Once the bell rung six, Rudel stopped swinging his sword and wiped off his sweat.
He gazed at the backs of all the students in the dorm courtyard, who had started on their way to the dining hall after hearing the sound.
The early morning training he had done from his enrollment had continued on to his graduation. From the eyes of a stranger, it might have been something praiseworthy.
But to Rudel, and the students who trained in a similar manner, it was only normal. If they slacked off, then that’s just how far they’d fall behind the others.
One could say Eunius and Aleist were extraordinary. The two of them didn’t train in the morning, but they did devote their time to it during other hours. Their life styles simply weren’t suited to train in the early warning.
“So it ends today.”
Wiping his sweat, Rudel sat on the spot and looked up at the sky.
He recalled all the time he had spent here since he first came. He had met Vargas during morning training, and Vargas had been the first friend he ever made.
If he saw any troubled students, he did try to call out, but his status would always get in the way, and it would never go as smoothly as it had with Vargas.
Personality problems and the air Rudel gave off had become factors that prevented others from approaching him. While he hadn’t noticed it, the fact that he had become strongest in the academy was also to blame.
Rather than being fond of Rudel, his underclassmen were in awe. The class years one and two below kept their distance with the incident with Chlust and Fritz.
When it came to underclassmen below that, Rudel’s exorbitant ability would create distance. There weren’t any commoner students who would even think to approach the future archduke and white knight that was Rudel.
Young nobles would only greet him, at most. Feeling a bit of his own awkwardness, Rudel made a bitter smile. While to each his own, he would have no choice but to deal with people from now on.
That he thought that meant that Rudel had matured. When he entered the academy, he largely didn’t understand the importance of human interaction.
“Now then, I guess I’ll prepare for graduation.”
Standing, he headed for the dining hall.
He had prepared for the sake of this day, and alongside his loneliness, he felt just a little happy.
The graduation ceremony ended without incident and from afternoon, the academy was busy with the final preparations for the party.
Within all that, the culprit who had devised this new event was delighted.
While Fina wasn’t allowed to go out while the party was being prepared, in exchange, Mii was busy at work. In her Mii-less room, she was making a ruckus. It wasn’t quite possible for the princes Fina to help set up the party.
The year before, Rudel and the others had taken part, causing quite an awkward air. But taking her safety and status in consideration, the academy was able to ask her to refrain. In Fina’s place, Mii was spending every day, busily preparing for the event.
“Hah, what is it, princess? Are you scheming something again?”
Correcting the positioning of her glasses with the middle finger of her right hand, Sophina readied herself in her heart for Fina’s next spurt of irrationality. She needed to make sure she wasn’t surprised no matter what she heard.
Sophina, who could practically be called Fina’s retainer at this point, was used to dealing with her.
“… Sophina, look at this schedule. Right here, it has the words King’s Game written in.”
“That is quite a discourteous name. Shall we request the academy to change it?”
“You fool! It is only those small in caliber who complain about all the petty details. The problem is the contents. ‘The king’s orders are absolute!’ What do you think about that?”
“… I think it’s a tad strange for an event at a party. If someone orders another to die on the spot, then the atmosphere will take quite a peculiar turn.”
As Sophina spoke of brutal detail, Fina criticized her expressionlessly.
“How foolish. This is why your marriage interviews continue to fail. This time makes thirty two, does it? You’re on your way there! Courtois’ high score of fifty six is right before your eyes.”
The high score for marriage interviews among nobles- particularly women- was fifty six. While marriages for royalty were close to obligations, for those low in status and relatively free, both sides were able to turn down the matchups.
And in Courtois, the more girly ones were the most popular.
“Why do you know about that!? A-and, I’m not aiming to update the score…”
Having failed once more, Sophina recalled her delicate partner. While they attended the academy, a large portion of nobles would often skip classes. Her partner was unable to see a splendid knight like Sophina as girly in any shape or form.
Rudel’s generation was rare among nobles, where the future archduke was earnest, so they followed his lead. Looking at it from that side, Rudel and the others had set a good example.
In order to sell themselves to these future heads of the factions, it would be best to make an earnest effor. The nobles had made calculated, objective judgements.
“… That’s what they all say as their numbers go up. And once they hold the high score, their hearts break every time. Putting that aside, the problem is that this game is being held in a festive hall… and that means the orders can be pervy as hell, right? I mean, they’ll all have a bit of drink in their systems, and it’s the final time they can fool around as students! Don’t you think this is the perfect place to seal the deal?”
Becoming a little fearful of Fina’s expressionless zeal, Sophina cautioned her she was going too far.
“Sealing the deal at a party is a little…”
“Oh? How far are you imagining? I was talking about a kiss. Hey, Sophina, just what sort of indecent things did you imagine? Hey!?”
“I-in that case, you just have to get your feelings across in the public confession.”
As Sophina forcefully changed the subject, Fina grinned within, choosing to play along.
“Even if I confess in that game, anyone would think it was a joke, right? If we kiss, and I take on a heartrending attitude, everyone around will go and imagine it on their own.”
This girl’s dark, or so Sophina made light of her master when Fina suddenly turned serious.
“But in order to do that, I’ll have to become king and I’ll have to know master’s numbers… hey, Sophina?”
Understanding what Fina was thinking and what she desired, Sophina could only silently nod.
(Hah, what am I even doing.)
In the party hall, the preparations had finished, and the graduates in disguise started appearing one after the next.
From among them, Eunius in his Viking costume looked considerably real. The man in question was tall in stature and muscular in build. His form as he wore a horned helm of wood, carrying with him a large shield and axe, was truly that of a warrior.
In contrast, Luecke had with him an eastern garment and weapon.
He had asked a blacksmith Rudel was acquainted with to prepare an eastern kimono. His long hair was collected at the back, and his costume was made to enjoy a foreign culture. His katana was made of bamboo, and Luecke had taken a bit of a liking to it.
“What’s this? When a beansprout wears clothes like that, he only looks needlessly wimpier.”
To the end of the end, the two of them spat cynicism, but it had lost the bite it had at the start. More than that, it had become something of a greeting between them.
“When I thought I spotted a bandit here, it was just the musclehead. It suits you so well, I’m shaking in my boots.”
As the two of them glared at one another within the hall, Rudel stepped into the space between them.
“Stop it, both of you! Izumi said no fighting today. Can’t you let it slide, on my face today?”
As Rudel entered the hall a little late, the two of them lost their words.
There was no helping their befuddlement. Before them, of black and brown fur… was Rudel in a dog helmet. That lovable stuffed animal expression gave off quite a lax impression.
A fluffy tail, and stiff, standing ears… The mouth was slim, and perhaps it could look like a wolf. But those large arms and legs, and that large face… there was no way for the two of them to know who it was. Only by the mention of Izumi’s name could they know it was Rudel inside.
“Dude, what’s with that getup?”
As Eunius pointed at Rudel, Rudel took off the headpiece to show his face.
“This? It’s a dog. I worked hard to prepare it. I didn’t want to spend too much money, after all. It’s all hand-made.”
“Well that’s quite something. No, that’s not the point. Why a dog?”
Luecke was surprised by the hand-made part, but more than that, he couldn’t understand why he had chosen a dog. The students around were also directing their eyes at Rudel.
“The truth is, we keep a dog back home.”
Rudel informed them of the fact his house kept a dog, and Eunius waited for the reason to come after that. But Rudel stayed silent.
Seeing the two unsatisfied with his answer, Rudel tilted his head.
Luecke and Eunius looked at Rudel, mulling over what to say, when Izumi appeared.
Rather than a disguise, Izumi had prepared the clothing she wore in the Orient, participating in a kimono. Her hair was fastened with an ornate hairpin.
“Rudel, you chose something quite conspicuous.”
Rudel put his headpiece back down, showing Izumi the rest of his costume. After he did a full turn, the three of them clapped their hands at the considerable workmanship.
“Right? It’s handmade.”
Rudel showed a peculiar talent, but the three of them had gotten around to thinking anything went with him. Looking around, the most common costume was the girls simply wearing male uniforms.
Many men wore mantles, dressing as magicians.
If there was another conspicuous figure, then surely it was Aleist. He had come in his black knight armor. This was something he had worn on the requests of those around him.
It was a result of his fiancés demanding to see his gallant form
Spotting the usual members, Aleist raced up in his armor.
“Oyy. Huh? Where’s Rudel?”
His black armor was thorny, and his helmet sprouted two golden horns, similar to the viking helmet. The surroundings raised their voices in surprised.
“I heard it’s the black knight’s armor.”
It was rated surprisingly high, giving Aleist a moment of relief. Even if he knew it wouldn’t be so, he had just a bit of worry they would call him a sufferer of eighth-grade syndrome.
“Aleist, is that really a disguise?”
While Luecke wondered if armor counted in the realm of disguises, Aleist sent a glance over to the animal suit.
“No, I think this is more than enough dress up for me… what’s this costume supposed to be? A wolf?”
As Aleist touched the ear of Rudel’s costume, a clear ominous sound came out. Rudel confirmed the area around his head to find that one of his perky ears had slumped down limp.
As Rudel sat down on the spot, Izumi followed through for him. Because of the costume, it was impossible to see what expression he was making underneath.
When that lovingly made oversized stuffed animal fell into a slump, it was exceedingly cute. But the one inside was depressed.
“R-Rudel? It’s still cute like this.”
“… The ears took an especially large amount of time.”
Seeing him depressed, Aleist had to step in to encourage him. Luecke looked around nervously.
“No, no, this has got its own flavor to it. Yeah, you look more dog-like than before.”
On Luecke’s prodding gaze, Aleist realized the one inside was Rudel and apologized.
“I-I’m sorry! I never thought it would break.”
“No, it’s my fault for making something prone to breaking. Next time, I’ll make something of better quality.”
“That’s the spirit, Rudel!”
While Izumi cheered Rudel on, the other three thought.
(He’s making another?)
As everyone desperately tried to cheer Rudel up, the headmaster appeared in the hall. He gave some simple greetings, telling them it was their last event at the academy, and encouraging them to enjoy it.
‘Well then! Let the first Academy beauty contest commence!!’
A fourth year student wore a striking outfit on stage as he took the lead. Never actually expecting the beauty contest to take place, Aleist was a little excited.
The reason being Millia had entered. Her friend had told her she would undoubtedly win if she took part, so the girl in question reluctantly joined in.
But not knowing what a swimsuit was to begin with, Millia was surprised when those undergarment-like pieces were delivered right beforehand.
From the fourth year, Fina and Mii were participating. And to speak to celebrities, Izumi was goaded by Rudel into taking part.
“I never thought they’d actually hold it.”
Holding a glass in one hand, three men watched over the area a little ways away from the students gathered around the stage.
“Hmm? Where’s Rudel?”
Luecke searched out Rudel, who had left his sight before he had noticed it. Eunius was the same. In this long-awaited heated event, if Rudel wasn’t there, it would lose its flavor.
“He’ll show up once Izumi comes out, right? Rather, he was wearing something considerably conspicuous, so… wait, oy!!”
Eunius looked at the platform, and noticed the tail of a familiar costume sticking out of the side of the stage.
“Lucky. That’s a special box seat, isn’t it?”
As Aleist looked on with envy, the event commenced. Girls from fourth and third year made their entries wearing swimsuits of low coverage.
“Oh, not bad at all.”
A slackening expression on his face, Eunius quite enjoyed the beauty contest Aleist had proposed. Luecke pretended he wasn’t interested, but his eyes were firmly directed at the participants.
It was just at that moment that Fina and Mii appeared in cute swimwear. The hall’s enthusiasm reached its peak. It wasn’t just the men, the women called out as well to cheer on their friends.
In secret, there were bets being placed over who would win.
“Oy, someone climbed onto the stage.”
Luecke directed a glance at the man who had climbed onto the stage, while Aleist and Eunius breathed out some sighs. The drink getting to him, a student had gotten into a stupor and climbed onto the platform to try laying hands on one of the participants.
“Ah, it’s Rudel.”
But there, Rudel appeared in his costume, kicking the student into the air.
Kicked by a stuffed animal, the student was naturally enraged. There, Rudel took off the headpiece and showed his real face. In an instant, the students around the stage went quiet.
‘Ah!, by the way! If you try climbing on stage or doing anything mean to the participants, mister wolf will send you flying, so keep that in mind.’
The mc leaked a late warning. But this time, Rudel closed in on the mc. Seeing that scene, Eunius raised a grand laugh.
“That Rudel’s definitely telling him it’s a dog! And look. The guy he kick’s woken from his drink and turned pale!”
“Eunius, you’re laughing too much.”
Luecke tried to restrain Eunius, but on the contrary, when one of the three Lords was laughing so loudly, the hall was once more enveloped in laughter.
“Ooooh!! Millia’s coming out!! She looks kinda embarrassed, but that just makes it better!”
Aleist excitedly looked at Millia who entered the chaotic stage. She had covered her lower half in cloth, so it couldn’t be seen, but she was wearing a bikini with high exposure.
Her one leg and thigh that escaped the cloth had a sense of eroticism to it. Her embarrassment needlessly delighted the men more.
Apart from Aleist, the elf males had discarded their usual levelheadedness as they exploded in delight.
But Aleist’s other fiancés were taking part as well. They were looking at him so excited over Millia from their spots atop the stage.
Eunius covered his face with his left hand as he looked at the ceiling. Luecke looked at Aleist’s fiancés making eerie smiles on stage and pitied the man.
When the girls had put their all into appearing in the contest, Aleist had barely even looked at them.
But in the next instant, the men cried out.
“Shirasagi-san, that’s too amazing…”
Izumi was the last to enter, and she entered wearing a considerably hazardous bikini. The one in question didn’t act as if she was particularly embarrassed.
Perhaps to match her hair, her black bikini covered an exceedingly small area. Apart from covering the important parts, it was almost all string.
One poor move, and perhaps something would come out, or so the guys hopes got up.
Rudel was wearing a costume, so even if he applauded, he could only let off a soft sound. By the way, the student who he kicked was nearby, being forced into clapping.
Among all the participants, Izumi was the most extreme.
With Izumi’s entrance stealing away the flow all at once, Fina panicked within.
(Black hairrr!! That woman casually pulled off what I could never do!!)
Fina had work a cute frilled swimsuit with low exposure. She and Mii them directed their eyes at the adult swimsuit Izumi wore.
Mii and Fina wore the same type of different colors. Their forms emphasized their youths, rousing intense popularity from a portion of the student body.
Fina did try to pick out something more extreme. But from her body build and atmosphere, and the fact she was royalty, she had chosen something cute and low in exposure.
For that choice held the highest prospects of victory. Contrived as it might be, it was also the right choice. In all actuality, there were many men directing their eyes at the two of them.
“Princess, Izumi-san is amazing.”
Without any hidden sides, Mii really did think she was amazing. But Fina was different.
“Right. Amazing (Goddammit, to think she would choose something so extreme… master must have put her up to it! Oh, master, you really are so… adorable!)”
Seeing Rudel in his costume, Fina was so excited inside she thought she might leak her drool. If the chance presented itself, she thought she just might assault him.
But the problem was that Rudel never left an opening. On the eyes of a hunter staring down its prey, Rudel felt a chill on his spine.
“Hmm? What’s this? I got the feeling something was aiming at me…”
As Rudel looked around in his costume, his movements excited Fina to no end.
And the curtains opened on the academy’s final event.