Anyway, here's a question for you readers: Would you like to have Maria as your younger sister?
Translators: Kurosmith & Kalkin
Proofreaders: Kalkin + imoutolicious
Seaside raging with the tidal waves. Seagulls flying against the cloudless sky. A lighthouse of pure white standing resolute not far away.
Marseille, the port city of France.
Located not too far away from there is an artificial island that Illuminati Foundation Academy is located in.
“Still, I can’t believe we’re commuting to school by helicopter, hmm…”
What’s even more surprising is the fact that the school has number of helipads prepared inside, like a parking lot. Moreover, nobody finds that even slightly out of the ordinary. That’s right, because this school exists for ‘those kind of people’.
It’s a garden for those standing at the top of capitalistic society’s pyramid.
I’m not just talking about the amount of wealth they have. Social recognition, family heritage—. Strict and complex standards you can’t ever hope to get overnight by striking lucky at a lottery or stock trading. It’s an exclusive private school that only recognized upper class meeting those complicated standards can enroll into.
Once again, I marvel at the school facilities in awe.
“Hmph, let’s see how long you can last here.”
As if she’s displeased by my action, Dorothy, who’s sitting across from me, snaps at me in a cold manner.
“Also, this school uses French as its official language. So don’t even dream about speaking in Korean. D’accord?”
“Um, mais je ne parle pas français. Alors, c’est impossible.”
“Quel idiot! Oh là là!”
Derisively, Dorothy laughs maliciously at me.
She has fluent pronunciation and accent, naturally articulating the long vowels— the most distinct characteristic of the French language, which is primarily based on Latin. In comparison, my pronunciation is one thing, but even the basic communication is impossible for me.
I know how to say “I don’t speak French,” and that’s pretty much it.
Anyway, despite her nasty personality and being terminally ill with bishoujo complex, even Dorothy’s a ‘Blackhazel’. So, in a certain sense, it wouldn’t be strange at all if she was a real princess.
With the ability to speak three or four languages as fluently as her native language, she’s essentially of different caliber from ordinary people.
“Man, my future’s looking pretty damn bleak.”
Drowning in my depression, I mumble to myself with a sense of failure.
“That, your life…”
As if she was waiting for it, the new face who takes a cheap shot at me right from the adjacent seat is none other than Lily, who’s in charge of my personal security. She’s apparently the strongest agent that Bandersnatch takes pride in.
Although I find that hard to believe, that’s what Maria told me.
And for some reason, she’s wearing the same uniform as Dorothy and me.
I ask around why, but there’s only one answer. It’s planned that this shorty here will also be transferring into the same school as me under the pretense of "entering high school early due to Blackhazel family’s sponsorship”. However, in reality, it’s for my security on the school grounds.
Just who could this little kid ever hope to protect?
It was just two days ago that I had a disjointed shoulder, but here I go again complaining so carefreely like nothing happened.
“Anyhow, this is quite the trouble…”
From what I heard, unlike in Korea where all the classes take place in one room, the European school utilizes a system where you go to the lecture room yourself for the class, similar to how they do it in university. Though, I can’t say for sure because it’s not like I graduated from one.
It probably won’t be easy befriending my classmates, either.
I’m not really a megalomaniacal or an introverted person, but that doesn’t necessary mean I’m a sociable fellow who can just strike up a conversation and makes friends instantly.
It’s fortunate that there’s a thing called homeroom. I’m sure I can at least manage to introduce myself in front of the class.
…Wait, now that I think about it, it’s not that fortunate since I can’t even communicate with them in the first place.
The helicopter lands with an ear-splitting roar, and I get off. Making sure that the necktie or any ends of the clothing doesn’t get caught by the propeller, I lower my body and proceed carefully into the school building.
At last, I can feel the air inside the school.
Dorothy disappears to her classroom without saying anything like the cold-hearted brat she is. Putting aside Lily who’s right behind my tail with her mouth glued shut, the feeling of freedom that I have not experienced for ages finally sinks in.
Like Tim Robbins rejoicing his freedom with both arms stretched out at the climax in The Shawshank Redemption.
Coming back to reality, the first place I have to find for now is the staff room. Salle des professeurs. Packed inside the notepad that I took out from my pocket is the minimal vocabulary one should basically know. Using that vocabulary as my compass, I systemically start to organize the stuff I have to do from now on.
As I stand there flipping through the notebook with my head shoved into it, I hear a voice of an unfamiliar girl from behind me.
It’s not Lily.
“Excusé -moi, monsieur. Est-ce que vous êtes Japonais?”
I turn my head around. There, I see an oriental girl who seems to be from a foreign country.
Short, silky black hair and well-defined facial features; with an ambiance of tranquility and reticence, she’s the Oriental archetype of an ojou-sama.
Anyway, I have no idea what she just asked me. Comprehending a language isn’t something that can be accomplished in a day or two. If it was that easy, I wouldn’t be struggling like this in the first place.
“Um… I’m Korean. I’m Kimchi man. Do you know Kimchi? It’s very delicious and perfect food! And we have Park’s right leg and Kim Yuna’s…”
What am I even rambling about right now?
“Ah, you were Korean!”
By comparison, the girl can naturally change languages with a flick of a switch.
“Uh, yeah. I see you also speak Korean.”
“Maybe it was because you were of mixed-blood, but discerning your lineage was difficult. So I guessed that you were perhaps Japanese, uuu…”
Twirling her body as though she’s embarrassed, the girl explains herself.
I’ve also heard from somewhere that generally a lot of Japanese people intermarry with Caucasians. It was about an extension of eugenic policy in the old times or something.
“Still, it sure is pleasant meeting with another fellow Asian. It’s rare to see any people from the East here.”
“Ahaha. Well, I guess that’s how it is around this neighbourhood.”
Unable to find anything particular to say, I go along with the flow, laughing.
“I’m Sara Lin. I am a Chinese American.”
“I’m Siyoung. I just happen to transfer into your school today.”
“Ah, then what about that little girl behind you…?”
Sara points her finger to Lily, who’s hiding behind my back with her head poking out like a scared little kitty.
Seriously? You’re supposed to be my personal bodyguard, remember? What am I supposed to do if you’re afraid of strangers?
As I’m looking at Lily with such thoughts, she gently lowers her head with a gloomy look on her face. Those dreary eyes of hers hidden by the shadow seem to convey a miserable situation. Under the darkened atmosphere, Lily whispers in a subdued voice.
“Lily, …Master’s lust disposal pet.”
What in God’s name are you saying?!
But still, there’s no way she would actually believe that nonsense.
Nah… She can’t… But if by some odd chance she did…
“P-p-pervert—! Human trash! Hentai! Savage! Rapist! Pedophile!”
After slapping me across the face with her might, Sara turns around on the spot and runs away toward the opposite end of the hallway.
With a reddened cheek, I look back in a dazed state to the very girl who demoted the intimacy level I have painfully built up to a minus within seconds.
No matter how hard I look, there’s not a single trace of guilt on her face.
Making a V-sign with her fingers teasingly, she seems to be enjoying her moment of glory.
Really, I’ve never seen a little devil like her.
To the point where it leads me to believe Dorothy is sisters with her, and not Maria.
Now that I think about my days ahead living amidst these devils, it seems hopeless already.
It’s so devoid of hope that there isn’t even a glimmer of light anywhere.
◇ ◆ ◇
Tell them I've had a wonderful life.
This is what Austrian-borne philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who opened a new horizon of analytic philosophy in the Anglo-American world, once said.
And there are two reasons why I’m talking about his story here.
Firstly, because that statement is very fitting to use as one’s last words. In fact, they were his last words.
Secondly, because the first class I just had here in Illuminati Foundation Academy was “Correlation of Wittgenstein’s Latter Philosophy’s Ideological Perspective and Modern Anglo-American Philosophy”.
This is exactly the problem here.
“What kind of a mad school on earth teaches this stuff to an 18-year-old high school student?!”
“Heh~ It’s not the school’s fault that you’re so stupid.”
I turn my head around to hear the familiar sarcasm, and like a bolt from the blue, Dorothy was sitting beside me.
“W-what the? Why are you even here?”
Instead of answering, Dorothy takes out a textbook and a notepad from her bag. The textbook has the same grand title as the lesson I’m about learn in this class room: “Dissertation of Abstract Algebra Based on Ideal Theory and Hyper-complex Number Theory”.
“Hmph, aren’t you embarrassed that you’re being held back a year and attending the same class as fifth graders?”
“No, not really.”
“…An idiot, not embarrassed when he’s taking a same class with a 12-year-old.”
“Haha, damn right! You know what they say, ignorance is bliss!”
Well, that’s not really something to boast about.
But I feel proud for some unknown reason.
As we waste our time bickering about back and forth, we realize we’ve become the center of attention in the classroom.
It’s pretty obvious when you think about it.
Even if this place is teeming with second-generation magnates from around the world, the Blackhazel name stands above the rest. It’s well beyond any comparison.
Not only that, Lily’s a little kid who’d be barely graduating from elementary school right now. The fact alone that she understands the lectures intended for 18-year-olds at this school without much trouble is more than enough to draw attention from others.
And, ironically, the one who’s attracting the most attention is me.
Probably they’re thinking how a run-of-the-mill, average-looking guy like me can talk openly with such prominent members of the Blackhazel family.
That’s to be expected; that’s how public attention works. The focus of the spotlight is always towards, not the celebrity, but the ordinary person related to the celebrity.
Well, whatever. I don’t really care about the sociopsychological analysis.
What’s bothering me the most right now is not Dorothy, Lily or the mobs of classmates that have their attention on us. It’s not like I have such a delicate personality that would be pressured by unnecessary attention.
The problem lies elsewhere.
I’m talking about the girl sitting in the corner of the classroom, the one that’s looking out the window indifferently as if to say she has no interest in the commotion over here.
At the second our eyes meet purely by chance, the girl frowns at me in plain sight like she has just seen an insect and turns away her head.
It’s Sara Lin.
Just what kind of fictitious image does she have of me inside her mind? It already makes me feel uneasy thinking about the misunderstanding she could have thought up.
I can’t get it off my mind, it’s driving me insane.
There’s about five minutes left before the teacher comes in and starts the lesson.
I can’t decide whether I should approach her and clear up the misunderstanding in the meantime or leave it as it is and find the right time later.
Oh, what the hell.
I push the chair back, stand up, and head toward the corner where Sara is sitting. She makes a startled face upon seeing me coming towards her, and clears her throat right away, struggling to maintain her composure.
“Um, Miss Sara?”
“Would you please not talk to me? Jinmenjūshin-kun.”
What a wonderful name.
“Well actually, that’s exactly what I need to talk to you about…”
“I won’t hear any excuses for your immoral deeds! How can you commit such heinous acts like they’re nothing in human clothing?! Ahem!”
Man, I’m getting lectured here.
“Like I was trying to say, it was all a lie in the first place! I’m telling you, it’s a joke that shorty thought of to prank me! Please belie— Mmph?! Mmph—!”
“You should never believe what this savage says!”
It was at that moment.
Dorothy suddenly gags me and cuts in to my conversation with Sara Lin.
“Ahh, poor Lily! You must be in such unbearable agony enduring all those sorts of obscene and vicious sexual tortures from this savage every night!”
“Mmph?! Mmm, mmph! Mmmmph!”
Are you out of your mind? You’re spewing nonsense like it’s the damn truth!
I try to remove Dorothy’s hands that are covering my mouth to deny her words as soon as possible… But I can’t even get them to move an inch, it’s as though they’ve been glued on. Despite being a girl, she has ridiculous physical strength.
“Having lost her parents at an early age, Lily was sold to this savage, and she grew up suffering from all kinds of abuse! Alas, her life is an endless living hell! O a thorny path of solitude!”
“Mmph?! Mmmph! Mmmmph!”
What is this crazy @#$%&!
Dorothy chatters away, putting emphasis into her nonsensical gibberish like some kind of a narrator in a pro-environmental documentary.
Then there is also Lily in Dorothy’s arms with a tinge of sadness in her teary eyes reflecting a plea for sympathy. The way she turns her head obliquely at an angle 45 degrees accentuates the contrast between light and darkness, casting a fathomless shadow of her life.
Dorothy’s verbose plead must have kicked in. Covering her mouth with tears in her eyes, Sara gently strokes Lily’s cheek.
And this leads to the coup de grâce.
“Lily, this kind of life… I don’t want it…”
A flawless straight punch that cleanly strikes out my life.
Is this how you girls are really going to act until the end?
◇ ◆ ◇
In the end, I spent the whole class gazing aimlessly at the blackboard, zoning out.
Needless to say, I didn’t understand a single word from the lesson that went on continuously for almost half a day.
Just what was Maria thinking, dropping me off into this monstrous place without any kind of safety measures? Or could this be the result of my unwarranted complaint about wanting to get out of here as soon as possible?
“No, let’s just say that it doesn’t matter.”
Passing over the French border, I’m inside the helicopter that’s returning to the Blackhazel Mansion in Romania.
I steal a glance at the two girls, Dorothy and Lily, sitting on the opposite side.
Leaning against each other’s shoulders, the girls had fallen sound asleep.
They really are pretty as angels when they keep their mouths shut like this. But as soon they open their mouths, they change into vicious dogs… as per usual.
Rather than helping out her only brother, who has been thrown in this unforgiving jungle, she seems to be intent on pushing me off the cliff instead.
Also, on the top of the blacklist as the new dark horse, is the self-claimed lust disposal pet Lily.
She happens to be my “bodyguard”.
Among many other words that still doesn’t feel all that realistic to me, like “risk of assassination” and such, that one easily takes the cake.
Despite of it all, it’s the reality that I’m facing right in front of my eyes.
“Fu-nyan… Hauu, Onee-sama…”
Wriggling her arms and legs, Dorothy mumbles in her sleep. The sight of her drooling and smiling away happily gives me a headache just by looking.
That reminds me, there was a situation exactly like this one not long ago, except it was reversed.
I’m talking about the incident where she beat me to the ground when I tried to exact just revenge on her for smacking me in my sleep.
Now that I recall those terrifying memories, the thought of waking Dorothy up and taking my revenge seems scary to the point of being suicidal.
It’s all just an amusing thought.
“How did things turn out like this, I wonder.”
I mutter to myself. The helicopter pilot probably wouldn’t be able to understand me, since he’s a foreigner belonging to Bandersnatch.
Not that it makes any difference.
It’s a little habit of mine.
It’s just as the narrator Yōzō from Osamu Daizai’s No Longer Human had said.
◇ ◆ ◇
「We’re a new family now, from this time onward.」
I can barely remember it right now, but when I was five-years old, I was adopted from a remote orphanage in the Far East by a pair of Korean parents.
The foster parents decided to adopt me after much consideration, thanks to the financial boon they gained from the real-estate industry.
The mother, who had congenital infertility, treated me as her own child from the bottom of her heart, and the kindness they showed was the only warmth that once made me feel like I had a place in this world.
Of course, that happiness didn’t last for long.
The real estate bubble deflated because of the unreasonably low-interest policy; this equaled massive debts to the foster family, and at the same time the foster mother miraculously conceived a child of her own. However, drowning in an ocean of debts, the family wasn’t in any financial condition to raise another life.
Her decision was abortion.
The foster father became a drunkard and a domestic violence offender, and the foster mother merely stood by and watched her husband.
Not long after, I broke free from that place and started to live on my own.
That wasn’t a choice for me; I never had any to begin with. It was an inevitable act of survival, of whether I stayed and face death, or seek life elsewhere by escaping.
「It’s not like he’s my real son.」
The way I live my life right now originates from those words.
Anywhere I go, I’m an outsider.
There is no place for me, where I truly belong.
It’s not just here in this city in the backcountry of Eastern Europe I feel that way.
I’m isolated from the world itself.
…Man, I know it’s my own story, but I sound like a total badass. Like a private investigator from a hard-boiled fiction sinking in sorrow.
In the end, everything in this world is what you make of it.
Don’t you agree?
“Please tell me it’s not true, Onii-samaaa!!”
The instant she hangs up the phone, Maria comes running towards me like she’s in a 100-meter dash.
Her usual composed, intelligent poker-face is nowhere to be seen.
She tells me the call just now was from my homeroom teacher from the Illuminati Foundation Academy.
To summarize, it was probably an unnecessary advice along the lines of “Siyoung-kun’s school life is this and that. So it would be better off for Siyoung-kun to just stay away from school and kill himself. “
By the way, at the moment I’m having a peaceful supper with my two little sisters and Lily.
“Alas, I, Maria Lunalady Blackhazel, have finally found out!”
“F-found out what?!”
I ask her as I chew on the salmon sushi freshly made by a master in Japanese cuisine.
“The truth that Onii-sama is a lolicon who hides behind the utility pole every morning and lusts after elementary schoolgirls wearing little backpacks!”
“Hey, wait! On what grounds are you making such detailed description in your sentence?!”
“Don’t deny it! My ~Operation: Doki Doki Conquer My Beloved Onii-sama!~ was definitely perfect! I would have seen the H-scenes with just few more clicks! Aaah, I was so close…!
What language are you even talking in?!
“Yes, my one and only mistake was my own prejudice! I carried out my plan on the premise that my Onii-sama would be a ‘normal’ person with ‘normal’ sexual desires!”
“Stop making it sound like I’m a hopeless pervert!”
But seeing Maria going off on her delusion at twice the normal rate, it may already be too late.
“Onii-sama, how could you! Doing *BEEEP* and *BEEEEP* with a girl who’s only 12 years old! And as if that wasn’t enough, forcing her to do *BEEEEEP* with her mouth! How envi… I-I mean, how immoral and shameless can you be!”
“Did you get food poisoning or something?! Why are you suddenly acting strange again?”
Wait, Maria just came back from answering a call. The one’s who should be at most risk is not Maria, but Dorothy, Lily and me.
“Why have you gone astray, Onii-sama?! Even though you have such a cute little sister like me…!”
“Don’t tell me you actually believe all that nonsense Lily’s been saying!”
It seems you have absolute trust in her, judging from that serious look on your face. It saddens me to know that you have such little confidence in your older brother.
“And here, look! In terms of breasts, mine are way bigger and has volume to them! Why can’t Onii-sama recognize this sexual attractiveness of an adult?”
“W-whoa! Hey, are you crazy?! Don’t just start taking your clothes off all of a sudden!”
“With my breasts, it’s possible to do all sorts of play that Lily can’t even dream of! Like *BEEEP* and *BEEEEP*! And even *BEEEEEP*!”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself! *BEEEP* is done with your feelings, not your breasts!”
Hmm, why do I feel like I’m also off a few keys here?
Never mind, it must’ve been my imagination.
As I’m trying to escape from reality, Lily pokes her nose in without warning.
“Fufu. Girls…start withering at the age of twelve.”
“Stop fanning the flames! Moreover, that’s too early as a starting point! What is this, the Middle Ages?!”
Okay, it’s a bit of an understatement to say she’s “fanning”.
Because it’s equivalent to pouring industrial oil by the barrels down into the flames.
“F-fine, Lily. If that’s how you’re going to play, I have plans of my own as well.”
Placing her hand on forehead with faltering steps, Maria collects her composure.
It pains me to see her trying so hard to pretend that she’s calm. Also, this doesn’t bode too well, it’s as though a rampage is about to happen.
“No, as I tried to say it before, this was a misunderstanding from the start! Does not listening to what other people say run in this family or something?!”
“Tonight, I will teach Onii-sama about the world of adults!”
“Please don’t forget that you’re still a child too!”
“T-then I’m still eligible for Onii-sama’s lust after all…♡”
Maria begins to blush happily.
“If you even lay a finger on Onee-sama, I will turn you into minced meat, you pedophilic beast!”
Then, all of a sudden, I get hit by a missile dropkick from the sky coming from nowhere.
It was by Dorothy, who was listening to our conversation in silence. Man, why must I suffer from her primitive violence because of Maria’s needless misunderstanding?
“No, no, you got it all wrong! For Christ’s sake, would you please listen to what I’ve got say?!”
Continuing with the story…
“Please, Lily, this whole thing is spiraling out of control! Give them an explanation or something!”
“Lily’s now a lewd little girl…who can’t live on without master’s domestication… ♪”
“Here, here! We have a spy here who’s trying to overthrow the Blackhazel family!”
Despite the fact that I’m pointing it right out to her, Maria seems to be lost deep within her own delusion for her to think properly.
Damn, I’m fighting a losing battle here. My throat’s starting to feel sore.
“Anyhow, listen to me very carefully. Okay, Maria?! By all means, I am not a pedophile and will never be one. So, further misunderstandings from here on are forbidden!”
“I don’t believe you!”
“Then what are you going to do?!”
“Until I confirm Onii-sama’s sexual preference, I will keep an eye on you twenty-four seven from your side!”
“I-it’d be uneasy for me as well to have Onee-sama stay beside a filthy pedophile! I want to do it, too!”
“…Lily’s, this idiot’s bodyguard.”
From how my head is already starting to throb with pain, it would seem this isn’t going to end all that well.
1.TN|Kalkin: Unlike the American schools where students go to teachers for the lesson, in Korea (like Japan) teachers come to students for the lesson. Though most of you should know this by now… For more information, read this wiki article.↩
2. Kimchi man: Reference to a racist remark made by a Caucasian SC player IdrA in Starleague. Jokingly, the insult has now become a derogatory term for Korean males.↩
3. TN|Kuro: Reference to South Korean soccer player Park Ji-Sung.↩
6. Jinmenjūshin (人面獸心): Literally, a beast with a human face. Idiomatic equivalent of “Wolf in sheep’s clothing.↩