Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume2 Chapter1

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Chapter 1: Confusion

How've you been?

My school life's busy, but it's more ordinary than yours. After I got one of your letters, a few more reached me a few weeks after. I don't know when you'll receive this letter, but I hope it will reach you faster than yours reached me. I'm happy that you haven't given up the Military Arts. You've finally made a decision after going through a lot of trouble! I'd be embarrassed if you made up your mind because of my letter, but I'm still happy about that. I've made a new friend. It's tiring to be around that interesting person. This must be what they call pros and cons.

The orphanage is still full of noise and life. Father has left the dojo, but he's not teaching the kids at the orphanage; he's gone to teach in a real dojo. It's hard work to manage a dojo in Grendan, but people living nearby have enrolled, so we're making money. We plan to apply for government funding, so don't worry too much about the situation here. We're not getting as much money as we were when you were helping here, but I think we can manage.

So how are you doing over there? Are you sick? Have you been eating well? I'm worried. You never pay much attention to the nutrients in your diet.

It seems you've made a lot of friends. I'm relieved that you're not alone. But......how come they're all girls?

That, I do mind.

Perhaps Layfon is a lecher?

That kinda thing makes me worried. I really should have protested more strongly about you going to Zuellni.


Ah, please take it as a joke. Right.


Oh yes, just to say, I'm happy that you haven't given up the Military Arts! But I don't want you to become the Layfon you were in Grendan. I envy the Layfon training with all his concentration on the Military Arts. You looked cool. But I didn't like the Layfon who became a Heaven's Blade successor. Do you understand the difference?


When the letter first came, there was this interesting topic. Maybe you'll be surprised, but I won't tell you just yet. It'd be great if it can surprise you a bit.

I'll write to you again.


To my dear Layfon Wolfstein Alseif.

Leerin Marfes.



......Delicate fingers folded the letter along old folds. Praying that nobody would discover this, she put the letter back into the correct mailbox.



Forbidden from living on the polluted earth, humans lived in mobile cities.

As if floating on the earth, the cities move according to their own consciousnesses and maintained contact through the center of the traffic network, the Traffic City Joeldem.

The network wasn't reliable, but it was a way to connect them.

Academy City.

Within the ranks of the Regios were cities of different functions. This type of city, specializing in education, moved within this unstable network.

It gathered boys and girls, letting them study knowledge.

In here, where no adults set foot, children were learners and also teachers.

This was the Academy City.

And Zuellni was one of the Academy Cities.


Sunlight shot through into a classroom that was filled with a boisterous atmosphere before class began. The students entering the classroom placed their bags behind their seats and either joined into different conversation circles or prepared for class. Some ran about, asking for notes to copy. Some stayed immersed in their own world.

Surrendering to the urge to sleep, Layfon bent over his desk.

"Oh~~Morning!"

"*cough*!"

The other person gave his back a heavy hit.

"What? What? You look tired!"

"*cough*! Uu......Mor......Morning......" Layfon coughed.

"Mi-chan, you went over the line."

"Yeah, maybe Layton still hasn't recovered from the match." Naruki said.

"Oh, wasn't that two days ago?"

Mifi puffed up her cheeks. "As if Layton would get tired just because of that. Right?"

"Yeah......Uh, the match wasn't tiring. I'm ok."

"......But you look like you wanted to sleep."

"No, really, I'm fine."

Looking at Meishen's worried eyes, he nodded in a carefree manner. Her eyes were always teary. He didn't know what to do about that.

"Even so, you look tired. What is it? Did you have to work yesterday too?" Naruki studied him. Her tall presence made him feel like he was being interrogated.

"It's alright."

"I see. Well, working for days at a time can be tiring."

"......It's hard work to clean the Mechanism Chamber."

"Yeah. If you seriously want to prepare for the platoon matches, I think it's better for you to quit the cleaning job."

These three girls knew each other before they came to Zuellni.

Layfon met them because he stopped the riot at the opening ceremony.

And that was also the reason he was transferred into the Military Arts.

But these three had nothing to do with his transfer. The Student President, Karian Loss, knew from the beginning who Layfon was.

A Heaven's Blade successor in Grendan.

"No......I'm getting used to cleaning there already," he said as he smiled at Meishen.

The cleaning job in the Central Mechanism – cleaning the heart of the Regios – Layfon really had gotten used to it. The repetitive body work was way more relaxing than using his brain.

"Then what is it?" Mifi asked.

"Ahhahahah......Um, something." He gave a vague response.

"......Are you hiding something?"

"No. Definitely not!"

"No, you have a secret! Don't think this can escape my eyes! Hurry up and tell us before you get it!"

"Get it......"

Her pair of questioning eyes came closer. No one could stop Mifi when she was deep in her passion to collect and record any information.

"Tell, tell, tell......"

"Ah......" A troubled smile appeared on Layfon's face.

Naruki grabbed the back of Mifi's uniform and dragged her away.

"Didn't we have to tell him something? Class is about to begin."

"Huh?"

"Ah. That's right. Geez......Because Mei-chi is always staggering, we almost forgot about it."

"......Is it my fault?" Meishen said, sulking.

"Well, Mi's always making a huge ruckus. Hurry up, Mei!"

"......Oh."

Naruki pushed Meishen. Meishen walked forward, facing Layfon, her face a fiery red.

"......Um......"

"Yes?" Layfon sat up.

"......Lunch......I made a bento. Do you want to eat together?"

"Huh?"

"We're always eating out for lunch, so Mei's decided to make us a bento," Naruki said.

Meishen nodded at her, her face so red, it seemed like smoke was about to rise from her head.

It was true. Since his first day here, he'd always been buying bread for lunch. He had helped out in the orphanage so he knew how to cook, but because of his late shift in the Central Mechanism, he spent more time sleeping late in the morning.

"Ah......Is that ok?"

"......Hmm."

"Mei-chi loves to cook. Just be thankful and accept her goodwill."

Wondering whether the continuously nodding Meishen was becoming a robot, Layfon smiled happily.

"Then, thank you."

Meishen stopped nodding.



"I'm jealous!" Harley said, after having listened to Layfon talk about Meishen's invitation to lunch. He was looking at the display.

"Thank's for the compliment," Layfon nodded, holding a green Dite with a wire connecting one of its ends to Harley's machine.

"No, that's not what I meant."

"Um......?"

"Uh, I meant......I also want a girlfriend!"

Layfon came to the training complex after for platoon training and was accosted by Harley to do some checking.

The intense sound of training in other rooms drifted past the walls and into the boys' ears.

Only Layfon and Harley were in the room.

"That's wrong! We aren't lovers! She just likes to cook."

Harley sighed and shook his head.

"Oh, that's right. What's this for?" Layfon had been sending his Kei into the sword.

CSR vol02 023.jpg

There were two types of Kei, a destructive Kei that flowed externally and an internal Kei that strengthened the physical body. They were the skills that Military Artists used.

"Well, there's something I wanted to check."

"Um......" Layfon continued to extend his Kei into the blade, not knowing what he was doing it for. The sword emitted soft green light.

The vein of Kei made him feel like he'd grown a new limb. The vein extended into the blade to feel its heat and caressed the wind around it.

Harley sighed in admiration. "Your concentration of Kei is incredible! In this case, isn't it better to use a Platinum Dite? That'll increase the conductive rate."

"Really?"

Layfon was actually unsatisfied with it. It wasn't as good as the Heaven's Blade he'd used in Grendan.

(Now that I think about it, wasn't the Heaven's Blade also a Platinum Dite?)

But it was useless to compare the two. In the end, the sword was made to fight the filth monsters.

"So I was able to use the weapon before because of my amount of Kei."

Not long before, the filth monsters had attacked Zuellni.

Zuellni's multi-legs were trapped in a filth monster's nest. With Layfon's help that crisis has been resolved.

Harley had made a new adjustment to the Dite at Layfon's request.

A weapon that could be divided into countless wires.

Layfon used that to wipe out the larvae. He even stepped outside the city to eliminate the mother.

"But they took that weapon. Oh, this is fine."

The Student President and Vance had confiscated the weapon. It gave too much of an advantage to Layfon in a platoon match.

The Dite Layfon was now holding was newly made.

"Well, I didn't plan to use that weapon in the platoon matches anyway."

He cut off his Kei flow and lowered the sword. The residual heat from his Kei remained in his body, making him sweat.

"Really? If you used that, it would've been easy to win a platoon match."

"True, but isn't it pointless to win through that method?"

"Really?"

"Yes. Besides, the captain would never approve of it."

"Ah, true, true." A sour smile appeared on Harley's face.

"She wouldn't be happy, winning through other people's strength."

"Yeah," Layfon nodded and swung the sword.

Having released so much Kei, he wanted to exercise his limbs.

It was a casual swing from high to low. The remaining Kei on the blade disappeared along with the scattering green light of the Dite.

He confirmed his body condition by swinging the sword, and while doing that, he adjusted his different moves.

Slowly swinging the sword again and again, focusing his attention to one single point. He no longer detected the color of Kei emitting from the blade. The feeling he had had till now, of the changes in his nerves, slowly extended to the outside, resulting in the feeling that Layfon was swinging the sword like a machine.

And as he concentrated more, even that robotic feeling was pushed outside of his consciousness. He had become empty, whereas everything else was painted with color.

He swung at that color.

The point of his blade tore a track through the intangible air. This action repeated itself again and again. No matter how many wounds blossomed in the air, more air rushed in to fill it. He repeated his motion, and only stopped when the wound, affecting the flow of air, was unable to recover.

Unenthusiastic clapping sounded.

"Ha ha, brilliant!"

Sharnid had been watching at the door.

"Seems like it's been cut up to so many pieces that it just died."

"It's not that incredible......"

"But it really is! The wind pressure was strong when you first swung your sword, but in that last swing, the wind pressure just vanished......It was amazing," Harley said excitedly.

Layfon scratched his head, embarrassed by Harley's child-like excitement.

Then Sharnid poured cold water on Harley's emotion. "Harley, have you finished what I asked for before?"

"Oh, yes, yes. It's already done."

Harley opened a box beside him and took out two Dites.

The two Dites were like rods of charcoal. They had curved handles that were smooth and polished. In the bend of the handles were metal rings, hiding a hook like thing.

"Are they guns?"

Sharnid's job was to support the team with long range fire.

"It won't do to snipe when we have so few fighters on our team. Just think of it as insurance," Sharnid said. He used his Kei to restore the Dites.

"What a crude appearance!"

The body of the gun looked very heavy. There were no blades extending from above and below, but the shape looked sharp. The gun was designed with several bulging points. Either way, it looked like some type of attacking weapon.

And Layfon could tell the texture was not of Lithium Dite, but the hard Chrome Dite.

The same material of the captain, Nina's iron whips.

"I used black Dites as requested, but the shooting range isn't as long because of the bad conductive rate for the Kei flow."

"Not bad. I don't plan to shoot long distance with this thing. As long as it can hit anyone within ten Mei, it's fine with me."

He placed his fingers on the triggers, practicing with his new Dites. He reversed the gun barrels.

"Is this close-quarters gun combat?"

Sharnid whistled. "As expected of someone from Grendan. You do know a lot."

"Ah, I think even people not from Grendan would know......"

"What is close-quarters gun combat?" Harley asked.

To put it simply, this was martial arts using guns. Guns had the advantage with long range combat, but compared with swords and daggers, they were slow in terms of close-quarters combat.

And so a new type of gun skill was invented to overcome this weakness. The skill of close-quarters gun combat.

"Ah......Sharnid senpai knows how to use it?"

"Well, people who know how to use this are either stupid people that try to look cool, or amazing fighters......And I'm the former," he said with a cunning smile.

Not sure whether Sharnid was speaking the truth or not, Layfon looked at Harley, who only shrugged.

"......I'm late."

Came the clear and small voice. It was Felli.

Her form was as exquisite as glass art, giving off a pressure as if to freeze everything in her vicinity, but Layfon and the guys were already used to this.

"Felli-chan's cute today too," Sharnid commented.

"Thanks......" She glanced at the guns in his hand, and sat down on the long bench in a corner, already losing interest.

Harley checked Felli's Dite and said "Nina's the only one not here."

"Meaning she's the last!"

"Seems so."

Nina was more determined than anyone to strengthen the 17th platoon. She was always the first to arrive for training, but today, she hadn't shown up yet.

"I remember her saying she had something to do......"

"I think she's not keen at all," Sharnid yawned.

And just as he said, a lazy atmosphere filled the room.

Not knowing what to say, Layfon gazed at his sword.

(A lot has happened after the match.)

Revealing his real strength in the first platoon match was a setback for Nina.

This time, he kept himself at the same level as the rest of the platoon and fought seriously.

But in the end, they lost the match.

He didn't do his best. It was meaningless to hide his strength anymore, and he agreed with Nina that they had to protect the city. Even so, he tried to fight with some will.

And the reason for his not giving his all in the fight was because the platoon match wasn't the real Military Arts competition.

Layfon's strength would be needed after the platoon matches.

At some time, mobiles cities would approach nearby cities and fight for territory.

In reality, it was the people living in the city who fought.

And warred.

The reason behind the fight was the fuel source for the Regios – selenium mines.

For some reason, a city would only fight against the same kind of city. To reduce the number of casualties, Academy Cities had introduced the Military Arts competition. But even so, this couldn't change the reality that the losing city might die.

Zuellni once had three selenium mines. When Layfon came to study, it only had one mine left.

If they lost in the next Military Arts competition, Zuellni would have lost its one and only mine, and face death.

At first, Layfon didn't understand what this had to do with him. He felt it was unfair, for he had already decided to give up Military Arts.

Despite that, it didn't feel bad to do what he could for the city.

But......

One of the key people who changed his way of thinking, Nina, was not happy.

Against her parents' wishes, Nina ran away from home and came to Zuellni – Without money, she had to work in the Core Mechanism.

Layfon was also half-studying and half-working.

He always bumped into her at work. Recently, they'd earned the trust of their supervisor and were assigned together to clean a larger area.

Layfon had been working from midnight till dawn beside the wordless Nina.

(This is tiring......)

Thinking back, he felt he had never been through such a long night. Anyone could see the unhappiness on her face.

(Is it really because we lost the match?) He thought.

But if he was the cause......That part he didn't understand.

Speaking of which......

(Shouldn't I speak with her?)

He was being indecisive about it. And time passed as he brooded.

"If there's no practice, can I go back?" Felli said listlessly.

"Just wait a little bit more!" Harley said. He had already finished checking her Dite, and he had nothing to do. Sharnid was leaning against the wall with eyes closed. Perhaps he really was sleeping. Felli squinted at Layfon beneath her long eyelashes, her sharp gaze reproaching him.

"Sorry to keep you waiting."

Nina's voice saved him from Felli's sharp gaze.

Nina was in her third year, a junior, but she had become the captain of a platoon.

"You really are slow, Nina. What've you been doing? I almost fell asleep!" Sharnid yawned. To him, a fourth year, Nina was younger, so he didn't call her captain.

"I had to look into something, and it took some time." She walked to the center of the training room. The Dites in her harness gave off metallic noise as she moved.

Doubt rose in Layfon.

The sound that was usually reliable and convincing now felt unnatural.

The sound of the Dites...showed she wasn't walking normally.

Nina might have sustained wounds in the previous match, but she didn't look injured. She didn't walk carefully so as not to jar a wound.

"It's late. We won't be training today."

"Why?"

Everyone was shocked. Even Felli widened her beautiful eyes, watching Nina with suspicion.

Layfon felt the same.

Nina formed a platoon to give something back to Zuellni. It was because of her passion that he felt it was okay for him to step back onto the path of Military Arts. And it wasn't just her. Meishen, Mifi, Naruki...They followed their dreams with an honest heart.

Even though the thing that really encouraged him was the letter from his childhood friend, Leerin.

"So, why?" Sharnid said.

Layfon wasn't just surprised at her canceling the training, but today's Nina seemed to lack something. Just like the sound coming off the Dites in her harness. Something he couldn't quite grasp......

"I'm thinking of changing the training method. Sorry, we'll just cancel today's training."

"Sure......"

"Go do individual training if you want. Dismissed."

She left the training room.

Layfon watched her back.

The two Dites bumped against each other.

It really was an uneasy sound.



She realized this when she was panting heavily and had to stop. She pressed her palm against her chest, just above her heart, and realized that feeling of coarseness was gone.

"Heh?"

She searched in the pockets of her uniform. The breast pocket, inside pocket, dress pocket, her schoolbag.

It was gone.

The letter she was supposed to give to Layfon was gone.

It was still on her when she left the classroom. She had wanted to give it to him in the room, but while she hesitated and tried to find an opening, he had left. Meishen chased after him, to the training complex, but as a General Studies student she wasn't sure whether she should enter the building, so she could only wait at the entrance.

(I can give it to him tomorrow......Isn't it better to hand it over now? Should I go in? Would I be interrupting? Should I just wait here till he finishes training......?)

She couldn't wait for long, as it was almost time for her shift at the coffee shop.

She had checked that she still had the letter while thinking outside the training complex.

She'd had the letter then.

While checking to be sure that the letter really wasn't on her, she couldn't help but think what would happen next.

That letter had been stuffed into the crack between the door and the wall with other letters at the dormitory. Besides the letter from her parents, she also found letters from close relatives and friends – and when Meishen was happily checking the names on the letters, she found this name.

Leerin Marfes.

A name she hadn't heard of before. She checked the name of the successor, and held her breath.

It was Layfon.

She realized that the letter must have been delivered to the wrong place. She and Layfon lived in different dormitories with different room numbers. This letter was mistakenly delivered to her room by some coincidence.

Thinking of this, she was glad that she got to chat with Layfon. She could always talk to him, but it was another thing to talk about serious matters.

But......

(Leerin......This is a girl's name, right?)

If only she could ignore this name and stay immersed in happiness.

(What is their relationship? Friends?......What if they're lovers?)

Uneasiness filled her chest.

(......But, to peek into another person's letter......)

Her fingers shook. Looking at someone else's letter wasn't worth praising.

(But......)

She really did mind it. If this Leerin was someone important to Layfon, then what about Meishen herself?

She was afraid, thinking that the truth could be written in this letter. Even if she just left the letter alone, she'd probably have insomnia.

(No......But......But......)

Shaky fingers lightly touched the covering of the envelop. She mustn't peel it off too obviously. Lightly, lightly......

(Ahah......)

And she read what was inside.

What she felt afterwards were a sense of self-hatred and rivalry.

She relaxed, knowing she herself was the only one looking after Layfon's diet. Yet at the same time, she was jealous of the time that Layfon had spent with Leerin.

The guilt and self-hatred of peeking into another's letter stayed with Meishen. She had decided to give him back the letter when she was making him a bento. She had wanted to, but somehow dragged it out till after school......

......And now this had happened.

"......But it was there earlier."

She wanted to cry, her eyes feeling hot and her body weak. She sat down on the ground, hugging her schoolbag and searching in her memories for a hint.

"......Oh!"

Perhaps......

Because 'she' had appeared before Meishen, who was determined to stand outside the complex and wait for Layfon. She didn't mind being late to her job at the coffee shop, since this was her fault. But when Meishen had worked up her courage, 'she' appeared.

Felli Loss.

Hearing Felli's question, asking what Meishen wanted with Layfon, the determination Meishen held vanished like a puff of smoke, and she ran off as if she was escaping.

She must have dropped the letter then.

"Uuuu......"

She could do nothing without Naruki and Mifi. She hated herself for getting nervous before unfamiliar people. Once again, she returned to the training complex, searching for the letter on the ground – and failed to find it.



"I find it strange," Felli murmured in incomprehension as she went home.

Nobody felt like training after Nina left, so they just dispersed. Sharnid left immediately to go somewhere, and Harley went back to his lab after saying to Layfon "I'll find you if something comes up."

Layfon and Felli ended up leaving together, as their dormitories lay in the same direction.

Felli was one year older than Layfon, but she looked like a girl just a little over 10 years of age.

"She actually suggested we cancel training. This doesn't feel right."

Layfon smiled sourly at her.

"What?"

"......Nothing. Senpai's worried about the captain, so......" He smiled. Felli glared at him, her pale face turning pink.

Felli's level of Psychokinesis was of the level of a genius, but she hated to use it. She was in the 17th platoon because her brother Karian Loss, the Student President, forced her into it.

"As if I'd worry about her," she said.

"I meant that her coming up with weird ideas doesn't feel right."

Felli increased her pace, her argent hair fluttering behind her.

The male students walking past the pair couldn't help but stop and look at her.

Layfon caught up with her, walking past the dreamy-eyed male students. "But, it really is strange."

Even if she were changing the training methods, there was no need to cancel today's session.

(It was more like she was distracted by something else.)

That's what Layfon thought.

However, he didn't know what it was.

He remembered Nina's attitude at work last night.

A cold expression coupled with silence. Was it really because they lost the match?

Perhaps she was thinking of something else.

"But I still don't get it."

"Are you still thinking?" Felli said, angrily. "Please slow down."

"Oh, sorry." He had sped up his pace unconsciously.

The Felli he knew now always had some sort of expression on her face. This was different from when he first met her. Neutral. A face like a doll's.

"You won't find the answer by thinking too much. All you need is to observe more keenly."

"True," he nodded.

"Compared to that......"

"What?"

"Nothing." Her lips moved, then, clamped down altogether.

"?"

"My brother......wants you."

"The Student President needs me?" Layfon frowned.

Knowing Layfon's past, Karian had forced him into the Military Arts department.

"I wasn't told why, but he said it's important."

Felli was also unhappy.

"Shall we go and meet him?"

Why didn't she just tell him at school?

"No," she shook her head.

"He said it's secret......We'll talk at my place."

"......What?"

"I need to buy groceries for dinner. Please come with me."

Why Felli's place?

Before he could ask that question, she had strolled ahead of him.

He followed silently.



And now he was holding shopping bags in both of his hands.

(Just how many days of groceries has she bought?)

Felli was also walking with her hands full.

Instead of parting at the usual place, they headed for Felli's dormitory. Layfon felt uneasy walking in an unfamiliar part of the city.

"......It looks big."

It looked more like a villa than a dormitory. On the first floor was a big living room enclosed in glass walls. A spiral staircase (next to the sofa) took them up to the second floor.

Layfon clearly felt the gap between the rich and poor as he pushed open the engraved door.

It was too naive of him to get so excited over having a twin room all to himself.

A wide corridor stretched ahead to another spacious living room, and from there was a door that led to more rooms.

"Please leave the groceries over there."

The kitchen was about the same size as Layfon's room. He didn't know whether to feel comforted or disappointed by this.

"Please wait outside. I'm going to make dinner."

Layfon put down the groceries and went to sit on the sofa in the living room. A desk, a magazine bookcase...Small oil paintings adorned the walls, looking as if they were just put up to have something cover the bare walls. The room felt dry and tasteless.

There were actually two doors leading from the living room.

One of the doors must lead to Felli's room.

Then the other......?

(I see. She lives with the Student President.)

This wasn't surprising, since they were siblings.

(So why does this meeting have to be a secret?)

The Student President had somehow obtained information about Layfon's past, but the two of them weren't close enough to share each other's secrets.

In truth, Layfon didn't want to meet Karian.

(Well, there's no point in thinking about it. I'll find out soon enough,) he decided, recalling Felli's advice.

With nothing to do, he listened to the noise coming from the kitchen.

The sound of sorting out the groceries was replaced by the sound of chopping......


Doh......Doh......Doh......


The sound......


Dohdoh......Doh......


Doh......Dohdoh......Doh......


"Woah!" Layfon called at the irregular sound, and went over to the kitchen.

"Senpai......What're you doing......"

"Don't......talk to me."

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With a serious facial expression, she fought the potato seriously with a knife in her hand. Felli held down the uneven, round potato on the chopping board with the tip of her trembling fingers, and slowly cut it in half. Sliced taro filled the salad bowl beside her.

"Senpai......"

"......What?" She hadn't looked at him.

"Do you know how to cook?"

"Of......Of course."

"Of course," he smiled, nodding.

"......What?" she finally turned to him, her forehead adorned with droplets of sweat.

He smiled again. He wanted to laugh, but suppressed it.

"Wh...What is it?"

He could only laugh.

But he couldn't laugh to her face.

"Well. I have a suggestion."

"And what is it?"

"It'll be easier to cut the rest if you peel the skin off first."

Her eyes widened.

He didn't mean to hurt her dignity. All he wanted to do was give some advice, but he still wanted the food to be edible. No. He wasn't thinking of using another's kitchen and showing off his skill at cooking......


"Mm......This is delicious," Karian nodded with satisfaction, chewing the chicken and taro cooked in tomato sauce.

"Ah......Thanks," Layfon said, embarrassed.

"......"

Felli ate the food with disapproval.

"......What?"

"No-nothing."

"......This is delicious."

"......Thanks."

In the end, Layfon made the dinner.

Because there was too much potato in the salad bowl, he used the potato to make another dish – one with mushrooms, chicken fillets and cream. They had plenty of ingredients to choose from. Next came the bread.

And that was their dinner.

"And I was thinking of eating dinner together at a nearby restaurant......It's been a while since I've had a home-cooked meal. I'm really grateful."

Karian made a happy face.

"Aaaa......Um, but it's a shame this is a guy's cooking." Layfon sighed.

"It's enough that you know how to cook! Do you like cooking?" Karian asked.

"Not really......Everyone had to help out back at the orphanage."

"Oh, I see."

Layfon didn't know his parents. The Head of the orphanage picked him up when he was little. The Head was a Military Artist, and the person who discovered Layfon's talent.

"I'm envious of your cooking skill. I wanted to learn how to cook after coming here, but it's beyond my ability."

Whether or not this was taken at face value, the idea that this brother and sister pair was unable to do something necessary to survive was alien to Layfon.

"And what did you want to talk about......"

"Oh, we can leave that for later. I want to enjoy the food."

"Ah......"

Layfon wanted to finish what he came for and get out of here. Felli sat eating her food in a foul mood.

Karian also noticed her mood, but he did nothing about it.

(Anyway, just finish dinner!) And Layfon concentrated on eating.

After dinner, Felli picked up the dishes and made tea for Layfon and her brother in the living room. The tea smelled nice. Felli seemed to have used some high class tea leaves.

"I want to show you this......" Karian said, giving Layfon no time to enjoy the tea. He took out a photo from a folder.

"I realized from the last attack on Zuellni that I had to have a bigger budget set aside for the city's defense."

"That's a good idea."

Karian must have realized this since Zuellni hadn't encountered filth monsters for a long time.

Zuellni was a peaceful city.

The city was populated entirely by students, so even the Electronic Fairy itself hadn't been paying attention to the possibility of filth monsters nearby.

It sounded amazing that a city was run by students, but to put it in a worse light, it was a city full of immature youngsters.

"Thanks. So I've been sending off drones since then, and this image came back......"

A bad quality image. Everything was blurred.

This was due to the pollutants in the air, affecting any long range wireless communication. Somehow, only Psychokinesis worked well for long-range transmitting, but it was still not possible to establish contact between cities.

This image had nothing to do with Psychokinesis.

"It's hard to make out, but the location of this image is a mountain about 500 Kimel ahead of Zuellni's current position."

Karian traced his fingers around a shape in the mountains, so Layfon could finally see it.

"What I'm worried about is this area of mountain here."

"What do you think?"

Layfon studied the image for some time. Then he placed it back on the desk and rubbed his tired eyes.

Felli stood to the side, looking at the photo.

"How is it?"

"I fear the same."

"Hmm......" Karian leaned back on the sofa, troubled.

"What is this?" Felli asked.

"A filth monster."

She glared at her brother. "Are you planning to use him again?"

"Relying on him is the only way we can survive," he replied calmly.

"What's the point of having a Military Arts course!?"

"The true strength of Military Arts, Felli......You should understand now, thanks to what happened recently."

"But......"

"Even I want him to focus just on the Military Arts competition, but this is an emergency. There's no helping it. Then, what do you think?"

Karian's finger pressed on the image of the filth monster.

"It's probably a male. Compared to the size of this mountain, the filth monster's either in its first or second phase."

Newly born filth monsters were asexual – not male nor female. After a larva molted, it was a male. It absorbed pollutants from the air and went about searching for prey......Humans. Molting was measured in phases. The more it molted, the stronger it became. And as it approached the mating season, the male molted one more time to become female. A gravid (pregnant) female. It then buried itself beneath the ground and hibernated until the eggs hatched.

"The city I was born in hadn't come across any filth monsters for a long time, so I can't really tell how strong this is. You?"

"A filth monster in its first or second phase isn't that horrible, but that's when it isn't attacking a city."

"Um......"

"Almost all of the filth monsters enter their reproductive stage in their third to fifth phase. The most terrible are filth monsters who've given up on reproducing. They grow stronger as time passes."

"Have you beaten one of these monsters?"

"With two other people. At the time, I thought I was going to die."

The Loss siblings took a deep breath at that. Layfon observed their reaction without much of an emotion.


After dinner, he left the dormitory.

"Do you hate him?"

"You've asked me that before."

His muscles froze in the middle of the staircase.

While Felli listened, Layfon answered with a wry smile.

"I'm not joking."

"I know."

"Very few people know you were a Heaven's Blade successor in Grendan. My brother doesn't plan to spread it around, so you can just ignore his request."

Almost no one knew it was Layfon who had defeated the attacking filth monsters.

The few who knew were Karian, Vance, and the members of the 17th platoon.

Not many people outside of Grendan knew about the Heaven's Blade successors. But even now, matches for the Heaven's Blade title were being fought fiercely in Grendan. People fought filth monsters and each other for the title of the strongest twelve.

"That can't be announced casually."

The Queen of Grendan took away Layfon's title as a Heaven's Blade successor because he had tainted its name.

If everyone knew about his title, then they'd all know of his shameful past.

So he'd keep this a secret.

"Why didn't you say you don't want to do this? Don't you want to give up Military Arts?"

"I want to, but right now......"

"Then why?"

"In the end, the filth monsters are the same as the Military Arts competition. Isn't that so?" he replied, a bit surprised by how calm his voice was.

"You're an idiot!"

"Ah, that's too much."

"You really are an idiot," Felli repeated in a small voice.

He shrugged.


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