Chapter 5 - Art Thou Haruaki? -Imitation of Life-
Sakuramairi Shiraho was resting her chin against her hand, elbow on the counter, staring at the man before her.
The shop's interior was dimly lit. Ever since a long time ago, this antique shop was only a decrepit and somber space, even after the death of the owner—in other words, her father—the atmosphere did not change, remaining decrepit and somber. It was also filled with a sense of stagnation and tranquility like a graveyard—apart from the instant when a certain doll struck up conversation with her, the very instant when her life was changed henceforth—this was precisely the everyday state of the shop.
Shiraho temporarily shifted her gaze away from the nondescript middle-aged man and looked at the piece of paper on the counter where he had written words with a trembling hand. It was like the art of acting. In order to get a grasp on the other person's body and mind, judicious variation of force and tension was necessary. The instant when the other party relaxed because she took her gaze off him, she must strike at the opening, deliberately stabbing into the core of his being with ice-cold words:
"—I would like to clarify something first."
"Eeek... C-Clarify what?"
She pulled her gaze back. In contrast to the man who was beginning to show a timid attitude, Shiraho continued to maintain her gaze and the coldness in her voice while she spoke:
"Do note that this shop is not a charity. We are only able to profit from the antiques we purchase after we sell them to other customers who wish to buy them. In other words... Customers who want us to purchase objects with no resale value cannot be considered customers at all in our view. They would be no different from worthless criminals who bring loss instead. In other words, beings who have no right to complain no matter what treatment they receive. Considering this principle, could you please answer this question of mine honestly."
She interspersed silent breaths within her speech. This was also one of the steps in the variation of tension. Then after several seconds, she chose the most effective point in time to break the silence.
"How much money do you expect me to squander in purchasing this—a cursed item... one that could not possibly be sold to other customers?"
"Eeek... Eeek——! S-Sorry, I'm so sorry—!"
Instantly, the man's face turned deathly white as he scrambled and ran out of the antique shop. Luckily, he did not break any utensils or pottery goods when he bumped into shelves.
Peace returned to the shop. After exhaling a large breath, Shiraho turned her gaze lightly towards the object on the counter. Still with her chin against her hand, she frowned slightly with the corners of her lips and grumbled:
"Seeing the way he fled in desperation... It looks like this really is cursed. Right on target with my first guess..."
Of course, Shiraho did not possess the appraisal ability to discern cursed tools. However, she did not possess the ability to appraise other antiques either. What she did was simply sit here to tend to the shop whenever it suited her mood. When customers tried to sell goods to her, she would buy them at suitably cheap costs then put the goods out for sale in the shop with slightly higher sticker prices. Doing it this way, at least the shop was not operated at a loss. She had no intention of earning massive profits in the first place, but was simply trying to add a little productive value to her daily habit of sitting at the shop's counter, breathing in the air filled with the smell of antiques. Rather than forest bathing therapy, this would be antique bathing.
However, regarding business practices undertaken to casually kill time, Shiraho had also established her one and only rule—it must absolutely not cause trouble for her lover. She had to pay extra attention to tools that might threaten their quiet lives. Often times, old cursed tools would invariably end up passing between owners in the form of antiques. Seeing as she was a person who handled antiques, it definitely would not hurt to take extra care.
Hence, whenever Shiraho sensed anything unusual about the seller's attitude or the object in question, she would always elicit answers from the other person in the same manner as just now. And today was the first clean hit. Shiraho could not help but think to herself that she should continue this practice even though it was not always useful.
Well then—Shiraho looked at the purchasing form on the counter, in other words, what the man had filled out earlier in a clearly furtive and timid manner. Were the name, address and telephone number on the form actually real? Confirming was a piece of cake, but was there any point?
Furthermore—there was something else on the counter.
A large trunk the man had brought. The arms and legs of a folded doll, resembling a wooden mannequin, were visible in the open trunk. Its size was almost like a child's, quite large for a doll, but its structure was quite simple, merely consisting of old-era streamlined body parts strung together. The head was only simply spherical with a slight protrusion at the nose location.
To be honest, Shiraho only felt intuitively that this mannequin-like doll was very suspicious. Since she was always together with another doll who was the most important to her in the world, perhaps her body had memorized something like the scent belonging to extraordinary dolls, then possibly sensing that scent vaguely on this mannequin.
What was this thing? And what kind of cursed tool was it? Because the man fled without saying a word, she had no way of knowing. Nevertheless, Shiraho decided that at the very least, this doll probably had yet to reach self-awareness, or in other words, the ability to take on human form. What she sensed on the doll was ultimately just the scent of an unusual but non-sentient object.
"Whatever. Anyway, since the guy fled and left this here, it means that he is selling it to us for free. In that case, I am free to do with this thing as I please..."
Simply stated, throwing it away or destroying it would be the easiest methods. However, she was unable to do that nonchalantly as soon as she recalled her beloved partner who was likewise a cursed doll as well. Suppose she threw it away—Her lover would say angrily: "If someone picked it up, it might bring them great trouble!" Suppose she destroyed it—Her lover would say sorrowfully: "We're basically kindred..." If doing either of that would cause her to be hated, Shiraho would have no choice but to commit suicide.
In that case, although it was troublesome, there was only one thing that ought to be done.
No matter what kind of ability this cursed tool possessed (it was also possible that the customer was mistaken and simply believed it was cursed), it had nothing to do with her. Just as she had told the man earlier—taking this kind of object and handling it appropriately without reward, that was something only a person running a charity would do. She had no intention of doing that at all. Someone willing to handle this kind of matter, a nice guy to a fault, would gladly do it.
Shiraho left her chair slightly and reached for the trunk on the counter.
"Seriously—Seriously, that is the only human I cannot understand. What fun is there in the safekeeping of cursed tools? And even if the curses were lifted, there is no reward at all."
While grumbling, Shiraho summoned her entire strength to shove the doll, which had half its body exposed, forcefully back into the trunk. Pushing hard in concert with the pauses in her speech, she continued to murmur to herself:
"Hmm, after all, I can't possibly comprehend... the perverted thought processes of a pervert's—now all that is needed... a place where it's fine for me to send this thing without prior consent... That is all!"
Indeed, this kind of thing must not be kept at home. Shoving cursed tools onto that pervert could be described as perfectly natural and reasonable. Shoving this thing to that perverted male was fine, the one who looked harmless at first glance, but was actually biding his time for a chance to take perverted action, approaching others by all means necessary as soon as he spotted they were girls, muttering perverted words, then making inane excuses like "this was only an accident" while acting out perverted behavior in actual fact...
While thinking over these matters, Shiraho applied her entire body weight through her arms. However, she failed to notice at this time that her elbow had accidentally pressed the doll's nose.
Even if by force, anyway, it was fine so long as the doll was shoved in. After forcing the lid shut, Shiraho fastened the metal lock. But probably because she had stuffed the doll into the trunk with full force, the old metal component looked like it might burst open any time, looking very strained indeed, but Shiraho decided to ignore it. It should last until it reached the other party's home, at least. Then what resulted next was none of her concern.
Next, Shiraho took out a courier order form from under the counter and scribbled an address while reading from her phone's contact list. Then she attached the order form onto the trunk and dialed a phone number.
"Hello? I would like to send out a delivery, could you come pick it up right away?"
While talking to the staff at the courier service, Shiraho pondered. With this, 80% of her job was done. The remaining 20% was contacting the man who had fled to bill him appropriately for the trouble, although she could not be sure if it would work.
(Sigh... I'll call him later when I'm in a better mood. I have to threaten him a bit at least, so as to prevent similar situations from happening again. But if the phone number he wrote down is fake, then the incident ends here.)
Thus, she lost total interest in the contents of the trunk.
Handing the trunk over to the courier who arrived for the pickup, Shiraho was completely unaware of the dramatic change occurring inside the trunk.
—Inside, after getting elbowed in the nose, the doll had started to transform gradually.
The next day, it was Sunday morning at the Yachi residence.
Konoha was leisurely enjoying a long-awaited sunbath on the veranda under the warm sunlight.
Since the laundry was done, the grocery shopping could wait until evening and she had finished her homework last night, there was nothing else to do at the momennt. Also, Kuroe had gone off to work while Fear was at school for supplementary lessons, so the house was very quiet. All the conditions for a great holiday were present. To be slightly greedier, it was a rare chance for her to be alone with Haruaki and she really wanted to do something together. But currently, he had gone back to his room for a nap after staying up all night. Delusionally speaking, napping together by his side would be the ideal choice, but there was no way she could actually do that. Hence, Konoha went for the second best option and decided to use this quiet and peaceful time to enjoy her sunbath to the fullest.
(Ah~ ...So warm~...)
However, this was no ordinary sunbath. One that was undertaken only once in a while—or rather, it could only be undertaken once in a while—
A fully nude sunbath.
At least that was what it felt like for Konoha.
(I knew it... I have to bathe myself in sunlight like this every now and then...)
Sheathed in its black scabbard, the Japanese sword was lying on the veranda, exhaling "huff~" It felt as though all the dampness and other unpleasant odors accumulating in her body were being completely purified by the sunlight. Fufufu, farewell. Since the past and into the future, I will never allow microbes or rust to take over this body. You would do best to give up~
Because it felt too comfortable, Konoha was beginning to feel sleepy, hazily closing the eyes of her senses. What to do? Should she simply fall asleep like this? But what if a visitor arrived? It would be too troublesome, so should she pretend no one was at home? Speaking of which, just earlier when she was doing the laundry, a trunk had been delivered to the house, what was that? Cash on Delivery from a rare sender. Konoha could not bear to wake him up, so she decided to leave the trunk aside for now, but she must not forget to discuss with him later... So sleepy... Yawn~
The wind caressed her body. A refreshing feeling enveloped a part of her that was not normally exposed. The gentle and warm sunlight also penetrated into there. So warm. Her body was feeling numb. An immoral sense of liberation. Ahhh, if only she could lie on a beach and roll around nude in human form, surely she would be able to experience this same feeling. Truly very comfortable.
A happy state, halfway between sleep and wakefulness. A paradise resembling sleep but not fully asleep. Konoha simply allowed the eyelids of her consciousness to remain shut while she floated lightly in this universe that resembled ambiguous, warm water. It felt like she was thinking of many things, yet not thinking at the same time. The sense of time vanished. The distinction between thoughts and dreams vanished. The distinction between reality and thoughts also vanished.
(Uhyuu... Mmm~ ...Haryuaki-kun... Ufufufu. A sunbath is so warm, Haruaki-kun should hug me tight as well, so warm...)
Her mood felt as though she were having a very blissful dream. Since she was aware of these feelings, it meant that her consciousness was slightly tilted towards wakefulness. Suddenly, Konoha sensed human presence. With hazy eyes, she looked over.
"Good morning, Konoha. Sorry for waking you up."
Haruaki was by her side and likewise sitting on the veranda. Wearing his usual smile, speaking in his usual voice of gentleness, dressed in his usual school uniform—But somehow, Konoha felt that something was not right. How odd?
Just as she was about to dispel the lingering drowsiness in her mind, Haruaki lifted Konoha's body lightly.
"You're sunbathing? Let me wipe your body."
Konoha had placed a soft handkerchief under herself to serve as a cushion. Picking up the handerchief, haruaki began to support Konoha's body in one hand while wiping lightly with the other. T-Treated by him in this manner... How should Konoha put it? It felt like the last time was a very long time ago.
"Ah, umm, Haruaki-kun..."
"Don't speak, just leave it to me. I'll be very gentle."
"Y-Yes... Well then, umm... I am in your care..."
Although Konoha was feeling very shy, given this rare chance when he was willing to wipe her body, she was unable to refuse. Her mind grew hazy and chaotic again, her consciousness pulled back into a partial state of sleep. What was going on? Unexpected good fortune. Was this the continuation of a dream?
Concentrate. Holding the handkerchief, his hand was currently rubbing her body gently, sliding along the curves, poking with his finger as though trying to confirm the hardness. His breath blew on her body. Curling his fingers into circles, he rubbed the blade's body, flicking it lightly with his fingertips in a teasing manner.
This manner, numbing and embarrassing, stimulating yet making her ticklish all over, extremely, extremely—
"Ah, huff... Mmm hmm... H-Haruaki-kun... Umm... A little more..."
"A little more force would be better?"
While hearing the mischievous voice, Konoha felt some kind of powerful impact somewhere.
Instantly, an unpleasant electrical current passed through her body.
"Eeek... Ahhhhh! I-It's the opposite, be more gentle, listen, more gentle, I beg you..."
"Haha, got it. You're so sensitive, Konoha..."
"S-Sensitive...? Nothing of that sort. I am very... very ordinary."
"Really? Oh right, I've wanted to ask you this for a while."
"Huah... W-What is it...?"
"When you transform into this state... Does the structure of the blade correspond clearly to the structure of the human form? For example—the chest. When you're looking like this, Konoha, where is your chest? Is it this round part?"
Unexpected words. Words plunging her mind into greater chaos. Then—no longer separated by fabric, no longer wiping stains off, he was purely using his hands to stroke her body. Applying perfect force at just the right amount. Neither strong nor weak, a stimulating force giving birth to pleasure.
Ahhh, that place was the chest indeed. A place that produced feelings similar to the chest. Hence, don't stroke it back and forth with your palm so frequently, and don't tap lightly with your fingertips—Konoha wanted to speak up but the stimulating electrical currents passing through her body were causing her language center to numb slightly. And that was not all, in the next instant—
"Eh? Then where's your butt? Is it here? Konoha, how's that?"
"Ha, ahhhhh? That's... That's...!? Ah, ah, ah mmm!"
Electrical currents were produced in a new place. His finger, finger, finger was there, her sensitive spot. She was currently twitching and trembling, right? Standing his nails up to perform something akin to play-biting, there was a strange sound. Although it hurt quite a bit, it felt very comfortable. Comfortable, right? What happened? Why was he doing such a thing? Although it felt very comfortable, due to the excessive excitement, Konoha's mind was in total disarray, but... But!
She could hear his light laughter, because they were very close together.
"Oh... Looks like you're the most sensitive here, Konoha. I can hear a wonderful sound coming from you. How exciting. I really want to hear more. So, I'm not going to use my fingers for the next part—"
Konoha predicted a new type of stimulating was coming. Something feeling like warm wind was blowing. No. This was a breath. His breath. Ah, in other words, his lips were approaching her body, his tongue extending towards her sensitive spot, h-h-e intends to lick—!?
"H-Hyawawa!! That place... That place... Not that place——!"
At this moment, it was anyone's guess how her mental circuits were connecting as a straight line dashing across her mind. A direct line linking her rationality with her thoughts. Her panic meter was completely going off the charts with the needle spinning a full circle to return to its original position. Originally hazy due to chaos, pleasure and having just woken up, her consciousness became clear all at once, telling her something extremely important.
—Something is absolutely wrong here!
By the time she regained her senses, Konoha discovered a strange feeling all over her body.
Shaking her body, Konoha freed herself from his palm, turning into human form in midair. Landing in the garden, she held her hand up in a karate chop, facing him who was sitting nonchalantly on the veranda.
"You—Who are you!?"
"What are you talking about? I am me."
The face and voice both belonged to Haruaki. However, something's wrong—Konoha was extremely certain.
Too careless. What an embarrassment. Truly humiliating. She must reflect deeply upon this. No matter how overcome with sleepiness, she could not believe how she failed to notice until now. He was not her owner. Not Yachi Haruaki. Although very similar, he was simply another person possessing Haruaki's form.
"Answer me truthfully. Who on earth are you—"
"I've answered you truthfully already. Yeah... But speaking of which, is this really okay?"
"What are you referring to?"
Konoha kept her knife hand ready without lowering her guard, narrowing her eyes as she asked. But unfazed by her pressure, he smiled and said:
"Say—a vigorous battle stance is very good and all, but you do realize you're showing everything, y'know? Both top and bottom. Oh my, your boobs are really awesome, Konoha. They look so soft, I can almost feel my hands sinking into them, it's unbearable, ah, maybe you're trying to seduce me? Then I'm totally fine with it. Let's pick up directly where we were just now—"
"Kyah! T-Too indecent—!"
Although Konoha desperately tried to convince herself what happened earlier was a misunderstanding, it still came as quite a shock to hear someone saying such things with Haruaki's appearance and voice. She instantly felt as though someone had smacked her hard on the head with a hammer. Instantly, her cheeks went flush red. Extremely bothered by the other person's gaze, she reflexively covered her breasts and crotch, then immediately looked around, searching for something to wear. Finding the laundry ahead of her, in the process of drying, she had no choice but to use it in this urgent emergency—
"...Huh? Oh no!"
Konoha came to a sudden realization. While her attention was diverted for an instant, he—an imposter of Haruaki, that she could be certain, at least—had disappeared from the veranda.
Taking a partially dried blanket from the laundry pole, she wrapped herself up before breaking into a run. Only for an instant, she sensed a presence in the entryway's direction, but by the time she arrived, there were no signs of the fake Haruaki. He had probably run away outside.
"What on earth... is going on? How incomprehensi..."
Just as Konoha narrowed her eyes and murmured, something entered her view. Something possibly related. Something evidently very suspicious.
The trunk delivered earlier, the one she had left at the entrance—It was now open. As though someone had exerted a great force from inside, the metal latch was blown apart, rolling on the floor by her feet. In addition, the trunk was empty with nothing inside it at all.
Konoha rapidly returned to her room and made a call on her cellphone. She called the person most likely to know the details. The phone rang for a long time as though the other side finally relented and picked up the call.
'...What now? Let me make this clear first of all, I'm currently at school due to supplementary lessons. It just happens to be break currently. If it's anything inane, I shall hang up immediately—'
"Shiraho-san, what was inside the case you sent over?"
Knowing time was precious, Konoha went straight to the point. She could hear Shiraho gasping. A few seconds later—
'Has something... happened?'
"It's already gone beyond the level of something happening."
Hence, Konoha explained what had just happened. The appearance of Haruaki's imposter. Although the appearance was identical to the real person, the behavior and attitude were still quite different.
'Oh~ I-I see...'
"You must know something, right? Your voice clearly sounds suspicious."
After Konoha spoke coldly, Shiraho probably gave up and began to speak amidst sighs:
'I had no intention of hiding anything. Seeing as you people are the experts, I was thinking you would handle things without issue even if I didn't do anything... But now that things have come to this, it sounds like an excuse.'
Then she continued to explain. The beginning of the whole incident. The visitor at her antique shop. The man had brought a doll resembling a mannequin. After getting tricked to reveal information, the man had fled in a panic. Hence, she had concluded it to be a cursed tool and sent it to the Yachi residence.
"Then what is the mannequin's origin?"
'The man was very stupid, because the phone number he filled in the form really connected. Then regarding the information I got out of the man, well... Let me think...'
Shiraho cleared her throat then tried her best to feign calmness as she spoke:
'It's supposedly a cursed doll. Provided someone imagines a certain person engaged in a certain behavior when pressing the switch on the doll's nose, it will transform into that person with that behavior in mind as a goal. By the way, now that I think about it, I might have accidentally touched its nose when I was stuffing that thing back into the trunk... Uh, just possibly, perhaps.'
"W-What did you say? Then let me ask you, what were you thinking at the time!?"
'J-Just the usual, nothing special. At the time, I was thinking of sending the thing to your home... Hence, well, I was thinking of that perverted man doing perverted things... V-Very normal, isn't it?'
Konoha felt a great shock in her mind.
If what Shiraho said was true—
The doll had transformed into Haruaki, prone to doing perverted things as imagined by Shiraho... Isn't that exactly the fake Haruaki who had toyed with her body repeated, ogled her naked body nonchalantly and even displayed a happy expression on his face!
How was that normal at all!? The way Konoha saw it, Shiraho had a bad impression of Haruaki to begin with, as though it would not be surprising if he sexually harassed Sovereignty no matter what time or place. And just as Shiraho said, she regarded Haruaki as a perverted man and stayed on full alert against him as such. Filtered through Shiraho's perceptions, the pervert form(!) of Haruaki... It would not be surprising for this kind of doll to engage in any amount of indecent behavior, essentially a total demon. Konoha shuddered at the thought.
"H-He must absolutely be stopped!"
'Allow me to provide more information. From what I heard from the man, there are three methods to make the doll return to its original state. One is to allow him to concretely accomplish the action inputted on activation. Right now—In other words, that would probably mean allowing him to accomplish unprecedented levels of perverted behavior to his heart's content. That said, who knows if sexually harassing tens or even hundreds of people might be enough.'
"...Naturally, I cannot allow this sort of thing. The conditions are too vague. Waiting for him to fulfill them would be utterly ludicrous."
'The second is to simply wait for the passage of time. After roughly forty-eight hours, he will turn back into the original doll. Let me state this beforehand, I activated him yesterday evening. Also, if during this time, someone else presses the transformation activation switch again, causing a new transformation, the previous condition will be overridden...'
"Even if nothing is done starting from now, it still means waiting for at least a whole day. Also, what if someone accidentally presses the reactivation switch, then who knows what could happen—Just like for the previous method, the number of victims will only increase. Too impractical. So what is the final method?"
'Apparently, there is switch to forcibly reset.'
"That's the one! I've been waiting for this kind of simple solution!"
Konoha clenched her fists, leaning forward to scream into the telephone.
If possible, she really did not want to personally destroy something bearing his appearance.
"So, where is that switch located?"
'Somewhere on the body.'
'I-I tried my best to ask that man, but it's his fault. I don't know if he was too afraid but throughout the phone call, he was stammering and stuttering, unwilling to give a straight answer. In a moment of fury, I threatened him: "Out with it now! Or else I will come over to your house immediately and set fire to it!" Then he hung up—'
Of course he'll flee for dear life—Konoha sighed in exasperation. She had idea if Shiraho noticed, but in any case, Shiraho continued without getting flustered at all:
'Because nothing had happened at that point, I didn't consider this information absolutely essential to know so I didn't contact him again. That's why I don't know the switch's precise location.'
"Sigh... No helping it, I guess we'll just have to find it ourselves. I hope it'll be in an obvious spot."
'But we have no idea regarding its external appearance. Perhaps it's like the nose's activation switch, which means pressing a certain body part.'
"You make a fair point... But since it's a switch after all, it should be possible to identify by touch or texture. After all, no matter what, we'll just have to capture that thing then investigate the entire body."
'I could call that customer again when I'm in a better mood, although I've no idea if he'll pick up or not.'
"I shall wait for your results without too much expectation."
No matter what, Konoha was thankful to discover a solution apart from destroying the doll. However, whether searching the entire body to locate the reset switch or Shiraho miraculously calling successfully and getting the other side to tell her the switch's location, they still needed to catch the doll and confine him first. Left alone, the number of victims would only increase, hence it was imperative to capture the fake Haruaki as quickly as possible.
"Well then, the fake Haruaki has already escaped. Do you have any idea where he might go?"
'He should be bound to the motives of his initial behavior, so I'm thinking he must have run off somewhere to perform perverted actions.'
At this time, Konoha suddenly recalled that he was dressed in school uniform. After telling Shiraho—
'It looks like he is capable of manifesting clothing to some degree. Back when I activated him, the image of the perverted man doing perverted acts in school like a pervert... Hmm, I cannot assert for certain that it did not cross my mind. This might be the cause.'
"I-Isn't that terrible—!?"
The fake Haruaki was currently heading to school with the intent to engage in indecent behavior. Left alone, goodness knows what might happen. Not only were girls going to suffer—but the real Haruaki's future was also at stake.
Keeping the cellphone pressed against her ear, Konoha frantically put on her uniform at the same time. In order to stop the fake Haruaki, she must make her way to school.
'Let me supplement the information with something that just came to mind. I was told that the doll was also used for assassinations before. In other words, he probably possess the characteristic of "accomplishing" orders at any cost no matter what happens or what obstacles he encounters.'
"I don't want to know this kind of information! Argh, how distasteful, to think she would have supplementary lessons today out of all days... Fear-san is at school too!"
'I am also there.'
"Yes, please be careful as well, Shiraho-san. I will hurry over right away!"
'Rest assured, I have already prepared myself to commit suicide by biting my tongue should a critical moment come to pass. Don't worry and make haste.'
A very convoluted signal for help, very much in Shiraho's style. After this final exchange, the two girls hung up.
Having put on her uniform, Konoha rushed out of her room. Currently, the image of the real Haruaki, still sleeping in his own room, flashed across her mind. However, it would be best not to wake him up. Although he would certain pledge his full effort to help after understanding the situation, things would be troublesome if people saw two Haruakis in school.
Hence, Konoha wrote a note and left it behind in the living room: "I need to go out, please watch the house." Then rushing out the door, she dashed towards the school at top speed.
Near the school gates—
A girl dressed as a maid—Sovereignty—was humming a song, sweeping the path leading to the school building's entrance. Although it was a Sunday, she had requested on her own to work on her day off because her lover was coming to school for supplementary lessons.
Although her official title was the superintendent's secretary's assistant-in-training, this type of janitor-like work was also part of her usual duties. She was already used to it—Only on rare occasions would she still make airheaded blunders.
While Sovereignty was rhythmically playing music with the broom, she suddenly noticed a student passing through the school gates. At this time of the day, supplementary lessons had already started. It was also too late for club activities. Besides, it was Sunday today, which meant that most students would not come to school apart from the aforementioned purposes. Arriving alone to school at this unusual time, how strange. Hence, she turned to look—
"Oh, it's Haruaki-kun! Good morning~!"
She waved hard and called out with a lively greeting. Haruaki also waved his hand lightly, smiling as he made a beeline for her.
"Good morning, Sovereignty. You're very cute today as well."
"Eh? Eh? A-Ahaha~ Thank you! I can't believe you suddenly surprised me with such a greeting... Amazing! You must have planned this performance, intending to add a bit of color to this boring Sunday with a little surprise, yes? But even as flattery, I'm very happy to hear it!"
Hearing such direct praise, Sovereignty was slightly at a loss how to react. A faint sense of dissonance was also lingering in the depths of her mind. However while she was scratching her head to hide her embarrassment, the feeling soon disappeared. Standing before her, Haruaki was smiling as usual, speaking with his usual voice, hence there was nothing strange—Should be.
However, after walking towards Sovereignty, Haruaki stopped but continued to stare intently at her.
"This isn't flattery. Sovereignty, you've always been very cute. It's true."
"Actually, I've been thinking for a while now, what exactly is the secret to your cuteness? Oh right, do you have the time? I'd like to confirm something."
"Confirm something? Oh, oyoyoyo?"
Just as she tilted her head in puzzlement, Haruaki chuckled and silently grabbed her arm. Then slightly forcefully, he dragged her to the wall surrounding the school. With the wall behind her and tall trees and bushes in front and on the side, this was a space completely isolated from external view.
Haruaki and Sovereignty were extremely close as he looked down towards her. Despite feeling that something was not right, Sovereignty still looked him in the eye.
"Umm, Haruaki-kun, why did you bring me to this kind of place—"
"Uh, sorry. What I want to confirm is... Umm, your chest."
Even though she was dressed in her usual maid outfit, even though he looked at her usually, Sovereignty found his gaze very bothering right now. He seemed to be focusing his attention to observe her cleavage. But since they were both the same as usual, if she acted too self-conscious and covered up her chest now, it would seem too impolite. Hence, Sovereignty could only shrink her neck back awkwardly, shaking her body. As a result, she then felt that Haruaki was staring at her wobbling bosom.
"Say... You can change the size, right?"
"Y-Yeah, because that's part of my design."
"I guess you usually keep same size, right? In particular, do you decide how many centimeters roughly?"
"Uh, no, I'm a bit casual with the particulars... But because it'd be bad to arouse suspicions in people not in the know at places like school, I always make them roughly the same size every day."
"Indeed, that's exactly it. That's what I wanted to confirm!"
Haruaki took a step forward, his eyes incomparably serious. Intimidated by his forcefulness, Sovereignty took a step back. Her back bumped into the wall. Subconsciously, she gripped the broom tightly that was still in her hand.
Then with an expression that could not be more serious, exuding airs like an adventurer, Haruaki said:
"I said it just now, you're very cute. But I was thinking, there must be what could be called best size for you, right? There should be a combination that makes you look the most dazzling and attractive, right? Although I've no idea if it would be bigger or smaller than the current size."
"Ah yes... There's also the shape. Shapes can come in a unlimited variations, right? Like pendulums-shaped or bowl-shaped. Including these combinations, there must be so many types that it's impossible to count them all. But no matter what, I'm curious. No matter what, I want to confirm your best appearance. So I beg you, please let me confirm. I will help. As long as it's within my ability, I will help out—"
Haruaki closed in on Sovereignty, step by step, meanwhile staring at her bust relentlessly, staring intently at the cleavage exposed by the maid outfit. As though doing some kind of warmup exercise, he kept moving the fingers of both hands frequently.
Sovereignty pressed her back tightly against the wall behind her.
"Hold on, hold on—!"
"R-Rather than unwilling—"
"I remember on a certain date before, didn't you let me touch them? You even asked me to rub them."
"That was umm... Like an accident, and it was only once, that's all. A-Anyway, now is different from that time! Right now... How should I put this? I feel a powerful aura coming from your body, Haruaki-kun! And umm—I... That's right, I am Shiraho's lover after all! She'll get mad!"
"Just treat it as a secret between the two of us... Then there's no problem."
Haruaki spoke in a gentle voice and took another step forward. So excessively bold of him. But conversely, it also implied that he was truly serious. Sovereignty could feel herself getting hot instantly deep inside her body. To think that Haruaki-kun wanted to touch my chest this much, this badly, this seriously—?
No no no!
"I should say... Right! I'm working right now! I'm only half done with my sweeping, so I can't play around! Not allowed... to disturb me!"
Holding the broom firmly in her hands, Sovereignty swung it lightly in front of Haruaki. I really don't want to use this broom for anything apart from sweeping—She thought to herself at the same time.
"...Really? You're right. I'm sorry. I get it. I'll give up on the matter of your chest. I didn't come to school because I really had something to do, so as an apology, let me help you sweep."
Sovereignty breathed a sigh of relief. As expected, communication was possible with a proper discussion.
"R-Really? That's good—"
"Oh, but excuse me. It'd be a bit shameless to call this a reward for helping you sweep, but just one, I still have another favor to ask! Could you turn into a boy for a while?"
As much as Sovereignty was filled with doubt, this favor was completely opposite to the breast-groping request earlier. Instead, it seemed completely unrelated to indecent developments. "Then please wait a sec." Hence, Sovereignty nodded at Haruaki, then turned her back towards him. Rubbing her chest to give stimulation, she caused her bosom to deflate, turning the volume to zero. Then she swiftly reached her hand beneath her skirt, turning a necessary body part into a necessary form. Although there was little change in voice, Sovereignty still went "ah~ ah~" to perform a youth's vocal exercises, then turned around.
"Okay, transformation done. Haruaki-ku—Hyahhhhhhhh!?"
However, Sovereignty was unable to turn around at all, because Haruaki had hugged him from behind during the process. His shoulders were completely surrounded by Haruaki while he felt breathing on his neck.
"W-What? What what what—?"
"On further thought, I've seldom had contact with you as a boy. So, there's a lot of things I want to confirm."
"C-Confirm what... Didn't we... take a bath together before...?"
"Really? Oh my, what does it matter? Anyway, I just want to know. See, like the texture of your wavy hair, the reactions of your ear or the softness of your cheeks..."
Haruaki used his index finger to lift her slightly curling strands of hair, then blew into her ear that was exposed to the air and poked her cheek. During this time, Haruaki used his other arm to hug her tightly. No, this had already surpassed a simple hug.
Sovereignty had taken on male form while dressed in a maid outfit. Naturally, with disappearance of the body fat responsible for the cleavage, so did the bulge supporting the fabric, thus resulting in a large opening in front of the chest—
Then Haruaki inserted his hand whole into the opening in the loose fabric.
"H-Haruaki-kun!? Th-This isn't right? I don't think this is right!"
"Totally no problem, what are you talking about? We are both the same gender right now... So this is purely skin contact between friends. This is just for fun, a game, that's all. This doesn't count as betrayal against your lover..."
"N-No way... Mmm..."
Stroke stroke stroke, stroke stroke stroke. Sovereignty's flat chest was getting stroked back and forth, as though Haruaki was looking for something. "Ah!" Sovereignty moaned, his mind started to become hazy.
"Wait, no good, that's—!"
"I'm just confirming. This is just friendly skin contact between guys... But if I really had to be honest, I'm wavering a little."
Sovereignty turned his head to look at Haruaki who was next to his face. Breathing a little quickly, he looked into Sovereignty's eyes up close and said:
"It's unexpectedly exciting. So, I can't help but think... Boy and boy is fine too."
"E-Ehhhhhhh!? Th-Those kinds of people exist, but I still don't think it's quite right—!?"
Sovereignty used both hands to push Haruaki's neck area, trying to push him away but could not somehow. Clearly Sovereignty was already using his true strength. Clearly Sovereignty knew that his strength was supposed to be higher than an ordinary human's. Why?
During this time, Haruaki even pressed his weight on Sovereignty.
He breathed scorching hot breath on Sovereignty's exposed neck.
Then parting his lips slightly, he extended his tongue—
Seeking more contact between mucous membranes and flesh, he approached Sovereignty's skin—
A mighty shout that seemed to shake the world and split the ground asunder. A roar that made the soul tremble.
Then immediately, Sovereignty heard a dull thud.
Due to too many things happening at once, his brain's processing capacity could not keep up with the flow. Sovereignty's mental circuits instantly froze. The world began to spin. The things before his eyes, which of them were real and which belonged in dreams? Sovereignty saw his familiar lover, a flying skirt, a shiny metal baseball bat, Haruaki struck flying—At this moment, because Sovereignty was still pushing his body with move hands, instantly, apparently due to using too much strength, Sovereignty accidentally pressed Haruaki's nose. During this time, Sovereignty's view and consciousness continued to spin chaotically while aimless thoughts continued to spill out.
(Awawa, uwawawa, hawawawa, what's with Haruaki-kun? Although I don't understand at all, this is too terrible! I must do my work. Last time at the public bath, was he looking at me with the same eyes? Say, doesn't that make public baths very problematic places? After all, the men basically don't cover up their bodies, rather, the more they worked out the more they wanted to show off. It's like when going into the female bath, women deliberately emphasize their busts the bigger their breasts are. So supposing Haruaki-kun is very interested in well-trained muscles, the male bath would be paradise allowing unlimited viewing, then he'll become super excited! Uwawa, the world is spinning before my eyes—)
It felt like motion sickness. Sovereignty could feel his legs suddenly losing strength.
Then his consciousness fell into darkness.
"Sovereignty! Hey, Sovereignty, hang in there—!"
Sovereignty felt as though stars were spinning around his head as Shiraho supported him, limp and unable to move. Shiraho called out desperately, but due to excessive shock, Sovereignty was already close to being in a coma.
"I think I just heard a very loud sound... Oh no! Am I too late!?"
Rustling as she pushed bushes apart, Konoha emerged from behind. Finally you arrive—Shiraho went hmph.
"That's right, the situation almost developed beyond the point of no return—Although he has long entered the territory I absolutely forbid! That was historically unprecedented perverted behavior that ought to be recorded in the entire world's history books, sexual war crimes that must be condemned by the collective conscience of all living beings!"
"Uh, although I don't know the details... I never would have expected to see Sovereignty-san in this kind of state... You have my condolences. As much as I'm curious about why she turned into a boy, I'd rather not pry. After all, it doesn't seem like it'll be good for my mental health."
"I agree. But anyway, where is the main object..."
At this moment, Shiraho looked around and sighed deeply.
"...I clearly smashed him with all my strength, but apparently he still escaped."
"Using that thing... You smashed him with all your strength?"
Konoha seemed to be narrowing her eyes at her. Shiraho raised the metal baseball bat she was holding in her right hand.
"That's right, smashing with full strength. With a running start at maximum speed, swinging with full might, I even aimed precisely at the back of his head, but never did I expect him to be so durable. He must have escaped while I was helping Sovereignty up."
"Did it even occur to you at all what consequences there would be if he turned out to be the real person...?"
"Now that you mention it, no, it never occurred to me at all."
Breaking out in cold sweat, Konoha smiled politely, frozen on the spot.
Did I give some sort of weird reply? Shiraho wondered in puzzlement while speaking with full confidence:
"Even if it was the real person, it would not change the fact that he was perpetrating an unforgivable and historic act of perversion against Sovereignty. In other words, after seeing that, it does not change what I am duty-bound to do. After all, it's ultimately all the same. Doesn't matter."
"On the other hand, I do wish that somewhere in a corner of your mind, Shiraho-san, you could retain some slight thoughts of treasuring others' lives in a show of humanitarianism..."
"Rejected. I have never heard of a humanitarian who goes so far as to treasure the lives of pests. Besides, with this, we now know at least that there is no reset switch on the back of his head. We have taken a step forward. You ought to thank me instead."
"Putting this aside—" Shiraho looked towards a direction where the imposter might have escaped.
"That guy's appearance really does resemble the perverted man's appearance to an indistinguishable degree. I think it would be best to hurry and chase him down."
"By this time, supplementary lessons are almost over. Simply because of the increase in the number of students out and about, the risk will rise correspondingly—By the way, Shiraho-san, what about your supplementary lesson?"
"Do you believe there is anything in this world more important than protecting Sovereignty's chastity?"
"...Please do your best in your next round of supplementary lessons. Well then, what needs to be done next is—Because he was born from your imagination, Shiraho-san, if we had to speculate on his next actions, surely he would prioritize people from your imagination and sexually harass them. In other words, we must find Fear-san first."
"Then I'll leave it to you. Before Sovereignty wakes up, I must attend to her."
Probably expecting Shiraho's answer, Konoha did not complain and simply said "Well then, please take care" before running to the school building.
Positioning the still-dizzy Sovereignty to rest on her lap, Shiraho used her fingers to gently comb his hair—At this moment, she suddenly remembered.
Then she threw a glance in the direction where Konoha had disappeared. Although there was one thing she had forgotten to mention... It was probably no help by this point. Besides, it was just a vague feeling she had.
(Basically, I think Sovereignty might have pushed his nose just now, which means that his mode of behavior might very well be altered slightly... But whatever. After all, there's no definite evidence. It's not like it's something I need to phone her specifically to let her know. That's for sure.)
"Phew~ It's over..."
Sitting in a chair inside the classroom, Fear swiveled her neck left and right. She never expected she would end up forced to take supplementary lessons again. However, this was her own fault—She had been a bit too careless on the last exam. And because she had been too careless, half of a precious Sunday was gone. She really must do her best on the next exam.
Noisily packing up her notes and stationery on the desk, she suddenly heard someone open the classroom door. Casually looking over, Fear found someone unexpected.
"Isn't this Kirika? What happened? You're not here for supplementary lessons, right?"
Kirika the honors student could not possibly have failed an exam. Of course, she was not part of club activities either. Given the case, why was she dressed in uniform as usual, carrying her schoolbag, coming to school on Sunday?
While walking to her seat, Kirika shyly made a wry smile and said:
"Just an absolutely ridiculous blunder. I left the handout due tomorrow in my desk and only found out last night when I was doing homework. I originally considered doing it in the morning tomorrow, but it seems like the homework's load isn't that easily finished—So that's why I came to school to retrieve it."
"What~? If it's something so minor, you could've just text messaged me. I could have delivered it to your home on the way back."
"I only discovered there were supplementary lessons after I arrived in school. I also had no idea that our classroom was being used for supplementary lessons, so I ended up having to wait until the lesson ended."
"Nuhoho, that's really unlike you to make this kind of airheaded mistake, Kirika."
"That's so true." Kirika smiled and took out the handout from her desk, stuffing it into a folder and putting it into her bag.
"Then my business is done. Fear-kun, your supplementary lessons are over, right? Want to leave together?"
"Exactly what I was thinking! But the lesson just now consumed an inordinate amount of energy, my throat feels so thirsty... Let's buy some juice from the vending machine in the cafeteria and take a break before heading out, okay?"
"Sure, I don't mind at all. Oh right, are there any of our acquaintances in the supplementary lessons today?"
"Hmm~" Fear looked up at the ceiling and recalled.
"There's Shiraho... who was still here until halfway, but as soon as break arrived, she ran off to who knows where. She should be attending the Ancient Japanese supplementary lesson at the end, but she never came back. To dare ditch class, that's so bold. As for others—"
Fear turned her gaze and glanced at the classroom door. She recalled the figure of the girl who had stumbled out of the classroom a moment before Kirika came in.
"That girl was here too. Although it's understandable, I find it quite incredible. From the organization's standpoint, is it okay for her to take supplementary lessons?"
"Oh that girl huh...? Despite the goal of seeking the unknown, that doesn't mean she'll definitely pass every school exam. Hmph, looks like this proves once again how inane and worthless the concept of seeking the unknown is. How absolutely ridiculous."
As usual, bringing up this subject made Kirika displeased. Fear deliberately tried to sound cheerful and got up from her chair.
"Okay~ I'm ready! Let's go, Kirika, juice tastes especially good after supplementary lessons!"
"Hoho, I'm sure the same goes for juice after making a trip just to get something forgotten at school."
Hence, Fear and Kirika left the classroom together. At the same time, Fear was thinking, due to supplementary lessons taking up the majority of Sunday, she must spend the remaining part of the day more happily than usual.
Due to attending supplementary lessons, Fear had switched off her cellphone. Not once did she ever consider the anxiety Konoha felt as a result of failing to contact her.
As for Kirika, who happened to come to school to pick up something she had forgotten, she was totally unaware that Konoha was thinking: "Since today is Sunday, Ueno-san can't possibly be at school" and had given up contacting her.
Hence, walking along the corridor, the two girls simply smiled at each other.
Completely oblivious to what was happening at this time.
Neither were they aware of what was about to happen next—
"Sorry it's so sudden, but your muscles really are great. Extremely—awesome."
"My answer: I give the response that being praised does not make me feel uncomfortable. But I am a little suspicious..."
"As expected of a warrior, this is unlike other people's flabby meat. If other people were lazy little pigs, then you must be the lion, the king of the beasts! The hunter among hunters, the one who understands nature and its unpredictability best! Ahhh, I really want to have muscles like you... Hey, can you help me investigate ways to build up muscle?"
"Although I find it suspicious... Putting that aside first, I should support your wanting to understand the unknown. Since I want to give you full assistance, I will provide assistance."
Hearing things such as "hunter among hunters" or "as expected of a warrior," Un Izoey could not help but feel a little elated, but surely this had nothing to do with mood, she was simply reaching the conclusion of assisting him based on logic. Hence, she nodded repeatedly. Smiling happily, he took her hand and led her to a cramped space at the bottom of the staircase. Here, no one else would see them.
"So, to investigate how to build up muscle... I guess touching is the best?"
"My agreement: that should be correct. So, where do you want to start touching? I predict that my legs should have the most developed muscles."
Seeing her make the suggestion proactively, he stared wide-eyed for a split second before smiling.
"I'm so glad you're so understanding. Hoho, then I'll take your offer..."
Kneeling down, he touched the muscles and tendons of her ankle with his fingers. That place was a warrior's critical vulnerability. All someone malicious needed to do was make a cut with a razor and that would mean the end of a warrior's career. But at the very least, she could tell between those who could be trusted and those who could not. He had no intention to harm. As for other intentions... Frankly speaking, although he said he wanted to investigate muscles, she still had no idea what was going on.
His fingers slowly climbed up along her leg. First he reached her calf, squeezing and kneading it. Un Izoey wondered if he found it hard or soft, quite curious about what he thought. The reason was also unknown. His hand moved further up, touching the back of her knee, rubbing up and down, he seemed to be confirming the tactile texture.
"Oh... I didn't expect it to be so soft. It feels quite nice to touch. Your muscles are very even."
"R-Really? It appeared... Mmm! A reaction I don't understand..."
Half-crouching now, he moved his hand further up, reaching her thigh. The thigh full of muscles. Perhaps for this reason, he spent the longest time there and was the most thorough, stroking and rubbing at key points. Sometimes he used the pads of his fingers, or the palm of his hand, massaging sometimes while using his fingertips to knead on others. Furthermore, he was using both hands, targeting the entire area of both thighs while investigating multiple locations simultaneously. When massaging the inner side of the thigh, he would use his thumb to stimulate the surface.
"! ...Ah... Mmm..."
"Because you made a pleasured sound, I'm thinking this might have a massaging effect?"
"My answer... Unknown. This is truly unknown... An unbelievable feeling... Huah... Mmm!"
"Hoho, even though your face is expressionless as usual, you're holding back forcefully, making sounds while your body is trembling nonstop... Too amazing, it's really exciting. In other words, you don't know what's going on with your body either? I'd really like to continue, but lemme ask first—Should I stop?"
He was doing this for the sake of elucidating the unknown. If she disallowed it despite clearly also wanting to elucidate the unknown, that would be far too tyrannical, hence she really ought to assist him. Besides, she also wanted to enjoy this incredibly comfortable sensation—Correction, she wanted to investigate this unknown sensation, that's right. Probably, definitely.
"Really? I'm so happy, thank you. If you've got any questions, just go ahead and let me know... Muscles, thighs, so sturdy, so sturdy, thighs, quadriceps! Wonderful! This is really wonderful!"
The movements of his hands became even more forceful. Then slowly, slowly, his fingers began to stroke up her thighs. Stroking their way beneath the skirt of her uniform that had been hiked up for ease of movement. Then from the thigh, almost about to touch the root of her thigh—
She frantically stopped him.
She had no choice but to stop him.
"My judgment... That place... should not have muscle...!'
"—You're right. Well then, I'll examine the upper body's muscles next."
Saying that, his voice sounded like he was very interested in their conversation. He swiftly straightened up and approached her, this time tracing his hands across her neck, then touching her shoulders. Simply pointing with his index finger, he slid down from her shoulder as though tracing a water droplet, then gliding down the curves of the bosom—Was that a place where men were allowed to touch casually? Did this country's culture allow this type of thing? Un Izoey had reservations but because his attitude was too natural, perhaps she was mistaken. Just as she was spacing out, thinking over these matters, his finger went past her bulging chest and continued to slide down—
"Right, speaking of the upper body's muscles, it's this place..."
Reaching this open territory below her uniform, below the chest, exposed due to her unfastened buttons.
He traced out her abdominal muscles with his finger. This was a type of unknown that made both her body and her lungs tremble. As though unable to contain his excitement and emotional turmoil, he said in a raised voice:
"Ahhh... Too amazing, muscles are really amazing. Your muscles are awesome! Full of elasticity, this unique bouncing force is something that no type of high-tech resin can rival. Yet it's also very supple, so comfortable that it makes me want to keep touching it forever, almost like an angel! You are an angel, a muscle angel! Muscle! Move it a little more, let me feel your muscles!"
"Ah... Huff... Ah... Ah!"
As though his limiter had been removed, he kept caressing Un Izoey's abdominal muscles back and forth. Due to this unknown ticklish sensation, her back kept trembling. His fingertips rushed along the surface of her muscles, using the pads of his fingers to confirm their elasticity.
But a problem was generated at this point.
"Move it more, move your muscle a bit more! Ah, is it here? Maybe if I touch it here, you'll tremble even more intensely? Looks veyr sensitive, so I'm probably right? Hurry and tremble, come—!"
"Huff... Ah... Ah—!"
She felt a presence. No good. HIs finger was about to touch that spot. Only that spot must not be allowed!
Un Izoey suddenly regained her senses and her body moved reflexively.
Spinning around to swap positions with him, she raised her right knee high to chest-level, putting up a battle stance to defend against his hands. Then keeping her right knee raised, she prevented the other party from continuing the attack.
Un Izoey desperately controlled her breathing that had quickened without her noticing, but to prevent him from discovering it, she feigned calmness in her voice and said:
"Th-That spot, the navel must not be touched by others. Based on this restriction, I must restrict you. Navel is the extremely important passage for raama to flow to puusaga and also center of human body, so, umm, umm—in my tribe... Umm..."
Most likely startled by her sudden reaction, he simply blinked repeatedly with a face of puzzlement.
Due to abruptly coming to her senses, Un Izoey suddenly felt very embarrassed about her attitude so far. Both perplexed and confused. No good. The exploration of the unknown must be interrupted. Besides, it really was too embarrassing.
"I-In other words! This is a very important spot, so this cannot continue. My recollection and confession: from a long time ago, I wanted to say this to this country's people very much. In other words, no matter who in this country—including you—everyone should cherish the navel and express their respect, and should understand that this is the human body's private spot that needs to be treated carefully..."
Un Izoey stuttered, trying to hide her embarrassment while at extending her raised knee forward at the same time.
Then using that leg's big toe, she flicked him in the nose. By using her foot to flick his nose, she told him that everything was over, at the same time conveying some element of a warning.
"Then... Apologies, I must be going."
Probably due to the impact of flicking his nose (although she did not think she used much force at all), his face lifted up, staring into the air, spacing out without moving.
But because she did not know when he might revive and demand to touch and play with her navel again, Un Izoey turned around and left him, escaping from the space under the stairs.
She thought over what had happened so far.
She never expected him to be someone so interested in muscles. Thank goodness this fact became known. She also felt very comforta—correction again, she experienced an intriguing sense of the unknown. Furthermore, if it were just the thigh muscles, letting him touch further was not unacceptable. Until he was satisfied, he could touch for as long as he wanted. However—
(The navel, sure enough... still a bit... too early.)
An unknown sense of heat accumulated in her cheeks. In order to make it dissipate, she expressionlessly rubbed her cheeks.
Yes, really, only that spot must not be touched by others casually.
It must be undertaken with cautious thought first. A longer, more in-depth talk must be undertaken first.
—Because back in her tribe, the navel was a spot where only married spouses were allowed to touch.
Normally, there were kitchen ladies in charge of cooking, but because it was Sunday, the kitchen was locked up tight. However, the student cafeteria with all the tables was still open to entry. While chatting casually with Kirika, Fear sipped juice bought from the vending machine. At this moment—
"It's terrible, Fear! Class Rep!"
"Why are you at school? Did you forget something at school too?"
What an unexpected development. With a face full of alarm, Haruaki had suddenly rushed into the cafeteria, panting heavily, grabbing Fear's hand with a very serious expression, pulling her up from her seat.
"No, it's not like that, but anyway, it's terrible! Hurry and come with me!"
"W-Wahhhh, stop dragging me! What's wrong? What's going on?"
"You too, Class Rep, come with us!"
"I don't quite get it... But it looks like this is no ordinary situation. Please explain later."
Due to Haruaki's forcefulness, Fear had no choice but to follow and let him pull her arm for now.
Soon after, the trio arrived at the sports equipment storage in a corner fo the school grounds. Probably because it had been used by clubs in the morning, the door was not locked.
It was a space with dust flying all around, colored traffic cones dumped haphazardly and cages where balls were kept. After pushing Fear and Kirika into the storeroom, Haruaki shut the sliding door with a clatter. Due to the presence of a fairly large window, it was not totally dark inside.
"So, why did you bring us to this kind of place? Now that supplementary lessons have finally finished, I was planning to enjoy myself leisurely... Has some kind of issue come up?"
"Issue? That's right, there's a huge issue. There's something I must ask you two to do together."
"If you say so, it must be something very serious... So, what is it?"
After Kirika narrowed her eyes and asked, Haruaki nodded in an extremely, overly serious expression.
Then staring intently at the two girls, he spoke each word clearly—
"Navels... Please show them. Both of you."
Fear almost thought she had heard wrong, but apparently not. Haruaki's expression remained unchanged. Fear could not help but think, was this some kind of Japanese idiom that she did not know? Hence, she looked at Kirika beside her, but this only ended up with two puzzled faces staring at each other.
"Hey, damn shameless brat, why are you making this kind of demand? I-If you're trying to pull something weird, I'll curse you!"
"Th-That's right, Yachi, tell us the reason. It's far too weird to make this type of request out of the blue. How absolutely ridiculous—"
"Don't talk anymore, just hurry and do as I say! This is really... something very important...!"
Haruaki did not back down in response to the two's complaints. Instead, strengthening his tone of voice, he took a step towards them and placed each of his hand on Fear and Kirika's shoulder respectively, his eyes glowing with vigor.
He did not look like he was joking at all. All that could be felt from him was an aura of seriousness. This was genuine and powerful willpower and desire that the usually boring and wooden Haruaki seldom displayed. Stared in the face by these eyes of his, Fear could not help but feel her heart skip a beat.
This affair was totally mind boggling. Nevertheless, Haruaki's expression looked too serious, already far beyond the level of a joke or whimsical fancy. Then perhaps there might be some sort of reason that could not be explained in detail—
Exchanging glances briefly with Kirika once again, Fear said:
"Hmm... I don't quite get it, but since you say so... After all, it's just the belly button. You've already seen it a number of times, like after taking baths."
"I-It's not the first time for me either... So, umm, n-no helping it. And if it's here, there's no worry of getting seen by others. Just briefly, okay, so all that's needed is for us to expose our navels...?"
"Yeah, just show your navels."
Fear frowned lightly with her lips while unbuttoning the bottom of her uniform, opening it outwards. This happened to make it look similar to Un Izoey's usual manner of wearing her uniform. Cheeks going slightly scarlet, Kirika also undid her uniform buttons and embarrassedly rolled the bottom of her shirt up to the top of her belly—amidst the color of flesh, faint glimpses of the black leather covering her body came into view.
"I-I've shown it. Is this okay?"
"Hmm, this is unexpectedly embarrassing. Hey, stop staring nonstop, Yachi, absolutely ridiculous... Gah..."
"Yes, this is fine. Hold it and don't move for now, you two."
Arranging Fear and Kirika side by side while keeping their postures with their uniforms pulled up, Haruaki knelt down in front of them, positioning his gaze to have their navels at eye level, then staring with full focus. He stared with inexplicably passionate eyes.
"Hmm... So it's like this... Ohoh..."
"W-What do you mean, 'so it's like this'!?"
"Fear's navel... It's small and white, like a pretty flower. Class Rep's shape is more gentle... Hmm, I love this kind of navel too."
Fear and Kirika could not help but question acutely, but Haruaki continued with a face that could not be more solemn:
"However, seriously—This is bad. At this rate, this will be very bad."
"What are you talking about!? I thought you were praising us, but what's going on now!?"
"Yachi, it's very bad? A-Absolutely ridiculous, so there's actually something weird going on with my navel...?"
His manner of speech and expression remained very serious. Fear could not help but think, perhaps just as he said, something extremely terrible was happening. To make Haruaki, who usually acted like a dry old man, to get so serious, the only thing coming to Fear's mind was—It must be something related to cursed tools, right? For example, someone might have used a bizarre tool to spread a curse infecting people indiscriminately like some kind of epidemic, then only by examining the navel could the infection be identified—Something of that sort. In that case, she could understand why Haruaki would do this sort of thing so forcefully that there was no time to explain.
Still kneeling down in front of Fear and Kirika, Haruaki shifted his gaze left and right, switching back and forth between observing their navels. Why did he gulp so audibly? Was he nervous? Was he scared? Or was it some other emotion? At any rate, Fear thought, something serious must definitely be happening.
"H-Hey Haruaki, stop staying silent. Say something. What should we do..."
"I know—Let's try it out. After all, anything would be better than the current situation. Fear, lie down on that mat first. Of course, you still need to keep your navel exposed."
Fear obediently lay down on a mat used for track and field. Haruaki then said:
"Then you, Class Rep—Lie down on top of Fear's body. Face to face."
"Hurry, Class Rep! Please!"
"Guh, okay... I'll definitely have you explain properly later, Yachi...!"
Probably intimidated by Haruaki's serious appearance, Kirika took care to hold down her skirt while getting on the mat. Then she knelt down next to Fear's waist and putting her hand above Fear's shoulder—in other words, Kirika's posture was now as though she were pinning Fear down on her back. Having Kirika's face up close was making Fear feel very embarrassed. Her soft, sleek hair, dangling down was also tickling Fear greatly.
"Next, Class Rep, move your belly lower. Like putting Fear's navel and your own navel together!"
Fear could feel the draping end of Kirika's uniform touching her abdominal area. In other words, Kirika was following Haruaki's instructions, pushing her body slightly lower.
"That's right, like that... Yes..."
Haruaki bent down, standing next to Fear's lower half, he gazed intently at that spot—namely, where the navels were pointed at each other. Staring while inexplicably panting a little, at the same time, he was muttering something quietly in his lips.
"Like this, two of them... I can see two navels at once... Awesome... Two awesome navels combined, the view is even more awesome, navels, navels, navels! Smooth little holes, tender little holes. It feels like I'm about to get sucked inside, it feels like almost everything will be sucked inside, ahhh, I really wanna go in, really wanna go in..."
"...Hold on, I can't hear it clearly, but you seem to be saying strange things—"
"Honestly—This is bad. In terms of unbearability, this is really bad! Class Rep, move closer a bit! Please, I beg you, press even closer together! Press your navel together with Fear's!"
"A-Absolutely ridiculous, what the heck, this is totally nonsensical... I don't care anymore! Here, look, are you happy now? How absolutely ridiculous...!"
Haruaki urged with eagerness, causing Kirika to move even closer to Fear in confusion but also with apparent resignation. Bending her elbows and knees, following Haruaki's instructions, she allowed their navels to overlap. In the next instant, two warm abdomens were pressed together.
"Yes, that's exactly it! Ahhhh... This scene, I can only pray! I really want to pray!"
"Mmm, huah... Hold on, damn shameless brat, your face is too near, there's no need for you to stare so hard, is there? And your breath is getting on my tummy... Hey, you're not prostrating in worship right now, are you? Am I imagining things!?"
"It's your imagination."
"Say, it's time you start explaining... Also, perhaps because you keep staring, my navel feels so ticklish."
Due to the warmth of Kirika's abdomen, Fear could feel her own navel sweating slightly. Hence, she squirmed her body while reaching towards her belly, causing Haruaki to widen his eyes all of a sudden.
"Idiot! No, stop it now! How can you scratch with your fingers, that's so disrespectful! You have to treat it with caution, it's a very important place!"
"But Yachi, I feel ticklish too... C-Can we stop maintaining this posture?"
"I said no already! I know, leave it to me, I will be the one to protect your navels! No matter what, I will protect them to the very end! I will be very gentle, keeping them safe without leaving a single scar... Using this...!"
An instant later—
The belly, warm to begin with, sensed a new source of warmth.
"Nuho—!? Haruaki, hey! Damn you, shameless brat! I-I'll curse you, what are you doing!?"
"Yachi! Hey, mmm! Stop it... Not... there!"
Without any hesitation, Haruaki was forcibly pressing his nose into the space between Fear and Kirika's navels. With the two girls' uniforms pulled up, their exposed abdomens were forming a sandwich with Haruaki's face.
Immediately, Haruaki breathed lightly while producing new sensations in the area around Fear's navel.
With full concentration, as though treating some kind of treasure, gingerly, he&mash;
Began to lick.
"What the... Ha, ah, gah... A-Absolutely ridiculous... That's... mmm guh—!"
Tickled to the verge of tears, Fear's hazy vision saw Kirika twitching and trembling on top of her. At the same time, in response to Haruaki's inexplicable and incomprehensible behavior, Fear's mind was plunged into total chaos.
Fear thought honestly to herself—
Haruaki was broken.
"Oh! Huff... Ah... So ticklish..."
"Yachi, what on earth are you trying to do? It's time for you to stop—Guh... Ah!"
"Yes, you two are wonderful. So exciting, it's perfect... I've never seen this sort of scene before. From here on, I will protect them for you like this, so please don't touch them on your own."
"I-I'm not trying to touch...!"
"Don't lie. The way you looked just now, surely you've been playing with this by yourself all the time..? What an impatient girl you are."
"! Ugh... Ah..."
"Class Rep, are you that comfortable? You look like you're having trouble speaking. Relax, you don't need to worry at all, I will take good care of you. That's right, Fear and Class Rep's navels both belong to me, I absolutely won't hand them over to anyone else... Ahhh, ahhh! I really want to lick them forever! I can't hold back anymore, although I will treat you two gently, I will up the intensity while doing it gently! Relax, I understand! I understand everything! So even though it'll be more intense, don't worry, feel free to cry out, come, come, yes, smooch—"
Konoha was standing frozen like a statue, but this had gone way past the limit.
Reaching towards the sliding door to the sports equipment storage where these voices were coming from, her arm kept trembling—
"TH-THIS. ENDS. HERE. NOW—!"
Then slicing the sliding door into two in one stroke, she rushed into the storeroom.
Instantly, the scene inside deluded her into seeing the world split apart before her eyes. Fear was lying on an athletic mat, her clothing disheveled. Likewise with disheveled clothing, Kirika was lying on top of Fear. Both of them had bright red faces, panting heavily, their bodies stiff, staring into space. In addition, with his face stuffed into the space between the two girls' bellies—Naturally, it was the fake Haruaki.
Fear and Kirika's moistened eyes recognized her, calling her name with lips where saliva was almost dripping out. At the same time, the fake Haruaki stopped licking their skin and turned to look at Konoha. The fake. He was the fake. However, due to bearing Haruaki's appearance and figure, for a being like that to be doing whatever he wanted to those two girls' sensitive spots (even though it was quite different from what she expected), naturally, it went without saying, totally obviously—This was absolutely unforgivable.
"I-Immorality Blocker (Bloodless Variant)!"
Even though Konoha's wrath had rocketed sky high, she was still unable to chop and dismember the doll that bore Haruaki's outer appearance. Hence, sealing away the sword's sharpness, she simply aimed the edge of her palm against him, taking a step forward with the intent to blow him him away. However—
With lightning speed, the fake Haruaki withdrew from Fear and Kirika. This speed was on a level absolutely impossible for the real Haruaki's athletic abilities and reflexes, agile enough to rival a first-rate gymnast. Fleet of foot, the fake Haruaki backed away. Only after creating a certain distance did he giggle and smile at Konoha.
"Please don't call my name so familiarly... Speaking of which, Shiraho-san mentioned that you were used for assassinations in the past. Then it's no wonder how you can perform the movements just now. Apparently, you also possess sufficient defense to shrug off a strike from a baseball bat, unharmed."
Thinking back now, Konoha realized that it must be due to his capabilities that he managed to escape from home earlier. After all, no matter how distracted she was from being naked, if he were merely a cloning doll, he definitely could not have fled so easily. This doll possessed superhuman mobility as befitted a cursed tool.
(So... What should I do?)
Konoha narrowed her eyes, paying attention to his movements. The fake Haruaki tilted his face up, casually scratching his head, at the same time moving his ankles, creating distance imperceptibly.
"Although I don't quite understand... I really don't want to get close to you when you're angry. There's also this foreboding feeling."
The fake Haruaki's gaze turned to the side—glacing at the window in this sports equipment storage.
Did he realize Konoha wanted to capture him? Did he realize she intended to press the reset switch, to terminate his temporary revival? —That said, did the fake Haruaki understand his own body's structure? No, even if he was not aware of his identity as a doll, he probably could still sense danger instinctively.
Putting aside theories for now, the current problem was that he intended to flee.
Judging from the school's current situation to this point, miraculously, the fake Haruaki had not committed crimes against any of the normal students, hence an uproar had not occurred yet—But one could not say about the future.
There were probably still some female students remaining in school. If he were to escape, the fake Haruaki's evil claws were going to assault them. He would forcibly push them down and lick their navels. With that, it would be the end of Haruaki's school life. Even if they explained that an imposter did it, no one would possibly believe them. Even if the superintendent and his staff stepped forward to provide guarantees, there was no way to control the preconceived impressions left in students' minds—
In other words, for the sake of allowing Haruaki and her to have a happy school life henceforth, Konoha absolutely must not let the fake Haruaki escape right now.
However—Konoha secretly bit her lip.
Just as she found out just now, this guy possessed superhuman physical capabilities. Furthermore, he was closer to the window that offered an escape route. Concerned about his appearance, she was unable to attack directly. Under these conditions, was she able to stop him from escaping—? To be honest, she only had fifty percent certainty.
(In that case... I must try out everything I can do...!)
Having decided, Konoha racked her brain. In order to ensure that the fake Haruaki could not escape from here, to resolve this incident, what was she able to do?
That was... That was—
(A-Although it's very embarrassing... I have no choice but to go ahead!)
Staring wide-eyed suddenly, Konoha then—
Forcefully lifted the hem of her uniform and said:
"Haruaki-kun, l-look! Please look at my navel! It's a navel! Y-You may do as you like!"
Originally backing away in retreat, the fake Haruaki instantly halted, staring wide-eyed at Konoha's belly. Due to having changed in a hurry, Konoha did not have time to put on a shirt at all, hence her entire abdomen was exposed before his eyes, totally unguarded.
(H-He bit the bait! Judging from what he was doing to those two, just as I suspected, right now, he's pretty much a navel maniac! B-But... this is so embarrassing...!)
She glanced slightly at Fear and Kirika to see them lying powerlessly on the mat, simply looking up at her with utterly confused eyes. If she tried to read even more subtle emotions from their eyes, then there seemed to be doubt due to not understanding what Konoha was doing, worry out of concern for her, anger from denouncing her actions as truly shameless, as well as a realization that she, too, had gone mad.
What an embarrassment—Konoha thought, but it was impossible to explain at the moment.
The fake Haruaki walked slowly towards Konoha.
"Ohoh... Wonderful. Unlike Fear's and Class Rep's, it's a meaty and sexy little hole. Ahhh, may I worship it? May I worship Konoha's wonderfully meaty navel? Ahhh, Lord Navel!"
"O-Of course you may. I am very happy... to receive your praise."
"Really? But until just now, you seemed very angry..."
I must not rouse his suspicions. I must not let him escape. This is a critical moment. Konoha desperate racked her brain.
"That's—that's... Umm, because you left me behind and started playing with Fear-san and the others first! I want to join in with you guys too! So, listen here, don't worry about trivial things, Haruaki-kun, hurry up and play navel games with me! Come here!"
Konoha forced an artificial smile to invite him. The corners of her lips were probably twitching stiffly, but luckily, the fake Haruaki did not seem to notice.
"Ahhh, ahhh, Konoha! Thank you! I knew it, you're the best!"
The fake Haruaki went up to hug her. Despite knowing him to be a fake, Konoha still felt her heart racing a little. Still leaning forward, sandwiched between her breasts, he looked down at her navel. His first step was to examine closely. Quickened breathing. Body warmth.
He stared intently. This spot, normally concealed from view, was now currently being examined closely by him in detail, as though being licked. Examined as though being played with. Konoha felt the depths of her body gradually growing hot—Nevertheless, she had not forgotten what she was supposed to do.
With natural movements, she caressed his head. Obviously murderous intent had to be suppressed, but she must also prevent him from discerning her other intentions. On the surface, Konoha disguised the motions of her hands with tender affection, presenting them as merely biological reactions—But in actual fact, she was searching desperately.
(The reset switch... Where is it?)
While stroking his hair, she continued to search. Then she checked above the ear, the root of the hair, the back of the head—But Shiraho had already confirmed using a baseball bat, so it could be skipped, right? But just in case, Konoha checked again.
"Hmm~ Hoho. Well, Konoha, I'm going to touch now..."
"Ah! Okay, please—mmm..."
Not the head? The fake Haruaki's fingers were poking her belly, causing Konoha's body to shake intensely. But not yet. Going as far as to use her bosom to envelope his downwards moving head, she spread her arms to hug him tightly. Unless she did that, she would be unable to touch his back—but of course, his muffled voice coming from her cleavage was making her sense of shame almost about to explode—But he's a fake! What I'm holding is the fake's head, it's just like tightly hugging a body pillow with Haruaki-kun's photo stuck on it—Konoha convinced herself desperately, trying her utmost to endure.
She must not let him discover that she was searching for the switch. Once his suspicions were roused, he might escape again. Hence, using her own body as bait, Konoha continued to search for the reset switch on his body during this time. While enduring the perverted stimulation on her navel, she continued to search.
"Ha, ah... Heah..."
Locked in mutual embrace with the fake Haruaki, Konoha had her chin resting against the top of his head, hence she could see Fear clearly. Like a fish, Fear's lips were opening and closing repeatedly.
"Y-You... why? Too... T-T-T-T-Too shameless...!"
Of course, Konoha was unable to explain the whole story. It would alert the fake Haruaki.
This was strategy. It must be done like this. Because there's a reset switch on his body which I'm looking for—thinking no matter how small the chance, Konoha hoped that Fear and Kirika could understand her intentions, hence she repeatedly blinked at Fear to convey her meaning. I understand your minds are in turmoil, but please stay still—It would be even better if she could express her message in Morse code, but of course, neither she nor Fear nor Kirika had learnt it before.
Seeing Konoha blink, Fear dramatically widened her eyes and straightened her back. Did she get a vague sense of Konoha's meaning? However, Konoha's relief only lasted but an instant—
"Uwah... Oh...! I can't believe you lifted up your clothes to accept shameless behavior, and you're even seducing him shamelessly! I-In the end, you even blinked with pride to emphasize your happiness! C-Cow Tits, you... I never imagined you to be this kind of person. I can't believe you're one to lose your mind from pleasure, this is totally stupid...!"
"No, Fear-kun, you can't blame her. It was the same for me, had it continued, who knows what would have resulted. So enviable... No, I'm not envious at all, rather, what a shame..."
Placing her hand on Fear's shoulder, Kirika shook her head with a pained expression. Normally, Kirika surely would have noticed Konoha's intent—But currently, her mind must be suffering from an intense blow. Definitely, even Kirika had no idea what she was saying herself.
(Damn it... In any case, before these two take some kind of weird action...!)
Where? Where exactly is this switch?
Konoha sped up her search of the fake Haruaki's body. Nothing. Then her only choice was to advance to the next area.
"Mmm... Hey, Haruaki-kun, would you like... to lie down and play...?"
"Yeah, you're so right, of course! As expected of Konoha, you're willing to let me do as I want! That's why you're the best, Konoha! Okay, let's lie down there! Let me look at that part of Konoha's, let me look even more!"
Konoha pushed him down from their posture of mutual embrace and rolled together on the ground. For just an instant, Konoha seemed to see Fear and Kirika make faces resembling Edvard Munch's The Scream, almost looking like they were saying: "Lying down—! Are you planning on letting him touch even more thoroughly!?" However, Konoha had no time to tend to the girls. Pretending to fall down, Konoha withdrew her hands and started to touch the front of his body. Was the switch on his chest? Or flank? Neck? Perhaps the navel? The fake Haruaki was lying on top of her, tracing his fingers in the vicinity of her navel, causing her to tremble incessantly, but she could not stop him. If the switch was not on the upper body, then it must be on the lower half. As though engaging in a battle of ground skills in judo, Konoha skillfully swapped positions with the fake Haruaki, using movements that could be explained away as "loving caresses," she slid her hands over all parts of his body, pressing each of them lightly. Where was it? Calves, knees, thighs... However, the more she checked, the more Konoha felt the anxiety in her heart expand.
(W-Why can't I find it...? W-Where else? What's left?)
The answer was obvious. Now was also not the time for hesitation.
Making her decision, Konoha reached to touch the last remaining spot. Described delicately, she was searching his entire lower abdomen. This is a fake. It's not him, neither is it human. So this isn't anything, nor is it an experience—Konoha convinced herself this way. However—
"Oh... Haha, Konoha, you're doing it a bit too hard. You're allowed to touch, but please be more gentle."
Konoha was stunned.
Shocked, she withdrew her hand and reflexively reached for another spot—Then she froze.
There was nowhere else she had not investigated yet.
Her hands had already touched every place she could think of. And she had exerted a certain level of force, pressing down. She could not possibly have missed a spot. In other words—
Why? She had clearly checked every part of the fake Haruaki's body.
Yet she could not find the reset switch anywhere.
Impossible to comprehend, impossible to accept. Was the information given by Shiraho's customer wrong? Then which part was wrong? Which part was correct? What should she do now?
Predictions and plans failing, Konoha's mind was plunged into chaos. Using this opportunity, the fake Haruaki pinned her body down with his weight. Haruaki's face was right before her eyes. Whispering in her ear was also Haruaki's sweet and gentle voice—
"So... I should also lick your navel clean, Konoha. Don't worry, I'll take care of your navel for a lifetime. I'll make you very comfortable, with very gentle movements as well, so..."
The fake Haruaki's mouth gradually approached Konoha's belly. His breathing blew against her skin and the exposed navel. She could also feel his warmth under her bosom. Konoha shook from the very depths of her body.
(Ah, hold on... No good, no good, clearly no good... But...)
What should she do next? However, the warmth of his breath was invading the gaps of her confused consciousness while her brain instantly boiled. Her body was unable to exert force. The fake Haruaki's face moved in even closer. Extending his tongue, he gradually drew near.
(I have to endure... But what next... after enduring? What's the next countermeasure, what countermeasure can be taken—Ahhh, wait, I'm still thinking, hold on first—)
However, he did not wait for her. It was as though he was saying that this action itself was an important ceremony for branding Konoha's body with his own mark.
Hence, Konoha shut her eyes tightly.
Just before her navel was about to experience the moisture of his tongue—
"I originally planned to go home directly. But despite appearances, I do feel slightly responsible to some extent, rare enough as it may be."
"Me too, on this rare occasion... I personally... umm... feel that punishing you is necessary—! So, this ends here! Obey!"
The saviors suddenly rushed into the sports equipment storage. Shiraho and Sovereignty. With a wave of his hand, Sovereignty caused the fake Haruaki to straighen his back completely and retreat as though bouncing away, just as his tongue was about to venture into Konoha's navel. While groaning, his body stopped moving.
Seeing Sovereignty nod with satisfaction, Konoha sat up and exhaled in relief. Oh right—despite looking identical to a human, this was a doll after all. Then for Sovereignty who held absolute authority over all dolls, the power of "domination" could not fail to take effect.
Oh my, finally with this—Just as Konoha felt a great burden lifted off her shoulders...
The two girls, who still had no idea what was happening, stuck in absolute confusion, finally sprang into action. As though saying "how could we do nothing," they took action.
"I-I don't quite get it, but now is the chance—!"
"That's right! «Tragic Black River»!"
The two girls finally got up from the mat and began to punish the fake Haruaki instinctively. Kirika extended the cursed belt and wrapped it around Haruaki's head from behind, pulling him backwards. On the other hand, Fear pounced on him from the front.
Then Kirika's belt pressed the nose of the fake Haruaki.
Sitting astride the fake Haruaki's chest while he was lying on the ground, Fear pointed at his nose with her finger—
Simultaneously, they said:
"Y-Yachi, your behavior today is totally unsightly! Perhaps there may be extenuating circumstnaces, but you should at least explain clearly... A-Anyway, you must behave more seriously!"
"That's right, damn shameless brat! Although you're quite shameless normally, today's is way over the limit! I forbid all shameless behavior from you completely! I'll curse you!"
While maintaining a pose with her arm extended, trying to stop the two girls, Konoha felt cold sweat dripping down.
What should she do now? Somehow, she felt that the final situation had become very troublesome.
After that, things actually did turn out very troublesome.
"To think that this Yachi is a fake... Even if you say that, it's still very difficult to believe..."
Saying that, Kirika examined the fake Haruaki who was sitting on the floor of the storeroom. Due to Sovereignty watching him, he was unable to escape so they currently did not impose severe restraints on the fake Haruaki's movements. Shifting his bottom, he swiftly backed away.
"Eeek—! Please don't come near me! For a pretty girl like Class Rep, if you bring your face this close, my heart will... I-I can't look at you directly!"
"P-Pretty...? Nuho, absolutely ridiculous... However, it's quite refreshing to see this kind of Yachi. I never would have expected this... Nuhohoho."
Nodding repeatedly with a serious expression like an observer, Kirika could not suppress her giggling.
At this moment, Sovereignty knelt down with her knees slightly together, meanwhile examining the fake Haruaki.
"It's probably because they both pressed the switch at the same time and said almost the same thing. It could have resulted in a multiplied effect, which caused this. Now he's become super serious and feels very improper about doing depraved things to girls."
"W-Wahhhhhh! Sovereignty, you have to be more careful, oh no, remember that you're wearing a skirt! Also, the chest as well! Your clothing is so loose, I'm almost getting a glimpse inside! Too dangerous, sorry, I'm shutting my eyes!"
"Uh... Although the implications are opposite to when I said this earlier, I'm currently a boy!"
"It's still the same! Ahhh, why is everyone so unguarded? You need to have more of a sense of shame..."
The fake Haruaki was covering his face, shaking his head repeatedly. Clearly he was currently devoid of an evil nature—But why? There a feeling that everything was a big mistake. Also a kind of guilty feeling.
Nevertheless, he was just a doll after all, no different from a robot acting according to programming—Just as Konoha was persuading herself in this manner, the fake Haruaki turned his gaze towards her to escape the unguarded Sovereignty.
Oh... Ahhhh...! With a look as though he had seen something despairing, he said:
"No way... T-Too improper—! Konoha! How could you look like this!"
"Eh? Umm, I'm just the same as usual, my uniform is definitely buttoned..."
"It's already gone beyond that level, it's totally visible, your bulging is too obvious! If other boys looked at you like this, goodness knows what's going to happen. Can't you be slightly more considerate for us!? Rather, it's making the viewer embarrassed... Also, your skirt's too short! Argh, how can you stand there so nonchalantly in such a dangerous state? Too scary, too scary, girls are really too scary...! Why didn't I enroll in a boys' school? A-Anyway, cover up with this first!"
With a rustle, the fake Haruaki covered Konoha with a tarp. Because this came totally out of the blue, Konoha had no time to resist at all. Just as Konoha was covered entirely like a ghost doll and her figure obscured—"Phew~" He finally breathed a sigh of relief in satisfaction.
At this moment, Konoha heard laughter in constrast.
"Kukuku, uheeheehee! I see, thanks to this guy, it's proven that Cow Tits' existence itself is shameless! Hello, the embodiment of shamelessness! Haha, r-recklessly using an ugly cow's body shape to seduce men, that's something only sluts would do, so why don't you simply take this chance and start going to school all covered up like this from now on... Ufufu!"
Fear jeered while chuckling to herself from the bottom of her heart. How infuriating. A slice instantly appeared in the tarp that the fake Haruaki had placed over her. Apparently, sword energy from her hand had escaped. How displeasing.
In any case, just as Konoha was about to throw the tarp at Fear as a declaration of war, the fake Haruaki looked at Fear this time.
"Oh? A-Are you trying to express your opinion about what's shameless about me too? This is expected. Totally unlike Cow Tits, my whole body is full of charm from head to foot, a perfect lady giving off brilliant radiance like that of gemstones! However, I won't accept a tarp attack!"
After the slightly guarded Fear and the fake Haruaki stared intently at each other—
Haruaki breathed a sigh of relief and nodded, saying:
"Yes, Fear is Fear. Always so energetic, I think it's great."
"Hey—!? Hold on a sec! It's almost like you're saying you didn't feel anything sexy about my body at all! There must be something at least that makes you flustered, causing your heart to race!"
"Ara ara, Fear-san, isn't this lovely? To think that even this excessively serious fake version of Haruaki isn't afraid of you, tell me exactly which part of you is ladylike...? Ohohoho!"
"Wait, Fear-kun, if you pounce and press the switch on his nose again, it'll be problematic! You have to control yourself!"
"Kirika, you let go of me! I'm going to make this contemptible fake understand what's the truth of this world!"
Amidst this chaos, Shiraho exhaled deeply.
"Your farce have gone on long enough... In any case, Sovereignty, stand at attention."
"Eh? Okay, sorry, did I do something wrong...? Shiraho, please don't be mad..."
Sovereignty contracted his shoulders and timidly stood at attention. Shiraho then said:
"Not you, the doll!"
"Oh, I-I guess that makes sense~"
Sovereignty scratched his head and made the fake Haruaki "stand at attention." In any case, with Sovereignty present, sealing the fake's movements was totally easy. However—
"Umm... Regarding the reset switch, I haven't been able to find it anywhere on his body."
Pouting, Konoha informed Shiraho. It was due to that piece of information that she had to suffer through all that. Offering herself to prevent the fake from escaping, enduring the shame and humiliation of having her navel played with while desperately searching his body.
"Hmph, if you were searching for the switch, you should've said so earlier. I was thinking that Cow Tits had finally fallen into the dark side of shamelessness... Because you lifted your clothes by your own will, that's absolutely abnormal in the head!"
"I was totally unable to explain given the circumstances at the time! Speaking of which, you two clearly did not notice what I was signaling with my eyes, how dare you say that..."
"Well, hmm—Konoha-kun, I'm truly sorry. Because the situation then was absolutely ridiculous, even my mind was not working properly."
Fear puffed out her chest arrogantly while Kirika replied apologetically. Then Shiraho tilted her head in puzzlement.
"No switch? Really?"
"Hmph... Although I don't really think that man lied... Then what exactly is going on?"
Seriously, for what did I put in so much effort—Konoha sighed deeply inside her mind.
It was unknown whether the information was faulty or some other reason, but since the reset switch could not be pressed—Their only choice was to keep the doll immobilized by maintaining the current situation, then wait for forty-eight hours to pass. The doll might still escape if they used handcuffs or rope to bind him, so Sovereignty must be asked to stay with them for now...
"Whatever, let's put that aside for now."
Just as Konoha was thinking over these matters, Shiraho walked towards the fake Haruaki. Arms crossed, she stood right in front of the fake Haruaki. Probably because Sovereignty was controlling his expression as well, the fake Haruaki could only stare blankly at Shiraho.
"Shiraho-san? What are you doing..."
"Yes, don't mind me. I just remembered something I ought to do."
"Ought to do... What's that, Shiraho?"
"It's very simple. Indeed, exceedingly simple."
Shiraho glanced slightly at everyone. Her expression made them all tremble, their backs shuddering from instinctive fear.
Because she was smiling tenderly.
Next, Shiraho took a step towards the fake Haruaki with her left foot.
On the other hand, her right foot pulled back like firing an arrow—
"Indeed, although it's something so simple that I believe there's no need to explain... To this thing that had touched, groped and hugged my Sovereignty, I've only punished him with nothing more than a strike with a metal bat! Hence, in any case—for a perverted man's perverted behavior, in order to vent the greater amounts of wrath in my heart, I will punish him like this!"
Then her right foot shot forward to deliver a powerful kick. Like a female soccer player taking a free kick, Shiraho's foot flew forward at a perfect angle—
Thud! Accompanied by a dull sound, she struck the target.
Using the soccer analogy, a very correct location was struck precisely.
In other words, she struck the surface of a spot bearing resemblance to a ball's shape.
"Eeek—!? Haruaki-kun...!? Oh, there's probably no need to worry, but this sight is still very worrying!"
"Muu, this attack must hurt a lot."
"I-It sounds very painful. Although it's absolutely ridiculous, it's probably more painful than we can imagine..."
"I understand, I understand very well... S-Shiraho has turned into a violent superhero—!"
"Fufu—fufufufufu! Ufufufufu! Oh?"
Shiraho suddenly cocked her head. Konoha and everyone else also watched the scene.
Due to the kick's impact, the fake Haruaki's body had floated up slightly then fallen down on the storeroom's floor.
Next, his body began to twist and transform. His clothing gradually stuck to his body, fading in color and his skin's texture changed.
Several seconds later, left on the its original location was—
A child-sized doll that resembled a wooden mannequin.
The whole group exchanged looks with one another speechlessly. Why did it suddenly return to its original form? After moments of thought, Konoha came to a realization.
"Oh, could it be that... the reset switch isn't in a place that can be pressed normally, but instead somwhere inside the body that cannot be touched unless you give it a violent impact like what Shiraho-san did just now...?"
"I-I see. Indeed, if the reset switch were located somewhere easily accessible, after transforming, the doll might bump into it by accident and return immediately to its original form."
"Muu~ This girl Shiraho, she must have figured out the answer, right?"
"As expected of Shiraho, that's amazing—! But how did you know that's the location? Was there any hint? Hey hey, hurry and tell us—"
Everyone looked at Shiraho.
Still showing fury on her face, she was looking down at the doll on the floor.
"Oh! Wait! Why did it change back? I'm still angry! I won't be happy until I kick the same spot two or three more times, and not just the lower body, I also want to do this to the upper body—"
The group slowly withdrew their gaze and exchanged glances.
Fear narrowed her eyes and nodded slowly.
"...Bollocks, looks like it was just coincidence."
A moment later, she burst out chuckling.
"Wait! Fear-chan... Ufufufu, don't say anymore, your description is way too conservative. I can't hold it anymore. Ahaheeha!" Sovereignty suddenly collapsed on the spot, shuddering all over, rolling with laughter.
Fear's face was filled with surprise. As though infected by Sovereignty, Kirika went "mmph!" and covered her mouth as though remembering something, turning her face away to snicker secretly. On the other hand, Konoha dryly gave a stiff laugh, sighing deeply as though feeling exhausted from the bottom of her heart—
How should one put it? In all sorts of ways, it was inexplicably difficult to feel relieved.
But in any case, with this, the extremely chaotic incident finally came to an end.
On the way home, the sun was about to set.
Fear, Konoha and Kirika were pushing a trunk while making their way back. Naturally, inside the trunk was the fake Haruaki who had already turned back into an ordinary doll. The trunk itself was something that Sovereignty had found and taken from the superintendent's office on her own accord. Due to an inexplicably cute sticker affixed on top, it could very well be Zenon's personal belonging. They must make sure it was returned properly afterwards.
While these thoughts ran through Fear's mind, she looked down at the trunk and murmured:
"Anyway... this turns out to be quite a powerful cursed tool."
"Yes. Possessing the ability to transform correctly as well as functions to obey human thought to carry out orders... Thank goodness it was retrieved before someone misused it, I must say. On the other hand, it's also true that we've suffered absolutely ridiculously as a result."
"I second that. But speaking of which, I do feel that he could turn into an extremely useful tool depending on different methods of usage..."
Hearing Konoha say that, Fear went "Hmm" and imagined slightly. She had a point. This time, the whole incident started with Shiraho when she activated the doll with the combination of Haruaki plus perversion, which was how the whole chaotic affair resulted, although for some unknown reason, the navel fetish element was later added. Perhaps without their knowledge, the fake Haruaki had done something or encountered someone, but there was no way of finding out now. All they could do was pray that the victim would not view Haruaki as a criminal and report him to the police.
In any case, the key to this tool was the moment of activation in the beginning. So long as they issued serious and legitimate orders instead of perverted ones like this time, it would be fine. So long as they imagined a Haruaki doing other things. For example...
"That's right, if I activate him while imagining the shameless brat baking rice crackers for me nonstop... Nuho, I'll be able to eat piping hot, fluffy, crunchy, freshly baked, handmade rice crackers any time I want!"
"A Haruaki-kun who only sleeps... That alone seems to allow for wonderful things already... Like sunbathing together, and... and...! Ehehehe."
"Showing that clueless face as usual, something like the Yachi who only smiles... No, that guy is not bad either when he's cooking. Then I can steal his special recipes or cook together—Of course, it has to take place at my home. In that room, just the two of us, dressed in aprons, standing together in the kitchen. A-Absolutely ridiculous. This really is absolutely ridiculous..."
"Gufufufu." The three girls all made snickering sounds while realizing with surprise as they each noticed the other two girls' expressions. Although not to the extent of knowing what others were murmuring about or thinking about—But the imagined things in their minds were probably not that different from her own, Fear thought to herself.
...I won't let anyone get ahead of me.
Fear, Konoha and Kirika exchanged glances silently for quite a while, as though probing one another's thoughts. Then someone started with a nod, breaking the silence with polite smiles and stiff voices as though trying to cover up something, thereby restarting the conversation between them.
"Ha—uhaha. H-However, this is a cursed tool after all, no matter how useful it is, it shouldn't be used!"
"Yes, using it is not acceptable! I suppose it must be sealed away and locked up securely!"
"Th-That's right! Not letting anyone use it, waiting for its curse to lift, that's the best solution!"
The trio nodded repeatedly in agreement, tacitly establishing a three-way pact of non-aggression regarding this doll. Peace definitely originated from everyone taking a step back each. In other words, to these girls, this was akin to disbanding the military and nuclear disarmament. Probably.
While chatting, the group returned to the Yachi residence.
Opening the front door, they found the aroma of what was probably dinner's miso soup wafting gently into their nostrils. Naturally, this aroma was not the only thing greeting them—
"Oh, welcome home! Eh? I can understand that Fear went to supplementary lessons, but why are you in uniform as well, Konoha? Did you go to school? Oh right, Class Rep, welcome—Even you're in uniform as well? Eh? Is today really Sunday? Did I remember wrong?"
"Hmm~?" Haruaki cocked his head in puzzlement. A harmless and gentle face. Despite clearly being a boy, the apron suited him very well. The dinner aroma drifting from the kitchen. Although these details were so commonplace, they instilled a surge of warm comfort in people's hearts.
The trio secretly exchanged glances and laughed at the same time.
"Haha, what a totally laid back guy."
"Now that's the real person, totally genuine."
"It's Haruaki-kun as always. Just as expected, this Haruaki-kun is still the best."
Fear could not help but think, although the fake was too shameless at the start which was troubling, if Haruaki were to become like the fake's final state, completely uninterested in or repelled by shameless things, that would be hard to handle as well. So ultimately, his usual self was the best.
"Hmm, the Haruaki who normally engages in a suitable level of shameless behavior is just right. However—Don't you get the wrong idea. Although I may say that, it doesn't mean that I permit you to do shameless things! It's just that suitably shameless behavior can be resisted with suitable punishment, that's the only reason why I'm saying this! If you engage in excessively shameless behavior, prepare yourself for harsh punishment far beyond what you can imagine! However, umm, I think Shiraho's type of punishment is definitely going too far!"
Fear pointed a finger straight at Haruaki as she spoke.
Konoha and Kirika also seemed to be going "well said" in agreement, their shoulders shaking with giggling.
"Huh~? What are you suddenly talking about? I'm totally lost here!"
Hence, still totally unaware of what had happened throughout the course of today, Haruaki inclined his head in puzzlement, showing an almost unprecedented expression of perplexity that one could not help but wonder if the imposter was able to imitate successfully or not.
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