For those who are reading the whole chapter for the first time and have missed the individual posts: I'll port one of the explaination over from the post of the sub-chapters. We have the introduction of a few characters in this chapter. One of them is Meimel, a Priestess. Her full name is Meimel in Carnation. It may be a little confusing to some due to the 'in', so I'll just highlight it now. Also, Run is Meimel's Sennenshi. Both of them have confusing English names.
But let us set Hyouketsu Kyoukai aside for the moment. For those who visit this site for Onii-ai, volume 3 is done translating from JP->CN, and I've finished reading the volume already. It is slightly shorter than the previous two volumes, base on the amount of pages that are on my pdf format.
My current plan is to split up my attention and do both series concurrently, by alternating and releasing chapters between the two series. However, depending on situations, I may choose to clear Hyouketsu Kyoukai vol 1 before I proceed with Onii-ai. I'll inform you guys about my decision after I am done with chapter 3 of Hyouketsu Kyoukai.
With that, enjoy.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, two hundred and eighty seventh story-
*Ka*...... A strong and firm footstep rang through the passageway.
"Northern side of nature sector, Park Number Four? That is no more than ten kilometers away from the Third Living Sector."
"There has been a lot more reports on Yuugenshu breaching Hyouketsu Kyoukai recently."
"............ Sorry, Leon."
The rhythmic sound of footsteps suddenly stopped.
"There is no need for Syun-rei to apologize, since I am existing for that very reason."
Swaying his pure white coat, the teenage boy named 'Leon' turned backwards.
Soft yet determined. The teenage boy of these two traits has a handsome face that makes both males and females turn back to take another look at him.
His stout figure is coupled with a height of over hundred and eighty centimeters tall. There is no excessive fat or flab to be seen on his well-trained body. The figure of his makes one think of a well forged blade.
"The floating continent will not be able to survive without the Priestesses or the Queen. So please be more confident of yourself, Syun-rei."
After giving a wry smile to the black-haired girl who was sticking tightly to his back, the silver-haired boy took a turn at the passageway, while regulating his pace to match that of the girl's.
"In any case, let us report that to the other Priestesses. Who is currently around?"
"............ Ymy and Meimel."
"Run should be informing Meimel about it, so we are left with Ymy huh- hmm?"
Leon stopped walking. The teenage girl, who had been hiding behind him all these while, had suddenly tugged the sides of his coat. That is her habit, which means she has something to say.
"............ Ymy is currently training. She is at the Training Level at two hundred and seventy sixth-story...... it should be done soon."
"Is that so. Then it can't be helped. We shall just wait until then."
While sticking tightly to Leon's back, the girl named 'Syun-rei' was bewildered.
The teenage boy, who is her personal guardian, is one of the best swordsman of the floating continent, as well as the most well known training fanatic. She had originally thought that he will be sweating it out in his personal training room, until Ymy's training is over.
"I will have to inform Ymy such an important news as quickly as possible...... I'll just go to the training room later."
Leon gave a sigh. Perhaps he was thinking about the same thing.
The place he was heading to was not the elevator of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, but the spiral staircase for emergency use. It was probably so that he can more or less exercise his body by climbing the stairs.
"Syun-rei, do you want to take the elevator instead?"
Upon facing that question from Leon, Syun-rei considered for a moment. No, she had pretended to consider.
Her answer had been decided all along.
"............ I'll be with Leon."
In a rare sight, Syun-rei went to his front, and showed a light smile - the two of them are inseparable. That's right, that is the relationship between her and him.
The five Priestesses who entrust their lives and their everything to their guardians, so that they can focus on praying.
And the strongest guards that put their lives on the line to protect all of these, the Sennenshi.
Priestess Syun-rei, and her guardian, Sennenshi Leon.
Along with the neat pacing and sound of footsteps, the two of them walked down the spiraling stairs of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> together.
A world of ice.
At a temperature tens of degrees below zero, where all time of life stops. Without any need of special machines, the temperature was maintained purely by the azure ice which filled the room.
A silent space, where even air would not flow.
"It has been thirty-six hours since the activation of the barrier. The training ends here.
It has been hard on you, Priestess Ymy Ele Soufflenictole."
A mechanical voice came from the ceiling that gave off a blinding light.
*...... kra...... pra...... kura......*
The azure ice which filled the room began to crack.
A hair-like crack of merely a few millimeters. It gradually widened. Initially, it was just on the surface of the azure ice, but it spread into the interiors of the ice as well-
The huge azure ice, which covered over an astonishing area of thousands of square meters, cracked open. The small pieces of ice that flew into the air became smaller and smaller.
On the leftover waters on the ground, stood a girl with light-golden hair, that is close to a full brilliance of real gold.
She looked into the ceiling, extended her arms out wide, and took a deep breath.
Her body had been frozen for thirty six consecutive hours. In that frozen state, the body stops breathing as well, and it will not breathe if one does not do so deliberately.
After a few repeated breaths, she inhaled in yet another deep breath.
Hugging onto her wet naked body, Ymy cried out.
"So cold...... I am...... nearly....... frozen!"
The barriers of ice that were created out of the shinryoku from her body.
For a barrier spell that locks down 'Yuugenshu', even if it is of a simplified form for training purposes, it still brings about a huge burden on the physical and mental state of the caster.
"....... It feels so terrible every single time."
The body's shivering had not stopped.
With her pale white lips, she quickly walked into the showering room, which was separated by a door.
Upon opening the door, the scent of body soap, together with the warm mist of water, brushed past her hair. At the same time, waters of moderate temperature began falling down from the shower head on the ceiling.
*Shaaaaaa*...... The sounds of the water spray, similar to that of a rain, were comforting to the ears.
Ymy closed her eyes to enjoy the feeling of her ice-cold body gradually regaining its warmth.
—How are you right now?
Are you living fine in the living sector? Do you still train your sword-play everyday, like you did two years ago? Or have you been living the life of a commoner ever since you had been exiled from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>?
"But...... What was I doing? I was actually thinking of things like these during such an important training."
She shook her head, and picked up a bunch of her dripping wet hair, then stared into the misty, shiny gold hair for a long while-
"Fufu- It feels different to shower in the day-"
A door at the end of the changing room slowly opened.
"...... This lazy voice, is it Meimel?"
She stopped her showering and turned her body. In front of her, stood a beautiful tall lady.
Her emerald green hair cascaded down past her back like a bunch of fine threads. Her grey eyes that were looking at Ymy were filled with gentleness as well.
"I am still showering."
"Ara ara- isn't that Ymy? Sorry- it seems like I have entered the wrong showering room or something—?"
A woman whose slender figure was paired with a light-colored ceremonial robe - Meimel. Similar to Ymy, she is one of the five Priestesses of the floating continent.
"...... Can you please enlighten me - this is my personal-use training level, my personal-use training room, and my personal-use showering room. So how exactly did you manage to get to the wrong place?"
"Don't say it like that. As your senior Priestess, I do hope to share the troubles that my juniors are facing - isn't it better to chose a place like this where we will not be interrupted by someone else, when we are talking about your private matters?"
"Sharing my troubles?"
Upon being asked by Ymy, the senior Priestess gave a know-it-all smile,
"It seems like you are still not too used to barrier-type spells yet - your body was nearly frozen just by a mere thirty-six hours of training, right?"
"...... I have always been working hard."
"Well- actually, that is what I am most curious in."
Meimel touched her beautifully shaped chin with her fingertips, and did a pose suggesting that she was deep in thought.
"In actual battles - during the times when you were really supporting Hyouketsu Kyoukai, Ymy had actually performed really well. So why is it only during your training, do your art of Hyouketsu Kyoukai become rough, and you burn a lot of physical energy?"
...... Ymy could not rebut.
Meimel in Carnation is the second Priestess in ranking. Being the Priestess most well-versed in barrier arts out of the five Priestesses, she could naturally see past all that in a single glance.
"The key to the barrier-type spells lies in being in a peaceful state of mind. You will have to suppress your inner feelings, and maintain a quiet state that surpass that of a plant or a rock. However, it seems like Ymy is distracted during training."
"N...... Nothing of that sort!"
Ymy shook her head in a hurry, and wiped away the face of the teenage boy from her mind.
Maybe that was really how it was. Despite it not being obvious, she did suddenly think of that boy during her training from time to time...... She was troubled by a confusing feeling.
—Sheltis, do you still remember the reason of me being a Priestess?
—It is because you had always been by my side, that I am able to hold on until now.
"In...... In any case, I am fine! In the real situations, I'll put in my all!"
"Mmm...... I guess. As of now, there had been no problems regarding your concentration during actual combat."
After shifting her white fingers away from her chin, Meimel said yet again,
"Alright, let us not talk about that. I say, Ymy. Recently-"
Upon being stared at by Meimel who was putting on a strange smile, Ymy could not help but to take a step back.
In actual fact, she had noticed that Meimel had been eyeing her body for quite a while now. The look from her eyes seems suspicious, or rather, lewd-
"Fufu, compared to the barrier-type spells, your development in 'that area' is much more significant-"
"...... Wait...... Wait a second, where are you looking at!"
She covered her breasts in a hurry, but the Priestess in front of her just seemed to get happier.
"What's wrong with that? Syun-rei had said that Ymy's body has been developing really fast recently, and she is rather envious about it."
"Syun-rei will not say things like that!"
Ymy stopped drying her hair with her towel for a moment, and felt a sense of helplessness.
...... Sigh- She is actually a really beautiful girl, if only she will shut her mouth and stop talking.
She has a gentle and charming face, as well as a slender and well-toned body. Her powers as a Priestess is rather exceptional as well. If she were to stand there and to remain quiet, she will be an absolute beauty. Just that she will be like that, once she opens her mouth.
"Well, do you have anything else?"
"Mhmm- Syun-rei was waiting for you outside of this room. She had went back to her room, after waiting for quite a while. It seemed to be something important, so you better hurry over."
Ymy had no idea how to reply.
The Priestess in front of her does have a rather strange personality, but she has always spare a thought for others, without them knowing - just like now. However, no matter what, she should not have chosen to barge in at time when one is bathing.
Ymy turned her head to a side, then walked into the changing room that Meimel was in. After putting on her robe in a flash, she once again turned towards the senior Priestess behind her.
"See you Ymy. Well then, I shall take a shower too-"
"That's fine, but please use the shower room at your own level."
After chasing away Meimel who was about to remove her clothes, Ymy locked the door securely.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, two hundred and eighty seventh story.
At the story close to the peak, the rooms there not only functions as the private space of Priestess Ymy,
But it is also her home as well.
She stretched out her hand in front of the door. What followed was the verification of her voice, thumbprints, pulse and visual image. After those verifications, the door opened with an mechanical exhaust sound.
"I am back, Ilis."
This is a private room specially assigned for a Priestess. The room is spacious enough to have no problem accommodating a family of four, but for Ymy who is living alone, such a huge space becomes a sort of trouble for her as well.
"Welcome back, Ymy. First, a report - about one hour eight minutes and thirty seconds ago, Syun-rei and Leon had stopped by. The two of them will be coming by again later."
A mechanical female voice came from the desk in the middle of the room.
"Mmm, Meimel informed me about it. I am planning to go out again."
On the round wooden table, a machine crystal was giving off a blue light.
"Ah, another thing. Though I know you were undergoing the barrier's training, it was still too boring for me to wait for thirty six hours. In order to kill time, I had created a report detailing Ymy's weights for the past two weeks, as well as a prediction on their trends for the next three years. Do you wish to know the outcome of the prediction?"
"...... You must be really bored."
"For this weekend, as you will be attending Meimel's tea party in the day and making muffins with Syun-rei at night, there will be a predicted increase of thirty percent in your calorie intake. Please take note."
Machine Crystal <Ilis>.
It is an artificial-intelligence terminal with the appearance of a crystal. Up until two years ago, it belonged to a boy named Sheltis, and currently she is who Ymy talks to everyday.
"Then there is next week, regarding Meimel's invitation for lunch-"
"...... Let's just stop there, Ilis. I want to go to Syun-rei's room."
Machine crystal <Ilis> gave an unsatisfied voice.
"Well then, let me go along with you. Since I have nothing to do anyway."
"Fine, fine. I'll bring you along, but don't get too mouthy."
After wearing machine crystal <Ilis> on her neck, Ymy headed towards the door yet again.
Ymy took a brief look at the empty passageway, then walked towards the junction in the middle. The whole of two hundred and eighty seventh story is shared only by Ymy and Syun-rei.
"I think, I should just head to Syun-rei's room first?"
She walked quickly towards the junction - at the turn, she passed by a guy who was carrying huge objects on his shoulders. He was in his teenage years, and had probably arrived at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> not too long ago.
"Ah, good afternoon."
For some unknown reason, the guy gave a shriek upon seeing Ymy.
"Urm, good afternoon?"
"Eh...... Ah...... Good...... good afternoon!"
"That looked heavy, are you alright? Do you need me to help carry it to the lift?"
"It's...... It's fine! Sorry to disturb you!"
With that, the guy grabbed onto the objects on his shoulders tightly, and dashed towards the direction of the lift.
What was left was Ymy standing there in her lonesome, with her hands about to stretch out.
"Ahh- how pitiful. That is probably a staff who have just came here not too long ago. To be called by a Priestess all of the sudden, and the Priestess had gracefully offered to help - it's not strange to find him in such a state of shock."
"...... I have no intention to scare him."
Machine crystal <Ilis> hanging in front of her chest gave a soft wry laughter,
"The Priestesses are the representative symbols of the floating continent. It is natural for that staff to be that shocked."
"That is true considering our stands, but......"
No matter what, she still felt slightly sad, for the staff to be that afraid of her. It was not like she was planning to eat him - it was just a greeting.
"Before I have became a Priestess...... Just one year ago, I was just an ordinary girl as well."
Her robe swayed with her footsteps. That is the robe bestowed to her by the Queen herself, at the Priestess' inauguration ceremony. Ymy's robe has a white base, that is matched with reddish-blue lines.
It signaled her accomplishing her lifelong dream to become a Priestess. However, at the Priestess' inauguration ceremony a year ago, that teenage boy was not around to see her in her current clothes.
"That's right. I hope that you have more self-awareness as well."
Sounds of sturdy footsteps rang from her back.
"...... Director Albert?"
"It has been a while, Priestess Ymy. I feel deeply honored that you have remembered my name."
A middle-aged man who is taller than Ymy by a head's height, was greeting her respectfully.
He is Albert, the director of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, who is in charge for maintaining and managing the place. He had worn his suit very meticulously. His already stern looks was coupled with an expression of a stare.
"I had seen everything, regarding the incident with the newcomer. I am not very pleased with that."
Despite his words being quite polite, there was a tone of reproach in his voice.
"...... But, he is someone working in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, just like us."
"We have been deeply concerned about your self-awareness for a while. For a year since you have became a Priestess, I have frequently reminded you about similar things as well."
After what seemed to be a sigh, Albert knitted his eyebrows.
"The Queen and the five Priestesses who have been sustaining the floating continent. Priestess Ymy, you are one of them. Due to all of you erecting and maintaining the barrier, this floating continent has been spared from the invasion of Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>."
Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> - the world at which the Yuugenshu resides.
It is a black territory located at ten thousand meters below the floating continent.
It is filled with pitch-black miasma and flows of black muddy waters. Regardless of the strength of light use to shine into the place, one cannot see what the interiors are like. Yuugenshu exists in a strange place like that, and have continuously tried to invade the floating continent.
"It is the Queen and the Priestesses who have frozen and barricaded that dreadful Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. Due to that, you are the guardian angel that sustains this floating continent, and the figure of admiration for the people here."
Ymy took the stare from the director head on.
"...... I am well aware of that. After all, I am the Priestess who was bestowed of the title by the Queen herself. I do know what my responsibilities are, and I have not once slackened on my training."
Till now, no one knows the real form behind the mysterious mist-like presence of the Yuugenshu. Under the attack of tens of thousands of Yuugenshu that came from Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, the floating continent had came close to being destroyed several times.
It is the Queen then, possessing the strongest shinryoku, who had saved the continent from the multiple crisis.
A barrier named 'Hyouketsu Kyoukai' has successfully frozen the whole of Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. That was something that had happened a thousand years ago. The barrier has been upheld ever since, and the spell was passed down several times, up until today. Currently, it is the Queen and her supporting five Priestesses who are in control of the barrier.
"If so, you should be more self-aware of your situation. Priestesses are the symbols of mystery and hope. You cannot come into contact with anyone as you please, just because they are the people of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Being the guardian of the floating continent, I hope that you can maintain a certain level of prestige as well."
—Is that really so? Do I really need to maintain a certain level of prestige in order to protect the floating continent?
Ymy swallowed back those words that were about to come out of her mouth.
The Priestesses that protects the floating continent, holds a rank that is unrivaled in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, not even if the opposite person is the director of the tower. All a Priestess need to say is "Shut up", and everyone will have no choice but to obey. It was precisely so, that Ymy has always chose to endure. If she was to retort back, the man in front of her will lose all his rights of speech.
...... I do not wish to use the authority of a Priestess to shield myself.
"Actually, the reason for me being here is to discuss with you about another thing."
Perhaps that man had realized that. His stare became even sharper.
"Priestess Ymy, why have you not assigned your own personal guardian?"
"...... You are referring to my Sennenshi?"
"Yes. Not just me, but the directors of shinryoku bureau, legal-affairs bureau and mechanical bureau as well. This has been the topic of discussion among various directors during our meeting, and has been brought up multiple times. You are the only Priestess left who has not decided on a Sennenshi, whose role is to protect you from the harms of Yuugenshu. What will you do without the protection of a Sennenshi, should there be an assault from the Yuugenshu? Should there be anything that happens to you, it will turn into a huge crisis for whole of the floating continent. You should know that better than anyone else."
The barriers created from the Priestesses' prayers - Hyouketsu Kyoukai does has its limits.
There are still the rare few Yuugenshu that can slip through the barrier that seals Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. The people responsible with dealing with those Yuugenshu are the guards of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Martial arts, swords, guns and heavy artillery - there are over a thousand guards specializing in various different combat techniques, and they are tasked with protecting the floating continent around the clock.
"The Priestess has the privilege to pick anyone whom she trust the most, out of all the guards in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, to be her personal guardian. I don't think I have to repeat that rule to you, right?"
"I...... I'll decide on it soon! I am just deliberating...... on who to be my Sennenshi!"
"You had said the exact same thing a month ago."
"It shall end here, Director."
The silver-haired young man who reminds one of sharp blades.
Fair skin, together with a height that is way taller than the director's. The well toned physique was well emphasized even through his pure white coat.
"The Priestess entrust her life to her Sennenshi, in order for her to be able to focus on maintaining the barriers better. Since she is to entrust her life onto someone else, Ymy naturally wishes to consider on it carefully. That is how I feel, as a Sennenshi."
Leon Nestorius Ova - the most well-known great sword user from the whole of the floating continent. He is also a guy whom Ymy knows before they have even entered into Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
"But Sennenshi Leon. No matter what, for her to go on for a year without the protection of a Sennenshi, that is just......"
"Director. May you please consider, the reason for the personal guardians of the Priestesses to be named 'Sennenshi'."
This time, Leon's rebuttal had caused the middle-aged man to remain silent.
That was something that had happened a thousand years ago, back when the barrier sealing Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> had still not been erected.
Upon being besieged by a huge amount of Yuugenshu, the Queen sought the oath from the last standing guard that was beside her - those words are something that everyone from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> can recite with ease.
"...... Will you always be by my side?"
"Do not show such an uneasy expression. For that, I am willing to sing the lullaby for you. Even when you sleep, I shall be forever by your side."
"The lion never sleeps. If you so desire, it can be for hundreds, even thousands of years."
The huge organization tasked with the job to protect Orbie Clar - Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
The strongest five person out of the thousand guards in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, are the Sennenshi. The origin of that name is said to come from the oath between the Queen and her guard.
"I know the Director is worried about Ymy's safety. However, to a Priestess, the matter of Sennenshi is just so important. Can you give her more time to think about it, regarding the candidate for her Sennenshi?"
At one side, was the director of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, who is in charge of the whole operation of the tower. On the other side, stood the man handpicked by a Priestess, the strongest swordsman of the floating continent.
The two of them clashed with each other heads on, despite not speaking a word.
"—Seems like the meeting is about to begin."
The person to back down by himself, was Director Albert.
"Priestess Ymy, I have to stress yet again. No matter what, please appoint your Sennenshi as quickly as possible."
The middle-aged man, whose expression had not changed since their encounter, disappeared in the direction towards the lift.
...... What a relief. Ymy pressed both of her hands on her chest, and took deep breaths to calm her body down. The few minutes of encounter had already caused huge beads of sweat to appear on her forehead.
"Thanks for your help, Leon."
"Man, I really can't see who is holding the higher position there, between the director and the Priestess."
The silver-haired young man said wryly with his arms crossed.
"Alright, Syun-rei. You can come out now, everything's over already."
The black-haired girl, who was sticking tightly behind Leon, stuck her head out timidly.
The buds of spring, Syun-rei. [TLNote: Her name is actually 春蕾 in Kanji. Fist Kanji is spring, second is bud. Furigana has the name as シュンレイ. A really good name, imo.]
She is a Priestess wearing a robe made of red and white cloths, with a purple sash tied at her chest. Though she is seventeen, the same as Ymy, she looks to be a year or two younger, due to her small frame, her baby face and her introvert personality.
"............ Ymy, are you alright?"
"Mmm, thanks to both of you, Syun-rei and Leon...... I would not have known what to do otherwise."
"It does seem strange to others, for a Priestess who has not chosen her Sennenshi for so long."
It was precisely as he had said. Just like how Syun-rei had chosen Leon, Ymy will have to choose a guard from the Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> to be her Sennenshi as well.
"...... I know very well, that I have to choose someone. But, whenever I think of that......"
My chest will start to hurt, and it gets difficult to breathe. Is it really fine to pick someone from the current available guards - the voice that echoes in her mind has been tormenting her endlessly.
"Are you still waiting for that person?"
"I don't know...... it hurts so much, precisely because I don't know how I myself feel."
—Sheltis. Are you really not coming back?
—Is it really fine for me to choose someone other than you as my Sennenshi?
"............ That person?"
"Ah, no. It's nothing, Syun-rei."
The only people in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> who knows about the relationship between Ymy and Sheltis is Leon. No, strictly speaking there is another person, although it is not quite accurate to use the term 'person'. It is the thing hanging in front of Ymy's chest-
"Sorry to change the topic, Leon. Seems like you had just went to Ymy's room?"
"Is that Ilis? Long time no see."
Looking at machine crystal <Ilis> in front of Ymy's chest, Leon gave a wry smile.
"Long time no see, Leon. I've heard that you are still a training fanatic, even after promoted to be a Sennenshi."
"Well of course."
"Fufu. Syun-rei, you should be feeling really secure, to have Leon as your guardian."
Upon seeing the teenage girl nodding her head with a blush, Leon stared at Ilis exasperatedly.
"Ilis, stop teasing Syun-rei already."
"No no, that is my heartfelt truth, you know? Going back to the point, please state your intentions in visiting Ymy."
"You are really in high spirits," Leon mumbled, while crossing his arms.
"Whatever...... Ymy, there is something that I wish to tell you. Syun-rei had sensed the presence of Yuugenshu, and it came from Park Number Four, at the south of the nature sector."
Ymy almost thought she had heard it wrongly. That place is located near to the Third Living Sector. The routes where children take nature hikes passes by there frequently. Many families go there for sightseeing as well.
"Well, how's the damage?"
"...... I think, there should be no damage done."
The person who replied was Syun-rei, who was standing in front of Leon. The people whom she can talk to beside Leon, are probably the four other Priestesses. Syun-rei will run away immediately if she ever sees the tower's staff.
"That...... when I arrived there with Leon, the Yuugenshu......"
Upon noticing that Syun-rei was looking at him in hesitation, Leon nodded his head.
"When we had arrived, the Yuugenshu was already defeated by an unknown person."
"Strong traces of mateki were left on the ground, but the Yuugenshu was destroyed due to its crystal core being shattered. What was left was the remains of mateki when we reached there."
...... It can't be? Ymy covered her mouth, and looked into the ceiling.
There exists Yuugenshu of the size of a small cat, and yet with mateki strong enough to bring down a small dragon. There are also Yuugenshu big enough to swallow a whole aircraft. Even if there is only one, it is not something that a typical person from the living sector can handle with ease.
"Are there members of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> nearby? Like the apprentice-Priestesses, or shinryoku-spellcasters."
"Nope. That's what confuses me and Syun-rei. The shinryoku of a normal person should not be able to resist the mateki of the Yuugenshu."
The cursed powers of Yuugenshu - mateki.
On the other end, the power opposite to mateki, which humans possess - shinryoku.
'The power that allows miracles to penetrate throughout the world', that is how the name 'shinryoku' came about. Different uses of the energy can invoke different phenomenons. Just like a magnet, it has repulsive properties against mateki. [TLNote: I've explained the kanji of shinryoku at the end of intermission chapter]
Upon being born into the world, humans will carry shinryoku of various degrees in them. However, the power will gradually weaken if they do not consciously train it consistently.
"I too, do not think that there is someone from the living sector with shinryoku comparable to that of yours and Syun-rei."
"...... I think so as well."
The difficult training to become a Priestess, cannot be described with just the word, 'miserable', alone.
There is a very strong connection between one's shinryoku and mental strength. Similar to using boiling water to bring out the fragrance from the red tea leaves, one must force her mental conditions to the limit, before her shinryoku can blossom.
That includes praying in the blizzard, and training under burning hot conditions, where one's sweat will evaporate in an instant. Such training can carry on for days without sleep, and it was done when the girls had not yet reached the age of ten. For the past five years, only two person had managed to succeed out of the thousand of apprentices. Both Ymy and Syun-rei had endured past the training, and were standing right here.
That's right - it was all so that they can control 'Hyouketsu Kyoukai', which seals the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>.
"Hyouketsu Kyoukai is currently maintained by the Queen, so it should be in a stable state."
The records of the past few days had shown that the activities of Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> were of low levels - however, it was still dangerous for a Yuugenshu to be that close to the living sector.
"I understand. I'll be more careful as well."
"That's great - speaking of which, about the fact that the Yuugenshu was defeated at Park Number Four, there is only one ordinary person who can do it, that came to mind. It is the person whom you are most familiar with."
An ordinary person, who I am familiar with?
"Leon, could it be Sheltis that-"
Halfway through, she was interrupted by the speakers from the ceiling.
"Oi~, is Leon there?"
From the speakers mounted at the ceilings, came the voice of a girl.
"Is that Run?"
Leon retained his crossed-arms posture, and looked at the speakers above.
"Oh, there you are! I am really bored now, so lets have some training. Or else I'll get bored to death."
"How about your subordinates?"
"Mmm- they did improve recently, but it still won't do. How should I say it? It feels smashing each time I duel against you. Well then, let us meet at my training room ten minutes later, at floor two hundred and seventy four. Later!"
"Oi, oi, I am not done yet-"
The speakers became silent yet again.
"Damn Run, she's got some guts, to cut me off after saying what she wants."
A dangerous smile appeared on Leon's face. Syun-rei looked at him rather timidly.
"Are you going, Leon?"
"Of course. A man can never run away from any challenge."
Leon quickly walked towards the door, before anyone could stop him.
...... He really has not changed.
Ymy chuckled while watching his back as he walked with firm steps.
He is usually calm and collected, but when he faces any sort of challenge, he will immediately turn into a stubborn young boy who hates losing. The personality of the silver-haired young man is that straightforward.
He has not changed. It has always been so ever since Sheltis, Leon and herself knew each other.
"............ Ymy, are you going?"
"Ah, I wish to watch as well. Let's go."
"Mmm- it does not hurt to take a look."
Under the persuasion of Syun-rei and machine crystal <Ilis>, Ymy caught up with Leon as well.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Two hundred and seventy fourth story.
After walking out of the elevator, what appeared before their eyes was a huge space shinning in the brilliance of copper-green light.
The copper-green light came from the shine of the metals that were exposed to light. Not just the floor, but the all the surfaces other than the side walls, the ceilings and the lighting, have been covered by thousands of heat-resistant and shock-absorbing plates.
This room was designed by the Sennenshi who owned the story, and it is specially used for training.
"Ara, Ymy is here as well-"
There was a lady sitting on the metal chair in the room. She was a Priestess with a beautiful body, and was wearing a light-colored gown.
"What's wrong, Ymy? You don't look too happy."
"...... No, I am just thinking, could this be some sort of crazy idea from Meimel."
"Fufu. The practice duel between two Sennenshi is something huge, you know? I can take this opportunity to understand my guardian better as well. Ah, come here, Syun-rei, so that we can share some snacks together-"
Meimel gestured Syun-rei enthusiastically, and placed a box full of cookies onto her knees.
"Well then- Run and Leon, all the best to both of you-"
"Oi oi, Meimel. At a time like this, shouldn't you be focused on supporting me?"
At about twenty meters away from the trio.
The teenage girl facing Leon was crossing her arms, and looking rather annoyed. That's right, that girl is the Sennenshi in charge of protecting Priestess Meimel.
"Fufu, it is a wiser option to support both sides at the same time-"
"...... Forget it, I can't win you with words anyway."
The girl who looks very tomboyish, with her yellow hair cut casually - Run. [TLNote: original is flax-seed colored hair, but......]
Her amber eyes gave a mischievous shine, and on the whole, she reminds people of a cat. Her clothing were just a pair of white shorts, and a pure white short-sleeved jacket. Compared to Leon's bulky coat, her clothes looked considerably lighter.
"Mmm, the usual - no restrictions."
Standing in front of Leon who was inquiring on the rules, Run took out a pair of gloves made of black steel.
On the other hand, Leon's right hand was grabbing on what looked like the hilt of a great sword. From its shape, it seemed to be a hilt of a double edged sword. It was unquestionably a great sword, but the all important blade was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, the sounds of the wind re-vibrated in the room, and Leon's hand disappeared for an instant. At the next instant, there was a change to the hilt in his hand.
It was a blade that was giving off a blue brilliance.
Azure crystals had appeared from the hilt, and turned into the shape of a blade within an instant.
It was a blade created from the azure crystals that were extracted from Hyouketsu Kyoukai.
The frozen crystals created from shinryoku are not only tougher than metal, but they are also light and flexible. Not only that, the azure ice by itself is a form of crystallized shinryoku, thus enabling it to slice away the mateki from Yuugenshu.
Just when Ymy's eyes were hooked onto Leon's great sword, the necklace at her chest suddenly began to flash.
"Ymy, it can't be that you have forgotten the mechanics behind the appearance of the azure ice of Hyouketsu Kyoukai on Leon's hilt?"
Upon being asked that question by machine crystal <Ilis>, Ymy was temporarily shocked.
"Th-That's because....... we Priestesses know nothing about machines."
That is due to the Priestesses focusing on shinryoku. In the highly mechanized world, they are not too familiar with anything that has to do with the word 'machine'.
"The hilt in Leon's hand functions as a transporter as well. A vibrating sensor is installed in the hilt, that activates upon Leon fulfilling the criteria of swinging the hilt at supersonic speeds. What happens next is that pure azure ice will be transferred from Hyouketsu Kyoukai to the hilt, which will then be refined into the shape of a great sword."
Ilis explained it to Ymy once again after a deliberate sigh.
"Mmm- Then again, it's a really intriguing combination-"
Meimel gave her rare wry smile, while looking at the two Sennenshi.
Leon, with a robust physique, was holding onto a sword that was as long as his height in his hands.
On the other hand, the girl he was facing has a comparatively small frame. Not only that, Run had only put on a pair of black-steel gloves, and had not a single weapon in her hands.
"If I remember right, I should be leading with eight victories and seven defeats."
Run fights with her bare hands. In order to be able to come into contact with Yuugenshu that will normally destroy a human's body upon contact, Run's whole body has went through rites that engraved her body with marks, which grants her shinryoku.
"That's hard to say, since I had won twice consecutively recently. It seems like the goddess of luck is smiling on me."
"Dream on. Just you wait, I'll smack you up to the moon."
The two squabbled like children, and stepped backwards at the same time.
"Meimel, you shall give the signal to start."
"Alright~", the Priestess agreed with her mouth munching on something.
"Well, let's start when I am done with this cookie."
"Who the hell knows when that will be!"
Upon being retorted by both Run and Leon, Meimel gave a rather troubled look.
"You two are just..... Oh well, I'll just create a mock barrier."
"phia-So la telah sitra
<Begin praying by lighting up the three sided doors>"
Meimel's shinryoku began activation. That was the opening verse.
With that verse sung, an azure radiance began expanding, and covered the whole chair which the Priestess was sitting on.
"Doubling the first ballad
Chanting with the barrier series - the Arts of the Princess
With an informal interpretation of Tower's Law number seven
The second Priestess has requested for the use of shinryoku"
Shinryoku comes in the form of a wave.
Similar to how the ripples spread from the point where a drop of water strikes the surface of the lake, shinryoku has the property that permeates outward with its caster at the center point. What Meimel did was to sing her chants as transmitting waves, and used it to penetrate outwards into space. As a result, the speed of spreading of shinryoku increased by leaps and bounds.
"The rites in between...... that's too troublesome, so I'll skip.
Under the guidance of the barriers, everything up until the twenty-second power of the second verse shall be repeated - alright, activate."
Small dots of light tinier than snowflakes.
Just like the petals dancing in the winds, the faint lights swirled around Leon and Run, and brought about a gentle breeze. Meimel's mock barriers then expanded over an area of over a ten meters radius.
—At the same time, the two Sennenshi began their fight.
Run, with a slight smile, dashed straight at Leon.
She moved in a straight line without any excessive motion, and her speed was fast for a young girl just in her teenage years. However, in the eyes of the exceptional Leon, her speed seemed to be on the slow side.
In contrast, Leon did not even move.
The distance between the two were at ten meters...... eight meters...... seven, six...... five meters.
At then, Leon moved - just when Ymy had came to realize that from afar, he had already swung the great sword that is of the same length as his height.
The only thing seen was a flash of the azure blade, after which the howls of the wind followed.
Despite its weight being so heavy that even a grown man will have difficulty lifting it, Leon's swing of the sword still exceeded the speed of sound.
A slash that a normal person would not be able to react to, came crashing towards Run.
In the next instant, the body of the girl vanished.
...... Vanished? Leon lifted his head. Ymy followed his line of sight......
At the ceiling, about seven meters above his head, the female Sennenshi was standing upside down on its surface. The exceptional muscles that she was born with, together with her speed of response, had enabled Run to perform actions that are normally deemed impossible to a typical person.
Leon had landed in an unfavorable posture due to his miss. Run clenched her fists tight, and pounced onto the swordsman by kicking on the ceiling.
However, within the short time period where Run was descending from the ceiling to the ground, Leon had already positioned his blade vertically. Aiming at the girl that was approaching from above his head, he swung his great sword upwards.
A slash coming from the bottom.
The reflexes of a human does not allow one to change his direction while in midair. That is common knowledge.
However, that common knowledge was easily debunked by the tanned girl. At the instance where her fist and the swords crossed path, she twisted her body in midair and avoided Leon's sword, then followed up by striking hard on the body of the sword.
*Kan*, the blade of the sword, which is tougher than metals, gave a dull sound under the huge force.
Predicting that Leon would not let go of his sword, Run sprang off the sword and made a somersault in the air. With the momentum generated by the spin, she aimed her heel at Leon's head - everyone could see that the attack could not be dodged.
Even so, the Sennenshi holding his sword was hardly flustered. Knowing that he would not make it if he chose to block with the blade, he swung his hilt horizontally in order to parry away the Run's incoming heels.
*Zaa* - piercing sounds of friction and burns was generated. Under the lights, silver sparks flew about.
"That's the first time I have seen that. Is that a new move?"
While swaying his fringes, Leon stabbed his great sword onto the ground.
Due to the impact from the hilt, Run's heels had shifted considerably from it's intended position. In the end, her drop had only managed to shave off a few strands of Leon's fringe, before she landed back onto the metal plates on the floor.
"...... Mmm - that move had worked flawlessly on my subordinates every time. It looked like there is still spaces for improvements."
Upon returning to the ground, the girl gave a troubled expression.
"It would be better if you skipped the somersault and proceed straight for a kick."
"You think so too? I have always wish perform the action of somersaulting once in the air gracefully, before proceeding with a kitty-kick. Don't you think that is much cooler?"
"That is a heel drop, rather than a cat-kick."
"Mmm, wasn't it cute?"
Leon crossed his arms, while Run looked at him and answered cheerfully.
"Well, I am satisfied with trying it once. Well then, it is about time that I get serious."
Run stopped smiling, and removed her jacket. All that is left was a sports vest.
At the same time, the atmosphere became much colder. The sparring just now was too quick for Ymy to make much out of it with her naked eyes. However, that was just warming up for two Sennenshi.
A tense feeling lingered in the static airs of the scene. Then-
"Oi, Leon. Hurry up and put on your stance. What's wrong with you?"
The girl had first noticed the abnormality in the swordsman. The silver-haired young man had been staring at the great sword in his hands, while not moving an inch.
"...... Can't do. As expected, I am not in the mood to be doing this today."
With that, the blade in Leon's hands shattered into tiny pieces. After watching the frozen azure crystals melted and vanishing into thin air, the young man turned his back towards the girl.
"Oi oi! Did you eat something wrong?"
"I have always maintained myself in the best condition."
"If so, why-"
"...... I am sorry. I just thought of a weird person all of the sudden."
Leon focused his sight onto the hilt that had just lost its blade.
"A weird person?"
"A friend who I know long ago. He was stubborn and had insisted that dual swords are much better, despite me trying to convince him into using great swords...... Simply put, he is an irreplaceable, strong sparring partner."
"A strong sparring partner? How can there be any swordsman on the floating continent that can match you in terms of swords-play?"
Run scratched her head, looking all confused.
There are up to a thousand guards in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, out of which many are swordsman. However, Leon is the strongest out of all of them. The only people who are on par with Leon, are the Sennenshi, which includes Run. However, all the other Sennenshi specializes in their own weapons, and none of them wields a sword.
"Don't you always say that you can't find someone whom you can pit your swords against? Since there is no one in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> who can do so, then it is impossible for you to find anyone else from the floating continent."
"...... There is."
"Mmm? What did you say, Ymy?"
"Ah, no....... Noth...... Nothing."
With a painful expression, Ymy shook her head ever so lightly.
...... No, Run. There is really such a person.
Though he is not in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, but there is such a person on the floating continent. The person who Leon was about to name, before they had came to this training room. The only person who lived ordinarily in the living sector, but was able to defeat a Yuugenshu-
"There is only one person."
At the front of Ymy's chest, the machine crystal <Ilis> hanging from the necklace shone.
"A teenage boy by the name of Sheltis Magna Yehle."
She had wanted to cover machine crystal <Ilis>, but it was too late.
"Ymy, what is forbidden is coming into contact with Sheltis. However, his name itself is not included into the restriction - Leon, the person who you are thinking of is him too, right?"
Leon did not answer. However, from his motionless stance, it meant that he did not deny it either.
"Oi - you two and machine crystal <Ilis> over there, what are you guys talking about?"
"If I remember right - that name had appeared on the list of the permanently removed members of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, years ago."
Meimel crossed her arms in front of her chest, and stared into the ceiling, while deep in her thoughts.
"Run, that was something that happened before you have became a Sennenshi. Back then, Syun-rei and Ymy were still apprentice-Priestesses, while Leon was at the position of executive-guard, just one step away from rising to a Sennenshi, right-?"
"Oh- What about the details then, Ymy?"
No words could form successfully from her parched throat. In actual fact, she had not intended to tell it to anyone. That was because her heart was in a state of mess ever since that incident.
"Ymy, I should not be the one to talk, but regardless, this is a good chance for you to openly tell everyone about it clearly. You can just treat it as a sort of information, so that as Priestesses, Meimel and Syun-rei will know about it - that there is such a unique person living on this world."
In the silence, the Priestess sitting next to Ymy gave her an uneasy look.
"...... Ymy, if you do not wish to talk about it...... you do not have to force yourself."
"No. Thank you, Syun-rei, but I think Ilis is right."
Under the gaze of Syun-rei, Ymy nodded slowly.
"...... Sheltis is my childhood friend. We two had always been close to each other, and it was rare for us to be separated. But-"
The two of them were together even during meals, or while playing. She had thought that such a thing can go on forever. However, the thing that brought about a change to all that, was a letter.
"I was shocked...... It was written on the letter, that I had been chosen to be an apprentice-Priestess."
If she was to become a real Priestess, then she will have to spend nearly all her days at Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. As it is hard for commoners to obtain permission to visit the Priestesses, she may never get to see Sheltis ever again, if she was to become one. Despite so, Ymy had a reason to be one.
"I had thought about it for days...... and finally, I had decided to tell Sheltis about it. That was because, this continent has always been under the shadows of the Yuugenshu. Even if we are to live a stable life now, we will never know when we will be attacked by Yuugenshu in the future...... If I can become a Priestess and maintain the barriers, it will mean that I am protecting Sheltis as well. That was what I thought."
She hoped that she can protect the memories between them, as well as the floating continent which had matured her, with her own hands.
That's right. Her motive for becoming a Priestess is so that she can protect the ones who are most precious to her.
"Thus, I told Sheltis about my decision to enter Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>...... Though we have always been together, but sorry. It is about time that we say goodbye."
—To protect him, she had chosen to leave him.
It was inconceivable to her as well, as she could not hold back her tears. Even though it was a decision that she had finally made, after much deliberation.
However, he smiled and said to her crying self,
"This is not goodbye."
"Since Ymy wishes to become a Priestess to protect me, then I shall become a Sennenshi that protects Ymy. If so, we will be able to be together, right?"
"So stop crying, alright? Don't worry. I will definitely head to Ymy's side, to the peak of the tower."
"On the very day that Ymy entered into Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> as an apprentice-Priestess, Sheltis had entered into Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> as a guard as well. That was something which Sheltis told me personally."
There was someone by her side, who was working his hardest in order to protect her. Due to that sense of security, Ymy had managed to endure past the harsh training of a Priestess.
"To add on, while Ymy was enduring through the harsh training, Sheltis was working tirelessly to improve himself. Despite him not having any exceptional talents or build, he had managed to find himself a good opponent - am I right, Leon?"
"I have no comments on that."
The silver-haired young man smiled bitterly.
"Eh? So it is you?"
Run was surprised. As for Leon, he puffed up his chest, and showed a rare expression of pride.
"I'll say this first. I am leading with seven hundred and ninety three victories, against my seven hundred and ninety two defeats."
"Strange? Sheltis told me that his records are seven hundred and ninety three wins, with seven hundred and ninety two losses."
Upon being asked by Syun-rei, Ymy whispered into her ears with a wry laugh,
"One of those matches ended in a draw, but both parties felt they had won."
That's right. She and Sheltis, together with Leon whom they knew later, shared a very close relationship. The three of them had always sneaked out of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> to travel about, and the three of them were reprimanded together when they were caught.
—Despite the tough training on the route to become a Priestess, everything seemed so enjoyable when the three of them were together.
"However, it is not easy for someone to be on par with Leon. I can't fathom how an exceptional person like him would be removed off the list permanently."
"Run, you are right...... and that was something that happened in summer three years ago."
It was during the time when Ymy's grades were gradually rising above the rest of her fellow apprentice-Priestesses.
Sheltis was fourteen years old, while Leon was fifteen. Three years ago, the two of them had raised themselves to the position of the executive-guards in record time - the position of the Sennenshi-reserves.
"Back then, I was about to undergo the final test to become a Priestess, while Sheltis was sent to a new danger zone. It was the outskirts of Orbie Clar, the highest frequency of occurrence of the Yuugenshu."
The designated two weeks had past. Even when the third week was over, Sheltis was yet to return. Just when the uncertain Ymy was about to ask around about it, Leon appeared before her doorstep.
"............ There is something that I have to tell you."
"What's wrong, Leon? Why are you putting on such a painful expression?"
"Ymy, Sheltis will not be coming back."
"Eh? ...... Stop it, Leon...... don't joke about things like that."
"I don't believe it myself either. However, this is a report sent back by the members of Sheltis' team. Ymy, listen to me calmly. Sheltis-"
"I could not believe it, that Sheltis had fallen off the floating continent, and plunged into Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>."
The edges of the floating continent consist of cliffs and waterfalls.
One can only see the sky if he is to step off the cliffs. As such, Orbie Clar have installed walls around the edges to prevent people from falling off.
—Despite that, there are many that still fall off the edge of the floating continent.
Such as when their aircraft were assaulted by beasts, like the flying dragons. Or when they came under the attack of Yuugenshu, and so on.
The place they fall into, is the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, filled with poisonous miasma and mysterious black waters. If a human being is to fall into the place where Yuugenshu resides, the results are obvious...... Up till now, there has been no survivors.
"Ah, I had seen a report about that. It says that a member of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> had fallen into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. Although the name of the member was not revealed."
"That's right. You can still find traces in the electronic records of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. However, the records of what happened later has been deleted from the public records of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. What happened after that was-"
Ilis said that much in reply to Run's inquiry, before falling silent again.
"...... Ymy, I think it is better if you are the one to say it."
After breathing out the remaining air in her chest, Ymy took a slow breathe.
"Sheltis is still alive."
"...... Hold on, that person named Sheltis, isn't he dead? He had fallen into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, you know?"
"He had returned, from Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> back to the floating continent."
The expressions on Syun-rei, Run and Meimel froze. To have fallen into the mateki-filled Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, and not only survive, but to return back to the floating continent as well - such a miracle could not have happened.
"It's not just Ymy. I had seen that person with my own eyes as well."
With that, Leon grabbed onto his great sword tightly.
"Initially, Ymy and I could not believe our eyes either. With his clothes in tatters, and his body suffering from fatal wounds...... but that person was unquestionably Sheltis."
He is alive. Despite being at a loss at the sudden situation, Ymy still thanked the occurrence of such a miracle. She was crying, and wanted to hug him - and that was when the real tragedy began.
Until now, Ymy still dreams about that scene occasionally.
"What I cannot believe is...... why...... why couldn't I hold onto Sheltis' hands?"
Hugging, or even the simple gesture of holding hands, are no longer possible between the two of them.
That is all due to a phenomenon that could not have happened under normal circumstances.
"Mmm? What happened?"
"...... She couldn't hold his hands...... they are rejecting each other...... He had fallen into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>...... the energy opposite to that of shinryoku...... Ahh, could it be......"
Run knitted her eyebrows in confusion. In contrast, Syun-rei and Meimel both nodded their heads after looking at each other. Meimel then explained,
"Run, what will happen when strong forces of shinryoku and mateki comes into contact with one another?"
"Well...... Since they are two opposing energies, they should be repulsing each other. If both forces are extremely huge, then it will trigger the occurrence of the special phenomenon called 'Elbert Resonance'."
"Run...... I am sorry, but I do not wish to hear that term."
Elbert Resonance. The term which Run said, had caused Ymy to clench her teeth subconsciously.
...... I really do not wish to think of it again.
Two years ago, the pain of the taboo flames that sparked off between Sheltis and her.
"—Ehem. In any case, Run. You should have understood what had happened to Sheltis after he had fallen into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>, and the reason he and Ymy are repulsing each other."
"Mmm...... if that is the case, then Sheltis......"
Upon realizing the meaning behind Meimel's words, Run's expression turned somber in an instant.
"That's right. Sheltis has indeed survive after falling into Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. However, the shinryoku of a human is gone from his body, and what has replaced it is mateki from Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>."
"The energy unique to Yuugenshu - mateki. There has not been a single case in history where a human being had came into possession of mateki. At the same time, such a situation is not allowed. Should the public come to know of it, what will happen after will only be disputes and chaos. The various bureau of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> naturally do not wish for the existence of Sheltis to be exposed as well-"
Meimel said to Ilis, her eyes shining with a knowledgeable brilliance.
"Generally, that's how it is. Of course, there were no records in regards to that."
"Fufu. But there should be another reason, for the people to be in such a state of panic? It should concern the Queen and us Priestesses, and Hyouketsu Kyoukai as well."
"As expected of Meimel. Such deep insights."
Ilis gave praise to Meimel, who seemed to be enjoying the task of unraveling the mysteries.
"The reason for the state of panic of the upper brass, was because the mateki that is inside of Sheltis is something of an unknown existence. If the mateki-bearing Sheltis is allowed to continue staying in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, there will be no one who can guarantee the safety of the Queen or the Priestesses. Neither can they ensure that Hyouketsu Kyoukai will not come under any negative influence. As such, after much discussions from the knowledgeable ones, the decision was to exile Sheltis from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. All his contributions, feats and everything about his past has been erased as well."
Ymy and Leon had voiced their opposition as well. However, as both of them had deep ties with Sheltis, they were deemed to be just shielding Sheltis, despite how much they had pleaded.
"Simply put, it had been decided that it will be best for Sheltis to be as far away from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> as possible. Though that was probably the only option available to them at that point of time, but it still leaves a bitter taste in your mouth."
Just like Meimel had said, Run was putting on a gloomy expression, as though she could not accept the truth.
"In any case, everyone, please keep this a secret."
"I am planning to do just that- but I have one final question. Isn't that right, Ymy?"
Unknowingly, the Priestess dressed in her gown had directed her sight towards Ymy. That seemingly harmless smile was mixed with a bit of a piercing glare from Meimel.
"For a year since you have became a Priestess, you have still not chosen your Sennenshi yet."
—As expected, it was about that.
Sweat was coming out of the palms of her clenched fist...... in the end, the senior Priestess had noticed that as well. She was most afraid of being accused of that, when she had talked about the matter regarding Sheltis.
"Are you still waiting? Waiting for the return of the boy named Sheltis."
First, there was silence, and then-
At the moment when she made that answer, her heart felt a throbbing pain that made her felt like vomiting blood.
"I am perfectly clear...... that as a Priestess, I cannot get caught up with my personal feelings. I...... I am just deliberating on who I should pick."
With each and every word forced out of her mouth, the taste of blood gradually began to spread in her mouth. She understood very well what Meimel was trying to say. However- even so, it still hurts for her to be actually saying it.
"I guess. It is rather harsh, but that is the correct course of action. Should anything happens to you, the floating continent will sink into danger - you do know, that a Priestess can absolutely not die. Even if we have to sacrifice others, we will have to survive, in order to maintain Hyouketsu Kyoukai. As such, the Priestesses should never be influenced by their own personal feelings."
"Alright, I was just mimicking the words of the directors from the various bureaus of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>."
Suddenly, the look from Meimel softened down.
"I am not asking you to pick your Sennenshi immediately. After all, the Queen <Salah> has not said anything about it, right? If so, it means that she has accepted your willfulness to a certain degree."
Queen Salah. She is the lady who is holding the position as the mistress of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
She owns shinryoku of the highest purity on the floating continent, and is constantly praying in order to maintain Hyouketsu Kyoukai, which freezes the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. Ymy and the rest of the Priestesses are her support, and can be considered to be her apprentices.
"Well then, I should get going - Ymy, you rest well too."
The Priestess gracefully stood up, gave a light smile, and left.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, two hundred and eighty seventh story.
"............. I'm beat."
After changing into her pajamas, Ymy laid on the bed of her room.
"Ymy, your robe will be creased if you do not place it properly after taking it off."
The observant machine crystal <Ilis> on the table reminded her. She fits the role of someone to chat with well enough, but the only bad point about her is that she can be rather strict.
"...... The fairies will tidy things up for me when I sleep."
"It's not the fairies, but the attendants."
—Back then, it had always been Sheltis who had helped me to tidy things up.
Ymy was in charge of cooking, while he was in charge of cleaning things, as well as washing of clothes. Due to them constantly splitting up the work that way, Ymy became poor at washing and tidying, while Sheltis was not good at cooking.
"In any case, take a rest. You are left with two days and four hours, before you have to take the stage again."
The praying of the absolute barrier - Hyouketsu Kyoukai, is done at the highest story in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Hyouketsu Kyoukai is constantly being maintained, by the prayers done in rotation between the Queen and the Priestesses. There are three days left, before it is Ymy's turn to take over from the Queen.
"There is no need to worry. It had went on rather smoothly during my mock training as well. It is the job of a Priestess to ensure that her body gets sufficient rest, in order to tune it to be at its best condition."
She buried her face into the pillow. The pillow gave off a light fragrance, which induced a comfortable drowsiness.
"You are right, it is your job to keep your body in the perfect condition...... Oh right Ymy, you can continue lying down, but just turn over for a moment."
After turning her body over, she faced machine crystal <Ilis>.
"This...... this reading! Ymy, you are totally......"
"That's really scary...... According to my censors, your bust size has increased yet again? There is a saying, that a child will grow faster if she gets more sleep, but Ymy's body had developed at such a shocking pace in the short time span of just two years. I think you will kill most guys just by wearing your robe and puffing up your chest- Whoa!"
Upon being pressed on by the pillow flung at it, machine crystal <Ilis> became silent for an instant.
"...... Ymy, it really hurts."
"Stop picking up on Meimel's way of speaking."
After returning to the position of lying downwards, Ymy brought out a spare pillow.
"Meimel is a really outstanding senior Priestess. It always seems like she is teasing you, but that is her way of showing concern towards you."
"Half of it is definitely due to Meimel's personal interest."
"If Ymy says so, then so be it."
The machine crystal <Ilis> said with a teasing laugh.
"...... Let me ask you something, Ilis."
Ymy lifted her head from her pillow, and stared into emptiness.
"I...... am I a useless Priestess?"
"That is rather sudden."
"Because...... A Priestess is someone who puts her life on the line, in order to maintain the barrier, right? I do know that. However, the person whom I wants to protect the most, is no longer around...... what should I do then?"
It was all for Sheltis. She had became a Priestess for him.
However, she could not see him during the Priestess' inauguration ceremony, and Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> no longer have a place for him either. She had heard that he was forcefully brought to the living sector, but in actual fact she has heard nothing from him ever since.
"Since you are a Priestess, you will have to contribute to the floating continent. On the other hand, the young man who you want to protect the most, is at a place that is out of your reach. The feelings of a Priestess, and the feelings of a teenage girl, have came into conflict-"
The voice of machine crystal <Ilis> was firm, as though it was counselling her.
"......That is probably what you mean by 'being willful', right? That must be what is causing me to be unable to choose my Sennenshi, right?"
"Whether you are being willful or not, that is a rather subjective matter. But the reason for you to be unable to pick your Sennenshi, I think it must be due to the conflict that is occurring within you."
The conflict within me. There will come a day, when I have to make my decision-
"Regarding that question, Ymy will have to seek for the answer yourself."
"Mmm......." She hugged the pillow tightly in her chest, in replacement of her answer.
"Alright, we have chatted way too much. Time to switch off the lights."
The lights on the ceiling gradually disappeared. The sun-like brightness slowly dimmed into darkness - after a while, the lights of thousands of stars shone on the ceiling.
The projection of the night sky. Machine crystal <Ilis> had projected the night sky of Orbie Clar, based on its own memories. It was an endless sea of stars, glittering with the brilliance of gems. There was also the moon shining in clean bright whiteness, with its well-defined contours.
"Good night, Ymy. May you have a sweet dream."
"Good night, Ilis."
While being in a room that had replicated the night skies on its ceilings, Ymy lightly shut her eyes.