Monday, December 26, 2022 @

Chapter 36, Part 2

 First of all, in her defense, the girl was not supposed to be here... she was not supposed to be in this not-so-large bookstore located in a corner of the capital. She also would not have voluntarily come here with a women's haori and a hair ornament if she did not have to.
 Therefore, Murasaki told herself that morning that she had no choice. Yes, that's what she had told herself.
 ...It was only yesterday that she was released from house arrest for the incident in the underground tunnels, and after that, she immediately tried to do what she had been thinking about while she had been shut up at home.
 Immediately after she was released from house arrest, she ordered her maids to prepare herself. It was definitely not because of 'him' that she had put on the haori given to her by her father and brothers before, put on a hair ornament, and put on light makeup. It is true that on the way to Kizuki's house to complain in person, she thought it would be a good idea to visit him at least for a glance, but it has nothing to do with him. There is no, no, no relation at all. She thought.
 But just before she left the residence, she heard from one of the housemaids that her cousins were away from her residence because she had been invited to a garden party at a palace.
 Then, having no choice but to visit the man, she went to Oumi's house ignoring the voices of the maid, and asked the guide of the underground tunnels who was working at Kizuki. But somehow the man was not at work, about two hours ago. ...and she was stunned.
 After that, she wandered aimlessly through the streets of the capital for a while, and when she saw young men and women walking around the city in a friendly manner, she suddenly became angry, frustrated, annoyed, and for some reason, lonely. Then she thought of going back to the house, but she suddenly remembered the topic that the chatty maid had talked about during her house arrest.
 It was during the house arrest that when she suddenly started to look through the shelves of hair ornaments and clothes that had been left unattended, the maids started to talk about makeup and fashion, and one of them talked about a bookstore.
 At first glance, it looked like one of the ordinary book rental shops in the capital... but in fact, in the back, it was a place where people in high positions could get 'snobbish' books that were usually read by common people, and even noble people with hidden identities sometimes visited the store.
 Because she suddenly remembered such a story, Murasaki somehow wandered in there without any idea. She entered the store from the back of the bookstore as she had been told, and was shocked by what she saw.
 Usually, books read by court nobles, feudal lords, or families of exorcists... whatever the case may be, the books read by those in high positions are of appropriate contents. She, who had aspired to be an exorcist like her father and brothers, had hardly ever read the so-called stories that princesses usually read, and she did not think they were interesting. If she had to say so, she had read them to make a topic of conversation with her cousin... but her cousin only gave her appropriate replies, and she herself had forgotten the contents immediately because she had only forced herself to read them. But...
 "Oh, this one, the title is..."
 Suddenly, Murasaki pulled out one of the many books on the shelf and opened the page. It was what people might call a romance novel. The story is about a noblewoman and her servant who marry each other.
 To tell the truth, it was not a very honorable story in terms of common sense and morality in this country, just because it was a free love story with a difference in status. And if the man's status was lower than the woman's... the author seemed to be a commoner.
 The setting and the authorship of the story suggest that it was written by a lowly person with no poetry or mannerisms. A person of status would judge it as such even before reading it. After all, in this country, literature is valued only when it is written in style and form by noble and educated people, and anything outside of that is not appreciated, no matter how good it may be. At least on the surface.
 Of course, the general public is more vulgar and prefers purely interesting or eccentric content rather than formality, rhyme, and style, and not everyone, even those who are well-educated, is wholeheartedly in favor of formalistic literature. Even among those of status, not all of them are truly interested in formalistic works of art.
 In fact, Murasaki, who rarely read even formal romance novels for the nobility and had no interest in them, was not sure if she had any tolerance for this kind of literature.
 And so, after reading through the whole book in no time, Murasaki sighs deeply with a slightly flushed expression on her face, and her gaze naturally turns to the other books on the shelf, reaching out her slender white hand, her slender fingers tracing the titles that line the shelf in a tight line.
 ...if there was a problem, it would have been Murasaki's family environment and her own tastes so far. Murasaki was born into a family of men who did not realize that everyone in the family was a man until the maid told her.
 And with the few romance novels she had read, only those for nobles, there was no way she could have known the standards for the general content of entertainment books for commoner women. If anything, she was a little concerned about it herself, but she didn't have many friends and it never came up on the agenda of conversation.
 In other words, the point is that she was so absorbed in reading... that she didn't notice when she moved to the area of adult male-oriented books, and even if the contents were of that kind, she couldn't tell whether they were for men or for women. She couldn't judge, or rather, she couldn't notice it.
 "Huh...!? It's a lie, that kind of thing...!!?"
 Murasaki, who has started reading the sixth book, turns red, and her mouth trembles, but her eyes keep staring at the text and illustrations of the book. If someone had been here, he or she would have told her that what she was looking at, which she thought was a love story for women, was a kind of erotic novel for men. Unfortunately, no one pointed this out to her.
 "Ah... Huh...? Why did they do that...? Huh!!?"
 The two lovers of different statuses, who had been keeping their secret from everyone around them, finally, partly because of the sake they accidentally drank, could not resist their feelings for each other and had a romantic encounter... and when the scene commonly known as the 'wet scene' came into play, Murasaki was literally like a boiled octopus.
 "Hauuu... S-such a shameful thing. I-Is this what a commoner's girl is watching!? I-I can't believe it! What a vulgar...!?"
 If someone had pointed out that she herself kept staring at the book in her hand with devouring eyes while cursing the literature she was reading like that, she would have probably screamed and been upset. In reality, there is no such a person, and she continues to flip through the pages of the book, breathing hard. She gulps as she continues to read what the characters will do next.
 "Huh!? What!? Huhhhh...!? With such a mouth... it can't be. T-they're going to go that far? H-hauuuu... S-s-so hard......?"
 Murasaki, while mumbling to herself, was picturing the scene of the story in her mind with all her imagination, or rather her delusions. And before she knew it, the image of the girl in her mind had become her own. On the other hand, the boy is...
 "I-It's not that I have any other intention! Ah, t-that's right! I would never use my family, would I? But instead! No, that's all! That's the only reason...!"
 Murasaki speaks quickly, as if to herself, but also as if she is making excuses for someone who is not here. She shouts deceitfully. Once again, Murasaki's excitement is heightened as she thinks or fantasizes about the "meeting" between the two characters in the story.
 When the girl is pushed down on the bed by the lower-ranking boy, her usually strong-willed and domineering becomes quiet. On the other hand, the boy's usually reverent and gentle gaze glints in the dark room like an animal stalking its prey, and the girl shudders involuntarily. But... she does not resist.
 The girl's face turns red as her clothes are roughly pulled off and she is stripped half naked. Obviously, it was not only the alcohol that made her blush. The girl who was left to her own devices was looking up at him with a frightened, protective, but at the same time flirtatious gaze.
 The boy, also intoxicated by the liquor, responded to the latter part of her emotions with a cruel smile that he usually does not show. He grabbed the girl by the hair and pushed her head under the covers, forcing her to crawl on all fours.
 The girl looked at him with eyes moistened by the... rough treatment. But there was no word of reproach, only silence.
 At some point, the girl had assumed a posture in which her buttocks were thrust out, which was quite natural due to the structure of the human body. The lower half of her body was already exposed by him, not only her legs but also her thighs and the top of her thighs, exposing her soft, white, un-tanned skin. The boy whispered something in the ear of the girl who was supposed to be his master. At this whisper, the girl's eyes widened, but she gave a small nod. Then, the boy turned his abusive gaze on her and stretched out his thin but toned arms as if it were natural...
 "Hau... ha~a... ha~a... gulp..."
 Now, Murasaki, completely losing all sense of propriety and worldliness, sat down on the edge of the bookshelf in a small woman's sitting position and read the beginning of the story absorbedly. Her eyes moisten as she reads, and she exhales deeply and sweetly.
 She felt a tingle deep inside her body as her fantasy flashed through her mind. And Murasaki, without being taught by anyone, without any clear knowledge or intention, simply followed her instinct and reached her fingers to her inner thighs. And then...
 "...But where's the book in question? Hmm? Huh...? Whoa!?"
 The next moment, Murasaki is hit by a figure turns from the bookshelf, and falls to the floor. Boom! Thud! A sound is heard.
 "It's bad!?"
 At the same time, a voice echoed like a young man's. It sounded vaguely familiar, and for a moment Murasaki was distracted by it. But... soon there was no time to worry about that. The impact of their collision caused an avalanche of books on the bookshelf to come crashing down.
 If she was in training or fighting against youkai, she could have reacted, but she had been concentrating on reading (and fantasizing) until a few minutes ago. She hurriedly protected her head with her hand, and endured the pain she was about to experience. But...
 Murasaki opens her eyes in fear of the pain that will not come for a long time. There she sees a figure leaning over her, covering her...
 "Ouch, ouch... it's not my lucky day. Excuse me, are you hurt...? Huh?"
 Perhaps their gazes should have crossed. However... she did not realize at that time that she could not recognize his voice or appearance because of the cloak that inhibited her recognition. Nor did she realize that the person in front of her was clearly agitated when she recognized her face. The only thing she could tell...
 For now, all Murasaki knows is that for once in her life, she ruined her own underwear at the moment she met the person in front of her...
* * *
 There was silence in the room. One of them recognized the person whom he had met by chance, and because it was a chance encounter in such a place, and the other was confused by the physical changes that had occurred as well as by the person whom she had just met.
 There was a heavy silence... The first one to move was the girl with purple-colored hair who was lying on the floor. However, it was not from a calm thought, but rather from an extreme state of confusion.
 A small, almost inarticulate scream came out, but it was not because of fear of the person who was covering her eyes. Murasaki is indeed a small girl, but her spiritual power and martial arts ability, though inferior to her parents and siblings, are enough to beat most men to death in the worst case.
 Therefore, the reason she screamed was not fear of her opponent, but rather of herself.
 "E-Excuse me!? I'll be out of the way now...!"
 However, it is impossible to expect the other party to notice this. The cloaked person jumps out of the way as if he or she were jumping out of the way of the red-faced Murasaki, who screamed with tears forming around her eyes. But Murasaki does not hear such words now. Her thoughts were completely confused and chaotic. In short, she was in despair.
 Yes, she was in despair. She was ashamed of her own shallowness, disgust, and lewdness, and more than that, she was shocked that her body reacted like a rabbit in heat to a man other than 'him', a man she had just met, a man she had no idea where he came from, and then she was confused, and finally, she was filled with guilt.
 "Hwehh!? W-w-what am I...!!?"
 Thinking about this, Murasaki's mind wandered to the reason why she felt this way, and she became even more confused. Naturally, she is ashamed of herself for having a passion for a complete stranger. But why does she feel guilty? And for whom...?
 "Hey, are you all right...?"
 Murasaki held her head in her hands and groaned. She replied hurriedly to the young man who called out to her, which caused her to almost scream.
 "Uh, umm... What in the world... hmm? This is..."
 "Hhm? Aaaaahhh!!?"
 The young man, who was getting more and more puzzled, noticed the presence of the book in Murasaki's hand in the next moment.
 She let out a strange scream when he saw that the book she had just been devouring was in her hand. It was a book with vividly colored illustrations, of all things.
 On the other hand, having a crush on a complete stranger, and having him know the contents of the book she was reading, Murasaki's pride had been shredded to tatters in such a short period of time.
 "Aaahhh... Sob... Uuuu... Ueeeee...!?"
 Murasaki has tears around her eyes. Or rather, she was half crying. There is no pride. If she had had a sword at hand, she would have committed seppuku on impulse. That's how ashamed she was of her own pettiness, misery, and shallowness.
 "Uh, uhhh...!? Huh, really? Why!? Why is this event happening at this time...?"
 On the other hand, the other party also seemed to be in a state of confusion. Looking at Murasaki who sat on the floor and started to cry, he was frightened and said something to her. He seemed to be wondering why Murasaki was here. It was as if he was convinced that it was impossible... but he didn't have time to spend any more time and thought about the girl in front of him. Because...
 "...Tomobe-san, what are you doing?"
 A moment later, a voice, as cold, as swarthy, and as angry as ever, echoed through the room.
 It wasn't loud, but it left a lasting impression, and the man turned around with his face drawn back in the direction of the voice.
 There was a girl with a cold, disappointed look on her face.
 "...Yuzu, this is not what it looks like. First of all, it's not."
 "Your reply is strange. Tomobe-san would have answered more calmly, wouldn't he?"
 With a smirk, the girl, who wears Ichimegasa, tilts her head slightly and says her question. Her tone was polite, but her eyes and expression were cold.
 "There is no such thing. I haven't done anything to be accused of anything."
 "But that person covered by you."
 "...it was an accident."
 "Then why is she crying?"
 "....that's enough."
 "Miss Kayo...!?"
 With a shiver of anger in her voice, the girl, who wears Ichimegasa, turned on her heel. She walks away, her feet clattering furiously. Then, as if in a panic, a person wearing a cloak follows her. The two disappear around the corner from the bookshelf.
 "...Huh? Tomobe-san? Eh!? No, no way!!? That servant... no way!!?"
 At the same time, Murasaki belatedly recognizes the blonde girl's words. She vaguely understands the current situation and stands up, her face turning blue. She has noticed the word that the girl has just uttered has a familiar proper name. And from the little information she has, she immediately comes up with the worst possible answer that is as close to the truth as possible. Although, in this case, it might have been better not to notice it...
 "No, no, n-no, it's not like that!! That's not right!! I mean, it's a misunderstanding!! In the first place... Who's that girl!!?"
 Murasaki tries to follow him, but she doesn't know what to say after she follows him, and just shouts to herself. But it turned out to be a mistake. Because...
 "Hey... wait a minute!!"
 "I don't care!! I don't want to stop! I don't want to see you! Don't follow me...—Huh? Aaaah!!?"
 "...!? Kayo!? Ggh!!?"
 Suddenly, two screams came from behind a bookshelf.
 Murasaki, sensing from their screams that something had happened, opened her eyes and hurried after them. She turns the corner of the bookshelf where they disappeared. Then she sees...
 "Eh...? This is...?"
 Then Murasaki sees only Ichimegasa lying on the floor of the bookstore, and blood splattered on the bookshelf...
New Year's Day 2021 Illustration: here
Short Manga Collection of Pop team epic: here
Illustration of Matsushige Botan's character: here

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