Owari no Chronicle:Volume2 Chapter 16
Chapter 16: The Conditions of Good Will
I shall chirp
If I sing well
Will it reach someone?
After landing on the roof, Brunhild entered the school building with her three-cornered hat and broom in hand. She “unlocked” the rooftop door with her philosopher’s stone and quickly made her way to the art room on the third floor. Her footsteps sounded loudly as she made her way down the stairs with the cat.
She unlocked the art room, entered, and found the same dimness as when she had left.
The clock on the wall read 2:00 AM.
A cardboard box sat atop the work desk next to the window whose curtains had been drawn.
The box was in the same place as when she had left. There was no sign of anyone having touched it.
Brunhild breathed a sigh of relief.
She placed her hat and broom on a nearby desk and peered into the box.
The small bird was inside.
However, it was not sleeping in the center. Its small form was collapsed with its head on the edge of the food dish.
It was not moving.
Brunhild’s knees gave out and she fell to the floor.
Brunhild suddenly realized she was sitting on the floor.
She could not remember why she had sat down.
And before she could find an answer, she felt a cold sensation on her butt and thighs. It was the temperature of the wooden floor.
This brought the same question to mind once more: why was she sitting on the floor?
The familiar voice of the black cat stabbed into her ears and her shoulder’s jumped.
She came back to her senses. She understood the situation. And then she felt strength fill her body. That feeling in her back, shoulders, arms, waist, and legs brought back her determination.
What can I do? she thought as she shot to her feet.
And then she saw the black cat leaning into the cardboard box.
Before she could say “you doing”, the cat stopped her by looking up at her. Its gaze was straightforward and its eyes contained no calm.
Brunhild wanted to stop it from speaking any more, but it opened its mouth regardless.
“It’s still alive.”
Brunhild’s vision suddenly started to grow distorted, but she steadied her breathing and asked a question.
“What do you mean?”
“It looks like some of the food got caught in its throat. And I think it’s hungry as well. Get the tweezers.”
Brunhild began to search for the tweezers. She was panicked, so it took her several seconds to remember she had left them next to the cardboard box. When she faced forward with them in hand, the cat was lightly holding the bird in place with its front paws.
The bird’s beak opened and something yellow was visible within.
“You couldn’t swallow it, could you?”
Brunhild used the tweezers to grab the piece of corn stuck in the bird’s throat. She pulled, but failed twice due to using too little force. If she pulled too strongly, she could injure the bird’s throat.
Brunhild dipped the tip of the tweezers in the bird’s water. She then slowly grabbed the food and pulled it out. The piece was smaller than the pieces she had given it that evening.
The cat sighed and said, “It probably is not used to taking food from a dish yet. If the food isn’t fed to it from above, the food can’t get through its throat. …Look, it’s breathing, but weakly. What should we do?”
Brunhild thought on that question.
What should she do? She thought and began speaking what sounded right to her in the order the ideas came to her.
“We need to lightly wrap it in cloth, warm it up, and give it some food…”
“You can’t exactly feed it in this state.”
That comment troubled Brunhild. The cat was exactly right. What could she feed it?
She did not know.
“But at this rate…”
It was no good. That was why Brunhild made up her mind. She placed her hands on the cardboard box.
“I will find someone who knows what they are doing.”
“Is there anyone like that here? You’re almost all alone in the dorm, remember? You’ve also been all alone with your club activities because of spring break.”
“But this is my only option.”
“Well, first you need to change.”
Brunhild looked down and realized she was still wearing the black clothes of a witch.
“It’s all over for us if we draw too much suspicion,” added the cat.
“But,” began Brunhild before gritting her teeth.
She ground her teeth together, but nodded.
“I am from 1st-Gear…”
She walked over to and opened the locker. Requiem Sense greeted her with a dull light, but she said nothing. She grabbed the uniform lying below it and placed it atop the work desk.
She removed the black clothes. She realized clothes perfectly fitted to her body were inconvenient when it came to quickly removing them.
Fifteen seconds. It took that long for Brunhild to strip off the black clothes. She opened the curtain as she grabbed the shirt of her uniform. No light was coming from the school buildings or girls’ dorm visible out the window.
Was no one there or were they sleeping? Would they help her? As she stared into the darkness with those thoughts filling her mind, she thought her knees would give out. She shook her head, looked up, and realized the hand holding her shirt was trembling.
She heard silence. Nothing but silence
Brunhild held the sleeve between her teeth as she passed her hand through it and a muffled voice leaked out.
“What am I supposed to do…?”
Late at night, Sayama passed through the entrance of the second year general school building on his way to the Kinugasa Library.
He had been on his way back from a convenience store just outside the main entrance of the academy. The bag hanging from his hand contained packing tape, two drinks in plastic bottles, and a bit of light food like rice balls.
Shinjou Setsu was currently unpacking his luggage in their room. During the short period in which the floor was unusable, Sayama had gone out with Baku to buy a late-night meal, but he had noticed the Kinugasa Library’s lights were on when he had returned.
“I thought we locked up for the night when Shinjou-kun arrived earlier…”
…Could it be that someone from 1st-Gear has arrived?
A glance at his watch told him it was 2:01 AM. The atmosphere of the night put Sayama on guard as he walked through the dark central lobby.
Baku glanced around to the left and right as he rode on Sayama’s shoulder. The small creature may have been acting as a lookout. Sayama smiled at the small bit of reassurance that gave him. He then felt tension within his own body and a slight phantom pain from the scars on his left hand.
When he pictured himself objectively, his smile transformed into a bitter one.
“I am walking through the school at night with a convenience store bag in hand while preparing myself for an enemy attack.”
…What am I doing?
But the world had become a very dangerous place for him.
The source of that danger came from the Leviathan Road and the decision of whether to take part in it or not was drawing near.
What should I do? he wondered as he leaned against the wall. If he turned left at the next corner, he would be in the hallway passing in front of the Kinugasa Library.
He would then know why the lights were on. Sayama nodded and looked forward.
He saw only darkness.
The dark emptiness before his eyes suddenly brought the previous day’s battle to mind.
He recalled the forest, the heavy breathing, the werewolf, and that werewolf’s expression just before the conclusion.
At that time, he had chosen to defeat his enemy and Shinjou behind him had not.
But that werewolf’s expression made him question whether it had truly been necessary to defeat it.
And it had been the same today. He had chosen to fight and Shinjou had chosen to save.
But had it truly been necessary to defeat that knight and the others?
Sayama remained silent. He thought of Shinjou, partially closed his eyes, and thought to himself.
…I was wrong.
Why had he been unable to make any choice but the one he had?
…If I could make the decision Shinjou-kun made, I would likely be more confident.
But that was something that could never happen. And so he must not think it.
“How can I hold pride in my own decisions?”
That was something his grandfather had not taught him.
And it was necessary. Not just to join the Leviathan Road, but to get serious about anything.
He took a breath. He opened his eyes and immediately began to move.
He made his way down the hallway in front of the Kinugasa Library while keeping his footsteps silent. He checked on the situation. The door was open and he could see inside. The library looked bright and empty.
He entered, closed the door behind him, and crouched down. The convenience store bag would make noise, so he tightly grabbed it lower than the handles to hold the contents in place.
He faced forward and spotted Siegfried next to the counter at the entrance.
The tall old man was asleep. He was sitting shallowly in his chair, his arms were folded above his stomach, and he looked perfectly peaceful.
A convenience store bag identical to the one Sayama held and an empty bento were placed on the counter.
“…So that is what happened.”
Sayama stood up and sighed. Red flames were visible in the small potbelly stove placed next to the old man. Sayama felt warmth coming from those flames and he waved his arms to relieve the tension from before.
Baku stretched atop his shoulder. He must have been tense as well because he let out a sigh.
“We certainly get along,” muttered Sayama as he stroked Baku’s head.
Immediately afterwards, Sayama’s vision slid away from the scene before his eyes.
Sayama saw a dimly-lit area.
It was not the Kinugasa Library. It was a single wooden room measuring five meters square. A table sat in the center.
The room was filled with a slight crimson light. The light illuminated a high ceiling that left the slope of the roof bare. The walls did not reach the ceiling and the length of the joists suggested there were six rooms total. Sayama was within the largest of the rooms.
And then Sayama looked down at himself.
…I exist only as my vision once more.
This was the past being shown by Baku. Sayama did not know this place
Just as he began to wonder whose past it was, he noticed two figures across the table from him. The first was a young woman and the other was a man sleeping in a chair next to the table. The man had his back to Sayama.
The woman fixed the position of the blanket covering the man. The woman had long and soft red hair and a slender face. She wore a shirt and stole over a simple pale green dress.
Sayama thought it looked like an outfit from the Middle Ages as he looked over at the woman. From the lack of outward awareness in her actions and the way she walked on her tiptoes, Sayama could guess what sort of social status she belonged to. Suddenly, Sayama smiled. He had noticed a stain on the sleeve of her shirt.
…Is that paint?
He lowered his head in his mind and walked forward. He moved to the other side of the table where he could see the two.
A fireplace was located on the wall opposite the table. The fireplace had no firewood or fire.
A single slab of stone was placed in the fireplace.
The blue, slightly cracked slab was thirty centimeters square and it had a single word written on it. It was a foreign word that Sayama did not recognize. However, Sayama could sense the meaning of the word.
The pale crimson light was being produced around the stone slab. It even produced heat and the flickering shimmer of a flame.
This told Sayama a certain truth: he was in 1st-Gear.
Sayama looked toward the two people in front of the fireplace. The woman was adjusting the hem of the sleeping man’s blanket. From Sayama’s new position, he could see the front of the man.
He was a young man. He had broad shoulders and a nicely-shaped nose. His hair was blond and short, and his eyes were closed in sleep. He wore long black clothes over his tall form which looked cramped in the chair.
Sayama recognized the man. And the woman adjusting the hem of the blanket spoke his name.
With her back to Sayama, the woman suddenly tilted her head. She reached a hand past the blanket and underneath the chair. She seemed to have found something.
After a while, she slowly, slowly pushed her hand to the side underneath the chair. Something was hidden by the blanket there and she was pushing it out from under the chair.
What came into view was a birdcage. It was a new birdcage made from wooden branches tied together. A blue bird with a bandage around its right wing stood inside.
The woman sighed. She stood up with the birdcage in her arms and turned in Sayama’s direction.
She looked down while frowning slightly. She sighed again before speaking.
“Nein begged him to do it, I’m sure. And he even made a cage…”
The language was the same one the knight and the others had spoken during the day. He was hearing the meaning rather than the actual words spoken.
The bird in the cage then looked up. It looked up at the woman from its branch and spread its un-bandaged left wing. The wing bent into two at the middle. It gave a quick high-pitched chirp as it showed the woman its wing.
That chirp caused the woman to frantically turn toward Siegfried behind her.
He was asleep, but he turned his head a bit to the side and frowned.
The woman hurriedly placed the birdcage above the fireplace She ignored the bird that tilted its head as it looked at her. She covered the cage with a half-knit brown wool cloth.
She looked back and forth between the sleeping Siegfried and the chirping bird. She whispered toward the birdcage. Sayama smiled when he sensed her words meant “be quiet” and “go to sleep”.
The woman’s words must have gotten through to the bird because it quieted down after chirping a bit longer.
The woman let out a breath and spoke while bringing her arms around the birdcage.
“I suppose we have to keep it…”
“Yes,” replied a quiet voice.
Sayama looked over just as the woman did. Next to the fireplace, an old man was poking his face in below the lintel leading to the passageway.
The old man’s clothes were such a dark green they looked black. He was short and lean, the top of his head lacked any hair, and his face was covered in wrinkles, but his eyes held a powerful light.
The man entered the room and stood before the fireplace. He placed his hands on his lower back.
“Lady Gutrune, he is a soldier from another Gear. We must not let our guard down.”
“But, Doctor Regin, he saved our village. And…” The woman, Gutrune, pointed toward the birdcage covered by the half-knit wool. “Why did he do that? He came to destroy this world, but he stopped the rampage by the mechanical dragon my father, the king, had you make and he also worked to heal that injured bird.”
“…Where is Nein?”
“Sleeping…I think. After finishing dinner, she did nothing but listen to him play music on that instrument.”
Gutrune looked toward the hallway and Sayama followed her gaze.
He could not see anything, but the old man named Regin followed her gaze as well.
“It has been a long time since that six-rowed keyboard has been played. What song did he play?”
“I did not recognize it. He said he had been taught it long ago in his hometown.”
“So the other Gears have cultures much like ours.”
“Yes,” said Gutrune with a nod. She looked over at Siegfried and spoke more quietly. “That instrument had not been played for years, but that was because we had forgotten about it. We have been so busy ever since my father began tightening this Gear’s defenses. …We have had to create the mechanical dragons, extract the concepts to create the Concept Core, and seal off or defend every entrance into 1st-Gear.”
“What do you think of him, princess? Does a softhearted princess like you think he might have saved the village and rescued that bird so we would let our guard down?”
“Why would he need to do that for such a small world? With his power, I think he could have easily destroyed everything without doing that. Yet he has not done so and is now working to learn our language.”
“He said he came from a country with a similar language structure, similar terms, and similar written characters.”
“Yes. And today, he taught us the meaning of the lyrics of that song he sang while playing the keyboard.” Sayama saw Gutrune narrow her eyes as she watched Siegfried. “It was a holy song. It was not a song of demons as those suspicious of him say it is.”
“Are you referring to me?”
“No, Doctor Regin. I would not say you are suspicious of him. You are merely skeptical of everything.”
Gutrune then stroked Regin’s bald head.
Regin stopped her with both hands and, unsure what to do with her arms, she crossed them.
“It seems men do not like it when you stroke their head.”
“…Did you do the same to him?”
“Yes. When I taught him some words and he managed to get his meaning across. For some reason, he did not like it. Yet he always seems so happy when Nein does it.” Gutrune sighed but quickly composed herself and looked back toward Siegfried. “But is everyone in his Gear like him? Do they all end up saving people despite intending to fight?”
“You could perhaps say that he fights despite intending to save people.”
“I suppose so. …But I see possibility in that. It may be dangerous with how vague an idea it is, but if there are a lot of people like him, perhaps they could actually save people in their attempts to destroy.”
“Princess, your excellent upbringing leads you to think about things in such wonderful ways.”
“But how about this? Could someone like him use the holy sword Gram you created? Would that holy sword with a will of its own choose a simple human to be its master?”
Suddenly, Gutrune turned in the direction of Sayama’s vision.
“Hello,” she said with her eyes curved like a bow. Her gaze directly met his own.
Soon thereafter, Sayama realized what had happened. She was speaking to the corner of the room behind him.
Sayama turned around and found a short figure in the darkness of the corner where the light from the fireplace did not reach.
It was a girl. She was short and slender. She had gray hair and purple eyes. She stood behind Sayama while looking up at Gutrune. She was trying to reach up to the birdcage on top of the fireplace.
Behind her, Gutrune spoke with a smile in her voice.
“Were you hiding it all this time? Do not worry. I will not take it away any more. If it is important enough to you that you need to hide it and watch over it this late at night, you can take it with you to your room.”
Those words put a smile on the girl’s face. Gutrune let out a sigh that held no hint of disagreeableness.
“You need to thank him. Okay, Nein?”
That was the girl’s name.
As soon as Sayama heard that short name, he awoke from the past as if waking from a dream.
Once he awoke from the past, Sayama found himself in the Kinugasa Library as before.
However, one thing had changed: Siegfried was now awake. He stood up from his chair and spoke.
“Did Baku show you the past?”
“You can tell?”
“We used to use the same method. You can see a considerable amount in only a few seconds.”
Sayama checked the clock to find it was 2:03 AM. As Siegfried had said, only a small amount of time had passed.
Siegfried pulled a bottle of instant coffee out of the small refrigerator installed below the counter. He pulled two paper cups out from below the counter as well.
Sayama watched Siegfried grab the kettle from the potbelly stove.
“I thought Germans were picky about their coffee.”
“One can be picky about quality and one can be picky about quantity. And I am not so unmannered that I insist on the highest quality in a place intended for books.” He then pointed at a few hardcover books and documents sitting on the counter. “I am glad you are here. I found these while organizing the supply room. Look at that on top.”
Sayama walked up to the counter while the smell of coffee permeated his nose.
After placing his convenience store bag on the counter, he noticed a photograph on top of the pile of documents and books.
It was a large black-and-white photograph in a wooden frame. It was old, stained, and the corner was wrinkled due to expansion. The left half must have sat in the light too much because it looked like it was covered by white fog.
“It is too faded to see very much…”
“It seems it was already in this state when my predecessor found it.”
“So it was already too late. …Is this a commemorative photograph taken at some mountain?”
The location was a mountain somewhere. The background showed the sky as well as a forest and prairie down below.
On the surviving half of the photo, about 10 people were visible. Some wore military-looking uniforms, some wore the samue of Buddhist monks, and some wore mountain climbing gear. Some of the people were women.
Siegfried placed a cup on the counter for Sayama.
“This is from the days of the National Defense Department. After taking the photo, we discussed who looked most like a criminal. It was later used for decoration here because it was too dreary a place otherwise, but I never thought it would still be here.”
“So who was ultimately decided to look most like a criminal?’
“I am forbidden to reveal that information under the conditions of the Leviathan Road.”
“So you do not want to tell me,” said Sayama with a sigh.
However, he felt a sudden palpitation in the left side of his chest. He brought his right hand to his chest and thought about the cause.
He quickly realized why. If this was a commemorative photograph of the National Defense Department…
“…Where is my grandfather?”
“He is next to me. Can you not see him?”
Sayama searched for the Siegfried he had seen in the past a moment before, but unfortunately, the very center was too stained to see well. Once he realized that, the pressure in his chest left like a receding wave.
He let out a breath.
And suddenly his eyes froze in place. He recognized the clothes of one figure in that black-and-white image of the past.
In the center of the back row, someone had their back to the camera. Sayama recognized the person looking up into the sky as the discoverer of Babel he had seen in his dream. It was a one-armed old man.
Siegfried noticed his gaze and said, “That is Tenkyou-sensei. …He founded this school. He said he lost his arm during the Russo-Japanese War.”
“Every time I hear that name I cannot help but think that Tenkyou is a bit of strange name.”
“I have heard theories that the name should actually be read as Amayoshi or Amayasu, but I never heard him use either of those. Those closest to him always called him Tenkyou.”
“Reverence for heaven, hm?”
“It seems it was such an over-the-top name that it embarrassed him. That is why we also suspected his family name of Kinugasa was also a fake. If I had to choose a word to describe him, it would be ‘eccentric’.”
“An excellent choice.”
Sayama picked up the paper cup from the counter.
He drank the coffee which was of course bitter. He looked at the photograph and tasted the bitterness while listening to Siegfried.
“At any rate, he enjoyed teasing people. Everyone fell victim to that at some point or another.”
“Hearing you say that so seriously is enough to convince me.”
Sayama placed the photograph back on the counter and began walking though the library. He was headed for the shelf with the books written by Kinugasa. It was not far away. He arrived almost immediately. The books he had looked at that morning were on the third row from the bottom.
He opened the first volume which discussed Norse legends. The text was written horizontally and from left to right.
Sayama placed the book on a nearby table. With his left-arm unusable, Sayama realized something about the horizontally-written book.
“This is made so the pages can be easily turned with the right hand…”
“He really was a selfish person. He announced that he came from the Imperial Court, but I later learned that was a lie.”
“This school was not made by a proper adult, was it?”
“He liked to brag and was very broad-minded. When he was involved with creating the National Defense Department, he was already researching the different mythologies of the world even before we learned of the Concept War. …He knew that the different Gears were fighting, but he waited until we realized it as well,” said Siegfried. “He was the founder of this school and he was an authority in the fields of folklore and mythology. He is also the one who designed this library. During the National Defense Department days, he would often come here when he needed research material. I hear he concentrated mostly on mythology after discovering Babel, but he dealt more with technology when working with the Izumo Company. He was the one who constructed our earliest concept weapons.”
Sayama looked at the other rows on the bookshelf and saw both books related to mythology and books related to engineering.
The mythology books were often about the ten mythologies of the different worlds, but there were also a lot related to the Bible.
“In other words… You could say our place here was created by the Concept War?”
“A lot happened back then.”
Sayama nodded, returned the book to the shelf, and walked back to the counter.
Siegfried picked up the photograph on the counter.
“The National Defense Department became UCAT after World War Two. Until then, these were the primary members. Thinking back, we were truly devoted back then.”
“Why did it become UCAT after the war?”
“Oh, UCAT was originally an American and European organization. They learned of our existence when Germany lost and they discovered some documents I had sent there. And after that, Japan was crushed by America.”
“So Germany merely ‘lost’ while Japan was ‘crushed’?”
“Germany only had its capital occupied. It never gave in.”
“Isn’t it a bit late to be that right-wing?”
“Do not worry about it,” said Siegfried as he passed the photograph over the counter to Sayama. “At any rate, America and England arrived and discovered us. Each country had suffered losses to strange monsters that had appeared in the war. They created UCAT as a countermeasure. However, the National Defense Department’s research and technology was superior to theirs.”
“Well, of course it was. Thanks to the stimulation of the ley lines using the Divine States-World Interaction, Japan had more contact with the Concept War than any other country.”
“Yes. They were at the stage of investigating what had happened while we had made our way to the actual battles. But for the sake of America’s pride, the National Defense Department became Japanese UCAT and we agreed to cooperate with America. However, only those on the scene were sent in, so most of those that arrived from the victorious nations were crowded out. After quite a bit of conflict, we ultimately destroyed the other Gears.”
Siegfried fell silent for several seconds before suddenly placing his cup on the counter.
The cup produced a solid noise as it struck the counter. By that time, the old man was already moving.
Sayama watched his long strides.
The tall man covered the distance from the counter to the door in only five seconds.
Before Sayama could ask what was the matter, Siegfried placed a hand on the doorknob and pulled it to the side.
Sayama thought he heard a voice at that time.
He did not know if Siegfried had muttered it or if it was a remnant of the past he had seen in the library, but the voice spoke a name Sayama remembered.
With that quiet voice, the door slid open to reveal the cold hallway beyond.
Brunhild stood before the Kinugasa Library. The indoor shoes she wore were covered in outside dirt.
Her shoulders and the legs supporting her body were trembling slightly and she could not stop it.
The small bird in the cardboard box she held was lying on its side and breathing shallowly.
Brunhild’s lips moved. No voice came out, but the movement of her lips formed the words she needed to say.
She had to say that one word.
She had gone to the cafeteria, the girls’ dorm, and the faculty building, but she had not found anyone to speak that word to. This was the only place left. The Kinugasa Library was her only option. She had hurried here once she had realized that.
But now that she was here…
The trembling of her legs refused to stop, the ends of her eyebrows lowered, and her head hung down. She felt as if something heavy were sitting inside her stomach.
“Why?” she muttered in a trembling voice. “Why is it him again?”
But her lowered vision showed her the small bird.
Its breathing was shallow. When she saw the slight up and down movement of its body, Brunhild made up her mind.
With her body still trembling, she took a step toward the door.
Her footstep was quiet.
However, the response it received was forceful and loud.
The door slid open in front of her eyes.
The object before her eyes was removed and she saw light.
A tall shadow stood in the center of that light.
Siegfried Zonburg. That was the shadow’s name.
His blue eyes looked straight at her and his expression was not even remotely harsh.
His beard-covered mouth moved as he asked a question. The voice sounded so very nostalgic to her.
“What is it?”
He then spoke her name.
He used her current name. As if in response to that, Brunhild’s vision grew blurry.
A breath escaped and it turned into a small cough. She had tried to speak the words she had prepared.
Please. Help this small bird.
She had to speak those words. She had to speak them firmly so her intention would be conveyed. And she had to ensure he did not learn of her identity.
She spoke. Or rather, she tried to.
Her lips trembled without moving, another breath escaped, and she audibly sucked it back in.
As her shoulders trembled and she began breathing heavily, she realized something was trailing down her cheek. It felt warmer than her body temperature.
What was it?
She did not know.
What she did know was what words she had to say. She looked forward. In her blurry vision, the figure standing before her of course looked blurred. Brunhild spoke to that man who seemed to have an indefinite form.
Help this small bird.
As she spoke, a breath seemed to catch in her throat.
At that moment, something passed by at her feet. It was the sensation of a black cat. She looked down and the blurriness in her vision spilled down her cheek. As her vision grew a bit clearer, she saw the black cat rubbing its head against the man’s shin. And she heard a voice from above.
“Understood. …I will help you.”
Brunhild looked up. That movement caused something larger to fall from her eyes and her vision grew perfectly clear.
In her raised vision, she saw Siegfried. He was looking down at her. His angular face held no smile, anger, or sorrow. He was merely staring back at her.
Brunhild raised her still trembling voice in a question.
“It is true there are occasionally conflicts between us.” He nodded and took a step to the side while inviting her in with one hand. “However, you have come to me after admitting there is something you cannot do yourself. You formed words and tried to open this door. And it was all for someone other than yourself.” He took a breath. “That action takes courage. I have no reason to refuse you. And you have no reason to cry. After all, I will save this bird and the bird will thank you for making the right decision. …Come in, young girl. This was your decision.”
Once it became clear Siegfried was going to remain in the library all night, Sayama left and returned to his dorm.
Before he had left, Sayama had put new water in the kettle and bought three corn soups from a vending machine next to the school building.
…I really have become kind.
With that thought, he made his way to the second floor of the dorm building. He stepped out into the hallway and noted there was no luggage in front of the room anymore.
He looked in and found the room’s lights were off.
Did Shinjou-kun go to sleep ahead of me? he wondered as he walked through the door.
The room was illuminated by the pale moonlight and it had been cleaned up. A few of the boxes remained on the floor, but…
“Is this the luggage for the shared spaces?”
There was no sign Shinjou had touched the shelves to the side of the bed, the trunk next to the wall, or any of the other storage areas he shared with Sayama. Unopened boxes were sitting in front of them waiting to be unloaded.
I suppose I should have returned earlier, thought Sayama as he placed the convenience store bag on top of his desk.
He found a note on the desk. It was written on a piece of loose leaf paper. In the center, it said, “I am feeling tired, so I will go to sleep ahead of you. Sorry.”
After reading the note, Sayama looked over at the bottom bunk. He saw Shinjou’s silhouette lying atop the mattress.
…So this is what it is like to have a roommate.
When he nodded and placed the note back on the desk, Baku suddenly jumped down from his shoulder and onto the desk. Baku ran over and jumped to the desk that would be Shinjou’s.
The writing equipment Shinjou had brought had been placed on the desk.
There was a red cloth pencil case, binders of loose leaf paper, and a notebook-style computer. There were two different types of loose leaf paper. One was lined and the other was Japanese-style manuscript paper.
Baku climbed onto one of the loose leaf paper binders and quickly went to sleep.
…Is that important to Shinjou-kun?
Baku did not respond or even turn toward Sayama. He was already curled up and fast asleep.
Sayama gave a small smile.
He looked forward toward his own desk and saw the study equipment he had used since the first year.
He reached out toward the corner of the desk. A single picture frame was placed there.
He grabbed the small wooden frame with his bandaged left hand and brought it into the moonlight.
The picture showed a large gym. It was brightly lit and a white winners’ platform was placed at the bottom. The winner’s platform was divided into three levels. Boys wearing karate uniforms stood at 1st place and 3rd place.
Sayama was not in the picture.
He silently returned the picture frame to its original spot. The scars on his left hand glowed white in the moonlight.
He heard a sudden noise. It was the sound of rustling cloth.
Realizing what it was, he turned toward the source of the sound.
The sound had been caused by Shinjou turning in his sleep on the bottom bunk.
Shinjou’s hair was unbound and spread out across the bed’s mattress. His body was bent in a shallow V-shape and a thin blanket covered him. He was wearing a white shirt.
The blanket had come off slightly, so his feet and white thighs were visible.
A slight voice escaped his lips and his expression changed slightly.
With a short breath, he adjusted his position. His weak movements had deepened the V-shape of his body.
The blanket slid to the side and the white underwear covering his butt could be seen peeking out from under his shirt. Sayama visually followed the lines of his thighs, one of which was slightly forward of the other. The lines continued in long curves that curved in all the right places.
Sayama looked at the white underwear covered butt and tilted his head.
“Is that really not Sadame-kun?”
He brought a hand to his chin and thought. He realized he would know once and for all if he removed the underwear before his eyes.
And he continued to think.
He thought on the situation, the suddenness of it, what would happen afterwards, and how he could handle the aftermath. And he finally decided on a plan.
“If I explain the situation, he will understand.”
He gave a deep nod and felt those words held great persuasive power.
His doubts were gone. He now began to take action. He leaned over the bed as if covering Shinjou with his own body.
He then began to reach toward the cloth displaying the round shape of Shinjou’s butt.
But then a quiet voice escaped Shinjou’s lips. He spoke in a trembling, broken voice.
Sayama raised his head and looked toward Shinjou’s face.
Shinjou was frowning and casting down his closed eyes. His mouth opened slightly as he spoke.
“I am always wrong…”
His partially disturbed breathing sucked in the words. He could no longer speak, but his expression remained unchanged.
Sayama recalled the words Shinjou had spoken and shook his head.
For the past few days, he had been trying to give meaning to what people said in their sleep.
…Am I that vague a person?
Sayama looked at Shinjou’s face, but he spoke as if as a warning to himself.
“That is not the case. …I guarantee it.”
As he spoke, Sayama used his outstretched hand to grab the blanket. He placed it back over Shinjou’s body.
He then lightly tapped Shinjou’s back. He did so slowly as if lulling a child to sleep.
Shinjou’s breathing gradually grew steadier. However, the stern expression did not leave his face.
This is my limit for now, realized Sayama.
Sayama nodded in understanding and got up from the bed. He looked out the window and saw the white moon in the sky. Sayama opened his mouth to speak as he looked at the moon sending out moonlight that could be called cold.
“I am acting unlike myself, but this may be my only chance to do so. Will I continue to be hated until my body is destroyed or will I give up on everything? …I must choose one or the other before long.”
He reached his left hand out toward the moon. The pain in his bandaged left arm ran up through his shoulder and into his head.
However, Sayama spread his scarred left hand and then clenched it into a fist as if grasping the moon.
He let out a breath and some words.
“What are the conditions for being a villain?”
- This is the literal meaning of the kanji for the name that can be read as Tenkyou, Amayoshi, or Amayasu.
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