Exams are over~~~
Editors: Hocchibi, Miyuchi
Chapter 1: The Transfer Student Arrives with a Tempest
…I have a white memory.
A retina-burning white — Even now, I remember that moment clearly.
Like a fish living in an arctic lake, slowly being encased in a coffin of ice.
On that day, in that moment — My heart, my body, were slowly dying.
I remember that there were a sparse number of conifer trees were spread across the area in a disorderly fashion; that I was in a forest somewhere.
What first came to mind was the cold. A piercing frost that froze my breath. A freezing chill that numbed my skin; that could be felt down to my bones. A world below the freezing point that denied the existence of life.
What I remember most vividly was the whiteness. It was a fastidious shade of pure white. Whether it was tree branches, undergrowth, or the floor, all was covered in dizzying white snow; a cruel and beautiful silvery-white world.
The snowflakes that fell as if dancing bestowed small, faint, white noises in my field of vision, dying my world with whiteness, with coldness.
Stepping on the soft snow that buried my knees, I continued to wander aimlessly.
Step… after step. . Slowly…slowly.
I dredged my dull body along, without the strength to even shake off the snow on my head and shoulders.
I pushed through the flawless snow, dying it scarlet in my wake.
Blood trickled from my body without end.
In the perfectly white world dyed with a streak of scarlet. My life fell into nothingness like a hourglass.
An ear-piercing silence rang through the air. There was only the sound of trodden snow and the echo of fiery breath. However, that was soon buried in the tranquility of the deep snowscape as the heat dispersed without a trace.
I could not feel my arms and legs. Even the pain of my deep wounds could barely be felt.
But I could feel the fire within me being burnt out.
–It’s about time.
For what reason did I continue to push on to the very end like this?
For what reason did I continue pushing through the snow, despite knowing that my life would soon reach its end?
“Guh-… Even though… I… already… have… nothing…”
Yes, I have nothing. No reason to live. No goal to live for. No right to live.
I am a ‘cleaner’ of a certain magic organization… That is to say, a killer. The organization took my brother as a hostage. In exchange for a guarantee that he would live, I followed the organizations bidding as a ‘cleaner’ and continued to kill those who opposed them.
I had no other relatives. My kind brother was all that was left, he meant everything to me.
For his sake — I will dye my hands red as many times as I need to. I—
…But, my brother – my everything – died. He was killed by □□□□.
My brother was gone.
Then shouldn’t I, who continued to kill for the sake of my brother, disappear?
Shouldn’t I, who continued to soil my hands with blood over and over again for the sake of my brother, have no right to continue living on?
Yet, I didn’t stop. Even though I knew there was nothing but death ahead of me, even though I knew that it was all pointless in the end, I continued to walk forward, hoping for some miracle.
Ah, how deceitful. How hypocritical.
I had said that it was for my brother… but in the end, it was only for myself. I merely used my brother as a shield to defend myself from my sins.
How could god possibly bestow a miracle on such a hypocrite?
When I came to, I found myself fallen on the cold snow. Strength had left my body.
I tried to rise to my feet, but my hands brushed the snow in futility. My body would no longer listen to me.
…I reached my limit.
In the beginning, I was fatally wounded by □□□□. After that, I made my escape, fighting pursuers from the organization many times over until I made it here. My body was marked with countless wounds. It was a miracle that I had made it this far.
Thus, after falling on the slow, my body dramatically approached its end.
Heat—continued to trickle from my body.
My life plummeted towards zero as the bloodstains continued to blossom on the field of snow.
“a… A… I… am…”
Turning my body over with great difficulty, I raised my left hand… towards the sky.
As if the capture it in my palm. Without a thought… Without a meaning…
On the wrist of my trembling left arm was a bracelet. My brother had given it to me somewhere. It matched with his own.
[Hey □□□□. Someday, let’s run away from this organization… and wind up in some peaceful place to live with just the two of us.]
With a flash, the nostalgic memory of my brother rose to the surface. Now, it’s but a shallow, distant, fleeting dream.
“…Save… me… br… other… I…”
As my overflowing tears blurred my vision— it happened.
Suddenly, the sounds of someone dashing through snow drew near.
Soon after, a man appeared from behind the trees.
“…-! You are…!?”
The man looked down in shock upon finding me. He was tall and lean with black hair, black eyes, and wore a black coat. He seemed to be a few years older than me. He aimed a percussion-style revolver at me.
But my eyes were not fixated on the weapon, but rather, his appearance.
His face… his figure… were like that of someone.
“… Br… other…?”
No. They looked very alike, but he isn’t my brother. My brother was already dead.
“…Sorry, you must have been through a lot to get here.”
After confirming my appearance, the man who looked like my brother lowered his gun and apologized.
“If only I could have made it here sooner…”
After a brief moment of silence, the man asked me a question?
“Hey you… what’s your name?”
“My… My name is—□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□
□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□ and you’ve picked up something troublesome again, haven’t you Glen? That girl has been □□ by the Wisdom of the Heaven’s Research Society’s ‘□ □□□’ to □□□□ right? …You’ve done something unwise if I say so myself.”
My consciousness suddenly became clear.
“I-, I mean it can’t be helped now can it…? I was asked by that guy…”
“And do you have any reason to oblige his request?”
“You’re not wrong… but… that guy…-!”
“Hmpf. There you go pretending to be a ‘Magician of Justice’ again. You really are beyond help.”
When I opened my eyes, the snowy scenery was gone. It was no longer cold. It was warm.
Sleeping on the white bed, I was alive.
By my bedside was two men. One was the person I had met in the snowy world. I did not know the other person.
“Oh, the sleeping beauty finally woke up. Oi Albert, could you put off the lecturing till later?”
“Tch… Do what you want. This time will certainly mark the last time I act so civil with you.”
“Haha-, you say that, but this is already the tenth time. Oh, Al-chan, what a tsundere you… I’m so sorry. Could you please lower the lower the finger you have pointed to my chest? And could you please not look like me like I’m trash? It’s honestly terrifying.”
The stranger sullenly exhaled and left the room.
The moment the stranger left, the person I met in the snowy world lost his liveliness.
With a sufferable sigh, his expression twisted into agony.
“…To save each and every person… The ‘Magician of Justice’ in the picture book… I know… I know that it’s all a lie… but I…”
Finally, he noticed me staring at him.
He released a sigh while awkwardly scratching his head, and turned his eyes down towards me.
“Yo, we meet again. Well actually… this should be first time we’ve met isn’t it?”
“You are… the person that saved me… from that snowy world…?”
I wonder why? For a moment, the person’s expression seemed to be overcome with sorrow. It was as if he was trying to hide his guilty conscience… As I thought, he does look somewhat like my brother.
Suddenly, I noticed. There was something odd about my left hand.
I pulled my left hand out from the blankets, and gazed at my wrist.
“It’s gone… My… bracelet…”
“Sorry. That’s… uhm…”
For some reason, the person seemed hesitant to continue.
“…Mm, it’s been confiscated. It’ll kept by the Imperial Court Magicians for safekeeping.”
“…You can’t… give it back?”
“No can do, and I can’t explain why either… Sorry, but I recommend you give up on it.”
Hearing that, I felt a sense of loss that was akin to a part of my body being cut off. That bracelet was a gift from my brother. No matter how harsh the times are, no matter the hardships I had to face, it made me… feel as if my brother were here with me.
That person apologized to me once again.
Once back when we first met, and once again now.
Why is this person apologizing to me without a word?
I only stared at him.
“Call me Glen.”
He suddenly introduced himself. Of course, his name was different from my brother’s.
“What’s your name? Could you tell me again?”
Name. My name.
I feel like I’ve already told this person my name before.
But why is it that I feel like I need to tell him again…?
Following this feeling, I told the person named Glen my name.
“Riel… My name is Riel.”
“That… so. Riel, huh?”
That person – Glen – placed a hand on my head with a wide smile and said.
“…Nice to meet you, Riel.”
This was how the person who looks like my brother… Glen and I met—
…Sway and sway… Sway and sway and sway.
I feel something shaking.
“Little Miss… Hey Little Miss, we’ve arrived~”
I feel like someone is calling for me from faraway.
My fuddled mind which had been wandering the days of the past returned to the present time.
“I understand that you’re tired, but could you please wake up Little Miss?”
I slowly opened my eyes.
I was currently in a stagecoach; a small horse-drawn carriage.
I was lying down on one of the two leather benches that faced one another, wrapped in a blanket. It seems like I was sleeping until now.
I slowly propped myself up from the bench. Although I felt a bit tired, it wasn’t a bad feeling.
“So you’re finally awake. Good morning, Little Miss.”
After getting up, I saw the coachman looking in from the other side end of the open door.
“My, it must’ve been rough for you to travel all the way from the imperial capital Orlando to the academia town of Fejiti, missus.”
During the journey, the coachman had also played the role of a travel companion. He offered his hand with a smile.
I silently grabbed his hand and he gently helped me off the stagecoach.
Outside, a faint morning fog permeated the air.
The surroundings were still dim.
While this was a given for the porter station which lay outside the town, I could tell from faraway that the town of Fejiti, which was lined with rows after rows of pointed roofs, was still asleep.
“Missus, that uniform… is the uniform of Alzano Imperial Magic Academy right? I see, so you’ll be studying there after this?”
The coachman conversed with me in a relaxed manner as he carried the luggage in the stagecoach to me.
I nodded my head.
Then, I received.
“A-h-ha, work hard on your studies alright, Little Miss?”
Leaving behind words of encouragement, the coachman returned to the driver’s seat of the stagecoach.
“Now then, thank you once again for choosing our company’s stagecoach services. We look forward to seeing you again… And don’t forget to eat well ok? …Have a good day.”
The coachman recited the business phrase in a joking manner as part of his farewells and slightly tipped his hat. Then, he used the reins of the horse to steer the stagecoach towards the parking area located near the station.
I stood there for a while, idly seeing him off, before turning my gaze towards Fejiti.
Although I’ve been here recently, I can’t help but feel that this is a nostalgic homecoming of sorts.
It’s probably because Glen is here.
I closed my eyes.
I thought back to the recent Magic Games Festival, where I reunited with Glen after a year.
I understand that this made me feel just a little excited.
As for the mission I’ve been tasked with… I don’t really get the details, but all in all it means that I’ll be close to Glen.
I think that’s a very good thing.
Ever since Glen suddenly left me a year ago, I’ve been somewhat uneasy. I don’t understand why, but I often feel a discomfort in my chest.
But ever since I met Glen by coincidence not long ago, that ever-present unease and discomfort were blown away all at once.
I can be with Glen again…
I understand that just thinking this puts my heart and mind at ease.
I don’t understand why, but I know that my chest fills up with a pleasant feeling.
I want to see him sooner.
I opened my eyes and began to walk towards Fejiti’s urban area.
For some reason, I’d forgotten to bring a map of Fejiti’s districts. The parts of the town that I memorized during my recent visit had also been forgotten.
…Well, I can probably do this somehow… by instinct.
As of recently, a student of Alzano Imperial Magic Academy, Sistina Phebell, has been carrying a secret.
For Sistina, it was a secret that couldn’t be shared to anyone… or rather, one she didn’t want shared.
And so, the time had come to temporarily put this secret into action.
The town was still a dimly lit landscape. The time was prior to daybreak.
Sistina, who lay on the bed in her room, suddenly opened her eyes.
Sistina was no stranger to mornings. She was the sort of person that would remind herself to wake up early before sleeping. She would then carry wake up organically through force of will when the time came. This special skill of hers played a big role in keeping her secret.
Now awake, Sistina, hair still slightly messy, glanced around her room. Although the room was teeming with refinement, there were as many furnishings as one would expect. The most conspicuous piece of Sistina’s room was undoubtedly the large wooden bookshelves that was filled with books on magic and archaeology. The other furnishings in the room consisted of a chair, table, lamp – all objects of practical use. For a young girl’s room, it was considerably tasteless. It was not like Lumia’s room across the corridor, which seemed much more like a girl’s.
The place where Sistina, the daughter of two prominent officials in the ministry of magic, lived, the Phebell residence, had half a century of history behind it. It had been built with both traditional flair and strict architecture, and was unmistakably the mansion of a splendid noble family.
As prominent officials within the Ministry of Magic, Sistina’s parents would often be away at the empire’s capital for business trips. As a result, she and Lumia were practically the only ones who lived in the residence. The maintenance, management, security, and other miscellaneous tasks were often left to helper-fairies living at the mansion and which had been summoned at a prior time.
Sistina silently crawled out of the bed, walked to the closet, and hastily dressed herself. She slipped out of the sleeping gown and into an outfit that was easier to move in, before covering herself with a coat to keep warm. Finally, she put her favorite glove on her left hand.
Completing her preparations, Sistina opened the door and left her room.
The room across hers was Lumia’s room. Lumia was likely none the wiser to what was happening as she drifted along dreamland. Unlike Sistina, she was exceptionally weak to mornings and under normal circumstances she would fail to wake up.
As usual, Sistina quietly apologized through the door, and left the mansion.
Although it was still dim outside, Sistina discreetly left the Phebell residence and headed towards the appointed meeting place.
The meeting place was one of the many nature parks that were scattered about Fejiti. The nature park, which belonged to the northern student district, was a popular location for leisurely walks, recreation, and relaxation.
However, given that it was still the early morning, the park was currently empty. As if to break this deathly silence, Sistina noisily paced across the carpet of leaves which crackled and crumpled under her feet. She weaved her way through the forestry to finally arrive at her destination.
The secret meeting place was a brief expanse beneath a large Siebold’s beech tree.
The person she was meeting was already waiting there.
“…You’re a bit late today hm? That’s not like you.”
“Um… Erm, sorry… when I was going to sleep last night… I was thinking about our meeting today… so uhm, I was a bit nervous and I couldn’t fall asleep…”
Sistina’s face grew a little flushed as she awkwardly turned her gaze away.
“…Haha, so you were looking forward to this? Quite the masochist aren’t you?”
“N-, No I’m not! I-, It’s not like that you idiot…!”
Glen showed a wicked smile. Although Sistina had hurriedly denied what he said, there was no power in her voice or her words.
“On another note though, you’re no goody-two-shoes either aren’t you, White Cat? You’re not engaged to anybody and yet you’re meeting me every day behind their back… If your parents hear about this, who knows how long they’ll be crying about this?”
“E-, Even if you say that… there’s no other way… After all… I… uhm…”
“Well whatever. Unfortunately, there’s no one here today, so we can do what we want to without having to worry about others. Let’s get started then, shall we?”
As if losing his patience, Glen approached Sistina.
“…W-, Wait… My… heart isn’t ready for this yet…!”
Sistina slowly retreated away from Glen
However, she didn’t intend to run away, her steps back were slow and hesitant.
“Sorry, I’m more of the hasty type.”
Glen continued to advance.
…Closer and closer.
Finally, Sistina stopped moving away, prepared for what was to come.
She clutched her trembling arms and murmured whilst facing downwards.
“Uhm… Please be gentle… so that it won’t hurt…”
“Well, I can’t guarantee that.”
Glen revealed a broad, seemingly sadistic grin.
“You’re the type that’s fun to tease, after all.”
“Uuu… you brute…”
In a world with no one but them, in a world that they would tell to no one else—
The two began their secret activities together.
How long had it been since then?
“Hah—… Hah—… Hah—”
The sun had finally broken past the horizon, and the morning sky had begun to light up.
Sistina lay exhausted and limp on the carpet of leaves.
Her clothes were unkempt, her face was flushed bright red, her body rolled with beads of sweat. Her gaze grew hollow and vacant as her mind and body could no longer focus on what was in front of her. Her gushing hot gasps of air would not afford her slender throat even a moments rest.
“I’m sorry sensei… Please forgive me… I-, I… can’t go on… My hips are…”
Hearing Sistina’s incoherent mutters, Glen straightened his loosened necktie and bemusedly looked down.
“What? You’re done already…? Well, I guess you are a sheltered lady so you wouldn’t have had any chances to do this before. It’ll probably be like this until you get used to it.”
“…What, what do you mean by used to…? You can get used to this?”
Her head felt numb and her mind was in a daze. Her vision was foggy and she couldn’t form any concrete thoughts. The core of her body throbbed with pain and her hips, which had taken the brunt of the load, seemed to crumble even when she lay down. The fatigue accumulated in her limbs from vigorous bodily activity made it feel like her body was drifting into nothingness.
This… I don’t think I can get fully used to this no matter how many times I repeat it.
“Sure you’ll get used to it. To be honest, you did pretty well today considering it’s your first time. You’ll improve in the future.”
“Improve in the future…? But you were doing as you pleased with me the entire time…”
“Stupid, it’s a hundred years too early for you to even try leading me around the nose.”
“…Well, you sure are experienced.”
Seemingly displeased and unsatisfied, Glen said to Sistina, who stared at him.
“Here, you’ll get cold. Be careful alright? Regardless of what’s happened, you’re still a girl.”
Glen wrapped his coat around Sistina’s shoulders.
Sistina caught off guard by Glen’s sudden act of kindness. Perhaps she was being led around the nose… or so, she strongly felt.
…u…It smells like him….
Sistina, who wore Glen’s coat on her shoulders, carried uncharacteristic feelings of embarrassment as she regulated her breathing to normal.
The moments after fatigue were far more pleasant. The cool morning air seemed fresh like never before.
It made one want to indulge themselves in this swelling aftertaste forever.
“Hey sensei… I’ve been wonder, about this, but…”
Sistina stood up from the floor and inquired about a question she could not figure out no matter how much she racked her brain.
“You said you were going to teach me about magic battles… but why is it that we’re practicing boxing…?”
“Well, I thought it was about time for you to ask that.”
Yes, they were doing a special morning practice on magic battles.
This has been the secret between the two as of recently.
Sistina was one of the few that knew about Lumia circumstances. Although she excelled at magic, she was still far too inexperienced in a variety of ways if she wanted to fight to protect someone.
Knowing that, she had asked Glen to teach her the basics of magic battles, so that she would be able to protect Lumia if it ever came down to it.
At first, Glen had been reluctant to instruct Sistina on magic battles. However, as time when on, Sistina’s unending enthusiasm chipped away Glen’s reluctance and the two began their morning one-on-one practices.
Despite that… since that day, all their morning practices have solely been on sparring with their fists.
After briefly touching on the basic techniques and styles of boxing, the two wore leather gloves used for boxing so that they wouldn’t hurt one another. Under the rule that Glen would stop right before hitting Sistina and just tap her lightly, and that Sistina could strike with the intent to actually hit him, they continued their endlessly spar each and every day.
Thus far, Sistina had failed to touch even a single hair on Glen with her fist, while Glen had relentlessly tapped her countless times already.
Usually, when Glen was acting like an idiot, Sistina would have no trouble sending him flying with her fist, but when Glen ‘felt like it’ and put up the proper stance, she found herself miraculously unable to land a single blow. In the face of Glen’s nimble footwork, she could only repeatedly fling her fists at the air in front of her.
Each and every day, Sistina would exhaust herself from her own movements alone, and fall to the floor unable to rise. Perhaps she may have been unaccustomed to the movements of martial arts, but as of recent, the muscular strain on her shoulders and hips was enough to hurt intensely.
Of course, Sistina had been prepared to start from the fundamentals. However, she thought that she would practice to increase her magic power capacity, learn new skills, or learn to shorten her chants. She had thought that it would be at least something along those lines.
However, when the practice actually began, this was the result. She really couldn’t understand the reasoning behind it.
“It’s cause the logic behind boxing and magic battles are the same.” Glen said before Sistina could voice her dissatisfaction.
“You get the various patterns that you can use to hit an opponent with your fist right? Move faster than your opponent, take advantage of their mistakes, and feint to make them expose their weakness. The key is to aim for the beginning and end of the opponent’s action and find the appropriate counter. Now do you see how it’s a lot like magic battles?”
“Hmm… I suppose you’re not wrong.”
“You can call magic battles a harder and more complex boxing. Regardless of the situation, you can engrain the basics of magic battles in your body by practicing boxing and feel the flow of offense and defense.”
Was it really effective? Sistina had never heard of anyone practicing magic through boxing.
“As long as it’s an anti-personnel martial arts, it could’ve been swordsmanship or whatever really… but I’m better at boxing so that’s that.”
“Ugh-… I can’t help but feel like I’m being tricked… I feel like you’re just taking advantage of this moment to release your pent-up grudge from my scolding…”
“Of course there’s that as well.”
Guroar! Sistina pounced on the question as if threatening Glen.
“Hey hey, don’t be angry alright? It’s true that boxing helps train your ability to make decisions during magic battles. This training method was personally inherited from Serika you know? She made me do this kind of stuff all the time when I was still a kid.”
Glen gazed up towards the sky with a hint of nostalgia.
Glen would normally never show such a calm expression on his face, so it didn’t seem like he was lying.”
Although Sistina couldn’t fully understand it, but she was already prepared to continue following Glen’s guidance, so she would obediently accept his training methods.
“But hey… are you really fine with this? You’re a lady hailing from a noble household, so should you really be doing such uncivilized training? Although Swordsmanship isn’t really that different from boxing, it’s practically the standard for nobles and gentlemen isn’t it?”
“How many times have I told you that I’m fine with it? I don’t want something like that to happen again… When it came down to it, I wasn’t to help Lumia at all.”
“Mhm, I guess that’s true, but why did it have to be me? I mean, don’t you like totally hate me? Given your personal connections you should have no problem finding a teacher in and out of the academy.”
“Er… About that… Uhm…”
Sistina couldn’t quite find the words to answer. It was true that she wanted to protect Lumia, to become stronger for her sake. It was undeniable that she bore those thoughts. It was also undeniable that she bore those thoughts when she had lowered her head to beg Glen to teach her. However, why did she had she chosen Glen in particular…?
It was true that Glen was a third-rate magician… but he was a first-rate battlemage. If she were to find someone to teach her how to fight, then there would be no better choice, but was that all there was to it?
“Well, whatever, since you went out of your way to beg to me like that, it shows just how much Lumia means to you. Either way, it saves you a lot of talking if you asked someone who knew about Lumia’s situation anyway.”
“O-, Of course! That’s it! It was be too troublesome to explain myself to anyone else!”
Sistina had said this, but she couldn’t help be feel that something was out of place. To start with, she couldn’t help but feel a thorn in her chest whenever Glen said that she hated him.
She was practicing for Lumia’s sake, yet, why was it that she felt guilty whenever Lumia was brought up? There should be nothing to feel guilty about.
What was the reason for this feeling and pain…? She obsessed on this train of thought.
“Well, with boxing training as the core, we’ll keep building your stamina and instincts. Once you get to a certain point, I’ll teach you how to use military-grade magic.”
“M-, Military grade… magic.”
The purpose of military-grade magic was as its name implied; high power spells used in battle for the sole purpose of killing the opponent. Compared to the general-purposes magic being taught at the academy, the power of military-grade magic was on a whole other level. Sistina had once witnessed the power firsthand… and thinking back on it even now, she couldn’t help but tremble at the thought of the fiendish magic.
“Scared? But if you really want to do protect Lumia if it ever ‘comes down to it’… then you’ll definitely need ‘power’. You’re too naïve if you think reality will be so forgiving otherwise. When you came to ask me to teach you how to fight, I only decided to indulge you because I thought that your thoughts and feelings towards Lumia were genuine. If you feel afraid when you hear about military-grade magic… then I believe that you won’t allow yourself to be controlled by the other face of magic, and be able to use that ‘power’ correctly.”
“Well, it would be for the best if there never comes a time where you are forced to use that ‘power’…”
Glen had his back turned towards Sistina, so she wouldn’t know what sort of expression he had.
However, the feelings she held towards that back… was undoubtedly that of respect.
“From here on out as well… I’ll be in your care and guidance, sensei.”
She straightened her back and bowed towards Glen as if it were the natural thing to do.
After the morning practice, Sistina stealthily returned to the Phebell residence. After stripping her sweat-stained clothes in the washroom, she entered the connecting bathroom and prepared a light bath. After piping in water from the tank, she adjusted the temperature using a coal-fueled heater and washed away her sweat and fatigue.
As the refreshing post-bath feeling began to set in, Sistina put on the uniform she had prepared in advance and walked to the kitchen. When her parents were out, the chores would be split naturally. Sistina would prepare breakfast as Lumia was typically still asleep, while Lumia would prepare dinner as Sistina would often be busy studying magic at night. In accordance to that schedule, Sistina nimbly prepared breakfast with the helper fairies.
After preparing breakfast, Sistina returned to her room before going to wake up Lumia.
“Come on Lumia, it’s already past seven you know!? If you don’t get up now we’ll be late-”
Lumia drowsily ate her breakfast and prepared to set out for the academy.
Today, they left the Phebell residence slightly before eight, which was fairly normal.
Like any other day, the two happily talked about trifling topics as they steadily walked to towards the academy.
In the past, this would continue until the two arrived at their destination, but…
“Ah, good morning sensei!”
“…Hmm, you’ve set another record for consecutive days where you haven’t been late.”
A familiar figure waited at the crossroad in front of them.
It was Glen.
“…Mornin’ you two.”
As the two approached, he greeted them with an expression that screamed ‘I want to sleep’.
“Ahaha, Sensei… you don’t need to worry about me. It’s alright for you to just take your time in the morning.”
“…It’s fine. I like going for walks in the morning anyway. Once in a while, I just happen to take the same road you guys use to go to school and coincidentally bump into you guys along the way.”
Glen moved several steps behind them and began to follow.
Once it became clear that the ‘Wisdom of the Heaven’s Research Society’ were after Lumia, Glen escorted Lumia to and from the academy to the best of his ability.
However, Glen was an instructor and Lumia was a student. In the eyes of the students and faculty who didn’t know the circumstances, Glen appeared to be meddling in her matters far more than necessary as an instructor. Thus, inconsiderate accusations of him being a stalker and him being perverted scum flew about the campus. To begin with, Glen was a polarizing type of person; if people liked him, they liked him a lot, if they hated him, they hated his guts. So for those who saw Glen as an eyesore, this was an excellent chance to strike.
Furthermore Lumia was an extraordinarily pretty girl. Unlike Sistina whose temperament made her hard to approach, Lumia bore a gentle demeanor and kind attitude that made it easy instead. It wasn’t hard to see why she was very popular amongst the male students at the academy. Yet, in the face of Glen’s over-involvement, she didn’t seem at all dissatisfied, which resulted in jealousy and annoyance among her fans. This only further spurred their dislike for Glen.
As for Glen’s students in class two, they had once been on the receiving end of his help, so they had a deeper impression of him and didn’t shun him like many others. Even so, he had unexpectedly become the enemy of many male students of the academy.
However, Glen treated the slander and spite as no big deal.
He did not attempt to justify himself or voice his objection, he just continued to do what he thought he needed to. His bold attitude and determination to never stray from his course was akin to saint willing to be a martyr. Not only Lumia, but even Sistina, who saw everything occur as a bystander, could not help but show their honest respect for his actions.
Although Lumia felt pained that she was the source of the criticism onto Glen, she wouldn’t tell him to stop. That would be belittling Glen’s conviction.
“Then I’ll be in your care today as well, Sensei. Thank you for everything.”
That was why, as usual, Lumia did nothing more than express her gratitude as clearly as she could.
“A-ha-ha. What for? I don’t really know.”
And as usual, Glen pretended to be none the wiser.
The three continued walking towards the academy—
“Ah, by the way sensei, don’t we have a transfer student joining our class today?’
“Ah, right, try to get along with them alright?”
“But it’s pretty rare for someone to transfer in this time of the year…”
Even with the addition of Glen, the atmosphere had not changed, and the three continued to discuss trifling topics on their way to the academy.
Today, there was something abnormal intruded into that normal scene.
There was a young girl dressed in the academy’s uniform standing idly on the slope leading up to the campus’ front gate. The feature that drew Sistina’s attention was the girl’s vivid pale-blue hair, which one could easily distinguish even from faraway. Pale-blue hair was exceedingly rare within the empire, yet Sistina had no memory of such as distinguishable student.
Could that girl be the transfer student…? She’s wearing the uniform so…
As Sistina made her guess, the blue-haired girl seemed to sense their presence and turned around to face them.
In the next moment, she murmured something and placed her hand on the stone pavement, before pulling her hand upwards.
The girl suddenly pulled a claymore from the ground.
Her gaze was undoubtedly fixated on the three of them—
Almost immediately, the girl raised the sword and broke into a dash.
Cutting through the air in a straight line, she closed the distance between them at a staggering speed—
Faced with the sudden crisis, Sistina’s mind went blank.
N-, No way, is that girl a—
Sistina could only think of one group that would attack them in broad daylight.
The mysterious magical association known as the Wisdom of the Heaven’s Research Society.
Is she an assassin sent by them—?
I can’t let her do what she wants… Lumia… I need to protect Lumia—
Sistina prepared herself to protect Lumia. For that purpose, she had asked Glen to teach her how to fight.
I will… protect…-!
However, her body refused to listen. It was as if time had stopped.
With the sudden appearance of an enemy and the sinister gleam of a blade, Sistina could not bring herself to move a single step.
Lumia stepped in front of Sistina to cover her—
In the same moment, the blue-haired girl kicked off the ground with a thump and leaped high into the air.
The young girl leaped right over Lumia and Sistina and continued forward.
Hearing the hysterical scream, Sistina came to her senses and looked behind her.
The girl swung her greatsword down at Glen who narrow managed to catch it with his bare hands.
“W-, Wh-, What the hell are you doing—!? Are you trying to murder my ass!?”
Glen’s visage turned deathly pale. His eyes filled with moisture and his body began to quake as he roared at the girl that attempted to cut him in half.
If she were an assassin, this situation was a bit too strange.
“I wanted to meet you, Glen…” she murmured.
The girl made such a statement while pressing down on the sword; her eyes filled with drowsiness and her face expressionless.
“Stop being a pain in the ass! Answer my question, Riel! What the heck are you trying to do!?” Glen shouted as he released his grip on the sword and leaped to safety.
“You call this a greeting!? Well how about you go open up a dictionary and look up what ‘greeting’ means would you!?”
Hearing what Glen said, the girl showed a hint of doubt.
“…Was it wrong?”
“Of course it’s wrong!”
“But that’s what Albert told me. He said that comrades that haven’t met in a while should greet each other like this.”
“And you just up and believed him? Not to mention, all this is that guy’s fault!? Damn you Albert, do you hate me that much!? I’ll get back at you one day! Mark my words, damn it!”
Glen shouted as he twisted his fists against each side of the girl’s head.
Whatever the case, it didn’t seem like they were fighting an assassin.
“Uhm… Sensei? That girl is…”
Lumia showed a mixed smile.
“Hm? Isn’t she the girl from the Magic Games Festival…?”
Lumia suddenly came to a realization as to who the girl in Glen’s hold was.
“Mhm, she is. I’m surprised you still remember. Anyway, have I told you guys about my time in the Imperial Court Magicians?”
“No, but… I had a feeling… that you were somehow involved with them…” Sistina mumbled, unsure how to answer.
“I see. Well, the details don’t really matter. Basically, Riel… this girl over here, is one of my colleagues during my time as a battlemage. Lumia has met her before, but you should be familiar with her appearance, right White Cat? That being said though, the person you met that time was just Lumia who had transformed into her.”
Sistina calmed down and took a closer look at the blue haired girl…at Riel.
Now that Glen had reminded her of their previous meeting, she did indeed recall the girl’s appearance.
“I… I see… so she isn’t an assassin… right? T-, Thank god…”
Perhaps due to the sudden release of tension, Sistina fell on her knees as she released a long, relieved sigh.
“Well… you guys have probably noticed by now, but this is the rumored transfer student, or at least, that’s how it looks like.”
“…How it looks like?” Lumia said as she tilted her head.
“Mhm, the Imperial administration have decided to provide Lumia with an official bodyguard. So, they seemed to have decided to send someone from the Imperial Court Magicians, which is this girl over here.”
“S-, so that’s what it was… But you’re telling me this girl is a battlemage… that’s pretty impressive…”
Sistina stared in wonder at Riel. The Imperial Court Magicians were an elite group that consisted of the empire’s top magicians. Despite appearing to be around the same age as herself, Riel was already a member of such a group.
With that in mind, the curt and petite girl in front of her seemed more reliable than ever.
“Your name is Riel… yes? It’s been a while…hasn’t it?”
Lumia quickly went to greet her.
“Let me reintroduce myself okay? I am Lumia, Lumia Tinzel, and this girl here is my friend, Sisti… Sistina. It’s reassuring to have someone like you from the Imperial Court Magicians here with us. I’ll be in your care from now on, okay?”
“…Mm, leave it to me.”
Saying that, Riel stuck out her chest just a little, and expressionlessly followed.
“Everything will be alright. I will protect Glen.”
Riel casually made an outrageous statement. Lumia and Sistina could only stare blankly at her as they attempted to comprehend what she had said…
“IT’S NOT MEEEEEEEEEEEE—! What’s the point in trying to protect me you idiot!”
Glen noisily grinded his fists against the temples of Riel’s head.
“OH REAAAAALLLLY NOW—!? Hey, do you understand why you’re here!? No really Riel, do you understand what your mission is!? It’s to protect that girl over there, you see her!? Yes her! That cute blonde haired cute girl Lumia-chan!? Yeah, you got that? Give me an okay!”
“Why? WHYYYY!? Don’t give me why! Did you even read the briefing!?”
“…But I don’t get it. I want to protect Glen more than Lumia.”
“Shut it! Do you think they sent you here to choose, dumbo!?”
Glen scratched his head as he cried out of grief.
“More importantly, why did they end up sending Riel of all people!? Oh, maybe it’s cause her age is pretty close or whatever. HELLLLL NO! No matter how you think this is a mistake! God bless! Bless the dear lords for their grace! Just what are those guys in the spec ops thinking choosing her for this! Have their minds kicked the bucket or something!?”
Before Lumia and Sistina, who stood still with their mouths wide in surprise, Riel stood there with drowsy apathy whilst Glen continued to aggressively make a fuss about the events happening around him.
…Will this be… alright…?
In amidst the scene, Lumia couldn’t help but feel a smidgen of unease.
The scene shifted to a different place.
Alzano Imperial Magic Academy’s year two class two’s classroom.
“A new student joining us starting today. Her name is Riel Rayford. Well, just get along with her okay guys?”
The student’s voices rose in unison when Glen led Riel to the classroom. The students – particularly the males – grew excited as the new student took to the podium.
“…H-, How lovely.”
“Wow, her hair is so pretty…”
“She’s sort of like a doll isn’t she…”
A doll. It was true that this was a fitting analogy for Riel’s appearance.
Riel was about the same age as the other students of the class, but her facial features were much more babyish than one would expect from someone her age. Combined with her small stature, Riel looked younger than she actually was. Her hair was a rare pale-blue, and her marine blue eyes looked as if it were on the verge of succumbing to drowsiness. Yet, not a trace of emotion could be seen. However, her features were certainly elegant and she didn’t make any unnecessary movements either. Her tranquil, sculpture-like presence served to validate the doll analogy.
Despite her excellent features, the person in question didn’t seem to be at all interested in her own appearance. Her free-flowing hair was uncombed and unkempt, with the only semblance of care being the hair band that held her hair together near the back of her neck. Her pale beautiful hair that inspired jealousy was treated in a remarkably crude manner.
Even if one were to dock points for that—
“R-, Riel-chan is quite cute isn’t she…?”
“Rather, aren’t the girls of this class pretty high level overall…?”
“I’ve decided. I was never part of a faction, but I’m going to join the Riel-chan faction from here on out… Kai, what about you?”
“Hmm, you’re right Road… I guess I’ll join the Riel faction as well..”
“Hmpf… I have no eyes for anyone else but Wendy-sama! I will not switch!”
“Hey you guys over there, quit yapping for a second would ya!?”
Although it was all expected, upon seeing the new transfer student – particularly one as outstanding and uncommon as Riel – the students of the classroom, especially the males, began a clamor .
Oh geez, it’ll only get harder to keep things under control if things go on like this…
Glen internally released a long sigh.
Well, it’s not like I don’t understand how they feel. As long as Riel keeps her mouth shut, she’s most definitely a pretty girl with nothing to complain about… but again, that’s as long as she keeps it shut…
“Ah—, well, anyway guys.”
Glen forcefully interrupted the ongoing conversations and pulled the student’s attention back.
“I’m sure you guys are all curious about the new student joining us today, so I’ll let her do a self-introduction. ‘Kay then, the stage is yours, Riel.”
After that, the classroom fell silent. All the gazes gathered onto Riel.
Everyone was listening intently.
Even with all the gazes latched onto her, Riel remained standing there motionlessly.
The uneasy silence seemed to infect the whole class as well.
Unable to take the silence any longer, Glen stuck a finger out and poked the Riel’s head from the side.
“Did you not hear me? Or are you doing this on purpose?”
Riel revealed a glimmer of puzzlement as she turned to glance at Glen.
“Uh… May I bother you to introduce yourself? I’m kinda clenched for time already, so pretty please?”
“…Why? What should I do to introduce myself?”
“Just hurry up and do it! I’m begging you already! Isn’t there usually some sort of routine or script or something for this!? Just do that okay!?”
Riel lightly nodded her head, and took a step forward.
She recited her own name and lowered her head slightly.
The silence returned for a few seconds.
“Didn’t you just say your name!? Heck, didn’t I already told everyone your name when we first started!? Are you messing with me!? Even some brat in the smack middle of their adolescence who loves to say ‘oh look at me I’m so cool not giving a friggin damn about stuff’ would have introduced themselves a bit more seriously—!”
Glen held Riel’s head in his clawed hands and shook her back and forth, her hair scratching loudly against his fingers.
“But Glen, I don’t know what to say.”
“Anything’s fine, you know, like hobbies, special skills, that sort of thing! Anyway, just say what you can think of about yourself that would let everyone get to know you better! Got it!?”
Riel nodded her head and stepped forth again.
“…I am Riel Rayford. I serve in the Special Operations sect of the Imperial Court Magicians, a wing of the Imperial Army. My rank is junior knight captain, and my codename is ‘The Chariot’. My mission is…”
Glen suddenly released a strange cry, picked Riel up under his arm and flew out of the classroom.
“Uhm, what did Riel-chan say just now…?”
“Mhm, I couldn’t hear her really well… but something about the Imperial Army…”
Due to Glen’s shout, the students of the class couldn’t hear most of what the soft-spoken Riel had said.
However, the students could hear Glen, who had left the classroom, furiously shouting ‘You idiot!’ and ‘What the heck were you thinking!?’.
Then, a few minutes later—
After discussing something, the two returned to the classroom.
“…I hope to join the Imperial Army in the future and I came to this academy to learn magic. That’s what it is now. I’m from… erm, somewhere in Itelia…? My age is probably fifteen. My interests are… I think… reading. My special skills… what am I supposed to say here again, Glen?”
“Don’t ask me.” Glen groaned as veins bulged from his temples.
After listening to Riel’s half-baked introduction, the students could only stare in bewilderment .
Turning a blind eye to the bafflement of the students, Glen pushed the conversation forward.
“And that was Riel Rayford’s introduction! Ahaha, oh my, she really is a normal student you can see anywhere isn’t she!? You guys, I know Riel’s super-duper bland and totally normal, perhaps even too normal, but get along with her okay!? Okay!? Well then, let’s get into our lecture for today…”
“Before that, may I please ask a question?”
One student, the twin-tailed noble lady named Wendy, raised her hand.
“I have a question for Riel. Do you mind?”
“Ah—, Riel’s just got here after a really long journey so I’m pretty sure she’s tired. You’re tired right? Of course you are. Mhm, that being the case, why don’t we leave the question for next…”
With an expression that laid his unpleasant feelings bare, Glen tried to brush the topic off, but…
“…Mm, ask me anything.”
“Hey you! Would it kill you to read the mood just a teensy tiny bit!? Or what is it now!? Do you have some grudge against me or something!?”
Then, in frustration, Glen scratched away at his hair and turned his head towards the ceiling.
“If you don’t mind, then I hope you answer. If I remember correctly, you are from the Itelia area yes? What about your family then?”
Hearing the question, Glen peeked open his eyes, whilst Riel’s eyebrows shifted slightly.
“…I had… a brother…”
“I see, so you have a dear brother. Fufu, what kind of person is he? Where is he right now? What kind of work does he do?”
There was nothing wrong with Wendy’s question. Family-related questions were generally the most frequent ones after self-introductions.
However, for some reason, Riel body became rigid upon hearing the question, as if she had been caught off guard…
“My brother’s… name is…”
Her expression twisted into a frown, and she pressed her hands against her head as if looking for an answer…
Her lips trembled as she lost herself trying to find the syllables…
“His name, is…. His name… name … is…”
For some reason, Riel stagnated when asked for the name.
Her wrinkled brows and downcast head seemed a bit agonizing, even.
“Sorry. Please avoid questions related to her family.”
Carrying an uncharacteristically grave expression, Glen cut into the conversation.
“Actually, she has no relatives as of now… so could you guys let this one go?”
“Eh!? No way… but she did say ‘had’ and not ‘have’… I’m very sorry, Riel-san, I didn’t know… I didn’t mean to do that…”
Feeling ashamed, Wendy cast her eyes downward and apologized to Riel.
“… It’s okay. There’s no problem.” Riel murmured.
Riel’s was usually deadpan, but on this rare occasion, an abyssal perplexment filled her expression.
“T-, Then what about this!”
A hero rose his hand as if to blow away the deathly atmosphere that permeated the room. It was the student who often took on the role of the leader among his peers, Cashew.”
“Riel-chan, what kind of relationship do you have with Glen-sensei? You two look like you know each other and seem to be really close. If you don’t mind, I would you very much like to know.”
With that question, Cashew served as a proxy for all the members of the class (especially the males).
“Ah, that’s right! I was really curious about that.”
“That’s what I thought too! We should take to chance to clear this up shouldn’t we?”
“For a while now I thought that with the way you two act you don’t seem to be just normal acquaintances…”
The class worked hard to follow up on Cashew’s lead.
The previous hustle and bustle quickly returned to the classroom.
“…My relationship, with Glen?”
“…Mm… A-, About that…”
What should I say?
Should I play the standard ‘distant relatives’ card here?
Glen hesitated for a mere moment to choose his words carefully…
“Glen is my everything. I’ve decided that I will live for his sake.”
However, that moment of hesitation would cost him gravely.
“Say what—!? Riel, you—
Glen, startled, was not even given the chance to deny—
“KYAAAAAAAA—! How bold~! How passionate~!”
“GAAAH! I fell in love at first sight, but my heart is already brokeeeeeennnnn—!”
Female shrieks erupted alongside male outcries, lowering the classroom into a state of chaos.
“Forbidden relationship! It’s a forbidden relationship between a teacher and student~! Kya—! Kyaaa—!!”
“Ho? Not bad, sensei!”
“O-, Oh my what are you suggesting, Cashew-san!? This is a proooblem! It’s a big proooblem—!!”
“Damn it sensei… Despite how you are I respected you in some way… but that’s all over now… I haven’t felt this way in a while… How about we take a step outside—!? (cry)”
“You better watch your back when you’re out at night—! (sob)”
The female student who were fired up at the thought of this forbidden relationship. The honor students who thought the forbidden relationship was a problem. The greater part of the males who hoped to approach Riel at some point exuded a maelstrom of hatred. The imagination of the students collectively took flight to pioneer unjust suspicions of the relationship between Glen and Riel. The classroom became a massive free-for-all of shouting and screaming.
“Quit being noisy, Glen Ryders! Why in the world would you let your students freely partake in such idiotic antics!? Are you trying to interrupt my lectures!? Damn you, just how far are you going to go to ruin me—!?”
Even the instructor of the neighboring class one, Harry, rushed over with a complexion that was actively changing hues—
…The situation was already beyond control.
“AAAAHHHH!? I’ve had enough! How did it come down to thhhhiiiiissssssssssssssssss—!?”
A scream that came from the depths of Glen’s soul resounded throughout the academy.
Then, amongst the pandemonium of agonizing cries that seemed to come from hell itself, there was one person.
Riel alone looked on in absentminded puzzlement as the scene continued to unfold.