Chapter 1 – Cost of a Swimsuit: Priceless
Chapter 1: Part 1
Around halfway through August, I began to want to do more summer-like things. Sure, lots of stuff had happened and I had been spending the entire summer fighting monsters, but none of that really felt “summer-like.”
So, what do you think of when I say “summer-like”? I asked that to all the freeloaders at my house.
“You’re saying that I’m the best, prettiest nabe master ever!” (1)
The person who suggested that summer meant nabe was the most spoiled girl living in this house. She sat to my right and tussled with her ahoge while pulling all the nabe meat to a place where she could grab it easily. No, you’re not a nabe cook… you’re a masou shoujo.
“Haruna, please pass us the ponzu. Hellscythe-dono dislikes the sesame sauce.”
The ponytailed girl wearing a dignified, ninja-like expression spoke up to the masou shoujo while ladling out the layer of stuff that had formed on top of the soup. Haruna crossed her arms and stood her ground, showing no signs of wanting to pass the ponzu.
“… Ayumu, please pass the ponzu to Hellscythe-dono.”
Sera, the ponytailed ninja, just turned to me without even stopping to scold Haruna. Hey… why was she glaring at me?
I turned to the doll-like silver-haired girl on my left and poured ponzu into her plate. Her crystal-clear, blue eyes didn’t blink as they now turned to aim at the piles of meat that Haruna had pulled towards herself.
She was as meek as an herbivore, and as quiet as the still water surface above a calm pond, and was mysteriously wearing armor and gauntlets even though we were indoors. Her name was Eucliwood Hellscythe. She was a necromancer who had come from the Underworld, and also the person who had brought me back to life.
Yes, I had already died once.
Sera took a few vegetables and distributed them, while Haruna only went for the meat. When Sera tried to grab some meat…
“What do you think you’re doing? I’m the nabe master!”
She would guard against Sera’s attempts like that. It seemed that when she said “nabe master,” she didn’t mean the person who was in charge of running the nabe pot, but the person who had some kind of special right to hoard all the meat for herself.
The person who really was running the pot was the vampire ninja, Sera. She still had a cold, serious look in her eyes, but her lips were a bit upturned and she seemed to be having fun, so I spoke up to her.
“You sure like nabe, don’t you?”
“Yes. Now and again I eat at the nabe shop in front of the station.”
“Ahh, that’s a pretty good place. Maybe we should go together next time.”
“Hah, you must be joking. Your face is enough of a joke, so I don’t need them to come out of your mouth too.”
Sera laughed coldly, and her words pierced through my heart. Yeah, her words sure felt like blades sometimes…
“Anyways, if you want meat, then you’re going to have to show you have powers that are more suitable for meat than being a nabe master!”
What the hell kind of logic was that? Haruna gave out a cocky grin, while Sera cocked her neck to the side before muttering.
“I… see. Well, people say I’m a sunny girl.”
Well, that was half-assed. Seemed like she thought about it but couldn’t come up with anything.
“Seriously?! So, you have command over the weather… okay, you can have some meat!”
I have no idea what kinds of standards she was using… also, Sera-san, why is it that you’ve been distributing food to everyone’s plate but mine?
I suddenly realized that Yuu was really staring at that meat while she stuffed her cheeks with bok choy. Yuu had a pretty docile personality, but she did like her meat.
“Haruna, that meat is for everyone, okay? Come on, give some to Yuu.”
“Why? Even if the gloomy necromancer eats meat all she’s going to do is sit in one place in the house, right?!”
Both Sera and I stiffened at Haruna’s words. Did Haruna not like Yuu or something?
It seemed that to acquire the meat, Yuu would have to come up with an alias like Sera had. So, Yuu took out her trusty memo pad and spelled out a sentence.
My teacher, the Water Mirror, once told me that I could rule the world if I acquired the Hidden Dragon or the Young Phoenix. (3)
Wait, what did that have to do with Yuu? Sure, those were all pretty cool-sounding words, but none of them were relevant, right?
“Bowing dragon… acquiring a bowing dragon…” Haruna seemed to be troubled, until finally…
“I’m not sure what that means, but it’s no good!”
Haruna made a cross symbol with her arms. (2) The two girls glared at each other. Sera just gave out a resigned look and continued distributing the vegetables.
Yuu’s gauntleted hand went for a piece of meat with her chopsticks, but she was blocked by Haruna.
The two chopsticks clanged together in midair. They seemed to stop still then, but from the fireworks that were going off in the room I could tell they were having an intense attack and defense battle.
Haruna and Yuu really weren’t too compatible. Haruna was a masou shoujo who came from the magical world Virie, while Yuu was a necromancer who had come from the Underworld. Virie and the Underworld were hostile towards each other.
They came from two opposing powers, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they weren’t very compatible.
So, why were these two here, poking at a nabe pot? Well, to put it concisely, all I can say is that all these girls had intruded into my life and straight into my home for some reason or other.
Also, to be honest, it probably wasn’t because of some random war going on in the world, but just because their personalities were pretty incompatible.
While I thought about all this, I took Haruna’s plate with all its meat and moved it towards Yuu.
“Agh! Hey, you moron!”
In her fury, her ahoge turned into the shape of a lightning bolt, and Haruna splashed some of the boiling water from the pot right into my face.
This bastard… maybe I’ll stick a damn enoki mushroom up her nose… but while I looked around the table, I stopped.
Now that Yuu had acquired her meat, she was sitting there as emotionless as always, but to me she seemed happy. Seeing Yuu like that just filled me with a pleasant feeling, and I found it hard to get angry at Haruna anymore.
Come on, we have to at least try and enjoy this nabe here… why was Haruna always so selfish and cold towards Yuu? I sighed resignedly and reached my chopsticks out to grab some shiitake.
“Ayumu, please don’t put your chopsticks into the pot! That’s disgusting!”
Sera’s eyes opened wide in surprise as she swatted my hand away like it was some fly. You really don’t have to get that worked up over it…
“So, Ayumu, what kind of alias do you have? If it’s amazing, I’ll give you some shiitake!”
So, I had to come up with an alias even for vegetables? Ugh. Well, whatever. Wait until they hear what I have to say. I put on an invincible smile, and pointed my thumb at myself.
“I’m… a zombie.”
Ugh, that’s sickening… was the feeling I was getting from Sera’s expression.
That day, I ended up buying food from a convenience store for dinner.
(1) A dish where people dump raw meats and vegetables into a pot of boiling water or soup base.
(2) This is the standard symbol for “no” in Japan.
(3) A reference to the Japanese fairy tale of Urashima Tarou, which involves a fisherman who saves a princess and is taken to a castle at the bottom of the sea.