What is God? Who is God? What kind of phenomena is God?
These are questions with a myriad of answers. But to someone, they might be definite questions with definite answers. It could be zero, one, or a hundred. There are as many answers as there are stars above, as many as there are people on this planet, if not more. But these are the types of questions with no right answers. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the correct answer could only be found within oneself. God can take countless different forms depending on one’s beliefs.
Ultimately, God is a personal concept.
As such, summoning a god is nothing but a battle against oneself.
You fight against yourself. That is the duty and mantra imposed on humanity.
The struggle against one’s self is a fate that humans, as creatures with thought, cannot escape from. In the eyes of a beast that lives solely by instinct, a battle in one own’s mind might seem comical. It is a most pointless endeavor in the fight for survival and propagation of the species. But we continue to search for answers, believing that this struggle is necessary in order to live as human beings.
I think, therefore I am.
I think, therefore gods exists.
By transcending one’s self we finally meet gods. We must hone our preconceived notions to the utmost limit, discern the form of gods, and then summon it. Creating a god is the same as removing the soul from one’s own body. A person without faith can only see gods in the realm of madness. Would it have been different if I had my own god? Would I have been able to discern the form of my god more easily? Or as an insignificant human being, would I have been lost in the same path, whether or not I had faith? Either way, if I am to transcend humanity as a mere human being, I need help. Only the conceited would think that they could achieve this alone.
I will summon a god.
For that, I must stand above the gods.
Hence, I need Mayuzumi Azaka.
As a tool to surpass the divine.
I put instant coffee in some hot water and stirred it. I usually prefer my coffee black, but since I had some extra milk, I poured it in as well. Staring at the swirling of black and white, I let out a sigh. I lifted my gaze and saw Mayuzumi sprawled out on the sofa as usual. Looking around the small room, I sipped my coffee. Cheap bitterness spread over my tongue. I savored the flavor that I had not tasted in a while, but I couldn’t suppress the headache.
False tranquility is not something to be appreciated.
Mayuzumi Psychic Detective Agency. The air-conditioned room as always lacked realism. But the sensation was duller than usual. I focused my gaze on the figure in a gothic lolita outfit sprawled out on the sofa. Her skirt, with layers of laces and ribbons on the side, was something I had never seen before. Her blouse was also new, with a butterfly-shaped corsage adorning the neck along with a gorgeous ruffle. Her wardrobe was increasing without my knowledge. When did she buy it? I wondered. Her doll-like appearance was terribly surreal, but even that seemed normal now. All because of what I saw the other day.
A battle between dragons and tigers can only be found in fairy tales.
Picturing the epic scene, I asked, “Mayu-san, shouldn’t we have stayed?”
“You’re still on that? There’s no point in thinking about it.” Mayuzumi shrugged. “We’re already back.”
Still lying down, she felt around the top of the table. Her fingers fumbled inside a small box and she snatched something. A bright golden orange fruit. Unusual, I thought, but a closer look revealed that half of it was covered in chocolate. It seemed to be a confection of fruit confit coated with chocolate. Mayuzumi popped it into her mouth and licked her lips.
I thought back to the events of the other day.
The defector disappeared, leaving a trail of blood. Many of the members of the Minase clan had been gravely injured. While they were recovering the dead bodies and treating the wounded, Mayuzumi suddenly said:
“I’ve had enough. Let’s go home, Odagiri-kun.”
“I can’t believe we just left like that!”
“It sure takes a whole lot to convince you. I’ll give you a proper reason, then. The Minase clan was exhausted as a result of the all-out war. What’s more, only the clan is capable of fighting the defector. Which means there is no benefit in staying. The possibility of the wounded becoming a liability is greater. For example, Odagiri-kun, suppose you were injured while defending me.”
I recalled how Mayuzumi once used me as a shield to block a knife.
Mayuzumi’s lips lifted, and she pointed at my belly. “Can the demon inside you avoid a person lying in front of you? Wouldn’t she devour everyone if you were hurt?”
I had heard similar words before. I bit my lip, unable to argue back.
“And another thing, Odagiri-kun,” she continued. “The defector created that many creatures and suffered a serious injury. He will not be launching a direct assault for a while. And I don’t want to stay in that house for so long. It’s suffocating.”
I pictured the bizarre room filled with white walls. This office, with its constant aroma of chocolate, was just as odd. But I kept the thoughts to myself. Raising an objection was futile, I was sure. I swallowed my discontent and approached the sofa across from Mayuzumi. Irritated, I raised my foot and swung it down.
Yuusuke squealed, crushed underneath my foot.
“Get out of there. Shoo. Why are you even here?”
“Kicking someone out of nowhere is just mean. I have a back injury. That’s a little too far.”
“Why don’t you go home before you hurt yourself even more? Get off the couch.”
“Don’t kick me down, you jerk! Stop, please! I’ll sit down properly.”
“Don’t sit down. Go home.”
Ignoring my words, Yuusuke sat back down on the edge of the sofa. He was currently a self-proclaimed injured man. When we heard his scream back at the Minase household, Yuusuke had encountered a flock of ravens and avoided danger by performing a wrestler’s bridge. He claimed to have injured his back in the process, but that was none of my business. He should recuperate in his own home, and not hang around just because he had nothing better to do.
Before I could say anything, a knock came at the door. I fell silent. Then the doorbell rang. It sounded hesitant.
Who in the world is it?
Sensing something odd, I picked up the intercom and asked who it was, but there was no answer. A knot formed in my gut. Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice.
That was all he said. His frightened gaze from the other day came to mind.
What is he doing here?
Feeling suspicious, I headed for the entrance. I opened the door, and my eyes widened.
The last person I expected to see was standing there.
She looked at me with eyes that betrayed a keen character. Her glossy black hair and pure white kimono were at odds with the hallway of the apartment. It was as if she lived in a different era.
The head of the Minase clan, Shirayuki Minase.
The boy we met before was standing behind her. For some reason, he was carrying a wrapping cloth on his back.
The knot grew tighter.
“Why are you—”
Here? I couldn’t bring myself to finish the question. Wearing a blank expression, the clan head passed by me and entered the apartment. There was no hesitation in her steps. The boy followed him, bowing several times. The clan head sauntered toward Mayuzumi and stopped in front of her.
Mayuzumi’s eyes widened for a moment, and she grinned like a cat.
A strange intensity swirled around the clan head.
I recalled the time when Mayuzumi said she was leaving. It was the clan head who opposed the idea and begged her to stay.
“Um, Lady Minase?” I called cautiously.
There was a snap. Without turning around, the clan head opened her fan behind her back and showed it to me. I ran my eyes over the words written on it.
“My name is Shirayuki. Please call me whatever you like.”