| Izumi and Basyle raced over to the collapsed Rudel. With teary eyes, they confirmed his safety. The referee declared Aleist the winner. But Rudel was still trying to stand.
"Not yet, I haven't lost yet. I can still stand!"
"Rudel... that's enough. Didn't you say you wouldn't have any regrets even if you lost!?"
"I don't want to leave regret! That's why I... can still..."
Looking over their exchange, Aleist smiled. It was almost time for Izumi's event. Here, Rudel would order Izumi to cut at him... at Aleist. He would threaten her with her house's standing
(And there, I say... What about your house!? Just do what you believe in! I say it to her. It's the start of the event to release Izumi, who was ordered by her house to approach Rudel!!)
But Izumi wouldn't part from Rudel, and Rudel wouldn't give out the order. Even more than that...
"You're being unsightly, Rudel-sama. You lost... any more would be a disgrace."
"... I... see... a disgrace... sure enough. It would be an insult to my foe... I admit... my defeat..."
Aleist couldn't swallow down the situation. But Rudel gave a light smile before losing consciousness. The relief squad carried him off... and Izumi's event never happened.
The first year division of the class tournament ended with an overall victory for Aleist's class. Eunius' and Luecke's classes met in the semi-finals... it was a draw, or rather, it was declared impossible for anyone to continue. Both sides did a good job holding out that long...
Rudel's injuries took two weeks for a complete recovery... he was carried straight to the infirmary, and spent his time nursed to health by Izumi and Basyle... burn in hell!
By his discharge, Rudel's second year of fundamental education had begun.
"Chlust? Yes, he's my brother... something about him?"
In the second year of the standard curriculum, classes weren't shuffled up. From the third year onwards, it was nothing but chosen electives, so classes themselves didn't exist. So naturally, Izumi was still in Rudel's class.
"No... how should I put it, you give off a different atmosphere. Just like those around you say you're surprisingly decent, I've heard some voices that your little brother's quite nobleish."
Quite nobleish, the phrase contained some irony. But Rudel knew where she was coming from. His brother was loved and treasured by his parents. So Chlust had become a noble quite close to his parents... naturally, that would be a bad noble.
"So I'm not nobleish? That's all well and good, but is my brother that famous..."
"His grades are excellent, and his status is second highest in this year's entering class... but the first would have to be the second princess."
Rudel didn't know much about the second princess Fina. It was largely due to the fact he hadn't gone out into high society, but more than that, he just wasn't interested.
"What sort of kid is she?"
"... That's a hard one. If you want to call her cute, she's cute, and if you want to say she's beautiful, then she is... it seems your little brother's obsessed with Fina-sama. She's got blond hair and blue eyes, the standard Courtoisian set, and as I recall... they call her the 'doll princess'."
Right, unlike Rudel, Chlust had made his social debut. So fitting with the house's status, he had some exchanges with the princess. More importantly, was 'doll princess'... supposed to be a compliment? That was the part that caught Rudel's interest.
"Chlust does have a chance... but I think it'll be difficult."
Rudel didn't think Chlust would be married to that second princess. A declining house, and the precious princess... what's more, with Chlust being the second son, it was even more unthinkable. No matter how talented Chlust was, it would probably be impossible unless he succeeded the Arses House...
"So you're uninterested? I'm glad you're the same as always. So what's your goal going to be this year, Rudel?"
Izumi's spirits rose a bit as she asked Rudel's goal for the new semester. Rudel's end goal wasn't changing, so...
"I want to build up combat experience, and as I said in last time's event, we'll be the first to reach the goal. Also... I want to fight some strong people at the tournament, perhaps?"
After losing to Aleist, Rudel had done some thought on his own fighting style. He had considered learning Aleist's magic sword, but... rather than whether it was possible or not, he thought over whether it was suitable for him, and gave up.
A dragoon's main role was to compensate for the blind spots of a high-firepower flying tank called a dragon. Meaning protecting its back. It was written in a book that Magic Sword wasn't suitable for dragoons. The reason being rather than swinging around a sword on its back, focusing on consecutive mid and long-range attacks was more important.
"Is that all? You'll make all the women around you sad."
Izumi impishly poked him with her elbow. Rudel had high grades, and he came from one of the Three Lord houses... there was no way he wasn't popular.
"That is an exceedingly difficult problem. I've considered dating multiple women like my father before me..."
Izumi's eyes turned even more serious than usual, the ends of her words increasing in intensity. Even Rudel could see she was angry.
"I determined it was impossible. I don't have any time, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do... and having multiple at once is unthinkable."
"R-right... while it's a bit strange, if it's you, I don't think there'll be any issu... wait! Like hell! Don't you have anything to say about feelings? Whether you like them or not?"
Rudel did have his likes and dislikes. But...
"With my status, I don't have the freedom to decide based on like and dislike. It's normal for me to be married to whatever partner my parents decide, and if I do have someone I love, then I'll have to make them a mistress... that isn't a position praised very highly."
Would you really make your loved one a social outcast? Is what he meant. The country of Courtois was prejudice against women with the positions of lover or mistress. So not being with your loved one was generally how it worked for Courtois' nobles.
"That's right... I'm sorry."
"You don't have to mind it. As long as I love the partner my parents choose, there won't be a problem... if that's possible, that is."
In a joking tone, Rudel explained to Izumi. Yet be that as it may, while Rudel did have interest in the female body, he had no memory of ever falling in love. Rather... he had simply never loved.
It was something extremely unnatural, and it felt somewhat contrived.
Ever since he came to the academy, Chlust was troubled by his brother Rudel. As the brother of Rudel who displayed such problematic behavior, the teachers were wary of him. On top of that, there was the matter of his grades... Rudel was even more proficient than him in every field. But his rankings on the practical events were never high.
By those with bad mouths, this would imply he, 'Bought his grades with money'. Chlust himself did believe that rumor, and he convinced himself he was irrelevant to his brother. But if the big brother did it, and you tried to insist the little brother did not... it was only human to think the younger brother had bought his grades as well.
Because of that, Chlust got around to thinking he wasn't receiving a proper evaluation. He came to hate his brother even more than when he was in the house... and that would become yet another problem for Rudel.
Because that attitude around Chlust would only add to Rudel's terrible reputation. Just as he had been taught in his life at the Arses House, Chlust looked down on commoners and demi-humans. Ever since he came to hate Rudel, that mindset had only grown stronger.
Alongside those drawn to him by his status, he began running wild around the academy.
'And originally, that was precisely what Rudel was supposed to do.'
In his second year, if Rudel hadn't aspired to be a dragoon, he would be the worst of men. Not going to class, he would trouble all those around him. There were always women in his room through his money... he would take along the ill-natured students and run rampant through the academy.
What's more, upon losing to the protagonist in the tournament, he ordered Izumi to cut down the protagonist in retaliation, and her refusal became a spark... he was trash. And he was the trigger for many an event.
The 'Doll Princess' Fina challenged him on his behavior... in a frenzy, he ended up laying hands on her. As a result, Rudel was treated as a tumor of the academy, he was transferred from the five year track to the two year track, and he quietly left the school.
For the sake of face, he was granted knight qualifications, for argument's sake. After a long absence, his next appearance would come in the war arc, and that was all there was to the character called Rudel.