| In the tournament waiting room, the second years of the fundamental curriculum gathered. Everyone present was a representative of their class, and a person of skill. Within all that, the matches commenced one after the next... and it was finally time for Rudel's class to go up against Luecke's. Both classes exited the waiting room. Rudel and Luecke walked alongside one another.
"I'll be giving it my all, Rudel."
"Yeah, I won't go easy on you either. I'll fight with all I have."
Without locking eyes, the two of them entered the hall, waiting until the final match came to pass. It was a team battle between five representatives, and Rudel's class won the first and second matches to make the score two on two. With that, it would all be decided by the final bout, but more than any of that, the two of them could only concentrate on the worthy foe before their eyes.
"And now the round's final battle shall commence!"
Alongside the referee's signal, Luecke began to take distance to contest with his specialty magic. But Rudel wouldn't allow it as he closed in the gap. Luecke was aware he couldn't beat Rudel when it came to speed. So he cut forward to lock up his sword.
The wooden sword Luecke had swung to protect against Rudel's was splendidly knock and sent spiraling through the air. And as Rudel went right on the offense,
Luecke used magic at a close range. Normally, using it like that would be much too dangerous... normally, that is! But even so, there was some worth in his cast. The explosion blew him back, letting him take distance from Rudel. Luecke had suffered injury at his own magic. But even so, he had taken distance. And it was from here that Leucke could exhibit his proper role.
Shooting a consecutive stream of elementary magic at Rudel, he prepared his own trumpcard. It wasn't as easy as it sounded, and there was a possibility of failure. But even so, Luecke had decided to challenge this match with all his might.
He attacked Rudel with a magic of wind, but the attack was evaded by Rudel's
magic-enhanced stride. Even for Rudel, it was difficult to avoids shots from the magic-specialized Luecke.
Rudel dodged faster than he could speak. But still invoking elementary magic, Luecke continued his stream of attacks. As Rudel avoided it, he tried to close the distance once more.
Just like Luecke, he used elementary magic as a diversion to close in... then stopped. The moment he tried to draw closer, Luecke had finished his preparations. Sensing the danger, Rudel leapt back, and Luecke used a majority of his mana to invoke advanced magic.
Wary of that previous self-damaging move, Rudel had drawn back, but now he felt a sliver of regret. He should've just closed in the distance.
For the students of the fundamental curriculum, advanced magic was much too dangerous... but Luecke's magic activated perfectly. Flames mingled in with a tempest of wind, the ring that made up the contest grounds wrapped in a pillar of flames.
"How about that, Rudel!!"
From an overuse of magic, and the damage he inflicted on himself, Luecke staggered. The hall raised a stir over Luecke's magic and concerns for Rudel's safety. Just as the referee hurriedly stepped in to call an end... the storm of flames split in two and faded away... Atop the ring, Rudel's wooden sword let off a faint light. Rudel had taken a downward swing...
Perhaps he had pushed it, as Rudel's breath was also rough.
"... Impossible. You really are something, Rudel!"
Giving a delighted laugh, Luecke knew he had to answer to his first friend besides Eunius who he could go up against so seriously, firing his magic... but with his advanced magic and consecutive use of elementary spells, he was already running out of mana. Even so, he kept his ground without giving up on the match.
Luecke could see Rudel's approach in slow motion. He recalled the environment he had found himself in from a young age. A harsh education devoid of any existences he had called friends. Even back then, Luecke had loved magic, and he wanted someone to talk about it with. He wanted to talk all about his beloved magic. But even after coming to the university, his status as heir to an archduke name caused those around to take distance.
The lone exception Eunius remained focused on his sword, and their conversations wouldn't match. Even if he talked about his beloved magic, everyone would only affirm him. At the end, he found out they would affirm even if he told a lie. A boring life, day after day.
And yet Luecke had finally found a friend he could talk with. Rudel. Generally, magic went without saying, but he could follow along in conversations besides that, and talking about magic with the Rudel- ever earnest in everything- was fun... though he still couldn't accept that book called How to Pet a Dragon.
While Rudel's intuitive remarks stood out, Luecke would laugh as he went on about the theoretics. From those around, it looked like a foolish talk between men, but it was really a conversation over high-level magics.
And Luecke had challenged Rudel to a serious match. He had considered holding back to save his friend. His first true friend... if possible, he wanted to enjoy his school life alongside him.
But even so... he knew Rudel wouldn't find any delight in such a thing, and he couldn't hold back against his friend. His vision teetered and it became difficult for Luecke to set his focus.
"Rudel, you alone are...!!!"
The magic he wrung out the last of his power to fire would never go off... Rudel's wood sword perfectly touched against the nape of his neck.
"W-winner! Rudel Arses!"
After a while of silence, the referee's voice resounded through the hall. The space filled with the mingled cheers and jeers of all manner of spectators. Hearing that, Rudel put away his wood sword, out of breath. As if finally able to rest, Luecke crumbled at the knees. Rudel lent him a hand to stand.
"Luecke, thank you."
"... It's not like I let you win. I'll be the victor next time... so don't lose until then."
Watching their match from the noble visitor room, the royal family, and their high knight guards... the headmaster was also present.
"That was splendid... that archduke heirs have grown up wonderfully."
Hearing her father's words, Fina was supposed to be delighted.
"Yes. Rudel-dono is strong... Luecke-dono as well."
(The hell are you doing, Luecke!!? You trying to make master lose? Aren't you friends!? Just give it to him!!! And why are there nothing but monsters in master's class's block... someone must have set this up!!!)
... Instead, she was considerably flustered. She sent a glance at the headmaster. In her head, the headmaster was one of the suspects.
"But... headmaster, isn't this time's tournament just a little bit strange?"
(Out with it already! If you try to crush my plan... I won't keep quiet about the fact you twisted up my testimony on the incident!)
The headmaster answered Fina's expressionless glance. By the way, the one who twisted Fina's testimony in the report was not the headmaster.
"Sure enough, there are many of the top contenders in this block. But the academy hasn't done any injustice."
Fina doubted the headmaster's words. The rest of the royal family watched the next match in disinterest... as truth would have it, this tournament's ordering had been decided by lots drawn by class representatives. No one had done any dishonesty.
The headmaster looked at Rudel returning to the waiting room at the start of the next match as he thought.
(No matter how many times we redid it, all the strong foes ended up in this block. Even after redoing the drawing five separate times... that child's path is a harsh one.)
Resisting the urge to let out a sigh, he explained the next match to the royal family. And listening to that explanation, the king looked at the daughter, the start of these events... from an early age, she wouldn't show expression on her face... no, perhaps she couldn't. And this was his daughter's first selfish request.
To save the person she owed her life to... after some investigation, he learned that the reports regarding Rudel had been overwritten to an abnormal extent, and he had even considered reexamining his verdict. But the Arses House in question wished for punishment unto the individual, and even if they were royalty, there was a limit to how far they could stick their mouths into the circumstances of an archduke house.
For that sake, he had made this visit alongside the tournament. Even if he didn't come out on top, he would award him some sort of reward for his effort... and saying that, he would see him off to a proper graduation, or so he had thought, but...
(I got to see something surprisingly interesting. Rudel and Luecke... and Eunius. What interesting children.)
In this visit, he had discovered a separate something outside his daughter's request. He wished he had a son of that caliber... could it be those three had become friends? Had they supported each other to this point? Would they hold each other up henceforth? King Albach thought.
The King of Courtois, Alabach Courtois, was even more of a side character than Rudel in-game. He was treated in a manner where you could almost call him a mob character. His name came out a few times, his face flashed across the screen only once in the war event... as the surrounding female members had much more of a role than needed, the king never said a single word.
As such a character, the king didn't have any detailed setting to back him. When even the queen had a hidden romance event... if you thought of it like that, perhaps he was quite the pitiful king indeed.