Chapter 3 - School Festival Rhapsody I
——World Dragon Seventh Institute, Yellow Dragon Temple.
“I cannot consent with that!”
In one room, Zhao HuFeng’s enraged voice echoed.
“Why must we form a team with those twins?!”
“Hmm, even if you say that”
While dangling her feet as she sat on the Kamiza of a Burmese rosewood round table decorated with a gorgeous craftsmanship, having warded off HuFeng’s vehement objection was his master Fan XingLu.
The siblings Li ShenYun and Li ShenHua were standing behind her with serious faces.
“HuFeng, do you have any complaints about my selection?”
“I have a lot of complaints!”
“…You have now come to speak quite frankly.”
To HuFeng who affirmed without hesitation, XingLu muttered rather impressed.
Certainly, when HuFeng became a discipline of XingLu, he was too uptight/stiff and there were many cases where he was unable to have his way with his complaints. But, HuFeng had his ability recognized, took the position of unifying the Wood Faction and as he was entrusted the task of XingLu’s secretary at the same time, such uptightness vanished in no time.
As he was made to go along with XingLu’s words and actions beyond unprecedented amounts around the clock, he had no room to be reserved or nervous. Of course, he was paying respect to XingLu as her disciple, but this and that were different stories.
“Well~, I don’t particularly mind it though~”
The woman sitting next to HuFeng —— Cecily Wong broke in.
Her wavy long hair was light brown and she also had well-ordered, yet clear-cut features. In World Dragon where there were many students of the Asia area, this appearance of Cecily was conspicuous; but even though she looked like this, she was the Taoist which unified the Water Faction, XingLu’s disciple N°2, and World Dragon Seventh Institute’s rank #4 with the nickname of . Although she was a person equivalent to senior disciple to HuFeng, their fellowship itself was older and they achieved being the runner-up as tag partners in the last .
“At least when it comes to magic, these guys are already far above me~. Besides, if we make a team, shouldn’t we make a strong one?”
“You are too sketchy, Cecily. It is not a matter of ‘it’s good as long as one is talented’. Besides, with three Taoists… no, fourth people including the Great Master Brother, the balance as team composition will be bad, right?”
Cecily’s character has not changed from those days. She was sketchy and hated troublesome things. She was the type of person to clean a room in one go after it was in disorder rather than regularly tidying it up.
——No, correction. Even in that case, Cecily would left it to someone else without setting her hands on it… or rather in most cases HuFeng was the one undertaking the cleaning.
“Huh?! What, HuFeng. Are you by any chance frustrated that no one was selected from the Wood Faction? I see, I see~, if that’s the case, you should just frankly say it; how cute~”
When Cecily revealed a complacent smile, she clutched HuFeng to her voluptuous chest and stroked his head.
“Wai-! P-Please stop that, Cecily!”
HuFeng turned bright red and struggled in breaking loose from it, but Cecily was physically strong despite being a Taoist.
“It’s all right, it’s all right; you know that Big Sister is properly trained in taijutsu, too, right~?”
“T-That’s true, but I don’t mean that… no, like I said please release me!”
Cecily was by no means a bad person, but HuFeng somewhat disliked this part of hers that treated him like a child.
“As usual, you two get along quite well.”
Though XingLu innocently laughed watching them, at that time the back door opened and a tall male entered the room.
“…I’ve kept you waiting.”
His sharp look, his virile features, his tough body which one could understand was toned even from over his clothes and his carriage without any opening at all let the man wear something like aura giving a feeling of coercion to those who saw him.
“G-Greetings, Great Master Brother…!”
“…It’s fine, sit down.”
The man commanded HuFeng, who hurriedly tried to stand and bow, with only some words.
HuFeng who was overawed by the sharpness of the glint in his eyes could do nothing but sit again as he was about to stand up.
——Woo Xiao Fay.
World Dragon Seventh Institute’s rank #2 with the nickname of . He was XingLu’s best disciple whom she brought along when she appeared in this academy and who surpassed HuFeng in martial arts and Cecily in Star Senjutsu.
But, Xiao Fay usually secluded himself in the depths of the Yellow Dragon Temple and rarely appeared in public. It has been a quite a long time since HuFeng directly met him like this, too. Allegedly, it was said that he was the only one who could serve as XingLu’s training partner, but HuFeng and even Cecily did not know whether it was true.
When that Xiao Fay stood before the round table, he slowly put down the tray he held in hand. On a closer look, there was a set of Chinese tea implement there.
“U-Um… Greast Master Brother?”
HuFeng unintentionally called out to him so, but Xiao Fay stopped him with one hand without giving him a glance. His eyes were focused on the tea implement at hand. Xiao Fay was familiar with it—— but as he poured hot water with careful hands, the tea leaves softly danced inside the glass-made tea implement.
As time of silence passed as is for a while and Xiao Fay, who gave a small nod before long, poured tea into tea cups for the number of people, he quietly distributed them around to HuFeng and company.
Xiao Fay who finished the distribution sat on the seat in front of HuFeng and drank a mouthful of his tea share——
He nodded still expressionless, yet contentedly.
“N-No, no! What are you doing, Great Master Brother?! You should just let somebody else serve tea! Or rather, I’ll do it!”
HuFeng who was taken aback finally came to his senses, drew back his chair and stood up.
“No, but this is also Master’s command…”
As HuFeng sternly turned his gaze, XingLu was drinking the tea, which Xiao Fay served, with a calm face.
“What do you let Great Master Brother do?!”
“The tea that Xiao Fay serves is the most delicious, so I can’t help it.”
Saying so, XingLu joyfully laughed.
“Well, this tea is certainly delicious~”
Cecily sitting next to HuFeng did not seem to mind it much either.
“It’s fine, so you too, stop always complaining and just drink it.”
“Just do it.”
Pressed by XingLu, HuFeng nervously carried the tea to his mouth, too.
At that moment, a mellow fragrance spread inside his mouth. Although HuFeng could not say that he knew much about tea, it was a refreshing taste that he has never tasted so far.
“C-Certainly, this is delicious…”
Xiao Fay who heard these words nodded somewhat proudly.
“Come on you two too, how long do you intend to stay like that?”
Urged by XingLu, ShenYun and ShenHua nervously sat on the seats, too.
Since the twins weren’t much acquainted with Xiao Fay, they were probably dumbfounded, too.
Thinking so, HuFeng felt only just a little sense of familiarity to them.
“Now then, I will announce once again. Among my disciples, I select you five to participate to the next . Don’t disappoint me.”
XingLu’s tone was light in the same way until now, but a peremptory pressure lurked within it.
The fourth people except HuFeng immediately took a stance of Bao Qan with a bow——
“Yes… understood. I do no longer have any complaint.”
HuFeng finally resigned himself, too and took the same stance as the others, slightly late.
“However, Could I at least hear the reason why you add those twins to the team?”
“What, it was just to compensate the team’s weakness.”
“Both HuFeng and Cecily have ability, but somehow you’re too honest. For a team, people who are able to handle the dirty work like them will be necessary, right?”
HuFeng could not but consent after she said so.
HuFeng himself was aware that he tended to like head-on fights and as for Cecily, she had a battle style which began with brute force approach and ended with brute force. It was hard to say that either of them was good at cunning strategy like the twins.
Then, HuFeng noticed the only person who was not mentioned.
“Master. By the way, what about Great Master Brother?”
“Hmm? Yes, he has no problem either way. Do whatever you like.”
“Hohoho, then everyone, you should endeavor in training until the day.”
XingLu who contentedly nodded said that and jumped off her chair in a bouncing way.
“You’re going out… don’t tell me, are you going to get entangled with the usual event again?”
“Yes. The public performance’s day is close. I must also confirm the completion.”
HuFeng intended to implicitly hint “please stop it”, but XingLu pretended not to understand it.
“When you say that event, are you referring to the school festival?”
“That’s right. Really, it’s unheard-of…”
To Cecil’s question like it was somebody else’s problem, HuFeng deeply sighed while holding his head.
One might say that spring was the season of the year where Asterisk’s students were mostly excited.
Of course, many students of Asterisk came here as they dreamt of distinguishing themselves in the , but at the same time those who have given up on it and chose to enjoy their youth were not few in numbers, either. For such students, the school festival held in spring every year was more of an enjoyment than the .
——To Eishiro who emphasized as such, Ayato nodded as he was honestly impressed.
“Heeh… I see. So that’s why it’s so large-scale.”
When looking outside of the window from the classroom, preparations for stages and food stands were advancing here and there on the site even now at lunch break. As the school festival opening would be in two days, it seemed to be in the final stage everywhere.
“They will be whatever one likes such as the lecture meeting where well-known OB will be invited, the presentation of various clubs, confrontation battles with other academies, parades, drama plays and the like. Of course, it’s large-scale since it will continue for three days in all of Asterisk.”
“But if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t this sort of school festival only Japan culture?”
“Yes, at first it seemed to be an event only in Seidoukan, but now all the other schools have completely become familiar with it, too. Besides in Asterisk, along with the , the school festival is one of the major events attracting customers.”
Eishiro was carefully explaining while nibbling melon bread.
Since there weren’t any class changes in Seidoukan Academy, neither classmates nor class teachers changed even though they became second year students. At most, there were only seat changes. Still, Ayato felt a strange connection having Eishiro sitting like this at the seat behind him.
“After all, it’s the only event where all the six academies opened their sites. It’s basically only in this period that people of the general public can enter the academies, so of course it will gather people, right?”
“Which means that not only tourists, but we also can enter other academies, right?”
“Yes. Although, the places that are being opened are only the school site and some buildings; so if you carelessly try to enter somewhere you shouldn’t, this fellow will give you a warning.”
Saying so, Eishiro pointed at the school badge on his chest.
“By the way, pseudo-school badges which have that function are also distributed to the general visitors when they enter the school premises. Therefore during the school Festival, the control of the non-carrying of school badges and the duels became more severe. You should be careful, too.”
“I’ll bear it in mind.”
Regarding that warning, it was announced many times by the academy, too.
“Now then, I guess I’ll go do another task.”
As Eishiro who finished his lunch licked his fingers, he jumped off from the desk where he was sitting.
“Another task now? What will you do for the afternoon class?”
“We’re in the final stage just now. After all, it’s the biggest event ever done since the founding of our club.”
Eishiro was devoted to the school festival’s event as he stayed overnight every day lately.
It was not an event of Seidoukan, too.
During the school festival period, there would also been a festival in Asterisk urban area and various events would be opened there; it seemed that Eishiro’s newspaper club would be responsible for one of them.
Although as for the event itself, the technical system clubs of the three academies Seidoukan/Allekant/World Dragon would take a leading part and advance, and pro-media clubs like that of Eishiro and company seemed to be in charge of the advertising and publicizing.
“Although it’s an off-campus event, a three academies joint event is rare after all. It’ll be quite large scale, so look forward to it.”
“That’s good and all, but can you stop beating around the bush and tell me what you’ll do?”
It seemed to be a participation type event, but Eishiro has not yet revealed the details.
“I’ll leave the fun for until the event’s day.”
“…And it comes from someone who forcibly makes people enter it.”
As Ayato lightly turned a blaming look while smiling wryly, Eishiro distorted his mouth as he broadly grinned.
“Hehehe, about that I’m seriously grateful to you. With the name of the winner among the participants, the event will increase in value with that alone.”
Although Ayato tentatively lent his name as he was begged by Eishiro, he began to worry a little because he did not think that it would become that big a deal.
“But, is it really all right? I also said it before, but I have a prior engagement during the school festival. I can’t absolutely promise that I’ll be able to participate.”
Since he was indebted to Eishiro in various ways, he really wanted to cooperate with him; but his participation would be difficult depending on the situation.
“Can’t you somehow make so that you’ll able to? Hey, please!”
However, Eishiro joined both his hands and bowed his head as he assumed the posture of praying.
Ayato felt slightly uncomfortable as he saw him like that.
“At any rate, you’re quite enthusiastic. Is there any reason for that?”
Eishiro was usually enthusiastic about the newspaper club activities and Ayato also understood that this was a major event, but even so, this enthusiasm of his was not normal.
“Ah, no… to tell you the truth, rather than me, my club president is already extremely enthusiastic about it, you see. In the first place, it’s also her who directly went into the Meteoric Engineering research meeting and has gotten the participation of the newspaper club.”
“When you say president, are you talking about that bob cut?”
Though vague, Ayato recalled having seen her face once over a space window.
“Since president will also graduate in this year, she wants to launch huge fireworks in her last year. So I, her faithful dog, am doing my best like this, too.”
Eishiro tried joking as he said so, but even if he hid it by doing so, one could understand that he was unusually embarrassed.
This was the first time that Ayato saw Eishiro like this.
Perhaps because Ayato guessed his true motives, Eishiro stopped beating around the bush and scratched his head.
“Ah, so it’s something like that. I’m slightly indebted to the president. I’ll have nightmares if I don’t return it… So please, Amagiri!”
“Hmm, even I want to do something about it, but…”
Though he was surprised at Eishiro’s laudable side, he could not fail to keep his promise.
“Rather, what is that prior engagement you’re speaking about? If it’s fine with you, could you tell me…?”
“Ugh…! Errr, that’s, um…”
His prior engagement of school festival was with that diva Sylvia Lyyneheym.
As a thanks for having helping him in rescuing Flora before, for some reason he would have a date with her in the school festival.
But, since she didn’t contact him at all even since the New Year beginning, he has begun to think that maybe it was a joke, but——
『Ah, hello Ayato-kun? It’s about the school festival, but I’m sorry for the late contact. I had a bit of trouble to pick a day off. But I manage to win some vacation days, so let’s have our date in three days, okay?』
Just the other day, he received such a message from the very Sylvia.
…Be that as it may, he could not afford to talk about such a thing to Eishiro.
“A-Anyway, I’ll just try discussing with the person. But, it might be at the very last minute that I can get a confirmation.”
Although he would meet with Sylvia in three days, he has not heard yet up to their date’s small schedule. Or rather, it looked like Sylvia fairly overdid it in order to take some days off, and his call could not get through at all.
Even if there was no problem since he only heard the appointment’s place and time, at this rate he might not be able to contact her until the appointed day.
“OK, that’s enough. I’m expecting a favorable reply as much as possible.”
As Eishiro said so, he suddenly changed the topic as he recalled something.
“By the way, you’ll have a break from your team training during the school festival, right?”
“Ah, yes. It looks like Julis will practice independently though…”
Claudia seemed to have work as the student council president, and it looked like she would run around here and there during the school festival period. On the other hand, Julis, seemingly not having any interest at all in the school festival, said that she would seclude herself in the training room.
“Heeh, she’s a hard-liner, that Princess.”
As Eishiro looked towards Julis as he said so, Julis who was eating bread that she bought, alone at her seat, stole a glance and stared at Eishiro.
“What? Do you have any complaints, Yabuki?”
“N-No, not at all…!”
To the intensity of her stare, Eishiro backed off with a cramp face.
“H-Hey, isn’t the Princess somehow in a bad mood?”
“That’s right. She has been like this all along lately…”
When Ayato and Eishiro brought their faces near to each other, and were exchanging such a conversation in low voices.
Julis snorted with a displeased face and tuned her face away. At the seat next to Julis’s, even Saya was glaring at Ayato with reproachful eyes for some reason. No, her expression was as usual, but the fact that she was angry was transmitted by the atmosphere.
“…Amagiri, do you really have no idea why they are in a bad mood?”
“No, even if you ask me that…”
Then, the bell announcing the lunch break end resounded.
“It’s bad, it’s bad, I was unintentionally absorbed in the talk. Then, I’ll be off.”
“No, like I said, Yabuki! What about the afternoon classes?”
He called out so to Eishiro who headed to the door with casual steps, but the self-proclaimed newspaper club’s ace waved his hand while looking back.
“It’s fine. Afternoon classes are always very boring anyway, so it will make no difference whether I’m here or not.”
But when he was going to leave the classroom, Eishiro bumped into a woman who was just entering.
“Oops, my bad, my bad. I wasn’t looking in front of…”
The face of Eishiro who started to say so turned pale in an instant.
“Oh, I don’t really mind it. More than that, you said something quite interesting, Yabuki. Is my class so boring? Haah?”
Yatsuzaki Kyouko, their homeroom teacher, with a smile still stuck on her face, casually raised the nail bat that she held in hand.
“No, um, that’s, how to put it…! Y-You’re wrong! I-It’s a misunderstanding, Kyouko-chan! You’ll understand if we talk this thro——”
Approximately at the same time as Ayato unintentionally covered his eyes, a very pitiful strike sound resounded through the classroom.
——Seidoukan Academy, Promenade.
The school festival’s first day was blessed with a fine weather and the sunlight filtering through the fresh green canopy was also dazzling.
Perhaps for that reason, the school festival’s success was also considerable and it overflowed with people everywhere. This promenade was fairly detached even in Seidoukan Academy’s site and there should have neither food stands nor stalls around, but even if one sat on a bench and absentmindedly looked around, figures of people coming and going did not die out.
Even so, because it could be regarded as cute compared with the congestion of the area continuing from the front gate to the school buildings group, it might be said that it was still a calmed one.
“——I keep you waiting, Ayato-kun.”
When he raised his gaze as his name was suddenly called, a girl wearing a large hat over her eyes was standing there.
“No, you’re on time. More importantly, I’m surprised you know well such a place, Sylvie.”
Having designed this bench as the meeting place was the girl ——Sylvia.
It would not be strange if she was a student of Seidoukan, but it was slightly surprising that Sylvia who commuted to Queen Veil knew such a remote place.
“I have come to play here at the time of school festival several times after all. As expected, it will be scary to meet in front the main gate.”
Sylvia lightly shrugged her shoulders as she said so.
Certainly Sylvia was exceptionally good at erasing all trace of presence, but even so the possibility of her identity being exposed was not zero.
“Actually, I wanted to be smartly dressed a little more, but… as expected it’ll be bad to stand out too much.”
Sylvia almost had the same appearance of jeans and blouse that she had when they first met.
“No, I think that it looks good enough on you.”
Sylvia, when appearing on TV, was either generally dressed up, or in Queen Veil’s uniform. Of course, he thought that such outfits looked good on her, but such simple attire also fitted well with Sylvia’s carefree and cheerful personality.
Then, after Sylvia blinked with a slightly surprised face, she slightly loosened her cheeks.
“Hmm… you said it plainly. But thank you. It makes me quite happy.”
Then, she bent her body and suddenly drew her face closer.
“Ho-we-ver! I think yours is a little problem.”
“Eh? W-What is?”
His heart throbbed as Sylvia’s beautiful face drew close.
“Your outfit. Certainly, it’s me who said that Ayato-kun should also disguise himself, but with that, you look rather too suspicious.”
“I-Is that so…?”
There was no doubt that Ayato who was the winner was now a celebrity. Moreover, if he were to walk with Sylvia, Ayato would certainly need to disguise himself so that he would not be recognized at first glance, too.
Therefore although cliché, he chose an outfit of hat and sunglasses so that he could not be exposed at all, but looked like it was ineffective.
“Even when we met before, you weren’t heavily dressed up; but today’s outfit is outrageous.”
The evaluation of Sylvia who frowned with both her hands on her waists was unexpectedly severe.
“Well, I’m glad I make preparations expecting that something like this might happen.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. Just sit down, Ayato-kun.”
Sylvia took off Ayato’s hat and swept his hair all back. Then, she took out something like a thin hair band from her bag and put it on Ayato’s head.
“Errr, what was that just now?”
“It’s the same as the headband that I use. Though for a short time, it can change one’s hair color. Well more exactly, it only shows as if your hair color changed.”
I see, there also existed such a convenient item.
“And I’ll complete it by replacing your sunglasses with lensless glasses. ——look, what do you think?”
When he looked into the compact which Sylvia has held out, his face whose impression completely changed was reflected.
No matter what he had to say first, that his hair turned blond was probably the biggest change.
The lensless glasses also had a much more fashionable design than the ones he used for his disguise, and the hair band could not be seen as it was concealed in his hair.
With this, the risk of his identity being exposed completely disappeared.
“All right, since our preparations are complete, shall we begin our date?”
When Sylvia said so, she took Ayato’s arm and made him stand up.
“…Understood. I shall accompany you, my lady.”
“I want you not to accompany, but to properly escort me though.”
Sylvia smoothly linked arms with Ayato and looked at his face with upturned eyes.
He was completely led by her pace.
“Ugh… I-I’ll do my best.”
“Good. Well then first, could you show me around in this Seidoukan Academy?”
At her request, Ayato unintentionally titled his head to the side.
“That’s fine with me, but… are you all right with not watching things such stage or event?”
“Hmm… if there’s something I have in mind, I guess it’s all right to observe it a little. I feel like I want to see various things, but my objective is all academies conquest after all.”
While walking along the promenade towards the school buildings, Sylvia eagerly told so as she strongly clenched her fist.
“Wait, do you intend to go around all the six academies?”
“Of course I’m not saying I’ll do it all today. But, it’s for that reason that I got a break for three days after all.”
In that case, it meant that they must visit at least one other academy other than this Seidoukan today.
Since it was still forenoon, there was probably no problem time wise; but if it was that schedule, certainly they could not afford to leisurely enjoy divertissement.
“But, if there is an event or something that Ayato-kun wants to see, I don’t mind you giving priority to it.”
“Ah, then there is an event which I was requested to participate in by a friend, so may I show up there?”
“Ah, are you perhaps talking about this?”
When Ayato told so, Sylvia skillfully operated her portable terminal with one hand and opened a space window.
A quite showy site where “Great Shock! Grand Coliseum” was written on top was displayed there. The date was the school festival’s last day and the place was Sirius Dome. But in the columns of the contents, only “Participation Type Field Simulation Battle!” was written; nothing was written about what kind of event it was.
“Look, there is Ayato-kun’s name here.”
“…Wow, this is written with quite big characters.”
Ahead of where Sylvia pointed at, was written “ Champion Amagiri Ayato’s participation!” in a big way at the top of the guest entry list.
“Since it became the hot topic on the net, I was a little interested in it. Ayato-kun, you aren’t the kind of person to participate in things like this, right?”
“Well, yes. But I have a friend who is among the organizer of this event you see. I couldn’t just turn him down; or rather I was forced to participate…”
“I see, so that’s it.”
Sylvia closed the space window while saying so. They were just at the end of the promenade; it was probably because the number of people around increased at a stretch.
This area was the back of the middle school building; they could not go inside the school building, but food stands lined up in a row as they surrounded the school building group.
“But since I had a prior engagement with Sylvie, if it seems impossible, then I will decline it.”