What am I translating here? Sayonara Piano Sonata?
A dim, narrow passageway.
Each step they took brought up a cloud of dust into the turbid air.
"I've already prepared myself psychologically for this, but I still never expect this research facility to be that ghastly."
Monica cringed her face slightly as she touched the walls that had a poor finishing on their surface.
"It's dark and cramp, and there's a musty smell too...... I really don't feel like staying around here."
"I feel the same too. Even if we're here to find something, I hope we can get things over and done with quickly, and leave this place."
As they stood before a door at the ends of the passageway, Sheltis shot a glance at Monica.
— I'm gonna open it.
After receiving a nod of approval from her, he increased the strength exerted from his arms. Unexpectedly, the door opened up really easily.
Before them was a huge dark space. It felt like the place was rather spacious, but since there was no lighting inside, they could not grasp the full interiors of the room.
"What to do? Iris, why don't you release some light like a machine? Just release light at about thirty times brighter compared to normal, and we should be able to see the interiors of the room clearly."
"I can if you want me to. However, due to the overload, I'll become hotter than a heated frying pan."
"...... Let's just look for a switch to the lights."
Monica's voice came from far away.
A *kacha* sound rang, and the room was flooded with a blinding flash of light for a brief moment.
"...... A library?"
Sheltis murmured as he took a look at the room under the shine of the lights.
It's a huge space that extended inwards for over ten meters long, and the sides of the walls were filled with giant bookshelves lined up together. Each of them was approximately three meters high, and it was designed such that the top shelves can only be reached via ladders.
There were four round desks in the middle of the room, and each desk had three chairs assigned to it. There were stand-alone computers and screens placed on the desk.
"Illustrations of plants, distribution of the vegetation, makeups of the soil, the climate of the floating island...... They are probably things left by the explorers of this island. Each and every report is rather detailed."
Monica tapped on the keyboards of the computers at a rapid speed. The details shown on the screens before them were undoubtedly information left by the researchers.
"The books on the shelves consists of similar information as well."
"...... Which means, this is just an ordinary research facility?"
Sheltis randomly picked out some encyclopedias from the shelves, and browsed through it roughly. However, they were typical encyclopedias. There's not a single problem about the publishers and the date of release as well.
"They may be just a facade. Want to check through each and every terminal and book?"
"Hmm— we should leave these things to units that are in charge of carrying those tasks. It's not like we are familiar with these things anyway."
In the investigation of the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>, the guards only plays the role of a scout, to ensure that there are no harmful beasts and insects, or that there will be no danger of the ground collapsing and such. Special expertise teams will only investigate about the topology of the islands much later.
"So are we meeting up with Captain Leon?"
"I guess, though I wonder if they are—"
There was a sudden violent rumble beneath his feet.
Let's turn back time to an hour before that.
"...... Right, what shall we do now?"
Leon stopped in his tracks when he saw the strange sight before him.
After going through the passageway that an adult could barely squeeze through, they came to a mechanical room at the end of it.
At their feet were red and blue wires of various width crisscrossing together messily like a spiderweb. There were plenty of pipes hanging from the walls and ceilings, and their ears were filled with the sounds of gases flowing through the pipes.
There were computers of various sizes in front of them. They seemed to be connected to the grounds, and all that could be seen were tiny indicators giving off a weird neon glow.
Eyriey was walking around the room, but she suddenly stopped in her tracks. The place she was looking at was the measurement instruments located at the innermost areas of the room.
"Is this place the control room of the building?"
"Twenty points. Full mark's hundred, by the way."
The young girl replied without even turning her head back.
"About twenty percent of the machines in this room is related to the power source and etc. That's quite easy to see, but I am not quite sure about the remaining eighty percent. I think there should be a control terminal somewhere else in another room. If there is none, then I really do not have any idea what they are."
"If so, that means you don't understand the use of these computers here?"
Perhaps she had already expected that Leon would ask her that - Eyriey flashed an profound smile of bitterness, and scratched her head.
"...... Urm— the best I can do is to guess. Can I?"
"Then here I go. This is probably a 'Control Device'."
After hearing her voice reverberating in the room, the young girl continued,
"The huge computer is online and operational even though there's not a single person in the facility. From that, it should be because these machines are used to maintain something."
— She sounded pretty sure even though she said she was guessing.
The young girl was probably pretty certain about her conjecture. And Leon was quite confident about that speculation as well.
"...... So what is it controlling?"
"I have no clue. However, it should be located somewhere in this facility. I originally thought this passageway will lead us to somewhere, but it seems like we've hit a dead-end. If so, there may be other secret passages or hidden rooms......"
After scanning her surroundings once, Eyriey's sight rested on a certain area in the room.
"Can I operate this for a while?"
It was a stand-alone terminal located in the middle of the room.
All that was displayed on the screen was a blank white background.
Anyone who stepped into the room would probably see that terminal first. However, as that terminal was way too eye-catching, Leon did not dare to touch it casually.
It might be a trap.
Even if it is not, something bad may happen should there be any error occurring when they were working on it. In the worst situation, it may be installed with a program that will trigger off the self-destruction device that will blow up the whole facility.
"Sorry, as for that terminal......"
"Ah, sorry. I've already touched it."
"Ahaha! It's because you were to slow with your reply."
Eyriey flashed a mischievous smile as she tapped onto the keyboard of the terminal at great speeds.
"Moreover, this terminal is probably not a trap."
"The possibility of an outsider arriving here is already very slim. This is an unregistered floating island, and we were forced to land on here without the prior approval of the Government Sector. We first found the research facility hidden in the depths of the primeval forest by chance, then we happen to find the secret passage as well before we are able to reach here. Do you really think there is a need for them to set up any further precautionary measures?"
In contrast to her lighthearted tone, Eyriey's reasoning was highly logical.
...... And it probably is just as she had said.
It's the same for Leon. If not for the orders of the Queen, he would never have came to this island by himself. There's no possibility of him exploring the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon> by his own accord if he has not received any mission in regards to it.
"And there's another reason as well. It seems really easy to operate this terminal. If it is a trap, then shouldn't it be much more complicated?"
Eyriey's fingers were dancing furiously on the keyboard as if she was playing a piano. The blazing rhythm had even produced a sense of beauty from it. The girl suddenly raised her fingertips up elegantly, and then—
"Right, let's see what we've got here."
At the instant she keyed in the final button.
Came the sound of a certain giant object moving.
"Something really interesting has appeared."
The crystal machine <Iris> broke the silence by saying that casually.
"That's quite sudden...... We did nothing here, so perhaps Captain Leon and the girls did something on their side. Or it may be someone luring us to a trap. What should we do, Sheltis?"
Monica stood at the side with the crossed rods <Rosario> in her hands.
That line of hers showed the tense atmosphere in which both of them were in. She stared straight at the target beneath her, without blinking her eyes.
A flight of stairs that went downwards.
The floor shifted along with the rumbling which they felt earlier, and the entrance to what seemed to be a basement was revealed.
The stairs were shrouded in darkness, and they could not see the ends of the path no matter how hard they looked.
"If that is the destination of our trip here, then I think it will be better for us to head down by ourselves first."
Shelits said that to Monica as he fixed his gaze on the stairs.
"We are not waiting for the instructions of Captain Leon?"
"Eyriey and Yuto are still with Leon. If we are to ask him to meet up with us before heading off, then the girls will have to follow along as well. Eyriey's not a guard, while Yuto's still young, so I absolutely cannot allow them to face any sort of danger."
"Smart choice. It is much easier for a pair to act should the two of you encounter anything. We shall be the scouts."
Mmm— Just as he was nodding his head in agreement with the suggestion of the crystal machine <Iris>.
He noticed that Monica, who was beside him, was strangely quiet.
The young girl was gripping onto the pair of crossed rods <Rosario> in her hands, but her face was pale white.
"............. Ah...... Ahhhh."
She suddenly widened her eyes.
"You alright? Your expression was really frightening."
"...... I'm fine. I just feel slightly dizzy."
With that, she took a step forward.
"Alright, since it's already decided, then let's head off quickly."
Monica slowly walked down the stairs that led to the basement, as the sound of her shoes rang. Sheltis followed in her steps quickly after taking a look at her back.
The dreary footsteps of the two people reverberated along the passageway as they walked down the stairs, which had a visibility of barely two meters ahead. After confirming the situation they were in via the echos, he gripped onto the crystal machine <Iris> that was hanging before his chest.
"Iris, this flight of stairs is quite shoddily built."
"I am thinking about the same thing as well."
The crystal machine <Iris> replied him quicker than he had expected.
"The materials which the stairs were made of is obviously different to those used on the floors and walls above. The floor was made out of strengthened metal alloy, but this place is constructed using cheap alloys. That's the reason for the echoes of your footsteps."
Monica, who was walking in front of him, turned her head around and asked.
"It's highly possible for this flight of stairs to be constructed much later. If so, the possibility of the flight of stairs being a trap will be greatly reduced."
It's the same with how fake drawings will always be more "real" than the originals. Since the point of faking is 'to be more real than the originals', there is probably no one who will design a trap that looked like an obvious shoddy work.
"This means we're heading in the right direction?"
"Yes. The possibility is quite high."
He gently gripped onto the hilts of his dual swords. He could not construct the blades due to the narrow flight of stairs. As such, the crystal machine <Iris> was on standby mode, ready to construct the blades at the voice of his command.
Their line of vision suddenly broadened when they walked past the final step.
............ This place is?
It was a huge room which was as spacious as the floor above them.
The only difference was that instead of shelves of books, the room was filled up with large black computers instead.
The wires beneath their feet were crisscrossing with each other messily, while huge pipes were hanging from the ceilings above. The thing that was lighting up everything which they were seeing were eerie red-colored light cast down from the ceiling.
It was a peculiar sight. However, the strangest thing was the object located in the middle of the place.
It was an extremely large screen that extended all the way from the floor to the ceiling.
"...... What's displayed on it?"
Monica raised her guard and took a step closer.
*Zi...... Ziiiiii....... Ziiiiiiiiii......!*
A black and white screen filled with static. Not only they were forced to decipher the image with only the monochrome colors, but the resolution of the screen was pretty low as well.
"Is it broken?"
She knitted her brows.
...... No, that's not it.
The screen is not broken. What it is displaying, is the thing that is located in the middle—
...... A girl?
"Sheltis, what's wrong?"
"Somehow, it feels like...... there's a girl in the middle of the screen."
He could indeed see what seems to be a silhouette of a girl, in the center of all the static.
And then there's the transparent shadows that were encasing the girl — they could be either ice or crystals. The girl was sealed within layers of hard, transparent crystals. That's what Sheltis felt the screen was showing him.
"I am really sorry, but I can't affirm what you had said. What about Monica?"
"I can't make out that either. Perhaps it's just your illusion due to all the static on the screen."
An illusion due to the distortion of the static. Indeed, he could not deny the possibility of that happening. Putting Monica aside, he was fully certain of the crystal machine <Iris>'s image processing capabilities.
...... So I am the one seeing things?
He rubbed his eyes, and looked at the center of the screen once more.
His eyes came into direct contact with the eyes of the girl's in the screen.
...... Shel...... tis.
...... Are you the person...... who is looking at me?
...... Looking at the frozen dream of the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>...... Looking at the Forbidden Crystal......
At that instant, a scene suddenly flashed past his mind.
A world filled with black waters.
A young man with tea-red colored hair was slowly sinking down with his eyes closed.
Deeper and deeper.
He was sinking downwards in a world filled with darkness, a world that was incredibly quiet and slow.
The deep purple lights encased his body, as though they were blessing him—
...... At the Floating Continent where everything is still in their dreams, at the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> where all time are frozen......
...... You...... and your mateki...... awakens......
Sheltis finally returned back to his senses when Monica shook his shoulders.
"What has happened to you?"
Just then, the young girl in the screen turned her head to look towards his direction...... no, she was looking at him.
A screen appeared before his eyes the moment they exchanged gazes with each other.
Is that...... me? Could it be back when I fell into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden>—
"Sheltis, are you alright?"
"...... Mmm. Monica and Iris, please take another careful look at the center of the screen. I am certain there's a girl there."
There was the sound of something cracking, as if it was laughing at what he had just said.
They originally thought it came from the screen, but the screen was still filled with the monochrome image and the static.
It's not the screen. What's that then?
Monica walked around the screen that was almost blocking the whole room, and made her way to its back. Just as her body was about to disappear behind the back of the screen, Sheltis hastily reminded her,
"Monica, be careful."
"I know. I am just curious about what is behind—"
Monica's voice was suddenly cut off at an extremely unnatural moment.
A hoarse shout that sounded neither like a shriek nor her weeping.
"Monica, what's wrong?"
He squeezed past the space beneath the screen, and got next to her side.
Even the crystal machine <Iris> was at a loss of words as well.
What appeared before them was a giant column of water tank.
The water tank was filled with a blue liquid and countless tiny air bubbles. That's all.
However, the crystal machine <Iris> could not say a single word. Monica was staring at the water tank as she bit hard on her lips.
As for Sheltis—
He quietly gripped tight on the hilts of his dual swords after seeing the object that was in the water tank.
It was a Yuugenshu that was being "incubated" in a huge water tank.