Kirishima Haruko continued to think about the Tsukumo organization.
Within her hands was a countless amount of data. It was the results of detailed investigation into the annoying organization that stands in her way. The size of the organization. The number of members. The scale of their financial resources and assets. How far they had spread into this world.
No matter what it was about, none of it could be seen clearly. While it had a solid presence, it was vague preventing the core part of it from being grasped
(Maybe this already can’t be measured with a scale made by humans.)
She had to admit it soon. That she had now clearly stretched out her hand towards something that she should not have touched. Still, it was for her beloved brother. No matter what it was, she would happily risk endangering herself.
(However, what should I do about this…?)
Shutting herself in the study, she constantly referenced reading material as she analyzed the information.
The first of her conclusions: it is impossible to crush the Tsukumo organization from head on. They’re not only bigger but stronger as well. In the first place, they didn’t hold any specific shape. It made her think that the Tsukumo organization was an existence similar to that of a slime or an amoeba. It doesn’t have a fixed shape, always changing over time, and permeates throughout the world like air.
Important people—similar to Chiyo—did exist, but there was no central power. That’s why, no matter how much you investigate, it always eludes you. In other words, even if a single figurehead can be killed with a gun, the same cannot be said about the whole group.
Then, what exactly is the goal of this organization?
(An organization made to control and influence the whole world…?)
She could only think that was how it was. It might sound like delusional words, but it was just her analysis. Politics, economy, religion—they were deeply rooted in any who rule these aspects in the world, spreading their will throughout the world.
“Hah, it’s like they’re god.” Haruko bitterly spat out.
It was an annoying theory coming from an atheistic girl. To have her life controlled by something so immeasurable and unknown, was something that was unbearable. However, she got involved. As long as that’s the case, she couldn’t just pass by without doing anything. Even if she wanted to, her opponent would not let her.
(That white-haired woman is their cornerstone, I at least understand that.)
More than cornerstone, it should be the meaning of their existence. The woman who was guarded by the maid called Chiyo, who deceived her beloved brother. She holds all the keys. Then, how should she approach this key.
(It’s so troubling…) Haruko groaned, holding her hair with both hands. Should they reconcile with each other. Or should it be the opposite.
For now, she could still calculate it out, but she couldn’t say that it would stay that way forever. The time for her decision was closing in. It was probably just around the corner.
“Still, it’s unfair…” Unusually, Haruko complained.
She was going to devote her very best, but she didn’t want it to become wasteful struggling. It was like trying to play soccer with baseball rules. And more than anything else, this sense of discomfort. It was as if she had experienced this many times in the past, repeating without any sort of improvement. What is this sense of déjà vu?
“Ugh, geez, this feels terrible!”
Her frustration piled up. Even as it piled up, she couldn’t run away. The time for her decision was closing in.
I want to meet with Sekai and talk. That was the first thing he thought of when Yuuki regained his consciousness.
“You cannot meet with my mistress.” Chiyo’s response, however, was cold. She shook her head at the entrance to the Kanaruzawa house in regret, “It seems that she hasn’t had a chance to organize her feelings. It seems that the shock that occurred to her was larger than I had expected… It might have been too early to show Yuuki-sama what I showed you. That is my miss.”
It was admirable. For a maid with such a shrewd and cunning impression, to bring herself down like that, made it hard for Yuuki to say anything more.
“Kanaruzawa-san once again stopped coming to school.” Koiwai Kurumi shook her head. “With something or another, she was finally able to get closer with a bunch of people. It’s a little bit of a waste. Well, graduation is soon. What’s fine is fine, but still.”
Towards Kurumi’s grumbling, Yuuki could only return a vague answer. Arriving at this point and having the gears misaligned in the end, he agreed with the regret that she felt for it. Although, what could he do here? Now that he knows the truth of the world, Yuuki couldn’t even decide on what was right or wrong.
“By the way, Yuuki-kun. It’s about the graduation trip. The one that we’re going on together as a class. Are you not going to participate? Eh, but it’s the last high school event. It’s hot springs and skiing, you know? Are you not interested? I see. Okay…”
Although he felt sorry for the depressed Kurumi, he wasn’t being honest.
The existence called Kanaruzawa Sekai. Maintaining the structure of this world. He didn’t even believe it now. No, he didn’t want to believe the truth.
“This world is a lump of shit, Yuuki-sama.” Chiyo told him. She showed indifference, but held an unhidden indignation. She spoke about how the world was carried and held by just one girl. Spoke about how that girl was the sole sacrifice, in which she could only powerlessly live out her long life. She spoke about the Tsukumo organization. She spoke about her own long relationship with Kanaruzawa Sekai.
“Not so far in the future, my mistress will die.” At the end of it all, she lowered her head. “If everything stays the same without and nothing is done, it will certainly become like that. The world will crush her, and after she’s worn out, my mistress will be thrown away. The goddess is that kind of existence. That is how the world was made.”
“As such, Yuuki-sama. Would you please take my mistress with you and run away?”
“Would you open a hole in the shitty structure of this world?”
“… Even if she says something like that.” Yuuki grumbled.
A cloudy sky was spread out above his head. Lunch break. Murakumo High School. The roof of the classroom building. While gnawing on the terrible bread from the school store, he organized the thoughts within his head.
“Is this how it’s supposed to be? My life.”
It could be said to be spiraling out of control. Just under a year ago, Kirishima Yuuki was just a normal high schooler. At the very least, he would be considered in the normal range. He was born into a wealthy family, and stood out at school—but still, he had no connection at all to goddesses, the makeup of this world, and things like that.
He reflected further. What is this situation anyways? Kanaruzawa Sekai will die? That harmless young girl?
With that one line, it was done. If that possibility is one a million, or even one in a billion, it was really just as Chiyo said. This world is a lump of shit, huge, smelly and shittier than anything else. Yuuki knows. There are countless impossibilities that do actually happen. Kanarzuawa Sekai was an impossible existence, in charge of an impossible “work”.
“It’s possible, right…?”
Since he saw “that scene” within “that room”, he couldn’t deny it with a right mind. It could be said that Yuuki himself has already stepped outside of the logic of this world. The time for his decision is closing in. It’s almost here.
“Hey hey. It seems like you are worrying about something.” A voice called out. From the border between the school building and the rooftop. Around the doorway. “Then how about confiding in Onee-san over here. No matter your worry I’ll help resolve it in an instant.”
“… Koiwai-san.” Yuuki wryly smiled at the classmate that had just arrived on scene while taking an imposing stance, “You know, Koiwai-san. You’re a good person.”
“I know, right? There aren’t many people that are as good as me, you know?”
“Yeah. I really do believe that. Truly.”
“… Then? What specifically do you mean when you say that I’m a good person?”
“You are a person that comes at perfect timings.”
“For example, at a time like now.”
“You have something that you want me to listen to, right?”
Kurumi sat down next to Yuuki. And then she moved her fingers around, making a gesture to encourage him to speak.
I really am no match for you, Yuuki spoke in wonder.
About Kanaruzawa Sekai.
About the Tsukumo organization.
Needless to say, it was a story that sounded completely crazy. He had said it in a roundabout way, so that just in case, he could pass it all off as a joke,
“You have it hard, Yuuki-kun.” Kurumi nodded. It didn’t seem like she was joking. She spoke simply. “I intend to understand the position that Yuuki-kun has been forced into. That’s why, yeah. I would say that you have it tough. With your permission, I would like to accept your words of gratitude. I might not be in a position to say that though.”
He was a little taken aback. He had never thought he would get such a response from such a preposterous story. To the extent of feeling a little bit more at ease by speaking about it, that was all he had really expected. She most likely doesn’t understand. The true meaning of the position that Yuuki has been placed in. However, her seriousness was conveyed. That, more than anything made him happy.
“Now that I think about it, I’ve really been in your care, Koiwai-san.” From his uniform pocket, Yuuki took out a chocolate cigarette. Sticking it into his mouth, he looked up at the sky. “During middle school, and even now during high school. If Koiwai-san wasn’t there, who knows what would have happened to me.”
“You would have quit school, right?”
“You can be even more grateful, you know?”
“Yeah. I truly am, from the bottom of my heart.”
“You can kiss me as well, you know?”
“Please don’t say something that my little sister would say.”
“Well, it’s all part of a give and take.” She threw out both her legs, and looked up at the sky while speaking. “I’ve also been helped by you, Yuuki-kun.”
There was something like that. How many years has it been now?
At first, it was just trivial problems. Touching shoulders and such, hitting on her here and there—the types of things that you might happen anywhere with anyone, but the important part came after. Without thinking about the consequences, those brats kidnapped Kurumi, and confined her while threatening to end her life. Once it became like that, Yuuki came out and demonstrated his own powers.
In the end, he was able to save her just before being raped, and Kurumi ended up fine. On the other hand, things did not end well for those brats. The result of Yuuki ‘demonstrating his own powers’, was multiple victims hanging on the brink of life and death. Several, had irrecoverable injuries.
Considering the circumstances, it could only be thought of as excessive use of force in self-defense, but because of the influence of the Kirishima family, there were no consequences. However, after all of it, everyone around Yuuki misunderstood him. His surroundings feared him, and as misunderstandings bred further misunderstandings, adding onto his terrible looks, it reached the current situation.
“That’s why,” Kurumi threw out her legs and kicked them back and forth. “I’ll help you, Yuuki-kun. That is something that is a given. It was my fault after all, that your life took a turn for the worse.”
“No. That was, me——”
“It’s fine. I’ve already decided that to be the case within myself.” Interrupting him, Kurumi smiled, “Yuuki-kun?”
“That,” she pointed at the chocolate cigarette, “can you give me one?”
“…” Yuuki slightly widened his eyes, “Bringing in snacks like this are forbidden at our school, right?”
“Is that something a person who not only brings snacks, but also has the guts to eat it in front of me, should say? I’ll keep quiet about it, so give me one, is what I’m saying.”
“Alright alright.” Yuuki obediently handed her one.
This was the first time this had ever happened. For his classmate to say something like that.
“Just do it, however you want to.” While chewing on the chocolate, Kurumi spoke. “Yuuki-kun, you should do as you see fit, I think. That’s probably the only thing you can do it anyways. I think you know that though.”
“… I guess? Yeah. I see.”
“Well, my position is a little vague, you see. If you ask what I can do, well, I can’t really do anything. I say that I’ll help, but it doesn’t seem like I’ll be of any help. However, I’ll at least cheer you on. Always. That is at least certain.” So, she declared. She smiled brightly. “I’ll give up about the graduation trip. Have a safe trip. Be careful.”
Yuuki couldn’t imagine what or how far she has grasped of his situation. However, that’s always the case. Kurumi’s words gave him a strong push in the back. It was like the sun peeking through between the clouds, lighting the way with a with a bright light.
“Let’s do this. Put some effort into it!” Brushing of the hem of his pants, Yuuki stood up.
He wanted to hear her voice. The voice of the person that he decided to marry for the rest of his life.
With a rumbling sound, the door was opened—no, knocked down. The location was the furthest in the back of the Kanaruzawa mansion. Sekai’s personal room.
The room that hadn’t been opened now breathed in outside air for the first time in a while. It wasn’t just the room, but also for the owner of the room as well.
“… W-w-w-w-wha” While opening and closing her mouth, Sekai let out a scream. “What are you doing, Yuuki!?”
“It’s just as you see.” Yuuki spoke while stepping over the knocked down door. “Breaking down the door and forcefully entering. Sorry about this, having to do it this way and all. There isn’t that much time, you see.”
Sekai’s dazed off with her mouth open. It might be because she hadn’t yet caught up with the current situation. Or maybe it was because she couldn’t close her open mouth.
Not minding any of that, Yuuki walked towards her.
She was probably in the middle of changing. Sekai was standing in front of the mirror, in a state where her clothes were half worn.
Approaching her, he looked over Sekai’s appearance in more detail. From top to bottom, right to left. “Wait, Yuuki?” He took no care of Sekai’s blushing face. He looked over her until he was satisfied. And then, “Haaaah…”, he let out a sigh.
“That’s good.” He said. “You look fine. I’m relieved.”
“I’ve been worried. You wouldn’t meet with me at all, after all.”
Sekai’s expression was blank.
“… You.” Returning to the present, Sekai let out an astounded voice, “I’ve thought about this before, but you really are a little off. At least from the norm of things.”
“You could say that.” While admitting it, “Now, Sekai, this might be sudden, but I have a bit of a proposal.”
“Wait wait.” Sekai voice was even more astounded. “You’re quite the impatient man. There’s an order in which things should be done… rather, hasn’t there been various things that have happened between us? Do you plan on throwing all of that out? For me, I have my own thinking and my own reasons in not meeting with you, you see… and also, what happened to Chiyo? For you to have come all the way here, you would definitely have needed her to guide you. ”
“It’s fine.” Yuuki nodded, “The proposal, should be able to put all of that together and answer all of it. Will you hear me out?”
“… Alright.” Sekai also nodded, “Of course, I’ll listen. It’s a proposal by none other than you. Still, standing and talking isn’t great, why don’t we sit down and have some tea.”
“No.” Yuuki shook his head. “I don’t think we have the time for that. In truth, there isn’t that much time. Rather than there isn’t, it’s more like it would be a waste.”
“…Yuuki. What exactly are you…”
“In conclusion,” He stopped to take a breath, “Kanaruzawa. Let’s go on a date.”
She once again had a blank expression. Sekai checked outside the window to confirm. It was completely dark. Of course it was. The current time was already past midnight.
“Yeah. Right now.”
“…What time would we get back?”
“I wonder. It’s certain that it would become a really long date. A really really long date. And despite it being long, there isn’t any time to prepare, so it might be quite the sorry sort of date.”
“… Is that something you can really call a date?”
“That’s how I intend it to be. It’s a date that will last our whole life.”
“…” Sekai became silent. It seemed that she had figured it out. She stared stared at Yuuki. She stared at him and spoke with her eyes, “Are you serious?”
“I’m serious.” Yuuki replied with words. “Will you come with me?”
There wasn’t an immediate answer. Sekai looked downward and kept silent. It wasn’t possible to see her expression. However, Yuuki was able to imagine what kind of expression she had. Yuuki pressed her for all it was worth.
“I understand.” It wasn’t long, but it was made after deep thought. Sekai had made her conclusion. “I will go along with you. Leave everything to you. I’ll be in your care.”
He gave a short nod, and a short smile. His actions were fast. He immediately left the room with Sekai in tow.
“Yuuki, just one thing.” While obediently being pulled along, Sekai spoke quickly, “The opponent you are trying to make your enemy isn’t a normal one, you know? I’m sure you have your own preparations once you’ve reached this point, but—”
“It’s okay.” He firmly nodded, “I believe I understand. I’m devoting everything I have to this.”
“…Yeah. Of course. I asked something unnecessary.”
“I’m quite grateful to her though.” Yuuki smiled. “Chiyo-san is here for us. Having her as an ally sets me at ease. That person really can’t be underestimated.”
They left through the entrance. Within the dark, frozen night, a rugged lump of steel was waiting for them. Bike. CB 400. Yuuki’s ride.
“We’re getting on that?”
“Yeah. It’ll be cold, but please bear with it for a bit.”
He kicked the ignition.
The engine turned on in an instant. White smoke spewed out from the muffler. He then turned the accelerator, breathing life into the four-cylinder engine—but.
The hands that were putting on Sekai’s helmet stopped. It was truly night. Besides the sound of the engine, only their breathing could be heard. Although it was a quiet residential area, it was still in the middle of the city life. There should be more signs of life.
Without replying, Yuuki watched their surroundings. The mansion. Garden trees. Flowers and plants. Those were the only things that could be seen with their eyes. At first glance, there was nothing suspicious.
“It should have only been just a short while ago when I finally picked a fight with them. And yet, they’ve already completely smelled it out.”
Sekai noticed with those words it seemed, as she panicked and watched their surroundings as well. Yuuki gently nestled her closer to him.
It was just as Yuuki had muttered. Human shadow like things appeared. From between the gate pillars. From the bushes. From behind the garden tree. Four, five——six. Seven. Eight. It was still increasing. Left right front behind, as if to close them off.
“That’s quite something.” He unconsciously laughed.
The shadows were all covered in black. Each and every one of them were covered head to toe in a mantle. Among all that, only their faces were covered in a white mask. This as well was the same design for all of them. A mask with no expression or personality, like Noh mask.
“So it’s the Tsukumo organization?”
They were quite the energetic bunch. They were quite the villain. In such a situation, it was almost enough to make Yuuki laugh.
“It’s okay.” He spoke to Sekai, whose body had stiffened from nervousness. “As long as you’re by my side, they can’t do anything terrible. Sorry about using you as a shield, but thanks to you, we have a small advantage.”
“What are you going to do?” Sekai looked nervous. “Are you able to run away? They aren’t that easy to deal with, you know?”
“Will you be able to deal with this yourself?”
“I wonder. I probably wouldn’t be able to.”
In the meantime, the people in black closed in their circle. Yuuki was amazed. There were no gaps. For them, this should have been a sudden occurrence too. As expected of the Tsukumo organization, a fearfully large organization that controls the world. They should be praised.
“What do we do, Yuuki?” Going further, Sekai continued to speak, “If it’s now, you can still make it. If you obediently stop resisting and give me up, they probably won’t do anything rough to you.”
He ignored it, “Hey, Sekai.”
“Do you know why Chiyo-san is not here right now?” Yuuki was still composed. He checked the black-clad people with his sight, while trying to confirm the timing, “If I’m taking you and running away right now, then that person should be with us right now, right?”
“That’s true, but… now isn’t the time to be saying something like that…”
“Fights you see, are things you only start after making preparations to win. Well, I’m in trouble because I couldn’t afford making the preparations.”
“…Yuuki. I don’t understand what it is you are trying…”
“I know I was acting all big before, but the one who made preparations wasn’t me. Rather, Chiyo-san is really reliable. It would be a pain if she became an enemy though.”
Jiri. Jiri. The surrounding ring shrunk further. Slowly, but surely. As fast as possible, without making any mistakes—that was the intention which their movements conveyed.
“Sekai.” He faced his back towards her and asked, “Will you leave it to me? Everything, all of it.”
“Without any doubt.” An instant reply came back. She did have some anxiety, but she nodded firmly. “I trust you, and leave it to you. Until now, and from now on, forever.”
“Understood.” Yuuki smiled.
He couldn’t afford to respond.
“Please close your eyes and cover your ears. Open your mouth as well.” He whispered.
He couldn’t wait for an answer. Sekai had said, “I trust you, and leave it to you.” She would definitely listen to him. More than anything, he didn’t want them to sense the ‘trap’.
All of a sudden.
Light flooded the world. Breaking through the darkness, dying anything and everything in white. A tremendous amount of light. At the same time, a loud sound assaulted their ears.
It was only ten seconds of time.
The light disappeared, the sound disappeared—in the darkness that had once again returned, Yuuki and Sekai were nowhere to be found.
—Yuuki was not the one who had set up the flash beforehand.
“It was all just as Chiyo-san had foreseen.” Yuuki explained through the wireless connection in the helmets. “To be surrounded by the Tsukumo organization at that place, and at that timing, Chiyo-san had predicted all of that beforehand. Not only did she predict it, she came up with plans against it. It was enough for us to just stand there. No really, she isn’t someone I want to make my enemy.”
The middle of winter. Dead of night on the highway. The CB400 sped along the loosely winding mountain road.
“How long have you been planning this?” Sekai straddled the back of the bike, firmly grabbing Yuuki’s torso. “With something so clever, this probably wasn’t something that was thought of yesterday or today. It was probably something that took a long time to plan.”
“I would think so.” Yuuki nodded, “Well, frankly speaking, I didn’t do much. Rather, I was only being helped.”
“Then, it was all Chiyo?”
“Yeah. It was all prepared by that person.” Yuuki spoke about her in wonder. “She showed me the scenario that she had devised. It could only be summarized with one word, amazing. It incorporated all sorts of situations, to the point where I would wonder if that was necessary. I could only say that I was completely outdone.”
“I see. So Chiyo did something like that…”
“Most likely, she’s been planning for a while. Quite a long time. All by herself.”
He wondered exactly how lonely and laborious task was. If it was written down, the plan would have taken up multiple dictionaries worth, and it seems that it was all thought of by the maid. Without borrowing anyone’s power.
(I guess I would be the first one.)
The first one who she had revealed her plan to. And most likely, Yuuki would be the last one. A strategy will not succeed unless kept secret—Chiyo was trying to act upon that principle as much as possible. Yuuki, Sekai, Chiyo. With just these three people, they were trying to spit in the face of the world. Since he was trusted and entrusted with so much, he needed to make sure to respond.
“In terms of what we are supposed to do after this, Chiyo-san has given me all of the scenarios necessary.” He twisted the handle and turned their course westward. “In general, we just have to follow it. It’s planned out many years into the future, so it should be fine.”
“What about Chiyo? What is she doing and where?”
“That person is acting separately. In order for us to escape, she’s acting as a decoy. She’s supposed to meet up with us sometime in the future, but that’s something for later. Well, it should be alright, that person isn’t normal after all.”
“That’s true, she really isn’t normal… Still, alone is as expected…”
“Hey, Sekai.” Yuuki smiled, “It’s okay. Chiyo-san, just like me, wouldn’t pick a fight that she can’t win. You don’t have to believe in me. Just believe in her. That person is seriously thinking of you. She’s risking her life trying to do this for you.”
“Ah, of course, you should still trust in me though? I haven’t known you for as long as Chiyo-san, but I’m still your husband, okay? I would risk my life for you, no joke.”
“Sekai, you are now free.” He declared firmly. “You’re now leaving that mansion, freed from your duties. Chiyo-san and I will do something about the people chasing after us. You can already do whatever you want.”
“That’s why you should enjoy it. The current situation. The freedom. You have the right to do that. You’ve been working on a big job all alone.”
Sekai seemed lost. It’s understandable. Until just a year ago, she was a bona fide princess in a locked tower. All by herself, without any complaints, she continued maintaining this world, while sacrificing her own body. That, to her, was her existence.
Right now, a limitless amount of possibilities is opening up in front of her. She can go anywhere. She can do anything. As long as they can dodge the people chasing from the Tsukumo organization, Kanaruzawa Sekai can live like a normal person.
Of course, there would be hesitation, but.
“I understand.” He felt her nodding behind him. “Thank you, Yuuki. Also, I need to thank Chiyo. I’ll believe in you guys. Let’s go and see how far we can go. Let’s try and do what we can. I’ll be in your care.”
“Yeah. Leave it to me.” Yuuki received it with simple words.
The CB 400 reacted nimbly as the accelerator was turned. Along the sparsely populated highway, they headed west.