A Den of Weirdos

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An old man, who claimed to be the dean of the academy, was giving the opening speech on the stage.

The long, thin object standing in front of the dean seemed to be a magic tool that was developed in the academic tower, and it carried his voice to every corner of the spacious auditorium.

The dean was the person who came to the mansion to explain the admission process.
Today’s speech too was incredibly long, and Sheila couldn’t understand the gist of it.
Immediately after the speech started, she was distracted.

There were many students in the large auditorium.
The number of students, including those in the civil administration course, was probably around 500.
Junior students were lined up in the second row, and the freshmen were in the front row.
The students were full of hope and dazzling in the way they listened earnestly without slacking off like Sheila.

“Now, I would like to invite His Royal Highness, the Second Prince, Wilfrecht von Steitz to give a speech as the student’s representative.”

When the voice echoed through the magic tool, thunderous applause broke out.
Sheila joined in and clapped her hands.
She was genuinely interested in this person, His Royal Highness, the prince of this country.

“Thank you for the introduction, I am Wilfrecht von Steitz.
It is a great honor for me to be appointed as your representative.”

His clear and beautiful voice was even refreshing.
The atmosphere around the area, which had been dulled by the greeting from the dean, was stirred up.
But…

‘Too far away.’

Sheila was completely disappointed.

The auditorium was too large and too far away.
The only thing she could tell was that he had luxurious, shiny blond hair, but she couldn’t make out his face or the color of his eyes.

“…..Well, he must be a great guy.
He’s even been asked to give the student’s representative speech.”

“I don’t know about that.”

It was supposed to be a monologue, but a subdued voice answered.
Sheila looked around, blinking her eyes.
A sandy-haired boy standing diagonally behind her looked at her with a meaningful smile.
His hazel eyes were shining with curiosity.

“You’re that guy, right? The redhead who’s rumored to have fought with the Centrix’s successor.”

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Outrageous words came out of his mouth, and Sheila hurriedly denied them.

“We didn’t fight.
We just had a normal conversation.”

“Talking to an aristocrat in a normal way, that’s what I call fighting with him.
The whole school is talking about you right now.”

Regardless of the matter, his way of speaking with a dialect was familiar to her.
For the first time in a long time, Sheila felt as if she could relax her shoulders.

“Are you, by any chance, a scholarship student?”

“Yes.
Nice to meet you, fellow commoner.
I’m Zechs Gallant, the fourth son of a small merchant family.”

“Nice to meet you.
I’m Sheila Danau.”

He was so friendly that she was about to shake hands with him, but Cody, who was standing next to her, interrupted them.

“Hey, you two.
It’s disrespectful to chat while His Highness is talking.”

“Oh, sorry.”

Sheila hurriedly covered her mouth.
Zechs, too, looked embarrassed and scratched his short-cropped, dry hair.
Our eyes met and we both chuckled.

After listening to His Highness’ words quietly for a while, it was time for the teachers to greet the students.
Since the main purpose of this was to introduce the subjects they were in charge of, each person’s greeting proceeded with a brief one-liner.

Sheila resumed the conversation in a whisper.

“….
Speaking of which, what made you say ‘I don’t know about that’ earlier?”

Instantly, Cody gave her a stern look, but the insinuating dialogue had been bothering her for a while.

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Zechs nodded, “Oh, that.”

“The student representative speech was traditionally given by the top student of the highest grade.
But ever since His Highness entered the school, it seems to be like this every year.”

It seemed that it wasn’t possible for a student who wasn’t in the highest grade to give a greeting.
Even though the school claimed to abolish the status system within the academy, it seemed that social status was still a thing.

‘I envy you, you can easily make a customary thing disappear.
If I had the power, I wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of pretending to be a boy.’

Maybe there wouldn’t have been dormitories, restrooms, and bathrooms that were only for boys.

Next to Sheila, who was absentminded, Cody and Zechs were arguing.

“Zechs, you’re really disrespectful.
Even you don’t have the kind of grades you’re talking about.”

“I admit that he’s good, but he’s not the top student in the fifth grade.”

At Zechs’ rebuttal, Sheila suddenly wondered.

“Who is the top student in the fifth grade who’s better than His Highness?”

Zechs smiled wickedly at Sheila.

“Well, you’ve had an unforgettable encounter today with him, didn’t you?”

“Urm….”

There was only a limited number of people Sheila had conversed with today.
Cody was a classmate, so he wasn’t it, and Jorn Werner was a teacher.
The only other person she could think of was that stiff-looking dark-haired aristocrat.

“That’s why I said don’t pick a fight with him….”

It was an incident that she would like both Leidyrune himself and the students who were watching around her to forget.
Even if Sheila herself thought it was a trivial matter, it was a headache because those around her didn’t recognize it as such.

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Once the opening ceremony was over, she would be free because she didn’t have classes today.
There were chores that needed to be done, such as cleaning the room at the dormitory, but first, she wanted to be alone and relaxed.

She thought back to the day’s chaotic encounters.

She became friends with Cody and spoke to Leidyrune, a duke.
Her gender was discovered by Jorn Werner, who had a dangerous atmosphere, and she befriended Zechs, who was also from a commoner background.

“… Well, despite everything, it’s been a productive day.
We seemed to be doing fine.
I’m relieved that things are going well.”

When she nodded her head as she summed it all up, Cody held his head in disappointment.

“….
Yeah, I didn’t expect you to have any sensibilities at all….”

It seemed that Zechs was taken aback by Cody, who began to mumble and grunt.

Before she knew it, the teachers’ greeting was coming to an end, and it was Jorn Werner’s turn.

“I’m Jorn Werner Alfrey.
I’m in charge of training in magic combat.
The main focus of my research in the academic tower is to develop and improve the performance of magic tools.
We’re always looking for new test subjects for this purpose, so please feel free to contact me.”

The freshmen were buzzing because he said something incomprehensible with a beautiful smile on his face.
The sophomores and above weren’t so surprised, so she guessed that this kind of statement was an everyday occurrence.
It was probably not something that should be said in public, though.

As she looked at the stage dumbfounded, her eyes were drawn to the figure standing next to Jorn Werner.

He was slender, but had a toned physique with supple muscles all over his body.
The silver armor covering his body had a crest of a hawk and a sword on his chest.
His silver hair was almost white, and his eyes were perhaps a brilliant peacock color.
He was too far away, but she could tell that he was frighteningly perfect and beautiful.
If you know, you’ll understand.

“No way….”

A stunned voice escaped from Sheila’s mouth.

The person on the stage quietly opened his mouth.

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“I’m Claushezade Norstein.
I’m in charge of the special knighthood course.
I will give strict guidance, so please be prepared for that.”

His voice was cold and stern.
Even that was just as she remembered it from her childhood.

The knight Sheila had seen when she was a child, protecting Felix.

Claushezade Norstein was the knight of that time, whom she admired so much that she aspired to become one.

The scene of more than ten years ago came back vividly to her mind.

With a single strike of his sword, he cut off the arm of a giant tiger that was thicker than a man’s torso.
After steadily cutting off the opponent’s power, his sharp swordsmanship brilliantly struck the weak point.
His quick movements were like a graceful dance.

Sheila gazed intently at the figure she had longed to see.

He was probably in his late twenties.
This meant that he might’ve just become an adult at that time.
To a child’s eyes, he looked like a proper adult, but in reality, he wasn’t that much older than she was now.
She was deeply moved by this.

As she gazed into his eyes with a single-minded passion, Claushezade added a few words.

“In addition, I will now call out the student who has caused problems prior to the opening ceremony.
――Sheila Danau.
The students who were there reported the incident.
We need to hear the situation from him as well, so please remain here after the ceremony.”

The unprecedented call-out in the middle of the opening ceremony startled the entire student body.
They were exchanging glances and whispering in each other’s ears.
Some of them even pointed at Sheila, who was the target in the middle of the commotion.

Sheila blinked her eyes as if she had just woken up from a dream when she heard her name spun out of Claushezade’s mouth.

Zechs looked back at her with a sympathetic glance.

“….You really are a hot topic, aren’t you?”

Apparently, Sheila’s long day was far from over.

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