Mirage of Blaze: Raise the Red Flag | Twin Peonies 1

By Kuwabara Mizuna (author), Hamada Shouko (illustrator)
Translated by asphodel

“Waah, I’m starving! How ’bout we stop for yoshigyuuYoshigyuu (吉牛)

An affectionate name for the beef bowl (gyuudon) served at Yoshinoya (吉野家), one of Japan's largest fast-food chains specializing in gyuudon. A typical order might include Omori (large size) beef bowl, raw egg (mixed with soy sauce and poured on top), a scoop of shoga (red-pickled ginger) and a dash of spice. A bowl starts at 280 yen, and orders are served on the spot.
view map location on the way home?” a student called to his friend in the row diagonally in front of him before the bell signaling the end of classes had even stopped ringing.

JouhokuJouhoku (城北)

Lit: "castle-north"; the name of the high school at which Narita Yuzuru and Ougi Takaya are 2nd-year students, located in Matsumoto City. Likely fictional. However, the manga implies that the real-life equivalent is Fukashi High (深志高) view map location, which is indeed "north of the (Matsumoto) Castle".

School begins in May. Some of the classes Takaya takes are: Classical Literature, Modern Japanese, English, Math, Physics, P.E. and an art elective with choices of Fine Arts, Music, and Calligraphy. Takaya and Yuzuru both take Fine Arts. Their day is divided into Periods, with one class per Period. It sounds like classes rotate into different Periods as the week progresses; for example, in Volume 2 chapter 4, Chiaki tells Takaya that the Math teacher assigned him a problem for Second Period today, because he wasn't there for First Period yesterday.
High: Year Two Group Three. Their last class on Saturday was Modern Japanese. The male student ‘with a rough look in his eyes’ who had spoken at the same time as their teacher, Yoshikane, stepped off the platform was seated directly behind the window.

“You don’t have Club today, right? Let’s eat on the way home!”

“Fine with me, but don’t you have work?”

“At two. So I have time.”

“A gas station view map location near the Matsumoto Interchange view map location, you said, right? It doesn’t really matter to me, but have you reported it?”

“You didn’t let it leak, did you?”

“Stop being so careless. What if you got called in again?”

“It’s not gonna kill me,” Ougi Takaya said, grabbing his very light bag.

After school on a tranquil Saturday.

The weather had cleared in what might be called a break in the rainy season, and the sun shone down into the schoolyard. Students passed each other on their way home and to their afternoon club activities. Narita Yuzuru would normally have been in the latter group, but since the wind ensemble had performed a concert last week, he had today off.

“Hey Yazaki! Wanna come too?” Takaya called to Yazaki Tooru in the desk in front of him.

“Sorry, I gotta go home right after school today.”

“That’s pretty rare of you.”

“Oh, stuff it. I’m the manager for Aoyama-sama this year, so I gotta help out with this ’n that.”

“Aaaah, it’s already that time of year?”

JouhokuJouhoku (城北)

Lit: "castle-north"; the name of the high school at which Narita Yuzuru and Ougi Takaya are 2nd-year students, located in Matsumoto City. Likely fictional. However, the manga implies that the real-life equivalent is Fukashi High (深志高) view map location, which is indeed "north of the (Matsumoto) Castle".

School begins in May. Some of the classes Takaya takes are: Classical Literature, Modern Japanese, English, Math, Physics, P.E. and an art elective with choices of Fine Arts, Music, and Calligraphy. Takaya and Yuzuru both take Fine Arts. Their day is divided into Periods, with one class per Period. It sounds like classes rotate into different Periods as the week progresses; for example, in Volume 2 chapter 4, Chiaki tells Takaya that the Math teacher assigned him a problem for Second Period today, because he wasn't there for First Period yesterday.
High was a school located in MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
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, Nagano PrefectureNagano-ken (長野県)

Formerly known as the province of Shinshuu, Nagano Prefecture is located in central Japan on Honshuu Island. Its capital is the City of Nagano.
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, a scenic, history-rich city built at the foot of Matsumoto CastleMatsumoto Castle (松本城)

Also known as: 深志城 (Fukashi-jou), 鴉城 (Karasu-jou)

A castle in Matsumoto which was built by the Ogasawara Clan during the Sengoku Period (then called Fukashi-jou). It was captured by Takeda Shingen in 1550 and recaptured by Ogasawara Sadayoshi in 1582, who changed the castle's name to Matsumoto Castle. Later it came under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Hideyoshi appointed Ishikawa Kazumasa the new lord of Matsumoto Castle, and he and his son, Ishikawa Yasunaga, maintained the castle and town. Yasunaga greatly expanded the castle probably around the years 1593-1594, adding the three towers tenshu (danjon tower), inui-kotenshu (small tower in the northwest), and watari-yagura (connecting scaffold), as well as the goten (residence), taikomon (drum gate), kuromon (black gate), yagura (scaffold), hori (trench), honmaru (the main wing), ninomaru (the second wing), and sannomaru (the third wing).

Matsumoto Castle is one of the best-preserved castles in Japan and is one of the designated national treasures. It is also called "Crow Castle (Karasu-jou)" for its black walls.
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.

Yazaki’s family ran a tofu shop with a pedigree as an upstanding merchant house stretching back to the Edo PeriodEdo-jidai (江戸時代)

The Edo period in Japanese history, which lasted from 1603 until 1867, was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and was the period in which Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is seen as the beginning of modern Japan. During this period, the Shogunate perceived Christianity as a threat to the stability of Japan and actively persecuted adherents of the religion until it was almost completely eradicated. During this period Japan also isolated itself from the rest of the world, an isolation ending only with the appearance of Commodore Matthew Perry's ships in Edo Bay in 1853.
.

Aoyama-sama was the Lantern Festival held every year around this time. A tradition particular to this region was the Children’s Festival, where children carrying a shrine of cedar leaves paraded through the city.

“Aoyama-sama—that’s where you‘d chant ’wasshyoi korashyoi’...huh? I did that a long time ago—...”

MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
view map location
had been much refined in recently years. The areas around KaruizawaKaruizawa-machi (軽井沢町)

Lit.: Light Well Marsh; a town in Nagano Prefecture located at the foot of Mount Asama which is a popular mountain resort for Tokyo residents, offering outdoor activies and a historic shopping street.
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were greatly changed in this same ShinshuuShinshuu (信州)

Abbreviated name for Shinano, an ancient province in central Japan.
of old, but it had many more stylish shops and was a popular gathering place for the local young people. Even so, the old corrugated iron fences at its street corners were in good repair, perhaps because a balance had always existed in this castle town between the preservation of old traditions and the absorption of new ideas...at least, that was what their Social Studies teacher, who also taught Local History, claimed. Takaya didn’t know whether it was true or not, but well, from his end it certainly seemed that way.

“Yeah, that’s right. And besides, our neighborhood association’s gonna be one of the ‘lead’ groups putting together this year’s Bon-Bon.”

“No way, really? You’re leading?”

“Oh no, what should I do? It’s cleared up! I thought we were gonna suspend Club today!” A shrill voice suddenly crested over them from behind, and Takaya turned. It was Morino Saori, who was a member of the Tennis Team.

“Hey, Ooougi-kun, are you carrying any sunscreen? Sunscreen!”

“What? Why the hell would I be carrying sunscreen?”

“Augh! MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
view map location
has strong ultraviolet rays, so I don’t want to get sunburned!”

“You sound like an old woman!”

MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
view map location
, at the foot of the Northern Alps, was 600 meters above sea level, with accordingly stronger UV rays.

“Oh, sure. A crude guy like you wouldn’t care whether they’re ultraviolet or infrared rays, huh?”

“I don’t wanna hear that from you.”

“Whatever. So is your amnesia cured? Have you remembered Chiaki-kun yet?”

Takaya gave a long-suffering sigh. “Yeah, yeah, I remember.”

“What’s with that attitude? I don’t care either way, but you’re the teachers’ prime suspect for breaking the glass that other night.”

“What?!” Takaya gave her a cold glare.

“They’re saying it was retaliation for you being called into the principal’s office. I wouldn’t put it past you, Ougi-kun.”

Takaya groaned, forehead creasing. That put him in a bind; he hadn’t broken the glass, but he also couldn’t say that it had nothing at all to do with him.

“Don’t worry. I’ll vouch for your alibi.”

“Wh...what alibi, Yuzuru...”

“If they suspect you, then I’ll say that you were with me, and we were investigating the Kasuke UprisingKasuke Ikki (加助一揆)

The Kasuke Ikki, or Kasuke Uprising, was a revolt led by farmers in Matsumoto-han against an increase of taxes. Matsumoto-han was already charging its farmers a higher tax than its neighboring domains. In 1686, during the early part of the Edo Period, the tax in Matsumoto was raised to 3 to 5 shou (around 63 liters) from 3 shou (around 54 liters) due to financial difficulties, versus the standard 2 to 5 shou (around 45 liters) in surrounding areas.

This meant that farmers in Matsumoto were paying almost half again what farmers in other areas were paying, a considerable difference. The harvest had been poor that year, and the farmers rose in revolt. Tada Kasuke, the headman of Nakagaya village in Matsumoto-han, submitted a petition to have the tax lowered to 2 to 5 shou, and around 10,000 peasants marched on Matsumoto Castle on Oct. 14, 1686 in support of the petition.

The daimyo of Matsumoto, Mizuno Tadanao, who was at his Edo residence at the time, promised that he would lower taxes to placate the farmers. However, he later went back on his promise and on Nov. 22, 1686 executed 28 farmers as the ringleaders of the uprising, including Kasuke, his 12- and 10-year-old sons, and his younger brother.
together.”

“Oh...ah, yeah, that’s right. Hahahah.”

Yuzuru smiled effortlessly in response to Takaya’s spastic laughter.

 

“Yeesh, I guess it’s okay since I can’t really ride my bike during the rainy season anyway, but how much d’you think the repairs will cost?”

It was around noon, so the gyuudongyuudon (牛丼)

Lit.: "beef bowl": a Japanese dish consisting of rice covered with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin. It's a very popular dish in Japan, where it can be found in many restaurants and fast food chains.
shop was filled with truck drivers and a crowd from nearby Shinshuu UniversityShinshuu Daigaku (信州大学)

Also known as: Shindai (信大)

Shinshuu University is a Japanese national university located in Nagano Prefecture with five campuses, one of which is located in Matsumoto City. It was founded in 1949. The Arts and Humanities, Medicine, and Science departments are located in Matsumoto.
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. Looking sideways at Takaya grumbling over his lunch, Yuzuru smiled with a mixture of sympathy and censure.

“Because you had to go and get into that weird stoplight race.”

“Dammit. My GSX...”

Trying to think of suitable condolences for Takaya, who was crying into his bowl of gyuudongyuudon (牛丼)

Lit.: "beef bowl": a Japanese dish consisting of rice covered with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin. It's a very popular dish in Japan, where it can be found in many restaurants and fast food chains.
, Yuzuru put up his chopsticks and rested his elbows on the counter.

“But I’m so glad that we were able to return Kasuke-san and the others to normal...”

It had happened just days before.

A strange onryouonryou (怨霊)

Lit.: "vengeful ghost"; the spirits of those who died in the Sengoku period who are still so filled with rage and hatred that they continue to exist in the world as vengeful spirits instead of being purified and reborn.
riot had occurred at JouhokuJouhoku (城北)

Lit: "castle-north"; the name of the high school at which Narita Yuzuru and Ougi Takaya are 2nd-year students, located in Matsumoto City. Likely fictional. However, the manga implies that the real-life equivalent is Fukashi High (深志高) view map location, which is indeed "north of the (Matsumoto) Castle".

School begins in May. Some of the classes Takaya takes are: Classical Literature, Modern Japanese, English, Math, Physics, P.E. and an art elective with choices of Fine Arts, Music, and Calligraphy. Takaya and Yuzuru both take Fine Arts. Their day is divided into Periods, with one class per Period. It sounds like classes rotate into different Periods as the week progresses; for example, in Volume 2 chapter 4, Chiaki tells Takaya that the Math teacher assigned him a problem for Second Period today, because he wasn't there for First Period yesterday.
High School. The spirits of the vanguard of an uprising that had occurred in MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
view map location
more than two hundred years ago had appeared at Jouhoku High. They were the spirits of Tada KasukeTada Kasuke (多田加助) ? - 1686

The headman of Nakagaya village in Matsumoto who submitted a petition to lower taxes in Matsumoto to the same level as that of surrounding areas, thus inciting the Kasuke Uprising. He was one of the 28 ringleaders executed, along with his two sons and younger brother.

It was said that as he was being crucified, Kasuke set a curse against Matsumoto Castle, whose main tower began to tilt from that time and remained tilted until its major renovation in the 1950s.

He was enshrined in 1736, fifty years after the uprising, in a small shrine within the Kasuke home. Two hundred years after his death, the Joukyou Gimin Shrine was built in his hometown (now Sankyou Nakagaya in Azumino), and his and the remains of twelve other people executed with him were transferred there. In 1992 the Joukyou Gimin Memorial was founded.
and twenty-seven others, called the Joukyou Selfless—so named because they led a protest around the middle of the Edo PeriodEdo-jidai (江戸時代)

The Edo period in Japanese history, which lasted from 1603 until 1867, was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and was the period in which Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is seen as the beginning of modern Japan. During this period, the Shogunate perceived Christianity as a threat to the stability of Japan and actively persecuted adherents of the religion until it was almost completely eradicated. During this period Japan also isolated itself from the rest of the world, an isolation ending only with the appearance of Commodore Matthew Perry's ships in Edo Bay in 1853.
against higher annual taxes and were met with oppression from the government and executed. They had been spirits filled with bitterness.

Since the Kasuke had become a danger to the students, Takaya and company had reluctantly decided to exterminate the spirits. Accordingly, they had ventured into the school in the dead of night and in the end managed to resolve the situation and calm the Kasuke.

“They were never evil to begin with...” Takaya looked down with teacup in hand. “I’m not gonna let him get away with it.”

(Mori RanmaruMori Ranmaru (森蘭丸) 1565 - 1582

Also called: Mori Nagasada (森長定), possibly Shigetoshi (成利), Nagayasu (長康)

Historically: A vassal of Oda Nobunaga who served as his attendant from
an early age. His father, Mori Yoshinari, was also a vassal of Oda Nobunaga. Favored by Nobunaga for his talent and loyalty, he also followed the tradition of shudo with his liege-lord. He and his three younger brothers died with Nobunaga at the Honnou-ji on June 21, 1582.
...)

Takaya’s blood still boiled at the thought. The courageous souls of the Kasuke had been used. In an attempt to kill him.

(Because I’m supposed to be Kagetora...)

“Hey Takaya, let’s pay a visit to the graves of the Kasuke at NakagayaNakagaya-mura (中萱村)

The village where Tada Kasuke was headman, now a district of Azumino City in Nagano.
view map location
?”

Takaya lifted his head in surprise. “A grave visit?”

“Yeah. It looks like everybody’s heard about Kasuke-san, so I was thinking about volunteering to go on a grave visit after finals. It wouldn’t take that long to get to NakagayaNakagaya-mura (中萱村)

The village where Tada Kasuke was headman, now a district of Azumino City in Nagano.
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by electric rail.”

He had to work at his part-time job every day during the break after exams, but...

AzuminoAzumino-shi (安曇野市)

A city located in Nagano Prefecture.
view map location
, huh...?”

In elementary school, he had visited the landmarks of the Kasuke UprisingKasuke Ikki (加助一揆)

The Kasuke Ikki, or Kasuke Uprising, was a revolt led by farmers in Matsumoto-han against an increase of taxes. Matsumoto-han was already charging its farmers a higher tax than its neighboring domains. In 1686, during the early part of the Edo Period, the tax in Matsumoto was raised to 3 to 5 shou (around 63 liters) from 3 shou (around 54 liters) due to financial difficulties, versus the standard 2 to 5 shou (around 45 liters) in surrounding areas.

This meant that farmers in Matsumoto were paying almost half again what farmers in other areas were paying, a considerable difference. The harvest had been poor that year, and the farmers rose in revolt. Tada Kasuke, the headman of Nakagaya village in Matsumoto-han, submitted a petition to have the tax lowered to 2 to 5 shou, and around 10,000 peasants marched on Matsumoto Castle on Oct. 14, 1686 in support of the petition.

The daimyo of Matsumoto, Mizuno Tadanao, who was at his Edo residence at the time, promised that he would lower taxes to placate the farmers. However, he later went back on his promise and on Nov. 22, 1686 executed 28 farmers as the ringleaders of the uprising, including Kasuke, his 12- and 10-year-old sons, and his younger brother.
during a local history social studies field trip. A Shinto shrine and museumJoukyou Gimin Memorial (貞享義民記念館)

A memorial hall located in Azumino, Nagano, founded in 1992 to honor the selfless spirit of those who died in the Kasuke Uprising.
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dedicated to the Joukyou Selfless were located at NakagayaNakagaya-mura (中萱村)

The village where Tada Kasuke was headman, now a district of Azumino City in Nagano.
view map location
.

“Maybe I should see if I can go along too...”

“If you’re not going to eat your ginger, give it to me.”

“Huh?...Oh, sure.”

Yuzuru reached over with his chopsticks and picked the red-pickled ginger out of Takaya’s bowl. Takaya heaved a big sigh.

(I wonder if Naoe’s okay....)

In order to suppress the Kasuke, Takaya, Naoe, and Ayako had entered the school in the deep night. They’d been trapped in Mori RanmaruMori Ranmaru (森蘭丸) 1565 - 1582

Also called: Mori Nagasada (森長定), possibly Shigetoshi (成利), Nagayasu (長康)

Historically: A vassal of Oda Nobunaga who served as his attendant from
an early age. His father, Mori Yoshinari, was also a vassal of Oda Nobunaga. Favored by Nobunaga for his talent and loyalty, he also followed the tradition of shudo with his liege-lord. He and his three younger brothers died with Nobunaga at the Honnou-ji on June 21, 1582.
’s kyuuryoku-kekkaikyuuryoku-kekkai (吸力結界)

Lit. "power-absorbing barrier": a unique barrier which absorbs the «power» of anyone trapped inside such that they cannot call upon their spiritual abilities. The maker of the barrier must put considerable negative energy, such as anguish and enmity, into its creation, either from him/herself or from other souls.
, and Naoe had been seriously injured by a shower of glass shards lancing into his back.

(To protect me...) He had literally substituted his body for Takaya’s. (Because he...wanted to protect me or something...)

“Somebody die in your gyuudongyuudon (牛丼)

Lit.: "beef bowl": a Japanese dish consisting of rice covered with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin. It's a very popular dish in Japan, where it can be found in many restaurants and fast food chains.
or something?” Takaya, startled by a now-familiar sarcastic voice, turned to see a young man dressed in JouhokuJouhoku (城北)

Lit: "castle-north"; the name of the high school at which Narita Yuzuru and Ougi Takaya are 2nd-year students, located in Matsumoto City. Likely fictional. However, the manga implies that the real-life equivalent is Fukashi High (深志高) view map location, which is indeed "north of the (Matsumoto) Castle".

School begins in May. Some of the classes Takaya takes are: Classical Literature, Modern Japanese, English, Math, Physics, P.E. and an art elective with choices of Fine Arts, Music, and Calligraphy. Takaya and Yuzuru both take Fine Arts. Their day is divided into Periods, with one class per Period. It sounds like classes rotate into different Periods as the week progresses; for example, in Volume 2 chapter 4, Chiaki tells Takaya that the Math teacher assigned him a problem for Second Period today, because he wasn't there for First Period yesterday.
High’s uniform plopping down in the seat next to him.

He was a rather handsome young man with stylish glasses and longish hair tied into a ponytail.

“Ch-Chiaki, dammit—!”

Gyuudongyuudon (牛丼)

Lit.: "beef bowl": a Japanese dish consisting of rice covered with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin. It's a very popular dish in Japan, where it can be found in many restaurants and fast food chains.
, large, with broth! Oh, and egg!”

“One large, with broth and egg!” One of the restaurant’s assistants repeated in a louder voice.

Takaya ground out, “Why the hell are you loitering around in our uniform?!”

“What kinda greeting is that? I have some free time, so I thought I’d go to school.”

“The Kasuke and Ranmaru are both gone!”

“But school’s fun.”

This was the zashikiwarashizashikiwarashi (座敷わらし)

Little selfish, mischievous spirits who look like children and live in ceilings or old storehouses. It is said that a family which houses one of these spirits becomes rich, but misfortunes befalls the family if the spirit leaves. Children can see these spirits, but adults cannot.
who had slipped into JouhokuJouhoku (城北)

Lit: "castle-north"; the name of the high school at which Narita Yuzuru and Ougi Takaya are 2nd-year students, located in Matsumoto City. Likely fictional. However, the manga implies that the real-life equivalent is Fukashi High (深志高) view map location, which is indeed "north of the (Matsumoto) Castle".

School begins in May. Some of the classes Takaya takes are: Classical Literature, Modern Japanese, English, Math, Physics, P.E. and an art elective with choices of Fine Arts, Music, and Calligraphy. Takaya and Yuzuru both take Fine Arts. Their day is divided into Periods, with one class per Period. It sounds like classes rotate into different Periods as the week progresses; for example, in Volume 2 chapter 4, Chiaki tells Takaya that the Math teacher assigned him a problem for Second Period today, because he wasn't there for First Period yesterday.
High by some strange, murky method. Chiaki Shuuhei—Yasuda NagahideYasuda Nagahide (安田長秀) 1516 - May 8, 1582? 1585? 1592?

Title: Jibu Shousuke (治部少輔)

Historically: Master of Yasuda Castle. The Yasuda family had served the Nagao Clan from the time of Nagao Tamekage (late 1400s). Nagahide supported Nagao Kagetora (Uesugi Kenshin) in the coup d'etat against Nagao Harukage, so was a close aide of Kenshin from early on. He fought in many of Kenshin's wars against Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobunaga, and Houjou Ujiyasu.

He received a commendation for bravery at the 4th battle of Kawanakajima along with six other commanders, including Irobe Katsunaga.

He supported Uesugi Kagekatsu in the Otate no Ran after Kenshin's death. He died in 1582 of illness in the midst of Shibata Shigeie's rebellion. (Other accounts mention 1585, 1592.)

Though he shared the same family name as Yasuda Kagemoto and Yasuda Akimoto, also vassals of the Uesugi Clan, he was descended from a different family.

In Mirage of Blaze: he was summoned by Uesugi Kenshin to become one of the Yasha-shuu and is second in power only to Uesugi Kagetora.
—was now quite thoroughly settled in MatsumotoMatsumoto City (松本市)

The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
view map location
.

“Chiaki, you live by yourself, don’t you? Pretty comfy, aren’t you?” Yuzuru asked with unreserved frankness.

“Yeah, living alone is great. I can watch porn all I want, stay out all night and come home in the morning. Having a guardian is pretty painful, isn’t it, Ougi-kun.”

Takaya was just a bit envious of the porn.

“Come over for some fun tonight, Ougi.”

“I’m not going, idiot.”

“You can watch porn all you want.”

“No way. Really?”

“Nope!” was the immediate reply.

“Fine then.”

Chiaki’s large serving of gyuudongyuudon (牛丼)

Lit.: "beef bowl": a Japanese dish consisting of rice covered with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin. It's a very popular dish in Japan, where it can be found in many restaurants and fast food chains.
arrived, and he dug in.

“That was great. Oh, Haruie left this for you.”

Standing, Chiaki flipped a coin over to Takaya with his thumb. What fell into Takaya’s hand was a 500-yen coin.

“Consolation for breaking your bike. That’ll treat for the gyuudongyuudon (牛丼)

Lit.: "beef bowl": a Japanese dish consisting of rice covered with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin. It's a very popular dish in Japan, where it can be found in many restaurants and fast food chains.
. Incidentally, it’ll cover mine, too. I’ll come pick you up tonight.”

“Hey, wait! I’m not going! You don’t need to come pick...me...hey, Chiaki!”

Chiaki walked out of the restaurant airily with a toothpick in his mouth.

Next to the dumbfounded Takaya, Yuzuru said with some sarcasm, “I did not need to know that it’s because you have Miya-chan at home...”

Takaya became even more dejected.

 

The gasoline station view map location on Saturday afternoon operated in a state of controlled chaos. Situated before the Matsumoto Interchange view map location, it was a frequent stopping place for cars heading for the highway, among them many licenses from out of the prefecture.

“A bit more, a bit more...okay, right there! Thanks for visiting!”

Takaya liked his part-time job at the gasoline station. He didn’t mind the smell of gasoline and oil; in fact, he found it rather calming. Washing cars in the middle of winter was painful, but at least he didn’t have a cramp from a “professional smile” as he would from working somewhere like a fast food restaurant. Running around the busy station was work suited to his character. Most importantly, he could look at the various cars and motorcycles. Like when a corps of touring Harleys had descended on the station just a few days earlier—he’d gotten so involved in a conversation with them that he’d been scolded by his supervisor.

“Regular, full tank!”

“Can you check my air pressure too?”

“Thanks for waiting!” Takaya said, carrying the gas nozzle to a woman customer standing beside a red Legacy with a license number from outside the prefecture. “Here is your 5000 and 900-yen change. Where are you headed for?”

“I want to get to the train station view map location from here—it is okay if I make a right turn, then go straight?”

"Hmm—... You should follow the right lane after the turn. At the Nagisa Str...er, let’s see, at the Number 19 intersection view map location, the straight lane merges with the right-turn lane. It’s easy for people to make a wrong turn around there the first time.

For Takaya, his part-time jobs were much more fulfilling than school clubs or activities, though he couldn’t exactly call his school experience inspiring. (He had always looked older than his age, and people mistook him for a college student quite often.) He could already tell whether the gas tank door was positioned on the left or right side of the car by its make and model, and checking tire pressure and changing the oil were jobs he could now handle flawlessly. He was learning to maintain his own motorcycle, and getting a lot of information from the older car and motorcycle fans working at the station—it was killing two birds with one stone.

(If only schoolwork was like this...)

One of the more senior part-timer workers called out to Takaya as he saw the customer’s car out of the station.

“Ougi, you coming this Monday evening?”

“Evening? I wasn’t scheduled, but...”

“Sorry, but I was wondering if you could fill in for me? I have some urgent business...”

“That’s fine. I’m free from four.”

Another car had entered the station during their exchange. Takaya ran a bit to greet it.

“The first stall inside is free. ...you!”

“Well done, young man.”

The head which popped out of the driver’s seat window was...

Chiaki Shuuhei’s!

“Y-y-y-you, Chiaki! What’s with that superior look? And how come you’re driving that car!”

“What? What’s the fuss?”

“You’re a high school student, aren’t you?”

“Me? I’m nineteen.”

“Liar.”

“Sour grapes, huh? Fill ’er up with regular, okay? Oh, and can you wipe the windows with a new towel? I don’t want a dirty towel touching my Leopard-chan’s face.”

Though Takaya was annoyed, he couldn’t pay Chiaki back in kind while he was a customer (and other customers were watching), so he could only grudgingly begin working.

“Well? When do you finish?”

“Nine.”

“Hum. Then I’ll wait for you at the family restaurant over there.”

“What?! Did you really come to pick me up?”

“Of course, General.” He blew Takaya a kiss. “Hurry up and finish.”

Takaya suddenly felt completely drained.

 

He was a total idiot for being tempted by porn videos...

Takaya could only regret that fact with soul-deep remorse. Chiaki had brought Takaya to his apartment after work. Instead of porn, what awaited the exhausted Takaya was the glory of a Spartan training course...

“All right. Naoe told me that I have to push you hard until you regain your «powers». That means that I’m gonna give you some special training starting today. We’re starting out with a crash-course in nendouryokunendouryoku (念動力)

Lit.: "power of telekinesis"; one of the two types of spiritual abilities of the Yasha-shuu which uses spiritual energy to affect a substance. Naoe levitating pebbles against Takaya is one example.
!”

He had a bad feeling about this just looking at Chiaki’s gleeful face, but—

(Jackpot.)

It was the same ‘training’ he’d seen a long time ago in a children’s magazine he’d loved, which had a real-life ESP-development corner: moving a coin dangling from a chopstick without touching it with your hand.

“What the hell? This training’s totally dull.”

“Then let’s see you do it. Here.”

How the hell was he supposed to move it? Chiaki, with another gleeful grin, said, “Like this”—and immediately the coin began to revolve in large circles on its string. Takaya was impressed by this simple act.

“Woah, it’s really turning.”

“Now you do it.”

Clonk.

“Not like that. Picture it in your mind. Imagine it.”

Clonk.

“You can’t do it at all, huh?”

Clonk.

“Stop muttering.”

“Then move it!”

Irritation built in Takaya when he couldn’t even do this simple trick used to fool children. They got into a huge brawl which had the next-door neighbors complaining before he even managed to make any progress, and they were chased out of the building by the management.

“That’s why I told you that I’m not Kagetora!” Takaya spat out, sitting cross-legged in front of a convenience store.

Though he thought it quite natural that he couldn’t perform nendouryokunendouryoku (念動力)

Lit.: "power of telekinesis"; one of the two types of spiritual abilities of the Yasha-shuu which uses spiritual energy to affect a substance. Naoe levitating pebbles against Takaya is one example.
, it still pissed him off that Chiaki would show off like that in front of him. It added to his dejection and made him feel like running away.

“Everybody and his sister says Kagetora this, Kagetora that. But like I said, I’m not him. Just because I did «choubukuchoubuku (調伏)

Also known as: choubukuryoku (調伏力)

The special power given to the Yasha-shuu to banish onryou to the Underworld using the dharani of Uesugi Kenshin's guardian deity, Bishamonten. The types of choubuku include "kouhou-choubuku", "ressa-choubuku", "kekkai-choubuku", etc. Each choubuku is begun with the incantation "bai" and the ritual hand gesture of Bishamonten's symbol.

Choubuku does not work against kanshousha, who have bodies of their own.
» a time or two—so what? It was just an accident. Under those circumstances anyone...”

“I don’t wanna believe an idiot like you turned out to be Kagetora either.”

“Feh. That’s a bit excessive.”

“Humph. If you’re gonna grumble, I can tell you a thing or two. I don’t see why I gotta trouble myself with you. And just when I got a comfortable life, too.”

“It’s not like you had to come. Besides, you were Kagetora’s enemy, weren’t you?”

“That was more than four hundred years ago.”

“... Whatever. I heard that Naoe and the others perform kanshoukanshou (換生)

To possess another's body, driving out their soul, so as to be reborn with memories intact. Only Naoe of all the kanshousha has the power to perform kanshou on another soul.
on babies, but that’s not true for you, is it? You snatched that body away from someone by force, didn’t you?”

“... And what if that’s true?”

“I won’t forgive you,” Takaya replied immediately, his profiled illuminated for a moment by the red break lights of a car entering the parking lot. “That’s how Shingen almost robbed Yuzuru of his body. So if that’s true, then I won’t forgive you.”

Chiaki, looking at Takaya’s fierce eyes, suddenly poked him in the forehead.

“Ow!”

“That’s a speech you should save for when you can use your «powers»,” Chiaki said, and stood. “Even if you’re not Kagetora, we’ll take anyone with the firepower. Well, it’d certainly make Naoe happy to have someone filling in for Kagetora.”

Takaya sighed. Naoe was a total smarty-pants too, but whether it be Chiaki or Ayako, anyone would probably develop something of an attitude after living for four hundred years.

(Yeah, yeah, I’m the cub here.)

He looked up at the night sky, feeling strangely abject. Scorpio’s red star twinkled directly above the castle hill.

 

Monday morning was the pits.

Still drained from working at his part-time job on Saturday and Sunday, Takaya was sleeping late as usual. In addition to his difficulty with getting up, he had detested Physics as the first period of the day today. There was nothing was more depressing than that. He rushed into the Physics classroom at the last minute, stomach rumbling—happily, the teacher had not yet arrived. However, the students seemed to be in a strange mood.

“Oh, Takaya! Over here!”

Yazaki and others were standing with Yuzuru near the heater by the window. They waved at him when they saw him come in.

“What’s everyone making a fuss about?”

“Nothing good. It appeared again.”

“Appeared? What?”

“A ghost.”

Takaya scowled. “A ghost...it couldn’t be...”

“It was seen last Saturday, too. It was in the girls’ locker room this time.”

“You were peeping?”

“No! Idiot. They said that it was a girl wearing a white kimono.”

“A white kimono?” Takaya asked, his brows knitting. The Kasuke had all been wearing white as well.

“It sounds like the students who went back to the locker room after their club activities saw it. For some reason, the clothes they left in there were all totally soaked.”

There had been considerable distress. At first they had suspected a malfunction in the sprinkler system, but they had found no trace of water on the floor.

“Woah, really? Sounds like the real thing.”

“Could there be a child of the Kasuke who still can’t rest in peace?”

“Couldn’t be. Because I’m sure we...” he trailed off, realizing that he had no proof that all of them had been there at the time. There certainly might be others.

“Yo.” Chiaki Shuuhei raised his hand from the door and walked in.

Greeting him with only a “good timing”, Takaya told Chiaki about what had happened.

“Here again? Those ingrates.” Chiaki wasn’t being quite serious. “There shouldn’t be anything left at this school. If one of them had remained, Haruie or I would’ve noticed a long time ago.”

“Then what’s going on?”

“Rise!”

Akasaka, the Physics teacher, entered. The ghost problem would have to wait until after class.

 

“Hmmmmm. So I was right,” Chiaki groaned softly as he opened a book in front of the Local History shelves. It was the noon break. Takaya and the others were, on this rare occasion, in the school library.

“Look. Here.”

The book Chiaki was holding had material concerning the Kasuke UprisingKasuke Ikki (加助一揆)

The Kasuke Ikki, or Kasuke Uprising, was a revolt led by farmers in Matsumoto-han against an increase of taxes. Matsumoto-han was already charging its farmers a higher tax than its neighboring domains. In 1686, during the early part of the Edo Period, the tax in Matsumoto was raised to 3 to 5 shou (around 63 liters) from 3 shou (around 54 liters) due to financial difficulties, versus the standard 2 to 5 shou (around 45 liters) in surrounding areas.

This meant that farmers in Matsumoto were paying almost half again what farmers in other areas were paying, a considerable difference. The harvest had been poor that year, and the farmers rose in revolt. Tada Kasuke, the headman of Nakagaya village in Matsumoto-han, submitted a petition to have the tax lowered to 2 to 5 shou, and around 10,000 peasants marched on Matsumoto Castle on Oct. 14, 1686 in support of the petition.

The daimyo of Matsumoto, Mizuno Tadanao, who was at his Edo residence at the time, promised that he would lower taxes to placate the farmers. However, he later went back on his promise and on Nov. 22, 1686 executed 28 farmers as the ringleaders of the uprising, including Kasuke, his 12- and 10-year-old sons, and his younger brother.
.

“This is about the people who were executed. As I thought, there were only boys, no girls.”

Only one female had been executed in the Kasuke UprisingKasuke Ikki (加助一揆)

The Kasuke Ikki, or Kasuke Uprising, was a revolt led by farmers in Matsumoto-han against an increase of taxes. Matsumoto-han was already charging its farmers a higher tax than its neighboring domains. In 1686, during the early part of the Edo Period, the tax in Matsumoto was raised to 3 to 5 shou (around 63 liters) from 3 shou (around 54 liters) due to financial difficulties, versus the standard 2 to 5 shou (around 45 liters) in surrounding areas.

This meant that farmers in Matsumoto were paying almost half again what farmers in other areas were paying, a considerable difference. The harvest had been poor that year, and the farmers rose in revolt. Tada Kasuke, the headman of Nakagaya village in Matsumoto-han, submitted a petition to have the tax lowered to 2 to 5 shou, and around 10,000 peasants marched on Matsumoto Castle on Oct. 14, 1686 in support of the petition.

The daimyo of Matsumoto, Mizuno Tadanao, who was at his Edo residence at the time, promised that he would lower taxes to placate the farmers. However, he later went back on his promise and on Nov. 22, 1686 executed 28 farmers as the ringleaders of the uprising, including Kasuke, his 12- and 10-year-old sons, and his younger brother.
—“Jun”, the daughter of Oana ZenbeeOana Zenbee (小穴善兵衛)

One of the ringleaders of the Kasuke Uprising executed with Tada Kasuke, from Nire Village. His daughter Jun was also executed.
. It had been an exception; apparently it was because she had served in the important post of a government messenger. They took a look at Dekawara, which had also been an execution ground, but there were no women listed there either.

“They would’ve executed the boys to extinguish the family line, so there wouldn’t’ve been any point in including baby girls.”

“Then what’s going on now?”

“Mmmm. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the Kasuke UprisingKasuke Ikki (加助一揆)

The Kasuke Ikki, or Kasuke Uprising, was a revolt led by farmers in Matsumoto-han against an increase of taxes. Matsumoto-han was already charging its farmers a higher tax than its neighboring domains. In 1686, during the early part of the Edo Period, the tax in Matsumoto was raised to 3 to 5 shou (around 63 liters) from 3 shou (around 54 liters) due to financial difficulties, versus the standard 2 to 5 shou (around 45 liters) in surrounding areas.

This meant that farmers in Matsumoto were paying almost half again what farmers in other areas were paying, a considerable difference. The harvest had been poor that year, and the farmers rose in revolt. Tada Kasuke, the headman of Nakagaya village in Matsumoto-han, submitted a petition to have the tax lowered to 2 to 5 shou, and around 10,000 peasants marched on Matsumoto Castle on Oct. 14, 1686 in support of the petition.

The daimyo of Matsumoto, Mizuno Tadanao, who was at his Edo residence at the time, promised that he would lower taxes to placate the farmers. However, he later went back on his promise and on Nov. 22, 1686 executed 28 farmers as the ringleaders of the uprising, including Kasuke, his 12- and 10-year-old sons, and his younger brother.
.” Chiaki closed his book with a thud. “...Maybe they’re spirits who were here originally and became active after being stimulated by the Kasuke. Investigating the sightings at the actual site ASAP would be the best thing to do at this point.”

Unfortunately, the site in question was the girls’ locker room.

“Should we call that lady—Haruie or whatever?”

“It really hasn’t gotten to that point yet. And a suggestion would be a lot of trouble as well. We need someone who can go inside—maybe ask one of the girls for help?”

They pondered the question. Large eyes peered in at them through the gaps of the opposite bookshelf, and a voice said: “There he is, there he is! Ougi-kun!” Morino Saori stepped out from behind it.

“Perfect timing, Morino. Look...”

“I’ve been looking all over for you, Ougi-kun!”

“? What?”

“It appeared again!” Saori screamed, forgetting that they were in a library. “The ghost! We saw it again!”

“What!”

They galloped after Saori towards the girls’ locker room on the second floor of the gym.

When they arrived, the Fourth Period PE students were milling around outside, still in their uniforms. The PE teachers were clamoring about “somebody’s prank”.

“Sorry, ’scuse me.” Chiaki and the others, adopting the manner of detectives, pushed their way through the crowd of curious onlookers to the front. The female students were indeed holding uniforms which were drenched through. Strangely enough, only the uniforms were wet; neither the floor nor desks were even moist, and there were no signs of a dried leak on the ceiling.

“It’s weird! Because they got dripping wet when we started folding them!”

And it certainly didn’t seem as if someone had dipped the uniforms one by one into a tub of water.

“...What’d you think, Chiaki?”

Chiaki performed a spiritual sensingreisa (霊査)

Also known as: reisa-nouryoku (霊査能力)

Lit.: "Spiritual investigation"; the ability to use the spiritual senses to distinguish between residual thought signatures, and thus recognize spiritual entities. A person with a high-level form of this ability could potentially recognize souls by the pattern of their "soul-nucleus", which is the part of the soul that remains unchanged through purification and rebirth, especially if they had met that person before previously. Haruie and Kousaka both excel at this ability, though Kousaka seems to be one of the few to possess a very high-level form of it.
, eyes narrowing behind his glasses. Then he suddenly pushed his way into the crowd of excited young women.

“Ack, wai... Chiaki-kun!”

He looked around. The spirit was no longer there. He picked up the uniform lying on the nearest desk. Ah. Water dripped from the sodden cloth. It reeked faintly, as if the water were not fresh, but had come from a pond in which algae and other things grew...

Yuzuru seemed to sense something at the same time.

“...Takaya...! I hear singing.”

“What?”

Takaya strained to hear it. Though he didn’t believe that there was a ghost at all, he could certainly hear something mixed up in the general confusion: a child’s delicate voice.

(What kind of a song is...?)

It appeared that Chiaki also heard it: a girl’s voice singing a plaintive melody that Chiaki didn’t know. It, too, vanished not long after.

“Feh. I couldn’t catch it.”

Chiaki noticed the distant expressions on Takaya and Yuzuru’s faces when he returned. They apparently knew something of the song.

“Do you guys know what song that was?”

“... The Bon-Bon,” Takaya replied in surprise. “That’s a song of the Bon-Bon.”

The Bon-Bon? Chiaki tilted his head quizzically.