City Series:Volume4b Chapter 6

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Chapter 6: One Conclusion (New System Introduction)[edit]

Part 1[edit]

4:33 PM

The Umeda Sky Building normally used a see-through elevator to ascend the first 33 floors to the floating garden 170 meters off the ground.

After climbing to the observation deck on the 40th floor positioned between the two towers, one only had to exit onto the floating garden on the rooftop.

But the Sky Building was currently running on emergency power and the elevators were not running.

The only option was the emergency staircase facing the building’s windows.

Those stairs were the key to the battle.

Yuuki was an Energy Gunner.

Taeko was a Steel Master.

Both their Combat Styles focused on long-range attacks.

And at the moment, the stairway acted as a narrow, straight pathway, so they had to prepare themselves for their enemy’s sniper shots.

If they moved out ahead of their enemy, they would be fired on from below.

If they fell behind their enemy, they would be fired on from above.

Standard combat theory said higher was better.

And right now, Taeko was below.

There were two reasons for this.

One of those being…

“How can that girl keep firin’ such powerful attacks so fast!?”

Her complaint was answered by two water spears flying down from the stairway landing and skewering her body.

They were narrow blasts of water, but they accurately pierced her right shoulder and right chest.

After a breath, blood spirted from the holes in her inner suit.

Taeko – Mind Tech – Take – Control Pain – Hit.

The sight of blood did not frighten her.

She simply searched for her enemy.

Taeko – Sight Tech – Take – Find Enemy – Hit.

Her enemy was no longer on the next landing up. She had already continued upwards.

Taeko took a breath and started running.

Her right arm was not moving properly.

Taeko – Medical Tech – Take – Check Injury – Hit.

Her right shoulder was broken.

“So I’ve only got my Dragon Emperor left arm to work with.”

She muttered to herself as she ran and she looked over at the Dragon Emperor.

The Dragon Emperor was not roaring.

Its activation had stopped at the Third.

On the bullet train before, it had stopped working when she tried to use it against Yuuki.

It seemed to not reach the higher activation levels where the dragon’s will awoke.

That was the second reason that Yuuki had the higher position.

“Why are ya refusin’ to fight her? She killed my brother and she’s ignorin’ Shoui.”

The metal fist did not explain its actions.

Taeko ran up the stairs.

She had run like this once before: on her way to where her brother had died.

She had shaken free of the Koto Chancellor’s Officers when they tried to stop her, but there had been nothing there to see.

Nothing had remained.

Only a white chalk oval drawn on the road next to the Sarusawa Pond.

That was where her brother’s right arm had fallen.

There had been no bloodstains. According to the boy in charge of the scene, her brother had likely been flash frozen by the Koto Chancellor.

After that, Taeko had trained and entered the Mountain to support her family.

And now she was running up the stairs.

Her brother’s killer was up above.

She reached a landing.

She ran up the next flight.

The next thing she knew, the floor number label said 33.

An emergency exit opened onto a passageway into the building.

She ran through it and reached a large space.

There was a long escalator straight ahead.

Unlike the previous escalators, this one had a roof.

It continued past the windows.

It led to the observation deck suspended between the two towers.

A red figure was running up it.

“!”

Taeko’s body moved on reflex.

Taeko – Savate Tech – Take – Dash – Hit.

She ran.

Blood dripped down her right arm and onto the floor.

Even so, her body moved forward.

The soles of her shoes split the floor tiles below her feet.

She produced a series of solid sounds.

For just a moment, Yuuki looked back toward that noise while climbing the escalator.

She ran.

“Ya ain’t gettin’ away!”

Taeko ran up the escalator.

She was fast.

Her speed allowed her to start catching up.

She could see the sky through the glass overhead.

The floating garden on the roof was near.

She released her Words.

She used her poorly-moving right arm to stick just the right side of her headphones in her ear.

She surrounded herself in the light of her own Lightning High instead of the Dragon Emperor’s.

She did not rely on the dragon.

Someone stood in front of her with the setting sun washing over her.

It was Koto Chancellor Yuuki Yuuki.

“!”

Taeko no longer said anything.

She ran up the escalator.

Ice flew her way.

Taeko – Savate/Gym/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Dash Dodge – Hit!

She ducked down as she continued forward.

The string holding her ponytail in place was torn by the ice spear and her black hair spread into the air.

But she did not stop.

They were a mere three meters apart.

Yuuki held Housei and light filled its ether firing section.

She was going to fire.

But Taeko moved before that happened.

Taeko – Boxing Tech – Take – Grab – Hit.

Taeko – Boxing/Gym Tech – Multi-Take – Brute Force – Hit!

Taeko used the Dragon Emperor’s fist to punch the escalator stairs with all her might.

Even with the power out, the stairs would move if enough pressure was applied.

The aluminum stairs lost to the Dragon Emperor’s strength and broke.

The escalator only shook slightly.

But that was enough.

The vibration propagated through the stairs and Housei’s tip hopped up slightly in Yuuki’s hands.

“…!?”

It produced ice, but that ice shot past above Taeko’s head.

Yuuki had an opening, so Taeko aimed for it.

Taeko – Steel/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Strike – Hit!

The Dragon Emperor’s fist powerfully punched Housei from below.

The intense sound was that of a great weight and metal colliding.

The confrontation between the Suzaku and the dragon was easily won by the dragon.

The tuning fork shaped staff was knocked from Yuuki’s hands and flew toward the heavens.

It broke through the escalator’s ceiling and spun as it continued upwards.

Housei stabbed into the base of the floating garden that they could see from below.

“!”

Now Yuuki had no weapon.

Wind blew icy air into the escalator.

Taeko looked up at Yuuki in that chill.

Yuuki looked back down at Taeko.

Yuuki jumped back.

Taeko pursued.

“I said ya ain’t gettin’ away!”

Taeko – Steel/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Strike – Hit!

She launched the imperial fist toward Yuuki.

Or she tried to.

The Dragon Emperor suddenly stopped.

“Wha-…!?”

Again with this.

The dragon was refusing to fight the Suzaku user.

The dragon’s will was interfering at the low level of the Third Activation.

Taeko’s body tilted to the left thanks to the Dragon Emperor’s weight.

The raised metal fist was pulled down by gravity and slammed against the escalator railing.

Yuuki escaped upwards.

Taeko clenched her teeth.

Her right arm was injured, so she could not fight properly without the Dragon Emperor.

If Yuuki had time to prepare, she could use spells even without her staff.

Taeko looked at the Dragon Emperor that was no more than a weight now.

“Ya…piece of shit!!”

She roared at it and reached her right hand toward her left shoulder.

The bloody right hand manually released the Dragon Emperor’s removal bolts.

There were three.

The Dragon Emperor was removed somewhat and her left shoulder felt lighter.

A moment later, she reattached the Dragon Emperor as if tackling it with her shoulder.

Taeko – Steel Tech – Take – False Arm “Dragon Emperor” Initial Activation – Hit.

When restarting the Dragon Emperor while it was attached, the dragon’s will would interfere and slow the process down.

It was faster to unplug it and plug it back in to restart from the very beginning.

The floating emblems carved on the inside activated and the weight vanished.

Taeko stood up and ran forward while dragging along the sleeping Dragon Emperor.

She ran toward the rooftop where her enemy waited.

Part 2[edit]

4:47 PM

After reaching the rooftop, Taeko first looked around the battlefield.

The floating garden had a large circular hole in the middle and the narrow walkway drew a circle around it. It was only wide enough for three adults to walk abreast. That was enough room for walking, but not much for fighting.

The landings provided more space, so they would be the key to this battle.

“…”

Taeko silently stepped out onto the rooftop.

The first thing to greet her was the wind.

The winter north wind blew in strong and cold to cool her heated body.

But Taeko defied the wind’s will as her long hair whipped behind her.

Taeko – Sight Tech – Take – Find Enemy – Hit!

The enemy was extremely close by.

She saw Yuuki standing not even five meters ahead.

Taeko spoke to the silhouette she saw in the setting sun.

“It’s been too long.”

She smiled bitterly and Yuuki’s voiced asked a quiet question.

“What is the Tokyo Chancellor doing?”

“Oh, he gave me a single day to take care of my own plans.”

Yuuki did not respond, but Taeko could not help but say more.

“He really plans on crushin’ Kansai. What are ya gonna do about that?”

Yuuki did not respond.

Nor did she move.

“Hmph,” snorted Taeko as she raised the Dragon Emperor which was wrapped in the Lightning High’s light.

The Dragon Emperor’s First Activation could only pull off simple actions.

The dragon’s will could not interfere now.

So she ran forward.

“Yuukiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”

She shouted her enemy’s name.

That name had long been on her mind.

She had once tried but failed to forget it.

For her, coming to Osaka with the Tokyo Chancellor had been a ceremony announcing Kansai as the enemy.

But that had only been an excuse to fight Yuuki.

Her enemy was right in front of her.

She would reach her in the next moment.

Taeko – Lightning High/Steel/ Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Lightning High Strike – Hit!

Her fist slammed into Yuuki’s body.

There was no impact.

There was no sound.

There was only…

“…Eh!?”

Taeko voiced her confusion as Yuuki’s body crumbled away.

It was a liquid.

It splashed down like water.

What had taken Yuuki’s shape and color regained the transparency and strength of water as it crumbled.

It was not Yuuki.

As proof, neither of the eyes in the sinking face were prosthetic.

“A dummy!?”

Tuners would sometimes rearrange the Lives of the wind or dirt to create a copy of themselves to act as a decoy.

As if to prove that, Yuuki’s voice arrived clearly from behind Taeko.

“That is the Suzaku Reflection passed down by Nandaimon.”

Without turning around, Taeko jumped left on reflex.

She jumped toward the large space of the landing instead of the walkway.

Rather than icy pressure, a pure chill pursued her and dropped down from above.

This attack was different from before.

Taeko – Savate/Gym/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Great Dodge – Hit!

She leaped.

She leaped for the sole purpose of escaping.

She leaped with her back to her enemy and without a single thought of her brother or Shoui in her mind.

That was the right thing to do.

She saw something out of the corner of her eye.

A five meter spherical mass of air had frozen white and it crashed down onto the rooftop.

The attack had no weight or anything else, but when it burst, it created great destruction.

The temperature difference whipped up the wind.

Even the winter air was further cooled by the barrier of air, so a mist of frost formed.

The barrier ate into the floor and railings.

With a sound like breaking glass, the floor and railings shattered.

This world of frigid temperatures left even metal so brittle it would break from the slightest impact.

Everything was turned to sand.

Yuuki had once used this technique to destroy the schoolyard of Private Showa.

And it had also been the one to kill Taeko’s brother.

“————!”

After dodging the attack, Taeko saw the broken floor and railings falling along with the building.

Taeko cried out.

She made her presence known with a cry of both fear and anger as the sound of freezing faded away.

And a thought flashed through her mind.

No, that will told her.

Her will uttered Words when she saw Yuuki’s technique.

Something isn’t right.

She did not know what was not right or how it was not right, but definite doubt rose within her when she saw Yuuki’s technique.

Something did not match her memories or predictions.

But that doubt did not arrive in time.

“!”

Her shout erased her hesitation.

She searched for the enemy.

Taeko – Sight Tech – Take – Find Enemy – Hit!

A figure in a red blazer was circling to her right, between her and the landing’s wall.

That was a good decision.

Taeko could not use her injured right arm very much, so she would have trouble with the enemy on that side.

But she did not care.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh!”

Taeko – Boxing Tech – Take – Strike – Hit!

With no Rhythm or anything else, she slammed her right fist toward Yuuki.

She hit.

She felt her fist sink into her opponent’s gut.

Yuuki doubled over.

At the same time, Taeko lost all sensation from her right arm past the shoulder.

The broken shoulder had completely shattered.

“!”

She clenched her teeth and spun around.

Taeko – Steel/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Grab – Hit!

Taeko – Steel/Gym/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Throw – Hit!

She grabbed her opponent’s collar with the Dragon Emperor and threw her with an overhand swing.

“Gahh!”

She slammed the girl head-first into the tile floor as cold air continued to rise from it.

Yuuki’s glasses slid across the floor and the sound of impact was accompanied by a quieter metallic sound.

Yuuki bounced and landed face down.

She was right next to the hole she herself had created earlier.

If she fell, she would not escape unharmed.

Taeko would not let her escape.

She stepped forward.

She crouched down just as Yuuki tried to lift herself up with her arms.

Taeko swung the Dragon Emperor’s first upwards.

Taeko – Steel/Gym/Savate/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Great Strike – Hit!

Just before that attack hit, Yuuki rolled on her side to turn toward Taeko while still on the floor.

She launched a spell.

It was water.

It had the form and meaning of a wall.

It was a powerful and unavoidable impact.

The transparent wall of ultra-pressurized water slammed into Taeko at almost the same time as the Dragon Emperor broke through the water wall and hit Yuuki.

They collided.

Both their bodies were blown away.

Taeko was knocked back a few meters and thrown toward the walkway.

She hit the wall of the circular walkway.

Taeko – Gym Tech – Take – Control Balance – Miss.

She continued rolling backwards.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow…”

She muttered to herself and stood up.

The water soaking her body returned to ether and vanished.

She searched for her enemy while feeling cold due to the body heat it had taken from her.

Taeko – Sight Tech – Take – Find Enemy – Hit!

Her Tech worked, but she could not see Yuuki.

She only saw the large hole torn in the landing floor.

It was five meters across and had been formed by the flash freezing.

There was nothing and nobody there.

It was obvious what had happened.

Yuuki had fallen.

“…”

Taeko sighed as her long hair fluttered in the wind.

“Is it…over?”

Just as she said that…

Taeko – Hear Tech – Take – Hear – Hit.

She heard the sound of bending metal.

“…?”

Taeko – Sight Tech – Take – Find Enemy – Hit!

Taeko saw a hand holding onto the edge of the hole.

In the blink of an eye, the right arm puled Yuuki’s upper body through the hole.

Taeko realized her face was colored by surprise.

“Ya survived!?”

Yuuki did not answer.

She silently pulled the rest of herself back up onto the floating garden.

But that was not all.

She held a giant object in her left arm.

It was Housei.

It was the giant staff that Taeko had punched away from her earlier.

“…It can’t be!?”

Taeko realized the flash freezing spell had been both a means of attack and a means of retrieving Housei.

Housei had stabbed into the ceiling from the perspective of the escalator below, so from the roof, she had only needed to peel back the floor.

“…”

Yuuki silently raised Housei.

Ether light already filled Housei’s ether firing section.

It was a powerful light.

That light would end this.

“Kh…!”

Taeko clicked her tongue and prepared to defend.

Her left shoulder was suddenly pulled down.

“Dragon Emperor!?”

The Dragon Emperor would not move.

It was only at the First Activation, but it stopped moving on its own. The dragon’s will fully controlled the false arm now.

“Dragon Emperor…!”

Taeko shouted at it and Yuuki launched her spell toward her.

It was the flash freezing.

The white bullet was nearly ten meters across and it filled the space overhead as it dropped down like a fist.

There was no dodging it.

The Dragon Emperor was heavy and would not move.

The air audibly exploded with the icy temperature.

Hearing that, Taeko knew she would be turned to sand.

“…!”

In that instant, a question reached her mind.

Something was odd.

And she realized what it was: the result.

Her brother had died, leaving behind only his arm.

Not a single drop of blood had remained at the scene.

But she would be scattered as sand.

Why was there a difference?

In fact, how much power did this flash freezing spell have against a human?

The schoolyard and school building had been shattered at Private Showa, but no one had died.

Something was odd.

This was the doubt she had subconsciously noticed when she saw the previous destruction.

Before she could wonder what it meant, a certain fact occurred to her: The Dragon Emperor refused to fight Yuuki.

The results were different and the dragon that could read people’s wills had made a baffling decision.

Those two facts led to a single truth.

Taeko was surprisingly willing to accept it.

“…Ya moron.”

The icy blast collided with her and she shut her eyes.

In that instant, the Dragon Emperor instantly activated itself.

Part 3[edit]

4:51 PM

After an instant of light, the floating garden of Umeda’s famous Sky Tower fell from its central location.

The structure was positioned between the two 170 meter buildings and it brought down both towers with it. First the west tower and then the east tower collapsed.

Shards of glass were thrown as far as a kilometer away, the pieces of the Sky Tower did slight damage to the surrounding homes and buildings, and the evacuation by the Fourth Alarm was proven justified.

The Fourth Alarm stopped only five minutes after the collapse had ended.

Part 4[edit]

9:02 PM

Healing people was difficult.

Timewise, it took about six hours before Souichirou could speak.

It was already night aboveground.

But in the underground space with the lantern put out, it was impossible to judge the passage of those six hours.

After an amount of time that felt both short and long, Souichirou uttered his first words in the pitch dark.

“…I feel like I experienced the Kinki Riot.”

“What does that mean?” asked Saki’s voice.

“I am referring to the usage of the Flame High,” said Souichirou’s voice. “Would they have been unable to cause that riot if they had not held such an aggressive will?”

“Don’t talk about the Flame High too much,” said Takahiro’s voice. “The fire will move in response to the words.”

Souichirou sighed.

“Tokyo 1st Special Duty Officer Ikemaru Takahiro was it? You have my thanks. …You have been dragging my Lives up to the surface this entire time, haven’t you?”

“You need not thank me.”

“This guy can be blunt,” said Saki. “So don’t take it personally.”

“I am aware. I saw it in a feeling that was not quite a dream while he healed me.”

“Don’t talk too much. …But anyway. How is Souichirou? Can he move?”

“Probably,” confirmed Takahiro’s voice. “The prosthetics in this house are sure to protect him. But…”

“But?”

“There is a risk of the Flame High starting to move again. …To prevent that, he needs to retrieve Kusanagi as soon as possible.”

“How does he do that?”

“By using Kusanagi.”

Souichirou answered that with an exhausted and bitter laugh.

“So I retrieve Kusanagi after it was swallowed up by the Flame High, do I?”

“Souichirou, do you think you can use Kusanagi?”

“To be honest, I’m scared. …I have my own will at the moment, but what about the elation needed to use a Rhythm?”

“…”

“When I try to use a Rhythm, my thoughts might choose the Flame High over Kusanagi.”

Takahiro asked him a serious question when he heard that.

“Is the Flame High really that powerful?”

“It is pure aggression,” answered Souichirou. “The Kusanagi Rhythm creates a physical manifestation of ‘cutting’, but the Flame High is simply the burning and destruction of your opponent. …In other words, it is victory.”

“You were caught by that kind of Live?” asked Saki.

“The clincher was being saved by someone else.”

“You were saved by the wills of those in this cell and by your own sense of self. My healing has somewhat saved you, but if you do not replay Kusanagi soon, the Flame High will return.”

“I know that.” Souichirou sighed quietly. “But how am I supposed to reclaim my Words?”

“You fight,” declared Takahiro. “In the end, that is all there is in your Lives.”

Saki sighed when he heard it.

“Yeah, I guess it would be that.”

With the sound of a match striking, a small light briefly flashed and then light returned to the lantern.

Light surrounded the three boys and illuminated their faces.

Souichirou’s face looked somewhat calm, but Takahiro’s was deeply colored by exhaustion.

“Hey, are you okay, man?”

“Do not worry. I have done this before.”

“Before?”

“Long ago, I created a Dog God and erased someone’s possibilities.”

Takahiro’s resolute expression remained and both Souichirou and Saki fell silent in the darkness.

It took some time before Takahiro said anything more.

“Whether we are talking about me or that girl, everyone is killing someone.”

“…Eh?”

Takahiro ignored Saki’s question and fixed his suit’s collar as he stood up.

Souichirou looked up as he did so.

“Didn’t you want to ask me something?”

“I read your Lives while healing you.”

“I see. …Then you know the location of the winter cherry blossoms that Aoi Hijiri’s parents saw when they met.”

“Yes, they are at Osaka Castle.”

With that, Takahiro stroked the scarf around his neck.

And…

“Osaka Chancellor, I do have one question for you.”

“What is it?”

“That girl’s mother was abducted and taken to Tokyo. …Was that misfortune?”

“You’ve heard, haven’t you? The winter cherry blossoms they saw bring misfortune.”

“Not quite.”

“What?”

“Misfortune is not brought. It happens.”

“…”

“I ask you again: what do you think?”

“Unfortunately, I have to take the side of the people in this house. …Why not ask Aoi Hijiri?”

“I see.” Takahiro nodded and smiled bitterly. “I can probably ask her that after I settle this indecision.”

He turned his back on the other two in the flickering light.

Even after six hours of work, there was not a single wrinkle on the back of his suit.

“Are you leaving?” asked Saki.

“No, I am going.”

No one asked where.

“If you climb the stairs, the old woman will be waiting for you,” said Saki. “Just silently follow her.”

“This is a wonderful house.”

Takahiro said that in a less-than-complimentary tone and gave a quick bow.

He said nothing more as he left the cell.

The two boys who supported Osaka watched him go.

The sound of chains filled their silence.

Souichirou was moving.

This was the sound of the boy who had slayed an ogre and sought battle.

It rang out ever so slowly.

Part 5[edit]

11:31 PM

Below a large hill surrounded by paddy fields was the entrance to the path up to the Nandaimon Shrine.

There was a large torii there.

A red light flashed in front of that torii.

It was an ambulance’s light.

The ambulance suddenly drove off.

The red light slowly left the Nandaimon Shrine.

The area was surrounded by paddies that were dry for the winter.

The moonlight was the only illumination.

Its bluish-white light shined on two people.

One was short and the other tall.

They were Yuuki Senga and Iwai Sanzou.

They were both watching the siren light of the departing ambulance.

Then they spoke without moving.

“You insist on home treatment? Do you not like our group’s hospitals?”

“I’m not letting your quacks see my granddaughter naked.”

“Then why did you take in the Nagoya Chancellor as well? You even placed them both in the same room.”

“It’s called woman’s intuition. I can tell there’s no grudge between them anymore.”

“Your intuition is a frightening thing. It was amazingly accurate 13 years ago.”

Iwai Sanzou scratched his head and breathed a white sigh.

“Back then, I had no idea those two were in the kind of relationship you say they were.”

“All the blame lies with the winter cherry blossoms.”

City v04b 251.jpg

“Yes, that is where it all went wrong. Including the trust between you and your student.”

“That was the only way to get past your group and inform them of our arrival.”

“I was certainly surprised when the spear flew over our heads and fell into the waterfall basin. No one should have been able to arrive within 500 meters of the place.”

Senga sighed.

“If it had been 50 more, I wouldn’t have been able to make the throw.”

“Well, that may have been a form of salvation for those two.”

“Really?”

“When they saw the spear flying their way, they smiled.”

Iwai Sanzou scratched his head even more.

He seemed to be having trouble saying this.

“They probably thought everything would come to an end if it skewered and killed-…”

“Don’t be stupid.”

Senga looked up at Iwai.

She had an aggressive look in her eyes.

“When I did it, Iba asked if I had turned on them too. That had to have been what all three of them thought.”

“Is that what you think?”

“For a corporate dog, you have too many delusions about combat.”

“I fight because I love that sort of thing.”

“You moron,” said Senga while jabbing his waist with her elbow.

The man pretended to be knocked back by the jab.

“You are so cruel.”

“Not as much as you. …What are you thinking?”

“About what?”

“You called someone in the hospital when I was taking those two away, didn’t you? What are you planning?”

“Hm.”

Iwai Sanzou nodded and crossed his arms in the moonlight.

After some thought, he raised his head.

“We will be holding a festival.”

“A festival?”

“Osaka, Nagoya, and Koto’s Chancellor’s Officers will rent out Osaka Castle and hold a festival.”

“Wait, don’t make plans for my granddaughter.”

“It will be in three days’ time, on Christmas Eve.”

Senga was left speechless as he held out his right hand with two fingers sticking out.

Seeing that, the elderly man smiled.

“And how about we invite Tokyo’s Chancellor’s Officers as special guests?”

“You know…”

“This wasn’t easy. This festival required keeping a band from renting out the place. With that and the newspapers before, we have spent far too much money this year.” He smiled bitterly. “Although those expenses are an investment for the future.”

“But do you really think Tokyo’s Chancellor’s Officers will show up?”

“Can I just say that my intuition tells me they will?”

Senga thought for a moment.

“Your intuition is a frightening thing. It was amazingly accurate 13 years ago.”

“Then that’s settled. Anyone able to use the Flame High can never live without battle.”

“But how will you stop the Flame High?”

“By ensuring Master Souichirou recovers,” nonchalantly answered Iwai. He crossed his arms again. “He is currently trapped by the Flame High’s power and cannot use Kusanagi. But if a certain individual can heal him enough to live a normal life, it should be possible.”

“And how will you do it?”

“By reminding him of his Words through battle.”

“Who will he be fighting?”

“Someone in a very similar situation.”

“A similar situation…?”

Senga spoke the words and realized who the man meant.

Iwai responded to her look of surprise with a true smile.

“His opponent might die, but that is fine. It will be an excellent experience for Master Souichirou.”

Senga tried to say something about that, but Iwai held out a hand to stop her.

“What I am more interested in is why the Nagoya Chancellor and Koto Chancellor were both nearly unharmed. I apologize for changing the topic, but could you answer me that?”

“A miracle probably happened.”

“I see.” Iwai nodded with his smile intact. “In that case, it might be worth investing in the Nagoya Chancellor.”

“Iwai.”

“Yes, what is it?”

“Do you think your plan will bring this all to an end?”

“It will also give you what you want. Although I think I know why you sent him to the Mountain for two years.” A breath. “He is not a failure, is he?”

Senga did not answer him, but her silence was an answer in and of itself.

After a deep nod, Iwai turned his back on Senga.

“I will bring out Master Souichirou. The duel will take place on the beach of Osaka Bay in the Minato Ward. As for the time…how about early tomorrow morning?”

“How selfish of you.”

“Oh, I’m not letting anyone else have something so fun.”

“You do like to show off, don’t you?”

Iwai began walking away as Senga spoke.

He slowly walked toward Osaka along the moonlit road.

Senga called out to him from behind.

“Did you call a car?”

“I feel like walking alone in the moonlight…is what I would love to say, but someone will be here to pick me up in less than five minutes. I am a VIP after all.”

“Yes, someone like you is considered ‘very important’. And that’s why you need to hurry up and die already.”

“And you need to try to live long enough to become a Youkai or something. …Goodbye.”

He lightly waved back at her.

It was only about six hours until the early morning.

Senga had a lot to do.


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