“I see you’ve finished breakfast? If you’re tired, we can rest a while,” the woman said, smiling. The forced smile magnified the horse-like features of her mouth.
“Starting now, you will be interviewed one at a time. So, who will go first?”
No one spoke.
“Come now, what’s wrong? Team one is supposed to be the most assertive team. Aren’t you always the first to answer questions in class?” the Sun Prince said, sounding cheerful as always. But his eyes weren’t smiling.
In the end, we went by seat number. Shun Aonuma, Maria Akizuki, Satoru Asahina, Mamoru Itou, and me, Saki Watanabe.
Until then I had never noticed the row of small, two-tatami rooms at the back of the children’s center. We went in one at a time, accompanied by the two interviewers.
…I’ve been thinking about what had happened then, but strangely enough, I can’t remember a single thing. In the ancient psychology books, this is called lacunar amnesia. Satoru doesn’t remember much either. The only thing I can recall is being offered a really bitter tea. So that, plus whatever was in the jelly, made it more of a drugged interrogation than an interview.
In any case, we all finished the “interview” and were allowed to go home. According to Shun’s plan, Mamoru, Maria, and I were supposed to pretend to be sick as an excuse to go straight to our rooms. But that turned out to be unnecessary, since all three of us developed a high fever that day and were confined to bed.
My fever abated after a day or two, but my parents forced to me rest more, so I spent about a week lazing around in my pajamas. Since I couldn’t meet up with the other two, I dug up the charm hidden under the floorboards to find my mantra.
I felt the rush of victory as I chanted my mantra and unsealed my cantus. After all, I had succeeded in fooling all the adults and recovered my god-like power.
I never could have imagined how mistaken I was.