Music: play track 3
I head out to the lobby and run into Hisui right away.
She must be tidying things up, because there's a cloth and a feather duster at her feet.
"Hisui, can I have a minute?"
"Shiki-sama? Did you not return to your room?"
"No, I won't. You and Kohaku-san seemed so busy, I feel bad just lounging around and doing nothing."
Hisui just looks at me silently.
"What do you mean? Isn't it alright? Cleaning this huge mansion by yourself is hard, so let me help just a little bit, please?"
"You say that, but there is not so much that I require assistance...... Actually, I can say that since Nee-san is not here, I have an easier time."
"? Huh? Cleaning is easier... when Kohaku-san isn't here?"
"Ah--no, well, I mean--that........."
Did she accidentally let something slip out? She looks down as she stammers for an excuse.
...... It's something I don't see everyday, so I smile at her.
Now now, Shiki, you can't hide anything from Hisui. She wubs you!
Hisui just looks at me.
...... Perhaps what she said just now might be more of taboo for Kohaku-san than I thought it was.
"I understand; I won't tell her, so please stop looking at me like that."
"...... I remember now. Even long ago, you would always do pranks and tease others for no reason. Are you perchance planning on doing something devious like you did back then, Shiki-sama?"
"No, not really. I just wanted to see how your face looked if you were a little distressed, that's all."
...... Crap. Why do I blurt out the truth like that?
Because you wub her!
"Shiki-sama. I still have duties remaining to finish, so if you have free time, please go help Nee-san. As you say, I am very busy so I can not keep you company."
Hisui turns away and starts to clean the flower vases.
...... It seems that even though I wanted to help, I made her angry.
"...... Um, Hisui?"
"Yes, what is it?"
But Hisui still responds courteously, so I think she's really nice.
"About before--ah, if you don't want to answer, you don't have to.
Well, Kohaku-san is always sweeping in the courtyard, and she doesn't really clean in the house that often. Does it have anything to do with what you said earlier?"
"Eh...... Yes, it, is related, somewhat......"
"Shiki-sama, you do not understand, so it is easy for you to say that. Nee-san has tried to excuse the breaking of several items all in the name of cleaning, and not just ten or twenty times.
If she becomes serious, her cleaning becomes more like a whirlwind. She has that sort of... talent."
As she speaks, I can almost see a fiery aura form around Hisui.
...... It seems that she has been the victim of Kohaku-san's cleaning many times.
It's time for my super secret, ultimate technique passed down through one hundred generations of my family! Behold, the Ultra Spotless Scrubbing Technique, Mop of the Zephyr!
"...... I see. I'm--quite surprised."
"...... Yes. Nee-san knows about it too. After Akiha-sama and I discussed it, we decided and told her it was better for her to work outside in the garden or do other non-cleaning chores. She was very down and disheartened back then."
"...... Well, if she did break things and was told not to clean, I guess she would be a little disappointed......"
Um, I still can't quite picture that happy Kohaku-san looking down.
"Speak of the devil... a sexy devil."
"Nee-san--is there something you need?"
"Yes, I needed another hand, so I thought maybe Shiki-san could come help me."
Smiling, Kohaku-san faces me.
"But, it seems I was too late. Shiki-san, please continue helping Hisui-chan."
"Nee-san. Shiki-sama is not really helping me at the moment."
Hisui responds very matter-of-factly.
...... Well, that's how it is.
"Ah, is that so? Then Shiki-san, are you free?"
"---That's right. If you need another hand, I'll lend you one. But, I'm not sure if I'd be any help. I don't ever cook or anything."
"Not at all, it is something anyone can do. Come on, please lend me a hand."
Kohaku-san takes my hand and pulls me with her.
That pot looks pretty likely to bean somebody in the head if they're not careful.
"Here, please wash your hands and use this apron."
I don't know whose tastes this is a reflection of, but she hands me an apron that says "Quiet Unsociable Person" on it.
That's the verbose way of saying "emo". It fits Shiki perfectly.
"I'll start you off with a simple task, Shiki-san. When it's all done, I have another task just for you."
Kohaku-san is in a good mood.
First, I have to take the shells off all these shrimp.
Whick, whick, whick.
The sound of a knife lightly hitting the cutting board.
Kohaku-san's humming fills the kitchen.
................................. She must be immersed in cooking because she doesn't say much.
As for me, I actually enjoy peeling the shrimp, and keep on peeling the skin.
...... You know, this really brings back memories.
Before the incident and before I left the mansion, I played like this several times with Kohaku-san and Akiha.
"...but if we did, think of the times we could've had..."
We were just in this spacious mansion, and all we knew was the continuous fun of every day.
We played around so much, we forgot about all the things that bothered us before.
...... Or maybe.
Maybe, in order to forget the bothersome past, we tried to pass our days with as much fun as possible.
"Shiki-san, you really have taken a liking to peeling those shrimp, haven't you?"
"Oh god yes, I love peeling off skin. There was this one hobo, I get excited just thinking about it--" "Enough!"
"Eh? No, not really; why do you ask?"
"Because you look like you're having so much fun. You know Hisui-chan, her eyebrows would always be so scrunched up by the time she gets done."
"Really? I'm surprised. She looks like the type that would do it without complaint."
" ...... Well, come to think of it, you and Hisui are different in your own ways.
Kohaku-san, you were always cheerful, while Hisui stayed in the mansion back then."
"Oh, did I look that cheerful? I thought I was always watching you all though."
"Yeah, I remember. You would always run around with us, but you would tell us to stop doing dangerous things and look out for us."
Music: play track 9
...... Ah, I really do remember.
Playing tag in the courtyard of the mansion.
Trying as hard as we could to catch my old man's carp in the pond.
"Come here, Shiki... we're going to play Catch the Carp again..." *zzziip*
"Yes, and after that Makihisa-sama really did yell at you. Everyone was playing with you, but somehow you ended up being the only one. Shiki-san, no matter how much you got yelled at, you always said it was your own fault.
...... Oh it is so nostalgic. We did so many things, but in the end, you always saved Akiha-sama and me from getting in trouble."
She giggles as she speaks aloud.
"...... What's this? Talking about old times, I really feel like I have returned now."
I really don't have too many memories of this mansion, but talking about old times honestly makes me feel nostalgic.
But, my memories aren't just happy ones.
"...... But, I did treat Hisui poorly."
...... That girl who was always in the corner of my heart.
In the end, I was never able to have a true conversation with that girl by the window.
"...... That girl, she was always watching us from the window. Always, it struck me. That lonely face looking down, I always thought it would be great if she could come and play."
But still, before I left the mansion, she gave me that one parting gift.
All of a sudden,
with a short sound, Kohaku-san lifts her hand.
I can see she cut her finger with the kitchen knife.
"Ko, Kohaku-san, your finger......!"
After I say that, she seems to have realized she cut her finger.
This picture really creeps me out
"How embarrassing. I am supposed to be such a good chef. Ahaha!"
Kohaku-san gives her normal laugh.
"This is no laughing matter. We have to take care of it right away......!"
"It's fine. It isn't life threatening or anything."
"But we can't just leave it alone! Geez, cutting it like that, doesn't it hurt......!?"
"No, not at all. If I think it doesn't hurt, then it won't hurt. If I think this isn't my finger, and that it's just the finger of some doll, then I won't feel pain, right?"
"Look, let's just get it taken care of! I'm a little weak when it comes to blood, so if I have an anemic fit right here, it'll be your fault, Kohaku-san......!"
"I see, then I should take care of it right away. Well then, Shiki-san, excuse me for a moment."
The whole time her smile never cracks, and giving me a bow with her head, she leaves the kitchen.
The party begins. Kohaku proposes a toast and drinks are poured for all. Akiha drinks whiskey and orange juice, while Shiki and Hisui drink wine. Everybody clinks their glasses together and tosses down a drink.
Music: play track 3
----See? I told you so.
"Um, Hisui...? There's no reason for you to force yourself to drink like that."
And then, she takes the glass to her lips and she looks around aimlessly.
...... No matter how much I try to stop her, Hisui keeps sipping out of her glass.
...... I don't really understand it, but perhaps Hisui has taken a liking to alcohol.
"Maybe if I get drunk enough, he'll take advantage of me... I've waited so long..."
With that, Hisui curls onto the sofa like a cat.
This damn game and its cat comparisons.
"Ahaha. You can't be doing that, Hisui-chan. If you sleep there, you'll catch a cold. Come on, Akiha-sama, please don't complain."
With a smile, Kohaku-san talks to the sleeping Akiha and Hisui.
...... It seems Kohaku-san is drunk too.
"Yes. Hisui-chan always turns down alcohol, but since Shiki-san offered, she pushed herself. She is normally not very sociable, so I guess she at least tried to keep you company. Isn't my sister so cute!?"
Bam-bam, Kohaku-san slaps my back.
...... Kohaku-san is quite drunk too...
"I guess this wraps up the night. Akiha is hammered and Hisui is all curled up."
"...... Hammered... what is that? Nii-san, please don't use words, that I can't, understand......"
Akiha complains in a murmuring voice.
It seems that Akiha doesn't like things she doesn't understand.
That's all good, but it seems when she's drunk, she doesn't understand anything... consequently, she has turned into a complaining machine...
Oh, she doesn't need alcohol for that....
"Well then, I will carry Akiha-sama, so Shiki-san, could you please take care of Hisui-chan?"
"Eh---wait a second Kohaku-san. I can't touch Hisui. I just brushed against her earlier and she hit me."
"---That's right. Now that you mention it, Hisui-chan is a little obsessed about cleanliness. Even just holding hands with a man will cause her to throw up. If you hold her, I suppose there would be a problem."
"...... Just holding hands and throwing up......?"
That goes beyond just being obsessed with cleanliness.
I thought she was strange eight years ago, but Hisui----
What she left behind...
A mountain of uneaten food, a mountain of empty bottles, and the contentedly sleeping Hisui, who is breathing softly on the sofa.
It truly is autumn.
Sleeping there like that, she will certainly catch a cold.
"...... Is it okay to touch Hisui like this?"
No, but it's not like that'll stop a man like Shiki!
But, it can't be helped.
"If I don't take advantage of her now, I might never get the chance again."
...... I don't have any bad intentions, and I do have to get her up to her room.
"...... Sorry. You can be mad at me later."
I lift up the sleeping Hisui.
With just that, my heart begins to pound.
Just like I thought, Hisui is very light.
Her delicate body fits in my arms.
Softness and the warmth of her body.
"She's... Kohaku's sister... "
"...... This isn't good. I have to take her to her room quickly or I'll be the one in trouble."
So as not to wake Hisui, I slowly carry her out of the dining room.
Music: play track 1
"OH DARN, it would be pervy to stick my hand in her pocket. I GUESS I'LL JUST HAVE TO HAVE HER SLEEP WITH ME INSTEAD. I see no problems with this, do you Hisui?" "zzzz" "I didn't think so."
I came back to my room with Hisui still in my arms.
"There we go."
I place Hisui on my bed.
I guess she really pushed herself drinking alcohol, as she does not wake up.
"...... Well. What should I do now---"
Am I that tired from carrying Hisui? I fall to the carpet.
It seems like the alcohol is having an effect on me too.
Suddenly, I start to feel very dizzy.
"...... Well... whatever."
I hadn't really planned on doing anything anyway.
Even if I go to sleep on the floor like this, I don't think anyone will complain---
Music: play track 7
An old Japanese-style room.
A dark room.
that's an extremely old memory.
When I was very young, I wasn't used to the new people that took me in, so I locked myself up in my room.
I didn't care for anything; I didn't want to talk to anyone.
Always, always alone, and I wanted to be swaddled in the cradle of my happy memories.
Even if I knew there would be nothing like that for me ever again, I still wanted to do so.
Knock knock, came a sound.
"...... Who is it?"
Ah, she came again.
That girl around my age was knocking on the door again.
"Shiki-chan, let's play. You'll get moldy if you stay in a place like that."
"I don't wanna. I don't like going outside."
Hugging my knees, I huddled in a corner of the dark room.
"Why won't you come outside?"
Because there's no one that I know outside. Everyone hates me outside.
"That's not true. Everyone wants to like you, Shiki-kun."
Yes. I knew that, but I couldn't believe it. Because my father went outside, and---
He was torn to pieces.
"...... I see. No wonder you can't trust anyone."
Yeah, that's why I will always stay here. I don't want any more scary things happening.
"But, you will just be by yourself all the time. Being by yourself is no fun."
Even if it's no fun, it is better than being scared.
"That's, that's not fun at all. Then, Shiki-chan, you can believe in me."
...... You say I can believe in you. That's a little backwards. Don't people normally say, "I believe you?"
"It's okay! Shiki-chan, you can trust me and come out!"
...... Fine. But, believe... what should I believe in?
Come to think of it,
that was my first memory as Tohno Shiki----
---A bright light floods my consciousness.
As I open my eyes, the morning light shines through the window.
I wake from my dream.
...... I don't quite remember it, but I remember vaguely watching a dream.
It was very nostalgic.
The smell of tatami---is that what it was?
That's strange, even though I'm awake, I still smell a nice scent.
I hear a voice by my ear.
Sensing something beside me, my dozing eyes fly open.
Music: play track 2
Tense as I am, I can't say a thing.
My sleepiness disappears in a flash.
"...... What's going on?"
Moving just my neck, I glance around.
...... Without a doubt, this is my room.
Hisui lies there, breathing softly.
"...... Let's see, yesterday we..."
I try to remember what happened yesterday, but that's not important.
I'm completely absorbed.
It's not that I didn't realize it before, but Hisui is really pretty.
It's not that she just has a beautiful face. Rather, her graceful atmosphere, I can't help but think that it is pretty.
If I could, I would like to stay this way forever.
But that can't happen... Besides, unless Hisui wakes up soon, there will be a lot of trouble.
"I can't believe I never noticed... she's somebody else's sister..."
"...... Hisui. Hey, Hisui."
...... I call, but she doesn't seem to wake up.
"Hey, it's morning. Isn't it time to get up?"
I gently shake Hisui.
Waveringly stretching out her arms, Hisui wakes up.
She looks around the room rubbing her eyes for a few seconds.
Hisui finally grasps the fact that she is in my room, and the fact that I am right in front of her.
Hisui jumps up from the bed.
"Shi, Shiki-sama, why am I----"
"I... I can't explain it very well, but do you remember about last night?"
"Eh---about last night?"
Hisui starts to think.
And all of a sudden, Hisui's cheeks turn red.
"Fuck. I almost got away with it."
"Yes...... I caused you a lot of trouble, Shiki-sama."
With flushed cheeks, Hisui looks right at me.
"...... Sorry about that. I went to your room, but it was locked and I couldn't enter.
I thought you could sleep in my room while I went to get Kohaku-san, but the alcohol got to me and just like that, I fell asleep."
...... Yeah, that's exactly how I remember it.
But that's odd, last night I thought for sure...
"I, I mean it! I didn't have a choice, Kohaku-san had to take care of Akiha, and I couldn't just leave you alone like that! ...... I apologize for holding you, and I was ready for you to get mad at me for doing that!"
Trying to answer Hisui's direct gaze, and I try my utmost to explain.
Hisui doesn't answer; she just looks over her clothes and nods.
"It appears that way. My clothing does not appear to be tampered with. You are innocent, Shiki-sama."
I breathe a sigh of relief.
"And I think the one who placed you on the bed... was me. I woke up once during the night and saw you sleeping on the floor. I did not want you to catch a cold, so I remember getting you to sleep on the bed."
"Eh...... for real?"
If that's true, then that would explain why I was in bed, but why was Hisui sleeping on the bed too?
"...... Please forgive me. I, I was still a little drunk, and I thought that since there was a bed in front of me, I wouldn't need to go back to my room..."
Embarrassed, Hisui explains what happened.
"I-I see. Certainly, that's how you think when you are drunk. Hahaha."
Oh, you crazy kids
I start to laugh for some reason.
Embarrassed, Hisui drops her shoulders.
...... Why is it?
Even though I was only sleeping next to her, I get so conscious of Hisui, I am unable to say anything clearly.
"A, anyway, let's just keep this a secret between us. If Akiha knew about it, she'd get angry, and if Kohaku-san knew about it, she'd just tease us about it relentlessly."
Haha, Akiha gets pissed if he sleeps in until 7:00. If she found out he slept with his maid, she'd REALLY get pissed.
"---Yes. If Shiki-sama will allow it, then it will help me as well."
"Yeah, sorry Hisui. If I was more responsible, this thing would never have happened."
I say sorry and bow my head to her.
Nothing did happen, but it's still a fact that I carried a girl to my room and slept next to her.
No matter what Hisui says, I think I'm responsible.
Hisui just stares at me, deep in thought.
"...... Shiki-sama is... really clumsy, are you not?"
Hisui says this in an awfully kind voice, different from before.
"Well then, I'll say Shiki-sama is at fault this time. I will have to let you make up for this sometime, so please do not forget."
"If you will please excuse me. Shiki-sama, please hurry to the sitting room or you will be late."
Hisui gives a perfect bow and exits the room.
I just remained there on my bed, mouth open and in stunned silence.
"......... She smiled."
For that instant, it seemed like time itself had stopped.
This isn't good. This is really not good.
All she did was smile, but why am I so stunned---?
"Kohaku's sister... smiled..."
"Of course. You should always drink considering the next day, so there is no reason to oversleep because of it."
"Really. But you were pretty hammered last night. Maybe you have more breakdown enzymes than a normal person, Akiha. If that's so, I'm a little jealous."
"Nii-san, what are these, 'breakdown enzymes'?"
"Well, I'll make it short. After alcohol enters the body, I guess it changes to some kind of poison.
The poison is processed by the liver by these enzymes that break down the alcohol into water.
The amount of enzymes in each person is different, and Japanese people tend to have less than others. You can say those that have less enzymes have to moderate a little."
Akiha looks impressed.
"...... I am a little surprised. You seem to know quite a bit, Nii-san."
"No, not really. I just have a bad friend that drinks a lot, that's all."
"Is that so. It seems like you were not drinking that much last night though..."
"That's because I'm one of those people that have to moderate. Since my bad friend simply downs his drinks, I have to always stay sober to take care of him."
By the way, this bad friend I'm talking about is no other than Inui Arihiko.
Hahahaha... I'm almost in tears laughing at this. The jokes are the best when the game makes them without me.
"Shiki-san, breakfast is ready!"
With excellent timing, Kohaku-san's voice cuts in.
"Ah, I'll be right there! ...... Well, I gotta go, Akiha."
After finishing breakfast, I head to the sitting room to find Akiha gone.
"Huh...? Hisui, where is Akiha?"
"Akiha-sama left for school right after you went to the dining room, Shiki-sama."
"Oh yeah, Akiha's school is far, isn't it? ...... Well, I shouldn't be standing around either."
"Yes, I will bring you your bag right away."
Hisui disappears towards the lobby.
I stare listlessly behind her.
"Hee hee. Shiki-san, what happened last night?"
"Wha... what do you mean, Kohaku-san!?"
"Oh my, I see you're blushing. Something must have happened, didn't it?"
"Eh---no, nothing happened at all. Go ahead, ask Hisui."
"Is that so? It seems like you have become pretty good friends with Hisui-chan."
Kohaku-san tilts her head to the side.
...... I became good friends with Hisui? That's something I'd like to hear about myself.
"I'll come right back today, so I'll be back around four o'clock. Oh, and you don't have to wait here."
"I understand. Please be careful on your way, Shiki-sama."
"Thanks. I'll be going now, Hisui."
Waving a hand to the bowing Hisui, I dash down the street.
"Wow... I was so busy thinking about Kohaku's sister that I totally forgot about that really hot vampire..."
Arihiko > > > > Senpai
Music: play track 1
I enter the lobby and immediately encounter Hisui.
"Welcome back, Shiki-sama."
"I'm home, Hisui. Are Kohaku-san and Akiha here?"
Oh... oh my... did he ask about Kohaku first!? This might call for a revision to the list. Perhaps all sisters can be lumped onto the same tier! This is an astonishing breakthrough!
"Akiha-sama has not returned yet. Nee-san will most likely be in the rear courtyard sweeping."
"As usual. Well, I'll be in my room; please continue whatever you were doing."
"Yes. Please excuse me."
I head up the stairs to the second floor.
"I will be in Makihisa-sama's room sorting things out. If you need me, please call for me."
Hisui disappears towards the east end of the mansion.