‘Well then, to all our graduates’ futures, cheeeerrrsss!!’
The party Fina had thought up to bless the departure of the graduates had reached a scale beyond all expectations. In the hall, the master of ceremonies selected from the enrolled student body called for a chant of cheers.
The scale had grown too large, and in the end, it settled down as an academy-sponsored event. All the graduates took part, while the enrolled students in their third and fourth years did the construction and preparations, and the first and second-year students staffed the hall on the day in question.
Everyone took part in their school uniform, and only the students of the fundamental curriculum distributing food and drink had their outer coats removed. Rudel and the others stood before all the food prepared by the girls’ and boys’ dorm dining halls working alongside the school cafeteria.
“This is quite something. I never thought we’d get to experience something like this in our school years.”
Having finished his greetings to the graduates and third years, Luecke met up with Rudel and Izumi. As long as you helped set up, then you could take part in the festivities, so Rudel delightfully helped out. Dragged along by him were Luecke and Eunius, and when they entered the hall with setup underway, it was quite a surprise to the students who lived in noble society.
The other noble students were no slackers either, their preparations favorably proceeding to bring them here.
“Finished your pleasantries, Luecke?”
Rudel looked after Sakuya with Izumi as he gazed over the hall. The nobles would at most watch him from afar; the only ones who came to greet him were his classmates from the fundamental curriculum and the fifth year beast people. He had finished giving his greetings to his acquaintances and the only one left was Fina, but there were plenty of students who wanted to speak with Fina, so he had to wait his turn.
“Yeah, I’ve already spoken with most. I also called out to some promising talents. Let me tell you, we’ve gotten six shield knights on our hands this year, so my plans are going as expected.”
Sakuya couldn’t understand what Luecke was saying, but what she could understand was that the food before her eyes was delicious. Ignoring Luecke’s statement, she reached out her hand.
Izumi recalled Luecke’s program. He said he would give shield knights a whole new value, and forcefully took Vargas into the Halbades House the year before. Recalling how he had quarreled with Eunius, I hope nothing bad comes of it… she thought just as Eunius approached with a displeased look on his face.
“Oy! Continuing on from last year, you’ve done it again, damn beansprout! When you already dragged off Vargas last year, what’s the meaning of you making off with all the valuable folks this year too!?”
In regards to Eunius’ yell, Luecke thought to return the favor for all the times he had been teased over Lena, returning a smile of leisure. He was in quite a good mood, and his smile contrasted well with Eunius’ irritation.
“Hmm, Eunius, I did no more than offer them a place to perform to their best. I’ll have you stop with these strange allegations. And also, you’re saying the same things as you did last year. Why don’t you try learning a different approach?”
Within that domineering air, Rudel reminisced over Vargas, while Sakuya relished in the food. Izumi alone was left to mediate. Those around only watched- at a fair distance- as Izumi stepped in.
“Both of you, today is a day of celebrations. Can’t you get along a bit more?”
In regards to Izumi’s troubled face, Eunius was displeased, while Luecke declared with a smile.
“That’s not happening.”
Seeing them declare it in unison, Rudel also opened his mouth.
“Those two get along quite well, don’t they.”
Seeing Luecke and Eunius grow irritated to refute Rudel’s words, Izumi understood they were fine as they were. She warmly watched over their desperate looks as they tried to explain to Rudel just how badly they thought of one another. It was just at that time where, in a place separated from their refreshing discussion, an incident broke out.
The voices of Aleist and a female student echoed through the hall.
“W-what do you think you’re doing!?”
The girl draped over a fallen Aleist was a student with blue hair extending to her shoulders. Her skin was pale, her lack of outer coat identified her as an underclassman, and just as she was carrying drinks around, she had bumped into Aleist. By the way, the KYAAAAAH came from Aleist.
For some reason, after colliding, she ended up slipping and sliding, her face ending up buried in Aleist’s nether regions. In exchange, the girl’s lower half was right before Aleist’s eyes… as his face turned red, a few of his friends ran over to save him.
“What are you doing, Aleist!? What about the plan!?”
“We finally managed to pull Seli, Juju, Yunia and Lux away for you man!”
“This was the big chance…”
“I really do apologize! I’m sorry!”
As he apologized to his complaining friend, the fallen girl apologized to Aleist. But the two of them were in terrible shape. As his friends tried to pull him from under her, the girl ended up dragged along. As ill fate would have it, that was the only scene Millia happened to witness.
Millia’s expression was stiff as she looked at Aleist. The two of them exchanged a look when the girl ended up pulling too hard on Aleist’s trousers, removing them entirely. Aleist and his friends who had planned to use the party for a confession were now convinced they had failed.
“Y-you’re wrong! This isn’t what it looks like, Milliaaaa!!”
“Don’t drop the honorific!”
As Millia left the chaotic scene, Aleist froze with his hand held out towards her. The blue haired girl was Nate, a romance target character.
Watching Aleist’s comedy from a distance, Fina burst into laughter with in. Her abs were twitching at a minute level no one could notice. Ever since she heard that Aleist had spent every day training with the tiger tribe last year, she had experienced a jealousy close to malice.
“Oh my, Aleist-dono sure has it hard… (Fwah! He’s sure done it, the bastard! How do you like them apples?)”
At present, Fina had finished speaking with roughly all the young nobles. She was speaking with the beast people as she wished. The talks were especially focused around the tiger tribe. While in her heart she wanted to spend every day trained up by fluffies as well, she was carrying out a serious conversation.
Using the importance of mingling with demihuman tribes as the official reason, Fina was fluffing them up. Seeing Ness who seemed to want to go to Rudel, and the tiger tribe girls fidget as they looked at him, she felt a mild arousal.
Seeing the unusual innocent side of those tiger women, the tiger tribe men were convinced. That they could do something about the strong-willed women who would always get the tribe’s men under their feet…
“Boss, Rudel-san really is a master!”
“Just look, they’ve all regained their cuteness!”
“Yeah, now listen up you lot, we’re definitely polishing up that skill!”
Fina called out to the overly enthusiastic tiger boys, but it wasn’t as if she was only speaking to the tiger tribe. Demi-humans faced discrimination in Courtois. Their positions in the country were weak, and once they graduated the academy, they would instantly be sent off to borderland or some danger zone rife with skirmishes.
Having caught sight of that, Fina had begun making preparations for the future… Deceiving the eyes of the country’s upper brass who saw them as no more than a consumable commodity, her plans were gradually advancing.
Behind the needlessly talented Fina, Sophina looked on with a sigh. She had been informed of and had helped with the plan, but she had some dissatisfaction that Fina wasn’t using her competence for the country. It was simply that no one could stop Fina as she burst forth towards her own desires.
“Even after you graduate, I’ll definitely never forget you (Even if you graduate, I’ll never let any of my fluffies get away, so you better prepare yourselves!!)”
The party ended, and the graduates prepared to leave the dorm. The rooms they left behind would eventually be occupied by new students coming in.
To Rudel and co, they were now entering their final year. From Rudel’s point of view, it was a critical point that would determine if he became a dragoon or not, and to Izumi, this year held her only chance of becoming a high knight. There were a number patterns one could take to join the high knights. Those who distinguished themselves as knights, those with good grades at the academy… Izumi was aiming to be selected for her grades.
To Izumi who was born in a foreign land, once she graduated, her prospects would distance themselves all at once.
Luecke and Eunius went into preparations to return home and succeed their houses. As a formality, they would swear allegiance to the country, but the two of them came from archduke lines boasting vast expanses of land. Once they graduated, they would have no freedom.
But here, there was one who did earnestly worry for his future. It was Aleist…
Normally, as the eldest son of a Count House, he was supposed to return home and work on managing his territory. But at present, Aleist held a position called black knight, one overly difficult to do anything about.
It wasn’t that Aleist himself had a say in his life’s course, yet those who did have a say had yet to decide on it either. Unlike Rudel’s case, the upstart Hardie House was unable to carelessly open its mouth.
When he thought he was trying his best, he was still being washed away by the flow.He decided to meet with Rudel early in the morning. Even if he consulted with his close friends, he couldn’t find an answer. While they were worried about him, the talks would only end with him reaffirming the fact he couldn’t go against the country’s orders.
In the courtyard of the boys’ dorm, gazing at the sight of sweltering men doing their morning training at such an early hour, the two of them conversed. Aleist sat on a rock while Rudel practiced swinging his sword.
“So you don’t know what you’re supposed to do?”
“Y-yeah… it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to decide my own path, you see. In this situation, I was just wondering what you… what Rudel would do.”
While Aleist was worried, it was quite a strange feeling to consult with Rudel, his goal that he wanted to surpass. What’s more, Rudel was a human unfit for such consultations.
“Even if I were in your position, I’d aim to be a dragoon.”
“No, I don’t particularly want to become a dragoon or anything!”
“I know. I’m aware you don’t have any intent to become one. But no matter what standing I found myself in, I’d aim to be a dragoon. I’d follow my dreams.”
Stopping his swinging and wiping his sweat, Rudel looked into the distance. As if to tell himself, he muttered to the sky.
“It’s all I have. It’s my everything… so I’ll even risk my life on it.”
Hearing that voice filled with resolve, Aleist no longer knew what he was supposed to say. Aleist had been earnest from the start, but he got the feeling he had seen something close to madness in Rudel’s seriousness.
“I’m sorry. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to give any good advice. But if I have to say something, I think dating five people at once is a bit much.”
Looking down once more, Rudel looked at Aleist with a troubled look on his face as he started swinging his sword again. Aleist refuted Rudel’s last words with a jump and a scream.
“As I was saying! That’s wrong, I tell you! The one I have a thing for isn’t any one of those five!”
“… Aleist, so you plan to get more? Even the ever-kind Izumi was irritated at your actions. A man’s resourcefulness may be important, but why don’t you learn to value those five a bit more? Not that a stranger like me has any right to say anything on the matter.”
“No, you’re completely relevant! And wait, from my point of view, you’re my rival in love!”
“Y-you… you’re after Izumi!? Then it’s even more unforgivable! If you want to date her, then at the very least do something about your relationship with the other five! Do anything to make her sad and I’ll make dragon feed of you!”
As Rudel suddenly emitted his wrath, before they had noticed it, the men in the yard had dispersed. Aleist explained it was a misunderstanding with teary eyes. But Rudel was calm, s if nothing had happened at all.
“Um, I meant that as a joke, but… am I no good at comedy?”
“You don’t see me laughing.”
Rudel knew the one Aleist liked from the start. They had spoken about it before, but Aleist was confused by Rudel’s sudden outburst.
“Whatever the case, if you want to envision your future, you better keep those five, no, six in your field of vision.”
As Rudel corrected it to six, Aleist let out a sigh. He likely meant Milla as the sixth one, but at present, the party’s events had invited in her hatred. Even when Aleist was the one pushed down… Aleist felt it was all quite a bit unreasonable.
Once the new school term came alone, the item Rudel requested came in. The armor he ordered from the eastern blacksmith was delivered. With real combat in mind, it was an armor with barely any ornamentation.
It was prepared in accordance to a fight with an undead dragon, but right now, Rudel was the white knight. He likely wouldn’t be taken out in an instant, but if you asked whether he could win or not, the answer was no.
The gap in power between man and dragon was a great one. As Rudel had never fought one before, he was treading into unknown territory. He had researched through books, but if a single person would ever triumph over a dragon, then it would be accurate to call them a true hero.
The armor that used what remained of the boar’s tusk let off a mysterious glimmer.
As he looked at the armor in his room at the dorm, the voices called out to him. The voices of the boar and bird in his sword.
‘That’s quite some armor you have there.’
‘Sure enough… but are you really challenging it alone?’
Rudel left a bit of silence before answering.
“Yeah, I’ve lived for this moment.”
Outside the room’s door, Sakuya overheard Rudel’s conversation with the two. While she was only able to listen in silence, she felt something off in her left hand. She looked at her left hand to find it was shaking.