The Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time - Chapter 198.1
Side story 28 Meanwhile in Origin, in the absence of the god of reincarnation
Alda, the god of law and fate, was naturally a god who prioritized reason above emotions. At the very least, he believed and preached that one should preserve logic and reason, and suppress emotion. However, he knew from experience that this was not something that could always be put into practice.
There were events in which Alda found himself unable to suppress his emotions, though they were few in number. One was the time when the gods he considered to be his brothers and sisters were defeated and their existence extinguished by the Demon King Guduranis. Another was when he learned that Vida had constructed her own circle of transmigration system and given birth to corrupted races.
And another was now, after Rodcorte’s revelation of a number of truths, including Rodcorte’s own actions.
He had lost count of how many times he had raised his voice in anger.
“You bastard… What are you thinking?! Do you intend to become the ruler of this world?!” Alda finally bellowed, after Rodcorte had finished speaking.
The gods present during the discussion stiffened as Alda’s anger shook the entire Divine Realm.
“I do not believe that I have become the ruler of this world,” said Rodcorte, showing no discomposure despite the anger that was being directed at him. “However, it is true that I was discontented that you ignored what I have been saying for many years.”
“And because of your discontent, you took it upon yourself to reincarnate upon Lambda the inhabitants of another world, wielding special powers, as well as Vandalieu, whose soul is made from the soul fragments of Zakkart and the other champions?!” Alda roared.
“Regarding Vandalieu, that was indeed an oversight on my part. I had multiple chances to realize that he was the being who possessed what used to be the champions’ souls, and I deserve the blame for failing to take notice. However, that should not have become a problem to begin with,” said Rodcorte, apologizing in his first sentences but insisting that he was blameless with the last.
Alda forgot his anger for a moment and simply stared, dumbfounded by Rodcorte’s shamelessness.
“It should not have become a problem?! Have you lost your mind?!” demanded Yupeon, the god of ice.
“… These are not words that would be spoken by anyone who understands the situation,” muttered Niltark, the god of judgment.
Both of them were gods whose spirit clones had been destroyed by Vandalieu.
The other gods also began to express their discontent at Rodcorte’s words.
In the current situation, Vandalieu had become a threat that Alda and his followers could no longer ignore. His power was tremendous for a mortal, but he did not yet possess as much power as Guduranis had. However, the danger he posed to society was greater than Guduranis.
He blurred the boundary between the living and the dead, gathered the races created by Vida, possessed knowledge and technology from another world, and tempted the people to a dark path.
Perhaps Vandalieu’s actions could not be objectively declared as purely evil. However, Alda’s objective was to restore the world to its correct state… to the ordinary, pure state that it had been in before the Demon King Guduranis appeared, free of monsters. Vandalieu’s actions clearly opposed that objective, and the world order that Alda imposed.
Undead were monsters, and corrupted Mana lingered in their presence. But it was not only them; such Mana also lingered in the presence of Vida’s races that possessed Ranks, such as the Majin, Scylla and Vampires. Thus, any land in which a large population of these races lived would become contaminated, turning into Devil’s Nests in which monsters roamed.
Alda had always believed that Vida’s races that did not possess Ranks, such as Titans, Beast-people and Dark Elves, could be accepted once the unstable, unpredictable circle of transmigration system created by Vida was abolished. However, the races with Ranks could not be accepted.
If they were very few in number, he would not mind preserving their souls and taking steps to turn them into Familiar Spirits after Vida’s circle of transmigration system was abolished, however.
But according to Rodcorte, Vandalieu was even interfering with that circle of transmigration system, guiding souls that belonged to Rodcorte’s and the Demon King’s circle of transmigration systems to Vida’s.
He was already essentially trampling the world order that the gods of Alda’s forces believed in underfoot just by existing.
“Are you saying that this is not a problem?!” Yupeon shouted.
“The truth is that it was not a problem. I have just explained the circumstances in which I reincarnated Vandalieu in Lambda. Ordinarily, he would have been born in an environment of misfortune as a human, Elf, Dwarf or as a mix of those races, and he would have been highly likely to die before his memories and personalities returned,” said Rodcorte. “However, Vandalieu was born as a Dhampir. At the time, I did not know why, but I do now. It is because of the meddling of Vida, Ricklent and Zuruwarn.”
Upon hearing the name of Vida, as well as those of two of the great gods who were thought to have been slumbering until Rodcorte mentioned them, Yupeon and Niltark’s angry words stopped.
“I have not given Vandalieu anything other than the curses that he bears. Despite that, he regained his memories and personality far earlier than he should have, led the Ghouls across the Boundary Mountain Range, and has survived for all of this time. He has done so because he had Vida’s help. There is no other explanation,” said Rodcorte.
Though the gods remained silent, they agreed with Rodcorte. That was how harsh the circumstances of Vandalieu’s early life had been, even in the eyes of the gods.
And although there was no proof, the truth was that Ricklent and Zuruwarn had taken action to help Vandalieu approximately a hundred years before his reincarnation, and Vida and Gufadgarn had also taken action after hearing their Divine Messages.
Rodcorte’s explanation sounded convincing.
However, Rodcorte thought nothing more of this explanation as one that would be convenient for convincing Alda and his followers if it were true. He had almost no knowledge of when Vida and the other gods had begun to take action, or how much assistance they had given Vandalieu.
All he knew was that they had caused Vandalieu to be reincarnated as a Dhampir, and that they had caused the souls of the ‘Gazer’ Minuma Hitomi and the Eighth Guidance to become reincarnated at Vandalieu’s side as Legion.
However, that was all he needed to know to give a flimsy explanation.
“I am not saying that I bear no responsibility, but… do you, gods of Lambda, especially Alda, not also bear responsibility for overseeing the world? It is your own brethren who have willingly brought about this threat,” said Rodcorte.
Alda felt his anger rise up within him once more, but he also realized that anger would serve no purpose.
There is no use in throwing my emotions at Rodcorte, a god who camouflages his arrogance as composure, he thought.
Rodcorte was unperturbed by Alda’s anger because he knew that there would be no direct punishment to him. He ruled over reincarnation, an important component of the world, and yet he was not a god who belonged to this world. If he wanted to, he could easily escape from Lambda.
Even if Alda somehow managed to capture him and seal him away to punish him, there was no god in Lambda who could rule over the circle of transmigration system in his place. In fact, it was possible that gods from other worlds whose reincarnation Rodcorte ruled over would attack Lambda and try to rescue Rodcorte in order to preserve their own worlds.
That was what Alda thought.
The reality was that Vandalieu had spread news of Rodcorte’s existence inside the Boundary Mountain Range, causing him to become a god of Lambda. However, Rodcorte was concealing this piece of information, so Alda did not know this.
“… I take it that if we acknowledge that we are partly to blame, you will help us eliminate Vandalieu?” Alda asked, swallowing his anger, causing his subordinate gods to stare at him in astonishment.
“Of course. I shall do my best to have the reincarnated individuals cooperate with you,” said Rodcorte.
“I have a condition for those reincarnated individuals. I forbid them from teaching the people of this world any knowledge and technology from other worlds that we have deemed taboo,” said Alda.
Rodcorte nodded. “I do not mind. I shall tell the reincarnated individuals this myself.”
The surprise of Alda’s subordinates grew even further upon hearing that Alda would accept the reincarnated individuals as allied forces, despite the fact that they were beings who ought to be eliminated.
“Alda, are you sure about this? Though I do think that it would be impossible to get rid of them,” said the former champion Nineroad, who was now a heroic spirit of the wind attribute.
“I am reluctant,” said Alda. “But as you say, it would be impossible to eliminate them. Even more so, considering that Rodcorte himself cannot stop them.”
Once the reincarnated individuals were born in Lambda, it would be simple to learn their locations from Rodcorte. However, how would they be eliminated after that?
They had succeeded in placing Eileek, a young man with desirable qualities, in the position of Pope. He would be able to understand even detailed instructions in Divine Messages. However, that did not mean that Alda could continually send him orders to slaughter babies.
All of the reincarnated individuals possessed Rodcorte’s divine protection, as well as the fortunes and destinies that they had received from him. These could be slightly adjusted before they were reincarnated, but they could not be removed.
Thus, most of the reincarnated individuals would be born to wealthy parents, in an environment where they would be unlikely to die during early childhood. In other words, they would be born into the families of successful merchants or adventurers, or into families of nobility or royalty. It would not be a simple matter to kill children born into such families.
Indeed, three of the reincarnated individuals had already been born into noble or royal families.
“Alda, how about telling the humans that they are reincarnated individuals from another world, and they must be eliminated?” suggested Mill, the goddess of slumber. “Our believers should already understand that we have forbidden knowledge and technology from foreign worlds. We would inflict suffering upon them, but would they not accept our commands in the end?”
“Mill, that may be possible in times of peace, in a nation like the Amid Empire in which there is a strong foundation of those who worship us. However, in current circumstances, it is impossible,” said Alda.
It would be possible to explain the situation regarding the reincarnated individuals to Eileek. However, this information would need to be passed onto the people, and through this process, it was possible that it would cause a division between those who accepted it and the portion of believers who didn’t. It would be desirable to avoid this.
In the current Amid Empire, Emperor Marshukzarl would use the people who didn’t accept it as a resistance against the young Pope. He would skillfully incite the people, saying that the young Pope had misinterpreted Alda’s will due to his inexperience.
And as for a nation like the Orbaume Kingdom, the people who followed religions other than Alda’s would easily form a resistance.
“You’re right. It seems better to accept them as fighting allies than doing something troublesome like that,” said Gorn, the Boulder Giant.
Many of the other gods nodded in agreement.
“I am most pleased that you understand,” said Rodcorte.
If he were to curse the reincarnated individuals like he had done with Vandalieu, then reincarnate them in adult bodies in predetermined locations where priest-warriors and knights were waiting to kill them, disposing of the reincarnated individuals might be possible.
Alda and the other gods were aware of this as well.
However, they did not trust Rodcorte to cooperate with them to this extent. And as he could not remove their cheat-like abilities entirely, there was still a small chance that one might escape and go on to become a second Vandalieu.
Alda and his gods knew that accepting them to fight for them would be better than risking such a troublesome thing.
“Now then, I shall explain the current situation with those who have already been reincarnated,” said Rodcorte.
This discussion between gods continued for a while, at Rodcorte’s pace.
However, Rodcorte was considerably late to realize that strange events were taking place in Origin as a result of this, and his three familiar spirits were left to deal with the system as it reported errors.
Joseph Smith received regular counselling. He had frequently taken harsh, dangerous missions. The one fresh in his mind was now known as the ‘Eighth Guidance incident,’ and during this mission, he had lost a number of colleagues whom he had known for over a decade.
He was mentally cornered, and had begun to start hinting that he may commit suicide. His condition had deteriorated to the point that his counsellor had recommended that he be hospitalized.
But the Joseph before the counsellor today was calm, appearing as if he had been released from all of his stress.
“Joseph-san, you’re looking good today,” the counsellor remarked.
“Yes, I’ve been able to sleep well even without sleeping pills these days,” said Joseph.
In his previous life, he had been known as Sumida Shiro, named with the wish that he would become a man who was fine and well-built like a castle, and he had been a teacher in charge of a different class from Murakami’s. In this world, he was a member of the Bravers, with the codename ‘Druid.’
TLN: 城/Shiro means “castle” in Japanese.
He had originally been a very gentle person, the kind of person who could never harm someone else. Even after he joined the Bravers, he had felt a sense of duty to help people, using the powers given to him by a god for disaster rescue and supporting agricultural work.
However, that did not mean that he lacked the resolve to kill someone.
His mind was delicate, and although he was not as mentally damaged as the ‘Gazer’ Minuma Hitomi, he had been cornered. He had nightmares of the terrorists he had killed; he saw the faces and heard the voices of the victims he had been unable to save as they blamed him. Fearing these, he had become unable to sleep without powerful sleeping drugs… or at least, that was supposed to be the case.
“That is a good sign,” said the counsellor. “Did something happen to change your mood?”
“Yes, I had a dream. Something very large gave me a part of its own body. You don’t understand what I’m talking about, do you? But ever since I received it, I have felt at ease,” said Joseph with a smile. “I have stopped having nightmares, but I would like to have that dream once more. I feel like if I could meet that thing again, I could go with it. To a dark place, where I can be at peace.”
“That is… Could you tell me about it in more detail?” the counsellor asked, feeling disturbed by Joseph’s words.
Joseph had no choice but to explain all of the details of his dream that he could remember, as well as recent events that had taken place in reality.
In addition to Joseph, there were several dozen others all around the world who told their counsellors and doctors of dreams in which they were given something by an indescribable being.
This phenomenon was psychologically analyzed and researched, but these efforts did not produce any results.
The ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri received a strange report from his closely-trusted secretary.
“A number of psychologically damaged Bravers, Eighth Guidance worshippers and experimental subjects had the same dream during the same time period?” he repeated.
The female secretary appeared perplexed herself. “Yes,” she said, continuing her report with a confused expression on her face. “There are variations in the dream from individual to individual, but they were all dreams in which they encountered an indescribable being, which gave them parts of its own body. It seems that in many of the dreams, they received eyes or mouths, while some said they only drank the being’s blood.”
The dream that the secretary was describing would normally be considered a nightmare. It was quite an unusual dream; it would certainly not be a common one.
For dozens of people whom Rikudou Hijiri was keeping an eye on to see that dream… at around the same time, was strange. He knew it was strange, but he didn’t understand exactly what was going on.
He had realized that the ‘Undead’ was the reincarnated individual named Amamiya Hiroto, but even he could not guess that Amamiya, now Vandalieu, had come from another world and appeared in their dreams.
“Those who had the dream are mentally stable; the most remarkable is ‘Druid,’ who has told his counsellor that he is completely cured. The experimental subjects have shown no physical changes, but mentally, they are in a calm state,” said the secretary.
The experimental subjects were those being used in Rikudou Hijiri’s secret death-attribute research… There were terrorists and death-row criminals who were thought to have been killed, as well as homeless people and street orphans – all obtained through illegal means.
These were precious human subjects, acquired with the help of various nations, so it would be problematic if they were to die. But it would also be problematic if they were to acquire the death attribute like the members of the Eighth Guidance. Thus, these subjects were under constant surveillance.
The contents of their dreams could not be monitored, but a calm mental state had been observed across all of them when they woke up from that particular dream, at around the same time.
“Is there a complete analysis of the subjects’ Mana?” Rikudou asked.
“Yes. The results are summarized here,” said the secretary, handing him a written report.
Rikudou read the report to see that the Mana of the subjects showed no changes in their affinities to the attributes, nor did they show a change in quantity.
“I believe that this dream incident has been noticed by various intelligence agencies,” said the secretary. “Eighth Guidance worshippers have spread news of it on social media, blogs and private websites. It could be called a ‘festival,’ as they are celebrating that the ‘Undead’ has appeared in their dreams.”
“… Are they not aware that they are marked by intelligence agencies as a dangerous group that idolizes terrorists?” Rikudou muttered.
Eighth Guidance worshippers were a group of people who worshipped the now-dead Eighth Guidance – worshipping Pluto in particular. But with that said, they were not a criminal organization.
As they mainly worshipped Pluto and Baba Yaga, most of them were docile. They were recognized as a peaceful group; the most they would do was organize rallies to advocate the complete ban of research into the death attribute.
“… Have specialized psychologists analyze the dreams. It may have something to do with the death attribute,” said Rikudou. “It is highly likely that the Eighth Guidance received death-attribute Mana from the ‘Undead’… Amamiya Hiroto. I think the contents of the dreams have some similarities.”
“Very well,” said the secretary.
“And I will attend the president’s party in three days,” Rikudou added.
“Not her?” the secretary asked.
“No. If I spend too much time away from the center stage of politics, I will become worse at acting as my public self. She may be capable of changing her appearance, but I am not.”
‘Rikudou Hijiri’ stood on a stage, giving a speech in front of cameras and an audience, as if he were a politician during an election.
“It is true that we Bravers have made mistakes. There are a countless number of people who were plunged into despair because we were slow to act, because we were too weak! But that is precisely why we cannot stop here. Please believe in the Bravers once more to fight against terrorists who seek to destroy international order and the endless natural disasters that happen in this world!”
The audience applauded and shouted encouraging words.
“Do your best!”
“We’re supporting you!”
The people’s trust in the Bravers had fallen after the Eighth Guidance incident. However, when the death stored inside Pluto wiped out the Federal State’s department of defense, Amemiya Hiroto had resolved the crisis, restoring the people’s trust.
The people had lost their trust in the Federal State due to them recovering the corpses of the Eighth Guidance members to resume research into the death attribute, and without the Bravers, the entirety of the Federal State would have likely still been covered in a black fog up until this day. Thus, there was now trust in the Bravers.
This was the result of ‘Braver’ Amemiya Hiroto’s actions, but at the same time, it was also due to the losses caused by the Federal State’s blunder. That was why ‘Rikudou Hijiri’ was diligently attending charity events and speeches, as well as parties hosted by important figures and large enterprises – to maintain the Bravers organization.
Well, it’s not thanks to him, thought the ‘Shaman’ Moriya Kousuke, laughing to himself as he watched ‘Rikudou’s’ speech.
The Bravers had failed during the Eighth Guidance incident, but in the end, nobody had raised their voices to blame them for it.
One reason was that the Federal State had committed an even greater blunder than them, but it was also because the international community did not want the Bravers to disband.
This was because they were an organization of individuals with mysterious powers whose principles were still unknown, and if certain rules were followed, it was very easy to make use of them.
‘Rikudou Hijiri’ finished his speech, exited the stage and walked towards where Moriya was waiting.
“Excellent work, ‘Rikudou’-san,” said Moriya. “Next is a one-day lecture at the European Union Magic University. The car is this way.”
“I know,” said ‘Rikudou.’ “But can’t you get me business class seats for the plane?”
“My apologies. This is part of an appeal to the public that we are part of the common masses. We have prepared a premium economy seat next to the window.”
“… We’re going to the airport in a bulletproof, magic-proof limousine, then taking premium economy. That makes it more difficult to understand what it’s like to be a part of the common masses,” said ‘Rikudou,’ giving a bitter, Rikudou-like smile as he got into the limousine.
The moment he sat in his seat, he became as expressionless as a mannequin.
“How long will it take to get to the airport?” asked Moriya, a subordinate of the real Rikudou Hijiri.
“Approximately one hour,” replied the driver.
“I see… I suppose I’ll spend that time doing some maintenance,” Moriya said, taking out what appeared to be a helmet with a visor from a cooler. “I wish the technology team would hurry up and make these smaller,” he murmured to himself as he placed the helmet on the mannequin-like ‘Rikudou Hijiri’… the ‘Metamorph’ Shihouin Mari.
“Can the brainwashing be maintained with just that helmet?” the driver asked.
“Yes, it’s an advanced, highly expensive Magic Item that automatically activates its magic when worn while simultaneously injecting drugs into the wearer,” said Moriya. “We can’t buy out a jumbo jet, but we can easily buy out a medium-sized plane.”
This conversation was already inaudible to Mari. The helmet blocked out all external sound as it quickly activated its magical effects on her mind and injected drugs into her.
The helmet began the maintenance work needed to keep her in a state where she would continue to be a convenient puppet that acted in his place.
The black visor covered her vision; her eyes were open, but all she saw was a black darkness.
Or at least, that was supposed to be the case, but someone’s face appeared in the darkness – a white face with one purple eye and one crimson one.
“Who are you?” the white silhouette asked.
Moriya jumped in surprise.
“Is there something wrong?” the driver asked. “I thought I saw her move…”
“I suppose the drug injection process has started. It’s completely normal. Focus on the road,” said Moriya.
But Mari did not hear this conversation between Moriya and the driver.
The only thing she heard was the white silhouette’s words.
“Who are you?” it asked.
I am… the ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri, she answered wordlessly.
But the white silhouette shook its head. “That is not you,” it said.
Are you… me?
“I am not you.”
Then who… am I?
The helmet’s magic was at work, and drugs were injected into Mari’s body. But she showed no signs of reacting to them.
“I don’t know the answer to that question. Who are you?” the white silhouette asked.
As it stared at her, Mari felt as if she needed to answer it, and desperately searched for the answer… but the answer did not come to her yet.
“Who are you?”
And from then on, the white silhouette began to appear on windows, on the surface of the black coffee she drank, the back of her eyelids when she closed her eyes, continuously asking her this question.
Mei, who was now over one and a half years old, was growing up to be a healthy child.
She was a quiet child who almost never cried; this had actually worried Amemiya Narumi at first, but she was at ease now. However, it seemed that she enjoyed playing on her own more than anything else.
She was currently drawing something with a crayon, humming happily. No, perhaps she simply found it fun to fill the white drawing paper with the color of her crayons.
“Mei, what is this?” her older brother Hiroshi asked curiously, staring at her drawing.
“What have you drawn? Show it to Mommy… Is it Daddy?” Narumi asked, thinking that the black person drawn on the paper could be Amemiya Hiroto, Mei’s father.
But Mei shook her head. “No, it’s Banda,” she said happily.
“You’re so weird. Pandas have white as well, not just black,” said Hiroshi.
“Banda, Banda!” Mei cried.
“Hiroshi, that’s how they appear to Mei. Banda-san seems to have a lot of black parts,” said Narumi, hastily stepping in to prevent an argument between the siblings.
The small Vandalieu that Vandalieu had created using his own body parts… Banda, gave a sigh of relief as he watched from above.
I’m not a panda, though, he thought. I’d never have imagined that Meh-kun would be the child of Naruse Narumi… Amemiya Narumi, the one that Pluto saved. I was curious about her, but coincidences are pretty scary.
He then thought about what he should do next.
My connection to my real self has been almost completely severed, so I can’t share memories with him. And I can’t go beyond a certain distance away from Meh-kun. Maybe that’s because my main body is Meh-kun? Nobody can see me except for Meh-kun, and I can’t touch anyone unless I try to. Well, I suppose I’ll go with my initial plan – Bug Killer.
A mosquito that had flown into the room dropped dead from Banda’s spell.
“… Huh? Am I imagining things? I feel like a spell was used somewhere…” Narumi muttered to herself, looking around the room.
Vandalieu ignored her as he continued thinking. I can cast spells. Death-attribute Mana is difficult to sense, so I can use spells like Bug Killer and Sterilization even if she’s close by, and she won’t notice. I might be able to use other Skills, too… I’ve already confirmed that I can use Materialization.
Immediately after Mei woke up from her dream, Banda had been standing next to her crib, testing various things in order to comprehend the situation that he had found himself in.
Communicating with Vandalieu was impossible. Sharing memories with him was also impossible. Checking Banda’s own Status had also failed, as this was not Lambda.
And upon realizing that he did not have a physical body, Banda had checked whether he had a reflection in a mirror, and checked whether he could use the Materialization Skill.
He had easily been able to materialize his entire body… and the moment he did, his body had been reflected in the mirror, so he had hastily dematerialized himself.
“Even if it was a dream, couldn’t Vandalieu have put me together more skillfully?” Banda lamented.
At a glance, he looked like a human.
A human with four eyes, wearing a mask covered in open mouths even where his ears should be, a small black fur coat on his head and white hair.
But the ‘mask’ was his real face, and what appeared to be a coat was actually an external membrane with fur growing from it. As for the inside, his arms were made from multiple bones and his body contained multiple skeletons, which were all supported by jointed legs and covered haphazardly in exoskeleton and carapace.
No matter how one looked at it, Banda had the appearance of a demon. He wanted to avoid being seen by other people, least of all by the Amemiyas or their son. It was possible that they would attack him on sight.
Hiroshi… Could it be that he named his child after my previous name? Ah, I don’t want to get involved, Banda thought.
He did not have any hatred for the Amemiyas anymore, nor did he feel the desire for a happy family that he had felt on earth, but it would be painful to continuously be shown this happy family.
But Banda could not venture beyond a certain distance away from Mei… approximately fifty meters. He could not tear the young Mei from her parents’ grasp, so he had no choice but to bear it.
“… It can’t be helped. I still want to test my body’s strength and physical abilities, and whether I can use offensive death-attribute spells and no-attribute spells, but that’s impossible to do now. Well, I have only a fraction of Vandalieu’s Mana, so I know I wouldn’t be able to use Hollow Cannon, which needs a billion Mana,” Vandalieu muttered to himself, trying to avoid reality.
“Mistress! The laundry is finished!” said a woman’s voice from outside.
It seemed that Amemiya Narumi had hired someone to work as a housekeeper and babysitter.
This was likely because there were times when both parents would be away from the house on missions. And although Banda had not seen them yet, there was the presence of what seemed to be bodyguards inside the house.
“Thank you. You can rest until lunchtime,” Narumi said to the housekeeper. “… That’s strange, was I really just imagining things?” she wondered once more.
“I-it’s not me! I promised I wouldn’t use magic without permission!” Hiroshi said indignantly.
“Banda,” said Mei.
Meh-kun, keep quiet about that, thought Banda.
And so, the Amemiya household gained a new inhabitant, unbeknownst to the husband and wife.