Altina the Sword Princess Chapter 2
Taking Flight in my Search for a Heroine
Editor: Deus ex-Machina, Ruzenor
It was Tuesday, an hour past midnight. The game countdown reached 0. It was time to play 【There are no heroines in my youth】. Up until just now, I received 【Smile】 messages from Gon-chan and Kazuya, but I replied them all with emoticons, and blocked off all distractions.
I sat on my bed cross legged, and held my phone in my hands tightly. Come on!
It started after my Grandpa and I finished playing 【Hell Scream 4】. After that, the narration stated I ［played a mobile game］ and my avatar went to bed. I already expected that… Nothing, nothing happened at all.
Which meant the outrageous event of meeting a heroine in the middle of the night didn't happen!
Which also meant I wasted one precious day!
The strength drained from me. The second day… I will work hard on the second day!
My avatar reached the school. Chatted idly with 【Friend A】 and 【Friend B】 in the classroom. The class schedule for Tuesday was exactly the same as mine in real life. The first to fourth period was described in narrative form. Nothing of note happened. Next was lunch break. Here it comes! The choice branch appeared.
【Buy bread at the snack shop.】
【Head to the second courtyard】
Instruction manual… Don’t this game have an instruction manual? There should be one, right?
In the end, that settings icon in the top right corner of the screen still couldn’t be used! Just why? Or will it remain locked if no heroine appears…? That might be the case.
Treating this as seriously as my final exams, I started working my brain. Buying bread at the snack shop… I want to choose this! Even so, probably nothing would change if I did! Which means this was a wrong choice. Just like the usual me!
I don’t get the Puppura thing at all… Was my avatar supposed to say that? Or would I hear it in the game? Wait, even though I would know what that was after choosing it, I didn’t have the option of saving and loading. I couldn’t retry my choices! Should I choose that Puppura thing in spite of all that? That was too risky…!
Next would be the second courtyard. At first glance, this seems like a normal option. But that wasn’t impossible, it’s a trap. Honami High School have two courtyards, one was grand, the other was deserted. During lunch, groups of friends and couples would spend their time there, building a nice atmosphere.
On the other hand, the furnishing in the second courtyard seemed really haphazard, and it was also small. It was also related to the supernatural side of Honami High School, being part of the 7 school mysteries. It wasn’t popular, and the lighting was bad too.
The problem was the content of the mystery. Apparently, singles who visited the second courtyard during lunch break will remain a bachelor for all three years of high school. Just for visiting that place during lunch break! By the way, the same rumours said that couples would break up if they went there. This seemed to have originated from a curse by an unpopular male student a long time ago who ate in the second courtyard… For those who didn’t mind such things, this might be a nice quiet place. As for me, I didn’t really want to visit there…
Ah. But, I could only choose this…
Since it was a place I would never visit, maybe something would happen there…
I sent my avatar to the second courtyard. I chose the third option.
I was filled with doubt as I watch my avatar moved.
But I saw it.
Finally, it’s finally here! I 【Heroine A?】 appeared in the name slot of the dialogue box… Wait. Why was there a 【?】? What the hell was that 【?】!
Hold on, a girl with a portrait appeared! The first one!
It was a bit late, but I was finally heading in the right track! And wasn’t that——.
Her long brown hair with a curl at the very tip that came right down to her chest. She had put in quite a bit of effort! The sway of her hair and breasts were well done. The colouring and air about her was great, an excellent portrait of the real life Rika-sama. The dialogue box—— also showed that Heroine A’s name was Mochizuki Rika.【Heroine A?Mochizuki Rika】.
This was the reflection of the result of the data I entered.
The reference for the first person was Rika-sama.…… in terms of her looks.
Rika-sama appeared with an unhappy expression. My avatar didn’t notice Rika-sama. Shortly later, my avatar picked up a lost item. Was it Rika-sama’s? It wasn’t stated what that item was, but my avatar spoke to Rika-sama. Go for it!
I stared at the screen speechless. If I could only… But it was true that if I spoke to a girl, and Rika-sama on top of that, I would become like that. I would become like that! Yeah, I knew that!
My avatar offered the lost item to Rika-sama.
However, Rika-sama’s expression completely disappeared. I understand. She completely hates me now, right? Just why!?
Rika-sama quickly turned her back to me and left.
—— That was my meeting with 【Heroine A?】, the end.
Wait a minute. But I couldn’t interfere with what was happening on the screen. I was moved to tears that someone that seemed to be a Heroine appeared. And that person was that Rika-sama! While it was true that we met, it was negative in nature…
My avatar didn’t give his name to Rika-sama. Rika-sama didn’t say anything either. Rika-sama’s portrait was wonderful, the swaying of her hair and breasts were so detailed.
But that was Rika-sama’s entire screen time? Really?
I should continue the game. I tapped it.
But Rika-sama’s debut ended just like that… My avatar brought the lost item to buy bread. After buying the bread scheduled for Tuesday, I had lunch in the classroom. I then attended the fifth and sixth period.
—— And so, school was out for the second day.
I should make a move here! Just like lunch break… and pick an action where I could at least meet my heroine!
The choice branch’s here!
【Hurry home and play the new FPS 【Hell Scream 4】 with your grandfather, and chat with other players.】
【Head to the library.】
【Pull a recycle bag over your head and jump from the roof of one building to the next.】
There wasn’t any puppura thing this time… it was fine that the puppura stuff was gone… There was some slight changes with the first option, but it was basically the same thing as yesterday. My finger started hovering between the second and third options, unable to decide between the library and the roof top.
Should I head to the library… Well, compared to the first option, it wasn’t something I would usually do, but it appeared too reasonable. That might be so, but jumping from the roof top… that option was too ridiculous.
［… Isn’t this option too persistent?］
I suddenly realized that this option already appeared several times. That means something would happen if I select it, right? A heroine would appear!
［Wait… the problem is...］
Was the rooftop accessible? If yes, what about the distance to the next block? How far was it? Was it within jumping range?
I crossed my arms as I listened to the game’s BGM. Wasn’t it still too early to make my decision? The game progressed all the way to the end of school on the second day. There was still plenty of time until then. It would be fine to make that choice after I go to school. Speaking of which, after meeting Rika-sama during lunch break, the game narrates me as playing a game as I ate bread in class. It was mentioned off handedly, but I should have made my choice during that time, right?
That must be the case.
I nodded and decided to postpone the selection to later… And turned in.
I slept soundly until I woke by myself on Tuesday, 27th September. I spent the morning in school distractedly. Gon-chan and Kazuya chatted with me, but I didn’t remember the details. I think… Kazuya was complaining about me replying to his 【Smile】 messages with just emoticons. I used the excuse that I was engrossed with 【Hell Scream 4】 to fudge over it.
Gon-chan usually sends emoticons, so answering back with emoticons wasn’t a problem. When I conversed with Gon-chan through 【Smile】, it had become common to respond to him with an emoticon. Kazuya will probably get used to it soon.
The bell signalling the end of the fourth period rang. I stood up abruptly.
The encounter with Rika-sama was waiting for me.
I headed for the second courtyard.
To think that Rika-sama would appear in that kind of place. If not for the help of 【There are no heroines in my youth】, I would never have thought of that.
There was a well-known rumour about Rika-sama heading to a secret location to have lunch. People who wanted to be her servants and flatter her would follow Rika-sama everywhere. But this probably crossed her limits of tolerance. She said: 【Annoying! Disappear!】
After that, no one knew where Rika-sama would go during lunch break—— that’s how the rumour goes. There were rumours saying that she would spend that time being lovey dovey with the guy she fancies, or discipline students she dislikes. That rumour was too much, and probably stem from the other legend about several female students who transferred fearfully after being glared at by Rika-sama. By the way, I couldn’t believe anyone would transfer just for that and dismiss it as just a rumour.
I walked down the stairs to the first floor. The second courtyard was a bit far from classroom 2-2.
After reaching this place, I started to shiver. Now that I was here, it really felt like some strange things would pop out. It was a bit cold here. The leaves of the almond tree was still green at this season, and it felt a little gloomy.
It was great that I got here.
I shift my gaze downwards, and searched the area. After all, my avatar picked something up here. How could I miss the chance to chat with Rika-sama, correct!?
Ah, that rock with a weird shape? It wasn’t a lost item, so that’s wrong. Oh, that chocolate snack packaging? How could it be. Don’t throw rubbish here, okay?
I picked up the packaging, and headed to the school trash bin located in a corner of the school courtyard. A trash bin was right here, yet this was still littered, really now… As a campus beautification committee member, I couldn’t turn a blind eye to this!
My gaze stopped at the white object in the shadow of the trash bin… It was a small doll.
That was hard to judge. It was a bit damaged as if it had been thrown away, but was that really so? However, I could feel the love its owner put into it, so what’s with that. I picked the palm sized tail-shaped doll up. It was fluffy and white, and appeared to be in too good a condition for something that was discarded. It also had signs of repair. There was also a pink lacy strap at the end, which was a little dirty… It smelled clean when I brought it near my nose… So it’s probably not trash.
I should send this to the teacher’s office as a lost item.
I turned around—— and opened my eyes wide.
Ri... it’s Rika-sama. Rika-sama’s here! Damn! I was distracted by the love being emitted by the tail doll! She had a 【?】, but this was still an encounter with a heroine!
Rika-sama in the flesh was just a few metres away…! Rika-sama in real life was different from the game after all!
She was searching for something with a serious face. Why was her frowning face so beautiful too. Not cute, but beautiful. Rika-sama seemed flustered as she brushed her hair up.
—— I finally came to my senses here.
W-W-W-What should I do?
I haven’t found the lost item my avatar picked up yet, right!? There was no way it could be this tail. It obviously didn’t belong to Rika-sama! Or rather, it seemed to be something she would throw away.
But, if I took this lost item, and ask her ［Does this belong to you?］, I should be able to chat with Rika-sama. There wasn’t any time for me to hesitate and pick something else.
Just treat this tail as the lost item my avatar found in the game, and proceed from here…!
However, I won’t yell 【A-Ahhhhhhh!】 like my avatar did! Absolutely not! The important thing was timing,
As I was thinking about that, Rika-sama walked closer. She was looking at the ground and seemed to be muttering something I couldn’t hear. W-Was this the right time? Should I start speaking here——?
I took a step forward. The sound of my foot stepping on the sandy ground echoed out.
Rika-sama lifted her head as if she was shocked. She looked at me with her determined eyes. This was the first time I saw Rika-sama’s face from so close. I should say she looked like a porcelain doll. A well proportioned face just like a doll. What was that called again, the right temperament? With a little icy air about her. Rika-sama’s eyes fell quickly onto the tail doll on my hand.
Rika-sama’s expression vanished completely. I understood what a horrifying thing it was for a beauty to become expressionless.
My mind turned blank and I ——
Made the same mistake as my avatar! And offered the tail doll to Rika-sama meaninglessly.
And Rika-sama’s reaction?
She’s glaring at me ahhh!
Was this the eye power that made those students transfer?
Rika-sama then turned away immediately. I couldn’t do anything but watch Rika-sama’s back as she walked away.
Ahhhhhh. This was just like the game, but… this sensation of failure…
I started sniffing. A nice fragrance was coming from the direction where Rika-sama had left. It was what I smelled earlier. I looked at the tail in my outstretched hand, and brought it to my nose.
［The same smell…?］
This was only speculation, but this belonged to Rika-sama?
Drop that at once plebeian! Was that what she meant? I turned around… Before I discarded it, should I ask Rika-sama one more time? If I want to ask…
［The next chance would be after school…］
I remembered that I haven’t decided on the choice branch yet. I looked up at the school building like I did this morning. It seemed possible to leap from one building to the next.
It might be a bit tight! Though, for people skilled in long jumping, it might be possible…
［Time for lunch.］
So I went to the snack shop. Going by my schedule for Tuesday, I bought chocolate croissant, prawn bun and butter sandwich. I returned to the classroom and ate by myself today too.
But my eyes were glued to the phone on the table.
There were three choices, and I had to choose one…
I had gotten tired of the BGM now. Should I go to the library, or the rooftop… If I chose rooftop, not only do I have to do a long jump, I need to put a Recycling Bag over my head too.
Coincidentally, I got a white Recycling bag of the right size when I bought bread just now.
Even after finishing all the bread, I was still stuck there. As lunch break was finishing soon, I felt it was time to end this and picked up the phone with my left hand.
My right index finger hovered hesitantly millimetres above the options. How troubling…
［What are you doing, Itsuki !］
Unfortunately, this was the moment I received a bump on the back. Someone slapped my back. But I knew who it was just from that voice.
My index finger.
Touched the screen.
［Ahaha, were you that surprised?］
I wasn’t surprised ahhhh! I turned my head and saw Kazuya. Kazuya didn’t realize the crime he committed and was still all smile. Damn it, instead of that, what I chose was more important!
—— Because of that accident, what I chose was 【visit the library.】
Safe! It was the the choice that was more typical for me. In that case… I could continue with ease. My avatar headed off to the library.
However… Nothing, happened. I didn’t borrow any books, and my avatar fell asleep in the library!
【Tosa Itsuki sleep very soundly. It had gotten dark outside. After leaving the school, he went home.】 That’s all.
It then returned to the familiar black countdown screen.
Didn’t the heroine appear? If I took the same actions that I just chose…
Wait. No, because this was closely related to the heroine, I had been taking the same actions as the game. It had been confirmed that nothing would happen if I head to the library. By going through this game, I knew that was the wrong option. In that case, I just need to take the option which I didn’t select just now. The bad thing was, I wouldn’t know what the results would be, but something would definitely happen! Such as encountering a heroine, a heroine encountering me or something!
I grabbed the Recycling Bag, on my desk, seemed like I had to use it.
I turned to Kazuya.
I patted his shoulder.
［I don’t really get it, but I won’t reject any thanks directed at me!］
My plans after school was now clear.
It was 【Pull a recycle bag over your head and jump from the roof of one building to the next.】
When the last HR class ended, the decisive after school time came and I headed for the rooftop. I left the classroom early like my other friends, although they did so to walk home with their girlfriends. How envious. No, even if it was me, if I made good use of 【There are no heroines in my youth】... I could get a girlfriend!
Honami High School was divided to the east building and west building. Since class 2-2 was in the east building, I headed for the roof here first… But the door was locked. I held onto a glimmer of hope and went to the west building—— And the door to the roof was actually open!
I glanced through the door, and stood in the stairwell instead of entering the roof.
The problem was the rain! It was raining! It was great that the door wasn’t locked, but I was pushed back to the stairwell by the rain blown in by the strong wind. I took out my phone and checked the weather app, and a storm had surrounded the area around school. The rain had the chance of turning into hail… Hail?
I have to complete the challenge of jumping from one rooftop to another under such weather?
I brought a Recycling Bag with me, the one that came along with my purchase of my bread… But…
I turned off the weather app, and found a notification waiting for me. It was sent by 【There are no heroines in my youth】. I opened the game, and it was still displaying the countdown——
Hold on! On a closer look, the icon that wouldn’t respond no matter how much I pressed it had changed. The colour was different. After tapping on it, a system notification appeared.
【This is a notification for Tosa Itsuki-san. You can install an assistance tool now. Would you like to install an AI?】
……AI? An AI would be Artificial Intelligence, right? Was it something that could be installed on a phone, depending on the phone model?
【Installation will require a payment of the in-app currency of 500,000 Sols. Tosa Itsuki-san has 0 Sols on hand right now. Insufficient funds, please proceed with a loan.】
I remember my total possible loan amount was… 1,000,000 Sols. I already borrowed 300,000 Sols to start this game, so this would cost an additional 500,000 Sols huh.
The AI actually cost more than the game itself! What in the world…
My debt would grow to 800,000 Sols if I install this AI… I already borrowed 300,000… If I add another 500,000, that would be——!
［Fine… That will be fine.］
【The AI will provide gentle guidance to the customers who aren’t familiar with the game. A powerful partner who will definitely be of use. Even if you have to take a loan, we will recommend you get one.】
Hmm… I crossed my arms, and these words appeared like a follow-up attack.
【Do you require a loan?】
【Thank you for your patronage, Tosa Itsuki-san. You have taken a loan of 500,000 Sols, now installing the assistance tool AI. Please select gender. Would you like a male? Or female?】
Female of course.
【We have prepared two types of female. A young loli type, default name Minari. Voice sample—— ［I love Onii-chan!］】
The anime-like voice from the phone made me lean back in surprise. This was the first time I heard a voice from this game.
【The elder sister type who is about your age. Default name Pandora. Voice sample——［I will always be on your side.］, please choose one.】
This voice sound more reassuring.
Which should I choose. What a headache… Younger sister, forgive me. With a heavy heart, I chose Pan—— Before that, I did a eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a tiger by the toe. It was still Pandora. Even god wanted me to choose Pandora!
【Please choose either positive or negative as Pandora’s personality setting.】
What good was there in doing this? Optimistic and Pessimistic huh… Couldn’t go wrong with being cheerful right. Positive!
【The setting for your personal AI is complete. Now initializing.】
I waited for the phone screen to load, and a voice appeared along with words on the phone.
【Nice to meet you, Itsuki, I am Pandora. How may I assist you?】
［Nice to meet you… Pandora?］
The AI spoke very fluently. Since I wasn’t talking to a human girl, I didn’t mess up at all. I wasn’t tense at all!
【Yes, how do you do. Please address me in any way you prefer.】
The reply was immediate. Address her anyway I like huh? In that case…
I was permitted to address her with chan! How long had it been since I addressed a girl with chan…? Kindergarten?
［【I will always be on your side】 huh…］
She was just like the voice sample. How gentle. You are really gentle, Pandora-chan!
【Yes, I will always be on your side. My ideal and dream is to help those with hikikomori tendencies and trouble with communication. That is the impression the program developer had of me.】
Pandora, I wished you had kept that secret from me.
［… Something like how idols didn’t need to use the toilet?］
I changed my mindset.
［Can I ask questions?］
From our earlier conversation, I understand that Pandora’s capability was high, and idle chatter was possible.
［【There are no heroines in my youth】 is an app that can predict the future and help me to encounter heroines, correct?］
I think that should be so, but I hope someone could confirm that.
【Correct. This is a game that provide hints by predicting the encounter with the opposite sex. Since the catch phrase is 【A Heroine that only belongs to you】, Itsuki also realize that right…? But】
She was a bit hesitant.
【For Itsuki’s case, you have not confirmed a single heroine yet.】
I couldn’t ignore that, Pandora-chan!
［……A heroine appeared, right?］
Rika-sama! Even though it was just for a bit.
【You mean Heroine A, right?】
【But there is a 【?】 behind A right?】
【If the 【?】 is still there, she will not be a heroine. Please ensure you get at least one heroine in 5 days. You also took a loan, so the best would be to follow the progression of the game.】
Up until now, I didn’t realize that at all…
［Remove the 【?】…］
【Please work hard, Itsuki .】
I grabbed the Recycling Bag in my pocket tightly.
The first day ended without the heroine even appearing. Although I met Rika-sama on the second day afternoon for real, it was still really terrible! I couldn’t let the time after school end fruitlessly today just like yesterday…!
I opened the door to the rooftop.
With my phone in my right hand, and a folded white Recycling Bag in my left.
Huge droplets of rain blown by the wind hit my face painfully.
If I chose this option in the game, would my avatar make the jump successfully despite such conditions?
I lowered my body and asked my phone.
【Yes, is there any problem?】
Not too stiff or too encumbered by politeness, Pandora maintained a perfect balance as she replied with a mechanical tone. She was already given a personality, they might as well display her as a portrait on the phone. They really skimped on this detail.
I brought up the biggest problem.
［It’s raining, right?］
【Yes it is.】
The weather was deteriorating. And the rain was turning into hail.
I stood at the edge of the roof, one step away from falling. There wasn’t any fences here… I looked down. It was 10—— No, much taller. It was definitely 12 or 13 metres high… Really high. I was breaking out in cold sweats… Ugh. I-I will die from this height. The newspaper headline of a male student in the second year of high school jumping off a building in suicide appeared before my eyes.
The distance between the rooftops was about 3 metres.
It was possible to cover it with a long jump. But the mentality behind jumping with a running start on the field and on the rooftop was completely different. And under such horrible weather too.
【Alright, please prepare yourself and then jump.】
Ignoring my wavering, Pandora-chan said that to me.
［Listen Pandora-chan! Reality is not like the movies!］
I extended my left hand holding the recycling bag to point at the field and protested.
［Only a protagonist can survive after acting recklessly!］
【Itsuki is a protagonist too.】
［In the case of 【There are no heroines in my youth】 I am the protagonist—— Not! The truth is, I’m just a normal guy! There is a higher chance that I will fall!］
【Is that so? The chance of success is 70%, so it’s not really too far a stretch.】
［What? Just 70%?］
That definitely won’t do!
［Erm, Pandora? As an artificial intelligence, you should reject such a choice if the chances are less than 90%…］
【I am programmed with an optimistic personality. I won’t give an advice of caution unless the chance of success is below 30%.】
30% was too low, that pretty much guarantees failure…! But I see. The assistance program had either positive or negative outlooks, and I chose the optimistic version…
【You have a 70% chance, Itsuki.】
T-That’s right! It’s 70%, wasn’t it!? Yes, the odds were 70% in my favor! I should think of it that way. Because of her gentle encouragement, I also became optimistic.
［A-Alright! I’m gonna do it!］
【Before that, please pull the Recycling Bag in your left hand over your head.】
［Why must I wear… this thing?］
【I don’t really know either…】
I used my finger to poke two holes for my eyes, one hole for my mouth, and put on the white Recycling Bag. I tied the handle part of the bag around my neck. After backing off an adequate distance for a running start, I put my right leg forward, and took a ready to sprint stance.
After the preparations were done, time for the real thing.
［O-O-Okay! I’m going!］
【Alright, please do your best.】
But I remained in place. I repeated the same lines a number of time.
【Itsuki. This is the seventeenth time you said that.】
It wasn’t just a few, it was already the seventeenth time.
【—— Would you like to give up?】
This was definitely not an accusatory tone. It felt considerate, with a hint of sympathy.
［I-I won’t give up...］
After being told that so kindly, I felt that I had to continue no matter how stubborn I was. I placed my phone in my chest pocket. I only dragged for so long because I kept saying ［Go! Go!］ So I took a stance, and proceeded in silence.
In the end, it would be running start, jump and land!
I maintain my composure, started running, and immediately—— jumped!!
Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. It was an obviously failed jump. I slowed down in order to not run over the edge, but my jump was too weak! Even though I realized that, my body couldn’t stop. I flail my arms at the dark clouds. It was just a short distance, but the rooftop on the other building seemed so far away.
Immediately after that——
I can’t get a grip on it ahhh!
My hands had a death grip on the edge of the roof, and I somehow got my elbows over the edge too. However, my hand would slip on the concrete that had turned wet from the rain. I was slowly slipping off, and the hail rained down on me like stones. The plastic bag over my face made it a little difficult to breathe, and I was suffocating. If I fell off, I wouldn’t just die, and would be seen as a perverted high schooler wearing a Recycling Bag over his head! I wouldn’t rest in peace!
［Is anyone there! Help ahhhh!］
［Is anyone there!］
I prayed that someone was here and shouted.
My arms on the edge of the roof was slipping off. I had to rely on myself, damn it!
The worst case scenario flashed through my mind. It would probably be hard for this to be seen as an accident. Would it be treated as suicide? Since I fell off the building in such bad weather with a Recycling Bag over my head. The scene of the interview appeared in my head. Gon-chan whose eyes got covered by a censor bar would say: 【That guy… Is really frustrated about not having a girlfriend...】 or something. Kazuya whose eyes were censored the same way would say: 【Even I, the last member of the no-girlfriend league also got one recently… Maybe it’s because of that...】 or something!
Uwah, I don’t want to die like this.
［P-Pandora! Can you think of something!］
I sought help from the phone in my front pocket.
［Can’t you hear me?］
【I can hear you.】
It was muffled by the rain, but I definitely heard Pandora’s voice. Unlike me, she sounded very calm.
［Answer me! Answer!］
【Do you want to know the probability of you falling?】
［Who cares! Survive! Chance of surviving! Things about surviving!］
【Continuing conversation, please work hard for a while longer.】
［I can’t! I can’t! How long is a while longer?］
【… Just a while longer.】
［There is no way I can understand how long that is!］
Please, Pandora-chan! No, I’m really begging you. I’m putting the most effort in my life to hold on to the edge, my arms are starting to shake. I think I am at my limits...
［Grab on tight! Recycling Bag-san!］
Someone was heading my way. I opened my eyes in surprise, and saw a female student who was drenched grabbing my hand and pulling me up. My cry for help that took all my strength reached her, and I finally climbed up.
So it felt so awesome for my hands and feet to be on solid ground… I was jumping for the rooftop on the other building, and I was standing there right now. I tried to catch my breath with all my hands and feet on the ground, but during this time, the sound of footsteps were getting further away.
The footfalls stopped. There was something like a shed on this rooftop. The female student seemed to have walked behind the shed and was peeking at me, showing just a little bit of her face… I knew her. Was I mistaken? Because the air about her was…
When I approached, she shirked away.
…… Like a stray cat who realized I was looking her way, she would run away quickly when I drew near. That sort of feeling.
［I-I’m not scary, okay?］
I only realized when I said so that I was very suspicious. A Recycling Bag man or something. But she poked her head out again, and didn’t shirk away this time. Yes—— it was a face of a female student. I want to look closer, but I couldn’t see clearly, so I shook off the water on the Recycling Bag. The hail on my body had turned back to rain water. My vision cleared, and I wasn’t mistaken.
The corners of the female student’s eyes were a little red. Could it be, she was crying? But I couldn’t touch her… The female student asked:
［…Recycling Bag-san, are you hurt?］
［No! Not at all!］
When she saw me shake my hand firmly, the female student smiled.
Looking at her smile that was as sweet as honey, I began doubting my eyes. Did I get the wrong person? Twins? A Doppelganger?
［Erm, Recycling Bag-san. You will get drenched if you stand outside, if you don’t mind, please come here...］
The female student pointed to the shed.
Erecting a building on the rooftop was popular in this decade. Especially with the changes in the law, it was easier for Japan to build such buildings. And so, there was more buildings that would erect a luxurious penthouse. Even if they didn’t go that far, they would probably erect a shed for storage. However, I never paid attention to the roof of the school building, so I didn’t realize the existence of the shed.
［S-Sorry to intrude.］
I was then ushered in.
Eh, what was with this? The shed was about the size of 6 tatami. It look like a shed from the outside, but wasn’t so from the inside. It was a beautiful room. A lounge? Or the activity room of a club? There were chairs and a table. Only one was being used, the other was placed in a corner. The female student passed the chair in the corner to me, and I was sitting on it right now. Snacks and beverages were placed on the table. Next would be the bookshelf, it seemed to be for personal use? And the atmosphere in its entirety seemed very exquisite. Because the snacks on the table didn’t look like products found inside supermarkets. It was obviously a merchandize from high class outlets and retailers.
I borrowed a towel to dry my drenched clothes. But I still wore my Recycling Bag. When I make a move to take it off, the female student mumbled ［Are you taking it off?］ a little anxiously.
She sighed in relief when I shook my head weakly.
After the female student wiped her own uniform, she didn’t have anything pressing to do and sat back into her seat.
And then, silence. The silence continued. Something serious happened which broke this silence.
My stomach started rumbling.
It was great that I had a Recycling Bag over my face. She probably didn’t see me blush! If possible, I hope to fudge this through!
［Erm… Recycling Bag-san］
［Yes, I’m a recycling bag! Please don’t hold back, call me Regist!］
<TL: レジ袋 (Recycling Bag) ⇒ レジ (Reji) ⇒ Regist
Ahhhh. What the hell was I saying ahhhh!
The female student nodded forthrightly. She picked up the square box with cookies inside and offered them to me.
［I only have some Wonder Treasure from 【Marie Belle】... Do you mind? There are a variety of cookies.］
This was probably a high class delicacy from a famous brand. Was it fine to give them to me? While I was hesitating, she stared at me uneasily. The female student slouched her shoulders meekly.
［I will eat them! I will eat them gratefully!］
I answered casually. It was a bit hard to eat them because of the Recycling Bag, but when I bit into the cookie——
This was the handmade taste that satisfied my cheap tongue. I kept reaching for more, and had tasted one of each before I knew it. The silver tin had 10 types of cookies. Especially this one… it’s call a nougat or something, right? The one made from sugar. I was enamoured by the wonderful taste of almond and chocolate. So I reached for another.
［Ah, thank you］
I took the steaming cup of tea that was brought to me from the side. It was black tea. It warmed my body. I finally came to my senses after gorging myself with cookies and tea. My face turned green. What a gaffe, that was rude of me.
I placed the tea onto the table slowly, and pushed the box of cookies I pulled over to my side back to the female student. The diminishing amount of cookies could literally be seen clearly.
［Is that enough?］
The smiling female student who didn’t seem upset at all—— No matter how I looked at her, she was Rika-sama.
Inside my head that was nodding, the sense of dissonance made my head tilt.
Mochizuki Rika had a well-proportioned face looked that looked a little strict. Her long brown hair was wet right now, and gave an erotic feeling. Even when I got drench, I was just a wet pubic hair. On the other hand, Rika-sama’s drenched hair felt so erotic. That was how Rika-sama looked like. But her attitude and the way she spoke was completely different…!
［You are, Mochizuki…Rika-sa—-san, right?］
It was better not to address her as Rika-sama. Maybe talking to Rika-sama was so impactful that I didn’t stutter. Or maybe because my face was covered. Staying anonymous played an important part too.
［So you know about me.］
Rika-sama lowered her head. Her eyelashes were really long. Only a handful of students in Honami High School don’t know about Rika-sama. That was how famous she was.
［Well, I heard about your rumours often...］
［… Just for reference, what kind of rumours are they?］
The rumours says, she had several boyfriends as if that was natural. She even said something about the boys that got selected should feel honoured. She won’t even say ［I’m sorry］ to boys who confessed to her. Recently, Rika-sama preferred boys who were younger than her. If it was not someone she acknowledge, she would always give curt answers. She would ignore all plebeians.
Rika-sama lowered her head and covered her face with her palms.
［T-That’s not true…! I-I’m just extremely afraid of strangers!］
She stood up suddenly. But her actions remain refined.
［If it is someone like Regist-san, I will be able to converse normally!］
［Which means… As long as it’s not human?］
Ah, I got it wrong. She probably meant if she couldn’t see the other person’s face.
［Ehh! Regist-san isn’t human? That’s why…?］
And Rika-sama believed me like that? Was she that naive?
［I’m a human! Sorry! What I wanted to say was, you will be fine if you can’t see my face, right!?］
［Ah, that’s right. Because Regist-san is Regist-san, so I can speak with you without getting flustered.］
She seemed happy and smiled sweetly. With her serious face gone, Rika-sama looked so cute despite being the beautiful type. Her wet hair had a luster about them that seemed so erotic and cute! There was no way I could keep from getting mesmerized!
As expected of heroine A! Although there was a 【?】. I will definitely get rid of that 【?】!
It was a long journey getting to this stage, but it was worth it…
—— However, her defenceless smile was shown towards Regist-san. Only because she couldn’t see my face.
… Wearing a Recycling Bag and jumping from the rooftop. This option had its special meaning behind it. What about the other options? Thinking back, there was eating the horrible western set meal in the cafeteria… Inviting Tsugawa and Takeda to the library…Puppura… Even Puppura…?
［Please listen to me!］
And so, Rika-sama started speaking.
She seemed to be having a hard time in high school.
Rika-sama was afraid of strangers, and extremely so. Her family—— both parents and a brother three years her senior didn’t seem to trigger this, but even her relatives were a no go. Cousins were out of the question too. If possible, she wish to stay home forever. She was home schooled up until middle school.
But Rika-sama came from a wealthy family, the daughter of the Mochizuki capitalist family. For capitalists, they would need to attend parties and similar gatherings. It was a sort of obligation which Rika-sama had been avoiding with all sorts of reasons. But how much longer could she do so?
She couldn’t step into society this way. Thinking that it wasn’t good to spoil her, the one who proposed for Rika-sama to attend a normal high school was her brother who was studying in a University. He convinced the very reluctant Rika-sama to do so, and put her through serious training during spring break.
【Don’t tremble here! Maintain a determined attitude! You have a pretty face, so keep up the aura that could beat down any guy who approaches you!】
【Rika! Where are you looking! Look at the other party’s eyes when you speak!】
【I-I can’t! It’s scary!】
【Rika. Why are you shutting yourself in the toilet?】
【I-It’s because I feel tired in my own room when onii-sama is home… Onii-sama can’t bother me in the toilet, so I can calm down!】
And another day,
【Rika. What would you do if you met someone you know outside? For example, if you see my girlfriend——】
【Girlfriend? Is it Kiyoka-sama? Or Shiori-sama?】
【It doesn’t matter who… Assume it’s Lilla-chan then. You are not afraid of Lilla-chan, right? You happen to run into me and Lilla-chan, what will you do?】
【Okay! I will avoid meeting you before that of course. It doesn’t matter who it is, especially if it is onii-sama, I will hide without being noticed and sneak away—— Hmm? Onii-sama, why are you making such a bitter face!】
【Come. Over. And. Greet. Me.】
On another day.
【You installed the 【Smile】 app onto your phone, right? I installed it too, you didn’t delete yours right…? Am. I. Right…? Alright, straight to the point then. What will you do if you receive a message through 【Smile】?】
【I don’t want it to be marked as read immediately, so I will read it on the notification screen first. I will then consider carefully whether to mark it as read!】
【Haaaaaahhhh? You really are… And, why do you look so proud!】
On the last day of spring break. Onii-sama brought all his friends to the Mochizuki house. There were equal numbers of men and women. All of them were sociable. For the sake of matching Rika-sama.… But it didn’t work at all. Rika-sama was on the verge of tears the entire time. That night, Onii-sama was very gentle towards Rika-sama. Even though he was stern all this while, his smile was as warm as Buddha’s. By the way, onii-sama seemed to resemble Rika-sama a lot, like the male version of Rika-sama…so he was really handsome. I cursed at the unfairness of life in secret.
【Rika, it’s fine now. It is my fault for forcing you down the path of becoming a sociable lady, which is too difficult for you. To think that even I experienced my first ever defeat. I am really sorry.】
【I will teach you the ultimate tactics then. It is an undeniable fact that you will be going to high school tomorrow. So remember this three principles well and you will be fine.】
And here, the three principles of the Mochizuki onii-sama appeared.
One, don’t run away when someone chat you up. You can do that if you work hard. If you can’t look them in the eye, look somewhere else. Understand? If you can’t look at them, look up into the sky!
Two, keep your face stiff. If you relax, you will show a face on the verge of tears. Maintain your image of a cool beauty. After all, your face is the only thing that resembles mine.
Three, build the image of a girl of few words. If you really had to speak, do so in short sentences. You won’t be exposed that way, right? What kind of tone should you use? If you can muddle through it with a few words… then use a commanding tone. It’s decided.
Rika-sama followed these three principles faithfully. Actually, just putting it into action took all that she had. Her life in school everyday was a death battle. That was all she did, but why did such baseless rumours keep multiplying.
As a result of Rika-sama adhering to the three principles, she didn’t talk much to anyone, and was seen as aloft by others. She was actually suffering from destructive communication problems, but no one knew.
However, Rika-sama was a great beauty. Just her looks made her popular. But her communication problems resulted in her executing her three principles even when confessed to, becoming confused and unreactive. Some of the people who didn’t want others to know they were rejected so coldly, and those who hated her for being so cute spread rumours about her.
Which was to say, when a beauty rejects a confession, they need to be careful. I was the type who wanted to be rejected gently, like being wrapped by rice paper, and to be turned down firmly and cleanly. I know I didn’t have the rights to ask for all this, but the one being rejected don’t feel good either.
And so, the problems started accumulating like snow, and the vicious cycle resulted in the series of nefarious rumours about her.
And so, Rika-sama with the exterior of a queen and the heart of a young deer was formed.
［Could it be, your lunch break is…?］
［Lunch break, huh? It has been here since my second year? When… When I was in my first year, I tried hard… but...］
Her face was as gloomy as the dark clouds.
［Because a lot of things happened. I had enough of the people around me and stiffening my face.］
Rika-sama clenched the skirt on her knees tightly.
［I was at my limits and wanted to withdraw from high school… But after discussing with onii-sama…］
［I was lectured…］
Well, I wasn’t surprised despite only learning about his personality through secondhand accounts.
［Despite all that, onii-sama said it can’t be helped, and made use of the authority of the Mochizuki family to create a place where I could rest. And so, I am here in the form of a club activity, with the club room on the rooftop.］
The extent of onii-sama’s assistance was different from normal people after all.
［There just happened to be a room available. It seemed to be used actively three years ago as a club room, but it was converted into a storeroom. So it was refurbished and used as a club room again. Fortunately, the physics teacher Tanigaki was a friend of onii-sama, so we got his help.］
［I see. So this is the place.］
［Yes. I am the only member, and the application was submmitted under the name of 【One Person Club】!］
…… One Person, Club? That sounded lazy.
［And so, what are the club’s activity?］
［In the complicated and ever changing environment of this school, this club helps to maintain one’s peace of mind by spending time alone. It is healing to be here, I don’t need to look into the sky or force myself not to run away. I can eat my lunch leisurely too. The key to the rooftop and warehouse are held by me, so normally, no one can ever come here...］
But here I was.
The 【One Person Club】 was at the rooftop of the east building. If I tried the normal way, I would fail because the door was locked. That’s why I needed to jump here from the western building rooftop...
［… Pardon me for being blunt, Regist-san. Why are you wearing the Recycling Bag?］
That was understandable. Anyone would have such doubts.
［… It’s my hobby. I feel more at ease covering my face up.］
This wasn’t a complete lie. Because she didn’t know I was Tosa Itsuki, I could talk to a girl without worrying too much. And it was Rika-sama here, and I was speaking with her slowly without stuttering.
Rika-sama reacted at a strange part. She looked around calmly, and took a bag that looked high class based on its logo alone, and put it on.
［!It’s true, Regist-san! It feels really calming! If I can wear this at all times…］
She spread her slender arms to express her joy. Rika-sama……! Erm, there was a huge difference from the Recycling Bag I was using! Rika-sama’s bag didn’t have any holes for her eyes and mouth! It was natural for her to feel at ease since it was completely dark!
It would be dangerous for her to move around outside like this! What was she trying to do!
［No no no! I usually endure and don’t wear it either! And if your brother finds out, he will definitely blow his top!］
Rika-sama sighed and took off the bag.
［That’s true… He will definitely learn about it through Tanigaki-sensei… If onii-sama finds out… It will be terrible.］
She looked like she imagined it a little and shivered. My impression from what she told me was that Rika-sama’s brother was a scary person, and Tanigaki-sensei will even report to him… This was probably the reason why she couldn’t let her guard down in front of others. Her elder brother’s surveillance network…
［What do your brother thinks about the rumours?］
Wouldn’t he be angry about the such disparaging rumours against his sister?
［He told me to act just like an empress then. Just how does an empress acts?］
She asked with a serious expression. Her face right now matched really well with the word empress. As for its meaning… A leader that controls the school? Her brother was probably like that, but Rika-sama probably couldn’t pull it off. If the rumours evolved further, it might be possible to do so within the rumours.
Rika-sama removed a pair of scissors from a box on the shelf. She seemed familiar with the items placed within the room. She cut out holes deftly on the bag.
［I won’t wear it normally… But there’s only Regist-san here, so it won’t be a problem.］
Rika-sama put on the bag again.
［I’m the same as Regist-san now.］
Rika-sama seemed satisfied, but started shaking her head for some reason.
［I think Regist-san has a wonderful hobby… But why did you jump from the roof? If I wasn’t around...］
I could already tell that Rika-sama’s thoughts were heading down a dangerous direction, so I lift my hand to refute her.
［No! It wasn’t suicide!］
［Because I want to meet you!］
Meet my heroine !
［… Why would you want to do that?］
Because I want you to be my heroine of course —— to be my girlfriend…! But if I said that, it would be GG. The difficulty was too high for a first meeting… I might nod and accept with a goofy smile, but Rika-sama definitely wouldn’t. We finally got to know each other, what… what do I do next? This should be the moment for 【There are no heroines in my youth】 to shine, but I didn’t know the right answer since I took a different action from the game!
［I want to be friends...］
Friends. It felt weird to say this.
Rika-sama’s intense gaze made me really nervous, so my voice got softer towards the end.
［Or be acquintance or something…］
Aaaahhhh. This was the template for failure. This must be it.
［We won’t be friends, right?］
Being friends was impossible after all, Rika-sama. I understand!
［T-That’s only natural.］
Rika-sama seemed to be thinking about something, and asked as if she made up her mind.
［Tell me honestly, Regist-san. Did my parents asked you to do anything?］
I was stunned. Even with the Recycling Bag on my head, the fact that I was spacing out like a dummy was obvious to Rika-sama. Rika-sama’s parents…? Maybe I didn’t know, but I actually know them? Not at all.
［I wasn’t asked to do anything! Or rather, I have never met them before… Sorry.］
For someone of Rika-sama’s standing, maybe her parent’s permission was needed before she could make friends.
［—— Becoming acquintances, which means.］
Rika-sama took one step towards me. I smelled the same fragrance as this afternoon. Rika-sama was above 165cm (but below 170cm). She was taller than the 165cm I entered into the game.
… Speaking of which, if there was no bag! If there was no bag, I would be able to admire Rika-sama’s beauty from up close! I was a little excited, and Rika-sama gripped the hem of my shirt.
［Regist-san will wear a Recycling Bag whenever you meet me, right?］
Ehh… So it would become like this? Rika-sama was very bad with strangers, so she couldn’t talk with 【Tosa Itsuki 】. So I nodded.
［If I make any mistake, will you report to Tanigaki-sensei...］
［C-Can we eat lunch together?］
［I-If you don’t mind!］
Ahhh? Instead of acquaintances, wouldn’t we be closer to friends? Was that really fine?
［I won’t mind! Having a relaxed meal with someone other than onii-sama is already...］
She stopped her sentence midway. She probably recalled something? With her hand gripping the hem of my shirt, Rika-sama shook her head slowly. The bag made rustling sound. As if she had came to her senses, she returned to her original position, and removed her hand from my shirt.
She helped me smooth the crease on my shirt. I missed the chance to say anything, and even if I didn’t, we weren’t close enough for me to ask her about that. Before she saved me, Rika-sama was crying like this too, right…? Was it related to her fear of strangers…? I was concerned, but I couldn’t ask… After smoothing the crease, Rika-sama lift her head.
［—— If you don’t mind, can you come here tomorrow during lunch break? And dine… No, Regist-san must have plans already…］
［No problem at all!］
I would just be eating bread purchased from the snack shop anyway! Wednesday would be egg tuna sandwich set and bean paste bun!
［Well then, I will wait for you here.］
Rika-sama bowed gracefully.
［I’m inexperienced, but please take care of me from now on. I am Mochizuki Rika, Regist-san.］
［I should be the one saying that!］