Kohaku had an astonished expression on her face while inside Karina’s mansion. The face illuminated by the flash light from the phone was like she was in some horror movie.
Just as she was surprised, Taiyou was also surprised.
「Is it that unusual…..? eh, was it that unusual?」
Eternally Little, also known as the leftover old maids. To people like us, giving birth to our own children is an exceedingly rare case jya」
「Umm, what was it again? The ratio of Eternally Little who got married is one in ten, and the people who didn’t get divorced and actually had children is a further one-tenth of that, right?」
Aoba spoke from the side as if to confirm the facts. She was not there in the past when they had this sort of conversation, so her being able to say this right now made Taiyou astonished.
「You seem to know a lot about this, or more like even I didn’t know about the second part you mentioned.」
「I investigated it for a bit. I wanted to quickly get along with everyone else, so I…」
Taiyou nods and Kohaku who still hadn’t gotten over the shock of it replied.
「That’s right jya, to add to that the ratio of Eternally Little born is at a rate of one person in 500,000. Do you know what this means?」
「…… This means that there are probably only one or two at most in Japan at a time?」
After a short interval, Taiyou and Aoba looked at the album at the same time with a surprised face. If they cross referenced it with the statistics up until now, there wasn’t any eternally little that could possibly have a baby, it was a hopeless to consider.
It can be assumed this this woman in the album was the only one. As this was the case, it was natural for Kohaku to be so amazed.
「However with this, it all makes sense, as an eternally little mother, she was not able to go outside and mingle in the presence of other people.」
Kohaku was convinced after looking at the album and then makes a proposal to Taiyou.
「Danna-sama, let’s search a little more. I want some more detailed information.」
「Yeah, I also thought the same.」
「I will help out!」
Taiyou nods solemnly and Aoba releases Taiyou’s arm which she was clinging to. The three people regained their composure and began to search the residence again.
They searched each of the rooms while relying on the light shone by their smartphones.
「Natsuno-kun! Look over here!」
In the third room they passed since obtaining the album, Aoba shouted out in a cheery voice as she found a cover with the title “Diary” on the top. When they turned over the cover, they knew that the contents matched the title.
Since coming to this place, all the events were recorded on the white paper with neat handwriting. It wasn’t the type of diary that one wrote in every single day, it was more of the diary that you wrote when there was something important going on.
The three people read the diary carefully. There was recounts of events from all the four seasons. When reading such a diary where the two people clearly held deep emotions for each other, a really vivid image appears of what they lived like.
Just like a brilliant novel, this diary made them engrossed in the story. Before they noticed it, the three people had read through the end.
The diary cut off this Spring. Karina was bound to her sickbed and the last letters were written shakily as she expressed her concern for Pochi’s future.
After the three people finished reading, all three of them couldn’t help but to sigh.
After a while, Taiyou was the first to open his mouth.
「If this diary wrote the facts of the matter, there are somethings that I now understand.」
「Yes, Pochi is the real daughter of Karina-san and she was loved. Karina is one of the Eternally Little and she realized that her life was nearing it’s end during Spring, now she has probably already passed away.」
「And one more thing.」
「Her naming sense is the worst, jyana?」
The three of them smiled bitterly at Kohaku’s words.
This was their shared view after reading the diary. Karina undoubtedly loved Pochi with all her heart, it was to the point of doting on her. From the way she wrote, it clearly depicted that she thought “Pochi” was the best name ever.
It wasn’t anything nasty or something meant as a joke, she genuinely thought that it was the best name. Considering all of this, the three of doubt could not help but to doubt her naming sense.
「Even so, why did she have to live hidden in this kind of place? Why didn’t she register Pochi’s birth?」
Taiyou riffled through the diary.
「That’s true jya, there is nothing that alludes to this point. Neither is there any information on the father.」
「There must be some more clues? let’s look for a bit more.」
At Taiyou’s suggestion they started searching again.
They looked all over the rooms. Since they obtained information that Karina was in fact an Eternally Little, all the rooms which supposedly resembled kids rooms were now distinguishable between Pochi’s room and Karina’s room.
They understood this because it was clear that Karina really cherished Pochi. Her room was filled with the basic daily necessities but Pochi’s room would have toys and other entertainment goods within the room.
But with that alone, even if they went into all the rooms, they weren’t able to gain any additional information.
In such a case, there was no longer any need for them to remain in the residence. This time, they wanted to hear the story directly from Pochi.
As soon as he left the residence, Taiyou caught something out of the corner of his sight.
Seeing that he took a glance at Kohaku. After knowing that Karina was an Eternally Little, Kohaku had a grim expression. Although it’s not to the extent that she was depressed, ever since entering the residence, the level of tension has increased.
Seeing her like this, Taiyou said this to her.
「Let’s go for a drive.」
「W-What are you saying Natsuno-kun?」
「Wait a moment.」
Saying this Taiyou heads towards the storage room where he first found Pochi. There was one of these bike trailers left behind.
「You mean on top of this?」
「Yes, let’s drive with this.」
「…..I understand. It looks kinda interesting jya.」
「Hey you too, Aoba.」
Aoba was at a loss and Kohaku became slack jawed. Taiyou beckoned them to hop on the trailer and he started pulling the trailer forwards with all his strength.
As they journeyed onward, Taiyou’s trailer was approaching its upper speed limit. The trailer was moving fast along the wind and Kohaku was in a good mood whereas Aoba gradually enjoyed it more. Overtaking some young people that was riding on a bicycle and leaving them in the dust made the two girls giggle and smile at the ridiculous sight.
Looking back behind him to see the bright faces of the girl and Kohaku who seemed to have regained her composure, Taiyou thought that it was well worth it to do these stupid things.
Kohaku was really enjoying the trip. Along the way, they needed to contact Kotone to confirm their location and Kohaku was bragging full on about how fun it was to go on the trailer and get driven around by Taiyou. This caused the three sisters to feel very jealous of them.
Hearing about the location via the phone, they arrived in due time and stopped the trailer right in front of Pochi. The two girls who got off from the trailer’s platform stood in front of Pochi.
After loosening his grip of the handle he also headed towards Pochi. Just as he was thinking of what to say.
Before he could even open his mouth, Pochi suddenly jumped over to hug Kohaku. Calling the un-aging girl “Master” and smelling her with a *sniff sniff*. If this happened several hours ago, they wouldn’t know what to make of it but after knowing Karina’s true identity and reading her diary, he had a semblance of what was going on.
Apparently Pochi is associating the smell of an Eternally Little person to her “Master”. The reason she followed Taiyou in the first place and also the reason she let her guard down in front of the three sisters is because there was a lingering scent from Kohaku.
Pochi clings herself to Kohaku and Kohaku responds by embracing her in a soothing manner.
For the time being, Taiyou left the two to their own devices as he made his way closer towards Shirokiyami who was standing a little distance away.
She was thanked and she responds to him quietly whilst staring at him with her boundless gaze.
「It wasn’t…… a big deal. it’s only to the extent of a night’s lodging and… a meal. I’m only…. returning the favour.」
「That latter half is quite funny when said in Japanese.」
「That’s why…… you should quickly return the debt.」
「Let’s continue the conversation then. Well in any case. Just how much was left of it again? If I remember correctly I just returned around 10 million before this so it should have decreased by a large amount」
Shirokiyami looks doubtful as she stares blankly.
「Don’t you remember?!」
「I remember…… there is, 10 million left.」
「How can that be possible?! No matter how you calculate it after the last payment, there should only be a little left over you know?!」
「I’ve included the…… interest.」
「That’s just extortion I tell you! And really sloppy accounting I’m telling you!」
「Togo also did…. the same」1
「You are really wicked! You are even worse than that person!」2
「I’m just kidding…. After including the interest, it’s fine to just pay 2 million more.」
「Well that seems more reasonable.」
The figure she came up with was still really just a rough estimate, but because Taiyou also thought that it was around that amount he consented to it.
After settling the negotiations with Shirokiyami he was looking back towards Kohaku and the others when Taiyou realized something.
The place where Shirokiyami was standing at didn’t have much light and behind her was a forest. He recalled that last night a typhoon passed by. Shirokiyami was clearly pretending back then to put on a brave front. For a moment he thought that perhaps he could use this to his advantage in order to defeat her.
「The other day…. I saw this movie.」
Suddenly Shirokiyami speaks out of context. Taiyou was wondering where this was going as he stared at her in puzzlement.
「A robot movie, the robot is aggressive…… After it wakes up it opens its mouth wide and becomes ferocious. Swallowing up everyone in the surroundings…… it becomes a slaughter machine.」
「Ah, I may have seen that one as well. Or more like, isn’t that one of the famous masterpieces? What about it ?」
「If someone….. did something I didn’t like…. I may also become like that.」
In that instant, Taiyou’s backbone freezes as he experienced a shudder. Almost like someone just put a really cold ice cube against his back, his whole body was frozen in place.
For a moment he was ready for death. Such terror was wrapping across his whole body.
The sense of shock paralyzed him. It was only a few seconds after that he realized that this was killing intent.
When he noticed it his fear was quickly suppressed.
「Do you hate it that much?!」
「What do you, mean?」
Shirokiyami was playing dumb. After releasing so much killing intent she was still able to play it off that easily. Taiyou could only be amazed.
「Ah yes yes, it’s nothing! I won’t touch your reverse-scale again alright?!」
「Yeah, you can’t touch…… a persons reverse-scale. No matter who, it is.」
While interacting like so, Pochi’s state of mind had calmed down by a lot, she was whispering to the old-young girl about something. Because he wanted to ask them something, he naturally came closer to the two of them.
Realizing this Kohaku grabbed Pochi by the hand and pushed her back towards Taiyou’s direction.
「Go on, you can say it jya.」
「Then, shall I say it on your behalf?」
「Eh, that is…..」
Although Pochi hesitates for a while, she soon shook her head clear.
「No, I will say it by myself.」
「Umu, do your best jya.」
Pochi being sent off by Kohaku, turned to face Taiyou. She stood within touching distance of him before taking a huge breath. Before long she became determined.
「Goshujin-sama! Please keep me!」
「For the time being, I’m going to ask Kohaku for an explanation…」
After calming himself down, Taiyou turned to ask Kohaku as he had no idea what had just occurred.