Owari no Chronicle:Volume2 Chapter 21
Chapter 21: The Path to Relief
When one steps off that path
Pain appears before one’s eyes
So what happens if one wishes for pain?
Sayama returned to the school and walked to the Kinugasa Library.
He took a seat at a table near the counter, opened a book, and read through it.
He placed one side of the book on the table and flipped through the pages with only his right arm. It was the first volume of the mythology research books written by Kinugasa Tenkyou. He was reading the portion related to the Nibelungen epic poem.
The old letterpress printing style caused the pictures to bleed through the pages, but it was easy enough to make out the writing.
The Nibelungen was a European epic primarily passed down in Germany that was based on the Norse legend known as the Volsunga Saga.
“According to the saga, a young man named Sigurd trained under a man named Regin and slayed a dragon named Fafnir with the holy sword Gram he was given. When he drank some of Fafnir’s blood, he became able to hear the voices of animals. The birds informed him that Regin planned to kill him to take the honor for himself.”
He flipped the page.
“After killing Regin, Sigurd fell in love with a woman named Brynhildr, but he was made to forget her with magic and he instead chose a woman named Gudrun. However, Brynhildr resented him when she found out and decided to destroy them all.”
As Sayama closed the book, another voice continued the story.
“In the saga, Sigurd was killed by an assassin in his sleep, but in the epic poem, he died after being stabbed through the heart from the spot on the left of his back that had not been covered in Fafnir’s blood due to a leaf falling there.”
Those words were spoken by the tall man holding a paper cup behind the counter.
Sayama turned toward him and asked, “This has a few terms in common with reality. …Have you ever noticed that? In German, Sigurd has the name Siegfried. And Gudrun is Gutrune. …Has anyone else checked on those terms in common?”
“No, they have not.”
“I see.” Sayama tapped the spine of the hardcover book. “I suppose that would also be the answer if there was no need to check.”
The slight tapping noise caused Baku to raise his head and emulate it by tapping Sayama’s shoulder. Sayama smiled bitterly.
“What does it feel like to be hated?”
Siegfried took a sip from his cup before answering.
“The one saving grace is that all that enmity will end when I die. I have been targeted a few times in the past, but they were not ideal, so I did not die.”
“Hah. You have quite the troublesome death wish. …So what kind of death do you want?”
“Being killed by someone I betrayed and still hates me would simply be too horrible for me to accept. That would be identical to Sigurd’s death.”
Siegfried placed his cup on the counter and laughed at the hard sound of the paper.
“Sayama Mikoto, give this thought. Give this serious thought. Being hated will be inevitable. The question is how small you can make that grudge and who it is that will understand you.”
“And did you fail on both counts?”
Siegfried remained silent, so Sayama sighed.
“What a troublesome idea. Being an adult really is troublesome. You knew something like this could be waiting for you, so why?”
Sayama turned toward Siegfried. And he slowly spoke as if to himself.
“Why did you get involved in the Concept War?”
In the center of Sayama’s vision, the old man stared directly back at him and did not move.
Sayama waited. He waited for his words to vanish from the air of that library.
And once everything had returned to silence, his answer came.
“That was after I had managed to escape fighting in World War Two. I knew all too well that I would lose something if I fought. I did not want any more war. However…”
Siegfried trailed off, but he did not stop. He shook his head and continued.
“Everyone has their own reason for fighting. There is no meaning in me telling you mine. No matter how many ideals they hold, a human will die from a single bullet. When you see that truth before your eyes, you will see what your true motives are.”
“You mean I will see what is worth risking losing my life to a single bullet?”
“I will not tell you not to fear death. But do not look back. If you want to remain an idealist, do not step onto the battlefield. And if you do step onto the battlefield, do not die. Do you understand what I mean, at least somewhat? You have experienced the battlefield twice now due to our skirmishes with 1st-Gear. What did you think of the people there and of yourself?”
Sayama nodded, thought about the werewolf and the knight, and finally thought about Shinjou.
He kept in his heart the thought of her trembling yet still stepping onto the battlefield and then he tried to say something.
He was unable to say it.
However, he understood what he and she had in common. He understood what it was they both wanted.
“A battlefield on which we might die, hm?”
There was no doubting what they would find there.
Everything else was up to him. With that in mind, Sayama stood up.
“Thank you. You helped guide me in the right direction.”
He slid the book across the table and grabbed it in his right hand as it began to fall off the edge. His left arm was still not fully healed.
With the book hanging down from his right hand, Sayama walked toward the shelf of books by Kinugasa.
And as he did, he looked outside the narrow portion of window visible between the bookshelves.
The window showed the sun to the southwest and a figure jogging down the road toward the main entrance.
It was Shinjou Setsu. He had his hair bound behind his neck and he held a wash basin and a towel in front of his chest.
…Is he visiting the public bath I told him about last night?
It was quite early for a bath. A glance at his watch told him it was 4:30 PM.
Just as he began to wonder why Shinjou would take a bath so early, a thought came to Sayama.
“Is he actually her?”
“Did you just say something rather odd?”
Sayama ignored the old man.
…Is that why he is bathing while no one else will be around?
It was only a hypothesis. He would never find the answer if he did not check.
And that meant he had to go. He had to check once more whether Shinjou Setsu was actually Shinjou Sadame.
He made up his mind and began to move.
Sayama quickly returned the book to the bookshelf and took quick steps across the library.
His footsteps were loud and Siegfried frowned.
“Excuse me,” said Sayama with a wave of the arm.
Leaving the library and running back to the student dorm would take two minutes. If he chased after Shinjou, he would arrive just as the boy was entering the bathtub. He would be able to catch him in the act.
Sayama would be victorious. With that in mind, he opened the library door. But then…
He brought himself to a stop.
Someone stood directly in front of him. A small figure stood beyond the opened door in the hallway filled with the light of the setting sun.
A black cat stood at the person’s feet. It was a girl holding a cardboard box with a small bird inside.
Siegfried called her name from behind Sayama.
Brunhild watched Sayama Mikoto rush past her. He was nonsensically muttering “bath” over and over, so it did not seem related to 1st-Gear.
Brunhild took a step forward as she listened to those fading footsteps.
As she did, Siegfried stepped out from behind the counter. He moved quickly and with long strides. It only took him five steps.
“Do you have another problem with the bird?”
Brunhild expressionlessly shook her head. There was something she had to say.
…Will I be able to say it this time?
Brunhild opened her mouth as she thought about the previous night. Her lips moved as she practiced the words.
The fact that she noticed that movement showed that her legs were not trembling and her body was not cowering.
And so Brunhild raised her head. Her hair waved, she created a face she thought of as expressionless, and she looked up at his blue eyes.
“I will be leaving until tomorrow morning, so please look after the bird.”
“This is quite sudden.”
It looked as if Siegfried’s eyes had widened slightly.
However, he was not refusing or rebuking her. She closed her eyes, lowered her head, and held out the arms holding the box.
“Yes, but…take care of it.” Her head drooped down even further. “Please. You only need to look after it until tomorrow morning.”
She raised her head. She made sure her movements did not cause her to draw back the box.
As she looked at him, Siegfried finally nodded.
“Tomorrow morning, you said?”
“Yes. I will be back by then.”
Siegfried nodded once more and took the box.
Brunhild almost breathed a sigh of relief, but she resisted.
Without changing her expression, she looked at the bird in the box. It tilted its head as it looked back up at her. Siegfried took the box and the bird must have been afraid to leave her because it spread it wings.
And it flapped them.
However, it could not fly. It fell over, stood back up, and looked up at her again.
Brunhild spoke to the bird.
“Don’t worry. He understands the language of birds.”
As soon as she said that, Brunhild heard a quiet laugh. She looked up at Siegfried’s face, but his expression was the same as ever.
“Is something the matter?”
“N-no. It is nothing. …Thank you for helping.”
With that quick comment Brunhild turned around.
After the third step, she heard the library door close behind her and the chirping of the bird grew more distant.
She passed through the central lobby and headed for the art room. The black cat sighed down at her feet.
“You managed to say the words you had prepared.”
“Yes. I wonder why.”
“Because this is something you knew was important.”
“Really?” she asked before having a thought.
If what the cat said was true, was it the bird or the man she had found to be important?
A shopping district had been built just outside the main entrance of the school.
In it was a 24-hour public bath named Eternal Sunflower.
It was an old-looking facility made of concrete and with a tiled roof, but it stood out because of the large greenhouse with a metal framework to the south. Tropical plants and out of season sunflowers were visible in that three-story structure.
The curtains labeling the men’s bath and the women’s bath had a sunflower mark printed on them.
“The 24-hour public bath named Eternal Sunflower uses underground pipes to use the heat of the school’s boiler facility. It has a few sister facilities outside the school, but this is the one I told Shinjou-kun about last night.”
Sayama passed by the attendant booth, greeted the old woman who worked as the attendant during the day, and put a 100 yen coin in the ticket machine.
He took the card-style locker key the ticket machine gave him and he moved Baku from his shoulder to his head. He removed his clothes in the changing area, placed them in a locker, and draped a towel over his shoulder.
He removed the bandages from his left arm, making the charm covering the wound visible. It had shown no sign of growing damp during his shower the day before, so Sayama assumed it held some sort of power.
He locked the locker and his preparations were complete.
Just to check, he weighed himself at the scale. His weight was the same as the day before.
Everything was going well. All that was left was to head into the bath with nothing but his towel. Using the public bath’s wash basins was the stylish thing to do. And opening the bath door with both hands was the Sayama style.
“Here I go,” said Sayama as he took the first step inside.
The steam-filled bath was large. Four square bathtubs that were 10 meters across were lined up to the left and right and washing areas were prepared along the walls.
As he walked down the center area between the bathtubs, his footsteps sounded quietly on the cooled bathwater below.
Sayama searched for his target in his vision that was obscured by the color white.
And he spotted that target. He was in the farthest bathtub on Sayama’s left. Sayama had spotted the color black on the closest corner of that tub.
That color was the color of hair.
Sayama walked in that direction as if cutting through the steam.
As he approached, he saw slender shoulders and black hair dropping into the wash basin sitting outside the bathtub.
That back was submerged up to the bottom of the shoulders, but it was definitely Shinjou’s.
…He should submerge himself up to the neck.
After deciding he needed to give Shinjou that advice, Sayama began thinking about how to make his approach.
From the boy’s reaction at their first meeting, Shinjou Setsu seemed to be needlessly wary.
Sayama needed to approach him in a way that lowered his guard.
He considered showing unpredictability by leaping into the bathtub or showing open-heartedness by stepping over Shinjou’s head, but he concluded a safer option would be better.
Even as he thought, Sayama continued to approach and observe. He could see the side of Shinjou’s face as he soaked in the tub. His eyes were closed and his expression was relaxed. His body that Sayama was so curious about was sitting on one of the steps on the inside of the tub and his arms were embracing himself.
His arms and the towel worn within the tub hid that body.
…He is wearing the towel inside the bathtub?
Shinjou’s action made Sayama feel a bit dizzy, but he endured. He could not put Shinjou on guard. However, it was true he could check on his body if the towel were not there. He had to eliminate that trap.
What came first was the boy’s wariness. If Sayama could eliminate that, the rest would be easy.
Sayama silently got down on his knees behind that back soaking in the bathtub. He picked up a nearby wash basin and spoke in order to lower Shinjou’s guard.
“Sir, would you like me to wash your back?”
Shinjou turned around in shock and…
He let out a scream and fell full force into the bathtub.
A splash and steam filled the air and his long hair was dragged into the tub.
Sayama climbed over the edge of the tub and placed his legs in the waves of hot water, but he remained on his knees.
“What a noisy child. You must not swim in the bath tub.”
“Wh-why are you talking about my back all of a sudden!?”
“I merely wish to wash your back. There is no need to be suspicious.”
“That’s plenty suspicious!!”
There is no reasoning with this person, thought Sayama as he brought a hand to his forehead.
Shinjou stood while hiding his body with his towel and then remained motionless. Through the steam, Sayama could see Shinjou’s eyebrows raised.
“Why are you so suspicious?”
“This has nothing to do with suspicion. …Did you even stop to think what the people who see this might think!?”
Shinjou pointed toward the washing areas along the wall. Soaking at the edge of the bathtub with his arms spread was…
“Oh, it’s Izumo.”
“Hey,” said Izumo as he raised a hand in greeting.
Sayama nodded and said, “Do not worry, Shinjou-kun. That is not a person, so his opinion does not count.”
“Sayama, you idiot, have you ever seen my chromosomes?”
“I can tell without looking. You clearly have about two more than a human.”
“Really? I must be pretty great to have more than a human.”
“Um… Don’t chimpanzees have two more chromosomes than humans?” commented Shinjou.
“What? Screw you, Sayama… You… You’re pretty smart, you idiot.”
“This does not matter, so calm down.”
Izumo had begun to stand up, but he sank back down and let out a breath. He looked back and forth between Sayama and Shinjou.
“I don’t know what the confusion is about, Sayama, but you need to wash yourself before entering the bathtub. That is one of the five rules of Eternal Sunflower.”
Sayama nodded and looked toward Shinjou. He stood in the center of the bathtub.
“Why do you look so angry?” asked Sayama.
“I do not believe I have done anything to you yet.”
“How about you say his very existence is odd? And wait… What do you mean ‘yet’?”
Sayama ignored that suggestion from Izumo. At any rate, Shinjou would have no escape once Sayama washed himself.
He stood up and walked to the washing area. Behind him, he heard Shinjou walk through the tub and back to his previous spot. He could see it in the washing area’s mirror. Sayama sat in a seat placed in front of that mirror near Izumo. Before using the shower, Sayama filled a nearby wash basin with water a bit cooler than human skin and placed Baku inside.
Baku floated for a bit, but then sank without struggling.
Sayama pulled him out and placed his front legs on the edge of the wash basin. Baku seemed to be a nonresistant animal.
Sayama took a breath, untangled his swept back hair and ran his hands through it.
“Izumo,” he said quietly.
“What is it, you idiot?”
“I have a question for you.”
“Oh? What lowly question do you have from someone as great as me?”
Sayama nodded and began rubbing the provided soap on his skin.
“How was Shinjou-kun’s body?”
Sayama saw Izumo turn toward him in the mirror. He nodded once with a serious expression.
“Here is my opinion on this matter: you are insane. Well? Do you get it? If not, let me put it more simply. You. Are. An. Idiot. Well? Get it now?”
“I see you still have no reservations about saying hurtful things. Go to hell, you son of a bitch.” Sayama took a breath and stared straight at Izumo through the mirror. “I am not joking about this. I am completely serious. …How was Shinjou-kun’s body?”
In the mirror, Izumo’s face darkened, his expression clouded over, and he averted his gaze.
“Sorry. I didn’t realize you were serious.”
“I am. As long as you understand.”
“Yeah, sorry. I would never have thought you were serious. I’m satisfied with Chisato.”
“I see. Then I suppose I asked you something you cannot answer. Is this where I should say, ‘die, you useless bastard’?”
“Is this where I should say, ‘get lost, you gay bastard’?”
Just as Sayama silently held the shower in his left hand and the valve for the hot water in his right, he heard a splash behind him.
He checked in the mirror and saw a back with long black hair trying to sneak out of the bathtub.
You are not getting away, thought Sayama as he brushed up his hair once, turned around, lowered his hips, and dashed.
“Wait just a second!”
As he ran, he saw Shinjou try to turn around.
He could not let Shinjou prepare. Making sure Shinjou did not notice took top priority.
To escape Shinjou’s sight, Sayama dropped to his knees on the wet tile floor.
He slid on his knees through the puddles of water.
As his sliding produced a wet noise, he saw Shinjou’s eyes cut across horizontally as if he had lost sight of something.
In the next moment, he grabbed hold of Shinjou’s waist.
That backwards-turned naked body gave a start when Sayama’s hands grabbed onto its waist.
Shinjou looked down at Sayama from above. He had to twist his shoulders and neck around to do so.
“Wh-what are you doing, Sayama-kun!?”
While sitting on his knees, Sayama held onto Shinjou as he tried to twist his body around and escape.
“Wh-what!? I don’t understand what you mean!”
“You do not understand? I am saying to remain relaxed and tranquil while not panicking.”
“That isn’t what I meant!!” shouted Shinjou, but he stopped trying to escape. He blushed and asked, “Wh-what is it? If you need something, just tell me already!”
“There is something I must see. It is not something you can simply tell me. And… It is an important matter for you.”
“Important?’ Shinjou frowned and averted his gaze. Finally, he said, “Y-you aren’t going to do some other strange thing to me, are you?”
“Of course not. When have I ever done anything strange to you?”
“U-um, Sayama-kun? …Please look either to your right or left.”
Sayama chose left. He looked over and saw himself and Shinjou in a mirror in a washing area.
He was sitting on his knees and he had his arms wrapped around Shinjou’s butt.
It was nothing more than one step in the process of determining if Shinjou was a girl or not.
“I see nothing strange there,” he commented.
Shinjou hung his head down with a look of realization.
“Oh, I get it now. Strange people do not realize how strange they are.”
“Such a sad story.”
“I’m talking about you!!”
“It seems you have a persecution complex. ...At any rate, please stay still.”
“Uuh…” groaned Shinjou.
Sayama lowered his head and looked forward.
There he found a butt. The two round humps were sticking out toward him a bit because of how he was holding on to Shinjou. Water droplets from the bath could be seen on it. His body line extending up and down to his waist and thighs swelled out.
It is very round, thought Sayama. How magnificent.
He squeezed with his hands a bit and those round humps distorted softly. The water droplets that had collected between the flesh made their way around and dripped down. Seeing that, Sayama gave a mental sigh of admiration.
…How erotic, he thought earnestly.
But as soon as he realized what he had thought, he shook his head.
He needed to see if Shinjou was female or not. This was no time to be holding a viewing of Shinjou’s ass. However…
“How can I sum up this beauty in a single word?”
It was round and erotic. Sayama thought for a moment, let out a breath, and expressed it in a single world.
“Wh-what? What did you just say!?”
“I merely found a new expression is all. Do not worry about it.”
Sayama realized he could not determine Shinjou’s sex from the butt. That was obvious. And so he spoke.
“Now, let us do this. Turn toward me, Shinjou-kun.”
“U-u-um, Sayama-kun? Do you know what you’re saying? And what do you mean ‘do this’?”
“It is too late to ask questions! This is important!” shouted Sayama.
All strength left Shinjou’s body. Sayama looked up and saw the ends of his eyebrows drooping.
“D-do I really…have to turn toward you?”
“Yes. There is something I cannot know otherwise.”
Shinjou averted his gaze without speaking and Sayama loosened his grip on Shinjou’s butt.
Shinjou slowly turned toward him. He stood with his knees together, but Sayama showed no kindness.
“Why are you acting so embarrassed? Move that towel and your arms.”
“D-do I really have to show you? Th-this isn’t right. You’re going to do something strange, aren’t you?’
“How many times do I have to tell you? This is important for you, Shinjou-kun.”
“Really? Is it really important for the two of us? Is it really?”
Sayama stared silently back and Shinjou closed his eyes a bit. His cheeks reddened, he bit his lower lip, and his body stiffened.
“Don’t do anything weird.”
Shinjou dropped the towel. The wet cloth softly struck the floor.
However, Shinjou was still using his hands to cover his chest and the area between his legs.
“Move your hands,” said Sayama.
Shinjou did not nod. However, he lifted his hands, let out a moan, and covered his face with those hands.
Sayama had watched the hands move up, but he now slowly lowered that gaze.
The eyes on that blushing face looked down at him through the gaps in the fingers.
His shoulders were drooping down and the chest between them was flat. It was the same chest Sayama had touched the day before.
Water droplets ran down his damp skin from the chest to his sides and navel. The water seemed to dissolve into his skin.
Sayama followed the falling water droplets with his gaze. He finally arrived at Shinjou’s crotch.
“Wh-what does that mean? N-no. Don’t stare like that.”
Sayama had confirmed that Shinjou was a boy. The proof lay right before his eyes. It was certainly there.
Sayama had no more room for doubt and he felt a sense of loss at having his suspicions disappear.
Shinjou spoke from above in a trembling voice.
“A-are you done? You are, right? You’ve seen enough, right?”
Sayama started to agree, but then his thoughts ground to a halt.
…Wait a second. I can clearly see it before my eyes, but…
What if this was some kind of trick?
He knew the level of technology UCAT had. They could easily pull something like this off.
If he was going to check, he had to do so thoroughly enough to have no doubts remaining.
However, Shinjou’s guard was currently raised. Asking for permission here would likely only be wasted time.
And so Sayama gently grabbed it.
The texture, the warmth, the weight, and the material all checked out. That left strength.
In what was more an examination than a confirmation, Sayama tugged downwards.
He tugged a total of three times, changing the direction slightly each time.
But it did not come off. That meant it was not a trick.
He knew for sure now. There was no mistaking it. His suspicions finally vanished.
Yes, this confirms it, thought Sayama as he raised his head.
He breathed a sigh of relief and his shoulders drooped. He looked Shinjou in the eye and a slight smile naturally formed on his lips. This was good news. He nodded and spoke.
“You can rest easy, Shinjou-kun. You are a boy.”
“I already knew that!!”
A slap arrived from below his field of vision as if the hand were scooping something up.
It struck Sayama’s jaw, his head rotated backwards, and he collapsed to the side.
The setting sun sank into the mountain range to the west.
In the city, the movements of that crimson light could only be seen from a high vantage point.
A pair of eyes followed that sinking sun from the rooftop of Taka-Akita Academy’s second year general school building. Those eyes were above the bell tower attached to the roof. A single figure sat there.
The figure wore black clothes and a three-cornered hat. That girl holding a broom with a giant scythe tied to it was Brunhild.
She looked toward the silhouette of the western mountain range outlined by the setting sun. She remained perfectly still, held her arms around her knees, and hid so those down below would be unable to see her.
A black cat sat next to her. The cat looked up at its unmoving owner and tilted its head.
While still looking to the west, Brunhild expressionlessly spoke.
“Don’t worry. I have already dealt with my problem.”
“Yes, this will tell me everything. If he arrives when we take back the holy sword Gram, it will mean he has abandoned the bird I left with him. I will know he has betrayed me.”
“And if he does not come?”
“Then I will forgive him,” said Brunhild while narrowing her eyes slightly. A small sigh escaped her lips. “But this question is a one-way issue. I will not return here. If we win, I will join the negotiations alongside Lord Hagen as a member of 1st-Gear. If we lose, I will die.”
“So you won’t be coming back.” The black cat’s head drooped. “Then I should confess something. I was the one that tore up the calendar in your room.”
“That is fine. It was provided by the school, so I forgive you.”
“Thanks. But I was also the one that destroyed the cup the school gave you.”
“I see… I quite liked that cup, but I will not be returning. I forgive you.”
“I also stained your pillow with drool and camouflaged it so it looked like you did it.”
“I see… So that’s what happened.”
“Also, I hid where I peed a bit under your blanket. That is why it has smelled recently.”
“…I see. So that’s what the smell was. If there is anything else, say it now. You will be freed from your pain.”
“Just out of curiosity, what do you mean by freed from my pain?”
“You will not have to feel anything ever again… Wait, don’t run away!”
When Brunhild began to stand, she saw the cityscape lit up by the setting sun.
She stopped moving and looked out in every direction. She saw houses, buildings, fields, small forests, and a mesh of roads.
That entire landscape did not realize she was here standing in the light wind.
For some reason, she frowned. The black cat turned toward her.
“What is it?”
“Nothing.” Brunhild reached out a hand and grabbed the cat. “Farewell, scenery. You are completely different from the forest I once lived in.”
With those words, Brunhild nodded and enacted her punishment.
Sayama and Izumo each drank a bottle of coffee milk on a bench in Eternal Sunflower’s meeting area. The wooden bench had faded red paint and it creaked under Izumo’s large body.
When Sayama saw he still had some milk left in his bottle, he placed it on its side next to him. He lowered Baku from his head, and the beast stuck its head in the sideways bottle and began licking up the remaining milk.
“That is a truly useless animal.”
“Apparently, it actually lives by watching and showing people’s pasts and dreams. It will eat anything you give it, though.”
“But what do you think, Sayama? Putting a hand on your hips when drinking coffee milk is the standard, but what about using both hands?”
With an outline of the bottle around his mouth, Izumo looked over his shoulder. Sayama followed his gaze and found the curtain for the women’s bath.
“Are you waiting for Kazami?”
“Did you even listen to my majestic comment?”
“I avoid doing things which have no value for my life.”
“I don’t see how those bizarre actions of yours in the bath have any value to your life.”
“They do. Now I will make no misunderstandings about Shinjou-kun.”
“I think you’ll be the one people have misunderstandings about now… That was a splendid concussion. There’s nothing harder to describe than a guy collapsed in the bath with his ass sticking out.”
“I have not received a blow that solid in quite a long time. I must have let my guard down.”
Izumo sighed when he heard that. He looked around and confirmed that no one else was nearby.
He placed his empty bottle on the ground and spoke.
“Speaking of valuable things, what are you going to do about the Leviathan Road?”
“You mean that scene of death?”
“Yes. You saw Chisato’s shot, right? And then the enemy killed himself. A situation like that might come to us next time.”
“Then why do you and Kazami take part?”
“I’m the son of IAI’s president…and there’s some other issues, too.” Izumo turned toward Sayama without a hint of a smile on his face. “We are prepared. But what about you? There’s nothing in your school life, but it’s better than dying, right?”
“That is true, but what do you think would happen if I did not agree to the Leviathan Road?”
“Our unit would be broken up. The adults would handle it. Our supervisor is Ooshiro Itaru, after all.”
“Ooshiro Itaru… Does he have that much power?”
“I don’t really know. Most members of Japanese UCAT died along with IAI’s relief team during the great Kansai earthquake at the end of 1995. From what I hear, they got wrapped up in a secondary disaster.”
“Is that what led to Japanese UCAT being temporarily dissolved? I heard about that from Fasolt.”
“Yeah. After that, it seems only the upper levels and Ooshiro Itaru were left. In fact, it seems he’s the only middle-generation member of Japanese UCAT left.”
“That’s a lot of ‘it seems’… I thought you were the heir to the Izumo company?”
“Sorry, but I wasn’t here at that time,” said Izumo as he folded his arms. He groaned, looked up, looked down, and tilted his head. “The thing is, I… Okay, I’ll just say it. I’m a troublesome kid who was born to my Low-Gear father and a 10th-Gear girl.”
“Is that so? What a surprise. Truly unexpected.”
“Don’t dismiss my important announcement like it’s nothing…”
“It does not benefit me in any way. And being of mixed race is very common these days.”
“Ha ha. I guess someone with a troublesome family of his own would think that way. But let me tell you something else: even if you do not accept the Leviathan Road, Kazami and I will be part of Team Leviathan with Ooshiro Itaru as the negotiator.”
“Why? You make it sound like you cannot refuse.”
“We can’t,” said Izumo. “Our weapons are concept weapons we acquired during the commotion when I arrived two years ago. My V-Sw is 6th’s Vajra and Vritra. Kazami’s G-Sp2 is 10th’s Gungnir.”
Sayama recalled Izumo’s large single-edged sword and Kazami’s long single-edged spear.
“Both give the Concept Core a cowling in the form of a weapon. The very existence of a concept weapon is a concept, so it creates its own field and its power can be used under the effects of any concept. Also, our weapons have much greater power than the normal philosopher’s stone method because they use Concept Cores. Their users have to see things through to the end.”
“And both of the weapons have accepted you as their masters?”
“Yeah. They both have wills of their own. We obtained them during the commotion two years ago, so 6th has fully aligned with UCAT and 10th has mostly joined UCAT. At the very least, the Leviathan Road for 6th- and 10th-Gears are already over.” Izumo gave a bitter grin. “Those concept weapons really will come flying to you if you call for them.”
“That is quite the bizarre phenomenon.”
“Ha ha ha. You don’t believe me do you, you dumb bastard?”
“Ha ha ha. Try not to speak your nonsense aloud, you son of a bitch.”
The two of them both let out a sigh. Sayama brought a hand to his chin and spoke.
“So the Leviathan Road will continue without me. With you, Kazami, and Ooshiro Itaru.”
“Yeah. I heard your grandfather’s blood pressure shot up when he heard about my irregular commotion resolving some of the negotiations. I think his will included some method of dealing with this if you refused, but UCAT probably had some other reason for approving it.”
“Two years ago was when my grandfather was talking about my entrance exam. He was being particularly hard to please. Now I know why.”
“But Shinjou is different from Kazami and me. If you refuse your right to the Leviathan Road, she will likely be removed from the unit. Ooshiro Itaru and the higher ups are always extra nice when it comes to Shinjou.”
“What do you mean?”
“They don’t get serious when it comes to her. Or at least it seems that way to me. She was put in the unit on the recommendation of old man Ooshiro, but it looks like Ooshiro Itaru wants to distance her from it all. Also,” said Izumo. “Ooshiro Itaru seems to hate you for some reason.”
“I learned that well enough from how he acted yesterday.”
Sayama nodded and heard a solid sound from next to him. He looked over and found Baku had tried to remove his head from the bottle but could not. As Baku frantically spun his back legs around fruitlessly, Sayama grabbed the beast and pulled him out like a cork.
Meanwhile, he heard Izumo speaking.
“Anyway, try to stay on good terms with Shinjou Setsu. You might not understand, but normal people will let their guard down if you show some concern about them.”
“Thank you very much for the advice,” said Sayama with a bitter smile. He grabbed the empty bottle, placed it in the case next to the bench, and turned his back to Izumo. “I will do my best to stay on good terms with him. Say hello to Kazami for me.”
Izumo sighed after Sayama left. He leaned against the back of the bench and called out the name Chisato.
The curtain for the women’s bath split open and Kazami’s head poked out. He watched her look back and forth.
“What are you avoiding him for? Don’t we need to show him how strict we are as current members of the Leviathan Road?”
“Yeah…but it was just too sudden.”
“What a complicated girl,” muttered Izumo as Kazami walked over and sat next to him.
Izumo frowned when he saw what she was holding.
“What are you drinking?”
“Tomato juice. I need to replenish my iron after taking a bath. I am a girl after all.”
“I didn’t think my Chisato was the kind of girl to discriminate based on sex…”
“C’mon. Stop hanging your head down with such a forced expression. Is it that important that I drink milk?”
“If you don’t drink milk, your breasts won’t grow.”
“They’re big enough already!”
“Really?” Izumo tilted his head, lightly grabbed at thin air with both hands, and tilted his head again. “Maybe you’re right.”
“I’m not sure I want you agreeing with that…” Kazami opened the pull tab, took a sip, and looked up into the sky. “But this is a difficult issue…”
“What is? Your breast size? Yeah, I suppose it is... What?”
“That isn’t what I meant, you idiot. …I was referring to all of this going on.”
As she said that, someone else exited from the women’s bath. Izumo turned around.
“Oh, it’s Ooki-sensei,” he called out.
Ooki was wearing track pants and a T-shirt.
“Hi!” she called back to Izumo.
Suddenly, Kazami jabbed an elbow into Izumo’s side while she drank her tomato juice.
“?” thought Izumo as he looked over at Ooki. Once he saw what she held in her hand, he whispered to Kazami.
“A soda, hm? She’s gonna get fat.”
“And they can dissolve bones, too. She’s going to look pitiful when her teeth are falling out.”
“Wh-what kind of ominous things are you two saying!?”
Ooki groaned and stopped the two of them. She then drank the soda so they could see.
“Th-this is a flavor children wouldn’t understand.”
“Is that so?” said Kazami with her half-lidded eyes turned toward the ground. She then added, “But I don’t think you should say that while the carbonation is bringing tears to your eyes.”
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