City Series:Volume4b Chapter 12
Chapter 12: The End (Ending Details)
Nakamura remained motionless after taking Shoui’s punch.
He stood almost entirely upright and looked to Shoui.
He said nothing.
He looked Shoui in the eye and then lowered his gaze with no readable expression.
Shoui’s left fist had hit the left side of his chest.
Nakamura was wordless.
But there was a sound.
A small but solid sound came from his chest below Shoui’s fist.
It was the sound of metal falling away.
It sounded like flowing sand and it quietly fell from his chest and to the castle tower’s roof.
The sound came from the pieces of his MD.
The Flame High’s MD and its drive had shattered.
When he saw that, Nakamura remained silent and looked over to his hand.
He clenched his right hand, but no fire appeared.
He was silent.
He clenched his right fist a second time, but still no fire.
The Flame High would not ignite.
After confirming that, he looked Shoui in the eye again.
And he suddenly smiled.
“Was that not…what I really wanted?”
With those words, he took a step back.
Shoui kept his left fist extended and he slowly opened the hand, starting with the little finger.
Nakamura held out his right hand as if he knew what Shoui was doing.
A small light dropped from Shoui’s fist and into Nakamura’s hand.
It was a ring.
Nakamura held it in his hand and shut his eyes.
And he collapsed backwards.
He lost his balance and tilted back as if to fall asleep, so Shoui reached out toward him.
But he saw someone support Nakamura from behind.
So he stopped moving.
He saw Iba standing behind Nakamura.
The man dressed as a monk supported Nakamura’s unconscious form with his shoulder and looked to Shoui.
“You have my thanks.”
With that short comment, Iba turned around.
And then he slowly walked to the edge of the roof and jumped down.
Shoui breathed a white sigh after watching him go.
He looked down to his feet and picked up the Ogre God that had fallen a short distance away.
–Shoui – Steel Tech – Take – Attach Arm – Hit.
He reattached the ogre’s right arm and gently clenched and unclenched the hand.
He said nothing.
After confirming he could move the arm satisfactorily, he finally turned around.
He looked to the peak of the roof.
He saw Yuuki sitting in front of the shachihoko.
She quietly looked up at him and also said nothing.
Without warning, the Dog God sitting next to her became two.
One stayed by Yuuki’s side.
But the other ran over.
It passed by Shoui’s side and ran toward the edge of the roof where Iba had disappeared with Nakamura.
Its footsteps sounded quietly on the roof, but after reaching the edge, it briefly glanced back toward Shoui.
Pushed on by those words, the Dog God faced forward.
And it jumped.
Its long, light brown tail fell into the darkness and vanished.
It was a goodbye with no regrets.
Shoui sighed and faced forward.
Yuuki was there.
That was all.
But that was enough.
The snow fell in silence.
Below the snow, Ikemaru Takahiro and Aoi Hijiri were reunited at the edge of Osaka Castle’s inner moat.
Hijiri sat below a cherry tree to keep out of the snow and she healed Takahiro.
She removed his jacket that was soaked after falling into the moat and she opened the chest of his shirt.
He sometimes grimaced, but he let Hijiri do as she wished.
“How did you know I was here?”
“That much noise was hard to miss.”
She attached a healing charm and briskly wrapped bandages around him, but she too was covered in wounds.
“Sorry. I lost the scarf.”
“We’re both still alive, so I’m not about to complain.”
“Did you lose?”
He sounded surprisingly carefree and she silently tightened the bandages around him.
“Was it a draw then?”
“I suppose. I feel like…nothing changed. Not the Shinkage Style, not the Modified Purple Electricity Style, and not me…” She looked to her quickly moving hands. “But I feel so refreshed after saying everything I wanted to say and hitting him as much as I wanted.”
“What happened to the Osaka Chancellor after he had to listen to everything you wanted to say and was hit as much as you wanted?”
“When I came to, he was rescued by a friend and left. He didn’t even look my way.”
She lightly tapped Takahiro’s chest and he frowned.
“Does that hurt?”
“Not enough for me to cry out in pain.”
“Then you’ll be fine. Let’s get back to the hotel before I heal you for real.” Hijiri sat on a root that was not yet covered in snow. “But I really am tired.”
“Hijiri-san, what about your injuries?”
“It’s only a cracked rib and my wrist. I have a lot of bruises, though.” She smiled a little and looked to Takahiro. “Once we’re back at the hotel, will you heal me?”
“You keep mentioning a hotel…”
“Oh, we have a room. One we’ll be sharing.”
Hearing that, Takahiro’s expression stiffened somewhat.
And Hijiri spoke to him.
“Don’t worry. I made sure to change my family name to Ikemaru.”
“Is that a problem?”
He looked at her puzzled face.
“…You are quite the delinquent.”
“So are you for playing around here at night.”
Then they both sighed.
And Takahiro’s sigh led to a voice.
Hijiri looked up.
“For what? I can think of far too many things you need to apologize for.”
“It’s too late to say that now that it’s over. And I promise you she didn’t think badly of you.”
She tapped Takahiro’s shoulder on the final “you”.
Her relieved white breath vanished within the falling snow.
She held one knee in her arms.
“Aren’t you cold? You are soaking wet.”
“Yes, I am cold.”
He buttoned his shirt back up and she got up.
She sat next to him and held one knee in her arms again.
“…I wonder what happened to Nakamura.”
“Who knows. But I doubt it was anything bad.”
He looked up slightly.
He gasped and Hijiri responded.
She saw his eyes were looking into the sky.
The snow was falling from the heavens.
And several cherry tree branches extended toward heaven.
The snow fell with the dark heavens in the background.
It gathered on the branches.
And it scattered.
In the reddish-brown light of the streetlights, the snow looked somewhat reddish as it fell.
And with the white covering all of the cherry trees in this courtyard, the snow’s new color and its shape looked like…
“Cherry blossoms!?” shouted Hijiri.
She looked around.
The snow was falling.
The withered cherry trees looked like they were in full bloom.
“Cherry blossoms in winter…”
It was the snow and the lights.
The way they came together at night created the winter cherry blossoms.
White flower petals scattered through the darkness.
It was a snowstorm of cherry blossoms.
The cold flowers continued to fall, scatter, and dye the surrounding space.
Hijiri stared blankly at the scene before her eyes.
“Dad and mom must have-…”
She tried to stand up, but Takahiro grabbed her hand.
He pulled her back and hugged her.
She panicked when a slight creaking sound came from his ribs.
“Takahiro!? Is your chest okay!?”
“I do not mind.”
With that, he looked up at the heavens.
This was what the two of them had wanted.
It was the same scene the Osaka Chancellor and Tokyo Chancellor had once seen.
They had found what Hijiri’s mother had told her to find.
Takahiro held Hijiri even tighter.
“How is this supposed to bring misfortune…?”
Just as Hijiri nodded a little, she heard singing voices from the lights of the city.
Takahiro glanced in that direction.
“Oh.” Hijiri nodded. “It’s the outdoor concert. They were having one in the Otemon Gate plaza.”
They could hear the orchestra even as the snow fell.
It was playing…
“Beethoven’s 9th. Perfect for the end of the year.”
Hijiri closed her eyes.
Then she opened them again and began singing.
She sang the lyrics of Beethoven’s 9th that Takahiro had once taught her.
“Beautiful spark of divinity, daughter from Elysium.
“Your magic brings together what custom has sternly divided.
“All men shall become brothers, wherever your gentle wings hover.”
Takahiro responded by throwing his words into the sky.
He sang the end of Beethoven’s 9th, which was a line from a certain poet.
“Our father must dwell beyond the stars.”
Hijiri nodded at that line.
She nodded again and again and suddenly lowered her head.
Takahiro held her in his arms and stared up into the sky.
Into the sky of falling snow that became cherry blossoms.
The snow was slowly accumulating without melting.
Shoui and Yuuki slowly descended the stone steps of Osaka Castle.
Neither said anything.
They walked without speaking a word.
The snow on the steps crunched below their feet.
They walked horribly slowly.
They took their time as they walked.
A Dog God followed them while wagging its light brown tail.
The two people and one animal silently descended the stone stairs.
But they finally reached the bottom.
They walked a while longer and found the cherry trees alongside the moat.
Shoui came to a stop below the trees with snow accumulating on their branches.
Yuuki also stopped.
As did the Dog God.
Shoui spoke without looking anyone in the eye.
“Yuuki, will you remain a Killing Holder as long as I’m by your side?”
Yuuki did not answer.
But her silence was enough of an answer.
So he said more.
“If I leave…will you have no more need to call yourself a Killing Holder and will you go back to being your old self?”
“…Why did you remember the past?”
He was answered with a question that led to everything.
He looked at his right hand.
That arm was made from the flesh of the ogre and Yamashita Gihei.
He clenched the fist.
“Because there is a debt I must repay.”
“I might end up going far away.”
“Is that so? Then I will quit being a Killing Holder.” Yuuki’s voice held no emotion. “If I’m no longer a Killing Holder, I won’t have to hurt myself any longer.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
She said that, but another voice overlapped it:
It was her own voice.
But it meant the opposite of what she had said before.
Shoui looked over in surprise.
And she looked toward him.
The Dog God stood between the two of them.
It stood on the puffy shoulder of Yuuki’s blouse and it opened its mouth.
With its head lowered, it once again spoke with Yuuki’s voice.
When she heard that, surprise and then panic filled her face.
“Wh-what are you saying!?” / “It’s true!”
She took a breath.
“You’d be nothing but trouble if you stayed with me!” / “I’ve been waiting all this time…”
Her will and her words did not match at all.
But Shoui understood which one was right.
So he did not hesitate.
He embraced her.
She struggled in his arms.
“…S-stop that!” / “Hold me.”
“Let go!” / “Don’t let go.”
He did as her will said.
She hit his chest over and over.
But the blows were incredibly weak.
That was when he realized something.
Her head was hitting his shoulder.
…I’m taller than her.
That was different from 2 years before.
So he brought his left hand to her cheek and lifted her face.
Yuuki looked directly into his eyes.
She watched him with tears welling in those eyes.
She opened her mouth a little.
The words escaping her lips and her will coincided.
“Please…” / “Please…”
“Will you protect me now…?” / “Will you protect me now…?”
The tears fell from her eyes midsentence.
And they would not stop.
Her vermilion false eye was wet with tears.
He noticed her cheeks had grown a little red.
And a single white line ran down from her right eye to her cheek.
It was the scar from Yamashita Gihei’s slash 2 years ago.
He said nothing about the scar.
Instead, he pulled a folded paper bag from the hidden pocket in his pants.
“Did you leave this for me, Yuuki?”
She nodded and reached out from within his arms.
Her slender white hand took the bag and opened it.
She pulled out a red bandanna.
After a tearful sniffle, she showed it to Shoui.
He gave a small nod and lowered his head.
She reached out and wrapped the bandanna around his forehead as if to hide the scar there.
She stood on her toes to reach around and tie the back of the bandanna.
He once more embraced her slender body.
Her face was close.
He removed her glasses with his right hand.
She closed her eyes.
And he kissed the white scar on her right eyelid.
He licked away the tears remaining in the corner of the eye.
“It tastes like blood…”
Hearing that, she nodded and lowered her head once more.
She smiled a little and tearfully called the name of the boy she had waited for.
“Shoui-kun…” / “Shoui-kun…”
Her tearful voice rang out quietly.
And the Dog God on her shoulder began reciting Words.
They were her Words.
The winter cries out frigidly
Someone cries in loneliness
- They speak words yet nothing is said
- They speak Words yet nothing is said
- They simply wait for the ice to melt
- They draw near and never give up
Shoui firmly nodded at those Words and looked up into the snowy night sky.
White flowers blossomed and fell through that dark sky.
He strongly and deeply embraced her below his prophesied flowers.
He hesitated over what to say.
But he took a breath.
He gathered strength in his arms and spoke to only her.
He spoke his own Words that were the answer to everything.
“I won’t give up either.”
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