== Chapter 3==
Days after I had met Yamada Elf; after I made the vow to ‘write something better than her’. Today was a normal day, I planned to do housework before going to school.
*Ding ~ dong*
When I got home after school, before I could start doing my housework, trouble arrived.
By the way, the sound of doorbells, incoming messages, and ringtones were the ones I hated the most. They gave me an uneasy, restless feeling. Of course, maybe it was just me.
Anyway, no matter how much I hate this sound, I still have to open the door.
*Ding dong ding dong ding dong*
“Why does this sound like a rhythm?”
I already knew who was on the other side before opening the door.
“Masa~mune~san! I~am~here~ to~play!”
“Don’t~ want ~to!”
I answered Megumi.
Yes – on the other side was a beautiful girl in a sailor uniform, Jinno Megumi.
Megumi puffed her cheeks and said:
“Why aren’t you opening the door, Onii-san?”
“What do you want?”
Since she was very troublesome, I immediately got straight to the point.
“You asked me what I wanted…I told you that I’d come back with a plan, didn’t I?”
Yeah, you did. But you were much faster than I expected. Really, it seems like I underestimated her.
“….What is the plan?”
I will at least hear her out. Even though I don’t hope for much anyway.
Megumi smiled proudly then tried to hug me.
“Why did you dodge? I just wanted to hug you!”
If it was any other man, they would let her hug them then allow themselves a sweet dream. Unfortunately, it had no effect on me.
“…No reason. Just thinking that it might not be a good idea to hug a girl in front of the house.”
Megumi slowly looked down and muttered:
“….Hey, did you just mutter something very ungirly?”
“What? It’s just your imagination! Anyway, about my plan!”
Megumi grunted before shouting:
….What? Everyone? What everyone —?
Before I could understand anything, the plan had begun right in front of me. A scene of terror unfolded in front of the Izumi household —
“How are you!”
“We are from the same class, first year! Everyone is here.”
“Go home.” I coldly replied.
Twenty or more students yelled in surprise. Looked like there was still someone who didn’t get my message.
“What my ass! Megumi…what have you done?”
“What have I done? Of course this is plan B. Originally, I planned to make all the first years come and greet Izumi-chan – but it was harder than expected, so I settled for just a class, oh ~?”
“Just a class” you said. You really surpassed my expectation.
“What are you angry for Onii-san. I brought my class here to —-”
Then together with her classmate, Megumi turned to the second floor window and shouted:
“Please come back to school ~!”
“Everyone is waiting for youuuuuu ~~!”
” — Now, I bet Izumi-chan will be moved and come back to school —-”
“Like hell she would! Now she might not even leave her bed! Please stop! Hey! You guys over there! Stop and take a breath! Sagiri’s HP is 0 already!”
I tried my best to stop them.
Megumi had a puzzled expression on her face, but she obeyed me and told her classmates to stop.
“EVERYONE, STOPPP ~~”
Right after that, those ‘Izumi-san, please come back to school’s, which sounded very like a Namo Amitaba evil repelling mantra finally stopped.
(Amitabhais a celestial Buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Namo Amitaba is what most people chant when praying Buddhism.
Masamune is basically saying that those ‘Izumi-san, please come back to school’ sound like a chant, without any emotion or feeling. Those people are just repeating the words again and again without thinking)
“Onii-san, what you do you mean by that?”
“You, you really understand nothing! It’s 100% counterproductive! Hurry up and go home!”
“Alright. Everyone, let’s go back!”
“See you ~”
Those first years –went back one by one.
“Thank you everyone ~ see you again tomorrow ~”
“See you again ~?”
They waved their hands together…at that instant, I got the feeling that they were surrounded by a unique atmosphere.
The one I noticed most was the one who made that ‘What!?’. I labeled him as ‘a surprised sound’. That unclear sound could have a wide range of meaning, from a greeting to a reply.
<! They looked like a bunch of tribal Africans !>
“Onii-san ~ bow ~ bow~”
I mimicked him and clapped my hand together.
Why am I following their rhythm? Did they do that everyday? Unbelievable….
After all of them (except Megumi) had gone.
“They really went back.”
“Because Onii-san, you looked like you were really angry.”
“Hey, when I said ‘go home’, that included you.”
“I will go back right now. But before that….”
Megumi gave me sheets of paper.
“It’s a circular notice.”
“Circular notice? Why do you have it?”
“Because it was left on your door’s step – isn’t it better to give it to you personally?”
“…Ah~ I see. It’s not mine.”
….I’m not sure if it was fine to tell her that, but if it made her less likely to enter my home again…it’s probably okay.
“Actually, there was a rumor about a curse in this area.”
Megumi tilted her head.
“In other words, bad luck will continue…this house…and the next one too…”
I looked at my next door neighbor. There was a building which shouldn’t exist in a normal civilian area. A two floor building, like the Izumi’s household.
“Long ago, there was a great author living here. But he died because of illness.”
Probably a very long time ago. Now, it was just an empty house without anyone.
“It doesn’t look like an unoccupied house to me. Could it be that someone takes care of it?”
Among those novels that he wrote, there were ‘Old Mansion’ and ‘The Girl In White’. Since they were masterpieces that every one knew about, the rumors quickly arose.
“‘Sometimes, there are sounds of a piano coming from this house’. Or ‘A white ghost wearing a suit will walk around’…those kind of rumors. Now, people call this place a haunted house.”
When Dad decided to build our house here, the rumor had already existed. Mom and Dad didn’t pay attention to them one bit, they only thought ‘We were so lucky to get that good spot~’. Well, in the end I never thought about it too much. Paranormal phenomena should only occur in novels.
“Then because of what happened a year ago, that rumor resurfaced again.”
No one directly said that we were cursed, but around here, many people considered the Izumi household to be cursed, thus they tried to avoid our place. That’s why they left the editor manuscripts in front of my house instead of giving them to me directly.
“I see…haunted house…and a white ghost in suit….”
Megumi sounded interested. Then she pointed at the second floor of the haunted house and said:
“You meant that?”
“Don’t make a joke like that!”
I turned my head away.
After carefully looking at where Megumi just pointed – however.
“There is nothing. There is nothing, so I’m not scared!”
“It just went behind the curtain.”
“I told you, Megumi. It’s not something you should joke about….”
“No no, not that!”
Megumi quickly waved her hand and denied:
“Even I wouldn’t joke about this. And most of the time, I’m not a liar!”
In other words, you did lie sometimes – however.
She really didn’t look like she was lying. I’m quite confidence in my skill at reading people. Somehow, I always felt that she is a ‘good girl’.
Still, now wasn’t the time to question her.
“If you weren’t lying…then you must be mistaken.”
“……..Yeah, must be so.”
Megumi replied in a sympathetic tone.
After she went back, I returned to check on Sagiri after she received the mental attack from the ‘Call Izumi-chan to school’ party.
If I was a hikikomori, Megumi’s B plan would have definitely killed me. As her elder brother, I need to show some care.
“Really…Megumi…stop kidding with me.”
Though I didn’t believe in ghosts, I believed in Megumi.
And she said that she saw a girl in a white suit in that haunted house. —
That made people more likely to be scared!
“Hey ~ Sagiri ~ are you okay ~?”
No response. She must be hiding in her blanket and trembling in fear because of her classmates’ actions.
Hopefully that didn’t cause a mental scar. Hm, what should I do now?
“I will prepare the water. Take a bath later, will you?”
When I turned and prepared to leave.
The door sprung opened again. This time it hit me on the side of my head.
Really, I should have reflected on myself. How many times do I plan on being hit by that same attack?
I should have had some form of protection against it by now – but looks like my progress is slower than expected.
“…What’s wrong, Sagiri….suddenly opening the door like this.”
Pressing my temple, I tried to ask like nothing happened.
Right after the words left my mouth, something unexpected happened.
Taking my hand, Sagiri pulled me inside. Not just that, she hugged my waist too.
“What, what, what…..”
The slight touch of her chest…! This wasn’t a metaphor, because I was looking at them right now. I was so shocked that blood rushed to my head, making me unable to think properly. After a long time, I managed to speak:
“What, what, what….?”
Sagiri didn’t reply, instead she just hugged me even harder. Of course I was even more shocked than before —
“…..Do you love your brother?”
*Thud!* The controller in my little sister’s hand gave me a flying dragon punch.(Probably a reference to Rozan Shō Ryū Ha (廬山昇龍覇) from Saint Seiya.)
“Where…where did that come from!?”
“Wait, what did you say?”
Ghost? Why did Sagiri mention that? Did she hear my conversation with Megumi?
If so…how did she do that? This is second floor – no matter how loud we were there is no way she could hear it from here. In short, it’s totally impossible. Anyway, I’ll temporarily put this issue aside.
“Ghost — what?”
“Don’t worry. Your brother is here!”
Though I’m a useless brother, I tried to speak as gently as possible to calm her down.
Then Sagiri leaned on my chest and whispered:
“…When I was going to hide in my blanket and cry…Suddenly I heard the sound of a piano.”
“Piano? Just now too?”
Hearing my question, Sagiri nodded.
“No way, there is no way….”
No one lives there. Besides, it is still daytime, how could a ghost….
“…..I understand. I trust you. Leave it to me.”
I closed my eyes and focused on my ears.
….First, I heard my own heart beating. Then…ack?
“I heard it! The sound of piano!”
Sagiri pointed at the balcony with her trembling finger. Colorful curtains hung there. The light from the sunset passed through the gap and entered the dimly lit room.
“…On the balcony…is there something on the balcony?”
Sagiri just shook her head…Looked like she was too scared to even speak…that means….
No, no choice then! I pulled Sagiri’s hand and walked toward the balcony.
We could still hear the piano’s sound.
“I want to take a look….”
Glancing at Sagiri, I saw that although she looked like she was about to burst into tears, she still nodded.
I pulled the curtains open.
The balcony of the haunted house was close. That was the same spot Megumi pointed out earlier.
No ghost. But the piano’s sound was getting louder.
…It really came from that house.
“…From that house….?”
At the first look, there was nothing unusual (like a ghost)….
“…O, Onii-san, there…..”
Following Sagiri’s finger —- I saw it.
At the first floor, behind the gap in the curtain, I could see a white shadow.
“Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah!!!” <= My voice.
We siblings trembled in fear. I felt absolutely nothing when hugging my little sister because both of us were so scared.
“…Is that…a ghost?”
“But, but…how could it be…”
“…You go take a look.”
“…Go take a look, Onii-san!”
“….Are you kidding me?”
This is very scary!
“Go take a look. If I don’t know for certain what it is, I would be too scared to draw anything.”
….Too scared to draw anything huh. Then this can’t be helped.
“Good. Wait here.”
I left my little sister at home and went to the haunted house alone.
Step by step, I made it to the main gate, the circular notice in hand. With a *crank*, the black iron gate opened.
I made it into the courtyard. The house looked clean, yet I felt a pressure coming from it.
I brought the circular notice with me in case someone actually lived here. With that, I can prove that I’m not a burglar.
“…Please don’t be a ghost. Please don’t be a ghost.”
I slowly moved towards the window while praying.
“This place…right. Then…here I come.”
I mustered up my courage and took a peak through the gap.
Normally, the truth about ghosts was never anything interesting, but the truth in front of me made me forget to breathe.
Yamada Elf-sensei was playing a piano, completely naked.
I quickly returned to the front door and pressed the doorbell.
*Ding dong. Ding dong. Ding dong.*
She would need some time to put on her clothes. Three times should be okay.
A few moments later, finally a voice came:
“Who is that? You want my manuscript?”
…Just from this, I could tell that her life was full of troubles.
“Your circular notice.”
“Ha? What…Please leave it there.”
Seemed like she didn’t plan to get along with her neighbors. But why is she here?
“Yamada-san, may I ask why you were naked while playing piano?”
*Thunk! Clank! Dang dang —Thud*
“You peeping tom —-!”
She quickly rushed to the door. Of course she was no longer naked, instead she wore the same lolita clothes from when we last met, a broom in her hand. Seeing me, her eyes widened:
“Wah? Izumi Masamune?”
“How are you?”
I shot her a half-hearted greeting and raised my right hand to greet her.
“What is going on? What are you doing here?”
“That is my line. Why are you here, naked?”
“Ah, that! That was —”
Why do you have to make a pose whenever you say something?
She was panicking a second ago, yet now she was back to this. Not just that, she seemed to be proud of herself.
“Don’t you know that if you play the piano immediately after taking a bath — you will enjoy a sense of happiness? Then you can think of a good story?”
“I, I can say that I have never tried that before…..”
“Then give it a shot! It’s very effective!”
Although I didn’t think so….but just now, is this your way to get new ideas? In that case it’s understandable. Probably. We novelist sometimes had weird ideas when we had a writer’s block.
I turned to her and gently said:
“Next time, be sure to close the curtains properly. Otherwise people might see you.”
Hey, stop using that broom to poke my eyes!
“You! Why are you here! I can’t let my guard down! To think that I only forgot about the curtains for a second…”
Elf’s breathing was hard, her face deep red. She screamed and tried to hit me with her broom. I originally thought that she was a crazy pervert, but seemed like she still knew embarrassment.
“It was a misunderstanding! I just came here to give you your circular notice! My home is right next to yours!”
“Such coincidence —”
Without saying anything, I took one step back and pointed at my home’s nameplate. Elf glanced at it for a second before continuing:
” — Even so! To peep at a nude girl is still bad!”
“I didn’t come here to peep! There was a good reason for this…!”
After that, I told her about the rumor regarding the haunted house, the white ghost, the piano….Then since I just heard the sound of piano, I came here to investigate – everything.
” — That’s all”
“…Hm, hm, I see. I understand. I will consider this to be accidental! But you will have to forget everything you just saw.”
Elf let the broom hit the floor, but her face was still red. This girl always looked excited.
Continuing this awkward atmosphere is troublesome for me too. To stop this atmosphere, I said naturally:
“Say, why are you here?”
“Staying here makes it easier for me to attend anime script meetings.”
“You know that most of the anime companies are located in Tokyo, right?”
No, I don’t.
“I have to attend each meeting once a week. All of this is to make the best anime and save this world….”
“Doesn’t sound very easy….”
“Of course ~ But I’m an author whose novel was made into anime, so this can’t be helped! I’m an author whose novel was made into anime!”
Oh damn, she got carried away again.
Some authors whose books were made into an anime had the habit of always saying anime this anime that, but….this girl.
“After I heard that my novel is going be made into an anime, I began thinking about buying a house. Though it wasn’t perfect, with a little remodelling it should be fine. By the way, I paid for it with my royalties in cash, you understand? I bought all of this with my royalties in one hit!”
“You, you bought all of this!?”
My house was built using the money Dad loaned….is this the power of a novel-made anime?
“Yes! Money from anime! Of course this is normal for me! Because I’m an author whose novel was made into anime!”
Elf laughed arrogantly:
“Hahahaha…..It’s impossible for a fourteen year-old child to buy a single-family house in the middle of Tokyo!”
Damn it! I want to kill you!
“That was all because of my great work! You can see that even the ones living next door also bought my book? Hohohoh, what a good child. Are you jealous? Envious?”
“Yes, I envy you! My readers could be a little less than yours, but every time I publish a book, they always work tirelessly to find it! It’s true that bookstores don’t keep a large number of my books, yet, I also received letters from my fans! I will definitely not lose to you! Don’t look down on me!”
Sorry, it’s all I could say to rebuke her.
“….You don’t need to be angry. Sorry.”
“It’s good that you understand.”
“Ah, although my readers are more loyal than yours.”
Loyal? What do you think your readers are?
“…By the way, there is a ghost here.”
I didn’t want to say it, but unexpectedly Elf immediately said:
“Ha, how could ghost exist! Even if it did, then I will turn it into a part of my novel!”
What a strong child. As expected of the best-selling author.
“So ~ I ~ said!”
Elf made a full circle turn like she was dancing, then she pointed at her house:
“How is it! The house of the beautiful genius light novel author, Yamada Elf-sama! Praise it!”
She told me to praise it….even though I had been living next to it for a few years….
“Yeah, it’s a beautiful house.”
“Right right! I call it ‘Crystal Palace’!”
She gave her house that name.
As expected of the best selling author, even the way she thought was far from normal.
Elf looked like she wanted to tell me something, after a moment of hesitation, she turned to me:
“Izumi Masamune. If you want to visit this place no matter what…then I will give you the honor of visiting my ‘Crystal Palace’ ~”
She just wanted to show off her place, didn’t she?
“Your house huh…to tell you the truth I’m quite interested.”
Although her favorability in my book was nearly zero, I was still interested in Yamada Elf-sensei. Exactly what kind of house did she live in? What kind of workplace did she own? Very curious.
Besides, if I got lucky…I could visit a best-selling author’s house, I could find ‘the secret to making a best-seller’…maybe.
“You want to see right? You really want to see don’t you? Hahahaha….you are interested in the house of a best-selling author, right?”
I slowly began to understand this girl.
I sighed and entered the ‘haunted crystal palace’.
Even though it had an exaggerated name, the truth is that it was just a normal house. The inside was similar to my house with the stairs near the entrance. Maybe it’s just the affect of the rumor, but the room did look a bit dark.
“You should be honored! You are the first guest to visit this palace!”
“….I, I see.”
I’m the first guest? Really? That meant….
Seems like she also had her own story to tell.
“Sorry for intruding.”
I removed my shoes and took a step inside. The floor immediately responded with a *creek* sound.
“What’s wrong? Come here.”
“Ah…is this room okay? Why does the floor make that sound?”
“Sorry sorry. This place didn’t get much maintenance since the time that the great author lived here – well, the one who sold me this place said so anyway. I think this adds a unique aspect.”
I think that you were tricked by them.
If you liked it so much, then why — My thought was interrupted.
I trembled a bit. With a straight face, I said:
“….What was that just now? Supernatural phenomenon?”
“Just the sound of the room. Heheh, you are so weak hearted, Izumi Masamune.”
…I have to admit, her clothes were very effective in this circumstance.
The next room I visited was a western style living room. Quite large, at least ten tatami mats. There was an LCD TV and table which held game consoles and games/anime disks. The wooden floor was covered in red patterns. A small glass table stood next to the wall with a laptop on top. Next to it was a white chair.
“You work here?”
“Normally I write in my working room on the second floor. But sitting in one place is boring, so sometime I come here to write instead.”
So that’s how she adjusts her mood.
“Sit wherever you want.”
I choose a spot next to the table, since it was embarrassing to sit on the only chair. After that, I slowly noticed some other stuff.
Mainly a piano and a fan.
“You, you, what are you thinking while looking at this piano!”
Elf screamed in anger when she brought tea back.
“I wasn’t thinking of anything! I told you, I forgot that already! You are being too self-conscious!”
*Bang*. Elf nearly slammed the dish on the table.
“I did tell you to forget, but how could you do that so easily! My sacred body was revealed after all!”
Sacred body my ass!
“By the way, the first time we met, you said something about being naked or nude — did you plan on letting someone see you naked?”
“For a lowly writer like you, that is an appropriate analogy.”
I just said some nonsense, yet by dumb luck I managed to hit the jackpot.
“Yes! Fully naked! That is the most natural clothes that God granted humans! There is no cloth better than that in the world!”
I never thought that she would actually say that.
“Ah ah…so that’s why in your novel, all the female characters were stripped naked one by one?”
“Yes! It was so cool! All my readers were jumping in joy!”
*Bang* I slammed on the table.
Elf was clearly scared. I told her:
“You…you…you simply know nothing about love!”
“Who do you think you are? My novels sell a hundred times better than yours!” She yelled.
There is no way it could be true right? At best it’s only about ten times right?
Although my sales are indeed much lower than hers.
“Ha? So what? You think because your book sells well that it’s good enough?”
“Of course it is! Sales are an author’s way of combat!”
Let me make it clear for you then.
“I don’t like the way you think. Nudity is not something that make people’s hearts race the most. It’s the same as the case where scenes that completely expose the panties always rank lower than scenes that only show a glimpse.”
“You are the one who doesn’t understand! That’s why I need the help of a talented illustrator! Generally speaking, the male reader doesn’t care much! Before the power of ero, males are all trash!”
You gave us those fantasy novels, but you speak of them with such vulgar words. Not to mention this is your own book!
“It’s not like that!”
At least, I’m not the type to get excited from imagining an ero scene!
Besides, males only imagine a girl naked because we like the girl! Immediately going to the nude scene is not my taste.
“Idiot! My servant said that, so that must be true ~~”
“No way ~! In the first volume of your novel, even now when I remember the scene when the first girl got laid, It still feels like shit ~~”
“Haaaaaaaaaaaa??? It’s a super ero, super moe scene! In the middle of the forest, the girl whose naked body had been seen by a member of the opposite sex had no choice but to offer her virginity —! But, but, I’m not going to give you my virginity!”
“Like hell I want itttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt!!!!!!”
What a troublesome girl. Don’t mistake real life with your novel.
“What…did you say~~! I’m a beautiful light novel author….I’m the best-selling author, what is with your tone?”
“Best-selling author this, best-selling author that, you are so noisy! Your information is outdated. Now the best-seller novel is Sword Art Online, and the best manga is One Piece.”
Looks like I hit the bulls-eye. Elf covered her chest in pain. Wiping the sweat off her forehead, she tried to act tough.
“…Ha ha…boy…hurry and grow up a little…although I did let my guard down, but it truly is a black mark in my history…I did let my guard down…but as expected of one of the novelist I acknowledged….”
Why do you sound like you are Kawahara Reki-sensei’s (The author of Sword Art Online and Accel World) teacher? Your novel merely ranked fourteenth this week.
“Forget it! As long as ‘my anime’ is aired, I will be able to sell more than one million BD (Abbreviation for ‘Blu-Ray Disc’), my novel’s sales would increase a dozen, a hundred times! Sword Art Online will no longer be worth mentioning! In the future…to beat Dengeki Bunko is …is like facing a boss!”
Someone, someone…please shut this girl up…
I just stopped talking for a second and Elf had already gotten carried away.
“About One Piece…as expected of my nemesis….but unfortunately, it still failed to defeat me. Just accept your failure…although it was such a regret, just a little more and it could have….”
“Based on what you said earlier, the current combat power of One Piece is nearly three-hundred million.”
Elf couldn’t say anything.
Her face was as pale as a ghost. Facing such overwhelming combat power it was impossible for her to keep her morale.
“Besides, One Piece’s sales are still rising….you get what I mean?”
Based on the number alone, it’s really unbelievable.
This is not something people made up, but the real results. Much crueler than any manga boss.
“….How many books did that sell?”
“Around seven-hundred chapters?”
Elf put a finger to her mouth and muttered to herself. Suddenly, she yelled:
“What ~ the ~ heck!? Just that!? Nothing big.”
“One Piece is really useless! Seven hundred chapters and it only reached that level? When my novel reaches that number, I’m sure it will casually roll over its record!”
“…Are you serious?”
Three hundred-million counted as nothing?
Not to mention that no matter how hot a novel is, it couldn’t beat manga – that was common sense…Yet it looked like Elf knew absolutely nothing about this, she raised her chest and said:
“Of course I’m serious. You can say that – since I chose this difficult job, I can’t afford to lose my spirit!”
“I want to write the best, the ultimate light novel, so —-”
“I WILL BECOME ‘NOVEL KING’!”
The corner of my mouth turned into a small smile.
Hearing her announcement, seeing her big dream – just like Luffy (The protagonist in ‘One Piece’). Both cool and reckless.
I wanted to tell her – ‘Do your best’.
Ah no no no! I can’t tell her that! I can’t forget what she said to my editor!
“Whatever your goal is – to me, they simply don’t matter. However…”
Putting my hands on my knees, I stood up.
I faced her gaze and replied:
“I will not lose to you. I will not give Eromanga-sensei to you.”
My hand clenched into a fist, I faced Elf’s arrogant gaze without fear.
“Ha…you lowly writer, are you going to challenge me, who in the near future will reach the sales of six billion, who will earn the nick name ‘Novel King’…no, ‘Super writer’?”
“Tch, I never planned to battle you in something so silly as sales —”
I’m going to use what I consider ‘the most important factor’ to fight.
“Come and fight! I will not give you my partner! I will write a super cool novel, it will be made into an anime and I will roll all over you!”
“Fine! Then I will write something even better than you, something to change Eromanga-sensei’s mind. Then I will ask him to draw the ultimate illustration for me!”
The battle to find out who could write a better novel.
Of course, Eromanga-sensei gives the verdict.
The winner — the one who Eromanga-sensei chooses — will have his full support.
That was how things turned out.
After that, I returned home. Now, I’m kneeling inside the ‘never opened room’. In front of me, with a glare that could melt iron, is my little sister.
She is really angry isn’t she?
After opening and closing her mouth a few times, finally, she said:
She yelled. Because she was using a microphone, the echo rang in my ear. But even without the microphone I could understand her feelings.
“Why! Didn’t you!” She paused to catch a breath “…Come back! Immediately !”
…Why did my little sister get angry with me?
“Because I went to check on that haunted house for too long, you were afraid of being alone?”
[No way..! It’s not like that!]
“Not like that huh? Then why?”
[Nothing. Forget it.]
She turned away, an awkward look on her face.
[….That…is not…? That?]
On the live video, she could speak fluently. But when she spoke to someone face to face, Sagiri begins to stutter. I need some time to correctly put her words together before giving her an answer.
“Ah, no problem. That wasn’t a ghost.”
“That piano sound — that was because….”
The image of a naked girl reappearing in my head made me pause for a second.
“Just our neighbor’s piano. They just moved here recently.”
Just when Sagiri was about to say something….
*Knock*. A sound came from outside the window.
She jumped in shock. I was startled too.
Sagiri grabbed my sleeve, trembled.
That windows faced the haunted house. Of course there is no ghost, but that didn’t change the fact it was on the second floor.
“Don’t worry, leave it to me.”
I slowly made it to the window and unlocked it.
“I’m opening it.”
Then I pushed it opened.
[Onii-san, be careful…]
*Shoot ~ whack!*
I was brutally shot in the head.
“What the? What the heck?”
Though it did hit me quite hard, it didn’t do enough to down me immediately.
I gripped whatever just hit me to take a look
“…A toy arrow…?”
Where did it come from?
“You finally show yourself!”
An arrogant voice came from the haunted house.
I raised my eyes toward her:
“Yes, it’s me!”
In the opposite balcony, Elf was holding a bow and arrow. Bow and arrow together with Elf, what a perfect combo. She looked exactly like a female character from one of her novels.
“You! Why did you suddenly go back? I still haven’t finished showing you my palace! You are so rude!”
Blah blah blah! Elf yelled non-stop like a rabid dog.
I leaned on the balcony, said:
“I was wondering what that was, so it was you! You scared my little sister and made her cry! Go die somewhere with your novel!”
“I totally didn’t understand anything you said. There is no need to be that angry.”
[I, I didn’t cry!]
Blah blah blah! The whole scene drifted into chaos.
“Didn’t we just confirm our hostile relationship!? Not to mention you playing piano in that haunted house to scare people!”
“You saw my whole body! I’m the one with the disadvantage here!”
“I told you — no one wanted to see that! If you still don’t let it go, then I will strip right now so you can take a look! You can see all you want! Is that what you want?”
“Ya –! You, what do you intend to do!?”
Tears began to well up in Elf’s eyes.
“I was hurt! Because of you! You!”
With my trousers half removed, I slowly backed off until Sagiri closed the window.
*Crank – Whap *
She closed the curtains and separated us from our neighbor.
Sagiri looked at me like she was looking at some kind of trash. I felt that was worse than meeting a ghost.
The silent pressure was enough to crush me.
I said in a super polite tone. What is with that insane pressure?
Sagiri slowly asked:
[….Who is that girl?]
“Our neighbor! Yamada-san.”
I didn’t know her real name, and because of our showdown, I didn’t want to let my little sister know that Yamada Elf-sensei is staying right next to us. Thus I answered like that.
[….Um…Onii-san, is Yamada-san your acquaintances?]
“Today was the second time we met!”
[…Your relationship, good?]
“No way! We are like nemeses to each other.”
[….Why do you lie….It doesn’t look that way.]
“Please believe me! My relationship with her is 100% not good!”
Why am I explaining my relationship with that ero Elf to my little sister? Totally incomprehensible!
Sagiri didn’t say anything for a while. I thought that the atmosphere had calmed down, but suddenly she asked:
[……Saw her, naked?]
[Did you see?]
I averted my eyes.
“….I saw a little bit.”
Another heavy silence, which made me very uneasy. I secretly glanced at my little sister’s face.
…..She had a cold, deadpan expression. But her eyes looked like she was blaming me.
When I thought that everything had been wrapped up nicely, Sagiri ended with an extremely cold tone:
[Put your pants on and get out.]
Hearing that, I finally noticed that my pants were half-way to being removed.
Once again, silence dominated the room…Without saying anything, I put on my pants back on and walked towards the door.
When I was about to go out
In front of the ‘never opened door’, I knelt down in defeat.
Two days later, I was writing at my school library. Of course I used the notepad app on my smartphone instead of my laptop.
I’m sure that you guys already know, but bringing laptops to school to write a novel is impossible. Even if somehow, I did bring it here, there is a good chance that someone might pop up behind me and ask ‘what are you doing’. That is something I really don’t want to happen.
In this quite place, I quickly entered the text with my thumbs. True, it was much slower than using a keyboard, but after practicing, it didn’t bother me too much anymore.
That was something I learnt when I was writing a ‘mobile phone novel (‘http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_phone_novel.)
I sighed. After that incident, I haven’t managed to say anything to my little sister.
Not only that, my second manuscript was also rejected yesterday.
…Goddamn it…those editors…I wondered if they even read them carefully or not.
Anyone would feel this way when they lost their way.
Anyway, the undeniable truth was that my manuscript was rejected again, forcing me to write something else.
My motivation was higher than before, yet it turned out to be naught.
“—- What should I do…”
Looking at the ceiling, I unconsciously muttered
“What is wrong?”
The question came from the Takasago bookstore’s mistress, Tomoe.
I didn’t know when she sat down in front of me.
Since we were at school, she was wearing a uniform. Because she liked books, she often hung out at the library. It wasn’t like she had no friends, but she preferred to be alone.
Although she didn’t have the same atmosphere as that of a bookworm.
“It’s nothing, just …everything didn’t go the way I expected.”
“Ha? If you want to, you can talk to me about it.”
“Actually, it is like this —–”
So I told her the reason I felt down lately (omitting the part about Eromanga-sensei’s true indentity and Yamada Elf-sensei living next to me)
“Ha ~ so you bet Eromanga-sensei in a showdown with Yamada Elf-sensei….and your recent manuscripts were all rejected, which turned your motivation into nothing.”
“It is basically like that.”
“Ahaha, to bet a man in a duel between men, it sounds like a BL novel (“BL” is short for “Boys Love”, also called “Yaoi”. It is a term used to describe homosexual love between males and is usually geared towards a female audience)..”
“Please stop joking.”
“Sorry sorry. Say ~ well, I’m not entirely sure, but….”
“How are you going to decide a winner in this duel of yours?”
“About that….” I think for a second…
“After we both finish our work, let Eromanga-sensei read and….”
“How will you let him read?”
“Currently, your editor is the only one who can contact Eromanga-sensei, right? Yamada Elf-sensei’s mails didn’t get any reply.”
“Yes…yes, that’s right.”
“So even if Yamada-sensei writes something new, isn’t there no way for him to let Eromanga-sensei read it?”
“Indeed….it’s exactly like you said.”
Elf can’t pass the manuscript through Kagurazaka-san.
As long as Sagiri herself didn’t contact her or Elf, this is no longer a matter of winning and losing. I will be the only one who can give her a manuscript.
“Both of you are idiots.” – Tomoe laughed “Maybe Yamada-sensei planned to keep writing while waiting for Eromanga-sensei to contact him.”
This may be true. Or rather, it’s the only possible option.
However…I’m not sure if that girl could think of something with common-sense.
“I want to find out the true identity of Eromanga-sensei”
I knew it. She only had weird ideas in her head.
“What are you saying all of the sudden….”
The same day, when I had a talk with Tomoe about our duel, after school.
In front of the Izumi household, Elf wore her trademark lolita clothing, her hands folded over her chest.
That was the first thing she said when I arrived. Actually, before I asked her ‘What are you saying’, I should have lectured her ‘What are you doing here’.
…Are you waiting for someone? Me perhaps? Since when?
Didn’t you decide to distance yourself from me until a winner is decided?
My head was full of questions.
“Because you don’t know how to contact him?”
I heard that from Kagurazaka-san.
“Sort of. But what about you? There is only one thing you can do! Send him an email and wait – just like me.”
So she couldn’t endure this anymore.
“You waited here for me just to say that?”
“Yes. Before we determine a winner, I’m still going to notify you.”
Totally can’t understand her. Is she trying to be polite?
But this time, it did have an effect. If this girl decided to investigate Sagiri’s true identity without telling me, then I couldn’t mount any countermeasure.
Elf shot me a meaningful glance.
“Now I’m beginning to prepare the outline. It’s already on the table of the great writer Yamada Elf’s workshop.”
“Hoh? Is that so? Amazing.”
Meaning I have to harass her. Let’s see…in order to do that…..
Elf glanced at me again, said:
“Hm ~ look like you are interested.”
“Yeah. I’m interested.”
“Is that so? Just like that?”
“Ah ah, yup. I want to take a look at your workshop already. Maybe I could benefit from something new.”
Although it was an excuse for me to enter Elf’s workshop, I wasn’t lying.
“Ah ~ Hm, not a bad idea!”
Elf put her hands on her chest and happily said:
“Okay, then I will grant you the right to see my workshop!”
This girl is so easy to handle.
“Got it. Then I will gratefully follow you.”
“That settles it! Okay! Let’s go!”
Entering the Crystal Palace, I followed Elf to the second floor.
“Um ~ Hm ~?”
Leading the way, somehow Elf looked very happy.
Strange. Did she plan a trap for me?
The second floor of the Crystal Palace was nearly the same as my home. Although the insides were slightly different, corresponding to the Izumi house’s ‘never opened door’ was Elf’s workshop.
A golden handle on a wooden door, with a ‘Office Moonside’ name plate.
With a clumsy attitude, Elf opened the door. I took a look inside.
“Hm hm…welcome, newbie. This is my company’s entrance.”
I couldn’t follow her rhythm.
“You said company, meaning you already made it legal?”
“Of course! I’m an author whose book was made into an anime. To make it legal is a must in order to implement tax and whatever.”
“Ha~ is that so. It feels so troublesome.”
“It’s troublesome, but it can’t be helped. Because I’m an author whose book was made into an anime. My annual income needs to be taken care of this way. With your level, you could be fine with the black magic item ‘bank account card’.”
“Don’t make it sound like everyone’s income report is a bad thing. And don’t estimate my annual income!”
“By the way, this is my card.”
“Ah, thank you. I will gratefully accept it.”
With a pose that made me very uncomfortable, Elf gave me her card.
A white card with green letters. It listed the company name ‘Office Moonside’, followed by title and pen name — “Greater Novelist Elf Yamada” …the heck?
“What is that?”
I seriously asked. Elf scratched her head and said:
“What do you mean?”
“Novelist – I understand this part…Authors usually put that in front of their name. But what about ‘Greater’? Does that mean…you are a great author already?”
What an idiot. To think that someone would actually put ‘Great’ on their card.
Because of the sheer absurdity of this situation, my body trembled a bit.
Elf pressed a hand to her chest and made a ridiculous pose:
“In my opinion, there are many levels among novelist. How could someone like me be on the same level as those mongrels? That is too strange.”
Could you please speak in some way that I can understand?
“By the way…what is the requirement to get that title?”
“Of course it’s sales. Pass one million and you will get the title of ‘Greater Novelist’, which grants you a unique special skill. Pass ten million to evolve to ‘Arch Novelist’, which allows you to use fusion magic. Pass the one hundred million to reach ‘Novelist Lord’ — when you reach that level everyone below you are just insects. And when your sales reaches the five hundred million, you will become….something that can overcome our natural enemy, the ‘Tax Department’ — becoming the savior of the world – ‘Super Novelist’!’.”
I totally don’t get what are you saying, please give me a break.
I tried to respond:
“….You got quite a plan.”
“Hm, because I’m an author whose book was made into anime.”
That makes sense. As expected of a ‘Greater Novelist’.
“Where is your card?”
“I don’t have one.”
We entered Elf’s workshop while chatting.
At a corner of the room stood a printer and a shredder. A nicely designed white table at the middle of the room, a laptop on it. Next to it was a chair that looked like a Demon King’s throne. The main color was green with a slight aroma of flowers.
I felt that this place suited her.
Elf pointed at the balcony said:
“The scene from there is good! The seller told me that!”
“…Then let me take a look.”
The scene was probably the same as the one from my house since they were next to each other.
Aside from the road and the river dam, there was nothing else to see.
Although I thought so, to save her face, I wouldn’t say it out. So I opened the window that lead to the balcony.
From the balcony of the Crystal Palace, the first thing I saw was Sagiri’s room.
….Sagiri forgot to close the curtains
This is rare — as a hikikomori, Sagiri should always have the window and curtains closed.
…Did she forget? But if she ‘forgot’ now, that meant that somehow, she had to open it….it was quite hard to believe.
I couldn’t think of any reason for Sagiri to open the curtains. Clearly, from there she could only see — this Crystal Palace. Nothing else.
There is no use thinking about it, so I’ll leave it aside for the moment. Once again, I focused my attention on Sagiri’s room. There, with a headset on her head, she was drawing.
…She looked quite happy. Probably making another live video feed. This was the first time I saw her that happy. So that was what she did when she was alone in her room.
I smiled gently.
Next to me, Elf asked:
“How is the view from Crystal Palace? Not bad, isn’t it?”
She definitely couldn’t imagine that Eromanga-sensei, who she was looking for is right under her nose.
I answered truthfully “Yes, it is” before leaving the balcony.
I looked back at Elf’s workshop again. Quite large…however.
“Why do you have so many cardboard boxes in here?”
“I told you that I just moved here recently. Mostly trivial stuff and sample books are inside them.”
“Trivial stuff? Sample books?…That many?”
I brought my trivial stuff and sample books with me today.
“Hm, this is normal for an author whose book was made into an anime.” Elf smirked in triumph.
How many times did she say the word ‘anime’ today?
“Hm hm, to tell you the truth, actually I don’t need that much — but my book sold too well, thus there were so many sample books sent here. Every time a new novel was published, a lot of sample books were sent back. Ah ~ so troublesome. I couldn’t just throw them away…ah, to be an author whose book was made into an anime is so troublesome~”
She even pretended to this extent. Elf picked up her bow and said:
“If possible, just pick one you like and bring it back home. Here, I recommend this book ‘Elwynn Bow’.”
“Really!? Then give me a new book. And sign it too!”
I was truly happy.
This was the same as back then, when I bought another book that she signed.
“Oh? You want to be my servant?”
“Although I’m very concerned about the difference between what you said and the word fan, whatever, you can say that.”
“Then you should have said that earlier.”
Elf looked very happy. She patted my back.
I totally understood. When I was giving my signature, I got that feeling too.
“Wait a minute. I will give you all of my books with my signature.”
Then Elf began to dig into her pile of cardboard boxes while shaking her ass.
She’s really got a lot of sample books….I will tell you guy my ugly thoughts : because of my jealousy with the impossible sales, I didn’t buy any of her books back then.
But I need to make it clear that sales, or rather ‘the number of books we sold in a day’ had a very important meaning to us authors. Just like questionnaires to a weekly manga.
So I was conflicted with myself when I decided not to buy my competitor’s book. I was probably the only one with that impure thought in mind.
Elf naively pushed her books to me. In front of her fan, her big ego had completely disappeared. She turned back into a child her age. Really, even I felt embarrassed.
“Thank you ~”
… I am very grateful.
‘To be able to meet their favorite author whenever they wanted’ — it was one of the good things about this job. Many people would feel jealous because of that.
Although after the meeting, they might feel that their author isn’t exactly what they imagined, thus their imagination is destroyed. So I don’t recommend anyone to try and meet their favorite writer.
I carefully checked her signature.
“Your signature is really beautiful.”
“Hm hm ~ I started practicing a while ago~ I knew that I was going to have to give my signature a lot when my novel was made into an anime!”
“After your novel was made into an anime, this will be valuable ~ can you give me some more for my friends?”
“Are you going to sell it?”
Entering my favorite author’s room, receiving books with her signature, exchanging verbal attacks with her —
Suddenly I thought ‘What a happy scene’.
…It made me, made me…no, now is not the time to enjoy it.
Hurry and remember why you are here. You weren’t here to ask Yamada-sensei for her signature!
“Say, by the way….”
“Well, before you said — you wanted to find Eromanga-sensei’s real identity.”
“Ah, that huh.”
“How exactly are you going to do it? Actually, I’m interested in Eromanga-sensei’s real identity too. Allow me to help.”
Of course I was lying, but Elf believed me immediately.
She opened her notebook and said:
“By checking with real people on the Internet.”
“As long as he goes online somewhere, he will leave his trace. Forum posts. Blog articles. The illustrations that he uploaded…There were a lot. We could get some specific personal information based on that.”
Elf opened her computer’s web browser, then went to Eromanga-sensei’s blog.
“Eromanga-sensei is very active on the Internet — so I should be able to gather something.”
She spoke something so scary with a lighthearted tone.
“…So, if you find Eromanga-sensei, what will you do?”
“Contact him directly myself. Then let him read my perfect manuscript. After that, ask him to be my illustrator. I can’t bear waiting for him anymore.”
Her positive attitude made me feel like I was missing something.
“I have finished checking his blog.”
“Did you find anything?”
“Hm ~ there isn’t anything worth mentioning right now. There are some manga and anime — but no illustrations, although normally there should have been a lot. No chat log or whatever. Seems like he doesn’t participate in any activities. No real life friend either. Ah, looks like he’s got one family member, but his parents….don’t live with him? Basically, it’s like that….He could be a hikikomori who never left his room. Looks like his house is in the current area, probably nearby.”
“Wait wait! That was ‘nothing worth mentioning’? There was a lot information just now!”
“Just now was my thoughts and conclusions only. We still don’t know his real name or where he lives.”
Although what you said was right, but this much was a huge leap forward.
I need to make preparations before she finally reaches my house.
“Search for Eromanga-sensei’s tweets.”
Looked like Eromanga-sensei hold a special position inside Elf’s heart. I stood behind her, just like a younger brother watching his elder brother play. After a while, Elf sighed.
“Failure. Looks like he doesn’t have a twitter.”
Thankfully, Eromanga-sensei doesn’t announce his live video feeds.
I slowly breathed a sigh of relief. Winning or losing didn’t matter, what matters is Elf not knowing about Sagiri’s true identity. Otherwise, things would be very troublesome.
“So are we going to end it here?
“Probably. Next — well, let’s watch Eromanga-sensei’s live video feed. He is doing one as we speak.”
“It’s nothing…I just think that we shouldn’t do that today.”
My heart raced. I unconsciously looked through the window to my house – to Sagiri’s room.
She was innocently making a live video.
In addition, although I don’t know what is she doing, from the way she leaned on the table, it didn’t look like she was making art or anything. She looked like a child in kindergarten.
What a cute creature. She made people smile without knowing. If she knew that I’m looking at her, what expression would she show?
Although that though normally could brought a smile to my face, now wasn’t the time.
I tried to beat around the bush.
Should I tell the truth, that Eromanga-sensei is making that live video only a few meters away from here?
Should Elf and I watch my little sister’s video right now?
Both didn’t sound good. Because I was panicking, I couldn’t think of anything. At that time, Elf asked me:
“You, where did you look at?”
I was staring.
Elf didn’t believe me for a second, she followed my eyes —
“The next house — your family?Ah ah — that little girl?”
Elf saw Sagiri.
One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. I should hurry up and say something to her, but my mouth couldn’t move.
Elf shot a meaningful glance toward my little sister, who was showing her true self. My forehead was covered in sweat. On Elf’s computer, the live video from Eromanga-sensei had begun to run. If that continued, as soon as she checked the view on the screen and the current situation, she might figure out my little sister’s secret identity.
Just like me when I found out.
Not good….not good…not good not good not good —–
What? I looked at the source of that weird sound.
Elf burst into laughter in front of me.
“Ahahahahaha….your little sister looks so easy to tease…Khu khu khu….”
Eh? Why didn’t it follow the situation I expected? I secretly peaked at the computer screen.
In the video, Eromanga-sensei was making weird sounds like ‘Flewwww~’ and ‘Ya ~~~’ while drawing a very ero-looking illustration. Although the screen didn’t show herself, from the way the pointer moved it reflected her carefree mood.
On the other hand, the truth is Sagiri was indeed acting like that. Her beautiful white hair was a mess, her digital pen moved back and forth with ease. Although that didn’t sound like a narration of someone who was drawing, it was the truth.
Elf didn’t look at the screen, she pointed at Sagiri with trembling finger:
“Is your little sister drawing?”
I answered, despite wanting to hide the fact.
Even I didn’t know why I said that.
“Is she always like that?”
“This is the first time I saw her.”
“Does she like drawing?”
“She looks really energetic!”
“And happy too.”
Really, why did she look so happy? Even I don’t know for sure. The only thing I could understand was that this scene was full of happiness
Elf’s throat emitted a strange sound. Now…unlike before, she had a gentle smile on her face.
“I could understand her.”
I understood nothing, yet you said you understand?
“I understand.” She said with confidence: “But of course you couldn’t.”
All of those questions and answers were unclear, yet she still understood while I couldn’t. Before I could voice my question, Elf said in a certain tone:
“Her drawings must be very good.”
“She is so good that if it wasn’t because of Eromanga-sensei, I would ask her for help with my work.”
“Is that so?”
Although she is Eromanga-sensei herself. But Elf could say that even without seeing Sagiri’s drawing.
In that instant, I had the urge to tell her the truth. But I immediately discarded this idea and said:
“About that, Yamada-sensei?”
“Ha? Why do you call me in that annoying way? Call me Elf.”
That was the first time I called her by name.
“Is that okay?”
“…What do you thank me for?”
“Hearing you say it just now made me very happy.”
“Are you really a novelist? Such an insignificant thing could make you happy?”
“Writing a novel isn’t like talking.”
Her words really moved me.
Elf also laughed “…I was very happy.” before continuing:
“You are nicer than I thought.”
“What is the meaning of that? What did you just say?”
You are a helpless one.
Of course I couldn’t say it out. Instead I said:
“About Eromanga-sensei, I will ask him to read your manuscript, so stop looking for him.”
“Really? You will?”
“Leave it to me. I promise.”
I said with confidence.
Elf stood up and walked to me.
She was right in front of me…until our faces almost touched.
“You have no chance of winning you know? I will take Eromanga-sensei from you.”
“We won’t know without trying. And I’m not going to accept defeat that easily.”
I faced my opponent’s eyes and announced in a low tone:
“Didn’t I tell you that we need to have a showdown?”
“….Is that so?”
Elf averted her eyes and looked down.
A silence fell upon us.
After a while….
Finally, Elf whispered:
“…You, how did you become my fan?”
“What is with that sudden question? Can I not answer it?”
“No. Say it”
Elf looked up, her posture straight with a clear provocative-intent. Her eyes looked straight into me.
Truly, being asked that by one’s favorite author is very troublesome.
What should I do? It doesn’t look like I can escape without answering…Kuh
After a long silence, just when Elf was about to speak, I said:
“……..The first time I read your book.”
“It wasn’t a sad story. It was a funny story. Yet I cried.”
It was the same for any manga, anime or novel. A very good love story would make you feel the same.
“After that, I became your fan.”
Elf blushed and looked down.
…Do something. It looks like a confession scene. I’m embarrassed too!
But since it came to this, I should finish myself.
“Back then, I experienced….something very bad. I didn’t know what to do at all. I felt depressed, every day. Just when I thought life couldn’t be worse, another bad thing happened. Simply put, I was totally beaten….But after I read your stupid story, after I both cried and laughed, I somehow recovered a little.”
“I see…are you giving me a compliment?”
“Yes I am. Every time we met, I felt that your are a mess. But you really can write a good book.”
“That was your way of praising? You’re treating me like an idiot!”
“No, of course not.”
Faced with this little girl’s fist, I raised a hand to block her.
“How should I put it. Maybe you won’t believe me, but back then, I really thought that novels could save mankind. Although now isn’t the right time for it, I want to say thank. Thank you very much.”
“Ah, you are welcome.”
To conceal her embarrassment, Elf turned away.
“However, even I can’t impress all the audience now.”
That is normal. However, adding ‘now’ is really your style.
“But I’m a genius. Each of my books will make a hundred million readers cry.”
She slowly took a breath and said with sincerity:
“But you, your book, could at least help save someone, right?”
My eyes widened, then I laughed and said:
“It’s good if that’s the case.”
At that time, I couldn’t remember the first person who told me his impression regarding my book.
And my little sister’s laughter still rang loudly through the laptop’s speaker.