Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume17 Chapter1

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Chapter 1: Her Determination[edit]

Though she couldn't see it, though she couldn't touch it, it was extremely important.

She only had to think about it, and her brain would heat up along with her heart feeling tight.

She wanted to treasure it, carefully preserving it.

Wanting to bury it deep inside her heart.

As if she were receiving an extraordinarily important treasure, she tightly locked it in a chest.

Very, very carefully......



If their homes became closer, did that mean the time they spent together would increase? In reality this was not so.

The cake shop that she had opened became busy very early, and in order to get inspiration for new products, she spent more time at night looking for new ingredients or checking out other stores. Still, her time at school naturally became time for the two of them to meet.

"In other words, the situation is the same as it was your first year."

"Umm......"

At Mifi's conclusion, Meishen could only emit a sorrowful noise.

Right now was lunch break. It was only Mifi and Meishen eating lunch together, as Naruki had been called over to do City Police work.

"Wait, has the time you two can be together become less?"

Her childhood friend looked around the classroom. With no way to refute it, Meishen also turned her head. In front of her gaze was Layfon's seat, but no one was in the seat.

Currently Layfon seemed to be busy with something. Never mind time after school, even during lunch break he was almost always outside and didn't stay in the classroom.

"I don't know if it's his expression or look, but don't you think the feeling that Layton gives off isn't the same?"

"Nn-"

It was vague, but Meishen also had this kind of feeling. She was the same as Mifi, not knowing how to describe that kind of feeling.

Layfon had found something to work hard at - perhaps it could be described like that, but Meishen also felt that it seemed like there was a difference somewhere.

Should it be said that it wasn't interesting, or that he was too desperate?

"......What's bothering him?"

"Ah, I don't know."

Mifi strongly nodded her head to Meishen's soft mumble.

"He feels like he wants to do something but he's not strong enough. I feel like Layfon's normal appearance is the same as before, looking like he doesn't have much leisure time. When he was in his first year, he didn't have much free time because of his work, but now I feel like his look has become different. Nn - it's really quite strange."

"Maybe something big has happened?"

Layfon was a Military Artist, and was in one of the numerous Military Arts branches, part of one of the elite platoons, the seventeenth platoon.

Even if he was with those people, he was still a person with outstanding combat abilities.

Seeing him desperate like this, one couldn't help but worry about whether something big had happened.

"That...... The attitude of the Student Council hasn't changed much, so I think it shouldn't be that."

Mifi worked as a reporter, so she was very clear about this information.

"Even if they were deliberately hiding it, I can vaguely feel whether things are like that by looking at the manner and expression of those important people. Also, I haven't seen the Student Council taking any peculiar actions."

"Really?"

Mifi's words let Meishen loosen her breath. She had felt that there might be a big commotion happening like last year, so she felt quite unsafe.

But, compared to this, more importantly......

"Is Layton okay?"

Just looking at the previous year, after Layfon had done something, after showing an extremely troubled expression, he seemed to have received a very large wound.

Did he have some trouble hidden in his heart that he couldn't tell others? If it wasn't related to the Student Council, then what kind of situation was it?

"I can't help him, can I?"

Meishen tried saying it, but she didn't know if she could do anything for Layfon.

"You think that the time you spend with him will increase?"

"I didn't mean......"

After being asked sarcastically by Mifi, Meishen showed a worried expression.

If she said that she hadn't thought like that, Meishen would be lying. However, Meishen truly had always been looking for a storefront to open a cake shop. Though she had slightly adapted to interacting with strangers, she didn't think she could become a shop owner who could interact with many customers, and this was really why she had opened a cake delivery shop.

It was also the truth that she couldn't find a suitable storefront.

The reason that she couldn't find a storefront was also because she had to find a place that was close to the residence of her childhood friends who lived together.

If she was willing to move, then she could have found a suitable storefront. Since it wasn't based on attracting guests, the choice of a remote location wasn't important.

But then, she would be moving to a place inconvenient for Mifi and Naruki.

She didn't want to leave them.

In reality, this kind of feeling also hindered her search for a storefront.

So during the party celebrating Layfon's moving, although she had been influenced by that atmosphere to make her decision, Meishen still hadn't decided to live alone. Even now, she still didn't think she could make the right choices to solve the store's problems.

As for the cake shop, with the help of the worker who had arrived and who lived in the same apartment building, Vati Len, business begun quite smoothly.

However, Meishen thought that the opportunities for her and Layfon to meet had become less than before.

"That... Though only one year has passed, many things have changed."

Maybe she was too bothered to continue joking, as Mifi murmured with a serious face:

"The operational responsibilities assigned to me have increased, and Naruki should be the same."

"Nn."

Meishen also had her own store. For example, if she wanted to do this kind of thing in her home city, she would have to spend much more time saving money. But, the system of the Academy city was very clear, and supported the students' doing what they wanted to do, so she was able to so quickly achieve her dream.

Anything could be attempted, as long as you desired it - This was the idea of the Academy City.

So, the students with goals quickly became very busy.

Meishen was like this, and Mifi and Naruki as well.

Layfon perhaps was also like this.

"But-"

"Nn?"

Mifi's word made Meishen raise her head.

"What Layton's doing seems very important, but it doesn't feel like he's unhappy, right?"

"......Maybe."

Meishen agreed with those words. That sentence also related with Layfon's expression that was different from normal, and made her feel that this answer was definitely not wrong.

"If things are like that, isn't it good for Layfon?"

"Maybe."

Mifi nodded her head, and and the two ate lunch without a topic for a while.

(But......)

Meishen didn't know what Layfon was doing.

Because she felt that there was another, even greater worry. This wasn't what Layfon was doing, but concerned the results that would be produced by what Layfon was doing......

This could only be described as a small, uncomfortable premonition, as if needles were deeply stuck inside Meishen's heart, and she couldn't pull them out no matter how she tried.



As to what Layfon who Meishen worried about was doing, he was currently training.

He was on the roof of the school.

It was training to use Sakkei while compressing his Kei flow. The so-called Kei concealment meant not letting Kei leak outside of the body. Compressing Kei in this situation would make the body feel excess heat, but if one could keep from generating this excess heat while producing Kei, the most efficent chained Kei attacks could be produced.

If the speed at which Kei was produced increased, the speed of one's moves would increase as well.

Additionally, the speed of Composite Blast would increase.

Since he couldn't expect the capabilities of the Dite to increase, he could only review the way he used his Kei. His current method of use put an abnormally high burden on the Dite, but at the least now he wouldn't run into a situation where he would break the Dite before he could use a move.

Layfon kind of thought that he could not use the Dite altogether, and directly use Kei techniques.

But, the material properties and internal structure of the Dite allowed it to transform Kei in an efficient manner. If Kei techniques were used without this kind of ability, one simple techniques like burst Kei could be used.

Though it was a bit late to do it now, there were times when those techniques came in handy. But, one couldn't only rely on such a weapon to fight.

"I really am clumsy."

That kind of thought suddenly emerged in his mind, and Layfon sighed.

If something had to do with Military Arts, regardless of in what area, Layfon could use his genius to complement his weakness, but it could even be said the problem was that he had never thought about this. Layfon thought that his own strength was that he had many ways to respond in a critical situation, but now the number of ways that he could respond had become less.

For most Heaven's Blade successors, the number of ways that they could respond in an urgent situation wasn't that much. However, among those few options hid immense strength, and that was the reason they had the qualifications to become a Heaven's Blade successor.

Layfon had taken to heart Gildred's words that he was 'A kid who could only play genius'.

If someone wanted Layfon to select his most adept martial art, then as expected, he would still choose the sword. However, till today, Layfon had never thought of changing his fighting style to exclude the steel threads, because Layfon felt that the way he used steel thread techniques had already become part of himself.

However, if someone asked Layfon if he could rely on his steel thread techniques to confront Lintence, he would feel very worried.

"After all...... I should first strengthen Composite Blast. It would be good if my Kei flow was bigger."

Layfon decided on his next goal, but right now he sighed again. Compared to Dites, he would rather break through his body's Kei limits. To do this, he needed to expand his Kei vein, which was essentially his Kei flow, but for the most part, all kinds of training would have no use regardless towards this.

"It's not easy to find a clue......"

Layfon sighed again.

Something appeared in front of him.

It was the empty city he had encountered during his previous mission and an old Military Artist named Gildred.

That old man was Nina's great-grandfather...... It seemed to be a more distant blood relation than her grandfather or an ordinary great-grandfather.

That person had tried to come to Zuellni, but Layfon and Nina had succeeded in stopping him, and along the way they had fought with unknown creatures that were possibly filth monsters.

Even though this kind of thing had happened, Nina still hadn't said anything.

However, Layfon began to think in a different way - perhaps she wasn't 'not speaking', rather 'she had no way to speak'?

"For you, this way of thinking might even be pretty smart."

Explaining his way of thinking to Felli after things had calmed down, she had said something like this.

"I'm very concerned about the creatures that appeared. According to your story, they not only can change their form at will, but every part of its mass possesses the ability to think independently. Perhaps the particles take the form of a creature as a group, and carry out their activities as a group organism."

"......Ah."

Layfon almost couldn't understand Felli's abstruse commentary, but 'group organism' let him think of a certain filth monster.

"Behemoth."

Back when he was in Grendan, when Layfon was still a Heaven's Blade successor, he had once faced an aged phase together with Lintence and Savaris, and Delbone had seemingly explained that filth monster this way at the time.

"So, since there's a precedent, then the creature that appeared before is most likely that kind of being. Therefore, we should imagine that being has the form of small particles, and there's the possibility that they are hiding in Zuellni doing surveillance."

"How could......"

"In our current situation we can't completely confirm this deduction."

Felli asserted this, and Layfon didn't possess any way to follow up with this way of thinking either.

"Since we might be under surveillance, we can't take any reckless actions or communications."

"Ah...... right."

"Then, maybe we should avoid talking about this topic."

"Okay."

"Right now is a time for us to watch the situation of the city and the Captain while accumulating strength."

Felli's words made Layfon spend days silently practicing.

For how long should he do this kind of thing?

During this situation to which he didn't know the answer, the city had somehow went into the summer period.

Layfon was somewhat impatient. However after careful thinking, Layfon saw the situation from a different angle. In reality, this kind of pressure was the same as the time in Grendan when he didn't know when filth monsters would attack next, the same as the situation when he could only practice Military Arts every day.

After thinking that, Layfon's heart suddenly calmed down. Doing things with a runaway heart would only lead to continuous defeats, a lesson Layfon had already learned from the things that happened last year.

"The important part is thinking that way."

Layfon compressed his Kei while murmuring this. His current task was to find out how much Kei he could compress while keeping the Military Arts student in the school building from noticing his Kei.

Using Sakkei while creating Kei flow was like blowing air into a balloon. Sakkei was the balloon, and the Kei flow was the air. Within the acceptable range of the balloon, one could endlessly blow air. Even though the balloon became large, as long as the explosive noise of the balloon breaking didn't sound out, no one would perceive the balloon's existence.

In other words, how much air could be blown in without the balloon breaking? How fast should air be blown into the balloon? Could he raise the strength of the balloon? Layfon thought of these things as he let the balloon inflate.

This was what was meant by using Sakkei while creating Kei flow.

"How should I do this......"

He once again murmured.

Nina had been involved in some problem, and he already knew that this problem was quite significant.

However, the problem hadn't shown its true appearance.

But, by using his mentality from his time in Grendan, looking at the situation from a different angle, he had unexpectedly been able to eliminate this impatience. The abilities of aged phases were various, and had great differences from each other, so he would often only know the strength of his opponent after encountering them.

Thinking carefully, not knowing the actual situation of his opponent was normal.

Nina was here. Then, perhaps enemies would appear here in a day, or perhaps Nina would leave here in a day.

"If that happens, I can only go with her......"

He mumbled this.

Afterwards, a small doubt appeared in his heart.

That doubt was, why did he go to this kind of degree?

Did he have a reason to do this kind of thing for Nina?

"What should I say?"

He didn't really understand.

However, Layfon couldn't just give up on Nina. Just thinking of that made him feel pained.

Was it because he was too good of a person?

"She's done a lot for me."

When he had just come to Zuellni, he had completely lost his confidence as a Military Artists. Though it wasn't intentional, Nina had strongly brought Layfon back to his role as a Military Artist, and many things had happened. In the end, many knots had been untied.

Thought new problems had emerged, they were all Layfon's own problems, and Nina wasn't the reason.

Because Nina was here, Layfon had maintained his position as a Military Artist.

"I can't give up on her."

Layfon once again murmured.

"......Though, nothing has happened."

Though he said this, after he came back from the battle in that empty city, the season had already changed. After that no obvious changes had occurred, no filth monsters had even attacked, and the time passed by very smoothly.

Perhaps this way of life was only ordinary for an Academy City. However, to Layfon who had grown up in Grendan and passed many restless days, this kind of peaceful time let him feel somewhat impatient.

"But, in reality this is the best, right?"

Could he really be only the kind of person who wasn't used to those lines? This kind of uncertainty flitted through Layfon's mind for a moment. It wasn't because Layfon was preparing for some big event, but because of the environment of his birth.

Though, right now there was still something to be cautious of.

It was Felli.

Two days before, she had indicated that she wanted to challenge Delbone's legacy.

After that, she had not left her home.

"She's okay, right?"

Thinking of this, he felt tense.

As a precaution, Felli had given the room key to Layfon to keep, so he went to quietly see Felli's situation.

Felli slept on the bed.

Even if he opened his mouth and cried out he wouldn't get a response. Her breathing was very quiet, and expression and body temperature were very normal.

Felli had said that Delbone's legacy was her battle experience.

Layfon had never heard of Psychokinesists being able to exchange experiences like physical data. So, perhaps this was something only Delbone could do.

Then, it was only because it was Felli that she could receive her experiences.

Therefore, it was only Felli who could carry on her resolve and inherit her challenges.

As to what consequences this action would bring, only Felli herself knew.

Regardless of success or defeat.

"In terms of speed, it might be over quickly. But, if the time is prolonged, there may be big differences produced between my mind's sense of time and the world's time. So, it's possible that I will enter a sleep-like state for a long time."

Before challenging her legacy, Felli had mentioned the dangers of it. Hearing this, Layfon only felt that the blood in his entire body had frozen, and he even tried to talk Felli out of it.

However, Felli didn't stop.

"Though I expect the information contained in Delbone's legacy to be the key to our current problem, since she said this was empirical battle data, perhaps I can't hold great expectations of this."

"In that case......"

"But, even only being able to achieve her experience as a Psychokinesist is extremely worth challenging this."

At Felli saying this, Layfon had no words to respond.

It wasn't wrong to say this.

Because, Layfon had never heard of a Psychokinesist above Delbone. Fighting from before Layfon existed, she had always held the identity of a Heaven's Blade successor protecting Grendan, and went through countless battles.

Felli said she could achieve this kind of experience. If Layfon was a Psychokinesist, he would definitely want it.

But, Felli......

"Right, Felli, didn't you want to give up your identity as a Psychokinesist?"

"Is the current situation one where I can give up?"

"............No."

"Since I can't give it up, I want to have the peak as my target. The key reason is close by, so even if there are some risks, I feel that it's worth trying."

Layfon couldn't continue rebuking Felli's words.

So, Layfon could only worry and be anxious. He couldn't even focus well on maintaining his Sakkei, and spoke to himself regarding the memories continually spinning around in his head.

"But, I feel that it would be better to stop."

He tried mumbling this to his memories. The residual memories left inside his head and his imagination produced developments, and because of this sentence a Felli with her eyebrows creased appeared in front of Layfon's eyes.

He felt that he couldn't even save the Felli who had appeared from his imagination.

"Maybe it's true."

If that were so, then it would have been better if he hadn't asked Felli for help in the first place. If he hadn't said anything to Felli, then perhaps she would have already turned from Military Arts to another department.

Now liberated from her brother's chains, in order to experience new things, perhaps she would have done that.

The one who obstructed her was Layfon.

"Aah, it really is!"

It was because he had said those things, that Felli had helped him to this degree.

After thinking this, the sinful feelings produced made Layfon feel quite uncomfortable, and the doubt 'How nice that you're doing this kind of easy training' emerged in his heart at the same time. Doing this level of training, achieving no progress or what couldn't be called progress, was that really good? He couldn't stop wanting to ask himself.

Layfon couldn't stop his remorse, and facing Felli who had challenged the legacy and was still in a sleep-like state, he felt even more guilty.

However, he didn't have anything else he could do.

"......Did the Captain also have these kinds of feelings before?"

What Layfon meant was Nina that they had barely met. Up to last year, because of the poor performance at the Military Arts Competition, the number of selenium mines Zuellni possessed had reduced, and the city's existence was facing a crisis. In order to find ways to solve this predicament, Nina established the seventeenth platoon and endlessly struggled, and had desperately trained her Military Arts with a feeling unlike now.

The destination was clearly there, but because her strength was too weak she couldn't arrive there. The Nina at that time had exuded this kind of impatient feeling from her whole body.

The feeling that seemed like she couldn't complete some goal had always been there. Now she wasn't focused on becoming a strong Military Artist like Layfon and was focused somewhere else, making Layfon feel impatient, and she hadn't told Layfon what he should do.

Last year's Nina had a mission as if she had to do something, single-mindedly charging forward for it.

Like last year's Nina, the current Layfon also felt as if he had to do something.

Other than increasing his power as a Military Artist, Layfon felt that he had to do something else.

But, he didn't know what he should do.

Layfon had to become strong, because he had already decided that he would help Nina who had been involved in some big event.

"......Is it only that?"

So he had to become strong.

Layfon was clear that in the end he would return to this conclusion, but when he thought again, he noticed he was still pondering it.

"Hahhh, I really am too indecisive."

Layfon let out a sigh while he trained. There was an ambiguous feeling in his heart that made him unable to quickly reach a conclusion. What was the mystery blocking Nina from moving forward after all, and what would happen next?

Was this related to Grendan?

In other words, related to Leerin......

"............Hahhh."

His mood was so heavy that he lost his focus.

"Lunch break will be over soon."

Only as he said this did Layfon notice that he had not eaten lunch. Since had thought of this method of training during class, he hadn't been able to stop wanting to hurry up and try it, so he had trained till now on an empty stomach.

"Ahh, what should I do?"

Moreover it seemed like he had left his bento in the classroom.

"I wonder if I'll be able to make it if I go get it now?"

From here he could clearly see the clock tower in the middle of the Student Council building.

Layfon looked at the clock, and there wasn't much time left. If he went to get it now, the senior lecturer could just then walk into the classroom.

"No, after all I'll go to the canteen to buy something, and I guess I'll wait till after school to eat the bento? Ahh, but maybe the canteen's sold out."

After considering the situation of the canteen near the second-year building, Layfon let out a pondering sound. In this Academy City, not only were the customers students, but the shop owners were also students. The stores that did business during classtime were few.

Therefore, he should skip class altogether...... That choice tugged at Layfon's heart. If he went downtown, he could find a store that was in business, because the demographic there was upperclassmen whose classtimes were rather free. Though if the underclassman Layfon were dining in that kind of place during classtime, it would be very easy for him to draw their attention.

"Hahhh...... Can I only tolerate it?"

Though he could eat something as soon as class ended, once he thought of how he would have to listen to class with a hungry stomach, Layfon felt dismayed.

"......Huh?"

Just then, Layfon noticed there was someone walking up to the roof. His hearing that was heightened because of his training heard footsteps walking up the stairs.

It was a sound he had heard before.

"Meishen?"

Judging by the footsteps, she was walking quickly.

She couldn't have come here to look for him, right? Though Layfon thought so, he still paid close attention to the sound of these footsteps, so he stopped maintaining his Sakkei, and slowly released the Kei he had gathered towards the sky.

Doing this would allow him to not be noticed by other Military Artists as he handled this Kei flow that could only be released outside his body.

The sound of the footsteps reached the roof.

"Ah, Layton, you really were here."

"Huh?"

Meishen showed a surprised expression. But at her saying this, Layfon was also surprised.

"Huh? You were looking for me?"

"Nn. Because you left your bento in the classroom. I thought you would return to get it right away, but you didn't."

The bento in Meishen's hand made Layfon's eyes light up.

"Wow, thanks. I forgot to take my bento, and I was just thinking about how to deal with lunch."

"Really, then that's great."

"Ah yes, how did you find me?"

Layfon asked this of Meishen who had relaxed her breath.

Judging by Meishen's tone, she knew that Layfon was here.

But until just now, Layfon had been carrying out his training while using Sakkei.

There shouldn't be anyone able to feel his presence.

"Vati told me."

"Vati, huh?"

Vati Len, a new student this year who lived in the same apartment building, as well as a worker at Meishen's shop.

"But, how would she know?"

She was a first-year student, and at this time she should have no reason to appear in the second-year building.

"Just as I was going out to find you, I ran into her. So she told me about it."

"Oh."

Layfon nodded his head, but didn't understand.

"Was I seen while I was there?"

Though Layfon cared about it, perhaps it wasn't something worth studying. Even if his presence wouldn't be felt by others, it didn't mean that his body would be hidden. Perhaps she had just seen him. Moreover she could have had some business in the second-year building, and seen Layfon walking up to the roof preparing to carry out his training.

In the end, Layfon's current priority was his appetite. He sat on the ground, preparing to eat the bento that Meishen had brought.

"Layfon, did you make today's bento?"

"Since I made too much dinner, I made this bento almost entirely from the leftover ingredients."

Since his life semi-cohabitating in the apartment, the opportunities for Layfon and Meishen to make dinner for the others had increased.

When Layfon cooked, he had the bad habit of cooking too much, so the dinner table would often have leftovers. But Layfon would always make the leftover dishes into bentos for the next day, so they had never thrown away the leftovers that they couldn't eat.

"I haven't been preparing bentos for you much recently, I'm really sorry."

"How can that be, I was just too dependent on you last year."

If she had time, Meishen right now would still make bentos for Layfon, but the occurrences weren't as frequent as during their first year.

"You're very busy right now, it's not your fault."

Every morning Meishen seemed to be busy managing the work at her cake shop, and it would be a mistake for him to expect her to prepare bentos for him like before.

"It's surprising that you still make me bentos. You're really amazing."

"It's only extra that I made while preparing bentos for myself."

"That's still very amazing."

These were Layfon's true feelings. Meishen seriously confronted the things she wanted to do, and didn't try to escape from the things she wasn't good at. Meishen had only hidden behind the backs of her childhood friends in her first year, but now lived on her own, and had her own store.

"Meishen is very amazing, how could it be otherwise!"

"That's not......"

Meishen went silent with her whole face red; that was her right from her first year.

However, during her work at the cake store, Meishen's eyes gave off a different radiance. As she did things with all of her heart, it produced a kind of feeling that could be enjoyed from the bottom of one's heart.

It made Layfon feel very envious.

From his first year, Layfon had envied Meishen who knew what she wanted to do. Moreover she had also actually advanced towards her goal. Layfon didn't only feel envy, but also felt happy for Meishen as if it were himself.

"I also have to work hard."

"I think Layfon is trying very hard."

"Thanks."

Layfon felt very happy that Meishen could say this.

But, though the training to become strong was important, he couldn't only put his gaze above.

"The important thing is why I'm becoming strong."

Meishen tilted her head showing a puzzled expression, and Layfon smiled at her.

At that time, the sound of the clock declaring the end of lunchtime rang out, and the two hurriedly left the roof.



Layfon's praise made her quite happy.

But, the sentence that he had casually said, 'I also have to work hard', seemed quite serious.

"What is it?"

School was already over, and Meishen was in her shop. The important business of this store was to send desserts to affiliated stores, and though this work was completed in the morning, it didn't mean the work in the store would end just like that. The store was also connected to the district, and would also have customers enter.

The fame of Meishen's store had spread to the students working in the Warehouse District, so though there weren't many, there were still customers who came to buy cakes, or directly ate here.

But right now, there were no customers at all in the store.

Even the apartment residents and childhood friends who would come over whenever they had the chance hadn't come.

So, Meishen stared blankly with nothing to do. At that time, Vati had asked such a thing of her.

"Eh? Ah, huh?"

"The cleaning outside is finished."

"Ah, s, sorry. Thanks for your work."

"No, it's no problem, I had nothing to do anyway. More importantly, how is manager?" [1]

Though Vati was very pretty, her face had no emotions and her tone was very serious, so one could easily feel that she was unapproachable.

"Uu, sorry."

Meishen was already used to her attitude, so she normally wouldn't think of it. But, the sense of guilt of being dazed during work made the oppressive feeling that Vati gave off become even heavier, and this pressure almost crushed Meishen.

"Please don't mind. More importantly......"

"Huh? Ah, Did I say something?"

"No, it seemed like manager was contemplating something."

"Huh? Ah, ah, that...... thinking of new products......"

Meishen tried finding an excuse, but her voice grew quieter as she spoke.

However, this kind of reason wasn't good enough for a girl like Vati.

"No, it felt somewhat different from that."

"Huh? T, there's nothing like that......."

"No, it wasn't manager's expression while thinking of new products. When manager is thinking of new products......"

Speaking to her, Vati suddenly lost her normal cold expression. She relaxed her face, her mouth spread apart slightly, and showed an absentminded look that wasn't looking at the ceiling, though her gaze slanted upwards.

How to describe it, this expression looked a bit...... blank.

The moment Meishen thought this, Vati had restored her normal expression.

"......If that kind of expression continues for ten minutes or more, the next day has a seventy percent chance of a new product appearing."

"Au!"

Never mind the expression, once she thought of other people seeing herself actually making this face, Meishen was embarrassed enough to want to die.

"So what manager was just thinking of wasn't testing products."

"......Yes, you're right."

Meishen slightly raised her hands as if completely surrendering.

"......Is it something you can't say?"

"Ye~s ......"

"If it is, then I've been too careless. Sorry."

"......It's a little hard to explain."

Though her mouth said this, her tongue thought about weaving the situation into words.

Even if she looked outside, it seemed like there wouldn't be customers entering.

Meishen spoke of what had happened during lunchtime.

Layfon seemed to be secretly planning something, and his expression was different from before.

Moreover he seemed like he would leave this place and go somewhere far away.

"Go somewhere far away?"

"Ah, I don't know the reason. Yes, I can't really make sense of it myself."

Meishen also felt confused about the words that she had blurted out.

However, she didn't want to deny her way of thinking. It would be better to say that this way of thinking had quietly entered Meishen's heart, and embedded itself inside.

Yes, she felt that Layfon seemed like he wanted to go somewhere far away.

"Ah, I don't think he wants to leave Zuellni."

Yes, the situation wasn't like that.

"......How should I say it?"

Meishen didn't have any way to explain it more clearly. Just from looking at Layfon, a strange kind of lonely emotion would emerge inside her, so she had used 'Layfon wanted to go somewhere far away' to describe the feeling.

"Ah......"

"What is it?"

Meishen thought of what Mifi had said around noon.

"Is that it?"

Many things had changed. Just like Meishen having her own shop, just like the increasing responsibilities the editorial department had assigned to Mifi, just like the increased work that Naruki had with the City Police.

Layfon had also changed towards some direction.

"......It can't be, I don't want him to change, maybe?"

Perhaps it was like that.

"But, it's really......"

"......manager."

"Ah, I'm sorry."

Meishen had been immersed in her thoughts, and had completely forgotten she was talking with Vati.

"Are you alright? You look pale."

"Eh? Really......?"

"Resting a bit would be a bit......"

"That's true, since there are no customers right now, I'll sit down for a bit."

"I'll go get something for manager to drink."

"Yes, please."

With a smile, Meishen watched Vati walk to the kitchen.

(I don't want him to change.)

The words that boldly emerged made the imaginary needles that had stuck in her heart become larger and dig deeper.

Meishen could only feel dazed, as if she felt that kind of pain.

Tonight it was Meishen's turn to make dinner.

Vati had insisted that Meishen should rest today, even though she said that she was fine. In the end, Vati had somehow ended up helping Meishen make dinner.

"What should I make?"

"That..."

After Meishen said the menu, and after Vati nodded her head and said 'I understand' with the usual expressionless face, she nimbly took out the ingredients from the fridge.

"That......"

"It's enough for manager to supervise the flavor, please allow me to handle the rest."

"Th...... thank you. Uh, but is this okay?"

"It's for manager, and I might as well say that if it's not like this my heart would feel uneasy."

"......Sorry."

"Don't worry about it."

Vati who wore an apron talked as she smoothly lined up the ingredients, then took up the kitchen knife to handle them.

The two of them smoothly prepared dinner like this, and the speed of completion made Meishen stare in surprise.

"Amazing."

"I referenced the movements of manager in the kitchen."

"Huh? But I only made sweets and cakes in the shop kitchen......"

"For the most part it's the same."

"Oh......"

Meishen could only give praise.

"Though I've thought this before, Vati's really amazing."

"That's not so, I'm only good at imitating other people. Is the flavor alright?"

"Eh, ah...... Nn, add a little more salt and it'll be fine."

"According to manager's preferences, I thought this much would be about right."

"Yes. But Layton and the others are Military Artists right? They exercise a lot, so..."

"I see."

"It's like that, sorry to bother you."

Being stared at by Vati made Meishen feel very embarassed. In order to avert the other party's attention, she showed a smile.

"I understand."

Vati finished the preparation according to the instructions.


After the cooking was finished, Vati collected the kitchenware to the point where Meishen could barely express her level of gratitude, and then left the room without saying a word.

"Hahhh...... If only I could do things as skillfully as her."

Seeing Vati like that, Meishen produced that kind of thinking from the bottom of her heart. She not only looked beautiful, had excellent grades, and had no problems with athletics, but moreover she could do house chores.

Though she had the shortcoming of a cold attitude, this was only because she lacked expressions, and in reality her heart was very tender.

"......Hah, I'll work hard."

What should she work hard at? Meishen herself wasn't too clear, but her spirit still rose automatically.

Just then.

"What are you doing!"

"Hyaa!"

The urgent voice coming from the door made Meishen shrink her body.

"............What is it?"

If she wasn't wrong, the voice's owner was Nina.

"Captain, what......?"

Thought the sound that entered her ears next was muffled, the one who spoke it was Layfon.

After that no more sounds entered the room, so Meishen timidly went to the entrance and opened the door.

That scene was staged at the stairs.

"Huh?"

Layfon and Nina who should have been walking up the stairs had their heads raised looking at the top of the stairs.

Moreover Vati's figure was standing at the stair landing, and she held Felli to her chest.

"Captain, please calm down."

Nina's body still emitted killing intent, and Layfon who was completely confused spoke to her.

"How can I calm down!"

Then, giving off incredible anger, Nina glared at Vati.

What exactly had happened, and what was the situation right now? Meishen once again looked at Vati.

Vati was kneeling on the floor, and the unconscious Felli was in her arms. Her face was expressionless as usual.

"......Loss-senpai's body was not suited to walking down the stairs, and fainted here. I was only thinking of looking after her."

"Yes, could it be that Captain thought Vati-san was doing something?"

"But...... This person!"

This person was what? However, Nina showed an expression as if she were biting the bullet and quieted down, and the words afterwards could not be heard.

Just then......

"Waah! What are you guys doing!"

Was it by chance? A new person let out a cry as if she were going to charge over, and without hesitation came from behind and grabbed Nina.

It was Claribel. With a pale face she said to Nina:

"Wait wait wait, you're too excited, Nina."

"But! This person made Felli-! To Felli......!"

"It's okay. Nothing has happened, nothing has happened! Isn't that right?"

That last sentence was directed to Vati.

"Of course. Loss-senpai's body temperature and pulse are sufficient to maintain the normal state of her vital functions, but her body seems to be in a state of extreme fatigue, and it seems best to immediately send her to the hospital."

"See! See! Right now isn't the time to do this kind of thing!"

"Mu, gu, uu!"

"Layfon-san, please take Felli-senpai back."

"Ah, ah...... yes."

Layfon climbed the stairs with a puzzled face, and received Felli from Vati's hands.


Yes, it was at that moment.


Meishen forgot how abnormal the current situation was.

At that moment she only had that face in her mind.

Layfon's face.

The face of him lowering his head to look at Felli after he took Felli from Vati's hands.

He worriedly gazed at Felli.

This was obviously his normal response, but at that time, the expression that appeared on his face in that moment, though at first glance it seemed the same as normal, it produced an unexpectedly different feeling in Meishen.

Was this a misunderstanding, was she just guessing?

She was thinking too much - wasn't that kind of conclusion good?

But, even if she was proud of that conclusion, who was she trying to fool?

Fool herself?

Fraudulent.

It was as if the pain from the needles inserted in her heart grew stronger.

If that kind of paint wouldn't disappear, then whatever she said was meaningless.

"What should I do?"

What should she do about what? To whom?

Soon after, Meishen had already returned to the room. She hadn't escaped back to her room, but the her afterwards hadn't really been seeing anything.

She remembered that in order to send Felli to the hospital, Layfon and the others had gone to the hospital, and only Vati had stayed here. Claribel had apologized to Nina.

Meishen stood blankly, looking at the drama performed on the stair landing, and in the end she was the only one left.

Dinner was placed on the dinner table covered with a fresh cloth. Comparing the abundant preparations and the room's emptiness, Meishen intently gazed at the food.

"Ah, dinner...... what should I do?"

Meishen tried asking, but the answer didn't come to her immediately.

Instead, what appeared and endlessly spun in her mind was the scene that had just been performed, Layfon's face as he gazed at Felli.

"Why......?"

What was it that had made her so shocked? What was it that she had seen?

No, she was very clear.

She didn't know the truth - put this pretense to the side, and recognize the truth that appeared in her heart.

In Layfon's eyes as he gazed at Felli, there seemed to be some special feeling. It wasn't a look given to a friend of classmate. The gaze he had given Felli hid various emotions.

She felt this way.

"I'm thinking too much, right?"

Her own answer was far too unreal, and made Meishen feel as if she had been completely defeated.

Meishen had seen all of the interaction between the two of them since last year. Meishen knew Felli was interested in Layfon, because she had admitted it to Meishen herself.

So, just Felli staying by Layfon made Meishen feel uncomfortable. In order to find a way to overcome this feeling, Meishen had worked hard in her own way to today. However, she had not thought of getting rid of Felli as a rival. She was sure she had never thought of it.

It wasn't because she thought of having a fair competition with her rival, only because she could never think like that.

......Perhaps, this was only because Meishen didn't even dare elicit his hostility. Even so, she had dared to offer sacrifices to show that she didn't detest Felli. Shouldn't that be something worthy of praise? She thought so.

But, perhaps this was only because Felli wasn't brave enough to go on an offensive towards Layfon.

In other words, Felli was also a late bloomer in terms of love. Only because of this had Meishen felt that she didn't have any need to panic.

Meishen didn't know what she should do. At the least she should let Layfon know of her strong points. Meishen who had thought this worked hard to show off her cooking, but only doing this seemed to be insufficient.

The time continually passed, and changes happened every moment.

Among these changes, was there one where Meishen had been tossed back to her original position?

So, is that why things had become the way they were?

"I'm not...... thinking too much, right?"

Felli only had one thing that made Meishen feel scared and which also made her envious. Of course, Felli had her beauty and her excellent grades and other superiorities that made Meishen feel envious, but the thing that made her the most envious was the interaction between Felli and Layfon.

She could stay with Layfon in the place where he could become himself the most, the battlefield. It was something Meishen definitely could not do, and to Layfon, Felli would definitely become a very trustworthy individual.

But, even if she understood in her heart, Meishen could only helplessly watch the events unfold.

"......I can't do anything."

As a normal person, Meishen couldn't enter the battlefield. She didn't know what to do in order to fill this gap.

"Can I really do nothing?"

That face endlessly appeared in front of her. The face of Layfon gazing at Felli when she had lost her consciousness. However Meishen thought, she didn't feel that the expression that appeared on that face was only concern for a comrade.

Had Layfon been drawn in by Felli?

Or perhaps...... had they gone further..................?

Knock knock.

The sound of the door being knocked almost made her heart stop beating.

"......Huh?"

When she came back to reality, a long time had already passed. The sound of the door hesitated a bit before sounding again, and Meishen hurriedly walked to the door.

"Ah, sorry. You weren't sleeping by any chance, were you?"

It was Layfon.

"Huh? I...... I wasn't. Nothing like that."

"Oh, good. You worked hard to make dinner, but it was wasted."

"Its okay. Ah, come in...... Is Felli-senpai okay?"

"Nn, it's as Vati said, she's only a bit fatigued."

"......Did something happen?"

"Nothing like that. Seems like senpai was also doing something."

"Oh......"

Senpai was 'also'.

Meishen was already distressed to the point where she paid attention to trivial matters of this degree. In order to keep Layfon from seeing her emotions, Meishen worked hard to feign a concerned expression, and herself being this way made her feel quite miserable.

After bringing Layfon into the living room, even if she was unwilling, the food placed on the table greeted her eye.

"Right, have you eaten dinner?"

"Not yet......"

"Then you should eat here."

"Is that okay?"

"Nn, I'll go heat the food now."

Meishen had thought Layfon would return home in order to politely keep from disturbing her, but he hadn't done so. Meishen couldn't help but resent herself who didn't have the courage to open her mouth to tell him to go back home.

"Captain wants me to apologize for her."

"Huh?"

"For her not being able to come eat dinner, and for yelling at Vati."

"Even if you tell me this, I......"

"That's true, but I think Captain only wants me to say this for her."

"I guess so. But, has something happened to Nina-senpai as well?"

"You really think something's weird?"

According to his words, Layfon also didn't know the situation?

"Captain seems like she's angry at Vati. Meishen, have you heard of Captain fighting with Vati?"

"Um, I haven't."

Meishen hadn't heard of anything unpleasant happening between Nina and Vati.

"Really, what's going on after all?"

Nina's actions made Layfon lost in thought, and right now there was no way to ask him about Felli.

After the food was reheated, Meishen and Layfon ate together. She had never experienced a dinner with such an awkward atmosphere, and didn't feel that she would be able to eat much.

However, in front of her was placed a great amount of unheated food. She had to think of how to deal with them.

"Right, about this food..."

Just as Meishen was thinking about what to do, Layfon opened his mouth to speak, perhaps perceiving her gaze.

"Huh?"

"When I returned just now, Captain, Clara, and I talked. Tomorrow morning, because of changing courses, the Military Arts department has a few extra free blocks."

"Nn."

"So they plan to borrow a practice battlefield from the school, so the three of us can carry out battle training."

"Ah, you're thinking of using this food to make bentos for that time?"

"Right, right! Can I?"

"Nn, it's okay. But I can't move them all myself."

"Yeah, sorry. I'll help bring them over."

"Nn."

The talk ended here.

After finishing the meal, Layfon indicated that he wanted to wash the dishes. After having some difficulty getting him to leave, Meishen finally relaxed her spirit.

However, the echo in her stomach didn't quickly disappear along with it.

"What should I do......"

Meishen mumbled.

Even if she muttered, she couldn't turn around the situation. But other than expressing her feelings, Meishen couldn't think of anything she could do to take out the boulder lodged in her heart.



She judged that errors had appeared in her actions.

Should she make corrections? Vati thought about it while lying on the bed in her room.

What she thought about was the event where she had approached Felli.

It had been incidental, indeed only incidental and nothing more.

Vati knew that since that day on, Felli had continuously been sleeping in her own room. Vati had tried diagnosing Felli, but didn't detect her having any symptoms of illness. But, she clearly had not used drugs, and the duration of her slumber had surpassed the necessary length for a healthy body. Since this kind of abnormal condition had emerged, Vati decided to continue observing Felli.

She didn't want an unfortunate accident to occur in this apartment building and produce unnecessary trouble for the people in it.

In the end, Felli's life wasn't in danger, so Vati decided to stop pursuing this topic, but Vati hadn't foreseen that Felli would have just woken up when she walked out of Meishen's room, and that Felli had left her room and walked down the stairs herself.

She was in a dream-like state. After accidentally meeting Vati on the stairs, Felli suddenly fainted.

This event happening on the stairs was very unfortunate. If Felli hadn't fainted on the stairs, Vati would have had the option of ignoring it. She knew that Nina and the others were nearby and about to return here, so she could have made this choice.

However, if Felli fell down the stairs and was injured because of this, the situation wouldn't be okay.

As a result, Vati caught Felli, and then was seen doing this by Nina.

She knew that Nina who knew her true form had seen this action.

So, Nina had showed that kind of attitude. This judgment was very correct, and Vati didn't want to see Nina take that kind of response, so she had avoided contact with her companions, but in the end-

"Things aren't going smoothly."

She couldn't carry out everything according to her plans.

However, she had also obtained response data outside of her expectations.

Meishen.

Vati's awareness focused on this response that was not normal and could bring about great changes tomorrow.

"What is it...... For what is she wavering?"

When she came in contact with Felli, Meishen's expression had taken a wavering attitude.

But, Vati didn't know the reasons for her indecision. In that scene, was there anything that could lead Meishen to become like that?

"Is it related to Layfon coming close to Felli?"

But, those two people often were near each other. Even if she had seen a menu of their contact, it still wouldn't constitute a reason for being indecisive.

"......Is there some kind of factor that I do not understand?"

Perhaps this was something that an inhuman, manufactured mechanical doll - a nano-celluloid interface - couldn't understand.

"Therefore, is this something that I am unable to know?"

Vati asked herself. If she asked herself and answered, the answer would be 'Because of that judgment, go learn'.

With what methods would she learn?

"I have to raise the level of my perception......"

Did she have to make further progress with some kind of data? In the course of her normal life, Vati at all times was perceiving the body temperature, breathing, heartbeat, pulse, and brainwave data of many types of organisms. She needed to collect some kind of data other than this? The current Vati didn't know the answer to this question.

"Does that mean that the next area is to understand organisms without only relying on data?"

Survival instinct and experience constructed the nerve networks of the brain, and peoples' emotions were only the responses to the chemical reactions that existed left and right, and love was only a response to promote the spread of genes.

"Therefore, there should be as many alternatives as needed."

It wasn't that humans couldn't be human.

From a man and a woman, a child could be created.

If it was only to leave behind a pair of genetic factors, it shouldn't matter who the other party was. If the meaning was just to leave behind excellent genes, and compete with others to isolate excellent varieties, an unrestrained method should be more efficient, especially from the point of view of the woman. To men, the probability of leaving behind their genes could also go up, so this kind of method wasn't bad.

If the legal system and constructions of men hadn't produced ethics to negate this kind of thought, and people hadn't felt that this way of thinking was wrong, then in terms of humans, perhaps their survival ability wouldn't be as important.

"Because of this, the moat around reproduction has become deep."

To a manufactured doll, the meaning of this sentence was far too profound. She diffused in the simple bedroom, and then disappeared.



Though Layfon had gone to the hospital, Felli was still sleeping deeply. Had the legacy been successfully analyzed or not? Layfon couldn't learn from the still-sleeping Felli's mouth about how many results she had achieved.

The Medical Department student had said that they didn't need to worry once she regained consciousness.

In other words, they couldn't do anything about this condition of deep sleep?

Layfon was worried out of his mind. But, Felli had said to Layfon that this kind of thing wouldn't endanger her life, and wanted him not to worry.

"Even if she said that, I can't do so."

After being requested by Nina, Layfon brought her words to Meishen, and afterwards again returned to the hospital.

Layfon first returned to his room, and even rested for a while lying on his bed. But only when he came to, did he notice that he had changed his clothes and come here.

"......Even if I stay here, she's only going to be sleeping."

The big doors in front of the hospital had already closed. On the hospital grounds, Layfon had walked along the wall of the building, looking for a window that hadn't been closed.

There was one on the third floor. Layfon used Sakkei, and from there quietly slipped into the hospital. When Layfon and Nina had been wounded, they had once received treatment at this hospital, so even if the lights were turned down, he still mostly knew the floor plan.

Felli was in an isolation ward. Layfon took advantage of the nurse not paying attention, and stealthily entered the room.

As expected, Felli was still sleeping.

In the darkness, Layfon looked at Felli's face under the slight moonlight that came in from the window. Though he couldn't say that her sleep was very smooth, she didn't have any pained expression, nor had she become pale.

She only deeply slept.

"......Is she okay?"

Had she resolved the heritage, since she slept deeply as if recovering from an illness...... Felli had once woken up for a short time, so perhaps the situation was like this.

Or, she was still resolving the heritage to today?

"Is she still fighting?"

Regardless of the situation, it wouldn't change that she had fought, or the fact that she currently was fighting.

Moreover Felli's actions and words weren't for herself, but rather for Layfon.

"......It's really serious, huh."

Though he couldn't change this reason that made him look over his actions, Layfon didn't want to put anything into jeopardy.

"Captain is really amazing."

Nina who led subordinates into battle, and continued to move towards danger, did she always shoulder this kind of heavy burden on the battlefield?

No, not only her, other platoon captains were the same. Not only Military Artists, even Karian and Formed from the City Police were the same. Just by standing in their position, they had to bear this heavy burden regardless of the situation.

"Felli also puts in a lot of effort, so I have to work even harder."

CSR vol17 072.jpg

He had to become stronger, even stronger.

He had to elevate the Compound Blast technique, developing Kei techniques that wouldn't create burdens on the Dite.

Layfon felt that he seemed like he had seen his goal, but......

"It still seems a bit different."

He still lacked something.

"Tomorrow I'll be carrying out a slightly intense training with Captain and Clara."

For some reason, the tone that Layfon spoke with changed, as if he were chatting with Felli.

"They seem to have borrowed a practice battlefield. I'm not too sure how, but it seems like because of the person from our last mission, they borrowed a practice field. Though it seems like the person they negotiated with was Shin-senpai."

That two of them were looking for a training field with Claribel had reached Shin's ears, so he substituted for Gorneo to carry out negotiations with them.

"Captain has become strong, and of course Clara is also very strong. I feel that if I fight with them, perhaps I can find some inspiration from it."

This was Layfon's hope.

However, inside hid the strong mood of him wanting to do this.

"So that I don't lose to Felli, I will work hard."

After declaring this, Layfon jumped out from the window of the hospital room.



The next day, during class time before the lunch break......

Layfon and the others were at the practice battlefield.

"......So this is also an experiment, is that okay?"

"Ah, okay."

When he arrived at the resting room, Harley had been waiting. He suddenly said this kind of thing, thrusting the new Sapphire Dite into Layfon's hand.

"The outside and the weight balance are the same as before, but the feeling inside might be slightly different."

"Is it because of the loops you talked about before?"

"Right right, it's the conversion loops. Kirik also did some research, but it seems like he can't make it for this training."

"Oh."

Though the fact that the feeling of using Kei might change made Layfon a bit uncomfortable, he also hoped that the Dite's strength could be upgraded. So, since Harley had spent his hard work, he should receive the results of his research like before.

More importantly, this way, Layfon still had to think about the possibility of his Dite breaking on the battlefield, so he had to be able to immediately adapt to the slightly different abilities of the Dite. He made this kind of conclusion quite simply.

"I've done this kind of thing before anyway."

"What? Is there something that you mind?"

Before becoming a Heaven's Blade, Layfon had once ordered a custom Dite from a different artisan. After coming to Zuellni, though Harley was the only developer, Layfon still used the Sapphire, Adamantium, Shim Adamantium, and the various improved versions of those Dites.

"No, I'm only a bit tense."

That kind of thing would happen sooner or latter, and moreover he was anxious to complete the Composite Blast move, so Layfon was a bit impatient.

"I get it, I get it, before making new attempts I always feel a bit impatient and uncomfortable."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah."

Harley said this, and Layfon felt that perhaps it really was the truth. In Grendan when he had been involved in underground matches, perhaps he had also been sensitive like he was now. Layfon at the time felt that it had been because he was weak and because he had been afraid, but in reality he had also been trying new things.

"As expected, it's different from right now."

"Huh?"

"Nothing, I was just thinking about things."

Subconsciously letting out a low mumble and a forced smile, Layfon left the resting room. Nina and Claribel should be in the other resting room preparing.

Layfon arrived at the practice battleground.

He looked at the spectator seats, and he could see Sharnid and Dalshena's figures, with the members of the fourteenth platoon that Shin led sitting in another area.

They hadn't participated in this training.

"They said this would be a special training......"

The two of them hadn't told Layfon details of the training.

However, Nina already could flexibly use the Haikizoku's power, and Claribel was still the granddaughter of the Heaven's Blade successor Tigris as well as the apprentice of the Heaven's Blade successor Troyatte. If he could train freely using the whole battlefield with them, just from this he should receive some inspiration, so Layfon didn't really care.

Sharnid wore his usual smile waving his hand toward him. Layfon raised his arm to him, surveying the practice battlefield. Traces of the last platoon match held here were left on the battlefield, but it hadn't been a match between Layfon's seventeenth platoon and the fourteenth platoon. Though the time was a bit late, this year's inter-platoon matches had already begun with a slow pace.

Layfon and the others in the seventeenth platoon had already undergone many battlefields, and moreover they had maintained their winning streak without any big difficulties.

"Ah......"

At that time, Layfon restored the Dite that Harley had given him in order to check it. Just then, Nina and Claribel's presences entered the field from the opponents' entrance.

"So the meaning is, Captain and Clara will join hands to fight me?"

Was that what was going on?

Layfon didn't mind, but he felt that then, it shouldn't have been a problem to tell him it was that kind of training beforehand, right?

Just as he thought this, the Psychokinesis flake came over.

(Layfon, can you hear this?)

It was Nina's voice.

"Ah, yes."

Felli was still in the hospital; this was the flake of the fourteenth platoon's Psychokinesist.

(We're going to begin the training now, the format of the competition will be Clara and I facing Layfon.)

"I understand."

As expected, the situation was like that.

However, Nina's next sentence surprised Layfon.

(Regarding your weapon, I already spoke to Harley and asked him to remove the restriction on the steel threads.)

"Hah?"

(I received the permission of the Military Arts Head. Anyway, the restriction measure was the order of the previous Student Council President, so right now it's already invalid.)

"Ah, is that true?"

(But, the Military Arts Head has ordered again that you cannot use the steel threads during the Military Arts Competition and platoon matches.)

"That's right."

Gorneo definitely knew how shocking the power of the steel threads was. Moreover, the steel threads weren't as easy to install safety devices in as other weapons, so nothing could be done about them being banned.

"But, if I use steel threads......"

(Nn, we've already been wounded a million times.)

"That's true, but the wounds inflicted by steel threads aren't normal......"

The steel threads were thin, but if one concentrated, they weren't completely invisible. Honestly, if these two joined their powers, Layfon might end up beaten by them. Perhaps that was why the steel threads restriction had been lifted. However, if some situation happened when he didn't know the strength of his opponents, Layfon might be unable to stop his hands.

Thinking that an accident could happen, the battle could be a bit more relaxed if he didn't use the steel threads altogether.

(I already realized that.)

(If it lets me experience the feeling from before when my arm was cut off, I don't care.) [2]

After not only Nina, but Claribel also said that kind of thing, Layfon made up his mind.

"Letting you immediately experience the feeling from that time isn't easy......"

Only in order to rescue Leerin and Nina had Layfon made that momentous life-and-death decision.

That time's serious emotions couldn't be found in his current state of mind, but he had a different kind of toughness. Layfon thought so, and wanted to have confidence in it. However, it wasn't a toughness that would let him easily cut someone's arm off.

Though, he was afraid that the important point right now was something else.

"Since you and Captain don't mind."

He couldn't lose to Felli's hard work.

Nor to Gildred's words, 'Let this old man see what you can do'.

Layfon had drifted for a year through the Academy City. During this year, Nina had become strong enough to make one admire her position, and achieved a pair of strong Dites that could match her power. She had also begun being a part of a battleground that Layfon and others could know nothing of.

Nina's speed of advancement was this fast, and Layfon had practically been cast off behind her.

"Because to me, this battlefield doesn't seem relaxed."

Layfon already had been cast away by Leerin.

But, he didn't want to always be cast away. The battleground that Nina faced should be related to the battlefield of Leerin and Grendan.

"I'll come with full power."

For Nina who had let Layfon continue being a Military Artist in the Academy City.

And also for Leerin who continued to support him in Grendan.

Layfon couldn't let himself be cast off by others here.

(Good.)

Nina's voice that passed through the flake sounded quite satisfied.

(Sharnid will be managing the signal of the start of competition, and he'll coordinate with the time to give the signal.)

"Okay."

After replying, Layfon used Sakkei. He heard Sharnid who was sitting in the spectator seats let out an 'Ooh'.

His method of training that he had carried out after class while unnoticed by others seemed to raise his senses when he released Kei from his body. Though this kind of condition wasn't suitable for creating powerful Kei in an instant, it still had its places where it came in handy.

Moreover, doing this could also make it difficult for his opponents to interpret his position.

Layfon in his Sakkei state formed his Kei, diligently staying in his position. But, he once again confirmed the state of the new Dite that Harley had given to him.

Harley said he had altered the conversion loops. Indeed, the feeling of flow through this Dite didn't seem the same, but it didn't make this Dite hard to use.

To Military Artists who used weapons as part of their bodies, the conversion loops of the Dite counted as an existence like nerves or blood vessels.

Layfon didn't resist the new nerves, gradually getting accustomed to it.

"......Good."

His mumble sounded out, and Sharnid simultaneously gave the gunshot.

Layfon in his Sakkei state ran to the center of the practice field.

On the other side, huge Kei like a pillar of fire sprayed into the air.

This kind of Kei was Nina's.

"That's really full power."

Layfon involuntarily murmured.

The same as what he had felt in the empty city, Nina had definitely released the Haikizoku's power.

Nina's presence dominated the entire practice field.

"I can't interpret Clara's movements."

She should also be using Sakkei. But more importantly, Nina's presence was far too great, and it felt like it was going to obliterate everything.

"They can already work together?"

If it were like that, then all they had to do was rehearse their tactics before the battle. What Layfon cared about was what actions they would take next.

Layfon ran to the center while restoring the Sapphire Dite in its steel threads state. He pulled the Shim Adamantium Dite out of his weapon belt in its basic state, and gripped it tightly in his hand.

Layfon who moved towards the center changed his straight-line path to a zigzag. Though the steel threads had already spread out, Layfon had not flowed his Kei into them. Layfon ran while letting the steel threads droop on the ground, letting them bend around everywhere.

The huge Kei that Nina released still filled the entire practice field, shaking the air. On the other hand, Claribel's Kei still stayed hidden.

"How will they move?"

Layfon quietly whispered. The wound of the whisper was covered by the sound of footsteps, not to mention that Layfon had the steel threads crossed and spread in all directions, which were pushing back the surrounding vegetation nonstop. Perhaps the sound that was given out would let them see through Layfon's movement path, but the waves of Kei that Nina sent in all directions also made a different sound.

If the whisper produced a response, it indicated that Claribel was nearby, but from the look of it the situation wasn't like that.

Perhaps she had seen Layfon, and hadn't taken action?

Nina with a somewhat fast pace moved to the center of the practice field. From this, Layfon continued competing with Claribel who was using Sakkei like he was, seeing who would interpret the opponent's movements first.

"Moreover my side also has a time limit......"

The reason Nina was using this kind of unhurried pace to advance should be to not overlook the enemies nearby her. So he couldn't pass by her side to get around to the other side of the practice field, which was a bit safer.

Not to mention that behind Nina, Claribel might be setting a trap with Karen Kei. Considering this, Nina walking this way to the practice field was effective.

In terms of guaranteeing his safety in this field, the time that Nina took to walk to the center of the practice field was the limit to the time that Layfon could concentrate on looking for Claribel.

If he couldn't find Claribel, Layfon would have to fight with Nina under worrisome conditions.

"Ahh, this really is......"

Layfon suddenly stopped his feet and sighed.

He thought of what had happened right when he had entered the school. From then till now, only a year and a bit more had passed. Though the Nina from that time was among the strongest of the Military Artists in Zuellni, in the end she had only been that level of a Military Artist.

In order to save Zuellni that faced a dead end, she endlessly struggled, but because her strength was not enough, she was angry, impatient.

The her like that had now become a strength that could surpass Layfon. Though she used the definitely abnormal means of the Haikizoku, this kind of thing wasn't important in the first place.

Rather, whether she could flexibly use the strength in her hands was the important point.

Moreover Nina could flexibly use that strength.

From that time till now, only one year and a bit had passed.

In that short of a time Layfon's power had been caught up to by Nina, and might be surpassed at any time.

"I can't stand it."

In Layfon's heart surfaced happy and discontented complicated feelings.

Nina had finally reached the center of the practice field.

Layfon hadn't been able to find Claribel. Had she never attempted to find Layfon who was hiding while using Sakkei in the first place, and rather stayed behind Nina's back working to set a trap the whole time?

"............Alright."

Layfon also made his decision.

He released the Sakkei that sealed his Kei in a breath.

The Kei pressure that was released blew strong winds with Layfon as the center.

The airflow and Nina's Kei pressure clashed with each other, and in a moment a cyclone was produced in the central area, spreading to the entire practice field.

Layfon restored his Shim Adamantium Dite, and holding the dark gray sword in front of him charged towards Nina.

"Haah!"

Nina raised her iron whips, taking a defensive position while standing in her position. Judging by her expression, she could see his movements.

This was a natural thing.

Though it was a natural thing, only a short while ago Nina hadn't been able to clearly see Layfon's movements.

"This really............ is!"

"Haah!"

Layfon drew close to Nina, sweeping the blade to release a slash, and this move was blocked. It was Kongoukei. Layfon released external Kei from his body to deflect the shockwaves that were reflected back, and then they played out a dramatic moment with their weapons crossed.

In comparison to Layfon's single sword, both of Nina's hands held a weapon. Now that the difference in Kei strength had disappeared, it should be that their internal Kei difference in strength had also disappeared.

In other words, in this kind of state, Layfon would definitely lose a battle of brute force with Nina.

"Huaaah!"

"Che!"

Layfon's body was pushed back, and Kei began collecting in the iron whips. Because he was afraid of his weapons breaking, Layfon retreated backwards.

Not to mention, in the situation where he still hadn't discovered where Claribel was, Layfon couldn't waste all his time on Nina.

Nina gathered her focus to prepare to release a move, and Layfon, seeing this moment, put back his weapon. The sudden move made Nina lose her balance for a second, and though Layfon wanted to take advantage of the moment to follow up, Claribel still made him wary, so he truly retreated back. After putting distance between him and Nina, Layfon used dust to cover his figure, and once again used Sakkei.

He originally planned to move immediately, but staying in his position could also make the opponent mistake his position.

Nina stood her ground without moving. She seemed to have decided that she would wait for him to move first regardless.

"......How strange."

Layfon couldn't hold back his murmur. Nina was unexpectedly this leisurely.

Being this leisurely made him very uncertain.

Claribel hadn't moved.

What was Nina's reason for staying still?

On this battlefield, Layfon had only fought once with Nina, but Nina hadn't pursued him, making Layfon feel concerned. According to her personality, as soon as a fight began with her opponent, it was only right for her to continue fighting.

Since Nina hadn't done this, did that mean it was their battle plan to invite Layfon to fight at that position?

Claribel was currently setting a trap, he could be sure of that.

"............In this case, she's behind Captain."

But, if he went behind Nina to investigate, she would definitely take action.

"No, it should be fine as long as she acts, right?"

Since he hadn't been able to see his opponents' intent till now, continuing to guess their tactics was almost meaningless.

"Let's go then."

After making his decision, Layfon moved.

Of course, Layfon didn't recklessly charge at Nina. He connected the steel thread mode Sapphire Dite in his left hand to the handle of the Shim Adamantium Dite, and poured Kei into the Sapphire Dite that he had deliberately not poured Kei into before.

Layfon had used the burst of strong wind that had been produced earlier, so that not only his area, but Nina's area of the practice field also had steel threads. The steel threads almost filled the whole practice field.

At that time, he flowed Kei into the steel threads.

Layfon took note of the Dite's strength while pouring strong Kei more than what was necessary to operate the steel threads into them.

"Wah!"

From the other side of the dust came Nina's low shout.

She obviously would have this response.

Because the current situation was the same as Layfon's presence occupying the entire practice field in a moment. Just like Nina's giant Kei pressure obscuring Claribel's figure, Layfon's original position had also become ambiguous as a result of this action.

Layfon hadn't moved from his position. He maintained the Kei flow into the steel threads, calmly surveying the situation's developments.

What would Nina and Claribel think?

This time, the longer time was dragged out, the more use it would be to Layfon.

"Clara!"

Nina yelled out.

"Let's go, if this continues he'll be able to weave the formation!"

"Correct answer."

Layfon quietly murmured, responding to the Claribel's voice. The steel threads that were spread through the entire practice field confused Layfon's position by means of more than enough Kei flow while moving back and forth, preparing Lintence's Sougenkyouku technique. Due to the excessive Kei given to them, anyone could clearly feel their movements.

The movements of the steel threads were intimidating to the two of them.

Also, the steel threads substituted as sensory organs, receiving the conversation just now between the two of them, and discovering Claribel's position.

She was right behind Nina.

Had she been there from the start, or had she just moved there after their discussion on tactics had finished?

"They also plan on doing something."

Layfon also started running, running towards Nina and Claribel.

The trap had been set.

"Next up......!"

Let's see which side's trap was more superior.

This training became a battle of that form.

After Layfon tore through the dust and passed through the smoke, Nina and Claribel were in front of him. Their thinking had been the same as Layfon's.

Thee two sides charged straight at each other, clashing together.

"Ohhhh!"

Nina's roar shook the battlefield. She had her two iron whips crossed in front of her chest, leaping high to charge at Layfon.

Without the least bit difference, Layfon rushed forth like a bullet.

"Hah!"

Layfon probed the space produced by the swings of the iron whips, weaving through the seams of the Kei pressure on the iron whips, and then rushed behind her.

Claribel was there. Her sword - Kochouenshiken - gave off light, dragging a crimson line by Layfon.

This strike was avoided by Layfon. He leaned low as if he wanted to graze the earth, and passed through behind both of them.

This was the place where Nina and Claribel had stayed till now, the center of the trap that Claribel had set.

"Come......"

Layfon was the one who said this, calling out to Claribel.

What kind of trap had she set?

What situation would arise?

And in this kind of situation what kind of action would Nina take?

Layfon had to witness all of it.

He had to show them that he could avoid all of it.

Had to show them that he could surpass all of it.

Why?

Why would they join hands to fight?

Why could they fight cooperatively?

In such a short time, Layfon seemed to be able to see the meaning and overture in it.

"......What will they do?"

This was a normal murmur. However, Layfon was confident that this sentence would provoke Claribel.

"Come on."

Just as Layfon expected, Claribel's eyes changed. Nina controlled her expression and made her decision.

After observing the change in the two's expression, Layfon also changed the flow of his Kei. He changed the flow of Kei into the steel threads into the most suitable amount, turning the extra Kei into internal Kei, increasing the limit of his movement abilities.

He would attack next, he would attack for them to see.

Layfon elevated his Kei flow, entering the condition of preparation for using Composite Blast. Since he had no way to weave a formation in an instant like Lintence, he could only use the part of Sougenkyouku that he had finished preparing.

Moreover, once the use of Layfon's newly created Kei technique - Composite Blast - was decided, it couldn't be changed.

If there was an error in his judgment, then it would create a very big loss, and perhaps would lead to the road to defeat.

Though this was only training.

However, depending on the result, this training might have a great effect on Layfon. Even if this was only training, that didn't mean it was okay to lose this competition.

What was important was whether Layfon could carry out his own determination.

"......They can coordinate their breathing with each other."

People from different platoons could do that kind of thing.

That meant Claribel knew what problem Nina was facing, and had become a comrade who would face the problem with her.

"In that case......"

His Kei thundered, the Kei pressure digging into the ground, whipping up dirt and sand. The steel threads released radiance, undulating up and down, finishing their formation.

Layfon raised the dark gray blade of the Shim Adamantium Dite, putting it on his shoulder, and taking a stance as if he wanted to hide it behind his back. Connected to its handle was the Sapphire Dite.

Nina moved.

Claribel headed over.

The two iron whips housing tremendous Kei attacked. Kei ran back and forth in her body, having still not erupted. Nina seemed to plan to close in to release some Kei technique.

Behind her, Claribel released a Kei technique hidden until now. Kei that had been embedded throughout erupted. In order to change to the move they had chosen, they produced Karen Kei, appearing before Layfon.

This was External-type Kei, Karen variant - Dawn's Radiance.

Explosions occurred in the practice field, and light overflowed from it. This light wouldn't dissipate in the air like a blip, but flew into the air from the ground, becoming a ball of light around as large as a human head, then stopping like that in its position while emitting a strong radiance.

Countless numbers of these balls of light dyed the practice field white.

Claribel stopped her pace, leaving the side of Nina who was attacking. In order to initiate new changes, she showed a focused expression.

"This is......"

Layfon knew what moves would attack him.

This was Troyatte's expert skill. The name of the move would change according to his emotions at the time, so sometimes he called it 'Light Up', and sometimes called it 'Birushana'. It used lenses formed by changing the density of the air, using a special wavelength of light released from highly compressed Kei that could be seen as a beam of light.

She didn't use this power as well as Troyatte.

So the balls of light numbered this many. Moreover, this number also held another meaning.

This number was in order to give Layfon nowhere to run.

Killing intent surrounded Layfon's whole body. In order to escape from the beams of light that attacked from every direction, he could only move before they attacked.

However, Nina was in front of the only safe spot.

If he didn't move, Layfon would suffer their attacks, and then be squashed flat by the Kei of the two.

Did they want to expose him amidst the chaotic beams that couldn't be avoided, or perhaps even if he succeeded evading them, did they still have some powerful hidden strike?

If he were confused for a moment, he would instantly suffer two moves.

No...... no matter what action he took, there would be a further trap waiting for him.

"Therefore......"

Layfon had long since made up his mind, and had already decided his course of action. So, Layfon had spread the steel threads in all directions, weaving a formation, overlapped with Composite Blast.

Layfon...... didn't move.

Layfon had not raised his sword for a stance, and did not give off the air that he would take action.

Layfon saw the confused faces of two, and after sensing of the presences of Nina and Claribel rushing at him releasing Kei techniques, he released the strategy that he had laid himself.

External-type Kei variant - Sougenkyouku Nadare Kuzushi.

"Haaaaah!"

Combined Internal and External Kei variant - Raijin.

Nina also unleashed her Kei technique almost simultaneously. Her existence turned into something like radiance, seeming to become furiously billowing lightning. Strong noise and light flew by him continuing behind, and the powerful assault followed rushing towards him. A strong pressure as if it wanted to crush his entire body headed for Layfon.

Behind Nina, light burst open. Claribel's Dawn's Radiance released an uncountable number of beams of light. The high temperature of the beams undoubtedly attacked at the speed of light. The high temperature beam shouldn't have mass, but from every beam, Layfon's body would violently shake, perhaps due to the instantaneous rise in heat distorting the air. Layfon's back was hot and felt stabbing pain, and the smell of his scorched hair reached his nose.

However, Layfon's feet were there, and his arms were there.

His body was also there.

He stood there almost unwounded.

"Wha-!"

Nina's surprised face was very close. Behind her, Claribel also widened her eyes in amazement.

Layfon's surroundings had been covered with the light produced by Raijin and Dawn's Radiance, so vision was almost useless.

However, the two of them had seen what had just happened.

They were very clear on it.

Steel threads were spread all around Layfon. Seeing this scene, Nina and Claribel both showed a surprised expression.

Sougenkyouku Nadare Kuzushi. A dense cover of steel threads like a spiderweb protected him in all directions, and on the surface was a membrane of defensive Kei. The use of this move was to disperse the strength of all attacks.

Moreover, the energy of the attacks that this spiderweb of steel threads had just dispersed was sent to every corner of the practice field.

To Sharnid and the others who sat in the spectator seats watching the battle, at the same time as Nina and Claribel released their moves, the whole practice field seemed to explode.

"How...... can that......"

Had Nina and Claribel already exhausted their tactics? Though Nina had only used Raijin once, judging by the time when she had fought with Claribel, that last strike should have used all of her Kei.

Even if she hadn't used all of her stored Kei, the energy that had been dispersed by the steel threads would definitely have detonated any other Kei that had been lying in wait in the practice field.

"Next is."

Layfon still had the Kei that he had poured into the Shim Adamantium Dite. He had used Composite Blast and accumulated two Kei flows, and had retained two Kei techniques while not moving a muscle.

One move was Nadare Kuzushi.

There was still another move.

"If you can get through this move, you will be the winners."

Small fragments entered the range of his vision, pieces of the Sapphire Dite that had broken off from Composite Blast. Layfon murmured this, and then released the other strike.

Heaven's Blade Art - Silent Flash.

Taking up a stance, he swept downwards in a blitz.

With a sound like explosions engulfing the air, the blade calmly released Kei.

The Kei released from the blade traveled with an abnormally slow speed.

"Wha......?"

Nina who had taken up a defensive stance unconsciously let out a confused sound, and this was definitely her first time seeing Kei flow this slowly.

In the battles of Military Artists where speed was extremely important, this kind of slow move couldn't appear.

"Run!"

Claribel yelled.

Nina, who was hesitating over whether she should engage it, immediately retreated back after hearing the yell.

However, she couldn't escape from this move.

"It's useless."

Layfon murmured. The Shim Adamantium Dite in his hand began breaking. However, though the Dite was broken, that didn't mean the move would disappear. The move which had already been released would continue to run following its determined path.

The slowest Kei technique pursued the continuously retreating Nina.

After seeing this scene, Layfon restored his last Dite...... the Adamantium Dite.

"What is this!"

Nina shouted out, crying out in uncertainty.

Nina wasn't only retreating in a straight line. Because the aftermath of her move had destroyed the ground, the practice field had turned to a desert. In order to not stumble on the practice field, she paid attention to her steps while fleeing back and forth.

The Kei that Layfon had released chased her from behind.

"The speed of this move is slow because the density of its Kei is incredibly high. And then it can be induced to move by Karen Kei!"

"I see!"

Nina seemed to realize something.

Layfon thought of it. The platoon captain competition before the Military Arts Competition began. When Nina and Gorneo had fought, she had experienced a similar move. [3]

"Some thread-like things......"

If Nina looked for the threads of Karen Kei stuck to her body, she would find them immediately.

This was a Kei technique specialized for fighting aged phases, and not a move for facing Military Artists. Hazy Garret, which was also a Heaven's Blade Art, was a technique that used Kei to carry out external destruction in concert, and Silent Flash was a skill specialized at destroying the outer shell. Because the extremely heavy blow could be directed by the snakelike threads, the destructive move could indeed reach its target.

However, its speed was quite slow, so it wasn't suited to be used in a fight of Military Artists.

In reality, Claribel had already seen the winding threads, and cut them off. After losing its target, Silent Flash slowly hurtled towards the ground of the practice field.

"It isn't...... over!"

Layfon waved the large blade of the Adamantium Dite, casting the additional power of Composite Blast. As expected, Composite Blast for Silent Flash was very heavy, so Layfon used the blade to send it out.

After Composite Blast and Silent Flash moving in the air met, the power of the Kei techniques added together. Since the threads had been cut and the Kei technique had lost its propulsion, the weight had begun to fall.

With the added Kei from the Composite Blast just now, Silent Flash didn't wait to fall down before beginning to explode.

"Wha-!"

"Uwah!"

The sound of the explosion covered the shouts of the two.

"Then, what will happen?"

Considering the strength of Kei necessary to use a Heaven's Blade Art, even a simple explosion would have extremely strong force.

But, the force of the explosion didn't focus on the two people. The rushing power didn't have a target and spread in all directions, and the actual wounds inflicted to them weren't any. Because of this, Layfon had deliberately waited for an opening where they couldn't defend in time, however......

The explosion subsided, and the dust that danced in the sky gradually thinned.

The original landscape couldn't be seen from a single inch of the practice field.

"The two of them......"

An explosion of this scale had happened, and Layfon had lost their presences.

However, if only they took action, Layfon wouldn't miss their presences.

"......Go!"

Now.

On the right.

The great blade of the Adamantium Dite wouldn't be in time to defend, so Layfon ducked his body.

A crimson cut path flew over his head.

It was Claribel.

Layfon didn't counterattack Claribel who flew over him like that. Rather, he confirmed her position, while searching for the other presence.

When he still hadn't found the other presence, a strong Kei pressure pushed open the dust.

"......She used Kongoukei in time, huh."

Layfon thought he had saw an opportunity where Nina wouldn't be able to use Kongoukei in time, but her defensive reaction was faster than Layfon knew. Claribel's action was this fast, because she had used Nina as a shield, therefore saving her Kei.

"......Haha."

Layfon unconsciously laughed.

This meant he had lost.

These words naturally emerged in his mind.

He had used Composite Blast, even sacrificing two Dites for the sake of setting up his technique, but it had been beautifully blocked by the two of them. Layfon knew that his final attack was a bit naive. However, this was Layfon's power at the current stage.

Nina had become strong to this level, and even coordinated with Claribel to use attacks that they had not planned in advance.

The one who joined hands with her was Claribel from a different platoon. When had they found time to train in secret?

That kind of practical effort that didn't meet the eye let the power of the two almost override Layfon's.

But......

CSR vol17 104.jpg

"I still have a weapon."

The Adamantium Dite was still in Layfon's hand.

"I still have a body that can move."

Layfon was almost unharmed. Since his strategy to win had fallen, he should admit defeat and retreat from the battle. Layfon understood this way would be a bit smarter, but the current him didn't want to make that kind of choice.

"Even so, I can still fight."

It wasn't like he could only choose smart ways of doing things. The two of them who faced him now definitely would have nothing to gain by making such a choice.

"Let's fight seriously."

Layfon decided.

Claribel once again covered her presence, Nina condensed her Kei, and closed in on him.

Layfon raised the blade of the Adamantium Dite.

Regardless of how the situation developed, he would fight on.

He had this resolve.



Everyone held their breath watching the battle.

She only just realized that the time had flown by.

The workers who had come over to tell them that they had surpassed the time allotted for the practice field were left speechless by seeing the scene. The other people on the spectator seats all had classes to attend, or had other things to do, but no one stood up from their seats.

Meishen was the same.

Receiving Layfon's request, Meishen had made the food from dinner into bentos, and then brought them here, but in the end she stood there staring.

Layfon was fighting on the practice field. He fought against Nina and Claribel, staging an incredibly intense battle.

Though Meishen who was a normal person had no way to understand the battles of Military Artists, she had never been absent from the matches of the seventeenth platoon.

So, she still understood a bit.

Nina had become strong. Though she had joined hands with Claribel, the two of them could still suppress Layfon whom she felt had overwhelming strength. It could even be said that Layfon was barely maintaining himself on the battlefield.

Seeing this scene made Meishen's beliefs begin to collapse.

Layfon was very strong. Meishen had once thought that in this Academy City there definitely wasn't anyone who could win against his strength.

This way of thinking wasn't at all related with the truth, and she understood that this was only a girl's fantasy.

In the commotion during the school's opening ceremony, Layfon had handsomely rescued Meishen. His figure at the time had produced a kind of fantasy in Meishen that could be called excessive. Even if Layfon had received serious wounds in some battle that he couldn't tell others about, Meishen's fantasy had never once crumbled.

However, this kind of thinking began to crumble.

Nina who had originally only been chasing after Layfon's back was now staging a close-combat intense war. This scene wrecked the fantasy in Meishen's heart.

"......Layton."

Meishen who was in the spectator seats couldn't know what kind of expression Layfon had on his face. The three appeared and disappeared between the gaps in the dust, and would suddenly appear somewhere else, and simply keeping track of them was already difficult.

However, even still, even if she almost couldn't see the battle, Meishen still understood, she still understood this.

Meishen's fantasy had already crumbled by now.

"Is Senpai okay?"

"Nn, nn."

Meishen was a bit unstable, and Vati who had helped her bring the bentos over reached out her hand to steady her. Meishen wasn't even in a state of mind to say thanks.

The situation continued changing.

"......Even if it's like this, is anything wrong?"

She unconsciously murmured.

Even she was quickly becoming different from before. Her who had only hidden behind her childhood friends' backs, now lived alone and had her own store.

The surrounding people would also change. Even if the gap in strength between Layfon and Nina changed, even if this astonished people, it still shouldn't daze her.

"No, It's not like that."

What Meishen couldn't permit wasn't the change itself.

She couldn't permit the factor contained inside the change.

"......I can't............permit it?"

The thought that appeared in her head again produced the feeling as if Meishen's brain was being mauled. She couldn't permit it. What arrogant language. His changes made her feel unhappy, so she couldn't permit them? It was really too much......

However.

"What can't I permit?"

Meishen didn't understand it.

No, she understood clearly.

Meishen didn't understand the details, didn't understand the hateful part of herself.

However, Meishen understood the feelings she had towards it, and knew how she looked upon it.

He had grown ever farther from herself.

He was going somewhere far away. The feeling from last time grew ever closer to the truth, gradually becoming true.

Because she had this way of thinking, vocabulary such as 'I can't permit it' had appeared in Meishen's mind.

"But in the end, it still is......"

A kind of arrogance. Even if Layfon had really left, Meishen had no right to stop him.

But, before that happened......

She should still have time. Meishen had once thought this way. She still had five years before graduating from Zuellni.

She only had to take it step by step, correctly moving forward. Meishen had once thought this way. She had once believed that leaving the shelter of her childhood friends and slowly trying to express her feelings was enough.

"It's too late."

Perhaps the situation was like that. Meishen didn't know Layfon's feelings of moving away, not knowing what kind of situation he was in, but if Layfon really wanted to leave the Academy City as she thought, then the speed at which Meishen was changing couldn't catch up to Layfon.

Maybe before she could express her feelings, Layfon would no longer be here.

Moreover, this kind of change brought something like discomfort alongside the battle, seeming to imply that in terms of Layfon and the others, a place like the Academy City was already too narrow.

So, the feeling that Layfon was leaving had emerged in her.

In the end, the battle continued for several hours after this, and as everyone was waiting for the battle to end, the sky was already tinted with a touch of red.

"Sorry, and I even asked you to bring the bentos here."

"No, it's okay."

Layfon, his whole body weak, apologized while collapsed in the resting room, and Meishen couldn't say anything other than this response.

Layfon's face was darkened from sweat and mud, and even his battle clothing had become tattered.

Until today, Meishen had never visited the resting room after a battle.

"Even if it were me...... I couldn't eat all of this instantly."

"Nn, it's okay."

Layfon's back rested against a cabinet as he sat on the ground without moving a muscle. He bent over, sitting there cumbersomely without any strength in his body. Until today, Meishen had never seen him like this.

The current him was this tired.

"......How was it?"

"Nn?"

"This...... competition."

"Aah...... nn."

The expression that emerged on Layfon from his understanding of the words' meanings surprised Meishen.

The completely satisfied expression that showed on his mud-covered and extremely tired face produced a feeling in Meishen as if she had been pushed aside.

"Thought I lost, I probably did my best."

This couldn't continue.

"......But, until this, Layton has been somewhat......"

"Yeah, but those kinds of things will happen."

"What do you mean, those kinds of things......?"

"......Things that won't happen to normal people. Though, if such a thing happened to a normal person, doesn't that just mean he isn't normal?"

"......Layton?"

As expected, Layfon was very tired. She thought so in her heart.

His heart and body were both very tired. He hadn't seen something that obviously concerned him. Or perhaps he had seen that he didn't have a reason at all to see the other side.

But, this had encouraged a change in Layfon.

"Though I hadn't thought like this before, I feel that I was probably too conceited before. It's too humiliating to have used calm and objective principles to voice an extremely arrogant opinion."

"That never happened! Layton is......!"

"......M-Mei?"

Meishen unintentionally raised her voice, and Layfon's eyes widened.

"Layton...... is very strong, truly very strong. Because Layton saved my life."

"That......"

"Even if it doesn't mean much to Layton, to me it's......"

Meishen interrupted Layfon's words. That wasn't anything amazing. Meishen knew he would say something like that. But, even if it didn't mean much, to Meishen it had already become an extremely important, precious memory that couldn't be lost.

It had already become something like that.

"So...... to me, Layton is...... Layton is......"

"Mei......?"

What was she planning to say? Meishen noticed that she had brought forth a disastrous development, so she felt very confused.

But, this was already impossible to stop, right?

The change and growth of Meishen's heart perhaps couldn't catch up to the change that Layfon was preparing to welcome.

Words spoken according to common sense.

Therefore, right now, even if she was reluctant......

Even if her heart would hurt, even if she would suffer pains, even if she couldn't express it well, she still had to open her heart right now, and let Layfon see her true feelings.

If she didn't do so, perhaps she wouldn't ever be able to deeply express the feelings in her heart again.

"I...... to Layton...... to Layton......"

So, she could only open the doors to her heart.

CSR vol17 114.jpg

These feelings were very, very important, precious like treasure.

She only wanted to hide them in a treasure chest, not letting anyone else see them, these feelings that only belonged to herself.

However, treasure that couldn't be taken out to be seen was the same as no treasure at all. If the treasure chest couldn't be opened and no one could know what was inside, was it a real treasure at all?

However, if the key couldn't be seen, then......?

Losing the key to her heart.

If that figure disappeared, if Layfon disappeared from before here, could the treasure chest continue to hold treasure?

Thinking this, Meishen had no choice......

"I think Layton...... Layfon......"

"Mei......?"

"I like Layfon."

So, she had to open the treasure chest.

From the treasure chest, she released her most important, most cherished treasure.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. Vati here uses manager to refer to Meishen. Note that this is the Japanese thing where they talk directly to someone but address them in the third-person.
  2. See Volume 13 Cadenza Road Itto Part 2.
  3. See Volume 7 Chapter 1.
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