I’m Spying on the Heroine in an Otome Game World 5723 min read
Volume 4 | Chapter 12: November (Down) – Part 2
When we reached the academy, we silently went around to the back gate. After that, we entered the school grounds through the staff entrance.
Fufufu~ Just like I thought. There’s only one club that’s currently using the sports ground. Also, when I think about it, the second year students are on the school trip right now. All of them, with the exception of Mizusaki-senpai and Kaneshiro-senpai, should have gone off to Kyoto.
One-third of the total student population are absent at the moment. And since it’s late, there should be even less students wandering around.
Maria-jou has been looking at me, Kazu-nii, and Katsuragi-kun in this order for a while now. She’s making an expression like she’s having a hard time swallowing something down. What exactly is she thinking about?
“N-Niimi-san, umm……” She hesitated.
“What’s wrong? Could you leave it for later if it’s not important?” I urged her.
“Ah, yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry. Tell me all the details later, okay?” Maria-jou stole glances at Kazu-nii and Katsuragi-kun before nodding. Really, what is she talking about?
Now, putting that aside, what’s important now is how to attack your problem.
Our goal is the candle stand in the church — in other words, the [love candle].
However, I don’t think we can complete our goal just by reaching the said church. Father Michel is most likely expecting us, so I wonder how we can move efficiently.
“There should be a toolbox at the janitor’s office, right? If there’s a metal or wooden hammer then I think we can destroy the candle stand with it,” I suggested.
Katsuragi-kun frowned a bit.
I explained in a simplified manner about what we are doing to Katsuragi-kun on the way here. [There are other people who have the same stones as you, Katsuragi-kun. For some reason, Father Michel wants to use those stones for bad things. We want to regain the stones by destroying the candle stand in the church.]
Katsuragi-kun easily believed that because he had a stone, there could be others out there with their own stone too. I wonder if it’s really okay for him to agree so quickly.
“I wish I brought a wooden sword or a fake katana with me,” Katsuragi-kun commented. It seems he’s thinking even more dangerous things than me. “But it’ll be bad if I kill someone, so the distance between me and the opponent will have to change……. Well, I guess there’s no other way.”
What no other way? I felt like asking but I’m afraid of his answer. Let’s pretend I didn’t hear anything just now.
We headed straight to the janitor’s office from the back gate. We spotted the janitor working at the gate, making Maria-jou beam brightly.
The janitor is a young man who has looked after Maria-jou and I during the Neo Candle training camp.
“We just need to borrow a toolbox right?” Maria-jou confirmed with me before she called out to the janitor. “Hello! I’m sorry for bothering you so late. I just have a small favour to ask of you……”
I have seen Maria-jou speak with the janitor near the flowerbeds a number of times. From my observations, I have a feeling that he has a crush on Maria-jou.
“Y-Yes, how can I help you?” The janitor was quite confused seeing the three of us behind Maria-jou.
Kazu-nii made a teacher-like expression and bowed his head lightly in greeting.
“We’re hoping you could lend us a toolbox. Do you have one here?” Maria-jou asked.
The janitor looked at Maria-jou and Kazu-nii alternatively with a puzzled expression. “A toolbox? Yes, there is one here but what are you using it for?”
“It’s a secret, so I’m sorry,” Maria-jou looked up at the janitor with watery eyes as she clasped her hands together.
…….Eh? Huh? She’s not acting, right? Nor is she pretending, right? Do you mean that after long years of making these beautiful girl gestures that they are ingrained as habits now?
While I was surprised, the janitor reacted in a very obvious way. I think Maria-jou’s cuteness shot through his heart, making him shut up after a small groan. Gee, I have to say, Maria-jou’s amazing. She’s the best.
If I was a guy too, I can’t say anything after that either. Like, there’s no way I won’t help such a beautiful girl like this!
The janitor’s face and ears went bright red as he shifted his eyes away. “A-Ah, well, it’s just a toolbox. Please return it after you are done.” He probably thinks that he might collapse if he stayed in this area with Maria-jou any longer. He quickly ran off inside to grab the toolbox for us.
“Thank you very much!” Maria-jou bloomed into a smile filled with happiness.
I waved a white flag to surrender. “Wow, that’s amazing. No one can defeat her. I want to learn from her too,” I voiced out my honest feelings.
“You don’t have to learn anything further,” Kazu-nii said with a bitter voice.
The janitor came back after a while with the toolbox. It was Maria-jou who first realized he was acting strange when she was about to receive it from him. He held the toolbox in his hand and stopped, staring deep into Maria-jou’s face.
“Here it is. Where should I carry it for you? If you don’t mind, please let me help you.” None of his words were odd. However, his eyes were weird. They were unfocused, like they were in a daze.
“U-Umm……. D-Don’t worry. I mean, see, we have people here to help carry it,” Maria-jou answered, bewildered, and motioned towards Kazu-nii and Katsuragi-kun.
However, that was a bad move on her part.
Sadness coloured the janitor’s eyes. “Am I not dependable?” He asked suddenly. The janitor carried the toolbox in one hand and grabbed Maria-jou’s hand with his free one.
“Eh!?” Maria-jou’s cheeks flushed red.
“I don’t know what kind of sufferings you hold, but could you let me help carry the burden on your shoulders?” The janitor said before he pulled Maria-jou’s hand, which he had been holding lovingly, to his chest…
I splashed water on to his face as I observed his state. “We don’t have time for this right now. I’m sorry, but please come back on another day,” I told him, shaking my head.
Also, this scene is scary. I mean, trying to flirt with someone with blank eyes is not romantic at all.
By the way, splashing water like this on someone can be an act of assault. I pray the janitor doesn’t come back to his senses and try to sue me. Also, I know I’m the one who splashed water on you, but please make sure to not catch a cold later.
“H-Huh? What was I doing just now?” The janitor blinked his eyes, coming back to his senses. He came to realize that he was squeezing Maria-jou’s hand. “I-I’m sorry!?”
He quickly let go and took a few steps back before slipping. Katsuragi-kun promptly caught the janitor before he fell onto the ground, saving him.
“We’re borrowing this,” Katsuragi-kun said before he lifted the toolbox like it was nothing. He quickly rummaged inside the toolbox.
Inside the toolbox were a metal hammer, wooden hammer, wretches, nails… Basically, it had the same items as a normal household toolbox would have.
When I took the metal hammer, Kazu-nii stole it away.
“You should carry the water bottles,” he said to me.
Well, yeah, the metal hammer was a bit heavy, but it wasn’t all that different from a water bottle.
In the end, Maria-jou and I became in charge of the water bottles. This was apparently how we were dividing the roles. I didn’t have any other choice, so I tried making some swings with a water bottle in each hand.
Katsuragi-kun made a mixed expression. “Stay behind me.”
What does he mean?
The janitor was flustered as he didn’t understand the situation at all even though he prepared the toolbox for us.
“We will return it later,” Kazu-nii said to him. The janitor didn’t ask any further.
We left the janitor’s room like this and headed to the church.
“T-That was scary~ The janitor did that suddenly because of the stone or scent, right?” Maria-jou asked. She was blushing as she stole glances at the janitor’s room behind her.
It was hard to explain, so I couldn’t really say. “Probably?”
“I see…..” Maria-jou looked a little disappointed. She quickly gasped and adjusted her grip on her water bottles. “No, no, first I need to face Father Michel. Yup. I can find a wonderful person after this is over. Don’t worry, me. I still have a long high school life!”
Ah, she hasn’t learned from her lessons at all — I thought for a second. However, I think it’s best if Maria-jou is this positive.
“More importantly…” I began, looking at everyone. “First, we need to reach the church. It’s late right now but…… It’ll be best if no one spots us while we try to get there.”
Naturally, things weren’t that convenient.
I don’t know if Father Michel is a truly horrible person or not.
Yet, it’s without a doubt that he is an enemy to us right now.
There’s lots of things we also don’t know like how he takes out stones or the true nature of the sweet scent. However, I didn’t think about solving all these said mysteries.
My priority of things was, first, not letting Father Michel use the stones. All the stones should return to their owners. Adding to this, I want to make sure Father Michel doesn’t steal my stone.
I gripped my chest and confirmed my stone was there. The orange-coloured stone started to pound, conveying me the nervousness I feel right now.
“Niimi-san?” Maria-jou called out to me as I had stiffened visibly. “Don’t worry. I’m sure it’ll work out well.”
Maria-jou had no proof to back up her words at all. Still, I felt her kindness when she smiled at me even when she was pale.
“I’m still the heroine of this world, aren’t I?” Maria-jou declared.
Yes, she’s absolutely right.
“Let’s do our best so that you don’t become a tragic heroine,” I replied.
Maria-jou stuck out her lips and pouted a bit. It seems she’s miffed.
Don’t worry. If I have to say, you’re a heroine of a light and humorous drama with a happy ending. I want to say no thank you to bad endings!
I still remember the road to the church as I’ve taken it a number of times already. To head there straight from the janitor’s room, we need to follow the trail of the trees.
However, there were enemies standing in our path.
What we saw in the distance were people, people, and more people. They were gathered here, hiding in the shadows of the trees.
Students filled the area to the point that my face cramped, Kazu-nii prepared himself, and Katsuragi-kun showed hesitation for a second.
I spotted Mizusaki-senpai’s bodyguards in the crowd of people. There were some wandering around the area while there were some who stood still, without moving a single inch.
The common feature they all had were their eyes. All of them had unfocused eyes like they were in a daze. I could tell even in this darkness.
I feel like I wandered into a strange world. I want to pretend I didn’t see anything.
Maria-jou was about to let out a scream, so I quickly covered her mouth with both of my hands. The crowd of people haven’t noticed us yet. But they definitely would if they hear a scream.
“Kazu-ni— Hibiya-sensei, Katsuragi-kun, do you think we can go around them?” I asked them quietly so that those people won’t notice. I also took a couple of steps back with my hands still on Maria-jou’s mouth. When I did let go, Maria-jou let a deep breath out. Sorry, I might have used too much strength.
“It’s not impossible but… Won’t it be faster if we cut through the crowd?”
“Y-You can’t. Also Kyouya-kun won’t be able to hurt a girl,” Maria-jou mumbled out, backing my suggestion.
Incidentally, this was the first time I heard of Katsuragi-kun not being able to attack a girl. Katsuragi-kun also looked perplexed with how Maria-jou suddenly brought that up.
I’m pretty sure it was something Maria-jou learned from the game. Katsuragi-kun can’t hurt a girl, huh……. Hey, wait, wait, wait, that’s a pretty normal thing. In fact I think there’s a problem if someone can wield violence on women and children.
“Let’s take a detour. Since there’s so many people guarding this area, I think it’ll be much emptier elsewhere,” I said. I didn’t wait for the others’ answer and started moving.
“…….Or maybe we should split into two groups,” Kazu-nii mumbled.
“As long as we complete our goal of breaking the candle stand, the brainwashing might get undo too.”
“You mean we should have a decoy?”
“…….Well, yeah, basically. As long as we have these, that Father won’t let us go either,” Kazu-nii said before he pulled the chain under his clothes and took out his stone.
Maria-jou looked surprised. “It’s beautiful…” I heard her mumble softly. Hey, this isn’t the time for that, okay?
“I’ll be the decoy. ……Katsuragi, can you look after these two?” Kazu-nii said.
“No,” Katsuragi refused and shook his head. “If that’s what we’re doing then I’ll be the decoy. Sensei, you won’t be able to fight back when you’re surrounded.” He gripped his hand into a fist and turned to look at me. “Niimi.”
“Give me a bottle of water. I should splash it on myself when I think I’m acting strange, right?”
“U-Umm… probably. But would you be able to tell?” I questioned.
“Controlling oneself is part of my training,” Katsuragi-kun answered. He shoved the water bottle I gave him into his school uniform’s belt. I feel like he’ll accidentally drop it soon or later, but there’s no other way that will let him have both of his hands free.
“Also,” Katsuragi-kun brought his lips close to my ear and whispered quietly, “…When this is all over, can I call you by your name?”
My eyes widened in surprise. Maria-jou stared at us with a completely red face. Kazu-nii looked like he bit into something bitter.
W-Wait a minute…….. W-What does he mean…
“……We’re friends, aren’t we?” Katsuragi-kun added with a bitter smile.
…Ah, yeah. We are. Yup. Ah, I feel relieved yet somewhat disappointed. He didn’t mean anything deep with his request.
“Ah, yeah. No problem. Des— I mean, Kamura-kun also calls me by my first name. You can call me with my first name too,” I told him while laughing, trying to gloss everything over.
Katsuragi-kun’s smile grew more and more bitter. “Okay, see you later,” he said before walking towards the road to the crowd of dazed people alone.
“Let’s go, you two,” I called out to Kazu-nii and Maria-jou.
The three of us went off to take another path.
There were basically four routes one can take to the church.
The first is heading straight from the back gate. This same route is the one that Katsuragi-kun is taking right now. The second route is one where you have to go around the school building to the other side. The third route is through the emergency staircase in the school building. The final route is to go outside the academy grounds and take the path that leads to the exit of the church.
We chose the third path.
This said path is the one that I learnt by accident on the day of the welcoming ceremony. Maybe I was guided by fate so that it’ll help me today…… Just kidding.
We carefully kept our eyes and ears out for any students. After all, there were still people wandering, surrounding the church outside. If they keep walking around for hours in this cold weather, I feel everyone will catch a cold tomorrow.
I guided Kazu-nii and Maria-jou inside the school building.
The school building didn’t have a sign of life since it was after school and near the final warning bell. Or perhaps everyone has been affected by the smell and are near the church instead.
I climbed up the stairs, making sure I can’t be spotted from the windows, and tried to make my way to the emergency staircase.
“It’s amazing you know about this emergency staircase,” Kazu-nii mumbled out like he was impressed. Maria-jou also looked surprised.
“Once you climb down the emergency staircase, the church will be at the tip of our fingers.”
The three of us cautiously went down the emergency staircase…… and spotted someone like they were waiting to ambush us.
Their colour of their eyes were strange. However they were a little bit different from the other students who were walking around like puppet dolls.
Those eyes stare over at us unblinkingly with a deep colour of sorrow.
Kazu-nii and I should also be reflecting in his eyes, yet he only saw Maria-jou.
“Aikawa. ……You still haven’t gone home,” Tsuchiya-shounen said, approaching us with irritation in his steps.
“Tsukkun, you too……!?” Maria-jou shouted with shock as she saw his blank eyes.
“The whole academy became strange the moment it was after school. ……You weren’t around, so I was relieved. Didn’t you already head home?” He asked.
“W-What are you talking about? I didn’t come to school today.”
Tsuchiya-shounen raised his head up in a daze. “……Yeah, you’re right. That’s right. Then there’s no way you’ll be here.” He shook his head before he stared at Maria-jou once more. “Aikawa. You……. Why have you been so distant from me since the welcoming ceremony?”
“You call me with my nickname like you did before but that’s it. Even when we chat, I can feel a huge gap between us. You keep smiling brightly but your eyes are cold. You act close to me but you’re also faraway. ……It pisses me off a lot.”
One step. Two steps. His every step was rough and wild, reflecting his feelings right now.
“But you’ll suddenly bring up our past despite all that. ……I don’t get you at all.”
To be honest, I thought Tsuchiya-shounen would vent out his anger like this. I thought he’ll start shouting or even punch. I was going to get between them if he showed signs.
Yet Tsuchiya-shounen crouched down just like that.
Maybe, he doesn’t realize that Maria-jou was in front of his eyes. The way he spoke was as if he was thinking out loud.
“……We lost contact after you moved. Your family’s rich, so I know that they weren’t happy that you were friends with a poor person like me. But lots of things happened to you after your mom remarried……. I thought you had a grudge on me cause I couldn’t help you one bit during the time when you were suffering the most.”
Tsuchiya-shounen didn’t raise his head. He wasn’t speaking to Maria-jou. If I have to say, he was apologizing to the Maria-jou in his dream.
Maria-jou bit her lips. I didn’t know if she was angry or if she was sad. However, she was pressing down some emotion welling up inside of her by staring fixedly down at Tsuchiya-shounen.
“……Let’s go, Niimi-san.”
“Are you okay with not splashing water on him?”
He was showing signs of being brainwashed with those dazed, blank eyes of his.
“Niimi-san, I didn’t hear anything just now,” Maria-jou declared, looking straight into my eyes. “I didn’t meet Tsukkun right here. ……That’s why I’m not doing anything.”
It’s true that Maria-jou won’t be moved just because she heard someone’s one-sided confession. Even if Tsuchiya-shounen’s guilt gets lighter, Maria-jou’s would get heavier next.
Ah, geez. Really. These two have messed up their way of reconciling somewhere.
These two need to make up not by water but by properly talking to each other face-to-face and truthfully. First, let’s get Tsuchiya-shounen’s stone back to him. After all, that stone is probably those two’s promise to meet each other once again in the future.
We passed by Tsuchiya-shounen and headed towards the church.
“Aikawa-san, can I ask you something?” I called out.
“It’s about the otome game. What was supposed to happen for the movie during the Cultural Festival? It was actually supposed to happen differently without Kyouko-chan appearing, right?”
We played a movie we filmed in our class during the Cultural Festival. The heroine was, of course, Maria-jou. The hero was Tsuchiya-shounen. However, Tsuchiya-shounen was moody and couldn’t act even to the very last minute of the filming process. As a result, the scenario changed and Kyouko-jou appeared as a knight in the show.
Maria-jou laughed at my question. “If it happened like the game, then Tsukkun was supposed to say this: ‘Princess. I won’t return you to your world anymore. Please stay like this by my side.’ ……Leave your family that only has wealth and your grandmother as your close relative and let’s chase my dream of winning a gold medal at the Olympics together…”
She laughed once more. “It’s strange. It’s a game, so I never once doubted that Tsukkun won’t win. But when you think about it in reality, it’s a pipe dream, right?”
I smiled tiredly. “I think having a friend who’ll believe you without a single doubt even though everyone else would laugh and call it a pipe dream is important.”
Even if their relationship isn’t of lovers or childhood friends… I think Tsuchiya-shounen and Maria-jou certainly have a bond between them.
“……I see. You’re right,” Maria-jou mumbled. “Maybe that’s fine too.”
And so I slipped through the slightly opened door and entered inside the church.
□ ■ □
Inside the church was strange too.
I have visited this church a number of times, so I remember what the interior looked like.
There should be an altar straight ahead from the door with stained glass windows behind it. There will be a candle stand on top of the altar, which would have a number of hollow dents on the pedestal.
——At least that’s what it should look like.
The moment I stepped inside, I was wrapped by a thick sweet scent that almost choked me. It was also dense enough I couldn’t see what’s in front of me anymore.
If I have to put it into words, it’s like there was smoke all around me. There were whitish fumes all around inside the church.
I gripped my chest, checking to feel that my stone was still there. The cold orange stone throbbed, conveying my nervousness to me.
Eventually, the fumes thinned out and I could faintly tell there was someone in the church.
Father Michel was standing right in front of the altar.
There were a number of people sitting on the long benches left and right of the path to the altar. Every single one of them were either wearing a formal suit or a dress.
……? Wait, something is weird. Why is everyone dressing so formally instead of wearing our school uniforms?
No, I’m strange too. I thought my vision was blurry but it seems like I was wearing some white cloth thing over my head. This coarse white cloth wasn’t enough to completely blind my vision. Could this be… a veil?
A man was standing across from Father Michel before I realized it.
He was wearing a formal white suit. I feel like he’s tall, but I can’t really make out his face. He was walking slowly towards me.
I could tell that all the attendees turned their eyes our way.
The man in the white suit took my hand and made me wrap my arm around his. I also noticed that I was wearing white gloves for some reason.
My empty hand was desperately clutching my chest. I could feel the sensation of my stone, which was quite dependable.
It was hard to walk, and the man also slowed down.
I realized now why it was hard to walk. I was wearing a rather long white dress. It had a lot of flower-patterned lace to the point I could tell this dress was expensive by one look. I was also wearing tall high heels, making it hard to walk.
The man matched my pace, walking slowly with me to Father Michel, who was too beautiful to be human.
Hey… Hey, hey… isn’t this a wedding ceremony!?
Then this man here is my h-hubsand…?
Does that mean I view someone as a possible husband in my subconscious mind? I nervously looked up to see the man’s face, but I couldn’t make out his features at all. ……I feel a little disappointed.
All the attendees were saying something. It sounded like cheering, but I couldn’t tell what exactly they were saying.
Father Michel was saying things like welcome to the ceremony and blessings and what not, but I didn’t care at all.
Beyond the see-through veil, I could spot the candle stand on top of the altar. There were only two hollow dents left. The rest seem like they have a stone inside them already.
The candle stand wasn’t lit with fire. As such, I couldn’t help but feel it looked dumb since it was lacking as a proper decoration.
It was too dissatisfying to be used in a wedding ceremony.
“Please declare your vows before God,” Father Michel opened his mouth to say. He smiled gently and kindly at me, urging me to declare my wedding vow.
Ah, but it’s too bad, Father Michel.
If I was in love with someone, and that someone was the man next to me, I might have declared my vows before God.
However, I was still gripping my stone with my hand and it’s cold sensation was telling me something.
I am not wearing gloves at all. I am not wearing a wedding dress at all. I am not wearing a white veil either.
Calmly, cooly, and with composure.
Niimi Shiori won’t be fooled. Our battle still hasn’t ended.
“I’m sorry, Father Michel,” I said and laughed.
TL note: *plays wedding music*