The place where Liana took me was the largest room in the mansion. Only illuminated by a single weak light, the room was filled with a soft yellow light.
It wasn’t only me; the others were also sitting around the table or on the sofa in the room. I was the last to arrive.
And there on the table were ice buckets filled with unnamed bottles.
“If the servants saw us drinking, they would make a fuss, so I waited until they went to their accommodations.”
I had arrived as fast as lightning because I heard there’d be alcohol.
The situation was like some kids secretly drinking some alcohol on a field trip. It was something very common, but it actually happened in this world, so it felt kind of weird.
Just how much was this world mixed with our modern one?
Although it was still a bit different. because the alcohol on the table wasn’t soju, but some liquor with high alcohol content. By the way, I wasn’t actually sure if minors were allowed to drink stuff like that in this world. Harriet’s expression showed some slight excitement, and so did Heinrich’s and Adelia’s.
“Have you drunk before?”
“Yeah, not much, though.”
I nodded my head at Liana’s question. Ellen just sat still. It seemed that Liana actually ate and drank a lot of things in secret.
Wasn’t she a complete problem child? She was even trying to make her classmates drink alcohol.
The more I got to know about her, the more surprised I was.
“If you don’t want to drink, no one will force you.”
Liana skillfully opened one of the bottles and poured its content into each of our cups.
Then she put some ice in them.
“B-but… What if we get in trouble?”
“I’ve never drunk before…”
Harriet and Adelia looked a bit nervous and scared.
“Who’s gonna scold you? Just do it once and you’ll see.”
She was someone who would be forgiven, no matter what she did wrong. Ellen stared at the golden liquid in her cup.
Come to think of it, back when we were in the Darklands, Ellen had told me that if I were to drink, she wanted to drink together with me, so she was probably curious about it.
However, it felt like that promise would get fulfilled in a very different setting. Heinrich was looking at the alcohol in his glass with some nervousness apparent on his face.
I wasn’t really worried.
I immediately downed the whiskey in my glass.
“Kuaah… That is it.”
I had no reason to refuse the drink, as I had already decided to play around there anyway. Everyone was staring at me blankly as I drank the stuff without hesitation.
That hot sensation down my throat…
That was it.
It has been so long that I had almost forgotten how it felt.
“W-well… Th-then me, too!”
Heinrich stared at his glass and then drank it as if he had made up his mind.
“Cough, cough, cough!”
Then he coughed multiple times, seeming as if he had choked.
“Haaah… Haaah… M-my throat feels like it’s burning up.”
Liana, who patted Heinrich on his back for a bit, sighed. One had to be prepared for what one poured down one’s throat, or else one’s body would just reject it, you idiot.
“This isn’t a drink you can drink in one shot. That guy’s just weird.”
Liana warned Heinrich not to follow my example because I was being weird by drinking it like a shot. Adelia and Harriet tilted their heads and drank a bit of the whisky by sticking their tongues into their glasses.
Ellen also took a sip before she slightly narrowed her brows.
Yeah, what did those guys even know about the taste of alcohol? Liana seemed to have expected that they would react like that, so she uncorked another bottle.
“Then you guys should drink sweet ones.”
Liana, who seemed to prefer sweet liquors, poured some into those three’s glasses and her own. After seeing her differentiating the alcohol like that, she couldn’t have just drunk one or two bottles, could she?
She left Temple every weekend to return to Duke Grantz’s mansion in the Capital. Could it be that she didn’t do that because she felt more comfortable at home but because she couldn’t drink in Temple? I felt almost certain about that.
After all three of them drank the sweet wine, they nodded.
“Woow, this is delicious.”
“Yes… It’s sweet.”
“This is okay.”
And Ellen’s reaction.
“Is that so? Then you can just drink this.”
Liana looked at me, grabbed a bottle, and giggled.
“You don’t like sweet things, right?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.”
She seemed to have remembered the time when we went to the dessert cafe and I had mentioned that. Of course, I could clearly see Heinrich’s eyebrows narrow a bit when he heard that.
“How about you, Heinrich? Want some of this, too? If it’s too strong…”
“…No, I’ll stick with this.”
Liana probably had no idea that Heinrich was actually interested in her, so she probably didn’t realize that her words were provoking him quite a bit, either.
Why was he always trying to compete with me? That brat. Of course, I knew that he didn’t want to appear weak before the girl he was interested in.
‘I’m not your rival or something, you bastard.’
I couldn’t really tell him that, so I just sat back and watched.
* * *
Liana, Heinrich, and I had whiskey.
Ellen, Harriet, and Adelia drank the sweet wine.
We had chocolate and cheese as snacks.
As that was the first time for most of them, everyone just casually drank a glass or two.
However, usually in those cases, one suddenly started thinking something like:
Huh? This is delicious, isn’t it? And I’m not even drunk!
Then, all of a sudden, one would wake up to an unfamiliar ceiling.
“H-hey. That’s not juice. Drink it slowly. Then you’ll get a bit tipsy.”
“Listen, the feeling of drunkenness only comes after some time. So drink slowly, Ellen.”
Ellen kept on gulping down glasses of wine like grape juice, so she had to be extra careful. Harriet and Adelia, who did the same as Ellen, began to restrain themselves at my words.
“But I sure wonder what Ellen would be like when drunk.”
Liana stared at Ellen with a subtle smile on her lips. I was definitely curious about what she’d be like. Would she talk a lot more?
She might just fall asleep as well. One wouldn’t know how one would act while drunk if one hadn’t been drunk before.
“By the way, what are you all planning on doing next semester? Like classes.”
Liana asked us what our plans would be for the next semester. So far, we hadn’t really talked that much with each other, as we were too busy playing around. So the only time we actually got to have a proper conversation was at that drinking party orchestrated by Liana.
“Well… I think things will be pretty similar to the first semester for me. I mostly attend magic classes… I think Adelia is in almost all of them as well. If anything… I might take more classes on alchemy this time around.”
“Yeah… My plans are pretty much similar to Harriet’s.”
Those two were the only ones in Class A who majored in magic, so it seemed like they planned on sticking together, even throughout the second semester.
Next, her eyes turned to me.
“Why would I do anything differently? Supernatural power training, meditation, and magic sensitivity training are more or less mandatory. Swordsmanship… I can’t really think of anything else.”
I thought about taking the same swordsmanship class as Ellen. It was more than obvious that I would have supernatural power training with Heinrich and Liana. The bigger picture didn’t change, after all. Ellen seemed to ponder for a moment.
“I probably won’t do anything different either. If I had to say something… Maybe a Demon Ecology class.”
“Yes.” All of us tilted our heads in confusion at her nonsensical words. I had no idea what kind of class Demon Ecology would be. However, judging by its name, it probably was a class in which one learned about demons.
Ellen probably realized when she dealt with the zombies that she had no prior knowledge about them, so it seemed like she wanted to learn more in case she ever came across beings she didn’t know again.
Actually, when I thought about it, I would probably have to learn those things the most. I might have to take that class with Ellen as well.
“Hmm… Demon Ecology. That sounds interesting. Should I take it too?”
Liana also seemed interested in that Demon Ecology class.
“By the way, why would you want to take a class on Demons when we won’t ever meet… Ah.”
Harriet immediately shut her mouth as she was posing the fundamental question of why she would want to pick a class like Demon Ecology in the first place. Something had happened in the Darklands. Something we couldn’t tell her.
She thought that this was the reason, so she stopped asking. Ellen’s expression darkened as she realized that she had made a slight mistake and let something slip.
When the mood got a little weird, Liana raised her glass.
“I shouldn’t have mentioned classes while we still have vacation, so let’s just drink.”
When at a drinking party, one could just drink when the atmosphere got a bit awkward.
Was she really a high school student? Wasn’t she actually someone possessing the soul of someone in their thirties or forties?
We chatted away about various things in that room illuminated by a dim yellow light.
“Come to think of it, there’ll be a festival in our second semester.”
That was a standard development in stories of the school life genre.
In Summer, it would be the sea. In Winter, it would be hot springs.
—And school festivals.
School life had gotten a bit boring lately, but I definitely put in something that would make one sad if they missed it. Therefore, the Temple Festival, which more than 100,000 people attended, was very grand.
“Umm… But as far as I know, the Royal Class wouldn’t just enjoy the festival… I heard…”
Harriet spoke a bit hesitantly. Liana nodded her head.
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“Yeah, there’ll be a battle.”
“With the Orbis class?”
There were two special classes in Temple.
—The Royal Class for talent, and the Orbis class for skill.
The Orbis class and Royal class would have a friendly match during the festival.
That was actually one of the main events of the Temple Festival.
In the original, there was a fierce rivalry between Class A and B within Royal Class, and outside of the class, it would be with the Orbis Class.
Those were the two types of rivals found in the novel.
So, in the first semester, Class A was introduced as the rival, and in the second semester, a new rivaling party called the Orbis class was introduced through the Festival.
To tell the truth, there were only a few people who had some skill, because students of Class A were purely chosen for their talent. If I had to pick some people to represent Class A, it would be the three idiot brothers: Cayer Vioden, Erich de Lafaeri, and Kono Lint. Of course, in Kono Lint’s case, it wasn’t because of a lack of effort but because of the penalty of his ability.
However, students of the Orbis Class were purely chosen based on their actual abilities, no matter if their talents were inferior or not. That was why there were almost no lazy people among them—they were all very hard working.
In the original novel, the Royal Class would end up being defeated by them in their first year. Some of the most talented students would still win their individual matches, though.
Anyway, our confrontation with those guys was getting closer and closer.
“Close quarter combat majors can actually get hurt really badly, so watch out, the two of you.”
Liana looked at Ellen and me alternately. Even though I was someone with supernatural powers, I somehow ended up as a close-quarter combat major.
“But… Do the guys from the Orbis Class really… hate us?”
Adelia asked cautiously, a little frightened. It was Harriet who answered.
“My second brother was in the Orbis Class. So he really hated it when I was chosen for the Royal Class. He didn’t tell me not to go, though.”
I didn’t know just how many brothers she had exactly, but she had at least three. All of them seemed to be graduates of Temple, and her second brother seemed to be a graduate of the Orbis Class. Everyone looked at her, surprised, as that was the first time we had heard about that.
“As far as I know, they believe that we only believe in our talents and nothing else. The Teachers also deliberately try to motivate them like that, so it seems like they feel like they absolutely must not lose against us. This belief is actually really deeply ingrained in them.”
That was what I knew as well.
—An elite group that received special treatment only because of their talents.
—And a group that only managed to become elites after a lot of hard work.
The Orbis Class hated the Royal Class a lot. However, the Royal Class was pretty much indifferent towards the Orbis Class.
In the end, it was just one-sided hate, which also came to be due to the Orbis Class’s limitations. In the lower years, one could still overcome the difference in talent through gruelling effort. However, as one went up in grade, the gap between the Orbis Class and the Royal Class would only widen. After they lost against the Orbis Class, they would realize that if they didn’t put any effort into developing their talents, they would end up worse than any normal person out there. A person who would just bum around and not even try making an effort would end up as nothing but a bum.
To tell the truth, the Orbis Class actually made those lazy geniuses of the Royal Class into hard-working geniuses.
Effort could never surpass talent.
Because of that absurdity, the Orbis Class, who was all about effort, couldn’t help but feel a sense of inferiority to the Royal Class.
Liana crossed her arms.
“I heard that the Royal Class’s and Orbis Class’s dormitories were built so far apart from each other so that students from either Class wouldn’t encounter each other because, in the past, they would fight with each other whenever they had free time.”
Whenever they had a chance, quarrels would ensue, and acts of violence would occur. They weren’t even ordinary students but Temple’s elite. If something went wrong, it wouldn’t just end with a case of assault but murder.
Therefore, they had moved the Orbis Class’s and Royal Class’s dormitories far apart from each other so that they wouldn’t even have a chance to encounter each other. Harriet sipped on her wine and sighed.
“But they say it’s a lot better now. In the past, it seemed like they would go around in their school uniform, and as soon as they spotted someone from the other Class, they would quarrel.”
I didn’t even know what the Orbis Class uniform looked like. However, I had never gotten into any quarrels with someone just because I was wearing the Royal Class’s uniform.
Things had gotten better, so it wasn’t like the past where they glowered at each other just for wearing their respective uniforms.
Still, the two Classes would never be on good terms.
And the official clash between those two opposing classes was scheduled for our second semester.
The Orbis Class would be sharpening their blades at the moment to defeat us. The Royal Class would lose in the team battle due to teamwork issues, and only some would win their individual battles. Ludwig would go up against Orbis Class’s strongest first-year and would lose his individual match.
By the way, I had no idea what those matches would look like now that we had more people.
Liana looked in Ellen’s direction to ask her something.
“By the way, Ellen, will you take part in the tournament?”
As it was a festival, there wasn’t only the battle between elites, but there were also battle events open to all of Temple’s students. The biggest among them was the tournament divided by grades.
Mainly those who specialized in close-quarter combat would participate.
In the original, Ellen would compete in the tournament, where she would win in her first year.
Ellen’s opponent in the finale was Orbis Class’s strongest first year—the one who immediately caused Ludwig to get kicked out of the tournament. Ellen would barely beat him.
That sequence would also serve as a moment to show that Ellen would be Ludwig’s wall to overcome, like that one time on the deserted island.
The ratings were utterly disastrous.
The readers were probably bored of that martial arts tournament arc. It was a popular pattern, after all.
Fight and win, fight and win.
Ah, I’m just going to skip this arc. Where does it actually end?
I got a lot of those kinds of comments.
So after I wrote that arc, I had to take a sedative because of all those malicious comments…
That fucking boring part was slowly approaching me in reality.
However, Ellen’s reactions seemed to be a little negative. Originally, she would have just participated and won, but things seemed to be a little different.
After some time, Ellen shook her head.
“I don’t think I’m going to participate.”
“Why? Honestly, I think you’d easily win first place.”
I knew why things had turned out like that.
“Just because… I don’t think there’s any reason for me to participate.”
Ellen had learned how to strengthen herself with magical power.
Ellen seemed to think that there was no reason for her to participate in something like that at that point because the difference between her skills and her classmates’ was already overwhelming.
I put my hand on Ellen’s shoulder.
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Don’t participate.”
I grinned at Ellen.
“If you participate, I wouldn’t be able to win first place.”
My sudden declaration made the others widen their eyes.
“…Even without me there, I don’t think you’d be able to win.” “…Isn’t that a bit too much?”
At Ellen’s sudden words, everyone burst into laughter.
My sudden declaration that I would participate in the tournament and Ellen’s contemptful comment seemed to have caused great joy for the others.
‘Did you guys have to laugh at the expense of a man’s suffering? What a bunch of cruel bastards.’
“Why won’t I be able to win?!”
“…Do I have to tell you?”
I tried hard to get along with her, but Ellen just stared at me as she drank the rest of her wine.
“You’re no match for Cliffman. What if he decides to participate?”
I couldn’t say anything against those facts. Even with my supernatural power activated, I couldn’t defeat Cliffman. Although my skills had improved a bit during the vacation, Cliffman probably wouldn’t have just sat around doing nothing either.
I couldn’t beat Cliffman.
Then, if there were some talented guy among the participants who could actually beat Cliffman, that would mean I wouldn’t be able to get past that person either.
“Hmm, Fine then. I’ll just go and break the legs of all the ones of the Royal Class and Orbis Class who are stronger than me, and then I’ll participate.”
“…It feels like you’d really pull something like that, so how about not saying that out loud?”
Liana looked at me at my remark. Harriet also commented.
“…How are you going to break the legs of those who are stronger than you to begin with?”
“By surprise attacking them?”
“Are… are you really going to do that?”
Harriet’s face blanched as if I might actually try to put that bullshit plan into action.
“Dunno. I was just joking because I got annoyed.”
I was just joking. I also didn’t think that I’d be able to land first place just because Ellen wasn’t there—that was also meant to be a joke.
I didn’t even think about participating in that tournament.
Rather, it was a lot better to just spar with Ellen to improve my skills.
Starting from the second semester, I also planned to focus more on other tasks, so I didn’t have any time to play around in that event.
Going to some festival?
Some martial arts tournament? I wouldn’t participate.
Some clash between classes? I’d just be absent.
I was living on borrowed time.
I couldn’t just live like a real student.
But then, all of a sudden, Ellen said those nonsensical things.
“What? Didn’t you say I wouldn’t get first place, though?”
What was she talking about? First, she told me that I wasn’t good at fighting, and then she wanted me to participate in something like that?
Ellen was staring at me. Was she curious about my skills? She should have witnessed the extent of them to some degree while we were in the Darklands.
In the original story, Ellen would participate in the tournament and win the whole thing.
However, Ellen had become incomparably stronger than how she was in the novel, so she decided to not take part in the Temple tournament, as the results were more than obvious.
She wouldn’t participate herself.
“You have to make it to the quarterfinals.”
So Ellen seemed to wonder how far I would be able to go after learning swordsmanship from her.
She wanted her student to participate, not herself, and she wanted to watch.
“…Are you drunk?”
Suddenly, Ellen’s expression became strange, as if she was trying to pretend that things were normal. She wasn’t actually that kind of person, but she still said that I had to reach the quarterfinals after learning from her.
Looking closely, not knowing if it was because of the yellow light illuminating the room, that girl’s face looked really red.
“If you can’t make it until there, I’ll scold you.”
It was oddly difficult to look at that strange smile dancing around her lips.
It would have been better if she had just gotten into a drunken frenzy or fallen asleep. After seeing her act like that, my whole body felt as if it froze over.