It happened a little while after Rudel returned to the academy from the town on the border. Vargas was hospitalized in the infirmary. His arm’s injury was terrible and he required treatment even after he got back.
And once they returned, the eldest sons of the Three Lords were all called out by the academy’s headmaster. About the dragoon Lilim’s breakout, and the empire’s experimental ogre.
“You’ve brought some troublesome things back with you. In the years since I first came to this academy… no, since this academy’s founding, rarely have we come across students who’ve caused so much trouble.”
Before the slightly worn-out headmaster, Rudel felt apologetic. After receiving a hush and various information manipulating orders, the headmaster and the teachers were breaking their bones on the punishment of these three.
Surprisingly, the houses besides the Arses House didn’t have anything particular to say in regards to the matter, so that made matters somewhat easier… As expected, the Arses House alone said to punish Rudel abnormally for it. The evasive exchanges continuing on, the headmaster put to work by the palace had his share of trouble.
“Hah, even if you were just dragged into the mess, just look at what’s happened. The three of you will be receiving a week of house arrest each. Because the official statement is that you were rescued from your dangerous plight by Lilim and Cattleya, the two dragoons… well, just use it to rest your bodies.”
To the headmaster who was sighing often, Rudel posed a question.
“What about those two’s punishment?”
“As it’s become that they saved you, the problems they’ve caused up to now were written off. It’s spread around quite quickly… while the Diade and Halbades House have given tacit content, this matter is something of an open secret among the nobles and royalty. With the empire’s experiment, it doesn’t look like they can make these matters public. From what I’ve heard, it’s because the Arses House alone issued a protest that the two of them have received minor disciplinary action.”
“It’s a good thing it’s only minor, right Rudel?”
At the headmaster’s answer, Eunius closed one eye and smiled at Rudel. Luecke let out an enervated sigh as he looked at him.
“We’re also being subjected to that minor disciplinary action though.”
In contrast to the two, Rudel felt mildly depressed learning that his plea letter to his house had been of no use at all. When he said he would save her, what really helped her out was the approval of Luecke and Eunius’ houses, alongside the fact the empire was conducting experiments. Rudel hadn’t done a thing.
“… Well, you students don’t have to worry about it. For now, that is.”
Leaving the headmaster’s room, the three of them headed for the disciplinary room of the boys’ dorm.
Rumors of Rudel had spread through the academy. Of all things rumors that he had taken on a subjugation request at the border, failed, and had to be rescued by dragoons. As such rumors spread, the academy’s reactions were largely divided in two. The first, did Rudel do something again? Something like that, and if they had to say, then they thought of it no more as another page being added to Rudel’s heroic epic (lol).
But the second sort was a problem. It was a reaction largely from the new students who didn’t know much about Rudel… some easygoing nobles tried to earn some pocket money and ended up in disaster. Is how they saw it.
To the commoners and demi-humans who were oppressed on a daily basis, life—or-death jobs were what allowed them to live on. They couldn’t stand a student taking them on half for fun. And a central figure to the new students called Fritz was another large factor.
Some such students holding their dissatisfactions gathered in the cafeteria for lunch. Fritz included, around six students ran their mouths loud enough for the nobles eating separately to hear. This was only permitted because starting with Rudel, Luecke and Eunius suppressed the young nobles trying to crush Fritz.
When Fritz talked smack of Rudel for the world to see, of course, the other noble students were irritated. When Rudel heard of it from his former classmates, he cautioned them not to raise a hand. For Luecke and Eunius, it was Rudel’s problems, so they gave similar orders to their own followers.
The fruit of their efforts tied into the events of the cafeteria.
“Nobles sure have it nice. If they’re ever in trouble, the dragoons swoop in to save the day.”
“When it comes to Rudel, isn’t he the worst problem child since this academy’s founding? Even that guy can have a stable future, so you really are a winner if you’re born to a noble.”
“Doesn’t Rudel have a little brother? That guy’s brother is apparently a piece of trash who abandoned the princess in the school outing.”
Unluckily, class scheduling prevented any student outside the fundamental curriculum from being present in that cafeteria, and without any existences to contain them, those final words became the trigger. As a second year of the fundamental curriculum, Chlust naturally heard it all.
“… I dare you to say that again, pauper.”
Standing from his seat, Chlust ignored his followers’ calls for him to stop as he glared at Fritz. Receiving his gaze, Fritz stood as well. To Fritz, the Arses house was the most unforgivable of houses. He himself hailed from Arses territory, and tormented by heavy taxation, he had gone through considerable troubles to earn the money required to attend the academy people usually entered at fifteen two years late.
“I’ll say it as many times as I must. The Arses House is a pile of trash… I’m saying you and Rudel are trash.”
Fritz also stood and returned the glare. A number of fellow commoner students stood as well, enveloping the cafeteria in a peculiar air.
In the boys’ dorm disciplinary rooms, Luecke was reading an after meal book, while Eunius was endeavoring through muscle training. This was no longer anything you could call discipline, and to add to that Rudel was training his spiritual concentration. Closing his eyes, he controlled the flow of mana through his body.
… The first time the supervising student saw, there was surprise to be found. In the first room, a man taking on a fearsome training regiment. In the second, a man silently reading through mountains of books filled with difficult contents. And the last room was filled with mana just by its resident sitting in its midst.
When it came to Rudel, he was sitting in a cross-legged meditation position Izumi had taught him. Perhaps because of that, the supervising student was sure he had been influenced by a popular book of eastern mumbo jumbo he had read a while back and added it onto his training.
“Erk… someone swap with me! The next time I come around, I’m sure I’m going to see something even scarier, Rudel looks like he’s going to start floating just sitting there, but… h-he’s not floating, is he? But it’s Rudel we’re talking about here…”
To the student who periodically made rounds to check on them, the scene was only abnormal. After a while passed and the supervisor went away, Eunius called out to the two of them.
“Hey, move a bit, why don’t you!? Just because you’re in this room, if you quit moving, you’re going to ruin yourselves.”
“Don’t group me with you. It goes without saying that the proper quantity of exercise and food is more appropriate! Eating loads from dawn ‘til dusk and doing nothing but muscle training… how about you study for a second?”
Luecke returned some cynicism. He turned to Rudel and called over.
“More importantly, what are you doing, Rudel? I’ve been feeling mana seeping through the walls for a while now.”
“… Unity of soul and body.”
“What’s that? Will doing that make you stronger?”
This time Eunius jumped in. At first, it was a serious conversation, but things gradually seemed to stray, until eventually…
“I really think it comes down to the breasts, but what’s your take on the matter? You won’t say you like them small, right? I’ll correct such heresy!”
“Are you an idiot… it all comes down to balance. It goes without saying the overall balance is important!”
“Ah, Izumi’s coming.”
As they carried on a trifling conversation, Rudel sensed Izumi approaching the disciplinary rooms. It was abnormal for Rudel to sense her before she had entered. And as Izumi wasn’t showing up, they were just about to conclude Rudel had lied, when…
“There’s trouble, Rudel! Your little brother Chlust and Fritz are…!”
“… She really came.”
“You sure you two aren’t connected or something?”
Luecke and Eunius confirmed Izumi slam open the door with intense momentum. They felt impressed that Rudel had sensed her approach. But Izumi’s air was considerably strange. She was in a flurry, and as she had run her way here, was it something important? They thought.
“Did something happen?”
Rudel calmly asked.
“Chlust and Fritz are fighting in the school cafeteria! It gradually grew worse and… it’s become a feud between the commoner students and the nobles, a majority of the upperclassmen are away today on extracurriculars, and there are too few teachers around to contain it.”
It really was bad luck. That day was one where the periodic mandatory events was to be held, and a majority of the upperclassmen were attending it. There were more students than the average attending, so the teachers had to match that and dispatch a large portion of their numbers. Izumi had remained in the academy because Rudel was unable to intend through his house arrest, but…
Everything was starting to motion much too conveniently.