After that ruckus at the academy gate, Rudel dismounted the carriage, and carried his belongings off to the boys’ dorm he would be using. His few possessions were brought in with only a few round trips, and after the servants gave some vague words of parting, they immediately made off.
“Not a bad room at all… though I get the feeling this room’s a bit too big for one as part of a school dorm.”
Removing his heavily ornamented nobles clothes, he changed into something easier to move in as he scanned over his schedule. After tomorrow’s entrance ceremony, an explanatory meeting and a welcome party awaited. At age fifteen, the students would choose between a two, three, or five year curriculum… there was sure to be many more talented than he, and he was competing with them to be a knight.
As he thought over such a thing, Rudel started moving his body in the room he had finished getting in order. With all this tension and anxiety, if I don’t move around… he felt.
But even if he did it, he couldn’t calm down. Ever since he came to the academy, he experienced anxiety and nervousness he had never felt before. He felt something close to an obsession forcing him to leave his room.
“What is this? This has never happened before…”
He spoke as he put on just enough clothing that he wouldn’t be embarrassed if seen walking around. Even if he walked around the academy- the immediate area around the boys’ dorm to be precise- ‘this isn’t the place,’ a strange feeling resounded through his head… oh whatever! He let his legs move as they fancied.
And where his feet led him… was the girl’s dorm.
“Am I really that pent up? No, that’s, well… I am a guy, and it’s not like I don’t have any interest.”
Rudel was quite flustered at the fact he had unconsciously walked here. To him, a number of female soldiers approached warily.
“What are you doing over there? That is the girls’ dorm, and it’s forbidden for any males to enter.”
It was a courteous explanation, but the girl’s dorm held some students of high social standing. As these soldiers would be the first to be disposed of if anything happened, the boys were nothing but troublesome existences.
Because of that, polite as they were, there was power in the hands they used to grip the swords on their waists.
“M-my apologies. I just lost my way… could you direct me towards the boys’ dorm?”
“… I’ll take you there. But don’t think that excuse will work a second time.”
The fed-up group stuck a single on Rudel and sent him on his way.
“Good grief, it will be troublesome if you nobles don’t get a grip on yourselves! Listen here, one mistake, and it’ll be a large problem that’ll erupt in turmoil between houses…”
The female soldier walking ahead scolded and explained with a weary voice. These academy problems that were often hushed up were sources of unceasing hardships for the soldiers.
Looks like you have it hard… was all Rudel could feel. He had no indecent feelings to start with, and it was a place he didn’t think he’d approach again. Rudel occasionally apologized to the female soldier’s words as he walked down the path to the boys’ dorm.
“Ah! Could you show me your student ID? It’s regulations, for argument’s sake, so I have to confirm your identity…”
From nobles to general applicants, the academy housed countless students, and carrying around a student ID was an obligation. It was a measure to make sure no strange folks slipped in, but managing the students was its main purpose. The student ID recorded the number of house arrests to that point, and the sorts of problems one had caused.
“Here you go.”
Aiming for a lawful life, Rudel carried around his ID just as stated in the school regulations he had confirmed beforehand. When he handed it over…
“… Rudel Arses? Archduke Arses-sama’s!!! M-my deepest apologies!!! I have gone too far beyond my bounds! You had some sort of business at the girls’ dorm, correct? I’ll take you back at once…”
“N-no, I really was just lost!”
“Yes! I-in that case, I shall call for, ‘someone who can introduce you to those sorts of woman’.. so please, if possible… please, not the students… my apologies, I’m being rude, aren’t I.”
Rudel looked upon the flurried female soldier with considerable pity. And at the same time, he understood just how he was seen… did he really look that starved? That on his mind, he became terribly depressed.
Somehow managing to clear up the misunderstanding, Rudel returned to his room and relaxed. Perhaps interacting with more people than ever before had worn him out, and while it was still early, he decided to sleep.
Once morning came, he opened his eyes at daybreak as had become custom. After going to get the uniform he forgot to retrieve the day before, he realized he had the time, so he decided to venture out to the boys’ dorm courtyard.
But that scene was nowhere near tranquil. The crude crowd of men practiced their swords and held matches, the sound of wood and metal colliding ringing out all around. The sight was one that delighted Rudel.
(Everyone’s working hard after all. If I don’t put in my best, they’ll overtake me in no time.)
So Rudel found an open space in the yard and started swinging his sword. A number of upperclassmen spotted him and tried to say something, but instead decided to leave him be as they shed their own sweat.
After a while went by, the bell rang out six times… hearing that, the students began cleaning up and walking towards the cafeteria. Rudel hesitated over whether or not to follow.
“You’re a new student, aren’t you? Even if you’re going over, you can take it easy for now… the place is empty around this hour.”
“It was written that the cafeteria was popular, so it’s better to hurry.”
Rudel recalled a list of important pointers he had read sometime before. In regards to that, the upperclassman boy,
“It gets crowded when the bell rings seven times. But the folks around here are about the only ones up at this hour.”
So like that he followed his upperclassmen, and entered the school cafeteria. In it, the forms of boys with their plates piled high with food… caused his own stomach to hurt.
“See, isn’t it empty? I’m Vargas, a third year.”
“I’m Rudel. Rudel Arses.”
“A noble? I’m from the sticks, so I’m a bit dim when it comes to nobles… well whatever, let’s get along.”
Upperclassman Vargas, with his long, red hair tied behind. His cocoa tanned skin and firm build did feel a bit frightening, but after talking to him, he was a sociable young man.
To Rudel, it was the moment he got a friend he could talk to outside of his family.
Returning to his room from the cafeteria, Rudel changed into his uniform, entering a large building under academy orders. Rather than an auditorium, it was practically… right, it was a space like an arena. As fighting did actually happen in this space, the description wasn’t wrong, but…
“I rejoice at the many youngsters we welcome through our doors this ye…”
After receiving the long address of the headmaster, the students were split into classes and sent to their classrooms. Generally speaking, the school taught only the basis over the first two years, and the class separation was only in place to separate opposing nobles, or gather those of low standing in one place… they were arbitrary things.
But Rudel was the eldest son of the Arses House, one of the Three Lords. To avoid any discourtesy, he was sent to the class solidified with young nobles. And this year, besides Rudel, the eldest sons of the other Three Lords would be entering as well, so the academy was filled with a tense air.
“I hope we get along for the next two years.”
The homeroom teacher gave a light greeting, and the class introductions… was supposed to end safely.
But it couldn’t be so. Something would happen, no, he had to make something happen! A strange sensation ruled over Rudel. Worrying over that sensation he had never felt before coming to this university, Rudel finished his own introduction without incident.
With the introduction of a single girl of the orient, the air of the classroom took a turn. Black hair and eyes were a rare sight in Courtois; those oriental characteristics became the perfect target to the children. Jeers flew, and statements to hurt the girl fluttered around.
A class centered around nobles. For an orient girl to be in that class, it was likely under the pretense of cultural exchange. In actuality, it was to direct eyes towards her to make sure the nobles didn’t snarl at one another.
The boys behind her pulled at her long, ponytail-tied hair in jest… In the girl being harassed, Rudel saw his own sister Lena. Unlike Lena’s uncurling hair looked silky to the touch.
“Why don’t you stop? Do you know how shameful you look?”
It only took a line from Rudel’s mouth for the classroom to return to silence. The teacher endorsed it and cautioned the students who teased her. For these kids who grew up in noble society, they were well attuned to the pecking order. By house status, there was no one who could oppose Rudel of the Three Lords.
And at the end, the teacher praised Rudel, and those around approved… to Rudel, that scene looked terribly twisted.