“Are you ready?”
“I’ll turn after counting down from three. Three.”
Bom turned around. She then saw Yu Jitae’s face, before bursting out in laughter. Letting out a groan, “Uuh…!” she blocked her mouth and twisted her body in an attempt to hold her laughter back.
Yu Jitae’s face was slightly different due to the effect of [Temporary Body Modification (A)]. It was something which he habitually did before having his face be seen by someone else.
It was a randomly oriented face, so what was with that intense reaction?
“No no, it’s nothing.”
“Then, how do I look?”
After barely escaping from the loop of laughter, Bom supported her own face with her two hands.
The Regressor gazed deeply at the Green Dragon’s face. She too had changed her appearance with [Polymorph (S)]. She had black hair and black iris, even changing her facial characteristics which had shifted slightly. Her blank gaze was still the same, but she appeared more strong-willed perhaps due to the hair colour.
“Not that good.”
Green hair was better.
More importantly, he had a doubt in mind.
“I thought changing the appearance with polymorph didn’t feel nice.”
“How do you know that?’
“Is it true?”
“Yes. It’s not familiar, and it’s mentally uncomfortable. Hmm… it’s like wearing high heels that are a size bigger than your feet while climbing up a mountain.”
I see. After casually returning a nod, Yu Jitae passed his coat over to her.
“Put this on.”
Her clothes were too eye-catching.
Episode 23: A Melodious Night (2)
Following the Kamogawa River which divided the town in two, there were tall skyscrapers reaching the sky.
“…Is it there?”
[Laws of Nature (S)]
From within the alternate dimension of dragons that was formed in midair, Bom gazed off into a distance. The two of them were staring at the top level of a large hotel that was roughly 2 kilometres away.
Hario Carlton Kyoto.
It was the first 5-star hotel that had been built in Kyoto, ever since its partial destruction during the Great War.
“It would be difficult to enter without proving our identity. Their security system looks rather strict.”
She, who had been excited before, became serious the moment they arrived, and not a sliver of her playfulness remained.
“Who’s the person we’re going to be seeing?”
There were 3 demons that had been selected to fight against ‘X’ – two disaster-level demons and one catastrophe.
If there was one that had to be gotten rid of before others, it was the one that was staying inside that hotel.
He was a Disaster-level demon, and at the same time;
“There’s one that plays a piano.”
It was an elegantly crazy bastard, which was quite rare for a high-ranked demon.
“A piano? That’s weird. He wouldn’t be a hireable performer or something.”
“A person playing the piano at a social meeting is the demon… Ah, what about our identities? We won’t be allowed in without right?”
She was right.
After the New Era, they reached a time period where monsters appeared from time to time, and 5-star hotels had surprisingly advanced facilities for protection. It was a system that allowed its customers to warp for a temporary refuge, if the hotel was targeted by a considerable impact.
Of course, he could delete Kyoto from the map if he desired, but the world’s flow of events would go out of hand if he did that.
Therefore, he had to go in stealthily, and deal with him quietly.
“No problems there.”
“Have you prepared for something already?”
“There is. Although it wasn’t me that prepared them.”
A certain veteran police officer of Kyoto’s Superhuman Local Bureau had decent abilities, but he wasn’t that good at reading the situation. He had been gathering information about one demon for the past 2 years, and had even succeeded in creating an identity that could allow him to enter the ‘social meeting’.
All that was done, without even really knowing the kind of monster he was trying to catch.
“There he is.”
Bom followed Yu Jitae’s gaze and turned her head.
In a back alleyway, there was a small, white car with its internal lights on. Inside, there was a Japanese man staring at the hotel with nervousness, but he appeared resolved, as if he had made a resolution.
“If we leave him alone, he would enter the hotel…”
“And would probably die.”
“…probably yes. It’s too dangerous. But how do we borrow the identity from him?”
[Knifehand Strike (D)]
The moment the man was about to leave the car, Yu Jitae walked up and struck him on the back of his neck, before pushing him back into the car. Then, he went through the man’s pockets and took out an invitation card.
Wearing a look of surprise and interest, Bom looked back and forth between the fainted man and Yu Jitae.
After that, the two of them went into the 5-star hotel. The reception area was extremely wide and tall, with lots of people here and there. Despite it costing a hundred thousand yen a night, there were still a considerable number of people.
He revealed his purpose at the reception desk and took out the invitation card.
“May I ask who the one behind you is?”
“She’s my secretary.”
The staff member made a call with someone, before soon giving the OK sign. That was when a young Japanese woman approached the two.
She was the hotelier.
After giving a bow to Yu Jitae, she turned to Bom and widened her eyes in shock. The hotelier assisted and talked to countless customers a day, and several of them had outstanding identities, but none of them had given her the noble feeling this lady was emanating.
However, she was still a professional. She bit on her tongue and came to herself, before leading the two of them to the top floor of the hotel.
There was a social meeting of a VVIP customer, and naturally the hotelier assumed that the pair of male and female following from behind were top-class nobles.
The male was most definitely a soldier… maybe love and affection bloomed between a royal lady and a hunting dog? How romantic…!
…While having such thoughts at the back of her head, she opened the door of the auditorium.
In contrast with the dark corridor, the room was exceptionally bright and ornamented. There were sculptures and famous paintings being presented all around, as the light travelled down the chandelier and brightened up the room. A smell of an unknown flower gently touched their noses.
Tables were lined up in rows, with dozens of VIPs worldwide sharing a meal or a conversation, or dancing in line with the music.
This was the social meeting, hosted by the disaster-level demon, Hasegawa.
“Please enjoy your time.”
The door closed behind them.
Seemingly overwhelmed by the foreign scenery, Bom hesitated her steps for a second, while he naturally walked up and sat down on an empty table.
The people turned their gazes at him, probably because it was their first time seeing him.
Their gazes spread to every corner like an infection, and before long, the middle-aged man sitting on the seat of the host also turned towards them.
The middle-aged man, who was also the host of the meeting, came up and greeted them.
“Thank you for coming here.”
Wearing a clean costume, and a gentle expression, he gave off a sweet scent with his entire body. He resembled a gentle old man living in the neighbourhood that tried his hardest to look good for once.
Anyone seeing him for the first time would feel at ease.
But this guy was the disaster-level demon himself.
“My name is Hasegawa.”
And was the Regressor’s target.
The middle-aged man extended his hand. Yu Jitae grabbed it in response, and felt the stiff and rigid hand.
“You’re the second son of the Konnosuke Household, right?”
It was the fake identity that had been earned by the police officer.
The Konnosuke Household was a modern-day ninja household, and their faces weren’t known to others externally. “Nice to meet you,” said Yu Jitae as he gave a slight bow.
“And the beautiful lady next to you is…”
“I apologise for the late greeting.”
Bom replied instead.
“I am the secretary, Haru.”
While placing a hand on her chest, she gave a bow. She appeared extremely natural and elegant. Haru (春), was the Japanese word for ‘Bom’, which she had discovered with the help of a translating application before they entered.
“I have heard many good things about you, sir. I heard that you stole the hearts of everyone listening with your beautiful performances.”
Despite being clueless about the situation, Bom smoothly opened her mouth.
“I am grateful that there are people listening to this humble one’s music.”
“Wouldn’t the scent be the initial catalyst of an attraction? We also wish to become a pair of butterflies following the scent tonight.”
Hasegawa’s eyes became thinner.
He appeared greatly satisfied by Bom’s natural compliments. But simultaneously, his deep gaze infiltrated through Yu Jitae and Bom’s eyes, at a vigor which would startle normal people.
However, the auras which had been carefully hidden by a regressor and a dragon, weren’t things that could be easily seen through, even by a disaster-level demon.
“May the lacking melody leave a mark on your esteemed souls.”
Like a pianist that wrote the most-renowned song of the century, Hasegawa flashed a noble smile while laying a hand on his chest.
After Hasegawa walked away,
“What will you do now…?”
Bom whispered with her usual voice.
What do you mean, what.
“You’ll be killing him… right?”
“I wish I could.”
“That guy doesn’t die easily.”
Hasegawa was an immortal.
There actually were a decent number of them among high-ranked demons.
In three previous iterations, the Regressor had killed Hasegawa by pure strength. He had decapitated him twice, and had made him explode once. When he died by explosion, Hasegawa did not leave a single trace of his body behind.
Despite that, he showed himself at a different place in a normal form – that happened in all three iterations.
There definitely was a defence mechanism that stopped him from death.
“But he takes some time before he can come back to life.”
In fact, being an [immortal] was just an expression, and there was no way that he was truly an immortal. There were no true immortals in this world, and there would definitely be a way to kill him if he looked into it in detail.
However, he did not allocate much time to dealing with small fries in the previous iterations and even today, if Bom hadn’t come with him, he would’ve blown the entire hotel floor away while blowing Hasegawa’s head in the process.
“You said I would need you, right.”
“How is it. Do you think there will be a method?”
Bom glanced around the surroundings. Letting out a mutter, she whispered to herself.
“…I think I might understand but…”
She then asked a question.
“How long is the social meeting for?”
“Is it for two full days?”
“No. Only the nights.”
Two days – that was the time given to Bom. If she couldn’t come up with a different method within that time period, Yu Jitae would use the same method he had used in the previous rounds to kill Hasegawa.
“In that case, can I roam around a bit?”
If you want to.
Bom chimed into unfamiliar groups of people and naturally shared conversations. He perked up his ears and realised that they were all meaningless conversations – she talked about things like weather, and how pretty their clothes were. However, the people started speaking back to her, as if they had been possessed.
“Should I show you a magic trick?”
“Ooh, you can do magic, lady?”
“Hohoho. That would be interesting. You’re wearing a dress so there won’t be any pockets right.”
She opened her hands up and showed them the palms, before showing them the back of her hands.
Then, she slowly turned her wrist. With her left hand, she clicked with her fingers while the right hand formed a fist. It appeared as if there was something hiding in her right hand, and the people stared at it in curiosity.
Her hand was slowly opened up. Revealed inside was a speck of dirt, on which there was a small yet beautiful flower in full bloom.
“Oohh! A flower!”
“Iya. That got me. Is it a real flower?”
“It’s so pretty!”
It wasn’t much, but the people enjoyed it.
“Haru. That was really beautiful…! It was like magic.”
After dusting off the dirt, Bom plucked the flower off and brought it to the lady’s ear. She then placed the beautiful flower behind her ear.
“What should I do? You are more beautiful than the flower now, unni.”
“Ara ara…! Really?”
The lady gave a wide smile as she looked back at her partner. Then, she took Bom over to a different table with a smile, as Bom instantly caught the attention of the people and led the conversation forward.
She was quiet all the time so he didn’t think she was this good at socialising.
There were some people who had chatted with Bom, who then approached Yu Jitae with curiosity.
“Nice to meet you, Konnosuke-san. If it pleases you, would you like a dance with me tonight?”
A lady with an ornamented dress reached forth with her hands. However, Yu Jitae remained still with his hands in his pockets and did not respond.
“Ah… it seems that you’re not in a good mood. I apologise for my intrusion.”
There were some who were displeased due to him being silent, but Yu Jitae continued ignoring them.
“How could there possibly be such a rude person…”
“Aye, let’s just ignore him ourselves.”
Left alone, the Regressor leaned on the back of the chair.
He slowly raised the wine glass up. The performance of the musicians was unpleasant to his ears so he closed them, and the bright light was annoying so he shut his eyes. But after all that the scent of the magnolia reached his nose.
There were countless things affecting his mood. As he did not know how to enjoy romanticism like this, the room wasn’t really to his liking.
Why is that guy carrying out this kind of joke in the first place?
For the first time, the Regressor had such a doubt.
He thought back on the final moments of his first iteration. While the Gold Dragon was dying in loneliness, Yu Jitae was missing an ear.
Back then, the Second Great War was wreaking havoc, and his ear had been cut off by a certain disaster-level demon.
The fact that he made it out alive was purely based on luck.
The demon that had cut his ear back then, was none other than that old bastard Hasegawa.
Thinking back, it was laughable. Even during the first Great War, Hasegawa had killed thousands of humans, and had displayed their ears in his own house – he was the devil amongst demons. A bastard like that was imitating a normal lifestyle and was gathering, and making people listen to his piano performance…
– May the lacking melody leave a mark on your esteemed souls.
It was truly a demotivating comment. He was definitely misunderstanding something – he was thinking of himself as an artist.
While the Regressor was in the middle of his own thoughts, the musicians stopped their performance. At the same time, the MC of the event opened his mouth at the podium.
“Now will be the start of Mister Hasegawa’s performance.”
Meanwhile, Bom came back to Yu Jitae after sensing the change in the atmosphere. She was quiet, and the joy she showed while being in the centre of attention was long gone. As if she was pondering on something, her white teeth were clenching on her red lips.
“The first song, will be Liszt’s La campanella.”
After a deep bow, the clean middle-aged man placed his hands on top of the piano.
Following the quiet, yet rushed fingers, a melody started painting the night.