Edit: Moved the first part of the chapter to the end of chapter 21 to get rid of the cliffhanger. Sorry for the worthless cliffhanger for no reason, as of now.
Light flashes through the room. The girls reappear and glance around the room realizing they have returned to the familiar white training room in Sara’s home.
“We’re back!!” (Sara)
Sara manipulates the room to create a large bed and immediately strips off her equipment and jumps into the newly made bed. Yuki and Tsubaki follow suit stripping off their equipment and storing them away before sitting on the bed.
“Since when could you teleport Sara?” (Yuki)
“Mmm? I can’t. There’s a return home feature on our computers.” (Sara)
Yuki and Tsubaki open their computers and follow Sara’s instructions and find a teleport feature.
“The computers are bound to you. So they can benefit you they can perform some special support magic. It uses up some magic to teleport home though. The more people to transport, the higher the cost. Right now only Sara could handle teleporting everyone without suffering from magic exhaustion.” (Rose)
“That’s useful.” (Yuki)
“You can adjust the home point to a different location if you want. The default location is set for this room.” (Rose)
“I think we’re okay for now. We can’t just appear on the street that easily.” (Yuki)
“You’re finally back.” (???)
The girls sit up and turn towards the unexpected voice. They see Melody coming down from the stairs to the house. Behind her, a meek girl with light pink hair hides behind Melody.
“Oh. Melody-san.” (Yuki)
“Were you waiting in the house just now?” (Sara)
“No, no. Rose’s security isn’t that easy to overcome.” Melody waves her hand. “We were sitting on the stairs waiting for you to come back.”
“Oh. Sorry. We’ve been out trip…” Sara’s voice trails off as she looks at Rose. “You didn’t know she was coming?” (Sara)
“No. She didn’t inform me that she was visiting. I would have received them otherwise.” (Rose)
“It’s fine. It’s fine. We’ve only been waiting a month after all.” Melody smiles waving her hand in front of her.
“I se… WAIT A SECOND!!!” (Sara)
“A MONTH!!! (Sara/Yuki/Tsubaki)
“Right a month. Not that long.” Melody calmly smiles back to reassure them.
The girls snap their head to Rose.
“How was she waiting a month?! We were only gone a week!!” (Sara)
“How? Because there’s a time difference between here and Celestria obviously?” (Rose) A pained expression flashes across her face.
The girls go pale at this piece of information. “YOU NEVER TOLD US THAT!!!!!”
“What do I do?!” (Yuki)
“I only told them I would be gone a week!!” (Tsubaki)
Yuki and Tsubaki start panicking. They told their families, they would only be gone a week at most. Being gone an entire month would naturally make them very worried. Melody and Rose stand there with a smile on their face. Sara sighs and stares directly at Rose.
“Were we really gone a month?” (Sara)
“No. Just a joke.” Rose smiles in response. The girls instantly breathe a sigh of relief. They glare at Rose.
“STOP DOING THAT!!!!” (Girls)
Rose laughs calmly at their yell. “It doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of fun.” (Rose)
“YOU’RE HAVING TOO MUCH FUN!!!” (Girls)
“Um…Can we get back on track?” (Melody)
Melody interrupts their argument. The girl behind her looks equally troubled.
“WHOSE FAULT IS IT?!” (Girls) Melody and the girl flinch when Sara and the others scream at them.
After calming down, sofas and a table set including fresh tea appears in the room. Everyone sits down gathering around the table.
“So what did you need?” (Rose)
“Actually, we wanted to request a favor from Sara and the others.” (Melody)
“From us?” (Sara)
“Yes.” Melody glances at her companion.
“U...um…th-th-that is…uuuu…” The girl panics at everyone’s attention draws towards her. She starts to shiver incessantly.
“Okay. Calm down.” Melody grips the girl’s hand. “Introduce yourself first.”
“O-o-o-okay!!” The girl tears up as she looks at them. “I-I-I-I-I’m Sa-Sa-Sakura… U-u-u-umm…”
Melody sighs. “We’re not going to make much progress much like this.”
“That’s true.” (Rose)
“Should I take over?” (Melody)
“Okay.” Melody sighs again. “Sakura has a job request for you girls.”
“Job request? For us?” (Sara) The girls stare in surprise at one another.
“Yes. Sakura wants you to win a tournament.” (Melody)
“Sakura here runs an arena. Lately, one team has been winning the tournaments with unfair methods.” (Melody)
“Why not disqualify them from the tournament?” (Slyph)
“She’s like this after all.” Melody points at the trembling Sakura. “She won’t confront them without definite proof. Hiring a stranger is difficult because of her speaking abilities.”
“How does she manage an arena like that?” (Tsubaki)
“A very capable best friend and assistants. They manage things while she holes up in the office dealing with other administrative things.” (Melody)
“Wouldn’t that best friend be better to act as the president?” (Yuki)
“I-I-I-I-I o-o-off-offered. B-B-B-But Ku-chan s-s-said no.” Sakura weakly adds in.
“Well they have their reasons. But that’s beside the point. It’s unfair to the other participants if one team constantly wins by cheating. So we wanted to request your participation in the upcoming tournament. If you win the tournament is fine, but the focus of the request is fighting the suspected team.” (Melody)
“Fighting? Don’t you mean to determine how they’re cheating?” Slyph questions the details of the request. Melody doesn’t reply immediately and looks at Rose. Slyph following her line of sight looks at Rose too. “Ahh. I see. Silly question.”
The girls come to the same realization. “Rose will deal with the rest easily.”
“Rose, what do you think?” (Sara)
“I think you should try it… But I hope you realize the chances of completing the request are near impossible. Melody, the rank of that tournament, I believe it should be…” (Rose)
“Ah right. B rank and below. Only items up to C rank are allowed and can only be used in between matches.” (Melody)
Sara and the others pale at the rules of the tournament.
“Aren’t we too weak for that?” (Sara)
“It’s very high level for the five of you. Even if I put you through regular training up until the tournament, your success rate doesn’t even reach 1%.” (Rose)
“Shouldn’t we refuse if we can’t fulfill Sakura’s request?” (Yuki) Sakura immediately starts to tear up hearing a possible rejection.
“I still think it would be worth doing.” (Rose)
“Why? This isn’t like you Rose.” (Sara)
Rose calmly smiles. “Let’s change the perspective a bit. If you go to watch the tournament, without participating, then figuring out how that group is cheating is easy. In that sense, clearing the request is easy.”
“Then there’s no point to our participation.” (Tsubaki)
“There is! It would let you experience real battles against people in a controlled environment where you won’t die easily. Second and the most relevant reason, getting a high position in the tournament means you can acquire information for Slyph faster.” (Rose)
“Information for me? Where do I come into this?” (Slyph)
“You’re looking for your family right? There’s information there.” (Rose)
Silence fills the room at Rose’s words. Slyph’s voice cracks as she flies in front of Rose. “IS THAT TRUE?!”
“Yes. But…I don’t know what the result of the conversation will be.” (Rose)
“That’s rare.” Melody reflexively replies. Rose just shrugs her shoulders.
“But we’re still too weak to do well in the tournament. It’s a team battle with B rankers.” (Sara)
“Well it’s something to try. There’s no harm in it. If you fail, I will just take a longer method to get information about Slyph’s family. So it won’t be all or nothing. Simply a shortcut. So give it some thought.” (Rose)
“If Rose goes that far, I’m in.” (Yuki)
“Sure. Let’s give it a shot.” (Tsubaki)
“Eru will help Slyph onee-chan.” (Erutie)
“I’m not confident, but we’ll do everything you can.” (Sara)
“Everyone…” Slyph starts to tear up.
“So what do we have to do?”(Sara)
“We’ll handle the paperwork. So you can rest easy. Sakura has already agreed to reward you with a rare spell book she owns.” Melody replies. Sakura nods nervously as her name is brought up. “Also, depending on your performance, we can have you skip some of your ranking exams and award you the rank directly.”
“Th-Thank you…”Sara glances at the others. They nod at Sara. She returns her attention to Melody and Sakura. “I don’t think you have to go that far with the reward. We have our own reasons for participating.”
“Plus, our chances of passing aren’t that great.” (Yuki)
“It-It-It-It’s fine…” (Sakura)
“We’re the ones being unreasonable with the request. So we’re naturally compensating you better. We can’t really give money or equipment as rewards since they pale in front of Rose’s resources.” (Melody)
Everyone's attention shifts to Rose, but she simply shrugs.
"I can't help that I’m multi skilled. The general talk has been settled. We can work on tournament preparation tomorrow. Let's rest for today." (Rose)
"Master, can we have some private time?" (Rose)
“Okay.” Sara replies without hesitation.
Melody and Sakura depart, while the girls head upstairs to their respective bedrooms. Rose and Sara move to Sara’s room. Sara lifts Rose onto the bed and starts undressing herself.
“Ah. I didn’t mean that.” (Rose)
Sara pauses and looks at Rose. “Huh? I thought we were…”
“After…I have something important to say in private.” (Rose)
Sara buttons back up her clothes and sits on the bed. “Okay. What did you want to talk about?”
“Several things. First would be the tournament. I already mentioned that participating in the tournament is for Slyph’s sake.” (Rose)
“Yes. I know. That’s why we’re all motivated to participate even though our chances are slim.” (Sara)
“The goal is for you girls to place in the top 3. The person we want to talk to is the special guest that is handing out the awards.” (Rose)
“Okay. But why are you hiding this from Slyph?” (Sara)
“You’ll understand in a bit. That person is…” (Rose)
“That’s really bad. Can we even do anything?” (Sara)
“It is a difficult situation. Moreover, in my condition, I have no way to overturn this situation.” (Rose)
“Then we’re stuck leaving them like that?!” (Sara)
“Well I do have a way. But I’m reluctant to do it. It’s the only option, but it would mean extra work for you.” (Rose)
“What do I have to do?” (Sara)
“The best choice would be to release parts of my seal.” (Rose)
Sara’s eyes contract. The rest of Rose’s seals are all S ranked and above. She was only a D rank working towards a C rank. When she took the A rank seal tests of Rose’s, they held back on the difficulty. Even then, she felt she was extremely lucky to have passed. Sara wanted to help Rose as soon as possible, but she understood that she couldn’t always rely on luck before it would run out.
“…I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong.” Rose smiles.
“I said release my seals, but you’re thinking of the wrong one.” (Rose)
“Wrong one?” Sara questions. Her mind starts to spin at the sudden information. Did she make some kind of mistake about Rose’s seal?
“What does my status say fir the number of seals?”
“There are 22 left.” Sara replies checking Rose’s information.
“Like I thought. It counts my own seals too." Rose runs a finger down her right hand. Twelve rings of various colors mark her entire arm. The top five rings are all marked with the same blood red color, but the remaining rings vary in color, red, green, brown, blue, yellow, black, and white. Rose waves her left hand revealing a pure white gem. "Of course I have the keys to them too." With another wave, the gem disappears from her hand. "The tests for these seals are not as strict as the ones you previously did. Failure won't result in dying. You just have to endure the load from the seal's release."
"Why didn't you tell me you had those?" (Sara)
"Pretty much for the same reason that I don't want you dealing with the other seals, I don't want you getting too involved. I want to leave you a way out." Rose sighs.
"A way out?" (Sara)
"I know I said you have to decide on dealing with magic and such. But I've constantly left the chance to back out from everything and escape to a normal lifestyle. Things like releasing the seal and increasing the power of our contract would slowly close your escape route. After that, you could only live in Celestria if things progress far enough." (Rose)
"I'm fine with that. I already made my resolve." (Sara)
“Yeah. I already know. Tomorrow we can start with the training. Rest for today. Also, keep it a secret that you’re doing this extra training.” (Rose)
“Okay.” Sara nods obediently.
“Good. Then the important talk is done. Come here.” Rose weakly stretches out her arms towards Sara. Sara embraces Rose as they kiss. Sara lays Rose down before covering the two of them with the blanket. With a simple movement from Rose, the lights go out.
End of chapter
First, I'll apologize for the unsightly arc that was that adventurer's arc. It was meant to be a filler/transition chapter in between Sara's E rank exam and this upcoming tournament arc. The result was my mood being (ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻ whenever I wrote those chapters. I thought up various scenes in the original outline. The adventurer one being more of a last minute addition, so it was much harder to write. Or maybe just because I'm creating a lot of characters/locations I'm not sure how I will use in the future.
I'll be more careful in the future. I had originally wanted to create some more short arcs revolving around the school. But I haven't come up with anything I liked, and after these recent chapters I'm not sure I should anymore. Ongoing debate, but we will see. The tournament arc is one I've been anticipating for over half a year now. So I'm quite excited to reach these chapters soon. Look forward to it and I hope you enjoy it.
P.S. Thank you for reading my hackneyed story.