Owari no Chronicle:Volume2 Chapter 23
Chapter 23: Windy, Moon-Filled Sky
Below the moon
And amid the wind
What exists along with the ground there?
Sayama and Shinjou walked through the school.
They walked along the gravel beside the line of trees behind the second year general school building. They were on their way to their student dorm.
As the moonlight poured down on him, Sayama held a paper bag and had Baku sitting on his head. Shinjou smiled empty-handed next to him.
“This may sound self-important, but my opinion of you has improved a bit, Sayama-kun.”
“Yes. In my discussion with Ryouko-san, I learned you are surprisingly timid.”
“Why did that improve your opinion of me?” asked Sayama with a bitter smile.
Shinjou replied to that bitter smile. His own smile disappeared, but his expression was still relaxed.
“You have been thinking about something all this time, haven’t you? You have been constantly thinking about something important to you that you can’t tell me about. The reason you can’t make up your mind right away despite how important it is for you must be because it involves a connection with some other person. Am I right?” He took a breath. “When people grow timid when thinking about some other person, it is because they want to be with that person.”
One of the sets of footsteps stopped.
It was Sayama’s. He had stopped walking.
After taking two steps ahead, Shinjou turned around while bathing in the moonlight. Their eyes met. As Sayama received Shinjou’s gaze, he narrowed his eyes a bit and opened his mouth. He tried to say something in response.
But only silence fell to the ground from his mouth.
He hung his head down and nodded once. Sayama then looked back up. He looked back at Shinjou while making sure not to knock Baku from his head.
“You and your sister are interesting people. You know how to always hit me where it hurts and then you make me say what exactly it was that hurt.”
“Yes, really. You managed to get right to the point I was most conflicted about.”
“What are you conflicted about, Sayama-kun?”
Sayama opened his mouth once more and finally gave an answer.
“I am conflicted because it seems giving up on trying to get serious would be for the best.”
“Everyone around me is saying I should just quit. I have no confidence in myself. The world I live in now is small, but it provides plenty of stimulation. Also…” He nodded. “If I am to get serious, I want someone to act as my mirror image. I want someone who is the opposite of me. …But that would be inviting that person into danger. In that case,” said Sayama. “Giving up would leave no problems. Other than the ones inside me.”
“I see,” said Shinjou with a nod.
But Shinjou lightly kicked the ground. He kicked away some of the white gravel making up the ground and turned toward Sayama once more. Shinjou’s eyebrows were straight, his gaze was straight, and he simply opened his mouth to ask a question.
“Are you…okay with that?”
He asked a question, but he did not try to get an answer.
He lightly embraced his own body and asked another question.
“Hey. About what you said before… Who is it you are thinking about?”
“Is it your mother who wanted you to do something one day? Is it Ryouko-san who cared for you even if for a short time? Or is it the person you do not want to invite into danger? The person who is your opposite…”
Shinjou opened his mouth and began to speak a certain name.
But an electronic tone cut in between the two of them.
It came from the cell phone in Sayama’s pocket. The electronic whistle sounded at set intervals as it called for him.
Shinjou and Sayama exchanged a glance.
Shinjou then nodded and approached Sayama. Once he reached arm length, he held out his hands.
Shinjou took the large bag from Sayama.
With his hands free, Sayama took the black cell phone from his pocket and held it to his ear.
“It is me.”
A voice came from the phone and entered Sayama’s ear.
It was a female voice he had never heard before. The voice uttered the following words.
“Hello, Sayama-sama. I am Sibyl, the communications officer for Japanese UCAT’s Team Leviathan.” After her introduction, the woman naming herself Sibyl said, “I would like to speak with you for a moment. Is that okay?”
“Of course,” said Sayama as he glanced toward Shinjou and then looked up into the sky. “What is it you need?”
“Tes. I would like either an acceptance or denial of an emergency deployment request,” said Sibyl. “Today at 18:37, contact was lost with the transport plane transporting the holy sword Gram as it flew over Mount Hyono on the eastern edge of the Chugoku Mountains. At 18:59, an expansive concept space was detected near Mount Hyono. No traces or wreckage of the plane have been found in the real world. It has likely been brought into the concept space.”
Sayama looked at his watch. It was 7:12 PM.
“What progress has been made in responding to this?”
“Tes. A letter claiming responsibility along with a commemorative photograph was received from 1st-Gear’s City faction. UCAT at IAI HQ is currently engaging a 1st-Gear advance unit while searching for the holy sword Gram. Team Leviathan’s supervisor, Ooshiro Itaru, has announced this will be used to truly begin the Leviathan Road.”
“I see. Then…is there anything I can do?”
“You have yet to accept the negotiation rights for the Leviathan Road. However, it has been determined that the issues with 1st-Gear will be decided in this battle. If you do not take part, we will view you as having abandoned your negotiation rights.”
“Please come to Akigawa City Central Park by 19:30. We will send a helicopter to pick you up.”
“And if I do not go?”
“We will cut off all connections with you, Sayama-sama.”
Sibyl then said the same thing she had said at the beginning of the conversation.
“Is that okay?”
“I cannot say Testament quite yet,” replied Sayama.
“Tes. A testament or contract is a great promise made by a master with a sword. It is a word used when you are aware of the power you hold and wish to confirm to the world who you are. You do not have much time, but I pray you can make your decision with no regrets. Goodbye.”
The call came to an end.
Sayama moved the cell phone from his ear and sighed.
He looked up at the school building that was colored a dark blue by the night. He then looked up into the night sky.
Baku fell from his head and to his shoulder and then looked up just as he was doing. They looked up into the sky where the moon floated.
I need to decide, thought Sayama.
The moon shone white in the night sky and the stars and wind filled everything else.
Below all that, dark blue rectangular school buildings cut off the sky to the left and right.
Only a small section of the sky was visible from here.
If he lowered his gaze just a bit, he would see the emergency staircase on the side of the second year general school building.
Sayama thought as he looked down at that shadow cutting off the sky and at the small emergency staircase landing sticking out from it.
He wondered if the sky would look larger from that staircase.
…It would not change.
He would only be changing his location as he looked at it. He would not be leaving the boundaries of the school building.
In the end, he had never chosen anything more than that.
Was that the answer to it all? He had been unable to hold any confidence or pride in his own actions and he had been unable to lead anyone deeply into the battlefield. And that was why he had never been able to get serious. He had settled for a small place.
That was what he had been doing all this time.
I really am timid, thought Sayama.
However, that would solve everything. It was a small world and he could not afford to lose it.
That was the correct way of thinking.
And he was wrong.
That was all there was to it.
He had to decide. If he took Shinjou’s bag once more and returned to the dorm room with him, it would all be over.
Sayama hung his head down and looked to the ground.
And as he did, he realized something.
He realized his thinking was immature.
What had sent Sayama’s thoughts racing was down at his feet. His gaze that had fallen in resignation and what he saw there was the ground trapped between two school buildings. Or so it should have been. However…
“That is not what this is…”
Below his eyes and atop the gravel was something connected to the sky and the light that he had looked up at before. Something closely connected to that boxed off world of the heavens was falling at his feet.
It was a shadow.
The pale light of the moon sent his shadow atop the gravel.
And the surrounding school buildings also struck the ground with their own shadows at heights to match.
From here, the sky was boxed off.
But it was not closed off. It was connected to the ground at his feet.
Sayama looked back up into the heavens. He looked into that sky filled with pale light.
And he stepped on the ground at his feet. He stepped on that ground that was covered in shadows because it was connected to the sky.
There was light above his head and shadows below his feet.
The shadows of the night were nothing other than the opposite of the light of the night.
And as he began to close his eyes, he felt something else that connected the sky to the earth.
It came suddenly.
He heard a roar and felt the cold air striking him.
That movement of air surrounded him. He heard it brushing across his ears.
This powerful and solid wind did not come from the west, the east, the south, or even the north.
It came from above.
This wind blew by at a high altitude, struck the wall of the school building, and dropped down.
He had no idea where this wind came from, but it danced around them and he heard a slight voice.
That light voice of surprise led Sayama to reach out a hand.
He reached out toward Shinjou who held his paper bag. Sayama pulled that body toward him and embraced him to protect him from the wind.
As the wind danced and dispersed, Sayama felt slender shoulders and a thin back. He felt Shinjou’s body temperature in his arms and the word “warm” came to his mind.
Shinjou suddenly went limp in his arms. The paper bag in Shinjou’s arms slipped and fell.
The gravel crunched as the bag fell. Shinjou sank into his arms and into his chest.
The wind died down and disappeared. A voice took its place.
“You’re going to decide…aren’t you?”
Sayama realized Shinjou was looking up at him. Shinjou’s hair was bound, but the wind had wrapped a few strands around Sayama’s arms. Shinjou’s black eyes stared directly at him.
Shinjou opened his mouth and reworded his previous statement.
“You’re on your way to decide, aren’t you?”
As Shinjou asked, his face shined in the moonlight. His face looked a pale white and his eyes looked blue.
Sayama met Shinjou’s gaze. He nodded and opened his mouth.
“Shinjou-kun,” he said. He spoke to the person who was as close to him as anyone ever had been. “I…” He hesitated. “I will likely get someone else involved with what I do.”
“Is that what has bothered you? Is that what you have been afraid of?”
“Yes. I have been thinking about that. This person is important to me, but I am not sure they can handle the danger.”
“Sayama-kun, what do you think of this person?”
“They are important to me. As important as I am to myself.”
“I see,” said Shinjou with a sigh. He closed his eyes slightly and said, “Sayama-kun…You act like an evil person, but you are not.”
“Then what am I?”
“Well,” said Shinjou with a small nod.
The ends of his eyebrows lowered, but a smile could be seen on his lips.
His eyes narrowed and he raised his head to look Sayama in the eye.
“You are the villain. You merely play the role of the evil person.” He took a breath. “If you were a truly evil person, you would not hesitate to get others involved. But you do not do that.” He moved his lips once and then continued. “You are a welcome person to have around, Sayama-kun.” He nodded. “And I am sure the person you care so much for has realized that. I think that is why they tried to stop you. …But it is okay if you are a bit selfish when it comes to that person. Not as a villain, but as yourself.”
“I see,” said Sayama with a nod.
He removed his arms and released Shinjou.
Shinjou smiled bitterly while still lightly embracing his own body.
“C’mon… I am a boy, you know?”
“So am I.”
Shinjou’s shoulders drooped when he heard that.
“Which one did you want just now?”
“Some questions are best left unanswered, Shinjou-kun.” Sayama smiled and turned his back on Shinjou. “I will be going. And I will try to return as soon as I can.”
“Can I ask where you’re going?”
“Would you accept ‘where I must go’ as an answer?”
“Yes,” said Shinjou. He lightly raised a hand. “Do your best.”
Sayama nodded and ran off with Baku on his shoulder. Even as he left the school, he continued stepping on his own shadow.
Brunhild heard a series of footsteps through the darkness.
Her vision was closed off. All she could hear was a group of footsteps moving at a set tempo.
Her butt and legs felt the dampness of mossy dirt, her back felt the hardness of a cedar tree trunk, her arms felt the weight of a metal scythe’s blade and handle, and her cheeks felt a soft, damp sensation.
She opened her eyes and saw a color of darkness different from that of the inside of her eyelids.
She quickly grew accustomed to this new darkness.
She was in a forest. Trees made disorderly lines along a slope. She sat on a low cliff atop the slope.
She had been napping while leaning against a tree.
“You woke me, didn’t you?”
A small black form stood next to her face.
It was a black cat. Its eyes alone shined yellow in the darkness. They informed her of the cat’s location and expression.
“Brunhild, everyone has begun to move.”
She sat up and looked down. She looked down to the forest on the shallow slope a few meters below. Many, many dark figures were walking through that forest. They were all headed in the same direction: east.
Some of them had human forms. Some did not. Some had wings, some looked human but were too large to be, and some looked like dragons.
“This…isn’t everyone. The others are gathering with the vanguard that went in first.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that… So have they found Gram?”
“It apparently fell to the east inside the concept space that Venerable Hagen set up. As did the mechanism for making it invisible. All of it was read in while the concept space was being created.”
“I see,” said the cat as it watched Brunhild sit all the way up and wrap her arms around her knees.
“A concept analysis is being carried out based on the records created from Venerable Hagen reading in the transport plane. Once that is complete, we should know what concepts are being used to hide Gram. I just hope the search team has not passed it by already.”
“So everyone is really motivated, but they’re all just heading randomly in a general direction?”
“Don’t say it like that. There is nothing wrong with advancing an army as long as it lets us acquire Gram.” Brunhild nodded. “We will eliminate UCAT when they arrive. I assume Fafner and the others have already begun fighting.”
“Yes, I saw that. …He seemed really excited.”
Brunhild sighed. She watched everyone marching by below and then looked up into the sky.
She saw the moon there. She saw the light there.
“That light is in the way,” she muttered.
Having that light there during the night created shadows that were different from darkness and made it more difficult to know one’s surroundings.
“Darkness should be nothing more than darkness.”
“I wonder if Siegfried will come,” said the black cat suddenly.
“It doesn’t matter. We have already done what we had to do,” said Brunhild as she embraced Requiem Sense in her arms.
She looked up at the moonlight, but was unable to bring an end to that light.
Sayama ran below the moonlight.
His footsteps reverberated throughout Akigawa City Central Park located on the southern end of Taka-Akita Academy’s grounds. That central park was located on Itsukaichi Road which connected the academy grounds with the outside world. The park also contained a track-and-field stadium.
If a helicopter was landing, it would be there.
Sayama ran through the park which was surrounded by trees, kicked off the red brick ground, and made his way to the stadium.
He could see his footing thanks to the moonlight and the outdoor lighting. His footsteps and breathing expressed all of his actions.
His watch said it was 7:28 PM. He was already at his destination, so running any further would be pointless.
And yet he hurried.
He arrived at the stadium’s seats. He made his way out from the shadows of the trees, ran between the lines of seats, and leaped onto the track with a single footstep. He landed with a soft sound and found himself surrounded by red clay and white lines. In the center was a grassy opening.
I made it, thought Sayama.
“I have to go,” he muttered before walking instead of running.
He walked toward the center of the stadium.
Strength entered his right arm. Pain entered his left. But…
…I can move it.
That was good enough. He used both his hands freely for the first time in a while. Sayama placed Baku in his vest’s breast pocket and grabbed his coat collar with both hands while continuing to walk.
After forcefully raising his hands he swung them to the left and right. The material of the sleeves stretched and created a sound similar to striking a piece of paper.
After fixing his disheveled clothing and creating that clear noise, he lowered his arms to his sides.
Sayama’s leather shoes created loud footsteps as he walked through the gentle wind. He headed for the center of the stadium. He headed for the very center which was lit up in four directions by outdoor lights.
Sayama looked at his destination. A single person stood there.
It was a tall old man. He had a bald head and a white beard. He wore his usual black vest, black trousers, and a black coat.
Sayama spoke as he approached that man whose black clothing was fluttering in the wind.
“Good evening, Sorcerer Siegfried Zonburg.”
Siegfried nodded as his name was called.
And he looked up into the sky. Sayama followed his gaze up.
A shadow could be seen flying toward them in the white moon floating in the heavens.
That dark, long, and narrow form was the shadow of a helicopter.
Wind blew down from above and an intermittent noise reverberated throughout the stadium.
The wind and noise danced about, tore up the surrounding grass, and caused that grass to fly about like horizontal rain.
Amid that, Siegfried opened his mouth. He spoke in a clear tone.
“Welcome to the place you have chosen, Sayama Mikoto.”
- The Japanese word for contract is written with the kanji 約 which means promise and the kanji 契 which can be broken down into the kanji for great (大), the kanji for master (主), and the kanji for sword (刀).
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