Translator: DarkHeartedAlchemist Editor: Weasalopes
【Episode 3】Life and Mind: Part B (1)
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• Refers to the hill of Golgotha at Jerusalem, also called the Place of the Skull.
Later that night.
All three of us sat around the table in senpai’s room in the clock tower, holding a strategy meeting.
「Since we’re all gathered here, we can finally discuss what our course of action for tonight should be.」
Senpai said as looked at us with a serious expression.
「Today is listed as one of the important days in my 『story』. And since we were attacked earlier, there can be no doubt about it: whoever is targeting my life, he/she is an obstacle on our path that has to be conquered in order for my 『story』to proceed to its next stage.」
「How exactly were today’s events described?」
Shiki asked senpai, keeping her usual composure.
「It was something along the lines of: 「The story’s real beginning is a thorny path that traverses the unbeaten path between life and death. 」
「Unbeaten path between life and death, huh? Could that be a reference to Kaguya, the story’s protagonist, or possibly something else?」
「Of that I am not so sure myself.」
How curious. So even if the story was about Shiinamachi-senpai, its contents weren’t limited to the person herself, but also extended to those around her? But in that case, who was the referent here, and what that entire sentence meant, exactly? Maybe it was about opening a path towards the future after facing some kind of challenge?
「For now we can be absolutely sure of one thing: whatever the story is referring to, it was not the attempt on your lives that took place earlier today.」
「I think so too. It was a dangerous situation, sure, but not to the point where we could say that our lives were balancing between life and death. And after it was all over, there was no feeling that we have traversed something, at least not for me.」
I might’ve fended off the assassin, but we gained no new information about his/her identity in the process. The only thing we gained was more questions that were still left unanswered. But at the very least, we learned that whoever we were dealing with was inferior to my mother, so hey, silver lining.
Shiki was unusually quiet, as she was thinking with her chin supported by one of her hands.
「That real beginning bit, I just can’t shake it off my mind. And the more I think about it, the more certain I am that it really means that today’s happenings will be the deciding factor in shaping how will Kaguya’s story look in the future.」
Senpai answered her with a calm nod.
「Then we’re all on the same page here. And that is why I decided to take a bit of a gamble tonight.」
As I thought, that was the reason for today’s pajama party after all. But it was already evening, and nothing had happened so far. Everything was as peaceful as ever. But if senpai’s 『story』was to be believed, then something will definitely happen tonight.
「Right now, there is one more thing that worries me. Mainly, if it turns out that Fujisato-san and Kuhoh-san are innocent after all, they’ll end up dragged into an affair that has nothing to do with them, all because of our wrongly placed suspicions.」
「That’s true, but beggars can’t be choosers. Right now, they are our best bet, and getting them involved is a risk that we have to take. I’m sorry to say this, but we have no other choice.」
Now I understood why senpai had that dark expression on her face this whole time. She must’ve felt guilty that she was suspecting someone whom she was good friends with. And to add to that, if one of them does turn out to be the culprit, we will probably have to deal with them by force.
Somewhere deep down in my heart, I still hoped for a peaceful resolution of this case, but senpai was a Nightkin and had her story to play, so that little hope of mine was getting smaller and smaller with each passing hour.
No, I can’t allow myself to be swayed by my own increasing pessimism, not at a critical moment such as this. I should steel my resolve, and focus my whole being on making sure that after tonight, senpai will emerge victorious from the trials placed before her, allowing her to continue living her days in peace and harmony. That was Shiinamachi Kaguya’s Vassal, Sakuradamon Jiro’s current mission.
All I could do right now was observing Fujisato and Kuhoh to ascertain whether they were the culprits or not, and once I will confirm their innocence, I’ll have to protect them from the real villain as well. It was a difficult mission to complete, but I had to do it if I wanted to achieve the best possible ending. And for that to happen…
I took off my glasses and entered 「Professional Killer Mode」 once again, clearing my mind of any unnecessary distractions.
From early childhood I was taught that if I wanted to be an assassin, a solitary life void of any lingering attachments was the only way of life that was allowed to me. But now, after all this time, I realized that that mindset was fundamentally wrong. Right now, what I wanted to do was to protect my friends and loved ones, no matter the cost.
Knowing that, I put my glasses back on.
「Looks like you’re more fired up than ever, Monjiro.」
Shiki seemed to noticed that I was in high spirits, as she was looking at me with her normal blue eye while a small smile rose on her lips.
「Can you blame me? I have to live up to senpai’s expectations, and in order to do that, I have to give it my absolute best to ensure that no harm comes to anyone tonight.」
「And there you said it, you absolute madman. But you’re right, you know? Choosing the Vassals is one of the precious few things where Nightkin have a freedom of choice, but when it comes to choosing, the most important factor is having someone you can trust who will make the journey towards the story’s end that much easier. So, go ahead, Monjiro, and show us what you’re truly made of.」
Precious few things, huh?
In a sense, senpai was probably similar to myself, leading a solitary life in which even the most trivial of actions required a great deal of courage and determination from her. And yet, no matter what she tried to do, or how she tried to go against it, her life was still bound to a set script. I can’t imagine such a life being a happy one at all. And now she choose to use one of that limited freedoms of hers to make someone like me her companion. That is why it was my duty, my obligation to find such a way out of this situation that would allow her to continue to be happy, to once again be the carefree senpai that I’ve fallen for.
「Don’t worry, senpai. No matter what happens, I will make sure that all of this ends tonight.」
「Yes. Thank you, Jiro-kun.」
I demonstrated the extent of my determination to senpai, and she responded in kind by showing me her calming smile.
Our current objective was as follows: to determine whether or not Fujisato and Kuhoh could be the killer we were looking for to determine if we can stop suspecting them. But even then, it didn’t mean that we should place our absolute trust in them, since one of them could just be pretending to be innocent. Should that be the case, then I hoped that I could take the appropriate action as someone who was also living his life while deceiving those around him.
If I were to be honest, it was as if my eyes have been opened to the simple truth that being true to yourself and people around you required a great deal of courage and internal resolve, something that I would’ve remained ignorant of if I had simply continued to live my life as I did before converting to who I was now. Keeping that in mind the 「Ordinary High School Boy Mode」 me made it his first priority to get to know people and learn to interact with them properly.
「Senpai, if I may voice my selfish opinion here, I’d love it if you could remain on friendly terms with both Kuhoh and Fujisato, even if one of them turns out to be the killer. I believe that this is the only way for us to achieve the truly good ending here. And I think this goes without saying, but I’ll do everything within my power to help you achieve that ending.」
Perhaps this was only my own selfish wishful thinking, but that was what I wanted to do right now. This single idea represented everything that my current self stood for.
「Even in such a situation, you still think about the wellbeing of others. You really are too kind, Jiro-kun.」
Senpai said those words with moist eyes and a trembling voice. To think that my declaration will move her to such a degree, even I was a bit surprised.
This had nothing to do with the fact that she was a Nightkin, possessed supernatural powers or lived longer than normal humans. That was who Shiinamachi Kaguya was as a person. Someone who tried to live happily, carefree and cheerfully, no matter how grim the circumstances were. And I’ve sworn time and time again to protect her for that very reason.
「Now that our morale is at an all-time high, can we just continue with discussing the plan like we were supposed to do?」
Shiki made a suggestion, and we both nodded at that.