Chapter 3: Part 4
Now that all the awkwardness had been cleared from the air, Tomonori returned to being the happy-go-lucky, innocent tomboy she usually was. We continued up the increasingly tough mountain path. Looking up, I saw that it was a new moon, and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky either.
Haruna had her arms around her own body as she said that and glared at me. How many times has she complained about that already? Also, why are you glaring at me?! Just look at me! My jeans have no buttons, my parker has no sleeves, and even my inner shirt is filled with holes! How much of a devil did you have to be to look at someone like that and still whine?!
“Haruna, just repeating that complaint will not make things better.”
“It’s easy for you to say that. You’re pretty insulated around the chest area after all…”
I shivered. Sure, I was shivering from the cold, but the icicle-like glare that Sera was sending me might’ve also had something to do with it…
“You should learn from Yuu. She’s not complaining at all.”
I am used to it. = “Yuu is okay! She’s pretty amazing, isn’t she, Oniichan?!”
Quick, Patrasche, use Yuu’s cute-version voice to warm up or you’ll freeze to death! (1)
“Oi, Yukinori! Just where will we go?!”
The cold seemed to be turning Haruna into the King of Laputa.
“It’s just a bit more! Let’s push forwards!”
Tomonori was leading the way with a skip in her steps, her energy still overflowing.
“I’ll give you three min- fnyann!”
“What was that just now?”
“Shut up! It was just a sneeze! You don’t have to raise a fuss about eve- fnyaan!”
“That’s a pretty forced-sounding sneeze you’ve got there. Pretty hard to say, to be honest! It is cold, though.”
I heard a weird word and turned around. I saw an expressionless girl there with a bit of red seeping into her cheeks. Yuu couldn’t talk, but I could’ve sworn that strange word had been said in her cute voice… wait, don’t tell me…
I turned back around to look at Haruna, when I heard it again.
I turned around again, and saw Yuu with a gauntleted hand put up to her lips.
Wait… was I seriously right? Yuu’s sneezes sounded like “gorbchfu”?!
I stared at Yuu for a bit, but she didn’t seem about to sneeze again.
“I’ve heard that the temperature goes down by a degree for each two hundred meters you climb. Dressed like that, it’s possible they will catch colds.”
“In other words…”
I looked back and saw the mountain path we had been climbing continuing on for hundreds of meters. I really couldn’t tell how far we had climbed anymore.
“General Secretary Gorbchvu.”
Crap, I missed it again! And she even added the title this time!
“Ah, it’s pretty cold…”
Haruna seemed to have returned to square one.
“Maybe we should play a game?”
Sera made that suggestion.
“What kind of game?” I asked that, and…
“From now on, whoever says the word ‘cold’ will get punched by everyone else.”
“That’s pretty terrifying, but I guess if there’s no rule like that we’d end up saying it a lot.”
“Exactly the point!”
I will be the judge. = “Sounds fun! It’s not fair because Yuu can’t talk, so instead she’ll be watching oniichan and the others!”
“Eh? What what? Are we starting something?”
Tomonori looked back at us from her position at the head of the group, her eyes sparkling with interest.
“Yeah, it’s a game. Everyone’s been saying the word ‘cold’ too much, so…”
Out. = “Ahaha! Oniichan said it so fast!”
Haruna’s horizontal chop hit me right in the Adam’s apple and sent me into a coughing fit. Sera’s elbow also gouged into my stomach with pinpoint accuracy.
“Ah, I see! So we get punched if we say the word ‘cold.’”
Tomonori nodded, looking excited. She seriously was an idiot.
Out. = “Ah! You can’t say that!”
Bam bam bam bam.
Except for the judge Yuu, everyone whacked Tomonori and I flicked her in the forehead. We continued walking for another five minutes before coming upon a level clearing.
This area was larger than the clearing with the bear earlier, and a lot of trees and grass had already been cleared out by humans. There were barely any trees around; it was like someone had gouged out a part of the top of the mountain. And, other than the path we had used to get here behind us, there was blissfully nothing else to intrude on this scene.
“Fuwaaa~~.” Haruna made a sound like that.
“Oh hoh…” Sera seemed impressed.
Yeah, this was pretty incredible. It was like we were floating in the middle of the sky.
The night’s sky surrounded our entire field of view. There was not another light in sight.
The only sparkling things were the stars themselves, shining brightly above us.
This was an absolutely different sight than the glimpses of the night sky I had gotten on the way up here. I could see stars in every direction, and felt like I was soaring. I almost wanted to just sprawl down on the ground right here. It was seriously an impressive sight.
Tomonori put both her hands in the air and was twirling around.
“It’s like the lights from when the Space Sheriff puts on his combat suit are sparkling all around us!”
“That’s a pretty obscure reference, but looks like Haruna likes it too.”
Since when could the stars be as bright as this? Since when could they feel so close, as if I could just reach out and grab them? When the stars were so clear and bright above me, it just made me want to trace them out with my fingers. I wonder if the people who made up the constellations had once also stood atop a place like this, looking up at the brilliant night sky.
Wonderful. = “Uwaah~~ So romantic~~!”
“It makes it all the more worth it that we had a long hike up here.”
“Yeah. It was definitely worth coming all this way for this.”
Yuu seemed to notice something and looked at another direction. I followed her gaze and looked to the side. Please don’t tell me there’s another swarm of bees or something…
But no, all I saw was a streak of light.
Shooting star. = “Look look oniichan! It’s a shooting star!”
It wasn’t just one. There was another one, and another one, and another.
Tomonori suddenly began to run around, almost like she was trying to chase after the shooting stars.
“This is what I wanted to show you! You can’t see this too well in town, but here you can see it really good!”
Those are the Leonids.
Leonids, huh…? Last year, I remember seeing stuff on TV about how amazing the Leonids were, and I ended up waiting to see them from my room, but was pretty disappointed when nothing happened.
I was so excited back then…
But today I realized that you couldn’t have any other lights on in order to see the stars. Even the moon would be a bother in stargazing.
Today, the moon was a new moon, and because we were in the middle of the mountains, there were no other lights.
Only the twinkling of the stars above us in the inky black sky ensured that we weren’t completely enshrouded in darkness. That’s not something you would ever be able to see back in Tokyo.
“The Leonids are my favorite shooting stars. That’s why, every year, on the day when there’s the most shooting stars, I come up here to stargaze!”
I see. So this happened every year in November then. I didn’t know that.
We continued to gaze earnestly up into the night sky at those streaks of light.
“That one is really huge! Whoa!”
Haruna pointed to an especially bright star. She sure liked big things… maybe it was because she was so small.
“Yeah yeah! Pretty cool! But if you went on that star and looked back at this planet, you’d probably think the same thing… nah, I’m sure this planet would be even brighter!”
Tomonori was clearly in the highest of spirits, and I found myself a bit taken by her words.
“Going on that star and looking at this planet… I don’t think I’ve ever thought of things that way.”
“I’m sure the people living on that star are looking at us and making our planet part of triangle constellations, and then coming up with all sorts of myths about us… doesn’t that just make your heart flutter a bit?”
“A bit… yeah.”
I like the view below too. = “Yuu also thinks the stuff under us is pretty!”
Yuu took me by the hand and led me to a corner of the clearing. There, I saw a steep slope, almost as if someone had cut a part of the mountain off. But past that I could see glittering city lights.
I had been focused so much on the night sky above us that I didn’t realize how pretty the city was below.
The never-changing stars in the sky above are beautiful. But the ever-changing stars below are also beautiful.
“Ever-changing stars… huh?”
Those stars below were the stars of life. They were proof that there were humans down there out and about, but they definitely shone like stars all the same.
“Seeing something like this really fills you with a sense of purpose, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah! Us vampire ninjas work hard to protect those lights down there!”
“It really feels like we’re completely surrounded by stars, doesn’t it?”
It wasn’t just up in the sky. The ground below was also overflowing with stars. Just thinking about that made my heart itch a bit… I really wanted to stay up here and keep gazing upon this sight forever.
I want to come again.
“Yeah. Next year, with everyone together…”
“Eh? We can come in two weeks to see the Geminids too!”
“Eh? Hm? Aikawa?”
“Well, to be honest… that’s a bit…”
“Yeah… I really don’t wanna come that much.”
Haruna ended up saying those difficult words for me without a single ounce of hesitation.
“Hey hey! What’s going on?! This is pretty amazing! Really amazing! What happened to all that excitement a minute ago?!”
“Sorry, but the week after next is a bit…”
Even if I come here every day I don’t mind.
“Eucliwood Hellscythe is a goddess!”
Tomonori was near tears as she gripped one of Yuu’s gauntleted hands with both her own and started shaking it.
“But, thanks… Yuki. This is the first time I’ve seen this beautiful of a starry sky.”
Tomonori’s eyes widened as she stared at me, before she flashed me her pearly whites.
“Let’s definitely come here again! … Ayumu.”
We heard a rustling noise, before seeing a bear appear on the path we had taken up. But it wasn’t just a bear. There was also a raccoon, and a monkey, and all sorts of other animals. Had they all come to look at the stars?
The more the merrier.
Yuu, had you called all these others here? Did our resident necromancer really have the ability to do something like that?
“I-I-I-I-It’s a bear! A-And a monkey! And a boar!”
Tomonori cowered behind my back.
“Calm down. It’s fine.”
“But… I have a cat allergy!”
It was honestly a bit refreshing watching Tomonori trembling with her eyes closed like that, so I couldn’t help but laugh.
“They’re not going to hurt us, right?” I asked Yuu that.
They won’t bite.
“See? It’s fine. Calm down.” I smacked Tomonori lightly on the head.
“B-But…” Tomonori still didn’t seem completely convinced as she began to rub the spot where I had hit her.
I went over to the bear and rubbed its head, in an attempt to show Tomonori that everything was fine.
The bear’s eyes were filled with kindness… as it cut through my clothes.
The boar and the monkey started trying to tear off my jeans.
“Agh! W-Wait, no! NOOooooooooo~~!!”
I soon found myself stripped of everything I had, like I had just been attacked by mountain bandits.
Why was everyone after my clothes today?!
The animals do not like Ayumu.
“I just met them though! So it’s just like how Haruna and Sera didn’t like me from first sight… why?”
Because they like that girl.
Yuu was looking at… Tomonori. I see. Tomonori had visited this mountain many times in order to look at the stars. So maybe all the other animals thought of her as a friend?
Ayumu is teasing her. So they think of him as an enemy.
“Ehhhh… but…” I started to object. Certainly, when the bear had first come upon us, it might’ve looked like I had pushed Tomonori to the ground. And I just whacked Tomonori on the head, so… ugh, these damn animals. Maybe I’ll show them who’s boss…
But at that moment, seeing me stripped bare, Tomonori gave me a big smile.
Seeing that, I realized how ridiculous this situation was, and I began to laugh as well.
“Ugh, it seems that our trip to look at the stars has turned into a trip to look at an immense pervert. Disgusting.”
Sera looked at me with quiet, cruel eyes, as if she was looking at something dirty on the floor.
“Your eyes, your words… they’re way too cold! Seriously, I’m getting chilled to the very bone here!”
I wrapped my arms around my own body.
Out. = “Okaay~~, we got a ‘cold’ from oniichan!”
Were we still playing that game?!
At that point, I received punishment from everyone in the clearing (animals included).
(1) Reference to A Dog of Flanders.