As we were leaving the main hall, I saw the two beautiful windows out of the corner of my eyes.
The rectangular Window of Confusion, which represents the trials and tribulations of human life, and the round Window of Enlightenment, which represents the greater universe.
After reaching the peak of his craft as a forger, Enshou tried moving towards enlightenment, but after having his forgery detected by Holmes-san, he returned to the material world.
Did he choose this place to show his wavering?
If I get seen through, I should just end it all. If I don’t get seen through, I’ll be satisfied, so it’ll be the end all the same. That was probably what was going through his confused mind.
However, the conclusion that he came to was one filled with human feeling, that he wanted to knock Holmes-san down no matter what.
Instead of the round window, he chose the rectangular one—
Just as I was struck by a complicated feeling caused by that unfortunate conclusion, Holmes-san suddenly stopped.
Akihito-san, who was in front, turned the corner and disappeared.
I also stopped moving and looked up at Holmes-san.
“Aoi-san, thank you for just now.”
“Your words of encouragement from earlier spurred me on. I’ll be more diligent so that I can have the discernment to see through not just Enshou, but any kind of forger.”
He spoke firmly.
I peeked at his profile, and was satisfied to see that he now looked refreshed.
Ah, I see.
Enshou… is probably an existence meant to guide Holmes-san to greater heights.
“—Yes, please do your best!”
I smiled. Holmes-san quietly extended an arm and grabbed my right hand.
Surprised, I looked up to see Holmes-san looking straight into my eyes.
Somehow, I felt that this was different from the time he held my hand after I won the Authenticity Judgment Game.
I felt a hot flush rise to my cheeks as he firmly held onto my hand and looked at me with that gaze.
My heart thumped furiously.
It was beating so hard that I thought it was about to break into pieces.
Holmes-san started as he put some strength into the hand that was gripping mine.
“Hey, are you two coming yet?”
Akihito-san’s voice boomed from the parking area, causing our bodies to twitch.
Holmes-san sighed as if he was trying to say something, quietly released my hand and scratched his fringe.
“Ah, sorry, let us talk more next time, when Akihito-san isn’t around.”
I nodded hesitatingly.
“ARE… YOU… COMING… YET?” Akihito-san raised his voice again.
“Yes, we’re on the way.”
Holmes-san answered exhaustedly.
“…Let’s go,” he said to me with a gentle smile.
“Y-Yes,” I firmly nodded and walked forward.
What was Holmes-san trying to say there?
…I could still remember Holmes-san’s gaze and the sensation of his hand tightly gripping onto mine, causing my cheeks to go hot and my heart to beat noisily.
We exited into the parking area to see Akihito-san waving his hands wildly in front of the car.
“Why were the two of you so slow? What were you doing?”
“Sorry. I regret bringing you along.”
Holmes-san replied coldly as he opened the car door.
“Heh?” Akihito-san’s eyes twitched a few times, then he said, “No idea what you’re on about,” with his head tilted to the side in confusion.
“More importantly, shall we go eat some meat? When you think of Kyoto, it’s gotta be meat, right?”
“Good idea. You can’t fight without having some meat.”
Holmes-san firmly nodded with his hand on the door handle.
“When you mention Kyoto, wouldn’t the first thing you think of be ‘tradition’? Why meat?”
I giggled as I fastened the seatbelt on the front passenger seat, but the two of them looked at me in puzzlement.
“Oh, did you not know, Aoi-san? Kyoto is also well-known for its meat restaurants.”
“Yep, Kyoto gets delicious meat from its surrounding regions.”
“Yes, and there is also meat kaiseki1.”
“I would even say that when you come to Kyoto, you have to try the meat kaiseki, over boiled tofu and everything else.”
“I agree. Of course, I would also recommend a traditional Japanese-style meal.”
I looked at the two of them in blank amazement as they rattled on, as if they were in a competition.
“I-Is that so? I never knew.”
“Shall we go, then?”
“Yeah, let’s go to Hiro.”
“Morita-ya is also a good place.”
While listening to their conversation, I looked outside the window.
My chest tightened upon seeing the sky, which had been dyed a beautiful shade of orange.
After etching that sight in the back of my head, I gently closed my eyes.
—I will probably never forget the events that transpired here.
The appraiser and the forger.
The sparks, beautiful as autumn leaves, that were produced when the two young genii collided.
And Holmes-san’s frustration, as well as his determination…
While Enshou was moving towards the path of enlightenment, he chose to stay confused. On the other hand, his existence caused Holmes-san to be enlightened on the path he should take.
It was like fate.
…Confusion and enlightenment.
No matter how hard you strive for the latter, it is probably difficult to be fully enlightened. You continue being confused, have brief moments of enlightenment, but still end up in confusion.
If I ever find myself wavering, I would like to come here again.
—And gaze into the round window that represents the greater universe…
The car moved down the hill, putting Genkō-an behind us and the setting sun on the side.
The autumn leaves falling gracefully with the cold wind announced the end of autumn, and welcomed the start of the Kyoto winter.
Captains (Tier 3) : SuperKatsu, Marieta Tan
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, Yazmin Arostegui, Slush56, Ashley Soffietti, Cristie Ledesma
Assistants (Tier 1) : Jaime Cuellar, Karen Kronenberg, Anna, Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez, Kevin Kohn, _Maki
Thank you very much for all your support!