Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume8 Diamond Passion

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Diamond Passion[edit]

To Layfon Alseif, Nina Antalk was someone who held many secrets.

In the Academy City of Zuellni, as a Military Artist elite, she was allowed to enter a platoon as only a 3rd year, making her a very accomplished girl. At the same time, she was a person who was involved with the dilemma Zuellni was facing and was very passionate about doing something for the city.

But where did this passion come from?

He felt that if he went and asked her, he might be able to understand her feelings completely, but then again he might never be able to understand.

"Is it really okay?" Nina asked Layfon in an unsettled manner.

"It's okay."

A completely spiritless Layfon nodded his head.

They were in a training area that was especially reserved for the 17th platoon of Zuellni. Soundproof and shockproof materials were used to isolate this huge space, and in it, stood the Captain of the seventeenth squad, Nina and her platoon member Layfon. Only platoons with the bare minimum of four fighting members, such as the seventeenth squad, felt that the training area was extremely spacious. And in a situation like today when there were only two people, it felt even more spacious.

It was also an unavoidable reality.

Today was a rest day with lessons only before lunch, so most of the platoons had finished training by dusk. Even if the sounds of training came through the neighboring walls, it would be probably be some hardworking individual practicing by himself.

"Is it really okay?" Asked Nina almost naggingly, as she confirmed the sensation of the two restored Dites she held in each of her hands. The whips that she wielded were weapons designed to emphasize offensive capabilities.

"Anytime is fine."

Again, he nodded as if unaware of anything.

"I can't say how this'll turn out."

Facing Layfon's attitude, Nina felt a little annoyed. She felt that she was being underestimated. Considering their strength, that would be understandable as well. The problem was that he wasn't even holding a Dite in his hands, and not only that, he had loosened his sword strap as well while still standing around with a complacent look on his face, which made Nina feel like he had seriously insulted her dignity.

She wouldn't ask him again.

She immediately got her internal-type Kei flowing. Using the internal-type Kei generated from within her to reinforce her entire body, she immediately cut down the distance between herself and Layfon.

Following up on her charge, she brought out her right-hand metal whip.

Nina locked onto Layfon's left shoulder.

Layfon was in the center of her vision as she charged at him, and showing no signs of moving just caught Nina's strike just like that.

The force in that strike was more than enough to rend flesh; to smash bone into little pieces.

Even though the strike was that powerful, it was as if it had fallen upon a steel wall, and her wrist received a jarring impact instead.

"Ugh..."

Even though she didn't let go of the steel whip, Nina was caught completely off guard, and kept her distance from Layfon.

"Do it more seriously."

Layfon turned to face Nina, whose wrist was wracked with pain and spoke to her in a critical manner.

"That attack was nothing like Senpai's usual attacks. You have to attack even more seriously, and make it so that I'm forced to evade it. If you can't do that, then there's no meaning to what I'm going to show you next."

She's been training with Layfon for a long time now, and it wasn't only after the platoon training sessions, but also with him during their rest days, but she had never seen Layfon like this before.

"What's wrong?"

She didn't ask him like that.

A part of it was because she knew now wasn't the time to ask something like that, but she knew the real reason was her curiosity for what Layfon was going to show her next.

"....................."

Nina quietly increased the density of her Internal type Kei. Being able to do this in a blink of an eye was thanks to Layfon's training as well. The unique breathing method she used when using Internal type Kei was also the result of taking Layfon's advice. He told her to keep her breath the same as it normally was, and as a result she managed to master Internal type Kei.

When she first started, she would get exhausted very quickly. It felt like she couldn't properly control the Kei which burned within her, but now she could stabilize her Kei easily.

She could feel her muscles expanding beneath her skin. It wasn't just her muscles, even the bones which held up her body was filling with Kei, making them harder.

Her body was like a spring, coiling up and gathering energy, and then releasing it all.

The target that she had locked on to hadn't changed; it was still the left shoulder.

She brought her arm down in a direct stroke from up high.

She released all her Kei at the moment of impact.

"Wu..."

Again, her wrist sent out a signal of pain as Nina looked at an unperturbed Layfon.

This time Layfon moved. Grabbing Nina's right arm which was targeting his left shoulder, he punched her with the other hand in the stomach. The Kei which he released from his fist caused Nina to be flung against the opposing wall.

Her back rammed into the wall, then Nina fell onto the ground with a crash.

"What the hell's going on..."

Layfon didn't hold back with his strike at all. Nina stood up quickly.

Layfon stood there showing no signs of being injured, completely still.

"Do you understand what I just did?"

"No, other than filling your whole body up with Kei, I have no idea what you did" replied Nina, shaking her head.

It was true; that's all she had figured out from all that.

Her right wrist was aching. It was the evidence that all the power in her strike had been deflected back easily. If she hadn't loosened her grip at the moment of impact, the recoil would probably have been even greater.

Layfon carried the first aid kit over, deftly treating Nina's wrist.

"Ah, I'm sorry."

"...It's ok."

He sprayed her wrist with a cooling mist to ease the pain, then used a bandage to wrap it up and secure it. Nina concentrated her Internal-type Kei near her wrist. Even though she didn't expect any real results, at least it would speed up her recovery.

"What was that you did back there?"

Compared to the pain in her wrist, she cared about that more.

That move was probably what Layfon was going to show Nina.

Even if it was like that, she couldn't understand it at all.

"It didn't feel like striking a person at all, it felt as if I was hitting something very hard."

"That was the Heaven's Blade Successor Reverse's move."

"It was a Heaven's Blade Successor's move?"

The Heaven's Blade Successors of Lance Shelled City Grendan were really powerful Military Artists who could single-handedly take on Filth Monsters.

And standing in front of her, Layfon was also a Heaven's Blade Successor before he came to Zuellni.

"This technique is the only reason Reverse became a Heaven's Blade Successor, and it's no surprise."

"Is it really that powerful of a technique?"

No doubt it was; deflecting Nina's technique so easily.

But relying on just that technique to become a Heaven's Blade Successor seemed a little surprising.

Layfon is very strong.

He warded off two attacks on Zuellni from the Filth Monsters by himself.

But during those battles, Nina was standing aside and watching.

That stunning scene made you forget to breathe.

And the second time, fighting that mature form Filth Monster, Layfon performed moves which were impossible for Nina.

But most importantly of all, when he was facing such a huge existence, he didn't show any signs of fear.

To be able to do all that by himself, that was the definition of strong.

And that's why Nina started harboring thoughts of not being able to do anything by herself...

"Kongoukei...(Diamond Kei)That's what this technique is called. It defends against all attacks and then causes them to rebound; the strongest shield. And then there is the strongest Guan Dao (halberd) wielded by Cauntia, which can cut through anything. This pair's combination attacks have massacred large numbers of Filth monsters."

"...So that's why."

She understood that reasoning. A team, which was made up of two people who had reached a genius level in their offense and defense, would surely be a formidable combination.

But Layfon shook his head as Nina thought of this explanation.

"There's Cauntia who only attacks and completely disregards defense, and there's Reverse, who only defends and never bothers with offense. Think about it carefully, and imagine the situation."

"With that body, she takes on the relentless attacks of the filth monsters with such concentration that she barely blinks. Can you imagine that, Captain?"

Nina didn't reply and was frozen on the spot.

When they were battling the mature form of filth monster, Nina acted as the bait.

At that time the filth beast was coming closer and closer, pressuring her, and Nina was so scared that she couldn't move at all. She thought it was going to be the same as a battle, so she didn't think that there would be any problems. At that time, she never even imagined she might be torn into shreds by those gigantic teeth.

She decided that she would imagine herself in such a situation more often.

What kind of people would be there...

"The basic idea of Kongoukei is to use Internal type Kei to reinforce your body and simultaneously follow the Kei of an attack and reflect it. It's actually very simple in theory. But the hard part is getting the timing right and to always be staring at the opponent with a persistent glare, and to do that you have to have a very strong will. You have to do those two things."

As he said 'To always be staring at the opponent with a persistent glare' she already thought that it was possible for her to master this technique.

But, if it was as he said, then it shouldn't be that easy to learn. After all the training, Nina finally understood this from her experience.



"Owowowow...."

Nina woke up to excruciating pain in her muscles. How long had it been?

Even before, she hadn't ever been like this before.

Now she thought about it, recently every time she had forgotten her restraint and pushed herself too much, she had done something that made her whole body sore with pain.

But self-training alone all the time to the point of being hospitalized ended up as the catalyst for Layfon to start training her, providing Nina with very valuable training sessions.

Ignoring the pain, she sat up with that blank look of having just woken up, adjusting her Kei breathing. This was her latest daily routine she had to go through.

Her ultimate goal was to be able to maintain her Kei breathing even when she was sleeping, but right now, she still couldn't do it.

It wasn't actually to flood her lungs with Kei, but it was to stabilize the flow of Kei coming from her Kei vein in her back...that was called Kei breathing.

As she proceeded with her Kei breathing, she unconsciously looked around her room.

Looking at her bed, her study desk, and her wardrobe, you could immediately tell it was a private room; it was Nina's living space. The toilet, the showers, and the kitchen were all shared.

Nina lived in the girl's dorms.

This was built a few years ago as practice for the Architecture Students for their graduation. The designer had called it a work of art, and you could see this clearly from the outside of the building. It was built in an archaic wooden house style, and on the inside, everywhere you looked you could see carefully designed ornaments. The three shared rooms were also very spacious and luxurious, making people who lived in other apartments and dormitories feel envious.

But the thing was, that place wasn't very popular.

The main reason was that it was too far away from school.

And another reason was the noise pollution.

Originally, the land nearby was prepared for Architecture Students to undergo training, so they would build many different structures, or knock down the older buildings. The reason that the girl's dorm that Nina lived in hadn't been knocked down was that the person who designed this returned to his home city after graduating and won an award for the design, so they kept this building as a memorial of sorts.

A house without people living in it would quickly fall into disrepair, so they turned it into a so-called girl's dorm and rented it out. But when it got dark, the lack of people felt creepy to many residents, so there were very few people who lived in that dorm.

Because of all the terrible conditions, the rent was low, so Nina decided to live here.

"Hoo..."

Nina had finished adjusting her Kei breathing, and now fully awake, she used her Internal type Kei to ease the pain in her muscles. This level of muscle soreness only needed some sort of Kei to be maintained in the area, and the pain would be gone by around noon.

Internal type Kei, or Katsukei, could be used to reinforce the body and remove fatigue. If in an emergency one fully released all their Internal type Kei and continually reinforced their body, afterward there would be very scary side consequences waiting for the user. Nina had experienced this period of aftershock herself. However, if it was used appropriately, one could achieve accelerated recovery.

Feeling a lot more comfortable, Nina placed a panda plushie that she had been hugging all that time onto the jutting windowsill beside her bed. The plushie had been mended in several places, and gave an overall appearance of being very old and worn.

That plushie was one of the few things that Nina had brought here from her hometown. It was a present from her grandfather when she was little, and she wouldn't be able to sleep peacefully if she wasn't hugging it.

Wearing a set of light pink pajamas, Nina walked out of her room, going to wash her face.

As soon as she walked into the hallway the mouth-watering smell of melted butter assaulted her.

Nina hurriedly looked at the clock hanging on the wall beside the stairs. It was an ancient clock that had to be wound, telling Nina that breakfast was about to start. Nina quickly walked towards the washing basin, washed her face, and then returned to her room to change.

Just as she finished changing...

The clock sounded out with a ring and simultaneously, a voice called out "Breakfast is starting~~~~". At the same time a clanging sound reverberated with the other noises around the dorm at a level far beyond ear splitting.

Put simply, it was the sound of metal hitting metal, but to call it a weapon created solely for pissing people off wasn't excessive at all. No alarm clock in existence could possibly create a sound as annoying as this.

"Woah!"

After a while, she heard the ringing again. Normally, she got up well before the sound went off, but she had overexerted herself in yesterday's training session, so she slept in a little.

Even if she lived this irregular life, the only schedule she strictly followed was her mealtimes. That was one of the rules of the girls dorm.

"I'm up! I'm up already!"

Shouting at the top of her lungs from her room loudly, Nina scrambled out of her room.

The girl beside the stairs was holding a soup spoon and was beating a pan. The noise this made was known as the most effective weapon designed to wake people up in the morning.

"Hehee... Nina you lazy sloth".

As she said this, she stopped hitting the frying pan and pulled out her earplugs.

"Haa...I'm sorry."

Seeing that the noise had stopped, Nina apologized in a relieved manner.

This girl's name was Selina Vin. She was a fourth year Alchemy student, and she was also the dorm manager.

The reason that she was the dorm manager was because of all the people who lived here, she was the only one who could cook. People who could control food were the greatest people in the world, as decreed by the last dorm manager who graduated last year.

"But it's been a long time since I've whacked the frying pan like this, so I'm a little happy." Saying this, Selina went downstairs first.

Nina helplessly chased after her.

All of the people who lived in the dorm were already seated at the table in the dining room.

"Morning, Nina."

"Morning, Leu"

The person who called out to Nina was another person who lived in this dorm, and after replying, Nina also took her place at the table.

Today's breakfast was toast fried in butter and dipped in milk, along with salad and tea.

On a table which could seat ten people, there was only enough food for three.

That is to say, these three people were all of the people who lived in this all girls dorm.

"It's been such a long time since I've heard that sound she uses to wake people up."

"Yeah, sorry about that."

Selina also put on a expression which said 'can't help it' and sighed.

"The others who used to live here have all graduated, so now it really feels a little lonely."

"No, that's not it. Only two people graduated from here" said Nina calmly as she spread honey across the toast.

"But it's because nobody new came to live here."

"Anyway, it's not a problem that has just started. It started ages ago" muttered Leu, staring into the distance.

"Part of it's also because of the way Selina wakes people up; it leaves most of the new people here traumatized and they all leave this dorm."

"But isn't that because it was really hard to wake that girl up?"

Looking at Selina frowning with displeasure, Nina shook her head helplessly.

"Well...even if she wasn't scared away, there would only be four people. In this dorm for ten people there isn't even half that."

At least she had to reassure her first.

"But isn't having only three people manage this huge dorm too much work? We can't clean the empty rooms up properly, and we can't clean up the lawn outside properly... and recently there's been more mice, so don't you guys think it'd be better if we called in some more people?"

"No." Facing Selina who was whining, Leu cut in "I don't think the mice have anything to do with the number of people living here, but there have been some pretty annoying sounds coming from the ceiling."

"...Eh?"

Nina moved her feet under the table slightly, and her toes touched something. It was a something that was quite hard.

"That's why I have a proposal. Ah, you can't reject this proposal. No matter what you say, I'm the dorm manager. Ahem!"

Listening to Selina who had probably puffed up her chest, Nina looked under the table.

"That's why I want to increase the number of people in this dorm."

"...You don't even know how you're going to do that, and we all know we can't just increase the number of people so easily just because we wanted to."

"That'll never happen, yeah?"

"This dorm has a pretty unfortunate environment, so I doubt many students would be willing to come here."

"Hem hem hem~"

Pretending to listen to what Leu and Selina were saying, Nina had put all her attention into looking for the something under the table.

(...What is that thing?)

There was a normal plate placed there.

On the plate, there were the dishes leftover from last night. There wasn't any problem, seeing as plates were made for dishes to be placed on them. There wasn't any problem with that.

The question was, what was a plate doing on the floor? And next to the plate, there was a chipped soup bowl, with some milk inside. Why was this.

"Then, I'll introduce it to everyone."

"Introduce?" Asked Leu in surprise. The talk across the table was still continuing.

"Is there already someone coming to live in our dorm?"

"That's exactly right~~~Steven-chan, welcome~~~" As Selina held extended her 'welcome' there was a creepy noise. "Shu~~~"

"...What is this?"

Leu looked at the thing that flew out from under the table with a surprised expression. It must have been ordered to stay under the table until this moment. Under the table, there were many plates with all the leftovers from last night. She obviously heard Selina's introduction, but that was a completely inadequate explanation of the phenomenon in front of her.

"Steven-chan."

"No, that's not what i mean."

"That is something my friend from the Cultivation Department sent me from another city. Originally they bought a squirrel-type egg which was meant to exterminate mice for us, but they made a mistake and they got a pet instead."

"Haha, and you can't return stuff you bought from other cities as well."

"Yeah, but it's a bit too cruel to just throw this thing out, so they looked for people who were willing to keep him."

"Then it's him who's going to live here from now on?"

"Yeah, he's really cute, isn't he?"

"Well, I don't really hate pets. I'm not afraid of them either. But still, if we were going to get a pet, we should have just gotten a guard dog to look after the house."

"Arah, there's no point in keeping a guard dog. We don't have any criminals or delinquents in this area."

"I think the fact that a person like you who has no sense of urgency managed to live peacefully up till today is the real mystery...If it can't catch any mice, then there's no point at all in having it as an extra member of the dorm. He isn't even a person."

"Eh~~~~~? I can't?"

"Well, I guess you can, but have you figured out a solution for his litter?"

"No problem."

"Really. Then it's up to Nina then? Is it ok?"

As for Selina's question, Nina couldn't answer it.

She was drenched in cold sweat, and it wasn't stopping.

Below her feet, there was a terrifying creature.

It was a creature she could grab with one hand, eating the leftovers in the dish like a wild beast. It looked like it was pretty hungry.

Aah, it's slender body gave out a feeling of immaturity.

It had grown long claws in order to run around the ground more easily.

In its mouth, there were small, sharp teeth tearing at the leftover food.

...It was a ferret.

"Aaah! Waaah!!!!"

"Nina?"

That creature lifted its head and licked it mouth, it front legs rubbing its face before it stood up, looking about at its surroundings.

CSR vol08 091.jpg

Looking at Nina.

Those glossy, round eyes were filled with curiosity.

"Shu~"

It was a very weak sound.

"Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Nina let out a deafening cry and jumped onto the table.

"Ni-Nina?"

"What's wrong?"

The two of them stared stunned at Nina, who was shaking on the table.

The ferret was frightened by Nina's cry and hugged Selina's leg, hiding behind it.

"...Nina, do you hate animals?"

"...No, it's only those that I can't stand"

"Arah..."

Seeing Nina holding her head and shrinking away, the two looked at each other.

In the end, they took Steven the ferret back to Selina's room and continued their breakfast.

"Though I never thought that Nina would be afraid of ferrets."

"It's pretty surprising."

"...If you two want to laugh, then laugh."

Seeing her shoulders still quivering slightly, the two couldn't help not laughing but didn't make a noise, and Nina just sat there pretending to calmly eat breakfast. But her veins near her temples were still throbbing.

"But why is it that you're only afraid of ferrets? I mean, in the inter-city matches, you've met far scarier people than that little creature."

"Is it a physiological reason?"

In response to Leu's question, Nina said definitely "It was that thing's fault in the first place."

"It's fault...Nina, what exactly did the ferret do?"

"Aah, just thinking about it scares me. It was when I was five. Because my uncle loved animals, he kept a lot of pets and livestock at his house. At that time, I often went to that uncle's house to play..."

"Uhh...if it's like that, why are you afraid of ferrets?"

"On my fifth birthday, everyone in my extended family came to wish me a happy birthday. My uncle also came. He told me there was a surprise waiting for me in my bedroom. Even though I wanted to see what it was immediately, he told me to wait until the birthday party was over. So I had no choice but to be patient and wait."

Nina shivered as she recalled it.

"Well...what happened?"

"Yeah, what next?"

"My uncle prepared a ferret for me. Originally, it was meant to be safely housed inside its cage, I don't know if it had something to do with the metal lock being broken, but somehow that ferret got out of its cage."

"So that's why you're afraid of ferrets?"

"If would be great if that were all. That thing ... my precious plushie..."

"Plushie? You mean the one in your room?"

"Yeah. It was chewing my precious Mitessha with tearing noises."

Recalling the scene, Nina continued to quiver.

What the young Nina saw when she returned to her room was an evil monster using its vicious teeth and tearing a hole in Mitessha's stomach and was pulling out the cotton stuffing within into long thin strands.

"Aiya."

"To me, Mitessha isn't just a precious plushie I got from my grandfather. It's a precious friend who keeps me company through the night. Even though it was so important, that thing... that thing..."

With her mother's help, Mitessha was restored to his former glory, but on his body there was an irrevocable scar.

From then on, every time she saw a ferret, she would remember what happened back then and she would be so terrified that she would start shaking.

"Then, can't I keep him?"

After breakfast, the three of them were drinking tea together.

"Wuu..."

Looking at a very sad Selina, Nina was speechless.

"Nina, that's a trick she uses all the time" reminded Leu quietly.

She knew this as well. As soon as Selina was in a situation that was disadvantageous to her, she would put on a childlike appearance. It was her solution to everything.

Even though Nina knew this...

"I can't...?"

"Wuu..."

She couldn't do anything against this expression of Selina's. And her everyday meals were always made by this person who they always wanted to thank. When it came to any of her requests, they always felt that it was hard to deny her.

(No, quickly remember, Nina Antalk. Selina wants to keep a ferret. That horrific beast. Have you forgotten Mitessha's tragedy?)

Nina continually shook her head, reminding herself in her heart.

Okay, I'm going to refuse...as she thought this, she looked up at Selina.

"If that child doesn't find an owner he's going to be disposed. He's very pitiful...am I still not allowed to keep him?"

It was completely unfair to be saying this sort of thing with an expression as if she were going to cry.

"Okay, okay...I understand."

As she said this in a tiny voice, Leu who was sitting beside her quietly said "Idiot."

"Really? Really? Thank you so much!"

"On one condition! Quickly tell him to never get close to me!"

"Okay, I got it."

Seeing Selina happily make her promise, Nina showed a trace of glumness.



Noon that day.

Layfon was startled to see a languished Nina come into the training area.

Could it be because of yesterday's training? Aware of the possibility, Layfon was worried. Nina showed an exhausted smile and shook her head.

"It has nothing to do with yesterday's training. It's just, this morning...it was like that."

In response to a vague reply like that, Layfon cast a confounded look over to Nina, but she didn't attempt to explain it any further.

"Let's just train for now. What are we doing today? Are we continuing what we did yesterday?"

Nina thought that she would need that kind of strong defense.

"Today we're doing basic training."

"Why? I want to get the essentials of that move."

"I think you've already got the basics of that move. I said it yesterday too, Kongoukei is a very simple Kei technique. If you just memorize the technique, you'll be able to do it very quickly. But to use it correctly is a different thing."

"That's why we have to..."

"That's why, just by memorizing you cannot understand the true nature of Kongoukei" asserted Layfon, and Nina closed her mouth.

"Concentration isn't something which will be easily trained, and if you want to be able to bring out Kongoukei's original use, raising your basic abilities is very important. And if your foundations are very strong, then your overall abilities will be raised as well. No matter how you look at it, isn't it very good?"

As he said this, Layfon walked towards one side of the room, and started to prepare for training.

Nina watched Layfon's back quietly.

Layfon seemed even further from Nina. Nina only saw the platoon match before her...and a bit further away, the inter-city battle.

But Layfon looked even further, thinking of doing battle with filth monsters.

This was the original purpose of Military Artists, right? She knew that it was the Military Artist's job to fight the filth monsters that attacked the city.

But the inter-city battles with other Academy cities... the battle with other Military Artists from other cities was unavoidable.

"Then, what am I supposed to do about that area...Waah!"

Halfway in her sentence, Nina fell backwards to the floor, and frowned.

On the ground, many balls the size of fists rolled around. These were things that Nina had bought with the platoon's budget according to Layfon's request.

"But that sort of thing is perfectly normal for Military Artists."

The two were practicing their stances on top of the rolling balls.

As they practiced the basics of being aware of Kei within their weapons, they had to be careful of the balls they were stepping on and insert Kei into the balls to stop them from rolling. If it was just standing on the balls, even Nina could do it as she was right now. But to do it as she was practicing her stances was very hard. As she continued to step on the balls and adjust her stances, she had to use her nerves to adjust the direction of the Kei flow.

"Indeed, battling with filth monsters is different from fighting other military artists, but the only difference is the fighting methods, as the essence of the Kei technique hasn't changed."

Nina moved about slowly, while Layfon leisurely stepped between poses. The balls he stepped on didn't move at all. Seeing this, Nina realized just how great the gap between herself and Layfon was.

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"Let's just use Kongoukei as an example. You don't know how strong your opponent's attack will be. You don't know how much power you need to defend against the attack. For argument's sake, you don't even know who your opponent is. Even with your standards now, you might still run into some trouble. But in order to get the greatest result, isn't it better to be working hard for that? You'll never waste hard work. "

"...Speaking of which, are you practicing properly right now?"

"I am, wouldn't you say that I am doing training very seriously?"

"You're actually holding back to coordinate with me, right?"

"I haven't actually thought about that..."

Being asked that question all of a sudden by Nina, Layfon scratched his face uneasily.

"Well, I certainly wouldn't do this in individual training, and this place isn't a specialized facility, so I can't do it properly, so doing this seems a lot more appropriate" said Layfon, balancing on a ball with a single leg.

Seeing this change, Nina observed Layfon's feet.

Thick Kei rotated around Layfon in a whirl.

The first thing that Layfon had taught Nina was how to observe an opponent's Kei. As she observes the movements of the body, she also has to capture the flow of her opponent's Kei. If she did that, before her opponent used any moves she would be able to detect any changes in the flow of his Kei.

She could nearly...do it. But she didn't understand it. If she could see the flow of the Kei, then as her opponent used any techniques she would also be able to see the change in the flow.

Even though she understood this, that's all she could do. If she reproduced the flow of Kei, in theory she could use the same technique, but she couldn't do it in reality.

(Ah...it's true.)

Layfon was full of unbelievable aspects to him. Geniuses were hard to understand in the first place. And Nina herself was a rare student who was made a platoon member as a first year, so many people around her might think she was a genius as well, but she wanted to deny it. She didn't actually think that she was a genius, all she did was work harder than people expected her to. Even though she always felt that no matter how much she did she was always short of something, she still kept on working hard.

Layfon easily reached a level she could never reach no matter how hard she worked.

Even if that was the case, when people praised him, he accepted it unenthusiastically. He thought that it was something that was perfectly normal. He was a little proud.

After Layfon had taught her the basics to Kei, she felt it even more. Layfon was filled with an even greater aura that made everything he did seem perfectly natural for everyone else. Of course he would be like that.

Of course, he could do it all.

He never thought that he wouldn't be able to achieve anything.

If someone did point out a problem, he wouldn't accept it, as if he lost to someone else.

Perhaps Layfon was also aware that the things that he told others to do were a little difficult for them. That's what Nina felt. She couldn't complete the exercises Layfon had set for her, but she wouldn't feel impatient; she wouldn't start yelling curses at herself.

Even though he was proud, he wasn't indifferent.

(Ah, it really is...)

Nina mumbled again to herself in her heart, and then she renewed her training with the stances.

He was a hopeless genius,

hopelessly proud,

and hopelessly gentle.

When that bit of gentleness wasn't seen in his Military Arts, his whole being would seem completely unreliable, but when he did show it, it made one's chest feel tight just like that.

That sort of change was completely unbelievable, it seemed difficult to accept.

(Why...is it like this...)

Inadvertently thinking of this, Nina shook her head trying to chase the thought out of her head.

Now wasn't the time to be thinking about those things.

Why did Layfon make others think like this...it really is unbelievable, and

(It really does make people angry.)

I guess I'll try and see...thought Nina. No matter what, she wanted to try it out. No matter what it was that she could learn from him, she would try and learn it.

In order for her to protect this city, she had to turn his power into her own.

"Shu~~"

Remembering the cries of the evil beast, Nina was so terrified she nearly lost it.

"Ah, Nina."



After leaving the training area, Nina and Layfon walked towards the nearby shopping street. They had agreed earlier that they would go to a Military Arts specialist store and have a look around. They needed to resupply on the anti-slip perishables, as well as look at some other methods of training.

They were nearly at the large store when she was stopped by a call from Selina.

And then, there was that evil monster's cry.

"Wh-Why did you bring that to this kind of place?"

Nina protested with an expression of terror. The Devil's spawn named Steven was running around Selina in circles.

"Because I need to buy a leash for this child when we go out for walks, and I have to buy some other things that he needs" replied Selina awkwardly as she stood in front of a pet store.

"But in comparison...Nina, you..."

Selina smiled at Nina teasingly.

"Nina, you guys are getting pretty heated up over there, right?"

As she said this, Nina finally realized the situation that she was in.

"That..."

Layfon's awkward face was just in front of her.

"...Eh? Eh? Waa Waaaa!"

Noticing that she was tightly holding onto Layfon, she suddenly let go with a shriek. Her cheeks were burning hot. She knew that right now her face was probably beet red.

"No need to be shy."

"It's totally not what you think!"

Even as she said that with a red face, Selina pretended not to hear.

"Ah, Nina, I'm going to take Steven for a walk, so I'll leave these things for you to take home."

She forced the large paper bags she was holding onto Nina, and then leading Steven along she walked away.

"When we get back, I'm going to tell you all about what Steven did today."

"Wait..."

Eh, we have to buy things as well...Even though she wanted to say this, she knew that Selina wouldn't listen to what others say, and she was also slightly afraid of Steven, so she was unable to put up a more demanding front.

"...Do you hate animals?"

Layfon asked Nina as her extended hand dropped powerlessly to her side.

"It's not like that."

Looking at Selina's gradually shrinking shadow, her shoulders dropped powerlessly as well. Other than shake her head in helplessly, Nina couldn't do anything.

As a result, they had so many things that she was forced to ask for Layfon's help to carry it. No, it wasn't that Nina bought a lot of things, but it was Selina who actually bought too much.

"She didn't think of the consequences at all, geez."

Nina complained quietly, walking towards her dorm.

Even though this sort of thing happened, she still felt a little annoyed.

Today was really way too strange. She felt like she couldn't control her mood properly.

Layfon followed silently behind her. Layfon was holding what Selina bought for Steven. They didn't know what was inside, but it was surprising that to keep Steven she would need such a large thing.

Layfon noticed where Nina was looking, she was looking his way. The thing wasn't really heavy for a Military Artist, but it was still pretty big. Before she had seen through the thin gap in the paper bag, Layfon looked over and she turned around immediately.

After they arrived at the dorm, she placed the stuff they bought in the kitchen while Layfon sat in the drawing room waiting. Nina returned to her own room.

As she changed into her casual clothes, she thought about making some tea for Layfon. The snacks Selina had baked a couple of days ago still had many left over.

As she was changing, she couldn't help it and she started humming. She looked beside her bed.

Her bed was placed beside the wall, and next to it there was a windowsill. On the windowsill, Nina had left some miscellaneous items she had as a girl there as a decoration.

In the middle, there was something that felt different from normal. It was a blank, white space, there was a strange feeling.

"...Why?"

She stopped humming.

Something that was meant to be there was gone. She realized instantly that something was gone, that she was missing something. Thinking this... She calmly organized her memories again, and she looked around her room with a tense expression.

It really was gone.

Mitessha was gone.

Nina was feeling slightly dizzy, and she held onto the side of her desk to stop herself from falling over.

"Why...?"

Still carrying a feeling of uncertainty, Nina put on a serious expression as she went through her memories again.

This morning, her day had been completely messed up by that devil Steven, but before that, as Nina woke up she had placed Mitessha in his special place.

After that...What happened after that. Even though she wasn't too sure, but she couldn't remember moving Mitessha. She still remembered that to escape Steven she ran out of the room and quickly changed and left the dorm.

What did she do at that time? No, Mitessha should still be in the same spot.

She couldn't answer that question with her memories.

Which meant that something happened when Nina wasn't in the room. It was impossible for her to have moved Mitessha, so something or someone had moved her poor panda plushie.

As Nina was thinking about this, there was a light knocking sound at the door.

"Umm... senpai?"

On the other side of the door, was Layfon's voice. Right now Nina didn't have any time to spare to worry about Layfon.

"Ahhhh...I really am an idiot."

Making a cold sound that surprised even herself, Nina looked up. Layfon had opened the door and was looking over at her with surprise.

"Poor Mitessha, I just left him there and went out, I bet he hates me now."

"That...senpai?"

She understood that Layfon was calling to her, but if she didn't get her conclusion off her chest, she couldn't calm down.

"I really am an idiot. At that time, how horrified must he have been, as he saw his own death nearing. Even if it was like that, I still fell to my own fear, and left him behind and ran away myself. It's perfectly normal for me to be hated now."

"Senpai? Hello?"

"Mitessha couldn't move, so he lost his life and departed. I have to do everything in my power. If I don't correct my mistakes...yes, if I don't do that then..."

"Senpai? Please return to earth now..."

As he said this, Layfon gradually got further away from Nina. Nina was probably blaming herself for not taking responsibility.

"But Mitessha hasn't returned, has he?"

"Who is this Mitessha you're talking about?"

"I have to do it."

"Do what?"

Letting out a miserable cry, Nina had already lost all signs of answering Layfon.

"I'm home~"

A completely carefree voice came from downstairs.

It was Selina

That means, if Selina was here, that was here as well.

"Coming."

As Nina muttered to herself, she pushed Layfon out of the way and ran towards the front door.

"Wuu...isn't anyone home?"

At the front door, Selina was carrying Steven who was testing his claws and looking around the room. There was nobody on the first floor.

"And I thought Nina had come back."

Selina had already forgotten that Nina was afraid of Steven.

No, she actually thought that because of how cute the little thing was, that they definitely could make it up to each other and have a good relationship.

Selina thought of this as she heard footsteps upstairs.

"Ah, Nina thanks for carrying..."

Smiling like always, Selina was waving at Nina, then she froze.

Nina walked out with a scary expression on her face.

For some reason she was holding a pair of restored Dites...Metal whips.

"Nina...?"

CSR vol08 117.jpg

While she was still mumbling to herself, stunned, Nina had already walked over in front of her.

She didn't have time to be afraid. She stood up immediately, but as soon as she did, she got knocked over by a strong blast of wind.

"What are you doing?"

This time the person crying out was Layfon.

Why are you getting in my way?

Nina's eyes were shining fiercely.

Using his sword, he pushed back the metal whips, Layfon's back shaking slightly.

Nina's whole body was overflowing with Kei. Like a broken pipe. Even her breathing was mingled with Kei, as if she was fighting some monstrous being from a nightmare.

"Saying that I'm in your way..."

Layfon was shaking slightly as he replied.

"If I don't do this, Mitessha won't return."

"So that's why I'm asking, who is he?"

"Shut up!"

Nina roared as she rushed and pushed Layfon out of the way, getting closer to Selina yet again.

The target was the ferret Selina was holding on to.

"I'm going to take you down! I'm going to take back Mitessha!"

"Ah, I can't take it anymore."

Layfon went and whacked Nina's completely open back. He wanted to knock her out with that blow, so he adjusted his power accordingly. Nina was sent flying by this Kei-filled attack and she landed outside in the front garden.

Seeing Nina down, Layfon frowned. A Military Artist should be fine after that, but being forced to hit his senpai left a bad aftertaste in his mouth.

"What's wrong...?"

Asking Selina who stood there stunned, staring at the fallen Nina. The ferret she was holding in her arms was fidgeting a lot.

"I don't know what's going on either...what's Mitessha?"

"Eh? Mitessha? Mitessha is..."

Just as Selina was about to answer, Layfon felt a killing intent bubbling out from Nina.

"Is it..."

It really is.

"Mwahahahaha..."

Nina, who was supposed to be knocked out, stood up again and she was still releasing Kei like before.

"I'm sure I hit you with my Kei."

Why...as he was thinking, Layfon realized something.

"...Kongoukei?"

Is it? Successful? At this sort of time? In these circumstances?

"Mwahahahaha..."

"Eh~ No way!"

Facing Nina who was releasing a bestial killing intent and slowly closing in, Layfon felt somewhat powerless instead of nervous. How to say it, he wasn't exactly happy with the fact that Nina had grasped a technique he had taught her. Layfon had also experienced times where he couldn't use a technique but suddenly used it under pressure, but never in a situation like this.

"Return him."

Nina spoke in a human language, her two eyes drilling into the ferret.

"Ah."

Steven leaped out of Selina's arms.

"Trying to run!"

Nina started to run chasing after Steven who escaped from the front door into the front yard.

"Ah, ah...could it be...wai-wait!"

Looking like she suddenly remembered something, Selina went to chase after Nina and the ferret whose traces had since disappeared.

"I am going to take back Mitessha!"

"That's why I'm asking who the hell is he?"

There weren't many people about at dusk so Nina and Layfon's shouts reverberated in the air.

As the sun began to set Leu returned from the library, saw the front door wide open, and scowled.

"They really make people worry."

Leu went into the dorm shouting, "be a bit more careful next time" but nobody replied.

Such a worrisome thing as this must have been caused by Selina. She probably got carried away since Nina agreed to let her keep the ferret. If she didn't remind her properly...As she grumbled away to herself she walked up to her room.

"That's right..."

Remembering something, Leu went downstairs, into the drawing room. Both their common room and their drawing room were filled with piles of magazines the three bought.

Leu picked up the plushie which was placed in the corner of the sofa.

"If I don't put you back, Nina's probably going to go crazy."

Saying this to the panda plushie, she walked upstairs.

After Nina left, Selina and Leu wanted to see if Steven could actually catch mice, and placed him up in a place where there might be a nest in the ceiling. Even though he was surprisingly successful, Steven was treating catching mice like a game. With the ferret showing off his live catches to Leu in a self-satisfied manner, Leu could only sigh in resignation. Well, he did manage to catch the mice. Selina also said happily "Like this, I'm sure Nina will accept Steven now." But what would the final result be?

Well, why was Mitessha in the drawing room?

As they were looking for a way to get up into the ceiling from the second floor, they found that they could only go up to the ceiling from Nina's room. Even though Selina had the master key to all the rooms in the dorm, but she was still a bit guilty about just going into someone else's room. And she was going to bring a ferret which Nina hated into her room. Remembering Mitessha, and Nina's tragic past, they didn't want to put Mitessha with the ferret even for a second. That's why, Leu placed Mitessha into the drawing room with good intentions. But she ended up forgetting him there.

"But where did those guys disappear to?"

For some reason, the door to Nina's room was wide open, and placing Mitessha back into the room, Leu could only respond to her stomach's complaint with a sigh.

"Ahahahahah, what's wrong Layfon?"

"Ah! I can't take it anymore! Why did I have to teach you this move!"

As he fought Nina with his sword in the air, Layfon complained with remorse.

"Nina~~Listen to me~~" said Selina on the verge of tears.

By the time her words reached Nina's ears, it was because Nina was down on the ground with fatigue from using too much Kei, and night had long fallen.

From then on, whenever Steven saw Nina he would escape at lightning speed. Speaking objectively, this was a very strange occurrence.


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