【Episode 2 Part A: Real and Fake, Part 11】
「Let’s discuss the possibility of the culprit possessing Shiki-san next, since he definitely had the opportunity to do that.」
「Really? I thought she was with senpai the entire time.」
「It might have happened during the time when you came back home to escort me to the school. Shiki-san might have been attacked when she returned to her own room to prepare for the party. That was the ideal time frame for him to make his move, since there was probably no one else to interrupt him.」
She might be onto something. From my experience with senpai’s previous sleepover parties, the female members of the Librarian Committee always needed a surprisingly large amount of time to prepare themselves for it. Incidentally, the most time consuming of said preparations include taking a bath and choosing pajamas and underwear that are 「appropriate for the occasion」.
So let’s try to visualize the whole sequence of events according to Aika’s speculation.
After our date, senpai and Shiki returned to school.
While she was on her way back her room at the back of the IT club, Shiki encountered the 「Legendary Knight」, and he either possessed her or took on her appearance after he defeated her, because it seems highly unlikely that someone like Shiki would allow themselves to be done in by a surprise attack.
And finally, having succeeded in obtaining a 「disguise」 for himself he made his way towards the clock tower.
If that is indeed what happened, then that begets the question: what happened to the real Shiki? (Assuming he changed into her, not possessed her).
Only two options come to my mind right off the bat: either he incapacitated her and hid her somewhere where we won’t be able to find her… or he killed her. Just the thought of the latter made me feel like I was suffocating and my sight began to blur.
「Please, calm yourself down, brother.」
Aika grabbed my hand and squeezed is really strongly, snapping me out of my sudden panic attack.
「Ah, ahhh… Sorry, Aika.」
「Don’t be. I know full well that when it comes to the safety of those you consider dear to you, you can get surprisingly emotional. To be honest, I kinda wish you’d show such emotional reactions when it comes to other things too. But working on that can wait until we’ll be done here. For now, just take a deep breath and calm down.」
She told me to breathe slowly, but in truth just the act of her holding my hand was enough to calm down my heart, which was about ready to burst out of my chest just a second ago. It has always been like that: every time I was worried, panicked about something or felt sad, Aika’s counseling and her gentle touch were enough to make my worries disappear. That was all it took to stabilize my disarrayed emotions, and also cement my belief that Aika in front of me was the real deal. Because if there’s one thing I can be sure of, it’s the fact that no one else but her would be able to bring me such a peace of mind with such a small, seemingly insignificant gesture.
「I can’t help but to wonder, why is that you can’t keep your wits about you whenever Shiki-san is involved?」
「D-Don’t ask me, I’d like to know that myself.」
She was my friend, so of course I became upset at the thought of something happening to her. I’m sure senpai would react to it in the same way, if not much stronger.
「All right Aika, I’m okay now. I’m sorry. We can continue now.」
For the time being worrying about the 「current Shiki」 won’t accomplish anything, so there’s no need for me to dwell on that any longer. She is here right now, and that’s a fact.
「Right, let’s do that. Based on what you’ve told me about her earlier, Shiki-san has already tried to kill you once when you happened to be alone with her in one room, even if it only resulted in you entering the state of suspended animation. What would happen if that scenario repeated itself, but this time without Shiinamachi-san around?」
「If senpai is not around then it won’t be possible for me to be revived, since she’s the only one who can do it… wait, but if that happened, there would no one else left to protect her!」
Asuming that Shiki has been possessed or switched, if I get taken out, that would mean that senpai will stay alone without the protection of her Knights.
Knowing Shiki, the room was probably rigged with her threads, just like the time we thought against Fujisato and Kuhoh. If that is indeed the case and he’d be able to use them against us, then even with me on their side we would have a hard time, since Shiki’s threads can counter at least two of Fujisato’s Gifts. As if things couldn’t get any harder for us. Kuhoh said that just by himself he was so powerful that she was unable to do anything to him, but if he also gains access to Shiki’s 『Satori』, that would have been too powerful of a combination.
「True. So if we assume that the current Shiki-san is the fake one…」
「…Then it all adds up.」
I gently lean out of the kitchen to check on senpai and Shiki across the room.
「Don’t worry Kaguya. Chests are not the only parts of a girl’s body that guys like Monjiro are interested in. They also pay close attention to our butts and faces, respectively.」
「I-Is that so? I didn’t know that.」
「Then the next points of interests would be our waists and legs. So in conclusion, you should take especially good care of the first three.」
「Oh, a-all right, I’ll be sure to remember that.」
… *SIGH* what the hell are the two of you even talking about?
The sheer weirdness of the scene I just witnessed made me question everything I’ve talked about with Aika just now. I mean really, who else would be lecturing our pure cinnamon bun that is senpai about all the things erotic if not Shiki? Sure, that doesn’t mean that she’s one hundred percent clear of suspicion, but that act was so uniquely like her that no one else in the world would probably be able to replicate it.
「I don’t even know how to comment that scene. But if I absolutely had to say something, then it would probably be that if the Shiki-san who’s talking to Shiinamachi-san now is a fake, then the culprit is probably having so much fun with emulating her right now.」
「You can say that again.」
However, no matter how I look at it, all I see is the normal Shiki. I want to believe that she the genuine article. Because if she’s not, then we won’t be able to avoid hurting her if a battle would eventually break out.
「I’m sorry to say it, but it looks like e won’t be able to pinpoint the enemy by just guessing around like that.」
「It really looks that way.」
「Yes. It’s like a 「Werewolf Game」 gone horribly wrong in here. One of us is the werewolf who aims to kill all the other players, and we have to guess the werewolf’s identity before he completes his objective.」
Aika closed her eyes and shook her head.
I know about that game too. You have to use your deduction skills to carefully maneuver among the other players and find out the identity of the werewolf who has mixed in with the villagers. In other words, we won’t be able to figure out his true identity until something will actually happen.
Only, our current situation is not a game. Sooner or later, some of us are going to die if we won’t do anything. We have to end it right here to keep everyone safe.
「Aika. No matter what happens, I’ll be sure to protect you.」
I said that mainly to hype myself up, but Aika’s face got unusually red in an instant.
「W-Well… thank you very much for caring so much about me, brother.」
「Don’t mention it. Everything for my cute little sister.」
Aika stood on her toes and stroked my head. It was a clumsy caress, but the one that tickled my heart and soul nonetheless.
「Likewise, everything to help my brother out.」
Well that made me feel a little bit shy. I am not used to such public displays of sibling affection.
「Let’s do our best, Aika. With you by my side, we’ll be unstoppable, just like Spartans!」
「Good grief, the least you could do not to ruin this moment was to say that we’ll become the unbeatable siblings!」
Aika pouted her cheeks but smiled soon thereafter.
「But… yes, you’re right. Let’s do everything in our power to see this through to the end, brother.」
Listening to Aika’s words, something within me instinctively reacted. It was a strange feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and it disappeared from my heart as soon as it appeared.
「What’s wrong? Did something happened?」
「Nothing, I’m fine.」
Although I hurriedly denied it, This feeling I felt made me feel strangely uncomfortable. I don’t know why, but I had a feeling like I’ve heard those words once before.