【Episode 2 Part B: Real and Fake, Part 6】
When I regained my vision, I found myself in the middle of a corridor at school.
For a while I couldn’t grasp why I was suddenly in such a random place, but my consciousness jumped into high gear again after I looked out the window.
「So it’s snowing outside after all, huh?」
Outside the window was the same winter wonderland that we saw from the windows in the clock tower. Flakes of white powder were dancing in the air and the window frames were shaking due to the strength of the wind howling outside.
As soon as I raised myself from the floor upon which I was apparently laying, I noticed that the air around here was noticeably colder that it was in the tower. Also, this corridor is very familiar to me. Looking at the plates above the entrances to the classrooms, this is where all the classrooms of the second-year students were located, and the one I happened to be next to was none other than my own classroom.
None of the lights were on so it was pretty dark, but my eyes got used to it pretty soon. That was when I noticed that I was the only one in here, with none of my friends to be seen anywhere near.
「Shiki! Senpai! Aika! Fujisato! Kuhoh! 」
I tried calling everyone’s names to see if anyone will respond, but it was no use. No one called back to me. The only things I could hear were the echo of my own voice and the sound of the wind outside.
「Nobody else is here?」
Could it be that the moment we opened the door of the clock tower we each got transported to a different place around the school? So it must’ve been a trap after all.
Okay, first thing first, I should take out my smartphone and check exactly what time it is.
We opened the door at roughly 11:30 PM, so half an hour had passed since then, and I have absolutely no way of checking what happened during that time. Hell, I don’t even know if I was unconscious for that long.
At the very least I’m sure that I’m not dead yet, so that must be my new personal record at staying alive.
I fixed my glasses and tried to recall exactly what happened.
Immediately after we opened the door, I could hear senpai’s distressed voice calling out to us just as the blizzard invaded the inside of the tower. After that… nothing. Since senpai was some distance away from us when it happened, it might be possible that she saw what happened to all of us. Also…
「There is a small chance that she might still be in the clock tower.」
It is quite possible since she was the only one who did not touch the door in any way the moment they were opened. Moreover, we don’t know if the barrier that’s protecting senpai is still in effect or not. It would seem that going back to check things out would be the best possible course of action for now. Of course, it will be easier said than done, with that relentless blizzard and the amount of snow on the ground reaching more or less fifty centimeters and counting, but as long as I’ll try to move fast without stopping I should be able to get there without much difficulty, or at least I hope so.
「All right, no use staying here, gotta keep moving.」
I am in front of my classroom right now, so I am confident that I could get to the clock tower from here even with my eyes closed. With my eyes now used to the darkness, navigating the dark corridors won’t be a problem at all.
And I know that for now, senpai has not been killed.
Ever since I have been brought back to life by her, my life has been linked to senpai’s life through the power I have received from her, the 『Divine Gift Thanatos』. It works in such a way that if senpai dies, I will die as well. That is why I am able to tell with absolute certainty that she’s alive right now. However, that does not mean that I can take my sweet time coming back to her. After all, not dead does not equal safe, so I have to get to her as soon as possible, and then go locate everyone else once I confirm that she’s safe.
Trying to keep my worries in check, I started running down the corridor…
… but I was unable to leave it.
When I tried to run down the stairs leading to the first floor I ended up back at my classroom. Confused, I tried going the other way by climbing the other set off stairs to the third floor occupied by the third-year students, but the result was the same as when I tried to go down: I ended up at the same spot here on the second floor.
So it would seem that this floor is a one giant loop.
「Is this the enemy’s barrier’s security measures?」
The more I tried to leave by performing the same action the more tired and impatient I got. So in order to calm myself down even a bit, I started saying my thoughts out loud.
「If that is indeed the case, then there has to be something in here that acts as a catalyst for it. A tool, or a pattern engraved on some surface, or maybe some special distortion?」
I was so focused on getting back to senpai that I forgot about what we talked about not that long ago. So now that I remembered it, I should try looking for it instead of running in a panic like a headless chicken.
「Calm down, Jiro. Calm down and don’t do anything rash. Go and check the classroom first.」
Sine I woke up in front of my classroom and return in front of it every time I tried to leave, then it would stand to reason that something important must be inside of it. Assuming that I won’t get kicked out of it too of course. And if I won’t find anything in my own classroom, I’ll have no choice but to go and check all three of the other classrooms, even though it will take a considerable amount of time.
I’ll start by checking my own classroom, class 2-1 first.
「There’s no key here, is there?」
I muttered to myself as I placed my hand on the classroom door. As I suspected, they opened without any problems , revealing an empty class shrouded in darkness. I walked towards my seat and looked at the blackboard.
The message that was written there made me speechless.
『MONJIRO-KUN, BE CAREFUL AROUND SHIKI-CHAN!!!』
It must have been scribbled down with chalk in quite a hurry. But that was not the most disturbing part. The most disturbing was how much fresh-looking blood was splashed all over the blackboard.
「Fujisato? Be careful around Shiki?」
What does that message mean, exactly? I have no idea. What I do understand, however, is that this is no joke. When I got closer to the blackboard, the smell of blood was all too real.
The blood of a Lord does not have that metallic, pungent smell typical for the blood of normal humans. Their blood has more pleasant smell, the one that makes you feel… relaxed and somewhat lightheaded and smelling Fujisato’s blood right now made me remember that Shiinamachi-senpai’s blood had a very similar, almost addicting smell. Maybe that is one of the things that attracts mortals to the Nightkin? Thinking like that, I touched the blood on the blackboard with my fingertips.
It was indeed still fresh. In other words, not much time has passed since Fujisato was hurt somewhere around here.
*TAP, TAP TAP*
At that time, I heard a sound outside of the classroom, as if someone was constantly tapping their finger on their shoulder. I hurriedly turned my gaze towards the classroom’s entrance… and saw someone standing at the door.
They were not too high and wore a white coat that made them stood out in the darkness that surrounded us. But their most distinctive feature…
…was a golden light radiating in the place where their eyes should be.