Wortenia Senki (LN) - Volume 4 - Chapter Pr

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As the sun was about to dip below the horizon, a single old man stood on the lawn of an old-style estate built in Tokyo’s Suginami ward. 

He’s still at it... 

After admitting their unexpected guests to the living room, Asuka’s eyes settled on the figure of her granduncle, who was practicing his sword swings. The twilight rays reflected off the two drawn blades he held in each hand. 

Flowing motions. It was the kind of practice done by following a specific form exactly as prescribed. The sight played out before Asuka like a play or a dance. There was something of a refined grace to it, a beauty that would strike awe into the hearts of any who viewed it. 

But as if to contrast with that grace, the severity of that training was unimaginable. Repeatedly swinging a heavy katana at a fixed speed, with the blade never once shifting, bordered on the impossible with normal muscle strength. Any sluggish movements that would kill the swings’ momentum would have called his skill into question. 

And on top of that, he wielded two heavy and real katanas. Swinging even one with both hands took a great deal of effort, so holding and handling two swords separately of each other only made the difficulty of his feat that much greater. 

It was a training method that differed in purpose from the kind of training that lasted from dawn to nightfall. His movements may have seemed simple to the uninitiated, but the mental and physical strain they brought at least matched, if not exceeded, anything caused by prolonged training. 

And Kouichiro had been training like that for over an hour. 

Look at all that sweat... He’s been spending more time training than he did before Ryoma disappeared. 

The calendar marked the end of summer and the coming of autumn, making it a more or less pleasant season. But due to the unusual weather patterns of late, that day was hot and humid, making it one of the days when one would be particularly thankful for the graceful protection of their air conditioner. 

And despite that, sweat was pouring from Kouichiro’s body like a waterfall, and Asuka thought she could see something like white steam rising from his body — but none of that could be attributed to the weather. 

It had now been several months since Ryoma Mikoshiba disappeared without a trace from his high school, and Kouichiro’s daily training had only seemed to increase in intensity since then. 

Asuka perfectly understood his sorrow at having lost his beloved grandson, of course. And yet... 

It feels like that’s not the only reason. It’s like he’s trying to bottle something up... It’s like... Yeah, it’s like he knows why Ryoma disappeared... 

Ever since she was an infant, Asuka would often accompany her mother and grandmother to this estate, and her relationship with Kouichiro went beyond merely distant relatives. Put simply, they saw each other as close family. 

And it was all the more so because after she grew older, she paid Kouichiro and Ryoma — two men living together — daily visits, helping them with laundry and other chores. 

It came across in how Asuka and Kouichiro referred to each other, too. Asuka’s grandfather passed away when she was young, and so her granduncle ended up assuming that role for her, even if the word did usually signify one’s formal relation to another family member. 

But even as close as they were, it was doubtful the two of them perfectly understood each other. 

Maybe I don’t really know what’s going on in Grandpa’s heart... 

For Asuka Kiryuu, Kouichiro Mikoshiba was a truly exceptional presence. The Mikoshiba family was a fundamentally affluent household. Apparently they were descended from the bloodline of the retainers of some daimyo from a certain domain, or perhaps even the daimyo himself. 

Owing to that relation, they owned an estate with a large garden in one of Tokyo’s twenty-three wards, the building itself housing many precious items: dozens of Japanese katanas and an abundance of objects that could very well be considered national treasures and important cultural assets. 

The estate also housed urns and tea bowls that could be traced back to the historical Sen no Riky?, as well as hanging scrolls and folding screens that would leave any person interested in old works of art positively salivating. 

Selling even one of these could fetch anywhere from several million to tens of millions of yen, and doing so would easily allow for one to live in luxury if they so desired; wear the finest clothes, and feast on the most exquisite of food. 

If Kouichiro so desired, he could buy a villa or a yacht and spend the rest of his days eating in high-class restaurants. He could dress in designer clothes and exchange wristwatches that cost millions of yen each with the same frivolousness one changes a necktie with. 

The same held true for housework. Kouichiro was indeed unfamiliar with chores and cleaning, but with the Mikoshiba household’s financial condition, there was no need for him to bother himself with that. Putting aside the somewhat unrealistic options of a French maid or butler, hiring a housekeeper would have been perfectly possible. 

But Kouichiro chose to live quietly and frugally. 

When he left the house, he only went as far as the nearby shopping district. He never traveled abroad, nor did he have any hobbies to spend his money on. 

The only luxury he indulged in, to Asuka’s knowledge, was that he enjoyed famous local brands of sake every day, and even that only added up to a few tens of thousands of yen per month. 

At the crack of dawn he would go straight to training, and come noon he would shut himself off in his room to read. In the evening he would entertain himself by playing go or shogi on his own, and after dinner he would go back to training. 

He lead a life devoid of desire or vanity. 

Looking at just the surface, the words “quiet retirement” may feel quite fitting to describe his life. 

But... That can’t be it. After all... 

Though he lived as a recluse, in no way did Kouichiro reject this world. His attitude and way of thinking towards training made that clear. The intensity may have seemed fanatical at first sight, but he also had a thirst for knowledge that drove him to consume specialized books and manuals revolving around topics like politics, economics and military tactics. 

With all of those taken into consideration, Kouichiro didn’t give the impression of a reclusive old man. 

If I had to say... It feels like he’s working himself to the bone for some purpose. 

The story of a historical manga she read the other day, based off the Chinese Historical Records, surfaced in Asuka’s mind. A prince whose parents were killed used his thirst for revenge as his source of motivation, building up his national power. 

Of course, Asuka didn’t assume Kouichiro was plotting revenge on someone. The image that felt closer was one of a samurai dreaming of the day his household’s honor would be restored. 

Ah... Oh, silly me. I spent too much time staring at Grandpa’s training when the detectives are waiting... 

Asuka’s mind returned to the detectives waiting in the living room. 

The area the Mikoshiba household’s estate stood in fell under the jurisdiction of Suginami’s central police station, and these detectives were affiliated with the station’s Community Safety Department. 

Put more simply, they were officers that belonged to the department that dealt with juvenile crimes. 

Recalling that made a certain doubt spring up in Asuka’s mind. 

Speaking of, Grandpa didn’t call the police immediately when Ryoma disappeared... He didn’t exactly stop Mom and the others from calling instead, but... 

No matter how graced he was with athletic ability and how mature he was, Asuka’s beloved cousin was still just a normal high-schooler, and regardless of what Ryoma himself may think, he was still a minor for all the country’s law was concerned. 

There were some cases of people being indifferent at a child running away from home, especially in repeated cases, but Ryoma had never left the house without permission before. In which case, Asuka thought, it would only be natural for his relatives to immediately report his absence to the police and ask that they search for him. 

I understand why he waited the first night after the school reported Ryoma was gone, but even after that, Grandpa didn’t contact the police... How come? 

It wouldn’t be odd for an onlooker to think Kouichiro was exceptionally cold and distant from his grandson, but Asuka knew full well that he raised Ryoma with love, and that made her granduncle’s behavior all the more incomprehensible. 

Even if one were to compromise and claim he had simply trusted Ryoma that deeply, there was no way he wouldn’t be concerned for his grandson when he’d been missing for nearly six months. 

If anything, Asuka interpreted Kouichiro’s increased training and the fact that he hadn’t eaten dinner much lately as proof of his irritation and anxiety at Ryoma’s absence. She was, in fact, very convinced of that. There was no way he wasn’t worried, and that was why Kouichiro’s indifference towards asking the police to search for Ryoma felt all the more unnatural. 

He never said anything in particular about not liking the police, either... 

The first thing one would do when a relative went missing would be to ask the police to search for them. Japan was a country of the law, for better or worse, with 250,000 officials staffing posts all across the country. Of course, that didn’t mean every single one of them would take part in the search, but even a child would know that still yielded better chances than one individual searching all on their own. 

There were still people out there that didn’t rely on the police, for all sorts of reasons and circumstances. But the Mikoshiba household didn’t dabble in any shady dealings, as far as Asuka knew, and even if Kouichiro had his own reasons to dislike the police, he could still hire a private investigator to look into it. 

Perhaps things would be different if he faced financial troubles, but it would do nothing to put a dent in the fortune their relatives eyed like starving hyenas. 

He acts like he knows searching for him is pointless... Grandpa definitely knows something... And whatever it is, he’s hiding it. 

He couldn’t or wouldn’t say it, but whatever the truth was, Kouichiro held it. 

“Grandpa, some detectives showed up. They said they have something to discuss...” Asuka parted her lips to speak, silencing the doubt surfacing in her heart. 

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