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Gakusen Toshi Asterisk Vol 5 Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 – A Chance Meeting

Compared to the entire redevelopment area, the RotlichtEntertainment district was not that big. It would be no more than around one-fifth of the its size.

However, the main street overflowed with people, and even if subtracting the fact that the Festa was currently being held, the activity there was by no means inferior to that of a first-class site in the commercial area.

Even so, the atmosphere and scenery were completely different.

A passage ran through the spaces between the rows of shops, and skywalks covered the sky. The pillars supporting them were scattered here and there, and order could not be found there at all. Of course, it was only here in Asterisk City that such disorder was permitted.

The shops; ranged from restaurants mainly involving the offering of alcoholic beverages, such as clubs and bars, to illegal stores, such as underground casinos and brothels, and the age-group of people coming and going seemed to be somewhat diverse. Adolescents, who appeared to be around the age of students were also hardly rare, but there was no one wearing a school badge. Since students were normally not allowed to take off their school badges when going outside the academy, assuming those same adolescents were students, it was a violation of the Stella Carta, even if only a small one.

Although the Hunter Guards also patrolled in the RotlichtEntertainment district, students did not seem to be targeted in the cases occuring small violations. It was said that the Hunter Guards were always understaffed, so there would be no end to it if they began to do so. Interactions with illegal stores were also the same, and unless it was exceptionally malignant, there was said to be the form of tacit approval. There was also an assumed connection between the RotlichtEntertainment district and the City Parliament around here, and it was referred to as one of the dark sides of Asterisk.

While muttering to himself, Ayato thought back to the information about the RotlichtEntertainment district which he had gotten from Eishiro.

After consulting Julis and company, and looking at it generally, he came to the conclusion of whether an abandoned building was the most likely as the criminal’s lair. That said, Irene’s guess was also persuasive and he was reluctant to discard it.

So, Ayato had to take charge of the search in the RotlichtEntertainment district for the time being, but ー it was more difficult than he thought.

After all, he did not even know how many shops there were, and he could not willfully break in like Irene said. If he stopped walking, a customer-puller[1] would immediately come, and he could not stop being forcibly brought to a shop more than once or twice. And it was pointless to sneak in secretly when it was overflowing with so many people; in the first place, there were too many shops.

He had tried indirectly asked a customer-puller about Flora, as well, but naturally, he did not get a useful answer.

Meanwhile, time mercilessly ticked away, and it was already late at night. Even so, the main street glowed with a dazzling shine and the hustle and bustle also seemed to be increasing more and more.

According to Eishiro, since the RotlichtEntertainment district during the daytime completely changed as there were very few people, normally, he should wait until that time to continue searching, but Ayato and company, unfortunately, had no time to do so.

“However ー it will take a little time.”

Certainly, in this town, as long as you piled up money, it was probably not too difficult to find people who could provide you a room without even asking the reason.

As Ayato put his thoughts in order, he went ahead to the back alley which entered from the main street.

Still, the abandoned buildings of the redevelopment area whose back alley, where the hustle and bustle of the main street could not be heard, was dead silent; the shops were not standing in a line, and lights which seemed to be from shops gradually stretched out beyond the faint streetlight.

Though unlike the main street, customer-pullers did not come out and there were no signboards either, when seeing the place where some people who seemed to be customers entered, they were probably doing business. Since the people from earlier seemed to be rich judging from their attire, there might possibly be a high class store membership system.

While slowly walking through that back alley, Ayato thought about something.

“If the criminal was really hiding himself in this RotlichtEntertainment district, it would beー”

“…Hey, you there.”

A voice from behind was suddenly was heard by Ayato.

When he looked back, three men with very sharp eyes were glaring at Ayato as if assessing him.

“Errr… what is it?”

The men gave off a dangerous aura, so it was hard to say it was a calm (friendly) atmosphere.

“It’s you, isn’t it? The bastard who for some reason is snooping around this area.”

“You don’t seem to be a dog of the Hunter Guards, but… Bring your mug here a little? We would like you to tell us in detail what you are doing here.”

The men seemed to be underlings of the Mafia managing this RotlichtEntertainment district. He intended to be careful as to not attract suspicion as much as possible, but as expected, he was probably more cautious than usual. Their reaction came much earlier than he expected.

However, Ayato had also covered his face, as Saya and Kirin had, so he would not be as easily found out ー though saying that, he just pulled up the hood of a parka and wore glasses with no degree ー his identity was apparently not exposed yet.

“No, I was just looking for someone…”

While saying that, Ayato quickly gauges the men’s abilities.

Judging from the kneading and movement of Prana, they did not seem to be that strong. Since the Ayato could now freely remove his seal to some extent, he could probably drive them away without too much trouble.

That said, it was not wise to make matters worse here. He could not talk about the reason, either; in the first place, it did not seem that he could make them understand.

In that caseー

“! Hey, wait!”

Ayato immediately changed his course of action, and ran away at full speed.

Though the men’s angry voices resounded from behind, he, naturally, had no intention of waiting.

The problem was whether he should escape to the bright but crowded main street or deeper into the dark back alley.

He did not want to stand out very much, but there was a time when he had been cornered due to his lack of familiarity with the area when he had helped Priscilla near the redevelopment area. So, he would rather slip into the crowd of people.

Thinking allong thoes lines, it was good that Ayato came back to the main street, but he immediately noticed it was a mistake.

This was because people, clad in the same atmosphere as the men of earlier, were keeping a watchful eye, here and there, on the main street.

“It’s bad” he thought; there was sign of men approaching from behind. He could not backtrack.

However, if he went in the main street as is, it would be just a matter of time for him to be found.

(What do I do…?)

After a moment’s hesitation, the moment Ayato was going to step forward.

“ーHey, you. Are you perhaps pursued?”

A small voice suddenly struck Ayato’s ears.

Within the traffic jam and the hustle and bustle, a voice so quiet that it would not be strange if he failed to hear it.

However, that voice seized Ayato’s consciousness just like magic and led his eyes to the owner of the voice.

“Since you are in trouble, shall I help you?”

A little bit in front of Ayato, a girl, who was leaned back on a pillar that was supporting a corridor, said that, smiling with only her mouth.

Ayato could not see her face because she was wearing a large hat that hid her eyes, but she seemed to be approximately the same age as him. Her chestnut hair was casually tied up in a bundle and she wore a somewhat loose blouse with jeans. She had an overall plain impression; if she did not call out to him, Ayato would have passed by without noticing her presence and it would probably not remain in his memory, either.

“Um… Have we met somewhere before?”

He felt like he had heard that voice somewhere and gave a question in response.

“Eh–? I think it’s probably our first meeting though… More importantly, if you are too carefree, those behind you will catch up.”

As he looked back startled by the girl’s words, the men from earlier were already a short distance away from him.

He did not know who this girl was. It was also likely to be some kind of trap.

But, Ayato strangely felt that there was no lie in these words of the girl.

It was not by reason, but by intuition.

“ーUnderstood. Can you help me?”

“OK. Then, come on, this way, this way!”

Then, the girl took Ayato’s hand and ran off the back alley in the opposite side.

The men who noticed it raised their voices and chased them, but the girl, gave it no mind, and advanced while turning to the left, and then towards the thin alley at his right. She seemed to be quite familiar with this neighborhood.

“…”

While the girl ran in the alley, she was humming something in a low voice.

Um… Have we met somewhere before?

He did not understand what she was saying as it was in too quiet of a voice, but it seemed to be a song.

At that moment, Ayato noticed that Mana was rustling around the girl.

(Don’t tell me this girl, is she a Strega…?)

The men’s presence became more distant, and their voices steadily got lower, too.

At the same time, the townscape suddenly changed, and before he noticed, their surroundings had become, for the most part, abandoned buildings which were about to collapse.

The girl was running fast and her hand which held Ayato’s was surprisingly soft. Since her Prana was too quiet, he did notice at first, but this girl being a Strega meant, she was a Starpulse Generation, as well. Judging from her age, she was probably a student of some academy.

Because she was not even showing signs of being out of breath even after running for a while now, one could understand that she was well-trained.

However, he could not predict her ability because she concealed it well.

“Phew… Now that we come so far, it will be all right for the time being, I guess.”

After they had finally arrived at a little open space surrounded by abandoned buildings, the girl turned back and floated a small smile.

“Thank you. You really helped me out.”

Ayato would probably have been unable to get through this by himself.

“Fufufu… So, why were you chased by those guys? Did you rip off someone or some shop?”

“No, it isn’t something like that, but… it’s nothing.”

At least, the girl did not seem to be an enemy, but he could not also afford to carelessly speak about his circumstances.

As he spoke ambiguously, the girl nodded as she guessed it.

“Hmm, I see. Then, it’s all right even if you don’t want to talk about it.”

She said, as she sat on a suitable piece of scrap wood.

“However, if you intend to go back, it would be better to wait for a while. Since this place is quite distant from the RotlichtEntertainment district, those guys probably won’t chase us up to here, but it’s kind of edgy now and I think that those guys also haven’t given up yet.”

“It’s kind of edgy?”

“We’re right in the middle of the Festa now, so the Hunter Guard crackdown is much more severe than usual. Also, the Mafia guys who control the RotlichtEntertainment district seemed to have increased their number of patrols and are more cautious than usual.”

“I see…”

During the time the Festa was being held, people thronged to Asterisk from all over the world. It was probably inevitable that the number of people showing up in this RotlichtEntertainment district would also increase. In that case, no matter how common the state of connivance was in the RotlichtEntertainment district, it was also necessary for the Hunter Guards to increase their manpower and control to some extent.

However, the unsuitable circumstances would make it more difficult for the criminal to hide himself. Though it was also so for the reinforcement of control, people who wanted to take on something troublesome during such a time would probably be few.

(It isn’t the RotlichtEntertainment district after all…?)

If so, then he should give up and look for other places as soon as possible. He could not afford to waste time here.

It was also not as if there was no more room of hesitation, butー

“Thank you for everything. If possible, I would like to do something to show my gratitude, but I’m somewhat running out of time now.”

“It’s all right, it’s all right, I don’t really mind ー Amagiri Ayato-kun.”

“!”

“Oh, what an amazing reaction speed. As expected of a finalist of the current tournament.”

As Ayato promptly took a distance, the girl clapped her hands in admiration.

“But, it kind of a shock when you brace yourself so much.”

“…Why do you know my name?”

As Ayato cautiously asked, the girl exaggeratedly shrugged her shoulders.

“You intended to disguise yourself, right? But, like that, you will be found out at first glance. If you intend to hide it, then you have to change your atmosphere more. You’re also already a celebrity, so shouldn’t you try a little harder?”

“Eh…?”

Certainly, he had not cared about it that much, but was it so obvious?

“Just to make things clear, but it isn’t really because you’re the rank #1 of the Seidoukan Academy that I helped you.”

“But, then why…?”

“It’s natural to help people in trouble, right?”

At Ayato’s question, the girl answered as if it was a matter of course.

“Well, when you can afford it, that’s. Besides you didn’t look like a bad person.”

The girl’s words were frank, and it did not seem like she was telling lies.

“…Sorry. Even though you help me.”

Thus, Ayato honestly apologized for his impoliteness.

“Hahaha, you’re a good person, eh. Yes, I don’t reallyー”

But, the girl suddenly stopped speaking and turned her head to the direction where they had come from.

Ayato also noticed a moment later.

Someone was coming their way.

“Good grief, to think that you would escape to here… I’m also used to running after people.”

Languidly said a man who appeared, the moonlight illuminating half of his body.

With an unshaven face and dark skin, his age was probably around 30. At least, he was probably not a student. He had a rough attire of cargo pants and T-shirt, but the activation body of Lux on his belt was tied in bunches.

“So, is it you? The bastard who was sneakily searching. They say that you seem to be looking for someone, but since our men are concerned about it. I will have you come with me.”

Ambition could not be felt at all in his dark, sluggish eyes, but his carriage had something particular only to someone who had piled up training. He was quite the master.

“Crap… I didn’t think that you would chase us so far.”

The girl looked up at the sky and held down her face from the top of the hat.

“I’ve my expenses, you see. So I’ve to work a little hard to earn money. Well, in saying that, I’ve to thank you for having made work for me… Hmm?”

As the man stopped, he opened his somewhat droopy eyes wide. During the hesition, a slimy, cold and fiendish shine wriggled.

“What… I heard that the opponent was a man, but I see there’s also a woman. This is a pleasant miscalculation, eh. I suddenly feel motivated.”

While floating a vulgar smile, the man activated his Lux. Poised in both hands, a knife with oversized serrated blade seemed to lick its chops.

“Well then, I was asked to catch you and bring you in… But you may resist to your heart’s content. After all, it will be boring otherwise.”

“Wait a minute. She has nothing to do with it.”

The man’s eyes were obviously directed at the girl. Since it turned out like this, Ayato had no choice but directly speak with the Mafia member and clear the misunderstanding.

“Hmm, I think it’s useless. He’s the type of person who seems to give priority to his hobby over his work, so I don’t think he will quietly overlook us. Isn’t that so? ーFormer World Dragon Seventh Institute rank #7, DoiranTwin SnakesNguyen-san.”

“He~e… young lady, do you know about me? That makes me happy.”

“I didn’t know that a semifinalist of the Lindvolus would be reduced to running errands for the Mafia though.”

As the girl sighed, she slowly stood up.

“What, it’s an old story.”

As the man, Nguyen, said that, the atmosphere of the place became very tense.

It’s bad. Even if he were to fight Nguyen, he could not afford to involve the girl.

The moment he was about to step forward ーin order to get between the two of themー the knife approached Ayato’s chest.

“Kuh!”

Nguyen threw the knife so as to put him in check (restrain him).

Although he dodged it by promptly turning around, the timing, in which the knife was thrown, was terrifying. It might be said that his outset was spoiled.

“Don’t get in the way, boy.”

By the time Ayato fixed his stance, Nguyen had already entered the girl’s range.

“Watch out!”

Nguyen’s knife shone and attacked the girl.

ーBut.

“Hmm, is it only that?”

The girl easily dealt with Nguyen’s onslaught of one-handed blows coming from both sides.

“Whaー!?”

Nguyen’s face was distorted in surprise.

It was also the same for Ayato. Nguyen’s attack was sharp and fast. It was the type of person who focused more in the number of attacks and speed than the power of each blow. Dealing with all of them ーand moreover, completely in the opponent’s rangeー would probably be difficult even for Ayato.

“Ha, Hahahaha! You aren’t bad, young lady! In that case, I’ll also fight seriously…!”

“ーNo, it’s already enough.”

The girl sneaked around to Nguyen’s back as she slipped past his arm.

Her movement looked like it was casual, but it was something which struck the momentary opening as if threading the eye of a needle.

“Tch!”

The girl’s kick was driven in to the solar plexus of Nguyen who hurriedly turned around.

“ー!”

Nguyen, who fainted in agony without even having time to release a sound, was sent flying and crashed into the wall of an abandoned building.

A shock, to such an overpowering extent, ran through it, and innumerable new cracks were carved in that wall… One wondered whether the building would collapse, or not.

“…If you were in your prime, it probably wouldn't have gone so easily.” The girl said somewhat disappointedly while turning towards Nguyen, who couldn't move anymore.

Then she turned immediately towards Ayato.

“Now then… By the way you, are you looking for someone?”

“Eh…?”

“Come on, he said something like that earlier.”

The girl who said so glanced at Nguyen.

“Ah… Well yes.”

“Maybe I can help you, but what do you say?”

“Help me? You?”

As Ayato asked that in response, the girl smiled teasingly and turned her flexible finger upward.

“Yes. But before that… Can we change the place just for a moment?”

- ψ -

The girl lightly climbed the emergency staircase of the abandoned building, which somewhat kept its form.

While following her, Ayato remembered her fight from earlier.

Nguyen was strong. No matter how weak he was in power, if he advanced to the semifinal in the Lindvolus, his strength was the real deal. People powerful enough to defeat him so easily were few in number.

“Okay, we’ve arrived.” As they arrived at the roof, the girl said so and turned around.

It looked like it was the highest building in this area, and the redevelopment area could be overlooked from here.

Overhead, the sky was full of stars. However, the eastern sky was already changing color to deep dark blue. The dawn was near.

“Sorry, even though you’re in a hurry, I’m taking your time.”

“Don’t be. More importantly, I’m really thankful for your help, but I can’t afford to involve you. Not to mention that I’ve already caused you trouble.”

“Hmm…”

At Ayato’s words, the girl nodded in admiration.

“I see. I think that I’m beginning to understand you little by little.”

“Understand me?”

“Yes. Well, for example… You’re a kind person who will think of another person even if you find yourself dragged into a difficult situation. But, at the same time, you will bear the burden yourself, and thus won’t rely too much on others.”

“…”

Since it was almost similar to Julis’ criticism towards Ayato, he was at a loss for words.

“But, the quarterfinal’s match was good. Seeing the combination with Riessfeld-san, I feel like you’ve become a proper tag team.”

“…You observe well.”

That quarterfinal was actually one turning point for Ayato and Julis. But, from an outsider’s perspective, it should not be something which could be understood easily.

“Naturally. Therefore today’s… Ah, no that’s already yesterday, huh. Anyway, I’ve also watched the semifinal’s match properly. That match where you didn’t use Ser-Versta ー No, perhaps couldn’t you use it?”

“…”

In addition, she was also very good at guessing.

“Hahaha, sorry. It was an unnecessary inquiry. Um, well then… Will you tell what kind of person you are looking for?”

“No, butー”

“Rest at ease. It isn’t really as if I will follow you. In short, it’s all right as long as you know where the person you’re looking for is, right?”

As soon as the girl said so, Mana around her rustled.

It slowly gathered as if swirling around her.

“No way… Are you a detection-type Strega?”

He was wondering whether she was a person with ability, but if she really was a Strega with detection type ability, then finding out Flora’s whereabouts would not be impossible.

“It isn’t a detection type, but… Well, I can do something similar. And information is necessary to make an image.”

“Understood. I’m looking for a 10-year-old girl. Her name is Flora.”

“I want to confirm, just in case, but it isn’t as if she is lost, right?”

“…Yes. She has been kidnapped. The criminal ー I can guess who it is, but I’m still not sure.”

“Hmm, is it good there? So, what about that child’s appearance or personality? Also, it would be good if you have a photo.”

Ayato told to the girl all the information he knew of Flora.

Though, Ayato had just met Flora for about a couple of days. It was not that much, but it could not be said that he knew a lot.

“If you want, I can ask a person who knows her better.”

“No, it’s all right. I think it will do with only this much. Wait for a bit.”

As the girl said that she looked downward, and began to mutter something in a small voice.

Ayato did not fully understand, but since each person had his own method of activating their ability, that was probably her method.

“ーAll right, something like this.”

Before long, the girl clapped her hands, and raised her face.

“But, before that, I want you to promise me only one thing… Is it fine?”

“Promise?”

“To keep it secret, and not talk to anyone about what will happen here, from now on.”

“…Understood. I promise.”

That much was easy to accomplish.

“Thank God. Then, to start, prepare a map. If at all possible, a big one would be best.”

As he was said so, Ayato started his portable terminal.

He changed the space window’s size to the maximum, and displayed the map of the whole redevelopment area.

“Okay, and thenー” Ayato said and raised his gaze, and then unintentionally became speechless.

The girl took off her hat and untied her hair which was brought together.

When she touched a headphone type hair ornament, the color of her hair slowly changed.

From chestnut to vivid purple ー it was exact color of the current dawn sky.

The current subdued and quiet air (atmosphere) was instantly repainted by her gorgeous, overwhelming presence.

Her breathtaking, well-featured looks however soon reminded Ayato of someone.

There were probably no people in this Asterisk… no, perhaps in this world who did not know this girl.

The Supreme Songstress.

The world’s best idol.

Student Council President and rank #1 of Queen Veil Girl’s Academy.

She bared the nickname of SigrdrífaMelodious Witch and was the runner-up of the previous Lindvolus.

“…Sylvia Ryuneheim…” Dumbfounded as he is, Ayato muttered the girl’s name.

As Sylvia smiled at the dumbfounded Ayato, she widely opened both her hands as if spreading wings.

The morning sun which was rising, cast a dazzling light from behind her.

“ーThe two pairs of wings (feathers) of the thought and memory, turn, turn quickly run about, carry the voice of the captive beloved child.”

Completely different from what she did so far, her dignified, powerful voice sang a somewhat sad, folkloric melody.

It was natural that that voice sounded familiar to Ayato.

Even Ayato who did not hold much interest to the trends of the society knew her name, her figure and her singing voice.

“Beyond the sea of clouds of dawn, ride upon the winds of dusk, open the guidance from the end of twilightー”

Beyond the sea of clouds of dawn, ride upon the winds of dusk, open the guidance from the end of twilightー

Sylvia’s singing voice manipulated Mana which was raged like a storm and calmed it.

Sylvia was the most famous songstress and the most famous Strega at the same time in the current modern world. Even the Venomous Witch who had won the Lindvolus twice consecutively could do naught but concede to Sylvia in terms of popularity.

Her Ability ーー omnipotent (versatile).

Strega and Dante originally manifested their ability with a particular image as core. Hence, even those who possessed diversified techniques like Julis could not deviate from the range of the particular image such as “flame” and “flower”.

But, it was said that Sylvia Ryuneheim could change her image to any form by using the “song” as medium. For this reason, it was also possible for her to use the detection type ability like this.

It was similar to the Star Senjutsu, which was the style created in pursuit of versatility, but it might be said that its essence was the exact opposite. It did not become a fixed form (it was not stereotyped), but it had a versatility which was accomplished by fluidizing the image. Sylvia manipulated Mana by singing a song which contained the image ーthere seemed to be a problem pertaining to the strong and weak points of Prana consumption thoughー and could recall all phenomenon.

However, it seemed that the only ability she could not handle was the healing ability, but since that was an ability which could not being standardized even with Star Senjutsu, it might be a fundamentally separate ability.

“Black messenger of thought and memory, fly down before me and quickly show (it) ー”

Before long, as Sylvia finished singing, two black feathers were drifting as they turned on an axis around the map. The two pieces of feathers continued rotating for a while, but the circle they were forming gradually narrowed.

“Hmm, hmm… It’s on the outskirts of the RotlichtEntertainment district, the corner of the north side.”

Sylvia casually spoke.

Though Ayato could not even now believe his own eyes, he immediately pulled himself together. Before his eyes, was an International superstar to whom there were none who did not know her name; and if her ability was the real deal, then it was no time to be surprised.

“Is Flora-chan here?”

“Yes, unless the opponent does take very powerful anti-detection ability measures, there’s no doubt about it. If I have a little more time to knead, I will be able to narrow down the range more, but…”

“No, even just this much is already enough. ーReally, thank you very much.”

Ayato said that as he bowed his head.

Since they were blindly searching until now, it was great progress even just by having been able to narrow down the position. There was little time remaining, but with this, there might still be a little hope.

“Fufufu, I’m glad I could be of help to you. Well then, I will excuse myself. Actually, if I don’t go back already, I will be scolded by my manager.”

Sylvia floated a relieved expression and once again put the hat on her head.

“Ah, wait a moment, Ryuneheim-san!”

There were many things that he wanted to ask her and he also wanted to properly thank her, but anyway, there was no enough time now.

“If it’s fine with you, can you tell me your contact address?”

“Eh…?”

At Ayato’s words, Sylvia looked at Ayato with a blank face (in puzzlement).

Ayato could not understand why Sylvia made such a face, but he soon realized.

“…Ah.”

Though he asked without thinking, the other party was a world renowned singer. There was no way she could tell her contact address at a moment’s notice.

However, after fixedly staring at Ayato’s face, Sylvia burst into laughter as she could no longer endure it.

“…Puff! Hahahahaha! It’s been a while since I was hit-on, straight like that.”

“N-No, it isn’t something like hitting on you…!”

“You can call me Sylvie. All my friends call me that.”

As Sylvia said so, she took out her portable terminal and turned it towards Ayato’s.

Immediately after, her address was sent with a ring-tone.

“It’s my private address, so you can contact it any time. Well, I’m a little busy currently, so I don’t know whether I will be able to go out right away though.”

“Y-Yes…”

Said Sylvia happily to Ayato, who was dumbfounded since it was way too easy.

“To tell you the truth, I been a little interested in you for some time now. By talking directly to you like today, it looks like that interest has gradually become stronger.”

Wearing the hat over her eyes again, she lightly tapped her chest as she passed by Ayato’s side.

“Then do your best, Ayato-kun. Though it doesn’t amount to much, I will also pray for Flora-chan’s safety.”

- ψ -

After parting with Sylvia, Ayato immediately sent the positional data to Julis and the others.

There was a reaction right away, and Julis, Saya, Eishiro and multiple space windows opened.

『"It’s good that you figured it out, but… how did you narrow it down here?"』

“Errr, that’s… sorry, I can’t say.”

Though Julis’ question was natural, I could not break his promise with Sylvia.

『"…Hmm, well it’s fine. I’m interested, but now isn’t time for that."』

『"…Anyway, it’s quite a relief that you were able to narrow down to here."』 Saya chipped in.

『"Right. If it’s around here, I know quite a lot, so I think that I can help."』 Eishiro replied.

Julis nodded, following up with, 『"Okay, if we decided so, then it saves the long talk. Without delay, let’sー"』 and was interrupted…

『"…But, it would be better if Ayato and Julis don’t come."』 Saya said pointedly.

“Eeh?”

『"What did you say?"』

At Saya’s words, Ayato and Julis opened their eyes wide, simultaneously.

『"What on earth do you mean by that? Why is it only us who must be excluded?"』

『"…You have to prepare for the final. You won’t make it in time if you come with us."』

“That’s right, but…”

Certainly, because of the criminal’s demand, they were not allowed to withdraw from the Phoenix.

Though they figured out his position, since it was not as if it was settled that they could surely save Flora, they also understood they had to at least abide there.

Howeverー

『"The final is at noon. There is still time!"』

Unexpectedly, Eishiro supported Saya. 『"No, about this, Sasamiya’s point is correct. If the criminal is really here, we should move with a minimum number of persons. In the first place, if it turns for the worst that you were found by the criminal, an excuse wouldn’t work, right?"』

『"…Besides, no matter how one puts it, it’s reckless to challenge the final as you are. You should rest your body, even a little."』

『"Ugh…!"』 Julis uttered helplessly.

“But…!”

Even they understood the reasoning, it was really frustrating of not being able to do anything after coming so far.

『"Ayato-senpai, Julis-san, it’s all right! We will definitely save Flora-chan!"』 This time was Kirin’s voice.

『"…"』

As expected, if they insisted, Julis can do naught but be silent, as well. After a long silence, she sighed deeply as she gave up. 『"Haah… Understood. Then, we will concentrate on the final."』

“…You’re right.”

Since Saya and company were obviously right, Ayato and Julis could not be selfish any longer than this. They could no persist in their stubbornness.

『"…It’s fine like that. We will save Flora and you will take revenge for us. Like this, everybody will be satisfied."』 As Saya said that, she contentedly nodded.

『"…Ah, Now that you mention it. We were entrusted with that."』

“Honestly, it’s kind of burdensome.” Ayato jokingly gave a wry smile.

Actually, it would be quite tough to win against Ardi and Rimsi without Ser-Versta.

If they did not work out a solid strategy, they were opponents against whom it might be difficult even to put up a good fight.

『"No problem. If we save Flora, you will become able to use Ser-Versta."』

『"Well, if we make it in time, that is."』

『"…Uh-huh."』

Saya stared at Eishiro who bantered.

Seeing all this, Ayato felt like he was losing strength even though he was in good condition.

Each of them went, with all their power, to what they should do.

If so, then what Ayato should do now wasー

References Jump up↑ A shop sponsored salesperson who tries, by any means, to 'pull' in customers from the street.

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