Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Morning Plan
Welcome to a place of comfort
The wind blows along the heavenly path
And the people return to the grass of the land
Even on Saturday, the Kazami household got an early start.
The father was a project planner, so he could choose to take days off but had no set days off.
He usually took off when Kazami announced she would be returning home, but her decision had been sudden this time. As such, the father had to begin eating breakfast at seven in the morning.
Her familial duty outweighed her sleepiness, so Kazami joined them for breakfast.
The small built-in kitchen was as pristine as ever.
The table contained cups of soup and ingredients to make breakfast sandwiches.
Kazami’s parents looked toward her from the table.
“Oh.” Her mother’s long hair swayed as she stood up. “What do you want to drink?”
“Coffee. Chisato, you want coffee, right?” Her father stopped putting together a sandwich on his plate and looked at her through his glasses. “I know you’re tired, but I would love it if you could fully wake up for breakfast.”
“Oh, sure. I’ll have tea.”
Not even Kazami was sure who she had been responding to as she sat in her chair.
Her father looked a bit disappointed as he reached over the table.
A few plates were lined up on the table which contained lettuce, lightly fried eggs, ham, onion, tomatoes, and other ingredients.
The Kazami family’s style was to make a sandwich by taking what you wanted and piling it up on bread.
“You’re taking too much, dad.”
“A-am I? Maybe I am. It’s just so fun.”
“Are you ever going to grow up?”
Her mother gave a troubled sigh when she saw the ingredients piled ten centimeters thick.
Seeing her mother in a blue shirt preparing a teapot and her father folding his arms in a gray hooded sweatshirt, Kazami finally felt she was truly home.
“You’re dressed too, mom? Are both of you going somewhere?”
“Yes. I’m going to the site with him.”
That comment cleared away Kazami’s sleepiness.
She could tell her shoulders had jumped. She belatedly noticed the chill of the morning air.
“Are you singing again?”
“I’m just going with him.”
Her mother had a hint of warning in her voice, but her father spoke up.
“But there is a plan for a combined Christmas concert toward the end of the year. The main performers will of course be whoever the sponsors choose, but there’s still room for a guest performer. What should I do?”
Kazami nodded and turned toward her mother who was preparing tea.
Her actions were no different from normal, so Kazami had no idea what she was thinking.
…Does she think it’s just his usual nonsense?
However, the delighted look on her father’s face left Kazami almost certain he was serious. The way he meaninglessly began eating his sandwich starting with the top of the pile was the same as always, so her certainty only grew.
Then her cup of tea arrived along with two slices of bread on a plate.
“I see both my parents are working hard,” commented Kazami as she spread margarine on the bread.
“What about you, Chisato? Are things going well with Izumo-kun?”
She wished he had not brought that up.
“Well…” she said as she thought.
“Make sure to bring him by sometime. Don’t drive him away on the doorstep.”
“I’m not driving him away…”
“But you are kicking him away so he leaves, aren’t you? I saw you,” said her mother as she sat down.
Her lips were smiling, but her eyes were not.
“I’ll invite him in next week,” obediently promised Kazami.
Her parents smiled and high-fived.
…Why is that idiot so popular?
Kazami sighed inwardly, but her mother was already humming.
“I’ll make korokke next week. I’m sure your papa and Izumo-kun will eat and drink like crazy in another competition, so I can make a whole lot. I’ll make white ones, curry ones, cream ones, and rare super-spicy wasabi ones for a surprise.”
“Sounds great. Make sure to put in plenty of chopped cabbage. We need to show who the better man is once and for all. I’ll do my best! Even if it’s meaningless!”
“Kyah! You’re so cool! Even if it’s pointless.”
“U-um, mom, dad? Why are you discussing next week before this week is over?”
“Hm? Did you say something, Chisato? Could you say it again?”
“No, never mind. …And mom, why have you had such a scary look in your eyes lately?”
“Don’t worry about it. You need to root for Izumo-kun next week. We’re pointlessly splitting into a parents team and a daughter/son-in-law team, so…”
“Sorry, but what kind of project are you working on now, dad?”
He looked up at the ceiling for a moment.
“It might be due to the material I came up with that was used on that suspicious educational program ‘Can You Do This?’ last week. At any rate, I’m working on a replacement project for the anime ‘Mr. Guevara’ that’s ending due to censorship.”
“I’m going to ignore half of that, but what is the replacement project?”
“It’s a sequel to the Aretorman series. Y’know, that cult classic from the Showa era. We’re making Aretorman Shoot which follows the story after Aretorman Cement. In the first episode, Shoot refuses to shake the monster’s hand, climbs on top of him, and punches him for three minutes straight. He doesn’t stop even as the monster tries to tap out. It’s really exciting.”
“Let me guess. In the second episode, does the monster get behind him, pin his arms, and make him put up with it for three minutes?”
“How did you know? That’s my daughter for you. Once Shoot realizes how to reverse the situation, he gradually begins to learn how to wrestle properly. He learns at the Aretor Training Base known as the Man Hole.”
“I have a feeling this is going to be taken off the air for a different reason.”
Her father folded his arms and thought.
Kazami saw her mother pour him some tea, but she was fairly certain his cup had originally held coffee. She began to sweat, but then he took a sip.
“Delicious. Your tea is always great.”
She knew she would never be any match for those parents. She also began to wonder if she would end up like them in the future.
But she ignored that thought and her father asked her a question.
“What has you lost in thought? If you have any trouble or problems at school, just tell me. What does it matter that I won’t be any help whatsoever?”
Unsure what to say to that, she changed the subject.
“How about you two calm down for now? It’s breakfast time.”
She sighed and began to make a sandwich of her own. She started with a lightly fried egg, lettuce, and mayonnaise. Then…
“Let’s add some jam, salted kombu, yam, and-… gah! Ch-Chisato! Domestic violence is wrong!”
“Mom, do something about him.”
Is that all? she thought, but her father really did hold his head and tremble.
She realized this was another method of scolding someone.
“Chisato, just put up with it. Having you back has left your papa a bit wrong in the head.”
“I’ll agree with that last part.”
Suddenly, Kazami realized how she could make use of her father.
“Hey, dad. Have any of your past projects dealt with Japanese mythology?”
Her father raised his head.
“Hm? Oh. Yes, they have.”
“I was investigating some stuff with Kaku and a few underclassmen, so do you know anything interesting related to Yamata no Orochi?”
“Hmm. Yamata no Orochi, you say? …There’s a lot there. Do have any keyword to focus on?”
When she brought a hand to her chin and tilted her head, she realized her mother was making the exact same pose as she thought. She had not noticed Kazami though, so Kazami merely smiled bitterly.
…What would be a good keyword? 2nd-Gear is only known by UCAT, so they wouldn’t know that term. Then what? 2nd-Gear’s concepts deal with…
“Names. Do you have anything interesting related to the keyword of names?”
“Names?” asked her father as he looked up again.
The smile on his face told her she had chosen right.
“Chisato. Tell me the story of Yamata no Orochi’s slaying.”
“Well,” began Kazami. “After being banished to the surface, Susanoo fell in love with Kushinada-hime who was to be sacrificed to Yamata no Orochi. She promised to marry him and he got Orochi drunk and cut off the serpent’s heads. Is that good enough?”
“You shortened it like crazy, but that’s more or less it.”
“I’ve been studying it lately. Oh, and the sword that cut off Orochi’s heads was called Totsuka. The sword chipped in the process and, when Susanoo checked to see what had happened, he found another sword within Orochi. It was a nice sword, so he gave it a test swing and it easily cut through the surrounding grass. That was Kusanagi, aka the Grass Cutting Sword.”
“Susanoo married Kushinada and settled in the Izumo province. When his descendant presented Kusanagi to Amaterasu, he regained his position as god. That’s the story, right?”
Her father nodded and muttered the word “names”.
“I am going to explain this in an indirect way, Chisato. In ancient Japan, people changed their name upon coming of age. You learned that in ancient literature class, right?”
Kazami nodded, but she did not actually remember that.
“Good, good,” said her father without realizing the truth.
The bitter smile on her mother’s face made it clear she had caught on.
Kazami once more realized she would never be a match for them.
“Okay, Chisato. Why do you think people would change their name?” asked her father.
She did not know, but she gave it serious thought.
“Because they were adults?”
“Sorry, but no. Think about it. In Japanese mythology, Yamato Takeru gained that name upon killing his enemy, Kumaso Takeru. Changing one’s name does not mean becoming an adult.”
Then what was it?
As she thought, she saw her mother shaking back and forth a bit. For some reason, her right hand would rise some and fall some, but Kazami ignored her.
Kazami continued to think and realized the answer was surprisingly close by.
When she had first met Izumo Kaku, he had used the language of 10th-Gear. His language and his name had been different. And now he used Japanese.
“Because their position changed?”
“Correct. In ancient times, one’s name indicated their job or position in society. When that changed, their name changed. Returning to Yamato Takeru, the name Takeru means hero. The hero of Kumaso was Kumaso Takeru and the boy who killed him was given the position of the hero of Yamato.”
Kazami’s mother secretly snapped her fingers and struck a pose.
Her father did not notice his wife’s action and raised three fingers on his right hand.
“Now, with that in mind, let’s get down to the real issue. There are three mysteries surrounding the story of Susanoo and Yamata.”
He lowered his ring finger.
“The first mystery is why the name Yamata no Orochi does not refer to a job or position.”
“Think about it. What does Yamata no Orochi refer to?”
It meant Eight-Forked Great Serpent, so it referred to his form.
“Ah,” said Kazami when she realized that. “Are you asking why Yamata didn’t have a name?”
“Yes. Yamata no Orochi had the important role of producing the sword Kusanagi, but he was not given a job or position. This goes against the established rules. So why was this giant, eight-headed dragon of Japanese mythology not given a name?”
He then lowered his middle finger.
“The next mystery is about Susanoo.”
Kazami knew this one, so she took the initiative and raised her hand.
“It’s why he kept the name Susanoo after being banished from the heavens, right?”
“Yes. He descended to the human world, but he kept his name. Why is that? You have the great serpent with no name, the storm god whose name did not change, and then one other mystery.”
“The last one is related to Kusanagi, right?” said her mother.
Kazami and her father turned her mother’s way. She shrunk back and said “sorry” while sticking out her tongue.
But Kazami did not understand.
“What’s wrong with Kusanagi?”
“Oh?” Her father turned toward her with an expression similar to a smile. “How about you discuss that with your friends? This is a topic I tried to get put on an educational program, but no one would take it. I hope it will be some use to you, Chisato.”
There was no worry of that.
…This is more than enough.
Not only did she have some hints, but she had realized some things herself too. She felt that was quite good for the athletic type. On top of that, she had some mysteries for them to solve.
“I’m glad I came home to visit,” she said.
Her parents cheered and high-fived.
She would never be a match for them.
It was still morning, but Kashima was in UCAT’s cafeteria.
It was only occupied by a few night shift workers, so it was nice and quiet.
“Why did you bring me here, Atsuta? I haven’t even entered the design room yet.”
“This is about the time you usually get some Nappa cabbage from your parents. If so, you’ll be working on getting rid of your extra pickled vegetables. Hand them over.”
Atsuta wore his combat uniform and held out chopsticks and a bowl piled high with white rice.
“Are you going to eat nothing but pickled vegetables and rice?”
“Don’t underestimate me, military god. An old saying says to eat vegetables on your rice and a bowl of soup. This is the same.”
He pulled something out of his pocket and placed it on the table.
It was a can of coffee. It was a UCAT brand named Morning Coffee Gotz. To increase its morning image, a high contrast red and white image of a healthy butler wearing nothing but an apron was printed on the can.
“Is that your ‘soup’? I suppose the color does resemble miso soup, but having that, Nappa cabbage, and rice for breakfast is really mixing Japanese and western, don’t you think?”
“You got a problem with this? Keh. You sure have gotten full of yourself.”
“Do you even know what ‘full of yourself’ means? Anyway, you want me to provide the vegetables?” With an exasperated sigh, Kashima took Natsu’s homemade bento from his bag. “Natsu actually predicted this. Look, she even put in some of the pickled cherry blossoms you like.”
“Oh, where she pickles the flower petals? They’re a bit bitter, so they go good with alcohol. …Unlike you, your wife does everything so well it almost pisses me off.”
“I can’t tell if you’re complaining or complimenting her.”
“You idiot. A guy can’t compliment women that easily.”
“You mean you have to compliment them difficultly?”
“Eh? Oh, well, um…what? I guess, uh… You idiot!”
“I’m not sure how you ended up there, but that’s quite the conclusion. At any rate, I’ll tell Natsu-san what you said.”
“Yeah, you do that. Tell her ‘Please make more, dammit!’ ”
“I really don’t understand what you’re trying to say half the time,” said Kashima with his usual sigh.
He suddenly realized Atsuta had opened the pack in his hand and started eating.
He did not approve of using the Art of Walking on friends, but using it may have been second nature to Sword God Atsuta.
“Is it good?”
He took the lack of a response as a yes.
The next thing he knew, Atsuta had refilled his bowl of rice and the pickled vegetables were almost gone.
Atsuta then spoke up as if carried by his momentum.
“So what’re you gonna do about the Leviathan Road?”
“I’m not sure. …How about you do it?”
“C’mon.” Atsuta stopped moving his chopsticks. “You really have no motivation, do you?”
“To be honest, no. The commotion here yesterday reminded me I have no reason at all to care about 2nd-Gear.”
“Stop treating this all so seriously and just give yourself a reason, you idiot.”
“Don’t say that. I really don’t have a reason. Seeing the damage to Susaou made my grandfather’s dying words meaningless, and now I have a family.”
He recalled Sayama’s words from the day before.
…He wants to properly face 2nd-Gear.
“They’re all so serious, so I think they deserve someone better than me.”
Atsuta took a breath and spat out more words.
“Just quit UCAT.”
Kashima thought for a while about Atsuta’s suggestion.
“That might be a good idea.”
“Don’t give me that look, Atsuta. To be honest, for someone with my lack of guts, in my position, and with my thoughts, running away by dropping out might be easier.”
If he quit, he would not have to worry anymore. He would have no reason to hold on to it all anymore.
He suddenly thought about how his parents lived. Rather than choosing the path of a swordsmith, they had chosen farming. The only blades they held were kitchen knives and sickles.
Natsu felt bad about receiving vegetables from them, but it delighted them.
“Some people have more than one option. That’s just how it is.”
“And are you one of them, Kashima?”
“I don’t know, but I left the path of a swordsmith after that accident eight years ago. My hands never again held a chisel and I only provide adjustments to finished products using a keyboard.” Kashima lightly tapped his fingernails on the table. “It’s been eight years. I have not made a single Cowling Sword since then. If I have a chance to leave…”
“Are you saying that chance is now? Are you saying you’ll run just as you’ve been given the important role of Leviathan Road negotiator?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying.” He took a breath. “I can’t reveal anything. I can’t even tell my child about the weapons-making skills passed down by my ancestors. If I’m going to quit, now is the time. I can join Low-Gear and have a happy family. …I always wondered if I was a resident of Low-Gear or not, but my child won’t.”
“Then what are you gonna do about the truth of 2nd-Gear you mentioned before? Only your family knows about it.”
“I can pass it on to Director Tsukuyomi and leave the decision with her.”
He looked forward and saw Atsuta who was rising up from his chair a bit.
“Are you serious?”
“I’m not sure. I just went with the flow of the conversation. But this is tough.” His shoulders drooped. “I can’t seem to decide what I should do.”
Atsuta clicked his tongue and lowered back into his chair.
“You don’t really need a reason, y’know? I enjoy cutting people down for no reason.”
“Are you hoping to find someone who agrees with how your brain works?”
Kashima gave a bitter smile and Atsuta narrowed his eyes.
“Oh? You think I don’t have a reason to care about the Leviathan Road, do you?”
“I-it can’t be. …Do you?”
“Don’t act so surprised, you idiot. Yes, I do. It’s about a girl I’ve fallen for.”
“That classmate from your school days? That’s an odd connection. Well, I won’t pry, but it sounds like a personal grudge.”
“How is that not prying?”
With a look of annoyance, Atsuta slid over the pack of pickled vegetables.
“What? You don’t want it?”
“Idiot. I can’t eat the pickled vegetables of a woman who seduced a military god.”
“Ha ha ha. You’re jealous that I have such a great wife.”
“Do you ever listen…?” Atsuta spat out a “keh” and took a sip of coffee. “Gather your things and get lost, you loser. This is pathetic. Completely pathetic. The Kashima family of Takemikazuchi, 2nd-Gear’s greatest military god and swordsmith, is dropping out to be with his wife and kid? Have fun with your home life, dammit.”
“I’m amazed you can say this much about it.”
Atsuta clicked his tongue, leaned back, and looked up at the ceiling.
Kashima did not resent him. He felt he was a good friend to have around.
“I haven’t decided whether I will drop out or not. I just don’t have the energy to face the Leviathan Road. UCAT pays well and sticking with it will allow me to pay off my mortgage. …I’m just troubled because I don’t enjoy it at all.”
Atsuta straightened up and picked up his bowl. He grabbed the salt from the seasonings on the table and sprinkled some on the rice.
“What is it, Atsuta? And aren’t you putting too much salt on that?”
“You idiot, I need salt because I have low blood pressure. You didn’t know that?”
“First I’ve heard of it. Relative to you, the rest of humanity must have extremely low blood pressure.”
“If you’re gonna say that, I have something else to say. I’ll ask this in place of a parting gift: What is the truth of 2nd-Gear and Yamata’s question?”
“I will tell that to Director Tsukuyomi first.”
“Is it that important?”
“I don’t really know.” Kashima tilted his head. “My ancestors have been passing it down for generations, so we’ve kind of lost sight of the importance. And that’s apparently why Yamata didn’t trust my ancestor’s answer when 2nd-Gear was destroyed.”
“Then isn’t it useless now?”
“It’s still useful as a negotiating tool. Low-Gear wants to know it.” Kashima folded his arms and said something even he felt was unlike him. “Ooshiro Hiromasa found that word in exchange for his life. My grandfather resented him and that word made him suffer and swear complete submission to Low-Gear. …It must have value.” Kashima smiled bitterly and kept the smile on his face. “But it’s been 60 years. We’ve become too influenced by Low-Gear.”
Once he finished speaking, Atsuta stopped moving his chopsticks and gave an annoyed look.
Kashima wondered why for a moment, but then realized the answer.
…Oh. I’m giving a strange smile, aren’t I?
His eyebrows were bent weakly and his head was lowered, but his smile remained.
As he wondered what that kind of smile was called, Atsuta’s voice prodded at his thoughts.
“Well, if the desire to quit doesn’t go away, stop by the design room’s third production room.”
Kashima suddenly frowned.
The third production room was a forbidden room in the development department.
It had remained unopened since that night eight years ago.
“That’s where I sealed-…”
“You can’t say it? But you haven’t forgotten, have you? There’s something in there that can’t just be thrown out as oversized trash. The power you sealed away is in there.”
Kashima suddenly remembered.
Eight years ago, he had saved Natsu from the mud and carried her into the rescue vehicle.
Afterwards, while he was soaking wet from the rain, he had lifted something up from the mud without even wiping the blood from his fingers.
It was a sword frame that had broken in two.
…I sealed it deep in the corporation bearing the name Izumo.
“Do you get it, Kashima? You sealed away what should’ve been given to me: the Cowling Sword Futsuno. Even while sealed, the residual fear it emits is enough to keep the newbies away.” He took a breath. “If you quit, get rid of it. It’s only polite.”
As the morning came to an end, Sayama and the others wore their school uniforms as they walked through the city.
They were on their way to the Tamiya household where Sayama had grown up.
Sayama, Ooki, and Shinjou Setsu led the way and other volunteers from their class followed.
They all held wooden panels, paint, metal pipes, or other materials.
Shinjou turned back toward line following them and spoke to Sayama.
“We’re skipping fourth period to build a festival stand at your mansion. This is kind of amazing.”
“Ooki-sensei did a splendid job of forgetting to order the materials. I have business in Tachikawa later, but I can help out until then. We have to get this stand built fast.”
That afternoon, he had the preliminary negotiations with 2nd-Gear in the concept space within Showa Memorial Park.
…I wonder if that Kashima will show up.
As Sayama thought, he saw Ooki walking ahead of him.
She wore a blouse and was swinging her arms while humming a cheerful tune.
“Lunch at Sayama-kun’s place is sure to be magnificent!”
Shinjou poked at Sayama’s arm.
“Sayama-kun, can’t you stop her from speaking her mind so honestly?”
“No. If it was possible, I would have done so last year. The results were less than satisfactory.”
“That must have been tough.”
Ooki suddenly turned around with a smile on her face.
“I wanted to go with the entire class, but I guess that isn’t going to happen. A lot of people are busy preparing the stands for their clubs or have part-time jobs. Harakawa-kun rode off on his motorcycle right away.”
Sayama glanced behind them and Shinjou followed his gaze while carrying a binder of loose leaf paper. About thirty students followed them.
“But about 70% of the class saw this as their top priority.”
Sayama saw Shinjou turn an impressed look toward Ooki. Ooki on the other hand looked troubled.
“Sorry, Sayama-kun. I actually wanted to solidify the bonds of our class with a cookout, a campout, or a marines-style training camp.”
“I will kindly ignore that last one, but you should not feel bad about using the Tamiya household instead.”
“I know. And your home knows the trick to creating a good festival stand.”
Shinjou tilted his head at that.
“I thought the Tamiya family ran a security company? Do they do construction too?”
“No, they just so happen to have a lot of specialists like that. Mr. Kim from China joined the company about four years ago and he is really good at building sturdy mobile stands.”
“Yes. The only problem is he likes to add bulletproof shields, GPS, and escape devices if you are not careful. …He takes it seriously, don’t you think? Ha ha ha.”
“I-I think he might be building something other than a festival stand.”
“But we won the award for best stand last year!” added Ooki.
“Yes. Thinning the armor paid off in the high-speed cruising. And by giving it electronic controls inside, a commander and driver could take on a great number of people on their own. It was quite powerful.”
“S-sorry, but what are we talking about here?”
“A crepe stand. Have you never seen one? They are quite common.”
“Oh? So stands that can fly are common?”
“Do not worry about it.”
Sayama patted Shinjou’s shoulder.
Shinjou looked up at him with a hint of dissatisfaction in his eyes.
But Sayama’s eyes were fixed on the binder Shinjou held in his arms.
Shinjou must have noticed what he was looking at because he held the binder tighter as if to protect it.
“U-um. I…uh…didn’t bring this so I could avoid helping prepare.”
“You did not want to let go of it, did you?”
That was a part of it, but Shinjou lowered his head and blushed.
“I finished the plot, so I wanted you to take a look at it. …Would that be a problem?”
“Why would it be a problem?”
“Well…” said Shinjou as he looked around.
Ooki had faced forward once more and was humming. The other students were speaking with their friends. No one was paying any attention to them.
Shinjou quickly moved closer and whispered so only Sayama could hear.
“I think you might figure it out if you read it.”
“Figure what out?”
Shinjou stopped walking for an instant.
He lowered his head and did not look toward Sayama.
And so Sayama asked another question.
“You mean I will figure something out if I read this plot, correct?”
Shinjou raised his head, revealing his slightly reddened face.
Shinjou’s shoulders trembled and he wrapped his arms around his stomach.
As Shinjou seemed to shrink back, Sayama wrapped his arms around his back.
“Is something wrong?”
“N-no. I’m fine.”
Shinjou’s raised head showed a weak smile.
Shinjou checked to make sure no one was watching them and spoke.
“Th-this happens sometimes. About once a month, I get this feeling like my stomach is sinking down. …It hadn’t happened recently, but it just came now.”
“Hm. This is a touchy subject, so I will try to ask this tactfully: is it your period?”
“Has the meaning of the word ‘tactfully’ changed since I last checked?” Shinjou sighed. “Not to mention that I don’t have a period.”
From his expression as he spoke, Shinjou seemed to be fine now.
But when he finished speaking, his eyebrows lowered and Sayama was fairly certain he saw a disappointed look on his face.
At any rate, Sayama nodded.
“When we arrive at the Tamiya household, I will have Kouji prepare you a hot drink. Also, I think Ryouko has an excellent painkiller. You can take some.”
“Medicines don’t have much effect on me.”
“Not to worry. The Tamiya family’s secret original formula uses no chemical additives. According to Ryouko, half of the drug is made from ‘mercy’.”
“And is the other half made from ‘absolute seriousness’? Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Of course it is okay. I tried some once. The next thing I knew, three days had passed and I was surrounded by tons of people.”
“That isn’t okay at all!”
Shinjou sighed, lowered his shoulders, and looked forward.
Sayama faced forward as well.
The path opened up ahead of them and a large flat silhouette surrounded by a fence came into view.
That tile-roofed mansion with a large yard was the Tamiya household. Trees, large stones, and a pond were visible over the tall fence and the vast mansion sat in the center.
Shinjou sighed again and this time it was a mixture of relief and wonder.
He realized everyone had stopped walking and Ooki stood before the gate.
She pushed on the gate, but it did not open.
Sayama and Shinjou watched on, wondering what she was planning to do. Ooki tilted her head and then clapped her hands together in realization. She knocked on the gate and let out a shout.
“I request an audience with the master of the house!”
“Ooki-sensei, what era do you think it is?”
“Eh? But the gate opened on its own when they said that on TV yesterday.”
“That was the TV drama version of Tsujigiri Samurai that began yesterday at eight. Can you not see the intercom next to the gate?”
“Oh, you’re right.” Ooki brought a finger to the intercom. “Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong, ding, ding, ding… Sixteen in a row! …Ow ow ow ow ow! What kind of student hits their teacher’s head sixteen times in a row, Sayama-kun!?”
“Shut up. For the sake of mankind’s sanity, never touch that intercom again. Got it?”
As soon as he said that, Sayama sensed a presence to his right.
He felt the air move in toward the side of his non-dominant hand.
“I see you haven’t changed, Mikoto.”
Sayama heard a husky voice and all of a sudden found himself looking up at the blue sky.
He had been thrown through the air.
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