Delta In The Darkness - novelonlinefull.com
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Translator: Mr. Steak
Horokusa Junpei looked around at the banquet hall and its large, vaulted ceiling. Two sizable tables had been set up in the hall's center, with pure white cloths draped over them. Not much had been placed atop them yet, so those perfectly white surfaces stood out distinctly from the rest of the scene. That was where food would be brought for the guests to enjoy during the party. He could smell something delicious cooking already. It seemed preparations for the evening were well underway.
When he'd been invited to the mansion several hours ago, he'd never set foot inside this Western section. He'd only been escorted through j.a.panese-style hallways and shown a single tatami sitting room. This time, he'd used the entrance on the left side, in other words, that giant arch between two towers. He'd walked up the gentle slope of the rotary out front, to where the enormous front door had been left open. He'd gone inside from there, proceeded through the entrance hall, and finally pushed open a gla.s.s door to find this banquet hall before him.
Horokusa walked forward until about the middle of the room, then turned around. The white railing on the second floor was visible from there. That same railing continued smoothly into the stairs on either side and proceeded down to the first floor. It traced quite an elegant curve. The stairs were patterned white on the sides and rusty-brown in the middle, which continued up their entire length like a belt. Hung on the walls were numerous small pictures, arranged diagonally such that one could admire them while climbing the stairs. And there were even two separate spots along the way where decorative plants had been arranged in pots. The center of the second-floor hallway protruded out just like a balcony, so it seemed possible to look down over the entire banquet hall from up there. On the far wall of that hallway, three white doors were lined up. The two on the sides were most likely stairwells leading up to the two towers. And it was easy to surmise that the middle one lead to a room directly above the entrance hall. There, in the s.p.a.ce between the two towers, was where he'd seen that magnificent circular stained-gla.s.s window from outside. Surely, that room was where the window lead. That was what Horokusa supposed. He hadn't yet had cause to see the inside of the room, but he could still vaguely grasp approximately how large it was.
The chandelier dangling overhead was a dull yellowish color, and unless it was an exquisite imitation, one could instantly tell that it was an item of incredible value as an antique.
Other than Horokusa, no one was in the banquet hall. Just a moment ago, that older woman with the bad hearing (probably a maid) had told him to please wait here, in that hoa.r.s.e voice characteristic of old people, and then disappeared into a hallway without another word. Since then, he'd seen one younger woman in an ap.r.o.n bring candle stands to the tables, but she neither looked at nor spoke to Horokusa. She had conducted herself as if hurrying much more than necessary, then quickly left the room again. Every so often he could hear the sound of laughter, which, based on the direction, probably came from behind the door to his left. Most likely, that was a waiting room where several party guests had already a.s.sembled.
As Horokusa was absentmindedly peering about the hall, the door the laughter had been coming from opened, and a man emerged from within. He was sporting sungla.s.ses and a goatee. He appeared physically fit, and somewhere in his thirties or forties. He had an odd style of walking that looked almost like he was limping. He was wearing a stark black suit, top to bottom, completely inappropriate for the season.
The man started to walk toward the inside of the mansion, but perhaps because he'd noticed Horokusa, he turned around as if changing his mind.
"Wait, who are you?" he asked. Now that he was facing this way, it was clear he wasn't wearing a tie. Beneath his suit jacket appeared to be a navy blue T-shirt.
"My name is Horokusa," he said with a small bow. "Mister Odawara's wife invited me, but I was told to wait here, so…"
"The wife invited you?" the man said as he took one step closer to Horokusa and scrutinized him intensely. "Oho…… Well I'll be d.a.m.ned."
Horokusa hadn't the faintest clue what the man meant by that, but he kept silent about it.
Just then, Odawara Shizue made her appearance from within, accompanied by the old woman.
"Horokusa, I apologize for making you wait." With an exhausted countenance about her, and an uneasy smile on her face, Shizue drew closer to the two men. "I see you've already met Higashio?"
"Nah, we barely talked," said the bearded man she'd called Higashio, before lazily waving a hand, shooting Horokusa one last look, and disappearing further into the house. Due to the sungla.s.ses, however, it was quite unclear whether or not he could actually see Horokusa….
"Allow me to show you my study," Shizue said, drawing closer to Horokusa with a smile. "This way, please."
She started walking toward the stairs, and Horokusa followed after her. There were stairs on both the left and right sides, but in this instance they took the right-hand staircase. Shortly, as they looked out over the banquet hall to their left, they emerged onto the second-floor hallway. In the center of the hallway, the white railing twisted in a unique curve, leaping out in the direction of the room's chandelier. And on that balcony section, a small, low bench was positioned. Same as the stairs, the floor of the hallway itself was also decorated with a long reddish carpet.
Odawara Shizue proceeded toward the center of the three doors, then inserted a key. While she unlocked it, Horokusa looked down over the railing at the banquet hall. He could see the figure of the younger maid arranging large platters on the tables.
"After you," Shizue said, holding open the st.u.r.dy door.
It was a square room with a large window on the far wall. The ceiling was quite tall, and above the window was a circular stained gla.s.s piece that immediately caught one's eye. This was exactly what Horokusa had imagined. Its design was centered around a curious spiral-like pattern in a palette of red, blue, and white. The circular stained gla.s.s window visible from outside the mansion, on the front wall of the Western-style half, was this window. In other words, this room was located at the building's front, facing south, and was positioned between the two towers on either side.
By the window was a large, dignified-looking Western desk. In addition, a magnificent chair with a tall back was situated there. To the left of the window was a cabinet, and on the opposite side was a bookshelf. At the right-hand wall was a sofa and a table. At the left-hand wall was a low dresser. On the wall above the dresser was a large painting. Near the door was a small vanity and a chair. Other than that, there was a tall floor lamp. A single-person lounge chair with footrest included. A decorative plant nearly two meters in height. Two large porcelain dogs. A hefty grandfather clock, of an ideal size for storing a human sarcophagus inside. And then there were the various small objects, evidently of tremendous value, none of which seemed to have any practical use whatsoever. The wallpaper was of a goldish color. The ceiling was a highly reflective metallic green. The carpet was an item of quite a high-cla.s.s fiber density.
Horokusa's first thought was wonderment at what this room could possibly be meant for. At the very least, it looked rather unsuitable for playing mahjong. He was also surprised to find that there was no billiards table present. Nor was there a roulette setup or dart board.
"This is my room," Odawara Shizue said with a smile, as she sat on the sofa.
"That it is," Horokusa smiled back. "It's not my room, that's for sure."
"In fact, other than myself, not a single person has ever been inside this room. Even my husband is prohibited from entering."
"But it's fine for me to be in here?"
"Why yes, because you are my distinguished guest."
"I see. Well, it's an honor."
Translator and Editor Notes:
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