I sit on the wooden patio in Momioka’s Aunt’s backyard, thinking about what I’ve just learnt.
“Want a glass of water, Anya?”
― So Mikoto III is the goddess here…
― Which concept would she have control over? Would it really be creation or death as Momioka said?
Suddenly I feel a light pressure on my face, but I pay no attention to it.
“Hehe… Anya, you home?”
― Since Momioka’s aunt is connected to the goddess, does it mean there’s a higher chance they’ll help?
I feel yet another pressure on my face, combined with a cold sensation on my hand, but I again pay no attention to it.
“So, my aunt is the Supreme Priestess.”
I raise my hand and take a sip of water while staring at the distant sky.
“And she knows magic.”
I take another sip of water and continue staring off into the distance.
“And presumably, she’s now with the goddess ‘Mikoto III’ at wherever and whatever the Spire is.”
I raise my glass again before snapping out of my train of thought and turn to Momioka as she taps on my nose.
“What are you… Wait, when was I holding a glass of water?”
“You weren’t responding to me, so I just put it next to your hands, and you grabbed it.”
“You didn’t put anything into my drink, right?”
“Is that how you think of me, Anya? I’m hurt.”
“Ah. No… Eh…”
“Hahaha, it’s a joke, it’s a joke.”
“So, what’s on your mind?”
“Too many things had happened, and it only created more questions… What do you think we should do now? Just continue training and try to search for the dojo on our own?”
“I know there’s no guarantee in this, but we still haven’t checked my school yet. Perhaps we will find more information there tomorrow.”
“Is that all we can do…? I don’t want to just sit around and wait… Do you want to return home and practice more?”
“As much as I would love that, I think I have a better idea!”
“It’s time for thy visit to the Citadel of the Gods, where you’ll be enchanted by its mythical aura.”
“Ehhh… the Citadel of Gods? Are we going back to the shrine?”
“Nay, Anya. A tour upon the sacred grounds of Academia is necessary. For you are to be prepared for thy upcoming battles.”
“Oh, about that. Could I still be enrolled in your school without your aunt here?”
“Yeah! I doubt it’s going to be a problem! Besides, I’m the Supreme Priestess’s kid after all. Heh.”
Momioka stands proudly with a smug look and her hands on her hips.
“Well, sort of… But either way, we’ll visit my aunt’s office first thing in the morning. Now, let’s go visit my campus. I’m sure you’ll love it!”.
* * *
After tidying up any mess we made in the house, we left for Mikoto Academy, which, according to Momioka, is one of the most prestigious schools in the country. With it being the best facilitated “boarding school” and achieving amongst the highest grades in the county.
It isn’t long until we arrive in front of the campus after leaving the house since it is only a short walk. Only then can I see just how gigantic the school actually is. Just by the entrance, you can see the elegant front gate and fences with vegetation fields that guard the buildings behind it.
“It begins here.”
Momioka reaches for her Nordic side pouch and pulls out a card with the word ‘Staff’ labelled on it.
“Are you sure we’re allowed to be here?”
“As long as you’re with me, all will be fine!”
“Besides, the campus isn’t truly closed. There are students and staff members living here.”
Momioka walks up the path towards the pedestrians’ gate and opens it with her keycard.
“Let the tour begin!”
After a short exchange with the campus security guards at the entrance checkpoint, we cross the T-junction and arrive at a shrine-like building that resembles a Japanese castle.
“Welcome to the school library.”
I look at Momioka, surprised that the massive structure in front of me is the school library.
“I know, it’s extraordinary, isn’t it? This was once the only building here back in the days when this was all an orphanage, and the park behind us was where their playground is.”
I look at the park behind us and see a nicely decorated plant-filled area with a fountain in the centre.
“I’ve heard from my aunt that it was even more beautiful in the past.”
“Was she also the headmistress or a teacher back when this was an orphanage?”
“I think so. I don’t really know much about her past… but I know she singlehandedly built this whole place up once she was in-changed of the orphanage.”
I look around the campus and see all kinds of buildings and structures that stretch across the hills.
“It must have taken her a lot of effort and resources to build these sacred grounds.”
“Aye, it must have!”
We look back at the library before leaving for the park behind us.
“If only the library is open right now so that I could give you a tour inside.”
“Oh, there’s always next time. Besides, it’s already quite a view from the outside.”
We soon enter the park and pass by a few benches that was surrounded by a few decorative hedges that act as a corner. We come to a stop once we reach the circular fountain as Momioka suddenly turns around and puts her hands up.
“Pick a direction, Anya.”
“Do you want to go up the stairs between the library and the park or to those buildings on the left behind the library? Or we can continue going forward.”
“Let us continue moving forward! To the administration offices!”
We walk through the park and continue moving towards the buildings to the right of the campus, passing a short pathway by the trees which divides the two large buildings to the park. The Administration offices, as Momioka mentioned, is a long rectangular building with a drop-off zone by the entrance. There is a bridge that connects it to an L-shape building which is supposed to be the school shop and staff offices. And much to Momioka’s annoyance, the school shop is currently closed for me to get my own set of uniform.
“Why is it closed…”
“Don’t worry, we can get it later. For tomorrow, I can just use my illusion trick on top of my normal clothes as long as you can show me how the uniform looks.”
“I… I think I have a set of normal uniform…”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing… Let’s move on!”
We soon pass through the courtyard in between the buildings and arrive at the staff parking area, where there are a couple of golf carts like vehicles with solar panels on the roof.
Momioka hops in one of the two-seated golf carts and signals me to sit next to her.
― Surely, she doesn’t have the keys to the vehicle, right…
“Come on, Anya! Don’t worry, these are self-driving ones!”
I reluctantly hop into the passenger seat as Momioka activates the vehicle with her staff’s keycard. She starts pressing the monitor on the dashboard until the word “Manual Mode” pops up on the screen
“But I’m not gonna use it.”
Momioka floors the accelerator pedals before I can react, and we start racing out of staff parking towards the main road.
“Calm down, Anya! I know how to drive these. But hold on tight. I just don’t have a license. Hahah!”
I hold tight to railings and create seatbelt-like bindings for myself and Momioka on the bench.
― It’s good that the roads are empty today.
Once we reach the main road, we turn left and continue our path towards the rightmost side of campus. Soon, we came to a halt in front of a garden next to the staff parking. Opposite the park is a road going downhill to what seems to be a more secure part of campus.
“Where does that lead to, Momioka?”
“Oh, that’s the daycare, kindergarten and elementary school.”
I slowly turn my head towards Momioka.
“Anya? Anya, why do you look mad?”
Knowing she can’t feel pain, I strike down at the top of her head with my hands like a blade.
“Are you telling me you have been driving recklessly next to where the children are?”
“…There shouldn’t be anyone in those buildings now… They are in their dorms area over there.”
Momioka points towards the buildings at the end of the road.
“It doesn’t matter. Drive safer, or we’re walking.”
I get off the car and look toward the buildings downhill. There’s a large building near the security checkpoint where we entered with stairs leading back up to the entrance next to the building.
“That’s the club rooms for the elementary school students. That’s just their sports field. And those two buildings in front of us are their classrooms. Over there, on the other side of the carpark, is the kindergarten and daycare. The oval building with the courtyard is the kindergarten, and the rectangular structure by the entrance is the daycare!”
After a while, Momioka hops back into the golf cart.
“Let’s go, Anya. We still have much to visit.”
I return to my seat hesitantly as Momioka starts driving again. When we reach another T-junction in front of the Children’s dormitory, we turn left towards a long road which leads towards a ramp going to the upper part of campus. While driving down the road towards the ramp, there is something quite interesting behind the garden by the staff parking.
“There’s a waterfall here…”
“Yeah, the wooden platform around it is quite a popular hangout spot. Oh, and I’ve heard that the waterfall leads into a cave where you can see it with the glass floor of the Children’s dorm.”
“Why am I not surprised.”
“Oh heh. There’s even more up ahead if you think this is already too much for you.”
On the way up the ramp and around the U-shape road curve up the hill, I see some massive glass windows in the cliff’s wall with what seems to be water behind them.
“Hey Momioka, are you going to tell me this is an aquarium here?”
Once we reach the top of the ramp, Momioka stops the vehicle and looks at the colossal building behind us.
“Oh no, the aquarium is on the other side of the campus. That is the dive centre.”
“You know, scuba diving.”
“That building is called the ‘Water Sports Simulation Centre’, but really that’s just the indoor beach, with some other facilities like the Dive Centre and the artificial hot spring.
“And umm hah, there’s a long bridge behind the building that leads to what we called the ‘Igloo’. Want to guess what it is?”
“Just tell me.”
“It’s the indoor ski park and ice rink.”
I lean back onto my chair.
“Are you sure you didn’t bring me to a resort or something?”
“Haha! That’s how my school is!”
― How do people even concentrate on their studies here…
We continue driving up to the top of the campus not long later, passing by the indoor sports centre to my right and a baseball field to my left after turning a corner. Soon, we enter a tunnel where it leads to yet another T-junction. After turning right, we finally reach the tunnel exit and arrive at the second highest part of the campus.
“This must take a very long time to just walk to class from the entrance.”
“Yep. It’s a lot of stairs, and there are even more stairs in the school buildings.”
After parking the campus vehicle in the lower carpark next to the nurse’s office, we start walking towards the school dormitory located at the highest part of campus. It was a short walk until we stop by the stairs and look up at the cluster of buildings.
“Those buildings are the school dormitory with the entertainment centre next to them, and there’s also an Onsen by those building too.”
“There’s two of them?”
“Two of them? Oh, the hot spring at the indoor beach is mixed-gendered, and you must wear clothes provided by the staff there. And the one up there is more traditional, and it’s separated.”
“And I’m guessing there’s also private bathrooms in the dorms as well?”
We then continue our journey, crossing the park with the pond in front of the staff housing and reaching another long bridge.
“Oh, this bridge connects all the way to the shrine. It’s a nice walk, but it is decently long.”
Leaving the bridge, we circle back to the nurse’s office, passing the enormous dining hall and arrive at the stairs that lead to the indoor sports centre and dojo where you can participate in sports like kendo, archery, fencing, rock climbing and many more. There is a stream that flows to the waterfall located under the two wooden bridge that connects the indoor sports centre and the indoor beach.
“Now Anya. It is time for you to visit the great classrooms of mine!”
Momioka runs ahead of me until she reaches the main entrance and turns around.
“Come on, Anya! We’re almost there.”
― Someone sure is extremely excited.
Suddenly, Momioka appears in front of me, grabs me by my hand and quickly drags me towards the school building without any warning. She lets go of my hand once we arrive at the main door. As soon as she turns around, I glare at her, giving her the widest smile I can make.
Momioka chuckles at me before I let out a sigh and lightly taps on her head.
“Calm down. We have all day.”
I look around the courtyard before the entrance and then follow Momioka into the building once she opens the door with her keycard.
The main school building is made up of five buildings connected via hallways and bridges at the far ends of each side. Sandwiched by the four rectangular buildings, two on each side, is the centre building – the building I’m in right now. It is shaped like three buildings of the same size stitched together to form the Cyrillic letter “П”.
Once we enter the school, we are instantly greeted by the shoe lockers where Momioka instantly darts to hers to the left and opens it with the staff keycard.
― So, the staff keycard she has is a skeleton key. Who decided to give her this much power… Hmm?
I look at Momioka, who’s staring at her locker for a while. When I walk closer to her, she slams the door shut instantly.
“Eh… I think I might have left my shoes at home. Heh…”
“But don’t you worry! I know where the extra indoor shoes are stored. Come, take off your shoes here and let’s go get them!”
I take off my shoes and follow Momioka towards a room without a label by the entrance. Momioka again uses her keycard and enters what seems to be the supplies room. She quickly ran to the corner of the room, grabbing shoes of her size and fitting me with a pair.
“You can keep those. They are for guests who visit the school, so we have hundreds of them stored here.”
“Our shoes should be safe by the entrance for today, so let’s go to my classroom!”
The five buildings are separated into seven sections. The middle section is the shoe lockers on the first floor and the staffrooms on the second and third floors. The other six are the classrooms, with the three sections on the right being the junior high school and the three sections on the left being the high school.
I follow Momioka up the leftmost building to her classroom on the top floor. When we arrive in front of the classroom labelled 3-1 by the end of the hall, Momioka freezes for a second before opening the door.
“Hey Anya, can I ask you a favour and wait here for a short while until I tell you to come in?”
“Ehh… Sure, I guess.”
I stand by the door waiting for her signal until suddenly, she pops her head out of the sliding doorway.
“Can you move a little more down the hall? I can’t reach the back corner of the classroom.”
“Oh yeah, sorry.”
Momioka disappears back into the classroom again while I keep an eye on the borders of our rings. It isn’t long until a lot of noise starts coming from the inside of the classroom.
“Are you okay in there?”
“Yeah! Just a minute.”
A couple of minutes had passed until Momioka calls for me.
“You can come in now! Sorry to keep you waiting.”
I walk into the classroom and see Momioka slowly making her way towards the opened broom closet at the back of the classroom with a cloth and a spray bottle.
“What are you doing?”
“I was cleaning! I want the classroom to be in perfect shape for you to witness!”
“You don’t have to, Momioka.”
“Hahaa! But I wanted to!”
There are 36 student desks in total with six in each row and column. And amongst all the clean desks in the classroom, two seem to be more reflective than the others; The one next to Momioka by the back corner of the classroom next to the window and the other in the fourth position of the next row.
“Is that desk next to you yours?”
“This? No, it belongs to Lukkas.”
“A friend of yours?”
“Nay, I barely know him. He isn’t the most sociable.”
Momioka walks over to the other table with the more reflective surface and slams her palms on it.
“But… this one’s mine!”
I walk over to Momioka as she sits on her chair and looks around the room.
“I wonder which table the teacher will assign you tomorrow. I think you might be sitting at the back.”
“Ah, of course.”
Momioka suddenly starts whispering and waving her palm back and forth, calling me to come over.
― I don’t… I don’t trust this…
I reluctantly lean towards Momioka as she puts her hands in front of her mouth.
“Do you know the classrooms are sorted out by the abilities of the students, with three in each set? Remember, you didn’t hear this because it’s not true. Hehe!”
I return to my previous position and look at Momioka.
“Momioka, there’s no one here but us…”
“Hehe, I know.”
I let out a sigh and look at the opened door.
“… So, there’re two sets on each floor then?”
“Yep, I know a really close friend in the next set! His name is Ryo Kurosaki. I’ll introduce you to him tomorrow! Heh! So, what do you think of the school so far?”
“It is… enchanting indeed, and the environment here is quite delightful. But I’m still not convinced this is a school.”
“Well, we’ll just have to keep the tour going then!”