Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume17 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Summer Night's Mistress
In Grendan, someone opened his mouth to begin saying the words 'so hot'.
Though the sunshine wasn't that strong in the first place, it was very humid, because the air that was able to pass through the filter had the unsuitable portions discharged outside the filter. Though the air exchangers extending under the city would discharge moisture and heat, in the humid heat brought by this summer season, it was hard to say if it could perform at one hundred percent efficiency.
In other words, it was very hot and stuffy here.
"Ah~ How hot~"
Even opening the window to let wind flow into the room didn't disperse the humidity in the room. Even though it was clearly night, one would feel that even the wind that brushed by felt sticky, increasing one's perspiration.
......However, the sounds of complaint weren't from someone inside the room.
"......Why would you be here?"
Leerin, who had been concentrating on studying, put down her pen, turning the chair to face backwards.
Over there was Alsheyra's listless figure.
This was Leerin's room in the Eutnohl house. Leerin who had lived in the orphanage was living here alone, studying in the vast room that she didn't know what to do with.
......However, Alsheyra had somehow appeared in the room.
She definitely hadn't notified the family members beforehand. The bitter expression of Minse who was her uncle and householder appeared in Leerin's mind.
But, the queen completely ignored Leerin's thoughts, and did whatever she wanted like usual.
"Hey, why don't you turn on the air conditioning?"
Alsheyra lazily lied on the sofa, fanning her chest while asking.
The remote for the air conditioner was by Leerin's side.
"Because it's a waste that way. The room is so big, how can I turn on the air conditioner just for myself?"
"Leerin's so thrifty. On this side, wouldn't it be nice to live an elegant life like royalty? If the people on top aren't happy, the people underneath can't be happy either."
"It's enough if Your Majesty does that. The Eutnohl family is already poor enough, we don't need to do something like that. Might as well say that Your Majesty should also be thrifty in your personal life."
"Even including air conditioning expenses?"
"Ah, I live in the palace, so it doesn't seem like anyone pays air conditioning fees over there."
The people who worked in the palace numbered many, and the number of people who came to the palace to handle affairs were also many. That was a place that couldn't go without air conditioning.
"......Then, why have you come here?"
Leerin pulled the topic back, asking once again.
"Nn-? Because I'm idle?"
"Ah, no, no. It's that, that. How should I say it? It's that! I'm actually very busy, but for now I have some time, or perhaps I should say I can't tidy up the thoughts in my head. In the end, it's a kind of idle where I want to drink a cup of tea with you."
Her surprised look made Alsheyra flustered, so Leerin sighed, and opened her mouth to press on:
"The reconstruction of the city has largely come to an end, but the problem of the reduced reserves of resources still hasn't been solved."
"Yes, yes, yes- I know-"
"......Ah, but if the city doesn't return to a mine, we won't be able to gather other resources."
"Right right, it's all Grendan's fault, who asked it not to go to the mine, huh. If that guy went over to the mine nicely, my toiling could be cut in half, you know!"
"Even if you complain about that to me, I also can't do anything...... Moreover isn't Grendan Your Majesty's Haikizoku?"
The topic had just come to this, so Leerin voiced the question that she had had doubts about before.
"Nn...... honestly, it is my Haikizoku, but originally this city belonged to Saya, and it seems like it was sheltered by Saya after it had lost its way, and entrusted to her the functions of the city."
Saya was the entity that had created this world, and was the prototype of the autonomous cities. Strictly speaking, she was not an Electronic Fairy. The autonomous cities had been born into the world according to this prototype, and the Electronic Fairies were the beings produced in order to regulate them.
"So it's not the same as the Zuellni girl from before, it's not firmly attached to my body."
The Zuellni girl from before meant Nina.
Though this way of expression had some problems, Leerin understood Alsheyra's meaning.
"If Grendan's original role has been given to Saya to control, then why would he help Your Majesty?"
"You call it help, but maybe if the kind of thing from last time hadn't happened, I wouldn't even need it. Wanna see it, my Kei power is very strong, even a Heaven's Blade would be endangered."
"Heaven's Blades can't completely bear your strength?"
"Nn~ I never tried seriously, but I think it probably couldn't. So when I use my whole power, I usually use up Dites like consumables, but Heaven's Blades can't be discarded, right?"
"Nn, that's true."
"So I asked Grendan to make an imitation Heaven's Blade, perhaps something similar to a Heaven's Blade, so that I could use it."
"I see, that's what it was."
The appearance of Alsheyra back then casting from her hands the spear that Grendan had made really left a deep impression.
"What, what? Are you interested in me?"
After the sound of knocking and Leerin replying, Eldein's face peeked into the room.
"Your Highness, we've come to supply you with tea......"
Speaking up to there, Eldein suddenly stopped speaking. After seeing Alsheyra in the room, his whole face stiffened.
"......Hm, I didn't scare him away, I guess that's progress, right?"
Alsheyra spoke mischievously. A similar situation had happened before, and back then Eldein had been very surprised, even dropping the things in his hands everywhere.
"Your...... Your Majesty......"
"Though, speaking of you, you're supposed to be a bodyguard, but now you've already become Leerin's servant."
"Uh...... I haven't thought of that."
Eldein who looked a bit weak in the first place showed a worried expression, looking to have no trace of being a Military Artist.
"......Hm? Since that's the case, why don't you just serve as Leerin's personal attendant altogether?"
"Your Majesty, that's very discourteous."
Eldein's extremely surprised expression made Leerin open her mouth to correct the Queen.
"Really? Being a personal attendant isn't bad."
"That's not the important point......"
The queen hadn't moved, but also hadn't moved her gaze from Eldein. She once again asked:
"What do you think?"
"Do you want to try being Leerin's attendant? Or do you not?"
"Eldein, even if she's Her Majesty, you don't need to be polite."
"Why? Isn't that good? Working to guard the princess, doesn't that get your blood boiling?"
"What are you saying?"
"Ah, I...... No, I don't mind being an attendant of Your Highness. Please allow me to take this job!"
Eldein stood up straight and said this, surprising Leerin, while Alsheyra showed a cunning smile.
"See, that's what he decided."
As Eldein seemed to have been fooled by the Queen, Leerin could only feel a headache.
"What are you noisy about?"
Just then, Minse walked in.
"............Even if we're relatives, running into someone else's house whenever you feel like it isn't very commendable."
Facing Alsheyra who had raised her hand in greeting without remorse, a bitter expression appeared on Minse's face.
"Aha, isn't it good this way? Now you know about another security vulnerability."
"......Meaning that the vulnerability you can exploit, other people can also exploit?"
"I can think of about ten or so names, I guess?"
"If they think of rebellion, that means that Your Majesty is too little-known, it has nothing to do with Leerin."
"Hmph! Minse is being mean!"
"The situation has been the Queen bullying her subordinates."
Leerin unconsciously paid attention to Minse's reply, thinking in her heart that she had learned something new.
However, regardless of what Minse said, in the end everyone still were being led by the nose by Alsheyra, and the room became a clamorous mess, and the time flowed by noisily.
Up until the Eutnohl head maid, wearing her sleeping clothes, angrily charged in shouting, "It's time to sleep!", this commotion continued on.
After being shooed away, Alsheyra turned her head to look at the entrance of the Eutnohl house.
The door that had been closed by the impatient maid looked as if it were still vibrating. Alsheyra showed a wry smile, her gaze moving along the surrounding wall, and then along the entire mansion.
She was searching for a presence.
She confirmed the building, courtyard, and the surrounding walls...... there were no unfamiliar presences, and Alsheyra let out a sigh.
Lintence should be somewhere. Though she couldn't immediately read his presence, the presences of his steel threads were spread all over.
"Oho, not bad......"
Not being able to instantly find someone's presence made Alsheyra show a happy expression. It wasn't too much to say Lintence was the strongest Heaven's Blade, but even he couldn't oppose Alsheyra.
When they had first met, before the two of them had been able to begin a great battle suitable to their strong powers, Alsheyra's fist had struck the bridge of Lintence's nose, almost shattering his body and mind and ending everything.
The two people had such a difference in power between them. But, this difference of power had gradually narrowed over the years.
"By now, we should be able to play for a while, huh?"
Perhaps, might she lose?
Even if currently, Alsheyra still had a landslide victory in terms of brute force. However, if her attack were evaded once, it would be hard to say what the battle would become.
This possibility made Alsheyra somewhat happy. From her birth, Alsheyra had never once lost in battle. Because her strength was far too great, her opportunities to enter the battlefields had been almost zero, and she had lived like that up to now.
She knew many Military Artists who were addicted to combat, but completely couldn't understand their pleasure. Because she had only experienced battles that she couldn't possibly lose. Moments of life and death were impossible for Alsheyra.
"Ahh, but there was some good fun before."
That creature seemed to have been called Durindana.
Durindana had killed Tigris and Delbone, and destroyed the city where she had grown up. Though Alsheyra couldn't forgive it, from another perspective, that battle allowed her to raise her strength to its limits, and had also given her an excited feeling she had never had before.
Alsheyra wanted to once again experience that kind of battle. To Alsheyra who didn't experience any kind of stimulation during battle, and for whom it was too late to escape from the burden of fate on her back, the battle with Durindana was her first stimulating battle.
If her opponent became Lintence, could she experience that kind of feeling?
She wanted to try it out.
But, she feared it was a battle that couldn't be carried out.
Because of the coming battle, the more fighting power they had, the better.
"It would be good if it's a war of that level."
The emotions of Alsheyra as she anticipated the next battleground overcame the desire to fight with Lintence.
At the least, it wouldn't be weaker than Durindana, right?
But, regardless of how strong the enemy was, as long as her own strength became stronger, the outcome would be the same as before. Then, she had to do this.
Leerin's existence was like that.
If Alsheyra's body was the reappearance of the bodies of her Military Artist ancestors, then Leerin was the continuation of the ancestors who had first possessed a different special power.
If the opponent was a huge enemy related to the creation of the world, then this side also had to obtain this kind of strength that could oppose that enemy.
"It's that easy."
Alsheyra had been born for this objective, so she could only do this. In the first place, she couldn't say that she didn't want to do it, and she was helpless even if she did say it. Moreover, she also knew that if she didn't do it, no one else could.
To put it simply, this was the biggest reason that she didn't feel that she was carrying a heavy burden.
"Ah...... that's how it is."
Alsheyra casually walked on the road back home, while unconsciously thinking about that situation. But, she suddenly observed something.
"Damn, shouldn't this actually be a big discovery?"
As her body gradually accepted this fact, Alsheyra's mood became more and more excited.
By now, she was no longer calm.
She immediately took action.
Once she returned there was work waiting for her, so she walked slowly on the road. However, that appearance wasn't depressed. Alsheyra moved at a speed faster than the wind, running to the origin of the presence that she had detected in a moment.
"......What are you doing?"
Alsheyra appeared suddenly, but Lintence who was lying on the roof didn't show a trace of surprise.
"I noticed something amazing!"
Lintence completely ignored the Queen's excited voice, moody as usual.
But, the Queen wouldn't care about that.
"It's really incredible!"
"I'm asking you what it is."
Lintence was still lying down, not at all a posture for listening to others, so Alsheyra grabbed the clothes covering his chest, unconsciously making him stand. Though Lintence's expression was displeased, he didn't oppose being moved by her.
"Wasn't I born in order to oppose this fate?"
"In order for the body of the Military Arts ancestor to reappear, the people in the first city endlessly merged the blood of strong Military Artists. They removed impurities, filtering things out and resulting in the being that is me, so I'm obviously a strong Military Artist. But I'm so strong that I can't enter battle. Once I get serious, I'll end up destroying the city before killing the filth monsters, how miserable."
The meaning Alsheyra wanted to express wasn't communicated to the other party, and Lintence only distorted his face in a surprised expression.
"However, in the battlefield before, I realized I can be useful for the upcoming situation. As long as I use the right method, I can fight in a situation where I won't destroy the city, and I know what I can do."
"You understand? I have been created for one purpose. I'm not dissatisfied with that, and I also believe that's how the world works. Even if I'm only one Military Artist, I have to fight with filth monsters, because that's the extent of the burden I carry. So, I don't have any problem with my life being the final weapon."
"I understand...... then, what exactly do you want to say?"
"You still don't understand?"
"Who would, isn't it just something you're thinking inside your heart?"
"Hmm? Ah, yeah, that's right. Then I'll tell you, do you want to hear?"
"If I said I didn't, this conversation couldn't continue, right?"
"Then, what if I said..............................I won't tell you?"
"Enough, just say it."
Seeing Lintence's impatient attitude, Alsheyra was quite satisfied.
So, she decided to tell it to him without further ado.
"Once this battlefield ends, I will have lost the meaning of my life."
"What do you mean?"
"Isn't that how things are? Because I was born for a single purpose, which was to fight on that battlefield. If the fight ends, then I'll no longer be useful. How surprising, is the truth really that surprising?"
"......Are you seriously saying that?"
"Huh? What, could it be that you already knew? What a liar, Lin's brain can't be that good, right?"
Alsheyra was truly surprised.
She had lived to now for that battlefield. In order to reach her goal, she grew up without hesitation, fighting to be able to extend her life. The feeling of her great strength, already enough to be eligible for a Heaven's Blade, gradually increasing made her feel the moment coming.
Though she still was anxious about having not completely reproduced the ancestors' body, in terms of fighting power, her strength was already full to a degree where she couldn't hope for it to increase further.
However, before the fight with Durindana, Leerin had appeared. Leerin only had the body of a normal person, but was still involved in this fate. This was not only sad, but also made Alsheyra feel partially angry. However, Alsheyra also felt excited that the moment where she could finally exert all of her ability was gradually approaching.
At the same time, she felt lonely.
She had never understood the meaning of this loneliness.
"I had thought that I would even become tense, but I never would have thought there would be nothing of the sort. I feel lonely because of my task being finished. I wouldn't have thought that I would be a bit reluctant to carry out my mission. Don't you think that's very surprising?"
"Were you scared?"
"Of course not!"
Her having this kind of emotion was far too funny, and Alsheyra almost laughed herself to death.
She didn't laugh because she was sorrowful or ashamed, only because she single-mindedly thought that this was ridiculous enough to laugh at. She wasn't able to calmly step back and analyze her current emotions.
"The person who has alll~ways been on top posing will come down, and then things will end. Once I think that after things end I won't have to use Military Arts, I inexplicably feel happy or mirthful, and my emotions also become excited. Ahh, I don't know what I should do."
Alsheyra thought that Lintence would feel surprised at her endless laughter, but never thought that he would put away his surprised expression and look at her seriously.
"......What is it?"
Though her body itched after her laughter ended, Alsheyra opened her mouth to ask that because of Lintence's response.
"Do you hate not being able to do anything that much?"
"Nn- how should I describe it? I'm not too sure."
"I didn't know your feelings would come to such a conclusion about the result, but answer something for me."
"What is it?"
"If both of us survive, fight with me."
"Ah- that might not be bad, okay."
"The loser has to listen to the winner, how about we add that rule?"
"Of course! Though, to think that you would say such a thing."
"Then it's decided."
"Hmmm? Then before then, I should properly think about what kind of punishment game I should make you do."
Alsheyra felt that Lintence had used this method to interrupt her topic, but she had just recently thought of fighting with Lintence, so she openly received this proposal.
"It won't end in an instant this time?"
The two smiled at each other. Alsheyra's heart was floating. She didn't think she would lose, but she wondered about what thoughts were in Lintence's mind.
The strange loneliness that she had just felt had been dispersed.
"......So, why are you looking for me, Kanaris?"
Her mood was obviously this good, but a presence bringing an annoying premonition stood behind her.
"I should warn you beforehand, don't meddle in the problem this time, okay?"
Kanaris had the blood of the Three Royal Families, and the royal guards were also composed of members of the Rivanes family that was close to the royal families.
Kanaris replied this way, but her face had a bitter expression.
After announcing Leerin's royal inheritance, the hostility of the outside relatives of the Three Royal Families began to focus. At the time, Alsheyra had first advised Kanaris as well as the three uninvolved Heaven's Blade successors that she had asked to act as Leerin's guards, telling them not to meddle in things.
"This is my family matter. I remember that I said before, though I have put you by my side, I don't know if I can trust you completely. If you become my enemies, even I might not be able to forgive you, right?"
Before mentioning other Heaven's Blades, Kanaris' loyalty to the throne was undoubtable. However, if a blood relative or brother became involved in this problem, it was unknown how the situation would play out.
If it were someone like Minse who attempted to assassinate Alsheyra , she could laugh it off, but if it were a conspiracy against Leerin, that was another matter.
Kanaris lowered her head, unable to bear Alsheyra's gaze.
"I'm very sorry, but Your Majesty......"
"......What is it?"
Kanaris' attitude made her worry.
"What did you do?"
The one who said this was Lintence.
"The contact with the steel threads extending to the mansion has disappeared."
"They weren't cut, they disappeared. What did you do, Kanaris?"
Kanaris stayed quiet.
Lintence said that the steel threads hadn't been cut. In other words, the steel threads extending to the mansion couldn't relay any information.
"Lintence's steel threads lost their function?"
Were there Military Artists who could do such a thing? If it were some special power that didn't have any direct relationship with fighting power, then it could have passed under Alsheyra's spies.
However, was that really the truth?
If it were like that, how could Alsheyra explain what she felt?
Alsheyra obviously focused her consciousness on the Eutnohl residence, but hadn't caught the presence of anyone, why was that?
Not only the guards, she couldn't even feel the presences of Leerin and the others.
No, it wasn't only that.
She couldn't even sense any presences from the nearby area either.
Facing Alsheyra's questioning, Kanaris remained silent. She calmed her breathing, enduring the pressure that Alsheyra gave off, while maintaining her silence.
No, that wasn't right.
"Normal Military Artists can't do something like this. Kanaris, what's going on?"
She had to quickly go to the residence - that was what her mind thought. The current time wasn't one for talking with Kanaris, she had to immediately go to that place to confirm whether Leerin was safe......
Alsheyra obviously thought this way, but her feet didn't move.
Lintence who stood nearby was the same.
"Please forgive me, I could do nothing, no one could resist it."
Kanaris endured Alsheyra and Lintence's gazes, while saying this with a pained voice. The attitude that she expressed showed that the situation hadn't been her own actions.
Alsheyra felt sticky sweat from her entire body, moving her gaze from Kanaris who was blankly standing still, loudly shouting out Leerin's name.
The room seemed to have settled down, and Leerin let out a breath.
Leerin understood the Queen's reasons for worrying, as she would periodically come to visit her, but the way she did so really had problems. Sneaking into the room while concealing it from others wasn't okay.
"......Before when I wanted to sleep, I would notice her already lying on the bed."
Leerin muttered while tidying up the things on the table. Right now it was already past the time for studying, and she also didn't have the mood for it. Tomorrow she would have to attend class, so it was about time to sleep.
That voice made Leerin turn her head, and standing in front of her was Eldein, who didn't know what to do.
"It's already very late, why don't you go sleep."
"Ah, yes. I understand."
Minse had already returned to his room, and only Leerin and Eldein were left in the room. Eldein had originally started working as a guard monitoring the room from outside, but when he had become closer to Leerin, he had started working as Leerin's bodyguard like now.
"Then, I'll be in the next room on standby as usual."
"Sorry to bother...... Ah, right."
Just as Leerin was seeing Eldein out of the room, she thought of something.
"Is there something?"
"The stuff back then, was only because Her Majesty likes teasing people, you don't need to be too serious about it."
"Ah, the attendant thing......"
Leerin nodded her head.
"Though there are truly Military Artists charged with protecting the palace, they're almost all from the Rivanes family...... Though it's not too good to speak this way, I don't think it's an easy position, so you don't need to take the initiative to work in that kind of place."
Eldein was a Military Artist that Minse had picked to act as Leerin's guard, and though he normally looked a bit dull, he was definitely a strong Military Artist.
Leerin thought that way, but......
Eldein who had stayed silent listening to Leerin speak, interrupted with an extremely troubled expression:
"Am I a cause for worry staying by Your Highness' side?"
The unexpected question made Leerin look at Eldein in surprise.
"......Ah! No, I wouldn't feel very annoyed or anything like that, but......"
"If I won't make Your Highness worry by staying, would you please allow me to serve as your attendant."
Even if he were a normal Military Artists, she knew it would be an easy job.
Leerin who had grown up as a normal citizen knew that when the citizens on the streets criticized the palace, they always would first bare their blades at the Military Artists guarding the palace.
They were the useless weaklings that protected the strongest Queen, who wouldn't ever receive injury.
"I know what everyone calls the palace guards."
"But, to protect Your Highness, with only that reason, it doesn't matter whether it's a palace guard or an attendant, I'll do it!"
The simple eyes that looked downward held Leerin's reflected figure.
She felt pained.
Because she noticed something that she wasn't willing to perceive.
No, she always knew. Though it was only a faint feeling, she understood what Eldein was thinking.
At that time, what exactly did Leerin say? She poked at the fog in her heart, preparing to weave her words.
However, the sentence disappeared ambiguously.
She understood the atmosphere wasn't the same.
Leerin's change made Eldein show a surprised expression.
The change in the room was clearly obvious, but Eldein totally didn't feel it. Then, did that mean this wasn't caused by a Military Artist?
The right eye under her blindfold began to hurt.
"Your Highness, what's wrong?"
The atmosphere was very quiet. But, something was happening.
Moreover, this something began with a form that Eldein also understood.
An explosion suddenly sounded from the other side of the window.
Eldein pulled out his Dite and assumed a stance. The light from the Dite restoration would leave the window through the gap, and in order to not let their enemy know their position, Eldein didn't immediately restore his Dite.
"It can't be, but it's unexpectedly so bright......"
The sounds of battle still continued. Eldein took a tablet-like object from his pocket, a Psychokinesis flake.
However, regardless of how Eldein stared at it, the flake didn't shine with the light of Psychokinesis received from its Psychokinesist.
"Communication has been cut."
After informing her of this, Eldein went near the windows to confirm the situation outside. Though the sounds of battle still continued, every time a noise rang out, the entire room would shake slightly, making them feel that the situation was gradually worsening.
Eldein seemed to have the same feeling.
"Your Highness, please wait here, I will go confirm an evacuation route."
The other Military Artist guards hadn't come by. The sounds of battle drew closer step by step with an unhurried speed, as if knowing that this side would be in a panic and ridiculing that.
"......Don't worry, I will definitely protect Your Highness."
The restless Eldein prepared to move. Leerin tried to stop him, but he didn't stop his pace.
He left as Leerin called out, rushing out of the room.
The figure that had disappeared from her vision left its afterimage in her left eye...... That kind of feeling wouldn't disappear. Moreover this afterimage refused to disappear as if it were a premonition.
"Why would you say that kind of thing?"
Her voice trembled.
Leerin had indeed accepted Eldein. Though she hadn't accepted him as a man, she still felt that she was very comfortable with him. Even if Eldein stayed by her, Leerin wouldn't feel uncomfortable, and could relax herself. Leerin had been crowned as a Eutnohl, and had become a member of the Three Royal Families. He was a temporary haven during this kind of intense change in her life environment.
He was like that, and had said such a thing.
"Isn't it impossible to get wrong that way?"
Leerin couldn't receive Eldein's words the wrong way.
Because, she had once spoken like that on her path.
"......It would be nice if I could have also been that slow."
Those kinds of words wouldn't work.
If they did work, wouldn't the person here not be Eldein, but Layfon instead?
"......What am I saying?"
This wasn't the problem. The outcome Leerin chose was the current situation.
Leerin was the one who didn't need Layfon.
"Eldein has already......"
His words went through her chest, staying there. Leerin obviously wanted to keep her heart from desiring others, and his words were filled with his feelings of giving up, strong enough to make one feel pained.
The feelings mixed inside slowly seeped into her heart.
The warm feelings of his attempt to give up felt tender, making her feel sad.
"Being so leisurely, is that because you aren't yet aware of things?"
The voice that suddenly entered her ears made Leerin turn her head.
But, there was no one behind her.
"Was I too sensitive?"
There were no presences of anyone here.
The sounds of battle had become quieter. Had the battle ended, or was it entering a stalemate?
If it had already ended, which side had won?
"Are the people in the building okay?"
Just as she murmured this......
The door flew open, and the walls were destroyed.
A deep and intense sound rang out as the walls and things in the room scattered.
Afterwards, an extremely large object fell by Leerin's feet.
He fell on the ground, and his surroundings were gradually dyed in a red circle. His right arm was broken, and fresh blood continuously flowed out. His forehead had also been split, and the blood that seeped out of the wound gradually turned his face crimson.
"Get a hold of yourself!"
Leerin took out her handkerchief to wipe the wound on Eldein's forehead, and looked around for something to tie the wound on his right arm.
"Your Highness, please escape......"
Eldein had received a deep wound, but the wound wouldn't cause him to die quickly.
In the end he should be all right. Leerin relaxed her breath. At that moment, a man walked into the room from the big hole in the wall.
That man was probably about forty years old, very tall, with a large build. If thick hair and a wild nature were added on to Minse's body, he would turn into approximately that kind of man.
In other words, this man was very similar to Minse. Having grown to resemble him meant that this man had the blood of a royal family.
"We haven't seen each other since the first time you made a public appearance at the banquet, Your Highness."
The man who stepped into the room with a leisurely pace stared at Leerin with undisguised contempt.
"You are...... Terios?"
Leerin remembered that this name had arisen in a topic before.
"I wouldn't have thought that you unexpectedly remembered me. It's truly an honor, Your Highness."
Though the man's way of speaking was extremely respectful, his attitude towards Leerin was full of contempt.
"Please escape. Terios-sama, he, is a bit strange...... the tight guard, he could unexpectedly single-handedly-" Eldein painfully spoke. Just then, his expression suddenly changed drastically.
After spitting a large amount of blood from his mouth, Eldein lost consciousness, falling to the ground unmoving.
"It seems like his organs suffered damage. If he isn't treated quickly, his life might be in danger."
Eldein had just said he was alone.
"Do you want to kill me?"
Facing Leerin's question, Terios almost unhesitantly nodded his head.
"Her Majesty is the strongest Military Artist in history, and we have become accustomed to her wayward behavior. But, just because we have decided that it doesn't mean she can do whatever she wants."
"......Does it displease you that much that I am a successor to the throne?"
"Did you truly grow up in Grendan?"
The opponent said this with an unexpected expression.
"In this battle-filled city, if the ruler doesn't stand on top of the Military Artists, then what should be done? The ruler must be a Military Artist. Other than those who can become everyone's shield, other than a leader who can stand in front of anyone, who else can lead Grendan?"
Terios said this in respectful words, but with a scornful tone. His purpose for asking this was to let Leerin say the obvious answer.
Terios felt that the obvious answer was the answer useful to him.
However, Leerin didn't think that it was so obvious.
"......If you think like that, does it mean that you want the throne of this city?"
"No, I don't. But, as long as you die, the throne will be given to the one most deserving of it."
"......No, you already want the throne."
After confirming that the unconscious Eldein was breathing, Leerin stood up.
"After acquiring that kind of strength, you begin to be unable to constrain your ambitions."
To be able to single-handedly deal with the guards protecting the mansion, and in such a short time.
Regardless of how strong a Military Artist he was, he couldn't have done this.
As long as he didn't have the power of a Heaven's Blade successor.
"What did you do for this strength?"
"......Ha, haha. You really dare to talk, little girl."
After being criticized by Leerin, Terios laughed.
He dropped his polite facade, in fact an extremely rude mask, showing his unruly true face.
"It's true. If I kill you, the Rivanes elders will push me forwards as the next successor to the throne. Thanks to Claribel leaving home like an idiot, I was able to become the head of the Ronsmier family, and then the next successor to Grendan's throne."
"Is that position so fascinating?"
"Isn't that normal?"
Ahh, it was as expected. Leerin saw Terios' greedy face and understood the entire situation. Minse who was her uncle was that kind of person, and had thought like that once before.
But, if it were like this, it conflicted with the thing Alsheyra and the others worried about.
Such a life-threatening crisis shouldn't have appeared in front of Leerin.
So, she feared the situation was like this.
Terios, and other people related to the royal family, knew nothing at all, other than a very small number of people. They didn't know what kind of being Grendan was, and didn't know the function of the Three Royal Families, nor did they know what waited ahead.
So by now, there were still people who would cause unrest with this kind of greedy expression.
Then, someone had utilized this.
"Who gave you that power?"
"What are you saying? This power is one I gained myself."
"What? What are you looking at?"
Terios showed a doubtful expression as if he knew nothing.
"......You didn't see Her Majesty and Lintence here, did you?"
"Are you bluffing? Even if you're a successor to the throne, you couldn't have Heaven's Blades acting as your guards. More importantly, why would Her Majesty visit here?"
He hadn't noticed.
"You should withdraw, you're being used. If you stay your hand early, I can still act as if this commotion didn't happen."
"......What is this, a plea for mercy?"
"Perhaps you really have this kind of ambition. But, this situation is the outcome of you being used by someone. I think it's best if you calm down and leave."
"You're only a normal person, and you can do nothing in this situation. But, I really can't stand your attitude. Is this the attitude of someone who was named as the successor to the throne?"
It seemed that Leerin's manner of response had only made Terios feel displeased.
"Enough...... go die."
Terios raised a hand. Light gathered at his fingertip, and killing intent congregated in front of Leerin's forehead.
"If you want to hate something, hate the fate that Her Majesty gave you."
Apparently this was Terios' style of giving comforting words to those who would die.
The Kei that had gathered at his fingertip shot out.
Terios was completely convinced, and had no doubts.
Leerin's skull would shatter, becoming a miserable corpse.
This would serve as a warning to the Queen, and would let her understand the significance of Grendan's throne.
The throne was to be given to a Military Artist. He had to correct Alsheyra's folly of trying to let a normal person sit on the throne, and show the correct way to the people.
The one who would show this was himself.
The next King would be himself.
"......Do you think you can live longer than I or Her Majesty?"
The sight of a man who was intoxicated with his reasons was disgusting. Leerin thought this in her heart while shattering the other party's fantasy.
The Kei that Terios shot out burst without even a sound before Leerin's eyes.
Terios was very surprised.
Leerin who he thought was only a normal person had unexpectedly blocked the Kei burst, so he obviously would be surprised.
"What did you do!?"
Terios shouted while backing away quickly. He passed through the big hole that he had broken, arriving in the corridor. Though he felt that the person standing in front of him was a normal person, he still immediately took action to respond to this inexplicable situation.
"I remember that Eldein praised you. You should be a good Military Artist, as he said."
Was it Leerin becoming a successor to the throne that had made Terios feel angry, and then perceive his own ambitions?
"You... aren't a normal person?"
"......No, I'm only a normal person, nothing more."
"I won't be tricked by you again. ......Ah, Alsheyra. By now, is she planning to net the dangerous elements within the royal families?"
"......What are you saying?"
"No, I understand. You aren't Herder's illegitimate child, but a fake that Alsheyra prepared. Making the fake the successor to the throne, to uncover the potential opposition to Alsheyra in the royal families, that's her ruse."
Leerin silently shook her head.
This person wasn't living in reality.
He was a person living in his desired dreamscape of seizing the throne. Had he become this way after Leerin became a successor to the Throne, or had he become like this after obtaining that strength? Regardless, the person standing in front of Leerin was living in a dream.
"......No, The one not living in reality is myself."
If he didn't know the truth, then the situation surrounding Leerin and the others should be even further from reality.
But, in Grendan, the situation surrounding Leerin and the others was reality, and Terios' thoughts were but a fantasy.
"Hahahaha. Yes, that's how it is, I've been set up, huh, Alsheyra!"
Terios laughed loudly, howling, Kei spilling from his body.
"I don't have time to fantasize with you."
"No, you must stay, stay till the end!"
Terios restored his Dite. It was a poleaxe with a long handle.
Just raising it up high produced a strong wind raging through the room.
Eldein who was fallen by her feet was gradually pushed away by the wind, but Leerin stood still without moving at all, only her hair being blown by the wind.
"Before this power, even the Queen cannot face me."
"As expected, you're not looking at reality."
Terios closed the distance, sweeping the raised poleaxe horizontally. It was a poleaxe that could easily tear through Leerin's body.
Leerin's left hand moved. Before the high-speed movement that Terios produced, the movement of her hand seemed far too slow.
However, that hand moved as Leerin was just about to be cut in two, and with a shockwave she crushed the top of the poleaxe blade, blocking it.
The shockwave burst out before Leerin's eyes, but Eldein had already been pushed behind her by the wind, and did not suffer the shockwave.
"You're already useless."
Leefin poured strength into her left hand that was suppressing the poleaxe.
With that, everything ended.
Cracks appeared in the poleaxe. The cracks widened in an instant, spreading to the haft of the poleaxe. However, they did not stop there, continuing to break through Terios' arm.
"Kuh, uwah, what is this!"
"You! What's going on, what...... is this?"
"Just returning your move."
Deliberately speaking these words with a cold tone, Leerin added the last push.
Yelling out, Terios was already using all his strength.
After adding a final push, the advancing of the cracks sped up, and in an instant covered Terios' entire body.
Light shone from under the cracks. The flowing Kei that circulated through the poleaxe and Terios' body could be seen from under the cracks.
Light overflowed from Terios' body.
The spilling light covered the entire room, blocking the entire field of vision.
Afterwards, as the light dispersed, the figure of Terios fallen in the corridor appeared. His appearance collapsed on the floor with his right arm bent and broken was similar to that of Eldein, who was fallen beside Leerin.
A strong Kei flow suddenly emanated from the residence.
"! Who is it?"
Though she wanted to get closer to the residence, her feet wouldn't move. She wanted to use her senses, but she couldn't feel anything. Just then, the presence of a strong Kei suddenly came from that place. Alsheyra and Lintence were taken aback, and then felt incomparably surprised.
"......I have no impressions of this Kei."
The Kei was so great that the opponent was on the level of a Heaven's Blade.
But, if it were a Heaven's Blade successor, the two would obviously remember all of their Kei presences, so it had to be someone other than a Heaven's Blade successor. However, the Queen and the Heaven's Blades couldn't not know of such a person.
"What's going on, how unsettling."
It wasn't only this intriguing situation that made him feel unsettled. Rather than a strange sense of a mysterious situation that was completely incomprehensible, the impatience of obviously knowing but being unable to understand was stronger.
Therefore, this situation shouldn't have been caused only by the people in the Rivanes family taking action to assassinate Leerin.
But in that case, they couldn't explain that Kei.
No, perhaps they could explain it.
"Could it be......"
Not only this situation, but also the Kei flow, gave them the impatient feeling of knowing but being unable to understand.
Then, shouldn't Alsheyra be able to recognize this Kei?
"But, how could......"
A speculation floated in her mind. However, Alsheyra couldn't confirm that speculation.
"......Kanaris, what's going on?"
Alsheyra didn't want to look at the answer that had appeared in her mind, so she turned to ask Kanaris.
"I cannot say, I can't......"
Kanaris shook her head bitterly. This kind of response didn't look like it had been produced from her feelings or relations with the Rivanes family.
Alsheyra couldn't miss that.
Therefore, the truth was as Alsheyra had thought.
Lintence's voice interrupted her tense emotions.
"If you thought of something, tell us, I'm also beginning to feel bad about this situation."
"Everyone moving here and there secretly, where do they think the battlefield will be in the end? What do they think their fangs exist for? Isn't it solved if we just completely crush all of the useless bugs crawling around being hindrances?"
"The situation isn't that simple."
Lintence had come to Grendan to look for battles. It would be tough to explain the things that happened here to him.
"Is it to win against fate? Then what? I don't have the slightest interest in the victory they have prepared. A battle that can't be won and a battle destined to be won have completely different meanings."
"That's true, but......"
But, this was a battle they couldn't lose. What was bet on this battlefield was not only the lives of the fighters, nor only the fates of the citizens that the Military Artists always were burdened by on the battlefield.
It was the world, all of the Regios of the world.
All of the people who lived in them.
These lives had all been bet on the upcoming war.
"......Are you someone who would bet your life for a stranger?"
"Saying that is going a bit far. But, I don't care about those strangers, but I want to protect the people living here, so I naturally just...... that's how things are, right?"
She had diverged. Though her heart thought so, Alsheyra didn't pull the topic back.
Because to Lintence, this was a topic that he couldn't help but ask.
"Right. In terms of the results, we're only protecting the world. Queen, what I cannot allow is the people who put the ones who will do these things to one side, and obstinately give these kinds of missions to others, creating these kinds of fates."
Lintence had also perceived something, so he had said something like this.
Was the situation really like that?
If even Lintence had that kind of feeling, then the situation really was like that.
The person who gave off that Kei was only an individual.
That was definitely not the energy given off by an assassin.
"......In the end, we're only people who can't arrive at the end."
Kanaris murmured this. It wasn't meant for anyone in particular, only talking to herself, a lament aimed at her own powerless feeling.
"The power that Military Artists possess isn't that important in the end. Compared to the being that must truly guide, they're just beings that can be replaced anytime. Before that, destructive power is only a strength of that degree. The true importance is hidden within the factor of Military Artists, and then that important person also......"
What was she currently looking at in that residence?
In the room that had returned to calmness, Leerin gazed at her own hand.
She was shaking.
It was after the recent battle. She was bathed in her own killing intent.
Also, her own hand had taken a life.
The oncoming event that she wasn't used to made Leerin's heart grow cold, and struck fear into her heart.
"From this kind of thing, how can I......"
She tightly gripped her shaking hand, squeezing this sentence out word by word. On this road, there were more terrifying things waiting for her, and she definitely couldn't get scared by them.
"Nn - If I could, I would want to see that performance again."
"......Who are you?"
The female voice sounded again. Leerin held back her feelings of wanting to check whether Eldein was safe, looking for the owner of that voice.
But, as expected, there were no human presences to be found in the room.
"I'm an insider."
The voice came from close by, and Leerin looked over there.
Unwittingly, on the table in front of the sofa was a cat.
After meeting Leerin's gaze, the cat tamely meowed.
It was a black cat, with a body of splendid fur and clear blue eyes. His forehead was inlaid with a blue sapphire, looking as if it had three eyes.
In the area surrounding the sapphire grew white fur. Had it received some serious injury?
"......It couldn't be."
Leerin had no recollections of this cat. It wasn't this room's pet, and Leerin had never heard of any people nearby raising this kind of cat.
This cat had appeared here in this juncture, meaning......
"Correct, I am the cat in front of you."
"......You, what are you in the first place?"
The voice wasn't from the cat's mouth, but came from a different place. However, what was making the sound could only be the cat.
"......That is Erumi Rigzario."
A new sound came across.
But, this was a voice that she knew.
The black-clothed maiden lightly walked in from the big hole in the wall.
"Aah, it's been a long time. Is it okay for you not to be sleeping?"
"Since what has befallen this place, I haven't even entered sleep once."
"Ah, that crisis-sensing ability."
The black-clothed maiden and the cat. Leerin looked back and forth between them.
"For the most part, this is a companion."
"Ahahah, you understand, huh."
Saya's introduction made the cat make laughing sounds.
"But, I'm truly your comrade. I have no reason to be your enemy, and more importantly, the amount of time I fought with her is far longer than yours." 
"She is with the moon and I...... also one of the people that Airen picked up from the old world, someone who also developed the Regios."
The first time she had met Saya, she had once told the truth to her.
Leerin thought of it. In the words that Saya had spoken to her, this name had appeared.
"The one who created Subspace...... this world."
Only her voice was definite. The cat was still like a cat, moving from the table to the sofa and curling up into a ball. The situation of the appearance not matching the language would make an onlooker feel dizzy.
"......Also the person who created the problem."
"Saying it like that is okay too."
If that person hadn't created the Subspace machine, the situation wouldn't have turned into this.
"But, if I didn't create it, what would the situation have become? What is for sure is that Leerin Eutnohl or Leerin Marfes wouldn't exist. Moreover this world couldn't exist, and obviously the environment you grew up in wouldn't exist. Do you know of reincarnation? Roughly speaking, the meaning is that your soul endlessly circulates, becoming various different forms. But even so, you can't say for sure that your consciousness would be Leerin. In other words, you wouldn't be yourself."
"It's because I created the Subspace machine that you are here, so it's no use to complain."
"Perhaps that's true, but that's not something you should say!"
It was like a murderer saying, 'Even if I didn't touch him he'd die of old age', Leerin felt that it was very unfair, and couldn't suppress her anger.
"Enough is enough, please."
Leerin took a step towards the cat, and Saya stopped her with this sentence.
Though it was a flat tone without any feeling, it bore enough strength to stop Leerin.
"Even if you can't stop this from happening, you don't have any good reason to expect this person to pay the price that we wish. So, I won't allow you to continue insulting Leerin."
The black-clothed maiden's expression still didn't change, though her words almost oozed tears.
"I know, my mistake."
The almost completely insincere apology made a complicated expression appear on Leerin's face that she couldn't completely calm down.
"......Ah, let's leave it at that. My genuine thoughts and your feelings will be never-intersecting parallel lines however long we speak."
"Then, what is really going on?"
Saya asked this in place of Leerin who didn't want to open her mouth to talk.
"It's a test, did you know?"
The cat was curled up on the sofa, and only the cold emotionless voice resounded in the room.
"With what objective?"
"The performance testing of this child, Airen's eye. This is something even I can't copy. The only way it can be done is to try collecting the pieces of him that were spread around this world."
Leerin held down her eyepatch.
"Airen's enchantment of the moon will be broken sooner or later. We need to face Ignasis and the Nano-Celluloids that will escape from there, and relying only on pure force is almost meaningless. We will need a different kind of power."
Everything Erumi said was what the Three Royal Families of Grendan had done up through now.
"You gave that mission to Grendan?"
"This is the first city that I created, and when I created it, I planned to have it act as the last stronghold. When confronting battle, no one would only make armor and not weapons, right?"
"But, Her Majesty......"
The effort of the Three Royal Families of Grendan had almost bloomed in the form of Alsheyra. But, there should have been another factor added, but in some incidental situation it had arrived in Leerin's body.
The situation should have only been like that.
"Haven't you known it wasn't like that for a while?"
"Do you know what you've done?"
This kind of tone meant that Erumi knew everything. She knew of Leerin's life so far, and knew of things that Leerin hadn't observed at the time.
"In the battle with Durindana, what did you do for your adoptive father? When you were just a baby, what did you do for the unrelated orphan next to you?"
Erumi's words made Leerin block her ears and yell out.
A thorn inside her adoptive father's body had grown into bramble spreading throughout him, and in the end had become Kei strength.
She had given Layfon strength like this before. She hadn't deliberately done so. But, for an immature child to escape a predicament, she had given the strength of a protector to the person next to her.
Leerin could bestow this power upon them.
This kind of ability had no reason to be unusable on herself.
That was the true nature of the battle just now.
Erumi wasn't willing to look at Leerin's wailing. No, she had seen, yet didn't have the slightest sympathy.
She didn't stop speaking.
"Never mind your tragedy for now. The situation just now can confirm that the power of the moon has appeared in your body."
The pain in her heart made her want to roll on the ground. Erumi's words were that cruel, completely ignoring the other party's feelings.
Saya quietly drew closer to Leerin.
But, her eyes looked at the black cat on the sofa.
"What happened to your heart?"
"That, it's already broken, or perhaps it didn't exist in the first place...... maybe it had already been lost back then? Maybe that's closer to the truth."
Quietly replying to Saya's question, the cat continued speaking:
"Your ability has already been confirmed. Then, everything is ready for my final battle plan."
The cat suddenly raised its face and stood up. It seemed as if it had noticed something in the vicinity, but didn't leave the sofa.
The cat's actions and Erumi's words weren't associated, as expected.
"......Though actually it should already be too late."
The sudden words felt somehow unbelievable.
"You've also seen it, right? That's why you're awake."
Those words weren't directed towards herself. Leerin looked at Saya.
"Nn, it was mixed with Durindana, and succeeded in entering this world."
Saya also nodded her head.
"Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn. She was created even earlier than Durindana, the prototype of the Nano-Celluloids, and their ultimate ancestor."
She hadn't thought that it would unexpectedly have already arrived.
"How can we......"
Leerin had finally made clear, with difficulty, what kind of strength she had. However, with her recent shaking and thinking of the battle with Durindana, she truly wasn't confident that she could completely do what she had to in such an intense battle.
"Don't worry, we shouldn't have problems for the time being."
Leerin had lost the color in her face, but Erumi's following words surprised her again.
"......What does that mean?"
"I also wish to know."
"Ah? Saya doesn't know either?"
"Because I don't have that kind of function."
"Yes, that's true. Then I'll show the image."
Erumi had just spoken, when......
A black mist suddenly appeared in the center of the room.
Just as Leerin wondered about it, the black mist gave off light, solidifying into an image.
What was reflected there was a moving city seen in the wilderness. The sun rose from the other end of the image as the darkness was erased from the sky. The city was taking steps, moving through this background.
Grendan should currently have just entered nighttime.
However, the city in the scene was already early in the morning.
"Though there's a slight delay, this image is in real time."
"If I said the world was round, you wouldn't trust me, right? Just listen."
Erumi's words made Leerin displeased, but the city interested her more, so she carefully examined the city.
Leerin had once sat on a roaming bus and seen the exteriors of many cities, so she knew that even just from looking at the outside, every city had its own characteristics.
"Huh? No way."
She trusted her memories.
Her feeling when she first saw this scene was far too strong, and even if the angle was different, she could recognize this city at first glance.
More importantly, the tower raised high in the center with a clock affixed on top of it was hard to mistake.
"How...... it's Zuellni."
"Correct. The Academy City Zuellni, Lævateinn's location."
Leerin involuntarily yelled:
"Layfon, he...... is there...... why, why......"
Why was it like this?
"In order to keep him from being involved... I thought this would let him stay outside of things, so I......"
Only because she had thought like this had she pushed Layfon away.
"It came to this because he's very strong, so it's all my fault. So, I don't want him to fight again, I don't want him to be hurt......"
It was only because she thought this way that she had pushed Layfon away.
"But, why is this! Why!"
"Please keep calm, it's unseemly."
"Don't tell me what to do!"
"Don’t worry, she hasn't gone there to destroy."
Erumi's words made Leerin suddenly calm down.
"Look at this."
After Erumi said this, the image changed to a different scene. The scene slowly closed in to the city, slowly focusing from a district, to a building, and then to a single room.
"This is Lævateinn."
Next, the image showed the figure of a single girl.
She was about the same age as Leerin. Though her expression was a bit flat, she was quite a beautiful girl.
Perhaps she was preparing to leave in the morning, as the girl who seemed to have just changed into her uniform hung a bag over her shoulder and walked towards the entrance.
"No way, she......"
Because Durindana from before was obviously a gigantic creature.
"To her, form doesn't have much meaning in the first place. In order to control the half-crazed Nano-Celluloids in the Zero Territory on the other side, they all take such giant forms. But humans definitely can't take that kind of form. That's the situation."
Erumi continued explaining:
"Though it's only a hypothesis, I think that Lævateinn could be growing stronger there. If she can integrate with all of the Nano-Celluloids in a scattered state that are produced, she might have already gathered all of the information in the world."
It was hard to believe.
Regardless of if this girl and Durindana were similar beings.
But Erumi said she had already gathered all of the information in the world.
It was something hard to believe, like a joke.
However, the truth wasn't a joke.
In the image, the girl who walked towards the entrance stopped her feet. She didn't seem like she had forgotten to bring something. Leerin thought that the girl was only suddenly stopping, but she simply stayed stationary without moving. That kind of situation couldn't happen during the tight morning time.
Then, the girl abruptly turned her head.
She didn't turn to behind her.
She turned to Leerin who was watching the image.
"She shouldn't be able to see the image here, because I'm using Nano-Celluloids like her."
She was looking over here.
If the girl hadn't noticed the gazes from here, then she would have been looking near the edge of the room's wall and ceiling.
In the time-tight morning, what reason did she have to look there?
Leerin couldn't think of one.
The girl moved.
The abnormal situation of the expressionless girl meeting her eyes through the image made Leerin freeze in place.
......However, the girl's action freed her from doubt.
If the girl had simply returned her gaze to the entrance and left for school, perhaps Leerin would have thought the situation just now was only her overthinking. However......
The girl gazed at Leerin, and moved her mouth.
The image didn't convey sound.
But, her mouth movements weren't fast, and the sentence was very short, so the meaning the girl wanted to express couldn't be mistaken.
Don't get in the way.
The girl, Lævateinn, said this.
This sentence was said to Leerin through the image, and she feared that the girl also knew Saya and Erumi were there.
The cat made noise. Though it was only a sigh, a glimpse of fatigue could be sensed from the seriousness it held.
"I barely managed to block her from destroying our Nano-Celluloids."
"As expected, did she deliberately not come here?"
"It seems like it. Ah, I probably could have guessed."
Saya and Erumi spoke, and Leerin could only stand to the side blankly staring at the broken image.
Even the black mist that had showed the scene had already disappeared, and only the presence of the brutally ravaged room was left behind.
But, that image had indeed just been shown.
She was in Zuellni with the form of a girl.
Not only this. The reason why Lævateinn was in Zuellni was the one question, but why would she take the form of a normal person to live the life of a student?
"Why? Weren't the goals of those people to destroy the world?"
To the Nano-Celluloids like Lævateinn, and to Ignasis, the master of the Nano-Celluloids, this world was a giant cage imprisoning them.
In order to obtain true freedom, they had to destroy the moon and prison that Airen had created at the cost of his own life, and destroy the gate that was this world.
By now, it seemed like the moon was about to be destroyed. Durindana had appeared, Lævateinn had also come to this world, and only Ignasis was left to escape the prison.
The enemy's power that was to be feared the most was Lævateinn.
"......Is that the situation?"
Erumi confirmed Leerin's words.
"We don't need to include Ignasis in the enemies' power. Though it would be troublesome to fight him in Zero Territory, as long as the battle's on this side, and we keep Lævateinn from destroying this world, we have no reason to fear him. We only need to think about how to defeat Lævateinn."
"......Therefore, why would Lævateinn......"
Erumi interrupted Leerin's words.
She was being evasive, Leerin felt. Erumi had just deliberately dodged Leerin's words.
Leerin had evidence for her thinking.
"......I remember you just said 'I probably could have guessed'."
Had Erumi thought that Leerin wasn't paying attention and hadn't heard that?
However, Leerin hadn't missed it.
"I wouldn't have thought you were so competent. If possible, I feel that it would be a bit better for you not to know this, hm?"
"I don't want you to decide that kind of thing for me."
Leerin didn't want Erumi to decide anything for her again. Being fated to confront this being that she couldn't rely on her own strength for had brazenly distorted her life.
Moreover, Erumi was the culprit of this fate.
Leerin glared at the black cat with the mood that 'if you don't tell me, I'll kill you and screw everything up'.
"Alright, not bad."
Erumi said simply.
"It's not that I didn't say it to conceal it from you, only that I feel that knowing this will make you unable to fight well."
"Don't let that bother you."
"Oh, then I'll tell you."
Then, black mist once again appeared in the center of the room, and a white light appeared, a scene appearing as well.
There was a female in the image.
She greatly resembled Lævateinn.
However, her age was different. Compared to the girl from before, the person currently shown in the image was older.
A mature woman.
Other than this, there was something else that also differed.
Though the scene that was shown was a picture or a still image, it could be seen that this woman was different from the girl before, as her face had a rich expression.
"Her name is Janice Courtbach. The reason Airen became like he did was because he joined the Severed Space Investigation Plan. This woman was a volunteer with him at the time."
Her name wasn't Lævateinn?
"Janice appears to have been different from Airen who had lost his sister, given up, and no longer wanted to live. With an overly adventure-driven heart, she voluntarily joined the mission, jumping into Zero Territory, and then went missing."
Whether she hadn't noticed Leerin's doubts, or noticed but deliberately ignored them, Erumi continued speaking, while Leerin silently listened to the explanation that followed.
"Well, for the same mission, Airen and Janice went through the same training curriculum. But, in order for them to adapt to the environment of Zero Territory, there was a man who carried out body enhancement on them. His name was Soho."
The image showed another still picture. A picture taken together with Janice showed a puny, weak-looking man.
"He was an excellent scientist. After the plan suffered a setback, he returned to his lab, and completed the Nano-Celluloids that I had theorized and later thrown to the side."
"You came up with the Nano-Celluloids......?"
A dangerous term like body enhancement made Leerin frown, but it made her even more curious.
"Didn't I say I only theorized it? I only thought of such a theory in order to convert Aurora particles, also the so-called pollutants, into energy. Nano-Celluloids are completely based off this theory, and they became military weapons...... In the end, Soho was an excellent engineer, and he had developed a favorable impression of the woman Janice whom he had met during the Severed Space Investigation Plan."
Favorable impression. Leerin hadn't thought that such a word would come out of Erumi's mouth.
"But, like I just said, Janice Courtbach disappeared in Zero Territory, and her feelings died. Regretfully, she wasn't the kind of person who could easily handle her feelings. If she couldn't get something, she would do it herself. She was like that, so she was the same as me."
"'Do it herself' means...... huh?"
Leerin felt puzzled for a moment. Leerin could understand the kind of feelings of sorrow at thinking that the person she loved could have already died. But, she couldn't understand that in that case, she would 'do it herself'.
"That's not right."
"Is it strange to fill the wound in order to forget the sorrow of loss? It's like using new love to forget the old. If the wound formed isn't filled, it will bleed forever. In order to avoid bleeding to death, the wound has to be filled with something."
"If you think her behavior wasn't something a normal person should have done, then you're wrong. A normal person couldn't do this kind of thing. So, she......"
The image followed Erumi's words, adding on another still picture.
The picture of this person was very similar to the picture in the beginning, but had a decisive difference. It wasn't a matter of different clothing or expression. Just by looking at the picture, one could clearly realize that the two images gave off different atmospheres.
Leerin couldn't feel anything from this image.
"The first Nano-Celluloid that they created, and their prototype. The ultimate ancestor and governor of the Nano-Celluloids, Nano-Celluloid Interface I Lævateinn, was created."
This picture really was Lævateinn.
She was physically exactly the same as Janice, but they didn't seem like the same person. Because, the feeling given off from her body was like a doll, not the presence of a human being. Moreover, since Lævateinn was something created, since her looks were so much like a human, just because of this, she could be called a genuine doll.
A doll that could move on its own.
"Well, the protagonist of this story has finally debuted. At the time there was a group of people whose bodies were affected by the Aurora particles, though to a lower degree than Airen, and their special characteristics awoke, and were called Abnormals. The Nano-Celluloids were used as weapons to expel the Abnormals, because they had become enemies along with Airen."
"Did Airen and that Janice person know each other?"
If he fought an enemy with the face of an old friend, could he have felt pained?
"Who knows? In either case, he fought till the last, so I think that even if there was a problem, Airen probably overcame it. Right, Saya?"
"Correct, he indeed had his struggles."
Saya nodded agreement.
"But Airen's not important, the important point now is Lævateinn."
Erumi pulled the conversation back on topic.
"The Nano-Celluloids can change Aurora particles into energy, proliferating endlessly. Thinking that Nano-Celluloids couldn't go against the will of their creators, people used them in the Zero Territory. But, an error occurred that they hadn't expected. The biochemical machinery of the Nano-Celluloids unexpectedly developed the ability to think individually, taking actions against their orders."
"I think, therefore I am. Where did we come from, and where are we going? The reasons for existence. Just like humans being troubled by many things, Lævateinn also doubted the reasons for her existence. What she couldn't understand wasn't her original mission as a Nano-Celluloid, but the reason she was such a form."
Possessing a peculiar form didn't make Lævateinn feel superior, that she was a chosen existence. Just by being the first Nano-Celluloid, she was already a special existence.
The important point was, why was she this kind of form, that was the question that Lævateinn cared about.
"Lævateinn obtained the form that the creator loved. But, when she realized that Soho felt despair towards her appearance, it produced a desire to completely reproduce Janice Courtbach to a greater level."
Leerin didn't know and couldn't experience what kind of feelings that man named Soho had. Just by comparing the two pictures, she could see how much the two women differed.
Their shape was the same, but that didn't mean they would become the same person, because their expression, demeanor, and temperament were very important. Moreover, expression and demeanor were created by the feelings the person felt during their life.
Thinking of this, an idea emerged in Leerin's mind.
"It couldn't be that Lævateinn still thinks of......"
"It's very probable."
Was staying in Zuellni to further understand humans?
"Up till now, Lævateinn hasn't succeeded in reproducing human characteristics. She almost breached the orders to retrieve Janice who had disappeared in Zero Territory, but the plan failed, and she had also misinterpreted human nature."
"Just like Soho creating Lævateinn, was it enough for external appearance to be the same? Even if it were only a momentary thought, she still made that kind of conclusion, so she listened to Ignasis who had claimed Soho's body, and then everything continued till now."
The man in the picture was Ignasis?
"Perhaps, she was testing whether the conclusion she had made herself was correct, so she listened to Ignasis who lived in Soho's external appearance."
"Even if the form's the same, the inside is still different, right?"
The one who nodded her head in agreement this time wasn't Erumi, but rather Saya.
"But if we say so, Lævateinn is the same. Though our reasons are different, I'm the same kind of being."
Leerin had heard before that Airen had entered Zero Territory to look for his sister, and Saya's external appearance had become exactly the same as hers because she had received his influence.
"The same form doesn't imply the same heart, right? Perhaps that was the desired answer she received after submitting to Ignasis."
Machines trying to become human. However, the way Lævateinn was born was different from humans, so she planned on gaining a human heart with a non-human method.
What kind of being was the so-called human? She endlessly thought, tested, thought, tested......
"But, if it's like that, hasn't the reason for Lævateinn becoming a human already been lost?"
That man called Soho who had created Lævateinn's appearance hoped for the person possessing that appearance to return to his side. However, he himself had disappeared in the process.
Not only this, Lævateinn also served the person who had killed Soho.
Thinking this, Leerin couldn't help from feeling sorrow, almost sympathizing with Lævateinn.
"Even so, she still wants to destroy the world?"
"She will destroy the world."
"Because if she doesn't she has no way to continue advancing."
"Since she was created as a being who cannot be redeemed whatever she does, she can only think of how she can tidy up the residues of her existence. This is her guiding question."
The reason that Lævateinn wished to become Janice was Soho, who was already dead.
"Even so, she still can't give up, that's why she's there. Then, we can only fight with her, right?"
Leerin didn't understand, she could only shake her head.
"Then, what exactly is she doing in that city?"
Leerin and Erumi couldn't respond to that question.
Erumi and Saya suddenly disappeared.
"The test has succeeded. I'm very satisfied even with just this."
As she departed, Erumi said this.
"The fate of this world is in your hands. I leave it to you to decide how to deal with this fate."
"I've prepared the battle well for you. You decide whether you want to fight. In the end, this battlefield has nothing to do with me."
The voice informed her of this with an almost frank tone.
After the cat left the room, Saya also quietly departed.
Leerin felt that the atmosphere in the room had returned to its original state. Erumi had probably done something to this place just now.
Erumi's words were quite serious.
But, Leerin cared about something else compared to that seriousness.
"......In the end, what goal does Lævateinn have?"
A strong presence closed in from the other end of the residence. The Queen would soon arrive, and Minse who was in the building had also begun taking action. Erumi had somehow cut off this space by some means, and when it was restored back, the surrounding presences begun moving at the same time.
As Leerin heard those sounds, she crouched down in place, while examining the injuries of Eldein who was fallen by her feet.
"Fill the hole."
Not retrieving the things lost, but blocking the hole in one's heart with something else.
Was this the right way?
"But...... I'm sorry."
She still didn't have that kind of feeling. Even if that kind of blank space had already buried itself in her heart, she currently wanted to keep it that way.
Eldein was still unconscious. Leerin stroked his forehead, quietly murmuring.
Since she had invaded this world, she had noticed people monitoring her from the darkness. The other party seemed to use the same substances that comprised Vati's body, the Nano-Celluloid-based monitoring system.
However, the other party didn't actively draw close to Vati's body, so she always ignored it. But, today the other party had drawn closer to this side.
Vati used this time’s proximity to try seize the control of the other party, but failed in the end. However, she had succeeded in stopping the other party from continuing to monitor herself from a closer distance.
But, why had the other party chosen this opportunity to approach Vati?
"......Perhaps I should assume the other side had already completed their preparations."
Grendan had taken defensive measures against the Nano-Celluloids, so even if it were Vati, she could only monitor from a distance.
"Erumi Rigzario really still lives, hm?"
She definitely would have come up with some further tactics, making some further preparations for facing Vati.
"But, this has nothing to do with the current situation."
As long as the other party didn't take action, she didn't plan on taking the initiative to do anything.
Vati opened the entrance door and walked out. The old-building smell that the buildings gave off mixed with the clear new morning sky. Vati felt this kind of smell while walking to the shop on the first floor, then piling the products on the electric transport vehicle that had been prepared in advance.
Vati's work was also to send the finished cakes to the partner stores in the morning. To her, finishing her work and then going to school had already become normal activity.
Helping to make cakes after waking up, then returning to her room to tidy herself up and prepare, then going out to send the cakes, and then attending class.
Vati Len's morning was busy enough to be a feast for one's eyes.
"I'm off to send them."
"I'll leave it to you."
Being sent off by Meishen, Vati started the engine of the electric transport, and departed.
Her smile was even weaker than normal.
Vati drove the electric transport while thinking of Meishen's expression just then. She had applied makeup, trying to conceal her red eyes. Even so, her voice was still a bit hoarse, and her movements were more sluggish than normal. In order to complete what she needed to do in the limited time, Vati's movements had to be faster than normal.
This was unavoidable.
You could even say Vati had thought that there was a good possibility that she would have a break from work today.
However, today Meishen had still opened the store.
"By expecting herself to lose, she increased her resistance?"
What was the resistance of the heart after all? Though it was in Vati's vocabulary, she didn't understand what kind of existence it was. But, if she knew before that she would be wounded, even if it were this kind of pain, she should be able to endure it.
Even if Meishen was in this kind of situation it wasn't surprising.
After all, in Vati's eyes, her actions were only the conclusion of her low self-esteem.
"I wouldn't have thought that she would so quickly advance to the next stage. But, since she's already advanced to the next stage, I should observe well her subsequent actions."
What did Meishen plan to face the heartache that she still suffered to today?
When that time came, what would be the answer she would find?
Soon after, the delivery was completed. To Vati who had grasped the entire traffic of Zuellni, finding the most suitable route for delivery was far too easy. She stored the electric transport in a large locker near the school building, then walked to school.
Almost all the people in the entire city would be gathering to school at this time.
Vati walked on the overcrowded road to school, obviously noticing Meishen walking dozens of Mels ahead. Though the gaze of her eyes was blocked by other students and couldn't see Meishen, her senses still could pass through the Nano-Celluloids, so she observed Meishen with her own eyes.
Vati observed Meishen with an appearance that could be extremely aptly described as feeble. Vati kept looking at her walking on the road in a trance, her eyes seeming to have no focus, dangerously pushing forward with the tide of others.
At that time, Meishen's two childhood friends walked over.
"Good morning, Mei-chi."
Mifi and Naruki surrounded Meishen from left and right.
"Ah, good morning."
Meishen who had noticed the two half a second late raised her head.
It was only a bit. But, the expressions of the two definitely changed.
As soon as they saw Meishen's face, the expressions of the two went slightly stiff, and a moment later returned to normal.
"Okay, I remember you don't have to open the shop tomorrow, right?"
"Huh? Uh, nn."
"Right, then tomorrow come live at my place."
"Huh? That suddenly......"
"Aha, because Naruki doesn't clean the house. She said her work is too busy and she doesn't return to the room much, so she drops all the work on me. What do you think?"
"How rude. But, doesn't Mi-chan use the room at a much higher rate than I do?"
"That's true, but whether it's my own room or the kitchen, I still clean it well. Who didn't clean the shower room that was her responsibility and the bathroom that we take turns on?"
"Ugh...... how annoying."
The two of them bickered. Meishen first opened her eyes in surprise, then suddenly laughed.
"Nn, okay. It's enough if I clean?"
"If possible, I also want to taste Meishen's handmade cuisine that I haven't eaten for so long, and a lot of it. Don't worry, Nakki will make sure it all gets eaten."
"Nn, Mi-chan can really eat. It's like she wants to write a diet book, so she tries to see how fat she can get after a day of overeating!"
"What! Well, sometimes it's like that, but sometimes not. Nakki too, you've left the platoon so you don't exercise enough now, right? It's that kind of time! In order to solve the problem of not exercising enough, we have to supplement ourselves with lots of nutrients!"
"Then, you two...... I know, I'll make food for you."
The two pushed each other while wearing smiles, and Meishen bit her lip with a puzzled expression.
"Please make a lot!"
"Nn, I leave it to you."
Though she showed a puzzled expression, the smile mixed into it was already different from before, with a cheerful feeling added to it.
Vati saw this act.
She observed without moving her eyes up till she reached the place she expected.
Translator's Notes and References
- See Volume 13 Post Epilogue.
- The cat is speaking to Leerin.