Metro Labyrinth Chapter 88: Sugamo’s Long Cherished Wish I

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 That evening, we had a small meeting before dinner.


 On the agenda was whether or not Old Man Uni’s horns should be used for the mayor’s quest.



“What do you want to do Mr. Shuu and Ms. Tamiko?” (Noa)



 Tamiko and I looked at each other and both shaking our heads.



“Hmm… I can’t bear to let it go, but if it means that one girl suffering from an incurable disease can be saved…” (Shuu)


“Abeshuu, you’re just in need of money, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Tamiko, what do you want?” (Shuu)


“I know the memories are in my heart, sqeuak.” (Tamiko)


“I like that side of yours.” (Shuu)


“What! Who is your wife? Not me, squeak! (Tamiko)



 Tamiko’s slap me on the wrist.


 Well, Old Man Uni wouldn’t blame us if we used it to help people. And the other party is an innocent girl under ten years old.



“But… The only question is how to explain how I got it?” (Shuu)


“If you answer honestly, Outsuka will experience a unicorn hunting tour.” (Noa)


“Right.” (Shuu)


“But I feel like it can’t be helped. Hunters and Metro Beasts originally have that kind of relationship.” (Noa)


“But we’re friends. It’s nothing to do with them being a Metro Beast. If possible, I’d like him to live in peace.” (Shuu)


“Squeak.” (Tamiko)


“That’s what I expected. From both of you.” (Noa)



 Although he did not do anything specific for us, his presence was a comfort and encouragement for the lonely Tamiko and I, who could feel the warmth of a living creature. Even when we parted, we felt a small bond with him.


 I would never do anything to put him in a difficult situation because I was blinded by greed.



“If this would save a sick girl, that would be fine. But I don’t want to cause any trouble for Old Man Uni. So, I’d like to see if there’s some way we can make it work. …Noa, what do you think?” (Shuu)


“I’ll let you play with my tail later, squeak.” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko and I looked at each other while putting our hands together. Noa takes a deep sigh and nudges Tamiko’s tail. “Fine… I’m going to regret this later…!”





 The next day. It was not raining, but it was a slightly overcast.


 Kaike is at the sales counter as usual. “Mr. Abe, good morning,” she responded along a professional sales smile to the suspicious person who ran away after talking and having a nosebleed yesterday.



“What!? Really!?” (Kaike)



 Even Kaike was taken aback when I told her in a whispher. She immediately withdraws to the back of the room, consults with her superior as usual, and takes the complainants upstairs to the interview room. “Please wait here for a while,” she says then serving and tea and rice crackers.


 Tamiko bites into the rice cracker with a noise like a construction site. Noa drinks her tea quietly. I was there looking sleepy.



 I was not sure how long it has been, but I felt alert when I heard the door open behind us. Entering the door is Kaike, and a handsome man in his mid-thirties whom I have never met before. He is tall and slender, with black hair that is gently naturally permed, and wears a white work shirt and black-rimmed glasses. He doesn’t look like a hunter.



“My name is Eiki Nomaguchi. I am the attending physician for the daughter of the Mayor of Sugamo.” (Nomaguchi)



 The man sitting across from me also has a soft demeanor. He seems kind. Come to think of it, the person who was in charge of my operation when I was in the hospital a long time ago was also like him.



“They told me that you had brought a unicorn horn, so I came here in a hurry.” (Nomaguchi)



 I was sweating profusely on my forehead and forcing myself to not breathe hard. I choked a few times because of that.



“So, um, let me see it…” (Nomaguchi)


“Um, here.” (Shuu)



 I put it on the table. Nomaguchi and Kaike gasp.



“Is it okay if I touch it…?” (Nomaguchi)


“Sure.” (Shuu)



 Nomaguchi holds it in his hands with trepidation. He looks at it from various angles, peers at it with a loupe, and smells it. The wet wolf smell is still there, and as expected, he frowns a little.



“I’ve been saying that since the interview, and with Ouji and this case… Mr. Abe you are really outrageous, you know?” (Kaike)


“Is that a compliment?” (Shuu)


“Of course.” (Kaike)



 Phew, Nomaguchi returned the horn to the table and rubbed the inner corners of his eyes with his fingers. His hands are shaking.



“This is the second time I’ve seen the real thing… and it looks a lot like the real thing. I can’t believe it… it’s impossible… to be real…” (Nomaguchi)


“Yes, but it’s real.” (Shuu)


“Oh, I’m sorry, if you are offended. I’m sorry, I hope you don’t mind. I’ve been presented with many items that look like the real thing… After all, they are very rare.” (Nomaguchi)


“I see (calm down).” (Shuu)


“Where did you get this…?” (Nomaguchi)


“Umm… I don’t know.” (Shuu)


“Eh?” (Nomaguchi)


“It was a memento of my father’s. I didn’t ask him where in the metro he got it. I’ve always had it with me.” (Shuu)



 The story of a father and son (Noa’s idea) is not easy to go into in detail.


 Nomaguchi’s face became thoughtful.



“I heard that Mr. Abe’s father was a very good hunter. Mr. Abe himself has not been a hunter for some reason, but he is a master at his level and experience.” (Kaike)



 To be honest, I did not expect Kaike to be present at this meeting. Should I have called someone else from the beginning?


 [Mind’s Eye] – Kaike, who is the bearer of a rare Fungal Ability that recognizes people’s emotions with a colored vision (supposedly). I wonder if she sees through the lies about the origin of this and only the intention is genuine, and if she is willing to match the story.



“…May I collect just a few fragments to verify its authenticity?” (Nomaguchi)


“Sure, but just a little?” (Shuu)


“If you would allow me to cut away a little bit of this broken part and collect a few fragments.” (Nomaguchi)


“And you can tell if it is genuine?” (Shuu)


“Yes. I’m going to try it on a rat with [Mycelial Failure], just like the mayor’s daughter.” (Nomaguchi)


“[Mycelial Failure]?” (Shuu)


“Yes. Oh, I’m sorry. I haven’t explained it yet.” (Nomaguchi)



 Nomaguchi pushed his glasses up.



“It’s a disease that the mayor’s daughter suffers from. It is a congenital disease that occurs only at an early age and causes the hardening of all the muscles in the body. The mycelium that surrounds the entire body stiffens, inhibiting the movement of muscles and internal organs, and eventually leads to death.” (Nomaguchi)


“Woah…” (Shuu)


“It is a type of the [Mycelial Failure] disease, the specific cause of which is still unknown. The disease is particularly susceptible to serious illnesses, and normal treatments can only do so much to halt the progression of symptoms. The only way to cure the disease is to administer a cure made from a Unicorn’s horn.” (Nomaguchi)


“Is there a lot of children with that disease?” (Shuu)


“We don’t know the exact number, but it is said to be in the tens to hundreds of thousands. There are currently only two patients here in Sugamo City. The young lady was four years old when she contracted the disease. For the past four years, she has not been able to leave the mansion, and has spent her days just trying to stave off the disease that has been slowly progressing.”



 Nomaguchi’s somber gaze hid behind his glasses.



“She clung to the hope that in a distant tomorrow, she would be able to get the medicine, but she endured a slow despair that was like a tightening of a cotton wool rope. How terrifying that must be for her as a young girl. Adults can only hold her hand, encourage her, comfort her, and be a receptacle for her sometimes raging heart.” (Nomaguchi)



 The words cut off there, and the room falls silent. Tamiko and Noa are both looking sorry.


 Nomaguchi made a deep sigh and gave a small nod.



“…I personally can’t help but hope that this is the real thing we’ve been looking for… However, we can’t let that child and her parents feel false hope. We will verify it rigorously, and we would appreciate it if you would wait for us.” (Nomaguchi)


“Yes, that’s fine.” (Shuu)


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