Looking back with a start, she touched the shutter. It wasn’t of the typical light variety that made crashing sounds, but a product that you could tell had a heavy weight preventing it from even budging.
It had the outer appearance of a typical shutter, but had the imagery of thick steel plating.
In an instant, various thoughts rushed about dizzily in Youran’s head. She suddenly took out her cell phone, and just as expected・・・・she confirmed that it was out of range.
「I’ve either been entrapped, or they always do this to intruders.」
Youran thought that her actions would depend on that.
She briefly stood on the spot. She wanted to avoid making any bad moves and instead observe, but she couldn’t detect any changes after a minute.
With her means of escape cut off, all she could do was progress forward.
Regaining her composure, she looked in front of her. This was a passageway that continued from the entryway about twenty meters deep to the back, and the old fluorescent lamps were engendering an indefinable atmosphere.。
Putting caution to the max level and progressing slowly, there was an old elevator and staircase on either side at the back of the passageway.
She definitely couldn’t ride on an elevator in this abnormal situation, so Youran turned to the other entrance, and after confirming that the shutters were still closed, she went up the stairs.
She unintentionally let out a voice. Looking from outside, it was a six floor multi-tenant building, but the staircase actually ended at the second floor. Going up to the second floor and out into the passageway, she could see a long passageway stretching straight to the other side.
She could see the next staircase indistinctly ahead.
And there weren’t any windows.
Immediately, the composition in Youran’s head rose up. A huge spiral staircase that took up the entire building.
「This was made as a countermeasure for attacks, wasn’t it…wow……」
It was a sight enough to make her unintentionally moan.
If the staircase went all the way up to the top, then the people who entered the building would be able to dash all the way up to the top. But with this setup, having to go to the other side of the building every time you climbed up the stairs to reach the next staircase was enough in itself to extend the travelling distance to enable the gaining of time in many ways.
It goes without saying that a typical building would not find any need whatsoever to do that, since it’s inconvenient.
But inconvenience would turn the situation around when the time was right. When an outside enemy came, you could buy time.
She recognized yet another thing.
The area around the elevator seen on the first floor was a complete wall.
Whether it didn’t stop on the second floor or whether the elevator itself was a dummy, she wasn’t sure.
But what she was sure of was the shutter at the entrance, the huge spiral staircase, and the mysterious elevator.
The three elements combined, she truly felt that the situation had become bad.
「Well if it isn’t a Kazue Yakuman!」
She said jokingly, but her heart was one with the stagnant air of the building. Her mood had significantly sunk.
Despite that, she couldn’t just stop here, so she readied herself and advanced even further.
Footsteps awfully resounding, she went up the stairs of troublesome making. When she at last reached the highest sixth floor of the building, there was just one lone unrefined door.
With no other places to enter before here and with the entrance blocked off, it was as if the door were beckoning and saying「Come, come over here」. The door was where one would arrive upon advancing straight through the multi-tenant-like building.
She was being lured in, but there was nothing else to do about it.
Then, at least.
Youran took a breath, outstretching her spine stiffly as she put her hand on the doorknob, entering inside.
「Good evening. This is the news from the morning.」
A chair was left in the center of the empty room, and sitting in it was one man, legs spread wide apart. He had his hands folded above his thighs, upper body leaning forward.
He was a youth halfway in his twenties, and if he would remain quiet then he’d be quite the reasonable man. But Youran knew that if this man were to open his mouth, he would blurt out nothing but bizarre words.
「Do you got a mother-daughter bowl there?」
「Sorry, but I hate those things.」
「You say that you hate mother-daughter bowls? I misjudged you, New Moon-sama.」
Tsukumo lashed out with an angry expression. No, she just didn’t like those fruitless, meaningless exchanges.
From the information gathered, ninety percent of the conversations that Tsukumo had were of that variety, and from meeting him for the first time, she understand in an instant that this was certainly the case.
（Is that his true self, or he is acting? I wonder which it is）
She secretly thought, looking at her surroundings in order to seize the initiative with the conversation.
「Where’s the exit?」
「You know, New Moon-sama, I think your okaa-sama is pretty good too. She doesn’t often come out into the open so it’s a pain searching for pictures and whatnot, but I think that the effort it requires is well worth it.」
「How about I introduce you after you let me out? I heard that person is having difficulty finding eligible men right now.」
「Comparing New Moon-sama and Okaa-sama…mhmhm. Your Okaa-sama really treasures you, so that could be an idea for making a threat with the arms and legs spread. Afterwards, having them say『Didn’t you say you wouldn’t lay hands on my daughter?』is the best. The finest.」
「Sorry but I didn’t really get any of that.」
「This is common knowledge, you know？！」
Tsukumo said with exaggerated surprise, making an expression on his face as if to ask why she didn’t understand, which Youran simply looked at coldly.
「Basically, you’re saying that your objective is to capture me and have fun with me and that person together.」
「Hmm, is that so.」
「”Is that so”? New Moon-sama says it like it’s not her problem――」
「I’m glad that Tsubaki’s right-hand man just so happens to be the kind of man who is obsessed with his own interests. Everything will be considerably easy from here on.」
Tsukumo’s face changed color and he closed his mouth.
Youran shouted with exultation in her heart.
「So have you secured that person already? If not then I can contact them」
「……I’ve established myself to be Tsubaki-sama’s loyal subordinate.」
「Can you stop fooling around already?」
「I am not fooling around. At the same time, I’ve established myself to be a man who likes mother-daughter bowls more than anything. Those two coexist and the former is prioritized, is all.」
Tsukumo said, laughing depreciatively.
「A bit of a miss on my part…No, that has to be established as the highest priority. Well anyway, there’s nothing I can do about it.」
「So what do you plan to do to me? Do you really want to line us up on the bed?」
「If it’s possible to implement without orders then I’d like to do so. Cause I’ve established myself in that manner.」
「I don’t know that much. I’m here, and I’ve been ordered to thoroughly capture New Moon-sama, is all.」
「You’re still calling me by that name, I see.」
「……I’ll have the privilege of treating you courteously until the next order comes. I ask that you be content with that.」
Knowing that Tsukumo was implicitly telling her not to resist, Youran surveyed her surroundings, perceiving that escape with her own strength was impossible.
「What will you do until then? You’re not going to seriously continue to be here, right?」
「I will seriously be here.」
「If I’m here too long then help will come. The electromagnetic waves from my cell aren’t transmitting right now, but they can get all sorts of information from knowing that I came near here.」
「Even so, they will not come.」
Youran furrowed her brow, not being able to understand why he was able to say that with certainty.
Tsukumo took out his own smartphone, showing Youran the screen. She didn’t immediately understand what his intentions were, but she soon realized that the electromagnetic waves were transmitting through it.
With an intense expression, she took out her own cell, and it still had no signal, out of range.
She took turns looking at her cell and Tsukumo’s face.
「This building isn’t jammed in the slightest.」
「What do you mean?」
「What I mean is that New Moon-sama’s cell is the only thing that became unusable by pinpointing it.」
Even being explained to, she couldn’t immediately understand. She searched through her head for knowledge of potential techniques or methods used for that.
「That cell’s contract has been cancelled, you see.」
Youran was convinced, able to understand that. Certainly, if that were the case, then it would be possible to make only her cell unusable by pinpointing it.
She had the initial impression that jamming was being used, which was why it had taken time for her thoughts to reach that point.
「Even so, nothing has changed. They’ll realize that I’ve come here and――」
Youran stopped talking with a start.
Because the origin of her thoughts had been different, her thought process hadn’t only delayed on the situation of the cell.
Well, it was unquestionable that the cell was involved in there. By the point that she had heard of the cell she used being halted, she should have suspected something.
But Youran hadn’t realized; she had not had the slightest idea.
「Don’t tell me……」
Not directly answering Youran with her stiffened face, Tsukumo began a phone call with the smartphone. Not putting it to his ears, he set the speaker to on and a sound came out.
The mechanical sounds of connecting rang, and then shortly afterward…
She could hear a woman’s voice from the speaker.
A familiar voice that she heard on a daily basis: the woman’s voice that she had heard just earlier from her cell.
This was the voice of the one who Youran regarded as a trusted friend; the voice of the maid who had supported her for a long time as her right hand.