12 The Blazing Man 1
One year and two months had passed since the entrance ceremony.
Without anything worth noting occurring Adel enjoyed her average school life. The majority of her classmates kept their position in class A with only a few trading places with students from other classes.
Since her birthday was near the beginning of the school year, Adel had already reached the age of twelve.
The fruits of her part time labour throughout the last year had amounted to 144 silver coins. Half of that had entered her Item box as savings. This much wouldn't have accumulated if Marcella hadn't gifted her many sets of underwear. Pumpkin pants are quite expensive.
The underwear Marcella had given her a year ago had also included a bra, but sadly that didn't have an opportunity to shine yet, resting in her Item box along her dirtied clothes and the silver coins.
No! They had grown a little bit! A tiny little bit…
In the theoretical classes, she was at the top of her class. She covered for her lack of technique with power and agility, consolidating her position as a powerhouse in martial arts class. Her rating in practical magic classes was that she was on an average level for a magician. The small and feeble fireball she had wordlessly conjured at the entrance ceremony was thought to be the result of focusing all of her prior training on only that spell.
That was the general opinion on Adel's academic abilities.
On the other hand, spring had come for Marcella after she awakened her magic powers as her stock on the marriage market soared upwards. Her family had sent her several letters along the lines of "Don't be hasty!" or "Don't you go socialize with some poor noble's son!" after they had heard that she was capable of combat magic. But there was no engagement in sight since they wanted to marry her off as high as possible in the social ladder while Marcella refused to tie the knot with a man she didn't like.
「And all of this is entirely thanks to you. I wouldn't have dreamed that one day I would have the right to decide on my fiancée.」
「It was nothing great, rather I need to be grateful that you took on the brunt of the boys' attacks.」
Marcella and Adel smiled happily at each other.
Apparently, Monika had also received an abundance of offers from young skilled merchants striving for independence or the sons of her family's trading partners.
But she evaded engagements by saying "The world of a merchant is filled with ups and downs, what reason is there to make a promise five years in the future if the other party falls to ruin until then?". As expected of a merchant's daughter.
Since Orianna got into the school on a scholarship and her magic was only on the level of making her daily life easier, her future was already limited to either civil service or a teaching position.
Even so, Orianna was happy that she could use magic at all. She would never have to worry about drinking water for the rest of her life, even if she were to be stranded somewhere. Adel had also taught the "magic to easily cool down water". A useful spell.
Although there already existed cooling spells, Adel's version just was more efficient, to a degree where even someone with Orianna's weak talent for magic could use it to cool drinks or preserve fish and meat.
「Hey, you better have remembered it!」
「Ah, yes, 」
Kelvin had approached Adel's group before suddenly calling her out. After hearing her reply, he trotted off with grumpy look on his face.
「Still, when will that person learn…」
Adel could only return a bitter smile in response to Marcella's words.
Since that duel after the entrance ceremony, Kelvin had challenged Adel to a duel once a month. It didn't turn into a problem since he asked their instructor Burgess to conduct their fights as training spars during the martial arts class. To Adel, this setup was quite agonizing.
She knew that he put in a lot of effort and partly understood his feelings, but she didn't like the enmity directed at her he held in his eyes or the speechless expression on his face after his loss. Since he was a classmate, Adel chose to keep him company even though it pained her.
He seemed to approach others beside her normally and seemed to be a quite okay guy, so why did he have to be this way to her?
This train of thought gradually enlarged an unpleasant emotion inside her.
『Absolutely don't throw the fight this time, you understand! If you do it again, Kelvin might snap for real.
Seriously, you should think a bit more about a man's pride…』
Since Burgess had given her private lessons on the "delicateness of men", she couldn't even lose intentionally anymore. Seeing that expression on Kelvin's face every time was hard on her.
Yet that "lesson on the thing known as man" was something really valuable for Adel. Extremely valuable, indeed.
The time of the martial arts class had come. As always, at the very beginning their duel commenced, and as always Adel emerged victorious.
Kelvin's skill with a blade trumped hers by miles, yet that skill was useless when confronted with the absolute gap in power and speed.
Of course Adel didn't pull out superhuman levels of strength, but there was no way for a 11~12 year old boy, no matter how gifted, to beat her when she released her "normal mode". As long as she didn't lose on purpose that is.
That path had been closed by Burgess and Adel's realization of her poor acting ability.
When Kelvin glared at her like usual, she got pissed off. The same glare as always.
(What did I do to deserve being glared at like this? Did I do something bad?)
Despite having endured it dozens of times, this time the usual glare, the usual expression, caused anger to bubble up inside of her. Almost as if a dam holding back the accumulated feelings had burst.
「I won't agree to another duel. This will be the last time!」
For a moment Kelvin gaped like a fish as he worked on understanding her words before he started shouting at her.
「W-What are you saying! Until I win against you…」
「That's just the selfish delusion you made yourself believe. Why should I care about that?」
Adel cut off Kelvins reply, following up her earlier words.
「First of all, can you be satisfied and tell yourself "I did it, I'm stronger than her" after luckily winning one fight? Can you really call yourself "stronger" when you quit after 12 losses and only 1 win? Are you retarded?」
「And even if you managed to beat me, a girl who doesn't even aim at being something like a knight, where would that leave you?
What would you tell them at the knight examination? "I dedicated the entire three years of my school life to beating a girl that works at a bakery. That girl is now learning how to be a good housewife and mother."」
A few of their classmates couldn't stop the air escaping their lungs. Their instructor, Burgess, tried to suppress it as if his life depended on it. As a teacher who looked after his students, he couldn't allow himself to laugh right now.
「Not to mention that I'm a magician type, meaning swords aren't exactly my strong point. Will you really say something like this in your examination? "I challenged an unskilled mage to a swordfight and could finally achieve victory on the 15th try!"」
At last, even Burgess was brought to his knees.
「That's what you are saying! You never challenged me in my strong suit, the magic lessons, only coming at me during the martial arts class where you have an advantage. Are you happy about beating a magician in a brawl.」
「I, I, I'm… Uaaaaa~~!」
Kelvin ran away.
Burgess looked troubled.
「There are things in the world that shouldn't be said out loud, even if they are true…
Are you ready for a little talk?」
As a result of this duel, the remaining time was used for a joint lesson by Burgess and her classmates on the topic of "taking care of a boy's heart".
「…I'm the bad guy?」
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