There's always time to fool around ...oh, he didn't mean it like that.
Music: play track 1
............ Not here.
.................. Not here.
........................ Not here.
She's not anywhere on the first floor.
The only place I haven't been are the locked recreation rooms, the guest rooms, and the salon where Akiha is right now.
"...... I guess she's on the second floor then."
It is a big mansion, so there's probably a bunch of places I haven't looked.
Psyching myself up, I start up the stairs.
I go up the stairs and glance down the hallway.
I see Hisui's silhouette standing by the window in the east hall of the mansion.
Music: play track 9
...... I can't... speak.
Something about her seems... dangerous.
Hisui lingering in the gloom of this western-style mansion.
She seems so incredibly beautiful; but at the same time, a chill runs through me, as if I were looking at a ghost.
I think for pure 'creepy', this path wins.
She doesn't even move a finger. She simply stares out the window.
Is that the same one she watched us from back then?
I can't do anything but stare in fascination.
I'm so dumbstruck I can't speak, or even blink. I can only watch her.
Her eyes, still like that of a doll's, suddenly turn towards me.
"I was looking for you because I had some free time and thought I'd give you a hand. For some reason, I couldn't find you, but I made it."
" ...... I see. But Shiki-sama, there is no need for you to do that. Please return to your room."
I thought it would turn out like this, Hisui doesn't want me to do any work.
"But Hisui, I don't have anything else to do. I don't like just doing nothing, so I thought I ought to pitch in."
"Shiki-sama, you may say that, but there is no longer any work that you might assist me with. The only thing that remains is to arrange Akiha's bedroom.
No males are allowed to enter Akiha's bedroom. Not even you, Shiki-sama."
Well, that's definitely true.
...... But, it is a little cruel. She didn't have to emphasize that last part.
Music: play track 1
"Shiki-saaan, can you come here for a moment?"
Kohaku-san's cheerful voice calls from the lobby.
"Nii-san? Kohaku is calling you. Did you do anything to make her call for you?"
"No, I don't remember anything---I'll be right back."
Wow. Akiha even gives him shit just because the maid wants to talk to him.
"You have something to tell me? Is it a secret or something?"
"Yes. If Akiha-sama were to hear it, she would get mad at you, Shiki-san."
Something Akiha would get mad over......?
Shiki left the toilet seat up? He has a pimple on his neck? He left his bedroom door open a crack? He accidentally breathed?
"What do you mean? I haven't done anything to make her mad."
Like that matters
"Oh, it isn't anything you did. But you know, while you were eating with Akiha-sama, a guest came to see you."
Thump. I feel as if my world is enveloped in darkness.
Isn't it Yumizuka Satsuki, who ran away from home---
"She asked 'Is this Tohno-san's mansion?' And I answered 'Yes it is.' Then she asked 'Is Tohno-kun here now?'"
"...... Hmm. And then what, Kohaku-san?"
"Yes, well she seemed to want to talk to you, but she refused when I asked if she wanted to come in. She seemed okay that she would not get to meet you right now."
Kohaku-san wonders aloud what it was all about, and she tilts her head.
But, I'm the one who wants to know.
"Why------why did Yumizuka-san come to my place......"
I don't know.
I don't know, but, I have a bad feeling about this.
"...... Kohaku-san, how long ago was this?"
"Um, it was before the end of dinner, so about ten minutes ago."
"--! And, which direction did she go?"
"She went down the hill, towards the station, I think."
---Can I make it?
If I run---if I get lucky, I might make it.
"...... Got it. I'll be gone for a little bit, so please keep this a secret from Akiha."
"I understand. If Akiha-sama found out, she would not leave you alone, Shiki-san."
Giving a quick bow to the smiling and cheerful Kohaku-san, I run down the road and into the night.
"...... I, knew...... it wouldn't, be this easy, to find, her......"
Trying to control my breathing, I start to run again.
Oh, now I'm sure it's nothing bad... what could possibly be wrong?
---I'll be going. Bye-bye, Tohno-kun.
That was a goodbye just like any other.
...... A truly happy, gentle smile.
That was not the face of someone who'd run away from home.
---Tohno-kun, help me when I'm in a pinch, okay?
Yes, it really is that simple.
I just... don't want to betray that smile----
I come to the front of the station once more.
It's already past nine o'clock.
It's probably because of all the recent serial killings that the area around the station is quite empty already.
----At that moment,
For an instant, I doubt my eyes.
But the back of the figure in front of me, it resembles Yumizuka Satsuki too much.
Yumizuka walks quickly into the midst of the crowd.
...... I can't tell for sure.
I may have been wrong, but I decided I should catch up to her and call out to her.
I shout while running.
Did she hear me? Yumizuka quickly turns around to face my direction.
That face... there's no confusing it.
The girl walking ahead of me is unmistakably Yumizuka Satsuki, and the expression on her face wasn't frightening.
My heart starts to pound quickly.
The back of my head throbs heavily, and my throat is burning.
Nanaya: May cause dizziness, headaches, dryness of the throat, or slight fever. Do not use if pregnant.
"What is this... It's weird..."
The inside of my body is burning.
I feel dizzy as if I'm in the grip of a terrible fever.
In that moment, Yumizuka begins to walk again.
Something is... strange.
I know that, but I couldn't tell what it is.
Right now, all I can do is follow Yumizuka Satsuki.
I lose sight of her.
Yumizuka Satsuki, whom I had been chasing without success, is nowhere to be seen.
"...... Shit... What the hell is going on...!"
I stop, catching my breath.
My chest heaves deeply.
...... Though I hadn't realized until now, I must have been running for a long time.
"What... time is it...?"
Resting my hands on my knees, I glance up at a nearby store window.
It is--already midnight.
"----Can't be. I couldn't have been running for that long."
...... It's hard to believe, but the clock is correct.
Looking around, most all the lights in the shopping district are off.
It's midnight. Shiki almost gives up looking when he suddenly hears a sound from a nearby alley. It occurs to him that he shouldn't get involved, but he has to check with his panelists first.
I believe somebody wanted to see this. We didn't pick it last time, at any rate.
Music: play track 1
She would be anyway
...... There's no one in the lobby.
It is late after all.
Akiha, Hisui and Kohaku-san are most likely fast asleep in their rooms.
"...... I couldn't find you after all, Yumizuka-san."
You just weren't looking hard enough.
But I know she has to be somewhere.
Then----for sure, she will come to school tomorrow.
I return to my room silently so as not to wake Akiha and the others.
It's getting late.
To get ready for tomorrow, I have to hurry up and go to sleep.
My, what an ominous chapter title...
Music: play track 2
"Yes. Good morning Shiki-sama."
"Ah, right----yeah, morning Hisui."
I get up as I answer.
This is my room, and just like yesterday, Hisui came to wake me up.
"Thanks. I'll change and head to the sitting room, so you can go back to what you were doing."
"Yes. Then I will be waiting in the sitting room."
Hisui bows her head and walks to the door.
Tap, tap, tap.
Her footsteps are louder than normal.
She reaches the door and then turns around.
It was very rude to leave your loving maid in the dark like that, Shiki.
"...... No, it is not necessary for you to say such a thing, Shiki-sama. It is the duty of us servants to work in accordance with the schedule of our masters.
However, I humbly request that you at least contact us. Whatever the circumstances, you should still be able to let us know."
"----You're right. Sorry. I'll keep my promise from now on."
"I understand. Then please excuse me."
You tell him, girl.
"...... That was rare. Hisui seemed pretty angry."
She's always so expressionless, it seemed she really gets angry when she does get angry.
...... As if I did something really terrible.
You did. ...she was waiting for you
"----Well then, time to get up."
After changing out of my pajamas and into my school uniform, I head to the sitting room.
"Good morning, Nii-san."
Sitting on the sofa, Akiha greets me and looks at my expression.
"...... Ah, morning. Sorry about last night."
Returning her greeting, I head to the dining room.
There really isn't that much time for me to stay and chat with Akiha--and I myself don't really feel like talking to anyone at all.
"Nii-san, I would like to speak with you a little--is that alright?"
"Speak with me? I don't really mind."
"I mean... yes! Of course, my dearest, darling sister!"
I sit on the sofa across from Akiha.
"This is cutting straight to the heart of the matter, but what were you doing last night? Hisui says you returned late at night.
Nii-san, you know about our eight o'clock curfew, correct?"
Akiha asks me with a direct stare.
"Sorry for breaking the curfew. A classmate of mine seemed to be having a lot of trouble so I went looking for her...... Well, all I ended up doing was walk around. I apologize for being late, but it isn't a big deal."
"Just walking the streets IS something. You are still a minor, so please do not wander out late at night. Even if you weren't, there have been a lot of disturbances going on."
"...... Maybe I am a minor, but I don't do anything dangerous. I don't care for drinking or anything like that. You can just relax.
And I'm a guy after all. Walking around town at night isn't dangerous."
Only Shiki could even think the word 'selfish' in Akiha's presence and not apply it straight to her.
"Goodness. If you do that what would others think? For the eldest son of the Tohno family to collapse late at night in town, the rumors would make me so embarrassed I couldn't even go to school."
"Uh------that may be true, but..."
...... Akiha seems to be worrying about herself.
I start to think I was stupid for thinking last night was selfish.
Hahaha, damn right.
"Anyway, please keep the curfew tonight. If you break it again, I will have to hand down a punishment on you as head of the household."
Akiha whirls around quickly and exits the room.
"...... Punishment, Akiha?"
I think it was a joke, but she certainly sounded serious.
Kohaku-san's voice rings out from the dining room.
I rise and head towards the dining room.
Music: play track 3
"Yo. are you looking for something Tohno-kun?"
...... The familiar face of my friend appears from the side like a crab.
"Yeah. I'm in the middle of looking, so don't get in my way, Arihiko."
"Oh reeeeally? If you're looking for Sacchin, it's useless. It seems she'll skip school today too."
Arihiko giggles meaningfully...... He seems to have seen right through me.
"...... What's this Sacchin thing?"
"Sacchin is Sacchin. Miss Yumizuka was taken in by the police last night and is now under house arrest. Takada-kun told me while he was eating chocolate."
"Eh----Yumizuka-san returned home?"
Something seems a little out of place.
"Hey. If you don't believe me ask Takada-kun. He seems to be one of Yumizuka's neighbors."
I look around to my classmate nearby.
"...... No, I'll pass. Takada-kun isn't one to spread rumors so it's most likely true."
"Yeah. A lot of girls have gone by to visit her and Kunifuji went this morning to her house...... Well, it seems like Yumizuka will have a rough time for a while."
Arihiko returns to his chair with a difficult expression.
----The homeroom bell rings.
Still feeling a bit vague about it all, I wait for Kunifuji-sensei's arrival.
Teacher visits Sacchin. Teacher does not come back. Surely there is nothing unusual or suspicious about this, not at all.
There's no need to laze around here.
I should go back to the mansion and think about what to do from there. I stand out of my chair.
"Will Second Year, Third Class Tohno Shiki-kun please report to the Staff Room immediately."
Says the intercom announcement.
"...... What's this? I didn't do anything to be called up."
Tilting my head out of question, I leave the classroom.
Music: play track 1
----Come to think of it, maybe it is natural.
The school was bound to find out it I was walking around late at night in my school uniform.
My school is second-rate but still oriented towards attending university so there are a lot of troublesome rules.
...... After being sternly warned by the student guidance counselor, I end up writing an essay of apology.
The teacher finally did come back, and is now acting strangely. Surely this is completely normal and not at all worthy of suspicion.
Of course, the classroom is empty.
I walk over to my desk to take the bag in my hand and exit to the hallway.
"Good evening, Tohno-kun."
Suddenly, someone calls my name.
She smiles as she says so.
A gentle, carefree smile like before.
So why is it?
For no reason, a chill runs up through my spine.
"I see... it was you next door. Huhu, the school rooms are narrow so you can somehow understand what is going on next door.
Your live body warmth or your breathing... it would have been nice for me to enjoy it longer."
Our eyes meet.
"That strong, youthful heartbeat of yours... delicious blood coursing through your veins... -er... I mean... hi! Did we say hi already?"
This instability as if the floor was bending.
"But it's great timing. I... have a request for you Tohno-kun. Is it alright?"
"Uh----sure, I'll do it if I can."
"Really? Then I'll ask. Tohno-kun, can you go out with me?"
Well, if that's it... sure.
"Sure, do you have something you need to buy? I don't think there's too many good stores open right now though."
She looks at me blankly.
...... Huh? It seems like I was a little off.
"Oh, that's not it Tohno-kun. I'm not asking you to take me out shopping. I'm asking you to go out with me like a lover."
Yumizuka-san giggles happily.
After... such a sudden confession... my brain... doesn't seem to work... properly.
Music: play track 4
"Yeah...... there's, no problem... I think."
"Really!? Yay! Then I'll call you Shiki-kun from now on! I'm so glad. I was worried that you might hate me for saying that.
...... Yeah. Maybe I didn't need to use the teacher to make sure you stayed late."
I don't quite grasp what she said.
Actually, that's one of the few poses where her eyes are brown again.
"----Yeah. You did well, Yumizuka-san."
"...... Yeah. So, hey. Maybe I should get a reward from you, Shiki-kun?
I've been waiting so long----I want you to do it, Shiki-kun."
"Simple. I want you to kiss me, Shiki-kun."
Nanaya: ...Nanaya? Where are you? Hellooooo? Little help here...?
"...... Alright. Don't move, Yumizuka-san."
I walk towards Yumizuka-san.
The dry sounds of my footsteps.
I walk in between the desks to draw closer to the girl by the window.
...... As I do,
I see the bodies of many female students collapsed in between the desks as if they were hidden.
Blood flows from each of their necks.
But still----I couldn't care less about them.
"Eh. I never liked them anyway."
----Yumizuka-san doesn't move.
Grabbing both her arms, I press my lips to hers emotionlessly.
"...... Huhu. With this, you are mine Shiki-kun."
Her whisper sounds incredibly evil.
"Relax Shiki-kun. I won't make you like them. All you have to do is listen to my voice just like this."
----Her cold voice.
I don't understand at all what she's doing.
Even though I don't understand anything, I know this is so wrong it makes me nauseous.
I strain my arms and legs as I crawl on the floor.
But even that was stopped with her voice.
"No. You can't get away. I won't let you get away.
...... C'mon. First we have to expand my world. You'll help me won't you? You broke your promise to help me whenever I was in a pinch, so you have to listen to whatever I say from now on."
Nanaya: Don't let this happen to you! Get Nanaya today.
Music: play track 3
And now the hint corner for the sake of the precocious Tohno-kun who easily meets another Dead End,
It is time for "Teach me, Ciel-sensei!"
Now, the first period lesson of the third day. The only remaining lessons are about Akiha-san's route.
Enough, it is big trouble.
A girl your own age is in trouble, so this is no time to be shying away from danger.
Please go back a little earlier and be sure to investigate the back alley.
Well then, see you in the next lesson!
I don't think any of us do.