Volume 1, Chapter 3: Sky and Levels
Is the inexperienced sky too narrow?
Is it enough if you are inexperienced?
Point Allocation (Let's Get Some Sleep Later)
Mitotsudaira hurried to the Asama Shrine.
Her king and Asama were behind her. As a knight, it was her duty to protect them both.
She was currently surrounded by alarms, confused shouting, and the sounds of hurried movement. Off the port side, a ghost fleet was attacking the Musashi from the southwest.
They had only loosed arrows at first, but now they were firing guns, hoping those attacks would actually reach the Musashi.
…Ghost warships are always aggressive, but it’s unusual to see such a large fleet of them.
Asama was using a sign frame to check the reports coming in from the Chancellor’s Officers.
“We should be safe once we reach the Asama Shrine,” she concluded. “I can monitor everything within the ship from there, which will help communicate with the others, so please hurry!”
Being told to hurry did nothing to help here, but Mitotsudaira honestly knew she was fairly slow.
Her running form had gained some odd idiosyncrasies and she felt learning the proper way to walk and run in high heels was partially to blame. Also…
…Maybe it’s because I’m a Loup-Garou, but when I make a conscious effort to hurry, I tense up all weird.
Her pure Loup-Garou mother had not been like that, but now was not the time to think back on that.
They passed through the nature district to reach the Asama Shrine. An artificial forest was constructed out of crust blocks the size of a standard Far-Eastern tatami mat. Her slower king and Asama were both managing to keep up with her through that forest. And when she focused on Asama…
…Oh, I see.
With a decent-sized chest, you could not pump your arms vertically.
And with a chest of that size, you also could not pump them horizontally very much.
“D-do you need something, Mito!?”
“No, um, couldn’t you run faster if you pumped your arms?”
“Eh? I am, though!”
You are? It looks more to me like you’re holding them between your arms to restrain the jiggling.
She then noticed her king was mimicking Asama by holding imaginary breasts between his arms as he ran.
“Wh-what are you doing, Toori-kun!? I don’t bend back that far while I run!”
Yet you can tell it’s supposed to be you? But…
A sign frame appeared by their faces without warning. It was from Suzu, who was supposedly working at her family’s bathhouse.
“U-um, things are…fine here. Kimi-chan is…going around…the baths, so it’s…fine?”
“I see,” said Asama while she ran. “Kimi is dancing around the baths like a crazy person, but that’s normal for her, so it’s fine.”
“How in the world did you reach that interpretation?”
Mitotsudaira was not quite sure what Suzu was saying, but apparently Kimi was there.
Kimi was a classmate and her king’s sister. Kimi must have been curious what was going on outside, especially regarding him.
So Suzu asked another question.
Suzu was in the dressing room of Dangerous Waters, a bathhouse in Musashino’s underground area.
She had been born blind, so Kimi was holding her shoulders to help her bear with the shaking from the incoming attacks. Meanwhile, she heard voices from her sign frame. First, Toori’s.
“Well, you see, Bell-san, Asama pressed a button and some ghost ships popped out.”
I’m sorry, Toori-kun, but I don’t know what that means. How can you expect me to? she wondered.
Also, Kimi suddenly let go of her shoulders and collapsed to the floor.
“Heh…heh heh. I had heard the external threat alarm, but ghost ships? I-I’m going to check out now.”
Kimi was afraid of ghosts – and anything scary, really – but this response seemed too obedient for her.
“K-Kimi-chan…calm down. We haven’t…cleaned the dressing room…yet.”
“Then so be it! I will sink into fear in as wet and messy a way as possible!”
Kimi was being as Kimi as ever, but Mitotsudaira was getting worked up over the divine transmission.
“Y-you need to be more accurate, my king. Asama pressed a button to protect your butt and some ghost ships popped out!”
Mitotsudaira was speaking loudly enough for the evacuating customers to turn Suzu’s way. But…
“Y-you need to stop that too, Mito! I didn’t do anything to cause this! I promised to give Toori-kun a talking to and pressed the spell field tuning button and, by pure coincidence, the ghost ships appeared. You know how things have a miniscule chance of happening at the exact same moment? That’s what happened here. Man, I sure am unlucky, huh?”
Suzu was utterly confused now, so she only had one thing to say.
“All three of you…are contradicting each…other?”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Detective Bell is on the case! Now, who was it that pressed the button that made the ghost ships pop out!? As her assistant, I shall identify the culprit with a boobs investigation! You’re up first, Adele! Hmm, no, you don’t make the cut. Better luck next time.”
Flat Vassal: “Wh-why would you start with me!? If the joke is meant to be on me, you should start with the Satomi Student Council President to build up to the main event!”
Righteousness: “Don’t drag me into this! I’m trying to eat over here!”
Gold Mar: “Are you calling yourself the final boss, Adele?”
Mar-Ga: “She pretty much is. …Anyway, we heard all this happening while waiting up above, but we had no idea what you were talking about.”
Asama: “Oh, you two were a part of all that?”
Mar-Ga: “Judge. We were a little unlucky.”
Mar-Ga: “Judge. We just so happened to be up there on a job.”
Naruze stopped her broom amid the blaring of the alarms.
Hers was a feather duster model. It had a large brush for a Technohexen broom, which gave it powerful acceleration, but it could be a pain to stop it in midair. After all, that reduced its fuel efficiency. But…
“For now, let’s obey the stop-in-place requirement while trying to stay out of everyone’s way, Ga-chan.”
“Sure, Margot. Oh, I’ll put up the stop notification display. By which I mean, I’ll draw us up one.”
She used red lines to draw that Magie Figur over their heads. It was hand-drawn, but Technohexen did not buy commercial products and carry them around.
That completed what was required of them while they borrowed Musashi’s airspace. So now…
“Margot, do you know what’s going on?”
“Judge.” Margot pointed toward Okutama below them. “Asama-chi pressed the talking-to button that protects To-chan’s butt, which had a miniscule chance of making ghost ships appear.”
“Heh heh. Oh, Margot. You don’t have to make up weird jokes to help fight the tension, you know? But I might have even laughed had you found something a little funnier to say.”
“No, it’s 100% true. Look.”
Naruze viewed the Magie Figur that Margot held out for her.
It was indeed true.
“What are those idiots doing?”
“Who knows. …Oh, wow.”
Margot looked up into the sky where three lines of light were travelling from port to starboard.
This was not the arrows or gunfire from before. Those three attacks could not be fully drained of energy by the Asama Shrine’s spell field.
“The ghost fleet is firing cannons!? I know those types are always basically asking to be sunk, but isn’t this a bit much?”
Naruze also saw faint lights appear all around the Musashi. The warriors and guards gathered at their posts or stations were all opening sign frames to check on that attack.
The Technohexen were in position to see it for themselves. And…
“That was from south to north, wasn’t it?”
That meant whoever had fired it was to the south.
They could indeed see some glowing ships in the sky there. All of the ships were Dragon-class, but…
“What is that?” Naruze tilted her head. “How odd. Aren’t Funayurei generally found on fishing boats? That should be Kraken-class at the biggest, so why are they riding Dragon-class light warships?”
Naito sensed something strange.
They were west of Suruga, where the coastline was nearly straight and the ocean was calm. Accidents at sea here generally happened in the dangerous currents far out at sea, but few ships went out that far.
The accidents that led to ghosts were few and far between.
Funayurei were generally found in the channel to the west of the Far East or in the rough oceans of the Holland region.
…Besides, have such aggressive ones ever appeared in this region before?
She had her doubts, but she had no intention of looking into it. Nor would it matter if she did.
“There are a ton of mysterious phenomenon lately with the Apocalypse approaching,” said Naruze. “They’ve been talking about it a lot on the divine radio recently.”
“Except for our generation, it’s been like this all our lives, so it all seems normal enough to us.”
Light scattered in the sky. The defense barriers had blocked an ether cannon blast flying along a straight path. People raised their voices in the city below.
The alarms were shifting to a fire bell style. Instead of a general emergency alarm, this was an evacuation alarm.
The people had to get underground. So…
“Zwei Fräulein, it’s me.”
Naruze sighed when a sign frame appeared.
“Who’s this creep? Are you afraid the scary Technohexen will curse you if you give us your name, or did you never develop past being a rude child? Almirante, did you decide running the delivery industry is too much work?”
“You Technohexen never give me anything but lip. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyway, I’ve got a minor job for you.”
“Minor? What, you aren’t sending us into the fight?”
“Our firing spells are more powerful than those ones you carry around in secret.”
He knew what to say to irritate them. But Naruze had a question.
“Are you saying you can take on warships?”
“They don’t call me Almirante for nothing.”
A cry rose from the city below and light repeatedly scattered in the sky above. The enemy’s aim seemed to be gradually adjusting the altitude to more accurately target the Musashi.
“Margot, a transport ship is leaving from the port.”
It was one of the Musashi’s transport ships. Musashi Ariadust Academy students and a vassal unit stood on its deck.
Musashi was a trade ship and part of the Far East, so they were generally not allowed to fight in battles.
But that did not apply to battles against mysterious phenomena since they did not belong to any other nation.
The normal residents, the student warriors, the vassals, and the knights were moving out ahead to form the best battle formations they could.
“We were ordered not to participate, so there’s nothing for us to do, Margot.”
“Think again. We just got a nice and boring job.”
She looked down to see a divine mail from Almirante.
“We’re supposed to fly around casting divine protections on the longhouses below? Boring is right.”
“We stop by the Main Blue Thunder but To-chan and Kimi-chan are both still out and then we run into ghosts on the way home. Today is just not our day.”
With that, Naruze looked back and down.
“What is it, Ga-chan?”
Needless to say, something odd had flashed through her field of vision.
“The nature district? No, what is that doing so close to the Asama Shrine?” Naruze opened a communications Magie Figur. “Asama! There’s some weird mess of ether over by you!”
“Eh?” Asama was not sure what the divine transmission from the Technohexen meant. “A-a strange mess of ether?”
“Hm? Not strange, Asama-chi. Weird is the better word for it.”
“I’m not sure what the difference is and could you maybe use a clearer word than just ‘mess’?”
“Judge. I’ll tell you what you need to know,” chimed in Naito. “From above, it looks like…yes, a weird mess of ether is the best way of putting it.”
Asama ended the transmission. Mitotsudaira looked back while jumping from one crust block to another situated higher up.
“Hm? What’s going on?”
“I think 80% is just them trolling me on reflex, but they must be serious about the other 20%, so be on your guard.”
“If you say so,” said Mitotsudaira.
Meanwhile, he suddenly slowed his pace.
“Hm? What is it, Toori-kun? We’ll be safe inside the Asama Shrine’s grounds, so try to wait until we’re there, okay?”
“Yeah, I get that, but…look.” He pointed to port. “What’s that? Aren’t they being chased?”
She looked in that direction and saw an unnatural white ether fog covering the nature district – that was probably what the Technohexen had been talking about. Within that, someone was chasing someone else.
Even without context, it was easy enough to tell the one person was being “chased” because…
Several people were pursuing the one person with weapons in hand.
“Nate,” he said upon grasping that.
“J-judge! What is it!?”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this. How bout you? And you too, Asama?”
She had to agree.
“I notified the guard station, my dad, and ‘Okutama’, so they will be captured. I am the Asama Shrine Representative and Mito is a Rank 1 knight, but you are a normal citizen, Toori-kun. Still, you have my authorization as long as you promise not to do anything reckless.”
“Are you mad?”
“No, no,” she said. She really was not.
…I just thought it was funny how much of a Toori-kun thing this is to do.
They had a task now.
“Nate, chase after them, will you?” asked Toori. “If things look bad and you think there’s something you can do, then do something about it.”
That was an order.
Asama saw a change come over Mitotsudaira’s face.
Her eyebrows rose and her eyes widened, but she quickly lowered her eyebrows from that look of surprise.
…Wow, that was a good response.
Asama knew this had to be his first direct combat order for her, so she knew she had to provide support here.
“Mito, I will provide you with a physical buffing divine protection to help you pursue that group. I will also send you any additional information as soon as it comes on, so hurry!”
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