A stand-alone house covered under the veil of darkness. The chirping of summer insects and sound of water-filled bamboo sticks clacking against a stone rhythmically sounded in the background. Furthermore, there was a lovely sight to behold as many glamourous girls wearing yukata’s surrounded him.
Taiyou’s brides were all changed into yukatas. The three sisters were wearing three different colors of red, blue and yellow respectively. Aoba was wearing green and Kohaku was wearing a light blue yukata. It was a multi-colored arrangement and each of these girls had their own cute looking points. Since Taiyou left to change his clothes, the beautiful lady’s had been having a pleasant chat with each other.
On the other hand, Shirokiyami who was not part of his bride group wore her trade mark goth loli fashion clothing. Perhaps she really liked wearing these types of clothes, or perhaps she just disliked wearing a yukata, but ever since the girls came out of the hot spring, she remained in her usual style of clothing.
「Aren’t you going to change into a yukata?」
「I’m good…. for now」
「Is that so?」
While it was a small movement, Taiyou nodded his head. Although she wasn’t saying very many words, he was still able to understand what she wanted to say. Because all of his brides were wearing the yukata right now she didn’t want to wear it, if he wanted to force her to wear it Taiyou had to defeat her in combat, that’s the kind of thing she implied.
Hearing her words made Taiyou a little glad.
「Why are you……smiling?」
「Cause I’m happy.」
「Ahh, after all your words from before means that you are seriously considering my proposal, right? At the very least I understood it as you keeping your promise.」
「That’s true…. however.」
「I always say that to everyone I meet. If they want me….. they need to defeat me.」
「Is that so……」
Taiyou was slightly discouraged. Although it didn’t change the fact that he needed to beat her, hearing that any male could step up to the challenge made him feel a pang of loneliness for a moment.
Once again, she spoke in her peculiar manner in accordance with her unique breathing patterns. When he wonders what she was going to say next and looked at her, he couldn’t see the expression on her face as she was looking towards the garden.
「I wouldn’t…… go to the…… hot spring with just any one.」
「Is that true?」
「It’s only cause………. I don’t have to worry about being attacked.」
「Even if that’s the case, I’m happy.」
Even though she told him that she went along with him because she wasn’t afraid he would “attack” her, he still felt that this made him somewhat special as opposed to other men.
「Therefore, make sure…. you don’t misunderstand.」
「Yeah, I won’t.」
Taiyou shows a forced smile. Well the feeling that he was special was only a hunch he had after all. In order to be truly “special” in her eyes, Taiyou realized once again that he needed to be able to overpower her in combat. Remembering the show of strength, she showed previously, he noted that there will be plenty of future troubles for him to face.
(Well, I can only try my best)
Once again he strengthened the resolve in his own mind.
「Husband, just what are you doing standing over there jya? are you going to neglect your cute brides and flirt with another woman?」
「What were you speaking about with that person?」
Both Kohaku and Aoba came towards Taiyou. Unlike Kohaku who was talking to him in a jesting and playful manner, Aoba’s words were slightly mixed with jealously.
「Just a little something.」
「I don’t understand what you mean by a “little something” jya.」
「It’s about the fact that he wants to defeat me……. and viol….ate me one day.」
「No that’s just an exaggeration! And moreover, Kohaku-san why do you seem happy instead?!」
「Uuuuu….. to think that my husband would grow up into such a bold gentleman, I’m so happy that tears are coming out of my eyes jya.」
Kohaku was pretending to cry showing her crocodile tears.
「I’m telling you that your response is weird, moreover your response is not suited as a bride, it’s more like you are acting like some sort of delicate mother.」
「Hikaru Genji was one of the men who aimed for veteran beautiful girls so it kinda suits your role jya.」
「Please don’t try to force me into such a thing, moreover what is a veteran beautiful girl?」
「When a girl is 70 years of age and yet she is still beautiful, wouldn’t she be considered a veteran jya? Although, even if you were to play professional baseball until you were 50 years of age, you would still be considered a rookie.」
「I see, Kohaku-san is really at that age isn’t she?」
The newcomer Aoba shows a surprised face as she heard Kohaku’s age.
「That’s right, I’m the beautiful veteran girl Kohaku-tan jya」
Kohaku stuck out her chest and spoke out proudly.
「Kohaku-tan…… if by some chance I lose, will you come to help…?」
「If by some chance…」
Taiyou smiles bitterly.
「……….The chances are about, 1 to 1,000,000….? 」
「The probability fell! Or more like it fell way to much!」
「You can rely on me Yami, at that time I will be husbands assistant and make sure you thoroughly fall jya」1
「Eh? You will help Natsuno-kun?」
「Okay, I’m counting….on you.」
「Ehhhhhhhh? You’re also fine with that?」
Aoba was shocked and seeing this Taiyou sighed with relief as he thought “Ahh, now that’s a normal reaction”.
Taiyou went for a walk with Aoba. The inn within the mountains showed a different type of scene during the day and Aoba was looking here and there with curiosity.
On the other hand, Taiyou was not too interested in the scenery.
Ever since he left with her on the walk, Taiyou was only concentrating on Aoba who seemed dazzling to him. Although he was frequently looking at her, when their eyes were about to meet he would also look away. The thing making him worry so much was Aoba’s hand.
(I want to hold her hand)
It was a really junior high school like thought to have.
「This hot spring has quite the beautiful scenery within the mountains doesn’t it? Have you ever been here before Natsuno-kun?」
「No….. this is my first time here.」
「I see, this is also my first time. In the past I also went to a hot spring within the mountains along with my family and it was quite common for monkeys to appear. The monkeys were really friendly, look, it’s kind of like how there are pigeons in the park, they aren’t afraid of humans and they don’t attack us either.」
「Oh, I see.」
「They were extremely cute, and also we were able to buy some of the monkey food which was being sold from a nearby store.」
「You mean food like rice crackers?」
「Yeah, those kinds of snacks. Hmm, do you think some monkeys will appear in this mountain?」
Chiming in the conversation, he continued to walk together with her.
Taiyou wasn’t even the slightest bit interested in monkeys. The only thing in his mind right now was, how he was going to be able to connect his hands together with Aoba.
If he was just to ask her permission straightforwardly, although she may be embarrassed she would likely agree to such a request. If she was the three sisters or Kohaku, he probably wouldn’t have hesitated doing such a thing. The three sisters were also his classmates but since the beginning they had already confessed straight up to him. In Kohaku’s case the first time they met, they met with a kiss and then after that she always held goodwill towards him.
Comparing to the other girls, Aoba started off hating Taiyou. Since the time she left her home, furthermore, there was a period in their relationship that was worse than just being classmates and this continued for quite a long time before the settlement of her family issue.
Therefore, even though they had already confessed to each other saying they want to be together for a long time, there was still many things that Taiyou couldn’t say to her upfront.
(But that wouldn’t be good of me, right?)
Thinking that the hesitation was unnecessary he became determined.
「The thing is――」
「Geez! That again?」
Just when Taiyou was about to ask the question, he was interrupted by the hysteric voice of a woman from a long distance away. Because the girl spoke out with such a voice of indignation and anger it completely destroyed the atmosphere that Taiyou was setting up and Aoba’s attention was attracted to the scene.
「I wonder what’s wrong? Natsuno-kun, let’s go and take a look.」
Although he was discouraged by the fact that things did not proceed as planned, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to get a good mood again so quickly. Reluctantly he followed after Aoba.
The voice came from the direction of the inn. There was a large entryway and a Japanese style sliding paper-door that opened widely. On the inside of the room, there was multitudes of people in what appears to be a banquet.
Although there were some low tables lined up and all types of cooking on top of the tables, near one of the tables was a waitress with a resentful face looking down on the table.
「The customer….. Kohaku-sama. No, there’s nothing wrong.」
He was curious as to the unique way Kohaku’s name was called with the “sama” attached to the end of her name, but even more so, he was curious as to what was going on near that table. On top of the table, there was food lined up and only one person’s portion was eaten.
When he asked a question, the waitress answered him with a face of resignation.
「It was stolen.」
「What was stolen?」
「Yes, I was just going off to prepare for the cooking and when I took my eyes off for an instant, it was gone. Recently, this kind of thing occurs quite frequently.」
「You mean by some monkeys or something?」
「I don’t know, we never see who actually steals the food. But I don’t think it’s monkeys, if it was the food would also be scattered across the floor.」
「Certainly, it would be strange if they only purposefully took a person’s portion of food away.」
Looking at the state the table was in one more time, Taiyou was convinced it wasn’t a monkey. Just like he said, the only thing gone was a single person’s portion of food. The food right next to it wasn’t touched in the slightest, it was unlikely that any type of animal did this and it seemed like a person’s doing.
「Do you have any camera’s used as surveillance?」
「We regard the customers privacy highly, besides this inn doesn’t have such a thing installed in the premises because it may ruin the scenery….」
「Ahh, I see, so you don’t want to spoil the elegance of the building.」
This was something he could understand. If you knew the background of this place, this was an inn with nearly 100 years of history behind it. If they set up camera’s here and there to keep a close eye on the customers, it wouldn’t really reflect well on their inn’s reputation.
「I’m very sorry, I will go back to the kitchen and prepare another meal in a rush.」
After saying that the waitress rushes away with half a run. Taiyou was alternating looks between the dishes on the table and the waitress who left to the kitchen.
- Nef: Yami is a nickname for Shirokiyami, Yami=Darkness. Also the word fall in this context means fall to depravity type of context. ↩