence.

“When you came here did you suppress your desire to flee? What for? For what incomprehensible reason, born from some absolutely ridiculous silly ideal that fills your mind, did you chose to act? What is your motivation for fighting? That dog, what is it that you see when you fight with it?”

In front of Samejima’s gaze, the black puppy’s eyes were emitting a fiery red glow. Something so powerful that it would likely stimulate one’s courage.

Being questioned by Samejima, Tobio looked at the ceiling.

“……I’m also scared. But——“

Looking ahead Tobio spoke to Samejima.

“They’re people I wish to save no matter the cost. Friends I want to help no matter the cost. ……Even if I’m the only one with the power to fight, then I will die standing up.”

Hearing that, Samejima for the first time softened his normally aggressive expression and showed his emotions.

“……Heh. Seems you’re not just some ordinary indecisive person.”

Samejima turned his feet towards the escalator and began ascending to the third floor. Tobio also followed in due course.

As the two of them were climbing the escalator, Samejima inquired without looking back.

“……A woman is it?”

That single word came as a complete surprise. Even though Tobio had only spoken of “people I wish to save”, Samejima had apparently seen through that.

As a result of it being comprehended, Tobio became flustered while his face turned red.

“Eh! N-no, that’s……”

Samejima laughed as Tobio spoke while stuttering.

“Haha, a woman, huh. Isn’t that great. Putting on such strange airs of justice, that’s quite good.”

Looking back, Samejima extended his hand.

“I’m Samejima Kouki.”

Tobio, in spite of his surprise, immediately reached out and accepted the handshake.

“Ikuse Tobio, I'll be in your care.”

This was Ryoukou High School’s former number one delinquent——Samejima Kouki. But, it seemed that he was a much more decent guy than rumored.


Translator's Notes[edit]

  1. The first character of Samejima (鮫島) means shark. Lavinia uses the English word.
  2. Roughly speaking, this is retort, usually comedic in nature


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