When I left class C while at a loss, I received a message from Ryuuga.
It seems that she'll be walking around the school with Goutokuji for a bit. She probably couldn't refuse the invitation from her in person. As usual, she's a protagonist who's easily pressured.
(I'm so exhausted. I didn't think that Goutokuji would hijack Ryuga...but, I shouldn't get in the way of their mini-date. I don't want to face Goutokuji's Hokuto Gosho Ha.)TLNThis a reference to Fist of the North Star. Hokuto Gosho Ha is a palm attack.
After thinking for a while, I decided to check with second-year Class E, where Kurogame is. I'm pretty sure her class is doing a "haunted house."
Since Ryuuga's not good with monsters, if she enters the class, she might accidentally reveal her identity as girl. That being the case, now would be the time to visit this place...that's my conclusion.
(Come to think of it, where did Shima and Saihiru go? If they come across Mion, things might get troublesome. Perhaps I should look for them.)
Proceeding through a crowded hallway, second-year Class E came into view.
Coincidentally, Yukimiya was there. It seems that she came to see Kurogame as well.
"Hey, Yukimiya. Are you free right now?"
"Yes, weren't you with Hinomori, Kobayashi?"
"Unfortunately, Ryuga's been blocked by a catcher."
Not understanding, Yukimiya tilted her head to the side, so I explained the details of the "matchmaking game" to her.
When she heard me mention Mion's name, she had a very apologetic expression.
"I'm sorry, Kobayashi. I'm the one who gave Mion an admission ticket."
"I, is that so?"
"Yes, she really wanted one at any cost...so I gave my two tickets to Mion and Kiki."
"So that bobbed-haired girl is here as well...?"
Not everyone can visit Oumei High School's school festival. Only those with admission tickets can enter the school.
Each student receives two tickets, and they're free to give them to anyone. Saihiru and Shima probably got their tickets from Agito. Mion and Kiki got theirs from Yukimiya.
Oh, and Jyuri doesn't need a ticket. After all, she's the school nurse.
"By the way, Yukimiya. Is Tao remaining quiet right now?"
"Yes. Just earlier, I let her eat two chocolate bananas. Then, I promised that I would let her eat yakisoba as well."
Isn't she spoiling her a bit too much? Though, it's all going into Yukimiya's stomach...
While I was thinking about such things, Yukimiya suddenly lowered her gaze with a gloomy mood.
"Sebastian...really is at Qiongqi's place, isn't he? Thinking about it, today's the day his holiday's supposed to be over."
Yukimiya uttered those words while still looking down.
...Come to think of it, Renie applied for a one week holiday as Sebastian, didn't he? Given the situation, it's likely that he will resign right afterwards.
Furthermore, the end of that one week holiday also signifies the end of the cease-fire with Qiongqi. If that "Shota Evil Spirit" makes a move, Renie might do something as well. Part three starts tomorrow.
"I believe you and Hinomori are in the same situation as well, but...my parents are busy with their work, so they rarely come home."
As Yukimiya continued to ponder, she caught the attention of many guys passing by.
However, nobody tried to speak to her. They probably judged from her facial expression that she wasn't in the mood to deal with people trying to hit on her.
"It's all thanks to Sebastian that I didn't feel lonely. He would always tell my parents 'For the Young Lady's sake, please return to the mansion, even if it's a bit of a hassle.' Was that really...just an act?"
While I didn't say anything, Yukimiya looked up and stared at me with serene eyes.
"Do you remember, Kobayashi? Once, you accompanied us to a boat party, right? You were there under the pretense of a novice butler."
"Yeah, of course I remember."
"Sebastian said that he wanted to raise a successor as soon as possible...and those words were genuine. At that time, he might have already been thinking about──leaving my side."
"Say, Yukimiya. Speaking of which, there's one thing I'd like to confirm."
While staring at Yukimiya as she bit her lip, I asked her a question instead of replying to her thoughts.
This is something I should've asked earlier. I already told her that I met Renie at the supermarket.
"Confirm? What is it?"
"This is something I only noticed recently, but Renie has a ring of beads on his right index finger. Could that be...?"
"Yes, it's a ring I gave him. I made it when I was still in elementary school...I told him many times that he could take it off, but he kept saying 'This is important,' to me."
I thought so.
A handmade toy ring isn't something a butler from a large company would wear. It was a present from Yukimiya, and Renie is still wearing it.
(Now that it's come to this, things are just getting more complicated...does Renie really see Yukimiya as Tao's vessel and nothing else? Did he really abandon his identity as Sebastian?)
That spider apostle is trying to get on Qiongqi's good side...that's for sure.
However, in the end, I'm not really sure what Renie's true motives are. It seems too hasty to regard him as an enemy character and defeat him when things are so confusing.
If possible, I'd like "Yukimiya Shiori's side story" to conclude with Renie coming back. It would be nice, albeit perhaps too convenient.
I don't want this episode to end with Yukimiya crying──those are my honest feelings.
"Yukimiya, it seems we should try to speak with Renie again. You should throw your thoughts at him."
"Huh? B, but..."
"Like Elmira said, don't give up. If you give up, the episode will end there. It'll be fine, I'll do something about it."
"This is my own selfish desire, I shouldn't bother you with it..."
"I said it already at the arcade, didn't I? I'll definitely resolve your problem. It's not just about Tao now, it's also about Renie too. I have a wide range of measures for any unlikely incident or trouble...that's my motto."
I spoke like an insurance salesman to Yukimiya, who frowned and sighed with discomfort. For a peace of mind, I recommend Kobayashi Support.
"I will definitely bring Renie to you. Even if I have to drag him."
"Even if I have to beat him, trick him, swap him with a random foreigner walking on the street, I will definitely bring him to you. Leave it to Kobayashi Support for reliance and results!"
"That sounds fishy! That Kobayashi Support!"
Though Yukimiya retorted, she let out a chuckle.
Her sweet smile caught me off guard. If she participated in the "matchmaking game" as well, perhaps the vampire and heron apostle would lose to her.
"Though, you have a point. I also said something when we were at the arcade. I decided that I would follow your orders...since you're my 'exclusive advisor.'"
"Right. While we're at it, please listen to my cooking advice."
"I'm fine on cooking. I'm confidant that my cooking is at a three-star level."
"Yeah, three death stars!"
"Y, you're cruel! My cooking has Taotie's seal of approval!"
Yukimiya, regaining her energy, hit me.
In front of me, a girl I recognized with short hair appeared.
"Oh, it's Ii and Shio! Did you come to our haunted house?"
Sure enough, it was Kurogame. Apparently, she's in charge of the reception and wasn't dressed up as a monster.
An excellent decision, in my opinion. Such a cheerful, noisy person isn't fit for the role of a monster.
"It'll only take five minutes! Then you'll be bantamweight levels of scared!"
While I was frowning, Yukimiya grabbed me by the hand, stood at the end of the line, and said "Now then, let's go inside while we still have the chance to."
Though, there were only two people waiting. It's fortunate that it'll be noon soon, so customer traffic has decreased.
(I did originally intend to come here, so I guess I'll enjoy the scene with Yukimiya. It's sad that Goutokuji snatched Ryuga though...)
Though unfortunately, things went a little differently than I thought.
It seems that people have to enter the haunted house one at a time. It was a strict measure to prevent couples from chatting and giggling.
"How unfortunate. I wanted you to be my escort, but...well, pardon me for going first."
After a bow, Yukimiya headed into the dark room.
Kurogame's voice as she said "We'll show you the way~," was clearly not suited for a haunted house. She sounded like someone in a restaurant.
Making use of the brief waiting time, I continued thinking about measures towards the spider apostle.
(For now, I think we should postpone trying to persuade him to coexist with humanity. Setting that aside, the important thing is to stop his alliance with Qiongqi.)
Renie is trying to partner with Qiongqi because Tao's faction isn't strong enough.
His subordinates are in a different world and there's no way to call them over.
That being the case, what about negotiating with Hundun to have him open a door to the spirit world and call together those subordinates? Would Renie reassess his plan if he gains a bit of strength against Qiongqi?
(Shizuma's job will be easier if the number of apostles in the spirit world decreases. We need him to seize control over the spirit world before Qiongqi notices...)
When I got to that point, my thoughts were interrupted.
There was suddenly a large shriek coming from Class E's room. It was the very familiar sound of the "Inelegant Evil Spirit."
"Dohyaaaah! Somethin' popped out!"
It was Tao. I already knew it was Tao. That idiot, she appeared without permission again!
Next, there were the sounds of banging, things falling over, and objects collapsing. Then, without the slightest delay, several students dressed as monsters tumbled into the hallway, one after the other.
"S, something appeared!"
"A monster popped out!"
"A giant ghost woman, like Sadako!"
Seeing the Class E staff panic, Kurogame was confused.
"W, what happened, everyone?! Of course something would pop out! It's a haunted house!"
"Not that, Rina! The real thing appeared! A real one with no legs!"
"Is it because we didn't do a proper exorcism?!"
"This is a school festival, there's no way this place can be cursed!"
Entrusting the shivering monsters to Kurogame, I immediately rushed into the classroom.
In the darkness, closed off by thick curtains, I advanced while cautious of toppled desks and chairs...thereupon finding Yukimiya.
The idol of the school stood with her head hanging down, as if her soul had been sucked out. And behind her──
The "giant ghost woman," who appeared twenty years old, with strange long hair and a thin black dress over her frail body, appeared.
"Hey, Tao! You know that you shouldn't appear! Withdraw now!"
"I, Ichirou...I'm scared...I'm scareeeed!"
"You're the one that's scary!"
Turning towards me, Tao (in her battle form) had her long bangs covering her face. However, looking into her eyes from the gaps between her hairs, there was an eerie glow.
In terms of visual fright, she's the "Evil Spirit" at the top. Though, that crumbles down when she talks.
"I'm fine with apostles, but monsters ain't no good..."
"There's no difference between them!"
"My feet are frozen in place..."
"You don't even have feet!"
"And for some reason, I got heartburn goin' on..."
"That's because you ate two chocolate bananas!"
"Ah, right. In times like these, ya gotta divert the fear by dancin'. Ichirou, watch my Soran Bushi from over there."TLNSoran Bushi is a famous traditional song and dance, often associated with fishing.
"That's too surreal! Sadako doing the Soran Bushi!"
...Not much time passed afterwards. I somehow managed to calm down Tao and have her withdraw into Yukimiya.
I then carried Yukimiya to the infirmary since she fainted. I told Kurogame and the others that "There was no Sadako, Kayako, or Hanako."TLNIf you don't remember, Sadako is the girl from The Ring. Kayako is the girl from The Grudge. Hanako is a reference to a Japanese urban legend about the spirit of a young girl who haunts school bathrooms.
(Come to think of it, wasn't Tie bad with monsters as well? He once saw a horror movie and couldn't go to the restroom alone for a while.)
Keep your calm, "Evil Spirits."
Well, our protagonist isn't good with monsters either.