Hyouketsu Kyoukai no Eden:Volume 6 Chapter3
Chapter 3 – Hard to Control
“Eh-he-heh─, now then, Sheltis-kun, which one is it? Isn’t it time for a decision?”
Eyriey held out two cards with a smile full across her face.
“Sheltis, Sheltis, the left one is definitely ‘WrongThe Demon Instructor‘. I recommend that you pick the right card.“
“But you know, Ilis? The left card has been WrongThe Demon Instructor eleven times in a row so I think this time the right one is WrongThe Demon Instructor. Having WrongThe Demon Instructor on the left twelve times in a row is……”
“You’ve said almost the same thing ever since ‘Having The WrongThe Demon Instructor on the left two times in a row is……‘.“
“Shel-nii, do your best!”
While Yuto and IlisMachine crystal were holding their breathes.
“The left side is definitely correct this time. This one!”
He pulled the left side card of the two Eyriey was holding out with all the fighting spirit in his body. He timidly turned over the card and……
“……Geh. Instructor Yumelda.”
“See, see, that’s why I said so.“
It was a card game that had secretly spread amongst the Cadet Guards. Throwing out the WrongThe Demon Instructor card which had the whip-wielding Instructor Yumelda on it, Sheltis sighed for the twelfth time.
“……I lost again.”
“Yippie─. This is Sheltis’ twelfth time being last. Okay, just gotta update the records!”
Eyriey wrote the records of battle in a massive memo book.
“Shel-nii, you lost again?”
“That’s right─. On the other hand, Yuto’s strong─; you’ve been in first twelve times in a row now.”
“Ehehe, Yuto’s strong? Strong?”
Yuto rubbed her eyes from drowsiness with a smile across her face.
“Ah, it’s almost dawn.“
Narrowing his eyes at the clock’s digital display, Sheltis let out a little exclamation.
They had started this card game with the three of them at dusk. It was already around ten hours ago that the game had started with Eyriey adding the condition of “We’ll end it if you manage to win?”. He’d lost twelve times in a row already since that……so when he realized it, it was already the next morning.
“Eyri-nee, Yuto’s tired.”
“Right─. Then I guess it’s about time we head back since I have to work at the shop in the morning too.”
Eyriey packed away the cards they’d used for the game, half-eaten candy, and some strange invention-like thing into her bag.
“Well then, that’s that.”
“Ah, Eyriey, hold on. Are you okay returning just the two of you? If needed, I’ll take you there.”
He had asked Eyriey who was shouldering her bag to wait. Public order around SophiaTenketsu Palace was guaranteed but there were hardly any people in the early morning so caution was required.
“See, there might be somebody like that purse snatcher you saw before.”
“It’s fine─ it’s fine─. I’ve already made defense goods so if anything happens, we’ll fight them off with the powerful flamethrower or one hundred million volts stun gun meant for repelling perverts, okay?”
“……Try not to get caught red-handed for possession of dangerous articles.”
“Got it, got it. Well then, we’ll come tomorrow or some other time to play again. Shasa-chan said to come play after all.”
“Tomorrow? To the tower?”
“Yeah, that’s right, is there something about that?”
“Well look, today is……”
He pointed at the calendar on the table when Eyriey tilted her head.
“It’s the day of the barrier transfer ceremony. The day when the Queen relinquishes control over Hyouketsu Kyoukai to a Priestess. I think it’s Syun-rei’s turn this time.“
“At the previous barrier transfer……you remember, the barrier was broken. Ever since then, even within the tower, security is strengthened during the barrier transfer. It seems that the Regular Guards take shifts patrolling the tower so even entering is difficult.”
“Hohoh, is that so?”
But Eyriey still looked unconcerned and seemed to take something from his doubts.
“But Shasa-chan said it’d be fine if I showed them this card.”
“Card? Ahh, this is a badge. It’s the same as the mine…………”
The plate was shining silver. While looking at the contents carved on its surface, Sheltis stood stock still, even forgetting to breathe.
“Where did you get this?”
“Ehehe, it’s amazing, right? Shasa-chan secretly gave me it.”
“……Amazing……this is beyond that level.”
The floor access carved into the badge was ‘290‘.
Of the 291 aboveground floors that SophiaTenketsu Palace had, every floor except the highest one, ‘Paradise‘ ── the display meant that she could freely come and go to even floor 290 which belonged to the Queen.
……Even Elite Guards shouldn’t be able to enter the Queen’s floor.
……This card is above that?
To access the Queen’s floor, the sole method should be the elevator inoperable to anyone other than those with the authority of a Priestess or Sennenshi. Even Cadres Guard Ishtar can’t enter the Queen’s floor alone. Yet why does Eyriey, a civilian, have such an authoritative badge?
“Eyriey, have you used this?”
“Not yet, why?”
“Nah……I’d like you to tell me if you can use this card. I’m a little interested in that Shasa person.”
A clerk of the tower?
Could a simple clerk prepare this badge so easily?
“Ah─ it’s fine, it’s fine! I wanted to introduce you to Shasa-chan anyway. She’s really cute and nice so look forward to it! Then, see ya!”
“Ahh, wait, Eyriey ──……sheesh, she’s really fast at these times.”
He had no opportunity to call out to her. Looking at Eyriey who had grabbed Yuto’s hand and was running like the wind, Sheltis relaxed his shoulders and folded his arms.
“……Shasa, huh. Was there somebody by that name amongst the tower’s clerks?”
The cold passageway returned to silence.
Ymy walked alone on the dim floor which was lit only by a faint night-light within the frozen air.
Floor 22 of the tower.
She did nothing but continue deeper into that floor which was a gigantic general medical facility.
Past the giant lobby was A ward which was for emergency outpatients.
Continuing further past that was B ward which was for treating heavily injured patients that had to be admitted.
Further past that was C ward was for treating those with serious, life-threatening conditions.
In front of the steel doors that filled her vision, Ymy nodded largely with the intention of spurring herself on.
There was something carved on the door which shined dark grey ── a formal carved seal that gave off bluish white light. The last ward, D ward, which was isolated by shinryoku-infused doors lay beyond here.
She placed her hand to the sensor at the side of the door.
It happened soon after the faint shinryoku wavelength from her fingertips was read by a specialized device.
“Confirmation……regular link with the Shinryoku Theory Bureau……comparing……shinryoku waveform match…………confirming……identified as the fifth Priestess, Ymy Ele Soufflenictole.“
The doors opened in both directions with a stately sound.
…………This is that kind of place.
Ceiling, floor, corridor.
There were formal carved seals applied to all of those. In the past, all the apprentice Priestesses had finished these by carving their shinryoku into the surfaces.
If not for that, it would be impossible to shelter patients contaminated with mateki. At any rate, if a normal person were to touch a patient contaminated with mateki, they would be infected with the same mateki at that moment.
She had last come here over half a year ago. Ever since she’d tasted her first setback as the Baptism Priestess, it had become a place she did not wish to visit on her own accord.
“D09, this is it.”
She confirmed the room’s name many times and timidly opened the door.
A pure white room ── the room’s ceiling, floor and walls were painted completely in white. A single boy continued to sleep there while attached to an artificial breathing apparatus. It was a small boy who was not even ten yet.
There was no way a response would come. This boy had not opened his eyes even once since he was trapped in an eternal coma due to powerful mateki.
“……Sorry……the truth is, I wanted to come earlier.”
She might have been able to visit during the breaks between Priestess training. But she couldn’t. It would be miserable……she knew that her heart would only sink if she were to visit when she couldn’t cure him of his mateki.
“? Huh, the vase……”
A vase of azure glass sat by the window side which had its white curtains fluttering. In it was a single flower.
……There was nothing like this the last time I visited.
Civilians were strictly forbidden from entering D ward. Even family were rarely allowed to meet the patient face-to-face. Then who exactly put this flower──
“Does it not suit me?”
She turned around in a panic at the voice of the person who dropped by without a hint that she was there.
“I was wondering who would visit other than me.”
The blinder-wearing Sennenshi leaned against the wall with her arms folded.
“What is this? Are you trying to atone?”
“If you have no business, then leave. You probably haven’t come to say anything to Tessha.”
…………That’s right, that might be true right now.
Holding her breath, she forced her words of rebuttal back down.
“You look like you want to say something.”
“I won’t speak it.”
Turning her back on Horn, she faced the door.
There’s no meaning in telling her that I know that. That wouldn’t be enough to regain her lost confidence in me, nor would it cause this child to awaken.
“I will convey it to this child with my shinryoku……it will definitely be conveyed.”
In that room after the fifth Priestess left.
“…………What a joke.”
Biting down on the corner of her lip, Horn muttered that with disdain.
“……A dream……hope is not something you should put into words so lightly.”
As great as the sadness when hope is crushed and as deep as the despair when a dream is lost. In truth, not a single Priestess had been able to purify the mateki of this boy who continued to sleep.
……That’s right: they can’t.
It was mateki that had beaten her sister Viola and even the first Priestess, Elmeetia.
She placed a hand to the forehead of the boy who continued to have his eyelids shut. She would not be able to touch him either if not for her Guard formal wear.
“Wait for me, I will definitely save you.”
She would find the Yuugenshu that commanded this mateki and subjugate it. She would find it even if it took months or years, and even if she had to traverse from one end of Orbie Clarthe floating continent to the other.
She glanced at the clock on the wall near the ceiling.
“Well then, Tessha, I’ll be going to the orphanage. I’ll make sure to greet everyone on your behalf as well.”
Horn gently held the boy’s hand then left the room.
“Sheltis, are you awake? Will you answer me, Sheltis?“
His comrade’s voice suddenly came from the communications device attached to the ceiling.
He poked just his head out of the sheets from atop his bed. He shook his sleepy brain and looked at the clock even while rubbing his vacant eyes.
“Please at least let me sleep until it’s time for training. ……Eyriey and Yuto were here not too long ago.”
“Don’t talk in your sleep and get up. I’ll be coming to your room in five minutes so wash your face and get changed before then please.“
“Eh, wai……wait, Kagura, at least fifteen minutes ── h-huh? Kagura? Kagura?”
The communications device clicked and went silent.
“……What was that?”
Raising his upper body off the body, Sheltis supported his head.
“Good morning, and what a nice morning it is.”
“Morning. ……Though it’s still really early.”
3:27. Not even ten minutes had passed since Eyriey and Yuto had left. Thanks to that, even his plan of sleeping right up until it was time to train at four was coming to nothing.
“At any rate, it’s something requiring immediate attention.”
Kagura with the machine helmet worn low over her eyes was as usual, without a hint of sleepiness.
“……Kagura, weren’t you not a morning person?”
“That’s right. But I became wide awake after seeing that.”
“Yes, and I’ll be borrowing your work desk for a bit.”
Without waiting for an answer, she took up a position at his desk. Just when he wondered what she was doing, she reached out to the monitor and computer and started typing something quickly.
“Yes, the famous agency terminal that’s useless to us Guards.”
Kagura typed in her own login ID and opened window after window. Even as he looked on from behind, he had no idea what was coming because he didn’t recognize any of the windows.
“Sheltis, what I’m about to show you is an anonymous message left on the General Affairs Bureau and Tower Management Bureau’s digital bulletin boards.
“What about it?”
Her fingers that were typing at a high speed stopped for an instant.
“I’ll say this ahead of time……please be prepared.”
The instant she pushed the last key, all of the windows on the monitor vanished. In it’s place appeared a single article upon a blue background.
“To all of SophiaTenketsu Palace──“
“……It’s addressed to everybody in SophiaTenketsu Palace?”
He looked down lower with disinterest.
“To all of SophiaTenketsu Palace──
I shall teach you a valuable secret.
A Yuugenshu has changed its form to that of a person and disguised itself as one of your Guards. In order to draw it out, I recommend exposing all the tower’s Guards to the Priestesses’ baptism spells.“
An absurd amount of time was required for him to process what the message meant.
……It can’t be that the Guard this message is indicating.
He could tell that his fingertips were shaking.
“…………What……this kind of tasteless message.”
Straining his voice, that was all he could say.
……Is this about me?
……Just who did this……who’s trying to agitate the tower’s unease?
“That’s why I told you to prepare yourself.”
Kagura nodded while lounging back on the chair.
“It was sent simultaneously to every one of these agency terminals. Right about now, the executives of the tower should be thinking it’s a prank but they might change their minds.”
“Hmm, can I ask something? I should have realized it as well if they sent it to the agency terminals. Especially if it’s related to the Guards, I regularly perform keyword checks.“
IlisMachine crystal blinked while not able to understand that one thing.
That was a given as IlisMachine crystal’ sensors spread out to cover the entire electrical system. It would be strange for IlisMachine crystal not to notice something that Kagura did.
“By the way, it seems the Guard Regulations Institute……in other words, the Guard Control Bureau received this message late. If we consider that the Environmental Bureau and the Mechanical Bureau and the others received it at the same time, the chance that sending it to the Guard Control Bureau was delayed is high.”
“……I get it. My searches prioritize the Guard Regulations Institute first of all so I was late in discovering it because of that.”
“Yes. In my case, I also hold the title of a computer researcher of the Tower Management Bureau. Thanks to logging in with my ID from there, I managed to be one of the first to read this message.”
Kagura sighed after removing her machine helmet.
“I don’t think there’s any need to explain who this is talking about.”
He didn’t know who was behind it, but it was a sly tactic.
While asserting that it had changed forms to that of a Guard, it agitated their unease without revealing the Guard’s name. Saying that they should expose everybody to the Priestesses’ baptism spells was also of the same type of method. This was basically saying to expose who this was in front of the surrounding Guards and Instructors.
“I’d just like to ask but what will happen if this actually gets implemented?”
“……It’s not something I’d like to think much about.”
Shinryoku was like deadly poison to his body which was afflicted with mateki.
If it was a Priestess-level baptism spell, even if Elbert Resonance did not occur, light wounds similar to burns would be received.
“As a silver lining, the tower’s executives are also pretty much disregarding this message. There have been numerous messages received in the past that aimed to fan up the unease of the tower.”
“……Is it okay if I have faith in that?”
“The basis for that is in who this message was addressed to.”
Kagura nodded. She temporarily removed the window being displayed and continued on to open several windows at the same time.
“See, even if I search for it, it’s only spits out red errors. Nobody within the tower or the Living Districts sent this.”
“It came from outside Orbie Clarthe floating continent; in other words, it’s was sent remotely from somewhere in the Lagoonfloating archipelago.“
“That’s what it means. It would still carry credibility if it were from someone within the tower. However, how would somebody from outside Orbie Clarthe floating continent know information like there being a Yuugenshu who changed forms into a Guard when nobody within the tower knows? ── The executives are also thinking that; well, it is the appropriate conclusion.”
“……From outside Orbie Clarthe floating continent, huh.”
That would have to be how it is. There should be no way somebody from the Lagoonfloating archipelago which lay outside of Orbie Clarthe floating continent would know that secret which only a handful of people knew. Anybody would think that way.
……Then that’s even more reason.
……Who is it that knows my secret despite not being on Orbie Clarthe floating continent?
“Kagura and Ilis, do either of you know where in the Lagoonfloating archipelago this was sent from?”
“……I’m trying my best but narrowing the scope to a certain extent is the utmost I can manage.“
“Same here. It looks like it will be a harsh challenge. Of course the sender’s name was also blank; basically, they’re anonymous.”
If that was what these two said, then he wouldn’t receive a favorable response no matter who he asked.
“……Thank you, Kagura, it really helped me that you told me about this.”
“Yes. But what will you do from now on? We have early morning training scheduled for today but will you fabricate some excuse and investigate?”
He shook his head at Kagura’s idea and stood from his chair.
“It would like asking people to doubt me if I took a break immediately after this. I’ll train normally and think about this after that’s over.”
“That would be the most natural. I will be keeping track of all the executives’ movements so I’ll inform you if something happens.“
“I see. Understood……however, one thing.”
He could feel Kagura’s gaze through the eyeshade of her machine helmet.
“What is it?”
“You can ignore this case. I have a feeling that Monica will come to suspect your mateki someday. I believe it would be best if you think about what you will say to her at that time.”
He averted his eyes from the steady gaze of the Nell girl.
“……I’ll think about that at a different time. I have to focus on training and this case for now.”
It took his utmost to say just that.
A rocky area with boulders large enough that one had to look up at them obstructed the way.
It was a high-difficult field that necessitated Running between the rocks on a path that wasn’t a path and occasionally jumping from boulder to boulder.
Sweat trickled down his brow as he jumped from a large boulder to the next.
It had been dark when their early morning training started but now the sunlight coming from overhead was steadily raising the temperature.
“Sheltis, are you listening!?”
“……! Wawaa, wh-what? What is it?”
Sheltis finally came back to his senses after having his name called right next to his ear.
“It looks like you didn’t hear me.”
Sheesh ── Monica had a wry smile on as she ran beside him.
“It was about our next mission. I was asking if there was anything you wanted.”
While jumping down to the slanted boulder ahead.
“I’ve said it before but I’d like for us to gain experience in policing the Nature District and escorting VIPs. Since there are many missions like that after becoming Regular Guards.”
“That’s what I thought as well so I looked into it but both of those kinds of missions are out of stock.”
“I meant to talk about that earlier but I guess you weren’t listening then either.”
Monica went from having a bitter smile on her face to slightly narrowing her eyes.
“It’s strange for you to be inattentive during training; did something happen?”
“Ah, no……I think I’m fine.”
He couldn’t say that he was helplessly interested in the anonymous message the tower had received.
……I don’t like the feeling of it.
……This might be the first time I’ve been unable to concentrate on training this badly.
“About the missions, if those are the circumstances, then I’m fine with other missions. Those two are the important ones but it would be imbalanced if we didn’t take any other missions at all……the Governmental Sector one was a little stressing so maybe we should take a more comfortable one next.”
“Ah, then maybe you should go for the night patrol shift?“
The mission of taking shifts to patrol SophiaTenketsu Palace’s grounds ── when Cadet Guards were about to take on an important mission, that was one of the types of missions used to warm up. Even if it was night, it was within SophiaTenketsu Palace’s territory so there was hardly any danger and even if there was, Instructors and Regular Guards could rush over immediately.
“Yeah, it seems like we could start patrolling the tower even starting today.”
“That’s right but I’ve been hearing that there have been a lot of troublesome things even in patrolling the tower lately, you know? Criminals looking for a reaction……there’s a troublesome bunch looking to slip past the security and infiltrate the grounds. Did you see that tasteless message this morning?”
“When you say message……”
“The one about there being a Yuugenshu mixed in amongst the Guards, or did you not see it?”
Having the question asked so forthrightly, he unintentionally was strained for words.
“……I saw it. Yeah.”
“Right? Jeez, trying to make the Guards waver with that, there’s a limit to how much they can try to make a fool of SophiaTenketsu Palace.”
While jumping from rock to rock, the indignant Monica raised a brow.
“……Monica, would you find it unpleasant if there really was someone like that?”
“Um, well, how to say this, it’s a little different from a Yuugenshu but…………if there was someone amongst the Guards carrying mateki.”
“? I don’t really get it but nothing other than the Yuugenshu carry mateki, right? That shouldn’t happen, but wouldn’t it be dangerous if there was one in the tower?”
She had a confused expression.
Only Yuugenshu carried mateki. If the former apprentice Priestess were to say, her definition of a Yuugenshu would probably be “whether it possesses mateki or not”.
In other words, he would also count as a Yuugenshu by her definition because he was endowed with mateki.
……Monica’s reaction is definitely normal.
“Sheltis, were you perhaps seriously thinking about that message?”
“N-Nothing of the sort? But you know, I kinda wonder where that message was sent from.”
“It seems like an investigation would happen should it pass a certain threshold, but I doubt it will happen for this. It’s obvious to anyone at first glance that it’s a nasty joke, after all. It’s best to ignore those.”
He relaxed his fist that he’d unconsciously clenched and took a deep breath. Renewing the stagnated air within his lungs, Sheltis jumped down from the final boulder.
“Whew, we’re finally done.”
Monica wiped off the large beads of sweat flowing endlessly off her and looked up at the sky.
“It will be noon soon so we’ll end the morning part here. From 3 PM, we have a lecture at the meeting room so we’ll gather there.”
“Hmm? What about Kagura and Vaiel?”
The direction Monica pointed to ── the two of them were being chased around by the whip-wielding Instructor Yumelda.
“It looks like the Instructor is personally coaching them because they’re normally absent from training. They said they’d be doing it until just before the unit battles so I don’t think it will end for a little while yet.”
“I was planning on heading to the cafeteria so would you like to join me for lunch?”
He nodded reflexively but swallowed his words in a hurry.
“Sorry……I have something to do. I apologize but I need to head back to my room once.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, but I’ll make sure to be at the meeting room. ──See you!”
Making a small wave with his hand, Sheltis ran straight along the paved road to SophiaTenketsu Palace.
The impressive stained glass colorfully refracted the sun’s rays shining down brilliantly.
The light and sound and, needless to say, the air of that place were serene ── a single female Guard trudged along in that floor serene with holiness.
“……Hr─m, this might be a probleeem.”
The second and third Priestesses. This floor was prepared for them as well as the Sennenshi guarding them and was reversed as holy ground by all the Guards and apprentice Priestesses.
To one day become the owner of this floor ── it was an place aspired towards for those aiming to become a Priestess or Sennenshi.
“Hr─m, hr─m, I wonder what was wrooong.”
Nevertheless, there was not a trace of nervousness about the woman shouldering a large metal spear.
She spoke to herself with her arms folded and a frown on her face.
On this floor where other Guards would become unable to walk straight due to nerves, she continued as if she’d just been invited over to a dear friend’s house.
“So the cause really is a dislike of vegetables? No, no, it might be the arrangement. ……Hr─m.”
“You seem to be enjoying yourself, Ishtar-san.”
A voice called out and stopped her.
She had flaxen hair and light brown eyes and wore a vestment crafted from a single cloth.
“Ah─, it’s Viola-sama; we haven’t contacted each other at allll.”
“It has been a while. You seem as energetic as ever. I was wondering if you would be a Sennenshi the next time I returned to the tower.”
“Ehehe, Ishtar is still inexperienced.”
“Is that so? See, I heard that Ymy is still undecided on a Sennenshi.”
“……Ahh, that’s right.”
A small laugh leaked out from the Guard’s lips.
“Well, that’s Ymy-sama’s decision─. Her destiny, so to speak.”
“That’s true. By the way, are you dealing with a difficult issue? It’s rare for you to make a troubled face so I ended up calling out to you.”
“……Uu. That’s actually riiight. I’m troubled about my little sister, I’sa-chan. Would you care to listen?”
The Cadres Guard drooped her shoulders with a heavy and dark expression.
“Yes. As a fellow older sister.”
“Well then! I made omurice for my super precious I’sa-chan a little while ago for her lunch, okaaay.”
“How wonderful. Ishtar-san, you truly care for your little sister.”
“That’s right─. But listen to this: I’sa-chan was happy up until I said I’d make her omurice……but she was suddenly in a bad mood when the time to eat came around and finally ended up bursting into tears.”
“Oh my, my. Pardon my asking but how did it taste?”
Faced with Viola who was tilting her head, Ishtar shook her head largely from side to side.
“It was perfect─. At any rate, we’ve been together for over ten years. I have a clear understanding of what I’sa-chan prefers for taste and presentation.”
“Oh dear, then it really is a difficult problem. I wonder if anything happened to worsen your little sister’s mood.”
“……Hr─m, I don’t have any ideaaa.”
Ishtar looked troubled to the core.
“Rather, to make her happy, I tried to feed her while saying, ‘Here you go─, I’sa-chan. It’s luuunch, it’s deliciousss.‘ Then I’sa-chan suddenly stood up and yelled ‘Onee-sama, you idiooot──‘ and ran away crying while still holding her spoon.”
“Right? It’s strange, right?”
“…………I think it’s because your sister is at the age of independence. You could say she’s really sensitive.”
“Is that sooo?”
“Yes, I as well……it’s not something unrelated to me.”
A shadow clouded the Priestess’ eyes and she smiled a little bitterly.
“That’s riiight, we’re both troubled by our little sisters. But Horn-chan is strong, so I think she’ll be fine no matter what happens, you knooow? I’sa-chan still can’t fight a Yuugenshu alooone.”
“Strength isn’t limited to excellence.”
“Yes, Ishtar is also of that opinion.”
Her expression suddenly brightened and then.
“─Well then, shall we switch topics to that? About Horn-chan.”
With those few words.
That wide floor returned to silence as if frozen.
“I knew it.”
Her lips shaking with a giggle, the third Priestess didn’t attempt to hide her smile.
“Ishtar-san really is Ishtar-san. There’s no way you as the Cadres Guard came here for no reason. You had business with me from the start, didn’t you?”
“Of course─. If not, I wouldn’t be on this flooor; I’d be chasing I’sa-chan who ran off.”
“……Ah, so the omurice story was true.”
“……Though it’s regrettable, it’s true.”
Bursting into laughter once when she saw the Cadres Guard sighing once more, Viola pointed in the direction of her room.
“Shall we speak in my room?”
“No, no, don’t worry. I’m fine if we continue to stand while talking. The story about I’sa-chan was the longer one.”
“It’s scary if it’s too short as well. Well then, let’s continue.”
“Yes. Come to think of it, a long time ago, Horn-chan wanted to search for some Yuugenshu. What was the individual name for that?”
“‘S vector, eight class‘. The only witnesses were……children from the orphanage that went on a picnic. I’m told that it looked like a small black kitten when they first found it and enlarged when the children neared it, then attacked them. We’ve also received information that when the Regular Guards that went to combat it thought they had defeated it, it would immediately regenerate.”
“Hohhh hohhh, so if that was found, Horn-chan would fly out of the tower, ignoring orders from anybody.”
“At that time, will Viola-sama be able to stop Horn-chan’s rampage?”
SophiaTenketsu Palace, floor 11, Cadet Guard residences.
“……It’s scary seeing this.”
Returning to his room, Sheltis booted up the agency terminal at his work desk.
He entered in his member ID that was carved into his badge and windows popped up rapidly on the monitor. Finally, his fingers that were operating the keys came to a stop at the screen showing the mail.
Received mail ‘1‘
Sender ‘ ‘
“To all of SophiaTenketsu Palace──
I shall teach you a valuable secret.
A Yuugenshu has changed its form to that of a person and disguised itself as one of your Guards. In order to draw it out, I recommend exposing all the tower’s Guards to the Priestesses’ baptism spells.“
“One message received and the sender is unknown……this is it.”
“Yes, it’s the same as the message Kagura showed you. It really did arrive later than hers. Though the motive for that in unknown.“
“……No developments; that’s a relief.”
He breathed a sigh of relief as he relaxed.
If a second message had been sent while he was training and the name of the corresponding Guard were written ── he had only avoided that worst-case scenario.
“Even putting the Priestesses’ baptism spells aside, starting with Ymy, Meimel and Syun-rei are also aware of you. If it comes to it, you should be able to deceive the others with their assistance.“
“……But we can’t solve the root of the problem like that.”
The sender was somebody outside of Orbie Clarthe floating continent, meaning they were somewhere on the distant Lagoonfloating archipelago. But that sender’s name was blank. It was the same as having nary a clue.
……Somebody outside of Orbie Clarthe floating continent who knows of me?
……The Governmental Sector? No, even within the Governmental Sector, there shouldn’t be anybody this well-informed.
“I wonder if my weakness has been grasped.”
“As long as your opponent’s identity remains unspecified, this will be a one-sided defensive battle.“
With his weakness in hand, the other party might come to him with negotiations. It was like grabbing at clouds but he also required information on the opponent.
“I’ll do my best and it seems like Kagura will also render assistance.“
“Thanks. I’d also like to think of somebody likely but the message is written like this and the name is also a blank space………………blank, ……blank……space?”
What is this……nagging feeling?
Something……maybe I……am overlooking something really important?
“Wait!……I need to concentrate.”
He even stopped breathing as he focused on thinking.
There was no name attached to the mail. It was a blank field without a single character written in it. But what if the fact that there is no name is the most important part of this message?
……Blank……blank……empty…………that basically means bla…………bla……nk.”
…………There is someone.
“Hey, Sheltis, I’ve been awaiting the time we would meet in this world.“
There was just one person. A person who identified themselves as ‘Igun-IBlank‘.
The assassin from the unnamed third organization that attacked the Governmental Sector together with MahaGolden. He had confronted him at the floor where Mikuva’s Crimson Eye shone, that pitch black──
“Ilis, you should remember as well, about that creepy guy we met at the Governmental Sector. He was looking down at us from atop the ‘Crimson Eye‘ and, in the end, said he had been waiting for me and wanted to meet me.”
“He called himself Igun-IBlank……ahh, I get it. It’s the type of joke that I’m not good with. ……But I wonder if it’s really that person. Is there some kind of proof to confirm this?“
“There’s no proof; it’s really just intuition.”
But he could feel it.
This commotion within him like shivers was telling him that his intuition was correct.
“Chase me if you want to know the truth. Now, Sheltis, please chase after me. That will be the beginning of everything.“
……The beginning of everything.
……What awaits me after I chase him?
“Is this to lure me out?”
“It’s a problem that we can’t say you’re over-thinking things. Truthfully, I also have my doubts about that person. I’m curious as to who he is.“
“You’re also interested?”
“Yes. The truth is, that person, that was my──“
The crystal portion that was shining brilliantly in blue lost its light and changed to a dark grey.
“……No, I won’t say. It’s too much to say for a guess. At any rate, pinning down the enemy’s objective is a silver lining. We may be able to figure out a countermeasure so it’s most important.”
He clenched his fist atop his lap.
IlisMachine crystal who had lowered the intensity of her light flashed once again.
“Hey, hey, Sheltis, an urgent mission is being announced by the Guard Regulations Institute. The location is the Biotope’s S vector section……on the bank of a large salt lake. The nearest patrolling unit of Regular Guards is performing an emergency response so they wish for the Cadet Guards to also participate as a supporting unit.”
“It’s by the Instructor’s recommendation so there’s a chance we might be called.”
It was the same as the time the Regular Guard unit was wiped out by Golden Maha. The primary force would be Elite Guards and Regular Guards and Cadet Guards recommended by the Instructor would act as support for them.
“What are the mission details?”
“It’s the subjugation of a Yuugenshu. It broke through the encirclement……no……but this is…………?“
Separating from her momentary silence, IlisMachine crystal continued.
“There was a previous report about this Yuugenshu being sighted. Please wait a moment, I will retrieve the information from SophiaTenketsu Palace’s Yuugenshu list.“
“……It’s a strong one.”
It was no coincidence that it had escaped once in the past and broken through the encirclement this time.
There was a high chance that it possessed a special type of mateki or exceedingly powerful mateki. To kill it for certain, two or three Regular Guard units would be required for a medium-sized one and three for a large-sized one.
He held fast to his card-shaped badge that shined silver. An order to gather from the Instructor might be sent to this badge at any time.
……If it’s a strong Yuugenshu, two or three Cadet Guard units might be necessary.
……Maybe Monica’s badge has already been contacted at this time?
“Ilis, how is the retrieval?”
“I just finished the comparison of the entire list, or in other words, the verification checks. The result of a comparison with SophiaTenketsu Palace’s list yielded one full match. ……But this is troublesome.“
“Yes. You remember the area I said that the Yuugenshu was found in?“
“A large salt lake. You said it was in the Biotope’s S vector section──”
“We Priestesses call that ‘delayed sin type‘ mateki. ‘S vector, eighth class‘……that’s the common name of the Yuugenshu that Horn-san is chasing after.“
……The Yuugenshu Ymy had told him about that time.
“It can’t be.”
The reason IlisMachine crystal said it was troublesome.
……The one SophiaTenketsu Palace is chasing after now is the one Horn is chasing after?
……In that case, this is bad.
“If somebody is afflicted with that one’s mateki──”
“Yes. It is mateki that cannot be purified even with the power of the Priestesses. Before victims appear amongst the Guards, swift subjugation of the Yuugenshu is necessary. In the worst case scenario, we will need to tell Ymy.“
The problem was Horn Nova.
She should have also received this information. She should be desiring a one-on-one conclusive battle with that Yuugenshu. But even for a Sennenshi like her, fighting a Yuugenshu whose mateki even a Priestess couldn’t purify while not in a calm state was too dangerous.
“……Ilis. Tell Monica to get ready to head out at once.”
He stood up without turning off the terminal.
He once again put on the jacket he had taken off and fastened the holders at his belt.
……I’ll leave the thing with Igun-I until later.
……This takes priority.
“Are you heading out?“
“I’ll head to floor 288 first; we need to stop Horn if she’s planning on running off ahead alone.”
The third Living District.
On Orbie Clarthe floating continent, it was the section that boasted the largest area of those which were inhabitable. The first Living District had SophiaTenketsu Palace at its center so the primary residents were Guards of the tower or clerks that worked there. The second Living District was a commercial area with many varieties of shops lined up. Compared with those, this was more of a quiet area with houses.
“It’s been a while since I walked down this road.”
The intersection was dyed with the brilliant yellow colors of autumn.
Laying here and there along the road were flower beds made with brick and even now, kindergarten children were enthusiastically tending to them.
“……Time flows differently here compared to the tower.”
The fragrance of the flowers made him want to stop without thinking. In that place.
Pressing down on her chest at the nostalgic scene that hadn’t changed one bit since she had been raised here, Horn smiled without realizing it.
“……I wonder if everyone’s doing well.”
In the third Living District, there was an orphanage near Minamitoori Park.
Children without relatives, children who had been entrusted to them by busy parents, children who could not open their hearts to the those around them in kindergarten or elementary school ── they were everywhere but this was a facility that gathered up those children who needed a helping hand. It was a place akin to her family’s residence.
In response to her high spirits, her steps quickened.
Advancing straight through the intersection filled with summer breezes and immediately after cutting left at the corner with conspicuous giant fir trees lined up, a building whose special trait was its fully white triangular roof leapt into her line of sight.
“──That’s right. They’ll be frightened if I wear this.”
She put her hands behind her head and unfastened the tightly bound knot.
The blinder fell with a swishing sound.
“……On the other hand, it’s hard on me without this.”
She looked down at the blindfold that had fallen onto her palm and smiled wryly.
A blurred world.
The blinder, her palm, the surrounding trees, the building; everything had two images.
The territorial type shinryoku spell that the sisters, Horn and Viola, possessed inherently ── it was a side effect of the power called ‘Celestial Map Drawing‘.
That was the power to see just slightly into the future.
It made shooting after reading where the opponent would dodge to possible and could be called a Heavenly blessing for a gunner. However, at the same time, the fact that she couldn’t control it herself was a weakness. Because the world of the present she saw with her own eyes and the world of the future shown by ‘Celestial Map Drawing‘ would overlap and blur, if she continued to view both, her brain would be unable to keep up and she would experience dizziness.
……Since I was born.
……Because I’m different from nee-san.
Her older sister Viola had acquired the technique for controlling ‘Celestial Map Drawing‘ as she piled on training as an apprentice Priestess. For she who could not do that, she was still using this blinder. By blocking off the world seen by her eyes and viewing only the world of the future from ‘Celestial Map Drawing‘, she was somehow able to keep her brain’s fatigue to a minimum.
“Well, it can’t be helped.”
She could feel some dizziness from just removing the blinder but she was meeting with the children again for the first time in a while.
Still holding onto the blindfold, she walked closer to the orphanage’s gate──
“Ain’t this Horn-nee-chan, hasn’t it been so long!?”
The kids who were in front of the orphanage’s fence opened the gate in high spirits and ran over.
“Hey, hey, where did you go this time? Did you fight with a dragon again?”
“The same place as always. I didn’t fight with an earth dragon but I did find a wyvern nest. See, I came here with pictures of it.”
“Hey, hey, Horn-nee-chan! I baked cookies yesterday. I’ll share some with you.”
“Thank you, Nachez, but you worked hard to make these cookies so you should share them with everyone.”
Even in the time was petting the girl’s head, kids appeared one after the other.
Children that tugged on her clothes and children that hopped up on her back. There were likely more than thirty of them altogether and each of them was running over with a full smile.
“Oh my, I was wondering who it was with all these joyful shouts.”
Following the multitude of children, an elderly woman walked over slowly from inside the building.
“It has been a while since we last talked, Matron. You seem well.”
Standing up, she bowed.
──If somebody from SophiaTenketsu Palace saw this, they’d doubt their eyes.
A Sennenshi who held a top position in the tower and moreover, that Horn Nova, taking such a low profile and even coming into contact with somebody with a smile was a scene that not a single one had seen.
“To be honest, I was worried. I heard that the Yuugenshu invasion had also reached here. Was there any damage done?”
The day all those living upon Orbie Clarthe floating continent feared.
The day Hyouketsu Kyoukai was broken and an unprecedented large-scale invasion was carried out by the Yuugenshu. She had heard that this orphanage had also been attacked and corroded by mateki.
“Of course we are all fine; we all evacuated to the shelters.”
“What about the mateki? Was the decaying okay?”
“……The decaying was horrible. The gate was broken and the interior was corroded by mateki to tatters. ……Just for that moment, I wondered if it was the end for this place.”
Perhaps she was remembering that time because the Matron’s expression turned rigid.
“……My apologies. SophiaTenketsu Palace’s power was not enough.”
“It’s not your fault. And besides, now it’s back to as it was before. Hasn’t even the mateki been cleanly purified?”
The Matron of the orphanage’s reaction was slackened as she pointed with a cheerful gaze.
“Yes. It has been wonderfully purified.”
There would be traces leftover even after purification when corrosion occurred through powerful mateki. But no such traces were here in this park. The fence, gate and ground’s curses had been completely purified. The one who had performed the purification had done a good job.
“A good apprentice Priestess came here.”
“It was a Priestess.”
“A Priestess spent the entire night going around this area and purifying it. Even though she was so young, she passed the night without taking a break. She even talked to each of the children.”
“……Who was this?”
“It was Ymy-sama. I hear that she’s known as the Baptism Priestess and she certainly lived up to it.”
“…………Is that so.”
A bitter taste was mixed into her mouth.
“Oh my, what’s wrong?”
“…………It’s nothing; I was just thinking that I’m glad you’re all safe.”
“Of course, and that’s all thanks to you sisters as well.”
The Matron hugged the children clinging to her.
“This orphanage……we might not have been able to rebuild it without your assistance. I truly am thankful.”
“I am glad if we could repay even a single portion of our gratitude for your raising us. Nee-san and I are both pupils of this orphanage, after all.”
“Amazing─! Horn-nee-chan’s like a man!? Nee-chan, aren’t you actually a guy!?”
“……Do you want to get dropped from there, Ragna-kun?”
“Uwaa, i-it was just a little joke, nee-chan. Hey, hey, if I enter ‘Sophia‘ like nee-chan and work hard, can I become strong?”
“Do you corner somebody dear to you with that tone too?“
The words of the Cadet Guard that had criticized her at SophiaTenketsu Palace ran through the back of her mind.
……What was that? Why would I remember that at this time?
Even though normally she wouldn’t remember the words of a riffraff Cadet Guard like that, much less react to it.
“Err……umm, I was fascinated by how amazing Captain Horn is.“
“I……If I practice, will I be able to become like the Captain──“
……I see, that time.
It may have been because she had a similar conversation before that Cadet Guard said that to her. The conversation she had exchanged with the maintenance officer boy when she had entrusted him with the guns’ maintenance.
……What was my reply to Catria at that time?
“Discard pointless thoughts.“
“I don’t need unskilled people in my unit. If you’re going to subject yourself to techniques unsuited for your height, leave my unit before the end of today.“
“? Nee-chan, what’s wrong?”
“……No, I’m fine. Rather than that, you shouldn’t join SophiaTenketsu Palace like me──”
“Ohh, that’s it! I also want to enter that biiig tower. Think I can do it? Can I also beat dragons and Yuugenshu going bang bang?”
She couldn’t find words for the boy whose eyes were filled with hope as he asked.
“Do you corner somebody dear to you with that tone too?“
……That’s different; this is……something like a child’s simplistic dream.
It’s different from awakening somebody who was already a member of SophiaTenketsu Palaceto the truth. This and yesterday are completely different matters.
“……You can. If it’s you, then definitely, Ragna.”
The words she spoke were quiet and clumsy to the point of being hoarse.
…………How annoying, really annoying.
…………Why am I being disturbed by that Cadet Guards few words like this?
Was it because it hit the mark? No, like I……can accept that. SophiaTenketsu Palace’s bunch are all useless. They always can’t do anything without grouping up with somebody.
I am……nee-san and I are different.
Her family and comrades were only the children born and raised in this orphanage. Believing that, she had lived without relying on anybody from SophiaTenketsu Palace.
“Ah, no, it’s nothing, Matron. ──That’s right, I brought souvenirs. In the second Living District, a former colleague is running an open-air cafe. It seems like the cakes there are somewhat famous. Over there.”
She pointed towards a large box sitting on the bench behind her.
“Oh my, I’m happy; we’ll eat it during snack time.”
“Okay. By the way……”
Just before she spoke, the transmissions device hidden at her chest vibrated. Mail? If it was a call, it’s set to vibrate more. If it’s this faint, then it’s probably mail.
“Excuse me, I think it’s probably from nee-sama.”
On the screen of the transmissions device was the brief label ‘Tower‘.
──A simultaneous transmission from the Guard Regulation Institute?……It can’t be an emergency response at this time.
“Subjugation list match, in combat with the individual ‘S Vector, Eighth Class‘.“
When she first saw that name written there, she didn’t believe it.
Her sworn enemy she had spent many years searching for. It was the name of the one who had sent a child of the orphanage to the hospital. That it would appear with this timing of all times.
“……The Biotope’s S Vector?”
It couldn’t be called anything but ironic.
That was where that Yuugenshu had first been witnessed.
……It appeared just after I returned to the tower.
……Does it intend to ridicule me?
“Matron, my apologies but urgent business has come up so I will be excusing myself.”
“Is that so? It must be hard on you; you always patrol a troublesome place, don’t you?”
“For next time, let’s see. I’ll come to play when I find enough time to leisurely eat candy with everyone.”
Then Horn turned her back on her large family. She once again covered her vision with the blinder that had been hidden and looked only at the future world bestowed by ‘Celestial Map Drawing‘.
“──Together with Tessha.”
Towards the tower that stood out high in the sky.
Without turning back, the Sennenshi walked off in the direction of the tower.
Translator's Notes and References
- [T/N: I've decided now that any time somebody stretches out a word, I'm gonna triple one of the letters.]
- [T/N: This is really hard to put into English because the furigana says "blank" when there's more variation. The first part is 空欄 (blank space). The second one is ブランク which is the wasei-eigo (Japanese-style English) form of the word blank, pronounced buranku. Third part is 空っぽ which means "empty" like an empty room. The last little bit is 空白 which is the kanji for Igun-I's name.]
- [T/N: I'm dropping adding -sama to English words unless it's a name. I feel like it sounds retarded...]
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