Having entered his final year, while there were various problems, Rudel and the others had safely moved up. General consensus stated the eldest sons of the three lords were most worthy of being the boys’ dorm prefects, and the academy half-strong-armed them into the position.
Izumi had become a prefect of the girls’ dorm, and the academy was taking the measures they thought best. With a foreigner as prefect, the freshmen nobles did try to rebel, but the academy wasn’t lenient with them.
Make Izumi prefect! This was an earnest plea from the teachers and all relevant personnel. In the four years since she enrolled, in the fifth year where it was said held the greatest gathering of problem children, Izumi’s presence was an immense one. On top of the fact the problem child known as Rudel would never go against her, there were few in the world the men of the tiger tribe would lower their heads to.
From Izumi’s point of view, why did it come to this? She surely thought. But those around had determined Izumi was all they had.
While Izumi had grown busy with the prefect duties imposed on her, she was currently teaching Sakuya letters in her room. She still couldn’t bring herself to believe the goddess part and so forth, but she thought of her as a handful of a sister as she looked after. But lately, Sakuya had definitely been acting strange. She had once declared with confidence that she would become a dragoon, but now there were times her health took a hit, and her concentration wasn’t there.
Thinking it was an illness, Izumi had the infirmary check on her, but there were no abnormalities. Sakuya was also mindful of her recent poor condition, but she was certain it was just temporary. No, she was making sure not to think about it. Ever since the day her hands began to shake, she had begun to experience dizzy spells.
“Are you alright, Sakuya? Should we end things here today?”
Her studies going nowhere and her body in bad state, only her irritation was building up, so Izumi called over in a gentle voice. But Sakuya studied on as if clinging to her book.
“I-I can go on…”
The form of Sakuya’s frantic studies was starting to show a different sort of impatience from Rudel’s.
With the start of a new school year, the upperclassmen found themselves looking after their juniors more often. In the dorm, they would teach everything from the general rules to the unwritten ones. But as was the case every year, the young nobles of high status would mock their upperclassmen and fail to listen to anything they had to say. They were using the boys’ dorm dining hall to give their explanations, but the young nobles had started talking in the background.
The upperclassmen giving the lecture usually wouldn’t caution underclassmen of higher status, but lately, with Chlust, Fritz, and a stream of all sorts of scandals going on, they cautioned them anyways. There, the upperclassmen boys recalled the trump card the graduates had thought up.
“Is everyone listening? I’ll only say it once, so you’d better remember. There are four people considered the strongest of this academy, and you definitely can’t go against those four. Does anyone know who they are?”
To the fifth year giving the presentation on the form, a noble first year gave an exemplary answer.
“There’s the second princess, right? And isn’t it strange for there to be four when it’s supposed to be strongest? Are you making fun of us, senpai?”
On that one student’s remark, the first years around him raised similar voices of laughter. But without paying it any mind, the upperclassman continued his explanation.
“You can take it that way if you want, but the four I’m talking about are the eldest sons of the Arses, Diade, Halbades, and Hardie Houses. They’re nobles, and their statuses exceed all of yours. There was once a time where one of them insta-killed a first-year, but as long as you don’t lay hands on those four, you’ll be fine. However… there is a single person those four can’t go up against. Besides the princess.”
As the faces of the students who mocked them went stiff, they utilized the same threat last year’s graduates had used. When there were problem children and a princess in the girls’ dorm, they thought of their seniors who had done their best, as one of the prefects- a fifth-year boy- continued on with a smile.
“There’s a fifth year girl called Izumi-san, a prefect in the girls’ dorm. No matter what happens, you can’t go against her… the academy’s strongest won’t stay silent.”
“A-and what of it? From her name, she must be a foreigner, right? Even if you threaten us…”
“Ah, sorry, sorry. Can you not comprehend? Let me rephrased that: if the eldest sons of the Three Lords can’t go against her, then there’s no way the likes of you could. And if you sneak into the girls’ dorm, you really will be cut down, so be careful. The princess is there right now, so they’re security’s on full alert, and there are high knights waiting with sword in hand.”
As the fifth year gave a disinterested explanation, the prideful attitudes of the students who had only just come from their houses didn’t crumble. There were some who would keep quiet once they learned their own ability, but there would always be students who used their house’s status to think they could take on a high and mighty attitude, even in the academy.
But there as the prefects gave an explanation to the upperclassmen, Rudel and the others made their appearance. Rudel, Eunius and Luecke never wanted to become prefects to begin with, but with the academy’s strong insistence and- for Rudel- Izumi’s persuasion, they reluctantly accepted.
The teachers were begging them to set an example for the underclassmen, so they ended up giving a late appearance. The dorm dining hall went silent at once. Thinking of how the country’s future authorities were assembled, the young nobles went meek as lambs. The commoner students were also swallowed in by the atmosphere.
As they came to the dining hall, the three of them introduced themselves to the freshmen. But Eunius was sullen that his play time would decrease having become a prefect. He had visited the town night after night, and just as he became a fifth-year and he thought his free time would increase, he was put to prefect work, so perhaps it was only natural.
“Let me just say it now. Don’t get in my way, don’t cause me trouble, listen to what I have to say… got it?”
His build was large to begin with, and at his words filled with intensity, the first years nodded. The child in his face had gone, and from the eyes of someone who didn’t know him, Eunius looked like a dangerous individual. Luecke’s explanation came next.
“I don’t give a damn about Eunius, but I have to say the same. I want to read in peace and quiet at night… make a stupid ruckus and I’ll shove you in the disciplinary room, so you’d better remember that.”
Luecke let off a cold atmosphere different from Eunius, causing the students’ expressions to gradually darken. But Rudel’s words cheered them up just a bit.
“You’re terrible, the two of you. Can’t you close an eye to the smaller stuff? I also caused some trouble so can’t we be a bit lenient.”
A kind senior. The freshmen were relieved, but his next words made them think he was the scariest of them all.
“But if you cause any trouble at the girls’ dorm, I’ll be troubled… you better prepare yourself when that happens.”
As Rudel’s face took a sudden turn from smile to expressionless, the first years cringed. They had been taught to start with a slight threat, so they had threatened with some light sentiment. But the imposing air they let off, different from that of a normal senior, caused all to give up on resistance.
Having entered their final year, Rudel was twenty. His body had grown, and he let off a more grown-up air. Before the first years who were still young, Rudel recalled when he had first enrolled himself. When he came to the academy, he had never even imagined he would become a prefect.
On Rudel’s threat, Luecke let out a sigh. While Luecke gave off a cold impression, he had become much more sociable than when he first enrolled.
“Rudel, by that you mean don’t cause Izumi any trouble, right?”
Like Luecke, Eunius was also making a bit of a fed-up face.
Unlike the boys’ dorm, the girls’ dorm had Izumi give a smooth explanation. At first, people gave her odd looks as a foreigner, but her explanation proceeded quite favorably.
The reason was simple. They felt it was disadvantageous to go against a woman who accompanied the eldest sons of the Three Lords.
The commoner students were actually quite supportive of Izumi becoming prefect. That commoners could be recognized too, it let them have hope. In contrast, there was displeasure to be had from the nobles.
They thought she had become Rudel’s woman, and popular as he was, that was a spot no one else could reach for with much success. They recognized her as being in the way, but a troublesome existence they couldn’t quite get rid of.
“That’s about all there is to say about the back and dining hall times… if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer.”
Having become an adult, Izumi held a calming air, and her original dignified standing form caused a portion of the girls to look up to her. Her long black hair almost seemed to sparkle to the freshmen.
In that dining hall, a single student raised her hand. A first year who gave off a simple feel, and as she sat among the space solidified with commoner girls, her status couldn’t be too high. But what she asked was something quite exorbitant.
“How can I become like you, senpai?”
The eyes of the girl who admired Izumi were sparkling. Izumi had received a number of similar questions before. But she couldn’t understand what ‘like her’ was supposed to mean. And right now, the time and place were off.
“If possible, I must ask you keep the questions to ones related to the presentation.”
The girl hung her head at Izumi’s words. But Izumi followed through.
“… But you’ve come to the academy. You need only polish yourself as you learn. Even if you can’t become like me, I’m sure you’ll find your own ideal.”
While those eyes of aspiration only increased in numbers, Izumi continued explaining the dorm’s rule. But when the explanations turned to the unwritten rule, her face turned a little tired. A number of the prefects were also troubled by these implicit regulations.
“And this one isn’t an official rule, but… if you see a certain boy in the girls’ dorm, run to your room at once, and don’t let him in by any means.”
“But boys can’t enter the girls’ dorm, right?”
A first year seemed perplexed that she had to explain such an obvious thing. In truth, Izumi had already finished telling them not to invite boys into the girls’ dorm.
Seeing their upperclassmen prefects grasping for words, the first years grew anxious. They watched in silence as the prefects- Izumi included- gathered and whispered amongst themselves. As girls, they had been warned by their houses to be wary of boys at the academy. The insides of their heads were filled with terrible possibilities.
But according to their upperclassmen, it was something completely different.
“… A certain boy can enter the girls’ dorm with barely any question. It’s a troubling thing, but he does have his reasons and his status, so it’s impossible to drive him off. There’s no risk of being assaulted, but… sorry. If you see him, I recommend you run away. You definitely can’t approach! … He’ll pet you.”
Seeing the first years’ incomprehensive faces, Izumi wanted to grow angry at Rudel in her heart. If they hadn’t actually seen Rudel’s that in action, no one would have realized the true danger.
Until Izumi warned them, the victims had mostly been beastpeople. That is dangerous! It was the unwritten rule of the girls’ dorm. The students who let themselves get pet out of curiosity were left with bodies that could never forget.
Seeing the freshmens’ doubtful faces, the prefects cursed Rudel within.
After Rudel left the boys’ dorm, Sakuya took out Rudel’s sword. Her objective was the two sleeping within the blade. She wondered if they knew anything about the abnormalities occurring in her body, and decided to ask.
In Rudel’s room, she placed the sword atop the bed and called them out.
“Can you hear me? There’s a little something I want to ask.”
“My body’s been acting up lately, and when I got a checkup, there was nothing wrong with me. Couldn’t this be your comrade’s fault? I’d really like to get better soon, you know.”
Her recent poor health gradually building up her panic, Sakuya hid her weakness and put up a strong front as she asked.
‘Well whatever. Try touching the sword’s hilt or so. We might find something out.’
Abiding the bird’s words, Sakuya gripped the sword’s hilt. She felt a light tremor as something raced all over her body. Sakuya parted from the hilt in surprise, sending the two beasts a complaint.
“W-what did you do all of a sudden!?”
‘… This is…’
Ignoring Sakuya’s anger, the two began discussing. Sakuya couldn’t understand the contents, but from the atmosphere, she got the feeling it was something bad. Their words gradually grew scarce, causing her tension to grow.
‘Listen well… your body is a temporary vessel the black fog created. It was made only for a single battle with Rudel, a disposable body made with only a single use in mind, so to speak.’
A bold sweat flowed down Sakuya’s back. Her eyes opened wide and words would no longer come from her mouth. Continuing on, the bird gave a simple explanation of Sakuya’s state.
‘You did well holding together so long, but your body can no longer maintain itself. What was originally the soul of a goddess was forcefully sealed into a human body. It looks like it’s reaching its limit.’
“Y-you’re lying, right?”
Her body beginning to quiver, Sakuya suddenly grew scared. It was something she had never before experienced as a goddess, but her body and heart were well attuned to react to the fear known as death.
‘It’s true. Your body is reaching its limit.’
‘… It’s something we did, but I can’t take responsibility. My apologies.’
The two voices of pity resounded through Rudel’s room. Sakuya didn’t want to give up, she told the two all she could say.
“If that fog is the one who made my body, can’t you do something about it!? Hey, that’s right! In that case, if we ask the fog…”
‘Sorry. Your own powers were used to create your body. On top of not having any substitute…’
While the boar couldn’t bring himself to go on, the bird conveyed the facts.
‘Your soul was forcefully sealed in. Your soul will not return to being a goddess. Right now, you are a distorted existence who maintains a human form with a goddess’ soul. Once your body reaches its limit, you will disappear.’
The bird hammered in the truth, but his intent was to tell Sakuya to spend her remaining time without regret.
Sakuya’s scream resounded through Rudel’s empty room. As fear and sadness assailed her, Sakuya came to understand what it meant to part, something she had never felt as a goddess. She recalled Aleist and Rudel who she had met at the temple. And everyone she met at the academy.
“Why? I finally made some friends… I even found a goal! What’s this, what do you mean I don’t have any time!!?”
The bird and boar quietly watched over her maddened form.
“I made a promise! To Rudel and to Izumi! I promised them I would become a dragoon!”
Her form as she wept like a small child was painful to watch. The two beasts purposely forsook her with cold tones. Hate us if you will, despise us if you will… what foolish existences we must be… the two of them thought as they devoted themselves to playing the villain.
‘Crying like a kid is fine and all, but why don’t you think about how to spend what little remains of your life?’
‘I can’t understand it. When you were originally an existence that transcended humanity…’
The three monster who had only been born to put Aleist on the pedestal, they had grown to feel the scorn of the world that created them. They hated themselves for only being able to complete their objectives by bringing misfortune to another.
But the boar and bird had lost their bodies and had become existences only kept alive by Rudel’s mana. They would eventually disappear, but they kept quiet on it. They quietly endured as Sakuya pounded her balled hands against the sword’s sheath.