GosickS I – 1.5

[5]

{Motorbike Beheading Case, Solved!
Acclaimed Inspector de Blois Awarded Police Commendation!}

*****

The next morning arrived.

Just as usual, Kazuya awoke earlier than the other students in the dormitory. He walked down to the dining room, greeted the housemother, and started on his breakfast. She had slipped the choicest slice of ham onto his plate, perhaps as a gesture of apology. Then she returned to reading the newspaper, seated in her usual position on a stool with her legs crossed and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.

Kazuya glanced in the housemother’s direction. When his eyes happened to land on the headline on the front page, he jumped out of his seat in surprise. He asked to borrow the newspaper from her, then frantically skimmed the article.

It said: “By means of inspector de Blois’ deductions, the culprit was apprehended at a surgical hospital—-shockingly enough, it turned out to be a beautiful, blond-haired young girl?! Her motive remains unknown, but in return for solving the case with his usual amazing speed, the inspector was granted a special commendation from the police department….”

A photograph of the captured criminal—a girl with downcast eyes—accompanied the article. Kazuya’s gaze was immediately drawn to her hands, where a bandage was wrapped around her fingertips.

This is just as Victorique said. But…

Exactly what was the nature of Victorique’s relationship with this inspector, who had snatched away the credit for cracking the case?

Kazuya was filled with unanswered questions. And that girl, who solved mysteries with her startlingly sharp mind, was the biggest, strangest puzzle of all.

*****

The sun shone with dazzling light, the polar opposite of the weather on the previous day. Despite the many worries crowding his thoughts, Kazuya prepared for school as he normally did. He neatly donned the hat that was part of his school uniform, straightened his posture, and set off toward the classroom building. Once he entered the classroom, he walked directly to his seat, speaking to no one. It was the same way Kazuya had begun every school day for the past half year. But he had added one more habit to his routine without realizing it.

His eyes slid to the empty seat by the window.

And he thought of the enigmatic girl who should have been there, but never was.

A slight smile flitted across his face.

Now I know who’s supposed to be sitting in that seat. That girl, that mysterious creature—she must be in that library right about now, attending her own kind of school in the middle of that garden, with her “wellspring of wisdom” and her books spread all around her, enjoying her rendezvous with chaos. Victorique … you really are a strange one!

Kazuya chuckled, amused at the thought.

Maybe I’ll take her some more unusual things to eat. At least she seemed to be pleased with the hina-arare. Oh, Victorique, your mouth was so full, you looked like a squirrel stuffing its cheeks full of nuts….

The bell rang.

*****

Until Miss Cécile entered the classroom, the day had shown no signs of being anything other than an ordinary one.

That is, until a tall girl walked in after her.

She possessed a slim and athletic build. Her thick blond hair, cut short, curled around her face and accentuated her refined bone structure. Even someone looking at her from afar would have been taken with her radiant beauty.

Miss Cécile beamed. “Allow me to introduce a new exchange student from England, Avril Bradley. Let’s all give her a warm welcome!”

The girl smiled, and inclined her head politely.

Miss Cécile quickly scanned the classroom. “Let’s see, where should we put you…. Well, the seat next to Kujou is empty.”

Jolted from his wandering thoughts, Kazuya hastily nodded. His eyes met with Avril’s, and she gave him a warm smile. He blushed, feeling a little shy.

Avril walked to the seat beside Kazuya, moving with elegant, mincing steps as if she were walking on a cloud. She placed her satchel on her desk, but it fell to the floor just as she was about to sit down.

Kazuya, conscientious to a fault, picked up Avril’s fallen bag for her. She looked at him with slightly raised eyebrows.

Ça va?” asked Kazuya.

Ça va. Merci,” she answered, smiling as she took the bag from him. Her sunny expression, lacking any trace of darkness, shone as resplendently as a flower unfurling its petals.

Hit by the sudden realization that this encounter was just like the one he had fantasied about, Kazuya stiffened in surprise. Avril turned toward the blackboard, the smile still on her face.

However…

*****

Kazuya’s eyes drifted away from her face to focus on her hand, which was placed on her desk. He was startled to see a bandage wrapped around the thumb and forefinger of her right hand. She was injured.

It couldn’t be…. Kazuya gulped.

He remembered the husky voice of the mysterious girl in the library tower. The real killer is a blond girl. Her fingers are wounded….

Kazuya abruptly jumped to his feet, rattling his chair loudly. Miss Cécile and the rest of the class turned around to look at the source of the sound. Flustered, he sat down again, and placed his head in his hands.

A blond girl.

Wounds on her fingers.

This exchange student from England, Avril Bradley, fulfilled both conditions!

It couldn’t be! It has to be coincidence. I mean, they’ve already caught the real killer. Those bandages must be from some other injury. It’s just … a coincidence…

A warm spring breeze wafted in from the window, rustling the long hair and skirts of the female students.

Right, it’s springtime…. Kazuya whispered to himself dazedly.

“The reaper who comes in spring brings death to the school”!

*****

The girl sensed Kazuya’s stare, and turned around to look at him. Detecting the suspicion in his eyes, her previous carefree expression turned intimidating, as if she had suddenly turned into a completely different person. Within an instant, her eyes had narrowed into a glare.

Is this girl really just an exchange student? I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about her….

Kazuya returned her gaze without wavering. Before long, she looked away.

*****

Kazuya Kujou, the third son of an imperial soldier, came to Sauvure from a certain country in the Orient, and met the mysterious girl Victorique, who was secluded among the tropical plants and esoteric books at the top floor of the library tower. The two of them would come to befriend each other, and uncover the various secrets of the school one by one.

They would first embark on an adventure to solve the mysteries surrounding the enigmatic transfer student Avril Bradley, and a purple book of sinister witchcraft. But that is an entirely different story….

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