Night had arrived.
After finishing dinner, I neglected my summer vacation homework and looked up Getsushiyoukan on the internet.
Getsushiyoukan is only four years old, making it a swordsmanship dojo with a shallow history. However, its reputation is quite high and its branches continue to increase. It's vastly different from the Aogasaki dojo, which has only one location.
Their specialty is the "swordbics" workout based on scientific theory. Eighty percent of the pupils seem to be applicants for this course. There are also genuine courses, and they incorporate science-based training as well, resulting in many of their people ranking high in tournaments.
(Though they're a swordsmanship dojo, it seems that they reject the spiritual aspect of it. Perhaps they consider such a thing as a relic of the past.)
To start with──the path of the sword probably isn't that popular of a notion anymore. Again, another difference with the Aogasaki dojo.
(Are there people who've become talented through swordbics...? That would make it quite profitable.)
Though late at night, they have TV commercials on-air. It seems that they have advertisements in newspapers and magazines as well. They're very different from the Aogasaki dojo in all aspects.
...The more I look into it, the more I understand why Aogasaki doesn't like King Arthur.
The Aogasaki dojo and Getsushiyoukan are exact opposites. Their history, ideology, scope, and number of pupils all collide. If I were leading such an opposing, yet rising dojo within in the town...I would probably try to steal the limelight.
(If I were to guess, then King Arthur is probably a spoiled young man from a wealthy family. I'm sure that he has strength, but he's definitely not a likeable guy. He's basically just a guest character who tries to approach a heroine candidate.)
Then, Ryuuga will protect Aogasaki from such an unlikeable guy.
Depending on how it goes, perhaps Ryuuga and King Arthur will have a duel with Aogasaki on the line. It's a bit cliche, but that's fine. The typical route is the easiest.
(Normally, this means that Aogasaki would be one step ahead in the battle of who'll be the main heroine, but...)
Unfortunately, that won't be the case.
The protagonist is a woman. Behind their backs, she's been doing nothing but cosplaying as a maid, nurse, or other such things. She even wears brand name short panties.
(I wonder if Ryuga actually swings both ways.)
While thinking about such ridiculous things, I stepped out of my room and descended to the first floor.
Once I showed up in the living room, I saw a bobbed hair girl watching TV while courteously sitting down. She's one of the freeloading "Three of Princesses of Hell," Kiki.
From appearances, she looks completely like a kindergartener, but she's an apostle who's a general.
Her true identity is that of a Hokkaido wolf apostle...but it doesn't carry much intensity. Rather, her cute and fluffy appearance ends up being her weakness.
"Ah, Baron Ichirou."
While I sat on a cushion, Kiki took a single glance at me. However, her gaze soon turned back towards the screen, once again immersing herself in the TV.
...What's she immersing herself in is a recording of an evening program, filled with special effects, that airs every Saturday. It's about a giant hero fighting monsters, and is Kiki's favorite.
The title was something like "Spectacle Man," I think. Kiki already has four toy figures of the monsters who appeared on the show. Also, each one costs six hundred yen. The one who ends up having to buy them is me.
"You really do seem to like that show."
"I like it a lot. I could watch it dozens of times."
Thinking about it, it's a great program for someone who's been kept in the spirit world.
During my childhood, I was also delighted by such tales, and rooted for the heroes. However, after awakening to the charm of the supporting role, it reached the point where I only paid attention to people like the middle-aged commander, the middle-aged mechanic, or the middle-aged victim.
(Even when others pretended to be super heroes, I always picked the role of the middle-aged man...I even got offers from the neighboring class to do it...)
Such memories returned to me. Once Spectacle Man released a deadly beam of light as a finisher, Kiki pressed the stop button on the remote.
She then turned off the TV and started rummaging through a cardboard box near her. It was a box of Kiki's toys.
"You're not going to watch the end? That's the best part, isn't it?"
"Spectacle Man kills the monster afterwards. I don't want to watch that scene."
Normally, people would want to see that. Though, since she's an opponent character, I suppose that she would sympathize with the opponent characters in the show. Come to think of it, she doesn't want a figure of Spectacle Man himself...
"Forget about that, let's play, Baron Ichirou."
While saying that, she took out monster figures from her box and then placed them in a row on the table.
"I'll be the monster Berberon from beneath the earth. What about you, Baron Ichirou?"
"...Do I have to?"
I do have the usual worries, but the three princesses have been growing accustomed to living with humans.
Though they're somehow in the upper echelons among the opponents, I'd like it if they were more dignified and overbearing. Just a while ago, the three gathered together to participate in the neighborhood litter-collecting activity.
While I was dumbfounded, the bobbed-haired girl pointed at a short and stout monster.
I recommend this glacier monster, Ujaranga. He's the coolest one, he froze Spectacle Man in ice."
"Can't I be a middle-aged man?"
"There are no figures of middle-aged men."
"I can act it myself."
"You're too big. Rejected."
With Ujaranga being forced onto me, I reluctantly prepared myself for the role.
At that moment, a tall beauty entered the living room while wearing pajamas.
"Ah, that was a nice bath."
She was a woman with enormous breasts who wiped her wet, long, blonde hair with a towel while seeming in a good mood. She was another one of the freeloading "Three Princesses of Hell," Jyuri.
"Oh, Ichirou. Did you finish your homework?"
With a graceful smile, Jyuri sat down next to us. Her chest measured to an outstanding I-cup, and it seemed like the buttons on her pajamas would fly off at any moment.
"Sorry, but I went ahead and took a bath first. Do you want to enter it, Ichirou?"
"I'm fine with taking a bath before I go to bed."
"Right now, the underwear I took off is in the bathing room. Why don't you sniff them?"
"I will not!"
The risque character who just got out of the bath is a king cobra apostle.
"Jyuri, you came at a good time. You can be the space monster Dragigo."
"Playing with monsters again? It seems you like them, Kiki."
Jyuri shrugged her shoulders with a bitter smile. She had been wounded before by the heroines, but it seems that the injuries have healed already. As expected of a general.
"Let's begin now. I'm excited after watching the TV show."
"I suppose I have no choice...Just for a bit, okay?"
Perhaps her sense of responsibility as the eldest daughter-ish person is why she decided to go along with it.
Though, I'm concerned about how Jyuri's been constantly fiddling with Dragigo's horn using her fingers. She's been excessively twirling her fingers around the tip, stroking it, poking it. Isn't she caressing the monster?
...While wondering whether or not I should ask about it, the monster battle had begun.
Kiki was Berberon, I was Ujaranga, and Jyuri was Dragigo.
"Take this, Dragigo. Tah."
"Ah, no, don't be so rough."
"You really are that kind of character!"
I somewhat anticipated it, but Jyuri spoke the forbidden words. It's hard to deal with how she puts her acting ability to waste.
"I'll end you. Toh."
"Stop, I wanted to preserve my..."
"Over here, Dragigo!"
In order to stop the suggestive scene, I intervened while acting as Ujaranga.
However, Kiki's Berberon was strong. Not only did she headbutt it with Ujaranga and knock the figure out of my hand, but she then had it headbutt me.
"Wait! I don't get how these rules work! Why are you attacking me?! Could it be that I'm actually playing the role of a giant middle-aged man?!"
"Hurry and pick up Ujaranga. As long as you don't, you're the target, Baron Ichirou. But if you can summon Ujaranga into the field again, you'll automatically gain five hundred prism points."
"I don't get how these rules work!"
"Ichirou, save me!"
"Guh, I resummon Ujaranga! I'll use all of my prism points!"
"You can't use points when there are three monsters on the field."
"I don't get how these rules work!"
In the next moment, Berberon flew high into the air. Or rather, Kiki got onto the table and raised the figure as high as she could.
"This is it, Dragigo! Tail attack!"
"Aah! So thick and long! This is first time I've seen something like this!"
"The neighbors can probably hear you!"
Like so, we kept making noise until Mion arrived.
The girl, who had her hair to the side and wore her usual apron, looked at the three of us in shock. In her hands was a tray of watermelon slices.
"I've cut the watermelon. Everyone sit down, and stop fooling around."
Once the down-to-earth second daughter spoke, we stopped the monster battle and gathered around a table.
As of this moment, there's nobody in the Kobayashi house who would go against her. If one opposed her, their meal servings would decrease.
"Kiki. Haven't I always been saying not to get up onto the table?"
"Jyuri. You pamper her too much. You've been buying expensive things for her, haven't you?"
After scolding the two for their misconduct, Mion finally turned towards me.
I wondered if she was going to scold me as well...and I was trembling in fear from it, but Mion asked me a question with a composed, though a little timid, expression.
"Now then, Ichirou. What happened today?"
"I mean, you see...is Aogasaki actually getting married?"
It seems that she's worried about her for some reason.
Come to think of it, she was also a little restless during dinner as well. It seems that she not only has the "mother attribute," but also the "tsundere attribute" as well.
"No. Apparently, it's not marriage, but a formal marriage interview. She'll refuse the marriage proposal."
"I, I see. Well, it's not like I care, though."
What a dishonest apostle. I wanted to tease her about it, but I decided that it would be better to drop the matter. Otherwise, I'd get reduced servings.
(I believe that the blind date with King Arthur is the day after tomorrow. Though, all I can do is sit here and wait until I hear about the results.)
While thinking as such, I spit out watermelon seeds.
My cellphone in my pocket then received a message. I checked it and saw that Ryuuga had sent it.
'To Ichirou. There's something I'd like to discuss with you...What do you think about following Rei on her date? It might be intrusive, but I'm really worried.'
Yup. Just as I suspected.
The protagonist had quickly decided to intervene. It's puzzling that she would choose me over any of the heroines, but this is within the acceptable limits of a friend character.
I understand Ryuuga's feelings. To be honest, I kind of want to observe the date as well.
The dojo's management. Aogasaki's father's retirement. That mob, whose name I already forget, who switched over to Getsushiyoukan──these are just a few of the worries I have about this marriage proposal.
Given the circumstances, it's possible that Aogasaki will end up in a situation where "she is forced to accept the marriage." Ryuuga definitely thinks the same way after today's conversation. It's the protagonist's insight.
(Though I don't want to stand out that much...being an extra who tags along with the protagonist shouldn't be an issue.)
Deciding as such, I soon sent a reply expressing my agreement.
Looking at the date, today's August 16th. The second semester is soon approaching.
I've hardly made any progress on my summer vacation homework.