Owari no Chronicle:Volume10 Chapter 15

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Chapter 15: A Place with a Voice[edit]

OnC v10 0397.png

You can make it, you can make it, you can make it.

What do you call the idea

That you can make it because you have broken


A dark space had a stepped floor and thick bookcases.

It was the Kinugasa Library.

The library was filled with students. They were checking out reference material to help prepare for the school festival. Most of them were using encyclopedias, dictionaries, or maps, but a lot were checking out novels while they were at it.

The crowd was centered on the bookcases and people who had just arrived or were checking out moved between them.

The tables were being used by people using materials that could not be checked out or…

“People who are chatting. Heh heh. Doing something other than festival preparations is its own kind of joy.”

Brunhild spoke at the lowest point at the center of the stepped floor.

Sitting across from her were Hiba in a track suit and…

“Harakawa? Why are you carrying a chainsaw?”

“Because you dragged me here before I could put it down, art club president. Plus, it’s a jigsaw, not a chainsaw.”

Harakawa placed the jigsaw on its side on the table.

“I’ll be blunt. I’m not interested in this.”

He crossed his arms.

“We lost once already. We were injured and injured him. I never had much of an obligation to the Leviathan Road, so I’d like to withdraw from this one.”

“For the sake of that dragon girl?”

“For my own sake. I’m supporting my own livelihood, so my own safety is the most important thing for me to keep living.”

“Fine, we can leave it at that. …And stay here, Harakawa. If you’re supporting your livelihood, it means you’re only here cutting lumber because you have nothing better to do. So how about you put that time to better use?”

Brunhild waved her left hand and placed it on the table.

They were surrounded by the sounds of footsteps, rustling school uniforms, and flipping pages. There were a lot of sounds, but they were all quiet and Brunhild’s finger tapping on a book joined them.

“This is one of the books on legends that Professor Kinugasa put together. There are a lot of dragons in 7th-Gear’s Chinese mythology, but not many stories include four dragons. I found it almost right away, but those four brothers are…”

“The four dragon brothers that protect the four cardinal directions in Chinese mythology?”

“Stealing my line is a serious crime, Hiba Ryuuji. Go buy me some coffee later.”

The bird on her head chirped and she nodded.

“And some bird food.”

“Th-that’s your duty, Schild-san!”

“Stop fighting it, criminal. And be quiet in the library. …But even if what you did was wrong, what you said was not. Chao may have created those four brothers as an homage to the four dragons. …And now they are our enemy.”

“Your enemy maybe,” said Harakawa. “But not mine.”

“Who was it that tore off Yonkichi’s arm? If it wasn’t you, then go tell Heo Thunderson that she was the one to tear off his left arm since it apparently wasn’t your doing.”

After that, Brunhild looked down a little and expressionlessly opened the book.

“But this does not give much information. It only shows the patterns of the four dragons’ names. One of those gives their names as Goukou, Goujun, Goumei, and Goukitsu in Japanese. The ‘gou’ refers to a long period of time. However, if you remove that because so much time has yet to pass and you replace it with a number indicating the order of creation, you get their names.”

“What good does that do? Are you going to tell their fortune using their names?”

“Knowing your opponent’s identity is the best way of understanding them and no longer fearing them. Even a terrorist becomes nothing more than a target to be attacked once you know their name, right?”

Harakawa raised his eyebrows a little, but Brunhild ignored him and lightly tapped the opened book again.

“It seems none of them have attacked Shinjou. Izumo and Kazami were defeated by the eldest and third brother while we dealt with the youngest, so maybe the second brother went to Sayama.”

“In that case, I wouldn’t want to be Sayama-san right now.”

“I wouldn’t want to be him ever. And we should celebrate this. His presence means we only have to deal with three of them.”

“I am not dealing with any of them,” said Harakawa.

Brunhild looked up and smiled.

“Who ever said you would be? Don’t be stupid. I only told you to stay there. If you don’t want to look too pathetic, second year, then just sit there quietly.”

Harakawa clicked his tongue and rested his feet on the table.

Brunhild frowned.

“Are you trying to point the soles of your shoes at me?”

“You aren’t going to scold me for putting my feet on the table?”

“I do that in my dorm room…and I make sure to point the soles toward the world outside the window. I’m on an entirely different level from you.”

“Oh, how moving. …Now, tell me this, art club president. Do you have a chance of winning?”

He asked in a challenging tone, but Brunhild calmly answered.

“We do.”


Harakawa watched and listened.

The girl in front of him was expressionlessly speaking about the coming battle.

“We have a way to fight, but you all are the ones who will do the fighting. They aren’t even thinking about me. So let me tell you one thing: first and foremost, you had better make up for my injury.”

“Your honesty is refreshing. So what’s next?”

Brunhild nodded.

“They have a number of concept weapons and fixed concepts, which are concepts they can activate in the space around them. You remember that, don’t you? We don’t know what Nijun’s is, but we don’t need to worry about it since Sayama will handle him.”

“L-let’s worry about it a little, Schild-san.”

“Then go follow Sayama into the Okutama mountains. Unfortunately, this world only rewards concern if you show it in your actions.”

At that point, a tall old man in a vest walked over while carrying a stack of returned books.

“Nein, do not forget the many people that are concerned for you.”

“I haven’t, Siegfried. I have simply decided not to worry about Team Leviathan. Even if you do, they will do what they are going to do without even noticing. …That’s why giving them a nice kick in the rear when they fail is more effective than worrying.”

Harakawa saw the librarian’s shoulders shaking in bitter laughter.

“Do you know what that ‘nice kick in the rear’ is usually called, Nein?”

“If you say it’s ‘cheering them on’, I’ll grab your arm and claim you abused me. After all, saying that is akin to mental abuse. Now, a proper answer would be to call it instigating them.”

Brunhild turned a sulky look toward Harakawa.

“You don’t actually know why Sayama had Team Leviathan temporarily disband, do you? But I have a hunch. Kazami and Izumo should realize it before long too.”

“Kazami-san will find out why? …And she’ll return to the fight?”

“The silly girl was crying, wasn’t she? That’s her punishment for getting carried away. But punishments always have an end. If she wants to fight when that time comes, she will come to understand what Sayama meant,” said Brunhild. “And to prepare for that, we need to gather information on those four brothers and work out as much of a battle plan as we can.”

“Then show us your strategy, art club president.”

We’re finally getting to the main point, thought Harakawa.

“The fixed concept that took out Heo and me was ‘the world is reversed for an instant’. It most likely takes all attacks, direct or projectile, and returns them to the attacker by swapping positions. Plus, the switch only lasts an instant. Even if you try to attack yourself…”

“If Yonkichi does not use his fixed concept, you will hit yourself, right?”

Brunhild looked up at Siegfried.

“How long are you going to stand there watching us?”

“Until my legs start moving.”

“That side of you is exactly like my sister.”

She looked annoyed and shrugged.

“Listen,” she said to Hiba and Harakawa. “Imagine that reversing concept is in effect now.”

“Eh? S-so if I grope my own chest, I would be groping your- I’m sorry! I won’t say any more! And please don’t give me that pitying look, Siegfried-san! Do not change the channel.”

“No, Hiba boy. I was not giving you a pitying look. I was realizing how much like your grandfather you are.”

“Th-that’s the same thing. And how are we anything alike!?”

Everyone ignored him.

Brunhild turned to Harakawa and he looked straight back.

“What if I punched you?”

“The fixed concept would make you punch yourself.”

“And if I punched myself?”

“I would immediately remove the fixed concept and you would punch yourself.”

He just about said there was no winning, but she swung her right hand.

A piece of paper flew through the air. It contained a word meaning ‘sever’. And…

“There are two of them: one for my neck and one for yours. …What about this?”

Brunhild saw Harakawa’s eyebrows rise and Hiba gulp.

“If I activate both papers at once, I can sever your head whether you swap our positions or not. There is no escape.”

“Wait, wait. Are you planning to commit sui-…”

Before he could add “cide”, he wrinkled his brow and said something else.

“Thunder Fellow or Susamikado wouldn’t be decapitated by that.”

“Right. Yonkichi lost his arm when Thunder Fellow charged in because the mechanical dragon is tougher than him. You just need to hit him and yourself with an attack you can survive but he can’t. Got it? Our enemy is not invincible. And just as we found where his name comes from,” she said. “There are likely other methods as well. And methods for the other brothers. Also, you all need to reach the same place as Kazami. You need to be asking why Team Leviathan needs to disband when you were working so well together.”

Harakawa and Hiba remained silent.

However, Hiba crossed his arms like Harakawa was doing and finally formed a bitter smile.

“This is kind of strange. Team Leviathan has disbanded, yet here we are discussing how to fight for the Leviathan Road.”

“Oh? But it’s because you have disbanded that you can include an inspector like me in your discussion about fighting another Gear.”

“That’s just the official reasoning. In a way, you’re more suited for Team Leviathan than us, Schild-san.”

“Now that’s just cruel. It sounds like you’re bragging about being chosen.”

“We weren’t chosen.”

“Then let me put it this way: you managed to reach that position. Meanwhile, I can only call out to you from the opposite shore. Sayama has gone on ahead while Kazami has fallen behind because she is so busy shouting and crying that you all need to go together. However, those of you that have fallen behind still don’t understand what that means. You don’t understand the meaning behind Team Leviathan’s existence.”

“The meaning behind its existence? You mean it isn’t to complete the Leviathan Road?”

“Exactly. But…”

She paused and leaned forward a little.

“You have been doing well, but all that fell apart just because you were ordered to disband. You have great strength, but you lost. Why do you think that is? …What does Team Leviathan need to do well no matter what happens?”

“Well…”

“You don’t know, do you? Silent second year, you’re not saying anything because you don’t know, aren’t you? On the other hand, Kazami fought back because she didn’t want to know. …But that means she does know.”

Brunhild took a breath, leaned back in her chair, and gave a self-deprecating smile.

“So watch Kazami. She’s a possible scenario for your own future. If you watch her, you will either see her give up or continue on. And if you all will decide to continue on, then help put together a plan that lets Kazami go ahead as an example for you.”

“You aren’t going to fight, Schild-san?”

“Of course not. Fighting is a pain in the butt and getting all of you moving is exhausting enough. Now, let’s put together what information we have on the other brothers.”

She sat up in her chair and smiled, but a large hand was placed on her head.

It was the hand Siegfried was not using to hold the books.

“That is a good decision, Nein. But you told one lie.”

He rubbed her hair and walked away as he finished speaking.

“Place your dominant hand on the table and show it to them. It’s wrapped in a bandage, isn’t it? That is more than enough reason not to fight. There is no need to hide it.”

Her cheeks grew red and she tried to turn back toward him, but he had already removed his hand and left.

She groaned as she settled back in her seat and Hiba muttered a few words toward the floor.

“Everyone has someone they can never beat, don’t they?”

A paper with the word “stab” written on it stabbed into Hiba’s forehead.


The cloudy sky cleared out to the west and the sunlight broke through.

The light hit a broad, shallow slope filled with pale yellow.

The yellow was susuki grass.

Short susuki grass with drooping heads covered the entire area.

The susuki grass field was surrounded by forest and the trees kept out most of the wind.

The broad slope contained one color other than yellow.

It was the bluish black of a suit.

That suit was worn by Sayama as he parted the chest-high susuki grass.

“It should be somewhere around here.”

Approximately twelve hours had passed since he had entered the mountains. With his rucksack on his back and a short machete in hand, he had reached a certain ridge.

His hair was a little disheveled and his shoes were dirty. He had worked up a sweat, so the cheeks of his slender face somewhat drooped.

However, his eyes were filled with strength.

I am glaring.

He was aware of it.

“It is because I am starved for Shinjou-kun.”

I need to bear with it, he told himself as he pulled a handheld digital recorder from his pocket.

“N-no, Sayama-kun! Not here!”

Yes, even Shinjou-kun agrees.

“In other words, this is not the place. I must go elsewhere.”

He looked around, but only forest surrounded the slope. He could see nothing else.

He did see the sun above the forest, but…

“It will set in another three hours. I must plan for the worst case and find a campsite before then.”

He had already entered an area of the mountains he had never visited before. Unless he was returning the way he had come, moving at night would be too dangerous.

Even after traveling so far, he had not run across Nijun, but he was certain the man was pursuing him.

Just in case, a safe campsite would be best, he decided.

The mountain past the southwestern forest was Mount Kumotori. He could see the forest covering its peak and the path leading to it.

His current position had an altitude of around 1900 meters.

The sun hit the slope now because it was on the western side of the mountain, but the autumn’s west wind would blow through once evening arrived. The sun warmed it now, but it would be better to circle to the eastern side to spend the night.

With a possible attack from Nijun, it would be best to choose a spot with a good view.

In that case, I should choose somewhere near the top of the eastern slope.

Settling on that, he began to speak.

“Shinjou-kun.”

He realized he naturally began by calling her name.

This is not good, he thought as he walked.

He climbed the susuki grass slope with a self-deprecating smile.

“When we are reunited, I will tell you the path my parents once took was a sunny autumn slope.”

Would she be impressed? Would she be so moved that she began to strip?

“No, that is only a delusion brought on by my Shinjou-kun withdrawal.”

Calm down, he thought. Just now, she told me to go elsewhere, so I must bear with it for now. I truly heard that voice. It was no illusion.

So I need to stop conveniently imagining things, he added.

And it is a crime to make her conveniently lewd in my delusions, he told himself.

But if that happens in person, it will show mutual understanding.

He nodded and stood on the ridge atop the slope. He placed his hands around his mouth and shouted to the other mountain.

“In person truly is best!”

“In person truly is best.”

Oh! Nature is showing its understanding. Viva the mountains!

Satisfied, he looked down the shadowy slope to find a spot perfect for a camp.

“…”

He found one. And it already had a house.

Only about three meters down, someone had dug deep into the slope.

That created a wide area of flat land. That thirty square meters used gravel to isolate itself from the susuki grass and an old tile roof rose up to just below Sayama’s feet.

Is this it?

The house below seemed to have three twelve-square-meter rooms and an earthen-walled storehouse to the north.

Several of the faded roof tiles were missing and the roof had a hole to the south.

The wooden walls had also baked in the sun and the shaded areas were covered with moss. All of the windows had fallen out, the back entrance’s sliding door had come from its frame, and it lay weathered and broken on the ground.

How long had it been since the place began to rot?

“…”

Sayama pulled a photograph from his pocket. It was the photo of Professor Kinugasa’s house that he had received from Moira 1st below Izumo UCAT. He could not tell the house’s shape from above, but he could check the positions of the surrounding mountains.

“This is it.”

Thank you, #8-kun.

He silently thanked the automaton who had calculated out the location.

He placed the document back in his pocket and breathed in.

“This… This is the same air that my parents once breathed.”

That thought brought pain to the left side of his chest. He pressed his right hand against his chest, but even tensing his body could not oppose the distortion within his ribs. He could only frown.

“…”

He stood still for several seconds.

After three or four breaths, he let out a slow, trembling breath and clenched his left fist.

Strength gathered in his eyes and he turned them toward the house below.

He observed the old roof tiles, nodded, and prepared to say “How about I go?”.

“Shinjou-kun.”

But this time he did not reject calling that name. Instead, he rejected something else.

“No, this is not a question.”

He changed his wording.

“I will go, Shinjou-kun. That way I can stand beside the one who desires the past so she can find her parents and who does not fear facing that loss. I will stand beside those who have accepted all that they have lost.”

The wind blew from behind him. This was the west wind of autumn that told him the warmth of the sun would soon vanish.

Did this wind wash over my parents as well?

He walked forward to circle around the slope and reach the house.

The wind seemed to push him from behind and the vanishing warmth of the sun seemed to support him.

“I will go. That way I can convince myself I am worthy of leading the others. Just as I asked Kazami and the others, I too must accept that I am suitable for Team Leviathan.”

He walked.

“I too wish to overtake the past, Shinjou-kun.”


Darkness was falling over a city.

It was a sloped city.

Most of the people who lived there worked in the low seaside urban district during the day and returned to the mountainous residential district in the evening.

The people aboard the streetcars, busses, and trains went from wearing school uniforms to suits.

A set of eyes inside a certain building watched that flow of people through the city.

It was a small white building that looked more like a warehouse than a residence.

It contained a tall wooden room with two columns of long wooden benches.

Beyond the benches was a podium, showing that this was a church.

A girl faced the darkening city through one of the windows on the side wall.

She wore an orange jacket and had long black hair.

She was Shinjou.

She lowered her head toward the black phone and table set prepared by the church’s side wall.

In front of the window to the city, she held a pen and memo pad in her hands and the phone receiver between her head and left shoulder.

“I see. So you didn’t find anyone like that? …No, thank you very much. I know I was asking a lot. …Yes, thank them for me as well.”

She gave a small smile.

“Yes, that’s right. If I find my mother, reporting that would be the best thanks of all, wouldn’t it? …Yes, please do if you find anything. I will move on to the next place. Bye.”

She hung up.

She crossed out three of the church names she had copied onto the memo pad.

She sighed and took in another breath.

She faced the white wall and tall window.

The residential district was located at the top of the slope. Further down, she saw the lights of the shopping district and plenty of people walking on the sidewalks.

She looked away from the window and down to the black phone and documents.

The documents were covered in checks from the pen in her hand.

She had been calling churches and orphanages to see if they had any records of a Shinjou Yukio.

All of the checks were X-marks. A circle would mean success, but she had yet to draw one.

She was disappointed, but she had another thought while looking around.

It feels so strange to be here.

This was a church.

It was a gathering place that doubled as a local volunteer office.

It was the closest one to the volunteer office at Sakai’s port that she had managed to contact by phone.

An old woman had answered the phone and she had told Shinjou to visit when she had heard the situation.

Shinjou had started running and had arrived at this church after several minutes.

When she had knocked on the white door, an old woman dressed in black had answered the door and asked what she needed.

Shinjou had clearly answered as follows.

“I am looking for the church orphanage that held someone named Shinjou Yukio from the sixties to the seventies. Shinjou Yukio might be my mother, but I’m having trouble because the documents were lost in the earthquake. …Please help me. I have a list of the current orphanages and I thought a church might know which ones are church orphanages. I am not asking for anything more than that.”

“How soon do you need this?”

“Before ten tonight. I need to leave by then.”

“That is quite sudden. Why the rush?”

“A friend was…in an accident, so I need to go help.”

“I see.”

The woman had nodded and pulled a thick book of documents from the office.

It had not contained the name Shinjou Yukio.

The old woman had said she had transferred to this job after the earthquake and that she would help Shinjou while using it as a chance to greet the other churches.

“Please let me see your list. We can divide up the work. You use the phone in the sanctuary and contact the places you can reach that way. I will contact the places on the list I am familiar with and some acquaintances who are well-known in areas not represented on the list. I will get an answer from as many places as I can contact today.”

Shinjou had frowned at the resolve in the woman’s voice.

“Why are you going so far to help me?”

“What a silly question. If you could stay here longer, you would undoubtedly find the answer on your own. The only reason you cannot do that is because you need to go help your friend, so you have done nothing wrong. And not blessing someone who has done nothing wrong would be cruel indeed. Now, leave your list and go. This is a sloped city, so a lot of work awaits you once you find your destination and must run there.”

About five hours had passed since then.

They had split up the list and took hourly breaks for tea and reporting on their progress.

The old woman had accurately contacted orphanages by region while Shinjou went through the list page by page.

The woman was on the final region. She was likely in the back room calling someone with a connection to the city’s port.

Shinjou was steadily working on the list in her hand, but…

“…”

She had just finished checking the entire second-to-last page.

Every single one of them had been dead ends.

If the list on the final page did not turn up anything…

What will I do?

She would have to rely on the old woman using the phone in the back room.

“I hope that doesn’t happen.”

She was drawing close to knowing if she could find her past or not.

She was certain that records of Shinjou Yukio existed, but she still did not know if she would find them or not.

She remembered what she had felt at the port.

The past is being overwritten by the present.

While wondering if that was true, she looked out the window in front of her.

The sloped city was dyed in the colors of the sunset and there was a gap in the center of the residential district.

That land on the slope received plenty of sun, but it was still empty.

Having walked past it on the way here, Shinjou knew what that gap was.

She had wondered what it was while running by, but she had seen a sign.

“An area of high risk for tertiary damages.”

The earthquake itself caused the primary damage and the fires and such caused by that were the secondary damages. In the Great Kansai Earthquake’s case, the tertiary damages were later collapses caused by land loosened by the earthquake.

That gap was the area where such collapses were likely. Normally, construction would be done to fix the land, but the administrative delays and fear of causing more damages had likely prevented that work from being done.

So will that land stay like that forever if it doesn’t collapse?

The land would not recover on its own.

It was a wound on the slope. Not only that, it was a wound that had yet to open but would eventually open.

Even after a decade, the scars of the earthquake remained.

“The past simply vanishes.”

Shinjou looked up suddenly as she realized her mind was too externally focused.

This was no time to be engrossed in the city.

She knew she had to continue calling.

To do so, she adjusted her position in the chair and flipped to the next page.

“Let’s see,” she muttered while revealing that final page.

She looked at what was printed there.

“…Eh?”

That final page contained a list of addresses, but they were all crossed out.

Those lines told her these entries were excluded.


She realized what the final page of addresses was.

A list of the orphanages, churches, and volunteer offices that they know are no longer running.

She guessed that the municipal office had only included this page to be considerate. If she had only been given a list of contactable places, she might have searched for further places to contact.

So this lets me know not to waste my time on places that are no longer running.

She had simply overlooked its inclusion.

She had flipped through the entire list a few times since receiving it, but she had not actually read through it all.

She had been afraid to check too carefully because she had feared it would give her an answer she did not want.

Oh, no, she thought. Why? she also thought.

“…”

She stood up from the chair for no real reason.

Several emotions and thoughts filled her mind.

The people outside the window were moving, but she did not see them.

All she saw were the few sheets of paper.

“Um…”

Panicking, she checked through them again.

However, everything but the final list was already checked.

She opened her bag and pulled out her change of clothes, a map, some valuables, her binder, and the envelope from Sayama.

“There’s no more.”

The words escaping her mouth meant two things.

First, there were no more pages to the list.

Second, there were no more places for her to check.

And those two facts led to only one conclusion.

There’s nothing more I can do?

It was so sudden.

She had thought there was plenty more she could do, so this felt like a sudden stop.

She was unsure how to react.

“Kh.”

While wondering what to do, she loaded her things back in the cold bag.

She grabbed the change of clothes, the map, and then the binder and envelope.

The binder was black and the envelope white. Her eyes reflected those two colors which contained her thoughts and Sayama’s will.

The contrasting color and the feelings held within brought her back to her senses.

That was when she first realized a certain fact: she was barely breathing.

“Ah.”

When she finally released the air from her lungs, she felt like she was falling.

That was only an illusion. In reality, it was nothing more than her shoulders drooping and the bottom of her gut relaxing.

I’m nervous.

She still wondered what to do and something else arrived to replace the tension in her lower abdomen.

It was pain. The pain she always felt at the end of the month quickly grew due to her stress.

She gently twisted her body and grabbed the table to put up with it.

Her lowered eyes fell to the list from the municipal office.

There was nothing more she could do with it, but…

“It isn’t over yet.”

To endure the pain, she inhaled as if crushing the dull pain in her gut.

“This church’s manager is still making calls.”

A moment later, the last door on the opposite wall opened and loud footsteps filled the room.

“How did it go? I just finished.”

The old woman’s voice seemed to drive the words “it’s over” into her back.

Shinjou hesitated.

She wanted to ask what the woman had found and if she had found any records of Shinjou Yukio. After all…

I didn’t find anything!

So she turned around. She gathered the documents from the table, held them to her chest, and looked behind her.

The slender old woman stood there in her black dress. The fairly strong eyes below her gray hair looked straight back at her.

“How did it go, Shinjou-san?”

“U-um, well…”

She just about asked the woman how it had gone for her, but…

“I didn’t find anything.”

Her voice turned into a trembling sigh.

Oh, no, she thought. Didn’t I prepare for this again and again?

Hadn’t she mentally rehearsed for this possibility countless times?

She was only searching for someone who might not be her mother. She would eventually find an answer and she even had someone helping her find that answer today.

Nevertheless, she held the papers close, took in a breath, tried her best not to cry, and let words spill out in place of tears.

“I-I didn’t find anything. …No matter where I checked, I couldn’t find anything!”

“I see.”

After letting out a trembling breath, she breathed in to replace it.

She coughed once, her entire body trembled, and she breathed in again.

“U-um…”

Sorry for making you see this, she thought.

“That is fine,” said the woman. “This just shows how important this is to you.”

Shinjou could not agree with or deny those words, so she chose to remain silent.

“I also could not find any records of a Shinjou Yukio.”

Those sudden words caused all air to vanish from Shinjou’s throat.

Eh? she thought, but only after another thought.

What did she just say?

What did that mean? Had she not checked in the right way? Had she been lied to?

No, that can’t be!

I need to trust her, she thought.

She prepared her heart that had grown empty with surprise and she spoke quietly.

“Does that mean…Shinjou Yukio was not in Sakai?”

“I do not know that. However…”

The woman smiled.

“There was one blessing.”

“A blessing?”

“Yes,” she replied.

Shinjou did not know what she meant. She had been told there were no records of Shinjou Yukio and yet she had been told there was a blessing.

“Someone who used to run our diocese told me of a church orphanage that moved after the earthquake. However, it welcomed in a great number of people as it did so and gave up being a church. It became a normal orphanage.”

“You mean…!?”

Her heart instantly flared up like a fire.

A question burst from her like heat from the flames.

She reflexively took a strong step forward.

“Where is that orphanage!?”

“Here.”

The woman moved the counter to hold out a piece of paper with an address and orphanage name.

“Luckily, it’s just what you are looking for. It apparently has no phone, so get running. But learn its name first.”

The woman spoke from beyond the paper.

“It was known as the Holy Soukou Institution, but it is apparently known as the Soukou House now. It looks like a church at first glance and…”

She took a breath.

“I hear they often sing hymns there.”


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