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A little while after the school festival, Sakura-chan contacted me.
“I heard that Maihama Ema came to Suiran.”
“Mmn. Do you know her? She goes to your school, right?”
“We go to the same school. We are not close. Take care around Maihama Ema. That girl doesn’t hold back against girls that she doesn’t like. There are plenty of her victims in Yurinomiya.”
“Oh okay. Wait, don’t tell me that she’s bullied you too?”
Thouught soo~ Even I couldn’t pick a fight with Sakura-chan and win…
“I saw Maihara Ema sticking around that famous Emperor so I was wondering if she was causing you problems, Reika. She’s been going around Yurinomiya boasting about how close she is with your Emperor.”
She did get invited to the tea party, and Yurie-sama seemed to know her well too, so maybe she was relatively close with him, but the guy himself seemed to have no desire to deal with her.
Ah, well. As long as it didn’t harm me.
So anyhow, the school festival ended on a nice note. I chatted with friends as usual. Sometimes I would go to the Handicrafts Club, and sometimes I’d drink tea in the salon. It was a peaceful autumn.
After a whole month like that, the term-end exams began. I studied desperately hard with Marin-sensei and on my own as well, and took the test with incredible vigour. It was the hardest I had ever studied since entering high school here. Maybe I could even reach the top 30!
A few days later the results were announced, and the school was hit with a bombshell.
1. Takamichi Wakaba
2. Enjou Shuusuke
3. Mizusaki Arima
Kaburagi’s name wasn’t there.
Why, Emperor!? You’ve fallen more than thirty places in one go!? Did you forget to write your name or something!? Did you shift all your multiple choice answers down a box!?
Far from just the first years, even the upperclassmen were speculating about what happened to the perfect His Majesty the Emperor.
And the Emperor himself hadn’t come to school.
I joined in on the discussion too, while giving the leader-board another once over. My name wasn’t there.
When I got my report card back it said I was rank 31.
…I was really too unlucky.
Emperor didn’t come to school in the next few days either.
At first people whispered about him falling ill, but nothing was ever made clear. As for his best friend Enjou, the guy wouldn’t say anything either. Thanks to that it seemed like everybody had their own explanation.
He never appeared at the salon either. I could see our members growing worried.
Really though, what on earth was up with him. Was the shock from falling in rankings so bad that he changed schools or something!? Ah-! Was he skipping school because he didn’t want to do remedials!?
Hmmmmmm… Huh? Speaking of which, when was the last time I even saw those two? Before the exams the salon was basically closed, and before that was…
More importantly, for some reason Kaburagi’s fall from grace and absence was directly a lot of criticism towards Wakaba-chan.
‘Not only did she steal first place while the Emperor was sick, she even went and took Enjou-sama’s place!’
But how was that even her fault?
And I guess it was a pretty bad idea of hers to be happily shouting “First place!” while half the girls were in shock about Emperor not being up there. Kaburagi and Enjou fans began talking about how she did something or other to take 1st place from them. Complete nonsense.
Worse yet, the new president of the Pivoine was a Pivoine supremacist. Losing face to a commoner like Wakaba-chan was something incredibly unamusing to them.
Wakaba-chan, your position went to hell in an instant! Are you going to be okay!?
I was heading to the Handicrafts Club by myself when I crossed paths with Enjou, who was carrying his bag and heading to a car.
I wanted nothing more than to ignore him, but I was a human being so I at least gave him a greeting.
He was smiling, but his face looked a little tired.
“You seem weary. Are you all right?”
“Hm? Oh, I’m fine. I’ve just got a lot of things going on, you know?”
I’ll bet you do. Right now the school is talking about nothing except your ‘things going on’.
“Are you curious too, Kisshouin-san? About what’s happening with Masaya.”
Honestly speaking I was a little. Who wouldn’t be, with all this fuss? But curiosity killed the cat.
“No. I simply worry that he is in ill-health.”
“Ill health, huh…”
“Ummm… might he have truly fallen ill?”
“He’s… not well, in a sense. I’m not really sure myself.”
Not sure? Aren’t you supposed to be his best friend!?
“I haven’t really seen him, you see.”
“…Were you unable to visit him while he was ill?”
“Kisshouin-san, why don’t you come with me? We’ll go visit him together.”
Hell to the no…
“Just kidding. He’s not even at home, you know. Right now he’s on a journey.”
“A… journey, you say?”
“Yeah. That’s a secret though. You won’t like what’ll happen next if you tattle.”
“I shall not speak a word of it.”
Even if you pried my mouth open I wouldn’t. But in that case I really wish he hadn’t told me to begin with. It was human nature to want to tell things that they were ordered not to tell.
“Who would have thought he would suddenly change classes from ‘Best Friend’ to ‘Traveller’.”
You actually went on a journey, Kaburagi? What, are you searching for yourself or something?
“When might Kaburagi-sama be returning from this journey?”
“It’s because I don’t know that this is such a pain. I’m calling him again today to try and talk him out of this.”
“Hah… Well then…”
“Anyhow, it’s a secret okay?” he said once more, putting his index finger over his mouth.
It was tough stuff, having a troublesome friend…
But a journey… Where did he even go. North, I bet. I could already see him with his coat lapels up, travelling through a snowstorm or something.
Thinking about it, it was almost time for winter break. I wondered if Kaburagi would be back for the New Year.
Also I wondered if this would be the year I’d become a full-fledged member of the Handicrafts Club.
With my needle-felting project in my bag, I hurried to the clubroom.
Apparently it was traditional for all the members to go have tea on the last day of club activities. I wasn’t invited though.
It was the last day of school this year. I had no real plans for anything, so I was leaving the school building with my friends to go home. That was when I came across a familiar face.
The one who called me a screw-head. I had thought of the perfect revenge.
“Katsuragi-kun, there’s something you need to know.”
“Do you know about the Sha Wujing of the morning?”
“Long ago there was a terrible battle. Soldiers died by the number, and in horrifying ways too. So horrifying that the soldiers weren’t able to pass on. Their spirits decided to find the enemies that put them through that suffering, and now they wander every night, blood running from severed necks, shallow whistling from the cuts in their necks, all the while moaning “Shaa Wujing of the Mooorningg~”. And you see, “Sha Wujing of the Morning” was part of a code used to find out if somebody was an ally or the enemy. And the people who couldn’t answer the code were their enemies, and they would end up haunting them to death. And the thing is, once you’ve heard the story they’re sure to visit you that night. They stand at your bedside and if you don’t tell them the meaning of the code, they’ll kill you and drag you into the next world.”
“Haaaaah!? What the fuck is that!?”
I held out my arms floppily like a zombie, and began walking closer to Birdbrain.
“…The truth is they came to my house too, the Bloodstained Warriors. Thankfully I was safe because I figured out the password. You’re a smart boy, Katsuragi-kun, so I’m sure you’ll realise it in no time. When the half-decapitated warriors visit you tonight, make sure you tell them. Also if you tell anybody else about this story they’ll visit them too, so be careful okay?”
“Well then, that’s all I wanted to say. Gokigen’yoh, Katsuragi-kun.”
I turned around to leave.
“Wait! Screw-head! Come back and tell me!”
“I have no reason to tell a person who can’t even use people’s names correctly.”
“…Kisshouin …senpai …tell me.”
“I’m soooorry~ If I tell somebody else the password then I’ll be killed~ Do your best, okay~? Well then, for real this time, gokigen’yoh~ Have a good year~”
“You-! Wait! Oiii!”
My steps felt light as I left him behind.
I did it. That guy is an idiot so I doubt he’d figure it out soon. And he’s an idiot so I bet he’d actually be scared. KEEEKEKEKEKEKEKE! Serves you riiight! This is revenge for ‘screw head’!
“…Um, Reika-sama. Just now, I heard that story as well…”
“Eh-, ah, that was complete lies~”
“It was a lie?”
“Yes, it was a lie. The soldiers had their throats cut and they were wheezing air from the wounds. In that case, how could they speak properly? Also the real password was actually ‘asa no sangogyou’. Well, not that it matters either way, since it was all just a lie anyhow.”
Katsuragi as his face turned white as a sheet! Of course he’d believe it, he was a chuunibyou after all. Not that he could help it, he was an idiot after all!
Ahh, so happy. This year’s grudges are water under the bridge next year, they say.
“Do you know about the Sha Wujing of the morning (Asa no Sagojyou)?”
This “password” was originally taken from another stupid story.
A priest came to a cliffside where many suicides had taken place to try and stop them.
“This is the curse of a wraith. We must not allow more suicides to happen.”
After putting up a certain paper seal, he left.
Later, when people came to see, they saw the battered seal said thus:
The above phrase is written as ‘あぎょうさんさぎょうご‘ in Japanese.
It can be broken into a-gyou-san sa-gyou-go or,
あ-Column 3, さ-Column 5.
‘asa no sangogyou’ means roughly the same thing:
あ and さ-Columns, 3 and 5
うそ or uso as some weebs might recognise, means ‘lie’ or ‘joke’.