Here's the short prologue. I don't think it's hard to guess who gave Mafuyu the guitar.
Since this volume is a five chapter deal, and chapter one is quite long, I'll be splitting it up into two to three parts.
By pure chance, I stumbled upon the words that were carved onto the body of the guitar.
I have handled Mafuyu's Stratocaster once before, but I didn't know about the existence of these words back then. That was because the words were carved on the inside of the body, and would not be revealed unless the screws were loosened.
"I want to change the tone of my instrument too."
Mafuyu said that during one of our band practices. At that time, we were already done with our first ever live performance, and our summer holidays were coming to an end. I was having an active discussion with Kagurazaka-senpai about the topic of the effect units as well as the timbres. As she listened to our conversation, Mafuyu prodded my back with the neck of her guitar, though I had no idea why she was putting on an unhappy expression on her face.
"...... So you want to modify your guitar? Or do you mean you want to use an effects unit?"
"I don't really know these things. Just help me modify it, Naomi."
I don't quite have the guts to modify an antique guitar that is worth three million yen, but I still removed the back cover and took a look. And it's then that I saw that located in a square pit behind the pickup.
"Looks like there's something carved on it."
"...... Is that Russian?"
Chiaki asked as she stuck her face in to take a look. I see, it does look like the Cyrillic alphabet. Just then, Mafuyu snatched the guitar away from my hands.
"Y-You can't see that."
"Cover it up! You don't have to care about what's inside!"
Why is she so flustered? It's not like I understand the Cyrillic alphabet, yeah?
"Does Mafuyu know about the words inside your guitar?" asked Chiaki.
"I-I don't know."
"Senpai should know how to read Russian, right? And you should have read lots of books written by Russians too."
"Russia is the country of revolutions, but if you think that's enough reason for me to know how to read nearly everything, then you are dead wrong!" was Senpai's answer.
Mafuyu snatched the screwdriver away from me. She then closed the cover and attempted to put the screws back into the place. However, as her right fingers were still unable to move much, she was finding it hard to do so. I could no longer watch her like this, so I helped her with the task.
"What's carved on it?" I tried asking her. Mafuyu took the restored guitar from my hands and hugged it tightly, as though she was trying to stuff the guitar into her body. After some deliberation, she said softly,
"It's a name. The name of the person who gave me this guitar."
The person who gave her the guitar?
"So someone gave you that guitar......" Chiaki touched the neck of the guitar gently.
"That person must be really generous to give you such a good guitar."
"He said that it's best for someone new to use a good instrument right from the beginning......"
"I thought Comrade Ebisawa learned the guitar all by herself. So you actually had someone to teach you...... how's the person like?"
In the end, Mafuyu did not explain things clearly as she was speaking in bits and pieces. I too thought that she learned the guitar on her own...... but then again, what's the reason for Mafuyu to start learning the guitar? For a professional pianist who was surrounded by classical music ever since she was born, something incredible must have happened for her to suddenly pick up the electric guitar.
"Stop asking me already!"
Mafuyu stomped me hard on my foot all of the sudden. Hey, the one asking you those questions is Senpai!
"Teach me how to use the effects unit. I hope that the tone of my playing can be as colorful as those of Kyouko's before our next live performance."
Actually, what I like the most is the refined sounds of Mafuyu's guitar that comes straight out of the amplifiers without the use of any effect units...... I don't think there's any need for her to compare herself to Senpai in that area, right? Moreover, it' was just not too long ago when our live performance had ended......
"So when's our next live performance? I want to perform again as quickly as possible!"
Please, not Chiaki as well!? Senpai hugged Chiaki and Mafuyu on their shoulders, as though she was asking them not to be hasty.
"Since there's not too many bands who would invite us to play with them, our next performance will be during the school's festival."
The school's festival will be held during the later half of the second semester — and that is November, meaning that it's about three months away from now.
"That will be the first time we are performing by ourselves, so a three month preparation period should be adequate."
"I never thought I'd hear that from the same person who had suddenly arranged for us to take part in a live performance that was scheduled three weeks later!" I couldn't help but to take a dig at her.
"Have you participated in regatta before, young man?"
Senpai stretched out her finger and pressed it against my forehead. Why that sudden question?
"Mmm..... at the initial stages, everyone would have to row their oars with a small but quick motion, but that changes after the boat has accelerated to a certain speed. Then, they would row their oars with a large but slow motion."
"And it's the same for the band!"
This person here is saying some nice-sounding stuff to trick everyone again. But there is no longer any chance of a victory the moment the thought, 'Ah, so that's how it is' flashed past my mind. And so...... I could only agree to whatever she had said. Damn it!
"We are already at the stage where we are cruising at high speeds,"
Senpai took the guitar that was standing at the other corner of the classroom and carried it on her shoulder. With her back facing us, she continued,
"But it's not good for us to only accelerate. Plenty of troublesome situations may occur before the arrival of the school's festival, so what we should be doing now is getting ourselves used to the feeling of rowing, and move forward in a steadfast manner."
Senpai then turned her head around and propped up her index finger in a cute manner.
"It's not about speed, but the camaraderie between the four of us."
Chiaki nodded her head immediately. As for Mafuyu, she waited for a while before nodding her head silently.
I recalled this very scene a long time later...... and Senpai might have had some sort of premonition back then already. In actual fact, lots of troublesome things did happen. There was probably nothing more chaotic than the oncoming three months, regardless of whether it's about my own personal matters or the things that had to do with the band.
Come to think of it, all these troubles began with—
Just as the summer holidays was coming to an end, Tetsurou passed me two tickets.