“What are you thinking!?”
A critical voice doused the calm mood in a little restaurant.
It was Akane Academy’s principal, Shimon Mari.
Mari had been invited to a late lunch with the chairman after the meeting ran on for a while, and was now half standing, glaring at her dinner partner.
If you wondered what they were talking about, it was because he had suddenly brought up a horrifying plan.
It was the kind of plan that people wouldn’t think people could be happy about thinking of.
“Don’t you understand that’s essentially the same as sending Haimura-kun to his death!? He’s not a tool for your politics!”
The corners of her eyes lifted, glaring at him as if laying a curse upon him.
The chairman let that wash straight over him and rebuked her as he calmly sliced his sautéed sea bream.
“Calm yourself, principal. There may not be any other customers, but choose your time and place.”
He’d not lose to the craftiest of politicians with that dignity and collectedness.
Mari glared even more, but could only follow his instruction to calm down.
She was an exceptional Saviour, One of the academy’s first generation of students, the first generation captain of the Strikers, a Black Mage that held an Origin, and one of not even ten rank As within Japan.
Though she was still twenty, for Saviours like her that had many of the memories from her previous life, the common sense of not taking opinions from young people didn’t apply. Even her inauguration as the principal, rather than being a large exception was something that often happened within the White Knight Order; in the first place, even the Six Heads at the top of the organisation were nearly all below thirty.
Mari thought that from that point of view, that for a ‘young’ twenty year old normal person that wasn’t a Saviour like the chairman to hold his post was an exception.
He was an amazing man whose opinions belied his youth.
Of course, those opinions weren’t just pure.
Mari continued barraging the chairman with a wary gaze as he continued eating with a composed expression.
Sitting down and lowering her tone, she continued her warning.
“Haimura-kun is someone who can become a valuable asset to our country. Please, rethink gutting the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
“That’s exactly why keeping him cooped up is no use, I believe it’s a fool’s act.”
“Just as we do for the other students, give him time, his growth needs to be watched over.”
“I’m telling you, that’s a waste of time. He shouldn’t be secluded in Akane Academy.”
“Even if we were to ignore your words. It should be clear from looking at Russia how awful an effect ignoring the school system will have, no? Just focussing on strength-“
“and neglecting the heart will create distorted Saviours. Yes, a wonderful general view. It’s general though! From your report, Haimura-kun already has a balanced personality, correct? Or was that a mistake?”
“If it isn’t this, it’s that…”
Mari could only grit her teeth.
“Regardless, I’m opposed. I can’t approve of sending Haimura-kun down a path of war when he’s still awakening!”
“That’s a misrepresentation, principal. I merely wish to place Haimura-kun in a place suitable for one of his stature.”
His real motive was to use Moroha well, and he had the nerve to dress it up like it was something good.
“He’s so taken with the Urushibara family, what a blockheaded idiot…”
If the opponent was someone for whom words were meaningless, all that was left was to fight.
That was a Saviour’s manner. That was Mari’s creed.
“Are we done here, chairman?”
“We are, but for one more thing. Haimura-kun will be at our house often from now on, he’s my Shizuno’s friend. He’ll probably be back late or stay over too, so I’d like you to give him an exception for having to request to stay outside of the dormitory each time.”
Mari was so angry she forgot to reply.
“And he’s even using Shizuno-san as seasoning!”
Mari could only feel disgust that the chairman only saw even his own sister as a tool for his politics.
Whether he realised it himself or not, it was a terrifyingly precise method of persuasion.
As Mari saw it, Moroha wasn’t a fool, and he was sturdy to the core.
Even if the chairman tried to use him, he wouldn’t simply go along with it.
However, if he were taken with Shizuno, might it be surprisingly easier?
“…I understand. Excuse me then.”
With one final glare at the chairman, Mari rose.
“The main dish is still to come.”
She didn’t want to stay in this unpleasant place any more.
“Then I can send a car.”
“That’s fine too.”
While treading heavily, she left the restaurant, squared her shoulders and walked to the school.
“He thinks he can do what he wants with my students does he!?”
She walked a fairly long distance but was still angry for the entire time.
She returned to her office, still fed up.
Maya greeted her with an angelic smile, sitting on the sofa.
It was an adorable smile that made you want to hug her and rub your cheeks together.
It was really soothing, and her anger finally dissipated.
“You just missed him. Moroha was here until just now.”
“Eh, Moroha was here? Why?”
“He talked to me. It was really fun and he’s my friend now.”
“My my, that’s good.”
Seeing Maya’s innocent happiness, the principal smiled.
She’d struck on a good idea.
“Fu fu, Shizuno-san is certainly charming, but my Maaya won’t lose to her.”
Putting on her big sister face, she sat down next to the child of her distant relative.
“Hey, Maaya. I want to protect Haimura-kun, but…”
She whispered the idea she just had into her ear.
Maya was a good girl.
She agreed straight away.
Akane Academy was a boarding school, so of course, Moroha lived in a dormitory.
The words ‘boy’s dormitory’ might bring to mind filth, but it was actually a clean building like a hotel. The newly established school didn’t show off.
Moroha’s room was on the third floor, a wooden floored western room.
It was a completely private room and he didn’t have a room-mate.
He didn’t have many personal belongings, but it was furnished with a bed, desk, wardrobe, LCD television, bookshelves and the everyday necessities.
Above all, because Moroha was poor, he was happy that there was even the tool he most wanted, a computer.
It was nearly the latest desktop, and he amused himself by surfing the net in his free time.
He was a beginner so he was sometimes confused on how to use it, but Moroha had a trustworthy ally.
“Yes, it’s a common problem, nothing to worry about.”
A clear voice sounded from the phone, it was no one else but Shizuno.
“The browser probably blocked the pop-up?”
The browser (a person?) blocked (defended against?) the pop-up (a technique?)…
“Sorry, I’m not talking about martial arts right now, the site I’m looking at-“
“Use clairvoyance or something and find the button labelled ‘tools’.”
Shizuno-san was super thorough!
So, every time he had trouble with the computer, he’d cling to his phone.
He sometimes worried he was taking advantage of her or causing her bother, but Shizuno never showed a sign of dislike and patiently explained to him as he missed the mark.
Once the problem was solved, they’d always move into a meandering conversation.
“That girl that’s always clinging to the principal’s called Maaya, I found that out today.”
They talked about the things they couldn’t during the after school training.
“So that’s your type of girl, Moroha?”
“Why’s that come up…”
Why did everyone ignore the problem of age?
“Well, she’s a little strange in some ways, but she’s honest and cute, you know? The kind of girl that’d make a good little sister?”
“I see. I’ll tell Ranjou-san tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry forgive me let it slide.”
Moroha earnestly apologised for his slip of the tongue.
“Her beloved brother has been stolen, poor Ranjou-san, sniffle.”
“If you want me to keep it a secret, call me beautiful ten times in front of Ranjou-san.”
“Either way, there’s going to be bloodshed…”
“It’s a joke. If you want me to keep it secret, treat me to a date.”
“Always looking down on people…”
“By the way, I always record my phone calls with you, so I have plenty of proof.”
“You need to tell people that beforehand.”
Even though he knew it was a joke, Moroha couldn’t help but retort.
On the other end of the line, Shizuno probably had dimples at the edges of her mouth.
“…Let’s talk seriously then.”
And then, Shizuno’s tone suddenly changed.
“Yes. You might not know it, but awakening too early as a Saviour is an unfortunate thing. They live enclosed lives, they can’t go to school, and making friends is nearly impossible.”
Moroha was surprised to notice a certain emotion mixed in with her quiet recitation.
“You seem amazingly sympathetic…”
He heard a sharp intake of breath as if to say ‘damn it’ from the other end of the phone.
“Well, it’s no mistake that she’s an unfortunate child.”
After a while, Shizuno spoke to keep up her façade.
“So it may not be a bad thing for her to catch your eye and you look after her.”
Moroha agreed with that himself, Maya didn’t only see darkness, but no child should be as okay not being able to make friends.
“That’s unusually proactive for you, don’t you think?”
“I’m not sympathetic with her or anything.”
Shizuno’s voice roughening like that was rare, it was suspicious.
“If nothing else is bothering you, it’s late so shall we leave it here?”
Shizuno spoke bluntly with a sharp voice.
“Ah, my bad. You helped me out, thanks as always.”
Moroha hurriedly thanked her.
Shizuno had really helped him, in many ways, he couldn’t repay that.
He couldn’t really put his happiness into words.
“It’s fine,” At this, Shizuno’s sharp mood lessened. You could tell even over the phone, “being able to help my king is my joy.”
Shizuno’s unintentional answer took Moroha aback.
“You really are the Witch of the Underworld, are-“
Before he could finish his question, she hung up.
He smiled wryly before leaning back in his chair and staring up at the ceiling.
Gazing at the spotless paper, he lost himself in thought.
“An enclosed life, huh…”
Moroha knew that Maya was in a unique situation.
If nothing else, her not being able to go to school exemplified that.
So would Shizuno, born into a strict family, with a bothersome brother not also be in a unique situation? Moroha suddenly couldn’t answer that.
“Is she really not sympathetic?”
He doubted it.
And then, if Shizuno was sympathetic to Maya, trapped by circumstances–
Then Shizuno herself was–
“…No, thinking it over is useless.”
Moroha shook his head and shook out his wandering thoughts.
Shizuno was right, it was late.
An energetic knock sounded from his door.
Moroha tilted his head in puzzlement.
Maybe it was a friend from one of the neighbouring rooms? He’d dealt with anything he’d borrowed, and the end of term test was still long enough away that it wouldn’t be someone asking for help with studying.
Still puzzled, he opened the door.
“Maaya express delivery service. I’ve brought a delivery from Mari-oneechan.”
He froze with the door open.
His thoughts derailed.
The world stopped.
At this time of night, in the boys dorm, in front of his room, was an angel, throwing her arms in the air.
“Express… delivery… service?”
As his head finally started working again, he slowly asked.
Was this a prank that was popular with primary school students at the moment?
Maya didn’t go to school though.
“I’ve brought the world’s warmest, softest, cutest body pillow for your restful sleep.”
She threw her arms up again.
She threw her arms up again.
Using her entire small body, she single-mindedly appealed to him.
“So I’m supposed to hug you and sleep?”
Moroha swiftly shut the door.
“You’re awful, let me in please. If you leave me in this wolf’s den, I won’t come back alive.”
Maya pounded at the door while complaining.
“And who was the one who walked alone into that wolf’s den?”
“I had to. It’s the principal’s decision.
It might be to get him to let her in, but if it was true, he’d need to listen.
Well, if she smiled and said it was a lie, then he could kick her out, so he let her in.
It’d be bad for his reputation if she was too noisy.
That said, it’d be bad for his friends around that could hear and read the mood.
“What a tasteless room.”
Were the first words from Maya as she entered the room and scrutinised it.
“Why you… weren’t you supposed to be for peaceful sleep? Or did you bring something irritating that would make it impossible to sleep?”
Moroha narrowed his eyes at her as he got a cushion for her.
“But I think it really suits you and is a cool room, teehee.”
Damn it, he couldn’t stay angry at her when she was cute.
Moroha shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
When he saw Maya daintily sit on the cushion, he sat back in his chair.
“What do you mean by the principal’s decision?”
“From today, I’m your room-mate.”
Where should he even begin?
“And how did that come about?”
“Mari-oneechan can freely change the school and dormitory rules. The principal’s a dictator.”
The young girl could call her relative a dictator with a smile.
“There’s way too many problems with that…”
Having a young boy and girl (one far too young) living in one room and such.
Moroha felt a headache coming on.
“First of all, don’t you disagree, Maaya?”
“If it wasn’t you, I definitely would you know?”
She innocently spoke to put him at ease.
What a terrifying girl.
“Do you disagree then, Moroha?”
“Um, ah, so you’re fine with giving me trauma and a deep wound on my heart?”
“My bad, you’re perfectly welcome.”
Maya cheered in joy.
“It’s my first time sleeping with a boy, I’m really nervous.”
“And I’m really irritated with the principal.”
Moroha imitated her way of speaking and dropped his shoulders.
He couldn’t understand what the principal was thinking, taking these measures.
The principal’s smug grin somehow appeared in his mind.
“Your relative’s really not cute… Not looking after you properly…”
If Moroha was in her position, there’s no way he’d send someone this young to stay in a boy’s room.
As he was grumbling, Maya mumbled with a sigh.
“It’s the opposite, Moroha.”
The smile on her face changed slightly, seeming lonely and somehow adult as she explained apologetically.
“I can’t make friends because I can’t go to school. All the students here are busy becoming strong and don’t have enough time for me. And then, because you alone were kind to me, Mari-oneechan has an eye on you, and even abused her authority for me. So if you’re going to blame anyone, blame me.”
Protecting the principal.
She really couldn’t still be a child, that innocence pierced his chest.
Moroha awkwardly scratched his head.
“Shizuno said that earlier anyway.”
He stood and sat down in front of Maya.
“I’m your room-mate from now on, Moroha, let’s get on.”
He gently put his hand out.
“I’m your room-mate from now on, Maaya. I might be inexperienced, but please take care of me.”
Maya shook his hand with her small hand.
Seeing that innocent shaking, he couldn’t help but smile.
He was living with a young girl…
He’d impulsively agreed earlier, but after speaking with Maya, his regrets were growing.
“Moving in is fine, but where’s your things?”
“Mari-oneechan will be sending them soon, until then, I’d like to borrow yours.”
“Your bed, or a futon?”
“We can sleep together. I’m small so I won’t take your space, I’m a compact, energy efficient model.”
“No, that’s a little…”
“It’s like I said before, you can think of me as a body pillow.”
“There’s no other choice.”
“By the way, what are we doing about changing?”
“I don’t really mind if you see.”
“I don’t really want to be seen though…”
“Then, when you’re changing, I’ll cover my eyes like this.”
“Anyway, you don’t even have pyjamas do you? Just the clothes on your back?”
“I’d like to borrow a T-shirt tonight.”
“Ah, I’ve already done that, my bath too.”
“And what about bathing after tomorrow?”
“I’ll borrow that shower. I’m sure it’ll be fun together, teehee.”
“Uh, uhh, I prefer the public baths than the shower.”
“You don’t need to worry you know? I’m still young enough I can use the men’s side.”
“I really do like the baths.”
Their conversation really made him feel how high the hurdles they’d have to overcome were and he held his head.
“Let’s sleep, let’s just sleep. Today’s been really tiring.”
Moroha sluggishly found a T-shirt for Maya to use as pyjamas and got into bed.
“I want to put this here every night.”
Maya took something out of her pouch and set it on the end of the television rack.
It was a complicatedly cut crystal, with many faces.
“Wouldn’t it have been better to leave expensive things?”
Moroha didn’t lock the room, so it was an issue with security.
“But I’m in the middle of raising it, so I can’t be too far away from it.”
“Raising it? …A stone?”
Moroha narrowed his eyes at it.
He could see the air around it shimmer ever so slightly.
Proof that it was leaking a faint amount of mana.
“It’s long, but I can explain it?”
“Ah, it’s fine, I’m tired.”
Moroha waved his hand and Maya really did innocently start changing, so he pulled the sheets over his head so he couldn’t see.
Maya defencelessly entered those sheets.
Moroha’s T-shirt was cute on her and fit just like a baggy dress.
“Good night, Moroha.”
Maya hugged on to him as if it were only natural.
She was only slender, but it was as if her entire body was made out of soft flesh as she attached herself to him.
Moroha’s face grew sweaty.
The time was probably too much for her and she was quickly sound asleep.
“Is this… really not a crime?”
Moroha was nervous and didn’t feel like sleeping.
With a sigh, he made up his mind and reached for his phone, on charge on the desk.
She might already be sleeping, but he dialled Satsuki’s number.
“What do you want at this time of night, Nii-sama!? Think about me a little will you!”
Satsuki answered on the second ring.
Almost as if she were waiting for the call.
“My bad, I have something to talk to you about, is now okay?”
Moroha spoke quietly to not wake up Maya.
“Whaat? C-c-c-c-could it be!? You were lying in bed and suddenly want to hear your sister’s voice?”
Moroha considered just hanging up.
But that wouldn’t solve the problem, so he cleared his throat and began speaking.
“Erm, this is for a friend, he’s troubled on how to treat someone who’s… like his sister.”
“Hoh hoh! So you came to me, the little sister authority for help?”
What an awful authority.
He thought she’d interrupt with “Are you talking about me!?” but it seemed she really didn’t even consider it was about her.
The bonds of siblings truly were trusty, ha ha ha.
“A little sister like girl, not at all blood related who was much younger than him suddenly showed up at his house. She said she wanted to sleep in the same bed and bathe together, what do you think?”
“She’s not at all related? Is she tempting him?”
The answer he most didn’t want to hear.
“But they’re really different ages? About five years.”
“My papa and mama are eight years apart, you know?”
“…He still only sees her as a child.”
“Guys are like that. They’re soo condescending. So she might be trying extreme measures to appeal to him like an adult?”
“…She herself knows she’s a child.”
“Reeeally? She’s not fairly precocious? If you look closely, isn’t she like that?”
“…So the outlook’s dark?”
“In my expert opinion, it’s pitch black! No doubt!”
Satsuki replied immediately, as if it were completely natural.
“…If he were to sleep in the same bed, you don’t think he’d be committing a crime?”
At his imploring question, Satsuki cackled through the phone.
Moroha grew disheartened at her lack of understanding.
While still acting strangely, she grew a little serious.
“If your friend really thinks of her as just a child then there’s no real issue. But, if he’s even slightly aroused, he shouldn’t it’ll just lead to sadness for both of them.”
She smoothly answered.
Almost as if she were asked that question every day.
“That seems like a fairly normal answer?”
“Shouldn’t it? Whether related by blood or not, there’s lots of little sisters in the world, so how to treat them is perfectly normal.
What an authority, he finally decided.
Moroha gave his gratitude with a multitude of emotions in it.
“B-b-but you know? If you were to take responsibility, even if you got aroused over me-“
“See you tomorrow then, night.”
Going over her explanation again, he absentmindedly hung up and didn’t notice Satsuki’s final mumblings.
He put the phone back on charge and looked at the peacefully sleeping angel’s face.
Honestly, Moroha was often aroused by Satsuki’s defenceless skinship.
There were times he had to exercise great self-restraint.
But now, looking at Maya’s face as she slept, he only felt happy.
“That’s okay then.”
Refreshed, Moroha hugged Maya and slept.
Her selling points of being warm, soft and cute were no lies.
Late at night, a private jet from England arrived at Haneda airport.
Two people descended down the ramp.
In front a tall, white man was humming as he stepped along with the rhythm onto Japanese soil.
“Tanta, taan, taan, taan, taan, tata♪”
The starlight shone softly on his silver hair. He looked like an actor and dandy, but the tune he was humming was from some Japanese game’s BGM, breaking his image.
“Ahh, not a cloud in the sky, unlike rainy London.”
He spoke in accentless Queen’s English, proof of how he was raised peaking through even in his carefree voice.
The man looked up at the night sky and breathed in the foreign country’s air.
“It’s the rainy season here too, apparently the weather’s abnormal this year.”
The woman walking behind him added respectfully to his remark.
She looked like a maid or something. Not much skin was exposed, she was a beautiful woman wearing a British style apron dress. She was quiet and knowledgeable and endowed with an adult beauty.
“It matters not! We’re here now so why don’t we go and play in Tokyo?”
“Should you not contact Urushibara, Sir?”
The man nodded calmly at the graceful serving woman’s inquiry.
The title given by a Knight to the Crown.
Sir Edward Lampard.
The leader of the main branch of the White Knight Order in Britain answered frankly.
“If we do, he’ll be here and noisy right away, right? Let’s do as we like for a while.”
“Then shall I prepare a hotel room in the city?”
“No, no, tonight is enough for Tokyo, we’ll work properly from tomorrow.”
Edward stood still and looked back at his loyal subordinate.
“Kept a secret from Urushibara?”
The beautiful maid like subordinate also stopped, and waited for her master’s words.
“Of course! However, if I were to really go out, we’d definitely be discovered, right? The secret would be meaningless, and we can’t have that. We Six Heads are like nuclear weapons, so if I was violent in this country, that itself would bring political intervention, we really don’t want an international incident.”
Edward fluently shifted to a dangerous topic, still with his cheery tone.
“So I’m ordering you to perform recon on their strength. Alright, Angela?”
He asked it of her as if it were a simple errand.
Her response to this unthinkable order was.
“Yes, my lord.”
The woman called Angela replied immediately.
Her mouth twisted.
It was a dangerous smile, a crack showed in her quiet, intellectual beauty, showing what lurked beneath.
Seeing a peak of his subordinate’s true personality, Edward nodded in satisfaction.
“Then let’s restore our spirits tonight! We’ll go all out.”
He put an arm around his beautiful subordinate’s waist and walked onwards.
“I prefer to drink it in slowly.”
Angela leaned into her strong master’s body.
The strange master and subordinate pair melted into the Japanese night.