The four who went to serve as decoys… got wrapped up in intense combat they did not, as they ran around. To be more precise, it was a repeat of hit, run and hide. The four of them coordinated attacks as they fled.
“What’s with that bird!? I don’t even know if magic is working, and approaching it is dangerous… isn’t there anything we can do about it?”
Luecke noticed they lacked the power to land anything decisive, but there, Aleist gave his opinion.
“Down! It’s maximizing the effect of status down skills!”
Aleist unraveled the game knowledge he carried in his head. What he remembered was abnormal status magic and special skills. They weren’t particularly useful in the game.
“Down? The hells that?”
But neither Eunius nor Luecke seemed to get it. The down Aleist referred to was a special ability to lower the parameters of an enemy, but it didn’t scale well in-game…
“Any means to prevent it?”
Rudel understood Aleist had some sort of info on the enemy and tried asking. But…
“There’s recovery items, and the probability of down taking effect isn’t that high…”
“By recovery item… you mean medicine? There’s a medicine that’ll erase this special effect? And you somehow plan to use it while fighting?”
While Luecke thought over it, Eunius let out a sigh.
“If something like that’s out there, then our best bet would be the guards… but whether we can get any or not is all up to chance. In that case, we can only settle it with one blow.”
On Eunius’ thoughts, Aleist held his head.
“There’s no way a boss would go down in one hit…”
Running around, those tattered four stepped forward for their final actions. Luecke with his magic… Eunius channeled magic into his large blade… Aleist used his prided magic sword, and Rudel prepared magic on both his hands.
The first to move, Luecke aimed for the moment the bird noticed them and began its descent, giving the signal.
“Now! Everyone attack!!!”
Luecke shot a large-scale magic at the bird… once the impact caused it to lose its balance and fall, this time Eunius slashed with his sword, and Rudel launched his assault. Eunius’ blade cut into the bird’s wings, and Rudel’s special move sent it flying a distance… and one person was left.
“D-did that do it in…!?”
The words Leucke spoke out of breath were soon answered, blood flowing all over its body, the brutal bird stood to its feet. Eunius renewed his stance, but Rudel wasn’t even able to stand. An overuse of mana… the backlash put a burden on his body. And making that even worse was the bird’s ability.
“Tsk! I never would’ve imaginied it would be this hard to move… Leucke… can you stand?”
“Don’t make light of me, Eunius! It’s not that I can’t stand! I just don’t want to…”
On Eunius’ words, Leucke showed some backbone. As the three of them were assailed by the bird’s ability, Aleist alone was safe. But the man in question hesitated to cut at the beast’s sinister form.
“What are you doing, Hardie!? Get in an attack! You can still make it!”
Aleist moved at Eunius’s words, but at that moment… fire rained down from the sky, reducing the bird to cinders… that spectacle was almost as if it was roasted on a pillar of flames.
Once the fire died down, and the forest went quiet… it was right at that time the sun began to rise, and the area grew brighter. Descending, bathed in its light, was Cattleya on her Red Dragon.
Cattleya got down from her dragon and looked around. On her form, tattered as he was, Rudel couldn’t help but feel excited. But after taking in the situation, the conclusion Cattleya came to on her own…
“It looks like one of you persisted to the end. As expected of Hardie-kun, I guess? On the other hand… Rudel, you’re all beaten up, and you can’t even stand. You really are unsightly.”
As Cattleya stood before the four, with Aleist being the only one left standing, and taking her own feelings into account, she couldn’t think that Rudel had persisted. No, she didn’t want to think it. Even when, from his strength, she was easily able to imagine him contributing to the battle…
The standing Cattleya looked down over the collapsed Rudel. On her words, Rudel felt ashamed that he hadn’t changed at all from the year before. He had trained… he had learned… but even so, Rudel ended up being saved.
Within that scene, Aleist…
“Eh? … What’s with this situation? And my meeting with Cattleya-san should come much later… huh!?”
The events in the forest became a topic of hot conversation within the academy. ‘In order to save the princess, Aleist volunteered to be a decoy!’ this talk made Aleist quite the popular one on campus… but the Three Lords… Rudel and the others’ assesments weren’t quite to par.
For Eunius and Luecke, as expected of the heirs to the Three Lords! They’d say and praise them, but for Rudel alone, it even came to a problem of responsibility. He was criticized for volunteering to be a decoy. He didn’t understand his standing… It was a result of the guard reports, and Chlust who had fled before anyone realized it spreading lies to change the point of any blame put against him…
‘On top of Rudel spreading fear and disorder, he wasn’t of any use in battle.’
The fact he risked his life to save the princess didn’t get across, and in regards to this case, Rudel was horribly blamed. The academy itself denied the rumors, but by that action, ‘Is he sealing their mouthes with money?’ or ‘They’re covering it up precisely because it’s true!’ the students had reached their conclusions.
In order to heal his beaten body, Rudel was admitted to the infirmary. Lying at the window-side bed that was quickly becoming his reserved space, he could naught but look at the sky. And by his side, Izumi peeling fruit was the usual sight.
“You think I’ll see a dragon… you think one’ll fly over…”
He had his fill of boring patient life. In the adjacent beds, Luecke and Eunis were admitted just in case. Unlike Rudel’s terrible shape, they had gotten off with light injuries.
“Are you always like this?”
To Luecke’s question, Izumi gave a bitter smile.
“We’re fine and all, but… Rudel, you can’t just be sitting back here, right?”
Right, Rudel alone was in a horrible situation.
“I’m sorry. I explained it to everyone in my class, but it seems the academy is moving towards hushing this incident up. To be more precise, everyone’s trying to push blame onto one another… making it that you caused the problem, they’re postponing your punishment. In the worst case… you might be expelled, no I heard they’ll forcefully make you graduate.”
Rudel reacted to those words. With a serious expression…
“Izumi… what do you think I should name my special attack? Doing it with just a random yell every time is harsh. You have something cool, and short enough that they won’t see it coming?”
“Oy, you might be expelled here. And you’re on about special moves!?”
Luecke made a face of disbelief.
“You can become a knight on just the two years of fundamental education. I’ll just work my way up to dragoon from there, so… I’m not particularly interested. No, it’s a pity to lose the learning environment of this school.”
Rudel completely failed to answer the question. On his words, Izumi looked down, a dark look on her face. Izumi was irritated at Chlust. Chlust and the underclassmen who ran away with him were moving to build up Rudel’s sins in order to conceal their disgrace.
Using the power of their houses… but this was strange. No matter the case, it wasn’t normal for them to dress Rudel up to this level, and it even seemed downright impossible. Perhaps there was some blame in Rudel’s actions. But Rudel also had his reasons.
That bird’s abnormal abilities made those around it belligerent, it could be said it excited them. Put under that effect, Rudel was unable to make rational decisions. That had been proven by medical professionals, and even on top of that, the academy tried to push blame onto Rudel.
Izumi gradually felt Rudel was enraptured within some larger flow… as if this was brought about by a malign twist of fate. As he walked against the stream, Rudel’s intense defiance of the force almost seemed to be chipping his life away.
Around that time, Princess Fina was recuperating in her room. With the questioning and interviews she received each day on this matter, in order to heal her daily fatigue…
(Fluffy fever!!! Today’s the day I pet and fondle the hell out of Mii!!!)
“Don’t run, Mii.”
… She had invited her best friend Mii to her room. With the danger she had been put through this time around, knights from her home had raced in as well. In truth, just beyond her room’s door, robust female knights stood on duty. If they made a ruckus in the room, it would be heard outside.
Even now, Courtois held a prejudice towards demi-humans. Paying mind to that, Fina had kept quiet to that point. But.
“P-princess! You don’t have to pet me that much… why are you groping my breasts!?”
Chasing Mii around on the bed, Fina pet and fondled her all over. With her expressionless face, she pursued nothing more than fluff.
“I want to pet you.”
(I can’t get enough of this! The taste of fluffing up this cute little kitten… my body can’t live without the fluff anymore!!! I can’t endure it any longer! When I don’t know when I’m going to die, holding back is… ah! I have to learn master’s technique!)
And such a thing would end up saving Rudel.