Campione! / Campione! Vol 13 Chapter 1


Chapter 1 – Rite of the Hime-Miko
Part 1
A simple party had been held on Christmas Eve.
The next day, in other words, on Christmas Day, Kusanagi Godou’s
companions gathered once again in the Kusanagi residence. Their mission
was to clean up the complete mess left behind by the party last night. Due
to the party persisting until late into the night, they had decided to leave the
cleaning up for the next day — now.
While the clean up was in progress, Mariya Yuri could not help but
murmur.
“By the way, Shizuka-san looked quite troubled yesterday.”
The Yamato Nadeshiko quietly tilted her head as she brought up what
puzzled her.
As the elder brother of the person in question, Godou shrugged and went
“I guess so” in response.
“That Yinghua… Always so intimidating but that’s his personality, and even
though Hikari was cheerfully smiling as always, Shizuka was probably
worried because of that.”
“By the way, even Your Majesty’s childhood friend was frequently making
strange faces.”
Godou’s childhood friend — probably meant Tokunaga Asuka who had
joined in the party midway.
“Strange faces?”
“Yeah, looking like she was wondering ‘What should I do from now on?’ to
herself.”
“She probably had something on her mind. Maybe I should go ask her
tactfully?”
“Kusanagi Godou. I have no wish to speak evil of you, but I would advise
you not to pursue that course of action.”
Sternly entering the conversation was Liliana Kranjcar.
“You should leave her alone is what I should say. At the very least, if you
try to get involved, you will only be pouring fuel onto the fire.”
“1-1 see.”
Godou nodded with uncertainty.
As a side note, the one who took charge of clean up efforts and assigned
roles flexibly to everyone was the silver-haired knight who had just offered
her counsel.
Yuri also displayed domestic competency rivaling Liliana’s.
Although she was not directing others as conspicuously as Liliana, she
displayed tenacious effort true to her personality, making the Kusanagi
residence even cleaner and more organized than it was originally.
Even Ena was clearing things up with surprising familiarity and skill.
Perhaps this expressed part of the Yamato Nadeshiko’s “thorough
education since birth.”
Unwilling to let the girls shoulder all the work, Godou also put his serious
personality to work, immersing himself in the clean up efforts. Thanks to
that, the entire operation was finished in short time.
On the other hand, a certain person’s behavior exemplified the life of a
princess used to being waited on.
“Well, Asuka-san’s matter will eventually resolve itself on its own, through
her making a choice — to distance herself from Godou or the opposite. In
any case, this isn’t something Godou could help her with even if he wanted
to.”
Erica Blandelli spoke as she wiped the table with a damp cloth.
Though her movements were richly rhythmic, they were far from diligent.
Rather, she gave off a sense of elegant leisure.
Lacking efficiency in domestic chores, Erica was clearly unsuited to the
task of cleaning.
Furthermore, Godou’s younger sister Shizuka had gone out at the
invitation of friends, having left the house early in the morning. Currently,
Godou, Erica, Yuri, Liliana and Ena were the only ones occupying this
home. Just Godou’s companions.
With the cleaning accomplished, everyone gathered in the living room. As
everyone sat around the wooden table, each served with a portion of green
tea, Erica slowly began to speak:
“Well then, everyone. It’s about time we reach a conclusion for that
outstanding issue from a while ago.”
“Outstanding issue?”
Godou was bewildered. Was there such a thing?
“Yes, wasn’t it mentioned before? I am planning on traveling to Switzerland
for the winter break. We can go skiing there, and Uncle Paolo should be
coming.”
“No no. It has to be Japan. Japanese hot springs are the best choice.”
Ena instantly cut in.
“You know, there’s an authentic secret hot spring in the mountains owned
by my family. We should all go deep into the mountains together and wash
out a year’s worth of fatigue. It’ll be great fun!”
Faced with Erica and Ena’s competing proposals, Godou could not help
but close his eyes.
Then he opened them and turned his gaze towards Yuri and Liliana. The
prim and proper Hime-Miko smiled helplessly, nodding in
acknowledgement. On the other hand, the silver-haired female knight
shook her head as if saying “What an inane conversation.”
Apart from Erica and Ena, the other two girls apparently agreed with
Godou. Hence, they were the majority faction in this 3 vs 1 vs 1 situation.
“About this issue, I think I’d better give my honest opinion while I’m still
alive… Well, here’s my serious answer, Erica.”
“What is it?”
“Ultimately, spending winter break in the European Alps as a high school
student… Is way too extravagant. Seriously, there should be limits to doing
things beyond a normal student’s means.”
“What does it matter? You are the god-slaying Devil King, after all.”
“Is that even a reason? Fine, supposing I relent, but we were so busy with
the Saturnus incident that we haven’t even gotten the plane tickets yet.
Taking the bullet train isn’t going to get us to Europe, right?”
“No problem. Taking advantage of cancellations is 100% possible, all it
takes is a bit of work.”
“No way, even if it’s possible. I’m sure it’s 100% illegal!”
Before Erica could lay out concrete plans, Godou preemptively objected.
Next, he turned to Ena.
“Then Seishuuin, that whatever secret hot springs must be located deep in
the Chichibu mountains, right? Can you show me a mountain climbing plan
prepared for the journey up the mountain?”
“Uh, what?”
As expected, the Hime-Miko of the Sword was instantly at a loss for words.
“You’ve never heard of it? In case of emergencies, that write up we give to
family and the police before we climb a mountain.”
It was essentially a voluntary document. Since Ena called the place a
secret hot spring, it must definitely be deep in the mountains. If that was
the case, preparing for accidents was only a natural consideration.
However…
“It’s okay. Ena has never written anything like that.”
Seeing Ena completely nonchalant, Godou grumbled.
“Compared to Ena who has lived the life of training in the mountains, the
rest of us are simply budding saplings nurtured in city life. All other things
equal, we can’t possibly climb that kind of mountain in winter…”
Excluding Yuri, the other three girls all possessed above average physical
capabilities. Nevertheless, keeping up with Ena whose legs allowed her to
jump around like a wild mountain monkey would be a tall order.
Consequently as the arbitrator, Godou rejected the second proposal with
good reason.
“Summing up, the time before and after New Year’s will be spent
peacefully resting.”
Liliana nodded in agreement as she spoke.
“Right… Based on my own family’s customs, year end aside, New Year’s is
quite a busy and lively time.”
“You also have a New Year’s gathering?”
Hearing Godou’s mutterings, Yuri asked.
“Yeah. All my relatives, the whole bunch gathers from all over Japan to
hold a New Year’s party in Tokyo. Not only do they drink like mad, but
there’s also that troublesome after party. This year, I’m definitely not
participating again!”
“Isn’t that a simple matter?”
Erica immediately smiled and spoke up.
“If all you want is to wait for the New Year’s to pass, simply come over to
my home. Live there for a while and let us leisurely enjoy our privacy, just
the two of us, thoroughly affirming our love for each other. Hoho, isn’t that
the most desirable manner to celebrate the beginning of a new year?”
“D-Don’t talk nonsense!”
Godou immediately rejected the devil’s proposal.
“If it was a guy’s place, then sure, but I can’t possibly live in a girl’s room.
Besides, Anna-san is currently on vacation, which means it really will be
just me and Erica alone!?”
“Hence there is no problem. Godou, let us have a sweet and loving
vacation together?”
“E-Erica-san!”
“Wait a minute. If that is the case, coming to my house is also an option!”
“Even Liliana-san!?”
“It is a perfectly reasonable development for the king to stay at the
residence of the one who shoulders the duties of the premier knight and
grand chamberlain.”
Yuri’s dissatisfaction with the red and blue knights’ proposals was plain to
see.
However, the other Hime-Miko also brought up nonsense at this time.
“What are you talking about? If that’s the case, His Majesty can also come
to the Seishuuin ancestral home. My house has plenty of rooms, you are
greatly welcome to stay.”
“Ena-san. Please refrain from such improper proposals!”
“Yuri should come too- It’s been so long since Yuri last visited Grandma,
she misses you. This is perfect. In that case, how about everyone stay with
us until the end of winter break? I welcome Erica-san and Liliana-san to
come together too.”
As a result of her naturally open and cheerful personality, the Hime-Miko of
the Sword offered a new suggestion.
Erica and Liliana’s expressions changed immediately. Their faces seemed
to be saying “Rather than taking independent action, let us join forces
together instead…” as they planned their next move.
Facing this unstable situation, Yuri objected alone.
“This is so lacking in common sense… For such a large group to suddenly
rush there without notice.”
“No problem there. Even for an illegitimate child left behind by my
deceased grandpa, as soon as grandma found him, he was immediately
taken in to live with us the next day.”
“N-Now that you mention it, I do recall such an event…”
Godou was rather shocked by this exchange that suddenly revealed the
private affairs of another’s family.
On the other hand, Yuri fell silent as if vaguely acquiescing.
Glancing at the other’s faces from time to time, she seemed to be
pondering something. Speaking of which, she was a high-class young lady
who easily blushed unexpectedly due to the synergistic effect of her docility
and inexperience in worldly ways.
No good. If Godou did not try to stem the current tide of opinion, things
were going to develop in a most unfavorable manner!?
Just as Godou was about to speak up frantically, Yuri went “Ah” and spoke
quietly.
“Ena-san, it does not work out. We have to attend the Great Purification
Rite the day after tomorrow.”
“Eh?”
“Furthermore, starting from New Year’s Eve, I have to be at Nanao Shrine
for three consecutive days. Even Ena-san will be obliged to go forth to
some village and work at the shrine there.”
Godou realized from Yuri’s reminder. Now that he thought about it, the two
girls were miko after all.
The period before and after New Year’s should be one of the busiest times
for them. However, the premier Hi me- Miko clutched her head in her arms
in shock.
“Eh, even Ena is required to do that?”
“After all, this is our duty and obligation as Hime-Miko…”
“Annoying. In past years I was always training in the mountains and
completely forgot about it!”
Ena screamed towards the heavens. Then Liliana asked:
“Mariya Yuri, what is this Great Purification Rite?”
“It is a purification ritual held during the year end when all of us Hime-Miko
belonging to the ‘East’ gather together. But to be honest, given a choice I
would prefer not to participate. At least, not for this year…”
Yuri sighed with a gloomy expression.
Just as Godou was surprised by the negativity displayed by the
dependable high-class young lady, he suddenly heard a cellphone’s lively
ringtone. The sound came from Yuri’s bag.
“Excuse me.” Apologizing, Yuri took out her cellphone and took the call.
The conversation lasted for a couple of minutes. After the call, she put her
cellphone away.
Then Yuri slowly spoke to Godou.
“The call was from Kaoru-san. Basically, regarding the Great Purification
Rite we were just talking about, whether we should invite Godou-san to
come along or not.”
“Me? Joining a gathering of the Hime-Miko?”
Yuri explained the situation as Godou listened in surprise.
I see, if that’s the case — after hearing the reason, Godou nodded
immediately.
Part 2
The morning after Christmas, Godou suddenly informed his sister:
“By the way, I have to go out to do something tomorrow, so I probably
won’t be back until late.”
On the breakfast table there was no one else but the two siblings. Shizuka
went “Huh” as she sighed with worry.
“Are you going with Erica-san and the rest of the group?”
“I knew it. Onii-chan really did achieve explosive growth over the past half
a year. Rumors have already spread all around the neighborhood.”
“Saying I’m very similar to Grandpa again…?”
“It’s gone beyond that level. ‘Already like this in his teens, he’ll probably
surpass his grandfather by the time he’s in his twenties!’ was what the man
at the commercial association said. Very unlike Grandpa in the way you
went for foreign girls, that was what everyone discussed with great
interest.”
“W-What is everyone saying!? This is completely unfounded!”
“In that case, you should show a little restraint in the way you suddenly
bring home all these girls from who knows where. And on Christmas Eve,
you even invited Mariya-senpai’s younger sister — an elementary schooler.
Furthermore, you even said you were going on an expedition with that
popular-looking handsome guy to pick up girls.”
Apparently, Shizuka had judged Sayanomiya Kaoru’s gender to be male.
Explaining the truth would probably complicate the situation further. Godou
decided to not to correct that detail, but instead forced the conversation to
bring up another person.
“Didn’t I invite another boy as well? Yeah, there was that dude with the
slightly fierce gaze, who may turn out quite handsome in the future.”
“Ah, you mean that boy whose face was filled with arrogance. Him…
Hmm…”
Speaking of Lu Yinghua, Shizuka began to contemplate for some reason.
“What about him?”
“Actually, I did feel slightly concerned. Somehow I get a sense that he’s
actually far more subservient than that look on his face would suggest.
How should I put it, a bit of an underling flavor to him. He looks kind of
used to bowing down to a superior…”
Godou was shocked by Shizuka’s mumbling commentary.
His little sister here could very well be extraordinary. To think she would
discern the dark side(?) of his nephew on their first encounter… Godou
secretly prayed for Yinghua, hoping he would not be ordered around like
an underling regardless of the circumstances which might bring him to
cross paths with Shizuka in the future.
As the siblings’ conversation reached the end of their meal…
Shizuka’s cellphone on the table began to vibrate. Apparently she received
a text.
“Ah, it’s from Dad. Heh… Onii-chan, come and take a look.”
After checking her messages, the younger sister handed the phone over
and Godou read content displayed.
‘Dear daughter, I’m really sorry about earlier. By the way, Daddy is
planning to stay in the Caribbean to enjoy the sun and yachts for now.
Would you like to come over for winter break?’
Shizuka’s birthday was in early December. At the time, their father
originally promised to return home but did not come in the end.
Apparently he was trying to make up for it. For a middle-aged delinquent
father, such intentions were commendable. Furthermore, there was a
postscript addressed to Godou.
‘P.S. Dear son, I won’t object if you decide to come, but be prepared for the
misery of being excluded from a heartfelt reunion between father and
daughter.’
Indeed this was typical of his father’s speech. But more than that, Godou
was impressed instead.
After all, the father was a terrible human being who could openly declare
‘I’m not the type of person who could treat a useless son and a cute
daughter equally!’ He was still the same as always, making no progress at
all.
“It’s the Caribbean. Does Onii-chan want to go?”
Furthermore, before Godou’s eyes stood the little sister who openly
ignored the father’s wishes. Indeed, she was an extraordinary character,
not one to be fazed by this level of occurrence.
However, thinking that it would be rather troublesome getting along with
this twisted father, Godou immediately said:
“Why don’t you go alone? I’m going to be staying over at a friend’s place
for New Year’s.”
“Why? If you’re living in Japan, there’s no reason to stay over, right?”
“If I stay at home during New Year’s, I’ll be forcefully tied up and dragged
to that party by those relatives. I have resolved to cut myself off from
gambling matters this year!”
The Kusanagi clan and its branches always gathered somewhere in Tokyo
to hold a New Year’s party.
The after party always held a crazy gambling carnival. For a good number
of years now, Godou had been forced to participate as the defending
champion. The only way to stop this ugly tradition would be to get away
from home.
But unfortunately, the grandfather was not home this year.
If he left the house during New Year’s, Shizuka would be left alone —
(Their mother did say she was coming, but it was uncertain when exactly
before or after New Year’s she would arrive. Precisely because the mother
was a great fan of parties, she would often go around to attend various
parties during this time of the year. Consequently, Godou felt a sense of
reassurance at the thought of leaving his mother alone to handle the clan’s
New Year’s party.)
However, given their father’s invitation, he no longer had to worry about his
younger sister.
As the elder brother resolved himself to go on a trip, Shizuka eyed him with
suspicion.
“So the place Onii-chan will be staying at, wouldn’t happen to be the home
of Erica-san or the others, right…?”
“Don’t talk nonsense! I’m completely unlike Grandpa. I will never do
anything like that!”
In actual fact, he was inspired yesterday by Erica’s suggestion of “living at
a friend’s.”
But he had no intention of living in a girl’s home. Godou strongly swore to
himself.
After that, the day arrived for the imminent Hime-Miko year end gathering.
Godou left home at eight in the morning to meet up with Liliana. The two of
them walked to Erica’s apartment and managed with great difficulty to
rouse the blonde beauty who always had trouble getting up in the morning.
Then the trio departed from Erica’s apartment and took the subway train —
Walking roughly ten minutes on foot from the station, they reached a
twenty-story designer’s mansion. Their destination was a unit in this
building, the gathering place for today.
“Welcome everyone!”
The one greeting everyone at the entryway was one of the inhabitants of
this unit, Mariya Hikari.
This place was another residence of the Mariya family’s. Their ancestral
home was located in the Saitama prefecture, where the two sisters’
grandparents originally lived. However, to facilitate the sisters going to
school and the parents commuting to work, they had moved to live in
Tokyo.
“Is Seishuuin already here?”
“Yes. More accurately, Ena-neesama has been staying over in
Onee-chan’s room for the past few days.”
Hikari replied to Godou’s question.
Starting from the day Ena came over from Chichibu, she had already
planned to stay for three days or longer.
“Could the Seishuuin and Mariya families be quite close in relationship?”
Liliana suddenly asked.
“Not really. There exists a wide gulf in prestige between my family and the
Seishuuins. You could even say that our families are not supposed to
associate directly. But since Ena-neesama has that kind of personality, she
already became good friends with Onee-chan when they were small.”
Entering a childhood friend’s home as naturally as if it were her own, Ena
became very familiar with the Mariya parents and grandparents, often
showing up suddenly without notice to renew her freeloader status.
“Even when Onee-chan is not home, Ena-neesama would play with me,
the little sister. She would also make my mother and grandmother spoil her
and ask for snacks. As time went on, she naturally became like a part of
our family.”
“That sort of scene is actually quite easy to imagine…”
Erica nodded, perhaps reminded of Ena’s easygoing innocence.
Furthermore, Ena in turn, had invited Yuri to her ancestral home without
being concerned with any conventions. Thereafter, the Seishuuin family
had not minded the difference in family stature despite being fellow
Hime-Miko, and allowed their friendship to continue…
Hikari proceeded to explain the above to Godou and the rest as she led
them to the living room.
“Ah, but Grandma Ran, the current head of the Seishuuin family, also
seems to like Onee-chan a lot. When Ena-neesama asked her if
Onee-chan could be adopted into the Seishuuin family, she answered ‘No
problem’ readily.”
“…Why would the Seishuuin family want Mariya as an adopted daughter?”
Godou puzzled over this sudden question as he sat down on the living
room sofa.
Erica and Liliana also sat down left and right of him respectively. The
Mariya residence’s living room had an area greater than ten square
meters. This spaciousness, combined with the ample lighting from the sun,
made for quite a comfortable environment.
“It’s because ever since Onee-chan decided to follow Onii-sama,
Ena-neesama worried that Onee-chan would be treated unfairly.”
Godou went “Eh?” in surprise. Why would he become the reason for that?
“Seishuuin, Sayanomiya, Kuhoudzuka and Renjou — amongst these Four
Families and their branches, although it’s only a minority, there does exist
those who arrogantly look down on families of lower stature. Especially
those obstinate members of the older generation…”
Hikari spoke with a slightly troubled expression.
“Because Onee-chan is an official Hime-Miko, in theory she should
transcend those differences in family origins and be treated as ‘Hime’
instead… However, there exists people who disagree no matter what.”
“I see. So that’s where the ‘adopted daughter’ idea comes from.”
Hikari nodded vigorously.
“Just a formal process to allow women not of high-born blood to marry
royalty and nobility. With that, the question of family stature goes away.”
“However, Yuri should be backed by the support of the History Compilation
Committee and Kaoru-san, right?”
Erica interjected as if she completely understood the situation.
“Not if a measure like adoption was not essential? In my opinion, success
should be guaranteed if these people resort to this.”
“Ah yes. It is exactly as you say. As expected of Erica-neesama.”
Hikari smiled with a giggle and replied cheerfully.
“Our family was also very surprised to find out that Onee-chan was being
officially recognized as Kusanagi Godou-sama’s partner.’ This is no joking
matter after all.”
“A-About being my partner…”
Should he be happy for Yuri or should he be concerned with the problem
at hand? Faced with this agonizing problem, Godou’s face began to twitch.
At the same time, he was feeling increasingly apologetic.
“It’s because of me that things have become so complicated. If only Mariya
had spoken out herself to let me know. Even someone like me should
perhaps start getting used to making use of my power and influence.”
“Ah, don’t worry, Onii-sama.”
Hikari smiled without concern.
“Other than when she’s lecturing, Onee-chan is a gentle person. Regarding
various issues related to family stature, or whether she would garner
jealousy because of her relationship with Onii-sama, Onee-chan does not
mind such matters. Because of that, I don’t think Onee-chan ever felt like
she was suffering.”
“That’s the Yuri I know. For better or worse, she is a girl unfamiliar with
worldly ways.”
Just as Erica nodded with a knowing expression…
Yuri and Ena — the two people in question, came out from their room, their
harmonious relationship clear to see.
As a side note, Yuri was dressed in casual wear with a white blouse, a
cherry-colored cardigan and long skirt. On the other hand, Ena was still in
her same old school uniform.
She was also dressed the same when she came to the Kusanagi
residence recently. Apparently, expecting this carefree and unfettered
Hime-Miko to choose other clothes would be quite a challenge.
“Ah… Originally I was thinking of taking everyone to watch the sunrise for
New Year’s and enjoying Yuri’s cooking, passing time in a relaxed and
casual way. Flying some kites or something.”
“Well, rice cake soup and red bean porridge can be made any time of the
year, you know.”‘- ^
“Really? Then can Ena do New Year’s duty at Nanao Shrine together with
Yuri and Hikari? Going all the way back to Chichibu would be a pain.”
Yuri smiled wryly as she comforted Ena’s depressed spirits.
“Well, rather than New Year’s, our first priority is getting through today’s
Great Purification Rite. Even Yuri hates this troublesome work, right?”
“l-lt is not really troublesome, but if possible, I would rather not
participate…”
Yuri displayed a troubled expression in response to Ena’s attempts to
recruit her as a spiritual accomplice.
Perhaps this was Godou’s first time to witness the Hime-Miko in this
manner. Just as Godou felt intrigued, the cellphone in his bag began to
vibrate. Godou took it out.
It was a call from the History Compilation Committee’s agent, Amakasu
Touma.
He had arrived to pick them up.
“Hahahah, to think that the two premier Hime-Miko are thinking of slacking
off.”
After hearing about the matter, the person laughing frivolously was
naturally Amakasu on the driver’s seat.
He was driving a minivan to pick up the Mariya sisters and Ena to
participate in the Great Purification Rite, as well as Godou, Erica and
Liliana who accompanied them.
Carrying everyone, the vehicle followed the Shuto Expressway’s loop route
to head north to the Saitama prefecture.
“The two premier Hime-Miko? Amakasu Touma, if my memory serves me
right, that should be — ”
Hearing his statement just now, Liliana spoke up.
“I remember the title of the premier Hime-Miko belongs to Seishuuin Ena
alone.”
“Yes. Up until recently, that was indeed correct. However, Yuri-san’s
powers have rapidly developed over the past half a year, and more
importantly she is also one of the Hime-Miko with the closest relationship
with Kusanagi-san. Hence, Kaoru-san said ‘Given these circumstances, it
is enough to crown her with any title for a promotion stunt’ and thus it was
decided with this reasoning.”
“1-1 had no idea all this was happening…”
As Amakasu disclosed this was what happened behind the scenes, Yuri
shyly lowered her head.
“A person of my position, is truly not worthy of such a grand title…”
“What does it matter? This is part of Kaoru-san’s open-mindedness.”
“B-Besides, for two people to hold the title of premier, that is truly a strange
use of the Japanese language.”
“Hahaha, oh well whatever.”
Yuri voiced her objections as Amakasu laughed foolishly. Sitting beside
him, Erica spoke up and questioned:
“Could this be why Yuri does not want to participate in the ceremony this
year? You’re embarrassed about the new title?”
“That is also partially the reason.”
As Yuri bowed her head deeper, Godou went “Also?” in doubt.
Snickering on the side, the driver Amakasu touched on the issue:
“I think you should understand once you get a basic view of the ceremonial
site. Well, it’s not like I don’t understand the feeling. Frankly speaking, if I
were in the same position as Yuri-san and the other Hime-Miko, even
someone like me would think the prospects suck in many ways!”
Such suggestive words.
Part 3
The shrine being used for the ceremonial site was located within the ward
of Midori-ku in Saitama city, the prefectural capital.
Although the area was quite close to the city center, this massive zone of
undeveloped greenery, covering over a thousand hectares, consisted of
farmland, mixed forests, grassy wetlands, channels across vast marshes,
preserving a spectacular and rich natural environment.
Furthermore, standing alone amidst the expanse of natural scenery was
this ancient shrine of Musashino.
The historical site was surrounded by forest and bordered a park.
Abundant but not ostentatious, the greenery provided people with a place
to rest their minds and bodies.
The deity worshiped at the shrine was Susanoo’s wife, Kushinada-Hime,
thus explained Amakasu.
Within the vast territory of the shrine, roughly fifty girls dressed in miko
outfits were gathered. They appeared quite lively as they chatted happily
with one another.
Hikari was also mixed within this group, but Godou could not find Yuri, Ena
or Sayanomiya Kaoru in their midst.
Also, standing around the various Hi me- Miko were roughly ten-odd men in
suits. They appeared to be Amakasu’s colleagues and staff of the History
Compilation Committee.
Godou and his group walked to a slightly further place to observe the
situation.
Along the way, he found Hikari looking at him with a smile. Godou nodded
in acknowledgement.
“These girls are Yuri and Ena’s comrades… All fellow Hime-Miko, right?”
Erica posed a question. Naturally, it was directed towards Amakasu.
“Yes. However, the majority are apprentice Hime-Miko like Hikari-san.
Those who possess sufficient ability to be called a real Hime-Miko…
Probably number in the twenties roughly. They are stationed as miko at
various strategic locations of spiritual power distributed across Japan.”
“Speaking of which, I recall Mariya Yuri mentioning this was a ‘festival for
miko belonging to the East.”‘
Amakasu nodded in response to Liliana’s murmurs.
“You are correct. ‘West’… Refers to a similar festival held at Shizuoka
where various miko from that region gather. On the other hand, Yuri-san is
a Hi me- Miko of Musashino, the strategic region established after Lord
Tokugawa leyasu’s entry into Edo. Basically, it covers Tokyo and Saitama,
as well as parts of Kanagawa and Chiba.”
Amakasu supplemented further to explain what the region of Musashino
referred to.
“If Kunikida Doppo-sensei^ were still alive, he’d probably throw a massive
fit to find out about this division of regions. The History Compilation
Committee was essentially defined in this non-deliberate manner. Not
counting apprentices, Hime-Miko belonging to Musashino… Probably
number seven or eight.”
The great literary author just mentioned would surely have declared angrily
that ‘Musashino only reaches the Tama River, Hachiouji does not belong in
Musashino!’
Just as this thought crossed Godou’s mind, Liliana looked over at the
Hime-Miko group and commented.
“Over in Europe, having miko potential is equivalent to possessing a
witch’s disposition. The same probably applies to the Hime-Miko as well,
right?”
“Yes. For example, if Yuri-san or Ena-san were to train seriously and
successfully reached fruition, then very likely they could turn out into a
witch like you, Liliana-san. However, the History Compilation Committee
has no wish for the Hime-Miko to cultivate that sort of power.”
“Why?”
“Specialization. In order to achieve substantial results, learning witchcraft
would require spending at least a decade studying abroad in the place of
origin, namely, in eastern or southern Europe. Besides, the Hime-Miko
have many other dispositions. For example, take Yuri-san’s spirit vision or
Ena-san’s divine possession.”
“Are they all spirit powers originating from the blood of the Divine
Ancestors?”
Liliana muttered. Amakasu deliberately winked in response.
“Oh my, did I ever mention that before?”
“No. I am simply speculating on my own. Ever since meeting Princess
Alice and Guinevere-sama, I started noticing the similarity in powers
compared to the Hime-Miko.”
“How about this? In the past, the Divine Ancestors’ bloodline was passed
down to modern Japan through their descendants.”
Hearing Liliana’s speculation, Erica inserted herself into the conversation.
“Learning of this fact through some manner, the people of that time
carefully preserved the rare bloodline of the Divine Ancestors by
influencing the marriages of the Hime, thus they succeeded in maintaining
the bloodline to modern times. — The fruits of these efforts are the
Hime-Miko, am I right?”
“Since you’ve already met those Divine Ancestor ladies, indeed, you would
notice that intuitively.”
Smiling wryly, Amakasu expressed agreement. Speaking of which, Godou
recalled a certain memory.
In the Netherworld, the Princess of Glass had told him something similar…
“Well, those who inherited the rare bloodline are the Hime-Miko indeed.
The Committee hopes to raise as much as possible their spirit powers
stemming from that blood. In this regard, Ena-san and Yuri-san can be
considered the two at the pinnacle. — Oh, here they come.”
This was the ancient shrine known as the “First Tier Shrine of Musashi
Province” in the past.
Three Hime-Miko came out from the worship hall.
Yuri and Ena, as well as Sayanomiya Kaoru.
These miko were dressed differently from usual. On top of their white
robes and hakama, they also wore a thin upper garment — the chihaya.
Their heads were also adorned with glamorous diadems and hairpins.
They stood out in stark contrast to the other Hime-Miko whose style
consisted of just the white robe and the hakama.
Also, the man’s priestly garb — Eh? Godou was taken aback by what he
saw.
There should be three Hime-Miko exiting the worship hall. Ena and Yuri
who had been bestowed the premier title, as well as Sayanomiya Kaoru
who was slated to be the next chairman of the History Compilation
Committee.
However, the last person was not dressed in miko attire. Instead, Kaoru
was dressed as a man, wearing a Shinto priest’s attire.
“Even on an occasion like this, she still cross-dresses…?”
“Well, this was her personal request, and besides, no one wants to see her
dressed as a female… All the other Hime-Miko are very pleased about
this.”
Amakasu replied to Godou’s mutters.
Indeed, Kaoru was a very popular person. As soon as she came out onto
the grounds, all the other Hime-Miko gathered delightfully before her. Like
a bunch of fans crowding around an idol.
Surrounded by these young girls, Kaoru stood out greatly as she
responded to the incessant greetings with a cheerful smile. It felt like she
could instantly get into a certain talent agency whose name started with “J”
without any difficulty at all.^
Kaoru was not the only popular one. Ena was also surrounded by the other
Hime-Miko. Likewise for the meek Yuri.
Surrounded by these lively and bustling girls, Ena was responding
uncharacteristically with a “this is so troublesome” attitude. But viewed
from another perspective, it was apparent that she was the “cool
mysterious beauty with long black hair.”
As for Yuri, it was readily apparent that she was not very used to these
kinds of situations.
Every time someone greeted her she would return the greeting solemnly,
pondering nonstop how she should respond, sometimes getting frantic
when she could not react fast enough, always standing in the same spot…
Amakasu remarked as he watched the noisy crowds of Hime-Miko.
“I guess the sight of Rosa Foetida, Rosa Gigantea, and Rosa Chinensis en
bouton would pretty much be like this…”‘- 4 -‘
“W-What is the meaning of your incantation?”
Liliana questioned the special agent who uttered suspicious words.
“Also, Mariya Yuri looks really pitiful. Is anyone going to help her — ”
“Not me. Besides, I’m pushing thirty already. So I don’t really have what it
takes to penetrate a crowd of girls ranging from teenaged to their twenties.
Ah, by the way, once these Hime-Miko reach a certain age, they are
allowed to resign from their miko duties. Once they reach that stage, they
become active as consultants for the Committee.”
As Amakasu tried to evade the question by offering useless trivia, Godou
directed a question at him.
“So this is why Mariya didn’t want to come?”
“Yes, because Kaoru-san is this kind of person, she is always popular
whether in a girls school or any other place. As for Ena-san, due to her
abilities meriting the title of the premier Hime-Miko as well as the prestige
of the Seishuuin family, she was already popular amongst the Hime-Miko
very early on. Then there is Yuri-san… Who has achieved this result
through various developments.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh dear. The Hime-Miko residing in Tokyo, Mariya Yuri-san who stands
as the partner of the Campione, Mr. Kusanagi Godou. Rumors have
spread of how she has repeatedly received favorable treatment from
various areas. Through various individuals privy to the situation, things
have been publicized amongst all sorts of people related to the world of
magic.”
Hearing that it was related to himself, Godou went “Eh” in surprise.
“And Kusanagi-san, you have been greatly active in a manner that greatly
exceeded initial expectations. Incinerating the Tokyo Tower, opening up a
crater at Nikkou, smashing the Yokohama Bay Bridge… You are the
number one celebrity and source of gossip in our field. Yuri-san is widely
known to others as the ‘woman’ belonging to this celebrity.”
“In other words, then — ”
“Those related to the field would regard Yuri-san as equivalent to the first
lady of a major country. ‘An amazing princess lives in Tokyo’ is the rumor
that has spread throughout the Hime-Miko. In the blink of an eye, her
popularity had already sky rocketed to such heights.”
Amakasu grinned as he spoke.
“Furthermore, what’s surprising is that instead of hiding behind the great
Devil King, Yuri-san is a very capable person in her own right. Also, her
powers have grown to the point where she merits the premier title. Due to
all of these various factors, this is the result.”
“B-Basically, it’s because of me…”
“Yes. Or perhaps one should say, ninety percent or so.”
Dealt a final blow by Amakasu’s smiling words, Godou felt like collapsing.
“Well… It’s not a bad idea to experience all sorts of situations beforehand,
though it is a role that doesn’t suit Yuri very well. Smiling to the guests like
the mistress of a ball.”
Erica smiled wryly as she commented.
Godou agreed with her. Perhaps —
Maybe not just Yuri, but also Erica and Liliana beside him, as well as Ena
in all her cheerfulness, all these girls might have been forced to shoulder
unnecessary hardship because of Kusanagi Godou?
Met with this notion, Godou could not help but feel rather dispirited.
Not long after that, the Great Purification Rite started.
As the ceremonial site, the ancient shrine’s surroundings had already been
sealed off by the History Compilation Committee’s staff, restricting entry for
this particular day.
The cold winter wind blew through the greenery of the mixed forest that
surrounded the vast grounds of the shrine.
These final days of December truly lived up to their name. Mercilessly cold
wind robbed the warmth from people’s skin. However, despite wearing only
a flimsy miko outfit, none of the Hime-Miko showed any reaction on their
faces.
Solemn ritual prayers were offered, followed by an elegantly flowing dance
to sacred Shinto music, the kagura.
Miko accomplished in swordsmanship wielded wooden swords for group
performances. Other miko displayed their prodigious prowess with bows
and arrows.
The focus of these rituals who made sure they proceeded smoothly were
still the trio as before.
Sayanomiya Kaoru. Together with the two premier Hime-Miko, Yuri and
Ena.
The first to wield a sword of unvarnished wood was Ena as part of the
group sword performance. Yuri on the other hand, was performing the
sacred kagura dance in the center amongst the miko. The one who led the
ritual prayers and took charge of directing everyone’s duties was Kaoru.
Godou was particularly surprised by Kaoru’s highly skilled marksmanship
with archery. Repeatedly, she shot the target’s center with spectacular
hundred percent accuracy. Now that he thought about it, Godou did recall
someone telling him that “Kaoru was equally accomplished in literary and
martial arts.”
Furthermore, other than these three, the rest of the Hime-Miko were also
participating and proceeding with the Great Purification Rite with earnest
solemnity.
The earlier commotion seemed like it was nothing but a dream. True to
their status as Hime who were carefully selected, this was a gathering of
the top elite.
Finally after two hours or so, the Great Purification Rite came to an end
without incident.
“In other words, the gathering is purely for a ritual festivities rather than a
magical ceremony.”
Liliana concluded after watching the ritual from beginning to end. Amakasu
responded wryly.
“Please don’t compare this with the gatherings of witches. This is where
the various miko gather to ritually cleanse themselves of the impurities
accumulated over the past year. This will continue to be repeated once a
year. I suppose gathering all the Hime-Miko together also has a purpose of
cultivating solidarity and harmony between them. After this, there’s the
garden party.”
“By garden party, umm, do you mean it takes place in a residence
somewhere?”
Godou reacted with surprise as he heard Amakasu’s unexpected
announcement.
“I’m serious. Let’s keep the explanation simple. That is precisely the kind of
feeling you get at the scene. In any case, this serves as a year-end party.”
“But before that… We should be doing something else, right?”
Erica pointed out in response to Amakasu’s explanation. She was
completely correct.
This was the whole reason why they made their appearance at the
Hime-Miko gathering.
After the Great Purification Rite, they were going to meet Haya Susanoo
no Mikoto — Ena’s guardian deity and the Old One who controlled Japan’s
wizardry scene from the shadows.
Godou was invited here in particular to be the witness to the occasion.
Part 4
“By mobilizing all our members of the East’s Hime-Miko to hold a Shinto
ritual, a state is achieved where all filth and evil presences in the shrine’s
vicinity are purified and driven out to a greater extent than usual. Such
circumstances allow for the descent of divine spirits from the Netherworld.”
Walking ahead to lead everyone else, Kaoru explained to Godou.
“Although Ena contacts the Netherworld occasionally through her
cellphone, nothing can be done if the Old One decides to ignore her.
Hence, if a portion of his divine spirit is summoned over here, direct
dialogue is possible.”
“If Godou is the negotiator, the other party cannot dismiss him completely.”
“Yes. Indeed that is the situation here.”
As Erica chimed in, Kaoru nodded and smiled.
Watching this scene unfold, Godou was struck deeply by this thought.
These two highly competent girls only displayed such expressions
whenever they were carrying out some nefarious scheme…
After the Great Purification Rite, Godou and his group were now heading
towards a grassy clearing neighboring the shrine being used for the
ceremonial grounds.
With Kaoru and Godou in the lead, Erica, Yuri, Liliana and Ena followed in
tow. As for Amakasu, he had already left the shrine, saying “I have
preparatory work to do for the garden party.”
“This area should be fine. Well then, Ena, and Yuri too… Let’s start.”
Walking all the way to a wide open space, Kaoru then called out to her
fellow Hime-Miko.
The two girls nodded and walked up to her. Then the three Hime-Miko
began to offer prayers.
“Hereby with humble reverence, appealing to the Great God of Susa…”
“Herein these sacred grounds of Musashino Shrine, exorcised and purified,
a stately offering…”
“To proffer endless admiration and praise to your divine grace and virtue…”
The three Hime-Miko raised their magical power as they appealed to
Susanoo for his descent. Then halfway through, Ena threw Godou a
glance. Discovering her intent, Godou relaxed himself. Residing in his right
arm, Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi — the steel that once stood as
Susanoo’s beloved sword, manifested in Ena’s hand.
“O divine blade of Ama no Murakumo. I beseech you to call for your former
master, Susa’s Old One, imploring him to manifest here in this place!”
Lending the power of the divine sword, Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi, Ena
implored her guardian deity to appear.
Immediately afterwards, gusts of wind suddenly began to rampage all
around.
Grass and branches shook as the atmosphere trembled with a great
rumble. In addition, the wild gusts of wind brought forth a merciless chill
upon Godou and his group, robbing their bodies of their warmth.
Soon after, the voice of a familiar old man was heard from the strong gusts
of wind.
‘Making such a noisy racket without end, hey.’
This voice belonged to Susanoo, the god whom Godou had faced several
times in a storm-battered mountain.
At the same time, Godou felt his body overflow with power for battle. Due
to a god — or rather, a portion descending upon the earth, Godou’s body of
a Campione’s had entered a state of battle.
‘Stop shouting nonstop to summon an old man who lives in seclusion. After
all, coming over to this side is quite inconvenient.’
Godou took a step forward and yelled at the sky.
“I’m sorry, but we have questions for you.”
‘I thought so too. Oh well, it has been somewhat amusing for me, watching
from up high as you people scurry about all over the place. That’s
something you people can’t do in the real world.’
Susanoo could barely stifle the snickering suddenly spilling out from his
simmering voice. Godou frowned.
“I knew you were playing dumb while being fully aware of everything.”
Ever since Athena’s second attack, Ena had attempted many times to
contact her “grampsy” to inquire about the “King of the End” and the
Heavenly Reverse Halberd.
However, she was completely ignored every time.
‘Hold your temper. Regarding that brat, I cannot publicize too much. A god
living in seclusion is still a god after all. Imparting knowledge from the
Domain of Immortality to the real world is prohibited. What we gods
prioritize above all else is the balance between this world and yours.’
Susanoo basically gave a vague excuse to dodge the issue.
The Domain of Immortality. A term Godou had heard mentioned a number
of times in the past. It was apparently the place where the gods of myths
resided, that was how Godou always felt the term could be understood.
Furthermore, the place where ordinary humans lived on earth was the
so-called Domain of Life…
The realm sandwiched between these two worlds was the “Boundary of
Life and Immortality.” Human magi called this realm the Netherworld or the
Astral Plane —
“However, a thousand years ago, didn’t you guys seal up that ‘King of the
End’ guy?”
‘He was not sealed. Rather, after that brat ran off to fall into deep slumber
due to exhaustion, we simply switched the location where he sleeps.
However, it is probably about time for our little trick to lose effectiveness.’
A god’s aloof tone increased in Susanoo’s voice.
‘Since things have come to this, we whose fates are predetermined should
not interfere excessively in various affairs on earth. As well as all sorts of
other reasons. Hence, Ena was ignored.’
“That’s what I thought too. Indeed, it is a course of action very much in line
with how grampsy would think!”
Hearing her guardian deity’s explanation, the Hime-Miko of the Sword
shrugged.
‘Hold your peace. Thus, Ena, you should stop pursuing this matter
henceforth. The one we have hidden away, that troublesome — that brat
shall be left for you people to handle… Oh well, as a result of the previous
round of commotion, even that brat has unambiguously conveyed his
intent to stay true to the “lazybones” title.’
Susanoo’s voice issued a stern order then became relaxed again.
‘The meddlesome outsiders not only failed to rouse that brat from his
slumber, but also caused a whole pile of messy affairs. Even so, these
kinds of fellows will continue to keep popping up!’
Outsiders — Indeed, the divine ancestors apparently still had other
comrades.
Thinking that, Godou sighed.
‘Besides, the brat should have slept for over a thousand years already. If
he were going to wake up, perhaps there is a particular time and place for
it. That is called destiny.’
“Hey hey…”
Just as Godou grumbled at these irresponsible words, Kaoru suddenly
stepped up.
Until now, everyone apart from Godou and Ena had refrained from
speaking to Susanoo in fear of his divine splendor. But at this moment,
Kaoru took action.
Under the gaze of everyone apart from Susanoo, Kaoru knelt down and
bowed her head.
“In that case, Old One, I have a matter I would like to inquire.”
‘Oh?’
“Since the Old One harbors such ideas, we have decided to look up to
Kusanagi Godou as our leader and protector henceforth, allowing us to
take action as subordinates under his banner first and foremost — That is
our humble opinion. Regarding this proposal, what are your thoughts, Old
One?”
Currently holding the title of the Tokyo Branch Chief, Kaoru was poised as
the next leader of the History Compilation Committee.
But in actual fact, her position commanded the entire core leadership of
the Committee in the Kantou region. Thus the androgynous Hime-Miko
threw out such a shocking proposal.
Erica and Liliana exchanged sharp glances while Yuri and Ena were
rendered speechless.
Speaking of Godou, he was blinking repeatedly in puzzlement. What
exactly were Kaoru’s intentions?
As for the ancient god who had descended together with violent wind —
‘Fine with me.’
A curt answer.
‘I have no interest in knowing what kinds of cliques and associations the
people on earth wish to make. If that is indeed what you mean, all I can
say is, be my guest. You people on earth, whether you wish to obey my
orders or to ignore them by relying on the god-slayer as a shield, it is a
matter up to you to decide — together with this Kusanagi Godou here.’
Downright readily, Susanoo was approving Kaoru’s proposal.
Having obtained assurance, Kaoru continued to kneel on the ground,
bowing her head deeper in reverence.
Then the wild winds rapidly weakened. The power surging from within
Godou’s body for battle also diminished. Susanoo’s divine spirit had
apparently left the location already.
“Oh dear. Say, in the past half a year, hasn’t Godou-san become our king
already in all but name?”
After Susanoo left, Ena asked “What was that about?”
Kaoru replied nonchalantly:
“Considering Godou-san’s personality, this situation isn’t going to change
substantially from now on. So in preparation for future emergencies, I think
we need to have a certain someone ascend to the throne.”
“Th-Throne?”
Kaoru winked at Godou who was shocked by the usage of that
questionable word.
“Basically, I’m referring to Godou-san’s status and position. Fighting battles
according to your will, assisting friends, sometimes bringing disaster to this
world and nation, other times offering protection instead — This is a position
only afforded to the king.”
“Then doesn’t this mean, compared to grampsy, His Majesty is even more
amazing?”
Ena commented with a happy smile while Kaoru responded with a
malevolent smile of her own.
“Compared to a god living secluded in the great spiritual world, it is only
inevitable and natural that power and influence is wielded by the king on
earth, is that not so? Oh well, this is the best decision. In preparation for
future needs.”
“Indeed that is true…”
Liliana nodded vigorously.
“If the hero of salvation really sleeps in Tokyo’s vicinity, it would not be
strange for [Heretic Gods] and other Campiones to be drawn here.”
“But Kaoru-san.”
Yuri brought up her concerns with a worried expression.
“If you move ahead with this proposal, which is tantamount to holding the
Old One’s power and influence in contempt, even ignoring those of our
generation for now, the elderly are certain to raise objections…”
“They can object as much as they want. After all, it amounts to nothing
more than grumbling.”
“Because we hold the absolute trump card, the god-slaying Devil King on
our side. For ordinary mortals, rallying resistance against a Campione
would be no different from suicide.”
Erica concluded as if summing things up.
“Because it’s Kaoru-san we’re talking about, you’re sure to take great
initiative in apparently troublesome areas.”
“Well well. However, it would be quite interesting to sweep away all
hindrances of the past to simply start a new venture in one fell swoop.”
New venture. Yet another unsettling term was mentioned.
Presumably due to the expression of unease on his face, Kaoru turned to
face Godou in his shocked confusion.
“Oh dear. In the near future, I will be using the Tokyo area as Godou-san’s
stronghold to take on the venture of building Kusanagi Godou’s kingdom.
I’m sure it will be a very interesting job. Godou-san, if you agree, may I
refer to you as GM (General Manager)?”
An excellent job indeed, Kaoru smiled as she spoke.
“B-By kingdom you mean…”
“Gathering up the talent around you, Godou, to establish a new
association. I’m fairly certain Lily and I can transfer our allegiances
smoothly. All sorts of preparations are already underway.”
“As for me, Yuri and Ena… Or even the entire History Compilation
Committee, it feels like everyone pretty much owes allegiance to the
houses of Sayanomiya and Seishuuin. Once these two families are under
control, everything goes without a hitch.”
Kaoru discussed an unsettling plan as though she were playing an
intellectual game.
In response, Liliana made an expression as if she wanted to remark
“nefarious scheming again…”
On the other hand, Ena’s eyes glowed as though she had heard about
some sort of new mischievous prank while Yuri displayed a face full of
worry.
As for Godou, he nodded in agreement with Yuri and Liliana while
expressing his regrets on behalf of the common sense faction to their
excessively radical friends.
References
1 . t Oz6ni(&$i^k): a Japanese soup containing mochi rice cakes. Strongly
associated with Japanese New Year’s, it is one of the most auspicious foods
eaten for the occasion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z%C5%8Dni
Oshiruko(35 Z): a sweet porridge of azuki beans boiled and crushed,
served in a bowl with mochi. It is loved by many Japanese, especially during
the winter.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_bean_soup#Japan
2. t Kunikida Doppo(i]7Kffl (15 July 1871 -23 June 1908) a
Japanese author of novels and romantic poetry during the Meiji
period. http://en.wi kipedia.org/wiki/Kunikida_Doppo
3. t A reference to Johnny & Associates, a Japanese talent agency that
trains and promotes groups of male
idols. http://en.wi kipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_%26_Associates
4. t Reference to Maria-sama ga
Miteru. http://en.wikipedia.Org/wiki/Maria-sama_ga_Miteru#Yamayuri_Council

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