Owari no Chronicle:Volume1 Chapter 1
It was probably at that moment
When that which had been stopped
Began moving once more
—To me, trying to find or soothe oneself is nothing more than an illusion.
Chapter 1: Sayama’s Beginning
The privilege of those who know themselves
Is being able to restrict oneself
There is no more relying on others
Below the blue sky were two rows of blossoming cherry trees.
The road between those two rows led to a cement wall surrounding a large area of land. The stone gatepost at the opening to the west was inscribed with the words “Taka-Akita Academy”.
The schedule posted on the gate read “spring break” and the gate itself sat open with no one to pass through.
Once one passed through the gate, the central road continued with the cherry trees on either side.
These trees were in full bloom as well. Continuing further led to a half hectare general sports ground to the right and a martial arts facility as large as a great hall to the left.
Continuing straight on led not to a school building but to a faculty building.
The school buildings were lined up in all four compass points with the faculty building at the center. This was all one school, but other than the six general school buildings, it was broken down by specialization. To provide a proper environment, some of the school buildings were surrounded by rows of trees, but others had a research plant equipped with a silo or an asphalt course for test driving.
The buildings built very nearby those school buildings were the student dormitories.
This school took up the area that would cover three-fourths of a city. It had a few shopping districts, farms, and factories on the grounds and a lot of the city’s people lived inside it.
And every facility within possessed a certain mark.
It was the mark of IAI, the Izumo Aviation Institute. IAI supported this academy city.
However, the academy was nearly deserted during spring break.
This was even true for the western general school buildings nearest the main gate.
A single figure could be seen at the 2nd year general education building just north of the faculty building.
A boy stood on the 2nd story landing of the emergency staircase.
Despite it being spring break, the boy wore his school uniform, blazer and all, and the buttons of his shirt were buttoned all the way up to the collar.
His hair was slicked back and a single stripe of white could be seen on either side. Below that hair were sharp eyes and a sharp face.
He was looking up into the sky.
Floating in the blue sky were thin white clouds and the shadow of an airplane making a wide curve through the air.
“So the American soldiers at Yokota are not taking a break either. They also prefer high places like me. And they too do not return home even when they have the chance,” he said.
He swung up his left arm and the sleeve slid down. A white scar could be seen on his left fist and he wore a woman’s ring on the middle finger. A silver wristwatch was also revealed on his left wrist. The hands pointed to 2:30 PM.
He pulled a single piece of paper from his pocket.
“Sayama Mikoto-sama. To complete the transfer of rights left with us by your grandfather, the late Sayama Kaoru-shi, we ask that you visit the Okutama IAI General Tokyo Facility on March 30 at 6 PM.”
It was an invitation. That simple text was followed by an IAI map and the name of the one inviting Sayama.
“IAI section chief, Ooshiro Kazuo, hm?”
…The old man, hm?
When Sayama’s grandfather had died, that elderly man had been the first to come rushing over for the funeral. The tall, gray-haired man always wore a white coat at IAI. The two of them would speak every once in a while and the man seemed to enjoy it when Sayama called him “old man”.
But as Sayama looked at the invitation, he muttered, “My grandfather was a corporate blackmailer, so what rights could he have had at IAI?”
He turned around to find the emergency exit and the wall. The aluminum door was polished, but the wall was dirty with sand and dust. Out of sudden curiosity, he approached the wall and touched it. The sand came off and stuck to his finger.
Just as he wiped off his finger, the emergency exit moved a bit.
A young woman in personal clothes poked her head out through the slight opening. As the bangs of her short brown hair waved, her blue eyes turned in the direction Sayama had been not long before. “Huh?” she said and tilted her head.
Sayama said, “Over here, Ooki-sensei. You must have a lot of free time to be at school during spring break.”
Hearing that, the woman named Ooki frowned and turned around.
“I was sleeping and-…wait, the same goes for you. Are you trying to fully enjoy your youth by staring into the sky in a place like this? Also, Sayama-kun.”
“What is it? If you have a question, then out with it.”
“Okay, my first question: Why do you speak like that to your teacher?”
“That is my acting style. You lose as soon as you question it, Ooki-sensei. Now, any other questions?”
“Okay, my second question: If I punch a student during spring break does it count as school violence?”
“It does not matter as long as no one finds out. So who are you planning to punch? This must be quite a troublemaker if they can anger you.”
“And my final question: …Have you ever looked in a mirror?”
“I use one for a good long time every day. You really do like asking such obvious questions.”
“I was an idiot to try asking questions to someone filled with such originality. In fact, are you sure that acting style is okay?”
In response to that annoyed comment, Sayama removed his hand from the wall and swiped it forcefully through the air. The cloth of the sleeve let out a noise.
“Do not worry. I act this way to everyone. I intend to head down that path in the future, after all. It may be selfish of me, but I do not want people to say I suddenly started acting full of myself when I grow up. …This may give you some trouble though.”
Ooki’s neck relaxed and she gave a bitter smile at that last line.
“You should probably say that last part to the other teachers as well. Oh, but it seems I will be your homeroom teacher next year as well.”
“So you managed to get one of the best students in your class. Excellent work for a newcomer teacher with little authority.”
“Would you sympathize with me if I told you the other teachers were forcing the excellent but overly individual students on me?”
Sayama placed a hand on Ooki’s shoulder and nodded with a completely serious expression.
“If you seek sympathy, it is all over for you, Ooki-sensei. Although you may be almost there already.”
“Sorry, this is irritating me, so it would be nice if you would stop.” Ooki walked out onto the emergency staircase with her eyes half closed. She scratched at her head and said, “Talking with you really exhausts me. You take everything so seriously.”
Sayama gave a slight smile at that.
“You don’t? But you were elected vice president in the student council election and your grades are excellent.”
“True,” said Sayama with a nod. He folded his arms and thought for a bit. Three seconds later, “I have never once gotten serious. …I just can’t make myself want to.”
Sayama ignored Ooki’s questioning voice and shrugged.
“Then again, everything I run across in school ends before I even have a chance to get serious. I was once scolded by my grandfather. He told me not to settle for being the ruler of a small place.”
“I see,” said Ooki with a nod. She leaned up against the emergency staircase landing’s railing. “Your grandfather was an amazing person. Compared to him, I can see where you are coming from.”
“Yes. Compared to my grandfather who would give Japan’s economy a nice smack from the shadows, the vice president of this academy city is nothing.”
“It’s more than nothing.”
“But it is true I have never actually tested myself. During the race for vice president, my opponent grew so desperate by the end that he even danced around naked in an attempt to gain more popularity. He was simply no match for me.”
“Were you the one that fired a bottle rocket at his butt while he was performing that nude dance?”
“No, that was Izumo while he was crushing everyone else in the presidential race. He even used a metal pipe as a gun barrel to increase his accuracy. Not something you would expect of a third year.”
“In that case, I won’t ask who blew up the stage afterwards…”
“That would be for the best. Are you gradually learning how to get along in life, Ooki-sensei?”
“Yes, yes. But I’m starting to get worried about being the next advisor for the student council…” Ooki frowned and sighed before continuing. “Is school really that boring to you?”
Sayama stopped moving when he heard that.
He turned his gaze to meet that of Ooki’s blue eyes.
After a short pause, he gave a small shake of the head.
“I have no complaints with the school. It is true the student council election and the tests are all such small things that I do not need to grow serious about. However, that does not mean school is boring. It is only natural to feel that school is a small place. And I think that school has its own unique things to enjoy.”
“What a complicated child…”
After falling silent for a short while, Ooki bent her back over the railing she was leaning against and looked up into the sky.
Meanwhile, Sayama glanced at his watch. It was 2:50.
“Ooki-sensei, I think I should get back to my dorm soon.”
“Are you leaving soon?”
“Yes. After changing into a suit, I need to receive something similar to my grandfather’s will.”
Sayama opened the emergency exit. Ooki frantically got up from the railing and charged through the open door. Sayama also entered the school building as he closed the door.
Sayama walked through the hallway alongside Ooki. The last school newspaper of the year was attached to the classroom-side wall. The First PR Club put out the paper weekly. It generally carried articles related to IAI and this issue contained the school’s employment rate to IAI as well as a few other pieces of news.
Ooki stopped as she looked over at an article at her eyelevel which was one level below Sayama’s.
“They have detected an extrasolar star system with a high probability of being habitable. …That’s amazing!”
“It’s only been discovered. Just looking at this article will tell you how difficult a problem anything further would be.”
Sayama pointed at another article. The article’s photograph showed a giant pile of machinery lying collapsed on a large area of asphalt.
“According to this, they created an 8-meter-tall bipedal robot and it failed spectacularly. The joints were made too weak so its knees broke just from walking. …No matter what we may discover, it means nothing if we do not have the technology to use it.”
“Hm. So it’s the same as spotting a good-looking girl but not knowing how to talk to her.”
“I am glad you are so wise. Is that something you told yourself as an excuse?”
“Well, last Christmas, some of my friends and I…wait, no.”
When Ooki said that, Sayama realized she was looking up at his face.
Why is she staring? he wondered.
“Is it that rare to see me smile?”
“No, it’s not that it’s rare. It’s interesting.”
Ooki began walking once more. Sayama followed.
Ooki asked, “Can I ask you about your grandfather?”
“Of course,” replied Sayama.
He had nothing to hide.
And so he spoke. He talked about a lot as they walked.
He told her how his grandfather had left the war during World War 2 and had begun researching something.
“And it seems the Izumo Aviation Institute was involved at the time. After the war, he used the connections and discoveries he had made as a base to set out into the financial world and become a corporate blackmailer.”
“A corporate blackmailer, hm?”
“He did a lot of pretty horrible things. …Every time he was in the newspaper, he would give the following line.”
Ooki nodded and cut in.
“ ‘The surname Sayama indicates a villain’, right? I saw it once in a weekly magazine.”
“That’s right. My grandfather was a villain through and through. When he saw some giant opponent as an enemy or evil, he would fight them by becoming an even greater evil. And…that is also why I do not want to grow serious about anything.”
“I am inexperienced. ‘The surname Sayama indicates a villain.’ My grandfather always told me my abilities were meant to perform necessary evils. However, I lost him when all he had taught me was how to do it.”
“So… You don’t know when the evil you perform is truly necessary?”
“Yes. I do not want to die, so there may be times when I will get serious. However, growing serious when I cannot tell if it is truly necessary is a frightening thing.”
As he spoke, Sayama suddenly brought his right hand to the left side of his chest.
As he brought his hand inside his coat and held his chest, Ooki spoke without turning toward him.
“It sounds like you have it tough in your own way.”
“Yes,” he nodded.
“Then can I ask you about your father?”
“I never asked last year despite being your homeroom teacher, and…” The ends of her eyebrows lowered. “I think this is part of a teacher’s job.”
Sayama nodded as he lightly held the left side of his chest. After taking a breath, he spoke.
“There is nothing to worry about. It is a simple issue. More importantly, how much do you know, Ooki-sensei? I am curious.”
Ooki glanced upwards and folded her arms.
“Your father was adopted by your grandfather and he entered IAI at the same time as your mother. However, he was killed in the great Kansai earthquake at the end of 95. Your mother, um, well, brought you with her and-…”
Ooki trailed off and Sayama smiled bitterly.
“Before I tell you not to worry about it, I need to correct some of that. My father died as a secondary casualty of the earthquake when he was sent by IAI for earthquake relief.”
Sayama took a breath. He held up his empty left hand. That scarred left fist had a women’s ring on the middle finger. The pearl decoration glittered a bit in the dimly lit hallway.
Ooki turned to look at it as she walked.
However, Sayama also looked at the ring instead of looking at her.
“Go where those precious to you are waiting, hm?”
As his words deepened, Sayama felt as if something was moving within the left side of his chest.
It was pain.
And it felt like his chest was creaking.
It was coming.
And then Sayama saw Ooki looking up at him with her face completely pale.
“Sayama-kun. A-are you okay?”
He tried to answer “yes”, but he realized he was not breathing. When his body bent forward, he realized someone had suddenly started to support his chest.
Ooki had caught him from below.
When he heard Ooki say that, all of his body’s senses returned.
He first felt exhaustion. He then felt he could breathe again and sweat poured from his back and legs.
He brought strength to his legs to stand up, but Ooki was still lightly holding her arms out toward him.
“A-are you okay?”
“I am fine.”
“Really? Okay? You are okay?”
“I am okay, but that is not correct English.” His body was now obviously returning to normal. He nodded and said, “I am fine, so do not worry. It seems I get stress-induced anginas from this topic.”
“Then why did you agree to talk about it?”
“Didn’t you say you wanted to know? You truly are a horrible teacher if you forgot that.”
“Oh, but , um…”
As Ooki began frantically waving her hands in denial, Sayama smiled again.
“What are you trying to deny? Think about it. I am free to say what I want. And you are free to support me when I fall. I would say you performed the better deed here. Don’t you agree? But let me say one thing.” Sayama removed his right hand from his chest. “My mother would often tell me she hoped I could do something one day. I have to wonder if she ever did anything. And now the child raised hearing that has no idea what he can do. And so I must ask: what should I do?”
“I see… So you do not know what you can do.” Ooki nodded and her shoulders drooped. She looked up at Sayama and earnestly said, “I finally understand why you are so extreme about everything.”
“I cannot overlook that. Who are you calling extreme?”
“What? You didn’t hear me? I said it quite clearly. Is that a nose on the side of your head?”
Sayama’s left hand gave a lightning-fast flick against the forehead that had asked that question so seriously.
“Eeee,” groaned Ooki as she crouched down.
Sayama brought a hand to his chin and said, “Some teachers can say truly horrible things about their students.”
In the end, Sayama did not leave his dorm until past four.
It had taken time to put on the three-piece suit he had inherited from his grandfather and to prepare the seal and digital recording device needed for official records. He wrote down his time of departure at the dorm’s reception desk and left.
The sun was still in the sky.
He walked through the gravel clearing located between the general school buildings and the dorm. It normally functioned as a faculty parking lot. He was headed toward the main gate.
As he cut behind the second year general school building as a shortcut, he heard baby birds singing in the trees.
As he listened, Sayama heard two sounds other than the chirping of the birds.
The first was organ music coming from the music room on the second story of the school building.
He recalled occasionally hearing it on the weekends. However, this was the first time he had been able to determine exactly where it was coming from. He wondered who was playing it, but it was so perfectly played that he assumed it was not a student.
And as the organ music played, another sound could be heard approaching.
It was the sound of a motorcycle engine. Specifically, the low tone of a 4-stroke.
As he heard that noise coming from the direction of the main gate, Sayama muttered, “Izumo and Kazami.”
He then walked out to the asphalt road west of the school building.
He looked out toward the faculty building, the vast sports ground, and the martial arts facility. He spotted two people riding a motorcycle appearing out from the side of the faculty building. Despite the large amount of exhaust, the black touring motorcycle moved smoothly along the road.
Aboard the motorcycle were a well-built young man wearing a thin brown coat and a girl with semi-short hair and carrying a black rucksack. The back bared by the girl’s white sleeveless top pointed in Sayama’s direction.
The two were chatting while riding the motorcycle.
Suddenly, the young man noticed Sayama. A friendly smile appeared on his fairly long face.
“Hey,” he said with a raised hand.
He then stopped the motorcycle next to Sayama.
The young man was over 180 cm tall and broad-shouldered, so he supported the weight of the heavy motorcycle with his leg.
The girl swayed gently and rested up against the young man’s back.
The young man smiled with the girl leaning up against him.
He looked up and said, “Where do you think you’re going, Sayama you idiot? To go spew insults at someone?”
Sayama brought a hand to his forehead and sighed.
With a troubled tone of voice, he said, “Izumo, unlike you, my brain is working properly. And I have never spewed insults at anyone, you sick bastard.”
“Sure, sure. Thanks for keeping up your acting style even during spring break.”
“No need to thank me. But should the three top members of the student council really be having this sort of conversation?”
The young man, Izumo, smiled bitterly at that.
“Of course not,” he agreed.
The girl leaning on his back turned their way.
“Sayama, you’re going to IAI, right?”
“Yes, I am. Kazami, Izumo. What about you two?”
“I was just headed back to the dorm to have some fun with Chisato…kh!”
As he spoke, Izumo’s head twisted upwards. The girl named Kazami had grabbed at Izumo’s head and jaw from behind. A delicate sound came from Izumo’s neck and he gently fell backwards.
“Kaku, that is not what he asked. Sayama wanted to know where we had been.”
Izumo’s head came to rest on top of Kazami’s thighs and he stopped moving.
“There, there,” said Kazami as she stroked his head. She then showed Sayama the black rucksack next to her and smiled.
“We went into the city. We bought some clothes, new music, and other stuff for the All Holiday Festival. Being on the edge of Tokyo really makes you forget all about culture.”
“…I see. But you two are third years and you live together, right?”
The girl, Kazami, thought for a bit looking troubled, but then spoke.
“Well, that’s how it turned out. Now, when I try to mingle with the others, they’re overly cautious about how they treat me. My role in the dorm has become that of an older sister. An underclassman even apologized just for passing by me in the hall.”
“Your face seems to be turning to cement.”
Kazami turned her head down, said “Oh, sorry”, and relaxed her shoulders. She casually clapped a hand against Izumo who was lying motionless on her thighs.
“Don’t turn into an idiot like him, okay? He abuses his authority as the son of IAI.”
“It seems to me you are enjoying that abuse quite a lot.”
“I know that, and that’s why it angers me so much. He needs to at least take his student council job seriously.” Kazami raised her head to look Sayama in the eye. “Oh, right. Sayama, I was thinking of having our first student council job for the term in the 2nd year school building’s Kinugasa Library. Do you have time? The three of us can make some plans for the All Holiday Festival and Invitation Festival in the spring.”
“I have to head out today and I do not know how late I will be back.”
“We’re leaving for the city again tomorrow afternoon, so how about 9 AM tomorrow in the Kinugasa Library?”
“I can do that,” agreed Sayama. He glanced over at the school building next to them. “The Kinugasa Library, hm?”
On the western side of the second year general school building’s ground floor, an area four classroom’s length across was sticking out. It stuck out about the width of a classroom. Inside this space was an area equal to eight classrooms.
A look in the windows would show the backs of wooden panels. These thick wooden panels created the silhouettes of bookshelves.
The room was a library.
Almost the entire eight classroom space was filled with books and the hallway and basement had been used for extra book storage. That was the Kinugasa Library.
As Sayama glanced toward the library’s window, he heard Kazami speaking.
“The library created by the school’s founder isn’t a bad place for our first job, right? The librarian, old man Siegfried, may be unsociable, but he does put out tea. We used that place a fair bit during the election, so I was thinking we could continue to use it as our base.”
“This year’s treasurer certainly is different.”
“I think the president and vice president will be quite different as well. But what do you think? Are upperclassmen like us suitable for someone as prideful as you?”
“I think that statement alone shows you can compete with me when it comes to pride. …But at the very least, there is no one in this school who is better suited. Izumo Kaku, the son of IAI which supports this city of Akigawa, and Kazami Chisato, the girl who shares a room with him, are true problem children.”
“There is no way you two are ignorant of what the world says about you. I respect you for your ability to continue acting like this regardless.”
Hearing that, Kazami showed off her teeth slightly and looked down at Izumo who lay on her legs.
“Well, it doesn’t matter what people say. Kaku may cause problems, but he is not a bad person.”
“The same goes for you, Kazami.”
“Then what about you, Mr. Family of Villains?” Kazami raised her head to look at Sayama. She glanced up and down his suit. “You look good enough, but you make things difficult.”
“In what way?”
“I’m having difficulty imagining who would stand next to you. I can’t imagine someone to balance out your idiocy like Kaku is for me.”
“There is no one out there with enough power to handle me on an equal footing.”
“That isn’t what I mean.” Kazami gave a troubled smile. She lightly waved her hand front and back. “I’m talking about balance. Equals can only stand on the same side of the scales, right? You need a counterbalance.”
Sayama thought on the meaning of Kazami’s words.
And, “Someone like that would either be an opposing force or a hindrance.”
“So am I an opposing force or hindrance to Kaku?”
That question was spoken with a small smile. Sayama relaxed his shoulders.
“I do not know the answer to that, so I cannot argue about it with someone like you who does know the answer.”
“Oh, how honest.”
“I am an honest person, Kazami. It is just that, for some odd reason, I seem to end up in trouble for it from time to time. Is this what they mean when they say an honest man will look a fool? Yes, our ancestors said some excellent things.”
“Okay, sure. If that’s how you want to view it in your personal universe, I won’t stop you.”
Sayama smiled bitterly at that. He exchanged a glance with Kazami and spoke.
“Fine, then. I will admit relationships like yours and Izumo’s exist. However, I am doubtful the same could happen to me. I also think it is a problem to even think about placing someone like that next to me.”
“The surname Sayama indicates a villain. What do you put next to evil?”
Kazami had no answer to that. She only let her shoulders droop and sighed.
“You really are a complicated person.”
“Ooki-sensei said the same thing earlier.”
“Everyone thinks it. We also wonder when exactly you will get serious about something.”
“I have never done it, so I couldn’t say. …And if I did, I am so inexperienced I would likely be afraid of myself.”
“…You really are complicated, Sayama.”
“You do not need to repeat yourself,” said Sayama with a smile before lightly tapping Izumo’s back where he lay unmoving as if asleep. “You’re awake, right? Hurry on back and dive headfirst into your unrestrained lifestyle.”
“Eh?” muttered Kazami as she looked down.
Izumo opened his eyes.
“No, not ‘hey’. If you came to, why didn’t you get up?”
“You smell really good, Chisato.”
Izumo’s eyes bent upwards happily as Kazami blushed.
“Ha,” laughed Sayama before patting Kazami on the shoulder, turning his back, and walking off.
He continued toward the main gate.
As he did, he noticed a new figure.
Someone was walking down the stairs from the second floor of the 2nd year general school building.
It was a tall elderly man. He wore a black vest, black trousers, and black gloves. He was bald and had a beard.
“Siegfried Zonburg, the librarian.”
Sayama had spoken with him a few times during his student council work. The man used only the bare minimum of words.
“You do not often see him outside of the Kinugasa Library,” he muttered before continuing on.
He looked around once more and saw nothing but the scenery of the school near the peak of spring.
“Such a peaceful place…”
Behind him, he heard repeated sounds of flesh being struck followed by screams from Izumo.
The sun was setting in the west.
Below that setting sun, even a forest surrounded by mountains had light passing through it like wind.
The forest was primarily made up of cedars. A single figure was fallen in front of one of those trees.
The figure was sitting on the ground.
This middle-aged man sat such that the sun shined on him from the side. His close-cropped hair was wet with something so it reflected the sun. The liquid wetting his hair dripped down his forehead and dyed the left half of his face a dark color.
His clothes resembled a white and black military uniform. However, the left shoulder and left leg of that uniform had split open and something dark could be seen flowing out as he breathed erratically.
He stretched out his left hand and scratched at the ground. With the blood in his eyes, he might as well have been blind. His left hand wandered across the ground.
Eventually, he managed to pick something up from between the rocks and fallen leaves.
It was a long gun made of metal. The side was engraved with something written in German.
He embraced the gun tightly and took a deep breath. He stuck a finger into the pouch on his right hip.
“This is Tsuurin Daiichi. My current location is in the mountains near Point 3 between Okutama and Shiromaru. I succeeded in preventing the single enemy from escaping. I successfully read the enemy’s string vibration and sent it in. Currently…everyone but me has been taken out. Please hurry.”
A staticky voice replied from near his throat. It was a female voice.
“Testament. The special division is on their way. We will send aid for you as well, so withdraw.”
“Tes. …Or so I’d like to say. Unfortunately, my leg was taken out. And my healing tools and spells were destroyed along with it. I only have my favorite weapon left to rely on. …When I asked you to hurry, I meant the special division, not aid for me.” He took a deep breath while sweating profusely. “The enemy is from a faction of 1st-Gear’s revolutionary army. Yes, a werewolf from the second royal palace faction. He likely came for negotiations with the pacifist faction. He must have had a 1st-Gear philosopher’s stone because he turned into a wolf in this real world.”
“Do not speak. The concept space will be deployed in another five minutes.”
“Ha ha. Make it so a silver bullet will work. Also, young girl…or is it young lady? Anyway, you don’t think this is our fault, do you?”
He was met with silence. He cast his eyes down before continuing.
“Fine. It was our mistake for deciding to go. In the standard division, we have the right to choose…right?”
Once again, he received only silence. Yet he did not stop.
“What unit are you from? Even in the special division, not many units have women in them. But I think there was one put together recently. A unit filled with beautiful UCAT-raised girls and women. I think it was the IAI-…”
He stopped speaking. His eyes opened wide and he stood up by using the tree behind him as a support.
“Hey, when I get back, meet me with flowers. It’ll be a triumphant return. What’s in bloom this time of year?”
“Testament. I think Primula modesta and the like are.”
“No, you’re supposed to say you are.”
He laughed and removed his right hand from the pouch. He moved the long gun from his left hand to his right. He bit the strap, used the stock and grip in his right hand to create three points of support, and faced forward.
He heard wind ahead of him.
A large shadow could be seen in the setting sun shining on the mountain. It was slowly approaching while swaying back and forth.
There was no sign. He simply followed the sound of the wind and squeezed the trigger.
A gunshot travelled across the forest along with the light of the setting sun.
Sayama opened his eyes aboard a train running through the mountains on the way to Okutama.
He had dozed off due to the setting sun shining on his seated back. And he had woken up due to…
“The train has stopped?”
He glanced around the train. The only passengers besides himself were two people seated a short distance away.
One was a white-haired man wearing a black suit. The other was a white-haired girl wearing black clothes and seated next to him. They may have been father and daughter and they were looking outside the opposite window.
Sayama followed their gaze out the window.
There he found the mountains of Okutama. They were all formed from round shapes and no small hills could be seen.
“So we are around the second tunnel near Shiromaru. Only one more stop to Okutama.”
He was familiar with the terrain here. He continued speaking while looking out at those similar-looking mountains.
“This is thanks to Hiba-sensei forcing me to run through these mountains.”
…If I had not learned the land, I would not have been found until spring.
Sayama nodded and looked down at his left hand. His skin was white around the bones of his fist as if something had scattered across it. His eyes turned toward the ring on the middle finger of that scarred fist.
“It was also around here that we got out of the car when my mother took me with her back then…” he muttered.
According to his watch, it was 5:30 PM. He was to be at IAI at 6:00 PM.
When he calculated the time, his heart seemed to stiffen. He stood up, raised his suit collar to fix it with a snapping noise, and approached the two other passengers. The white-haired man raised his head. The man was wearing sunglasses, but Sayama could tell the man was looking at him. Sayama gave a quick bow.
“Excuse me. Why is the train stopped?”
“It received a stop signal. Once it is released, it will return to Shiromaru.”
The man’s tone had a bit of amusement mixed in and Sayama realized he was younger than he looked. Sayama had initially assumed he was elderly, but a closer look showed he was only just entering middle age.
The girl next to him wore the black dress and white apron of a maid. She was not the man’s daughter.
…I had heard the ownership of a lot of the mountains around here stretches way back.
Sayama noticed the girl was holding a staff. It was a metal cane that could be attached to the wrist. It was clearly too long for her to use. However, Sayama ended his investigation of them here. He needed to know something else.
“Why is this train returning?”
“Maybe there was an accident.”
“I see,” nodded Sayama, realizing the man must not know the details either.
Suddenly, the girl sitting next to the man looked up at Sayama. With her eyebrows lying flat and no discernible expression on her face, her black eyes that were almost purple peered deep into Sayama’s eyes.
She took a breath and then opened her mouth.
“My apologies,” she said in a low, fairly mature voice.
“Think nothing of it,” said Sayama before turning his back on the two of them.
He opened the opposite window and heard the same voice as before from behind him.
“Are you getting out?”
“I cannot go back. Also, someone is waiting for me.”
“You are being hasty. The train might soon continue forward. Once you regret a decision, it is too late to turn back.”
“I do not know what god of advice you are, but let me tell you something. A decision can lead to joy just as easily as it can regret. I appreciate your concern, but I know this land. And is there anything truly dangerous in this world?”
“True… That is very true. There is no danger in this world,” said the man before closing his mouth in a smile below the sunglasses.
As soon as the man spread his legs out from the seat, Sayama stuck his legs out the window and jumped out.
He landed on the gravel supporting the railroad. He ran out into the open air and onto the mountainside bathed in the light of the setting sun.
Sayama did not turn back toward the train up the slope from him. He continued through the forest spreading out before him.
He trampled the underbrush as he headed down the mountain.
After only a few breaths, he sank into the shadows produced by the forest. The setting sun coming from the side and the branches of the trees drew a grid of shadows across him. This light and air were familiar to him.
“It’s been two years since I stopped coming to Okutama. I suppose the Hiba Dojo is still around.”
As he muttered that comment, he heard a metallic noise from behind him.
A whistle sounded and the train began to move. He heard it move up toward Shiromaru. The sound of the receding wheels told Sayama he had made the right decision.
“Good,” he said with a nod as he quickened his pace.
Shiromaru Station was an unmanned train station.
When the train came to a stop, the few passengers disinterestedly exited onto the long, narrow platform.
A short distance away from those bored individuals were the two people Sayama had spoken to just before.
The white-haired man held the cane in one hand as he stood next to a card-only payphone located in the shadow of a private home outside the station.
The girl dressed as a maid stood in front of him holding the receiver for the green telephone.
She pulled a bundle of telephone cards from her apron like it was a deck of playing cards.
She quickly lined the cards up in front of the green phone and turned toward the man.
“Itaru-sama. Why do you not carry a cell phone?”
“Because I am a coward, Sf. Remember that. If the phone rang, it would probably give me a heart attack.”
“How about I carry it for you?”
“No. You have not acquired the skill to take messages. If you cannot always answer as if I am gone even when I am with you, there is no point in you having a cell phone. Do you understand?”
“Tes. I understand that possessing one would be meaningless on a fundamental level.”
The girl called Sf stopped lining up the cards while looking at him. She was lining up the well-used cards in order of number of uses. The punch holes showing the number of uses lined up perfectly without the slightest deviation.
Sf casually picked up one card with few uses left and slid it into the green phone.
She used her right fingers to instantly dial a number.
A few seconds later, “This is Sf. Registration Number 9609812B. Connect me to extension #0013.”
Sf then handed the receiver to the man next to her. He took it and spoke.
“This is Ooshiro Itaru. Has Team Leviathan left yet, Sibyl? …I see. I just met an interesting idiot. Something stupid is about to happen. A world of stupid false good and false evil is about to unfold. …You don’t understand? No, someone like you or Sf that has not woken up wouldn’t.”
As Itaru spoke, Sf inserted a new card into the green telephone. When the small sound of connection indicating three minutes had been added came from the receiver, Itaru nodded to Sf. He continued speaking as he saw Sf nod back.
“Sf confirmed this idiot’s string vibration. I’ll have Sf give it to you, so add this idiot’s vibration to the string vibration of the concept space. It’s the usual type, so this change should be easy and the outside will be visible, right? Drag him in from reality. …What? You want to know who this idiot is? You’ll know soon enough.”
Hearing that, Sf asked, “Itaru-sama, is it really okay to get him involved like this?”
“That brat has ignorantly decided that this world is a safe place. We need to teach him a lesson and a first-hand lesson would be best. From now on, he is sure to be overturned again and again. From here on out, he will deny all things because all things exist. He will deny joy because he knows joy. And…Yes, that will continue until the world is satisfied.”
Itaru gave a small smile and handed Sf the receiver.
“Sf, tell them his string vibration. And then we will teach him what reality truly is.”
|Back to Prologue||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 2|