Campione!:Volume 2 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Every Day is a Bothersome Day
Recently, Kusanagi Godou began setting off from home forty minutes earlier than usual.
He originally had a habit of getting up early for a run, but this was not the reason he had to move his schedule earlier. In fact, he could have just changed his morning run to the evenings.
It was nearing the end of June, and plum rain had continued every day in the monsoon season for at least half a month.
But today was a much awaited sunny day. Godou put on his light running shoes at the entrance and prepared to set off.
The last time he left home without needing an umbrella was many days ago. As his thoughts reached this point, a sudden greeting was heard from behind.
"Good morning, brother. You're quite early again today... Are you going to that person on the way again?"
A voice that should have been very cute to listen to, but currently had a strange threatening tone.
Turning his head back, Godou saw his younger sister Shizuka appearing at the doorway with a sneer.
"Every single morning, meeting the blonde lover at some place and then going to school together. I am surprised at brother's earnest diligence."
"Ah... please don't misunderstand. Erica is not my lover or anything like that."
To her older brother's denial, the sister snorted with a smile and ignored it.
"Aya, really? Brother is two-timing Mariya-senpai and Erica-san at the same time. It really seems like... So who is the main wife and who is the backup? Or do they play both roles!"
"Don't blindly believe those strange rumors. You're talking as if I was the kind of man who made women his playthings!"
"It's like this, there's no smoke without fire. The gist is the female friend sleeps in every day, so each morning you have to go to that female friend's home to wake her up. Isn't that strange? Couldn't one just use an alarm clock to wake up?"
It really was exactly as Shizuka described it.
Godou nodded deeply, and at the same time, felt troubled as to how he could describe the peculiarities of the young lady Erica Blandelli.
It had already been a month since he began sharing the same classroom as Erica.
The only day she arrived at the classroom on time and before lessons began was the first.
Henceforth, she was late every single day. It was a good day if she arrived before homeroom ended.
In the most severe cases, she would casually stroll into the classroom after lessons had begun for an hour or two, and greet Godou as if nothing had happened -- right in front of all the classmates and teachers.
"Good morning everyone. You're all early today as well... Aya, why is Godou's face so terrible, what happened? Aha, you must be unhappy that you weren't able to see my face until now. I also wanted to see the adorable you earlier, which is why I rushed here. But then it ended up being this late, is it acceptable?"
Completely shameless and speaking total rubbish, she approached Godou's side.
The stares from the rest of the class were painfully stabbing away at Godou.
(Especially the boys. If those glares were knives, then Godou would have been shredded into a thousand pieces by now.)
Godou made a decision as he tried to push away Erica who was leaning tightly against him. No sacrifice would be too great, if this woman would only come to school on time properly.
The result was, visiting Erica's room and going to school together became a daily routine.
...Perhaps, it is precisely because I am going to school together with that fellow that I am being misunderstood? This question had entered Godou's mind.
Shrugging off the jeering gaze of the sister who saw him off, Godou left the house.
Erica's new residence was a luxury apartment on Hongou Street, roughly five minutes of walking distance away. They lived on the tenth floor of a twelve-story 2LDK. 
As usual, Godou called using the intercom at the entrance.
"Yes, may I know who is it?"
"Good morning, Anna-san, it's me, Kusanagi."
"Ah, Godou-sama, thanks for your efforts every day, please enter."
The high pitched voice -- bright, clear and outgoing -- clearly conveyed the cheerfulness of the speaker through the intercom.
Passing through the door, Godou took the elevator up to the destination floor. To Godou, who had always lived in a simple detached house, it felt a little uncomfortable each time he entered and exited the luxury apartment that was protected by a security system of automated locks.
Pressing the bell at the door to Erica's unit, the door immediately opened.
"Good morning, do please come in."
The one who came to receive him was Arianna Hayama Arialdi.
The apprentice mage at the "Copper Black Cross" magic association, as well as the assistant and personal caregiver (basically the maid) of the Templar Knight Erica Blandelli -- the one who held the title Great Knight.
She was the servant in charge of all domestic chores in this apartment.
"Doesn't today's great weather make one so happy? Lately, due to the cloudy or rainy days, I have been feeling troubled by the laundry not drying."
Arianna gave a refreshing smile as she welcomed Godou inside.
A face that seemed younger than her nineteen years of age, and gave an impression of great cleverness and competence... However, the truth was much more unfortunate, for she is a classic case where "one cannot be judged by appearances."
"So Anna-san, has that fellow Erica woken up today?"
Godou hastily asked as he was brought to the living room.
Though he already knew Erica had no ability to get up by herself, Godou still tried to harbor some hope.
"Probably, I heard some noises just now from the direction of the bedroom. Ah, if you wish, would you like a Cappuccino while you are waiting? If you're hungry, perhaps you'd like a little soup from yesterday, if you don't mind."
Anna asked with a smile as cute as a lily.
A pure smile that warmed you from the heart. A girl who can smile like that surely cannot fall into misfortune.
As Godou thought to himself, he glanced into the distance at the pressure cooker sitting on the electric stove in the kitchen.
A bad feeling.
Perhaps a bias created by first impressions. But maybe noticing danger is a warning imparted by the instincts of a Campione. One should avoid danger as much as possible.
"I already had breakfast at home, so I'll pass on the soup."
A perfect answer.
Of course, at an age of a healthy appetite, Godou's stomach can surely handle a second breakfast without issue. However, the exception is a particular product of Anna's cooking.
...It was about a month ago, the first time visiting this room.
To serve Godou, the guest of her mistress Erica, Arianna had offered her personal cooking.
Handmade spaghetti with cream sauce, thinly sliced cheese and ham, bread with added sausage and vegetables, appetizers of fresh slices of raw fish and cold cuts -- all of them tasted excellent, and were most satisfying. However, the exception was the final soup presented on a dish.
"I'm dieting currently, so I'll stop here."
Erica, who had been eating heartily mouthful by mouthful, suddenly put down her knife and fork.
Despite her slim figure, her appetite greatly exceeded a normal male.
Although it felt really suspicious, Godou could not find a reason to refuse this soup colored a strange shade of red, so he had taken a small sip.
All the adjectives of the Japanese language could "hardly describe it," so Godou gave up.
That's the kind of taste it was.
An indescribable taste. Simple adjectives of sour, sweet, bitter or spicy, etc, did not suffice, and one simply couldn't imagine what kind of ingredients went into making it.
Inevitably, Godou had shifted his gaze to Erica, who returned a malevolent smile.
(Didn't I mention it before, that one needs to be careful with Arianna's cooking?)
(If, if that's the case, then, at least give a warning.)
As she communicated with Godou by exchanging glances, Erica drank her after-meal Espresso with an air of nonchalance.
Remembering the lesson he had learnt, Godou accepted only the Cappuccino this morning.
Calming himself, Godou waited for Arianna to return from the master bedroom.
...But she came back immediately.
"Sorry, Godou-sama. Erica-sama only woke for a moment to say she had 'no mood to get up from bed without the kiss of the prince, and that Godou should have been brought here earlier...' "
Arianna seemed pitiful as she reported that Erica had gone back to sleep.
Godou furrowed his brow.
Of course, he never expected that girl to get up so simply. Even if he offered a morning call service from his home, that fellow would have simply hung up the phone on him.
Was there really no other way but to enter the room and wake her up?
"That fellow always creates a chore for others in the morning --"
Godou complained as he left the living room and intruded into Erica's bedroom.
The mistress of this home was peacefully sleeping away with light breathing noises, wrapped in the blanket on the bed.
"You really went back to sleep, didn't you..."
The room's interior condition gave Godou a shock as he entered.
Completely unlike the living space of a girl living in the 2010's, it was a room full of books and antiques.
Amidst paperbacks were popular magazines, as well as ancient books in English, Italian, Latin, Chinese and all sorts of different languages on the book shelves above. Though neither CD nor MP3 players were found, there was an extremely old record player.
They were arranged neatly, but surely it was not through the owner's efforts.
Most likely, it was Arianna who cleans up. As if to support this hypothesis, scattered all over the floor beneath the bed were the clothes probably taken off last night.
A t-shirt and shorts, as well as a few scraps of water-colored cloth -- one piece, two pieces.
What is this combination of cloth?
Godou cannot imagine anything good out of it, and tells himself to stop paying attention to it as he neared the bed.
"Hey, Erica, you're going to be late if you don't get up. This is no good."
Godou shook the girl's body, trying to wake her.
Martial artists in certain swordsmen novels often possess the ability to wake up when approached in their sleep, but clearly this mage and genius swordswoman is devoid of this skill. She probably would explain it as "presumably because there was no change in killing intent."
"...Let me sleep a little longer. I was up till 4am last night watching Bruce Lee videos, and still very sleepy. Please, I'll kiss you later, ok? Godou."
Erica said this without even opening her eyes.
This Italian girl surprisingly turned out to be a fan of the great kung fu star. To have studied these videos from that era to such a degree.
"No way. You shouldn't be watching those things when you have school, get up quickly. How about I watch the Die Hard trilogy with you on the weekend?"
"Bruce is not enough, you need to add Jet Li as well."
At least she was finally conscious, and greeted Godou hello.
"Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat together as well, get up, time for school."
"Yes, getting up right away, Godou sure is bad. You're probably the first boy who ever got me out of bed by force... Hey, I'm getting up, come give me a morning kiss..."
Getting up from bed was the only time when Erica lost her usually dominating and confident demeanor.
Like a child, speaking as if she wanted to be spoilt.
As Godou answered her while he pulled away the blanket wrapped around her -- he froze completely. The pale white neck and the naked back were entirely revealed.
Due to sleeping with her back turned, it was fortunate that the front could not be seen.
However, because the curvaceous body part -- whose lines from the waist to the buttocks are like an artistic drawing -- was going to be revealed, Godou frantically covered her once again with the blanket.
"E-Erica... You, you're not properly dressed?"
"I did wear clothes. I don't sleep nude you know, it's just that around the time of dawn I couldn't go back to sleep so I took them off... No problem, I did put on perfume... Just like that actress from before --"
Erica got up all of a sudden.
At the same time, the blanket began to slide off the clearly unclothed upper torso, and her bountiful cleavage was revealed from below.
Godou immediately caught the falling blanket.
"Erica, put on some clothes! Please! Please put on your clothes first!"
"Yes -- then, first let's wear... the underwear in the second drawer from the bottom, Godou can pick whichever ones you prefer..."
To Godou who just heard a terrifying sentence, Erica smiled faintly.
A different smile from the usual devil's smile, it was a true innocent smile, perhaps it was because she just got up from bed, the crafty witch had become a little honest.
Frightened by this fresh feeling, Godou continued to beg.
"Don't joke around, choose it yourself!"
"Still lacking in ambition eh? Ah, help me take out the ones I was wearing yesterday, did they fall on the ground?"
"Those are underwear. Is it really ok to leave them somewhere that men can see?"
"It's fine if it's Godou, for you are special. Even seeing my naked body is totally fine for you."
"No way, that is completely out of the question. An-anna-san, please could you bring something for Erica to wear? Please, quickly!"
To Erica's words which made Godou panic, Arianna calmly smiled and ran over.
Godou's recent mornings pretty much all felt like this.
The high school division of Jounan Academy, Year 1, Class 5.
Here was the classroom of Erica and Godou, and by the way, the two were neighbors.
Actually Erica was originally seated much further away, but on the first day she transferred, she suddenly gave that speech.
A month ago, during homeroom in the morning.
The foreign student from Italy had introduced herself with perfect Japanese.
Afterwards, Erica, who had been seated next to a window, began smiling as she hummed proudly to herself. Then she proceeded to casually walk to Godou's seat and suddenly announced.
"First of all I must make this clear, I, Erica Blandelli have already promised my future to someone, and that is this person, Kusanagi Godou. -- hoho, from today onwards we will always be together, Godou."
As she delivered those words, she deftly embraced Godou who desperately wanted to flee, and kissed him upon the cheek.
Elegantly capturing Godou who had been on alert -- this must surely count as a miraculous skill -- Erica then began to give a speech.
Two people in love, who cannot be separated even for a moment.
And so she hoped for cooperation to obtain her rightful seat belonging by his side.
"There can be no place for me to sit except beside Kusanagi Godou. Would you help us who are in love, and accept such willfulness?"
Godou was shocked that Erica made such a request.
No, no matter how you look at it, that is totally unreasonable. One was truly speechless at this choice of action.
The surrounding classmates all suddenly left their seats, and started to reorganize themselves to accommodate Erica's seating request. Even the teacher had nothing to say.
At that time, Erica must have been using magic similar to hypnosis.
And so it came to be, the two of them were seated next to each other, and their relationship was officially recognized within the class.
"Hey Godou, let's go for lunch, Arianna prepared sandwiches for me today."
Erica joyfully said as the bell rang for the lunch break. Godou immediately began to feel his body being pierced by vast amounts of murderous intent.
-- It's that guy Kusanagi again, we see this every single day!
-- Ch! Our Erica, why would she go with that guy!
-- If this level of hate can become a murder weapon, I, I will be able to kill this guy!
-- You boy, even hell is too mild for you!
"Hey! Erica, why don't you try having lunch with other girls for once? I will go to the school cafeteria."
Pressured by the indescribable stress, Godou attempted to offer a suggestion.
The dark aura exuded by the surrounding boys has been intensifying through each passing day.
Jealousy, hate, revulsion, murderous intent, enmity. If a measuring device existed to quantify these negative emotions, who knew what values would be recorded in this classroom?
"What are you talking about? Even for the girls, everybody supports us. Don't ruin the mood with such words."
Godou sighed at Erica's simple response.
Erica Blandelli's political and negotiation skills can truly be horrifying.
She was definitely not a person with a good attitude at receiving others. In fact, the first time she met Godou, she was mostly arrogant and cold.
However, as long as she willed it, she can be a diplomatic expert who gets along well with anyone.
She possessed beauty and elegance beyond the daughters of high class families, extraordinary eloquence of speech, social strategy which neither compromised nor created conflict, first impressions convincing others that she was a special existence, and exceptional charisma fitting for a leader.
If a person of such a disposition were to get serious, no high school student in Japan would be her match.
Even when her character is so prone to doing as she pleased, Erica's actions have not garnered any ill talk behind her back. Godou truly admired this accomplishment.
The trouble was this -- Erica's total disregard for hiding her affections towards a specific boy was greatly problematic.
Due to the well wishes of the girls, as well as the anger of the boys, hate and admiration had combined to double the pressure on Godou.
"But then, it would be nice to have lunch outside once in a while. Since today's weather is fine, how about the central courtyard? To go to the benches there, wouldn't that be great?"
"Sorry, only that choice is impossible, let's eat in the classroom."
Godou immediately answered to the smiling Erica.
The central courtyard was where not only high school students but many middle schoolers passed by, especially during the lunch break. One must avoid such attention seeking actions at all costs in a place seen by so many people.
"Then how about as usual, I'll go buy the drinks, what do you want?"
"Tea then, the non-sweet type."
Alternating between buying drinks and bread was the agreement they had decided beforehand.
As Erica left to fulfill her turn to buy drinks, Godou began to prepare the area for lunch.
Laying out the napkin and placing the lunchbox on it, there were Italian cold cuts, sandwiches containing ham and vegetables, as well as olives in plastic containers, apples, etc.
A lunch prepared by Arianna, full of European style.
Recalling the first time when Erica just moved here, the memory remains fresh in Godou's mind when he lectured Erica for planning on bringing wine and champagne bought from the hotel as drinks for lunch.
"What's the matter, Takagi?"
Since the boy who sat behind him seemed to be saying something, Godou ventured to ask.
Godou was already quite tall, but Takagi was taller still, reaching nearly 185cm in height. He should be in the Kendo club.
"Godou, let me share with you some good news. Right now, all the boys of our Class 5 are enduring the accumulation of rage and hate towards your atrocious acts, as if ignoring our existence..."
"I'm sorry, but the one ignoring others is Erica, not me."
"Ch! Whenever you talk about yourself, you always think you are in the right! You think you're so special -- fine, if you're going to be that way, we will take emergency measures."
Takagi spoke decisively.
Why? He -- no, including him, all the boys staring at Godou had their eyes full of strong determination, it's almost like those of two boxers in an undecided match, dodging each other's attacks and waiting for an opportunity to counterattack.
"Yes. We will fight poison with poison. If you won't heed the feelings of us men, then we will retaliate with the appropriate measures! ...To be frank, we already sent someone to report to the other class next door."
"Why the class next door... Could it be!?"
"Ho, you realized it. But it's too late. We tried to avoid this until now because it hurts us too. But in order to torment you, we dare to walk the path of pain."
As Takagi gave a speech full of heroic sacrifice, she arrived.
Mariya Yuri of the First Year, Sixth Class.
Godou's sister Shizuka's upperclassman at the tea ceremony club she belonged to, the one who represented the Japanese wizardry world, and the Hime-Miko whose appearance never failed to catch Godou's attention. As she entered the door to Class 5, Godou found her walking over to him.
"Kusanagi-san, may I borrow a moment of your time?"
"Yes, yes, what is it?"
The number one top beauty in the school alongside Erica, was asking with a sharp glare.
Her beauty was like sakura flowers blossoming quietly on the mountain side, and felt neither arrogant nor ostentatious.
One could easily fall into obsession just by watching her.
"I am reminding you precisely because this is inappropriate. I am in a different class, and cannot report you to the discipline committee... However, only the students in this class hope you will not ignore them."
In front of Yuri who spoke persuasively with reason, Godou had a face full of panic. This beautiful miko-sama was truly hard to handle. Once she started lecturing, one would inevitably start listening respectfully.
"I heard that every day during lunch, Kusanagi-san and Erica-san are doing that... is... is it called flirting? Speaking intimate words lacking in caution. This is a school, don't you think you should save those for a more appropriate time and place?"
"We weren't flirting! Only having lunch together!"
"Obviously lying. Due to this, Class 5 is so troubled that they are almost crying... The one with me just now mentioned it. Something like 'Kusanagi is treating all the boys who don't have girlfriends as fools by flirting with Erica every day. We must all be concerned, and so forth.' And spoken tearfully too."
Behind Yuri, who was lecturing with righteous anger, were...
The boys in the class, all of them watching the cornered Godou with malevolent smiles. Those evil expressions fully betrayed their feelings.
-- Hehehe, as expected, Godou cannot defy Mariya.
-- But then, to be tricked by that awful acting, and to come to this classroom specifically, isn't Mariya coming personally for Godou after all?
-- Damn! Unacceptable! Why do such good things only happen to that guy?
-- How enviable. I also want to get to know the Mariya-san "who has no interest in boys" and be lectured by her.
-- Oh! Look, Erica is back, let the show really begin.
"Ah, it's Yuri? It's rare to see you here during lunch?"
Holding drink cartons of oolong tea and orange juice, Erica had returned to the classroom.
"You want to join us for lunch? As long as you don't disturb Godou and my fun, you're welcomed."
"Unfortunately, the reason I am here is to obstruct you two."
Erica and Yuri silently faced off with strong determination.
These two are truly incompatible in personality. Whenever Godou was getting teased by Erica, Yuri always expressed disapproval if she happened to witness it.
Ever since the first time they met, the same type of situation had unfolded countless times.
The problem was that this mostly happened in school, in full view of a substantial number of the high school and middle school students.
"Ohoh, it's the battle between the mistress and the wife." "It must be time for Godou to confess his sins." "Kusanagi that fellow, when did he start getting so close to Mariya?" "Idiot, the two of them must be childhood friends." "Is that so? So because Mariya failed to recognize her feelings for Kusanagi, the result was the intrusion of Erica from Italy!?" "Choosing between the Japanese legal wife Mariya, and the Italian mistress Erica, what an ultimate dilemma!"
Sigh, the cause of this misunderstanding has its reasons.
Perhaps due to nationality, most people would think that Yuri and Godou knew each other first. However, the truth was the opposite, but jumping to conclusions could be a scary thing.
"...This feels a bit noisy."
"You still don't seem to understand what I am saying, why don't we change locations? To the roof then, a less conspicuous location."
Noticing the people around Yuri discussing all sorts of theories excitedly, Godou made a proposition.
It was already impossible to converse in such an environment, and Godou gave Erica a look. Truly expected of a comrade, she immediately understood and neatly wrapped up the food on the table.
Godou took the hand of the miko-sama who seemed to be in a trance, and walked towards the classroom exit.
"Ah?" While Yuri realized with surprise she was being led walking by the hand, Erica had caught up.
-- Recently, trying to eat lunch casually has become impossible.
Godou complained in his mind as he bolted out of the classroom like an advanced attack party.
It was quite chaotic on the roof during lunch.
A few people were eating lunch in groups, while others were playing ball. It was rather lively.
Unlike the classroom, Godou and his group would not attract attention here.
"Should have come here from the start, finally some peace and quiet."
"If it's just two people eating lunch normally, then it could be quiet anywhere, do not blame the reason on others."
Yuri continued to oppose vehemently to Godou who had made the correct choice in location.
She had also picked up her own lunchbox along the way when they passed by the 6th Class.
"Today's weather is great, and being outside makes one feel at ease. Isn't this nice?"
Erica began to eat her sandwiches while speaking indifferently.
By the way, Arianna had prepared equal portions for both Erica and Godou. Incommensurate with her slim figure, Erica's appetite was extreme.
"...So, how do Kusanagi-san and Erica-san usually eat lunch?"
Yuri's lunchbox, on the other hand, was a normal girl's portion.
As to her holding of the chopsticks, they were used in a most elegant manner. Perhaps she was well taught from a young age.
"Usually I am being hassled by Erica while being talked about by others."
"What hassling... Really, there are mountains worth of boys who want to eat lunch with me."
To Erica who sighed as she spoke, Godou was staring at her with eyes of resentment.
In reality, to this date, there had been quite a few people who tried to intrude in between the two of them. However, every time they were driven away by Erica who always guessed their intentions.
... Since she was a girl, they could not lose their temper and scold her.
In these areas, Erica was completely flawless.
Towards boys, she was entirely merciless. With an elegant smile she would say "You're in the way, could you please leave?"
"If you already know you're popular, could you stop that Queen-like attitude? If you continue to do as you please, I have to take the brunt of the backlash."
Even though Godou was very displeased, Erica only smiled in a relaxed manner.
"Isn't that great? To be the exclusive recipient of my love. Aren't there many benefits?"
"...Sometimes I really admire this self-confidence of yours."
"If Kusanagi-san can respond decisively, I don't believe it would have progressed to this. As the first thing, one must always do things with determination."
Yuri's voice was filled with thorns of disapproval.
"Ah, yes." Without realizing it, Godou began to retreat.
Perhaps it was due to her pointing out the truth, Godou felt like he cannot give a rebuttal. It was completely unlike those times when he argued with Erica.
"Ah, yes, Godou. That matter, isn't it time for it to be determined whether it is accepted or not? The exact time will be today after school."
"That matter... is it something that can be brought home?"
Erica suddenly brought up something that immediately caused Godou agitation.
Not long after Erica had transferred, she immediately made the request of meeting and greeting Godou's family.
"In that case, didn't we talk about it already, so you still haven't given up?"
"Of course. In preparation for the future, winning Godou's family is a necessary prerequisite."
Looks like joyfully talking about her deep scheming was one of Erica's most adept skills.
To this exchange of words, Yuri frowned in a barely perceptible manner.
"Shizuka-san seems to have heard about Erica, and is most wary in a serious state of alert. When this kind of female approaches her brother, it is only natural."
The younger sister Shizuka was a 3rd year student in the middle school section.
Since the relationship with the blonde beauty had become the gossip of the school, their relationship was already known. For the sake of harmony within the family, Godou had wanted to prevent this meeting.
"Come on, visiting my home isn't that fun anyway?"
"Even if it's not very fun, meeting the family of my lover, and having our relationship recognized officially is very important."
To Erica's suggestion, Godou immediately rebuffed.
"We are not lovers, and there is no need for official recognition!"
"Then there's no other way. Imouto-san is also in this school, right? 3rd Year 2nd Class of the middle school, her register number is 9. Her seat is the second one in the row closest to the corridor."
Unlike the innocent child this morning, this was the true horrifying face of the witch.
A smile appeared at the corner of Erica's lip, completely expressing her malevolent intentions. Dominating Godou, causing him to admit defeat from the depths of his heart.
"The grandfather who retired 6 years ago from the university position of professor of folklore studies. Living carefree nowadays and taking up all the chores of the household. The mother works at Yushima."
"Why do you know so much detail about my family?"
"Since Godou did not introduce them to me, I decided to investigate a bit. To suddenly visit and meet them would be quite strange, so I have been waiting for you to invite me... However, there are times when one must take action for oneself."
Cornered by Erica, Godou only had two choices.
To let Erica introduce herself in a situation when Godou himself was absent, or to bring Erica to the house, and face the family together. Which would it be? That was the question.
"Sigh, I still can't think of a better solution..."
Godou was becoming further agitated. Was there a less risky option -- ?
Certain of her victory, Erica was chuckling proudly to herself. Was there really no trump card to reverse defeat -- yes, there was a way.
Right here beside them, was another girl.
Godou looked at her frowning face full of propriety.
"Mariya, would you happen to be free today after school? If it's convenient, could you come visit my home? Along with this fellow -- Erica."
Godou tried to ask with all sincerity.
Yuri stared at Godou with a lost expression.
"For me, me to visit Kusanagi's ... home?"
"Yes. If I bring Erica to my home, I cannot restrain her by myself. If it's possible, could you help keep an eye over her --"
"So it's like that... If that's the case, I don't mind."
Yuri nodded as she glanced at Erica.
"Truly, letting Kusanagi-san's family meet Erica-san is probably a dangerous thing. To suddenly visit a boy's home is a little unusual. But if that's the situation, it can't be helped. I have no choice but to accept."
"Thank you, Mariya... You won't mind, right, Erica?"
Counterattack success! Godou returned a smile of victory.
Erica seemed slightly impressed in her smile, and nodded.
"Godou... Do you really think your little trick can stop me? Do not underestimate this [Diavolo Rosso] so easily."
"Hmph. I won't do as you wish forever, be prepared for that."
At that time, Godou still had not realized he was digging his own grave.
Uh, did he do something wrong?
Watching the delicate expressions on Shizuka's face, Godou felt troubled.
If it was just himself, he definitely would not be able to control Erica. With Yuri's help however, there should be a way.
-- Then what was the matter with this bad feeling?
After school, Godou and Erica, as well as Yuri walked back to the Kusanagi residence.
Walking for roughly ten minutes from Jounan Academy, they reached the shopping street in Nezu of the Bunkyo ward.
In that area was a closed down Japanese book store and the home of the Kusanagi family. Godou led the two girls into the living room.
"You've returned, big brother. Yes, listen to me. Grandfather said that tonight's dinner is hand rolled sushi -- anyway... let's go shopping together..."
They were greeted by Grandfather Kusanagi Ichirou and Shizuka who had already returned from school.
After half a day, her mood seemed to have improved, and the younger sister's speech had become more relaxed -- however, her state was rapidly deteriorating mid-sentence.
The grandfather calmly smiled at the two girls his grandson brought home.
"Ah... what should I say, you even brought some friends."
"Yes, all sorts of friends..."
As she finished speaking, Shizuka finally greeted Yuri as her senior in the club activities.
"Hello, Mariya-senpai. And that one over there must be Erica-san who has a close relationship with brother? I already know... from rumors."
"Hello Shizuka. Haven't I introduced myself on the phone before? A pleasure to meet you, grandfather. I apologize for my sudden intrusion today. There are things I must talk to Godou's family about, if I may?"
Erica greeted them with a most lady-like smile.
When she acted like that, one cannot help but marvel at what a perfect high class lady she was.
"hoho... Let's take your seats first, I will prepare the tea."
And so, everyone came into the living room of the Kusanagi family.
Around the large table sat Godou with Erica on his right and Yuri on the left. Opposite was Shizuka with an intense glare, while the cheerful grandfather sat on the side.
Somehow it evolved into an awkward atmosphere along the likes of "hopeless, you rascal." Why was that?
Grandfather suddenly addressed Yuri.
Perhaps it was because Yuri spoke less than Erica, so he became a bit curious.
"Yes, I am Mariya. My utmost apologies for today's sudden intrusion. Shizuka-san and I both belong to the same tea ceremony club."
"Then that means you're Shizuka's senior, right? Did you become friends with Godou due to Shizuka?"
Grandfather nodded at Yuri's earnest greeting and thoughtlessly asked.
However, the one who answered this loaded question was Shizuka.
"That has no relation to me whatsoever. Brother and Mariya-senpai's relationship suddenly became close at some unknown point in time, and even secretly met behind my back during weekends."
Godou began to realize the mistake he had made.
Although the overall strategy was correct in bringing Yuri as an ally, the unexpected result was greatly increasing the battle spirit of the adversary (the younger sister).
However... it was still too early to write it off as a failure.
With his will to fight rising, his targets have also increased to two. However, if the will to battle has increased, but the targets have doubled, then it will still be tough to handle.
"When did brother and Erica-san meet is also a mystery as well. When we talked on the phone last time, no one would have thought she was foreign due to her excellent Japanese. Brother and Erica-san's relationship seems to be extremely close? It's already the talk of the school."
Shizuka also began to direct her enmity towards Erica, and started a two pronged attack.
Now was the key moment, and Godou immediately responded.
"In truth, Erica should be the one closer to me, but that's it. Even for Shizuka, you must have many close friends, right?"
"Yes, I have many friends. However, I have never had a friend who made an engagement-like declaration on the first day of transferring into the school."
Shizuka rebuked her brother's question flawlessly with another reference to Erica.
It would be necessary for evidence to be provided by this blonde witch in order to prove his innocence. Godou made a decision as he waited for her to speak.
...Erica showed what seemed like a smile of pity.
As if boasting she can win as a challenge, Godou suddenly felt very displeased.
"I am very sorry that the matter of Godou and I has created such kind of rumor."
"There is no credibility coming from the person who created the rumor. Isn't the one who forced me into all this trouble you yourself, Erica?"
"Don't, don't say it like that... there was no forcing at all."
Erica swiftly held out her hand.
By the time he realized it was no good, it was already too late -- Godou's right hand on the table had been clasped by Erica's right hand.
It wasn't exactly fast.
Rather, it was a slow, elegant motion. However, Godou still wasn't able to evade.
...When one skilled with swords chops down with a shinai (bamboo blade), even a fierce warrior will not be able to escape. This is truly one of Erica's amazing skills.
"Anyway, about that, why don't you answer properly, Godou. You're just not being forthcoming enough. But then again, this is one of your cute points."
Shizuka's gaze was beginning to look as if it was colder than freezing temperature.
The obvious reason was the pair of hands which appeared to be harmoniously holding each other.
"No, it's not like that. Do not misunderstand. It is Erica's brute force which is holding my hand down."
"Brother is the worst! Your denials are futile."
Godou was trying with all his strength to extract his hand from Erica's grip.
However, this blonde devil easily suppressed it with a relaxed expression upon her face. Not only that, she was acting as if lovingly caressing Godou's hand, trying to intertwine their fingers intimately together.
Godou truly hated the magic which granted this woman such demonic strength.
What if he tried to stand up with all his might, would he be able to escape from such a skill?
No, he wouldn't.
There was a previous time in a similar situation, and the result was he lost balance, fell to the ground, and was hypnotized and played around with. At times like these, this witch only knew how to press her advantages to the limit and pose with perfect victory.
"Erica-san, please have some restraint with your pranks!"
Godou felt relieved from the loud cry which echoed. Truly, bringing her here was the right decision.
"Shizuka-san and grandfather, please allow me to explain the situation. Perhaps you may find it completely unbelievable and a pack of lies to cover up the truth. However, Erica-san and Kusanagi-san are not in a boyfriend girlfriend relationship."
Yuri's voice was awe-inspiring, and truly reliable.
Sounding like the clear pure tone of a bell, even Shizuka began to focus her attention on her senior's face.
"Before, Kusanagi-san has sworn in front of me -- that he definitely is not going out with Erica-san. Should this oath be false, he will gladly submit to death without a word of objection. I, at that time did believe that Kusanagi-san was not lying. No, I wanted to believe."
...It was a month ago, the night Athena was defeated and repelled.
In order to convince Yuri who insisted that Godou and Erica terminate their unhealthy -- no, lover's relationship. Godou had come up with this solution, and even swore an oath with his life as forfeit.
The result was, at the very least Yuri acknowledged Godou's opinion.
"Admittedly, these two people have a very unhealthy relationship, and it is completely unacceptable. However, it is due to Erica-san's despicable attempts at seduction, that Kusanagi-san has been hassled to within an inch of his life."
Yuri's defense continued. Eh? Does this still count as defending?
"To be honest, this person really tries hard, but always seems to be doing inexplicable things, and never considers the trouble he brings to others around him. He is hopeless, and a person who doesn't know how to lie. One would hope that he would strive to keep his promises, but the end result is he fails the majority of the time."
Erica on the other side, was silently laughing away.
Since her grip had relaxed, Godou hurriedly withdrew his right hand. But why? There was no feeling that crisis had been averted at all.
"If he cannot prudently reject Erica-san's advances, then Kusanagi-san should show more determination in his contact with Erica-san. Waking her up every morning is spoiling her, and leaning your bodies close to each other, to be honest it is totally an eyesore. Though you have completely failed on all accounts, I believe you are innocent, even if it is not my intention."
At that moment, Godou finally realized the error he had committed.
Asking for reinforcements was correct. But this was Yuri, who always spoke truthfully without any knowledge of tact. Was she an appropriate ally in such a situation? The answer laid there.
"How is it? Kusanagi-san and Erica-san are not going out, can everyone understand?"
To Yuri's sincere gaze of questioning, Shizuka nodded her head.
And turned her gaze, full of despise and mockery, at her brother.
"Yes, hearing this explanation clears up the gist of these two's relationship. But I still don't understand the situation deep enough."
Godou and Erica, as well as Yuri, gazed at Shizuka as she spoke.
"But, let's get to the bottom of this, why would my idiot brother need to swear such an oath to Mariya-senpai? What kind of relationship does Mariya-senpai have with brother?"
"Eh? Just ordinary friends. This and that --"
How could it be explained that one was the god-slaying Devil King and the other was the Hime-Miko representing the Japanese magic world?
To the honest Yuri, letting her improvise a cover up was very difficult.
"From the words just now, it's almost like the wife is a childhood friend. Legal wife and lover, looks like the rumors are true. Brother, well done, doesn't this feel just like Grandfather and deceased Grandmother back then, what a great atmosphere?"
"Eh!? What are you talking about, Shizuka-san?"
Don't treat me as the same type as Grandfather, I'm begging you...
Shizuka's words, full of subtle meanings, caused Yuri to lose her composure. Godou frowned.
No matter what, he didn't want to be compared with Grandfather.
"Grandfather and Grandmother? What was that like?"
Piqued with interest, Erica's inquiry caused Shizuka to sigh deeply.
"In all generations of the Kusanagi family, all the men have idle hands. Examples include playboy heirs who wrecked their inheritances amusing themselves with geisha, and had illegitimate children popping up out of the woodwork after their deaths. It's been over 200 years, but there really have been all sorts."
Shizuka glanced at her Grandfather who was sipping tea in small mouthfuls.
Without saying a single word for the past while, and sitting as still as air, the grandfather Kusanagi Ichirou, returned his granddaughter's gaze with a gentle smile.
"Hahaha, Shizuka. I don't quite agree with what you say about all the ancestors, but then again, not all of it is completely wrong."
"From the same bloodline, the only recent one with rare capability was Grandfather. But Grandfather was not only a playboy but there were many women who approached uninvited. Grandma sure had a tough time sweeping those pests away."
To his granddaughter's accusations, the Grandfather smiled and shook his head.
"Though I socialized with all sorts of women in my youth, but my heart was true to my wife after we married."
"I'm innocent! In general, I am totally unlike Grandfather. Personality is also completely different!"
Shizuka shrugged and ignored Godou's protest.
Furthermore, Yuri seemed to agree with this grandfather-grandson comparison and said something like 'now that you say it, it does...', even Erica seemed to be nodding her head impressed.
Sigh, such situations made one feel that the face is truly more important than the personality sometimes.
"True, personality is different, but the end result of their actions are both 'extremely alike.' I heard that others saw grandfather as a very serious person in his youth, isn't it the same for brother?"
Reflecting on himself, Godou could not argue any more.
During the past spring of this year, defeating the god of war Verethragna on the southern Italian island of Sardinia.
This ancient Persian deity had ten characteristic forms -- Wind, Bull, White Stallion, Camel, Boar, Youth, Raptor, Ram, Goat, as well as the Warrior.
Godou, who defeated Verethragna, had no intention of obtaining those powers. From then onwards, in the battles with gods and devil kings, Godou had damaged many world heritage sites.
This body was definitely unreasonable.
"Then, may I interrupt here? It's about time for dinner to be prepared. I've already readied the vinegar for tonight's hand rolled sushi."
Grandfather suddenly stood up.
Probably in order to break up the current silence.
"Just a while ago I called Sakuraba-san at the fish shop and asked him to choose some good ingredients. Why don't Godou and Shizuka go pick them up. Aya, don't forget to increase the portions for two additional people."
Grandfather spoke as he turned to smile most affectionately at Erica and Yuri.
"I hope you both don't mind staying for dinner? After all it is a rare occasion. Of course, if you have curfews or other engagements, I won't force you."
"No, Grandfather. Please let me stay no matter what."
Erica elegantly gave a bow from the side.
Seeing the two of them interact and turning out to be surprisingly compatible, Godou felt impressed. Erica and Grandfather are both people with perfect social skills.
However, Yuri on the left side --
"I, I intruded so suddenly. If I stayed for dinner, it would be troublesome right..."
"Not at all, Grandfather loves these kinds of situations. Gathering lots of people to savor his cooking, and have a good drink."
To dispel Yuri's hesitation, Godou explained to her.
However, she felt there was a problem with this invitation. Yuri was extremely surprised by the last sentence.
"Ah, ah, drink!?"
"Ah... You planned to drink today all along, right, Grandfather?"
"Is there a problem? Godou and I are definitely fine. I'm sure Erica-san won't have a problem either --"
This is the old man whose poor role model included gradually indoctrinating his middle school grandchildren with the taste of alcohol, then pretended to explain it as an early lesson "to prevent binge drinking and alcohol poisoning."
Seeing Erica's eyes flash, Godou immediately yelled out.
"Please, let's not drink tonight. Letting Erica imbibe alcohol would be catastrophic."
"Aya, Godou, the right amount of alcohol has benefits to both health and friendship."
"Wait a minute, brother, what do you mean exactly from what you just said? You're implying that you two drank alcohol together before! Please explain with details!"
"That, that's right. Kusanagi-san, please explain what transpired."
The foolish comment was equivalent to adding new fuel to the fire.
As for the grandfather, he turned to his grandson in crisis and forced a faint smile. Godou felt that expression seemed to be saying "you still have much to learn."
"Thanks for having me today. Please relay my regards to everyone."
"I'm sorry, Mariya, for forcing you to come along and making you stay this late."
It was already past eight o'clock at night by the time Yuri was setting off from the Kusanagi home.
Apologizing as he greeted her farewell at the entrance, Godou was seeing her off with a face full of shame and regret.
"No, I was happy. Please don't say that."
"Really, then that's good. See you tomorrow."
"Yes, see you tomorrow. I take my leave."
Nodding towards each other with the smiling Godou, Yuri bowed her head seriously and walked out of the entrance way.
In the end, they had dinner after talking with Shizuka. With his eyes, Godou ordered Erica not to drink, and they chatted as they ate.
To Yuri who had few friends, passing time like this was extremely rare.
Her overly serious way of speaking and elegant mannerisms were already uncommon, and basically she was never invited to go out and have fun by her peers.
She wasn't being shunned, but people just didn't want to be too conspicuous. A little unfamiliar.
Since she herself was aware of it, she never tried to involve herself in those circles either.
Just now during dinner, the one who spoke the least was Yuri.
But still, it felt pretty good.
Erica had the most to say, not only to Godou, but also with his grandfather and sister. Sometimes she even spoke a few sentences to Yuri.
Those sentences did not carry any domineering attitude, and was considerate of the other's rhythm of speech, allowing her to enjoy conversation in a relaxed manner.
As for Godou who wasn't talkative to begin with, he concentrated on eating instead of listening to them chat.
The only young man there, Godou's appetite was ravenous. However, he still entered the conversation as appropriate between moving his chopsticks to wolf down the food.
As a member of the same club, Shizuka also understood Yuri's personality to a certain extent.
The main host, Grandfather Kusanagi was a very observant person, which was consistent with his popularity with girls in his youth.
"Ah, Yuri-san. Seeing you is great, I had been trying to find you for quite a while. I beg you, please carry your cellphone with you, there are sometimes emergencies when contact is needed."
As Yuri made her way through the street of shops toward the closest Nezu station, she was suddenly greeted by a voice.
This voice belonged to the young man dressed in a suit -- Amakasu Touma.
The representative of the History Compilation Committee, an organization responsible for regulating the Japanese wizards and controlling information about gods and supernatural oddities.
"Cellphone? I am sorry but I do not think I need such a thing. However, how did you know I was here?"
To Yuri's question. Amakasu replied with an awkward smile.
"I came here by chance. As I was wondering if I would be able to find Yuri-san before you took the train, I waited here for a bit. When I called your home, they told me you had visited a fellow student's home near the school."
"Is that so... Anyway, what business do you have with me today?"
So that meant, it was because she borrowed the phone at the Kusanagi residence to call home and tell them she would be late.
Yuri asked once she understood.
"Actually there's a request for you. However, today is a bit late, so we'll make the request tomorrow."
"Not a problem. If it is all right with you, let us finish it now?"
"No. It is something that needs to be discussed at a better location. Let's make it tomorrow. To Yuri-san this should be a relaxing task. A grimoire has been rumored to have appeared in Romania near the outskirts of Croatia, so we wish for Yuri-san to help certify its authenticity."
To Amakasu who spoke rather frivolously, Yuri sighed.
"Amakasu-san, my spirit vision is not some convenient power that can 'see' everything. There are many occasions when nothing is revealed."
This mouth must be one of the reasons he has so few friends.
Yuri thought to herself as she chastised how lightly this History Compilation Committee member was taking things.
The so-called spirit vision was definitely not an all-seeing power of analysis. It was just a kind of ability bestowed by the gods on a whim like an oracle.
"Then you are too humble. Even in Milan, the origin of magic in Eastern Europe, there are no spirit vision users whose capability exceeds Yuri-san. If you can't do it, then no one else can. Hope we can cooperate, if you don't mind too much."
Amakasu began to laugh.
At that point it was useless to say any more. Yuri decided to accept Amakasu's request, especially since there were few reasons to refuse a request made in such a manner.
"Fine, I understand. I will assist you tomorrow after school."
"Your help is appreciated. By the way, when you said you were visiting a friend near school, could it be the home of Kusanagi Godou?"
Abruptly, Amakasu changed the subject.
Do people deeply involved with magic and the gods have to be wary of contact with the Campione?
"Yes... Umm, is there any problem with that? I do not believe there is any need to deliberately distance myself from Kusanagi-san."
To this answer, Amakasu shook his head.
"Oh, no problem at all. Actually, it's the opposite. Yuri is one of Kusanagi Godou's most important friends, right? Take more initiative, go to his house, or even invite him over to yours, it's all good, keep it up."
"Is that so? ...Amakasu-san, things seem to have become a little unusual?"
Yuri became a little angry as she stared at the suspicious person in front of her.
A strange premonition flowed into her heart. Unease, as well as a sudden sense of accomplishment. Could this be some kind of prediction brought about by the power of spirit vision?
"Anyway, let's talk about this in detail tomorrow. Take care... during this wonderful evening."
Waving his hand, Amakasu departed.
Translator's Notes and References
- 2LDK: 2LDK is a Japanese shorthand for an apartment with 2 bedrooms and a combined living room, dining room, and kitchen area.
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