Chapter 3: Part 4
We had arrived at the tree next to the pool.
This was a spot that was rumored to be the best place on the school campus for making confessions.
The pool area was surrounded by the old school building and a wire fence, and in this season this place was always quiet and empty.
The curtain of night was already falling, leaving this place softly lit by the lights from the old school building.
“Nobody’s here. Maybe it was just a joke.”
Tomonori dropped her shoulders, seeming disappointed. I guess she really was hoping for something to happen.
“Well, that’s too bad. Where exactly did you get that letter from anyways?”
“Someone knocked on our clubroom’s door, and when I opened it this letter was there.”
“You trusted something like that and came all the way here? What would you do if someone strange showed up?”
“It’s fine! There’s two of us here!”
“Well, that’s true.”
I could imagine an idiot like Tomonori not thinking and just going off somewhere with some strange guy, but with two of us here there was no worry of that.
“One plus one just makes two. But… if it’s me and Aikawa, it’s different! We don’t add up! We multiply! We can take down any enemy we meet!”
Tomonori gave me a thumbs up with a big smile on her face. Her white teeth were dazzling.
Enemy? It seemed that in Tomonori’s head, there was a big chart with the equation ‘strange person = scary enemy’ written on it. Also, did this girl really do all the math out before talking? Thinking that multiplying was always bigger than adding was enough to already prove she was a prototypical idiot.
“Oh? What what?”
Tomonori blinked a few times, her smile still on her face. I did feel a bit ad about being so savage when she was having so much fun… but I would tell it to her straight. I had to tell it to her straight.
“Tomonori, that’s less.”
“One times one is less. One plus one is more.”
“Oh no!” Tomonori shouted while clutching her head in both hands.
But soon, the sparkle returned to her eyes.
“Ah! Then let’s go for two! Two plus two just makes four-“
“That’s the same! That’s exactly the same! Pick a bigger number.”
“O-Okay! Ah, ummmmmm… alright!”
Tomonori took a deep breath and tried again.
“A hundred plus a hundred just makes a thousand-“
“Stoooop!! Seriously, you can’t add numbers with three digits?”
“A-Are you calling me an idiot?!”
“I’m not. I’m calling you a moron.”
“How is that different?!”
Tomonori raised both her hands and screamed out like a monkey, but she soon seemed to lose interest and once again put on a bright smile.
“But I don’t think it was just a joke. Something’s gotta be around here…”
Tomonori looked all around the area.
I also looked around. But I couldn’t really see anything. All I could see was red grass.
Red grass? The grass under the tree of legend was dyed red.
I went over to double check, and then with an “ahhh,” finally remembered what this was.
Tomonori was going round and round the tree while she called out to me.
“Well, umm… I met a weird guy over here earlier.”
Yes. This grass was dyed red by the blood that guy had spit out. That guy who had a doctor telling him to not do anything.
“I don’t think Aikawa should be calling anybody weird.”
It seemed that Tomonori was making fun of me, but I couldn’t get mad at her when she gave me that toothy smile of hers. I just gave her a toothy smile back.
“And then, well… he gave me this ring…”
From my blazer pocket, I took out the ring I had bought for a hundred yen back then and was about to show it to Tomonori when she suddenly poked her head out from behind the tree and beckoned to me.
“Aikawa! Aikawa! Take a look at this!”
It seemed like she had found something. I stepped on the red grass and the dry leaves which had fallen from this tree of legend and headed around to Tomonori’s location.
It was on the backside of the tree, somewhere where you would never think to look during your school life. There was something strange there.
Don’t ever push this!
There was a sticker with that written on it stuck there, along with a red button.
What kind of tree came with this kind of button?
“Okay… I’m gonna push it!”
Tomonori touched the round red button with a trembling finger.
“Wait, it says not to push it though. It even says ‘ever.’”
However you spun this, this had to be a prank. Or a trap or something. I couldn’t imagine anything good coming out of this.
On the other hand, Tomonori was clearly itching to push that button.
“I think here, I have to…”
She began to hop a bit around like a boxer, and I thought she was about to send a boxing jab right into the button when…
Tomonori flicked the tip of her nose with her thumb and went into a kung fu posture.
“Agh! Dammit! Aikawa! How should I push this button?!”
It seemed that Tomonori was already dead set on pushing the button. She was just searching for the right way to do it.
“What if you just triple click it or something?”
This was all pretty irritating, so I just threw her back the first thing I thought of while letting out a sigh. This was probably just a prank, after all.
“Ah, that ultimate button-pressing move which selects the entire paragraph in one go?! Got it!” (3)
Tomonori immediately put her finger nervously on the red button. Click click click. She pushed the button quickly in succession three times… and nothing happened.
The only thing we could hear was the sound of the wind rustling the leaves on the tree.
Tomonori dropped her shoulders in disappointment, but then a wash basin fell right on her head. So it really was a trap?
The wash basin seemed to have hit her in a bad place, because Tomonori moaned with tears in her eyes as she teetered back and forth.
At that point… a second wash basin fell down. This also seemed to have hit her in a bad place, because Tomonori suddenly fell to the floor.
“Aikawa…” She called out to me for help, reaching a hand towards me.
And seeing her like that… I burst out laughing.
“That’s so mean… Aikawa.”
Tomonori was blushing, perhaps embarrassed at having herself seen in such a foolish state. I reached out towards her to help her get back to her feat.
And then came the third wash basin. This also landed a clean hit on Tomonori’s head. And it also seemed to have hit her in a bad place. She hit the button three times and three wash basins came falling down… what a mathematically faithful little button this was.
“Tomonori? Hey, Tomonori?”
I shook her by the shoulders, but I didn’t get a response. Just in case, I checked her pulse, but she was still alive. It seemed she had just fallen unconscious.
To think there were really people on this world who could get knocked unconscious by wash basins… geez, what a strange prank this was. I softly smacked Tomonori on the cheeks in an attempt to wake her back up.
When I did that, Tomonori’s eyes suddenly opened. But she hadn’t regained consciousness.
What looked like a spirit of some kind began to flow out of Tomonori’s body, and I couldn’t keep my face from twitching in annoyance. There was an absurdly annoying spirit aka ‘masou weapon’ possessing Tomonori’s body. And it would activate whenever Tomonori lost consciousness.
Those activation conditions had certainly been fulfilled by the wash basins just now.
“Abnormality detected in host body. Removing all restrictions on weapons.”
That spirit had quite a strange form. The right half of it looked like a naked man. A completely built and muscular man with a perfectly sculpted figure. However, the left half looked like flames which waved back and forth like smoke trails.
“Offspring of god and dragon, gather here in both my hands.”
Tomonori’s cute little lips moved. But her usual energetic tone of voice now sounded cold and indifferent.
“First chant confirmed. Technique activated.”
The masou weapon spoke in response to Tomonori’s words. This was bad. This was really bad.
Just as the word “weapon” would imply, this spirit thing was completely ferocious. I had to stop Tomonori before she finished her chant.
I called out to her repeatedly and shook her body.
“Listen to the voice of your king and gather here in both my hands!” “Second chant confirmed. Preparations for whirlwind complete.”
The air around us took on a tinge of green and gathered around Tomonori.
Like a bunch of fireflies in the dark, the glowing wind began to whirl around with Tomonori at its center.
“Explode. Hellion Stream.” “Final chant confirmed. Whirlwind released.”
The green wind that had gathered around Tomonori explosively expanded.
The wind went wild, and it was almost as if thousands of whips were beating into our surroundings.
Like the whirlwind weasels of Japanese mythology, the green wind shaved skin off the big tree, cut through the grass, left scratches in the wall, and tore through the wire fence.
I was sent flying along with the wash basins, and made violent impact with the fence around the pool. But the wind had cut up the fence pretty badly, and my body broke through it and rolled along the side of the pool.
How… could I stop this?
That green wind was indiscriminately destroying everything around it. It had already gouged out parts of the wall, and the fence was almost completely knocked down. It wasn’t easy to even get close to her with this wind blowing. I sunk my body low and began to crawl along the poolside. I must say, it’s a pretty rare experience to be able to crawl around like this in a wedding dress.
I managed to crawl my way up to the spot I was before I was knocked away, but what should I do now? If I didn’t stop her soon, I would just be sent flying again. I had to do something.
I really didn’t have much time to think about this problem… but that’s when I heard a voice.
“Do you want to know how to stop her?”
It was a man’s voice. A man’s voice was whispering to me from behind.
I turned around, but only saw my shadow behind me.
“Who’s that? No, it doesn’t matter. Please, please tell me how to stop this.”
“Oh my, so you’ll believe anything a shady man tells you? Quite adaptable, you are.”
“I’ll decide whether I believe you or not after I hear what you have to say.”
I looked around to try to find where the voice was coming from, but I didn’t have any luck. It wasn’t as if the voice was in my head or anything… it felt like it was always behind me. Who the hell was this?
“You have an item you can use to stop her. Take that item and give it to that cute… cough!”
I heard a violent cough, and felt something wet getting sprayed over my back.
“Ugh! My doctor ordered me to stop calling little girls cute…”
This was that guy, wasn’t it? Which meant…
I took out the ring with the small jewel I had bought from this place a little bit ago.
“Now that I think about it, you said it back when you gave me this ring, right? That the time to use it would come…”
“W-Well now… what in the world could you be talking about…?”
“This is the first time I’ve realized how annoying it is when someone gets found out but still decides to play dumb…”
“Aikawa Ayumu-kun, you would make a fine psychic or detective. To think you could figure out who someone is by his voice alone even though you’ve only met him once…”
No, it’s just that you’re special. You’re the only person in the world with a doctor this crazy.
“Let’s get back on topic. What should I do?”
“That ring there was made to put her powers under control. All you have to do is to put it on her.”
“I see. There’s also just one other thing I really, really want to ask you…”
“How did you know it was going to turn out like this? Are you a fortune teller or something?”
“Ahh… well, that’s simple. This trap was- cough! Ugh! My doctor ordered me not to give spoilers…”
Alright, it’s time to ignore this weird guy and finish this thing.
I gripped the ring tight and leapt towards Tomonori. Call me a hentai if you want. But I leapt right at her, trying to cover her body with mine.
Almost as if it had physical form, the half-transparent man’s right fist came at me in a punch. The green wind tore through my body.
I felt the unpleasant sensation of pieces of my arm being torn off, but even then I continued to fly towards the girl lying stretched out by the foot of the tree.
I was almost there, but then was blown back to my original position. I had accomplished nothing, but still had taken damage. I found myself lying on my front by the poolside, waiting for an opening.
What should I do? Right then, almost as if he could read my mind…
“Want my help?”
I heard the man behind me again, and it almost sounded like he was mocking me. It was as if he didn’t think I could handle this myself, and that just annoyed me to no end.
But the green wind was ripping through the wall, and the hole in that wall was getting bigger. The tree of legend was also pretty close to collapsing. If I didn’t hurry the wall would break down, and fixing that would be troublesome. More than anything else… if someone else happened to come by this place, their lives would be at risk. Although, I was okay because I was a zombie.
“Please help then.” The minute I said that, I was sucked into my shadow. I was completely swallowed, almost as if a big hole had just opened up there.
The next moment… for some reason, I felt myself trapped right under Tomonori.
It seemed that I had just jumped from shadow to shadow. Was this the same power the King of the Night had possessed? That guy could move with his mist, and this guy through shadows. Exactly who the hell was this person?
Feeling the warmth of Tomonori’s body on my back, I slipped the ring on her finger… I wasn’t really planning on paying attention to this, but that finger was her left hand’s ring finger.
Just from that, the wind stopped.
But the masou weapon still seemed alive and well, and just stayed there, attached to Tomonori’s body like a caterpillar.
I kept a wary eye on this man with only half a body and called out to Tomonori.
I pinched her cheek, held her nose, but even so her consciousness didn’t return.
“Munyah munyah… one sheep…”
“She’s already asleep! She’s counting damn sheep!”
“Agh! This retort… is that Aikawa?!”
“Oh, looks like you finally woke up.”
“I was… the wash basins… Uwaaahh! W-What is this thing… the grim reaper or something?!”
Tomonori stood up and began to run, shocked at the strange appearance of the masou weapon. She went round and round the tree, but the masou weapon followed her the entire way, keeping exactly the same distance behind her.
“Calm down. That thing is… kind of like your guardian spirit.”
Wave, wave. As Tomonori moved her hand back and forth, the half-transparent man matched her exactly with his right arm. It seemed that Tomonori was in control.
“I have a Star Platinum now…” (2)
“Hey! That’s not right at all! … That thing… is your own power.”
“… Should I give him a name?”
“Well, why not? I guess having a name is always better.”
“I guess… I have to give it a name from Western music, right?”
“I don’t think that’s an actual rule…”
“Okay. Vinaigrette, then.”
“She named this thing after French dressing!”
Without moving her own body, Tomonori moved Vinaigrette’s right arm.
“Don’t underestimate the power of French dressing!”
Was that her idea of a snappy comeback or something? Vinaigrette punched me with his transparent right arm.
… That one attack was enough to easily pierce through my stomach. A fist-sized hole formed there.
“Uwah! Sorry Aikawa! I didn’t know it was that strong!”
“Ah, don’t worry about it. The wedding dress just got a bit dirty. No big deal.”
I used both my hands to block the blood from gushing out of the wound.
I’m so happy it’s getting to night time. At night, even a wound like this would heal pretty quickly.
“I’ll try not to use this too much from now on! Sorry! Are you alright?”
“No worries. That thing was something that had been inside of you… but do you think you can send it back where it belongs?”
Tomonori shut her eyes, and her body sucked the masou weapon back into itself like a vacuum cleaner. Seeing that, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“So, about that ring you have on.”
“A-Aikawa… this ring…”
Tomonori looked at the ring on her ring finger, and flushed bright red.
“Never take it off, okay? This ring is what lets you-“
Control Vinaigrette. Is what I wanted to say, but…
“I-I-I-IT’S A MARRIAGE RING!”
This situation was getting more and more awkward.
“And Aikawa’s in a wedding dress too… I think I get what’s going on! Aikawa must’ve called me here… that’s why you couldn’t hand me the letter, right? If I saw your face you’d totally be found out.”
What the hell was she trying to say? It almost sounded like she was starting to think that I had called her here to participate in something like a wedding ceremony or something.
Stop blushing. You’ll make me blush too… crap. I’m blushing too now, aren’t I? If I blush, this misunderstanding is just going to spiral out of control.
Tomonori took off the ring momentarily and put it on her right ring finger. And then, with determination in her eyes and a voice without any regret…
“Sorry. I’m happy you asked, but this is a bit strange when I’m still in high school… umm… but, I mean, I’m definitely going to be Aikawa’s wife, but… no, that’s not it…”
“D-Don’t say anything more! Isn’t this already embarrassing enough?!”
Tomonori blocked me from explaining the situation and covered her face with both her hands, shaking her head with embarrassment.
“No, seriously, Tomonori…”
We weren’t getting anywhere here. I put my hand on Tomonori’s shoulder to try to calm her down.
“Aikawa! It’s still too early to kiss! It’s still too earlyyyyyyy~~~!!!”
Tomonori flapped her arms around and sent me flying.
She had just sealed Vinaigrette back inside her, but she had used his powers again. I flew clear over the broken fence… and right into the pool.
END CHAPTER 3
(1) Yes, this is apparently what a triple click does. I even looked it up. You learn something new every day.
(2) A reference to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.