Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume15 Chapter4
Chapter 4: The Puzzled One
Perhaps it was an exhausting gathering, or a gathering with a purpose to bring people in one place, but it still felt like an incredible gathering. Everyone came because Layfon had to move. Layfon said they didn't have to worry about him as he had little luggage, but everyone knew he was just being polite, so they all came to help. That was because they all cared for him. He had never tried to seek comfort from them. People tried to get close to him, but he felt like something ethereal. Perhaps everyone felt the current Layfon was easier to get close to.
I'm one of them too.
Felli thought as she drank juice from the paper cup.
Even though this was a spacious living room, everyone was talking and laughing around the dishes made by Meishen. First were Layfon and Nina, then Sharnid and Harley, then Naruki, Mifi and Meishen, and at last Claribel joined in too. Laughter filled the living room. Felli hadn't been in such a bustling atmosphere, but she seemed to like it.
"Even so, this house is quite good," Harley said, looking around.
"The rent really is tempting considering how big this place is."
"Uh, but there's nothing in its vicinity," Sharnid said. Layfon smiled sourly in reply.
"I thought so too, but think about it from another angle. This much space is just right for my research lab. The problem is the equipment. If only I could make something out of recycled materials."
Harley sank into his own thoughts.
"But isn't it just a bit too big?" Mifi said in place of Harley. To her, there was nothing in here except for the things Felli and the others brought here.
"I'll think of something after this."
"Eh, Layfon is stingy. He might just leave this place empty and not buy anything."
"But this place will be filled up in no time if we put the training equipment here," Claribel said. She hadn't returned to Grendan but had settled down in Zuellni. It seemed she had finished enrolling herself in as a new student next year. She really didn't have the intention to leave.
Felli looked at her, not understanding her real intention of becoming friends with Mifi and the others. She fought Layfon who had infiltrated Grendan. Though Claribel had her arm cut off, she didn't seem to hate Layfon for it.
"Training equipment is too expensive."
"Well, I'll help buy it and then I'll use it too."
Claribel's words made the girls speechless, including Felli.
"It'd be great if we can hold a match here. Not many people live here. If we search around, we may find a good place for a match."
"I see," Nina said.
"So that's the reason of your being here."
"Ah, that's right. So what?"
"Not really, but, well, for a girl to so casually enter a boy's dormitory is a bit....." Nina muttered.
Nina's voice was soft but Claribel got her meaning.
"Don't worry. I quite like someone who is of the caliber to beat me."
"Ah, is it all right to say that?"
Of course not. Felli thought so but didn't say it.
Caliber that could beat her? The word "caliber" meant both characteristic and talent. Layfon didn't have the characteristics to win over a girl, but in terms of strength, he had plenty of it.
Claribel had uttered her love for Layfon through a convoluted explanation, but Nina didn't seem to notice it.
"Ah, but, how should I put it?" Layfon, standing next to the clueless Nina, smiled sourly. "I feel that I don't want to live in a house full of equipment."
Claribel felt troubled.
And that made Felli relieved. She realised that Meishen looked the same. She probably felt it too.
"In that case, how about I borrow this house too? I also want space to practice. How much is needed to renovate the house?"
"Renovate? Of course that's needed since I need to put heavy equipment here, and I also need the electricity for it. It's faster for me to do it then search for an expert. And then I have to include the bit of using high density and soundproof materials to separate the living room."
Harley thought again.
"Oh, this seems to be getting interesting."
Sharnid and Nina smiled icily.
"Then how about we all move over?"
"Oh, interesting indeed."
Mifi clapped, but then she was just saying so from the viewpoint of an observer.
"Mei-chan and Lay-chan are expert chefs."
"How's that different from now?"
"Idiot! If a person is different, then the atmosphere and feeling won't be the same."
Meishen listened to the conversation between Naruki and Mifi with a helpless expression while she peeked at Layfon, watching for his reaction. But Layfon was just a bit surprised by this random talk.
But it didn't feel all that bad to waste time on useless things.
"Then I'll move over too," Felli said calmly.
"Ohhh, Felli-chan is the first to cooperate," Sharnid said with a sly smile.
"Because my brother has moved out. It's too expensive to live there all by myself."
This was a lie. The rent had indeed gone up, but Felli's family had supported them financially starting from when they first rented the place. That fact hadn't changed even though Felli was living by herself. But she had no obligation to live there. Felli found it appealing to tidy up her mixed feelings here.
"Ahh......." Claribel looked at her with suspicion. That was just a quick glance but it didn't escape Felli's eyes. She seemed to be asking "You want to move over too?"
Felli didn't back off. She still kept up her indifferent countenance.
"So what do you plan to do with your current place?"
"Besides, Serina and Leu would become very busy if the election for the Student Council goes smoothly, so I have a need to move. That dormitory would become lonely."
"No, that's a possibility, but...."
"Is that so?"
Layfon, Felli and Nina's friends from the dormitory knew a bit of it.
Nina agreed with the question.
"Ah, yes. It's true that Leu is helping the candidate Samiraya. And as the candidate for the Head of Alchemy, Serina was also put into the list."
"Ahhh, that person......"
"You seen Samiraya?"
"No, but we bumped into each other. She's energetic."
"Yes, that overwhelming presence is really incredible."
"What, so she's the same as Nina," Sharnid said. Nina didn't look happy about it.
"I'm not that desperate."
"Never mind, the person on the spot is baffled."
"What did you say?"
Nina wanted to rebut, but noticing that no one was helping her, she left the subject as it was.
"Never mind. Then why doesn't Nina move over as well?" Claribel said.
"So you wouldn't be lonely."
"I, I won't!"
"Aaaa, really? But I like a bustling place. Besides, I have a feeling that that place will become lonely, so that's why I want to move over."
"So, Nina, you come too."
".............. I wonder what it'll be like after the election of the Student Council," Nina cast her gaze outside.
"Then move over after the election. Luckily, this place isn't first come first serve."
"As I said, I......"
"All right. All right."
Nina felt she couldn't refuse, but one could say that was her personality. She was always like this except when she had to make a decision. Perhaps this part of her was similar to Layfon. However, it was better that a person knew how to act in an emergency rather than feeling tense about it. And it was true that Nina and Layfon were similar when in an emergency. Either way, Nina might move over. Then Felli thought she might also have to move.
"Layfon, is it true that the houses here are empty?"
"Uh? Yes. But I heard that someone else is also moving in."
"Yes, and I don't know him."
"I want to meet that person. Finally someone else is moving in. That means the manager has accepted him."
"Is that so."
One moment he was thinking about the newcomer, next he was thinking about the moving procedure.
"Then I'll move over too."
The timid voice that was almost drowned out by the surrounding voices belonged to Meishen.
Felli was surprised. Had she finally uttered her inner thought? Felli might not have it right, but it was true that she was paying a lot of attention to Meishen's words.
"Oh, Mei-chan. Do you mean it?"
"...........First let's ignore whether what you said was true, but I can't move over here. It's too far away."
Her two childhood friends were also surprised by her decision.
"I think what I was considering before can be realized here."
"Well, this place doesn't have a rule that limits what can be done here."
"What're you planning to do?"
Meishen seemed surprised by Claribel's question.
"Well, a cake shop?"
"Cancel the contract with the restaurant and open your own big shop here."
"I see, but in that case don't we have to make huge renovations?"
"Well, we can borrow money."
"If the Student Council gives the red light, we can borrow from the bank of the Business faculty."
"Oh, there's such a thing."
Claribel took a dish of dessert made by Meishen after listening to Mifi's explanation.
"True. I'd love to try this taste no matter how much it costs."
Meishen's eyes shone at her words.
Felli felt that the time to move was drawing near.
Felli told Karian, who finally showed up at home. Surprised, he almost dropped the cup of tea.
"Eh? Wait. What's this?"
"I said I want to move."
"No. Why do you have to move? Why the necessity?"
The more reasonable Karian felt troubled by this, but Felli had no intention of elaborating. She moved away her gaze to show her stubbornness.
Karian took a sip and returned to the table.
"Is it Layfon?"
"This has nothing to do with Nii-san. You've graduated already."
The simple move into the heart of the matter had somehow swayed Felli. At this time she would feel grateful that she was a Psychokinesist. Her inability to show her emotions was normally a weakness, but now it worked in her favor.
But this wouldn't work against her brother.
"Speaking of which, I did hear that Layfon had moved out of the first boys dormitory."
It didn't work at all.
"............Do you still want to interfere with him now?"
"You know I had no other choice."
He was untouched by her angry gaze.
"We had many conflicts, but in the end he did it as I said. And as a result Zuellni managed to avert the bad ending of possessing zero selenium mines. Right I don't want to ask him to do anything as a Student President. Besides I don't have the time for it."
"And that's the same for you."
"I think I've said it before. Since my power is about to disappear, you have no more reason to stay in Military Arts. There's no immediate danger at the moment. You can tell from the current candidates. The Student President will announce the name of the next president in the Military Arts Competition that is to be held the year after. In that case it's not possible to let you transfer to General Studies for a year and then back to Military Arts."
"What if I am denied the right to transfer?"
"You won't know if you don't try it."
Karian half closed his eyes at her suspicion, feeling bitter.
"Either way, that's something you have to take care of. When you meet a situation that requires a decision, that decision must come from you."
"Whose understanding and help do I want so we can confront the problem together. But that person is alone from the beginning. Even the helper has to be decided on by oneself. And even if someone did give her an opinion, that person has to decide on whether to take that advice or not."
"......... Just what are you trying to say?"
"If you only think of defeat, you'll have nothing in the end. And what is left is your sad self. Is that why you are here with that kind of thinking?"
A shock. Karian didn't move.
"About transferring, that's the only suggestion I have for you."
"Yes, the older brother's suggestion for his sister. In truth, that's the suggestion for you about living on your own."
"And so you mean?"
"Of course I want you to stay because the security of this place is good. Though it is a short time, no one would force you if you want to live by yourself in Zuellni."
"Then why didn't you just say so?"
"You're too hard. You never gave me a chance to speak," Karian smiled.
"That was none of your business."
She wondered when she started getting angry while looking at her happy brother. Though he seemed like he was faking his smile, he had never really revealed his inner thoughts like now. At least this was Felli's first time seeing it after they came to Zuellni.
"So what about that?"
"Is there anything else?"
Karian continued without the effort of feeling surprised. "Yes. A lot more. A lot more, but I'm not used to saying this for the first time. It's not a meaningful thing to the elder brother when his sister is attracted by a man. But that's just my wish as a brother. Either way, the problem involves Layfon and you."
"Do you think you can win?"
Felli's face heated at such a direct question. She didn't know if the anger was shown on her face, but she did feel angry. No, she was so angry that she didn't even feel angry.
"You can tell by observing him that he's got something else in mind. I told you already."
"How should I put it? Um. He's that kind of a person. Rather than saying he moved according to my prediction after being transferred to Military Arts, he acted because of the attraction from Nina Antalk's strong determination."
Felli knew of that.
"Layfon is like that. He was injured in the earlier commotion. How did he heal?"
"What happened about that? I can't investigate if you don't tell me anything."
"But I can guess. Leerin Marfes didn't return, and Layfon looks very down. If that's true, then I can guess Layfon is part of it."
Felli took in a deep breath. Perhaps it was just as he said. Though she didn't say it, she felt the 17th platoon and people who came close to Layfon could sense it.
No, even if she had chosen to stay in Grendan herself, Layfon wouldn't have been pushed to a corner if she and he had talked about it.
It was really tragic.
The Layfon whom Claribel dragged back seemed like he had lost his soul.
When Felli saw him at the connecting bridge, his expression made her back go cold. She had feared he was dead. Even Felli understood how much pain he suffered.
And she could understand a bit of Leerin's feeling.
Layfon liked Leerin. That was because she was the first female he knew. Felli would say this from her own standpoint. The first female whom Layfon met and was about his age was Leerin. She was gentle like a mother, strong, kind and beautiful. And she was always close to him. It was impossible for Layfon to understand other girls with Leerin beside him. He was used to liking her and she liking him, but he hadn't experienced romance. He didn't have the feeling of a romantic fairytale. And that was why he was so slow.
But Leerin was the first to realize her own feeling. And that was the time when everything collapsed.
Perhaps Layfon finally realized his own feeling when he last saw Leerin, when she refused him. That must be it. He realized that he loved her, but it was too late. Leerin knew everything but she decided to leave him. Perhaps Layfon didn't notice it in the last moment. That was why words couldn't describe it.
He had lost half of his body.
Romance must be accepted by the other half. And the two of them were like one existence. The two of them grew up together in the orphanage, and they must be like one body.
To love Leerin. He must accept the fact that Leerin was another person. What would that feel like? For someone who had no such experience, Leerin had no way to comprehending it. And so she didn't know what being dumped was like.
And Layfon showed such an expression after the assault of overlapping events, romance and being dumped.
"If I say his action in Zuellni was based on Nina Antalk, then his action in Grendan was based on Leerin Marfes," Karian said to the speechless Felli. "Though what Layfon did in Grendan wasn't what Leerin had wanted, he definitely kept fighting to make her wish come true. Not during the time at the orphanage. No. I can't totally deny that period of time. But it shouldn't be wrong to guess that Leerin makes up a large part of the reason that he keeps fighting."
That was probably why it felt like the two of them had the same heart and body. But. But..... he was rejected by Leerin. The Layfon who chased after her to Grendan. And in the end, in the end, Leerin, who had wanted to prove they were one heart and body, rejected him. She said she had a reason. What was it?
No matter what reason it was, Layfon would take it up upon himself and blamed himself for it.
Leerin had that mental preparation too.
"You want him to recover."
"Sadness can diminish through time. But is it good for him to become his original self?"
Felli once again had no words for him as she comprehended her brother's meaning.
"The scariness of his uneasiness," Karian said curtly. "He has that power, but he has no reason to fight. He leaves his reason to someone else. Even if he returns to his old self, would he continue to rely on Nina Antalk? But that's just one ending. Why did I say it, because she......"
"....... ? Nii-san?"
"No. That's quite good."
Karian stopped thinking of the harder question and shook his head. "The problem is still Layfon's. I've said many times already. He must stand on his own two feet. He must judge with his own values. Otherwise, he'll head for his own destruction in the near future."
"Remember, Felli. The man you like is this kind of a person. And so what should you do?"
"What can you do for him?"
Felli couldn't reply.
Karian looked at her with a serious expression.
Her heart became a mess.
Why. Why. Why did they turn the situation into such a deep topic? Oh, because it was related to Layfon. True. If Layfon's personality remained unchanged, the same thing would happen again. But why did Karian have to talk about this?
This had nothing to do with him. Felli wanted to say it just when she was a sense of bitterness in his harsh gaze.
"Ah, but, this isn't a problem that can be solved right now. A person's personality doesn't change that easily."
"........... If that's the case, why tell me this?"
"I'm saying the same thing would repeat itself if this problem is ignored. Don't you have to be more careful if you're to win and continue to be with him?"
"Romance is also a fight."
That was a possibility, but Felli wasn't happy to be told that.
"The problem is just at what level is it the best? That's the key. Obtaining isn't the same as winning. This isn't the same as the usual winning and losing, so it's difficult."
Felli showed her understanding, but she was still angry at her nodding brother.
"Anyway, the first thing is to move."
"Uh, this decision can't be changed. I said it already, I can't change your decision to live on your own from next year on."
Felli agreed furiously.
"But I'll help you one last time with all my might."
"But I can't guarantee success."
Karian showed the expression of a teenager about to do something naughty. Felli genuinely felt the nostalgic relaxed feel from him when he first came to Zuellni.
With no money to move house and that training was canceled because the Training Complex was undergoing renovation, this time could be used to earn some money.
She didn't expect him to accept her job invite.
The two of them were in the library of the Student Council.
"Are you dissatisfied with something?"
"Ah? No. Not at all."
Layfon, who was being stared at, kept shaking his head.
"Then let's do it."
"No...... For Felli to work, that's rare."
Layfon knew she had never worked before. Though she had worked in the café before, he had never heard of her working somewhere else. He was surprised that she invited him to work.
"Since I have more time from next year onwards."
Felli's gaze turned to the machine before her.
Layfon's job was to tidy up the books of the Student Council. It wasn't just about organizing the documents. He had to label the documents by codes and put them in the correct order. They had to scan the codes of the books. If the number of books in demand wasn't large, no one would bother with this type of work.
This was for the convenience of students who could keep the books temporarily with their names on it. In here were the two scanners and the packs of books piling on top of each other like a small mountain.
"Seems it'll take some time."
"The Student Council is unexpectedly messy."
It wouldn't be so messy if the books were organized regularly. But in here were large numbers of boxes. The more one found it difficult to breathe here, the smaller the room seemed to be.
"Let's hurry up with this."
Layfon nodded and moved the nearby box to between the two of them. One box was very heavy. If Felli did this alone, it'd be weight training for her. Maybe that was why she invited him over. They took out the books one by one and scanned them. Layfon stuffed the paper into the scanner. Once it was confirmed scanned, he then put it back into the box.
They labeled a box "Done" and then put it in a corner.
They repeated this motion again and again.
"Speaking of which, just then......."
Layfon began to lose his impatience in the room with only the sound of the scanner.
"Just then you said you have time from next year onwards........"
"Yes. I said so."
"What do you mean?"
Felli sighed at his hurried apology.
"No. It isn't as you think."
"Even if I don't say it, you'd understand."
"You don't get it."
Being glared at once more, Layfon lowered his head. She sighed again. He decided he must relax this time.
"The Military Competition has ended and my brother is about to graduate."
"The danger Zuellni faced was gone. In that case, I have no reason to stay in Military Arts."
"I already told you of my reason being here, didn't I?"
"I want to know what I can do besides being a Military Artist. This is my goal, and so I'm thinking of exploring it seriously next year. I don't yet know if they would let me transfer to General Studies, but at least I want to leave the platoon."
"Is that so?"
Layfon nodded without hesitation. He didn't say anything else. He knew he probably wasn't needed in the platoon anymore. Sometimes he had had this thought recently. But he was a bit shocked and jealous of Felli who always put others before her own interest.
"What is it?"
"Nothing. What are you planning to do next?"
He didn't continue with the topic. She felt he was spacing out.
"........... What about the captain?"
"Why would the captain appear in this conversation?"
"Speaking of which....... It'd be bad if Felli leaves the platoon."
"They can just find another Psychokinesist."
"If it's one who can replace Felli......."
"There is one."
Layfon found that each reply made the atmosphere colder, so he had no words to say.
Silence. Only time passed.
Felli was angry. That seemed to be it. He knew why she was angry, because he wasn't answering clearly.
(Should I give up being a Military Artist?)
This question floated in his mind. He couldn't forget it. He was thinking of his future when Felli asked him. Should he continue to be a Military Artist or give it up? Either way, he couldn't see his future. He came to Zuellni just when he wanted to give it up. But he had become a Military Artist to enter the fight. He found a job to kill time, but he still hadn't found his goal.
Could he give it up in this situation? He had such thinking but he was still hesitant.
He swallowed the sound of self-mockery that burst out of his mouth. Layfon tried to control his emotions in this room filled with the sound of the scanner. He scanned the books, and this way, the words on the page would not be lost. They would be saved in a place narrower than the thickness of a piece of paper.
He still couldn't find the answer as he repeated the motion.
He wanted to know what he was doing, but his hands didn't stop working. The boxes labeled "Done" continued to pile up. Layfon put the new boxes between him and Felli.
"Let's take a break," Felli said. They had worked for a long time.
When he came to, he realized that the labeled boxes around him were accumulating. They had finished one third of the boxes already.
"Right," he nodded, still spacing out.
The two of them sat on a long bench in the reception room that was in the same building as the Student Council. In their hands were carton of juice. Layfon was silent, and so was Felli.
The receptionists were doing their work, helping the students with their procedures. There were a few books here, and so Layfon decided to bring them in to be organized too.
While they were thinking, a worker wearing a uniform walked past them. She stopped in front of the vending machine and then left.
The girl stopped in front of Layfon.
"Still the same gloomy face?"
It was Samiraya.
Layfon was pointing at her uniform. Samiraya pointed at the name tag. "I work here, don't you know?"
"Humph. Never mind. It's public news and you still don't know? Never mind."
It still looked like she was scolding him for not being concerned with the election.
"No problem. Speaking of which, are you the younger sister of the Student President?"
Samiraya didn't notice Felli's impatient greeting, let alone the changes in her expression. But at least they had now gotten acquainted.
"It's not strange to see you two together as you're both in the 17th platoon. But what're you doing here?"
"To scan the books."
"Ah. Thanks for the work."
Had she lost interest in them? She made an "all the best" gesture and then left.
"When did you get to know her?"
"Ah? It was by chance."
He felt she wasn't as interested in her conversation. It must be that she was still angry. That couldn't be helped since he was at fault for not answering her.
Just like then.
They had almost finished their juice. There wasn't much to do. They went back to the library.
Something unexpected happened on their way back.
Samiraya was resting on the stairs.
"........? What is it?"
She blinked at them meaningfully. They looked up and saw a woman crying. Not just one, but two women were crying and comforting each other.
"They belong to the Administration Department," Samiraya said.
"Quick. Hurry and hide."
"Quick," she said, took hold of Layfon's uniform and pulled him down the stairs.
"Can still gain some time."
Samiraya bent down as she went down the stairs. Layfon and Felli followed.
"Is something wrong?"
"It's not like that."
"Uh, you're still juniors so you can't find that sense of reality......... after graduation."
"For example, best friends. You may be separated from them, or you could be in different fields. It may not be like that, but don't you think you'll be lonely?"
He remembered. Samiraya had said the same thing before, and he agreed with her. His thoughts began to race as he thought of what Samiraya was thinking of at that time. What she wanted to obtain. He seemed to know little about her. But he now clearly remembered what she said at that time. Because that scene gave him intense pain.
He wouldn't be able to stay in Zuellni. He couldn't see it anymore, and that was the same as death.
Leerin had probably already died in him. If he could only see her in memories, then wasn't this the same as dying for real? In that case, he could return to Grendan. He could see Leerin again. When he received the katana from his father, he had thought of the possibility of returning to Grendan. Return to Grendan. Return to the orphanage. Everything returned to how it was originally....... Even though he couldn't hold the Heaven's Blade again, he could return to the daily life of the orphanage, of Grendan with Leerin and his father, with Toby, Henrietta, Henry and the other children.
But it wasn't possible.
That must be it.
He still couldn't see the future even now. Just like the time when he first came to Zuellni. Why was that so? Darkness was in front of him. There was no light.
"But that can't be helped," Felli said.
"True," Samiraya nodded. "I already knew when I came to Zuellni. With entrance comes graduation. The fact of leaving good friends can't be changed."
"This is what it's like here. Six years is a short time in human life. But then six years aren't all that short. We can still treasure it. The six years here are good. We can meet many good friends in this time, and so these six years are very important for us."
"I feel pain for talking about people I can't meet anymore."
Samiraya stood up quickly and looked up to hide the tears in her eyes.
The two women seemed to have left already.
"Then let us get back to work."
Samiraya turned around. She looked a bit embarrassed.
Layfon and Felli returned to the library and continued the dry work. Though they were thinking of what just happened, their hands didn't stop. The work here was very different from that in the Mechanical Department. It didn't involve the whole body, and so the work seemed very tiring. They couldn't say much but they felt uncomfortable somewhere deep inside them. Impatience. And that was probably why the books had been piling up in here.
Layfon put a box between them again and said "When was it?"
Felli's reply was sharp and icy, "Before our break."
"Oh. In truth, even I don't know what I should do. It's fine if I don't continue down the path of a Military Artist. What I mean is sometimes I may think can I give up being a Military Artist? I can finish carrying out the Student President's order, but that's not important anymore."
"I don't know if I can win against other Psychokinesists on my own."
"I feel frustrated at losing when I feel confident about my Psychokinesis. It would be quite serious if I were in Grendan."
Fermaus' interference had rendered Felli immobile when she was taken hostage by the Salinvan Mercenary Gang. Not only that. She had failed when facing the other Psychokinesist at the time of the match against the 1st platoon. And though it took a lot of her effort to face against Delbone, she was quickly defeated.
The most important thing was Delbone had counted on her before she died.
Delbone was a stranger, a old woman to Felli, but she couldn't ignore the importance of what was entrusted to her.
"I don't hate people having expectations on me. I just don't like not being disliked when I first entered the academy as a Psychokinesist, and I hadn't thought of slacking off in my studies," Felli said as she continued to scan the books. When they finished, the two of them changed other books.
"Though my original goal is no more, I still hate not having completed it."
Felli was right. Layfon had nothing to say.
"You don't really think about the platoon and the captain. All you're doing is simply following the captain without thinking, isn't it?"
Felli appeared to be questioning him.
Layfon's mind was blank. Something was rapidly expanding, preventing the only words that could retort against her. He desperately tried to stop that thing bursting from deep in his heart. He was obviously looking away from Felli's face but his concentration had inevitably gone to his thoughts.
"I'm sorry for speaking too much," Felli said.
"Not at all........."
Layfon concentrated on physical labour to hide the constriction of his throat. He continued to organize the books. Perhaps another problem would appear before him, and perhaps he would ignore it like now. The problems would keep coming one after another. It was useless to repeatedly run away from it, running oneself to exhaustion.
"Please remember. Whether it's me or the captain, we'll both leave this city before you."
Felli hadn't said anything till they finished organising the books.
And Layfon didn't remember anything else.
Seeing the two blurry figures passing by the window of the room of the Student President, Karian sank into deep thought.
"I wonder if it went well with her."
He meant the distance between the two. Karian sighed, understanding his sister's feeling. But things needed to be calmly confronted. They wouldn't have finished the job already. Was their distance shrinking or widening? That might be a thing of the future though.
She wasn't wishing for the light interaction that would never cause a quarrel. That was why she had to confront the side of him that she didn't like. Either way, she wanted him to change, and so confrontation was natural. If Felli couldn't overcome this crisis, then there was no other way.
This distance would cause a quarrel. What would happen next? Problems would keep popping up.
Layfon knew Grendan well.
"Next........ To stand up against him again or continue to........."
Karian didn't say this because of his sister.
"Who knows? Even one person is wanted, though she isn't alone in this world."
It was rare to see Karian alone in the Student President's room. Though he knew his words that he wasn't talking about himself.
"The crisis of this world is about to arrive."
Did anyone know? What would the people of Grendan do? Temporarily passing through the crisis, the people there were saving their energy for the next fight. That city was such a place, and Karian had finally understood it.
That city was born to fight against the crisis of this world. This was the truth.
But was it fine to entrust the fate of millions of people to that one city? Even though that city was the most trained place, was it enough to be entrusted with the future of this world? Was it fine to be entrusted with the future while everyone else knew nothing about this and kept on living? If Grendan was defeated, everyone in this world would die without knowing anything.
Was this really fine?
But maybe the chaos would be inevitable. Since each Regios survived on its own, the chaos would not immediately spread to other cities. Perhaps this could save the world. But because of the chaos, some cities would still disappear.
What Karian was to do next might be to trigger the chaos. He had had enough of being controlled by fate, of waiting for the result.
He finally knew.
He saw the face of Grendan through the Electronic Fairy Zuellni on that day in the center of the Mechanical Department. And it was able to appear in between the cracks.........
".............I can't be entrusted with fate yet because I'm still a child?"
Keeping his emotions calm while mocking himself, Karian left from the window.
This was what happened at that night.
He looked at the spacious room he was in with relaxed feeling as someone knocked on his door.
Not the door of the room, and not in the corridor of the house, but right before the proper entrance of the house.
He opened the door and saw Dalshena.
Layfon was puzzled that she decided to visit at this hour.
"I'm just passing by on my way to the dormitory."
"Um, let's come inside first."
He was confused as to why she was here. Besides, she looked tired. No. She looked as if she was beaten.......... That kind of a feeling.
Layfon took a step back from the entrance and she entered. He closed the door.
"Take a sit on the sofa and have a cup of tea."
There was just one sofa in the living room. Layfon ran to the kitchen to prepare the tea. There was still a lot of tea left. Meishen had brought it over when she helped him move. Layfon kept his attention on the sound of boiling water while he pondered the question.
Dalshena sat down helplessly on the sofa. She didn't glance at him. She gazed at the curtain of the living room, presenting a back figure that made one's heart ache. It wasn't caused by physical blows. Layfon immediately rejected such a terrible suspicion.
The tea was ready. He put it on the small table in front of the sofa.
"Ah, thanks," Dalshena said in a soft voice. Not sure whether to sit beside her, Layfon sat down on the floor. Dalshena didn't touch the tea cup. She was just staring at the steam rising from the cup.
Layfon didn't know what to say. Time passed by quietly. He looked at her and felt a bit afraid, so he didn't reach out for the cup too.
"..........I have a favor to ask."
Dalshena said after a few moments of struggle.
"I have to say something unbecoming."
Though she had been addressed, Dalshena didn't look at him.
"I can't not say these cowardly words. But I myself don't know what to do. I can't do anything. There's too much difference in our strength. And I don't even know how much of a difference it is. But, but........."
Layfon felt she was very shocked, too shocked to say anything more. She was like a balloon leaking air. She kept panting and not saying a word.
But, she still had to continue.
Perhaps this was the difference between her and Layfon. She would listen and then think about the next step. Not just her, but others, like Nina, Shanrid, Felli, Harley, Kiriku, Karian, Gorneo. Perhaps everyone was like that.
"I can't step back. Can't step back. Perhaps this is obvious. I don't want them to take Dinn away."
That night, Layfon went to Harley's home. He didn't want to regret anything. He wanted to do what he could do. And then he stopped.
There was a roaming bus and many guards on the outer-edge. They were surrounding Dinn, who was sitting in a wheelchair.
They were Military Artists with some power.
Sharnid was surprised.
She didn't hear Sharnid's call. Perhaps Dalshena could make a reply but she wasn't interested anymore. She must defeat the Military Artists before her. Layfon didn't expect them to be of such level. He wasn't scared but he must not let his guard down. Layfon readied his fighting stance, and the Military Artist Elrad restored his Dite.
Two guns. It was combat with guns. Layfon's mind reacted immediately. Elrad's presence had vanished, his figure too, and then he reappeared. It was Sakkei. Layfon evaded the bullets and continued evading as he restored the Sapphire Dite to its Steel Thread mode. He pulled out the Shim Adamantium Dite and restored it. He finished laying out the steel threads to block the bullets. In order to watch his opponent's moves clearly, Layfon chose not to stay in his spot.
"Good. What a scary guy."
Sound suddenly entered his ears.
Perhaps this came from a gap. The presence was elsewhere. Layfon's gaze followed.
"Humph, not cute at all. Never mind."
The voice continued. Layfon knew what technique it was now.
The steel threads were conveying the voice to him. His opponent was using this technique to confuse his senses.
"If I were to fight you, I'll die terribly. How about it? Want a truce?"
"What do you want me to do?"
"I'm asking for a favor. I have to keep it from my son since I have an obligation to the requester. I can't pretend not to know."
"Didn't hear? The guy being beaten is my son."
Layfon didn't move his gaze. But if he was to take notice of the outside world, he'd notice the sound of a fight that differed from his own.
Sharnid was fighting with Dalshena.
It was about Dinn too, but Sharnid thought differently, and so this became a fight. The scene was similar to that of the platoon match against the 10th platoon.
But had Sharnid thought of not wanting Dinn to leave? Or had he already given up? Layfon didn't understand. He had no time to ask Sharnid.
Besides, Layfon had decided.
"Can I not take Dinn senpai?"
"Is your action right?"
For a split second, Layfon regretted asking the question directly.
"I've already decided."
"You're really stubborn. But you can't say 'I'm the same'".
Elrad kept talking as if he was drowning him out.
"I have feelings. I asked someone to draw a portrait of my son's mother."
"I don't know if that was the only thing I did for her. In the end, I still couldn't tell him that."
The bullets turned intense. Layfon was forced to move. His opponent knew how to interfere with his Steel Threads. And his voice could reach Layfon. Elrad probably had thought about it before acting.
But how was he to act?
No. Could he act?
This wasn't a problem to do with the war, and not a problem with Elrad's strength either.
Layfon's opponent was Elrad, who had declared he wouldn't back off from this fight. Layfon didn't know how to react to it.
Overlapped. The figure seemed to resemble Elrad, yet at the same time, it seemed not. But that figure didn't disappear from Layfon's mind.
(I'm lost again........)
Was Layfon repeating the same thing? He still couldn't do anything. Was he back to his starting point?
Couldn't he face it?
What floated up in his mind turned to be fear.
(This kind of thing.......)
It wouldn't do. It wouldn't do to be like this again. And that was why Layfon kept moving forward. Since the Steel Threads were being interfered with, they didn't move all that well in his hand. But Elrad didn't turn from defense to attack and assault Layfon directly. And so Layfon couldn't make up his mind to use his full strength at a critical moment, and that was how he kept moving with the Steel Threads spread out around him.
But, but......... why was Elrad here?
Repeating a similar situation had thrown Layfon off his track.
Not wanting to lose Dinn. This should be Sharnid and Dalshena's thinking. But Sharnid looked as if he would give up at some point in time. Layfon, who stood here without knowing the situation, couldn't understand what Sharnid was thinking.
(I could have just asked for the details.)
It was too late to regret that now. Yes, everything was too late. Layfon was slow in reaction no matter what, and he just couldn't understand the situation properly. Everything happened away from him. If he took notice of it he would get involved.
It had always been like that since coming to Zuellni. Or perhaps he was like that too before he came to Zuellni.
(Haha, maybe I'm really useless.)
His role as a Military Artist was determined from his birth. With that as his starting point, he had lived by imitating Military Artists, and then he came to the Academy City. Of course there were troubles on the way, and so his way of thinking differed from that of a normal Military Artist. But while thinking of what he could do, all he did was move like a normal Military Artist.
He lost in one of those things. Not just as a Military Artist, he had even lost his reason as one. He was a true loser, living without purpose. That was the present him.
Everyone told him this wouldn't do. Karian had said it to him. Felli said so a few days ago.
(I can't be like this.)
He felt he already comprehended the problem a long time ago.
(But I don't know what to do.)
And it was the same right now.
He came here, influenced by Dalshena's persuasive stubbornness, but now he was also affected by Elrad's words. His feet kept moving as the Steel Threads blocked off the bullets.
(What should I do.......... What should I do..........)
Why was he so confused? Didn't he decide on what to do when he left with Dalshena? He didn't care what was right as he listened to her. Had her tears overlapped with his thinking? It would have been too late when one realized he didn't want to lose that someone. Wouldn't anyone want understanding?
Then why couldn't Layfon move forward?
It'd be good if he could just move forward.
If he could move forward.
If he could move forward.
"Stop right now!"
And then he heard Sharnid's shout. Sharnid had been injured by Dalshena, his hand bled as he shouted at Layfon and Elrad. Layfon would not be able to make a face like his.
What happened afterwards was a blur to him. He was completely lost. Time had already slipped away when he came to. The Sharnid, who challenged Elrad, had fallen. Dalshena, who joined the fight, had also fallen. Only Elrad was left standing.
Fully exhausted, Elrad looked at Layfon.
"There shouldn't be a need to fight you now, should there?"
As if he was confirming it, saying it in an unbelievably pleading tone. Exhaustion and satisfaction overlapped. But, but maybe it was all an illusion. Perhaps he was just tired. Perhaps there were other feelings mixed in it. Or perhaps this was just reflecting a man's personality.
Layfon didn't answer.
No, he had no answer for him.
Elrad turned around without asking for the reply, and headed for another place.
Speaking of the which, the wind opposite the outer-edge was very fierce just then, but now it had completely ceased. A roaming bus could leave in this weather.
The engine of the roaming bus started. The Dinn sitting in the wheelchair was taken away. Dinn's gaze had never once turned to Sharnid.
Realising this, Layfon felt very lonely. Though Dinn wasn't thinking of anything, was this fine to do nothing to the unconscious Sharnid and Dalshena? The two of them didn't want Dinn to leave and had fought up till now.
"Hey, it's stopped," Elrad said without turning around. Layfon wasn't sure if he had noticed his presence.
"You've already done what she wanted. It's redundant to do anything more. A waste. A waste."
Was it because Elrad was one step ahead of him? Tension, fighting spirit and such. None of these rushed to Layfon's mind. What was left were just questions. So did he not have to continue with this? Remaining behind was anxiety.
The feeling remained.
"Those two should know clearly. That brat won't recover by staying here. You understand? I'm saying this because understanding and accepting aren't the same."
Layfon didn't even know this. Elrad turned around and frowned at him.
"It wasn't easy for you either."
Elrad didn't give him time to react. He turned around and ran for the roaming bus.
"Greet him for me when he wakes up," Elrad said and walked up the spiral staircase that had taken Dinn away.
After that, Dalshena was the first to wake up. Could those two not ask him what had happened afterwards? Layfon lowered his head and then ran to the tip of the outer-edge, but he could no longer see the roaming bus.
Sharnid also came to.
"Have they left?" he said quietly with a lonely smile.
"Is this fine?"
For it to come to this.
They couldn't make Dinn stay. He was obviously troubled by it originally. He was like that when he helped Layfon move house. But he was laughing like usual and making Nina and Felli mad, giving off the feel of his usual self.
He was smiling but he should felt troubled. Layfon wondered if he himself could be like him. Probably not.
"I don't know what happened at that time when I fell. Isn't it easier for me from now on then?" Sharnid said.
Layfon didn't feel anything deeper than the surface meaning of his words. He could only move forward without hesitation. He acted for the sake of his conclusion. He could only try regardless of success or failure. This procedure was known, and Layfon could feel the logic behind it.
But, he didn't understand.
Layfon didn't understand. Was it all right to accept it? He couldn't see Leerin again. Could he accept this reality?
Because he couldn't acknowledge it, because he couldn't accept the reality, that's why he couldn't let go of what he had lost at that time?
After taking the injured Sharnid and Dalshena to the hospital, Layfon headed alone for his house.
That night, with a tired look that was so unlike her, watching him leave the hospital, Dalshena didn't look frustrated. Though she was lonely, though she was spent, she didn't look gloomy. Perhaps she had cried on her own and so she wasn't beaten down by failure. Dalshena had already accepted the reality.
Just what was this?
Could she accept it if she had acted?
Could she accept this reality if she had acted?
Layfon had acted too. He had infiltrated Grendan to save Leerin. His sister had persuaded him not to go. His foster father had blocked his way. He had fought a fight he didn't want. He had repeatedly experienced his thinking and had finally reached her, but Leerin had rejected him.
He had done everything he could.
Even so, he didn't let go.
He pondered as he walked. There was plenty of time for him to walk back. The sun had set, and no one would like to stroll on the outer-edge, and so Layfon walked alone in this atmosphere. It was right for him to move to the storage area. It took him longer to walk back. He might turn crazy if he returned too early to a house that only he himself lived in.
But even spending a long time thinking of the same thing only brought him back to the original spot.
Layfon stopped walking a number of times to breathe in deeply. He didn't know where he would run off to if he didn't do this. Maybe he just couldn't stop. Besides, he had never thought of a conclusion like Sharnid's, experiencing this tragedy but without feeling doubt.
Though his feet had now stopped, he still felt he was in an unfamiliar place. He staggered into the house.
Dissatisfaction and troubled feeling continued to assault him. But he didn't stop moving.
It took him a long time to come back to the house. The problem of easing his hunger surfaced in his mind, but he didn't even have the mood to stand alone in the kitchen. He just thought of going to sleep.
The building wasn't that big, but he was the only person here. It lacked people. And this atmosphere made him feel heavier. He no longer felt the excitement he had when he moved house.
Next was to sleep, but he didn't know when he could sleep. In truth, he had never slept since moving in. He hadn't even had a dream. He was always waking up when he was about to fall asleep.
Felli stood in front of his house.
It took a while for him to feel shocked when he saw her. "Felli............?"
"What're you doing?" she said angrily, glaring at him.
"I heard you didn't go to work but had come straight home."
"Uh, uh, I'm sorry."
Why? The image of the Steel Threads came to him before she asked him. Harley had unsealed the Dite even though he knew nothing. Was this why Felli was here?
Had anything happened?
But if that was the case, Nina should be here too?
"Anyway, let's go inside. It's cold out here."
"I'm sorry for intruding."
Layfon entered the house and went to boil the water. Felli took out the tea bags that Dalshena had brought over before, and waited for the water to boil.
She sat on the sofa, her hands tightly holding the tea cup, feeling its warmth.
First was Dalshena, then Felli. Just what was going on? He quietly watched her.
"Uh, I'll leave this here," Felli finally said after drinking half of the tea in her cup. She opened her bag and took out a letter. "This is from the head of the male dorm. It seems to have arrived late, after you took care of the moving out procedure."
He opened the envelope. The letter looked old. Its appearance showed its long journey to here. A bad feeling came to him which made him hesitate to read at the words on the envelope. But he ended up reading it. It was not the address of the male dorm that he had a bad feeling about. He turned over the letter with a feeling of unease and hope.
On it were the names of three people. Toby, Henrietta and Henry.
"I'm not saying you've to return to the past," Felli said and put her tea cup to her lips. Her gaze fell on the curtains.
An intense feeling rolled over Layfon. Outside was a storm, intense wind blew outside the Aurora Field. Mixed with the wind was a high density of pollutants. The wind swept up the sand from the dry earth, making its surrounding a blur. Nothing could be seen.
What awaited after the wind had ceased was a clean sky.
Deep inside his throat, there was a vibration. Just what was written on the letter? He didn't know as he hadn't read it yet. What did it mean to see those three words? Even he himself didn't know, just like the mad storm blowing inside him.
It was this intense, destroying that thing deep in his heart and sweeping it up to the sky.
Everything was out in the open.
"It's fine. I don't mind."
No, it wasn't like this. He had replied and fixed the error. Being able to do this was already good enough for him.
Ah, she called him like that again.
He was looked down lightly in the library, but now........
"Would it be good to get discouraged now?"
He knew there was a thing he had to do first. He couldn't leave the books alone in the library and let them keep piling up. That was it.
Layfon didn't even know what kind of expression Felli had now.
Something deep in his throat.
But now he had many things to say.
What was painful, what was regrettable, what was unbecoming, what was sad, what was glad, what was embarrassing. Everything. The things Layfon Alseif knew and didn't, the things he changed so as to understand. In order to speak the first word that would let him say it all, Layfon sobbed.