Chapter 65 – Request Order
My breath turns pure white.
During this season when adults pile on warm clothing, children are running around the playground in just their gym clothes.
Children’s bodies that don’t lose to the cold are amazing.
As an adult inside, I would like to spend my time warmly in a room with heating, but that’s not an option.
“After you finish one lap, come to the teacher. Hey, you there, line up properly!”
At the kindergarten I attend, a marathon is held from the time of arrival to the morning assembly as a winter-only event so that children can improve their physical fitness.
When you circle the small playground, the teacher stamps the back of one’s hand.
“Here’s your stamp. Hijiri-kun, you’re doing great!”
There are already 40 stamps on my hand.
Compared to my previous life’s body, my current hand is small and there is hardly any space left to stamp.
It can be said that it is a natural result if those who regularly use Body Strengthening are running seriously.
“Hijiri is amazing!”
“We got left behind again…”
I know it’s childish, but there are people who are happy when I run seriously, so I have no choice but to do my best.
The stamps we collect are tallied up and for every 100 laps, the teacher gives out a handmade medal (made of thick paper).
When I brought the medal home, my parents were more delighted than I was.
“He also came in first place in the track and field race at the sports festival, so Hijiri seems to have a talent for running.”
“Having fast legs is related to a survival rate. That’s a good thing.”
Furthermore, during the weekly video call, my grandmother, who saw the medal, said this:
“Well done! I’m looking forward to Hijiri’s future. I also have to do my best with my treatment.”
If she says it like that, I have no choice but to do my best!
When I was hospitalized in my previous life, I had a thought, “For what purpose am I living?”
If I had relatives, it would be for their sake.
If I had a reason to live, I could have used it as a source of strength.
In reality, humans don’t need a reason to live, but when they are afflicted by illness, they become unable to endure it without a reason.
By the way, I couldn’t endure it without a reason.
Conversely, with a reason, you can overcome illness.
Examples include surviving risky surgeries or performing miracles in rehabilitation, which are often featured on TV.
Actually, a hospitalized patient who was older and more seriously ill than me said “I will see my grandchildren,” and they really recovered.
If my grandmother’s life can be extended by me running a marathon, I am willing to run as much as I can.
I was able to run 3,500 laps last year, so I want to show her the 5,000-lap commemorative medal this year.
My stride has also widened considerably in a year, so I think I can do it if I keep going like this.
“Is it about time?”
Around the time the back of both of my hands were covered in stamps, the person I was waiting for arrived at the schoolyard.
“Good morning, Mamoru-kun.”
Mamoru-kun joined the marathon with a gloomy expression and I ran alongside him. He was not good at sports and tended to arrive at kindergarten late during winter to avoid the marathon.
As an indoor person, I can understand his behavior.
While matching his pace, I quickly got to the point before he runs out of breath.
“Can I come over to your house someday, Mamoru-kun?”
What? Was it a lie?
Has the friendship that I have been cultivating for over a year been one-sided all along?
But that couldn’t be true, could it? Maybe it was for a reason similar to why people couldn’t come over to my house.
“Why not? Did your mom say so?”
“Yeah. Dad too.”
If both parents say it’s not allowed, then it’s probably the household policy, just like at my house. I wonder if his father, a politician, has confidential documents in his study. Or maybe he carefully chooses who he associates with as part of his political image strategy.
As I was guessing about Mamoru’s family situation, Mamoru, who was holding his side, continued to speak.
“Dad said we have to do a purification.”(T/N – Should I use purification or exorcism?)
Purification – a term familiar to modern Onmyojis with expanded business. However, for ordinary people, it’s something distant, something they might only remember during their unlucky years.
So, I never thought Mamoru would say that word. I wonder if this means something, or maybe not?
Excited by this unexpected turn of events, I asked him to tell me more about it.
The time to go home has come.
Mothers who came to pick up their children formed a line at the entrance, and the waiting preschoolers in the vicinity were anxiously waiting to see if their own mothers had arrived.
Usually, I would watch over them with a smile from the perspective of a guardian, but today, I was fidgeting with them.
Oh, as expected from my mother, she came to pick me up early as usual.
“Hijiri was a good boy today too. He took care of his friends and did his best in the marathon.”
“That’s good to hear. Please take care of him again tomorrow, teacher.”
While I was changing my shoes, the adults were debriefing to each other as usual. It’s always uncomfortable when they talk about me in front of me.
“Where is Yuya?”
“I picked him up first, and he’s playing with the playground equipment now.”
Looking towards the schoolyard, I could see my younger brother playing on the jungle gym with his friends. He’ll probably be absorbed in playing for a while, so it should be just fine to go pick him up after we finish our business.
Together with my mother, we quickly found the person we were looking for.
“Yes? Oh, it’s Kyobe-san. Hello.”
Mamoru’s mother is a beautiful woman, as expected of someone who caught a high-spec husband. Of course, she’s not as good as my mother. She’s a little older than my mother, but she shares with us helpful stories as a senior mother. I feel a certain affinity with her, perhaps because Mamoru takes after his mother.
I can’t let anyone hear this conversation that is about to take place now.
We moved to a gate with relatively few people, and I immediately made a request.
“May I visit Mamoru-kun’s house?”
Although I asked, I already knew Mamoru-kun’s mom’s answer.
“You want to play at our house with Mamoru? It’s admirable that you can make a firm request, but I’m sorry, that is not possible currently.”
I already heard the circumstances from Mamoru-kun, so this was the expected response.
And this was just a preamble to lead the conversation in a certain direction.
“Please don’t worry about it. Our house is also not allowed to host any friends because of my husband’s request.”
“No, it’s not like that. You are welcome to visit in a month or so…”
The conversation between the mothers progressed.
My mother who sensed something disconcerting couldn’t leave Mamoru-kun’s mom’s troubles unattended, as she is the one that usually takes care of her. She skillfully extracted the information without me needing to touch on the core issue.
“We have a little housing problem. The house is unsafe, so we are staying at a hotel today.”
“Could it be that a water pipe burst? Or maybe the pillars were eaten away by termites? Or did you receive a threatening letter from a neighbor?”
Mom, that’s from the variety show we watched yesterday. That is scary in its own way too. However, this time, the problem is in our family realm.
“The picture moved…right?”
“Mamoru, did you talk about it?”
Feeling guilty at his mother’s troubled voice, Mamoru lowered his head.
No, it’s my fault for prying it out forcefully. Don’t get angry with Mamoru.
To change the mood, I got to the point.
“If Mamoru’s mother knows about the Onmyoji Agency, how about utilizing the Kyobe family before contacting the Kanto Onmyoji Association?”
It took a while for Mamoru’s mother to understand the words she had just heard.
That’s understandable, as a kindergarten kid suddenly gave a business offer.
I had a reason for making a non-childish move like giving a business offer.
When I once asked Dad, “I want to help with the Onmyoji work at your workplace,” he said.
“It is impossible for me to take you to my workplace. However, when a simple request for exorcising Yōkai comes up in the neighborhood, if the client allows it, I can bring you along.”
This condition seems loose, but it’s actually quite strict.
First, there are no Yōkai occurrences in the neighborhood. It seems that this area that is the size of one school district has become a sanctuary thanks to the miracle of Goddess Chioharu no Fuai.
The impurities that cause Yōkai occurrences are purified within the sanctuary.
For about a year, there have been no requests within the neighborhood.
Second, my father has very few days off. He works on weekdays and sometimes doesn’t come home on weekends. As there is a risk of human-made disasters in exorcisms, we can only hope that requests come conveniently on weekends.
Lastly, it is hard to get a permission for me to accompany my father. The client is afraid of supernatural phenomena. There are few people who would readily give permission for someone to take a kindergarten child to such a place.
This case is perfect to fulfill these preconditions. The expected Yōkai is extremely weak, and if it’s also someone I know, the timing of the request can be manipulated.
It’s only reasonable that I accompany my father for the job that we received through my introduction.
Since being reincarnated, I have studied Onmyojutsu extensively. Classroom lectures are important, but ultimately practical experience is the best way to learn, just like in card games or work. I want to gain practical experience already.
…To be honest, this maybe isn’t anything more than a boy’s blood boiling after I was watching my father exorcise Oni.
“If you send a request to the Onmyoji Agency or the Kanto Onmyoji Association, you will be asked to submit a situation report at the time of Yōkai discovery, a request order, and even write a report and give a pledge after the exorcism is done. If you send a request to the Kyobe family, we can handle all the procedures! Moreover, my father belongs to a team that receives requests from the government, and his skills are top-notch. Since he happens to have this weekend off, we can solve your problem right away. How about it!”
After saying all that, I realized.
This is what it feels like when an otaku talks fast about their hobbies.
But what’s done is done. Let’s see how the client will respond.
“Well then, shall we ask for the Kyobe family’s help?”
With a slightly wry smile, Mamoru’s mom said that. It seems like my enthusiasm had come across.
Maybe I’m suited for a career as a salesman specializing in Onmyoji.
And so, the first job of an Onmyoji apprentice Kyobe Hijiri was secured.