It was just before the sun approached the zenith of its climb. Hajime was walking expressionlessly at a residential area at a certain riverside.
It wasn’t like he was having a bad mood, but when he thought about the destination where he would be visiting after this, it made him feeling somewhat melancholic, on top of that it also made him racking his brain with this and that about how to deal with it, so his expression was naturally stiffened.
Although, no matter how much Hajime was worrying about it, with how he had no intention of yielding the status quo and his will, resolving this was extremely difficult, and finding a solution that could work in one go was next to impossible. Compared to this difficult problem, conquering a great labyrinth was something really simple.
「Well, that’s obvious, it can’t be helped huh.」
He let out a small sigh while staring at his destination that came into view at the path ahead.
It was a spacious ground that was surrounded by splendid hedge, with a large Japanese house was inside it, or rather than a house it was an estate. History could be felt from its appearance.
With a glance at that hedge and estate, finally Hajime arrived in front of the entrance. The front gate was also a heavy and splendid structure. The wood and iron were clearly conveying the months and years they had been piling up until now. If ordinary person visited this place for the first time, they would unconsciously straighten up themselves.
The family name written beside the front gate was――”Yaegashi”.
Yes, this place was Shizuku’s house where the dojo of Yaegashi-style was also established jointly.
For some reason Hajime looked at the name plate where the name “Yaegashi” was carved while pushing at the button of the interphone installed beside the gate, the only piece that approached the modern age here.
『Yes, who could this be?』
A female voice immediately responded. It sounded young, with pleasant tone that sounded calm, a voice that gave the feeling of maturity. The owner of that voice――if his memory from when he met her the last time was correct, then it was the voice of Shizuku’s mother, Kirino, she was the one who responded to Hajime.
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「I received the invitation. This is Nagumo Hajime.」
『You are right in time, Hajime-san. Welcome. The gate is not locked, so please come inside as you are.』
「Excuse me for disturbing.」
Hajime put his hand on the gate. And then he pushed it open while, once more he sighed at “that” which he felt when he was walking the path that was facing the hedge.
Immediately after that, *hyu-* a sound of cutting wind!
「As expected huh……」
He carelessly lifted his hand in front of his forehead. Between the gap of his fingers, there were several spheres held in between. Those things flew the instant Hajime opened the gate which he caught between his fingers. When he put a little strength into his fingers, those balls split with cracking sound and from inside them colorful powder came out.
When he brought his nose near, the aroma of multiple spices like pepper or cayenne pierced his nasal cavity severely. If the spheres hit the forehead and their content scattered out, normal person would shed tears grandly while writhing in an unstoppable sneezing.
「I want to make retort just what kind of period is this but……really this house. Besides, if I am told this is reaping what I sow then that’s it……can’t be helped.」
Hajime strode across the threshold of Yaegashi residence while smiling wryly.
First the scenery of a considerably wide garden until the entrance of the main building entered his eyes. It wasn’t something like a Japanese-style garden where one could enjoy the sight, but a garden with normal weed and gravel spreading even though they looked maintained. The path from the front gate until the main building’s entranceway was shown by stone paving, there was a small pond a little bit distanced in between. Next there were also garden lantern hung irregularly and relatively big trees growing.
There was another independent one-story house at slight distance away, that place became the dojo of Yaegashi-style. But, in this holiday normally there should be the zealous voices of a lot of disciples practicing coming from there, instead eerily there was no sound from there.
Hajime who spontaneously wanted to sigh after guessing the reason of that silence advanced on the stone paving, approaching a spot where a tree nearby with dense leaves had one of its branches extending until above the stone paving, it was at that time,
A killing intent was suddenly-!!
When Hajime looked up, there was a figure of an old man jumping down from the branch above his head, the hakama of the old man was fluttering while his hands were holding a wooden sword aloft! The sword ki the old man was clad with wasn’t something normal, determination of sure defeat with one hit was residing in his eyes! That figure which swooped down from the sky, swinging down a mighty attack, it was just like the technique of a certain wandering swordsman!
But, toward that sudden attack,
「It has been a long time, Shuuzou-san.」
Hajime who stopped still with one hand the attack which looked like it could pulverize at least a boulder, lowered his head normally and gave a greeting. The opponent in front of his eyes that looked like he was around 80 with deeply wrinkled face and white hair, was an instructor of Yaegashi-style and the grandfather of Shizuku, so Hajime must show manners to him.
「Yes, long time no see, Hajime-kun. Nice of you to come. You can relax here.」
「Thank you very much.」
Shuuzou was speaking words of welcome normally as though nothing special happened while looking completely expressionless with his hands pushing down the wooden sword until the very limit. In response to that, Hajime too also returned the greeting familiarly.
Hajime and Shuuzou stared at each other wordlessly for a while, but as expected Shuuzou then quietly pulled back his wooden sword as though nothing happened and he turned on his heel.
「I think Shizuku is in her room. But, it’s a little unacceptable for you two who are still student to seclude yourself inside the same room. There are also delicious tea cakes, so come to the living room.」
「Aa~, yes, thank you-」
Shuuzou turned his back on Hajime and returned toward the dojo while talking. But, in the middle of that conversation in an awkward timing, a new killing intent attacked Hajime!
Hajime quickly crouched and over his head a sharp violent gale blew past. Furthermore, a cuff of hakama was reflected at the edge of the sight of the crouching Hajime. A low kick aiming for Hajime’s head was rapidly approaching.
While evading that by leaping aside, Hajime used one of his hand in a handstand posture to roll before landing back. Ahead of his gaze there was the figure of the attacker still in a continued alertness.
「Yaa, Hajime-kun. Nice of you to come. You can relax here.」
「……Thank you, Koichi-san. Excuse me for my intrusion.」
Yaegashi Koichi. He was the father of Shizuku, and an instructor of Yaegashi-style. He was a middle-aged handsome man with rather harsh look, a gash in his cheek that he got from somewhere was his trademark. While saying a speech that was the same with his father Shuuzou, and also with the same expressionless look as expected, he put his wooden sword on his waist as though nothing happened.
At that moment, a wooden sword was thrown with great speed from the side! Hajime who quickly turned his head and evaded it clearly heard a clicking tongue echoing from behind the nearby lantern basket.
Even furthermore, from behind the evading Hajime was *zapaa-* sound resounding, the moment he heard that one of the pupils who seemed to be lurking inside the pond threw countless iron rods the size of a palm from a pose that looked like a wild falcon!
Hajime evaded that with flowing feet movement like fish swimming in air, but right after that he noticed something and backflipped highly from that place. When he did that, at the next moment a young pupil smeared with soil leaped out from under the ground in the garden holding a wooden sword. The pupil was whispering「Chiih, so I failed bringing him down-」with small volume.
Hajime who landed while smiling faintly to those words quickly lifted his hand and grasped something that flew toward him. An arrow was caught inside that hand. When he followed the trajectory, above the roof of the main building was a figure of someone that seemed to be a pupil holding a bow.
「I’m thinking this every time but……Yaegashi-style is absolutely not a kenjutsu dojo right? Rather I think this place is a ninjutsu dojo instead.」(Note: Kenjutsu=sword art, ninjutsu=ninja art)
「What are you saying, Hajime-kun. Something like shinobi cannot possibly exist. Are you reading too much manga? It’s troubling that someone trying to become Shizuku’s partner is doing something like that.」
Hajime whispered his conjecture while staring fixedly at the pupils who were returning to the dojo quickly while likewise also acting like nothing happened. Hearing that Shuuzou said something like that with a tone that sounded really stumped.
The soaked wet pupil who was lurking in the pond quickly took off his dougi uniform and underneath it there was black clothes but……his face looked as though saying「So what?」. Surely even though the iron bars thrown at him looked similar with the shuriken that he previously saw at museum, or even though the pupil who climbed down from the main building’s rooftop was using special descending tool where the tip of the rope had something shaped like rake to be fixed on the roof edge, or that one of them wasn’t making any footstep while running, surely, everything was just Hajime’s misunderstanding.
Even if right now, in front of Hajime’s eyes a pupil was quickly running with forward-bent posture――the so called ninja run right past him, surely that was just his misunderstanding!
But, at that moment, a slightly lively voice called toward Hajime who was seeing off the back figures of the people of Yaegashi dojo with complicated expression. When he turned toward the voice, he could see the figure of Shizuku dressed in gorgeous kimono waving her hand at him from the porch of the main building.
Hajime lifted his hand with a greeting of「Yo」while approaching her. Shizuku’s expression burst brighter the closer he got. Looking from close, it seemed that she was wearing cosmetic even if just for a bit. It appeared that she was dressing up a little with Hajime coming here from being invited.
Shizuku who was lovable as usual in the small things quickly cleared up his gloomy feeling that had been piling up due to this and that since he stepped past the gate of Yaegashi house, which he couldn’t retort at even when he wanted to.
「As expected, Shizuku is suited with Japanese clothes. Though it doesn’t look like a pure yukata……」
「Ye, yes. I received this as sample from a prototype that Tio designed. It seems that this is a combination of dragonoid race’s clothing with Japanese clothes.」
「I see, she is a pervert but she has good sense. It’s like it was order-made for Shizuku. Besides, the sakura color also suit you.」
Shizuku looked shy while she quietly touched her lips. She couldn’t hide her happiness from Hajime noticing and praising her. The person who was there wasn’t the usual gallant knightly Shizuku, but a normal girl in love that could be found anywhere.
Instantly, Hajime put his hand into his breast pocket and summoned a mini Donner that was attached with silencer. Without even showing drawing out motion, he rapid-fired to the right side with the gun barrel hidden under his arm! Right away, countless sparks and metallic sound scattered midair!
Shizuku came to her senses with ‘hah’, when she turned her gaze there she found bulge on the ground so small that no one would notice it was there without paying attention to it, from there several small things that looked like bamboo pipe peeked out from there……
It seemed, there were still several pupils hiding underground. Most likely there was a tunnel that could be entered by a person under the surface, by slightly lifting up the lid that was camouflaged as ground, they sniped at Hajime using blowpipe from that gap.
「He, hey-, you all! You all are doing something like that again! Come out here!」
Shizuku raised an angry yell with bright red face. But, they didn’t respond to Shizuku’s words, the ground was making slightly lumpy moving and they vanished somewhere away.
Shizuku was trembling all over. Hajime was sending her a slightly sympathizing gaze while trying to ask her about the matter that bothered him as expected.
「Hey, Shizuku. Your family, just as I thought they are the descendants of ninja or something right? It’s true isn’t it?」
「……There is no way that’s true, I think. Before we were summoned, there is nothing like this. It’s like this since Hajime came to my house. Even I didn’t know that kind of technique existed in Yaegashi-style. In reality I was only taught katana, martial art and throwing art.」
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「I don’t think that’s at the level of “only” though…… Or, how should I put it, you didn’t ask them? Like, 『Did I, receive kunoichi training while I’m not realizing it myself?』」
「I questioned them already. I asked, what is Yaegashi-style? Like that.」
「And the answer?」
「It’s commonplace kenjutsu and a little bit acrobatics. That was what they told me.」
「So they concealed it from even their daughter ……」
Shizuku was whispering「This family of mine……」with faraway look, to which Hajime was sending him increasingly sympathetic gaze, while to Yaegashi family’s mystery――not only they weren’t hiding it at all even though they were obviously ninja like, even their deception was so noncommittal it made him wanted to retort ‘do you all even have the motivation to hide it huh’――he was smiling dryly.
After that, Shizuku who knew about her grandfather and father’s assault apologized to Hajime with teary eyes while heading to Shizuku’s room for the time being, but even during their walk there, spears stabbed from the gap between wall, a pitfall suddenly appeared on the corridor floor, the wall in the middle abruptly turned where an expressionless Koichi came at Hajime with kodachi swinging, and when they thought they heard someone spoke「Muh, my hand slipped」, from the corner of the corridor a chain scythe flew making a pillar as its fulcrum which altered its trajectory using the centrifugal force toward Hajime……
「Shizuku……just accept it. Your house is a ninja residence. Your family is ninja.」
「I who don’t know until this year that my own house has that kind of contraptions is……I mean, Ojii-chan! Chain scythe is no good! Look it got stuck into the wall! That’s obviously the real thing isn’t it!? Just where are you keeping that kind of weapon!」
Shizuku angrily went to the corner of the corridor while waving her yukata’s cuff, but there was already no one there. Shizuku crumbled down on all fours. This was the first time she saw the reverse face of her family since she returned from another world. It appeared Shizuku was burdened with the fate to go through hardships even inside her family.
「Hey, Shizuku. As expected should we go to the living room instead of your room? Shuuzou-san also told me that. Like this, I don’t know what kind of contraption will activate the moment I entered your room. It won’t be a problem for me but, your treasured collection(plush doll) might be in danger you know.」
「……Uu. There is nothing like these odd contraptions in my room, supposedly. There is undoubtedly something in the living room……or rather, I’m already terribly angry by the point of time Hajime is attacked! I’ll have Hajime together with me in my room until the meal timeee! If anyone be a nuisance, I aa~bsolutely won’t forgive them anyone hear!」
Surely Shizuku was raising her voice loudly toward her family who must be lurking behind the ceiling and at the other side of the wall.
Like that they finally arrived at Shizuku’s room. Inside there were many plush dolls placed that made the room cramped. There was lovely animal and cat calendar, pink curtain, a cushion attached with fluffy rabbit ear. The whole room was enveloped in soft atmosphere with faintly sweet fragrance wafting off. It was a really sly girly room.
Shizuku put sitting cushion of droopy raccoon in front of a small round table made of glass. When Hajime sat on the cushion it made「pukyu」sound. The figure of the demon king of another world sitting down on mascot cushion that made voice, if it was seen by the classmates and the fellows of another world (especially someone like the empereor) surely it would be a foregone conclusion for them to burst in laughter.
「Wait there. I’ll prepare tea and snack right now.」
「No, you don’t really need to do that. Rather, I don’t want to be left alone in this house……」
「Uu. I, it will be fine. Because my room is a safe zone.」
Even while faltering in her words, Shizuku guaranteed that ‘my room is safe!’, immediately after that,
「Hajime-san, welcome. This is sweet bean jelly from a long standing shop. Please have some.」
Saying that, Shizuku’s mother――Kirino appeared carrying tea and snack.
――From the ceiling *sucha-!* she jumped down
「Okaa-san!? Where did you come down from just now!? Wait, the ceiling board is out of place!? No way……even though I should have properly investigate my room when I knew that the house is a contraption residence……」
As expected Kirino was smiling friendlily as though nothing happened with a sidelong glance at Shizuku who was dumbfounded while looking up at the ceiling. That figure which was gentle and calm exactly like a Yamato Nadeshiko, yet with an atmosphere where a straight core could be felt from her, it caused Hajime to comprehend it ‘I see’, that she was indeed the mother of Shizuku. She was a woman that made him thought, or even made him anticipated that when Shizuku aged beautifully, surely she would become a woman like this.
However, by the point of time she jumped down from the ceiling while properly wearing kimono, with a tray in one hand that was placed with tea and snack, with not only her clothes unruffled, but not even a drop of tea was spilled, she wasn’t someone normal at all.
「He, hey, Okaa-san. Let me ask in this chance, putting aside the matter regarding my room’s ceiling for later, it’s just as I thought that Okaa-san is a kunoichi? Hey, is that true?」
Since she returned home until today in this moment, different from her father and grandfather, her mother didn’t show that kind of sign at all. Shizuku was asking toward such mother with a really complicated feeling that was half「Say that this is not true, mama」, and half「Okaa-san, so you too」.
Toward such Shizuku, Kirino was,
「My, Shizuku. You are too much in high spirits just because Hajime-san is here…… Forgive her okay, Hajime-san. Geez, this child, surely she is trying her best to make a joke that is in line with Hajime-san’s hobby but……by nature, she is a serious person, so like this her joke is not really funny isn’t it? A joke like『You are kunoichi?』toward her mother of all thing, see? She is a child like this but, please don’t desert her no matter what.」
「……Please rest assured. I don’t think that it’s not funny or anything even for a little bit. Rather, I’m greatly in sympathy with her. ――Are you okay, Shizuku?」
「I cannot do this anymore, Hajime. I want to become the child of Hajime’s family already……」
Hajime did his best to console Shizuky who was hanging her head down with an expression that was like a tired old man with ‘there there’ gesture. Seeing that harmonious(?) figure of her daughter and Hajime, Kirino said「My, geez Shizuku, acting like that in front of your parent. Yes yes, Okaa-san will leave right away」and left the room.
Of course, *hyupa-!* she jumped up to the ceiling.
Seeing the ceiling board that was returned back to normal soundlessly, Shizuku then looked at Hajime with an expression that could break into tear anytime.
「We, well, what……like this Shizuku is also taught the secret of your family little by little yes. I don’t know if that’s because you returned from another world, or because you were able to make a lover like me but……good for you.」
「In this world, I wonder if there is matter that is better off to not be known…… I feel like the thing they are doing is gradually escalating……」
Shizuku was comforted while being caressed by Hajime.
Hajime thought while looking at Shizuku that was like that. It was normally hard to imagine that she wouldn’t know about her family and the house’s contraptions until she entered high school. But, there was no way that Shizuku was lying, in that case, that meant that Shuuzou and others were seriously hiding it from Shizuku.
Furthermore, before the summoning, in other words even when she became high school student this matter hadn’t been told to her. That could possibly mean that Shizuku wouldn’t be told any of this for her whole life, such possibility couldn’t be discarded.
Then, why did a matter about one’s own family was hidden from their only daughter, or granddaughter.
At the great labyrinth of another world, Shizuku’s true feeling was exposed. After that Hajime became aware of the things that Shizuku was harboring from the story that he heard from Shizuku herself. About how happy her stern grandfather was when Shizuku displayed the talent for kenjutsu. About how much the people around her were putting their expectation on her.
And also about how as the result, just how much Shizuku’s true feeling was suppressed because of those.
Hajime recalled the words that were said to him the first time Hajime first faced Shuuzou and Koichi.
――I see, so Shizuku, is fine already.
――My thanks, for letting Shizuku be a girl.
It seemed that rather than the return from another world, the two of them were feeling gratitude from the bottom of their heart at the fact that Shizuku fell in love from her own true feeling, at that growth of her. Relief also exuded out from them.
Hajime didn’t ask much at that time, but he was able to guess.
By any chance, Shuuzou and others might be regretting that they made Shizuku studying Yaegashi-style. It was impossible to tell a grandfather to not be happy when his granddaughter had a lot of talent for the family style, parent having expectation for their children was also something natural.
That was why they got too passionate against their better judgment, and like that when they noticed, Shizuku already couldn’t even make complaint to her family, creating a Shizuku who killed so many parts of herself.
Seeing such Shizuku, surely Shuuzou and others didn’t teach her anything more than kenjutsu so that she wouldn’t kill part of herself anymore than that. They thoroughly concealed the family secret.
This was just his guess, but Hajime was convinced that it was the truth.
Hajime spoke with gentle tone while caressing Shizuku’s head.
「Perhaps they are troubling family but……you are treasured by them right?」
「……I don’t deny that.」
It appeared that Shizuku also guessed that somehow. Though she couldn’t help but unintentionally looking sour because it was hidden from her, and how extremely troubling the absurdity of that secret was.
「Now then, putting aside for the time being how one of my wives become a kunoichi」
「I don’t become a kunoichi, don’t put that aside.」
Shizuku looked increasingly sour with Hajime’s words, but when she noticed that presence of many people was spreading out little by little at the surrounding, her cheeks cramped.
「Well, there is also Shizuku getting taught about your family I think but……more than half of this is a test for me I guess. This must be something like a revenge for a harem man who dared putting his hand on their important daughter. Even Kirino-san was merciless even though her face was smiling like that.」
「Okaa-san? As far as I know, Okaa-san didn’t do anything to Hajime though……」
「No, she is taking action even now you know. ……This tea and sweet bean jelly, something is entered inside. Poison doesn’t work on me, but from the sensation it’s something like paralyzing drug I guess. Perhaps they intend to attack while I cannot move.」
「OKAAA-SAAA――――――N!!! WHAT ARE YOU GIVING TO YOUR DAUGHTER’S LOVER!!! STOP SCREWING AROUND, I’LL CUT DOWN ALL OF YOU TOGETHEEEERR-」
Inside Yaegashi residence in midday, the angry yell of infuriated Shizuku reverberated. She jumped out the room with black katana in one hand.
Hajime who was left alone in the room properly tasted the last piece of the sweet bean jelly before he whispered.
「Well, compared to the father of Kaori’s place, this brute force approach saved me the trouble.」
From the garden sounds of「Ojii-chan and Otou-chan, and Okaa-saaan-, kneel seiza over there!」, or the sound of something blown away, or「Ojou, she is going mad! Send reinforcement!」, or「Muu, Shizuku, your skill improved!」, or「Don’t think that the current Shizuku can be stopped normally! Form formation! Prepare Four Cardinal Thousand Execution formation-」, or「We are going to separate Ojou from that brat for sure! White Tiger squad, kill that guy now!」, sounds with that kind of impression could be heard coming from here and there.
Hajime was feeling the multiple presences who were approaching him while spitting out words「Whether at earth or another world, there is really not much change huh……」really emptily.
After that, whether Shizuku finally knew all the secrets of her family, and then whether Hajime was recognized by Shizuku’s family or not……
For now, let just say that the pupils of Yaegashi-style (hidden school) got along really well with the rabbit ears of another world.
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