Owari no Chronicle:Volume1 Chapter 7

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Chapter 7: A Peaceful Morning[edit]

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An unfamiliar memory becomes a linchpin

It holds one in place

And informs one of something


Sayama was in a grassy plain.

He had no body. Only his vision floated there.

As he glanced around with that vision, he could see the plain was surrounded by cedar trees. The sky above his head seemed to stretch on forever and a mountain range could be seen beyond the forest. When Sayama saw the cirrus clouds crossing the sky, he finally began to think.

Is this a dream?

It had to be. Only his thoughts existed in what seemed like another reality.

Was this scene drawn from his memory or created from a mixture of memories? Sayama could not tell. However, Sayama decided this was not actually a dream. The wind, sky, and rustling forest were all too noisy. He could sense the movement and disorder that only real objects held.

The fact that he could feel the wind told him he had his senses.

Then can I speak?

“———”

He had no voice. But he could move. Instead of trying to walk, he had to create a feeling like he was tilting his body forward. His body still did not seem to exist, but his vision moved.

And then he heard a sound from the right.

?

With that voiceless question, he turned toward the sound. He found a man leaving the forest in the distance. He appeared to be in the gap between middle-aged and elderly. He had graying hair, a slender face, and a lean body. He wore a heavy brown coat meant for mountain climbing. The leather coat had fur added and Sayama guessed that it was quite expensive.

The man was running with the knapsack over his right shoulder shaking back and forth.

He was running toward Sayama’s location and seemed to be chasing something.

He opened his mouth and white puffs of breath escaped.

Sayama heard him say, “It… It really was here!”

From the sound of his voice, his throat had to be very dry.

The man fell to his knees, got back up, and dropped the knapsack from his right shoulder countless times as he ran. As the white puffs of his breathing grew larger and he fell to his knees yet again, he tossed the knapsack aside.

He fell forward once and his right hand reached the ground.

He stood up. He began running once more. He ran and ran some more. He continued in a straight line toward Sayama.

He approached so close Sayama felt he could have reached out and touched the man. At that point, Sayama noticed two things.

The first was that the man’s clothing was not modern.

The second was that the man was missing his left arm.

The design of his leather coat and his pants was very rough. None of the emblems one would expect on mountain climbing gear was in evidence. Sayama took a closer look at the mountain boots treading on the grass.

Military boots?

They were antiques made of real leather. As the man ran in those boots and his body swayed, it was clear that his left sleeve had nothing in it. The large leather coat’s sleeve held its form well, so Sayama had not noticed until now.

Sayama instinctually took a step back from the man running toward him.

Sayama did not know who the man was, but he had a feeling he had seen the man somewhere before.

Who is he?

At some point, the man had started clutching a machine in his right hand. It looked like a black pocket watch and it had several long hands and short hands.

And then Sayama looked at the man’s face. His thin face had the beginnings of a beard and he was breathing quickly and shallowly. However…

He is smiling? No. That is not a smile. That is joy.

This was the expression of a man who had had some wish granted or who had achieved something.

I cannot even guess what would give me a look like that.

Just as Sayama had that thought, the man cut by beside him.

While existing as nothing but his vision, Sayama sighed. He would no longer be able to see the man’s expression. The man had passed by, so turning around would only show him the man’s back.

However, Sayama still turned around. He wanted to see what it was the man sought.

But there should only be a forest that way.

While taking a step back, Sayama turned around.

And he saw a giant shadow.

“!?”

It was a tower.

A giant tower filled almost his entire vision. It started on the grassy plain and continued all the way up into the heavens.

Beyond the bluish-black shadow, white clouds wrapped around the wind. He looked up, but could not see the top of the tower. Because it stretched up vertically, he could not see the very top from where he was. All he could tell was that the tower seemed to be made out of a collection of rectangles.

What is this? muttered Sayama in his mind. That wasn’t there before.

But as soon as he began to wonder why, the answer came to him. That invisible wall in that Okutama forest. A Concept Space. His vision may have moved through to the other side of one of those walls.

He lowered his vision and found the man standing quite nearby. The man’s back was less than ten steps away. As he looked up at the tower, his warm breaths escaped as white puffs of wind.

Sayama heard the man speak.

“So it really was here…”

He breathed out, breathed in, and then dropped to his knees.

His butt then dropped to the ground, but he never stopped looking up.

“Babel… The relic that tells of the beginning of the Concept War!!” he spoke.

His words were like a punch to Sayama’s consciousness.


Sayama jumped up.

“!”

He now saw a different scene from that dream: the top bunk of a bunk bed, a blanket, a small room, a close-by ceiling, a fluorescent light sticking down, and sunlight entering through the window behind him.

There was no wind. There was only the sweat sticking to his body.

“This is…”

He finally realized it was his own room.

“What a pathetic way to wake up,” he sighed while lightly shaking his head. He realized that his body existed once more. The sweat he had felt was definitely there.

And his left arm hurt. The pain seemed to throb in the core of his body.

He frowned slightly and realized once more that this was not a dream.

He hung his head down and something fell from his head.

“…?”

Something small was moving atop his blanket. It was brown and had its limbs sprawled out.

He picked it up in his right hand and held it up to his face. It was Baku. Baku remained obediently still as he held its back between his fingers. When he saw the white fur covering its belly swelling out, Sayama recalled the conversation from the night before.

“You can show people the past in the form of dreams.”

In that case…

“Was that dream…something that actually happened?”

Baku only tilted its head. Realizing it may not have been able to make such distinctions, Sayama smiled bitterly at the fact that he was speaking to an animal. However…

Does that tower have something to do with another Gear?

“He called it Babel.”

He decided he would learn about all that this afternoon. Ooshiro had said he would be waiting for Sayama at the Imperial Palace. He did not know what would happen there, though. But for now…

“I have student council work with Izumo and Kazami before that,” he muttered.

He then wondered if Izumo knew about UCAT.


Shinjou sat as the scenery rushed by.

She was inside a train. She wore an orange shirt and white trousers while sitting on the end of the seats with a small bag on her lap. Ooshiro Kazuo sat next to her wearing a brown suit.

The two of them were riding a special express train from Oume to Tokyo. They were still only just out of Tachikawa to the west of Tokyo, but a great number of people had come onboard at Tachikawa. A wall of people had formed in front of Shinjou.

She spoke while embracing the bag on her lap.

“Wow. Ooshiro-san, there are so many people… Why are there so many people here?”

“That is a question of eros. Ha ha ha. …It is because the Japanese are a very diligent people.”

“…At what?”

As Shinjou frowned, Ooshiro smiled bitterly. His eyes bent like bows behind his glasses.

“By the way, why did you decide to go to the city for the first time? I thought the princess of UCAT was too sheltered to ask to go along for the preparations.”

“Well…” Shinjou slightly held her own body as if to hide her chest. However, her eyebrows rose slightly. “Sayama-kun doesn’t know that…so it’s okay. And the others will be coming later, right? I can’t be the only one not to go.”

“Does he weigh on your mind that much?”

Shinjou froze in place when asked that.

The train shook. Shinjou shook with it, but Ooshiro did not.

They were arriving at Kokubunji Station. Shinjou ended up leaning against Ooshiro until the train came to a stop. As the doors opened, Shinjou lowered her head slightly toward Ooshiro and fixed her position. She saw even more people board the train.

As the wall of people before her grew even denser, Shinjou let out a cry of wonder. She took a breath and looked over to find Ooshiro staring intently at her.

He was waiting for an answer. Once she realized that, Shinjou lowered her shoulders and shrunk down at the edge of the seat.

“Yes…He does,” she quietly admitted. Once she did that, she had to give a reason. “After all, I realized I never thanked him yesterday. …And I only learned after he left that his clothes, his watch, and his pens were all left for him by his grandfather.”

“He thinks of his relatives as strangers. …So does it really matter?”

Shinjou turned toward Ooshiro with a look of shock.

That was something Sayama had said when speaking with her the night before.

“I-I never told anyone about that. You don’t mean…”

Shinjou brushed her hand along her back and hair.

However, she found nothing.

Ooshiro said, “Do you want me to tell you how I knew that?”

“Y-yes.”

“I see. How honest of you. …But I will never tell y-…Wait, hey. Let go of that.”

“Shut up. No matter how high a position you have, this is an invasion of privacy.”

After tightening Ooshiro’s tie as much as she could, Shinjou let go.

“Last night has influenced me a lot,” she said.

“Like when you weighed Mikoto-kun’s life with the enemy’s life and you could not choose between them?”

“Yes. Saying it was my first time on the front lines is just an excuse. If that sniper shot had not come, who knows what would have happened.”

“You are thinking of this wrong. It is because that sniper shot was there that we do not know what would have happened.”

Shinjou looked up quickly and then hung her head down once more.

“You’re right,” she muttered as Ooshiro looked away from her.

“What a pain,” he said as he looked forward. “Your comrade said they fired because they had deemed the situation dangerous. Are you unable to trust your comrades?”

“I trust them. But…I could see the look of fear in our enemy’s eyes when he saw me. And I could see the injury on Sayama-kun’s left arm.”

“So even though you and your comrade were looking at the same thing, you saw something different. …When did you start talking about what sounds like a concept?” commented Ooshiro. He placed a hand on Shinjou’s head and stroked it. “Then how about you do whatever little you can do? Give flowers to the dead and alms to the living, and you can make up for your sins…or so they say.”

“Tes. But I do plan to give flowers after the autopsy. Same with the advance unit.”

“I see. That leaves alms for the living. You do understand that you are not the type that will be satisfied after simply thanking Mikoto-kun, don’t you?”

“Yes. …What am I supposed to do? Sayama-kun can’t use his left arm very much thanks to the injury.”

“Then you can act as a replacement for his left arm.”

“Eh?” Shinjou turned toward Ooshiro and frantically began waving her hands. “I-I can’t do that. That would require being with him at all times.”

“I know a good way you can do that. It may be a bit troublesome, but you, Shinjou Sadame-kun, do not have to go.”

A look of realization appeared on Shinjou’s face when she realized what he meant.

Ooshiro gave a deep nod of understanding and raised his right thumb.

“Well, a lot of people will be coming today: your comrades, him, and a connection to the past. …You can make up your mind there.”

As he spoke, an announcement sounded within the train. They were approaching Mitaka Station.

On that special express train, their stop at Tokyo Station was only seven stops away. The sound of the brakes reverberated through the floor and the train shook.

However, Shinjou no longer shook with it.


Sayama ate an early meal in the cafeteria building and headed for the Kinugasa Library. He walked along the walkway, cut across in front of the third year general school building, and made his way to the back of the second year general school building.

He wore his school uniform, but the left sleeve of the shirt was unbuttoned.

His left arm was still wrapped in bandages. He had removed them when bathing that morning, but he had held a large white bandage-like paper against the wound. It had hurt, but no blood had seeped into the paper. He assumed that meant a powerful hemostatic agent had been applied.

As he walked behind the second year general school building, he suddenly recalled having passed by this way the day before. He looked up at the distant emergency staircase on which he had spoken with Ooki.

A lot of strange things have happened in just one day.

It had been past 11:00 PM by the time he had returned to school the night before.

He recalled the conversation with Tamiya Kouji when the young man had dropped him off in front of the main entrance.

Tamiya had bowed and said, “If possible, come visit us sometime soon. My father, mother, and sister would be delighted.”

“I thought I made too much noise night after night with the after-test parties.”

“My father says you can have parties every night if you wish. Also, you may have been staying away, but you and Yume-sama still have rooms in the Tamiya household.”

“Don’t say that,” warned Sayama.

The Tamiya family controlled the entire underside of Akigawa city, but they always protected the Sayama family because they were greatly indebted to Sayama’s grandfather. He did not know what his grandfather had done, but they had protected his grandfather, his father, and himself. He had stayed with them up until middle school.

The relationship was less like that of a family and more like that of superior and subordinate.

Every member of the Tamiya family trusted Sayama as much as his grandfather.

This was not a nuisance. However…

“Will I ever be able to repay them in some way?” muttered Sayama as he walked on.

He checked the watch on his left arm.

The hands of the black watch he had received at UCAT pointed toward 8:32 AM. The arranged time had been nine sharp, but he guessed Izumo and Kazami would already be there. Those two were always together.

“They even go to the absurd extent of living in the same dorm room.”

He smiled bitterly. He did not know the details, but he knew there had been a large dispute over that. It was only natural that the actions of the heir to IAI would be talked about.

“Izumo is actually 20 since he used to live overseas and Kazami’s parents agreed to it. They just barely managed to get by thanks to that.”

He had gotten to know the two of them during the student council election, but he had heard rumors of the two even before then.

You never know what will happen with relationships, thought Sayama as his bitter smile deepened.

He heard a bird chirping from the line of trees behind the school building. It was the voice of a baby bird asking for food. Sayama entered the school building’s back entrance as he listened to the bird.

He continued toward the Kinugasa Library on the western end of the first floor. As he passed through the dim central lobby, he noticed two figures approaching from the front entrance.

One was a girl and one was a cat.

The girl wore a blazer, had gray hair, and had purple eyes. The cat at her feet was black.

Sayama had seen her once before.

In March, we had a meeting between the new student council and the upcoming leaders of the different clubs. She was from the art club.

Her name was Brunhild Schild.

Her clothes, hairstyle, and lack of expression were all identical to when he had seen her at that meeting.

Only her eyes moved on that expressionless face.

Sayama realized she was looking at his left arm.

They passed by. As she moved away silently, Sayama gave her one parting glance.

It looked like she was measuring the extent of my wound.

Despite seeing his bandages and sling, she had not shown any curiosity, surprise, or fear. She had had the look of someone viewing something they had seen countless times before. While storing that look of hers in his memory, Sayama walked to the entrance of the library.


Brunhild entered the art room and locked the door from the inside.

Once all outside noise was gone, she took a breath. She glanced over at the window to ensure the curtain was closed as well.

Her gaze met with that of the black cat at her feet and she snapped her fingers with a blue stone gripped in her right hand.

With that clear noise, Brunhild asked the cat a question.

“Why did you disappear in your cat form last night?”

“I went to a small meeting. Even those from the peaceful faction of 1st-Gear have a lot of animals like me. I exchanged some information with them.”

“Did you learn anything?”

The cat nodded.

“Ooshiro Kazuo of Japanese UCAT plans to visit the Imperial Palace today. And the peaceful faction will be holding preliminary negotiations for the Leviathan Road tomorrow. It seems they were not given much notice about this.”

“…Is this Ooshiro stupid? If they rush things this much, the Royal Palace faction will panic and take action. They have been rejected by the peaceful faction too much already.”

“Yes. They all said the Royal Palace faction was at their wits’ end. …I hear they are poorly united on the inside. It seems the hawks plan to target Ooshiro Kazuo, but if that fails, the doves intend to surrender.”

“They…do not have a Concept Core. However, our leader, Venerable Hagen, does.”

“It will be difficult for them. When 1st-Gear was destroyed, a gate was opened in the royal palace and in the city. The royal palace one came out near UCAT and the nobles who possessed Concept Space technology escaped through it and became the Royal Palace faction. But they did not have the Concept Core. 1st-Gear’s Concept Core was split into two, but they had neither half.”

“Yes. The king split it into two for safety. The half containing the writing concept was used in the weapon concept reactor of Venerable Hagen’s mechanical dragon, Fafnir Custom.” Brunhild lowered her gaze. “The other half containing the world construction concept was stolen from the concept facility below the royal palace. Stolen by that Low-Gear man who took the holy sword Gram created by Doctor Regin. …It seems Doctor Regin joined with Fafnir to protect the Concept Core. He absorbed the Concept Core into the reactor.”

“I heard about that,” said the black cat. “The battle occurred in that facility below the royal palace you mentioned, right? The king, the princess, Fafnir, and that single Low-Gear man were there. By the time the rest of those in the castle arrived, it was all over and the world was beginning to collapse. When they saw Fafnir and the king dead, and the princess badly wounded, they decided the Low-Gear man had escaped after transferring the Concept Core from Fafnir’s reactor into the holy sword Gram.”

“Yes. According to Fasolt and the others who are now in the peaceful faction, even as she continued to bleed, Lady Gutrune told them the world would soon be destroyed. And Lady Gutrune even managed to call out to the city from the Royal Palace. She told them we had lost and that they needed to hurry to Low-Gear through the two gates.”

Brunhild sighed and scratched at her hair.

She walked over to the easel in the center of the art room.

The canvas with a forest painted on top sat on it. Brunhild stared at the blank space in the center where a cabin and some people still needed to be painted.

“This forest and everything else disappeared. All thanks to that man who came from Low-Gear and the holy sword Gram he stole. It seems he used the world construction concept inside Gram to destroy 1st-Gear.”

“How?”

“1st-Gear was a flat world. It was a closed world where the universe was shaped like a dome and had a clear end. …According to our estimations, the world construction concept was sent out of control and 1st-Gear continually degenerated inwards until it formed a single point and disappeared.”

Brunhild formed an expression. Her eyes opened lightly and her lips formed a shallow smile.

“We lost many lives and our home. And I lost everything important to me. All we gained in return was defeat and the path to dependency. …And now Gram is sealed below IAI headquarters, so we cannot reach it. Fortunately, the Leviathan Road is beginning. We can negotiate to have Gram unsealed.” She looked down at the cat and spoke slowly. “Sixty years is a long time, isn’t it?”


Kinugasa Library was as long as four classrooms.

It was also as wide as two classrooms. It contained so much space it had to stick out from the school building.

Its structure was similar to the inner shell of a ship. The central portion was lowered down in steps and each level contained a space for tall bookshelves and a table for four. The bottommost level had a long wide space with not only a table and chairs but also decorative plants.

The table at the bottom of the library currently had four people using it.

One was Sayama with his uniform’s coat draped over his shoulders.

Across from him was Kazami wearing casual clothes and to the left of her was Izumo wearing a black track suit.

Across from Izumo and to Sayama’s left was Ooki wearing pajamas.

Sayama gathered documents on the table in one hand.

“That settles most of it. From what happened at last year’s invitation for new students, it might be safest to allow activities in the dorm hallways.”

“We need to make it very clear that the doors to the dorm rooms do not fall under the category of the hallways, though. The student council last year did not declare that, so the civil engineering club smashed holes in the dorm room doors when calling for new members.”

“They passionately said they would throw dynamite in if you did not join, right? What happened to the people who joined back then?”

“Starting the next day, they spent a month constructing a dam in Gunma for the new member training camp.”

“And so they had an excellent civil engineering club by the time they came back, hm? Brainwashing is a frightening thing. We need to nip that in the bud this year.”

“Yes,” said Kazami with a nod before turning toward Izumo. Sayama also turned to look at Ooki.

Ooki had her eyes cast down and her hands lightly clasped atop her lap. Her body was lightly rocking forward and backward as she dozed off.

Meanwhile, Izumo’s back was straight, his arms were firmly crossed, and he looked straight forward…all while fast asleep.

“Izumo’s eccentricities give him some convenient abilities. That must come in handy during long meetings.”

“Well, most of the time you and I can answer any questions as the vice president and treasurer. It makes me wonder why we even have a president… But to change the subject, what is that on your shoulder, Sayama?”

When Kazami looked over, Baku raised his head from where he had been sleeping on Sayama’s left shoulder.

“Is it an animal?’ she asked and stretched out her hand.

Baku stared at her before…

“Ah, it looked away,” she said in disappointment.

After seeing Baku lower his head once more, Sayama turned toward Kazami.

She sank down a bit into her chair and folded her arms behind her head.

“Do not worry about it, Kazami. He likely has yet to grow accustomed to his surroundings.”

“I want to touch him. My parents had a bird, so I could never have a cat or dog. …Ah.”

Kazami’s mouth hung open as she looked to Ooki next to Sayama.

To Sayama’s left, Ooki swayed. Before anyone could stop her, her forehead slammed into the table.

Ooki’s forehead reached the table with a thud and her voice leaked out.

“Ee…”

“Oh, Sayama. Looks like she’s gonna cry, so do something about it.”

“Such as?”

“Call out to her in a kind voice to calm her down or hit her even harder to knock her unconscious.”

“It would probably be even more amazing if I could do both at the same time.”

“Hwaaaahhh!”

“Wow, she’s really crying.”

Sayama decided to try to wake her up, but he realized he could not use his left arm.

He had no choice but to turn toward her and pat her on the back with his right hand.

“What is it, Ooki-sensei?”

While still lying face down on the table, Ooki coughed once and said, “A-all of a sudden… All of a sudden there was a thunk. I-it scared the crap out of me.”

“That last part was unnecessary. In fact, where did you learn that phrase? Well, anyway. Let me see your face.”

“Wh-why? Do you want to see me crying that badly?”

“No, the shock of the impact might have knocked a front tooth out of place or smashed the cartilage of your nose. If so, you need to hurry to an excellent cosmetic surgeon. …But do not worry. A yakuza family I know has an excellent one. Even if your pinky is-…gwoh.”

Kazami slapped Sayama after having circled around next to him at some point.

He fell from his chair and asked, “What are you doing to an injured person? We certainly have a cruel student council treasurer.”

“Shut up. C’mon, sensei. Your face is probably fine, so please look up.”

Sayama sighed and moved away from that scene of soothing. He gave Kazami a glance telling her to use his chair and then stared straight ahead. However, Izumo was still boldly remaining fast asleep, so there was no one to talk to.

A glance at his watch told him the time was 10:30 AM. The arranged time to meet in the city was one, so it was still too soon to head out if he was taking the train.

With nothing else to do, Sayama walked over to the stepped floor next to the table. He stood before a random bookshelf.

It was lined with hard cover books as thick as dictionaries. A placard at the top of the bookshelf said “mythology”. A series of 11 black-spined books had the author’s name written in gold thread. The name was Kinugasa Tenkyou. The publisher was Izumo Writings Department.

As Sayama read those two names, he called out, “Kazami.”

“What? I was just getting to the good part, so keep it short.”

“It is about the family of that man sleeping there with his eyes open. Have you heard anything about IAI from him?”

“About IAI? No. He says he plans to actually start studying when he gets to college, though.”

“I see,” was all Sayama said in reply.

However, he felt there was some sort of sign here.

The night before, he had visited an organization within IAI called UCAT. There, he had learned of ten alternate worlds. There had been a war known as the Concept War during World War 2 and all of those alternate worlds had been destroyed.

That morning, he had been given a strange dream involving a giant tower named Babel.

And now he found these books on mythology in a school strongly backed by IAI.

“Eleven volumes…”

The ten alternate worlds plus this world made eleven.

Am I the one jumping to conclusions now?

Just as he began quietly laughing at his own thoughts, he heard Ooki’s voice.

“Are you interested in those books?”

He turned around to find Ooki sitting up with a red forehead. Kazami gave the OK sign behind her and nodded, so Sayama met Ooki’s gaze.

“Is there something special about them?”

“Yes, those books were written by the school’s founder.”

That much was obvious just from looking at the books, but Sayama let Ooki continue.

She wiped tears from her eyes and wiped her pajama sleeve on the table. She then let out a short groan.

“I heard everything about Kinugasa Tenkyou from the headmaster when I arrived here,” she said. “Despite being the founder, he never actually worked at the school. He worked with the Izumo company even before the war and was really well known in the fields of military and mythology. Are you familiar with the First Higher School?”

Kazami shook her head, but Sayama answered.

“It became the University of Tokyo.”

“It seems he worked as a professor there. In his research of Japanese mythology, he crossed the Izumo Province. That is how he gained his connections with the Izumo company.”

“Wow, you know a lot about this. This is the first time you’ve ever seemed like an actual teacher.”

“I would expect something like that from that wicked student over there, but you too, Kazami!?”

Sayama ignored Ooki and pulled out one of Kinugasa’s books. He took the first volume.

The book’s text was written horizontally. As he tried to get used to holding the book in his right hand, he noticed the cover was very worn out. He awkwardly opened it with just the one hand. It began with a world map and it wrote in detail about Norse legends while including black-and-white photographs and illustrations. The publication information said this was the first edition printed in 1934.

This must be valuable.

As he flipped through it, he found abundant illustrations and photographs, but…

“There is no photograph of Kinugasa himself.”

“According to Siegfried-san, he was injured during the Russo-Japanese War. Apparently, he disliked having his picture taken after that.”

“Does that old man know about all this? He is not here today, though.”

“Old man Siegfried has been feeding the chickens behind the dorms and the other birds in the area every morning. He opened up for us before heading out today. If there is something you want to know, why don’t you ask him?” suggested Kazami.

After a yawn, Izumo spoke up, “He was sent here from IAI, so he probably knows a lot. The person in charge here died about ten years ago, so he agreed to manage the place and search for any data the company needs.” Izumo stretched his arms up. “Now, what were we talking about, Chisato? Was it about the archery club wanting to have human target practice to invite new members in?”

“That was seven topics ago. We were discussing how to handle sleeping idiots.”

As Kazami grinned and held up her fists, Ooki moved away from her.

Ooki walked over to Sayama, her slippered feet creating muffled footsteps.

She stood beside him in her pajamas.

She ignored the repeated sounds of flesh being struck behind her and looked at the book in Sayama’s hand.

“It isn’t often you show interest in something, Sayama-kun. I think this is a good thing.” She yawned once and held a hand over her mouth. “Did you find an answer to that question from yesterday?”

“What was that?”

“What it is that you could get serious about…yawn.”

“Is that something to ask while yawning?”

“Oh, sorry, sorry. But when it comes down to it, I can be harsh. My motto is to be serious yet carefree so you don’t completely boil away. But can you remember one thing?”

“?”

Ooki used her finger to count the books Sayama had been looking at. She passed by in front of Sayama and her finger topped at the tenth volume.

“If you find something or someone you can get serious about, make sure not to destroy or fear either one. And…” She yawned and rubbed her eyes. “When those who rarely get serious finally do get serious, they can draw out a lot of power. Thinking that you cannot get serious means you are constantly thinking about getting serious.” She took a breath. “So you can do it. I guarantee it.”

“Ooki-sensei, I understand. …But that last comment was unnecessary.”

“Uuh,” groaned Ooki as Sayama glanced at his watch. It was almost eleven.

If I take a train that stops at every station and grab some lunch in the city, I can kill enough time.

Sayama nodded and decided to leave.

If he made his way to the Imperial Palace, he would find Ooshiro and maybe even Shinjou.

As he thought about UCAT and her, he suddenly recalled what Ooki had just said.

Becoming serious, hm?

He decided it was time to go.

Ooki was looking up at him with a puzzled look. Kazami was punching Izumo.

Sayama spoke to the girl.

“Kazami, I will be leaving now. Is that okay?”

“Die, die, die! …Sure, you can leave. …No, not you!”

“Which one of those was meant for me…?”

With a bitter smile, Sayama noticed it was sunny through the window between the bookshelves.

He could hear violent blows and could see a slightly stiff look on Ooki’s face, but it was a wonderful spring day outside.


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