The road along the way was not easy.
Just as it was feeling too cold, snow began to fall, and their escape was forced to slow down. They took many breaks.
At an out of the way vending machine, they bought a canned coffee. Their measures against the cold were quite substantial, but it was still chilly. The warm can of coffee soaked into the core of their trembling bodies. It was a flavor that could assert itself as the best liquid they ever had.
There were also a lot of fun incidents.
It was quite late at night, but the scenery that flew by was new and refreshing. The dark and quiet mountainside. The winding and groaning river. The splashing sea——
Partway through, their excitement had also gotten the better of them, as they began having fun on the bike. Of course, there was a limit to how much fun they could have. Even so, the driver of the car that was cruising along beside them had made a startled expression, before fluttering away into the distance.
Of course, there was also nervousness.
At the time of their flight, Chiyo should have set off multiple dummies and decoys. At this stage, the maid hadn’t been caught by the Tsukumo organization and was still standing. Still, if they were discovered, everything would be over at that moment. It was a competition where one mistake would cost them everything. Yuuki wasn’t as confident as he showed himself to be.
However, next morning, at the break of dawn.
After traveling over a hundred kilometers, a fishing boat that was prepared beforehand was moored in front of them.
Blending in with the ships that were heading out, the two of them got on and headed out into the dark sea.
The heat that was stolen by the long journey was recovered by the warm miso soup that the old boatman made. While snuggling together, Yuuki and Sekai tasted the warm liquid.
“It tastes good.”
“Yeah. It’s good.”
Slowly and steadily the two of them slurped on the miso soup.
As it was now in season, the fishing boats spread out into the sea, black enough that it seemed as if someone had spilled black ink into it.
The snow had already stopped.
The spray splashed against the prow of the ship as it danced against the waves. The scent of salt would tickle their noses every time. The heavy smell of oil from the engine. The eastern sky was beginning to brighten.
While trying to keep her eyelids open, Sekai entrusted her body to Yuuki’s shoulder.
Most likely, he would never forget this scene.
Eventually, the boat arrived at a certain island. It was a small deserted island that didn’t even have a perimeter of 1000 meters.
A sandy beach extended beyond the decaying pier. Further beyond, a small hut with a collapsed roof that no one was living in anymore could be seen. Within the hut, there were various supplies that were prepared beforehand. Tents and sleeping bags, cooking utensils. A numerous amount of clothes. An ample amount of food and water.
“Fufu. Your preparations are quite good, Yuuki.”
“Chiyo-san’s, that is. I didn’t do much after all.”
After having Sekai, tired from the long journey, enter the sleeping bag, he began to gather firewood and start a fire.
The bonfire burned brightly. He put water in a pot and placed it above the fire.
A thin voice could be heard from the sleeping bag.
“Yeah. I’m boiling some water right now. I’ll get you some nice coffee to drink. It’ll be better than that coffee we bought at the vending machine, you know? Or do you maybe want to drink something like the miso soup we had earlier? We have some instant packages so I can quickly make some as well.”
“Be quiet and sleep. It’s fine to just take it easy and rest.”
Sekai became quiet.
Yuuki didn’t turn to face in her direction.
“Three to four months at the very least. If it goes longer, half a year.” Yuuki spoke while taking care of the fire. “It’s at least been made so that we can live here for that long. It’s okay.”
“… Yeah. That’s right.”
“Other than here, there are a bunch of other hideouts that can be prepared. If it comes to it, we can move there. The surroundings of this island, and even in the port town from earlier, surveillance is being done. If something doesn’t look right, we’ll know in an instant.”
“Yeah. That’s right.”
“After the people from the Tsukumo organization can’t find us, and eventually get stuck——That’s when things become real, you know? They’ll fly across the sea and block off those routes so it’s probably impossible for us right now.”
“Once we get out of Japan, we’ll have everything to ourselves. They wouldn’t be able to catch us easily. This time it would be true freedom. Oh, and there isn’t any reason for you to worry about how we’ll live. We do have money, and there are also hideouts prepared on the other side.”
The dry firewood popped as it burned.
“Once we have some space, we’ll head out on a trip. It’ll soon be where we can go anywhere we want. You’ve done your best for a long time now so it’s okay to take a bit of a reward for yourself. It can be a bike trip like one we had today, or anything else is fine too. Anyways, we should go somewhere. Let’s do that for sure.”
He opened the lid to the instant coffee. He broke the seal to the instant miso soup package.
“It’s also fun to go around various places on a bus, you know? You can’t go very far, but in return, you get to experience all the little details. A train is fine too. A so called, on the rails trip. I somewhat admire those. Getting on a sleeper train and then watching the scenery pass by the window as you eat a meal in the food car. When I see it on television, everything looks amazing?”
He also cut open the green tea packaging. He even poured into a cup the whiskey that was prepared for the goddess.
“Let’s also go to the beach. Today, all we could see was a completely dark ocean. So, let’s go down south more, to a prettier beach. It’s really nice you know? It’s the so-called emerald blue see. Blue skies and white clouds, with sandy beaches of pure white. The ocean above the coral reef also has a stupid amount of fish swim—”
“Yuuki.” Sekai cut him off with just one line. “Yuuki. I have a request. Would you hear me out?”
“… Yeah.” Yuuki stopped his hands. He swallowed with a gulp. Without turning around and with his back continuing to face her, Yuuki responded. “What do you mean by request? I’m sorry, but can you not ask something weird? I might not do it if you ask something weird.”
“Something weird, like what?”
“No, well. Umm. You know, various things.”
“… You really are a weird guy.”
Sekai seemed to laugh from behind his back.
Yuuki had an ominous feeling. What that actually was, he did not know. However, he really didn’t like it. It felt like he’s seen this situation before. No, that he experienced this situation before.
“There is nothing else that I want to ask of you other than this.” Sekai spoke with a mysterious voice.
“Yeah.” While holding down the trembling in his voice, Yuuki answered back, preparing himself for the worst. “Say it, anything. If it’s you asking, I’ll listen to whatever. I’ll grant you whatever you want. Even if I need to exchange my life for it.”
It was a weird determination. And that determination was rewarded in an unexpected way.
A sound went off.
He doubted his ears.
It was the sound of someone unable to hold back laughter—there was no nervousness at all—
“Yuuki. You really are a weird guy. I was just going to ask, ‘I’m a little bit tired, can I sleep for a bit?’ and yet you seem to be preparing yourself for something big.”
“For me, this is the first time I’ve had such a long trip. Moreover, it’s the middle of winter and we were on a bike together with just the two of us the whole time, you know? Adding on to that, I hadn’t even prepared myself for any of this. To be honest, it’s no wonder I would be tired.”
“Y-yeah. Well, yeah. That’s… true. Yeah.”
“Even now, my eyelids… are becoming… heavier…”
Her lines became faint near the end.
As Yuuki panicked and turned around, Sekai spoke while holding off a yawn, “Sorry, Yuuki. It’s my limit. I’ll leave… the rest…”
“Hey! Wait, wait a minute!”
“Munuu… I’ll apologize to you later…”
“You don’t need to apologize. That’s not necessary. Not that.” He asked fearfully, “Going to sleep, and never waking up like that. It won’t be like that, right…?”
There was no response. What came back in return was just silence. Sekai was wrapped up in the sleeping bag with her eyes closed.
It was just before the sun rose. Within the dim light of the campfire, the young girl’s face seemed ghastly pale.
“… Nonono. It can’t be. There’s no way that…”
He gulped down his saliva. His back covered in sweat. He felt a sense of déjà vu flash into his mind. With shaking hands, he placed his hand on Sekai’s face in order to confirm her breathing when—
“She’s not dead.”
A voice. It came from behind him.
“Or did you intend to attack her while she was sleeping? If that’s the case, you’ll have to excuse me for interrupting you.”
After he turned around, he found her in her maid clothes. The composed voice and attitude. It was Chiyo.
“W-when did you get there? There wasn’t anyone until—”
“I tend to appear unexpectedly a lot.” While brazenly bragging about herself, she continued, “Thanks for your hard work. We have made it to this point. The first step is considered a success.”
“Ah, yes. Thanks. I was somehow able to do it.”
“My mistress is definitely still alive. There’s no way I would let her die at this point.”
Being told that, Yuuki made his confirmations. Breathing is okay. Pulse is normal. Her complexion doesn’t look that great, but she’s alive. There was no problem.
He made a loud sigh as he collapsed. He felt a sweat of relief, and inhaled in air as if to devour it.
“First, please rest.” Chiyo gave her recommendation as she sat down by the campfire. “Not to mention my mistress, Yuuki-sama also seems to be very tired. It would be better to first rest your body in order to build up energy.”
“The Tsukumo organization has yet to notice this location.” She spoke while preparing to make tea, “Still, I don’t have any guarantee that it will continue to go unnoticed. I’ve already played my hand, so I believe it will be okay, but it would be bad if your movements were to be slow in case of an emergency. Please do not hesitate to rest.”
“But, what about Chiyo-san? Aren’t you more tired than me?”
“I’m fine. Please do not worry about me.”
“No no. I can’t do that. You were the one who was directly involved in hindering the movements of the organization. You were the one that—”
“It’s fine.” Chiyo smiled, “I’m not human after all.”
She made that confession in a light manner, but it couldn’t be taken as a joke at all. Rather, he could only think of it as something natural. A non-human person has a non-human servant. It would be weirder if that were not the case.
“Here.” Chiyo poured tea into a paper cup and held it out, “This will calm both your heart and body. Have a cup.”
“Ah. Yes. Thank you.” Yuuki subconsciously accepted it.
It was seemingly sweet, bitter, and sour. A complicated, yet nice smell wafted towards his nose. A type of herbal tea it seems. He tried taking a sip. It was good.
A warmth spread throughout his body. His body that was stiff from nervousness became undone, and at the same time, the exhaustion that had accumulated overflowed.
“Good night.” Chiyo spoke while giving off a gentle smile. “Have a nice dream. You deserve it.”
He couldn’t hear until the end. As if it was in exchange for the sun beginning to come out, Yuuki fell into a deep sleep.
The popping sound of the firewood continued to ring out.
… Speaking from results, Chiyo’s report was correct. The first step was a success. It can definitely be expressed in that way.
“As of yet, the Tsukumo organization has not yet caught on to our footsteps.” She proclaimed with confidence.
That seems to be the conclusion that she had drawn after carefully analyzing the information she received from the network that she had meticulously established over a long time.
In truth, there were no pursuers that appeared at the island. At the beginning, Yuuki did not release his nervousness, and continued to stay alert. However, after a few days, he calmed down. It should be obvious as it was deserted, but the island was the definition of peaceful. Let alone pursuers, there wasn’t even a single person that came to visit from outside.
More than anything, Chiyo was full of confidence. She didn’t make her declaration without any basis after all, and so, Yuuki was finally able to relax soon after. In the first place, this whole escape plan was designed by Chiyo, and Yuuki was only taken along for the ride. If her judgement fails, then this plan has no future anyways.
For a short period of time, Yuuki and Sekai lived on the island. Quietly, with subdued breaths. It was as if they were the only two people left in the universe.
“What is it, Yuuki?”
“I don’t intend to act conceited, but it’s really boring.”
“Yeah. Well, I guess so.”
While sitting side by side on a cape overlooking the sea, Yuuki and Sekai passed time by watching ships floating in the distance. Day after day after day.
They should hide any signs to make as if they didn’t exist—that was what Chiyo directed them to do. It was something obvious and they could accept it. Still, they couldn’t help feeling restless. Boredom can really kill someone.
However, it wasn’t that they didn’t feel satisfied. The days of living while consuming food from their supplies were definitely not bad. Nothing occurred, nothing to do, just peaceful calm days out at sea.
For Kanaruzawa Sekai, it was probably a refreshing time. For Yuuki, it gave him a sense of accomplishment.
His precious person was no longer a goddess. It’s far from complete freedom, but she was freed from her unreasonable “duty”. Food, clothing, and shelter were all sufficient.
Isn’t happiness basically what they have right now?
On one hand, Chiyo was very busy. It was rare for her to show up at the island, as she continued to seem as if she was rushing from one place to another.
Exactly where is she going and what is she doing?
He did try asking, but there wasn’t a response. Even if he asked if there was anything he could help with, all she did was laugh it off. Please be by my mistress’s side. For every minute and every second that goes on. That is something that only you can do—is what Chiyo insisted on.
“As such, Yuuki-sama. Please continue to relax and maintain your energy.”
“Haah, well, I guess if you tell me to do that I will.”
“Is there something you’re unsatisfied with?”
“It’s not that I’m dissatisfied. I’m more apologetic so to speak. I feel like I was only of use during the very beginning.”
“There is no issue. Even right now you are of enough use.”
“But still, compared to you, aren’t I taking things easy? It feels somewhat unfair. That part of it just really stands out to me.”
“That isn’t a problem.” Chiyo smiled, “In the first place, I’ve been making my own moves, in order to make it so that you may take things easy.”
“Haah. I see.”
“Something done for the sake of you, is also done for the sake of my mistress. In other words, making it easier and more enjoyable for you, means making it easier and more enjoyable for my mistress. Do you understand?”
“Haaah, well, yeah. Probably.”
“Rather, I am very satisfied right now. My everyday life is currently very fulfilling. ”
“Is that so? I feel like you have it really rough every day though.”
“Of course, things are quite hectic, but this is nothing more than what it used to be. Compared to the time when my mistress was forced to carry heavy responsibility without much support.”
Saying that, Chiyo looked off into the distance. While calling herself not human, and also being a maid that really didn’t seem human, she, at that moment, looked strangely human.
There wasn’t anything weird about it. With her long history with Kanaruzawa Sekai, there were probably various things that occurred. Hidden behind her iron wall of a smile were various past experiences and emotions.
“However, all of that has been blown away.” She said. “What must be done has been decided. There is only one way to proceed. All that is left is devoting my all to it. There is nothing more satisfying than this.”
During this time, it could be said that Yuuki had no chance to contact the outside world. Newspaper and other paper media, radio or television, and the internet as well, he was completely isolated from any source of information. Every increase in contact with the outside world, is an increase in chance to be caught within the Tsukumo organization net. Even without being warned by Chiyu, Yuuki’s only path was to quietly wait for time to pass.
“Sorry about this, Yuuki.” Sekai apologetically looked downwards. “I’ve really forced you into a lot of hardship. To live like this doing nothing, has got to be boring.”
“Don’t worry about it. This is nothing compared to what you’ve had to do all the way until now.”
“Still, don’t you have family? Yet, you haven’t even been able to contact your sister.”
“Well, about that. It can’t be helped I guess. That’s the kind of path that I chose after all.”
“But Yuuki, I——”
“I keep telling you. It’s fine, really.” Speaking strongly, I tousled Sekai’s hair a bit, “I don’t intend to be naïve when I say this, but I knew what I was getting into when I chose to follow you.”
While looking down, she seemed to be searching for words to say.
Yuuki opened his mouth to speak further, “It’s okay. As long as I’m alive, I’ll meet her again someday. Well, I will probably be scolded by my sister the next time I see her, but I’ll manage.”
“You’ll manage, how?”
“I’ll bow down and apologize” He spoke confidently. “I am aware that I did something bad to her. In the first place, I’ve already troubled her way too much. When I mean bow down, I’m talking about prostrating. I’ll make sure my whole body is stuck to the ground. If I don’t do that when I apologize she’ll probably hound me to no end after all. No, but man, thinking about the future at this point in time. Really, what am I going to do…?”
Yuuki groaned while scratching his head.
Seeing him like that, Sekai finally smiled a little bit.
Nonetheless, it’s not like everything proceeded smoothly. After all, it’s been less than one year since he’s met Kanaruzawa Sekai. Living with her, basically meant that he was with her all the time.
Of course, this was something that they have never experienced before.
Moreover, they were alone. Going further, it was a deserted island.
“This is something serious.” Yuuki brought up the conversation. “What should we do?”
“What should we do? What do you mean?” Sekai tilted her head.
It didn’t seem like she was doing it on purpose. She honestly didn’t notice. Of course, Yuuki also understands. That his partner was not the type to really read in between the lines.
“Ummm, you see. We’re basically alone on this island together.”
“Yeah. That’s right.”
“It’s a little different from being under one roof, and we aren’t exactly sleeping in the same bed. We’re just really close.”
“That’s right. What of it?”
“Well, in other words,” She’s more innocent than he thought. Crossing his arms, Yuuki tilted his head while trying to find the right words. “You know. I’m a guy.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“I’m healthy, and also young. A high schooler as well.”
“Yeah. I know that as well.”
“Moreover, I was the one who proposed, and you were the one that accepted it. We haven’t had an official wedding, but we’re basically legitimate husband and wife.”
“Yeah. That is exactly right.”
“And, we’re alone. On this island.”
“You said that earlier as well.”
This bastard, Yuuki moaned. Fine then. If she’s this dense, then it can’t be helped. Let’s give her the straight up truth, how about it?
“In your married life, what do you do? That’s what I was thinking of. Especially at night.”
“… Married life.”
“That’s right. Married life.”
“… At night?”
“Yeah. At night.”
Sekai made a puzzled face. Then, she started to frown, and pursed her lips making it look like a duck. It seems that she’s thinking about something.
“Well, even if it’s not at night. It’s something like physical contact between an intimate male and female. I think it’s hard to avoid that kind of thing.”
There was no response.
When Yuuki peeked at her face, Sekai was still frowning and pursing her lips to look like that of a duck.
Gradually, her cheeks dyed crimson. It wasn’t just her cheeks, but her forehead and neck as well. Even her scalp.
She faced her back towards him. Covered her face with both hands. She crouched down just like that.
“That’s so embarrassing.” Her voice was on the verge of crying. “I didn’t think about it at all… Nothing of that sort… I only thought of myself, only myself… gusu.”
“Wait. You don’t need to cry like that.”
“For me to make you have to say it out loud. I’m a total failure. I have failed as your wife. Why haven’t I noticed until now…? It is natural for a young man to have a huge sexual desire. For me to not take that into account…”
“No, wait, it’s not like it’s huge or anything.”
“Yuuki!” She stood up with teary eyes and spoke with force, “I’m sorry for making you wait! Now, let us start right this instant! Our life as a couple!”
“No, wait. Why are you taking things to such an extreme—Just wait a moment, wait, there’s no need to take off your clothes! Put them back on!”
Yuuki began explaining. That there’s a certain timing to things. That there’s no need to be in a hurry. That it’s untrue to assume that he is filled with lust. Etc. etc. It took quite a bit of time.
(This is completely like a romantic comedy.)
He was finally able to convince her somehow and set things straight.
Yuuki thought while letting out a sigh and a dry laugh at the same time.
After running away from the will of the world, and rebelling against the Tsukumo organization, is it really alright to be so relaxed in this moment?
Of course, it’s alright.
Rather, it has to turn into a romantic comedy. After bringing Kanaruzawa Sekai this far, it has to be so. If not that, for what reason would he have had to take that risk?
Rather, it’s a matter of fact. It’s the same as saying that you must breathe in order to live. To make it so that they could have such a foolish conversation. That’s the direction he must move in.
This time, he has to win.
After a few weeks passed while living on the island, there was a change in their situation.
“We will be leaving.” Chiyo, who had returned from the outside world, suddenly declared. “Within the day, we will move out from here. Please prepare for it.”
It was quite sudden. Yuuki and Sekai were busy playing games to pass the time, and had frozen in the middle of the game after hearing the declaration.
“It’s earlier than planned.” The first to open his mouth was Yuuki. “Isn’t it quite a lot earlier? Wasn’t the plan to stay here for at least half a year?”
“It’s as you say.”
“Which means, it’s the Tsukumo organization?”
“Yes. It seems that they have discovered this location.”
It’s as he thought. Yuuki clicked his tongue within himself. Even though they thought they had pulled the wool over their eyes, as expected, they weren’t a naïve opponent. He had dreamed of a possibility that they wouldn’t be caught here, but a dream was still a dream. You have to wake up eventually.
“Please stay at ease. Various preparations have already been made.” With a calm voice, Chiyo relieved their fears. “The method of leaving this place, and also the places to stay after leaving, all of that has been prepared. There shouldn’t be any reason for blunder at this point.”
“As expected. Then, what exactly is the route that we will be taking?”
“Take your pick. By land, by sea, or by air, all variations have been prepared. Unfortunately, it can’t be considered first class though.”
“Which one seems the safest?”
“Eventually, the risk ends up being similar. Every possible measure has been taken to ensure safety, however, you should know that wherever you go, I will protect the two of you with all my power.”
“Which means that we can pick any one?”
“That’s how it is.”
Yuuki and Chiyo looked in the same direction at the same time.
Sekai rapidly blinked her eyes, “…Me?”
“Yeah.” Yuuki nodded, “You choose. Which route, where we go, and what we do.”
“Is that alright for me to choose?”
“Of course, rather, I want you to pick. You’re the protagonist.”
Being told that, Sekai fell deep into thought. She was serious. At the same time, it seemed that she had already thought of something. What she was thinking of, was probably how she could express it.
“… I don’t care about what route we take or where we go.” After taking a moment, she spoke hesitatingly, “However, is it alright for me to be selfish about one thing? It’s a favor, a dream, or rather a wish. Something along those lines.”
“Of course.” Yuuki promised. “Say anything you want. In order to be free, you left, and yet so far you’ve only been like a mole hiding underground. You have to do what you want to do.”
“Thank you.” Sekai smiled. Then, she spoke with a voice filled with embarrassment and hesitation, “I want to try wearing a dress.”
“It doesn’t have to be something expensive. Just one that’s pure white, light and covered with lace and frills. In other words, I want to wear a wedding dress—and after that, I want to walk beside Yuuki. What do you think? Is that possible?”