Volume 1, Chapter 1: Past and Wolf
Something you create
Or something created for you?
Point Allocation (Self-Destruction)
An enormous ship traveled through the spring sky.
The sky was a deep blue that April afternoon. The clouds were stretched and torn by the wind and the season aboard Aerial City Ship Musashi was at the point where the cherry trees were finally budding.
That ship maintained an altitude between 3 and 10 kilometers above ground. The onboard temperature was never as cold as the surrounding air, but it still tended to take a southward course at the start of spring, so the onboard temperature would grow warmer at that time. So…
“We were stopped up north by snow this year and we spent a long time in stealth cruising due to the rebellion in Ming, so it looks like the cherry trees will be late to bloom. We tried to keep the stealth off whenever possible, but the Musashi will probably still have a lingering winter chill.”
“Yes, our shrine’s cherry trees should have bloomed by now too. Musashi’s buffering spell and atmospheric adjustments have warmed the temperature to early spring levels, but the plants still operate on their natural rhythm.”
Those voices could be heard in a classroom of the middle school in Musashino’s surface city.
However, this was not a large school building and schoolyard built into an entire level of the ship. It was made from a modified longhouse located alongside the high school dorms and the student corporate guild building in the area known as the student district.
The building had classrooms for each school year lined up alongside the atrium park that pierced vertical down into Musashino.
Outside the windows were a terrace and a stairway leading down to the park.
At this time of day, the green of the park shined bright in the sun.
The voices had come from one of the dimly-lit classrooms in the long, narrow school building.
“How about we step outside, Mito? They have a snack stand set up in the park down there.”
“No, I am fine, Asama. I am waiting for my king.”
“In that case,” said Asama, the black-haired girl leaning onto the windowsill, while looking away from Mitotsudaira, the silver-haired girl seated nearby.
Asama turned to check the classroom clock, which said it was 4 PM.
“Hmm,” she groaned upon realizing how much time had passed. “I’m waiting for Toori-kun too, so we can wait together.”
“Yes. I need to adjust his divine protections for late spring. You know how he and Kimi are under my care and have agreed to help with my spell development? That means I need to set things up for them as much as for myself. So I need to speak with him about that.”
She opened a sign frame and did a few things with it.
It was 4 PM, which meant she had a task to do.
“Excuse me, but I need to adjust Musashi’s ether pathways for the night.”
“You sure have a lot of work to do when you’re still only training to be the Asama Shrine Representative. You’ve been doing this every day, haven’t you?” asked Mitotsudaira. “I feel like you have had more of this kind of work recently.”
Mitotsudaira saw four different sign frames displayed by Asama’s hands.
The front side shined up on Asama’s summer uniform, but they were set so Mitotsudaira could not see what they said from the back. But based on the girl’s hand movements, she was operating a console, not typing out text. Mitotsudaira had a thought while seeing Asama illuminated from below like that.
…Oh? Asama, th-that lighting makes your chest look unbelievably large.
Asama: “Okay! Okay! Now we get to react! But we are trying to create a record of an unofficial incident from the past, so try to avoid any inappropriate comments! Please!”
Silver Wolf: “Hey, why am I intruding on someone else’s flashback scene!?”
Gold Mar: “I feel like that was mostly you taking the bait. Yeah.”
Vice President: “Hm? So we’re allowed to react to what happens? So in the log, I take it the sections starting with ● are someone’s flashback and the sections starting with ○ are us reacting on the divine chat?”
Mar-Ga: “Anyway, I seem to recall that Asama was considered ‘huge’ as far back as elementary school.”
Flat Vassal: “…”
Asama: “A-Adele!? You haven’t shown up in Mito’s flashback yet, so you don’t have to react yet! Let’s try to avoid a false start here, okay?”
Gold Mar: “You were there, Asama-chi, so how about you fill things in from your side?”
Asama: “Eh? Y-you want me to do it too?”
Asama noticed Mitotsudaira staring while she was operating a console on her sign frame.
That girl had Loup-Garou blood, so she had bestial eyes that seemed to glow in the dark. And…
…Huh? Where is she looking?
It almost looked like she was staring up at Asama’s chest from below. But…
…Eh? Um, why my chest?
I know I have a large chest, but it’s been like this for so long it can be easy to forget. Do I even remember a time in my life when I could see my feet? I don’t think I- no, I do. I definitely do. That ended in 4th grade, though. Yeah. But not being able to see my feet made me pay more attention to fashion in regards to my shoes and whatnot, so it’s a complicated issue.
…Anyway, what is this about? Maybe I’m mistaking what Mito is staring at. And I am a shrine maiden, so…
“Um, Mito? If something is bothering you, I might be able to help.”
She placed a sign frame by her neck to create a wall vertically between her and Mitotsudaira’s gazes. Then Asama checked the 3D shape of Mitotsudaira’s chest.
…There’s nothing there. Wait, maybe there’s a little…no, there’s not…except that isn’t quite true. But it isn’t enough to say otherwise either.
It depended on how she observed it. Was this some kind of chest-related uncertainty principle?
…But why is Mito staring at my chest like that?
Mitotsudaira realized she had grown distracted by Asama’s chest.
She was not going to absorb any of its power by staring at it. If anything, she was worried Asama’s would absorb what little power she had.
…And I may have been staring, but that isn’t what matters.
She had been trying to ask about the sign frames Asama was using. She seemed to be using more of them and more frequently lately, but…
…That means she’s been entrusted with a lot more of the Asama Shrine’s work, doesn’t it?
However, there was no hesitation in the way she operated the keyboard or screen.
Mitotsudaira belatedly wondered when the girl had learned to do that.
They were in the third year of middle school, so it was time to decide on a future for themselves. Mitotsudaira would prefer to forget it ever happened, but she had left the others and gone wild for a bit due to personal reasons. Thanks to that, she felt like she had not found her starting point yet.
She had run into a major setback.
She had gone wild but then returned. She had yet to recover from that, so she had decided to simply do her duty as a student and live an ordinary life so the others would not worry about her. That was how she envisioned her school life.
Asama was in charge of her spells and they had been friends beforehand, so they could still talk together.
But it was that closer relationship that made the well-practiced sign frame operation come as such a surprise.
“When did that happen?”
That girl had skills Mitotsudaira had not known about and she had a role of her own in a job beyond being a student.
I’m probably just jealous, thought Mitotsudaira as she asked a question.
“How did you get to be like that?”
Asama was not immediately sure what Mitotsudaira meant.
Like what? Was there anything about her worth questioning in that way? Could it be…
Was that why Mitotsudaira had been staring?
Had she been so bothered by Asama’s chest that she felt the need to ask about it?
Asama was dumbfounded, but she belatedly realized something.
Mitotsudaira must have been staring at her chest because of their sheer size. That was kind of an embarrassing thought, but since Mitotsudaira had been away being a delinquent for a while, she may not have had a chance to see Asama’s chest for a while.
That period of delinquency had started in the fourth grade and she had finally gotten over it after 4 or 5 years, so this would have been her first time noticing Asama’s growth in a long while.
…In that sense, it might indeed come as a surprise.
But that was not a bad thing. It was unclear what had triggered this bout if insanity in Mitotsudaira, but it also meant she was actually looking at Asama for the first time in years.
Maybe they could even call themselves friends.
Then Mitotsudaira had asked that question.
“How did I get to be like this?”
How had she done it?
…Is she asking what she can do to make hers bigger?
Asama shuddered as she considered that question. This came down to knowledge on increasing one’s bust size, but…
…I don’t know how you do that!
Oops. But c’mon, there are some things not even a shrine maiden knows. Still, this is not good. I did say I might be able to help. So…
“W-wait just a moment, okay?”
She quickly opened another sign frame and made a search.
She had an answer in 2 seconds flat.
…That was fast. And directly from my god!
This must have been a frequently asked and very important question even for a god. That seemed somewhat contradictory, but whatever. Such is life.
But when she glanced over, she saw Mitotsudaira looking back at her.
That look of expectation and slight tension made Asama sweat.
What was she supposed to do?
She had just checked on Mitotsudaira’s chest situation, so she understood why the girl was asking. I wish I could just tell her that this excess size is entirely fruitless…well, I guess some people figuratively refer to them as fruits, but that’s not the point. Regardless, this feels like such a hairy issue. A hairy chest issue? Wait, what am I saying? Hairy chests are a guy thing.
When her mind was snapped back into focus, Asama reflexively responded with a shrine maiden smile.
“What is it? You can count on me.”
“Then,” said Mitotsudaira while pointing toward Asama’s chest through the sign frame in between. “Judge. How did level up with those things so much?”
I’m really not sure what to tell you.
Mitotsudaira pointed at the sign frame opened near Asama’s chest and continued her question.
“How hard did you have to work to manage that?”
“Eh!?” Asama tilted her head. “Well, um, uhh, the thing is…i-it wasn’t really about hard work.”
If she had managed to fulfill her current role and job without putting any hard work into it, was it an issue of natural talent?
If so, that was even more impressive.
“So when did you gain that kind of skill?”
“Um, skill? I’m not sure that’s the right word here.” Asama raised her right index finger. “If anything…yes.” She nodded. “You might find it hard to believe, but this just happened on its own.”
Mitotsudaira was stunned.
…On its own!?
They did say people were raised by their environment, so was the heir to the Asama Shrine just surrounded by so much Shinto stuff on a daily basis that she had picked up these skills without even trying?
Mitotsudaira on the other hand…
…I might be in the Knight League and I might still hold the position of 1st Knight, but…
She had been neglecting her Knight League duties. Of course, the position of knight was more of a formality than anything in Musashi, but she had still turned her back on the environment given to her.
She felt ashamed and spoke with a self-deprecating smile.
“I’m such a failure compared to you.”
Oh, no! thought Asama with panic in her heart.
She had hesitated while trying to figure out how to explain that Shinto had no boob buffing spells, but that hesitation had done damage to Mitotsudaira.
She knew she had to fix this somehow because these things could scar people for life. Like with Adele.
So she quickly spoke up.
“D-don’t worry, Mito! You still have a chance!”
“A chance?” Mitotsudaira wrinkled her brow in a troubled way. “What are you saying I should do?”
“Y-you mean, specifically?”
“Just as much as you know.”
Oh! realized Asama. I can manage that much. For example…
“Well.” She put a hand on her chin and went with one of the commonly-cited methods. “It apparently helps to drink lots of milk.”
Mitotsudaira was stunned again.
When you wanted the skills and proficiency needed for your job and role…
“It’s important to drink milk!?”
“Y-yes, it is. I mean, look at Adele. You see her chugging down milk every day.”
That was true enough.
…And she has just started down her path as a vassal.
Adele had always wanted to be a vassal and she had truly started studying toward getting her vassal’s license in this third year of middle school. But…
“I-I find it hard to believe milk can help with that.”
“R-really? I thought this was common knowledge.”
Mitotsudaira was stunned for a third time. When did their society become so milk-focused? Now, she had no real problem with drinking milk, but…
“I had no idea you drank lots of milk, Asama.”
“Oh, I don’t drink very much myself.”
“Then why even bring it up!?”
“B-but it came naturally for me, so I didn’t have to! But if you want to do it artificially, then you have to resort to milk!”
Mitotsudaira had no way of refuting that logic.
And it was true that Asama was something of a special case.
“As far as I can remember, it’s sake you’re always drinking, not milk.”
“Wait, wait. I don’t drink that much sake. After our teacher stopped me before, I’ve been trying to only drink it at home. With an exception at lunch, of course.”
“Um, so is that bamboo bottle you always pull out at lunch full of sake?”
“No, don’t be silly. Today it had last year’s batch of umeshu.”
Drinkers could be weirdly particular about these things, but Asama apparently had more to say.
“Now, to get back on topic, um, there is one other way.”
What other way was there to acquire and master the skills required for your role?
Asama blushed but raised her eyebrows a little as she spoke in a serious tone.
“Getting guys to, uh, massage you apparently works too.”
Mitotsudaira was not sure what Asama meant, so she bluntly stated her thoughts.
“Asama! To put this as softly as possible, are you crazy!?”
“Huh? Isn’t that a little hard-hitting to be putting it softly? But anyway.” Asama held her hands out to tell Mitotsudaira to calm down. She was also blushing. “Listen. A lot of people claim it’s true. It’s especially common to hear it from married people.”
Mitotsudaira was not sure why being married was relevant to this discussion, but maybe it just meant they were older.
…They would have more social experience.
That was when she realized what Asama was trying to say.
So she doesn’t mean a literal massage.
“I get it now.”
…She means getting “massaged” by the harshness of a masculine society, doesn’t she!?
With spells, divine protections, social development, and social guarantees, the genders had equal rights on Musashi in all things outside of the history recreation.
But women were still the ones who gave birth and tended to handle more of the childcare, which took up a lot of their time. And as a ship that transported goods for trade, Musashi had a lot of heavy lifting jobs. Thus, Musashi’s labor force tended to be more male.
So you had to understand things on the worksite to know how the world worked.
Thus, Asama was saying to take the plunge into that kind of social group and let it “massage” your skills.
…I understand now!
“Asama! I apologize for calling you crazy. If you were crazy, how could we be holding such a serious conversation like this?”
“Mito, I’m not sure this conversation qualifies as serious.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Mitotsudaira waved a hand dismissively because she had a question. “So did you end up like this thanks to the ‘massaging’ of a bunch of guys?”
Asama briefly imagined that scene, but the men ended up just being a faceless mob in her head.
…Oh, just like in one of Naruze’s doujinshis.
Yeah, that isn’t realistic at all, she thought with a bitter smile. Besides, that isn’t how it worked for me.
“No, Mito. Like I said, this came naturally for me, so I didn’t need anything like that. Besides, who exactly do you think I would go to for that?”
“My king maybe?”
Asama briefly imagined that scene. The faceless mob suddenly all had his face.
It felt much more real all of a sudden. But you can’t actually make multiple copies of the same person, can you?
Oh, no. Why did I look that up? And I sort of even got my god’s approval for it. Does Shinto have no shame? Also…
“Asama! Asama! Why are you sitting there blushing and wiggling around!?”
“I-I just took a direct but very unexpected hit is all.”
Asama lightly struck her own head to drive out the naughty thoughts. Once was not enough, so she struck herself a second and third time. Then a fourth for good measure.
“Asama! Asama! Those are some pretty solid hits from the heel of your palm!”
“Oh, I-I’m fine, I’m fine! I got them all out!”
Right now, she needed to help out her friend, not fantasize about being the protagonist(?) of a doujinshi.
She had apparently provided a solution for that friend’s worries because Mitotsudaira’s face had lit up.
However, something about the girl’s words had Asama worried.
So just to be sure, she asked about it.
“Um, Mito? Who do you intend to go to for this massage?”
Mitotsudaira tilted her head with a look that said “you have to ask?”
“Judge. Well, I figure it would best to go to some place where a lot of experienced men work and have them ‘massage’ me.”
Asama briefly imagined that scene. Then she placed her hands on Mitotsudaira’s shoulders.
“Rethink this! Th-that plan is dangerous!”
Mitotsudaira was not sure what Asama meant.
To put it softly, that girl was crazy. To put it normally, she was nonsensical. So Mitotsudaira calmed herself down and asked about this.
“Wh-why should I rethink it? What’s wrong with going to a male-dominated workplace and having them massage me and get rough with me?”
“Y-you need to calm down! Massaging is one thing, but if they get too rough it will have the opposite effect!”
Mitotsudaira was still unsure what Asama meant, but she could tell the girl was worried for her.
“I will be fine. I am very tough, after all.”
“Yes, but…but you need to calm down. Reality can be very harsh and sexual.”
The shrine maiden slapped Mitotsudaira’s shoulders and then placed a hand on her own chin. And after a pause…
“Why not start with some simple practice?”
“Like with just one person? But who?”
“Hmm.” Asama finally offered a name. “I guess it would have to be Toori-kun.”
“I-I couldn’t possibly trouble my king with something like this. And…does he really have the strength to properly massage me and get rough with me?”
“Y-you want to know if Toori-kun could massage you and get rough with you!?”
“Judge,” said Mitotsudaira. She had heard that the workplace could be a cruel place.
…Greedy people hoping to steal your pay will squeeze you for all you’re worth and suck you dry!
“I am prepared to let my king get rough with me, to squeeze me, and to suck me dry.”
Asama wobbled on her feet. She was apparently feeling dizzy.
She staggered and nearly fell onto the windowsill, so Mitotsudaira quickly propped her up.
“A-are you okay, Asama!?”
“Oh, sorry, I just have a nosebleed is all. …Hey, Hanami? Adjust my blood pressure, will you?”
Mitotsudaira had never before seen the Asama Shrine’s heir turn toward her with a handkerchief in her nose.
But she went on to slap Mitotsudaira’s shoulders several times.
“I-I had no idea you were so serious about this, Mito! You might be willing to take this even further than Adele!”
“I-I am not quite sure what you mean, but I am willing to do what I can! Also…”
Mitotsudaira took a breath.
Speaking with Asama about her thoughts had helped resolve the problem within her.
“I feel like I found a solution to the problem I have kept hidden in my heart for a while now.”
“Well, we still don’t know if this solution will work.”
“Even so,” said Mitotsudaira. “I am much less worried about it now. You really never know what will help you get over your worries, do you?”
“You have my thanks…Asama.”
She nearly used Asama’s given name like she used to, but she chose not to.
She felt like it was too soon for that, but was that a sign of growth, or was it just a momentary whim?
Still, Asama nodded and responded with eyes narrowed.
“Don’t worry, Mito. Resolving people’s worries is one of the Asama Shrine’s duties.”
Silver Wolf: “…”
Asama: “Looking back, I feel like Mito and I were having two very different conversations back then.”
Vice President: “How do you two ever manage to communicate?”
Silver Wolf: “You know, I kind of feel like my gratitude back then has been tainted!”
Gold Mar: “Not an uncommon occurrence around here.”
Bell: “So…wh-what happened…then?”
Asama tried to figure out what to do.
…Is it possible to help Mito’s chest grow?
That would be a truly difficult task. She already knew Shinto was powerless to help. The Shinto spell list was updated monthly, so maybe she needed to ask Hanami to monitor that for anything useful.
At any rate, she now needed to decide whether or not to enlist some help here.
Has he still not arrived? she wondered just before hearing a voice behind her.
“Hm? Were you waiting for me?”
His voice arrived through the window along with the spring light.
Toori was there.
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