Since Henri couldn’t walk, she was being carried by an automaton.
It was a giant type automaton that looked very strong. Its large arms gave it a strong sense of reassurance, making it surprisingly pleasant.
After taking a long and roundabout trip, they finally managed to head upwards. By the time they emerged from the labyrinthine underground, it was already past three in the afternoon.
The sudden increase in brightness from the outside light scorched his retinas, causing Raishin to shield his eyes with his hand.
The western sky had a slight yellow tinge to it, telling all that dusk was approaching soon.
It looked like their arrival had been phoned in ahead of time, for the security personnel and executive committee members came to receive them. They were near the field used for mock battles, and they emerged from a building which had dozens of iron bars arranged in a lattice, like the building itself was a prison.
“A long time ago, a facility meant to be used for magic arts experimentation was planned to be built here, to make use of this natural cave. However as it turned out, the place was too big and dangerous, so it was sealed off to this day.”
The headmaster explained it to him. Although he felt it was a crock of lies, Raishin feigned comprehension.
After having received a check up from the medical team, the first order of business was to dismiss their little group.
A familiar voice called out to him from the mock battle field.
Jumping clean over the security guards, Yaya came flying towards him.
Clinging to his waist, Yaya started to cry.
“Yaya was so worried… so worried…!”
Raishin ruffled her hair as he said,
“Sorry. But you don’t have to cry like that. I won’t die so easily.”
“What if Raishin and that vixen ended up… making out.”
“I see. Next time worry more for my safety.”
“I did! If your life is in danger, the fear helps to make love between a man and a woman stronger!”
“You’ve read too much books. Nothing happened… ok?”
“You looked away! Raishin, why did you look away!?”
“No, really, nothing happened… ok?”
He didn’t know whether the suspension bridge effect was real or not, but there was no denying that the distance between him and Henri was shrank.
Peeling Yaya off him, Raishin searched for Henri.
Amidst the sea of security personnel and executive committee members crawling about the place, he spotted a familiar figure.
It was a side profile of a gentle face. It was the Gryphon dormitory’s boarding mistress. Her arm her wrapped around a shoulder of another girl who had her back to Raishin, staring off into the distance— Henri. He wanted to go check up on her and pat her on the back for making it through, but since the boarding mistress was already there, he felt like he didn’t need to worry, although he felt not talking to Henri was regrettable.
“… Hm, Yaya? Hey, what are you up to?”
Yaya had forcefully grabbed his hand, and was now dragging Raishin somewhere.
He didn’t understand what was going on, but by the time he realised where he was they were now away from the mock battle field and standing inside a grove of broadleaf trees.
Dragging him into the thicket, Yaya had a touch of complaint in her voice.
“Take off your pants!”
“I refuse! Why the sudden request!?”
“In that case just show me your naked body!”
“That’s the same thing you idiot!”
Yaya glared at Raishin, tears forming in her eyes.
“Beca—… at least say it in an indirect manner you fool!”
“That’s even worse— waitwaitwait! Why are you stripping now!?”
Yaya loosened the cord on her clothing, exposing her naked upper body with a flourish.
Flawless white skin, so beautiful it was almost horrible to look at. The area from her shoulders to her chest were freely exposed, but the obi around her waist was still tied on,making her look indecently erotic.
All this even though there was a large crowd of people less than ten metres nearby. Yaya was completing ignoring the place and situation they were in. Yaya slowly approached the panicking Raishin—
Then suddenly, she snapped.
“So you really… do hate Yaya… after all…”
“Get dressed. I already said I don’t hate you.”
“But… you didn’t even react at all…”
“Where did you just look? What did a young girl just fixate on?”
“It’s not like Raishin is unable to, I’ve already confirmed that…”
“When did you!? Also, hurry up and put on your clothes!”
Grabbing the collar of her kimono, he forcibly dressed her. After covering her chest, he felt safe. Just as he breathed a sigh of relief, there was the sound of glass breaking.
Yaya’s eyes rapidly lost their vitality as she turned into a literal doll.
She had stopped crying, and there was a vacant and lifeless smile forming on her face.
“Ufufu… Oh Raishin… Fufu… Don’t do that…”
Was she talking to herself?
No. She enjoying a conversation, but with the oak tree in front of her!
It looked like she was under the delusion that the oak tree was her ideal Raishin.
Yaya was leaning onto the tree, a blissful smile on her face.
“Yes, Raishin. Yaya will always be here. Forever and ever— <3”
This was bad. Yaya was worth as much as a military battleship. If she broke, Raishin would never be able to pay off the repair cost in this lifetime. Furthermore, if Yaya wasn’t around he wouldn’t be able to take part in the Night Party!
Raishin desperately grabbed Yaya by the shoulders, shaking her back and forth.
“Yaya, return to your senses! Come back, please!”
“Fufufu… Raishin… Raishin… Raishin… Raishin… Raishin… <3”
Yaya wasn’t looking in his direction, even though Raishin was this close to her now!
Her pent-up dissatisfaction and resentment, coupled with her worry over whether Raishin was dead or alive, in addition to his return, was causing her emotions to run wild.
Not to mention, Raishin had continued to push her away. Yaya had tried to express her love with her whole body, but he had coldly refused her.
At this point, he could no longer just brush her off.
If he didn’t explain himself clearly now, Yaya would never be able to understand.
“… Of all people, I especially didn’t want to tell you this.”
With that as the preface, Raishin finally told the secret he had been hiding from her for two years.
“I have a fiancée.”
It worked. Yaya snapped back to her senses, having taken the bait.
“That’s a lie! Raishin… we’ve been together two years, and this is the first time I’m hearing of such a thing…!”
“There wasn’t a good time to tell you. Also, well, I mean… I was terrified.”
“You were terrified you’d destroy your relationship with Yaya…?”
“No, I was terrified you’d destroy my body.”
“Raishin… how could you… lie to Yaya all this while…”
“Wai— Hold on. I never lied to you ok? I didn’t do anything of the sort. In any case, listen to the end— calm down!”
He was being strangled and lifted up by the neck. He could feel the blood being cut off, his consciousness rapidly fading away. Just before his throat was crushed, Raishin managed to shout out.
“I-I’m not getting married!”
“I was trying to tell you, I don’t have any intention of getting married!”
Yaya had a puzzled look on her face. Releasing the strength in her fingers, Raishin dropped to the ground.
Coughing and spluttering, Raishin breathed in deeply, getting vital oxygen back into his system.
“What do you mean you’re not getting married?”
“I-it was something my parents decided on their own, and besides the Akabane clan is all but destroyed now. To be betrothed now would be ridiculous. However, the engagement hasn’t been officially called off yet. And so, until the engagement is broken off, I won’t get close to other women. My sense of duty prevents it.”
“… Raishin is such a straight-laced person.”
“Did you just click your tongue?”
Raishin rubbed his throat, giving a self-depreciating laugh.
“In any case, she’s like a mountain flower out of my reach. We wouldn’t be a good fit for each other.”
“Does that… does that mean you love her that much…!?”
“No! Don’t make such a big misunderstanding!”
“But if you really don’t have any lingering affection for her, why haven’t you called it off yet!?”
“Well, that is… the other party refused to call it off…”
Just as the words left his mouth, he froze. Saying such dangerous words were practically a suicide attempt!
Fortunately, Yaya didn’t seem to have caught it. She had quickly cheered up, and was now smiling happily.
“If you don’t have any intention to marry, then that means there’s no obstacle standing in the way of our love, right?”
Yaya was beaming happily. Raishin felt relieved. There was no worry behind the smile. The current Yaya was the same as before he had met Frey.
“Yeah, there isn’t.”
“In that case, please take off your pants!”
“Dammit, have you even been listening to a word I’ve said?!”
While this was going on, there was a certain someone hiding in the nearby thicket eavesdropping.
Grasping her knees together, she was sitting next to a large wolf-dog with black fur.
It was Frey. She was with the group of people that had gone to receive them, but because the security personnel had obstructed her, she had missed her opportunity to call out to Raishin.
When she heard him talk about a fiancée, Frey froze up.
Both hands gripping onto the muffler around her neck, she began to unconsciously crush the fabric together.
Fiancee. Fiancee. Frey was especially sensitive to sound. When Raishin had said the word, she had clearly sensed there was a strange warmth in his voice.
She bit her lip at the appearance of a strong rival.
“… It couldn’t be…”
Someone’s figure popped into her mind, startling her. It was probably no more than women’s intuition; then again it was indeed a possible fantasy.
Unease grew and spread within her chest, and Frey trembled slightly.
Her partner Rabi started to sniff, pushing his nose against her in an attempt to comfort her.
Frey stroked his fluffy fur, burying her face into Rabi’s neck.
He smelt of sunshine, earth and grass.
Rabi’s smell helped her calm down, and killing off their presence, she stood up.
Mounting herself onto Rabi’s back, she started off. Dashing out of the grove in one burst, she returned back onto the main street. Suddenly though, Rabi came to a halt, his ears raised.
His head raised, he began to look around the area. Clearly, something had alerted him and he was now on his guard.
Finally, accompanied with the fluttering of wings, a large shadow descended.
It was a dignified and heroic figure. Rabi himself was a large dog, but this figure was several times his size.
It was a silhouette with four wings, and there was someone standing in its back, staring in Frey’s direction.
Frey’s eyes widened in surprise as she stared at a junior who was in the same dormitory as her— although now she was considered ‘missing’— calling out her nickname.