Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka? - Volume Volume 8 - Chapter Prologue
The year was just on the verge of ending. Hello, this is Aikawa Ayumu.
It was New Year's Eve, and a rather solemn feeling lingered in the air. Today was that important day where we would toss away all the good and bad that came during the previous year like a huge pile of garbage and meet the new year completely fresh.
And on that day, underneath a sky filled with pitch-black clouds, I found myself in the midst of a crowd.
There were people in front of me, and to my left, and to my right, and behind me. People people people people everywhere.
I saw someone wearing a black jumper jacket. And someone with a black down jacket. And there was someone with a black duffel coat. And a black long coat. I found myself surrounded on all sides by people with the exact same fashion sense.
Well, granted, I was wearing a black down jacket myself.
Exactly how many people were here? It was patently clear that there were more people than the entire student body at my school, at least.
Oh, by the way, just to be clear, it's not like I was going to my first shrine visit of the New Year one day early right now or anything.
I let out a breath, watching wistfully as the air misted white in front of me.
’’... Ugh, what time is it right now?’’
I was answered by the bespectacled guy next to me, who also was watching his breath mist in front of him.
His name was Orito. Orito something-or-other. Yeah, I honestly didn't really care what his first name was.
He had slicked his hair into spikes in order to try and be more popular with the ladies, but nobody really cared about him. It was quite pitiful, honestly. And he was also pretty obnoxious... I don't think any of the readers really want to know either, so I'll forego describing his clothes.
There was also a girl standing behind me.
Her name was... well, her real name was Mael Strom, but that was her name when she was with an extremely suspicious lot known as the vampire ninjas, so when she was with normal people she called herself Yoshida Yuki. But because of her short hair and how little she was fazed when she got dirty and her ability to eat a watermelon slice in three seconds and her brat-like personality, people just twisted the pronunciation of the kanji in her name and called her Tomonori instead of Yuki.
Ugh, now I'm tired. I always get tired when I have to introduce her.
I'm not sure if it was because she was on the track team, but Tomonori seemed to love shorts. Today, Tomonori was wearing denim shorts and stockings.
She had a jacket on too, but she really did look a bit cold.
She had sacrificed her body temperature today all for the sake of being fashionable.
’’But seriously, look at all these people! I'm just getting more and more pumped!’’
Tomonori stamped her feet (maybe she was trying to warm herself up?) as she excitedly spoke to me. I just sighed, my facial expression as frigid as the winter sky above us.
’’You sure have a lot of energy this early in the morning... ugh, what time is it now?’’
’’Six thirty.’’ The spiky-haired guy next to me pushed his glasses up.
’’It's fine, it's fine! It's nice to wait in a line like this once in a while!’’
I almost mistook her for a dog with how energetic she was right now. This little rascal was on the track team, so she probably even had fun during those winter marathons they made us run in gym class.
On the other hand, I was a lazy zombie who for as long as I could remember didn't belong to any school clubs. I also wasn't that good at running, and I hated the cold.
So there was no way I could agree with Tomonori here.
’’Yeah, Aikawa. Weren't you the one who told us you wanted to come here in the first place? To Comiket.’’
Yes, we were currently at an event called Comic Market. It was the biggest doujinshi (1) convention anywhere in the world.
In front of the line, I could see a strange building that looked like two big upside-down triangles lined up side by side.
Just last week, I was actually still helping Ms. Boobs-... sorry, I mean I was helping a girl named Nene-san with her doujinshi.
I really wanted to see the sight of that doujinshi actually being sold on site.
And when I had told those feelings to this bastard Orito over here with the cloudy glasses, he turned to me and went ’’Oh, really? Well I'm going anyway so maybe we should go together?’’
I really have no idea why, but I actually ended up taking him up on that offer.
If this had been half a year ago, I would've definitely just ignored him. How the hell did it come to this?
It was New Year's Eve, the last friggin day of the entire year, and yet here I was making a huge, stupid mistake.
’’Also, why exactly is Tomonori here? Ugh, Tomonori, exactly what time do you think it is right now?’’
Tomonori was an energetic outdoors type. I swear I remember her room having a lot of sports equipment lying around.
So I honestly didn't expect at all that she would be interested in going to an event where all they sold were books and anime goods.
’’Why? Is me being here a problem or something?’’
Tomonori's lips thinned a bit and she gave me a grumpy look. It just made her look all the more like a tomboy.
’’It's six thirty,’’ Orito muttered next to me, but I ignored him.
’’Nah, it's not like that. I was just thinking about how this is a weird place to go for someone who loves sports so much that she knows the rules for Kabaddi and Petanque and Kin-ball and Taspony...’’
’’Ohh, Aikawa! You know about Taspony? Let's play when we get back! Or we could play Indiaca too! I couldn't find anyone to play with... so that'd be so awesome!’’
’’...... You actually have the equipment for that?’’
’’What the hell kind of sport is Taspony...?’’
Orito seemed to have trouble following the thread of conversation as he fished out a thick book (to kill time, maybe?) from what looked like a piece of roller luggage.
’’Well, to put it simply, Taspony is like what you'd get if you mixed together volleyball and ping-pong...’’
’’Okay, I'm sorry for saying something that got us completely off track. My point was that I don't think this is a place where a girl who loves sports should be. After all, this is a... uhh...’’
’’Place for otaku?’’
And there she was, just tossing out that dirty word without a second thought. I really had thought it would be better to not mention that word... well, okay, it's not like I was turning my nose up on the word ’’otaku’’ or anything. It was more just that a small part of me didn't really want to admit that I was an otaku or something like that...
... Well, whatever.
’’Yeah, exactly. And unlike us, you're not an otaku, right?’’
’’What are you talking about, Aikawa?! We vampire nin-’’
Tomonori the idiot was just about to blurt out the name of the secret organization she belonged to, but she caught herself and let out a few obviously fake coughs to try and cover her words up before continuing.
’’Back where I come from, around eighty percent of us were otaku, ya know? If you make fun of otakus, even if you're Aikawa I won't forgive you! I'm an otaku too, got it?!’’
Tomonori thrust both her hands into the air as she made that declaration, and for some reason applause began to ring out around us. I bowed my head, apologizing to the other people around us for causing a ruckus.
’’Tomonori, you're being way too loud. Although... now that I think about it, I think even that hard-ass Saras liked otaku stuff...’’
’’My boss is an otaku too! And the chief's daughter is a net idol, ya know, so she's probably gonna be around here today cosplaying...’’
Tomonori had come from some village located somewhere in Japan. And if she says that eighty percent of people in that village are otaku, then... maybe there are a lot of vampire ninjas in the village that went through a hikikomori phase (2) before reaching adulthood? Wait, no... maybe I should just say that they were being like ninjas and living sneakily in the shadows.
’’B-But... also...’’ Tomonori suddenly went really quiet and meek, a far cry from her loud yelling from just a moment ago.
’’E-Even if I didn't fit here... umm... if I can hang out with Aikawa... I'll... I'll go anywhere, okay?’’
’’You sure can get pretty shy sometimes too, can't you?’’
’’Shaddup! It was super embarrassing and I just ended up blurting out what I was thinking, 'kay?!’’
Tomonori's mood changed on a dime again, and I couldn't help but think that she was just a bit cute right now.
I shook my head, trying to get rid of those thoughts, before turning to look at Orito again.
He was flipping through a conspicuously thick volume of something.
’’What are you looking at?’’
’’It's the catalog. Wait, Aikawa, you don't have one?’’
’’Catalog.... what catalog exactly? Ugh, what time do you think it is?’’
’’The Comiket catalog, of course! Are you an idiot? It's six thirty-one.’’
The catalog was that thick?
I couldn't help but feel a bit impressed as I stared at that catalog. But then I felt Tomonori tapping me on the back at a quick tempo.
Before I could ask her what was wrong, she began to mutter while looking somewhere in the distance.
’’I get the feeling we're being watched.’’
Well, if we make so much noise then of course we'd attract attention. And after all, Tomonori did look like a fairly cute girl, if you just judged on looks alone.
But, hmm... this did bother me a bit for some reason...
Now then, what do you think happens when a dam breaks?
The answer is easy. Water would just gush out in uncontrollable torrents.
So there we sat, just talking about pointless things and trying to kill time.
But then the event opened, and the completely fired-up people around us suddenly...
They let out a war cry and dashed for the entrance.
It was like watching race horses bolting out from the starting gate at the beginning of a race. All these ferocious males entered into the event hall with the force of a hurricane.
It really was like watching a dam break and a torrent gushing out.
So, why exactly was I trying to make such a dumb metaphor here?
Well, all I wanted to say was this:
I was completely washed away by the flow.
I could see Tomonori reaching out to me, also being washed away in the sea of people.
Dammit! Did these people forget that a staff member had just told everyone not to run a minute earlier?!
And there really was an incredible amount of people here. I don't think there were even this many people in those huge war scenes in the Taiga dramas on TV.
I continued to be tossed back and forth by the sea of humans, and by the time I finally managed to make it into the event hall, I had already completely lost sight of Orito and Tomonori.
If I had been together with Orito, I probably could've made my way around without getting lost... but now where was I supposed to go to meet up with Ms Boob-..... sorry, I meant Nene-san?
I really regretted not taking a good look through that catalog now. But for now, I had to find a way to meet back up with Orito or Tomonori.
Staff on megaphones and speakers from overhead continued to warn people to not run, to warn people that it was crowded, but a big black stream of otaku continued to flood violently into the area, everyone scrambling to be first.
I also got into it, not wanting to be outdone, and proceeded in while being careful not to be thrown to the ground by the crowd.
I noticed that the line was splitting into two at some point.
There was now a line on the right and on the left. The line on the right seemed to go into a big hall, where supposedly they were selling doujinshi.
I heard a lot of voices ringing out from the hall, almost feeling as if I was at the Tokyo fish market.
To be honest, I didn't want to go in. Zombies weren't really creatures strong enough to survive in the midst of savagery such as this.
The line on the left... seemed to be continuing straight through the building. Maybe I should follow that line and do a search of the whole convention center? Hmm, but... what if Orito had actually gone into the hall?
I separated myself from the stream of people for a moment, walking around aimlessly.
What should I do? I racked my brains for the answer...
Alright. I'm going in.
I steeled my resolve and quickly turned around.
’’Ukyah-’’ I heard a small yell. My years and years of accumulated experience immediately told me that the yell had come from a cute girl.
I had bumped into her because I had completely ignored the flow of people around me and had suddenly turned around.
And yes, it was certainly a cute girl.
The girl bowed over and over at me. She probably wasn't too much more than 150cm tall (1). She looked like she was in junior high... or maybe not even. She was definitely what one would call a loli.
And quite a cute loli at that.
’’I apologize too. I should've looked to see where I was going.’’
I bowed myself, but even then the girl didn't look up.
’’Sorry! It was my fault! Sorry!’’
But this really had been my bad... what a well-mannered, nice girl this was.
She had what looked like a tiara on her head. She was wearing a cute cosplay outfit with a dress as its base. She was probably dressed as some kind of princess anime character or something.
But the thing that stuck out the most in my mind was the stuffed lion she was lovingly holding onto.
It was a lion the size of a kitten with a splendid mane. She was tightly hugging it with both arms, and every time she bowed the lion's tail waved from side to side.
And with her sparkling blonde hair going in all directions as her head went down... how could I help thinking she was really cute?
But, hmm... she wasn't just cute. There was something strange about this girl...
Yes... she had a similar feel to her as the necromancer who had turned me into a zombie.
There was just this... air of mystery around her, and I couldn't take my eyes off.
’’U-Umm! I-I'm... I'm sorry!’’
’’Did you come to a place like this all by yourself?’’
’’Eh? N-No no no...’’
The girl's face went bright red and she shook her head from side to side. Seems like she wasn't alone.
’’U-Umm... I'm sorry!’’
’’I mean, you really don't have to apologize. Also... if you got separated from the people you're with, you can walk around with me.’’
’’Eh... r-really? W-Walking around with someone like me... I-I'm sorry!’’
She gave me a smile, and then of course she apologized. When she said it like that, it almost sounded like she had just refused me...
But it seemed that saying ’’I'm sorry’’ was this girl's speech quirk.
’’What's your name?’’
’’Ah, umm... s-sorry. M-My name is L-L-L-L-Li-Li-Li-Li-’’
It was like listening to an alarm clock. And with her cheeks slightly flushed like that... God she really was cute.
’’Calm down, calm down. My name is Aikawa Ayumu.’’
’’Ah, okay. I-I'm... I'm Lilia Lilith! Sorry.’’
Lilia stiffly got that out, a look of apology on her face. I couldn't hold in a chuckle. Maybe that was the name of an anime character somewhere.
’’I-I'm sorry! Did I ruin your mood?’’
’’Ah, nah, nothing like that. Well, shall we go, princess?’’
She was wearing a dress, so I held out a hand as if I was escorting a princess, and Lilia took that hand. She held her lion with her other hand even more tightly, careful not to let it fall.
Lilith said that and looked down at the floor. I felt my heart race a bit.
And so, I ended up looking around for Orito and the others with this strange girl Lilia.
No matter what I did, Lilia would just keep on apologizing.
Even when she bumped shoulders with someone and almost toppled to the floor, even when she got jostled, she would just keep apologizing.
Where did she come from? What were her hobbies. What kinds of books did she like? No matter what I asked her, she would just end up apologizing.
Honestly, when you were with such a sweet little girl, even searching for people became kinda fun.
My face was probably flushed red the entire time.
Ah, I could see Tomonori waving at me. Looks like I finally found her.
’’Ah, that's Tomonori. The person I was looking for.’’
’’Ah, i-is that so? That's great... I'm sorry.’’
And just then, someone called Lilia's name from the opposite direction.
’’Ah, looks like I was found too. I'm... really sorry for everything.’’
’’I see. Well, looks like we'll be parting here. Also... Lilia, why exactly do you apologize so much? Isn't it such a pain to just always pay attention to other people like that?
’’S-Sorry! I-I was always like that... since I was small... all around me... I could only feel sorry...’’
Maybe she was bullied in school? Bullied so much that she started apologizing out of habit.
But this was probably not something I should be sticking my nose into, so I turned to look at Tomonori and waved.
’’B-Because I... am one who calls death... I'm sorry.’’
Shiver. I felt Lilia's cute voice wash over me from behind, going through my down jacket and shirt and enveloping my entire body.
I turned around, but Lilia was no longer there.
I felt like a taxi driver who had just let a ghost into his cab. I just froze there, completely dazed.
One who calls death. I had heard those words before.
That was what some called the necromancer who had changed me into a zombie.
Yes, the necromancer Eucliwood Hellscythe, with her terrifyingly high levels of magical energy, could change the fates of those around her.
Often for the worse...
Right now, after I had met Yuu and died, I had met with various situations in quick succession. But I didn't want to blame all of that on Yuu.
’’I am one who calls death.’’ Just those words alone wouldn't be enough to surprise me that much. They probably just hadn't sunk in very much.
But the words ’’I could only feel sorry’’... those words indicated that she had the same kind of power as Yuu.
I see... hearing that, I think I finally understood.
Certainly, Yuu always felt sorry. Those were the only feelings she could feel without changing the fate of those around her.
So Lilia... she was someone with the same amount, if not more power than Yuu.
And she understood the nature of her power.
The chief of the vampire ninjas had originally been from Virie.
So it wouldn't be strange at all if her daughter had the same level of magical power as Yuu.
Could it be that Lilia was the chief's daughter that Tomonori had been talking about?