Chapter 6 - A Certain Encountered Deathmatch
—This story happened some time ago in the past.
The kitchen on one evening.
He was speaking in a slightly annoyed voice he had recently been using quite frequently.
"Help me bring the onions over from that side, Kono-nee."
"Ah yes—Umm, this saury is quite plump. It looks like it'll be very delicious."
"...Because it's currently during the height of autumn, of course it'll be delicious. On the other hand, it's just Pops returning. Is there any need to cook up such a feast to welcome him back? Besides, you don't need to help out in the kitchen, Kono-nee."
Haruaki used the kitchen knife while speaking in a nagging manner. Standing beside him, keeping an eye on the roasting saury's progress, Konoha smiled as she looked at Haruaki's profile and said:
"It's so rare for Honatsu-san to return, what's so bad about making a feast to welcome him back? Besides, didn't he say on the phone he'd also bring a souvenir back? Just think of this as a return gift."
"I don't want any souvenir at all. Surely, it's not going to be anything amazing."
"W-Well~ I agree too... But then, it's been quite a while since the last time I cooked together with you, Haruaki-kun, so it's quite delightful. I entered the kitchen voluntarily, so please allow me to help you."
"It can't be that fun to be cooking together with me..."
Haruaki looked down at the cutting board while speaking without facing Konoha. Although it saddened her, this behavior of his was also quite frequent lately.
At this moment, the doorbell rang from the main entrance. Looking at the time, it was probably the return of Haruaki's father whom they were discussing. Away from home for extended periods of time, pressing the doorbell when returning had already become something like a habit for him. It seemed to be a little ritual for differentiation in mood.
"...Kono-nee, you go open the door."
"No, I believe it's best if you opened it. A father would definitely be happy to find his son welcoming him at the door. As for the cooking, let me tend to it in your stead for now."
Konoha waited there after saying that. Suddenly, a great noise was heard from the cutting board that was being used for chopping vegetables.
Haruaki put down the kitchen knife as though giving up and walked out of the kitchen.
Konoha sighed while watching him leave, thinking "Is this what they call a rebellious phase~?" Haruaki had started middle school half a year ago. Although Konoha only learnt about the term from books and television, now was probably about time for him to enter that phase. An age when self-awareness bloomed and a desire for independence awakened. It had already been several years since she first met him in this home. He had grown much taller and could not be compared to back then. In other words, both his body and mind were developing, right?
(Indeed, it was perfectly natural for humans to grow up and mature through a development process. Rather, this type of situation was not bad at all... Yes. But I'll be counting my blessings so long as he doesn't swear, get mad or say "You're so annoying!" to me like what they show on television. Ahhh, even so... It's still a bit sad...)
Konoha sighed a second time. Checking the saury's roasting progress again, she took up the kitchen knife and chopped vegetables for him. Back when she first arrived, she did not know anything, but now, even the kitchen knife was something she could wield with ease—But on occasion, when making breakfast, she would still end up almost cutting her hand due to being half asleep.
"This is what's meant by time being the solution to all problems, right..."
She murmured. In fact, she understood quite well that all she could do was wait for time to pass. Trying too hard to take care of him could end up counterproductive—It could very well breed annoyance or resentment within him. Precisely because of that, she was keeping her distance slightly, suppressing her desire to cook together in the kitchen like this every day. She would enjoy this simple pleasure again once he went through this rebellious phase. Indeed, once he started going to high school, she could deliver meat and potato stew for him or cook together like this. Eventually one day, I won't have to live in the accessory dwelling anymore, instead sharing the same roof using other reasons. After that, after that...!
"Ufu, ufufufu... W-Why am I laughing nonstop on my own in such a silly manner? That'll make me nothing more than a dangerous person."
Konoha shook her head hard then returned to her task of cutting up the onions.
No matter what, all she could do was endure. Of course, the current sibling relationship was not bad either, but one day, he was going to grow up to be an amazing man. Definitely. So for the sake of that day and for the sake of the day when she would no longer be his elder sister, she must maintain this distance at arm's length—Watching over him while he matured in a wholesome manner. Ahhh~ There were so many things to pay attention to, such as whether he was studying hard? Was he making bad friends? Did he desire antisocial behavior like smoking? Also... Was he developing indecent and impure relations with the opposite gender...!?
(No, if he were completely uninterested in girls, it'd be dangerous also in a different sense. Being interested is only natural... Besides, the one closest to him is me. It's almost about time for him to start peeking when I'm changing. But if it actually happened for real, it'd be troubling. Anyway, I'll just put that thought aside for now. In any case, I must be vigilant to make sure Haruaki-kun doesn't get seduced by bad girls. My most important mission is to prevent impure and immoral behavior...!)
Konoha renewed her determination while nodding in sync with the chopping sounds on the cutting board. Suddenly she wondered why Haruaki had not returned yet and listened carefully—
From the entryway came the sounds of an agitated voice as well as laughter of someone who did not mind that tone of voice, followed by the sound of the main door closing. Next came several seconds of silence. A patter of footsteps approached the kitchen.
"K-Kono-nee! What a disaster!"
"What's the matter—Haruaki-kun? Oh I know. Is the souvenir so amazing that it completely overturned your expectations?"
"No, that's no what I mean... Or maybe it does count... A-Anyway, it's terrible, okay!?"
His anxious voice came from behind again. How odd? To be honest, what could be so serious?
Feeling intrigued, Konoha looked back. In the next second, the kitchen knife slid and fell out of her hand.
Of course, Haruaki was standing before her eyes with a most displeased look.
"Just as you can see, Pops' souvenir is—"
While pointing at the entity behind him, he spoke shocking words.
"—I can't believe he brought a child home."
Standing there was a young girl with long, sleek, black hair.
Expressionless, no emotions could be seen on her face. On her petite body, her petite head nodded slightly. Then in an extremely vague tone of voice, she said:
"...I'm Ningyouhara Kuroe. Nice to meet you."
In any case, Konoha decided to ask about the details while having dinner in the living room. After handing this "souvenir" over to Haruaki, Honatsu had apparently gone off to travel to somewhere else—Hence, having prepared food for three people ended up being just right in a certain sense.
"I think I understand the basic situation now. Simply stated, I'll just treat it as having a new junior, right?"
"Speaking of which, that Pops always does things so suddenly, every single time..."
Past Haruaki's sighing face, Konoha took a secret glance at the girl who was sipping tea after dinner—Kuroe.
The first impression she gave off was a girl that was difficult to read. Expressionless, it was impossible to tell what she was thinking inside. Even when spoken to, she did not smile, to the point of seeming like she was keeping people at a distance... However, she did answer quietly. Konoha decided to treat her behavior as shyness for now.
Although Konoha still did not quite get Kuroe's personality, at least she was able to gain a full understanding of the situation through the current conversation. Kuroe was here due to being a cursed doll. Her goal was the same as Konoha's—to lift her curse. Namely, by doing things beneficial for humans to neutralize the negative thoughts and feelings branded on her being, even including getting used to the human world and becoming more human. Same, it was completely the same.
Calling her a junior was completely right. Hence, seeing as she was shy, Konoha hoped to break the ice between them sooner. However—
"Uh... Well then, let's get along together from now on, Kuroe-san. I'll show you to your room later. My room is just next door. If there's anything you're not sure of, please feel free to ask me any time."
Although Konoha smiled while speaking to her, Kuroe remained expressionless as always. Without even putting on a smile of courtesy, she simply fluttered her eyes once—
"...Thank you. Let's get along... Muramasa-san."
She had given quite a displeasing response, although one could hardly blame her for that.
"Cough cough—Could you please call me Konoha? I don't quite like my family name."
"Really? Then lemme call ya Konoha-san..."
Although Konoha still found Kuroe acting reserved, impatience would not help. Hence, she brought up a different topic for a change of mood.
"Oh, you speak using a dialect?"
"No, of course it's allowed. It's also very cute. But, uh—Rather, I'm just very interested in where you were staying before coming here."
"Before coming here..."
Kuroe placed her teacup on the table. Still sitting formally in seiza, she looked up slightly and stared blankly at the ceiling. After a short while, she narrowed her eyes as though recalling something—
"Before this, I was at the home of a certain old man who lived very very far away from this place. That man loved me like a granddaughter. Because I am a doll, he treated me by playing with me in that way."
Konoha regretted picking the wrong topic. However, Kuroe did not stop speaking calmly, leaving no chance for Konoha to interject.
"Every day went by for me completely the same. Time seemed to stand still. However, time did not actually stop. I cursed my owner and had no choice but to curse him. Every night, I absorbed life force from my owner's body, causing him to deteriorate in health—"
Wah! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Abrupt laughter suddenly filled the living room, causing Kuroe to stop talking. The television had switched on. Putting the remote on the table, Haruaki, who had been silent all this time, said impatiently:
"...Oh, sorry. I happen to have a TV show I wanted to watch."
"Yes—Anyway, that's pretty much it."
"I-I see, I basically understand now. Thank you for the explanation, Kuroe-san."
After listening to Kuroe, Konoha breathed a sigh of relief. Glancing at Haruaki's profile, she thought to herself again, "what a considerate child." This made her feel quite happy.
A few minutes later, the three of them were still silently watching a comedy show. But when the commercial break came, Haruaki suddenly stood up, looked over at Konoha and said:
"By the way, the corridor lightbulb looks like it's reaching the end of its life. I want it replaced before I forget—Kono-nee, could you help me out? I can't reach it."
"Eh? ...Oh okay. Kuroe-san, no need to get up, please sit here for as long as you like."
No response. She simply stared at the television without saying a word. Seeing her like this, Konoha really did not feel like leaving Kuroe alone, but still, she followed Haruaki to the corridor. At a spot some distance away from the living room—
"Okay, you wanted to tell me something, right? Because the corridor lightbulb was replaced not too long ago."
"Ah... I don't really know if I should say this or not..."
Haruaki stopped walking and turned to face Konoha again, scratching his head awkwardly. While searching for the right words, he continued:
"Actually, it's nothing major, really."
"That girl, umm... How should I put this...? Isn't she... quite gloomy? That's quite worrying since we have to live under the same roof from now on... No, uh—it's hard for me to get along with her. It'd be great if she could get used to this home sooner."
Konoha smiled spontaneously. She knew roughly what Haruaki was trying to express but she did not want to interrupt him. This was because she hoped to lengthen this gentle time of contact with him.
"So... Kono-nee, I'm relying on you regarding that girl. You're both girls, so it's definitely easier to talk compared to me. Umm... I hope you'll do your best to get along in harmony with her..."
"Very well, I understand."
Konoha answered immediately. This was only natural.
Because he was asking her for help, there was nothing more gratifying than that.
"It goes without saying, right? I will try everything I can to make friends with her. Leave it to me."
"R-Really? Then I'm relieved... No, don't get the wrong idea, Kono-nee! I don't feel anything special about that girl, it's just that if the mood at home gets bad, life will be difficult for me!"
"Yes yes yes, I get it. Ufufu."
"W-Why are you laughing?"
"Eh? I was born like this, because 'always facing others gently with a smile' is my personal motto. Very well, let's get back now that the conversation is over. The commercial break is about to end. You really wanted to watch that show, right? Ufufu."
"O-Okay. You're still laughing, what's the matter..."
"I was born this way."
With a displeased expression, he returned to the living room, trudging with slow and heavy steps.
Naturally, his attitude only served to make Konoha smile even more.
Back to the living room, Kuroe was still staring at the television in exactly the same posture as before. Konoha sat down together with Haruaki and spoke to Kuroe in a relaxed tone of voice. Getting along harmoniously had to start with dialogue after all.
"Sorry for leaving you alone, we're done now... By the way, Kuroe-san, I just noticed. You don't need to sit so formally in seiza. Because this is basically your home now, it's fine if you wanna sit in a more relaxed posture."
"...Really? Then I'll sit in a more relaxed posture."
Kuroe still spoke expressionlessly. Next, she stood up with agility and skipped forward. Resting her back against the pillar that was nearby, she sat down again with her knees drawn up to her chest.
Instantly, Haruaki made a strange noise. Intrigued, Konoha looked at Haruaki to see him turning his head away with an unnatural look on his face. He was also deliberately avoiding Kuroe with his gaze. Tilting her head in puzzlement, Konoha wondered "How odd, what happened?" then she suddenly discovered the reason. From her position, she could not see from this angle, but since Kuroe was sitting in a skirt with her knees up, from Haruaki's perspective, there was nothing more—
—terrible than his angle.
This was absolutely a bad influence in his education!
"P-Please excuse my rudeness—!"
Konoha reached out as though performing a slide as a baserunner and rushed towards the tatami floor, pushing Kuroe's knees towards the side and forcing her to switch to sitting with her legs sideways. As Kuroe looked down with an expressionless "...?"—
"Although I said you could sit in a more relaxed posture, I would be happier if you paid a little more attention...!"
Kuroe cocked her head expressionlessly. Did she really not notice? Konoha glanced at Haruaki on the side who was still blushing and averting his gaze.
"Basically, if you sit like you were just now, how should I put this? Umm... Your p-p-pan..."
"Oh~ You mean panties?"
Without any feminine delicacy, Kuroe nodded in response while readily uttering that particular term. It looked like she finally understood what Konoha was trying to convey. However, she still said nonchalantly:
"...But it's fine. My panties won't be seen."
"H-How is that possible? Given the angle, from the front..."
As much as Konoha wanted to refute, she was interrupted by Kuroe's unbelievable words.
"Because my underwear is... a fundoshi."
A term transcending Konoha's comprehension. Hence, Konoha asked in return:
Konoha looked up at Kuroe's face, staring intently as Kuroe's lips moved seriously.
"FU. N. DO. SHI."
Strangely enough, even as Konoha watched Kuroe mouth the syllables one by one, she still heard the same term. Hence, Konoha asked again:
This time, she turned to look at Haruaki. Although Haruaki was still looking away, his head seemed to be nodding slightly.
In any case, Konoha did not dare ask again. Hence, she smiled and said:
"...Please excuse my rudeness."
In order to confirm the contradiction between her common sense and reality, Konoha simply lifted Kuroe's skirt to have a look.
Kuroe was not lying.
"Then here's the washroom. The tissue supply is kept on the top shelf here. It's okay to replace it on your own whenever it runs out."
"Then let's head over to the next destination. Uh—Here's an empty room... Oh, by the way, I'll need to bring the futon over to the accessory dwelling where you'll be living. The futons are kept in this room's cupboard. We'll come over here again just before we head over to the accessory dwelling."
Dozens of minutes later, Konoha was walking with Kuroe through the corridor, giving her a rough idea of the home environment. On the other hand, Haruaki had already returned to his room.
Konoha resolved to stop thinking about the matter just now. It was just ordinary underwear, just ordinary underwear! Do not discriminate others just because of something like that, it's so trivial it's not anything worth getting bothered about at all.
"So anyway... That used to be something very commonplace, there's really no reason to be concerned about it at all..."
"Are you talking about my underwear, Konoha-san?"
"Wah, d-did I say it out loud?"
Kuroe nodded. Konoha was originally planning to play dumb... But perhaps this was actually a good opportunity instead since she was currently at the stage of trying to find conversation topics. Perhaps by starting with an unexpected topic, this could be the chance to establish better relations. After all, Haruaki had asked her to become good friends with Kuroe, so as long as there was any opportunity to improve their friendship, Konoha was going to take the challenge—
"Uh—Well, you're right. I did feel a bit surprised, but on further thought, there's nothing unusual about it. For example, I used to wear it too in the past... If I tried to search seriously, I might actually find one in a corner of my room somewhere. That's because I have a bad habit of being reluctant to throw old clothing away..."
"You cherish things."
"Y-Yeah, I guess I was born with a bit of a pauper's mentality."
Konoha was a little pleased that the conversation could continue. At this moment, the fact that the topic was on fundoshi did not matter.
"So... This is purely my personal curiosity, so I just want to ask. Kuroe-san, why do you wear fundoshi instead of panties? Do you insist on it as your personal choice?"
"Should I call it personal choice...? Simply because of this."
While she was saying that, at the same time—
Konoha felt a surprising touch on her bottom.
Not only that, it was also performed with two hands, groping mercilessly.
Groping left, groping right.
Konoha frowned and looked back, thinking "What are you doing brainlessly? No matter how tolerant, anyone would blow up in this kind of situation, right?" However, standing behind her, Kuroe continued to reach forward with both hands, posture unchanged—
She was even tilting her head in puzzlement. No, wait. Don't get angry, we must become good friends. Because it's his request. That's right, she must have other reasons for doing this—Hence, Kuroe forced a courteous smile and said:
"W-What are you doing?"
"...I wanted to explain the reason for wearing a fundoshi. Fundoshi has an effect of firming butts and preventing them from sagging. Wearing them works in beautifying the butt, so that's why I'm wearing it."
"I-I see... But then again, why are you groping my butt..."
"No, by the time I wanted to explain I was already very conc—Nothing."
"Why are you breaking off your sentence so unnaturally, i-impossible?"
Kuroe cast her gaze to the side. Konoha frantically reached to feel her round bottom. She could not feel it herself. Although she could not feel it, was it actually sagging? Which was why Kuroe spontaneously reached out to touch and confirm? Although Konoha had been self-conscious about her butt seeming a bit large since a long time ago, but no way...!
"I've no right to say anything, but I believe that you'll look great in a fundoshi, Konoha-san... Rather, it might be very dangerous if you don't wear one."
"You whispered something quietly just now! R-Really? It'll be very dangerous? Seriously?"
"I didn't say anything, but..."
Kuroe's gaze was originally turned away but now shifted back slowly.
She remained expressionless as usual, except when saying those words directly, she seemed to add some slightly pleading emotion—
"But... If you wear the same underwear as me, Konoha-san, I might feel a bit happy about it."
Very well, I'll consider it.
For the sake of becoming friends with her.
Also, due to the secret worry that just started.
At this point, what would be the most effective solution?
The next day, it was Sunday morning.
Haruaki seemed to be staying in his room, studying or something. Having obtained his permission, Konoha intended to clean up the main residence together with Kuroe. This was also to help her get used to the home sooner.
"Mmmhmm... E-Excuse me. Kuroe-san, do you have experience in cleaning?"
"R-Really? Then there shouldn't be anything I need to teach you in particular, right? I'll be responsible for the corridor, Kuroe-san, so why don't you start cleaning up the living room."
Kuroe obediently entered the living room. Konoha twisted her hips awkwardly as she walked in the corridor, sweeping the floorboards with a broom.
(I-It still feels weird. I think... I should give up on this...)
Her lower body felt a little exposed although one part was extremely tight. Under her skirt, a normally covered part was coming into contact with the outside air while another part was wrapped up more tightly than usual.
"Ah, what a large piece of trash... Wah...!"
When bending over to pick up trash, her exposed buttocks were rubbing against her skirt's fabric, resulting in an unexpected sensation. Konoha was not sure if it was a ticklish feeling or embarrassment due to the sense of vulnerability... No, that's not right. I shouldn't feel ashamed. This is simply the traditional fundoshi. It's just a fundoshi I easily found in my room. In order to improve my figure, thinking "I'll just try it for a day..." There's nothing wrong with this at all. Furthermore, regarding this underwear, I even told her discreetly that "...we're wearing the same thing" and she seemed a little happy. In order to improve our relations, this is a very effective measure.
The sense of vulnerability suddenly hit her again when she least expected. Nevertheless, Konoha endured, twisting her body as she continued sweeping. Since Haruaki was most likely studying in his room, she took particular care to be more quiet outside his room. After sweeping the area in front of Haruaki's room and just as she was about to walk through the corridor again, Konoha sensed a strange and subtle feeling. Like an insect flying through the air—Air flowing, a mild turbulence. During the instant when she was feeling intrigued—
Konoha felt something entangle her ankle, causing her to fall over forwards in the corridor. If walking normally, she would have been able to protect herself while breaking her fall, but today, she was preoccupied with sweeping and her lower body sensations. Although her face did not strike the floor of the corridor directly, the impact on her bosom from her own body weight hurt quite a bit.
Still lying on the floor, Konoha turned to look back. In that instant, she felt like she saw something like a black string suddenly vanish around the corridor's corner—But she decided to ignore that for now. Because she saw something even more important, or rather, her eyes met with the other person's.
"That should be my line, Kono-nee...! W-Why are you...?"
Perhaps on his way to the washroom, Haruaki just happened to come out from his room. With eyes filled with fear, he was looking straight towards her, looking at Konoha on the floor, skirt lifted up, thighs exposed, even the special underwear she was wearing—And because of that underwear's design, her completely exposed buttocks.
He gulped hard. Licking his lips several times as though unsure whether he should ask, he quietly turned his gaze aside and said:
"Kono-nee... Why are you wearing... a fundo—"
"Please stop talking—! Th-This, uh—Just pretend you never saw it!"
Later on, Konoha returned to the living room.
Having finished cleaning, Kuroe was sitting blankly on the tatami floor, writing something in a notebook in her hand. After noticing Konoha's return, she casually placed the notebook into her pocket.
"...Welcome back. This side's all cleaned up now."
"I-Is that so... I'd like to ask you something. Have you been staying here all this time?"
Still expressionless, Kuroe answered calmly without anything strange in her behavior. Hence, Konoha wondered in head-tilted puzzlement, "Am I getting old, falling over in a place without any obstacles?"—And as luck would have it, right in full view of Haruaki. She had no choice but to blame her own poor fortune.
After lunch, it was afternoon.
Konoha did not know if Haruaki intended to leave Kuroe to her for now, but he was shutting himself in his room again. Although it felt a bit lonely, it could not be helped.
Just as Konoha was wondering what to do next, Kuroe suddenly spoke emphatically in the middle of watching television:
"Life must be tough... for people with large boobs."
"E-Eh? Why are you suddenly talking about that? What do you mean, life must be tough... Although it is true that they do weigh quite substantially."
Kuroe's sleepy eyes turned to look at Konoha's bust.
"...Weight. In other words, the downward force of gravity. Even beings like us cannot ignore that physical law of nature. So bit by bit, bit by bit, it'll lower... and lower... Isn't that so?"
"H-Heeee~ P-Please don't say something so inauspicious, okay!? It'll be fine, probably."
The frightening word of "sagging" flashed across Konoha's mind again.
Next, Kuroe approached Konoha while maintaining a kneeling posture.
"May I help you confirm? Perhaps I can help."
"By confirm... You mean touching? Umm, I think that's quite embarrassing..."
"Don't worry, we're both girls. There's nothing to be concerned about."
She was not incorrect but the embarrassment was still real. However—This was a skinship opportunity she was proposing on her own initiative. Skinship, that was a word meaning the improvement of mutual relations, right? Perhaps by casting her shame away in trying to wear a fundoshi, some progress had been made. In that case, this chance must not be missed, to further improve their relations—Konoha instantly concluded.
"G-Got it. Well then, umm—Please be gentle."
"You can count on me."
Kuroe reached directly forward to touch Konoha's breasts. Her movements were very light, very light, like trying to use her tiny hands to cover them, as though confirming that smooth curvature.
"Hmm... W-What do you think?"
"Oh, this—maybe... a little worrying..."
"W-What do you mean by a little worrying? Impossible... umm... sagging...!"
"Relax. I know a massage technique that can adjust the shape. Like this."
The movements of her hands became slightly different. Not just touching gently but also applying some force on occasion. Pushing the two bulges closer and lifting up, then shaking her fingertips... Was what Konoha expected, but Kuroe proceeded to make them jump in her palms—
"Hmm... Does this really... work...?"
"Of course it works. My past owner was an expert in massages and taught me many techniques... Ahhh, I believe that if you could learn to massage yourself, Konoha-san, that'll be even better. Lemme teach you and you can try it out."
Grabbing Konoha's wrists, Kuroe overlapped their hands together to slowly move Konoha's palms.
"Like this, massaging inwards in a spiral motion. Yes yes yes, excellent. Then I'll release my hands now and you can try on your own... See, isn't your body beginning to feel warm? It means that the fat is shifting slightly, you're massaging quite well."
"Although I don't quite understand... Hmm, like... this?"
"Yes. You don't need to answer me. Just concentrate, close your eyes and imagine. Once you become familiar with the massaging, you can apply more force, focus on imagining... Massaging...!"
"O-Okay. Here I go—"
"Hmm... Guh... How's that? Like this... Am I getting the hang of it...?"
"Please watch carefully and tell me if I'm doing it wrong... Is pressing like this okay? Or would it be better if I do it more like this...?"
Konoha suddenly realized there had been no response for a while and opened her eyes.
Kuroe was not present in the living room. Instead, someone else was watching.
Feeling her entire body go stiff, Konoha wondered, if someone saw what she was doing without knowing the full story—What would they think?
To be frank, she had put a lot of effort into massaging. She also followed Kuroe's instructions and concentrated, putting effort into massaging to make the shape prettier. With her eyes closed, both hands firmly pressed against her breasts, she had massaged singlemindedly with full effort.
But her behavior—
Had been witnessed by Haruaki who had started standing at the living room doorway at some point in time.
"Wah! Y-You've misunderstood, this is... simply a massage!"
"D-Don't you worry! I didn't see anything! Honestly, so... Umm—Sorry!"
Haruaki ran away and Konoha could immediately hear the paper door to his room sliding shut. Then just as the thought of "to think that he would happen to see that embarrassing scene" crossed her mind and she collapsed onto her hands against the tatami floor in dejection, Konoha saw that Kuroe had somehow reappeared. She was sitting in seiza by the table, writing something in her notebook again and nodding lightly to herself.
"Kuroe...san, where were you... just now...?"
Expressionlessly, she shut the notebook and pointed to the tray on the table.
"I saw you were sweating, Konoha-san, and thought you needed a cold drink. But opening the fridge on my own felt a bit impolite but I didn't want to disturb you either, Konoha-san, so I went over to call the boy and ask him what I should do."
Hearing Kuroe's explanation, many feelings of dissonance surfaced in Konoha's mind.
Calling him over on purpose? So that was why he happen to witness the scene. This was almost as though it was calculated for him to see. Besides, whether that type of massaging was actually effective... However~ Konoha could only blame herself for listening to Kuroe so easily. And what was she writing in that notebook? How suspicious. There must be something suspicious inside.
But at this moment, Konoha deliberately stopped pondering and shook her head.
(No no no... I'm overthinking things. Suspecting someone without evidence would be far too impolite. Besides, that sort of thing can't be possible, right?)
Konoha wanted very much to become friends with her, so she should be able to sense that wish. Konoha could not recall doing anything to displease Kuroe. If she were playing a prank, she would not deliberately do something like this. So it must be coincidence. Everything was an unfortunate coincidence. Definitely beyond a doubt—
As much as Konoha tried to convince herself, she could not dispel that feeling of dissonance in her mind no matter what. Konoha kept staring at Kuroe, who tilted her head and said at this time:
"You're progressing rapidly with that massage so there's probably nothing more I can teach you. Also, I hope I didn't act out of line by bringing this out of goodwill."
"No... Nothing of that sort. Thank you very much..."
Konoha found her own expression a bit stiff but still tried hard to return a smile as she accepted the barley tea from the tray.
However, Kuroe's eyes remained emotionless.
For some reason, looking into her eyes gave Konoha a feeling like she was being treated as a laboratory animal—In other words, like being observed in secret, hence there was a strange sense of discomfort.
Late that night, when all was quiet, Konoha was lying in bed in her own room.
While sighing, Konoha also closed the paperback she was reading in bed. She was not registering any of the content at all. Looking at the clock, she discovered it was already considered late night. Back in the main residence, he was probably asleep already?
"Ah... I should get ready for a bath..."
Konoha slowly stood up and started to fill the tub in the adjoined bathroom. Watching the hot water pour and splash, Konoha sighed again.
Naturally, her mind was occupied with Kuroe. Konoha really wanted to trust her. But despite wanting to trust her, there was still a sense of dissonance. Fundoshi, falling over at a seemingly calculated moment and even witnessed by him. Breast massage. Then his appearance at a seemingly calculated time, also happening to witness the sight.
"If it were not coincidence... Then sure enough, that child deliberately planned it all as a prank...?"
If that were the case, then her intentions were unknown. Konoha had already reflected deeply a number of times, concluding that she should not have offended Kuroe in some way. Besides, neither of them knew each other well enough to foster dislike. In that case, why was she playing such pranks—
At this moment, Konoha suddenly realized something. Pranks were literally malicious games. In other words, playing a game. From the word "game," Konoha thought of one possibility.
(She doesn't know the "rules of the game"...?)
Konoha recalled Kuroe's calm voice when she recounted her past residence.
Hence, Konoha wondered if it was really like that.
I can easily tell just by reminiscing about my own past self.. Before coming to this home, we all existed to curse someone. We did not have the leisure to cultivate an interest in games. Plus the fact that she's a doll—speaking of which, rather than "an existence that played," she would be "an existence others played with" instead. Hence, it would be as she mentioned at that time.
(So, starting yesterday, Haruaki-kun, who cannot be cursed, became her owner. It's the first time for her to obtain freedom, but suddenly confronted with such a situation, she might be a loss as to how to exercise that freedom...)
That was a possible explanation. But come to think of it, there was no definite evidence that could prove that she was playing pranks intentionally. Even if there was evidence, in light of Haruaki-kun asking me to be friends with her, I can't get angry at her or get into an argument—
Agonizing repeatedly over the same problem, Konoha felt quite stifled.
Reaching into the half-filled bathtub, Konoha began to stir nonstop. However, this did not succeed in dispelling the stress in her heart. Whatever, I'll just go to sleep immediately after a bath and figure the rest out tomorrow. That's right, worrying like this won't help anything. Rather, relaxing my mood might perhaps allow me to think of a good solution. Let me have a good soak in the bath and stop wearing this tightly wrapped fundoshi (I just find myself weird this morning) and switch to the panties I wear normally. The mornings have been getting cold recently, so let me add another blanket to keep myself warm during sleep—
(Oh, by the way, I still haven't taken the standby blanket to that child... I should go check on her and bring a blanket while I'm at it. It'd be troublesome if she caught a cold.)
Hence, Konoha shut off the hot water and went to find a blanket in the room's cupboard. She recalled that there was a slightly smaller blanket, different from the one she wanted for herself.
"Hmm~ For a petite child, this should be just right... I hope she's not asleep already."
Hence, holding the blanket, she left her room. Standing in the outdoor passageway, she huddled in the cold as she knocked lightly on Kuroe's room next door. She rubbed her cheeks to put on a natural smile while waiting for the door to open. However, there was no response so she knocked again.
"Kuroe-san, are you already asleep? I'm worried you might be cold so I've brought you another blanket."
There was still no response. What should she do? Hence, Konoha tried to turn the door handle—The door opened. What should she do? In any case, if Kuroe was asleep, then she would just leave the blanket beside her. That way, Kuroe could just pick it up and cover herself if she felt cold.
"I'll just enter for a moment..."
Konoha entered and closed the door lightly. Naturally, it was completely dark inside the room, but for a non-human like Konoha, that did not pose any hindrance. This room, the size of six tatami mats, yet to be completely furnished, was bare, of course. While thinking "despite having the same internal layout as my room, the feeling is quite different" to herself, Konoha walked over to Kuroe's futon in the center of the room—
The blanket, originally held in her arms, fell to the floor.
The futon was like an empty and discarded shell.
Furthermore, the girl who was supposed to be sleeping inside, had run off somewhere currently—
However, Konoha instinctively deduced the answer.
Feeling a weight on top of his body, Haruaki woke up. Reluctant to leave his sweet dreams, he opened his sleepy eyes. But instantly, his consciousness became wide awake.
Blue-white moonlight was shining into the slightly dim room. The image illuminated was that of a young girl, sitting astride his body, having pulled his blanket away—Ningyouhara Kuroe.
"Hi... Dear master."
She was smiling. Smiling she looked down towards him. This was the first smile she displayed ever since arriving at this home.
For some reason, it felt quite scary.
"Ah... Hmm... Umm, you don't really need to call me master or anything like that. No really, more importantly, this is my room, umm, anyway, please get down first—"
"Let's not worry over such trivial things."
She leaned her entire body forwards, bringing her face close. Her long hair was tickling his face and Haruaki could even feel the breaths she exhaled. Breathing so near, blowing at him. Logically speaking, pushing her away should be a simple task, but for some reason, his body could not move at all.
"Come play with me."
"P-Play with you...?"
Kuroe smiled even more radiantly and lightly shook her body. Once again, Haruaki felt that presence—the body weight of the petite girl sitting on top of him.
"That's right, let's play. Playing a very fun and pleasurable... game."
Haruaki heard his own throat making a loud noise in the room. Trembling while he spoke, Haruaki tried to cover up that sound.
"Th-That wouldn't be good... No."
"Why? Aren't you at an age when you want to play, master...?"
She did not avert her gaze. She did not move her watery eyes away.
"I'm the one who suggested playing, so there's no need for you to suppress yourself. There must be many games you've always wanted to play but were never able to, right? Right now, come with me and play those games together...!"
"H-Hold on! Wait up! Why... Why are you doing this?"
Answering the question he asked with great vexation was her whispers by his ear—Almost too soft to hear, but as though biting his ear lightly.
"The answer is simple... Because I only know how to play this type of game."
"Okay, no need to speak anymore. If you're scared, just leave everything to me... Let's play... A secret belonging only to the two of us... A game...!"
The two of them stared silently at each other for quite a number of seconds.
After a brief moment, Haruaki's fingers, clutching his blanket, twitched. Then his hand was slowly, slowly lifted up over the futon—
"—Vile wench, reveal thyself."
Just as the paper door was forcefully opened, Haruaki heard that voice at the same time.
That voice, sounding as though someone was suppressing the fury in their heart, yet so calm that it was frightening to the extreme—
Haruaki's entire body was frozen. Apart from that, there was nothing he could do.
Konoha was simply standing at the doorway. While pushing up her glasses, she smiled and stared at Kuroe who was straddling Haruaki's body that was lying down.
She was definitely mad indeed.
Haruaki did not know if Kuroe was aware of that, but still sitting on Haruaki's body, she said:
"What are you doing at the door? It's very cold outside."
"An utterly foolish question. Thou shalt say no more..."
Even her former manner of speech had returned. This was proof that she had already gone over her limit.
"I am prepared to instruct this foolish girl the rules she ought to obey in this residence... That wanton body shall be schooled directly! Thou shalt become warm in nary an instant, worry not! Kukuku!"
Consequently, a thought occurred to Haruaki.
He could only think of one thing.
This was the end.
Konoha and Kuroe were facing off in the garden beneath the moonlight. Haruaki was about to descend from the veranda to the garden but—
"Thou art dismissed. I shall deal with thee shortly after."
His legs stopped as though frozen by fear. After throwing a glance at him, the demon sword inhaled. As though deliberately showing off towards Kuroe before her, she curled her lips in a grin.
"What didst thou say? ...Hoping for us to become close friends? Very well. A request for me? Of course, enchanted to hear you out. A junior? Granted that is true, no mistake. Simply ignorant of the rules of the game? Understandable. Ahhh~ Of course I know. I should get along with thee in harmony. Be that as it may, allow me to inform thee—What do I care? Because thou hast erred in a manner I cannot tolerate."
As though responding to Konoha, Kuroe also curled her lips boldly.
"Lemme ask just in case. If I prostrate myself and beg for mercy right now, will you forgive me?"
"Kuhaha. Young girl, art thou attempting to kill me with laughter? Truth be told, that would be a shrewd plan..."
While emitting evil light from her pupils, Konoha lowered her stance slightly. Waving her karate chop lightly, she symbolically slashed the moon apart. Then approaching step by step, she said even more explosive words:
"—Thou reliest on nothing but tricks of that level to defeat me!?"
"If that really is my only choice, then I'll put more serious effort into making you laugh."
Faced with Konoha closing in, Kuroe swiftly retreated to distance herself. However, Konoha was charging as fast as the speed of her sword-drawing. Instantly, she rushed at Kuroe and chopped with her hand. When Kuroe bent forward to evade the attack, the laundry pole behind her was cleanly sliced into two.
"How now? Thou only fleest in desperation? Thy life shall be spared, thou wouldst do well to hold still!"
"No way, I don't really like the feeling of pain."
Just as Konoha was about to unleash a kicking move, as sharp as blades, towards Kuroe who had her knees bent—Kuroe's hair began to squirm. Many bundles of hardened hair rushed up towards Konoha from below, entangling her legs and waist like vines. The Japanese sword went "Hmm" and frowned. Immediately, Kuroe made the tips of her remaining hair as sharp as spears, sending them flying towards Konoha whose legs were immobilized. However—
"I... see... Ah—hah!"
Konoha bent over and twisted her limbs. Just as a sound of tearing fabric was heard, she performed a back flip. Jumping power, the swinging of her knife hand and the blade properties imbued in her thighs—By making full use of those three elements, she severed all of Kuroe's hair. Regaining her freedom, Konoha distanced herself a couple of steps more while facing off against Kuroe. Smiling proudly, she said:
"How interesting, such child's play. Not bad, not bad. Complete nonresistance would be too boring."
"...Just in case, let me remind you: it's completely exposed."
Still expressionless all this time, Kuroe was staring at Konoha's lower body. Due to struggling free by force, her skirt had already turned into numerous scraps of tattered cloth, scattered all over the garden. Konoha took a glance at her exposed lower half and stood firmly with her legs apart, as though making a display of her traditional underwear, scoffing as she spoke:
"The flesh feeleth tightly bound, making movements rather easy... Rather, a majority of my lifetime has been spent without undergarments. Nevertheless, that is neither here nor there."
"Rather than tight... I think it's more correct to say it's buried into the flesh."
"Another word of advice, this is the second time for the master behind you to get a full view of your fundoshi, buried into the flesh of your butt."
Konoha's eyebrow twitched. Then she took a step forward.
"...Thou darest to call him master, how unbearably infuriating. Naturally, I am filled with wrath for thy part in showing my embarrassment to him. Thou even goest as far as to offer thy body in an attempt to seduce him, it angereth me to the point of making me laugh. Ahhh, ultimately, all I can say is... How infuriating!"
"But it's absolutely true that he's my master. Why do you have to be so angry...? Hmm, could it be that... something like this? 'That person belongs to me alone, I won't allow you to approach him, you temptress!' That's the impression you're giving me—"
"—Silence, lowly swine!"
Konoha was exuding an even stronger aura of murderous intent. Legs exposed, Konoha kicked the ground and charged again. Kuroe did not resign herself to death. While moving, she attempted to distance herself while casually extending her hair. Konoha severed the entangling hair that flew like spears. Using a forward kick to open up a hole in the hair that was spread out like a net, she broke through. Using their various powers to approach and engage in battle, the two girls were locked in a struggle—
However, this could not last indefinitely. After all, a simple fact was enough to decide who held the upper hand.
Kuroe was a doll while Konoha was a sword. A toy and a weapon. An object created to soothe and heal people versus an object created to kill. The difference lay in their natural gap in capabilities.
Faced with Kuroe whose motions were gradually slowing down from fatigue, the cursed demon blade was accelerating instead. It was as though she had finally recalled her manner of movement dating back to the nostalgic battlefield.
The final conclusion arrived effortlessly as Konoha passed through Kuroe's extended hair and closed in on the enemy's position. Trying to evade, Kuroe stumbled. Consequently, Konoha sat her entire weight down on Kuroe who had lost balance and fallen over. Before Kuroe's hair could extend, Konoha's knife hand was already pointed towards the tip of her nose.
Wearing nothing but a fundoshi, Konoha's lower body displayed voluptuous and slender thighs. The illuminating moonlight seemed to be praising them by emphasizing the seductive qualities of their pristine paleness. Konoha's body shook as she laughed while saying:
"Very well... The delightful deathmatch hath ended. What more wouldst thou say? Thou shalt be screaming hereon, hence speak thy mind first."
"Sure enough, I lost huh... Hmm, I do have something to ask you."
Pinned to the ground, Kuroe's expression remained unchanged. Expressionlessly, she looked up at Konoha who was sitting astride her body.
"Uh—Simply stated, same question as previous. Why are you so angry—?"
Konoha twisted her expression with annoyance and pushed her knife hand forward a few centimeters.
"At death's door yet thy audacity remaineth...! Thou knowest not what thou hast done!? Thou toyest with me thus, finally sneaking into his bed, intending to engage in immoral behavior with him...!"
"So that's why you're angry?"
"Of course! Apart from that, what else is worth stoking mine anger!?"
"I... see... To be able to make you get seriously angry, this really means—"
Kuroe closed her eyes for an instant.
Then she continued, completely relaxed:
"As expected, you really do love that child."
"What of it!? I love him, so what...!"
Konoha frantically stopped herself halfway through as though saying "Oh no!" Then with an even more frightening gaze, she looked down at Kuroe who was pinned down under her.
Originally frowning, her brow relaxed.
Confounded, very confounded, Konoha looked down at Kuroe's expression.
She was smiling.
Displaying a truly innocent expression, Kuroe began to giggle.
"—Yes, all I wanted to her from you was that."
Konoha reacted sluggishly like a deflated ball. No longer expressionless, Kuroe frowned with an apologetic look and said:
"Uh—I don't know if apologizing now is too late, but as a matter of principle, let me say sorry to you—I've played many pranks, I apologize. I didn't do the things I did to trouble you or to insult you. Neither was I trying to seduce that child for real. So, I'm sorry."
Speechless, Konoha's mind was occupied with only one thought.
Then why did she do all that? What was her goal?"
Perhaps sensing that question, Kuroe smiled again.
Rather than giggling, she smiled very radiantly.
Then in a casual tone of voice, she said:
"No really—It's because I just arrived and wanted to get along with you, my senior, as quickly as possibly. Hence—You should already know, the fastest way to become close friends is probably through love stories, right?"
Konoha could only respond in an idiotic kind of voice. What was this child saying?
"D-Did you just mention love stories?"
"Wow, your manner of speaking is back to normal. I'm saved... Anyway, yes, love stories indeed. But I believed that you won't tell me the truth if I asked you suddenly, but I hoped to become good friends with you as quickly as possible—So I drew up plans for a special mission, namely the 'make you agitated through pranks and jealousy, so as to get an honest answer while you're in a raging rampage' plan. Although sounding quite lame, it succeeded, hip hip hurray—Clap clap clap clap."
Since Kuroe's arms were immobilized, she could only say clap with her voice. Konoha swayed unsteadily, feeling her strength drained. What? What was with this weird attitude? Where had the robotic, expressionless character gone off to?
"Until now... You've been pretending...?"
"Well, perhaps my acting skills were even more of a downer than usual. Apart from apologizing, let me take this opportunity to confess that I've lied about other things. Sorry. In my previous home, I served as a grandchild for a helpless old lady, playing with her and having a happy life. It's nothing like being 'ignorant of the rules of the game' that you just mentioned. This was actually a prank for the sake of my plan. It was quite fun too."
Feeling another wave of dizziness and fatigue, Konoha shook her head. At this moment, she discovered an object fallen beside Kuroe's cheek. It was the notebook that Kuroe had been writing who knows what inside. Coincidentally, it opened on a certain page, showing the words inside.
"...'Seeing the butt exposed by fundoshi: running away in panic. Seeing breast groping: running away in panic. Conclusion: an innocent youth, rare nowadays. Due to virtually the same reaction in both cases, impossible to tell if he's more into butts or boobs. More observation required'... W-What is this?"
"Uh—Not only you, but I also feel that it's necessary to build relations with that child. Hence... I'm simply collecting information about him. He really is a good boy."
Konoha sighed hard. She really could not understand what this junior of hers was thinking. Except—She already understood that Kuroe did not mean anything malicious in this incident.
"So that's the reason behind everything. Will you forgive me?"
"Seriously, my anger has dissipated already from excessive surprise... Since you want to become good friends with us, you don't need to do these kinds of things. Just speaking your mind openly is fine..."
"Rather, I'd say that's too slow and not fun at all. Take a serious battle like this, it ends with both sides acknowledging each other... The kind of relationship that's written as 'rivals' but read as 'friends'! Besides, if our relationship progresses to the point of knowing each other's crushes, to be able to share love stories, isn't that invincible? Okay, come on and strike while the iron is hot and share your love stories. Tell me when you met him? How did you come to start liking him?"
"Sigh, a relationship close enough to share love stories, on the other hand... I feel like I'm simply providing you with leverage over me, but am I worrying too much...?"
"You're overthinking things, worrying too much. I can be said to be the most reliable ally. If you need any help, I'll provide you with my assistance—"
"...Anyway, thanks but no thanks."
Konoha sighed again. Just as she got down and freed Kuroe. The sound of sudden footsteps could be heard approaching.
"Umm, I hope... you can forgive her. She didn't do it maliciously. Uh—She said it herself, she doesn't know the rules of the game, that's why she did that kind of thing... So, just teach her other rules of the game and I think she won't do that again!"
With head-tilted puzzlement, Konoha wondered "teach her other rules of the game?" Haruaki continued to come forward, handing a small device over to Kuroe.
"I'm lending this to you. After all, I seldom play it nowadays."
It was a handheld monochrome game device. Haruaki was not particular fond of videogaming, but he still owned a lot of consoles. This was one of them.
Without saying a word, Kuroe looked down at the game device. Soon after, she shifted her gaze towards Konoha. At this moment, the two girls burst out laughing at the same time.
"Yes, really—what a good child~"
"...Aren't I right? But his only shortcoming is being a little too simple and honest."
"W-What's going on, why are you two laughing? If you don't want it, fine, don't borrow it!"
"That's not it. Thank you. I'm really happy. I'm very into games but there were none in my previous home."
Perhaps feeling embarrassed upon seeing Kuroe's honest smile, Haruaki immediately turned his face away, blushing a little. Seeing him react like that, Kuroe smiled intriguingly and whispered in his ear.
"Yes, so I'll gratefully borrow this from you... The game I proposed just now, let's save that for when you're more grown up."
"Kuroe-san! Have you not learnt your lesson enough? Not allowed means not allowed!"
"Just kidding, I'm kidding, okay? On the other hand, it looks like I'll be able to learn many new games now. Also, there's a whole bunch of things I've always wanted to do but was unable... Hoho, I'd also like to check out many places by traveling around."
"...Once your curse is lifted, you can visit as many places as you want without any problems."
"Well said, let's do our best. I need to do things beneficial to humans... Hmm—What I'm capable of and also the most beneficial to people, what is it...?"
"Actually, you don't need to rush. Why not have fun in moderation, live life in moderation, and slowly lift your curse?"
"Yes. By the way, speaking of fun—How is this game played?"
"Oh right. Uh—Here's the power switch..."
It was a very strange scene.
Late at night in the garden, under the bright moonlight, a boy and a girl were staring at an old game device's tiny LCD screen.
Watching them quietly from the side, Konoha pondered.
Kuroe confessed to lying. But—what if that confession itself was a lie as well?
She had said that she served as the grandchild for an old lady who had no relatives and had a lot of fun. However, the fact of her being cursed was undeniable. No matter how much she wanted to serve as the old lady's grandchild, could a human really withstand a gradually weakening body? Could a human really refrain from cursing the culprit—the cursed doll? It looked like Kuroe had always been tormented by her own curse, unable to play or live happily. Hence it could be true that she did not know the rules of the game? Consequently, she arrived to this home with a desire for fun and games. That desire probably went out of control and manifested in the form of pranks and the love story plan—
Thinking to this point, Konoha shook her head lightly.
However, only Kuroe herself would know the actual truth of the matter. It was all in the past. No matter what kind of life she lived previously, she was now living here, in this home. That fact alone was enough... Hence, she should be free to relax and have fun. Konoha would simply step forward and teach her if she went out of line in her games. That was precisely the role she should play as the senior living in this home.
At this moment, Konoha found the other two saying: "...Your score is even lower than mine?" "I-I haven't played this for a long time, I'm just a little rusty...!" From the way Kuroe looked as Haruaki handed the game device to her, Haruaki must have been demonstrating to her earlier.
Then Kuroe slowly turned her face towards Konoha—
Smiling, she said:
"...Kono-san, do you wanna play together as well? Let's wager with juice and have a contest to see who gets the high score."
Konoha noticed that a syllable had been dropped from her name, but for some reason, it made her feel quite happy.
Konoha answered: "Of course, let's do it."
She knew that such an answer was quite lacking in common sense. They could very well play in the house. There was no need to game in the garden. Furthermore, it was almost midnight and there was nothing preventing them from playing the next day after a night's rest. However—
She felt that there was some kind of special value in playing with Kuroe in this particular instant, at this particular place.
That was the feeling she felt.
A very simple puzzle game started, involving clearing rows of falling blocks. Konoha had asked Haruaki many times to let her play in the past. Although the specific controls were now a bit fuzzy in her memory, she could still manage. Not long after she pressed the start key—
"Oh, Kono-san. There's one more thing I forgot to say."
"T-Talking to me right now, that's a bit cheating... Wah, the blocks are piling up...!"
"You can still recover, do your best. So actually, I also lied about something else."
"I'm no longer surprised by this point... What lie?"
"Yes. I was originally just pretending for fun yesterday, but I never thought you'd believe my lie, Kono-san, and start wearing it on your own. In other words—I don't usually wear fundoshi."
Her confession itself was shocking enough, but there was an even more shocking truth.
Konoha realized. Rather, how did she fail to realize earlier?
Her lower body was currently exposed, only clad in a fundoshi—
Starting a while earlier, he had intentionally kept his gaze away.
"W-Why do I have to game under such conditions? T-Time out! I request a time out! Where do I press to pause the game? No wait, I don't mind forfeiting this match, switch the power—"
"Oh, that won't do—If you deliberately switch off the power or lose to forfeit the match, you'll need to be punished. Right... Let's use a youthful punishment game like 'yelling out the name of your crush towards the moon.' Please."
"H-How could I possibly do that... That's totally unreasonable! Deciding on the rules after the fact, that's completely underhanded!"
"The world of competitions is merciless like this."
Kuroe's sleepy eyes were almost closed due to her delighted mood. She was doing it on purpose. Picking this particular time to make her confession, it was definitely intentional. She was definitely enjoying this.
Suddenly, a hint of unease flashed through Konoha's mind. Regarding the three of them living together from now on.
Was it possible... That asking this child to have fun to her heart's content... How should one put it? Would it be as foolish as raising a lion and unleashing it on the streets...?
In the next few minutes, while enduring the cold night wind blowing against her butt, displaying eyes like that of a dead fish, Konoha continued to clear blocks in a robotic manner.
Translator's Notes and References
- Fundoshi(褌): also known as the Japanese loincloth, a type of traditional Japanese undergarment made from a length of cotton. In particular, it resembles a thong in the way the buttocks are exposed.
- In Japanese, the kanji for "prank" is itazura(悪戯) which literally reads "malicious game."
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