Chapter 1: Part 7
It would have been a shame to just go home right after the Planetarium, so I invited Tomonori to go eat with me.
We went into a department store nearby and strolled through the store’s row of restaurants. Should we go for Italian, or traditional Japanese? We laughed together and pointed to the samples set in front of the restaurants as we leisurely made our decision. And while all that was happening, Tomonori kept on briefly glancing behind her.
I did notice. Or, rather, it would have been hard not to notice.
There were two girls chasing behind us, carrying awfully large suitcases.
“Tomonori, ignore them. If you pay attention to them, they win.”
It seemed like Tomonori just couldn’t ignore them.
I guess I had no choice. I would go and tell them off quickly.
“Wait here for just a second.” With that one word, I quickly headed for Haruna and Sera.
Haruna was wearing a shirt and short jeans. Sera was in jeans and a camisole with a three-quarter sleeved V-neck over it.
“Why are you two here?”
“I-it’s obviously just a huge coincidence!”
“Liar. Sera, what’s the meaning of this?”
“If you must know, I held a brainstorming session to find out how to disrupt your happiness, and that’s why I am here.”
“That’s so not nice!”
“Haruna-san won’t forgive you for going on a date!”
Haruna tried to intimidate me, her mouth opened as wide as a dinosaur ready to spit out radiation. Exactly who did she think she was?
“By the way, Ayumu! Take a look at this!”
Before I could tell them to go home, Haruna triumphantly held up her large suitcase.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s obviously your bentou! It’s really delicious, ya know?!”
Gulp. I could feel myself salivating just at the thought of Haruna’s cooking. Not good, not good. I came here to tell these two to go home…
“Is there somewhere we can eat this?”
“Why don’t we go up to the roof?”
Hey, ugh, Sera… Let go of my hands. Was she trying to use force?! She caught my arms and began to pull me along.
What amazing power. Did I do something to make her angry or something?
Tomonori just stood there and stared at us with her mouth dangling open, and it took all my strength to mumble to her that we were going to the roof to eat.
We rode the elevator and went out onto the roof. The sky was already dark, and there weren’t many people around.
As we stood on that roof, surrounded by decorative plants and lamps, Haruna put the stacked boxes on the table and opened them up.
“Tomonori, sorry about this.”
“Hm? Ahh, it’s fine, I don’t mind… I’m satisfied! At least we could be together… Haha.”
Sera’s jade-colored eyes stared like daggers at Tomonori. Tomonori responded with a bitter smile and a forced laugh, going into a long stretch.
“Maybe I really should head back first.”
It must have been awkward to be here with Sera. Sera, meanwhile, was probably thinking about the possibility that Tomonori would try to kill her. So she was definitely on her guard. Well, it wasn’t like they would try to kill each other in a public place like this, but it was still definitely a rather explosive situation.
Perhaps she felt guilty when she saw Tomonori stand up with a lonely expression, but Haruna grabbed Tomonori by the arm.
“H-hey… You stay and eat too.”
“Eh? It’s fine. I don’t get hungry, so…”
“It’s the truth! I’m-“ Growwwwlll.
And again with that. Why did this girl always insist that she wasn’t hungry?
Tomonori’s face flushed deep red, and Haruna nodded energetically.
“The minute you think about your stomach is the minute you get hungry.”
“I-I’m not hungry!”
From then on, Tomonori was as cheerful as she always was.
“Let’s eat together then.”
I smiled at Tomonori. Meals were definitely more fun when there were more people.
“It’s fine, right Sera?”
“It’s not like I mind…”
Sera still seemed to have Tomonori on her mind. It was obvious that she thought she had a right to be here and Tomonori didn’t. Sera’s pretty, jade-colored eyes were filled with animosity.
“Sera, relax. Tomonori isn’t like the other vampire ninjas. Don’t look scary like that.”
“Your face is what’s scary. Scary in how disgusting it is, I mean.”
“Maybe I really should-“
“It’s fine, Tomonori. Let’s eat together! Please.”
“I-if Aikawa wants to eat together that much…”
Tomonori scratched the head of her nose as she returned to her seat. And then Tomonori and I smiled at each other.
“Somehow, seeing you two smile like that makes me want to hit you with a five iron.”
Why?! Haruna pouted and watched me quietly.
All right, what was for dinner today?
With much anticipation, I opened up the boxes and saw… What was this jelly thing that seemed like it would recharge me in 10 seconds? (1) And the stuff over there just looked like biscuits to me.
“I tried to make fugu and foie gras into meals that could be eaten on a space shuttle!”
What a horrible waste! What the hell was up with that meat thing that looked like canned cat food?
I was about to complain, but instead I took a bite. Haruna’s cooking was amazing no matter how it looked.
Geez… Just look at that. It was definitely delicious.
Dammit, what was that? The seasoning and texture were just sublime. Yeah, that’s all I could say.
Tomonori just sat there and watched me, and I could see her gulping.
“Come on, Tomonori, eat some.”
“Maybe I really should-“
“Mael Strom. Just so you know, there’s really no need for you to go on a diet.”
Tomonori’s true intentions were seen through by Sera, and she blushed red from ear to ear.
“It’s fine, just eat some. I think it’d be fun to watch you eat.”
When she heard that, Tomonori seemed satisfied with that as an excuse. “Well, if Aikawa wants it that badly…” she said, and took a bite of the cat-food-looking meat.
“Amazing! I’ve never had anything like this before!!”
Without another word, Tomonori took out a bottle of sesame oil from her bag. Did she really carry around dressings like that with her all the time?
“Tomonori, you better not put that on there.”
“Eh? I can’t?”
Tomonori looked like she was near tears, so I passed her the bentou box lid. She could use it as a small personal plate.
“Ugh, I kinda want to take a full swing at Ayumu with a sand wedge now…”
Seriously, why?! Haruna pouted and watched me quietly.
Sera couldn’t seem to pick up the jelly with her chopsticks. She looked bewildered and proceeded to only eat the cat-food-looking thing.
Tomonori was stuffing her face with the jelly, which was now drenched in sesame oil, and looked like she was in a state of supreme bliss.
“Amaaaazing~~! This is seriously great! Where do they sell this?!”
“Hueh? I made all this myself. Ah, this thing here is called Bahamut’s foie gras.”
Fatty liver from the dragon king… That sounded sort of depressing.
“Awesome!! Can I call you ‘master’?!”
“Master… A-are you talking to me?”
Haruna seemed a bit annoyed, but then her cheeks flushed red.
“Master! Teach me how to cook!”
“Hueh?” Haruna stared in bewilderment, but then smiled. She didn’t seem all too unsatisfied with Tomonori’s words.
“Well… I mean… I guess that’s nyot a bad idea.”
Ny… Nyot? She said nyot, didn’t she? I couldn’t help but look again at Haruna as she blushed.
Was she wearing cat ears or something?! That was way too cute!
“Thank you! Thank you master!”
“I-it’s not like I want to or anything, all right?!”
“Did you hear that, Aikawa?! Soon I’ll be able to make things that’ll make you squirm too!”
As she said that, Tomonori grinned. And then…
“No, no, I don’t think I can do this anymore! I definitely can’t!! Ugaaaah!” Haruna cried out.
We heard a single cough, so all three of us turned towards the beauty with the jade eyes and ponytail.
“Next is my turn.”
And then Sera puffed out her chest.
Don’t tell me… I thought.
“Haruna… Did you let Sera into the kitchen?”
“Nah. I… don’t think she went in even once.”
“Yes, Haruna wouldn’t let me into the kitchen no matter what, so it really was quite a bother.”
As she said that, Sera took out a huge roll of cloth that was even bigger than Haruna’s box. She laid it on the table. Where in the world had she been hiding that thing? Damn ninja.
And that cloth really looked weird. I wondered why the cloth was in the shape of a vase, but when Sera opened the cloth up, I saw that it was definitely a vase. But I didn’t have the courage to peek and see what was inside.
“Well, go ahead.”
Tomonori peered into the vase, seeming very interested. Tomonori-san, how fearless are you?!
“Hm? There’s nothing inside.”
Tomonori picked up the vase, turned it upside down, and shook it. However, nothing came out.
“Well, Ayumu. Please bite into it.”
“Into this vase?”
As I thought! That vase was the final product!
“T-this isn’t food. This is pottery, isn’t it?”
“What a strange thing to say. No matter how you look at it, this is obviously gyoza.”
“This was supposed to be gyoza?!”
Even Haruna ended up butting in at that shocking revelation.
“Yes. To make gyoza skin, you have to spin the potter’s wheel like this… And then, oh my, how strange.”
“It’s too strange, isn’t it?! It’s so strange it’s making my nose run!”
“But I wonder how it tastes…”
Tomonori seemed to begin to show an interest in the vase… Don’t tell me she was going to… Tomonori, don’t you value your own life?!
“Please, Mael Strom, feel free to take a bite.”
Perhaps she was incredibly happy that someone was showing interest in her cooking, but Sera went from making a scary face to giving a smile. Tomonori probably couldn’t see it… Couldn’t see the form of the Grim Reaper standing behind that vase, beckoning to her.
“All right then! Thanks for the meal!”
Tomonori put dressing on the vase near the opening, then opened her mouth wide and bit into the vase with abandon.
She bit into the vase with a satisfied grin on her face, like a boy would bite into one of his favorite snacks.
She bit into the vase, smiling brightly all the while.
And then time stopped for Tomonori.
Like a flame blown out of a candle, the light from Tomonori’s eyes disappeared.
“A… ika… wa… Help… Abnormality detected in host body. Removing all restrictions on weapons.”
A ghost-like thing appeared behind Tomonori’s back. It looked like a muscular man on the right side and a flickering flame on the left. That was the masou weapon that Dai-sensei had inserted into Tomonori.
“Liberate your frozen heart.” ”First chant confirmed. Technique activated.”
Crap! The masou weapon inside Tomonori had been activated…!
“Tomonori! Hey, Tomonori! At least wipe off that drool!”
“Change even the breaths of Gods into blizzards.” ”Second chant confirmed. Preparations for cooling complete.”
This one… This was the one that indiscriminately froze all her surroundings, right? In a public place like this… This was bad!
“Wait! Wha-?! What’s going on?!”
Haruna seemed panicked as she looked back and forth between me and Tomonori.
Now that I thought about it, this was the first time Haruna had seen the weapon inside Tomonori.
“Ayumu! Hurry up and stop her!”
Well-aware of what could happen, Sera rose to her feet and prepared to run for shelter.
“Tomonori! Please! Come back to yourself!”
I took her by both shoulders and began to shake her, and Tomonori finally came back to her senses with a “Ah.”
At the same time, the half-ghost masou weapon thing behind her vanished into smoke.
For some reason, it seemed that the masou weapon couldn’t activate unless Tomonori was unconscious.
“A-Aikawa… What happened?”
“You almost died. From cooking.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Well, normally, cooking is the act of turning something that can’t be eaten into something that can be eaten.”
Chef Haruna’s words sunk to the very bottom of my heart. That was a really nice way of putting it. Yup, yup.
“Yes, that is precisely right.”
Sera nodded along with me. You! You don’t have the right to nod here!
“Well then, let’s continue.”
There was more?! Give me a break!
The next cloth bundle that she took out was… squirming around quite a bit. Was there something alive in there?
“I tried making octopus wieners next (2). I only started cooking after Ayumu came home, so there wasn’t much time, but I tried my best.”
Oh? If all you had to do was to cut and grill something, then maybe even Sera could handle it.
As I mumbled that to myself, I unwrapped the cloth bundle. And then…
Why in the world was I still giving her the benefit of the doubt when I had seen the cloth bundle moving earlier?
When I opened the cloth bundle, I found one live octopus inside.
It was a real octopus… And what was up with this octopus? Why did it have eyebrows? And why was it giving me such a foppish facial expression?
Tomonori fearlessly went for Sera’s chest as she retorted. The back of her hand squished and bounced off Sera’s rather large breasts. But Sera caught Tomonori’s hand and twisted upwards.
“Wha?! Uncle! Uncle! Uncle Sam!” (3)
“Devish is a nice ingredient, isn’t it? You can boil it, you can grill it…”
“Short for devilfish.” (4)
Haruna softly massaged the octopus’s head. The foppish octopus watched me with a sharp look. At least, it looked like he was giving me a sharp look, but it was probably just because of his eyebrows.
“That’s not a bad looking octopus.”
Tomonori, please at least wipe off that drool.
“Well, can you eat this? It’s definitely not food though…”
Haruna’s ahoge stood straight up.
“Certainly… I think you might be able to eat it… But it’s a really, really strange creature we have here.”
“It wasn’t farmed, you know. This is a bona fide, wild-caught animal.”
Sera smiled proudly. Could something as weird as this really exist in nature?!
When I looked on the back of the octopus’s head, I saw a label that read, “Not Genetically Engineered.” And on one of the leg, I found a tag which read, “Made in Mars”… this thing was from Mars?!
“How the hell did you get something like this…”
After my mumbling, Sera gave me a shy expression that I had never seen on her before.
“Haruna said something once. She said that the goal of cooking isn’t to make something, but to have something eat what you make… So I wanted to have you eat my cooking.”
I see. She was always just trying to enjoy herself when she cooked. So that’s why, in the end, her cooking would just knock out whoever ate it.
“Seraphim… cooks for others…”
Tomonori gulped. Ahh, I was surprised too.
“So I won’t lose to you. All right, let’s divide up the food.”
A tree leaf began falling out of nowhere. That leaf transformed into a sword in Sera’s hand.
In the next moment… The octopus seemed to sense the danger it was in and dived towards the brick-colored floor from the table.
Four of its eight legs began moving like the legs of a sprinter, propelling itself along. Its remaining four legs became like arms, which also waved back and forth like the arms of a sprinter. Did that thing have joints? That really was quite a bizarre creature… No, that wasn’t the time to be impressed!
I stood up and chased after it.
“Sera! Catch it!”
Sera caught a new leaf in her hand and threw it.
Krschh!! The knife-like leaf pierced right into me.
“I missed.” …Was that it?! Aren’t you going to apologize?!
That damn octopus! Who the hell said octopi are fish?! That thing definitely moved like a land animal!
To think that thing could be faster than a zombie… It was moving so fast that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was wearing one of those Falling Star Bracelets from Dragon Quest. (5) Dammit, it went into the building. If something like that ran around, it would definitely cause a panic.
But in situations like this, we could always rely on our ninjas. Our ninjas…… Our ninjas…………… Nobody was coming! Was I the only one chasing this thing?!
I chased after the octopus, feeling like I was being trained by King Kai. (6)
…Why in the world was I chasing something like this? There were plenty of other things I had to chase.
Ah, I could feel the nausea rising up in my chest again.
Yuu, Dai-sensei, Kyouko, and the King of the Night… Crap, my mind was wandering too much.
The octopus was snatched up by someone else.
I saw a man in front of me wearing an apron. He was the one who had caught the octopus for me. When I saw that his apron had a picture of a dog on it, I guessed that he was an employee at the pet shop.
“Ah, sorry! That octopus is-“
It was a strange octopus. I was certain this guy was making a pretty disgusted face right now, so I very, very timidly looked up from my crouched position to peek at the guy’s reaction.
“Hey, how nice to meet you here.”
And the person there… The person smiling happily at me… was the King of the Night.
“There there there there…” The man patted the octopus’s squishy head and a kind smile rose to his lips. The sharp-looking octopus with eyebrows sunk into a stupor.
……Huh? Was he a different guy?
He was the cause behind all our troubles… And he was wearing an apron with a dog drawn on it. Around her were narrow-looking cases that contained sleeping cats and dogs. Here, in this place without an ounce of tension, I managed to meet an enemy I had to defeat!
A hunched-over, kind-looking granny spoke up to the King of the Night as he continued holding the octopus.
“Yoruno-san, Yoruno-san, do you have any shampoo that’s good for getting rid of fleas?”
Y-Yoruno-san? Don’t tell me he picked a fake name that even sounded like “King of the Night”! (7)
“How about this one? We only got this in recently, but it’s my recommendation for flea removal.”
“Ah. Well, if Yoruno-san recommends this one, then I’ll buy it.”
He was a nice employee who earned the faith of his customers… Except not at all! I shook my head to dispel those evil thoughts and put on a serious expression.
“You… you’re the King of the Night, aren’t you? What are you doing in a place like this?”
“I live in this world, and therefore I need the money to do so. So I have a part-time job.”
Well, I guess that’s true… But, I mean, was it really okay for you to have a part-time job?
And at a pet shop, no less… I gave a final glance at the granny as she went to the register with the shampoo and began to ask about Dai-sensei, but…
The King of the Night was in the puppy petting corner, grooming a puppy’s fur.
I felt my heart beat faster. It wasn’t because I was nervous. It was because I was really happy.
Because I had wanted to meet this person even more than I wanted to encounter metal slimes in Dragon Quest!
“Yoruno-saaan~, your shift is over~~.”
Another employee came over, and the King of the Night handed over the brush.
“Do you like animals?”
It seemed it was time for him to leave work, and he began to chat with me as he smiled and folded up his apron. Meanwhile, I was still completely bewildered by the situation.
“Ahh, I guess I don’t hate them, but…”
“To be honest, the one who suggested that we make Megalo look like animals was me.”
“More importantly… Is Dai-sensei safe?”
“Hm? Ahh, she is a being that may actually be able to kill me. I have not killed her.”
The octopus seemed to have warmed up to him quite a bit and was riding on his shoulder. The dogs in their glass cases were also looking at the King of the Night affectionately.
“Did you manage to make one of those masou weapons? Just once, I sort of want to see what kind of amazing powers it has.”
I guess you could say that once someone catches the scent of something they’re interested in, they naturally want to talk about it more.
“It will be soon. We’re currently ordering something that will throw the world into chaos.”
So we didn’t have much time. The granny from before gave the King of the Night a bow and went off with a satisfied smile. What the hell? From all this… he really just seemed like a pretty good person.
As I thought about these things, the King of the Night walked off into the pet shop’s staff room.
That wasn’t good. What should I do? I couldn’t just let him escape from under my very nose.
It was the first clue we had found in a long while.
“Ah, here he is. Ayumu, what are you doing?”
Haruna and Sera came to the pet shop.
“Do you want a pet? You can’t have one. Throw it away, please.”
Sera scolded me with the strictness of a mother. And throw it away, she says…
“I want to raise a tuna.”
“Master. Even if you raised one, it would die pretty quickly, wouldn’t it?”
Haruna and Tomonori shared a laugh. They seemed to be getting along pretty well.
Tomonori… Right! I could borrow the power of the vampire ninjas!
“Tomonori, sorry, but I need you to do something for me.”
I gave them a serious look, and the three of them gave me serious looks in return.
(1) There are jelly-like snacks in Japan that act like energy drinks. This is probably a reference to those snacks.
(2) No octopi actually involved here. They are just small hot dogs cooked and cut into an octopus shape.
(3) Literal translation would be “Give! Give! Gibu’s Army!” Where the last exclamation is a reference to a supposedly famous war strategy. I decided to go with a localization.
(4) A rather obsolete term for octopus.
(5) Double Agility stat when worn. Sometimes translated as “Starry Bracelet” instead in some of the earlier games due to character limits.
(6) Dragonball character.
(7) King of the Night is “Yoru no Ou.”