| Having become a third year, Rudel had started taking classes of his own selection. But it was here that a problem came out. He was taking classes to become a knight, but young nobles already received a certain extent of education. For that sake, he found himself with more free time than the commoners.
At least in your student days, it's alright to have some fun. The nobles thought so as well... but to Rudel, he wanted to become a dragoon as soon as possible. He had to use the free time he had. And those with the top grades had some leisure in their credits, so he was needlessly bored.
"So you came to discuss with me on your future plans... but are you sure you're alright, Rudel-sama? Using up all your free periods on study and training."
Rudel had gone to discuss with Basyle. Even in the academy, Basyle was one abundant in true battle experience. There was nothing to be lost in talking it over with her! That was Rudel's decision, but... Basyle was wondering whether this was the right time to go do a job.
Job... they consisted of mercenary and guard work, government jobs where she'd sell her own ability for the right fee. Naturally, they were often dangerous, and one wrong step could spell life or death. But the current Rudel could handle most things.
"Do you have any good ideas? If possible, something I can only do now... once I graduate, I'll probably become quite busy..."
As Rudel lost himself in thought, Basyle brought the topic forward. Of course, about a job.
"In that case, would you like a nice jo... no, would you like to experience some battle? Not the sort of defense we did last year, I'll prepare some high difficulty subjugation training."
The inside of Basyle' head was filled with job details and rewards. Oblivious to all of that, Rudel accepted with a smile.
"Can I leave it to you!? You're a lifesaver, Basyle."
... At Rudel's words, she felt just a slight sense of guilt.
Basyle had come to a shop she knew well... the shop she sold a boar tusk a few year prior. After she made an enemy of the information dealers, she had come to rely on the old shopkeeper who had informed her of the danger. Now that she held a position of vassal to the Arses House- a position difficult to meddle with- Basyle could boldly make her way to the shop.
"Do I have a job for you? Last year's guard job was already pushing it... and at this point, you don't even need these jobs, do you?"
The old man carried out his appraisal job as he conversed with Basyle. As he carefully inspected all the items brought in, Basyle looked around at all the goods lining his store.
"It's my employer's request. So will you find me something? I'll pay you some if you accept."
"This isn't a middleman ship, missy. But there is something I want to ask... the truth of last year's incident with the princess. The information isn't going around at all, so the info dealers are starving for it. Thinking there's something ill at work behind it."
Basyle could go in and out of the academy. Rather, she was a live-in worker. Those tidbits of info entered her hands at once. If her employer was completely involved in it, she's even investigate herself.
"It isn't something too interesting... though it did get a bit dicey when the Arses House's succession rights were dragged into the mix. And I guess that's about it? It feels like my employer's younger brother and parents are twisting the truth around. And there's a genius dragoon knight involved, making matters a bit complicated."
Basyle easily divulged the details of the incident... but when it came to Rudel, she vaguely played things off and evaded the subject. Basyle was mindful of her employer's personal information.
"When I thought it was something terrible... I guess that's just reality for you. So who's taking responsibility for it?"
"The Arses House is keeping silent. But I did hear little brother would be forcefully graduated in his second year, and stationed as a knight in the outskirts. I think it's a light punishment for a knight-hopeful who completely abandoned the princess, but... even so, as they're driving a famous noble to the borderland, the Arses House's reputation will be on the fall again."
Basyle didn't actually mind it too much. The reason being, because of Rudel, the Arses House's reputation was rising. Rudel... a future archduke recognized by the king, he had become a topic of discussion among the nobles. Within the intense factional disputes between the Three Lords' political forces, that was just how much a talented heir was valued.
"That idiot son of the Arses House is now a wonder child, eh... Never thought it would be tied in to that. No, I did catch wind of the rumors, to say the least."
"He's already a monster in battle. I'm no match for him..."
Basyle happily spoke on... but inside, she felt a bit lonely. It felt as if a little brother who had relied on her to that point was finally able to stand on his own...
"So is that also why the Dragoon Cattleya was removed from that scramble for promotion? It's become quite a topic that Cattleya- who never raised that big of a problem- was suddenly sent off to the outer reaches."
"That's a surprise. So the information's already spread?"
"Yeah, I'm sure there's some reason Cattleya was sent off to the country's outer reaches. But even so, it's all taking a hectic turn. It seems Gaia's increasing their troops on the border, and the information dealers were making a ruckus over increased monster activity... as things are, being sent to the borderland might make for a surprisingly heavy punishment."
As they carried on that conversation, the shopkeeper finished his work and took a memo of the information he had received from Basyle. He had surely written it to sell to an information dealer... Basyle thought, but paid no particular mind.
"Come back next week for the work, I'll be able to find this and that before then. And I'll tell the dealers the information came from you... just because you're a servant of the Arses House, aren't you being a bit too careless? Nothing good comes from making light of them."
Hearing the shopkeeper's consideration, Basyle was surprised. She definitely was being careless, but... that current information held a decent value. She could've just sold it... seeing Basyle in thought, the shopkeeper spoke.
"I'm not troubled enough to have to take up a side job."
Hearing that, Basyle gave her thanks. At the end, she made sure to buy something before leaving the shop.
Having become a third year, Rudel got around to spending a majority of his time with Luecke and Eunius. It was forcefully decided that he would take territory management, and other courses necessary for an archduke. Taking them meant he would be together with the other eldest sons of the Three Lords.
The three of them put together half as a matter of course, and Izumi who was now away more than not. It happened when the four of them enjoyed a meal at the cafeteria
"You asked that lady to take up a job?"
Eunius ate his large serving of the lunch set as he showed interest in Rudel's story.
"If you're a student, then I get the feeling that endeavoring through your studies will be the safer option."
In contrast to Eunius' reaction, Luecke read a book as he put a damper on Rudel's actions. Sure enough, there were things you could only do as a student in school.
"But now is the only time we have, right? Once we graduate, things will get busy... This is just what Basyle said, but it's a good opportunity to see the world."
Luecke felt some sense to those words, and putting his book down, he opted to hear out the story.
"That woman... is it alright for me to join in as well? If I don't keep a watch on that women, things to take a turn for the worse."
"That's fine, but are your classes alright, Izumi? If you're aiming to be a high knight, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of necessary courses.
"Erk, I-I'll do something about it!"
Looking at Rudel and Izumi, just go out already, Luecke and Eunius thought inside, but didn't put to mouth. As they carried out such a conversation, Eunius finished up his lunch and voiced his own will to join in.
"Then I'm in as well! It's a good opportunity, and it sounds fun!"
"... I'm surprised you can say that with your abysmal academics... well, I have some leisure in my classes, so I wouldn't mind tagging along."
While the four of them spoke, one of the students in the cafeteria raised a sound as he stood from his seat. He sent his gaze towards Rudel's group, but... his eyes were filled with ill intent.
Noticing that, the four looked at the students, around him his peers desperately tried to return him to his seat, telling him to calm down. But the standing student didn't move his gaze an inch.
"What a sight. When we desperately earned money and begged our parents to attend this academy... our high and mighty heir of the Arses House cares more for monster slaying than managing his land? I'm surprised you can do that regardless of all the people pained by your actions. No, perhaps you can do it through your blissful ignorance?"
As he spoke, his thorn-like something towards Rudel grew stronger. The standing boy was of brown hair and blue eyes, without any particular features that stood out. But that being the case, his facial features were in order. From the friends around him desperately trying to contain him, they couldn't think he was a bad person.
"Quit it Fritz! You're picking a fight you can't win. You're dealing with our upperclassmen of the Three Lord Houses!"
As the surrounding voices grew louder, Rudel chose to ignore the boy. It wasn't as if he didn't like him, or wasn't interested in him. The boy spoke the truth, and Rudel understood it was a problem. Rudel was aware he'd be hearing these things someday.
But it's precisely because he was aware, that he thought saying something to someone like this boy wouldn't get anything across. If he said he's become an archduke to save them, that held no credibility. If he turned defiant, even more so. And... Rudel's dream lay on a path in the polar opposite direction of the boy's words.
"Why not say something!? Don't you feel sorry for the people suffering because of you!!!?"
To the yelling boy, Luecke and Eunius stood and moved to say something back, but Rudel stopped them. Izumi tugged at Rudel's clothes, evidently worried he might cause a problem.
Whispering to Izumi it wouldn't be a problem, Rudel stood and looked at the boy. From his appearance, he could tell he wasn't a noble but a commoner. Surely his parents had gone to great pains to send him to this academy. Perhaps he was even a citizen of Arses territory.
In that case, I just have to become the bad guy. If the boy has someone to hate, I'm sure he'll try even harder, aim even higher... or so Rudel thought.
"I'm sorry... if I said that, would you forgive me? If your yelling will resolve the problem, then yell at me all you want, shout all you want. Once the fundamental curriculum ends, the third to fifth years have an individual entry tournament. If you can make it that far, I'll at least hear you out."
Saying that, Rudel left the cafeteria. Luecke and the others followed behind... and a little ways away, Aleist entered the cafeteria with his friend, but...
"W-what's with this heavy air!?"
That indescribable air enveloping the cafeteria left them both in surprise.