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We observe the rain outside the palace from this gallery type room that overlooks the market.

"Hmmm... this place really got ruined, didn't it?" I say to no-one in particular.

"There was a lot of fighting here, yes?" Kaede adds, finger to her lips.

"Kali did not see this place before, but it been has sapped of life. Places have a spirit too, the Meenaora says. And this one is like Void spirit." Says Kali.

It’s true. The main street beyond is quiet and eerie. People shuffle along quietly and morosely, keeping to themselves, where there was once a lively bustle.

Though it is clear that several clean-up operations have already occurred, the city feels wounded.

"We were too late after all..." I sigh.

"Do not beat yourself up, boy. We have been moving forwards all the time. It is merely that Cultivator continues to bound ahead. It is a clear move to combat morale." Seria notes, sat next to me, twiddling her twintail whilst reading a scroll she found somewhere.

"Eh wot... it’s just evil. A soldier who cannot trust they are keeping their home and family safe feels worthless." Kiku looks angrier than I've ever seen her, flexing her fist.

"Isn't that precisely the point, Kiku?" Rishya raises both her hands in a surrendering posture.

"Fucking bollocks. It is. But even so. Even so." Kiku stomps.

"Speaking of which, don't you two want to go and see your family?" I ask Rishya and Kiku.

We heard that Yuuzu had come to capital following Kurono. It would be interesting to see them again.

Kiku shakes her head. "I'll wait for Aria. Kako is very busy being the Princesses aide right now. And Dad is helping with the clean-up. It’s not the time for fun."

"Hmmm... Yuuzu and grandfather have better things to do right now. And of course, I will also wait for Aria. I should have gone with her, honestly, but... but this is something she needs to do alone with her sister I think."

These girls are so tough. I really admire that. I also really wanted to go with Aria but had the same thoughts as Rishya.

Even so, there is general sense of vexation in the room. To an extent, we're all to blame for playing around a bit too much. Could we have done things differently? Probably not... but everyone is somewhat affected by that seed of doubt.

Aria went off with Melody to the Royal Mausoleum to see her older brothers tomb and then visit her father's sick bed.

When she heard, I don't think she could believe it. Neither did I. It’s actually looking at this scene that's really making it sink in for me.

So much for having a year or so. Its barely a couple of months and the capital has already been sacked.

Well, it could have been worse. There was a clear goal in the invasion, so it left a swath of destruction in the city centre and marketplace, but the outer districts are mostly untouched. The impact was amplified by the timing, surprise, and the unfortunate congregation of people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Melody waking up was a mixed blessing, though I'd not tell Aria that.

//I'd agree, boy//

I look up in surprise. Seria's gaze is fixed on me. Right. Been awhile since did her Sage mind tric... actually she's probably doing it all the time she looks into my eyes.

//Ufufufu//I told you before//It’s not something//I use superfluously//

//I only have your word//To go on with that//

I smile wistfully whilst enunciating my reply more coherently.

//Ooh//Fun//Electric!//Talking//Whatc'ha//Doing!//Is it funsies?//Tell Aeris!//

Electric talking?

Seria gets an actual eye twitch at Aeris suddenly getting involved. Then she sighs.

"Boy, I'm honestly staggered at how quickly that spirit of yours works things out considering how she presents herself."

Seria suddenly saying something strange out of nowhere startles the other girls briefly, though Rishya shakes her head as she apparently understands quickly. Which, by the way, clues me into the fact that she probably communicates mentally with Seria a fair bit.

"How I present myself? Aeris is cute? Cute and clever! Best spirit!"

She talks as a sword at this point, laid out carefully on a lush sofa by herself. But I blink for a second, and there is a metallic girl there, who leaps up and starts pirouetting on the spot to emphasise the cute part. The sofa cushions sink considerably under the new weight and make an ominous creaking noise.

"She's still working on her modesty, though." I retort with a shrug and a wry smile.

"Muddy sty? Isn't that for piglets? I'm a sword, not a swine, master-sama." Aeris giggles.

What.

Kiku suddenly bursts into laughter.

"You wot? Fuck me, Nii, your sword like stupid puns as much as you do."

"Wellll... they say a man’s 'weapon' reflects his personality." Rishya giggles with an 'ohoho' type inflection.

"I think that is a discussion of Aniki's sausage again, though? Little Rish and Kiku sure love sausage!" Kali exaggeratedly exclaims.

"As if you can talk, Deli-Kali! I heard all about you from Kaede." Rishya replies.

"Gah... defeated by sausage wielding ninjas once more! The deli-kali-tessen is robbed! Pillaged!" Kali plays dead suddenly.

I think Kali would actually make a good actress... actually... no a stand-up comedian who did sausage jokes and martial arts routines... wouldn't that be amazing?

Seria is so wide eyed at this exchange... and probably also reading my thoughts, you'd think her eyes would pop out. Kaede is laughing as well.

As the girls frankly, hilarious exchange continues I just don't know what to say. I think Aeris is gradually being influenced by everyone. Much like a child would be, I suppose.

I guess that’s one way to clear the air.

'Un! Too much static. Stuffy air. Needed grounding, right?' Aeris' voice communicates to my head. She is silently smiling now.

You really are a cute and competent spirit, you know?

'Ehehehe. Aeris knows Aeris is brilliant.'

'You could still work on that modesty though.'

She sticks out her copper red tongue.

Sadly... the mirth doesn't last forever.

There is a knock on the door. Ser Kako strides in, looks around at the girls, partially paused dead in a catfight of sorts.

"Hmmm. Princess Aria isn't here, then? I suppose she has run off somewhere after all." Kako says, deadpan.

Well. Seems my summoner is missing. That won't do. That won't do at all...

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A note from Social_Knight

It's probably a secret Aeris chapter. Doesn't it seem like she's getting smarter all the time? Who needs this 'Muddy-sty'? XD

Seria's mind tricks turn out to be electrical after all... I wonder how she does that?

And oh noes, Aria is missing?!?


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About the author

Social_Knight

  • UK
  • Purveyor of dubious medicinal snake oils [since 1885]

Bio: A strange englishman with an unusual degree of ambivalence over tea, he is a second-generation nerd, and the unfortunate owner of a berserk, leaking imagination that occassionally requires vomiting up as new designs for games and worlds. He limped through university on a humanities degree, and though he often expected a career surrounded by paper, he did not expect that paper to be mostly forms and meeting minutes full of content so dross it could bore you to tears. On the other hand, being in the civil service does teach valuable life skills, like the ability to turn a single concept into fifty-seven pages of content, something which synergises surprisingly well with more creative forms of writing as long as it is restrained. Also the creator of an Anime RPG called Aniventure, and the writer of Yuusha Youjo on this site. Praise be! Or something...

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Gelcube
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Gelcube @Gelcube ago

Thanks for the chapter!

Oh noes! Aria is missing. Time to summon the Summoner. Super Summon Powers, ACTIVATE!