“Asley, my boy~~ I’ve been sooo lonely during summer break~~”
“Ah, uh… I… I see…”
“Dinéya, you’re clearly bothering Asley. Get any closer to him and you’ll get a penalty, understood?”
“Boo~~ You can’t just hog Asley all to yourself, Warren Emperor-boy~~”
Dinéya’s charming and sweet-sounding voice assaulted my ears. Her breath blew through my skull and sent chills down my spine.
As seductive as ever.
Warren was seated at the very back of the Student Council Office, in between two rows of seats. The row on the right-hand side from the room’s entrance was reserved for White Faction members.
The seat closest to Warren’s belonged to Vice President Jeanne. She was responsible for supervising the Friendly Matches of all school years and was now out in the courtyard for work.
Accountant Dinéya and myself, the Clerk, were seated in the office. Lastly, the Black Faction seats opposite to ours, belonging to Public Morals Enforcer Dandeau and General Affairs Manager Luna, were empty.
Dandeau would be out to patrol the University grounds for most of the work time, as was the case now, and Luna was also constantly on the move, busy with routine duties. That was why Warren, Dinéya and myself were the only ones currently in the office.
My task, for now, was to compile some reports and pass them over to Warren.
He and I were busy, but it seemed that Dinéya had quite a bit of free time on her hands.
As the Accountant, she would most likely be busy after the Friendly Matches ended, then she would process the numbers concerning the event.
“…Now then, we have two days to go till the Black Faction’s four-way match. Asley, I’d like to hear your opinions on the four participants, since you’re a Freshman just like them.”
Warren, with his hands seemingly free now, threw bombs into my occupied hands.
“…Do I not look busy enough for you?”
“Please, you don’t need your hands, ears and mouth to work together on each task. Learning to multitask will surely do you good. Let’s start with Hornel.”
Warren was clearly messing with me.
I see, so this is what they call power harassment… You know that I don’t forget these things easily, right, boy?
“…He’s what you’d expect from the top of the class. Perfect at all basic-level spells. And looks like he’s already trying his hand at intermediate-level ones?”
“Ohh, at this time of year no less… That does sound pretty good.”
Still, I don’t think it’s quite as impressive as Warren’s record back in his freshman days, even if he said otherwise.
Warren himself didn’t seem all that surprised, and Dinéya only expressed mild interest.
Warren the Black Emperor, the closest candidate for the new Six Archmages… yeah, right. Let’s see what he’s got.
- NAME: WARREN
- TITLES: Advanced Mage, Top Student, Student Council President, The Black Emperor, Six Archmages Candidate, Rank B, The Investigator, The Charismatic
- LV: 77
- HP: 1,488
- MP: 2,561
- EXP: 1,541,806
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Attack Magic (Advanced)
- Support Magic (Advanced)
- Recovery Magic (Advanced)
…I shouldn’t have looked.
His rank was lower than I expected, but that was probably because he was busy with work as the Student Council President and didn’t get much time to go outside.
But the rest of his statistics were master-class, High-end for his level and perfectly balanced.
As for mine, in comparison…
- NAME: ASLEY
- TITLES: The Fool, The Polarizing, Hermit Candidate, Mage, Alchemist, Staff Wielder, Six Archmages (Tentative), Teacher, Rank A, Top Student, Papa, No Guts, SS Slayer
- LV: 64
- HP: 1,182
- MP: 17,093
- EXP: 448,690
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Attack Magic (Skilled)
- Support Magic (Advanced)
- Recover Magic (Advanced)
- Purification (Advanced)
…At least I wasn’t completely outmatched, I suppose.
But why am I still a normal mage when Warren is already an Advanced Mage?
Are there any specific requirements I have to clear?
As I expected, No Guts was pulling me down, but SS Slayer seemed to be cancelling it out.
That was basically my statistics — positive and negative titles clashing with each other. I have to erase those negative titles using any means I have. In the end, I suppose agreeing to work here was indeed a mistake.
Not that I had any other choice though since they are holding Lina’s student status as hostage.
“Now, let’s move on to Midors. What do you think of him?”
“Hmm, he’s particularly good at attack magic, so he should be on the intermediate level now, more or less. Still, he has been neglecting other branches, so his balance still falls behind Hornel… And if I may add something biased, he can be quite troublesome at times?”
“I suppose there’s no immediate countermeasure for that. Alright, what about Idéa?”
“She’s balanced like Hornel, but seems to be a step behind always. Still, her staff martial art form is quite impressive. She could very well win against her opponents by outmaneuvering them.”
“Oh-ho, nice observation.”
The trio’s activities attracted quite a lot of attention, so it may have been harder not to notice them.
“Last but not least… Lina. She was your apprentice… wasn’t she, Asley?”
“She was, yes.”
“I’ve heard that she hasn’t been under your guidance recently?”
“Apparently she wants to fight me at the Friendly Match, so we’ve put that on hold until it’s over.”
“Mh-hm… and what do you think? I haven’t heard much about her in terms of remarkable exploits…”
“Well… I wouldn’t know about that, would I?”
In a rare gesture, Warren looked troubled upon hearing my reply.
“…Are you suggesting that you can’t grasp the extent of your apprentice’s power?”
“Ah, looks like she just got promoted to a C-ranked adventurer? And she’s particularly good at recovery magic, so she might be able to shrug off lower-level attacks like they’re nothing.”
“Oh-ho, so that’s how strong she is…”
“Moreover… she briefly trained as a sword fighter in the past. She could have been the top Freshman candidate if she hadn’t opted out of the representative role too.”
“Ah, that’s right, now that you remind me. I see, I see… You speak highly of her, Asley…”
I felt that he was being creepy again. It was faint, but he was definitely grinning.
What scheme could he be cooking up this time?
The next day, information regarding the tournament was posted on the University’s bulletin board.
“…Aha, so this is what he was thinking when he made that creepy grin.”
“What are you talking about, Master?”
“Lina versus Hornel, Lina versus Midors, Lina versus Idéa. In other words… if one of them wins against Lina, they’ll be representing the Black Faction for our year.”
The matching oozed the Council President’s detestable personality.
“And if two fighters are still active when Lina is eliminated, those two will have to fight each other to decide the match. Is that right, sir?”
I nodded on Pochi’s follow-up, then turned to Lina, who was also looking at the bulletin.
She looked uneasy, but not extremely so. I could feel the strength of her resolve in her eyes.
“I know President Warren has the rights to decide the tournament’s organization, but this is just too blatant… The trio might be taking a few blows on their ego.”
“But what now, sir? Do you think Lina can win against those three?”
“I’m sure she can handle Midors and Idéa, but…”
“Something else worrying you, sir?”
“Consecutive battles will use up a lot of mana… Chances are that she’ll just barely make it. And she wouldn’t want my support… so she’s on her own this time. All we can do is cheer her on.”
“That’s true, sir…”
Pochi and I kept on talking and didn’t even notice when Lina approached us. Looks like she wants to say something.
I gotta say something to her, too…
“It’s your time to shine, Lina!”
“…Please watch closely — I’ll show you what I can do!”
It was subtle, but I could feel that she was filled with determination and zeal. She was the one to get me out of a predicament instead, since I didn’t know what to say.
All I want now is for her to do her best.
“Ohh, you look confident! Give your best out there!”
Pochi said, as if to reiterate what I had intended to say.
Hornel, Midors and Idéa stood a little farther away from us, looking quite offended. I know Idéa and Lina were friends now, but she was surely surprised by how this turned out.
The trio shot their glares at Lina and Lina faced them head-on. This girl sure has grown strong.
And those guys were quite open with expressing their hostility… or rather, their fighting spirit.
Now … I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
And so came the day of the tournament that would decide the Black Faction’s freshman representative for the Friendly Match.
Today, Lina was set to fight Idéa, Midors and Hornel in succession.
The Maginasium was brimming with freshman spectators, the faculty and the Student Council staff.
Idéa was already in the center of the Maginasium with her staff ready. Indeed, it was the very same spot where I had fought the trio.
Lina arrived slightly later, and Pochi approached her. A commotion promptly broke out among the spectators upon the sight of Lina’s new look.
“Hey, is she for real…?”
“Is she messing around?”
“This is a sacred event, you know!”
I was hearing those grumblings all around me.
And as Pochi ran to Lina’s side, I could hear the doggo’s yelpings of delight from all the way up here. After all, the only ones here familiar with the look Lina had now were Pochi and me.
A sword was holstered on her waist. Donning no robe like she usually would, she now had the look of a warrior.
Ryan as her teacher, Reid and Mana as those who showed her the ropes, she was now the Apprentice Sword Fighter Lina.
She walked up to where Idéa was waiting, and Pochi sent her off and then returned to my seat.
“Master, now this is starting to get interesting!”
“It’s a loadout that would confuse the thick-headed bunch, but mages were indeed trained in classic forms of martial arts back in the old days. Really, she’s a better apprentice than I could ever ask for.”
“She sure is, sir!”
C’mon, would it hurt to deny my statements when I want you to?
“Ah, it’s getting started!”