The conference ended up finishing on a very sour note.
Fortunately, Ryuuga has shown a certain level of understanding regarding Taotie.
“At the very least, I now know that Taotie doesn’t intend to harm the world of humans…It seems like he has some ill intentions towards me, though.”
It seems that his treatment towards a girl has led to him having a certain evaluation. Additionally, she also seemed delighted that I had gotten worried and followed her.
At any rate, with the promise that there would be another discussion in the future…this “shoplifting case” had somehow settled down. Returning home, I grabbed Taotie and made him take a dive off of the second story window.
(I’ll have to make sure that the next meeting turns out well…)
By the end of this substory, I need to make Taotie be recognized as a “harmless existence” by any means. I have to make everyone think that he’s just a “harmless soul in the background” who has been entrusted to a friend character.
If I accomplish that, I then have to rid myself of being “the protagonist’s semi-boyfriend.” Once that occurs, I’ll finally come back to my area of expertise, the daily life portion, and my mind will be at peace while part three begins.
(I’ve been allowed to attend the next meeting. I’ll definitely make things work out!)
…However, I couldn’t devote my entire focus on such matters.
Something else had happened on the night of the coffee shop incident. Aogasaki had sent a message to my cellphone.
‘To Ichirou. Can the just two of us meet up tomorrow? I want to see you.’
That’s right. I currently have another trouble.
The tough problem regarding the battle against Getsushiyoukan.
The problem about how I’ve raised more flags with Aogasaki Rei than any of the other heroines.
The next day had arrived.
Being summoned by Aogasaki, I rushed towards her residence. This time, I had been called alone, without any other companions.
(It’s been a while since the two of us had met up alone. Is she going to perform a fashion show as a way to relax? Or perhaps this is actually about King Arthur…)
While trying to guess what it could be, I arrived at the Aogasaki residence.
Aogasaki was still in the middle of practice. To be precise, she was in the middle of teaching the children at the dojo. It seems that I’ve arrived a little early.
“Kobayashi. Sorry, but this will be over in about ten minutes, so could you wait a bit?”
I replied to the apologetic Aogasaki with “Sure, no problem,” and stood in the corner of the dojo while watching everyone practice.
(I already heard about it, but it seems there really are only elementary school students here.)
Small children were swinging bamboo swords with all their might while raising voices. By the end, I was even called on to accompany the second grader Keita for his practicing.
Aogasaki, who wore her dojo uniform, had a serious, but somewhat gentle expression. The usual sharp glint in her eyes had toned down, and her eyes looked quite like that of a mother’s.
(All these children look to be having fun. It seems you’re quite a good teacher, Aogasaki.)
…Before long, practice was over and we watched the children depart from the residence to go home.
Aogasaki immediately changed her outfit and appeared once more in front of me. I thought that she would be wearing her uniform today, but she wore a cool camisole and a gathered skirt.
“Kobayashi. The weather’s nice, so why don’t we take a walk for a bit? There are some fashion magazines I’d like to buy at the bookstore.”
Her proposition to walk somewhere was a bit unexpected, but I didn’t have a reason to refuse her, so I went along with it.
We’re already acquainted with each other, so “we’re at the level where we meet up occasionally and go to the bookstore together” is a valid enough reason for our conduct. Aogasaki’s clothes were simple, so nobody would think that we were going on a date.
The heat of the early afternoon was overwhelming. The two of us walked along the asphalt sidewalk, feeling waves of heat.
“…Sorry, Kobayashi. I dragged you into a troublesome matter.”
Aogasaki spoke as such. Of course, she’s probably talking about the battle against Getsushiyoukan.
“Don’t worry about it. I understand why Ryuga would be mad. I’m also a bit angry at King Arthur.”
That’s the truth. This wouldn’t have become such a troublesome matter if he only decided to have a one to one fight with Ryuuga. I wish that I could just play a minor role, having to worry only about Taotie.
“I, is that so? You got angry? Asao’s indeed in the wrong, but…I feel a bit relieved upon hearing you say that.”
However, I get the feeling that she interpreted what I had said differently.
She had obviously gotten into a good mood and she nonchalantly closed the distance between us. She linked her arms behind her back, emphasizing her already gigantic breasts.
“To be honest, you being mad at Asao…makes me happy, even if it’s rude for me to say that. I’m also glad that you were worried enough to follow me.”
Speaking of which, Ryuuga wasn’t mad about me following her on her date with Taotie either. Perhaps that’s the way women are.
“By the way, Kobayashi. Asao actually told me the participating members yesterday. I already informed Ryuuga and the others via a message.”
“Yes. There’s no need to tell him our members. It probably won’t make a difference in the match.”
“He’s looking down on us…”
“He has a lot of confidence. After all, they’re all talented members of Getsushiyoukan.”
Aogasaki then briefly explained who the other four members were.
──First is the student council vice president, Miyamoto Chizuru.
A second-year student in Oumei High School and a talented woman who is sure to become the next student council president after King Arthur. She’s King Arthur’s cousin, and her sword skills are also top-ranking nationwide. She’s no match for any ordinary guy.
──Next is the student council secretary, Sasaki Yousuke.
A student of Oumei High School, and a third-year like King Arthur. Not too keen on practicing, but can rival King Arthur in skill through sheer talent. A zealous, moody person who had some dissatisfaction with the matter of the match, but a strong opponent nonetheless.
(Miyamoto and Sasaki…those names alone are enough for one to understand that they’re sword wielders. Could it be that the student council is completely under the control of Getsushiyoukan?)
──The third member is an adult named Kiriya. This person doesn’t even seem to know Aogasaki that well, and has only been introduced to her once through King Arthur. However, according to Aogasaki, this member is “possibly stronger than Asao.” It’s quite childish to have an adult participate.
──Finally, there’s Tanaka Kazuhiko.
I heard his name before, but he seems to indeed be that mob who used to be a student of the Aogasaki dojo. He probably has a considerable amount of power, but he seems to be the weakest one.
(It would definitely be best if I were to be the one battling him. Just a modest match while playing a minor role.)
While secretly wishing that I would battle Tanaka, Aogasaki breathed a small sigh.
“I never thought that Kazuhiko would participate in a match like this, one that decides the fate of the Aogasaki dojo…Asao’s quite malicious.”
“Is that person really your childhood friend, Aogasaki? Do you two know each other well?”
“Since elementary school. However, Kazuhiko started taking sword lessons in junior high. Though it’s embarrassing saying this, he said ‘I aiming for strength like Rei’s.'”
…I wonder if that person liked Aogasaki by any chance. As can be seen, she’s a beauty who would make one’s eyes widen. It must have been no different during her childhood.
Above all, how could he not be conscious of her when he had been watching those huge breasts grow? I would be conscious. I’m sure that he kept a diary of her breast growth.
“Kobayashi. To clear up any misunderstandings, there were no feelings of love between Kazuhiko and me.”
As if reading my thoughts, Aogasaki replied.
I think that’s an absurd remark, though. Even if Aogasaki says that he has no interest in her, there’s no way that he feels nothing.
I’d prefer if she didn’t act as if she spoke on behalf of Tanaka’s feelings. After all, if anyone, he would be the one to have an unrequited love with a main character…and now I feel a bit of pity for Tanaka.
“The reason for that is because Kazuhiko has a girlfriend. A fellow girl from the Tamahachi company.”
That Tanaka! Even though he’s just someone with a minor role!
“Besides, there’s someone else of the opposite sex on my mind…right in front of me.”
That Ichirou! Even though he’s just someone with a minor role!
While I was grimacing, Aogasaki shook her head and her hands. Her long ponytail swiveled around, hitting me in the cheek.
“F, f, forget what I just said. It’s not like anything in particular needs to happen between us, Kobayashi. Having us meet every once in a while is enough. After all, you’re preoccupied with the matter of the ‘Evil Spirit’ Taotie right now.”
And in an instant, an awkward silence had ensued. Both of us kept walking, looking away from each other while not saying a thing.
(Aogasaki, let alone Ryuga, shouldn’t be this close with me. A main character’s partner should be someone of a suitable rank.)
Wanting to change the mood, I spoke again about that mob.
“Um, Tanaka, was it? Why did that guy switch over to Getsushiyoukan at a time like this?
“I suppose I didn’t make it clear. I believe that Kazuhiko has been…distancing himself from me recently. Perhaps he feels irritated that he couldn’t shrink the gap in ability between him and me.”
That makes sense. No matter how much one improves, there’s no way an ordinary person can be a match for Aogasaki.
She’s number two within Ryuuga’s party. A strong warrior who hunted fifty apostles by herself during part one.
“Elmira mentioned this before, but it seems that it really is impossible to beat you. You’re more skillful at the sword than Ryuga.”
When I spoke my thoughts, Aogasaki suddenly made a bitter smile, as if in self-deprecation.
“As if I’d be delighted to hear that. There was something Asao had said before. Succeeding the dojo, getting even stronger, and becoming more unwomanly──those words still hurt.”
“Being a swordswoman is just one side of you, Aogasaki. You have your womanly side too…”
“It’s natural for you to think that way. At present, you’re the only one who knows my true face. And the only one who’s decided to hide it is none other than me.”
──Aogasaki Rei is a stoic swordswoman. A stern, hard-working samurai girl devoted to the path of the sword.
At least, everyone around believes so. I also thought so in the past.
However, that’s not all there is to her. Aogasaki Rei is also…a girl who’s sensitive to what’s trendy and a fashionista. She is by no means just a swordswoman.
“Perhaps I’m scared to let people know about my true self. Aogasaki Rei as a swordswoman who puts men to shame──is perhaps a character I made out of herself and had been frantically playing the role of.”
I sympathize deeply with what she’s saying. I’ve also been shifting between characters to match with the various “protagonist-like existences” out there.
In that respect, Aogasaki’s not alone. Perhaps I was even a chameleon in my previous life.
“I’m not sure if it’s such a bad thing to act according to a character…”
“I don’t know if it’s bad, but I think I would be happy if people accepted my ‘true self.’ You coming to know about my ‘true self’ was just a coincidence, but when you accepted me, it made me…quite happy.”
That made me feel worse…and when thinking about it, it made me hate myself.
(In the end, I still see Aogasaki in the same light as before…)
To me, Aogasaki Rei is still a swordswoman character. A companion of the protagonist, a former heroine candidate, and a main character of the story.
This is a bad habit of mine. I have this tendency to see all people as fulfilling some kind of role. Viewing everyone in such meta way is…really rude of me.
(Aogasaki and I are fundamentally different. While I play the role of a character because I want to, she does the same because she can’t help but be conscious of her surroundings. This person is able to read the mood of a situation quite well, after all.)
…Perhaps it would be good for her to reveal herself sooner or later. At least to Ryuuga and the others.
Her “surprising true face” is not something that would disappoint people. Rather, people would find the gap moe charming.
With Aogasaki being the main focus in this substory…this is the perfect chance for the story to delve deeper into her.
(Nobody else other than me knows Aogasaki’s true face and can promote her. I wanted to only have a minor role, but…should I do it for Aogasaki’s sake?)
“I never knew that Aogasaki had such a side.” “I feel something close with her.” “Rei is my wife. You all can go and admire Kurogame.”──Once this episode is over, such comments would probably appear. Perhaps they would even make a “sexy Aogasaki Rei body pillow cover.”
Kobayashi Ichirou, a pro at being a co-star, can enhance not only the protagonist, but the companions as well!
“Aogasaki. I’ll do what I can. I’ll definitely liven things up during the battle against Getsushiyoukan!”
With my declaration, Aogasaki nodded in bewilderment while saying “O, okay.”
“I’ll make sure that there will be a dramatic development! I’ll do my best for that sake!”
“T, thank you, Kobayashi. However, you don’t need to do anything rash.”
“During the match, watch as I lose in an unsightly manner!”
“It would be better if there were a small crisis, right?!”
“We don’t need a crisis!”
“Who would even be happy watching an unbroken series of wins?!”
We walked to the bookstore while conversing as such.