Chapter 20: For the Sake of Friends
After finishing class, Maron invited me again to join her on a subjugation request, but I decided to decline and return to the student dormitory.
The reason being that Mil had already gone back to the dormitory before me.
I had planned to take on a school request together with Mil today, but we had a small argument, and since then, Mil has been giving me the silent treatment.
It feels like she’s angry or sulking.
Mil is deliberately trying to create tension between us.
If I become estranged from Mil, I can get along freely with Maron and the others.
That’s probably what she’s thinking, but I’m not someone who falls for such transparent tactics.
So, for today, without taking on any requests, I returned to the student dormitory.
When I entered my room, Mil was naturally there and looked at me with a surprised expression.
“What’s wrong, Mil? You’re making such a dumbfounded face.
Was it really that surprising for me to come back to my own room?”
Mil blushed intensely and quickly averted her gaze when I playfully let out a smirk.
It seems like I genuinely made her angry.
Maybe I teased her a bit too much.
But teasing her is so worthwhile, you know?
“Could it be that you thought if you went back first, I would compromise and go on a school request with Maron? I’ll say it as many times as necessary, but I won’t leave Mil behind to be with someone else.”
Mil continued to avert her gaze without saying a word.
Even when she sneakily glanced at me, her cheeks were still bright red, indicating her frustration.
Is she really that bothered by my actions?
Well, I do think I’m being irrational.
If I were considering survival in this academy, I should have definitely accepted Maron’s invitation.
But I don’t want to be without Mil either.
I conveyed my feelings by unexpectedly hugging Mil’s slender body from behind.
“Just give up and cheer up, Mil.
Let’s think of a solution together.”
“I don’t want to.
I don’t want to know you anymore, Sachi-san.”
Even after going this far, she still keeps ignoring me.
I guess this is how it is.
She’s deliberately taking a cold attitude towards me, trying to create a rift between us.
And she plans to make me get along with Maron and the others alone.
How naive, Mil.
You’re completely mistaken if you think you can sever ties with me over something like this.
“For someone who acts like that, take this!”
“Please, stop! Don’t take my hood! Don’t put anything inside it!”
In the end, on that day, Mil didn’t speak to me even once after that.
The next morning.
When I woke up, I realized that Mil, who should have been sleeping in the adjacent bed, was nowhere to be found.
Checking the clock, it was still two hours before our usual school time.
Where could she have gone so early in the morning? There wasn’t any urgent business to attend to today.
Maybe she’s still not in a good mood.
Perhaps she didn’t want to see my face anymore and went to school early.
Or maybe she wants to minimize the time she spends with me by adjusting her school arrival time, trying to create a rift in our relationship.
“…If it has come to this, maybe I’ll chase her to the bitter end.”
I’ll show her that it’s a big mistake to think she can easily fall out with me.
With that in mind, I also prepared for school early in the morning and decided to head to the academy two hours earlier than usual.
While walking to school, I started thinking.
I must admit that I can understand Mil’s perspective to some extent.
She has a unique unfortunate constitution that can put those around her in danger.
In my case, with a Luck Stat of 999, I’ll be fine, but it won’t be the same for our other classmates.
I heard that she had had a friend in the past whom she accidentally brought misfortune upon, so I can understand her reluctance to be friends with anyone.
But would it not be a waste to end her own school life because of that? Considering that it is almost impossible for us commoners to reach our target grades no matter how hard we struggle.
“…That’s why I told her let’s think together.”
Muttering to myself, I arrived at the school building surprisingly quickly.
And I decided to first search for Mil.
Although, I already had an idea of her destination.
The reason Mil came to the academy so early in the morning is most likely to take on a school request.
The request counter is open even in the morning.
However, the number of requests is extremely limited, and most of them are introduced to students who come in the afternoon.
So, there are usually no people visiting the counter in the morning.
But I’ve heard that occasionally there are some “hidden gem” requests available, so maybe Mil is hoping to find one by waking up early.
If there happens to be such a request, even commoners like us would have a chance to be introduced, depending on the mood of the receptionist.
It’s a more realistic approach than visiting during the highly competitive time after school.
If Mil is thinking about surviving in the academy without relying on anyone’s help, it’s not surprising that she would reach this method first.
By the way, I was also considering this approach.
So, I decided to search for Mil and head to the request counter myself.
That’s when an unexpected scene caught my eye.
“Huh? Why are there so many people here?”
Nobody visits the request counter in the morning.
At least, that’s what I heard.
However, there were already several students gathered around the counter, and it seemed a bit noisy.
I wondered if something had happened and went to see what was going on.
“What’s going on? Are they fighting early in the morning?”
“It seems that girl tried to accept a request recommended by the receptionist, and that guy who was standing behind her started arguing with her.”
“Huh, just because of that?”
I thought the same thing.
It’s clearly strange to get into an argument for such a reason.
As I was wondering, another student next to me started a conversation.
“What’s the deal? A fight early in the morning?”
“It seems like that girl tried to accept a request recommended by the receptionist, and that guy who was standing behind her intervened,” he explained.
“Oh, I see.”
I secretly agreed.
It made sense.
So, if I understood correctly, Mil, who was waiting in line early in the morning, won the chance to accept a single request, and the guy behind her thought, “Wait a minute,” and tried to stop her.
In the morning, it seems that only one reception window is open, and it’s a first-come, first-served basis to get the chance to be recommended a request.
So, it wouldn’t be strange for someone to pick a fight over it, right? Mil, who woke up earlier than anyone else, is praiseworthy, isn’t she?
“By the way, isn’t that guy Kaien from Class C?”
“Kaien? Is that the Kaien from the Shifonard family?”
Even as someone with shallow knowledge, I had heard of that prestigious family.
They are a renowned lineage, known as the epitome of noble families, producing numerous exceptional magicians who had contributed to the nation.
Especially during the times of frequent wars, they wielded their formidable skills and achieved numerous military exploits.
The Shifonard family conducted magical education for their children from a young age and reportedly allowed them to accompany actual monster hunts at the age of five.
They even made their children independent at the age of six and made them earn the tuition fees for elementary school by themselves.
Normally, one would need a national qualification to accept monster hunt requests, but the Shifonard family had the privilege of accepting requests from childhood.
In other words, they were a family of martial magicians.
They were often talked about in parallel with my own family, the Glacière family, but in terms of power dynamics, the Shifonard family was overwhelmingly superior.
The relationship between the two families had remained unchanged since ancient times, with the Glacière family constantly trying to catch up, so I often heard stories about it.
And this year, I heard a rumor that among the new students, there was a prodigy from the Shifonard family.
Is that red-haired guy the one they’re talking about?
“He scored top marks on the entrance exam, and his magical power is probably among the top in all grades.”
“Why is such a genius in the same year as us?”
From what I heard, that red-haired guy seemed to be quite a talented individual.
And it seems that Mil has caught the attention of that genius.
She really has no luck, that girl.
“Cut it out, you worthless commoner.
Can’t you understand that I’m telling you to hand over that request?”
Cornered by Kaien from the Shifonard family, Mil trembled in fear.
But despite that, she clung tightly to the request document she held in her arms, as if it were something precious.
It seems that Mil has no intention of giving up that request.
She’s trying her best to muster her voice and drive Kaien away.
“I, I was actually the one waiting in line… for that request… with my friend.”
“What the hell! I can’t hear a word you’re saying!”
Mil’s voice was too weak, and Kaien became even more agitated, raising his voice.
I’ve been observing the situation for a while now, and it seems like he has quite a quick-tempered personality.
It wouldn’t be good to provoke him any further, I think.
Just as I was about to step in and help, at that moment…
“T-This is… a very important request that I planned to take with my friend…”
Mil’s heartfelt words caused my eyes to well up with tears.
A request that she planned to take with her friend, something precious.
Just like how I’ve been worried about Mil, she’s been thinking only about me.
Even though she’s been pretending to be cold towards me, she’s secretly been doing her best.
She probably felt sorry for making me worry, for not being able to get along with Maron-san because of her.
So she must have come to the reception desk early in the morning, thinking that she would at least secure the request.
I secretly made a vow in my heart to thank her properly later.
As I did, Kaien’s veins bulged in response to Mil’s rebellion.
“You, as a commoner, do you think you can snatch a request from me, the eldest son of the Shifonard family? Besides, there’s no way a commoner like you can accomplish a monster hunt request!”
He arbitrarily decided that.
Unable to accept that, Mil, unusually, tried to voice her opposition.
“I-If I don’t try… I won’t know…”
“I’m telling you, it’s too late to try after you fail the monster hunt request! If that’s the case, hand it over to me, who can definitely accomplish the request!”
Perhaps due to the repeated angry outbursts, Mil was completely intimidated.
She hunched down, losing her confidence, and eventually fell silent, keeping her mouth shut.
Could it be that her pitiful state further provoked him…?
Kaien shouted angrily.
“This academy is a world of pure meritocracy! Weak magicians must obey the commands of strong ones, that’s the rule! So give up already, you worthless commoner!”
Finally, Kaien forcibly snatched the request document that Mil was holding so dearly, with a swift motion of his right hand.
In the process, Mil’s fragile body was pushed and she let out a small scream as she fell to the floor.
Then, perhaps due to the impact, something flew out from around Mil’s neck.
What fell in front of Kaien was her father’s cherished pendant, seemingly coming loose from the impact of being pushed.
Kaien looked at it, snorting derisively.
“Hah, pretending to be all fancy as a commoner, but it doesn’t suit you at all!”
In that unbelievable moment–
Kaien stepped on the pendant, crushing it.
Twisting and grinding his foot, he mercilessly crushed the precious pendant.
Eventually, when he finished, Kaien stepped back…
Only the shattered remnants of the pendant, in a pitiful state, were left beneath his feet.
Mil remained seated, reaching out for the remnants of her cherished pendant.
No matter how much she touched it, the pendant wouldn’t revert to its original form, and the blue light it once held eventually faded away, as if its life had extinguished.
Quiet tears welled up in Mil’s round eyes.
Gradually, she sobbed and knelt before the broken pendant.
Witnessing that scene from a short distance away, I felt something stirring within me.
And before I knew it, I found myself pushing aside the onlookers and stepping forward.
“You pathetic wreck like you isn’t needed in this academy.
Pack your things and go back to the countryside.”
Kaien, about to leave with the snatched request document in hand, was stopped by my words.
Something inside me exploded.
“Oh, excuse me, sir over there?”
“Huh? Who the hell are you…”
Only one sound echoed through the early morning school building.
Kaien stood there, completely unaware of what had just happened, his cheeks reddened and swollen.
Similarly, the surrounding students were frozen as if doubting their own eyes.
Even Mil, who had been crouching down, raised her bewildered face.
But I didn’t do anything difficult.
I just gave this idiot a smack.
Soon, Kaien, realizing that he had been slapped, shot me a sharp gaze.
“What the hell did you do?!”
That line should be directed at me.
If he doesn’t understand what he did, I’ll tell him directly.
“You should apologize.”
“Apologize for taking this girl’s request letter and breaking her precious pendant.
Apologize for everything.”
He probably thinks he broke some pendant that commoners wear casually to intimidate them.
But that pendant is important to Mire.
It was the last creation of her late father, who was a magical tool maker.
Before enrolling in the magic academy, her mother gave it to her as a protective charm.
It was an irreplaceable item.
And this guy…
“What should I apologize for, you damn commoner?! You should be bowing your head to the ground and apologizing! Who the hell do you think I am?!”
“I don’t know.
Who are you?”
“I’m a member of the Sifonard family, a noble who doesn’t allow conversation with the lowest of the low commoners.
You’re a damn commoner without a family crest, getting carried away.
Apologize right now, or I’ll make you apologize by force!”
By force, huh?
I had a good idea.
“Oh, that’s a good idea.
How about we settle it with a mock battle to decide who will apologize?”
“The weak have to obey the words of the strong in this academy, right? So how about we have a mock battle, and the winner gets to make the loser do anything they want?”
This academy is a world of complete meritocracy, where weak magicians must obey the words of the strong.
That’s what this guy himself said.
And in this magic academy, mock battles between students are traditionally allowed.
If that’s the case, there’s no better way to use that tradition.
We’ll have a mock battle, clearly separate the weak from the strong, and make our case as magicians.
When I proposed that, Kaien sneered at me.
“Huh, you have some nerve, damn commoner! I’ll make you regret being born as a woman, and I’ll kick you out of this academy!”
“You’re the one who should be tucking your tail and running away.”
And so, I ended up agreeing to a mock battle against Kaien Sifonard.
He made my friend cry, and I will make sure he regrets it.
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