CHAPTER 1: PART 3(A)
The moment we set foot into the woods, we were struck by the lush and overgrown greenery around us. It was much better that we avoided the direct sunlight that hit us on the beach, but still, the dampness and humidity made the heat unbearable. Suddenly, I feel a rush of coolness in the back of my neck, like a fan flapping…. I had the feeling that this mission was about to fail.
It’s, hot, it’s hot and as I am thinking about it, it’s getting even hotter. I have to talk to someone, here so as to divert my mind, even for a little.
“Ah! Beautiful! To be able to walk calmly surrounded by nature! This is just perfect…. The ultimate beauty!”
It’s hopeless. I cannot have a proper conversation with him, now. Actually, there is nobody around that I can have a substantial conversation with.
“This is remarkable!”
I thought that I heard just fragments of a voice behind me, as Sakura leapt beside me.
“You said that you wanted one more person, so I raised my hand. There are a lot of things that I can help with”
“When the team said they needed another one member and I raised my hand.. You thought she is not ready to do it”
“I did not think anything in particular, really, not at all… why are you bringing this up, now? It is somehow confusing”
Sakura is a docile character, but somehow she did not seem to back out from this conversation. When we began this trip as a school trip, she seemed to be rather passive. I thought that Sakura would excuse herself, but although her shyness was apparent, we continued walking side by side.
Walking from the beach towards the woods, in other words, to move towards the inner part of the island, suddenly steals away a lot of our stamina. This is not a simple, convenient route, it gets a lot worse and cranky on the road. It looks like walking on a long winding hill road.
“So, why did you raise your hand in order to participate in a troublesome exploration of the woods?”
“Well…. Because there are a large number of people in the camp, I feel uncomfortable”
“I really do not understand your feeling, even when there are few people, still it is not enjoyable”
Now, it looks like it is the time to talk to someone, even If I become a little unpleasant.
“But…. Ayanokouji, you raised your hand, too, after all”.
Sakura raised her head and made a happy face, then looking rather confused, made gestures with her hands and protested in a loud voice.
“It’s not that…. It’s not like that! It’s just that there are not many people that I can talk to, that’s what I mean”
Sakura kept denying with fervor while walking in a hurry when…
“Hey!… Be careful!”
As she was talking to me looking back and forth, her foot was grabbed by a root from a large tree, causing her to fall backwards. Hurriedly I reached with my hands to grab her, but I ended up not being in time.
“Are you alright?”
“ Erm… It hurts a little”
Thankfully, she landed on her hands rather on her bottom, it was careless but not something serious.
“If you do not walk carefully in the woods, you might get hurt, hey now, hold my hand”
“Ah… Thank you”
Without any more excuses Sakura offered her hand but then she realised it was dirty by her fall, she drew it back. Ignoring this, I grabbed her hand, anyway, holding it tenderly.
“I’m…. I’m sorry”
“It is not like you have to apologise over something like this”
Thoughtfully, I brushed off the soil from Sakura’s hands. Anyway, this forest, it looks like it is the first time that people have set foot in this place. In the beginning I thought we had a level of direction walking in the woods. But, now I feel like this was a wrong guess.
First and foremost, we cannot always walk straightforward. We should be climbing to overcome natural obstacles. By all means, following a compulsory route that does not change we go no left or right . This situation continues for many more minutes, I feel like I am forgetting myself, which route we were supposed to take. The vanguard keeps pushing forward to a degree that I can barely see Kouenji, anymore.
However, Sakura does not seem that she wants to keep going, staring hazily at my left hand, where I held her.
“Sakura! We have to hurry up a little”
“Eh?! Uh, yeah!”
Confused by my sudden remark, she started running. I guess it cannot be helped again….
“He sure walks fast, that Kouenji”.
Kouenji without thinking at all, about the pace of a girl, he kept walking deeper into the forest. Ignoring that he leads us steadily into unfamiliar territory. On an unknown path, there is nothing to do but rely on our feet and stamina and admire the obedience.
“Nevertheless, he would never….”
“What’s the matter?”
What is the meaning of this. Is this a coincidence? No! There is no hesitation in Kouenji’s pace. For example, we chose the place for our base camp in discretion for the sake of the whole team. How is it normal for someone to walk straight forward without looking left or right in unfamiliar territory?. It is like that Kouenji has a pretty clear aim on his mind. Above all the quick progress on the route surprised me. There is a chance that Kouenji just not push forward blindly.
“I will turn my ideals into a path” So I do not get lost willingly.
But there is a problem here. I have to accompany Sakura into matching Kouenji’s pace, so I take a deep breath and move forward.
“Hey Kouenji! Don’t you think we’ve come too far away from our base?, We might get lost out here!”
Sakura looked both my way and Kouenji’s looking concerned as I called out to him. Kouenji’s silhouette stopped and turned our way to face us, as he fixed a strand of his hair.
“I am a genius with the perfect physical ability, there is no way that I will get us lost in a forest of this size. If anything might happen to you that’s because you might have lost sight of me and then let’s be honest, it would be better if you’d give up”
As I would expect of him, maybe with the exception of myself to make a declaration as a man. The situation around here is not entertaining at all.
“I would like to ask you, ordinary people, don’t you think that this is truly beautiful?”
Thinking that he showed us of his perfect nature as always, Kouenji flashed us a daring smile, asking us that question.
“Well…. It is only natural for the forest to be a mysterious place, although, I mostly feel that it is beautiful”
More or less this is how I felt and tried to transmit it. However, Kouenji did not expect this kind of reply, feeling a little disappointed he took a deep breath.
“What are you talking about? This is not what I asked you about! Having a perfect physical condition, myself, I can shine beautifully in this place. You do not understand?
So when you have a perfect body physique, you have to make self proclamation remarks about your body abilities.. Ah, you are right, then. I do not understand.
“Blame it on the heat, it makes the head feel weird…… do not mind that, Sakura”
“Uh, yes, it’s ok because Kouenji has been acting weird from the start”
Oh! Even though that is the truth, to say such a severe thing so easily, seriously this kid…
Kouenji decided to test my physical capabilities some other time, so he turned his back and continued walking. From this point onwards I should not fuss over advices or wishes.
“There is no need to worry, whatever happens in this forest more or less there won’t be any problem”
“Kouenji, what is the meaning of this?”
“I cannot call this a natural forest. At least during daytime, the chances of getting lost while wandering around are pretty low. For this very reason, there is a certain level of curiosity”
He left the conversation hanging with significant words. Kouenji, having lost his interest in us some time ago has started walking again at a quick pace. In a quick pace that Sakura could not follow.
“Well.. Ermmm. I am feeling better, so I will try my best to continue”
Sakura while sweating, decided to show that she has guts and raised a fist pump. It kind of draws a feeling that it is quite dangerous.
The worst thing is Kouenji’s resolution, but Sakura starting from now on, putting aside her wishes to endure, followed Kouenji’s pace. Sometimes the figure became too shabby, it is dangerous, but we have to persevere on our own determination for both of our sakes. I do not mind this kind of a painful effort, but Kouenji keeps stubbornly pushing forward. Even though I thought that we would not stop unless we get out of the woods, suddenly he stopped in front of my eyes and turned his head towards this way, pulling his hair upwards with a fearless smile.
“Can I give a question to you ordinary people?”
Then, before we even get to reply, Kouenji, continued
“Won’t you let me hear you of what do you think of this place? What kind of feeling do you get when looking at this around you?”
“Eh? What.. What is the meaning of this question, Ayanokouji?” Suddenly Kouenji’s sharp glance got hidden by Sakura’s back as she came closer to listen.
What feeling this place is giving me? Let me see the surroundings, look around the area, first. However, there is nothing anything really odd about this place. It looks like an ordinary forest. Purposely trying to get some kind of confirmation, what is that he is trying to do.
“I understand clearly, do not worry, ordinary people will just remain ordinary”
Again, not getting a reply Kouenji once again turned his back and continue his pace into the forest.
“Did I do something… odd?”
There’s really no end if you start taking into consideration of Kouenji’s remarks. He is a man of many lies. But he is still in denial of the possibility that we cannot see what he sees in this place and there is no time for us to search this place at ease. Kouenji once again picked up his pace.
“Sakura do you have a handkerchief?”
“Ah! Yes, I have”
As I would expect from a girl, she prepared handy things.
“Is it ok with you, to lend it to me? It may get dirty.”
“It is perfectly ok….”
As she said this without any objections, Sakura gave me her handkerchief.
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