TLN: Just realized a pun with Chidori and Tsugumi’s names. Tsugumi’s name is 鶫 which means “Thrush” as in the bird. Chidori’s name is 千鳥, which means “Thousand Birds”
The next chapter he actually transforms and I was struggling with how to refer to him when he’s transformed. Do I use his pseudonym next to the speech to make it clear he’s transformed? rather than “he gently touched his throat” should is be “she gently touched her throat”?
I’ve rewritten it so many times because it sounds a little weird to change to female pronouns midway through.
Chapter 3 – Someone called Hagakure
—Even if Tsugumi stops here, he will likely get caught up in the battle and die.
He supported himself with his hand against a battered wall nearby, attempting to move to a place where he could escape from the aftereffects of the battle, even if just a little. However, it was difficult for him to navigate past the rubble due to his hazy vision.
The severe pain that previously spread across his entire body, gradually turned into a dull pain. It may be due to his senses becoming numb.
Inevitably Tsugumi continued walking. Then, when the sounds of battle faded away somewhat, he ducked into an alley so that the enemy couldn’t find him.
「…Haha, I can’t stop trembling」(Tsugumi)
As he says that, he laughs as if to mock himself.
…He can’t move anymore, but at least he was able to move away from the center of the battle. Whilst crouching down, he had no other choice but to wait for the battle to end, he had to endure.
—But no matter how much he encouraged himself, he knew that the calm part of his mind no longer had control of his body.
His eyes were dyed red, for some reason his heart was feeling uncomfortably hot.
He suddenly coughed up blood and closed his eyes. Through his closed eyelids, he could see a red light fluttering around. He felt that if he fell asleep here, he would never wake up.
He muttered, almost like a sigh.
He doesn’t want to die, but there’s nothing else he can do anymore. If this was a manga, he could survive on guts alone, but if wounds could be healed by thoughts, then there would be no need for doctors in this world.
He opened his blurry eyes, the blood dripping from his limbs looked like red string. If there was a God of Death nearby they might say something like「you are entangled with the string of death」
Even though he was lightly joking around in his heart, he didn’t have the energy to actually say it. He couldn’t even lift a finger.
—If he wanted to change his fate of death, he could only pray for a miracle. Yes, the type that a God could provide.
Thinking of that, Tsugumi smiled dryly.
—Miracles weren’t that common.
Tsugumi wasn’t a brilliant man full of talent, he was just mediocre. A God wouldn’t help such an insignificant existence.
Reaching out to a dying person is more the work of a devil, someone who takes advantage of human weakness.
….But he would be happy even if it was a devil. It didn’t matter to him who came to save him now, as long as he could live.
As such, this encounter–was surely not a miracle.
Instead it must have been fate.
「—Young one, do you want to be saved?」(???)
Suddenly, these words were spoken to Tsugumi by a black shadow in front of him.
When Tsugumi slowly raised his head, the shadow revealed itself to be a black cat. The cat repeated the words again whilst looking at Tsugumi with his golden eyes.
「Do you want to survive? or will you die as you are?」(???)
—Depending on your reply, I may not help you. The cat added on with a laugh.
Those words held an irresistible charm to Tsugumi. He felt a strange feeling from the cat, it was a feeling of sacredness that made you want to cling to it and disgust that made you want to turn away, all mixed together. Still there was some level of attraction.
—This was surely a『Devil’s Deal』
…It was clear to Tsugumi that the cat was not a good thing.
The barrier created by Amaterasu-Ōmikami was by no means all-purpose. The current situation in front of Tsugumi was a good example, sometimes even bad things can slip through.
Despite that, he didn’t see anything wrong with the fact that the being in front of him might be a devil. If he had to suffer an unreasonable contract, he felt that it was still ok. It was much better than dying here in a place that no-one knew.
He grabbed the black cat’s forefoot with a dark, blood-stained hand. He no longer had the energy to speak–so he nodded in affirmation instead.
Seeing that, the black cat laughed. It’s mouth then stretched into a grin, which should be impossible with a Cat’s skeletal structure.
The black cat gently put his face close to Tsugumi’s ear and spoke mockingly.
「I see —Then I’ll haunt (save) you」(???) (TLN: This is a pun on “Save” because there is a 1 character difference between “Save” (Sukuwa) and “Haunt” (Sukutte))
—Then, the black cat thrust his fangs into Tsugumi’s neck.
◆ ◆ ◆
「Tsugumi! You’re going to get a cold you know!?」(Chidori)
Suddenly a loud voice caused Tsugumi to involuntarily scream. Due to the sudden awakening, his heart was beating rapidly.
He couldn’t help but look around in surprise.
He thought he was lying in rubble, but instead he was somewhere he was very familiar with–or rather, he was outside his front door.
…Not just the rubble, his wounds had also disappeared. He tried touching his side and his legs, but he couldn’t find any abnormalities.
—Was that a dream? such thoughts occupied his mind.
Chidori opened her mouth to speak, staring worryingly at the behavior of Tsugumi.
「Mou, I had already taken a break from club activities and came back early because I was contacted by Amari-kun, but I never expected I would find Tsugumi collapsed at the entrance. I thought my heart would stop…hey, are you really okay?」(Chidori)
With that said, Chidori looked at Tsugumi’s face with concern. Anxiety was visible in her eyes,
「Eh, ah, sorry….my memory is a little vague…」(Tsugumi)
「Did you catch a cold after all?」(Chidori)
Chidori gently brushed Tsugumi’s bangs aside and placed her forehead against his. The warmth of her skin was gradually transmitted to him.
However with the beautiful face of Chidori so close, it made him feel uncomfortable, as if he was doing something wrong.
Chidori, who had no idea about the complicated feelings of Tsugumi, exhaled after releasing their foreheads.
「That’s good, you don’t have a fever. But just in case, you should rest for today. If you’re hungry I’ll make porridge later」(Chidori)
「Sorry for making you worry…」(Tsugumi)
Seeing the smiling face of Chidori, his body suddenly lost power.
Ah, that’s good. She can keep smiling today too–it’s really great.
「…I’m sorry, I’m feeling sleepy today so I’ll skip dinner, I’ll get something tomorrow」(Tsugumi)
「Is that so? if there’s anything wrong please tell me, Tsugumi always acts so reckless at times」(Chidori)
He laughed to reassure her that she had nothing to worry about, then returned to his room.
He closed the door with a bang, then leaned against the wall, eventually sliding down into a sitting position. His head was hurting.
He had managed to stimulate his hazy memory–but no matter how much he thought about it, the situation was strange.
Seeing his school uniform without and rips or tears caused him to frown.
He couldn’t explain it properly, but the injury he sustained was definitely real. He thought he would die. However when he looked at his clothes and his side, there was no damage or pain.
If it was a dream, then there was a contradiction. He doesn’t remember returning from the station to his house on his own. Which part was the dream and which was reality? perhaps he has already died and is now just dreaming.
…Even when he thought deeply about it, he couldn’t come up with a conclusion. Regardless, he decided to get checked up at the hospital tomorrow at once.
「–That cat, I wonder what was up with it?」(Tsugumi)
He mumbled to himself that the events that occurred were a bit extreme to be called a dream.
Tsugumi stood up and laid down on his bed. Surely if this was a dream, it would be better to end it as a dream. Tsugumi was already satisfied, that was what was most important.
In that way in the end Tsugumi could say–ah, I’m glad I had that dream.
As he closed his eyes in relief, he suddenly heard a voice above his head.
「—What are you dreaming about?」(???)
He reflexively raised his upper body.
「What a dumb expression you have. Since your master has turned up like this, you should be rubbing your face on the ground and prostrating yourself」(???)
A black cat with four thin wings like a dragonfly said so, whilst floating in front of Tsugumi.
Tsugumi stared at the creature with his mouth wide open, as if he couldn’t grasp the situation.
「That’s why I’m saying don’t hold your head up so high!!!」(Black Cat)
As the black cat yelled, he slapped Tsugumi furiously with his forefoot. Puni Puni~
Contrary to his elegant appearance, his attacks were fierce.
Due to the momentum of being hit, Tsugumi fell back onto his bed. His cheeks felt dull and painful.
「Fuun~ Idiot. I finally got you to bow your head」(Black Cat)
—No, you just hit me until I fell over. He thought so in his heart, but did not say it, this proved to be a wise decision.
「Yo….no, who are you?」(Tsugumi) (TLN: He uses Omae initially, then switches to the more polite Anata)
Despite being confused by the situation, Tsugumi managed to ask that.
「What? do you not remember anything? are you that incompetent, or just pretending to have forgotten?」(Black Cat)
The black cat’s relentless insults made him silent, he couldn’t think of any words to rebuke him…
He vaguely remembered that he was dying. He experienced pain as if his body was breaking apart–then, he heard the words of his savior.
『Do you want to be saved?』
Tsugumi certainly remembered nodding to those words. Then this cat is–
With confident eyes, Tsugumi stared at the black cat.
「Did you save me?」(Tsugumi)
「Ha, you finally remember」(Black Cat)
The black cat threw out a sigh as he laughed sarcastically, sitting down on the bed.
「I am your god, your king, your master–rejoice servant, you have been chosen as my time-killing toy, you will dance for me and hopefully you don’t break too quickly」(Black Cat)
「Toy? Dance? What on Earth are you going to do to me?」(Tsugumi)
At the mocking words of the black cat, an indescribable chill ran up his spine. He remembered this feeling. Yes, it was the same feeling he got when he was dragged into the evil plans of Yukitaka.
「You saved my life, but I’m sorry, I refuse to break the law at your command. I also don’t want to cause problems for anyone. I know I’m being selfish, but if you can’t accept my conditions, then please return my wounds to me」(Tsugumi)
His life was saved, but he refuses to cause harm to his family. He didn’t want to die, but it was better than causing trouble for Chidori. It won’t be a pretty death, but it would be better than being killed in a battle between a magical girl and a demonic beast.
However, the black cat—the God’s reaction was different than Tsugumi expected.
「Don’t be an idiot brat. Do you think that I could do evil things with a human like you!? My former subordinates would laugh at me!!」(Black Cat)
—The god had gotten angry in a completely different way than Tsugumi expected.
「Etto, so I can take that to mean that you won’t make me cause trouble for my family or commit criminal acts?」(Tsugumi)
「Fuun~ that’s right, I’m not interested in your family」(Black Cat)
「Then, what do you need me to do?」(Tsugumi)
It must be something and ordinary human can do, but Tsugumi had no confidence in being able to satisfy a God.
When the God heard that, he stared at Tsugumi with his beautiful golden eyes and began to laugh. He then said something outrageous.
「In this amusement park, you have toys called『Magical Girls』right? —I want you to become a magical girl. I’d be crazy not to participate in such a fun event. I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest」(Black Cat)
「Wa, wait a minute! you said magical girl, but I’m a guy right!? I don’t have any aptitude nor right to be one!」(Tsugumi)
「Shut up. You have no right to veto this. If I say you are going to do it, then you’re going to do it. End of discussion」(Black cat)
The black cat spoke in an intimidating voice, silencing Tsugumi.
「—However, I have no intention of getting involved with that Sun God. You will have to move inconspicuously within the scope of the rules, so I’ll treat you as a general toy」(Black Cat)
「But, as I said I’m a man. I don’t know the details, but there’s no precedent of a man becoming a magical girl. Males don’t seem to have suitable vessels to accept the power of God or something? I’ll definitely stand out」(Tsugumi)
「You don’t have to worry about that, I’ll use my authority to transform you. I can do whatever I want with the vessel after all–I noticed after signing a contract with you, you have a better affinity for divine power than most. Did you train as a shrine maiden before?」(Black Cat)
「I don’t think….that’s the case….」(Tsugumi)
He doesn’t think it’s possible, but then again he doesn’t remember his childhood at all. His family records were burnt to ash in the catastrophe ten years ago and all the data crashed, so he no longer knew his roots.
「Well, tomorrow I will have you transform and fight a demonic beast. You’ll find out then, so stop concerning yourself with it」(Black Cat)
Although he wanted to advocate for a clearer explanation, he knew that he had no power in these discussions. So, he swallowed what he was going to say and nodded quietly. However, that doesn’t mean that he had no questions to ask.
「I’m really grateful for your help and I’ll pay you back in anyway I can—but why did you choose me? You seem to be a high-ranking God, you could have had your pick of any girl at all, so why me?」(Tsugumi)
In Japan, the main deity was Amaterasu, a Goddess. That was the reason why women were seen as being closer to God. That’s also why there was a public perception that “God favors women” and as such there was no need to choose Tsugumi, who is a man.
However, the black cat distorted his expression and Tsugumi’s question and his response was completely out of his expectations.
「Unlike the other trashy shitty Gods, I don’t like women that sell themselves」(Black Cat)
「Tr, trashy….so in essence, etto, you hate women?」(Tsugumi)
Despite being shocked by the words of the God, Tsugumi still asked his question.
「I went to see a couple of girls selected by the Government, but I couldn’t even speak to them. They sneak around to gain any advantage, then hide their rotten personalities behind fake smiles—they looked like religious men who had gained a little power, it was sickening」(Black Cat)
God spits out those words so easily, perhaps he has a trauma due to religious people?
「Not all of them are like that, there are many girls all over Japan who want to be magical girls, some of them are bound to be pure-hearted kids」(Tsugumi)
From that criteria, Chidori had a passing score. No, he forbid her from becoming a magical girl.
When Tsugumi said that, the black cat looked at him like he was looking at a crushed insect. Tsugumi was surprised that a cat’s expressions could be so varied.
「Unfortunately, I can only contract with girls after they have exceeded 12 years old…..I tried to compromise and go older, but they weren’t innocent enough. Then I thought about doing it with a reckless guy instead」(Black Cat)
「….God wanted little girls….」(Tsugumi)
When Tsugumi tried to comment on the God’s hobby, a tail was ruthlessly swung and smashed into his face.
「You’re a fool who can only talk about creepy things!! I have plenty of tolerance!!」(Black Cat)
「…..I, is that right」(Tsugumi)
—-Was that really something to be proud of? he wanted to say, but kept it in his heart. Silence is golden after all.
「That’s why I compromised and went with someone like you. Feel free to thank me with tears in your eyes」(Black Cat)
「….yes, thank you very much」(Tsugumi)
In other words, this God wanted to sign a contract with a girl, but because women over the age of 12 were out of his strike zone he compromised with the dying Tsugumi after seizing his weakness? It seems like a rushed decision.
…In any case, Tsugumi can’t escape from a God. After all, the contract has already been made, he could tell instinctively that this black cat was now his master.
The black cat smiled looking at the silent Tsugumi.
「You’re looking forward to it aren’t you? That’s right my miserable contractor」(Black Cat)
「Before that, can I ask one thing?」(Tsugumi)
「….Just as I thought earlier, you’re rude. Well I’m a generous God and we will have a long relationship, so I’ll forgive some indiscretions with my big heart. So, what is it?」(Black Cat)
「What should I call you?」(Tsugumi)
To that question, the God opened his eyes wide and tilted his head.
「Un? I haven’t told you yet? My name–that’s right, you can call me『Bell』」(Bell)
—Was there a God or devil with such a name? At least Tsugumi didn’t remember one.
「Attach -sama, a bastard like you should show courtesy to the one you serve」(Bell)
「Ano, I have a name, Tsugumi….」(Tsugumi) (TLN: Bell has been calling him “Kisama” which is a super derogatory version of “you” )
「Why would I use that? –Ah, I forgot to mention, I used a pseudonym when registering you as a magical girl. Since you haven’t been collared by the government, but are instead a stray, they were flexible with the naming. Because of this as long as you aren’t seen transforming, no-one will know you’re a magical girl」(Bell)
Tsugumi felt somewhat depressed at the words that Bell had replied with almost instantly…..no, he abandoned those thoughts as he had something more important to ask.
「A pseudonym? What kind of name is it?」(Tsugumi)
What would he do if it was an embarrassing, sparkly name that he would be ashamed to call himself? He anxiously awaited Bell’s reply.
「—Hagakure Sakura, it’s a good name I came up with right?」(Bell)
Tsugumi nodded which caused Bell to laugh proudly.
「Did you take the name from the bushido? It’s pretty obscure now, but it’s from the『Hagakure Kikigaki』right? It’s appropriate because I’ve already died once」(Tsugumi) (TLN: TLDR, it’s a book on bushido (warrior’s code) where it asserts that bushido is really the “way of dying”)
There’s a line in the book that is often misunderstood which is 『The way of the warrior is death』to mean that bushido is the art of dying, however in actual fact it teaches the reader to be conscious of death instead.
The original meaning was that if you go into battle with the state of mind that you are already dead, you will produce better results. Tsugumi never thought that a seemingly foreign God like bell would have such a deep understanding of Japan.
When Tsugumi was impressed and complimented Bell, Bell tilted his head in response.
「No, I just thought it was cool」(Bell)
「Oi, say something」(Bell)
「….No! It’s the coolest name! God’s naming sense is outstanding!」(Tsugumi)
Tsugumi raised his voice to deceive Bell. He would be ashamed to have to receive an angry lecture from him.
「Ah, that’s correct! Praise me more!」(Bell)
Whilst sending compliments to the God, Tsugumi stroked his chest in relief. It seems that the God was a better person that he originally thought–he may be a good God.
「What is it, servant?」(Bell)
「—Please look after me from now on」(Tsugumi)
「Umu. Work hard for me」(Bell)
As usual, the God held a dignified figure. There was no strangeness of disgust when looking at it.
—This was the second encounter between Tsugumi and the『Devil』Bell—as well as the beginning of everything.
This is the tale of a boy saved by a God.
As well as the story of Hagakure Sakura, the magical girl eaten by the devil.