So much stupid stuff happening in real life. For example, my phone broke down and when I got a new one, my phone provider told me it was blacklisted or had hardware issues. I called Google up (I bought it off the Play store) and they said to ship it back and they’d ship me a new one. So I hold onto the first one and the second one’s apparently not working either? So I go to a nearby outlet of my phone provider and they prove that whoever was selling me the SIM cards was full of shit because their cards were all defective. Great thing is…I had to go back to where I bought the SIM card to get it fixed. That only wasted like $20 and a whole shit load of time…
Other various issues like that arose over the past week as well. What is up with this week.
On the other hand, I managed to finish part 1, so that’s good.
EDIT: For those of you that need images, these are mountain cherry trees: http://blog-imgs-38.fc2.com/t/a/n/tanuhata/hed_img.jpg.
Sunlight that made one think of the height of summer shined down brilliantly upon the outdoor training grounds.
In a corner of the grounds which had a desert that spread as far as the horizon, rocky terrain, a marsh and large roaring waterfall──
Gripping her shining silver badge, Kagura held it high up.
“A-Amazing! L-look, look. On the display in the corner, in the ‘merit points‘ field, there are 75 points. The points from the Governmental Sector expedition have been added!”
“So noisy. Everybody got them so they know without you ranting about it.”
He glanced at his own badge and tucked it away at his chest with disinterest.
“I-It’s fine, isn’t it! One should be honestly happy in times like this. Come on, don’t put yours away and show it to me!”
She held out her hands.
“Haa? It’s not interesting looking at other people’s badges.”
“It’s fine. Come on, quickly……mm? H-huh? Why are your points higher than mine? What’s the meaning of these 102 points? Did you go out on a mission without us knowing?”
“Like I’d do such annoying stuff.”
Vaiel snatched his badge from Kagura who was repeatedly tilting her head.
“Before we went to the Governmental Sector, the theme for final selection of the unit was patrolling the Nature District. Somebody got exhausted by a Yuugenshu and caused me great pains, or did you forget?”
The redness of Kagura’s cheeks shot up under the machine helmet.
It had been Vaiel who saved her at the last moment when she’d been attacked by a Yuugenshu and he had repelled it while covered completely in wounds. It was necessary to earn ‘merit points‘ to be promoted in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> and other than missions, there were other ways to gain points like defeating Yuugenshu.
“Ahh, now that you mention it, the points for defeating a Yuugenshu are also included. The difference in your merit points is 27, so it’s being classified as a small Yuugenshu. You would’ve earned twice as much if it were a little larger.”
“Like I can fight something that big.”
Vaiel folded his arms in response to the murmuring from machine crystal <Ilis>.
“……Come to think of it, how many points are necessary for the all-important promotion to Regular Guard?”
“Think of it as being around 300.”
Monica, who was cooling off in a tree’s shade, replied immediately.
“You can register for the Regular Guard exam when you save up 300 points. Even if you don’t pass within a year, you can continue to take on missions and you should be exempted from the written exam at 450 points.”
“If you think of it like that……I have pretty much half.”
Sitting on the bench in the tree’s shade, Sheltis also took out his badge.
179 merit points. This was the sum of the Governmental Sector mission as well as the investigation mission to the floating archipelago <Lagoon> with Leon. He’d also repelled at Yuugenshu that time so that was added as well.
Two missions and two cases of repelling Yuugenshu. With that, his merit points had passed over the halfway point.
“How about Monica?”
“I have 231 points……since I was part of different units to fill the number requirements before creating this one. I have a little from that time.”
“Ohh. But that’s impressive; you’ll have 300 points with just a little more like that.”
“Th-that is……I’ve been a Cadet Guard for some years now. It normally takes just over a year to accumulate them……I’m more of a failure of a Cadet Guard.”
Monica looked down with her face a little red.
“Well, that’s true, it should take around a year if you seriously gather them at a steady pace. If you think of it like that, you could say the expedition to the Governmental Sector this time is receiving special treatment. For other missions, the usual is 10 or 20 points.”
It looked like it really was hot standing out in direct sunlight as Kagura took off her machine helmet and wiped the sweat from her brow.
“Also, by standard, even if you complete a mission unharmed, you can’t apply consecutively. You’re free to take on missions but it seems you won’t receive merit points.”
“Was there such a rule?”
“It’s just that you don’t know, Vaiel. This is an something from when there was no merit points system but it seems like there was a two-person group of absurdly strong Cadet Guards.”
It looked like she was still hot because Kagura started fanning herself with her hand.
“It was even said that there was no mission those two couldn’t complete together and they would complete a mission every week systematically, advancing to Regular Guards just like that. It should have repainted the fastest recorded promotion at the time. This became a problem further in the future.”
“Mm, hey, wait. What’s the problem with that? It’s not bad, is it?”
“There were no issues with those two themselves. The problem was the flood of Cadet Guards that took their success as an example and continuously submitted applications for missions.”
The girl indicated the training grounds with her eyes.
Amongst those several instructors were watching over were those repeating mock battles, Cadet Guards running through the hot sand with weights all over and those silently focused on muscle training.
“There are many Cadet Guards with superficial experience and who are unskilled, right? Those Cadet Guards can’t succeed if they challenge a mission without minding the difficulty……as a result, there were successive cases where they failed or were wounded and hospitalized.”
“So it’s about knowing your limits. Sheesh, there are morons no matter the age.”
Vaiel returned to reclining on the bench.
“Well, the moronic group is at fault, but the audacious group of two shares the same fault. Because of them, now it’s become a pain in the ass to take on a mission.”
“……Could I say it’s the fault of youth?”
“Ahh, n-no, no, nothing at all!?”
With the quick-eared young man’s question, Sheltis frantically waved his hands.
……I can’t say it.
……That it was Leon and I.
They would take two missions in a day, return to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> just after an all-nighter and then leave on another mission an hour later. Now that he thought of it, even he thought it was reckless.
“It’s true that there are some inconveniences, but I think the current system is good.”
Putting down the machine helmet at her feet, Kagura did some flexibility stretches before training.
“Leaving aside that I’m busy with research work, I think that going out on a mission every week is dangerous. Fatigue would build up without your notice and it would the worst if you became too used to missions and went lax resulting in an incident. Rather than that, it’s better to properly undergo moderate training──”
“Hohoh, that’s admirable, Kagura.”
Kagura’s pointed ears stood up at the sudden appearance of somebody behind her. She turned towards the owner of the voice with trepidation and a pale expression…………
“It’s truly admirable, Kagura; I didn’t expect you to be so admirably dedicated.”
A tall woman wearing a dark blue suit that had not a wrinkle upon it. She held her preferred black whip with both hands and she was smoking a cigarette as thin as string.
“You’ve been skipping my training lately with being busy with research as the stated reason. Just when I thought your research had finally calmed down, you were absent from my training because of the expedition to the Governmental Sector. For this last month, I think you’ve been absent from training more than you’ve attended. Now then, is my memory mistaken?”
Her pointed ears drooped and sweat ran from her brow like a waterfall.
Opposite that, the instructor looked down at her with an intrepid smile.
“With all that, I didn’t think you would have such ambition to train. I’m not a demon: I’ll accept absences with valid reasons and I also very rarely hold back on the training. ──But if you want to train that badly, then it can’t be helped. It’s also hard on me to train Cadet Guards until they’re ragged but it’s different if they desire that themselves.”
“Even though you look so ridiculously happyyyyy──────!?”
“You talk too much; let’s go.”
Kagura was grabbed by the nape and started to get dragged away. She screamed like prey that had been caught by a carnivorous predator.
“H-Help me! M-Monica? A member of your unit is in fatal danger! Sheltis and Vaiel too──”
With that scene before them, the decisions of the remaining members were swift and correct.
“……Come to think of it, I made an appointment to check up on the wound I received from Golden <Maha> at the Governmental Sector.”
“Ah, I-I also feel like I did that. If you’re going to the one on floor 22, let’s go together.”
“……The deadline for the manuscript of my ‘Wild Grasses Encyclopedia‘ is coming up soon too.”
Turning their backs, Sheltis and the others all sprinted away simultaneously at full speed.
It felt like Kagura shouted out something behind them but the fault lay with she who had summoned the demon instructor.
“Well then, Kagura, take your time with the instructor.”
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 21.
“Uu……it was cruel.”
Covered in sand and dust, her formal wear was completely worn out. Kagura returned like that with tottering steps late in the evening.
“If it’s something like being trained ragged by the instructor, then going on a mission and not receiving merit points is better. Monica, please find our next mission as soon as possible.”
She looked pretty tired. Slumped over the floating machine pearl <Machina>, Kagura made no move to descend to the ground.
“By the way……what is this meeting room?”
Despite being dead tired, it seemed that only her curiosity was full of vigor as she looked around restlessly.
It was an all-around white room.
There was no table and thus no meeting-use whiteboard. There were just barely enough folding chairs for them piled up in a corner of the room.
“It’s our unit’s private base. I received a message that our unit has finally received official approval and the administrative officer’s electronic registration is complete.”
Monica pointed at the folding chairs.
“This is our private meeting area from today onwards. The use differs from unit to unit so these are the only furnishings. They said that if we require a table or whiteboard, then we can apply for them and they will allocate them to us.”
“So we’ve got a private space; it’s starting to get more like a unit.”
“Vaiel, I’ll just put this out there, but don’t use this place for your naps. It looks like if it’s used for reasons outside of our goals, it’ll get confiscated.”
She seemed to have hit the bullseye since Vaiel crossed his legs with the same sour face.
“But you know, wouldn’t it be hard for them to find out? If it’s our private space, doesn’t that mean that only our badges’ identification numbers can unlock it?”
There was no way for other people to suspect him of sleeping in this room. Only the four here could unlock the room.
“That’s right, or so I’d like to say.”
“Ah, I can open this room. Rather, the only ones who can’t open this room are other Cadet Guards and Regular Guards; Elite Guards that hold the rank of Captain or higher can unlock it just like that.”
Machine crystal <Ilis> smoothly continued Monica’s words.
But upon hearing that, Vaiel’s smile became even more relaxed.
“Then there’s no problem. Is some great and mighty Elite Guard or above gonna even come to this lower floor? If there’s any chance, it’ll be the instructor but the instructor usually instructs Cadet Guards at the training grounds.”
“Now that you mention it, that might be the case.”
Machine crystal <Ilis> blinked and Sheltis ended up agreeing without thinking.
“But you know, Vaiel. If by chance a superior──”
“Ahh? Just where would you find great and mighty people with such idle curiosity──”
It came before Vaiel finished speaking.
With an electronic sound, the electronic doors slid to the sides slowly.
Vaiel fell silent with his mouth half-open.
There was no way someone above Elite Guard level would come to this low a floor and there was no way they would visit them. Why is it opening even though the meeting room’s door shouldn’t open?
“Ah, umm……I heard that you’d be here when I asked Instructor Yumelda.”
In front of the fully opened doors, a girl in pure white vestments bowed her head.
“……Why is a Priestess here?”
Monica and Kagura’s eyes were spinning.
“Oh my, Ymy, welcome. We don’t have anything other than folding chairs but will you take a seat?”
“No, I just came to apologize.”
Remaining diffidently near the wall, Ymy once again bowed her head deeply.
“Well, I’m sorry! I didn’t participate in the meeting today and caused you problems……I heard the major points from Ishtar-san!”
Looking closely at the expression of his childhood friend whose off-gold hair was fluttering ── Sheltis raised his brows at some thoughts that didn’t appear on his face.
……Ymy’s eyes are swollen.
The area around her eyelids was slightly red and looked like she’d cried her eyes out. It was pretty much fully concealed behind her bangs so it was almost a coincidence that Sheltis had noticed. The other three hadn’t noticed.
“Ymy……sama, we were told that you were in training until just prior.”
“Y-yes. That’s right, and a little…………well……I was a little willful.”
“Willful? With training?”
Monica’s gaze narrowed. For she who had been Ymy’s senpai when she was an apprentice Priestess, she was still concerned with her kouhai’s condition even now.
“N-No, it’s just a minor……thing.”
Averting her eyes from Monica’s line of sight, Ymy turned around as if running away.
“Well then, I’m sorry. I’ll be going now!”
“Ah, wait a second! Ymy!”
Monica’s outstretched hand stopped just before touching the Priestess’ vestment.
“……It can’t be helped; it must be major if she’s unwilling to talk about it.”
Monica shook her head weakly.
“So what do we do, unit leader? I’d really like to head back and sleep right now.”
“I know. We’ll disperse for today and take a day off for tomorrow. We’ll continue as usual from early morning training the day after. ……Since we haven’t had sufficient rest since returning from the Governmental Sector.”
She took a deep breath while rubbing her eyes that were heavy with fatigue.
“Waa, it’s an entire day off, Sheltis! I want to go on a picnic in the Nature District tomorrow. The weather’s supposed to be good and it’s the best time to see the mountain cherries.” [T/N: You can think of these as mountainous versions of sakura trees. I didn’t wanna mix two languages for it and call it mountain sakura. The tree is called Prunus donarium by genus and species.]
“That’s a pity since I was gonna to leisurely relax tomorrow too.”
“Ehhhhh!? No, no, no, let’s go somewheeere?”
Putting aside machine crystal <Ilis> who was blinking in protest.
……I’m also interested in Ymy.
……It would be nice if I could secretly check on how she is tomorrow.
“Then we’ll separate here. Don’t forget that we’re meeting up in front of the training grounds’ gate at four in the morning the day after tomorrow!”
Monica clapped her hands.
“Fi─nally over. I’m gonna go back and sleep; see ya.”
“Then so will I……”
Vaiel left the meeting room quickly. Just before Sheltis followed after him, machine crystal <Ilis> flashed as if remembering something.
“Come to think of it, Sheltis, there was something this morning.”
“Come on, didn’t you make a promise with Eyriey? Eyriey said she wanted to come play and you said you’d be able to meet with her after the meeting ended, didn’t you?”
“Ah, ahhhhh! Crap!”
The meeting with Ishtar present had ended and he’d completely forgotten about it until now.
“She might still be waiting in your room.”
“Uu……for the time being, let’s rush back. W-Well then, Monica, I’ll also be going now!”
Spinning around in a big rush, he left the meeting room and flew out into the floor’s corridor.
Beyond the windows on one side of the corridor was a surface of black. The setting sun was already hidden behind the horizon and it was too late a time to play.
“……I wonder if I’ve been keeping Eyriey waiting.”
He jogged down the hallway straight towards the elevator. He pushed the panel for “Floor 11” which contained the Cadet Guard residences and sighed a little.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 11.
Just as he took one step into his room that was pretty much right at the back of the Cadet Guard residences,
“So slo─w! Where were you loitering around, Sheltis!”
“Shel-nii, you’re late.”
Eyriey glared at him with raised eyes and Yuto was sitting properly on the bed.
…………Well, that’s what I expected.
“Oh, this is unexpected: nobody’s here.”
“……It looks like they were waiting here before though.”
The bed was ruffled and there were candy wrappers in the garbage can.
Eyriey had eaten the candy she brought along and Yuto had played around on the bed. He could easily imagine those two.
“It looks like they got tired of waiting and went home.”
“But it looks like they left a message.”
What machine crystal <Ilis> was talking about was an audio recording device left casually atop the desk. The small pencil-shaped device had a sound collection apparatus attached to the end. He hadn’t seen a device like it anywhere else in the tower so it was mostly likely an invention of Eyriey’s.
“That flashing part is probably the replay button.”
There was a replay button on one end of the pencil-shaped device. He timidly pushed it,
“Eyri-nee, this button?”
“Yup, yup. It’ll record if you talk while pressing that. Yuto, try saying something.”
It was those two’s voices as expected.
“Mm〰……What should Yuto say?”
“Sheltis, you’re so slo─w. We’ll come back tomorrow so make sure to keep some time open! ──I said it. So, Yuto, just say what you want to.”
“O─kay! Um, umm, Shel-nii, I’ll come again tomorrow─”
“──So they say.”
“Isn’t that fine since you’re already on break tomorrow anyway? Rather than that……”
Machine crystal <Ilis>’ voice that had a suppressed laugh mixed into it quieted down a notch.
“It looks like there’s one other message from someone.”
Occupying about half of the work desk was a giant monitor and computer.
The terminal which was normally in power saving mode had its electric lamp flashing blue, showing that a message had arrived.
“……So this time’s by mail though I haven’t really used this terminal at all.”
“They don’t really come to this terminal; that’s rare.”
If it was for sending and receiving simple messages, their card-shaped badges had that function. It was the norm for Monica, the instructor, Leon and others to use the badge to contact him.
“I wonder who it is.”
“I think it should be an administrative officer since they mailed you on this terminal. A Guard would probably use the badge to mail you.”
Starting up the monitor, the message inbox was shown.
“……Huh? The sender’s information isn’t showing up. It can’t be viewed.”
“It’s not that it’s not being shown; it has an upper authority’s secret encryption applied. If it was a regular mail, then it could be inspected by the one in charge of computer processing at the General Affairs Bureau but this can’t be viewed by anybody except the recipient.”
It used an uncommon frequency. Putting aside administrative staff and Elite Guard-level Guards, it was something that a Cadet Guard would rarely ever have the chance to use.
“Ohh, that’s interesting. Come on, open it quickly─”
“I got it, okay, so wait a second.”
Calming down machine crystal <Ilis> who was hurrying him on, he inserted his ID into the encrypted document.
Good work today. Sorry I couldn’t attend the meeting. I also said a little about it when I interrupted your meeting earlier…………I’ve been thinking about Priestess training.”
“She’s forgotten to put her name at either end of the mail but that’s who it would appear to be from the contents.”
“O-On top of that!
It’s about that which is residing in your body but……since then, I wonder if I’ve done my best in piling on training. If you have time tomorrow, could you come to floor 276 past noon?
Sorry for being so sudden.
I wanted to tell you in person but it looks like you were together with Monica-senpai for the entire day today.
……I want to try purifying that.
U-Um, just so you know. It’s okay if you can’t come!
It’s not like it absolutely has to be tomorrow……it’s just, the truth is……I can’t say that I have great confidence. It’s fine if you have something else to do and prioritize that.
If you don’t have anything tomorrow………… ”
The mail ended there.
There was no name for the sender……but there was no need to think about who it was now.
“She said floor 276.”
“It’s Ymy’s private training floor. There are almost ten rooms matched to Ymy’s spells and a number of those can be used to purify mateki.”
The mail referring to mateki as ‘that‘ may have been for the one in ten thousand chance that somebody saw the contents.
……The mateki that came to reside in my body when I fell to the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>.
……If this mateki is purified, I wonder if my shinryoku will return.
“Aren’t you making quite the complicated expression? Aren’t you happy about getting your mateki purified?”
“I shouldn’t be unhappy.”
Whispering that as if talking to himself, Sheltis sat down on a corner of the bed. He laid down, stared up at the illuminated ceiling and took a deep breath.
“But if my mateki is if purified and my shinryoku returns just like that, it feels like it’ll end with a ‘That’s great, that’s great‘.”
It was miraculous that he had returned from the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> alive and even had mateki reside within him.
He had a feeling the passion for investigating the cause for that had finally died down and changed into “Well, you made it out so it’s all good”.
……But was that really okay?
If the mateki residing within him was the key to approaching the secret of the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, wouldn’t the chance to come close to that secret be lost along with the disappearance of his mateki?
“……When we went to the Governmental Sector, that’s the feeling I had.”
The Yuugenshu being bred within a water tank. They had thought it was the work of the Governmental Sector, but it was then determined to be the work of a third organization that Golden <Maha> and Blank <Igun-I> belonged to.
……Moreover, there’s the Forbidden Crystal.
……The Governmental Sector’s treasure, Mikuva’s Crimson Eye, was also like that.
The Yuugenshu, the third organization and the Forbidden Crystal as well. ……And me. Everything is connected. Everything should have the ‘Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>‘ as a common point.
“I feel like I’ve caught onto something. What is it……I can’t say it well but it feels like I’ve touched something extremely important. In regards to the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>’s secret.”
More than any Guard and more than any Priestess.
He was closing in on the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>’s secret: that’s what he felt.
“If I can investigate the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>’s secret like this, we might find a more effective method of combatting the Yuugenshu and mateki.”
It might also lessen the burden on Ymy as a Priestess. He might be able to become a source of strength for her in other areas as he aimed to become her guard.
“Is it strange?”
“……I just thought about how you can think like that.”
There was a ten minute pause between her words ── machine crystal <Ilis> continued speaking with a tone like she was gazing into the distance.
“Aiming to become a Sennenshi is something you have a promise with Ymy for but there’s no difference in the goal between you and other Guards in the end……but what you just said might truly be something that only you can achieve.”
Being her guard was a given, but he’d found another way to become Ymy’s strength. But that was because he had mateki residing within him. If that was purified, he’d likely lose the opportunity to near the secret of the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>.
“It’s a new complication. But you’ll accept Ymy’s invitation for tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah……I want to hear Ymy’s opinion as well.”
He couldn’t become a Sennenshi with mateki residing within his body. That was also part of the reason Ymy was so concerned about him.
……But she’s gonna attempt to purify it so suddenly tomorrow.
He was also thankful that it was early. However, he felt that the summons were rushed and suddenly having it tomorrow was also out of the blue.
“I wonder if something happened with Ymy.”
The hope that the mateki within his body could be purified had faded and become a form of worry for Ymy at some point.
Floors 276 to 280 were the five Priestesses’ respective personal training floors and floors 271 to 275 beneath that were the Sennenshis’ respective training floors. [T/N: I guess this has to be clarified now. 修道 is used for the Priestesses and it’s the religious type of practice (or for arts) and the Sennenshi have 訓練 which is the more militaristic training.]
And floor 273.
One step off the elevator and there was a dense forest which faithfully modeled the Biotope.
Underfoot were very moist mud and puddles as well as fallen leaves. Overhead, countless vines hanging from the trees crisscrossed like a spiderweb.
In this forest where a real bird was flying around chirping──
The repeated ear-splitting gunfire noise shook the large trees.
“Y-Yes. From the Shinryoku Theory Bureau Chief, this is about the deployment of apprentice Priestesses. There are fifty apprentice Priestesses this year that passed the first training period. How many people would the third unit like……”
The small boy holding a report read it aloud.
“That’s based on skill; apprentice Priestesses that can’t be used are unnecessary.”
The woman with a pitch black blinder spat out her answer.
Her body which was as tall as an adult man was covered in a camouflaged suit and she wore a longcoat that reached to below her knees.
She had a machine pistol in each hand.
It was a gun that had its firepower and consecutive firing speed raised to the limits to compensate for its low accuracy. She held those casually in both hands and casually pulled the triggers.
“Only choose the outstanding apprentice Priestesses.”
“B-But the struggle with other units is harsh.”
“It’s your job to deal with that.”
With the resounding of gunfire, small target machines fell down one after another.
She was shooting down the small target machines that were flying at super-high speeds in the gaps between the trees whose leaves crowded those spaces, and she was doing it without a single miss.
“Is that all?”
“……Ah, n-no! S-Sorry!”
With the woman’s disinterested question, the boy frantically shook his head.
“Err……umm, I was fascinated by how amazing Captain Horn is.”
She asked again in a tone that had not a shred of sociability.
Horn Nova ── the younger sister of the third Priestess, Viola Nova; she was also the third Sennenshi who was tasked with guarding her.
“I was asking what you thought was amazing.”
Physical strength that was trained to the point that she could handle those massive machine pistols with one hand easily. Then there were her elbows and shoulders which were pliable to handle the strong recoil from repetitive firings of those guns.
Above all, there was her supernatural firing accuracy which never let her miss her target even with both eyes covered.
A blinder over her eyes. In other words, Horn didn’t see the target. Without regard for that, the bullets she fired seemed to be sucked towards the center of the target machines. It was a scene that would cause normal people to doubt their eyes.
“I……If I practice, will I be able to become like the Captain──”
“Discard pointless thoughts.”
The odd jobs boy spoke some words and Horn fired off words of rejection.
“Whether it’s talent, environment, effort, time, personality or body, nothing fits. The mechanically armored soldiers <Ex Machina> that you’re talking about are generalists that can handle any heavy firepower gun to suit the circumstances. What can you do when you don’t have any of the required factors?”
Horn’s gunfire didn’t stop even as the boy was at a loss for words and downcast.
“Is that all?”
The boy turned his back to her while still downcast after putting the report under his arm. He walked towards the elevator wordlessly like that.
Without having walked several steps, Horn’s voice called the boy’s name.
The two machine pistols that were still letting off white smoke from their barrels were thrown high up into the air.
“Take these with you.”
“Do the regular maintenance. I’ll come to collect it thirty eight hours later.”
The boy threw aside the report and caught the machine pistols. With her back still turned to him, Horn drew out a revolving pistol from the holder at her waist.
“I don’t need unskilled people in my unit. If you’re going to subject yourself to techniques unsuited for your height, leave my unit before the end of today.”
The gunfire in front of the silent boy shot down two target machines.
They were randomly flying targets. One aside, aiming for two at the same time wasn’t possible. That’s right, it was a technique impossible unless one could see the future.
“But I acknowledge your skill in maintenance.”
“I’ll say it again: thirty eight hours later. Finish the maintenance within that time.”
The boy nodded wordlessly.
This time he headed to the elevator without turning around and went straight down to the ground floor.
Passing by the elevator headed for the ground floor, another elevator stopped at this floor.
“Yoo─, Horn, you here─”
A boyish girl with her skin tanned brown. With light formal wear consisting of a short-sleeved shirt and short pants, shinryoku formal carved seals could be seen on her exposed limbs.
“Ohh, you’re here. If you’re coming back, say so─. By the way”
“……I haven’t said anything yet.”
“I can see the future.”
Ran raised one eyebrow meaningfully.
“You can only see future images but can’t hear future sounds; you said that yourself.”
Celestial map drawing.
It was a territorial type shinryoku spell that Horn Nova carried from birth like her older sister, Priestess Viola Nova. With this power that allowed one to view the future an instant prior, it was possible to tell where a target would move to and pull the trigger.
“Then I’ll just ask for your business. What is it?”
Storing the gun in her holder, Horn sighed.
“All right, then let’s have a match now. It’s been a whi──”
“…………Eh─, what’s with that. Did Leon make a reservation first? If so, I’m fine with going after Leon.”
She pulled on the edges of her coat with a childish expression.
“Time is precious and I have some business after this.”
“Is that soo? But sparring with me will definitely be fun and come in handy? It’s a complete loss if the Sennenshi skip out on training. Right?”
“Unfortunately, business that takes precedence over everything else is awaiting me.”
Glancing at Ran who was puffing her cheeks with a mu─, Horn turned towards the elevator used for the upper floors.
The floor was filled to the brim with noon sunlight.
In this place that was close to two thousand metres off the ground, the sunlight passing through the windows glass’ could be seen without obstruction.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 276. It was a floor made to allow a Priestess to devote herself to training.
“……The floor is shining blue?”
Standing in the floor Ymy was waiting at, Sheltis stared down at the view under him.
A pattern spread far out on the floor’s surface. The blue pattern’s contrast with the white floor was beautiful but it was also a little eerie because he didn’t know what it was for.
“All of this is a formal carved seal.”
He had heard it was a facility that could also purify people corrupted with mateki. It meant that a person suffering from mateki would also directly enter and exit so measures to prevent the spread of mateki within the tower were necessary.
“Sheltis, are you okay?”
“I have my boots in-between.”
The rejection between the mateki residing within him and the shinryoku-affixed floor. There was a numbing feeling at his toes but it wasn’t unbearable.
“Come to think of it, she didn’t specify as far as the place.”
“That’s right. I wonder which room it is.”
The far end of the passage was blurry. At any rate, it had the expansiveness of an entire floor of the tower so even if Ymy had arrived, he had no idea where she was.
To his right, a room’s mechanical door slowly opened.
“……I’m glad. You came.”
Her off-gold hair swayed with relief. Her expression looked more relieved than happy.
“I thought it wouldn’t be possible because it was such a sudden request. ……Did you skip training to come here?”
“Nope, today’s a full day of rest. Training starts tomorrow.”
“Ah, so that’s it. My plans for today start in the evening so now that you mention it, that should be how it is. The Governmental Sector mission exhausted everyone ── well, let’s put that aside. Come over here and enter the room.”
……This is a Priestess’ training room?
……Well, this is.
It was covered from the floor to the ceiling in pure white tiles and a formal carved seal was carved in atop that as expected. It was just the floor for the corridor but this room was covered on the walls and ceiling thoroughly, in every nook and cranny.
“It’s a room specially for me. But this isn’t a training room, you know?”
Ymy turned towards him at the center of the room and pointed at the formal carved seal overhead.
A shadow fell over her eyes.
She had remembered a painful past event ── it was that kind of expression.
“It’s not for training but for actual use. ……It’s a place for Priestesses to heal those with heavy corruption that apprentice Priestesses can’t purify.”
“……Ymy, do you not like this place?”
“I like it.”
Just that answer was clear and without doubt.
“In the little under a year since I became a Priestess, there have been four. Four times that a person has been carried to this room. Those people who had a request made because there were none amongst the apprentice Priestesses who could handle it. It’s a room to save those suffering from mateki…………so I couldn’t hate it.”
She bit down on her lip.
The Priestess, his childhood friend, continued staring up at the ceiling.
“But……it was harsh. We would forcefully lie the person afflicted with mateki mind control over on that bed and purify them. It was a procedure we would perform while watching them writhe in agony despite that. That dark red stain is from a person whose body underwent necrosis and tore from the decaying effect of mateki……the green stain on the other side is also someone’s blood. The iron within their body was morphed and their blood turned green.”
“…………So what happened to those people?”
“They were cured. All of those I mentioned were cured and are rehabilitating. There are also those that have been discharged so I’m really happy. ……But healing them isn’t ideal. To begin with, it’d be better if there was nobody who needed to be healed. It’d be the best if we could live in a world where we didn’t have to fear the Yuugenshu……”
The mere fact that somebody would be carried to this room is something that shouldn’t happen.
If the Priestesses’ Hyouketsu Kyoukai completely froze the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, Yuugenshu wouldn’t be able to come up to the floating continent <Orbie Clar>. People afflicted with the Yuugenshu’s mateki would also cease to exist.
A perfect barrier.
A perfect Hyouketsu Kyoukai.
It was the ideal that the Priestesses had as their goal.
“So! That’s not good, that’s not good. I went off on a tangent again.”
Ymy slapped her cheeks with an adorable sound. She shook her head two, three times side to side and took a deep breath.
“All right! Then I’ll do my best, so I look forward to working with you!”
“I said it yesterday, didn’t I? You also came because you heard, right?”
His childhood friend beckoned him over from the center of the room.
“……About my mateki?”
“Yeah, I don’t have any confidence yet that it can be cured but I want to try it. ──Come on, come over to this bed.”
A large bed was situated just in front of where Ymy was standing.
The bed with white sheets spread over it was not a rectangular shape, but the shape of the 十 character. The patient would lie with their arms spread out and there were black belts for restraining a rampaging patient.
“Hey, hey, Ymy, let’s bind Sheltis〰?”
“It’s a pity but I won’t rampage.”
He took off the pendant that machine crystal <Ilis> was attached to and placed it on the tray beside the bed. He looked down at the bed once more.
“Ah, nothing. ……I’m kinda nervous. I feel like I really shouldn’t be lying on this bed.”
It was also his first time receiving the mateki purification technique and it was a request to his childhood friend, which made him even more nervous. Lying down on the bed was like getting an examination at a hospital so he couldn’t settle down.
“Sheltis has been bad with hospitals since a long time ago after all. Ymy, what will you do?”
“Eh……h-hr─m, what to do. After all, those carried to this room couldn’t stand on their own. I was never asked a question like that.”
Ymy let her gaze wander through the air while silently thinking.
“……I think it’ll be fine if you just sit on the bed.”
“Ah, that’s a relief. That should be pretty easy.”
He sat down lightly on the bed.
“R-Right! I’ll do my best!”
Ymy nodded, then──
The air shook.
A complete one-eighty from the gentleness that even seemed to exude a smile, it changed to a tension that seemed like it even stung the skin.
……might be…………the first time I’ve seen this.
The childhood friend before his eyes ── no, with the form of the “Priestess” before him, Sheltis gulped.
Priestess Ymy Ele Soufflenictole.
Her jade green eyes stared unblinking at him. Crimson particles of light suddenly rose up from her entire body.
…………Three years ago……the time when I returned to the floating continent <Orbie Clar>……Ymy wasn’t a Priestess yet.
Ymy who had been an apprentice Priestess at the time had tried time after time to purify his mateki……and had cried herself dry when it ended in failure.
This was the first time Ymy was facing the purification of his mateki as a Priestess.
[Unto me, all the wishes that of which I am able……]
[ele So Phi-a-s Arma-Riris]
A release precedent meaning the invocation of power was sung from the Priestess’ lips. Immediately afterwards, the overflowing crimson particles wrapped around her body.
……My throat’s dry.
His lips, tongue and throat had dried up from nervousness and he couldn’t speak.
Ymy’s fingertip that was held straight out neared the center of his chest.
……Can she actually purify it?
……Maybe it’s possible for even my mateki if it’s Ymy’s spell.
The mateki of the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. Would the cursed power that no Priestess could purify three years ago become undone?
The fingertip neared his chest.
The tip of the nail touched the center of his chest and touched his skin through the clothes──
Sparks like lightning instantly expanded into something like an aurora and seemed to be rejecting the touch of Ymy’s fingertips.
It used to be just sparks. That grew into this aurora-like barrier!?
“The Elbert Resonance is manifesting even more strongly than before!? Ymy, this isn’t good, you must stop the ritual──”
But Ymy didn’t stop the ritual. The shockwaves given off by the Elbert Resonance barrier stopped her breathes but she stood her ground and reached her fingers out even further──
In that instant, the future image of Ymy collapsing with bright red blood spurting from her entire right arm surfaced clearly within the back of his mind.
Her shoulders contracted at the sudden shout and Ymy pulled back reflexively. At the same time, the mist cleared up and the Elbert Resonance sparks also disappeared.
Ymy shoulders moved up and down and she couldn’t hide her ragged breathing. Her fingertips were dyed with a crimson different from that of the baptism type arts.
He jumped off the bed.
He tried to run over to his childhood friend who was crouching and hugging her legs.
It was at the same time.
When Sheltis took one step, Ymy’s shout echoed throughout the room.
What am I not supposed to do in this situation?
“……Shel, ti…………s……you……sit there!”
The girl spoke with her head still down, in a voice like a sob.
Sheltis doubted his ears when he heard what was conveyed to him from Ymy’s lips.
……It can’t be that having seen that Elbert Resonance just now, she wants to try once more?
“Ha, ah……hahaa. …………Sorry, I failed. Next…………”
The Preistess of Baptism stood up unsteadily.
She was trying hard to hide the intense pain with a pale face.
“For the next one……I’ll do my best……”
In order to stop the girl who was wobbly drawing nearer, he stood before her with arms held out to the sides.
“I’m really……happy that you feel that way. But let’s stop here for today.”
“Anybody would understand that you’re doing your absolute best from seeing what happened just now. Even I understood at a glance. That’s why I have faith that you will be able to purify my mateki in the near future.”
His own words sounded like exactly like somebody else’s sophistry.
……If Ymy trains beyond this, will she really be able to purify my mateki?
Ymy’s maturing shinryoku spells.
But as those spells grew in strength, Elbert Resonance would also grow stronger. To get rid of that repulsion, Ymy would try even harder but the Elbert Resonance barrier will get even stronger?
An endless vicious cycle. It would undoubtedly turn into that prediction.
“Th-That’s why……for today…………”
It was clear when he saw Ymy’s eyes just before. She hadn’t been holding back and used all her power. With the result being the Elbert Resonance just now, it would be difficult for her to purify his mateki in her current state.
Ymy didn’t speak as she drew deep breaths.
A dry smile.
Different from the long silence just now, she spoke intermittently.
“So it wasn’t possible again. ……How bad it is, even though I’m supposed to be the Baptism Priestess. I’ll be scolded by Horn-san like this too.”
There was only one Guard in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> who identified with that name.
The third Sennenshi, Horn Nova. Born with a unique shinryoku spell, she was the Ex Machina who was versed in every kind of gun.
“That Sennenshi? Did something happen?”
“……Just a little something.”
Ymy rubbed her eyes to dispel her faintly self-deprecating smile and moved her hand away from the bed.
“Hey, Sheltis, I want to get some outside air so shall we go to the floor above?”
Come with me.
With her delicate back telling him that, Ymy’s vestments fluttered.
“……I’ll remember more than necessary if we talk in this room, after all.”
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 22, the hospital in the tower.
“Okay, that’s enough.”
“Thank you very much.”
Taking a quiet deep breath, Monica let down the edge of her shirt that she’d been holding up.
“The swelling from the internal bleeding is also receding.”
“It looks like the hot compress I received from you worked out well.”
In front of the doctor who was scribbling away at her chart, she held her flank.
The battle at the Governmental Sector.
The wound she had sustained when fighting the clones that Golden <Maha> had summoned. When she received the blow, it had been enough to stop her breathing and even knock her unconscious but it looked like the first-aid she’d received at the Governmental Sector had been good.
“……At first, I was wondering how many ribs had broken.”
“That’s because the muscle density around the ribs is thin. There’s nothing to protect the bone so there are times when the pain is intense despite nothing having broken.”
The old bespectacled doctor shrugged.
“So, how is it? Do you still feel pain?”
“……We took a break for the entirety of last evening so it’s pretty much gone.”
“That is great news. Then you wish to participate in training immediately starting from tomorrow?”
That’s right. It had been three days since returning from the Governmental Sector. Commuting to the hospital like this every day was all for the sake of returning to training tomorrow.
“Hr─m, I recommend that you only do something like light running for the first day.”
“What about practicing with a weapon?”
“I’ll permit it if there’s no opponent. It gets much harsher when facing somebody else. Well, I can tell that you will exercise discretion.”
The old doctor smiled wryly with a steaming cup in hand.
“I’ll say this again, but only practice swings, okay?”
She was relieved. Practice swings and running……she originally wanted to move more for the sake of rehabilitation as well but having resolved first that training was out of the question, she couldn’t voice such luxuries.
“Thank you very much.”
Leaving that place, she continued down the hallway towards the elevator.
“……What should I do?”
Waiting for the elevator to arrive, Monica gazed absentmindedly at the corridor’s window.
The weather was good so she’d finished off the laundry before coming. Cleaning her room……to begin with, her room was exceedingly empty so there was no need to clean it.
Like this, there was nothing to do when she returned to the residences.
It seemed that new Cadet Guards would often go on strolls in the tower. However, for she who had been living here since her time as an apprentice Priestess, going on a walk now was……
“……No, isn’t that an excuse?”
Walking through every floor of the tower. Let’s start from the bottom and go up in order. The goal will be the Priestesses’ floors. Entry is restricted from regular visitors but Guards who are affiliated with the tower can access the elevator leading to the Priestesses’ floors so there’s no problem.
“I just thought of this while walking but that child also has faith.”
It couldn’t be helped that she’d be interested in Ymy’s situation since yesterday. She hadn’t appeared when it came time to have the meeting with Cadres Guard Ishtar and she didn’t appear when the meeting ended either.
……The reason for that is that her training ran late?
……Would she fail in training after going as far as becoming a Priestess?
“Though really……it’s not something I should speak about.”
I wonder if I can advise her? She’s my precious kouhai from when I was an apprentice Priestess. Ymy also cherishes me as her senpai even now.
“That’s decided then.”
Monica nodded persuasively and walked to the elevator.
Floor 287 of the tower. Having followed Ymy, what awaited Sheltis outside the elevator was the Priestess floor belonging to Ymy.
“Sheltis……since I became a Priestess, there were four people that required purification and were carried over. Do you remember that?”
“Since I just heard it not too long ago.”
It was something pertaining to others like him who were afflicted with mateki so there was no way he could forget.
“Then do you also remember their symptoms?”
“Eh? Ahh, umm, they were people that were under mind control and unconscious, and”
There was a patient that had necrosis occur due to the decaying effect of mateki. There was also a patient who had his or her blood color change because of the deadly poisonous effects of mateki. Both had left behind a bloodstain in the purification room.
“Ah, but……that doesn’t match the number.”
There were four altogether that had been brought before Ymy. One of them had mind control, one had necrosis and one had deadly poison. That was a total of three people. Then what about the last one?
“There’s still one more person……there’s a child whose mateki I couldn’t purify.”
At the windowsill of the giant stained glass.
Placing her delicate hand upon the silver window frame, the Priestess turned towards him.
“He is in a coma. There is no pain or bleeding. That child who won’t wake no matter what anybody does is sleeping in the hospital within this tower. My shinryoku is probably……no, it should definitely be strong. However, that mateki’s propagation speed is fast……for example, even if an entire division is purified, the remaining parts will replace it in that time.”
“Think of it as an extremely hardy weed. Even if you cut the leafy part, as long as the roots remain underground, it’ll grow again, right? It’s the same as that.”
“……That kind of mateki.”
He had faced countless Yuugenshu during his time as an Elite Guard but he had never seen mateki like that.
“Then that’s even more reason. Even if you say you failed the purification, it’s the first time I’ve heard of mateki like that too so even for Priestesses, there’s no way they would be able to immediately respond to it.”
“But Sheltis, it’s because they understand that that there are people who can’t forgive Ymy. For example, friends of the one in a coma because of that mateki.”
“……Priestess Viola and her younger sister, Horn, were raised together with many children in an orphanage in the Third Living District.”
Ymy was looking at something from beside the window.
That was the direction of the Third Living District which was the furthest from the tower.
“They left the orphanage and became a Priestess and Sennenshi and I’ve heard from Viola that they’d like to return the favor to the orphanage that raised them. They keep the bare minimum to live and give the entirety of their wages to the orphanage.”
“……That Horn is?”
When he was an Elite Guard and before that, Sheltis had never been in a unit with Horn.
However he had heard about her outstanding ability and ruthless disposition that forsook others. To think, she could do that for somebody she didn’t know?
“It seems that for Viola and Horn who were raised in an orphanage, those that receive the same treatment are the same as family to them. There’s no way they could stay calm when their family is afflicted by the Yuugenshu’s mateki……and the direction of that anger turned towards Ymy who couldn’t purify that mateki.”
“Horn-san is already disgusted that it’s impossible for me though.”
Ymy showed a dry self-deprecating smile.
“‘That’s enough, I’ll do it. I’ll find that Yuugenshu and defeat it. When it’s defeated, Tessha’s mateki should be dispelled and this will all be resolved.‘ That’s why Horn-san goes out to patrol of her own accord……even though policing the Biotope is a job nobody really wants to do.”
───Ahh, I see.
He finally understood why Ymy had wanted to try purifying his mateki.
“It sounds like Horn has returned. Eyriey said she saw her at the Living Districts.”
The child named Tessha who was stuck in an endless coma.
She had been reminded of something because Horn, who was equivalent to family for that child, had returned to the tower. She had been reminded of the mateki of the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> which resided within her childhood friend’s body and could not be purified by the Priestesses, just like that child.
……That child and I are overlapping within Ymy.
……So that’s why she couldn’t do nothing.
There were people whose mateki hadn’t been purified. She felt only guilt because of that and thought that she must at least try purifying Sheltis’ mateki.
“So the reason you were running late for the meeting yesterday really was Priestess training?”
“I just had them extend it as long as possible. Yours is also dangerous, but that child’s mateki is really dangerous. Horn-san says……she’ll defeat the Yuugenshu that caused this but that’s worrisome. I think it’s for the best that a Priestess purify it.”
“Mm? It’s not good to defeat it?”
The child named Tessha had fallen into a comatose state after being afflicted with mateki. If the Priestesses couldn’t purify it, wouldn’t it be fine if the main body of the mateki was defeated?
“If the Yuugenshu is defeated, the mateki will disappear ── that is true in the majority of cases. But the death agony of a powerful Yuugenshu’s mateki is strong. There are types where if the main body is defeated, their mateki will run out of control.”
“We Priestesses call that ‘delayed sin type‘ mateki. ‘S vector, eighth class‘……that’s the common name of the Yuugenshu that Horn-san is chasing after but if it’s a delayed sin type, then far from being cured, she’ll get worse……we also have to consider the effects it’ll have on her life.”
Delayed sin type mateki.
It was a rare mateki that Sheltis had only heard once or twice. If he hadn’t heard the explanation from Ymy just now, he would’ve even forgotten it existed.
“……So there is that. But shouldn’t Horn know about that?”
“Yeah. But she thinks that’s the only option left.”
Betting on the chance that it wasn’t a delayed sin type, she would search for the S vector, eighth class hiding somewhere on this gigantic floating continent <Orbie Clar>. It was an outrageous mortification like trying to find grains of salt in a desert.
“But if time passes, Ymy──”
You should continue to grow as you accumulate more experience and training: just before he said that.
Footsteps resounded from the elevator and the emergency stairs at the same time. The owners of the footsteps came across each other at the passage’s intersection and came to a stop.
“A Cadet Guard?”
“Ahh……g-good morning, Captain Horn!”
In contrast to the stifled voice was a voice shaking with nervousness.
……This voice is Monica?
……And somebody else; could it be the person Monica’s talking to is her?
“What business does a Cadet Guard have on a Priestess’ floor?”
“R-Right. I have a report regarding the expedition to the Governmental Sector we traveled together on.”
“……The Governmental Sector?”
With those few words.
Something sharp was mixed into her voice.
“You just spoke of the Governmental Sector. The one who accompanied Ymy Ele Soufflenictole to the Governmental Sector was you?”
Monica’s voice paused. At the same time, it felt like she gulped. At the same time came the sound of a horribly shaky breathe taken with anguish.
She probably had the same thoughts as Ymy, clothed in her vestments, ran towards the intersection.
He ran down the corridor after Ymy and the two turned to the passage that continued on towards the intersection.
What laid before them there was ── in the center of the intersection, Monica had the barrel of a revolving handgun pressed up against her brow. [T/N: I get the feeling this is called a revolver but whatever.]
“You can’t even react to something of this level. To think that a Cadet Guard of this caliber would be chosen as an escort to the Governmental Sector.”
“M-My apologies. It was……so sudden.”
“Sudden? So you would say ‘because it was sudden‘ when attacked by a Yuugenshu.”
“This is a level that can’t even be discussed. In the end, Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s Guards are just a gathering of riffraff.”
Monica was downcast as she stayed silent. In contrast, Horn returned the handgun to the holder at her waist and sighed with disgust.
“Horn-san!?……What……are you doing!”
At the same time Ymy’s footsteps rang out as she approached, the blinder-wearing Sennenshi turned to her.
“Ymy Ele Soufflenictole.”
“You’re comrades of this tower, aren’t you!? Even so, you stuck a handgun up to her……what are you trying to do!”
The Sennenshi’s voice became even more of a sneer with Ymy closing in on her with an angry look.
“It would fine if she was at least helpful in odd jobs, but this kind of hindrance isn’t fit to be called a comrade. The Sennenshi, a portion of the Elite Guards and about a third of the apprentice Priestesses are passable. They have their uses. It’s fine if the rest just maintain weapons in the corner at best.”
“……Are you seriously saying that?”
“Seriously? You want me to say that I’d entrust my back to useless Guards? Then first, shall we try having a Priestess pick a Cadet Guard that’s not her Sennenshi as a partner?”
Facing Ymy who was standing there dumbfounded, the tall gunner drew one step closer.
“Good timing; there’s something I wanted to say to you.”
“……What is it?”
The two were basically glaring at each other.
“It looks like you went to the Governmental Sector.”
“……Is there something about that?”
“Hah! Aren’t you being easygoing, going on a sightseeing trip without doing your Priestess training?”
“We had a goal. It was not a trip.”
“Then you have some definite achievements.”
“That……was not what the meeting this time was about, it was about the aforementioned──”
“The case with the attack by some third organization or something? I heard you let the ringleader boldly run away just before catching him.”
Ymy bit her bottom lip.
“In the first place, you──”
Interrupting Horn’s words, Sheltis stood between her and Ymy.
“It’s not good for there to be discord between Priestesses and Sennenshi. I’ve been listening until now but only you have a provocative tone.”
Their lines of sight were at about the same height.
Looking at her directly on, the blinder-wearing woman wrinkled her brow.
“I was wondering who it was, but another Cadet Guard? Small fry, who are you mouthing──”
“Do you always speak like that?”
“I can’t understand how you deal with the Priestesses who are your colleagues and that Cadet Guard you placed a gun to with that hostility when you’re all comrades of the same tower. Do you approach somebody dear to you with that tone too?”
With the same brazenly expressionless face, Horn’s mouth tightened into a line for just an instant.
“What an audacious Cadet Guard. Protecting a Priestess, it’s almost like you’re under the delusion that you’re a Sennenshi?”
“I simply stated what I thought. I wouldn’t like there to be discord between a Priestess and Sennenshi.”
“……Discord? Who would be friendly with a Priestess that can’t even save a single child──”
“Horn? You should stop right around there.”
The elevator’s bell dinged at the same time a woman’s voice was heard.
There stood a petite woman wearing a simple vestment consisting of a single piece of cloth.
“……Elder sister.” [T/N: The variation of “elder sister” she uses here is “ane-ue”. If you’d like it in the original form from now on, comment below.]
The Sennenshi turned around nervously.
“Horn, I heard that Ymy-san is tired from continuous training. I don’t know what you want to say but put an end to it already.”
“……But elder sister!”
“The barrier transfer ceremony is approaching. The Queen will be able to complete her mission with the barrier and take three days of rest while the Priestesses support the barrier in her stead, you know?”
──Everything was contrastive.
Viola was not shaken no matter how much her younger sister strengthened her tone. Oh so quietly, her words permeated like waves upon water’s surface.
“This time Syun-rei is in charge of it but even the Priestesses need to make preparations to make up for being shorthanded. Horn, do you intend to prevent Ymy-san from making those preparations?”
“Now, go back. We will not stay within the tower for long. We will be dropping by the orphanage as always tomorrow, right?”
With a momentary sigh, Horn’s heel struck the floor. Without a word, she started to turn to leave──
“Horn, what do you do when turning your back on someone?”
“……I’ll be excusing myself.”
The Sennenshi spat that out like a curse and left. Viola watched her disappear towards the elevator with a stern expression and then exhaled in an adorable manner.
“Fuu. I’m sorry, Ymy-san. You two there as well, did Horn perhaps say something rude?”
“Eh……n-no! I-I-I-I’m fine!”
Monica denied it in a great fluster when the conversation suddenly turned to her.
“Is that so? If she did, tell me and I’ll have a word with her. ……Well then, I’ll be excusing myself because I have training in the tower to undergo for the first time in a long while.”
The third Priestess bowed deeply.
Watching her as she left with small steps befitting her short stature, Sheltis muttered with a sigh.
“They really are a contrasting pair of sisters.”
The older sister would fix whatever was complicated by the younger sister who didn’t trust people. The younger sister understood that as well so her older sister was the only one that she couldn’t oppose.
“……It’s been like that since long ago. Viola’s so wonderful and mature.”
Maybe she’d been really nervous. Ymy drooped her stiffened shoulders, placed a hand to her chest and took repeated deep breaths.
“Monica-senpai as well, are you okay? Suddenly having a gun pressed up to you.”
“Ahh……that really did surprise me but it’s not like I was actually shot.”
Rubbing her brow that had the gun pressed against it, Monica smiled wryly.
“By the way, Sheltis, why are you on the Priestess’ floor?”
Machine crystal <Ilis> and Ymy both exclaimed at the same time.
“Did something happen?”
“N-No, see. U-U─mm……see, you said it as well. There was something to report about the Governmental Sector mission.”
……There’s no way I could talk about the real matter.
He couldn’t say that he’d come to have his mateki purified. That he and Ymy were childhood friends……was a truth only known to a handful of people so it wasn’t something to be loose-lipped about.
“You too, Monica, what’s up?”
“Me? I……well, it’s about the same as yours.”
Oh, that’s unexpected. Just when I thought she’d answer concisely, her answer’s lacking the usual clarity.
“R-Rather than that, Ymy.”
Ymy stared in wonder and inquired in response. Looking at her from the corner of her eyes, she who had been Ymy’s senpai when she was an apprentice Priestess cleared her throat for some reason.
“W-Well……during the meeting, I heard from Cadres Guard Ishtar that your training was taking an unusually long time. Y-You know? I used to be an apprentice Priestess as well so it caught my interest.”
“Haha─n, I’ve figured it out.”
Machine crystal <Ilis> sparkled.
“So the senpai who’s prone to worrying was worried about whether her cute kouhai was doing well and came to take a look.”
“Ohh, so that’s what it is, Monica. You’re good at looking after people as always.”
“Wha……! Y-You’re wrong, Sheltis! What I had to say was just an extra in the end.”
“Again with that. Ah, your heart rate just shot up all at once?”
“Kuu!? But I──”
Monica was trying to take a step backwards when she was caught by Ymy whose eyes were shining.
“Senpai, is that true? You were worried about me?”
“N-No……well……you know, it’s a given that a Guard worries about a Priestess.”
The unit leader was mumbling her words.
……Well, it looks like this will end without me needing to think up a reason for why Ymy and I are together.
Secretly relieved, Sheltis walked towards the elevator.
“Sheltis, Eyriey and Yuto might be coming to play around now.”
“Ah, that’s right, we have to hurry. Well then, Monica, see you tomorrow.”
“Ah, h-hey, Sheltis, wait! I’m not done talking───!”
“……What’s this, it’s awfully noisy outside.”
Leon closed the book he was reading and stood up when he heard several voices coming from the hall.
This was floor 287 belonging to the Priestesses. A civilian wouldn’t be able to enter and it was unthinkable for a Guard to cause such a commotion on a Priestess’ floor.
So it the one causing this commotion Meimel? Or maybe it’s Ran?
After he contemplated for a little while at that spot.
“……I’ll leave it alone.”
Leon opened the book he was reading again and sat back down.
It was a usual thing for Ran to shriek because of Meimel’s pranks so he wouldn’t want to add himself to the mix. And above all, there was somebody who would be anxious if he were to move from this spot right now.
He looked down wordlessly at the table and there was a silent black-haired girl with her eyes shut in front of it.
……It’s about time for the barrier transfer ceremony for Syun-rei.
……She’s sure to be uneasy so I have to be by her side until then.
Normally, this would be the time when he would have a spar with somebody like Ran. Horn Nova had also returned to the tower after a long absence so he had wanted to spar with her but he had to hold back for a little while.
Silently gazing at her, the girl whose escort he worked as opened her eyes.
“…………I’ll make some tea. What do you want?”
In that case, I’ll do it ─── he had reflexively gone to say that but pushed it back down when he got to his throat.
“Something a little more fragrant.”
She quietly headed to the kitchen.
……She’ll be anxious if she’s not doing anything. There would be no meaning to it if I did it in her stead.
With a smile on his face that had hints of wryness in it, Leon watched the girl’s small back as she left.