Once we tidy up the classroom to its original state, we decide to continue our journey through campus. We first return to the main building where the shoe lockers are and exit through the back door to the school assembly and sports hall behind the junior high school buildings. After a quick tour of the sports hall, we leave for the building to the left of it.
“This is where all the club rooms and the Art labs are.”
“Yeah, it’s not really the ‘Art labs’, but this is where the art rooms, photography lab, animation labs, the computer labs, fashion labs, food and cooking lab, screening room, music room and any non-science-based labs since that’s in the next building, the ‘Science Labs and Research Centre’.”
“Do you spend a lot of your time here then?”
“Yeah! Here and another place which I’ll show you later. But now, come! I’ll show you the labs I spend most of my time in!”
Momioka grabs onto me again and drags me towards the back of the building through the halls of labs and club rooms, passing one of the outdoor corridors to the science labs.
― There’s no stopping her, is there?
Once exiting the back of the building, we walk through a path surrounded by trees and other plants, which leads deeper into the forest where some buildings are. Soon we arrive in the middle of those buildings where some tables are covered in spray paint.
“Welcome to the fabrication centre! Amongst the few computer rooms here, we have the Woodshop over there in front of us, the Metal Shop is right next to it, and that over there is the laser cutting and 3D printing lab! This is where I crafted most of my things!”
“Are students just allowed to use these anytime they want?”
“As long as they are supervised and have gotten the certificate from the shop training classes.”
I look at the buildings that seem to form an arch shape together and then back to Momioka.
“It’s nice and quiet today since it doesn’t open Sundays. Usually, all you can hear is the large dust collector for the Woodshop and people using the outdoor Metal Shop. Today’s a great day for a tour!”
“Is there usually this calm on campus on Sundays? There don’t seem to be many students around the campus today.”
“Yeah, the students and teachers are usually out of campus or in their dorm areas. Sometimes, you might be able to see them in the parks or sports fields here. Speaking of which, let’s go visit the school’s sports district!”
“Yep! So, let’s change back into our shoes, and onwards we go!”
We return to where we left our shoes, but before reaching the backdoor of the main classroom building, Momioka stops and looks to her right, where there is yet another long bridge by the science building.
“Oh, Anya. Do you remember the aquarium we talked about before?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“It’s more like an aquatic research facility than an aquarium, but that’s the bridge to it. As well as to the school farmlands and greenhouse.”
I look off in the direction where the aquatic centre is.
“I guess that’s nice… Do you use those facilities in Bio class then?”
I look back at the primary school building in front of us, where I left my shoes.
“Oh, by the way, Momioka, what do we do with these shoes then? Are we just going to carry them around after changing out of them?”
“Ehhhhmmmm… Heh… it never… Eh… occur to me that… this would be… a problem…”
I let out a sigh as Momioka turns her head away.
“Umm… I think there are some empty shoe lockers near the back. Let’s put ours in those if we find them. If not, we can leave it in the supplies room for now.”
Momioka uses her skeleton key to open a few lockers until she finds an empty one for me.
“Found one! You can put yours here.”
Even after finding a free locker for me, Momioka still continues to open other lockers around mine.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to find another for myself.”
“Don’t you have your own locker?”
“Oh yeah, but I’m going to bring my own pair tomorrow, so I need another locker for now.”
As I take off my shoes and slip them into my locker, Momioka finds another empty one for herself.
“So, how did you get that keycard?”
“Oh, this? Some members of the Student Council have access to something like this.”
“You’re on the Student Council?”
“No. My aunt gave me this so I can access her and other things in case of an emergency.”
“And before you say anything, Anya, this is very much an emergency!”
We put on our shoes in the next aisle and soon leave for the school’s “Sports district”. Once we pass through the courtyard in front of the main building, we walk down some stairs where it leads to the baseball field we had passed by earlier. The tennis courts are next to it, placed between the baseball field and the athletics track & sports field.
“This is the sports district. Here are the basic sports fields for track & field, baseball, tennis, and football. All the equipment for these sports is in the sports storage room behind the baseball field.”
I look at the sports shed in the far corner next to the stairs down to the school library by the football pitch where some students are playing a game.
“Let’s keep going down, Anya.”
I follow Momioka down towards the outdoor pool next to the football pitch, and right next to the pool is yet another long bridge that connects to somewhere else.
“So let me guess, that bridge leads to another massive sports building.”
“No, there’s no massive building this time! That’s where the Sports Village is. Either than just having more fields out there, there’s also the stables and horse track as well as the bike and stake park! Not to forget about the Go-kart track too!”
“… You got any more surprises?”
“Yes! Let me bring you to the place I spend all my time in!”
― Oh… Here we go again…
Momioka rushes down the stairs between the football pitch and outdoor pool as I follow closely behind her. Once Momioka arrives in the centre of the two big buildings, she halts and turns around firmly with her right hand pointing to a building on my left with the palm facing down and her right hand in front of her eyepatch.
“Welcome to Niðavellir, the home of the greatest weapons made. The halls of which the gods gaze upon us gymnasts, battling for the greatest show within this sanctuary. Feast thy eyes on my abode, Anya, as thou art to witness the glory of the ‘Gymnastics Arena & Display Hall’!”
“So, this is where you learnt and mastered your gymnastics?”
“Aye! Come on in! I need to show you the interior!”
I follow Momioka and enter the stylish stadium-shaped building with curved edges, wavy horizontal fins, and glass walls. It is a short walk until we reach the second-floor sitting area.
The main display hall reminds me of the arena where I had won the World Kendo Championships in Tokyo. But instead, the long floor is covered with gymnastic equipment like trampolines, balance beams and floor mats under the high ceiling. There is a black divider curtain hanging from the top centre of the arena which is currently not in use to split the venue in half. By the right side of the drapes are massive LED display screens that seem to be indicating that is the main display hall where the audiences sit. While on the side, after the seats start to curve in and end to a part with a more blockish design seems to be showing that is for the performers and staff members to prepare offstage.
“The magnificent sight in front of thee is where most of my performances and practices take place. This arena is usually used for gymnastic exhibitions, but because of its expansive volume and the flexible nature of the design, we also allow the display hall to host other sporting events or concerts if they so please since outside performers are also allowed and could be invited to perform here.”
“Were there any kendo competitions ever hosted here?”
“Sadly, there isn’t. Let’s say our school’s kendo team isn’t that… phenomenal. But with you here, I’m willing to share my stadium with you!”
― Maybe it is good to start from somewhere again… But…
“We should not get too comfortable with being on campus. I only promised for you to continue with your studies, for your future. We aren’t here to relax and enjoy school life, okay? And remember, once we found a way to my sister, we are leaving, no buts.”
“… Okay. And as promised, I’ll train as hard as I can to recuse your sister!”
“Now then, the only thing left for you to visit is the theatre opposite this building, but I think some students are rehearsing for a play if my memory serves me right. So, we’ll do a quick tour from the outside instead. And after that, we go home, train, and try out some uniforms for tomorrow.”
Once we exit the building, we walk towards the theatre which is also where the Dance and Drama classrooms are, according to Momioka. Once we arrive at theatre, we move towards the door to the backstage area and peek into the stage. There are some students walking around on stage reciting their lines; the boys are either in baggy, ripped clothes or in nice black coats, while the girls are wearing long dresses underneath their aprons.
“Puritans outfits? What play are they doing?”
“I think it is called ‘The Crucible’ by-”
“Oh? You know of it?”
“Yeah, I read it once before. It’s about-”
“The Salem witch trials! There’s Abigail Williams, and that’s John Proctor! If I ever go to Massachusetts, which there might be a chance, I know where I would go first!”
“The magic grounds of Salem, right?”
― Think someone’s missing the point…
“Now that I know magic is real. Who knows if there were actual witches in America or not?”
― She’s… right…
“History won’t be as we learnt, Anya. Asgard or Mount Olympus could be real. Maybe there’s even an answer for the Stonehenge or The Great Pyramids!”
I stand still and think about what Momioka had said when suddenly Momioka grabs onto my hands again.
“Someone’s coming; we have to go!”
Momioka and I start running away from the theatre, and we soon end up back at the school library opposite the Security & Post Office by the school entrance.
“And that concludes thy visit to the Citadel of the Gods. Were thou enchanted by the mythical aura?”
“Very much so. Though, I could say this campus is overbuilt.”
“Noo… It’s perfect.”
“Whatever you say.”
“Now, shall we head back and continue with our other plans of the day?”
“Let the training commence!”
* * *
On the way home, we pass by the florist Momioka mentioned and buy some Blacknight Hollyhock and gardening decors for the hole we made from the duel earlier today. Once we return to Momioka’s room, we rest for a short while until we walk down to the backyard and continue our training behind my illusion snapshot.
After a few hours of practice until sundown, Momioka has a quick dinner with her father and returns to her room with some of the extra food for me. As soon as I finish my food, Momioka instantly gets up and opens her closet.
“The trial for the uniforms has finally begun!”
Momioka reaches into her closet and searches for her uniform.
“Anya, could you come over here?”
Once I walk up to Momioka, she instantly starts piling up clothes on my arms.
“What are all these, Momioka?”
“All the different sets of uniforms I’ve own.”
“Why are they different from each other?”
“Scraps, prototypes, and old designs!”
Soon, I am covered with the clothes that Momioka had thrown at me, ranging from school uniforms like blazers, dress shirts, ties, and ribbons to causal outfits like dresses and costumes.
“A little help, Momioka?”
“Oh, yeah… Sorry.”
Momioka gradually returns her clothes to their original positions while keeping four different sets of uniforms aside for later. Once finished, she grabs two sets of uniforms and lays them on her bed while hanging the other two on the closet door.
“These are my school’s standard summer and winter uniforms!”
The two sets of uniforms on Momioka’s bed are fairly different from each other. The summer uniform consists of a white short-sleeved blouse with a sailor-style collar tied with a red ribbon combining with a red pleated skirt and white socks. While the winter uniform, which presumingly is the one I would wear, consists of a white blazer with thin red outlines, a white long-sleeved shirt fitted with a red tie as well as a similar but longer red pleated skirt and white tights.
The school emblem appears on both uniforms. The one on the summer uniform is in between the collar, while on the winter uniform, it is on the top left pocket of the blazer. The school logo has an interesting design. Within the garnet-coloured circular badge is a large M of the same colour representing “Mikoto Academy”. It is surrounded by what seems to be a black and white Shimenawa rope from the shrine with its centre coloured with a Dijon yellow. On top of the M is an upside-down isosceles triangle with the same garnet-red colour and black interior which breaks off the legs of the M and goes under the Shimenawa ropes to the edge of the badge. The combination of M and the reverse triangle appears to be making the face of a fox, with the top part of the M being the ears and the triangle as its face. There is also a book on top of the fox’s face, with “1998” written on it.
― The school is more recent than I thought…
“I should be wearing the winter uniform, right?”
“Aye! We just switched to the winter uniform on the 16th!”
I pick up the winter uniform and walk towards Momioka’s mirror. With my left hand holding onto the hanger to the winter uniform, I wave my right hand downwards while snapping my fingers in front of my current clothes, and a copy of the uniform slowly fabricates on top. After the full set of the winter uniform is completed, I turn to Momioka, staring at me with her glowing eyes.
“What? Do I look weird in the uniform?”
“No, no, no. It’s not that. You dressing up in the uniform looks like a reverse magical girl transformation. You know, when they change from the magical girl costume to their uniform!”
“O…kay… So, what do you think?”
“The trial for the uniforms has now concluded as you look marvellous in it!”
I turn to Momioka and smile, somewhat excited about being in a uniform again, it somewhat reminds me of what it means to be in a collective group, either being in a kendo competition or a school.
“So, what are those two sets of uniforms behind you?”
I look at the two sets of uniforms with different designs hanging on the closet door behind Momioka. They have a similar summer-winter structure as well. The summer one, consists of a white short-sleeved blouse with red cuffs, frilly ends and a red sailor-style collar tied with a red bow combining with a black pleated skirt and white socks. While the winter one has a garnet red school blazer instead, fitted with a short-sleeved white shirt with a dark red cuff, a tie, and a black pleated skirt with two white stripes at the end of the dress.
“Oh these? They are mine! I modified them so it fits my alter, mysterious self better!”
“Should you be doing that? It doesn’t seem to be fitting to the school uniform.”
“Nope! But I have been excused from the uniform policy! Hehe!”
I sigh heavily at Momioka.
“You seem to have quite a lot of power on campus…”
“Hehe… With great power, I control thee.”
I tap lightly on Momioka’s head.
“Do be a responsible student sometimes, Momioka.”
“I attend all my classes on time and get amazing grades. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, Anya. But you know what, I’ll be wearing the standard school uniform to class tomorrow with you as to set a good example.”
“I guess it’s a start?”
“And I mean, my uniform isn’t that far off from the standard one.”
“Just for the winter uniform, only your tie remains the same, Momioka.”
“But it still the same point of reference.”
“The uniform has the same colour palette as the shrine priest and priestess attire! That’s why the girls’ uniforms are white and red while the boys’ uniforms are white and dark purple. Mine’s just a… mix of both with a little added flare.”
“You somehow made it worst.”
“And… And… And I sometimes wear my blazer as a waist cape, so it acts like the red skirt.”
“You’re not making it any better, Momioka.”
Momioka sighs heavily and slowly turns away from me.
“Well, I think it is time we call it a day.”
I dissipate my uniform illusion and return to my casual outfit.
“And if it’s okay with you, Momioka, I would like to take a bath.”
“Yeah, of course! Let’s go!”
I follow Momioka out of her room and towards the first-floor bathroom.
“Today had been a long day, hadn’t it, Anya? I think I can even feel tired from it.”
“It had. I am completely exhausted… but… today has been important for both of us.”
“Aye. We had moments of struggles and uncertainties. But we also had our exceptional advancement where you adventured around our next battlegrounds, and I became strong enough to use Mjolnir!”
Momioka unexpectedly turns around sharply right before the staircase.
“As I, Odinsdottir, am w-”
Before I can react, Momioka slips backwards and starts tumbling down the stairs.
“Are you okay, Momioka?”
I rush down the stairs before Momioka springs back up and brushes her dress.
“I am most excellent. That was merely teleportation to the mortal’s eyes.”
I let out a sigh again and continue following the excited and sparkling Momioka dancing towards the bathroom, talking about all the significant events that happened today.
― Words like “Chaotic” and “Unpredictable” would be the first thing that comes into mind when describing Momioka as that is how she is. A klutz living out her childish fantasies and delusions.
Following what Momioka and I agreed earlier, I enter the bathroom first as Momioka waits her turn in the changing room next door.
― She brings a certain charm to the table, always being a fun person to be around with… It was never a dull moment indeed.
After hanging my clothes on the railing and wrapping myself in the towel, I walk towards the bath stool by the tub.
― It really only had been three days since I met her. Yet, it feels like I’ve known her for much longer than it had been.
I lean lightly against the small counter at the other end of the bathroom.
― As a person, I think I trust her. She is a good friend.
I look up into the mirror and stare at my reflection dead in the eye.
― But do I trust her as someone who could watch my back during battles…?
“What do I do now, Polya… It’s all up to me again…”