I was sitting on the sofa in my room, reading a book, when I heard a discreet knock on the door.
[It's open, come in.]
[Excuse me, Master. A letter has arrived.]
[Ahh, thanks as always, Anima. Can you leave it there]
This is a common exchange…… Anima handles the letters sent towards me, while she brings me the letters from my friends.
Anima is used to this, as after hearing my response, she quickly places the unread letters in an easy-to-spot area on my desk.
Then, Anima bowed her head and was about to leave, just as per usual, but today, I spoke at that moment.
[There's something I'd like to ask you, so do you have some time]
[Yes, there's no problem!]
Smiling at Anima, who answered me with a neat salute, I decided to ask her about the conversation I had just seen between her and my parents.
[……Errr, I actually overheard Anima and Mom and Dad talking earlier……]
When I said that much, I noticed that Anima's expression turned pale. Arehh What's with her reaction……
[T- That's not it! I- It's not that I meant to disrespect Master when I said those words earlier……]
[Ahh, unnn. No, I'm not angry, okay ……I should have chosen my words more carefully.]
Ahh, I see…… I guess she turned pale because she thought I was going to be mad at her. How should I say this…… It really was like her to worry about such things.
[Errr, I don't know what's a good way to say this but…… I'm not mad at you, it's more like I'm a little surprised by what you said.]
[Unnn, it might just be me assuming things by myself but…… I thought that the Anima I knew back then would have raised my name even higher…… so I was surprised. So, I wanted to ask you some things about that. Ahh, of course, I won't force you to answer me if you don't want to.]
I felt that she had grown a lot compared to before, especially her mental growth. Perhaps, that might be the reason why I wanted to ask her about her change in her mentality.
At my question, Anima paused with a puzzled look on her face, and after a moment, she reservedly responded.
[……It doesn't matter.]
[Ahh, no, that's it! I don't mean it in a bad way…… Errr…… P- Please wait a moment! Let me gather my thoughts.]
After she said this, Anima closed her eyes and took a deep breath for a few moments. She then took off the hat she was wearing, held it to her chest with one hand, and opening her eyes, she looked straight at me and spoke.
[……Embarrassing it may be to say this, but the immature me back then…… as Master pointed out, was quite hasty. Not only in my abilities, but even in my mentality.]
[It's difficult for me to explain, but I'm sure that…… I don't think I have the confidence about my position as a retainer either. Thus, I praised Master excessively. Being that "the master I serve is so amazing" makes it that I was amazing for serving such a master, I was shouting such things like a beast claiming its territory.]
I'm not saying that her words don't make me think about anything. The personality of the Anima back then wasn't thinking about her actions at all. In fact, I think she was thinking about a lot of things.
Now that I think about it, Anima called herself a damned beast when we first met, and felt inferior to Alice…… Perhaps, deep within her heart, Anima was feeling unsure of herself.
[Looking back on it, I feel ashamed of how stupid I was, but at that time, I didn't have the composure to realize it.]
[……However, your mentality has changed now, right]
[Yes…… No, I probably haven't changed. I think I just "became aware".]
[……It had been a year and eight months since Master had returned to the other world, and I had plenty of time to think. Thereupon, I reexamined my feelings.]
After saying this, Anima fell silent again for a moment and looking at me with eyes filled with determination, she conveyed her feelings to me.
[……You don't have to be amazing. You don't have to be strong. I didn't serve Master because you're amazing, nor am I devoting myself to you because you're strong.]
As she continued to speak, Anima's face gradually grew redder and redder. However, she didn't stop speaking and continued weaving her words with a blush on her face.
[Those things don't matter, as for me…… For me…… the Master, who is always kind, but still has the courage to stand up when needed, and treats even a squire like myself with warmth…… i- i- is the one I adore!!!]
[Because I was able to recognize these feelings, I was able to ascertain that these feelings were true…… I no longer needed to excessively raise up Master's name. For me…… Unembellished, just as Master always was…… is the most wonderful Master will always be…… and I want to always be on Master's side, and be able to help Master.]
Liking me not because I'm amazing, adoring me not because I'm strong…… They were words wholeheartedly telling me that she loved the unembellished me, just the way I am.
This was her feelings that clearly answered the emotions she had hidden since the time of the Six Kings Festival.
The words she told me were inexplicably warm————- and made me really happy.
~ ~ Extra : The Pleiades' Names ~ ~
"Black Violent Star", Iris Illuminus
Name Origin : Asteroid Iris
Other Nicknames : "Death King's Head Subordinate", "Tyrannical Beast", "Magic Tool Pioneer", "The Duke with the Strongest Firepower"
Notes : The nicknames are at the time of Isis' future visions.
"Far North Star", Polaris
Name Origin : North Star's name, Polaris
Other Nicknames : "Star-Gazing Witch", "The Problem Solver", "Permafrost"
Notes : A Demon who was saved by Isis a long time ago.
"Fox Monster Star", Eulpecula (Pet name: Eul)
(T/N: ウルペクラ / urupekura. I just couldn't find myself to name her Ulpecula so……)
Name Origin : Constellation The Little Fox, Vulpecula
Other Nicknames : "The Fastest Count", "The Shooting Star", "The Monster of Possibilities"
Notes : A young super-genius who was 119 years old when Isis saw her in her future vision. The Demon version of Lilia.
"Crystal Flower Star", Spica
Name Origin : First-magnitude, Blue Giant Star, Spica
Other Nicknames : "Flower Blooming in the Snowfield", "The Fortress of Chalk"
Notes : Refers to herself with "Uchi", talking like she's some Yamato Nadeshiko in a Japanese clothing, but she's actually wearing a dress.
"Celestial Blade Star", Sirius
Name Origin : One of the Six Corners of the Winter Diamond, Sirius
Other Nicknames : "Six-Armed Sword Oni", "Absolute Sword"
Notes : She and Earth Bound Star are on bad terms with each other.
"Earth Bound Star", Rasal Marfik
Name Origin : Constellation Ophiuchus
Other Nicknames : "Martyr of Death", "The Army of the Dead"
Notes : She and Celestial Bound Star are on bad terms with each other.
They really would be quite a long way off from appearing in the main story, but I'm planning to do an extra chapter about the Pleiades at Christmas.-