Saturday, June 1, 2019

Alderamin on the Sky Volume 7 (1 of 7)

Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro

It felt like she had taken a long detour. As the dark sky slowly brightens, the petite girl with vermillion hair who was holding a rope started to think so.

「── Are we there yet?」

「Sorry, just a while more! We will reach soon!」

The girl frown suspiciously when she got the exact same answer as thirty minutes ago── when they set out from the village at the mid way point, the sky was completely dark. They just need to walk the remaining ten km or so to reach their destination. She was expecting to arrive before dawn.

However, the soldiers leading the way made excuse like 「the road condition ain’t good」, 「there are reports of bandits」, and would make strange detours at every crossroads, resulting in them reaching far later than scheduled. The girl was growing suspicious.


She closed her eyes and referred to the map in her mind── After setting off from the Igsem manor, the girl had memorized the surrounding terrain. Thanks to that, even after making several detours, the girl could still grasp her own location. This was an extraordinary sense of spatial awareness for an eight year old child.

In conclusion, since an hour ago, they didn’t get any closer or farther from their destination, and was just going in circles meaninglessly, making no intention of heading towards their goal. It was hard for the girl to understand── was there any point in going the long way for no reason?

「Could it be, I’m not welcomed?」

The girl asked forthrightly. At first, she suspect they were just making things hard for her. As someone from another faction intruding on them as an exchange student, it was understandable that they would bully her. The military was very united, but on the other hand, they were harsh on outsiders── that was what her father taught her.

「Huh?──No!」「Absolutely not!」

The soldiers shook their heads in a panic at her question, and seem to be sincere. The girl didn’t recall being treated coldly by the soldiers either. Instead, they had taken care to make her feel comfortable since they first set out.

They weren’t looking down on her just because she was a child. The girl’s background and appearance, as well as her demeanour wouldn’t allow it. She had an aura about her despite her young age. A mature young child── this wasn’t enough to describe the infallible dignity of an Igsem.

「Ah── l-let’s head left here! We will really reach soon!」

Following behind the soldiers, the girl turned left at the cross junction ahead. She confirmed with the map in her mind that they were finally moving towards their destination. They were supposed to enter from the west, but after making a large detour, they would enter from the east instead…

After walking for about ten minutes with their backs to the sun, when they were about to reach── the girl suddenly saw a strange sight.


A bridge was erected over the road. Whether this description made sense aside, she couldn’t find another way to explain it. A beautiful arc shaped structure was built over the ten metres road, or maybe it was the frame of a strange gate── if they continue walking, they would cross under it.

Feeling something was amiss, the girl walked closer, and found a large group had gathered under the arc gate. Some people in white clothes were also bustling around in the military attired crowd. They seem to be performing some work at either ends of the arc gate.

「Hey── who are they?」

The girl asked the soldiers walking ahead. Their uniform plain clothing reminded her of Aldera pilgrims, but the atmosphere around them was different. She didn’t think that arc gate was a religious structure either. She tilted her head bafflingly in the face of the 「existence」 she couldn’t explain with her knowledge.

「They are from our Regiment, their preparations should be done…」

The leading soldier sneaking peeks at the rising sun behind them answered. 「Preparations?」 Right after the girl asked that, the soldiers suddenly stop and shouted in a loud voice:

「Hey~! We are here!」「Is this spot okay~?」

They were about 30 m away from the arc gate, and the soldiers were confirming something from the group under the arc gate. An energetic came quickly: 「It’s fine!」

What was going to happen── as the girl was about to ask, the three soldiers raised their right arm and pointed to the space above the arc gate:

「Here, please enjoy the view.」

The soldiers said with a smile. She was filled with doubt, the girl still looked at the direction they pointed, at the clear blue sky on the other side of the arc gate── and everything happened at that moment.

Water sprouts toward the blue sky from all over the arc gate with a clear swish. There seemed to be some sort of mechanism at the sprouts, which made the water spread out in a mist. The countless water droplets reflected the sunlight, and was shimmering in the girl’s eyes──

「─ Ah─」

She opened her crimson eyes wide as she stared at the strange mechanism, and the next moment, her eyes were drawn to the sky in front of her.

Without any warning── another bridge was formed in the sky. Red, orange, yellow, green── the bridge was made up of many overlapping colours, drawing a beautiful curve above the arc gate sprouting water.

A rainbow in the blue sky. She always thought it was a whimsical scene from nature.

Yatorishino Igsem witnessed for the first time── the science of rainbows.


Drawn by their light, she quietly spurred her horse forth to go under that bridge── the curiosity in her heart made her tighten her grip on her reins.

She had never seen a rainbow from right beneath it, or heard anyone who had done so. But if it was now, and it was the rainbow made by that arc gate, then going there would be the same as going through the rainbow──

As the girl moved forth with an expectant heart── the rainbow suddenly faded away before her eyes.

「── Ah!」

When she pulled her gaze away from the sky that had lost its colourful luster, she was near the crowd around the arc gate. She looked disappointed, and asked the group in uniform and white clothes on reflex:

「Is it gone?」

The first thing the vermillion haired girl said wasn’t a formal greeting or self introduction, but a simple question. She was probably under the charm of the rainbow── At this moment, a dark haired boy about the girl’s age walked out of the crowd. He wasn’t fazed by the water from the arc gate falling on him, and shook his head with a big smile.

「No, it’s not gone. You just can’t see it from here, try going back.」


She was baffled, but the girl still did as she told, pulling the reins to make the horse back away. And── the scene that disappeared returned into sight. The multi coloured bridge across the side appeared at the same place unblemished.

「── What’s going……」

「What’s going on here? Is that what you want to know?」

The boy’s smile suddenly turned mischievous, and said it before she did. The girl nodded forthrightly.

「That question is your gateway. If you want to know the answer, then come on over here.」

The boy beckoned her with a wave. Shaking away her short hesitation, the girl jumped off her mount, and walked under the arc gate with her own feet. The water rained down on her── as she felt the cool sensation on her cheeks, the boy and the people in white clothes yelled at the same time:

「「「「「「Welcome to the world of science!」」」」」」

The group in white clothes welcomed her, which puzzled the girl. As if he saw through what she was thinking, a man in military uniform said loudly from outside the wall of people:

「Ah~ sorry for scaring you. This is our way of welcoming guests.」

That man walked forth from the crowd, and the girl’s first impression on him was that of a tired middle aged man. He wasn’t tall or short, and his body tone was very average. His jaw was wide and prominent, his pupils seemed smaller than average, and the corner of his eyes were drooping made him look as if he was pretending to be retarded.

His appearance didn’t command much respect, but the girl didn’t overlook the rank on the man’s uniform because of the atmosphere. She straightened her back and saluted:

「I am Yatorishino Igsem, who has the fortune of coming to the Imperial All Territories Stronghold for an exchange study. You must be the Regimental Commander, General Bada. I apologize for my late arrival 」

「No, we are the ones who made you take the long way around to accommodate us. One of the water sprouts malfunctioned this morning, and we needed some time to repair it. Fortunately, things turned out well. My son was panicking right til the end.」

「I didn’t panic! …I was just a little anxious.」

「Even though your underwear is completely drenched? ──Sigh, let’s leave that for later. The journey here is far, it must have been hard for you, Yatorishino.」

Bada said gently as if he was welcoming his own daughter, and then cast his gaze behind:

「And, welcome to the 『Rising Sun Regiment』. Including my son, many of us are looking forward to your visit. They might be a little noisy, but I will be glad if you can accommodate them without getting too annoyed by their antics.」

Bada Sankrei said with a big smile. Just like that boy, his smile seemed mischievous.

「On top of that, this might sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet── in terms of places for kids to visit, we are probably the army that is the most fun in the world.」

Chapter 1: The Daily Lives of the Rising Sun

A saber in the right arm, and a short sword in the left. Two figures holding wooden swords with differing lengths faced each other.

It was clear from their weapons that the two of them were from the same martial sect, but their body sizes were too different to describe them as mirror images.

On one side was a middle aged man over 6 feet tall, his toned muscles giving off the intimidating aura of steel; and opposite him── was a girl younger than ten.


The two of them maintained a distance where they could hit the opponent by taking one stride forward, and evade by taking a step back. The morning sun shining through a tall window illuminate them. Their fiery red hair showed that their relationship wasn’t just confined to their swordsmanship style.

They seemed to be still, but beneath the surface, they were going through an intense tactical battle. The shift in their gaze, the adjustment to their center of balance, and the change in their stances── observing the feints from reality, and finding the right moves by accumulating experiences. The two of them interacted in silence, practicing the 「martial arts」 that had been honed through centuries.

That was why the disadvantage of the girl was so obvious. For those who practice martial arts, it was hard to overcome the experience of one’s elder. The overwhelming difference in physical built widen the gulf even more── However……


Despite all that, the crimson eyes of the girl wasn’t tainted with the slightest thoughts of giving up. She was here to win, and holding her swords to defeat the opponent before her── even if her foe was known to be the strongest creature on the face of the earth.

In that instant── the light shone into that man’s eyes. The sun rising, the window and the man’s face were connected by a single line, and the rays from the sky scorched his vision mercilessly.


The girl used this chance to close in on her opponent, and switch her footing nimbly from left to right. She thrust her short sword in place of her saber, to parry the slash coming at her shoulder.

The short sword blocked the blow, and the power behind the strike made her wrist creak. The girl twists her entire body to defuse the impact that was too much for her growing body. When the burden on her wrist was gone, the girl knew her plan worked. The strike at the right feet by the man didn’t hit her as she had switched her stance.

The girl was now in front of the man’s right feet, and was right inside of his guard.


The girl went on the offensive immediately. She stretched out the joints of her body that was bent to block the previous blow, and aimed the saber in her right hand at the opponent’s right flank in an upward slash. The wide chested man didn’t swing his saber at the opponent right before him, and it would be difficult for him to parry the short sword coming right at him.

The man didn’t flinch── and used his armpit to clamp down on the girl’s deadly counter.


The girl opened her eyes wide in surprise. Her simultaneous thrust attack was dodged by him too. The slash that should have cut through her opponent’s chest was trapped by tight muscles.

The girl immediately made the decision to let go of her saber, but before that happens, the man’s short sword was already on her neck.

「… I concede.」

She said with a sigh. With the match decided, the man quietly put his blades away.

「── Attacking when the chance arises is a good idea, but that makes it easy for others to read your movements. Before going for the kill, you should add at least one other step.」


「You were doing well before closing in, especially the stance change and use of the sun was praiseworthy. Continue working hard and improve.」

Solvenares Igsem offered simple feedbacks as he looked at his daughter. Reaffirming how much better her father was once again, Yatorishino perked herself up.

The morning training ending with a spur between parent and child was a routine── but today, Solvenares didn’t leave after that.

「…? What’s the matter, Father?」

The puzzled Yatorishino asked, and after thinking about it quietly for a few seconds, he spoke again:

「Someone has invited you for an exchange study. It will last for about three months.」
<TL: 遊学>

When she heard a term not in her vocabulary, the vermillion haired girl was baffled.

「Sorry father. What is an exchange study?」

「To leave here and head elsewhere to study.」

「So a transfer to another posting?」

Solvenares nodded at his daughter’s description. As her education had prioritized military terms, Yatorishino’s vocabulary was very unbalanced right now.

「There’s no problem with interpreting it that way.」

「I understand. I will go anywhere as per my orders.」

His daughter answered with a salute, but the father’s face turned gloomy. Yatorishino felt this was a strange reaction, it was rare seeing her father look troubled.

「This isn’t an order. They want to know your opinion.」


「That means, you can go if you want to, I won’t force you.」

Solvenares said in a tone he wasn’t used to, and Yatorishino was baffled too. For their family that followed the traditional military lifestyle, 「you can go if you want to」 was as foreign to her as another language.

Seeing that the vermillion haired girl was dumbstruck, the father realized he didn’t provide enough information, and continued:

「The destination is the Independent Imperial All Territories Stronghold garrisoned in the Amibara province to the east, also known as the 『Rising Sun Regiment』.」

When she heard that name, Yatorishino opened her eyes wide on reflex:

「That elite unit commanded by General Bada Sankrei?」

「That’s right. The invitation is from the General himself.」

The additional information surprised the girl even more. At this moment, her father asked again:

「Well then, what do you think?」

「I want to go on this exchange study, of course.」

Yatorishino answered clearly. She didn’t know how this invitation came about, but she understood that this was a great opportunity for her to learn. Since this came from her father, there was no point doubting about ulterior motives.

「I heard they are at the forefront of military technology, so there must be a lot of things I can learn.」

「You are right, however…」

The man was hesitant to speak. Those who knew how he normally acts could tell that this wasn’t like him at all. Yatorishino was getting confused, but her father noticed that and shook his head lightly:

「… No, since you are willing, then the matter is decided. Your visit will be three weeks at the soonest, so go over there and learn well.」

Solvenares turned and left after saying that. As he was about to exit the dojo, with one foot in the corridor, he said one last time:

「However, no matter what you learn, do not forget that you are an Igsem.」

To be frank, Yatorishino didn’t understand why her father said that at the end. Just like the children of a lion would also be a lion, she knew that she was born as an Igsem. She believed that deeply.

However── In that afternoon after reaching the 「Rising Sun Regiment」 base, she quickly understood why her father felt troubled.

「……General Sankrei.」

「Just call me Uncle Bada. What is it, Yatorishino-chan?」

She felt uneasy about the way he addressed her, and the way he wanted to be addressed, but the vermillion haired girl set all that aside for now and asked while looking up.

「What are they doing?」

A inflated air bag was floating in the sky, and a dark haired boy was hanging on a rope tied to it. Ten or so men and women in white clothes stood below the airbag, and the boy was waving at them about five metres above the ground.

「I’m sending my son off to fly.」

Bada answered nonchalantly. After hesitating for a moment, Yatorishino said cautiously:

「From what I can tell, that ball thing look very similar to the balloon used by Kioka.」

「You are really knowledgeable. That’s right, the principles are the same.」

「In that case── I remember that the laws of the Empire prohibits the production and use of balloons.」

The fact that something illegal was happening before her troubled the girl. The man with the highest rank in the Imperial military crossed his arms seriously and clear his throat.

「Let me give you a lesson here. Well~ in military terms, a 『Balloon』 is an airbag filled with Dynamic Air and a basket to carry people.」

「That’s what I heard.」

「However, the airbag in front of us only have my son who is at his rebellious age on it, the crucial basket to carry people isn’t there. Don’t you think calling this half baked thing a balloon will make people mad?」


Yatorishino furrowed her brows. At this moment, the boy was making all sorts of pose to entertain the crowd, but she didn’t pay attention as she was too engrossed with this topic.

「Hence, that is not a balloon. Something that is not a balloon floating in the air isn’t illegal. So my son can fly safely in the air. Yup.」

As she looked at Bada looking up to the sky with a smile, pretending to not know, the girl pressed her temple and fell into deep thought. She felt she shouldn’t accept that explanation, but she was only eight and didn’t understand this concept of cheating known as 「sophistry」.

「Do you want to give it a try?」


「Try it out. Even someone as outstanding as you won’t have any experience flying in the sky, right?」

Bada pointed at his son and said with a smile. Yatorishino quickly answered:

「If that is an order, I will give it a try.」

The girl stared at the boy floating in mid air and answered without any fear. when he heard that, Bada smacked his forehead with a bitter smile:

「── I see~ Yup, you really are Sol’s daughter.」

「What do you mean?」

「I have underestimated Sol’s education. It’s nothing, don’t mind me.」

As the two of them spoke, the boy hanging from the floating airbag was pulled down to the ground by men in white standing by at the side. After his safety harness was removed, he ran straight towards Yatorishino and Bada.

「Hmmp! How’s that, isn’t it amazing? We only flew this high this time, but we can go higher if we want to. We can even go above the clouds!」

The excited boy ran on and on── Yatorishino then gave a serious salute to Ikuta Sankrei who was about her age.

「You have shown me a truly rare sight. I have a question about this.」

「Hmm, what? Ask away!」

「That balloon… No, that transport vehicle, what is it designed for? Can you tell me how to use this in a practical way?」

Yatorishino was here to literally learn, so she asked a serious question. The boy said 「wait」, then ran back to the men in white:

「I want to ask! What is 『Floating-kun number seven』 used for?」

「Hmm? It can do many things.」「You can get the high ground no matter where you go, so it can be used for military sentry or reconnaissance.」「No, that didn’t get approved because of pressure from the church.」「I don’t think we can deploy this for battle in the Empire.」「Why not put it to commercial use?」「Like sending supplies far away?」「No. It can’t carry enough load, so the cost to value ratio is too high.」「It will be easier to make maps by looking down from the sky.」「You know that maps are military secrets, right?」「That seems so boring~」「Isn’t there a happier way of using it?」

With that one question as a catalyst, the men and women in white started their debate. The boy also joined in, and it ended after a few minutes. This time, he and everyone else ran to Yatorishino.

「We have discussed, but it’s hard to come to a conclusion. What do you think?」

The vermillion haired girl didn’t expect to be questioned, and open her eyes wide. They all looked very serious, and influenced by the mood, Yatorishino answered after giving it some thought.

「… For example, transporting supplies to places with different altitude?」

「「「「「「「That’s it!」」」」」」」

Everyone clapped their hands at the same time, and the noisy discussion started again around the girl:

「Vertical transportation is a blind spot.」「If we don’t ferry people, we can fudge it with the church.」「It will be necessary for mountainous regions.」「You want to market it to the Shinnack?」「I just went there recently, what a pity.」「If we want to do that, we would have to get permission from the Northern Territory Stronghold.」「Let’s market it to that Stronghold too, and promote it for mountain warfare preparations.」「Didn’t I just tell you we can’t use it for military purposes?」「Their commander is an idiot anyway.」「Why don’t we sell military supplies to both sides?」「I know, but that’s just fraud.」

Scientist expressed their views in a heated discussion. Overwhelmed by the atmosphere, Yatorishino asked them a simple question:

「… Could it be, that you are making something without deciding on its use first?」

「To them, the uses aren’t important, what’s important is what they want to make, and what they can learn from that.」

Bada who was standing beside shrugged. The group in white showed brilliant smile:

「That’s right, after all, we are──」「「「「Scientists!」」」」

They announced proudly as one. As she looked at the happy group, Yatorishino felt even more confused.

After observing 「Floating-kun number seven」 outdoors, Bada left for the moment, leaving Yatorishino and the others who headed for the Science Laboratory. Over there, she faced the abnormality mixed into the military organization── the study known as 「Science」.

「Ohh! You are! That rumoured! Guest right! Well! Met!」

An energetic old man in white clothes stood inside with his back straight, with two other young Scientist who were busy shaking a pot sealed with a cover. There were the sloshing sound of water and sound of hard objects banging loudly inside. The pot seemed really heavy, and the three of them looked exhausted.

「I am! Anarai Khan! A representative! Of the Scientists! Just call me! Professor Anarai!」

「I’m Yatorishino Igsem. Nice to meet you, Professor Anarai.」

The vermillion haired girl saluted. At this moment, Anarai put down the pot.

「Huff! Puff… I-Ikuta, switch with me~」

「Yes, leave it to me!」

Ikuta took over Anarai’s place,  and started shaking the pot with the other two person. He had to use all his might because of the difference in stature, but the boy still took on this important task with everything he got.

「What is that?」

Unable to tell the meaning behind this job, Yatorishino asked on reflex. Taking a seat in one of the folding chair laid out by his disciples, Anarai wiped the sweat from his brows and answered:

「Well. Egg yolk, milk, sugar and a little bit of cinnamon── We put about a litre of this in a container, then placed it into the pot along with salted ice water.」

Yatorishino tried imagining that, but didn’t understand what that meant. Why were they cooling down this mixture of milk? If they want to drink iced milk, they could just add ice cubes to the milk. There was no need to do all this.

The girl wanted to ask further, but stopped herself. Because there was a more fundamental question in her mind.

「Professor, can I ask something?」

「You have another question huh. Don’t worry, ask away── Oh, sorry, can you shake that a little further away?」

Ikuta’s group who was making clunking noise with the pot moved further into the room. After glancing their way, Yatorishino asked:

「Then I won’t hold back── what is science?」

When he heard this direct question, Anarai placed his hands on his knees with a faint smile:

「Do you know the principle behind making rainbows?」

「No. That rainbow earlier surprised me.」

「Yes. I was the same in the past. When I was a child, the colourful bridge in the sky would always seem incredible to me. I tried running to the end of the rainbow more than once. And of course, I never succeeded.

After doing that repeatedly, just watching couldn’t satisfy me anymore. I want to know how, and why the rainbows appear── if it was you, what would you do?」

「First, I will ask the adults around me.」

「Smart. But what if the adults couldn’t answer?」

The old man continued with a gentle voice. After thinking for a moment, the girl answered:

「… I will find a chance to ask a priest.」

「I did that too.」

A nostalgic wry smile appeared on Anarai’s face, and he grunted.

「The priest I asked was someone great at preaching in the streets, respected by the people and held a high rank. He would lecture me whenever I met him, and to me back then, he was a difficult person to deal with.

Anyway, that man was the most knowledgeable person I knew. With his broad knowledge of the Aldera religion, he was the best suited to enlighten me. However──」

The old man stopped here and sighed:

「── If I obtained an answer then, things would be simple. But in response to my question, the priest answered with a smile: 『Rainbows are a blessing from god. When god feels at peace, He will show His love through this manner』.」

Anarai looked at Yatorishino with eyes filled with wisdom:

「Can you accept this explanation?」

The vermillion haired girl thought for a moment, then shook her head clearly:

「It feels like… he avoided the question with that answer.」

「You are able to articulate the place that seemed wrong, you are smarter than I was back then.」

After laughing softly in self mockery, Anarai cast his gaze to the ceiling:

「I couldn’t do it during my childhood. I couldn’t accept the priest’s answer back then, but I couldn’t point out what the problem was. And of course, I still gave my rebuttal. According to my experiences back then, rainbows usually appear after it rains, with the sun behind me. Somethings, on the outside of a clear rainbow, there would be another set of vague rainbow. I also found some other clues and things in common, and told the priests everything. I already made preparations in my own way before I asked him the question.

But after that priest heard everything I said, he said again confidently, 『all this is the way god show us his love』.」

The old man’s fists on his knees started quivering, and the frustration he felt back then appeared clearly on his mind again:

「I couldn’t take it anymore and finally shouted──『Then bring that god guy here!』」

His hoarse voice reverberated in the room. Realizing that he had lost his composure, the old sage tried to cover it up by clearing his throat, while Yatorishino asked nervously:

「… What happened after you shouted that?」

「I was given a beating. When my parents heard about it, they sent me to bed without dinner as punishment.」

Anarai stuck his tongue out to conclude his tale, and the girl chuckled softly.

「In the end, I learned through this incident── that the most infuriating thing was the priest use the phrase 『work of god』 as the perfect explanation. That guy seems capable of everything, and can solve any problem given to him. Be it the sun rising from the east, the moon setting from the sky, the couple next door quarreling everyday, just saying it’s the work of god and it will all be settled. I’m so moved that I’m in tears.」

The old man pressed the inside corners of his eyes and said in a low voice.

「But… What’s the point of doing that?」


「Everything is the work of god, that is a great explanation. But what happens after that? Since you can’t bring the all crucial god over, then isn’t that another way of saying 『I don’t know anything』? If we accept this and stop thinking, what kind of answer can we get? How can we ever create that rainbow!?

When I realized my frustration towards theology, I set a condition for myself. I won’t use god as the reason of explaining any phenomenon── Simply put, 『it’s unsightly to depend on god』. And this is the incident that directly led to the development of 『science』 in my heart.」

He got up from his chair slowly, and surveyed his disciples walking around the room.

「We scientists will challenge all the mysteries in this world. We won’t depend on the all encompassing answer that god did it, and will use every means possible to seek the truth. We might develop many technology during the process, but in the end, these are only by products, a stepping stones towards the next truth. Outsiders are free to use these technology as they wish.

The eyes of the scientists will only be fixated on 『truth』. This never ending research is our only desire! That’s how me and those guys, the 『Disciples of Anarai』 live ourselves──Uwah?」

「Hey, you are in the way, Professor! It’s cramp here, don’t spread out your arms!」

One of the scientist carrying research materials shoved his teacher’s shoulder aside and walked passed him. When his signature line got interrupted, the old sage looked at her moodily:

「Hey Nazuna… I just got to the coolest part…」

「Yes yes yes. Professor, the more cool you think you are, the more likely you will ignore your audience. It’s the same this time too. Have you considered her age before speaking?」

The woman named Nazuna didn’t hesitate in lecturing her teacher who was much older than her. Anarai snapped out of his thoughts and looked back to his conversation partner. The vermillion haired girl shook her head, telling him that it was fine:

「… There are some terms I didn’t understand, but I get the gist of what you are saying. I might misunderstand some parts, but the study of science── are deliberate attempts to analyze and explain phenomenons that are dismissed by theology as 『works of god』, correct?」

Yatorishino cautiously measured her words, and expressed the definition of science in her own simple words. The scientists around her all stared with their eyes wide:

「I’m impressed… This child is really bright.」

「Hmm, that surprised me.」

While they were talking, the trio who had moved deep into the room came back. They carefully lowered the pot onto the floor with their last bit of strength, and collapsed onto the ground.

「Huff~Puff~… I think, it’s almost done…」

「Ohh, thank you for your hard work. But Bajin, you are panting too hard.」

「Don’t complain after dropping out halfway! I shook this for more than 30 minutes!」

「Bajin-nii, you haven’t change your habit of making strange faces when you get tired? It feels yucky whenever I see it.」

「Ikuta, even you are saying that? I will cry, you know?」

The dark haired boy teased his senior as he took off the rope and wax paper around the pot cover. The ice in the pot were about 60% melted, and a steel bucket far smaller than the pot were floating in the salt water. Ikuta lift up the bucket with both hands:

「… Hmm, I don’t feel anything moving inside. This should be…」

The boy opened the catch on the lid, grabbed onto the edge of the bucket and pulled hard. The cover then opened with a pop, and the interior of the bucker was unveiled to Yatorishino watching from the side. Curiously, there weren’t any liquid inside, and in its place, some sort of milky white substance covered the inner walls of the bucket.

「It turned out great! Come, get the plate and spoon! Quick, quick!」

Nazuna took out the utensils from the kitchen cabinet as requested. Ikuta took the proffered plate, and used the spoon to scoop the milky white substance onto the plate.

「And it’s done! Here, you try it first!」

Ikuta offered her the small plate and a spoon with a bright smile. Yatorishino took them, and then stared at the curious object on the plate.

「This is… some sort of iced dessert?」

「Instead of asking, it will faster to eat it. Have a taste!」

The boy urged her again, and she made up her mind, stabbing the spoon into the pile of milky white substance. It felt slightly more vicious than congee, and she easily scooped up one mouthful.

「… I’m digging in.」

Under the watchful eyes of the scientists, Yatorishino finally sent the goo into her mouth. The unique icy sensation of the dessert spread from the top of her mouth── and the next instant, an incredible sweetness melted on her tensely waiting tongue.


An impact she had never felt before ravaged, the girl’s oral cavity. The aroma of milk and cinnamon spread in her nose. After the strong sweetness melted completely away, she felt a refreshing and loving carass slip down her throat.


The vermillion haired girl couldn’t make any sound for quite a while. She had never imagined that eating something could invoke such a strong emotion within her.

After taking a long time to savor her first bite completely, she quietly turned her eyes back onto the plate, and stuck her spoon into that amazing substance. When the second spoonful fell on her tongue, the taste became more prominent as it overlaps with her memories of her first taste.

After that, she couldn’t stop. Caught in the torrent of sweetness and joy, time passed in a flash. When she realized it, Yatorishino retracted her spoon from the empty plate, and appeared to be lost in a daze.

「── One more plate?」

The boy answered with a bright smile as he stuck his spoon into the bucket. The old sage in white looked up with his chest held high and said gleefully:

「How about that, the guy named god!? There isn’t such a taste in your realm of expertise, right!?」

The tour of the base filled with surprises continued, and a welcome party was held at night. Everyone gathered around a barbeque pit to sing and party for the night. Aside from the scientists, 40 other soldiers joined too. Their ranks and age all differed, but all the soldiers showed a 「special trick」 to hype up the mood── I heard that they were selected based on how interesting their idea was.

When all the programs ended, Yatorishino was brought to her dormitory. As she laid on her bed in the dark room, she couldn’t help thinking seriously── that this exchange study might be completely different from what she expected.

The next morning, she woke up at 5am before the day break, dressed quickly and returned to her usual pacing after getting it completely disrupted the day before. Yatorishino carried her sack, exited the room without waking the other female soldiers, and left the dormitory. The cool air unheated by the sun caressed her cheeks, and the buildings placed around the base according to their functions spread before her eyes.

「Oh, Good morning.」「You sure are up early. Did you sleep well?」

「Good morning. Thanks to everyone, I slept very well.」

After exchanging greetings with the two female soldiers on sentry duty, the girl asked politely:

「If it is not too much trouble, I would like to do some morning training. Is there any empty space that don’t have much people?」

「Let’s see… how about the space behind the dorm?」「Yes I think that will work. If anyone wants to go over, I will call them.」

Yatorishino thanked the two of them and made her way behind the dormitory. She swiftly surveyed the surrounding terrain, then stood in the center of the vacant space and took out two wooden swords from her sack. With the saber in her right hand and short sword in her left, she took a natural pose and closed her eyes.

「… Outside a house, chaotic battle. Seven enemies──」

Yatorishino muttered to herself and focused── several enemy figures appeared in her mind like candles being lit. They either held swords, spears or crossbows. They surrounded the girl in formation, and emitted merciless killing intent.

The seven formless enemy surrounded the girl. Suddenly a spearman attacked the girl. The girl twisted her waist and thrust at his chest, and the morning battle started.


This was one of the Igsem’s training method passed down the family, called 「mind battle」. As the name implies, it involve fighting formless enemy created by one’s imagination. This wasn’t too different from the image training used by other martial arts, but she took it to a different level.

「Mind Battle」 was the foundation of Igsem swordsmanship, and the irreplaceable secret to them becoming the strongest warrior. It surpasses mental preparation for battle, and realized the concept of allowing one to always be in a battlefield. Those who master this skill could accumulate experience even without a sparring partner, which was absolutely necessary to become a veteran warrior.


Up until this stage, all this was within the realm of sanity. A precondition of experiencing a real fight through 「Mind Battle」, was that the imaginary enemy had to present a threat. There was no point in defeating enemies that had been reduced to mere strawman.

There were two important criteria to sculpt a great imagination. One would be the experience of observing the battles of many martial artists, and she had no problems with that regards. Born and raised in the Igsem house, she had seen countless martial artists invited by his father for sparring sessions. Her experience would accumulate with time, and the enemy in her imagination would become more detailed.

Two── the steel-like restrain to not go easy on herself.


After blocking the horizontal sword slash with her short sword, she severed the enemy’s thigh arterary when she passed him by. The spear thrust from behind glazed her flank, and the searing pain from her wound stung her nerves. Yatorishino gritted through the pain and continue moving── she renacted her own pain and injury without any reservation either.

To avoid being encircled, she kept moving. Yatorishino kept an eye on the crossbowmen who would shoot if she showed an opening, and cut down one opponent after another. The enemy was set to be slightly stronger than what she could handle right now, and she would be checkmate if she made one false move.


The sixth man attacked while she was slashing at the fifth. After her counterattack that bordered on a double KO succeeded, Yatorishino could feel blood dripping from her wounded flank and calf, then turned to the last crossbowman ten or so metres away.

As she charge over to settle the match, the enemy shooter’s murderous intent penetrate the girl’s entire body. Knowing instinctively that she couldn't avoid the shot with her leg wound, she shielded her heart with the short sword in her left hand. The crossbowman realized that he would be defeated if he miss the shot, and adjusted his aim for the other fatal target── the head.

Yatorishino instantly blocked the bolt she baited her opponent into firing with her saber. She had not master the skill of 「Arrow Deflection」, but if she knew where the enemy was aiming, she could pull off something similar. Sensing that the deflected bolt had whizzed past her cheeks and flew into the distance, the girl step into killing range and slashed.


She cut her opponent’s wrist, then slashed at the neck. As per her father’s instructions, Yatorishino struck a fatal blow at the disabled foe’s neck, without letting her guard down. The sensation of cutting through the spinal column told her that the match was over, and she stopped── However, she was suddenly aware of an eighth enemy figure.


The strict self suggestion made her enter a state similar to a real battle, and the girl failed to realize the contradiction in this situation. She simply judged that there was still an enemy left standing, and slashed without hesitation at that presence.


Her opponent showed no signs of resistance, and blurted out stiffly.

Yatorishino realized at that crucial moment that something was amiss, and stopped the movement of her entire body. After straining her muscles close to the point of breaking, her saber stopped just short of her opponent’s neck.

「No── Sorry, I’m not good with playing with swords.」

The air of battle disappeared like a fading fog, and reality was reflected in her crimson eyes once more── the boy she met yesterday was standing there with his hands up like a prisoners begging for his life.

「── I’m very sorry.」

Realizing her mistake, the vermillion haired girl kept the wooden swords into her waist and bowed her head in apology. Ikuta opened his eyes wide troubledly in response to her reaction:

「Huh? Erm, why are you apologizing?」

「I was too engrossed in my training and almost hurt you.」

「Training… Oh, that’s right. I heard your family is famous for swordsmanship. I am the one that is bothering you.」

The boy scratched his head bashfully, and was shocked when he looked at the girl again:

「… Hey! Your arm and stomach are hurt!」

Dark red bruises had appeared on the places he pointed out, and Yatorishino shook her head lightly.

「This is nothing. It’s something like a bruise, and will fade with time.」

These were the marks of the wounds she suffered during the Mind Battle. As the girl’s image training was too realistic, even her own body thought it was wounded. Ikuta said bafflingly:

「Is that so…? But that looks painful. Let’s put some medicine on it, here.」

The boy took out a small, round wooden box after saying that, offering it to the girl after opening the lid.

「This is a special paste made by our Regiment, I can guarantee its effectiveness. I often use when I fall from trees or things like that.」

「Is that so? I will accept your kind offer then.」

Yatorishino accepted his help docilely. She scoop up some paste and spread it on the bruise on her body. Ikuta looked at her intriguely, then groaned:

「Can’t you change the way you speak… Aren’t you the same age as me?」

When she heard that, the vermillion haired girl stopped applying the paste and looked straight back at Ikuta.

「Is the way I speak strange?」

「It’s not weird, but it feels stiff. Stiffer than a brick. No matter how prim and proper you are, shouldn’t you be more casual with people with similar standings?」

Yatorishino’s face turned gloomy and lowered her head at that question.

「… Before this, I have never met anyone that is close to me in age and standings.」

「Don’t you play with friends? By the way, how do you usually spend your time?」

「Aside from swordsmanship and all short of close combat training, I also learn about military knowledge and doctrines.」

「Swords and studies… Other than that?」

「Aside from training and classes, meal and rest are scheduled efficiently too.」

Yatorishino answered matter of factly, which made Ikuta cross his arms with a moan:

「… I can’t imagine such a lifestyle at all, but I understand that you are completely serious.」

「I always tell the truth.」

「I think so too. In that case… you simply don’t know how to play.」

After interpreting her personality like that, the youth looked at the girl with a smile:

「Anyway, you can start by playing with me.」

「Is this part of the 『exchange study』?」

「I think… it does. The kanji 『Yu』 is in there after all.」
<TL: 遊, can mean travel or play>

「Then I will agree with your proposal. But specifically, what should we do?」

「Well, about that, my Dad actually gave me this.」

Ikuta took out a paper folded into a quarter, laid it out and frowned.

「Maybe it’s because you are here, the tasks today are difficult.」

「… What do we need to do?」

「We will carry out the orders on this paper. Mission one, 『Make Major Guihan fall into a hole』.」

The boy led Yatorishino to hide in a bush beside the road for some reason.

「… Fall into a hole, what does that──」

「Shush! The Major is here!」

He cut off the girl’s question in a sharp tone. In front of the two of them, a middle aged man was walking out of a building that appears to be the officer’s dormitory. He stretched his back at the entrance, and walked towards the two of them.

「He is someone who follows his routine strictly, and will come out to stretch at this time. When the Major takes off his shirt, you can see his six pecs. Isn’t that amazing?」

Alright~ after the youth explained that with a smile, his eyes turned serious:

「I already set the trap, so think of this as a demonstration… I’m getting a little nervous.」

Yatorishino turned her eyes back seriously after hearing that, and saw Major Guihan stopping in his track after realizing something was wrong with the ground.

「… Hmm? This is…」

The Major stopped in front of the spot where the earth was of a different colour, and grunted.

「… That Ikuta brat is playing pranks again.」

The Major saw through the trap with a glance. Since he mentioned ‘again’, this wasn’t the first time he tried something like this. Yatorishino thought as she glanced at the boy.

「But it is obvious that the dirt had been dug up here, which means it will be safe if I stay clear of it──」

Major Guihan walked towards the left to go around it. But instead of stepping down, he stamp down at the earth before him:

「── That is just a disguise, the real trap is over here!」

The dirt on the surface flew off, revealing the trap made with branches and leaves below. The joy of seeing through this two layer trap made the Major put his hands on his waist and laugh out loud:

「Hahaha, as I expected! Don’t think I will fall for the same thing twice!── Hey, you are peeking from somewhere, right!? Give up and show yourself!」
The Major raised his voice and shouted out. Ikuta who was hiding in the bushes stood up obediently:

「──Ehh~ You saw through that? I thought it would work today too~」

「So that’s where you are hiding! Hahaha, don’t look down on your elders!」

Ikuta clicked his tongue and walked towards his opponent who was beaming with joy. As the boy walked slowly, Major Guihan also walked towards him while flexing his muscles meaninglessly:

「Okay, have you braced yourselves? Since I saw through the trap, you will have to follow me for morning train uwah!」

His body sunk right to his waist mid sentence. The boy raised his fist.

「Yes, just as I planned!」

「W-What? What~!」

「I won today too! If two layers don’t work, then I just need to set a three layered trap. Don’t assume I will use the same traps twice!」

Ikuta puffed his chest out proudly after saying that, then squatted down and pulled out a paper and pen:

「Here Major, sign here. This is the fourth time, you should have gotten used to it.」

「Damn it…!」

He was grinding his teeth from frustration, but the Major concede and did just that. After taking the signed paper, the boy said 「Thanks!」, then turned and went back to Yatorishino.

「So, that’s the first mission. Sigh~ I’m glad it went well. It will be ugly if I fail right from the start.」

Even if he said that, the vermillion haired girl wasn’t sure how she should reply. Ignoring her confusion, Ikuta continued to speak cockily:

「There are four other similar missions. Do you understand now? You have to help for the next one too!」

「Just to be clear, this is a high risk mission.」

Next, Yatorishino was brought to the center of the base, where the kitchen and dining area was. The went around to the back of the building, and Ikuta immediately said in a quietly voice:

「The mission details are simple, just steal the listed ingredients from the kitchen… However, there’s a terrifying sentinel in there.」

The boy told her as he looked up at the window. As they stood on the crates stacked near the wall, they peeked inside the room. Inside was a buffed old lady, who was glaring at the pot as if it had murdered her father.

「You can see, right? That’s the chief cook Mariban Susa, also known as Grandma Mari, top 3 in danger level within the Regiment. She would show no mercy to anyone who messes with her kitchen. Anyone who sneaks a bite would get at least a few slaps to the face and kneeling in the corner for two hours. If she caught someone stealing ingredients──」

Ikuta stopped at this point, and made a gesture of slicing his throat with his thumb:

「── We might become breakfast.」

His tone sounded so serious that Yatorishino couldn’t help gasping. After turning her gaze back to the kitchen, she asked:

「… By the way, is it really fine for us to take these items?」

「Of course it’s OK. This is a prank by my Dad in the first place.」

「Since this is the order of the Regimental Commander, why don’t we just ask for it directly?」

「That’s where you are wrong. Listen, it will be fine if we don’t get detected before leaving the kitchen. However, it will be terrible if we get found out. It’s a success if we don’t get detected, but if we get caught, then this mission doesn’t exist at all. There are some jobs where we have to complete them while keeping it a secret from everyone, correct? I remember in the army it’s call assi… No, asspi, that’s not──」

「Espionage assignment?」

「That’s right, something like that. Anyway, we have to steal the ingredients. We either enjoy a sumptuous breakfast, or get eaten as breakfast── that’s the only two options available to us.」

When they saw Grandma Mari’s eyes came their way, the two of them quickly duck under the window. In that position, Ikuta continued talking to the girl beside him.

「… This is a good chance, so let’s use your position as a newcomer to this Regiment, before they become guarded against you. Go into the kitchen with the excuse of touring around or something, draw Grandma Mari’s attention for a while, and I will use that chance to steal the ingredients.」

「A misdirection, huh. I understand the plan.  However… what is the contingency plan if we fail?」

「If that happens, I will convince Grandma Mari that I’m the mastermind, and I just dragged you along forcibly. She will probably let you off… Probably.」

Ikuta promised without any confidence, but the vermillion haired girl shook her head quietly.

「That’s the procedure for surrender or after being taken prisoner. What I want to ask is, if the plan didn’t work out, what should I do to support you?」

The girl stared straight at her to correct his misunderstanding. The boy looked at her blankly:

「… This is the first time someone asked me that.」

「The decision of abandoning one’s comrade is a failure, that’s what my father taught me.」

Yatorishino told him without hesitation. The boy accepted the girl’s determination, and nodded with a serious face:

「Yes, sorry, you are right… But what should we do? If I get detected, that would be the end and there will be nothing to support. But we have to consider the situation where a few ingredients isn’t extracted successfully.」

「In such a situation, I will extract the rest of the ingredients. You will then leave the enemy’s patrol zone as quickly as possible.」

「What’s a patrol zone?」

「That means the area where the enemy roams… For this case, that will be Grandma Mari. Go to a place where she can’t see you. Let’s first decide on a place to gather after the mission. I’m not familiar with the surrounding terrain, so it will be better for you to decide on the place.」

「Yes, I understand. That building all the way to the east── let’s meet up behind that house.」

Ikuta pointed at the house marked as their rendezvous point, and showed a worried expression:

「… But, will that really be fine? If you want to extract the ingredients I couldn’t get, then you have to draw Grandma Mari’s attention without making her wary, and go into the kitchen without bringing in a bag. That will be like announcing that you want to steal food. Going in empty handed will be the best, but then…」

Hmm~ the boy looked at Yatorishino’s clothes and tilted his head. Her shirt only reached the top of her belly button, and close fitting shorts. Her clothes were suitable for moving outdoors, but couldn’t hide any thing on her. It was clearly not suited for a thieving operation.

Leaving the cross armed and moaning Ikuta aside, the vermillion haired girl surveyed the area and said:

「── Are there any stables around here?」

「Stables? There’s a big one over there. This is a base after all.」

「Will there be more people frequenting the area around that building later?」

「Yes… This is the back of the kitchen, and opposite of the dining hall. There is still some time before breakfast, so I don’t think anyone will pass by soon.」

After confirming these necessary information, the girl jumped nimbly off the crate:

「Let’s borrow some straws from the stables. As much as possible.」

「──Hmm? What are you doing here?」

「Good morning. I’m Yatorishino Igsem who had the honor of visiting this base for an exchange study, I just arrived yesterday.」

The hoarse voice of the old lady and the clear voice of the girl reverberated inside the warm room── After the preparation at the stables was done, Yatorishino entered the kitchen as planned, and boldly faced the Tyrant of the kitchen, Grandma Mari.

「Oh, so you are the the guest I have been hearing about. Old Anarai was so excited yesterday… What brings you to the kitchen?」

「I want to observe the cooking process. I won’t get in your way, can you accept this?」

「Hmm? You want to watch me cook? What a strange child.」

She was puzzled by the visit of this guest, but Grandma Mari didn’t really mind her presence here, and cut the chicken with practiced movements. After confirming that her attention was on her task at hand, Ikuta sneaked in through the kitchen entrance. The operation started.

「The kitchen isn’t that interesting. Those hungry soldiers will be here soon, so I will just make a huge amount of good tasting food for them swiftly. You can watch that if you want to, however──」

Grandma Mari chopped off the chicken’s head with a thump. As she lifts the thick kitchen knife gleaming with blood and fats, the Tyrant of the kitchen warned quietly:

「── No stealing food.」

The old lady was as intimidating as a guard of hell, which made Yatorishino nodded timidly. She peeked behind her, and saw that Ikuta who infiltrated the kitchen had started his work. She started providing support.

「Is today’s breakfast chicken?」

「It don’t look like pork or fish, right? But these are for the NCOs. As for the privates, their food is in that pot there. If you promise you won’t steal a bite, you can open the lid and take a look.」

While Yatorishino distracted Grandma Mari, Ikuta moved around the kitchen agilely, collecting the required ingredients one by one. As she watched him from the corner of her eyes, the vermillion haired girl look inside the simmering pot.

「It’s stew. There seemed to be many things added in.」

「I even added in offals. It might not look like much, but this dish taste great.」

Grandma Mari explained with a smile, continuing to work while she spoke:

「The secret is the fresh chicken offals, and the use of spice. It’s not just dumping everything into the pot, it needs to be fried with oil first.」

She said as she piled the diced chicken back on the chopping board.

「The taste will be too strong if I just did that. That’s where the vegetables comes in. I will fry the onions thoroughly… oh, the salt has ran out.」

Grandma Mari stopped her seasoning, and looked inside the small salt bottle. In that instant, Ikuta sense the danger from her words and hid under the cooking platform. Right after that, the Tyrant of the kitchen turned around slowly.

「I forgot to refill it. The spare salt is…」

「I will get it. Is it in the cabinet in front?」

If Grandma Mari move around the kitchen, she would detect Ikuta. To make her stay in this spot, the vermillion haired girl offered her help.

「Yes, right, it’s right there. You see any bags labelled 『salt』?」

「Salt… yes, is this it?」

Yatorishino walked to the other side of the kitchen and took out the bag of salt from a corner of the cabinet. On her way back, Ikuta showed her a thumbs up for her timely save.

「Thank you. You move so quickly, and it feels so refreshing to watch!」

Grandma Mari thanked her as she took the bag and poured salt into the small shaker. She then said as if she remembered something:

「Oh right, there is another kid around your age in this base, a naughty kid named Ikuta. Have you met him?」

「That is General Sankrei’s son. I saw him when I met the General yesterday.」

「That’s right, that boy. Instead of swift, his movements is closer to being rushed. He will create mischief if I’m not careful.」

The old lady snorted and then rubbed the salt in her hands into the kitchen meat.

「He is just a boy, but he is quicker to improvise than an adult, that’s why he is so naughty. He got that from his father. You be careful, don’t be careless and fall for his tricks.」

Yatorishino wasn’t sure how to respond, and the pot of stew beside her started boiling out of the pot.

「Ara! The fire in the stove is too hot, I have to take out some of the firewood.」

Grandma Mari bend over and stuck a tongs into the stove. While she was busy tending to the fire, Ikuta wanted to continue gathering ingredients, but his plan fell through. A soldier barged into the kitchen:

「Grandma Mari, we have finished plucking the feathers and peeling the vegetables!」

「That took too much time! Come in and help!」

Yes yes yes~ the soldier with ingredients in his arms walked in. He was the soldier on kitchen duty doing simple tasks in another room. With the place getting crowded, it was difficult to continue playing hide and seek, so Ikuta withdrew from the kitchen.


The vermillion haired girl didn’t missed the boy pointing at his previous hiding spot. She moved over there inconspicuously, and found a note he left behind. Yatorishino looked at it, and saw that the boy had used his fingernails to marked the ingredients he had taken.

Confirming that there were still three ingredients left, Yatorishino’s eyes turned as sharp as a hawk.

「That is too slow, did you leave all your chores to your partner?」

First was the onions. The girl moved casually to the ingredients, picked up an onion and tossed it out the window. She then tossed two more out in the same way.

「No way, it’s just that the kitchen knife had gotten blunt. I had to sharpen it.」

Next was dried mango. It would take some effort to locate that ingredient, but she noticed that the cabinet where she found the salt also contained dried fruits. She quickly found the sliced orange fruit inside, but was hesitant about tossing the thin slices. After considering it for a few seconds, Yatorishino laid a few slices together and tossed the entire lump out the window.

「Is that so? Then take care of all the blunt kitchen knife before noon.」

The last item was a pumpkin. She found it under the lowest cabinet in no time, but it was too big. Even the smallest one was the size of a child’s head, and was heavy too.

However, the vermillion haired girl didn’t hesitate, and acted swiftly when Grandma Mari and the soldier had their backs turned. She picked up the pumpkin in her right hand, and spun around twice before throwing it with the same technique of throwing a discus.

Pomf! A dull sound came from outside. 「Hmm?」 The two other people turned their heads when they heard that noise, and Yatorishino was already watching their cooking utensils nonchalantly. All the ingredients had been retrieved, she just need to withdraw now. The girl walked towards Grandma Mari and said:

「Watching you cook has been a valuable experience. The kitchen is getting a little crowded, so I should take my leave.」

「Oh, I’m glad it’s helpful. You are welcome to visit again.」

When she saw the kind smile of the old lady who was hard to please, guilt stabbed at Yatorishino’s heart. On the other hand, completing this 「mission」 like a thief gave the girl an incredible sense of exhilaration.


Puzzled by this emotional state she had never experienced before, Yatorishino left the kitchen, unsure of what to make of this feeling.

After walking out of the front door, she went around to the back of the building. Some distance away from the window was a thick layer of straws, but there wasn’t anything on it. Seeing that the boy had collected the ingredients, Yatorishino jogged towards the rendezvous point.

「Seems like everything turned out well.」

She found the boy at the building that looked like a warehouse, and said to him as she slowed her pace. Ikuta looked at her with an impressed face:

「That’s right… but you are incredible~」

The boy said as he looked at the sack full of ingredients by his feet.

「All of them fell precisely on the straws. You tossed all of them while evading Grandma Mari’s gaze, correct?」

「It’s not too difficult. You have taken out all the softer ingredients.」

「No, I can’t do the same thing. First, I might hit the window sill. Even if I didn’t, I can’t aim for the straws. Because the window is too high for me to see the other side.」

「By knowing the weight and shape of the ingredients, I can adjust the force to throw it in a specific arc. I had confirmed the distance from the outside, so all that’s left is simple ballistics calculation.」

The girl wasn’t aware that her tone had a hint of pride. Ikuta crossed his arms a little anxiously:

「… Ughh. I seem to have gotten an amazing companion.」

After finishing a few more similar 「missions」, when the sun rose high up into the sky, the two of them walked towards a house in the center of the base.

「This is my home.」

Ikuta stood before the entrance and pointed at the house. Yatorishino tilted her head puzzledly. This was a house built with timber and bricks, and although it was sturdily built, aside from being in the center of the base, it was just residential mansion that could be found anywhere.

「… Can I go in?」

「I want to counter that with, why not?── Mom, I’m home!」

The youth opened the door to his house energetically and announced his return. A gentle voice welcomed him from inside:

「Ikuta, welcome, back── Hmm?」
<TL: That’s the way she speaks.>

When she saw that lady, Yatorishino felt too moved to speak.

The lady had long, black and lustrous hair, eyes that could be described as agate, and her skin was incredibly white and supple in contrast. She wore a blouse that seemed exotic, with the thin and smooth material wrapping tightly around her body. Her limbs looked elegant and slender, and just the sight of her round nails were enough to mesmerize anyone.

No matter how young she was, this lady must be in her thirties, but her age didn’t seem to be showing at all. When she thought about that, the girl corrected herself. Even her astonishing beauty was just superficial. The essence of her beauty lies with her character, and has nothing to do with age.

After a long silence, the girl realized her mistake, and quickly saluted:

「I-I’m Yatorishino Igsem. As per the instructions of General Sankrei, I am acting together with his son.」

「── Is that so. I’m Yuka, Ikuta’s mother… Thank you for, playing with my son.」

Yuka raised the corners of her lips in a gentle smile, and saluted to humour the girl. Just this action was enough to show her gentle personality, and Yatorishino’s heart was filled with warmth.

「We brought back all sorts of ingredients as requested by Dad. Luckily, Yatori is with me, these things are heavy.」

Ikuta said as he took out the ingredients from the sack and placed them on the table. Yuka picked them up happily.

「There are, so much food…」

「Cook a bit more lunch today. Yatori and I had been running around since morning, we are famished.」

「No, allow me to respectfully decline. I can’t intrude…」

When Yatorishino answered on reflex, the boy turned to her in sincere surprise:

「Huh? You are not eating? Why, how is that possible? It’s my Mom’s cookings you know? It’s the most delicious food in the world.」

Ikuta used his entire body to stress how foolish that decision was, while his mother lowered her head sadly:

「Yatori, won’t eat…?」

「… No, I would love too.」

No one could possibly refuse this after seeing Yuka pleading with moist eyes. When the vermillion haired girl nodded in resignation, Yuka beamed with joy:

「I will, start cooking… Before I’m done, go play with Ikuta.」

With that, she jogged back to the kitchen. Seeing that things had been decided, Ikuta took out a chess board from the living room cabinet and placed it before Yatorishino:

「Can you play chess?」

「Yes, I learned it at home. I heard this is a leisure pass time for officers.」

「Let’s play a match then. Are you fine with no handicaps? I want to have a fair match with you.」

The girl had no objections, and after lining up the pieces, the tossed the coin to decide who goes first.

「Alright, I will make the first move── Here.」

「── Sorry for the wait, the food, is ready… Hmm?」

About an hour later, Yuka finished cooking lunch and came over to call for the two children. However, Ikuta and Yatorishino were facing each other with a chessboard between them, lost in deep thought.

──Send out 6─3 windgunners, 6─7 fire troopers, and linked them up on the right wing after the battle… No, I need one more move to destroy the enemy… Then I should send 3─8 medics to stall them… But in this case, if I move these pieces in concert──

── Ignore the surprise attack by 8─2 in the frontlines… No, the 5─5 fire troopers are in the way… I don’t have enough pieces for attack… How about lifting the defences? But I have to consider the possibility of an attack by the enemy from 6─3…

Their thoughts seemed to be audible in the silence. Yuka was hesitant to call out to the children who were so engrossed. But she couldn’t bear letting the food she cooked go cold, so she made up her mind and spoke:

「Children, lunch, is ready… Okay?」


The children didn’t even look her way, lest give her a response. After being ignored after calling out four times, the lady’s shoulders started quivering a little:

「… Lunch, is ready…」

When Yuka raised her voice a little further with tears in her eyes, the two of them were pulled back to reality from their chess game.

「Huh…? S-Sorry Mom, I was too focused on analyzing the board…! I will be right there, so don’t cry!」

「M-My apologies! I will be right there.」

They apologized and took their seats at the dining table hurriedly. At this moment, another person entered the house. It was Bada Sankrei.

「Phew~ I sneaked away successfully today too. I’m home~」

「Welcome home, Bada. I just, finished cooking lunch.」

「Ah~I’m starving── Oh, you came too, Yatorishino-chan. Son, are you done with the missions today?」

「I did, but it was getting dangerous. This is Yatori’s first mission, so make it simpler, Dad you dummy.」

This was probably how he usually acted with his Father, so Ikuta wasn’t reserved at all. Bada shrugged:

「It will be boring for her if it is too simple── Ah, there’s a chess board on the table, did you play?」

「We are taking a break for lunch, we stopped at the 122nd move.」

「Let’s see… Oh~ this is incredible, it’s a tough fight. Looks like there is still some ways to go.」

Bada said with an impressed tone, then sat beside his wife. With all four of them present, they started digging in, but the chopsticks confused Yatorishino. Yuka stood up in a hurry when she realized that.

「Sorry, Yatori. Please use, this fork.」

The vermillion haired girl gratefully accepted this familiar cutlery, but returned her gaze back to the chopsticks.

「Do all of you… eat with these two sticks?」

「You have to hold it between your fingers, look, like this. It’s surprisingly convenient once you get used to it.」

Ikuta opened and closed the chopsticks, demonstrating its use to her. This unknown culture made Yatorishino open her eyes wide. She looked at the dishes on the table, and found them exotic too. Several small bowls were placed before each person, and the main food wasn’t bread, but congee served on a plate instead.

After brooding over it for a while, she decided to try the soup first. When the amber soup flowed into her mouth, the faint taste of fresh seafood spread slowly in her mouth.

「… This…」

「How do you, find the soup? It might be, a little bland.」

「No… It taste great. You didn’t add any spices, but it has a complex flavor… Is this fish soup?」

When she heard that feedback, Yuka clapped her hands gleefully:

「… I’m really glad, Yatori, can tell. It’s your first time drinking, and you know it is dried fish stock, wonderful.」

「Stock…? What is dried fish?」

「Fish, that has been dried. It can be preserved, but if boiled, the taste will be brought out. That’s stock… and this is soup made from it.」

Yuka got up and went to the kitchen to get the dried fish. She brought out a sack filled with small dried fish. Yatorishino took out one, and observed it intriguely.

「I’m amazed that you noticed after one sip~Yatori-chan. I couldn’t tell at all.」

「… That’s right, I remember when I first cooked, Bada’s reaction. After one sip, Bada said──『You forgot to add salt to the soup』.」

「Dad has a dull tongue. If I give him soap and tell him it is cheese, he will probably eat it.」

「That’s my line, son. If it is Yuka’s cooking, you will eat it even if it’s soap.」

「Of course I would. I will eat no matter how much of Mom’s cooking there is.」

「Yatori-chan, Yatori-chan, isn’t a boy with a Oedipus Complex disgusting?」

Bada muttered softly to the girl sitting diagonally across him. Amused by their interaction, Yatorishino asked intriguely while the atmosphere was laid back and harmonious:

「Do General Sankrei and your family live together here?」

「Yes, I don’t like being transferred repeatedly, and leave my family behind. Our regiment is an All Territories Stronghold, and had to deploy to any parts of the Empire as needed. So I thought, I might as well bring my wife and son with me. In the end, I started living a life like this.」

「Since I’m around, Mom will be fine, so don’t worry and go anywhere you like, Dad. Don’t keep sending Uncle Saba and Uncle Rikan all over the country.」

「You don’t understand, son. The boss has to house sit in the main base. If not, Saba and Hazaf won’t have a place to return to. And to be honest, you will feel lonely if Dad isn’t around, right? Hmm?」

Father and son teased each other as the mother watched happily from the side. Basking in the warm atmosphere, Yatorishino felt at peace.

「After lunch… Let’s make pumpkin paste cake together. Both of you, took a lot, of ingredients, we need to return the favor to Mariban.」

Yuka said slowly, and Yatorishino nodded with a smile. Not only was she beautiful, this lady had an air about her that even those meeting her for the first time would grow fond of her.

I’m glad that I came for the exchange study, the girl thought as she drank the soup──

Her blissful dream stopped here. Yatori woke up in the dim tent, far from being comfortable at all.

「Lieutenant Colonel Yatorishino, a report! General Yorunzaf’s unit has returned!」

The soldier’s voice echoed through the area. She immediately got up from bed and put on her shirt. After keeping her partner fire sprite Shia into her pouch, she walked out of the tent.

When they saw Yatori, the soldiers in the field camp stood up and saluted. She responded with a smile, and observed her subordinates calmly. They might be showing a firm attitude to the commander, but the consecutive marches definitely drained their stamina. With the end of the coup nowhere in sight, she had to be cautious in her deployment of forces.

After raising through the ranks, Yatori met the familiar old one armed general. Honorary General Yorunzaf Igsem was standing before her, with a medic bandaging his right hand.

「Sorry, I messed up.」

The old general said with a bitter face, and raised his injured arm:

「I fell for the trick set by a young chap from the Remeon house, and was repelled from the frontlines. The Emperor might have fallen into the hands of the Rising Sun people. It is embarrassing to say this, but the cavalry I took with me got almost wiped out.

「I see… The important thing is that you survived. Can you tell me the details?」

Yorunzaf started briefing Yatori as per her request. The vermillion haired girl listened seriously to the three sides battle that happened in the southern part of the Dafuma Province── and the information regarding the whereabouts of the Emperor.

「… Assuming His Majesty is really in that quarantined treatment facilities, we should assume that the Rising Sun Regiment found him. However, the Jewel Voice Broadcast announcing the winner had not been sent.」

「It might be possible that they didn’t find anything, but that means things didn’t progress at all. However, that fox might have made things more complicated at the last crucial moment. For example, by holding the Emperor hostage and hiding in a hole.」

「There is a need to confirm this. We can send well rested soldiers to recon…」

「Never mind, that puny village must be completely surrounded now. Attempting to infiltrate will just result in them being detected and taken prisoner. Order the scouts to observe from a distance.」

「I feel the same. But then── the only way to learn more is for us to make a trip there.」

Yatori said with determination. Seeing that the old general had no objections, she switched topics:

「I have two things to report. A few days ago, Our unit engaged a Remeon faction unit led by Lieutenant Colonel Lucika Krukk, and defeated them. We managed to secure the First Prince who was with them.」

「Oh~ so we got him back? Well done. The Igsem faction that supports the establishment had finally gotten out of the state of not having any royals with us.」

「Yes. The second thing── the Remeon faction’s search team had turned sluggish because their commander-in-chief, Lieutenant Colonel Krukk died in battle. I sent my men to scout them, and there appears to be another reason for their chaos. Someone had sold them out from the inside.」

「Betrayal? Those guys who staged a coup with such determination is fighting amongst themselves now, what a riot… It’s nothing special, but it feels a little suspicious.」

Yorunzaf frowned. This might be great news for them, but instead of being happy, he felt more baffled by this. Yatori thought the same way, and shifted her gaze to the south.

「In any case, we have to go south. The long break will end in an hour, and we will set off. What should we do about your unit? If you want to reorganize them, then I will make the transfer.」

When he heard her question, the one armed old general snorted and averted her face:

「I want to do that, but with my lone arm in such a miserable state, I can’t command in the frontlines. Forget about the reorg, just take the rest of my cavalry.」

「Understood, I will do that── do you have any opinions on our future plans?」

「I only have one thing in mind── assume overall command in my stead, Yatorishino. I can’t wield a sword or ride a horse, and couldn’t raise the troop’s morale by waving a flag. You just got the Prince back, so this is a good chance. The defeated general is retiring now, so I will hand things over here.」

Yorunzaf said with a sigh. Yatori opened her eyes wide for a moment, and after realizing that he was serious, she straightened her back and nodded:

「… Yes Sir. I’m shocked. I never thought Grand uncle will say something like that.」

「Despite how I look, I’m still a little depressed… I have lost many battles before, but this is the first time I encountered something like this. It felt as if I had gotten thirty years older.」

The old general grumbled humbly, in contrast with his usual confident demeanour. Seeing her Grand uncle looking more frail than usual, Yatori made up her mind and asked:

「Is Torway Remeon’s unit strong?」

「Yes. Thanks to them, I failed to die.」

He had a begrudged tone. Yatori felt conflicted, and Yorunzaf seemed to realized that and changed the topic:

「You killed Lucika Krukk, I remember she was responsible for the education of the Remeon house. She should have deep relations with that kid. He might become more violent when she learns of her death. Be careful if you have to fight him.」

「…… Yes.」

「That’s all I want to say. You can do the formal change of command later, leave the troops to Megu, you get some rest before moving out. Sorry for waking you.」

After showing his concern to Yatori, Yorunzaf turned and left. She saluted and watched the back of the old general walking away, then looked up at the downcast sky… it hasn’t change since a few days ago, with no signs of any crepuscular rays at all.

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