7 Nights:Chapter 01 part5
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 Chapter 1 - The woman warrior dances in the night - Part 5
By the time I noticed, I was in a park.
"A ... again?"
I was totally taken by surprise. No doubt about this place. The same children's park from last night. I'm even wearing the school uniform. Taking my mobile from my side pocket and checking, it says 2:14. Date's Tuesday, June 26, one day in advance.
I should be in my T-shirt and short pants and retiring in my own bedroom. Is this the same dream from last night?
I don't think I'm in a dream, my five senses tell me. Just to be sure, I pinched my own face.
"Ow. This mean this is no dream ..."
If I'm not dreaming, then I'm sleepwalking. I'm worried if that's the case.
Well then, what to do next? I wanted to wake up if this was a dream, but I didn't know how. Even yesterday, I unexpectedly awakened-. Will somebody hit me for me to wake up? ... not a chance. Then, how about lying down and close my eyes? ... riight, I'm totally awake.
"What a pain, might as well explore this dream."
As I was puzzled about what landed me here last night, I hadn't payed much attention to the surroundings. Tonight's the second time, so I was more composed.
"How nostalgic ..."
I scanned the entire garden. This reminds me, this is the place where I first met Mi-ko. When my childhood friend carried the still-kitten Mi-ko in his arms, my face read "cute! cute! cute!".
I haven't met my childhood friend (Akane Shun) for nine months. I used to play with him during elementary school days, but since my relocation to Nanaobi, I only met him in school, and rarely since I got into high school (Shun's in 3rd year middle school at Suijou); well, so much for an association. Shun ... I wonder if he's fine.
Leaving the park, I scanned the same road I went through last night. There really is no one standing in this town, even in the convenience store.
"... phew, tastes good."
After drinking some cola from the convenience store, I continued my exploration. With the cola's sweetness, coldness, and acidic strength, I again began to doubt with thoughts of, "Is this really a dream?".
I got also some beef jerky, a flash light, and a parasol for self-defense. Even with no one manning the counter, I placed the exact amount there. Once, my thoughts varied between, "It's a dream, swiping stuff's fine," and, "It's a dream, my money won't come down." In that place, I want to keep my morals in check.
Incidentally, I can say that this town is 'almost uninhabited', but it doesn't mean that it's 'totally uninhabited'. At least I'm here. That Akeno girl from last night too was here last night. It's totally plausible that someone other that me would be here tonight.
And that's the problem. Right now, there is that feeling on my back, just who is that person?
I stopped and listened intently. In this quiet space, and without my own footsteps, surely I'll be able to perceive the person approaching me. A step, then another ... probably the sounds of regular footsteps. Somewhere, these footsteps sounded strained. This one's approaching steadily.
I definitely say my encounter with someone other than me in this ghost town will be anything but welcome. A hidden killer would be terrifying. If it's that girl again ... what next?
Anyhow, I've decided on facing him. I know a thing or two about going through narrow alleys. Shun and I, in our elementary days, used to go through them as shortcuts on the way to school. I'll hide myself there in the darkness, and I'll be able to observe him as he passes through. If I'm found and attacked, I'll ambush him head on.
I turn back, entering the alley where no one will find me...
Suddenly stars burst before my eyes! A slow shock spreads from my head throughout my body, and staggering, I completely fall backwards.
"Gu .... tsu ...!!!"
I groan from the head-splitting pain. This pattern, it's the same as last night...!?
Resisting the urge to vomit, I tried to focus on my shaky field of vision and caught sight of a stretched, slender leg from my loafers.
That girl was looking down on me.
"You ... the hell are you!"
Brandishing a bat, she spoke between short, wild breaths. With those words, I was expecting her to question me, but looks like she won't. From her eyes glaring at me, she totally lost her sense of reason.
The girl seems unaware who I am. I was able to see her face clearly thanks to the moonlight, but I don't think she can see me clearly. Moreover she's showing clear hostility towards me.
" ... to, ma ..."
Shit, I could not speak clearly. Will I get the bat again? That would be a good way to escape from my dream. If not, I would only end up crumpling down. A shitty way to die.
On the other hand, I think it's difficult to avoid that bat with my woozy body. If that's the case, then flying towards her would be fine. I might take in a bit of pain. So...
And before the girl could scream and swing her bat, I kicked. It connected smack in her face for a stun!
For a strike, it sure is overkill. The girl quickly and disappointingly went down, and I continued with my attack.
"L... let me go!"
She struggled with me on top of her, striking me with her fists.
The feeling of nausea and fatigue recurred again.
"C... calm down!"
I feel awkward with my rough treatment of her, but I'm taking no chances. I grabbed her wrists and slammed them into the ground, stopping all resistance.
"H... help! Somebody!"
Even now, the girl's voice changed to what sounded like she's crying. Damn, this girl's sneaky. Even if I'm the victim and I'm doing it for self-defense, I feel like I'm the attacker here. From the sidelines, it seemed like I'd be caught red-handed for rape.
On the other hand, to stop her rampage, I can't just step aside. How will able to calm her down? "Nobody's coming even if you scream, so shut it-!" would only reinforce the suspicion of rape. In such cases, I must quickly put an end to this. Ah, got it-!
I called her name quickly and sharply.
It had an immediate effect, and the girl replied "Ha...". The screaming stopped. In that instant, I wove my words slowly and precisely.
"Kasugamori Akeno. Suijou Academy, middle school 3-C. Lacross women's team member. ... I presume?"
"H... how did you know me?"
The girl shivered weakly for a change. Am I her acquaintance or her stalker. I bet she could only decide between them two.
"I heard it from your senior. Her name's Kure Nazumu. I'm her classmate."
So it would put everything in order.
"Kure's... classmate... ?"
"That's right, Suijou academy, high school 1-E. Hoshi Sakuya. That's me."
From her murmurs, she's probably searching her memories for my name. But I'm not sure she met me before; I haven't introduced myself.
It's impossible to do a one-sided introduction. Since the girl calmed down, I slowly released my grip on her wrists and stood up releasing her.
"Sorry for my rude introduction. As for what happened... are you hurt?"
I held out my hand to the rising girl.
"Th ... thank you."
The girl hesitated, but grabbed my hand. Standing up, she brushed the dust off from her entire body.
"Hm... I'm fine. I'm so sorry for hitting you so suddenly. Are you all right? ... no, you can't be all right. I struck your head with all my strength with my bat..."
"Ah, it's only a scratch."
Impossible, it hurts like hell. But I endured it, smiling like a gentleman. The girl looked at me for the first time with a modest expression.
Her gaze unexpectedly sharpened. She then stared at me hard.
"You... where did..."
She finally recognized me. Now, how should I answer her? "Sorry, but we've met before" would only give a bad impression, even to me. Hmmm, if that's the case, I must speak words that would definitely convince her. In other words --
"Last night, I met you in a dream, didn't I?"
I repeated the same words to the girl I met that morning. Her expression changed as she gazed at me...
“You’re the pervert that morning! And you’ve been stalking me since yesterday!”
I have been humiliated with those words. With my reputation on the line, I have to deny this right now. “What happened that morning is totally an accident. Moreover, I'm not a stalker. I don’t know what the heck you misunderstood me for but ---”
“Misunderstanding!? Let me tell you my side! You have been stalking me since yesterday, this morning, and even tonight. If that isn't stalking, I don't know what stalking is. Let me tell you something, if you don't get it. For all I know, it is plainly stalking --- admit your crime! Reflect on that if you understood it. Don’t show yourself in front of me again! Do it and I’ll have you expelled from school. I’ll even report to the cops!”
With the girl deciding everything, I can only stay silent. Well, if we only consider her situation, her reasoning could be valid. Had she been more considerate, this might not have happened. If that is the case, I should state my case more clearly!
“That’s a total and overly self-conscious misunderstanding! You may think that way, but I have no interest in you. Popular or not, to me you are a 'dangerous girl'! You've hit me with your bat without restraint, just what the hell’s going on in your head! You have made quite an injury! And it’s attempted murder!”
I spoke as severe words went through my head. I'm getting angry.
Her expression paled, as her mouth could only open or close. Well, she’d still be cute if she could maintain her demeanor but... far from dejection, she kept on glaring me.
“This is a legitimate self-defense! I’m only watching myself for some pervert following me. There no way a pervert would complain like that!”
“Enough with your accusations! I have not shadowed you even once! Or should I say you’re the one shadowing me…!”
“Did not! Why would I!? There’s no reason why I would be shadowing you!”
“Quit playing dumb! I’ve always noticing something on my back –”
-- back? That’s strange, and I paused. The one following behind me, there’s no way he would be waiting in front of me.
“Wh… what’s that…”
As I quickly shut my mouth, the girl half-stepped back, confused.
Oh damn it. It’s possible that I inevitably got knocked down for no good reason; damn I totally missed that in the first place. With someone following me, I went through the alleyway to find out just who was stalking me. If that “someone” is not this girl…? If we were quarreling that loud, someone else might notice where were quarreling by now; we didn't notice it if it was approaching closer, on the other hand.
“… … … …”
With that, I slowly and silently turn around. There –
A dragon is approaching.
I thought I misjudged at the onset. However, looking at silhouette from the block wall looking into the alley, it’s obviously not human and more like an abnormal giant reptilian head. The skin, reflecting the moonlight, is covered with numerous scales, and a goggling eyeball is looking pointedly at me. It’s nose is merely two meters from me.
My mind blanked for a moment. Am I looking at a vision? Am I going mad? No, I’m only dreaming. Only a fantastic creature would only confirm that I am in a dream.
Dragons are revered, whether in games, manga, or movies. Sometimes they led the heroes, sometimes they fought alongside heroes, sometimes they stand in the heroes’ way. I think it would take many boyhood experiences in exchange for being in a hero’s position.
Then what was the relationship when it met us? In this case it’s neither “guide”, nor “ally”, nor “enemy”. I cannot see any sense of intelligence looking at its inorganic eyes. The eyes are the only organs useful for locking on moving objects. Our relationship is more primitive, that is: 'hunter and hunted'.
“Wh… what’s this thing?”
I was suddenly snapped to my senses by a girl’s voice. My white field of vision became clear. The next instant ---
The dragon opened its large mouth, its head thrusting into the alley! I instinctively jumped back, grabbing the girl’s shoulders and diving for the ground! Taking the full brunt of the girl’s weight, we tumbled along the asphalt.
I can say it’s awfully painful, but it’s nothing compared to being eaten by the dragon. I was certain the dragon’s fangs went for my ankles. Any slower, and I’d be caught by my ankles. From a hopeless position I’d be dragged along and swallowed whole.
Furious that it didn’t catch me, the dragon roared. My skin and eardrums vibrated like from an electric shock. Thank god for the narrow alley. With the mammoth lizard caught in the fence, it couldn't reach us by a few centimeters.
“Ne! What is the meaning of this!? Is this really real…!?”
“There’s no way this is real. This is must be the dream’s creation.”
“But it looks real…”
“Ah… at this moment, you could say it’s the 'real thing' in this dream”
“I don’t care! Anywhere would be fine. Anyway ---“
The dragon further pushed itself in. Cracks are running on the concrete walls at both sides. Shit…!? “RUN FOR IT!”
Determined, I turn my eyes away from the terror. Turning my back to the dragon, I grabbed the hand of the confused girl and ran.
*crash* --- I hear the sound of crumbling rubble behind me. The fence must have been quickly demolished. Nevertheless were still in a small alley. There’s no way a behemoth can go in ---
“It’s coming --- !”
As I reply to the girl’s screams, the approaching dragon’s body leapt into my vision as it destroyed the fence!
“Shit! Shit! Hurry!”
“You don’t have to say hurry!”
Our stamina’s different, out steps are different. The dragon’s quickly approaching!
Tap-tap, the dragon’s footsteps are lighter than I thought. Its movement’s quicker than what I typically imagined for dragons. As we listen to the approaching scream, we ran without hesitation, without looking side to side.
Just ahead of the alley lies a private house’s fence. We’re going to jump into the streets, …
I stopped in a pinch. With the power forced onto me by the girl, her legs turned to the right without stopping.
“Hyaaa --- !”
However, the girl tumbled forward and ran from the alleyway. Immediately after that …
An attack came from my flank, and I felt a floating sensation! My vision blurred and flowed from left to right. And then another crash! I hear a sickening sound from within my body. If I could feel it myself, I was tumbling onto the ground.
Feeling something warm blocking my throat, I coughed. Large amounts of zinc tasting like liquid began to overflow from my mouth. The rich smell numbed my nose. It can’t be…blood?
“Sakuya --- !!!”
A voice calling my name. That girl --- is Akeno calling my name?
I got it. I’m in no case lying down. I’m perfectly awake. So run on ahead of me… I thought, but I couldn'tt say it. A whistle-like sound escaped from my mouth.
Shit! I can't hear why my body’s saying. This is way different from the time Akeno hit me. Not even close. Somehow, I could only move my eyeballs.
Soon I saw the dragon beside me.
Within the swirling dust, stepping on some fallen block fragments, the elephant-sized lizard looked down on me. Indeed, I might be charged on and blown off.
With the dragon’s growl, its opened mouth suddenly covered my vision! I instinctively put out my right arm to protect my head. And then that arm’s bitten.
“Ga .. ah?”
The sharp fangs plunged onto my arms! And then my body was dragged along, and lifted into midair…!! With gravity pulling me down, the monster’s fangs won’t let me go. The sinews in my arms are tearing apart. Blood dripped from where the sinews were torn apart onto the ground below.
“Stop it…! Stop it! Let go of him!”
Akeno’s bitter screams called my fading consciousness back. She still standing there! You idiot, run. Run away!
I’m not worried about myself. This is a dream. If I get myself killed in a dream I don’t really die… I want to think that way. Or should I say, let me wake from this dream! Or grant me superhuman powers. If all else fails… somebody help me!
“… ya! Stay tight, Sakuya!”
*crash* goes my body as it fell down. I think I was let go, this is the moment I’ve been expecting for.
*dragon growling again*
Going through a nerve-wracking pain in my right arm, my body again felt light. The dragon’s once downward pointing mouth is now pointing up.
Ah, I got it. This is the way crocodiles throw their prey into their mouths. I then fall, being sucked into the opening void. The warm night swallowing me ---?
*dragon screaming in pain*
I thought my eardrums were split open by the loud sound. My vision, that should be gone by now, is somehow perceiving the moon (a bit bigger than a half-moon) above.
My body was hit severely, by this scraggly flat … asphalt? Did the monster disgorge me?
It must be either good or bad luck that it ended without me dying. I must have fallen from two meters, my body still in one piece. My ribs are dislocated to my left shoulder, my right shin … I know here and there my bones are broken. The blood in my throat, I can’t help but vomit it out.
My head was alive with a thumping sound. The ground before me is still swaying. Damn dragon, releasing me almost dead, just what the hell is it doing?
“Sakuya! Are you all right!?”
I thought if I heard a voice beside me, it must be Akeno peering at me.
“…. I’m alive…”
I answered, because I don’t even have the courage to bluff I’m all right. Along with my words, my blood vomited out.
“…!? Hang on! What to do? What can I do…”
“… the dragon… is it…”
Since Akeno rushed to me, does that mean the dragon’s threat is receding? Even if I can immediately hear its roar…?
“It’s all right… look.”
I can’t trust Akeno’s reply. For my uneasy, doubtful eyes, I turned to the direction of the sound. Only my eyes moved, locking on what the girl is following.
There, I saw a battle maiden.
The battle maiden, garbed in a feather-plumed helmet and fantastic-looking armor, danced in the night.
In both of her hands was a golden lance. Its spear tip was like a loop enclosing a cross, glistening in the moonlight just like those divine halos in Christianity. Flashing in the moonlight, it easily went through the monster’s hard scale, leaving a straight red line in the behemoth’s body.
*dragon screaming in pain*
Even with the dragon’s rage, its awful fangs could not reach the woman. She easily flowed from left to right, making fun of the dragon, and the dragon could not land a hit. And then ---
With a short scream, the battle maiden unleashed her weapon to the sky. The lance, streaking through the night sky like a meteor, pierced right into the monster’s forehead!
*dragon again screaming in pain*
The dragon reared up, its forelegs raised high up. It let out another scream into the night sky.
But it's on its last legs. Its power suddenly gone from its large body, it was pulled down by gravity, and it went down to the ground with a loud crash. There it remained still.
With her back on the dragon’s spine, the battle maiden landed softly on the earth.
With her elegant dress,
with her long hair fluttering about in the wind,
with her clear eyes sparkling in the moonlight,
--- with her hot figure, I ---
held my breath,
my eyes blurred,
the pain in my tormented body forgotten,
--- as I could do nothing but watch her in awe.
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