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“Hmm…” As Ayato woke up, from the ring tone coming out of his portable terminal, it was already past 10:00 A.M. Usually, even when he had nothing to do, he woke up in time for early morning training but, as expected, it seemed fatigue had recently accumulated. “At any rate… Why did I have such an old dream again?” He muttered while scratching his droggy head. He also happened to have a dream of his childhood before but this traced back further than that –– it was an old dream from nearly ten years ago. “Oops, more importantly…” As he picked up the portable terminal, which kept ringing. It was from Julis. He glanced to the opposite side of the room Eishiro, who was sprawling supinely on the bed still wandering within his dreams. Ayato adjusted the volume and opened the window space since it would be bad to wake him up. Julis, who was projected, said somewhat apologetically. 『"What. Are you perhaps still sleeping? If so… I apologize for having woken you up."』 “Ah, it’s fine, it’s fine. I overslept, a little, so don’t worry about it. More importantly. What’s the matter?” Since the strategy meeting for the quarterfinal was in the afternoon, there was still some time to spare. 『"Yeah. The truth is… Flora was saying that she wants to call you down for lunch. Apparently, she absolutely wants to ask you something."』 “Flora-chan?” 『"Of course. It’s if you are all right with it…"』 “No. I don’t really mind.” He wondered what on earth she wanted to ask him. 『"I see. Then, though bad, can we meet at the commercial area? However, the congestion around the main street is terrible. Well, another place would be good, but… unfortunately, I am still ignorant of the neighborhood."』 “Oh. –– I see.” Certainly since the neighborhood was usually crowded with people, with the Festa now in session, it was easy to imagine that it would become even more crowded. “Even if you say that, I’m not also that much familiar with it…” Since his after school and days off were spent on training with Julis and the others anyway, he had hardly gone out to play in the town even though it was already two months since he came to Asterisk. Although after the Phoenix started, the chances to do so increased as such, he was basically just going back and forth between the dome and the school. ––Then. “*yawn*… what, are you looking for a shop?” Eishiro, who was squirmingly getting up from the bed, spoke while rubbing the area around his eyes. “Ah, yes. Something like that. Since it would be crowded anywhere at this time, we were talking about what we should do.” “Hmm… Then. Let me recommend you this. It’s a date with the princess… Isn’t it?” 『"D-Date!? I- I- I- I- Idiot! Don’t misunderstand!"』 Julis shouted over the window space as her face turned bright red but Eishiro, not minding it, picked up his portable terminal at his bedside. “Look. It’s right here. Since it’s also pretty far away from the subway station, near the border with the outer edge residential district, there are also few tourists. It’s a little-known spot where the atmosphere and food aren't too bad. Maybe because of the nature of the place; The students of Queen Veil usually use it a lot, but since it’s now summer vacation, it wouldn't be very crowded.” As he saw the information about the shop sent by Eishiro; The atmosphere certainly looked good. –– What’s more… It was a so-called Café which looked like a good place to receive girls. “He~e. As expected of Yabuki. You even know such a place.” “Well. There is that. If it’s information, extensively handling it regardless of the field, it's the motto of our club after all.” Eishiro, who said so, proudly laughed. “So, what do you think, Julis? Shall we meet there?” 『"Y-Yeah… All right. I somehow don’t like it, since it’s a recommendation from Eishiro, but well it doesn't seem too bad."』 As he sent the data he received from Eishiro. Julis also seemed to find it not altogether bad. “Okay, then, it’s decided.” Eventually deciding to meet in this shop in two hours, Ayato cut the communication. “Thank you. Yabuki. You really helped me.” “Oh. it’s fine.” Eishiro, still sitting on bed, turned a meaningful look towards Ayato. “It would not hurt to keep making you owe me after all.” “…I pray that it won’t be costly.” Ayato replied to it with a wry smile and started preparations to go out.
“Hmm…?” As he quickly prepared his outfit and left the dorm, on the way leading to the front gate, he caught sight of familiar faces, which were walking side by side. As the other side also noticed Ayato, one of them –– Kirin came running up in trot. Looking at her training wear dressed figure, she might have been in the middle of some kind of road work. “Good morning, Ayato-senpai. Are you going out?” Kirin bowed her head with a somewhat bashful expression. “Yes, that’s right, but, here’s rather an unusual combination.” “Oh. Really?” The other person, –– Claudia, ran up slightly behind Kirin. She put her hand on her cheek with a smile just like usual and slightly inclined her head to the side. Apart from times like when everyone was together… He had no memory of having seen just those two together before. “Since I just met Toudou-san over there I gave her a little advice.” “Some advice?” “Yes. –– About Ogre Luxes.” Claudia turned her gaze over to Kirin, as to confirm, and continued after a brief nod. “It seems that, by Mr. Toudou Kouichirou’s intention, she was prevented to use an Ogre Lux before, but as you know, she is now a free woman. I was wondering whether she might give it a try if she wishes.” “Oh…” Indeed. Certainly, if Kirin were to use an Ogre Lux, one could easily imagine that she would become even much stronger than now. After all, she had reached the seat of rank #1 with just a Nihontou. Ayato felt the win was because he was able to use a non-standard maneuver, that worked to her disadvantage (because he had used an irregular move), and to be frank, he had no confidence at all that he could win again. “But…” “Yes, I’m glad about the president’s proposal, but… I’m not really good at all with anything other than a Nihontou.” Kirin shook her head apologetically. “There is the fact that I’m attached to this Senbakiri and also that ‘Conjoined Cranes’ is a technique, which can only be executed with a Nihontou…” “Oh. That’s also true. The type is particularly tight in the Toudou style, after all.” Even if one possessed an Ogre Lux, no matter how powerful it was, there would be no meaning if the user was not able to skillfully master it. Just the fact of getting accustomed to using a weapon also implied that one had sufficient advantage. “In this way, also, I somewhat have difficulty with Ser-Versta’s size.” Ayato admitted. “Fufufu, it’s just me saying this, but I think that it’s because Ayato has not yet mastered Ser-Versta well.” Claudia said playfully. “Eh?” To Claudia’s words, Ayato unintentionally widened his eyes. “Originally Ser-Versta never had a fixed size. When perfectly controlled it ought to naturally take the most suitable form and size for its master.” “I-Is that so…” Ayato cast his gaze to Ser-Versta which was sheathed in the holder of his waist. It seemed like he had not yet been acknowledged by this rebellious child. “Since Ayato seems to be not very good at finely controlling prana… The problem might be in there.” “Hmm. I see…” In fact, since it was one of the areas in which he was not very good, he did not make any excuse. “Oh. We stray from the subject. About the matter of Toudou-san using an Ogre Lux, what would you do if there was a Nihontou-type Ogre Lux?” “E-Eh. Is there such an Ogre Lux?” Kirin said. Surprised that it was even possible. Claudia shook her head regretfully. “No, at present, there’s none among those owned by Seidokan. The closest one would be Ser-Versta but…” For reference there was no doubt that Ser-Versta was single-edged and its shape was close to that of a long sword. Be that as it may. “N-No. It’s already Ayato-Senpai’s and it’s not something that I can really handle…!” Kirin hurriedly waved both her hands. “Are there only just few Nihontou-type Ogre Luxes after all?” “That’s right. In the first place, the ability and shape of an Ogre Lux significantly depends on the particular idiosyncrasies of the Ulm mana dite used as the core. Even if you want to make such an Ogre Lux it doesn’t mean that such a thing is possible.” “It‘s inconvenient.” Kirin frankly said. Claudia smiled wryly as if troubled. “Well, since they are so powerful, we can’t say that it’s luxurious. ––but actually, recently, a new Ulm mana dite seems to have become at the disposal of the Research Institute of Galaxy in the Development Department.” “Does it look like a Nihontou-type can be made?” Claudia nodded to Ayato’s words. “I have heard that it's possible. How it will actually be even I don’t know, when or how it will be shaped as an Ogre Lux, but… Supposing the case that it happens so, I would by all means like you to try it out.” “Y-Yes!” Kirin bowed as she was thankful. “But, you seem quite eager, Claudia.” “It’s my job to exert myself for you, the students that belong to Seidoukan, and have you leave behind better results in the Festa after all.” “I guess student council presidents don’t have it easy…” Even though Claudia herself was a Page One in the rankings. Unless she had a very firm resolution, that she had to endeavor in order to make other students strong, she would not be able to keep on. There, Ayato suddenly realized a certain thing. “Speaking of which… Have Kirin-chan and Claudia happened to fight against each other?” “Eh?” “Ah?” To Ayato’s words, Kirin and Claudia looked at each other. Come to think of it… Kirin was ex-rank #1 and Claudia is still the rank #2. It would be not be strange even if they had happened to cross swords at least once in the past. “N-No, no, we haven’t fought.” However. Kirin also hurriedly denied it. “Well. Mr. Kouichirou had been wary of me after all. So, it couldn’t be helped.” Claudia admitted. “…In the first place… President hasn’t fought, in matches and duels over the past year, didn’t she?” “Yes. It's already been a while. I hope that I haven’t become less capable.” As Kirin asked as to confirm… Claudia laughed merrily. “Aside from duels, but even matches…?” Come to think of it, he had a hunch that, Julis had also said such a thing before. But, it meant that it had not been nominated even in the official ranking matches. According to the rules of Seidoukan, the nomination from a low rank could not be refused. Since Claudia was rank #2, almost any up-and-coming students should be able to nominate her. And yet, she had not participated in matches for one year, which meant––. “Has Ayato-senpai ever watched the president’s match videos?” “Eh? No, I haven’t, but…” “Then, I think that, you’ll immediately understand the reason once you watch them. Just the fact that no one dares to challenge president shows how strong she is.” Kirin said with a serious face. “It’s not me that everyone is afraid of, but, rather this child.” Claudia said so and stroked the Ogre Lux activation body hung on her waist. The Ogre Lux Pan-Dora, which Claudia owned, possessed the exceptional ability of future foresight but only in exchange of a cruel price. Certainly those daring to challenge such an opponent, who could perform a complete prediction on their movements, would be few but the fact that there was none was somewhat abnormal. “To tell the truth… I have also happened to assume a fight with president. But… I wasn’t able to come up with an image of victory.” “Oh my, how humble!” Claudia looked at Kirin with a wry smile. “No. It’s truth. Besides… The president is ranked higher than me in the Poem's Mead (Odolelilu).” “That is a selfish evaluation by external people. You can't take it as reference.” Claudia stated firmly. As Yabuki was saying, it seemed that Claudia did not trust the unofficial ranking very much. “But––” “…Phew” To Kirin, adamant to the bitter end, Claudia continued speaking after a small sigh. “Then. –– Was Toudou-san defeated by me in that assumption?” “T-That’s …” To Kirin, who stammered, Claudia continued further. “Yes, there wasn't any image of you losing, right? However much I can foresee the future, it has no meaning if I can’t deal with it. Toudou-san would, at the least, be far above me in the area of speed. There is no telling what would happen.” In other words, from Claudia’s estimation, it would mean that the two people’s power, including their ability, were almost equal (on par with each other). “…Oh. I’m sorry. It looks like we chat a little too much.” As Claudia clapped her hands, she bowed her head towards Ayato and Kirin. “Well then… I shall excuse myself. Both of you please do your best in the quarter-finals tomorrow. I'm counting on you.” “Ah, yes, see you later.” While looking at the back of Claudia, who was leaving, Kirin muttered in a small voice. “…What the president said is correct. There was also no image of me losing.” Within Kirin’s pupils flowed her pride and conviction as a swordswomen. “But, it can’t help that, the image of the president was guessed from the data of the match. President has once lost as a team in the last Gryps, but even there, president herself had not demonstrated all her might. That’s why… Nobody has ever seen president fight seriously.” “A serious Claudia, eh…” Ayato remembered of when he was attacked by Claudia the other day. Since she was also in trance  back then, he could not call it “serious”. “––Ah, which reminds me, wasn’t Ayato-senpai on his way to go out?” “Ah. That’s right…!” As he checked the time… It appeared that he no longer had the time to take it easy. “Sorry. Kirin-chan. I have to go now.” “Yes. Take care.” Ayato waved his hand to Kirin and hastily headed towards the main gate.
“Phew… It was very delicious!” Flora, who neatly ate up the omurice  said with a big smile. “Ah, geez… look, you have ketchup there.” “Mmgh…” Julis, sitting next to her, wiped around Flora’s mouth. It looked as if they were real sisters and was quite heartwarming. The café, Eishiro introduced them to, was in the alley which went off from one side of the main street. With a black calm appearance it was a shop which seemed to pass by unnoticed if one was not careful –– and yet once a person recognized it they would be so charmed by the shop's wonderful atmosphere. The inside was brighter than expected, and a classic tone was flowing at a subtle level. As there weren't many seats, counting the table seats and counter seats, there were probably around twenty seats. Ayato, Julis and Flora were sitting at one of those table seats. “But well, it sure is a store with good tastes and atmosphere. It’s vexing, but I must admit that Yabuki’s information is accurate” “You should tell him so. He’ll be glad to hear it” Both Ayato and Julis already finished their meal, and an after meal coffee was placed in front of the two people. “That won’t happen. Since it’s not once or twice that I had suffered from troubles because of him. The offset balance is still far away.” "Humph". Said Julis while she turned her head the other way. Although improved recently, the basic thought process in regards to Julis’ human relations was a “give and take”. In other words; it meant that Eishiro’s debt was still big. “So –– what did you want to ask. While chuckling as such to Julis, "Flora-chan?” Ayato urged Flora to talk about what she wanted to ask. “Y-Yes! Please. Wait a minute…!” As Flora explored her pochette, for a bit, she then took out a lovely notebook. Flora was in maid figure today, too, but there were small articles of design, which suited her very well. “There it is! Errr. You know…” Flora’s hand, which was fluently turning over that notebook, suddenly stopped. “Hmm?” As she raised her glance, wondering, Flora’s eyes were turned towards the neighboring table. “Thank you for waiting. Here is the specially made Fruit Parfait.” A waiter, who tightly and stylishly wore his uniform, had put a huge Parfait in the neighboring table. It was decorated with multicolored fruits, indeed the kind of dessert which girls liked. Even the girls appearing to be students of Queen Veil, who were sitting in the neighboring table, had raised a delightful shrill voice. “What? Do you also want to eat that?” “…Yes.” To the amazed Julis… Flora nodded slightly embarrassed. “Well. I don’t really mind.” “Yay! Thank you very much!” Julis raised her hand and called the waiter over and ordered a new Parfait. Julis was gently gazing at Flora, who brightened her eyes to the Parfait which had been presented quickly, with a big smile. As she noticed Ayato’s look… Julis turned around and glared at Ayato with sharp eyes. “…What are you looking so hard at?” “Ah, No––” Ayato hesitated to speak for an instant, but since it was not really something for which to hide, he frankly continued. “I was thinking that you’re unexpectedly good at handling children.” “Is it surprising?” “A little.” Since he knew well that Julis had a rather severe character, not only towards others, but also towards herself, he honestly couldn't deny feeling a little uncomfortable. “––Well. It can’t be helped. It’s rare for those children to be spoiled by people. It’s impossible for the Sisters considering their position, and it’s normal for children of Flora’s age to take care of those younger than themselves. That’s why I had decided, as much as it’s possible for me, to spoil them as much as possible. After all, they are all like my cute little sisters.” Julis said. Julis gently stroked Flora’s head. (An older sister spoiling her little sisters. Huh, come to think of it, Nee-san was also very gentle to me.) As he suddenly remembered his big sister Ayato felt a sharp pain running through his chest. It was also the same when he was with the Urzaiz sisters, but it seemed that for some reason, he was becoming strangely sentimental recently. “Besides. This kind of sweetness is quite rare in the orphanage. So it isn’t bad once in a while. Is it?” “Ah, but, but, the Sisters said that since princess recently began supporting us financially, it has become considerably better!” Flora said. This time with cream stuck around her mouth. “He~e. So you are sending money to them. Huh.” “I-It’s not that really big a deal. It is the special reward of being a Page One. I have no other way to use it anyway.” When one became a Page One, let alone the exemption of tuition, a certain monthly reward was provided by the academy. Ayato was also surprised, seeing that specification, but it was actually an excessive amount of money for a student. It was enough to make the ranking competition become fierce. “Princess. Princess.” This time Flora was pulling Julis’ sleeve. “? What’s the matter?” “Please, say ‘aah’, Princess.” As Flora said so, and held out the spoon, Julis again smiled wryly and opened her mouth. “Teehee!” Flora moved there while contentedly laughing “…Hmm. I see… Yes, this is, delicious.” “Yes! The tongue seems to melt away!” That behavior seemed quite natural. Habitually sharing like this was probably normal for Julis and Flora. Moreover, the size of this parfait was not a quantity that Flora could finish eating alone, it might be just right to share it at least between both of them. As he was appreciating that scene, while thinking of such things, Flora suddenly turned to face Ayato. “Oh, that’s right! While we are it, you can also have it, Amagiri-sama!” “Wha!?” “Eh? Can I also have some?” “Of course! Both Princess and Sister always said that delicious things, when sharing with everyone, would taste more delicious! Right. Princess?” As Flora innocently said so, for some reason Julis’ face turned bright red and, she looked downward. “N-No. Th-that might be so, b-but, that spoon, just now I…” Apparently, Julis was mumbling-ly saying something in a low voice, but Flora bent herself forward over the table and held out the spoon towards Ayato. “Then. Yes! Amagiri-sama, say also, ‘aah’.” “…Aah” As Ayato also smiled wryly and, reluctantly, opened his mouth, the fluffy sweet taste soon spread in his mouth. “––Yes. It’s true. This is very delicious.” “Yes!” The acidity of the thick cream and fruit harmonized, with the right balance, so one could eat it as many as he liked. Because the quality of both the meal and desert were highly comparable one could understand why this place was really popular with girls. “Thank you. Flora-chan.” “Teehee!” As Ayato gave his thanks Flora, seeming happy, was bashful. “…” On the other hand, Julis was staring at this with an indescribable and complex expression while her face was still reflecting bright red. “U-Um, Julis, what’s the matter?” “E-Eeih! It’s nothing! More importantly, Flora, what about what you wanted to ask? Finish up quickly with it!” Julis said as she urged her. “Yes” Flora, with the spoon in her mouth, started turning over again the earlier notebook. Ayato thought that Flora had rather good manners for her age, because she worked in the palace, but there were occasions where one could catch a glimpse of her mischievous side. This was likely an element from Julis. Probably. “Haah… Geez, finally the main topic, huh.” Julis said as she got too tired to wait. She then reached out to her coffee. “Um, which was it again first of all… Ah, this is it!” Flora turned around to Ayato and falteringly read the notebook aloud. “Well then. First question: Err… 'How far has the relationship between Amagiri-sama and Princess progressed?'” “Bufu!?” Julis strongly choked on the coffee she was drinking. Just after that she said. “W- W- Wh- Wh-What is that question!!” Julis, who spontaneously stood up and shouted, but… She immediately sat down again as the other customers’ looks were concentrating on her. She then drew near Flora with a very low voice. “…That question. It’s not something you thought of… Right?” “Yes. His Majesty said "I wanted you to check these about the young boy… Who might become my future brother-in-law."” “Geez. Big Brother…!” Flames of anger burned, flaring up to Julis’ pupils, as she reached for the notebook. “Flora. Show me that for a moment. What kind of other questions are written there?” “Ah. I can’t! His Majesty asked me to keep it secret from Princess since she would get angry if she were to find out…!” As she took the notebook back from Julis that she had taken, Flora bowed quickly in a bouncing way. ––Still. What on earth kind of person is Julis’ older brother anyway? Ayato wondered. “The secret, or whatever, has already been exposed!” Julis revealed. “…Oops! T-That’s right!” As she just noticed now… Flora put her hand on her mouth with a surprised expression “Anyway, I will seize this.” “N-No! Since it’s a work that I was assigned… Please let me do it properly until it's done!” “No.” ––While Julis and Flora were clamoring like that. “U-Um… Sorry to disturb you while you are in the middle of a conversation. Can I have your attention for a bit…?” One girl timidly accosted Ayato and company. “Oh, Sorry for being so noisy…” Ayato was sure that it was an employee, who came to warn them, but looking properly, it seemed that this wasn't the case. It was clearly a student. “U-Um… You’re Amagiri Ayato-san. Right?” “Yes. Is something the matter…?” “I’m sorry, but, would you come with me for a moment?” “Eh…?” As Ayato was perplexed at the sudden proposal, Julis and Flora had also halted their small dispute, and looked at the girl with a questioning gaze. “Ah. S-sorry. It’s a bit late but my name is Kashimaru Corona. I act as the secretary for the student council president.” As the girl, dressed in a uniform of Le Wolfe hastily bowed her head, persisted on in this manner. “And um –– the president is waiting.”
“President. You say…?” Julis’ expression stiffened, for a moment, and an insecure light dwelled in her eyes. “What kind of business does the