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Chapter: 9


Volume 2, Chapter 9

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

The next day, Tatsuya and Miyuki left the house a little earlier than usual.

Rather than to get to school earlier, they wanted to arrive earlier at the train station.

Luckily, they didn't need to wait for very long at the train station. "Good morning, President."

Amongst women, Mayumi's figure would definitely be rated as petite, but that did not mean she would be buried within the crowds. Even in a crowd, her unique aura enabled Tatsuya to locate her immediately.

"Tatsuya-kun? And Miyuki too. What is it?"

Although the situation was obvious, Mayumi was completely blindsided by the possibility of meeting the two of them here, so her attitude did not reflect her usual joking nature and was a more normal reaction.

However, today's purpose was not to surprise Mayumi. Tatsuya skipped the preamble and dived right into the heart of the matter.

"I'm very concerned about what happened yesterday after we left. Can you tell me the results of the conversation between President and Mibu- senpai?"

At Tatsuya's request, Mayumi's eyes widened in shock. "How astounding."

It was not just her expression, but her tone was filled with astonishment as well.

"Tatsuya-kun definitely doesn't seem like the type to care about other people's business."

"If it was only other people's business, I couldn't care less. Unfortunately, the fates have decreed otherwise."

"No wonder."

At Tatsuya's response, Mayumi nodded in acceptance. Tatsuya was already involved in the business with the "Activists Alliance". Even if he wanted to keep himself clear of the mess, it was already far beyond the point of no return.

He definitely possessed the right to know what was to come, Mayumi thought — even if this wasn't the case, the results would be announced tomorrow morning anyway.

"They asked that Course 1 and 2 students receive equal treatment, but it appears that they never considered how to put this into practice. To be precise, it feels like they want the Student Council to come up with the concrete details. Well, thanks to that, it's more like a Q&A session now. Originally, we only planned to discuss the negotiation details yesterday, but we ended up with a public forum that will be held in the auditorium tomorrow after school."

"Developments are happening at a breakneck pace..."

Tatsuya expressed a dull surprise, since to him this was an inevitable "Is it finally here?" Thus, he wasn't overly surprised. Tatsuya originally thought that the most effective strategy was to directly confront the members and drag them out to be dealt with, even at the expense of letting some remnants slip through the cracks. That being said, his reaction was probably in the decisive minority. For example, even Miyuki was in a daze at how quickly things were moving along.

"While I understand that strategy gives the opponent little time to prepare, this way, we're also in the same predicament. Who is going to represent the Student Council in the forum?"

At Tatsuya's question, Mayumi revealed a smile that clearly said "Good question", and pointed to herself.

"...So, it's just going to be the President alone?"

Tatsuya's voice was still skeptical, not to mention Miyuki's stunned silence.

"Although Hanzo-kun will also be onstage, I will be the only one speaking. Just as Tatsuya-kun said, there's no time to prepare, so if only one person is speaking, there shouldn't be any concerns about stepping on one another's toes. I'm also worried about leaving an overly belligerent impression."

"In other words, you definitely won't lose in a traditional debate?" As Tatsuya said this, Mayumi confidently nodded her head.

"There's another thing," Mayumi's light voice was tinged with an air of expectation.

"If they truly possess the ability to overcome my arguments, wouldn't it be wonderful for them to pass it onto the school as well?"

In Tatsuya's ears, Mayumi seemed to be hoping that they'd demolish her side.

◊ ◊ ◊

At the announcement that a completely unprecedented forum was going to be held tomorrow, the Alliance (short for "Activists Alliance for the Abolishment of School-wide Differential Treatment") suddenly came alive with activity.

While it was unfair to say that many factions were involved, it was true that the sight of Alliance members actively stumping for supporters could be seen around campus before, during, and after class.

Every one of them wore the white bracelet with green and red stripes. Had they given up on hiding? Or were they unaware of the meaning behind the emblem...? Tatsuya believed it was the latter. Of course, Tatsuya did not support the idea that "the ignorant are not responsible for their crimes". He believed that responsibility was not measured by awareness, but by actions instead.

Despite that, he did not plan on interfering with the Alliance. Trying to gather the highest number of supporters before the "negotiation" was a natural course of action. While he wasn't unaffiliated with the situation, he wanted nothing to do with emotionally immature high school students that could be easily provoked by passionate words into actions that would hurtle them into the bottomless abyss (decisions that were wrong on multiple levels).

On the other hand, if the situation involved people he knew — Tatsuya was also a student at First High; it was improbable for him to know absolutely no one — and attempted to deceive or entice them, he would not remain idle.

"Mizuki."

After school, the day before the forum. Tatsuya greeted his classmate, who wore a face of confusion, while she was speaking with a young man who wore that bracelet on his right arm, and was probably a 3rd Year student . Mizuki hugged several books to her chest, which were probably club materials that needed moving. The fact that they were using materials that weren't digitized was an indication that many students in the Arts clubs probably shared the same interests he did. However, that was a conversation for another day.

"Ah, Tatsuya-kun."

Upon recognizing Tatsuya, Mizuki let out a sigh of relief. From her reaction, she had been caught in this tangle for quite some time.

First, Tatsuya carefully examined the upperclassman. He had a tall and lean build, with signs of training in martial arts.

Regarding his particular body type, Tatsuya had a certain recollection.

Without a doubt, he was the one who fled after attempting to magically ambush Tatsuya during the ruckus in recruitment week.

"I am Shiba of the Public Moral Committee. Continuing to bother other students may be construed as harassment. Be sure not to overdo it."

Tatsuya had no need to verify the details from Mizuki, and walked directly towards the upperclassman to make this known. Yet, he did not interrogate the student regarding his activities during recruitment week. There was no reason to believe that the upperclassman would answer upon being asked, and badgering him would only achieve the reverse effect. Tatsuya silently imposed himself between Mizuki and the upperclassman and directly confronted him.

The opposing side did not wear a flower over his left breast.

He wore a small pair of glasses on his face, but they did not appear to be ordinary glasses.

"I understand, then I'll back off.

Shibata-san, if you change your mind, could you please let me know? Anytime is fine."

The upperclassman retracted his hand in a very gentlemanly manner, then left by way of the stairs at the end of the hall. Tatsuya took this moment to ask Mizuki what happened before he arrived.

"He's the ace of the Kendo Club. I think his name was Tsukasa Kinoe-kun.

...He's the same as me, someone who is afflicted by 'oversensitivity to spirit particle emission', so he asked if I wanted to join a club led by someone who has the same difficulty."

Tatsuya did not expect Mizuki to voluntarily mention her own "eyes". However, he verified her oversensitivity to spirit particle emission a long time ago, so this was not surprising.

"So this was to share each other's experiences. Did I get that right?"

"No, Kinoe-senpai said that after joining the club, his symptoms have improved a lot, so maybe it could help me too..."

"That's..."

Ridiculous. Tatsuya did not finish his sentence aloud.

Even without saying so, he could tell Mizuki held the same opinion.

The only way to lessen the harm from being overly sensitive to magic- based sensations was to carefully control the Inquisitive Sensory Ability. In order to keep that ability properly in hand, the shortest path to success was definitely proper training.

For example, even for classes with no supervising teachers, the lessons learned in class were the next closest thing to "proper training". It was absurd to think that a club established by students could provide a training regime that was more effective than taking classes. Of course, it was another matter altogether if that club was directed by a member of the faculty, but the school system clearly did not have enough teachers already, as evidenced by the Course 1 and 2 system.

"Even though I've rejected him multiple times in the past on grounds of 'I'm satisfied with trying my hardest in class'."

"That's exactly right. There's no need to hurry. Taking one sure step at a time is a perfectly acceptable choice."

Mizuki nodded towards Tatsuya in manner that said "You're right", then walked towards the clubroom.

As Tatsuya walked in a different direction than Mizuki's path, his mind was racing. It was only a coincidence that he caught Mizuki when he did. But, excluding that detail, he didn't think this was a coincidence. While actively recruiting more club members in name only, or more like "baiting", their true purpose was to rope in Mizuki as one of their compatriots. Taking into account the skill level of the individual who ambushed Tatsuya before Alliance activities began, this 3rd Year student was the "real deal". At the very least, he wasn't someone that was being "baited", but instead actively "fishing" instead.

(The ace of the Kendo Club, Tsukasa Kinoe.)

Definitely need to inquire about that upperclassman, Tatsuya thought.

◊ ◊ ◊

After dinner, during a time that's usually reserved for unwinding any stress incurred over the day, Tatsuya was currently driving a newly purchased electric motorcycle.

The destination was Yakumo's temple.

He wasn't running because this was neither the early morning nor late in the night, and there were many drivers or pedestrians on the road. Use of magic without a legitimate reason was subject to penalties and fines. Even minors couldn't avoid substantial punishment.

Also, driving an electric motorcycle was not illegal any more. In 2095, traffic laws allowed anyone who was a "middle school graduate" to obtain a license for electric motorcycles. The requirements were no longer based on age, but on whether or not the individual had completed compulsory education instead.

Around his waist, a soft pair of hands gently wrapped themselves around him. On his back, his sister's twin orbs were pressed against him. Even though she was still developing, at the very least, from a perfectly objective point of view, they were undoubtedly above average for a fifteen year old (Miyuki was born in March).

That being said, Tatsuya's heart rate did not increase violently. Given that this was his sister by blood, that was only natural.

In addition, the ride lasted only ten minutes. No immoral activities, whether mental or physical, occurred along the route to Yakumo's temple.

This time, there was no violent reception from the disciples. The goal of this trip was not for further practice, so there was no need for any sort of grandiose welcome after calling ahead of time to schedule the appointment. The two of them headed directly for the cloister.

Yakumo's room was fashioned after civilian cottages seen in the early half of the 20th century. Actually, it might even be an authentic building from that time, but Tatsuya and Miyuki had no way of knowing for certain.

The fact that the temple did not shed a single ray of light around its surroundings was most likely not caused by the age of the building.

It wasn not just the exterior, but even the interior of the building allowed no light to pass through. It was pitch black inside the temple, with dense clouds obscuring any source of starlight against the moonless sky while the tall outer walls blocked off the street lamps.

It shouldn't be time for bed yet, unless the monks turned in earlier than usual? That was hard to imagine, considering ninjas that were early to bed and early to rise were unheard of, not to mention there was no reason for him to roll out of bed after they called ahead to schedule the appointment.

Miyuki gently reached out a hand towards Tatsuya. The hand was not shaking, and her grip on his sleeve was not very strong. However, for Miyuki, whose nocturnal vision was not nearly as refined as Tatsuya's, it should come as no surprise that she felt uneasy in the darkness — Well, since it was only a hand, she could do as she pleased. If there was any actual danger, Tatsuya would use his own magic to handle it.

The temple interior wasn't particularly narrow or spacious, so the two of them quickly reached the vestibule leading to the living quarters. There was no sign of a speaker or even a doorbell — this was definitely intentional. Just as Tatsuya was about to open the door and announce their arrival,

-- "Tatsuya-kun, this way."

From a completely silent spot not far away, a voice called out to Tatsuya.

The hand gripping Tatsuya's sleeve shook as its owner jumped in surprise while Tatsuya smiled helplessly. Seriously, even at his age, that guy still didn't tire of childish acts like sneaking around in the darkness and spooking people.

That being said, the only frightened person there was Miyuki, since Tatsuya felt practically nothing. On this level, Yakumo's "plan" was only partially successful — if there was a "plan" in the first place.

For a moment, Tatsuya toyed with the idea of turning around with Miyuki and leaving, but tonight he had business to conduct. Tatsuya swallowed his displeasure, and walked towards the source of the voice.

Yakumo stood with his waist leaning against the wall with both legs carelessly hanging out.

If he were meditating in a normal sitting position, he could easily be mistaken for any other monk, but that precisely was Yakumo's specialty.

Even after being acquainted for two and a half years, Tatsuya still felt that the monk was a hard man to read.

"Good evening, Sensei, are you headed to bed?"

"Ah, good evening, Tatsuya-kun, Miyuki-kun. How can that be, because no matter how casual I am, there's no way I'd leave an appointment hanging and go off to bed."

Tatsuya's complaint was quickly written off by Yakumo. Originally expecting Yakumo to make a big deal out of this, Tatsuya was rather confounded by his response.

"Sensei, I apologize for calling at this hour.

So... since you aren't going to sleep, why are the lights out?"

"Hm? Ah, that's just a habit. If there's no need to, I keep the lights off. I am a ninja after all."

It appeared that Tatsuya was mistaken in his assumption that it was for practical jokes. No matter how many precedents there were, he had to be wary of jumping to conclusions when examining a situation, Tatsuya reflected briefly.

Of course, he wouldn't do something like that in front of Yakumo.

Yakumo detected that Tatsuya was questioning his integrity. He squinted at the siblings, then launched into his aimless rambling.

"All the same, the spiritual aura that you siblings give off is simply beautiful. Being able to view it in a place without light is even better on the eyes."

"Spiritual aura, you say?"

"In your jargon, I think you would call it Pushion light."

Towards Miyuki, who was tilting her head, Yakumo spoke with a singularly serious expression.

For him to squint his pair of incredibly narrow eyes was not just simply for show, but to properly capture something that's normally difficult to see.

"Miyuki's spiritual aura shines forth with immeasurable brilliance without wasting a single drop, while Tatsuya's aura accurately traces his silhouette. And then, connecting the two..."

"Sensei."

Tatsuya immediately cut short Yakumo's rambling. Yakumo's squinting eyes returned to normal, his face adopting a sheepish expression. "Sorry, sorry, I forgot this is taboo."

"No, I was the one being impertinent."

Tatsuya slightly dipped his head, signifying that the conversation ended there. Naturally, there was no way Yakumo missed that.

"So, what did you need to see me for?"

"Actually, there's something I wanted sensei to look into."

Using this as an introduction, Tatsuya explained to Yakumo regarding the circumstances surrounding Tsukasa Kinoe.

"That 3rd Year student is definitely a member of Egalite, though I have reasons to believe that he is also connected to Blanche.

Unfortunately, I am uncertain what Blanche hopes to gain from using Tsukasa Kinoe."

"Egalite and Blanche, eh... Just this much wouldn't be too difficult to find."

At Tatsuya's request with a question phrased at the end of it, Yakumo frankly nodded. His words would normally be seen as overly proud or self- confident, but from his mouth they appeared almost natural.

Of course, Tatsuya knew that for Yakumo, asking him something like investigating the activities of terrorist organizations operating within the country was simply "a piece of cake".

"However, I am a monk, so I cannot step too far into the secular realm.

Also, given the depth of the analysis, wouldn't it be more expedient to ask Kazama-kun? I thought the daughter of the Fujibayashi family was with him too."

"Asking the Colonel would be a little..."

"That wouldn't go well with your aunt, huh."

After a short period of silence, Yakumo curtailed the difficulties Tatsuya voiced — to the very end, Tatsuya could not say it aloud.

"If that's the case, I guess I'm your only shot."

Tatsuya wordlessly bowed his head, not in appreciation towards the acceptance of his request, but in thanks to the other side's understanding.

Yakumo casually waved his hand to signify there was no need for that, then sat down, signaling Tatsuya and Miyuki to do the same.

Tatsuya sat next to Yakumo, while the more apprehensive Miyuki sat next to Tatsuya. Seeing this, Yakumo began,

"Tsukasa Kinoe, previously known as Kamono Kinoe." And jumped directly into the explanation.

"His parents and grandparents showed no genetic predisposition towards magic. On the surface, a purely 'mundane' family, but they're actually a side branch of the Kamo family. Despite being a side branch, it was a very distant relation, making them no different from a mundane family. Kinoe- kun's 'eyes' most likely reflect an earlier ancestor."

Yakumo's words seemed as if he had foretold Tatsuya's request ahead of time, causing Miyuki's eyes to widen in astonishment, whereas Tatsuya remained impassive.

If he was going to be amazed every time this sort of thing happened, there was no way he could have befriended Yakumo.

But, only this comment had to be said.

"Sensei, have you ever heard of 'personal privacy'?"

"I understand the literal definition."

Clearly not caring that it was his own request that invaded another's privacy, Tatsuya directly censured Yakumo. In comparison, Yakumo was completely calm as he replied.

Both Tatsuya and Yakumo blatantly ignored Miyuki, who had raised a hand in question.

"Nonetheless, did you know ahead of time that I would request a background check on Tsukasa Kinoe?"

Yet, Tatsuya's way of changing the subject was clear evidence that he was not completely ignoring his sister.

And Yakumo, also treating the earlier situation as if it hadn't happened, did not object.

"No, why I know about him was wholly unrelated to your request."

"...Is there a reason?"

"While I am the caretaker of this temple, at the same time, no, once upon a time, I was a ninja.

Much like how fish cannot survive away from water, ninjas cannot survive without constantly staying in the information loop.

At any rate, if there is a place that needs investigating, or people that are worth checking, I've taken a look already."

Tatsuya squinted his eyes. "Our situation as well?" Yakumo laughed heartily.

"I've inquired into it, but wasn't able to unearth any noteworthy secrets. The intelligence manipulation surrounding the two of you is truly invincible. Or should I say, worthy of its high reputation."

The air around Tatsuya and Yakumo grew tense.

Noticing the volatile atmosphere between the two, Miyuki quickly interjected.

"Sensei, regarding the relationship between Kinoe-senpai and Blanche...?"

At Miyuki's utmost effort, both Tatsuya and Yakumo relaxed simultaneously. Neither actually intended to come to blows, content to only glare at one another. The nervousness in the air caused by their fabrication quickly disappeared.

"Kinoe-kun's mother remarried, and the spouse brought with him a child from a former marriage. This adopted brother is the current leader of Blanche's Japanese branch.

In addition, he's not just a leader in appearances only. He directs the 'inner' side's work as well."

In spite of Yakumo's calm facade, his response was not such a relaxing thing.

"Kinoe-kun probably entered First High at the behest of his adopted elder brother. Most likely it's to incite the recent activities... But, what they are actually planning to accomplish remains unknown.

At any rate, there's no doubt that they're up to no good."

"I see..."

After listening to Yakumo's words, Tatsuya thoughtfully nodded. "I'm sorry I wasn't about to help at such a critical juncture."

"No, this can be used for reference."

This wasn't merely being polite, since he didn't anticipate getting all the answers here anyway. Besides, being able to elevate "someone who may be dangerous" into "someone who is definitely dangerous" was profitable enough in its own right. Tomorrow, he should nonchalantly notify Mari that Tsukasa Kinoe needed watching long before the forum would begin — Tatsuya mentally planned out his itinerary.

After considering this, Tatsuya suddenly realized there was one more item he needed to discuss.

"Speaking of which, sensei. What level is Tsukasa Kinoe's 'eyes' at?" At Tatsuya's question, Yakumo rubbed his chin and fell into thought.

"Yes... He's probably at the level that can identify any released spiritual motions. He shouldn't be able to read the spiritual aura hidden within the body.

At the very least, he doesn't possess the same powerful spiritual sight that Tatsuya-kun's classmate has."

Yakumo's last sentence caused Tatsuya to furrow his brows. "You investigated Mizuki as well?"

Hearing Tatsuya's question, Yakumo revealed the most mischievous smirk of the night.

"Aren't you interested in her too?"

Tatsuya scowled. The fact that Yakumo called him on it meant that he already let it slip, and the fact that he revealed this only showed his naivety.

The aforementioned interest was nothing sweet like romance. In a word, it meant that Tatsuya was also wary of Mizuki. Just as Yakumo pointed out, she may have the ability to read the "spiritual aura hidden within the body".

"The results speak for themselves. I don't think there's any need to be on guard."

Yakumo was more than satisfied with Tatsuya's sour expression.

He was no longer laughing. Although his bland tone and flighty attitude did not change, his expression was no longer joking.

"Even if she could see your spiritual aura, that girl would not be able to understand it.

If she were adept enough with magic to read your secrets, then she would not be so troubled over her own 'eyes'."

That was probably intended to set him at ease. Tatsuya's mood changed subtly.

Although Yakumo never intended it, Tatsuya still felt that he had a fresh understanding of the fact that he was an atypical Magician.

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