Chapter 24:

Princess Kaguya Announces Her Presence (Part 1)

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

It’s my sixth night working at the convenience store.Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

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“Welcome,”Bookmark here

Well, this is odd.Bookmark here

It’s 2 AM, and a group of five men have just trickled into the store.Bookmark here

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This is the first time I’ve ever seen so many people stop by at once.Bookmark here

They’re all dressed in kimono — and clearly on a mission. They take short, quick strides, scanning the shelves for something specific.Bookmark here

Huh. Now that I’m looking a little more closely, I can see that each one of them is holding a piece of paper.Bookmark here

“Ah, sir. A question, if I may.”Bookmark here

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One of them — a young man with his black hair stylishly swept back — calls out to me. The second he does, the rest of his entourage turns their focus on me.Bookmark here

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Whoa, dudes! Could you dial down the intensity a little?! It’s kind of freaking me out!  Bookmark here

“I am Prince Kuramochi. I was hoping that you might be able to point me in the direction of an object that I’m seeking.”Bookmark here

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With a polite bow and an apologetic expression, he lets me read the scrap of paper he has in his hands.Bookmark here

Oooh, this is kind of exciting. It says...Bookmark here

{sweet fruit sugared and shaped to form a scarred full moon}Bookmark here

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...And that’s it.Bookmark here

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“...Uh, I’m pretty sure we don’t carry anything like that here.”Bookmark here

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“Well, that can’t be. Princess Kaguya specifically stated this establishment.”Bookmark here

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The suave young man is resolved to not take no for an answer.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, his fellows all gather around the register, each clamoring to have their note read.Bookmark here

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“I don’t get this at all.”Bookmark here

“Can you lend me your aid in my quest?”Bookmark here

“Please, sir. I would very much like to discover what this treat tastes like.”Bookmark here

“But, what’s all this about sweet, scarred moons?”Bookmark here

“I MUST be the first to deliver Princess Kaguya the item she so desires.”  Bookmark here

They’re all talking over each other, and it’s just one loud, noisy mess. Ugh, shut up!Bookmark here

“Okay, just hold on a second. I’m not the great Prince Shotoku — I can’t make out a word of what you’re saying. Could you guys form a line, or something?”Bookmark here

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“I’m the youngest, so I should go first.”Bookmark here

“What are you talking about? Age trumps beauty.”Bookmark here

“I believe that I ought to be served presently.”Bookmark here

“You already asked your question, so head to the back of the line!”Bookmark here

“He hasn’t answered me yet, so it’s STILL my turn.”Bookmark here

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Oh, for the love of... Give it a rest, guys!Bookmark here

If you’re going to bicker, at least take it outside!!Bookmark here

I prop my elbows up on the counter, as I wait for this to blow over.Bookmark here

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“I’ve got it! This is a job for rock-paper-scissors!”Bookmark here

“Alright! Don’t think I’ll go easy on you guys!”Bookmark here

“No cheating, now!”Bookmark here

“Let’s settle this fair and square!”Bookmark here

“Hrmph. I’ll show you youngsters what true skill is.”Bookmark here

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The battle (?) ends with everyone calmly and good-naturedly accepting their place in line.Bookmark here

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The first one to the counter is a surprisingly handsome man in a blue kimono, with his long hair tied back in a ponytail.Bookmark here

“I, Prince Ishitsukuri, request your assistance in deciphering this riddle.”Bookmark here

His page reads...Bookmark here

{crispy pillars of a thousand flavors that dance in one’s mouth}Bookmark here

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“...Pillars? Sorry, I don’t think we sell anything that could be considered a piece of architecture.”Bookmark here

“You could’ve given that some more thought!”Bookmark here

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“At last, it is my turn! Here, feast your eyes on this!”Bookmark here

Prince Ishitsukuri is quickly shoved aside by a heavyset man in an orange kimono, who looks like he spends his days doing nothing but eating. And only his favorite foods, at that.  Bookmark here

“I am the honorable Abe, Minister of the Right. And I MUST obtain the object written here before any of the others.”  Bookmark here

He thrusts his note at me, which I look over.Bookmark here

{a bold, blue club made from mythical ice}Bookmark here

“Yeeeeah, we’re not an item shop. We don’t stock weaponry here.”Bookmark here

“I am perfectly aware of THAT! But surely it exists! Find it, I beseech you!”Bookmark here

Minister Abe grabs me by the lapels in way too fervent an appeal. Once I’ve managed to pry his hands from my uniform, he’s replaced by a brawny, bearded man wearing a red kimono. He smooths out his short hair in eager anticipation.Bookmark here

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“Sorry, I’m also looking for something. I tried to work it out on my own, but I’m stuck. Could you lend me a hand?”Bookmark here

Huh, this guy seems to be the most level-headed of the bunch.Bookmark here

This time, it’s:Bookmark here

{sparkling bubbles / fascinating drops of gold / drink the setting sun}Bookmark here

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“...Are you sure this is supposed to be a shopping list? It sounds more like a haiku.”Bookmark here

Oh my god, what the hell is this nonseeeense?!Bookmark here

Each request has been more ridiculous than the last, and I’m finding it harder to hide my increasing irritation.Bookmark here

“...Alright, let’s just get this over with.”Bookmark here

Last (and possibly least) is the youngest one of the group. He’s dressed in a more modern pink kimono, with his hair styled in a short, round bob. The scrap of paper he’s holding reads:Bookmark here

{the chronicles of wayward youths who find themselves in otherworldly situations}Bookmark here

“Okay, that’s TOTALLY the title of a light novel! GAH!!”Bookmark here

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“...I’m Middle Counselor Isonokami, by the way. *sigh* No matter how many texts I poured over; I couldn’t find the answer written anywhere.”Bookmark here

Counselor Isonokami’s shoulders slouch in defeat — which, really, is just a mirror image of everyone else in the store. We’re all curled up, pouring over these puzzling pieces of paper.  Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

“A single soul emerges from the depths of the evening shadows. ...Yes, it is I. I have arrived.”Bookmark here

An eccentric-looking young woman steps into the store, muttering what sounds like...narration?Bookmark here

“PRINCESS KAGUYA!!”Bookmark here

Huh?Bookmark here

Standing dramatically in between the automatic doors is a middle schooler wearing a black kimono that’s been cropped short and covered with frilly white lace. I guess it’s supposed to be like, Japanese-style gothic lolita? Anyways. Her black hair is done up in high pigtails, and she’s grinning with overwhelming confidence.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.