Section 7: Tikarodeka
Song, the vocalization of a prescribed scale.
Words have power, and that power is carried in every note. A note’s duration, pitch, melody, all of that originated in the world’s first song sung by the Goddess Illya…….it all came from the Psalm to All.¹
And there is still a place where you can hear this psalm, or hymn as it’s more commonly referred to today, even though a thousand years have already passed.
That’s right, the church.
“Hoh, what an incredibly magnificent church.”
The sound of the harp is both quiet and graceful accompanied by the sweet voice of the soprano which calms the nerves followed by a powerful contralto that carries you through. The sisters weaving their voices together in one unified chorus are fully dressed in deep blue robes. And on the hem, sleeves, and chest of those robes are white, embroidered flowers.
That flower is called a Tikarodeka. The name is drawn form the old language and translates to “Majestic White”.
The flowers are also a symbol of the church and can be found all over the city. Obviously they are especially abundant here.
“The church was built when the city was at its most prosperous. You could say it’s the oldest and largest building in the area.”
“Certainly, it is beautiful. Each pillar is adorned with decorations leading all the way to the ceiling…….”
The church has three spires, one of which carries a bell at the very top of it. It is equipped with a mechanism that rings the bell once during the morning, once in the afternoon, and again in the evening to tell the city’s inhabitants about the time.
A white marble floor reflected the light pouring through the prismatic stained-glass windows lined all along the walls. As such the sisters sang their song in a rainbow painted world. No matter how many times I visit, I always feel like I’m visiting another world entirely.
“Oi Carol. Please don’t do anything unnecessary.”
“I wasn’t going to do anything even if you didn’t tell me. Jeez, there’s no trust here.”
“If you want me to trust you, change your day to day attitude.”
“Right, that’s impossible.”
The heel of our boots echoes with each step we take. And with four of us walking together like this, a loud enough sound resonates throughout the church to start turning some of the sisters’ heads. The reason why I only say four is because I have no idea how Carol is doing that with her feet. She’s wearing the same exact boots the rest of us are, but I’ve never once heard any noise coming from her footsteps.
That’s how most people in this town refer to me. It’s the same way even in a place I don’t remember visiting that often like this, so I turn my head back to the voice calling out to me.
“Ah, Aronda-san. Sorry it’s been so long.”
I was met with a white-haired woman wearing glasses. This is Aronda-san. She’s been a kind of town-wide onee-san ever since she was assigned to this church ten years ago, and us younger generation of girls have been able to come to her and talk about whatever problem might be bothering us. She is wearing a dark blue robe just like all the other sisters, but the design of her robe is slightly different. The Tikarodeka embroidered on the chest is also framed with gold thread.
“Yesterday, I came home for the first time in six months. I’m here today to deliver a report……”
I turned around and looked at Rose-san behind me.
“It is an honor to meet you Priestess Aronda. I am Rosalith Cuulbacall, and I am traveling with these adventurers as part of my training.”
Rose-san stepped forward next to me, and after showing Aronda-san the holy seal on her chest, gave her a polite bow.
“I come to you this day with a report and request your ear.”
“I have been waiting for you Priestess Rosalith. I was aware Iris-chan was returning, and you would be coming with her.”
From behind her glasses, Aronda-san’s gentle gaze focused on me as a wave of confusion hit me in the head.
“It must have been hard for you, Iris-chan.”
I see. Rose-san had said something similar when we were leaving Relton. The Goddess Illya already knows what happened. And so now Aronda-san knows as well. Which means that right now she is talking about everything that happened in Relton.
“My friends were there, so no, it wasn’t.”
“……..Yes. In the short while I haven’t seen you, you have become much stronger.”
Aronda-san’s gaze grew soft, narrowing her eyes and stroking my head before turning her eye behind me. Currently the person at my back would be Saluena who has been standing there as if she were my shadow this entire time.
“And then you…..are her correct?”
“Indeed. I am Hadion. The Dark Violet Knight who betrayed humanity and turned her blade against the Goddess.”
“Hold on!? Oh Aronda-san, Hadion is, I mean Saluena is…….”
Why is this honest to a fault woman admitting to her own betrayal? Sure it might be technically true, but that’s not what really happened. Hadion only did those things because she was being controlled by Osnell.
“How wonderful, welcome back. Also, you have my heartfelt gratitude for saving Iris-chan like you did.”
But Aronda-san was reacting like I thought she would. Her calm demeanor hadn’t changed, and she was even smiling.
Rose-san was just as surprised as I was. As a matter of fact, her mouth was left hanging open in shock after she had opened it to try and defend Saluena like I did.
“…….I have done nothing to earn your gratitude. My contributions pale in comparison to that of those here: the elf swordswoman Tosrillon, the half-wolf maiden Carotayle, and my sister Rosa.”
“Oh, is that so? Then Tosrillon-san, Carotayle-san, and Priestess Rosalith, you each are deserving of my gratitude as well. For returning Iris-chan to us, thank you very much.”
“We’ve been with Iris for half a year now, so the decision was a no-brainer.”
“Yeah yeah, no-brainer. But if you really want to show your gratitude, then maybe you can show your appreciation with something a little more tangible like mugagumwa!!”
“Hey you, I just told you not to do anything unnecessary. Now keep quiet for an eternity, okay?”
Toslin wrapped her arm around Carol’s neck. She then put her hand over Carol’s mouth, completely cutting off her breath. Well if it was a complete stranger I might try to stop them or call for help, but I can just leave these two alone.
Aronda-san didn’t seem particularly surprised about the situation either and wrote it off as just a bit of play as well. But that’s not to say she wasn’t surprised at all. It’s just that her curious gaze was instead turned to Rose-san.
“Priestess Rosalith……a little bit ago, did Hadion-sama refer to you as a sister?”
“……yes. The other day we exchanged a sisterly pledge with each other.”
“Hoh, then congratulations are in order. I must say, as a fellow priestess, I am quite jealous of you.”
“No, as a priestess I am still inexperienced, a novice who is still bound by a vow of chastity. There is still much I need to learn, and every day I am acutely reminded of the experience I lack.”
“Fufu, and yet I still find myself envious. In such a limited amount of time, you have fortuitously met a partner you feel destined with and bound yourselves together.”
Aronda-san broke off Rose-san’s seal right in front of her eyes before bestowing her blessing.
“May the Goddess bless you and your loved ones.”
“…….thank you very much. And may you be blessed as well, Priestess Aronda.”
Rose-san returned the prayer, but was I the only one who thought she looked depressed as she did so?
1. Instead of a psalm, the literal translation here would be ‘curse song’. It’s a type of chant onmyoji would sing to cleanse a place of evil spirits.