【Episode 2 Part A: Real and Fake, Part 2】
It might be possible that everything that’s happening around me right now is an illusion, but I don’t want to believe that. Instead, I want to enjoy this moment of peace to its fullest extent.
「So, is there any reason why you’ve come all this way to the kitchen?」
「Of course there is. We need to talk. In secret from everybody else.」
「In secret, huh?」
The kitchen is far enough from the living room that no one should be able to spy on our conversation unless they possessed a highly trained sense of hearing similar to mine. As a Lord, Fujisato might possess supernatural abilities that defy logic and common understanding, but as far as I know none of them grants her the skill to hear over great distances. Shiinamachi-senpai and Aika definitely don’t have that kind of ability and even if they had, I’m sure they would never try to eavesdrop on me. So by the process of elimination, the only one we should worry about is Kuhoh.
「You don’t have to worry about Kuhoh Nagi.」
Shiki said as if she was reading my mind.
「All right, go ahead then.」
At first I wanted to ask why did Shiki let Kuhoh off the hook so easily, but she just stared at me with her usual emotionless expression that was sending a clear message: don’t ask about it. So instead I urged her to get to the point.
「I sensed a strong disturbance at today’s party.」
As far as I’m concerned everything seemed to be peaceful up to this point, so I don’t really understand what is she getting at.
「Yes, a disturbance. As you should be aware, my Gift, the 『Demonic Gift Satori』 enhances all of my five senses. What you don’t know, however, is that utilizing all of them simultaneously I can use something that would be best described as a 「Sixth Sense」.
If that so-called sixth sense of hers works as I think it works then certainly it would enable her to sense things that normal human beings would usually be unable to sense. It hasn’t been scientifically proven whether it’s more of an inspiration or intuition thing, but if it really is a phenomenon that’s supernatural in origin then I don’t really think any amount of science could every truly comprehend it.
In Shiki’s case, her basic ability was already insanely OP, so knowing she’s able to actually go beyond OP was mind-blowing to say the least. If she has access to something as amazing as that then just what kinds of things will she be able to achieve with it? Being able to use only the basic five senses myself that was a concept well beyond my understanding.
However, during the mansion incident I’ve decided that I will put my trust in Shiki. I will not question her motives and believe in her no matter what.
「You you’re trying to say that you haven’t caught anything with your senses, but rather you had some kind of an unpleasant premonition, is that correct?」
「Yes, that is indeed what I was trying to say…. Do you believe me?」
「Of course. After all, you even took the trouble of informing me about it instead of just keeping it to yourself.」
There was a brief period of silence after I said that. An uncomfortable silence, if I may add. I couldn’t see all that well because of her bangs, but I had a feeling that Shiki was staring at me intensely with a slightly flushed face. Maybe she was just happy that I voiced my trust in her so openly but got too shy to admit that?
「If you say it like that then I guess I should do my best not to tarnish that trust of yours.」
I could clearly hear a tinge of happiness in her voice.
「Well, uhm, yeah. So like.. what was that disturbance you’ve felt like, exactly? Or is asking to describe something you could only feel with your sixth sense in mortal terms a bit too much?」
「I’m afraid so. What I felt is not something so simple that it can be described using only the basic five senses. I also can’t present you the 「rough equivalent」 of it of any sort.」
「Hmm, okay. Then…」
How should I formulate mt question? I can probably assume that Shiki herself lacks the sufficient amount of information to properly describe what she felt, or that she’s unable to paraphrase it into simple terms someone of my mental capacity would be able to understand. In other words, we need to find something that would allow her to properly convey the meaning of what she wanted to say in such a way that even I could get what she was getting at.
Now, I am certainly no half-wit, but I do begrudgingly admit that I’m not that good with abstract thinking. So if Shiki wants me to understand what she’s talking about, she’s going to have to express it in a very simple terms that would make me go all 「Ah, that’s what you meant! That’s what it’s actually like!」. Only then I will be able to grasp what that 「disturbance」 of hers was. Okay, let’s try something like this.
「Do you feel like this unpleasantness you’ve felt is getting stronger?」
「Yes. As time goes by it grows denser and stickier, like melted sugar that’s been left in the pot for too long.」
See, I knew it wasn’t that hard if only the right words were picked! But now it appears like we’ll be operating under some kind of time limit if we want to deal with it before it becomes a serious threat, and I don’t even want to think what’s going to happen if we go past that limit. Worst case scenario, we won’t be able to get rid of it and it might become a serious threat to everyone who’s gathered here, so we cannot allow ourselves to lose any more time!
「Can you at least determine who’s causing it? Is it Kuhoh or Fujisato? Are they the enemies again?」
「No, this time they are both completely innocent. Or rather, if they were the cause of this like last time then I don’t think they would have risked coming here at all since they don’t have the element of surprise at their side anymore. Such an action would also be in direct contradiction to all the support they’ve been giving us recently.」
Certainly, ever since we’ve bested them in battle they’ve been very supportive of our actions. Lately Fujisato was even educating me about Lords and Knights and all things Nightkin related while Kuhoh became my sparring partner in physical training. Sometimes I feel like they’re doing more for me than I actually deserve, but I definitely can’t deny that I feel much happier with how my relationship with the two of them has progressed. They’ve been saying that they can allow themselves some leisure like that until their 「next target」 appears, but when it finally does I hope it won’t be Shiinamachi-senpai again. I think it’s safe to say that none of us wants to have 「Senpai Sleepover Smackdown Round 2」 anytime soon. It would be really hard to believe that after doing so much for us they’d want to go after senpai again, but I guess there isn’t such thing as too much caution when it comes to the safety of your Lord. In the unlikely case they’d try to double-cross us again, we will show no quarter and bring them down again, just like last time. Minus me dying in the process of course.
However, the possibility of their betrayal remains just a 「what-if」 scenario for now, because there was yet another possibility.
「…. So how about my sister?」
I didn’t want to suspect Aika of course but going by the elimination method she was the only possible option.
Shiki turned her gaze towards Aika who was sitting next to senpai in the living room, chatting happily with everyone. I could almost visualize Shiki scanning her with her golden eye in the same way spies do in the movies.
「…Unknown. The reading doesn’t show anything suspicious about her at the moment but given the situation we can’t rule out the possibility of her being the source.」
In other words, Shiki didn’t detect anything wrong with her, but it’s still too early to cross her off the suspect list.
It has been two years and then some since Aika and I began living together under the same roof. I know that she does not possess any kind of special powers herself and that she’s has nothing to do with our Lords & Knights business. On the other hand though, I realize that I am quite easy to deceive, so she might as well have some hidden side to her that I am unaware of.
Even so, Fujisato and Kuhoh are in the clear for now, but Aika… Aika still remains in the gray area.