Kanaruzawa Sekai stopped going to school as the rainy season ended, and summer arrived.
“Does the Tsukumo organization ring a bell?”
Towards that question, her brother shook her head in response, Kirishima Haruko breathed a sigh of relief.
(That’s one thing less to worry about.)
If their reach has not extended that far, then it would be good. If something dangerous were to happen to the brother that she was trying to protect, then it would be putting the cart before the horse.
It was at the start of April. Haruko had thoroughly investigated that white-haired woman that transferred into Murakumo Private High School.
At first, she thought of her lightly. There were numerous women around her brother, Kirishima Yuuki. It was just a matter of time before the new girl joined in. She held pride in that. As long as threats were used, or money were to be thrown, any problem could be solved — that was how she expected it to work out.
(I guess this shows that I still haven’t gotten enough training.)
Within the Kirishima family garden, underneath the shadows, Haruko reflected as she read the report laid out on the table. The A4 size file contained a report detailing how little information there was on the woman called Kanaruzawa Sekai, and the dangers of the Tsukumo organization.
(This really makes my head hurt.)
While furrowing her eyebrows, the 6th year elementary schooler breathed a sigh. How far should she go after accidentally stepping on the landmine. Kirishima Haruko was still undecided on that matter.
“…As such, Onii-sama. Please stop associating yourself with that white-haired woman.”
The older brother’s reply was adamant.
“I’m a class representative, and she’s a classmate. Isn’t it normal for me to look after her? No one can complain about that.”
“That might be true, but…”
Haruko puffed out her cheeks, but Yuuki paid no attention to it. They were practicing in silence within the Kirishima family’s dojo, both of them sweating.
“But, but Onii-sama,” Still, Haruko couldn’t let it go, “That person, Kanaruzawa Sekai, is definitely not a normal person. That should be something Onii-sama should know. If that’s the case, then, wouldn’t it be alright to be a little bit more careful with certain things?”
“I’m being careful.” Sitting down, Yuuki took some slow deep breaths. “That person really stands out and she has no experience at all living in a normal society. Being able to go to school normally and fit in, it’ll take a lot of time. That’s why I intend to do more for her. I even got Koiwai-san to help me out.”
“No, Onii-sama. That isn’t the problem…”
“Ah, I should say this as well. Don’t do it again, okay, Haruko? Don’t hide her shoes, spread rumors and make everyone around her an enemy, don’t do any of that again, okay? I’ll forgive you the first time, but if it’s the second time, your Onii-chan won’t forgive you again.”
Haruko made a sigh.
It was this. Her brother was completely blind when it comes to that white-haired woman. He was originally supposed to be smart, but after falling in love he has become troublesome.
That’s right, love.
What a terrible word!
Of all things, Yuuki Onii-sama had to fall in love with some white-haired woman of doubtful origin. Where has the world come to now? Only that warm feeling between siblings should be called love.
(Well, this can’t be helped anymore. Onii-sama is too lax about these things.)
That was because Haruko hadn’t told him everything.
She did not tell her brother about what type of organization the Tsukumo organization was, neither could she tell him that it was a group that you should never be involved with. Rather than trying to explain that to him, the name of the organization was not even mentioned since that day. It was as if it was a cursed word.
“Well then, Haruko.” Taking a breath, Yuuki faced her with a smile. “Will you accompany me for a bit?”
Haruko stood up with a rustle. Like Yuuki, she was also dressed in a dougi.
Their training together began.
They had slow and steady movements. Japanese martial arts and Chinese martial arts, two different types of martial arts flowed together. Rather than martial arts, it seemed like a pair of dancers, without a glimpse or fragment of the flashiness involved in normal martial arts.
“Seems like you’ve improved in the short time I haven’t watched you.”
“You too, Onii-sama. Your movements are unreasonable and reckless like always.”
Her older brother was straightforward. Unlike Haruko, who was taught by a skilled master, Yuuki was self-taught. He had no choice but to do that. The innate qualities that Yuuki was born with didn’t really match any existing schools or theories, and so many teachers gave up on him. You must walk your own path, there is no other way, I have nothing to teach you, they would say.
(It’s a problem of him being too strong.)
Although because of that, she could feel a little bit relieved. Even if the Tsukumo organization were to play their hand against her brother and send 5 or 10 people at him, there was no problem. If it was only to that degree, then the problem would be easily concluded. If they would aim for his life, then that would be even better. Since he wouldn’t need to hold back at that point.
In other words, Kirishima Yuuki’s strength was that sort of strength.
Really, it was such a weird talent. If it had to be said, it was as if he skipped steps within the evolution process. Or maybe, it was outside of the human logic—
“You’re one to talk, Haruko.” Laughing, Yuuki pointed his finger at her. “You’ve been matching up normally against more for all this time, where even an adult would have trouble. Are you really still an elementary schooler?”
“It isn’t anything weird.” Haruko bragged. “Onii-sama’s lovely little sister can do anything.”
“… You really don’t fall do you.”
After finishing their practice, they bow to each other.
“Anyways,” While wiping of his sweat, her brother made a bitter smile, “It would be nice if you could overlook this just this time.”
“… In other words,” Haruko made an eerie voice, “You have no intention of stopping your involvement with that white-haired woman?”
“Yeah, well.” Yuuki scratched his head. “You’ve been trying to tell me to stop. I know that you have your reasons for that. But I can’t just this time, okay?”
“When it came to Koiwai-san, Onii-sama also said the same thing.”
“Koiwai-san wasn’t a dangerous person, right? Didn’t you say it? That you did your research and nothing suspicious came up?”
“That’s true, but…” Haruko pursed her lips.
Yuuki became more forceful, “I feel like I can’t back off here. I somehow have that weird feeling. I don’t know why I feel that way, but I want to stay by Kanaruzawa Sekai’s side. I don’t want to leave her be.”
“Are you really that interested in that white-haired woman? Somehow, it seems as if you would propose to her at any moment.”
“Nono. No way. There’s no way that’s possible. Yeah.”
“Well, at the very least, it isn’t wrong to say that you care a looooooot about her.”
“Yeah. I’ll admit to that one.”
“Don’t get mad.”
“No, I am mad. I treat Onii-sama so well. I even listen to everything that you say. Even for something like this practice, I accompany you in it. And yet…”
With tearful eyes, his little sister raised her eyebrows, prompting Yuuki’s troubled expression, “Alright, I got it. I’ll give you a reward.”
“For today, I’ll do anything that Haruko asks of me. It’s a Super Special Spoiling Day. Well, how about it? Is it fine with this?”
“Super Special Spoiling Day…” The light returned to Haruko’s eyes. “Is that for real?”
“You’ll do anything?”
“Will you pat my head?”
“Will you hold me tight?”
“Will you feed me when we’re eating?”
“If Haruko wants that.”
“Will you even take a bath with me?”
“I would consider that positively, I believe.”
“Will you sleep in the same bed with me?”
“Rather, that was something I was going to ask.”
“Will you marry me?”
“I can’t do that one.”
It was an immediate response. Haruko pouted. However, she couldn’t hide that her mood improved.
“Please let me rely on you.” Yuuki bowed his head down. “I can only rely on you at times like this. I’m sorry for being such a selfish brother, but I hope to continue to ask you for help in the future.”
“… I guess it can’t be helped.” Haruko made a bitter smile. Going by the flow, she probably wasn’t going to say no. “Until now and also in the future, Haruko will always be Onii-sama’s Haruko. That’s why, feel free to ask anything, okay? I’ll listen to anything. For Onii-sama’s sake, I’ll devote everything I can for it.”
She hit her chest with her hand, and beat it with good faith.
… That’s right.
She didn’t explain it to him.
In her investigation of Karnaruzawa Sekai’s surroundings, five people had already gone missing. Her brother had not yet touched his hand upon the Tsukumo organization, but Haruko already had.
(Really, it makes my head hurt…)
While furrowing her eyebrows, the sixth grade elementary schooler made a sigh. What kind of distance should she take, with the landmine that she had already accidentally stepped on? Kirishima Haruko still hadn’t decided yet.
On the other side of things, there was Yuuki. Him being him, he couldn’t just stand by quietly and watch things from the side. He did feel something suspicious about his little sister’s behavior, and of course, he was properly thinking of possible countermeasures. But that was the limit of what he could do to hold back.
(I wonder what happened to my proposal…)
That day in the infirmary. That was the last time Kanaruzawa Sekai came to school.
He asked for her hand in marriage. To Yuuki, it seemed pretty natural, but if it was any other person they would think of it as unnatural. It was as if he just happened to blurt it out. “Kanaruzawa Sekai-san, will you please marry me?”
(Man… I guess that was a little…)
It was something that took a lot of guts for Yuuki, but he still let out a dry laugh. Why did he say something like that?
(If I’m going to do it, I should do it better. Without properly getting a yes, or even taking the proper steps, it can’t be right. Really, it was such a miss.)
If his little sister were to hear about it she would feel ashamed of him. The fact that he proposed though, was not something that he regretted.
I mean, isn’t that just how it is? He would think.
Being so beautiful with such nice style, stirring up someone’s protective instincts with her small animal like nature, having so much self-confidence despite being a crybaby, and being so emotionally rich and showing so many expressions, is there anyone out there that wouldn’t fall in love with her. Adding on to that, she stood up for Yuuki. She boldly proclaimed that she wouldn’t forgive anyone that insulted her friend. She did that all, even though she herself was in a worse position than Yuuki.
Is there a better partner in this world, to ask for their hand in marriage? Of course not on earth, but even if you were to search the edges of the universe, you would not find one.
That’s right. He didn’t regret proposing.
That was unmistakably how he truly felt.
The maid was blunt today as well.
It was the last day of August. The entrance to Kanaruzawa Sekai’s house was burnt under the sun that knew no mercy. It was insanely hot.
“No matter how many times you come, it’ll be the same. I do not intend to let you meet with my mistress.”
“Please give a little there. I haven’t been able to see her ever since July.”
“It’s currently summer break. Isn’t it normal for you to not meet face to face with another classmate?”
“Nono. I’m quite close with her, so could you please?”
“Come on, don’t say that.”
Today’s conversation continued on like it usually did. Just like it did on a previous day, and the day after that, and the day after that one. It had become a daily routine for both Yuuki and Chiyo.
“I’ve probably already said this 100 times now.” The maid’s smile didn’t crumble, as she lightly repeated herself. “As you know, my mistress isn’t exactly the healthiest person. Both in her body and her heart.”
“Yeah, I know. I know that.”
“Moreover, her personality is overly shy.”
“About that, yeah. Of course, I also know that.”
“And yet, you, without any thought, in a sudden outburst, without any preparation at all, and nothing leading up to it, you decided to brazenly propose to her.”
“Ah, well. Sorry about that. That as well, yeah…”
“In other words, it’s all your fault.”
“It’s just as you say.”
“As such, please leave.”
The cicadas continued to cry out. Mosquitoes sucked on both of his arms. The sweat continued to pour out, with the wind not helping even a bit.
“How can I get you to understand?” Chiyo made a slight smile as she tilted her head. With the long skirted and long sleeved maid clothes, you would expect her to be insanely hot, but her face didn’t have a single drop of sweat. “Everytime. Everytime, I try like this, as kindly as possible to greet you at the door. Yet, every day, without any change, you appear again and again.”
“Well, yeah. Sorry about that.”
“Is it possible that what I’m saying isn’t getting through to you?”
“No, it has been getting through. But if still, if you could please help out there…”
“I’m sorry but I cannot.”
“But if I continue to come, maybe something will change. Maybe.”
“You’re stuck repeating this again.”
“That’s right. So if it’s stuck in a loop, don’t you just want to try and change reality? So I thought I’d give it a shot.”
Chiyo fell silent. Her smile staying the same. Yuuki also fell silent, with his fake smile. The cicadas cried out. Mosquitos landed on his neck.
“Normally,” Yuuki once again opened his mouth, “You would have stopped talking to me and chased me out by now.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It would almost be like me dribbling a soccer ball.”
“Rather, you’re quite strong, Chiyo-san. It’s not at the level of just self-defense.”
“Nono. Not at all.”
“Nono. I know just by looking. I’d like to say that I’m a good judge for something like this.”
“Nono. You probably just have bad eyes.”
“Well, leaving that aside,” Yuuki stopped his fake smile, “Why didn’t you just chase me away without a single word? Maybe, you’re almost ready to allow me to meet with her. I have a little bit of hope for that.”
“I just feel that this has become too troublesome.” Chiyo’s smile didn’t break. “I just thought we’d settle it here. In other words, I thought I would do something more than just dribbling you like a soccer ball. Yeah, if I break a few bones here and there, I have a slight expectation that you might stay away for a while.”
In the next moment. The maid’s smile disappeared from sight. At the same time. Yuuki’s body was blown away. Five meters. No, ten meters. Zuzazaza, goron goron, he flew out the door and rolled into the street before finally hitting the wall of the house across the street.
“… That hurt.”
Completely flipped over, Yuuki groaned before turning to his side and kicking himself up.
Immediately after. A gust of wind came through, and a leg kicked out where Yuuki was just at. Black loafers and white stockings and a thin leg appeared as they cut through the air.
“Wait wait!” Yuuki let out a shout. Putting a good amount of distance between each other, he raised both his hands. “Let’s stop this, really. There’s no meaning to it.”
Chiyo’s slight smile never changed as she continued to look at him.
“You were able to avoid that just now? I wasn’t holding back very much.”
She walked towards him a few steps, as Yuuki backed off the same number of steps.
At some point, the cicadas had stopped calling out. No one else was in the streets.
“Yuuki-sama. What are you?”
“Even if you ask me what I am…”
“You aren’t normal. Abnormal. I almost think that you aren’t human.”
“No, I am a normal human.”
“If you were a normal human, you would’ve been dead from the first kick. And yet, you are still living.”
While backing off, Yuuki gave of cold sweat. He didn’t understand what was going on. For Chiyo to attack so suddenly, that was way beyond the limits of his imagination. While saying she was intending to break one or two bones, she was completely intent on killing him.
“How I see it,” Chiyo steadily closed the space between them. While closing it, she opened her mouth, “You are quite an irregular, I believe. There are too many points that I don’t understand.”
“Even if you say that…”
“You’re just a person that just happened to be enrolled in the school that my mistress transferred into. Not only did you become close to her, who’s communication skills are terrible, in such a short amount of time, you even ended up proposing to her. You casually avoided my kick that was intended to kill. It is impossible that all of that can be summed up to just coincidence.”
Whether or not it was a coincidence, Yuuki felt that his luck was good. He was able to jump back with a split-second decision, absorbing some of the momentum and shock, however, it still made him cold sweat. It was a kick that would not only cause injury to his organ, but even penetrate through to his back.
However, he was still living. Barely.
If you were to call it irregular than you wouldn’t be wrong, but—
Another gust of wind rolled through.
And then a rush.
Waving her skirt, Chiyo threw out a kick, an elbow, and then a knee. It felt like just touching any of it would break his neck, as Yuuki dodged each one by a paper-thin margin. This time, it wasn’t a surprise attack and he had also properly taken his distance, but it was still a series of attacks
He was grateful towards his sister.A month of practicing with her. If it weren’t for that, he would have long taken a trip to the afterlife by now.
(Give me a break!) He didn’t have any time to yell out, and so he screamed in his heart, (All I wanted to do was meet her!)
Elbow, knee, kick, thrust, kick, palm. Kick jab, kick, thrust, elbow, knee, kick, kick, elbow, knee, kick, thrust, palm, kick, jab, kick, thrust, jab, kick, thrust, elbow, knee, jab, kick, thrust, elbow, knee, thrust, palm, kick, jab, kick, knee, thrust, kick, jab, kick jab kick thrust elbow thrust palm kick jab kick jab kick thrust elbow thrust palm.
… it shouldn’t have been a long amount of time.
Yet to Yuuki, it felt almost endless.
Again, and again, they exchanged blows, and continued to exchange. Until finally, the demon maid’s movements stopped.
“… It’s done with this. Removing the gap between them, she called out to him. Her smile was unchanging. Her breath undisturbed. “Even with all those attacks, I was unable to get one in. I really underestimated you.”
“Than—k you.” Yuuki responded while holding one knee and gasping for air. It was the other side that had raised the white flag, but it didn’t feel like he won at all.
In the truth and in reality, it was settled in quite the opposite way—looking around, the walls and the asphalt all looked like they were subject to bombings, causing him to once again go into cold sweat. It seemed like a region completely out of this world. Moreover, who’s going to pay for all of this?
“I’m living, but it’s quite the miracle. Really.” He spoke while desperately adjusting his breath, “Well? Can it be said that I passed the test?”
“What do you mean by test?”
“I just had a feeling.” Yuuki furrowed his eyebrows and laughed, “Isn’t it that kind of pattern? After fighting for your lives, you go, ‘Not bad’, ‘You too’, and then recognize each other. Or something like that.”
“Is that how you were thinking of this?”
“Is that why you didn’t attack me back at all?”
“That’s how it is.”
“That’s quite naive. I can’t even express my surprise.”
“But I mean, it’s true right, Chiyo-san? The way I thought of it, it’s probably not wrong I believe.”
“What reason do you have to think that?”
“It’s because we met every day.” Releasing his stance, Yuuki approached her, “You said that I came every day without tiring. But isn’t it the same for you, Chiyo-san? You came to meet me every single day without tiring.”
“If you didn’t meet or talk to me every single day, I wouldn’t have come every single day. I would have thought of some other way. But that wasn’t how it was. That’s why I thought there was some other purpose.”
“Anyways, did I pass? Does it seem like I have enough value, to be allowed through the gate.”
“…. You,” While laughing, Chiyo spat out, “That part of you is something I really don’t like.”
“But will you acknowledge me?”
“Fumu.” She took a breath. Then, after thinking for a bit about something, Chiyo spoke, “… You may proceed, though I’m reluctant. It can’t be helped, though. I must recognize that you have enough worth to be able to stick your head further into my mistress’s circumstances.”
“But, it is only a temporary acknowledgement. If you do lower your own worth in anyway, I will, without hesitation take your head. Please do not hold back at that time. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to put up a grave at the very least.”
She smiled. A perfect smile that would give you a chill through your spine.However, Yuuki was already used to it. He couldn’t keep being intimidated by it. So he made a modest attempt to fight back.
“That really doesn’t suit you, Chiyo-san.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“That villain-like, evil-like character. It’s quite hard for you to hold it, right? I mean, you’re really a good person.”
Her eyes widened for just a moment.
Then, she frowned.
I got you there—Yuuki thought as he laughed on the inside. He had tried throwing something out for something that he had doubts of, but it seems that he was on point. He was finally able to get a point back.
It was quite a strange thing, thinking of it like this, the maid-like smile that she would put up now seemed cute. She also had a lot of her own circumstances. A mature feeling that doesn’t fit her twenty-year-old appearance, unusually skillful, and living alone with her mistress—he didn’t dare ask, but there were probably many hardships.
“I’ll let that last line go.” She had only shown weakness in those few seconds. After immediately regaining her perfect smile, Chiyo urged him. “Standing and talking isn’t good, so first things first, come with me this way. I’ll serve a cup of tea to the person that I had acknowledged. Is earl grey alright?”
“Why thank you. That’ll be fine.” Yuuki also returned to smiling. It was a sincere smile.
Regardless, he was finally able to get the iron skinned maid to become flustered for a bit. It was as if he finally got a fickle stray cat to come onto his lap. It seems like it was all worth it, to not run away from all those dangerous situations.
And, he can finally meet her.
Kanaruzawa Sekai. The person who he proposed to, for which the decision was still suspended. With this, he can finally hear the response for it—
“By the way, Yuuki-sama.” While opening the door, Chiyo turned to face him. “Before we begin talking, I would like to say something first.”
“Yeah, go ahead. Say anything you would like.” Sticking out his chest, Yuuki nodded, “Just by watching her, I understand that she has many circumstances. But despite those circumstances, I pulled out the courage to propose to her. I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point.”
“That’s great.” Chiyo also smiled and nodded, “As expected of Yuuki-sama. If it’s someone like you, I can be relieved and leave my mistress to you.”
“Bring it on… And? What did you want to say?” Yuuki asked.
She then made her most perfect smile of date and spoke, “My mistress, you see. She’s actually a goddess.”
Kirishima Yuuki. Seventeen years old. Had a point taken from him at that moment.