== Chapter three ==
Now it’s March, a few days after White Day.
Sunday morning, due to some reasons, I was cleaning my utterly-trashed-living room, fuming the entire time. The smell of high school students were everywhere, and it made me very uncomfortable.
“Ha ~ I’m so bored….”
I sighed, but suddenly there were the sound of footstep coming from the stairs.
“Could it be Sagiri?”
I turned to it – nope, not Sagiri. It’s Elf. She came from my balcony, via the locked room. Really, I already told Sagiri to not let people use her room as entrance.
“Good morning Masamune! A cute girl is coming to play —“She caught the sight of my hideous living room, groaned and covered her nose
“Alcohol smell? What is going on?”
“First thing first, I didn’t drink.”
“I knew that already. What I meant is that! That weird thing over here!?”
She pointed at the sofa, where a male teenager was sleeping. He was also the source of the smell.
“That one? As you see, it’s Shidou-kun.”
Still covering her nose, Elf came closer to take a look, and said:
“Eh? Kunimitsu? Wow, what an expression. I didn’t recognize him.”
He looked like a corpse, with spit coming out of his mouth. He was totally unlike the normal bright teenager I knew.
“What happened? Why is he laying here? Is he still alive?”
“Alive? Yes. And why….well, do you remember White Day a few days ago?”
“Yes yes. I remembered that Kunimitsu liked the old hag editor, and he made chocolate for her.”
“Yup, and this is the result.” I pointed at the sofa in disgust.
“Thing went wrong? Ah ~ I told him to not get his hopes up…so that’s why he turned out this way?”
“Well, even Kagurazaka-san wouldn’t rejected him outright, but the short version is like this: he just gave her the chocolate, and she was like 「 thank you, everyone will take a bite 」. Then yes, everyone in the editorial department took a bite until all of it was gone.”
It was so sad. So heartbreaking.
“That was all I knew. Shidou-kun showed up at my house in this state already.”
“What a weak mind. I would certainly be unaffected by that. Worse case, I would only treat it like a temporary loss. We can always retry later, so why waste time being depressed? What an idiot.”
Elf looked like she lost interest, and sighed:
“Masamune, do you know? In the vast universe, there was a poor girl, who gave her love chocolate away but received nothing in return.”
Someone was trying to complain here…
“Wait wait, I did give you a present for White Day.”
“You gave me something only suited for some old man…never mind, the taste is good enough. But I bet your present to every girl was the same, right?”
Elf said, and slightly lifted her hand to touch my lip.
“No no, each person had a different present.”
“Hmhm, then ~ tell me exactly.”
“Because I said so!”
Elf pouted. It didn’t look like she would explain herself. I had no choice but to comply.
“…First, Muramasa-senpai. I gave her a collection of my short story.”
“I know. I asked her. She asked for that present herself, didn’t she?”
“…Yup. And…Tomoe got an autograph from Muramasa-senpai and her story.”
“I see. If I remember correctly, she is a fan of Muramasa.”
“About Kagurazaka-san, I tried my best to give her a somewhat finished manuscript. Megumi…well, she didn’t receive anything, but…well….”
“Stop stalling, what happened?”
“I don’t remember it very well, can we skip that?”
“No. Spill it.”
Elf grinned. I gave up and told her about Megumi’s White Day.
I took a stack of paper from its place next to the television and said:
“Take a look. Megumi gave it to me before White Day.”
“What is that? A girl gave you a present before White Day?”
“Just take a look.”
“….” Elf began to read. Inside was a list, with colorful illustrations.
“The right to go a park with Onii-san ♥ (More details will be discussed later)” “The right to go watch a movie with Onii-san ♥” “The right to ask Onii-san for an introduction to ten famous authors” “The right to sleep at Izumi’s house ♥” “The right to ask Onii-san to come over and sleep at home” “The special present if Onii-san can make Izumi-chan go to school!”
I could see Elf’s face twist in horror. Yup, she got it alright, but I need to explain anyway.
“See? This is present list that Megumi gave me, which is —“
“…She wrote White Day’s present. She gave you a list? Seriously?”
“Wow, what a shameless girl.”
Megumi is not exactly shameless like Elf said, but yes, she indeed went overboard by asking for presents via a list. I was speechless when I received this list too.
“…Looks like the price for that chocolate is coming. I need to repay this list before May.”
I had planned to repay her, but this list proved too difficult. There was nothing I could think of.
“Hmm ~ I see! Ha, maybe it’s a good thing. You would be dead already if Masamune made a similar list.”
“Probably not though.”
Elf happily took the list, and pointed at a line:
“It’s decided, I want this.”
“Eh? Wait, I planned to give Megumi this…”
“I want this for my White Day gift. Give it to me, Masamune.”
She didn’t listen to me at all. Well, fine. She helped me a lot, now it was a chance to repay her. I nodded, and smiled:
“Alright, what do you want from that list?”
I looked at her finger, my eyes widened:
Elf’s request was “The right to go a park with Onii-san ♥ (More details will be discussed later)”
“I’m looking forward to it, Onii-san ♥”
She laughed, which made my heart skip a beat.
“The next is ~ planning for our date…well, that was the idea, but the smell is horrible, I’m in no mood to talk about it.”
Although she said that, Elf returned the list to me.
“Let’s continue our talk from earlier. I can understand Kunimitsu’s situation, but…” She pointed at a corner of the room “What about the stranger who is drinking beer in a corner?”
I followed her finger and saw a man in his twenties surrounded by an unbearable atmosphere.
He had long, blonde-dyed hair, with a black shirt, and silver accessories. At first glance, he looked like a model for Me*’s Knuckle. He must be quiet good looking, but today his beard was unshaved, and he had deep black eyes and looked frail.
He’s a –
“Novelist, my senior. KusanagiRyouki-sensei.”
Unlike his looks, his novel was quiet good, especially in the romance genre. Recently, one of his novels, “Pure Love”- which is a story about the love of a high class lady – was adapted into an anime. Because of his looks, no one in his family knows(They probably wouldn’t believe him anyway) that he’s a novelist.
Hearing his name, Elf immediately recognized it, and slammed her hand together:
“KusanagiRyouki – ah, the one whose anime aired at the same time as my Dark Elf, right?”
“Yup, this’s him.”
He still had a great time during the New Year’s party –
“See? He doesn’t look much different from a zombie now. He’s been like that since he returned here with Shidou-kun – right, senpai?”
What I was trying to say was: you two, should return to your homes.
Kusanagi-senpai looked up slightly, tooka slip of beer, and muttered:
“…Who, who…how dare you speak to your senior that way?”
Zombie-appearance, reeking of alcohol. Disgusting. But I’m not afraid, I replied:
“You two spewed all over my living room, I can’t stand it anymore! I’m angry!”
My room’s atmosphere is absolutely unbearable. What would you do if my little sister blamed me?
“…I didn’t spew.”
“It doesn’t make it any better! Bring your friend with you on the way out.”
A moment of silence. Kusanagi-senpai took another sip, and said:
“Give me some money, I’m broke.”
“Eh? Why do you sound like Muramasa-senpai? You’re an adult, why did you leave home without your wallet?”
“Yesterday. Shidou asked me to go drinking with him” He glanced aside, and continued “While I was visiting the toilet, he asked for a luxury ¥120.000 bottle.”
I could almost see the scene from that moment.
“Can you believe it? Of course you can’t. I only knew about it when we asked for the bill!”
“Well, Shidou-kun will be very different after he drinks, anything can happen….”
“…I have to say it beforehand, I didn’t know that this guy would turn out this way.”
“It’s none of my business, I wasn’t there anyway.”
By the way, how did those two get along? They only meet at the New Year’s party, but now they can go to a bar together.
“In short, I’m broke” Kusanagi-senpai raised his hand “So give me money. For a taxi, a cab or a subway train, anything.”
Did you hear? He said give not lend. Horrible. Maybe it was because of the alcohol, or maybe not…
“Just go home!” I coldly refused his shameless request.
“Don’t be mad, it’s not good for your body” He whirled around. “Look, this vomit spot is worth ¥120.000, do you feel better now?”
“Feel better my ass! Get out!”
I was on the verge of shouting, but this drunkard didn’t comply. He just picked his beer bottle up and put it down.
…Actually, it’s not like I didn’t have any idea why Kusanagi-senpai turned out this way.
“….It can’t be helped…” I sighed, accepted this fact “Damn…I have no choice…but to take care of this”
Elf patted my shoulder:
“Need a hand?”
“Nah, I can take care of it myself. Thanks for offering, anyway.”
“It’s okay. Wait for me to get changed.”
“Thanks a lot.”
I have to say it again – whoever marries her later will be very happy.
Thanks to Elf’s help, everything went smoothly. We pulled the carpet out and brought it to the cleaning shop, threw all the beer bottles away, used deodorant…and reminded Sagiri to lock her windows.
“Phew…half way done.”
“It will probably take a while before the smell is completely gone.”
We should start cleaning.
By the way, Shidou-kun was left at the corridor, Kusanagi was sitting like a dead man, surrounded by bottles (we had no idea where he kept them).
“Senpai, stop it! You’re getting worse!”
“Last bottle…otherwise, real life only makes me want to die…”
Fine fine, have it your way – that was what I planned to do, but Elf’s curiosity peaked up, and she asked:
“Hey Masamune, what happened to him? How did he turn out this way?”
“…You’re better off not knowing.”
I did know something, but I had no reason to mention them.
Elf looked at senpai, then at the poster for Pure Love (which she just got from the garbage bin), the Blu-ray DVD in its creator’s lap before slamming her hands together.
“I got it!”
“You don’t have to say it out loud!”
But it was too late. Elf already spoke:
“Because the Blu-ray of Pure Love sold like crap, his heart took a heavy blow and turned out that way!”
“I told you to stop saying it out loud!”
“If I remember correctly, its sales were about two hundred —“
“Stop! I beg you, stop please!”
Among light novel authors, sales are forbidden words. Two authors with the same sales might be able to talk to each other happily. Or if everyone is in a good mood, we could use it to let off some stress.
But that was only in a perfect situation. Just thinking back about my first meeting with Elf: we were arguing to the point that a fight could break out at any moment.
Thankfully I was there to diffuse the situation, otherwise…
“Kukuku…so you dare speak about that in front of me…”
Thing will get ugly.
After that there were ten minutes where both sides exchanged cannon balls back and forth, but I’m not going to write it all down.
“Actually, I have no problem with the quality of the anime…as the original author, I think that the anime is good enough, everyone has given it their best…as long as I could see my characters moving around, and speaking….it’s enough…but…but….but it didn’t sell good enough!!”
“Yeah yeah I know.”
I half-heartedly replied. That’s a downside for being a young author. If only I had a junior who was more lenient (and did not vomit in my room).
Still, I couldn’t put myself in Kusanagi-senpai’s shoes. None of my novel were adapted into anime, I could only look at him in admiration. Thus, I said nothing and only listened. Just like when Elf was depressed (even for only a moment), there was nothing I could do.
Kusanagi-senpai said in a hoarse tone:
“…Izumi, do you know that I was called NEET at home?”
I could understand why. Light novel authors worked their ass off by sitting in front of the screen, the same as any other NEET. He is not the only one who was treated that way. Shidou-kun and Iare still students, and he is young enough to not raise any concerns, but if we were a bit older we would be treated as NEETs.
“I thought that as soon as I got an anime, I could proudly raise my head to announce my job within the neighborhood, and could freely ignore some old hag’s stupid question Where are you working now?…so I tried my best, hoping that an anime would change my life…But…Why! Why are the sales so bad!? Why do people who didn’t even read my book bash me? I don’t care if you speak bullshit about me, but don’t say anything about sales! Those damn affiliate blogs should just die!”
Still sitting down, he yelled.
“Yeah yeah, I know it’s hard.”
I felt bad just from listening. To think that my future might turn out this way made me unable to look away.
“But what I hated the most is those guy who gave uninformative reviews! Aaaagrh, it made me not want to work anymore! They said It’s good as long as you have anime or It’s good as long as someone likes it — like hell it is! I’m a human being too! Those trash couldn’t understand me! Trash, trash! All of them! Ohhhh….and I’m one of them too….”
He broke down crying, his hand still clicking on the phone.
“God.Damn.It! That was what I got from pushing myself to write light novels! Izumi, do you hear me!? Aaaaghhh!!!”
Crap, he was consumed by his own darkness.
At this time, Elf pulled my sleeves, and asked quietly:
“Hey Masamune, he is an adult, but he lookspretty funny when crying.”
“Please be quiet.”
Don’t pour oil into a fire.
“But ~ I understand him. I understand him a lot.” Elf suddenly nodded a few times, then became depressed “…Masamune…please listen to my complaints…my Dark Elf – Blu-ray version only sold around thirty thousand boxes…”
“I see – only thirty thousand…what?”
Did I heard it right? I thought her sales would be ten times higher than Pure Love.
“I thought I could sell around six hundred thousand boxes…then take advantage of the situation to sell six millions copies of the novel…”
She said the same thing during her first meeting with Muramasa-senpai. I thought she was joking, but it seemed like she wasn’t.
“Ah…I can’t do it after all…I can’t reach that number…the anime is finished but my novel’s sales are only about two hundred thousand…”
Only about two hundred thousand! She’s still not satisfied! She said that without any malice!
Of course, both Kusanagi-senpai and I could only stared in disbelief.
“Brat….” Senpai was trembling with rage, just like me during my first meeting with her “Izumi, I can’t believe that you can still keep calm.”
“Nah, I’ve seen something similar a few times before, so I’m somewhat immune.” I smiled wryly, and explained “She truly wanted to reach the top of the light novel industry, and truly believes that no matter how big the difference is, that she could beat that distance. She could happily announce that: the best light novel needs a combination of good story and beautiful illustrations. So just now, she didn’t mean to upset you. She truly was sad because her book didn’t sell well enough – what an idiot, right?”
Kusanagi-senpai’s brow knitted:
“Tch, you make me feel like an idiot too…never mind, I’m going to take a nap.”
“Take a nap at your own home!”
….And that’s how a precious day of mine was wasted.
As you see, this morning was bad enough – but the sad part is, what happened in the afternoon was nothing more than a disaster.
Vomit-senpai and drunkard-in-love went to face the final boss and received a sound beating – that was my tactful translation of the truth. Like I said, it happened in that same day.
Let me rephrase my situation: I’m cleaning the absolutely dirty living room with a beautiful girl in sports clothing. During that time, the suspect in black was still sitting on the floor surrounded by beer bottles. There was also another drunkard in the corridor, so the entire first floor was covered with the scent of alcohol.
Suddenly, the door gave an ominous *creak*. My whole body tensed, and my eyes locked on the moving doorknob.
Elf was curious too. The door was locked, I’m here, and certainly Sagiri was above. Yet the doorknob was slowly moving.
Like two protagonists in fighting novel, we both turned to it. After another *creak*, it swung open, and someone come in and saw our home. Instead of two happy siblings, she saw a horrible-looking home.
Seeing how messed up “her house” was, she glanced at “the strange blonde beauty” and “her nephew”, and coldly asked:
“Masamune-kun, what’s the meaning of this.”
An ice-cold, unbearable aura – that was “the enemy who wanted to separate Sagiri and I.”
“Kyo-Kyouka-san? Why are you here?”
I felt like a student who was suddenly interrupted by his teacher while chatting with friend in class. Even Elf could only ask in a stiff tone:
“Masamune, this is —?”
“Our sibling’s guardian.” [Add picture] Yes. Guardian. My father’s little sister. She looked young – in fact, young enough to be mistaken as a university student. People would probably believe her if she said that she is about Shidou-kun’s age, not to mention that she truly is younger than Kagurazaka-san. She has short, black hair, small, delicate eyes, and a calming atmosphere. Today, her western clothing clearly emphasized what kind of person she was.
Without any hesitation, Kyouka-san came to Elf, and introduced herself:
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Izumi Kyouka, and you are?”
“I’m Yamada, his neighbor.” Elf looked back at her eyes, and replied.
Amazing, she dared to meet Kyouka-san’s eyes. I certainly wouldn’t.
Hearing that, my aunt only said:
“I see. I’m sorry Yamada-san, can you please go back home for now?”
“Ara? Why, may I ask?” Elf replied, her body language clearly suggested that she prepared to engage.
I was already covered in sweat, I quickly muttered to her:
“Please, just today. Go back home.”
Seeing my expression, Elf understood and went home.
And then —
We faced each other in the living room. Kyouka-san began to lecture me:
“I’m your guardian. I agreed to let you two live together to let this child have an easier time, so she could recover. I did not allow you to host an alcohol party at home and try to engage in impure relationship!”
“Yes yes! You’re right! Completely right!”
She was right, so I could do nothing but nod. We both were still minors, so if we wanted to do something – no, if we wanted to do anything, we needed her approval. There is no way we sibling could be allowed to live alone.
Reality is not like a light novel.
Shidou-kun, Elf and Kusanagi-senpai had left. With one glare from my aunt, Kusanagi-senpai almost pissed himself in terror. So he quickly said goodbye and ran away with Shidou-kun. Damn, at least help me explain!
“Ah um…Kyouka-san…Why are you here today? Normally you would call me before …”
“You made it sound like if I came without warning, something impure would happen.”
She coldly answered, and then turned to the living room. Or rather, the living room which I was cleaning, which means it still had some bottles left.
“I will ask you again…what is the meaning of this?”
“No…there is a reason —“
“I’m not here to hear your excuse.”
Crap. Crap. Crap. She thought that I hosted this party. It was hard enough for her to agree letting us siblings lived together, but now we are in serious trouble.
“I didn’t drink a drop. Only those two before drank! They drank themselves to sleep then came here – that is the truth, please believe me!”
Kyouka-san looked at me with her dagger-like glare. I felt like Medusa herself was looking at me, my body couldn’t move at all.
But I didn’t dare to turn away. I could only steel whatever courage I had to face her.
And then —
She brought her face to my chest
A sweet fragrance entered my nose, and made me panic. But, she didn’t notice, she drew herself back, and smiled slightly:
“Alright, there is no alcohol smell. Yes, I believe you.”
I let out a sigh of relief, but she immediately let out an “it’s too soon to celebrate” aura:
“Just now….is that neighbor your girlfriend?”
“No, she is just a neighbor!”
“Neighbor? At that age? She is still a kid!”
“In that case, both Sagiri and Iare still kids too…”
Frankly, I didn’t need to hide anything. She’s our guardian, the same one who stood in our place when dealing with the publishing company.
“She only come to play and help me clean up.”
“Really? Did you plan to do something impure when I wasn’t here?”
“Absolutely not! Sagiri is above, please don’t say something strange!”
Really, why does my aunt get her weird ideas?
Maybe because I raised my voice, she looked a bit mad. Using her hands to cover her mouth, she quietly said “Sorry.”
“Anyway, do I need to lower my voice? This damn doctor said I would only make things worse. Should we make sure this child doesn’t know I’ve arrived?”
“I think that Sagiri already knows though. But yeah, please lower your voice.”
Without checking, I’m sure that the moment my aunt arrived, Sagiri had already hid inside her blanket and trembled. But true, she’s very afraid of my aunt, so maybe lowering her voice would be better.
“Ok, lower your voice then.”
She narrowed her eyes. Suddenly, I felt that the temperature in the room drop several degrees.
“Now I will tell you why I came without warning.”
“Yes, the main reason is to monitor you two, but —“
Periodic testing. A month earlier than the previous one. Before I explainthis, allow me to say something regarding my aunt, Izumi Kyouka.
Izumi Kyouka. My father’s blood-related little sister. Our guardian. She’s the only blood-related family member that Izumi Masamune has at the moment. Her characteristicswere like what you have probably seen – in light novel’s term, she’s an “ice queen”, who froze everything wherever she went.
You might say: then she is an enemy. But no, not really. Since I was a child, I already had no idea how to handle her.
During my childhood, something like that happened a lot —
“Kyouka-chan, let’s eat.”
“I hate you!”
“I know. Not let’s eat”
“I hate you the most!”
Her relationship with Mom – my blood-related mother – is bad. Really bad. And she always glared at me with a sharp look.
Even now, when I saw a girl in a high school uniform, especially a sailor uniform, I remembered back then, when “Ice Princess” would stare at me.
Back then, I was always hiding behind my father to avoid Kyouka-san’s gaze. She knew that in her brother’s house there’s someone she hated, so why did she still come? I couldn’t make heads or tails of the situation.
After Mom passed away due to a traffic accident, my father and I lived on, and supported each other. Then she came to my house more frequently.
“…Eh…Kyouka-san…why are you…here?”
Hearing me, she looked down, and said:
“I came to see if Masamue-kun has behaved or not, to see if you took care of the house or not.”
I thought she hated me?
“Oh my, Nii-san…no matter how busy you are, letting Masamue-kun eat fast food is not good…what a useless man.”
“Hmm, I haven’t even started yet. He is always like this, acting wildly and arbitrarily. See, there were only two people at home yet the room – er? Clean?”
“…I could do that by myself.”
“…You clean up the house by yourself?”
“Dad…isn’t good …at that…”
I could still remember her terrifying gaze from back then
“…You shouldn’t bother with too much trouble. As a child, you should enjoy school, enjoy playing with friends. That’s how a kid should be.”
“…I, I only did what I felt was necessary….Sorry.”
“You aren’t in the wrong, so there’s no need to apologize.”
My parents were generous, so it was kind of roughhaving an aunt who acted like the step mother from Cinderella.
“Masamune-kun, welcome back. You must be hungry, I already made dinner”
But thanks to her, I didn’t have to spend much time alone at home. By the way, because Kyouka-san’s cooking still (compared to Mom who was a cooking teacher) is not very good, I managed to learn how to cook.
Oh right, after Dad married mother – Sagiri’s blood related mother – the same thing happened over again. Okay, that should be enough. In short, I had no idea how to handle Kyouka-san.
And the reason I treated her like an enemy was because: she once tried to forcefully bring the hikikomori Sagiri out of the room. It backfired horribly and made things worse. Even now, she was making conditions for us to live together – one careless move is enough for me to be separated from Sagiri.
That’s why she is our “enemy”.
We returned to the living room and sat down in front of each other.
“Periodic testing? But it’s only March.”
“Did I ever said that this year’s periodic testing will be in April?”
Nope, she didn’t. But the first periodic testing —
“Last year, in April you said The next Periodic testing will be in a year.”
“It’s March already, not much different. Beside, testing without warning would yield better results.
“Is there a problem?”
“No, not really…”
I was surprised, that’s all. There’s nothing to worry about.
“No problem at all.”
She nodded, and said:
“There are two conditions in order for you to keep living like this, do you remember?”
Keep working and studying hard. You need some achievements.
Improve Sagiri’s situation.
Those were the conditions that I accepted. As long as I fulfilled them, we could live together. I could use my own methods to handle Sagiri’s hikikomori situation. But if I failed – then what awaited her would be Kyouka-san’s way. I’d be separated from her, and we couldn’t see each other anymore.
Back then, we had an agreement.
“I remember.” I nodded.
“Very well” My aunt coldly said, and then took a stack of paper out “Then let’s begin.”
It felt like the room was getting colder and colder…
“Masamue-kun, are you prepared?”
It was like I was standing in the middle of a snow storm, my stomach began to hurt.
She took the first paper out:
“First, your studies.”
“Here arethis year’s results.”
I handled her my report card. She took it and began to read.
I’m not boasting, but my score was quiet good. During the previous periodic testing, it managed to pass her judgement.
Kyouka-san looked up, said:
“I’ve meet with your homeroom teacher.”
“Because….” A slight pause “I’m your guardian.”
She quietly coughed, and continued:
“I have spoken with your homeroom teacher, your studiesare going well, and there’s nothing to complain about. Good achievements and academic behavior. The only thing needing to be improved is the fact that you didn’t join any club or team.”
“Sorry, I don’t have time…”
“Because you have to take care of your step sister and working, you couldn’t enjoy a normal school life.”
I don’t like it. The way she spoke irritated me.
“In order to keep my current life style, I tried my best – even work or my little sister, both are very important to me. So I have to pass your test…I’m very lazy, and without trying I would be a useless man. Sorry, please understand.”
She only listened in silence, then said:
“I don’t have anything else to add…ok, pass. There is no need to check the progress of your studies anymore.”
But her eyes closed for a moment, and then flared:
“A child that couldn’t live like a child, a child that had no choice but to live like an adult – I hate the one who caused this situation.”
“…What do you mean?”
“I hate seeing you have to try so hard.”
She hated me. Then why did she agree to be our guardian? While I’m grateful – I couldn’t understand her.
“Next is about your job.”
She looked at the paper in her hands again. What was written on it? Did she inspect me? She didn’t believe me? This test seemed to be more difficult than I thought, I needed to be careful.
“Here are the related documents.”
I gave her the documents I had prepared.
“This is the royalty report from my publishing company. Here is a tax report that my editor and I filled in.”
“Let me take a look.”
Oh crap, it felt like I was facing a tax collector agent. What am I afraid of? Could it because of Kyouka-san’s eyes? If she asked “Are you trying to evade taxes?” I would probably kneel down and beg for mercy.
“Okay, no problem.”
She put the stack of documents down, and said:
“About your work ethic, I’ve had a talk with your editor.”
Kagurazaka-san did mentioned it to me…somehow I got a bad feeling.
“Did you talk with Kagurazaka-san?”
“I hate her!”
“Ah, I see.”
Well, I wouldn’t say I like her either, but she does help me a lot.
“It doesn’t feel right badmouthing your coworker, but I get the feeling that she is the type of dirty adult who takes advantage of children for her own gain.”
It’s actually the truth though. Brutally honest, but it’s the truth.
Did my aunt think that way because I’m a kid? But work is work, it’s clear that coworkers will sometimes take advantages of each other.
“If Kagurazaka-san is a dirty adult, then I’m a dirty child, right?”
“I hate the fact that you have to work so hard! Working as a light novel author only brings bad for you!”
Really, Kagurazaka-san, what exactly did you tell my aunt that gave her such a bad impression?
“But, Kyouka-san, what about….”
“I know. Per our agreement, as long as you pass this test, I will not say anything about your work.”
Keep working and studying well. You need some achievements.
“Did Kagurazaka-san say anything else about my work?”
“Newest novel sells very well. That’s all.”
Straight to the point, huh?
“And From the beginning, I knew that if I worked together with him, we could archive great results! Actually, we are trying to increase advertisements now!”
I don’t know what to say anymore. She should have said something else instead. My aunt wasn’t much different from a member of PTA, she wouldn’t be fooled by this.
“What are you afraid of? Straighten up! You’re a man, aren’t you?”
I quickly sat upright.
“…Are you afraid?”
How could I not be?
“Don’t worry, there’s no problem here either. At least your income is stable.”
You made me worry even more! What next then? Something horrible, isn’t it?
“Next is about your novel.”
“Why are you so surprised?”
“Ah, well…this…my novel, it’s.”
My aunt slowly took a book out of her bag, and spoke its name clearly “The Cutest Little Sister in the World”, by Izumi Masamune.
My body twisted, like I just took a blow to the stomach. Kyouka-san continued:
I couldn’t take it anymore, and I asked weakly:
“Can you please not say it so loudly?”
“You mean I should lower my voice?”
“Ah, no. Forget it.”
She looked at me, her eyes were saying “Brat, I’m talking to you, listen carefully”, then she said the last part:
“The Cutest Little Sister in the World – volume 3 The Date TheHeart-Racing Moment between Me and my Little Sister
My whole body trembled in embarrassment.
Frankly speaking – recently, I saw some light novels with some very embarrassing names. What were those authors thinking, naming them like that? How would they introduce their novel?
“…You feel embarrassed from hearing the title, the author and illustrator’s name? Is this novel that embarrassing to you?”
“No! It’s my child! I’m proud of it!”
I quickly corrected her. As long as she didn’t misunderstood this point.
Seeing how nervous I was, she pushed on:
“Is that so? Then why are you reacting this way?”
I fixed my posture, looked directly at her, and answered:
“How should I put it…?
I didn’t mean that it’s embarrassing when someone else reads my novel, but letting a normal person read it still somewhat embarrassing for me. I couldn’t stand it if someone else were to show me my “The Date TheHeart-Racing Moment between Me and my Little Sister”
This is a strange feeling. Both complex, hesitationbut also happy.
“Seeing a beautiful, serious woman like you saying Eromanga was a bit…”
“Wha…!” For the first time, Kyouka-san’s expression changed. Her cheek reddened, and shuttered “Wh, what are you talking about! Beautiful, serious….don’t…don’t make fun of me!”
I probably pushed the wrong buttons, she looked mad. I need to explain, fast.
“No, I mean Eromanga (name), not erotic manga.”
“I, I know that.”
“Eh? You mean —“
“This is that child’s penname, isn’t it? I knew that already…even before you knew. The previous holder of that penname is the one I hated most. I still hate her even now!”
Bah, why do you have say it that way.
The previous holder of Eromanga-sensei is mother – Sagiri’s blood related mother. Somehow, the relationship between Kyouka-san and her was really bad – looks like she already knew who the real Eromanga-sensei was from back then.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s nothing, forget it. There are several issues that I need to address about your novel.”
She said and picked up “The Date TheHeart-Racing Moment between Me and my Little Sister”, and showed it to me.
You need certain achievements.
Income is normal, next is checking the content of my novel – to see if I had an achievement or not.
I swallowed hard, and asked:
“…Yes, please ask.”
“Good – then, your novel’s opening narration of The Cutest Little Sister in the World is 「A siscon love comedy that Izumi Masamune tried his best to write 」. What’s that supposed to mean?”
What is that supposed to mean? Crap, even if you ask…
“I meant I tried my best to write….about a siscon love comedy…”
I could felt my face getting hotter.
“Oh? Siscon here mean sister complex, isn’t it? This word doesn’t exist in psychology, but I think it means the situation when someone has more than brotherly feelings toward their own sister…”
What can I say? This is a difficult question! The truth is, “siscon” used in Sekaimo is a bit different from the usual “siscon” or “sister complex” that otaku used daily. It would be very troublesome if I didn’t clarify that, but doing so would take a lot of time —
“A siscon love comedy means two siblings happily playing together.”
I said. My aunt said “Huh”, and looked at me like she had trouble believing her own ears.
“That means the girl and the boy on the cover are brother and sister?”
“Love comedy…that mean siblings falling in love with each other?”
“..Yes, that’s about right.”
“Even if they are brother and sister.”
“Especially because they are brother and sister”
“….I don’t understand.”
Interrogation. She was interrogating me!
“Then…this character is suspicious…” she pointed at 「a certain female character 」”What is Sukebeningen-chan?”
“Sukebeningen-chan…is her online alias”
“Are you serious?”
Terrifying! Why am I trying to explain my novel’s content to an adult who hasprejudice towards otaku?
Of course, Kyouka-san didn’t stop there. She continued:
“Hmm ~ in other words, your newest novel is about the love between a brother and sister – okay, I get it.”
Look at her eyes! She didn’t even treat me like a human anymore!!!
“Yes it is, but it’s not something impure erotic like you imagined!” I desperately tried to explain “A pair of siblings live together, but their relationship is very bad. Then thanks to a sudden chance, their situation slowly changes – my novel is about that – not something impure!!”
“Really? But people wouldn’t know that without reading, would they? Look at the cover. Read the opening narration. Anyone would think it’s something perverted, don’t you agree?”
I couldn’t say anything back. The hell, is my aunt a sadist?
“Besides, you have no proof that this novel 「Has any negative effects on its readers」, right?”
“Not really, some negative effects are pretty much guaranteed.”
Wow, just now her voice sounded so cute.
“Masamue-kun, what did you just say?”
I’m dead! I slipped something I shouldn’t!
“Er, you are asking whether「my novel has any negative effects on its readers」, right? What I’m trying to say is it has both positives and negatives, that’s what makes it interesting.”
I had no way to dodge this question, so let’s hope for the best.
“Is that so?”
She glared at me with her dagger-like eyes. I quickly added:
“It’s just a bit. A tiny bit of influence! Still within the acceptable range of the company! Beside – it’s not like it will have immediate effects.”
If Elf heard me say something so negative, she would probably sigh in depression.
“Ok, that’s all I need to ask from you.”
“Then…about the results..?”
Kyouka-san closed the stack of documents, and answered:
My eyes widened in surprise. Kyouka-san took Sekaimo, and said:
“I haven’t read it…but at least I knew it isn’t a failure. I only need to ask you for confirmation.”
You knew? Then why did you put me through this interrogation?
She finished putting everything back in her bag, and kept talking:
“Testing complete. Pass.”
“Eh?” I passed? “What does that mean —“
She slowly looked at the ceiling
“Next is testing for Sagiri.”
“Wh – I’m not the only one who takes the test?”
“You were the only one who took the test last year, but this year Sagiri has to take it too. I have spoken with her.”
That means…Sagiri did say she had a promise with Kyouka-san…so this is what she meant…
“How could this test be completed only by you? Besides, I said it last year.”
Improve Sagiri’s situation
“I will see if there is any improvement. Let me see if Sagiri could rejoin society.”
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