|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3494 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1674 words|
As they walked through the city, Acadry would greet some armed men and women they passed by, probably members of the Fifty Bells Union. When they were in the inner parts of the city, people had already heard stories about Mira so they started talking to her as well, asking if she was that girl who helped capturing one of Chimera Clauzen’s members.
But there was something that caught Mira’s attention even more, adults happily walking with spirits, hand in hand. When she asked Acadry what that was about, she replied that it was a very common sight there. Some spirits and humans felt an attraction to each other, so they got together. Acadry enthusiastically declared that even if they were of different species, their love still got across.
As they conversed they kept walking until reaching the deepest part of the city. Given the ancient Kyoto appearance of the city, the place they arrived to looked exactly like the Heian Palace.
There was a roofed mud wall surrounding the palace, but the front side was open wide. The two guards posted there greeted Acadry when they arrived, and past them there were multiple buildings visible.
Acadry began talking with the guards, while Mira peeked behind them from every possible angle, her inner Japanese spirit aroused.
「Mira, let’s go to the main palace first.」
「A-alright. I’ll follow you.」
When Acadry was done talking and she gained permission to pass, she spoke to Mira while repressing a giggle seeing how excited she was acting. Mira replied by nodding with an awkward smile.
The different buildings inside the large rectangular roofed mud wall were surrounded by mud walls of their own. Mira followed behind Acadry as she took a turn. The number of people and spirits Mira saw around decreased after they crossed the gate, and the Greater Inner Palace was shrouded by a solitary air of solemnity.
Acadry took another turn to the right and they arrived at a second gate, the footsteps of the two being the only noise breaking the stillness.
Past the gate stood the main palace in all its glory. They took their shoes off at the entrance and walked down a wooden hallway until they were in front of the audience hall. There, Acadry’s duty was complete after she opened a sliding door and took some steps back before sitting on the floor.
「Go on, Mira. The Commander is waiting for you.」
「Thank you for guiding me.」
When Mira walked past the door, she encountered a large corridor. To the end of it, there was a large room with a wooden floor and white walls. There was an elongated low table in the center of the room, a cushion to sit on prepared in front of it. On the other side, there was someone already sitting, with two assistants sitting in front facing each other.
「Please sit down.」
One of the assistants told her with a smile. Mira did as told, sitting cross legged on top of the cushion
Mira sat down, with that person being in front of her. The person had purple clothes and a form of white conical hat covering the entire head. That hat covered the upper body of the person, so it was impossible to see their face. But Mira had a strong hunch that that person was the leader of the Fifty Bells Union.
(I guessed as much, but it really seems to be a former player.)
Judging from the scenery that resembled the Heian architecture she had a feeling that would be the case, and after closer inspection she was certain now.
「First of all, welcome to the headquarters of the Fifty Bells Union. I’m Uzume, the current commander of the union. And you’re Mira, correct? Thank you for your efforts in capturing that member of Chimera.」
It was still impossible to see her face through the white cloth, but her voice sounded femenine. At the same time, Uzume saw through Mira, realizing she too was a former player.
「It was nothing much. All I really did was butt in when I saw a conflict between you two.」
「You’re quite humble, I see」 Uzume said with a slight laugh.
「By the way, your letter of introduction mentioned you’re looking for someone who might be one of our members. Can you tell me more about that?」
「Yes, it was something that happened around three weeks ago. I met a shikigami protecting a spirit.」
That had been her original goal for visiting the Fifty Bells union, following the leads left by looking into the name of that shikigami in hopes it would shed light on the whereabouts of a wiseman. After a short preface, Mira narrated what happened in her way back from the Ancient Temple Nevrapolis in her way to the Requiem City of Caranach.
「Caranach, huh. Tell me one thing before I tell you what I know, why are you looking for that person?」
When Mira was done talking, Uzume asked her that. Even if Mira had gained their favor once, if she planned on harming Uzume’s comrade she would not tell her anything. But Mira wanted nothing of that sort.
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「I just want to ask them some things. I’m searching for another person as well, and I believe they might be related in some way. All I have to go off is the shikigami’s name, so everything is still a bit uncertain for me. But since that’s more than nothing, I’m just following the bits of information I can get.」
「I see, searching for one person in a quest for another. That’s quite a messy situation.」
「The person I’m looking for is also rather messy.」
Mira spoke sincerely without hiding anything, so one of the assistants turned to look at Uzume with a curious look. Uzume kept looking at Mira, as if peeping inside of her, before she relaxed her shoulders and nodded to the assistant.
「Alright, wait a moment.」
Saying that, she accepted the documents one of the assistants offered her.
「If I remember correctly, there were multiple members near Caranach during that time frame. You mentioned the shikigami was named, so that means it was an onmyoji master. That narrows it down to one of these two.」
Uzume flipped through the documents relating to their members, checking who was there during that time and finding the information about those two onmyoji masters that were present in that area.
「Oh, there are two, huh. Then is one of them the kind of person that would give a shikigami such a ridiculous name like Nyanmaru?」
If they found no one, then the conversation would have been over then and there. But there were two candidates so Mira’s chances went up. So to narrow it down, Mira finally mentioned the shikigami’s name that had brought her all the way there.
At the same time, the two assistants trembled, turning a hesitant look towards Uzume.
Uzume took the questioning role again, her voice clearly deeper than earlier. Hearing her, the assistants shook even more.
「Yeah, that’s such a simple and bizarre name without any originality. It only serves to represent one characteristic of the shikigami.」
「Well, there is someone like that. But still, is it really ridiculous? It sounds like a good name to me…」
As Uzume leafed through the documents she found one onmyoji master that used a shikigami named Nyanmaru. When Mira heard that, her spirit lifted a bit.
「Ohh, there is?! Where are they now? Can I meet them?」
「I think they’re out somewhere in Grimdrart. But seriously, is it a ridiculous name? You don’t think it’s cute…?」
Mira kept asking more things in hopes she would be able to meet that person, but Uzume seemed more focused on asking about Nyanmaru’s name, while her voice had lost its original dignified tone and sounded more girly. The commander of the Fifty Bells Union slammed her palms on the floor as she leaned forward to glare at Mira through the white cloth.
(She seems awfully hellbent on that…)
Her extremely bothered language and her annoyed behavior. Somehow they felt nostalgic to Mira, like they reminded her of someone. Looking at her for a bit longer, her figure overlapped with that of someone else.
「Just in case, I know someone who also used the names Kamekichi, Nyorozou, Piisuke and Gautarou, what do you think about those?」
「They are easy to remember and very cute, they’re lovely names! Hanamaru too!」
As Mira mentioned the shikigamis she remembered, Uzume raised her thumb adding one more. Her voice was spirited, showing she honestly meant what she was saying.
Looking straight at her, Mira thought about an unlikely but very convenient possibility.
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「The cat café siege.」
Mira muttered that like some sort of incantation. Those words were enough to bring up memories of a questionable time together with some people.
The effect of them was almost immediate. Uzume stood up like she had been hit by lightning, coughing once before silently sitting down again.
「You two, can you leave us alone for a bit?」
She said with a monotone voice. Her two assistants stood up, bowed, and left the room without making a sound.
「Mira…? Or should I say… grandpa?」
In reaction, Uzume asked the girl in front of her, thinking back on the only person who knew of those words.
(I expected this much eventually, but this is much faster than I thought it would take.)
「It’s been a while, Kagura.」
While her sensitivity to shikigami names had been a clue, the displeased way in which she struck the floor with her palms had been the definite give-away. That was one of Kagura’s habits Mira was familiar with.
The two old friends finally reunited in the deepest part of the Fifty Bells Union’s headquarters, inside the main palace built after the shape of the Daidairi in the Heian Palace.
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