“Am I really that easily swayed…?”
Walking through the dark streets lined with houses, Moroha grumbled.
He was on his way back from Shizuno’s house.
In his left hand there were several containers with the leftovers from dinner in a bag he was carrying.
He was offered a car, but it was a waste so he politely declined.
Before he returned to the dorms, he wanted to cool down his body and mind that felt like they were still smouldering.
His entire body could still vaguely feel the faint warmth from Shizuno’s skin and her softness.
“I tell her not to lower her value as a girl, and then I go and lower it, what a hypocrite.”
Grumbling over his misdeeds, Moroha scratched his head.
While thinking that he’d keep hold of himself next time, he took out his phone.
The time was nine PM. He’d said he would be late, but Maya was still probably worried.
There was a message too.
Scattered with cute emoji, it read.
“You went off to play on your own without even waiting for a reply, I’m so sad.”
Moroha covered his face with a curse.
Should he have taken Maya? No, the chairman’s words weren’t really suitable for children. Yeah, logical argument complete.
“…Maybe I’ll buy some ice cream too.”
Though he’d finished, he fell back, mentally counting what was left in his light wallet.
Just as he was closing his phone, it began to ring.
Looking who it was, it was Kamii-senpai.
The Strikers had certainly exchanged phone numbers in case of emergency, but it was rare to get a phone call from him.
“Hello, what is it?”
Moroha answered the phone perplexedly.
“Oh, Haimura. Bring me some melon bread at Shibata Park right away.”
“Can I hang up?”
Moroha answered his upperclassman with no hesitation.
He didn’t get the weirdo’s thinking patterns. What was he suddenly talking about this time?
“Bastard! Listen to your senpai!”
“I can buy it, but I’ll charge you ten thousand yen for labour?”
“A ten k note for a melon bread!? You’re pushing your luck!”
“If you want to be a respected upperclassman, then do things worthy of respect.”
Moroha was bantering back and forth with a wry smile, but.
“H-how long, Kamii? Has he not picked up? Guaaah!”
He heard a somewhat distant scream through the phone and his expression changed.
“Has something happened, Senpai?”
He asked seriously, with a sharp voice.
“…Please, just come to Shibata Park without saying anything. My mates are in trouble.”
Kamekichi answered in a distressed voice.
“Got it, but I don’t know the place.”
Moroha took over immediately from the annoying upperclassman who couldn’t speak honestly.
“Can you see the sky? There’s fireworks coming from here.”
At Moroha’s answer to go ahead, he looked around the cloudless sky and saw Kamekichi’s Flare from the west.
“I’ll be there soon!”
Moroha hung up and ran at full speed.
His entire body was coated in white prana.
It was as if a star had appeared on Earth in the night.
And then, running with God Speed Link, he leapt onto a roof, and from there crossed onto another.
“Dance, dance, wings of the phoenix, as light as the fleeting sparks, I am unbound from the yoke of gravity.”
Then he decreased his weight to near nothing with the Dark Art, Decrease Weight, raising his agility to the limits.
He ran without a sound along the tiles and leapt into the air.
“Ah, what a waste!”
The vibrations and its weight meant that the food in the bag was ruined, but this wasn’t the time.
When he was being serious, the built up town was like a field to Moroha.
He arrived rapidly where Kamekichi was waiting.
It was a small park that had quietened in the dead of night. There were gouges taken out of the ground everywhere, and the metal jungle gym and swings had been melted into one.
And, hanging in the air was a high density or prana, mana, and a thirst for blood.
There was no mistaking it, it was after Saviours had fought.
“You came, Haimuraaaaa!”
Kamekichi cried out in delight.
Two male students were laid out next to him, unconscious.
He recognised them, they were both in the reserve corps of the Strikers. Second years like Kamekichi.
Kamekichi was protecting them and facing off against an enemy.
“Sorry I kept you waiting…”
Moroha stood next to him and looked over ‘the enemy’.
It was a woman, wearing a racing helmet.
Even though you couldn’t see her face, you could tell by her figure. As she was wearing a close fitting bodysuit, her chest and backside drew out seductive rounded lines.
She was a well-endowed woman, but what drew Moroha’s eye most was the brightness of the prana surrounding her.
It was a light that glimmered sharply, hard like an emerald.
At a glance, he could tell she was strong.
It was only natural that Kamekichi and the reserves couldn’t match up with her.
“How did this happen?”
Without moving his gaze even slightly from the woman, he asked Kamekichi.
Being attacked by a Saviour that was this strong, or fighting in the middle of town, neither were common events.
With a nervous expression, Kamekichi began to speak impatiently.
“We were practicing a new special move every night in the park-”
“Please don’t use a park in the middle of town for training Ancestral Arts.”
“I-I don’t want to show people at school that I work hard.”
“It doesn’t matter, just get to the point.”
“Wha!? You’re commanding us now!?”
“I can just go, you know?”
“Anyway, that helmeted woman suddenly attacked and threatened us to call the strongest guy in school!”
“I wish you’d called Isurugi-senpai…”
“Don’t as so much! Isurugi-senpai’s way too scary to come crying to.”
“…And you’re not ashamed to rely on your underclassman?”
He understood the situation, but didn’t at all understand the circumstances.
The woman’s identity was still unclear, as was her objective.
There wasn’t a single clue.
“There’s no choice. Anyway, you run away, I’ll take over here.”
“D-d-d-d-d-d-don’t be stupid. I-I-I-I-I-I won’t leave my u-u-u-u-underclassman and run.”
Even though his voice was shaking so much it wasn’t even funny, Kamii-senpai pretended to be tough.
“Then go and get help. I don’t mind if it’s not the oh-so-scary Isurugi-senpai.”
“Got it! You can leave that to me!”
With an original gesture of slapping his backside rather than his chest, Kamii-senpai agreed.
“It’s not the arena, so don’t go overboard!”
Leaving behind those words, he shouldered both of his fallen friends and left, carrying the bag of food.
A Black Mage had normal physical abilities. They were probably heavy, and he was as slow as a turtle.
But Kamii-senpai couldn’t abandon them.
“He really is the model of the Strikers.”
He couldn’t hate him.
While covering Kamii-senpai’s retreat, Moroha gripped his ID Tag in his right hand.
“I don’t know who you are, and I don’t feel like asking what you’re after. I’ve got senpai to give warning. If you want this to end peacefully, you won’t attack, will you?”
He suddenly glared at the woman.
It was a coldly murderous glare that said if she intended to continue until the end, he’d show no mercy.
The woman didn’t reply.
The quiet manifestation of her weapon was her answer.
It was two swords, connected at the pommels, a foreboding weapon.
Gripping the handle in the centre, she’d probably be able to swing the left and right blades freely, as if it were double-headed.
The woman didn’t follow Kamii-senpai with even her gaze, it looked like she had no lingering regrets.
He didn’t understand the circumstances, but it was a stance that showed she had no interest in anyone other than Moroha.
If she felt like that, he’d respond in kind.
Moroha didn’t enjoy pointless conflict, but.
“I’m not so gentle as to let you get away with making sport of my respected upperclassman.”
Moroha poured prana into the tag in his hand.
In his grip, a strong, white light shone.
The metal plate immediately responded, changing colour like red hot iron, stretching like toffee.
It formed a familiar grip, a refined pommel, and an uncouth steel blade.
It still didn’t compare with the holy sword the Flaga wielded, but the steadily improving favoured sword was manifested.
Taking up their favoured weapons, that was the signal.
Moroha and the woman charged, and collided.
The first strike was Moroha’s, the prana coated sword drawing out a bright white diagonal.
The woman blocked with the left blade.
Simultaneously, her movements flowing together, the opposite sword slashed upwards.
The blade, coated in the woman’s prana, left a straight line of emerald green in the darkness.
Moroha back-stepped without a moment’s delay and tried to dodge, but a line split open on the chest of his uniform.
What sharp prana!
He should have seen and dodged it, but just the wake of it was enough to cut.
“She really is strong… No worse than Isurugi-senpai.”
From that single exchange, Moroha had a read on her strength.
It was a vivid reminder of the king of the monsters, extolled even among the Japanese branch, far beyond a student.
The decision was instant. Moroha took several more steps back and deliberately took some distance.
He changed his hold on the sword.
A single sword in the right hand, his right foot slightly forward, his chest forward in pride, it was a peculiar stance.
He looked widely as if to capture everything, not just one, as he awaited his opponent’s move.
The woman slouched her stance forward slightly, and waved the right blade, as if in invitation.
He wouldn’t fall for such a cheap provocation.
This fight, this opponent, was not something he could leave to chance.
Relying on force would be the end, he would be cut down without even a chance to regret.
That was right.
After learning Ancestral Arts for a mere two months, Moroha’s battle sense was already at the level of a veteran.
Moroha’s breath was shallow, sharp, he was drawn to the limit.
It was as if all of his cells had changed, and he was changed into a creature born for battle.
Perhaps the woman felt it, her sword tip twitched.
Truly, this woman wasn’t normal either.
She changed stance as if straightening herself.
She held her double-headed sword horizontally, her feet equally spread about her centre of gravity, it was a symmetrical stance.
With a light sound, the double-headed sword separated into two.
The woman hefted one blade on both sides of her, her combat style changing.
Just as Moroha felt that presence, the woman sliced forwards.
It was a fierce attack, with no thought for defence.
Right sword. Left sword. Right sword. Left sword. Right, right, left, right, left, right, right, left, left, right, both together…!
It was a relentless consecutive attack with no room to breathe.
Moroha held them all off with one sword.
As if his right hand were a precision machine, without a single wasted movement, he blocked, turned them aside and parried.
The simultaneous attack from both sides, ending the combo, he evaded with a large leap backwards.
The woman wasn’t going to let him escape and immediately pursued him.
As Moroha gained distance, she swung the sword without connecting, and the other sword again.
However, it brought forth a gale.
Two blades of wind, full of an emerald brilliance tore through the surface of the park as they rushed at Moroha.
That wind itself was already an attack.
Ancestral Arts, Light Technique, Jupiter.
It was a high class technique that Isurugi Jin favoured, nearly no one in the academy could use it, and this woman had the strength to send off two in succession!
“But, it’s just a different level of skill than Isurugi-senpai.”
Seeing a chance at victory, Moroha’s eyes gleamed like a naked blade.
Pouring all of his prana into Saratiga, it was suddenly refined.
The blade shone like Sirius.
With that swing, the blade of wind that Moroha brought forth surged forward, carrying prana.
Against the woman’s Jupiter, Moroha also attacked with Jupiter.
Offsetting? No, it was a counterattack.
The white wind that Moroha released bared its fangs, and ripped into the woman’s green wind, eating it, swallowing it, and then, as if it wasn’t enough, it beat against the woman.
While being beaten against by the destructive gale, full of Moroha’s prana, the woman braced herself in that unbearable spot, protecting her body with Diamond Skin Link and frantically letting it pass.
Moroha had already leapt forward.
Completely different from his earlier, cautious approach, he was as ferocious as a wild animal.
Like the wind, like fire, when the time came to attack, he’d finish it in one fell swoop.
Slashing down from his shoulder, the sword left a trail of bright white, rending through the darkness of the night.
The woman grit her teeth within her helmet.
She let out an English curse. However, focussed to the limits as he was, Moroha didn’t hear her voice. It just stuck under his ears, in his subconscious.
The woman roared and met Moroha’s attack with one of her own.
Managing to regain her footing while being borne down on by Moroha’s Jupiter was impressive.
Narrowly blocking Moroha’s attack with her right blade was impressive.
Simultaneously flowing into a thrust with her left blade was also impressive.
However, it was already too late.
While Moroha’s right hand was slashing with his sword, his left was tracing ancient magic characters.
“Formless blade, invisible sword, come forth, Render!”
That, was the end.
Moroha released a gale made of mana from his left hand.
Evading the wide, violent gale from point blank was near impossible.
Against the instantaneous offensive Dark Art, offsetting it with a Jupiter Light Technique was also impossible.
The woman was probably highly experienced, skilled Saviour.
That was precisely why, at close range, in the speed of the world of close quarters combat, her body didn’t react at all to the unthinkable sorcerous attack.
Taking the gale head on, she was jostled, and tears opened up all over her body suit, showing glimpses of an adult woman’s glossy skin.
It was a step one Dark Art, Fracturing Gust.
Blown away, the woman rolled to outside the park.
As she hit the road, she lay, gasping in pain for a while on the asphalt.
Moroha watched her guardedly as she finally stood up using the sword and staggered off into the night.
Moroha silently let her go.
After all, he’d promised to let her go peacefully if she didn’t attack from the start.
The next day.
It was a long awaited holiday for the students that only got one day off a week.
However, Satsuki had been cranky since the morning.
She was taking her stress out on a cat hug pillow on top of her bed in the dorms.
She’d bought it two months ago and named it ‘Shizuno’ and frequently tormented it.
“Stupid Nii-sama. Stupid stupid stupid. I don’t care anymore, idiot.”
The reason for her stress was Moroha yesterday.
She thought he’d suddenly disappeared before home room and their teacher Tanaka had said he left early.
She was really worried, but he’d gone home without saying a word.
Finally, she decided she’d talk to Shizuno after home room, but she’d vanished like a ghost too.
Putting all that together, even Satsuki knew what was going on.
They’d definitely gotten bored, and gone off to play, hand in hand.
All while Satsuki was being worked over by the demons at after school training.
Geez, it was so annoying!
“You could have at least said something! It would have been fine after if you apologised! Geez! Geez geez geez!”
She’d stayed up all night waiting, but her phone hadn’t made a peep.
“You should just get married to Urushibara!”
Satsuki hit Shizuno with a roar and threw it against the wall.
She threw herself down on the bed with a huff and rolled around.
“Anyway, I don’t really have anything to do, I guess I’ll sulk in bed all day.”
As she was sulking, her phone, sitting on her desk, suddenly started to ring.
It was Moroha’s ringtone.
“Hmph, what do you want now? You didn’t phone quickly, so I’ll irritate you.”
Because she herself was irritated, this was revenge.
She normally answered on the third ring, but she drew it out to the seventh as she sulked.
Now Moroha should be out of his mind with worry.
He should be thinking about how precious his little sister was.
That’s what you get!
And then, to really drive the point home, she’d answer in as moody a voice as she could.
“Hello? You’re energetic this morning, Satsuki.”
Moroha smiled lightly on the other end of the line.
Satsuki reflexively stared disbelievingly at the phone.
What was energetic about her voice?
Could it be that he’d heard a voice that had taken the bait, and was swishing its tail like a female dog? Absolutely unbelievable.
“You free today?”
“Hmm, that’s annoying, I had something kind of complicated…”
“Eh, what a shame. But you know, I have lots of friends? The kind of people you can’t get enough of? I can’t be with my clingy Nii-sama all the time you know?”
“Guess not, my bad. Tomorrow at school is fine then, friends are important.”
“Wait right theeeeere!”
Satsuki shouted with all her might when it looked like he’d hang up.
“That hurts to hear.”
“As it should. You’ve got lots of things you need to reflect on.”
“No, my ears physically hurt.”
“I don’t care.” Satsuki didn’t pay any attention to Moroha’s complaints. “So?”
“What time are we meeting?”
“So you are free in the end…”
“Shut it, I think of my Nii-sama, so I’ll cancel everything else!”
“Right, right, I’m so happy to have such an ostentatious sister.”
“Lunch today is your treat, Nii-sama♥”
She could hear vehement objections from the phone, but she paid them no mind.
In a lifeless voice, as if possessed by the god of poverty, he mumbled where to meet.
With a ‘see you later’ she hung up and yelled.
“It’s a date!”
Leaping off her bed in joy.
She had to do her hair, skin and nails, choose her clothes, do something about the bags under her eyes, she had a lot to do.
She’d be cutting it fine.
Satsuki fired herself up with a roar.
Moroha had only really said he had something complicated to talk about, but that hadn’t stayed in Satsuki’s flower bed like brain at all.
The place was a coffee lounge close to the girls’ dorms.
The girls in the Strikers used it often, and taken both Satsuki and Moroha there many times. The price was a little straining from the point of view of a student, but the tea, deserts and light meals were all high level. It was a good place to have lunch after.
“I get a treat from Moroha for once♪”
Satsuki’s mood had completely recovered.
It featured a fairly big open terrace, but the sun was beating down today, so she went into the air-conditioned interior.
In a seat inside, Shizuno was elegantly sipping from a coffee cup.
Satsuki looked like she’d fall over face-first.
“Why are you here!?”
“Moroha called me?”
Shizuno answered nonchalantly, reading a magazine with a ‘what of it?’.
Satsuki’s excitement dropped like a stone.
“And I was so sure it was a date…”
“It’s different if he’s invited by us, but Moroha doesn’t have that much resourcefulness, does he?”
“That’s true. If he did, he’d be lovey-dovey with us.”
Satsuki sat down in disappointment.
The round table had four seats around it, she chose the one opposite Shizuno.
“Oh? He’s not lovey-dovey with you?”
“If you’re after a fight straight away, then I’ll buy in, Urushibara!?”
“Ten thousand yen, then.”
“Brr. People that take that kind of retort seriously are chilly.”
“Isn’t that better than heated people like you? I’d like to think of the temperature too.”
In the middle of Satsuki’s heated argument with Shizuno, the waiter calmly (a true pro) came and took Satsuki’s order of Darjeeling.
“Hey, were you with Moroha yesterday?”
Then with her cheek in her hand, she sullenly asked.
“Yes, he was invited to my house.”
Without looking up from her magazine, Shizuno smoothly answered.
“What did you do together?”
“It’s a joke. My brother and the staff were there, so we couldn’t do anything strange.”
Still with her eyes facing down onto the magazine, small dimples appeared at the sides of Shizuno’s mouth.
“Quit it with jokes that are bad for my heart.”
Satsuki spoke rudely as she stealthily calmed herself.
She didn’t have an inkling that they’d spent a long time embracing on the balcony.
“Speaking seriously, it wasn’t me that invited Moroha, it was my brother. It seems his strength caught his eye.”
“I thought so in class yesterday, but the chairman’s pretty discerning!”
Satsuki was happy as if it were about her.
“Aren’t you uneasy? Will you be fine if Moroha enters centre stage with the White Knight Order and has to go far away?”
“I’d wel-co-me it! Sooner or later, my Nii-sama will be that sort of person!”
Satsuki spoke, brimming with confidence, her face clear.
“And then, I’ll chase after him! I’ll always follow him! That’s why I’m training myself at this school. Fwo fwo fwo fwo!”
“If his social position increases, so will the amount of troublesome things? Won’t Moroha find that unpleasant?”
Then I’ll just need to gallantly support him! Moroha can just focus on the big picture, and I’ll take care of all the little things!”
Shizuno was going to say something to solve it quickly, but Satsuki threw all the needless fear away.
“Perhaps this is being blessed with a little sister, Fwooo fwo fwo fwo fwo!”
In the end, she puffed up her chest and laughed loudly.
Shizuno steadily stared at that laughter.
Her mask like expression was broken and she looked like she was gazing at something radiant.
It was a rare act, but, caught up in her triumph, Satsuki didn’t notice.
“I want to learn from your optimism.”
“Are you calling me an idiot!?”
“No. Unfortunately, it’s from the heart. How annoying.”
Satsuki was shocked, it didn’t look like she was teasing her at all.
What turn of events was this? Had she eaten something bad?
As she was going to ask, her tea came along with bad timing.
The waiter placed a cup in front of Satsuki and filled it from the pot. They then left the pot, covered with a tea cosy to stop it going cold. It was only natural service, but the timing was somewhat annoying.
They left with a bow, and the mood had changed from one where she could ask.
“That’s fine, the tea’s nice too♪”
Satsuki took a mouthful and forgot about it.
She enjoyed her tea wordlessly for a while, the only sound being Shizuno flipping pages in her magazine.
Finally, the entrance opened and the bell to signal a customer chimed cheerfully.
Looking at their face, it was Moroha.
“Sorry, I kept you waiting.”
Even though he got there exactly on time, he made his way to the table with an apology.
Satsuki suddenly couldn’t reply.
She was lost for words.
Moroha was leading a friendly Maya by the hand.
Moroha had sat with Satsuki and Shizuno on each side, with Maya in the seat opposite.
Maya had at first tried to sit on Moroha’s lap, but Satsuki had pulled her off by force and put her in the opposite seat.
“I’m against violence.”
Satsuki menaced the tearful girl. How childish.
“Why’s she here?”
Still glaring, Satsuki began her interrogation.
She had the look of a wife who’d just caught her spouse red-handed in an affair.
“I asked Moroha to bring me.”
“Why are you being so casual with your elders!?”
“Moroha asked me to call him that.”
“That’s too familiar! How shameless!”
“You’re being absurd.”
“I’m! Right! First off, barging in on Moroha’s and my alone time is already sacrilegiously over familiar!”
Satsuki tore into her irritably.
As expected, difficult questions right from the start.
Moroha searched for words to avoid souring the mood further.
He wanted the kind of mood they could eat lunch first in.
If she ate tasty food, Satsuki would relax, and surely be willing to listen.
That was why he’d chosen a coffee lounge beyond his means, and decided to treat them. And of course, if he made Shizuno and Maya pay for their own when he was treating Satsuki, that would be inconsistent.
This investment was like a leap into the dark, he couldn’t waste it.
“She and Moroha became room-mates. It’s the principal’s decision.”
Shizuno swiftly exposed them!
Cooling her coffee cup, she reproached him with her mask-like face.
“What are you thinking!?”
With uncontainable energy, Satsuki shot forwards in her chair.
“Like she said, it’s the principal’s decision!”
“Then if the principal decided you’d die, you’d die!?”
“Again with that primary schooler’s crappy logic…”
Discouraged, Moroha pushed on Satsuki’s forehead, telling her to calm down and pushing her back into her chair.
“It’s like looking after a relative’s child for a while you know? Why are you so up in arms about it?”
“Then you can look after your sister too! I’ll be your room-mate too!”
“The principal’s not going to allow that…”
Thank about our ages, seriously.
If Maya had been the same age, they’d have never shared a room.
At Moroha’s reminder of how things worked, Satsuki turned away in a huff.
Her side-tail swished in displeasure.
Then, where she turned, she glared steadily at Maya.
“Hey, you… Just because Moroha’s affectionate with you, don’t get carried away… I’m Moroha’s one and only sister, throughout Heaven and Earth…”
Satsuki nagged at the ten year old girl in a muffled voice, like a delinquent holding a gun to her at point blank range.
“Quit acting like a kid.”
Satsuki let out a yelp as Moroha grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and pulled her away from Maya.
“Onii-sama, which of us is your sister!?”
“The one that’s not a bully. It’s embarrassing as a brother.”
Satsuki shrank in on herself. It’s good to be honest.
“I don’t want you to worry.”
Maya comforted Satsuki with an angelic smile.
“I’m not Moroha’s sister. I won’t steal your brother from you.”
Satsuki asked, half in fear, half in doubt.
“Yes, I know right from wrong.”
But seeing Maya’s innocent smile, she relaxed.
“Then I’m fine! That’s right, it’s like looking after a super distant relative’s brat. Living with a midget like this isn’t anything to worry about. You’d doubt my credentials as the world’s greatest little sister if I was jealous of this! Fwooo fwo fwo fwo!”
In sudden good humour, she laughed loudly.
“Yes, if I was treated like a little sister, I couldn’t marry him, teehee.”
It seemed like she couldn’t hear Maya’s words, said with her angelic smile.
A guffawing Satsuki and a grinning Maya.
Just from the sight, it was a friendly gathering of beautiful sisters around a table.
As the mood eased, Moroha’s coffee and Maya’s café au lait arrived.
“How many sugars?”
Shizuno asked after remaining a spectator for so long.
“Thank you, I’d like three.”
Shizuno nodded and with a kind smile they’d never seen before put sugar into the cup.
“You may have fooled the idiot, but remember that I’m not dealt with with ordinary means.”
With completely unsmiling eyes, at absolute zero, she quietly informed Maya.
Maya’s face paled and she shakily nodded her head.
“This one’s a tough enemy.”
She downheartedly tasted the sweet café au lait.
“The pair of you, don’t bully kids.”
“Phew. Well, as long as Moroha thinks like that, she’d got no chance, so it’s fine.”
“Even if you protected me, I’ve got mixed feelings…”
“It’s just like Moroha said, Urushibara! Don’t you have any shame, picking on a child!?”
Shizuno let out a heavy sigh, Maya smiled wryly and Satsuki showed her habit of being blind to her own shortcomings.
Moroha ignored the wilful interjection.
Bringing Satsuki and Shizuno together had always been as noisy as a chemical reaction.
Adding Maya to that and it was like nuclear fusion.
The ancients had it right.
If you put three women together, it would be noisy.
Asking for a light meal, they spent the entire afternoon being noisy.
The atmosphere was so stylish and calm, why couldn’t they get along better?
Using so much money was pointless. A waste. Moroha dropped his shoulders in despair.
Even so, perhaps sweet things held a tremendous magic over girls?
As the dessert came out, they instantly behaved.
This blessed time meant that even though not an instant ago they were only fighting, their tongues were focussed not on verbal attacks, but on the sweet flavour.
“Considering this milk catalana, I’ll forgive you leaving me behind to play last night.”
Maya cracked through the vitrified caramel with a spoon.
Somehow it had a cuteness associated with an otter breaking shellfish.
“Oh yeah, what did the chairman want in the end?”
Satsuki was bad mannered, asking while holding the fork with the cake’s cream in her mouth.
“He asked if I wanted to become a rank S.”
Moroha replied half-heartedly while enjoying the scent of the coffee.
Maya turned knowing eyes between Moroha and Shizuno.
When she was looking at Shizuno, her eyes were particularly condemning.
“Woooow! That’s my Nii-sama, wooooow!”
Satsuki’s surprise, on the other hand, was enough that she leapt to her feet and shouted.
It was a problem for the restaurant, and her pointlessly sparking gaze was irritating.
“I refused though.”
“Gyah, why did you refuse!? Such a waste, a waste, a waste, a waste!”
As if Moroha were possessing her, so repeatedly called it a waste.
“It’s rank S, right? You’d be the seventh of only six in the world, right? The same rank as Sir Edward, right? Do you get it, Moroha!?”
“I declined it because I got it, right? I’m not that impressive a person.”
“You’re definitely suitable! You’ve got my guarantee, so there’s no doubting it!”
“Isn’t that just a relative seeing the best?”
“Geez, why won’t you understand!? You blockhead, Moroha!”
Moroha calmly retorted, but Satsuki slapped the table rather than stamping her feet.
“You’re fine even if Moroha goes far away?”
Maya checked with Satsuki, somewhat puzzled.
“Shizuno did that earlier! I’m fine with it!”
“You’d be fine if Moroha gave up on school?”
“I would, of course I’d be fi- Whaaaat!?”
As if struck by a bolt from the blue, Satsuki yelled hysterically.
“If he was given rank and took centre stage in the Order, it’s inevitable.”
Shizuno was looking on from the side-lines, but interjected.
“Of course, it’s not like you couldn’t follow him, is it? You’d just be separated for three years.”
With small dimples, she jokingly teased her.
Satsuki faced Moroha.
Her eyes gradually moistened and her body trembled slightly.
“Waah, don’t leave me, Nii-samaa…”
“I told you I refused, right? Relax.”
Moroha softly comforted a sniffling Satsuki.
“Yeah, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Yeah, really really.”
That kind of conversation repeated about ten times.
Until she calmed down, he patiently stayed with her.
Ignored by everyone, Shizuno made an intentionally loud click of her tongue.
Maya then steadily stared at her.
“Is there something on my face?”
“Do you think Moroha should become a rank S?”
Maya turned the question from Satsuki onto Shizuno.
Her voice was hard. As if this time she was completely cutting to the heart.
Shizuno didn’t answer for a while. Could she not answer?
It was an explosive mood next to Moroha comforting Satsuki.
“…My brother things so.”
Shizuno carefully chose her words and answered.
“Do you think that yourself.”
Maya pressed further.
“… It’s not how Moroha says it, but even as a woman of the Urushibara family, I don’t hold any great influence. Whatever I myself think, I can’t do anything for Moroha.”
“Won’t you be an ally?”
Her expression was still mask-like. However, under the table, her hands were clenched into fists and shaking.
As if she was resisting something.
“Shizuno’s always helping me, so that’s fine, right?”
Moroha quickly noticed and spoke decisively without looking at Shizuno.
He’d gone to her house yesterday, so he already knew that she was being torn by her family’s circumstances.
“If you say that, then okay, Moroha…”
A meek Maya withdrew.
“I’m not intending on becoming a rank S, so none of that matters. More importantly, I had something to talk to you two about.”
Still rubbing Satsuki’s back, Moroha began to speak.
“Yesterday, when I was on my way back from Shizuno’s there was suddenly a fight between White Irons.”
Satsuki and Shizuno’s expressions stiffened.
Maya had already heard, but she was awfully surprised at first.
Individual Saviours had strength on the levels of armies. So the White Knight Order, each nation and the UN strictly regulated them, so a Saviour appearing like a wild dog and whimsically attacking was fundamentally unheard of. That’s how unusual it was.
“Is it one of our students?”
“I can’t say for sure… but I don’t think there’s anyone that strong apart from Isurugi-senpai.”
“That strong!? I-I’m glad you’re safe…”
Satsuki sent an astonished, respectful gaze his way.
“Are there no clues?”
“Not at all. I had Maya talk to the principal, and the teachers are investigating now.”
“Just speculation would cause a panic, so for now we want to keep it a secret.”
“There’s no one other than you two I can trust.”
Moroha spoke frankly, Satsuki had a happy expression, and even Shizuno didn’t appear entirely unmoved.
“I’d have liked to catch her there, but she was strong, and if we both kept fighting at full power, I can’t even think how much we’d have damaged the area. Kamii-senpai warned me not to go overboard too. So I thought I should let her escape.”
“That’s right. The day you get houses involved, your guilty conscience from the other day won’t compare.”
Shizuno agreed and Moroha nodded gravely.
It was after defeating the nine-headed hydra.
Moroha had fought at full power, and used too much force to destroy the monster, carelessly blowing away the huge shopping mall.
To cover up the incident, the White Knight Order had said there were several gas explosions, but what kind of gas explosions would have caused that scene of hell?
After that battle, Moroha had once gone to see the place, and was stuck dumb at the ravages of what he’d done.
A landmark had vanished, and he’d heard the area’s redevelopment plan had been completely undone.
It may have been called an act of God, but it was Moroha’s fault that the town’s development had been stalled.
He hadn’t been told to take responsibility in fact, he’d been praised, however…
Moroha had firmly vowed to himself to never do it again.
If last night, he’d focussed on capturing the helmeted woman, the woman would have fought like a cornered rat, and that nightmare would have been all too likely to occur again.
Moroha suddenly shuddered and looked to the window as if seeking the sunlight.
The sweltering sun of the unusually dry rainy season shone off the white tables on the open terrace.
A moment before, the atmosphere was that of the early summer.
In that clear scene outside, Moroha suddenly saw an amazingly eye-drawing man.
Mixed in with a lively humming.
“Chaa, chaa, chaa, chaa, charanra, ranrararanra, ranra♪”
The man that had caught Moroha’s eye cheerfully walked into the restaurant.
He was a foreigner, in his late twenties.
Even dyed hair wouldn’t be such a pure, flashy silver as his.
Sunglasses covered about half of his face, but he seemed like he’d be a dandy.
He was tall, one hundred and eighty centimetres or so.
Moroha steadily observed him. He was a strangely curious man.
There was a vague stirring in Moroha’s head.
The dandy took out his earphones and stopped humming as if he’d heard something, and looked briefly around the restaurant.
There weren’t many customers today, so there were many empty tables, but he purposely chose the one next to them and sat down.
Thanks to that, they couldn’t talk about the helmeted woman any more.
They exchanged looks saying they’d continue it later. They’d take every precaution, they didn’t want to be overheard.
Suddenly losing their topic of conversation, a silence descended on the table.
Naturally, the sound of the dandy next to them flipping through the menu was extremely audible.
They couldn’t help but listen.
The waiter came to take the order and then, a problem occurred.
The man spoke cheerily, but it seemed he was speaking English.
“There’s no helping it.”
A meddlesome Satsuki stood up without hesitation.
She forced her way between the waiter and dandy and offered a translation.
English was the official language of the White Knight Order, so even Akane Academy put a lot of effort into their English classes. Satsuki was a show-off, but she also put the effort in, so she’d worked hard at English too.
“Thank you, young lady. I’d like to order, but I have a slight issue.”
The dandy spoke friendlily but not over-familiarly to Satsuki, leaving no doubt he was a gentleman.
“This menu doesn’t have pictures, or any English explanation!”
Perhaps in triumph at being able to show a talent she’d fostered, Satsuki spoke happily.
Incidentally, Moroha could hold a conversation, thanks to learning as a student, Shizuno was fluent thanks to her family, and Maya’s great-grandmother was English so she had a good grasp of English too.
“Kind young lady, would you order black tea in my stead?”
“Of course, leave it to me!”
Satsuki thumped her chest.
Darjeeling, Assam? She asked, pointing at the Japanese on the menu.
The dandy gave his order with a smile.
“Then, use Mackwoods Golden Tip leaves, if the milk is pasteurised then I’m not fussy about where it came from. As for the sugar… let’s see, I came all the way here, so I may as well be a little naughty. I hear there’s refined Japanese sugar in this country? I’d like to try some matched with the tea. The water should be sixty degrees, and as for the cup, today I’m feeling-”
“If you’re going to be like that, go ask at Starmucks!”
Satsuki inadvertently retorted in Japanese.
Even for Starmucks, that was a little too much thought Moroha.
“Waiter, bring him the most expensive black tea in the shop and overcharge him three times!”
“Don’t you start, it’s an issue for the waiter.”
The dandy definitely couldn’t read the atmosphere of the restaurant, and he understood Satsuki’s feelings, but even so, she was making unreasonable demands of the staff too.
Besides, the man may just not know how things worked in Japan.
Moroha cleared his throat.
“Did you come from England?”
He spoke to the foreigner he’d never seen before in his life.
Forgive the awkwardness.
“Exactly! I’m impressed you could tell.”
Maybe he’d felt the good will, but the dandy also slowed a little as he replied.
“You seem to be a tea connoisseur so I associated it with there. I’m sure you can easily find genuine tea-houses everywhere over there.”
“Ha ha ha! No no, not at all, outside of hotels they just use teabags you know?”
“Order something outrageous for him, Satsuki.”
“Hee hee hee, roger!”
Why you John Bull, you just came here to make fun of Japan!
Moroha was enraged and spurred Satsuki on.
Satsuki ordered the restaurant’s legendary tea, the waiter swallowed their saliva with a “So this day has finally come.” And told the kitchen.
Before long, a single glass of black tea was placed in front of the dandy.
It was an iced tea, somewhat clouded with milk.
Lumps of something could be seen in it.
“Is this… tapioca milk tea? That’s somewhat heretical and not at all to my liking.”
“It’s this restaurant’s manager’s original masterpiece.”
“Oh ho ho, that kind of heresy stirs up my curiosity in its own way.”
The dandy determinedly took a sip, with a look of burning curiosity.
“And its name is Natto Milk Tea!”
He spectacularly spat out everything in his mouth.
Satsuki had predicted it and gracefully side-stepped.
“Guh, I feel ill. W-what is this!? It’s filling my mouth with the texture of something like frogspawn, guuuh.”
He gave a disgusting gourmet style description as he writhed in anguish.
“It’s not just heresy! This is utter blasphemy against tea! A declaration of war against my country!”
In the end, the good adult became enraged.
Throwing off his gentlemanliness, he hurled abusive language at the heavens.
Satsuki was still giggling maliciously at what she’d done.
Amongst that, Moroha’s face alone stiffened like he was in another world.
At the same time, there was a flash of purple.
“Geez, the table’s all soaked. Take responsibility for ordering it and drink it.”
Satsuki was wiping at the table with a cloth as he pulled her away from the dandy, covering her back.
“W-what’s wrong all of a sudden!?”
He didn’t pay attention to her surprise, he didn’t have the time.
“Everyone… stay away from him.”
Moroha warned them quietly.
Hearing the dandy’s abusive language, his mind flashed back.
Last night, at the park, in the middle of battle, he’d attacked the helmeted woman, she’d been trapped, and sworn. It was in the middle of battle, so he’d not really caught it, but there were vestiges in his subconscious.
“It was ‘damn it…’.”
He remembered. It was just an instant, but she’d let out English.
Moroha’s mind turned more. The flashback didn’t stop. Like a puzzle, it was all falling into place.
The rumour among the seniors that there was a super bigshot coming to inspect hem. One of the Six Heads. One of only six S rank Saviours. The origin of the White Knight Order’s name, the White Knight. The head of the British Division.
Sir Edward Lampard.
All the pieces fit, and drew a picture of a person.
Whether he was the man himself, or just an accomplice, he didn’t know.
In the end…
The dandy took off his sunglasses jokingly.
“Oh my, what’s wrong… Moroha-kun?”
With a sharp glint in his eyes, he called Moroha’s name.
For a mere moment, his green eyes sparkled with a dangerous light.
He knew from the start. He played the fool and got close.
“Is that helmeted woman your friend?”
“She’s called Angela Johnson. I’d like you to remember it. It’s the name of my cute subordinate, that’s sworn revenge on you.”
“Moroha… did you fight with ‘AJ’?”
Shizuno gasped, she’d had no interest in the two man comedy act with Satsuki and the foreigner.
“You know her?”
“She’s Sir Edward’s right hand, she uses twin swords, right? She’s famous in the White Knight Order.”
“Yeah, she did use that kind of weapon.”
“…And you said there were no clues.”
“I didn’t think it was that rare a weapon.”
Moroha protested Shizuno’s shock.
In the first place, Saviours themselves trampled common sense, so it was hard to distinguish what was common and what was characteristic among them.
Well, that in itself could be said to be learnt at Akane Academy.
“But… that decides it.”
If he was calling the right hand of the English branch’s head his cute subordinate.
Then he himself was Sir Edward Lampard.
Finding out he was a super VIP, Satsuki was overawed, finding out after having him drink something awful, even more so.
Shizuno was also attentive, Maya hiding anxiously behind her back.
Seeing the girls like that, the leading figure of the White Knight Order said.
“Now now, let’s be frank.”
And once again cheerily winked.
Perhaps because of that, Satsuki’s attitude didn’t change.
“What’s the English head doing here?”
To protect them, Moroha took a half step forward.
Pressing the man with a grim stare.
“How cool, so sharp even though you know it’s me. Not something someone normal could do. Are they that important to you?”
Edwards gaze moved between Satsuki and Maya before finally settling on Shizuno.
“Don’t mess with me!”
Moroha spread his arms to protect her from that line of site.
“I reaaaly know, it’s fine. A gentleman would never harm a lady. First of all, I’m only interested in you.”
Edward composedly crossed his legs.
He only spoke a few words, and Moroha suddenly had an awful headache.
Like something was beating at a wall within his mind.
It was almost an alarm.
“Mere students defeated a dreadnought class that should have been faced with all of the Japanese branch’s forces. As expected of the first Ancient Dragon. I’m greatly curious just how much power you’re hiding.”
Edward leant forwards, resting his arms on his lap and placing his chin in his hands.
He was relaxed, his entire body began shimmering with light.
It was a vivid purple prana, reminiscent of amethysts.
A pure, deep, noble light.
The moment Moroha saw his prana shine, his headache worsened in warning, he instinctively coated himself in prana.
At that moment, Edward had already vanished.
More precisely, he should have been sitting in an awkward posture to get up from, but was standing in front of Moroha.
A fist coated in prana was raised ready to attack.
It was like a jump cut between frames in a film, forcefully connecting an unnatural scene.
Fast enough to change the meaning of ‘fast’, its speed was like a teleport.
It was only natural for a Dark Mage like Shizuno, but it wasn’t visible even to the reflexes of a White Iron like Satsuki. The two were still facing the empty chair and hadn’t noticed anything had happened.
Only one, Moroha could react.
What Edward used made a mockery of distance, warping it, making it zero.
Things like ‘Shukuchi’ and ‘Mubyoushi’ only existed in stories for martial arts, but in Ancestral Arts, they existed.
Its name was Light Technique, Alkaid.
The highest class technique derived from God Speed Link, a secret technique among secret techniques, crowned with the name of the seventh star in the Plow.
He clearly understood it in the blink of an eye.
“This is an S rank Saviour’s strength…!”
Moroha carefully watched, staring at Edward’s fist, that seemed to be wreathed in violet flames.
The ultra-high speed hook from point blank range’s trajectory stretched out like toffee as he grasped it all in what felt like stretched out time.
Moroha didn’t move.
Though it may be unarmed, it was an S-class Saviour’s attack. If it hit it wouldn’t end with nothing.
But still, he didn’t move in front of the advancing fist.
Without even a tremor, he lay in wait.
Nevertheless, all of his nerves were focussed on any small change in the prana coating the advancing fist.
Then, with a sharpness that was soundless cutting through the air, the fist, solidly, on Moroha’s cheek hit… almost, just before it would, it stopped.
In the end, Moroha didn’t stir until the end.
The fierce wind from the fist ruffled his hair.
“…Eh? Huh? ……Eh?”
As the aftershocks washed over Satsuki, she finally noticed Edward’s attack. She just blinked for a while.
After a length of time Moroha could have been massacred ten times in, she screamed.
Shizuno had also lost the vigour in her expression, and Maya had fallen over.
Without paying any attention to their reaction, Edward spoke cheerfully, his fist still against Moroha’s cheek.
“Can I ask you something, Moroha? If I were in your position, I’d draw out the punch to the last moment, then evade fast enough to make an afterimage and at the same time, take advantage of my relaxed guard and circle round to counterattack from behind.”
But his green eyes weren’t smiling in the slightest.
“Could you not move? Or did you not move?”
“If you wanted to kill me, I would without a doubt be dead.”
He played the fool and shrugged his shoulders.
“I see. What a let-down.”
Edward moved away from Moroha and put his sunglasses on.
“Would you give my money for the bother to the waiter?”
He took a ten thousand yen not out of his wallet and left it on the table.
“Tan, tan, tuatara, tararatata, tariratata, tarirata♪”
Edward put his earphones in and his humming echoed through the restaurant.
Satsuki, Shizuno and Maya were all dumbfounded as he left in the same jaunty way as he arrived.
“What was that…?”
Satsuki hadn’t followed everything and her head had gone blank as she murmured.
“Are you okay, Moroha? Did anything happen?”
“Do you need me to kiss it better?”
Shizuno and Maya came from his left and right and made sure he was okay.
“Thank you, I’m not hurt… But what a scary person.”
He still hadn’t relaxed from facing off against Edward. His body was still stiff.
Satsuki regained her footing and said.
“Thanks to fighting Momo-senpai, I’m used to a White Iron’s speed, but that was just unfair…”
On the verge of crying, she clung to Moroha.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it in reality, I guess the legends weren’t false…”
“…To think there was this much of a difference in level between you… It’s a little hard to believe.”
The shock Satsuki received was passed on to Maya and Shizuno.
Then, the three fell silent.
Inside the suddenly silent restaurant, thanks to the patrons scared by the violence, the atmosphere grew heavier and heavier.
Moroha also didn’t say anything, he took a deep breath as if he only just remembered to breathe.
He collapsed into a seat and leant heavily against its back.
With an angry look, he kept glaring at the ceiling.