All posts by Estelulu

President of the Shitposting and Sometimes Translation Club, and twice-convicted Suzuhara Lulu shill.

02 – Entering the Harem

The seasons changed with the time, and now it was summer.

“This is the Red Rose Room, for your use, Lady Diana.”

“I understand.”

After all was said and done, Diana ended up entering the harem after all. Sighing in her heart about the excessively accommodating reception, she thus became the owner of this room.


A count in the Kingdom of Elgrand was a fairly high rank. Below the royal family were the dukes, who had once been part of the royal family, the marquesses, who had served the royal family since the founding of the nation, the counts, who had been enfeoffed key lands, the viscounts, who had been entrusted with the frontiers, and finally the barons.

In a vacuum, it would appear as though the counts were somewhere in the middle, but in reality the gap between a count and viscount was vast. Furthermore, there were the unspoken power disparities between the comital houses themselves.

When it came to the aforementioned Cresters, they were the most powerful of all comital houses, as good as any marquess. So powerful in fact, that the weaker margravial houses took care not to provoke them. It was no exaggeration to call them an outlier in the otherwise strictly hierarchal Kingdom of Elgrand.

With such a formidable maiden family, no lady of their house would suffer slights in the inner harem.

“What will you do now, my Lady? Giving you the Red Rose Room means that they’ve selected you as a candidate for queen consort, doesn’t it?”

“I really wasn’t expecting to be treated so well… But it’s just a matter of our maiden families. After all, there have been marquesses’ daughters in the harem before. When they make the hierarchy so clear, it really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

At this moment, over fifty ladies were gathered in the inner harem, the daughters of nobles ranging from marquesses to barons. As somebody who disliked inefficiencies, the pointlessness of the affair was really getting on Diana’s nerves.

“It’s such a waste of resources, this harem. I won’t disagree that it expedites the process of His Majesty finding a girl that he likes, but aren’t there too many of us in here?”

“As you say, my Lady. At fifty people, His Majesty would sooner run out of energy than find the right woman…”

“Roaming from one woman’s bedroom to another, night after night… If he’s unlucky there might not even be a single pregnancy.”

The Crester family stressed two things when it came to pregnancies. The first was love. The second was getting the timing right. With that philosophy in mind, the royal harem’s numbers-game shotgun approach was truly crude. From that point of view, there were few systems less conducive to the conception of children than the royal harem.

“Even if they did manage a pregnancy, depending on the gender, the next heir to the throne… Would you even be able to properly care for them in a place like this? This is truly such an impractical place.”

“You say that because you’re kind, Lady Diana… Ah, let me make some tea.”

“Thank you, Lita.”

Lita had been the only maid to follow Diana from the manor. Being close in age and growing up like sisters together, there was nobody who knew her better. When the royal edict had come, Diana had asked her family to let her bring Lita alone. She hadn’t wanted to bring servants along, so in the end her family could only ask Lita to look after her.

“Speaking of which, I heard that when the high ranking ladies wanted to bring crowds of maids into the harem, the court ladies had to stop them in a panic.”

“Well of course. There are already fifty people here. If each of them wanted to bring a warm of followers, the harem’s budget would be dust. The royal treasury is hardly inexhaustible.”

“Lord Crester had been worried about that too.”

Unwilling to burden the kingdom, the Crester family had taken care of all of Diana’s needs. It was a testament to the ability of her family that everything had gone so smoothly.

…Only, for some reason, that had led to the infamy of House Crester rising yet again.

As Diana enjoyed Lita’s tea, the sound of knocking came from the door. It was Lita who answered.

“Yes? Who is it?”

“I’m the head court lady in charge of managing the harem. Might I enter?”

“Please wait a moment.”

With a look from Diana, Lita trotted over to the door. As for Diana, she stood up and tucked her chair back in, waiting by the desk instead.

“Please come in,” said Lita.

“Thank you.”

A plump court lady with a deep blue coat came in. No sooner had she entered did the woman stop in her tracks and stare intently at Diana.

“…Is something the matter?” Diana asked, startling the woman out of her reverie.

“Oh, please excuse me!”

The court lady walked further into the centre of the room and bowed in Diana’s direction.

“It is my honour to meet you. I am the head court lady, Sarah Maris.”

“Maris…?” asked Diana. “One of Count Maris’ relatives?”

“Humbly, Count Maris is my husband.”

“I understand. A pleasure to meet you. My name is Diana Crester. I shall be in your care henceforth.”

Greetings exchanged, the two looked at each other. Diana smiled and continued.

“I’ve spent all my time in Crester lands, so I’m unfamiliar with palace etiquette. If you could guide me from time to time, I would be most glad.”

“Oh, no! As the Red Rose, how could I possibly teach you anything…!”

“Oh…? Then I suppose it cannot be helped,” Diana said.

…For some reason, the woman seemed ill at ease.

“The court ladies responsible for the Red Rose Room and the attendant maids will introduce themselves to you later. If you experience any discomfort, please let them know.”

“I understand.”

“Please excuse me.”

With that, the head court lady quietly but hastily left the room. After watching expressionlessly, Diana turned to Lita.

“…How do you think she interpreted my words?”

“Hmmm… If I may be presumptuous, when you said ‘I’m unfamiliar with palace etiquette’, she may have heard ‘so you had better do things my way’. And then when you said ‘if you could guide me from time to time, I would be most glad’, it may have sounded like ‘from now on you work for me’.”

“…Who on earth said any of that?”

Although it was routine by now, Diana could not help but feel dumbfounded. It was during moments like these that she could most strongly feel the effects of her Crester blood.

Diana Crester, daughter of Count Crester.
Also known as the ‘Blooming Rose of Ice and Fire’.

Wavy locks of golden hair reminiscent of the sun. Azure eyes like the sparkling ocean. Both of these were features inherited from her mother, but under her Crester blood, the way they expressed was different.

In a way, there was a sense of artistry to the changes.

Diana Crester had a straight nose, lively almond-shaped eyes, and captivating red lips. It was said that men and women of all ages were bewitched and terrified with but a glance. She spared no mercy to any who opposed her, manipulated men with but a graceful smile, and would always get her way.

Rumour had it that there was nothing more spine-chilling than her smiles when she thought up a ‘fun’ idea, but that very smile was also when her mesmerising beauty was most fiery, truly a dreadful rose.

Such stories of Diana Crester had been unending since she debuted at age fifteen.

“Honestly, it’s always rumours about things I haven’t the faintest recollection of doing. Why is it that whenever anybody in my family says anything, people can’t help but have auditory hallucinations?”

“It’s the fright’s fault. If they listened more carefully, this would never happen,” said Lita.

“Indeed,” sighed Diana.

Diana was a young girl too. She had looked forward to her debut as much as any other noble girl her age. Having spent all her life in the Crester fiefdom, Diana had naturally dreamed about life outside of it.

Unfortunately, the moment her brother escorted her into the debutante ball, intelligent as she was, Diana abandoned any ideas of being like ‘any other noble girl’. That was how intense the staring had been.

The only ones who approached her had been those with ulterior motives. Young men had been particularly eager, to the point of repulsiveness. Diana had just turned fifteen, but men openly and blatantly leered at her well-proportioned figure. Many seemed to treat her as a potential casual bedroom partner. Perhaps the Crester looks had played a part in giving them the impression she was interested in that sort of hedonism.

“How about it…? Let’s you and I have a wonderful night together?” one of them had asked.

Diana said, “I must decline. Tonight is my debut. I trust you understand?”

The message implied had been, of course, ‘What are you saying to a fifteen-year-old girl you creepy pedo?’ but for some reason what he heard was ‘Nobody asked for the likes of you. For my debut night, I require a much more impressive, and suitable partner.’

Thus, on the very first day she debuted into society, rumours had already begun to spread about the little temptress with men wrapped around her finger.

Things only got worse from there, because every time she said anything without enough thought, her words would be reinterpreted in truly misguided ways. Before she knew it, Diana had already been crowned with the unwanted title of ‘the wickedest bad girl of high society’.

“I say… leaving aside whether or not I remember doing these things, my reputation is undeniably at rock bottom. So why the Red Rose Room?”

“Who knows… Perhaps to them, reputation and status are different matters? If that’s the case, then perhaps the harem staff overthought things and concluded that Lord Crester used his power to enter you into the harem. It would explain the special treatment they’re giving you.”

“…That sounds quite likely. Goodness, who even asked for this…?”

Diana certainly hadn’t wanted to enter the harem, nor had Elisabeth, Dualis, or Edward. Not one person had even considered the possibility. Her family knew well that her personality was a poor match for the place.

Unfortunately, the rest of society was under the impression that Count Crester forced the harem to accept Diana, both to spoil his daughter and to grasp control of the throne. Likewise, the assumption was that Diana herself was vying to become queen consort. Why things had come to this was due to multiple factors, however.

“Being the queen would be such a bother… And I can already predict what a pain relationships with the other girls is going to be… What am I even doing here?”

“Oh, my poor Lady Diana…! I swear to find a way to get you out of here, my Lady!”

“Thank you, Lita. You’re the only one I can rely on.”

…Ordinarily, this would be a very out-of-place exchange to having with her maid for the girl closest to emerging victorious in the struggle to become queen. Both Diana and Lita were deadly serious, however.

Two knocks on the door interrupted their conversation. Lita headed for the door and informed Diana that the maids and court ladies had arrived.

“Let them in,” said Diana.

“Yes. Please come in, everyone.”

After Lita opened the door, about a dozen maids and two court ladies entered the room. Incidentally, the marked difference in clothing made court ladies quite distinguishable from the maids.

“Lady Red Rose, it is an honour to meet you. My name is Mia, the court lady assigned to serve the Red Rose Room henceforth. To my side is my fellow court lady Isla, as well as the vice-head maid Juli.

Each girl bowed as she was introduced.

“It is my honour to meet you,” said Isla.

“I vow to serve you with all my heart,” said Juli.

Apparently these three were the highest ranked amongst the servants assigned here, Diana realised. Diana smiled.

“Thank you for introducing yourselves. I’m Diana Crester. This is my maid Lita, who joined me here from home. The two of us will be in your care from now on,” she said.

Diana’s response had apparently surprised one of the maids. They had all been bowing to Diana, but the one with the black hair, memorable for its rarity, looked up at Diana in shock. Their eyes met, so Diana decided to just smile, but this only had the effect of making the girl look more shocked.

…Had somebody misunderstood something again?

“…Umm, Lady Diana? May I speak?” said Mia.

“Huh? Oh, yes, what is it?”

The maids had stopped bowing at some point, and Mia, with a solemn expression, made her announcement.

—His Majesty would be visiting Diana tonight.


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01 – Prologue

“What on earth have you been doing?!”

That day, outraged scolding could be heard throughout the comital Crester Manor.


Amongst the aristocrats of the Kingdom of Elgrand, not one individual was unfamiliar with the House of Crester.

They were, after all, said to be the ‘sovereigns of evil, rulers of the criminal underworld’.

House Crester had held its peerage for more than three hundred years. Throughout that time, they had amassed an overwhelming fortune via countless crimes, although none could prove that they had done so. Their network of connections and villainous methods had endured the succession of generations, and by now their roots had spread throughout the Kingdom.

Even if by some freak of fate one did manage to find a hint of their wrongdoings, a ‘hint’ would never be cause for their concern. It was no skin off their back to abandon a catspaw, and never had their bottom line been touched.

Moving against them came with great risk, so any who believed in upholding justice could only watch on in impotent rage.

Well, at least that was what the rumours said.

“Is this not your fault to begin with? It would never have come to this if you had handled things properly! The palace, now, of all times?! This is the one time your stupidly intimidating face could have been good for something, but now this!”

“I-I’m sorry, Ellie. I can explain! I can explain so please put down that vase…!”

“Mother, please calm down!”

In the midst of the chaos were a man and woman in the prime of their lives. To the side, a paling young man was trying to mediate. It was what was commonly known as a family argument.

All three of them bore fine clothes, and every movement was taken with grace (so long as you ignored what they were currently doing). They looked like they were from the upper class, and they were indeed.

These were Count Dualis Crester, his lady wife Elisabeth Crester, and the eldest son Edward Crester. Indeed, this was the infamous House Crester.

“Do not stand in my way, Edward! I cannot abide this, not this! Anything but my daughter!”

“Your anger is justified, Mother, but if you keep hitting Father he’ll…!”

“Then let him! That stupid face looks like it could survive anything!”

“His face might look like that, but he might still actually die…” muttered Edward.

(And in truth, that did look like the face of a man you could never be rid of.)

Dualis immediately sensed Edward’s sentiment because he shouted at his son from beneath the table.

“Ed, you traitor~!”

It was hard to reconcile this pathetic sight with the term ‘Sovereign of Evil’, no matter how you spun it.

Naturally, the talk about being the ‘rulers of the criminal underworld’ was nothing more than a rumour. For those who knew his true self, it would be a challenge to describe any part of Dualis as ‘evil’.

Unfortunately, the rumours did not persist without reason. And that reason was—

“What part! Of this stupidly! Cruel-looking face! Dared to tell me! That you ‘made a’! ‘Little mistake’?!”

In what could only be explained as the mysteries of DNA, House Crester was full of evil-looking people. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that members of the Crester line could only be born evil-looking. No matter how innocent the mother might look, the blood of the Cresters would inevitably win out, and her children would all look like little villains.

The current generation of Cresters were a good example. Count Dualis Crester was born looking exceptionally cruel and cold, a rare ‘talent’ even for House Crester. He did not look like some brutish ogre. On the contrary, he was exceptionally handsome, but that face could only be described as ‘inhuman’, ‘pitiless’, ‘merciless’, and the like. Expressionless by default, even his rare smiles were said to be sinister and frightening. All in all, the kind of person who would make one think, ‘Whoa, no way that guy isn’t with the mafia or something.’

Uncommon for the nobility, and even more unthinkably for Dualis, his marriage had been one of love (pay attention to this part). His partner Elisabeth, at the time just the daughter of Viscount Rialah, had been well known for her golden blonde hair and ocean blue eyes. With her gentle smiles and soft features, she was practically a fairytale heroine brought to life. Put next to Dualis of all people, she was the very image of a princess being sacrificed to a Demon King.

In spite of others’ worries about her well-being and treatment at the ‘Demon King’s’ hands, the two lovers had got along splendidly after marriage, and a year later Edward had been born. It was at that moment that Elisabeth knew her genes had lost the battle.

“Mother, please just calm down. Even matters that could be resolved won’t be unless we sit down and talk it out,” Edward said carefully, like someone trying to calm down an agitated horse.

The twenty-two-year-old firstborn had gleaming chestnut hair and emerald-green eyes. The colour had been his father’s, while the way their corners gently sloped down had been from his mother. Described this way, one may wonder how exactly Elisabeth’s genetics had lost.

Well.

“Brother. When you say those words with that face, you look like a conman,” his younger sister casually dropped.

“You don’t need to say that because I already know!” Edward retorted aggrievedly. “Also, I’m doing my best, okay?!”

Indeed, even Elisabeth’s famous angelic looks had been twisted by Crester genetics. Even though every individual feature was a dead ringer for his mother, together he was the very picture of ‘a handsome man who uses tender smiles to trick girls, only to cruelly toss them away after toying with and exploiting them for everything they have’. Edward had more or less looked this way since the moment he was born, so it was little wonder that Elisabeth felt so defeated that day.

One other person was in the room. When they realised this, the married couple froze. Elisabeth with the vase still raised, and Dualis whose face was a mere 30 centimetres from being hit.

Finally noticed by her parents, the daughter of the house smiled brightly at them.

“Father, Mother, I’ve boiled some water. How about we put off cracking Father’s head open for the moment, and have some tea together, hmm?”

“How about we put off cracking my head open forever!”

Despite the lingering threat to his life, Dualis cheerfully made for the couch. Elisabeth returned the vase to its rightful place and sat down beside her husband. Edward sat opposite the pair, and made an inquisitive dip of the head.

“You’re making the tea? Where’s Lita?”

“Did you want her to serve us while Mother and Father were like this? The help were all frightened, you know?”

“…Fair enough.”

“Besides, I like making tea. That’s why I told her to leave it to me.”

“I see… Thanks, Diana.”

The girl gazing fondly at Edward was none other than the root of Elisabeth’s anger, Diana Crester, seventeen years old. Edward’s only sister, and Dualis and Elisabeth’s only daughter. It would be a lie to say that she wasn’t spoilt by them, but things were never so simple with the Crester bloodline.

“My sweet Diana!” Elisabeth suddenly sobbed. “Why has it come to this, even though you’re such a gentle, kind-hearted girl? Forgive your useless mother for losing to the Crester bloodline!”

“…Let’s calm down, Mother. I don’t mind the way I look. Aren’t I blessed to have been born beautiful?”

“Diana~!”

…Trying to persuade Elisabeth was pointless.

The siblings shared a look and promptly gave up on trying to console their mother. Elisabeth wasn’t truly, truly upset, but when it came to the matter of Diana’s face, Elisabeth could go on and on for a long time. Her mother would eventually calm down on her own, so Diana decided to just move on.

“Well then, what has Mother so angry?”

“Ah, well err… Try to stay calm, Diana. Basically…”

Her father’s next words would cause Diana’s clear, almond-shaped eyes to shoot wide open.

“A decree has come, declaring you as one of His Majesty Sieg’s concubines…”

That day in spring, in the early afternoon, the only thing that was calm was the skies.

TLN: Something like four other people have translated this chapter already, so I wanted to give it a try too. Also her name is read ‘Dee-Ana’, like the Latin.


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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 240

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1. In Japan there’s a belief that ghosts and hauntings can have physical weight.
e.g. If your shoulders are heavy it might be that you’re possessed.


2. Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marquise of Montespan, was the most celebrated maîtresse-en-titre of King Louis XIV of France, by whom she had seven children.

Long assumed to have been involved in the infamous Affaire des Poisons, Madame de Montespan has never been conclusively implicated. Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie, Paris’ first Lieutenant General of Police and the chief judge of the court, before whom the famous poisoning cases were brought, heard testimony that placed Madame de Montespan’s first visits to the so-called witch Catherine Monvoisin, known as La Voisin, in 1665. According to this testimony, they repeatedly carried out rituals that would create a special potion for the King.

The witch and the Madame de Montespan would call on the devil, and pray to him for the King’s love. As a way to express her gratitude for her request, they sacrificed a newborn’s life by slitting its throat with a knife. Next, the baby’s body would be crushed, and the drained blood and mashed bones would be used in the mixture.

Louis’s food was tainted in this way for almost thirteen years, until the witch was captured after a police investigation where they uncovered the remains of 2,500 infants in La Voisin’s garden. No evidence that the garden search ever actually happened has been found. In 1666, Madame de Montespan supposedly went so far as to allow a priest, Étienne Guibourg, to perform a black mass over her nude body in a blood-soaked ceremony, which was also said to have included infant sacrifice.

Whatever the truth in these allegations, in July 1667, Madame de Montespan became the king’s new mistress even though Louise was carrying his child, Louis de Bourbon, comte de Vermandois.


I somehow managed to impart the dangers of pyramid schemes to her, so at least she wouldn’t be undergoing suspicious miko training for the moment.

Since Fuyuko-sama was the type to disappear into her own weird little world, recently I’d been doing my best to actively include her into our conversations during breaks or lunchtime.

As it turned out she was still a little out of beat with everyone. That said, compared to the days when she would smile passively on the side, she’d progressed to being able to chat happily with the other girls now.

Today the two of us were enjoying tea together in the salon when I brought up that faith healer.

“How did you even meet such a person to begin with?” I asked.

Fuyuko-sama lifted her teacup in hand and tilted her head in thought.

“Well,” she hummed, looking up into the air. “I do believe that I was going to meet with a fortune teller rumoured to be very accurate when I happened to run into her. That was our first meeting. I’ve always been interested in dark magic, unexplained phenomena, ghosts stories and the like. Unfortunately not many people shared my interests so I felt that it was very fortunate to have bumped into a kindred spirit.”

Hmm? She just casually dropped the words ‘dark magic’ didn’t she?

“Umm, Fuyuko-sama. Surely you have not ever taken part in a Black Mass, or a Witches’ Sabbath or…?”

“Of course not,” she laughed, much to my relief…

I was starting to worry that Zui’ran had its own Marquise de Montespan.

Just to be sure, I added in all seriousness, “You must absolutely never take part in such a thing, all right?”

“Oh, don’t worry. I might like stories about these sorts of things but I’d never be able to shower myself in the blood of a dying animal. It would simply be too frightful. Besides, if I had to choose, I’d much rather try my hand at astrology or séance necromancy.”

Oh, right. She was always inviting me to mess around with a ouija board, wasn’t she?

I suppose it would be a challenge to find someone who’d do that with you of their own accord. It’d have been nice if Zui’ran had an Occult Club or something like that.

Although I suppose such a suspicious club might never be approved…

“But yes. Back then I was troubled by a personal matter. Lady Lyuleiah helped guide me through it.”

“My… Fuyuko-sama, should it please you, I would be happy to listen to anything you had on your mind. I might not be of much help but perhaps we could think through the problem together.”

I’d be troubled if it was anything too heavy, but listening never cost anyone anything! Not that I thought I’d be of any help though!

Her almond-shaped eyes went wide for a moment.

“Thank you very much,” she said as her expression settled into something happy and bashful. “In that case, would it be alright if I told you about it?”

“Of course,” I assured her with vigorous nodding.

People our age tended to be very worry prone, after all.

I was a little curious about what it was.

Was it some kind of family problem? Maybe some trouble at school?

Again, given our age, perhaps it was a romantic problem?

Just to be sure I’d hear her, I moved next to where Fuyuko-sama was sitting and leaned in towards her.

I’m ready now! Shoot!

“The truth is, I sometimes hear a rapping noise in my room late at night.”

“Eh.”

A ghost problem!?

“So you have a… rapping noise problem…”

…As expected of Fuyuko-sama.

To think that even her worries were of the occult world…

Haginokouji Fuyuko.

She was without a doubt a woman true to her path──

“I’m not sure how many years it has been. When I get into bed and try to sleep, I hear an ominous rapping noise from the corner of my room, and then I end up paralysed…”

“Wah…”

How scary.

Rapping noises and then being paralysed? Maybe this really was supernatural…

This was certainly a heavy subject, but maybe more literally than I’d expected.

And maybe I was imagining things, but I thought I saw a person behind Fuyuko-sama just now…

Uuuuuugh. This was sending shivers down my spine.

“…Ummm, would it not be prudent to invite a monk or a priest to exorcise your home for you?”

“Yes, I thought of that too, so I discussed it with Lady Lyuleiah who graciously introduced me to a famous spiritualist.”

“A spiritualist…”

“A master medium to be precise. Her abilities were truly beyond my imagination. Even though she’d never seen my house before, she used clairvoyance and found out that there was an old well in our garden!” Fuyuko-sama recounted fervently.

“Well, that certainly is something…” I hedged.

“Isn’t it just? She also said that there was a large pine tree in my garden, which was spot on. I was so shocked. Anyhow, that master spiritualist told me that in the past a young fiancée fell into the well and died before she could get married… Back then they treated it as an unfortunate accident, but the truth was that it was her fiancé who…”

“Ehh!?”

She was killed!? Oh no no…! I hate scary stories!

I’m sorry, Fuyuko-sama, I don’t think I’m up to this!

“After that she used her spirit sight to find out that the rapping noises and paralysis was because I was the closest to the woman in age, and she couldn’t pass on because of her resentment and grief…”

Huh. For some reason my shoulders were starting to hurt…

“And so she tried to exorcise my home for me, but because the grudge had been around for so long, the well in my garden had already been transformed into a hellgate.”

“A hellgate…?”

“Like the one in Kyoto, you know? They say that in the Heian period, Ono no Takamura would climb down a well into Hell. Apparently the well in my house has become the same thing.”

“That sounds incredibly problematic!”

“Yes. But the master used a talisman to seal the well for me so it isn’t too big a deal. That said, she hasn’t been able to stop the rapping noises or the paralysis.”

“…”

…Oh wow. I casually said that I’d help her, but what was I supposed to do about a spiritual problem?

To begin with, I wouldn’t be able to endure it for a second if my room had a ghost in it.

It was unbelievable how Fuyuko-sama didn’t mind at all. Ah, wait, no I guess she did mind. That’s why we were having this conversation.

“Uu…”

But my shoulders felt heavy.

Hey, don’t tell me I’d really been possessed!?

“Is something the matter?” she asked.

“Ah… Well, my shoulders feel a bit…”

“My! How terrible! Please wait a moment.”

Fuyuko-sama reached into her pocket and produced a pink magatama.

Holding the magatama in her hand, she began to brush it against my shoulders while chanting a Buddhist mantra.

“Om khili khili…”

“Fuyuko-sama, is that magatama some sort of evil-warding talisman?” I asked.

“No, I got this from a marriage shrine. It’s for blessing people with luck in romance.”

What was the point in that!?

Still, after a while my shoulders did start to feel better. Thank goodness…

“Returning to our previous subject,” I began, while she continued her work. “I suppose your problems will persist as long as that hellgate remains…”

“Yes. But I’ve already sort of given up on finding a solution. Sometimes I invite the spiritual master over to purify our estate, and I’ve been learning spiritual healing from Lady Lyuleiah to purify my surroundings myself, but…”

Fuyuko-sama moved from my shoulders to my back.

“What the hell are you doing?” someone suddenly asked.

Surprised, I looked up to find Kaburagi looking queerly at us.

To clarify, right now the two of us were huddled together in a corner of the salon, me sitting on a chair, and Fuyuko-sama scrubbing me with great ceremony and concentration.

I suppose it did look a little queer.

I sat a little straighter in my chair.

The first course of action was to smile and pretend like nothing happened.

“Gokigen’yoh, Kaburagi-sama.”

Unfortunately the suspicion in his eyes just deepened instead.

Tsk. Somebody teach this guy to let things go.

“…Umm. We were actually discussing something of great importance to Fuyuko-sama,” I tried.

“Yes. Reika-sama was kindly listening to my problems,” she agreed.

“Problems?”

Kaburagi squinted at us.

“Y-Yes. And so we were actually still in the middle of that,” I continued.

Unspoken was the request for him to piss off, but for some reason Kaburagi dropped himself onto the couch.

“Alright. Let’s hear it then.”

“Hah?”

Um, why?

“I’ve actually got a bit of business with Kisshouin here. Let’s get your problem sorted first,” he said to Fuyuko-sama.

Eh-, did he just decide that on his own?

Also I already had a bad feeling about this ‘bit of business’ he mentioned.

“Well, that is…”

Kaburagi was urging us on with his expression, but I was hesitant.

“Does it look like you’ll find a solution to this problem of hers?” he pressed.

How the hell was I supposed to find a solution to a hellgate?

“What’s the matter? Is it something you can’t talk to me about?”

Hmmmmmm. I mean, was this something we could discuss?

If things went poorly, the Haginokouji Estate could drop in real estate value because of a reputation for being haunted…

I glanced to the side at Fuyuko-sama. Our eyes met and she gave me a small nod.

I guess it was fine then.

Or rather, I had no choice but to explain now.

“It would be best if we kept this amongst ourselves,” I hinted, before I began.

“Got it,” he nodded.

With that confirmation, I began quietly explaining the situation.

“The truth is that Fuyuko-sama has been troubled by some supernatural phenomena…”

“Supernatural phenomena?” Kaburagi frowned.

“Yes. Specifically, at night she’ll hear a rapping noise in her room, and sometimes she’ll wake up paralysed. Is that not so, Fuyuko-sama?”

“It’s true…” she smiled helplessly.

In her place, I began to explain that this had been happening for years now.

Kaburagi glanced over at Fuyuko-sama.

“Is your house wooden?”

“Eh-, yes…”

“What you’re hearing is either some wooden furniture in your room, or the building itself. Changes in the humidity can cause wood to contract, which is known to make the noises you describe.

“It’s a harmless natural phenomenon, but if it’s the house that’s making the noise that could spell trouble. When you get home, put a marble on the floor in the middle of your room. If it starts to roll, you need to get in contact with an architect and have them do an inspection sooner rather than later.”

“A natural phenomenon…” I muttered.

“A marble…” she muttered.

And that was how Kaburagi casually solved the rapping noises.

“Termites can be real trouble,” he added.

“But, the paralysis…”

“You’re probably not sleeping well. Did the sleep paralysis happen when something changed in your life?” he asked.

“There was a funeral around that time,” she admitted.

“That’s not what I mean. I’m asking if you changed your pillow, or if you were sleeping less soundly because of stress.”

“My pillow…? Come to think of it, when I became a high school student we remodelled my room from a tatami one to a western-styled room. Since that was the case, I replaced my futon with a bed.” Fuyuko-sama continued with a hint of embarrassment, “Ever since I was little, I’d always wanted to try sleeping on a bed.”

“That’s probably it,” nodded Kaburagi. “It’s probably the new materials you used during your renovation. The sleep paralysis was because of the poor sleep you were getting after changing your sleeping environment. Once the wood has finished shrinking, the rapping noises should stop. As for the sleep paralysis, it should get better if you try sleeping on a futon again.”

“She wasn’t used to a bed…” I muttered.

“So I should sleep on a futon…” she muttered.

The girl with a Heian-era face was apparently not well-suited to sleeping on a western bed…

“Was that all?” Kaburagi asked after standing up.

“But, the master spiritualist…” Fuyuko-sama muttered.

“Spiritualist…?”

Aahh, he just had to ask.

Kaburagi sat back down onto the couch.

Was she planning on telling him the story about the well?

“What’s this about a spiritualist?”

Fuyuko-sama and I shared a glance.

“Umm, it’s a person who can see things that we can’t…”

“See things that we can’t?”

His expression turned grim.

“That might be a rare condition known as Charles Bonnet syndrome that can cause visual hallucinations. I’d recommend that she head to the hospital for a full check-up as soon as she can.”

“Visual hallucinations…” I muttered.

“Charles Bonnet syndrome…” she muttered.

Kaburagi gave her the name of a hospital with a famed ophthalmologist.

“Umm, but that spiritualist really did know about the well and the pine tree at her house…”

Fuyuko-sama nodded in agreement.

“It’s true. I never told anybody about the well, but she somehow knew about it. Could it be that this isn’t a hallucination but actually…”

“You can find that stuff out by checking your real estate registry, or through aerial photographs.”

“Real estate registry…” I muttered.

“Aerial photographs…” she muttered.

“They call it hot reading when you do research in advance and then unveil your findings like you just found out with magic.”

“…”

“…”

What a realistic and grounded answer. And what persuasive power.

The rapping noise was because of the materials used during renovation.

The paralysis was a sleeping disorder because she wasn’t used to her new bed.

The clairvoyance was actually just Charles Bonnet syndrome and aerial photographs. And hot reading…

I glanced over to see how Fuyuko-sama was doing.

“So he says, Fuyuko-sama…”

“Eh-, ah… Yes.”

She looked dumbfounded.

“Then, about my shoulders feeling heavy and painful…”

“Kisshouin, that’s muscle pain because of poor posture.”

He settled my concerns with one phrase.

“Is that all then?” he asked.

When he left his seat this time, he stayed standing. And then placed a hand firm hand on my shoulder.

“Well then, looks like it’s time for my concerns.”

Now there was a new ghost on my shoulder…!

 


 



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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 239

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I have food envy.

You Americans…

Anyhow,

The Chinese word for four (四, pinyin: sì, jyutping: sei3), sounds quite similar to the word for death (死, pinyin: sǐ, jyutping: sei2), in many varieties of Chinese. Similarly, the Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean and Sino-Vietnamese words for four, shi (し, Japanese) and sa (사, Korean), sound similar or identical to death in each language (see Korean numerals, Japanese numerals, Vietnamese numerals).


My mid-terms were finally starting tomorrow, so it was time to get some last minute cramming in.

I spent a bit of time doing exercises. When I went to grab a rubber to rub out some of my mistakes the Zui’ran University brochure, sandwiched between some textbooks, happened to catch my eye.

Maybe it was time for a break.

I flopped onto my bed and thought about my future as I stared at it.

There was a dream I’d had since I was a kid. Specifically the dream of a successful get rich quick scheme.

In preparation for a future of destitution, starting in primary school I slowly saved up money little by little so that I could go to university and ultimately land a job (preferably in government) with nice employee benefits.

On the other hand I’d also always dreamed of a life of easy money.

Haaah~ Wouldn’t that be nice?

If I earned enough money to never worry about it again, I could spend the rest of my life cruising along. Haaah.

That said, my dream wasn’t to suddenly win the lottery, or to save some random grandpa who’d bequeath his legacy onto me or anything. I’m not crazy.

If you were wondering what exactly a perfectly grounded person like me was dreaming about then, the answer was inventions.


Just like those housewives who invented hit products like those washing machine nets for catching lint, or those toe-only slippers for toning your calves, I, too, would one day invent something that would bring me an income without having to work!

With that royalty-funded lifestyle in mind, I was thinking of going to university to learn about patents and stuff. The competition would be rough though. And honestly, if I was going to university anyhow, I might as well become a lawyer and file my own patents, right?

In my other plan I’d need to be nationally qualified anyhow, so it was killing two birds with one stone. I’m sure I left the book on qualifications somewhere…

Ah, let’s see… Hm hm… Maybe I’d start with the certification exam first.

I’d like to start off by inventing something useful for everyday life like those housewives do, but ideally I’d eventually invent something that would take the world by storm. And then I’d end up being chosen by American magazines as one of the hundred most influential people in the world.

“Guhuhuhuhuhuhu…”

I gleefully kicked my bed as I pictured my photogenic smile on the cover of a magazine.

Hmm, what should I invent as the first step towards my ambitions?

I guess if I was to follow my predecessors it’d be a product for the kitchen, or maybe for dieting? ‘As long as you have this, a diet is a cinch’ or something like that.

Hmmm…

Like maybe something that could press your pressure points just by wearing it, so you’d lose weight without any effort. But for something like that to work, the material would need to be fairly stiff.

Something hard then. Maybe metal?

Right, what about chainmail?

‘Diet Neo-Chainmail’.

It’d be avant garde despite the conservative design, so as an undergarment you could wear it anywhere.

You could treat it as a fashion accessory too, because you’d show glimpses of it at the neckline. Wouldn’t that be splendid?

I could sell it on those infomercials that they play late at night.

And then I’d make hundreds of millions of Yen in the first hour.

“Uhyoh hyoh hyoh!”

Maybe before long some fashion designer would ask to collaborate! And then we’d go global! Maybe we’d even build a chainmail palace in the most expensive location in the city!

“Uhyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh!”

There was no stopping this laughter…!

First off was establishing a company.

Besides that, what if I took advantage of the oil hype and released a hair serum with fish oil? ‘The lustre of the black carp for your hair’ or something.

Ça Va & Briller‘ or something.

…Yeah, this could definitely sell!

Aah, the ideas were just coming to me one after another! Maybe we could even own our own headquarters building in the CBD!

I could almost taste the money already!

“Hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh hyoh!”

I heard a knocking at my door.

“Reika, it’s late so go to sleep.”

“All right, Oniisama.”

Oops. Got a little too excited there.

Well, since I did get a break in the end, I suppose it was back to studying.

Gyahh!

You’re joking. Just that little break was over an hour long!?

Where did all that time go!?

I frantically chugged down an energy drink and went back to my desk to make up lost time.

Looks like it was going to be an all-nighter! I had to give it my all if I wanted to make my dream a reality!

*

*

*

Although some things happened along the way, I held out until the day of the tests.

No sooner had we finished the last did Kaburagi invite Wakaba-chan out on a studying date. Where did he get that stamina?

I was barely awake after all the late nights I’d pulled. In fact my immediate plans were to head home and take a 10-hour nap.

Later on I found out through a phone call with Wakaba-chan that he’d apparently taken her to a famous chocolatier store.

“And you see? There was this chocolate parfait that they were selling limited numbers of each day, right? It was so delicious. The chocolate ice cream in it was so creamy and rich that it totally revolutionised my idea of a parfait!” she said.

A parfait in the sense of a dessert served in a tall glass, usually comprising ice cream, fruits, cream, buttercream, chocolate sauce, or nuts etc. In France, where it originated, it refers to a “frozen dessert made from a base of sugar syrup, egg, and cream”. When it came to America it more extra, and then it got super extra in Japan.

From what she was telling me, that date he’d been agonising over had gone quite well. Of all things, apparently he’d even extracted a promise of a next date from her, because then she said,

“And the place we stopped by after that had these ammonites embedded in the walls. When I mentioned that the marble used at Zui’ran also had quite a few fossils in them, Kaburagi told me that he liked paleontology too, and which walls they were specifically. He even knew more about it than me!” she gushed. “We just kept talking and talking. And so we’re going to see some dinosaurs when we have a chance.”

…Seeing dinosaurs as a date was a little unique, but Wakaba-chan seemed to be looking forward to it, and this did fit with what Enjou said about moulding your date to the interests of your partner.

Not bad, Kaburagi.

*

*

*

A few days later, the results were finally out.

“Reika-sama, it seems that the results of our mid-terms are out.”

“Oh, so they are.”

I was a little―no, very confident this time.

I was affecting an air of nonchalance about it like usual, but I suggested we all check the results together.

Just in case, I added, “Unfortunately I had little chance to study this time. I was just so tired from the class trip.”

When we arrived it was a sea of people surrounding the board.

It was time.

Come to me, top 10!

…Eh?

“My! It looks like Kaburagi-sama’s number one again.”

“As expected of Kaburagi-sama.”

The girls were chatting about the results but I didn’t have the composure for that.

It wasn’t there… My… Name… Wasn’t… There…!

To be sure, I looked up and down the ranking board time and time again.

It wasn’t there…

This couldn’t be.

After all that time he spent worrying about romance Kaburagi still made #1, while I studied butt off every day and didn’t even make the ranking board!?

Impossible.

Impossibleee!

Nearby, I could hear Wakaba-chan and Fellow Stalking Horse praising each other for their efforts.

“Damn. Looks like I lost to you again, Takamichi,” said Fellow Stalking Horse.

“I studied pretty darn hard, after all~ But you still made 3rd place,” Wakaba-chan pointed out.

“I guess. I’ll beat you next time for sure. Anyway, congratulations on 2nd place.”

“Ehehe~ Thanks. Congrats to you too.”

“Thanks.”

So Wakaba-chan tried pretty hard then? Incidentally I studied pretty hard too, though…

It was a little awkward saying this, but Wakaba-chan was busy with her work at the Student Council, and spent her free time with me, while Kaburagi was daydreaming about romance and didn’t study at all, right!?

So what the heck was this huge difference in results? What was this huge difference between us!?

I gave up almost all my sleep time in the lead-up to these tests.

I don’t even remember how many energy drinks I went through.

I was suffering from breakouts. I was even getting stomach aches.

That was when Enjou and Kaburagi appeared, parting the sea of people like Moses.

Kaburagi looked thoroughly uninterested as the people around him congratulated him endlessly. He really couldn’t seem to care less.

Then he raised an eyebrow and turned to Enjou.

“Bad day, Shuusuke?”

Enjou gave a helpless smile.

Right, Kaburagi was 1st place, Wakaba-chan was 2nd place, Fellow Stalking Horse was 3rd, and Enjou was 4th.

4th huh…

I wasn’t sure how to feel about that being a ‘bad day’ for him, but thinking about it Enjou had always been in the top 3.

I guess it was kind of surprising to see him fall out of there.

That said, 4th place was more than respectable.

4th place.

…I suppose the number 4 was a little unlucky.

Maybe my curse worked after all?

Kaburagi seemed to sense my gaze because he turned to me and our eyes met.

Then he broke his gaze to look up and down the ranking board before turning back to me.

“…”

“…”

Please stop.

Stop looking at me like that.

Before he could make this worse by opening his mouth, I left for my classroom with the girls.

“Hey, don’t you think Kaburagi-sama was really staring at Reika-sama just now?” chirped Kikuno-chan.

“You noticed too, Kikuno-san?” replied Serika-chan.

The girls started happily gossiping about it but they couldn’t be more off the mark.

That stare was saying ‘You kept going on about cram school and tutoring like a massive nerd, but you don’t even have the grades to be one’!

Aaaaaah!

I shouldn’t have kept using studying as my excuse to refuse him!

I was so embarrassed that I could die…!

When we got our report cards after that, I sneaaaakily took a look.

…Oh gosh! How foreboding! I was rank 44!

I’d dropped in rankings so much that I had a mini panic attack. Maybe I should start going to cram school more days of the week…

*

*

I didn’t snap out of my shock for the rest of the day.

After school I was just wordlessly sipping tea in the Salon.

“You seem listless. Does something trouble you?” Fuyuko-sama asked me softly. “Please let me help. The truth is, at Lady Lyuleiah’s encouragement, I’ve been undergoing training to become a miko.”

“Training to become a miko…?”

And who was Lady Lyu-, ah. It was that self-proclaimed mystic healer that she introduced me to last time, wasn’t it?

And becoming a shrine maiden? Fuyuko-sama was doing something strange again…

“Indeed. We miko are tasked by the heavens to help those in need of it. Reika-sama, please take my hand. First of all I’m going to inject my qi into you and heal and purify your heart.”

“I see…”

“See? Do you feel that warmth? It is the qi circulating inside you.”

Err, I don’t feel anything.

Suddenly, Fuyuko-sama began throat-singing like a Mongolian.

“Uuiiiiiiiiii~”

“Erm, F-Fuyuko-sama?”

“The angels are descending. Uuiiiiiiii~”

“Stop, please stop.”

I’m begging you, there are people here.

“What is that, someone’s mobile?”

“I think it’s a cicada…?”

A few people had already noticed the strange sound and were looking around the room.

“I may just be an apprentice miko, but I shall do my best to guide you. If I manage to guide five people, I will be acknowledged as a full miko. If I guide ten people, I become an intermediate miko, and if I manage to guide twenty then I’ll be recognised as a high-ranking miko…”

“…Fuyuko-sama, that…”

That’s a pyramid scheme, Fuyuko-sama!

Using cooking pots and detergent as an example, I thoroughly lectured Fuyuko-sama on the dangers of pyramid schemes.

Far from relieving me of my worries, I felt like had more things to worry about now…


This is my first time embedding an audio file as a reference.

I didn’t even know it was possible. How fun!


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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 238

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Chocolat (French pronunciation: ​[ʃɔkɔla]) is a 2000 romantic-drama film based on the 1999 novel Chocolat by the English author, Joanne Harris. It was directed by Lasse Hallström. Adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat tells the story of Vianne Rocher, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes at the beginning of Lent with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. She opens a small chocolaterie. Soon, she and her chocolate influence the lives of the townspeople of this repressed French community in different and interesting ways.


It was a Monday.

The mid-terms were right around the corner, so every second was precious for our year.

And yet here I was, reading another blunt summons from Kaburagi.

‘Small meeting room after school.’

Why the heck was I being treated like some doormat? Do you truly believe that this lady is such an easy woman!?

When I stepped into the room, Kaburagi was already there, poring through some magazines with a frown.

This guy was treating this place like his bedroom now.

He jerked his head towards a seat.

“Well? Sit down,” he said self-importantly.

I couldn’t stand it and voiced a complaint.

“…Kaburagi-sama, I am busy as well. How many times must I say this before you understand?”

“I’m going somewhere with Takamichi after the tests are over, hence the planning I’m doing.”

So you’re ignoring me now?

“…But I am sure you said you would think about it after the tests.”

“That’s too long. No matter what you’re doing, it’s always crucial to plan and prepare well beforehand.”

Since Wakaba-chan agreed to a date when he went over during that weekend, I suppose he just couldn’t hold it in anymore.

…Study for your exams, damnit.

The results for this year would affect whether you could continue on to Pivoine’s university, you know? Geez…

And on that topic, I was in the middle of coming up with an English vocabulary notebook with the colourful and lovely stationery I bought in Rome.

The comments I was adding to the answer sheets were colour-coded so it was taking a while. Still, it was quite stylish to behold, if I did say so myself.

Aahh, I need to quickly go home and continue it. This isn’t the time to be messing about here.

“Would it not be fine to talk to some other human being about your love troubles? For example, your friend…?”

With a gasp, I slapped a hand over my mouth.

“Could it be that you actually have no frien-”

“I’ll destroy you.”

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

It was like he had little fires in his eyes! He’s going to destroy meeee!

I went a little overboard. I’m sorry. So sorry.

Gosh, people really do get angry when you confront them with the truth.

“Sit.”

“…Okay.”

I glanced at the magazines he’d been reading.

Not one of them was a magazine I’d ever expect him to read; they were basically all gossip magazines for regular people, focused on trendy places or the latest fads.

In a sense, the fact that he was trying to match Wakaba-chan and read these to find out was proof of a little growth on his part.

That said, I wasn’t sure about the fact that the content was stuff like ‘Special! Dirt Cheap Ramen Eats for Foodies’… Don’t just walk into the store and buy every magazine you can see, Kaburagi.

Even back issues are fine, as long as they recommend good amusement parks or date spots, right? What are you going to do with these?

Oh ho? Is that okonomiyaki on that cover?

Osaka-style okonomiyaki is the predominant version of the dish, found throughout most of Japan. The batter is made of flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients such as green onion, meat (generally thin pork belly, often mistaken for bacon), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, konjac, mochi or cheese. Don’t be tricked by evil Hiroshima-styled layered noodlenomiyaki. It’s 1AM and I’m hungry.

Let me have a look at that.

For the next few seconds I went silent and read.

“…Have you ever eaten ramen before, Kisshouin?”

“More foolish questions, I see.”

Who did he think he was talking to?

Gosh, I could go for some pork okonomiyaki right now. Ah, but seafood okonomiyaki was great toooo. Hmmm, maybe prawns, squid, and scallops…?

“I’ve never eaten at a ramen place like this, but it seems pretty popular.”

“It does!”

Crunchy potato sounded yummy too…

“I can’t comprehend the feeling of wanting to eat ramen so badly that you’d line up. The average place has you waiting for an hour.”

“It does~”

But of course you just had to have a monjayaki before leaving.

A cheese and mentaiko monjayaki. A monjayaki is similar to an okonomiyaki, except it uses a pan-fried batter and tends to feature less “topping” ingredients. Since the batter is runnier it tends to cook thinner than okonomiyaki. I’m editing this at 2AM a few days later and I’m not any less hungry.

Aahhh, I could really go for a cheese monjayaki.

“Honestly it makes me wonder if they’re really that good.”

“It does?”

“…”

“…”

“Oi, have you been listening to a word I’ve said!?”

“Of course. I am all ears.”

It does, it does.

Kaburagi clicked his tongue.

“…Well? What is it you’ve been reading about that’s had you ignoring me this whole time?” Kaburagi moved to my side and had a look over my shoulder.

What the heck~ Don’t look~

“The hell? Okonomiyaki? Pass that here and give me a look.”

“Ah-! Hey!

I was reading that first!

Apparently it was okonomiyaki that interested him now, because he took my magazine and started reading it himself!

You self-centred…!

“Have you ever tried okonomiyaki before, Kaburagi-sama?”

“I have, actually. I was overseas, and there was a branch of one of our okonomiyaki shops.”

Why would you go overseas to…?

Well, I suppose being fair it wasn’t as though the son of the distinguished Kaburagi family would have a chance to eat commoner food like okonomiyaki or ramen.

It wasn’t like I’d ever eaten okonomiyaki with my family either.

I’d been forced to secure my own supply through visiting street vendors.

At any rate, that was how I ended up giving Kaburagi a food lecture. I’d covered the war between the Light Broth Ramen gang and the Thick Broth Ramen clan and was in the middle of explaining the intricacies of okonomiyaki toppings when the door to the meeting room opened.

It was Enjou behind it.

“So this is where you were. What are the two of you doing together?” he asked.

“I’m coming up with a date plan for Takamichi,” Kaburagi explained.

Oh, come to think of it that was what we came here for.

My mind was entranced by okonomiyaki and I forgot all about it.

Enjou hummed. “I see.”

He scanned the magazines spread across the table, and read the titles one by one.

“‘Ramen So Good You’ll Pay to Line Up!’

“‘Cheap Eats for Foodies: A Comprehensive Study!’

“‘Cities You’d Most Want to Live In!’…”

Kaburagi and I were silent.

“‘Date plan’?” Enjou asked.

Enough already, Enjou.

Even the guy who brought that magazine is starting to get how ridiculous he was. Just look at his expression! Doesn’t that look like a man who just had his mistakes pointed out?

“U-Umm, oh look! A number of couples have submitted where they went for their dates.”

Kind person that I was, I changed the topic after finding something suitable on one of the magazines.

“Show me.”

Kaburagi began reading with interest.

“What if you did as the couples in the magazine did? Meet up with her first, see a film, and then go to a café or out for lunch?”

“A film, huh?”

“That is what anyone thinks of for a date. See? Look at the ‘lovebird students’ column: ‘Going to the movies is great because you can go to a café afterwards and have fun talking about it!’.”

“I see. That might be good.”

Enthused with the idea, Kaburagi began checking which films were showing. Conveniently there were even recommendations for dates.

“Do you often watch films, Kaburagi-sama?” I asked.

“Yeah, I like them.”

Wasn’t this perfect then?

“Any genre in particular?”

“Hmm, I enjoy documentaries that follows an animal in its natural habitat. The magnificence of animals overcoming Mother Nature’s brutal trails is overwhelming. I often watch them at home for a change of pace.”

I see~

So Kaburagi was into nature documentaries. I guess it did suit him.

“But it does not look like any such documentaries are showing in cinemas at the moment.”

“No. Right now the most popular showing is this romance film.”

Romance, huh?

I began reading the summary of the movie he mentioned.

“Do you even watch romantic films, Krabugi-sama?”

Before Kaburagi could answer, Enjou cut in. “Contrary to appearances, Masaya likes love stories too.”

“My, is that so?” I asked.

“It’s true. He’s a romantic. Also rather than love comedies, he’s the type that prefers the traditional romances; the ones where the couple overcome setbacks together and live happily ever after.”

“Shaddap.”

Maybe he was embarrassed about having that fact exposed, but Kaburagi didn’t look very happy right now.

“That makes this film perfect then, would you not agree? The forbidden love between a stranger in an insular village, and a young girl who lives there. I wonder if it is like Chocolat.”

“I liked Chocolat too. That was less of a romance and more of a drama film though.”

I see. So the boy who liked calling chocolate ‘chocolat’ also liked Chocolat the film. Since I was a person who called chocolat ‘chocolate’ I liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

But geez. So boys liked romances too, huh~?

“Could it be that you actually also watch romances, Enjou-sama?” I asked the boy who had been watching me and Kaburagi with a faint smile.

“Me? Gee, I’ve hardly seen any. To be honest I’m not sure what’s so interesting about them,” Enjou admitted. “Romances aren’t something you watch; it’s something you experience, right?”

The two of us turned to stone at his words.

“H-Hohoho. I see. Then what kind of films do you like to watch, Enjou-sama?”

“I like the classics. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The Tin Drum. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her…”

A horror film, a war film, and a crime drama.

…You could see glimpses of the type of person he was through his tastes.

I took a few steps away from him in my mind.

At any rate, Kaburagi and I looked through the magazine and hammered out the details for his date plan. I guess Enjou must have been bored or something because he grabbed the nearest magazine and indifferently skimmed through it too.

“Well, doing things this way isn’t exactly bad but…” I think was what he muttered.

“What was that, Shuusuke?”

“Hm? Ah, well, following a date course like this is fine and all, but I was just wondering if you’d really make a girl happy by doing so.”

Kaburagi and I glanced at each other.

“What do you mean?”

“Since you’re inviting a girl out, shouldn’t you be more focused on what she would find fun? In that case rather than following some stranger’s date plan to the letter, wouldn’t she have more fun if you tailored one to her own interests?”

He continued. “Even if you read these magazines front to cover, in the end you won’t find Takamichi-san’s opinion in there.”

…I see. Well, that’s what the experienced Chief of the Fulfilling Romance village says. What are you going to do, Kaburagi?

Kaburagi put down the magazine.

“Don’t just rely on manuals, Kisshouin.”

Wow, what a barefaced betrayal…!

What a guy.

He threw all of the the shame of relying on instructions onto me, and then had the gall to look like he was with Enjou’s camp all along! He was the one who brought these magazines!

He was the one who wanted a manual in the first place!

Wasn’t this making it out like I some unpopular kid who was the only one in the room without dating experience now!?

I’ve been on plenty of dates! Younger males, older males, you name ittt!

I was so angry that I decided to take some magazines as compensation.

I made a show of putting them in my bag. From his expression, Kaburagi seemed to have realised his miscalculation, but who cared about him?

If he was going to say all that, then perhaps this poor village chief――who was so devoid of imagination that she couldn’t come up with her own date plans――would like to know what the villagers of Fulfilling Romance would do.

“For reference I sure would be interested in hearing about the dates you have come up with yourself, Enjou-sama.”

If your plans are boring just watch how I sneer at you!

Enjou smiled pleasantly back.

“I wonder if anything I say would be useful as a reference. I’ve rarely been on a date where I did the inviting.”

God in Heaven! Please punish the Fulfilling Romance village with an ice age! Please turn their land of eternal spring into a frozen waste!

“Goodness, hohoho. Are you sure it is not because anybody you invited refused you the time of day?”

“Sorry, Kisshouin-san.”

Enjou’s smile grew wider.

“Since the day I was born, not once have I been rejected.”

Diediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediediedie…

Off to Enjou’s side, His Majesty the Emperor was brutally punching some invisible foe.

*

*

*

That night, I received another bothersome message.

‘After the tests, take me for ramen and okonomiyaki.’

So I deleted it.


Accidentally turning on the stream too early.


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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 237

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1. Host and hostess clubs are a type of night-life entertainment business model. The hosts and hostesses make conversation with patrons and make them feel appreciated, flattered, and/or loved.

Host Club - YouTube

Part of how they make money is by encouraging their patrons to buy drinks, the more expensive the better. There’s a bit of a joke about the most successful hosts and hostesses selling gallons of Dom Pérignon.

2. Japanese Buddhism is strongly influenced by Mahayana branches of Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism is one of two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being the older Theravada), known for the belief in staying in the cycle of reincarnation to save all sentient beings.

3. In Pure Land Buddhism, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, they practice chanting Namo’mitābhāya Buddhaya, or Namu Amida Butsu in Japanese. The first word, Namu, is commonly used the way Amen might be.

4. A mountain-dwelling version of Buddhism called Shugendou emerged in Japan as a syncretism between Vajrayana, Shinto and Taoism in the 7th century, which stressed ascetic practices. One of its ascetic practice was Sokushinbutsu, the practice of Buddhist monks observing asceticism to the point of death and entering mummification while alive. This practice was perfected over a period of time, particularly in the Three Mountains of Dewa region of Japan, that is the Haguro, Gassan and Yudono mountains.

5. The legend of the “Straw Millionaire” (わらしべ長者, Warashibe Chōja), also known as “Daietsu” or the “Daikokumai”, is a Japanese Buddhist folk tale about a poor man who becomes wealthy through a series of successive trades, starting with a single piece of straw.


I received a message from Oniisama while I was on the way back from Wakaba-chan’s. Apparently Imari-sama would be coming over.

This was my chance to give him his souvenir!

I was in my room choosing what to give him when I received news of their arrival, so I quickly left to greet them.

In the spotlight of the entrance area, Imari-sama was resplendent, like the newly arrived protagonist of a stage play. He was actually so dazzling that I almost shielded my eyes for a moment.

“Good evening, Reika-chan.”

“Gokigen’yoh, Imari-sama!”

Since the star of the show had waved his hand at the audience, it was my responsibility to give respond with a bright smile.

“And Oniisama, welcome home.”

“Thanks, Reika.”

Having greeted them, I moved onto the topic of the souvenirs.

“Mmn, I heard from Takateru. He actually said that he’d bring me them, but how could I not receive them in person when you put in the effort to choose them for me?” He narrowed his eyes a little cheekily and said, “And so here I am, see?”

To the side, Oniisama grumbled. “Seeing a grown man acting cute is sickening.”

“But could it be that you went out of your way just for this?” I asked.

“What do you mean ‘out of my way’? I wanted to see you too, Reika-chan.”

“Oh my!”

The Chief of the Casanova Village was in top form tonight.

Even though I knew it was just Imari-sama being Imari-sama, my heart couldn’t help but skip a beat.

“Well thank you. Let me bring them here now!”

“There’s no need to rush. I’ll just wait in Takateru’s room.”

“Okay!”

On the way out I swear I heard Imari-sama say “That hurts!”.

*

*

I noticed the wine bottle and plate of cheese on the table as I arrived at Oniisama’s room with the souvenir.

“I hear this cheese is another one of your souvenirs, Reika-chan,” said Imari-sama. “Takateru brought some out first. Was that okay?”

“Of course. I cannot guarantee that you will like it, but please do help yourself,” I replied.

Wine glass in hand and sprawled back against the sofa, Imari-sama beckoned for me to sit by his side. No sooner had I done so did a bottle cork come flying at him.

“Mmmn, this is good stuff,” he praised.

That was the Chief of Casanova Village, for you; all wine and cheese.

The namesake himself was known for Roquefort cheese and Chambertin wine, after all. Apparently he boasted that they were ‘an excellent thing to restore an old love, and to ripen a young one,’ but unfortunately the cheese we were eating was not Roquefort.

I mean, blue cheese stinks, right? What if by some chance the packaging broke inside my suitcase?

That’s why I made the choice not to buy any in the end. I like cheese, but I’ll pass on the smell of blue cheese, thanks.

And sure, I can understand the wine, but you’re telling me that after eating something as aggressively smelly as that cheese you’re going to romance it up? I don’t see it at all.

Which brings me to another mystery, which is that at some point in time one pioneering Frenchman had to have seen blue mould on cheese, and become the first to try eating it.

Literally, some person out there came across an intensely smelly piece of mouldy cheese, and then took it as a challenge.

I guess being a gourmet means sometimes putting your life on the line, huh?

While continuing to ponder the human condition I handed Imari-sama his souvenirs.

“It is but a trifling thing, but if it pleases you…”

“I wonder what it is. Ah, a golf marker? And not a bad design, either!” he praised. “And look at this one. Thanks, Reika-chan. I’ll definitely use them the next time I play.”

Thank goodness. It looked like he was happy with them.

I had actually gotten caught up in the mood and bought markers decorated with Trevi Fountains and Colosseums. When I got back to Japan though, I figured that someone with taste as good as Imari-sama wouldn’t want something so tacky. Looks like it was the right choice.

It was a waste to just throw them out though, so a while back I gave them to Otousama. He was so happy that he gave me more money for my allowance.

I’m Straw Millionaire Reika.

“Hey Takateru, since we may as well, how about coming out for a round of golf with me next time we’re free?”

“I’m busy. Go on your own.”

“Wow, what a cold guy. But yeah, I love these. You’ve got great taste, Reika-chan.”

“Oh no…”

I laughed a bit to pretend I was flattered, but the truth was that I was the type of person to buy Colosseum golf markers.

The ones Imari-sama received weren’t picked out by me at all.

What happened was that while I was agonising over what to pick for him, Enjou came over and said, “What about these ones?”

Apparently Enjou’s got great taste.

When I handed over the other souvenirs, Imari-sama made a fuss and exaggeratedly praised each and every one. Since he asked about my trip though, we ended up in a normal conversation, gesturing back and forth, and the happier I got as I recounted the trip, the more fun he seemed to have as well.

Oniisama looked disgusted. “Go home already.”

Imari-sama didn’t seem the least bit discouraged though.

“Say, back when you two were my age, your class trip was to the same places as mine, no? Which places stood out to you?”

“Which places?”

Imari-sama hummed in thought. “I don’t think the places made as much of an impact as how we spent our time there.”

“Really?”

“I think what matters the most on a trip are the connections you make,” he said with a smile.

In contrast, Oniisama’s expression looked a little stormy.

“Oh, I know,” continued Imari-sama. “So I was in Takateru’s room for the whole trip, see? One night I just sneaked out a bit, but when I sneaked back in the morning I found him already awake and giving me the coldest stare.”

“Back in the morning…? Where on earth did you go?”

“Ah-, you wanna hear it?”

“Don’t listen, Reika. Your ears will rot.”

Imari-sama, what kind of unhealthy things have you been engaging in…?

“That reminds me, one time Takateru kicked me out of the room with nothing but the clothes on my back in the middle of the night~”

“That’s because you kept whispering ‘je t’aime’ and ‘mon amour’ into your phone in the middle of the night.”

Imari-sama, you were getting involved with the local women…?

“On the last night of the trip, Takateru strangled me and said ‘I’ll seriously kill you’. The look in his eyes that time was completely serious~”

“…Just how much of your crap do you think I’d cleaned up by that point? I don’t even want to remember it.”

From the way he spat the words, you could really see how much Oniisama had gone through…

“But hey, class trips are all about spreading your wings a little, right?” Imari-sama turned to me. “Reika-chan, lots of your classmates did the same thing, right?”

“I cannot say. At the very least there was nobody like that in my class. Everyone observed curfew.”

“Eh? Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“Everybody?”

“Why of course,” I confirmed. “Everyone was accounted for, five minutes before the curfew.”

“That’s something else.”

That’s normal.

The class rep of Imari-sama’s day must have had it rough.

Wait, hang on.

Don’t tell me that the class rep back in the day was Oniisama…?

Uwahh…

“Come on, don’t be so mad, Takateru,” cajoled Imari-sama. “To begin with it’s not like you practice everything you preach either.”

“Eh-, is that so, Oniisama!?”

“Go home.”

Gosh, Oniisama, what did he mean?

I have to ask Oniisama later.

Snapping out of it, I just realised that Imari-sama had one arm around me like it was the most natural thing in the world.

The way he unconsciously did that is as good a sign as any into the sort of life he’s been living, isn’t it? But still, now that I’d noticed the arm――even though he himself didn’t mean anything by it――I couldn’t help but be too conscious to relax into the couch anymore.

Oh, and now my heart was thumping.

Oblivious to my situation, Imari-sama gracefully sipped from his wine glass and visibly savoured the taste. As I glanced from the side, I couldn’t help but sigh in appreciation at the sight.

Imari-sama was really so cool. This was the charm of an adult~

Noticing my enchanted gaze, Imari-sama gave me an alluring smile, and because I was too young for wine, Oniisama poured me some herb tea.

Eh? What was this, some host club? Club Kisshouin!?

“Oh? Reika-chan, that’s a cute pinky ring you have.”

As expected of Imari-sama. Never missing the details of the accessories a girl had on.

“Ah, this ring? It’s part of a matching set that I bought with some friends in Paris.”

It was proof of our friendship, so I’d been wearing it all this time.

What use were boys? I had girls with whom I had formed strong bonds of friendship!

“Oh? Let’s have a look.”

Imari-sama deftly took my hand and brought it close to his face. For whatever reason, Oniisama’s room was a little dim and atmospheric today, so Imari-sama wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise.

“This room is a little dark. Shall I turn on some lights?” I offered. “Why are only the shaded lights on?”

“Hm? Isn’t it fine? In soft lighting a woman’s beauty stands out more, don’t you know?

“Ehh!?”

Squeee! Bring me the most expensive wine in this club!

“Oi, stop getting handsy with other people’s sisters! Come over here, Reika.”

This time it was a metal toothpick for the cheese that came flying at Imari-sama. Oniisama, you were definitely aiming for his eye just now, weren’t you?

Imari-sama kept his eyes on my hand, once again unfazed.

“Well, well. A lovely ring worn by a lovely flower, Reika-chan. It’s perfect on you. Very cute.”

Uhhyooh!

Imari-sama’s mature charm was too much. My heart wouldn’t stop thumping. Bring me all the wine in this club!

“T-Thank you very much,” I stammered.

“Actually this is perfect. Here, for you.” Imari-sama placed a small ribbon-wrapped box onto my hand.

I opened it to find a cute, angelic bottle of nail oil.

“It just suited you so well that I accidentally bought it. May I? I’ll put some on for you.”

He took my hand and hummed to himself as he carefully coated each one of my nails with the rose-scented oil. My heartthrob meter was about to explode.

The Chief of the Forever Alone village, outrageously being treated like a princess by the opposite sex. It was so much more than I could handle that it felt like my ectoplasm was going to float out of my mouth…

“Hey Reika-chan, did you know? There’s a little charm, you see. If a man gives a woman a silver ring on her nineteenth birthday, her happiness is guaranteed. When it’s your turn, I’ll give you a wonderful ring like none other.”

“Oh goodness…!”

Nuuoooohhhh! It happened! My heartthrob meter was broken! My bankbook, my signature, I’ll give you whatever you want! All of the money I was given by the tanuki belongs to you!

At this rate, was all the money I saved since I was a child going to be taken away by this #1 Host!?

Don’t tell me that Imari-sama would be responsible for my downfall!?

That was when the #2 host languidly left his seat, came to stand behind the sofa Imari-sama and I were seated on, and then tore our hands apart.

“Reika, turn on all the lights and move to that couch instead.”

Gasp!

Oniisama’s frosty voice lifted the spell cast on his little sister.

After turning on every light I could find I sat back on the sofa Oniisama had been using.

“Hey, Imari. How about we visit Mt. Yudono next weekend? I’ll give you a ring as a parting gift.”

“Eh-, are you going to force me to mummify!?”

“Here’s your last drink. Enjoy it.”

I watched as Oniisama gripped Imari-sama by the head and forced him to drink from the bottle. It looked like Imari-sama would be reaching enlightenment this weekend──

You must save all sentient beings, Imari-sama. Namu~

*

*

When I returned to my room I tried for some last-minute cramming.

After the class trip quite a few couples moved to the Fulfilling Romance Village. But while they were getting their heads filled with romance or whatever, I was going to reach 10th place!

First was reviewing my weak point, maths.

After solving a few questions though, I got stuck. Ummmmm~ How did you do this one again?

I opened up my textbook with one hand, only to notice the rose scent from earlier.

Come to think of it, I had to water the anti-pigeon roses I planted on my balcony.

Spray, spray.

It’d be nice to grow some other plants too.

Wakaba-chan’s house had a herb garden, didn’t it? Maybe I could try growing some and making some home-made herb tea~

I wondered what herbs would grow next season, so I went and researched it before bed.


“My bankbook, my signature, I’ll give you whatever you want! All of the money I was given by the tanuki belongs to you!”

She was actually offering her bankbook and her jitsuin.

実印とは?】実印を作成するときに押さえるべき3つのポイント

“In Japan, a personal seal (inkan/hanko) is often used instead of a signature as official verification in certain situations. Especially for important documents, many people use an officially registered seal called a “jitsuin.” You may register your personal seal at the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside.”


Lulu is cute.


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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 236 – Interlude

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Interlude: Timeskip

The ringing bell signalled the lunch break, and with that, the training drill was put on hold.

Wakaba spoke to Arima, saying that she wanted to talk to him before lunch. The two of them headed to the Senior Commissioner’s office.

“So, what did you want to tell me?”

“What I wanted to tell you was…”

From her bag, Wakaba produced the documents she received from Haru, as well as the leather briefcase of notes.

“What’s this?”

“A request from Haru Katsuragi, one of the Enjou Group’s lackeys.”

Arima received it with a suspicious look. His brows furrowed as he started reading the contents of the paper.

“What in the world is this guy trying to pull?

“Dunno.”

This was the first time Wakaba had seen the ever-calm Arima be irritated. That said, she wasn’t really surprised by the reaction.

“I can’t believe he’d try to take in the daughter of the Kisshouin family as a mistress. Does he not have the chivalry to take her in as his wife?”

“Yep, it’s unbelievable.”

It wasn’t that the taking in of mistresses by nobles was unheard of. However, in the view of Arima, who was brought up in an austere household, it was an act deserving of the highest scorn. Of course, Wakaba thought much the same.

“If I knew it was going to come to this, I should’ve given her my support earlier.”

“There’s not much we can do at this point.”

Reika’s father had incurred the wrath of the “Business Emperor”. If one were to rescue his daughter, their standing in high society would plummet.

“So, what should we do?”

“I’m going to go hear what this Katsuragi guy has to say myself. Takamichi, are you going to come with me?”

“No sir, I’ll pass.”

She didn’t state that her reason for not going was because, whenever she heard Katsuragi talk, she wanted to punch him mid-sentence.

“Then, I’ll be heading out.”

“Senior Commissioner.”

“What is it?”

“Why don’t you head out after lunch?”

“No, I’m heading there now. …I’m not a very patient man.”

“That’s true.”

Not trying to hold him back any longer, Wakaba watched as Arima left. All she could do now was pray that things wouldn’t go further south.

Wrapping up her day after finishing her afternoon exercises, Wakaba headed to the office.

On top of the desk was a memo from Arima, saying he left early. While thinking that this was an unusual occurrence, Wakaba put the memo in the box of unimportant matters.

Since all of the office work had been taken care already, Wakaba decided to go home herself.

Repair work on the bakery had started, and materials were brought in through the front garden. As work had ended for the day, a cloth was covering the materials.

When she entered the house section behind their storefront, Nacchan greeted her.

“Welcome back, Oneechan.”

“Yeah.”

“Long day today?”

“I guess.”

After asking her to prepare the bath and taking off her jacket before throwing it over the couch, Wakaba headed to her room.

“Oh, yeah, Oneechan.”

“What is it?”

“Miss Reika said she wanted to speak with you.”

“Has she gotten over her cold?”

“Yes.”

That being the case, Wakaba asked Nacchan to send Reika over to her.

Sitting down on her bed, she let out a loud sigh. She was relieved that she was finally in a situation where she could listen to Reika’s side of the story.

A few minutes later, Reika arrived. Hearing her light taps on the door, she invited her to come in.

Reika was wearing a one-piece dress that appeared to have been brought with her from her house.

After being offered a chair, Reika bowed her head deeply before picking a seat opposite Wakaba, this time around.

“I am very thankful that you took time out of your busy day to-“

“There’s no need for formalities. So, what did you want to talk about?”

“Ah, right. I wished… you… thanks.”

Right after she started to talk, a banging noise came from the door. Nacchan arrived with some tea.

“Ms.  Natsuki, I’ll take care of the tea.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. Please leave it to me.”

Reika received the silver tray.

Shocked by Reika’s swaying upon receiving the tray, Nacchan immediately propped up the bottom of the tray.

“Hey, are you okay?!”

“Yes, I’m… fine.”

On top of the silver tray were a pot full of black tea, cups, saucers, little jars of sugar and milk, and a plate of cookies, nothing more. She was swaying from holding merely that.

Wakaba watched in amazement as she thought about how weak of a woman she was.

“Miss Reika, Wakaba-neechan drinks her tea with one cup of milk and three cubes of sugar.”

“Understood.”

Having the fact that she had a sweet tooth be revealed, Wakaba became embarrassed. As the daughter of a bakery, she was supposed to be the master of sweets, not the other way around.

While she turned her face away in embarrassment, her desk was completely set.

Reika poured tea into the cup with a very serious expression.

After that, she put in the milk and sugar. All the while, she squinted her eyes while looking at the small jars.

Basically, gyuuhi are a type of traditional Japanese sweet, like a really soft mochi, made of glutinous rice dough mixed with something sweet like syrup or sugar. (Gyuuhi also refers to the squishy and delicate glutinous rice dough ingredient used in these types of mochi, but that’s neither here nor there.)

That expression was exactly the same as the one Wakaba had seen in high school, five years ago.

“Y-You!!”

“Eh?!”

Banging her hand on his desk, Wakaba stood straight up.

Surprised, Reika dropped the jar she was holding in her hand.

Fortunately, it was the jar of sugar, and the contents just spilled out onto the plate of cookies.

As for the situation at hand, Reika narrowed her eyes and looked down. It was a harsh expression, similar to that of scorn.

The target of the expression was not Wakaba, but that of the sugar scattered about the desk.

After confirming that all of the sugar had spilled out, she lowered her brows and looked up at Wakaba with an apologetic look.

“I-I’m sorry.”

“…That’s nothing to worry about. Answer my question.”

“E-Eh?”

There was only one reason she would squint while holding items up to her eyes.

Wakaba asked her nervously.

“Does your eyesight… happen to be bad?”

Reika opened her eyes wide. Lowering her head slowly, she nodded.

With a thump, Wakaba leaned back onto her bed. That was the moment that speech, her actions, and her conduct all made sense.

Reika had not looked down upon Wakaba with contempt.

Wakaba realised that she was just trying to look at the face of someone far away.

The misunderstanding of many years was finally resolved.

“I am really sorry. I had intended to speak about it at some point but…”

“No, it’s fine.”

The reason had come to light, but her brain had yet to comprehend the situation.

Because of her own misunderstanding, she had employed Reika as a servant and had gone and done something outrageous. She became deeply troubled.

Regret washed over her as she thought more and more that she really should have just handed her over to Arima.

Seeing Wakaba’s face contorted in distress, Reika did the unthinkable.

Getting up all of a sudden from her seat opposite Wakaba, she came around in front of Wakaba, and knelt in front of her.

“Ms. Takamichi.”

Putting both of her hands on her chest, she entreatingly appealed to Wakaba.

“I beg you. Please let me remain here.”

“Huh?!”

“I do admit that my eyesight is not very good, and I am not accustomed to a servant’s duties at all. However, I will do my best!”

“No, even if you say that…”

“I wish to repay the favour that you extended to me, Ms. Takamichi. O-On top of that, I have nowhere else to go…”

Asserting this in a quivering voice, tears started flowing down Reika’s face. Wakaba thought that she was the villain now.

Though she wondered what she should do, the answer stayed out of her reach.

“…Let me think about it for the time being.”

“Yes. I apologise for stating my selfish desires.”

Thinking there was no need to give a quick response, she deferred her response by an hour.

Carrying the tray, Reika gave one bow before leaving the room.

Annin tofu (杏仁豆腐) or almond tofu is a soft, jellied dessert made of almond milk, agar, and sugar, allegedly eaten in China as far back as 2000 years ago.

Wakaba simply continued to stare at the closed door.

Without having come up with an answer, it was already a new day.

As usual, she got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed to work.

The first matter she attended to was having a talk with Arima.

When she opened the door to his office in the Police Headquarters, she spotted Arima, elbows on desk, his hands supporting his jaw, grim expression on his face.

The atmosphere wasn’t one where she felt comfortable asking what happened the previous day. But, after confirming it was Wakaba who had entered the office, Arima started talking on his own.

“Morning.”

“Good morning.”

“It was a bit soon, but I went and listened to Haru Katsuragi’s story yesterday.”

“Yes sir.”

“I had to accept his request to search for Reika Kisshouin.”

“Eh?!”

Because she had expected Arima to reject the request, Wakaba was shocked.

Wondering what could have happened, she waited for Arima to continue his story.

“If I had to describe Katsuragi in one phrase, I’d say he’s a low-life bastard.”

“I… agree completely.”

Arima had understood everything about the person, Haru. But then, why did he take the request? The mystery intensified.

First of all, Arima had wanted to know why the request had been made to the “National Public Safety Commission” that he led. The response was quite shocking.

“That bastard called our National Police Agency a group that wastes time doing training drills.”

“…That’s awful.”

He had said that he had taken it upon himself to pick Arima’s small group out of the assortment of bigger Special Judicial Police branches.

“He said that, in a way, it’s because he’s afraid of being found out by the Emperor.”

“Seems like it.”

“It seems that he hasn’t made a request to any group other than ours yet. Obviously, it’s forbidden to use one’s money to use knights for one’s motives. But, if we rejected his request, Katsuragi would obviously go to another battalion.”

“Did you take this request for the purpose of not searching for Reika Kisshouin?”

“That’s right.”

The aim was to pretend to take the request, while not actually searching for her and ultimately ignoring the request.

She was relieved that Arima hadn’t been swayed by money and the chance for prestige, but she quickly realised another problem.

“What if this request is discovered by the higher-ups?”

“At best, I’ll get demoted. At worst, I’d lose the right to be a policeman. If that happens, the passcode to the next chapter is ‘harvestdawn’.”

“What?!”

“You can find the link at the very bottom.”

Wakaba pointed out to him that if Arima reported the money and paper to the higher-ups, it’d be over for Haru Katsuragi.

“You’re right. The rotten policeman would be gone, and peace would return to the bodyguards. But what would happen to Reika Kisshouin’s honour?”

“That’s…”

If the heir to the Katsuragi Group were to be put on special trial, it’d be a matter of time until the reason was divulged.

If that happened, Reika would be greeted as a mistress, and the rumour that she was to be locked in a basement would be spread in a moment. That is what Arima predicted.

“I cannot save her. That’s why, I at least want to defend her honour…”

Incredulous, Wakaba listened to Arima’s speech, and put into words her biggest question.

“Sir, why would you go that far for an old enemy?”

“That’s we should do as officers of the law, isn’t it?”

“!”

――Save the weak, hold honour in high esteem, and vanquish evil.

The image of a police officer weighed heavily upon her mind.

Violently striking her chest, Wakaba suppressed her pounding heart. oniichanyamete.moe/2020/04/01/kenkyo-kenjitsu-the-reika-sama-chronicles-236/


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