| As the school entered its first term, Sakuya had lost her vigor like an empty husk. Worried, Rudel and the others tried to look after her, but after a while, she showed her energy again.
But for those around, it was a painfully empty show. She did endeavor through her training to become a dragoon, but Sakuya was too anxious to get anywhere with it. Alongside her fear of death, she was saddened by the notion she would be forgotten forever. While she basked in her sadness, she came to notice her own feelings...
Pulling out Rudel's sword, Sakuya struck up a conversation with the two again. This time, she requested to borrow their power. As the boar let out an incomprehensive voice, she gave a cheery response.
"That's right! I'm going to disappear just like that, right? In that case, I have to repay my debt to everyone."
At the request of a slightly withered girl, the two who had one forsaken her decided to undertake. The bird thought it would put her mind at ease, and gave a simple query.
'So what do you want us to do?'
When the weather was nice, it was possible to eat one's lunch in the courtyard visible from the school cafeteria. There around noon, Sakuya spoke with Luecke, surrounded by young nobles. She was normally with Rudel, so it wasn't a problem, but his followers didn't seem to approve of Sakuya alone talking to him so easily.
Even if the nobles were mindful of her, Sakuya conveyed her business. After she had done that, Luecke finished up his meal and sipped his drink, responding without the slightest change of expression.
"Is there anything I want you to do for me? The answer is no."
Luecke's head was hurting at this peculiar request. When he thought she had regained her vigor, she suddenly came out with such a thing. Thinking it was Rudel's influence, he looked at Sakuya, who had taken on a posture as if she were praying as she awaited his response.
"Come back later. I don't have any particular requests. No, wait, I borrowed Rudel's report. Just return it to him, and that's that."
What was handed over was Rudel's report on magic, and a paper that detailed Luecke's thoughts on it. As it wasn't the sort of request she was hoping for, Sakuya's face turned sour.
Luecke looked at her dissatisfied face and gave his stern opinion.
"If you want a more decent request, you'll need to earn your opponent's trust."
Recalling her usual conduct, Sakuya's shoulders fell as she tried to make off with the report. But Luecke called her back and handed over his lunch desert. In a small ceramic cup lay a cake covered in cream.
"Your wages. It isn't a bad reward for the job."
Seeing the exchange of the two, Luecke's followers felt a kindness they had never seen before in his actions. As he usually ate with Rudel, his followers who only ate lunch with him on occasion were shocked beyond belief.
"... Thank... you."
Realizing she wasn't used to saying the words, Sakuya grew ashamed of herself as she left the area.
After handing the report to Rudel, she next headed to Eunius as he shed his sweat on the training grounds. The students who let their sweat flow, rather than refreshing, it was sweltering. Perhaps because a majority of those on the training grounds were men.
"Any requests? None."
Attaching a weight to his sword and swinging it around, Eunius was training himself up for his confrontation with Rudel in the second semester. Without even looking at Sakuya's face, he concentrated on the swing of his sword.
"Anything will do!"
As Sakuya pleaded in a loud voice, Eunius sighed and decided to take a break. Sitting on a bench, he used the towel and drink his followers had prepared to rest.
"I really don't have... ah, there's one thing you could do!"
"Oh, what's that!!?"
Eunius was hit by inspiration, and Sakuya's eyes sparkled as she bit on. She bit on... but Euinus' request was quite the iffy one.
"There's a girl I'm gunning for in one of the shops I frequent, and I'd like to know her preferences. Normally, I'd be able to research, but she's the silent type, see... I was just mulling over what to do, so could you look into it?"
As Eunius delightfully spoke of the shop's location and the woman's characteristics, Sakuya was mildly taken aback.
"Y-yes... very well."
Thinking she could try asking the bird, Sakuya was about to walk off, when Eunius tossed over the sack of baked sweets his followers had brought over.
"Don't eat too much.
After seeing her off with a smile, Eunius restarted his practice swings. Sakuya gripped the sack in her hands and lowered her head.
Eunius thought he felt sarcasm in Sakuya's thanks, and let them slide.
Sending the bird out to investigate, Sakuya held a strategy meeting with the boar. When the bird who manifested in his small body was told to look into the woman Eunius had his eyes on, he spilled some complaints as he flew off... none of the requests were what she had expected, and Sakuya was worried.
"These are just errands, right? I don't want to sound picky, but aren't there any better requests out there..."
'You sure are a picky one. Well, if they're asked so suddenly, then anyone would be troubled.'
"Then what am I supposed to do!? I don't want to meet my end as someone who just ran errands!"
'You should blame your normal conduct.'
She glared at the cold boar, but soon fell onto the bed as she thought over what came next.
"Next is... maybe that guy... but that guy's..."
The one Sakuya shied from was Aleist, who was on his way to becoming her natural enemy. Continually calling her flan and making fun of her, Aleist was irritating. But the one who appeared to her when she was lonely was also Aleist. She thought back to when she was a goddess, always waiting for humans in that desolate temple.
As she recalled that, she concluded she hated him but she had to go anyways, leaving the bed to search for Aleist.
"Hah? There's no way I have any requests for you. My problems aren't the sort of things you would be able to solve."
Evening had come, and before Aleist- who sat on a bench with a tired look on his face- Sakuya clenched her fist and glared. He was that sort of guy. But she remembered him coming when she was alone.
"T-then I could at least hear you out. They say talking takes a weight off your chest."
"It's something quite important to me, but... well, whatever. The truth is, ever since that party, Millia's come to hate me. Even if I try to approach her, she avoids me, so I can't clear up the misunderstanding."
A little fed-up within, Sakuya's motivation flared as she finally heard what seemed to be request-like enough. But it was a fact that Aleist was often approached by five different underclassmen. Looked at from the side, he had a harem. Sakuya got the feeling it wasn't completely a misunderstanding.
"Leave it to me! I just have to make a chance for you to apologize to Millia, right!"
Sakuya happily sprinted off, meeting up with the bird who had finished investigating Eunius request and bringing the boar out to find Millia.
The campus was growing dark, so she hurriedly sought her out. It was there that the bird spotted her leaving the library, swiftly taking action to secure her. Putting Millia on the boar's back, they all hurriedly raced to deliver her to Aleist.
"W-what's going onnn!! I can't move my body, and a strange boar came out!"
The bird had paralyzed her body with his eyes, and the boar had suddenly appeared to take her off. Millia had valued her usual calm air quite a bit, but with these sudden developments, she could only panic.
Seeing the boar that brought Millia over, Aleist couldn't understand the situation either. But as Sakuya rushed to him, she cried out.
"Now's your chance, Aleist! Correct that misunderstanding!"
Sakuya ran up to Aleist from behind, and with her momentum, she gave him a push. Hurry it up you wimp! Is what she thought as she thrust at him... but she ended up thrusting him towards Millia who had been freed from the bird's eyes and dismounted the boar's back.
As a resulted, it ended up as Aleist pushing Millia down. Having pushed down his crush, the inside of Aleist's head when white with tension and excitement. He forgot his original intent of resolving the misunderstanding, instead confessing in a loud voice.
"M-Millia-san! I like you, I've fallen in love with you! Please go out with me!!"
"What are you saying, Aleist!? Take a good look around!!"
Pushed down, Millia had only just been released from the magic eyes, and her body's movements were still dull. She couldn't run away from Aleist, but she could still look around and understand the situation. When evening came at the academy, the sidewalks would crowd up. Just as Millia had left the library, there were many students who would return to their dorms.
And what would happen if one did something so conspicuous when so many people were around...
A crowd of onlookers had amassed to observe the two.
"E-eeeeeeh!!? Wait, this is... Oy, Flan Head!"
Sakuya had no idea what to do, and the bird and boar had already dispersed. Standing stock still, Sakuya burst into tears. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, she thought, as she cried in apology.
"That's fine and all! But what are you going to do about this situa... Eek!!"
Before the confused forms of Aleist and Millia came Izumi as if to protect Sakuya. She was on her way back to the dorm when she noticed the ruckus. Peering in, she had found Sakuya apologizing in tears. Incidentally, Aleist had pushed Millia down... while it was a situation where it was troubling to make any conclusions, she couldn't just leave a crying Sakuya behind, so she came out.
Be that as it may, she did have a few things she wanted to say to Aleist, who pushed down a woman in the twilight and made another one cry. The look in her eyes grew sharp, and as Aleist was looked down upon, the setting sun made him feel fear at Izumi's face.
"I don't understand the situation, but first off, why don't you two stand up?"
There were first years among the onlookers, and they had witnessed firsthand the fear that Aleist- one of the academy's strongest- felt towards Izumi.
Beckoned to Izumi's room, Sakuya sipped a warm drink as she explained what had happened. As she explained things starting from Luecke and ending in Aleist, Izumi gave a wry smile.
"Being helpful to someone is important. But you see, is there really any need for you to hurry?"
Izumi's admonishing words stuck deeply into her heart. Sakuya wouldn't say anything about her own situation. She didn't want to worry anyone.
"B-but I want to be useful too, and I want to repay everyone's kindness..."
The voice Sakuya wrung out left Izumi troubled. She hadn't been energetic as of late, and once she regained her energy, she suddenly said she wanted to be useful. Yet even as she said that, Sakuya looked terribly frail. Izumi decided to play along.
"Then will you hear out my request?"
Seeing Sakuya's delight, Izumi also felt happy. But Izumi didn't have a particular request for Sakuya either. From what she had heard, something on the level of errands wouldn't satisfy the girl, and as she'd only just started to feel better, Izumi didn't want her to push herself.
She recalled the explanation Rudel gave when they had first met. She was a former goddess and one who decided occupation... it's not as if Izumi believed it, but the one in question proclaimed to be a goddess with a straight face.
"My dream is to become a high knight. It would make me really happy if you could put a good luck charm on me."
Even if she was told to give a good luck charm, Sakuya didn't know what to do. But it was Izumi's request. She didn't have any power left as a goddess, but she tried her best to pray and grant her wishes.
Standing before Izumi, not in her usual manner of speech, she used the words she used as a goddess.
"I am she who doth leads; I am she who shall show thee thy path. She hath heard out thine request. Thou shalt stand above knights, and become the protector of this fair country..."
Izumi thought she looked almost like a real goddess as she gave Sakuya her thanks.
"Thank you, Sakuya. With this, I can have some peace of mind. I've gotten a goddess' certification, after all."
"... No, I'm the one who should say thanks."
Delighted, on the verge of tears, Sakuya clung onto Izumi. She didn't want her to see her teary face.
When the first term was just about half-way through, Sakuya had managed to hear out a majority of the requests of her acquaintances at school. They were mostly errands, and it was more often than not that she received candy, but even so, she successfully accomplished it.
Only Fina's turn had troubled her, but in the end, she was recognized as a junior disciple, and she was happy they were finally on good terms.
But a problem remained. It was Rudel. The one she was most indebted to, but even if she asked for his request, he would immediately reply he didn't have one. In truth, Sakuya was under Rudel's care, and her position was one where she received more than she gave. Rudel was the sort who would do his own things on his own, and she was unable to be of use.
But Sakuya wanted to repay Rudel's by all means.
At the time, Rudel was looking at a letter from the palace. Alongside a permit to visit the dragon dwellings over the long vacation, it contained appointment documents for the two dragoons who would be accompanying him.
"Who's it from?"
Curious, Sakuya tried asking. Rudel carefully put the papers away in his desk as he explained the situation.
"They gave me something like permission to enter the dragon dwellings. Originally, I wouldn't have needed it, but it's been decided that two dragoons will be accompanying me. They usually wouldn't go along, but my position is one where they can't let me venture out alone. Well, the two of them are acquaintances, so I don't think it'll be a problem."
On Rudel's explanation, Sakuya recalled various things. The undead dragon, and Rudel's special circumstances... Sakuya wanted Rudel to become a dragoon no matter what. Having lost her power, she couldn't be of any use, but she wanted to do something for him.
There, Sakuya realized something she was capable of. While those around would definitely oppose, it was something she could do, no, it was something only she could do...
"So dragoons are coming!? Rudel, I want to go to the dragon dwellings too! No, I'm definitely going with you!!"
"It'll be over break, you know? Though I'll be returning to the house first."
"Take me with you! I'm begging you..."
Losing to a clinging Sakuya, Rudel gave her permission. The dragon dwellings were dangerous, so he thought he'd have her wait at his home. His sister Lena was there, and he held a naïve notion that she would make for a good playmate.
On the contrary, Sakuya had solidified her resolve.