Prologue Part 1
Prologue – If You Fill Your Mind With Dirty Thoughts, Even the Greatest Hardships Will Cause You no Suffering (1)
Prologue Part 1
I sighed and watch my breath fog up the air in front of me. I was wearing a jersey on top of two other layers, and yet I still felt cold. That was the kind of winter day it was.
Today, we were doing marathon training in gym class.
We were running around a graveyard that was a three-minute walk from our school and then running back to the school gate. The students had dubbed this the “grave-visiting course,” and we had to do it three times.
People who completed the course could take the rest of the period as free time, so there were students who ran as fast as they could, and also people who took their sweet time walking the course. I was part of the latter group.
The day was mostly sunny, with a spot of clouds. And I might look like a normal first-year high school student, but I was also a zombie.
Under that sun, I didn’t have the energy to try and impress everyone by running this course really fast.
I adjusted my pace so that I would finish a lap every hour, and timed my walks with when the sun was hidden behind a cloud.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a single bespectacled guy with spiky hair, stooped over and doing a Kin-chan sprint. (2)
His name was “Orito.” He was the biggest pervert in our entire school, and he was running all weird and sideways like that because he wanted to be able to wholly enjoy the view of the bouncing breasts of the girls behind him and the waving butts of the girls in front of him with minimal effort on his part.
To think he could still have the energy to do that in this damn cold. Everyone else was so sluggish, but he was there and out of breath (but not for the right reason).
“If you fill your mind with dirty thoughts, even the greatest hardships will cause you no suffering.”
I remembered back to the day those words had come out of his stupid, annoying mouth.
Did he mean that when you were really absorbed into something, you tended to forget all about the bad things in life? I had no idea. However, you could also take those words as a pure affirmation of all things perverted, and I was getting first-hand proof right now that he meant what he said… well, whatever. I really don’t care what that spiky-haired idiot does.
Now then. Maybe I should actually try to run a bit. But just as I thought that…
“Whaaat are you doing Aikawa~~? I caught up to you! If you’re gonna dawdle like that I’ll win the entire championship!”
I heard an energetic voice calling to me.
… There isn’t such a thing as a gym championship, idiot.
I already knew who was calling out to me, so I didn’t bother to turn around.
That’s all I said back.
At any rate, I was sure that there was a girl behind me with an idiotic grin on her face, and she was probably going to tell me to not call her Tomonori now.
“Don’t call me Tomonori~~! It makes me sound like a guy!”
This girl who sprinted up to me like she was running a 100-meter dash was named “Yoshida Yuki.”
But, because of how tomboyish she was, everyone teased her by calling her Tomonori, which was another way to pronounce the kanji in her name. In fact, around eighty percent of the people who knew her called her Tomonori.
“Just give it up. Not gonna happen.”
Things that were already well-established were not going to get overturned that easily.
“I’m not givin’ up! I’ll make everyone call me Yuki one day!”
“You’re pretty excitable today. Did something good happen or something?”
I glanced at her, and saw a short-haired girl wearing a jersey and shorts who was giving me a huge innocent smile like she was some little boy making a big castle in a sandbox.
She didn’t seem short of breath at all, but bounced up and down by my side.
“Yeah! I’m just having so so so much fun! Running is so much fun, isn’t it?! Doesn’t Aikawa think so too?”
“I… don’t think so at all.”
“Why, Aikawa~~? Come on, let’s run together! Let’s dash into the evening sun!
“The evening sun isn’t even out right now. How can they expect us to do a marathon in the middle of this damn cold? How many laps have you run?”
“This is my fifth! I’m super in the lead right now, ya know!”
Well, that’s probably because nobody else cared enough to run more than three laps. Also, I remembered that Tomonori was on the track team. She certainly was an athlete with a bright future.
Well, she was a blood-sucking ninja, so if she used that supernatural strength of hers then she should be able to win at the national championships. Well, assuming there aren’t any other monsters or vampire ninjas participating, that is.
Other than vampire ninjas, there were plenty of other supernatural beings in this world.
There were the masou shoujo who came from the magic world Virie, and there were the Megalo who came from the Underworld, where the dead resided.
I dropped my gaze, and got a view of a dazzling legs stretching from Tomonori’s shorts.
… Seriously, that was almost blindingly bright. Her skin was so pale and beautiful that I wouldn’t be surprised if she told me she had used bleach.
I see. So the track team didn’t wear jersey pants, but wore shorts instead. Although, I’d prefer if the girls in gym wore bloomers more than shorts…
Girls sure seemed to have softer skin than boys. Maybe I only thought that because I was a zombie? Or maybe all high school boys thought like that?
“But it sure is cold today…”
I looked up at the clouds. That winter sky really did seem to be in a grumpy mood.
“Cold weather is perfect for marathons! What’s with you, Aikawa? You’ve been doing nothing but sighing.”
“Well… your little ‘cold weather is perfect for marathons’ reasoning is why I’m sighing…”
“Actually, I’m curious why I always want to run marathons when it’s winter. I really don’t know why.”
“Well, when it’s not winter it can get pretty hot and you can get heatstroke or dehydrated and other stuff like that. Maybe that’s why?”
“Aikawa, I know how good you are at English, but come on, talk in Japanese~~.”
“Each and every word I said was in Japanese… in other words, when you run you start feeling hot. Summers here are really hot, right?”
“Ohh! Yeah, that’s true! Amazing, Aikawa! Are you a genius?!”
No, it’s not like I’m a genius, or a mighty dead person who had a halo over his head or anything like that. (1) But Tomonori seemed like she had just taken a critical hit out of the blue, or that her eyes had been opened to a world of possibilities… in either case, it sufficed to say she was deeply impressed.
“By the way, have you gotten any leads on Chris?”
I started walking again while speaking in the tone you might be able to find coming out of a division chief in an old detective drama.
Tomonori’s expression sobered and she began walking slowly next to me.
“No, there hasn’t been much new info about her.”
She clasped both her hands behind her head and looked up at the sky while speaking lazily.
Tomonori was trying to find clues to locate Chris, the masou shoujo who was revived during the school festival.
Just a normal zombie high school student like me wasn’t skilled enough to track people down.
But, Tomonori was a ninja. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that when anyone mentioned information gathering, the first things that came to most people’s minds were either ninjas or spies.
However, you could tell from how Tomonori talked that she wasn’t too bright. So, I really wasn’t expecting too much out of her.
There was another vampire ninja I knew in our school. I really didn’t want to go to her for help though…
“Ah, that’s Sarasvati over there, isn’t it?”
Speaking of the Devil, I now noticed one girl walking towards the school.
It was already in the middle of fourth period, but she was clearly just getting to school. Maybe she was trying to be fashionably late, or was playing hooky.
Her tight, slender legs were wrapped in black stockings. Maybe she wanted to highlight her long, beautiful legs, or maybe high school girls these days were just way too daring, but she was wearing an extremely short skirt.
She had long, silky hair down to her hips. Her features were fair and she had a mature air about her. She was also walking in our direction. She seemed to notice my presence, and the corners of her lips curled upwards.
However, I never called out to her and just passed her by.
“Hm? Aikawa. You’re not gonna say hello?”
Tomonori seemed to find that so strange that she herself forgot to say anything to Saras and just continued to stick to my side.
“………” I didn’t answer her.
After the school festival, Saras had said the following to me: “do you really intend on making me say that the shape of your butt is so irresistible to me?”
It was the lowest level love confession I’d ever heard, and I’m sure it was fairly unprecedented… but I couldn’t help but get really self-conscious over it.
I wanted to thank her for risking her life for me, and I really should give her an answer, but I really didn’t know how I should act around her right now.
A bit of time passed after we passed each other, but then Saras stopped and gracefully turned around.
“Hey, my darling.”
“Who the hell is that supposed to be?!”
I couldn’t help shouting and then ended up turning towards Saras.
“Alright, Aikawa! Now we can both have weird nicknames!”
Tomonori was an idiot, so she didn’t seem to understand what “darling” meant. She was the only person who stood there smiling.
“You meet your beloved after so long and yet do not greet her… what is the meaning of this? Huh? You bastard of a darling!”
“Anyways, please stop calling me that. I can feel chills running down my neck.”
“You were the one who ignored me.”
I let out a single sigh, and then weakly raised one hand.
“Yo. It’s been a while. What are you doing? Is your body healed up now?”
Saras put a hand on her hip with a satisfied expression on her face and then turned her nose up proudly. Her piercing eyes were turned up at the corners, but they showed no true hatred for me. Rather, they were more neutral.
“Thanks to everyone, all my wounds are completely healed. Also, let me answer your first question with a question. In your eyes, what exactly does it look like I’m doing?”
“Well, nothing special… coming to school?”
“How unexpected. That is correct.”
She gave me two claps.
She was acting so surprised in order to make me look like an idiot, wasn’t she?
“Sarasvati also skips school sometimes, I guess…”
Tomonori smiled, but Saras covered Tomonori’s mouth with her hand.
“Do not call me by that name at school. Is your mind slower than that of a baboon?”
Vampire ninjas used false names at school, and her false name was Hoshikawa Kirara. Tomonori’s real name was actually Mael Strom. But I just found it all way too confusing and just used “Saras” and “Tomonori.”
“S-Sowwyyy…” Tomonori somehow managed to peel Saras’s hand off her mouth, and took a few gasps for oxygen. Both Tomonori and I had already come to a complete stop.
“I was talking to Aikawa about this, but… did you find out anything about where Chris-sensei is?”
Tomonori asked that question with a smile, but Saras just glared back.
These two were both vampire ninjas, but they were in two different factions. So they probably didn’t share information with each other. Geez, they were the same kind, so they should just get along already.
Seeing no other option, I asked myself.
“Have you gotten any leads on Chris?”
“None at all. We have no idea what she wants to do.”
Saras was one of the leaders of the vampire ninjas. So, if Chris had injured anyone or made any flashy moves, she would’ve told me. Saras herself had been attacked by Chris, after all.
However… Chris’s goal wasn’t to defeat the vampire ninjas. She probably wouldn’t attack the vampire ninjas any longer.
“Agh, now I’m getting sad! Where’s Chris-sensei gone off to?!”
Tomonori messed with her hair and stamped her feet in frustration. I wasn’t sure if she really held a grudge against Chris or not, but she continued to call her sensei.
“Actually, my darling. We vampire ninjas will be having an assembly soon.”
“Ah, I have one too!”
“Yes. Of course, you would have one too. This will be the first meeting in a century where both the highest-ranking members in the conservative and reform factions of the vampire ninjas will meet under the same roof.”
“Eh?! That’s what’s happening?!”
Tomonori seemed completely taken aback by the importance of this assembly.
“So you guys all met in different places before?”
“Yes. Both factions have their own members who hand down commands, make decisions, and carry out orders.”
“So, why exactly is everyone suddenly meeting in the same place?”
“Hm. I was the one who suggested it. Since our previously dead chief is now alive and in good health, there is no reason for us to continue fighting. Well then, my darling. Will you not consider participating as well? Vampire ninjas working in various areas will be present. You may be able to acquire some useful information.”
“Participate at a vampire ninja assembly? Is that really alright?”
“Oh! That’s a good idea! Aikawa, let’s go together! She called it an assembly, but it really isn’t as stiff and formal as it sounds!”
“But I’m not a vampire ninja at all.”
“Do not underestimate me. You are just one person, so we can manage.”
“I see… well, in that case, I’d like to go.”
“Oh! I’m sure we’ll find a clue or something!”
“When’s the assembly happening?”
“We still have yet to decide a date. After all, we are trying to call together many people who are busy with their own missions. Finding a schedule for this will be no easy task.”
“Well, if you decide a date, let me know.”
“I will. You should also pull yourself together and work harder at your training… my beloved darling.”
Saras pat me on the shoulder, and I scratched my cheek.
“Stop calling me that! Well, I can’t say I’m not happy about your confession, but… I’m…”
“I do not care about how you feel. I just know that I love you, so I’ll continue to call you that.”
“… You know, it’s really hard to believe someone who throws around the word ‘love’ so easily…”
I… really didn’t like people who forced their own feelings onto others. These vampire ninjas… they felt like they were always looking down on other people, or ignoring how other people felt. Well, no, Tomonori was a genuinely good person, but she also went around randomly calling me her husband…
Yeah. These people just had no restraint. I felt myself getting a tad annoyed.
“Don’t worry, I am certain someday my feelings will reach you.”
I don’t think that was something you normally said to the person you were aiming those feelings at…
I didn’t really want to continue on this topic, so I didn’t answer. Saras cocked her head to the side. She couldn’t seem to understand that she was putting me into a bad mood.
“Well then, I suppose I shall leave now. Farewell, Yoshida Yuki… my rival.”
“Did you hear that, Aikawa?! She called me Yuki! … Bye bye!!”
Tomonori was in high spirits as she waved her hands frantically at Saras. We did a lap around the graveyard and then began running back the way we came.
Along the way, we met Orito, who was running towards the graveyard in the same way as he had been running before. Wow, this guy just wouldn’t give up. Was he chasing after tail again?
Orito stopped for a moment, and then began running alongside me and Tomonori. He probably just really wanted to see Tomonori’s boobs sway from side to side.
“… What do you think you’re doing?”
Even someone as gentle as Tomonori was showing displeasure here.
“Orito, you’re in the way. Go away.”
I waved my hands widely to drive him away as he began jogging backwards in front of us.
“To me, Tomonori’s boobs are the only boobs worth watching. They’re worth a million dollars to me.”
Orito’s glasses sparkled as he stared at Tomonori’s chest. Tomonori raised both her hands into the air and shouted.
“I’m super flattered, you damn creep! Ugh, what do you waaaant~~?!”
“Well, winter break is soon, right? So, for Christmas…”
Orito suddenly put on a sad expression.
“Aikawa. Do you know what a ‘year-end whitewashing’ is?”
“Ah, you mean those year-end parties that salarymen have? What about them?” (4)
“Yup, that’s the problem.”
“Those parties are for salarymen. But why only salarymen? Why can’t students also have a party at the end of the year to forget all our troubles?”
Well, there was the problem of not having money in our wallets, and not being able to drink alcohol legally… but otherwise, there wasn’t a reason we couldn’t do one too.
“Ohh! That’s right! We also have a right to have a year-end whitewashing!”
“I’m also in favor of that.”
The person who mumbled that was a tall handsome guy who had just caught up to us from behind.
“Anderson-kun. Don’t sneak up on us like a ninja.”
This basketball team member with a face befitting a British prince looked down at me with a kind smile.
“Let’s do it. A year-end whitewashing.”
The handsome guy was shining with sweat. He was almost blindingly bright, as if a spotlight was shining on him.
I was a bit surprised that Anderson-kun, and not Orito, was the one who suggested that.
“Ah, then I’ll join in too!”
A girl who was passing by us raised her hand. It was a tallish girl with her makeup put on perfectly. This was Mihara Kanami. She was on the girls’ basketball team, and was Tomonori’s close friend.
“Okay, I want in too!”
“What’s going on? Whitewashing? Count me in!”
The boys running up to us from behind lifted their voices one after the other and began patting Orito on the back.
“Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooob!!” When around five people had ganged up on him, Orito let out a strange shout.
“What the hell, Orito?” He had shouted right next to me, so there was a bit of irritation in my voice.
“This was my idea. You guys know that, right?”
His breathing became erratic and he clung to my shoulders.
“Yeah…” Honestly, he was gross.
“So if any guys want to join, they have to bring a cute girl with them! Great idea, right?!”
What the hell was this guy saying? Tomonori and I were both completely at a loss. We even thought that maybe it would be a good idea to just have this party and invite everyone except Orito, but…
“Cute girl, huh…? Got it. I’ll look for one.”
“You know, you really don’t have to humor him.”
Mihara shook her head, resigned.
“Well, wouldn’t it be merrier if more people came? It’s something that only happens once every year, after all.”
Ahh, Anderson-kun. You sure are a good person. Everyone was probably thinking that right now.
“I guess there’s no helping it…” “Can we bring someone from a different school?” I heard a few people say things like that around us.
“Other than the girl being cute, there aren’t any other requirements! Aikawa, you’re gonna invite Sera-san, okay?!”
Orito fished out his cell phone while he said that. Everyone, you should really try not to bring your cell phone to gym class.
“Wait, you wanted a party for the students, right? Why is Sera coming?”
“Right now, I only have eyes for Sera!”
As gross as ever, Orito opened his mouth wide. Mihara looked at him with disgust, and then came over to me. “Who’s Sera-san?” Ugh, that question was a bother to answer too…
“… Orito, you just want to have a mixer, don’t you?”
“Yeah, exactly. I really want to do a mixer. I want to fall in love as much as an entire mountain of snow melting! (5) I’ve already exhausted all the options of things to do as a bachelor on Christmas!”
This bastard, getting all serious all of a sudden… and yeah, this whitewashing party for students was starting to sound awfully like a mixer…
“It’s a rare opportunity, so the more the merrier.”
It seemed that Anderson-kun also approved of the idea of inviting Sera.
So I gave up, took the phone from Orito, and dialed home.
Well… I also knew exactly how this was going to go.
Riiiinggg. Riiiinggg. Riiiinggg. Click.
“This is the Aikawa house.”
It was a prim and proper female voice.
If sounds came with smells, then this would’ve smelled like refreshing cool mint mixed with a bit of sweet cherry. I explained to Sera this idea for a whitewashing party that Orito and Anderson-kun had come up with, and told her that it would be great if she could come, when…
“I don’t want to.”
Yup. There it was, nice and clear.
“Come on, it’ll be fun. And it only happens once a year.”
“I don’t want to. Because it’s disgusting.”
Sera responded coldly like that, and before I could say anything in return she had hung up the phone.
I looked at Orito, whose eyes in the middle of his glasses were brimming with hope, and I told it to him like it was.
“She said no. Because it’s disgusting.”
When I think back to Orito’s face that day… my God was that an ugly face he was making.
“Aikawa no longer has the right to participate!”
Well, it’s not like I really wanted to go to this whitewashing party which was really a mixer, so I didn’t say anything and just went back to running my marathon.
(1) This is a spoof on an actual Japanese saying, “if you clear your mind of all obstructive thoughts, even the greatest hardships will cause you no suffering.”
(2) Enjoy the image.
(3) I am not familiar with the show so I can’t really expand further, but I’m almost positive this is a Dragonball reference.
(4) The word they use is nenboukai. It’s a year-end party for company workers, but the kanji literally mean “year-end forgetting party” or something like that. So the nuance here is that it is a party at the end of the year in which you forget about all the bad things that have happened over the last year, usually by getting completely and utterly drunk.
(5) A song title. Gerende ga Tokeru Hodo Koi Shitai.