With the incident that had embroiled Princess Fina a year before, the second term’s fundamental curriculum outing was put under review, and it was altered to be a camping excursion. A safe campout by the riverbed, and Fina was moved and aroused as she took on the event. What was carried out in the midst of that two-night-three-day camp was the individual tournament of the upperclassmen.
From classes and relevant grade, the competitors were selected, and the students who received the qualifications to take part would carry out one-on-one matches over the course of two weeks, but… this year, the centerpiece Rudel had withdrawn. When you thought of how it was generally the fourth year students who took part, Rudel had plenty a chance at the title.
With Rudel’s abstention, the final match came down to a pairing of Eunius against Aleist. The two who had won on with their abilities and social status, a rare sight in the finals, a battle of close combat unfolded. It was something so grand as if to clear away their resentment for all the past matches they had to hold back in.
“Give it up already, Aleist!”
Swinging his personal claymore-modeled wooden sword, Eunius launched a stream of attacks at Aleist. As the wooden swords met, they birther a violent sound alongside the impact. In contrast to Eunius’ surprising finesse, Aleist clad his magic sword in wind and tried to brute force his way through.
“Why aren’t you being sent flying!? Normally, you shouldn’t even be able to lock blades with this bad boy! Unlike last year, I’ve been working hard to increase its output!!!”
Parrying Aleist’s powerful sword strokes, Eunius fired off a strike with all his might. Receiving that blow from Eunius’ blessed physique, Aleist was sent spiraling through the air… but even as he flew, Aleist fired consecutive shots of magic down.
“Dammit! I can’t lose until I can face him again… go to sleep!”
Blown back a little from the magic, Eunius looked at Aleist. But having recovered in that moment, Aleist managed to regain his footing, channeling new magic into his blade. His wooden sword let off a crack as lightning coursed down it.
“You’re not the only one who can’t lose!!!”
Seeing that, Eunius gave a ferocious laugh. Letting his own mana rest in his blade as well, both sides put all their might into that blow…
“And so you’re both hospitalized again… I can understand that the victor Eunius has serious injury, but Aleist really is weak to pain.”
Looking at the two resting on their beds, Luecke let out a sigh. Eunius who stood after an intense clash was declared the victor, while the unconscious Aleist became runner-up. Eunius glared at Luecke, while Aleist averted his eyes.
“When you didn’t even fight, you’re one to talk! More importantly, Rudel is at Chlust’s place again today…”
“Yeah, I was just a step away… I worked really hard, and yet… everyone around’s growing crazy strong.”
Ignoring Aleist’s murmurs, Luecke answered Eunius with only a nod. Over the long weekend and second term, Rudel only attended the bare minimum classes. He was chipping away his time training Chlust.
“Chlust was supposed to be strong, right? That Fritz wasn’t anything special, so did he really have to go that far?”
Aleist muttered the question he held from the two’s conversation. Hearing that, Eunius informed him.
“While you were away, Chlust was beaten black and blue. I don’t know if he’s strong or not, but that kid’s gone-case. Feels like his heart’s been shattered… if he sees Fritz, he starts shaking, and he can’t do a thing.”
“That’s probably why he’s being trained so harshly. Rudel’s too soft on his brother… he was soft on his sister too, right?”
“Erselica? I don’t think they really got along, but… (So that part’s changed too? In the game, Erselica got along better with Chlust than Rudel).”
“No it seems he has a sister called Lena from a different mother.”
Hearing that name from Luecke, Aleist tilted his head. Among the people from the game that used this world as its stage, he had never heard of the ‘character called Lena’. A hidden character who never appeared? Or a character who existed in setting alone? As he thought over such things,
“… Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of Fritz either. Did I overlook him because he was a background character? But there’s no way he’s background if he’s got connections to princess Aileen… I really should stop thinking about it like that. But in that case, the event that comes right after this will…”
“Aleist is mumbling to himself again… he says some incomprehensible things from time to time.”
Eunius looked over Aleist- mumbling in deep thought- and let out a sigh. And until Aleist’s friends came to visit, he continued thinking to himself.
Having become a third year, Millia went to see her elder sister Lilim. For an elf fallen to darkness, a full recovery was more difficult than she had imagined. Even if she stopped being a dark elf, her heart was corroded. As Millia stopped by her sister’s room on her day off, she asked in worry…
“Are you alright? It’s been quite some time, but…”
In contrast to Millia’s worry, Lilim nervously averted her eyes… having recently learned that Millia liked Rudel, she had begun to feel a sense of guilt towards her little sister. Having come so far, she finally realized she had been engaged to her sister’s crush, making things a little awkward.
“D-do you resent me after all? I got into an engagement with the guy you liked, what’s more, the engagement was broken off… but my forehead, he… kyah!”
While she was a little irritated, Millia had prepared an anti-Lilim trump card.
“G-glad you look well. But since the engagement was annulled, it’s meaningless, right? And are you sure you didn’t repulse him, showing off your dark form?”
“Y-you! To think my little sister would say such a thing! Though it’s true I caused him some trouble…”
And sensing its contractor’s feelings, the wind dragon apologized. For a contracted dragon, even at a distance, dragoons could communicate with their hearts.
‘I’m sorry, Lilim… if only I’d breathed some flames when I defeated that ogre.. but even for me, black flames are impossible.’
“N-nooo! Even my own dragon’s digging out my old wounds!! Just let me forget! I don’t want to remember any of ittt!!!”
Seeing that, Millia laughed a bit inside, but her big sister’s form had become a bit pitiable. To the elves who usually kept level-headed, dark elf periods were the greatest embarrassments of their lives. There were even some who threw down their lives over them, so family would usually take a set distance to heal the wounds of the heart.
Thinking there was no helping it, Millia conveyed some good news.
“Hey, about the third term’s fundamental curriculum class tournaments, want to take some days off and come over to play? It seems a first year called Fritz got into a feud with the Arses House, so there’s going to be a match after the tournament as well. Rudel is going to have a match against Fritz, and if it’s at the academy, don’t you think you’ll be able to apologize to him for back then?”
“… Millia, what a wonderful little sister you are.”
‘I’ll come as well. I have to give that child of man my thanks.’
“Though Cattleya-san’s coming too.”
As Millia said that with a smile, Lilim sensed something in the air.
“Cattleya is coming? She was working out on the border, but… can I even get a day off? Adjusting work schedules is a pain, you know? Taking a break without any considerable reason will be a problem and… n-no, it’s not like I hate Rudel or anything”
“Don’t worry. The truth is, I was asked to come here. In the year below mine, there’s a girl from the white cat tribe, and that girl’s best friends with the princess. According to her, the princess wanted you to come just in case something happened.”
Lilim thought a bit before asking the reason. And there, she found out that Fina’s elder sister Princess Aileen was going to sneak in, and as this wasn’t an official visit, she would have fewer guards…
But that was just the surface reason. Fina knew her elder sister would be coming with plenty of high knights and guards. From an incident of times gone by, Fina knew her elder sister’s guard detail was rarely ever reduced. And if anything terrible was to happen, she wanted to gather those with favorable feelings towards Rudel.
Not that Lilim or Millia knew anything about that.
“Is that a job?”
“It’s not. I mean, there’s no money involved. But you’ll be able to meet Rudel. And if it’s the princess, Princess Fina’s request, then isn’t that enough of a reason?”
On those words, Lilim decided to take some days off for the class tournaments. Fina doubted anyone would go as far as to investigate the knights stopping by the academy on their days off, and that on her mind, Fina was also preparing for what was to come after the tournaments.