Owari no Chronicle:Volume12 Chapter 6
Chapter 6: The Voice Within
What you hear is the voice within
Is it a scream that is asking for help?
Or is it a hopeful relief?
Soaking in hot water loosened up the body.
It encouraged even blood flow and allowed all muscles to gently function without any strain.
If one stretched out their legs and leaned their head back in that state, they would naturally let out a voice.
“This water is amazing… Don’t you think, Brunhild? Today, Sunflower is doing their lemon bath.”
“That only stings my injuries, Kazami.”
Kazami looked up to the ceiling while sitting in the Eternal Sunflower’s women’s bath with her elbows and back on the edge of the tub. Brunhild sat on the edge with a towel wrapped around her and her legs soaking in the water.
“C’mon. Try to get along, you two.”
Ooki was using an upside-down bucket in place of a float and she smiled at Kazami and Brunhild.
“I’m just glad neither of you were hurt. You call me after falling from the stratosphere and the first thing you ask for is a change of clothes.”
“I’m really sorry about worrying you like that.”
Kazami smiled bitterly and rested her head on the tub’s edge to fully face upwards. She then placed a folded towel over her forehead and eyes.
After hiding her expression like that, she gave another relaxed sigh.
“So. What’s going to happen with 1st-Gear, Brunhild?”
“I sent a paper to Fasolt saying I had lost with Gram.”
Kazami listened to the other girl’s quiet voice.
Gram and G-Sp2 were leaning up against the inner wall of the tub.
“Relaxed?” said G-Sp2’s console.
The side of Gram’s blade likely said “excellent water”.
Brunhild spoke up again with slight tension in her voice.
“I didn’t expect Gram to suddenly grow so heavy.”
“Neither did I.”
Kazami chose to simply agree.
After the battle, Kazami and Brunhild had left the concept space after making sure Ooki had reserved the bath.
But by that time, Brunhild could no longer carry Gram.
Even so, it was perfectly light in Kazami’s grasp. The same for Ooki. There was only one way to interpret this.
…Gram is no longer lightening itself for the people of 1st-Gear?
Brunhild had likely informed Fasolt of that.
The 1st-Gear reservation would have a new issue to deal with. Even if they did reclaim their Concept Core, it would not lend them its power.
…Is Gram telling them that it’s meaningless to try the same thing over and over again?
Their world had been destroyed and their Concept Core stolen, but they had to start anew from there.
“And that must mean accepting their defeat.”
“Hm? Did you say something, Kazami-san?”
“Don’t bother, Ooki-sensei. This stupid girl always gets lost in thought when she tries thinking about anything remotely difficult.”
“Shut up,” said Kazami as she sat up.
The towel fell from her face, so she placed it behind her.
She felt the weight of her steam-soaked hair, so she collapsed forward and dunked her head underwater.
After feeling the ticklishness of the warm water entering her ears, she straightened back up.
She let out a breath as the splashing and flowing water surrounded her.
As she brushed up her bangs and the water, she saw something floating in front of her.
“What’s with this duck? Ooki-sensei, bringing in toys is against the rules.”
“Eh? B-but I went to all the trouble of buying it at the convenience store with your underwear.”
What did the store clerk think? wondered Kazami as she turned to Ooki who was soaking up to her shoulders.
“It’s great being able to stretch out your legs.”
“Can’t you get a bigger bath at home?”
“No, no. I’m not that rich,” frantically denied the teacher.
Kazami smiled bitterly, sank down to her shoulders, and kicked off the tiles on the bottom to move backwards.
Ripples spread around her shoulders and neck and she looked up and to the right once her back reached the tiled edge.
“Aren’t you going to get in, Brunhild?”
“I’d catch your germs.”
Kazami almost replied to that blunt answer, but she tilted her head instead.
…Well, I guess she doesn’t want to end up like Ooki-sensei.
Ooki was in the center of the tub playing with a bucket and a rubber duck. The bath was large, so Kazami felt she should use more of the space to play.
…She could swim. Maybe dive in and swim to the other end.
She liked diving in on her back, but everyone had different preferences. It was also possible Ooki was only pretending to play to put them at ease after their battle.
Kazami mentally tilted her head and turned to Brunhild who still sat on the edge.
“Aren’t you going to get in?”
She asked again and Brunhild responded.
The girl gave a half-hearted sigh and completely averted her gaze.
“I just don’t feel like making friends with you.”
Kazami smiled and suddenly tugged on Brunhild’s legs to throw her into the tub.
As a splash of hot water rose into the air, Kazami stood up and shouted into the large echoing bath.
“Stop trying to act tough, you loser!! It’s over already!”
More water shot up as Brunhild stood.
The splashing sounds multiplied while she bristled her eyebrows and used both hands to sweep her long hair back.
“What!? Are you trying to start round two, you stupid girl!?”
Kazami replied by baring her teeth in a smile and snatching Brunhild’s towel.
She had left herself far too open while sweeping back her hair. Not to mention…
“Didn’t you see the sign!? Don’t get in the tub with a towel on!”
She lifted the girl’s slender body onto her shoulder and threw her down.
Brunhild rotated as she fell into the water and the towel was stripped from her. With the towel still on her shoulder, Kazami smiled and put her hands on her hips.
“Ha ha ha. What’s this about a round two? You don’t stand a chance.”
After about seven more laughs, Kazami noticed something odd.
She had yet to hear Brunhild come back up from the water.
Ooki also tilted her head in the middle of the tub.
“Did she drown?”
“I seriously doubt it,” answered an annoyed Kazami.
At the same time, she noticed something moving down at the bottom of the tub. She saw a wavering image of Brunhild at the tiles below Kazami’s own feet.
…Is that an oil crayon?
She was able to make out the black writing.
Kazami slipped backwards with no resistance and her back sank into the tub.
Sound grew muffled to tell her she was underwater and she quickly turned toward the floor while making sure not to swallow any water.
She saw the word “catapult” written on the tile floor.
Fired from within the water, Kazami crashed head-first into the tub’s inner wall.
An almost metallic sound filled the water, but it took her a second to realize it was the sound of her skull colliding with the tile.
“D-dammit! You’ve still got some fight in you, don’t you!?”
With a splash of water, Kazami stood up while holding her head.
She took in a breath, turned around, and saw Brunhild standing five meters away.
She approached the girl as if parting the water.
She puffed out her chest and stepped confrontationally in front of Brunhild.
“Are you sure you want to fight?”
She looked down on Brunhild’s head and into the tub.
She then coquettishly brushed her hair back with her right hand.
“Don’t think you have an advantage in an underwater battle just because your body creates less drag.”
“All you have is excess flesh and unnecessary muscle, you violent girl.”
Dammit. You’re just asking for a fight, aren’t you? thought Kazami. But fine.
…This is probably the last time we can do this.
In three more months, they would graduate and go their separate ways. And before that, they were only a few days from December 25 when they would have to decide whether to release the concepts or not.
The world might change then.
If that happened, this kind of exchange would probably become impossible.
With that in mind, Kazami looked down on Brunhild with a smile on her face.
“Excess flesh, hm? That just means I have plenty to spare. As long as it’s well-balanced, it doesn’t matter.”
“It’s all in how you say it, isn’t it? …It just means you’re evenly fat. Why not visit a butcher to help you out?”
“Oh, oh. The complaints of the needy are so wonderful. …If you don’t like being so flat, you just have to grow some more. Hm, but I guess that’s not possible in your case. Everything you eat goes straight to that argumentative brain of yours.”
She tapped Brunhild’s head and gave a sympathetic smile, so Brunhild clenched her teeth.
Brunhild showed off her canines and grabbed Kazami’s hand.
“Are you picking a fight with 1st-Gear?”
Kazami looked up with a serious look on her face and saluted.
“Ma’am, you want to know if I am picking a fight with 1st-Gear? Are all women from 1st-Gear lacking in the chest department? If so, then I am indeed picking a fight with all of 1st-Gear.”
“Sh-shut up, you idiotic girl!!”
Brunhild pushed away Kazami’s hand and pointed at her face.
“If you think my body is lacking, then your brain is lacking! You…tiny-brained woman!”
“Then are you large-brained?”
“That’s right. My brain is well-endowed while yours is flat as a board! I’ll call you flat-brained for short!”
Wow, this took a weird turn, thought Kazami as she tried to remain calm.
…If I get fired up too, we’ll just be exchanging insults.
“Hmph! You don’t have anything to say to that, do you? I guess I shouldn’t have expected a functioning brain from someone with such a stupid guy!”
That fired Kazami up. Her brain shifted up about three gears.
“This has nothing to do with Kaku! You and your poor, dried-up chest need to leave Kaku out of this!”
As she shouted, she sent countless horizontal chops against Brunhild’s chest.
“Oh, what’s this!? Miss Kazami is sending out a storm of chops! They sound wonderful against that perfectly flat chest!”
Brunhild ducked below the chops and held her hands out. Oh, no, thought Kazami.
“Why you…!! Slap, slap, slap! It must be a pain having these things that can’t even avoid a slap!!”
Kazami soon grabbed Brunhild’s slapping hands.
They tried to claw at each other’s hands and slammed their foreheads together.
They both let out a growl and Brunhild looked up at Kazami.
“What are you going to do about the Leviathan Road!?”
Kazami gained strength from those echoing words, so she took a single breath before replying.
“What are you going to do about 1st-Gear!?”
“Hah! We’ll manage somehow! You’re the ones that aren’t up to the task! And after you acted so self-important and hit me! …The Gears are all pretty shaken and you still have to deal with Top-Gear, don’t you!? What are you going to do!?”
“We’ll manage somehow, too!”
Kazami sank down grabbed Brunhild’s stomach from the front and performed a front suplex.
She often used this technique against her classmates in the bath. For someone with breasts, a German suplex was best, but it had to be a front suplex with Brunhild.
She snatched the girl’s skinny body from the tub and water splashed into the air.
“Besides, Team Leviathan is a special unit put together to complete the Leviathan Road! So if anyone tries to stop the Leviathan Road, we’ll take them on, no matter who they are!!”
“Even if that looks like refusing to admit your crimes!?”
Kazami did not care, so she held Brunhild up high and gave a casual comment.
“Sayama is always thinking about that. Even when negotiating.”
“S-so you’re just not going to think about it!? That’s called shoving your problems onto others!”
Was it because she was not thinking that this protest had no effect on her?
“You see,” began Kazami. “Everyone has their strong points and weak points and they all have their jobs. So he handles the negotiations while I handle punching people.”
She took a breath and felt Brunhild’s tension while holding her.
“I’m all for shoving this onto someone else. Nothing good would ever come from letting me handle the negotiations.”
“It’s simple. We will fight and Sayama will negotiate. So once we settle all the fighting, it’s time for negotiating, right? And we will be the winners. Testament. If you understand that…”
Kazami quickly bent back.
“Let your brain muscles loosen up a bit!!”
A suplex dropped the target without throwing them, so they made a perfect arc with beautiful hang time.
She stepped on the “banana peel” and they both fell on the “catapult”.
They both instantly collided with the submerged wall.
Two dull sounds filled the bath and they moved apart and stood with much splashing.
“…! If you’re going to throw me, at least do it right! You brain really is dried up!”
“Why don’t you get rid of your writing once you’re done with it, Miss Breast-Starved!?”
They yelled at each other and slammed their foreheads together again, but a voice reached them from the side.
“C’mon, you two. Calm down already. Other people are going to be using this place later. And it isn’t good to talk about people’s brains or breasts.”
Ooki moved over while unsteadily parting the water.
Kazami and Brunhild clicked their tongues, stopped moving, and turned to Ooki without separating their foreheads.
Everything from Ooki’s waist and up was visible above the water and the woman brushed back her wet hair.
Drops of water curved as they trailed down her and produced small ripples in the tub.
Kazami looked at Ooki’s silhouette.
…She has me beat in both shape and balance.
Brunhild was likely thinking the same thing. Live for eternity, oh mother world tree.
Oblivious to the girls’ thoughts, Ooki tilted her head.
“Did I do something wrong?”
Kazami and Brunhild looked to her face, looked down a bit as if nodding, observed for about five seconds, and exchanged a glance.
“Yes, we have a new enemy.”
“Wh-where?” asked the teacher.
“Well, you see,” said Kazami before taking a breath.
Next, she smiled and worked with Brunhild to throw Ooki just right of the tub’s center.
The tatami mats were hard in winter and they felt somehow tight.
The large table holding the tea cakes was cold and hard.
The room was large, the ceiling was high, and the fluorescent light was white. It all helped draw out that hard sensation.
The red light of the stove in front of the room’s western sliding screens was the only source of heat.
Three gazes looked to that light.
One sat on the hallway side of the table and the other two sat on the yard side.
The owner of the hallway-side gaze was a girl wearing a kimono and with a hair band in her black hair. Her left leg was extended and resting on a cushion because it was wrapped in bandages.
A look to her face showed the ends of her eyebrows were lowered.
She hesitated before scooting forward from the stove.
A black-haired individual in a school uniform and a boy in a suit were looking to the stove.
“What do you have to say, Shino-kun?”
The boy called her name.
Shino was unsure what he meant or how she should reply.
The individual in the school uniform turned toward the boy with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“Sayama-kun? You’re only going to trouble her if that’s all you say.”
“Really? I was merely asking what she thought of these tea cakes. …Shinjou-kun, what is the meaning of that fist?”
As he spoke, Sayama pushed a plate of teacakes toward Shino.
He placed a karinto on a smaller plate and set Baku on the table next to it.
“We are not going to harm you in any way. As Kouji said, you are currently a guest of the Tamiya family. And…”
Shino listened to his words.
Meanwhile, Sayama watched Baku holding the karinto between his front paws.
“Sorry, please wait a moment.”
She watched as Sayama looked around the room.
Shinjou also looked to him and tilted her head, so he had to be acting on something only he had noticed. Currently, he was slowly looking across the ceiling.
“It looks like the room has been cleared.”
“Eh? Yes, Kouji arranged for everyone to leave.”
Sayama stepped on a tatami mat.
The edge of the mat shot up and a long spear rose up.
Shino watched in confusion as Sayama grabbed the spear.
“I used to play ‘whac-a-creep’ against my grandfather. When that old man was about to lose, he would try stabbing me with the spear, so I would throw him into the gator pond.”
As he spoke, he suddenly moved.
He stabbed the entire spear tip into the ceiling.
It audibly pierced the wood, Shino watched with her mouth hanging blankly open, and Shinjou watched with a troubled smile.
“Sayama-kun, what if someone really was peeping and you hit them?”
“The torso is eight points, the head is ten, the limbs are five, and the vitals are twenty, Shinjou-kun.”
He pulled out the spear and looked at the tip.
“There’s nothing on it, Sayama-kun.”
“Look more closely. Someone has wiped off the blade. This was the work of a true ninja.”
Sayama sounded impressed, nodded thrice, and stabbed the blade back into the ceiling for a surprise attack.
“Eeeeeeek!” shouted the ceiling. “I was too slow and gave him five points!!”
Unsatisfied with only five points, Sayama immediately stabbed a different point in the ceiling. Several shouts and many footsteps or sounds of crawling fled above the ceiling.
“Brother! Brother! The young master’s serious! Spying here is no game!”
“Ha ha ha. Don’t be silly. Don’t they say to treat your games like work and your work like a game!?”
“Wow, you’re so smart, brother! That means you could die from a game, doesn’t- poh!?”
The end of the sentence changed once Sayama made another stab.
“Ha ha ha ha,” he said. “Looks like we have a large audience tonight!”
“Ah wah wah wah wah! You’re gonna stab me! Stop! You’re gonna stab me! Stop! Stop stabbing! St-st-st-stop-st-st-stab-st-st-st- wait!”
“Ahhh! He got Shingo!! Pwah!!”
“Ahhh, Takeshi too!? He’s up to 28 points! Pwaaah!!”
Sayama pursued the fleeing and screaming footsteps while continuing to stab. He finally ran to a sliding screen.
“Excuse me, you two. I will be right back after stabbing some people away. …Shinjou-kun, you speak in my stead. You will want to know the same things I do.”
He opened the screen with his foot and ran down the hallway, stabbing the ceiling all the while.
Shino faced forward while listening to the screams and frantic voices muffled by the ceiling.
She realized Shinjou had the exact same expression on her face.
However, Shinjou recovered more quickly.
Her eyes came into focus and her mind returned to the real world.
Drawn in by that, Shino also recovered.
Her mind came back and she watched Shinjou sigh and hang her head.
As if to calm herself, Shinjou bit into a yatsuhashi and took a sip of tea.
She then looked up and faced Shino with little strength in her eyebrows.
“Um, sorry about that. I really don’t understand the strange customs of this house.”
The sounds of stabbing and running grew more distant in the hallway behind Shino.
“Now, where should we start speaking? For both our sakes.”
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