Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Gakuen Kino 4 - Chapter 7 (Part 4)

The Allison/Lillia and Treize/Meg and Seron poll from the previous post is still up, in case you haven't voted yet. It looks like the chronological option is winning by quite a bit, but I'll keep the poll running until I finish this volume of Gakuen Kino.

Enjoy!


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Chapter 7 - Part 4: Elias’s Battle
~Fight for You~


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“We’re done for...”

Elias was nearly sobbing.

“...”

Sara remained silent, sitting as though in prayer.

“Don’t worry. It’s going to be all right.”

Chako-sensei said, casually dropping a macaroon into her mouth. At that moment--

“Sorry I’m late!” Kino cried, bursting in through the door.

The waiting room was already empty. Everyone else had already performed (or were still performing), and those who had finished cleaning up after themselves were sitting with the audience to watch the last of the performances.

“I’ll get ready right away!”

Wait a second. This isn’t Kino. This is Mysterious Kino. How can you tell? By her school-issue sweatpants.

“Where were you... huh?” Elias said, interrupting himself partway through, “You’re Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino! What are you doing here?” He asked.

“Oh my gosh! You’re Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino! I’ve heard rumors about you at school...” Sara said, eyes wide.

“Uh... well... some things came up, and...”

Kino could not tell them the truth. This was because...

“Greetings, everyone!”

This guy ↑ followed her all the way here, making it impossible for Kino to undo her transformation.

“Samoyed Mask!” Elias exclaimed, reeling in shock for the second time. What a well-informed boy.

“What... what are the heroes of the school doing here at the concert?! What’s going on here?”

Elias must have been very surprised. It seemed like all kinds of emotions were getting the better of him at once.

“May I come in?”

Asking for permission to enter (but not really because he was already inside) was Detective Wanwan, clad in a black coat.

“Whoa!”

Elias leapt up as though a dog had bitten his ankle and fell on his rear. He looked up at the young man in black clothes and sunglasses.

“D-Detective Wanwan...”

There’s nothing you don’t know, is there, Elias? Who shot J. F. Kennedy?

“It was _____________...”

You’re one bright kid. (Name censored for obvious reasons)

Then let’s try another question. What are the true identities of these three heroes?

“I don’t know. I just can’t tell... Their transformations are too perfect...”

Thank goodness for that.

Sara was frozen in shock. Chako-sensei sipped tea beside her and turned to our heroes.

“Oh? And what brings all three warriors of justice here?”

[I’m been asked to fill come in take Kino’s Shizu’s Inuyama place busy on today performance stage!]

Hey, hey! Not all at once! Your lines are getting mixed up together!

Now, one at a time!

“I was asked to take Kino’s place on stage because she collapsed of hunger!” Said Mysterious Kino.

“I’ve been asked to take the stage in Shizu’s stead because he has been taken to the hospital for acute appendicitis!” Said Samoyed Mask V.

“I was told that Inuyama is too busy brushing his teeth today to join the performance.” Said Detective Wanwan.

Kino made clearly visible her outrage at Samoyed Mask V taking Shizu’s place, but she said nothing because she did not want to end up jeopardizing the performance because of a few complaints. And as for Detective Wanwan, she preferred him to Inuyama anyway.

“So all three of them had to cancel last minute? That’s horrible. They should be ashamed of themselves.” Chako-sensei said, looking as relaxed as can be. “Then I’m counting on you to play in their stead!”

“Yes ma’am!” “Of course!” “Yes!”

“Excellent!”

Chako-sensei got off her seat and picked up a small, 20-centimeter basket that had been lying face-down by the table.

“All of this is yours.”

The objects hiding under the basket shone like the lights of paradise.

“Wow!”

At least, that’s what it looked like to Kino, from whose eyes sparkles were falling.

There, underneath the basket, was a gigantic circular platter about a meter in diameter, laden with over a hundred colorful cakes!

Hm? Is there something wrong with the scale? Please don’t demand exact science from a professional writer.

“Help yourself, everyone. Recharge yourselves before the performance. I was saving these for the Take Action Now Club, but I can’t just give away these lovely things to such irresponsible students. Now, there’s only three minutes left before we have to take our instruments and go up on stage...”

The warriors of justice dug into the cakes.

The warriors of justice finished the cakes.

“...So please be quick.”

They were done before Chako-sensei had time to finish her sentence. This kind of superhuman speed is a basic requirement for warriors of justice these days. Colossal power needs colossal amounts of calories.

Because Kino was faster than the others, she managed to finish off about forty cakes on her own. She wiped whipped cream off her lips with her fingers and licked them.

“I could still have some more, but they say it’s better not to stuff yourself too full. Eighty percent!”

Huh.

At that point, a crew member poked his head into the waiting room.

“The... ‘Take Action Now Club’? It’s almost time for you to come up on stage!”


“All right! Let’s get going!” Kino cried, energetically taking to her feet.

“The bass calls to me.” Samoyed Mask V said, getting up with his hand on his katana.

“It’s time to rock...” Detective Wanwan muttered as he stood up.

They took hold of the guitar, bass, and drumsticks respectively.

“We’ll do our best!” They said, following the crew member out of the waiting room.


“...”

“...”

Sara and Elias watched them depart with mouths agape.

“It’s not going precisely as planned, but it’ll be all right.” Chako-sensei assured them.

But Elias the Chickenhearted did not seem to be convinced.

“B-but...”

“It’s going to be okay!” Sara interrupted him, in a clear and confident voice that was a total 180 from her earlier tone. “If Chako-sensei says it’ll be all right, then it will be. I believe in sensei!”

Chako-sensei grinned. But Elias looked like he was about to burst into tears.

“I... I...”

‘I’m so useless...’ He thought, but he could not bring himself to say it out loud. He got to his feet.

“Elias?”

Ignoring Sara’s voice calling after him, Elias ran out of the waiting room.

He was not running towards the stage, where the others had gone.

Instead, Elias took the door that Kino had used to leave earlier.

“I’m... I’m completely useless...” He said weakly, running through the hall with tears scattering in his wake.

He ran and ran. Through the door to the outside.

His breathing was ragged now, but he took a very deep breath.

“I’M COMPLETELY USELESS!” He cried to the empty parking lot.

“There’s nothing I can do for her! She doesn’t even need me! Because... because I’m weak. Because I’m always so scared...”

Elias continued to cry, tears dribbling down his cheeks and his voice becoming nasal.

There were no people around to hear his voice.

But there were some demons there.

GUOOOOOHHHH! GROAAAAR!

Two demons howled from either side of Elias.

“I’m just- huh?”

And just as Elias noticed them in the midst of his self-deprecating screams, they easily knocked him away with their large arms.

Elias’s tiny body flew through the air.

“Ugh!”

He fell onto the flower bed on his back.

Not knowing what was going on, Elias fought the aching of his body and the dizziness of his vision as he saw what was going on.

The two demons were heading for the doors--the doors that Elias had left wide open.

GUOOOOH! GRAAAHHH!

The demons were howling as though they were happy to have finally found the entrance.

Wait, so is that why they couldn’t get inside all this time? Because they couldn’t find the doors?! It looks like the more demons there are at once, the more stupid they get. Yes, I made this up just now. Yes, it is canon.

“Demons...”

Elias, also being a student at Kino’s school, could tell what was going on even in his weakened state. Several people must have been tempted into becoming demons.

“...Are they after Sara?!”

Although Elias has no concrete proof backing his assumption, he had good reason to believe that this was the case.

He also realized one unfortunate fact.

“No! Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino is... she’s...”

That’s right.

All three warriors of justice had taken the stage.


At this very moment, Kino and the others were indeed standing on the stage.

[Finally, our last performance! This is the Take Action Now Club, from the local _______ Academy! All of the members are high school students. And by the way, those are some very interesting costumes you’re all wearing today. What was your inspiration?] The emcee asked.

“Uh... Halloween.” Kino said. Well, Halloween was just a few days ago.


“...”

Elias stood blankly, a thin stream of blood trailing down his face and the bridge of his nose. It looked like he had a small cut on his forehead.

The demons happily stepped towards the door together, and crashed into each other as they attempted to squeeze in at the same time. Is this supposed to be a slapstick comedy?

Elias watched them struggle again and again. As his vision grew red, he began to think:

‘If only I had power... Then I could defeat those demons.

‘No... Even if I couldn’t...

‘If nothing else... I... I could hold them off...

‘I could keep them away from Sara until Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino finishes performing...

‘Even if it means I have to give up my life...

‘I...’


[Is that what you truly desire?]


There was a voice.

Elias was no longer able to even wonder where that voice had come from.


“Yes.”


[How far are you willing to go to fulfill your wish?]


“As far as it takes.”


[Do you wish for power?]


“Yes.”


[How will you use your newfound strength?]


“I’m going to use it to protect Sara.”


[Once you have taken hold of this power, there will be no turning back.]


“That’s fine with me.”


[Hoh. So do you not care what happens to you?]


“As long as I can save Sara... I don’t care what happens.”


[Your courage is admirable. Then I shall grant you the power you desire. Use it as you will.]


“Thank you...”


The moment Elias’s consciousness faded, his body began to change.

He trembled for a moment, before his arms and legs began to grow.

His entire body became larger.

His uniform tore like scraps of paper and scattered across the flower bed.

His messy blond hair began to grow.


GUOOOOOOH! GROAAAAAAR!

The two demons had finally figured out that they could pass through the doors if they went in one at a time. They were now glaring at each other to determine who would be the first to enter.

At that very moment, yet another demon loomed behind them.


<=>


[Now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Here is the Take Action Now Club with their song, ‘My gun is a Hotchkiss’!]

The emcee left the stage.

“A-one, a-two, a-one, two, three, four...”

Detective Wanwan started off the song from the drum set.

Samoyed Mask V’s bass began to rumble.

Kino, who stood with her head bowed and her guitar before her,

“Start!”

Finally raised her head. She confidently played a powerful chord and took a deep breath.

She then began to sing.


[Step over the past and future and raise a battle cry~]


GUOOOOOH!

The two demons were thrown back all the way to the parking lot with a painful cry.

GUOH? GRAH?!

They got to their feet, and looked over at the door that they had been trying to enter until just moments ago.

GRRRRRRRRRRR...

A demon covered in golden fur snarled at them, carefully closing the community center doors.


[They call you a barbarian, and you’re covered in blood~]


The golden demon leapt forward.

It charged straight ahead, towards the two black demons.

It then attacked them with both its arms. The demon on the right was knocked backwards by the blow, but the one on the left evaded the attack and landed a powerful kick on the golden demon.

The golden demon was sent flying into a truck in the parking lot. The truck’s windshield cracked.


[But fight on with your comrades in arms~]


The black demons charged, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. But the golden demon did not show any sign of running.

GUUUUUUOHH!

It roared at its enemies, landing a jab on one of the demons’ faces. The poor thing spun in midair like a top. The second demon, however, launched itself from the ground and landed a flying jump kick on the golden demon. The asphalt covering the parking lot shattered as the golden demon crashed onto it.


[You alone can enter battle, on behalf of those who can’t
Though humans are tragic creatures destined to fight forever~]


The demon that had landed the kick quickly leapt at the fallen golden demon. It jammed its knee into the golden demon’s stomach.

GUOOOOOOOH!

The golden demon cried out in pain, saliva bursting from its mouth.

As the first demon continued its relentless assault, the second demon that had been knocked away returned, mercilessly adding to the one-sided show of violence.


[Though this truth is played out for the ages~]


The beatings continued for several seconds. The golden demon desperately struggled to get back up, but soon even its moans of pain ended as it fell limply to the ground.


[We’d sooner mark ourselves for Hell than send our loved ones to Heaven today~]


The black demons left the golden demon where it lay, and turned back towards the community center--the doors through which they could now pass.

Groar. Rrr...

They exchanged glances and nodded happily, then set their right feet forward at the same time.


[We march into the battlefield to protect their futures~]


And as they prepared to follow up with their left--

Guoh? Groar...?

They realized that they could not move their left feet. They looked down.

The hands that were clutching their left feet were covered in golden fur.


[Now, soldiers, let us march~]


Guoooooohhh...

The golden demon slowly got to its feet. Its grip on the black demons’ legs remained, as it hoisted them upside-down into the air.


[Hold your heads high and walk side-by-side~]


They were spinning. The demons were spinning.

As soon as it was fully on its feet, the golden demon began to spin where it stood.

The black demons, held in midair by their ankles, spun. Centrifugal forces forced blood into their heads. Everything was spinning.


[The gun you carry is the weight of all you must defend
Remember and remember~]


GUOOOOOOH!

The golden demon let go of its grip on the black demons. They flew through the air and hit the community center’s concrete wall. Huge cracks were left in the wake of their landing.

Guoh... Grr...

The two demons lost consciousness, falling to the grass and lying still.


[My gun is a Hotchkiss~!]

Kino beautifully finished the song, playing her final chord.

Samoyed Mask V and Detective Wanwan, on the bass and drum set respectively, sounded out the finale. And at that very moment--

Grrrr...

The golden demon stumbled where it stood, falling to the ground beside a truck. It also lay completely still.


“It’s over...”

A wave of applause swept over Kino as she stood on the stage, not even thinking to wipe the sweat on her brow.

The audience, which filled the hall almost to full capacity, showed the Take Action Club no shortage of praise.

Kino turned around. The masked man with the apple on his head was standing there with his teeth sparkling under the lights. The young man wearing sunglasses and sitting at the drums had a slightly disheartened, but proud expression on his face.

[Amazing!] Cried the emcee as he stepped onto the stage. [Excellent performance! And I really have to say, those lyrics were something else!]

He pushed his mic into Kino’s face.

“Uh... um... Thank you, everyone!” Kino said, bowing deeply with the guitar still hanging from its straps. There was another round of applause.

[It looks like this group still has one more song to play. Since ‘My Gun is a Hotchkiss’ was a relatively short song, you still have plenty of time left for your next performance!]

Kino frowned. Her brow was so crinkled that even someone sitting in the back of the back would be able to count the creases.

This was the first she’d heard about a second song. She hadn’t even practiced for it. What was going on?

“And this time, I’ll also be joining them as their supervising teacher.”

That voice belonged to Chako-sensei.

“What?”

Kino turned around towards her.

Standing there were two people.

One was Sara, who was still dressed in her school uniform. But Chako-sensei, who had been wearing a rather professional outfit until just minutes earlier--

“...”

Chako-sensei was dressed so loudly that Kino shut her mouth without even thinking.

Her white hair was standing on end in spikes, and there was face paint on her cheeks. The palette of her clothes consisted of bright primary colors, like the plumage of a tropical bird.

And slung around her shoulders was an electric guitar.


Gakuen Kino’s Music and Instrument Corner - Part 5

Although Kino had no way of knowing this, Chako-sensei’s guitar was a Gibson Les Paul. This particular Cherry Sunburst model was made in 1995. The main body was deep red like American cherries, and a splash of sunscorched yellow graced the front of the guitar.

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most famous electric guitars in the world, alongside the Fender Stratocaster. It was named after the great guitarist Les Paul.

End explanation.


As Kino looked on in confusion,

“Hello there, everyone! Sorry to keep you waiting!”

Chako-sensei took center stage, her every step oozing with nigh-artificial cuteness.

“...”

Sara followed behind her, bearing in her eyes all the determination of a warrior bound for the battlefield.

“Wh-what’s going on? Kino told me when she collapsed of hunger that I only had to perform this one song.” Kino whispered to Chako-sensei as the latter drew near.

“I’m sorry. We didn’t tell Kino, but we decided to play a second song.”

“What?”

Kino turned to the others. And to her great shock--

“Hm?”

Samoyed Mask V and Detective Wanwan were both preparing for the second performance as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

‘What, so you all left me out of this?’ Kino thought, slightly disappointed.

“...”

But she soon reminded herself that Chako-sensei wouldn’t have done such a thing without good reason. Actually, she also considered the possibility that Chako-sensei didn’t have any reason in particular for this bizarre choice.

Either way, standing around here was a waste of time. Kino bowed to the audience once more and began to walk off the stage.

“Make sure you keep an eye out.” Chako-sensei said under her breath as Kino passed by, handing her something. It was a PDA of some sort, about the size of a small book.

Although Kino didn’t know enough about technology to pinpoint the specifics about the model, she understood what was going on. Chako-sensei probably wanted her to keep an eye out on the internet broadcast.

‘But can’t I watch it all on the computer in the waiting room?’ Kino wondered, taking the PDA with her as she left for the waiting room.


“This is so strange. What’s she up to?” Kino wondered. She walked down the hall towards the waiting room, and confirming that there was no one in sight, she undid her transformation. Her sweatpants disappeared as she took another step forward.

She fiddled with the PDA for a while until the screen finally flickered to life. She saw Chako-sensei prepping her guitar on the stage. She could hear the murmuring of the audience.

“Chako-sensei is going to play the guitar while Sara sings.” Hermes said from Kino’s belt. “I wonder if she’ll sing better than you, Kino.”

“Who knows? Let’s see what she’s made of.” Kino chuckled.

“You shouldn’t be so haughty, you know.”

“Ahahaha...”

Kino and Hermes cheerfully stepped into the waiting room.

“Huh. Where’d Elias go?”

Elias was nowhere to be found. The waiting room was empty.

Was he watching from the audience, Kino wondered. She assumed that he was, so she did not worry about him. And there was no need for him to have stuck around to watch their things anyway, as they did not have any valuables that needed guarding. Their cake was already in their stomachs, after all.

Kino decided to relax and watch the performance through the PDA. She sat in a chair and leaned back.

It was at that very moment.

“!”

A vein on her forehead suddenly grew visible. Again.

“Not again!”

Kino clambered out of her chair, knocking it to the floor in the process.

“A demon.” Hermes confirmed.

“There’s more of them?!”

Kino ground her teeth as she flew out of the room. She raised the PDA’s volume to its maximum and hung it by its strap beside Hermes. Now she would at least be able to hear the performance.

And so,

“From my cold! Dead! Hands!”

Kino transformed for the ninth time today.


<=>


A little before Kino transformed into Mysterious Kino:

“I don’t care what you have to do! Shut up and do as I say!!”

A middle-aged man was roaring into the receiver with a look of utter outrage in his eyes. He was wearing a very expensive suit, and was sitting in a luxurious office atop a very high skyscraper. He was probably the president of a large company.

All of Tokyo was visible from the windows. A helicopter was flying across the sky.

The middle-aged man was not alone in this large office. He was accompanied by a woman who looked to be his secretary and several men who seemed to be his subordinates. They looked nothing short of disheartened, and the air around them was as solemn as a funeral.

The company president raised his voice.

“That’s it! The power! We can just cut the power to the community center! Then they won’t be able to continue the broadcast! Just one hour--an hour-long blackout in this area, and everything will be all right!”

What an unbelievable idea.

The computer screen in the office was displaying the livestream of the performance. The Take Action Now Club was clearly visible. It was the very image that was being shown on Kino’s PDA.

“WHAT?! Listen closely, now. Cut the power immediately, or I’ll kill you and your family! Your wife, your children and their spouses, and even your newborn grandson!”

He was talking like this was nothing, but if you think about it, threats like this are basically a crime.

The man on the other end of the conversation:

[Y-yes, sir... But if I cut the power, I’ll be fired for certain... If you could possibly prepare a place for me in your company...] He said feebly. This man was probably one of the officials at the power company.

“Is that all? That’s fine by me. I’ll have you join my company as an advisor. Now you’ll be set for life! Go! Do it!”

The president grinned, sticking out his tongue at the subordinates standing beside him. The subordinates, looking a little more relaxed now, nodded ecstatically.

It looked like these people had no intention of following through with this promise. In fact, they were planning to push all of the blame onto this hapless power company official.

The evil president looked at Chako-sensei on the screen as she finished up her preparations.

“Yes. Perfect timing. I’ll count down to zero, at which point you’ll cut the power.”

Some of you might be wondering if this guy’s deluded himself into thinking this was some sort of a rocket launch, but a countdown is a technique you can use to prevent your target from bailing at the last second. People need to have a sense of urgency pushing them when they’re about to do something big. Like bungee jumping.

“Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.”

BANG!

Just before the man could say ‘six’, the glass windows shattered. A powerful gust of wind blew through the office, creating a gale that sent papers flying everywhere.

“Gah!” “Eep!” “What the-” “Oh no!”

His employees were screaming.

“What in the world is going on here?!”

The president bellowed through the howling wind.

It was at that very moment.

They caught sight of a woman standing in the debris.

She was slender in build, and her eyes were covered in sunglasses. But the wrinkles on her face and her long silver hair gave away the fact that she was quite elderly.

She was wearing black, tight-fitting pants, and a white shirt topped off with a black jacket. Holstered at her waist was a single revolver.

The rope hanging in from the window disappeared along with the ferocious roar of the helicopter. It was the very chopper that had been flying across the sky a little earlier. Looks like it was a piece of foreshadowing after all.

“Wh-what do you want?” The president gaped, forgetting even the countdown. His shock wasn’t surprising in the least, seeing as it wasn’t very common for people to trespass into a room two hundred meters in the air and covered in bulletproof glass.

“I am the Beautiful Senior Gunman, Granny the Super.” The woman said casually, even though no one had asked for her name. “I am here to put a stop to your evil deeds.”

“Wh-what is this?! Who is this senile old woman?!”

Oh dear.

It looks like this poor company president had no idea.

The fact of the matter was that this woman he had just shouted at was the famous ‘Beautiful Senior Gunman, Granny the Super’.

Militaries around the world trembled in fear of her, educating all recruits thus: There is no shame in fleeing from Granny the Super, and fleeing from her does not constitute an act of desertion. In other words, a flee-on-sight order.

Her legends had been immortalized in countless movies through the ages. More recently, Japan had joined the trend with films like [Granny on the Cliff by the Sea] and [Granny Cantabile]. The 3-D Hollywood film, [Granvatar], also went on to become a mega-hit.

For your reference, her rather modest entrance today is because she wanted to keep her activities a little more discreet this time.

The Blue Impulses from the Air Self-Defense Force’s Acrobatics Team, which provided the air show for Granny the Super last time, were currently flying over the skies of the Iruma Base. The Iruma Base has a celebration featuring their performances every year on this day.

“Hey! Don’t just stand around here!” The president said, turning to his subordinates. The men quickly drew something that resembled handguns from their pockets.

This weapon, which is an almost uncanny replica of a mid-sized automatic handgun, is actually something called a Taser. When you pull the trigger on one of these babies, it shoots out two small darts that plunge into the target and shoots tens of thousands of volts into the body. Normal humans would be rendered immobile very quickly.

This weapon is used in the States by the police to subdue fleeing criminals without killing them, but it it cannot be purchased here in Japan.

To think that run-of-the-mill employees in this company could carry around weapons like this. This was no normal workplace, that much was certain.

“Tie up this crazy old loon and toss her out the window or something!” The president said, turning his back on the woman to resume his countdown.

“Excuse me.”

At that instant, someone snatched the receiver from behind him.

“What the...”

The president turned around. Granny the Super’s face was a mere half-meter from his. His own stupefied face was staring back through her sunglasses.

“Wha...?”

He turned his gaze slightly to the side. His subordinates had fallen to the floor in a heap, and the secretary was rooted to the spot, her cheeks pale.

“I... didn’t even see her move...” She managed to gasp before her eyes rolled back into her head and she fainted on the spot.

“Eeeee...”

The president let out a decidedly un-dignified squeal as he stood frozen where he stood.

“Excuse me. Hello? Yes. The president has changed his mind, and would like to let you know that there will be no need to cut the power. We will take care of the rest, so please continue with your work. Thank you.” Granny the Super said into the receiver, hanging up afterwards.

“Wh-what do you think you’re-”

The president glanced over at the monitor. The performance had already started.

He faced forward again.

“Eeeeee!”

There was no one there. The receiver had been placed back onto the phone.

“...”

The president gaped blankly for several seconds.

“...Is this... a dream...? Yes... it must be. It must be a nightmare. Ahaha! Yes! Just a silly nightmare!” He concluded. “This was all just an accident!”

Something must have crashed into the windows and knocked everyone to the floor, he convinced himself. He must have been having a bad dream, he thought.

The president again picked up the receiver and prepared to press the redial button.

“Hm?”

It was then that he noticed the silent change in his surroundings.

The wall, which had only moments ago been a pristine white, was covered in large letters of red.

[Turn yourself in. I will be watching everything. -Granny the Super.]

It was said that his scream of terror could be heard from all the way in Ibaraki Prefecture.


-----


Part 5.


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