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─── 'Spirit Train Sun Thousand' - Pocket Stage Wagon.
Exclusive lounge for the Divine beings.
It was a pocket wagon of the highest cla.s.s, brightly illuminated by the dazzling candle lamps and filled with smoke rising from an incense censer. Tiny fire spirits drifting around the candles were spreading the smoky haze throughout the wagon’s inside turning the atmosphere slightly eerie, more akin to serpent’s abode than a divine peach blossom spring.
That smoke wasn’t there just for its enjoyable fragrance but also to help obscure the pa.s.sengers’ ident.i.ty from the surrounding people. Those who, due to various circ.u.mstances, shouldn’t be seen by others in Little Garden, where G.o.ds gathered, were not a few. Not to mention that this was the central part of the amus.e.m.e.nt center where compet.i.tion for the Sun Authorities took place.
Meaning, this was a location where Hosts and Sponsors, those who bestowed Gifts on their chosen heroes and heroic individuals before having them compete, gathered.
This unearthly section of the Spirit Train was where ‘Queen Halloween’ and her lord-butler Scathach were quietly enjoying black tea.
“It appears to have begun, Queen.”
“So it does.”
“Was that really fine? Dividing Ayato’s group like that? I thought it would be better to have that girl regain some of her battle senses through combat.”
Homura and his group, having been summoned into the stage wagon, were being projected inside the viewing crystal at the center of the lounge. Naturally, Ayato and Suzuka were not among them.
Queen took the teacup away from her lips and turned her gaze towards the VIP carriages.
“All is as it should be. After all, there is someone those kids have to meet first.”
“Someone they have to meet? Would that be Kasukabe You?”
“Indeed. They shall not lose a thing by encountering the owner of the Genome Tree as soon as possible. And she is one of the winning candidates as well... One that is not completely unrelated to either Homura or Ayato.”
This drew a chuckle out of Scathach. “You have not seen it fit to share any of your knowledge of that so I can say nothing. I will trust the judgment of Queen. ...Oh, it is starting.”
The starting gong sounded the same moment Scathach raised her face.
Queen, on the other hand, didn’t spare a single glance to the scene in the crystal, opting instead to resume drinking her rather pleasantly smelling tea. It was likely she had no interest in the outcome of the bout. It was just an exhibition match after all, hardly anyone would go all out in one of those.
Scathach, however, had a serious expression on her face and was watching intently.
The games started with bronze-winged monster birds popping into existence one after another and then rus.h.i.+ng in the direction of the Players, Homura’s group.
The butler could hear the Saigou’s frustrated scream from inside the crystal.
“W-wai... Tokuteru! You better take responsibility and do something about this mess!”
“I know, I know. Uesugi! Deal with the birds, please. I’ll take care of finding the essential beast we need for a clear!”
“I shall not.”
“Okay. Let’s... Wait, what?!”
“I am under no obligation to partic.i.p.ate in the repayment of your debt. No matter how weakened you may be, you should still be able to sweep them away in one blow, so deal with this by yourself. I will stay here and protect Saigou Homura.”
Uesugi punctuated her answer with a hmph and then looked the other way.
Perplexed Tokuteru, seeing that there would be no way around it, faced the enemies and groaned in frustration.
“Fine then! Homura! You start searching for the beast instead!”
“Hah?! Me?! How!?”
“Use your ‘Proto Idea’ and you should find out quite quickly! ...Here they come!”
Tokuteru took out his Vajra and challenged the bronze-winged monsters, the Stymphalian birds out of the Greek Pantheon that were famous for the deadly poison in their breath. It didn’t seem like that would be used here though. This was just an exhibition so no deadly force would be employed.
That being the case, Tokuteru too decided against lethal weapon and made the Vajra extend into the shape of a longstaff.
Not like a sword would help, the hard metal wings of the monsters would repel any normal blade anyway... Tokuteru, however, simply smashed one end of the staff down on a bird’s head with a fluid, relaxed motion.
There was a fierce sound, a shriek of the bird, and the bronze wings bent under the force of the blow. It was a simple, strong swing, no fancy techniques involved. The Stymphalians, normally using their metal wings for protection, were not adapted to dealing with strong blows to their actual bodies.
So he merrily continued to knock down the birds one after another in this manner.
Then there was Arjuna who rained down arrows of lightning from his Divine Bow.
Seeing how he hunted his targets with rapid attacks that used the minimum amount of movement, Scathach judged that the archer wasn’t even using a tenth of his true power.
( Hmm, so it ended up being a match of the parsimonious as it was always going to. As expected, the true power of the Indian G.o.d’s son is not something I can measure. )
While the butler brooded, Arjuna continued to take down monsters with his highly efficient movements.
In actuality, the Stymphalians were not an easy to handle opponent. Not that easy, at least.
The belonged to the domain of Ares, the G.o.d of War of the Greek Pantheon, and they traced their ancestry all the way back to a Divine-Bird-like eudemon. If they started to employ their trump card, the poison breath, even the DemiG.o.d Arjuna would find them a challenge.
This being the exhibition match sealed that ability and made all the difference.
( Well, sealing their poisonous breath was the correct decision either way. It would be impossible for Stymphalians to fight against that War G.o.d and his son in a battle to the death. )
Indra’s Spirituality may have been diminished, but it wasn’t to the point that he would be having trouble with those birds.
The same was true for Arjuna. He seemed to be still in the middle of adjusting to his new body after a long slumber but he was easily and effortlessly seeping the opponents away.
If he felt like it, he could wipe out all the monsters in an instant.
Since he did not, they were merely falling down one after another under the incoming bolts of lightning.
That being the case, the audience’s attention s.h.i.+fted to the process of clearing the game.
The Stymphalian Birds were unrelated to the Sun Authority and no matter how many of them fell, the game would not be cleared. The beast that was the actual target should be lurking somewhere outside the crystal’s field of view.
If the Players underestimated this game as some sort of demonstration, there would be in for serious pain.
( This may be a Pseudo-Game, but it is not something that can be solved just by defeating some monsters. Without the knowledge of Sun Authorities, one is not going to manage a clear. )
The thought left the butler amused and she folded her arms.
At that moment, a lively voice of a girl could be heard from beyond the curtains of smoke.
“S-So... Much... Smoke! It’s too much! Bull Demon King, there’s too much smoke in the air here!”
“Do calm yourself Kurma. The haze feels quite on point.”
“This Dragon in the guise of the beautiful Kuu-chan doesn’t share that feeling at all! Where is this place, actually!? Is there no one to bid us welcome?! To be treated in a such cruel manner after I traveled all this way due to s.h.i.+royasha’s invitation... Makes me feel like spitting poison as I have done in the days past!”
The girl, now half-crying, kept whining about the haze. The smoke that was supposed to obscure the patrons’ ident.i.ties had lost its purpose now and Scathach was quick to notice who was approaching. However, she had ignored the newcomer and focused her attention back to the viewing crystal.
Only to be startled by Queen smacking her teacup down onto the plate with a very inelegant noise.
“...s.h.i.+royasha? She has already returned then?”
“Hmm? Ah, indeed. She is the champion of the previous Sun Authority War after all. You would be able to meet her if you just went to the administrative headquarters wagon, but...”
“Do tell me such things faster next time.”
Queen followed those words by standing up, her long, golden hair fluttering elegantly around her. Seeing someone who usually treated everything beyond the tea time with disinterest stand up made Scathach open her eyes wider in surprise.
The butler didn’t manage to say a word though, Queen had more to say.
“Scathach. You, Lord Butler Scatach, should go to Ayato’s side. It should not take long to have them join up in the stage wagon from the VIP carriage.”
“That can be done, but what about you, Queen?”
“I will play with s.h.i.+royasha for a bit.”
Having said that, Queen disappeared with a quiet “be seeing you.”
Scathach had an astonished expression on her face, as she watched her go.
Not many a person could meet s.h.i.+royasha, the feared King of the White Night and the most recent winner of the Sun Authority War of the far past.
After all, the person in question was the highest-ranking Celestial Spirit of the material world, one in charge of the revolutions of the Sun. Even if both of them were Celestial Spirits of the Sun and Demon Lords, King was in most aspects a polar opposite of Queen who governed the Celestial Boundaries.
Going out of her way to meet a supposed natural enemy was an unusual way for Queen to initiate one of her games. Unless she happened to have another goal in mind.
Regardless of the reason, Scathach found the development highly amusing and hid the smile under a hand.
( s.h.i.+royasha and Queen... To think that those two were actually close. )
It was a relief to learn that, given her nasty personality, Queen actually had a friend. Usually, people with no power would not dare approach her carelessly as her immense Spirituality caused fear in them.
This was not a problem when it came to s.h.i.+royasha though.
It also put Queen’s habit of occasionally disappearing from the castle without a word in a new light. It made the butler a little glad to know that she could have been meeting with her friend at those times.
( If I recall correctly, the time limit of this game was thirty minutes. As things stand, they might still be there tomorrow. Well, it seems they weren’t prepared at all. I guess I’ll just overlook the day’s events )
And so, Scathach started walking towards Ayato.
The gong signaling the end of the Game followed right in her footsteps.