Four-thirty in the morning.
The cloudless spherical sky above his head was of the colors of the night, where the stars were still shining brightly. The horizon at the far end was faintly glowing red from the sun's rays, indicating that it was close to dawn.
With the remnant of cold air of the night lingered around his skin, he took a deep breath.
His lungs were filled with cold air. The comfortable chilliness was gradually causing his sleepy body to awaken. Sheltis had always love this feeling.
"...... Mmm...... phew......"
Neck, shoulders, arms. He slowly relaxed his whole body patiently before injecting strength and tensing up his muscle fibers which had loosened from his stay in the hospital.
He could feel a slight presence from behind him due to that person's steps on the grass.
"Has your body already recovered fully? Didn't you say you'll have to rest for a few more days before you can rejoin training?"
A bunch of eye-catching sakura-colored hair appeared beneath the cold sky.
With both her hands holding onto a pair of crossed rods <Rosario>, the young girl in a set of spotlessly clean pure-white ceremonial clothes was standing on the training ground filled with dew.
"Ah, morning, Monica. And also—"
Another girl was walking a few steps behind Monica.
Her body was small and frail. The ceremonial clothes which she was wearing were as ordinary as those of Monica's, but the mechanical helmet and visor which covered her head was especially striking.
"Eh? Kagura's here as well?"
"You sound like it is surprising for me to join the training. As one of the cadet guards, I must occasionally participate in the training as well...... Moreover, I was scolded by Instructor Yumelda yesterday. She instructed me to join in more often."
Can't be helped— the young girl put on a listless expression. It seemed like she was not too willing to participate in the training.
"You hate training?"
"I don't detest an adequate amount of exercise. I just find it a chore to remove my research clothes to put on my ceremonial ones. Also, the mechanical helmet is a hindrance during exercise."
*Ka*. She rapped the sides of her helmet once with her fingers.
...... So she won't remove them even during training?
"Are you curious?"
"Eh? Yeah, sorry. You noticed?"
"All thanks to my experience. I had been asked by many others before."
Kagura raised two of her fingers, perhaps to signify that there were two reasons for her wearing it.
"This visor is connected directly to the computer in the research laboratory and doubles as a screen, thus enabling me to monitor the programs even when I am out of the lab...... The second reason can be explained simply by this: I am a People of Nell. You should understand, right?"
"Mmm. I've seen a few of your kind in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>"
Compared to 'humans', the ears of People of Nell are long and pointy, and covered with fur like that of cats — that is due to the fact that the People of Nell live in the cold parts of the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>, which resulted in that evolutionary trait. Their long ears allow them to pick up sounds in the blizzard, while the warm fur helps to fight against the cold.
"My ears will be open for all to see once I remove my helmet. I hate being stared at just because I am one of the People of Nell. I hope you will not judge me based just on my appearances alone."
Kagura placed her hands at the sides of the helmet where her ears are located inside. Her lips were pursed into a straight line.
"...... That's quite a straightforward answer from you."
"Mmm, it's because you're in a situation similar to mine. Take for example this coat of mine."
He insisted on wearing the old black ceremonial clothes instead of the white one issued to him by Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. He had no option but to do so due to the mateki in his body. Even so, it was still difficult for him to get use to the strange stares from others. Since he can understand those feelings, he will not allow himself to judge others base on looks.
"...... You're right."
Kagura nodded her head as she said that bitterly.
"In that case, I guess the two of us are actually quite similar—"
Just as she was saying that.
"Ah, n-nothing of that sort! You haven't even gained the slightest bit of recognition from me! I am still treating you with a clear sense of wariness and animosity!"
"I know. Also, I'll only be practicing for a maximum of an hour before heading back to my room."
Just then— the silent Monica lifted her head. Her gaze was fixed on the twin swords placed on the bench.
"Since you've brought them here, it means you're planning to participate in the training?"
"The doctor told me it's okay to swing my swords for an hour or so."
He thought of his twin swords which were made of brilliantly shining purple crystals. He grabbed hold of the unsheathed swords to reaffirm their feel in his hands.
After much begging to his main doctor, he finally obtained permission to undergo training after much difficulties. Despite the fact that there was still a long way to go before he could join in the mock battles, he had at least obtained permission to swing his swords by himself.
The reason for doing that was because he could no longer do nothing after seeing Ymy's performance yesterday.
"It is quite a waste to use that precious hour to train under the dark skies as the sun will be out in about two to three hours time...... Then again, you will probably be found out by Instructor Yumelda if you do that. Should that happens, the length of your training will probably not be limited to just an hour."
"That's right. That's why I must stretch myself now."
He grabbed onto one of the swords with his left hand, and lifted the other horizontally with his right—
He slashed the right sword at the air at the exact same time as he breathed. The purplish glowing sword cleaved the emptiness before him into two as though it was the sea.
It was as precise as an accurate scale.
He could feel the weight of the molecules of air and the specks of dusts via the edge of the blade.
— That feels pretty good.
The 'restrain' and 'release' of his strength was good enough to allow him to accurately severe a drop of water with his blade. The actualization of that was due to his well-trained nervous system as well as his mental state. Both of them were of no difference compared to their states of two weeks ago when he was not yet hospitalized.
— What about moving?
His brain questioned his body.
Despite the slow responses of his muscles, that was purely due to a temporal slackness caused by a long period of rest. And once he knew his responses was dulled, he could come up with the correct countermeasures.
— No problem.
After realizing the problem, Sheltis stomped against the ground and flew towards the air. With three diagonal slashes from the right sword and two horizontal cleaves from the left, he cut out the ideal paths of the blades.
He swung the twin swords hard into the air.
Horizontal sweeps, cleaves, heavy slashes and uppercuts.
After sketching out the ideal paths in his mind, he began implementing the movements one by one. Scars of the air - vacuum resulted from the slashing of the emptiness - appeared before him, and before it could disappear completely, a new vacuum was etched by the other sword. His movements were swift and sharp. The audience was rendered breathless from his swordplay which flashed past their eyes.
After swinging the final move, he leaped forward and landed at the ground faraway in front of him—
The pain and sounds of his body chapping reverberated in his mind.
...... So it's still too much for me to take?
He began to take in deep breaths as he pressed his hands against his temple so as to quell the burdens of his body.
"Are you okay?"
"Mmm...... looks like I have not recovered fully yet. I thought I had held myself back quite a lot already."
"You idiot, how's that holding yourself back!?"
The dumbfounded Monica crossed her arms and shot a meaningful look to the young girl beside her.
"What do you think?"
"...... I should have prepared video cameras in advance. His movements are abnormal. There is no way we can catch those high-speed motion with our naked eyes."
There was a rare enthusiasm to be heard from Kagura's voice.
"What were those moves just now? Were you practicing on a predefined set of moves?"
"It's nothing as serious as what you've said. All I had done was to come up with a random set of moves in my mind before acting them out with my body."
"So those were done impromptu...... are you a freak?"
"It's not like that."
"That is the minimum standard required to be able to protect the Priestesses. Actually, I don't think that's enough. If you think I am incredible as compared to the rest of the people, that's because you are comparing me against the other cadet guards."
The regular guards are a level above the cadet guards. Going a step higher are the fifty elites named the cadres guards — and they are also the candidates for the Sennenshi.
...... It's the cadres guards who pose the real challenge.
Only five Sennenshi are chosen from within the fifty cadres guards. The competition is unimaginably intense. Even Leon was just a cadres guard two years ago as well. Also, Sheltis was once among the fifty. All the cadres guards are highly skilled, and thus the intense competition between them. Sheltis has had enough experience in this three years ago.
"I see. I am indeed looking at thing from the point-of-view of a cadet guard. That also means that your words are right where I wanted them to be......"
"Sheltis, you are indeed the person of three years ago—"
Just as Kagura was saying that with an expression of praise.
*Kacha*. The sound of the safety of the gun disengaged came from far behind their back.
It's already too late to warn Kagura what was going on. Having came to that conclusion within a split second, Sheltis turned his body around and swung the twin swords in midair.
The bullet was a silenced one. From the angle of the barrel which he could faintly see, he worked out the path of the bullet.
The bullet was deflected away along with the sound of clashing metal.
"...... W-What are you two doing!?"
Kagura was the first to shout.
One of them was a dual gunner wearing a large ceremonial coat, while the other was a young girl dressed in skirt. The badges of the regular guards were clearly visible on their left arms.
Jin and I'sa. The two person whom he had seen just yesterday was walking towards them leisurely.
"You're really something to be able to respond just from the sound of the safety disengagement."
"...... What do you mean by 'you're really something'? Attacking from the back isn't something that should be coming from a regular guard."
Kagura berated them furiously as she suppressed her shock. Her sight was focused on the jet-black pistol in the hands of the dual gunner — the barrel was still emitting thin trails of white smoke.
"Please stop with these horrible jokes of yours. I'll be reporting to the instructor for what you have done earlier—"
"Hold on, Kagura. It's not like that. They were not aiming for us."
"...... Huh? What are you talking about, Sheltis?"
"What I mean is, we are not their target."
Using the blade which he had used earlier to parry the bullet, Sheltis pointed towards in the direction of the ground. It was a black trail which streaked past the turf. Judging from its direction, it would have only grazed past Sheltis, Kagura and Monica and made its way towards the trunk of the tree.
"I had deflected the bullet out of reflex. The bullet would not hit us anyway."
"It's great you understand. It will be troublesome for us if you complain to Instructor Yumelda or the Boss without knowing the truth."
While combing her golden twintails, I-sa pointed her fingers in their direction,
"Mmm, you've passed. I shall permit you to join us. Follow me."
It's a pass? Join them?
He looked towards Monica and Kagura in confusion, but he was replied with their gazes as well. All of them must be thinking of the same thing right now.
"Sorry, but I do not get what you mean."
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
"There is a severe defect in your conversational capabilities. I can recommend you a really good doctor. You can try again once he has got you fixed."
"What's with the attitudes of you all!? To think I have specially made my way here to find you...... Umhhh?"
"Calm down, I'sa. You're not making any sense."
After covering the mouth of the girl, the dual gunner, Jin, placed his dual pistols back into the holsters at his waist.
"Sorry for frightening you guys with that sudden snipe of mine. That was me playing along with I'sa's silly plan of 'testing your capabilities by attacking you in secret', which has resulted in what happened earlier. However, the results were within our expectations."
"What's your motive?"
Monica asked without blinking an eye.
"It's just like what I'sa had said. We are here to invite the twin sword wielder to join a group of four regular guards, which includes me and I'sa, to take on a mission."
Both Jin and I'sa were looking at Sheltis,
"We've lost contact with a group of cadet guards who were patrolling the nature sector at about twenty-nine hours ago. We have no idea if it was a malfunction of the communication devices, or if they had encountered any sort of mishap...... the headquarters deemed it as a mishap, and had thus dispatched a rescue team. That was something that happened yesterday morning, twenty-two hours ago."
"Mmm, I heard that from Instructor Yumelda already."
The members of the team consisted of a group of cadet guards selected under a set of strict criterion. Sheltis would have been recommended as well if not for his injuries.
"That rescue team suddenly stopped responding to our calls six hours ago."
Jin's tone became stern. As for I'sa who was standing by his side, her eyes were showing nervousness which was never before seen from her.
"Six hours ago, the rescue team sent a SOS signal to us. Just as Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was about to ascertain the situation, there was a deafening roar from the other side of the speakers — and that was all we've got."
"...... Is it the Yuugenshu?"
Monica raised her head questioningly.
Despite not quite sounding like a roar, the mateki of the Yuugenshu do carry with them a strange sound. The rescue team may very well had encountered a strong Yuugenshu.
"No. The analysis team is currently analyzing the sound, but it seemed to be different from the mateki of the Yuugenshu. To add on, it does not sound like the cry of a harmful beast."
I'sa replied as she combed her cascading hair with her fingers.
"In another words, the cause of their mishap is unknown. The rescue headquarters has deemed the situation to be serious, and has thus decided to dispatch an official team which comprises of regular guards and apprentice-Priestesses for the rescue mission. I'sa and I are summoned to the team."
"...... I now understand what is going on, but why are you inviting me into an official team?"
For an official team which comprises of regular guards and above, there are cases where the cadet guards will be allowed to join the team to train and study under them. However, it is rare for that to happen when it comes to important missions like these.
"This is a good opportunity for you to learn."
Jin continued calmly without any change in his expressions.
"Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> is in need of outstanding guards. Back during the two-man team battle...... I'sa and I could not understand why we have to fight against the cadet guards. However, we've finally understood the reason behind Instructor Yumelda's request. With your skills, you should be promoted to a regular guard in no time."
"If that's the case, then it will be good for you to amass some experience, isn't it so?"
On one side was the calm and collected Jin, and on the other was I'sa with her haughty smile. Despite the vast difference in their attitudes, Sheltis could not detect any malice coming from them.
"Did someone recommend me? People like Instructor Yumelda, for example."
"You must think it's strange, but the answer is no. Neither the instructors nor the Sennenshi have interfered in this. The team originally consist of only the two of us, but I'sa suddenly mentioned you."
"J-Jin! You don't have to tell him that!"
The young girl hastily nudged the sides of the dual gunner with her elbow.
"...... Uhh, fine. Since Jin has revealed it already, I might as well be honest about it."
I'sa stretched out her finger and pointed towards Sheltis with a lofty smile on her face.
"Listen up. I really hate losing. Ever since our horrible defeat in that team battle, I am dying to have a rematch with you. The reason for inviting you to the rescue team is so that you can see for yourself just how much I've improved — and you have to thank me for that. There's not much chance for a cadet guard to be part of a team that consists of regular guards."
"But, like I had said earlier, I am still recuperating."
"It sure doesn't look like it from the way you swing your swords earlier on...... Putting the jokes aside, the mission is practically done with me and Jin in the team. All you need to do is to be in charge of the records and communications. If that's the case, then there's no need for you to be personally involved in it."
...... So she has planned out everything already.
Her proposal made Sheltis really happy. Having been ostracized by the other cadet guards and put in a situation where he could not join any squad, he never expect the regular guards to invite him into their team.
"It's decided then. Go get yourself prepared, we'll be setting off in an hour."
"But forgive me for rejecting your offer this time."
I'sa blinked her jade-colored eyes.
"The doctor has specially instructed me not to take part in any training before my recovery...... Moreover, I've something urgent to attend to, which may take up a lot of my time."
And so, I'm sorry — Sheltis shrugged his shoulders slightly in apology.
"Looks like we are really not fated to be. Let's go, I'sa."
"It can't be helped. Whatever, we'll definitely defeat you in the next team battle so that you'll be convinced of our strength. Make sure your body is completely healed before that happens."
After flashing a meaningful wink at Sheltis, I'sa flipped her skirt as she made a half-turn and chased up to Jin in a light jog.
After watching their backs disappeared from their sights—
"When you were talking about the urgent matter, were you referring to me analyzing the Yuugenshu?"
Kagura broke the silence with her question.
"That's one of the reason. It's also because Monica has just invited me into her squad. Under these situation, it will be too selfish of me to join the team of others and leave Kagura to analyze the Yuugenshu by yourself."
"Of course. I will definitely not help someone as selfish as that."
Kagura turned her body away after saying that.
"Hmm? Where are you heading to, Kagura?"
"The research laboratory. Since the matter on the Yuugenshu is really urgent...... I'll not make you wait long for it. Ahh, it's not like my opinion of you has improved due to what has just happened. It's simply me wanting to beat Eyriey, that's all. Please do not get the wrong idea."
Kagura left without looking back.
"...... So I still cannot win her trust after all?"
"At the very least, it is much better than when she first met you. But that's quite a problem. I have no idea if she will be joining the squad with the way things are going."
Monica was putting on a complicated expression as she crossed her arm. Sheltis had no idea if that was her feeling troubled or at ease.
"We'll have to think of a way for you to gain her trust.."
"...... You're right."
As he could not bring himself to look straight into Monica's face, Sheltis turned his head away lightly instead.
Telling her his past in order to obtain Kagura's trust...... is something that can never be done. He'll spark a huge uproar should the existence of a young man who possess mateki in his body due to falling into the Garden of Corrupted Song <Eden> come into light.
But on the other hand, they will not be able to get the minimum number of members required for the squad should he fail to obtain Kagura's trust. If that's the case, he will not gain access to the missions required to be promoted to a regular guard — he was at a loss of what to do.
"...... What should I do?"
Without any concrete idea in his mind, the only thing Sheltis could do was to raise his head and stare at the sky blankly.
Rays of the sun shone through the stained glass. The rays were dyed with the colors of the glass, resulting in the pure white corridor being decorated by the multicolored lights.
The well-lit corridor was spacious and silent.
Two hundred and ninetieth story of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
Out of the two hundred and ninety one stories of the sky-scraping tower, it is the story which is located directly below the floor of <<Paradise>>. It is only accessible via an elevator that serves certain special floors, including those where the Priestesses live in.
"...... It's so quiet."
The silence was absolute and overbearing. The corridor was dead quiet, the air was clear and transparent.
It was as if the sound dread that solemn space.
"...... It's really quiet."
Ymy walked along the lengthy corridor as she listened to her murmurs echoing in the passageway.
There is only a single named room in this vast floor.
Queen Salah's <<Atrium of Dreams>>.
It's the room that belongs to the Queen, the holder of the absolute position in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> — a private room where the Queen can rest herself sufficiently during the three days period after praying for Hyouketsu Kyoukai for a month.
The place is rarely visited even by the Priestesses. Meimel claimed she will visit the place occasionally due to 'private matters', but this was only the second time Ymy was here.
...... My heart is beating so fast.
There may be some who may laugh at her if she as a Priestess is nervous about coming to the place. However, just like how the residents in the living sector see the Priestesses as the embodiments of holiness, the Priestesses revere the Queen from the bottom of their heart. It is no easy task to pray for the barrier continuously for a month — and it is because they knew for themselves how difficult and painful that was, that the Queen can become the person whom the Priestesses yearns to emulate.
At the end of the corridor.
What stood before her was a giant metallic door which made her raise her head subconsciously to view it. Aside from being coated in a bright silver color like those of mercury, the door is decorated in gold and sky blue colors all over.
"Sorry for interrupting."
Ymy made a deep bow before the door and placed her hand at the lock.
"Authenticating...... connection to Shinyroku Authority Bureau normal...... checking...... match found on wave pattern of shinryoku............ verifying......
Verified to be fifth Priestess - Ymy Ele Soufflenictole."
The only key which can open that door is the wave pattern of shinryoku. The door will not react to anyone else other than the five Priestesses and their Sennenshi, as well as the few attendants.
*Gi......* The door opened from both sides along with a solemn sound.
On the other side of the door was a dizzying blue sky.
Three of the four sides of the room is surrounded by glass walls, and beyond those walls are the skies two thousand meters off the ground.
Even though the room is located in the center of the tower, Ymy could somehow see the skies through the walls. However, her inquiry was soon drowned by the majestic scene of the skies before her.
The room is paved with a pure white carpet.
The daily necessities are kept to a small table in a corner and a wardrobe. That is nothing surprising, considering the fact that the room will only be used for three days every month. However, it was a bit too empty in contrast to the solemn and magnificent image of the Queen.
There is only a large canopy bed located in the middle of the room.
The canopy which drapes flowing down from above was made of pale red lace. Next to it was a layer of translucent cloth with frills at the sides.
There was the silhouette of a person behind the sheer cloth.
"Good afternoon, Ymy. Sorry for making you wait."
"N-Not at all! I am the one who should be sorry...... for interrupting your rest!"
Ymy replied respectfully when she heard the voice of the Queen.
...... What to do what to do!?
She had cleanly forgotten the words which she had prepared earlier. All she could do was to squeeze out those awkward words from her mouth.
"There is no need for you to be prudish."
The silhouette of the Queen trembled slightly behind the lace canopy.
"Please take a seat. The chair is over there. Feel free to help yourself to the water in the teapot should you be thirsty."
"A-Alright. Thank you."
Ymy finally settled down after hearing the surprisingly easy-going of speech from the Queen....... though it may be just the Queen acting along in consideration to her. Still, it is hard for her to get used to the pompous speech.
Speaking of which.
— Queen Salah's voice sounds surprisingly young?
Perhaps it is because Ymy was used to hearing her stately voice in official situations. Upon conversing with the Queen privately in a relaxed manner, the Queen sounds much younger than usual. No, actually, it is more accurate to say that she sounds more innocent. Probably around the age of twenty...... no, perhaps even younger——?
"Your speech was excellent. The event was really lively."
She exhaled the breath which she had held in her lungs due to nervousness.
"W-Wha...... D-Did you see everything, Queen Salah!?"
"Mhmm. From this very room."
...... T-That's so embarrassing.
My cheeks are so hot, and my ears must be red as well.
"T-That...... was just me being too full of myself."
"Not at all. I thought that was a really important inspiration from you — but lets not talk about that for now." Behind the sheer cloths, the silhouette of the Queen was getting up slowly.
"You have something you want to discuss with me, isn't it?"
Ymy snapped back to reality in an instant. It was just as if the Queen had seen through her thoughts. She straightened her back in reflex.
"I am the only other person here, so feel free to speak your mind."
Ymy tried calming herself down by grabbing onto her vestment in front of her chest. The questions she wanted to ask and the things she wanted to know. It will be a month before she can see the Queen again should she miss the chance to do so now. She had to clear her queries right away.
"If you may, please tell me everything about mateki."
"That's surprising. To think that you, a Priestess, would like to know more about the mateki. What do you wish to know about it?"
She could feel the gaze of the Queen through the translucent canopy.
"...... If someone is to possess mateki within his body, is there anyway to purify it?"
"The baptism shinryoku arts which can purify mateki — is that not the arts which you excel at the most?"
She stared at her fingers that were placed on her chest.
White fingers with sakura-colored nails. A month ago, those fingers were dyed with her own blood.
"Strange...... Why...... can't both of us...... do something as simple...... as holding hands......"
The boy whom I was yearning for had finally returned. I wanted to hug him out of joy — however, despite reuniting after being apart for two years, the two of us could not even touch each other.
Elbert Resonance. The intensive pain brought about by the sparks that injured both of us and was close to driving me crazy — it is the result of the repulsion of my shinryoku and his mateki.
Two weeks ago, the machine crystal <Ilis> said this.
"...... There's only one explanation for that."
"Ymy, you are in possession of the strongest shinryoku out of the five Priestesses. The reason why you're the only person to repel Sheltis...... is because your shinryoku is too powerful."
The night before Sheltis headed off to the Floating Archipelagos <Lagoon>. I have finally realized the fact that Elbert Resonance will only occur between me and him.
...... Is just too cruel.
"It is mateki which I cannot purify given my current self."
The overly powerful mateki and shinryoku. Even my baptism spells are rejected under the repulsion of the two forces. After thinking over it for a long time, I realized that the Queen may be my only hope.
"If that's the case, why don't you seek the help of the other Priestesses?"
"...... I've thought about that before as well."
I am the only one who is repulsed by Sheltis' mateki.
If Syun-rei is willing to spend the time to cast the baptism spells patiently, she may be able to do just that. However......
"I hope to do it myself."
That's right, I want to be the one to remove the mateki in him.
— Did Sheltis hear the speech which I gave yesterday?
The reason he wants to become a Sennenshi is because of me.
If so, how should I go about answering his feelings?
I hate waiting while doing nothing. I wish I can repay Sheltis' feelings myself.
And that is precisely why I must live up to my responsibilities...... I hope I can become a Priestess whom Sheltis can be really proud of, and not just in name alone.
— To become a real Priestess of Baptism.
"I think there must be a way. Queen Salah may have the answer to it."
"How very intriguing. Let's set aside the possibility of me knowing the answer to your question for now. It seems like you are dead certain that a method to eradicate the mateki exists."
"— My confidence is based on Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code>."
She stared straight into the gaze of the Queen though the sheer cloths.
"I...... noticed it at the Grand Holy Hall. I have also personally experienced how shinryoku and mateki will repulse each other. However—
Despite being mateki as well, the Seventh True Rhythm <Eden Code> is not repulsed by the doors of the Grand Holy Hall."
She still could not forget that very moment.
Back when Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was under the assault of Yuugenshu, and Syun-rei and herself was surrounded by them. The scene at which Sheltis' voice opened the doors of the Grand Holy Hall, even though it was originally rejecting mateki.
"Mateki and shinryoku...... will repulse one another. However, I do not think that is all there is to it. It seems like there exist secrets of the mateki and shinryoku which even the Priestesses do not know."
"If that's the case, then the Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code> may possess certain special abilities as well. Is that what you are thinking?"
After what felt like an eternity, the Queen behind the drapes spoke once more,
"Here's my conclusion: the possibility is almost zero. The reason is that the current Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code> is something that is 'rearranged' to become the exclusive shinryoku melody for Queen Salah, who is me."
"There is no need for you to think too hard into it. It will be difficult for me to explain everything to you clearly even if I have the whole night to do so. Moreover, there exists other possibilities within you."
It was something that is hard for her to comprehend. There should be no other methods to remove the mateki in Sheltis' body other than Seventh Heaven Rhythm <Sophia Code>.
"Is that true!? Then what—"
"Ymy, I know you are very anxious about it, but please do not forget your stand as a Priestess. As the fifth Priestess — as the Priestess of Baptism, you will have to be more adept at the baptism arts then anyone else...... do you understand what I am trying to say?"
Her emotions calmed down gradually.
...... As the Priestess of Baptism, you will have to discover the method yourself.
That was what the Queen was implying.
"...... I am very sorry."
"Fufu, it's nothing. It has been a year since you have became a Priestess. Meimel has been praising about how hardworking you are. She is not one who praises others easily, you know?"
If she remembers right, Meimel frequents this floor......
"Speaking of which. I have a question for you, Ymy."
"S-Sure. May I know what is it?"
"Nothing of great importance— ah, I've said this earlier. Feel free to drink from the teapot. This room is a little dry."
"I will not hold myself back then."
...... Thank goodness. Ymy's throat and lips were parched from her nervousness.
Ymy took the swan-shaped glass teapot and poured the water into a glass on the table. She tipped the glass to her mouth as she enjoyed the cool touch of the glass.
"Ymy, what is your relationship with Sheltis Magna Yehle?"
She spat out the water in her mouth.
"Ku...... Ka...... Kha...... W-What do you mean by that?"
"He's the one whom you want to treat, isn't that so? You wish to remove the mateki in his body. Are you harboring that thought as a Priestess? Or as a girl?"
"So...... you know about him?"
"It's another thing if we are talking about people who are infected by mateki. However, there is only one person on the floating continent who possesses mateki within him."
Indeed. The Queen knows everything. In another words, she had no option but to be clear about her stand.
"Both applies to me...... I think."
"Both as a Priestess and as a girl?"
Ymy nodded her head in silence. The Queen should be able to see that clearly from behind the drapes.
...... I may be scolded by her.
...... However, I will never give up these feelings of mine, regardless of the situation.
As someone who cannot abandon my own personal feelings, I may be seen as an incompetent Priestess.
"Your feelings are nothing commendable, but it's not like it is something bad either."
"You thought you'll be scolded by me? Your thoughts are written clearly on your face."
On the other side of the translucent drapes, the Queen was smiling gently as she covered her mouth with her hand.
"What I cannot accept is someone who neglects the responsibilities of a Priestess due to the excessive concerns she has for someone. That is all. One does not have to abandon her own feelings just because she is a Priestess. The two are not the same."
The Queen was rather abstract with her words. She could not discern from the Queen's tone if she is lecturing, admonishing or praising her.
"Then again, it will be too cruel of me to leave you clueless. I shall grant you a key to unlock the possibility in you."
— The possibility in me?
— A key?
"Ymy, do you know about Syun-rei's arts of <<Pupils>>?
"Ah...... I do. It is an art to see the 'forms' of a person's shinryoku."
"Mhmm. Just as you've already knew, each and every Priestess has different arts in which they excel in. Yours is the baptism-type which can purify mateki, while Meimel's the barrier-type which allows her to deploy her shinryoku over a large area. And as for territorial-type which includes far-sight and telepathy — in another words, extra-sensory systems, Syun-rei is the most capable out of you all."
The arts in which they excel in.
There are some Priestesses who can use some unique spells within their excelled systems.
Syun-rei, the youngest Priestess of them all, is one of them.
"Syun-rei's <<Pupils>> can see the 'forms' of our shinryoku in each and every one of us. The 'form' represents our nature. I believe you had gotten her to take a look at yours as well, did you not?"
"...... Meimel told me about it on the day I became a Priestess, so I had Syun-rei to take a look at it."
Shinryoku are waves of miracles granted to humans at birth, and closely related to their spirits.
Its shape will represent the image of a person — that was what Meimel had said.
"In any case— whenever she looks at the 'form', it is equivalent to her peeking at the heart of the person. Syun-rei uses that ability to determine who she can trusts.
...... Under the restrains and shackles of her anthropophobia, her gifted ability provides her with a way of survival.
And then she finally found it. Out of more than a thousand guards, she found the 'form' of shinryoku which can accept her warmly, and is as brilliant as the sun — the beholder of the <<Solar Stone>>.
And that person is Leon.
That is the reason why Syun-rei chose Leon to be her Sennenshi."
"So, did Meimel reveal her 'form' to you as well?"
"Yes....... I remember it is the <<Flawless Crystal>>."
No one knows for sure the criterion to her judgement.
However, Syun-rei is not a girl who lies. Meimel's shinryoku must have looked like that in her eyes.
"So returning back to the topic, do you still remember your 'form'?"
"O-Of course I do! Meimel told me I must never forget it. And so, in my own spells......"
ele So Phi-a-s Arma-Riris
<Please accept all wishes that I can grant......>
In the opening sequence where she activates her shinryoku — the word 'Arma-Riris <Amaryllis>' was entrusted within them. [TLNote: Amaryllis is a species of flowers, wiki link here]
That is my image.
"It's a flower bud, isn't it?"
On the day when she got Syun-rei to look at her own 'form', Syun-rei was carrying with her a herbarium.
"............ Ymy's 'form' is a flower bud."
"............ It looks very much like the bud of this flower."
Amaryllis — a tiny flower with crimson petals.
Much brighter than roses, and much purer than flames. That is how authentic its redness is.
"Ah...... B-But Queen Salah, what does that have to do with me?"
"You will know in the future — when your spirit grows and your image blossoms."
The Queen sounded just like an encouraging mother.
"You will take a few detours along the way, but there is only one thing which I can say — Ymy, make the possibility which belongs to you bloom. That is the only way for you to fulfill your wish."
"I will put it to heart."
...... So a method do exist?
It all sounds very abstract — however, it did not seem like Queen Salah was lying just to give her hope. If so, there must be other ways of purifying the mateki in Sheltis.
That knowledge itself was a huge gain in this visit. As long as she knew there is hope...... she will be able to hang on no matter how difficult the path will be in the future.
"Thank you very much. I feel much better now."
"It is great to be of help to you. I am looking forward to your performances in the future."
"Yes. I shall be taking my leave."
Ymy gave a deep bow before leaving the <<Atrium of Dreams>>.
After the Priestess with pale golden hair had left the room.
Queen Salah — the lady who was named as such heaved a loud sigh.
It was a voice which makes one think of the tender green leaves. Her voice was much more childish compared to the one used in official situations or when she was talking to Ymy earlier — it was the voice of a young girl.
"It's tough. It's really tough picking the right time to tell her."
She sighed as she stretched her arms to lift the sheer drapes of the canopy. Her eyes narrowed in response to the blinding rays of the sun. She then placed the drapes down again.
"It's still so bright outside...... I was thinking of going to the large bath, but I will probably garner lots of unwanted attention should I go at a time like this. Looks like I have no choice but to wait until the sky is dark."
In any case, she could hardly move her body due to the fatigue from praying for Hyouketsu Kyoukai for a month. She would have to rest a while longer.
"I'll rest until the night."
Salah laid herself back on the bed as she murmured that.