Cari Blog Ini

Chapter 1 - Seeking the Mysterious Devil King, the

Part 1

This story took place before Kusanagi Godou had gone to Nikkou and confronted the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, just as the middle of September was drawing near.

That night, everyone at the Kusanagi house was having a family-only dinner. Three people were present: Godou and his little sister Shizuka, as well as their grandfather Ichirou. The mother of the siblings, Kusanagi Mayo, was not there.

Be that as it may, she was rarely at home anyway, so it was business as usual.

The blond devil from Italy wasn't around either. The silver-haired knight who unexpectedly caused so much trouble was not there either. It really was family only.

In this calm atmosphere, Godou put his chopsticks to work on the grilled mackerel.

"But I feel like I'm forgetting something..."

"You look strange, Onii-chan. What is it, do you want seconds?" Shizuka asked while getting herself another serving from the rice cooker.

"One more bowl, then. ... but I feel like I'm forgetting something event-like. It's irritating that I just can't remember." Godou said while holding out his rice bowl.

A large serving of rice was heaped onto his bowl before it was returned to him. As it happens, Shizuka had given herself the same amount.

Despite being of small build and petite stature, she was a hearty eater of a little sister.

Not getting fat no matter how much she ate. Not getting smashed no matter how much she drank.

These were the special features that the Kusanagis' mother possessed. Like mother, like daughter; you could sometimes catch glimpses of this in

Shizuka as well. If possible Godou didn't want her to inherit her mother's

mental peculiarities like [Femme Fatale] or [Vocation: Queen], but...

"You must be forgetting about Sakura-chan, right?"

"It's been about half a year since she entered college. She had to promise that she wouldn't visit us here for at least half a year, remember?"

"...ahh, right, there was that..."

Koudzuki Sakura was the Kusanagi siblings' second cousin.

Because of the upheaval accompanying the shift from the Meiji era[1] to the Showa era[2], their grandfather was the only direct descendant of the Kusanagi (although there were tales of others in Brazil and the New Guinean archipelago).

But there were a decent number of people left from the branch families.

Plus, the connections that the Kusanagis maintained with their relatives in the countryside were strong. They'd been close to Sakura for a long time, even though she was only distantly related.

"Sakura-chan, huh... she should've visited us more since she finally moved to the city. I wonder why Uncle Koudzuki forbade her to visit for half a year..."

"If he hadn't, she'd have started freeloading here before the end of her third day in the capital," their grandfather responded while sipping his tea.

He might be right; Godou remembered his cousin's personality.

She did her best but at heart, she was shy and often lonely. When troubled, she often clung in tears to those she was close to. Godou and Shizuka had often been the ones taking care of her. Considering their respective ages, their roles should obviously have been reversed.

At this point, the doorbell rang. Shizuka got up, calling out "I'm coming!", and headed for the front door.

"Sakura-chan! It's been ages! Come in, come in. What happened? You look so down..."

"Y-yeah. You see, Shizuka-chan, there's something I'd like some advice on..."

Hearing the voices from the entryway, Godou glanced at the oldest person in the room.

"Didn't I tell you back in the spring? As soon as her six months were up in September, she'd come here right away. Talk about spot-on."

He was the very image of an earnestly muttering old man who'd seen everything in life.

"You see, there's something I'd really like to ask of Godoh-kun." Sakura said as she entered the living room.

Lined up on the table were grilled mackerel and sudachi[3], grated radish, a salad of bitter melon and tomatoes, miso soup made with nameko mushrooms, and other dishes, but since they had all known each other for so long, nobody minded when she intruded on dinner.

She'd recently turned nineteen and become a freshman at a famous metropolitan college.

But because of her cute, yet childish face, it wasn't unusual for people to mistake her for a middle school girl.

"Can't I help you out, Sakura-chan?"

"W-well, I think it'd be better if I asked a man about this..."

Sakura dispiritedly answered Shizuka's question.

At times like these her face resembled a frightened little puppy's.

"If it's something I can help you with, just ask me any time... are you sure you don't want grandpa to help you?"

He didn't know what this was all about, but besides manual labor, he had no confidence in being more capable than his grandfather.

Kusanagi Ichirou was famous for his extensive knowledge and was a master of dealing with people. He would often be consulted for his sage advice. People even called him "Sensei"[4] or "Master."
That wise grandfather smiled gently at Sakura.

"Sakura-chan, who do you want to help you out?"

"Uhm, if you can help me I don't really mind who it is, but if I had to pick someone, then I'd really prefer, that is..."

Sakura was truly cute as she peered at Godou with upturned eyes.

If she learned to make use of that look, she could probably become a femme fatale.

"So it's decided. Onii-chan will listen to Sakura-chan's worries and I'll take care of everything else," Shizuka said without a moment's delay. The

younger sister who played the role of an older one had always been soft on Sakura.

Shizuka was pretty critical towards the band of girls thronging around Godou, but was rather tame during her interactions with Mariya Yuri. That sense of vulnerability given off by a sheltered classy young lady probably stimulated Shizuka's desire to protect her.

"Alright, just talk it over in Godou's room. I'll bring you some tea later," their grandfather casually added.

Godou noticed that he totally dodged the issue.

Their grandfather was often asked for advice, but he wasn't someone who'd start meddling on his own.

He conversed with people in an aloof and indifferent way. Incidentally, in his bachelor days, Kusanagi Ichirou had been popular as hell with the ladies, but he had mostly kept it away from home.

His male friends, on the other hand, made themselves comfortable in his room without his permission.

By allowing Erica or Liliana to come and go as they pleased, his grandson was completely different.

Well, whatever. Godou shrugged.

He was glad to help his cousin with her problems. Plus, he was obviously a lot closer in age to Sakura.

"Got it. I don't think there's much I can do but I'll try anyway."

"It's been so long since I've been in your room, Godoh-kun, but it hasn't really changed."

"The last time was half a year ago, right? I didn't rearrange anything so that's to be expected."

Godou and Sakura faced each other across his six tatami sized room[5].

Godou's room was fairly empty. There was a bookshelf and a chest of drawers, a fold-up table instead of a writing desk, and also a DVD player and a TV.

He didn't put much emphasis on material possessions.

In his free time he went fishing or played outdoor sports. He also would do some part-time jobs from time to time. He didn't have much use for games. At most, he'd socialize by playing a round of Shougi or Go. He'd rather rent than buy DVDs and CDs.

He'd read some books every now and then, but he didn't keep a collection of his own.

The Kusanagi house used to be an antiquarian bookstore and much of the inventory had never been disposed of. So whenever he felt like reading something, there were more than enough books lying around to satisfy his needs.

"So, Sakura-san, what's the matter?"

"U-uhm, you see, that is, I think you could stop with that now."

"With what?"

"I-I mean, calling me 'Sakura-san'. You can just call me 'Sakura'. Or 'dear', if you like."

Long ago he had called her 'Onee-chan', but at some point that had changed.

Godou couldn't remember when that transition had occurred, and casually replied: "It's fine like this, changing it is a pain... but that's not what you wanted to ask of me, right?"

"I-it wasn't! I just happened to think of that!"

Sakura responded while turning completely red. But then she seemed to come to a standstill. Uhm, well... she kept mumbling to herself, and couldn't get to the point. She had never been very articulate.

It couldn't be helped. Godou changed the topic, trying to help her relax with some small talk.

"How is life in Tokyo treating you? Have you gotten used to it yet?"

"...only a little bit. I'm quite uncomfortable in crowded places..."

Sakura sounded dejected.

The Koudzuki family's home was in Miyagi[6]. When Sakura said she wanted to go to a college in Tokyo, her father had made her obey a single rule. He had forbidden her to rely on her relatives for half a year.

Sakura had been horrified. She had planned on freeloading at the Kusanagi's.

"Well you see, I understand father's order that I should try to live properly without relying on anyone, I'm finally living on my own after all... but being all on my own in such a large city made me feel really forlorn..."

"Ahh... well, if you ever get lonely, just come and visit."

Godou felt awkward because he knew the real reason Sakura's father had laid down the law.

In the beginning of spring, he'd spoken with Uncle Koudzuki over the phone:

'In short, I'm making her a gold-digger.'

Upon hearing this unexpected expression, Godou had asked for clarification.

'As I said, a gold-digger. A young girl lives alone in the big city for the first time... to fill the gaps in her heart as quickly as possible, a man is best, right? Our Sakura has a nice face and personality, but she's too much of a late-bloomer. It's about time for her to get used to men and get ready for marriage.'

'Aren't fathers usually against their daughters finding lovers?'

'Well, yeah, but this is a father's love, too. Sakura's not like your mother. She can't make a lot of money on her own. But a girl can always go after her husband's income. I want her to be happy, you know.'

'Uhm, I don't think happiness is decided by money alone...'

'Sure, but that's the most important factor, y'know.'

This irresponsible uncle of Godou's was actually a tough police officer.

On the side, he served as a distinguished judo practitioner in northern Japan and was an active role model for the younger generation.

Given all this, most people wouldn't guess what a renegade he actually was. It might not be Godou's place to say this as the main family's successor, but his uncle had obviously inherited the Kusanagi blood.

'What are you going to do if some lowlife tricks her?'

'Then we'll make it like it never happened... your mother and grandpa and everyone else.'

When Godou had asked whether he was joking, just to be on the safe side, all he received was a villainous laugh.

He passed on letting Sakura in on her father's plans. She handled such matters poorly, and would definitely spill the beans even if he told her to keep it a secret. His allowance might be frozen as a penalty, so the risk was too high.

"Did you make friends? Or maybe find a boyfriend?" Godou asked tentatively. Sakura instantly flushed red.

"I-I don't have a boyfriend, really! But I made a friend... ah, it's a girl of course, Godoh-kun. Don't misunderstand!"

"I've got it, really. So you made a friend? Good girl."

He unintentionally spoke as if praising a little kid.

In response, Sakura laughed happily. Her childishness was definitely unbefitting given her age.

"So you see, my new friend taught me a lot, so I got a bit more knowledgeable."

"Heh, what did you learn about?"

His older cousin was delighted. Her expression was terribly adorable.

She was so cute that Godou was at a loss for words after hearing her answer.

"Ahhh, that's actually related to what I wanted some advice on...

Godoh-kun, if I said I learned to do magic, would you believe me?"

Crap. Godou felt great regret.

It is said that the lonely are easy prey for cults or occult sects. He should

have remembered that. It had been wrong to leave her isolated...

"Don't be stupid, Sakura-san. Let's calm down and be realistic."

For the time being, Godou kept his appeal calm and sincere.

"There are things people can do and things they can't. And without a doubt, magic falls in the latter category. Dropping a lump of fire from the skies, recovering from deadly wounds in half a day or calling forth huge monsters, that's just not something a human can do!" Godou declared while having his heart thrown into disarray by countless memories of having done just that.

Yep, he wasn't saying anything wrong. However, Sakura pinched her lips like a child.

"It is possible! I really learned how to use magic!"

"Well, even if you say so... if I don't see it with my own eyes I can't believe you."

"Sheesh, Godoh-kun you blockhead! Fine, right now I can't do anything because I don't have my tools, so come visit me tomorrow. I'll show you that I can do magic!"

Godou was startled. Could she actually use magic?

Godou ruthlessly crushed his anxiety that the Kusanagi family, which should have no connection to magic or gods, had suddenly awoken to the occult.

Part 2

After school the next day, Godou headed to Nishinippori.

The apartment building where his cousin lived was a ten minute walk from the subway station.

It was a nice three-story building with an auto-lock system. It had probably been built within the last decade.

As soon as he arrived, he got a call from Liliana.

"Yes, hello?"

'I am sorry this is so sudden. After school you were gone suddenly so I was a little worried. Just so you don't misunderstand, I definitely didn't want to hear your voice or see your face before you went home. I had no such ulterior motives!'

Liliana's tone was somewhat awkward.

This was Liliana, after all, so maybe she had wanted to accompany Godou as his bodyguard.

"Sorry for leaving without a word. I'd promised to meet an acquaintance."

'An acquaintance... it cannot be a woman, can it?'

"Well, it is, but there's nothing going on between us, okay?"

The silver-haired knight from Milan firmly believed Kusanagi Godou was a womanizer without equal.

As a result, she answered in a stern voice:

'If you say so, I will believe you. However please be careful. You must pay meticulous attention so that your womanizing won't lead to future...'

"I said that's not it. I'm hanging up."

Ending the call, Godou entered the apartment building.

"Ahh, welcome~. I'll prepare some sweets and tea right away, okay?"

"It's fine, don't bother. It's not like I'm royalty or anything."

Sakura's apartment, number 201, was in a corner of the building.

The interior of the studio apartment was attentively cleaned and neatly put in order.

"So, Godoh-kun. About yesterday..."

Sakura was unusually agitated.

A few suspicious-looking items were placed on the round table in the very middle of the room.

A thick, leather-bound Western book. A staff about thirty centimeters long. A crystal sphere that looked like a mail-order special. Tarot cards... all of the items looked cheap and fake.

But with his sixth sense as a campione Godou picked up minuscule amounts of magical power.

Although incredibly weak, those items were the real deal.

"I'm going to use magic now, so look closely. Uhm..."

Sakura started flipping through the book. The sentences were written in some kind of alphabet, but not in English. It wasn't Italian or any other Latinate language, either.

"What language is that?"

"If I remember correctly, it's High German from the Middle Ages... I think?"

"And you can read that!?"

Godou was surprised. He hadn't realized that his cousin's foreign language skills were so advanced.

"No, I can't read it. But my friend translated most of the text..."

"You mean the friend from your college?"

"Yep. We are in the same class and we sat next to each other on our first day."

Sakura was enrolled in the Faculty of Humanities at the renowned Akinomizu Women's College.

So there were magi like Erica and Liliana attending that school for ladies? Or was it one of the dozens of Japanese hime-miko?

"There it is. I'm starting, so pay attention, okay?"

After finding the right page, Sakura put a matchstick on the table.

And while looking at the opened book, without reciting an incantation she just said:

"God of magic, please make my wish come true. Thank you"

She even clapped her hands.

"W-wait a moment, Sakura-san, what are you doing!"

"What? It's magic! Uhm, what's really important isn't the incantation or whatever, but the spirit you put into it, and clearly understanding what kind of magic you want to use."

So one doesn't need to worry about form. Ahem.

While looking at the proud Sakura, Godou remembered. When Erica and the others used magic, their incantations (the girls called them mantra or spell words) were quite suitable.

That being said, would this really work? Just as Godou started getting anxious, it happened.

Crack. With a dry sound, the matchstick broke.

"See! Did you see that, Godoh-kun? The magic worked, isn't that amazing!"

" this perhaps a spell to break matchsticks without using your hands?

"It's not just matchsticks. I can also use it on toothpicks and small pieces of bamboo!"

It seemed like Sakura's specialty so Godou kept his reply very moderate. Which would be more practical anyway, a supernatural power like spoon bending or Sakura's magic...?

Anyway, Sakura had just displayed a hidden talent that looked like magic.

When she disappeared into the kitchen, saying she'd make some tea, Godou picked up the Western book. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, after all, and so he mentally ordered the remaining matchsticks to break.

However, nothing happened at first. Right after he inclined his head,

wondering if he had failed...

CRACKCRACK. There was a loud noise. Outside the window, a tree toppled by the roadside. One side of Sakura's room faced the street and from the window Godou could see that one of the trees had broken off by its roots.

Godou looked over at Sakura in the kitchen. She was peacefully preparing the tea.

She hadn't noticed anything, so he nonchalantly placed the grimoire back on the table as if nothing had happened.

"That was that, Godoh-kun. Now that you believe me about magic, there's something I want to ask of you."

Sakura came back carrying two teacups on a tablet.

"Right, that's what this was about."

Trying to break matchsticks and destroying nature instead... The strength of his magical power coupled with his lack of sensitivity was a cursed combination. Godou reaffirmed that it was best for him not to learn magic.

"I only learned about it recently, but... apparently there's a fearsome great devil king in Tokyo."

"A great devil king?"

Somehow, that phrase seemed familiar to Godou.

Pushing his anxiety aside, Godou sipped his tea. Calm down. Sakura couldn't possibly know about campione. As the person in question, Godou was certain.

"Remember all those scary incidents that happened since the spring: a highway here in Tokyo collapsed and the Tokyo Tower caught fire, among other things... all of these were the fault of that great devil king!"

What was it about those incidents that gave Godou a familiar feeling?

Calm down. Right now I need to be composed. I must possess an unmovable, frozen heart.

"Godoh-kun, search for that great devil king with me! I want to ask him to stop doing these horrible things! Will you help me?"

Godou's attempt to play it cool ended in utter failure.

About halfway through his tea, he started choking. Search for the fearsome great devil king?

One of the seven devil kings himself? Could the world please stop fucking around with him!?

Afterwards, they took the subway to Omotesandou. It was about six in the evening.

The autumn sun bathed the stylish scenery of the Aoyama Doori[7] in orange.

"So, Sakura, why do you want to meet that, what was it, fearsome great devil king?" Godou asked as he walked next to his cousin.

Apparently there was a [Magic Shop] in Omotesandou that she and her friend frequented. The shopkeeper was very knowledgable, so they were on the way there to ask her for help.

"Ehm, that great devil king person seems to be reeeeally perverted and constantly lusts after girls."

"NO WAY! Don't believe all those strange rumors!"

Godou accidentally shouted. Sakura shrieked in surprise with a fearful look on her face.

"W-what is it, Godoh-kun? Why are you shouting so scarily?"

"Ah, sorry. I thought you were talking about me, so I just reacted instinctively..."

"Hehehe, you'd never be so perverted, Godoh-kun, you're too earnest for that. I understand~."

Sakura smiled gently in spite of his lame excuse. She trusted those she was close to implicitly. Doubt was unthinkable.

"Y-yeah, right, sorry for saying something so odd."

Godou was assailed by pangs of guilt from deceiving his pure-hearted cousin.

"So you see, my close friend, she is from an ooooold family of magic practicioners that long ago served His Majesty the Emperor"

Godou thought he had recently heard of another family just like that...

He remembered the background of Seishuuin Ena, who he had gotten to know a little while ago.

"Apparently there are other families with the same duty. And a little while ago, the great devil king fell at first sight for a girl from one of those families and made her his lover. He even forced her against her will!"

"Don't spout nonsense! She did that on her own!"

He shouted without thinking once again.

Godou apologized to Sakura, who was close to tears.

"Again, sorry. I just suddenly felt the urge to shout. Ignore it."

"O-okay. So you see, my friend is worried. He might also force her to become his lover. That's why I want to tell him to stop doing horrible things. If I plead with all my might, I'm sure he'll listen, won't he?"

Godou thought about how some of his acquaintances might respond.

Dejanstahl Voban would ignore her without blinking.

That idiot Salvatore Doni probably wouldn't even understand what Sakura wanted from him.

However, Kusanagi Godou was proud of his common sense. You could say Sakura's goal had already been achieved. So he wanted to quickly return home, but...

Ignorant of his wishes, his cousin entered a small alley.

"See, here we are. Is anybody in?"

The shop seemed to be a remodeled single-family house. Sakura opened its door and announced herself.

The shop seemed to overflow with handmade goods-various miscellaneous imported articles. [Kogetsudou] was written in small letters on the doorplate.

Godou followed Sakura into the store. The interior was a mess.

Various goods with Chinese, Southeast Asian, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Polynesian labels were lined up next next to each other. Accessories, chinaware, clothes, furniture, different precious metals, fabric, folk crafts and so forth were all mixed together.

Some of them held feeble magical power.

They seemed unexpectedly cheap for real magic items. From lows of a hundred yen through a thousand yen, the price tags went up to twenty or thirty thousand yen. Even more expensive articles could be found in the showcases and behind the register.

Godou noticed a woman who looked like the shopkeeper. She was quite young. For some reason she was wearing traditional Japanese clothing and glasses.

"Oh my, dear customer, welcome~. How can I help you today?"

The shopkeeper talked to Sakura like she would to a regular customer.

"Ah, I'm not here to buy anything today. I had something to ask you."

"I see, how unfortunate. But, because of the business we've done recently, I can share some gossip with you for just a smile. Call it customer service."

So this woman really was knowledgeable.

Erica and Liliana or Hime-miko like Yuri and Ena were surrounded by an atmosphere that only the elite, those on the cutting edge of their field, possessed.

But the shopkeeper of this general store did not.

Instead she was more like a grass waving in the wind, gentle because she was not part of the elite.

"T-today I wanted to ask about the great devil king who is said to be here in Tokyo."

"Great devil king, you say? Ahh, you mean the Campione~"

"The campi-what?"

"Campione. It's Italian. In English it means champion. Because the first person to write about them was Italian, they've been called campione ever since."

Godou nodded in silent agreement.

"Well, if that's all you want to know, I guess I can tell you for free as customer service. There are only seven of those people in the entire world. First of all, in America there is John Pluto Smith. He is a masked hero fighting against evil secret societies. He even transforms!"

"Masked!? Transforms!?"

"In nearby China, there is Cult Leader Luo Hao, the Ruler of the Martial Realm. Somewhere in Arabia or Egypt is the Queen of the Cave, the Eternal Beauty Mrs. Aisha. In Eastern Europe there is the master of storms, Marquis Voban. England has their Prince of Black Lightning, Black Prince Alec. And Lord Salvatore reigns in Italy, he who slices through all existence."

That made for a total of six people. At this rate, she would start talking about the seventh person.

Unaware of Godou's concerns, the shopkeeper kept going.

"And in our own country is the last one. ...until lately he was shrouded in mystery, but various bits of information about him have finally appeared."

"If I'm not mistaken, he's a totally perverted person, isn't he?"

"It certainly seems so. Apparently he hasn't laid his hands on just black and brown-haired Japanese girls, but also on blond and silver-haired beauties. He's a huge lecher."

"Even foreign girls?"

"Furthermore, he seems unexpectedly young. There's a rumor that he's not yet twenty..."

"Doesn't that make him a minor? Uhh, I didn't think someone so young could be so horrible..."

The two women were getting excited. Damn them for spouting whatever they felt like.

While scowling, Godou observed the latest development. If this

shopkeeper happened to know his name...

"Could you possibly tell me the name of that perverted Devil King? I have to meet him and ask him for a favor..."

"His name... lately his personal information has been fiercely protected..."

Ge. The shopkeeper's reply unsettled Godou.

Didn't it sound like she knew his name, but couldn't carelessly disclose it?

"His name is not well known, you see... a certain organization is restricting that information. But they have made an exception for me..."

"If you know, please tell me. I'm begging you."

Sakura bowed her head in front of the smug shopkeeper.

Damn. The shopkeeper was secretly enjoying this. He had to seal her lips somehow! Godou thought of a certain object. Since he met with Sakura right after school, he was still in his uniform. He also still had his bag.

And luckily, inside the bag, he carried that...

He took out his student ID card and walked behind Sakura. He brandished his ID card behind her back so that only the shopkeeper could see his name and photo.

She shut up at once. She had a look on her face as if she'd just run into a brown bear.

Godou put his index finger to his mouth, indicating 'Please keep this confidential'. When he did so, the other person nodded vigorously.

"U-uhm... did something happen?"

"No, it's nothing at all. Also, I'm very sorry but the name of the Campione here in Tokyo... I'm sorry but I don't actually know it. I am really sorry but please don't ask about it anymore."

The shopkeeper babbled at the worried Sakura.

He had not intended to threaten her... Godou felt deeply apologetic.

"Ehhh. Didn't you say just now that you knew his name?"

Sakura was insistent, as if she were unwilling to consent to this sudden shift.

Just then, another customer entered the store.

Godou was surprised. He recognized that face. It was a man in his late twenties, wearing a worn-out business suit.

His name was Amakasu Touma. He was an enigmatic agent of the History Compilation Committee.

"Oh, did I interrupt? now, what do we have here."

While calling out to the shopkeeper, Amakasu looked at Godou and smiled. However he did not speak to him. He probably wanted to avoid careless remarks until he understood the situation.

"Ah! Amakasu-san, you came at just the right moment."

The face of the shopkeeper showed relief.

"Dear customer, you should ask this person about your problem. Amakasu-san here is a specialist on that topic. He is way more informed than I am!"

"Eh, is that true? Amazing!"

"And what might 'that topic' be, now?"

The shopkeeper was suddenly wildly gesticulating, Sakura was infected with excitement, Amakasu couldn't keep up but played it cool. And Godou sighed.

Part 3

"So, the young lady here wants to talk with the great devil king... am I getting that right?"

Godou, Sakura and Amakasu had relocated to a nearby coffee shop.

They had nabbed some window seats and Sakura had just finished telling her story.

Amakasu's pitying stare expressed 'You've also got it tough, don't you, Kusanagi-san.' Sakura had introduced him as a 'relative and escort.'

"Yes. My friend is worried that that person might take her by force. Lately she's been really anxious..."

"You said you are enrolled at Akinomizu? So it's about the young lady of the Renjou's..."

With nothing more than Sakura's self-introduction and a few brief comments, Amakasu had identified the leak.

He was probably spot on. Sakura's eyes turned round.

Still, a civilian learning the name of a Campione... wasn't the History Compilation Committee's information blackout surprisingly poor?

Godou stared at the agent with biting sarcasm, but it only earned him a complacent smile.

"Well, I understand her concern. That great devil king is a rare womanizer and playboy. Putting it bluntly, you can even call him an enemy of womankind..."

Amakasu was smiling broadly. His joy was obvious for all to see.

"Well, I wonder about those rumors... I'm sure that person must be troubled by the half-truths everybody spreads about him."

Godou tried to defend himself. At this point, Amakasu's face turned evil.

"Oh, so you know him in person?"

"Ah, I haven't met him, but that's my gut reaction. I'm familiar with that kind of situation. He probably just wants to live in peace, yet people call him lustful and generally bother him. You should stop with this gossip."

"Did something happen, Godoh-kun? You've been acting strange for a while now...?"

When Godou suddenly started speaking so insistently, Sakura stared worriedly at him.

Godou boldly ignored her stare.

"Sakura, you should also stop this. Amakasu-san here will certainly inform him of your concerns. You don't have to act like a detective and-"

"I will inform him? I feel very uneasy about that..."

Amakasu said he felt uneasy, but he sounded totally carefree.

"Please do something. You're the only one we can rely on."

"I'm far from brave enough to admonish a great devil king. And there's so much other work that's piled up..."

"You just need to meet him and talk a little. That'll be enough to make him understand."

"Wouldn't that be impossible? He's a ladies man like no other, I tell you - he'd never listen."

"That's a baseless rumor. Don't pay it any heed."

"Hahaha, going by the rumors and his reputation, the man himself is unaware of the truth."

Godou's request was simply rejected.

Dammit. Godou had underestimated Amakasu's fondness for playing around. While smacking his lips, Godou steeled himself to give even more ground.

"By the way, do you know that person over there? She's been staring at us."

Upon hearing Amakasu's comment, Godou turned his eyes toward the corner of the room.

As he and Sakura looked in that direction, Godou was surprised. There sat a European girl with her glowing silver mane bound in a ponytail.

The bizarre sunglasses and mask she was wearing might have been an attempt at disguise.

"...What are you doing, Liliana?"

When he called out to her, the silver-haired knight twitched in surprise.

"Y-you must be mistaking me for someone else. I d-do not know you at all."

She tried to turn away. Godou stopped probing and wordlessly pulled off her mask.

"If you have any excuses, say them now."

"Excusing myself is unthinkable. Th-That is right, I was just thinking you might be in danger on your own. I am here to protect you. I definitely had no wretched feelings like wanting to see the face of the woman you ran off to see. Please don't misunderstand!"

Liliana took off her sunglasses while mumbling to herself.

She was obviously flustered. Well, whatever. Godou scratched his head. She always acted like that.

"Got it. Anyway, come over here for now."

The tables could accommodate four people, so there was an empty seat for Liliana. Now that Godou had noticed her, he couldn't leave her on her own.

"Is it alright?"

"Of course. Well, as long as you want to."

"O-of course I have no objection."

She was so energetic that if she were a puppy, she'd be enthusiastically wagging her tail. Liliana stood up. Her face was still overly serious, but it looked awfully happy.

When she came to Godou's table, she asked.

"But still, why would you be here, Amakasu Touma?"

"By coincidence, completely by coincidence."

While scowling at Amakasu's reply, the silver-haired knight sat down.

Godou regretted that he hadn't told her beforehand. He believed she

wouldn't be careless because of Sakura, but...

"Are you acquainted with this person from abroad? And is she also acquainted with Godoh-kun?"

"Ahh, who would believe the coincidence, my friend was one of Kusanagi-san's acquaintances, too."

"Really? That's quite a surprise."

Amakasu's reply was inconsistent with Liliana's earlier statement.

However, Sakura didn't notice the contradiction. In spite of this ridiculous bargain sale of [coincidence], she was nodding. Her purity was dazzling.

"So what is her relation with Godoh-kun? I-is she his girlfriend?"

"Liliana my girlfriend? Why would you think so? We're just friends."

Sakura's question made Godou smile bitterly. "Right?", he said as he turned to Liliana.

Unlike her rival Erica, she wouldn't try to make the situation any worse.

"That is so. I am Liliana Kranjcar. I live my life with Kusanagi Godou, his knight so to speak. If you will, think of me as his lifelong companion."

Liliana's self-introduction was stern.

...the person in question probably didn't intend to, but her choice of words was ripe with potential for misunderstanding.

Should he respond by saying 'She's bad at Japanese. Sometimes she says weird stuff. Just ignore it.'? Unfortunately, her pronunciation was flawless and that excuse was holier than Swiss cheese, too, but...

"AAHH, I see. So you're super-close friends with Godoh-kun?"

Sakura was smiling gently.

"If you're friends for life, that's how it is, right. It's nice meeting you... but I'm relieved that you're not his girlfriend. Yepyep, Godoh-kun couldn't have a girlfriend, right?"

Her smiling face was pure, free of the slightest hint of malice.

Godou was thankful for his cousin's extreme purity and trust. It got her into all kinds of trouble, but her radiant heart was a wonderful virtue.

Maybe she was overpowered by that angelic smile, but for once Liliana could only reply "Haaa".

"...Kusanagi Godou, what is your relation with this woman? Is she another lover, or maybe a secret wife?"

"Using 'another' here is strange. Why didn't you ask about 'friends' or 'family'? Sakura is my second cousin and more like an older sister."

Godou's answer to the stealthy Liliana was bitter.

"Oh no, Godoh-kun, didn't you say I wasn't your sister long ago?"

"Eh, what are you talking about?"

When Sakura cut in, Godou inclined his head.

"Remember when you were in elementary school? You suddenly stopped calling me 'Oneechan'. When I asked why, you said you'd marry me once we'd grown up so I couldn't be your sister. Don't you remember?"

"...oh, right, now that you mention it..."

Godou considered that memory from his early childhood to be a youthful indiscretion.

He felt like they really had had such a conversation long ago. Godou had stopped calling Sakura 'Oneechan' ever since. Thinking back on it, that episode gave him a nostalgic feeling of 'we sure were young'. Though, he was still pretty young...

"So you see, like I told you yesterday, Godoh-kun, don't you feel like calling me just 'Sakura' now? I think it's about time for us to start doing that."

"But there's no reason to, is there? I said changing it is a pain, it's fine like this."

"Sheesh, Godoh-kun. You're always like that."

He suddenly noticed Amakasu and Liliana staring at them in wonder.

"I see. Most intriguing."

"So genius does display itself even in childhood... so that's how it was..."

Both of them were nodding in agreement.

Just as Godou was about to ask what they meant, Amakasu's cellphone rang.

"Looks like a message from my boss. I must get back to work soon," the agent from the History Compilation Committee said.

"It is unfortunate, but I will have to excuse myself here. Could I have a word before that, Miss?"

Amakasu addressed Sakura as he stood up.

"About our earlier conversation... I'm afraid I cannot grant your wish to meet with the Great Devil King, the Campione. Please forgive me."

"B-but I have to see-"

"Right now your level as a magic user is too low. You see, in every single RPG, you cannot encounter the great devil king at level two. At a minimum, you'd have to be level twenty or thirty."

Amakasu put her off with a bogus argument.

However, Sakura quickly nodded with an enlightened expression.

Should he praise her for understanding this level of gaming slang or be afraid for her for being tricked by such shoddy reasoning? Weighing one side against the other, Godou became uneasy.

Given the path the conversation was taking, Godou knew what Sakura would say next.

"Th-then, how do I become a powerful enough magic-user to meet the great devil king?"

As expected. His prediction had already come true. Amakasu grinned broadly.

It was the smile of a tolerant elder. And completely fake.

The aura he was giving off was like that of a fortune teller palming off the jar of bliss or a salesperson quickly calculating the interest rate for a loan for an expensive lithograph.

"Please relax. Through fortuitous [coincidence], a splendid coach has already appeared. Liliana-san here is one of the most outstanding witches I know. With her assistance you will definitely achieve a dramatic level-up. Good luck!"

...He passed the buck. Just like the buck had been passed to him earlier.

Unable to grasp the situation, Liliana pointed at herself, "Eh, me?" Sakura looked at her with adoration, "Wahhh, you're amazing!".

During that gap in the conversation, Amakasu put his coffee cup on the table.

In the next moment, the business suit-clad agent was by the exit. Like instant movement.

After displaying that mysterious feat, he saluted.

Liliana and Godou were left behind to calm Sakura, who was eagerly begging to be taught magic.

That night at the Kusanagi house. Godou was in his room when his cellphone rang.

The display showed an unknown number. Godou still pressed the button with conviction.

'Yo, Thanks for today. How did it turn out in the end?'

It really was Amakasu's voice. Godou answered while nodding.

"We somehow settled it but..."

Godou had repeatedly told the overexcited Sakura to calm down.

He'd told her that he'd do something about the situation so she should go home for now. That had ended matters for the time being. Still, the problem had only been postponed, not resolved.

'So isn't it settled? Tricking her with tons of lies must've been a piece of cake. Ah, I already instructed her friend. There's no chance of her giving away your name. Please relax.'


'Yes. While devious, I allowed myself to use a quiet yet effective method.'

That left many possibilities. Should he probe deeper?

Godou was troubled, but Amakasu continued lightheartedly.

'But how about just coming out with who you are, honestly telling everyone that you're that rumored devil king? It'd be much less of a hassle that way!'

"As if I could do that. And anyway, I don't know why the heck people are saying that about me! Plus, everyone's acting like I'm some terrible lech..."

Amakasu rudely laughed off Godou's grumblings.

'Sorry for that. But you know, you get what you deserve, or something. Hey, Kusanagi-san, why did you call Liliana-san over in the coffee shop? You knew she'd be in the way, so why didn't you chase her away?'

"I couldn't do that either. Having fun with everyone but her? What can I say, I just didn't like the idea of doing so."

'Then what about your relative? I know she's pure and lovely, which stimulates your desire to protect her, but frankly, wasn't taking care of her for ten-odd years a pain? If it were me, I'd have made a plausible excuse and abandoned her.'

"Hmm, it certainly was a pain, but..."

Godou scratched his head.

Amakasu's comments had been quite cutting, but nevertheless correct.

"But abandoning her would be even worse. Actually I quite like her. When she wants to rely on me when she's at her wit's end, I want to do what I can."

'And by spoiling them like that you arrived where you are today. So that's how you raise your flags.'

Godou couldn't understand Amakasu's comments.

'Should you ever need our assistance, please say so. We will do our utmost to help.'

"At that time, please don't mess around like you did earlier today. You're really going to help me, aren't you?"

'... Of course I am. Please have faith in me!'

The short pause between question and reply made the latter completely unconvincing.

'But, well, this level of trouble is nothing to worry about. Deception still works.'


'Correct. Among the hime-miko, there are some who can alter people's memories. Even without such a power, you can tamper with memories through hypnotism magic. The devious move I talked about earlier is a one type of such magic.'

Ethically, what Amakasu was talking about definitely fell in a grey area.

His proposal was absurd. Godou was amazed.

But while he was amazed, he was grateful that such a method existed. Giving it some thought, he hadn't pulverized some highway in the capital or the San Pietro Cathedral in this case: Using such magic was certainly a valid way to conceal the events.

Take the evil with the good.

Because many of his friends and family were of dubious character, Godou had naturally adopted that stance.

There were some problems you just couldn't solve with justice and sound arguments. You had to face such crises with appropriate responses.

Godou was relieved to end the call from Amakasu on a peaceful note.

Without realizing that his mindset was not peaceful or common in the least, Godou got ready for bed.

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