Luecke’s duel uproar soon reached the ears of the academy’s headmaster. There was no way the academy could permit a duel between legitimate children of the Three Lords’ Houses, and they were pressed for how to respond. The problem didn’t just lay with Luecke, but also in that Eunius had consented to the dual. And while they had tried to duke it out on the spot, Rudel had brought a stop to it.
But the reason he stopped it wasn’t because fighting was bad. He proposed they choose an appropriate spot for their match. As Rudel had simply added fuel to the fire, those concerned cursed him as they thought up a plan.
They thought and mulled… and took up the idea the headmaster had wrung out.
“The individual matches of the second term? Sure enough, I have no objections with the time and place. It seems Eunius was going to participate from the start, and even if Luecke turns in an application now, I’m sure he’ll make it in time. Since the academy proposed it, he’ll probably be able to even if he doesn’t make it.”
Hearing the notification from the academy, Rudel’s reaction was level. It wasn’t as if he didn’t think anything of a duel between friends. But once was enough, Rudel thought it was necessary for the two of them to seriously clash.
“Isn’t that terrible? As a friend, that’s a terrible response, Rudel?”
“Why is that? From the point of view of you goddesses, shouldn’t this be a delightful development.”
Hearing that, the former goddess thought. Two who usually didn’t get along would duel and become honest with their feelings…
“It’s the best! I mean no, you’re the worst! If you’re their friend, you should at least mediate their fights.”
She gave a wide grin as she rebuked Rudel. Rudel handed her a cake to shut her up for a bit, and spent a while in thought. The two of them didn’t get along well, but they did share some common worries, and it wouldn’t be strange if they got along in the academy. Or so he thought. And in truth, Rudel got along with both of them.
Even if their houses were at odds, there was something called a sense of distance. If they hated each other, they could just stay away, but the two of them stayed within an arm’s length. Rudel found it a mystery.
“I’m sure the two of them are actually friends.”
“… ? I think they really don’t get along, you know? They’re just getting along because you’re there, or because it’s interesting to be around you, right?”
Hearing the words of the former goddess who’d finished her cake, Rudel wondered if that was the case. But he decided this duel would be the perfect place for them to spit up the dissatisfactions they had been building up towards one another. And before he could think about anyone else, he wanted to prioritize polishing his control of his power.
Luecke swung his sword alone in the boys’ dorm courtyard. When it came to battle, he was more often than not charged with magic on the back lines, so he needed to polish the close combat skills he knew he was lacking. Vexing as it was, Luecke was well aware he couldn’t beat Eunius when it came to close combat.
“Just how far can I go in the short time remaining… no, what good is whining? This battle alone is one I can’t lose. And there’s no way I can lose to that guy (Eunius)!”
Luecke had learned a sword style focused on thrusts, but he had even less talent than Rudel. The experience he’d built up didn’t even reach Eunius’ or Rudel’s feet.
That’s how he was, but it wasn’t as if he didn’t have a chance. Magic… he was more skilled in it than anyone, and his talent and the experience and knowledge he’d built up trumped the both of them. Even with that magic, he had been unable to stand against Rudel in the past, so he was unable to be conceited in it.
He had a trump card, but wanting another hand to play, Luecke polished his swordplay.
In contrast, Eunius also took up a surprising action. He dropped by the magic proving grounds he would never usually approach. As he usually fought centered around the sword more than magic, Eunius had neglected the thing called magic.
You could say that was simply how high his talent in the sword was, but he understood that alone wasn’t enough to win.
Their battles with Rudel had changed Luecke and Eunius. He was still polishing his sword, but surely Luecke would expect that and draft up countermeasures. Thought Eunius. So he decided to hastily acquire some magic.
“Tsk, that thickhead… but well, this is a good opportunity. It isn’t a bad thing to have a serious fight.”
Eunius spoke with a ferocious smile. What he wanted was a magic he could use in real combat. He knew a number of the magics taught at the academy, but if he couldn’t use them in battle, they were pointless. That on his mind, Eunius recalled the magic he had taken from Rudel.
Touching his hands to his chest, Rudel had used a violent method of smacking magic in at point blank.
“I could just ask Rudel, but this is something I should resolve on my own. I don’t want to lose against that guy (Luecke), after all.”
Eunius stood in front of the wall erected to fire magic at, and from memory, he tried imitating Rudel. Even if it was an imitation, he didn’t touch his palm against the wall. Cladding his fist in magic, he slammed it in.
The impact hurt his fist, but a crack spread across the wall.
“That hurt like hell! If I keep at it like this, my fist will break… do I pit in more magic? Unlike the sword, it seems easier to control, but the timing is harder.”
Eunius thought back to when Rudel had used it. This time he put in more than double the mana and smacked the wall.
“This is going to take some time…”
Eunius looked at the blown-away wall as he muttered. He had got the timing off, but the wall had been obliterated. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but his opponent was Luecke. When it came to magic, Euniuz recognized he was much greater than he, and he couldn’t be satisfied with these results.
Aleist’s job change to black knight held martial arts as one of its prerequisites, and while it was hard to say it ended safely, he had succeeded. Training in the arts over the course of a few months, Aleist had definitely grown. As proof of his black knight status, he could now control the darkness from his shadow. He shed tears of passion.
But to the men of the tiger tribe, such a thing was irrelevant. More than that, hating doing things half-assed, they took Aleist’s completed martial arts with a grain of excitement.
“Of course there’s more to come, you fool! Today, we’re starting from the basics again.”
“So you’ve come that far… finally, our dearest wishes shall too.”
“For our big brothers who’ve already graduated, we’ll learn for their share as well!”
“Eh? No. We can just end it here, so I’ll report to Rudel and…”
“”Shut it and get back to work!!!”
Aleist’s troubles continued…
At the time Aleist cried out, Rudel was practicing unity of body and mind. At the rapid growth of his physical abilities and magic, it had become quite frequent that they would go out of his control. When he tried firing magic, it wasn’t only once or twice that he was blown away himself. The output was too different, and what he had to do was close to relearning control from the ground up.
And for Rudel, the greatest reason he practiced his meditation was Lena’s words. When he had been making sure not to be conscious or Izumi, Lena’s words had caused him to waver.
Recalling them again, Rudel stopped his mental concentration and stood. When his sister had uncovered his lie, he had no choice but to admit it was so. He didn’t put it to words, but Rudel had definitely lied when it came to Izumi. And even if it came out in his actions, he had intended to conceal his feelings.
This time he tried to swing his wood sword. But even if he swung it, it hadn’t a fragment of its usual cutting edge.
“If I’m like this, then I don’t have the time to worry about those two.”
Rudel looked up as he muttered.
“Aleist-dono is training with the tiger tribe boys?”
“So it seems. It appears he was at the academy over break, training his martial arts.”
The long break over, Fina returned to the academy. Her guard captain Sophina had arrived beforehand to prepare for her arrival. Because of that, hse had caught wind of some of the academy’s rumors to tell her.
In Fina’s cleanly-kept room at the academy, Fina sat on the sofa as she sipped some black tea. The individual was delighted at being released from her stiff life at the palace, but… Sophina’s report caused her insides to turn with rage.
“It looks like he has it hard.”
(T-that damn homo! You mean to say he’s been fluffing around with all the tiger tribe men when I was away!? Even I’ve been forced into a no fluff life at the palace, but that Aleist… I’ll put a curse on him!)
“Yes, he’s had his fair share of troubles. Also, Luecke-dono of the Halbades house will be participating in this years individual tournaments. It seems he raised a bit of an uproar, challenging Eunius-dono to a duel.”
(Like I care! Delaying to give a report on master, and saying nothing but such inconsequential information… that’s why your last marriage interview was a failure.)
“Yes, and about Rudel-sa… Dono! Apparently he brought his sister over. He showed her around the academy, and I heard a report that she was quite an interesting child.”
“Sister? Could you be talking about Erselica-san?”
(I think there was such a girl. Though I don’t really remember her.)
While Fina thought such terrible things within, her expressionless face and level-headed responses made sure her opponent would ever notice. But Sophina’s report brought a sudden change to that.
“No, it seems she is the daughter of Archduke Arses’ mistress. A girl of rare black hair, I heard she got along considerably well with Rudel.”
“W-what was that… black hair? I see, so the reason he likes black hair is his sister…”
“To think my master was a man of such high-level preferences. That’s why he kept ‘that woman’ by his side to fill in the gaps.”
(Hmm, so I’ve finally uncovered the reason he likes black hair. To summarize, it’s the little sister factor! And once I get my hands on it, my era shall come! The times are a changinggg!!!)
Leaving nervous Sophina to the side, Fina decided her future objectives. The little sister factor, or rather, she was to approach Rudel while drawing attention to the fact she was a little sister. Thinking over that plan, she thought over what she would require first. Cuteness? Expressionless, so out of the question. Sweetness? Expressionless so out of the question. Be cold and then kind… she didn’t know if Rudel would be able to comprehend her intent, so out of the question.
“Princess, won’t you give up on Rudel-dono already? Even if it may be the request of a princess, Rudel-dono has the circumstances of the Arses House to deal with, so… are you listening to me, princess?”
(She’s definitely thinking something different under that expressionless face… hah, can’t someone take over this job from me? My marriage interview failed, and everyone’s looking at me with warm eyes now.)
“Right. First, I’d like to meet with my flu… Mii, Sophina.”
(Dangit, master is surprisingly hard to conquer. In that case, I guess I should relax and get some fluffing as I think long and hard over it. My fluff bars are running low, so Mii ain’t sleeping tonight!)
“Princess, Mii will not return until tomorrow.”
The characters who would become the protagonist’s comrades based on the route he chose. Those were Luecke and Eunius. Luecke who boasted powerful magic, and Eunius who specialized in close combat, the story advanced by choosing between them. While they were both reliable allies in the latter half of the game, by no means could you obtain both of them.
It was a problem that came when the commoner protagonist committed an act of discourtesy against a noble. The Halbades House or the Diade House, he would need to have one of them back him. And by that flow, and the fact they were each at the top of a faction, he would lose the chance to get to know the other.
They held a position in society to protect the protagonist who would become a hero. Once the game entered its war arc, a factional dispute would break out causing the Courtois Kingdom to be late to react, and from then on, they held a role of saving the protagonist.
The one who caused the factional dispute was the one who wasn’t chosen. The chosen one fought alongside the protagonist as justice. But that meant the one not chosen would have to be evil.
If they weren’t chosen, they would become an enemy. That was the pair of Luecke and Eunius. And the fates of the two were beginning to move at the climax of the midgame.