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This was first a week later than I intended. Then the night I was about to upload I had a blackout, and forgot that I had to upload until two nights later when I was lying in bed contemplating what a shitshow Disney’s Star Wars has become.
Enjou spoke to me when I arrived at the Salon after school.
“Kisshouin-san, apparently you went somewhere rather interesting yesterday.”
“…I see you were informed about that.”
Loose lips, Kaburagi.
I made a note to tell him again to keep our commoner lifestyle tours a secret.
“This morning he gave me a lecture about sample tasting, you know?” Enjou said.
The image of a smugly lecturing Kaburagi came unbidden to my mind.
“Kaburagi-sama has a very healthy sense of curiosity, so I had a lot of difficulties…” I admitted.
“Ahaha, you have my condolences,” he said, pushing the burden to me as he laughed at my suffering. What a hateful guy.
Thanks to yesterday’s trip I spent half my night in the bathroom.
Like the water on a beach, each time I thought the battle with my stomach was over it would come back with a fresh wave.
“As his best friend, could you not simply accompany him instead?” I said a little aggrievedly.
“It’s not like I’ve ever been to a supermarket either,” he easily rebutted.
I couldn’t argue with that.
“That said, a convenience store is one thing, but I’m surprised you go to the supermarket too. Masaya was telling me about how shocked he was when he saw how at home you were.”
Ugh, he hit where it hurt.
It’s because I keep a repository of family-pack snacks for supper. And convenience stores don’t do sales.
Not that I’d say that. Over my dead body.
“I have some interest in cooking so I like to pick my own ingredients.”
And that wasn’t a lie. I was in the middle of learning.
“Oh? I see, I see.” He made a little teasing humming sound.
“…What is it?”
“Hm? Nothing, nothing~”
Enjou just looked at me in amusement with a meaningful smile.
Uu, what the heck was that look supposed to be?
I hated that smile. It always made me feel like he could see right through me.
Damn this mind-reader!
Enjou’s smiles in the manga were never this sinister. Just what was it that made the real him’s smiles so different? Was it because his hair was black?
His hair was supposed to be honey-coloured. Was it because the colour change dyed his heart black as well?
“Have you ever thought about dyeing your hair a lighter shade?”
“That’s definitely against school rules.”
Mr. Enjou Shuusuke is a realist, not a dreamer.
I felt a little awkward all of a sudden and my eyes darted this way and that for an escape.
Thankfully I spotted Fuyuko-sama sitting off to the side on her own.
“Ah-! I had something to discuss with Fuyuko-sama so please do excuse me.”
“Of course. See you later.”
I turned my back to Enjou, who simply waggled his fingers in goodbye and watched me leave.
As for Fuyuko-sama, she was still sitting there with a serious expression, seemingly staring intently at her palm. Maybe a handful of sand…?
“Umm~ Fuyuko-sama…?” I said with some trepidation, but her face brightened happily the moment she noticed me.
“Gokigen’yoh, Fuyuko-sama. Might I impose?”
“Why of course, Reika-sama! Please, take a seat!”
Looking at how happily she invited me to sit, I began to think that perhaps my thoughts about her yesterday weren’t so off the mark. Maybe she really did want to become better friends.
“Fuyuko-sama, about yesterday…”
“Yesterday…? Aah! I see! You want to use the ouija board again!” she concluded. “I just knew you were interested. Of course you are more than welcome to. Please wait a moment!”
Guh! A sudden attack from the spiritual world…
“N-No, you misunderstand,” I said frantically when she began to pull a suspicious board out from her bag. “I wanted to apologise for suddenly leaving mid-conversation. It was terribly rude of me.”
Fuyuko-sama looked at me blankly.
“My, has that been weighing on your mind? You needn’t have worried, but thank you for your gracious apology,” she said easily and bowed to me.
I bowed back in return.
“By the way, you seem to have been staring at your palm. Might I ask why?”
“Oh my, were you watching?” Fuyuko-sama cupped her cheeks in embarrassment.
I already knew what it was about, so I decided to just say it.
“Might you have been palm reading?”
“No, I was training myself to see auras.”
“Yes. You see, they say that if you keep watching patiently like this, you’re gradually be able to see auras. Well, they did say that it would be easier in a darker room though.”
“I’m still only an apprentice shaman so I still haven’t mastered the ability yet, but I train like this whenever I have time. I do invite you to try it with me.”
“If you concentrate, you’ll start to see the aura around your finger. See? Like this.”
…She really was up to the neck in the New Age occult stuff.
What was I going to do now?
I thought it was just palm reading so I figured I’d play along, but a lecture about auras was next level.
And she was an ‘apprentice shaman’…?
But I couldn’t let this discourage me. Fuyuko-sama had begun going into the meanings of the different aura colours, but I refused her as tactfully as I could.
“No, I think I shall pass. I have little talent in the way of these things.”
“My, is that so?”
She looked disappointed, so I quickly changed the subject.
“Ah, that reminds me. Fuyuko-sama, thank you for letting Kaburagi-sama know where to find me yesterday.”
Although I couldn’t deny that my actual feelings were more along the lines of ‘You shouldn’t have done that’, Fuyuko-sama had done so with the best intentions, so there was nothing else I could say.
“No, all I said was that you seemed to have gone to your club.”
“Is that so?”
“Uhuhu, you two do get along.” A little dreamily, she muttered, “Does Kaburagi-sama like Reika-sama after all?”
“You misunderstand, Fuyuko-sama. He simply had some business with me yesterday, and sought me out for that reason. There are no such feelings between us.”
“Oh my. But everybody has heard the rumour that your relationship advanced during the class trip. The fact that the two of you left together yesterday has been whispered about all morning.
I couldn’t help the weird expression I was making.
I really didn’t need this.
I’d been putting so much effort into improving my romantic prospects too. That would all go to waste if a weird rumour about Kaburagi scared off the boys anyway.
I couldn’t think of anyone in Zui’ran who would be willing to butt heads to the Emperor to steal his girl.
Why? I’d already gotten rid of that accursed poetry book, so why wasn’t my luck in romance getting any better?
“Then is it true that your love is actually for Enjou-sama!?”
“No, no! That is a misunderstanding too.”
Huh. I always thought Fuyuko-sama lived in her own world, but surprisingly she might have actually been quite the gossip.
“Here, Reika-sama. This is a rose quartz, said to improve your fortunes in romance.”
…So she dabbled in crystal healing too.
What was scary was that I actually considered it for a moment.
People with weak minds were the most susceptible to this New Age stuff.
It took me a while but I eventually warded off the topic of romance.
Instead, I found myself listening as Fuyuko-sama spoke at excited length about the Seven Wonders of Zui’Ran.
Gosh, and to think this was the same quiet girl who rarely said a word. Apparently she was quite the talker herself, as long as the topic was right.
Eh…? There are human sacrifices in the walls of the old assembly hall, and they make tapping noises and tell you to leave!?
And more than one person had already heard this!?
What the heck! Scaryy!
“Actually, I’ve heard it myself…”
“It happened on a dark, rainy morning.”
“I had just arrived at the old assembly hall when I heard the rapping noises…”
Zui’ran was established a long time ago, after all. What if it was true!?
P-Purification salt! Where was my purification salt!?
I think I could feel something behind me already!
Unaware of my inner turmoil, Fuyuko-sama continued to talk with a smile.
“I’m very happy to have been able to speak with you so much today, Reika-sama.”
“Eh? You are?”
“Yes. I’ve always wanted to talk to you like this. I’m very happy right now.”
Well then I was happy to hear that.
I took another look at Fuyuko-sama who was still smiling brightly.
While I could do without being invited too deep into the occult world, at that moment I thought it would be nice if the two of us could grow a little closer.
“Also, it is said that the Zui’Ran Forest has a secret bomb shelter, you see, and…”
Please no more scary stories, if that’s okay.
Fuyuko-sama was elaborating when Kaburagi came over.
“Kisshouin, we need to talk.”
“My apologies but I am in the middle of speaking with Fuyuko-sama,” I deflected.
“My, Reika-sama, please pay me no mind. I was just about done with my tea, so it was about time I left anyhow,” said Fuyuko-sama with sparkles in her eyes.
She really was into this romantic gossip stuff. Aaah, what an unwanted show of consideration.
“Shuusuke’s gone home.”
Damn that guy!
Yet again he was pushing the troubles onto me and running away!
Kuhh! And what was I to do with this pent up anger I had for Zui’ran’s two selfish idols?
Ah. Of course.
At the very least I had to harass him. Kaburagi could share in some of the terror I experienced.
“Did you know, Kaburagi-sama?” I began. “Apparently rapping noises can be heard from inside the walls of the old assembly hall. Fuyuko-sama has heard it herself. The truth is that inside the walls, the bodies of those who were sacrificed are…”
“Sounds from inside the walls?” he interrupted. “Sounds like the water hammer phenomenon. It’s because of the hydraulic shock inside the water pipes. Every time somebody flushes the toilet or runs the taps hard and suddenly turns it off, the running water has nowhere to go and makes a noise because of the pressure. It might be because of the old plumbing that it’s so noisy. You should put in a request to school maintenance.”
“But, the human-shaped stains…”
“And we’re even getting water leaks already? We need someone from maintenance on that, fast.”
────Later that day, maintenance on the old assembly hall was performed at Kaburagi’s request, and one of Zui’Ran’s Seven Mysteries disappeared.
Fuyuko-sama’s enthusiasm for the occult waned a little.
And so I found myself in the small meeting room with Kaburagi again.
Honestly, should I just start keeping snacks and a tea set in here?
“Yesterday’s trip to the supermarket was well worth it,” Kaburagi said approvingly.
“Is that so?” I responded blandly.
His Majesty the Emperor then regaled me with how the taste of the snacks he’d seized from me were to his satisfaction. I also found out that apparently the curse I laid with my Third Eye bore no fruit.
“But! The trouble is that even if I’ve mastered the use of supermarkets it isn’t suitable as the location for a date. I was thinking of inviting her somewhere this weekend. Any thoughts?”
“Eh-, this weekend!?” I exclaimed.
Besides handing over souvenirs to Kanta-kun and the kids, I already had plans to hang out with Wakaba-chan on Sunday.
“It is almost time for the mid-terms, you know? Would Takamichi-san not be busy studying for her exams?”
Ever since we’d come back from the trip, Wakaba-chan was spending a lot of time with Fellow Stalking Horse in her capacity as a Student Council member. Apparently that was what was making Kaburagi antsy.
Mmm. I also saw the two of them walking together rather companionably down the hallway today.
“Takamichi-san is a scholarship student. Would she not be troubled if you invited her out before the exams? What if for the moment you obtain her agreement to go somewhere after the mid-terms? You would also have all that time to plan the date.”
He didn’t look convinced.
Well fine. I’d just unveil the fruits of the research I did.
Moriyama-san from cram school was happy enough to share with me popular date spots for high schoolers.
“Amusement parks, movies, karaoke, arcade centres, bowling…” he repeated. “The amusement park and cinemas aside, aren’t the others too boring for a date?”
“But that is where regular high schoolers go for their dates.”
Admittedly I couldn’t picture Kaburagi in a karaoke booth and going wild singing.
“Incidentally, have you ever been to karaoke before?”
“I hate it. I only listen to music played live.”
Was this guy supposed to be some rock star musician?
“A veto to karaoke then. From my investigation it seems like the amusement park is the most popular choice. People do love the rollercoasters and haunted houses.”
“My family’s group has some ownership of some amusement parks. I’ll see what I can do.”
“…If you are planning on reserving the whole park, please do not.”
An amusement park with nobody in it was like a genre shift to horror.
Worse, the two of them riding a rollercoaster in the dead silence of the park was a different sort of horror.
“With what we just discussed as a reference, what do you think about preparing until the exams are over?”
“…Fine. I’ll think about it.”
“One other thing, please go to your best friend Enjou-sama for advice, not me. I have no doubts he would welcome the discussion.”
“Ah, and from now on please stop turning up unannounced at Takamichi-san’s house without prior arrangement. It is not very considerate.”
Now then, I supposed that was my mission for today complete. Next I needed to hurry home and start studying.
I wanted to tell Kaburagi, still standing there and thinking about date locations, to stop daydreaming about romance and get to studying too. Of course, if I could remove even a single competitor it would be worthwhile, so I kept my mouth shut.
I will be heading home first then. Gokigen’yoh, Kaburagi-sama.
The lights were off.
I was already in bed when a thought occurred to me.
Poking my left hand out from under the covers, I held it aloft in the darkness and stared at my finger.
Third Eye, Awaken.
I couldn’t see my aura.