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Kyoukai no Kanata - Chapter 1, part 2 [English]

nakulas Jun 16th, 2013 5,923 Never
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  1. *** Visit <http://nakulas.blogspot.com/2013/04/kyoukai-no-kanata-volume-1-progress.html> for more information.
  2.  
  3. After school; in the literature club room.
  4.  
  5. "Ugh."
  6.  
  7. I was hard at work selecting stories for "Lady of the Night". Turn a page. Read a page. Turn a page. Read a page. Turn a page. Read a page. Time merrily rolled along, content to leave me with the neverending mountain of papers. In the midst of all that silence, I must have begun to hallucinate. It sounded as though the second-hand of the old clock was ticking at random intervals. The very idea of calling the piece of paper in my hand a "story" irritated me. I was pretty clearly at my wit's end.
  8.  
  9. I figured I ought to pass some of the work off on the other club members, even though I couldn't imagine that helping.
  10.  
  11. "Where are the other three guys?"
  12.  
  13. "As if I know," replied Mitsuki.
  14.  
  15. She fussed with her hair and tossed it back over her shoulder. Sure, she was staring at the old copies of "Lady of the Night", but I wasn't so sure that she was actually working on them.  We were running out of motivation, fast, and our efficiency was dropping in tandem. Figuring that it was about time to call it a day, I glanced at the wall clock. It was nearly eight o'clock post meridiem.  That might be typical for an athletic club, but we were an academic club. We'd spent long enough there. I grabbed my bag from the shelf and got all my stuff together so I could go home.
  16.  
  17. "Oh, hey, Akihito - are you familiar with 'tsunderes'?"
  18.  
  19. "That was out of the blue. What about tsunderes? ...You know, I never expected to hear that word in real life."
  20.  
  21. "I don't understand how tsunderes work. There's annoying, and then there's things like 'I wasn't doing it for your sake' or 'I _really_ hate you, got it?'.  If she likes him, why doesn't she just say it?"
  22.  
  23. I didn't know what to say to that.  She shouldn't have said that. A few seconds passed.
  24.  
  25. "You should avoid saying things like that," I suggested. "You'll have people from around the country calling for your head. If you were a celebrity, your blog would've been trolled to high hell by now."
  26.  
  27. "......"
  28.  
  29. The black-haired girl suddenly fell silent. There was a gloomy look on her face that accentuated her fetching features. She was acting awfully tame. It made me feel kind of bad about myself.
  30.  
  31. "Er, sorry, don't feel bad about that. It's not a big deal."
  32.  
  33. "No, it's just that people like me better when I'm quiet like this."
  34.  
  35. "Snappy comeback!"
  36.  
  37. She already had a plan in mind for turning her would-be enemies into her supporters. Man. Mitsuki wasn't really a tsundere - rather, she just had a perverse outlook on the world. Well, I'm glad that my concern was unwarranted. It wouldn't be good for there to be bad blood between us, seeing as we were the only people there.
  38.  
  39. "Well, there's no accounting for taste, y'know?"
  40.  
  41. "That's true."
  42.  
  43. As we talked, Mitsuki glanced at the scraps of paper lying around us. They were, of course, issues of "Lady of the Night" that had been produced by past members of the club. Perhaps the heroine of one of those stories was a tsundere. That would explain why we went off on this tangent in the first place. For some reason, Kuriyama Mirai came to my mind just then. She produced a dark-red blade from nothing and attacked me with it before I could even say a word. And she looked wonderful in glasses.
  44.  
  45. She was a strange one; that's for sure.
  46.  
  47. Even though she "randomly" encounters pretty much every day, I can't figure out what goes on in her head. I've gotten used to dealing with her, but that's about it. It's not that I'm actively trying to avoid her, but dealing with her is a bit of a drag, so it really sucks when I run into her when I'm in a rush.
  48.  
  49. "Akihito," said Mitsuki, bringing me out of my reverie.
  50.  
  51.  My train of thought having derailed, I stared at Mitsuki.
  52.  
  53. "If you don't keep at it, your dreams will never come true, you know. Your dream that I'll confess my love to you at our graduation ceremony, in particular. Or have you met another girl you'd like to get close to?"
  54.  
  55. Perceptive! It was obvious to her that I was thinking about another girl. Or maybe that sort of stuff just shows on my face? Well, first things first: time for my repartee.
  56.  
  57. "Since when have I dreamt that you'll confess your love to me?"
  58.  
  59. "Oh, would you prefer to profess _your_ love instead?" queried Mitsuki, with an indifferent look on her face.
  60.  
  61.  Always with the comebacks.
  62.  
  63. "That's not what I meant. Your whole premise is faulty to begin with."
  64.  
  65. "My humblest apologies. I should have known that a philanderer of your stature would chase after anyone with big breasts. _Of course_ you wouldn't be particular about my breasts."
  66.  
  67. "There's more to my life than that!"
  68.  
  69. "Please don't shout. Can't you see that your adorable childhood friend is feeling jealous?"
  70.  
  71. She grinned impishly. I feel crushed for some reason. [fuzzy]Incidentally, Mitsuki and I have only known each other since the beginning of high school. I've moved around a lot, so I don't have any friends from when I was little.
  72.  
  73. "Do you _have_ to make a hobby out of heckling me?"
  74.  
  75. "It's really more of a chore than a hobby. This is my fate. What am I to do about it?"
  76.  
  77. "For the love of... that's not the point! You're basically bullying me!"
  78.  
  79. While I was busy retorting, a self-deprecating smile slipped onto my face. I suppose... that we had gotten too friendly with one another. We had forgotten our respective places. Though we were, in a sense, rivals, we certainly didn't bear each other any ill will. In fact, if you tossed both of us into a locked room, we'd get along just fine. That was certainly something to be happy about. At the same time, though, there was something very dangerous about it.
  80.  
  81. "By the way, Akihito."
  82.  
  83. "Yeah, what?" I replied.
  84.  
  85. "Regarding Kuriyama Mirai."
  86.  
  87. Suddenly and without warning, Mitsuki meant business. Caught off guard, I was at a loss for words. Come to think of it, though, I shouldn't have been surprised that she asked that. There's no way the Nase family wouldn't be aware of someone like her... someone who wasn't an ordinary human. Our entire conversation thus far must have been a prelude to this question.
  88.  
  89. "...so you really did know about her."
  90.  
  91. "Probably before you did," she replied, dispassionately.
  92.  
  93. Mitsuki set her copy of "Lady of the Night" down on the table. My spidey-senses were tingling - peril was in the air.
  94.  
  95. "She's not an evil xenor, right?"
  96.  
  97. "This is a tough time for us. We're still having trouble figuring that out."
  98.  
  99. "Uh?"
  100.  
  101. "Not that I need to tell you this again... but, you know how we of the Nase house have thrived by constructing an exclusive space for ourselves? That's why we absolutely abhor those who would do harm to our domain."
  102.  
  103. "Sure, but still - isn't that an awful lot of fuss over a single high-school girl?"
  104.  
  105. "Obviously, we aren't worried about just that one girl."
  106.  
  107. "It sounds like you're implying something."
  108.  
  109. "A number of xenors are approaching this area as we speak. We knew they were coming, and that in and of itself isn't particularly worrisome. Nonetheless, until we know what exactly they're after, we can't afford to relax."
  110.  
  111. "...and Kuriyama is one of those xenors?"
  112.  
  113. "Provisionally, yes. As of yet, we don't know if they're working together, or if they're lone actors."
  114.  
  115. "Are you clear to talk about all of this with me?"
  116.  
  117. "I trust you, Akihito."
  118.  
  119. Praise from Mitsuki - now there's a surprise. And then, in a robotic voice, she pronounced,
  120.  
  121. "So, don't become my enemy."
  122.  
  123. And with that, she stood up and grabbed her bag. She left the room. Elegantly. You could just tell from the way she carried herself that she was from a house of fine repute. That said, the desk was still covered with sheets of paper. Since I was the only one left, I reluctantly set my bag to the side as I cleaned the room up. I didn't care to do any serious housekeeping or anything; I just wanted the room to be tidy enough to be presentable.
  124.  
  125. "We're going to be at this again tomorrow anyway."
  126.  
  127. I switched off the lights, locked the door, and then---
  128.  
  129. "Kanbara."
  130.  
  131. This hallway, lined with the clubrooms of the various academic clubs, was quite quiet. Had I been anywhere else, I imagine I would have failed to hear that quiet voice. I didn't even need to turn around. When I glanced in the direction of the voice, I saw a girl standing there, wearing red-rimmed glasses. Once upon a time, I would have been overjoyed to have freshman girls talking to me. Those days are long gone. I ought to write a eulogy for them sometime---I can't say I'm overjoyed by the current state of affairs.
  132.  
  133. It isn't difficult to see why. The person who called for me was, of course, Kuriyama Mirai.
  134.  
  135. "Can't you keep it to just one encounter a day?"
  136.  
  137. "You did a number on me during lunch, but I'm ready for you this time."
  138.  
  139. She completely ignored my plea, and come on, I didn't "do a number" on anyone during lunch break. She was just digging herself a deeper hole. If I were to point that out, though, that would just make things worse. And so, I just asked her what I always asked her.
  140.  
  141. "What do you want?"
  142.  
  143. "Do you really think that a family of professional dreamghast-exterminators would let a ghastling run free?"
  144.  
  145. "The way you think you're bound to your family business kind of concerns me. Besides, I haven't been _possessed_ by a dreamghast. I'm half-dreamghast and half-human---one of a kind, or so. I'm not under the control of a dreamghast. It's just that my body is a bit unusual. Aside from that, I'm an ordinary high school guy. I'd think a pro like you could afford to ignore me."
  146.  
  147. "This is unpleasant."
  148.  
  149. Kuriyama then raised her left arm up to chest height. She was wearing an awful lot of bracelets on her wrist.  She removed the bracelets, and unwrapped the red bandage that was beneath them.  Fresh blood began to seep from the gash on her wrist. It looked so painful that I couldn't help but look away. The strangest things were yet to happen.
  150.  
  151. First, the blood began to snake up her arm towards her elbow, as if it had been granted life. It almost seemed sentient. Then, the scarlet fluid pooled in the palm of her hand.  Eventually, her palm was filled with blood. Then, the blood changed form, into a dark-red solid. Her crystallized blood began to reshape itself into a blade, about a meter in length.
  152.  
  153. It was an absurd method of creating an phantasmagorically absurd blade. She would go so far as to do battle with a mysterious weapon made of her own blood. It was as though she wouldn't care if she died, provided that she had seen her mission through. Even a half-dreamghast like myself couldn't help but be surprised by this dangerous style of combat.
  154.  
  155. There was a sense of impending danger about us (courtesy of her) as she readied her dark-red blade. It was about the length of a _shinai_, but its shape varied in remarkable ways. That made it difficult to judge the distance between the blade and my body. Worse, that blade was eminently capable delivering a lethal blow. It was too much for me to handle. I emphatically shrugged my shoulders and tried talking to her.
  156.  
  157. "Out of all the people who've learned about my peculiarity, you're the first to keep on trying to fight me."
  158.  
  159. "Flattery won't save you."
  160.  
  161. "What? I wasn't flattering you!"
  162.  
  163. She pushed up her red-rimmed glasses, with a look on her face that belied her words. Not that I tend to know what Mitsuki's thinking, but I really have no idea what goes through Kuriyama's head.
  164.  
  165. "Right now, we're the only people in this hallway," declared Kuriyama.
  166.  
  167. It seemed that she was implying, "...so we can do whatever we want."
  168.  
  169. "---Let's do battle."
  170.  
  171. Since time immemorial, there have been those whose duty it was to dispatch certain beings to the xenocosm - dreamghasts and those who, in being possessed by a dreamghast, ceased to be human. Those people are known as xenors. In this day and age, we often believe ourselves to have the freedom to take up whatever occupation we desire. Xenors, however, do not have that freedom. If I wasn't mistaken, Kuriyama was part of a long, unbroken line of xenors.
  172.  
  173. "I am the heir to a family of xenors,"  she said to me one day.
  174.  
  175. When she sees a dreamghast or a ghastling, I guess she feels compelled to do something about it. I don't know whether she was born that way, or whether she was taught to think that way later in her life. Either way, if she physically can't ignore them, I suppose it'd be fair to say that a spell has been cast on her blood. It sounds like a joke, but it's honestly no laughing matter. Why? Well, let's just say that tales involving dreamghasts and ghastlings tend not to turn out well. And even worse, she has to fight them. If I just _think_ about it, I'm overcome with unpleasant emotions. Imagine reading the worst story in all existence, forever. That's basically of how it feels.
  176.  
  177. My battle with Kuriyama---well, it was really more me running for my life as she attacked me mercilessly, which was really not cricket---drew to a close after about 30 minutes. We weren't even supposed to be _running_ in the halls, let alone doing battle. If anyone had found us, we'd be lucky to get off with a suspension. Seeing as she was pretty obviously worn out, I decided to be a gentleman.
  178.  
  179. "Are you okay? You look flushed."
  180.  
  181. Her shoulders were heaving as she breathed.
  182.  
  183. "You kept running around!" she said as she stared at me.
  184.  
  185. "So this is _my_ fault now, huh."
  186.  
  187. I sighed loudly.
  188.  
  189. "Aren't you tired after all that running?" she asked, looking wonderful in glasses as always.
  190.  
  191. "Not really. I have better stamina than most people," I replied, pretending not to know what she was getting at.
  192.  
  193.  Granted, Kuriyama was lacking in endurance, but I figured that would hurt her pride, so I left that part out.
  194.  
  195. "......"
  196.  
  197. Silently, she turned the dark-red blade back into a fluid, and absorbed it into her body via the wound on her wrist. Finally, she wrapped the bandage around her wrist and put her bracelets back on. I just looked on, dumbfounded, as went through those motions.
  198.  
  199. An unhuman ability.
  200.  
  201. A lineage of xenors extending into the distant past.
  202.  
  203. A family of people who hunt dreamghasts, using their own blood as a weapon.
  204.  
  205. Kuriyama Mirai---a truly unusual girl. Well, anyway, with her blade gone, I figured that the battle was over.
  206.  
  207. "This is the first time I've seen an immortal ghastling like you, Kanbara."
  208.  
  209. "Yeah, well, this is the first time I've seen a xenor as aggressive and fond of battle as you, Kuriyama. And how many times do I have to tell you that I'm not a ghastling? I'm just a slightly out-of-the-ordinary high school guy. Nothing more."
  210.  
  211. I made a show of shrugging. Just slightly out-of-the-ordinary---that wording said volumes about how half-baked I was. Neither a human nor a dreamghast. Kuriyama didn't look like she believed me.
  212.  
  213. "Something bothering you?"
  214.  
  215. "Your immortality doesn't give you eternal youth, right?"
  216.  
  217. Right. I just can't die from disease, or from damage to my body. I'll get old just like a normal human, and when the time comes, I imagine I'll die like a normal human."
  218.  
  219. "Oh, I see."
  220.  
  221. Kuriyama nodded. I guess she was impressed by that. When she wasn't in combat mode, everything she did was girly. I figured I wouldn't get a chance like this again, so I posed her a question.
  222.  
  223. "The way you turn your blood into a blade seems pretty dreamghastly. How exactly do you you manipulate your blood anyway?"
  224.  
  225. "I don't really know. For as long as I can remember, I think I've been able to manipulate it, so---"
  226.  
  227. Kuriyama jolted, as if she had suddenly come to her senses. She looked cute with her glasses off-kilter. I was a bit confused, so I just sat there, waiting intently for her to go on.
  228.  
  229. "W-w-w-w-w-why should I tell you about this!?"
  230.  
  231. She huffed and puffed as she ran off. Our relationship really was a confusing one. What a pain. I sighed for the zillionth time that day and headed home.
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