But Why.

 

Kaiei Private School. On top of being one of the leading prep schools in the prefecture, its athletics club activities won it fame both inside the prefecture and out. Despite its status as a prestigious school, its name and its rouge uniforms were strangely unremarkable; a stark reminder that you can’t win them all.
“Good morning everyone. It’s finally time for the new semester…”
The spring sun. Contrary to the season to set the heart aflutter, the slight gloom at the fact school was starting again could be observed among the students standing in file in the schoolyard.
(It’s already been a month…)
Mixed in with the second year rows looking up at the blue sky, Nagoyakawa Suzuran was involved in the explosion incident that had happened in Tokyo a little over a month prior. Her name was even broadcast on TV at the time, and that did gather the curiosity and concern of her fellow classmates but… It did seem that in this day and age, rumors didn’t even hold up for seventy-five days anymore. Now that spring break had gone by, the Sacred Assembly didn’t even get a second of broadcast time.
It was possible the Sacred Assembly, who weren’t of the earthly realm, had put pressure on the government and news circulation. Hasebe Shouki who was similarly involved with the incident said something to that effect.
(Is he late… again?)
While she shifted her gaze to the third year rows, Suzuran was unable to spot heads or tail of him.
“… And that’s all I have to say. Next, let me introduce the new teachers who will be joining you this new semester.”
The voice of the well-built chairman flowed out of the speaker, his tone bringing to mind the highest of nobility. Each of the newly appointed teachers climbed up to the platform one by one, introduced themselves, gave their greetings… it was simply so boring that Suzuran couldn’t help but think back to that maelstrom of events.
(Is everyone doing alright…)
This had to be the difference in worlds, between where she lived, and the world of darkness. She felt far more nostalgia than was warranted by one month.
Meeko, Ripple-Rapple, Saho, Doctor… Feriol and Clarica. Those experienced far away from the ordinary had, by this point, become pleasant memories.
(Takase… is definitely doing something crazy right now.)
Danger passed; God forgotten, Suzuran smiled bitterly to herself.
“And finally, let me introduce the part-time lecturer who will be taking charge of art. He may look young, but get this: He’s studied abroad in France and Italy, and that’s not all, he’s come to our school with a recommendation from the Ministry of Education… Well then, teacher, f you’ll step this way.”
At the chairman’s proudly bounding voice, Suzuran doubted her own eyes. Right. The reason being. The one who rose to the stage, wearing a somewhat-stylish jacket and slacks… his long slit eyes covered in angular silver-rimmed glasses—none other than the man himself.
“Ahem. It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Takase Iori.”

“WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?”

That was the only word Suzuran could use to exhibit her surprise.
Certainly. He was certainly doing something crazy, she thought. But was he seriously this crazy? … She got the feeling he was.
Nonetheless, the man in question didn’t seem particularly offended, he seemed jubilant in fact.
“Ha ha ha. My, it looks like you have some spirited students in this school.”
In the schoolyard that had gone silent, giggles sounded out here and there.
“So anyway, I’m glad you let me take the stage, but I’m sure you’re all getting tired of standing, so I’ll leave my intro at that. I’ll spare you the story.”
Ooh… the young art teacher’s sympathetic ploy had the students astir with gratitude. Quite a few female students were stretched out on the tips of their toes to take in his aesthetics.
“In short, I’ll be an assistant teacher in my fellow art teacher, Mizuhara’s class. It’ll be a pleasure working with you, 2-A.”
Some cheers spread out from a row in the second year.
“Lastly, Nagoyakawa Suzuran from Class 2-A, please come see me after this.”
Suzuran didn’t let the momentary change in his expression slip by. His glasses pushed up, his eyebrows bent back, the corners of his lips lifting into a vulgar smile.
He called himself Takase Iori, but all he did was flip his first and last name.
Iori Takase—it was him.
Bullets. Hand grenades. Metal washbasins. And eighteen-liter drums… Suzuran saw her memories with him spin by like a dazzling revolving lantern.
“Nagoyakawa collapsed!”
The voice resounded a few seconds after Takase stepped down from the stage.

 

 

“This is insane…”
The whole-school assembly over, when the students made for the school building in orderly succession. Makoto stood dazed out, her body unable to make a single move. The man speculated to be E0… Iori Takase, while one of the godslayers that hid themselves from the world, of all things, he straight-on boldly infiltrated as a teacher. What’s more, that brazenness with which he called out the demon lord candidate by name.
From the photo she input in her brain, there was no doubt it was him, but—
(Well whatever.)
Regaining her composure, Makoto pressed the latch on her choker, muttering in an extremely soft voice.
“Target found. All yours.”
‘Understood.’
From her terribly-modestly designed earing, she heard Kikuhito’s terribly quiet voice.

 

 

After the new term’s class rep and seating were decided, the first period homeroom gave way to break. Suzuran pessimistically walked down the hallway to the art room where she’d find him.
“… It’s Nagoyakawaaah.”
Upon finding her real mother, her last name changed from Agawa to Nagoyakawa. She was just about getting used to being called that, but it still felt a bit off when she said it herself. Incidentally, she wasn’t used to writing it in the slightest. Nagoyakawa Suzuran. Writing out the whole kanji took over seventy strokes, a convoluted mess that would make any fortune teller reel. That alone was something that might prompt her to resent her beloved mother just a bit.
“Oh, glad you could make it. Come right in.”
The man waiting in the dim art prep room beckoned her in while bathing in the window backlight. The dull scent of oil paint. In that narrow classroom with various small items littered around, Takase had taken a seat in a pipe chair. There was a long desk in front of him, with another pipe chair across.
“Have a seat.”
He made a recommendation with a refreshing smile that suited his shapely features. Suzuran sat.
In homeroom, the class’s reputation of him seemed to be an attractive and sociable teacher, and overwhelmingly positive. Their homeroom teacher Mizuhara (28, female, single) was conducting herself cheerfully as if she had found some new hope in life… Suzuran thought this was some sort of mistake. No, she wanted to think so.
“Umm…?”
“You may call me Mr. Takase out of pure and utter respect.”
He smiled smugly, immediately showing his true colors.
(Yep… he’s real.)
“What’s wrong, Nagoyakawa? Crying and shaking. Ah, of course, I don’t mind if you call me master like you always have.”
“…… So. Do you have some business here?”
“I’m here to discuss your career, of course.”
Clang. The pipe chair’s clasp must have been weak as Suzuran found herself tossed out onto the floor. Returning it to its proper place,
“No, umm… I was wondering if you had any business with this school.”
“For the time being, a career consultation.”
She knew. He wouldn’t answer even if she asked, so she was fine accepting that response. However.
“… Um, you know, I’ve only just become a second year and…”
“What are you talking about? This is a vital problem that will influence your future. There’s nothing lost in finalizing it up as early as possible…”
If it’s so important, shouldn’t you think long and hard before deciding? Elsewhere from Suzuran’s train of thought, the jubilant man spread a document over the long table.
‘Iori Obliterating Industries Employment Contract’
“Uwah… you’re already making an offer?”
“What are you talking about? You’ve already undergone the interview and job training. All that’s left is this paperwork… oh, don’t worry about the seal. I’d much prefer it if I could get a thumbprint.”
“Uh-huh.”
“Now just prick your finger a bit with this utility knife. Then we can put this whole contract thing behind us.”
A few of those words raised alarm bells in Suzuran’s head.
“… Um, you know. What is this strangely sinister-looking border around the print box?”
“Oh, that? There’s this old curse that’s been passed down in Europe and…”
Tik, tak, Takase tapped his finger against it.
“Hey, does it really matter?”
“Yes it does!! And wait, who the hell would enter your company!? In the first place, what’s up with, ‘The employee is not allowed to voice any dissatisfaction regarding job matters, or any injury or death that arises therein’ and ‘There is nothing stopping the employee from referring to the employer as Master’!?”
Poking at the contract with enough force she might pierce through the desk, Suzuran cried out.
“Go back!! Go back to the world of darkness!! I’m going to spend a life clad in peace and happiness with my mother!!”
“Hmhmm? That so. So you’re a student who’ll take that tone with your teacher?”
Suzuran gulped. She felt a tinge of anxiety as he went out of his way to emphasize his standing in all this.
“Dear me, in that case, as your assistant teacher… I would be forced to dish out quite the evaluation.”
Takase grinned, but… the level-headed part of Suzuran’s head reassured her.
Teacher and student.
“Mr. Takase. Do you know about the Board of Education?”
“Hmm, are you taking me for a fool?”
“Eheheeh. Then you know what I’m getting at. Corporal punishment and violence, among many other forms of unfair treatment, are strictly forbidden… try anything, and I’ll sue you on the spot!”
Naturally, if it came to that, he would receive a considerable penalty. Worst case, he could be dismissed. This wasn’t the world of darkness. It was the common rabble, on top of that, within the special system of a school.
With his initiative snatched away, he stopped grinning. He put a hand to his chin in thought.
(… Now he can’t do anything too crazy.)
But Suzuran’s piece of mind lasted only a moment.
“I see. So… do you have any dirt on this prefecture’s Board of Education’s chairman?”
“Huh… well no…?”
“Then do you have any friends in the ministry of education?”
“Umm… not really…”
“Then don’t tell me, you’re a high school girl, yet you’re personally acquainted with the Prime Minister of Japan?”
“… No.”
I see, Takase nodded.
“And about that self-destruct device that’s still in your body…”
“Wha!? What’s that, this is the first I’m hearing of it!!”
“Mn? Ooh… that’s right. Then let’s have that one be a joke.”
“What do you mean then!? You’re serious, right!? That’s seriously a joke, right!?”
As he formed a poker face, Suzuran latched onto him.
“Ha ha ha. This is a wonderful company, you know?”
“Don’t dodge the question!!”

 

 

Evading the contract somehow or another, Suzuran trudged her way back to the classroom. Only a few minutes into the first day, and she was already ragged. She had to wonder what would become of her high school life. A sidelong glance at the sakura tree that had dropped half its flowers already, Suzuran kept down the hall when,
“Suzuran, you traitor!”
“Geheh!?”
A surprise attack from behind had her thrust into the corridor wall. When she endured the pain and turned, a girl with her long hair done in twin tails with pink ribbon glared fixedly at her through her pink-framed fake glasses.
It was her best friend since she enrolled here, Takagi Yoshiko.
“Wha… what are you doing, Kakko!?”
“After leaving me to the wayside, what were you doing alone with the new teacher in the art room!?”
(Uwah… is that how it looked?)
As Kakko dauntingly put a hand to her waist, Suzuran’s expression clouded over. A teacher had called her out on the very first day of his appointment, so perhaps this was inevitable.
“No, but Kakko… you weren’t even in homeroom, were you? Weren’t you late? How did you find out?”
“I heard it in class whether I wanted to or not. Ufufufu.”
All of a sudden, Kakko bent her body back and forth.
“Teacher… please paint me like one of your French girls…”
“Wha. Wha- wha…!?”
Imagining that scene for even a second, Suzuran was at a complete loss for words.
“That’s not it?”
This time, she seemed to be displeased with something. She stuck out her mouth.
“Kakko… that’s not very funny…”
“I thought it was. It got a laugh when I did it in the staff room…”
“Christ, TPO, girl!”
This was the reason that instead of “Takagi Yoshiko,” she was more prone to being called “Kagi Kakko”. Whatever the case, she was cheery to the core, always busy with something to say.
(Translator Note: This is alternative reading to her name that pretty much means quotation mark, parenthesis, “()”.)
“But it’s gotta be strange, being summoned first day. Serious talk, how are you two related?”
Another sudden change from Kakko, she closed in with mischievous cat-like eyes. Suzuran was pinned to the wall, she had no choice but to answer.
“He’s… a relative.”
“Suzuran, didn’t you say all your relatives were annihilated?”
“Wow. Annihilated?… it’s not like they’re dead.”
She just didn’t have anyone who would take parental authority. Albeit, it was true she wasn’t associated with any household close enough to call them a relative.
This girl, Kakko knew Suzuran was an abandoned child. Juggled around by blood and marriage connections, she had risen to high school with nothing but anxiety in her chest, yet she talked to her no different than she was doing now.
Whoah, that’s amazing, you’re totally a tragic heroine! That was the first thing Kakko cried out when she revealed her backstory. Suzuran was quite taken aback by that one. Up to then, it was obvious whoever she told that to would handle her as if prodding a tumor. Otherwise, with disdain or misgivings, arbitrarily imagining things she never did.
While she was a peculiar girl, she did know how the world worked. While she might tease Suzuran, she wouldn’t dare spread a rumor.
Perhaps it was because she always had the bustling Kakko by her side that Suzuran was able to make it through her first year without any particular backbiting. No, compared to elementary and middle school, it was far more enjoyable. So she was her best friend.
“On that note, Suzuran, are you getting along with your mother?”
“Yeah, we’re really close. Ah, that’s right. Do you want to come over today?”
“Sorry, I’ve got stuff to do … wait, we’re gonna be late! All because you were acting shady!”
The bell to signal the end of break time chimed out.
“I-it’s my fault!?”
“You got that right. You know the drill, next crepe’s on you. Later!”
With a large wave of her hand, Kakko raced off.
If this was the first day, she feared what was to come… she was hit with a sensation as if a storm had passed. Suzuran exhaustedly slumped her shoulders.
(No wait, I have to get to the classroom too. Don’t just leave me behind, Kakko…)
It happened just as the swaying twin tails of Kakko’s back disappeared around the corner.
“Oh, there you are.”
With a voice from behind, Suzuran was apparently spotted as an arm was wrapped round her shoulder.
“Huh?”
A look to the side heralded a face she recognized but wasn’t very acquainted with. It would be hard to find a student in school who didn’t know the chairman’s granddaughter. If her memory served right, her name was Hida Makoto or something.
Perfectly straight, short black hair, she wore gently-curving frameless glasses. A rather charming young girl with an intellectual– and mature impression.
“Umm… Hida-senpai?”
“You can call me Makoto.”
“Uh-huh. Then Makoto-senpai. Did you need something?”
“My grandpa… on a little errand from the chairman. Says we need to talk about your scholarship. Could you come with me?”
This was a private academy. What’s more, it was a tried and true young-master-young-mistress school populated with nothing but the children of doctors and lawyers. An orphan up to a little while ago, Suzuran was only able to enroll with a recommendation and entrance exam for the track team, along with the school’s generous scholarship program. Meaning the scholarship was the lifeline of her academic career. She had no choice but to follow along.
“Something about your mother being found.”
“U-uh-huh.”
Oh, I see. With that taken into consideration, this was the start of the new term. While mom did say she filled out the paperwork, this must be a rare special exception… maybe there was some sort of problem. Or so Suzuran easily accepted it, and with Makoto still linked to her shoulder, she let herself be dragged behind her.
“… H-huh? Umm, isn’t the chairman’s room…”
“Yeaah, no worries, it’s fine, it’s fine.”
At some point, Makoto’s arm had grown considerably strong. Suzuran felt like she was being yanked on a leash.
“Eh? Huh? That was the staff room we just…”
“Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it ♪.”
She said as she finally arrived before the completely desolate gymnasium. Crossing through that as well, her final destination was the gym storage.
“U-umm!? Umm!?”
“It’s not scary, it’s not scary…♪”
No, excuse me, that soft song and smile were ridiculously scary. Rather, Makoto’s arm was already exhibiting strength close to a headlock.
“Urgh… Makoto-sen…my neck… uncle, uncle…!”
“There’s nothing scary, nothing at all…!”
I’m scared! By the time she thought that, Suzuran was stuffed into the dark gym storage.

 

 

Hasebe Shouki: A high school student by all appearances. However, he also possessed another face as the chosen hero of the Sacred Assembly. He had to sew fighting monsters and disciplining villains into his student life, making him considerably busy.
On that day, having been grinding experience points until dawn, Shouki made for the new classroom indicated by the bulletin in the entry hall, drowsily hauling his beaten body up the stairs.
(Late on the first day… I went and did it…)
His head was still ridden with bedhead, no intensity in his usually-dignified black eyes. As always, the hero fought a hard struggle with the demon known as sleep—
“Oh if it isn’t my little Hasebe.”
“Ugeh!?”
His drowsiness was blown away.
(So early in the morning… and I had to run into her…!)
There were three people in the world Shouki couldn’t deal with. Iori Takase, his own sister… and the granddaughter of the chairman, this school’s shadow dictator, Hida Makoto.
Indeed, the very same short-haired bespectacled girl lording over him from the stairway landing.
“D… do you need something, Makoto?”
“Why of course I do. Hey, hey, Hasebe, are you free right now?”
“Urp…?”
Shouki broke into a cold sweat. When she said “Hasebeee” or, “I have a little favor to ask you” in that wonderful smile, he would generally be roped into something that was no joking matter. He had learned this the hard way.
“Haha… what are you talking about… there’s no way I’m free. We’ve both got class.”
“Oh what’s this? You’re going to say that after showing up late?”
Makoto said with a provocative smile, her arm’s crossed. Shouki climbed the stairs, undauntedly touching a hand to his hip as he responded.
“Yeah, you said it. In my second year, I barely made the bare minimum attendance. I’ve got to attend class when I can.”
This time, hmmmm, Makoto gave a profound smile.
“The hero must have it hard. While you’re at it… why not just drop out and give that job your undivided attention?”
“What… did you say?”
“If I go asking grandpa, it’ll be over in a snap, just a snap. But, well, you know how it is. You can see it the other way… if he’ll listen, I can also make it so you can graduate without attending a single class.”
Upturned eyes, and from outside her glasses, a bewitching wink that had his heart skip a beat. Outrageous. She’s an outrageous girl no matter how many times I meet her, Shouki thought.
Outwardly, she carried herself despotically as the chairman’s granddaughter, but it wasn’t just selfishness. She was a genius who had apparently never scored below a ninety-five on any test. What’s more, from the third world’s point of view, she was the head of an organization at her age… She was the director of the Kantou Agency, Japan’s leading anti-demon force.
A true capable woman.
“So are you free? Oh what am I saying, of course you have some time for me. You make me so happy.”
“Oy, wait a second… I never said a word about…”
“No worries, no worries♪.”
Makoto embraced his arm as if she were his lover, and Shouki was reluctantly brought down the stairs he had only just climbed.
“Where are we going…”
“The gym storage room♪.”
The reason Shouki didn’t forcefully remove her had absolutely nothing to do with the sensation on his upper arm being far more enticing than expected. The thought of the gym storage that no one ever visited didn’t cross his mind in the slightest.
Definitely not.

 

 

“……”
Shouki and Suzuran stood in a daze.
This was an appropriate reaction. For the newly appointed part-time art teacher… who was actually the head of one of the four houses feared as godslayers, Iori Takase had been bound with rope and gag and tossed out onto the mat.
Makoto never thought he would be apprehended so easily. Was Kikuhito skilled, or Takase a no good… considering her future, she hoped it wasn’t the later.
Kikuhito, with his on-the-job cold expression, sat atop the vaulting bog with a pistol in one hand. Perhaps Takase was wary of it, as he made himself meek without so much as a groan.
“… And for some reason, this E0 here has no memory. Can’t really use him if he doesn’t remember anything, so the plan is to somehow bring it back.”
Upon hearing Makoto’s story, Shouki scratched his temple hard and loudly.
“No, I get… where you’re going with this. But why is this bastard here?”
“It’s gotta be Suzuran, Suzuran. She’s a Demon Lord candidate and the Sacred Priestess, right? Then anyone would want her. I’d love to have her too.”
As Makoto snuggled up with a coaxing voice, Suzuran retreated to hide behind Shouki’s back. It was considerably cute.
“Umm, Makoto-senpai, even if you say you want to have me, I’m not a thing so… anyway, Hasebe-senpai. Master went out of his way to infiltrate this school as a teacher, and tried forcing me into his company with a career consultation.”
“Tried? He already did…?
Shouki turned to Suzuran on his back.
“Last break time. I already have a pending offer, apparently. But Makoto-senpai, why do you know about the demon lord candidate part…?”
“Why, you ask? That’s because I’m a person of the third world. Director of the Kantou Agency, Hida Makoto.”
What? From how she tilted her head, she was sorely lacking in the prerequisite knowledge. Shouki stepped in.
“No, well… there are places like that, Nagoyakawa. They get rid of monsters… something like the government version of the Sacred Assembly.”
“Uh-huh.”
Suzuran gave a lukewarm response. While that was going on, Takase rubbed his gag against the ground to free up his mouth.
“Ptwey… I stay silent for one minute, and you blab on with such drivel! Now, Suzuran, if you’re scared of what’s to come, then undo these restraints and free me this instant!”
Suzuran’s hair stood on end, she mechanically replied with a yes. But there, Makoto stood in her way. Placing a hand on Suzuran’s slender shoulder, she whispered.
“Hey, Suzuran. Don’t you think your mother would be sad if you had to drop out?”
“Heh!?”
“Yours is a fatherless family, right? Attending our school without a scholarship… might be a little too expensive.”
“When you said we had to discuss my scholarship… don’t tell me!? Heh?”
Bullseye. Makoto erased her smile and gave the cinching line with a straight face.
“Suzuran! I’ll happily foot such a paltry sum! No, what good do you think an education will do you in the current economy? Just come work for me! That was my intent when I came all the way here.”
“You don’t want to say goodbye to all your friends and teachers, do you?”
“A… uu…”
Nervous, speechless. Not even knowing where she could seek help, Suzuran fidgeted left and right.
“You know that math class you’re not so great at? Inflating your grades… is within the realm of possibility.”
“N-no way! That’s cheating! Definitely not!”
“Then you’ll just have to flunk everything.”
“Makoto-senpai, I’ll follow you for life…!”
Alright, I win. Embracing Suzuran as she clung to her in tears, Makoto clenched her fist. Shouki’s sense of justice as a hero had him clutching his head.
“W… what an… unsightly battle…!”
“And what about you, my dear Hasebe?”
“Yeah… I’ve got no obligation to help Iori, after all. So what exactly do you want us to do?”
“Let’s see. First, we’ll go to his place and see if there’s anything that could serve as a clue. Worst case scenario, even if this guy’s not E0, he’s still from a godslaying house, right? It would be nice if there were some sacred treasures or wonderful items lying around.”
“What would be nice, Makoto… sacred treasures… I highly doubt you’ll find any of the assembly’s divine artifacts lying around that one’s house.”
“But there are some at yours, right? Just being optimistic here.”
Completely left out of the conversation… rather, cowering from Takase’s eyes and everything else, Suzuran knew that was the least of her worries as Makoto tapped her on the shoulder.
“That’s how it is. Suzuran, you lead the way, and Hasebe will be the bodyguard.”
“Huh…? But I don’t really know where…”
“Your mother will be delighted when your scholarship increases, won’t she!”
“Yes, Makoto-senpai!”
As Suzuran’s eyes finally started to glisten, Makoto smiled smugly inside. When using the carrot and the stick, make sure to use the carrot last, and you won’t have to worry about repercussions.
“But Makoto… what’s the reason you have to go so far to get this E0 guy? No, seeing how you brought up sacred treasures, do you need strength…?”
The moment she heard that, the Demon Belronde and the committee members who chided her as powerless crossed her mind. The insane current situation, where an anti-demon association was commandeered by their archnemesis, a demon. The mad face that demon was the one who killed her father.
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you for now. This is my problem… it’s something I have to resolve on my own.”
“Then why the hell are you dragging us ingobph!?”
Shouki’s solar plexus took a blow from Makoto’s knee.
“I could never bear to cause trouble to everyone! Did you get that, Hasebe!?”
“G-got it… hac. If it’s going to be even more troublesome than this… you don’t have to say… no, I don’t want to hear it.”
Makoto happily nodded to the honest hero. Seeing Takase fail to put in the slightest resistance, Kikuhito let out voice half of boredom.
“Director. If you’re done discussing, isn’t it about time we headed off?”
“You’re right. But before that… we’ve got to pick up this teacher’s little apprentice.”

 

 

Following the recent trend, Kaiei High School had its own computer room.
“Eeeeh. She’s cute… an elementary schooler? Who is she?”
“Remember that art teacher who studied abroad in Italy? I hear she’s his apprentice.”
“Seriously? Does that mean she’s a genius?”
Hmph. Those cowards are all gossiping about me again…
Disregarding the truth of that statement, the one brushing off the rumors as she walked down the hall was a small girl with bluish-black hair. Her name was Ripple-Rapple.
The girl showed no shame as she barged into the computer room at her own steady pace. She bore a lovable appearance of around five or six. Not a single soul suspected a thing.
Rather, on the first day of the new term, there was no one in that room meant for specialized classes. It was break time, so at most, she passed a few students in the hall.
“This teaching facility… free, unmetered connection. Good place to kill time…”
Ripple-Rapple expressionlessly nodded to herself. She situated herself in a chair like a vagrant worker in a strange land… of course, her feet didn’t reach the floor… she flipped it on. She must have learned it somewhere, as she navigated the homepage with well-trained hands.
“Curled up puppy picture, captured. Purse with cat head sticking out, pretty…”
Click, she operated the mouse as she fished through the screen. A young girl in a high school for some reason, and given what she was looking at, a few girls wandered in from the hallway to have a look.
“Oh, how cute.”
“And what’s that, how about that?”
“That cat is…”
“Well… calm down. You’ll all get your… turn.”
She somberly stated like an old-handed gigolo as she scrolled through animal pictures but… all of a sudden, her movements stopped. At the sheer shock.
“……”
Why. How could it be, that in a teaching facility, this page wasn’t blocked…! Right, oddly enough, what Ripple-Rapple reached was a world of gray endlessly close to black.
“What’s wrong?”
“Keep going, c’mon.”
The innocent young girls watching along. With all of them behind her, Ripple-Rapple’s finger hesitated… no, it was her heart.
To think that a virtuous heart to waver over such a thing still remained within her… Ripple-Rapple even felt a little surprised. She even felt pity at these young girl’s pure innocence.
She slowly double-clicked.
“Ah, they’re called clione.”
“Oh, show me, show me, a sea angel, right?”
Good grief. Then look all you want.
“… Yes, watch. Here is the truth the Okhotsk Tourist Association keeps hidden away.”
Playback. ‘Clione Predation Activity’.
— A few seconds later.
“KYAAAAAAAAAAAAH!?”
That’s why I warned you. There are some things in this world better left unknown… Since I’m already here, shall I show them the horrors of the sea worm and planaria; it happened the moment her heart was taken by a sadistic impulse.
With a tug, Ripple-Rapple’s collar was hoisted up. Like a mother cat holding its kitten in her mouth.
“Yes, yes, don’t cause me any trouble.”
When the thrashing Ripple-Rapple turned around, a female student with short hair looked down on her triumphantly from behind her glasses.
The many girls were already gone. The bell had rung a moment ago.
“Ah, you’re really here, Ripple-Rapple.”
Suzuran said, arriving a step behind.
“It’s been a while.”
“Suzuran… long time no…”
She was about to say when, non, non, she shook her head. That was dangerous. What a sly leading question. To think these scoundrels would utilize someone who knew her to unmask her identity.
“I am… Takase Iori’s disciple… right… Ripple-Rapple from Italia. Wrong person.”
“Oh, that’s amazing. Then could you tell me something in Italian? How about it?”
That unexpected response from the girl in glasses caused Ripple-Rapple’s eyes to widen blankly.
“… Can’t speak… Italian.”
“Huh? But didn’t you say you came from Italy?”
“Well… that is correct.”
She nodded twice.
“Then of course, you have to be able to speak Italian.”
“… That sounds plausible.”
Nod, nod.
“Then… ready, set,”
“It’s Mu… Mussolini…”
“Anything else?”
With the glasses girl closing in on her, she impatiently moved her mouth, stiltedly swinging her arms. Don’t tell me they found me out this quickly? No, think. There’s always a chance lying in wait somewhere. Everything but your life is a chip to bet, and until that last moment…!
After thinking it through thoroughly, Ripple-Rapple made her resolve and looked at Suzuran.
“It’s a bother…”
“Yeah…”
That was it.

 

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