Translator: DarkHeartedAlchemist Editor: Weasalopes
【Episode 3】Life and Mind: Part B (6)
「Eh? What’s going on?! What on earth is happening?!」
Watching all of that unfold before her very eyes, Fujisato curled up into a ball under the cushion of her seat. My only hope now was that she would stay like that the entire time without trying to make any sudden movements that might’ve provoked Kuhoh to target her as well. As for her, she was currently standing in front of me and senpai, holding a knife in each of her hands.
「Using my own knives against me in such a fashion. Truly amazing move, senpai.」
Basking in the moonlight, she lifted the left hand knife to her throat.
So she was the one who had killed us on that fateful night, and targeted us ever since.
Hearing the sound of that ominous footstep again, I instinctively jumped towards Shiinamachi-senpai…
… only to end up with Kuhoh’s knife stabbed deep into my chest.
The distance and the timing of her attack just now were both too abnormal. To be able to close the distance between us in an instant without any kind of preparation, was her Gift some kind of teleportation or Flash Step ability? But if that was the case, then why was I unable to predict the trajectory of her attack?
To inflict even more pain upon me, she twisted the knife in my wound with an experienced, practiced move. Being stabbed was painful enough already, and after she did that, I felt like every cell in my body in the direct vicinity of the wound was being turned into minced meat. It hurt so much that I felt like fainting on the spot.
「Swiftly predicting my movements and being able to protect Shiinamachi-senpai at the same time. You never cease to amaze me, Monjiro-senpai.」
I managed to avoid being hit in any of the vital spots, Kuhoh twisted the knife some more, clearly hell-bent on killing me with this one strike. This was the same method used by professional killers, and the one that I would have used if I were forced to do the same. Following that line of thinking, her next target would probably be my throat… but before that could happen, there was a flash of golden light right before my eyes.
Kuhoh gasped in the exact same moment when Shiki threw something at her. It was so fast that I couldn’t see exactly what it was, but Kuhoh jumped back to avoid it, sensing that it was something highly dangerous.
In the next instant, the sound of her footsteps came form an impossible location: From near the door leading to the penthouse.
What was going on? Kuhoh was by the window with us just now, but now she was already by the door. A feat like that was impossible to achieve even by using 『Shukuchi』, the ultimate martial arts technique of quick stepping. I was so sure of it because once again I failed to register the trajectory of her movements. It was as if she was able to instantly travel from place to place in the blink of an eye. Could it be that her Gift was actually teleportation?
「Yatono Shiki, you too are an opponent that is not to be underestimated.」
Kuhoh said that as she stood by the wooden door. And then.
「Kuhoh Nagi, you are already within my trap’s grasp.」
Shiki’s voice was as cold as ice when she sharply moved her left hand upwards. And when she did that, something invisible to my eyes tore at Kuhoh’s arm, making deep cut-lines and blood appear all over it.
「Tch, cutting wires?」
「Indeed they are. Thanks to my 『Satori』 they are now an effective weapon for both defensive and offensive purposes. All I have to do is manipulate them according to the vibrations on my fingertips.」
「So what you want to say is… you have already figured out what my Gift is?」
「Slipping through my sensory perception was quite an achievement, I’ll give you that, but thanks to that I know that my initial hypothesis is the correct one.」
Escaping Shiki’s perception? Kuhoh could actually do something like that?
Because of the heavily bleeding wound on my chest that caused my vision to blur, all I could do now was to stand behind Shiki to act as Shiinamachi-senpai’s shield, and count on Shiki to deal with Kuhoh.
For a moment I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to die and allow senpai to resurrect me so I could enter the battle at my best condition again. But when I took Kuhoh’s Gift under consideration, I deduced that I had no time to do that. As long as Kuhoh had her undivided attention on Shiki, we were relatively safe. But if she saw senpai making any kind of unusual movements, it was a given that she would switch her attention towards her, and used her Gift to kill her, even if she would end up getting killed by shiki in the process. How could I be so sure of that? Because she was the same as I. She was an assassin. People like us were taught from the start that in order to accomplish the mission, we had to forego prioritizing our own safety.
As an assassin I was out of the loop for quite some time, and in my current state performing any kind of swift maneuvers was absolutely out of the question. All I was good for now was being senpai’s shield that would protect her from Kuhoh’s attacks should she chose to go for it. As long as I was standing here keeping my guard, Kuhoh was forced into a 1v2 situation. Since she now knew that Shiki’s Gift was a threat to her, I’m sure she would think twice before making any risky moves.
With each passing minute it became evident for me that the wound Kuhoh inflicted on me was serious enough for me to die from it. The real question was: would Shiki be able to deal with her before that happens? Or was succumbing to death and making the best of the time I had left the best course of action now?
No matter what happens, I won’t allow senpai to die again, not on my watch!
「Kuhoh Nagi, I advise you not to make any kind of reckless move. This room is fully littered with my wires that I have deployed earlier.」
「So what you want to say is 「don’t move if you want to live」, right? You’re a cunning one, setting all those wires here from the start. I have to admit, I’ve underestimated you.」
「And you have only yourself to blame for that. If you hadn’t attacked Monjiro and Kaguya during daytime, I would’ve never figured out what your Gift was. Since you were able to escape my perception, it was natural to think that it had something to do with movement, and going from there, figuring out the rest was a piece of cake.」
I heard the low sound of something slicing the air, and a few brief flashes at the corner of my eye. Those were probably Shiki’s wires moving around the room.
When I was younger, mother once told me that there was a certain style of combat that utilized wires as weapons. The user could use them to set up various types of traps that could be used to restrict his opponent’s movements, locking them up in a kind of a spider’s web. And now that I’ve seen them in action, I had no choice but to agree. Shiki was now like a spider; one wrong move and Kuhoh would be devoured by her without even the slightest chance of fighting back. I remembered how I was easily poisoned by her. So she was someone who utilized any kind of techniques necessary to handle her opponents.
「H-Hey, w-w-what is going on guys?! Are you playing some kind of fighting game?!」
Raising herself from her hiding spot, Fujisato was yelling in a panic. Thankfully it was too dark for her to see what was currently happening. Contrary to us assassins who received proper training that got us accustomed to fighting in the dark, she was just an ordinary girl.
「Or perhaps you are… Ah! Monjiro, you’re hurt! What happened?!」
Unfortunately for me, since I was standing near the window, she was probably able to briefly see the injuries I have sustained, and screamed in worry. That was the truth of our situation: Fujisato was innocent, while Kuhoh was guilty.
「Sorry, Fujisato, but… could you perhaps… hide yourself for just a bit longer?」
「Eh? A-Are you sure? Are you going to be okay with wounds like that?」
She was still worried about me even in such a dire situation. What a kind-hearted girl. The other girl who was supposed to be kind-hearted, on the other hand, had her movements sealed up completely. She stopped glaring daggers at Shiki and turned her gaze towards Fujisato.
「Fujisato-senpai, do what Monjiro-senpai tells you to do. Everything will be over soon, we just have to settle some matters that are a bit problematic to explain in a concise fashion.」
Hearing her say that surprised me to no end.
Judging by all of her heartless acts up until now I presumed that all of her previous actions were just a façade aimed at making us lose our vigilance so she could kill Shiinamachi-senpai. And yet she was still trying to keep Fujisato out of this. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think about her anymore. Which one was the real one here: the Kuhoh who was my kouhai at the Librarian Committee, or the Kuhoh who murdered both senpai and me?