… A few months had gone by.
Messages came in from here and there, informing Hideo of what had happened after that.
Hannibal and Johnny apparently reopened the steak shop in that city. It didn’t take much effort for the shop to regain its popularity, and it was busy everyday.
Similarly, Javan and the Old Man remained there as law enforcement officials, preserving the peace as they aimed to climb a step higher and expand their horizons.
Verrocchia and Sandelmain returned to their manor in eastern Europe; they were taking it easy while arbitrarily fending off some anti-demon organization called Kresnik.
Akane and Ash returned home for the time being. Rather, Hideo just barely managed to persuade her to return. Once her alchemic studies progressed far enough to compound a love potion… or so she said, but putting all that aside.
Remina, as expected, preferred to live in her birthplace by the Aegean Sea. She gave up on the stage, but on Taoka’s strong request, she would be putting out a CD in the near future. He awaited the day he would see it lining the record shop shelves.
The Gray and Smoke had finished their missions and each had returned to their ☆s. He had to wonder how exactly the two of them would speak of the incidents on this ☆ in their homelands.
Kobayashi made a large-scale announcement in MMMR focusing largely on the two of them. It was a rare coherent and reasonable piece, and that issue of Weekly Fry-D sold phenomenally.
Now that Ryuuta had lost the goal of his journey to find an old foe, he returned to his old home in Angel Saber. The Colonel was reappointed with him as an instructor, apparently. Perhaps a retired life didn’t suit him, or perhaps going on a rampage after so long had stirred up his old blood.
The picture showed the teacher and student in their uniforms, with Rocky sitting dignified beside them.
While Elize and Shouki had obtained the throne of Sacred Demon Lord, for the time being, they were living just as they had before. When you really got down to the root of it, they still saw Obliterating Industries as the most pressing evil to deal with. Elsia didn’t tire of their confrontation, and she was currently taking an extended stay in that city.
Suzuran and her subordinates were spending their festive, mischievous days there no different than before.
This time, Archess and his men with them…
There were those who returned to their original lives, and those two decided to remain in that city. And each one of them had begun walking a new path in life. Fueled by their bittersweet feelings from the Sacred Demon Cup tournament. They would surely find a completely new path they never would have stumbled upon had it not been for that competition.
Under his covers, he glanced at the letters around him, basked in the reverie of how fun those times were as he firmly sealed himself in.
“Hideo. Get out here, god dammit.”
‘Umm… Master. She’s calling for you…’
Wilco who had dropped by from heaven to play pointed behind him, but he pulled the cover further over his head and completely ignored it.
Incidentally, the one calling for him was a senior for work, and someone who was terribly harsh when she got angry. She had a last name he was sure he’d seen somewhere before.
“Just come out, Kawamura Hideo. We know you’re in there.”
This cold voice came from a cute-faced colleague who was harsh even when she wasn’t angry. She also had a surname he was certain he recognized.
‘Ah, err… master?’
What is this? Yeah, that’s right. Of course, he changed his attitude. Thanks to the tournament, he found his second wind. But just because his personality changed, that didn’t change the nasty look in his eyes he had from birth. Yeah, he was an idiot for failing to notice.
He was immediately rejected from the ten companies who would take a high school graduate. His trauma from two years back reemerged. It’s over for me. Don’t give up? Keep moving forward? Yes, those really were wonderful words in that atmosphere.
But after all he’d said, it was difficult for him to go knocking on the door to heaven or Elize Industrial or Obliterating Industries, and just around that time, his application to the public station Suzuran recommended to him was miraculously accepted.
The organization he was sent to was called the Imperial Household’s Divine Spirit Division. If a mystery appeared in the west, they would pin down its cause, if there was a monster to the east, they would exorcize it. Their job apparently entailed resolving occult cases all across Japan.
‘… Well isn’t that fine, Master? Wilco herself was recorded as a bit of an occult phenomenon on the darknet, you know.’
Spirits are spirits.
Occult is occult.
“Imperial Household Divine Spirit Division Spirit Division Kawamura Hideo.”
He was the only one in that division of the division. Yet, for some reason he wasn’t considered the head of that division, he was pretty much on the bottom rung. In the first place, why did the Divine Spirit Division have a Spirit Division? Wasn’t it strange to be a division of a division?
‘Aaah, Master… where did the radiance of those days go…’
It didn’t exist. It was all just an illusion.
No matter what they said.
Kuh kukuh ku ku kuh…
Even Wilco didn’t know how to respond to that.
He peeked out his head to the sound of the door being kicked in.
Long black hair, the corners of her slanted eyes slanted even further, his superior in a black pantsuit. His colleague in a shrine maiden outfit who always looked like she was glaring regardless. The two of them rudely barged their way in.
“Hmph, insolent fool. What vile sites were you browsing with that mean look in your eyes?”
Wilco had already hidden herself.
“No. Just my email. I was just checking my inbox.”
His superior promptly kicked him down.
“Now this really is a shame, poor Hideo. Our station isn’t kind enough to sack you just because you refuse to come to work. Seriously, good grief, you got a glowing recommendation from Takase, Suzuran, and Shouki, so when we’re understaffed year round, just how high did you think we got our hopes… right, Suiren?”
“Quite right, Hasebe. I never thought we would be gifted the trash of trash at the bottom of the barrel.”
Mister Archess. Human rights, human rights are still being unjustly trampled over.
“… You’re not going to betray those expectations, are you?”
“No, that’s… deputy chief… but… what is it this time?”
“A drowning death in the new lumberyard. They say it was a double suicide, two targets. They’ve become vengeful ghosts. It’s time for the Spirit Division’s shining newcomer to take the stage.”
Hideo’s’ body trembled viciously as he denied it.
This is impossible.
Ghosts and spirits are different. He was speaking as a member of the spirit division, there was no doubt about it. Rather, he really wanted to start by firmly defining the distinction between ghosts, apparitions and spirits.
“For Christ’s sake, we have to hurry. The police force’s spectral team’s gonna get the drop on us. See, rumor has it their new recruit, this Kitaooji girl’s extraordinarily skilled. She’s using a truncheon in this day and age.”
The world was way too small.
‘Ah, it’s true, master. Minako’s name’s been registered under that division. You should be able to work together as old friends.’
It was too late by the time Hideo contained the speaker.
“… So you were here. Vile God.”
‘That I am. Mikomiko Suiren.’
Their menacing auras collided. Leaving those two on bad terms aside.
“Hmm. That so. Now that’s an interesting bit of info. Why, if you already know her, Hideo, that means you’ve gotta go, right?”
“No. Meaning, well. Even if we know each other…”
“Case settled, now get up, get up. Ain’t this nice, you get escorted to work by two beauties. You’re quite the lucky fellow, Hideo. Or what is it? You wanna try training in swordsmanship at our dojo again?”
Rather than an apparition that might possess him, the deputy chief’s training that would definitely kill him was far scarier.
‘Fight on, my master! Isn’t this the future you wished for!!’
Well. She did have a point.
He exultantly made his resolve, slipped out from the covers, stripped off his pajamas to change, and was smacked by a colleague who disparaged him for his indecency in front of a lady.
Even if it didn’t all go his way. Even if it wasn’t cool. All things included, that was who he was……
A life of seclusion that had been once discarded.
Now it went by the name of a ‘miracle’ as he took a new step forward.
This was the tale of the young man called Kawamura Hideo—