76.2 The Passing Year, The Coming Year
“Fufufu, it’s because I’m in charge of this area here.”
Ruiseine smiles at Priscilla-chan.
Many shrine maiden-sama are in the plaza other than Ruiseine. All of them hold khakkhara just like hers. Right now, they are very noticeable because they are the only ones standing in the plaza.
Among the shrine maiden-sama are Kiiri and Inea. They don’t seem to have noticed me. They are waiting for something with serious expressions.
On the stage, with the head shrine maiden-sama at the front, the senior shrine maiden-sama and priests finish lining up.
I swallow as I also wait.
For a short while, silence envelops the plaza before the temple. From the far off royal castle, countless chimes can be heard.
“The new year has come.”
I speak with a voice only Mistral and Priscilla-chan can hear.
At the same time the new year arrives, bells at the royal castle ring out. They notify the entirety of the royal capital of the new year. The people gathered in the plaza, however, don’t cheer in celebration. Everyone quietly holds their breath in anticipation.
When the chimes of the bells vanish, the head shrine maiden-sama strikes the floor of the stage with the tip of the khakkhara. Then, the bells attached to her khakkhara ring.
The pure sound from the bells spreads across the plaza.
The shrine maiden-sama spread all around the plaza and the shrine maiden-sama lined up along the stage, they strike the ground with their khakkhara.
The sound of bells echoes.
The grand performance commences in the plaza before the temple. The head shrine maiden-sama begins a ritualistic prayer with a cheerful voice. The priests follow up by stacking on their lower voices. The shrine maiden-sama stack on their crisp and clear voices. The shrine maiden in the plaza also join with their voices and the celebratory prayer begins.
The Megami-sama of Creation is praised.
The blessings of the new year.
Men and women, the country, and then a peaceful world. They are the prayers offered by the priests.
The celebratory prayer is recited aloud, almost like a poem. I am caught by its marvelous melody and scale. To me, the shrine maiden-sama appear very divine. They are sacred, pure, and beautiful.
Mistral and Priscilla-chan, even if they probably can’t understand the meaning of the prayer, also listen intently with expressions of wonder.
The chime of a bell echoes. The blessings of the clergy are given to all, and the prayers of the people fill the plaza. At the end, the head shrine maiden-sama’s greeting of the new year comes to a close. Then, at long last, the people in the plaza cheer out their congratulations.
Everyone stands up to congratulate one another. They either hug those around them or wrap arms around their shoulders. In all the bustle, a foolish person too caught up in the moment goes to touch Mistral’s shoulders only to be greeted with a blood chilling glare.
“Happy new year.”
“This is my first time experiencing such a wonderful greeting to the new year.” (Mistral)
“Nntto, was amazing.”
“I’m happy you two were satisfied.”
We exchange greetings with each other.
The head shrine maiden-sama returns to the temple from the stage and the night kagura resumes.
I showed them what I truly wanted to show them. Mistral and Priscilla-chan look satisfied, so this is a success. Something like this so early in the new year is a good sign. I hope my departure can continue with this flow.
“Well then, with this, I suppose it’s time to get going.”
Mistral says such while grabbing Priscilla-chan who is imitating the kagura.
“No, no, sleep with onii-chan tonight.”
“No, no, no, that would not be impossible.”
I need to go to my ojii-chan’s house after this. How would I explain bringing Priscilla-chan with me?
“If you continue speaking selfishly, I won’t take you out of the village anymore.”
“Uuu, Mist is mean.”
“Yes, yes, I’m quite mean. Well then, let’s go back.”
Priscilla-chan struggles and wriggles around, but she can’t escape Mistral’s hold.
Mistral, while solidly holding her in place, says her goodbye to me.
“Once the beginning of the year calms down, I’ll start going back to the moss covered plaza.”
“Good, everyone is waiting.”
“Yeah, please take care for me for various things this year too.”
“Yes, yes, we can get some meat.”
Even though I still wanted to be with Mistral while in the afterglow of the great aria to the new year, we can’t continue like this and greet the morning.
“Well then, until next time.” (Mistral)
“See you again.” (Ernea)
We wave to each other.
“Ah, by the way, will you be heading back through the forest?”
“Fufufu, we are.”
“No need to worry.”
Mistral is a beautiful woman and Priscilla-chan is cute. They need to be careful of strange people. Furthermore, if they head to the Dragon Forest at this time, people who see them might get strange ideas. I warn them, but Mistral is well aware. She gives me a smile while touching the konbou at her waist with a hand.
Yep, there’s no need to worry.
I wave goodbye once more and separate from Mistral and Priscilla-chan. A lot of people are still in the plaza and they soon disappear from view within the crowd.
I could have accompanied them to the entrance of Dragon Forest. We didn’t need to separate here. If I was worried about them, then I should have stayed together with them.
Having realized that too late, my shoulders sag. I still have a lot to learn about this sort of thing.
T/N: Reflect Ernea, reflect.