I came back but the world is still a fantasy!? – Garesto Academy – Intermission – 04-45: The Dance of Purification (1/5)

Deep, deep inside a forest, from where that river that flowed through the green trees began, was a quiet space suffused with the sound of bells.

Within that darkness just barely out of reach of starlight was a white and a red that solemnly danced.

Unlike usual, the girl’s hair was tied by the back of her neck, and it would sway along with her every movement.

There were no flat man-made stages here to hold her dance, only the stage prepared by nature, the kind full of unevenness, and yet not the slightest tumble nor pauses could be seen in her movements – in fact, not even the slightest difficulties could be glimpsed from her fluent steps.

A faint light of spiritual power suffused the surrounding area, and with every sound of the kagura [1] bell, the purified air would spread.

With a waterfall lake just behind her, the atmosphere in this place felt just like a dream.

The red hakama that the beautiful western girl wore over her hakue, and the chihaya on her head helped engender this illusory sight, but such help was superficial at most, for it was truly her power that brought about the purity and sacredness that could be felt here.

So powerful and yet gentle was her mysterious dance that it no longer mattered that the girl looked nothing like a Japanese.

Her kagura differed from tradition, yes, but her meager audience still found themselves swallowing their breaths.

“…!”

And when her gaze met her only audience, and she saw that entranced look on him, she became flustered.

Her eyes swam and the tempo of her dance rippled, but that lasted only for a moment before she immediately brought everything back on course.

At the back of her mind were those unnecessary words that her friends had left her with just prior.

They were regarding the problematic nature of the words she’d said this afternoon.

『If he wasn’t the guy you were talking to, he would have surely thought you were asking him out.』

『Men love clothes likes those, though, so he might just jump at you anyway!』

『Ah, but Tomoe-chan, maybe you actually want him to?』

As she became conscious of those words, the urge to blush threatened her cheeks, but she somehow managed to keep them firm.

As she renewed her focus with a concentration even greater than when using her spells, she expelled all such unnecessary thoughts from her mind.

But even then, a different kind of excitement that she was experiencing for the first time only filled her even more.

This was not her first time dancing this dance, and neither was this her first time showing it to someone, and yet never before has such a strange sense of satisfaction filled her as this moment when she was dancing it for him.

As her consciousness became more vivid and detailed, it reached out around her.

And as her senses grew sharper, she began to feel his ‘gaze’ even stronger.

That was all, and yet that was enough to make her body burn.

And yet, her dance continued unimpeded, and neither did she become embarrassed.

In fact, her polished movements seemed to become even more polished.

Before she knew it, she had stopped offering her dance to the land, and started offering it to ‘him’, and yet she did not feel anything strange by that.

It was as though this was a dance created just to be shown to ‘him’.

As the sound of the bells sang with her dance, and she continued to spin about, the heat that accompanied her grew only stronger.

She knew that this dance was also meant to be an offering to a god, but she did not know that the person before her was not just a human but also someone that possessed the element of a god.

As someone who has had no experience in singing and dancing in a worthy place, this would be her first time dancing for a god.

And though she did not know that consciously, intuitively, she did know, and that unconscious thought of her dance being completed excited her – just like a real miko that has finally found the god she was meant to serve.

 
 
 

As the dance came to a close, she flicked her arms to announce the end of a dance.

She flicked them swiftly as though to spread the purified air gathered in this place.

And then as she sensed the movements and effects of the purified air, as though to offer herself in service, she quietly prostrated herself to them— No, to ‘him’.

“Oh, that one is the courteous version, huh… It was pretty good, right? Anybody can look good with the right clothes, but the dance being this good is all skill,” Ryou said.

“Ahh, yeah, that’s… True… I guess…” Shinichi said.

Ryou said it in such a roundabout way, but there was no doubt that the was praising her. Shinichi’s response, however, came in pauses.

They had crept into the fields in the middle of the night to watch Tomoe’s enchanting dance of purification.

At first, Ryou was satisfied because he saw Shinichi admiring her, but the expression on Shinichi’s face gradually grew grimmer.

And now, he even seemed to be biting his lips, as though he was enduring something.

“What’s the matter?”

“Looks like I took this whole exorcism thing a bit too lightly… It’s stronger than I thought…”

Unable to stand anymore, Shinichi sat down and covered his mouth with his hand.

There was only the light of the moon to serve as their light, so Ryou hadn’t noticed it, but after getting a closer look, Shinichi’s countenance was indeed poor.

And then, just when he was about to call out to him, Shinichi suddenly collapsed from right in front of him.

“Hey!?”

“Wow, the ground is so soft and pliable, while the stars are all spinning… This is bad.”

It was curious if he was still conscious, but regardless, he started saying stuff like that like a child messing around before quietly saying that last part solemnly.

“What are you saying so carelessly!? Tomoe, call a medic! Wait, you’re a medic! You do something!”

“Hah? Wait a sec, Shinichi!?”

When Tomoe raised her head and saw what was happening, she too raised a fuss.

Shinichi knew full well just what had happened to him, but when he explained it in pauses, both he and Tomoe gradually ended up with an apologetic look.

“I-I’m sorry! I didn’t think your constitution leaned toward the yin to this extent,” Tomoe said.

Bluntly put, Tomoe’s ‘purification’ was the reason that Shinichi was like this.

She had used the yang to clear the air infused with yin, but Shinichi was something akin to an evil god, and his elements were inclined toward the yin, so her purification affected him too.

Although he was powerful against powers and techniques of the same elements, power and techniques of the opposing elements could easily erode him if he were to let his guard down.

Apparently, this was what that ill foreboding feeling was about, Shinichi wryly smiled.

“Nah, it’s my fault too since I didn’t think anything would happen when your exorcism was just meant to restore the balance here.”

“Yes, that’s usually what I do since it’s not good to have the yin-yang balance of an area at an extremity. Of course, it still depends on the location. But regardless, I’m completely at fault here for failing to take your constitution into consideration. I would never hear the end of it if mother had seen me make this mistake, awawa…”

As though she could imagine just that, Tomoe quivered and started apologizing.

The excitement that she felt earlier was already gone. Now, her shoulders were dropped and she even appeared to shrink.

“…If you feel bad about it, then why don’t you give me your lap instead of this stone?”

Shinichi said with a complacent smile as he pointed to the stone his head was rested on.

“I’m sure your lap would make for a much better pillow.”

“Wha— But that’s… But, I guess, if that’s all, then… Uu, but it’s so embarrassing.”

The girl was deeply troubled as the guilt she felt from her incompetence clashed with her embarrassment from such an act, but then Shinichi suddenly smiled and put all of her worries to waste.

“Ku ku ku, you seemed so adult-like when your were dancing, and yet here you are now showing such a cute response.”

“D-Don’t get over your head, you dummy! You’ll be able to get up if I do this, right!? Well, take it and make do with that stone!”

Tomoe flared up when she realized he was teasing her again, so she slapped a talisman onto his head and turned away from him as though to say she shouldn’t have worried for him.

The talisman had the character, ‘陰’, on it, which read yin, and it instantly made up for Shinichi’s lost ki.

She was angry, but she still helped him. She truly was a good girl, Shinichi thought.

 

[1] – Kagura (神楽 (かぐら), “god-entertainment”) is a specific type of Shinto ritual ceremonial dance. The phrase is a contraction of “kami no kura (seat of god)”, indicating the presence of god in the practice. (Source: Wikipedia)

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Any power ups from receiving a ritual dance from a miko? Ah. I see the true offering was not the dance but the lap pillow.

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