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Short Story [Unit Story]
[021] Astesice, Kairi
Lyrical Monasterio
Race Mermaid

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Illust: 四季まこと

There are any number of reasons to ride a flying whale. A desire for “peace” is not one of them.
–Spiritual King of Determination, Olbaria

“Astesice” Live Lyrical Monasterio “Sage’s Tower” Main Stage / Evening

“Okay, this next one really is the last song!”
“As Kairi, the leader, says this, a cry of disappointment erupts from the crowd.
“Thank you, everyone!” Kiyora exclaims
“This really has to be the last one, guys!” Nanami shouts.
“You’ve been the best audience ever!” Mion continues.
“I’ll never forget you all!” concludes Misa.
Kanami says nothing, but simply hides her face with her hat. And with that, the group is ready for their final performance of the night.
“Here it is! ♪ Twilight Sound of Waves ♪!!!”
“The crowd cheers so loud they practically blow the roof off of the dome.

“This is Lyrical Monasterio, an academy built on the back of a flying whale where pop idols can gather to bring songs of hope and love to the world.

Lyrical Monasterio Academy Area Student Street / Morning, Start of the School Day

Illust: 三越はるは

“Good morning!” I shout as I jump up from the stone floor.
“The rain has just stopped in the dome. For a Stoicheian coastal elf like me who needs to be close to water, I live for times like this.
“I get a lot of responses from the people in the street.
“Goood mooorning!”
“G-Good morning.”
“Good morning.”
“Lalala ♪”
“The street is full of my friends. But even strangers respond. The ones who are having a terrible morning at the very least give me a nod. Some just give a smile. Greetings 101 is one of the first courses you study here at the academy, after all.
So, who replied this time? Those two warbeasts, Calfy and Likkris, who are probably on the way to the cafeteria, and then Apelle, Saskia, and Hanael. They’re all my friends. Hmm, Apelle didn’t say anything… But then, she’s always so glum. I guess maybe because she’s a demon? But she usually returns my greetings with a smile… Even if her smile can be a bit scary. Ah, and the angelic Hanael always responds with a song. As for Saskia, she always has those ghost things hanging around her. But anyway, I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.
“I love this about Lyrical Monasterio.
“Now that the rain has stopped, the skies above the dome start to clear. I feel great. Aah.
“Louche! Good morning!”
“I jump over a puddle and give Louche, another elf who joined the academy the same year I did, a big hug.
“I told you not to do that, Hilda. I’ll drop my music scores one of these days.”
“Hey, how about a game of Musical Stares until class? Come on, close your eyes!”
“Hey! …Hmph, I guess if we’re gonna slack off now’s as good a time as any. You haven’t forgotten you have your singing exam today, have you?”
“…N-N-Not at all!”
“Oh… Right. I completely forgot about that.
“The academy is famous for its hard exams. Even I wasn’t ready for what Lyrical Monasterio had waiting for me.
“Is that right? Remember, we’re also analyzing “Romantic Happiness” today. Isn’t that your favorite song?”
“Th-Th-That should be no problem… Hahaha.”
Phew, dodged a bullet there.
“Come on, let’s go. We don’t want to be late.” Louche takes a hold of my hand.
“H-Hold on. I know I said it was easy, but I gotta prepare…”
“Come on. You don’t need to pretend with me.”
“Sweating profusely, I hurriedly pull out my sheet music as she drags me to class.

Lyrical Monasterio “Sage’s Tower” Elevator / Before 2nd Period, Break

The elevator doors open with a soft ping.
Six people get on from this floor. I catch a glimpse of the hem of a skirt; it looks like a stage costume.
And then the atmosphere in the elevator gets so tense you could cut it with a knife. Why? Several other people got on with me.
“What floor?”
I’m standing at the front, so I guess she’s talking to me.
But I’m squeezed into the elevator, stuck behind a large stack of paper boxes.
I managed to fumble my way through the analysis exam, but I got carried away and started humming a tune, which caught the attention of my teacher Mr. Death Fumble (he’s a lizard, so his scales went up and everything, so disgusting…). He decided to punish me by making me take this huge stack of boxes up to the top floor of the Sage’s Tower in the center of the academy. By hand, mind you.
“10th floor please.”
“Underphtood, the rehearthal room!”
However, it’s a convention here at the academy to always be cheerful in addition to being a common trait among us coastal elves.
I hear someone laughing behind me, and I start blushing with embarrassment. Oh well, there’s not much I can do about it now.
“You’re a student, aren’t you? Are you new? You look like you might need some help.”
I hear a kindly voice directed at me. To be in the Sage’s Tower at this time she must be one of the seniors of Lyrical Monasterio, and probably already working as an idol. The seniors are always so kind here.
I try to see over my boxes and… Finally catch a breath.
“It’s fine. I just got into trouble in a class.”
“Teehee, what did you do?” asks the kind voice.
“I was so relieved that I managed to pass the exam, I started humming.”
All six people behind me start giggling. I understand, it’s a ridiculous situation.
“And the teacher punished you by making you carry all that? How terrible. Who was it?” This sounds like someone else.
“Erm, it was Mr. Death Fumble.”
“Ah.” All six voices rise up in harmony.
“A classic Death Fumble punishment. He’s always so strict.” This was yet another of the six.
“Hey, everyone. We’ve got a bit of time, don’t we? Let’s help her,” says the original friendly voice. She must be the leader.
“Thank you, but if you help me, it won’t be much of a punishment…”
“Oho! Good answer!” Said yet another of the six.
“Okay, I get it. Well, good luck, idol-in-training.” said the apparent leader.
“You too!”
The doors open with a ping to the 10th floor, so I press the button to keep them open.
“Thank you. As thanks I think we should call each other by our names. What’s yours?”
“Huh? Oh, I’m Hilda. Hmm, but you don’t have to give yours, I just pressed the button.”
“No, no. Don’t be like that, Hilda. A meeting like this isn’t just coincidence, it’s fate.”
“Erm, by the way…”
I was about to ask “Who are you anyway?”, but the door starts to close before I can. The leader gets the last word in.
“Be like us, Astesice.”
I drop my boxes and look out to see before me the members of the legendary idol group Astesice: Kiyora, Nanami, Misa, Kanami, and their leader, Kairi, all smiling and waving at me. Whoa, they’re all like, super cute and pretty and friendly. And they smell incredible. I wonder what perfume they use?
Hey, wait… This isn’t a dream…
The elevator springs back to life and finally starts to descend, as does my mood.
The doors close on my stunned face.

Illust: 藤真拓哉

Lyrical Monasterio Academy In front of the main building / End of the day

Illust: 花咲まひる

The mermaids swim playfully in the fountain, and the students gather around them.
The water droplets sparkle in the evening sun, the surface of the pond shimmers, and the voices of the gathered girls float above the scene, simultaneously cheering me up and calming my soul.
This is the Luminescence Fountain, one of the shining jewels of the Academy.
Lyrical Monasterio is home to people of all races. For example, right now there’s a mermaid playing with her tail. But the Academy allows all races to live freely: flying races are free to fly, swimming races are free to swim, and ethereal races are free to walk through the walls. All in moderation, of course.
“Haah… Yet another glorious day.”
I put my hand on the Luminescence Fountain.
“Don’t exaggerate,” Louche chides.
“She’s been like that for a while now,” added Pelageya.
Pelageya is a demon and a habitual truant who’s never seen in class, and yet she never seems to fail a single exam.
“I’m not exaggerating! I made friends with Astesice!”
“I bewieve you.”
This is the Warbeast girl, Seeya. I’ve never seen her without some kind of food in her mouth.
“I’ve certainly heard that they’re kind, but that seems outlandish.” Louche seems less convinced.

Even I’m starting to doubt myself.
“Ah, the whale…”
Seeya takes the sandwich out of her mouth to say this.
The ground smoothly starts to descend so gently that I wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t said anything.
Lyrical Monasterio, the whale on which our academy is built, has spread its wings and is getting ready to land.
“Astesice are performing again tonight,” Louche points out.
“Ooh, your friends, Hilda,” Pelageya teases. That demon girl gets on my nerves sometimes.
I finally notice the crowd gathering in the garden.
Several of the academy’s PV (Performance Viewing) screens have been set up in the space.
Lyrical Monasterio is an academy where we are taught how to bring dreams, hope, and peace to the world, and so they encourage us to watch our seniors whenever they perform–not that we need much encouragement.
“Hello everyone!”
Cheers erupt in the garden.
Astesice’s stage shows have a reputation for being especially fun, even before the main performance begins.
From all the shows I’ve seen it would seem that the seniors are all lovely, normal girls.
“Today we met yet another wonderful girl. A newbie who’s trying her very best!” says the leader, Kairi.
Bang! My heart just about leaps out of my throat.
Louche, Pelageya, and Seeya all look at me in shock.
“I’m sure you’ve all been there. There’s so much to learn, to remember, and you never want to ruffle people’s feathers.”
I begin to cry. My friends put their hands on my shoulders.
“I’d like to say something just for that newbie. No, not newbie, friend. Ready…?”
“We believe in you, Hilda!”
“I can’t wait to perform with you one day!”
Astesice’s words just about knock me off my feet. I’m… I’m so happy.

The evening sun shines over the ocean.
The whale that we call home descends on its next port of call, where we will perform our next live show.

The End


<<Notes about Terminology>>
Lyrical Monasterio and the Whale
Lyrical Monasterio is a city-state built on the back of a great flying whale by the mermaids from the Bermuda Triangle using knowledge from the teachings of Stoicheia, the great sage of ancient Zoo. It was built to bring the gifts of song, peace, and hope to the world. Lyrical Monasterio is covered by a great dome which encompasses both the city and the academy.
Lyrical Monasterio Academy is open to all citizens of Planet Cray, with no limit to race or age.
The academy is known not only as a place to learn how to become a pop idol, but also as a great institution of higher learning. It is also where pop idols who are already active can come to hone their skills and learn from their seniors to further progress in their careers.

The Whale’s Name
The flying whale doesn’t have a name of its own.
Legends say that it once had a name of power, but if it did it is lost to the ages. The students at Lyrical Monasterio simply like to call it the Flying Whale, Mr. Whale, or the Flapping Whale.


Story: 金子良馬
Supervising Editor: 中村聡