Monogatari Series:Kizumonogatari/Koyomi Vamp 006
The old man that happened to pass-by revealed his name.
I thought his name was ridiculous, but since he saved my life I couldn't tell him that.
Even if he looked strange.
Even if he was wearing a weird Hawaiian shirt.
As long as he had rescued me---I couldn’t point any fingers at him.
But he really was a sluggish old man.....
Should I add –san to it? Should I use honorifics? I felt kind of lost--- Even though he was my savior, I didn't know his motives. I couldn't call him an enemy or a friend.
I still hadn’t determined if I had really been saved, though I couldn't make any move at this point. It would have been strange.
Firstly, I thought I should thank him.
“Thank you for saving me.”
“No need to thank me. I saw you were alone so I helped you. That’s all, Araragi-kun.” Oshino said in an innocent tone. He was uncomplicated.
That aside, the three men escaped promptly after Oshino appeared, as if on command. They were gone without a trace in mere moments. They didn’t even leave a word of escape. I hadn't retrieved Kissshot's limbs, but at least I was alive.
This Hawaiian shirt wearing man who doesn’t look like my enemy....nor Kissshot-Acerolaorion-Heartunderblade’s enemy.
"Anyway, Araragi Koyomi--- Your name sounds bottomless, by the way. This guy though, Honestly. No common sense otherwise he wouldn't have opened a barrier at a place like this. Prolly' a fellow with lots of experience."
“No need to be so alert around me, Araragi-kun. No need to stare at me. You are really energetic, did something good happen?” Oshino took out a cigarette as he said it, biting down onto it with his teeth. I thought he would light it, but he just held on to the cigarette in his mouth.
“Well, in any case, let’s go home first, Araragi-kun.”
“That cram school ruin.”
Saying it like it was obvious, as Oshino prepared to walk.
"Wait a minute!" I yelled towards his back. “You, how do you know about that!?”
“Hm? Of course I know. It was me who introduced that place to that child.” Oshino was the sort of man to say incredible words casually.
I hadn't thought of how Kissshot had come to find a place like that.....
This guy told her?
“Well, as they say: If you have Honor, you have Bravery. That child, Heartunderblade, was dragging your body. She seemed troubled, so I told her about that place.”
“You... know Kissshot?”
Oshino didn’t answer my question. He stared at me strangely, and I wondered if he had questions about my words.
“Nothing. You just called her Kissshot.”
“Those three were like that too, calling her Heartunderblade normally...... I was just wondering why you didn't do that too.”
“Because....isn’t that very long?”
What's so strange about that?
“It shouldn't be a problem, what I call her. It's not a definite rule.”
“Well, I guess that’s true. Still, you're her subordinate. That's extraordinary. Firstly, we're not talking about normal vampires. Heartunderblade is the legendary Kai killer. The iron blooded, hot blooded, cold blooded vampire.
“Vampire....you know the stuff about vampires?”
Well, it’s improbable that he didn't. Appearing from nowhere and warding off those three men. Just looking at those two points, it was evidently clear.
“You---what kind of person are you?”
“Me? Sometimes a mysterious child of the wind, sometimes a mysterious traveler, sometimes a mysterious drifter, sometimes a mysterious bard, sometimes a mysterious high-class vagrant.”
“Sometimes a female voice’s lowest range.”
“......Sometimes an alto?”
“Sometime I am, sometimes I’m not.”
“Only amended this point.....”
He suddenly shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m just an old man who passed by; that’s all.” Oshino let out a breath as he said it.
I thought he was very weird.
“Today is as so. Just so happens Heartunderblade's given me trouble before. Relax, I’m not a vampire exorcizing specialist.”
Can I believe him? No, it’s not like that. The truth is 'I can only believe him.'
“Although it’s not like I know nothing about vampires. Though, my specialty is much broader. I know a lot about many things. Anyway, let’s wait till later to do the self-introductions. First of all you should go back to the school, Araragi-kun.”
In the end, I could only follow Oshino’s words.
I followed Oshino back to the cram school ruin, even thought it was entirely possible that Oshino was a vampire exorcizing specialist targeting Kissshot.
Still, Oshino knew that Kissshot was in this cram school ruin. How else would he have known to go into the empty building on the edge of town? If he’s a different type of vampire exorcizing specialist than those three people. He could easily eliminate her. He could easily eliminate the weakened Kissshot Acerolar-orion Heart-under Blade.
Still, There was the possibility that he truly wasn't an enemy, though I still couldn't call him a comrade.
“Hey! I’m back!”
I said some unneeded stuff to Oshino (Like an old anime, my words were probably unnecessary. I understood there was no point in determining if Oshino was an enemy or friend at this point). After walking for about an hour, I returned back to the second floor ruin. Kissshot looked really happy, as if she had been tired of waiting.
She hadn't realized, though, that her plan was flawed.
“Hmm...? The guy behind..... I think I have seen that face from somewhere before?" She said as we walked in.
“That’s mean. You don't remember me?” Oshino could only smile.
“Wasn’t it me who told you about this secret base. Heartunder Blade, Kai Killer-chan.”
“Ahhh...right, that time.” Kissshot nodded.
Anyway, it looks like he didn’t lie. Oshino really had met Kissshot that night. It was certain she had learned of this place from him.
“Well?” Kissshot said towards me, her interest in Oshino waning.
Like I said, don’t look at me with such eyes full of expectations.
“Well....listen to me calmly, okay?”
I don’t know ventriloquism, or tautology. The me who avoided cell-phone calls after entering high school had an unusually low amount of speaking expertise. I got lost in my retelling of the situation with Episode, Dramaturgie, and Guillotinecutter. I failed to retrieve the limbs, and moreover I had to be rescued by Oshino. I explained all of this in a shallow manner. While I talked to Kissshot, Oshino gathered up some desks. It took me a moment to realize he was making himself a bed. Why? Was he tired? He exercised an immense, unrestrained freedom.
“Huh.” Kissshot said after listening to my story completely. She didn't seem disappointed, though ten year olds could be misleading. Then again, she was much older than me. She wouldn’t cause trouble out of nothing. It's possible she was still processing the information.
“It's troublesome that they're still working together. I thought they'd disband after attacking me.."
“At least consider it for a bit.”
“They want to completely crush me, those three men. I have countermeasures here too, but they've done too much damage to me already”
“Something something about the reward money.”
“Hm. Ahhh. So that's how it is. I see. This world is so cruel.” Kissshot laughed suddenly.
Did she think of something?
“I’m so stupid. It’s because of the jetlag.”
“What? How is this related to being a tourist?!”
Hm. I figured this was the perfect time to ask. I kept thinking about my own stuff, so I had forgotten to ask before.
“Kissshot, by the way, why did you come to Japan? Moreover this rural little town.”
“Mount Fuji, Kinkaku-ji, I hadn’t seen any of them.” She said as if it were simple. It was obviously a lie. There was no way she'd have been attacked by three weapon-wielding men if the reason was that simple. Moreover this rural little town doesn’t have Mount Fuji, or Kinkaku-ji.
But, lying so straight, it’ll be hard to counter it.
“You’re not trying to conquer Japan, right?”
I closely asked her.
She said that.
“Anyway---you couldn’t defeat those three people even at full strength? Then, your subordinate me, how can I win against those three people?”
“.....Like I said, fight them one by one.”
“They are cooperating, so that’s impossible. You said it was okay to just dillydally here, but even here, sooner or later they'll find us. “
“There’s no need to worry about that.” Oshino opened his mouth suddenly. He was lying on his side, on the makeshift bed he had made.
“While you guys were sleeping I had set up a barrier here.”
“.....Barrier?” He had mentioned something like that before too, but, what exactly was it?
“....Something like a force-field?”
“Hm, you can call it that.” I could tell the answer was far more complicated, but Oshino settled for that simple explanation.
"People who know the area very well aside, it is impossible for people like strangers to discover this place."
".....you," I asked alertly. "What exactly do you want?"
"What do you mean "what do you want?" Oshino let out a laugh. He was a strange man. How old was he exactly? Definitely over thirty, though no normal person that age would talk like he did. Thirty is the age where you're supposed to clean up and become a decent adult, right?
"Why would you help Kissshot and me? I know you're not one of them, but are you one of us?"
"You're being really mean." Oshino pulled the cigarette from his mouth, and returned it to his pocket.
"It's as I said, I had no intention of helping you or Kissshot. As for why I saved you, Man, I just wanted to. . "
"... ... I don’t understand what you said."
"I want to achieve a balance." Finally, Oshino was making some sense. "That is to say, it is my job."
"A job about communication between here and there." Oshino continued.
"See, vampires are troublesome. They're far too powerful. Not to mention, There's the Kaii Killer here. Listening to you makes it seem like they're in the wrong for attacking some weak child; that is completely not the case. This child, Heartunderblade, is an entirely worthy opponent"
"Such words of praise are really embarrassing." Kissshot said as she raised her chest. Not that it made much difference for a child to puff out their chest. I had a feeling praise wasn't Oshino's intention, but I let it be. The question now, is what side Oshino is on.
"You made a self-introduction, didn’t you say you would follow-up your introduction?"
"Oshino Meme . A free man of no residence." It was so.
"Well, just think that I’m an authority in terms of monsters. Haha, though I’m not the same as those three people, I’m not great with monster exorcizing.”
"What do you mean "Not great?""
"To put it simply I don’t like it."
"But you're not a specialist?"
"I am a specialist, that’s why I help with maintaining the balance. Essentially, I negotiate. I'm a middle-man."
Negotiation? Here and there - connecting? What is here - what is there? Clearly "Here" refers to the land of man and "There" Refers to the land of monsters. But... What side am I on?
"Monster... Great. I prefer to be called Kaii."
"This child here, she's the Kaii Killer. A rare type of vampire that can absorb energy from Kaii. That's why she's legendary" This upset Kissshot. Being ten years old she was irritable, but Oshino matched her personality. Her appearance is still different from her inside, and thus she probably hadn't gotten used to it yet. Because of this, I can't help but think it'd be best for her to return to full power as soon as possible.
"Don’t act like you know everything - brat." Kissshot was referring to Oshino. If she really is 500 years old, then calling him that should be acceptable. Oshino kept referring to her as "That Child", but that was extremely disrespectful. Oshino didn't react to being called brat. To him, it was almost as simple as a passing breeze.
"It’s just like you said, Heartunder Blade." He said plainly.
"You can’t judge using rumors --- not caring about if the opponent is human or not. However, hmm, listening to the conversion you guys just had, it seems like this matter is particularly serious. I couldn’t have imagined that something so troublesome would happen."
"Not troublesome at all. It is very simple."
"To a vampire that can live for a long time, it may be simple, but for us humans it is very difficult. Right, Araragi-kun?”
Wow. I was astonished that he had grasped the situation so quickly. It made sense. He saw me as human. On "this side". "... ... ... ..."
"En? What, your reaction was very strange – Araragi-kun, didn’t you want to change back into a human? Don't you want to be normal again?"
"No, I do ... but ..."
"If you want to become a human being, of course you’re a human." I suppose it is that simple.
Oshino returned his gaze to Kissshot plainly.
"Moreover, I’m interested in you, Heartunderblade. It's interesting that you're willing to turn Araragi-kun, your servant, back into a human. I’m interested in this point."
"Ah ~ ~ ~" This was clearly a compliment, but Kissshot reacted negatively.
"I don't care for negotiators. Don't say anything unnecessary, Brat. I've always hated people who speak out of turn."
"Speak out of turn? That's not what I'm doing. Even though I'm breaking it down, I don't intend to just rattle off randomly." Oshino Meme said, lying on the bed.
"From this perspective, I can stay on the middle-ground." Oshino said plainly.
Between here and there?
"You mean between us and the others?"
"There’s no other." Oshino nodded.
"Actually, looking at plainly, I've already helped you quite a bit. I showed you this cram school and created the barrier... You could say it was some sort of fated meeting."
"Can – can you help us?"
"I’m not helping you. I’m only lending you my strength." Oshino simply said. "Right now, the balance is off. Those guys will just continue to bully you. I don't like it, their kind of tactics.“
"Then, you – are a comrade?"
"No. Not a comrade, nor an enemy."
Oshino is neutral.
"As I said, I'm strictly along the barrier. I stand in the middle. Everything oncoming is up to you, not me. You are all swirling together, and it's up to you to retrieve the walnut in the fire. The reasons, and consequently, the results, have nothing to do with me. I can merely make adjustments to this fate."
"... ... ... ..." I looked to Kissshot, and even she seemed suspicious of Oshino.
What does this guy want?
"Ahhh, of course, this is a job so it can’t be free of charge. Travelers really need money when on the road. Right, payment. How about two million yen?"
"Two, two million!!!" Oshino glanced at me calmly despite my shock.
"I won’t press about when to pay. But I don't lend my strength for free. Without this, there won't be balance."
"... ... But, but." My only choice was to trust him. But could I really trust him? This strange old passerby? He showed Kissshot this place, and he saved me from the three men. Even the matter of the barrier aside... was he really that suspicious?
"... So, can I hear your plan?" Kissshot immediately agreed. I suppose this is the difference between an undying vampire and a 17-year-old boy.
"You say you're a negotiator but it isn't that easy. Those three people will not be convinced, and even so, you're neutral. You won't retrieve my limbs from them even if I wanted you to."
"I wouldn't even think about it. Besides, I don't know the plan yet." Oshino's words frustrated me. Though, he was finally acting for a reason more reliable than 'Just because I felt like it'. It was relieving.
"It's possible that I can do it. I'll bow my head and ask nicely. If they refuse this, it is only then I'll resort to more dangerous methods. Fortunately for us, this game can be solved with words and words alone."
"You think this is a game?"
"First of all, we'll need to split them up. It shouldn't be a problem if we do it one-on-one. Though, even you can't read their moves, Heartunderblade. So I'll need to find a way to do that." Oshino said.
"You guys have to risk a certain level of corresponding danger to do so. Don't think too much of it."
"No, that I already know. I have the determination, of course my servant also has the same."
Don’t be determined just because you felt like it. It was my determination in the first place!
"But, brat, how are you going to negotiate with those three people?"
"Like I said, ask while bowing my head - They're an easygoing bunch." Oshino spoke like if he was telling a joke. There must be a limit to Oshino's proposed Q&A. Those men are people who don't listen to the words of others. What kind of person do you have to be to think like this?
"The rest is a trade secret. Araragi-kun will then handle retrieving your limbs. If he can safely return your arms and legs, you can return to your completed form. Then, Araragi-kun will be free to return to humanity."
"I've got to get them back..." Of course the most difficult task was left to me. Even if I take them on one by one, they're still three grown men.
Dramaturgie, Episode, Guillotinecutter.
One dual wields wave-like blades. The other, a giant cross. The final is still a mystery.
Honestly, I have absolutely no confidence in winning. Though since it was for my own sake, I couldn't refuse. Still, I didn't want things to end up the way they did that night. It made no sense to fight them without tactics or reason. Might as well say today I was thinking too much. Although I wanted to be calm, I couldn't help but be anxious.
I'm like this. Kissshot too.
Like I said, if I’m fighting them again, I'd need a new strategy.
"Hey, servant." Kissshot said to me.
"I didn't bring any human currency. I'm not even certain what kind of amount two million yen is. I'll leave that debt to you."
"... ... ... ..."
"Don’t worry. This brat's skills are real - this I assure you. I watched him rescue you using my hyperopia. Despite my weak form I'm still able to do something simple like that.
"But he's not an enemy or a comrade. He's neutral."
"I didn't bet on him being a comrade from the start. If this guy was an enemy who was absolutely clear of my current position, I would have already been killed. There’s no choice even if we wanted one," she paused. "He said he was neutral, which is better than the alternative."
"... ... Ah." I hadn't thought of that.
Understanding means being very careful.
Furthermore, it's not a death sentence if Oshino's negotiations fail. His eyes weren't that cold. Which left me with only one question left.
He was just an old man who happened to pass by. 'Just passing by'... Was Oshino's presence really just a coincidence?
Meeting Kissshot just when she was in trouble, appearing just when I was being attacked. Indeed, it was far too coincidental.
I wondered if there was any meaning to it. What could Oshino benefit from this? It was too much of a coincidence. Still, I couldn't write it out.
Simply meeting by coincidence and observing from behind. It's similar to this afternoon after the closing ceremony, when I ran into Hanekawa at the school gate. Purely accidental. Thinking about it, if I hadn't met Hanekawa I wouldn't have gone to the bookstore. I wouldn't have met Kissshot, and I wouldn't have been put in this situation.
Right then, meeting this strange man... I felt lucky. I didn't want to tell him. I was a person good at only facing what he wanted. But, I felt determined, so I spoke up.
"I don't have much money saved... but if you won't press me on it, and I don't need a Guarantor... I'll bear the debt…"
I had no choice but to borrow money. Having no money at my age... I was pathetic.
"Well, it’s decided. Haha, thank you for your patronage ~ ~ ~" Oshino said, pleased by my words.
"Oh, not to mention but I'll be living here from now on. I expect you to take care of me. To be honest I'd been eyeing this place ever since I arrived in town, but I gave it to you guys after thinking about whether or not I really needed it. This town doesn't have any better ruins. Anyway, what should we do first? Should we huddle? Discuss our plans for the future?" Oshino said this, of course, while lying in his casual position. Naturally, Kissshot and I brushed him aside and refused to follow his suggestion.
I didn’t notice that it had already passed midnight.
The date changed to March 29th.
I'd say we should talk about tomorrow, but tomorrow was today.
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