Reika-sama – 208

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If it’s not on there, please feel free and ask. I only get annoyed at questions when the same one has been asked 10+ times, and by then I’ll have updated the FAQ. Thank you for your consideration, guys!


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T-T-The Tashinami chapters are coming. Honest!


An obi is the belt sash on traditional Japanese clothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obi_(sash)


Bringing your lover along to view the sakura, huh?

Tch, what an eyesore.

To begin with, they remembered to hold this happy flower viewing event, but not the Festival of Appeasing the Flowers?

From ancient times, the end of March, when the sakura bloomed, necessitated a purification ritual to appease the evil gods of pestilence.

That’s right.

This was spring. A most terrifying season, when the gods of pestilence most exercised their power.

Making out? Flirting with your lover at a time like this…?

Those louts were just asking for divine retribution! Kiii!

Out of sight of the two, my cowardice had transformed into hatred.

What the hell was that attitude?

Acting as though I was some kind of third wheel…!

As if that wasn’t enough, my anger had now made me hungry.

You think I would let the tightness of my obi stop me!?

I grabbed some food and sat myself down in the closest chair.

As I sat there, people came to chat with me from time to time.

Some of them  were my parents’ acquaintances.

Others, I knew because of the circles I moved in as a Pivoine.

More importantly, for some reason they really believed in the rumour that I was a fathercon, and made comments to that effect.

Sometimes older men even asked me for help, like,

“My teenage daughter is really cold to me these days. What should I do…?”

In the end I just gave them some vague advice.

Don’t make lame dad jokes.

Pay attention to your appearance.

Don’t go on and on about stories from when you were young, especially if you’re lecturing them.

Don’t leer at young women.

Praise her, but don’t try to flatter her too much.

Basically stuff like that, and all of it with Kaburagi’s stylish gentleman of a dad in mind.

Any girl would be proud to have a dad like that…

Gasp!

Bad Reika!

You need to accept reality! The tubby tanuki over there is your father!

After facing reality, I went back to eating when two beautiful women came my way.

“Reika-chan, it’s been a while!”

“Aira-sama! Yurie-sama!”

Uwahh!

It really had been a while.

Although we still messaged each other on occasion, Aira-sama had gotten even busier since her 3rd year in university started.

But wow, the two of them were as gorgeous as ever.

I was really happy to see them!

“Have the two of you been well? You must be positively swamped.”

“Yeah. You really need to commit to a path when you’re our age, so everyone has their own stuff to do,” said Aira-sama.

“Have you two already decided on what you want to do in the future?”

The two of them shared a glance and broke into hopeless smiles.

“I mean, I’ve got something that I want to do, you know? But my parents are adamant about me joining the family company, or the company of one of their goods friends,” said Aira-sama.

“My parents don’t agree with what I want, so I’m having a lot of trouble as well,” said Yurie-sama.

They let out a huge sigh.

Finding a job was hard stuff, wasn’t it.

And when it came to the parents of rich women, they probably didn’t think of this as much more than decoration for one’s marriage profile.

Of the girls from Suiran that actually joined the workforce, most just landed a job through connections, and plenty just treated it as something to do until they could get married.

That made Aira-sama and Yurie-sama all the more admirable for trying to strike it out on their own.

I didn’t want to join my family’s company either.

I’d just be nothing more than the chairman’s daughter.

I’d be given a wonderful position, but they’d tread on eggshells around me, and I’d basically be isolated.

And the political marriage that lay at the end of that road?

Ueghhh~

I didn’t want my family to crumble, but I wasn’t fond of that option either.

I was going to marry for love!

“Yurie, if it comes down to it, wanna run off overseas with me?” asked Aira-sama.

“What the heck are you saying?” Yurie-sama laughed.

The two of them really had it rough.

“Hey, hey, more importantly. Reika-chan, I hear that something interesting’s been going on with Masaya.”

The two of them sat down on either side of me and leaned in, eyes gleaming for gossip.

They seemed to be enjoying this quite a bit.

“Interesting, you say?” I asked.

“He’s found a girl that he likes,” said Aira-chan.

“Do you know who it is, Reika-san?” Yurie-sama followed up.

“Eh!?”

How did they know!?

Did Kaburagi tell them!?

“Going by your expression, it seems that you do, huh?”

“Did you hear this from Kaburagi-sama?” I asked.

“Tell her, Yurie.”

“He was all nervous at Christmas, so I suspected. I asked him, ‘Have you found a girl you like?’ and he actually said ‘I did…’! Geez, when he came to my house he even suddenly started looking through my women’s fashion magazines, and around Valentine’s he got all down. Such an open book~”

The two of them guffawed together.

“I mean, when he gave up on Yurie I’d already suspected it was because he’d found someone else.”

“It was pretty suspicious, come to think of it,” mused Yurie-sama.

“Do you know who it is?” I asked.

“An External girl, right? Do you know what kind of girl she is, Reika-chan?” asked Aira-sama.

“Well, yes…” I said evasively.

Since I didn’t know what Wakaba-chan wanted, it wouldn’t do to say anything careless.

Diseases come in through the mouth, but disasters come out of it.

After chatting for a while longer, the two of them left after some other senpai from the Pivoine went calling for them.

Since that was the case, I decided to move a little to help with the digestion.

I wandered the area for a while when I happened to make eye contact with Kaburagi, who was surrounded by girls.

Oh.

“Kisshouin.”

He immediately excused himself and headed my way.

“Gokigen’yoh, Kaburagi-sama. Thank you very much for extending your invitation to me this evening.”

“Yeah, thanks for coming.”

Kaburagi led me near the wall, where even the sakura couldn’t be seen anymore.

Nobody was nearby here, so the chances of being overheard were slim.

As expected of the host’s son. He knew the location quite well.

“Well, sit down.”

“Then excuse me… Well then, what did you want to discuss?”

“Well that was blunt. Basically… I want to talk about her.”

“I understand.”

What else, right?

“Starting at the beginning, the two of us were involved in a little accident during the summer.”

Kaburagi began telling me about how the two of them became closer, and that sometimes he went to her house to buy cakes.

Mhm. I knew it all, already.

“But things haven’t progressed since then.”

“Haah.”

“What do you think I should do?”

Eh!? That’s where he was going to start!?

“Why not just confess?” I suggested.

“Wha-, you-!” he spluttered.

You were about to call me an idiot, weren’t you?

“Not yet! That’s still way off!”

“I see.”

Kaburagi was so flustered that his eyes were swimming.

Wow, as a man, this guy was even more useless than I thought.

“Well then how about inviting her to a date to deepen your bonds?”

“I thought about that too. But I just can’t find the right timing to. She’s pretty busy in her own right. And besides, I have a lot of things on my schedule too. Like just the other day I’d finally found some time, but she already had a friend over so I couldn’t invite her out.”

Ah, that was me…

“Why did you not contact her beforehand?”

“Uh, I wanted to surprise her…”

You’re bothering people by doing that!

People like me! I was so surprised that my stomach hurt, okay!

“I think that showing up unannounced and uninvited can only cause trouble for the other party.”

“Really…?”

“Most certainly! From now on, please do not forget to schedule an appointment with her first!”

Mn. Because if I bumped into you while I was at Wakaba-chan’s, it would really cause me problems.

Actually I would prefer that he never came at all, but that was just me being selfish.

If I had to compromise though, then I wanted some forewarning at least.

Seriously.

“But I haven’t actually been coming there to meet her. I’ve been going there to buy cakes,” he said.

“As an excuse to meet her.”

“Well… yeah,” he admitted.

“In that case, why not tell her that you were planning to come down someday to buy some cakes again, and casually ask her when she might be there?”

“Got it. I’ll take measures,” he nodded obediently.

What is that even supposed to mean…?

“Anyway, going back to that friend who was over when I came…”

My heart stopped.

Don’t tell me he noticed!?

“…Yes?”

“Apparently their name is Coro-chan.”

“…I see.”

“What’s Coro-chan?”

“Hah?”

What do you mean ‘What’s Coro-chan’?

“Coroyama? Coroda…? Coroko, Coromi, Coroe… None of them sound like real names. What’s ‘Coro-chan’ supposed to be?”

“Haah…”

The correct answer is ‘cornet’.

“Then, I realised it. I had actually just misheard… the boy’s name ‘Gorou’!”

“…”

To think that he concluded that it was actually ‘Gorou-chan’…

I was suddenly exhausted.

“So what do you think of my theory?”

“Who knows…”

“Come on, give me a proper answer, Advisor.”

Apparently I had become his advisor.

“If you are truly bothered about it, then why not just ask her? ‘So who was your friend Gorou-chan from last time?’ If she corrects you and tells you it’s ‘Coro-chan’ then it might be a girl, and if she does not, then it means that they are a boy.”

“Hmmmm…” he hummed indecisively.

It’s me.

I’m a girl!

“Well then, shall we discuss inviting her to a date first?”

“Right! Where would be good?”

His expression had turned bright.

“Hmmm, a place that would constitute a casual invitation… Ah, I know. How about inviting her to study at the library together?”

“Library!? How the hell is that a date!?”

Don’t look down on my fantasy library date, damnit!

I began explaining to him that because we were all 3rd year students it was low risk with a high chance of success.

I honestly thought it was the best place for him to start.

Fellow Stalking Horse has already cleared the library date event, you know!

Anyway, as the son of the host he couldn’t be hiding in a corner forever, so right after that Kaburagi had to head back.

Oniisama would be taking me back, so we went and had one final look at the sakura together.

Chatting with sensuous beauties in front of the sakura was Imari-sama.

Since he hadn’t seemed to notice us, we headed around to avoid disturbing him when we suddenly heard him passionately quote the Kokinshuu anthology.

“A mountain cherry. Through the drifting mists, faintly seen thus there is a lady I long for all the more…”

In the face of the natural talent displayed by the Casanova Village Chief, Oniisama simply clicked his tongue, while I could not help but prostrate myself in awe.


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Reika-sama – 207

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Due to how quickly the flowers stop blooming, as well as various legends and myths (and classic literature) regarding them, sakura are connected to the concept of death in Japanese folklore.


There lie cadavers buried under the cherry blossoms!

This is a truth that you must accept. For how else could the flowers of the cherry tree be so magnificent in their bloom? I spent the past several days feeling terribly ill at ease, as I was unable to accept such a beauty. But now, at last, the truth has finally sunk in. There lie cadavers buried under the cherry blossoms. You must accept this.

My house is one that contains a multitude of tools and implements⎯-so why then, from among such trinkets and baubles, did the blade of a safety razor come to me like a vision to a clairvoyant every night on my way home? You say you know not why, whereas I myself cannot comprehend it⎯-the two of which verily amount to the same thing.

A flowering tree, on the other hand, gives forth its essence when it reaches that stage known as full bloom, and in doing so, it emanates a mysterious aura comparable to the state of perfect stillness approached by a fast-spinning top, or perhaps the fleeting sensory impressions roused by a spectacular musical performance, or something like the afterglow that follows the burning act of consummation. It is this beauty, wondrous and vivacious, that never ceases to captivate the human spirit.

Nonetheless, yesterday and the day before, it was the selfsame thing that caused my heart to fall under an intense spell of gloom. I was unable to accept such a beauty. On the contrary, I became anxious and fell into a state of melancholy, and a feeling of emptiness overtook me. But now, at long last, I understand.

You see, beneath the splendor of those cherry trees blooming in profusion, cadavers had been buried one by one, if you can imagine for a moment. Then, soon enough, you’ll understand just what sort of anxiety I’d been feeling.

The cadavers of horses, the cadavers of dogs and cats, and it seems, the cadavers of human beings too. Rotting cadavers, crawling with maggots, reeking of a most intolerable stench, all the while seeping a liquid so pure and clear. The cherry tree, as if it were the rapacious octopus, extends its roots outward to grasp. Like the feeding tentacles of the sea anemone, its roots enfold to partake of that liquid.

What could form such a petal? What was behind the creation of such a stamen? I had envisioned it in dreamlike detail: The roots had gathered silently, matter-of-factly, to siphon that pure, clear liquid into its vascular system.

How you must be grimacing at the very thought! Not a very pretty way of looking at things, is it? Finally, I had come to see the cherry blossoms for what they were, and it freed me from what had been an unsettling mystery yesterday and the day before.

A few days earlier, I had descended into a nearby ravine, scrambling down the rocks. There in the splashing water, hither and thither, doodlebugs were coming into being in the manner of the birth of Venus herself. I watched them soar into the hollow where, as you may know, they perform their beautiful mating ritual. After walking a little further, I came across something horrifying. On the banks of the river, where the shallows ought to have been, there was no such water to be seen. A brilliant shimmer resembling an oil slick drifted across the entire surface. You must be wondering what it was. There, the countless thousands of cadavers of doodlebugs perforated the water’s surface. They lay piled in mounds, their wings curling in the sunlight, glistening like spilled oil. There, after they had finished spawning, became their grave.

At the sight alone, I felt as if I had suffered a blow to the chest. In bearing witness to the gradual process of decay that appeared to be taking place in that grave of doodlebugs, I had tasted a cruel delight.

There was not a single joyous thing to be found in this ravine. The warbler and the tit, the pale sunlight, and saplings too, were but a distant notion. That tragic fate, it seemed to me, was unavoidable. It was then that the picture became clear in my mind for the first time: It was a counterbalance. My heart had been pining for melancholy as if I were an evil spirit. That state of melancholy had been brought to an end, and now my mind was at peace once more.

By now, your armpits must be damp with sweat, just as mine are. Nothing to be ashamed of. After all, they are certainly no stickier than semen. And on that note, let us conclude our melancholy.

Alas, there lie cadavers buried under the cherry blossoms!

As for what on earth brought about such a wild flight of fancy involving cadavers, it appears to be anyone’s guess. That it may be part and parcel of the cherry blossoms is a notion I cannot seem to shake out of my head, no matter how I try.

I believe I have hereby earned the right, like the many locals flocking to the festivities taking place under those flowering trees, to drink merrily in celebration of the cherry blossom viewing season!

– translated by Bonnie Huie from Kajii Motojirou’s ‘Under the Cherry Blossoms’


My parents thought that since I went last year, I was obviously going to the flower viewing party again.

Ask me first! Say something at least!

I bet they kept it on the down-low on purpose!

I didn’t wanna go.

But neither did I have the courage to try getting food poisoning again.

Never again, Reika.

I seriously thought I would die.

I swear I saw a bright light at the end of a tunnel…

Okaasama was determined to pair me up this year so she enthusiastically dressed me in a furisode.

A style of kimono distinguishable by its long sleeves. Furisode are the most formal style of kimono worn by young unmarried women in Japan.

Cherry blossoms at night, and a furisode.

Scary…

Please, no.

Maybe if it rained then all the sakura would be washed away, along with the party.

*

*

*

The skies were clear.

Oniisama was busy with work, so he’d be arriving later.

He was busy quite a lot, recently.

He still hadn’t taken me out to eat like he promised for White Day either.

“My! Reika-san! Thank you so much for coming!” greeted Mrs. Kaburagi, with literally open arms.

As usual, she was eye-catching and beautiful.

And Chairman Kaburagi still had that mature adult charm!

His legs were so much longer than Otousama’s!

And he wasn’t overweight, either!

Haah, so cool…

Anyway, after Madam Kaburagi gave me some truly ridiculous praise for my furisode, the topic changed to her son.

“I hear that that boy actually became the President of the Pivoine. Will that surly kid really be able to manage?”

“Masaya-sama is very popular, so I do not believe there is anything to worry about.”

“You think? He isn’t causing you any problems, Reika-san?”

“Heavens, no. Masaya-sama is competent and always has it together. And his grades are always at the top, and…”

Since we weren’t all that close I was struggling to find things to praise him for.

Hmmm…

Good points, good points… What are his good points…?

Too bad. Nothing comes to mind.

“Don’t hesitate to let me know if that stupid boy of mine causes you any trouble. I’ll really let him have it.”

“My… Ohohoho…”

He was causing me trouble right now, actually.

“Anyway, please look after Masaya, okay?”

“I am in his care…”

I really didn’t want to look after him though.

Uu, even my smile had gone stiff.

The Kaburagi pair gave me brilliant smiles before leaving to greet other guests.

After that, Otousama brought me around the venue to greet people.

It was exhausting keeping this act up…

After we were done greeting my parents’ closer acquaintances, I was finally given my freedom.

Recently a lot of people had been recommending their sons to me, so I was having a rough time dodging all the bullets.

Thanks to that I had no appetite, despite the feast before me.

I picked up some sakura jelly and helped myself to a few bites while I took a breather.

Oh. This was pretty good.

“Good evening, Kisshouin-san.”

“…Gokigen’yoh, Enjou-sama.”

Someone thoroughly unpleasant had come my way.

“So you’re wearing a furisode this time, in… deep scarlet, I think you call this? It suits you. You look lovely tonight.”

“Thank you very much…”

Haah, his smile was suspicious…

I wonder if he was holding a grudge after that White Day rumour.

I just wanted to make a break for it…

“Aren’t you going to look at the flowers?”

“I admired them up-close not too long ago. At any rate, I think that the night-time sakura should be enjoyed from a little further away.”

I could hear the guests praising the weeping sakura again. It had bloomed as gorgeously as last year.

Weeping Sakura

And the yoshino cherries had bloomed just as well.

It almost looked like another world, which to be honest was a little scary.

“I think I know what you mean. Don’t the sakura seem a bit scary at night? It’s almost like they bloomed by using human lifeblood as fertiliser. Say, isn’t there a tale about burying-”

“A corpse under the roots of a sakura tree!”

Exactly! Exactly!

Sakura are scary at night, right!?

I mean I like sakura, and they’re beautiful at night, but it’s because they’re so beautiful that it creeps me out!

Why?

Why did anybody think it would be a good idea to have a night-time banquet under the sakura?

“You know, when I read Kajii Motojirou’s poem, I thought, ‘I know exactly what he means.’ There’s just this indescribable discomfort when you see them in the night like this, isn’t there?”

Yeah! Yeah!

I know what you mean!

“But they hardly seem so frightening in the daytime, do they?”

“It’s because of the way the flowers seem to float in the darkness. It feels like you’ll get pulled in too.”

“That makes sense.”

“The weeping sakura here isn’t too bad, since it’s just barely 50 years old. But as for those sakura that have lived for hundreds of years… I can only imagine how much human blood they’ve drunk.”

“You are scaring me, so please stop!”

You’re going to make me imagine it.

“How mysterious. Even though they are all flowers, neither the plum nor the peach blossoms feel at all scary at night, do they?”

Ume plum blossoms at night.
Peach blossoms at night.

“Shhh. If Masaya’s mum hears you say that she’s going to plan something big, and all because ‘Reika-san likes peach and plum blossoms’ okay?”

Oh dear.

I quickly clamped my mouth shut.

Madam Kaburagi loved her events, so I could actually see her doing it.

Enjou smiled at me in amusement.

“But as scared as you seem to be of the sakura at night, you’re fond of sweets made from them, no? For example, sakuramochi.”

Why and how did he know this?

Sakuramochi is a Japanese sweet consisting of sweet pink-colored rice cake (mochi) with a red bean paste center, and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. Eaten during the spring, especially on hinamatsuri, or at flower viewing parties. The ball-style is endemic to the Kansai region, while the wrap style is the traditional style for the Kantou region, including Tokyo.

Flower-themed sweets from the West tasted a bit strange, and I wasn’t sure what I thought of them. Rose jam for example.

The Japanese equivalents on.the other hand, I was quite fond of.

Sakuramochi for example, or umegaemochi.

Umegaemochi are roasted rice cakes with red beans inside, branded with an ume plum blossom design.

Huh. It was all mochi.

“Yes. I enjoy eating them because of how festive they are. It really drives home that spring is here. I think this is the same for all the desserts of each season.”

I made very sure to emphasise that I wasn’t some glutton character.

Didn’t mean I wasn’t gulping down green tea at home as I nommed on sakuramochi though!

“I see. Wow, you’re so refined, Kisshouin-san.”

That’s right. I am refined. I’m not a glutton at all.

Damned Enjou.

I could see the laughter in his eyes.

He didn’t believe me in the slightest, did he?

“As expected of you, Kisshouin-san. No wonder you seem to be enjoying that sakura jelly so much.”

See? There he goes.

I had to get back at him somehow.

“Speaking of which, Masaya was looking for you.”

“Is that so?”

So Kaburagi was serious about talking about his love troubles in the middle of this huge crowd?

“Speaking of which, are you not together with Kaburagi-sama this evening? How novel.”

“Why does it feel like you think of us as a set?”

“Well, you two are famous for being awfully intimate…”

“Come on, you wouldn’t call that intimate, right? Kisshouin-san, did you just choose that wording to mess with me?”

Ah, did I go too far with my teasing?

This snake could show his true colours.

Oh dear.

Was he going to do it?

Was he going to attack!?

While I was looking at him guardedly, somebody else appeared.

“Here you are, Shuu.”

Coming in from my five was a white hand that softly took Enjou’s arm.

It was Yuiko-san.

So she was here too…

“Yuiko.”

“I was worried when you suddenly disappeared like that, you know?” she looked up at him, leaning into his shoulder.

Yuiko-san, beautiful and fragile, had drawn the attention of all the males around us.

“You seemed to be having fun with those guys, so I thought it would be fine to step away.”

“My, is somebody jealous?”

“Who knows.”

I looked around at all the men staring jealously at Yuiko-san and Enjou.

Apparently they had all been fussing over her until very recently.

Unfortunately they didn’t stand a chance against Enjou.

The two of them were picture perfect, after all.

Enjou gently tapped the hand on his arm.

“Yuiko, this is Kisshouin Reika-san. She’s in my grade at school.”

“Kisshouin… Reika-san?” she asked as she distractedly turned my way.

Big, dark eyes took me in.

I shivered a little.

“You know about Yuiko, don’t you? She’s a relative of mine. Uryuu Yuiko.”

“Gokigen’yoh. My name is Kisshouin Reika,” I smiled, as confidently as possible.

“Uryuu Yuiko. Have we… perhaps met before…?”

“Why, yes. At the Suiran School Festival.”

Languid eyes gazed at me for a while, before Yuiko smiled softly.

“Ah, I remember now. You were wearing a lovely china dress, no? I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Yes.”

“Huhu,” she laughed, seemingly pleased with hitting the mark.

That smile had entranced everyone around us.

“Hey, Shuu? I’m a bit thirsty.”

“Then shall we go get something for you to drink? Kisshouin-san, will…”

“I think I shall admire the sakura from a little closer. Please excuse me, Enjou-sama, Yuiko-san.”

Enjou frowned faintly.

Yuiko-san looked at me again with those jet-black eyes of hers, and smiled at me.

Good joke, Enjou. Who on earth would go anywhere with you two?

Scaryyy.

To escape as quickly as possible I busted out my ultimate skill, power-walking, but my furisode was making it impossible!

I messed up!

A penguin!

I looked like a penguin right now!

Ahh, and somehow I could feel Yuiko-san’s eyes on me from behind…

Happy thoughts, Reika, happy thoughts.


“I swear I saw a bright light at the end of a tunnel…”
was actually
“I saw higanbana(red spider lilies).” 彼岸が見えた。
These are said to bloom in the Buddhist underworld.

“Happy thoughts, Reika, happy thoughts.”
What she actually said was tsurukametsurukame, a charm to ward off bad luck. Cranes and turtles are fortuitous symbols of longevity.
鶴亀鶴亀(tsurukametsurukame; crane, turtle, crane, turtle)


Fan art by moya. Relevant chapters are linked for your convenience.


Primary School Year 1: Summer Party
– Sherbet-green dress
– White flower in hair
– Rather tan
– Elegant sandals with heels


High School 1st Year: Summer Party
– Powder pink layered chiffon dress
– Cute design


High School 1st Year: Flower-Viewing Party
– Ribboned flare dress in champagne gold
– Nails are sakura pink
– Sakura motif hair accessory


High School 2nd Year: Firefly Catching
– Turquoise kimono
– Hair done up


High School 2nd Year: Kisshouin Company Party
– Wine red dress


High School 3rd Year: Flower-Viewing Party
– Deep scarlet furisode


High School 3rd Year: Tanabata
– Intricately designed white and light blue layered organdy dress
– Black scarf


<Previous Chapter | Imouto | Next Chapter>

Reika-sama – 206

Everybody, please check the FAQ first before asking me questions.
If it’s not on there, please feel free and ask. I only get annoyed at questions when the same one has been asked 10+ times, and by then I’ll have updated the FAQ. Thank you for your consideration, guys!


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Sorry for the lateness. Bad stuff at work. Projects being late etc.


Oh no, oh no! What was I supposed to do now!?

He could not know that I was here!

I shook my head furiously at Wakaba-chan.

She nodded in understanding before leaving for the entrance.

I’m counting on you, Wakaba-chan!

My palms felt sweaty, and my heart thumped while I waited.

“What’s wrong, Cornet?” Kanta-kun asked.

“I do not want Kaburagi-sama to know that I am here,” I said.

“Why? Don’t you go to the same school?” he asked.

“That is exactly the problem,” I replied.

Lord in heaven, please protect me!

Kanta-kun looked at me for a moment before sinking into thought.

“In that case, let’s watch them in secret.”

Ehhh!?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, so I agreed.

He led the way into Wakaba-chan’s room on the 2nd floor.

“Kanta-kun, is this not Takamichi-san’s room? Should we be here without her permission?”

“It’s fine. Look, I knew they’d be down there.”

Her window overlooked the back of the store, which was where the two of them happened to be chatting.

Wakaba-chan was holding a bouquet that she definitely hadn’t had earlier.

I wonder if Kaburagi had brought it.

The two of us peeped, one-eyed, through the small gap in the window curtains.

“…I haven’t found them yet. But I will.”

“It’s fine, already. I don’t want it to blow up any further.”

Mn?

From what I heard just now, were they talking about finding the culprit behind the locker?

Ah, but Wakaba-chan didn’t want her family to know about the bullying, so maybe it wouldn’t be good to have Kanta-kun here…

“Did something happen to Neechan?” whispered Kanta-kun.

I hummed noncommittally.

I couldn’t think of anything on the spot.

What now.

Maybe I could distract him somehow.

“Say, Kanta-kun? Does he come over often?”

“About once a month to buy cake.”

Ugehhh.

Monthly visits?

This was definitely not the last time I was hiding then.

Damned Kaburagi, you sure have been busy in places I wasn’t looking.

Come to think of it, the teddy bear on the shelf over there was his Christmas present too.

“Hey, hey, are Kaburagi-san and Neechan going out?”

“I suspect not, but…”

“But Kaburagi-san definitely likes Neechan, right?”

“Hmmm. Did Takamichi-san say anything?”

“She keeps saying that he doesn’t and gets mad when we bring it up.”

“I see.”

At some point the two of them had started chatting about the break, and the mock exams we had just before it. As expected of our top students.

But although they were talking about studying, for some reason Kaburagi sounded oddly cheerier than usual.

Wow, he even laughed.

Mn, it’s nice being able to talk to your crush, isn’t it.

“By the way, Takamichi, what are you doing over the spring break?”

“Helping out at the store, studying at the library, that kind of thing.”

“I see. Say-”

Whatever it was he was going to say, it was cut off by Natsumi-chan coming back home.

“I’m home. Ah, Kaburagi-san, hello.”

“Hello there.”

Wow, so you’ve been over enough that her little sister remembers your name, damned Kaburagi.

“Oneechan, Oneechan,” she suddenly said to Wakaba-chan. “Is Coro-chan over?”

Uewaaaaahaah!

For a moment I went blind.

That almost gave me a heart attack.

“Oi! Are you okay, Cornet!?”

Huh. Apparently my eyes had rolled back into my head.

“Coro-chan…?” Kaburagi muttered curiously.

Oww! My stomach!

“Did you have a guest over?” he asked.

“Umm, yeah. Actually, a friend came over today! Nacchan, go inside, okay?”

“Okaaay.”

“I see. A friend came over…” he muttered again.

Hey, you better not be thinking of inviting yourself in as well.

You better not be!

Read the mood, Kaburagi!

“Then I’ll be heading back now.”

He read the mood!

“Thanks for going out of your way to visit. Ah, and for the flowers, too.”

“I was just in the area. Love the cakes, too.”

As if you were just in the area!

And you even brought a bouquet!

Think of a less obvious excuse, Kaburagi!

Huh. But had I not been here, then his plan to spend time work her would have worked.

Oops?

Kaburagi gave a casual wave to her before getting into his car and leaving.

Haaaah.

But wow, that surprise attack from Natsumi-chan really did a number on my stomach.

I decided to ask the whole family to only refer to me as Coro-chan from now on.

And just now Wakaba-chan called me her friend, didn’t she. Do you think she meant it?

*

*

*

After seeing Kaburagi off, Wakaba-chan came back into the house and placed the flowers in a vase.

“Oneechan’s been learning flower arrangement at school. She always teaching me, you know?” her little sister said proudly.

“Hey-! Can you please not say such embarrassing things to Kisshouin-san?” complained Wakaba-chan.

But Natsumi-chan’s next comment sent her into an embarrassed panic.

“Why? You tell us how to drink tea too. Gotta turn the tea bowl in your hands, right?”

So Wakaba-chan had been telling her family about what she learnt at Suiran.

It was nice to know she was enjoying the lessons, then.

Wakaba-chan turned to me and laughed shyly.

“Ehehe, actually I’ve been thinking about taking calligraphy in 3rd year, now that I’ve tried flower arrangement and tea ceremony.”

It was nice that she was looking forward to it, but wouldn’t she just get ink poured on her head?

Natsumi-chan said that she was hungry so Wakaba-chan was going to make okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki!

Wouldn’t this be the first time in my current life!?

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients which vary based on personal taste, and more widely, region.
The most ‘standard’ types will have cabbage and meats and stuff inside, topped with shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi). That is then topped with a sweet thickened Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise. Typically cooked on a hot plate or flat grill.

Wah, I could see the katsuobushi bonito flakes waving in the steam!

And the smell of the okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise was irresistible!

I loved battered food like okonomiyaki and takoyaki!

Wakaba-chan’s other little brother came home too, so we had a little okonomiyaki party with a hot plate, cooking and then eating, cooking and then eating.

The one that I flipped myself broke apart completely. Why.

Kanta-kun gave me one look and benched me from the cooking team. Sob.

Wow, Wakaba-chan was just demolishing that cabbage with her knife.

“Want one more, Kisshouin-san?”

“No, I am afraid I am quite full. Ahh, but if there are still some ingredients left over, then perhaps just a bite…”

This was so fun.

Being here was so comfortable.

*

*

*

“It feels as though I always make you treat me,” I said apologetically.

Before I knew it, every visit to Wakaba-chan’s house had involved her feeding me.

Just how shameless was I?

Maybe I ought to bring them some nice meat next time.

“Seriously, don’t worry about it~ Everyone has a great time eating with you. Come over again, sometime?”

“Thank you.”

Geez, if you say something like that I’ll be back over in no time, you know?

“Speaking of which, about Kaburagi-sama…”

“Ahh, yeah. He was in the neighbourhood so he came to buy some cakes. Also he came to tell me that he hadn’t found the culprit behind the locker yet.”

Yes, I know. I was eavesdropping, after all…

“Do you want to find out who it was?”

“Not really. I just don’t want it to get any bigger. I told Kaburagi-kun the same thing, and that he didn’t have to keep looking.”

“I see.”

If he was involved, it was bound to get bigger after all.

“Takamichi-san, what do you think of Kaburagi-sama?”

“Eh!?”

She looked really startled to hear that.

Should I not have asked?

“Erm, I mean, I was simply wondering what do you thought of his character…”

In the manga she would have already been head-over-heels for him, with story arcs about misunderstandings and overcoming obstacles.

The real pair wouldn’t be overcoming anything, I didn’t think.

“Hmmm~ At first I thought he was really unapproachable, like somebody from a different world, you know? But my impression changed after talking with him for just a bit.”

“How do you mean?”

“Hmmm… Well that time with the car accident he was really earnest with his apologies, and came to take me to the hospital each day.”

“Is that not the normal response?”

“I’m not sure. I guess I was just impressed that he didn’t try to solve it with money and wash his hands of it.”

“Hmmm~”

“We talked quite a bit during those visits. I was surprised that he’d laugh at jokes told by someone like me. I mean, this was the Emperor of Suiran, you know!?”

Yeah, but that nickname came from a children’s cavalry battle.

Not that an External Student like Wakaba-chan would know.

“Anyway, I guess I just felt a bit closer to him after that. It’s a bit strange. He’s usually so mature, but sometimes he acts just like a kid.”

Oho?

So the way Wakaba-chan saw him was just like the Kaburagi from the manga then.

Don’t tell me he actually had a chance?

She was spinning things in an awfully positive way though.

Rather than “sometimes acts just like a kid” I’d go further and say ‘his mental age is lower than Kanta-kun’s’.

I really wanted to ask if she liked him or not, but that was definitely prying too much.

She looked so startled earlier.

Aah, but I really wanted to know…

“What’s wrong?”

“Eh? Nothing. Are you going to be studying at the library during the spring break?”

“Yeah. Hmm? Did I mention that to you? Anyway, the kids are too noisy at home, so I like to study at the library nearby. Sometimes I go a bit further and travel to a bigger library too. Mizusaki-kun told me about it a while back. It’s even got a café.”

“My, Mizusaki-kun did?”

Studying together…?

“Do you study with Mizusaki-kun in the library too?”

“Sometimes. Usually I just go by myself though. Ah, but we’re planning on meeting there and studying again.”

Wasn’t that the library date that I was dreaming about for myself?

Geez, Wakaba-chan!

“The truth is that we’ve been talking about claiming the 1st and 2nd ranks for the Student Council. Taking down the Pivoine and all that. Ah, that was just a joke though! We’re not really trying to overthrow the Pivoine! Sorry, I hope I didn’t offend.”

“Not at all. But Kaburagi-sama and Enjou-sama will be tough to beat, you know?”

“That’s true~”

Kaburagi!

The distance between Fellow Stalking Horse and Wakaba-chan is steadily closing without you realising, you know!?

This isn’t the time to be pretending to buy cake, you know!?

“But yeah. Since coming to Suiran, I’ve really realised how different a person can be from your first impression once you talk with them a little.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. When I first entered the school I never would have thought we’d become so close, Kisshouin-san.”

“I see.”

She thought we were close.

Wah, that was really nice to hear.

And earlier she told Kaburagi that her friend was over.

Maybe she really considered me her friend.

“Did I come off as such an atrocious person?”

“That’s not what I thought at all! It’s just that, you know, like Kaburagi-kun you seemed to be like someone from another world.”

“And now? Do you still think of me like that?”

“Nope. Although I can’t quite say you’re from my world either.”

“Oh? I would be overjoyed to consider you a friend, though…”

“Really? Ehehe, to be honest I’ve already considered you one for a long time now.”

Wakaba-chan!

I emotionally took her hands into mine.

After that I advised her to change her mind about the calligraphy club and we said goodbye in front of the ticket gates.

“Come again, sometime~ We’ll all be waiting.”

“Thank you!”

A gale passed us by, and fluttered my hair in the wind.

Ah, my hair kind of smelt like okonomiyaki!

I had better take a bath when I got home.

Still, today was a great day!

*

*

I took out my phone while I was on the train and realised I had a message from Kaburagi.

‘I want to talk about what we discussed earlier.’

Ugeh.

Heading to Wakaba-chan’s house, and then immediately messaging me about advice, huh?

What a botherrrr.

Hm!?

Don’t tell me he realised that I was Coro-chan!?

Still, as bothersome as this was, I was the one who got in his way today, so I felt just a little bit guilty.

Especially after seeing how happy he seemed to be around her.

I guess Kaburagi wanted to spend time with Wakaba-chan as well.

…Sorry.

I decided to be especially generous.

‘Rather than text, let us speak over the phone. It will have to be quick, however.’

His replied said:

‘In that case, let’s take our time and talk at the sakura-viewing party.’

Haaaaah!?

When the hell did I end up RSVP-ing for the Kaburagi family flower-viewing event!?


<Previous Chapter | Imouto | Next Chapter>

Reika-sama – 205

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Here’s one more as an apology.


Like I’d promised, today Mao-chan was invited to my cooking lesson with Akimi-san.

Because I wanted to recreate the food that my mum made in my last life, most of the recipes that I was learning from her were for Japanese home-cooking.

And since most of it was brown and boring-looking, I suggested that we do something a bit more interesting for Mao-chan’s visit.

After some discussion, we decided that it would be gratin for today.

Gratin is a widespread culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. In Japan it typically refers to meat or vegetables topped with a layer of bechamel, then cheese, then bread crumbs.

“Wah! I love gratin!” exclaimed Mao-chan in her cute little apron.

Kids do love their western dishes.

First we had to mix the flour and milk until there were no lumps.

I already knew the importance of removing the lumps, thanks to my lessons with Wakaba-chan.

Akimi-san taught us that it would be good to remember how to make the bechamel sauce, because it was used in a lot of other dishes too.

Ohh?

Come to think of it, Mum always used supermarket roux in her dishes, didn’t she.

Maybe I could just use that…

I mean, it was delicious, okay?

Besides the gratin we also made minestrone.

Minestrone is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice, sometimes both. In Japan, minestrone is typically a tomato soup with pasta.

This dish needed vegetables, so I was a little worried.

Somebody was going to have to cut them, and I really didn’t want mess it up in front of Mao-chan.

The carrots I managed, because I had practised a lot at home.

I used a vegetable peeler on it, and then cut them into 1 cm cubes.

Always considerate, Akimi-san took care of the things she knew I was bad at, and somehow I managed to save face in front of Mao-chan.

“That’s a lovely necklace, Reika-san.”

When the two of them realised the pearl necklace was from Imari-sama they began to squeal and compliment him.

I told them a few stories about him and they seemed really taken with him.

Mao-chan had Yuuri-kun so that was one thing, but I really didn’t think it would be good for Akimi-san to be too adoring of him.

And Oniisama always grimaces and tells me “Anybody but Imari.”

Apparently beyond just the crazy stories I’d heard about, he had caused countless other incidents.

Imari-sama…

*

For lunch we had the gratin and minestrone, along with some baguettes that Akimi-san made.

It was delcious!

Bread was good stuff.

I’d been looking for a good bakery, but making it yourself was fun too.

Mao-chan said her mother baked bread too, sometimes.

Hm, maybe I would learn to bake bread next.

Akimi-san told us that making baguettes was difficult, so maybe we’d start with bagels first.

Bagels!

I loved bagels!

Bagels sandwiches were great too.

*

In just the course of the day, Mao-chan had become good friends with Akimi-san.

Akimi-san was gentle and kind, and she was a bit round too, so she was relaxing to be with.

Mao-chan asked if she could come next time when we were making bread, so Akimi-san told her that of course she could.

Oniisama wasn’t at home today, so I told Akimi-san that I’d get a driver to send her home.

Instead, Mao-chan suggested that she drop Akimi-san off as well.

They were really getting along~

The one picking her up turned out to be Ichinokura-san.

“Good afternoon. We’ve really troubled you with Mao-chan today. Thank you for everything, Reika-san.”

“Not at all. Thanks to Mao-chan we all had a great time.”

“Haruto-niisama, this is Narutomi Akimi-san. She was our cooking teacher today!”

“Please to meet you. I’m Ichinokura Haruto, Mao-chan’s uncle.”

“Ah, I’m Narutomi Akimi…”

She seemed a bit nervous about meeting a stranger.

“Haruto-niisama, can we drop off Akimi-san too? It’s fine, right?” Mao-chan asked.

“Um, Mao-chan, I can catch a taxi…” she demurred shyly, but Ichinokura-san was already answering Mao-chan.

“Of course we can. Akimi-san, please let us drive you home.”

She must have been nervous because instead of some old Sawarabi chaffeur, we ended up with a handsome young man instead.

Mao-chan’s invitation was hard to turn down though, so in the end she agreed and left with the three of them.

Hmmm~

I wondered if Mao-chan was trying to matchmake them.

She was really acting like a meddlesome aunty just now.

*

*

*

Since it was spring break, I decided to visit Wakaba-chan.

It was a bit blunt to just say ‘Let’s hang out’ though, so instead I sent her a message that said,

‘I was thinking of buying some of your cakes. Would it be fine to come over?’

‘Yeah, let’s hang out!’

came the reply.

Man, it was convenient having an excuse like that.

And so today she was waiting for me at the train station again.

“The brats at my home are always asking me, ‘When is Kisshouin-san coming over again?’ you know.”

“‘When is Cornet coming over?’ more like.”

“Ahaha~ Sorry. I keep scolding them about it but they just won’t listen.”

“Nothing to worry about. To be honest I have already resigned myself to it.”

Besides, it sounded closer than the distant-sounding ‘Kisshouin-san’ anyway.

“How were things afterwards?” I asked. “The bullying, I mean.”

“Mmn, nothing really happened since the locker incident. It really blew up, so everyone was being watched too carefully to try anything, I guess,” she said.

“I see. It would be nice if that continued until graduation,” I said.

“It would be,” she agreed.

Since she was the smartest girl in our grade, I think people would have respected her more if she seemed a bit more together.

I think people thought she was an easy target because she looked a bit dopey or undignified sometimes.

“It’s pretty hot, huh~”

Like just now. Her mouth was still hanging open.

She was the most relaxed-looking person I knew.

“Say, Takamichi-san? Your mouth is still open,” I couldn’t help but say.

“Wahwah!”

In a panic she clamped it shut.

“You seem to have a habit of that…”

It was a little rude, but I tried asking about it anyway.

Maybe she hadn’t even noticed herself.

In that case, addressing it would be the first step to making her look capable.

“Ahhh, yeah… It’s because I have a bad habit of clencing my teeth.”

That was surprising.

“Clenching your teeth?”

“Yeah. When I sleep I tend to grind them, so I actually have a line on the inside of my mouth where my teeth meet. My dentist told me that it would wear both my teeth in the long run, so it would be better to address the habit while I was young. Since then I loosen my jaw a bit whenever I remember.”

What the hell!?

So her stupid-looking expression actually had such a reasonable explanation behind it!

“It wouldn’t be a problem if I could just keep my lips shut, but my whole mouth opens when I’m not paying attention,” she laughed.

Still, it wouldn’t make sense to tell her to stop doing it then.

“So your gums have a clench mark?”

“It’s pretty obvious in the mirror. It looks like a horizontal white line. I can feel it with my tongue too.”

Huh.

I curiously licked my own mouth and found that I had one too.

Eh!?

Was I clenching my teeth as well!?

Maybe it was the stress…

It wasn’t because I had fat cheeks or anything, right?

But when I ate, sometimes I ended up biting them…

*

Kanta-kun greeted us when we arrived.

I followed the recipe and the fondant au chocolat turned out well, I reported.

He pridefully huffed that of course it would.

I commented that I was thinking of learning to bake bread, and got a whole lot of points to be careful about when baking it.

Apparently it was quite similar to baking desserts.

And then again, I got an earful about the importance of following the recipe.

Okay, okay, I get it already.

The three of us had a chat, and ended up deciding to just make something since I was here already.

I was excitedly discussing what to make with them when Wakaba-chan’s mother came into the house from the storefront.

“Wakaba, Kaburagi-kun is out front in the store.”

Gyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!


<Previous Chapter | Imouto | Next Chapter>

Reika-sama – 204

Everybody, please check the FAQ first before asking me questions.
If it’s not on there, please feel free and ask. I only get annoyed at questions when the same one has been asked 10+ times, and by then I’ll have updated the FAQ. Thank you for your consideration, guys!


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Sorry for the lateness. I’m really trying to get back into the habit of daily morning tls but the waking up bit is hard.


It was here!

Finally, the spring break was here!

It was a thorny path getting here.

The rumour strategy backfiring, the tense atmosphere that resulted, trying to change that by using the school idol Enjou, and then immediately being found out by him. That was some scary stuff…

After that, every time we met in the salon or in the hallway, Enjou would give me this smile that sent me trembling.

Stop giving me that look, Enjou.

Yes, it was my fault, but my stomach hurts so stop.

I learnt my lesson this time. It was important to think before you acted.

*

*

*

Spring break was basically an escape from all that.

Of course, I still went to cram school.

Umewaka-kun and co. were doing the spring break course as well.

I still had sessions with my private tutor though, so I spent a bit less time there than they did.

Since this was going to be our last year in school, everybody was preparing for the university entrance exams now. Everyone was studying seriously.

I sat with the others and we chatted for a bit before class began.

Moriyama-san was messaging somebody on her phone the whole time.

Apparently she had a boyfriend now.

It was a boy from her grade at school.

I guess despite how long she had crushed on Umewaka-kun, all the encounters with his Beatrice obsession gave her pause.

That time at the school festival where he started kissing and nuzzling the Beatrice doll in public was really something.

I think it might have been the last straw for her.

Anyway, around that time their school went on an excursion and Moriyama-san started dating a boy that she hit it off with.

That kind of event is a staple for co-ed schools, isn’t it~

Kaaah, I’m so jealous!

Coming back to Umewaka-kun though, I wondered if he’d ever get a girlfriend.

I mean Moriyama-san was crushing on him hard and he even scared her away.

I turned to have a look at him.

Umewaka-kun noticed my gaze and spoke to me.

“Oh, did you notice?” he pointed at his earring.

The design was round, with two depressions.

At a glance it seemed to be a skull motif, but when I looked carefully it turned out to be dog’s nose.

It really suits you, Umewaka-kun.

How silly of me. Why would he need a girlfriend when he already had an everlasting romance with Beatrice?

May they live happily ever after.

Anyway, going back to the spring cram course but Tagaki-kun was in our class.

He probably enrolled before his slip-up during the incident.

Sitting in the classroom, it was obvious that he was terrified of me.

I mean like, it-looked-like-he’d-seen-the-apocalypse-every-time-our-eyes-met terrified.

“Kisshouin-san, what’s up with him?

“Hmmm… Something of a misunderstanding, but at the same time not.”

According to the rumours, Tagaki-kun had been living every day in fear for his life after his careless comment got me in hot water.

Not that I was still mad after Kaburagi believed me.

The tongue begets disaster, they say.

That was something both Tagaki-kun and I had learned personally.

And speaking of Tagaki-kun, it wouldn’t do to leave him like this.

I decided to speak to him at lunch.

“Tagaki-kun,” I began gently.

He jumped in his seat and began to apologise madly.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” he repeated.

Wha-, hey!

“Um, Tagaki-kun…”

“Waaah! I’m sorry! Forgive me! Save me!”

Everyone else was starting to stare.

What the hell.

Didn’t it look like I was bullying him now?

Stop that!

“What’s that guy’s problem, Kisshouin-san?”

My friends stared wide-eyed at him.

Don’t look at me. I don’t get it either.

At any rate, I had to calm him down.

“I am not angry, Tagaki-kun. Shall we calm down a little?”

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

Uh, I’m not hitting you so you don’t have to cover your head like that.

“Tagaki-kun,” Umewaka-kun patted him on the shoulder, “Kisshouin-san has something to say, so could you hear her out first?”

Everyone else joined in too.

“It’s okay, calm down~”

“Come on, take a deep breath.”

Although he kept his hands on his head, he finally quieted down.

Tagaki-kun slowly looked up at me with teary eyes.

Just how scared of me was this guy?

“I accept your apology, so there is no need to be so frightened, Tagaki-kun,” I smiled kindly.

He looked even more scared now.

Why!?

“Huh? Did Tagaki-kun do something to you?” Kitazawa-kun asked in interest.

“It was not anything big. Since Tagaki-kun seemed to be hung up about it I wanted to tell him not to worry, but…”

Everyone hummed in thought as they looked at him.

“Hey, Tagaki-kun, are you afraid of Kisshouin-san?” Umewaka-kun asked bluntly.

The boy in question struggled to answer as his eyes swam.

“Hmm~ While we don’t know what the situation’s like at Suiran, but Kisshouin-san isn’t really somebody you need to fear like that.”

Everyone else nodded in agreement.

“You really don’t have to be so afraid of her. She’s not a bad girl,” said Moriyama-san, clapping him on the back. “Besides, if Kisshouin-san ever does something to you, I’ll save you!”

Tagaki-kun finally lifted his head from his hands and looked at me properly.

“It cannot be comfortable living in fear like that either,” I said. “How you forget about that incident and just live normally again?”

I gave him one last smile before returning to my seat.

I had my doubts, but hopefully he’d act a bit more normally now.

I didn’t know how I’d deal with the guilt if he failed his exams because he was feeling pressured about me.

It would be nice if I seemed more approachable.

The next day Tagaki-kun gifted me a whole heap of luxury creme caramel from the food section of an expensive department store.

Apparently the boys had told him that desserts were a good way of apologising to girls.

Thank you very much.

At lunch I invited Tagaki-kun to share them with me, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

He ran away the moment he finished his.

Am I really that scary?

“He’s downright terrified of you, isn’t he. Where in the Suiran hierarchy are you, anyhow?”

I’m part of an exclusive club with powerful privileges, and happen to lead the largest group of girls in my grade.


<Previous Chapter | Imouto | Next Chapter>

Turf War – Chapter 27

Everybody, please check the FAQ first before asking me questions.
If it’s not on there, please feel free and ask. I only get annoyed at questions when the same one has been asked 10+ times, and by then I’ll have updated the FAQ.

Thank you for your consideration, guys!


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Chapter 27 – Edim and the Fugitive Search Team

Uu…

I was feeling faint and light-headed.

I rubbed my forehead as I tried to remember what happened.

What was I doing again…?

I used my ultimate technique, right?

And then…

…!

I shot to my feet and surveyed my surroundings.

Sam Gordon.

I let Sam Gordon escape me.

I had used Bloody Mary[Demonic Bloodsucker] and slew the small fry in droves, but Gordon’s corpse was nowhere to be found.

Oh no.

I let the ringleader go.

The mission was a failure.

And a mission that Tilea-sama had personally assigned to me.

The importance of the mission went without saying.

Oh no, oh no, oh no!

“Ohhh no!

“What are you ‘oh no’-ing about?”

“Eh!?”

I turned in the direction of the beautiful voice.

What I found was a beautiful girl with silver hair and crimson eyes.

Camilla-sama.

Seeing the subject of my respect and adoration caused my heart to leap into my throat.

“C-C-C-Camilla-sama! W-, Why are you in such a place?”

“Calm down, you fool! You seemed to be doing something interesting so I used tracking magic and found myself here.”

“Tracking magic…”

“Quite so. You have some nerve, keeping something this amusing to yourself.”

“I-I cannot apologise enough.”

“No matter. I’ll join in for a bit of fun as well.”

“Eh!? Y-, You’re going to join us, Camilla-sama?”

“Naturally. Are you planning on excluding me from something as interest as this!?”

Of course, nothing would make me happier than working together with Camilla-sama.

But Tilea-sama had ordered me to keep this a secret from her.

It was unacceptable to speak of the mission with her.

Which was tragic, because I couldn’t even explain just how much help she would be right now…

“Camilla-sama, please be advised that the identity of the Fiend was in fact Nyger. Although Gordon is the ringleader he is essentially a worthless weakling. It would be a waste of your energy, Camilla-sama.”

“Fumu. Cleaning up that waste would certainly not be amusing.”

“You knew?”

“Are you half-asleep? Of course I knew! I watched everything through your mana!”

My body was wracked with shock.

The moment that I let Gordon escape…

No, worse yet, all of the other failures tonight…

She saw them all.

The shame of it overwhelmed me.

“T-, Then you knew everything?”

“From about midway, yes. I watched you wheeze into the building, struggle with the riff-raff, to say nothing of Nyger, and then blow yourself up to top things off. I even saw how you were lax in finishing an enemy off, and then almost got yourself killed by Nyger. Oh yes, I saw it all.”

“Eh!? Nyger…?”

“Like I said, naive. Nyger survived your attack. You were stupendously foolish. Were it not for my arrival you’d have been destroyed.”

“I-I had not even a clue… M-My sincere apologies.”

“Hmph. Do a little more training!”

S-So something like that had happened too…

I was fooled by Nyger.

I hadn’t even imagined that he played dead to finish me off.

Shame after shame I heaped upon Camilla-sama tonight.

It was too late for regrets, but I should have been more careful.

Not only was Camilla-sama forced to clean up after my stupidity, but she even troubled herself with healing me afterwards.

She had done leaps and bounds more than any lord should have done.

And in exchange, she had a good-for-nothing like me as a servant…

It would all be over if I failed her again now.

“U-, Um, Camilla-sama. If you’re okay with it, I was thinking of continuing my search for the target.”

“Umu. I’ll leave the final scrap of garbage to you. There had better not be any more failures. Understand?”

“O-, Of course, Camilla-sama. Gordon will be a corpse by morning. S-So――”

I couldn’t disappoint her any further.

I would kill the Fiend at any cost and regain my honour.

I took a few steps towards her to tell her this when,

“Stay back!”

“C-, Camilla-sama…?”

“You stink, Edim. As a present from Oneesama, you should be taking much better care of yourself!”

“A-, ah, n-, y-, it, it’s not――”

“Edim, killing Gordon is well and good, but do something about that stench!

“Y-, Yes…”

With her nose pinched between her fingers, she activated a teleportation spell and left.

I fell to the ground.

Haha.

I just wanted to die already.

There was no point in living after showing my beloved lady something so disgraceful.

To be honest it felt like I was already dying from shame and embarrassment.

Kuh!

All of it was Ortidiot’s fault.

Oh how I had suffered because of that incompetent bastard!

The anger was starting to get to me.

Which was bad.

I didn’t have time to be angry right now.

There was a mountain of things to do.

Not least of which was finding out where Gordon had run off to.

First I had to contact my kin to find out what was going on.

Then I had some reports whatnot to make to that idiot…

And as it turned out, Gordon was still missing.

If he had managed to get past those huge numbers, he must have had a secret escape route.

I had to find out what that was.

Hm, if there was somebody familiar with the history, geography, and particulars of the Capital, perhaps they would have an idea.

For example, a history teacher at the prestigious Magic Academy, who had published several acclaimed theses on the very topic.

I looked over at the deadbeat on the ground.

Haaah~

It was mortifying, but there was nobody more fitting for the job than Jayjay.

“Jayjay.”

“…Uu, ugo… gah…”

“Stop groaning, and get up!”

“Ugoh… gih…”

He wasn’t getting up.

The idiot was on the brink of death.

The wound he sustained from Nyger’s attack was too much for his healing to catch up with, and left alone he would die.

Tsk.

But as reluctant as I was to do this, right now I needed him.

I resolved myself to give him some of my blood.

Cutting my left hand, I stuffed a bloody finger into his mouth.

In no time at all, Jayjay’s injuries disappeared before my eyes.

His vampiric healing strength was working proper again.

“Uoooooooohhh! W-What an exquisite taste. I, Jayjay, have returned to the world of the living. Edim-sama! For your sake I would――”

“Enough poetry. I have a job for you.”

“Yes, milady. Anything.”

“I need you to take command of the pursuit for Gordon.”

“The Fiend managed to escape?”

“Kuh! Yes. Nyger died, but Gordon escaped by teleportation. All thanks to a certain waste of space!”

“Huhu, please be at ease. I, Jayjay, was powered up when I was reborn anew; I will not fail in such a manner again.”

“I’ve had just about enough of your overconfidence. Enough talk; can you do it or not?”

“Of course I can. I already have an idea of where he ran to.”

“What? Well, where is he?”

“Ah, please wait. I must explain in order.”

Kuh-, we were already short on time.

This idiot still couldn’t get a clue.

“Hurry up and explain then, Jayjay!”

“Understood. From your anxiety I presume that you failed to find him within the encirclement?”

“Correct. We’ve been monitoring everywhere within a few kilometres radius of this mansion, both my kin and the Second Division. It doesn’t matter how stealthy he is, if he was here then we’d know and I haven’t had a single person report his location. I hate to think it but he may have already left the city.”

“Edim-sama, did I not teach you in class? The teleportation spell can only take you a few kilometres at most. This is irrespective of how much mana you might have.”

“I know. But if he were to repeatedly use the spell, then…”

“That would be folly itself. We would have noticed the amassing of mana for one thing, and you still cannot discount the chance of death from the magic itself.”

“Then where is he!?”

“Most likely he is in the subterranean waterways.”

“Underground waterways!? We have those in this city!?”

“Edim-sama, this is what happens when you don’t listen in class. Long ago, during the reign of Arcudas the 1st, the sewerage project was――”

“Shut up. This isn’t the time for a lecture. You will send our forces into those waterways and alert Dalf’s team to the situation.”

“Your will be done.”

With that, he left the mansion to carry out my orders.

I see.

Water tunnels beneath the city.

I was starting to recall the lesson.

In the distant past there was a drainage system that criss-crossed all throughout the city. These days they were clogged up and more or less useless, but Gordon had probably escaped through some still working ones.

But then I had to wonder if we could catch him then.

Could even Jayjay pinpoint which of those tunnels he was in before sunrise?

If it wasn’t for the time limit I supposed he could, but the mission parameters were what they were.

I could fail to meet them at this rate.

Right now Bernandes-sama leading the 4th Division in gathering intelligence in the Capital.

Perhaps it would be better to explain to the intelligence branch and enlist their help.

“Ediiiiim! I’ve been looking for you! How was it? It had better have gone perfectly!”

And here came another idiot I didn’t want to deal with.

So it had been an hour since I entered then.

To be honest I had no time to deal with him.

Unfortunately he was still, technically, my superior.

I had no choice but to report Gordon’s escape.

It was depressing.

And I could tell this dumbass was going to lose it.

If I wasn’t careful with my wording he might even kill me.

“My deepest apologies. I did not succeed, and Gordon escaped. However, a pursuit team is already――”

“W-, Whaaat!? Youuu! I’ll never forgive you! I’ll tear your head from your neck!”

In a rage, Ortidiot began to strangle me.

Kuh-, this strength…

He might have been lacking in intelligence, but he lacked nothing in raw strength.

I couldn’t get him off.

O-, Oh shit.

Don’t tell me I was going to be killed by this idiot?

No!

How could I accept dying in such a stupid way!

I mustered the last of my strength to get his hands off.

“Gaaaaaah! Haaaah! Haah, haah…”

“Edim. This is unforgivable. How are you going to take responsibility of Tilea-sama loses faith in me! I’ll kill you!”

“Haah, haah, p-please wait. This is hardly the time for that. Are you fine with just letting him go!?”

“Huh? Are you trying to pin your own failures on me!?

“Ortissio-sama, I can accept the punishment for letting him go later. However, if we fail to catch him now, the consequences for both of us will be even dearer.”

“W-W-What do you mean ‘consequences’? You’re the one who messed up!”

What a guy.

From my point of view, he was the cause for all of this!

And although I was so desperately to spit that at him, as I mentioned, this was hardly the time for fighting.

There was no choice except for me to be the adult here and move things along.

“Ortissio-sama, please think calmly about this. This is not the time for allotting blame,” I reasoned. “No matter whose fault it was, the two of us are done for if the mission ends in failure!”

“Kuh! Because of you――”

“Please stop right there, Ortissio-sama. I’ll listen to your complaints as much as you want afterwards. But for now, we must get to work. There isn’t long until dawn,” I stressed.

“Ngnghn, fine,” he finally relented, “I’d take anybody’s help right now. I’ll put off taking your life for now.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Well? What are you doing now, Edim? Where’s Gordon?”

“According to the intelligence I’ve received, Gordon appears to be escaping from the underground waterways.”

“Underground waterways!? Are you certain?”

“Yes. Considering the level of surveillance we have above-ground, it is very strange that we’ve yet to detect him.”

“Indeed. Then we send a team into the sewerage systems at once!”

“I have of course done so. However, I’m told that usable tunnels aren’t that common. I’ve enlisted the help of somebody familiar with the history of the place, but whether or not we’ll find the right tunnel before dawn is…”

“Hah? Then what are we supposed to do!? Don’t you have any brains? Think up some kind of solution!”

Don’t I have…

Then don’t you have any brains!?

Ah, no, no.

Hold it in, Edim.

You don’t have time to squabble with him.

A solution, huh…

Before Ortidiot interrupted my train of thought I was thinking of asking the 4th Division for help.

The 4th was the division directly commanded by Dryas-sama.

Although it was a top secret mission, I didn’t think it would be too much of a problem to reveal it to our strategist and chief of staff.

“Shouldn’t we ask for Dryas-sama’s help?”

“Haah? Wh-, Why do we have to ask him for help? Piss off! To begin with, don’t you have any idea what ‘top secret’ means!?”

“I do. However, this is an emergency. At this rate, the mission itself might end in failure. Besides, Dryas-sama is our Chief of Staff. Ordinarily he would be privy to this information anyway. If I had to choose between this and failing, I think asking for his help would be much preferred.”

“N-No. No! I won’t accept it! Why do we have to share the merits with him!?” he clamoured.

I knew this idiot would make a fuss.

The reality was that the underground waterways were too much for just my unit and the 2nd Division.

We really wouldn’t make it without the information from the 4th.

I just had to find a way to convince this dimwit.

“Please, Ortissio-sama. We have no choice but to rely the Evil God Army’s prided intelligence branch if we want to get anywhere with the waterways.”

“Don’t want to. No way am I lowering my head to that―― Oh, I know. Why don’t we just ask Bernandes directly!”

“Ortissio-sama, it isn’t good to go over one’s superior like that. Either way, Bernandes-sama would ask Dryas-sama for permission.”

“B-But…”

“Besides, it would not be good to leak details of the top secret mission to anyone but the Chief of Staff. Tilea-sama mentioned that even Camilla-sama was not to know of it. However, Dryas-sama seemed to know a little.”

“Nhnmng…”

“Ortissio-sama, I still think the worst outcome would be failing to complete the mission that Tilea-sama gave us.”

“I-, I get it. But could you go ask the Chief of Staff?”

J-, Just how much trouble did he have to make until he was satisfied?

I didn’t want to give such a shameful report either.

“Ortissio-sama, I still need to give orders to my kin. Besides, it should be the superior officer that reports to the top in these instances, no?”

“Ugugu, f-fine. I’ll do it, fine!”

“Please do.”

Ortidiot left for the underground empire, radiating displeasure.

I thought back to all of those taunts he threw at Dryas-sama.

Who knew what was going to happen to him now.

Truly reaping what you sow.


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Reika-sama – 203

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“Ririna…”

The biggest troublemaker of all had appeared.

From her expression, she was positively raring to go.

No seriously, somebody had practically sharpied ‘Which bitch-ass needs a smackin’?’ onto her face, it was that obvious.

“I know everything, Reika-san! Somebody’s been putting you through hell with slander. Why didn’t you come to me for help!?”

Because if I came to you for help then something like this would happen!

“Well, whatever. So these girls are the enemy, then. I’ll help! Hey, you lot! Pick on somebody your own size!”

I knew it!

Stop!

Stop!

Don’t make this any bigger than it has to be!

My feelings failed to reach a single person, however, and in front of my eyes Ririna donned phantom knuckledusters and a deuce deuce.

“Are you serious!? You have nothing to do with this, you first year!”

“I’m Reika-san’s cousin! If you have a problem with her, tell it to me!”

“I don’t care whose cousin you are! It’s none of your business! Unless of course you were part of her plan!”

“We’ve already told you to stop slandering Reika-sama! Who do you think she is!? She’s a member of the Pivoine!”

“The Student Council doesn’t care if she’s Pivoine or not!”

“And we don’t care about you! The Student Council should mind its own business!”

“You low-bred Externals dare behave like this in front of true-blood Suiran students!?”

“Exactly! You’re just Externals!”

“You think that just because you’re part of the Student Council that you can suddenly forget your place!?”

“‘External, External!’ How does attending a school since primary give you the right to think you’re better than us!?”

“Right!? The Internals are basically all idiots, anyway!”

What was that!?”

Hey! Don’t you dare ignore me!”

“What the heck!? Let go of me!”

“Kyaah! You’ve done it now, you bitch!”

“Oww! Don’t pull the hair!”

“Get her! Ririna-san! We need to avenge Reika-sama!”

“Ah!? Tsuruhana-san! Those are piercings! That’s a violation of school regulations!”

“Shut it, External! You don’t have a boyfriend because you dress like that, you ugly bitch!”

What did you say!?”

A group of rich girls were screaming and shouting, wearing terrifying expressions as they yanked at each others’ hair and clothing.

Hiiiiie!

It was like a vale tudo free-for-all in here!

What happened to Suiran being a good school with good kids!?

“What the hell are you all doing!? Cut that out this instant!” roared Fellow Stalking Horse.

The girls all turned to glare daggers as the crowds parted for him.

Ririna even had a clump of hair in her clenched hand.

When he realised exactly what had been going on, Fellow Stalking Horse’s went as stiff as a board.

He was an exceptional Student Council President, true, but no boy would ever want to butt in on a cat fight like this alone.

They began flooding him and showering him with complaints.

They were the ones who picked a fight first!”

“Haah!? That was you bitches!”

“As for us, all we did was try to stop a pointless quarrel.”

“Stop playing the goodie-two-shoes! You’re the one who hit me!”

“Reika-san’s enemies are my enemies!” a certain somebody declared.

“Alright! Alright already!” Fellow Stalking Horse shouted. “I get it, so just calm down!”

Each faction regrouped, checking their warriors for harm, and giving them thanks and encouragement.

“So what started all of this?” he asked once they seemed calm enough.

“Tsuruhana-san’s group suddenly picked a fight with Reika-sama.”

“Reika-sama was the one who tried to slander me with false accusations!”

“As part of the Student Council, I was just giving them a warning…”

“We’re supposed to be stopping the trouble,” he sighed. “What good are we if we magnify the issue…?”

There was a pause, and then he turned to Ririna.

“You’re…”

“As Reika-san’s cousin, I couldn’t just ignore her crisis!” Ririna declared grandly.

Fellow Stalking Horse looked at her, and then brought a hand to his forehead.

“Right, it’s time for you to leave…” he said as he chased her off.

“Anyway! If you girls have a problem with each other then talk it out calmly. A group of young ladies getting into a fistfight is ridiculous!”

President!

The girls all surrounded him and tried again to bring him to their way of thinking, but another voice interrupted.

“Shut up,” Kaburagi eyed them coldly. “Not only are you an earful, but you’re disgraceful too.”

The cafeteria turned to silence.

The girls in question looked awkward as they flushed in embarrassment.

“We still haven’t discovered the culprit for Takamichi’s locker,” he continued, “so enough causing trouble with your pointless guessing.”

He was overwhelming.

Totally different to the child who threw a tantrum about giving a tiny little blood oath.

“Are we clear?” he asked, prompting.

They all nodded.

Seemingly done with this, Kaburagi turned to leave.

“Please wait!” called Serika-chan.

“U-, Um, Kaburagi-sama!” called Kikuno-chan, as the two of them stood a little fearfully in his way.

“Kaburagi-sama, Reika-sama has never bullied anybody. If you have to believe anything, please believe that!”

“It’s true! Everything with Reika-sama is just a misunderstanding!”

That was surprising…

The pair had been huge fans of Kaburagi as long as I could remember.

They adored everything he had done, as far back as our days in primary.

I’d never have expected them to confront him like that.

They had chosen my side over him.

I was more than a litte touched.

Kaburagi looked at them for a little while before giving his reply.

“I do believe that.”

With that, Kaburagi left the cafeteria again.

There was silence for a while after he left, before the room exploded with the passionate screams of girls.

“Reika-sama! Kaburagi-sama believes you!”

“Isn’t that great, Reika-sama!?”

I was surrounded by my group as they cheered.

“…Yes. Thank you, Serika-san, Kikuno-san. Everybody else, too,” I told them earnestly.

They all smiled brightly at me.

Really, thank you.

*

*

Thanks to Kaburagi’s statement of belief, the last few people who suspected me were convinced as well. As expected of the Emperor.

Back to my other problem though, I wasn’t sure what to do about the tension.

I mean, yes, I had inflamed it with my actions, but still…

Wasn’t there some fun topic to help people forget about the locker incident?

That was the only solution I could think of.

Something that both my girls and Tsuruhana-san’s would really care about…

Oh! I know!

I sacrificed Enjou.

“I have heard that Enjou-sama enjoyed a date with somebody on White Day,” I informed them.

As expected, it erupted into a huge scandal.

Good… Good…

It was better for Suiran to be flooded with talks about romance, rather than talks about conspiracies and ploys, so I spread gossip like there was no tomorrow.

One day I was walking down a hallway, happy at how well my plan had gone, when somebody tapped me on the shoulder from behind.

Enjou stood there, smiling.

“Since I have a debt to you, I’ll overlook things just this once, okay?”

The cold sweat wouldn’t stop.

“Anyhow, have a nice day,” he chuckled darkly.

Aaaahhh!

Why won’t spring break come already!?

 


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