“──So, what do you want to talk about?”
Courtyard of Seidoukan Academy. As soon as they arrived at the arbor, Julis cut to the chase.
In the student council room, Ayato declared that he would join Claudia’s team and on his way home after the five team members for the
were settled ── Ayato took Julis out with him as he said that there was something that he wanted to speak with her.
“As usual, you’re going right to the point, eh.”
“It’s my nature, so I can’t help it. Besides, it’s really cold outside.”
The season was exactly past the beginning of midwinter.
Although not as cold as in Lieseltania, where they were until the other day. Even so, by just standing like this one could understand that the cold was gradually permeating to the body’s core.
“In that case, shall we look for some other place?”
It wasn’t necessary to have the talk here.
“Well whatever. If you’ve expressly brought me to a place like this, it means that you don’t want others to hear our conversation, right?”
“No, it’s not that. I eventually intend to tell everyone about it. Just… Julis, I thought that I have to talk with you first.”
When Ayato said so, Julis slightly knitted her brows.
“Hmm… Well, looking at your face, I can guess that it isn’t that pleasant a talk. Let’s quickly get it over with. From tomorrow on, we’ll be busy in various ways regarding the
The order for the team to commence had appeared from Claudia without delay, and they were to gather in the training room tomorrow.
“Yes, I know.”
As Ayato took a short pause there, he opened his mouth facing Julis head on.
“I’ve already told you about the hospital, but there is still something about it that I haven’t told yet.”
The other day, Ayato received a report from Madiath and was finally able to meet with his big sister. But, it looked like his big sister cast her ability to herself and has been sleeping as is for five years. And even Yan Korbel, the hospital director, had no means to cancel it ── he already discussed this matter with everyone including Julis.
“──On my way back from the hospital, I met the
As soon as she heard Ayato’s words, Julis opened her eyes wide and he immediately turned into a grim look.
“What did you say…?”
Anger was clearly oozing from her muffled voice.
That intensity was enough to make Ayato, who was mentally prepared to some extent, unintentionally flinch. Well, that was natural since the
was the ringleader who took Julis’s close friend, Orphelia, from her. There was no way that Julis wouldn’t bear a grudge.
But when Julis kept silent as she strongly clenched her fist and tightly ground her teeth, she shut her eyes tight for a while. Her figure held down the violent emotion welling up and it looked like she was regulating herself.
When Julis slowly opened her eyes before long, she looked at Ayato with a piercing gaze.
“Could you tell me in details?”
To these words which finally came out as if being squeezed out from Julis’s mouth, Ayato nodded with a serious expression.
“Three days ago, when I parted from the Guard Captain Lindvall after coming out of the hospital, one woman called out to me. And she suddenly said ‘if it’s me, I can cure your big sister’.”
Julis was about to open her mouth, but Ayato continued as if interrupting her.
“Then, she ── Hilda Jane Rowlands named herself and said that she was also called the
Ayato slightly raised his eyes and calmly began to talk about that evening.
Ayato promptly squared off at the unexpected name.
However, that woman ── Hilda who has called out to Ayato calmly nodded and smirked.
“Ah, it isn’t really like it’s me who name myself with such a proud name, so I hope you won’t misunderstand there. I may look like this, but I’m a humble one. But, since the people of Allekant went all their way to think of such a name for me, it’ll be unpleasant to flatly refuse it and become uncomfortable, right? After all if I properly show results in that area, it’ll somehow become a very splendid circumstance in most cases no matter what I do. It’s really wonderful.”
It was already late at night. The hospital’s reception time has passed long ago, and the lamps of streetlight dimly illuminated the dark night around. Although there was also reception for emergency conveyance, it was at the opposite side from the main gate where Ayato and the woman were.
“I want to ask one thing. Is it true that you made Orphelia Landlufen a
“My, my, so you also knew that. Though that experiment hasn’t yet been announced… Kishishishi, this makes things easier.”
Hilda narrowed her eyes while raising a peculiar laughter.
“That’s right, that’s right. That was a special specimen for me. Ah, if it were still in my hands, who knows how many valuable data I’d have been able to get from it. Really, it’s a shame.”
As Hilda shook her head with a sad expression, she immediately pouted with a sour look this time.
“All of this is the fault of that sly raccoon of Le Wolfe. To snatch the research results that someone accomplished through hardships from the side, geez he’s an awful guy, isn’t he? I can’t forgive him.”
From how Hilda spoke, it was crystal clear that she treated Orphelia not as a human being, but strictly as a specimen for research. Morality was quite lacking there and Ayato couldn’t help but frown at her selfishness.
“But well, it’ll change nothing even if I lament on what already passed. As a scientist, I must always turn my eyes towards the future. ──The-re-fo-re.”
As Hilda suddenly brought her bust energetically towards Ayato, she revealed a complacent and uncanny smile.
“How about it, Amagiri Ayato. For both of our bright futures, would you join hands with me?”
If it was the usual Ayato, he would have immediately declined and left that place.
But, the face of his big sister that he met for the first time in five years floated across his mind, and did not let him do so.
“Rowlands-san, is it true that you can cure my sister?”
“Kishishishi. You can call me Hilda. And the answer to your question is, yes. If you leave it to me, I’ll splendidly awaken your Sleeping Princess.”
Hilda exaggeratedly bowed while laughing.
“Hmm. It’ll take long to explain it, but your big sister bounded herself with her ability as a
, right? Originally to cancel this kind of ability from the outside, you must forcibly expel mana, but to that end you must first analyze the conjoined pattern between the prana and mana of an ability user. This is something like a fingerprint and differed from one ability user to another. The reason why Doctor Korbel has a hard time was because in your big sister’s case, this conjoined pattern is extremely complicated. Do you understand thus far?”
When Ayato nodded, Hilda slowly continued just as if she gave lecture to a child.
“The problem N°1 isn’t there. Even if you analyze the conjoined pattern, a special device is necessary to actually expel mana. However in your big sister’s case, prana used for the ability is so huge that it can’t be dealt with the device that is in this hospital. After all, the greater the amount of prana conjoining is, the more the energy quantity of mana acting in concert will increase.”
“A special device?”
“It’s something called mana accelerator. Simply putting, it’s a device to control the mana movement to some extent without going through prana like
. By accelerating the mana, it’s possible to increase the energy state without letting the prana intervene, but ── although I say that, just to be sure you don’t misunderstand, it isn’t something which can reproduce an ability ── by tracing the conjoined pattern with the mana in this state, the ability can be canceled. And if one intends to cancel your big sister’s ability, a mana accelerator much larger than the one owned by this hospital will be necessary.”
Though vague, he understood the theory. But, he could not consent.
“But then, by using that large mana accelerator, even Korbel-sensei can cancel the ability.”
Then, Hilda shook her index finger, interrupting Ayato’s words.
“I’m afraid to say that Korbel-sensei doesn’t have the skill to use a large mana accelerator. No, rather than Korbel-sensei, I’m probably the only researcher who has used a large mana accelerator on a human body, even if you searched around the world you won’t find anyone else, kishishishi.”
After laughing for a while, Hilda said with her upturned eyes wide opened.
“Ah, if you want, I don’t mind even if you try asking directly Korbel-sensei.”
An overwhelming confidence could be felt from her words.
Which means that at least was probably true.
“──So, what do you want in return?”
She has said “joining hands”, in other words Hilda should also have something that she wanted from him.
“Oh, well, well, you’re quick on the uptake. What, don’t worry. It isn’t really something difficult.”
“Wait a minute! I’ll say this just in case, but I haven’t yet decided to accept your proposal…”
To Hilda who joyfully tried to make the talk progress, Ayato tried to warn so; but he unintentionally stiffened after hearing her next words.
“──Please, win in the
Hilda’s tone was smooth, with the lightheartedness as if asking for goods in a neighboring shop.
“Even the next
is fine, but as expected I can’t wait until the next winter. I’ve heard it; you’ll participate in your student council president’s team, right?”
“No, even so it doesn’t mean that we can win without fail…”
It would certainly be a powerful team considering the members, but the
wasn’t so sweet as to be able to win without difficulty.
“It’s all right, it’s all right. If you and that president join forces, there is no doubt you’ll win.”
Hilda nodded by herself with “yes, yes”.
“…So in other words, you want to grant your wish through me.”
“Hmm, putting it without any pretension, I guess you can say that.”
Perhaps because she was displeased with how Ayato put it, Hilda answered with a slightly non-consenting face.
“What is specifically your wish?”
“Yes, if you were to win, I’d like you to cancel my penalty.”
“Yes. The truth is that several years ago, there was a little accident, but for some reason, I was made to take responsibility for it by myself. Well, it looks like this has slightly crossed the category of the “general cases” which I said a little while ago. As for me, I just thought one laboratory or two didn’t matter, but… anyway, with that I can’t move so freely as of now.”
Hilda said so and greatly sighed.
“The most painful thing above all is that I’m being restricted regarding the use of facilities and I’m strictly forbidden to access the level 5 of the designated facilities. I can’t advance with my research like this. And thanks to that I’ve been spending my time handling requested works to which I don’t have the least interest… Honestly, I’m fed up with it.”
Though Hilda exaggeratedly shook her head while saying so, her movement suddenly stopped on the way and she turned her upturned eyes over her glasses to Ayato.
“──Now then, the main issue is from here. In truth, in one of the designated facilities’ level 5, there is a large mana accelerator Geneva. This is a facility which my team used as a base in the past. I have it customized in various ways for my researches.”
The story was finally connected.
In other words, it would be necessary for Hilda to be able to use that facility in order to awaken his big sister. It was probably something like that.
Perhaps because she guessed from Ayato’s expression, Hilda nodded while joyfully laughing.
“Kishishishi. Yes, yes, it’s as you think. This is the so-called give-and-take, a fair term of trade. If you cancel my penalty, I’ll be able to use the mana accelerator and resume my research at the same time. Like that, I’ll be able to awaken your big sister. It’s a really simple and beautiful logic.”
Though Hilda joyfully shrugged her shoulders, of course Ayato was not so foolish as to just accept it.
“──Before that, could you tell me about what your research is based on?”
As these words were unexpected, Hilda blinked her eyes over her glasses with surprise.
“Well it’s fine, I guess. Simply put, my research is about creating a
Hilda plainly said that, but the subject was so outrageous that he could treat the topic as preposterous. Until now between
and ordinary humans, there was such a difference that it could be called isolation from the existence of prana, the strength of their build and muscle tissues to their blood composition, in every part.
For example, it’d be better if it was only a research which raised the probability of a child, who will be born, to become a
, but ── naturally even if there was an ethical problem with that ── one might say that restructuring the body of a human posteriori was akin to people playing God.
Normally, Ayato too would have probably thought that it was only a dreamlike story.
──But, Ayato already knew Orphelia’s case.
“But, shouldn’t your research already be a success…?”
“Ah, you’re talking about Orphelia Landlufen, right?”
Then, Hilda nodded with a complicated expression.
“Certainly that was the fewer research results that I made up. After all, I cleared the stage of making an ordinary human a
and I succeeded in changing her to a
── and moreover a
with a power strong that has never been seen in history, in one go.”
However contrary to the contents of her speech, Hilda’ expression was somewhat dark.
“However… Honestly speaking, that’s a certain kind of irregular even for me.”
“From my long time research, I built a perfect theory and put it into application. Then, a
which could be called “ultimate” was born. There is no doubt about it. And yet, even when I conducted experiments in the same exact conditions afterwards, I couldn’t reproduce it.”
(In other words, Orphelia is the only success example, huh…)
As Ayato understood it, Hilda weakly dropped her shoulders.
“There is no meaning in a result which can’t be reproduced. We and this world have no room to accept something that we can’t control.”
“Something that we can’t control…?”
When Ayato asked, Hilda raised her head who was hanging down.
“Oh, haven’t you noticed?”
And she continued with a complacent and sarcastic smile.
“Among ability users such as
, there are people with unusual and beneficial power. People with ability which can contribute in more various fields rather than using it for battles. But, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, which currently reigns over the world, doesn’t approve it. Why is it? Well, it’s simple. It’s because their abilities are individualistic dispositions in the end; their instability is extremely influenced by intentions, and moreover it will be lost without any choice before long. If such a thing were to go wrong and gets into the society as an important gear, it’ll be a great problem, right?”
“…Do you say that the Integrated Enterprise Foundation doesn’t trust the
“More exactly, they don’t trust the
. After all, not a single
has ever had his name entered at the top echelons of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation.”
Even Ayato knew well in what kind of position/situation the
were in the present world.
But when he was once again made to realize it like this, he couldn’t hold the fuzzy feeling welling in his chest.
That wasn’t probably unrelated to the fact that Ayato visited Lieseltania the other day, too.
“This is also the same for ogre luxes ── or rather Ulm mana dites. For example regarding
, which you also know well, even the most advanced Meteoric Engineering can only partially implement its gravity control. But, those which can draw out power like that are limited, replication isn’t also possible and moreover to something with a risk of rampaging, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation can’t show permission above a certain level. Therefore, things which they have finished taking data as research materials are lent to each academy under their management as toys called ogre lux.”
As Hilda cut her words once there, she slowly opened both her hands.
“In order to accept the
in this world, it’s indispensable that all about them is elucidated, that every concern is gotten rid of and that able to keep them in check is admitted. And my research may become a great step to that, right?”
“…Do you say that it’s your goal?”
“Yes, that’s right. ──Oops, not good, not good. I’ve strayed again from the topic. So, could you already tell me your answer?”
After pondering a little, Ayato looked straight into the eyes of Hilda who shook unsteadily.
“Hou. Can you tell me why?”
When Ayato said so, Hilda looked back at Ayato with a surprised face.
Honestly speaking for Ayato, there was no more attractive than Hilda’s proposition.
Now that he reunited with his big sister and witnessed her figure which continued sleeping, he thought that he wanted to make her wake up no matter what he risked. There were many things that he wanted to talk with his big sister, he wanted to hear her voice again and above all, he wanted to see her smiling face.
But ── for that, he couldn’t afford to let a tragedy such as that of Julis and Orphelia repeat. Not only wouldn’t he be able to face Julis, but he wouldn’t also be able to find an excuse to say to his big sister who would wake up.
As far as he heard the situation, the current Hilda was in a state where she was bound with so-called chains ── if so, Ayato couldn’t afford to release it.
“Bluntly put, I can’t trust you.”
“…I see. It’s a shame.”
Perhaps because Hilda was really thinking so from the bottom of her heart, she weakly dropped her shoulders.
“I got it. Well then, I’ll leave it at this for today. However…”
But when she once took a pause there as she put on airs, Hilda looked at Ayato with a serious face.
“I predict this, Amagiri Ayato. The time when you’ll eventually take my hand will definitely come. Right, definitely.”
Ayato stared straight at her silently as is.
“Well then, I hope to see you again. Kishishishi.”
As Hilda said so and fluttered her white robe, she disappeared into the darkness of midnight leaving laughter like rustling of clothes.
When Ayato finished talking, Julis deeply sighed after briefly saying so. Before they knew, the world began to be dyed red and the trees which were illuminated by the setting sun depicted deep shadow on the ground.
“I understand the circumstances. But, are you really fine with that?”
When Ayato asked back to the unexpected words, Julis indifferently continued.
“Of course, I can’t forgive the
. But, that’s to the bitter end my personal feelings. I also bear in mind how we must respect the fact that we can’t afford to have victims like Orphelia appear anymore than this, but that’s just righteous indignation after all.”
“No, I understand. Um, I’m honestly happy that you have refused the deal with that woman. But… at the same time, I feel guilty about it. Because of me, it looks like you can’t move freely.”
While Julis revealed an unusually timid wry smile, she cast down her eyes.
“In the end, even my wish is just a greater extension of my self-satisfaction. If you really want to awaken your big sister, I won’t blame you no matter what you choose to do. Keep at least that in mind.”
He didn’t think that such words would possibly come out from Julis’s mouth.
He couldn’t help but inwardly feel warm.
“Thank you. But, it’s fine. I understood when I met her. That the
isn’t a person that I can trust.”
They exchanged a conversation for a short time, but the horror, which he caught a glimpse of, was something that Ayato has never experienced so far.
“But, the fact that the
can awaken your big sister probably isn’t a lie.”
“…Yes, I also think that.”
Certainly, Hilda wasn’t someone who could be trusted, but she wasn’t the type of person to tell a shallow lie, either. Speaking on that point, she was slightly similar to Le Wolfe Black Institute Student Council President Dirk Eberwein.
Speaking about what they differed; you might say that Hilda gave off a dangerous impression which Dirk didn’t have.
“I also confirmed it with Korbel-sensei since then. Theoretically, it certainly seemed to be possible to awaken my big sister with the method that the
said. And it’s also true that only the
can do it… The Doctor also seemed very mortified.”
As a result, it meant that there were no lies in the conditions that Hilda had presented.
But even so, there was no telling that there was no other method than that.
“I’ll try to find a method to awaken my big sister without relying on the
. For that too, I must win the
Even if it was impossible with only Ayato’s power, it should be possible if he borrowed the Integrated Enterprise Foundation’s power. It wasn’t also as if he could completely trust the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, but still they were better than Hilda.
“I see… That’s why that enthusiasm, huh.”
As she remembered about how Ayato said “let’s win without fail” a little while ago in the student council room, Julis nodded as she understood his passion.
“I understand. At any rate, I also think of nothing other than victory. ──Then, we must do our best again from tomorrow on.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
Though he himself actually couldn’t sort things out about Hilda, by confiding to Julis like this he was finally able to have confidence towards his choice.
Now, he only had to move forward without hesitation.
The next day, Claudia’s exclusive training room.
“Now then, we will appear to the
with these members, but… in the meantime, we must first decide about the most important thing.”
Claudia looked around at the team members ── Ayato, Julis, Saya and Kirin that she gathered and said so.
“The most important thing?”
To Saya which cocked her head in puzzlement, Claudia nodded with a serious face.
“In other words, the team name.”
At that moment, Julis who bent herself forward lost her balance.
“How is it important?! Such a thing doesn’t matter!”
“My, but we will be introduced with that name to the whole world, you know? We cannot afford to register with a weird name, right?”
“That’s right, but… there are also many more important things, right?”
It looked like Julis couldn’t consent, but Kirin who was at her side timidly raised her hands.
“Um… for reference, what kind of names are other teams participating with?”
“Let me see. I would say the most famous are the Silver Wings Knights of Garrardsworth after all. They are divided into team Lancelot composed from the rank #1 to rank #5, and team Tristan composed from the rank #6 to rank #10. Beside them, team Rusalka of Queen Veil is, as you all know, using their band name as is.”
Rusalka was a Girls Rock Band which boasted of a global popularity. Although not to the extent of Sylvia, they boasted of a high popularity rate among the young generation and they also had many enthusiastic fans. Ayato has also heard about that name and several of their tunes.
“By the way, what will happen if the team name is non-registered?”
“In that case, the name of the representative will become the team name. For example, if the representative is called Tanaka-san, it’ll be team Tanaka.”
“Then, it’s already fine, isn’t it?”
Julis casually remarked as she was not interested at all.
“My, did you like the name “Team Tanaka” that much?”
“That’s not it! I mean that since you’re this team’s representative, “team Enfield” is fine!”
As Julis raised her eyes, Claudia turned to the other members while fickly laughing.
“If the others are fine with it, then I don’t mind, but… No, before that, we should talk in the first place about whether it is fine for me to be the representative.”
“It’s Claudia who chose the member this time, so I think it’s fine that you’re.”
“I-I also think that it’s fine.”
Saya and Kirin respectively agreed with Ayato’s words, and though with a sour look as is, Julis also nodded.
“I understand. In that case, though presumptuous I shall take the position of representative.”
Claudia bowed her head as she said that.
“Ah, speaking of representative, will President announce her candidacy for the student council president next year, too?”
“I intend to do so, but… what’s the matter, Toudou-san? Are you interested to the student council’s work?”
Kirin buzzingly shook her head.
“D-Don’t be absurd! Someone like me isn’t cut for it…! Um, it’s just that I was wondering whether your role of representative wouldn’t become a burden with your work as President, so I was a little…”
Because Claudia was usually busy one way or another, Kirin was worried about that.
“Fufufu, you don’t have to worry. After all, I do it because I like the student council.”
“Well, I don’t think that there is someone more cut out for it than you in this academy. It’s to the extent that I doubt whether a rival candidate will appear for the election.”
To Julis’s words, Saya nodded and Ayato also agreed.
Claudia was a talented woman of versatile type that could handle anything, and her achievements as student council president were recognized by every student of Seidoukan.
“──By the way, I would like to hear the continuance of yesterday’s talk.”
“Which talk are you talking about?”
“It’s about your wish which might make us enemy out of Galaxy.”
To Julis’s words, all the gazes were turned to Claudia.
Since that matter has been left unsettled in the end, Ayato was also concerned about it.
“Well… However, it’s not that interesting a talk, you know?”
Claudia said so, took a breath and slowly began the talk.
“My wish is to hear a story from a certain person who is currently detained.”
“…Hear a story? That’s it?”
As Julis asked with a disappointed face, Claudia revealed a light smile.
“Yes. But, that task is difficult. After all, the other party is a person related to the
── more exactly, the one regarded as the ideological leader of that criminal group.”
You could see that everyone suddenly gasped.
Speaking of the
, it was the greatest terrorist incident in Asterisk history. But presently, that topic was considered taboo and regarding the truth too, many parts were still shrouded in darkness.
“The judgment related to the
has been held in a special courtroom by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation leadership and most of it was private… Moreover, there is also the fact that the judgment itself was not opened to the public and was frozen from within; in that case it looks like it’s also the one that I’m hoping to meet.”
“Errr, even if I ask you about that person’s name…?”
“I don’t mind, I don’t think you people know him. His name is Ladislav Bartok.”
Kirin who asked that and Julis beside her made faces showing that it was their first time hearing that name. Naturally, Ayato too was not familiar with it.
But to everyone’s surprise, Saya slowly raised her hand.
“…I know him.”
“Ah, that’s right. It won’t be strange even if Sasamiya-san know that name.”
“Oh. Who on earth is he?”
“He is a famous scientist in the development research regarding luxes and ogre luxes. Especially, he has written several important theses related to ogre luxes and you may say that they are at a level where his name remains in history. But, I’ve read in some sort of book that he went missing after a certain time. If I remember correctly, before that he has assumed the profession of teacher in Seidoukan…”
When Julis asked, Saya began to talk in a garrulous tone, but she closed her mouth midway as she was taken aback.
“Right. At one time, he has assumed the position of teacher in the University department of this Seidoukan. Although, it seemed that he has hardly taken charge of a class and mostly secluded himself in a laboratory of Galaxy. And the ogre lux created by his hands in those days is this
Claudia took out the activation body of
from the holder on her waist as she said so.
“Heeh, so he is the one who made
Though Kirin seemed to admire honestly, Julis beside her looked like she was brooding over something with a serious expression.
“No, more importantly… if what you said just now is true, it meant that the ideological leader of the people who caused the
has been in Seidoukan…”
“Ah…! Y-You’re right. Then, is it the reason why President is targeted by Galaxy…?”
“Fufufu, it’s likely.”
Though Claudia laughed as to evade the question, Julis stepped forward even further as if to say that it was inexcusable.
“So, what do you want to talk about with that man when you meet him?”
“I cannot tell you that yet. Because if I tell you any more than this, there is a high possibility that danger will directly befall on you guys. After all as of now, all contact with him is prohibited.”
But, Claudia calmly, yet flatly rejected it.
“But, as I also said the other day, it’s the time when Galaxy is still observing my movement now. They probably won’t make any big movements until at least the summer.”
On the other hand, Ayato somewhat felt that he was not fully satisfied with what she said.
Certainly, that talk was something which touched the dark side of Seidoukan and Galaxy, and depending on the situation, it would become quite a scandal. But even if it was so, the
itself was already a story of the past. Even if that was to be made public now, would it be to the extent that Galaxy would move directly?
(Besides it looked like Claudia hasn’t yet talked about everything, too…)
──There was probably something deeper in this matter.
Although vague, Ayato felt it.
“Now then, let’s leave the digression as this and get to the main issue already.”
“The main issue?”
“Yes. It is said that the
with the most unexpected results and surprises. In other words, it’s possible to overturn the difference in ability depending on tactics ── therefore, we must accurately grasp each other’s ability.”
As she said so, Claudia activated
which she was holding in her hand.
“──Having said that, it is necessary to have you guys know about this child’s true ability.”