Within the Apostolic Enforcement Agency, the laws of the Heavenly Court are strictly enforced.
There, the Inquisitors are praised as lawful knights, and there are countless youths whose dream of the future is to join their ranks.
So when Cornelia became an Inquisitor Aide, no one that knew her was surprised in the slightest.
It was the realization of her “future dream” that she had written in her grade school yearbook.
There were things that surprised her upon entry, though.
The first and foremost was the amount of free time the job had.
While it’s true that the top Inquisitors are incredibly busy, the department Cornelia had been assigned to was much slower in regards to workload.
And, in a betrayal of her imagination, the atmosphere could only be described as “loose.”
“Sirs and Madams, may I humbly bring to your attention that Cornelia, Third Class Priestess, is reporting for duty! Senior officers, if you would give me the honor of your orders!”
“…I don’t think there’s anything right now. Oh, wait, could you get me a refill on my tea? And you don’t need to use court language at normal times.”
That was the answer given to Cornelia by her senior officer on her first day of work, as she stood at attention, ready to fufill her duties.
“May I humbly bring to your attention that the usage of court language is written into the official regulations!”
“Oh, well, it used to be like that, but Jurisdiction Seven negotiated with the union, and now, it only has to be used outside the offices. Don’t you think court language is way too stiff?
Ah, as much as I’d just love to keep talking about rules and regulations, I wanted to let you know that lunch is actually from 11:45 to 1:00, instead of 12:00 to 1:00.”
“M-madam! I was informed that our lunchtime was at 12:00 to 1:00!”
“At 3:00, we’re supposed to have a fifteen minute break, right? All we did was add that time to lunch instead; the union said it was fine. This is a right your seniors in this office worked hard to get you, so stop complaining.
Another thing, this wasn’t decided by the union or anything, but traditionally, new recruits get to work thirty minutes early in order to clean all the desks and set out the tea. Well, I suppose it is your first day, so don’t feel too bad. It’s been nice talking to you, Cornelia. Oh, and one more thing, the union is throwing a welcome party for all the new recruits today at 6:00 at the Suzuki-ya next door. There’ll be tekkadon!”
“I-I’m honored by your consideration, Second Class Priestess…”
Court language is the archaic way of speaking that Cornelia uses.
Since the text of the law uses archaic tems, it naturally stands to reason that those that uphold it are obligated to use that language while on duty.
But since it’s so different from normal speech, using it all day isn’t easy.
That’s why the union of the workers from each jurisdiction were able to lobby for loosening usage policies in every department except when dealing with places outside.
And that’s why all their normal conversations took place in colloquial language.
“Cornelia, your seat is over here. Your deskmat is new, so use it well.”
“You have my deepest gratitude…”
“Wahaha, it’s all right. Don’t be so formal, no one’s going to get mad at you!”
That was the biggest shock of Cornelia’s first day.
To a girl who had hoped to join the Inquisitor Section no matter what, whose fervent desire was to mete out the death penalty to evil, court language was the largest symbol of all of those hopes.
That place she wanted to devote the entirety of her life to: the Inquisitor Section. So that meant equal devotion to using court language.
In order to use it properly, she had begged her poor parents—saying “I don’t need an allowance”—to send her to court language conversation school once a week.
If court language wasn’t used, then this couldn’t possibly be called the Inquisitor Section.
In order to show her stalwart, singleminded devotion towards entering the Inquisitor Section, Cornelia had used court language in day to day conversation ever since she was a child.
She’d been so unnecessarily diligent in her studies, she had recieved top marks in court language on the Inquisitor entrance examination. She’d also recieved first prize for her usage of the language in an oratorial contest at her school.
Because of her exceptionally high marks on the Heavenly Court personnel examination, accepting her into the organization was simply a matter of course.
In the ministry, usually those with exceptional marks got their choice of department.
However, Cornelia had not been assigned to the department she wanted.
It might have had something to do with her interviews.
Whatever the case, the truth of the matter was that she hadn’t been assigned to Apostolic Enforcement, as she’d hoped, but instead to the General Affairs Department.
The duty of General Affairs was to process various types of paperwork.
Of course, it was still an important department in the struggle against evil, but it was still under the purvey of a different department. At least, different from the one she wanted.
Her first choice had been Jurisdiction Eight, the SSVD.
They were an elite band of Witch Hunters under the command of Wizard Hunting Wright, known for rigid efficiency.
If that wasn’t possible, her second choice would have been Jurisdiction Seven, the Eiserne Jungfrau.
That’s where Dlanor A Knox, famous for her ten wedges, resided.
…but instead of either of them, she ended up in the General Affairs paperwork department.
Cornelia spoke to herself. Of course, even inside her head, she used court language.
Be still, my heart. Listen closely, young Cornelia.
A journey of a thousand miles still begins with a single step.
Understand that this journey we’ve undertaken will be long and arduous until we reach our goal.
She wouldn’t be discouraged.
she told herself that right now, she still wasn’t suitable for those offices, that’s why she had been posted here.
But by building achievments and recognition, the day would surely come that she could transfer to an enforcement department.
Through her immense effort in studying to become an Inquisitor Aide, she’d passed the examination, so it would take similar effort to become a fully fledged Inquisitor.
Now, let us take what comes and put forth our utmost effort!
With those thoughts in mind, she pulled open her desk drawer in order to see what her predecessor had left her.
There was a folder packed with documents, and on top of that, a book.
Being on top, it surely must be the most important data she’d need.
Crosswo. The crossword magazine known for its fabulous prizes.
This was the “data”…that was most important to her predecessor?
“T-this is nothing to lose heart over! Sigh…”
She wouldn’t be discouraged. That refusal to be crushed was one of her most redeeming features.
Cornelia threw the magazine into the recycling bin. Of course she removed the staples before doing it.
If the work she wanted hadn’t been given to her, it was because she wasn’t at the level needed to accomplish it.
So what she needed to do was learn the work of her senior staff members and quickly be recognized as an independent worker.
If she could do work that had greater responsibility then she’d be given even more work along those lines. And then, she’d have greater and greater achievements until she would earn that dangling-eared cap, just like she’d passed the Inquisitor examination!
The “dangling-eared cap” is a hat that only Inquisitors are permitted to wear.
It’s called that because of the two “ears” that hang at the sides.
It’s said the first time you have them hanging is when your desire to become an Inquisitor has been truly granted.
So the earless hat she had now felt like nothing more than a nurse’s cap.
“Listen closely, my regulation cap. One day you too shall grow a pair of ears. Someday, surely, without fail.” Gripping her hat tightly with both hands, she made an oath for its future.
Now, we must do our best. Merely idling will not help us learn our tasks.
If we can’t learn, then we shall be entrusted with nothing.
We can’t just wait to be told. We can’t just wait, slackjawed, for someone else to tell us what to do.
Use your eyes to take in what you see.
People that wait to be told are the ones that are always called idiots by middle aged men, and branded the “lazy generation” out of irritation.
I can’t just appeal to those that are sympathetic to my passion for studying.
I’ll carefully observe my senior coworkers at work, and steal their methods.
One of the staff members had the sports page of a newspaper out, and was circling things with a red pencil.
Another staff member on the other side of the room, next to the window, was clutching a tea cup as it was the realization of their fondests wishes.
There was one tapping furiously away on their laptop computer, but as soon as Cornelia walked behind them, they quickly changed the screen of what they were working on.
…of course, there were a few doing paperwork, but there was nothing really to learn about that.
So, in other words, there weren’t any working habits Cornelia could use as a reference.
“Hey, Cornelia, can I ask you a favor?”
“A-at your leisure, Second Class Priestess!”
“Don’t be so formal, it’s embarassing. Just use my name. Now, about today’s lunch. We were planning on calling Sweetfish River for noodles, did you want anything?”
“I-I have prepared a lunch from home. Thanks you very kindly, but I must refuse.”
“…Oh, I see. Well, would you please place the order for us?”
Her predecessor had left a telephone number on her deskmat, at a glance it looked like a local delivery shop.
Cornelia dialed 0 to reach an outside location and then…beep, beep, beep-beep, beep-beep…beep.
“Hey, this is Sweetfish River!”
“Madam, if I may humbly…”
“Hello? You there?”
“Madam, if I may humbly state that I desire to place an order for a lunchtime repast to be delivered to our abode!”
“Huh? Hey Pa, did you screw with this phone? You know a ‘Mr. Abode’? Someone wants a re-passed!”
“Oh honestly, give me that. Yes, yes, you’ve reached Sweetfish River Noodle Shop!”
“Sir, if I may be allowed to present a list of things I desire to order!”
“Huh?! Oh, yeah, yeah, sure, order away! Ma, it’s someone from the court, they don’t want no re-passed! Yes, your order please!”
“M-my humble order is as follows. A serving of duck, one large order, tempura, katsudon…”
“A large order of duck?! Or did you want a large serving of noodles?! Soba or udon with the tempura?! It’s okay if the katsudon is Kantou style, right?!”
“Huh, ah…mmm…Please abide for a moment while I confirm.”
“Miss, you’re a new one, right? Don’t worry about that court language. I’ll wait, so go ask your superiors for their orders again.”
Being told not to use court language by even the owner of a shop she was ordering from?
Feeling like she had something stuck in her throat, she went to gather orders from the senior staff once again.
“Sir, the orders are as follows. …One large order of duck. Tempura may be prepared in the Kantou style. There is no preference, so either soba or udon maybe be prepared with the katsudon…”
“Hey, wait, I didn’t want a large order of duck, just regular!”
“You got yours mixed up with mine, maybe? I ordered the large duck.”
“Hey, what’s with the tempura served Kantou style? Is that new? I’ll change my order to that!”
“Make sure the katsudon isn’t the set, I want it a la carte. I’m not young any more, so I can’t eat a whole set. That’s right, the other day I had to get my uric acid level checked. My old lady wouldn’t shup up about it.”
“…??? Y-your orders have been recieved…”
“Corneliaaa, that’s why I keep on saying not to use court language. If you use funny phrases, the order will get messed up.”
“Mm…however, the noodle shop is located outside of the department. According to regulations, court language must be utilized…”
“Hey, new face, you doing okay? Can you repeat the order?”
“S-Sir, the orders I have humbly gathered are as follows. One, a large order of duck. One, a regular order of duck. One, tempura prepared in the Kantou style. One, katsudon.”
“HUH? Is the tempura udon or soba?! And Kantou-style comes with an egg, or you can get Kansai-style with two kinds of sauces!”
“I-I beg your abject patience. Please allow me to collect the particulars once more.”
The noodle shop clearly thought Cornelia was an idiot, unable to even place an order properly.
But to her, who had never ordered from a noodle shop before, it was more difficult than the Inquisitor examination.
“…Corneliaaaaa, I TOLD you. If you use court language, the order is going to get messed up.”
The correct order had been: one large order of duck, one large order of morisoba, one tempura udon, and one order of katsudon.
Since she hadn’t specified udon or soba for the tempura, the restaurant had assumed they wanted a sort of combination platter.
The only thing she’d gotten right was the order of duck and the katsudon. So she had misordered two things.
Cornelia hadn’t been able to complete her first job, ordering lunch. The older workers that had gone to the convience store to buy things whispered things like “kids these days” and “I guess we have to be patient” behind her back.
It would have been better to take the advice to drop the formal speaking, but she had obstinantly refused.
The result of that was, those senior workers that had been going easy on her as a rookie, were now more inclined to treat her like a stubborn pair of chopsticks that refused to open.
There was a huge difference between the sweet pampering of the morning, and the sighs that followed in the afternoon.
And so her life as a new worker continued like that.
There was a difference between the training institute that had rewarded her strict attention to duty with high marks, and the real world that quickly tired of her attitude.
Her plan to advance towards her dream had been thrown off course.
Looking at her face in the bathroom mirror, she sighed over the loss of ambition she saw reflected there.
“…It will escape.”
She’d been staring into the mirror, as always, and naturally hadn’t expected a voice to speak up from behind.
It’ll escape? What will? How? Huh?
When she looked over her shoulder, what she saw was a staff member of a different department.
No, she shouldn’t be called a staff member.
No mistaking it, the cap she was wearing had ears.
“I-I beg your humblest apologies, Inquisitor!”
“…I have ears, but I’m not an Inquisitor yet.”
“Oh? Ah…excuse my impertinence, Senior Aide!”
“…It will escape.”
For some reason, this conversation wasn’t progressing well.
But this woman with the beautiful, long blonde hair had to be a Senior Aide that had passed the Inquisitor exam.
Just passing the examination wasn’t enough to guarentee a place among the Inquisitors.
In order to constantly be fully staffed, the various Inquisitor sections had waiting lists.
Those Aides that had the qualifications, but didn’t have a seat yet were called Senior Aides by the department.
Those Senior Aides that would become Inquisitors in the future acted as the right hand men and women of Inquisitors, assisting in important missions…they were first in line for an opening…
Cornelia’s upraised eyes couldn’t help but reflect a mixture of longing and envy.
…But hearing a Senior Aide speaking like this was sort of depressing.
“M-madam, forgive my impertinence, but may I enquire what it is that will flee?”
“…It will escape.”
“May I enquire as to why?”
“…Because you’re sighing.”
Sighing allows happiness to escape.’
She took a really troublesome way to express that simple sentiment.
It’s hard to believe that someone that can’t even carry on a simple conversation is actually a Senior Aide.
…But maybe that isn’t all bad.
Everyone thinks I’m weird now too.
And if there was a chance for someone as strange as her to become a Senior Aide, it’s not so bad to think there might be a chance for me.
“…It’s best to relax.”
“Are you referring to my posture?”
“…Yeah, that’s right.”
“Thank you very kindly for your advice. I will take it to heart.”
“Y-yes, I understood your words.”
What a strange person.
Her way of saying one sentence fragment at a time is irritating in that it’s difficult to understand.
Of course, someone like me, who’s practically obsessed with court language doesn’t really have room to judge.
Maybe I’m the only one that bothers to fuss over court language.
It’s like trying to force people that are busy to “sit up straight” when they’re trying to get work done.
Thinking about it like that, I can’t help but hang my head and sigh again.
When that happened, the Senior Aide quickly…or, it might be more accurate to say at the speed of a normal person, admonished her.
“An Inquisitor’s duty is to root out heresy, not converse in court language.”
Cornelia was speechless. There was nothing to be said in response.
Perhaps if her relaxed coworkers had said it like that, it wouldn’t have sunk in.
But it was impossible to ignore the words of a Senior Aide.
“M-My most abject apolo…mmm…I’m…sorry.”
It really had been a long time since she used coloquialisms. …it was almost embarassing.
While I continued hanging my head, blushing in shame, this Senior Aide saw straight to my core.
And smiled gently at my self-reflection without a word.
Outside in the hallway, there was a notice attached to the bulletin board.
It stated that the personnel department was taking applications for a proposal project.
It was a request for self motivated workers to come up with voluntary public project, and the one that best fit the qualifications of the personnel department would be considered for actual implementation.
I had been so depressed earlier that I hadn’t noticed it.
“Madam, if I might be allowed to humbly state—”
The Senior Aide met my eyes at my sudden use of court language.
“—my resolution has sprung forth anew, and I hope you will keep your gaze upon me and the realization of my passion. I will strive to meet your faith in me.”
That was my first meeting with Senior Aide Gertrude.
My first impression was of a quiet woman who was just as peculiar as me.
Knowing that someone so strange, with that choking accent, had manged to pass the Inquisitor Exam gave me self confidence. That was the extent of my thoughts.
But, really, she was an excellent aide. Anyone and everyone could recognize that.
It was just her dull, stiff way of talking.
Even though no one was really her friend, and people found her difficult to approach, everyone still understood that she supported the seven official Eiserne Jungfrau Inquisitors from the shadows, and everyone accepted her as an honorary eighth member.
So, she pointed out the bulletin in order to raise my spirits and challenge me.
I might have been having problems dealing with the people in my office, but there’s no way I could lose when it came to studying and essays.
Since the deadline was soon, I decided to submit a short term project.
Halloween was just around the corner.
That’s why I decided to make Halloween the subject of my proposal.
In the human world, Halloween is a time where ghosts and other apparitions can intermingle with that world.
It was the same for those that weren’t human.
To them, Halloween was a time when hell and heaven’s restrictions on visiting the human world were dramatically lifted—a cause for celebration.