As soon as he got home to his apartment, Tobio sat down on the living room sofa. He let out a deep sigh.
He suddenly looked up at the ceiling.
——Was Sasaki manipulating that monster lizard really not a dream?
He asked himself this, but the vivid memory was a clear rejection of that possibility.
There was something else with the appearance of Sasaki……
Are lizard monsters with tentacle-like things extending from their mouths things that actually exist in this world? Monsters like those that appear in the world of comics and games, can those exist in reality!? There’s no way! What reason could there be for such a monster to exist——.
In silence Tobio buried his face in his hands.
……Was that a dream? Or a vision?
Could it be because of the immense sense of loss from the death of his classmates weighing on his mind and body that caused such a vision?
Wrong. The monster of Sasaki had commanded. That monster. It had injured him.
He looked over towards his bag that was laying sideways.
From the slightly open mouth of the bag, he caught a glimpse of a round object.
Along the way returning home, there were many times he considered throwing it away, however, since he would have been in danger of dying if not for Minagawa Natsume being there, he couldn’t just part with it without hesitation.
It’s a ridiculous story. Their corpses having never been recovered, his missing fellow students then brought monsters and attacked him. Why would he have been targeted? No matter how he thought about it, there was no reason for him to be killed. What Minagawa Natsume had said, when you thought about it calmly it sounded like a strange joke.
However, Tobio saw the lizard-shaped monster. That monster’s head was instantly sent flying by Minagawa Natsume’s hawk. These events are facts. If he were to try to pretend that it’s a dream, those distinct images will emerge from his mind.
……If that’s the case that would mean that, not only Sasaki, but that the rest of his classmates whose condition had been unknown would be alive as well……? Likewise, that time that he saw Sae was also genuine? And that Sae, like Sasaki, carries a monster with her……?
No, it’s too early for conclusions like that to be drawn Tobio thought. Although such things happening was incomprehensible, he didn’t want to imagine that Sae would be alive trying to kill him with such a monster.
Sitting on the living room sofa, Tobio let out another deep sigh.
——He was worn out.
Tobio’s entire body was afflicted with fatigue. Even if he had the energy to make dinner, he had no appetite.
Tobio stood up and again looked at the bag. ……While gazing at the alleged ‘egg’, he at once began remembering the various things that had happened that day. Tobio picked up the bag that was still holding the ‘egg’, and placed it in the bathroom tub.
This should be good. He wanted to forget about this until tomorrow morning at least.
Tobio closed the door to the bathroom, returned to his room and lay down in bed. Attacked by drowsiness as soon as he lay down, Tobio immediately fell asleep.
A large dog barked and Tobio let out a pathetic cry. His back was even bent over.
“Hey, since we’re about to become high school students you shouldn’t get so surprised from a dog barking.”
While rubbing the dog’s head, Sae gave him a wry smile.
Sae’s house. In the garden, there’s a Golden Retriever that was entrusted to them from her relatives. It would appear that her family is looking after her while their relatives go on a trip.
It was at the time they were in junior high school, he had been home alone on a holiday, when Sae called and asked him to come over to her house.
He was following through with helping out with the dog as he had been requested, but for Tobio himself, as someone who was weak when it came to animals, covering for Sae was out of the question.
Being friendly, but with the attitude of a mischievous spoiled child, the Golden Retriever, merely from realizing that he wasn’t Sae, would use all the strength in its large body for the purpose of fawning upon Tobio. For people who like dogs, they would find such conduct enjoyable, but for someone who’s weak with animals it would be seen as nothing but menacing.
While rapidly wagging its tail, the dog chased Tobio who fled from the garden. To chase a fleeing opponent, that is a dog’s instinct. By appropriately motivating the dog, Tobio had become the ideal playmate for handling the dog. Although, this was no different than having a wild animal chase Tobio.
“Hey! Come on!”
Even if he got angry, once the Golden Retriever’s playfulness was this fired up, there was nothing that could be done to end it quietly.
“Ahahaha! Do your best, Tobio”
Speaking of Sae, she was sitting on the porch watching the frantic Tobio.
Such an appeal was in vain, as Tobio was then defeated by the dog leaping on him from behind, falling face down in the garden.
The dog then mercilessly climbed onto his back and began sloppily licking around his head.
“Uwah! Jus-, stop, hey! Uowaaaaah!”
Tobio was on the garden lawn, half teary-eyed as twisted and struggled, but the dog’s assault did not stop.
With that command of Sae’s, the dog named Kinjirou stopped teasing Tobio. It quickly distanced itself from Tobio and exhibited proper sitting pose behavior.
The dog’s onslaught having ceased, Tobio took the opportunity to slowly stand up. His appearance was completely haggard.
Becoming truly worried, Sae timidly peered at Tobio’s face.
“A-are you okay?”
“……I, I’m okay”
Somehow, he was barely able to reply so. Still, regarding the presence of the large dog, Tobio had yet to grow accustomed to it.
Sae gently stroked Tobio’s head.
“I’m sorry, Tobio”
With Sae publicly behaving as one would comforting children, Tobio was unable to get angry at her.
It was because of how pleasant it was. Because of the gentleness transmitted from her hand, it was exceedingly comfortable.
If his friends had been watching him, it would have been an embarrassing scene. Exempting the dog, him presently being cuddled was something he would never show anyone.
However, Sae’s warmth would sometimes cause his mood to be at ease.
“Good grief, Tobio is completely useless against Sae-chan.”
Just like that she wore a small amused smile. Looking behind, the beloved grandmother had been there.
Tobio hurriedly moved away from Sae uttering excuses.
“This, This is……so, just a little…!”
Watching Tobio’s reaction, grandmother and Sae as well had nothing but pleasant smiles. It would not be so embarrassing for Tobio if the situation was reversed.
Tobio let out a deep breath despite the grandmother, stroking the Golden Retriever’s head. Suddenly the grandmother muttered.
“……It’s no use hating the dog, Tobio. One day, the child that has chosen you will……no, perhaps the child that has chosen you has appeared already.”
Those words that the grandmother had spoken, Tobio was unable to understand……yet as she watched the dog with a gentle gaze, despite how transient it was, those words were impossible to forget——.
When he woke up, it was his own room he saw. The room was dark.
——He’d been having a dream.
Of time spent with the two beloved people no longer present——.
Tobio wiped the tears he had unknowingly shed. Only shifting his gaze, he looked at the clock display in the room. It was already around midnight. ……He was still tired. Let him continue sleeping like this until morning. There’s school tomorrow, so it’d be good to have a bath in the morning.
That’s right, there’s an ‘egg’ in the bathroom. At that moment Tobio remembered the ‘egg’, as well as the incident with the monster, and also recalled the matter of Natsume.
——Go to bed.
In that way, Tobio made his choice. Being alone, he just wanted to sleep until morning without consideration for anything else.
He closed his eyes, shut down his consciousness.
……And yet, how he wondered. His mind was abuzz. His consciousness would not completely shut down. There was some kind of sensation enveloping his body. Tobio slowly opened his eyes. The room was dark. The only sound was that of the alarm clock needle ticking in the silence.
His mind was restless. Now why would that be?
Suddenly he looked towards the closed curtain. He reached towards it with his hand. By pulling a little bit, he looked out.
At that moment, Tobio’s body stiffened.
——From the gap in the curtain, there was someone peering in.
He closed the curtains in a panic. ……No, there’s no way! This was the fifth floor of the apartment complex. Moreover, the window next to the bed doesn’t have a balcony. On the other side of the window there’s nothing. Tobio got himself out of bed, and gingerly reached out to the curtain again. Vigorously, he pulled the curtain to see out the window. ——But no one was there.
As expected, did he imagine it? Having seen those kind of things earlier that evening, was he now having strange hallucinations?
Tobio opened the window, stuck only his head out, and restlessly looked around. Still, there was no change. There was no one there. Tobio let out a deep breath in relief. At that moment——.
Something fell onto Tobio’s head. He touched it with his hand. ……It was some kind of sticky liquid. ……The liquid had fallen from above?
Noticing a voice, at that moment Tobio abruptly looked up.
He looked up into a face smiling thinly. A gloomy boy of about the same age——something like a large spider with multiple legs was clinging to the wall of the condominium in an inverted posture.
The surprised Tobio, immediately drawing his head back into the room, intended to shut the window. ——But the spider monster was preventing the window from closing with its legs. Feeling fearful of the powerful strength that was being transmitted through the window, Tobio hurriedly took a step back from the spot.
The boy, meanwhile, entered slowly through the window accompanied by the spider monster. When he stood in the center of the room, he stared at Tobio while showing a thin smile.
“Found you. Imposter.”
With broken language, the boy said that. The accompanying spider monster turned towards him with a strange glint in its eyes.
Right, the being in front of him was the same as Sasaki’s from that evening. Someone with the guise of a fellow student had brought a monster. ……Could this one also have been a student of Ryoukuu High School? He was not an acquaintance. But, it was probably a fellow student. That is if Natsume’s words were to be believed.
After lizard is spider, huh…… Tobio felt it was apparently ironic that neither of them were good creatures to encounter.
……Either way, he’d be killed at this rate. In front of the boy’s eyes, the spider monster gave off an indescribable force that was the real deal. With all that killing intent directed at him, Tobio was instantly able to appreciate that.
With his body dominated by fear, Tobio began to run towards the door of the room. Something like spider’s silk came flying at his feet, but with difficulty he was somehow able to open the door while avoiding it. Having done so, he began passing through the living room at a run towards the entrance. Immediately, he tried to escape. This was best choice with the highest survival rate.
Tobio arrived at the entrance, removed the chain, and opened the door——. On the other side of the door, a lone girl was standing there. Beside her, what seemed like a giant frog monster sprang from the corner.
Speaking such words, the girl’s hand reached forward. In response to that, the frog that had sprung from the corner opened its massive mouth. Just like the lizard monster he saw in the evening, its reaching tongue had something like a claw resembling a sharp fang. In accordance with the girl’s instruction, the frog’s tongue came jumping out at Tobio!
While cursing, Tobio immediately stooped his body. He felt the air shift as the grotesque tongue cut through the air above him as it went passed. He had just barely managed to avoid it. Having just barely escaped that attack, he had no intention of taking any more.
Utsusemi, this girl as well!
Tobio somehow righted his posture, but there were footsteps approaching from behinds. Looking behind him, the boy and thing with the guise of a giant spider had reached the living room door. The girl and the frog monster were also invading from the entrance.
——He was caught between them.
The girl Utsusemi from the front, the boy Utsusemi from behind. The two of them gradually drew closer. In the middle of the hallway from the entrance to the living room, Tobio was in the abyss of despair.
——He’d be killed at this rate.
Mercilessly the two people who were Utsusemi have been inching closer. They had the appearance of classmates he did not know. Could he have been acquainted with them while they were alive? Aside from being killed by a classmate, getting killed by a classmate who doesn’t know him is highly unpleasant. In this predicament, Tobio had such thoughts circulating.
——But, the door to the changing room suddenly jumped into Tobio’s eyes. In that instant he was suddenly reminded.
In the bathrooms tub——was the ‘egg’! That right, he’d put the ‘egg’ over there.
——You don’t want it to die.
Natsume’s words were repeated in his mind. Remaining vigilant, Tobio steadily decreased his distance to the bathroom little by little.
As he was extending his hand towards the bathroom door, both of the Utsusemi reached out with their hands to direct their monsters. At the moment the monsters directed their killing intent at him, Tobio who was between them hurriedly moved to open the bathroom door. Taking the key in with him, he opened the door to the bathroom.
A moment later, he heard a loud noise from behind. Looking over his shoulder, he saw what looked the Utsusemi’s tentacle had pierced through the bathroom door. As expected, if something of flesh and blood was struck by that it wouldn’t just leave a hole for air to pass through.
Hurriedly, Tobio opened the bag he’s placed in the bathroom.
Tobio saw the contents of the bag, at a loss for words. The ‘egg’, which was the size of a softball——had been cracked.
Cracked? Since when? There weren’t supposed to be cracks here!
That what Tobio wondered, but it was certain that the ‘egg’ was broken……only the hard shell remained, though he could not confirm if this was evidence that something had been hatched.
(……There’s, there’s no way! Minagawa Natsume certainly said this was important! Without this, I’ll be killed!)
Tobio quickly searched the interior of the bathroom, but the contents of the ‘egg’ were nowhere in sight. While it sounded ridiculous, it was Tobio’s intuition that Minagawa Natsume’s hawk had come from such an ‘egg’——or otherwise he imagined that there would be some other organism inside. And thus, he had thought that when it emerged he’s be able to compete with the attacking Utsusemi. But instead it’s……empty?
No way, was what Minagawa Natsume said a lie? Or perhaps, could he have been given an empty ‘egg’ by mistake?
For Tobio who had thought of the ‘egg’ as his last hope, he began to gradually be overcome with despair. Mercilessly from behind, the sound of the progressive destruction of the door was heard.
……There was no way to escape. All that was left to do was wait to be killed.
Collapsing right there, Tobio trembled as time counted down to his death. ——Now, it was that time.
With his heart pounding from fear and tension——a very different pulsation and palpitation occurred in his body. Within his body——he attained a sense similar to something being produced from its depths, which until now hadn’t been there.
Little by little, though, from Tobio’s heart certainly——his entire body began to visibly pulsate, and a warm sensation was felt.
Indeed, there was ‘something’ unseen in his heart——. What the identity of this ‘something’ was, he knew not, only a sense of “soon it’ll be here”, was all he could understand. The pulsations did not stop. It was rapidly increasing. Simultaneously as the feeling of “the something will be here momentarily” that was approaching, there was also a feeling that it may be an illusion——no, it was certain that there was something emerging from Tobio’s body.
In the meantime, a loud sound was heard from behind. It would have to be the door being completely destroyed. From there, through the hole in the door, the boy Utsusemi’s face appeared. He had been caught.
After saying as much, the face was withdrawn, and the monster’s tongue stretched through the hole in the door and began trying to open the lock.
But, as if in response his heart had strengthened in the meantime, becoming increasingly faster.
Tobio put his hand of the bathroom shower. He turned on the water heater and put his hand on the faucet.
The boy Utsusemi accompanied by the spider entered through the now open bathroom door. As soon as it noticed his presence, its eyes narrowed as though with pleasure. The huge spider wriggled as it took aim at him.
Tobio faced the spider, and sprayed it with hot shower water that had been heated to the maximum temperature.
Hit in the front with the hot shower water, the spider that was completely covered suffered violently on the spot.
The counterattack had achieved payback——. That was such a fleeting thought, as from the boy Utsusemi’s side, the girl Utsusemi showed up with the frog monster.
As soon as the girl saw the shower Tobio was holding and the state of the spider, she hid half her body behind the bathroom entrance. The frog’s tongue with the tusk on the tip changed into a whip, which was swung straight at him.
Tobio instinctively dodged to the side, but as a result the frog’s tongue severed the shower he was holding. With the shower having lost its tip, the hose meanwhile sprayed hot water vigorously.
Unable to handle being bathed in hot water, Tobio was forced to stop the water immediately.
As Tobio tried to avoid the hot water on the bathroom floor the frog tongue attacked. The surprised Tobio put his foot in the boiling water on the floor, and immediately felt the heat as his foot slipped. Fortunately by slipping he avoided a direct hit from the tongue……but he lost his balance and fell back towards the bathtub.
In pain from hitting his waist on the bottom of the tub, Tobio shut his eyes. When he opened his eyes, the frog was looking down at him from in front. From behind, the spider monster was crawling along the bathroom walls while being wary.
Murderous intent——. There is no doubt that was being emitted from both of the monsters was pure blood lust. This was what Tobio felt with his whole body.
To be killed——.
……I don’t want that.
……This, an ending I don’t even know the reason for……I don’t want that at all……!
I don’t want to die——.
I don’t want to die I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die!
……Someone, help me.
It was when he became filled with that thought. Tobio was attacked by a bout of intense heartbeats.
His heart was beating so hard he thought others would surely hear it as well.
——Tobio. It’s okay.
At this moment, in this situation, it can be said that what unexpectedly reemerged in Tobio’s mind——was the voice of the old grandmother. With a wet wrinkled face, his grandmother was saying.
——Tobio. You are a blessed child. A child loved more than any other.
——However, Obaa-chan wants you to be even a little bit happy, Tobio.
——So therefore, Obaa-chan, for just a brief moment, put a seal on the blessed Tobio.
——But you know, I’m sure that one day you are going to see much more painful things than right now.
——Just remember this, Tobio. The other you that is within you will save you when no one else can.
When he was younger, his grandmother held him close, and muttered in this way. The words, despite being words he still cannot understand, are carved upon the very depths of Tobio’s soul.
——You are unique with this world, because “ ” has chosen you.
——Even if it’s just the imitation of the shell of “ ”.
Inaudible——the word he was unable to remember, yet even so, despite circumstances, the voice of his grandmother gave Tobio an ephemeral sense of nostalgia.
He was struck with a conspicuously large pulsation. For a moment, he lost sensation in his body and his consciousness blurred……but immediately he recovered back to his original state. But, the next moment, something flew at high speeds and passed the cheek of Tobio’ who had landed in the bathtub!
Before his eyes, the face of the frog monster with its tongue hanging out——was pierced by what appeared to be a blade. A blade had stretched to the ceiling while piercing through the frog. The frog monster was swiftly slammed into the bathroom ceiling. Seeing that, perceiving that there was danger, the spider monster vanished from Tobio’s sight.
He himself collapsed into the bath tub. There behind him——was the bottom of the tub. What was it that had jump out from back there?
After regaining his posture, Tobio looked where the blade had come from.
——From the his own shadow, a single sharp blade had emerged.
As Tobio watched with bated breath, the shadow he was projecting wriggled as though possessing a purpose. The shadow gradually took shape——and it’s appearance was astonishing.
What had emerged from the shadow was a single puppy with black fur.
The puppy’s forehead had a sharp protuberance——the blade had sprout from there. The puppy jumped out of the tub, pulling the blade out from the frog it had pierced to the ceiling. The frog monster fell to the floor, still alive despite the large amount of blood flowing from its face.
The frog monster, still possessing a hole drilled in its face, again attacked with its tongue’s sharp tusk that it has used on Tobio——only it fired it at the puppy.
*Zashu~*, such a cutting sound resounded in the bathroom.
——Flesh was scattered. The monster’s tongue, and even its whole body, was sliced to pieces, its flesh scattered all over the bathroom. The puppy had jumped out instantly and chopped the frog with the blade on its forehead……!!
Systematically, the jet black puppy jumped from wall to wall of the bathroom, instantly carving up the frog monster, and now went after the initial spider monster.
With the loss of the frog monster, the girl Utsusemi lost consciousness and collapsed on the spot.
As for the spider monster that accompanied the boy, having judged the situation to be hazardous, it began to withdraw. The puppy did not permit this, and it grew blades from its back like wings to close the distance.
Tobio was astonished by this series of events.
……From his own shadow, a puppy……was born? Instead of the ‘egg’, it emerged from the shadows? This dog that can grows blades. That blade, it instantly turned the frog monster into chunks of meat.
Although phenomenon that exceed the imagination kept occurring one after another, the black puppy before his eyes gave him a powerful feeling of ‘something’. Just like earlier, that pulsating feeling——was no different from than that from this puppy. This small black dog that he’d called on his own. No, did he call this dog……?
As the boy Utsusemi was retreating, the black puppy, not failing to realize, closed the distance in an instant. The black puppy, like a black bullet, shot right passed the side of the spider monster. When all had subsided, the spider monster that had been following the boy lost its strength. A beat later, and the spider’s body split in half. Having lost the spider, the boy dramatically dropped in place just as the girl had before.
In less than one minute’s worth of time, the puppy had dispatched the bodies of the two monsters.
And suddenly it was silent. The Utsusemi weren’t moving. After a while, what looked like a magic circle emerged again under the Utsusemi and monsters, which then vanished in a flash of light.
……Only Tobio and the puppy were left behind in the bathroom. The puppy twitched its ears, and began to utilize its nose. Probably noticing something, the puppy vigorously leapt out of the bathroom. As it left the bathroom Tobio followed it.
He caught up to the puppy in the living room. Looking down at the scene, Tobio was at a loss for words.
Because a huge feathered organism had been waiting in the center of the room. The living room window had been broken. The creature had feathers, like an insect its head, chest, and abdomen were divided into three, it also had six legs, but the head, rather than looking like that of an insect, looked more like a reptile’s. The strange creature looked a moth’s body with a lizard’s head stuck on. Of course, the main point was the boy beside it that had invaded the room.
But, even in front of such a monster, the black puppy that had grown a blade was poised without any cowardice whatsoever. The puppy rushed into without hesitation. To avert its aim, the monster rose slightly——but the puppy instantly reacted by kicking off the wall to continue its pursuit. Continuing the hectic chase, in a flash two of the monsters legs had been cut off.
Because of its bulk, the winged monster’s maneuverability was limited in the room. Correspondingly, the black dog’s small body was highly preferable for maneuverability. The way it was, the puppy’s method would end it through tactics.
In this way while Tobio was grasping the situation, the monster’s principle boy was visibly instructing the monster with wide, mowing hand motions. The feathered monster gave off a dull glint in its eyes, and as the puppy launched its second attack——it deliberately let itself get struck head on! This meant that the puppy’s blade would easily pierce deeply into the monster’s chest, but it also allowed the monster to tightly grab the puppy with its remaining four legs. With things as they were, it flapped its wing and rushed out from inside of the room.
——The puppy was taken outside!
This was bad. This place was an upstairs apartment. Supposing that his expectation was correct, the monster’s aim was——seemingly for it to fall from a great height. The monster intended to drop the puppy from high in the sky. Even if it was an alien dog that sprouts blades, if it was dropped from such a height……!!
Tobio, worried about the dog, decided to target the boy employing the feathered monster. After somehow or another gaining some distance, he quickly threw a nearby pot with all his strength at the boy’s back, hitting his body. After letting out a choking voice, the boy fell dramatically where he was.
Having confirmed this, Tobio ran immediately to the balcony. The thought of the puppy’s being taken into the sky was disturbing.
Having come to the balcony Tobio saw something in the moonlight——it was the monster flying in the air in front of the apartment while holding the puppy. If it wasn’t for the four legs holding the puppy that pierced its chest, it would have fallen at that very moment just then——. *Bashu-*, resounding in the night sky, a dull smashing sound was heard.
The image in Tobio’s eye then, was a gigantic sword that had appeared in the moonlight. Tobio had clearly witnessed the moment of its appearance. In that way, just before the monster was about to drop it, the puppy’s body emitted a frail light. The next moment, the puppy had undergone a transformation into a single giant blade, which pierced the body of the winged monster and scattered it.
The huge blade fell on the roof in front of the apartment.
……Tobio took a breath. In the moonlight in front of him, there was an irregular sword stuck in the roof of an apartment building.
Tobio’s mind remembered from that.
—— It’s no use hating the dog, Tobio. One day, the child that has chosen you will……no, perhaps the child that has chosen has appeared already.
Ahh, Baa-chan. This is what you were talking about? But, was it——.
Tobio pressed a hand against his vigorously pulsating chest. The reason it was like that, was it fear. Or was it, perhaps, that he never expected himself to attain such power——.
“……Yours is amazing.”
From behind he was heard a third party let out a strangled voice.
He was surprised to see the appearance of Minagawa Natsume enter his sight on the roof of the apartment. She had come to visit just as she had promised.
“Are you okay? I was a little slow.”
She looked at him while worried. Tobio sat on the spot, his mind inattentive, and replied, “Somehow.”
When the light faded, as he checked to make sure of the winged monster’s master, he swallowed the words, “I wish you’d come a bit sooner.”——
After the series of attacks had ended, as he emerged from the corridor, he looked toward the living room where the falcon was perched upon the sofa.
“I was also surprised. Having communicated with you at the family restaurant this evening, I was going to come over and talk things over with you, but you were under attack when I got here. By three of them no less. That must have been tough for your second battle.”
Natsume casually said that. Coming under attack by three people, and from this girl’s perspective the only word to describe it is “tough”.
Natsume let out a voice saying, “How cute!” She was currently holding the puppy. When it turned into a blade, the black puppy ended up stuck on the roof of the apartment, so Natsume’s hawk carried it back up to here. As the hawk was flying to the roof, the puppy resumed its original appearance.
——Blades appear from of its body!
But, despite Tobio’s worrying Natsume held the puppy whose body was now free of blades. Wagging its tail like a normal puppy, it was being fawned on by Natsume.
That puupy’s small body of jet-black fur contained the strength that slaughtered those monsters. Extending blades from its whole body, it had demonstrated such an incredible power.
“Well, let’s get out of here.”
Natsume made such a proposal.
“To think I had hoped to remain here for a while, but it can’t be helped. Please go pack some luggage, but only the basic necessities. Our opponent knows about your house. Besides, even if you defeated them once, after one hour, no perhaps after thirty minutes they will attack again, right?”
Tobio agreed that the danger had only passed temporarily.
“……With a commotion such as this, I wonder if someone reported it.”
Tobio suddenly spoke aloud such a thought.
Right, the window was broken, and the bathroom had been destroyed up to the door. With such disruptive sounds, it would not be surprising if the nearby residents started an uproar. However, Minagawa Natsume shook her head.
“……They finish preparations before an attack, so such a commotion does not occur. Everyone would have remained asleep.”
……He could not understand the significance of what she had so calmly mentioned. It was beyond Tobio’s ability to comprehend. However, this couldn’t be said to be a joke, since it felt like this sense of abnormality was just the current state of affairs.
Natsume turns with a smile and says.
“Since I know of a good place to hide from them, let’s go there.”
“A place to hide?”
“Yup, it’s where I live now. It’s a place one can safely spend time while feeling safe from the Utsusemi. Therefore, because I’ll tell you many things you need to know, you should quickly get ready to go!”
Pushing on Tobio’s back, Natsume hurriedly urged him on.
“Is there truly such a good place? I mean, we could clean up here——“
“Dah! Listen here, go get your luggage ready!! It’s not safe here! If you try and complain, Onee-san will drag you there by your underpants.”
As one might expect, thinking Natsume’s explosive word were indeed troubling, Tobio stopped raising objections and decided to return to his room to pick up his luggage.
Tobio and Natsume continued down the road late at night.
Tobio was carrying two large bags, one on his shoulder and the other in his hand. These large bags, which back at the house had been filled with only the minimum necessary things, were being carried as he followed Natsume, who was walking through the streets at night.
“At any rate, it’s safer to leave populated areas.”
As Tobio carried the heavy luggage, he did his best to keep up with Natsuem’s quick pace. ——To Tobio’s rear, the puppy came following after him while trotting.
Suddenly Natsume’s expression completely changed. She directed her sharp gaze in Tobio’s direction. Her gaze was focused on what was behind Tobio.
As Tobio look looked back, he saw the black puppy that had been following him was directing its attention at the darkness just shy of the lamp’s light, and was baring its fangs menacingly.
As it stared at the dark road with narrowed eyes, a gradually approaching figure appeared.
Tobio uttered anxiously while gulping.
A boy steadily approached, looking eerily emotionless, giving rise to a feeling that he lacked a spirit. By his side, there was a snake monster that had appeared from around the corner.
Tobio and Natsume each exchanged a glance with the other. This was determine their next action. To flee, or to fight.
But before they could do so, suddenly a flame-like phenomenon wound around the snake’s body! The serpent was blazing fiercely on the dark road, and with its body writhing, it was turned into charcoal——.
While Tobio was at a loss of words at this occurrence, Natsume, upon seeing the phenomenon, let out a sigh of relief.
With the serpent’s death, the accompanying classmate——the Utsusemi was also transferred away by the magic circle. With that phenomenon having been verified, the sound of steady footsteps was heard.
Appearing out of the darkness, a strange looking blonde girl stepped into the light. Also, the reason she was strange looking, she was dressed in a cloak and a pointed hat. Though she looked foreign, she was dressed as though it was a witch cosplay. He found himself surprisingly fascinated by her graceful appearance. Although it hard to judge with foreigners, could she possibly be……about the same age as him.
The girl dressed as a witch, fixing her blue eyes upon Tobio and Natsume, spoke.
“You were slow, Natsume. You accidentally brought them with you to meet me?”
Natsume took an apologetic pose saying, “Sorry, sorry,” to the girl. She was fluent in Japanese. Apparently she was acquainted with Minagawa Natsume… Starting with the combustion phenomenon, with all the successively occurring incidents, Tobio’s comprehension couldn’t keep up with it all.
Natsume approached the bewildered Tobio, taking one of the bags from his hands.
“Let’s go. They will attack in this deserted area. Since we can’t go to any populated areas, we have to leave this area quickly.”
In response to Natsume’s serious tone, Tobio nodded, and they hastened away.
“Come now, enter enter.”
Late at night, Tobio had finally arrived the safe place Natsumi had spoken of——a certain apartment building. Allegedly a hideout in the forest, what he’d imagined was a place separated from urban areas, turned out to actually be place about ten minutes from the neighboring station. The appearance was also that of a very common apartment building, but……
While Tobio was still feeling a touch of uncertainty about whether they would really be safe from attack in a place like this, he was invited into a particular apartment. A sofa and TV, a DVD player, just a modest room of shelves.
Pointing a finger at the blond girl, Natsume spoke again.
“This girl is Lavinia. As a resident who lives in this hideout, she is our ally for the time being.”
The blonde girl——Lavinia bowed simple and said, “Please take care of me.”
After she finished this light greeting, with a rustling sound, Natsume began searching the shelves that furnished the room.
“Well then, so——first of all, you seek confirmation.”
Natsume, having spoken thus, then removed a specific DVD and inserted it into the player.
“Is that what you’ve been looking for since we arrived?”
Tobio inquired of Natsume.
“……It’s for reaffirming the circumstances of yourself and Natsume.”
The answer was surprisingly given by the blonde girl Lavinia.
Tobio began intently watching the video image that had appeared on the TV screen. It was news program covering a certain ship’s major maritime accident. It wasn’t something he didn’t know. For the last two months, that incident had been the greatest upheaval of his life.
The Heavenly of Aloha incident——.
The luxury liner that he and Natsume were supposed to have boarded. It had sunk along with their classmates, this ship with a ‘divine’ name. Although the video had no sound, Natsume also showed a complicated look. Not just Tobio, she should also have been suffering these two months, carrying a mental wound from the loss of her classmates.
The video changed. What the screen now showed, it was somewhere in a city environment. In the video, similar to those taken with a home video camera, a group of young men and women were shown.
Tobio continued to watch with furrowed eyebrows.
“Is that……Yada……? Kojima……?”
Tobio was at a loss for words. Groups of young people were shown successively. There were many faces he recognized. Images of groups of young people were shown successively without pause. It was not fifty or a hundred.
The video was showing people that Tobio, until a moment ago, had believed their whereabouts to be unknown. However, the time stamp on the video, was a digital number indicating a period in June just half a month ago——.
The two-hundred thirty-three Ryoukuu high school sophomores still said to be missing. In reality, the chances of survival was practically nonexistent. But, on the video in front of him, everyone whose whereabouts was unknown was alive and active.
……While he didn’t understand why they were leading monsters, or what their reason was for targeting them, they……all of them were still alive?
Then, not only the classmates, but Sae as well——.
Tobio realized that from deep within himself, he could feel a glimmer of hope. His broken heart felt like it was healing little by little. But, that brittle feeling vanished with the next video.
One of the male classmates was shown on the screen. There was a monster like a crocodile at his side. From the monster’s mouth, a tongue languidly extended. ……No, it was a tentacle.
Other classmates were shown on the screen leading a variety of different monsters. Like the frog, spider, snake, and lizard he had just met…… Some looked like huge insects such as moths and mantises. There were ominous monsters who size was impossible to determine, and also those with distorted appearances. They were monsters almost like those out of movies and games.
They were stretching their tentacle-like tongues, seizing a live pig. While the video had no sound, the appearance alone was tragic, as the monsters tore up the live pige, and devoured it. Blood was dripping from the edge of the monsters’ mouths.
Tobio clutched at his mouth, while desperately bearing the feeling of vomiting that entered his throat, as he squinted at the video.
Natsume, who had seen the video once before, was also unable to look directly at the scene.
After that, Natsume’s explanation continued to mix with the video. The content was the ecology of the monsters and how to deal with them.
Although his head felt strange, Tobio somehow kept his presence of mind, and with a meek expression proceeded to fill his head with the information.
This is what Tobio understood——.
These creatures, they were monsters with frightening special abilities and high physical capabilities. For a petty attack, it would not be possible to cut the flesh beneath the skin. Even if it was cut, their uncommon resilience would allow them to seal the wound immediately.
For defeat, the nucleus or the head must be destroyed. It seems the nucleus is in the position which for a human would be called the heart. Their weaknesses were fundamentally no different than other living things. However, they were much sturdier than ordinary creatures.
She kept describing them as “monsters” as she spoke.
“This video, photographically documenting the truth of these peculiar roots, has been kept hidden by people like us. By no means is this CG, nor is it acting. They are the Ryoukuu high school sophomores who went missing in the maritime disaster. Our classmates. And now, they are controlling genuine monsters. Paired with their monster, they apparently are named——Utsusemi.”
Natsume said so indifferently.
“By Utsusemi, we mean things like imitations created by a certain organization existing in this country, people with artificial supernatural abilities——they would be categorized as something like Inou Tsukai (Special ability users). They are being manipulated by the organization.”
……. In the present situation there wasn’t really anything to say.
……Tobio thought it was a ridiculous story.
Supernatural power to control monsters? Created by an organization somewhere in Japan? Moreover, manipulating classmates into attacking them? It’s like a story from a manga or fictional movie. If he hadn’t actually experienced it, he absolutely wouldn’t have believed it. He would have judged it to be some human’s crazy delusion.
But——there was no choice but to believe it. In was true they were pursued and attacked by a monster. And that which opposed it——the black puppy that grew a blade from its forehead.
Looking at the puppy snuggled up beside him, the circumstances ensured that Tobio was unable to agree that these were crazy reckless statements.
“The Utsusemi, the operators that control the monsters——their bodies are only able to function as a set. And those bodies, our classmates who participated in the trip, there are 233 of them.”
To Tobio who was at a loss for words, Natsume asserted thus.
“And, they returned to Japan for the sake of killing the surviving students——me and you.”
“This is no joke!”
Tobio’s few words of reproach.
It was natural of course. It’s because he was being targeted by classmates who’ve become monsters.
It really is not a joke. However, what came to mind was the monsters that had attacked earlier——the Utsusemi. The hostility they harbored, that bloodlust was genuine. The evidence was that they’d certainly come to kill him personally.
“There’s no doubt we will continue to be targeted in the future. They have been directed to target us who survived by not participating in the trip. It’s because the organization that’s manipulating them from the shadows desires to obtain us by any means.”
“Just a moment……. Why are they targeting us?”
The question Tobio wanted answered most. What the heck was the main reason they were targeting him and Minagawa Natsume——having thought it over, that was all Tobio could come to. Gingerly Tobio looked at the puppy sitting beside him.
Also turning to her hawk, Natsume spoke.
“It seems to be that kind of thing. My Griffon, that puppy of Ikuse-kun’s, things that are similar to yet completely different to the monsters accompanying them.”
“——Sacred treasures. They are called Sacred Gears. So to speak, they are unusual powers called that. However, these are natural——you were born with this power. It’s also not such a rare thing. Many of those whose names have been recorded in history as well modern-day successful athletes have unknowingly possessed such power. However, in order for its distinct form to be realized, it is a necessary condition that one possess a certain amount of ability.”
Lavinia spoke indifferently. She seemed to be suffering from judgement from elsewhere.
“To say it in even more complete detail, the creatures you and Natsume were born with are classified as “Independent Avatar Type” Sacred Gears. And, the Utsusemi are artificial imitations of “Independent Avatar Type” Sacred Gears.”
…………Unintelligible words being heard one after the other, Tobio’s brain was on the verge of a blowout.
……Sacred treasure? Sacred……Gear……? That’s what his own puppy and Minagawa Natsume’s hawk were, and the monsters accompanying the students that were attacking them……those were fake copies of them?
Natsume proceeded with the story without regard.
“The organization that uses the Utsusemi desired to obtain something like us by any means. Our abilities which could not be taken at the destination are absolutely necessary to them. To that end, they exerted influence over that trip to make use of the students of Ryoukuu High school. Causing their whereabouts to become unknown, they seem to have believed that such a change in circumstances would be good for them. By using our classmates, I wonder if they’re thinking they could entice us into being careless. And now, those that are being manipulated, that last one tried to attack us by himself——that seems to be the case.”
“What do you mean by “seems to” and “something like” that you’ve been saying for a while? Who taught Minagawa-san these things?”
Tobio asked this of Natsume, as she removed the DVD from the player. With the DVD in one hand she spoke.
“I was taught from the person who gave me this. That supposed ‘Governor General’ of theirs. When I received this video footage, which I just showed Ikuse-kun, I received this explanation.”
For Natsume and now Tobio as well, neither could hide their agitation. Even Natsume had suffered such unacceptable things, such as not being prepared for successive attacks by the Utsusemi.
“Additionally, I received three ‘eggs’ from that ‘Governor General’. I am the “official” who was placed in charge of distributing the eggs. To be given such odd jobs, I wonder. Ugh.”
“What kind of person is he? This ‘Governor General’.”
Natsume also shakes her head at Tobio’s question.
“Hmm, not even I know. It appears that Lavinia and the other residents living here are aware of him, but as far as discussing the ‘Governor General’s’ true identity, it’s being kept a secret. But, I was told Ikuse-kun and I would be able to sort of meet him once I handed over the last egg.”
“……That’s right, I’ve been wondering. What exactly was that ‘egg’?”
Natsume followed up a beat later.
“It’s a Sacred Gear manifestation ‘egg’. Even my Griffon-chan was born from the ‘egg’. It’s should be something that’s for the sake of drawing out my inherent ability. He said something about it being like an ability triggering device. The ‘Governer General’ does that sort of research. I mean, wasn’t your puppy also born from there? It was a surprise, right! That dogs and birds would be born from within!”
——She answered merrily.
At Natsume’s answer, Tobio stared at the black puppy that was wagging its tail nearby.
……No, this puppy was not hatched from the ‘egg’. This dog had emerged from his own shadow. ……Could that possess some sort of significance…….
However, the ‘egg’ was empty. Perhaps it was hatched then, so it might be a thing that was manifested.
Natsume was gently stroking the head of Griffon who was perched on the back of a chair.
“My Griffon——this hawk has helped me many times. Besides, that ‘Governer General’ said, ‘It’s the only thing that can support us. They will dispose of any danger that befalls us. It’s the fate of those who have a Sacred Gear.’”
……Really, it’s an unreasonable story.
Tobio’s bewildered heart was filled with anger that had no place to go.
What this meant for Tobio and Minagawa Natsume, was that they possessed supernatural powers. A certain organization in this country, desiring their powers, attacked that luxury liner. However, since they were not on board the ship, the damage received was that it was their classmates whose lives were disrupted, as were those of the sailors who were unrelated. ……Was it because of them, no, because of him that so much sacrifice was brought into this world?
Was it his fault that Sasaki……his classmates, and now Sae were their captives, and were being manipulated……?
……Then again, on the flip side, could they even still be considered alive……?
Sae——are you alive?
“……There’s just one thing, I’d like to ask, everyone……are our fellow classmates still alive?”
He could not consent. To this non-anticipatable, unilateral theft of his classmates. They’d been converted in Utsusemi or something in order to commad the monsters. It was——their fault.
Sae was snatched away by those unknown people, her existence has been transformed to accompany a monster……
Natsumi was smiling broadly.
“Yeah, they’re alive. Indeed, even my best friend, although now an Utsusemi, is most definitely alive.
Hearing those words, Tobio became extremely excited in his heart.
……They’re alive. ……Sae was also alive……!! No matter what condition she was in……Sae was not dead!! She was alive!
Welling up from within Tobio there was now a feeling of tremendous vitality and energy.
Until some time ago, do to a series of unreasonable incidents, fear of monsters dominating his spirit, but now he was able to understand that he couldn’t not believe if he was going to gather his strength.
——For Sae and his classmates who were being controlled, was there really no way to reverse the process?
At which point, Natsume continued to speak while peering at Tobio’s face, which was alight with passion.
“So, let’s change topics here. ……Won’t you team up with me?”
Smiling Natsume made that proposal.
“You should team up with me. And teamed up, together we will defeat the organization behind the Utsusemi. After all, isn’t it anxious being alone? Against some 200 or more people? There’s not even ten of us students who survived the trip by not participating. It’s a simple calculation, that’s a quota of more than 20 for each individual. If we act poorly, it’s unknown if there may be more.”
“’If we act ‘poorly’, what?”
“Isn’t it unknown how many people may be captured from among us remaining survivors?”
Abruptly, Natsume said something frightening while being almost expressionless.
“Normally, I wouldn’t fight a classmate. Because I’m close with that girl, because that girl seems so likable. Whatever happens, I’ll hesitate if she appears before me.”
He could sense a strong determination from Natsume’s tone.
“Of the two that were attacking me, the one in glasses was my close friend. Since the beginning of high school, I’ve been together with that friend forever. She aimed to kill me without any hesitation…… Again and again I cried out to stop but, that girl was just filled to the brim with murderous impulse. Afterwards, when I was informed by the ‘Governor General’ about the series of circumstances, it was clear that something was born inside me——that girl is alive. If they’re alive, then I can save them! Now Ikuse-kun’s thoughts must have reached the same conclusion.”
Natsume declared her decision to resolve herself to occasionally fight those classmates.
Tobio observed Natsume’s eyes. Different from her when she used a joking manner, she was expressing a countenance of resilience and seriousness. Strength was transmitting from her pupils.
It’s a courtesy. The greatest proposal from her. Given the current situation, two people felt more reassuring than one person. When fighting the monsters, such as when they assailed his home, it was a good approach to have achieved a small component of victory.
Suddenly, he directs his gaze towards the black puppy sitting before his eyes. Able to grow a blade on its head, and even transform its body into a huge blade-like object. It was clearly a kind of monster. But——. Unlike the monster that attacked him, he couldn’t feel any hostility or malice. Simply for those pupils to express such gentle radiance.
……To consider her to be an ally. To believe that a ray of hope can be obtained even in these strange circumstance.
Even if that’s just a substitute that has overcome reality, if it has the “strength” to change the current circumstances——he will cling to it.
“——I’ll save them, all of them.”
And then, Sae will——.
Tobio’s declaration was strong. Resolution and determination were born in his mind, his objective was decided.
For example, even if a classmate would be attacking, he would not hesitate to defeat them. He believed that to be the only way to save them——. That would probably happen on the road ahead, the existence that had warped their destiny. Of those people, he was going to save everyone. At that time, everything that has been stolen will be returned.
Natsume had a genuinely surprised look. Perhaps, it was due to the unexpected reply.
Readily approaching, she drew near to visibly confirm Tobio’s face.
“Thank you! Really really!”
Before she’d finished speaking, she had seized his hand and was shaking it up and down.
“A,aah……. If it wasn’t for your help, I think I wouldn’t have been able to deal with all this.”
Simply by hearing Tobio’s words, her whole face broke into a smile as she made a guts pose.
“Alright, with this we have our fourth comrade!”
With a puzzled thought, Tobio asked in response. Natsume pointed her finger at the blonde girl.
“Right, Lavinia is also an ally. Then there’s an essential support personnel from the ‘Governor General’. That is to say, although the residents of this apartment building all have special circumstances, they’re not all bad people. I’ll introduce you later. He’s just a cheeky brat though. And then, there’s one person left, the young man I had needed to pass the last ‘egg’ onto. He’s also from the group of Ryoukuu High School survivors.”
Expressionlessly, Lavinia raised her hand.
“My best regards. Roughly speaking, I’m a magical girl.”
……Ma, magical girl……? From Lavinia’s statement, the image of the combustion phenomenon that happened before on the road passed through his mind.
In spite of Tobio having no choice but to incline his head, the delightful Natsume declared:
“Then, our next action is settled!”
“Eeh, we now have to join up with the young man I delivered one of the ‘eggs’ to. That young man is also moving to this hideout temporarily, he just went traveling outside for some reason. Though, since the classmates who are Utsusemi also survived, it feels strange for us to be considered survivors.”
To the grumbling Natsume who was muttering something, Tobio asked again.
“About that, who is it?”
“It’s Samejima Kouki. Anyway, let’s move into this apartment building as a headquarters.”
Samejima Kouki——Tobio was startled to hear that name.
It wasn’t a name he hadn’t heard before. At the original Ryoukuu High School, he was known as one of the delinquents——.