Chapter 2.2: Unexpected Turn of Events
With the ceremony completed, the newly synthesized Maestros of District E started filing out of the building. As Akira and Akane reached the door, they were stopped by an unexpected visitor.
“Good evening, Akihiro Suzuki-san. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Akira politely greeted the visitor as he and Akane bowed.
“Hahaha, please raise your head, Nishiyama Akira-san. Congratulations. This one next to you is your sister, Nishiyama Akane-san I assume? Congratulations on achieving A-rank. It may not be your brother’s S-rank, but it is wonderful nonetheless. Not to mention, it is a Magic Amplifier class.”
“Thank you very much for your kind words,” Akane bowed lightly with a smile.
“Pardon me, but may I ask what your business is with us?” Akira inquired.
The old man put on a smile that reached deep into his eyes.
“Nothing in particular, I simply wished to see the face of the 16th generation’s second star and congratulate him. I see it was a great decision to get the board to invite you to the Core Synthesis Ceremony.”
Akira’s eyes widened. He had known that his participation had been decided through one of the major boards of the SMC, however, he would have never guessed the leader himself was the one who authorized it.
“Thank you for giving me this chance!” Akira quickly bowed once more as he loudly proclaimed his gratitude.
“Don’t pay it too much heed, I too know what it feels like to face a seemingly insurmountable wall. I merely saw myself and my former colleagues in you and wanted to lend a hand. Many talents are lost due to unfortunate circumstances, but I hoped that I could give you a chance.”
Chuckling, the old man waved his hand.
Hearing this, Akira felt warmth and pride in his heart.
“I will see you again in the future. I wish both of you good luck with your registrations. Well, as both of you will receive a special recommendation letter from the SMC itself as A and S-ranked Maestros, your acceptance to any school is almost guaranteed. I wish you a good afternoon.”
“Thank you, we wish the same for you as well.”
With that, they went their separate ways. As the Nishiyama residence was located near the hall, the siblings started to walk home. After a few minutes of walking, Akane finally burst out with the words she had been holding back.
“Onii-chan, this is great! You finally have a chance!”
“Yeah, I still can’t believe it.”
“Me neither! You’re an S-rank, an S-rank you know! And you just got praised by Suzuki Akihiro himself!”
Watching the evening sky turn orange, Akira walked forward in a trance-like state as his mind was still reeling from his synthesis. Soon enough, the scenery changed from the city to a paved path up a hill. As Akira ascended the hill towards his home, he felt something off. Glancing to his side, he realized Akane was strangely quiet. Usually, whenever they walked together she would always be talking about something or the other. As he was pondering his sister’s sudden silence, Akane spoke up.
“I’m so thankful.”
She whispered quietly.
Turning towards her, he was alarmed to see tears dripping down her elegant face like rain.
“Because of your condition, no one ever believed in you and I always felt so angry and sad by how eventually you just came to accept that you were a failure, that you’d never reach the future you were looking towards. But now, you can finally look forward with that burden off your shoulders. I’m happy for you, I really am.”
Akane stopped walking and continued to cry. Akira was surprised. This was his first time hearing of Akane’s worries, but looking at her crying face he realized how much it had always been weighing on her. She had been worrying about his condition all along and he had never even noticed. Feeling a pang of guilt, he embraced his sister. Akane widened her eyes, but she didn’t resist.
“Akane… I’m sorry for making you worry for so long. I’m really a useless brother, aren’t I?” Akira could only apologize with a self deprecating smile as he patted her head.
As he placed his hand on her head, Akane quickly responded to him.
“That’s not true! You always supported me no matter how ridiculous my decisions were and helped me along the way. I hated seeing my kind big brother being treated like that, but I was never able to help him. That’s why, that’s why, hicc…” She attempted to keep speaking, but words would not come out of her now parched throat.
“It’s fine now, it’s all turned out well, right? Let’s go home quickly and rest, you must be tired from all the nerves you felt earlier today from the synthesis.”
Gently patting her head, Akira cut her off early.
With that, a gentle atmosphere settled between the two. Akira smiled in a reassuring way at his sniffling sister as they walked up the path. Embarrassed by her breakdown and Akira’s now gentle look, Akane hurriedly turned her head in order to hide her face which was slowly reddening. However, Akira did not make fun of her and simply held her shoulder. A little closer, they walked home.