Chapter 10:

Linger

Densetsu: A Beautiful Day


Mimi’s story lingered in his thoughts. Even during the passing hour, he took every opportunity to stare at Mimi in fascination.

By the end of school, he walked the eerie suburban roads with Rocky.

Rocky’s eyes squinted, followed by his grin. “Do I need to tell Mimi you’re checking her out?”

“I was—”

“The way you kept looking at her. It’s kinda creepy, ya know that?”

Kotaro dropped his head, but Rocky patted him by the shoulders.

“It’s okay, though. You got Noel! She’s been doing the exact same thing as you are with Mimi!”

Kotaro stopped his tracks. He turned around.

“Is it me or does it feel like someone is following us?”

“Must be your imagination, Koty.”

Piles of pine needles planted on their previous footsteps caught his attention. He could sense the abnormality.

“Then, look at this.”

Rocky turned around to see the pine needles, and he impersonated a ghost.

“SpOoky ghosts! There’s literally a pine tree—”

Their heads raised, only to see the sky. They had already passed a crowd of pine trees.

“Above us…”

They briefly stayed silent.

“Yeah, someone’s following us,”

The two immediately bolted, their breaths synced, keeping pace with each other, and fear drenched into their minds.

Their meaningless run had come to an end when Rocky tripped on ice. Even worse, he may have twisted his ankle.

Kotaro didn’t hesitate to pick him up. And they continued their run.

Abnormality struck reality as a rift opened beneath the snow. Giggles filled the eerie road. He watched them flee for their lives when it was merely trickery.

“Isn’t this a little too cruel?” commented Noel.

“What? You didn’t find that funny?”

Their silhouettes drifted into the horizons. She could only sigh in disappointment.

They watched and waited. Until the two friends parted ways. The trickster had more in his sleeves.

Heavy footsteps followed the young man, yet he saw no one—nor any footprints. Snowballs were thrown near him. Then a trail of butterflies emerged from the ground.

It surrounded Kotaro until his sight was nothing but the insects. They were forced to reveal themselves, exiting from one of the portals.

“This isn’t exactly what I planned for.”

Yuuki snapped his finger. The butterflies dispersed into dust.

“Good afternoon, Koty.”

He raised his brows, but his surprised expression turned to annoyance.

“It was you who was behind those pranks.”

“I just came to say ‘hello’. I can’t do that?”

Noel rolled her eyes.

Revitalization had come for the fallen insects. Their size grew: expanded wings, antennas, and abdomen. They went into a formation until they transitioned into cherry blossom petals.

“You’re making a grand entrance for the outsider, I see…” commented Yuuki.

Winter’s breath brought forth a faint gust, interrupting petal ritual. Or it would seem.

A white, silk veil hid her face. Her entire body was transparent even when dressed in a pastel blue kimono. And her pink hair swayed by the wind.

She approached Kotaro, her elevating sandals creating an instinct capriccio. Particles forged each footstep she made, mainly butterflies.

Personal space was invaded, so Kotaro took a few steps back. She revealed her beauty. Her maroon eyes enticed him.

“So you’re Kotaro Nishiki?”

“T-That’s me!”

She stepped back and pondered. “Hm, where have I heard that name before?”

Her response caught his attention. His curiosity grew, and so did his desires. Despite all this, he couldn’t recall this woman’s face.

“That’s right! I remember it!”

Kotaro awaited the answer; Noel shared the same curiosity. Yuuki was indifferent.

“Kotaro Fuma! Wait…you are Kotaro Fuma, right?”

“My name is Kotaro Nishiki.”

“Kotaro Nishiki…” she pondered again. “Where have I heard that name before?”

Confusion filled the atmosphere, and all anticipation died down.

“That’s right! Kotaro F—”

Yuuki smacked the pale lady in the head. “This is Miharu Sakura. Like me, she’s one of the Legends of Densetsu.”

“You’re so mean, Yuuki! I was trying to make new friends!” whimpered the pale lady.

“Legends?”

“That’s right. You’ve been hearing that, yet you haven't a clue what we are.” said Yuuki.

Miharu covered her face with a paper fan. “The Legends are a group of individuals who transcended normal godhood with the ability to manipulate the very fabric of—ow! What was that for?”

“That sounds nothing like me.”

She flailed her arms. “That does sound like you! You always say things that don’t make sense.”

“So you guys are gods?”

The two Legends stared at the outsider.

“That’s right.”

“Master, do you remember what you came here for?” reminded Noel.

“I was getting there until Miharu came out of nowhere.”

“If I recall, you were busy playing pranks…” Noel murmured.

Yuuki harrumphed. “It has come to my attention that you discovered Densetsu not by chance.”

“What do you mean?”

A staring contest commenced. “You want to know, don’t you?”

Kotaro’s eyes widened. Silence…

“You can remain here and forget everything about Densetsu. We will not bother you. Or, you can come with us and rediscover your past self. Your choice…”

The choices were tempting. How would things change if I never entered that alley?

Riku appeared in his thoughts, recalling the time she saved his life. Her words of wisdom passed down to him. New faces he met who carried memories of his forgotten self. He hated to admit it, but he knew what needed to be done.