Owari no Chronicle:Volume1 Chapter 12
Chapter 12: A Reunion with Someone New
A meeting is the beginning of a restriction
That is why meetings last only an instant
The eternity continuing afterwards is a choice between that restriction and a parting
A square three-story building was located on the northeastern end of the general education buildings of Taka-Akita Academy.
The flat building was partially made of brick and had a terrace. The front of the building also had an entrance leading to the basement. That entrance was labeled with a placard saying “Central Cafeteria Building”.
Only the basement area was open during spring break.
A wide staircase led downstairs. The placard attached to the wall there said “Open 24 Hours a Day” in thick gothic lettering. “However, only limited services are available late at night and on holidays,” it went on to say.
Down the stairs were eight large glass doors lined up side by side and a dimly lit area beyond.
The lobby contained a line of cafeteria ticket machines and several large bulletin boards.
Past the lobby was a 50 meter square space with white walls. Square pillars were located at set intervals and tables for eight filled the space between them.
However, few people were inside. The shops in the corners had sheets over them and only the area around the counter across the eastern wall was lit up.
At the tables were a few people wearing personal clothes and school uniforms as well as a few people wearing the red shirts of rugby uniforms. In addition, a girl wearing a school uniform and a black cat were standing near the counter.
The girl whose gray hair flowed back behind her was Brunhild.
Brunhild placed her hands on the counter and stared back into the kitchen.
Finally, the item she was waiting for arrived.
An old woman wearing a cooking apron carried out a cardboard box 30 cm square.
The box had a dishcloth laid out on the bottom and sitting in the corner were two flat-bottomed porcelain bowls. One contained water and the other contained dried corn that had been crushed into relatively large pieces. The small bird hopped between the two bowls.
“This is a large burden you are taking on. But it is already mostly grown, so you should not have too much trouble,” said the old woman.
Before the woman could hold out the box, Brunhild bowed and reached her own hand out.
She placed the box in her hand.
Brunhild embraced the box.
The bird looked up at her from within the box. As it tilted its small head, Brunhild smiled.
She heard the old woman say, “How nostalgic. I caught one when I was a child, too.”
“Yes, yes. Even an old lady like me was once as young as you.”
Brunhild fell silent, but the black cat at her feet lightly struck her left shin with its front paw.
Brunhild used her left foot to kick the cat away below the counter.
The old woman had not noticed this exchange of blows, so she looked down at the small bird and spoke.
“It was not long after the war. I swiped some of the wheat and sake my father got through the black market. I soaked the wheat grains and place them on the ground.”
“To give them…to the bird?”
“Yes, yes. I threw one a good distance away. Once it ate that, I threw another one a bit closer to me before repeating the process. By the time it was close enough to me, it could not fly.”
“Because it was drunk?”
“Yes. But it disappeared the day after I caught it. My father looked disappointed it was gone and he complained that the bird had looked delicious. …I knocked him down with a piece of firewood afterwards.”
Brunhild ignored the last half of the story and fell silent, but the black cat lightly struck her right shin once it made its way back.
She kicked it away with her right foot, looked slightly down, and glanced over at the cat.
It was looking up at her from where it lay on the floor.
But when their gazes met, the black cat cowered down and backed away.
Brunhild tilted her head and wondered if the look in her eyes had really been that harsh.
But she then sensed a presence behind her. This was why the cat had backed away.
She placed the box on the counter and turned around. A chest covered in a black vest lay directly in front of her eyes within arm’s reach.
Surprised, she took a step back and looked up to assess the situation.
Above the black vest was the collar of a white shirt. Above that was a white beard and bald head.
Brunhild knew this man.
Before she could do anything, a voice spoke beyond the counter.
“Oh, Zonburg-san. You are late today.”
Siegfried Zonburg stood beside Brunhild. He bent over his large body to place his cafeteria ticket on the opposite side of the counter.
The old woman looked at the ticket and asked, “Which one?”
“Oh, the vomit rice. Now, do I have any rice left?”
“Even if that is what everyone calls it, I think the one making it should avoid that name.”
“I can hardly call it Doria. I only learned how to cook from my mother.”
“Doria is a household dish. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“Is that so?” asked the old woman with a laugh, but Siegfried’s expression did not change.
Brunhild looked up at him while holding her breath.
Suddenly, he turned toward her.
Brunhild took a defensive stance at that. She brought her right hand up into the air and her left hand into her blazer pocket. All expression vanished from her face and she stared intently at him.
However, Siegfried was not looking at her.
He was looking at the box on the counter. The small bird inside looked up at him and chirped once. Siegfried returned the bird’s gaze and opened his mouth to speak.
Brunhild gasped at having her name called.
She gulped and asked, “Why do you know my name?”
“Whenever you borrow a book, you thank the library assistant but not me. I manage the library cards, so I naturally learned your name.”
“…You certainly are petty.”
“No, that is simply the reason I know your name. I am not demanding you thank me. That is the decision your pride has led you to make.” Siegfried looked back across the counter. “The library is open. The biology and animal section has some books on caring for animals. You should borrow one right away.”
“Is that an order?”
“I merely wish the best for the bird. …But I cannot approve of caring for a bird in the same environment as a cat.”
“Do not worry. My cat is loyal to me.”
That comment elicited a light strike against her calf from the black cat’s front paw. Brunhild swung her right heel back to kick the cat away before she grabbed the box.
Siegfried was not looking in her direction.
She took a step back to open a slight gap between them.
Siegfried provided a clear response to her silence.
He ignored her and let the silence continue.
Brunhild turned around toward the entrance.
She began walking and the black cat frantically ran after her.
She looked down into the box to find the small bird looking up at her with its head tilted.
Brunhild continued to look at the bird and did not look back.
She held her breath and quickly walked out of the cafeteria.
A line of white buildings existed to the north of the general school buildings. The buildings were aligned in a cross shape and they all looked like three-story school buildings at first.
However, the windows lined up on the southern side were smaller and more numerous than those of a school.
Through each window were two desks next to the window and a bunk bed next to the wall.
These were the student dorms.
The dorms were currently dyed in the colors of the setting sun.
A single figure could be seen moving between the crimson of the sunlight and the bluish-black shadows created by the buildings.
This was Sayama, still wearing his gray suit. He quickly made his way to the building on the southwest end of the line of dorms.
He arrived at a white walled entrance with a sign saying “Fourth General Education Dormitory – True Boys’ Dormitory”.
Sayama stopped at the entrance.
A look at his wristwatch told him the time was 5:30 PM. He had just returned after speaking with Ooshiro about the following day’s preliminary negotiations with 1st-Gear’s peaceful faction.
Sayama glanced down and saw Baku was sleeping with his head sticking out of his breast pocket. And…
Sayama suddenly turned to the east where the cafeteria building was. He had spotted some motion.
He could see a girl carrying a box toward the general school buildings.
…That is the head of the art club I passed by this morning.
She must have still had work to do.
She puts in a lot of effort, he thought as he took a breath. I need to visit Siegfried in the library and Izumo and Kazami in the girls’ dorm later.
He then turned back toward the dorm building and looked up at his own room on the eastern end of the second floor.
In the very next moment, his expression changed. He frowned.
“…The light is on?”
As the window reflected the setting sun, he could see the bright room beyond.
He did not remember turning on the lights before leaving for the Imperial Palace during the day.
Who could it be? thought Sayama as he hurried into the dorm.
At the same moment, he heard Ooki’s voice from up ahead.
She walked out of the exit in sandals while wearing a shirt and a tight denim skirt.
Ooki descended the low staircase at the entrance in a single step and arrived in front of Sayama with the sound of gravel.
“What is it, Ooki-sensei? I have urgent business at present, so I would like to hurry to the scene in question.”
“Heh heh heh. You always speak so formally. But you will regret it if you don’t listen to what I-…wait!”
As Sayama ignored her and tried to move past her, she grabbed his sleeve.
“Could you not grab onto that? It is actually rather expensive.”
“I think you should not decide what is important based on monetary value.”
“It is Italian and cost 720 thousand yen.”
“Wah! I’m sorry! Just so you know, I could never, ever pay for that!”
“I know. I think you should stop taking up a standard seat in front of the shop in the cafeteria building.”
“But I love jam bread. It’s so sad the shop is closed during spring break… Wait, please listen to what I have to say before leaving!”
This time, she grabbed Sayama’s hand. He sighed, turned toward Ooki, and nodded.
“I apologize, but I fear I will catch your poverty. Please keep your Ooki germs away from me.”
“If you say things like that, I won’t tell you that you have a new roommate!”
“If you say things like that, it makes me want to inform you of your severe idiocy.”
“Huh?” said Ooki as she thought back on what she had said.
Sayama politely removed her hand and asked, “At any rate, what is happening here? I obtained this single-person room thanks to a miracle when I had the wonderful luck of being chosen in the drawing.”
“I will not ask how you influenced that miracle and wonderful luck… Anyway, that miracle and wonderful luck end today. Just give up now.”
She pointed at Sayama as she spoke, but he ignored her. She immediately tugged on his hand.
“Why are you ignoring me!?”
“Well, you already told me what I need to know, right? A parasite has arrived,” said Sayama.
Ooki raised her index finger and lightly clicked her tongue.
“Listen. Let me warn you first. …Your new roommate is not used to you yet, so try not to do or say anything inappropriate.”
“Have you gone completely insane, Ooki-sensei? When have I ever done or said anything inappropriate?”
“You are doing so right now in real time!”
“Now, now,” said Sayama as he held out his right palm to calm down Ooki. “I understand what you are trying to say, so calm down. You want me to be perfectly polite, correct?”
“Yes,” nodded Ooki before crossing her arms. “That is what I want…but with you…”
She groaned and Sayama wordlessly flicked her on the forehead with his right hand.
Sayama checked in at the reception desk, changed into his slippers, and climbed the stairs.
Baku raised his head from Sayama’s breast pocket and climbed up to his shoulder. Baku must have known they were almost to the bed because he stared straight ahead from Sayama’s shoulder as they rounded the turn of the staircase.
Sayama quickly finished climbing the stairs. He moved from the landing to the hallway. His room was the last room on the left.
The fluorescent lights lit the hallway more than the setting sun. Sayama could tell the door to his room was sitting open.
A few cardboard boxes were sitting at the end of the hallway next to the door. Someone was moving in.
Sayama silently walked forward.
He could hear noise within the room. Someone was opening a cardboard box and removing its contents. He could hear someone piling up clothes and stacking books. These noises reminded Sayama of the past.
…I made these exact same noises last year.
He peered inside the dorm room through the open door.
As soon as he did, a figure took a step out of the room.
The figure had a slender and small build.
The figure stumbled forward between the boxes but managed to remain standing.
Inertia caused a baggy shirt and culottes-style shorts to sway. And something else swayed even more than the clothes: the soft black hair tied behind the figure’s head.
The figure looked up and widened its eyes slightly.
Sayama recognized that face.
“…Shinjou-kun?” he asked.
“Ah,” said the figure.
The voice was identical to Shinjou’s as well.
That confused voice left Sayama thinking.
…This is the boys’ dorm.
But his thoughts did not end there.
…If Shinjou suddenly decided she desired a life with me, what would happen?
Shinjou belonged to UCAT. This school possessed deep connections with IAI, so it was likely connected to UCAT as well.
Sayama already had Izumo and Kazami as examples. He assumed those two were deeply involved in IAI and UCAT beyond what was officially said about them.
Also, UCAT had asked him if he would accept the rights to the Leviathan Road. Shinjou’s presence could be a means of leading him to accept.
What should I do? What should I do? thought Sayama twice before adding, No, whatever the adults may be hoping to gain from this, the fact remains that Shinjou, a girl, has come here.
He recalled what she had said on the bridge in front of the Imperial Palace. She had told him not to be too surprised when he returned to his dorm.
…That is impossible. I cannot help but be shocked at this.
When Sayama had asked her if she was sending him something, she had nodded and said she felt she had to.
How had he responded to that?
…I told her I would gladly accept it. I see.
Sayama had reached his conclusion. He had already given his answer back then.
After coming this far, he did not hesitate or make the issue any more complicated. He had decided everything should continue as she wished.
With a serious expression, Sayama nodded toward her. He spread his arms lightly to either side.
“Now, leap into my arms.”
In response, Shinjou bowed with a relieved look.
“Thank you for acting just as inappropriately as I heard you would. I am Shinjou Sadame’s younger brother, Setsu.”
Sayama’s arms were still spread.
Shinjou Setsu raised his body while still smiling.
But Shinjou then said “Um…” while lowering the ends of his eyebrows and holding out his right hand.
With his arms still held out to the side, Sayama smoothly lowered his hips and rotated his body 90 degrees. He grabbed Shinjou’s right hand with the right hand he still held out to the side. He gave the boy a handshake.
That touch told him Shinjou had no ring on his right hand. Sayama stood back up.
“…Her younger brother?”
“Yes,” replied Shinjou with a less nervous voice and smile than before. “Didn’t my sister tell you? She told me to stay here until your arm healed, Sayama-kun.”
His voice and tone were identical to Shinjou’s. The feel of his hand was also identical.
Sayama mentally tilted his head and let go of the boy’s hand.
“How much did your sister tell you about me?”
“She said you protected her when she was almost hit by a car, but you injured your dominant arm in the process. She is busy with work, so she can’t do anything to help even though she wants to.”
“I see,” said Sayama in acknowledgment.
…Does he not know about UCAT?
“I apologize in advance, but may I check on something?”
Shinjou tilted his head in confusion.
“Sure, I don’t mind. But what is it?”
“Oh, nothing much.”
Sayama stood before Shinjou, slowly pulled him closer, and touched the right side of his chest with his right hand.
“Eh? Ah…Wh-what are you doing?”
As the boy provided light resistance, Sayama felt only ribs and a thin chest.
Shinjou tried to pull away from the left hand lightly wrapped around his back.
But Sayama said, “Please do not move. For one, who was it that said he did not mind?”
“B-but I didn’t think you meant this…”
Shinjou’s shoulders lowered and he stopped trying to draw away.
Sayama nodded and slid his hand over to the left side of Shinjou’s chest. He pressed his fingers in as if trying to massage his chest, but the skin beyond the white shirt was thin and hard. It had little flexibility and lacked the shape of Shinjou’s breasts Sayama had seen the night before.
…He is male.
Sayama’s body sank down slightly. He took his right hand off Shinjou’s chest and a slight moan escaped Shinjou’s lips. As if to rob Shinjou of this opportunity to relax, Sayama grabbed Shinjou’s waist with his right hand.
“Ah,” said Shinjou as Sayama pressed his right ear against his chest.
Sayama heard the slightly quickened beating of Shinjou’s heart.
It sounded the same as what he had heard the night before. The slight sweet aroma in the breath was also the same.
However, the chest he had his ear pressed up against was not the same as the chest he had seen. It was the flat and hard chest of a guy.
Still doubtful, Sayama asked, “Hm… Has your chest always been like this?”
Sayama looked up to see a flushed face looking down at him. Shinjou was lightly biting his lower lip and bringing together his eyebrows. Finally, he let out a trembling sigh.
“I-is that enough? Are you done? I don’t want you st-staying down there too long.”
Without replying, Sayama grabbed Shinjou’s arm from where it hung awkwardly in the air and brought it around behind his back.
“Eh? Ah… No, Sayama-kun?”
As Shinjou lightly embraced him, Sayama listened to the boy’s pulse.
But nothing changed. The chest still felt like that of a guy. The pulse grew a bit stronger, but that was it.
“I see,” said Sayama with a nod before raising his head.
…She said they are twins, didn’t she?
Sayama nodded once more in his heart, stood up, and faced forward.
Shinjou stood there with his cheeks red and the ends of his eyebrows lowered. Shinjou let out a breath and Sayama crossed his arms.
“Do not worry. There was nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Y-you were incredibly out of the ordinary, Sayama-kun.”
“Is that any way to act toward someone you just met?”
“You should say that into a mirror…”
“No need,” declared Sayama. “I was just given a warning by Ooki-sensei downstairs. And I am being careful to heed that warning.”
“…I have to ask. What was this warning?”
Sayama provided a clear response.
“Do not do or say anything inappropriate.”
“Wow,” said Shinjou as he drew back.
Nevertheless, Sayama held out his right hand.
“It may only be until my left arm heals, but let us get along, Shinjou-kun. It should not be too difficult. Compared to those around me, I am constantly troubled by how normal I am.”
In the art room at night, Brunhild gave the small bird food while working on her painting. She was adding the green of the forest to the canvas and would provide some food whenever the bird chirped to say it was hungry.
She would grab the crushed and threshed corn with narrow tweezers, soak it in water, and hold it out to the bird. If she did not lightly pinch the corn with the tweezers, the bird could not bring it into its mouth.
The black cat down at her feet spoke.
“You certainly are enthusiastic about this.”
“I have to do this at least until it goes to sleep.”
“I think you need to visit the headquarters tonight. What will you do?”
“It is not time for my periodic report, but yes… It would be best to ask how I should handle this from now on. If it was something simple, I could just have you fly there. But…”
The cat nodded.
“Most likely, they have already noticed the Royal Palace faction’s actions. The headquarters will be full of energy trying to decide what to do.”
“As long as the holy sword Gram is stored below IAI headquarters, there is nothing we can do. …Breaking in to take it is not the type of strategy Venerable Hagen prefers.”
“The second generation group who know nothing of war like Fafner are oddly motivated, though.”
The small bird chirped.
Brunhild fed it with the tweezers.
It swallowed the food and let out a breath. It tilted its head and looked up at Brunhild. She remained expressionless.
“…It’s so cute.”
“You don’t have to keep that to a whisper, you know.” The black cat lowered its shoulders. “But why are you so obsessed with this bird?”
“I am not obsessed. I think the laws of nature are important, but I also think life is important.”
“You’re contradicting yourself.”
“Yes, I am.”
Brunhild picked up her palette and brush. She brought the brush to somewhere other than the forest. She brought it to the area that had been empty up to this point. She brought it to the spot for the cabin and the people.
“Do you want to hear an old story?”
“This was long ago when I was still very young.”
“How many hundreds of years ago was that? No, ah, s-sorry! Ahhh! The bottom of that brush is pointed!!”
“Shut up. At any rate, a certain person saved a town near our forest back then. A mechanical dragon had gone out of control. When the pilot was joining with it, the rejection reaction was especially strong and he went insane. The town was half destroyed and the mechanical dragon entered the forest to pursue the people who had fled into it.”
The cat said nothing and only nodded.
Brunhild continued speaking as she painted the black base for the cabin.
“This person fought despite being injured and won all on his own. I do not know if it was on a whim or what, but he took in an injured bird afterwards. We all took care of it.”
The black cat looked up at the canvas. A few different people were drawn in charcoal around the cabin Brunhild was painting black.
An old man read a book within the cabin and a girl and a woman played with a bird in front of the cabin.
And a man could faintly be seen as well.
The cat looked at those line drawings before turning toward Brunhild. Lastly, it looked back at the charcoal lines of the flying bird.
“So…” The cat tilted its head. “You want to see those flapping wings once more? Something like that?”
“No,” replied Brunhild with slight laugh. “This is a painting. It is not real. When our world was destroyed, that bird escaped its cage and…”
She took a breath, but did not continue speaking.
The silence spreading around her caused the cat to tremble, but Brunhild laughed quietly again.
“Ha,” she breathed out before speaking in a trembling but smiling voice. “If he had been there, I think the outcome would have been different. He saved that bird despite knowing the world would be destroyed, so why did he not see it through to the end? And even if it was only for a short time, he had been with Lady Gutrune so much… So why?”
As she asked that question to no one in particular, the black cat’s eyes opened wide.
“Is this person you are talking about who I think it is?”
“Yes. The sorcerer who arrived from Low-Gear. The man who stole the holy sword Gram from 1st-Gear and destroyed that earth and that sky. And the enemy who killed those who were like family to me before running away.”
Brunhild spoke his name.
“Siegfried Zonburg. …Our greatest foe.”
|Back to Chapter 11||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 13|