Chapter 1 – Luck
Chapter 1: Luck
Luck is a very subjective concept.
For instance, you might consider yourself lucky if you happen to catch the train at the very last second.
But if that same train later gets into an accident, the fact that you boarded it at all could only be seen as unfortunate.
Let’s say that the accident then leads you to have a fateful encounter at the hospital. You could argue that boarding the train and getting injured was in fact, fortunate.
But if that fateful encounter results in bitter memories, you could only consider yourself unlucky.
Ultimately, the fact that you ‘luckily’ boarded the train ended being unfortunate after all was said and done. Of course, the reverse could have easily happened as well.
To put it bluntly, events aren’t lucky or unlucky in and of themselves; that depends entirely on your point of view.
In other words, it’s meaningless to even think about things that way.
But people still tend to end up thinking about everything in terms of luck…
I was all alone in my classroom, waiting for the teacher to arrive.
I was forced to stay after school to prepare the handouts for class tomorrow since I got to school late this morning.
That wasn’t my fault though. I just had bad luck.
I overslept this morning…and don’t tell me not to blame that on bad luck either. The only reason it happened in the first place was because my alarm clock never went off. It was working just fine yesterday, but then the battery died all of a sudden.
My luck really was the worst.
Train doors and elevators would always close in my face and traffic lights always turned red on me. In class, my teachers would ask me the things I just so happened to have skipped, and I always made the wrong choice whenever I tried to guess the answer to true or false questions. I’ve never won any sort of prize or lottery either.
There had to be some sort of scientifically unprovable force giving me bad luck.
And now this.
I was born under an unlucky star. Not even the name my parents gave me in hopes of bringing me good fortune could change that.
“This sucks so much!”
I impulsively pounded on my desk and heard a metallic jingling sound.
It was the bangle I had bought the other day. I remembered what it was supposed to be and clicked my tongue.
Lucky bangle, my ass!
The fact that I was tricked into buying a fake like this was more proof of my bad luck.
“Ugh, what a useless…”
The classroom door opened just as I was about to rip the bangle off of my right wrist and throw it away.
It wasn’t the teacher, but Kurata-kun, one of my classmates. Truthfully, he wasn’t just a classmate; he was actually my secret crush.
“Kurata-kun, why are you here?”
“Ah, I’m supposed to help prepare handouts. Shintani was on patrol and caught me at the arcade last night. What’re you here for, Toujou?”
“I’m also supposed to help with the handouts since I was late this morning.”
“Overslept, huh? That sucks.”
I would have said the same until just a moment ago, but if this meant I could be together with Kurata-kun, then my luck wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I’d say things turned out pretty nicely.
“What’s taking him so long, though?”
The door opened and Shintani-sensei entered the room just as we were starting to wonder where he had disappeared to.
“Are we ready? Alright. Kurata, Toujou, take these.”
I took the worksheets from him. Don’t try to touch my hand too, you dirty old man!
“Kurata’s here because he was fooling around last night, and Toujou’s here because she was late for school. You brought this all on yourselves, you hear?”
That was rich, coming from a guy who was late just a second ago. I felt like asking if it was only OK when he was late. …Actually, it would have been better for him not come at all. I wished he would just go away.
“Alright, let’s get started!”
My internal pleas were denied and he stepped into the room, slamming the sliding door shut behind him.
He might have closed it too forcefully, but the door suddenly disconnected from its rails and lurched forward.
“Behind you!” I yelled out to warn him.
The falling door slammed against his head just as he turned around to look.
Shintani-sensei ended up getting carried to the nurse’s office after he injured his head. Kurata-kun and I were told to go home as a result of that mess.
“I feel bad for Shintani, but we got pretty lucky this time, huh?”
I unconsciously touched the bangle on my wrist.
“Did it actually work…?”
I only got my hands on this lucky bangle yesterday.
It was a pretty horrible day and nothing was going well. I was even unlucky enough to completely bomb a test. Don’t tell me not to blame my bad score on my luck either. I’m not that stupid, if I say so myself.
In fact, all my answers were correct. They were just off by one line.
I hadn’t been that jumpy during the test and even double-checked my answers. I just didn’t notice that they were all in the wrong spots.
But the test was still covered in x marks when I got it back.
I must have been cursed by some kind of death god or poverty god when I was born. That was the only way any of this could make sense.
That was how I always thought about it anyway; I was already used to having bad luck.
Somewhat reluctant to bring the bad test home with me, I was wandering around town when I found myself in front of a small shop. I had inadvertently wandered deep into an alleyway without even realizing it.
The small, old looking shop stood alone at the end of the alley.
For some reason, I decided to go in.
The inside of the shop was just as dated as the exterior. Not dirty in any way, mind you, but a little lackluster. It felt like a perfect fit for me.
It was dotted with slightly creepy dolls, oddly shaped lamps and various other curios. I didn’t know if they were secondhand goods or antiques or something, but they were definitely showing signs of age. I also saw several similarly shaped bangles lined up on one of the shelves. They were all c-shaped cuff bangles and had a diamond shaped stones set into them.
The woman behind the shop counter spoke up. She was an eye-catching beauty whose appearance didn’t at all match the whimsical feel of the shop.
“Are you looking for anything specific?”
There wasn’t anything in particular I wanted, but I was curious about the bangles that I just saw.
“Just these. Why do you have so many of the same bangle?”
Everything else in the shop was unique so why they were the only ones that looked mass produced?
The shop lady answered as I was thinking to myself.
“They might look similar, but all they’re all very different. No two Relics are ever exactly alike.”
“That’s what they are—but they’re not like antiques or classical art, you know? They’re magic tools created by powerful magicians or mighty ancients. They can also be objects that have absorbed their owner’s grudges or natural spiritual power after long exposure.
“They’re pretty common, you know?
“These bangles are also Relics just like stones that summon misfortune, cursed straw dolls, or three sided mirrors that show you how you’ll die.”
Going by what she said, this was a shop that dealt with miscellaneous fortune related goods.
“These bangles bring good fortune and although they look similar, their actual abilities are very different.
She walked towards the shelf with the bangles on display.
“One generates new luck for you if you share your own fortune with others, one transfers your future luck to the present, one converts some of your life into luck, and finally—”
She gently looked at me and quietly whispered.
“One lets you steal luck from anyone who touches it.”
I was shocked.
It was almost as if she knew exactly what was worrying me. It wasn’t like I hadn’t considered it before…if only someone would share even a part of their luck with me, who had been unfortunate since the day I was born.
Why were lucky bangles like these being put in front of someone as unlucky as me?
“So which will you choose?”
She asked and gestured at the bangles in front of me.
The bangle was attached to my right wrist when I left the shop.
I looked at it and remembered the words the shop woman told me before I left.
“Be careful not to steal too much luck from other people. Even if it leads you to good fortune, it won’t necessarily lead you to happiness.”
It didn’t happen often, but I wasn’t just sitting around today at my part time job at the Tsukumodo Antique shop.
Of course, it wasn’t because business was booming—not like something like that could ever happen.
It was actually because I was wasting time with the laptop in front of me.
My school had a computer class and we were spending a little time learning how to manage the OS, use spreadsheet programs, and all that stuff. That’s why I was allowed to temporarily borrow this laptop. Of course, it was restricted so that I couldn’t go to sites that high school students weren’t supposed to visit, but I could still use the internet.
I was using it to read up on current events and sports news.
“What’s so great about these things?”
Looking over my shoulder was the shop owner, Towako-san.
She exuded a dignified aura and would most certainly be classified a beauty if she were to act demure. Despite that, her face was warped into an inconsiderate grimace that that looked like she was spitting out something unpleasant.
“What are you doing anyway? I have no idea.”
“Not much. I’m just reading up on current events. It’s pretty much like reading a newspaper or a magazine.”
“Then why don’t you read those instead?
“This is more convenient since I don’t have to go out and buy them one by one.”
“Then why don’t you watch TV?”
“But then I would have to watch it at specific times to see what I want.”
“It should be fine if you record beforehand right?”
“That’s not all you can do with the internet though. You can also order things online, you know.”
“But you’re ordering things, why not just do it over the phone? I generally don’t like making mail orders anyway since I can’t see the products in person.”
It was no good. She was an analog person through and through.
“Tokiya, you’re at work. You can’t just play around.”
The one who butted in this time was my fellow part time employee, Maino Saki.
Perhaps wanting to share her own opinion, she came over to look at the screen.
Her long pale hair, which shone silver in the light, spilled onto the keyboard.
“Careful, Saki-chan, that’ll pull your soul out.”
At Towako-san’s lie, Saki quickly pulled back as if she were frightened. Her face, however, was still the very definition of expressionless. She possessed a special ability where her emotions rarely ever showed on her face.
“That’s just a camera. The computer obviously won’t steal your soul.”
“I know that, it was a joke.”
With that lack of expression, I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not.
“Anyway, you need to stop playing around.”
“Why? It’s not like there aren’t any customers here. I’m only borrowing it for a week anyway. Why can’t I keep using it?”
“If that’s the case, don’t you have something you should be doing?”
Saki dropped several books in front of me.
The books had titles like “With This, Even You Can Make a Homepage”, “How to Become a Popular Web Designer”, and “Techniques for Making Attention Grabbing Web Pages.”
Her book choices were unusual as always.
She often read how-to and self-help books but had the tendency to always choose ones that missed the mark.
“If you want to use it, why don’t you switch with me?”
I tried to get up from the seat, but Saki grabbed my shoulder and pushed me back down.
“You’re going to do it. I have other things to take care of.”
“You mean you couldn’t understand the books…”
“Ahh, I have so much to do.”
Saki gave a hurried response and ran away. Bull’s eye, huh.
But I wasn’t planning on making any web pages either way. Being able to use them and knowing how make them were two completely separate things.
I briefly flipped through the books, but soon shut them and went back to browsing the net. Resignation is truly the great lesson of life.
I stumbled upon a blog page after a while.
It was pretty common for people nowadays to publish things about their daily lives or hobbies for other people to read. It went without saying that celebrities posted things, but regular people were in on it too.
This one could be summed up as a blog and a fortune telling page. I indifferently took a look at it.
The post was about how amazing things started happening after the author bought a lucky bangle. None of the things they wrote about were particularly interesting though.
Saki, who had brewed some black tea, came over to look at the laptop monitor again.
“You were interested in fortune telling?”
“Not really. I just thought it would be nice to have one of these so-called lucky bangles, if they were actually real that is.”
“Is there something that makes you think you’re unlucky??”
“All the time. Like when I see the train door close on me right when I arrive at the station.”
“Why not just wait for the next one?”
“You should have checked the train timetable first.”
I flinched a bit at the nearby Saki and faraway Towako-san’s double retort.
“There’s also when stoplights turn red right in front of me.”
“Can’t you just wait?”
“Run before it changes.”
“Plus, I’ve never won any prizes in lotteries.”
“Isn’t working regularly at this store good enough?”
“I’m not going to raise your salary, you know.”
“I’ve never won the new year’s post card lottery either.”
“But if you don’t send any cards out, there’s no way you’ll win.”
“Did you even send out any in the first place? I didn’t get one.”
“Then why does my phone battery die whenever I really want to talk to someone.”
“Who’re you talking about?”
“You should have fully charged your battery.”
“Then how come the topics I study for are the only ones that don’t show up in tests?”
“I said, who were you trying to talk to!?”
“That’s why you should study everything instead of betting on getting the right questi…mm?”
The flow of the conversation broke and an awkward silence was born.
“Ahem…”Saki cleared her throat.
“Either way, it doesn’t matter. Everything Tokiya said depends on how you look at it.”
“It’s not about being lucky or unlucky in the first place. That’s just an excuse people use when they don’t do what they need to.”
I guess I wasn’t able to get them to sympathize with my misfortune.
“In fact, I think you’re lucky, Tokiya.”
It was true that I couldn’t counter her arguments, but I don’t ever remember being told I was lucky.
“Because you can work here at the Tsukumodo Antique Shop. There’s no greater fortune than that.”
Of course Saki, who was devoted to customer service and loved this shop, would say something like that.
Happiness, huh. Well, I guess being able to have pointless conversations like this could be called happiness.
“Well, maybe it is.”
“I know, right?”
“Yeah. I also get to work with you.”
Saki froze up.
“Come on, if you don’t say something back, I’ll be really embarrassed.”
“I don’t care anymore.”
Saki picked up the black tea she just brought over and hurriedly went back to the kitchen. I didn’t even get to take a sip. While she was out, I heard the sound of something loudly being knocked over coming from the kitchen.
Errr…that didn’t have any deep meaning, but maybe she misunderstood me? I looked at Towako-san to confirm, and saw her looking at me with an unpleasantly wide grin on her face. I guess I really did make a mistake this time.
“You’ve come a long way, being able to say something like that.”
“It was just a joke!”
I offered a panicked explanation to Towako-san who headlocked me from behind.
“No—even as a joke, it’s still a step forward you know.”
“I said I don’t know about taking steps forward or backwards…Towako-san?”
Towako-san’s headlock tightened for some reason.
“Towako-san…this is starting to hurt…”
But perhaps she didn’t hear my voice or something, because it tightened even more.
I managed to pry myself away from her arms with brute force.
“What was that!?”
She continued to stare at the laptop screen as if she couldn’t hear any of my complaints.
“This…might actually be a relic.”
On the laptop screen was the blog page along with an image of the “lucky bangle”.
There are certain objects in the world known as “Relics”
No, not like articles of fine art or antiques. They’re magic tools created by powerful magicians and mighty ancients, or objects that gained power after long exposure to their owner’s grudges and natural spiritual power—many “cursed items” were often times, in fact, Relics
They appeared in old stories, anecdotes, or legends as “objects of power.”
For example: a stone that brings good luck, a doll whose hair grows night after night, a mirror that shows you how you’ll look in the future, or a sword that brings ruin to anyone who draws it.
Most everyone has heard of stories like that.
People often consider Relics to be mere fantasies because they’ve never come across any. Even if a relic were right before their eyes, they’d fail to notice it. If a mysterious event were to occur, they’d just dismiss it as a coincidence.
Some simply don’t care, while others are certain that such things do not exist.
But relics are real, and more common than people think.
I was also recently involved with some relics, a bottle that strengthened or weakened presences, a piercing that let you hear the voices of peoples’ hearts, and a ring that allowed you to see the red string of fate tying you to your soul mate.
“This is a relic?”
“Yeah, it looks like one.”
I magnified the image and Towako-san stared at it some more.
“I still can’t make out the finer details though”
“What kind of power does it have?”
I could tell from Towako-san’s expression that it wasn’t simply an object that gave its wearer good luck.
Relics weren’t always purely beneficial, there are also some with what could be called negative side effects.
“Lucky relics, in essence, conveniently distort the predetermined future just a little bit. They’re items that are capable of granting small wishes in a sense. However, there are several patterns that their abilities can follow.”
“Bangle shaped lucky Relics can be divided into several types, with their powers also varying. One transfers your future luck to the present, one steals luck from others and in exchange for making someone else unlucky, your own luck increases. One converts some of your life into luck, and one generates even better luck for you if you share your fortune with others.”
I felt like I understood what she wanted to say, but was a little unclear on how the compensation worked and how the bangle’s effects manifested.
What was luck actually defined as?
“Should I give a few examples?”
Seeing my confused expression, Towako-san offered some concrete examples.
“Let’s say you want to score well on an exam. You should have gotten 50 points by guessing on the multiple choice questions but got 80 points instead. Lucky, right? But then you only get 50 points in a future exam where you should have gotten 80 points. The end result is that the luck remains the same. This is the pattern where you borrow luck from the future. But you’ll still never get everything right if you only depend on intuition to answer the questions. There’s a limit to what luck can get you. Like I said before, lucky relics bend fate just a little bit, so that good things occur.
“Next is the pattern where someone else’s luck gets stolen. Let’s say you were destined to get to get 50 points and someone else was supposed to get 80. The owner of the bracelet who was originally supposed to earn 50 points now gets 80. In exchange, the person who was supposed to get 80 points now gets only 50. The total amount of luck hasn’t changed, but as far as the person with the bracelet is concerned, they just got lucky.
“As for the pattern where you exchange your life for luck, well, that one’s pretty straightforward. In exchange for one year of your life, you get 80 points where you should have gotten 50. I’m not sure of what the actual exchange rate would be though.
Of course, in addition to being blessed with the luck to get all your guesses right, you could also have the questions you studied for show up on the test, or have the teacher mismark a question in your favor. There are lots of ways this could go.”
“However by that logic, wouldn’t you get 100% if you actually answered all the questions? Like if you take the exams where you would have scored 10 points in the future and add them all together, wouldn’t you get a score of 100 where it should have been 0?”
“So you’d think. However, the amount of luck that people have in one lifetime is fixed. In the same way, the amount of luck that you can use at one time is also fixed. For example, if you have a multiple choice exam with four options for each question, what are the chances that you’ll guess every single correctly?”
This was starting to feel like a statistics lesson…
“The probability should be pretty low… I think?”
“Well I don’t have the exact number either, but that’s about right, chances are pretty low. It’s not just a matter of having to luck the score 10 points in the next 10 exams. You also need to consider the probability of it all showing up at the same time. Luck is the same, in order to get 100 points on the exam you would have otherwise scored zero in, you would need an extraordinary amount of luck. If you’re talking about your entire life’s luck, sure. However, people are only able to use one part of their life’s luck at a time”
“Like even if you have a bathtub full of water, you can only drink the amount your stomach will hold?”
“I can’t say that’s a brilliant analogy, but it’s something like that, yeah.”
“So rather than being lucky, can this relic be thought of as something that increases the probability of your wishes being granted?”
“You could also say that since having something with low probability occur is what you would call having good luck.”
“But that’s not where the problem lies.”
The problem was figuring which pattern this relic followed. It would be fine if this was the type that redistributed luck, but any of the other types would be problematic.
All the more so if they were unknowingly using its ability.
“Can you tell which type this one is?”
“Not just by looking at this picture.”
This bangle had a silvery pattern engraved on it and a single diamond shaped stone set in the center.
“I’d need to look at the stone. You can tell what kind of ability it has by looking into it, but…”
Towako-san said that there were several lucky bangles so they probably all looked the same except the stone.
I scrolled down the web page and took a look at the other blog posts.
“Something really nice happened today. I won a prize in a magazine prize contest that I entered before.
“I forgot to do my homework, but the teacher came late. I was able to copy someone else’s homework in that time, safe!”
“I bought some juice from the vending machine, but got an extra can. That was the first time in my life this happened. It was a little embarrassing cause I stood out, but how lucky!”
“My good luck has been getting recently even though my fortune said it was going to be bad this month. Maybe it’s because of this bangle I bought before.”
The blog was updated pretty much every day, but the author only added included images to their meaningless updates every once in a while.
If I went back further, the entries were mostly about how things didn’t go well for them, but after they recently got their hands on the bangle, it was all about how lucky they were.
The exact date the bangle was purchased wasn’t written anywhere, but judging by the blog posts, they got it about two weeks ago.
“If it weren’t for this bangle, these events could all be dismissed as coincidences.”
Towako-san said this as she looked at the screen. I agreed with her.
Was this a real relic bringing her luck, or was it just a fake?
I looked away from the blog.
The author was someone name “Yukie”. I didn’t see a last name or kanji, and there wasn’t any proof that this was her real name either. She did write that she was a high school student, but there was no information on what grade she was in or even what school she went to. Although it sounded like she was a girl, there really was no telling people’s true genders on the internet. Her hobbies were fortune telling and reading, with her favorite book being a foreign novel.
Amongst all of that, there was one thing that caught my eye.
That was an entry titled “My Favorite Shop”.
“That’s the shop that sells miscellaneous fortune telling goods, right?”
Saki interjected. She was probably listening in on our conversation earlier.
Although I didn’t think we’d be able meet “Yukie” so easily, we did now have some sort of clue. There was some value in looking into it for now.
“Why do you know so much about it, Saki? Are you into fortune telling?
“Cause I was doing research on rival stores?”
“Rival stores, huh. Since when have we been a fortune telling store? Oh wait, a fortune telling store and an unfortunately selling store. They are actually pretty similar.”
Towako-san hit me as I agreed with Saki.
I would have never imagined being invited by Kurata-kun.
We started getting along a lot more since that incident with Shintani, and this was the first time I had been invited after school like this.
But I couldn’t get my hopes up. There had to be a pitfall waiting for me somewhere; that’s how it always went.
My bad luck would come and ruin things just when I thought everything was going well.
It happened often enough that I believed it.
I was walking next to Kurata-kun. We weren’t holding hands, but walking together back from school with my crush was still a dream come true.
But as happy as I was, I couldn’t help also being a little uneasy.
I couldn’t afford to have something like bad luck ruin this. Not after I had finally gotten together alone with him.
I unconsciously looked at the bangle on my right wrist.
—steal luck from anyone who touches it.
The words of the shop lady came back to me.
I was pretty sure the teacher touched it that day. Shortly after, he was met with misfortune and I got the chance to get along with Kurata-kun. It almost felt like I had stolen the teacher’s luck.
I tried stealing people’s luck little by little after that day, and it felt like my luck had increased even more.
Despite my initial doubts, I was now convinced that this bangle did indeed have the power to call forth luck.
But I wanted even more.
I wanted enough luck so that no one could interfere with my time with Kurata-kun.
Of course, I couldn’t do anything like stealing luck from him. I needed to find someone else as a replacement.
That’s when I saw the two people a little ahead of us walking in our direction. I was going to shift myself slightly towards these people as they passed by and bump into them on purpose.
I ended up bumping into them harder than I expected, and stumbled as a result.
I’m going to fall. Just as I was about to lose my balance, I found myself supported by pair of strong arms.
It was Kurata-kun.
“Are you alright?”
What a happy accident. I thought I messed up by bumping into them too hard, but was lucky enough to be helped by Kurata-kun.
“I’m sorry, are you OK?” The person I bumped into apologized.
“No it’s alright. I should be the on apologizing. Please don’t worry about it.”
Because you just let me take your luck.
The distance between Kurata-kun and me lessened even more after he came to my support.
Since he didn’t seem to mind, we continued cuddling and walking like that.
I was feeling really lucky right now.
Towako-san let us get out of work early and at Saki’s guidance, we were headed towards the store that Yukie said was her favorite. On the way there, we passed by private high school. This was the only high school in the neighborhood. Since “Yukie” usually stopped by the store on her way from school, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for her to be a student here.
The going-home club had already left, but there were still people in the middle of their club activities here and there.
There were also few couples wearing school uniforms walking towards us from the opposite direction.
It looked like the students here wore sailor uniforms. I was just thinking that they wouldn’t suit Saki’s taste since they were mostly white when—
“What are you staring at?”
Saki warned me.
“Oh, nothing much”
As I turned my head towards Saki, I accidentally bumped into a girl who was passing by.
“I’m sorry, are you okay?”
I hurriedly apologized to the girl that I had just bumped into.
The girl accepted my apology with a smile and continued on with the guy that she was with.
Saki spoke up and picked something up from the ground. It was a student handbook.
“Did that girl drop it?”
She looked at the picture attached to the handbook and pointed to the girl that I had just bumped into.
As I thought about returning the handbook to her, I noticed something glittering near her hand.
On the girl’s right wrist was the bracelet we saw on the blog page.
I looked at the name on the student handbook and saw her name, Toujou Yukie, written on it.
What a coincidence, coming across the author of the blog, “Yukie,” like this.
Not letting this chance pass us by, Saki and I followed after her. Toujou and the boy she was with crossed the pedestrian crossing.
Just as she approached the crosswalk, the light turned green and she continued across. I had hoped to catch up to her while she was stopped at a red light, but it looked like that wouldn’t happen.
We need to hurry.
I increased my walking pace and continued towards the pedestrian crossing.
The crosswalk signal began flashing; it was changing faster than expected. I clicked my tongue. We probably wouldn’t make it in time if we continued walking, so we ran across the pedestrian crossing.
We were now a little closer, but Yukie continued on and showed no sign of noticing us. The distance between Saki and me had also increased a little bit, but we continued to tail Yukie.
“At this rate, all we’re doing is following them.”
“I know, I know.”
My goal wasn’t to follow them. What I wanted was to confirm whether that bangle she had was a relic or not, and to do that, I would have no choice but to talk to her. Although I knew what I had to do, I couldn’t just shout after a girl I didn’t know. I needed to mentally prepare myself first. More importantly, she would probably be cautious if I shouted after her all of a sudden.
I looked at Saki.
“You should be the one to yell after her.”
“You’re right, she would probably cower away if Tokiya, as a guy, suddenly started shouting.”
I’m sure plenty of people would also shrink away from your expressionless face, I thought, but didn’t say out loud.
Toujou-san had gotten further away while we were talking. I hurried after her in order to close the distance between us.
She went to the next pedestrian crossing and once again, the light turned green just as she approached. She crossed the street without waiting.
We increased our pace the same way we did before and the pedestrian crossing light began flashing again. This time, it actually turned red before we were completely able to cross. The cars honked for us to hurry up and began moving the moment we crossed to the other side.
Because the lights turned green just as Toujou approached them, they were already red by the time we reached them. If we weren’t careful, we’d lose sight of her and get separated by the crosswalks.
Toujou crossed a four-way intersection and once again, the pedestrian crossing lights began flashing when I tried to go after her.
I quickly turned left at the intersection and began running. Saki, who didn’t come after me, fell behind a little.
Halfway through crossing the road, I turned around to look at Saki and saw a faint look of terror on her face.
I turned back around. A large shadow was barreling towards me, obscuring the left side of my vision. It was a truck making a left turn. The driver probably didn’t see me at all and showed no sign of slowing down.
He finally noticed me there after turning and slammed hard on the brakes.
He wasn’t going to stop in time.
I kicked at the ground and bolted across the pedestrian crossing as fast as I possibly could.
The truck just barely avoided hitting me and stopped in the middle of the pedestrian crossing. I got away with little to spare.
“Are you alright?”
Saki came over to me shortly after.
I told her I was OK, but really, that scared the life out of me.
Although I wasn’t injured, we completely lost sight of Toujou because of the crowd of onlookers that ended up gathering around us.
“How’d it go?”
We were back at the Tsukumodo Antique shop and I was giving Towako-san a report on the situation. I couldn’t say for sure what kind of power the bangle had, but I suspected that the bangle she owned had a high chance of being a relic.
After the incident with the truck, I sent Saki back first and took several round trips from the school gates to that traffic light.
The first time, I had to stop for a red light twice and was able to cross without waiting once.
I was stopped at a red light all three times on the second run.
For the third, fourth and fifth times, I got stopped at the red light once, and was able to cross twice at the green light without waiting.
I was testing to see if I would be able to cross every street without waiting on the red light the same way Toujou-san was able to.
For now, I could say that I did not have the same success she did even after making a total of five trips. Although it probably would eventually happen if I tried a few more times, hitting a green light every time wasn’t something that happened often, my own bad luck notwithstanding.
Perhaps she was in a hurry and wished that nothing would get in her way. Then, due to the relic’s power, she luckily ended up not getting caught by any traffic lights.
Of course, this could also have happened to just be a lucky day for her, but if this was related to the luck-summoning bangle, it had to be more than just a coincidence.
“The problem is that we still don’t know which type of bangle she has.”
“That is indeed the only information we’re missing.”
“What if I said the reason I almost got hit by the truck was because I became unlucky in her place?”
I did bump into her once before. Couldn’t she have stolen my luck then?
“That’s still not conclusive enough. Although you could certainly say that she wasn’t stopped at any traffic lights because she stole your luck, it’s still at a level where you could call it a coincidence. As far as the thing with the truck goes, it’s only to the point where we can say that you just had bad luck.”
Towako-san’s thoughts weren’t too different from my own.
If I talked to her directly, perhaps she would let me look at the real thing and maybe I would know then. However, we weren’t able to judge from the information we had, as expected.
I would try confirming again tomorrow.
I went to visit Toujou-san’s school again the next day and was a little out of breath since I ran out as soon as the last homeroom ended.
Toujou had left school late yesterday, but that didn’t necessarily mean she would be late today, which was why I had to hurry. I passed by students going back home as I walked from the station to the high school. I kept walking with my eyes peeled so I wouldn’t miss her by accident.
I caught sight of her walking alone among the students. Her hairstyle was different from yesterday, so I almost didn’t notice her.
She passed by me a short distance away. I turned around so I wouldn’t lose her and began to follow. Perhaps she was going someplace else today, but the route she was taking today was different. Like yesterday, she smoothly continued walking without getting stopped by any traffic lights. It really was like she was guided by luck.
Perhaps I was also getting used to tailing people; it seemed I wasn’t getting stopped at all by the traffic lights today.
Getting better at stalking people is kinda…
I was feeling just a little concerned for my future but continued to observe Toujou-san so I wouldn’t lose sight of her. She didn’t have to stop at any traffic lights until she reached her destination.
The place she stopped by was a silver accessory store. Saki said it was a miscellaneous fortune telling store, but this place looked like it dealt with accessories. Unlike Tsukumodo it had a fashionable feel about it, and the inside was overflowing with high school girls on their way home from school.
So that’s what popular stores look like—Toujou walked towards the counter as I thought to myself.
As I watched her from afar, she bumped into some people who were trying to get in line right behind her. She cheerfully allowed them to go before first. When Toujou-san went up to the register to pay, the employee clapped his hands for some reason.
I strained my ears. It seemed her receipt had been entered into a lottery, and that she had won a prize. I saw her happily celebrate her good fortune.
After that, she headed towards the station, boarded the train, and finally looked like she was heading home.
The station she got off at was the same stop as Tsukumodo. She left the station and went to the toilet. I couldn’t follow her there, of course. I waited, pretending to look at the train table, and thought.
Considering the thing with the traffic lights and the prize that she won at the shop, there was no doubt that she had especially good luck.
However, I couldn’t tell which type of bangle she had with those observations alone. There was also no way around the fact that “luck” itself wasn’t something that could be strictly defined.
I probably wouldn’t make any progress even if I continued observing like this. I needed to talk to her directly. But what could I say to get the conversation to turn to the subject of relics?
I was still pondering my options when she came out of the bathroom.
I waited a little bit before following and went through the ticket gate next to hers. She suddenly stopped at the gate.
Thinking that even she had her own small moments of unluckiness, I looked at Toujou-san only to find her staring right back at me.
I was feeling bummed and let out a sigh.
It was because of yesterday’s date…if you could even call that a date.
Just thinking about it made my heart sink.
Kurata-kun invited me to hang out at the arcade while two of us were alone together after school.
That was fine in and of itself, it’s not like I hated arcades or anything. But then Kurata-kun met up with his friends at the arcade, and in his excitement for the coin game, pretty much forgot that I was there. I also took a shot at the coin game when he asked me to and won thanks to the relic’s power. He seemed pretty happy when I split the coins with him.
But something was wrong. This wasn’t the image I had in mind. I had imagined us chatting about each other over a meal or something. After he finished playing at the arcade, he invited me to come with them next time and we separated from there. Kurata-kun then rode on the back of his friend’s bike and went home.
I was headed in the opposite direction and sadly had to go the station with some of Kurata-kun’s other friends.
Everything had been perfect until we got to the arcade.
It was supposed to be just the two of us, without anything or anyone interfering.
If that was what he had in mind, then we shouldn’t have gone together.
The difference between my elated feelings before we got to the arcade and my rock bottom feelings right now were literally like heaven and earth.
All the love that I held for him before had disappeared and sunk away somewhere. He was an unexpectedly childish brat who couldn’t even read the mood.
He was just a kid who found playing with his friends more fun than pursuing romance. I might have actually been happier before, when I still admired Kurata-kun in secret. As I thought, I had a disposition for misfortune. Even the person I fell in love with turned out to be someone like this.
I remembered how Kurata-kun invited me to go with him tomorrow as well. It was already too late to take it back now, but that didn’t bother me.
Farewell, Kurata-kun. Farewell, my love.
But still, for the person I fell in love with to be someone like him, I really was unfortunate. I spent what little pocket money I had left on impulse buys, but that didn’t make me feel any better.
I felt someone’s eyes on my back and stole a glance behind me.
He’s still here…
It was a boy wearing a uniform from another school. It felt like he had been there since I left the school. The uniform wasn’t one that I usually saw on my way to and from school, so it stuck out. That’s why I remembered it.
He walked behind me the entire time and even sat a little distance away from me in the same train compartment.
I had a bad feeling and stopped to pretend to use my phone. When I did that, he also stopped walking as if he were looking at something.
A coincidence? But he was always behind me like that.
Maybe it was just my imagination that I was being followed.
I could call someone. But then it would be embarrassing if I were wrong.
I headed towards the ticket gate entrance while I tried to figure out what to do. He started following after me again.
I feigned passing through the gate and deliberately did not enter.
The alarm rang, and I stopped moving.
Even though he already inserted his ticket and should have passed through the gate, the person following me stopped halfway and looked at me.
I knew it. He was following me.
I took a deep breath and glared at him.
“…what do you want?”
“…what do you want?”
She was glaring at me with suspicion in her eye. I must have been openly looking at her too much.
“Ah, you see…”
“You were also at the shop, weren’t you?”
Thinking about it now, I bet it was because I was wearing a uniform from a completely different high school at the shop and on her train home. I probably stuck out like a sore thumb.
Not only did I get off at the same stop she did, I also waited until she came out of the restroom before going through the ticket gate. That would have made me look all the more suspicious if she had noticed me before.
She wasn’t saying it outright, but I definitely looked like a stalker right now.
Toujou-san looked towards the station employees when I didn’t respond.
I quickly took out the student handbook I had in my pocket.
“I found this on the ground and thought it belonged to you. I should have returned it right away, but I was having a little trouble telling if you were really the person in the picture.”
“Ah, that’s my…”
She was a little less suspicious of me now.
“I dropped it on my way to school yesterday and was looking for it…but where did you find it?”
“Oh, near your school…”
“Is that so? Thank you, I appreciate it. But why what brought you near the school in the first place?”
She stared at my uniform and school bag. It was true that my school was nowhere near the one she attended. Saying that I happened to be passing by would sound like a lie.
“Ah, well, you see, the truth is, I work part time at a place that’s kinda like a general store. The store you went to has a similar atmosphere to the one I work at, so I go to visit it sometimes. I bet it’s strange for a guy like me to visit shops like that, huh.”
I was running my mouth trying to find something to talk about.
“Really? Yeah, that store’s really good; I also go there a lot. Don’t see why there would be a problem with guys going there either.”
Her suspicion completely disappeared after I praised her favorite shop.
That made things easier. I continued the conversation without letting my relief show on my face. I couldn’t let this chance escape me.
“That bangle’s cute isn’t it? Did you buy there?”
“Oh, this? No, I got it from somewhere else. It’s a lucky bangle.”
“Could you let me see it for a second?”
I took her hand and stared at the bangle.
Due to the poor lighting. , I couldn’t see much when I tried to peer into the stone.
I looked at her to ask if she could take it off and let me look at it more carefully when…
She somewhat embarrassedly looked away from me.
Her gaze then turned to her own left hand.
That’s when I realized that I was gripping her hands with all my strength.
I panicked and let go of her. She didn’t complain and only quietly muttered that it was okay.
“Are you interested in things like this?”
“Eh, ah, yeah. I was thinking about making something like it at my shop as well. That’s why I’m looking at various shops for research.”
“You’re saying that employees at that store make things themselves?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“You can do stuff like that at a part time job? Woah.”
“Well, it’s still just something I was thinking of doing, you know.”
For now I was franticly thinking of what to do next while keeping up with the conversation.
“Welcome back, Tokiya-sa….”
Saki, who came out as she usually did, froze mid-sentence.
“Ohh, so this is where you work, Kurusu-kun. How strange and interesting.”
There was no doubt that Saki recognized the person coming in after me as Toujou-san.
“Tokiya, come here for a second.”
Saki gestured for me to come over to her with her finger. I excused myself from Toujou-san and obediently went over to her.
“What is this?”
“Well, it’s kind of a long story, so…”
“Make it brief.”
I meekly relayed to Saki how I went to Toujou’s school to follow her, and getting easily exposed, which resulted in me taking her to the shop.
I myself wasn’t sure how the conversation ending up with me bringing Toujou-san to Tsukumodo, so I could only reply vaguely. However, that was more or less what happened.
“So she caught you following her?”
“Something like that, yeah.”
“Let me guess. You mixed yourself in with the students as they left the school, and openly followed her wearing a uniform from a different school, didn’t you?”
“It’s exactly as you say.”
“You need to read this then.”
Saki handed me a how-to book titled “With This, Even You Can Become a Detective!”
I no longer thought about why she would even have something like this. She was too far gone.
“There’s more that I want to say, but let me tell you this first.”
“What is it?”
“You’ve been bringing too many girls to this shop recently.”
…Really? I didn’t think I brought that many over though.
“Hmm, I guess we could take this opportunity to turn them into customers. We might be able to add to our sales.”
“Don’t forget what our actual goal is, okay?”
“Because Towako-san’s away right now.”
“Seriously, of all time…what bad timing. Is she out buying stuff?”
“No, I don’t think so since she said she was going to only going to be away for a little bit.”
Oh well. I guess that meant the job of verifying if it was a Relic fell to me since I already knew about the pattern in the stone. I hadn’t planned on bringing her in the first place anyway; the original plan was to check it myself.
I couldn’t keep Toujou-san waiting for too long, so I went back to her.
“This shop has all sorts of things doesn’t it? Not just accessories.”
“Yeah, it’s kinda like a general store.”
All we had were fake Relics anyway.
“If you find something you like, you can have it. Nothing too expensive though.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yep. But if I had to ask for something in exchange, could you let me see that bangle for a little bit?”
I properly borrowed the bangle from her this time and tried to look through the stone —
—and couldn’t see anything.
According to what Towako-san told me, I should have been able to tell what kind of bangle this was by looking at the pattern inside the stone.
What if this wasn’t a relic at all, but an ordinary bangle?
Toujou-san asked while I was staring at the stone.
“Ah, nothing much. I was just thinking that this is more elaborate than I first thought.”
“Do you want to make one like it?”
“Huh? Oh, right. Yeah. But I wonder if I’d be able to make one?”
I remembered the conversation we had earlier and nodded in a fluster while responding with the first thing that came to mind.
“The shop owner might give me some advice on how to make one if I asked her, but she’s away at the moment. Could you let me borrow this if she doesn’t show up soon?”
“Borrow the bangle?”
“Is that no good?”
I was going to ask her to wait until Towako-san came back or ask her to come back tomorrow if she said no, but Toujou-san easily agreed.
We then waited for another hour, but she didn’t return.
Actually, I thought that she might have returned but just didn’t come into the shop, but when I went to check her room and the underground warehouse, she was still nowhere to be found.
In the end, I decided to borrow the bangle.
“Could I ask you one last thing?”
I asked her a leading question as we separated.
“Do you know what Relics are?”
“Yeah. They’re like antiques right?”
Her tone was proof that she wasn’t aware of what they were.
“Looks like this bangle is the type that exchanges luck.”
That was Towako-san’s judgment when she looked at the bangle after returning to the store.
“But why couldn’t I see anything when I looked inside the stone?”
She must have seen through my implication that it could be similar to the fakes she always bought, but Towako-san raised one of her eyebrows and skillfully circled around me. Almost as if she were hugging me from behind, she held up the bangle in front of my eyes.
“Keep looking at it reeaally carefully.”
Towako-san slowly rotated the bangle and held it at different angles.
I stared at the stone just as she instructed while, very conscious of the fact that she was stuck to me. Then, I saw something that looked like a pattern in the stone where there was nothing before,
I unintentionally shouted a little and leaned forward, but then the pattern disappeared again.
“I told you, don’t move.”
Towako-san grabbed my head to fix it in place, and began moving the bangle around one more time.
The pattern reappeared again in the otherwise blank stone when after it was held at a specific angle.
“Can you see anything?”
“I can see…a cross”
Satisfied with my uncertain answer, Towako-san separated herself from me and looked down at me with a triumphant humph.
“Told you so.”
I didn’t know how long exactly, but I guess her many years of experience with Relics hadn’t been for show. Rather than any frustration, I felt a newfound admiration for her.
Not only that, she was also able to determine why type of Relic it was just by looking at the pattern in the stone.
“So this is the type that gives you greater luck in the future if you share your good fortune with people now?”
I knew it. The lottery she won in the store was the result of her actions.
It didn’t look like she had shared her fortune while she waited for the traffic light, which meant that either winning the lottery was just a coincidence, or she already shared some of her luck and that was her reward.
But if that’s how it was, then the misfortune I had yesterday wasn’t because my luck was stolen. It was entirely because I just had awful luck. Somehow, that was another shock.
“Well, if that’s the way things are, there’s no need for us to worry about it.”
“Yeah. Still, it’s a little concerning that there always has to be some compensation with these Relics.”
Towako-san took a breath as she handed the bangle back to me.
That was a relief for now. I decided I would return the bangle to Toujou-san tomorrow. There was one thing I wanted to confirm before that, though.
“Towako-san, did you actually want to keep this Relic?”
She was a Relic collector who often went to great lengths to buy them.
It didn’t seem like there were many she wanted, but maybe this was one of the few she did.
I asked her with those thoughts in mind.
“Nah, maybe I’d want it if it were something that granted my wishes as I imagined them, or if it were powerful enough to alter the effects of other Relics.”
“Oh. You want relics like those?”
“Eh? …Yeah. Well, it’s not like I need something vague that simply improves luck.
Towako-san certainly didn’t seem like someone who would depend on something vague like luck. She had a certain manly decisiveness about her.
“What is it?”
“Nothing much. I was just thinking of how manly you were.”
“You do realize that’s not a compliment right?”
I jokingly laughed and finally put the bangle in my school bag—
My eyes met with Saki who was peeking out from the sitting room with her face half hidden.
“Y-you scared me. What are you doing?”
Saki said that, but looked at me with cold eyes. There was a hint of dissatisfaction on her otherwise expressionless face. I somehow could guess what she wanted to say.
“…guess there’s no helping it.”
I circled around Saki just like Towako-san did for me, held up the bangle in front of her eyes, and slowly rotated it.
“Don’t move your head, it’ll disappear. Pay attention, can you see what’s inside the stone?”
Really, acting like this at her age just because she was left out.
I sighed to myself while Saki looked for the pattern inside the stone set into the lucky bangle.
After staying silent for a while, Saki took a small step back.
“Are you having trouble seeing it?”
“I’m OK. I’m looking at it carefully right now. So stay still.”
Putting it like that made it sound like I had a choice in the matter. I was also pulled down with her when she leaned forward.
“…are you done yet?”
“Just a little more…”
Saki seemed happy and continued staring into the stone.
Something really nice happened today. A guy called out to me on my way home from school.
Perhaps this was the start of my new love, a blessing from the heavens after my heartbreak.
He is, no doubt, my soulmate.
After all, he knows about Relics—
I updated the blog without writing the last sentence. The part about Relics was a secret between just the two of us.
I thought he gave off a creepy feeling when I thought he was following me, but when I talked to him, he was nothing like that at all. In fact, he seemed like he had a nice personality, and had a good looking face to boot.
He was also interested in my bangle.
There were also other people who had taken notice of it before, but they were only interested in it as an accessory.
He was the only person that understood what it really was.
But that’s because he was special. If fated encounters really existed in the world, then surely this was one of them.
This is truly a lucky bangle. Not only did it bring me luck, it also brought me a new love.
But I needed to become even luckier so that there wouldn’t be a repeat of what happened with Kurata-kun.
That’s why I wouldn’t get too deeply involved with him right now.
I even lied a little to get away from him today. It’s all for the sake of being as lucky as possible for our next meeting.
We made a promise to meet again.
That’s why I need to stockpile luck for the sake of that moment.
Even if I have to steal it from other people.
All for the sake of my happiness—
I went to Tsukumodo right after school the next day and waited for Toujou-san. We agreed to meet after school yesterday, but never decided on a specific time. I eventually ended up waiting two hours in the shop wondering when she was going to arrive.
Since there was work to do at the store, I didn’t really have any problems waiting. In fact, there were many more customers than usual today, leaving me with little free time.
“Is it because of this?”
I carefully looked at the bangle on my wrist.
I wasn’t wearing it for any particular reason, but it seemed to be having some effect. Either that, or this was a complete coincidence.
…nah, there’s no way this shop would suddenly become busy through sheer coincidence. It was probably blessed with luck due to this bangle’s power. But quite frankly, I couldn’t say for sure that the store was doing better because of my luck. It wasn’t like winning the lottery or something where I could clearly say I was lucky.
“Thank you very much.”
I saw Saki thank some customers and finish dealing with them without any problems. It had been a long time since I saw her looking after any customers. She was still as expressionless as ever, of course, but still looked lively somehow.
I took back what I thought about her before; that’s just how she was.
I didn’t think it would be appropriate to interfere with her work.
Leaving the customer service to Saki, I decided to use the internet on the laptop since the rental period was about to run out.
Come to think of it, I hadn’t checked Toujou-san’s blog since then. I pulled up her blog from the browser history—
“He is, no doubt, my soulmate.”
I heard a voice read the last line out loud and hid the laptop screen in a panic. But judging by Saki’s chilly gaze, it was clear she already knew whose blog I was looking at. I hadn’t even noticed her standing behind me.
Just as I had gotten better at tailing people, Saki had gotten better at erasing her presence and standing behind me. We were both showing improvements in useless skills.
“I-it’s not like she has to be talking about me, you know.”
“You’re right. She didn’t write who she was talking about. It was just someone she met on her way back from school.”
“Anyway, please get back to work, Mr. Soulmate.”
Her voice dripping with sarcasm, Saki went back to work.
I took a sidelong glance at the blog. This was yesterday’s update, no question about it.
…What the hell. Soulmate? Why would she write something like that? Well, if she were superstitious, I guess it would make sense for her to see it a destined meeting.
But Saki also seeing it was plain bad luck. I’d get in trouble if I tried to slack off now.
I was just about to close the laptop and get back to work when—
The comment section of her blog caught my eye.
“What luck? How stupid.” “My luck’s been terrible ever since you started getting ahead of yourself.” “Meeting you was unfortunate, more like. You’re so delusional, it’s gross.” “We all know you give everyone bad luck.” “Go die.” “It’s your fault everyone’s so unlucky.” “You’re bad news.” “Toujou, you bitch, I know this is you. Don’t think you can get away with breaking your promises like that. I had a really bad time because of you and I’ll make you pay for that tomorrow. After you’ve taken responsibility for everything else.”
The abusive comments continued on and on.
“What’s up with this?”
I told Towako-san about the malicious comments directed at Toujou-san and asked for her opinion.
She inferred what I meant with my vague question
“Like I said yesterday, this Relic can only exchange luck. It doesn’t have the ability to make its owner unlucky. Of course, that also means there aren’t any side effects.”
“Not to doubt your judgment, but what if it had some other ability?”
“You sound pretty doubtful to me.”
Still, Towako-san didn’t take offence and looked at the stone inside the bangle one more time before shaking her head.
“The answer’s the same as yesterday.”
“Well, it’s not like I know everything about Relic abilities myself. I’m sure there’s something I don’t know or could have overlooked. What do you think?”
At her prompt, I told her what I thought.
“I know you said that this type of bangle doesn’t have any side effects, but what happens if the luck can’t be exchanged? Will the owner become unlucky instead?”
“OK, so there’s no chance of something happening if someone were to lose the bangle?”
“What do you mean by something”?
“You said that people have a fixed amount of luck in their lives and that there’s an upper limit that can be used at any one time, right? Assuming that those times are set intervals like every month, or every year or something. Then it would be fair to say that the amount of luck that can be used within those time periods is also fixed, right?
“If she loses the bangle after having lucky occurrences one after another, wouldn’t that mean it’s going to be followed by a series of unlucky events?”
“Makes sense, I never even considered that. I won’t say it’s impossible…”
“…but I can’t say it’s probable either.”
She gave me a vague answer.
“The only thing I can say for sure is that we’ve done enough.”
“If what you’re saying is correct, then the fact that this is happening to her is because her good and bad luck are being balanced out? That’s how it has to be. On the other hand, If you’re wrong, then this is just a coincidence – no, actually, I’d say it was inevitable this time.”
“Inevitable? You mean her being targeted like this?”
“That’s not what I’m saying. Something unfortunate was bound to happen because of her excessive good luck—even if it had nothing at all to do with the Relic. It’s because people aren’t meant to stay lucky for so long. It’s no surprise that especially fortunate people tend to be envied and disliked by everyone around them.”
It was true that you couldn’t be lucky for your entire life. Where there was fortune, there was also misfortune. There was no such thing as never having to go through unlucky events. If there were people who had especially good luck, people envious of that fortune were sure come about.
I understood her logic just fine. The fact, was, however, that this abuse started after I borrowed the bangle from her. I couldn’t believe that these events were unrelated and that there was nothing I could do since it was just a coincidence.
Saki, who had been silent until now, spoke up.
“Let’s go to her school and return the Relic. You won’t feel better unless we do that, right?”
She was right. I had to return this bangle as soon as I could.
The longer we waited the longer she would be unlucky.
Saki and I headed over to Toujou-san’s school. Quite a lot of time had passed since school ended. The school grounds were deserted and there were barely any active clubs at this hour. I saw several lights on the first floor of the building, but pretty much all of them were turned off on the second floor.
Toujou-san had probably already gone home. Despite the comments were written on her blog, there wasn’t any commotion indicating that something had actually happened. Still, I couldn’t get myself to calm down.
I looked towards one of the classrooms with the lights and decided to ask one of the remaining people when…
The very person we were looking for came into sight.
When I saw that she was in the school infirmary, the bad feeling that I had became even worse.
Perhaps she heard my voice, but Toujou, who was sitting on the chair looked outside. When she saw us, she approached the window with a surprised expression.
“Kurusu-kun…why…? Oh right. I promised to go to the store today didn’t I? I’m sorry. Something urgent came up.”
“That’s alright. Umm, is that an injury?”
When I casually asked about it, she responded with an expression like it was no big deal.
“Oh this? Don’t worry about it. I just slipped on the stairs and injured my hand.”
“Your hand? Did someone…”
“Not at all. It was just an accident. Really, it’s not that bad.”
She had a bandage wrapped around her left hand. There was a little blood leaking into the bandage. Maybe the fact that the injured hand was the one that had the bangle was a sign…but maybe that was just me overthinking it.
“Why are you apologizing?”
“Oh…it’s just that…I was thinking you got injured right after I borrowed the lucky bangle from you…”
“No way that has anything to do with it.”
Toujou-san denied it with a laugh; she didn’t seem to have much faith in the lucky bangle’s power. I guess that was only natural since she was treating it as just an accessory.
“Sorry about that. I should have told you I couldn’t come, but I never got your contact information. Do you want to swap email addresses now?”
She took out a cellphone. Since I didn’t have any reason to refuse, I also took out mine.
“Can your phone use infrared?”
To be honest, I didn’t really know that much about the phone’s functions.
“Give it here.”
She easily handled my phone and exchanged addresses with me using infrared with experience that suggested she had used was used to doing this.
“Now you just need to confirm it.”
“Alright. But first I need to give this back to you.”
I took the phone back from her, put it back in my pocket without checking it, and handed over the lucky bangle. Rather than exchanging contact info, this took precedence.
She took the bangle from me and slipped it over her injured left hand. Just like she said before, the injury didn’t seem too bad.
“Sorry for all the trouble.”
“No worries. Umm…do you want me to take you back home?”
I was still worried about the malicious comments on her blog.
“Sorry, I’ve got a few things to take care of, plus I’m waiting for someone.”
“Ah, I see. Well, see you later then.”
“Yeah. I’ll be sure stop by the shop some time.”
Saki and I separated from Toujou-san and left together.
“Good for you.”
“Yeah, I’m glad her injury wasn’t too bad.”
“Not that…her phone number.”
“…forget about it. More importantly, what are we going to do now?”
It didn’t sound like she was asking if we were going to go back to the store.
“Toujou-san’s Relic just exchanges her luck. It might make her a little luckier than everyone else, but no one’s is going to be cursed with bad luck even if she overuses it. There shouldn’t be any issues with letting her keep it.”
Towako-san was the one who confirmed the bangle’s power. Since Toujou-san’s injuries were light, I might have just been worrying too much. I was still concerned about the comments on her blog, but seeing that she was alright made me think it wasn’t going to turn into anything big.
Saki didn’t seem too satisfied with my answer.
“What are you thinking about?”
“…I noticed this reading the blog, but she always used to write about how unlucky her life was. Then, after getting the bangle, it felt like she starting writing about how amazingly lucky she was all of a sudden.”
“Yeah. She got a Relic to increase her luck. Wouldn’t that be natural?”
“Toujou-san would have to do good deeds every day in order to exchange that for good luck right?”
“Well yeah, isn’t that what she was doing?”
“Her good deeds get exchanged for luck. You’re saying that like it’s completely obvious, but even if she knew about the Relic’s ability, it’s not like she’d do nothing but nice things for people. She would think it was just a superstition.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Tell me, how did she manage to get lucky every single day without knowing anything?”
“You’re saying that she took advantage of the Relic’s power knowing that her luck would increase if she did good deeds? She told me she didn’t know anything about Relics.”
“What makes you believe that? How much do you really know about her?”
I couldn’t explain why I believed her.
“Hey, Tokiya. Were you doubtful of this Relic’s power? Or did you feel guilty when Toujou-san became unlucky after you borrowed the Relic from her?
I couldn’t answer Saki’s questions right away.
Yeah, maybe that was it.
Maybe my hesitance was born out of my guilty conscience.
“I’m sorry. It’s not like I really doubt what Toujou-san was saying, but didn’t you think something was off?
“Yeah, I agree. You’re right.”
Why was I trying to convince myself that it was all over? We hadn’t resolved anything yet.
I certainly couldn’t say that my guilty feelings were gone, but that didn’t mean I could accept the current situation. Just doubting things wouldn’t do us any good.
The Relic that Toujou-san had was definitely one that was only capable of bringing good luck. But according to the blog comments, there were still people who ran into misfortune because of her.
Not only that, even I was unlucky enough to almost get run over by a truck the first time I followed her. I don’t know if she actually stole my luck when I bumped into her that day, but we were too hasty in just dismissing it as a coincidence.
…there was no way to say for sure. That was only natural since we couldn’t confirm something as vague as good or bad luck to begin with.
The only thing we could say for certain was that the Relic she had was one that exchanged luck.
…but that was the problem. Nothing unfortunate was supposed to happen to her as long as she used the Relic correctly.
Then, I saw something unexpected in the distance.
It was Toujou-san.
We saw her in the infirmary a moment ago, but there she was, running with a tense expression as she disappeared behind the school building.
“She’s over there!”
A voice rang out and Toujou-san ran towards the gym
I no longer had any time to sort out my thoughts.
I was running for my life.
It shouldn’t have ended up like this.
What went wrong? Why was this happening to me!?
I only borrowed a little luck from everyone.
All the bad luck was just too much, it was unbearable. I would never be lucky if I didn’t borrow luck from other people.
“Where did she go!?”
I heard someone shouting for me.
I ran towards the gym.
“Found her! She’s over there!”
Another shout, followed by the sound of people running. They were all chasing after me.
Kurata-kun’s voice was also mixed in with the crowd’s.
This was all because of what happened yesterday. I promised to go to the arcade with him yesterday, but decided to ignore him afterward since I wasn’t interested anymore.
He then went to the arcade without me and took a huge loss on the coin game. The problem was that he had borrowed some money from his upperclassmen bragging that there was no way he was going to lose. As a result, he ended up owing a large amount of money to his upperclassmen.
It would be nice if that was all there was to it.
I didn’t care if he and his upperclassmen lost money. Wasn’t my problem.
But he still blamed that loss on me, and demanded that I pay him the money he lost.
Why was his loss suddenly my fault!?
It was because Kurata-kun had his eyes on my lucky bangle; I told him about it on our first date. Of course, I didn’t tell him it was actually a Relic with special abilities, so there’s no way he could have known that.
In other words, it was just a pretext; he just wanted an excuse to extort money from me. But even if I pointed that out to him, nothing would change. He wouldn’t settle down until he took the money he lost back from me.
I was eventually cornered behind the gym. Kurata-kun and his goons glared at me.
“Hey, say something!”
Kurata-kun pushed my shoulder. I lost my balance and fell. But that was good luck for me, and bad luck for him.
Because I got the chance to steal his luck.
“You’ll get unlucky if you touch me!”
The moment I said that,
There was the sound of something exploding in the incinerator behind the gym. It looked like someone had left a spray can in there.
I didn’t suffer any damage at all since I was lying on the ground. But Kurata-kun, who was still standing, got blown away by the explosion and had debris rain down on him. He fell to the ground clutching at his face; I could see the blood between his hands.
Several people ran over to him.
“What are you laughing at!?”
One of the girls in the crowd grabbed my hair and tried to force me to stand up.
She touched me. I stole her luck.
She let out a yelp and pulled her hand back. There was a hair pin stuck in it.
“That’s why I told you I would make you unlucky.”
My hair fell down with a swish. I glared at them from between the strands.
“What? Looking at me like that. Do your worst!”
The explosion must have put them on guard, so this time, they forced me to stand up against my will and tossed me into the gym.
I slid across the floor as they threw me into the building. The rest of the crowd followed shortly after.
They surrounded me and began kicking me.
Going through terrible experiences like this. I knew it, my luck awful.
It really was the worst.
I needed even more. I would never find happiness if I didn’t steal even more luck.
What was going on?
I couldn’t make any sense of the scene happening before my eyes.
Before I could even think to help her, I felt a twinge of doubt.
Why did unlucky things happen to people around Toujou-san?
Was it really just a coincidence? No. There’s no way it could be. Something like this couldn’t be just a coincidence.
Then what was it?
It had to be, I decided, because of the Relic’s power.
But it was strange. That particular Relic was only supposed to exchange luck. The more she shared her fortune with others, the more she would be blessed with fortune.
There’s no way she would have been able to increase her own luck by stealing it from others.
But how else could you explain what was happening now?
That’s right. She must have brought bad luck to other people through her own free will.
You’ll get unlucky if you touch me—
Those words supported the disastrous spectacle in front of my eyes.
Why? Why was Toujou-san acting like that now?
My thoughts were in disorder. None of this made any sense.
But there was only thing I could say for certain.
I must have made some sort of mistake—
It all started when we came across the bangle on someone named Yukie’s blog.
The bangle was actually a relic that had the ability to call forth luck.
I then happen to run into the blog owner, Toujou Yukie by chance and followed her. There I saw how she had the luck to cross the street every time without once waiting for any traffic lights.
The second time I followed her, she was once again never stopped at any lights. This time I succeeded in making contact with her and ended up getting the opportunity to see the relic she had in person. I then confirmed that it was a relic with the ability to bless the user with greater luck if they shared their current luck with others.
In other words, there was no chance that she was stealing luck from other people.
But there were still lots of comments on her blog from people claiming that she made them unlucky. Until a moment ago, we thought those were comments from people who were jealous of her. But the events happening now only lent credence those comments.
But the relic she had was only supposed to exchange luck.
If that weren’t true, then it would mean that Towako-san made a mistake.
That was the premise we had and it was supposed to be absolute.
…but was it really? Was it really absolute? Seeing as something that absolutely wasn’t supposed to happen was occurring before my eyes, there’s no way it could be.
So then was there some other possibility? In addition to being able to exchange luck, was it possible that should make other people unlucky at the same time?
If that was true, then everything would make sense.
If she had two different Relics—
But there was an inconsistency in that line of thought.
Certainly the original premise was that the relic she had was one that exchanged luck. But that didn’t necessarily mean it was the only Relic she owned.
But I already thought of that earlier and ruled it out.
However, the current situation could not be explained by her owning two Relics. And that was because it would mean she was deliberately giving everyone bad luck.
Why? It was because she didn’t know anything about Relics. There was no way she could have intentionally cursed people with bad luck if she didn’t know anything at all. That would mean she somehow learned about relics after we met yesterday.
But that wouldn’t match chronologically with the comments on the blog. She had been causing people to become unlucky much before that.
But then that wouldn’t match the fact that she didn’t know anything about Relics.
There was a counter argument for every single one of my ideas.
What was I supposed to believe—?
Saki’s earlier question came back to me.
If I considered what she said, then it would mean that Toujou-san was lying. If that was the case, it would make sense that she already had both a Relic that exchanged luck and a Relic that stole luck from others.
But that couldn’t be possible.
She didn’t know anything about Relics.
That was proven when I asked her about it at Tsukumodo before.
I actually did have a reason to believe her.
I didn’t tell Saki this. No, I was worried about the issue we had before and couldn’t tell her. The truth was that I committed a breach of protocol when I asked Toujou-san if she knew about Relics.
I was using a relic that could hear the true voices of people’s hearts, Mind’s Voice.
Not even I was that stupid.
I didn’t think someone who was abusing the power of a Relic would easily reveal what they knew in their first meeting with me.
That’s why I took Mind’s Voice from the underground warehouse while we were looking for Towako-san.
The Mind’s Voice was my proof. She really didn’t know anything about Relics.
That’s why I knew she wasn’t deliberately using a Relic that could cause misfortune.
But the present situation didn’t reflect that.
How was I supposed to explain what was happening now—?
Then, Saki spoke up next to me.
“Hey, Tokiya. It’s strange.”
“Yeah, that relic shouldn’t have brought bad…”
Saki shook her head.
“Look at her hand.”
I looked at Toujou-san’s hand.
On her hand was…
“—it’s not there.”
I looked at it one more time to makes sure. It was definitely missing.
There was something missing from her hand that was supposed to be there.
The bandage that was supposed to be wrapped around her hand from earlier was missing.
Had she taken it off? No, she didn’t have any scars on her hand. That injury had been enough to make her bleed.
That wasn’t the only thing. There was one more difference between the girl in front of me and the one in my memories.
I knew Toujou-san had an injured left hand. There was no doubt since she used my phone with her right. I remembered her putting bangle over her injured, or in other words, her left hand.
But the girl in front of us had the bangle on…
“Her right hand…”
What did that mean?
I finally realized where I went wrong.
I took out my cellphone to confirm my thoughts.
I needed to confirm her contact info, no, I needed to confirm her name that she exchanged with me through infrared earlier.
There I saw…
I saw both the kanji and the way it was supposed to be read.
Then who on earth was the girl being bullied in front of us?
The voice behind me answered my thoughts.
I turned to the girl who shouted behind me—Toujou Sachie. The girl being bullied before our eyes,—she called her Yukie.
Only then did I clearly understand what had happened.
There were in fact, two separate Relics.
But there were also two separate Relic owners
The first was the one who owned the Relic that exchanged luck, Toujou Sachie. The other one was the one who had the Relic to steal other peoples’ luck, Toujou Yukie. She was also the one who was running the blog.
I was trying to think of two different people as one.
That explained the discrepancies between the blog and reality.
The person I followed the first day was probably Yukie and the one I followed on the second day was Sachie.
Right. There probably wasn’t any point in saying it now, but the two of them were like peas in a pod.
Then another question popped into my head.
Who was that soulmate of hers that showed up in the blog?
If we assumed it wasn’t me, then…
“Man, things are looking pretty bad here.”
Then, one more intruder showed up at the gym.
My older sister rushed into the gym first followed by another guy and a girl that I didn’t know. The person who entered last was—
He was the person I met yesterday, the one that knew about Relics. He was just my type and I knew he was the one for me.
I was certain he had come to save me.
I shouted for Shun-kun and desperately reached out. I couldn’t rely on my sister or those other strangers. I was going to depend on my soulmate.
“Oh my. And I thought I told them not to get involved with you.”
“You! Did you know this was going to happen!?”
Why was Kurata shouting at Shun-kun? Were the two of them friends?
“See, I heard them planning to give you a bad time in front of the convenience store and I tried telling them not to get involved with you. I told them you would bring bad luck.”
“You weren’t specific at all! None of this would have happened if you had just told us!”
Kurata-kun held his blood covered face and laid his anger bare.
“You’re the one who didn’t believe me. You’re the one who didn’t listen when I told you to stay away from them.”
Shun-kun laughed lightly.
“I didn’t warn you guys not to approach her because I was worried. It was only because it would be a pain if it ended up causing a commotion. Well, at least it’s just a pain and not something that’s impossible to deal with.”
He was just someone I met yesterday — that’s it.
He knew about Relics and said he collected them
He was just my type, my soulmate — or so I thought.
But that was all wrong — all wrong. He didn’t come here to help me.
The only thing he had his eyes on was my Relic. He didn’t care about anything else.
Shun-kun looked behind him.
Then, a girl who had remained behind him until now showed herself. She was a small girl, short enough to keep herself hidden behind his back. She took a step forward with downcast eyes.
Who was she?
Before I could ask, my eyes fell on the item she was holding. It was a musical instrument of some sort.
It looked like a flute, or maybe an ocarina. It was small enough to be held in the girl’s small hands, but was roughly made and couldn’t be called pretty at all.
She looked at Shun-kun once to confirm.
He simply nodded in response.
The girl quietly raised the instrument to her mouth and softly blew into it.
“Now, who will lady luck favor, I wonder?”
Suddenly, a painful noise rang inside my head—
We were still inside the gym, but I was now looking up.
A countless number of glittering objects dancing down.
It took me a few seconds to realize that they were shards falling from the shattered glass ceiling.
The deadly glass shards rained down from above, shining like jewels
My entire field of vision was dyed red
—but that didn’t happen in reality.
I owned a relic that showed me images of the future.
My right eye was artificial.
A Relic named “Vision” had been implanted where once my real eye had been.
“Vision” would show me the immediate future. However, it wouldn’t just show me all of the future. I couldn’t foresee the winning number of a lottery, or the winner of a sports match. Not even the weather. I couldn’t see any future events at will either.
But there was one type of future I always saw without fail.
That was, when I or someone I knew was in danger. At those times, it showed me the moment of their death.
When that happened, a pain would run through my head, much like static TV noise, followed by a cut-in of the future. That’s when I would take another action other than shown in the vision to try and prevent the predicted death.
I yelled out the moment I came back to my senses.
Something cracked over our heads. No, it was the sound of something shattering.
The ceiling in the gym was specially made with reinforced glass. But that didn’t change the fact that it was still glass.
I knew what was happening without even needing to look.
This is what Vision showed me happening.
I knew what was going to break.
I knew what was going to rain down from the ceiling.
I knew exactly what kind of horrible event was about to happen.
But I didn’t have any time to raise my eyes, nor did I have the ability save everyone.
I began to move without thinking.
Grabbing Saki next to me, I fled to the corner of the gym as fast as I could.
I ran with her and took refuge underneath the second floor walkway in order to avoid getting directly hit by the glass shards. However, I overshot and slammed the back of my head into the wall.
My head shook violently.
My head was knocked back and my field of vision turned towards the ceiling.
I looked upon the shattered glass raining down. I felt like I could hear Saki silently screaming in my arms.
The falling glass shards cut into the students standing on the gym floor.
The world was dyed in red.
Nothing at all had changed from the scene that Vision showed me.
Without even having time to grit my teeth at how powerless I was, I lost consciousness.
I couldn’t understand what was going on.
The ground was covered in countless shards of glass.
Kurata-kun and the others were collapsed on the floor, covered in blood.
The ones that were still conscious were writhing on the ground clutching their faces and heads.
I, on the other hand, was completely unhurt. There wasn’t a scratch on me.
The glass shards were spread all around me, almost as if they had avoided me.
But I wasn’t the only one safe.
There was glass all around my older sister, Sachie, and she didn’t suffer a single injury either.
“Congratulations. It seems Lady Luck did smile on the two of you.”
Not a single shard had fallen in the area where the widely grinning Shun-kun and the girl next to him were.
“How nice. The two of you are safe.”
Shun-kun stepped on the glass shards and walked towards us.
“It’s all thanks to this lucky bangle.”
Shun-kun first held up up Sachie’s hand with the bangle.
“You’re usually nice to people, I suppose. Thanks to that, you were able to come out unharmed even in a situation like this.”
Next, he held up my hand with the bangle.
“You were saved because you stole their luck. If you hadn’t done that, maybe a few of them would have also come out safe.”
I couldn’t say that wasn’t true.
I couldn’t think enough to argue. Perhaps it really was true.
Finally, after holding up both of our hands, Shun-kun spoke.
“How do you feel? —how does it feel being the only ones without any injuries?”
We flinched at his words.
“Everyone else ended up so hurt. Well, there was one guy who skillfully managed to get away, but just about everyone else is badly hurt. All because they didn’t have that special luck that you two have.”
Was he blaming us? The two of us especially lucky sisters who managed to get away unhurt.
“The only difference between you and those guys is that Relic. But while you guys are unhurt, everyone else is badly injured. How horribly unfair. How do the two of you feel as you look at this awful scene? ”
The first to move was Sachie.
She pulled away from Shun-kun, took off the bangle, and threw it at him.
“I don’t need this. Why should I? It’s just something I bought from a 100 yen shop.”
“Ahaha. A hundred yen shop, huh. I guess that makes you luckier than anyone else huh. Getting ahold of a Relic by sheer coincidence. Wait, or would that be bad luck?”
Shun-kun turned his eyes to me.
I took the bangle off as if possessed and gave it to him just like Sachie did.
“Now you know. Being unfair is dishonest, isn’t it? I’m glad we came to an understanding.”
Shun-kun took the two bangles, got up, and left without incident with the girl in tow.
“…I’m glad.” I let out a sigh of relief.
I didn’t need it anymore. It was all that bangle’s fault that I had to suffer through this.
“…I’m glad.” Sachie muttered the same words I did.
“I feel bad for everyone, but I’m glad you’re alright, Yukie. It’s all thanks to that bangle.”
Thanks to the bangle?
But I thought all of this happening to us was the bangle’s fault…
People had different ways of accepting good and bad luck.
I couldn’t understand it.
Why did my older sister think that way?
Maybe we had different amounts of luck to begin with. Maybe that’s why she could see this as fortunate, because she always had lucky things happen to her.
…My eyes fell onto the injury on Sachie’s hand.
I panicked a little when she fell down the stairs, but I should have stolen more of her luck after all.
But I couldn’t do that anymore.
Losing the bangle like that…I knew it. My luck really was the worst.
Everything had already ended by the time I regained consciousness.
Ambulances had to be called and teachers gather in the gym, turning the incident into a huge commotion. However, we weren’t brought in for questioning thanks to Sachie explaining that we were completely unrelated.
I finally got the chance to talk to her after everything calmed down.
From listening to her story, I learned that Sachie and the owner of the blog, Yukie, were identical twins.
She had gotten ahold of the bangle completely by chance, and in her words, didn’t know anything about Relics.
Yukie, on the other hand, bought hers at a certain shop and did in fact know about Relics. She might have gotten it from that sister shop that Towako-san talked about before.
At any rate, it was ironic that the twin sisters ended up with related Relics completely independently. I could only say this now that everything was over, but maybe the fact that there were related relics was the biggest hint we had for this incident. Well, I might have realized it if I had been more perceptive.
Just as I figured before, the person I followed on the first day was Toujou Yukie and on the second day, I followed Toujou Sachie.
The fact that we found Sachie’s student handbook while we were searching for Yukie was a complete coincidence. Now that I thought of it, she did say she lost her handbook on her way to school. We found it after school had ended.
Did Yukie also feel like she was lucky? Or did she regret her misfortune when she thought about how she lost the Relic?
The blog didn’t get any updates after that, so I had no way of knowing.
A sense of unease was growing inside me.
It was about those other two.
I wondered who they were. They were nowhere to be found when I finally came to.
It seemed Sachie didn’t know who those people were either. They knew about Relics and were now in possession of Sachie’s relic that exchanged luck, and Yukie’s relic that stole luck.
I wasn’t saying that there wasn’t anyone that knew about Relics besides us, but they were ominous existences.
Not only that, it seemed like they also did something to cause the glass ceiling to shatter.
Who on earth were they?
“How long do you plan on daydreaming?”
Now that the rental period for the laptop had ended I no longer had anything to do at work. Saki admonished me as I was lost in thought.
I don’t need to hear the Saki-like line that I should do work while I’m at work.
There’s nothing I can do if there aren’t any customers.
Then, as if to deny my assertion, someone opened the shop door.
“Look, it’s a customer.”
“Yeah, I see.”
I got up to greet the customer who came in, and froze.
The person standing there was none other than Toujou Yukie.
“That’s strange…I could swear it was around here.”
“Are you looking for anything?” I asked her.
“Oh, I’m looking for a Relic, of course. I thought the shop I bought stuff from before was around here, but can’t really remember. Do you know which one I’m talking about? Ah, this place also sells relics right? Do you have some? If so, could you sell one to me? Something like—“
I was at a loss for words. Did she learn nothing from that horrible experience she went through? Or was she just completely clueless.
“—a Relic that will make me lucky.”
I knew it. She didn’t learn anything at all from her experience.
Luck alone would never lead anyone to happiness.