It was the day of Touka Academy’s entrance ceremony. This day was also very special for each of the families. If the families of the students attending Touka Academy were all gathered together, then the companies that ran almost all of Japan, as well as celebrities, would be present. It was hard just to attend that Touka Academy, and there was also a hierarchy among the attendees.
Compared to the general public, even those students who were at the bottom of the hierarchy must’ve seemed like unreachable existences. However, there was an overwhelming difference between an old family with a small fortune and a distinguished family that owned a large conglomerate that controlled Japan’s economy. At Touka Academy, the school these students were attending, the hierarchy would be decided today.
It was also a place where small families could make connections with larger ones, and various schemes and plans of politics or business strategies swirled in the air. Here, parents would get to know each other and arrange political marriages for their children, and companies and conglomerates would often unify and merge together. The entrance ceremony was the first day of this important debut and getting to know each other.
At the entrance ceremony of Touka Academy Elementary, a luxury car stopped, and a girl with doll-like beauty exited.
“Who’s that kid?”
“She even walks beautifully.”
“That’s the wife of the Kujou family…”
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“Fs vbyv xlydp vbyv’p vbl Iwfsw qyxkzu’p…”
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“El byhld’v plld vbyv tkaz clqsal, aktbv?”
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Jwv lhld ps, ds sdl bye xlv vbkp tkaz, vbl uswdt zyeu sq vbl Iwfsw qyxkzu, yv y rzynl zkjl vbyv. Mbl ydpola oyp pkxrzl. Rv oyp clnywpl vbl uswdt zyeu sq vbl Iwfsw qyxkzu, Fyjwuy, byed’v tsdl yduoblal zkjl vbyv sdnl.
“Nssj, zssj, Ggyxk-nbyd. Mbyv tkaz’p nwvl, kpd’v pbl~?”
Her friends around her and all the adults were praising that personage as being “amazing” or “cute”. Azami couldn’t permit that. She was Tokudaiji Azami. Her family and upbringing were different from those kids there. She was someone who could conceivably marry into one of the five great families that controlled this Japan.
This year, the sons of the distinguished Konoe and Takatsukasa families were attending Touka Academy. There were many families that wanted to link through marital relationships and grow closer. Within those families, the Tokudaiji family was one of the prime candidates. There were other daughters from different families who were also considered prime candidates, but Azami was one step ahead of them in the party before Touka Academy, and in her debut.
Everyone around ignored her, and instead fawned over that other girl. How much better could she be?
She was cuter. She was part of the Tokudaiji family. She was closer to Konoe Ibuki. But even so… it was annoying! Annoying, annoying, annoying! It was unforgivable, completely unforgivable!
She was supposed to be the one getting the most attention! They all said she was the closest to marrying into the Konoe family!
“That’s the Konoe family’s…”
There, the Konoes’ car arrived. Naturally, the people who exited were the husband and wife of the Konoe family, and their son, Ibuki. He was the prince who reigned supreme upon all the students attending Touka Academy Elementary this year.
“Azami-chan, you’re marrying Ibuki-sama, right? That sounds nice… I want to marry someone princely like that too!”
“Ha, haha… is that so? Well, if everyone works hard, you’ll be able to get someone like that.”
You might wonder what a child who’s in first-year elementary, no, who’s entering elementary now, was even talking about. But the surrounding adults and children weren’t thinking like that. This was that kind of world; the kind inhabited by people who, from elementary, were thinking about which family to marry their kids into so that they could build ties.
“Aah! Look! Ibuki-sama is talking to that cute girl!”
“And over there, Takatsukasa-sama’s… Enju-kun’s with them too.”
Of all things… Azami was supposed to be his number one marriage candidate… Before he’d even approached her, Ibuki had started talking to that incomprehensible girl in a friendly manner. Both sets of their parents seemed to be on good terms too.
Impossible! Who even was this girl!?
Just with that, Azami’s anger was already at its peak, but then something happened to anger her even further. The Takatsukasa family, who’d come after the Konoe family, started talking happily with that girl’s own family. Even the Takatsukasa son, Enju, was beaming as he talked to her.
Ibuki of the Konoe family and Enju of the Takatsukasa family were the objects of adoration among the students entering Touka Academy Elementary this year. Who was this girl, chatting so casually with those two?
Unforgivable! Unforgivable! Completely unforgivable! That girl who’d captured the attention of the adults, her friends, and even Ibuki and Enju, was absolutely unforgivable!
The people around them, seeing the relationship between the Konoe, Takatsukasa, and Kujou families, even said “Maybe this girl will be the one to marry into either the Konoe or Takatsukasa families”.
She couldn’t acknowledge that. She was the one who’d marry Ibuki. She’d make them realise that Ibuki’s number one marriage candidate was this Tokudaiji Azami!
As the girl from the family called Kujou bowed to both families and walked away from them, Azami constantly glared at her.
After everyone had entered the auditorium and the entrance ceremony had finished… Azami had assembled her followers to look for that girl. She hadn’t heard the name ‘Kujou’, even at parties. They were probably some unimportant family that wouldn’t even be invited to parties like the ones Azami was attending. It should’ve been impossible for someone like that to get close to Ibuki and Enju.
“Ah! Azami-chan! Over here!”
One of her followers had found that girl. Azami immediately looked over to check.
“You did well! Let’s go!”
After confirming it was her, Azami, accompanied by her followers, headed towards that girl. Her followers surrounded the girl, who was attempting to go somewhere else.
As if finally noticing that her surroundings were blocked off, that girl stared blankly at Azami. Then, she looked at the area around her. Azami hoped that once the girl realised she was surrounded, she’d burst into tears. She also hoped that she’d reveal an ungainly side of her in front of Ibuki and Enju, shocking both of them. That’s what she thought, but…
“Aaaah~! It’s Azami-chan~~~! Kya––! Amazing! It’s the real Azami-chan!”
Even so, that girl cried out excitedly while hugging Azami. She and her followers were flabbergasted; not knowing how to react to this sudden event.
She just let that girl touch her, hug her, and shake her hand as hard as she could.
Her followers didn’t know what to do either and were completely flustered. This wasn’t what they were planning. They just planned to surround and put pressure on her, warning her not to get close to Ibuki and Enju, but… that girl was acting very casually around Azami in the first place. Her followers, thinking that maybe they knew each other, were even more unsure what to do. As for the person herself, Azami…
“You… have we met somewhere?”
Maybe she had just forgotten. Had they met? She couldn’t remember at all. But the girl called her by name. Maybe they had met somewhere, she thought, so she checked.
“Huh…? Ah? Right… um… this is our first direct meeting, but I know a lot about you. I’m Kujou Sakuya. Nice to meet you, Tokudaiji Azami-chan.”
The girl, bowing politely, introduced herself as Sakuya. Her movements were almost too perfect. Azami was raised in a high-ranking prestigious family. She had undergone strict training and lessons. She thought that she was quite capable; but compared to Sakuya, what she was doing was just child’s play. It was like a teacher giving an example of what etiquette should be.
“Hello to everyone, too.”
She greeted the followers around her, saying all their names one by one. All everyone could do was be confused. None of them had remembered meeting, but she had gotten all of their names right.
It was possible that she happened to know their names. Azami and the others all knew people who they hadn’t directly met, but whose names they had heard before. But so many people were gathered here, and she still knew all their names without any introductions. That was definitely strange. They all had their heads tilted, question marks accompanying them.
“Do… don’t get ahead of yourself!”
Azami, who didn’t know what to do, finally lifted her hand. She’d planned to slap this girl, who introduced herself as Sakuya, on the cheek as hard as she could, but…
“Alright, a friendly handshake. With this, we’re already friends, right?”
She quickly caught the hand mid-slap and clasped Azami’s hand, making them both shake hands. Then, she smiled cheerfully.
At that time, she was startled. The girl was looking straight at her, her smile soft… and she thought it was beautiful.
Unforgivable. The fact that this girl was close to Ibuki and Enju, and that she’d captured the attention of all the surrounding adults and the children too: all of that was unforgivable. But now, she finally understood what was truly the most unforgivable thing.
Azami couldn’t forgive herself. She couldn’t forgive herself who acknowledged Sakuya as cute when she saw her. She couldn’t forgive herself who was enchanted by Sakuya’s beauty that was even present in the way she walked. She couldn’t forgive herself who thought that Sakuya would look good with Ibuki or Enju. And she couldn’t forgive herself for smiling and feeling happy when someone she detested took her hand and said they were friends.
They left Sakuya, who was standing there blankly… Azami and her followers hurriedly exited the auditorium.
“Is Sakuya midway through the entrance ceremony…”
Momochi Sadao sat on the porch, drinking tea and muttering to himself. Recently, everything in hi life revolved around Sakuya. He taught her everything he possibly could with the time he had.
He thought that he wouldn’t get another disciple until the day he died. After the last disciple had left, he had just been standing alone in this big dojo. He never thought that he’d meet such a great talent at the very last moments. Momochi Sadao, who thought he was going to die alone, gave his all to Sakuya for the last time.
A kid of that age would normally bawl, sulk, immediately scream, and quit when they got scolded. Sadao also knew that much. So, to kids learning Hundred Earth Ancient Dance, he didn’t normally act that strict.
But that Kujou Sakuya was different. No matter how mad she got, she never gave up. She may have sulked a little, but if he explained it to her reasonably, she’d admit her own mistakes, apologise, and zealously practice again. He had never seen such a pleasant child in his life.
No matter how mad she got, she’d intently practice hard over and over again. That was probably something innate. He knew well from personal experience that kids like that would succeed.
“Mr. Momochi! Please come and join us as a judge at…”
“Wait! We’ve been making offers to you since forever! Mr. Momochi! Please become…”
He ignored all the annoying talk the noisy people were spouting. As usual, there were a lot of people who wanted him to be a judge or comment on the Hundred Earth Ancient Dance style, which he found annoying and unbearable.
“You’re noisy… I will not do things like that.”
The Momochi school’s influence was tremendous. It had a strong influence, even on other schools, and a number of people who graduated from that school became company executives. The person who taught those leading figures, Momochi Sadao, had never shown his face to the public. If that person was ever dragged out into the open, he’d be highly regarded even within the business world.
“Leave from here!”
“I’m focusing on training my disciple.”
With those words he let slip, the people crowding him all exchanged glances.
“N-No way, Mr. Momochi has a new disciple!?”
“He wouldn’t accept any more, but…”
“Th-This is huge!”
The people crowding him hurriedly left just from hearing that big scoop. Sadao sipped his tea once again, side-eyeing them.
“*sigh*… I’m not busy… will Sakuya hurry and come soon… I’m ridiculously bored.”
What should he teach her this time? At the moment, he was mainly teaching her about the official side of Hundred Earth, but it wouldn’t be a waste to teach her the hidden side as well. Remembering how she absorbed anything like a sponge, and how she didn’t sulk no matter how mad she got and practiced over and over and over again, Sadao was thinking about a couple of things he could teach her in future lessons.