Part 86Yeah, we're irrevocably on the Akiha path now, but I usually allow you guys to mess up decisions if you really want to. This is obviously a fairly unimportant decision, but I don't think the important ones would be the same without all the unimportant ones to distract you from what really matters
Also, while much of this is copy+paste stuff, we are actually on a completely different chunk of script files now. So while we've technically had this decision before (with similar outcomes), it's also technically new. In the near side paths, since Shiki never investigated the dogs he won't complain about it the next morning. It's going to get really different really fast, though.
"Ah, thank you very much... It looks like you're having your after-meal tea. Have you already finished breakfast, Akiha?"
"Of course. I don't care when you get up, Nii-san, but please at least make some time for breakfast. Having breakfast after seven is a sign of sloppiness."
"...... I think having breakfast at seven is pretty normal. What time do you get up, Akiha?"
"I get up at five in the morning. What about it?"
...... Wow. I don't know why she gets up so early, but it was so perfect a time to get up that I have no room to retort.
"Besides, your school is thirty minutes from here on foot, isn't it? Please don't be late to a school that's so close by. It'd be an embarrassment."
Akiha's words are filled with thorns that stab at me.
But as it's the truth, there's no opening for a counter-argument.
"Well, I must say goodbye. Nii-san, you should apply yourself to your studies today."
Akiha leaves the sitting room.
Kohaku-san follows, seeing her off.
"Apply myself to my studies...?"
She's quite ceremonious about trivial things in an old fashioned kind of way... I guess it's because she's been disciplined under our old man for the last eight years.
"...... Well, I'd have gone to school even if she hadn't said anything."
I scratch my cheek.
There was something about Akiha's face as she left... because of it, I paid no attention at all to her various admonishings this morning.
I clap my hands together.
For some reason, Akiha's face just then seemed to resemble her face from long ago---
After eating the breakfast Kohaku-san prepared, I exit into the lobby.
Hisui was waiting there with my bag.
"Shiki-sama, have you enough time?"
"Yeah, it should only be twenty minutes to school if I run. It's only seven-thirty, so I should be fine even if I take the long way."
Seeming satisfied with this answer, Hisui bows her head in assent.
...and I feel terribly awkard that you have a sister.
"Oh, Shiki-san! Please wait just a moment!"
With pattering footsteps, Kohaku-san runs down from the second floor.
Hisui steps back and falls silent as Kohaku-san approaches.
"Huh? Weren't you with Akiha?"
"Lady Akiha goes to school by car. Since I had something to give to you this morning, I stayed behind."
"Something to give me?"
"Yes. This came from the Arima family yesterday."
"Eh? But, I have all my luggage already. The things I used while I was at the Arimas' house all belonged to them, so all I've got are my own clothes..."
"Really? But this was sent here, nonetheless..."
Kohaku-san hands me a thin wooden box, perhaps twenty centimeters long.
It's not heavy at all.
"...... Kohaku-san, I've never seen this before."
"Well... apparently it was left to you by your departed father. It was to be given to you in the will."
"...... By my old man?"
...... I can't feel anything about that.
What's the old man who expelled me from this mansion eight years ago doing leaving me things?
"...... I get it. You want to know what's inside, right?"
"Oh, not at all. I merely wondered for a moment."
...... Like I said, you do wonder what's inside.
"Alright, let's open it. One, two... three!"
With a dry sound, the wooden box opens.
Inside, there is----a ten-centimeter bar of thin iron.
"...... It's... an iron bar."
Undecorated and worn, it has finger marks all over it.
...... The old man must have really hated me to leave me a piece of junk like this.
The scene is the bedroom of Tohno Makihisa. He is sitting on his bed, an unhealthy rasp emitting from him with each heavy breath. "Kohaku," he calls gently. She bends her head down near his face so she can hear him clearly despite his quiet voice.
"Yes, Makihisa-sama? Would you like me to get you some more medicine?" He shakes his head, a weak and pitiful gesture emphasizing his failing strength. Reaching into a pocket, he brings forth a small collection of scattered coins and presses them loosely into Kohaku's outstretched palm. She can't help but notice that they are nearly ice cold, despite having been in Makihisa's pocket. Truly, he is about to die.
"Take these twelve yen," he urges her with all of the intensity he can muster. "Take them to the cheapest, most run down street vendor you can find. I want you to buy the ugliest, most useless piece of junk in the whole of Japan. You mustn't spend any more than these twelve yen, for that would be-" Mahikisa breaks out into a sudden coughing fit that wracks his entire body with convulsions. "...I don't have... time. Give it... to Shiki. He must know that my hatred for him lasted until the end... until... the very... eeenn...." Makihisa's voice trails off and his body gradually goes slack.
Kohaku clutches the cold coins between his hand and hers, tears brimming at the edges of her eyes. "Makihisa-sama? Maki... hisa... sama?" She gently sobs while patting his cold hand affectionately. "Consider it done."
"No, Shiki-san. It's a fruit knife."
Kohaku-san takes the iron bar out of the box.
"See, isn't it one of those folding knifes? One, two... three!"
With the sound of sliding metal, a ten centimeter blade pops out from the bar.
...... I see, it certainly is a knife.
"It's old, but it seems pretty solid. The year and the era it was made in is written on the back."
Kohaku-san replaces the blade, and hands over the knife.
Certainly, there's a number written on the grip.
The character "seven", and under it, the character "night".
"Y, you surprised me... Hisui, you should say something. You don't have to look over my shoulder like that, you know. If you want to see it, I'll show it to you."
Hisui's cheeks become faintly red.
"P-please excuse me. Um---That knife was so beautiful that I could not help myself."
"Beautiful? You really think it's beautiful? It looks kind of beat up to me."
"---Not at all. The tempering of the blade is masterful. I think it is a knife with its own proper history."
"Really? It looks to me like a piece of junk..."
But since Hisui seems so convinced, I begin to feel the same thing.
...... Hmmm. In its own way, I guess it's not such a bad inheritance.
"Shiki-sama, have you enough time...?"
"Ah! I have to get going. Well, Kohaku-san, thanks for the delivery."
Kohaku smiles and waves me off.
"Shiki-sama? What time shall we expect your return?"
It seems Hisui will continue to use "-sama" to the bitter end.
Well, if I take time to argue it now, I'll be late for school. I'll complain about the honorific later.
"Ah, yeah. Uh... probably around four o'clock, I think. I don't do any club activities."
When I don't hang out with Arihiko, I usually get back pretty early in the evening.
"But when I DO hang out with Arihiko, I never want it to end."
Hisui bows deeply at my random estimate.
"I understand. Please take care on the way."
...... I'm not sure what to take care about, but she's probably just worried about my health.
"Yeah, thanks. You too, Hisui."
I return the goodwill with good intentions.
With an energetic wave of the hand at Hisui, I leave the gates of the mansion behind.
Thinking of her even overrides thoughts of Arihiko. Such is the power of Yumizuka.
"He looks so cute when he's pouting."
"Arihiko, did something happen?"
"...... Dunno. It's nothing big. There's a rumor that someone in class ran away from home."
"Ahh... that's what all the fuss is about, then."
I sit down at my desk with a sigh.
"---What do you mean, nothing big!? Who ran away? Who!"
"How should I know? But we'll know when homeroom starts. Whoever's seat is vacant, they must be the one who ran away from home."
"Ahh, that's true."
It's true, but, Arihiko's attitude seems a little dry.
...... If one of our classmates really has run away from home, I think it's a bit much to just ignore it as someone else's problem.
"Arihiko? Aren't you being insensitive? One of our classmates ran away from home... aren't you worried?"
"Eh? You're the only one who's seriously worried, dumbass. Everyone's talking about it because it's an interesting thing to talk about.
It's not as if you or I had run away from home, so there's no need to worry, is there?"
"I guess not, since at least we can be together."
...... Now I remember. This guy's cold like that to everyone except his friends.
"Though, I guess I am a bit worried. Running away from home at a time like this... they'd have to be really brave or really..."
"...? A time like this? What kind of time is that?"
"I told you yesterday, Tohno. There's a serial killer going around on the streets right now. I don't know who ran away from home, but they'd have no excuse if they got attacked by him while living on the streets."
"Tohno, you should watch TV more. There's been eight victims already, and he doesn't discriminate. You'd better think again if you think you're safe.
The town's empty at night nowadays. The only people who go out are drunkards and policemen, which is why it's so boring."
Arihiko's voice is very serious.
Hearing it, I begin to feel uneasy.
"Oh, Kunifuji's here. It's homeroom at last."
Arihiko returns to his seat.
After a while, everyone is seated.
Only one seat is empty.
There's no mistaking it. The desk of Yumizuka Satsuki is empty.
...... Yumizuka said that when we parted yesterday. I don't know what happened at home, but I can't see her making that smiling face before running away.