【Episode 2 Part A: Real and Fake, Part 5】
「I’m sorry, brother, there was nothing suspicious over there.」
「Stairs are also clear, Monjiro.」
「Nothing in the preparation room either.」
The three of us tried searching through the whole clock tower to find anything suspicious or seemingly out of place. We literally searched everywhere: on the shelves, rooms that were usually abandoned, storehouses and high places that no one would usually reach.
All that searching and we found nothing. Not a single thing.
I beckoned Aika to my side and removed the dust that got tangled up in her hair. In a sense this whole escapade was like the spring cleaning, only without the cleaning bit. Most of the places here accumulated so much dust that just walking past it made it scatter into the air and as a result, some of it got stuck to Aika’s clothes and hair.
「Oh, I’ve not realized… thank you very much.」
「Don’t mention it. Your hair are so pretty, it would be bad if something like that ruined them.」
Maybe it was because I touched her hair, but Aika’s face became red and she fidgeted in place. She’s usually so calm and composed, but looking at her now in her embarrassed state, it was so fresh and new and… fascinating. I got to see the side of her today that I don’t normally see at home. Lucky me.
「All right, all done. You’re good to go.」
「Thank you very much. You’re one clingy brother, you know that?」
「Y-You think so?」
Aika also swatted the dust off of my head and shoulders with a smile. When she finished cleaning me up, I saw Shiki coming towards us from the stairs leading up to the upper floors of the tower.
「Verification finished. I’ve come to rejoin you now.」
「Ah, Shiki. Remind me once again but what we’re looking for is either an emblem of source or something akin to a tool or a device that could have been used in erecting a barrier, right?」
「Yes. We’re looking for anything that might have been a catalyst or served as the barrier’s starting point. Also, although it is highly improbable, if a verbal chant was used to create it, then we might as well be looking for the caster himself.」
「Ah, if it really was that third option, then finding him should be relatively easy. We have the home field advantage after all.」
「You really think so, brother? If it was indeed man made, then maybe the caster is hiding somewhere in here?」
I’ve already checked all the potential hiding spots and there was no one in there. But there was always a possibility that our perpetrator this time was also a Gift user and that he had the power that allowed him to either turn completely invisible or hide his presence. Maybe that would even allow him to continue his chanting silently, without anyone noticing?
「That is a possibility, but as I said before, a rather improbable one and that’s because barriers such as the one that was used at our mansion always requires a ritual in order to be erected.」
「Ahhh, and the ritual chanting must always be loud and clear!」
Then we resumed our search, looking for anything that we might have missed the first time. It never ceases to amaze me how knowledgeable Shiki is about all things science/occult/Nightkin related, but Aika’s ability to listen and accept information was also nothing short of amazing, After all, every time I’ve reported to her about the incidents I was being dragged into, she’s always listened to my words from beginning to the end without any unnecessary comments and a level of understanding that many experienced adults would lack.
Truth to be told, when I was revived by senpai and got the power of immortality, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it and just kind of went with the flow, accepting everything I was told without a word of objection, simply because I felt that was the right thing to do.
「What’s wrong, brother? Why are you spacing out like that? Are you not feeling well?」
「No, I was simply amazed at your level of adaptation to weird situations like the one we’re currently in.」
「Is it really that unusual? Even if I don’t have any practical skills, I am still a member of the family of assassins just like you, so the concept of the dark side of society in not foreign to me. I know I shouldn’t lump this 「Nightkin」 business together with an ordinary criminal world, but once you think about it logically, they are actually pretty similar. It’s just a matter of one being a lot more uncommon than the other.」
Wow, looks like my little sister might be even more adaptive than I’ve initially thought. But be that as it may, I am still against her willingly placing herself in dangerous situations simply because she’s able to understand them. So from now on I must do everything I cam to avoid getting her any deeper into this mess.
「Shiki-san, would it be alright for me to confirm something?」
「Confirm something? If it’s about my relationship with Monjiro then we’re more like a master and his obedient sex-slave than anything else.」
I don’t remember us ever being in that kind of physical relationship, but Aika’s expression remained unchanged. Looks like she wasn’t going to allow herself to be dragged into Shiki’s perverted antics. That’s my lovely sister for you.
「I see. I imagine it must be quite hard for you since my brother can be such a blockhead when it comes to emotions and relationships.」
「It is. But I can’t say I entirely dislike it.」
「Glad to hear it. As his sister it makes me happy to see that he found himself someone who can be with him despite his many shortcomings.」
Even though it was a nice conversation, why do I feel like both of them are dissing me?
「But I digress, so let’s go back to the topic at hand. Shiki-san, could you tell me something more about that 「Bad Feeling」 you had and this 「Sixth Sense」 of yours?」
And just like that, Aika managed to steer the conversation back into the proper direction. Could it be that she already learned how to maneuver around Shiki in such a short amount of time?!
「Sixth Sense… in my case, it is something I am able to obtain after using my Gift to sharpen all of my five senses to their utmost extreme and that in turn allows me to sense the things that no ordinary human could ever perceive or comprehend.」
「That does sound like something that cannot be explained properly if one does not possess the proper knowledge.」
「Exactly. That is why I simplified it as 「A Bad Feeling」. That way, I was able to convey the serious the seriousness of the situation to all of you without having to retort to needlessly long infodumps.」
「And how long has it been since you had the premonition of that 「Bad Feeling」?」
「Ever since I returned to school I’ve been feeling something akin to a discomfort, as if something was constantly whispering in the back of my head and clutching at my chest, but ever since everyone else arrived it only grew stronger, but I didn’t want to ruin the fun everyone’s been having so I tried to bear with it until I just couldn’t do it anymore.」
「In other words, the feeling grew stronger as time went on, right?」
When I was talking with Shiki in the kitchen it didn’t even occur to me to ask her when exactly she started having that 「Bad Feeling」. So she was feeling it as soon as she got back to school from our date? Then doesn’t that mean that someone really was here while we were gone?
「Was there any location where you felt that feeling to be particularly strong?」
「Definitely at the back entrance to the school. And right before the entrance to Kaguya’s room. But I feel like the strongest reaction was in the book preparation room.」
「Shiinamachi-san’s room is covered with its own barrier so she should be safe there. As for the preparation room and the stairs area, I think we should search them once more, but this time even more thoroughly. But we have to be more careful, since now we know that those two places might be more dangerous than we initially thought.」
Thanks to Aika questioning Shiki and her detailed analysis of her answers I was able to get a much better grasp at the current situation. I know it wasn’t Shiki’s fault, but even though her descriptions were initially helpful, they turned out to be too vague to be truly effective. But now that we know the time and places where she sensed that 「Bad Feeling」 the most, we might actually be onto something for real this time.
「You really are amazing, Aika.」
「You think so? I don’t feel like I did all that much, but I should be the one thanking you, brother.」
「Huh? Me? Why’s that?」