“What a surprise. Who would’ve thought it would be you three.”
Shinichi said with a face that did not look at all surprised. Really, his face was already void of all emotions.
It would be a lie to say that he wasn’t the slightest bit surprised, but he’d already suspected subconsciously that this might be the case.
In a place covered by a wooden sunshade, surrounded by fences to keep away the deer, were desks and chairs on which three students listlessly sat.
The three students weren’t complete strangers, but seeing them only made him think, ‘I knew it.’
The students noticed his arrival, but they were too listless to respond.
“…I take it it would be better for me to leave?” Frire asked.
“Yeah, sorry about this. I feel like I’m always asking you weird favors lately,” Shinichi said.
“At least you know,” Frire muttered as she left. As she passed by him, she quietly said, “I’ll be close by,” then vanished into the trees.
Though she could no longer be seen, her presence wasn’t that far away.
That was the most she could compromise. After all, it was indeed problematic to gather several students that were feeling bad and leave them on their own.
However, the reason behind their condition was a mystery, and Shinichi, who had the same symptoms, had asked her to gather them, so he probably had a way to remedy them.
She wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t right either. Alas, Shinichi could only feel apologetic as he took a seat of his own.
After all, the reason these
“Now then, my dear senpais. Our situations are almost exactly the same, and it’s really hard for me too, so I’ll get straight to the point.”
“What are you…”
Just like how a person was while suffering from a fever, the girls responded slowly, as if in a daze.
As he wondered if it had been too effective, he touched the talisman he’d hidden in his chest pocket.
On that talisman was the character for ‘Holy’, and it was continuing to torment him.
But he wasn’t showing any of that pain on his expression, so the girls couldn’t understand what he was saying.
“I’ll restore you if you answer my questions… Who are you people and where did you come from? Also what is the reason that you came to the school— I mean,
He asked them that without any change in expression, and the girls simultaneously reacted and raised their head, revealing that they were indeed the regular members of the Sports Chanbara club.
Though they were listless without a trace of their cheerfulness before, they were without a doubt Tomoe’s friends.
“P-Purpose? What are you talking about?”
“N-Nakamura, we feel really bad right now, so can you not make jokes…”
“It’s impressive how you insist on trying to fool me with that complexion of yours. As a reward, I’ll tell you why you feel so terrible. It’s really not a good idea to randomly pick up and eat deer crackers, you know. Especially, from a guy like me. There’s no telling what poison might be mixed in, after all.”
Shinichi smiled and the girls paled.
Their complexion had been terrible from the start, but it was visibly becoming worse.
Because they understood exactly what he was talking about.
Then as though to finish them off, he continued.
“Right, Ms. Deer A, B, and C?”
The three deer that approached him after they dealt with the raybeasts were in fact all shikis made to resemble deer and were controlled remotely.
They most likely only approached after Tomoe left because they believed no one else would be able to figure out their identity.
Unfortunately, Shinichi did in fact notice, and he fed the three crackers that contained a magic formula for poison, then connected a portion of his senses with the casters.
As a result, the discomfort and listlessness that he felt could be felt by them too.
“By the way, what you’re feeling right now is actually just a tenth of what I’m experiencing.”
“What are, you saying… auu.”
The girls were in disbelief, but Shinichi just smiled.
He spoke politely and slowly, but that seemed to only make his words crueler.
“If you won’t answer, then I’ll have to increase your share. What will you do?”
“Huh? No way!”
“In that case, let’s start off with an eighth.”
“Agah, what is this!? I can’t stop shaking!!”
“what, ah, my head is splitting apart!”
Though they didn’t understand what exactly Shinichi did to them, they collapsed and fell from their chairs.
If the figure he gave them were to be believed, then just increasing the symptoms by 20% was already too much to handle.
One groaned from the gastric-reflux-like sensation, another couldn’t stop shaking from the chills, and then another was assaulted by an intense headache that felt as though her head was about to burst.
Shinichi himself suffered the most from the headache, but he suffered from the other symptoms as well.
“Ah, don’t worry about filthying this place. I’ll clean up later. Feel free to throw up as much as you want. Though if you could, I’d prefer it if you could throw up the answer to my question instead of the contents of your stomach.”
As the girls threw up from their intensifying symptoms, Shinichi spoke as though none of this was related to him.
They couldn’t believe how cheerful his voice sounded, but they still managed to keep themselves from revealing anything.
“Well, that’s no good,” Shinichi shrugged his shoulders, then said cruelly. “In that case, let’s try a sixth, shall we?”
“Eek, ah… Uee, oee!!”
“Stop, stop it, ahh, it’s cold, it’s so cold, ahh…”
“It hurts, it hurts, it hurts! Stop it already!”
A nausea that only grew worse though there was nothing left to puke.
A chill akin to being left out in a blizzard with thin clothes.
A headache that felt just as though one was being smote in the head.
The girls writhed on the ground as they screamed in pain, but only a cold but polite voice came.
“What’s your answer?”
They had met just some two days ago, but the face the boy wore now was completely unlike that time.
He neither frowned nor showed pity nor took pleasure in their suffering.
So clerical and mechanical was his response that a shiver unlike their symptoms assaulted them.
“E-Enough! I’ll talk! I’ll talk, so make it stop already please!!”
One of the girls finally gave in, but no one criticized her.
They were all in pain, but they still nodded with what strength they had left.
“Alright, we’ll stop for the time being then. Just remember that I can make the pain go back anytime, okay?”
The girls nodded fearfully, and the boy nodded with a smile.
As he paused the connection of their senses, the symptoms they felt vanished as though they never had them. They heaved a breath of relief, but at the same time, they shuddered.
Because now it was clear that the boy before them was indeed responsible for their plight.
“It stopped, didn’t it? Well, now, why don’t you take a seat and start talking.”
The girls just barely managed to pick themselves back up, but he urged them on without a hint of pity.
Fearfully, one of them asked.
“…Are you really enduring pain six times worse than what we had to go through?”
“Ha ha, I understand it must be hard to believe. You must think it impossible, but I’ve always been good at it… Enduring. Whenever necessary, anyway.”
Otherwise, he wouldn’t endure this much pain either.
His smile was cheerful – and dubious – but a chill still crawled up their back.
His face did look worse than usual.
He was sweating more, and if they didn’t realize he was acting as usual, that was without a doubt the face of a sick person.
“More importantly, hurry up and take a seat, so we can talk. I’ve already taken precautions so that our conversation won’t leak outside.”
But what was really terrifying was how he acted as though the pain didn’t bother him in the slightest.
Just what was this
The girls fearfully took a seat and listlessly nodded.
“Fine, I mean… We understand. We’ll talk. But before that, please tell us who you are and what your objective is. Why did you approach
One of them spoke as a representative for the other two. She calmed down her ragged breathing and ask that question, as though to say that they wouldn’t talk otherwise.
She looked like the slightest touch of the wind could shatter her, yet she drew that line and refused to budge.
Shinichi had predicted several possibilities for their relationship with Tomoe, but it looks like one of the more problematic ones was about to come true.
“…’Sama’, huh. Moreover, you know how to properly use Kotodama too, the power of words. I take it you’re related with the Abe Clan?”
From the moment they used a shiki, it was a given that they would be related to the exorcist clans.
But there weren’t many people who knew Tomoe’s original name and would attach a sama to her name.
So he mentioned the most likely possibility, and with the stiff expression on their face, he was probably right. There was even a tinge of desperation on them.
“Don’t. Even if you risk your life, you won’t be able to scratch me. In the first place, your eyes are too honest. It’s almost meaningless the moment someone’s realized it.”
He criticized them mercilessly, judging their efforts to be in vain, and in doing so, suppressed them.
He bit his lips in frustration and considered sharing his senses with them again, but pity won out.
This was a troublesome development for both parties.
On one side was an evil god, and on the other was a righteous clan.
“It’s up to you whether to believe or not, but I’m not related with your clan. I only found out about your existence after meeting Tomoe. I checked my lineage just in case, but no matter how far I traced back, we’re just descended from some common peasants. Not a trace of a single eminent figure, no celebrities, nothing. Well, at least there didn’t seem to be any villains. That’s a relief.”
For the record, he was telling the truth. He investigated his lineage after finding out about the exorcist clans.
Not because he wanted to find out if he had any connections, but mostly to figure out if there were anything problematic in his lineage.
And as he mentioned, nothing of significance was found.
“A completely normal lineage… Yet I ended up like this.”
Until he came along, anyway. He laughed in self-mockery, revealing a disdainful smile that the girls did not know how to react to.
Until just awhile ago he’d been acting completely mechanically, yet now, he revealed emotions befitting that of a person.
In the end, which was it that was an act? They did not know.
“Now then, the free answers end here. I’ll tell you more if it becomes evident that you’re not harmful to me or those around me. Talk.”
His attitude flipped again, and this time he glared at them with such sharpness that they froze.
He hadn’t intended for that, but he found their reactions amusing.
Contrary to what he said, when he found out that they might not be enemies, the mischievous side of him revealed itself.
Teasing his enemies was a means of attack, but teasing those not hostile was his favorite past time.
The girls didn’t know about that, however, so they resigned themselves to their fate and started talking.
But their answer only left him with a glum face.