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Urashima Tarou is a Japanese fairy tale.
Long ago, a man named Urashima Tarou found a turtle on the beach being tortured by a group of children, and rescued it. Later, while he was fishing on a boat as always, the grateful turtle came and told him he would carry him on his back for him to see the underwater palace known as the Dragon Palace. At the palace, the princess, Otohime, thanked him for saving the turtle, and was entertained for many days with a rich feast and dances performed by various sea creatures.
But remembering his mother and father and feeling homesick, he bid his farewell to Otohime. The princess tried to dissuade him from leaving, but finally let him go with a parting gift, a mysterious box called tamatebako which he was told never to open.
When Tarou returned to his hometown, everything had changed. His home was gone, his mother and father had perished, and the people he knew were nowhere to be seen. Thinking that opening the box might do some good, and not remembering the princess’s warning, he lifted the lid of the box. A cloud of white smoke arose and touched his face, turning him to a wrinkled old man, his hair and beard turned completely white.
For the boy’s baton relay, Kaburagi’s team formed a huddle and gave a warcry. Uwah… One team was very out of place here…
The starting signal fired and the athletes all shot off at once. Ohhh dear! Team Kaburagi’s first runner was trying too hard and tripped over! His baton went flying through the air! Even if he ran to pick it back up, he just lost Team Kaburagi some crucial seconds in the race. Uwahh, uwahhhh, I couldn’t imagine how he was feeling right now…
When that boy finished his lap his face was sheet white. Anybody would be. But Kaburagi just slapped the boy on the back in consolation. He even whispered something in the boy’s ear. I guess he wasn’t angry about the mistake. Thank goodness, boy-I-don’t-know.
When it was Kaburagi’s turn, as the anchor of the race, his team was in 4th place thanks to the Spartan-like efforts of every runner since. Kaburagi took the baton in hand and began running like the wind, immediately passing somebody to 3rd place. Before long he caught up to 2nd place, and then brought himself in range of 1st place. He was so fast!
The crowd roared in excitement. The goal was just in front. Could he do it? He did ittttt!
When Kaburagi broke past the goal tape all of his runners ran up to surround him. Ah, the first runner was openly crying. He must have felt so responsible… Kaburagi saw him and smiled with a thumbs up. Yet another person joined the Kaburagi Cult that day.
My next game was the ball-toss. Since it was a team game there would be no accommodating for me! I’d show them I could win for real!
I looked to see who our opponents were only to notice that Wakaba-chan was standing next to Enjou of all people. Eh-, Enjou was going to be competing in the ball toss!?
With Enjou standing next to her, hitting him with the sacks accidentally would be too big of a risk. Even the girls who had come in determined to throw balls at Wakaba-chan gave up and meekly aimed at the basket like they were supposed to.
Could it be that he was looking after her? Was it a coincidence?
Unremarkably, we came 3rd place.
The costume race was held in the afternoon. I was looking forward to seeing just how Iwamuro-kun would look after they were done with him~
One by one, each class filed out.
Even though my class was supposed to be the Town Musicians of Bremen, for some reason every animal had a head of roll-like locks.
What the heck was that supposed to be!?
“Class Rep! Class Rep!”
“What’s wrong, Kisshouin-san?”
It was so strange that I came all the way over to demand an explanation.
“Why do all of those animals have that strange hair attached to them!?”
“Ohh, that. It’s supposed to be your hair, Kisshouin-san.”
I knew it!
“You’re the face of our class, so I guess they wanted to show that off? Hm, or maybe more like honour you? Mmn, something like that.”
“Something like that, you say… I have heard nothing about this, you know!”
“Aaah, well, I guess they thought that you’d tried to stop them if you knew. Sorry, Kisshouin-san. I mentioned to our class about how Iwamuro-kun was wearing a wig in your hairstyle, but then they got weirdly competitive. You were in their class, so Iwamuro-kun was intruding, or something like that.”
“Are your heads on right?!”
What were these guys smoking?! And anyway, their wigs weren’t anything like the quality of Iwamuro-kun’s. Rather than the Rococo Queen they looked more like the King of Reggae!
Look! They were getting weird laughs already! It even felt like I was being laughed at!
“Kisshouin-san, the race is starting. C’mon, let’s cheer.”
Even if he told me that, I couldn’t bring myself to cheer properly for those animals with the weird rolls attached to their heads.
“Oh! Iwamuro-kun came out!”
Iwamuro Wendy burst forward with splendid golden locks and a sky blue dress. In no time, he overtook the Reggae Artists of Bremen. The one in the full-faced donkey mask was clearly dragging the team down. Must have been oxygen deprivation.
Actually Wakaba-chan was competing too. The theme that her class picked was Urashima Tarou. Behind Urashima Tarou and Otohime was Wakaba-chan, plastered head to toe in sea bream, and snapper, and other sea creatures. Wakaba-chan…
I had wanted to say a few words now that my classmates were finished with the costume race, but my three-legged race was coming up next. I decided instead to use these feelings to fuel my performance in the race instead.
While I was heading to Ru’ne-chan and thinking about the difference between ringlets and dreadlocks, Kaburagi approached me from in front.
And for some reason called out to me. Ru’ne-chan was showing consideration in a weird way again, and put some distance between us.
As always, there was a huge crowd of girls gathered around him from a distance away. Was he the Pied Piper of Hamlin or something.
Kaburagi placed a hand on my shoulder. The girls around us started squealing in response.
“I finally realised your ultimate goal for these school festivals. You’re trying to complete the Chinese Zodiac, aren’t you!”
Suddenly grabbing me and then talking about ultimate goals, or the Zodiac… As usual I had no idea what this guy was talking about.
Kaburagi paid no heed to my confusion though, and nodded to himself knowingly.
“You weren’t competing in the costume race this year so I thought you had run away from the nose problem. Who would have thought that you’d be using copies of yourself to compete instead. Last year were the rat and sheep, and now this year you have the Bremen animals. It didn’t take long for me to realise you were aiming for the Chinese Zodiac.”
What the hell was he on about?! Was he actually an idiot!? Not once had I thought about completing the Chinese Zodiac in costume since the day I was born!
And to begin with, look carefully! Wasn’t there a cat in the Bremen animals? There was no cat in the Chinese Zodiac! Everyone knows that the Rat had cheated the Cat out of it!
And why was he nodded to himself again!? No, stop, stop coming up with your weird conclusions. It’s scary!
“You made up the numbers this time, so you might make it before graduation. Well, do your best.”
Satisfied, he pat me on the shoulders before walking away like some war hero. Come baaaaack!
By no means was my goal in high school life to complete something as stupid as the Chinese Zodiac in costume! Don’t lump me in with athletic carnival maniacs like you! No normal person behaves like this! Wait, Kaburagi!
“Um, Reika-sama… I’m sorry for interrupting while you’re still feeling moved and all, but if we don’t hurry…” Ru’ne-chan said hesitantly while I was frozen on the spot. Huh? Moved?
I guess they couldn’t really hear our conversation over all of the cheering.
I could hear girls here and there commenting enviously, ‘Kaburagi-sama came to cheer Reika-sama on’.
“Isn’t that great, Reika-sama?” said Ru’ne-chan.
The only thing that happened was that an idiot arbitrarily branded me as some strange woman who was fixated on completing the Chinese Zodiac in costumes!
Thanks to Kaburagi I was feeling out of it during the three-legged race and didn’t do as well as I’d hoped.
“It’s a shame,” consoled Ru’ne-chan, “After Kaburagi-sama came to cheer you on too.”
I told you, that wasn’t it…
There might have been troubles along the way, but the Athletics Carnival moved into its final stage. It was time for the cavalry battle. The teams trained by Kaburagi were raring to go. This was what everyone had been waiting for. Even Kaburagi was standing watch with folded arms.
Fellow Stalking Horse appeared. The cheering got even louder. Even though he had bad blood with the Pivoine President, Fellow Stalking Horse was popular. Why. Was it the face?
Apparently Fellow Stalking Horse had been nicknamed ‘Prince’ without me hearing about it. Prince… I guess maybe based on Prince Arima of Asuka?
The real Prince Arima was tragic, though. Was that okay? Oh, but I suppose Prince Arima was like a stalking horse as well. I guess that actually made it the perfect nickname then? They gave off completely different images though. Not that it would fit the likes of Afrodite better.
Anyway, Prince Arima took the headbands off his opponents, one by one. His aim was none other than the teams trained by Kaburagi!
But the two teams surrounded him. Despite that, he grabbed the headband of one with his right hand, and used a daring headbutt to crush the other.
There was even a standing ovation for his gallantry and prowess. Even Kaburagi, who had just seen his personally trained team crushed, was standing there clapping with a grim expression.
Ahh geez. He was frowning now. I thought this last year too, but if he wanted to be involved this badly why not just compete?
And as pained as his expression was, it all just seemed stupid once you remembered it was about.