| "I like you, Millia!"
"You're saying that again!!
Wings made of light appeared on Millia's back as she jumped high over the ring and fired off an arrow. As Aleist avoided that arrow laced with magic, it stuck deep into the stone ring.
Normally, that would be dangerous, but on top of avoiding it with ease, Aleist instinctively hit down the next one with his wooden sword. Their abilities were too far apart. What's more, Aleist hadn't even used the black knight's characteristic darkness.
But this match was filled with a different enthusiasm than the one between Rudel and Izumi.
Aleist had been determined to explain away the misunderstanding. But along the way...
"I love you! These feelings aren't a lie!"
"I'm telling you to stop it!!"
Seeing Aleist not stop his confessions even after being rejected and hated, the audience displayed different reactions as they got heated up.
A majority of the men who knew Aleist...
"Drop dead, harem bastard!"
"He's even sinking his poison fangs into Millia-san..."
"A confession in the middle of a match!!"
Aleist's friends prayed that his confession would go well, while Aleist's harem members let off an aura so dark everyone around them drew away.
Those unaffiliated with the academy also looked on Aleist's confession with a smile. But there were some who couldn't smile as well.
"What a coincidence, I feel the same. Who's sister is that supposed to be, senpai?"
"That girl's in for it..."
Standing behind Fina, Sophina, Cattleya and Lilim were directing eyes of envy.
Sophina couldn't forgive the confession itself. The other party was the black knight, promotion assured, and from a Count House. His face was good, and he was a man with everything together. First off, he was the sort of man who would never appear at her marriage interviews.
From Cattleya's point of view, being confessed to be a knight set her maiden heart yearning. It was hard to imagine from her appearance and usual conduct, but she was the purest among these members. Even now, she was waiting for her prince on a white horse.
Last was Lilim, but she had lost her engagement over her own eyes. Since then, she had never dated a man, but her little sister was clearly receiving a confession from a splendid man. Yet she rejected it. Her attitude of continual rejection made it seem to Lilim that she had the leisure.
Turning head from those three, Fina thought...
(Ooh, how scary. How black. Well, it's interesting enough to watch. Even so, Aleist's fallen for an elf... I approve of his will for the fluff, but his timing's off.)
As Fina turned to her family, she saw her father Albach averting his face from the knights letting off a black aura behind her. Her mother seemed irritated, gripping the fan in her hand hard enough for it to let off a sound.
Her older sister Aileen seemed uninterested.
(It seems father fears a woman's scorn. As expected of the chicken who was too scared of mother to get any mistresses! I think mother's irritated that Aleist's confessing before her eyes after she devised all those talks of engagement? My sister... is she uninterested because the other party's an elf? It's fun enough for me!)
While Fina thought over the troubles she had with Rudel, she considered adding some ammendments to her plan of shoving Aileen onto Aleist.
At this rate, even if Aileen and Aleist's engagement was recognized, she might demand the condition of him eliminating his fluffy mistresses.
(I can do something about mother, but the problem's my sister. Even if I alter the plan, the engagement won't be recognized... hah, I hope Fritz loses soon so she can cool her head.)
Seeing how everything her sister did seemed to go well, she determined that she wouldn't be blessed with the good fortune of Fritz losing anytime soon. If losing was enough to cool her off, she would have calmed down after his battle with Rudel.
(But Aleist, eh... that might be surprisingly nice.)
That wasn't a statement as a woman, her thoughts of how to use everything for her ambitions, was Fina's strong point.
(He isn't as popular as master with the fluffies, but the defenders could use him as a backup... ah, my fluffy dreams grow evermore!!)
... Even after thinking so much, her face was expressionless.
"I'm head over heels for you!!"
When her arrows had run out, Millia challenged Aleist to close combat, but CQC had become Aleist's specialty. He avoided Millia's roundhouse kick with the minimum necessary movements.
Blood rushing to her head, Millia's grandiose kick caused her skirt to flutter wildly.
She was wearing something like tights, the sort of thing where it was fine even if her skirt was flipped. She was... but as Aleist's face went bright red, Millia only grew angrier.
Making sure her undergarments couldn't be seen, she grew too agitated to remember she was wearing tights.
"You peeked, you pervert!"
"Y-you're wrong. I'll admit I saw. But you're not wearing..."
As Millia swung her bow to attack Aleist, the arena showed great excitement. As Aleist dodged with a paper-thin margin, it looked like Millia and Aleist were just having a lover's spat.
It looked like Aleist was trying to soothe an angry Millia.
Out of breath, Millia took a large flap of the wings on her back. She tried to attack to decide the match.
Originally, Millia had entered the tournament desiring a rematch with Izumi. Her loss in a class battle of times passed inspired her to apply.
For that sake, she had polished her magic, and polished an elf's special way of movement. But by Aleist's high-level harassment in the form of confessions, the blood was rushing to her head, and she wasn't able to display her usual level of ability.
It was Aleist's strategic victory... Millia was beginning to think.
But as Millia charged, Aleist didn't even try to dodge. More than that, he caught her. And he proclaimed in a loud voice.
"I-I'll definitely make you happy, so please mewwy me!"
Fitting of Aleist, he bit his tongue at the end. In a tournament under the eyes of royalty, Aleist had taken action that would become an academy legend.
Right after, Millia's scream echoed through the arena.Seeing Millia burst into tears, the referee picked an adequate time before professing Aleist's victory. But he didn't have power in the voice, he sounded somewhat reserved.
"Winner: Aleist Hardie... he won the battle, but lost the war."
Aleist held back the urge to implant his fist into the referee's face.
"Huh? So in the end, did the black knight's confession succeed?"
"Hmm, I'm not sure how to look at it... did she call him an idiot to hide her embarrassment, or because she really thinks he's an idiot... she was crying, so perhaps she holds him in surprisingly high esteem?"
Rather than the contents of Aleist and Millia's match, Luecke and Lena discussed their romance. There had been a series of matches where maintaining the barrier was simple, and Vargas could also sit back and watch the match.
"But is this... really alright? This'll come back to bite Aleist, won't it?"
The arena was cheering, but it felt like this was something that would influence Aleist's future course. Vargas let out a sigh as he noticed his superior entranced in conversation with Lena hadn't heard his words at all.
Looking at the ring, they were pulling out the stuck-in arrows and filling in the holes.
The next match weighted down on Vargas' mind. A match between Rudel and Eunius, this would be their first faceoff in the individuals' tournament.
The audience had been watching Aleist and Millia's match as a form of entertainment as they placed their expectations on the match to come. Everyone imagined Rudel and Aleist, the white and black knights facing off in the finals, but from Vargas' point of view, Eunius and his superior smitten with a young girl were monsters as well.
If he had to say, it wouldn't be strange for either to win.
He was about to call out to Luecke to confirm his position. But Luecke's face had already turned serious.
"What are you doing, Vargas! The next match is between Rudel and the muscle idiot! Get to your position at once."
"I know I'm at fault, but this feels unfair..."
Heading for his station, Vargas looked at the two facing one another on the ring.
Eunius leaned his long-sword-styled wooden sword over his shoulder, and Rudel let the wood sword in his hand hang down as they faced one another. As the hall grew rowdy, Eunius opened his mouth.
"Good grief, you've sure kept me waiting."
"I definitely did keep you waiting, but this is a tournament. Even if we both take part, the probability of us clashing isn't too high."
Eunius gave a bitter smile at Rudel's answer, but his expression gradually turned serious. Rudel received that look as he took a stance with his wood sword.
"I really would've preferred the finals. Well, beggars can't be choosers, and this is the first time I've ever been able to fight you at full strength."
Rudel offered a rebuttal to Eunius' thoughts.
"That's wrong. Whether it's the first or last time, I've always fought at full strength."
"... That ain't what I meant."
In their matchup during their second year of the fundamental curriculum, Rudel was in tatters. But now standing before Eunius' eyes, Rudel had his clothes cut up a bit, but he wasn't injured.
They were both in a state where they could give it their all.
When Eunius assumed a stance as well, the referee rung out his voice to declare the start of the match.
The two of them definitely heard the ref's call, but surprisingly, neither side moved. Still in their stances, they stared at one another. Even though the match had started, they wouldn't move.
As the spectators had hoped for an intense clash of blades, this was a bit of a killjoy.
"They're not moving."
Lena kept her face turned towards her brother Rudel as she called over to Luecke. To that point, Luecke had been answering all her questions, but now he was concentrating on the match, and his responses would often be vague.
"Yeah, so they're not."
From Lena's eyes as well, Eunius' abilities were exceedingly high. Rudel had told her it was too early for her to face him, and she was certain he wasn't wrong.
But in her heart, she wished to fight.
(With the current Eunius-san, given five years, I'll be able to catch up... but by that time, my brother and everyone else will have risen even higher. I wish I was born just a little earlier.)
After watching Rudel, Lena got around to thinking she wanted to study at the academy as soon as possible.
If she did, she would be able to make worthy rivals and compete. Lena anxiously looked forward to her enrollment at the academy in two years' time.
The first one to move was Rudel.
Neither side had shown any movement, but when Rudel moved, their swords met at once Rudel's vicious approach had been seen through by Eunius.
On those movements Izumi could keep up with, Eunius had anticipated them and used his wood sword to fend off all Rudel's attacks. Their power was different from the start, and even if Eunius took Rudels' blows, he was able to repel them.
Using his emergency movements again, as Rudel's was blocked by Eunious' sword, he hammed a kick into Eunius' leg. Foreseeing it and jumping back, Eunius was grinning. But that face was too ferocious to call a smile.
"How dangerous. If I took that kick, it would've dulled my movements."
"... I kicked with the intention of breaking it."
On Rudel's serious statement, Eunius felt ecstasy from the bottom of his heart. He was thankful to Rudel, who didn't show the slightest shred of holding back against him.
His movements had grown better since they past fought. He could tell he hadn't neglected to train his swordplay. As Eunius went on the offense, a dazzling light emitted from his wooden sword.
After imitating a magic sword and sublimating it, it had become a magic sword for Eunius alone. On that blades warping movements, Rudel took some distance, trying to bring the fight to a mid-range magic battle.
The numerous magics he fired from his left hand... fire and water, and wind and earth, they were all cut down before they could reach Eunius. Eunius took but a single swing, but as if the magic sword held a will of its own, it moved in a complicated manner.
Its trajectory was hard to predict, and its reach was a problem. When Eunius could predict Rudel's movements, it would be impossible to approach unscathed.
So Rudel manifested the shield of the white knight. They were around the size of a person, he produced a number of those large shields, having them float around him.
Those shields radiating light, without any hesitation, he slammed them into Eunius. With those shields boasting powerful defense coming his way, Eunius leapt into the air to evade them all.
And he lowered his sword towards Rudel who had taken some distance.
The light of his magic sword reached Rudel, who had made it to the edge of the ring. AS Rudel prepared a magic sword of his own, his wooden sword was clad in light.
He instantly blocked, but Eunius' magic sword warped. Reaching just short of Rudel's own sword, the blade slammed into the ring, destroying the ground and sending stones flying at Rudel.
In a single instant where Rudel's attention was taken, Eunius had slipped into his guard. Using the magic of wind to carry out high-speed movements, Rudel evacuated to the opposite side of the ring, but his left shoulder had already tasted blood.
"Was it too shallow? I'll cut it deeper next time."
At the smile Eunius made as he held up his sword, Rudel returned a smile of his own. Eunius was definitely a battle maniac, but Rudel was the same. By fighting strong opponents, he was the type of battle maniac who thought he could move forward.
"I'll have to refrain. It's my turn to cut deep."
The spectators who grew noisy when the match started up were now swallowing their breaths at the high level of the exchange.