After a moment of silence.
Again, I am sorry. The missing text was due to the corresponding missing text in my pdf which I used for translations.
Here's part 1 of chapter 2. It's a long chapter. Enjoy.
"It's only the morning training, and yet you guys are all worn out already? Don't give me that, you brats!"
The furious roar from the instructor rang through the outdoor training grounds.
There are close to a thousand cadet guards, and ten instructors who are in charge of training everyone. While about half the cadet guards have already rose to the second rank and are already carrying out missions, the training grounds were still filled with people everywhere.
Sheltis was sitting leisurely on the bench at a corner of the training grounds.
He was murmuring the name of Eyriey's friend while staring at the training.
"Ah— can't do it. There is no way I can recognize her. If only they have her picture on the electronic name list."
Everything started from an hour ago.
"There are two people who fulfills the criteria."
After searching for 'Kagura' in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>'s electronic name list, he had obtained two results. However, there lies the problem.
— There are actually two person named 'Kagura'.
And Sheltis had no way of differentiating which Kagura was the one whom he was searching for.
One of them is from the computer development division of Towers Control, and is in charge of controls management.
The other seemed to be the same as Sheltis - a cadet guard.
"...... So who is the Kagura whom Eyriey was talking about?"
He scanned through the vast training grounds.
Out of the two Kaguras, he had decided to focus his attention on the cadet guard. After coming to the training ground with that intention in mind, he then realized that it was not easy to find a specific person within such a huge area.
The root of that problem lies in the fact that he had no idea how Kagura looks like, and he did not know any of her unique traits either.
"Since it's not easy to find her here, should I try looking at the Towers Control instead...... But I have never went to that floor before."
The other Kagura who is in the computer development division.
The computer development division maintains and manages the mainframe of the whole tower. That division has no direct link with Sheltis, who is a guard. Simply put, that floor is not a place where he could get close to easily.
"...... As with the way things are now, it's not about whether I like it or not. I'll just give them a visit."
He was about to stand up from the bench.
A female cadet guard walked past him.
A girl holding onto a pair of crossed rods <Rosario>, with her long sakura-colored hair tied behind her back.
On her beautiful face was a pair of grey eyes that were sharp and serene. Her slender figure could be seen clearly despite the pure white ceremonial clothing that she was wearing. Each of her hand was holding onto a crossed rod <Rosario> crafted out of black gold.
Just as he was thinking of her name, the other girl turned her head around at the same time as if their thoughts were connected. Her eyes widened.
"Ah, long time no—"
He did not have the chance to finish his greeting. Everything happened in an instant.
"Why didn't you tell me you have been discharged?"
"Eh? No, I am discharged, but I am still recuperating, so it's nothing huge."
The second 'idiot' from her.
However, that line was filled with gentleness that was missing from the first.
"Even so, you are to report that to me as well. Because I...... well..... I am very worried, you know?"
Monica turned her face to the side, perhaps so that she could use her sakura-colored hair to hide her blushing face.
"...... You're right. Sorry, I didn't think of that."
Thinking back, that was indeed the case. Monica had visited his ward countless times for the past two weeks. She must have been really worried about him.
"I am not demanding an apology from you. Then again, it's great that you are fine now."
Monica took a glance at the empty seat on the bench. Go ahead — after giving her a nod of approval, Monica sat herself on the other empty seat.
Sheltis sneaked a peek at her side profile.
She should be a year older than him - a cadet guard who is eighteen years old. She used be an apprentice-Priestess, but she changed class to be a cadet guard.
"Since you are not participating in the training today, that means that you have not recovered fully yet?"
"The doctor's instruction is that I am banned from training for a week. Only after that does she finally agree to me recuperating at my home."
"What. That's not long, but not short either."
Monica seemed to find that pretty interesting, and let out a light laugh.
"It will not be easy for you when you return back to the squad after your recuperation period is over. The term 'just recovered' does not exist in the dictionary of the instructor."
"...... Spare me from that."
Monica's ceremonial clothing was slightly dirty and her face was glistering from her sweat. She had probably just gone through the hellish training of Instructor Yumelda.
"Speaking of which."
Monica sorted her feelings a little after ending that topic on a happy note.
"It's obvious you'll be continuing with the training, but will you be accepting the missions under the rewards system as well?"
"After my body recovers, since I'll not be able to take part in the test that is required to get myself promoted as a regular guard if I do not take up missions to earn myself the reward points. I'll have to work hard on that."
After a moment of silence.
"Have you decided on which team to join?"
"How can that be? Monica, you should know very well about how I am being ostracized by the rest of the cadet guards. I'll probably be rejected even if I want to."
"...... I see."
Disappointment and relief. The two conflicting feelings were sandwiched in Monica's words.
At the exact same moment.
The both of them spoke and looked at each other.
"D-Did you want to say something?"
"You too, Monica."
Monica's face went red from embarrassment as Sheltis pointed that out.
"I-I am fine with saying it after you, so you go first— Hey, why are you laughing...... I am being serious here!"
"Ahaha. Sorry, it just feels really funny."
She has always given him the impression as someone who is always calm and collected, so her flustered expression was something rare, and she looked really cute. However, he would probably receive a harsh scolding from her should he say that to her.
"You can go first."
"...... Okay. I'll go straight to the point then."
She coughed lightly once, and then—
"I hope you can join the team that I have created."
— He had never heard her talking about it while he was hospitalized.
She must have really wanted to tell him about it, but she dare not do so.
"I have been thinking about it for a long time......"
The girl's hands that were on her thighs were trembling, as though she was releasing the emotional feelings inside her.
"Before I met you, I have always been a failure. I am very clear about the fact that no team will want me...... but deep down, I was still holding on to that glimmer of hope...... I naively believed that one day, there will be a team that will welcome me in....... But that won't do. I will never change if I continue to wait passively."
She bit her lips and looked into the sky.
"So this time, I want to invite you into the team that I have created myself. My abilities are not as impressive as yours, and I have no experience as a team leader. But at the very least...... there is something that I can do."
"I will become a team captain who trust my team members more than any other captains of the other teams."
It was as though she was telling him her dreams.
Her grey eyes which originally gave people the impression of calmness were suddenly giving off a shine - they were lit with a passion that was never seen from her before.
"And so, I hope you can join my team."
"I can wait if you need time to consider. You can just reject me if you are unwilling to do so."
"No, that's not what I meant!"
Sheltis raised his hands and waved them around when he saw Monica looking at him with an uneasy expression in her eyes.
"It's not that I am unwilling...... I was just surprised. I thought that the previous mission was the last time I will team up together with Monica."
"....... I thought that the other teams would have approached Monica already."
Just as he had discussed with Ilis back then, Monica's capabilities are definitely not poor.
After the fight against the Yuugenshu at the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>, she might have regained her confidence. During the two weeks when he was in the hospital, there was a possibility of her joining a team which she liked. Either that, or she might have already gathered some teammates to set up a new team.
"D-Didn't I say it just now!? I...... you know...... I wish form a team with you."
Monica blushed as she explained with an almost inaudible voice.
She was waiting for him. And despite the fact that she could start her recruitment first, she deliberately waited for him, and had thus delayed the formation of the team.
"We were together during the teamed battles as well, so...... it feels like there's an affinity between us."
— That's right. And that's the reason why Sheltis was surprised.
He had never dreamed that someone would invite him into a team.
He is the only cadet guard to wear black among all the others who wear white, and he did not reveal everything about himself. Not only do the people around him look at him with strange glances, most of the teams were filled as well, so there were no place for him to join in.
Under those circumstances, should he want to earn the reward points, he could only hope for teams that are recruiting temporary members, or to perhaps sneak into the existing teams whenever a mission pops up. He had already prepared himself to do all that.
"...... I'll confirm with you once more. You sure you are fine with me?"
"Is there anything that is holding you back?"
That concise question stabbed deep into his heart like a sharp blade.
"Well...... I am personally very concerned about it."
— There is no way I can reveal my past.
That I am someone who had fallen into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> three years ago, and is officially proclaimed by the authorities as dead.
The twin sword wielder who has returned from the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. He had lost his shinryoku that should exist in all human beings, and instead he brought along with him mateki, which is the same as those in Yuugenshu.
"I am feeling very uneasy about myself."
"...... Perhaps because of how mysterious I am compared to all the other cadet guards."
Sheltis bit on his lips and looked upwards into the eyes of Monica.
The twin swords wielder with a mysterious past — there is the possibility of him bringing mistrust to the whole team due to his existence. It is a team that Monica created after much difficulty, but the problem of mistrust may arise because of one heresy cadet guard.
"I...... can't quite talk about myself. Even if Monica is willing to believe in me, the other teammates will still treat me with mistrust. That will obviously lead to the breakdown of the camaraderie of team, which will in turn be a problem for you. Therefore—"
"So that's what you are worrying about."
Oh you — she heaved a sigh while smiling wryly.
With her arms crossed in front of her chest and her eyes narrowed, she looked just like a mother who was about to enlighten her naive child.
"Isn't that something very normal? Everyone will have one or two secrets that they cannot reveal to anyone. It's the same for me, and the same for you as well. If there are secrets that cannot be revealed, then there are secrets that can be shared with everyone as well. It all depends on you."
"No buts. Think about my words carefully. Is there anything wrong with what I had said?"
He thought about it repeatedly...... and finally, Sheltis nodded his head hesitantly.
"...... There's nothing wrong at all."
"Then there's no problems here. I want the relationship between the teammates to be built on trust, and not prying deep into one another's heart. Should there be anyone who meddles with the privacy of others, I'll definitely reject him."
"I am not sure about the secrets that you are holding, but I am not planning to ask, nor will I allow the teammates to do so. Should there be that sort of person...... Hmm? What's wrong? Why are you being so silent all of the sudden—"
"............ Ahaha, ahahahahahaha, ahaha!"
Unable to contain his laughter any longer, Sheltis laughed so hard his body had curled up into the 'ㄑ' character.
"Hey, I am being really serious—"
"Ah, ahaha...... S-Sorry, I have no idea why I am laughing as well....... It's probably because I am feeling really happy right now."
He gently brushed away the tears at the corner of his eyes.
He never thought there would be someone who is so passionate about getting him into her team.
Despite being exiled once by Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, and also the fact that he is carrying the curse of mateki in his body, there is actually someone who wants him. Upon realizing that fact, his body relaxed immediately, and what followed next was the urge to laugh out loudly.
"Geez. Is the condition of your head injuries actually worsening?"
Monica stared at him with a dumbfounded expression and gave a sigh.
"Maybe. Mmm, thanks to you, I feel much better now all of the sudden."
...... If the person is Monica.
Despite the mateki in him, he wants to repay her trust. That was his heartfelt feelings.
"Well then. I'll be in your care from now on, Monica."
"Y-Yeah. It is me, the newbie, who needs your assistance."
She was a little shy and a little embarrassed at the same time.
Monica replied in stutters without knowing what sort of expression she should be putting on.
"I am really sorry though. You have finally got the team running, and yet I am still recuperating from my injuries."
"One week passes by really quickly. Moreover, there's a bunch of procedures that I will have to take care of first. For instance, I'll have to register the new team at the Law Enforcement Bureau, apply for the communication frequencies for our team, and so on. But most importantly, we have to get one more team member."
The subjugation of the harmful beasts, protecting the VIPs as well as investigating the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>.
All missions issued by Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, including those from the Law Enforcement Bureau, generally require the teams to have at least three people - which means himself, Monica and one other person. Though they can get a temporary member for the missions if it is something really urgent, for the sake of the stability of the team, it is still better for them to get a fixed teammate.
"I have no idea who to get. What about you, Monica?"
"I have someone in mind. I'll say this first though - that someone is a little strange. That person has no desire of being promoted to a regular guard despite being in the lowest rank of the cadet guards. Why don't I introduce you to that person right now?"
With that, Monica began to move. From the direction in which she was heading to, it seemed like she was not walking towards the training grounds. Instead, she was heading to the main path which will lead them to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
"Urm, what's the reason for that person not wanting to promote to a regular guard?"
"In the words of that girl, it's 'because it is a part-time job'. She only trains for about ten days a month, and the rest of the days are spent on her main job, which is research. She is in the computer development division of Towers Control, which is the division in charge of controls management."
"So she's a girl...... and from Towers Control?"
Sounds like he had heard it from somewhere.
Computer development division of Towers Control — he was very clear about that. Back when he was searching for Kagura who was recommended to him by Eyriey via the electronic name list, there are two people who fits the criteria. One of them is a cadet guard, while the other belongs to the division which Monica was talking about.
Meaning, they are both the same person?
"Did that person participate in some sort of calculator contest held by the Mechanical Bureau before?"
"You know Kagura?"
Monica turned her head around swiftly in surprise.
"Whoa! So it is really her. Well...... I do know her, but I have never seen her before."
"I am sorry, but I have no idea what's the relationship between you two."
"...... Seems like I'll have to explain everything from the beginning."
Sheltis shrugged and flashed a wry smile while looking at Monica, who was all confused.
"Investigate on the patterns to Yuugenshu's appearance? So that's the reason Eyriey introduced Kagura to you?"
Monica was crossing her arms while walking on the floors of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
"Mmm. So what is she like?"
"From what I know about her? She's a petite girl in terms of looks. Not good at sports, and her age is probably somewhere around sixteen. She is not used to looking into the eyes of the person whom she is talking to, so she is always looking at the computer screens instead. She has a strange personality, but possesses exceptional talent when it comes to numbers and machines."
"...... Sounds like someone who is hard to get along with. I wonder if she will be willing to accept my request."
"It will depends on how you go about doing it."
After turning past the corner with quick steps, Monica continued,
"Her interests is to gather data. Once she gets interested in someone, she will take the initiative and approach them regardless of whether they are the clerical staff or her fellow squad mates. For example, she'll go, 'You are Monica Esperanto, right? I am very interested in you, so please answer my questions'. So long as you answer her questions, she'll help you in exchange for that."
"...... Seems like she is someone who is really difficult to handle."
You will get used to it — Monica smiled wryly as they continued to chat while walking.
"That was how I got to know her. Kagura asked me several questions for quite a few times, probably because she found my history to be really interesting. That was how we got close to each other."
Monica is someone who converted her class from an apprentice-Priestess to a cadet guard. There should be lots of people who will be interested in her should they get to know of her past, and not just Kagura alone.
"So you answered her truthfully?"
"That's right. She is strange, but she speaks in a very serious manner. I am very satisfied about the results, since we managed to become friends."
"Thank you, Monica. You are always honest and thorough in your answers towards my questions."
"From my judgement, you are a person whom I can trust. Please look for me should you face any troubles, okay? I will do my best to assist you."
"That's pretty touching. But she is becoming more and more unfathomable as you speak."
Considering her personality, he could imagine Monica being especially patient towards Kagura's questions.
But it sounds a little too exaggerating for Kagura to declare Monica as 'a person whom I can trust'. And judging from her next line, 'Please look for me should you face any troubles, okay' - isn't her change in attitude a little too quick?
"It's because she is a human subspecies. Do you know about the Nell?"
"The 'People of Nell' who lives in the Northern clusters of the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>?"
On the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon> away from the floating continent, lives many human subspecies, and they formed their own cultures over time. One of the groups are the 'People of Nell', and some of them are actually serving in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> as well.
"I remember them being a race that is incredibly strong in mathematics, right? For example, they are knowledgeable in the complex movements of the heavenly bodies, or they can formulate equations from the laws of nature and integrate them into their calendar."
"Seems like it. And Kagura appears to be one of the most capable of her race...... and there's something important to take note: she has inherited one of their other unique traits as well."
Monica gave a small shrug as she continued walking. Sheltis nodded his head in agreement as he looked on from her side.
"The people of Nell are incredibly mistrusting."
The people of Neil are born with incredible mathematical talents. At the same time, they are very mistrusting towards others. They will never open themselves to people whom they are seeing for the very first time, and adopt a cold attitude when doing so. On the other hand, they will become incredibly sincere and warm towards those who deserves their trust.
Monica is deemed by Kagura as 'someone trustworthy'.
"So in another words, I will have to first answer her questions or help her out to gain a certain amount of trust from her before I can get Kagura's assistance?"
"Yes. In any case, let's pay her a visit. I'll try asking her."
The first story of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. Monica quickly walked past the main foyer that was filled with visitors and the waiting crowd. She was not heading towards the middle area where the central elevators are located, but a small high-speed elevator located somewhere on the first floor. That elevator is used specially for getting to high places that are at two hundred stories and above.
"The computer development division of Towers Control is located on the two hundred and nineteenth story."
Monica said that as she stared at the scenery on the other side of the reinforced glass.
As the elevator began to move, the scenery outside turned into a blur.
The sound of a bell rang, and the elevator stopped.
"Speaking of which, I rarely come to the Towers Control. How about you, Monica?"
"It's the same for me, so I can only bring you to Kagura's research laboratory...... Don't get yourself separated from me, as it is difficult to search for people in here."
"Ah, w-wait! You're walking too fast, Monica!"
He increased his speed to catch up to Monica, who was already ahead of him.
...... If only Ilis is around. He would not get lost.
He never thought he would come to miss the benefits brought to him by the machine crystal <Ilis> - who has the interiors of the towers well within her grasp - that quickly.
After making a few more turns as well as passing by countless clerical staffs—
"Here we are."
Monica suddenly stopped in her tracks.
What appeared before him was a silvery-grey mechanical door. As the doors of the rooms at either sides were painted in warm colors, the grey door gives one the impression that it will lead the user into another dimension.
"A mechanical door made by Kagura herself. According to her, it is equipped with a surveillance camera, fingerprint recognition, voice recognition, vein mapping and so on. Basically, she has installed all the possible safety features that came to her mind."
He had no idea if that was due to the mistrusting nature of the people of Nell, or was it purely for protecting the secrets in the lab. In any case, one could clearly see the some of the personalities of Kagura from the door alone.
"Kagura. It's me."
Monica stretched out her hand to touch a blue sphere on the door. The sphere was flashing at high speed, as though it was checking something.
The sound of a *beep* came a few seconds later, and the door opened slowly towards both sides.
It was a dark room.
Shelts took a step into the room, and realized there was barely any lighting inside. The only illumination in the room was the faint glows coming from the three huge giant screens that were encased onto the wall.
And at the center of the room, was its owner staring at the middle screen.
"It's been a while, Monica. And also, it's the first time I am meeting you, Sheltis Magna Yehle."
The girl turned her chair around to face them.
"You know me?"
"Collecting data is an interest of mine. I dare say that I possess a greater volume of data as compared to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>'s data vault. And they are much more accurate too."
Kagura told him in all seriousness.
Actually, they could not see her true expressions at all. She was wearing a mechanical helmet with a visor, and the only way to guess her expressions was via the movements of her mouth.
"Monica, are you here to discuss about the formation of the team which you had talked about earlier?"
"Actually, there is another thing as well. I hope you can investigate something for me."
"If the subject is something that interests me."
"It's about the Yuugenshu."
Kagura's lips tightened into a straight line when she heard that.
"...... Carry on."
"Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> are in possession of data on where the Yuugenshu will appear on the floating continent. From these data, we will like to know if there is any patterns to the appearance of the Yuugenshu. It's not about the probability of their appearances, but rather, we wish to get hold of how their movements."
"This is quite a difficult request, and the difficulty lies in the point that even if we can filter out the data, we have no way of proving if the results are accurate or not. As such, this idea is pretty much still in its infancy."
"We can take care of that. Should you be able to filter it out successfully, we are willing to investigate the different areas of the floating continent based on the pattern that is discovered."
"...... I see."
Kagura became silent.
After a while, she raised up her head as she thought of something.
"Monica, this idea is extreme and very flexible at the same time, so it should not be from you — is it your idea, Sheltis?"
He could clearly feel the gaze of Kagura through her visor.
Her gaze was not locked on Monica, but onto himself.
He could only nod his head in admission, as there was no way he could hid it from her any longer.
"Monica should have told you about me being one of the people of Nell. We are a race that are timid and shy. I am not an easygoing person, so I will not usually agree to help someone whom I am meeting for the very first time...... However, I have been interested about you since a while back, just like how I used to be interested in Monica. Therefore—"
"You have a condition, right?"
Sheltis replied before her.
— Monica was right.
Prior to gaining her trust, he would have to accept her conditions before he could raise his own requests.
"Yes. Please answer this question of mine. You will pass if you can answer it, and I will respond to your request sincerely."
"Just a question?"
"Yes. I have no other conditions."
...... Was it because of Monica that she was being easy on him?
He should be easy to answer her right on the spot if it was just one question. Just as he relaxed his body—
"Where and what are you doing three years and two years ago?"
He could feel a sudden chill down his spine. A chill which he had never experienced before, and one that surpassed any fear.
Three years ago was the time when he had fallen into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>.
And two years ago was when he was exiled from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
"............ What do you...... mean by that?"
"Just like what I had said. Please tell me the incidents that has left the deepest impression in you three years and two years ago. Don't tell me you have forgotten them?"
Kagura's tone was incredibly calm and unchanging like a machine. However, her words sounded undeniably sharp and cold to his ears, just like icicles.
— Sweat streaked past his cheeks.
He could finally understand the meaning behind the words that she had said at the beginning.
"Collecting data is an interest of mine. I dare say that I possess a greater volume of data as compared to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>'s data vault. And they are much more accurate too."
The data detailing everything about him up to three years ago that was deleted off from Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> — could someone have duplicated the data and kept it for their own use?
...... If there is a copy of my data of three years ago.
...... This means that Kagura has been suspicious of me right from the very beginning.
She was suspicious of the twin swords wielder named Sheltis.
She suspected that Sheltis and the person who had died three years ago after falling into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> could be the same person.
"Are you unable to tell me? My question should not be a difficult one to answer."
There was no way he could say it.
He is an irregular who was infected with mateki after falling into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>. Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> will definitely be thrown into chaos should they come to know about how a person like him is undertaking the role of a guard here.
And should he spark a huge uproar, he will definitely be exiled from the place permanently. More importantly, he will never get to fulfill his promise to become Ymy's Sennenshi.
"...... Can you change your question to something else?"
"Sorry, but this is the only question that I want to ask."
Monica took a step towards Kagura, who was putting on an aggressive tone.
"Kagura, this is not like you."
Her voice was calm and strong at the same time, just like the surface of a frozen mirror.
"I do not know your reason for this, but can't you be more flexible and change the question?"
"I can be very obstinate at times. Moreover, what I am doing may be for your own good, Monica."
Just as Monica was narrowing her eyes in surprise.
"Hey— Is Kagura around—? Please give me an answer regardless of whether you are in there or not—!"
The mechanical door opened all of the sudden, and a girl in overalls with fluffy orange hair walked straight into the room.
"Ah, so Sheltis is here too. What, I was thinking that you may not be able to find Kagura, so here I am talking a look at the situation. Ah, so Monica's here as well. Long time no see—"
Eyriey was originally heading to the upper levels of the tower along with the machine crystal <Ilis>. She happily waved her hands in the direction of Monica before turning her body to face the owner of the room.
"...... So it's Eyriey."
The edges of Kagura's lips broke into a slight smile.
That was the first time the girl was putting on such an expression.
"So you knew both Sheltis and Monica? What a problem...... I never expect the you to be the cause of all these things."
"Hmm? But all I did is to introduce Sheltis to you."
"That's what I meant!"
Kagura suddenly threw a tantrum for some unknown reason.
"Well well. Let's put that aside for now. How's things going for you, Sheltis? Are you successful with the negotiations?"
"Urm...... Well...... Nope."
Eyriey shot a meaningful glance at Kagura.
"Well, Kagura is busy most of the time. I see, I guess it's better if I am in charge of this. After I am done with the matters of the machine crystal <Ilis>—"
"P-Please hold on a second, Eyriey."
Kagura stood up hurriedly.
She was a lot shorter than Eyriey. Out of the people Sheltis knew, she is probably of about the same height as Syun-rei. Even after taking into consideration that she is a girl, her stature is petite in comparison.
"I never expect this...... that you have actually involved yourself in the analysis to the possible regularity in the appearance of Yuugenshu."
"Actually, I am the one whom Sheltis approached immediately. I was busy then, so I asked him to seek your assistance instead. But since the negotiation is not done yet, I might as well—"
"D-Didn't I ask you to hold on a second!?"
Kagura wove her fists about and yelled.
"Sheltis...... though I am very unwilling, I will agree to your earlier request."
He had yet to answer the question in exchange for her assistance.
"It's fine. I have already found what I should be doing, and it had appeared right before me."
She stared hard at Eyriey and pointed in the direction of her nose. It was as though she was not even paying any attention to Sheltis.
"Listen up, Eyriey - let's have a showdown between us! We shall see who can correctly churn out the patterns behind the appearance of the Yuugenshu!"
"Hmm? What? I have no idea what's going on, but I guess I'll accept your challenge."
Eyriey agreed readily despite her being all confused about the situation. On the other hand, Kagura was putting on a sinister smile on her face.
"...... Fufufu, I will definitely show you my skills this time round. With the pride of the people of Nell on the line, I will definitely not lose to you, a representative of the human race!"
"Eh? I am representing the human race here? How very embarrassing."
"What's there to be embarrassed about!? You should be showing some nervousness at the very least— Ah............"
Perhaps she had finally noticed.
Kagura turned her body away awkwardly, and cleared her throat.
"Ahem. In any case, leave that to me."
"A-Alright, you can leave! Eyriey too, please leave this room immediately. Since it has already been decided, I'll like to be alone so that I can focus."
— What's going on here?
Sheltis and Monica glanced at each other while Kagura was shoving them away.
"So Kagura's willing to help. That means everything is settled peacefully?"
After the mechanical door was shut, Eyriey turned around to face them.
"I can focus all of my attention on the machine crystal <Ilis>, and Sheltis can finally relax himself and recuperate."
"That's how it is, but it seemed like we had caused some troubles for you, no? Kagura suddenly issued you a challenge out of the blue. What's with that?"
"Ah— I am already used to that."
Eyriey's laughter echoed in the corridor.
"She may not look it like, but that girl hates losing. Whenever she feels like it, she will always come and 'challenge me to a showdown', whether it is things like guessing the winning digits to the lottery, or predicting the amount of rainfall. Generally speaking, all challenges are in the areas of numbers or machines, and that has been the way ever since our very first encounter. But that's fine, since it is rather interesting."
"I have finally seen another side of her as well."
Next to Eyriey, Monica was nodding her head repeatedly.
"That was the first time I see Kagura being that stirred up. Did you win all the challenges, Eyriey?"
"Nope. I was losing all the way—"
...... Eyriey lost?
Eyriey possesses an incredible amount of knowledge as well as skills when it comes to machines. Even after knowing her for two years while staying at the living sector, Sheltis has barely seen the real capabilities of Eyriey. The machine crystal <Ilis> was also deeply impressed by her techniques when she was hacking the main computers of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. There should be no doubt about her talents.
And now, there is actually a mechanic who is of the same age as Eyriey, who is even more skilled than her? Sheltis couldn't quite believe that right away.
"That means Kagura is better than Eyriey?"
"How should I put it? Hmm— she should be very strong? Isn't that fine? I have never put any thought into this. Why don't you ask her directly?"
Eyriey pointed towards the mechanical door. Compared to the emotional Kagura, Eyriey was relaxed and at ease throughout the whole thing.
"I do want to, but I will probably be yelled at by her should I enter her room now."
Monica smiled wryly.
"Let us head back for now. We will attract the attention of others should we stay here any longer, since we are cadet guards. Also, Instructor Yumelda will be angry should I not head back for my training soon."
— Before her was a passageway made of ice walls that was giving an azure brilliance.
...... It's cold.
Cold that was beyond iciness. No— it had surpassed the limits to her body's sense of touch. All she could feel was pain on her exposed skin.
It was a world of ice that extends outwards endlessly - there were no ceilings nor the normal walls.
Two hundred and ninety first story of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, the highest story which is named as <<Paradise>>. Different from the stories below it, it would be more adequate to say that this place is of another world.
There were no shelter above her, only light that seemed to come from the white night.
Beneath the brilliant lights was a scene of erected azure ice walls that stretches on forever. The surfaces of the ice walls were crystal clear and more dazzling than any other crystals. It's like mirrors that are showing the reflections of the world.
The warmth of her body.
Everything was frozen in this world. And that includes her memories and her conscience.
It is pointless to wear any winter clothing here. All living things, all objects and even the Yuugenshu. It is a barrier that freezes everything and seals their soul and time — Hyouketsu Kyoukai.
"Ah— it hurts. It's cold and it hurts."
Meimel was wearing just her vestment as she walked in the frozen world.
The colors of her feet which walked on the frozen floors were pale from the lack of blood. The sharp ice shards scratched her skin, which resulted in tiny traces of blood on the places where she stepped on.
However, her expressions remained composed. She was even putting on a smile.
It was not that she could feel no pain, nor was it because she was showing no reaction to the iciness. As of now, her lips were purple and her shoulders and fingers were trembling non-stop.
Even so, the Priestess' expressions were at ease as she continued walking in the frozen world.
"Allow your heart to calm down. You must be more tranquil than the huge trees that were rooted for over hundreds of years, or the giant boulders erected at the faraway canyons. Your heart must be burning with a will that is stronger than anyone else."
She had already said those lines to her junior Priestesses for countless number of times, and she herself does follow strictly to what she preaches as well.
All the pains that one is experiencing on her body, as well as the corrosion of her mental wellness. Even if she has lost her rationality, and even if she collapses from a mental breakdown, she will continue praying for the barrier.
That is the culmination for a Priestess.
And the one who portrays that culmination is the second Priestess, Meimel in Carnation.
"Meimel is here, your Highness."
She had reached the center of <<Paradise>>.
In the middle of what seemed like a giant pool of steam waters, was an incredibly large azure ice crystal. A woman was sealed in the center of the clear crystal.
One could faintly see the pure white vestment which the woman wearing deep in the azure ice.
She is someone who sacrifices her body into the azure ice which freezes everything, and prays continuously for Hyouketsu Kyoukai by herself.
"Well then, Queen Salah—"
She stretched out her fingers to touch the azure ice crystal.
phia-So la telah sitra
<The triangular door shall light up our prayers>
She said the opening prologue. Her words were filled with the power of shinryoku that was released from her own body.
"As of now, I shall take over Hyouketsu Kyoukai for the next three days."
The remains of her shinryoku transformed into a light barrier. The azure light enveloped the whole of Meimel's body. It was as though those light was a supreme sacred-raiment that was made out of azure threads.
As she coordinated herself to the singing voice of the Queen, Meimel began to sing with her own voice as well.
Yu/ Uhw =C r-sanc uc Eden
<Under the foils of the slumbering Eden>
term-l-pile xel, xin, ole fusen elchel
<The falling stars, time and dreams covered the eyes and faces>
Shinryoku <melody> — 'Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code>'.
A mysterious melody which maintains Hyouketsu Kyoukai, it's a song of prayer that is passed down only to the Priestesses of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
xearcs let laphin yahe, bie omia hec lihit clar
<There is no key to the doors-of-speech which is sketched by the transparent fingertip>
noi-roo-xin, noi melras I noe-l-habes pianic cia eyen
<In the never-ending world, the jade-like phantoms had stopped their laments>
It was at that very instant.
It is incredibly hard to reach the instance where the two singing voices resonate, but it was the point where it sounded especially beautiful — and that is why Meimel loves the arrival of that very instance the most.
The feeling of the tone ringing in the cold and yet clear world of their throbbing souls.
=C hypn phenoria, Eec qhaon nes ei getie, nephies paf lef bis cley kis ei roos
<Sleep, children. Your wings are still young, and branches of safety are still too far away>
=C hypn phenoria, Eec wat nes ei getie bies killis cley kis ei mihas
<Sleep, children. Your feet are still weak, and this frozen land is still too painful>
She closed both of her eyes.
Meimel sunk even deeper into the hard and transparent azure ice crystals.