“—Oh? You said something that quite interesting there.”
They were spending their after-meal teatime in the Kirishima family’s garden. After listening to a sequence of events Kirishima Haruko nodded repeatedly. Then, she smiled, “In other words, you made a confession of love to a girl other than myself. That’s what that means, right? Onii-sama.”
“Well, that’s true…”
While confirming things, Yuuki was thinking that there would be no reason that he should be getting such a scary glare from his blood related sister.
“Onii-sama, you’re quite troublesome.” Haruko shook her head. “I understand that for many males, being a little bit of a player to some extent is needed. It is also the role of a wife to be able to forgive a bit of cheating once or twice. However, you said something that should never have been said, right? Please be more understanding.”
“…There are a few things that I would like to retort for, but,” Yuuki was amazed, “How should I put this? It’s somewhat unexpected?”
“Unexpected? How so?”
“I thought that you would be crying and complaining a lot more. I proposed to someone else other than you after all. However, you are still quite calm.”
“Aaah. That’s what you mean.” She made a relaxed smile.
Yuuki became even more confused, “Don’t you always say it? That I should marry you. Quite seriously at that.”
“Yeah. I do mean it when I say that.”
“Then, wouldn’t it be bad for me to be proposing to someone else?”
“Nope, that’s no problem at all.” His sister smiled and spoke. “When it comes to fights. Victory comes to the person that’s left standing at the very end. Rejoicing or despairing over the victories and losses in the middle is just a useless waste of energy.”
“Haah. I see.”
“Eventually, I’m going to change the laws of this country, so that I can legally marry you, Onii-sama. I do not care about anything that happens until that point. No matter how much those flies and cockroaches would like to annoy us, I pay no heed to it.”
It was a statement that didn’t seem like it would come from an elementary schooler. Once again, he was made to realize that she really seemed like a reincarnation of Sokuten Bukou.
“But, you know.” Yuuki refused to back down. Being so confident until this point, it would make anyone want to see if they could break through. “If I really do end up marrying, what will you do? Will you quietly accept it?”
“No way. There is a line that must be drawn for everything. Everything up to that line would be forgiven, but anything more than that cannot and will not be accepted.”
“But, I’ll actually marry, you know? I’m serious about it.”
“Please go ahead and do your best. Looking at Onii-sama try so hard, is also something that I love ♥.”
“Even if mother and father oppose it, I’ll continue pushing.”
“Ah, if you’re going to elope, please let me know beforehand. I will go anywhere that you go, Onii-sama ♥.”
To be amazed by his sister was normal—but, Yuuki felt some discomfort. There was something behind what Haruko was saying.
“I’m a little bit curious.”
“The way you put it, it sounds like it’s already been decided that I can’t marry her.”
“You can’t.” She declared.
No confusion, nor hesitation. As if everything was predetermined.
“Onii-sama and that white-haired girl can’t marry. No matter how serious Onii-sama is.”
“… Why do you think that?”
“A women’s intuition ♥.”
“That’s a lie. Your intuition is like that of a wild animal, but you wouldn’t depend just on your intuition.”
“Yes, as expected of Onii-sama. You know me very well.” His little sister sipped on her tea with a smile.
Yuuki scratched his head, “Then, I’m going to change the conversation.”
“Kanaruzawa’s position at school becoming worse, that was because you did something, right?”
“… Why did you admit that so easily?”
“Because I did it so that you would notice.” She confessed it all, “I mean, isn’t it unnatural? The transfer student that was initially welcomed and well received suddenly becoming a hated in such a short amount of time. Who was it that would go out of the way and report about the flowers, and make such a big deal out of it? If you just think about it, you would notice that something was off.”
He thought back to Koiwai Kurumi. The indecisive attitude shown by the other class representative. Maybe she had realized something at that point?
He took some time to put his cup to his mouth. Don’t let your emotions waver. Stay calm, steady. I have to deal with the current situation.
“Why?” That was the first thing he asked. “Why did you do something like that? Did you not like Kanaruzawa that much?”
The hostility that she has towards Kurumi should be the same. No matter who the woman is, any that spend their time around her brother would never be accepted by the little sister—however, such heavy handed means, that would even make Yuuki unhappy, was something that almost never happened. Then why did this happen this time?
“This will be my second warning, Onii-sama.” Without answering the question, the little sister said something else. “Don’t involve yourself with that white haired woman.”
Setting down his cup, he looked at his sister. It didn’t seem like she fooling around. Neither did she seem to have lost herself. Her back was straight, her voice calm. It was like a judge giving the defendant a suggestion. He heard it before, “Don’t involve yourself with her.” To her confident and convicted way of speaking, Yuuki once again straightened his posture and spoke.
“You said this before, right? That you would investigate. About Kanaruzawa.”
It was around the start of April, when Sekai had first come in as a transfer student. Haruko had said that she was curious and so she took on the role herself. And since she took it on, an investigation should have been done. An investigation upon Kanaruzawa with as much detail has possible. With the backing of Kirishima Pharmaceuticals, she was not only strong but thorough.
However, he still hadn’t heard the results.
“Yes. I did some investigation.” Nodding, Haruko refilled the tea. Then, she spoke as if it was an extension of a short chat. “Onii-sama, does the Tsukumo Organization ring a bell?”
“…? No. Haven’t heard that at all before.”
“I see. Is that so?”
“Is something wrong with that whatever-it’s-called organization?”
“Nope. If you don’t know, then it’s nothing.” Haruko shook her head. Then, her expression softened a bit, “Let’s leave this talk at that. The tea that we’ve made would end up going bad otherwise.”
“Yeah. Got it.”
Yuuki did not pursue the topic any further. His sister was stubborn. If she were to say “It ends right here”, then even if the heavens and the earth were to turn over on itself, she would not give in.
“Haruko will devote her all to Onii-sama.” At the end of it all, his sister said that with a faint smile. “In order to protect Onii-sama, in order to benefit Onii-sama, Haruko will do anything. As such, please feel free to feel relieved.”
Yuuki listened to those words with a wry smile. He was thinking about all those times that he had been saved by his sister who was so much younger than him. He wouldn’t be able to lift his head to his sister, if he were to create any more debts, however, Yuuki was not convinced that would be able to go on without being taken care of by his little sister.
… In other words, he couldn’t do anything but to just accept at least that much.
The reincarnation of Sokuten Bukou, her taking on such a different manner of speech from usual, was just another page in the story of their everyday lives. However, it all turned around quickly. Without even waiting a year, it all came to pass in just a short amount of time.
“—As I thought, a wedding dress would be good.”
It was at the Kanaruzawa family mansion. The owner of the mansion spoke fervently.
“A dress with a lot of fine and fluffy lace. Of course, it would have to be pure white, without a single blemish.”
It was night. A night where even the plants were asleep. She was inside her own room, changing her clothes.
“However, it doesn’t have to be something really expensive. As long as it’s pretty, it’s okay. It can just be something that you could get anywhere.”
There was no wind, nor any flashing electric lights. There was only a small yellow light, lit by the bedside. That light made the shadow of the room’s owner grow longer than usual.
“Still, it would probably be in the middle of the spotlight. It would have to be a really nice and attractive dress. For instance—the chest area could be a little more bold and open. Yeah, it should be fine for something like that. I should try and challenge it myself. Yeah.”
The maid, Chiyo, was responsible for helping her change. While paying attention to her mistress’s mutterings, she moved her hands. Arranging her mistress’s hair, polishing her mistress’s nails, and putting on makeup for her mistress. For the woman that she served, she made every preparation.
Coiled around Sekai’s body was white clothing. 
Of course, it wasn’t a wedding dress.
“If you are worried at all,” Chiyo spoke without stopping her hands. “You would certainly be quite beautiful.”
“That would be good. Will I really be able to become pretty?”
“You definitely can. I myself would take the responsibility, in order to ensure that you would appear as a fine lady.”
“I-I see. That would be good, but—”
“I’m sure it would also end up stealing the eyes of Yuuki-sama. He would definitely given you a lot of complements. That person is surprisingly honest after all.”
“…” Sekai’s words were caught in her throat. Even with only the one flickering light in the room, it was easy to tell that her cheeks were red. “Chiyo?”
“Can I just say something?
“What is it?”
“I was very happy.” Sekai said earnestly. It was as if she was lovingly letting sand fall from the palm of her hand exactly one grain at a time. “I was truly happy. Yuuki wishing to marry me. That made me really really happy.”
“Yes. So it would seem.”
“However, with it being so sudden, I quickly ran away.”
“That can’t be helped, he’s just that type of person after all. Being straightforward and everything.”
“I know right. What is that man thinking?” Saying that, Sekai laughed. “He’s weirdly meddlesome, careful in every way, and curious about so many different things. Me being able to see a new world is only due to that man.”
“Yes. It really is that way.”
“Because of him, I have changed quite a bit. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things recently. Really, a lot of things. About the flowers blooming in the garden. The sky that can be seen through the window. The clouds that are flying by, the birds flying around. I have even been thinking about a lot of things that cannot be captured by eyes. Even though, just a little while before, I had completely quit on the action of even thinking of things.”
It started raining. Potsu potsu, the rain droplets made sounds as they fell down on the roof. The rainwater ran down through the gutters, making sound like vomit as it hits the ground.
“And you know? I feel like everything has become even more vivid. The feel when I touch a glass of whisky, the scent of smoke from my cigar tickling my nose—the things that seemed obvious, suddenly felt not obvious anymore.”
The dim light swayed.
Chiyo replied quietly with an, “As it would seem.”
“It’s like a dream. Everyday. Being able to spend every day like this. If I change, it’s like everything else changes.” Hafuu, she let out a deep breath. Sekai’s eyes were in a fully satisfied state as she let out a murmur. “So, this is what it means to be alive.”
The preparations were finished.
They left the room. Chiyo led her down the dark hallway.
A short silence fell.
“Chiyo?” Sekai opened her mouth and broke the silence. “If, if I did decide to marry—”
“You can’t.” She declared.
No confusion, nor hesitation. As if everything was predetermined. No. As if it was decided by fate.
“Yeah. That’s true.” Sekai smiled. “I said something stupid. Forget it.”
The two of them descended into the basement of the mansion. There stood a remarkable large door, as if it was looking down on anyone that would dare to visit what was behind it. Filled with a countless amount of death, even more countless than the number of stars, swallowing everything like a pot of greed. Exchanging suffering for the world’s continuation, a nightmare of chaos. It was Kanaruzawa Sekai’s workplace.
“Well then. We’ll be depending on you today as well.” Chiyo made a deep bow.
Sekai made a small nod. They waited in front of the door. The air was heavy and excruciating.
“Is something wrong?” The maid took a glance upward to gaze at her mistress and gauge her condition.
“… Hahah.” A dry laugh rang out in the basement. While turning her back, Kanaruzawa continued with her weak laughter. “Sorry. I can’t move. My legs are shaking.”
“It’s been a while, for it to be like this. How many years has it been… ten, no a hundred years? I’ve already completely forgotten.”
“When the feeling of being alive surfaces, everything suddenly becomes scary. Fufu, it’s really quite weird.”
“… Mistress.” Chiyo opened her mouth. Unusually, her voice was filled with pain. “Did I make a mistake, perhaps? I was the one that had recommended you to see the outside world.”
“That’s not it. I am grateful to you.” Sekai shook her head, “I was going to stay not knowing anything for forever. Ignorant of everything, while just fulfilling what was within my power. Like something that was held sacred. Not that much different from a dress up doll, and you were the one who gave me the chance to change—”
Geho. A sound of suffering rang out. It came spilling out from Sekai. And, what came out of her mouth was not just sound.
Holding down her mouth with her hand, Sekai bent forward. Botari, botari, the red liquid that spilled out quickly formed a single stream, and spread flat and wide on the floor.
“It’s alright.” Holding back the maid who was trying to rush to her aid with an open hand, she swallowed the blood with a gulp. After doing that multiple time she took a breath. Then she looked down at her chest, and turned back around, “Sorry. I ended up ruining the clothes that you took so long to prepare.”
And she smiled.
Chiyo’s expression distorted. Her gaze shook as if full of hesitation. Eventually, she made a decision and spoke. “Please. Throw everything away.”
“Throw everything away and run. If you so wish, I will not stop you. No rather, I would do everything in my power to help you.”
“What are you sayi—”
“Throw it all away. You’ve already done enough, no, more than enough to fulfill your duty and roll. You protected the existence of this world alone, you allowed for the continuation of this world. Who would be able to complain? It should be alright for you to do whatever you want.”
“If you were to just nod your head, I would even give up my life to help you. Please, make a decision.”
Silence fell. It was a heavy, but short silence.
Sekai immediately smiled and spoke. “Chiyo. You’re quite kind.”
“From such an adept person like you, you’re kindness is clumsy, and yet I feel it all the time. You are always thinking of me. I hope that you will continue to serve me from now on.”
“I sometimes say that I want to fire you, but that’s just a joke.”
“… Kind, the one that’s kind—” Is you, Chiyo thought.
There was no one else kinder than Kanaruzawa Sekai. She was just like her name, quite literally, saving the world. Moreover, she does it alone, without a single bit of whining, while receiving an unimaginable amount of suffering.
Please, please—Chiyo prayed. Please, mistress, don’t say such kind words to me. Every time you are kind to me, my powerlessness, my inability to do anything, becomes even more pronounced. In my long time of watching over you, my heart has already withered away. It withered away, and everything finally became easier. And yet, when you are kind to me, my heart that should have already withered away ends up hurting.
That’s why, mistress.
Please, don’t restore my human heart.
Swallowing a thousand different words, Chiyo took a deep breath. And in the next moment, she returned to her usual self. She lowered her head deeply, “Sorry for stepping out of line. Please forgive me.”
“It is nothing to worry about.” Sekai quickly shook her head, “Rather, it really helped. As expected of Chiyo.”
“Look. The shaking has stopped.”
The door opened with a creak.
Behind the heavy open doors, there was a space about the size of a full tennis court, with nothing but empty space and a stormy landscape.
“I have something I must do. And I’m the only one that can do it. Then there’s only one answer. Isn’t that right, Chiyo?”
It was just a short moment. The face of the maid that lived with the goddess, had the intention and will of fulfilling that cursed duty.
“I bid you farewell, Mistress. We’ll be depending on you today as well.”
Sent of by the maid, Sekai took a step forward. The darkness swallowed the girl, and the door creaked shut.
There was only half a year until Sekai’s death.
- Shiroshouzoku – white clothing that is similar to a kimono. It can either be related to the dead or the shinto rituals and customs.