Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Chapter 1
As if building up
It all slowly begins to move
And hopefully continues to the place it wants to be
—I cannot ask if I can stay here.
—I decided I would stay here.
Chapter 1: The Two in the Flames
Someone asks something
So what should you do?
You understand nothing and have decided nothing
Sayama Mikoto was dreaming.
He could see the inside of a giant wooden building. His vision existed in the center of it.
The structure of the building resembled the interior of a Shinto shrine.
However, it was on a much larger scale. The ceiling was easily thirty meters tall and the entrance through which the sky was visible was over fifty meters wide.
…I do not recognize this building. This really must be a dream.
Sayama moved his vision to look at the entrance. The red sky was visible through it. It was a burning and flickering sky.
I am dreaming of a fire, thought Sayama.
Flames and shimmering covered the sky and sparks poured down like rain.
Is this an air-raid? he thought. No, this is different, he quickly corrected.
The sound filling the air was not that of airplanes passing by overhead or of fire bombs falling from the sky. It was a bestial roar that resembled distant thunder.
This beast’s voice tore at the air.
As that cry reverberated through the air, Sayama saw new movement within the building.
The large gate was being closed from the left and right of the front entrance.
Sayama stared beyond the narrowing gap between the two sides of the gate.
His view below the red sky was from some elevated place. He may have been atop a mountain.
When he looked down on the land, he saw a sea of flames identical to the sky.
Originally, the landscape had likely been made up of fields, forests, a village, and distant mountains, but all of it had been transformed into a field of crimson that rose up in places and lowered in places. Whenever one of the areas sticking up collapsed, more sparks would fly up into the sky.
Sayama suddenly realized a woman stood beyond the closing gate.
The old woman had her back to him. She had black hair and wore a simple white outfit with a yellow cloak over it.
Sayama then saw two men run from behind his vision and toward the entrance.
The man in the lead wore a dirty lab coat. He was a middle-aged man wearing glasses.
He ran toward the closing gate and the woman standing beyond it.
The second man was short and wore a simple black outfit.
He ran after the man in the lab coat.
Sayama saw the man in black catch up to the other man and tackle him to the ground.
As the world outside burned and the bestial roar continued, the two men could be heard falling to the ground.
The man in the lab coat cried out, but not at the man holding him down. He shouted through the closing gate.
“You can’t! You’re…You’re their leader, aren’t you!? Why are you choosing death here!?”
The woman standing outside did not turn toward the man. Instead, the man in black answered.
“This is the rule! This is how we do things!”
The man in the lab coat prepared to shout another question, but he stopped.
The man holding him down with his arms and knees had pressed his head down.
As silence fell over the two of them, a voice suddenly came in from beyond the closing gate.
“Military god, take care of him.”
The man in black nodded without saying anything.
As he did, the gate continued to close. Only a meter gap remained.
But the woman’s voice could still be heard.
“Engineer from a country connected to ours in another Gear, these seeds were sown by us. If Yamata devours this world, it will surely make its way through this gate and to your world.”
The man in the lab coat raised his head.
“If…If I had only had more power… If I had made the decision sooner…!”
“Yes,” replied the old woman. She continued with a smile in her tone. “Everyone thinks that. Both those who were unable to reach this place and those who did. But just like you, we had no power. …Protect your own Gear.”
“Can you protect your world from destruction?”
The man in the lab coat was unable to answer. He only clenched his teeth while being held down.
As the gate closed, the surrounding walls were dyed in darkness.
“Listen,” said the man in black. “The two thousand people we could fit in this temple will be moved to your world. Our glory was once said to be countless, but it has been ruined and lost. And now we will lose our world too!”
“Kh,” groaned the man in the lab coat.
His twisted face was turned toward the closing gate. Sayama turned his vision in that direction as well.
That old woman was visible through the slight crack remaining.
She was turned toward the sky and a single flame could be seen in the sliver of sky Sayama could see.
The flame took the form of a dragon. That serpentine flame dragon had eight heads.
It was easily over a kilometer long and continued to stretch out longer.
As it flew through the sky, it turned toward them and opened its eight mouths.
Immediately afterwards, Sayama heard a voice.
It belonged to the woman beyond the gate. She spoke with an intonation to her voice.
As soon as the rhythm began, the gate closed with a roar.
With the outside light gone, the building filled with darkness. A voice could be heard from outside the gate.
It was a new voice. Compared to the woman’s voice from before, this voice was more powerful and caused the surrounding area to shake. It was…
…The dragon’s voice.
It did not use words.
This was a bestial question. It was a cry filled with an intonation made up of only emotion and intention.
This was the dragon’s lamentation.
That cry descending from the heavens was the dragon’s voice.
And it held the meaning of a question.
It forced two things upon the listener.
It forced them to answer and to destroy.
The cry pierced through the air in search of an answer and of destruction.
At the same time, everything was overcome with darkness.
In the very next moment, Sayama heard a long cry filled with both sorrow and resentment.
As soon as anguish filled the scream, the images and sounds Sayama was experiencing came to an end.
The early morning air was cold and the newly risen sun was so bright it looked white.
He sat up within his dormitory bed.
However, the remnants of the dream remained vividly in his head, so he still felt a bit removed from reality.
As his sleepy eyes worked to bring his vision into focus, he recalled the dream.
The world had been burned, a lot had been lost, and ultimately he had been forsaken. That was the dream.
…Was that the destruction of another world? Another Gear?
“That was quite a heavy scene. …But I think I know why I saw it.”
Sayama silently reached up to the top of his head. The soft sensation above his head was Baku.
Baku was a four-legged beast with thin fur covering his body. Sayama picked him up and realized his small eyes were closed in sleep.
That animal had undoubtedly been what had shown him the past.
Sayama then reached out to the side.
He would find a book there. It was part of an investigation report written by Kinugasa Tenkyou that collected legends and myths from around the world.
…Baku must have called in the past in response to what I was reading last night.
This was the second volume that detailed Japanese mythology.
That must have been 2nd-Gear being destroyed in that dream, thought Sayama as he gazed up at the ceiling.
But as he reached for the book, his hand touched something warm and soft.
The sensation was accompanied with a voice.
Wondering what was going on, Sayama looked down. As his vision came into focus, he looked down toward the blanket covering his body.
But he found something else instead.
For some reason, a butt was sticking out sideways there.
Two bare legs kicked at the air near the ladder on his left and a back covered by a shirt could be seen by the wall to his right. A butt with white underwear tightly covering it was located between the two.
As Sayama heard that frantic voice, saw the waving hair, and saw the squirming round skin in front of him, Sayama gave a sleepy comment.
“Why are you suddenly performing such fruity actions, Shinjou-kun?”
“I-it’s because you suddenly sat up! And right when I was trying to wake you up.”
“I see,” muttered Sayama, but his mind was still muddled with sleep. “So I sat up and dragged you in just as you were leaning over the bed.”
“Wh-why are you calmly analyzing this so early in the morning!?”
“Then allow me to give a different analysis. …Ohh! Th-that’s an ass, Shinjou-kun!”
“Please help me instead of acting crazy!”
“Hm.” Sayama watched the butt moving up and down in front of his face. He finally spoke in a gentle but certain tone of voice. “Beautiful.”
“Wh-what? Did you just say something kind of weird!?”
“I did nothing more than state the obvious. Anyway, you need to calm down. Here, I will help you up.”
“Eh? Ah! N-no, stop. Don’t touch my butt!”
“I am not touching it. I am grabbing it!”
“That’s the same thing! Please finish waking up before-… Ah, n-no! Don’t pull on my underwear! It’s riding up!”
“Then what am I supposed to grab in order to help you up?”
“Um…” muttered Shinjou as he turned his head toward Sayama.
Their gazes met while Shinjou was blushing and looking troubled.
“What am I supposed to do?” muttered Shinjou as he stopped kicking his legs wildly.
His legs were now hanging over the edge of the bed and their weight started to drag him off.
As Shinjou panicked, Sayama caught his waist in both arms.
It all happened in an instant.
Sayama turned Shinjou face up in his arms and sat him up on his lap.
Shinjou kicked his legs meaninglessly two or three times.
“Nn…” he sighed while being held below the arms.
His flushed face was looking up at Sayama.
“S-sorry about causing such a commotion first thing in the morning.”
“Do not worry about it. Being woken by another person is one form of happiness.”
“I suppose you would not understand as you always wake up before I do. Perhaps we should reverse that at some point.”
“Sayama-kun, how would you wake me?”
“Well, if I wanted to be certain, I would perform an early morning body press or lie next to you and give endless flirting comments until you woke up. That would be good, don’t you think?”
Shinjou averted his gaze, sighed, and left Sayama’s arms.
As he placed his legs on the ladder, he turned a puzzled look toward Sayama.
“Um… After you wake up, how about we eat breakfast on the cafeteria terrace?”
“Sounds good. I believe the morning menu is tororo soba and a melon soda float.”
“Why do they always serve such odd combinations here?”
Shinjou tilted his head as his slender back and waving black hair descended the ladder.
As Sayama watched that back, he realized something. When he picked Shinjou up before, his bandaged left arm had not hurt at all.
…It is almost fully healed.
Once that wound healed, Shinjou would have no reason to remain at the school.
He suddenly found that disappointing and then smiled bitterly.
If he felt that way about it…
…I have accepted Shinjou-kun as someone close to me.
So what would he do if Shinjou did leave?
He had exchanged a certain promise with Shinjou Setsu on a certain windy night.
“If you do not wish to be here and I wish to do what is best for you, I will hate you.”
Sayama added “as a villain” under his breath and nodded.
He then picked up a thick hardcover book in his right hand and climbed out of his blanket.
After 6:30, the city was filled with light.
The city’s transportation system was already moving that early in the morning.
A certain train station was part of the Chuo Line that cut across Tokyo from east to west. An early morning train leaving Tokyo arrived at Ochanomizu Station, the third station from the east.
The train contained few people that early in the morning.
The first car had only two people sitting in it.
They were Kashima and Atsuta on their way back from guard duty.
Kashima put on his glasses and opened his laptop on his lap.
He spoke to Atsuta on his right without turning toward him.
“Atsuta, how can you board the train dressed like that? You look like a cosplayer.”
“Before giving me advice like you’re my mother, how about you do something about your abnormal fashion. A lab coat over work clothes? Does your wife never question it at home?”
“Natsu-san is very understanding about my work.”
“That’s surprising for someone of Low-Gear. …Have you still not told her?”
“No. She still knows nothing about UCAT. Nothing has changed since our college days. She thinks I chose to climb the corporate ladder within IAI.”
The young man named Kashima operated the touch panel and a few different programs began running on the screen.
“Ever since I had a kid, I couldn’t help but start up a website. Look at this video of her. Look, look. She’s about to cry. Ah, she’s crying. How cute.”
“You’re gonna make me cry, you idiot father.”
“What do you mean idiot? You can’t deny how cute she is. Do I need to say it again? She’s so cute.”
“That’s what makes you an idiot, you idiot. Babies are no different from monkeys.”
Kashima gave a toothy smile when he heard that.
“Monkeys? Is that what you said? Is it? But I’m so happy with my life right now that I won’t get mad even at that. In fact, I feel sorry that you can’t understand how cute she is, Atsuta.”
“That’s scary. You’ve lost an important emotion.”
“Ha ha ha. Sorry, sorry. I used to laugh at parents like this too, but I went out and bought a video camera as soon as my own kid was born. I really am an idiot.”
The train door closed, the train shook once, and it began to move.
Meanwhile, Kashima closed the video on his computer.
“But, Atsuta, you let all of them go, didn’t you? What kind of false ally of justice are you?”
“Don’t be stupid. A catch and release policy is standard when it comes to villains. Doing anything else leaves you with fewer and fewer people to defeat.”
“How did your mother raise you?”
“She told me to always be honest.”
“That is an excellent lesson. I’ll take that into consideration when teaching my daughter.”
Kashima let out a breath.
“Now then,” he said as his expression changed. A hint of tension entered his face. “Who were they? They didn’t seem to all be from one Gear. It was creepy.”
“How should I know? All I saw was a bunch of enemies. Do I need to ask people their name, age, address, and occupation before cutting them down?” Atsuta sighed, stuck a hand in his coat pocket, and stretched his legs out into the passageway. “Are you never going to do anything more than make adjustments to Cowling Swords?”
“That accident eight years ago taught me that making them is not for me. My father makes farm tools and works as a farmer, you know?”
“I always feel bad about all the rice he sends me every year. …But your grandfather was 2nd-Gear’s greatest swordsmith, right? Are you still hesitant to directly make something that kills people?”
“I am going to say yes,” said Kashima in a flat tone as he stared forward. “I have a certain power, but I have decided not to use it. It’s easier this way. …And I won’t tell my family either. I’m sure those naturalized from other Gears have similar issues to deal with.”
As he spoke, Kashima thought. He finally gave a bitter smile and spoke once more.
“How many times have we had this conversation now?”
The second floor of the school cafeteria contained only a few students with morning training and was very quiet.
The western style window was open to help circulate the air.
This let in the cold air and the distant noises and shouts of the sports teams’ morning training. And…
“I hear hammering and electric guitars.”
“They are preparing for the All Holiday Festival, a spring school festival held over the long holiday coming up. You know Kazami, the treasurer, right? She is the one that hits people a lot. She is having a band play at the festival. That is them practicing.”
Sayama and Shinjou carried their morning meal trays to seats by the window.
They had placed their things at that table ahead of time.
“Sayama-kun, do you have work today, too?”
Setsu did not know about UCAT, so Sayama had told him he had a part time job at IAI.
Sayama nodded and recalled his dream from that morning.
“Yes. I think there is something I need to do there.”
They arrived at the table as they spoke.
Sayama looked down at something.
A leather bag sat on Shinjou’s side of the table by the window and a pile of loose leaf paper sat on top of the bag.
When they had left their dorm room, Shinjou had quickly snatched that paper up from his desk.
Sayama tilted his head as he looked at the untidy stack of paper.
“N-no! Don’t look at it!”
Shinjou frantically ran to his seat and practically threw his tray down.
“Ah,” said Shinjou when he realized what he had done, but he covered up the pile of loose leaf paper all the same.
While fixing the position of the tray that was about to fall over, Shinjou looked up at Sayama. The ends of Shinjou’s eyebrows were lowered.
“D-did you see?”
“No. I only saw what looked like some kind of title.”
“You didn’t see anything else?”
Sayama thought back, but he had only seen the text for a split second.
However, he could take a guess as to why Shinjou was so flustered.
“So I was right. You were writing something lewd…”
“No, I wasn’t. And what do you mean ‘I was right’?”
“I think you have been giving immediate tsukkomi a lot more recently, Shinjou-kun.”
“I try not to. Getting caught up in your pace is dangerous.”
“But then I feel sad.”
“I-I think you should be made to feel sad in this case. C’mon, eat your food and then go take a bath. Look, you can have the cherry from my morning soda float. Look, two cherries. You can’t be sad then, right? Right?”
“I bet that would work really well with a young child,” said Sayama as he looked at his soda float with two cherries.
…Well, this might be for the best.
With that serious thought, he placed his tray down. Shinjou’s shoulders relaxed and he gave a sigh of relief.
He placed the loose leaf paper in a black binder inside his bag.
Sayama sat down as he watched Shinjou put away the paper.
“Is that what you have been working on late at night and early in the morning recently?” he asked.
Shinjou turned around, averted his gaze, and spoke in a troubled tone.
“I see. Do your best, but do not force yourself too much. Someone like you needs to look after his health. If you are ever in trouble, come to me. I can introduce you to a good hospital.”
“Just out of curiosity, what kind of hospital is it?”
“It is the hospital the Tamiya family uses. Even the biggest coward will return a brave man after spending three hours there. They always grow depressed about three days later, though.”
“They’re definitely doing something bad there.”
Shinjou sighed but soon sat down and leaned back in the chair.
“What are you apologizing for?”
“Oh, um. I panicked and rejected you just a moment ago.”
“No, you did not. That was my fault. I tried to peek at something that belonged to you.”
“Yes, but…sorry,” he said, but a look of resignation quickly appeared on his face. “Sayama-kun, you do seem crazy at times and suddenly do strange and even criminal things, but you’re very strict when it comes to other people and their secrets.”
“I have a feeling you have made some kind of misunderstanding about me.”
“R-really? But everyone says you are an idiot who lives in the Sayama universe where the world revolves around you.”
“Hm, even if I accept everything after it, I have a hard time understanding why someone with grades as good as mine would be called an idiot.”
“Um, idiot can mean a lot of different things. …Wait, you’re fine with the stuff after it?”
“Oh?” Sayama tilted his head. “You took me seriously, Shinjou-kun? Do not worry. It was a joke. I know the world revolves around the sun.”
“A-ah ha ha ha. Th-that’s right. You do seem to live in a world of your own sometimes, so I wasn’t sure.”
“Well, fear not, Shinjou-kun. Ever since the middle ages, the world has followed the heliocentric theory. With me being the sun, of course.”
“Eh!? Wh-what? What was that last part?”
“Ha ha ha. A trivial matter, Shinjou-kun. Do not worry about it.”
Sayama laughed and suddenly looked out the window.
The student dorms were lined with cherry trees which already had green leaves. In front of them was the parking lot for faculty and visitors.
Sayama saw a woman walking along the gravel of the parking lot.
She had wavy blond hair that was almost silver and she wore a black two piece suit that swelled out at the shoulders.
The hem of her long tight skirt shook back and forth with great regularity because she walked as if treading along a single line.
Just as Sayama started to look away from her, she took a sudden action.
She instantly turned toward him and bent her eyes in a smile.
Their gazes met.
It was as if she had noticed him. Sayama gulped slightly.
She was at least thirty meters away and her back had been turned to him.
Even so, she had turned her blue eyes directly toward him and a slight smile could be seen on her face.
That smile made Sayama frown, but he quickly created a different expression.
He replied to her smile with a calm one of his own.
And she reacted when she saw it.
She gave a broad smile. Her slight smile was replied by a look of joy at his response.
With that pleasant smile, she turned back around and walked away.
Not having noticed any of this, Shinjou tilted his head in front of Sayama.
“What is it?”
“A greeting I suppose. Someone wanted to exchange a pleasant smile and I complied.”
Something new is beginning, thought Sayama.
A woman wearing a black two-piece suit gave a pleasant sigh as she stood on the gravel below the early morning sun.
“That was a nice response. It would have been cute if he blushed, though. I wonder if he realized who I am.”
She smiled and continued walking. She walked along the gravel path in high heels, but produced no footsteps.
The back of the 3rd year general school building was visible ahead of her.
“Now, it’s time to go meet Siegfried Zonburg, the librarian of Kinugasa Library,” she said with a sigh while observing the shape of the building. “I need to check on the state of Low-Gear.”
“It comes down to how we should live here in Low-Gear.”
Really, though. How many times have I asked myself that? thought Kashima in the train.
Atsuta spoke quietly while staring up at the ceiling.
“Your problem is how we’re a lot like the people of Low-Gear but not exactly like them, isn’t it? How about you just take it easy?”
“I used to do that so I could pursue my grandfather’s final words. But…I learned something in that accident eight years ago. I started to lose something important to me and could no longer accept my own power.”
If he closed his eyes, he could remember it.
It had been a rainy night eight years ago.
He had been producing Cowling Swords at the time.
He had been delighted at a certain sword’s quality and had gone out alone to a mountain testing ground near UCAT.
…And I caused an accident.
He remembered the result of his actions and a single emotion all too well.
As he looked down from the mountain that night, he saw the earth collapsing.
As the rain pelted him and he held the hilt of that broken Cowling Sword in his hand, he had run over to the large-scale collapse.
Kashima still remembered the feeling inside him at that moment.
…A sense of superiority.
It had been incomplete, but he had still felt pride in his ability to create such a powerful Cowling Sword.
But Kashima’s feelings had frozen over in the next instant.
He had heard a single voice coming from several dozen meters down the slope.
Beyond the uncertain darkness, he had heard a scream.
It had been a scream of fear. And that scream had come from below the collapsed earth where-
Kashima’s pulse rose abruptly and he opened his eyes.
He felt sweat all over his body and he suddenly realized he was inside the train.
Atsuta was staring at him.
“Are you okay, you idiot? Don’t get too lost in the past. It isn’t healthy.”
“Yeah… But I can’t help it.”
“If you feel yourself slipping back, start thinking about your wife’s breasts.”
Kashima obediently thought about them.
“Yeah, they’re pretty nice. Can’t argue with that.”
“Don’t start kneading the air inside the train! I only told you to think about them, you idiot!”
“Y-yeah, but to be honest, Natsu-san’s chest is really relaxing.”
“You want my honest opinion? A military god shouldn’t be so sexually lovey-dovey. Anyway, what do you want? You told me to join you on the train because you had something to tell me, right?”
“Oh, right, right. Wait just a second.”
The train shook as Kashima spoke.
After several seconds of deceleration, the train arrived at the next station, Yotsuya.
No one boarded. All that entered was the slightly chilly wind of a morning in late spring.
As soon as the doors closed again, Kashima pulled a white envelope from his pocket.
“That Supervisor Ooshiro gave me this. It seems Director Tsukuyomi has given me full authority.”
“Let me see that. Is old woman Tsukuyomi just trying to get you out of the way? You said it was about-…”
“The Leviathan Road, yes.”
Kashima gave a bitter smile when he saw Atsuta’s displeased look.
His friend was displaying his own feelings amazingly well.
…That allows me to act more maturely.
“I was even told to prepare to release 2nd-Gear’s concepts.”
“Let’s see, let’s see. This is the document. Um, what does this say? L-L-Levi…”
“Leviathan Road. You can’t even read that? I’m a bit shocked.”
“Sh-shut up. Reading is a pain, so just explain it to me.”
“How I negotiate this is being left entirely up to me. Director Tsukuyomi may be the leader of 2nd-Gear, but she claims she’s too busy to do it herself.”
“That old woman just wanted to shove this annoyance on someone else.”
As they spoke, the train began slowing once more. They were near Shinjuku.
“You’re switching to a different train here, right? You’ll be coming to UCAT after greeting your wife and kid, won’t you?”
“Yes,” replied Kashima as he took the envelope back from Atsuta. “But is it really right for us to take care of the Leviathan Road?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?”
Kashima could not respond right away. He closed his laptop and returned the envelope to his pocket.
…How can I best explain it?
As he thought, the bright platform of Shinjuku Station rushed by outside the window as if to catch them.
“Well, there’s that accident for one, but I also have no interest in the Leviathan Road.”
“Oh, your grandfather’s final words.”
“Yes, his final words. He once wielded the sword that sealed Yamata, but his final words became meaningless nine years ago. That was when we inspected Susaou, the giant humanoid machine created to restrain Yamata.” He let out a weary sigh. “Releasing 2nd-Gear’s concepts means entering the concept space in which those two sleep and releasing the seal of Totsuka to call out Yamata.”
“You make it sound like there’s a ‘but’ coming.”
Kashima smiled bitterly.
The train began to stop and noise came from its metal wheels.
While surrounded by that noise and the shaking of the train, Kashima thought. He thought about something he had been thinking for a long time.
“Neither of us experienced the Concept War. Not even Director Tsukuyomi did. In that case, do we…no, do I have any right to take control of releasing the concepts?” He took a breath. “I have no grudge against this Gear, but I am not thankful either. I was born here and living here is completely normal for me. …So how are we supposed to handle this?”
Atsuta frowned at his question.
“C’mon, stop thinking so much about it. Just treat it like a festival. Make it nice and exciting.”
“There are times when I’m incredibly jealous of your personality.”
“How do you feel about my personality normally?”
“I pity you. I wonder why the world would let a creature like this be born.”
“Go to hell. I’ll tell your wife her husband looks down on people in his work.”
“What a pain,” said Kashima as he nodded and stood up. “But that’s fine. Natsu-san is very understanding about my work.”
“Doesn’t that just mean she isn’t all that interested in it?”
Kashima grabbed the pole next to the seat and turned toward Atsuta.
“And I am thankful for it,” he said with a smile.
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