Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume15 Chapter1
Chapter 1: The Resolute One, The Wavering One
Layfon realized that he was remembering something from long ago.
The half destroyed palace. The figure of his childhood friend, and reuniting with her on the mountain of debris. Her wearing an eyepatch, a face he had never seen before, showing to him a figure he had never seen before. And all of these things were losing clarity in his mind.
He had jumped up, awakened by the dream and gradually spacing out. Was time really flowing? Had everything become nothing through time?
He didn't know. Time was flowing without knowing anything. The morning turned to dusk. It repeated this cycle again and again, and this was all that told Layfon time was flowing.
"What're you doing?"
A panting voice came from behind him as he watched the sun with a blank state of mind. He turned around and saw his classmate, who was also wearing a working suit. His rotund body was swaying from exhaustion. The sweat on his body was rushing out like steam.
In a fluster, Layfon stuffed the bundles of wheat onto the truck with the spear used for farming.
"Ah, though this is to move the resources, why did I have to choose this?"
A moment afterwards, the truck was loaded with wheat. The classmate showed a faint expression at that and raised his hand.
"No. You must be very tired."
The classmate then pulled the truck with him. Layfon watched him leave and then went to load other trucks.
He was working on a farm. This was temporary. He saw this job with his classmate while looking for work because of lack of money.
He was taking a break because there were still many bundles of wheat to move. His classmate who had finished eating his lunch was lying on the bench.
"Ahh. This is tiring but the food is great."
A helpless smile appeared on Layfon's face.
"Speaking of which, have you found a place to move into?"
"Better hurry up with that. I found mine by chance, but..."
"But isn't Edo the number one dormitory?"
"The conditions are great, and it's close to school. It's because the seniors are about to graduate. If I had waited longer, the booking would have come rushing in and no one would have paid me any attention."
"......... It's all thanks to the middleman. Ahh, there's this person – the price of rent is unbelievably low."
Even the call of an uncomfortable voice would only be sucked in by the echoless, endless sky and the farm before them.
One year had passed. This was the most intense period for the Academy City. Not only did the sixth years graduate, but students of other years were also out for activities. For example, wanting to take the houses of the graduates because the housing conditions were better; or those who had to give up their houses because of the anticipation of new first year students. The classmate belonged to the former group, and Layfon was the latter.
The season of graduation was drawing near.
The season of parting. Layfon, first time experiencing this season, felt uncomfortable. The atmosphere of the Academy was slowly fading, and this was eating him up.
"Ahh, I'm jealous of the new dormitory that is to be built for the regeneration plan. It's not possible for me now. But speaking of which, Layfon, why don't you live there? You should have priority because of your marks in Military Arts."
"I was spacing out and so missed the deadline."
The classmate said nothing else to him afterwards, feeling that Layfon wasn't at his best.
It was such an unusual crisis to have enshrouded the entire Grendan, but the Military Artists had to concentrate on protecting Zuellni. But then almost no one knew of the truth. Many students were only hovering on the level of feeling the terror that emanated from the filth monsters, and understanding the insanity of Lance Shelled City – Grendan.
This was all they knew. The terror of the filth monsters. Military Artists who had experienced this crisis were training themselves so as to prevent the same thing from happening again. This way of thinking was strong in them, but there were also many who were tortured by terror. It was rumored that many Military Arts students had gone to find a psychologist.
But this was all there was to it.
This battle was hiding something unbelievable.
Only Leerin was in it.
And this was what was plaguing Layfon. Helplessness. He wanted to board a roaming bus right now and go back to Grendan.
But, he couldn't.
Leerin didn't wish for it. And he couldn't react to her feeling.
He had confirmed something at that time. How strong was his reaction? It wasn't such a small things as to move his feet. He had confirmed something, and perhaps it was all because he was too insensitive to his own feelings.
"Ah ~ the election. They even put a poster here."
At his classmate's words, Layfon's attention turned to the poster stuck on the wall of the rest room.
The election of the Student President was about to begin.
"You didn't come with us. They randomly picked who was to leave the dormitory, and so you lost."
"Uh, yeah. I didn't come."
He stared at the sky as he replied to his classmate's various questions. He was watching a sky empty of things, and the truth was there was only the sky for him to see.
But Grendan's sky was also the same.
Minse breathed in deeply at the pressure of the black eyepatch.
This was the house of Eutnohl. He was facing two people in the most formal living room and he couldn't move his gaze from one of them.
"The introduction is a bit late, but this child is Leerin. She's Herder's daughter, so she is your niece."
The Queen held no complaints to her own unclear introduction.
Several months had passed since that battle. Half of the palace had been rebuilt. The functions of a royal palace were being performed by Alsheyra's home, the mansion of House Almonise. The rebuilding of the administration building was finished. Alsheyra and Leerin, who have been living in the home of Almonise, suddenly paid a visit to him.
"Ahh, I'm sorry. I've wanted to introduce her earlier, but the ministers like Lee-chan too much."
The girl who had been honestly sitting next to Alsheyra felt more and more insignificant. Minse finally moved his gaze from her eyepatch to view her fully.
Did she look like his royal brother Herder?
The hair color was different. His brother, and himself. The dark hair that characterized the three royal families of Grendan. Leerin's face also looked different. But she seemed to look similar to her mother. Minse couldn't remember much but he knew of Meifar Stadt, who had been a maid in the Eutnohl family. He remembered she had gold hair, and she was a lively girl. It was hard to get a sense of Meifar from Leerin's tense expression, but he could see a bit of her mother in her face.
His brother and Meifar and their child. He thought they weren't in Grendan anymore. But now. This girl had grown up in the same orphanage as Layfon.
He never thought his brother had left the city, abandoning his child here. Then.......? He thought a bit more but couldn't say anything else. The thing hidden by Leerin's eyepatch should be able to explain everything. That must be it.
"You should have seen me during the funeral. Us two. But it must be your first time hearing my name. I'm............"
"Leerin. You belong to the Eutnohl family. The Queen has acknowledged you, and so have I. Either way, you're part of the Eutnohl family," he warned quietly about including Leerin's name in the family records.
"Uh, your words are so like before. Isn't this just the same as the time when you scolded Layfon in anger?"
".......... How many years ago was that? And I still hate him."
"Oh, so honest."
"I feel narrow-hearted if I don't admit this. Besides, it'll be troublesome for my spiritual life."
He was used to Alsheyra's attitude. He ignored her and turned to Leerin once more. Leerin's expression turned tense at the mention of Layfon. Minse said he hated him. He couldn't hide his feeling, but perhaps he might be giving out a wrong impression.
"You don't have to prepare Leerin's room there."
"Ah, that's been taken care of. Ah, but I still want to notify the school. The ministers want some opinions, so they have prepared her room in the palace."
"Perhaps someone with your unstable personality wouldn't be able to understand, but it's better for her to live at home, especially with how young she is."
"But the ministers."
"I've been wanting to ask why did the ministers appear there?"
"I see. You're quite the exception."
Leerin, afraid and had retreated into herself again, was piquing Minse's curiosity.
"But we've confirmed once more the purpose of rebuilding. She should also be concentrating on her study. The ministers have thought through it. But if you get her involved too much into the administration side of things, I hope you can at least make up your determination once each week before acting."
"You're already acting like a guardian."
"Am I, the guardian?"
"Well, even so."
"Don't worry. I've never thought of becoming the Queen."
Unable to comprehend the conversation, Leerin was comparing Minse and the Queen.
"Anyway, prepare her room."
"Ah, Leerin, I still have something to say with Minse. You can bring in the luggage."
Leerin nodded. Minse called over a maid and instructed her to prepare Leerin's room. Leerin's luggage should be waiting outside the house as the Queen had said.
The other maid went to prepare new tea after Leerin left.
"Then let's cut to the chase," Minse said, but the Queen was showing a bored expression.
"How come I feel my temper flaring when I'm seeing such a speculative face?"
Minse replied frankly. "Never mind."
Alsheyra's expression changed. In here was the face of the Queen, of someone who stood at the top of Grendan's governance. One couldn't question that this was the figure of a victorious Queen who was the most powerful Military Artist and had control of all Heaven's Blade successors.
"Leerin also has the right to succeed the royal throne."
"You mean the royal grandson. But we haven't announced it."
"Yes. He doesn't want to die yet. Uh, he hasn't planned on dying even now."
"Then is this done to protect Leerin?"
"Could be. She's not a Military Artist. The rule of the three royal families is that a non-Military Artist cannot succeed the throne, but there is no such rule set for the right to becoming a successor."
"Till now, the person used to being the head of the royal family will become the next successor. Of course he'll be the one. This has already been set down by the rule."
"Well, because of that, there's no problem to work on what doesn't have a rule. The rule."
"And also, the feeling?"
"That's right. Anyway, it's your habit to speak on the good side. Since Tigris died, Claribel......... She's left home."
"That can't be helped. It's her personality."
Perhaps this might bring in other trouble.
"The problem is perhaps they're used to breaking the rules and so are complaining about it."
"Yes. That must be it."
"The problem of the inheritor to the Ronsmier family isn't resolved. Perhaps that's the reason for the argument."
"And I had to get involved."
This meant the ministers were protecting themselves. It might be one of their strategies for allowing Leerin to come in touch with the governance of Grendan. Of course she had to show humility in the arena of social interaction and her ability to govern. Even so, people may get jealous of her for suddenly being raised to a high position. Things hadn't changed from the past till the present. Even Minse still held the same feeling to Layfon.
Anyway.….. about that. It seemed the Queen hadn't put in her best effort to debate her case.
"Anyway, give an example of those who are complaining."
"And this is about her defense. She left it all to Kanaris, perhaps it's about..........."
"So the Rivanes, a branch of the royal family, the one she's dealing with, are a bunch of royalists, right? They might revolt if circumstances permit."
Mutiny. Conscious of her utterance, Minse shivered internally. This was on the day before Delbone's death. He had been considering it after meeting her while she was still alive. She had felt that it had become reality. She wouldn't have to worry about mutiny if the current successor's power of Psychokinesis was absolute.
".......... It's good that nothing has happened."
The economic blow to Grendan was more severe than the loss of lives. The destroyed buildings weren't rebuilt for free. And debris couldn't be reused. Resources were limited. A moving city, Regios, couldn't immediately transform and use any resources that had been collected, and so the reduction of resources in reserve was a severe problem.
Though Minse had reduced his own discomfort as he continued to converse with the Queen, he only felt more disturbed the more they talked.
Layfon was invited to dinner after the two of them finished work.
"............ Why there?"
They had entered a coffee shop, a shop he was very familiar with. And the menu. But this amount of food shouldn't be enough to fill his classmate's appetite.
"Don't you know that they've added big dishes to the menu here recently?"
He wasn't asking his classmate. He was asking the waitress standing at their table – Meishen.
Meishen spread out the menu before him, her other hand holding a tray of cups.
"The shop owner has started a so-called ‘Plan to aid the regeneration of the city’."
There really was a picture introducing big dishes. He looked around and saw many customers eating the same thing, their dishes fully filled. It used to have more female customers, but now it had attracted male customers too.
"Because this is only limited to dinner, and the plan is about to finish."
"So gotta eat before it ends."
"Delong-kun comes often."
His classmate had more confidence after listening to Meishen. Meishen was called back to the kitchen after she took their orders. Layfon spread out the leaflet on the table. He was given it on the way to the shop.
"Um, everywhere else is very expensive."
"Of course it's expensive compared to the male Dormitory One."
Dormitory One for males and females had reduced its rent for new students with housing problems because of their lack of money. And some students had to give up their rooms for the new arrivals. Some of them didn't want to move out.
This decision was made by drawing lots according to a student's saving and marks (after taking into account of unusual circumstances). There were people who could stay till graduation in the Dormitory One, and there were those who were kicked out just after their first year. And Layfon was one of the less fortunate. The lot decided he had to leave.
"But it shouldn't be a problem with the money you get from cleaning the Mechanical Department?"
He had already negotiated, but the rent was still high.
Any places close to the school, commercial streets and tram stations had high rent. And the most important thing was there weren't many empty lots left. Most were taken by the seniors first, and then those juniors who managed to get a space through connections. Layfon's classmate was one of them. The other students also got a room the same way. And so Layfon, not good at social interaction, had to run around to find a living place. Though there were newly-built dormitories, in the end, he had failed to get anything. The effects of the previous crisis were still evident. Living in a dormitory with no other human presence, Layfon had no choice but to find a better house for himself.
"You're active in the platoon. Shouldn't you have lots of money from the reward? You could just use it."
His classmate was referring to the high level building. Its appearance was very familiar to everyone. It wasn't the same as those rent-free buildings. It was prepared for the very rich or thriftiest student in the Academy City.
Layfon shook his head silently as he looked at the price of rent on the leaflet. It wasn't a problem for Karian to live there as a successful Student President with lots of money from his family, but this wasn't the same with Layfon.
"I've used up my savings."
"There should be a way, as you're in a platoon. The intercity competition was intense right?"
There was only one war between cities after leaving Grendan. This was what everyone called the intercity Military Arts Competition.
The battle for a selenium mine that was the source of a city's fuel ended with Zuellni as the victor.
But Layfon didn't think it was because of his efforts alone. Besides, the most important question was "Should I still stay in a platoon?"
He hadn't contacted other cities after that. About not having contact, the Student Council made such judgment according to the principles set by experience.
The results of the three intercity competitions were two wins and one loss. Zuellni had avoided the risk of losing all of its selenium mines. Layfon, whom Karian had placed in Military Arts program, was no longer needed. In that case, his mission as a platoon member or a Military Artist had ended. Anyone would have arrived at this conclusion. This wasn't related to Karian's concern that the feeling of sometimes being attracted by the type of people like Nina wasn't so bad. All Layfon felt was he had no strength left after the intercity Military Arts Competition had finished.
"Ah, now it's quiet."
The building that suddenly appeared before him piqued Layfon's interest. The room decoration and the width and length of it differed from other buildings. It wasn't made for one person only. Layfon was deeply attracted to the spacious living space.
"Ah, wait. Wait. That won't work. It's close to the cargo area and is far away from the school. There isn't any commercial street near, but then it does have empty lots."
His classmate was right. Cargo areas took up a large chunk of the areas in the map. What was left was an unknown manufacturing area. Not that there weren't any residential buildings, but there probably weren't as many students here.
"But it doesn't matter how far away the commercial street is as long as I can see the captain."
He could buy the necessities after school. Layfon wasn't that interested in entertainment-related facilities. Not that he would want to go to such a place by himself.
"Perhaps. Contact you later."
His classmate lifted his head to watch the sky for some reason.
Meishen arrived with the dishes. Layfon took up the spoon and began eating as his classmate explained. His gaze hadn't changed direction. He was still looking at the building.
Just like a ray of the sun was filtering through the heavy cloud layers. This was the feeling he got.
After that, his classmate began to talk with him openly. They contacted the owner of the building according to the method printed on the leaflet, set a time for a meeting and then finally signed the contract.
It was easier for Layfon to move around, as he was a member of the seventeenth platoon.
The classmate who was leading him around the place had high spirits from the start to finish.
"Really, two of you deciding to rent here. Such good fortune. Take me there. That was what the senpai said to me."
"Yes. No one has lived here before. Because of its bad location. Anyway, it's old. I said so already yesterday. This building has all the essential facilities. Cleaning is provided, but because the building is so old, there might be unexpected things."
"The most popular dormitory is the girls dorm in the self-study area of the Engineering subject. It's the best of the best in its appearance and interior design. Anyone would have been attracted by that building. As for here, there's nothing else to look at except cheap rent and lots of space."
The senpai sighed.
"Though I've only been managing this place for two years, there's finally new people coming. And two as well."
He probably didn't like looking after this building. Layfon didn't want to think much as he watched the happy senpai.
He looked around. Dust filled the room. Sunlight filtered through the window to shine on the empty house. It seemed to be bringing something to him.
If he had to avoid something.......
"It's hard to answer."
"Then when can I move over?"
"Well, I've to start planning cleaning up the house, and I need one more day to follow up. Probably one week will do."
"Then I'll move in after one week's time."
"Ok. Give me the key for now. I'll contact you if there're any changes."
The old key was like the past.
But this wasn't related to whether the key was old or new. He could only think that it was a new key to him.
Only this situation was broadcasted all around her.
Nina controlled her annoyance. She couldn't retreat in this situation. The annoyance in her was like smoke, rising and invading her nostrils.
The empty space of the self-study area of the Engineering subject, the space where new dormitories once stood and were then torn down, had become Nina's best training ground. Students were in self-study mode during the regenerating period, and so Nina had a good chance to train, putting her accumulated experience into practice. No one could disturb her.
"Ahh, what's happening?"
Claribel was provoking her, but Nina kept practicing.
This tension-filled situation was created deliberately.
Layfon had used that technique and he had used his clones to attack Gorneo during the inter-platoon match. She knew the difference between those two moves. The former was to create an opportunity whereas the latter was to attack.
Then what was this?
Countless Claribels were moving around her. All of them were illusions, as of blurry shadows reflected on the surface of the water.
But the presence was changing constantly.
A clue had appeared in a place empty of things.
The truth was the place itself was confusing her. Nina had hidden herself so she could ambush Claribel. Claribel's words and the unbearable circumstance were all made to provoke her.
Annoyance remained with her even though she knew it was a provocation.
"This is Karen Kei."
Claribel had been instructing her at the beginning of practice. "Control the amount of your Kei and let it change through different limbs and joints, so that your opponent cannot anticipate your next move. Fight without regularity. My teacher wants me to destroy in a more efficient manner, but I'm not up to his level yet. Besides, I'm still not used to that state of mind."
Nina was interested in what it was like to destroy efficiently. Right now, she was confusing her opponent with Karen Kei and not moving her body an inch.
Gorneo was also using Karen Kei, the same as Shante who had been copying his moves. But he had added combat skills on top of it. Nina still wasn't sure of what it meant that he was basically just using Karen Kei.
Claribel wasn't holding the strange weapon – the weapon that she named as Kochouenshiken (Flaming Butterfly Sword). She was only fighting Nina with Karen Kei.
She never had to think about her opponent much, because the injured would be lying on the ground if she were to hammer with the iron whips. As for now, she didn't know where she should hit, as her opponent was evading her – this was her first time meeting such an opponent.
But Nina didn't move. Maybe she didn't move because she didn't know where the blows were coming or maybe because she kept immobile so she could see through Claribel's technique. Claribel's clones surrounded her, but only her presence was flowing. Her actual body had not moved.
The key of a battle between Military Artists was speed. The style of Karen Kei was a waste of time, meaningless. She should be thinking of strategies to aid her fight while her opponent was confused. But Claribel didn't do that. As for Nina, she was doing the expected, thinking of close quarters fighting and how to break through the technique of Karen Kei.
Was she thinking of this because of the training? Or would she have thought of it in a real battle too? In that case, she felt that her spirit was in danger in this battle against Claribel.
Control her worries and calmly observe her opponent. Claribel shouldn't be using Sakkei. Sakkei would be flowing out of her body as she used it. This meant she couldn't be using it. The numerous presences were used to hide Claribel's real self. Now Nina needed to find the real body from the illusory clones.
"If you don't attack, I'll begin."
The words were bounced to her from the half destroyed buildings around them. Nina couldn't tell where Claribel was hiding.
What to do?
Nina wasn't trained enough to be able to tell apart the flow of Kei. She couldn't do it with her level of skill. And so what should she do?
She had decided to stand still. But.........
"Ok. Everyone, stop."
It was an unfamiliar voice. The tip of a blade was already on her back at where her heart was when Nina realized it.
"Ah," she moaned. The muscles of her back felt like they were dead. The feeling of the tip of the blade was different from Claribel's real body. It was a quick sense of intense pressure.
"You almost failed to control it."
Nina sat down, exhausted, as Claribel replied. Claribel returned the weapon to its Dite form and sat down too.
"You can control it now. That's improvement."
Nina looked at her. She must be comforting her. Claribel had followed Layfon from Grendan and settled down in Zuellni as a new student of the coming year. She was still wearing her old clothes but she seemed happy. It took her a short period of time to adapt to life here. She had gone to find part time work after Nina helped her finish the procedures for entering the dormitory.
And so she was now training with Nina.
Claribel's expression was carefree.
"Sorry. I still have to train."
"Of course. I've to train a lot too. I'll also improve by looking at how you move."
"Oh, what would you have done if it was you?"
"Yes. I'm not sure. I'd have destroyed everything around me and used external Kei to take away all interference. And I wouldn't have given my opponent any chances."
"What if you can't destroy it?"
"Then I can take hold whatever opportunity that presents to me. If I feel that I can't win, then I'll have to concentrate on gaining time, and step into the opponent's trap. Isn't that more meaningful?"
Nina could discern Claribel's personality from her words.
"I want Layfon to participate in this training too," she muttered. It was regretful, but it would have been fun.
Layfon lacked the air of a Military Artist since he returned from Grendan. He was originally very ordinary. Now he even lacked his shine in battles. He didn't come to the platoon training. Even Nina saw that his skill was lacking luster in the last intercity Military Arts Competition.
Claribel knew all these and so she had applied to train with him in order to help him pick himself up. But it was all in vain. Now she had nothing to say to Layfon.
"We must find a way."
Nina felt that Claribel's reason for coming to Zuellni was Layfon. Claribel's expression contained a bit of anger at the current Layfon. Both of them failed to keep calm when facing this situation.
"But what should we do about the distance between us?"
Layfon still hadn't come to platoon training. Of course they were naturally growing apart. Shouldn't we have removed all roadblocks to get closer? But it wasn't possible for Nina. As a member of the 17th platoon, she understood why he felt so down.
Layfon had chosen to live an ordinary Academic life, but he was facing difficulties. Time still flowed even though Nina couldn't see him.
Layfon already had one year of experience at the Mechanical Department. He was able to make sound judgments and so didn't have to pair up with her anymore. He was an excellent Military Artist. Nina felt that he wanted to work alone.
All Military Arts students thought that they could relax after the intercity Military Arts Competition. The platoon training days and the cleaning of the Training Complex were days of the past. And the relationship between Sharnid and Felli were naturally becoming less and less harmonious.
Even Nina felt that the 17th platoon might be disbanded.
What should she do? She had no idea. There were many factors to consider, but it wasn't possible for her alone to make it into reality. Sadness and loneliness cut deep into her.
"You can only be strong."
Did Claribel say this because of her personality or that she still didn't understand? Nina didn't know.
The person looking for a good book to read saw through the window that Layfon was walking with a lot of luggage.
Felli put down the book and followed.
"Layfon," she called.
He turned around in surprise.
"What're you doing?"
He didn't look to be shopping. It seemed he was moving his luggage to somewhere.
"I'm moving my things."
An ominous feeling flashed through her.
"I'm moving and taking the things I don't need to the rubbish collector."
She heard of his reason as they walked together.
"So have you decided to move to the dormitory that far away?"
Felli was surprised that he was moving to the cargo area. She was strongly against his choice because that place was very far away from the school. She vaguely remembered that place as she had walked past it when she went to play somewhere after school.
"But it's still close to the station."
That wasn't assuring.
"You could have picked a better house."
She could imagine the rent of his house judging by the money and reward money given to her by the 17th platoon. She hadn't needed to find a new home, as she didn't have to move. But it wouldn't be difficult to find a place with better conditions if she were to find one right away.
A strange smile appeared on his face.
They had arrived at the rubbish collector. The things Layfon took with him weren't worth a penny, but he wasn't frustrated. He happily transferred the money into his card and looked one more time at the things he were to sell.
This should be a busy time for the rubbish collecting point. The things that the graduates didn't need were lined up in rows. The assortment of domestic things weren't likeable because they were brought for the convenience of travel. It would take lots of effort to take apart or transfer those things.
Layfon stopped at a corner of the bed.
"The old bed belongs to the dormitory, so I have to buy a new one."
"The place is really big, and I guess I'm the only person living in it. Might as well buy a bigger bed."
"Why are you living in such a big house?"
Felli guessed he would say because it was cheap. Was this due to his being raised in an orphanage? Or that he was affected by the poverty he experienced in the food shortage crisis? Anyway, he was a thrifty and easy person.
"I've always wanted a big house."
His answer was unexpected, but it wasn't surprising. He was happy that he could use the space that was meant for two. A spacious house must be very appealing. Felli had been living in a big house all her life. Even though she was able to understand a bit of his feeling, she probably couldn't understand the inconvenience brought by a small living space. Layfon seemed to really like this bed. The corner of his lips hadn't stopped smiling as he praised the bed, caressing the mattress with his hand.
"If a large room is good, would you come to my room?"
After saying so, she realized she just said something ridiculous.
But, it wouldn't stop.
"My brother's room will be left behind once he graduates. That's why I haven't given any thought to moving. I have not received instructions from my brother or from home to move. What do you say?"
"Iya, even if you say that…..."
Seeing Layfon's confused face, Felli desperately tried not to let her cheeks become red. If it's like this, there's no choice but to act obtuse. Even if Felli feel that she failed, she didn’t think that her proposal was bad, so she could not bring herself to withdraw.
"Iya, but that's a little difficult."
Seeing Layfon's cheeks get red, Felli taunted Layfon in the back of her mind for having good intuition only at times like this.
After deciding what to buy and telling the delivery location, the two walked back to their own rooms. Thinking that they would no longer share the same return path, Felli felt a sadness in her chest.
"Oh yeah, you received something from Delbone-san, right?"
Layfon suddenly said while they silently walked without talking.
"Y, yes. I still haven't analyzed it."
The information from data converted from the battle experience she received from the Heaven’s Blade successor, Psychokinesist Delbone still could not be accessed. Even though Psychokinesist users were used to treating their own brains like a calculator, because of the transfer of a difficult thing like digitized experience, or perhaps because it was the first encounter with something like it, she just followed intuition for the current situation.
"Delbone-sama is very lucky."
"Is that so."
Felli could not speculate the meaning of Layfon's words. However, Felli had heard the woman's words on the verge of death. She did not think it a lie.
"It’s unthinkable that even Tigris-san died too."
"The grandfather of that person who came to Zuellni, correct?"
"Yes. I wonder what Claribel wants to do from now on. I'm sure her family is in a dilemma."
"But she doesn’t seem to worry too much about it."
"Death is definitely a possibility on the battlefield. She said those kinds of words before."
"Just like Tigris-san’s style, huh?"
Layfon spoke to himself, looking into the distance.
"They were both so old, but even so I didn't think they would die like this."
Though the impact of death could be felt anytime, the turbulent chaotic situation had been too busy to be immersed in grief. Now, Layfon finally might be able to accept their deaths.
"Tigris-sama brought me a lot of sweets when I was little. Delbone-sama would often talk with my siblings with her flake. The two of them were good people."
Felli watched the Layfon’s little sister, whom she met at Grendan, waving her hand at Delbone's flake.
"However, whether you’re a good person or a bad person makes no difference on the battlefield."
Felli couldn’t say anything in front of that cold reality.
"What should I do…"
To that, Felli could not think of anything to say, and could only remain silent.
Not knowing how many more opportunities they would have like this, but with Layfon immersed in grief, Felli endured her uncontrollable anger, and did not open her mouth to say a word until they reached the place where they parted.
The talk reached the point of there being nothing left to say.
Those who could be trusted, those who couldn’t, the undistinguishable, listing them out was almost the entirety of the task. After that was just to build an escort for that girl.
"For now, let them protect Leerin from the shadows in turns. That is the most effective way."
"Even if that’s true, how should I say it?"
Among those three classifications, the most important existences were the Heaven’s Blade successors.
"The ones we can completely trust are Lintence, Reverse, and Cauntia. These are the only ones your majesty picked up from the outside."
"Though the others have some various differences, they’re all involved in big military families. Kalvan and the others also stress regulations, so they should be the biggest rivals."
Elsmau was another faction that had been outside Grendan until a few days ago, but she originally had blood ties with Delbone, and because of the construction of the new information network using many Psychokinesists, she was too busy to be called upon. There were many people participating, and unlike the conventional methods, it was no longer a single person presiding over the handling of information.
Not only could it avoid the danger of one person running away, but it also guaranteed a sound organization. However, seemed like it wouldn’t come in handy for this situation.
"Lin doesn’t seem like he has energy for this kind of thing. We can’t give bodyguard duty or the like to Cauntia, so that only leaves Reverse."
"To request only him to guard a girl, it seems like I’m not qualified to do that job."
Cauntia was very jealous, and Minse trembled thinking about the scene of himself being slaughtered.
"I wouldn’t want to do it if that were possible. If I request that of him, it’s like I’m playing a game of chess, using one of my available pieces. Ah well, I don’t have the heart to change the status quo, and it’s not like I can’t think about changing the system."
"I also look for the usable among my subordinates."
Approving of Minse's words, Alsheyra laid on the sofa's backrest, looking up at the ceiling.
"If only they came to assassinate me."
"Is that sarcasm......?"
He glared at her thin neck.
"No way. That way of doing things is very quick and neat, isn’t it?"
Once, Minse had thought of assassinating the Queen.
"Yes, but I fear that this time, something like that won't happen. Without your majesty, we have no way of defeating our enemies. You are a kind of deterrent, even if the rebels run wild they cannot surpass you."
"......But we still need her, huh."
"That’s something that others cannot grasp."
"So annoying. Even though it’s something related to our life, we still can’t understand it."
"Even if many people expect a hero or a protagonist from a story, they won’t believe that such a person actually exists in their surroundings. No one wants their life to be held in someone else’s hands."
"But, the troublesome things are pushed onto other people."
"So true. Let’s stop the silly talk here. So, what should we do next? Our movements are unclear. Rather, we don’t even know if we should move. Has Reverse been added to the escort team?"
"In the end, we can only request of him to play along."
"Then, would you please do so."
After confirming the talk was over, Minse asked for tea and sweets to relieve his mind’s exhaustion. Leerin had unpacked the luggage that she had transported over, and inquired of a maid walking by about where to put it. The others were finished, but had not received instructions, so Minse told them to do whatever they wanted with a confused face. It was one thing to let someone become aware all at once of a change in position and lifestyle, but Minse thought that slowly becoming accustomed little by little was a necessary step.
While the maid prepared new tea, Alsheyra clapped her hands.
"I thought of something good."
Upon seeing her face, Minse didn’t think it would be anything good.
"What is it?"
"Kanaris or Barmelin, who’s better?"
"In what aspect?"
He thought to himself that it was as expected, but he pretended to not have discerned it. The maid perked her ears while also pretending not to know.
"Your marriage partner. You can’t choose no one, so why don’t you make the choice?"
With that, the topic turned to Minse’s side, but since others were around, he couldn’t say it.
"My house hasn't even been repaired, so I can’t think of marriage now."
Because of his brother Herder’s elopement and disappearance, the Eutnohl house had suffered a great loss. Because of the family situation, relatives of the Eutnohl had kept their distance, and focused on strengthening the power of the royal offshoot Military Artist Rivanes family.
Frankly, among the three royal families, house Eutnohl was the poorest.
The task in front of Minse was to revive the house. Actually, he was also involved in the use of a few roaming buses that conducted information trading.
"So, wouldn’t it be nice to marry Kanaris? "
"......It’s not that easy."
"You don’t want to rely on your bride’s connections and financials? Then pick Barmelin. She’s not from some elite Military Artist family, and her parent’s strength and status are pretty distant to the point of where they wonder how they produced her, and she’s not part of any faction."
Behind Minse was his wet nurse, making a gesture as if to say "say more say more". Minse made an unpleasant expression.
"I haven’t thought of it."
"Aiya, it’s the obligation of the three royal families to produce even more excellent Military Artists."
"If that's the case, you should begin first. Aren’t you older than me?"
"But you’ll definitely become old first."
Cleverly countered, Minse breathed out a long sigh.
After parting with Felli and returning to the dorm, Layfon was surprised to feel that the room had become more spacious.
One room had used the two-person room. He had felt happy that the room was so spacious, but somehow after placing his things he had felt it was no longer as spacious. Originally, the room’s furniture had been prepared beforehand, so he hadn’t really thought of buying anything.
However, he had been here for almost a year. When the sixth-years left, Layfon would change from a first-year into a second-year.
He didn’t feel like he had accomplished anything or that he could accomplish anything. The time had flowed. Things had changed. The Layfon who had just moved in here could no longer be seen.
Layfon didn’t know how to handle the inexpressible feeling passing through in his chest. He had been abandoned by Leerin, but even though he was sad, his heart wasn’t heavy. Time flied. And even if one did nothing at all, he could grasp hold of the strength to stand back up.
If one couldn’t stand up then there was only death. On the battlefield, wavering at seeing someone close die in front of you would weigh you down. Layfon didn’t know how many times he had seen that kind of scene. Though the situations were different, after seeing that kind of scene many times, Layfon had stood up. He had that kind of feeling.
He suddenly remembered.
About the time Claribel challenged him to a duel upon his return to Zuellni. Though she said it would just be practice, he felt that she took it as the real thing. Or maybe she would fight seriously even if it were practice, it could be her style.
Perhaps that was the manner of thinking of one who was accustomed to the battlefield.
Though she was helpless to follow the Academy City’s safety guidelines and protective equipment that covered her Kochouenshiken (Flaming Butterfly Sword), she soon got used to it, and then fought Layfon.
The result was Layfon's defeat.
There was nothing to say about it. Those who understood Layfon, regardless of strength, would be clear that he would be defeated.
A surprised Claribel asked.
"You aren’t that kind of person, right?"
Having forcefully brought him to this secluded place on the city outskirts, in the mostly undisturbed atmosphere, with her face almost devoid of sweat, Claribel glared at Layfon who had fallen down on his bottom after she got over her surprise.
"I didn’t come to Zuellni to see you like this."
Claribel’s words were sharp and merciless. Layfon only remained silent. The Sapphire Dite had fallen by his side, and Layfon averted his gaze, not daring to even look at the cold light that it gave out.
"I don’t know what turned you into this."
She didn’t know Leerin. It was unclear whether she knew Leerin now, but at the time she had not known her.
"Anyone would think you shameful if they saw you now."
"I think so."
"Aside from being able to see many different things after leaving home, I always thought I had to do this. In order to keep my back straight in front of that man, I had to do this."
"That’s the reason that I came here."
Perhaps because Layfon didn’t make any response, Claribel became irritated, and walked away.
"I...... don’t want to see you like this."
"But, it’s just my selfish thinking."
A voice lowing in volume reached Layfon’s ears as though melting into the air, and then Claribel’s lilting voice disappeared in an instant.
......In order to keep my back straight in front of that man.
That must be Tigris. She had come to Zuellni first in order to keep from shaming her great grandfather, and secondly because there were more important things than succeeding her house. That was defeating Layfon. Then, it was to become a Heaven’s Blade successor. If it were only to train, then it would be much better to go to Grendan where strength gathered.
He couldn’t understand. Even though he couldn’t understand, she had indeed come here with a definite aim.
Even Layfon didn’t think this should continue. He didn’t want to let many people see his current slackened appearance. Of course they included his companions in Zuellni. There was also his father and those at the orphanage, and he also didn’t want Lintence to see this.
......He didn’t want Leerin to see it either.
But, what should he do?
What would he stand up for, perhaps that was the real question. His original purpose for enrolling was to search for a new self, but that had changed because of Zuellni’s situation, and he had become careless. Later due to some unknown changes, he had been pulled into the middle of a big commotion involving Grendan.
In a sense, Leerin had abandoned Layfon for the sake of letting him return to his original position. It could be interpreted that way. Thinking about Leerin made his chest hurt, because he protested against Leerin’s ideas, but had no other ideas of his own. If this were reality, if only he could completely return. He couldn’t even clearly form his own feelings towards Leerin.
When he became aware of this situation, things had already been destroyed.
He really didn’t understand.
Once again, Layfon had become unsure of his feelings.
It was this kind of feeling again, and he didn’t know what was a good thing to do.
He hadn’t really changed since the time he entered school.
Could he ignore the changes in front of him and continue walking?
Thinking of that, Layfon felt his chest hurt.
He threw his body onto the bed and rolled around. His excitement of obtaining a new room was quickly blown away. Even if he abandoned everything, collapsed on the bed, he still couldn’t act as if nothing had happened.
His thoughts were running wild, like a torrent, and something was screaming. Then, Layfon blocked his ears, and closed his eyes.
In a new place that welcomed the night, it was very quiet. She wore a nightgown from the many types of clothes that Alsheyra had bought for her, looking out from the window that was large enough to suit the palace. On the other side was a balcony, but she didn’t feel like going out, only looking out from inside.
She could see the Eutnohl house’s garden and the skyline of Grendan.
If one’s location changed, the scenery of the city also changed. This was something that she learned after she entered the school dormitory. It had only been one year. No, it wasn’t even a year yet, but it would be soon, so calling it one year wouldn’t be a problem. In that one year, she never thought the landscape she could see again would have already changed.
No, it could be said that this year had a constantly changing landscape. After entering school, up until her leave of absence, and then leaving for Zuellni. The things she had seen on her journey, and the events that had happened in Zuellni. Though she hadn’t thought she would decide to return to Grendan so quickly.
She hadn’t thought that not only would the scenery change, but she herself would also change.
Leerin softly touched the eyepatch covering her right eye.
Saya had once again returned to the inner sanctuary. She had said that, though she didn’t know whether she would be able to sleep, she had no choice but to stay in the palace. Even though Leerin wished for Saya to teach her more things, she didn’t know after all what she wanted her to teach, and had no way to retain her.
Right now she was Leerin Eutnohl. She could confirm this as reality from the scenery outside and by turning her head to look back at the big room. This was the conclusion. In her heart she had already decided not to make those insignificant confirmations, so she observed the room. Even though it was for a single person, the bed was cleverly separated from the rest of the space. If this were the orphanage, this space would be enough for everyone to sleep in.
Thinking here, the night would quickly be over.
"......Oh well, get used to it already, Leerin."
She said to herself.
There were many things. Her reality was missing. Reality had changed. Right now she was Leerin Eutnohl.
She had to get used to many things.
"Well, before I sleep, I should write some of the report."
She had submitted a notice of reentry to her school in Grendan. Unfortunately, during the chaotic situation, Leerin had no time to receive her scholarship certificate from Zuellni. However, due to the Queen, she could be admitted as a second-year in Grendan after she finished her report.
First, she must return to a normal life.
Her normal life as Leerin Eutnohl.
Life was not all excitement.