Owari no Chronicle:Volume10 Chapter 18
Chapter 18: Something Important to Me
Try looking straight at it
You will no longer be able to see it
Water could be heard in the darkness.
The flowing water was falling. It fell from high up in the air and crashed into the rocky area down below.
It was a waterfall.
The moonlight was obstructed by the rocks, so it did not reach the waterfall. The moonlight did illuminate the stony basin and a sign in the nearby rest area gave the waterfall’s name: Hossawa Falls.
This was deep in Hinohara, west of Akigawa and one mountain south of Okutama.
Geographically, it was part of the Akigawa Mountains directly south of Okutama and the waterfall in those mountains continued dumping water despite the darkness.
A single color moved within that darkness and the background noise of the falling water.
That color was white.
That color which opposed the darkness stood up within the rest area next to the waterfall.
It was a girl in a white coat that had the name Chao sewn on the inside.
“Honestly, why are you running so far away, Yonkichi? That’s just pathetic.”
“I have no excuse, ges.”
The second voice came from below the falling water.
Someone was inside the waterfall’s basin.
Only Yonkichi’s upper body was exposed.
That upper body was missing its left arm and the darkness left only a wavering shadow visible as the water poured on top of him.
“I am washing away the pain, ges. The breath of nature in this clear stream will heal the dragon’s wound, ges.”
“You really are the same as 7th’s people. You raise your natural healing by ‘washing the wound’ and ‘not showing the wound’. It’s like possessing your own disinfectant or healing charms. …They used hot springs and open-air baths for their exhaustion just like us, though.”
“In that case, Low-Gear is not much different, ges. Our version is simply stronger, ges.”
Yonkichi collapsed within the basin and Chao heard him kicking his feet in the water.
“I had dyed my hair to stand out from my brothers, but it looks like that will end soon too, ges.”
“Don’t push yourself, you idiot. If you had messed up just a little, you would’ve lost your entire body, right? Soak in the pure water and get healed. …Anyway, how were those kids?”
It was not the man in the waterfall basin who responded.
A male voice came from behind her.
“I will go tonight.”
Is that Mitsuaki? she thought as she turned around.
She frowned at the old man in a white coat standing within arm’s reach of her.
“You shouldn’t stand behind a lady.”
“Are you sure you have not let your guard down, Lady Chao?”
“Pretty sure, yeah.”
She raised her right hand to show off the green scroll in her slender fingers.
Mitsuaki frantically checked his pockets and realized what he was looking for was not there.
As if showing off, she spun the stolen scroll in her hand.
When she raised her right arm, the quickly rotating green tube wrapped around her arm like a living creature.
As she waved her arm, the scroll moved from her right shoulder, spun around her neck, and rotated all the way to the end of her left arm.
The sound of rustling cloth and the sound of her catching the scroll in her left hand filled the darkness.
“The environmental manipulation concept weapon ‘Cosmos Comic – #1’. It was originally meant to stabilize the environments of the reservations, but it was so powerful that it was made into a weapon and then sealed. …Do you remember who made it?”
“Yes. He made Ikkou’s Azure Dragon Sword too, I believe. …Are you going back to Team Leviathan with that?”
“Yes. We have yet to settle things with them. However, we are giving some thought as to who we choose to fight. Kazami-sama and the others are almost entirely out of the fight.”
After a pause, Mitsuaki continued.
“Even so, we will not hold back. We will make sure they all join the fight.”
Chao threw the scroll back to him with a snap of her fingers.
He opened the left side of his white coat and the spinning scroll fell right into the inner pocket.
Chao then frowned at what he had said.
“I don’t approve of bullying the weak. Kazami’s probably been crying this entire time.”
“Lady Chao, do you remember Kazami-sama’s first battle?”
“Her first battle?”
“Yes.” Mitsuaki smiled. “A single normal person ended up inside the concept space and the main forces of 6th and 10th were headed her way. It was Izumo-sama…and us who rushed out to save her.”
“Oh, right. That did happen.”
“She could have run away. As a normal person, 6th and 10th would not have viewed her as an enemy. …But Sibyl-sama was also on the truck transporting G-Sp and X-Wi. Amid the fierce fighting, Kazami-sama hid Sibyl-sama in a safe place and then rejoined Izumo-sama on the battlefield. There, she helped him restrain the prototype Vritra that 6th had activated in an attempt to self-destruct,” explained Mitsuaki. “And yet when we originally rushed to the scene, we had thought there was no saving her.”
“So why did she lose so easily this time when she’s trained so much since then?”
“That is the real question. All I can say is that there is a difference between who she used to be and who she is now.”
He turned his back and faced the darkness.
“This is far from entertaining. The girl we once underestimated and who made us rethink our opinion of her is now perfectly in line with our original underestimation of her. …How very boring.”
He began to walk and a voice reached him from the waterfall basin.
“What is it, Yonkichi?”
“Will I ever see you again, ges?”
“You know that as well as I do. …And one other thing.”
On the fifth step, just as he was about to vanish into the dark forest, he stopped.
Wondering what this was about, Chao watched him as he spoke without turning around.
“As #37 on his list of things to do before disappearing, Brother Ikkou pissed from the top of this waterfall while humming.”
“I-I can’t believe him, ges!!”
Chao could only laugh bitterly as she heard the man kicking in the water.
Mitsuaki vanished into the darkness and she looked up into the sky.
“All I can see is the ceiling.”
She was in the rest area, so she only saw the inside of the cement roof.
After a self-deprecating laugh, she limply sat in the seat made from a cut log.
“Don’t worry about it, Yonkichi. I played with Mitsuaki’s scroll, remember? That was enough to wear me out a little.”
She raised her right hand and used her body to hide it from the waterfall basin behind her.
Her fingers were trembling ever so slightly.
…Pathetic. My lifespan is just about at its limit, too.
“Hey, Yonkichi,” she called out. “We’re all acting without restraint now, aren’t we? …Or were we too restrained until now?”
“What are you trying to say, ges?”
Her self-deprecating smile changed to a bitter one.
…There’s no way I can tell you what I’m trying to say if you ask like that.
The bitter smile grew.
“Something you wouldn’t understand, Yonkichi. If only I had given your brain some of your Great Sage’s power.”
She thought about the past. She thought about when she had created them in 7th-Gear so very long ago.
It had been fun, but she had never thought about it ending like this.
She had thought she had known and understood it would, but…
…Can I say I was young and stupid as an excuse?
“Yonkichi, you might be the most like me.”
“Your injury has mostly closed up, hasn’t it? So go to the place you will find most entertaining.”
“No, it hasn’t closed up yet.”
“What happened to the ‘ges’?”
“I-it hasn’t closed up yet, ges. I need to rest a little while longer, ges.”
“I see,” she said with a nod.
She gently rotated her body atop the log seat.
Her moving gaze looked outside the rest area.
All she saw was the dark night, but…
…Everyone is watching this darkness right now. Even if they don’t realize it, they are enveloped by it.
“What are you doing and what will you do?”
…Ikkou, Nijun, Mitsuaki, and Yonkichi.
Those thoughts in her heart did not form words, but she spoke something else aloud.
“Shinjou, Kazami, Hiba, Sayama, and the others.”
The sky had turned black, but the starlight was bright enough to cast shadows on the ground and create areas that were darker than others.
One of those darker areas was an eastern slope near Mount Kumotori, Tokyo’s tallest peak.
A large area of land had been created by digging down into the slope and the remains of the slope cast a large shadow on that land.
However, a single light existed inside that large shadow.
A small fluorescent light came from within the abandoned house at the bottom of the shadows.
It was an old Japanese-style house with an earthen-walled storehouse to the northeast.
The roof had a hole and the sun had faded the house’s wood until it was gray.
The sliding door for the southeastern entrance had fallen to the ground to rot, but the faded nameplate said “Kinugasa”.
Through the entrance were a dirt floor and a hand-pump for drinking water to the left.
The house had three rooms: the living room with a sunken fireplace, the parlor with a broken floor, and the bedroom. The rooms were divided by sliding screens that had yellowed with age and sliding doors that had lost their paper.
All of the rooms were faded, but color was beginning to fill the living room.
A white fluorescent light on the floor illuminated the flesh color and other colors printed on a piece of paper.
It was a poster.
A voice spoke in front of the poster.
“Heh heh heh. There is no need to restrain yourself any longer, Shinjou-kun.”
A boy spoke and hummed to himself as he hung up the large B2 poster on one of the living room’s sliding screens.
His suit coat lay over his shoulder and the name Sayama was stitched inside the collar.
He was in the process of hanging the fourth poster.
The poster he spread in his arms depicted a girl in a beige dress. She stood below the summer sun and she must have been spinning in the wind because her long black hair gently danced behind her.
Seeing the smile on the girl’s face, Sayama gave a deep nod.
“That is Shinjou-kun for you. You could almost forget what a dreary room this is.”
He held the poster up horizontally and attempted to peek up Shinjou’s skirt.
“No, I suppose that would not work. But leave it to Shinjou-kun to make me try. …Is this what you call an enchantress?”
He thumbtacked this poster next to the school uniform, pajamas, and swimsuit ones he had already hung along the wall.
However, he spotted something. His eyes stopped on the corner of the poster he had just hung up.
“Oh, no. The corner is bent by five millimeters! And after I went to so much trouble to make sure not to bend them. …Such a shame. I must give myself a fierce objection. I must ask for an apology. I am sorry! …Good. But what would Shinjou-kun think if I told her I had bent the corner of a poster made from a secret photograph of her?”
He sighed, brought a hand to his forehead, and envisioned her scolding him.
After exactly a minute, his vision came to an end.
“Being scolded is delightful as well. …Should I have her strike me too!?”
Hearing his voice ring throughout the house, he came back to his senses.
He crossed his arms in front of the four posters and tilted his head as he questioned himself.
“I am not sure what to say. I seem a little out of control today. Have I always been like this or is it a symptom of my Shinjou-kun withdrawal? No… I drank that miraculous powdered Eround Tea earlier, so it could not be the latter. In that case…”
…Is it those drugs from last night?
Ryouko had given them to him, but why had he taken them himself?
“It had to have been to protect Shinjou-kun from myself as I tried to give them to her.”
…I see. So this excitement comes from those drugs.
You cannot fight a drug, so I have no choice but to continue like this, he concluded.
He then recalled his job.
“Oh, no. I completely forgot. …I need to put up the life-size poster.”
He unrolled the poster to reveal a nude Shinjou with back turned and a large public bath in the background.
He looked at her face as she tried to decide which washing station to use.
“The instructions say your mother will not notice it if you hang it on the back of your door, but that is meaningless since this is for my own personal use.”
For the time being, he hung it on the sliding screen leading to the next room.
“Good,” he muttered before opening the sliding screen.
The next room had originally had a tatami mat floor, but that floor was gone.
It had fallen away, leaving a large hole.
“This room is no different from before.”
This was an abandoned house.
Sayama looked down at the collapsed and darkened tatami mats below the floor and he looked up.
He saw the dark sky through the hole in the ceiling.
He had checked under the floor when he had entered the house. He had hoped to find some trace of his parents, but he had found nothing.
He had concluded that the house was a completely normal building.
But that is strange, he thought. If this was Kinugasa’s house…
…Where did he do his research?
The documents Roger Sully had given him said what his father had called the Kinugasa Document had been found in Kinugasa’s residence.
As Sayama looked around the place, he suddenly turned to the yard.
Beyond the missing sliding door, he saw the white storehouse to the northeast.
“That thing is sturdily built.”
So if there was a study or lab here…
…It would be in the storehouse.
He had yet to set foot inside there. He had been planning to do so after preparing for the night.
“I have to hurry.”
He nodded and returned to the room. He sat while looking at the line of Shinjous hanging on the sliding screens.
“That leaves one last thing to prepare.”
He unrolled a blue sleeping bag on the floor and placed something next to it.
“A Shinjou-kun body pillow cover. Not even the Buddha himself would have thought to place this on his sleeping bag.”
He quickly placed the pillow cover on the sleeping bag and spread it out.
This created an image of Shinjou in her pajamas that had actual volume to it.
He gave a few impressed laughs, but soon began to tremble.
He let out a gasp and brought a hand to his forehead.
“But now I cannot hug her while inside the sleeping bag! This is what you call a structural flaw! The best word to express this situation is ‘careless’!”
He unrolled another poster sitting behind him and revealed an image of Shinjou looking angry.
He thought to himself as he viewed that expression.
…Shinjou-kun truly would be this angry if she knew of my carelessness.
I must be more reliable. Is there no way of solving this problem?
He thought and slapped his knee when finally found an answer.
“I only need to turn it inside out and put it inside.”
He politely thanked the angry poster and set it aside.
He removed the cover from the sleeping bag and turned it inside out, so Shinjou was on the inside of the bag-like cover.
Nodding, he placed the cover inside the sleeping bag.
He glanced toward the storehouse outside.
“Perhaps I should test it out before entering the storehouse.”
With a dignified nod, he removed his shoes and excitedly stuck his feet inside the sleeping bag.
He stuck his hands inside, drew his head inside, grabbed the zipper in his teeth, and pulled it closed.
The top opening of the cover had sunk down, so he pulled it up and closed it to form a cloth log.
He was now fully inside from head to toe.
He breathed a sigh of relief, but then…
“Oh, no. It is too dark to see Shinjou-kun! This is what you call a situational flaw! The best English word to express this situation is ‘goddamn’!”
He tried to get out, but he was so perfectly wrapped up that the cloth worm only squirmed and bent.
Also, the movement twisted the cover tightly around him.
“Nwah! Y-you’re squeezing me, Shinjou-kun!? And so roughly. Ahh! But this is also quite entertaining!”
In an abandoned house in the starry mountain night, a blue sleeping bag writhed in the brightness of a small fluorescent light. Grunts came from the sleeping bag and it fiercely arched upwards, but it simply would not come off.
“Calm down. Calm down, me! If you do not escape this enjoyable hell, you will become a pervert. And it will interfere with the investigation!”
The stuffed sleeping bag hopped up with its back muscles and forcefully stood. It then stretched its back, struck a pose with its chest proudly thrown forward, and briefly shrank down in preparation for a leap.
A moment later, the dark blue sleeping bag jumped straight up.
“The force of landing should make it easier to remo-…”
His feet landed on the angry Shinjou poster and slipped.
The action created a perfect half arc backwards.
The log-like sleeping bag forcefully rotated and the back of the head crashed between two floorboards.
A dull sound came from the sleeping bag that had been physically unable to prepare for the landing.
But the voice that escaped it was not a grunt or a groan.
As soon as that breath leaked from the sleeping bag, the floorboards beneath the head broke and the broken portion sank down like a seesaw.
The sleeping bag writhed as it slid down the tilted floorboards.
“Ahhh, Shinjou-kun! I am falling! I really am falling? Continue just like this!”
The shouting sleeping bag vanished into the darkness below the floor.
Nothing remained and silence fell.
As if that silence was its cue, hooting began in the nearby forest.
It came from an owl.
The hooting continued as something crawled out from below the edge of the abandoned house.
It was Sayama.
“I still have work to do, but I ended up playing quite intensely.”
He stood and brushed the dust from his hands, knees, and shoulders.
He reached to the living room floor, grabbed his shoes, his rucksack, and a few other items.
“Now that I have had a break, it is time to get down to business.”
He put the rucksack on his back, held the handheld fluorescent light in one hand, and expressionlessly turned around.
He now faced the storehouse.
It almost seemed to be waiting for him as it was illuminated by the pale moonlight.
Sayama left the house and observed the white moonlit storehouse.
It was about four meters tall and he estimated it was a little less than ten square meters inside.
Its white walls had crumbled in places to reveal the straw and earth inside.
“If Professor Kinugasa had a study, it must be in here.”
He began to walk and observed the large yard as he approached.
Gravel was laid out in front of the house to keep the undergrowth away, but there was nothing else save the camellia trees placed on the other side as a windbreak. Sayama guessed there had originally been a garden, but he did not bother confirming that now.
He approached the storehouse.
He also double-checked that the surrounding mountains were the same as in the photograph Moira 1st had given him.
“The storehouse’s entrance is…”
He found it.
The gravel path starting at the house’s back entrance led to a rectangular entrance on the south.
The entrance sat open and the metal door opened inwards.
Sayama saw a dimly-lit space inside.
…If the door is open, does that mean the inside has been exposed to the elements?
The situation was definitely worse than when his parents had come.
He knew there was no point in rushing now, but he still quickened his pace toward the entrance.
A single footstep sounded as he unhesitatingly set foot inside.
There was nothing there.
Nothing at all. He only saw…
…The dirt floor and white walls of a storehouse?
He swallowed words of disbelief and looked around the inside.
However, he truly did not find anything except for damp air.
He illuminated each surface with the fluorescent light in his hand, but he found nothing but filth on the ceiling, walls, and dirt floor.
Whoever had made it must not have wanted water getting in because the floor was built high and thick grooves had been dug along each wall and leading to the entrance.
The farther from the entrance, the more dust was piled up on the floor.
But that was all.
Sayama frowned at the fact that there was nothing here.
However, his expression suddenly changed.
“I do not believe it.”
He frowned, narrowed his eyes, and looked around the room.
That was when he noticed something.
He had found something one would not notice at a glance and would seem like an optical illusion if one stared.
A large square shadow existed in the center of the storehouse, but it was much paler than a normal shadow.
“It is two square meters, but what is it?”
He reached the answer almost immediately.
…Is something being concealed with a concept?
This was not optical camouflage using colors. This was conceptual camouflage.
What was here?
He looked around again and noticed some words.
There was a message inside the storehouse.
It was engraved on the inward-closing metal door.
Words had been carved into the metal surface.
“To he who comes here.”
Sayama carefully read the engraved words aloud.
“Know that the entrance to the truth is not here…!”
Sayama gulped and expressed his surprised thoughts.
“He even engraved the final ‘…!’! Kinugasa Tenkyou knew what he was doing…!”
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