T/N: No this isn’t more bunnygirl. This is another novel from Haru no Hi written about a year or two before that one, and this one has a much more direct connection with Akuma Koujo.
Inside a dilapidated castle was an old, dusty room, built out of stone and used for ritualistic purposes. A small magic circle was drawn on the floor, squiggly and deformed.
“Yes, I did it!”
It was the voice of a young girl. In this dwelling that looked as though it belonged to an evil witch of children’s fairy-tales, the girl seemed less an inhabitant and more a captive.
A child no more than five, she had silver hair and violet eyes, wearing a dress somewhat worn-out but distinctly of the noble caste. She beamed at the thing resembling a small slime that had appeared in the magic circle. Her hand stretched toward it as she spoke gently, adorably.
“Hey… will you be…”
Cold droplets of water wet my cheek, and I slowly, blearily open my eyes to an unfamiliar ceiling… just kidding, nothing so cliché, it’s just a cloudy sky instead.
Hold on… why am I sleeping here… ?
Had it been soft grass that I was feeling on my cheeks and my back, then it would have been possible that I’d accidentally dozed off from the comfortably wide-open outdoors. But as it is, I’m currently lying on something hard and uncomfortably angular. Considering the rusty bikes and refrigerators I see around me, this should be the illegal garbage dump near my school.
I remember now… I came here to clean up the trash as an extracurricular activity.
Looking from the school toward this direction, you’d see a cliff several meters high. And since there was a natural dip in the ground under it, people from nearby towns have been coming here to throw away their fridges and TVs. The unlawful dump had been a bit of a problem.
Really, what were they thinking…
And while I don’t exactly hold the school in high regards for making its students clean the mess up, I think even less of the more idiotic of the students who were only making things worse when they throw away their water bottles and convenience store lunchboxes. At this rate, this dump is never going to go away.
And those who contribute to the problem are also the same one who never help out with the cleaning. In the end, it’s only the serious students that get the short end of the stick.
…by the way… who am I?
“H-hey, isn’t this kinda bad…?”
“What the hell are you saying Denko, didn’t you agree to this?”
“B-but, I mean…”
“…d-did she die?”
“Hey… let’s get away already…”
“But our group’s gonna be suspected…”
“Then do you have an idea, huh?”
“Wasn’t it you who pushed her, Botan?!”
“B-but Hina-chan told me to do it too…”
Oh yeah… I think I remember a bit now.
I was pushed by the girls who are, even now, getting into a hullabaloo (do people still say that these days?) on the cliff.
They’re only speaking about how to protect themselves. I hear nothing about calling for the school nurse or an ambulance. None at all.
The cliff looks… about five meters high? If below me had been smaller pieces of trash, then maybe they could have acted as a mattress to cushion my fall. As it is, however, it was after our cleaning, and so the only garbage left were the large stuff that the students couldn’t deal with. Basically, I was pushed from a height equivalent to the second floor of a building onto a pile of metal, landing either on my head or my back.
Yup, that’s more than enough to kill.
If a person falls from high enough for them to do half a roll in the air, then it’s also a height very much lethal. I could have broken a bone even if I landed on my legs, and I could have been stabbed by a rusty, broken length of metal from a bike, too.
“Oh, it’s raining…”
“We really should go…”
“Come onnn, let’s get back to the classroom. I don’t think anyone’s gonna come looking in the rain.”
“…but what if they find her?”
“W-we’ll just tell them we only poked her a bit and she fell all on her own! It’s an accident!”
“…are you leaving?”
Ominous lightning struck at just the right moment, and the three girls screamed in chorus. They screamed because of the thunder, obviously, and not because I’d talked to them after I got up and climbed the cliff. Who would scream when their classmate was just asking them a question? That’s just rude.
Oh yeah… that’s my name… isn’t it? My family name, anyway.
The three girls who pushed me are now staring at me with a bit of guilt, a bit of relief… and a lot of fear.
“W-weren’t you dead…?”
“It’s… it’s not my fault!”
“Hey, wait—” I say, but they’re already tripping over themselves in fright as they run toward the school.
“Come on…” I mutter, exasperated.
They acted as though I should have died. Such rude people.
The drizzle turns into outright rain, the beads of water soaking my hair heavily. I absentmindedly bring a hand to my head and notice a strangely thick wetness on my finger that isn’t water. A closer look reveals that my hair is matted with an amount of blood in far excess of a scratch.
Ahh, I see. No wonder. Normal middle-school girls are totally gonna be terrified by this.
The sky rapidly darkens. The rain is a downpour now, the water beating on the schoolground to turn dry dirt into darkened mud in short order.
I’m soaked anyway, so I just use the rain as an impromptu shower to wash out the blood, then head toward the girls’ locker room to get my change of clothes.
I enter the school building, ignoring my indoor shoes — as dirty as I am, changing shoes would just be a waste of time anyway — and go right for the sophomore locker room.
I don’t meet anyone on the way. The juniors and seniors are probably still in their classes.
Luckily, I’m wearing my PE jersey for the extracurricular cleaning. If I had been cleaning with my uniform, I’d have to go home wearing this eye-searingly red jersey.
There’s nobody else in the locker room beside me. I take out a small key from my pocket.
…my memories are getting clearer now.
I open the correct locker, my locker, without having to think twice. It’s not like it’s difficult. Mine is the only one as dirty as it is.
I suppose those three girls might have done it because I erased their scribbles from my locker. It’s amazing, in a way, how they could be so childish.
I take out the towel from my locker, undo the long braid that comes to my chest, and thoroughly wipe off the moisture from my hair.
“…why’d I keep this?”
My front bangs go down to my nose like a black curtain.
…oh, yes, I kept this so long because I used to not want to let other people see my eyes.
When my hair was dry, my bangs only went down to my eyes, so it hadn’t bothered me that much. As I am now, though, it just feels really irritating.
I take a look around. As luck would have it, there’s a sewing kit somebody left behind, and I find what I’m looking for inside. Small, but serviceable.
Locks of hair fall to the floor.
As amateurish as I am, getting my front bangs straight was the best I could do, but I still looks a lot better than the walking curtain that I used to be.
Now that that’s done, I’ll have to change… luckily, my underwear’s still dry.
I quickly change into my blazer uniform (it’s a public middle school’s uniform, and there isn’t much about it you can describe as ‘cute’), then take a look at myself in the full-length mirror placed against one of the walls.
“Oh… so that’s what my face look like…”
The lights suddenly buzz and begin to flicker, covering me in bouts of alternating light and darkness.
In the mirror, I see a girl with glossy black hair and dark-red eyes. She looks like an unfeeling doll, with all the things that were keeping her on the right side of the uncanny valley stripped out.
Might have sounded like I was describing someone else, but yes, that’s me.
Another flash of lightning, followed by rumbling thunder. The lighting gives out completely. In the pitch-black darkness, a pair of crimson eyes flicker as though candlelights.
The town was neither an urban city, nor was it in the countryside. It neighbored a government-designated city and was also adjacent to a national highway, but at the same time, it was why the town was only a place for people to pass by and rarely go into.
The town had no lack of households, though the vast majority of them were old families. There were barely any young people. All the children of age within thirty-minutes walking distance from the public middle school didn’t even take up more than one class for each grade.
“…teacher’s late. And we just have homeroom left, too.”
Ginko, the class vice-president, a girl with an assertive streak that showed in her appearance, grumbled.
“I think she’s dragging out the staff meeting again…” Fua, a timid-looking glasses-wearing girl, answered.
Ginko thought of their homeroom teacher, an old maid with so much enthusiasm in making her students do “voluntary service” that she half suspected the woman to be involved in some sort of shady religion, and she nodded, convinced by Fua’s words. Ginko then released a small sigh.
Nevertheless, she understood why the woman was giving them the work. It was this class.
Sophomore year, Class 1 — there was just one class anyway, so it wasn’t like the numbering meant anything — but the point was, the class only had seventeen students who were all in their second year, and yet there was still a distinct lack of unity.
The eight male students weren’t the problem. They fit together well enough.
Part of it was because most of the boys were quiet, but mainly it was thanks to Sei and Hao, two good-looking students who acted as the leaders to bring them together (despite their somewhat strange names — “saintly garment” and “winged king”, respectively).
On the other hand, it was exactly the two’s handsomeness that broke apart the nine female students.
Three of the girls were actively chasing after the two boys and sabotaging each other.
Another three were watchers, who mainly involved themselves in malicious gossip and bullying as an outlet for their frustration.
Ginko and Fua, who tried to stay away from the mess, unwilling to be involved in the drama.
And finally, a girl shunned by all the other girls.
At first glance, the female students seemed harmonious enough. The grade only had the seventeen students, plus there was no other class to change to, so the group was “tight-knit”, so to speak. Now, most of the class just called everyone else by their first names, no matter if they were a boy or a girl.
The only exception was the ignored girl.
When they had been in their first year, Ginko and her friend had thought to bring the lonely-looking girl into their group. But before they could, the two aforementioned boys had approached her, either out of kindness or a sense of duty, and it had been the beginning of her misfortune. Aside from Ginko and Fua, all the other girls began to pretend she didn’t exist.
Even Ginko didn’t think the situation was anywhere close to being good, for sure, but if she had gone ahead with her original plan, the two boys would make things complicated with their own unwanted actions.
It was another one-and-a-half year until graduation, give or take a few weeks. The undeniable fact was that she didn’t want to rock the boat, to have to spend that much time in a class split into two warring sides when there were no other classes to change to.
“…it’s kinda quiet today.” Fua said.
“It is.” Ginko replied, turning a quick glance around the class.
Everyone had already changed out of their jerseys back into their uniforms, except for the three bully girls. They kept whispering to each other, looking scared.
That reminds her, where was that girl…? She was the only one to not be back yet.
‘…and what was her first name again…?’
“Kya!” “Waah!” “Eep!”
A bolt of lightning struck, this time quite a lot closer to the school, and the lights shut off. Several students screamed.
The rain intensified, beating down on the building. The sky grew darker and darker. Somebody gulped, and silence descended in the room.
“My, what’s wrong?”
The voice of a girl softly rang from the classroom entrance, triggering another chorus of screams. Since when had the doors been open?
“…K-Kamishiro-…san?” Sei, one of the aforementioned boys, whispered raspily. The confusion in his voice was shared by everyone else in the room.
The girl, Kamishiro, had been the target of bullying due to her mixed heritage, being half-Japanese and half-Turkish. It showed in the lines of her face, the color of her eyes… and children were creatures that could so easily reject those different from themselves, even if no one would bat an eye at her once she grew up.
The girl had been the quiet type in the first place. Early on in her life, she had realized herself to be different from those around her, and soon afterward she began to keep her head down, hiding her face.
But now, she wasn’t doing that anymore. Now, she carried a completely different air, a cheerfully intimidating smile on her face.
As though she had died and been reborn…
Blinding lightning and deafening thunder drowned out the students’ screams. The glass windows shattered, and the classroom was flooded with light.
The students continued their screams of terror and shock except for a single girl, the girl named Kamishiro, who showed a look of surprise on her face for a single moment. Afterward, she smiled and slowly closed her eyes in realization and acceptance.
“Yes, we did it!”
“EEEEeee that’s awesome! They’re humans!”
A chorus of cheers mixed with relief came from the students of the magical academy as boys and girls appeared from the enormous summoning circle.
For many students at the academy, it was the fifth and final school year, the year when they would turn fifteen. The noble children with strong magic among them would summon intelligent creatures from another dimension to contract them as servants called “Partners”.
While the summoning was a part of the curriculum, to the students with strong enough magic to handle spellcasting, the Partners that they summoned themselves would be their proof of graduation from being magicians to become ‘magi’. And among nobles, being a magus was a certain kind of prestige.
There were many, many dimensions of all kinds to summon from.
There had been summonings of dragons, lunar wolves, or other such mythical beasts with both power and intelligence; and there had also been summonings of elves, dwarves, and other such Demihumans that didn’t exist in this world.
And they were still the safer results. Depending on the school year, there were also cases of monsters such as ogres and trolls being summoned, and it had been the reason for the tense atmosphere and subsequent palpable relief among the students.
Now, the relief of the magi-in-training were turning into loud and excited cheers. After all, the summoning this time had given them humans, life-forms of the same appearance as them.
Unconfirmed information had it that human-inhabited worlds were dimensionally far apart, and so summoned humans were rare. Furthermore, summoned humans often gained powerful magic, and legends had it that they only showed up every several centuries.
In this year’s summoning, the students with powerful magic numbered seventeen.
Among them was a severe-looking girl with silver hair and violet eyes named Sharon. She rubbed her fingers, trying to relax from the white-knuckled grip she had on her staff, and she breathed a sigh, expression still tense.
Looks like I managed somehow… she thought.
Sharon wasn’t very good in her magic control. If the summoning had failed here, she might just become the target of blame from everyone else. As the daughter of a marquis, she couldn’t afford to invite any further disgrace.
The cheers gradually died down as the academy students remembered what they had to do next, and the tense nervousness returned.
The “Servant Contract” mentioned earlier was a ritual with quite a few similarities to the “Slave Brand” curse, and by law, it was only allowed to be used on dangerous subjects such as criminals or monsters.
But the summoning of intelligent creatures would have abruptly ripped them away from their normal lives. Rarely were they friendly.
They might be fearful due to the change. They might wail in grief. Or they might even forget themselves in rage and attempt to bring harm upon the summoners.
It was why the tense atmosphere wasn’t limited to the students alone. Even the knights standing by, those who had been deployed by the kingdom to protect the young sons and daughters of high nobility, were waiting with bated breath.
To the noble students who had summoned members of a sapient species, those to whom the Servant Contract wouldn’t be allowed, not being chosen would be considered a shameful stain on their records.
As nobility, they needed to be able to display their worth to the summoned, to convince them to become their Partner and servant, and they had one year until graduation to do it. After that year had passed, the Partner candidates would be employed by the country. Those who hadn’t been chosen would never again have the chance to gain a Partner.
The results of the summoning this year were children the same age as the summoners. They were seemingly of the same ethnic group, judging from the black hair they all shared.
The sudden summoning had made them fearful and heavily confused. There was even a girl among them who looked as though she was about to cry at the drop of a hat, and a few among the student summoners hesitated to speak up, feeling somewhat guilty.
The first to speak would make an impression, but also risked being the target of the summoned people’s grudges. Who would take the role?
The air was charged with tension as the students’ mind whirred with thoughts on how to best approach the situation and how to obstruct their rivals. Meanwhile, Sharon took deep breaths, trying to calm her thundering heart, and she began to search among the summoned humans, seeing if any would deign to serve someone like her.
The laws only allowed one to summon intelligent creatures from another world once, no more. The reason was because supposedly, the first time was the only time a Soulbond could be established, and the Partner who had chosen and been chosen by a summoner at that time would empower their master to their maximum potential.
And the more powerful the Soulbond the summoner had, the more likely they would be chosen.
But Sharon felt nothing but unease with the knowledge
‘…what do I do if no one chooses me…’
Sharon had made a mistake in her younger days. A mistake that made this summoning no longer her first.
As tension mounted, Joel, one of the students and the second prince of the kingdom, decided to become an example for his subjects. But just as he was about to put his feet forward, one girl walked out from the group of summoned people, her steps calm and composed.
The noble students gulped, drawn by her presence, by her exotic beauty that could only be born from a confluence of bloodlines, from a meeting of different cultures. They lost themselves in her hair, a gleaming black of obsidian; her skin, fair and delicate as velvet; and her eyes, a mesmerizing shade of vermillion that spoke of the powerful will behind them.
As everyone continued to be captivated by her beauty, the beauty of a doll, she walked onward, unmolested even by the knights that were supposed to be protecting the academy students. She headed right for the second prince Joel… and quietly passed him by, instead stopping in front of Sharon who was standing in the back of the crowd. She daintily pinched her skirt and gave a curtsey, one practiced and full of elegance.
“Greetings, my lady. I shall be in your service. Please, call me ‘Fleurety’.”
In the year 893 of the kingdom’s calendar, the month of Firstfall, thus began the story of a single clumsy villainess and a maid who came from another world.