Horizon:Kimitoasamade 4A Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Panicked One in the Testing Room
Huh, huh, huh?
Point Allocation (Incandescence)
“Ga-chan? It’s almost 6. The morning bell is ringing, so you need to wake up.”
A voice spoke in a wood-floored room.
It was Naito’s voice. The 10 square meter room had a wide loft bed near the ceiling.
Two desks were installed side by side on the opposite wall. In the back was an oven burner capable of cooking Technohexen food and the pot on the burner was boiling water.
In front of that pot, Naito was wrapped in a blanket and removing the bandage from her left hand. The Asama Shrine bandage now lying on the desk had spell charms woven into it and the white cloth still had some ether light in it.
"Ohh, we can still use this..."
When she saw the glowing bandage, Naito thought, Asama-chi sure is considerate.
...Cleaning up the shrine grounds isn't enough to make up for this...
She felt pathetic when she realized they also owed Asama for the location and for feeding them. They had mostly just gone with what worked at the moment that evening, so...
The water had boiled, so she poured it into a washtub.
"How are you feeling?"
She looked up to the top bunk.
There was a ladder leading to that bed. It was usually moved aside since they rarely used it, but a butt was currently descending it.
The black-winged figure was wrapped in a blanket. Both the wings and the blanket hid her body, but when descending a ladder backwards, the swaying of her wings gave occasional glimpses of her butt.
That could easily be summed up as "cute", but there was something about it that made Naito stare.
Also, Naruze was not using her left arm.
"Are you okay, Ga-chan?"
"I jumped down like usual on the first day and just about died from the pain on impact, but today I'm doing better than yesterday. I think I can manage."
She looked back and smiled a little when she saw Naito's spread hand.
"Asama always works to help us out without even thinking about the cost, doesn't she?"
Naito stuck her hand in the washtub while watching Naruze reach the floor and approach.
Her hand had been bandaged up for about three days, so not only did it need washing, but...
"Ohh, it itches so bad."
"Yeah, the circulation was cut off, wasn't it?"
"It feels like my finger bones are stuck together. If I bend them...ow, ow, ow, ow."
When she suddenly bent the fingers, they felt like they were breaking. But...
"Oh, the back of the hand is okay though."
When she opened and closed her hand side to side instead of top to bottom, feeling gradually returned to her fingertips. Her pale hand quickly regained its color.
"Did the bandage have a divine protection for stabilizing circulation?"
"I think it might have," said Naito as she lifted her hand from the hot water.
She could move it. It was awkward and slow, but her will could definitely reach it.
She used her right hand to cover her left hand and bend the fingers. That made her left hand feel like she had grabbed a bunch of needles. The joints protested and provided pain to tell her not to bend them any further.
But she bent them anyway.
The joints moved. She heard a small pop and they bent.
She straightened them again and she could move them. It was slow, but more than before.
"Margot, you're sweating."
She looked back to see Naruze holding a handkerchief. Her body relaxed as Naruze wiped off her forehead.
"Ga-chan, I can see your boobs."
"Want to see mine?"
"Don't force yourself."
She felt like Naruze was making an assumption there, but she also felt like Naruze was not. Maybe I just want her to pamper me, she analyzed, but that thought itself may have been a way of distracting herself from her tension.
Her left hand started feeling chilled again, so she soaked it in the hot water and felt the itchiness reach the very core this time.
"You can move it, can't you?"
Naruze was right. She could move it top to bottom now.
She moved the fingers in a slow but spider-like way and then sighed.
She realized the water did not feel as hot as when she started. Which meant...
"Okay, looks like I'm doing better now."
"Then help me out," said Naruze with a smile as she removed the blanket from her shoulders. "I can't soak this in hot water, though."
"Don't you think we could use a heating spell to make a hot wet towel?"
"Probably, but I don't want to do the first experiment here. If I free my arm and keep it in a sling, I should be able to move it by the time the exams are over at the academy."
She looked to a corner of the room.
Their brooms and the instruments they had borrowed from the Asama Shrine were there.
"It's finally time. I'm betting Wild Kamelie will make her move once the festival begins, but before that..."
Naruze waved the left shoulder of her blanket toward Naito.
"Will you help me get dressed?"
Below the white sky of the stealth barrier surrounding the Musashi, P-01s watched the movement of several winds.
This was her morning tuning. She would sing at the graveyard and then return.
As she walked from Okutama to Tama, she passed by a linked series of carts, laborers carrying things, and gods of war hurrying to their posts.
At one point, a female god of war wearing red armored clothing cut across in front of her.
A wagon that was passing by crashed into a nearby water bucket. The bucket split open, the water splashed out, and the wagon's load of wood spilled out. More importantly, after gathering everyone's attention...
"You moron! Look where you're going! Were you distracted by the Suzaku's ass!?"
"Not its ass! It's panties!"
"Those aren't panties..."
P-01s thought to herself as she listened to the laughter and the leaving god of war's footsteps.
...I am glad everything is so lively this morning.
Just like her, these people had to be moving about in the morning to optimize themselves.
They could sort through their memories while sleeping, but this was about optimizing themselves for their daily life the following morning.
...You can only do that after waking up.
There was no difference between those who stayed silent and those who spoke.
It could only be done by waking up in the morning and moving around. Also...
The wind was blowing.
Some people had watched that commotion from the sky.
It was the delivery Technohexen and the other travelers of the sky. Some of them did work for the Blue Thunder. The standard deliveries of flour or fruit were done on land, but they would use the air route if they ran out and needed more in a hurry.
Those people flew along as the wind blew.
...Come to think of it...
"I have not seen Maruze-sama or Marzet-sama since they were at the cafe the other day."
She had seen them before that visit. She had only learned their names on that visit, but since arriving on the Musashi, she would occasionally see those combinations of gold and black or black and white, which was all very confusing.
"Which one is which?"
She had asked the manager about it before:
"Um. I sometimes see these gold and black girls in the sky and they are so easy to get confused."
"Oh, them? You can tell them apart by the chest."
The fact that that worked showed just how well-made Musashi's boobs caste system was.
Based on the customers she had seen, Asama of the Asama Shrine was at the top.
...And I think Kimi-sama would come next.
The color black flew by overhead.
It was not someone she recognized.
...But her speed rivals or surpasses Nargot-sama's.
The Technohexen was flying toward the bow.
P-01s looked back, but her eyes could not keep up.
She came to a stop and looked past the building roofs.
"Is that zwoosh how she optimizes herself in the morning?"
P-01s resumed walking toward Tama.
Mornings at Musashi Ariadust Academy began at 8:30.
After calling role and a quick homeroom, the first class began. From there, it was a series of 50-minute classes and 10-minute breaks, but...
"Okay, this is the last day of exams, so stay focused and make it through to the end."
Class 2-Plum was in full attendance and their homeroom teacher's voice rang through the classroom.
She wore a track suit, placed the exam papers on the lectern, and bent forward to look at them all.
"First up for today will be health/PE."
"Teacher Oriotorai. May I ask something?"
It was a tall boy on the front row who raised his hand. He asked his question without lowering his hand.
"Can I buy the answers with money?"
"Shirojiro, I'll overlook that since you were so upfront about it, but I didn't make this exam."
"Are you saying money would be sufficient if you had made the exam?"
"I suppose it would be fine if it was an exam to see if you could get by in life."
"Judge." Shirojiro lowered his hand. "I will remember that."
"He's serious..." muttered the disturbed class, but their homeroom teacher only smiled a little.
"Well, since we have health/PE and classical literature today, this should be the easier of the two. Oh, but you will have to draw some diagrams, so you can use the divine network for this one."
"What's this, Mitotsudaira? Do you want to make the exam harder?"
"Um, no," said Mitotsudaira with a shake of the head.
She had no objection to an easier exam. But...
"That is an awfully big favor you're doing us."
Oriotorai nodded at that expression of surprise.
"Yeah, but it looks like it's covering material past what we've covered."
Makes sense, thought Mitotsudaira as she saw movement out of the left corner of her vision.
Adele was gesturing toward her from the second row.
She seemed to be saying, "Keep this going!"
Adele was Catholic. Her sign frames could connect to Musashi's divine network, but she would need to set things up right. Masazumi had a different problem here, so she raised her hand.
She did not even have a sign frame contract, so Asama immediately raised her hand as well.
"Masazumi, I'll give you a guest sign frame, so use that. ...Just write your name in the first entry field."
After a single clap, Hanami made a tossing motion and a sign frame appeared in front of Masazumi.
It asked her a question:
<Who the hell are you?>
Masazumi turned to look their way, so Asama and Mitotsudaira both nodded.
"It's asking for your name."
Masazumi began typing with her index fingers. She hesitated a bit with the kanji conversion, but managed.
<...Hmm. ...So whaddya want?>
"Divine transmission! Divine transmission, Masazumi!"
<Ho ho? And you expect me to believe you're not here to see my daughter?>
What on earth is this? wondered Mitotsudaira just before Asama explained.
"Oh, sorry. I sent you one in anti-stalker mode. During the Heian period, there were a lot of people who would come to the gate with tears staining their cheeks who claimed they would die if they could not see the god, so the settings are pretty strict."
"Give a normal one to a beginner!!"
Mitotsudaira could not agree more. But that had apparently bought them enough time. Adele gave her and Asama a thumbs up, but Asama only looked confused. Mitotsudaira smiled at how Asama nodded despite also tilting her head.
Then the exam papers were passed out.
This was the health/PE exam.
After this and the classical literature exam, they would only have the Spring School Festival to look forward to.
Mitotsudaira had a thought as she watched everyone put away their study notes and textbooks and then open their sign frames.
...In a way, this is where our second year will truly begin...
Mitotsudaira flipped over the exam paper.
They only had to wait until Oriotorai said "begin", but there was movement around her.
...How is this going to turn out?
Midterm exams had a large effect on their final grades. They were an important event for marking out their lives as students.
If "time" for a student was seen as a collection of official records, then exam results were what gave shape to that.
Of course, they had even more forms of records if their club activities, committee activities, the Student Council, or the Chancellor's Officers were included, but grades really were the definitive records for all students and those were formed from the exams.
These exams marked the end of the first term that had begun their second year. They also led into the Spring School Festival which ended with the Gagaku Festival, so...
...You can really feel the flow of time.
She had a feeling she had wanted that in the past.
She had wanted to grow up and she had wanted to rid herself of who she had been.
But that had somewhat changed more recently. She now wanted to "take action" as soon as possible.
A king and a knight.
But the king had yet to take action.
The most he was doing was showing interest in that Blue Thunder automaton. Mitotsudaira could tell his interest came from a forward-looking perspective and not a backwards-looking one, but...
...Has he forgotten his promise with me?
She hated how she was so clearly pouting. A knight was not supposed to let such emotions get the better of her.
But, she prefaced in her heart.
How long am I supposed to wait?
The business she had started was doing well recently and she was gaining more opportunities for socializing. That was thanks to her connection with Hexagone Française and her provisional status as 1st in line to ruling the Far East. Because Matsudaira Motonobu, the Far East's ruler, was still alive, that was a delicate issue that could not be addressed too openly, but there were corporations and individuals secretly working to establish a connection with her.
She was starting to wonder why she bothered implicitly deterring and rejecting those things.
...I wish he would look my way more often.
And just as she thought that...
The Cerberus on her head barked.
Was she trying to cheer her up? But the bark rang loud through the quiet classroom.
That comment to everyone's gathered attention allowed her to break free of her own negative thoughts.
I need to change my focus, she thought.
Time would continue to pass. If nothing happened, you could call it a standstill, but that also meant it had not ended.
When she bowed toward the others, she glanced over and saw him looking out the window.
The 2nd year classrooms were on the 3rd floor of the rear school building, so they had a good view of the sky.
But Musashi's sky was covered by the stealth barrier.
Even so, he was staring intently at that sky beyond the Techonhexen, other delivery workers, and transport ships.
...How does he see it?
Was he motionlessly waiting for something to happen, like she was?
Or was he planning to do something?
Then she heard a voice: Oriotorai's.
Asama opened a sign frame as soon as the exam began.
According to Oriotorai...
"I'm blocking any divine mails or similar communication methods. And I'll set an alarm with the classroom divine protection. Um, Asama, no deactivating this no matter how nicely they ask, okay?"
"Eh? Oh, yes. Of course!"
As proof, she altered the classroom divine protection settings herself. Specifically, for any personal communications.
"If you try any of that, it'll make a weird yell, so be careful, everyone."
She opened a sign frame saying "Forbidden" up in the air.
But doing that had somewhat delayed her start.
She glanced over and saw the others hunched over their exam papers. Some of them had sign frame light shining on them, so they must have been searching something on the divine network.
...I need to hurry.
This was the health/PE exam. They had studied for this the night before after coaxing Kimi into it.
Disease treatments, the purpose of the family, and other things were generally asked in essay questions. And "explaining" things like that was Asama's specialty.
So after writing her name, she looked to the first question.
She looked down and read the handwritten text.
<Question 1: What different types of male-female combination techniques are there? Give their names and a simple explanation.>
Suzu heard an odd noise.
It was too short to be a breath. As a sound effect, it would probably be presented as "Gulp...!" That "...!" seemed important. But was there anything to gulp about here? Also...
Her ears detected Asama with both elbows up on the desk.
The slight heat source revealed that her body temperature had quickly dropped and then even more rapidly risen.
Why was that?
Had something happened?
But Suzu could not say anything. They were taking an exam.
Instead, she only thought to herself while reading the exam paper with the reading pen attached to Noise Neighbor.
...They can't ask this, can they!? They just can't!
What different types are there? What is that supposed to mean?
And give their names? Like, the names of the techniques...or the positions I guess they would be?
...A simple explanation?
Like the positions you take? The movements you make? Or the end result?
Asama concluded this could not be right, so she raised he hand.
"Oh? What is it? Did someone break the rules? But I didn't hear a weird yell alarm. Did they receive a physical punishment?"
Hearing that, the idiot shot to his feet.
He spread his legs and held his butt from the front and the back to check.
"I-it's still alive...!"
A sheathed long sword flew over and hit him.
The idiot flipped once and everyone made an "ahh..." face.
While she walked over to collect her sword, Oriotorai turned toward Asama with a smile.
"Did something happen?"
"No. It's just this exam." She tried asking. "Are you...sure this is what we're supposed to be tested on?"
"Judge, I am."
Oriotorai did not hesitate to answer. She picked up her sword and kicked the idiot and his chair back upright.
"Although it does cover some material we didn't get to yet."
Asama indeed did not remember covering this in class.
But if that was how it was, then that was how it was.
Asama weakly slumped back in her chair.
She had to do this.
Masazumi focused on Asama as she operated the borrowed sign frame.
Asama, who was Masazumi's divine transmission sponsor, seemed a little out of it, but she soon got back to her exam paper.
...Does Asama like this kind of thing, even though she's a shrine maiden?
Masazumi tilted her head and looked back to her exam paper since she could hear Oriotorai walking back to the front of the classroom.
She focused on the first question.
<Question 1: What different types of male-female combination techniques are there? Give their names and a simple explanation.>
Asama considered the question.
Combination techniques. She was supposed to provide some different types and she could think of some examples.
In Shinto, having many offspring was encouraged. When Izanagi and Izanami, who had created the Far East in the distant past, had split up due to one hell of a fight, Izanami had become history's first monster woman and made an announcement:
"I'm gonna kill 1000 people every day. I'm totally gonna do it."
And Izanagi had given his response:
"I'm gonna make 1500 new people every day~ I'm totally gonna do it~"
Some saw that as Izanagi announcing that he was going to cheat on her like crazy, but it was also accepted as a story that encouraged population growth.
...In the Sim Heian game, you have to increase your population by 500 every day, which is not easy.
Moving the Izanami slider toward the "castration" side would reduce that number and make your residents go to sleep earlier, but then their stress would build up. And as someone training in Shinto, Asama wanted to avoid messing with the settings of the gods.
But even with that encouragement and even with Shinto's many available genres, there was no clear statement on what "combination techniques" were superior or common.
...N-normally, you do it like that, right?
Even in the exam question, male-female was written with the character for "man" on top. Yes, that's how it works. The language is subliminally instilling us with knowledge of combination techniques. But I mustn't think about the character for "torment". The woman is sort of the core system for that combination.
But, thought Asama.
Is it really right for the man to be on top like in "male-female"?
She had a question about the combination process.
Considering how Part A had to combine with Part B, the combinations were generally divided into vertical and horizontal combinations. Diagonals did not come up much.
And if you limited your focus to just the combining parts, the combinations were almost all horizontal. There were vertical ones, but there was little variation there and the direct exposure to the effects of gravity probably made those difficult for beginners.
So if she looked at the "the character for man on top of the character for woman" structure as a horizontal combination, what did it represent?
When drawing a diagram while looking at it from above, the front end was the viewpoint.
In this case, the character for woman was in the front, so...
...It's from the woman's point of view...!
Mitotsudaira heard Asama's chair move from some reflexive action of hers.
What could have surprised her like that? It reminded Mitotsudaira of something Neshinbara often did.
...It was like she was shouting "What...!?"
Had she made some kind of strange discovery?
This was the health/PE exam. That should have been easy for Asama. That felt like an assumption, but Mitotsudaira also did not see how she could be wrong.
At any rate, she thought while filling in her exam sheet.
That was a close one, thought Asama while mentally sweating.
She had nearly fallen for a simple trap.
Yes, the Testament described a world of male domination and female subjugation, but equal rights for men and women had been the norm since the Age of the Gods. So when discussing combinations, wasn't it best to view it from the perspective of the one who would carry the greater burden afterwards?
Asama started thinking up a simple explanation to give, but she was not confident she could convey this properly without a diagram. And if she got too lurid, her exam paper would have to be restricted to adults only.
Also, her feminine heart wanted to obscure the emotional side and convey things as cutely as possible.
That's right, she thought.
...It might be best to compare it to cute animals.
So she began writing her example using animals.
"First, the woman gets on all fours like a dog."
...This is already sounding lurid! Shinto why!?
The whole idea was for the animal comparison to make it sound cuter, so what was this?
Besides, that was not the combination she should be writing about first. With combinations from behind, she had heard it was hard for the controllers of Part A and Part B to match their speed since they could not see each other's faces.
...They need to be facing each other. I need to start with one of those!
But she probably did need to check on the "from behind" types. Because...
...There are people like Mito.
Mitotsudaira was a Loup-Garou. She was Shinto, but that was partially because Shinto had accepted her style. Shinto was accommodating. Not lax, accommodating.
So in Mitotsudaira's case...
Was she answering her exam using "from behind" combinations?
Mitotsudaira felt an odd gaze on her from behind and to the right.
That was near where Asama sat.
...It's Tomo, isn't it?
She had noticed Asama was no longer moving, but when she glanced over her shoulder, it looked like the shrine maiden was staring at her.
...Wh-what is this about?
Did she want some kind of help?
But they were taking an exam and Asama was not the type to try to cheat.
So Mitotsudaira lightly touched the Cerberus on her head.
"O-oh, what's the matter?"
...That was such an obvious act...!
She pretended the Cerberus was falling backwards so she could look back. And...
Mitotsudaira saw it in that instant.
Asama was facing her and miming grabbing at something from the left and right in front of her hips.
Based on the exam questions, that was probably meant to be holding someone from behind while they were on all fours.
So Mitotsudaira lowered her head while placing the Cerberus on her desk.
...I knew it!
Asama was deeply grateful to Mitotsudaira as she faced her exam paper once more.
...Thank goodness she's a dog!
No, that's not right. Well, it is, but I need to calm down some.
Besides, she could not use a dog. Or a cat. Those had too much of a greedy image. She needed an animal with a cleaner sort of virility. Yes, like...
"If the man is like a horse..."
She could not use a cow either. Cows were especially off limits. It would not be fair to Adele.
And she had to rule out goats and sheep because that felt like heading in a weird direction.
How about a smaller animal that would fit in her palm?
No. Definitely no. And a green turtle? Does it have matcha all over it or something?
Besides, she seemed to be straying from the woman's viewpoint idea. But if she was sticking with the animal swim team...
"The woman lies like a frog on its back."
She just about laughed out loud at the thought and she wondered if she could get through it all with animal comparisons. No, probably not.
She felt like the entire animal plan had failed.
Suzu sensed Asama continually writing, erasing, and sighing.
She seemed to be really enjoying what she was writing, but she also showed signs of astonished depression partway through writing whatever it was. That made it difficult to figure out.
But after a few repetitions of that cycle, she seemed to arrive at the right answer.
She finally sighed and muttered to herself.
"Yes, it's only humans that do this."
Suzu gave a silent nod of agreement. She was fairly certain it was indeed only humans that "did this". But...
She heard Asama break her cokepen.
After collapsing onto her desk, Asama pulled a new pen out of her pencil box.
Then she moved onto the second question.
<Question 2: What kind of technique is "The Sailboat". Draw a diagram.>
"Oh, Asama? Why are you bumping your chair around again?"
Masazumi heard Asama give an "ah" of surprise after partially standing up.
Asama waved her sleeves and hands around behind her.
"Um, I-I was just prepping myself to answer a difficult question. Ah ha ha ha."
Asama sat back down while dryly laughing.
Masazumi realized no one else was reacting to that action or sound.
...So is this normal?
With that thought, she looked at the second question.
<Question 2: What kind of technique is "The Sailboat". Draw a diagram.>
What kind of technique was that again?
...I-I know this one! I do! It has to be that one, right!?
Asama quickly began drawing the diagram.
After drawing the upper body of the woman lying on her side, Asama realized something.
...I'm clearly just drawing myself here.
And it's actually a really good drawing! she added, but Naruze's was probably far better. But, she thought while looking at the drawing of her face. I should probably do the expression right.
How well could she draw that kind of expression on her own face? Well, I'm an amateur, so you can't expect too much from me. Plus...
...No one's looking in a mirror...
That was probably because it would look like they were trying to copy off of the person behind them.
So Asama set to work on the version of herself on the paper.
...W-would it be...like this?
She felt like she had drawn too many slanted blush lines on her cheeks, but it was within the margin of error. However...
She was pretty sure she knew what that was.
Before, the girls had been going a little nuts over a women's magazine with an article on that kind of thing. That had ended badly since Kimi had grabbed Asama's body between her legs and shouted "Like this!? Like this, right!?", but amazingly, that experience was coming in handy here.
After she finished drawing the Part A on her side with legs spread, she started drawing the Part B, but she suddenly stopped.
There was no mistaking the drawing of the man.
It was him.
She had probably just subconsciously drawn a familiar face and it would have helped that the male body she drew with feminine lines resembled his bodylines a fair bit.
What am I doing? she wondered, but it was too late to redraw it now. That would ruin the drawing's balance.
Besides, this was an exam. Meaning...
...Yes, only our teacher will see it, so it'll be fine!
And I'm a shrine maiden while he's a nudist pervert. Our shticks don't work together at all.
That's right. This is nothing more than me using him as a sample nudist when drawing someone in the nude. What's wrong with drawing a nudist when nudity is called for? Right?
...So there's nothing wrong with this at all!
But she started feeling uneasy after finishing the drawing.
She began wondering if this was right.
This was The Sailboat she remembered and she was confident about that, but it was worth checking.
She opened a sign frame and made a search on the divine net.
She made sure to add the keyword R-Genpuku, switch the "moral restrictions" to off, and select the image search.
And from the very first result...
She was wrong.
"Oh, Asama? Why are you bumping your chair around again?"
Asama gave Oriotorai some dry laughter and then collapsed onto her desk.
Then she lowered her head between her elbows until her forehead reached her chest.
...I was wrong!?
What she had thought was The Sailboat was actually a pine-style technique.
The Sailboat was much more acrobatic. There was simply no way the human body could pull that off, so she was fairly certain it would require gravitational control. But...
This was something that would test your knowledge. The correct answer would be hard to imagine from the name.
So Asama took a breath and refocused her mind.
She did not like the idea of completely redoing all that work, but if she did not earn enough points here, she might not be able to perform in the Gagaku Festival.
She had to do it.
So she grabbed her compressed bread to erase her previous masterpiece. But...
That image of her and him was so well composed that it felt like a shame to erase it.
"Ah? What is it, Asama?"
"Can I take a picture of my exam paper?"
"For comparing answers afterwards? Then go ahead."
Asama thanked Oriotorai and took a commemorative photo. Everyone else did the same thing. Since Adele clenched her right fist toward Asama below her desk but without looking back, that must have been a good idea.
Asama then worked at erasing the combination diagram using the compressed bread.
It would not erase. No matter how hard she rubbed at it...
...I-it isn't erasing?
Wondering if it had been locked down, she pressed the upper right corner of the exam paper, but then she realized something: This isn't a sign frame. Which meant...
She was not holding a cokepen. She was holding a Western pen that used permanent ink.
She had forgotten she had pulled that out after breaking her cokepen earlier.
She could not erase it.
Writing down the wrong answer was fairly common, but drawing out the wrong combination had to be pretty rare.
She had no choice but to start blotting it out.
...U-umm, I'll start with the combination area. ...Wait, now it just looks like a censorship bar!!
That was the wrong approach. She had to cover up all of it.
Diagonal lines were not enough. She had to blot out the entire thing. But that was a large area for such a small pen tip. However...
The smell of ink wafted up as she blotted it out. She was thorough, to ensure none of her drawn lines would show through.
...O-okay, now to actually get started!
She finally got to work on the second question.
Mitotsudaira finished answering and took a breath.
The exam had been unexpectedly easy. Their teacher may have been being kind to those of them participating in the Gagaku Festival or helping out with the other festival activities. But…
She had heard Asama writing away on her exam paper for a while now.
She seemed to be taking this very seriously. She was positioned at a shallow angle diagonally back from Mitotsudaira, so it was easy to take a casual glance back. By pretending to look after the Cerberus, she peeked back and saw Asama completely hanging her head and blushing as she worked.
But then someone took a sudden action. It was Oriotorai.
She checked the wall clock and then clapped her hands twice.
“Okay, let’s end the exam there.”
Asama gasped as she snapped out of her focused state of mind.
…Th-that was fast!
She had answered all ten questions. The three-person and four-person combination questions had been difficult and she was still not sure if she should have used people she knew just because they were easier for her to draw. All of them but him were girls, but they essentially had a mental one of those, so it worked out.
The last question asked for the meaning of combinations.
“S-Sensei, wait just a second!”
“You sure are causing trouble with this one.”
Asama ignored that and wrote down the last part of her answer.
“Consent between both parties is key.”
…That should about do it.
She sighed, set down her pen, and faced forward. She saw the wall clock there.
Only 20 minutes had passed since the start time.
A single period was 50 minutes, so that was less than half the time. So why was the exam already over?
“U-um, Sensei, did you read the time wrong? Only 20 minutes have passed.”
“That’s right,” said Oriotorai. “This is the health/PE exam, so it’s split into two different exams. This was the PE one.”
Asama felt like she had taken a serious misstep, but she decided to ask anyway.
“About this exam…aren’t combination techniques…taking it too far?”
“Oh, yeah.” Oriotorai opened a sign frame showing the fall schedule. “The questions about the group gymnastic formations done at the fall athletic festival, right? It looks like they threw those on the exam since there wasn’t much else to ask about, but it was moving ahead too far.”
Asama grew borderline unresponsive and Oriotorai nodded.
“Okay, time to hand in your exams. Going by class number, Asama would be first.”
Mitotsudaira saw Asama tear her exam to pieces.
More than panicked, she seemed like she had no choice but to tear the paper into tiny, tiny pieces, so Mitotsudaira asked what this was about.
“T-Tomo!? What’s the matter!? Is it your usual sickness!?”
“Huh!? Did you just say something awful!?”
Asama looked back, but she continued tearing apart the paper as she did.
Finally, she seemed to realize everyone was focused on her. She gathered up the shreds of paper on her desk and frantically covered them up with her arms.
“U-um, I found a wicked thoughts mysterious phenomenon, but I managed to seal it up!”
“Y-yes! That’s right! A bit of that one from the other day got into the classroom, yes! So I sealed it in my exam paper and tore it apart!”
Someone nodded at Asama’s explanation: Oriotorai.
She glared at her student.
“Ah, wh-what is that look for, Sensei!?”
“So, Asama. …What was that photo you took earlier for?”
Asama definitely froze in place for five seconds.
Then she got up with sweat covering her face.
“Th-that was to photograph the process of capturing the wicked thoughts. I thought I could use that as proof that I had captured it!”
“Ho ho. Then could you let me see that photo?”
Asama froze in place for another five seconds.
And just as she started again with another “um”…
Someone spoke from behind her.
That was exactly who had raised his hand.
Mitotsudaira looked back to see a serious look on his face.
“I though this exam was asking about that kind of combination and I went all in on drawing the diagrams, so how many points can I get for effort!? They’re even uncensored!”
A long sword flew and sent the idiot flying.
While the idiot flew, Asama stuffed the shredded exam paper up her sleeve.
But then a small object struck the left side of her head.
It was a paper airplane. She looked over and saw it had to have come from Kimi.
What is this about? she wondered as she caught it before it reached the ground. She unfolded it to read what it said:
She wrote “No!” and threw it back, but the girl narrowed her eyes in a smile and waved a hand back and forth. As if to say she need not pretend.
Asama focused on ignoring her and took a breath.
At any rate, she had destroyed the evidence. This meant she had not answered any of the questions, but…
“Sensei? Um, this next one is the health exam, right?”
“Eh? Yes, it is. …Is that okay with you, Asama?”
“Oh, yes! That’s fine! I’ll get a good score on this one!”
“Is that so?”
Oriotorai collected the exams while retrieving her sword and then she passed out the health exam papers.
“You can start once you pass them back, okay? Just like before, you have 20 minutes. Okay, begin.”
Asama focused on the exam paper she held.
…I have to recover my score with this!
She nodded and then read the first question.
<Question 1: What different types of male-female combination techniques are there? Give their names and a simple explanation.>
“Sensei! This is the same! It’s the same exam as before!”
“No, it isn’t. The title says ‘Health’ this time, right? …Okay, begin.”
Kimi burst out laughing and Asama hung her head and began the exam along with everyone else.
…The students in Aki are taking their exams right now too, aren’t they?
Rome existed somewhat southwest from the center of Itsukushima in Aki.
The Papa-Schola’s K.P.A.S. was an academy attended only by their officers and the committees that worked under them, so it looked like a large cathedral.
To the side of the white cathedral’s entrance, several chairs were lined up on a lawn surrounded by a rose hedge.
The Papa-Schola and everyone else were taking an exam below the blue sky.
The exam papers sat on tall writing desks and a high priest teacher was watching their every move.
One person among them sat with a view of the ocean.
That was Papa-Schola Innocentius.
He held a cokepen worn down quite short and he wrote out his answers on the exam paper.
They were taking a history exam.
“Question: Explain why Charles VII of France found the Maid of Orleans.”
<Answer: Nothing is unknown to Catholic knowledge.>
“Question: After the Anglo-French war, France attempted to temporarily transfer their autonomy to the King of England due to domestic chaos. Name that king.”
<Answer: The Papa-Schola knows the answer, so that is not a problem.>
“Question: The Papa-Schola’s simultaneously younger and older stepsister Olimpia is great, isn’t she?”
<Answer: Are you screwing with me?>
Innocentius thought to himself as he answered.
…Isn’t this a little too easy? Hm?
Catholicism was history itself. And all Catholic knowledge was available to the Papa-Schola. Thus…
“As the Papa-Schola, I have to answer as ‘the Papa-Schola, representative of Catholicism’ and not with my own words. …It would be dangerous if I got used to this. Don’t you think? Hm?”
“Former boy…do not speak to me during the exam.”
“Oh, the answer to that one is Malta.”
“Um, Papa-Schola? That would count as cheating, so please stop…”
“Oh, my bad, my bad.” Innocentius waved a hand dismissively. “Even if making a mistake would sully the Papa-Schola’s name, this really isn’t necessary. I’m jealous of the popes from before the Harmonic Unification War.”
“But thanks to that, there were quite a few idiot popes back then, former boy.”
“Nowadays they just cover up whether we’re idiots or not.”
Innocentius muttered “honestly” as he looked up into the sky.
The Musashi would be in the eastern sky. He could tell it was there since he would occasionally see a transport ship vanish in the middle of the sky, but…
“Musashi should be taking their exams now too, shouldn’t they?”
He spoke to himself while flipping over his exam paper and jotting down ideas for new warrior spells.
“They’re hiding, but I bet there’s some kind of craziness going on there. Don’t you think? Hm?”
“Oh, sorry, everyone. That’s a misprint. …The health exam was printed on the back, so answer that one. Looks like they were printed on the backs of some other exams.”
“Ehhhh!? But I just finished drawing it all!!”
In the usual pattern, everyone looked to Asama and she had to make an excuse.
The exam time was extended as long as possible, so the end was delayed by half an hour. But once they finished the classical literature exam after that…
“Heh heh. We’re finally free! Oh, Asama, what’s with you? Are you worried you failed the health/PE exam because you have a guaranteed zero on the PE part? You’d better not have. If you failed, you can’t perform in the Gagaku Festival.”
“Kwaaaaah! It’s my own fault, but it really ticks me off when you say it!”
At any rate, everyone was in a festive mood.
- Or it is in Japanese.
- That kanji is the character for "woman" with the character for "man" on either side.
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