Chapter 7: Promise
Taisha Literature and History Department - Miko-sama: CENSORED
It was after I ■■■■ the ■■■■ that I learned.
That in the past, it wasn't ■■■■ that inflicted pain onto ■■■■, but ■■■■.
And that the cause for that was ■■■■ from the start.
It's a bit similar to the story of ■■■■ of ■■■■, I thought.
Hero’s Memoir 298.9.21
The girls were cleansing their bodies in the waterfall. The waterfall flowing nearby the Divine Tree, was off limits to everyone save for a few high ranked members in Taisha.
[Hyaa~! so cold so cold~]
[Sonocchi, calm down.]
[Eh? what was that? I can't hear you over the sound of the water.]
[We're meeting Shinju-sama. We need to sharpen our minds, Sonocchi.]
[Yeah. Good thing it's still the hot season though. I wouldn't want to enter a waterfall during winter~]
[I don't particularly mind, since I bathe in cold water every morning.]
[Uwa~, I thought you were mature but that's a whole different level. You're like a monk in training, Wasshii~]
[I highly recommend you try it as well, Sonocchi. It's good for both body and mind.]
[I will thoroughly consider your offer.]
Era of the gods, year 298 - Autumn.
Sumi and Sonoko, having received their Hero system upgrade, will be meeting the Divine Tree for a "greeting". The Washio and Nogi households have great authority within Taisha, they are allowed direct contact with the Divine Tree in times of emergency.
Sumi and Sonoko stood before the Divine Tree. It grows huge during forestization, but it's usually not that big a tree.
The girls were overwhelmed by its majestic aura. Being a tree, it wasn't going to speak. But its presence was so magnificent you'd instinctively get on your knees. In this new era, the Divine Tree was the source of all blessings. It is because of its presence, because its roots extend throughout the land, that crops bear fruits and fish swim about in this world, surrounded by a wall. This world cannot survive without the Divine Tree.
Thus, people named this time the Era of the Gods.
(In order to protect mankind from the deadly virus spreading throughout the world, many local Gods combined, became the Divine Tree...enclosed Shikoku with a wall, put up a barrier...)
The end of the Christian era, and the start of the new one.
Sumi was reminded of the holy tale of the birth of the tree that they were taught. Even Sonoko was feeling nervous. Having received the Miko's permission, the two touched the tree. This was the first time they were this close to it.
[Shinju-sama's pretty warm, Wasshii~]
Sonoko regained her composure after touching the tree. Fearsome but also strangely warm.
Sumi nervously touched the tree.
[...What's wrong Wasshii~? Are you okay?]
Sonoko said as she noticed her partner's state.
[....Something is...flowing into my head....Uu...Kuh....What is this...?]
[Eh...? Into your head...? You mean you're talking to Shinju-sama?!]
An endlessly extending sky flashed into Sumi's mind. At that moment, she lost consciousness.
[Ah, Wasshii~ you woke up! Thank god.]
[How are you feeling~?]
Sumi got on her feet, and tried moving her body around. There were no abnormalities.
[I'm fine. Actually hungry.]
[Phe~w, thank god. I was so worried I lied down and fell asleep next to you~]
[You fell asleep? Not that there's anything wrong with that.]
[You fainted right after you touched the Shinju-sama.]
[Yes...I felt something entering my head...Like endless stars falling...Then I got dizzy...]
[Stars? The stars in the sky?]
[That was an oracle, Washio-san.]
The homeroom teacher was standing by the door.
[Sensei, you came all the way here. I'm sorry for making you worry...]
[Washio-san not only has the aptitude to become a Hero, but you can also become a Miko, passing the will of the Shinju-sama]
[Me, a Miko...]
[Uwa~ you're so amazing Wasshii~! Your coordination strength exceeds that of Akechi Mitsuhide from the old era~]
[...You know who that is?]
[Cough. It certainly is amazing, even for a direct decent of the Washio, however...]
[The contents of the visions are worrying. What you saw was an image of stars falling from the sky, right? And it wasn't just one, but a large number of them...!]
Sumi gulped at the rare sight of her teacher's tension.
[How were the stars falling? Up close or in the distance?]
[They fell so close, it was pretty scary.]
[That's an emergency message, indicating there will be an enemy attack in the very next few days.]
[To begin with, they were supposed to have come by now...Looks like they were preparing to attack all at once.]
Sumi and Sonoko stared at each other.
[What else did you see? By analyzing the specifics we can have more details. For example, the number of stars is said to indicate the number of enemies.]
Based on Sumi's testimony, it was concluded that in the next few days, there will be a multi-Vertex attack.
The same pattern as the time Gin had to sacrifice herself.
[Look like it's the final battle~]
[There's nothing to be scared of...We completed our new Hero system training. We also have new weapons and more firepower.]
Sumi says, as if trying to convince herself.
[I will still be using a spear, but you have it rough Wasshii~, with your weapon changing.]
[I've been tinkering around with "Shirogane" for quite a while, so my body got used to it. It's gonna be fine.]
Shirogane, written with the kanji for Gin (銀/Silver), is the name Sumi gave her new weapon. By naming the weapon after her friend, she would pump herself up.
[So, have you decided what we're gonna do until the battle~?]
Taisha allowed the heroes to spend their time as they wished until the next battle, following the last oracle.
[I think, I'll do as usual, go to school, study, talk to everyone, hang out with Sonocchi...]
[I mean, after we defeat the enemy we're just gonna go back to our normal lives.]
[Yep, there's no need to break our rhythm for no reason~]
Even if multiple enemies were coming, Sumi and Sonoko were confident they could drive them away. After the loss of Minowa Gin, the new Hero system was developed with the idea of preventing the heroes from dying. A new addition was the "faeries", said to be clones of the Divine Tree. One for each hero, they're meant to protect them from Vertex attacks.
Furthermore, by using their powers as heroes, energy would build up, allowing them to use a new ability called "Mankai" . It is said that one's strength during Mankai is equal to a God's. By going Mankai many times, they would level up as heroes, or so Sumi and Sonoko were told.
With the protection of the faeries and the power of Mankai, the new Hero system not only had basic power-ups, but came with all these new features. The girls had performed their everyday training to be able to use those powers. That was the basis for their self-confidence.
[We've trained hard every day, we're gonna be fine.]
[Yep, we'll go Mankai and blow the enemy out of the water~]
Even with all the new power-ups, they were still slightly anxious. But the heroes weren't alone. They had each other, and Gin inside their heart. Sumi and Sonoko decided to spend their next few days as always.
[Speaking of which, you didn't have any manga in your room Wasshii~]
[But I did.]
[All you had was war stories of the old era. Those are like textbooks~]
They switched to their everyday conversations.
5 in the morning.
Sumi went to bathe in the well, in the backyard.
[I wonder if Sonocchi's doing the same. No, she definitely wouldn't...I bet she's still asleep.]
She was in a pleasant mood, thinking of her friend so early in the morning. After cleansing her body, she fed the fish she got from the festival and went on a walk to the shrine. The cats on the shrine grounds were energetic as usual.
[Jiroumaru, Saburoumaru, I'm doing my best.]
Sumi called out to the cats by the names she selfishly gave them. They still responded with a meow.
After returning home, Sumi started preparing for breakfast.
[Sumi, you know, you don't have to make breakfast anymore?]
[That won't do. If you switched back to toast my day would be ruined. Rice for breakfast, udon for lunch, botamochi as a snack and rice for dinner. That is my ideal.]
[I promise I'll make something you like. I could even have Taisha send in a traditional restaurant chef.]
[That's some amazing special treatment.]
[Your duty is that important.]
[But, we're not the only ones with a duty. Everyone has their job they're working for. Being treated so special as if we're singlehandedly to thank for this peace...]
[...You are special, you're a Hero chosen by the Shinju-sama. You should feel proud.]
[Ah... Sorry for bringing this up. I'm going now. Put in a lot of meat, Sumi.]
[No can do. You're getting extra vegetables, mom.]
[Why!! It's so good in the morning...]
[You need to eat well and balanced, mom.]
Despite their rank as Washio, Sumi loved the combination of her frank mother and strict father. The two of them combined made a perfectly balanced couple.
[...Still, I get the feeling all the ingredients have been nothing but expensive stuff. This is the first time I see a clam this big.]
[They're for you, from Taisha.]
[Taisha again... Is it really okay?]
Sumi's mother pet her head.
[It's been like that since morning. Was it the same at your house too, Sonocchi?]
[We got a lo~t of stuff. They even said they'll be sending kimonos next~]
[Special treatment, huh...]
Shinju-kan. Class 6-1.
Sumi was chatting with Sonoko next to her. Even after they changed seats, they ended up next to each other. Sonoko hoped she'd be close to Sumi, and it ended up happening. Must be the will of the Shinju-sama.
Sonoko was drowsing off during class. The teacher would send her to stand outside if she spotted her. That sort of education was allowed in the new era, to a certain degree. Sumi subtly shook her awake.
(That was close, thanks Wasshii~)
(Seriously, you never change Sonocchi. As a leader, you should be more careful...)
[Washio-san, what are you whispering about?]
[Next time you'll stand outside.]
(Don't let it get to you, Wasshii~)
(Awawa, your eyes are scary~)
It was time for lunch.
Sumi and Sonoko weren't on cafeteria duty, so they stood in line as usual. Brown sugar buns and zhajiangmian, hijikikKakiage, mini-tomato and orange juice were being served.
Sumi felt a discomfort. Hijiki kakiage is known for being an exquisite side dish, and her plate clearly contained one more than the others. When she looked over at the boy who served her, he gave her a thumbs up.
"I'm not sure about the details, but do your best"
She got his message. He was rooting for her inside his heart. The old Sumi would probably have returned the extra food. But the current her thankfully accepted it.
During lunch break, she and her classmates played by drawing on the blackboard.
[Nogi-san, your drawings are...Surreal...]
Since the time during the school trip, everyone knew that Sonoko's artistic sense was impossible for others to reproduce.
[You can tell they're pretty good, but they're a bit crazy...hmm, Nogi-san, you're the Picasso of Shinju-kan]
[Washio-san is just simply good. What kind of boat is this you're drawing?]
[It's the Second Shoukaku Class aircraft carrier warship, Zuikaku]
[Eh, uuh...I don't really get it but it's good. It looks pretty real]
[I'm trying to draw it as close to reality as possible]
[Wasshii~ draws the body, while I draw the soul~]
The classmates admired Sonoko, as she said something of the sort.
After school, the two headed to the shopping mall, Ines.
This place was the symbol of an everyday life for the two of them. Sumi and Sonoko knew their way around the place after the Ines Master, Gin, had showed them around. Gin had taught them about all kinds of cool spots, such as the arcade machine on the 4th floor where you can play a super long game for only 50 yen, or the place on the 3rd floor community center where you can sit down and relax.
[Wasshii~ what time is it right now?]
[5:20, we still have 10 more minutes.]
They always went to the food court on the first floor past 5:30. At that time, the part-timer shifts would change, and the kind lady in charge would always give them extra. That was not the case on Saturdays though. But rather than worrying about money, the two enjoyed moving according to their battle plan.
Sonoko stopped in front of the 100 Yen shop.
[Look, they have new stuff in the toys corner~]
[The party goods section has been enhanced too~]
A sign read "Please try it for yourself".
[It's autumn, so they must have brought in new stuff in preparation for the pumpkin festival.]
[It's called Halloween, not pumpkin festival~. ah, this top hat would look great on you. You should learn a pigeon magic trick]
[You should put on this sparkly one and dance, Sonocchi.]
They tried them for themselves, just like the sign said.
The food court was filled with students and families.
[Hmm. Soy sauce flavored gelato really doesn't feel right to me.]
[Ahahah, Mino-san is not pleased.]
[Sonocchi, let me have some of your vanilla one.]
[Wa! Wasshii~ took mine~!]
Sumi had already mastered the skill of stealing other people's gelato.
[I have become stronger.]
Sumi nodded to herself.
[Now is my chance, while you're distracted~]
Sonoko swiftly stole the soy sauce gelato from Sumi's hand.
[Uwa~, sundown looks so pretty~]
[I wonder if Vertexes are coming today.]
[Who knows~, maybe they'll come while we're taking a bath~]
[That would be rough.]
Sumi and Sonoko dropped by the seaside park at the end of the day. During the old era, this park was a memorial for the completion of the Seto Grand Bridge. It had a great view of both the Seto Sea and bridge, making it a popular sightseeing spot. It was an everyday sigh for the locals, but it evoked a special feeling in Sonoko and Sumi.
[What's wrong, Sonocchi, all of a sudden?]
[Thank you~. I am so glad I met you guys. I'll be in your care.]
Sumi took a deep breath.
[...I am the one who should be thanking you.]
Sumi's words, like Sonoko's expressed her gratitude towards her friends. They've been through so much together, ever since the first enemy’s attack. None of them would have been able to bear the burden alone.
[I'll be in your care too, Sonocchi.]
A fresh sea breeze blew between the two of them.
And then it stopped.
[....! This is...]
[...They're here~. My watch is frozen.]
Time halted. The enemy was attacking. Shikoku turned into a Jukai by the power of the Divine Tree.
[Still, the Vertexes were slightly more considerate this time around. We were able to enjoy our day.]
[We're in top form too.]
The twilight sky had forestized. The two knew they would be facing multiple enemies. Despite that, their hearts were overflowing with courage.
[Wasshii~, I'm counting on your support.]
[Leave it to me.]
[I would have liked for us to do the back-to-back pose though~]
[I also would have preferred to have you by my side.]
Due to the nature of their weapons, the two had to fight away from each other.
[Take this then, Wasshii~]
Sonoko undid her ribbon and gave it to Sumi.
[Thank you. I'm feeling safer already.]
She grasped her friend's ribbon tightly.
[You can put it on if you want~]
[I'll do it when the fight's over. Praise it if it looks good on me, Sonocchi.]
The attackers are vertex, the natural enemy of mankind.
The defenders are the two heroes chosen by the gods.
Era of the Gods, Year 298.
The renowned "Battle of the Seto Grand Bridge" was about to begin.
Translator's Notes and References
1. ↑ 満開 (Mankai) lit: Full Bloom
2. ↑ The final mention of vertex in this chapter, they were referred to as natural enemy of mankind. That's written 天敵, but the 天 was between quotation marks. The character 天 alone could mean heaven, so the word "天"敵 could mean heavenly/divine enemy, foreshadowing the fact that Vertex were sent in by the gods all along.
3. ↑ The following line, about the defenders, refers to them as 土着, or natives, and puts emphasis on the 土 kanji, which means earth. This puts Shinju = 土 = earth in opposition to Vertex = 天 = sky. Which ties into the heroes being flowers and vertexes being stars thing too.
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