Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Lesson from the Past
A driving force is needed to gain something
Is that force desire?
Or is it guilt?
Kashima’s trip home required riding both the train and the bus.
The yellow train from the Yamanote Line’s Takadanobaba Station to the Seibu Line’s Tanashi Station took approximately half an hour.
With early morning gone, he left through the south entrance of that white-walled station sitting in the morning sun.
Riding the bus heading to Mukoudai Park and getting off near Shakujii River left him almost at his home.
The single-story house sitting in the slightly chilly air with Shakujii River and a small thicket behind it was Kashima’s home.
“I guess I’ll head to UCAT after getting a bit of sleep.”
He stood before a red-roofed house with a metal fence surrounding it.
A tiered platform displaying flowers was visible in the small yard within the fence.
Kashima walked up to the front door, stopped, and sighed. He looked down and fixed his collar.
And he suddenly saw movement in front of him.
The door made a small noise and opened.
A single woman stood within the entrance which looked dim compared to outside.
The first thing Kashima saw was the colors.
He saw the black of her short hair, the white of her shirt, the black of her jeans, and the white of her skin.
Her small black eyes looked at him and smiled in conjunction with her lips.
“Did you hear my footsteps? …You’ve had a perfect track record on identifying people by their footsteps since our college days, haven’t you?”
A smile naturally formed on Kashima’s face when he saw her.
“I’m home, Natsu-san,” he said with a nod.
“Welcome back, Akio-san.”
The woman, Natsu, took a step back and welcomed in the head of the household.
“The night shift must be exhausting. Are you going in again today?”
“After I eat, I’ll get some sleep, but then I have to go in. I’m a terrible husband.”
“You’ll gain weight,” said Natsu while closing her eyes in a slight smile.
She gave a small laugh from her nose. This laugh was evidence of her good mood and Kashima found it amusing enough that he smiled a bit.
When he entered the house, he naturally let out a sigh.
“Your own house really is the most relaxing place. …Natsu-san, where’s Harumi?”
“Asleep. If you want to see her, do it after your bath. The water is ready, but do you want to eat first?”
“Yes, I’ll eat first. …Do I have to change?”
“This isn’t your workplace,” said Natsu decisively while still smiling. “It’s thanks to your job that we have this wonderful house, but that’s all the more reason to distance yourself from that job while you’re here. …I’m sure Haru-chan would say the same.”
“You know I can’t win if you bring Harumi into it.”
He admitted defeat and decided change out of his work clothes. He settled on changing into a track suit or something.
“Your track suit is next to the dresser. Just wait a second. I’m heating up the miso soup.”
Without forgetting to say thanks, Kashima opened the frosted glass sliding door leading from the entranceway to the living room.
The large window looking out to the yard on the left was open and the bright light filling the room seemed to wake him up.
A low table sat in the center of that light.
The dresser was on the right and a bookshelf sat on the left wall between the window and the sliding door to the bedroom.
The television to the left of the entrance was playing the news.
The news was discussing technology.
Kashima had a feeling that sort of news had grown more common lately.
All the recent technological advances may have been a side effect of the activity in the various Gears’ positive concepts in order to oppose the negative concepts.
“But reality still isn’t that rich.”
Kashima began changing with a bitter smile on his face.
He heard Natsu speaking from the kitchen.
“Come to think of it, some Nappa cabbage arrived from your parents.”
“Then we need to take care of what’s in the bowl on the table today.”
“I’ll pickle them, so don’t worry. I also used some in the miso soup. The part-timers seem to really like our pickled vegetables. They call it super good and nasty good… Slang these days is really confusing.”
Kashima heard a sigh from the kitchen.
“But I feel bad always receiving vegetables from them and never doing anything in return.”
“Yes, but my parents do it because they like to. They really like you, Natsu-san. If it was just me, they would never send anything.”
“You sound serious, so I won’t comment on that. But vegetables are expensive these days. …Do you think they’re just trying to be considerate of me? My parents still haven’t…”
“I said they’re doing it because they like to, Natsu-san.”
“Okay. But I am thankful. Oh, and I’m thankful for this knife I’m using, too.”
When Natsu-san replied, a hint of confusion had entered her voice.
“Yes, um, this knife I’m using. A blade your father worked on just seems different somehow.”
“Well, my dad is wired a bit differently than most people. My mom too, actually.”
“I won’t deny that, but…um, that isn’t what I meant. I can use it without being afraid. Ever since your father gave me this knife when we married, I haven’t hurt my hand with any kind of blade. Not even when using a needle or anything else. …It’s like this knife is a protective charm.”
It had been altered by a man with the name of the military god Kashima and a philosopher’s stone had been added, so that was only natural.
A blade altered by the hands of a god would become a charm and its owner could not be injured by lesser blades.
However, Natsu knew nothing of 2nd-Gear, so Kashima could only play dumb.
“Akio-san, your family really does suit the name of the heavenly god Kashima, doesn’t it?”
“My dad would love it if he knew you were comparing him to a god.”
“But when I visited your parents’ home, there was no connection to the heavenly god. …I researched the great sword of the heavenly god Kashima in college, so I got excited when I heard your father sharpens blades.”
Kashima heard a sigh followed by a line he had heard many times.
“It’s a lot different from my maiden name.”
“I think Takagi is a great name. It means you can reach up to heaven.”
Natsu gave no reply.
…Should I not have said that?
As he thought that, Kashima looked toward the bookshelf in front of him.
The top shelf had a sticker labeled “Natsu”. It contained studies on Japanese mythology, all of which were remnants of her college days.
Kashima spotted a nostalgic title among them.
…I was an engineering student, but I attended a seminar on ancient civilization research so I could learn about 2nd-Gear.
He had written a report based on the same book on that shelf.
“And that’s where I met Natsu-san…” he said too quietly for anyone else to hear. “I’m plenty happy now.”
He glanced over to make sure Natsu had not left the kitchen and then removed the book from the shelf.
Two thin books were pressed up against the back panel of the shelf.
They were picture books.
Those worn out antiques told the legend of Susanoo and the legend of Yamato Takeru. The author’s name was…
…Will she ever appreciate that name?
Kashima finished changing, opened the curtain, and sat on the floor.
He heard the sound of clanking ceramics coming from the kitchen.
“Did Atsuta-san not come with you again, today?”
“He’s been heading home on the train recently. He doesn’t have enough points left on his license. In fact, he said he only has one left.”
“I see. …Maybe this is thinking too much into it, but does Atsuta-san ever intend to get married? He hasn’t even been coming here recently.”
“He has feelings for someone. Apparently, she was a classmate in high school and is the president of a security company now. And he says the reason he hasn’t been coming here is that he dislikes babies.”
“How childish of him.”
“I don’t think he’s even reached the level of a child. Or a human, for that matter.”
“You shouldn’t talk about your friend like that.”
“That doesn’t deny that he’s on the level of an ape…”
With that troubled comment, Natsu entered the room.
The large tray in Natsu’s hands contained two teacups, two bowls of miso soup, and two rice bowls.
And the deep platter held…
“It isn’t a cabbage roll, but I stuffed some of the Nappa cabbage with the mincemeat left over from last night. You should be able to use chopsticks.”
Kashima saw a boiled water soup with two long and slightly pale green bundles inside.
“Did you not eat this morning?”
“I knew you would return, Akio-san. And I already gave Haru-chan milk, so don’t worry.”
Natsu’s eyes narrowed in a small smile and she sat next to him.
“Or did you want to see that?”
“I did,” replied Kashima and Natsu blushed a bit.
A restless atmosphere filled the air.
At the same time, the news on the television reached the weather forecast.
According to the weather map, that evening would have…
“Rain? But it’s so sunny outside right now.”
“I’ll hurry home. I can’t leave you alone on a rainy night.”
Kashima turned to Natsu to find the smile gone from her face.
Her hands remained motionless as she stared at the weather map predicting rain.
She did not move.
Kashima silently removed the fly-net cover from the table.
The slight movement of the air and the whiteness of the fly-net cover caused Natsu to tremble slightly.
She quickly opened the cover of the small bowl and prepared a small plate.
Her expression was back to normal.
“I’m fine. I can even go outside now if I have an umbrella. Anyway, let’s eat.”
The weather map on the television was replaced with rural footage.
It showed a paddy field in the mountains. They were preparing to plant the early-growing rice.
Natsu breathed a sigh of relief when she saw it. She picked up a rice bowl and spoke.
“They really plant rice early these days. Your parents should be beginning soon, too.”
“I had enough of helping them last year.”
With a weak smile, Natsu held the rice bowl out toward him.
“Thanks,” said Kashima as he reached out to take it.
The bowl contained rice from the Okutama farm of the Kashima family. And…
“But I liked having rice we helped make. If possible, I’d like to do that again this year.”
As she spoke, Kashima touched the hand holding the bowl.
Natsu’s left hand was missing something.
It had no little finger or ring finger.
As noon drew near, Taka-Akita Academy entered fourth period.
Even though classes were in session, it was also preparation time for the spring school festival known as the All Holiday Festival.
Students excused from class could be seen preparing for battle throughout the school.
From the road to the sports grounds, from the dorms to the cafeteria, and even on the paved and gravel pathways, members of various groups were running around carrying materials or ingredients.
A few people were looking down over all of them.
These people sat on the second floor of the second year general school building’s emergency staircase.
Sitting on the landing were Izumo with his coat removed to show off his well-built body through his shirt and Kazami who was spreading out a homemade triple-layer bento on a sheet.
And another girl sat in front of them.
This platinum blonde girl wore her winter uniform below the springtime sun.
Kazami called the name of this girl who had a small bird on her shoulder and a black cat next to her.
“Brunhild, do you have the form for the art club?”
Brunhild handed her a single sheet of paper.
It was the form for the art club’s stand at the festival.
Kazami picked up a binder with a pile of papers inside and compared Brunhild’s paper to an example.
She checked to make sure everything was filled out and stamped.
“The form looks in order, but what’s with this name? Avant-Garde Art Grilled Chicken ‘Cadmium 2005’? Is that toxic?”
“We had a vote and decided on this. It’s amazing.”
“Well, the seasoning is green like this and it’s apparently a guaranteed one-hit kill.”
“Hey, Chisato. If you ask about this anymore, we’ll be caught up in a crime.”
Kazami almost fell forward, but she straightened up and Brunhild gave a bitter smile.
“The underclassmen said they would give you a feast if you come by.”
“That won’t be necessary. …But, Brunhild, isn’t it painful to serve grilled chicken while raising a bird?”
“Yes, but we decided by vote. It may be a problem for me as the head of the club, but I plan to stay away from buying supplies and preparing the food. I will only handle the finances.”
“That might be difficult. …But grilled chicken tends to make outrageous amounts of money, so I hope you make a good amount.”
“You know a lot about this.”
“My dad likes this kind of thing. He always has a stand at the neighborhood association festival. He sells them for 50 yen a piece while the cost price is only 20 yen. He makes around 30,000 yen in a day, so he takes it way too seriously and grills and grills like a monkey or something.”
“I see. What kind of person is your father, Kazami? Is he like a monkey?”
“He’d be easier to deal with if he was.”
“What’s with that exasperated sigh?”
“Well, my mom was a Showa era idol who could sing really well but wasn’t selling due to being terrible with the business side of things. My dad had known her since their schooldays and he worked as her manager for a while.” Kazami gave a bitter smile. “But I’ve never actually heard my mom sing. It embarrasses her, so she hides all of the photos from back then and changes the channel whenever a show about nostalgic songs comes on.”
“Why don’t you just watch it while over at my place? You always change the channel yourself.”
“I can’t just watch something she’s trying to hide.”
“So that’s how it works,” said Izumo with a nod.
“I see,” said Brunhild as she lowered her head.
Kazami placed Brunhild’s form in the binder and changed the subject.
“Anyway, how are things going with 1st-Gear?”
“The reservation is set to be expanded.”
“Really? They finally made up their mind?”
“This is still inside information, but it seems a place in German UCAT is being set up to take some of us in. The European UCATs will be taking on some of the maintenance expenses on the condition that we share our techniques with them. They’re only accepting second generation members and onwards, but that’s plenty.”
“I see. A German forest would be a great place for 1st-Gear.”
“Unfortunately, I am a first generation member, so I can’t go even if I am naturalized.”
“Oh, sorry. …I should have kept my mouth shut.”
“It’s fine. Once the concepts are released to seal the negative concepts, 1st-Gear’s concepts will slowly permeate this Gear. Once that happens, we should be freed from the small reservations.” She gave a slight smile. “Of course, we’ll still have to live in areas where the normal people of this Gear can’t find us.”
Brunhild’s final comment caused Kazami to freeze in place.
Silence fell over them.
Kazami tried to find something to say, but found nothing.
Meanwhile, something lightly struck Kazami’s thigh.
It was Brunhild’s black cat.
The cat gave a mew, tilted his head, and looked up at her, so she smiled back.
“Were you giving silent consideration?” she asked.
The cat narrowed his eyes and began to climb into her lap.
However, Brunhild wordlessly stopped him.
She grabbed the cat’s tail and dragged him away.
“You don’t need to feel sorry for me, Kazami.”
“Um, no. I wasn’t. It’s just that the cat-…”
“Forget about the cat. …Anyway, that was just what I thought.” Brunhild held the cat up by the tail and smiled slightly. “So let me tell you this: We think our situation has improved. I want you to at least remember that.”
“Fasolt is working hard because he thinks so too, right?”
“Yes, but he seems to be on poor terms with Fafner lately.”
“Yes,” said Brunhild with a nod. Her tone grew thoughtful. “Half-dragon fights are a sight to behold. Their shells are really hard, so no normal attack is going to do any damage.”
“Um…Brunhild? I thought this was a fight between father and son. Why are we talking about ‘doing damage’?”
“Oh? Isn’t that normal?”
“Chisato, I think 1st-Gear might be your kind of place.”
“What do you mean by that!? Take this! And this! And this!”
“Yes, Kazami. I think that’s about normal.”
“I don’t think so. Ow, ow, ow. My arm isn’t supposed to bend like that!”
Brunhild smiled bitterly as she heard Izumo scream.
She had a small bird on her shoulder and a cat dangling upside down from her hand.
As soon as she stood up, a chime rang, indicating the end of fourth period.
“Lunch break… After stopping by the library, I will go help build the stand.”
“Do all of your club’s members have class excuses?”
“Yes, but you need to put more effort into making them. They would be ridiculously easy to counterfeit.”
“Th-that’s the special right given to those smart enough to come up with the idea,” said Izumo while trapped in a double arm lock.
Brunhild gave a small laugh and reached for the emergency exit door next to him.
“I hope you can stay that calm as you work on the next Leviathan Road,” she said.
At the same time, a boy entered through the door she had opened.
It was Sayama.
He swept his left hand up once to brush back his hair and spoke.
“Hm. This is an unusual combination.”
“Are you alone? Shinjou Setsu isn’t with you?”
Sayama gave a sigh and began speaking in an admonishing tone.
“He is not always with me. I told him I have student council work, so he said he would head on to the cafeteria and buy my lunch as well. I am most grateful.”
As he spoke, another figure suddenly appeared behind him.
“Hi! How is everyone doing?”
It was Ooki with a smile filling her face.
“Oh, is everyone here? If only we all had our lunches with us.” She nodded. “How about we talk about the next Leviathan Road? Sayama-kun, you’re here because you’ve decided which Gear to do next, right?”
- ↑ Takagi literally means “tall tree”.
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