Owari no Chronicle:Volume3 Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Lying Neighbor
The question of something unseen produces a feeling
One’s heart moves because that feeling resides within it
Like the scent of flowers carried on the wind
After parting ways with Tsukuyomi, Sayama entered the training facility in UCAT’s third basement.
He was currently in the locker room. It was one location of several layers created by a concept space.
The room was about twenty meters long and bordered a shower room.
Tall lockers made of a dry white substance lined the wall.
On the way here, Sayama had picked Ooshiro up from the floor in the corridor and told him the following:
“After meeting up with Kazami and the others in the training room, I wish to decide whether we will perform the Leviathan Road with 2nd-Gear.”
But despite saying that, he already intended to go ahead with the negotiation.
…I am interested. What type of negotiation should we use?
He still had not seen how 2nd-Gear viewed the Leviathan Road.
That was one thing he wanted to learn.
“There is also that technique Director Tsukuyomi used…”
What had that been?
Sayama understood pursuing something out of curiosity was dangerous.
However, he could not stop the feeling of curiosity.
The reception desk informed him Kazami and the others had already entered the training room. They all wanted to finish training as quickly as possible to have more time to exchange their ideas on the different issues.
While thinking about various things, Sayama placed Baku on his head and changed.
“I wonder if the others have all finished their Brazilian gymnastics warm up.”
The only names on the lockers were Izumo, Boldman, and Sayama.
This locker room was exclusively used by Team Leviathan and Kazami said the girls had a similar arrangement. However, Kazami also said Shinjou alone was treated differently.
Shinjou used the ninth women’s locker room, but that was meant for the people UCAT referred to as “VIP Level”.
“From what Kazami said, UCAT must really treasure her.”
It was true she was quite sheltered and had almost never left UCAT.
They must have their reasons, thought Sayama as he finished changing.
He now wore a thin armored uniform colored primarily white and black. It was made up of a shirt and tights that covered almost his entire body, a vest, and pants.
His eyes stopped on the ring on his left middle finger as he equipped his arm band.
“They still will not give me Georgius.”
Ooshiro had given him that gauntlet during the battle with 1st-Gear.
That mysterious concept weapon had allegedly been found by his mother, but Ooshiro and the others had taken it back after the battle.
With all the unknowns surrounding it, Sayama felt that was the proper way of handling it.
He stared at the ring on his left hand for several seconds.
But then he shook his head.
He endured the pain in his chest and cut off that train of thought.
There was something else he needed to think about now.
Officially, he had to think about how to handle the Leviathan Road with 2nd-Gear.
…Once my left hand is fully healed, Setsu-kun will leave me.
Both were issues he would have to face eventually.
Suddenly, he recalled his conversation with Shinjou before leaving school.
In that afterschool classroom, Shinjou had hung his head down, hesitated, explained he was trying to write a novel, and said he resembled Yamato Takeru.
All of those actions had been signs of his desire to say something.
…If Shinjou-kun grows serious about this, I must face him.
Sayama nodded and stopped thinking. He then walked forward.
After a few steps, he reached a white automatic sliding door. The training room lay beyond it.
The door emitted an electronic tone and he heard a voice.
—People do not overestimate their power.
The power one believed one had was not an overestimation; one had that power.
That concept linked the locker room with the training room and both became the same.
Then the door opened.
Beyond lay the white walls, floor, and ceiling of a thirty meter square space.
Instead of the large space, Sayama first saw something odd.
It was a body contained within a white armored uniform.
This person was lying on their back in midair. It was a large man flying toward Sayama.
Sayama took an instant to look closer and realized this was Izumo.
“Oh? Have your natural eccentricities grown so great you can finally fly, Izumo?”
“Sayama!? Wait! This is dangerous! Stop saying stupid things and catch him!”
Oh, it is Kazami, thought Sayama. Kazami is always the one to use violence against him, so why does she want me to catch him?
Was Izumo’s flight not her doing?
On second glance, Izumo was not flying through the air the way he usually did.
“When Kazami sends him flying, it is more…how should I put it? Rich and dense?”
“The way he’s flying is dangerous, so catch him! Do you want me to send you flying!?”
Sayama caught on immediately.
“It is not my style to catch a guy like Izumo, but if I must.”
Sayama prepared himself to catch Izumo and watched him fly closer.
Izumo’s trajectory was a bit high, so Sayama had to catch him from a bit below.
To spread his legs backwards, Sayama took a large step back.
As soon as he did, the door’s sensor lost sight of him and the door closed in an instant.
“Oh?” he muttered.
The closed door shook as Sayama heard a pig-like squeal and a sound of impact on the other side.
The noise shook the lockers and produced a creaking that made one’s skin crawl.
Sayama remained motionless. He stared silently at the door while still in the pose to catch Izumo.
He had several thoughts, but he drove them all out of his head with a single sigh.
“Some things are simply outside of human control. What a pain.”
He stepped up to the door and it immediately opened once more.
He found Izumo standing there with blood running from his head.
“Oh, so you are fine. Such a disappointment for humankind.”
“D-damn you! Do I look fine to you, stupid Sayama!”
“Anyone with that much energy is doing well enough. And with you, anything short of death counts as fine, Izumo.”
“And if I do die?”
Sayama thought on that question. Finally, he clapped his hands together and Baku imitated the action on his head.
“A light wound?”
“Okay, you idiot. Do you mind if I say something? It’s for your own good.”
“What is it? If you are going to praise me, I would prefer you wait until after I complete some large job.”
“You belong in a hospital.”
“You do enjoy saying rude things, don’t you? Ha ha ha. You are a bastard at unprecedented levels.”
“Wa ha ha. I’m nothing compared to you, you cruel bastard. And more importantly…”
Izumo stood up and turned toward one corner of the training room.
From Sayama’s perspective, it was the back left corner. Kazami and three others stood there.
The first was Sibyl who wore a white armored uniform with skirt and everything else included.
The second was Shinjou who wore a white armored uniform and held a large metal staff.
And the third was a woman wearing a black armored uniform, a skirt, and a black three-cornered hat.
Sayama recognized this woman who held a bamboo broom and whose sleeve swelled out at the shoulders.
“Oh, are you finally here? From what I hear, you met with Director Tsukuyomi of 2nd-Gear. Have you already decided to negotiate with them?”
“No, not yet. After training here, I thought I would discuss it with the old man.”
“I see,” said Diana in a relieved voice. “Then do you still only have some small questions about 2nd-Gear?”
“Does that matter?”
“Yes. I have one thing to teach you to ensure you do not take this negotiation lightly. This is something very important for the Leviathan Road you are about to head down.”
On the first floor of Taka-Akita Academy’s third general school building, the setting sun filled the hallway through windows with no glass.
Ooki was stooped over by the wall and sweeping.
Behind her, Siegfried held a broom as well.
“Is this good enough?” she asked.
Siegfried stopped sweeping and ran a finger across the window frame.
“This is still fairly dirty…”
“That isn’t from the fight just now!”
Ooki let out an exhausted sigh and looked around.
She saw windows with no glass and a scorched hallway.
She changed how she looked at the situation and spoke her thoughts out loud.
“Siegfried-san, who was that Diana woman?”
“That isn’t what I meant.” Ooki looked around at the glass shards in the dustpan. “Who is she to Sayama-kun and the others?”
The ends of her eyebrows lowered as she asked and Siegfried initially remained silent.
Ooki turned around and tilted her head at his silence.
Finally, he replied with a question of his own while looking down at her.
“Why do you ask that?”
Ooki smiled and gave an answer.
“Because they are my students,” she said as if that was only natural. “It worries me.”
Siegfried’s expression changed.
He smiled slightly.
Without showing any more of his true feelings, the sorcerer spoke.
“I do not know the details either, but Diana arrived in Japanese UCAT during the 1980s. She was a consultant in magic spells. And…she remained until the end of ’95.”
“You mean… she stayed until that earthquake?”
“Yes,” replied Siegfried. “Just like the original UCAT members had the Eight Great Dragon Kings, it seems the old UCAT leading up to the earthquake had a group known as the Five Great Peaks. Diana is one of them. …At the time, they were apparently trying to learn and use the combat techniques of each Gear. Why, I do not know.”
“In that case, this was not her true strength.”
Ooki looked across the hallway. The windows were gone and portions were scorched, but there was no more destruction than that.
Siegfried nodded and spoke.
“She may have seen a user of 1st-Gear’s true power as a chance to test the power of hers which is not borrowed. But I doubt she was taking this seriously.” He took a breath. “Before she left the school, she told me she had something to teach those who would be following in our footsteps.”
Shinjou's eyes opened in surprise as she watched the mock battle being used as training.
Sayama was fighting, but…
“He can’t do anything…”
As she watched, Sayama continually back stepped as he moved along the training room floor.
He was pursued by a woman in a black armored uniform and a three-cornered hat. She was the woman named Diana from German UCAT.
Today was the first time Shinjou had seen her.
Just as Shinjou had finished changing in the women’s locker room, the woman had surprised her by suddenly entering.
…She has a really nice figure.
Shinjou had immediately continued on into the training room, so she had not spoken with the woman as she changed.
However, the nod the woman had given in lieu of a greeting had seemed nice enough.
Shinjou did not think the woman was an evil person. But perhaps that was due to her naiveté.
At any rate, the woman was definitely giving Sayama trouble.
She moved by walking and her weapon was a broom.
Diana would walk up and try to sweep Sayama’s feet out from under him with the broom.
That was all she did. She swept the broom with a wide motion and her walking pace was relaxed. She was not using any kind of spell.
“Sayama-kun! In front of you! She’s coming!”
Diana approached from directly in front of Sayama, but he did nothing despite wielding a sword.
Once again, he only took action a moment after she cried out.
His eyes suddenly focused on Diana who stood directly in front of him.
Diana tilted her head.
“What is it?”
Sayama’s eyebrows rose slightly and he leaped to the left.
An instant later, Diana swept her broom along the spot he had been in a moment before.
Shinjou heard the bamboo brush scrape cross the floor.
Kazami stood to Shinjou’s left and she finally spoke.
“Kaku was taken out by that broom. She knocked someone as big as him flying with one sweep of a broom. Who is she?”
Sibyl, who stood to Kazami’s left, tilted her head.
“That woman came from the locker room Shinjou-san always uses, did she not? In that case, I assume she is close to either Ooshiro-sama or Itaru-sama.”
“Probably,” said Kazami as she folded her arms and looked back across the room.
Shinjou followed Kazami’s gaze and saw Diana walking toward Sayama once more.
Kazami clicked her tongue at the scene.
“Why can’t Sayama do anything?”
“Hmm… Do you think she’s using some kind of ability? Like some kind of martial arts.”
“You mean martial arts instead of magic?”
“Yes. I don’t know how to say it exactly, but she isn’t using any spells or concepts. In that case, I think she has to be using some kind of deceptive martial art.”
As far as Shinjou could see, Diana was walking normally.
However, Sayama would lose sight of her.
“And he notices her again when she stops.”
Exactly that happened and Sayama back stepped away.
As she watched that scene play out again and again, Shinjou recalled what she had just said.
Diana would stop just before Sayama noticed her.
…It looks like Sayama-kun is noticing Diana-san and then moving out of the way, but what if that isn’t what’s happening?
“Is Diana-san stopping to purposefully let him notice her?”
“If so, she’s quite the odd person. She’s waiting for Sayama to give up.”
Hearing Kazami’s comment, Shinjou could not help but shout out.
“Stick with it, Sayama-kun!”
As if in response, Sayama leaped toward her.
From a distance of approximately five meters, Sayama called out to Shinjou.
Shinjou did not know how to respond when he suddenly called her name.
“Shinjou-kun,” he called again.
“Eh? Wh-what is it?”
“It seems I am a bit confused right now. I could use some help calming down, so-…”
“No repeating a joke by telling me to stick out my butt, okay?”
“Wh-why are you lost in thought now?”
She is a surprisingly strict person, decided Sayama. Anyway…
“Shinjou-kun, let us talk about this battle. You called out to me to tell me Diana is approaching, did you not?”
“Yes. …It didn’t look like you could see her.”
“I could not see her.”
“Eh?” said Shinjou. “H-hey, Sayama-kun, what do you mean? Has the twisted wiring of your brain finally affected your vision too?”
“I see we have much to discuss after this is over, but I will overlook it for now. …So you are saying you could see her, Shinjou-kun?”
“Y-yes. Kazami-san and Sibyl-san could as well.”
“I see,” said Sayama with a nod.
He understood something now.
The technique Diana was using was the same one Tsukuyomi had used.
He still did not know what it was, but he had begun to analyze it.
“The effects are limited to me, so she is not actually hiding somewhere. Does that mean she is preventing my senses from detecting her?”
“Kazami, one quick question. How did Izumo lose?”
“Well… Um, he turned his right side toward her and…”
“And he attacked straight ahead the instant she began to move?”
“Yes, but she easily evaded and…well, you saw what happened.”
“I see,” said Sayama with another nod.
Shinjou then asked a question from behind him.
“Is there anything you can do, Sayama-kun? You don’t see her when she approaches, right?”
“It is not that I am not seeing her. I think I am being made so I cannot see her.”
He sent a self-deprecating smile toward the floor and thought.
He still did not know on what principle this technique functioned. However…
“There is still a way of defeating an unseen enemy,” said Sayama.
He held his Cowling Sword to the right with his left hand.
He lowered the tip in an iai stance.
He faced forward at Diana’s smile ten meters away.
She had said she had something to teach him.
Was that this technique?
…Or is there still something more?
Shinjou saw the atmosphere around Sayama change.
His back tensed a bit as he focused.
She did not feel comfortable speaking to him now because the slightest stimulus would cause him to move. However, she heard Kazami speak quietly next to her.
“This is bad. This is the same as when Kaku was defeated. The only difference is his stance.”
“Wh-what do you mean?”
“Kaku stopped moving and took an offensive stance, remember? Do you know the way to attack something unseen?”
Shinjou thought, but a glance at Sayama and Diana told her she had no time.
So she said, “Sorry, but just tell me.”
“Sure. I’m betting Kaku’s idea was to attack his enemy when he lost sight of her.”
“So… When she disappeared, he knew she was coming in for the attack?”
“Testament,” replied Sibyl. “But look. Diana-sama disappears from Sayama-sama’s vision when she is approximately seven steps away from him.”
Shinjou mentally converted the distance of seven steps and her expression stiffened.
“Do you get it now, Shinjou? Seven steps is about four meters. At that distance, she can easily circle around or stop where she is. But since her opponent can’t know what she will do, he can only attack blindly. That’s why Kaku swung V-Sw like a bat.”
Kazami glanced over at the right corner of the training room.
A giant blade was stabbed into the white wall.
It was V-Sw. Its console was still active and a short sentence was displayed on it.
“What a pain,” sighed Kazami. “He should have expanded it to its second form.”
What should I do? wondered Shinjou.
Like before, she could tell Sayama what Diana was doing. However…
…Sayama-kun said he had a way.
Shinjou stared at Sayama’s back.
He remained perfectly still and waited for his opponent.
And so Shinjou decided to remain silent and wait.
Just like Sayama, she waited for it all to begin.
Diana tilted her head when she saw Sayama’s stance.
His stance was different than Izumo’s when she had swept him away.
Izumo had held his Cowling Sword in both hands like a bat, but Sayama held his Cowling Sword at his right hip in his left hand.
That iai stance reminded Diana of a backhand in tennis.
He had obviously thought this through.
But, thought Diana. That will not work.
She had a reason to think this.
And if Sayama knew that reason, he would not have done nothing but run this entire time.
And so Diana thought, Your way of thinking about this is fundamentally flawed.
“I will not give you a warning.”
…The inexperienced show the most growth after defeat.
Izumo sat in front of the door behind her. He saw no value in his defeat and instead felt only frustration and confusion.
That was fine.
Those who did not glorify defeat and instead tried to oppose it were the most frightening when one saw them again.
Diana suddenly looked down at the chest of her own armored uniform.
“The insignia of German UCAT.”
The badge displayed Germany divided to the left and right with a cross binding the two halves.
She spoke as she looked down at that image.
“Sayama Mikoto-kun, you are facing a few different question right now, aren’t you? You want to know how you should face 2nd-Gear as the Leviathan Road’s negotiator. And…
“You want to know how to relate to someone named Shinjou.”
Sayama’s expression remained unchanged and he said nothing. However, that lack of reaction gave an eloquent answer.
Diana took a breath and spoke.
“I will now bring defeat to you.”
Sayama’s response was a simple one.
“That is impossible,” he declared.
“Heh heh. That sounds promising. Will you still say that if I knock you around a bit?”
“I have been knocked around countless times by my grandfather and others in the past,” he said expressionlessly. “And on the psychological side, nothing pains me more than the past. …That is why I will never admit defeat even if I die. As long as you allow me the qualifier of ‘eventually’ I can confidently declare my victory.”
A slight smile appeared on Diana’s lips. This smile came from her heart.
“Then instead of giving you defeat, I will leave it with you for the moment. Is that good enough?”
“Yes. In that case, I suppose I should say Testament. Do I need to pay it back with interest?”
“Testament. But please send that payment to your enemies. And while I leave this defeat with you, please think about why this happened. If you do, I think you will come to understand something interesting.”
“Something interesting? Is this related to my questions concerning 2nd-Gear and…Shinjou-kun?”
“Searching for those answers is your role. And this is my test.” She nodded. “Team Leviathan is too inexperienced to see through my technique, but you may show some promise. …I will be testing you on that now.”
Her smile deepened and she deemed it an excellent smile.
Everything that produced a smile would result in a cheerful conclusion.
As she thought on that, Diana held her broom forward.
“Questions. They form tests, doubts, riddles, truth seeking, searches, and definite displays of resistance.”
She walked forward.
“Think and ask questions. Send a question mark to yourself so that you can fight back.”
As she spoke, Diana continued toward Sayama.
Sayama watched the witch approach.
With her current gait, she was twelve steps away.
A footstep quickly reduced that to eleven. A heel cut it down to ten.
Once he counted down through nine, eight, and seven, she would be in her territory.
With a natural pace, she made that seventh step.
At the same moment, Diana disappeared from Sayama’s senses.
No, thought Sayama.
He was seeing Diana a bit to the right.
He was seeing her, but his mind could not sense her.
Her footsteps and presence were both there, but his senses would not accept it.
…What is this?
His perception was out of sync with his senses. With a smile, Diana approached to a distance of six steps.
Sayama felt a chill.
This was when he had made his back steps previously.
Diana had stopped here and his perception of her had returned.
But she did not stop this time.
She continued on.
For an instant, he was not sure if he should evade or not.
This urge to evade was what Izumo had transformed into an attack earlier.
Sayama felt it was commendable that Izumo had been able to resist evading.
But Izumo’s attack had been evaded and he had been blown away.
Seven steps or about four meters was far enough to evade almost any close quarters attack.
Faced with that fact, Sayama knew he had to grasp Diana’s location directly in front of him.
While wondering what he should do, Sayama had found a certain method.
Shinjou saw Sayama suddenly step forward toward Diana.
An “ah” escaped her lips.
She realized what Sayama was doing.
“He’s going to fight even though he can’t see her.”
Just because he could not see her did not mean she had disappeared.
She was there.
If his opponent would circle around outside his attack range, he just had to fill that gap himself.
That was the method Sayama chose and he continued to move.
As Sayama stepped forward, he held his right hand out ahead of him.
Diana had been walking straight toward him, but his outstretched hand stopped her.
No longer able to walk forward, Diana chose to evade. Her body moved to the side as she began to step out of the way.
At the same time, Sayama’s Cowling Sword shot out in his left hand. It formed a white arc from his right hip to directly in front of him.
Even if he could not see his opponent, he could guide her with a few different movements.
If he stopped her from moving forward, she would definitely move either left or right.
And a sword swung from the right hip would extend the farthest to the left. In that case...
…She’ll evade to the right!
Diana circled outside the range of the sword and to Sayama’s right.
The witch calmly evaded the blade.
However, Shinjou saw another smile. This smile was on Sayama’s lips.
Shinjou could guess why he had that smile. Sayama’s primary weapon was not his sword.
His right leg shot toward Diana in a high speed kick.
He put his hips behind this kick in a way only one trained in hand-to-hand fighting could.
It all happened in an instant.
The sharp trajectory of his leg struck the witch and a sound of impact rang out.
Sayama felt the blow in his leg. However…
“It was not a direct hit!”
“No, it was not. You think too much of yourself, but you did well for someone at your level.”
He could see Diana.
The black witch showed no sign of pain and no sign of having taken a blow.
He noticed his leg had not struck her.
She was holding her broom in front of her in her left hand. His leg had struck the broom’s handle.
She had not taken any kind of stance. She had simply held the broom forward. It was almost as if…
…It looks like my leg struck the broom she had held out in advance.
“I knew what you were doing,” she said.
“Sorry. I could have knocked you away before you even attacked, but you would not have accepted that result. I needed to show you that your chosen method would not work.”
Diana went on to describe Sayama’s strategy.
“You chose to forestall my movement and lead me as you saw fit, didn’t you? But that does not work against someone who knows how you think.”
Diana drew back the broom and Sayama lowered his leg.
They both took a breath, and…
Sayama suddenly threw a left kick.
It was fast and he had chosen a moment when her guard was down.
Sayama’s kick was blocked by the handle of Diana’s broom as if that was the natural result.
Sayama frowned and Diana smiled.
“Do you understand now?”
He did. At some point, her broom had moved from her left hand to her right hand.
Just like her walking, he had been unable to perceive that movement of the broom.
What was happening?
The one thing he understood was that he did not understand.
“If you are faced with an enemy who can do this, you and those behind you are done for,” said Diana.
Sayama listened to her and uttered a grinding question through his clenched back teeth.
“Why can I not see you even though I am seeing you?” he asked as if throwing away the breath.
Diana raised her head. Her eyebrows returned to normal and strength left her expression as she showed a true smile.
“That contradictory question is a very Japanese. I believe a man in Japanese mythology named Yamato Takeru used a method like this to defeat an opponent. He kept his opponent from suspecting anything, approached, and attacked.”
Sayama recalled what Shinjou Setsu had told him afterschool.
…What if I was Yamato Takeru?
He had thought that meant Shinjou Setsu had some lie.
And he had given a certain response to those words.
He had made a certain promise to Shinjou Setsu.
…When Shinjou-kun gets serious and tries to tell me something, I will face him.
He focused on the idea of “facing” him.
Sayama realized a new meaning for that word.
He realized a new way of thinking about his promise with Shinjou, his training with Diana, 2nd-Gear’s acclimation to Low-Gear, and how he should carry out the Leviathan Road.
It was all the same.
If he did not properly face those things, he would lose something.
And so Sayama nodded.
He opened his mouth and rephrased his previous question into a new question.
“Why am I not seeing you even though I should be seeing you?”
That question would allow him to face his opponent’s true form. His question was based in conviction.
Naturally, Diana had no way of reading his thoughts.
But even so, she nodded in response.
“Testament. Think on this. Face everything that stands before you so that you do not lose sight of them. …Struggling against that sort of question is a good deed for you and your comrades.”
He heard her speak.
And as soon as he realized that, Sayama saw something white.
It was the ceiling.
He did not even know when he had been knocked into the air.
Is even that a question I must ask? thought Sayama.
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