| As the school entered its third term, Rudel's class was the epitome of seriousness. They prepared for the tournament to such an extent the homeroom teacher said it was the first he had ever seen in all his years of teaching. The class year separated tournament was a place to show the fruits of one's work over the past two years. It was a passionate event every year, but as the royal family was coming this time around, the passion put in was something else entirely.
And Rudel's class was even above that, they put in their passion to save Rudel from his forceful graduation. And in this tournament with a new level of passion, the top pick class held a strained atmosphere.
After the incident of the second term, Aleist had become the academy's hero, but the class' air took a turn for the worst. The verbal brawls in the forest still held a resounding effect. But even so, there weren't any student able to launch a complaint against Aleist's strength, so the class' dissatisfactions would only build up. At this point, speaking ill of Aleist- who rarely ever came to class at this point- had become their diversion.
Within that situation, the tournament was about to open.
And as Rudel's class devoted themselves to training, Leucke and Eunius appeared, leading along the representatives of their own classes. In that evening ground, the students of three classes gathered, letting out something of a peculiar air.
"Rudel, I heard the story. I know your class's goal in this tournament."
On the words Luecke started up with, Rudel's class embraced a light hope of his possible cooperation. Even Izumi thought, if it was these Three Lords who got along well, then... she hoped. But Eunius continued on.
"We heard, but we've decided to beat you down with all our strength. In this time's tournament, you'll face Luecke in the first match, and if you win, you'll be going up against us. And if you manage to luck your way through that one, Aleist's class will be your final opponent. You've got no hopes of victory."
After saying that, the two of them led off their class representatives. Those words caused Izumi to feel down. The two of them towered over the rest in the fields of magic and swordplay. If they wanted to win against those two classes, they would have to utilize the fact this was a team battle. A stream of one-on-one matches... the moment she thought that. Rudel called out to the two leaving parties.
"I'm participating in the last slot! How about you two?"
He boldly proclaimed his order in the lineup! Within the dubious air that surrounded the space, the two simply raised their hands to answer before walking off.
"W-wha-what are you talking about, Rudel!!?"
Izumi's voice echoed through the grounds.
The class representatives that tagged along the leaving two called out to their own class leaders.
"A-are you sure about this, Luecke-sama? If Arses-sama doesn't win this time around..."
To the representative who said that, Luecke spoke.
"Just you try slacking off in the tournament. I'll never forgive you."
As Luecke stated it coldly, Eunius stopped and looked over everyone. And with his ferocious features, he made a declaration.
"In this time's tournament, holding back is more unforgivable than losing! I don't care about the other classes, but don't go light on Rudel's class!"
"Hah, Eunius... in that case, you can't complain if you lose before you even go up against Rudel's class."
In regards to Luecke's sigh, Eunius answered with a laugh.
"Are you an idiot? As if we'd ever lose to anyone besides Aleist's or Rudel's classes... I decided I'd never hold back against him."
It wasn't as if Luecke or Eunius were giving it their all because they hated Rudel or anything. They recognized his skill, so they would give it their all. They'd seriously take him on, and wouldn't complain whether they won or lost... that was their conclusion.
"Because Rudel would never forgive us if we held back on him."
"That bastard... he even made a challenge to us. What are you going to do, Luecke?"
Turning to Rudel's class in the distance, Luecke,
"It goes without saying, I'll take him on personally... I'll be taking the last slot."
On those words, Luecke's class made a stir. If they wanted to win, then it would be best not to put Luecke up against Rudel. But continuing on with that answer, Eunius also,
"And of course so will I! I wanted to fight him at least once."
Eunius also turned towards Rudel's class. There, he could confirm the form of Izumi chasing Rudel around. And caught by Izumi, Rudel called out towards the two.
"I... No! We will definitely win!!!"
A smile at that voice, the two walked off. Chased behind by their classmates... and even further back, they could hear the laughing voices of Rudel and his class.
The day of the tournament. In the assembly hall, the King of Courtois, Albach Courtois, his Queen, Ciel Courtois, and the First Princess, Aileen Courtois took their places in the noble visitor room, looking down over the hall that was to be the stage of this tournament.
Protected by high knights, the three of them quietly looked over the hall. To their side, the headmaster made himself scarce. And to that room, the Second Princes Fina made her entrance. Right, the one who invited her family was Fina.
"You look well, Fina. Though it's only been a month since we last met."
Her father, the king, said and laughed.
"You still can't show expression? I thought you would get better if you attended the academy, but..."
Her mother, the queen, spat some cynicism. After the king soothed her some, the queen,
"Fina, how's school? I never attended, so I'm quite interested... you wouldn't say anything about it during the break, could you tell me about how things are going?"
"It's been quite a while, father, mother... and sister."
As she gave a perfect curtsy, Fina's expressionless face showed no signs of change. The emotions she held towards her family,
(Our royal family really is a hopeless one... Aileen's especially dangerous! If she ever found out about my little kitten Mii... that girl would definitely come to kill her! I say it with conviction! Mother's, well, she's the same as always, and father is... I guess he's decent?)
She held a subdued impression of her family.
Fina took her seat in the noble visitor room, looking over the assembly hall... in the hall filled to the brim with students, there were various banners and flags hoisted up in support of their own classes. The zeal of the hall was only heightened by the presence of royalty.
(How sweltering... when I can endure the heat of Mii's fluffiness, how should I put it... if it's for the fluff, then I...!!!)
As she expressionlessly thought over such things, her father posed her a question.
"So how is it? According to you, the Arses house's eldest son is a proficient one, and I've heard something similar from both a high knight and dragoon... how should I put it, with all these reports coming in from the left field, I'm troubled to respond. Cattleya seems to hate him considerably, you know? And from the documents, it's hard to say that he's skilled. Though I will say he's interesting."
"The Arses House is a disgraced one. At present, they're included among the Three Lords in name alone... the moment I heard you had interest in such a house's eldest son, to be honest, I felt doubtful, Fina."
Her mother who couldn't even speak if she didn't mix in some sarcasm. As she naturally ignored it, her sister Aileen,
"He's a battle lover, right? Such savage folk, they're no different from the demi-humans. I hate those sorts! If it's about holding power, then the Hardie House's Aleist-dono Cattleya spoke so highly of is most ideal. Don't you think so, Fina?"
Fina gave a vague reply. But inside...
(Eh? That homo's your type? So that's the sort of thing you're into... I don't think I'll ever get you, sis. Nothing greater than fluff exists in this world! Ah! But master is separate! That man is a national treasure of Courtois! A treasure!!! Even so, it seems she hates fluffi... I mean demi-humans as much as ever.)
As they carried on such a conversation, the competitors offered a bow to the royal family. The family waved their hands in response, but...
"Good grief... to waste my time on something like this..."
"There are demi-humans among them. Why are they sending out demi-humans? They should just cut down their numbers and send some humans out..."
"Hah, calm down a bit, both of you. Try learning from Fina."
While the conversation was shifted to Fina,
(Oy, oy!!! Look at all the demi-fluffies... hah, hah... forgive me, Mii! I might end up cheating on you!!!)
... she was the worst off of the bunch.