PuiPui:Volume1 Chapter5

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Chapter 5: Majnun of Lunacy[edit]

Against the dark night sky, the pale full moon shone clearly.

It was eleven o’clock…still one hour before the designated time. In the dead of night, the school grounds were gravely silent. With all the lights out, it was absolutely dark.

"How strange."

It was the first thing out of Jin’s mouth as he whispered, looking at the school.

Sierra had gone home once, then some time later, returned again. If something should happen, the fluttery dress would have been a problem, so she had changed into leggings that were easier to move around in. Jin was also wearing street clothes. For fear of ghosts, Sierra was clinging to Jin’s back.

He was a bit troubled as he could feel her slender body against his back, but if he were to point it out, he could just see her saying, "How can you think about such things now?! You lech! Pervert! Commoner!" Actually, he felt like he could practically hear her voice. However, he kept silently telling himself to ignore it.

Still clinging to him, Sierra asked.

"What’s strange?"

"Even if it’s the middle of the night, there should at least be guards patrolling the halls. And you should be able to see the beams from their flashlights through the windows, but…"

When he placed a hand against the bars of the school gate, it opened easily. Surprised, Jin retracted his hand.

"It’s open."

"Because someone’s expecting us?"

With a gulp, Sierra swallowed. While remaining wary, Jin entered through the school gates. Sierra held onto his hand and timidly followed along behind him. As expected, it made it hard for him to walk, and Jin told her as much.

"Hey, don’t cling to my arm."

"I-I’m not clinging!"

"Well then, you’re curling your fingers and holding on tight, right? I can't walk like this, so let go."

Jin tried to shake Sierra loose from his arm, but refusing to let him, she gripped his arm like a koala. Sierra’s slender yet soft body was pressing against Jin’s stiff arm. It was making his heart race.

"Sorry, but all I’m doing is holding onto you!"

"Ah, geez, it’s really hard to move!"

As the two argued back and forth, the gate closed with a bang behind them. Startled, they turned around; however, they found no one there. They tried pushing the gate open, but it wouldn’t budge.

"…I figured something like this might happen, but it seems like we’ve been trapped."

They heard a deep laugh coming from somewhere. Frightened, Sierra clung even closer to Jin. With the clearly shining moon at his back…Atop the school roof, a human figure could be seen. Long hair fluttering in the wind, the long slender figure was standing motionless. It was Konoe Ukyou. Jin squinted his eyes in disbelief.

"The dorm head…What is he doing?"

Actually, he hadn’t been present during dinner. The staff residents, Yuuya, and a number of others hadn’t returned even though it was past curfew, Jin remembered. Uykou was still dressed in his uniform.

"Just as I surmised. Always leaving things to the servants, you’re a girl who can’t do anything alone…I just knew you wouldn’t come alone."

As he spoke clearly from afar, he took the magic lamp and held it up high.

"Ah, the lamp! Then, you’re the one who called me earlier!"

From behind Jin’s back, Sierra pointed at Ukyou atop the roof.

"You, I’ve forgotten your name…but, I’m sure you’re the student president, I think! Are you saying it’s okay for the student president to go around stealing things?!"

"Dorm head, what’s the meaning of this?!"

Jin also spoke fervently. Ukyou just smiled coolly.

"By midnight, come up here. If you can make it, I’ll return the lamp, but if you don’t…"

"You’ll make me your slave, you mean, right?"

Sierra scowled up at Ukyou with a determined look in her eyes.

"No way! Just you wait, we’re going to drag you to the edge and drop you off the side of the roof!"

"You’re suddenly energetic, huh. Are you over your fear of ghosts as well?"

While hiding behind his back, Sierra declared in response to Jin's interjection,

"Of course you’re the one going, commoner."

"I’m seriously shocked by this surprising turn of events. You still plan on making other people do things for you?"

"Naturally. Right now, I haven’t been called out from the lamp, so it’s not like I’m your servant or anything. Actually, I’m the kind to give orders, you’re the type to follow them."

"You know, I get the feeling you sidestepped the question rather cleverly just now."

"Whatever, just go!"

"You dare to ignore me? Looks like you two've got some guts."

Ukyou suddenly snapped his fingers. Just then, a mob of more than a hundred students shuffled out onto the school grounds. High schoolers and middle schoolers were present, boys and girls alike, although most of them were boys from the high school division. Taken aback, Jin and Sierra looked at the mass of people nervously.

"W-What’s with them?"

The guys from the football club, wearing their armor-like protective gear, were standing like a wall in front of them. The eyes staring out from within the helmets were completely unfocused.

"Si…Sierra…Zadou…So cute…So…cute…"

Shuffling like zombies, they had their arms out in front of them and were heading towards Sierra. Sierra was creeped out and clung tight to Jin’s back. Regardless of how selfish Sierra was, as a man, there was only one acceptable course of action he could take. A bit reluctantly, Jin spread out his arms and stood to meet them. As Sierra watched him, she started to blush.

"Ghrahh~!"

Suddenly, those giants roared like wild-beasts and tackled Jin. Hit by those nearly two meter tall brutes, the relatively average Jin was blown away.

"Wahh~!"

"Kyaah~! Commoner!"

Crying out as she watched Jin get tossed aside, Sierra tried to rush to his side. However, the guys came from behind and caught Sierra by the arm then started fighting over her. Sierra angrily fought back, but her opponents were too much. With her slender feminine arms, no matter how much she might struggle, she simply couldn't break free.

"What is wrong with you all?! Let me go, you insolent wretches!"

"Zadou...Cute. Zadou...Love!"

The guys swarmed all over her.

"Kyaahh~!"

Sierra's cry was swallowed up as they piled on top of her. It looked as if they were in the middle of a scrum. Holding his head in pain after that terrible blow, Jin picked himself up and desperately rushed over.

"Hey, what do you think you’re doing?! Get away from Zadou!"

He could hear Sierra pitiful cry from beneath all the bodies. In order to save her, Jin pushed and pulled as hard as he could to remove the giants. However, the averagely built Jin stood no chance against such large guys. The moon at his back, Ukyou laughed.

"It’s futile. Those guys don’t have a shred of sanity left."

"What do you mean?"

"They’ve been driven mad by the moon. Their restraints have been lifted, and their true desires manifest. Discretion, sympathy, kindness, all that has vanished...Now, only such human instincts as jealousy and hatred drive them. Those boys longed for that girl, but tied down by the fetters of reason, they never allowed themselves to act upon their feelings. I have cut them free from their chains."

In addition to the moon, Ukyou's body itself gave off a bluish white light. Jin scowled.

"Did you use hypnotism on them or something?"

"It's the light of the moon...I already told you that, didn’t I?"

"I didn’t understand a single word out of your mouth!"

Jin took hold of a tonbo meant for preparing soil that had been left in a corner of the grounds and started whacking the pile of guys on their backs, but it had absolutely no effect on them.

"Like I said, it's futile. Those guys are madly in love with Sierra Zadou. Their stifled hearts have been set free...They won't be stopped by something so minor."

"Why would you want to do this to Zadou? You like Zadou too, right? So are you just going to let those guys have her?"

"Like…you say? Hmph, I may certainly seem the same as those other guys, but…Hmph."

Ukyou laughed derisively. Unable to understand what he was saying, Jin was confused. Sierra's cries were growing fainter. What was happening to her under there...Jin couldn't help but worry, sticking the handle of the tonbo into a gap between the giants' backs and attempting to pry them off. However, before he'd even made an inch of headway, the handle broke. He couldn't even hear Sierra's cry anymore. The blood drained from his face. Things were looking beyond bad...



Just then, there came a sharp yell.

"Close your eyes! Here I go~~!"

Before he could determine what it was, Jin was compelled by the power of the voice and closed his eyes instinctively.

"Bsh~~!"

There was a violent spraying noise.

"Gwahh~!"

Shrieking howlishly, the beasts who had been covering Sierra rolled about clutching their faces. Sierra emerged from within the pile. Curled up on the ground, she was hacking and coughing. Jin quickly took her into his arms.

"Are you alright, Zadou?! Did they do anything to you?!"

"...Reeks..."

"Eh?"

"It reeks of sweat! When was the last time they even washed those uniforms?! I thought I was going to suffocate!"

"...That's all you're complaining about, the smell?"

Jin was dumbfounded but relieved. It seemed that with all the members fighting for the right to go first, it became a real scrum with each member pushing and shoving the other, and so not a single one of them had been able to secure the prized Sierra for himself. Full of anger, Sierra shouted at Jin.

"Saying "that's all", what's with that attitude! You should hurry up and save me sooner."

"Acting like that after being rescued, you must be quite the cheeky one, huh."

The one saying that as she approached was none other than Alf. Carrying fire extinguishers under her arm, with even more of them slung behind her back, she even had some smaller ones holstered to her belt. Full of surprise, Sierra stared at her with huge eyes.

"Y-You're...that girl from the curry shop!"

Puipui vol01 203.jpg

"Nowadays, you don't call it that! It's a Persian restaurant, not a curry shop!"

Alf snapped sharply at Sierra. With extinguisher chemicals in their eyes, the big guys were on the ground, writhing about in horrendous pain. Alf pointed at the school and vigorously declared,

"Come on, we're going! We're taking back that lamp!"

"Yeah! Good luck, commoner!"

As if she weren't involved, Sierra ordered like always, pushing Jin roughly from behind. Unsteady on his feet, Jin felt as if he might fall. Alf grabbed Sierra firmly by the arm.

"You're coming too. You have to help your Master, you know!"

"Wha-? I-It's not like this commoner is my Master or anything!"

Sierra retorted on reflex. With a hint of suspicion, Jin asked Alf,

"How do you know about that? It couldn't be that you're also..."

"Don't be ridiculous. If I was your enemy, do you really think I would have gone to all this trouble to save you?"

Alf smacked him on the head. It seemed that even when she wasn't delivering orders, her manual dexterity was as quick as ever. On top of the roof, Ukyou's face scrunched up spitefully.

"Guh...that girl is...!"

Soon, even more students started shuffling out from the school building. Amongst them was Himuro Keita.

"That guy, he's the first year who didn't give me a riceball before. So does that mean all the guys who didn't come back were over here...Then, maybe Yuuya is here as well?"

Similar to those giants from earlier, every one of these students also had Sierra in their sights.

"Ooh...Za-Zadou...Super cute..."

"These guys too, huh! What's going on here?!"

"It's the Daemon of Adultery, Majnun."

Licking her lips, Alf pulled out a fresh extinguisher. Adultery, put in relatively hard-and-fast terms, meant a man and a woman amorally forming an illicit relationship. Sierra shivered and asked for clarification.

"What...what is a 'Daemon of Adultery'?"

"Actually, I was sure that Jin was Majnun at first because of the way he smelled, so I kind of followed him. Things are different if he's a 'key' though."

"What do you mean by 'key'?"

"The 'key' to sealing and releasing the Genie of the Lamp."

Just then, the students rushed them, so cutting the conversation short, Alf once again fired the extinguisher.

"Save the questions for later, let's go get back the lamp now!"

Alf led the way, taking the other two into the building. Looking down upon them from the rooftop, Ukyou slowly drew the sword in his hand from its scabbard. He was starting to pale.

"The Shamshir girl couldn't possibly be thinking of forming a union...Well, I still have minions left within the school. And even in the one in a million case that they somehow make it up here, this man should not lose. Even if that man gets his hands on the Shamshir...he still lacks the necessary power."

The silver blade glinted coldly in the moonlight.


Jin and the others headed up towards the rooftop. The school interior was swarming with students as well, and more continued to come down the stairs one after another. The three continued to take them down one at a time with the fire extinguishers.

"I don't get any of this!"

Panting because the extinguisher was heavy, Sierra took the time to shout in annoyance.

"What the heck happened to all these guys? And you, just who in the world are you?"

"Just as you've been born into the family of Genies of the Lamp, I'm part of the family of Genies of the Shamshir."

"Shamshir?"

Suddenly, Yuuya climbed over the stair railing and jumped down, grabbing onto Alf's back.

"Wah!"

Alf kept upright by quickly clutched onto the railing, but because Yuuya had clung to her, her sling holster had broken and a fire extinguisher fell down the stairs.

"Yuuya! I knew it, you're being controlled too!"

"Zadou...Cute...Want kiss...!"

Yuuya leapt at Sierra and knocked her down. Embracing Sierra's slender body against her will, he brought his lips closer and closer. Flailing away at Yuuya's head, Sierra tried to escape as if her life depended on it.

"Stop it, you insolent wretch!"

"Zadou...Fluffy...Soft...So nice~..."

Yuuya was rubbing his face into Sierra's chest. Blushing furiously, she tried to force Yuuya away, grabbing his head with both hands and pushing with all her might. However, as frail as she was, she was no match for him.

"Noo~, pervert! Someone save me!"

"Yuuya, come to your senses!"

Taking a hold of Yuuya's shoulder, Jin pulled him off of Sierra. Compared to the army of giants from earlier, Yuuya who had probably never lifted anything heavier than a guitar was almost too easy an opponent. When Jin, who was used to mountain climbing and digging with a shovel when excavating ruins and the like, exerted his full strength; Yuuya was sent flying and his back hit the wall.

"You okay, Zadou?"

Jin stood to protect Sierra behind him. After being attacked by the group of guys and Yuuya, Sierra's nicely combed hair had become tangled while her pretty clothes were speckled with dirt and even torn here and there. On the verge of tears, she was gripping her shirt that had the buttons ripped off, making sure to keep herself covered.

Though he had been momentarily stunned by the crash with the wall, Yuuya's face quickly twisted with hatred as he laid eyes upon Jin, baring his fangs and nails as he switched targets and moved in to attack Jin.

"Uwah~!"

Jin was knocked down. Of course, the intention this time was not to kiss the target but to slice open Jin's windpipe with his sharp nails. Jin grabbed both of Yuuya's wrists and desperately tried to stop him.

"Yu...Yuuya? Why would you attack me? Do you resent me that much for littering our dorm room with all those books?"

"It's Majnun's doing. The love this boy has for the girl has turned into jealousy."

Hearing what Alf said, Jin stared at Yuuya in disbelief. His eyes were glowing red."

"You mean he's jealous enough to want to kill me?

"It's because Majnun takes the darker aspects of the human heart and amplifies them several-fold, you see,"

Alf said before grabbing Yuuya's hair from behind and yanking him off of Jin.

"Ugah?!"

While still on the ground, Jin stomped Yuuya in the stomach without giving him any time to defend himself.

"Sorry, Yuuya!"

"Gyah!"

Yuuya gave a beast-like cry as he flew backwards and fell down the stairs. Alf smirked seemingly satisfied while Sierra stared wide-eyed at Jin.

"Y-You're rather strong...for a commoner at least."

"As long as it's one-on-one, I guess."

Jin looked down at Yuuya who lay prone at the base of the stairs.

"Hey Alf, will these guys remember what happened while they were being controlled?"

"No, Majnun's method of controlling people pushes their minds to the depths of their psyche, so it's similar to if the person was simply sleeping. Why do you ask?"

"I'm glad. I think I might've kicked him a bit too hard, so it could've put a strain on our friendship."

"Taking advantage of the desires that are dormant within people's hearts, Majnun manipulates them in a state of madness. Instilling jealousy into those who are in love and the urge to loot into those who are poor, he creates criminals and starts wars. If he isn't stopped, this town will fall into anarchy."

Alf glared up at the top of the stairs. From the base of the stairs, students were noisily making their way up. The sound suddenly reminded Jin of their situation.

"They're coming, so let's go up!"

"W-Wait. I-I always come to school by car, so my endurance is kind of..."

After rushing up the stairs, Sierra's legs were quickly becoming stiff.

"It's just a bit further, hang in there!"

Jin grabbed Sierra's arm and pulled at her encouragingly as he started rushing up the stairs. While blushing at the strength of Jin's hands as he tugged her forcefully along, Sierra nevertheless got angry.

"D-Don't touch me so familiarly, commoner!"

"This isn't the time to be saying such things!"

Acting as the rear guard, Alf continued to blast the oncoming students with extinguisher fluid, keeping them at bay as she continued climbing.

The school had three floors. Nearly up three floors, Jin and the others were only a few steps away from the roof...when the staff residents who had been waiting for them descended upon them.

"Gaahh!"

They were wielding shinai. Alf took the mini extinguisher from her belt and sprayed them in the face.

"Damn, this is the last of the extinguishers."

The staff residents were taken care of, but the students who had recovered were coming up the stairs behind them.

"Let's just hurry and go up!"

Jin rushed up the stairs towards the roof. Sierra and Alf followed after him.





On the rooftop, Ukyou sensed their approach and calmly turned around. With a thud, the iron door that led from the stairs to the roof slammed open.

"...So you made it."

Ukyou gave a devilish smile and licked his blade. Sierra was hiding behind Jin's back, while Alf closed the door and bolted it shut. The students chasing them beat on the door, the sound echoing eerily.

"Dorm head! Just what in the world are you up to?"

Jin yelled sharply, but then Alf interjected.

"He's not the dorm head. He's Majnun."

"You said the same thing earlier, but what does that mean?"

"A Daemon. From the Ark of the Covenant...He's one of of the Daemons of the Ark.

"You know, you're as confusing as a computer manual."

"Basically, this guy has been possessed and lost his sanity."

"So even a sensible guy like the dorm head can be possessed so easily?"

Hearing that, Ukyou...no, the Daemon possessing Ukyou laughed scoffingly.

"This man, sensible? Rather than sensible, I'd say he's a lump of vanity, cowardice, and inferiority complexes. He's madly in love with that girl, yet he valued his pride and was too afraid of becoming a laughingstock if rejected to say it clearly, but on the other hand, while other men had given up on her as a prize beyond their reach and never confessed, he had the confidence that he would be accepted by her...He gave her a love letter, but it was thrown away without even being read."

"How cruel. I can't believe how self-important you are, Zadou."

"I guess you reap what you sow, huh."

Being accused simultaneously by both Jin and Alf, Sierra hastily objected,

"I wouldn't do that sort of thing! I'm quite sure that I maintain proper appearances, after all!"

"What a frank declaration."

Jin remembered back to the first day when Sierra had come to his room that Yuuya had said "The dorm head's been in a bad mood recently, so you better prepare for the worst". Ukyou must have been in a bad mood because he had been rejected by Sierra.

But...Sierra, who really did maintain her appearance to others, wouldn't have just gone and thrown away a love letter, Jin thought. So, couldn't it be Ukyou made a mistake and was bearing this grudge for no reason? Just to make sure, Jin asked the Daemon.

"When you say love letter, exactly what did he give her?"

"Following old customs of the nobles from the Heian period, he wrote a poem, and together with a tree branch, he placed it into her shoe rack. It was a tachibana branch, to make it easy to understand who it was from based on the scent."

"A tachibana branch?"

Hearing that, Sierra realized. A bit shocked, she covered her mouth.

"So then, the caterpillar that I thought was left by someone who hated me was actually...?"

"Ahh, I get it. Tachibana is a citrus plant after all, so there might have been a swallowtail larvae stuck to it, right?"

"No one would normally think that was a love letter! There's no helping that it was thrown away!"

"Yeah, really...it fits with his tastes, but I don't think such a thing would be generally well known."

"A man so madly in love such as this one would not pay attention to such things. Not to mention that to this day, he has never dated a woman and never had even much interest before."

Ukyou...or rather, Majnun who was inhabiting Ukyou pointed at himself and smiled coldly.

"With his pride crushed, his love turned to vengefulness and jealousy. Such weakness of the heart made it so very easy for me to invade."

"By pride...do you mean not reading his letter? But it's not like I actually rejected him or anything!"

"He was in love, but in the end, he lost his composure. He was convinced that his entire existence had been refuted, and so his mind was filled only with thoughts of how to make you acknowledge him. And eventually with thoughts of how to get the lamp, and thus obtain you as well."

"It's impossible to make someone return your love by force, you'd just be wasting your time. Besides, bought love is fake!"

As Sierra declared while pointing her finger accusingly, Jin muttered to her.

"Isn't that basically what I said to your father before?"

"S-Shut up! It's a common enough saying!"

"We're not talking about copyright infringement here, you know."

"He can no longer tell the difference between real love and false love...This is my Daemonic ability. Moonlight that drives the heart into lunacy, the power of Majnun."

"You're really the worst. So, that's how you Daemons of the Ark go about corrupting humans, huh."

Alf faced Ukyou and taunted him, gesturing with her index finger for him to come.

"Get out of that boy! I'm going to eat you!"

"Eat?...So then, were you really not trying to eat me before?"

"My family line treats Daemons as a primary form of sustenance. Similar to how you are raising the power of the Genie of the Lamp, I have to hunt and eat Deamons, not only to level up, but also to avoid starvation. This attribute is also passed on to the next generation, so rather than porridge, I've been weaned on some low level Daemons brought here by my parents."

"Exactly how...do you eat them?"

"Well, it's not with sugar and soy sauce, that's for sure. Why don't you try saying "Abracadabra"?"

Just then, Ukyou brandished his sword.

"As if I'd let you! Al-Kamar!"

The blade reflected the moonlight. A bluish white light ran along the sword's edge, then flying from the tip, it shot towards them like a bullet in the form of a spinning crescent.

"Look out!"

Jin and the others ducked behind the structure housing the staircase they had come up from earlier. Striking the door with a tumultuous crash, the bluish white crescent crashed into the iron door, bending it inward. The deflected blade slipped past the obstruction and ran into the concrete railing that surrounded the rooftop. The railing broke and fragments were sent flying.

"Kyahh!"

Sierra covered her head instinctively while Jin immediately moved to protect her, covering her back.

"Are you alright?"

"Y-Yeah..."

The determined look in Jin's eyes made Sierra's heart race. While peeking at Ukyou from the safety of the staircase housing, Alf spoke to Jin.

"Rather than do it himself, Majnun is a good-for-nothing Daemon who possesses people's hearts and makes them do the dirty work for him. He's scared of being eaten by me, so he'll probably avoid close-range combat. For now, just hurry up and say Abracadabra."

"I don't want to say any more dumb incantations like 'Chichinpuipui' or 'Abracadabra'!"

"How rude! Abracadabra is the name of one of the old gods of Mesopotamian society, and Chichinpuipui is derived from Chijinbuyuu. It's not like it's all just nonsense or something."

"Chijinbuyuu?"

"Wisdom, benevolence, might, and courage. The four traits valued in a ruler."

"The magic lamp is from the Middle East, isn't it? So why would it have a Japanese incantation?"

Sierra asked with a bit of doubt. Mindful of Ukyou's movements, Alf replied somewhat impatiently.

"Rather than Japanese, it's derived from Chinese characters. The Confucian Virtues of benevolence, justice, courtesy, and wisdom appear in the Analects of Confucius, you know? So well, Chijinbuyuu goes along the same lines. The magic lamp was in China, after all."

"Isn't it an Arabian story though?"

"Have you never read Arabian Nights? Aladdin's story takes place in China, and the magic lamp was buried in China too."

"I'm too influenced by the animated version, so I can only think of it as a Middle Eastern story."

"For three thousand years from the time of King Solomon, it was carried along the Silk Road until it reached China. In that time, the incantation also changed, going from Arabian to Chinese."

"I see...Then, from the time that Arabian Nights was written, it took another thousand years to reach Japan, right? Maybe the same holds true for Solomon's treasure as well?"

Jin murmured, then Alf nodded.

"It's likely. A thousand years ago, the treasure was brought to China...Also, the Clavicle of Solomon must have come with the lamp. The Clavicle of Solomon is necessary to seal the Daemons after all."

"Ahh, I get it. So there's a book for controlling Daemons?"

"That's not it. It's not a book, it's..."

Alf tried to say something, but just then, another flying crescent came at Jin and the others. The three of them cried out, clutching their heads and huddling down. As the crescent rapidly sliced into the wall, Alf yelled.

"He's just striking out blindly, but he'll hit us eventually! Hurry up and say the incantation!"

"At the very least, can't it be a somewhat cooler incantation..."

"Now's not the time to be complaining about that sort of thing, you cheeky commoner! I don't completely get it, but just do as she says, that's an order!"

The impatient Sierra grabbed him by the collar and shook him. Jin replied as his head practically rattled.

"J-Just why are you even giving orders anyway! Fine, whatever, Abracadabra!"

At his limit, Jin had shouted. Ukyou furrowed his brow.

"Damn...!"

As he watched Alf glow silver and shrink thinner and thinner, a silver sword appeared and dropped to the ground. Surprised, Jin peered about.

"A-Alf? Where'd you go?"

"You really are quite dense, aren't you? I'm right here!"

An echoing voice could be heard from the sword. Jin picked it up. The sword was light enough that he could even wield it with one hand. Unable to understand exactly what was going on, Jin was in a state of shock.

"Hey now, instead of spacing out, fight! I'll be guiding you, so don't worry!"

The sword spoke with Alf's voice. Just then, the shadow cast upon the rooftop floor by the protruding stairwell structure was joined by another shadow. Looking up, Jin saw Ukyou standing on top of it. With sword in hand, Ukyou leapt at him.

"Tch, so you've gotten the Shamshir now, have you! But, as you are now, I'm not afraid!"

Jin swiftly parried the sword with the shamshir. Both the Japanese katana and the shamshir had curved blades and were the type used for downward slashes. The sword spoke to Jin.

"Once I'm in this form, I can't turn back until I eat an Ark Daemon. If you're defeated, 'Alf' will be gone forever."

"T-That's quite a load of responsibility! In that case, you really should have chosen a kendo-club member or something."

"An ordinary human can't hope to defeat an Ark Daemon, you know."

"But I am an ordinary human. I've only ever swung a blade in kendo class, and only ..."

"It'll be okay. I'm backing you up, so let's take him down."

"But still, the dorm head is no pushover!"

"I'll have you know, my intuition is very accurate."

"What do you mean 'intuition'?"

"I mean knowing the Clavicle of Solomon's whereabouts."

"I-Is now really the time to be talking about archaeology texts?!"

"Anyway, do your best. The Genie level of the sword will only go up if I eat Ark Daemons, you know."

"You're kind of like a parasite, aren't you?"

"You should think more before you say such things to a girl!"

Jin was somehow able to fend off Ukyou's pressing attacks. The sword was maneuvering Jin's body to fight for him, which is why he could afford to banter with her, but as the opponent was Ukyou, the captain of the kendo club, that the Daemon was possessing, there was still an overwhelming difference in their abilities. It took all he had just to defend himself from Ukyou's strikes, each parry sending sparks flying and a distinctly metallic ring. Sierra held her hands crossed over her heart, watching on with her heart aflutter.

"Do your best, commoner! Beat that guy black and blue!"

"Don't just say whatever, help me out here."

"You want me to wash something?"

"So useless!"

Despite his efforts, Jin was losing out to Ukyou's offensive and being pushed back. Ukyou smirked and prepared to swing his sword down heavily.

"As I thought, as inexperienced with the sword as you are right now, I have nothing to fear! Go ahead and die!"

"Gah...!"

Jin tried to intercept, but the sword had become extremely heavy and wouldn't budge. Considering it was the sentient sword that moved its owner to fight, would that mean if it succumbed to fear that it would lose its strength and become even worse than useless...Jin wondered, noticing the dual nature of the weapon for the first time.

"What the heck, Alf, you have to move! What are you doing?!"

Jin shouted out in desperation, but the sword remained absolutely silent.

"Die!"

Ukyou's sword descended upon him. An odd noise resounded in the moonlit night, the sound of the blade striking something solid. Blood splattered. Sierra stood in shock.

"N, no way...!"

Struck on the left side of his collar, Jin spouted blood and collapsed. From Sierra's perspective, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.

"Commoner!"

Sierra ran to Jin's side. As blood continued to flow freely from his wound, his face was extremely pale and he wasn't moving at all. Sierra shook him desperately and cried out.

"Commoner, wake up! It was your fault that the lamp was stolen, you know, so I won't forgive you if you just abandon your responsibility and die on me! I simply won't allow it!"

Sierra continued to shake him and even slapped him in the face a few times, but realizing that nothing would help, she leaned over him and cried out tearfully.

"It's all my fault! Because I'm the one who asked you to get back the lamp!"

"Kukuku...what an unworthy fellow."

Ukyou stood behind her. Her eyes filled with tears, Sierra turned to face him.

"You demon!"

"You're not incorrect in calling me that. I am an Ark Daemon after all."

Ukyou took out the Magic Lamp that he had tucked away earlier. Sierra sharply yelled.

"How did you even get your hands on the lamp?!"

"I caught scent of the lamp, so I had been searching that room for quite some time. The place was full of junk so I hadn't been able to find it, but it was easy once the place was cleaned out..."

"You were searching?"

"You saw me there, saying I was disgusting. That was quite rude."

After hearing that, Sierra was surprised.

"That spider, that was you?"

She felt a certain sense of calm. Despite the situation, instead of feeling afraid of the enemy who was standing nearby, knowing for certain that Jin hadn't just handed the lamp to someone else made her feel relieved.

"Huh, so I really should have killed you after all. Talking about useful insects, what nonsense. When it comes to exterminating bugs, I'd rather buy insecticide than rely on spiders. Really now, commoners are so stingy!"

"Looks like I win, Zadou Sierra. I have no use for you any longer. Why not become my slave for eternity...rather than that pitiful boy, wouldn't I be a better master?"

Ukyou was just about to rub the lamp. But then, like a spring, Sierra leapt at him and snatched back the lamp. Caught completely off guard by Sierra's sudden actions, Ukyou faltered for a moment. In that moment, Sierra took the lamp in both hands, slid head-first over to the collapsed Jin, and made him rub the lamp.

"Shi..."

Ukyou covered his face with his arm. A purple smoke erupted from the lamp and from within that haze, Sierra appeared dressed in her maid's uniform.

"You demon, it's a million years too early for you to even think of becoming my Master! I'll be the one to choose my own master!"

Sierra pulled out her spellbook from within her apron pocket. On the first page, the characters Jsj...or at least characters that looked something like that were written. Ukyou scowled and moved in to attack her.

"Change of plans, guess I'll have to kill you after all!"

"Now how do you read this again...umm..."

In her haste, she couldn't quite remember. She was slashed at with Ukyou's sword, but while crying out 'kyah!', she was able to use the magic lamp to deflect the strike. It clanged as it was hit.

"How impudent! This time I'll..."

Ukyou tried again, swinging once more. Just as the blade came within five centimeters of Sierra's head, the words suddenly clicked in her mind.

"Ah, I remember now...Lammul!"

After she uttered the phrase, a noisy billowing gust assaulted the rooftop. Sand carried by the wind was making a rough sound and wrapped about Ukyou. Startled by her own ability, Sierra stood in shock as her hair was fluttered about by the wind.

"A-Amazing...I was really able to use magic...!"

Unaware of what sort of effect the Lammul spell might have, she was a bit worried, but it seemed to have worked on him for the time being. Ukyou fell face-first where he stood, startling her.

"D-Did I kill him?"

Her heart racing, Sierra carefully approached him to check whether or not he was still alive.

"Ooh~"

"Ah, so he's just sleeping."

Sierra clutched her chest in relief. Lightly snoring, Ukyou seemed to be sleeping like a baby. Just then, there came a bluish white smoke from Ukyou's back.

"W-What is this?"

Startled, Sierra backed away. Drifting about the darkness, the bluish white smoke took shape, turning into what looked like a sea anemone about five meters in diameter with hundreds of tentacles and eyes. Feeling rather creeped out, Sierra had goosebumps all over.

"Is...Is this Majnun's true form?"

"You think you're so clever. As if you really could have figured that immobilizing the host would render me unable to fight."

It was an odd hoarse voice. In fact, Lammul was the only spell she knew and she didn't even know what sort of effect it would have, so it really was just coincidental that it worked, but deciding to bluff, Sierra shouted.

"T-That's right, I did! With my magic, I can beat someone like you in an instant!"

"I didn't think that you had progressed to such magical proficiency already. Well...Then I guess I'll eat you now."

Majnun laughed darkly, descending upon her slowly. Not expecting this turn of events, Sierra started backing away.

"E-Eat me...?"

"Though I avoided Suleiman's ring, I can't just abandon my comrades."

"Suleiman?"

"The king who was a magician, or perhaps I should say, the magician who became king."

"I don't get what you're saying at all! Why do all these hard to understand things keep happening one after another?! I wanted to be a normal girl, I didn't want any of this magic or anything...I don't even need money. I just wanted my mom and dad to stay together with me, that was all!"

But, without magic, there'd be no money, and without money her mother would file for divorce. Sierra was well aware that was the case, so much so that it pained her.

"Fuh...Shall I tell you as your parting gift to the Underworld?"

"Who you calling a maid?!"

Sierra yelled angrily. Majnun's many eyes blinked in surprise at her anger.

"...It seems this era is seeing an excess of comedians. Or maybe she's just an airhead?"

"W-What a rude monster!"

"Suleiman is the Arabic rendition of Solomon. Solomon's ring is capable of sealing us Ark Daemons into the Ark..."

"The Ark?"

"The lost Ark of the Covenant. When Moses led the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt, ten laws were engraved upon the stone tablets the prophet Moses received from God upon Mount Sinai on the peninsula of Sinai...The Ten Commandments."

Hearing about Moses, Sierra was reminded of what she heard yesterday from Jin behind the gym.

"The temple at the center of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel...David placed the sacred Ark that contained the Ten Commandments that was recovered from the Philistines within Jerusalem Temple, maintaining adherence to the laws. However, after the division of Israel, when the Babylonians destroyed the Jerusalem Temple that was rebuilt by the people of Judah, the Daemons sealed within the Ark escaped."

Majnun continued while his tentacles waved. Sierra was standing in a daze. Seeing her stand unable to move even the slightest, Majnun narrowed his eyes and laughed.

"Fufufu...Too scared to even reply, are you? We Daemons are spirits lurking within the human heart, spirits baser than reason. Acting based on instinct would often lead to wicked intentions that exceeded the rules of society...Because of that, God sealed us Daemons into the Ark with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. Upon the Ark's destruction, we were freed...Ten forbidden wrong acts were set loose. Denying the one true God, worshiping false idols, taking the Lord's name in vain, ignoring the Sabbath, forsaking one's mother and father, committing murder, stealing, bearing false witness, committing extortion, and then there's myself, Majnun, representing adultery...It became a paradise where we could spread our control across all the land!"

"Zzz."

"Zzz?"

Majnun looked more closely at Sierra. Her eyes were closed, nodding off.

"Are you sleeping?!"

"No way. I'm really listening to your wonderful story, but it seems like I've become too absorbed, teacher."

"Teacher?"

"Ooh."

"First off, don't reply automatically as if you're in class, even pretending as if you were listening like a proper student! You're not in class, wake up!"

Majnun waved his tentacles. The ends that were like sucker pads clung to Sierra's head, shaking her. Sierra opened her eyes, startled awake.

"Huh, I guess I just dozed off."

"You have some nerve. And here I was giving you such a nice parting gift..."

Just then, Sierra heard a familiar voice come from somewhere.

"Well then, I'll take your offer, so tell me where you guys are from, will you? And where's the Ark?"

Confused, Sierra started looking about. Irritated, Majnun's many eyelids were twitching.

"Now see here. What's with you asking someone something and then suddenly turning your back on them, just how were you raised?"

"Wait, that wasn't me..."

"Now that I've decided to kill you instead of capturing you, I did want to give you that parting gift, but unfortunately, I don't know their locations either. If I had, this would have been much easier...But it'll just have to be like this."

Majnun's countless eyes glowed bluish white. A high-pitched sound started to echo within Sierra's mind. Her head felt like it was going to split in half.

"Kyahhh~!!"

Wriggling like a garden hose, its tentacles wrapped around Sierra's body. The tentacles creeped over her still undeveloped chest, groped her hips, and firmly gripped her slender arms and fair legs. Trying to remove its grip around her neck, Sierra struggled, but she was slowly being strangled in an ever tightening grip. Desperately flailing just to breathe, she cried out falteringly.

"S...Stop, you monster!"

"Even now, you want to give orders? Seems you don't understand the predicament of your situation. I wonder if you'd shut up if I tore you limb from limb?"

Holding her by her wrists and ankles, it stretched her apart firmly. It was almost as if Sierra was being crucified. Her joints creaked, her limbs felt as if they really were going to be torn off. The fierce pain made Sierra raise her face to the sky and cry out in agony. Yet her pained cry could not be clearly voiced.

Just then, a silverish light cut through the darkness. With a heavy sound, a sword struck its target.

"Gryahh!"

Slashed rather deeply down the middle, Majnun let out a dreadful cry. Spewing violet blood, its tentacles writhed about in pain. The tentacles holding Sierra's head removed their grasp, and there stood the person holding the sword.

That is, Jin was standing there. With a diagonal tear from earlier, his clothes were in poor shape. He was even still bleeding, but he at least seemed to be doing okay.

"Commoner!"

Her eyes shining brightly, Sierra rushed to Jin's side and in sheer delight, hugged him from behind. Unused to such open displays of glee and tenderness, Jin was taken somewhat aback.

"So you were still alive, huh! How is your wound so much better?"

"Sorry I'm late in rescuing you, but Alf stopped and...You didn't crack your skull or something, did you?"

Jin touched her head. Blushing bright red, Sierra stepped back hastily.

"D, d, don't touch me so familiarly, you commoner!"

"Good. If you can show that sort of irritation, then it seems like you're fine."

"I don't want you to misunderstand, so I'll tell you now, I wasn't worried about you even a bit, okay! Not at all!"

Still blushing, Sierra yelled almost desperately. With a dispirited look, Jin sighed.

"Since it doesn't know where the Ark is, we have no more use for it. Okay Jin, you can do it now!"

Alf declared mercilessly. Just then Sierra realized that it was Alf who had pretended to be her earlier.

"You...Alf or whatever your name was! Were you planning on just watching me die just so you could find out where the Ark was?"

"I was just adding a bit of spice into the everyday tedium of a pampered princess."

"Just what about getting my head blown off counts as 'a bit of spice', huh?!"

"So you were only...pretending that you were dead!"

Majnun managed to yell despite his wound.

"Hey, I'm the one who let you go thinking you were a beneficial creature, and this is how you repay the favor? I guess even amongst spiders there are those like the redback variety that you just have to kill!"

Jin brought his clenched right hand towards Majnun. On his middle finger, a golden ring engraved with the star of David was glowing. As fluid continued to drip from its body, Majnun's hundreds of eyes opened wide. All its eyes swelled as if about to explode as it gazed at the dazzling light.

"But, but the Ring was just recently awakened, so there's no reason I should lose! With all the desire from those humans who sought after that girl fueling me, I can't possibly lose to novices like you!"

Majnun suddenly lashed out with his tentacles, assaulting Jin like a storm. As Sierra screamed behind him, Jin firmly held his ground.

"Get back, I'll handle this. Or, actually, I guess Alf will."

"Don't be too careless, 'cause in the end, I'll need your power after all!"

"You're quite cheeky for a commoner! What's with that ring anyway!"

"The ring was inside of the lump on Jin's collar. It seems that along with the lamp, the ring had also been amidst that pile of books that was in his dorm room. Aware that Majnun was nearby, it burrowed and hid inside of Jin's body. The ring was like a parasite, and so Jin got the power of the ring...that's also why he was able to undo the seal of the lamp."

"If it was a parasite, I should go to a hospital. So anyway, that must be why when the dorm head struck me, the cut wasn't really that deep because the blade hit the ring. Hey wait, Alf, I bet you let him slice me open on purpose, didn't you."

Glancing down at the golden ring, Jin muttered rather bitterly.

"If I had asked you to let me perform surgery on you to get it out, there's no way you would have believed me and accepted, right?"

"Well, yeah, that's right, there was no way I'd have let you cut into me."

"Solomon's ring, which can seal all manners of things, has stronger magical power than an Ark Daemon, so I'd bet as its host, you must taste quite good yourself."

"Hey you! You're still thinking about eating me, aren't you!"

"Oopsies. Never mind, never mind, just forget all that, since without the owner of the ring, there'd be no one to wield me and I wouldn't be able to eat anymore, after all."

Alf spoke off-handedly, then moved his body to face him against Majnun.

"As long as you've got it, all the free Ark Daemons will come for the ring to avoid being sealed away. In short, you have to do your best and fight them all."

"Oh man, why me."

"You can't stop my hundreds of tentacles, no matter what kind of sword you've got! I'll easily crush a weak human like you!"

Mobilizing all his tentacles at once, Majnun prepared to wrap itself around Jin.

Jin sliced horizontally at the approaching tentacles. Being controlled by Alf, Jin's movements were so swift and precise, he couldn't help but gulp.

"It'd be nice if you could help me like this in kendo class."

"Don't distract me. Focus and synchronize yourself with me!"

Jin's ring glowed vividly. Surprised, he unthinkingly exclaimed.

"W...What is this?"

The ring unpeeled like a banana, becoming a golden layer that enveloped Jin's hand. Joining with the sword, it spread along his forearm to become a gauntlet, hardening into an armor and continuing along his upper arm and wrapping his right shoulder, expanding into a metallic wing. The wing curved slightly as if to protect Jin, and when the attacking feelers struck it, they burst with a pop.

"Gahhhh!!"

Puipui vol01 233.jpg

Majnun shrieked. Jin stared dumbfoundedly at his right hand that was now covered in a golden metal. The sword that had merged with his hand had turned golden as it was also enveloped by the ring, and to its left and right, three metal blades extruded like wings. Alf sounded quite pleased.

"Amazing, it's even greater than I thought! So this is the power of the ring!"

"D...Damnittt~!"

Turning desperate, Majnun started spinning and rushed forward. Manipulating the still shocked Jin, Alf thrust herself forward.

"What an idiot! The power of the ring won't be defeated by strength alone! Jin, use the sealing incantation!"

"Sealing incantation?"

Suddenly told something like that, Jin was confused.

"Concentrate on the ring. Just like you synchronized with me, do it with the ring!"

"You keep saying so many difficult things."

"As if I'd let you win, I'll destroy you!"

Majnun had drawn right up to Jin. With all the tension of the moment, Jin felt his pores contract...And just then, as naturally as breathing, his mouth uttered an incantation involuntarily.

"Ol sonuf vaoresaji! I reign over ye!"

And with that Jin and his sword started glowing, numerous shards of light scattering about him and spiraling towards the heavens. His sword branched into two and turned into an enormous maw lined with sharp teeth that engulfed Majnun.

"Gyahhh!"

Majnun let out a final pained death cry. After it had finished swallowing Majnun, the sword returned to its original size. Subsequently, in a puff of smoke, the sword reverted back into Alf. There was just a slight swell to Alf's slender stomach.

"Hmm. The essence of Majnun the devil of adultery, it had quite a unique flavor I think.

She rubbed her belly looking rather satisfied. Jin's armor had also reverted to its original ring form at the same time that Alf reappeared. Jin touched his mouth in disbelief.

"...How, exactly did that incantation come from my mouth all of a sudden?"

"Humans use only 5% of their brains as their actual consciousness. The other 95% remains as the subconscious...the excess mental power remaining dormant. The instance of stress from Majnun's assault led to a temporary awakening or sorts."

"Incredible. I'm more sleepy after that one instant than when I'm in class."

"If you want to freely use such brain power, you'd have to gain control of your subconscious. They use the method of Zen for that sort of thing in Japan, right?"

Sierra let out a sigh and plopped down on the ground where she stood.

"...So it is dead, right?"

"Seems that way."

Jin also wasn't entirely sure. Alf smiled and gave a thumbs up.

"Without the sealing ring, I could only eat weak demons on my own...I should be quite full for a while."

"But, turns out the Clavicle of Solomon isn't a book but a key...Solomon's ring, huh. And here I had thought that it was a text, what with all I've read about it."

"Maybe it was done by the demagogues to throw the Ark Daemons off the trail. Clavicle and key sound kind of similar anyway.

Alf spoke while touching Jin's collarbone where the blood was still in the process of clotting.

"In short, not just anyone can become the master of the magic lamp. In the story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, he must have rubbed the lamp with the ring in order to call out the genie."

"So then whoever has the ring can control the Genie of the Lamp?"

"Yep. If they possessed the ring, then even an Ark Daemon could do it."

"N, no way, I refuse to be a slave to those monsters!"

Sierra shook her head defiantly from side to side. Alf replied to her.

"But in other words, even if some ordinary person stole the lamp and tried to use it, they wouldn't be able to summon you. That's why after hundreds of years, your ancestors were able to move about without being called upon."

"So if I hadn't become a host to the ring, then I wouldn't have to have gone through all of this...?"

Jin sighed mournfully. The sound irritated Sierra.

"You're just a commoner, yet you would dare complain about having someone as wonderful as I am as your servant?"

"Haa, well I did get my room cleaned up a lot faster."

About at the end of his rope, Jin was holding his head in his hands. Sierra came up with a sudden realization and asked him a question.

"Oh hey, isn't Solomon's ring part of Solomon's treasure? That's what your parents are searching for right? So why don't you call them? This could prove that the treasure is in Japan after all."

"I can't. I haven't been able to reach them by phone at all. For adults, they're rather flaky."

Jin didn't hesitate to speak harshly of them. However, even though he might not have been completely aware of it himself, acting aloof, Jin really must have been rather lonely...As someone familiar with wanting family affection, Sierra could relate. With an unusual tenderness, Sierra spoke to him.

"It's okay, you'll be able to talk to them soon. If not, you can use one of my family's employees to send them a message, okay?"

"So even you can be kind sometimes, huh."

"Well, why don't you show me lots of gratitude and rub my head now please."

"So that's all it was, after all!"

Jin pressed his forehead, amazed. As if she were trying to run him over, Sierra pushed closer to him.

"Of course, why else did you think someone like me would be helping a commoner like you?!"

"Helping, you say...Aren't you the one who'd be in trouble if the lamp got stolen?"

"Putting it that way is a sophism!"

"There must be some other completely different meaning to the word 'sophism' than the one I know then."

"Anyway, just listen to what I tell you to do! Now rub my head!"

Speaking firmly, Sierra pressed her finger into Jin's chest like a drill. Bowing to Sierra's forcefulness, Jin sighed.

"I take back what I said earlier. You don't have a single redeeming feature."

"Whatever, just rub my head! Really, I can't stand to have my head rubbed by a commoner like you, so you should by grateful that I'm even allowing you the privilege of doing so!"

"Your logic is so out there, I'm not even going to try to argue with you."

Suffering from a headache, Jin placed his hand on Sierra's head and unwillingly uttered the still unfamiliar incantation.

"Chichinpuipui."

Sierra became engulfed in a silver glow. Her long hair fluttered and Sierra felt the satisfaction gauge rise, but it only went up just a bit.

"Ah...huh?"

Her fluttering hair returned to its normal place and the glow eventually died. She quickly checked her magic book, but there weren't any new spells to be found. Angry, Sierra snapped at Jin.

"Hey! I worked so hard, so what's up with the gauge's increase?! Show some more gratitude!"

"Not really. The one who worked the hardest was Jin, so I think even that amount of gratitude is quite something, considering..."

Alf muttered quietly in surprise. Noticing that Ukyou had started to move slightly while still collapsed on the rooftop, Jin spoke to the other two.

"If we're done here, we should go. The dorm head's such a serious guy, who knows what he'll say if he finds me in the middle of the night here together with girls. I won't have anywhere to go if I'm kicked out of the dorm, you know."

"What do you mean 'serious'?! He tried to make me his slave, didn't he?"

Sierra puffed up her cheeks. Alf chidingly replied.

"That's only because he was possessed by Majnun. He's back to normal now."

"That's the Japanese way of ignoring drunken antics. In that case, you're just a commoner who doesn't accept globalization!"

"It's only because he likes you that he was taken over by Majnun. Just forgive him already."

Just when things had calmed down, Sierra snapped at him like a razor's edge.

"Hey you, don't you feel mortified?"

"Huh? Why would I?"

"You're supposed to be my master! Your servant was taken by someone else, you know? Didn't it irritate you? Didn't you think 'Don't lay a hand on my servant!' or something like that?"

"But, it's not like I'm really your master, and you're not really my servant, right? You don't call me Master, and you're always giving me orders."

Jin's accurate rebuttal left Sierra unable to reply. Left without a valid argument, Sierra shouted angrily.

"That's that and this's this!"

"What's what?"

"Whatever! Act a bit more regretful, or else I'll take the ring and make someone else my master! What do you think of that, hm?!"

"That'd probably be for the best actually. I'll take off the ring now, okay?"

Completely serious, Jin was about to remove it, making Sierra thoroughly indignant. Picking up the magic lamp that had fallen on the floor, she pushed it on Jin.

"W-Well there's only a bit more until I reach the next level, so do your duty and call me again tomorrow! After all this trouble there's no way I'm going back to level zero!"

After saying her bit, Sierra was enveloped by purple smoke and disappeared back through the lamp.

"Hey, wait just a minute! Don't impose whenever you want, it's annoying!"

"Hmm, looks like you don't have a choice. Think of it as destiny and accept it."

Alf laughed heartlessly. Jin scowled at her.

"This isn't my problem! So why do I have to get involved?!"

"I guess it's because you like archaeology? It even seems like you might be better at it than your parents."

Alf spoke while staring at him with a serious face.

"History repeats itself...or so they say. In that case, to study the past is to know the future, right?"

"Hm, maybe...There are times when it mimics the past."

"In other words, archaeologists are like prophets. So being chosen by the ring...You're like a prophet."

"Me, a prophet?"

He blinked at such an unexpected term. Alf nodded firmly.

"I told you before that the 'Clavicle' of Clavicle of Solomon is meant to be Key, right? It's the key that seals or frees the genie of the lamp within the magic lamp...That's the ring of Solomon. That Aladdin would be chosen as the user was already predetermined. That he would be the one to dig out the buried lamp. In other words, the ring's master won't be just anyone."

"...Then, you're saying I was also chosen by the ring?"

"That's right. It wasn't in your room by chance, but by a forgone destiny. However, now that the ring has revealed itself, if it should be stolen, then that person would become the ring's new master. The Ark Daemons will be coming for the ring, and if one should get their hands on the ring, it could very well mean the end of the world, Jin."

Jin could suddenly feel a heavy responsibility press upon him, thinking how he had been chosen. And also...according to Arabian Nights, a thousand years ago the ring had come to China from the west and even before that the magic lamp had already made it to China and been buried underground, so...

"Just like Solomon's treasure, the lost ark could also be in Japan, couldn't it?"

"Even I don't know that much. If I could find the Ark, I bet I could have my pick of tasty Ark Daemons though."

"So you don't know, huh..."

Jin sighed disappointedly. Alf patted him on the shoulder.

"Well, until we find the Ark that's capable of sealing all demons, we'll just have to watch out for any Ark Daemons. At the very least, be mindful of the lamp and the ring. The Ark Daemons will be trying to kill off the descendants of the magic lamp, or else even try to make them their slaves."

"Even if they were able to make that girl a slave, they wouldn't be able to make full use of her anyway."

"Right now she can only use pitiful magic, but...Her ancestors simply passed down the book with spells already written in it and didn't gain any levels to add to it. If she's able fill the book up to the last page, then she could very well wield enough magical power to level a nation."

Jin could only gulp in response to Alf's suggestion. Someone as selfish as Sierra having that kind of ridiculous amount of power...The phrase "Genie" (evil god) would be quite apt, considering her extremely troublesome personality, and then to add to it the power to shake the world, he could just imagine what sort of trouble that could spell.

"If that was to happen, then she'd make herself an empress and rule over Japan."

"Well, the Ark Daemons are seeking to either possess her or kill her, most likely. The Genie of the Lamp may be a double-edged sword to both humans and Ark Daemons alike."

"So because I've found the Genie of the Lamp, they'll be coming to attack seriously then...?"

"That's what I said. To prevent the destruction of the world, you must make sure that no one else gets their hands on her, 'kay?"

"Hmph. If those guys really want her so bad, I'm perfectly willing to wave bye-bye to that troublesome girl."

Jin turned his back. Alf smirked.

"You know, I don't think that'll happen."

"...Hm, maybe so. The fate of the world depends on her, anyway."

As Jin gave a helpless sigh with a grave expression on his face, Alf narrowed her eyes and gave him a sidelong glance that seemed to have some subtle meaning.

"Nah, I think on a personal level, it's simply not something you could control."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Alright then, I think I'll head home now too."

Ignoring Jin's question, Alf opened the deformed iron door to the stairs and started making her way down. Left unanswered, Jin had an odd feeling in his chest.

"Thanks for tonight's meal, make sure to let me eat more Ark Daemons in the future as well, 'kay? I'll give you ten coupons for meals at our family restaurant for each one...Hm, but Solomon's ring looks pretty tasty too though."

"I'd really be better off if I didn't have to deal with a woman like you!"

Jin faced Alf's back and shouted hysterically.

The silverish moon in the sky shone coldly, completely oblivious to anything that had happened. The story had been passed down since long ago in Persia about Majnun who, using the light of the moon, would sneak into people's hearts. The despair of a hopeless longing, and yet unwilling to give up, the person would be driven to lunacy.

"Yuuya, and even the dorm head, what exactly about Zadou drove them to it..."

Jin asked of the moon. An image of the conceited, selfish, and self-centered Sierra danced around in his head. And also...her smiling face when she successfully cooked the omelette, and her teary-eyed expression of relief when she realized that he was still alive after being sliced by Ukyou.

Jin didn't question any further. It was as if the moonlight could pierce to the deepest reaches of a person's heart. Staring at the moon, he couldn't help but feel that even he was being changed oddly by the moon.

As if running from the moon's gaze, Jin departed from the rooftop.



No different than usual, the night passed into morning.

Jin arrived at school and, with a somewhat queasy expression on his face, approached Yuuya who was seated at his desk. Jin greeted him even while his heart beat nervously.

"Morning Yuuya. Where'd you go last night?"

Yuuya turned around and looked up, his face swollen and purple. Jin drew back in shock. As he had thought, he must've used just a bit too much force...Jin thought in reflection.

"Jin, I think I might be a sleepwalker."

Looking tired, Yuuya held his hand to his forehead. There was a large bump there that must have come from when he fell down the stairs.

"This morning, I was lying down at the foot of the stairs when I woke up...I was even in my school uniform. I don't really remember what happened after school yesterday. And my entire body hurts..."

"Isn't that from studying too much? You know, because sometimes your brain shorts out or something."

Jin tried to convince him while smiling. Yuuya still looked rather doubtful.

"What about you, what's with your shoulder?"

Yuuya reached out and touched Jin's left shoulder. The wound from yesterday had been treated and wrapped in gauze, but perhaps it had reopened on the trek to school, because now his shirt was slightly stained with blood. Jin hastily covered the bloody spot with his jacket.

"Oh, that's just from the lump."

"Maybe you're also injuring yourself while sleepwalking? Even the dorm head did, you know. Could there be such a thing as mass sleepwalking, 'cause this is really weird. Dozens of people were collapsed in the gym and the courtyard, covered in extinguishing foam."

"Well, it was a full moon last night. They do say strange things happen on the night of a full moon, right?"

"You mean like werewolves and fish spawning?...Well, I guess they do say that."

Jin relaxed as Yuuya seemed to be buying it.

If the existence of the Ark Daemons was made public, there was the possibility that people with bad intentions might try to seek them out. That's what Alf had told him when she called him afterwards. Solomon had used the sealed demons to gain prosperity, but after his death, he had sealed the demons back into the Ark and hidden the ring so that no one could abuse the power.

Though Solomon in his great wisdom had been able to control them, the Ark Daemons were still likely too crafty for humanity. In any case, the wisdom of mankind couldn't even keep up with its own overall growth. Depletion of resources, environmental pollution, and persistent strife...Examining the exceedingly large civilization of man, people are leading themselves on a road to extinction that goes beyond simple problems of overpopulation, to where it's as dangerous as when children think of guns as toys.

Well...I'm no different, Jin thought. He can't be sure of just how much power Sierra actually has. As the one who had come into the ring which could call upon her power, he wondered if he would be able to use it responsibly. And, he wondered if he would be able to keep it out of the hands of the Ark Daemons, whose appearances and backgrounds were still unknown to him. Jin was a bit overwhelmed with doubt. As he was lost in thought, Sierra arrived to class.

"Morning everyone."

As always, Sierra radiantly took the center of her classmates' attention. As he had just been thinking about her, Jin unconsciously stared at her. As soon as she noticed his gaze, she made a slightly perplexed face. Then, almost as if trying to run, she looked away. Jin was baffled and a bit uneasy.

It was annoying when she'd speak as pompously as she pleased, but it was almost all too clear as to what she thinking at least. Now though, as she put on that nice and friendly act, he had no idea what she could be thinking. Until just days before, he wouldn't have paid her any heed, and yet now it was weighing quite heavily on his mind.

That day, Jin ran back to the dormitory.

Honda Satoko was standing in front of the dorm, a book clutched to her chest. Surprised, Jin stopped.

"You're...that library committee member, right?"

"I've brought the Arabian Nights book that senpai was looking for."

Satoko's eyes were generally hidden by her bangs, so he couldn't really make out her expression. Jin knit his brow suspiciously.

"You came here just for that?"

"Yes, just for this."

Satoko's mouth was twisted into a smirkish smile. Jin shivered.

Just then, Ukyou came walking out of the dorm's entrance and called Jin's name.

"Hey, Araki. Come here a sec."

"Ah, coming! Thanks, it seems I'm being called by the dorm head, so..."

Jin took the book from her and turned on his heel. Watching him go, Satoko let out a low laugh.

"Please feel free to ask me anything at any time. As long as it's something within my means, I'll help you with anything. Kukuku..."

"Yeah, I really don't get what's with her going 'kukuku'..."

With his head tilted in thought, Jin returned to the dorm. Ukyou, wearing his kendo uniform, started talking while pressing an icepack against the large lump that he probably got from yesterday when his head hit the rooftop floor.

"Araki, don't fraternize with women near the dorm. You'll destroy the public morals we uphold!"

Ukyou was as persistent as ever. Seeing him act so normal, Jin relaxed for the time being.

"My apologies."

"Also, Araki...Did anything happen to you last night?"

"Last night?"

"It's just that, I get the feeling I was sleepwalking. I was carrying my sword and lying on the rooftop, and I even seem to have caught a cold. Your roommate Utada was also collapsed within the school, and...I even have the oddest sensation of meeting with you floating in the back of my mind."

Jin stiffened, shaking his head back and forth.

"I was at the dorm the entire time. I ate dinner there too...Ask anyone and they'll tell you."

"I see. Well, it must've been a dream then. Along with trying to make Zadou into a servant..."

Ukyou muttered practically to himself. It was almost impossible to hear, so Jin asked.

"Did you say something just now?"

"Ah, no. It's nothing."

Ukyou shook his head thoroughly before turning away.

"Having such a shameful dream, I must have some pretty vulgar desires hidden away in my heart somewhere. I must need more discipline...Today, it'll be a thousand swings and ablution, then I'll purify my mind by copying sutras."

"What is that you're muttering about?"

"In any case, for me to have...to have dreamed of Zadou dressed as a maid, it's like the end of the world. 'Moe' shouldn't be used as something so frivolous! In bushido, it's something you'll only find hand in hand with death!"

Ukyou left while in the middle of a verse from the Hagakure. It seemed like he would forget all about last night, but that didn't mean he'd let go of any of his feelings for Sierra.

"So even the dorm head has bouts of idle imagination, huh. What's so good about that spoiled girl anyway?"

From the shadows of a thicket in the dorm's garden, there was someone watching Jin. Hiding while gripping the tree's branches with both hands, a digital camera hung from the neck of the vice-president, Himuro Eriko.

"Araki Jin..."

Eriko's intelligent eyes glinted behind her lenses.

"I don't know exactly what you're hiding, but I'll definitely prove that you brought Zadou into your dorm room. That way, even the president will see that girl's true colors and forget all about her. Then, he'll notice me, the one who has always been by his side...Ufufufu..."

"Sis, what are you doing here? If the dorm head finds you, he'll get angry."

From behind, Eriko's younger brother Keita called out to her, sounding reasonably worried.



Back in his room, Jin sat down at his desk.

Yuuya had said he was worried about sleepwalking and gone to see the school counselor about it, so it seemed he wouldn't be back for a while. He still couldn't reach his parents by phone.

The magic lamp was still inside one of his drawers. Last night he had been thinking that he wouldn't call her out a second time, but...as he considered what Alf had said, they needed to raise Sierra's genie level as much as possible if they wanted to oppose the Ark Daemons.

"I'd rather not have to see that selfish girl, but...Well, it can't be helped I guess."

Jin took the ring out from his shirt pocket and rubbed it against the magic lamp.

Sierra popped out right away dressed in her maid outfit. For some reason, her hair was dripping wet, and her dry uniform was being rained upon. Here and there, shampoo bubbles coated her hair. Her forehead was furrowed angrily. Jin was surprised and took a glance out the window.

"Is it raining?"

"As if! What's with your timing, calling me out when I was taking my daily after-school shower!"

Sierra snarled at him. So, it seemed like he had called her when she was right in the middle of taking a shower. Her long hair was completely drenched, so her dry clothes were becoming wet and at her feet was a pool of water.

"Oh man, it's going to ruin the floor."

"Hey! Are you just going to ignore the bigger problem here?"

"You're the one who told me to summon you, so what's the problem?"

Immediately regretting summoning her, Jin sighed deeply. Sierra grabbed the hem of her skirt and started wringing it out as she yelled.

"I'll call you when I'm available for this, so summon me then!"

"If it's like that, then just which one of us is really calling out the other?"

"I guess I'll have to teach you about masters and servants or you won't understand who's the master."

"Hey wait, I'm the master here!"

After Jin shouted, someone in the neighboring room banged on the wall.

"Araki, if you want to make so much noise by yourself, go do it outside!"

"See? Because of you, people are getting mad again."

Jin glared at her. Sierra was drying her hair with a towel-like bedsheet that had been hanging from the bunked beds. Jin quietly muttered.

"Maybe rich people don't use these, but that's not actually a bath towel."

"Never mind that, hurry up and tell me what you called me for."

"Don't you mean, 'Master, how may I be of service?'!"

Exasperated by the domineering Sierra, Jin rested his forehead against his hand.

"Fine, just go ahead and wipe up the wet floor. Though this scene feels kind of backwards."

"What a mundane task. Isn't there anything more befitting for me, just a bit more flashy or something?"

"Just get to it!"

Jin shouted in irritation. Sierra sharply turned away.

"Fine. It's fine as long as I get it done, right?"

And so, she took the bedsheet that she had been using to dry her hair and started wiping the floor with it.

"Don't use a bedsheet as a towel!"

Puipui vol01 255.jpg

The moment he yelled, he hesitated. Sierra was on her hands and knees. With the maid uniform's miniskirt, her thighs were clearly visible, but...ah, but that wasn't all. He was pretty sure that just a bit higher, what should have been there, wasn't. Jin became flustered and his face tinged red.

'Ah...That's right, she was in the middle of a shower when I called her. Seeing as how she gets changed into the maid uniform right when she comes out, then...what about her underwear?'

Jin felt a sudden cold sweat overtake him. He wanted to point it out. He just had to. And yet he couldn't. As if there was any way he could.

"T-That's enough, you can stop."

Looking off to the side, Jin quickly spoke. Sierra looked up and stared at him blankly.

"What? You're the one who said to dry the floor."

"It's fine, so go home!"

"It's not fine. I have to raise my genie level or..."

Sierra stood up and scowled at him. Jin was somewhat taken aback.

"...Ah, I know. Since I don't like wiping, there's a better way. Actually, I heard this from my head maid Mary about the essentials of cleaning."

"The essentials of cleaning?"

Jin's eyes were widened with surprise. Sierra looked back at him proudly with her head held sharply upwards. She looked a bit happy even. Sierra was certainly domineering and selfish, but with her fierce competitiveness, she was surprisingly serious about her work as the Genie of the Lamp...Jin was once again reminded of that fact. Whether it was a good thing or not, it was an irrefutable truth.

"Okay, if you get it, then get out of the way! Whatever gets in the way of cleaning, I'm going to crumple and toss in the trash!"

...But, is the abusive tongue really necessary? Jin climbed up to the top of the two beds. Sierra spoke with an energetic air.

"This spell works quite well with cleaning. In other words, the better I remember the magic, the easier it'll be to level up."

"What works well with cleaning?"

"I heard this from Papa. That Lammul in Arabian means sand. Though it's an incantation related to sand, I had no idea that it was a sleep spell..."

"Ah, yeah. The sandman...Makes sense."

"So you know about it?"

"At night, he's a fairy that comes to put children to sleep by placing sand in their eyes, right?"

"Yeah. When I asked Mary, she told me that in medieval Europe there were people who made a living by scrubbing the floors and kitchenware with sand. So, if you use sand to polish the floors, they'll become rea~lly nice and pretty."

Suddenly, Jin got a bad feeling about where this was headed. But, by the time he realized what was coming, it was too late.

"Ah wait, stop!"

"Lammul!"

Holding her spellbook in one hand, Sierra held her index finger up high with gusto and chanted the incantation.

Bringing along a fierce sound, the sandstorm raged within the room. Lighter things were picked up by the wind, the curtains were suddenly coated in sand, his desk was buried, and the bits that hit him in the face stung like being shot with a pellet gun.

"Stop it, you idiot!"

"Who's the idiot! Even though I said I'd clean for you, you're not showing the least bit of gratitude? What a terribly senseless commoner you are!"

"As if I could be grateful for this! Which of us is the senseless one?!"

As Jin yelled, sand flew into his mouth, sticking crunchily in his mouth. Because of that, he found it hard to even speak.

"I don't think there's enough sand. More Lammul!"

"Stop already!"

Jin screamed at the end of his rope. Rather than worry about the Ark Daemons, Sierra could probably destroy the world all on her own. Once again, one of the neighbors pounded heavily on the wall.

"Hey, don't make such a ruckus every single frickin' day!"

The room was already filled up to at least knee level. Sierra stood alone amidst the piled sand. Covering his eyes, Jin coughed up some sand and yelled.

"Zadou, hey, cut it out!"

"Guh."

Sierra, who was still standing in the sand, had her head tilted to the side. Drool hung from her mouth. Even as she stood, she seemed to be sleeping peacefully.

"Don't get put to sleep by your own magic!"

Because Sierra had fallen asleep, there was no way to stop the magic. The sand continued to pile up. It seemed like Jin would be killed off even before the world might be destroyed.

"Just go home, and don't come back!"

Speaking of the Genie of the Lamp, Sierra really fit the bill for a genie (demon god)...Jin was fully aware of that. And, he was the one who was now stuck with that genie...Yeah.

"Somebody, please, do something about this girl for meeeee!"

Jin held his head, screaming mournfully as the sandstorm continued to rage.



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