I blame it all on Dragon Nest.
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Latest update: Part 4 at January 18, 2014, 11:16 AM PST (COMPLETE)
As you may have noticed, the “Latest update” part has a link in it. I wonder where it leads? I’ll try to remember to keep it updated as I add them. Please note that you need to actually open the post for it to work though~
I flubbed up and totally forgot I had done part 2 already.
“Hey, hey, Sheltis, are you done yet──?”
A nonchalant voice echoed in the room that had become littered with clothes and small articles.
“Just a little longer.”
“That’s why I said, just a little longer.”
“Then I’ll count to ten……get set, 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0, and done.”
Stopping his hands that were busy packing things in his travel bag, Sheltis turned around without thinking.
He had reddish brown hair and affable eyes. He was seventeen, his limbs gave off a somewhat slender feeling as he breathed out and he still had a slight feeling of leftover innocence.
“One second didn’t even pass by just now, right!?”
“I said I’d count to ten〰, nothing about ten seconds〰”
Machine crystal <Ilis> lay beside the pillow on the bed, looking small. The vivid yellow blinking of its crystal portion was a sign indicating, “be concerned about it, be concerned about it“.
“……What is that child-like twisting of words?”
“I just have that much leisure. Sheltis, haven’t you been ignoring me while you were packing your bag since a while ago? Ilis has become so lonely, she might cry.”
“Nah, this isn’t in the realm of ignoring.”
He gazed at the clock at a corner of the table.
The time displayed on its digital screen was exactly nine in the morning.
“Oh crap……it’s already the gathering time. I’m not done packing yet!?”
“Come on, Sheltis, the airship bound for the Governmental Sector departs at nine and a half. Weren’t you told to gather at the airport on the tower’s sixty-fifth floor at nine?”
“If you know that, then won’t you stoooooop!?”
“The one who made a schedule which looked like it would end in being late was Sheltis.”
“……The one at fault is the Instructor.”
He had been caught yesterday evening by Instructor Yumelda who was known for her demonic training. For ages after that, he had been subjected to grueling training under the name of coaching until this morning.
“If you’re going to go on an expedition to the Governmental Sector, then I’ll hammer that portion’s worth into you ahead of time……isn’t that strange?”
“The Instructor was quite lively though──, so it seemed fun.”
“……It was definitely the height of tension. She was smiling so widely.”
He had truly felt scared when she started swinging around her trademark black whip and laughing, “Ahahahahahahahaa!” deep into the night.
“So is this okay? You’ll be late at this rate.”
“That’s right, that’s what I said!”
He started shoving whatever he grabbed into his travel bag. There were the machinery and equipment used for guarding VIPs, his change of clothes for the trip and other simple things like emergency rations.
“Hey, hey, Sheltis? What about that book I said I wanted to read if we had time?”
“I want to bring it, but no! I don’t have the time to pack something like that!”
“Eh──. No, no, then let’s bring something else. Ilis thinks it’d be great to bring a giant rocket launcher and machine gun. I also can’t give up on a flamethrower.”
“I think those would be confiscated at the Governmental Sector’s airport though……rather, stop bothering me!”
Just when he was about to silence machine crystal <Ilis> who was atop the bed───
The small sound of knocking came from the door.
“Sheltis, are you still here?”
“……Monica? Ah, wait, wait, I’ll open it now!”
She stood at the mechanical door that had opened.
A girl with a slender body whose long sakura-colored hair was bound into one lock behind her. Her grey eyes which showed the strength of her willpower looked really attractive on her graceful face.
Her age was one above his at eighteen and was the unit captain that governed their unit. On her waist holder were two blackened crossed rods <Rosario> and her clothes consisted of the usual formal wear.
Staying standing in the door, that was the first thing that she murmured.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen you wear the formal wear.”
“Yeah, well. It’s one thing inside the tower, but I don’t want to be suspicious over there.”
He tugged a little on the cuff of his pure-white formal wear that didn’t have a single wrinkle. He had always been wearing the black retired formal wear as a jacket habitually, but it really wouldn’t do to go to the Governmental Sector like that. Yesterday, he had hurriedly taken out the new product that he had shoved in his locker.
“Does it suit me?”
“……That’s a difficult question.”
Relaxing her lips a little, Monica smiled.
“I’m used to seeing you in black so I thought it was a different person for a second.”
“My usual clothes are also in my luggage. I’m used to wearing them……honestly, it’s to the point that I’d also like to wear them in the Governmental Sector.”
The mateki of Yuugenshu gave off a dark purple brilliance.
It was easy to determine whether a Yuugenshu’s mateki had come in contact with the white formal wear. In other words, if he received mateki while in this formal wear, there was no way he could fool them by saying he hadn’t.
……It’d be bad if I was bathed in mateki and came out fine.
……It’s really difficult. The closer I get to Ymy, the more I’ll have to wear this white formal wear.
“It’s finally time to go to the Governmental Sector, isn’t it, Monica; the escorting is a big responsibility. Do your best.”
“Please stop that; I feel like my stomach’s going to burst.”
The unit captain grimaced in response to machine crystal <Ilis>’ words of encouragement.
“……How about you, Sheltis?”
“Everyone’s the same; I’ve been completely anxious since about three days ago.”
The mission ─── an escort from the floating continent <Orbie Clar> to the distant Governmental Sector.
The origin of the matter was the Queen’s edict. The case on the floating archipelago <Lagoon> that they had gone to together with Leon was the start.
What they had seen underground at a research facility upon the floating archipelago <Lagoon> that wasn’t recorded on any maps was ─── that which menaced the floating continent, a Yuugenshu, being cultivated.
“……If we let this assembly go by, there won’t be a second chance to investigate that Yuugenshu.”
At any rate, it was an experiment where they were cultivating the threat to the populace themselves so they couldn’t be forgiven regardless of the reason. Since Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> had decided to send one of the guardians of the floating continent, a Priestess, it was plainly obvious just how seriously they were viewing this assembly.
“Those of us going along as escorts also have a heavy responsibility.”
“Don’t say it; I actually took stomach medicine before coming. If you say anymore, it feels like it’ll develop into gastritis.”
Pressing down on the area near her stomach, Monica smiled faintly.
“Come on, Sheltis, rather than that, how are your preparations?”
“Y-yeah……I’m really rushing here.”
“I thought so.”
Monica sighed with her travel bag slung over her shoulder.
Anyhow, his room was in complete disorder and his bag on the bed was overflowing. It was a situation where him not being ready was obvious at a glance.
“It’s already gathering time so I had Kagura and Vaiel wait ahead of us at the sixty-fifth floor.”
“I-it’ll be fine. Just five more minutes!”
“It’d be good if that’s all it takes……will you make it in time?”
Looking down at his bag, Monica slowly crouched down. Just when he wondered what she was doing, she began packing things into his bag───
“Ah, ……sorry, getting you to help.”
“It’d be bad if you panicked and forgot something. It takes several hours to get to the floating archipelago <Lagoon> in the Governmental Sector, so we can’t turn back partway, you know?”
While still in a crouched over position, Monica lifted her face and smiled.
Collecting the crumpled luggage, his bag was packed with experienced movements.
“Are you used to this?”
“Packing luggage is a fundamental action for units, after all.”
“So she says, Sheltis.”
After he froze for a short moment.
“……Sorry, Monica, I should do the packing by myself at least. It’s fundamental, after all.”
“Eh, ahh, no! I-I didn’t say it with that kind of intention in mind! Th-this is……I answered because I was asked or well……u-umm…………”
“It’s fine, Monica. It looks like his spirit’s been roused, so leave him alone.”
“……I’ll do my best.”
Sheltis began packing once again with all his heart and soul.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, Floor 287.
There were only fours rooms arranged on this floor that lay two thousand metres above the surface. All of them were the private rooms of the Priestesses that protected the floating continent <Orbie Clar>’s barrier.
In one of those Priestess’ room.
“Ahh, this is bad, I might not make it, might not make it……I might not make it in time!?”
A girl in pure white vestments yelled out while holding a luggage bag with both hands.
Ymy Ele Soufflenictole ─── with off-gold hair and jade green eyes, her countenance had a lovely charm to it.
At seventeen years old, she was one of only five Priestesses in the world.
“Aauuu……there’s no time!”
“Come ooon, Ymy? Don’t yell out like that and panic. A Priestess must always keep herself under control no matter when, okay──?”
With a teacup in one hand steaming slightly, Meimel was standing there looking elegant by herself.
Her senior Priestess who was rank two out of the five Priestesses. Her long, slender and well-proportioned body and her beautiful mature looks created a splendid harmony with her dress-style vestments.
“Honestly, what a rushed child. It would’ve fine if you’d done your preparations yesterday.”
“……Who was the one that popped in when I was preparing and made a big fuss all night long?”
“That’s becauuuse, the cute Ymy is going away to the Governmental Sector. It’s a farewell party, a farewell party, I say. Oh my, this cookie is delicious.”
“Are you listening to me!?”
“Come now, that’s why I’m telling you to calm down.”
Mu──. Even though Ymy glared at Meimel, she didn’t move.
While remaining sitting on the seat, she stretched out her long legs and repositioned herself so her knees were touching. Her outer appearance made her seem like a mature woman of refinement, but her interior was a tease, so she was trouble.
“Umm, I’m sure it was five nights and six days……with the assembly taking up four of those days? It’s sad that we won’t be able to meet for almost a week. ……Ahh, it’s saddening to think of this as a parting with Ymy.”
The senior Priestess wiped her eyes with a handkerchief.
“Could you not say things that sound so profound!?”
“Don’t tell me……within the food served at the Governmental Sector……”
“Poison? Don’t tell me there’s poison?”
“The food served at the Governmental Sector is too delicious……and an image of Ymy eating too much resulting in stomach pains ends with her being transported to the hospital while crying comes to mind.”
“What are those terrible circumstances!?”
“Eh? But that’s how it’s always been when I left the tower?”
“……No, that’s far enough.”
……Let’s just ignore Meimel and prepare instead.
Looking at the time, it was already nine on the dot. Her guard partner would come to meet her at a quarter past nine and they’d go to the airport within the tower together; such was the plan.
“…………Ymy, is this fine?”
The black-haired Priestess who had been working by herself in silence turned around.
Syun-rei ─── a slender girl of small build whose face still contained childish properties. In contrast with her reserved manner of speech and atmosphere, she was talented and had become a Priestess at the youngest age in history.
“…………I’m finished folding the clothes.”
Folded clothes laid stacked in rows upon the sofa Syun-rei pointed at. Changes of vestments and personal-use casual clothes as well as nightclothes were present.
“Wah, Syun-rei, thank you. You really saved me! Totally different from a certain someone who’s only been a bother!”
“Oh my, I’m sorry about that. Even I’m thinking over various things.”
Meimel shrugged in what seemed like a purposeful action. Or so she thought, but Meimel then reached down to pick up the paper bag at her feet.
“Fuufuufu, Ymy. Have a look at this; I’ve also prepared a proper farewell gift.”
Rustle. She was in the middle of pulling something out of the paper bag.
“Eh. R-really? There’s……no need to make such a fuss.”
“No, no, this is for the cute Ymy. Look, this is it!”
She took out a one-piece nightgown.
“Now, take this and go. It’s a special order made to fit your figure!”
“Waaa, what a splendidly pink negligee! The chest area is open and it’s completely bare past the thighs, and to add onto that, it’s completely see-through, which makes it really mature!”
With a glance at the surprising lack of cloth on that thing, Ymy cheered without thinking.
“Right? For a Priestess to wear such a thing would be heart-pounding!”
“Yes! Heart-pound……wait, don’t joke arouuuuuuund!”
She threw the luggage bag she was carrying at her senior Priestess with all her might.
“Ouch! Jeez, what is it?”
“That’s my line!”
“Was it not to your liking?”
“Before talking about my likes, what is that……that indecent design!”
“There’s no need to worry on that point──. With your voluptuous body, it will definitely suit you. I guarantee it.”
“Whether it suits me or not isn’t the point…………”
Saying so, Ymy suddenly clammed up at that point.
After she contemplated while staring up at space for a little while.
“That’s right. Meimel went to the trouble of preparing it, so I’ll take it with me.”
“Waaa! Ymy has finally joined the fellowship of adults!”
Eyes sparkling, Meimel set it aside with a cheer.
“…………Is that fine?”
“I’m just bringing it; I’ll wear my regular nightclothes over there so it’s fine.”
Ymy closed one eye in response to Syun-rei’s whisper. Rather than pointlessly making a fuss here and wasting energy, it was simpler to store away one’s weapon like this.
“Ah, that’s right. Hey, hey, Ymy, about that negligee just now〰”
And maybe she knew that, but Meimel put her hand on Ymy’s shoulder.
“Eh. Ah, yes. What is it?”
“That negligee just now’s fabric is thin, but it’s made with synthetic fibers so it’s strong. Something like a small knife won’t pass through it.”
“Fireproof, waterproof, heat-resistant, cold-resistant, wind-resistant, UV-resistant, and I also applied a shinryoku seal, so it will also more or less defend against a Yuugenshu’s mateki. It’s fine if you think of it as a scaled-down version of a Priestess’ vestments. It’ll help you be more at ease than your regular nightclothes, right?”
Lowering her gaze silently, Ymy opened her bag and peeked inside.
Shoved into the bag forcibly ─── the negligee that wasn’t folded and had become crumpled.
“I said it was a special order. I hurried to put in an order the day it was decided you’d go to the Governmental Sector and it just barely made it in time this morning.”
The senior Priestess informed her with a happy smile on her face, like a child who was reporting a test with full marks to his or her parents.
“……For my sake.”
“Of course, it’s for the sake of my cute junior.”
Even though Meimel had said it was a shinryoku seal, this wasn’t a simple job.
The spell to apply shinryoku to an object was extremely time-consuming. Even for Meimel, she still had her training as a Priestess so she must have stayed up late into the night when everyone else was asleep for many days.
Gazing fixedly at the negligee upon her hand───
“……That’s unfair. If you say such things, there’s no way I can reject it.”
“Yes, that’s the cute thing I love about you.”
“That’s really playing dirty.”
In front of Meimel who was looking on while nodding, she neatly folded the now-crumpled negligee and put it back in her bag.
“Ymy, try to keep this at heart? We have no idea if the place you’re about to go is dangerous or not.”
“……The Governmental Sector?”
The unmanned research facility discovered at at the floating archipelago <Lagoon> under the Governmental Sector’s jurisdiction, as well as the cultivation facility underneath that. At any rate, the goal involved was uncanny, a complete mystery. It was unknown what she would see heading off to the dominion of the Governmental Sector who were the apparent ringleader.”
……Bringing that goal to light is the Priestess’ job this time.
She was going to a land she hadn’t seen before with the general resolve to face danger.
“No, not that. A separate danger from the Governmental Sector.”
“……At any rate, just think about keeping yourself safe, okay? A Priestess must realize the importance of her life more than anyone else.”
Filled with dignity and pride, Meimel’s voice resounded deeply.
From the door came the bell indicating the presence of a visitor.
“Oh my, it seems they’ve come just now to meet you. Ishtar ─── the Cadres Guard who’s famous even within the tower.”
“Is she that famous?”
Luckily or unluckily, she still hadn’t experienced a mission involving Elite Guards.
“She’s famous──. My partner invites her to train a lot.” [T/N: “Partner” is written with the kanji for “Ran”.]
“…………Leon said it as well. That’s she’s strong.”
Meimel and Syun-rei spoke and nodded unanimously.
The Cadres Guard was, so to speak, the Guard closest to the Sennenshi. If her skill was enough to mention the current Sennenshi, just how extraordinary was her strength?
“……I wonder what kind of person she is.”
“You’ll know as soon as you open that door.”
Meimel gracefully smiled as usual.
“I’ll be going.”
Putting strength into her shoulders, she hefted up the bag which made a weighted sound.
……Monica-senpai will be going along.
……Also……Sheltis will protect me.
Her senior from her days as an apprentice Priestess and her childhood friend whom she’d been separated from for so long. She could be with those two once again. They had been separated for a few years……and she could meet them once again.
The heavy pressure from heading to an unknown land was eased a little just from thinking about that.
“Have a safe trip. I’ll be looking forward to souvenirs.”
Waving at her two fellow Priestesses with a smile, Ymy passed through the room’s door.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, Floor 65, the airport within the tower.
It was the terminal for the airship controlled by the Mechanical Bureau and the floor which encompassed the greatest amount of space.
There were ten-odd platforms solely for when the tower’s Guards or Bureau Chief-rank staff went on a mission and the runway extended far into the distance.
With one step onto the floor───
“Come to think of it, Captain Leon was with us that time.”
Monica who was walking beside him suddenly stopped and turned to him.
“……The floating archipelago <Lagoon> case?”
“Last night, I was thinking that this was our first mission and couldn’t sleep……so I just stared up at the ceiling the entire time and happened to remember it……”
Monica stared fixedly at the black floor underneath her.
The black tiles covering the floor were cushioning for withstanding the airship’s arrival and departure. She stared without blinking at those tiles which would reflect one’s face should they look hard enough.
“Monica, are you okay?”
“Y-yeah, it’s nothing! I was just being a little sentimental!”
Monica hurriedly averted her face away.
“……Being unable to sleep last night……was also partially because of Ymy-sama.”
With a frail smile, the former apprentice Priestess shook her head.
Monica had been Ymy’s senpai three years ago. That Ymy had become one of only five Priestesses in the world.
“Is it hard to talk to her?”
“……It’s pathetic but I don’t know how I should talk to her.”
Monica chewed her lip with a pained expression. Because of their reversed positions, Ymy and Monica were troubled as to how to connect with each other.
“I think she wants to talk with you like before.”
No, Monica definitely knows that already.
She knows but the other party is a Priestess, a protector of the world. Treating Ymy as a kouhai probably makes her feel something akin to guilt.
“It’s impossible to do it immediately, but wouldn’t it be best if the approach came from this side?”
“……How should I call out to her?”
“Isn’t it fine if you say, I’m the unit’s captain, Monica?”
Sheltis carried on machine crystal <Ilis>’ advice without changing anything.
“I’ve been granted the pleasure of traveling together with you and hope we get along ─── that much is fine. It should be hard for her to call out to you as well considering her position.”
“……I see, that’s right.”
“Don’t forget to smile as you do it〰, a smile is important.”
Nodding, Monica finally started moving.
“You’ve finally come; you’re seven minutes late.”
The small-statured girl wore a machine helmet low over her eyes and standing beside her was a blond young man of large build with short hair. Each of the two clothed in their white formal wear turned to face the arrivals.
“Good morning, Kagura, and Vaiel was also on time?”
“That’s because she came and woke me up one hour before.”
The blond young man stifled a sleepy yawn ─── Vaiel turned a displeased look at the girl beside him.
“If I hadn’t, you would be late. Well, let’s put that aside.”
Replying in an aloof manner, Kagura exchanged looks with Monica.
“Monica, look over there. It’s the important ‘customer‘ of ours.”
“Come now, the four on the other end.”
An airship lay where Kagura indicated.
Directly beneath its silvery wings, a group of four men and women could be seen receiving an explanation from a pilot.
One was an elderly man accompanied by a lean woman with a calm air about her who stood to his side. The other two were one step away, frequently taking memos with nervous expressions.
“The General Affairs Bureau chief and his head secretary, and those two are clerk and private secretary. Monica, you went to greet them the night before last, right?”
“Yeah, since only meeting them on the day of would be too sudden.”
Monica noted each of them one by one with her gaze.
“The furthest one, the person who’s putting on years is the General Affairs Bureau chief. The woman in a suit to his side is his head secretary and it looks like the negotiations with the Governmental Sector will be centered around her. The two a little bit further away are clerks; they said it was their first time going to the Governmental sector so they’re nervous.”
“I see, so then they also know about us?”
“Yeah. I also did a basic introduction of our unit. They’re gentle-mannered people so they politely listened to what I had to say.”
Following Monica’s line of sight, Sheltis also stared sidelong at the four further in.
They were the four people directly in charge of the negotiations with the Governmental Sector and the targets for escort of their unit.
“Well then, let’s get moving.”
“Yes, that’s right, get the introductions over with already. The General Affairs Bureau chief is also waiting.”
The one who assented to Monica wasn’t one of the four within the unit───
“Ohhh, it’s I’sa?”
Sheltis tilted his head at the unexpected appearance of the girl.
“What’s up, have some business here at the airport?”
“There’s nothing going on; isn’t it expected that as her little sister, I would be here to see onee-sama off on her expedition?”
She combed her lustrously shining hair with her hand. She had a small build but with mature grey eyes, and the badge representative of a Regular Guard was attached to the shoulder of her completely wrinkle-free formal wear.
Regular Guard I’sa Is Ismael. [T/N: Nobody suggested anything to replace this stupid version of the middle and last names…]
She was the Regular Guard who had been the examiner for this time’s mission and is the little sister of the Cadres Guard, Ishtar, who would be traveling with them.
“That onee-sama of yours……is Ishtar-san still not here?”
“It looks like she’ll be coming with the Priestess-sama. Consider it an honor, to have a mission together with onee-sama and the Priestess-sama. It’s enough that I also want to go along.”
In response to Kagura who was looking around, I’sa answered with folded arms.
“What? Did you say something, dual sword user?”
“Ah, n-nothing! Just talking to myself.”
Turning away his face, he somehow averted I’sa’s question.
……Our last match was how many years ago.
It’s been quite some time and I’ve grown a fair bit……so I’d like to think my identity won’t be discovered at a glance. As long as she doesn’t have any proof, it should be the same as with Kagura and remain at the ‘suspicious‘ level.
……But if I’m discovered and my real identity is outed right there.
……This time, I won’t be able to stay at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
A person who had fallen to the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> and was supposed to be dead was alive. Even though that was a serious affair in itself, if it was known that the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>’s mateki lay within him, it would cause a panic throughout the floating continent <Orbie Clar>.
He stole a glance at the girl with her sakura-colored hair tied in a bundle.
……Monica would also find out.
Having admired him three years ago, she had gone so far as to throw away her position as an apprentice Priestess and become a Guard. If she came to know everything……Monica would probably be angry. Or else.
“Hey, dual blade user, are you listening?”
His flank was being poked by I’sa.
“Eh? Ahh, yeah. The introductions, right?”
“If you know, then get on it with it. The Cadet Guards are the side being allowed to escort so approaching the escort target from your side is the logical move.”
I’sa sighed, looking worn out.
“Well, that’s fine. That being the case, I’ll introduce you. Come along.”
Saying so, she headed forward as the vanguard and walked towards the four at the other side.
“Oh, it’s you.”
Matching up with when the old man turned to her, I’sa clutched both ends of her skirt and curtsied.
“A pleasure, General Affairs Bureau chief, Maxwell. I was really in your care the other day.”
“Ohh, it really is I’sa-kun. I kept relying on you throughout the escort last week. Your partner as well, even though he was convalescing, I had him push himself.”
“Absolutely nothing of the sort; it is our duty.”
Alongside the old man who was smiling, I’sa was also nodding with an adorable smile.
Now then ─── I’sa turned back towards them with a small mutter.
“Let me introduce you: this is the captain of the unit entrusted with the escort, Monica, and three of its members. From the right, it’s Vaiel, Kagura and one other.”
“Just my introduction, so mean!? No……I’d like to say something.”
Just as he was about to object, Monica and Kagura each placed a hand on his shoulders.
Both of them nodded their heads……eh, does that mean to give up?
“Yes, yes, I’ve had the pleasure of a previous meeting with Monica-kun. To be this considerate even down to the finer details of escorting, it gives one relief.”
“They are my subordinates, so there are no oversights in their training.”
The Bureau chief nodded in satisfaction and I’sa had a business smile on.
“Hooh, truly, the subordinates commanded by I’sa-kun are of a different caliber.”
“Of course; we can’t be causing trouble for the General Affairs Bureau chief.”
Hah hah ha, laughed the two.
“……Since when did I become her subordinate?”
“Leave it. There’s no medicine for idiocy.”
In accordance with Monica’s sigh, Vaiel spat out with his usual abusive language, but that didn’t seem to reach the two who were having a pleasant chat either.
“Now then, it’s exactly nine thirty. The Priestess-sama should also be here soon.”
Kagura confirmed the time displayed on her machine pearl <Machina>. Receiving that, machine crystal <Ilis> who had been silent until now blinked with vigor and,
“That’s right, it should be soon…………ah, she’s come! Ymy has come!”
A faint tension ran throughout all those there.
The General Affairs Bureau chief and the four clerks straightened up simultaneously. Monica turned around with a complex expression and Vaiel, being poked by Kagura, also fixed his posture.
“Good morning, Ymy-sama, we have been awaiting your arrival.”
Representing they who were there, I’sa grasped the ends of her skirt and curtsied.
“I shall carry your luggage.”
“Ah……y-you don’t need to. It’s fine!……umm, yeah, I’ll deal with it somehow!”
Pressing down on her off-gold hair that had become disheveled from running with one hand, the girl held her bag with the other.
Her vestments had a base of white with azure accents. It was specially prepared for just one person within the tower ─── for those living on the floating continent <Orbie Clar>, just that would be enough to identify who she was.
“Umm……good morning, everyone, I’ll be counting on your for this journey!”
Ymy lowered her head in a bow.
She looked wordlessly at the people around her.
He knew that smile that she turned to him for an instant. It wasn’t a smile as a Priestess but one made as his childhood friend.
Sheltis also nodded wordlessly at that and next, he pushed on the unit captain that seemed lost even now with a small voice.
“Come now, Monica.”
“Y……yeah, I know……”
Monica cleared her throat once and took a step out front.
Even while showing signs of embarrassment, she still did it with a dignified and composed smile that that suited her.
“Good morning, Ymy-sama. I’m the captain of the unit that has the pleasure of travelling together with you for this mission, Monica, and here are three members of the unit. I hope we get along.”
Ymy’s expression brightened up.
Senpai finally talked to me ── it was a smile that conveyed her happiness from the bottom of her heart.
“By the way, Ymy-sama,”
Amidst that, I’sa asked while looking about.
“My sister…………I mean, where is the Cadres Guard?”
“U-um. We were supposed to come together, but the one who came was a subordinate of Ishtar-san. I was informed that she’d come to the airport ahead of me.”
It seemed that Ymy also didn’t know.
“Oi, oi, oi, the essential Regular Guard-sama is late?”
“If she said she was going on ahead, then that shouldn’t be the case.”
“Then what’s up?”
“Please don’t ask me. We can also rule out her being lost in the airport.”
Directly to the side of Vaiel who was sighing, Kagura snapped her fingers.
“It can’t be helped. Machine pearl <Machina> ── begin search.”
In an instant, the machine pearl <Machina> that had been floating in front of her split into over a hundred parts.
The small machine pearl <Machina> disassembled into puzzle piece-like shapes in midair. Each of those pieces was equipped with a high-power camera.
“First of all, let’s search within the airport.”
Answering Kagura’s instructions, the pieces of the machine pearl <Machine> flew off in all directions. Meanwhile, I’sa also took a good look at the surroundings and tilted her head.
“……That’s strange, I wonder where onee-sama went.”
“You mean she’s not skipping out?”
“Be careful in opening your mouth, Cadet Guard; this is onee-sama we’re talking about so I’m sure she has a noble reason for──”
Just before Vaiel and I’sa were about to have a stare-down.
“Ah, there’s a response that resembles her. A humanoid heat signature.”
Kagura said while staring at the machine helmet’s screen.
“From this reaction, she’s to our…………oh, that’s strange.”
Doubtful, her lips turned into the へ character.
“The position is directly above?”
With that one sentence, Sheltis put his hands together in realization. [T/N: The action here is that one in manga where they tap their fist on an open hand.]
If Ishtar’s unexpected actions haven’t changed from before, then if I imagine what’s coming based on the words “directly above”, she is……no way.
“Say. I think it’d be best if everybody moved away from this spot, it might be dangerous.”
“Mm? What’s that, what’s this about directly above───”
At around the same time Vaiel looked up with a sour face, the happy cheer of a female voice came from directly above.
Whoooooosh ── the sound of something descending at high speeds and cutting through the air.
“Aahn? What’s thi…………vuee!?”
Smush. With aim that was true, the heel of the woman that came from the ceiling crushed Vaiel underneath itself.
“……Hey, Monica, Vaiel can’t move while he’s being crushed.”
“……Don’t look at me for that.”
While all those there including Ymy, and of course, Sheltis and Monica, were frozen.
“Jya─n, sorry to keep you waaaiting!”
The woman with a spear that was taller than her strapped to her back winked adorably at the same time as a bow.
Pure white pants and tight formal wear. She was a tall woman with black belts made with hide wrapped around her shoulder, elbow, knee and thigh on top of her formal wear.
Contrary to a mature face, her countenance was so cheery it was almost young. Her long hair was a blindingly brilliant golden color like I’sa’s and the blueness of her eyes was fairly strong.
“Cadres Guard Ishtar, by the Queen’s imperial command, has hastened to joooin! Yippee!”
“…………Y……you are……my escort-san?”
“That’s riight. It’s nice to meet you, Priestess-sama, and I’m looking forward to working with you from now o─n! Hrm? Everyone’s really quiet, did something happeeen?”
She looked around at her surroundings that had fallen silent and tilted her head.
“Daamn yooouuu, what are you doing outta nowhere, you damn woman!”
“Wawahh, what happened!?”
Being glared at by Vaiel who stood up with a look of rage, she hurriedly jumped off him.
“Damn woman just suddenly steps on my head outta nowhere.”
“Ahaha, did it feel good?……wait, don’t just wordlessly ball your fist! It was just a joke. I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
Just barely holding down his fist that was about to fly, Vaiel turned to the younger sister’s direction with a look of anger.
“……Oi, little sister, what’s with your older sister. The inside of her head’s already a field of flowers.”
“Ahh, jeez! Onee-sama, why are you lowering your dignity on your own like this!?”
I’sa yelled while clutching her head.
“Oh my, I’sa-chan. Go─od, go─od, you’re so great for managing to come to the airport by yourself without getting lost. Your onee-chan is touched.”
She petted the head of her sister who was a head shorter than her.
“Mumuu, you’ve let your bangs grow out quite a bit, I’sa-chan. You haven’t cut it lately? Ah, a split end. That’s no good; you’re a girl so you have to take proper care of yourself.”
“O……onee-sama, look around you, around! That’s embarrassing!”
“Is that so? I don’t mi─nd. I’sa-chan’s hair is soft like a cat’s─”
“Please mind it! D-disregarding me……this will affect onee-sama’s reputation!”
In response to the older sister who suddenly started combing her little sister’s hair, the little sister <I’sa>’s face turned red and she raised her voice.
“P-putting that aside! Onee-sama is the Cadres Guard and you’re escorting a Priestess-sama this time, so conduct yourself as a model for these Cadet Guards!”
“Ahaha, I was scolded by I’sa-chan.”
“Yes, yes, it’s fine, I’sa-chan. Your onee-chan will do her best.”
“Th……that’s right. Onee-sama is my ambition after all! You’re strong to the point that nobody can beat you when you’re serious so please act with that in mind!”
I’sa shouted with blood rushing to her cheeks.
That was……her gaze while staring at her sister that was also her superior was……an unbelievably adorable and modest change from her usual domineering attitude.
“──Now then, we’ve caused a commotion, everyone.”
I’sa cleared her throat.
“As you can see, onee-sama has a slight side to her but I assure you that her ability as an escort is the best in the tower. Aside from that……please don’t mind it.”
“Ahaha, I’sa-chan introduced me in my place. Thanks, I’sa-chan, onee-chan’s bad at things like that.”
In the midst of the confusion, she once again reached her hand out to stroke her little sister’s head──
With a glare from I’sa, that hand froze its motion.
Even though looking at their height and appearance, Ishtar was by far the more mature, the mood was such that just looking at their words and actions would make one question who was the older sister.
“……Then because I was glared at by my cute little sister, we’ll have a serious conversation about wo─rk.”
Ishtar turned back to them with her shoulders sagging in disappointment.
“This time’s escort will have everyone going to the Governmental Sector over a time period of six days starting today. Until we return safely to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> ─── is fine, right?”
“……Umu. We’re counting on you.”
The General Affairs Bureau Chief nodded with a subdued voice that sounded undecided.
“O─kay. But Ishtar is to escort the Priestess-sama here, so the Bureau Chief’s group’s escort will be these Cadet Guards. Right? Monica-san?”
Her eyes opened in surprise, Monica quickly assented. It wasn’t because the conversation had suddenly turned to her but most likely because she knew her name.
“You know my name?”
“Ehehe, Ishtar’s been a Guard for a lo─ng time. You’re the person who quit being an apprentice Priestess and became a Cadet Guard, right? Well? Am I amazing?”
“I-I’m honored……I have also always heard of the renowned Cadres Guard Ishtar. I have the pleasure of going on a real mission with you, so I ask for your instruction in anything that happens.”
“Yeah, yeah, Ishtar also likes people with proper manners. Let’s get along〜”
Monica winked with a sidelong glance ── that was the signal for everyone to begin their individual introductions.
“I am Kagura; I look forward to working with you.”
“Arara, looks like quite the displeased person─. Did something haaappen?”
Ishtar peeked at Vaiel who was keeping a scowl on his face.
“Hey, hey, did something haaappen?”
“You fell outta the sky and kicked in my head!”
“Ah─……ahaha, so─rry. But see, the first part is always crucial no matter what, so I was wondering how to get everybody’s attention.”
“Getting everyone’s attention in a bad way.”
“And so when I was wondering about who to fall on, you looked the most sturdy.”
“You’re saying you chose me as the target to fall on to begin with! This damn woman, I’ll smash your front teeth next time ─── h-hey you, whose side are you……mugyu.”
His mouth that was about to say something was covered up by Monica and Kagura, and sadly, Vaiel fell silent.
“……My apologies, Cadres Guard Ishtar. My unit member was rude.”
“Nah, it’s fi─ne, it’s fi─ne. I don’t usually get those kinds of words directed at me so it’s kinda fresh and fun.”
Rather, the Cadres Guard’s eyes were shining with enjoyment.
“Hey, I’sa-chan, is that ‘interesting guy‘ you mentioned before this person?”
“Th-that’s wrong! The one I talked about was……that one……”
The one I’sa peeked over at and looked at with upturned eyes and a red face was.
Following I’sa line of sight, Ymy and Monica and everybody present turned in his direction with a meaningful look in their eyes. Seeing that, Ishtar also turned this way.
“Ah, the one I’sa-chan was talking about is over here? Let’s see──”
Without the rising and falling that signified breathing nor a blink, only those two eyes stared in his direction as if eating into him.
She remained silent even though I’sa spoke with doubt.
“…………I get it.”
A low, suppressed laugh spilled out from those lips.
That was truly a very slight murmur ─── at the same time, with a faint smile that only Sheltis who was directly in front of Ishtar could barely make out.
With a complete change, Ishtar’s smile became large enough that anybody could see it.
“I’ve seen you somewhere before, haven’t I?”
I’sa and Monica looked over at the same time.
“Hey, hey, have you and I met somewhere?”
“I think we’ve met somewhere before, but Ishtar’s an idiot so she can’t remember. How about you? Do you know me?”
Gradually, Ishtar closed in with a very drawn out pace. Opposite those joyous words, his two eyes were widened an uncanny amount.
……I can’t tell, which one is it?
With her drawing closer, Sheltis reflexively gulped.
……Are you saying that whilst having completely remembered me?
……Or are you provoking me like this because you lack assurance and are seeking some response?
“Hey, I won’t know if you stay silent, you know? Hey? Or is it that there’s some reason that you have to stay quiet?”
The time spent unnaturally silent ── Sheltis shook his head with timing just barely safe.
“I believe this is our first meeting. I only entered Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> two months ago.”
……It’s fine; she shouldn’t be able to confirm it based only on outer appearance.
Ishtar should remember me when I was thirteen or fourteen years old and I’m seventeen now. My height has also grown to match hers, and my voice and looks have also changed a little. Even if she relies on her memories, it should stay at the same “Doesn’t he resemble a dual swords user I saw a long time ago?” level as Monica.
“You just entered the tower?”
“Is that so, then it might be Ishtar’s misunderstanding.”
She’s just giving up that easily? Without even pursuing his thoughtless question, the Cadres Guard turned her back on him as if to say she’d already lost interest.
“Okay, o─kay, I’ve kept you waiting, Ymy-sama! It’s time so let’s get going to the Governmental Sector─. Do you get airsiiick?” [T/N: 飛空挺酔 which is airship sickness. It sounds really bad like that, so I opted to use the suggestion in the comments.]
“That’s greaaat. Then let’s go. Ah, I’ll carry your bag for you─. Special service!”
Snatching Ymy’s heavy-looking bag that she was holding, she held it lightly with only her left hand. With the metallic spear wrapped in cloth held in her right hand, her face was totally calm.
“Well then, well then, I’sa-chan, I’ll entrust you with taking caring of things while I’m gone for a bit─. Onee-chan’s worried that you’ll be lonely alone and won’t be able to sleep though.”
“Pl-please don’t treat me like a child! Wh……who can’t sleep alone at night?”
“Nah, it’s onee-chan who can’t.”
“Ahaha, see ya─”
Just like that, she pushed Ymy from behind and the two walked towards the airship.
“Co─me ooon. The General Affairs Bureau Chief-san’s group and their escorts should also come.”
While putting his dissatisfaction into words, Vaiel went first, then next, Kagura and the General Affairs Bureau Chief’s group followed suit and started walking.
“Sheltis, us too.”
Staring at each of the backs heading towards the airship, Sheltis once again walked.
Gigantic clouds passed by as if flowing.
On the other side of the pressure-resistant glass, a scene of fluffy clouds spread out in his lower vision. Since he became unable to see the figure of the two thousand metre-tall Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, it had already been one hour.
“……Ohh. It’s amazing, Ilis, we passed the floating archipelago <Lagoon> in an instant.”
Droplets of water clung to the glass.
Watching that out of the corner of his eye, Sheltis spoke to machine crystal <Ilis> who hung at his chest.
“We’re moving at the speed of sound, so we’re advancing at roughly four hundred metres a second.”
“……Even if you say per second, it feels surreal.”
“The distance from the floating continent <Orbie Clar> to the Governmental Sector’s floating archipelago <Lagoon> is just under roughly two thousand kilometres. Amazing, isn’t it─, that we would arrive in about two hours. Figuratively speaking, doesn’t it feel less like ‘byu〰n!’ and more like ‘───hyunn’?”
“……No, you don’t have to force the sound comparisons.”
Tap. He heard the sound of someone’s footfall.
“Ah, see, Sheltis is here.”
“This is the far end; what are you sitting here for?”
The girl wearing the machine helmet low over her eyes was in front with the girl whose sakura-coloredh hair was tied into one behind her.
“You don’t have to sit here at the far end; it’s all reserved so why don’t you sit more towards the center?”
“……Nah, well, it’s just such an impressive airship that I was kinda nervous.”
The midsection of the airship ── with Monica pointing back at where she came from, Sheltis shook his head slightly more than necessary.
The airship specifically for the use of the Priestesses.
Even though it was an airship of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, there were various kinds ranging from the transportation ships that were for rent to those for the exclusive use of noble visitors, and the ship they were riding was of the largest of the passenger ships. The performance of the vehicle was a given and the interior furnishings were also of a luxurious design that would make one recall a room from a very high-class hotel. It was the first time he’d seen an airship with a chandelier shining in it.
“We’re already here so what’s the problem with looking around?”
Sitting in the chair opposite his, Monica wore a wry smile.
“But look, it seems like the seating locations have already been plainly laid out. The ship’s foremost seat is for the Priestess, the midsection is for the General Affairs Bureau Chief and his entourage while we’re at the far end.”
“……It might do some good if you were to learn a little from Vaiel’s strong-willed attitude.”
The one who told him that in an aloof manner and sat in the seat next to him was Kagura.
“Ah, come to think of it, what about Vaiel?”
“He’s been fast asleep since thirty minutes ago, and what’s more, he’s in the seat directly behind the Priestess-sama’s.”
Rather than saying he has no fear, it’s more like not being afraid of anything even on a mission like this is a kind of skill in itself.
“Kagura and I tried to rouse him but Cadres Guard Ishtar went ‘This person’s interesting〰’ and seemed quite pleased.”
“She exploded with laughter, didn’t she.”
Monica and Kagura nodded in agreement with their shoulders drooped.
“……It’s because you two don’t know Ishtar’s true character.”
“Ah, no, just a little something. Rather, I was just talking to myself.”
He had intended to have it as a monologue but it seemed that Kagura had heard it with her excellent hearing.
“However, I wonder what we should do? Is that Cadres Guard that amazing of a person?”
“That person is……let’s see, well, I only heard the rumors when I was an apprentice Priestess but I never actually saw her fight in person.”
“Fumu. But her little sister, I’sa-san, holds such adoration for her──”
Kagura clicked her tongue and folded her arms at the argument presented. Her sight that was on the machine helmet’s eyeshield turned in his direction.
“Do you know, Sheltis?”
“No, I said I’d only met that person for the first time.”
“Didn’t you say that you’d heard it from the Sennenshi, Captain Leon?”
Kagura replied nonchalantly.
……It’s fine if you only say what you heard from Leon, huh.
Mixing in the unspoken signal by Kagura, Sheltis’ inner self had a wry smile on.
“Is that so?”
“Just a little. ……Umm, let’s see. This is as much as I heard.”
Monica asked with a serious expression and he kept his calm as he replied.
“She was carrying a spear so I think you know already but she’s a spear user. I think it was an old style of martial arts. And that she’d advanced to the highest point of mastery in that art?”
“‘Pinnacle of the Exorcising Lance <Gillshuvesher>’, isn’t it.” [T/N: Now this title given here is pretty ridiculous. It’s “祓戈の到極者” which has five kanji in it with the meanings exorcise/purify, spear/weapon, arrive, pinnacle (highest) and person. It should probably have “One who has arrived at/achived the ___” at the beginning, but that sounds pretty bad.]
Kagura’s machine pearl <Machina> gave off a faint radiance.
“Her data is also more or less within machine pearl <Machina>’s memory. Within Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s registry, her name was updated, it seems. It’s ‘Gillshuvesher’ on the surface but there’s appended history to the name.”
“Ah……that, that. Well, she stood out in strength when she was a Regular Guard so she was investigated by the Priestesses and Sennenshi of that time at her unauthorized match.”
It was a given that Monica would lean forward. It was unthinkable that Priestesses and Sennenshi would appear at a Regular Guard’s unofficial, not to mention official, match.
“Yeah. To begin with, her spear skills aren’t lacking. She struck down three bullets from a machine gun’s high-speed fire with a spear and cut how many dozens of leaves that were falling into human shapes before they reached the ground. There are many stories like that.”
“That is……exaggerated, right?”
He denied Monica’s mutter that she made with a half-dumbfounded face by shaking his head sideways.
“I think she can do those and even more. That’s why she is the Cadres Guard.”
“……What an absurd individual. If so”
Monica reflexively swallowed what she was about to say at the sound of footsteps from the rear seats.
“U……umm, is it fine……if I interrupt?”
A circular tray and tea set with cups to match the amount of people.
The one holding that preciously was a girl in pure white vestments.
“Oh my, Ymy, welcome. Come now, at your leisure.”
Kagura had her mouth hanging half-open and machine crystal <Ilis> was the same as always.
“R-really? Then I’ll pour tea immediately. I brought a variety with me.”
Setting down the tray on the central table, Ymy proceeded to line up a pot of hot water and numerous glass containers of tea leaves.
“Kagura-san, do you have a type of black tea that you prefer?”
Kagura with her mouth half-open stiffened up.
“Umm, could I have you choose the tea you like?”
“We……well then……one without a strong scent.”
“Yes, then I’ll use this blend over here. Sheltis will have lemon grass with a spoonful of honey instead of sugar.”
Ymy who was making the preparations with experienced movements turned around with an unopened jar of jam in her hands.
“Say, Monica-senpai, you like the marmalade with the peel left in, right?”
“Ah, jeez, senpai. I’ll make the decision if you don’t answer, you know? Senpai’s been fond of marmalade tea since before, I’ll decide on──”
Monica who had been patiently keeping her mouth shut and shaking on the side exploded.
“Eh? What’s wrong, senpai?”
“I-it’s not what’s wrong!”
She pointed at Ymy who was blinking in surprise with the jam container in her hand.
“Wh, wh-wh, what are you doing……what would you be doing here!” [T/N: It’s the difference between いる and いらっしゃる which mean the same thing but the latter is more polite.]
“We’re on the same airship?”
“N-not that! Where is Cadres Guard Ishtar!?”
“She’s still looking at Vaiel-san’s sleeping face and laughing while holding her stomach.”
Ymy closed in with an exceptionally serious gaze.
“Please, I’d like you to say the truth. Senpai, do you hate me?”
“But senpai, you’re always avoiding me──”
Ymy’s words were blown away by her ex-senpai’s shout.
“……I as well…………truly…………however……our positions are different now.”
Monica tightened her fist.
As if to draw blood, she continued while biting her lip.
“Ymy is now……a Priestess, a protector of the floating continent <Orbie Clar>. I am…………a subordinate. A Cadet Guard like me talking in a such a friendly manner with a Priestess……is not permitted.”
Ymy’s face that had drooped slightly rose up again.
“Monica-senpai is my most important benefactor. Who will not permit me to speak with that benefactor?”
Monica was speechless with her head still downcast.
A strained atmosphere permeated that area and silence stood between those two like a wall──
“I think it’s fine though.”
The two girls that were standing still languorously raised their faces at the same time.
“Monica also said she’d like to get along, right.”
“B-but……a mere Cadet Guard acquainting with a Priestess-sama is a brazen act”
“That Priestess-sama is saying it’s fine, so there’s no problem.”
Kagura said as she held the machine pearl <Machina>.
“I also agree with Sheltis. The side that approached first was the Priestess-sama, you know? That is unmistakably the popularity that you have cultivated until now. It’s fine if you bask in it.”
Ymy advanced step by step towards the unit captain who was listening keenly.
“Senpai……I’m truly happy to be able to be together with senpai like this again……that’s why I ask you, let’s get along like long ago.”
Before Ymy replied with a question, Monica’s hand reached out to Ymy’s bangs.
“……Really, what a troublesome kouhai.”
She strongly rubbed her kouhai’s hair.
“You became a Priestess and I thought you’d become outstanding, so don’t trouble me so much.”
Fuu ── she sighed deeply while lowering her shoulders.
“Marmalade is fine but I’ve been having milk tea lately.”
“Ah……y-yes! I can also prepare milk tea quickly!”
Monica smiled wryly as Ymy made her preparations in great haste.
He looked on at those two from behind.
“We should change seats. They probably have things they’d like to discuss alone.”
“I would say.”
Sheltis and Kagura looked at each other and exchanged nods.
“They’ve made up. But really, peoples’ emotions are complicated and a pain.”
“That just now was a little special.”
He smiled wryly in response to machine crystal <Ilis> whose tone was meek.
“But with this, we’ve also gained the strongest personal connection called the Priestess-sama. As reliable as it is.”
“……I can’t guarantee the reliability though.”
“Fumu. By the way, Sheltis, may I ask one thing?”
Sitting in a seat further away, Kagura pointed at Monica and Ymy behind her.
“What about them again?”
“That time when the Priestess-sama was preparing our black tea. Why did Ymy-sama know your preference in black tea?”
“How about it?”
“……She definitely heard it from Leon.”
“……I also have a feeling it may or may not be that.”
At any rate, he brought up his old friend’s name here and Sheltis averted his face quite openly.