The Asterisk War

Chapter 5 : War-Academy City part 2

”Although we at Seidokan Academy respect the right of students to engage in duels, unfortunately, in this instance, things must end here. ”

Speaking as she came forth from within the crowd of onlookers was a young woman with dazzling blond hair.

She possessed a calm and collected bearing, and a beauty which, while different in style, was no less stunning than Julis.

If one were to make a comparison, Julis would be likened to a rose, blooming in gracious artistry. This young ladys appearance, in contrast, spoke of the serene tranquillity of waters depths.

”…Claudia. By what authority do you stand in my way? ”

”Why, under my authority as student council president of Seidokan Academy, of course. ”

The young lady, apparently named Claudia, revealed a light smile and raised her hand to reveal the school badge she held within.

”By the authority bestowed upon me as the chief representative of the Red Lotus, I hereby annul this duel between Julis Alexia van Riessfeld and Amagiri Ayato. ”

Julis and Ayatos school badges, which had been glowing with a red light, now ceased to do so.

”Well, no harm, no foul, right, Amagiri Ayato-kun? ”

”Mm… ”

It seemed the storm had safely passed.

Ayato wiped the sweat from his forehead and sighed heavily.

”My thanks, um…President-san? ”

”Thats right. Im the student council president of Seidokan Academy, Claudia Enfield. Its a pleasure. ”

Reaching out to take the hand extended to him, Ayato returned her handshake.

Seeing Claudia from this closer distance, she truly was a captivating presence.

As for what about her was so captivating, well…simply put, it was that overly abundant bosom of hers, which strained at her uniform.

That said, this was hardly the time to be making comparisons to Julis.

Indeed, Julis wore a distinctly dissatisfied expression, clearly unhappy with Claudias ruling.

”Even if you are the student council president, barring some greater reason, you still don have the right to interfere in a duel. ”

By the authority bestowed upon me as the chief representative of the Red Lotus, I hereby annul this duel between Julis Alexia van Riessfeld and Amagiri Ayato

”Of course, I have a reason. Hes a transfer student, right? Even if hes already registered his information and had his emblem authenticated, theres still one last procedure he hasn yet finished. More strictly speaking, Amagiri Ayato-kun is not yet an official student of Seidokan Academy, ” Claudia explained, smiling broadly.

”Only those who are students may engage in a duel. Accordingly, this duel is invalid. Any complaints? ”

”Gu…! ”

Julis bit her lips in frustration.

Given her reaction, with no verbal response forthcoming, it was evident she agreed the argument held merit.

”Good. Now that we
e all clear on the matter, Id like to invite everyone to please depart. If you linger here for too long, youll be late for class. ”

At these words, the crowd broke off into small groups and wandered off.

A handful of students were dissatisfied with the abrupt conclusion to the duel, though they could find no point on which to refute Claudias decision.

”Ah! ”

Suddenly, Ayato remembered the sniping arrow from the duel just now.

It was probable that the student who had sniped Julis was even now fleeing the scene of the crime, hidden amongst the crowd. Even though he was hardly familiar with the rules and customs of his new school, this sort of despicable act still wasn something he could simply ignore.

Allowing the culprit to simply disappear would be anything but wise.

”Um, please wait… ”

Ayato was ready to shout when he was interrupted by a pat on the shoulder from Julis.

”Pretend you didn see anything. This time, whoever it was got off easy. ”

Julis slowly shook her head, a wry smile on her lips.

”Moreover, as a Page One, suffering an ambush like that is hardly unexpected. ”

”Ugh. Its truly unfortunate, but this kind of thing isn all that rare. That said, this time, theyve gone too far. A third party taking advantage of a duel to sneak in an attack is something unforgivable. Ill ask the disciplinary committee to look into it. Once we catch the culprit, theyll be dealt with harshly. ”

At these words from Claudia, Ayato was taken by surprise.

That meant, after all, that Claudia had seen the sneak attack just now.

Even given the number of onlookers who had watched the duel not a single one had noticed the attack.

Perhaps the only one who hadn had their gaze captured by Julis fiery explosions was this young maiden.

”Er, on that note…Regarding just now, um…thank you. ”

Julis turned to Ayato with an apologetic look.

She seemed to be referring to the sniping during their duel.

”Oh, well, putting that aside for the moment…You
e not mad? ”

Even though unforeseen circumstances had forced his hand, the fact remained that hed pushed Julis down; that, he couldn deny.

Remembering the soft sensation in his hand, Ayato inquired with fear, causing Julis to blush and avert her gaze.

”Well, I can say Im not the least bit upset, but…you saved me. ”

It seemed that Julis was quite an earnest person.

Although her expression revealed that it wasn quite so easy to let things go, she bowed her head.

”Im very aware that what happened was unavoidable. ”

Things were progressing rather differently than when hed returned her handkerchief.

Truth be told, Ayato was at his limit simply holding back her fireball; there simply was no time to think up an alternative method. Even if Prana was capable of raising ones defensive abilities, it wasn to the point of being able to shrug off a sneak attack like the one shed undergone.

”Thats why, just this once, I owe you one. ”

”Owe…? ”

”Thats right. Doesn that make things much simpler? ”

That certainly was easy to understand, but it was also a decidedly dispassionate way of dealing with things.

”I see you still haven changed. Honestly. ”

Claudias tone of voice revealed a certain distaste.

”If you ask me, you really should try to be a bit more straightforward. ”

”Don worry about it. Im pretty straight as it is, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. ”

”Hmm…I seem to remember a certain someone struggling to find a partner, no? ”

”Ugh…thats, um… ”

Julis gaze fell as she mumbled.

Her reaction was an answer in itself.

”The PhoenixPhoenix Star Warrior Festival registration deadline is in two weeks. That doesn leave a whole lot of time. ”

”I-I know! I just need to find someone before then, and itll be fine! ”

Julis promptly flipped an about-face and stormed off.

”Honestly. ”

Claudias gaze followed Julis into the distance, looking all the part of a mother watching a rebellious child.

”So, the significance behind why this century has been nicknamed The Calamitous Century. This is due in part to the physical effects of the Ember Tearsmeteor shower, which visited unprecedented destruction upon this world. For three days and three nights, meteorites rained down from the sky, changing the world in drastic ways. The nations which had previously held power fell, giving rise to the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, and a change in societal notions of ethics. The meteorites further resulted in the inception of a new kind of human, able to exert influence over Mana – that is to say, the Starpulse Generation. This led to the creation of new scientific institutions devoted to the study of Mana, which, by leveraging the techniques of meteoric engineering, has grown by leaps and bounds. Regardless of whether these changes are beneficial or not, nevertheless, within the history of man, the Ember Tears stands as a monument of great change. ”

Passing by the classroom, an older teacher could be heard giving instructions.

”Furthermore, according to current schools of thought, the notion that the Ember Tears did not consist of ordinary meteorites is now a predominant theory. All observatories surveying the phenomenon have noted the release of a particular aerosol being produced as the meteorites made contact with the Earths atmosphere. As for what this portends… ”

The droning monotone made for an effective tranquillizer, needing only to enter ones ear before quickly sending one off to count sheep. Indeed, a glance within the classroom revealed the majority of students lying asleep on their desks.

”Its pretty early to be in class. The class shouldn have started yet, right? ”

”Thats right. These students are taking extra lessons. ”

”This early and already in extra lessons… ”

How unfortunate.

”After all, our school focuses on both civil and martial paths. Youd best remember this. ”

Leading Ayato along the path to the student council room, Claudia turned with a smile.

Unlike the classical architecture of the girls dormitory, Seidokan Academys design is much more modern.

The university, high school, and junior high buildings enclose a communal courtyard. Of these three, the high school enrollment was the largest, and subsequently, so was its building.

”Oh, that reminds me. Ayato-kun, you and I are the same age, so feel free to relax a little. ”

”Huh? Wait, that means…the student council president is just a first-year? ”

Her calm and cool temperament completely belied her age.

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”Thats odd…The student council president…? ”

Its currently June. If she was indeed a first-year like Ayato, then she should have entered school two months prior.

Although admittedly he hadn the slightest clue what the process for selecting the student council president entailed but to have risen to such an elevated position in such a short time was nonetheless staggering.

e right. My term as president began during junior high; this is already my third term, ” Claudia calmly explained as they made their way through the hallway, brilliantly illuminated by the rays of sunlight pouring through the glass panes.

It wasn the case that the different school levels held no autonomy, but rather that the student council of Seidokan Academy was a single body drawn from all three levels. Resultantly, among the members of the student council could also be found those who were at the junior high level and those who were at the university level.

”Unbelievable… ”

”Thats why, please just address me by my name. ”

”So thats how it is, Claudia-san. ”

”Claudia. Anything else is unnecessary. ”

”Er, thats a little bit… ”

Given the circumstances, it wasn like he could do much else, but for Ayato to directly use the first name of a girl he had just met was still something he was rather hesitant to do.

”Claudia. ”

”Thats what I mean…thats…. ”

”Clau~di~a~ ”

”…Alright, I understand already. Claudia. ”

Contrasting her appearance, she appeared to be quite stubborn indeed.

Having lost out to her mulishness, Ayato had no choice but to give in and address his student council president with her given name. Claudia narrowed her eyes in delight.

”Well then, please call me Ayato… even if its a little embarrassing, to be sure. ”

”Got it, Ayato. ”

”Is it really fine not to use any honorifics? ”

”Thats assuredly not the case. Just chalk it up to my personality. ”

”Personality? ”

”Indeed. I harbour quite a sly personality, so I make sure to leave a good first impression on others. Afterwards, I influence them little by little. ”

From the very beginning, Claudia looked nothing so much like a warm, caring mother, so digesting whatd just said necessarily took Ayato some time.

”…A sly personality? ”

”Just so. Deep within my heart, a dark something is boiling over, almost like a black hole, wreaking havoc. Its so black, its even darker than black honey. ”[1]

That certainly is dark.

”That said, would you like to see for yourself? ”

”Huh? ”

Having thus spoken, Claudia gripped the bottom of her blouse and began to roll it up.

”Wah!? Wa-wait just a moment! ”

Catching a glimpse of that exquisite abdomen, Ayato frantically turned away.

Of course, Claudia never intended to reveal anything more.

”Hahaha, Im just playing. Such a cute reaction. ”

Claudia laughed delightedly, covering her mouth with her hand.

This made it abundantly clear just what she meant by a ”sly personality ”.

”-Alright, we
e here. Please, come in. ”

Itd taken them some time to reach the student council room, located on the top floor of the high school building. Looking more carefully, it seemed all the rooms on the top floor were related to the student council in some way.

Using her school badge, Claudia authenticated herself at the door, which slid open to reveal a vast and spacious room that felt a bit much for a student council room.

The floor of the entryway was covered in a dark brown leather rug. A depiction of Seidokan Academys school grounds was hung on the wall. Placed in front of the large window, with room to spare, was a heavy oaken conference desk with matching chairs. Simply put, it looked for all the world like the boardroom of a large corporation.

Claudia sat down at the head of the table with practised ease, placing her hands together, she spoke once more.

”Well then, once more… Welcome to Seidokan Academy, Ayato. ”

Having looked at Ayato this entire time, Claudia now broke eye contact to turn to face the window.

”And…welcome to Rikka, the Asterisk City. ”

Ayato followed her in looking out over the city from their high vantage point, a neat cityscape filling his gaze.

Floating atop the crater lake in North Kanto, left by an immense meteorite, lay the artificial-island city. In the centre of its hexagonal layout sat the central district, with one of the six schools reaching out in each direction, giving one the impression of a large snowflake. The name of this city, RikkaSnowflake, was rooted in this fact.

Each school had its district, with a large road leading up to the school itself, the architecture of which resulted in a star shape, or more precisely, an asteriskhexagram.

Granted, the origin of this name was something that had to be seen to be understood for those students who journeyed from around the world to be here.

”We of Seidokan Academy have but one expectation of you, the special invitee transfer student, and that is victory. ”

Looking down upon the city, she continued, ”Defeat St. Garrardsworth Academy, subdue Allekant Academy, subjugate the GerronWorld Dragon Seventh Institute, overpower Le Wolfe Black Institute, and triumph over Queen Veil Girls Academy. That is to say, to obtain victory during the FestaStar Warrior Festival. ”

”…Um- ”

Ayato could only scratch his head and frown.

”Im sorry. Ill be honest; I have no interest in any of that. ”

The truth of the matter was that each school was supported from behind the scenes by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation. Their power, superior to the now fallen nations of times past, was sufficient even to warp and alter the law. Whether it be wealth, position, or prestige – nothing was beyond reach.

To be certain, of the students gathered in this Asterisk City, a full half were here for the express purpose of realizing such dreams.

The remaining half, namely those students wielding the special powers of the Starpulse Generation, were eager to test themselves, hoping at least once to fight to the very limits of their ability. For these students, there was but one place in this world where they could fight to their hearts content.

Nonetheless, Ayato fell within neither of these two camps.

”I know. Im aware you don feel anything in particular about this sort of thing, which is why youve rejected our invitation once already. ”

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