Walking in the Night
There are three ways to enjoy any event.
First, before the event. You enjoy the anticipation and the tantalizing feeling.
Second, during the event. You get insanely busy, but you love how you want to keep going despite how tiring it gets.
Third, after the event. You look back at the hardships you went through, together with your friends and colleagues and laugh about it.
“I honestly feel like the second betrayal was kinda harsh. Did you see the ghastly look on Touka-chan’s and Shouta-kun’s face? It must have been deeply traumatic.”
After we made a toast, I blurted out what I was most worried about. Hearing that, Baba gave me a look as if saying, “Not again”.
Well, it was something we had discussed a number of times even before the betrayal event started. And obviously, we had arrived at a conclusion, or else we wouldn’t have proceeded with it. As so, digging this topic back up at this point in time may have been a bit untoward of me. But even so, it was a worry that I couldn’t get out of my head.
“That’s why we will be resurrecting you two soon, so as to lessen the intensity of any possible trauma. By quickly overwriting a failure experience with a success experience in short order, the blow to their psyche would be kept to a minimum. I’ve already gone over this psychological technique many times but I’ll say it again. You two might have died, but you’ll be back, so in the long run everything’s still fine.”
“No, I get it. But that’s not what I meant. I mean, was it necessary to have another betrayal in the first place?”
The betrayal event this time was Baba’s idea. It was also her who suggested the two back-to-back betrayals.
The first betrayal was on easy level. It was solved in moments.
But the second betrayal was difficult to see through and hard to solve.
Will they be able to use their experience from the first betrayal with the second one? That’s what we wanted to know. This was a test as well as an example to show them that the world is not always black and white.
In this world, things don’t end after pointing at someone and saying, “He’s the enemy!” or “That guy’s evil!". Things rarely get resolved cleanly with just defeating the “Bad guy”. It never that easy.
During the second betrayal, Baba tried to kill me while refusing to engage in conversation. Between Baba and me, who was in the wrong? There wasn’t enough time or information to make a call. It was impossible to tell who was evil and who was just. In such a situation where there was no “correct” answer to be found, Shouta-kun and Touka-chan had to make their own call, and do what it would take to stop what had devolved into a fight to the death. To make matters worse, the outcome of their actions would affect the lives of the people they were close with.
To be honest, I think it would be a tough situation even for adults.
I’d probably cry if I were in their shoes. I’d beg with tears in my eyes. Beg them to stop trying to kill each other. Amidst all the chaos, I don’t think a calm decision such as to use psychokinesis to suppress them or something like that would cross my mind.
If I had to evaluate whether or not this was a good experience, then I would say it was.
Now, had they caught on beforehand, or successfully stopped me and Baba from killing each other, they would have scored full 100 points.
But since, they had failed by letting Baba and me die, we would resurrect soon afterward, taking the edge off the bite of this failure.
To be fair, it was an arduous trial with a safety net. Normally people never find themselves in such extreme situations where human life is at stake.
The fact that the two students had just gone through one such experience was sure to leave a huge impact on their lives going forward.
But I am still conflicted in this regard. Was there really a need to make them go through something like this?
A normal Japanese person will almost never such an extreme situation that could cost them their life. “Thanks to the near-death experience I had at that time, I survived this situation as well! I’m glad I had experienced the betrayal event!” Does anyone ever says things like that?
Probably not. Why? Because this is real world. It’s a shitty world with so much peace and quiet that would make you wanna puke. Such an event does not belong here.
To sum it up, it sure was an exhilarating experience. Overcoming it would mean enormous personal growth.
However, was it truly necessary to force this kind of growth? There was no need to become an amazing human. Simply not becoming a bad human would be more than enough.
I wanted Shouta-kun and Touka-chan to have a fun and fulfilling youth and be happy. But then I (and my collaborators) ended up forcing them to go through an excruciating ordeal, gouging out their hearts with a traumatic experience.
Looking at my troubled demeanor Baba sighed in exasperation.
“Those who know only happiness and success are fragile. They are unable to understand the feelings of those undergoing hardships and failure. Sago, do you want Shouta and Touka to become those deplorable success stories who put down others’ failures as lack of effort and passion?”
“But that doesn’t mean we have to intentionally make them fail. In the first place, Shouta-kun had failed miserably in the defeat event, and Touka-chan had been insidiously bullied till junior high school.”
Even without the finishing blow from another betrayal event right after the first one, the two of them already had experience with setback.
They were not the kind of kids who would laugh at someone else’s failure.
“You truly are soft on those two, Sago. Allow me to repeat what I had said before: after overcoming difficulties and learning to make compromises, they can eventually laugh about this when they become adults. Is this not the ‘tears’ part of the laughter and tears that you believe to be so crucial to this ‘fulfilling adolescence’ that you spoke of?”
“But you know what? Seeing their faces made me feel so guilty. What do you think, Kaburagi-san?”
Upon having the conversation directed to her, Kaburagi-san replied in a matter-of-fact manner while still elegantly swirling her glass of wine.
“I don’t think there’s any point in brooding over the results of not doing something after already having done exactly that.”
You’re so right about that that I have nothing at all to say as comeback. I’m sorry Baba. I’ve wasted your time with meaningless talk.”
“I don’t mind. Honestly, I also feel a little like I had taken the axe to a young sapling. Let us reflect and carry forward the lessons we have learned. I am changing the topic here, but was not the setting that I didn’t know anything about fingerprints too much of a stretch?”
“You think so? But it’s about another world, so it wouldn’t be unusual if that was actually true.”
Kaburagi-san tilted her head at Baba’s question.
I expressed my agreement as I psychokinetically compressed the remnants of the handcuffs into a ball and tossed it into the trash can.
“It’s another world different from our own, after all. If you apply the same lens again, then handcuffs that can seal superpowers are also quite unbelievable. Even the fact that something that amplifies superpowers (platinum) can be used also to seal those powers seems illogical. These handcuffs are not even platinum but just normal silver, and the so-called platinum compound was just sugar, right? But by continuously insisting on these lies, they gain credibility. After all, this is all logic from another world.”
“Baba, it might me hard for you to believe since you are from another world but people on Earth think that anything is possible in another world. No matter how strange or absurd it is, as long as it is credibly explained as ‘from another world’, then no one would bat an eye.
“Is that how it is?”
Baba still seemed skeptical, but this was a difference in the culture between different worlds. Please forgive us ignorant Earthlings.
Next, I opened my second can of low-malt beer, then moved the conversation along to each of our personal favorite moments of the event.
“The thing that made me the happiest was the birthday present, but the funniest thing was the Baba’s brazen cheating. You were reading Crime and Punishment to give the students a hint as to the second betrayal, right? But those handwritten notes on the pages, aren’t they your scripted lines in your mother tongue? I almost burst out laughing when I realized it!”
“You are laughing at me? Speak for yourself. Sago, you were clearly using psychokinesis, and Kaburagi was blatantly using her time-stop to check the lines one by one.”
Baba laughed in response. Seeing as how Kaburagi was poking at her potato salad with a straight face without showing any intention of denying the accusation, clearly she had also been cheating in her own way.
In other words, all of us had been cheating with a straight face right in front of Touka chan’s and Shouta-kun’s noses. Thanks to that, we were able to focus on our performance without worrying about memorizing the lines, but this was still quite dreadful in its own way. Seriously, how am I supposed to not laugh?
“As for me, and this isn’t exactly what I thought the most interesting, but the part that was most memorable for me was when the police barged in.”
“Yeah, I totally get you.”
As Kaburagi spoke while separating her potato salad, Baba and I both nodded deeply in sympathy.
The police duo really did stirred our betrayal event a bit too much.
“But, well, we managed to draw Kuma-san to our side, and put a collar on Yasui, thanks to Baba’s hard work. Everything turned out rather well, didn’t it?”
“It’d be rather shameful if I had failed even after I went so far as to cry like a child.”
“Pfft! No, stop that.”
When I mimiced Baba’s crying, Kaburagi spat out a little bit of her wine in a not entirely successful attempt to hold back her laughter.
While stroking Kaburagi-san who was quivering while trying to suppress her laughter, Baba hunched over and repeated, “MOOOMYYY”. Immediately, Kaburagi lost control and totally choked. What are you delivering a finishing blow on her for, Baba! You sure like this joke, don’t you!
“So, Baba what part did you found interesting?”
I directed the conversation to the mischievous Baba who kept whispering in Kaburagi-san’s ear in an apparent attempt to make her die of laughter. That prompted her to stop and think for a bit.
“There were a bunch of things. Firstly, I had trouble suppressing my laughter after successfully convincing Yasui of the importance of the party crackers to Sago’s arrest and sent him to buy them in bulk.”
“Seriously? Detective Gesui bought those?”
No wonder there were so many crackers. There is still one unopened box in the corner.
Poor guy went to buy party crackers in earnest because he believed it was necessary for the operation. More like, isn’t Baba playing him bit too much? I bet that she has made him do a ton of other nonsensical errands while turning his head all around with random credible-sounding excuses, hasn’t she?
“Another scene of note would be when Sago used psychokinesis to force Yasui to fire his gun, as well as the unexpectedness and comical erroneousness of Kaneyama’s betrayal…. Ahh right, but that time when Kaburagi doubted in seriousness whether I had any intentions of bringing harm to Sago did make me a touch sad. My question truly was posed in sheer curiosity.”
“Oh, you noticed? I’m sorry for doubting you, I thought I was hiding it well.”
“Don’t worry about it, Sago. While you were optimistic, Kaburagi was wary, as one should be.”
“Hmm? I don’t know what to say, but I guess it’s okay if you don’t mind it.”
“By the way, I was thinking…”
“The blood on my clothes is drying up and it’s getting uncomfortable. Why don’t we head home for now and clean up ourselves?”
Baba looked down at her blood-stained dress, and Kaburagi-san looked at her’s, which had reddish-black spots due to clinging to the blood-soaked me, and their face turned serious.
We decided to break up at once.
A shower sounds wonderful.
After that, the night passed. Yasui moved exactly as Baba had predicted, successfully managing to convince the two students to not report the incident to the police. And through Kaburagi-san the students, whose heads were still in a complete mess, were told of the “real truth”.
The master of Amanoiwato and the boss of the secret organization Amaterasu, both were indeed Sago Kinemitsu. After awakening to his superpower at a certain point in the past, he then applied himself to self-training. One day, while training he realized the existence of the World’s Darkness.
At that time, the World’s Darkness then was so weak that even children would be able to defeat it. However, there was no doubt that they were a threat. Therefore, Sago attempted to erase them entirely from this world with his superpower.
However, he had failed. Instead of annihilating them, Sago’s power ended up strengthening the World’s Darkness. After having established this connection with them, Sago gained the ability to sense whenever a new one appeared. He then rushed all about, scrambling to make amends due to the sense of responsibility he felt for having strengthened the World’s Darkness.
World’s Darkness were fundamentally the embodiment of people’s desire for power, so when Sago’s power flowed into the darkness of the world, a tiny bit of it flowed into people through the connection they had with the World’s Darkness as well. Therefore, people around the world were beginning to wake up to their own superpowers. Sago helped Kaburagi Shiori, who was one such person, to cope with her power. Afterwards, the two of them decided together to start a secret organization called Amaterasu.
Feeling guilty for making the World’s Darkness more powerful, Sago always kept his mouth shut which turned him into a reticent and sour-faced person.
And the reason he hid the fact that he was the boss from Shouta and Touka was because he wanted to protect his daily ordinary life.
The adage “he who cannot protect his own daily life cannot protect the daily life of the entire world” aptly applied to Sago as well. Rather, he was the one who needed those words the most.
Even though the situation was entirely due to his failure at wiping out the World’s Darkness, and his arrogance that drove him to attempt such an absurd feat, continuously spreading his psychokinesis all over the world to kill off World’s Darkness was extremely tiring. His mind was slowly being whittled down. He yearned for the ordinary times when he didn’t have superpowers, when he didn’t have to fight the World’s Darkness, when he could live as just another human being.
And so for him, his face as the bar master of Amanoiwato became his ordinary self. It became something that he wanted to protect at all costs.
Baba saw through this modest, unassuming lie. Being outraged by this she vowed to destroyed it.
However, there was a sequel to this tragic tale.
After exhausting herself from crying, Kaburagi covered both bodies with a cloth and stepped away for about thirty minutes. When she returned, both of them were gone. Instead, there were two set of bloody footprints heading out the door and into the night.
Kaburagi was able to draw conjectures based on what she knew about the both of them.
There was a mysterious connection between the World’s Darkness and Sago. As long as the World’s Darkness doesn’t perish, that mysterious connection would keep Sago alive. The World’s Darkness keeps Sago alive, and Sago keeps the World’s Darkness alive. It was an inseparable coexistence. What with something normally so unrealistic as superpowers actually being real, bizarre phenomenon like this could very well be real as well.
Now the question was, if Sago had truly been revived, why did he leave Amanoiwato? Kaburagi had no way of confirming, but she suspected that just as Sago’s power had flowed into the World Shadows in the past, perhaps something of the World Shadows had also flowed into Sago as he was being resurrected by them. Probably that had been the reason why he left, though unfortunately Kaburagi was unable to draw any more specific inferences.
On the other hand, the reason why the corpse of Baba, who had no connection with the World’s Darkness and no superpowers, could walk was simple.
It was automatic resurrection magic.
Although she couldn’t use her magic on Earth, before she came to Earth,Baba had cast an automatic resurrection spell on herself as a failsafe. Though it was uncertain whether it would function properly in a world where magic did not exist, based on the fact that the corpse had disappeared, it could be inferred that it had functioned properly.
However, there was a problem with that automatic resurrection spell. Once you are revived, you lose a year’s worth of memories.
In Baba’s case, as her time on Earth was still under a year, she must have woken up to find herself in an underground room that looked nothing like her home world. With all the blood on her clothes, it wouldn’t be too difficult to realize that she had died once and brought back to life using the spell.
Even if you couldn’t grasp the situation, it’s was natural to run away from a dangerous place where you’ve been supposedly killed once. On top of that, automatic resurrection was a one-time use spell which meant next time death would be permanent.
After listening to the “truth” (in other words bullshit), Shouta-kun looked very relieved that Baba and I were apparently still alive. But in contrast, Touka chan had a grim look on her face.
Let’s not forget that Touka-chan was a follower of Buddhism. Me having died and come back, from her perspective, meant nothing other than that I had failed to pass on into nirvana. By definition, that made me an evil spirit who was still wandering the earth when I wasn’t supposed to. Consequently, she declared in no uncertain terms, “It makes me sad, but if I ever find Master, I’ll help him pass on so that he can rest in peace”.
Uhm… please don’t.
We thought that since Tohka-chan was the type of person who “values life”, she would easily accept resurrection, but it seems we were dead wrong. Of course, we couldn’t just leave her like that, which meant a certain degree of mental support or justification was going to be needed.
But speaking of unexpected, the same could be said of Kuma-san’s reaction. To our surprise, he quit the police force. Apparently, he was ashamed of himself for not being able to help at the crucial time. After discussing it with Kaburagi-san, it was decided that he was going to take up the mantle of being the next master of Amanoiwato. He believed that one day Sago will return, and he had to protect the place Sago once called home. Oh, and he agreed to take care of Ig too.
Kuma-san’s manliness and consideration was heartbreaking. Then the fact that with his grim face and stoic aura, he made for a better bar master than I did made things doubly heartbreaking. He himself said that his intention was to protect my place for me, which I was very touched to hear, but I was slightly afraid that he might end up taking my place entirely.
As a non-esper affiliated with a secret organization, as a master martial artist, as the bar master of a bar, and as the wielder of a pair of PSI drive gloves, even if he had not been aiming for it, Kuma-san was totally living out the dreams that he had been harboring for decades.
Whereas on the one hand, we saw Kuma-san quitting his job, on the other hand, the shackles that Baba had set in place worked like a charm in shackling Detective Gesui to Amaterasu to serve as our new conduit into the police force. Of course, we didn’t inform him of Baba’s and my resurrection, so he was still under the misconception that he had killed someone. Although he had to file a ton of reports for having fired twice, he was let off because Kaburagi-san pressured his superiors. This way he was indebted to us.
Even though Detective Gesui didn’t have as much influence within the police force as Kuma-san had, he still had a certain amount of say as the person who had been appointed to succeed Kuma-san’s position as the lead investigator in the task force assigned to investigate espers. With being “advised” by Kuma-san to fully cooperate with Amaterasu, and having connections to the yakuza and not being averse to dirty work, things eventually settled down with Detective Gesui becoming a rather convenient external cooperator for the organization.
Furthermore, President Kaneyama was also informed of this whole fiasco. The response that came back from him was “That guy promised that he would make Shiori-san happy even if he had to exchange his life for it, so I’m sure he’ll be back."
I mean, it’s true that I’ll return to Amaterasu eventually, but not for that reason. Not that I’d refute him openly.
As usual, this weird person arrived at the right conclusion with his own twisted reasoning.
Anyway, Amaterasu was going to be run for a while without me and Baba. I’m sure there will be new recruits during our absence.
Although a lot had happened indeed, it was our hope that Touka-chan and Shouta-kun would go on to enjoy the high school arc of their secret organization battle story.
Hasumi Tonka, a high school freshman, was walking around the city streets at night lightly dressed in a culotte skirt and a cardigan. She was on her way home after having stopped by Amanoiwato after school.
The night air was a bit chilly as with a faint scent of summer, but Hasumi’s heart was even colder than that. Three days after the betrayal incident, Kaburagi and Takahashi seemed to have accepted their deaths and subsequent resurrection and were slowly recovering, but Hasumi couldn’t. She was down in the dumps ever since. She was zoning out more often and her parents were starting to get worried about her.
She understood that life would continue on regardless of what happened. She knew that she couldn’t just remain depressed and that she had to pull herself back together. But she just couldn’t bring herself to do so.
As Hasumi was walking down a deserted alleyway that was a shortcut to her home, she noticed a person walking towards her from the other end.
The moment she made out the person’s features, she sucked in a sharp breath. That person, who was wearing jeans and a dress shirt with the top button undone, looked like the spitting image of Sago Kinemitsu.
Upon being addressed, the man stopped with a baffled look on his face. The lack of recognition in his eyes caused Hasumi to doubt herself. Was he the wrong person? Hasumi was puzzled.
“If you don’t mind, may I ask your name?”
Hasumi faltered at the casual response that seemed so incongruous with the reticent Master that she knew so well. This man was displaying a wealth of expressions and seemed cheerful.
“Nothing…It’s just… you look really similar to someone I know.”
“Ok… I see. Well, my name is Yaku”
Relief and disappointment washer over her at the same time.
However, the man who called himself Yaku looked too much like Sago. Just to be sure, she further probed.
“What’s your last name?”
“Hmm… I can’t actually remember it. You see, I have gaps in my memory. To be honest, even my first name is something I chose randomely to get by. Ah… by the way I am not a bad person, so please don’t report me to the police. I’m having trouble getting by just because I lost my memory, after all.”
“Could it be that you couldn’t remember anything from 3 days ago and before?”
The sight of Yaku being surprised for real fully convinced Hasumi that he was indeed Sago Kinemitsu without his memories.
Hasumi had earlier declared that the she would send Master back to the netherworld as soon as she is found him. In accordance, she was just about to conjure her flames to purify this evil spirit that was unnaturally clinging onto the mortal plane in defiance of the natural order when…
“Why are you crying?”
Just as Yaku pointed out, Hasumi noticed the tears running down her own cheeks.
This is no time for crying. She must return the evil spirit back to the netherworld. However, no matter how strongly she told herself that, her body seemed controlled by another, much more powerful emotion which was preventing her from moving. Her flames wouldn’t come to her.
“Did you remember something sad? Uh.. you know, here… take my handkerchief.
Yaku hesitently held out his handkerchief.
Through that clumsy gesture of kindness, Hasumi saw a shadow of Master that had apparently remained even through the memory loss. It was the last straw. She could no longer control her crying after that.
“No, That’s not it. I’m glad… even though I’m not supposed to be. To think that Master is alive… I’m so glad… I, I, I just….”
Hasumi was thoroughly ashamed of her own immaturity. She was mortified at how happy she was about an ungodly entity whose very existence was unforgivable by nature of its deviance from the natural cycle of life.
On the other hand, if this warm feeling was a sign of immaturity, she was alright with being immature for the rest of her life.
Yaku seemed much more carefree and amused than the master that Hasumi knew. Hasumi couldn’t bring herself to tell him the truth and make him suffer again. Surely there were things that were best left forgotten. Hasumi wanted, from the bottom of her heart, for the kind and clumsy Master to have his shot at becoming happy. Though admittedly, Amanoiwato was going to feel extremely lonely without him.
After wiping away her tears with his handkerchief, a calmer Hasumi asked Yaku with a gentle smile.
“Are you enjoying life right now, Yaku-san?”
“Yes… But what’s with all these questions. Well I mean, sure, I guess. You probably won’t get what I’m saying, but for some reason it feels like something really heavy has been lifted from my shoulders.”
Yaku blinked in response to Hasumi’s firm reply.
Since he was having a good time, there was nothing more to say. Of course, if she was being entirely honest, then she would want him to return to Amanoiwato. But all along, Sago had been fighting the World’s Darkness while hiding his guilt. He deserves some rest.
It was regrettable, but if she stayed any longer, she wouldn’t be able to part with him. So, Hasumi decided to ask one last thing before saying her goodbye.
“Do you know a little silver-haired girl with pointy ears, Yaku-san?”
“Wait a minute! You are really freaking me out. Yes, she’s with me but how do you know that? What else do you know about me?”
Hasumi handed him a business card with Amaiwato’s address written on it, and left the bewildered Yaku behind, as she walked off once more into the night streets again.
She never turned back again after that. Not even once.
This side story marks the end of arc 2.
Now, for the (bad) news.
I had mentioned earlier that one my relatives was hospitalised. Fortunately, they have regained back their health. So the last couple of days have been almost stress-free. I say almost because the issue of job still remains.
As such I will be taking a break to solely focus on my job hunt. I don’t know how long it will take. It may take a month or two. I can’t say for sure.
If anyone had plans to pick this novel now you can do so. There is an extra LN-only chapter left. I would have translated it but it’s too long and would have taken a lot of my time. Any potential should consider starting from there. Also consider leaving a comment in this chapter and/or in the index saying, “I am picking this up and ETA for next chapter is 1 day/week/month”, something like that. It will prevent whole bunch of conflicts with other translators.
However, if nobody picks it up, I will continue the translation but only after I return from my break hopefully with a job in hand.
That is all.
So, everyone stay safe and hopefully we’ll meet soon.