To Be a Power in the Shadows! - Chapter 22[Updated at: 2021-01-11 09:21:35]
Summer is almost here.
Under a sky that at least feels like that, I am energetically swinging my wooden sword. It is now the time period for the afternoon practicals. After having been emancipated from Alexia, I am back in the same group as my ‘good’ friends Hyoro and Jaga.
Due to Zenon-sensei’s scandal, the reputation, and thus number of students, of Royal Capital Bushin Style has taken a sharp nosedive. Thanks to that, the three of us have now been bumped up to Group 7.
“So hey, how did it go with Princess Alexia anyways?”
So asks Hyoro while doing practice swings next to me.
“As I keep repeating, we simply broke up, and that was it.”
Almost got killed in the process though.
“What a waste. You didn’t even get one kiss in?”
“Nope, not one.”
Just like that, we carry on a lackluster conversation while relying on mere momentum to continue our lackluster practice swings. Welcome to Group 7, yea?
It is truly a waste of time, but as such is the Way of the Mob, I have no choice but to quietly play along.
“Oh by the way, it’s almost the season for the Festival of the God of War. Have you two already submitted your applications for the Senbatsu Tournament?”
“Who do you think I am? If I show off a bit at the tournament, then bringing two or three girls home would be a piece of cake.”
So says Hyoro. Keep dreaming, cherry.
“Mufufufu, handling three at the same time might be a bit tough.”
So says Jaga. Keep dreaming, cherry.
“Sid, you didn’t apply yet, right?”
Festival of the God of War refers to a gigantic tournament that is hosted once every two years. Famous swordsmen from both inside and even outside the country all gather together for it. And in the tournament, there’s a bracket for schools. The Senbatsu Tournament is our school’s way to decide who gets to represent us.
(T/N: ‘Senbatsu’ means ‘selection.’ As in, the best is ‘selected’ from among them. I’m gonna just leave the naming as is, cus AKB <3)
Naturally, being the mob that I am, I have zero intention of joining something like that and gathering attention to myself. It’s absolutely unthinkable.
“I helped you submit an application already, so thank m-……!!”
For some reason, Hyoro is suddenly clutching his stomach and fainting away.
“H-, Hyoro-kun! What is wrong all of a sudden!”
It was a extremely fast body blow. The kind that anyone other than me would overlook.
“Oi, oi, Hyoro. Why are you falling over like you just received a left hook that was aimed straight at your stomach?”
So I ask while unclenching my left fist.
“T-, that was strangely specific, Sid-kun.”
“This is no good, he’s completely lost all consciousness. I’m going to carry him to the infirmary, so lend me a hand. Oh right, do you know if it’s possible to cancel my entry to the tournament?”
“No idea. Ah, Hyoro is spewing bubbles.”
After reporting to the teacher that Hyoro had fainted due to a sudden fit, we got permission to leave class to go to the infirmary.
Along the way.
I notice an important-looking group walking around the campus.
“That’s…… oh hey, that’s Princess Iris.”
As an aside, I see Alexia too. The moment our eyes meet, she turns her head to the side with a ‘fun.’
I still haven’t told anyone yet about her going deranged and turning into an indiscriminate slasher. As long as she doesn’t mess with me, I have no intention of telling anyone about that incident on the roof. Mutual non-aggression pact is the word. She can just enjoy slashing random people for all I care. It seems that her skill has been improving as of late, so I suppose it’s not a bad idea to polish her techniques on actual people. As long as it’s not me.
“Oh right, I remember hearing something about Princess Iris having something she needs Midgar Scholar Academy to investigate for her.”
One might not think this when looking at Jaga, but he’s actually quite well-informed. Our Midgar Magic Swordsman Academy is ridiculously huge, and we apparently share our campus with the Midgar Scholar Academy. Over there they do science or research or something. I don’t really know the details.
Right, she did mention the formation of a new squad or something.
Jaga and I watch the group of knights go by, chuck Hyoro into the infirmary, then play hooky for the rest of the class.
Talks are underway in a large reception room with a few people in it.
“I wish to ask you, who is famed throughout the royal capital as the forefront expert in this field, to decipher this artifact.”
The person who says this while holding out a large, pendant-like item is the beautiful red-haired Princess Iris.
“But I am still only a student.”
The person who takes a look at the artifact and then declines is a beautiful pink-haired teenage girl.
“Your research results are well known both inside and outside our country. In this field, there is no one who is ahead of you, Sherry Barnett.”
“This is a good chance. Why not give it a try?”
The person who interrupts Sherry is a middle-aged man.
“Vice Principal Ruslan Barnett……”
“I don’t mind if you call me ‘father’ though.”
Says Ruslan with a laugh.
Sherry only flashes a troubled smile.
“Sherry, you are someone who will eventually fly out into the world as a researcher. This request from Princess Iris could very well be an important stepping stone for your bright future.”
“But someone like me……”
“Sherry, I always say this, do I not? Have more confidence in yourself. This can be done if it’s you. This can be done only by you.”
Ruslan places one hand on Sherry’s slender shoulder.
Sherry accepts the artifact from Iris.
“I see, language of the ancients. And even written in code.”
“It was at one of the facilities of a religious order called the Order of Diabolos. We suspect they were conducting research related to the ancient civilization, but we don’t know the details. We also think that the code is also related to the ancient civilization.”
“Then this is indeed a request suited for me.”
Sherry gazes at the artifact, curiosity already twinkling in her eyes.
“And we also wish to assign some knights to guard the artifact.”
Ruslan reacts to Iris’ words.
“We will be upfront. This artifact is being targeted by the Order of Diabolos even this very moment.”
“That sounds quite dangerous.”
Ruslan’s eyes sharpen.
“This artifact was originally seized from a facility of theirs. Of course, this wasn’t the only thing we seized at the time – there was also a large amount of documents and other items. But to our chagrin, the other day, the facility where we had been safekeeping all those things was torched. The only thing left is that artifact.”
“Ahh, that fire incident. Speaking of which, it was after that incident that Princess Iris established a new knight order, wasn’t it?”
“Indeed. Though it is still quite small in size.”
“If I remember correctly, the name is The Crimson Order? So you are here today under that identity?”
“Yes, I am……”
“That’s how much you can’t trust the existent Knight Order?”
Iris does not answer Ruslan’s sharp-witted question.
She only looks straight at Ruslan without a single change in her expression.
“Fumu, very well. I will grant permission. But for only two.”
“Two…… The safest would be for me to take on the position myself, but……”
Iris displays a conflicted expression on her face.
“If Iris-sama is always out in the field, then there’d be no progress at all with our other work as a knight order.”
The person who says this is the knight with a large build sitting at Iris’ right. Hair like the mane of a lion, and a well-trained body. There’s even a large scar on his face.
“That’s true too, I suppose. Alright then, Glen, this will be your new assignment from now on.”
“Yes ma’am! I shall do my utmost.”
Glen lowers his head.
“Nee-sama, allow me to help out with this.”
So says Alexia from Iris’ left.
“The more people you assign here would mean the fewer people you have investigating the Jet Black Incident.”
Iris remains silent.
“The Crimson Order is still far too short-handed. On top of which, I’ve met him before. There’s no one more suited to this role than me.”
“However, Alexia, you are still……”
“A student? But what does that matter since I have the strength? It was you who said those words, Nee-sama.”
“I said no such thing.”
“You said something similar to it to Sherry-san just now.”
Iris sulks, as Alexia grins with composure.
“You used to be so cute too…..”
So grumbles Iris in a small voice.
“I heard that. Nee-sama, I really want to know. What their aim is. And…… whether they are our enemies or not.”
“But it’s dangerous!”
“I am aware.”
Iris and Alexia gaze at each other for a while.
“Very well. But only to the degree where it does not negatively affect your studies, and only on missions with low chance of danger.”
“Thank you very much.”
Alexia smiles while lowering her head.
“About the artifact, we will leave it in your hands then.”
So says Iris to Sherry with a sigh.