Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume8 Post Epilogue Part 1
That night, Minse Eutnohl violently threw the thing beside him into the wall.
That happened to be a wooden table, which exuded extravagance and technology in both material and design. But with Minse's strength, the table collided with the sliding door with loud noise before it fell to the ground in pieces.
Even that wasn't enough to suppress the rage in his heart, but at least it was enough to temporarily quell his impulses. If he didn't do that, he definitely would have stormed into the palace and completely destroyed the ceremonial banquet which should be going on over there right now.
Not only that, he would also personally gouge out the pair of sleepy eyes which belonged to that poor looking brat who would be there.
The center of tonight's celebration was that child.
Minse was still very young—somewhere in his mid-teens.
But he was even younger.
That's why Minse was so angry.
Tonight, they were commemorating the birth of the twelfth Heaven's Blade Receiver.
That kid's name was Layfon Alseif. Since he became a Heaven's Blade, his name became Layfon Wolfstein Alseif.
"Why isn't it me?" complained Minse piteously. His long black hair grew in a featureless messy tangle.
The Eutnohl was one of the three Royal families in Grendan. The current Queen Alsheyra was of the Almonise family. The family that the King or Queen originated from was known as the current ruling house.
There were to be twelve Heaven's Blade Receivers, as there were only twelve blades made from the mysterious Grendan White Dite, known as the Heaven's Blades.
Before Alsheyra's reign, there were five Heaven's Blades Receivers. But now, all twelve had been gathered.
Minse believed that he would be the twelfth. The people also held such hopes for him. The last member of the three royal families, Ronsmier's Tigris had already taken the title of a Heaven's Blade Receiver. Queen Alsheyra was regarded as the strongest royalty in history, with the purest blood running through her veins in the Royal Families, one whose existence itself demanded it be shown off proudly. Naturally, it was expected that Minse, the head of the Eutnohl family, would take the twelfth Heaven's blade title. In fact, calling it his inheritance wouldn't have been an exaggeration.
But, reality wasn't like that.
Layfon Wolfstein Alseif. A member of the small school of Psyharden, an adoptive child, became the twelfth Heaven's Blade.
What's more was that Minse wasn't even given a chance to challenge Layfon.
"This is a conspiracy," moaned Minse.
What he said wasn't actually nonsense.
There was no doubt that the Almonise family and the Eutnohl family were the current ruling houses. More accurately, it was between the Eutnohl and Almonise families.
The three Royal Families wanted to protect the bloodline of the first King, and they wanted to make sure that any marriages would give birth to more Military Artists. The minimal requirement for a suitor was being a Military Artist. And from the aspect of retaining the purity of the blood from the first king, the suitor had to also be of royal lineage from one of the three Royal families. But purifying the bloodline too much could also lead to the passing on of inherent defects in the genes.
After much argument between the three families, they came to an agreement that every three generations, there would be an intermarriage between the three Royal families.
The current Queen Alsheyra was born of the Almonise and the Ronsmier families.
And her husband was supposed to be of the Eutnohl family.
He was Minse's brother.
No, he was originally supposed to act as a brotherly figure.
Currently, that brother no longer existed.
He had eloped with some ordinary woman.
Alsheyra had just smiled bitterly at the news, and her next suitor had yet to be decided.
If they went in order, then in theory Minse would have been offered to take the position. There were rumors among the citizens that Alsheyra couldn't forget about Minse's brother, and thus was delaying her decision.
And privately, she hated him who had thrown her away, which lead to her hate of the Eutnohl family.
Minse had believed those rumors.
Unfortunately, his bad luck didn't end with the rumors. His parents were also successively unlucky. His father died in a battle with a filth monster, and his mother died of sickness not long after.
And Minse became the head of the Eutnohl Family. Even though he still had many uncles, according to the laws of the three Royal Families, they were very far down the list as heirs. If the situation arose where Minse died, the person who would inherit the position as head of the family wouldn't be his uncles but a child of the current head of another royal family. And if Alsheyra didn't have any children, then the place would be taken by some child of the Ronsmier family.
Minse firmly believed that Alsheyra wanted to use some legitimate way to annihilate the Eutnohl family.
In order to prevent that from happening, it was imperative that he become a Heaven's Blade. It wasn't only to spread his name as a protector but to also show off his abilities as a descendant of the bloodline.
And when there was a Royal Family marriage where the suitor was not of the royal family, then the next suitors would be chosen from the Heaven's Blade Receivers. This way it was possible for him to reclaim the right as a suitor to the Queen and recover the status of the Eutnohl family.
However, he didn't get chosen for the twelfth spot. Alsheyra had taken away even the chance to show his strength.
This was a conspiracy.
Minse believed this without a shred of doubt.
"If it's like this, I also have my own means."
Sooner or later, Alsheyra was going to come to eliminate Minse. But he wouldn't be sitting, waiting for his demise.
"......It's not like you can't attack the royalty no matter what."
Things like the law have no power over people who have been driven into a corner. In order to live on, they will bare their fangs at anyone.
Minse had changed his mood for the better, but looking at his face from the side there was a miserable expression unfitting of his age upon his face.
She would only be happy on that day.
The following days, she was as busy as a bee.
"I really can't take this!"
The Psyharden dojo was not far from the orphanage and Leerin stood outside with her hands on her hips.
Only ten years old, she was a mid-level student in elementary school. She had a steady personality and could usually be found cooking in the kitchen. She wore clothes designed for work and ease of movement. Her hair was also appropriately tied up in a bun. Following the latest trends, the hair in front of her bun curled to one side.
Leerin was standing in the makeshift reception area of the dojo.
The second day since Layfon had become a Heaven's Blade Receiver, which was today, the dojo had become unusually busy. Psyharden Katana School's dojo was only an old small-scale dojo.
The number of students in the dojo was as small as the dojo itself. There were countless dojos like this in Grendan. All those that taught the katana couldn't be counted with two hands.
Of course, there weren't many that continued existing for a long time. Sometimes it was because the owner of the dojo died in a fight with a filth monster, and there weren't any successors. Some of the dojos fell into ruin after losing in fights with other dojos.
However, despite its size, the Psyharden Katana School dojo had a long history.
But it wasn't an exaggeration to say that the size of a dojo in Grendan represented its status.
A youth, who had been winning in official matches for two years straight, claimed victory yesterday in the Heaven's Blade Receiver selection matches and officially became the twelfth Heaven's Blade Receiver.
That youth belonged to the Psyharden School.
That is, this dojo located at the edge of the residence areas which was barely struggling by.
In the morning, before the doors of the dojo had even opened, there was already a long line of people outside the dojo hoping to get in. Leerin busily responded to them, and even though it was already past noon, there were no signs of there being an end to all this.
"Leerin, take this chance and have lunch."
In an attempt to take her mind off the annoying problem, a nearby person went behind the reception area, brought a pot and started cooking.
It looked like that there was no end to the people who wanted to join the dojo, and they weren't about to wait obediently in line either. They had obviously already gotten an admission slip but they still couldn't line up properly.
Looking at the scene, Leerin was stumped.
"I can't take this! I really want to just stay here instead," complained Leerin. She was drinking some warm milk, and had recovered somewhat.
Beside the reception area there were tables prepared by the street's residents.
It's just as it appeared; it's a small dojo, without many hands. The kitchen didn't have many staff either.
Seeing Leerin complaining, the person who was helping with the cooking started laughing. She was also a Nee-chan who grew up at the orphanage, and she had married recently, living the life of a newlywed.
"Well, it's not like you can do anything about this, with Layfon doing all that."
A Heaven's Blade Receiver. For the military artists of Grendan, that title held great meaning.
It was equivalent to being called the strongest.
Wanting to study at the same school that trained one of the strongest is perfectly logical.
Some famous examples would be the Luckens School, created by a Heaven's Blade, and Rivanes, the school for the successors of the three royal families. And there was also the dojo currently regarded as the most prosperous, Midknot.
Those three Military Arts schools all had current Heaven's Blades Receivers as students.
Although Grendan has twelve Heaven's Blades, it doesn't actually have twelve prosperous Military Arts Schools.
For example, the Psychokinesists. The only Psychokinesis user of all the twelve Heaven's Blades, Delbone, was the oldest of them all. There were legends that said that she had already been a Heaven's Blade for several decades, and that perhaps she would have to step down from her position soon. For Psychokinesis, the abilities required far outstripped those demanded of a normal Military Artist, thus there was no dojo which was open to take in disciples and teach them.
Another example would be Karen Kei. Troyatte represents this school in the Heaven's Blades. As it is also very hard to grasp, there are very few Military Artists who are willing to learn it.
Including these two, with the three mentioned above, and excluding Layfon, there were still six others.
Of the six, the one known as the strongest of the current Heaven's Blades, Lintence, wasn't born in Grendan. He was a military artist who was visiting from another city, and under the Queen's recommendation entered the selection tournament and became a Heaven's Blade Receiver. So if he did not found a dojo, then there was no way for him to pass on his techniques to anyone else, and he had no intentions of doing so.
As for the other five, none of them fitted into any specific dojo in Grendan, and like Lintence, none of them had any intention of starting their own dojo's either.
Putting all this into perspective, Layfon is the only Heaven's Blade Receiver to become one having learned only the Psyharden Katana techniques.
So, if one was part of the Psyharden dojo, one could become a Heaven's Blade Receiver.
Of course, that's what everyone thought.
"But the thing is......"
Leerin gazed across at the people who were hoping to gain entry after lunch break with mixed feelings.
Wasn't there anyone who felt suspicious?
Perhaps nobody had noticed the Dite that Layfon was holding in tournament?
That was a sword.
Psyharden was clearly a school which taught the Katana, not the sword.
Thinking back, it was the day before the decisive battle.
Inside the dojo, other than the caretaker, the two who had grown under the shelter of the Psyharden dojo; Derek and Layfon were completely alone.
The two were holding restored Dites. In Layfon's hand, was a sword.
"I'm sorry," said Layfon to a completely silent Derek. He then stored his Dite away and placed it in its sheath.
Leerin quickly realized the meaning behind it.
That was Layfon making it clear to Derek that he was giving up the way of the Katana.
And then, Layfon became a Heaven's Blade Receiver.
"Why would Layfon......"
Even now, she still hasn't asked him about it.
Until now, Leerin always thought that she knew everything about Layfon. They were the same age, and thus they were placed into the orphanage at almost the same time. And at the time, they were both infants.
Leerin was an abandoned child.
So was Layfon.
The two had been together since before they understood anything. At that time, they didn't know that they shared circumstances with the other. They also had many other siblings unrelated by blood in the orphanage. Some were abandoned as well. Others had both their parents die, and nobody adopted the children who were sent here. There were various circumstances.
She only recently found out that Military Artists very rarely gave up their children.
Perhaps there was some sort of relationship like that, but the chances weren't high.
Layfon treated Derek like his real father. And likewise, Derek treated Layfon like his own son. Of course, the other children in the orphanage also treated this kindly old Military Artist of few words as their own father.
But, Layfon was a Military Artist.
Everyone in the orphanage had their own surnames.
The ones who had last names kept them. Those who didn't know had Derek give them one. All the children were siblings who had grown up in the same circumstances together, but they wished that they could share their surname with someone else.
This felt somewhat lonely.
But it was also something they could do nothing about. Derek's last name was the same as the dojo that he was part of. Even though it was very small, even if a normal person carried the name of the dojo, it showed a deep connection with a Military Artist generations back.
Not knowing her two parents, Leerin obviously didn't know her surname either.
This also meant that Layfon might not have his own surname. Layfon Psyharden. This name wasn't too shabby.
As they continued on with their ordinary lives, perhaps it had also become reality.
Derek adopted Layfon officially, and was originally meant to be the heir to the Psyharden techniques.
But in his hands, Layfon was holding a sword.
She couldn't think of any reasons. She couldn't understand why Layfon would do this at all.
Leerin was very surprised that when it came to Layfon there were things about him that even she didn't know about.
Leerin turned around after suddenly being spoken to.
In front of the reception area was a youth who was slightly older than Leerin. He stood there with a very amiable smile, with very thin eyes framed by a pair of glasses, and a head of long silver hair.
"Excuse me, is this the Psyharden dojo?"
From his manner, it was obvious he came from a family of status.
"Yes, I'm sorry, if you want to enter the dojo please get out your entry ticket..."
"Ah, it's not like that." The youth simultaneously cut Leerin short and spoke to those who were lining up, showing he knew what was going on.
"The thing is, I'm a foreigner."
Foreigner here referred to those who came by roaming buses from other cities.
"I saw yesterday's match by chance, and I was very impressed, so I wanted to meet that Military Artist personally, and came here."
Leerin nodded her head and at the same time became slightly more alert.
"Of course, I am an ordinary person; I'm not seeking to get into the dojo through meeting him. I just want to meet him."
Again, the youth expressed his plans loudly. The hopefuls who were lining up to gain entry to the dojo realized that he wasn't there to cut in front of them and stopped caring about what he was trying to do.
Dealing with a person younger than him by about five years, he was always very courteous. And Leerin who was always praised by others for her maturity felt that this youth in front of her seemed even more like an adult than she was.
The second day after the banquet, they started preparations in order for Layfon to have the same uniform as the rest of the Heaven's Blade Receivers.
It seemed that the adjustments to the Heaven's Blade, the measurements to his special combat suit for use outside a city, etc. all needed confirmation.
Layfon said he had to temporarily stay in the palace for all those things.
They didn't know when the filth monsters would come and ambush them. And Grendan had much more run ins with filth monsters than normal. For a newly appointed Heaven's Blade Receiver, there wasn't any time for rest.
Hearing this, the youth nodded his head with some comprehension.
"It really is a pity, it seems I won't be able to meet him before my roaming bus leaves."
"It's ok, it's ok, not like you're at fault...... And anyway, this place is very welcoming to us foreigners. In the city I live in, any foreigners who wanted to leave their accommodations had to undergo a relatively thorough inspection, and it's been the same for almost every other city I've visited as well. This treatment really surprised me."
Perhaps this youth was talking to himself, or perhaps he was simply trying to tell someone else his surprising experience here.
That's why Leerin wasn't about to answer his query.
"I think it's because very few Roaming Buses come by here."
The youth reacted with a look of surprise in response to Leerin's answer.
"Eh? But, that can't be the only reason can it?"
"That...... We have to treat our guests with hospitality, hoping that maybe we'll get some sort of gift from the guests."
"If you put it like that, then I'm a complete cheapskate of a guest who doesn't remember any favors."
"Ah, that's not what I meant," Leerin explained hurriedly and stopped what she was doing, facing the laughing youth.
"Don't mind me, I was just joking."
"Thank you, even though it's a pity that I can't meet that person, I still met someone very interesting."
He was referring to Leerin.
The serious youth revealed another smile, making Leerin's face burn with redness. But this time, the youth took no notice to her reaction, and left after saying goodbye.
"......A strange person."
Reflecting on her judgment of the youth, Leerin returned her attention to her meal. There were still many people who wished to enter the dojo, and recording their names and addresses was something that Leerin didn't have a choice in doing right now.
As he smoked a cigarette, Lintence responded, "I refuse" to this completely uninteresting topic of conversation.
"Go tell them that this is what I said."
Lintence lived in the district in Grendan reserved for receivers of the Heaven's Blade.
The letter he was holding left his hand. The letter itself and the envelope it came in were in the same state as when he had received them: they were defying physics and were floating horizontally in the air.
As they reached the rubbish bin, they were shredded. They were shredded so finely that even those who were used to putting together jigsaw puzzles would have trouble reassembling it, his paranoia making it nearly impossible to restore.
The floorboard was creaking. The robust male who had brought the message shrank back and retreated a few steps in the face of Lintence's attitude, making the noise. It was the fate of an apartment that was built with cheap materials, and this was the sound of the floorboards aging.
With a pair of spiritless, unfriendly eyes coupled with messy, long, uncut hair and that lazy beard covering his chin, Lintence laid on the sofa. He wasn't looking at the messenger at all, instead staring at the smoke floating about in the room like mist.
Lintence uttered the short sentence as he exhaled more smoke. The messenger escaped out the door, the floorboards he stepped upon making more creaking noises.
The ashes descended towards a shirt full of wrinkles.
But before they could land on the shirt, they were sent to the ashtray in clumps.
The door was just left open like that, and outside the door near the stairs were sounds of people bumping into each other. The anguished cries of women, the panicked sounds of men, the sounds of people falling from the stairs, as well as the laughter which echoed from upstairs.
As Lintence mumbled to himself, the door moved to close itself.
At the same time, a hand stopped it.
And from behind it, came a surprised sound.
"Wow, the pathetic state you're in really is surprising. It's only been a week, so how the hell did you manage to make this room so messy? That's amazing in its own way."
Pulling open the closing door, the woman walked in without reserve as she looked about the room in a dazed manner.
The woman, dressed in a maid uniform, took out a vacuum cleaner and stood in front of Lintence in a proud pose.
She didn't look to be older than twenty.
But nobody knew her real age. Regardless, this woman often used her leftover Kei for an internal-type Kei to control her body at will. Changing her skeleton was a little difficult, so she couldn't change her height, but she could limit her own growth. At least since the many years ago he had first met her; her height and her visage hadn't changed at all.
"What? You can't take it if there isn't that much smoke in the air? You smoking addict."
Saying this presumptuously, that woman strode past Lintence and opened the windows. Fresh air rushed passed the woman and blew in, but Lintence's sharp sense of smell still detected the stink of the rubbish dump placed next door in the construction room.
"...I believe I told you sixty four thousand eight hundred seconds ago to leave me alone, Your Crappiness."
Lintence was still lazing on the sofa as before, but the window closed by itself, and the breeze stopped.
"If you've got a problem, then go find somewhere else to live. It's not like that will damage that icy attitude of yours. All the maids I assigned to work here all came to me one after another crying, pleading me to let them work somewhere else."
"So just leave me alone. We've already had this conversation thirty eight times."
"If a Heaven's Blade Receiver lives in a place like this, then the Almonise ruling house will be questioned by others. I wish you could at least make it a little tidier."
The woman dressed as a maid...... Her Crappiness...... Alsheyra Almonise opened the window yet again. This time it wouldn't be closed again. She removed all the steel threads wrapped around the window.
Seen from outside, a pair of hands darted about grasping at empty air. Alsheyra tossed the steel threads in her palm beside her. Those discarded steel threads silently returned to their owner.
"Where are the clothes I gave you? I think they should suit your tastes."
"You've watched too many yakuza movies."
"Look at that mean glare in your eyes. I'd like to see what kind of malicious being you are if you aren't some hoodlum."
As she said these rough words, she laughed gracelessly. Laughing, she kicked the accumulating pile of magazines with a well-rehearsed action and after finding the power cord, she connected the cleaner into the hidden socket and proceeded to turn it on. The unique noise of the vacuum cleaner filled the room.
"I want to kill you, you know."
Lintence muttered this quietly in the midst of the chaotic noise the vacuum cleaner was making.
"I know that" replied Alsheyra calmly. "You idiot, you really piss me off. You don't even know your place."
"For that, I became a Heaven's Blade Receiver."
"That's why I'm saying, an idiot really is stupid. You've already revealed your real self. Just like that, you've leaked the information."
"Surely there must be some Heaven's Blade Receivers who aren't satisfied with you?"
When Lintence became a Heaven's Blade Receiver, there were some who expressed their disapproval.
Lintence wasn't actually the first foreign Military Artist who became a Heaven's Blade Receiver in Grendan.
However, such Military Artists usually appeared about once in every King or Queen's rule.
There had never been a person like Alsheyra who gave Heaven's Blades en masse to foreigners.
Of course, it was natural for the higher ups of the traditional Military Artists in Grendan to be offended by these actions.
As for the isolated city, information from outside cities took relatively high priority. Technology too, took high priority, along with expansion of the gene pool. They welcomed everything other than illnesses. But all these things needed time to fit together, and this was the new problem which this city was facing.
First was Lintence, then it was Cauntia and Reverse's combination. Suddenly three foreign Military Artists had become Heaven's Blade Receivers. Even though survival of the fittest was the Military Artists' motto, they weren't very pleased about this.
"So what." Showing no signs of wavering, Alsheyra, who continued to ponder, calmly went on.
"There's no problem with them harboring discontent. If they don't like it, there's no problem either. If they have any problems then it's good if they tell me and don't hold back. Even if I am royalty, I'm merely the descendant of the bloodline of one of the strongest families in Grendan. If you think you're strong, then do your best to do something. Keeping them all in line is my job. As for any disobedient little dogs, giving them the punishing whip is the job of the master. That's all there is to it, is it not?" declared Alsheyra as she cleaned the room with the vacuum cleaner.
It didn't fit her maid uniform. As he thought that, Lintence cracked a smile, looking at her face from the side.
She was a Queen at birth. She was the strongest at birth. This woman's behavior gave off an aura of splendor, totally out of tune with the obedient feel of her maid uniform.
"Well, just let me look forward to what sort of a song an idiot can sing. It's been really boring recently. I wanted to bully the new gentleman, but it seems he's not strong enough yet. Lin, can you go train him?"
"Well, I guess that'll be interesting."
Lintence had also watched yesterday's finals. But he only watched the opening ceremony and the participants before returning. For him, that was more than enough to predict the results.
And he didn't guess wrong.
"Oh? That was really unexpected. I thought you would decline."
"That's because he's very good at learning from others. I just want to know if he really has such a talent, so I'm going to go test him."
"Ah, I see. That will be very interesting," whispered Alsheyra interestedly, laughing. "There have been many like him. Children who sealed their weapon of choice and techniques while still becoming a Heaven's Blade Receiver."
"Anybody could do that."
"But they wouldn't do it like this. This is the nature of Military Artists, is it not?" replied Alsheyra quickly.
She revealed an expression as if Lintence had fallen for her tricks, and Lintence responded by closing his two eyes, as if an attempt to isolate himself from the noise of the vacuum cleaner.