The World God Only Knows:Volume 2 Chapter 1
 Chapter 1: The Accursed Game
In this world, there exist people with a superb sense of smell.
A famous producer who raised many outstanding singers was quoted saying: “A real person will definitely look dazzling.” This wasn’t just a hyperbole, but that to the eyes of a thoroughbred, musicians with potential just look as if they’re covered in light.
No matter whether they’re performing in live houses that are small or on the roadside, a producer with the ability can use his eyes to search out singers who have a chance to make it big. And the producers make their decisions based on how much the opponent sparkles.
In other words, this is called ‘The Art of Recognition’.
A sushi chef from an old shop in Ginza said,
“When walking in a fish market, the feet will naturally move towards the best fish of the day.”
This should be called the sixth sense. Only a chef like this who trained so hard in the art of sushi making could have such instincts. To an ordinary person, this could only be described as extraordinary.
The body would move on its own.
In other words, the body would ‘naturally react’ based on experience.
The chairman of a companies that manages comedians said,
“I can somewhat smell something from these young people that are continuing to grow.”
“This smell, well, it’s not whether it smells good or not, but whether it’s fragrant. Everyone’s smell is a little different. Anyway, it’s sour!”
Eh? Isn’t this just because someone didn’t take a shower?
One mustn’t be hasty and make such conclusions. At least this chairman did groom a few great comedians, and earned big bucks while managing the business. It’s probable that he could use ‘smell’ to sense other people’s talents.
In other words, he could ‘sniff out’ talent.
To raise a more radical example,
“Let me tell you. An angel is whispering to me that ‘it’s this one, this ticket will definitely rise~’, fufu.”
A genius stockbroker said this. An ordinary person would feel that ‘this is just ridiculous’ on hearing this explanation, but he did become a really wealthy man. From this pitch, one might think that he really heard an Angel whispering into his ear.
That’s probably it.
Anyway, whether this was a result gained from talent, hard work or innate experience, this ability is no different from superpowers to an ordinary person, and they used this instinct to develop into a target.
If this ability can be described through having a superb sense of smell.
Then it could be truly proclaimed,
That Katsuragi Keima had that ‘instinct’.
And that he had Heaven’s blessings.
It was completely a coincidence that he would get off from the stop—the previous train was stuck because of power outage, causing the tracks themselves to be inaccessible.
Keima, who came all the way out to buy bishoujo games, and Elsie, who accompanied him out, could only listen to the audio broadcast of the station attendant ‘Please take other modes of transport. We apologize for any inconvenience’. They got off three stops before their destination and walked out of the gantry gate. Keima used his PFP to check it out. It seemed that a bus stop near the station had a bus that would pass by his house.
Under the furnace-like blazing sun of summer, Keima was a little impatient as he arched his back and walked out.
His hands were holding onto a bag full of games.
Elsie reached her hands out to block the sun and looked a little troubled as the heat that was reflected off the tarmac road would make anyone standing around sweat crazily.
Sweat flowed past Elsie’s white face.
Speaking of which…
Elsie started to think. She had never gotten off at this stop. This place gave a rather empty feeling as it doesn’t seem as if anyone else is around.
The sunlight was really vicious and the scenery was clearly divided into light and shadow.
“…A lot of shops aren’t open.”
Elsie muttered, and thus, Keima, who was walking slightly in front, impatiently looked back.
“Elsie, what are you doing? Let’s go!”
“Ah, okay, Kami nii-sama!”
Elsie ran and chased up to Keima, and both of them walked together side by side. After moving about 200m,
“Eh? Kami nii-sama, shouldn’t we be going this way,”
Keima suddenly went into a branched road, and Elsie raised her doubts in surprise. They should be walking another 100 meters before reaching the bus stop.
Answered in a rare ambiguous manner.
“I don’t know why.”
Even he himself tilted his head in a puzzled manner,
“But it feels like I have to walk here.”
As he said that, he continued to walk forward quickly.
Elsie hurriedly chased him.
“Wa, wait for me, kami nii-sama!”
Keima turned 2, 3 times from the road to the lane, and he was walking faster and faster.
He didn’t run.
Even so, it seemed like he was pulled by something as he quickly moved his feet. His speed itself was really fast.
As the lower half of his body was too fast, the upper body that was holding the bag tilted backwards as it couldn’t keep up.
Even Keima himself widened his eyes and smirked. As his upper body couldn’t keep up while his feet were continuing to move forward, it looked really mysterious.
“Ka, kami nii-sama?”
Elsie started to panic and flailed her arms around as she chased Keima with all she had. Keima himself however continued to move down the lane.
And he walked deeper and deeper in.
He entered the deep part of a dark alley, and the darkness inside there was even a little unbelievable. Then,
Keima’s feet suddenly stopped, and it was like he finished leading them.
He regained his usual composed expression.
Elsie finally managed to catch up as she was pressing onto her knees and panting heavily. Then,
She took a deep breath and then stood up.
“Really~ what’s wrong with you, kami nii-sama?”
Elsie lifted her head and saw Keima pushing his glasses up and rubbing around his eyebrows.
Keima pushed his glasses back to its original position and raised a question.
His voice was obviously hoarse.
He reached out his slender white fingers.
Elsie looked where Keima pointed to and responded.
“Don’t you feel that the shop there is glowing? Golden, no, pink?”
On hearing Keima say this, Elsie frowned.
She instinctively looked back at Keima, and then continued to look at the shop intently. Then,
She used her fingers on both hands to press both temples and pondered for a while.
(What’s with kami nii-sama?)
She thought. The ’10,000 Old Bookstore’ written on the signboard of that shop in the alley wasn’t even glowing, but was shrouded in an ominous atmosphere. It seemed that the house itself was a little shaky. It had an outer wall with ivy climbing all over it and a tightly closed glass door, and looked really dark.
Even if this shop’s door was opened, Elsie didn’t want to enter at all.
However, it was unknown what was going on as Keima didn’t move since then as he continued to look at that shop ’10,000 Old Bookstore’.
He held his breath slightly.
There was a tinge of excitement in his expression.
Then, he started to move forward with light steps. This time, it didn’t feel as if he was dragged around by something, but something out of his own will.
As Elsie tilted her head and called Keima, his head was already on the door. For some reason, Elsie had a bad feeling about this.
Before she could finish, it was too late.
Keima let out some mysterious laughter.
And walked into the shop.
As for Elsie,
She started hesitating since just now, but because of her personality, she couldn’t just leave Keima alone and summoned her courage to follow him.
(Kami nii-sama! This shop seems a little weird~)
Her heart was crying a little. It wasn’t that she had this feeling because she was a devil. Anyone with normal judgment would be thinking about this.
This shop wasn’t normal.
What was already very cramped space had 7 large bookshelves in it, and each bookshelf was messily stuffed with books. On entering, there came an abnormal sense of pressure, as there were only books, books, books and more books inside.
The scene inside the shop was so messy that anyone would be dazed by it.
The cookbooks were placed besides the old-fashioned magazines, and more than 30 years worth of yellow school textbooks. There were encyclopedias and detective novels with the covers on the side nearly dropping off. Each book just looked completely messy, and there's no intention of letting anyone take it for convenience.
These books just looked messy as they were scattered all over the place.
The books were stacked up so high that they reached the ceiling, and even if the pages inside were all messy, they weren't arranged with and were stuffed inside the bookshelves. Origami books, documents in files, diaries with leather covers, foreign language books with locks on them, Japanese origami books, horror books with magic gates on the covers, and even books with unknown languages.
There weren't just books.
There were forgotten old records left in the shop, Buddha statues, candle altars, spiked handcuffs, Western wine bottles of unknown origins, cameras that were about spoilt and dusty plaid doll.
Even these things could be put around messily.
Were these all to be sold?
Elsie looked a little scared as she shrank her neck back and looked around.
She couldn't help but cry up. That's because an old man who looked like a boss and had wrinkles all over his face was looking at Elsie as their eyes met.
She thought that he was some decoration.
It was only when he started smiling that Elsie realized that he was a living person. His teeth were almost completely gone, and there were only 2-3 of them left. He had a cap on his head as he was sitting in a seiza position beside the cashier.
His eyeballs were yellow as he gave a mysterious smile.
This old man's head was shaking about, and he was like a tumbler that wasn't stable.
(Is, is he even human?)
Elsie trembled. She looked away, and could feel that he was looking at her, and was so scared that she didn't want to look back.
Speaking of which.
What caused this in the first place?
The moment she stepped into the shop, she had a mysterious chill.
Right now, it was right in the middle of the hot summer.
It was definitely sunny outside,
And the boss was wearing thick clothing for some reason.
Elsie immediately had goosebumps rising.
Why is this shop so cold?
(Ka, kami nii-sama.)
Elsie's eyes were teary as she looked at Keima as if she wanted help.
However, Keima was completely hypnotized and it seemed like he didn't want to be bothered by her. Ever since just now, he was flipping around in the cramped shop and energetically walking around.
He twitched his nose, and for a while, it seemed that he was looking at a certain bookshelf, only to suddenly kneel on the ground and then climb up to the area near the roof.
After a while, he came out from the bookshelf, and then disappeared after a while.
To Elsie, it seemed like Keima's ears became dog ears and his backside had a tail that grew out.
He looked completely excited as his eyes were dazzling.
“Yes! It's definitely there! There must be something here! I smell it!”
“Wha, what's with you, kami nii-sama?”
Elsie folded her arms and looked really worried.
“Fufu, this smell's not hidden at all! It's right nearby.”
His answer was too abnormal as he ran straight to a corner. Even in this mysterious shop that had tattered metal and books, that corner looked really unnatural. Elsie couldn't help but tug at Keima's collar to try and stop him.
“Ka, kami nii-sama!”
“Go away~! Let go of me, Elsie! Can't you hear it? That child's muttering. Listen! She's saying 'I'm here! Come save me! Come save me!”
“Wa~kami nii-sama's not normal. You're going to fall into another world!”
“Wait! I'll save you right away!”
“Tha, that's just a hallucination! Am, ambulance! Someone call for an ambulance!”
Keima shook aside Elsie who was holding him from behind and ducked into that ridiculous pile of stuff.
In a moment.
Right in front of the stunned Elsie.
Keima landed on that pile of stuff and slowly got up.
His eyes were glowing under the weak light. Even though his movements were a little strange, Keima's face showed a triumphant smile.
He raised the box high up.
'Favor of the Western Lantern'.
Such a label was on it, and the packaging was rather weird as there was only the side of a white-haired girl's face on it. This should be a bishoujo game itself, but to be honest, it didn't look really attractive. However, for some reason, Keima showed a look like a child finding treasure as he delightfully patted away the dust on it before walking to the cashier.
He looked serious as he handed the box to the boss who was still swaying his head.
The boss continued to smile, and Keima said adamantly,
“I understand the reason for this, and I'll definitely splurge as much many as I can on it. However, I won't just get the money out. In other words, I have two intents. One, don't bluff me. Two, I won't play along if you want to rip me off. Since this thing's put inside the shop, at least it means that it's to be sold, right?”
“Say a price.”
Keima brought his face closer in.
“Give me a price that I don't have to haggle.”
The boss remained silent for a while, and finally raised a trembling finger in front of Keima.
Keima tilted his head. The boss gave a thumbs up, and Keima frowned.
“1? 10,000 yen?”
The boss shook his head, and Keima looked indignant.
“Are you thinking of going more than 10,000...eh? That's not it?”
The boss didn't say anything, but one could feel his intent from the atmosphere. A little lower.
Keima said suspiciously, but the boss shook his head again. Keima was a little lost.
“...100...10 yen, don't tell me,”
He held his breath slightly.
The boss laughed and nodded his head hard. Keima was immediately delighted.
“I'M BUYING IT!”
“THAT'S WAY TOO CHEAP!”
He laughed as he grabbed and shook the boss' hand hard,
“YOU'RE REALLY A GREAT GUY!”
Elsie, who was watching all of this silently, placed her hand in front of her chest.
“Kami nii-sama, please start doubting a little, please?”
And couldn't help but ask.
And then, everything was too late. At this moment, Keima took a yen out to buy this game, this so-called fantasy bishoujo game called 'Favor of the Western Lantern'.
A prologue to a horror story began...
After a while,
The scene changed to Katsuragi Keima’s house. The location is the corridor in front of his room.
“Bishoujo games are really deep. Even I would sometimes be shocked and amazed by the complexity.”
On hearing Keima say this, Elsie spoke,
“We, well, kami nii-sama, I feel that something, Erm,”
“I have conquered or inspected more games than anyone else. Whether it’s the past or the future, there will be no one who will love bishoujo games more than me. That’s because I’m ‘God’!”
Keima pointed his finger at the sky, not listening to Elsie at all.
“Even I have two genres of games I can’t handle, thought this can’t be helped.”
After saying that, he took a handkerchief and pretended to wipe his eyes.
“Do you know what those genres, are?”
“I don’t know, but that.”
Keima ignored Elsie and said directly,
“Time and space.”
Elsie was curious and couldn’t help but ask. Keima nodded hard.
“That’s right. In other words, the ‘God’s window’ that only a living body has.
Elsie looked confused.
For some reason, it felt that the entire situation was hard to understand.
“No, this really isn’t hard. A simpler explanation would be that ‘before I was born…when I started playing games once I grew out of infancy, it’s impossible to play all games’, and also ‘the friendship games that were already rare or sold in limited special areas, and those unique given, rare or reclaimed products by the industry are hard to get.’ It’s just this simple meaning.”
“There were already so many games selling in Japan. It’s not possible for me to have all the games.”
Elsie was a little surprised,
“Don’t you have all the games, kami nii-sama?”
Keima sighed and glanced at Elsie.
“How is it possible?”
“I thought that the collection kami nii-sama had in the room was all the games around.”
Elsie used her fist to press against her face as she remembered Keima’s room that was used as a storeroom of bishoujo games. The room was neatly stacked with an amazing amount of games. To Elsie, even if someone told her that all the games in the world were over there, she wouldn’t doubt it at all.
Also, there weren’t just games inside. There were even ‘Initial Limited Edition’ and ‘Director’s Cut’ versions of the games, and Elsie couldn’t even tell the differences between them as they were all packed within Keima’s collection.
“…I hope so.”
Keima said in a self-mocking manner.
“But no matter how hard I try, there will be missing ones that get by me.”
But no matter what.
He added on,
“My collection of bishoujo games aren’t of genre. I guess no matter whether it’s an organization or an individual, nobody would collect more than me.”
At this moment, Elsie suddenly thought of something,
“It’s true when you put it that way.”
It seemed that she wasn’t willing to give up. However, Keima spoke first,
“I’m not really trying to force things. It’s regrettable, but amongst the games that I have never collected, most of the game data values are more valuable than the work itself. For example, a little modification to the same game, or a game that wasn’t really much, or a game that couldn’t proceed on because of a really serious bug.”
“Eh, as for that.”
“But amongst the works I couldn’t collect, there were really a few outstanding works.”
“…This fact makes me really unable to sleep or eat well. Ah, thinking about how many outstanding works I have not touched in this work, the conquest of those cute girls who are waiting for me—”
Keima pressed against his chest and revealed a pained expression.
He looked just like an astronaut who dreamt of being able to land on Mars, which no one else had done before.
The endless romance and thirst of knowledge were clearly shown on his face.
He’s an adventurer, an explorer, a researcher, and one who seeks the truth.
In this peaceful era, not everyone could show such an expression. In a certain manner, the side of his face looked extreme~ly manly.
However, he was only interested in bishoujo games.
“I’ve always heard of this rumor about a few rare bishoujo games that were cursed within the world.”
Keima suddenly diverted the topic.
“The game itself, through the network, in a specialized publication.
Elsie had a bad feeling as she silently tugged at Keima’s sleeve. Keima’s expression seemed to be full of memories as it also looked like he was looking forward.
“That game itself had an outstanding script and an enigmatic female lead. The graphics and music were all rather dated, but the potential wouldn’t lose in those outstanding works. That’s an out-of-place artifact in the history of galge, and in other words, it’s an outstanding work that probably wouldn’t exist.)
“Ka, kami nii-sama.”
“I really regretted not being born earlier as that was a game that was completed before I was born. Fu.”
“Laugh at me, Elsie. Everyone calls me ‘god’, but a human can’t overcome the biological limitations.
Elsie couldn’t laugh.
Her expression was really stiff.
“How did it end up like this? I don’t really understand what happened, but this was already a game that was released by a small company and had limited numbers. Soon after the game was released, there was a huge controversy as the games were taken back, and most of the products were taken off the shelves.”
He frowned slightly,
“Based on people who know the situation, the sold products at that time didn’t have any problems. However,”
“Rumors had it that the so-called initial version, the special editions that had only 10 sets had a problem. But that was just a rumor.”
His eyes were dazzling.
“It seemed that the original version would bring an otherworldly experience to you.”
“This is a game that’s full of mysteries, so I’m not sure if they’re real or not. However, it seemed that the original version had a design that far exceeded expectations. As for whether this design refers to the originality or the system, I’m not sure.”
“Ka, kami nii-sama.”
Elsie’s voice was trembling a little, and Keima smirked.
His eyes looked like they were infected with her fever.
“Favor of the Western Lantern.”
He quickly raised the software in his hands right in front of himself.
“This is the original version.”
On seeing this mysterious packaging, Elsie nearly screamed. Keima shook Elsie’s hand away and immediately entered his room.
He closed the door slightly and poked his head out.
“So to conquer this game, I need to shut myself a while. Please don’t disturb me!”
Before Elsie could even stop him, the door was slammed shut. After that,
“Please, kami nii-sama! Open the door! I have a bad feeling about this!”
No matter how much Elsie knocked or shook the door, the door wouldn’t open. She lowered her head and looked really dejected.
That chilling depression continued to spread inside her heart, and showed no sign of recovering.
At this moment, Elsie noticed something and knelt down. She picked up something that dropped onto the floor and continued to stare at it.
She had goosebumps.
It was a strand she never saw before.
And one that shouldn’t be here in the house, white hair that was of unnatural length.
At the same time, while Keima was locked inside his own room and when Elsie picked up the white hair, in a certain shrine that’s far away from the Majima City, a miko suddenly widened her eyes.
As she sat in a seiza position on the wooden-floored room, the knees of both her thighs were slightly separated, and her hands were placed on the knees. That straightened back and the seiza position showed serenity and discipline.
She was about 25 years old.
The candle altar nearby shone on her and the black shadow.
She had long black hair, a proper and beautiful face and dazzling eyes. It’s weird for a miko, but her lips had lipstick on. With the white skin as the background, the gloss of the lipstick made it really look outstanding.
Also, her ample breasts were supported tightly by the miko outfit. Her figure ratio was really outstanding. The shirt in front of her chest was slightly opened, and one could vaguely see the snowy-white chest. Her face was rather unique. Even though gentle, it gave a pure look.
This miko suddenly shouted.
“…So you found out as well?”
On hearing her ask this, a hoarse voice came from a dark corner in the room.
“Un. Looks like someone got that again.”
The miko narrowed her eyes and looked over, and a shriveled old granny was sitting there. It seemed that she was already over 100 years. As her clothing was extremely dull looking and she was extremely small, she could hide her presence such that she wouldn’t be discovered. The old granny slowly opened her closed eyes and looked over at the miko.
“What do you think?”
The miko sternly frowned.
And then folded her arms.
“It doesn’t feel good…maybe the ‘mastermind’s over there.”
Her white and slender fingers reached out from her sleeves.
The old granny nodded her head,
“Even I can feel that this is some unpleasant smell.”
“…Yeah, it’s really unpleasant.”
The miko’s beautiful face showed a slight frown, and said in an unworried manner,
“Besides, that thing was always hiding in these bad places.”
“…That thing returned to this world. Which means someone appreciated that thing.”
The miko stared sharply at the old granny, who in turn nodded again.
“Un, that person’s life is in danger.”
The miko suddenly got up, and at this moment, the old granny asked,
It seemed that she knew how the other person would answer.
The old granny’s sigh showed some reluctance of giving up.
“…Shino, where are you going?”
The miko’s reply was simple, looking as if she didn’t want the old granny to worry for her.
“Where else? I’m going to exterminate that thing!”
The old granny sighed.
“Even if I didn’t agree, you wouldn’t listen to me, would you…”
The miko gave a taunting look at the old granny as her expression was as sharp as a dagger,
“Do you feel that I’m not capable enough, granny?”
“No, I’m not worried about that.”
“I’m not that little kid when I was 6.”
“Un, you had been training hard during these 20 years.”
“Then are you worried about that mysterious thing that’s been living in my body recently?”
“No, I’m not worried about that. According to my divinations, you’ll soon meet someone who can handle that.”
“Then what are you worried about?”
Seeing her granny look like she wanted to talk,
“Don’t say it! I’ll listen to your muttering later. I’ll head out first!”
The miko raised her sleeves slightly and quickly walked out to the exit.
The old granny shouted, but the miko didn’t turn back.
The moment the miko stepped out of the room.
She let out an ear-piercing scream. The sight of the old granny vanished from behind her. It seemed that she forgot that there were steps outside.
Soon after, the sound of something landing on the ground could be heard.
The old granny inadvertently closed her eyes and curled her neck down.
She sighed and reluctantly opened her eyes and shook her head.
“That’s what I’m worried about…your impulsive personality really worries me.”
...As the anomaly happened mysteriously, almost everyone except Elsie didn’t realize it.
It’s lunch break. Elsie, who was cheery and beloved by everyone, was invited out by her other friends.
They were Takahara Ayumi, Kosaka Chihiro and Terada Miyako.
“Elly, let’s eat together!”
Leading this gang of friends, Chihiro called out Elsie. On a side note, the four girls, including Elsie formed a girls’ band, and Chihiro was the lead singer and the guitarist.
Chihiro’s appearance, personality and interests, all her parameters (according to Keima) were all normal. She just wasn’t outstanding. However, as she had the personality of being a big sister and had the drive to bring people around for good or bad, she often ended up being the leader.
She was the one who got Elsie to join in at the beginning.
If it were the normal Elsie, once she heard Chihiro say that,
“Okay, I would like to!”
She would happily raise her head. But today,
Though she took the bento and stood up, she looked somewhat depressed as she looked at Keima’s seat that was somewhat far away.
Terada Miyako noticed Elsie being like this and tilted her head suspiciously.
Elsie immediately gave a stiff smile,
“Ah, no, nothing!”
And then frantically waved her hands in front of her face.
Terada Miyako was like Chihiro, someone who looked ordinary. However, she, unlike Chihiro, wasn’t the type to lead others. She was someone who was steady and hardworking, and amongst friends, she’s one who would take care of others.
That’s why she noticed that Elsie was a little weird.
Miyako was the keyboardist.
At this moment,
“Alright, let’s link the tables together! Link them together!”
The ever-energetic Takahara Ayumi called them.
Her face was beaming,
As she pushed Elsie and Miyako on the shoulders from the back.
“Ah, o, okay.”
Elsie and Miyako nodded their heads after being prompted.
They’re all girls in the growing stage, and even though they would say ‘I’ve grown a little fat’ or ‘sigh, looks like I have to start dieting tomorrow’, they would finish their bread or bento.
Most notably, Ayumi, who’s from the track and field team, would eat a lot more than an ordinary person because of the calories she would use up.
“In the end, at that time, the sempais,”
Ayumi was chatting away, and when she paused, she stuffed large mouthfuls of bread into her mouth. Her cute appearance was only second to Elsie in this gang of friends. Her hairstyle had a pure sense that was befitting of a girl from an athletic club as her figure was rather slender too.
Because of this, she was rather popular in class too.
However, she herself didn’t seem to be a girl who would mind.
On a side note, she was a guitarist, like Chihiro, in the band. Whether it’s the band or between friends, she was always the one being hot-blooded.
At this moment, Ayumi suddenly remained silent, and Chihiro, who was eating potato chips, seemed to notice something too,
And glanced at Ayumi and Miyako.
Miyako pressed against her forehead in a bothered manner.
Ayumi herself shrugged, seemingly saying ‘I don’t know’.
Chihiro finally spoke up for everyone.
“What’s wrong, Elly?”
Since just now, Elsie had been putting her hand on her chin and her elbow on the table as she looked at Keima worriedly. It seems that she had not listened to Ayumi’s random chat.
Even when Chihiro called her, she didn’t respond.
It seemed she didn’t notice Chihiro calling her too. Chihiro, Ayumi and Miyako silently exchanged glances with each other and nodded their heads.
The trio shouted her name. Elsie was really shocked as she straightened her back and frantically turned around to look at them.
“Ye, yes? Wha, what’s the matter? What happened?”
Chihiro sighed. Ayumi said in an incredulous manner,
“What’s wrong? You don’t seem to be paying attention? Katsuragi isn’t so handsome that you are engrossed in him, right?”
Miyako seemed a little worried.
Elsie was giving a somewhat shy expression as she reached her hand out to scratch her hand.
“Ahaha, so, sorry.”
“What’s with you?”
This time, it’s Chihiro’s turn to frown and ask,
“Is something troubling you?”
The other two were giving off a serious expression. Elsie’s happy about this friendship, but she was hesitating over whether she should be asking this question.
She glanced aside and looked at Keima before keeping her voice down,
It wasn’t really obvious,
But Ayumi and Chihiro trembled slightly, though it wasn’t really obvious.
Both of them blushed slightly, but probably no one noticed it, even them.
Elsie nodded her head, and seemed like she was ready.
“Don’t you feel that nii-sama had been acting weird recently?”
Everyone went silent for a while.
“Wha, what are you saying~ isn’t that too sudden?”
“Oi oi, Elly. Don’t tell any jokes while we’re eating, okay?”
The trio started laughing. Elsie didn’t know what they were laughing about as she widened her eyes. At this moment, they suddenly spoke in unison,
“““That guy’s always strange!”””
And they had quite the chemistry.
It was true.
Right now, Keima had a visor on as he continued to bury himself in gaming. He curled his lips, not caring about his surroundings as he continued to play his galges.
During lunch break.
Could anything else other than ‘weird’ describe his actions?
“Tha, that’s true~”
Elsie’s fingers on both hands were spinning about, showing an embarrassing look.
“But that’s not all~”
But the other three girls were chatting away and didn’t hear what Elsie said.
“That guy’s really strange~”
That was everyone’s unanimous opinion.
From the students to the teachers, everyone felt that Katsuragi Keima was a ‘weirdo’. But when it came to his mother, she was a rather normal person.
As a female, she single-handedly settled all the matters in the café ‘Grandpa’, and even took the load of the Katsuragi family over Keima’s father who hardly returns home.
As she was once a reckless person, anyone who made her angry would have a horrible outcome. However, she was normally a good mother who would take care of people, very tolerant and very reasonable. She raised her child, Keima, who had a really weird personality (actually, she was somewhat worried deep inside), and even took in Elsie, her husband’s illegitimate daughter (though she misunderstood). From her gracious attitude, one could tell that she wasn’t someone ordinary.
From the way she courteously greeted the customers at the café counter, it may be hard to imagine that she was a mother with lots of nerves.
She was humming away, alone in the kitchen after work ended.
That skill of making delicious meals balanced in nutrition was something Elsie, a fellow female, really admired.
Elsie was beside her, helping to prepare dinner by peeling snow peas. Suddenly, she asked curiously,
Keima’s mother—Katsuragi Mari was pouring hot water as she asked,
“What’s wrong, Ell-chan?”
She sounded like she was in a good mood.
Elsie was somewhat hesitant.
Elsie still wished for the mother Mari to know about this, and she hoped to hear her suggestion.
“This may sound weird.”
Elsie approached Mari and kept her voice down to prevent Keima, who was sitting at the table in the living room from hearing it.
She swallowed her saliva.
“Hasn’t kami nii-sama been acting weird recently?”
For a moment, Mari turned around and looked at Elsie straight on, even forgetting to put down the stirring chopsticks in her hands.
Elsie looked at Mari expectantly.
She believed that if it were Mari, she would have noticed something wrong with Keima.
Mari suddenly jerked her shoulders,
And then started laughing loudly and heartily.
“Please~ isn’t that child already weird, Ell-chan?”
“Eh, that’s true, but~”
Even Keima’s own mother would call him that.
Elsie looked really troubled as she secretly looked behind. Keima was wearing the visor and playing his game. He was in the exact same position as when he was at school, and even the curled lips looked the same.
“Speaking of which, he would sit obediently at the table when it’s time to eat, so I guess there’s an improvement.”
Elsie didn’t know how to answer as she rolled her eyeballs side to side.
“Speaking of which.”
Mari’s expression went a little serious.
“Recently, the weird one isn’t my son. It should be the house.”
Mari put down the stirring chopsticks, wiped her hands off the apron and looked at Elsie.
“Don’t you feel that there’s some wind blowing in from some gap?”
“That’s strange. I can’t find any hole even after looking for the entire day.”
“The house feels really cold. I don’t know why.”
“Yeah, it’s summer now.”
“Yeah. That’s really weird. We don’t turn on the air-con normally anyway.”
Elsie looked completely teary, and Mari continued,
“The house looks dark too. Are the lights spoilt?”
She looked up at the ceiling.”
Elsie suddenly turned around curiously. At this moment, Keima took off the visor and got up. Most likely, he was going to the toilet. He slowly moved his feet and was about to leave the living room.
“The toilet is so humid, and the house was shaking for a while at midnight. It felt like someone was moving around. Should we find some people who specialize in this to check this out?”
Just when Mari used her fingers to stroke her chin as she muttered,
Elsie felt a chill down her spine.
As Keima, who opened the door and was about to leave the living room…
She couldn’t help but shriek.
Keima was showing a mysterious smile on his lips.
Elsie started to feel even more uneasy.
Elsie had a late bath today.
She was busy with housework, waiting for Mari and Keima to finish first before going in. That’s because Elsie considered that she was only staying with them for the time being, and also because she was considerate.
Even though Elsie’s face looked rather childish, her body proportions were full of charm.
She carefully washed her snowy-white skin and pitch black hair before dipping into the bathtub.
And then couldn’t help but heave a sigh.
“I was really busy today.”
In school, she had to practice with Chihiro and the rest in the band. At home, she had to clear the café, clean the house up and wash the clothes.
Thus, she closed her eyes slightly, and nearly fell asleep in the bathtub.
Suddenly, the sound of water could be heard.
She frantically opened her eyes. It was the water dropping slowly from the faucet into the basin that was full of water.
The water droplet scattered on the water surface and let out a sound.
Elsie hurriedly reached for the tap and tightened it shut.
Ploop, plop. The hot water sled from her soft white skin and landed on the tiles.
She went back to soak inside the bathtub and then used the fingertips to tap her face to shake away her sleepiness. She was thinking about Keima.
“I still, feel, that it’s a little weird.”
Ever since he bought the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’, it was obvious that something wasn’t right with Keima. Even so, like what everyone said, Keima’s actions and mannerism were a far cry from ‘common sense’. However, Elsie could tell.
For some reason.
He was weirder than normal.
No, it should be said that he was a lot weirder than usual.
At this moment, Elsie had a brainwave.
She inadvertently called out. So that’s how it was.
She finally thought of it.
The source of everything wrong.
Elsie suddenly had goosebumps even though she was bathing in hot water.
She felt her body go cold.
“I see, so that’s why…”
The reason why she felt that Keima was strange.
Was actually because he was no different from usual.
Keima got a game he never thought that he would be able to buy, and it was a game that he’d always dreamt of. However, he didn’t become engrossed in the game just to conquer it, but went to school as usual (though he was playing), he would eat his meals normally at home (though he was playing), and was sleeping like usual (most likely, he locked himself inside the room and continued to play his game.)
At what time was he playing that game?
That game called ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’.
Elsie understood well that once Keima got serious, he could break through that game at a speed that far exceeds human ability. However, even after buying the game and spending some time, it didn’t look like he managed to conquer the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’. He did explain everything about the game to Elsie. If he conquered it, he would at least describe his feelings.
Speaking of which,
The entire situation was even weirder.
Looking at what Keima would do normally, he would lock himself in the room and play that ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’ all day.
Which brought the question back,
“When was kami nii-sama playing that game?”
Right now, Elsie knew that it was a game that had to be ‘installed’ in a ‘computer’.
However, Keima would go to school as per normal and would also talk to Mari as per usual after getting home, get along well ‘happily’ with his family members in the living room.
In that case, when will he have the time to play that ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’ he finally got…
“Don’t tell me…night time?”
Elsie felt a chill inside her head and looked up at the ceiling.
The second level.
It seemed that she could look through the ceiling into Keima’s room while he was locked inside, staring at the game screen as if in a trance.
His back was arched.
And the eyes under the glasses were shining.
His mouth must be giving off that mysterious smile…
Just then, Elsie was so scared that she felt chills down her spine.
She nearly screamed inadvertently as the lights went out. She immediately panicked. Her eyes that lost sight of light couldn’t adjust for a short time in the darkness, and she could see anything at all. Thus, she stood up instinctively.
She gave a crying look as she slowly climbed out of the bathtub, watching herself to not slip and reaching her hand out as she carefully touched about in the darkness.
However, she was nervous inside.
What’s going on?
Was it a power shortage?
Did someone turn the lights off?
What’s going on?
A pile of questions spun inside her head as she frantically looked for a way out barefooted. Just as she was about to reach the door leading out of the bathroom,
Elsie unknowingly stopped her steps.
(That’s strange? What’s that?)
Her eyes finally got used to the darkness.
It was vague, but she could see the changing room through the slightly opened gap.
(Something’s kneeling on the floor.)
Her stomach felt a chill, and all her blood felt like it froze in an instant.
(Is it a person? Is someone there?)
Elsie completely forgot that she was naked. She was rooted there, and her eyes couldn’t look away from that thing.
Her teeth were trembling.
(Is it okaa-sama? Or kami nii-sama?)
How could it be possible?
Her common sense was telling her that it was impossible. If it was Keima.
If it was Mari.
Why would they crouch down over here silently and not make a sound?
In pitch darkness.
“Who are you?”
Really wanted to ask the thing, but her instincts were stopping her from doing so. That thing,
But something else.
Elsie nearly suffocated. That figure,
Started to turn slowly towards Elsie.
First, it was the face.
Then, the shoulders turned unnaturally as the upper body turned around.
That thing didn’t say anything.
What replaced it was,
Elsie let out a mysterious voice from deep inside her throat and nearly collapsed. Her eyes couldn’t look away from that thing, and she was completely helpless. Under the darkness, she could see the figure of the thing, but for some reason, she couldn’t see the face at all.
That face was completely blank.
Like a faceless ghost.
In that position,
Leaped up like an insect and stuck on the door.
And let out a strange sound.
The door was being forced open as the white hands swarmed and struggled in. The hands and feet were all messily reaching in.
Wanted to enter the bathroom.
Elsie fell back and collapsed onto the floor, and she instinctively let out a similar sound.
The shout became a scream that rocked the entire Katsuragi family.
As for what happened next, Elsie couldn’t remember at all. All she knew was that Mari hurriedly carried her naked body.
It seemed that she fainted on the floor of the bathroom.
The lights were already turned on.
She could see Keima behind Mari. He looked away, trying his best not to look at Elsie. At this moment, what Elsie thought may not be suited for this situation.
(Kami nii-sama…cares about me.)
It seemed that Keima came over after hearing Elsie scream, which made her really happy as she couldn’t help but smile. At this moment, she found that she was naked and panicked.
She used the towel to wrap her body and stood up from the floor.
On hearing Mari’s concern,
“Are you alright? What happened, Ell-chan?”
Her mind recovered, and the fear rose up in her again.
And then, she shuddered.
Elsie frantically explained to the Katsuragis what happened.
The lights suddenly went out.
And there was something of unknown origin crouched inside the changing room.
She flailed her limbs as she desperately explained.
Both son and mother, Keima and Mari merely exchanged looks with each other. Mari looked somewhat bothered, and Keima sighed.
And then Mari spoke,
“Keima and I were both awake, but the lights didn’t go out, you know? The lights were always on. That can’t be doubted.”
“In that case!”
Elsie desperately tried to convince them.
“That! That person!”
For some reason, Elsie’s instincts were telling her that it was female.
“That person must have turned off the lights!”
Keima sighed again. Mari herself smiled. And then,
“Ell-chan, you must have soaked yourself doozy inside the bath, causing that hallucination.”
Mari’s white hand was placed on Elsie’s forehead gently.
Elsie wanted to continue on. At this moment, Keima spoke,
“I say, Elsie.”
He didn’t give Elsie time to continue talking. The eyes behind the glasses flashed, and he immediately said,
“I went downstairs to the kitchen to get a drink from the kitchen, and mom just happened to come out from the toilet. We were already here less than 10 seconds after you screamed. Mom was just right in front of the toilet, so there shouldn’t be any delay in time.
“Listen to me, Ell-chan.”
Mari seemed to be really bothered.
“It is like Keima said. It was really a coincidence that I came out from the toilet. You know that the toilet in this house is right beside the bathroom, so I immediately opened the bathroom door once I heard you scream.”
At this moment, Elsie finally understood what they were trying to say.
“Of course, I knew the moment I opened the door. There wasn’t anything strange inside the changing room, and the lights in the bathroom were all on.”
Elsie’s eyes were a little wet.
Now that they mentioned it…
She may feel that everything was just a hallucination.
Thus, she accepted Mari’s explanation slightly, and felt a lot more relieved.
She still felt that it happened before…
Elsie did not really understand things at all, and used her fist to thump against her chin as she sank into deep thought.
Keima, who continued to look at her silently, sighed for the third time.
“Next time, remember not to take a bath for too long, Elsie. I’m going back to the room.”
Keima said as he left the changing room. It seemed that being with the half-naked Elsie made him really uneasy.
In a certain sense, this thinking should be logical.
Then, Mari said,
“Here, Ell-chan, hurry up and change and come to the kitchen. You look tired. Let me prepare some ginger ale to wake you up.”
She smiled and followed Keima. Thud, the door was slammed shut.
Elsie, who was left alone inside the changing room, was moaning. She then pondered as she slowly wore her clothes. She was draped in the towel as she took her underwear and lifted a foot as she was about to put it on.
She quickly put her underwear on and slowly knelt down.
Then, she used her fingertips to pick something off the floor.
Her face immediately went pale.
A long white strand of hair.
Elsie’s first response.
She pinched that strand of hair and raised it high up, and she was frantically running around the changing room. A human…no, even if it was a devil, anything that met a stimulus that far exceeded what they could take would unavoidably end up panicking.
(What? What’s this?)
She had no clue at all.
In such a place…
Is there such a strand of hair?
Elsie’s thoughts were linked together. That mysterious figure, the game software Keima bought back, and the strand of white hair that dropped right in front of his room.
And she came to a conclusion.
This strand of hair…
The strange figure’s.
“Is, is this all related? To that game?”
Her entire body couldn’t help but tremble.
Her body couldn’t listen to her as it went even colder.
“…That game kami nii-sama bought back.”
At this moment.
Elsie finally recovered, and noticed that her fingers were still holding onto the hair strand of unknown origins.
She screamed, threw the hair aside…
And then hurriedly ran to the basin to wash her hands frantically with soap. After checking that she washed it carefully a few times, she finally heaved a sigh of relief.
Then, she used a piece of tissue to pick the hair strand and dumped it in the dustbin. It was a simple action, but it felt so disgusting that she almost wanted to cry out…
She merely hoped.
To have something strange going on again.
Her entire daily life,
Was slowly being corroded by anomalies.
Like when she was lying on the bed, she would look to the window as she couldn’t sleep, and outside the window…
Though it was the second level.
There was a face tilted sideway, looking into the room silently.
It was an empty face,
One devoid of any organs.
And a brush of white hair.
Just when Elsie was about to scream out.
That face suddenly disappeared completely without a trace.
Was she dreaming?
Was this an imagination?
Or did she merely see wrongly?
Anyway, Elsie couldn’t sleep well at all.
As she was surrounded by her classmates at school.
She looked at Keima.
The sight in front of her eyes shocked her.
She nearly screamed out in broad daylight.
There was a white hand,
So slender that it was unnatural for a human that grew out from the gap between the table, sticking tightly onto Keima’s waist.
It wrapped around a few times.
Just when Elsie nearly lost her breath and remain stunned.
That illusion vanished without a trace.
Keima continued to give a shallow smile as he continued to play his game casually. And there were all sorts of commotions around them as Chihiro and the rest called out for her.
What was going on?
Was something wrong with Elsie’s head?
What exactly happened?
When bathing at home, she would find white hair flowing towards the gutter.
That was obviously not Elsie’s.
It wasn’t her hair.
She was all confused.
On a certain day, she finally couldn’t take it…
It was drizzling in the morning. Elsie felt uneasy after she got out from bed.
No matter whether it was school,
Or whether she was going home,
She felt that there was something that didn’t belong to this world staring at her from behind, and thus she continued to look behind her again and again.
Seeing her like this, even the normally careless Chihiro,
“…Oi oi, what’s with you, Elly?”
Couldn’t help but cock her eyebrows and ask.
Could only give a smile that looked as if she was about to cry as she silently shook her head.
She couldn’t explain it.
And she couldn’t ask others for help.
Once she got home, something happened that made Elsie even more worried.
Keima’s mother, Mari,
“Sorry! My mother’s house had some issues, so I need to close the shop and head back there first.”
Actually clapped her hands together and apologized.
Elsie was a little panicky.
She actually had a thought deep inside her heart.
“It’s a good thing that okaa-sama’s at home.”
Elsie felt that no matter what happens, as long as Mari was in the house, she would be able to be more at ease. However, her only hope, Mari,
“I’ll leave Keima to you then.”
Actually left these words behind and hurriedly left the house.
As Elsie opened her mouth, the door was already slammed shut.
She could feel the breezy cold wind,
Blowing into her sleeves.
After that, Elsie inspected the entire house and locked all the doors and windows shut. Sometimes, she would look at the grey sky outside the window.
It was only evening, but it was already pitch black nearby. The depressing dark grey clouds were all covering the entire sky in layers.
The icy cold rainwater dropped from the sky.
The water droplets were stuck on the glass windows.
The street lights outside the windows looked even more unnerving. As she looked at the yellow sunset that was being covered, Elsie’s depression seemed like it worked up as her body shuddered and she left the window.
As she didn’t feel safe at all, Elsie decided to watch the TV in the living room.
She had a blanket draped all over her head as she placed the cushion at her knees.
“I, I wonder if there are any funny shows…”
She continued to switch channels.
But, just on this day…
“Why, why must the cooking show be a supernatural special?”
She was about to cry.
As she switched to the news channel, the report of a sandstorm shocked her; once she switched to the comedy channel, the host would start talking about scary things.
Someone must be messing around here!
If Keima saw this,
“Why is a devil scared of these things?”
He would most likely tell Elsie off like this. However, she’s still scared.
Let out sobbing sounds as she cried and trembled. At this moment,
The door to the living room opened.
Jumped up in shock. Standing at the door,
Was obviously Keima. He used a calm tone,
To call Elsie.
“Wha, what is it?”
Elsie’s voice inadvertently shrieked. She put down the blanket that she subconsciously placed over her head and the cushion she had in her lap and stood up. Keima glanced at the blanket and the cushion for a while, but didn’t ask anything much as he clearly stated his request.
“I’m hungry. I want something to eat.”
Elsie vaguely nodded her head.
“O, okay, I understand…”
Normally, the dishes Elsie made would create quite an argument. As for her cooking, whether it was the taste, the nutrition or the appearance, she would have definite confidence in it; but Keima would grumble if the food was made for him (mainly because the appearance would cause some symptoms on Keima).
On a side note, the menu today was,
“‘Cheddar Cheese and Mururuka Steamed rice’!”
Elsie confidently served it up.
“Mu, Mururuka? What’s that?”
Keima would tell her off, and Elsie would say confidently,
“Mururuka is Mururuka. It’s an animal with a bent-nose that’s very nutritious and lives in the Sanzu river!”
“Wha, what kind of answer is that!? How can I eat such a dangerous thing after listening to your explanation?”
And start off a quarrel.
Keima actually moved his chopsticks silently and ate the food in large gulps, without complaining at all.
Elsie started to feel depressed again.
“The, then, kami nii-sama.”
That was the reason.
Keima looked way too calm.
She timidly opened her mouth.
Keima suddenly reached his hand out and skillfully took off the flower decoration on the table and started to eat in large gulps.
Elsie stared at Keima.
She looked carefully, and found that Keima was completely aloof as the eyes under his glasses were swimming.
Elsie’s expression was a little cold,
“Is the food good?”
After saying that, Keima continued to wolf the flower down, tilting his head and seemingly thinking about something. Elsie sighed and moved the flower pot away slightly.
She couldn’t let him continue to eat flowers.
Keima’s eyes were still swimming about, and the chopsticks started to flick and grab at space. After a while,
“I got it!”
He suddenly shouted and stood up. Clak. He put the chopsticks aside.
“I got the link between all of this! Now…I can solve it. Elsie, I’m going back to my room!”
“Don’t bother me.”
After saying that, he turned around and got ready to leave the café. Elsie couldn’t help it,
“The, then, kami nii-sama!”
And called him.
She thought that Keima wouldn’t stop,
Unexpectedly, he stopped at the door and turned to glance at Elsie.
Elsie panicked. Actually, she didn’t have any real reason for calling Keima. More accurately,
She was somewhat confused and anxious.
About everything that happened in the house.
All the uneasiness.
After a moment of hesitation,
“Eh, eh, well…that Lantern game you bought before, have you conquered it?”
Elsie couldn’t help but raise this question.
Keima showed blank white eyes.
Elsie gave an appeasing smile. Keima glanced at her, and then,
“Not yet. That’s a pity.”
Elsie couldn’t understand.
“It’s strange for me to say this.”
She carefully tried her best not to make Keima angry,
‘But with kami nii-sama’s ability, it seemed that it took a longer time.”
“Is, is it because the game’s hard to conquer?”
Keima was silent for a long while, and it felt unnatural. Then,
“Un, that was really a somewhat harder game. To be honest, I never thought that such levels of research on religious studies and testing of logical thinking were required.”
Keima paused for a while.
“These weren’t the problem.”
The problem was,
He gave a meaningful smile,
“This game can only be played at night…”
Elsie was so scared that she was trembling.
During this time, Keima narrowed his eyes, and his expression regained its calmness.
“Let me say this again. Don’t disturb me!”
After leaving these words behind, he hurriedly left the café. Elsie was left alone in the café, standing there blankly…
For some reason, everything felt really scary.
Elsie quickly cleared up all the plates and swept about before taking a shower and hurriedly changed into her pajamas before entering her futon. She showed only half her face from the blanket as her body continued to shudder.
“U, uu, hau~”
Her eyes were full of tears.
What’s with Keima?
What did he mean by those words?
She didn’t have any intention of sleeping. She didn’t want to sleep at all.
But, once she recovered,
“Tha, that’s weird?”
Elsie frantically wiped the drool away from her mouth.
Her blurry vision gradually cleared up from within the darkness. It seemed that she slept unknowingly.
Actually, she herself somehow couldn’t believe it.
This sense that was of an unknown origin was ever so strong, and yet she accidentally fell asleep…no,
This sleep felt like her entire thoughts had entered the darkness. It felt unnatural…thinking about this, she was shocked.
She finally realized what was wrong.
Elsie was so scared that she was trembling.
It was too strange.
She remembered she never turned off the lights.
She was about to cry.
It was unknown when it began, but everything was in pitch blackness. She hurriedly reached out her hand and pressed the switch beside the pillow.
She pressed it a few times.
Elsie’s teeth were chattering as she muttered. The lights were completely out.
“Was, was there a power shortage?”
Though it wasn’t impossible…
But what occupied her mind was the incident that happened in the bathroom a few days ago, that unknown figure crouched in the changing room.
Elsie worriedly looked around the bathroom.
She wondered whether that weird woman was crouched over there.
She let out a meaningless shout.
And then used the blanket to cover her head to forget everything that happened before. Actually, Elsie did intend to do this as she decided to escape from reality with all she had until daylight.
Elsie was determined to hide under that blanket.
She was all curled up.
The rain continued until midnight, and the stuffy humidity disappeared and was replaced by cool air that was all around.
The residence was completely silent.
The vending machine looked especially bright on the streets that were covered by night.
The clouds quickly flew past the night sky.
As the clouds moved, the moon would occasionally appear, shining on the muddy ground, appearing bright and dim at times.
The white tabi stepped hard into the puddle as a miko appeared.
“Is it here…”
She was holding onto a paper umbrella, and she lifted her head from under the umbrella to look at a café.
The signboard on that café,
Had the word ‘Grandpa’.
Elsie was determined not to leave the blanket no matter what happened. She convinced herself that if she stayed inside it, she wouldn’t have to worry about anything.
Even though she hummed to endure,
Her tears continued to flow.
She couldn’t overcome this physical phenomenon.
Just like that, Elsie was draped with the blanket, leaping up from the bed and running out of the room.
Splash. The sound of water could be heard.
Elsie was still covered by the blanket on the head like a snail as she timidly wept and dragged herself into the toilet.
As the moonlight was shining in from the windows, it wasn’t dark all around.
Though it was dim, the irritation around her felt like it was the white light that was scattered.
Even so, Elsie was really uneasy that there was no light. To be cautious, she hid in the corner and tried to press all the lights of the corridor and the toilet, but there was no response.
Was the thing called the circuit breaker broken?
But Elsie didn’t exactly know what kind of mechanism that was, and she didn’t know where it was installed. She had no idea how to handle it.
At the same time, she felt somewhat puzzled.
If all the ‘electricity’ in the house couldn’t be used,
“How is kami nii-sama playing the game?”
Even Elsie knew that a computer required electricity.
At this moment.
Without thinking too much, Elsie ran out of the toilet and shrieked lightly. Her bare toes touched something icy.
She gently took her foot back and brought her face closer to the corridor to check,
It was a puddle of water.
She looked around. The bathroom was right in front.
The door that was definitely closed showed a little opening.
“Why is there water here…kami nii-sama?”
For a moment, Elsie thought that Keima toppled something, but it didn’t look that way. That puddle of water was reaching forward.
It was like something wet was walking over.
A certain thing was climbing out from the bathroom.
Elsie immediately felt her blood froze.
She started to shake uncontrollably, and stared…
At the front of the corridor,
Something was crouched there.
That wet and slimy thing.
Lifted its face.
No, that thing,
Didn’t have a face.
It was completely smooth and blank.
That thing was wearing a white one-piece dress, and the limbs were bent unnaturally like a monkey as it crouched down there.
As Elsie watched, that thing’s limbs opened up like a crab.
In the darkness that was lit by the silvery white moonlight.
But, her body,
It couldn’t move.
She couldn’t run away.
Her voice was becoming hoarser and hoarser even though she wanted to drag her body and run away with all she had.
However, it was like that mysteriously-shaped thing was giving off a strong magnetic field as Elsie couldn’t look away no matter what.
The air on the corridor got colder and colder.
Her feet were completely stiff.
However, she was about to collapse onto the floor. Elsie was rooted there, completely helpless like a little animal facing a predator.
Just when Elsie was in such despair that she almost cried out.
THUD! That woman rushed forward.
And in the middle of the corridor, its animal-like limbs leaped up. After a long and unnatural moment of suspension.
Just as she was about to land on Elsie.
“Unclean being, back down!!”
A high-pitched voice rang from around.
A powerful yet clean impact grazed Elsie from behind.
Sending her hair fluttering forward.
The strangely-shaped woman was hit by the impact as she collapsed onto the corridor. She then flipped her body and looked over like a beast.
Elsie stiffly looked around. Behind her,
Wielding a chokutou, the sexy, tall and big miko agilely moved in front of Elsie.
Elsie couldn’t say anything.
The miko who appeared at the Katsuragis’ house for some reason raised the chokutou that had the exorcism talisman hanging on it.
And quickly rushed over to that strangely-shaped woman.
The strange-shaped woman lowered her head slightly, looking as if she was examining the situation as she looked around. Then,
She disappeared just like that, into a pile of smoke and merged with the darkness. The miko sighed.
“…She got away? Luckily, she’s not skilled enough.”
Elsie’s tense emotions immediately relaxed, and this sudden change in situation caused her to collapse immediately. The miko hurriedly supported her waist.
“We’ve got to move fast. It should be your,”
The miko stared at Elsie,
“Your brother, right? Please lead me to the boy who’s playing that ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’.”
The miko revealed a complicated expression.
“That’s a cursed game that would bring death.”
She said sternly.
At the same time.
Elsie’s hair decoration let out a sound as it reacted.
This scene was rather remarkable.
First, it was the miko who was sitting on the floor.
With the bright contrast of white and deep red of the miko costume.
“Hello, my name is Akuragawa Shino. I came from the Toyoboshi Shrine on Mount Uryu.”
She opened her lips that had a tinge of lipstick on. Her nose was rather prominent, and her eyes were clear. Anyway, she was born with this proper face. Her thick black hair was tied with a white cloth and was laid behind.
She casually gave a bow, and then lifted her white face.
“I’m really sorry for visiting so suddenly tonight.”
The body proportions of this miko were so good that even Elsie, who was sitting beside her, felt shocked. Her body curves were in sync, and the ampleness of her breasts was so great that it could be doubted if it was inappropriate for a miko to be like this.
Also, she was rather tall.
Whether it was the eye-catching face or the flexible limbs, even if she wasn’t a miko but a model, it’s possible that she could stand on a runway immediately.
As for the owner of the room who the miko was lifting her head to,
He was still sitting on the chair with his back facing the rest as he continued to play and hit the keyboard. There were many screens interlinked right in front of him.
Elsie glanced at a corner of the room.
There was a red box-shaped machine rumbling.
(So the electricity’s coming from there…)
Of course, Elsie didn’t know that it was the emergency generator. It was small, but it could provide enough energy for multiple computers. Of course, an ordinary gamer’s house couldn’t possibly prepare such a thing, but Keima, who had reached a god-like mode, was well prepared in everything.
“…May I know your name?”
On hearing this miko who called herself Shino say this,
Keima continued to face them with his back as he answered clearly.
To Elsie, Keima wasn’t really in a bad mood, and he had no intention on avoiding the unexpected guest in the Katsuragis’ house.
And he even let them into his room.
“Katsuragi Keima. That’s a nice name.”
He didn’t look like he was entertaining Shino wholeheartedly.
He was just unconcerned.
Unconcerned as he continued to play his game.
Patapata, he continued to hit at the keyboard. Elsie was entranced by the graceful movement of those fingers that were smooth and quick, like a pianist.
Shino’s eyebrows twitched.
She slightly increased her volume,
“You do know what kind of game are you playing, don’t you?”
Elsie was so scared that she curled up.
Actually, she was already curious since just now. Of the many screens, only the screen in front was lit up, and it should be showing the game screen of the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’. Ever since she started living together with the ‘God of galge’ Keima, Elsie learned some aspects of galges, so she could tell that the screen was a lot different from an ordinary galge. First, the screen was really dark.
On the black screen, the white words were scrolled down quickly.
Keima was looking at those words normally, but Elsie couldn’t understand what seemingly meaningless paragraphs of words there were. There were a lot of calculations and English technical terms. If it were an ordinary galge, what appeared on the screen should mostly be the illustration of the female lead and the images of the streets, but this game didn’t seem to have any of these.
No, there should be, but the way it was presented was abnormal.
The black figures that were no different from shadows suddenly glided across the screen and disappeared. A normal looking girl who seemed to be the female lead suddenly appeared without warning and then went away like she was curled out. Other than that, the scene of a dump would be shown from time to time. ‘I want to die, I want to die, I want to die’. Red text streamed on it. To be honest,
Anyone watching this would find this really scary.
Keima didn’t answer as he merely tapped at the keyboard gracefully. After a while, he moved his body aside and moved his shoulders,
And narrowed his eyes as he continued to watch the screen.
It seemed that he was only moving his body.
Seeing Keima like this, Shino was obviously anxious.
She grabbed her crimson red hakama.
“…Can’t be helped. Looks like I have to start explaining that game from its origins.”
She coughed dryly, seemingly to motivate herself, and then spoke,
“Though I’m not really well-versed in this.”
She said as an opening.
“About 20 years ago, a man’s idea was rather mysterious. That game…it should be a galge or something, right?”
Keima didn’t answer.
Shino gritted her teeth,
“I have no idea of the genres of games. If there are any mistakes, please forgive me.”
Keima still didn’t respond, and as Elsie was breaking out in cold sweat, Shino seemed to have given up.
“…The designer for that galge was a man called Mogami Takeshi. According to my investigations, he seemed to be a genius in this line of work. Eh, his works include the ro, road to decadence or something and the first something.”
“The ‘Daily Life leading to Decadence’ and ‘the First Murder’.”
Keima immediately corrected her. He was still facing the screen as he said calmly,
“Mogami Takeshi was a scriptwriter, programmer and original artist for a galge, and he was a genius who balanced on the verge of generations. His signature works were the ‘Daily Life leading to Decadence’, ‘the First Murder’ and the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’ I’m playing now. He had very few works, but he had a system that far exceeded its time, a brand new kind of script and an advanced human portrait, which amazed lots of galge players then. He was really a genius, but it’s too bad that he died in his prime.”
This time, the reason Shino was silent was different from before.
Then, she seemed to be motivated.
“It seems that you understand the game extremely well. Anyway, the problem in question is that Mogami Takeshi.”
Keima went back to being silent. Shino looked serious as she continued,
“Keima-dono’s view of Mogami Takeshi was that he was a genius who verged between the times, but to me, I feel that he was too greedy about his own work.”
Elsie, who never interrupted, tilted her head. Shino nodded her head hard.
At this moment, she was a little hesitant on how to explain it.
“…That person wanted to instill a soul into his own work.”
Keima stopped his hands that were typing. Elsie looked like she wanted to cry, and for some reason, it seemed that the topic had developed in such a way that she didn’t want to hear it…
After checking that Keima was listening seriously, Shino continued,
“I’m not sure as a religious person, but amongst creators, it seemed that there would be people who would head down the wrong path? Do you know of Akutagawa Ryuunosuke’s short story ‘Hell Screen’? It was about an artist who wanted to draw his ideal work and watched his own daughter get burned to death, right?”
Shino paused for a while, pondering over whether she should continue,
“…Mogami Takashi and the artist in that work, Yoshihide, seemed to be of the same kind.”
Elsie and Keima remained silent. The generator rumbled, and Elsie was a little scared as she couldn’t help but look around.
For some reason, she felt that the pale woman hid somewhere, like under Keima’s table or behind the cupboard that was full of games.
She just couldn’t relax.
“…It’s only temporary, but I set a boundary, and I’m here, so there’s no need to worry.”
Elsie was shocked, and found Shino smiling at her. It seemed that she intuitively detected Elsie’s uneasiness. Elsie answered with a nod and a stiff smile. Shino then turned around and continued,
“There are ‘evil spirits’ in this world.”
Elsie and Keima understood that this was becoming more believable. Shino showed a cautious expression.
“This isn’t speculation now. According to word of mouth, that was the vengeful spirit of a woman who was killed in unaddressed injustice, but I feel that it was the result of the unclean beings we purified being collected and existing before the legend spread. That thing had always been sealed inside our shrine.”
She looked afar,
“…Deep inside our shrine were many barriers. We used the stone gate to lock her inside. The grandmother of my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother had always used a ritual to seal her inside to prevent her from escaping and harming humanity. However,”
Shino suddenly showed an unhappy expression and continued,
“Unexpectedly…someone undid the seal while we were off guard.”
Elsie widened her eyes. Keima still had his back facing them, but he was obviously noticing Shino’s actions.
“That person was the man named Mogami Takeshi.”
“Let me repeat this again. To be honest, I don’t understand the author’s intention.”
After some silence, Shino added on,
“However, I know that this man called Mogami Takeshi is a genius. After undoing that seal that even we didn’t really understand, he put a part of it into his work.”
Elsie looked shocked and suddenly looked at Keima. However, Keima didn’t look back as he merely let his back slide down the chair.
He seemed to be thinking about something. Shino continued,
“It was said that Mogami Takeshi’s dream was to make ‘an unparalleled game’. Like the name suggests, he wanted to ‘make a work with all his soul in it’…that was what I knew when I investigated him. Many people noted this.”
Shino noticed Elsie’s stare and gave a somewhat self-depreciative laugh,
“Don’t look at me like this. I did lots of investigation on that guy, though my movements were slower than his by a lot.”
She narrowed her eyes slightly, and looked somewhat cold,
“…How is it? Any thoughts on playing this game? Is the game Mogami Takeshi put all his soul into his that amazing?”
And asked Keima.
Keima didn’t answer.
“However, I really never expected to meet the main body of the ‘evil spirit’ over here…”
Elsie, who was trying her best not to speak out, stammered and asked courteously,
“Erm, tha, what’s the point of putting tha, that ‘evil spirit’ into the game? And,”
There was something she always wanted to ask,
“What’s that pale woman? Is that the true identity of the ‘evil spirit’?”
Shino spent some time to collect her thoughts.
“I heard that the ultimate aim of Mogami Takeshi was to present real ‘horror’. What I want to say next was all I know in my investigations on him, and not my own personal view, so please understand. It’s said that his view was to ‘make a game as close to reality as possible’.”
On hearing these words, Elsie couldn’t help but look back at Keima.
Keima’s back didn’t move at all.
Shino then continued,
“Both of you do know of the ‘suspension bridge effect’? When a boy and a girl are in an unstable state and feeling terrified, it would be easy for them to fall in love.”
Elsie used her fingers to stroke her chin.
“Chihiro-san…my friend at school said that it’s best for a couple to watch a horror movie together. Is it something like that?”
“That’s basically it.”
“…That’s the basic of basics. In other words, even after reaching the end, the genius still went back to the origin, right?”
Keima muttered to himself. Shino glanced at him,
“That person…Mogami Takeshi seemed to feel that only the deepest fear would cause an unparalleled romance. To prevent this fear, he used the Red-Ogre as the final element. That should be the way to describe it, right? That’s basically making the sticky blood in a haunted house real or using a real corpse to film. For a human, such thinking is crazy.”
She said calmly,
“To be honest, whether it was a crazy thought or not, I have to really respect his acute sense to use the ‘evil spirit’ that’s sealed in our shrine.”
Elsie remained that pale woman and felt chills deep inside.
“That’s because…that thing was really inauspicious.”
Shino sighed and shook her head. And then, looking like she wanted to motivate herself again,
“Anyway, Mogami Takeshi stole the ‘evil spirit’ from our shrine and installed the main body into his game. What you saw was her clone.”
“Or a part of it.”
The miko properly explained things,
“The ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’ could roughly be divided into two types, the original and the copy…I’m not really sure, but there’s something called original and replicate in the gaming realm, right? Even though the original was the only one who had the ‘evil spirit’ sealed inside, there would still be remnants of the soul left inside the copy, and thus, the effect Mogami Takeshi wished for was created.”
(This is the original version of the ’Favor of the Western Lantern!)
Remembered the moment she saw Keima shout.
In other words, was the game Keima’s playing now the ‘main body’ Shino said?
Elsie was trembling.
As for Shino,
“…Playing this game will cause the plot to move on, and the unsealed parts of the ‘evil spirit’ will look for the sealed parts just to become one. Of course, the copy itself an ‘evil spirit’ of comparable power.”
Un, she nodded.
“The level of horror wasn’t something that could be experienced in an ordinary haunted house. The evil spirit will slowly close in, and the house would have lots of strange shadows, the sound of weeping, houses shaking, people getting nightmares. Un, supernatural phenomena. The ‘evil spirit’ would start to look for its other parts, and most people would not be able to take this fear and give up. However, it seemed that quite a few people went mentally ill or damaged their bodies.”
“…So that’s the reason why there was a recall after it was released on the market.”
Keima muttered. On hearing him say that, Shino muttered.
“Whether it’s the original or the copy, by breaking the copy, the ‘evil spirit’ would be forcefully destroyed. In other words.”
“By conquering this game, the soul of the ‘evil spirit’ will disappear, right?”
Keima kept his back facing them and said that directly before looking at the game screen and tapped away at the keyboard. His actions even made Elsie speechless.
As for Shino,
She narrowed her eyes somewhat unhappily.
Was this guy even listening to me?
She should be thinking about that. Shino coughed dryly.
“That’s right. However, these copies…really have the remains of the ‘evil spirit’ on it, and no one was able to conquer it. Luckily, no one ended up losing their lives, but everyone lost to the curse of that ‘evil spirit’.”
Keima casually looked at the gaming screen. It seemed that Shino finally couldn’t take it as she slowly got up and said,
“You…what do you think happened to Mogami Takeshi in the end?”
Her words had fury in them.
Elsie gave off some cold sweat, and Keima merely glanced at Shino,
And continued playing the game. Shino smirked.
“In a certain sense, he got what he wanted. No, most likely, he expected this. In other words, he left this world after witnessing his own masterpiece completed. In other words,”
And then said,
“That guy, he was killed by the ‘copy’ of the ‘evil spirit’ just when the game was about to be conquered.”
Elsie was so shocked that she backed away. Keima muttered,
“in other words, he tested the original himself…what an idiot.”
Just when Shino wanted to close in on Keima, Keima, who never looked back, spun his chair around,
And pushed his glasses, staring straight at Shino.
“It’s not that I don’t understand how terrifying this game is. Who do you think I am?”
Shino was inadvertently shocked by his aggression.
He was just a boy.
But even a miko who was trained for many years was shocked by him. Keima continued,
His voice was calm,
“I have been betting my life on this game.”
And then smiled suddenly,
“Up till now, I’m not scared of any evil spirits.”
As for Shino,
She was so shocked that she couldn’t answer back.
“Your…brother is really weird.”
The next day.
Shino said to Elsie in the grandpa café. Elsie said to Shino that it was alright, but she said that ‘I have to bother you for a while here’ and half-forced Elsie to let her help out in the café. On a side note, as for Keima’s mother Mari,
“So the father’s out working and the mother’s here as well? Uu~un, the days ahead may not be peaceful, so it would be good for the mother to be out.”
“Sorry, Ell-chan! It seemed that the quarrel at my mother’s house may last a little longer, so it looks like I can only go back after a week! I’ll leave Keima and the café to you then for the time being!”
Luckily, the phone call with Mari was like this. Anyway, the uninvited guest to Keima and Elsie, the miko Akuragawa Shino looked like she may be staying with the Katsuragis for the time being.
Shino’s plan was rather simple.
“Katsuragi-dono said that he wanted to conquer that game.”
“During this time, I will protect Katsuragi-dono even if I have to risk my life.”
That was her plan.
When Shino raised this plan last night, she was kneeling on the floor as she bowed to Keima.
“Right now, Katsuragi-dono’s playing the original version of the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’, which means that half of the main body of this ‘evil spirit’ is sealed inside. If we destroy this game, we can destroy half of the ‘evil spirit’, but we can’t deal with the other parts that were scattered, and if we lose half of it, we won’t know what will happen to the other half. If we want to destroy that thing completely…that ‘evil spirit’, there’s no other way but to conquer the game.”
Keima didn’t respond as he continued to stare at Shino.
“I know this had no benefit to Katsuragi-dono, and to be honest, I can’t assure that you will be completely safe, but, but!”
Seeing Shino so serious, Keima sighed and shook his head.
“…It’s alright. I never thought about getting any benefit, and never thought of letting you assure my safety.”
Shino seemed to be really anxious,
“The more you play this game, the more half of the ‘evil spirit’ will close in on you, which means the burden on you will be even greater! To be honest, your life is in grave danger!”
At this moment.
“…What evil spirit?”
Keima interrupted Shino with a stronger tone.
“What mission of your shrine, what evil spirit, it doesn’t matter.”
He again showed those dazzling eyes and swung his hand.
“Want to conquer all the galges personally. That’s my only aim!”
Shino was speechless. Keima’s expression suddenly softened as he showed a little smile and patted Shino on the shoulder.
“Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing how you take care of that monster. We’re all amateurs in that aspect.”
After saying that, he yawned and left.
“This game can only be played for an hour when the demons come out. I’ll take a shower first.”
And left these words behind.
Shino shook her head.
“Does he really have guts…or that he didn’t think too much?”
Elsie didn’t know what to say too. Even she couldn’t understand Keima at times and not understand what he was thinking.
And she maybe did not understand what he saw.
He had never taken back his words on anything he promised before.
As long as Katsuragi Keima says that he will conquer it, he will definitely do so.
No matter how much danger he would have to bear.
No matter how many threats there were in front of him.
He would definitely believe in himself and advance forward.
She was scared.
She was really scared.
Maybe she has to face that horrifying thing again.
If possible, she really wanted to leave this place.
Elsie had an intense thought.
The one who will protect Keima would definitely be…
The one who will be with him will be…
Elsie glanced at Shino. Actually, last night,
“That person had a runaway spirit.”
She told Keima this last night. Immediately, Keima hesitated a while.
“I see. But in terms of the outcome, it should still be the same. That’s because the inner emptiness in that weird miko definitely has something to do with the ‘evil spirit’.”
But he immediately concluded.
“I guess that once we beat the ‘evil spirit’, we can fill the emptiness in her heart.”
Elsie agreed wholeheartedly with Keima’s view.
Unbelievably, even though Elsie’s viewpoint was completely different from the god-like observation skills of the god of conquest Keima, she came to the same conclusion.
That was because Elsie was a member of the runaway spirit capture squad.
Elsie stared at Shino and thought,
Just as she was chasing after runaway spirits, this person should be chasing after ‘evil spirits’ too. From the conversation yesterday, it seemed that this person had bet her entire life on it.
And it seem that she was unlike Elsie, who had a reliable and respectable partner like Keima, and a colleague who was aiming for the same thing like Haqua.
If not, she wouldn’t have appeared alone.
Shino found that Elsie’s eyes were a little wet, and showed a somewhat surprised look, but immediately smiled.
“…What’s wrong? What happened, Elsie?”
For some reason, this miko was being courteous and understanding to Elsie all the time.
“Ah, nothing! No, nothing!”
“Fufu, you’re really weird. But you’re amazing. You’re taking care of your brother and even helping to manage the shop after school.”
In the morning, Shino once said, “Looking at you, it reminds me of a little daughter with a relative.” Though she looked serious and had an aggressive presence, to put it, she should be someone with lots of maternal love. Elsie smiled and thought. At this moment,
The bell chimed. A customer’s here.
“Oh, customers. Elsie, I just need to greet them, right?”
Elsie immediately nodded her head. Shino hurriedly moved towards those two male customers.
“Ah, wel, welcome.”
Shino was still in her miko outfit.
She called it a traditional outfit, but the customers who entered would be shocked. They only came here for tea, but found a miko wearing crimson red hakama here.
They stared at Elsie, who they were familiar with, and saw her earnest smile.
--This didn’t look like a comedy show.
Just when the customers were hesitating.
“This way, please.”
Shino let out a mature and charming smile.
“Here, this way.”
She nodded her head and stood properly in front of the two customers. The fragrance scattered all around, and the two male customers were stunned.
“Ah, tha, thanks.”
“We’ll leave it to you then.”
The two male customers looked confused like foxes and followed Shino to the seats near the windows. Elsie heaved a sigh.
On hearing that she wanted to wear the miko outfit and stand in the shop, Elsie was confused at first, but Shino herself was a miko trained in traditional and highly elegant ways, and was extremely polite (for a café waiter, this is extremely underappreciated). Her mannerisms were rather refined too, so it looked like things would be alright.
Also, she looked like she could cook and knew how to brew tea. Once she could get along with Elsie, even if Mari wasn‘t around, maybe they could operate the café without resting. To Elsie, she hoped to at least help out in this way for Mari, who she respected and was really fond of.
Ring, the bell chimed again. Another customer was here. Shino smiled at Elsie with her eyes, indicating that she wanted to lead the customers.
Elsie smiled and nodded her head.
It seemed that Shino’s response was rather quick too. Elsie walked towards the customers Shino just led and took their orders.
What they wanted was red tea and coffee.
“E, erm, who’s that big beauty? A new waitress?”
“Why is she wearing a miko outfit?”
These two could be said to be old customers, so they secretly asked Elsie. Elsie gave an ambiguous smile, said a few words and hurriedly ran away.
She returned behind the counter and poured out red tea and coffee. During this time, Shino took the orders of the second group of customers and led another group of customers to their seats. Just as Elsie prepared the coffee and tea.
“I’ll send it. Table 2, correct?”
Shino asked as she smiled before taking the tray of red tea and coffee.
Elsie really felt that she was amazing.
Her movements were so fluid, so graceful.
Right now, the customers in ‘Grandpa Café’ (who coincidentally were all male) were all staring at her in an intrigued manner, and were even looking at every single action Shino took in a rather perverted manner. It seemed that she had a heroic and yet mature ambience around her that caused her to capture the hearts of everyone.
Actually, even Elsie thought that she was really a mature beauty. That gentle smile, elegant etiquette and the somewhat quaint but clear manner of speech.
At least, there were very few people around Elsie who were like this.
Normally, the ones Keima would conquer or the ones Elsie would interact with were mostly girls in their teens or slightly older, and most of their personalities weren’t too stable. It was rare to see a mature and reliable woman like Shino who was already aware of herself.
Elsie nodded her head as she thought that she should look up to Shino as she continued to prepare drinks for the other customers. At this moment,
The screams and breaking of porcelain could be heard.
Elsie couldn’t help but close her eyes and cringe. After a while, she finally opened her eyes, and what appeared in front of her was,
“So, sorry! Are you al…!”
The knees of the customer were drenched as he frantically shouted in agony as he was scalded. Shino wanted to help, but ended up tripping and creating a second disaster.
CLANK! The cup broke again, and the one who was scalded by the coffee shouted,
The number of people who were caught in this ended up increasing.
Could only stare at this scene in a stunned manner…
It was hard to tell, but Shino was a very careless girl, and Elsie didn’t take too much time to realize this.
Just like that, Keima and Elsie would head to school during the day, and Elsie and Shino would take care of the café after school. At night, Keima would start playing the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’ for an hour from 2am on. This happened for 5 days.
As the sun set, after Shino finished her fast and bath, she would set a new barrier throughout every corner of the house (Using straw ropes to surround the house and adding talismans on them). Then, she would sit in a seiza position in front of Keima’s room and silently keep watch until daylight.
The amazing thing was that as long as Shino concentrated, the atmosphere in the Katsuragis’ house would become clearer and clearer, until even Elsie could detect it.
Thus, Elsie, who originally couldn’t sleep well, could finally get a good sleep recently.
She personally felt the care of others.
This really made her feel secure.
Also, Shino would put a weird-shaped crystal talisman on Keima every time Keima went to school or came back from it. From then on, there weren’t any mysterious phenomenon at school or other places.
According to Shino,
“It’s temporary, but those little things, and even ‘evil spirits’ can’t touch him in the day.”
That was it.
And as Keima and Elsie went to school, Shino would take a nap. The opening time wasn’t long, but once they got back home, the café would open till evening.
During that time, Keima would play his games as per usual.
The amazing thing was that even though Shino messed up the café the last time, the number of customers that came continued to increase.
Even though Elsie couldn’t understand
“I heard that there’s a careless, sexy and mature miko here?”
But it seemed like a lot of people talked about this incident and liked it. There were many customers who came here because of Elsie’s attire. It seems there is a demand in the market for this.
Every time Shino,
Accidentally spilt drinks, like tea, onto the customers,
Many customers would scream, but their eyes would look like they’re smiling, and the other customers would give envious looks and say something like ‘I’m so jealous’ or ‘can you spill it near me?’ or something like that.
It felt like there were a lot of chaotic things.
She really hoped for things to end quickly and that Mari would come back.
If this kept up, the future of ‘Café Grandpa’ may develop in a strange manner…
But other than that, the days were rather peaceful and smooth sailing. Ever since Shino appeared, the mysterious presence and the phenomena all disappeared without a trace, and the Katsuragis’ house had a rather peaceful atmosphere.
Elsie thought that there would be a lot of things happening and made her preparations already. Thus, to her, this was a little depressing.
Except for that hour at night, Keima would continue to play other games as per usual. Even when Shino told him that ‘this involves lives’, he didn’t look like he was motivated at all, as he was merely rather docile as usual, a weirdo that’s a little strange.
His daily schedule would be to head to school, play games, and eat the meals Shino made for him (though she was really careless, her skills were decent), and would only conquer the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern at night. According to him, the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’ was slowly being conquered.
“This game’s tough, but the ending’s nearly there.”
Keima said on the morning of the 7th day.
He pushed his glasses and let his lens shine as he declared,
“I’ll conquer it tonight!”
In this aspect, Keima’s prediction would never be wrong. He definitely wouldn’t be mistaken at this crucial moment. Since he said so, it meant that the ending was already right in front of them.
Elsie heaved a sigh of relief.
Perhaps it was because Shino’s power was too strong that those demons couldn’t approach them.
She finally couldn’t help but,
However, the other two had different views.
First, Akuragawa Shino was extremely cautious as she bathed herself again. However, it was merely pouring water onto herself inside the Katsuragis’ bathroom to purify herself, though it does follow the procedure.
She was fervently splashing water onto her white naked body.
Every time she splashed once, the presence that Shino released would become cleaner. She wasn’t as optimistic as Elsie, but was already mentally prepared somewhat.
(Tonight…we’re going to settle this.)
Her spiritual sense detected something. It was that the irritating presence that wanted to enter this house was becoming stronger and stronger every day.
Before that, that thing was definitely sealed off outside Shino’s barrier.
However, that thing didn’t give up.
Actually, it was the complete opposite.
That thing was waiting silently.
For the moment its powers peaked.
There was only one chance.
The moment right before Keima conquered the game.
This miko stood up naked and looked up at the ceiling.
(I’ll have to settle this with that thing…)
The moment she was about to leave the bathroom.
She slipped and fell backwards awkwardly. Her feet kicked the shampoo and the bathing foam, letting out a loud thud. That sound was so shocking that even Elsie, who was changing the towel outside, couldn’t help but cringe…
At the same time.
Keima, who was playing the PFP a while back, stared at his hands.
The PFP was placed on the cushion near him.
The female lead in the game asked. As he put down the game, the self-disciplined AI gave the most appropriate question.
“What happened, Keima?”
He systematically answered as per the system,
And then smiled so that the character in the game wouldn’t worry.
“Really, it’s nothing…”
However, his eyes were sharply narrowed into a fine line as he looked up at the ceiling.
Secretly made his determination.
The dinner tonight started under a peaceful atmosphere as Elsie was the only one chatting away excitedly. However, she noticed that the other two’s faces were rather grim and held back.
“We, well, Shino nee-sama, your skills are really good, you know?”
On hearing her say that,
“Un? Ahh, my grandmother taught me…”
The miko merely smiled and looked back at Elsie before being lost in her own thoughts again. She looked a little nervous.
It was rare to see her so anxious like this.
Elsie felt really uneasy.
“Tha, that, kami nii-sama, okaa-sama, she,”
And then turned to talk to Keima,
“…Un, I do have a mother.”
Then, Keima looked unconcerned as he continued to be immersed in his game of PFP. Even though he had spent a lot of effort trying to conquer that ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’, it seemed that he left that world completely.
He said that the ending was near, which meant that it should be true.
Then, she just needed to ask when the game could be done.
An indescribable tense feeling surrounded him.
Elsie was really affected by this,
“I know you have a mother!”
“Un, I have a father too.”
“I KNOW THAT!”
For some reason, Shino chuckled, and for some reason, Elsie felt really awkward as her face went red.
“Re, really~! Kami nii-sama! At least stop playing when you’re eating!”
“Un, I still have Elsie.”
At this moment, his hand suddenly jerked.
Elsie was shocked.
Keima clicked his tongue and used his left hand to hold his right wrist, but his hand continued to jerk.
Keima stared at Shino.
“I’ll leave it to you.”
Both of them understood each other. It seemed that they knew that Keima was starting to be affected by the soul.
On hearing his words, Shino immediately nodded her head. Elsie gave a crying look,
“Ka, kami nii-sama!”
It’s rare for Keima to give a gentle smile.
“You must believe in me.”
On hearing these words, Elsie finally realized the seriousness of this and looked really affected, thinking that she was so stupid.
Things haven’t ended yet!
“I’ll go take a nap first.”
After saying that, Keima stood up with his hand still shaking. Shino herself closed her eyes. Elsie looked lost and said,
“Tha, tha, that!”
Keima merely glanced back to look at Elsie and left the café. Elsie really wanted to catch up, but at this moment, Shino spoke,
“Don’t go after him.”
She stopped Elsie.
“I finally understand. He,”
Shino quickly opened her eyes.
“He is a strong-willed person.”
“He’s ready. I’m ready. You should be ready.”
“What you should do is not get in his way.”
Elsie looked like she couldn’t accept it as she puffed her cheeks. Shino stared at her,
“You hear? No matter what happens next…got it?”
You can’t leave this house.
You can’t open the windows.
And no matter what happens, these are to be followed.
This was what the miko instructed.
Then, the miko headed towards Keima’s room. Elsie was uneasy as she moved between the café and her own room, but still did not know what to do. Thus, she tied a scarf on her head and tied her sleeves with her belt.
She took her broom out from the storeroom and put it aside.
Elsie was trembling throughout as she wanted to at least use the broom as a weapon.
If she could last through today, Keima and Shino would definitely win.
She turned on all the lights in the house, brewed some tea and went to the living room to watch TV. Even though the contents of the program may not be able to enter her brain, she just wanted something to distract her.
Every 5 minutes, she would look up at the clock hanging on the wall.
Time passed so slowly that it was infuriating.
Whether it was the stupid comedy channels or the international channels she normally wouldn’t watch or the boring education program, she just wanted to have some sounds and light.
Sometimes, she would feel like sleeping. At this point, she would slap herself to wake herself.
By midnight, she was drinking tea continuously to keep herself awake and stared at the midnight channel with a blurry look.
The time ticked and showed 2am.
The time the demons come out.
Conquest began. Elsie unknowingly looked up at the ceiling. Was Keima watching the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’?
Elsie clasped her hands and closed her eyes tightly.
(Please do your best.)
She prayed to this one ‘god’ that she knew of, the strongest one.
At this moment,
DING DONG, DING DONG! The Katsuragis’ house bell rang…
Elsie went completely frozen at first.
Then, she didn’t know what to do as she frantically looked around. However, the doorbell continued to ring.
It continued to ring.
The sharp sound invaded Elsie’s mind.
DOK DOK DOK.
Then, it was the forceful knocking on the door.
In the midst of this sound,
There was a soft sound,
A soft yet familiar sound…
Elsie first held the broom like a spear, and then walked towards the door. However, she didn’t want to answer the door at all.
However, she just had to go over.
DOK DOK DOK DOK!
DOK DOK DOK DOK!
The bell of the answering machine and the knocking of the door rang. Elsie felt dizzy, and the sounds didn’t even stop as she came to the corridor.
Not only that, it got even more agitated and loud.
DOK DOK DOK
BAM BAM BAM.
Elsie slowly moved towards the door and pointed the broom at the door as she trembled.
Her trembling hand caused the front end of the broom to shake as well.
She couldn’t let out a voice.
The throat was all stiff.
There was someone screaming on the other side of the door.
It was a person Elsie was familiar with.
Seemed to be shouting something.
“Ah, uu, u.”
Still couldn’t talk.
The voice came in.
Into her ears.
“Ell-chan! Save me! There’s a strange monster! A strange monster’s chasing me~!”
It was Keima’s mother.
The one Elsie respected and loved.
The voice of Katsuragi Mari.
“Save me! Faster! Open the door!”
Elsie was all teary. Someone reminded her.
Shino reminded her over and over,
No matter what, she must not open the door.
“Ell-chan, please! Uu, please, the monster…monster.”
She couldn’t do it.
She couldn’t leave her like this.
She couldn’t leave Mari like this and pretend that nothing happened.
Elsie just couldn’t do it.
Even though her eyes were full of tears, she still looked towards the peering hole. Outside the door was,
The bloodshot eyes of Katsuragi Mari as she leaned over to the door.
Even though she was taken abak.
“Open the door! Hurry! Open it!”
Elsie was still led by this shrill voice.
“Open it open it open it open it!”
“Open the door.”
Elsie screamed as she turned the lock of the door and opened the door.
She cried and called Mari in.
It’s unknown whether it was Elsie’s imagination as Katsuragi Mari, who was crouched there, lifted her head.
“Finally got in.”
She smirked as her face cracked.
That couldn’t possibly be Katsuragi Keima’s mother Mari!
But the ‘evil spirit’.
Elsie’s expression grimaced with fear and regret.
A shocking cry came.
The white air rose from Mari and surrounded Elsie completely.
Shino, who was sitting in front of Keima’s room, looked hurt as she muttered.
Her originally closed eyes immediately opened.
Even though she set up the barrier all around the house, she knew that it would be broken through.
It was merely faster than what she expected.
Shino looked up at Keima’s room door that was still tightly shut. Right now, she knew one thing; that the boy called Katsuragi Keima was definitely trying his best to fight.
Shino smiled and muttered before looking back adamantly with a sharp gaze at the stairs leading to the first level.
At the darkness on the other end.
At the same time, Keima’s fingers were slamming hard on the keyboard at an amazing speed.
He looked up at the clock.
He clearly heard the sound downstairs, but there should still be some time till the ending. He originally felt that he would only need another 20 minutes,
However, his hand was trembling, numbed.
He looked like he was deflected away as his body faced sideways.
He used his left hand to grab his right wrist and used his right hand to press the keyboard. About 3 days ago, whenever he started to play the game, the hand would start to tremble.
Was this the curse of the ‘evil spirit’?
It was obviously wearing Keima down supernaturally.
“Fufufufu, this design’s really interesting…this is the first time I’m playing such a game full of sensation. A lot of work’s put in.”
Keima merely chuckled fearlessly.
The dark yet heavy presence started to float up from downstairs. Shino stood at the middle of the corridor and waited for the enemy to arrive.
She quickly raised the chokutou.
Shino let her aura fill her entire body. Even though she raised her alertness completely, the presence was somewhat calm. The clean spiritual air surrounded her.
In contrast, the thing that climbed up the stairs and came onto the corridor was,
Wasn’t in human shape anymore.
It wasn’t a human.
It was a giant white slab of flesh.
The size of the flesh block was so large it was irritating. That large and fat white flesh filled the entire corridor. Whether horizontally or vertically, it continued to move forward.
It seemed that the ‘evil spirit’ went from its spiritual form to its real form.
The opponent was mustering its strength to fight.
A certain sound that sounded like things rubbing together or worms creaking came from what looked like the face in the middle of the slab of flesh.
There were 3 black holes over there.
These 3 holes look like the eyes and the mouth, and it looked really disgusting.
On hearing this, Shino remembered what happened in the past and started to get goosebumps.
She hurriedly took a deep breath.
Don’t be scared.
Her mind started to work on its own.
She didn’t need to think.
She just needed to focus on taking down this enemy in front of her.
But she still remembered.
How long had it been since I faced this thing head on?
Once, when she was really small.
When the ‘evil spirit’ Red Ogre was taken by Mogami Takeshi, she did touch this thing a little…
That large and pale spiritual thing.
After taking it, she let out a scream for unknown reasons, and verged on the gates of Hell for three days and three nights.
Shino’s body trembled.
I’m no longer that young brat. I was 5, 6 back then. I was just a little kid who never underwent training.
I’m different now.
I’ve trained; I came here to capture this thing.
To hunt this ‘evil spirit’.
I was completely powerless when Mogami Takeshi stole this, and I couldn’t do anything.
That’s why I started training. I continued to train, trained my spirit, and increased my soul’s strength. I won’t make the same mistake again. I will stop this thing here.
I will stop this thing for all to see.
This is also for that ‘strong-willed boy’ who’s facing against that game in that room.
The center of the block of flesh, what looked like a face seemed to smile in a twisted manner.
A chill went through Shino’s body.
Can’t do it…
That thing sensed the fear in Shino’s heart and was mocking her…
The monster immediately closed in.
Shino tried her best to overcome this situation.
But she couldn’t hide the fear within her.
BAM! A loud sound rang as the door was slammed aside. Shino’s body entered the room. At this moment, Keima,
Glanced behind him and clicked his tongue.
It seemed that Shino lost before the match even began.
“10 MINUTES WILL DO! MIKO, CAN YOU TRY AND HANG ON!?”
The dragging sound came over.
The face that didn’t really appear suddenly came looking from the corridor, and there were three black holes on the face.
Shino tried to get up and looked outside the room.
On seeing the giant face looking in from outside the room, she shrieked out in fear. Seeing her like this, Keima couldn’t help but look up and sigh.
That Shino was completely overwhelmed by fear.
She collapsed and landed onto the floor with her butt.
She wasn’t a refined miko anymore, but an ordinary weak woman that was just trembling and looking up at the monster.
“OI! BUCK UP, STUPID MIKO!”
During this time, Keima was till typing away quickly at the keyboard. The crisis was right in front of him, and so he hastened the rate of conquest.
The ending was already right in front of him!
It was right in front of him!
“HANG IN THERE! SHINO! DIDN’T YOU COME HERE TO BEAT THAT THING!?”
The thing that was looking in from outside the room seemed to smirk as its black holes were staring at Keima.
Even Keima couldn’t help but break out in cold sweat.
That thing was as large as an abnormally swollen runaway spirit. Keima was stared at by that thing, and there was nothing between them.
That thing continued to expand its surface area like an amoeba as it crawled into Keima’s room.
Keima felt that thing moving behind his back and hastened his conquest. He didn’t mess up his steps as he continued to gain progress and tried his best to continue his mission.
Just when he was gritting his teeth.
The thing looked like it was reaching out its hand as it reached its materialized part over to Keima.
Better late than never as,
“I WON’T LET YOU!”
An energetic voice,
“HURT KAMI NII-SAMA!”
A figure slipped in from the side. She knelt down on one knee, tilted her body and jumped up, extending her hagoromo to the maximum to protect Keima, blocking down the white monster’s body that was rushing in like a tidal wave.
Keima shouted as his eyes never looked away from the screen.
Tears welled in Elsie’s eyes.
She was so scared that her body was trembling, but she still shouted,
“Kami nii-sama! Faster!”
Keima’s eyes flashed.
Good work, Elsie!”
Elsie spread her hagoromo to fill the entire room’s length and continued to block off the attacks of the white hands. On the other hand, the main body of the ‘evil spirit’,
Was filling the house and letting out a creaking sound as it slowly moved into the house.
And pressed its body forward as it tried to break through Elsie’s hagoromo.
Elsie was desperately trying to stop it.
Keima glanced at that thing, and the words that were flying quickly slowed down. His body was going numb.
His arms were trembling.
His fingers missed. It seemed that as the ‘evil spirit’ closed in, the power of the ‘curse’ would begin to severely affect his body.
In the end, he couldn’t even tap the keyboard.
Keima’s body collapsed aside. On the other hand, even Elsie,
“KA, KAMI NII-SAMA! I CAN’T HOLD ON! I CAN’T HOLD ON FOR LONG!”
She started gasping. It seemed that it was only a matter of time before the ‘evil spirit’ broke through.
“Can’t do it…”
Keima looked at Elsie again, and then left the computer to calm himself down.
He then smiled.
“Just a mere evil spirit.”
He closed his eyes,
And raised his hands.
At this moment.
He had 6 hands.
“In front of this ‘God of Conquest’!”
Keima opened his eyes, and his hands started typing at twice the speed before this. On seeing this, Elsie exclaimed,
“IT, IT’S THE GOD OF CONQUEST MODE!”
As the burden on the body was too great, Keima would rarely use this super-speed technique.
It was ever so majestic,
Under the light of the screen, Keima seemed to be giving off light as he shone all around. That extremely fast hand movement seemed to give off afterimages.
The ‘evil spirit’ started to get anxious as one could feel from its presence that it was getting riled up. To deal with Keima once and for all, that large body used its size and continued to press at Elsie’s hagoromo.
The entire house was creaking. If they’re not careful, this horrifying strength may even cause the entire room to collapse.
“I, I can’t hold on for long! My power alone…”
At this moment,
The miko who collapsed onto the floor stood up.
She got it,
And shook her head.
“That was really embarrassing. Granny’s right…my training still wasn’t enough. Sorry Elsie.”
“I’ll use some of my strength too. I,”
She stared coldly at the ‘evil spirit’.
“I won’t be scared of you again. It’s a miko’s job to protect the deities!”
She swung her chokutou and gave off an aura.
Elsie shouted happily.
The tent-like object that was glowing spread itself on Elsie’s hagoromo, and the ‘evil spirit’ backed away.
Unfortunately, good things didn’t last for long.
The mysterious shapeshifting white flesh increased its force.
“Damn it! This filthy thing!”
Both sides launched an intense battle. The ‘evil spirit’ wanted to get rid of Shino,
And Keima behind them all at one go, and thus, the power gathered was abnormal. On the other hand, Shino and Elsie,
“We can’t lose! Elsie!”
Both of them were extremely determined as they worked together to ensure Keima’s safety.
“U, guh. That, that’s some terrifying power.”
As they faced this monster with endless endurance, both of them were almost unable to hang on.
At this moment.
A calm voice rang.
“Why this game, the ‘Favor of the Western Lantern’,”
The voice came from behind Shino,
And Elsie. Both of them were wondering whether Keima’s mind was burned up.
His voice was rather calm.
“Why it was created. I had been wondering. If it was just to present the horror, there were many manners of presentation and elements that didn’t need to be entered. I couldn’t tell the creator’s intention at first, but now I finally got it. The female lead for this game was always waiting.”
His confidence was rather rational.
“Waiting for light to overcome darkness.”
On hearing Shino mutter,
“What you saw before wasn’t correct. This game wasn’t presenting fear, but through force of will to overcome the darkness in front of us and obtaining hope. That’s the true nature of this game.”
The ‘evil spirit’ maniacally swayed its body. Keima quickly kept his ‘God of Conquest mode’ as both arms sagged on both sides.
And he sighed.
“I’ve already seen the ending…no, I should say that this game was always waiting for someone to break the ending. This is the wish of the game, and the last dream Mogami Takeshi illustrated. It wasn’t a ‘curse’, but ‘hope’, all meant to be solved by someone.”
Shino and Elsie couldn’t help but look back, and they saw it.
On the screen.
What appeared should be the words of the last option. Keima suddenly turned around and lifted his head to look at the ‘evil spirit’, and then pointed his right finger.
He coldly narrowed his eyes that looked full of intelligence.
The body of the ‘evil spirit’ let out a loud sound. It got smaller and smaller like a large balloon being deflated.
Keima silently watched this and made the final declaration.
The thumb that was facing the ceiling turned down.
“As the ‘God of Conquest’, I command you,”
The hand on the other side rose up above his head.
He pressed the enter button.
He then shouted,
“RETURN BACK TO WHERE YOU BELONG, TO THAT EVIL CONGREAGATE OF YOURS!”
Don’t come back again.
The keyboard let out a click. At this moment.
The ‘evil spirit let out a long wail without any restraint as its body became white smoke and scattered away. What looked like white mist surrounded them.
Everything ended here.
In the midst of this mist,
Keima got up and approached the miko. Shino, who was terrified and speechless as she watched the ‘evil spirit’ disappear, finally seems to realize something,
“…You’re really strange.”
She narrowed her eyes at Keima,
“You like older big sisters?”
She looked somewhat mischievous. It was because her senses were far superior to normal people that she should have realized it. Shino closed her eyes.
“If everyone I met was just like you.”
“It would be a lot easier for me now.”
And then, he kissed Shino.
On a side note, the runaway spirit that left Shino was the smallest ever…
The next morning, Elsie and Keima were in the café. Keima closed his eyes, seemingly enjoying the coffee fragrance, and Elsie was washing the dishes.
She then used the apron to wipe her hands,
“…Aren’t you tired, kami nii-sama?”
And asked. Keima took a sip of coffee and widened his eyes,
“Why did you ask?”
And asked back. Elsie was intrigued,
“Be, because, things escalated so much yesterday.”
Keima suddenly smiled.
“That’s nothing much. The game itself was set to be only playable for an hour at night, so it was a little troublesome. The game itself wasn’t difficult.”
Elsie responded, and it was hard to tell whether she was amazed or surprised.
Even after so many things happened, he still insisted that it was merely a game…
Elsie was really impressed.
(Speaking of which, kami nii-sama was so calm until the end…)
She recalled everything that happened. The ‘evil spirit’ was so scary…let alone Elsie, even the miko Shino was so scared that she was trembling. However, Keima didn’t even flinch as he faced the main body of the ‘evil spirit’.
He was completely unmoved.
Was there something he wasn’t scared of?
“Luckily, the computer and my personal collection are all safe.”
Just when Keima spoke halfway through and was about to put the coffee to his lips,
He tilted his head. Perhaps it was Elsie’s imagination as Keima seemed to be uneasy.
“…That’s right, where did that strange miko go?”
Elsie nodded her head.
“It seemed that she wanted to head back today, so she wanted to repay us a little before going back.”
“Yes. She said that she wanted to clean up this place before heading back…”
Keima’s face immediately went pale.
Elsie used her fingers to support her chin.
“She’s cleaning kami nii-sama’s room.”
At this moment, Keima clumsily dumped the coffee cup onto the table and dashed out of the café. Elsie cringed.
She hurriedly ran up to the second level,
“OI! STUPID MIKO! DON’T MESS UP! DON’T MESS UP MY ROOM!”
And heard Keima shout,
“Ohh? Katsuragi-dono, please relax! Look, I’m just going to turn on the vacuum cleaner.”
And Shino’s cheery reply, and then,
There was a cry and the sound of things breaking.
BAM, and an impact.
Keima cried out.
This was the first time Elsie heard Keima scream…
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