On Tuesdays, I had swordsmanship classes with Ellen and learned horseback riding in the afternoon. Perhaps my pseudo-swordsmanship skill was still a type of swordsmanship, my dedicated swordsmanship teacher praised me, saying that my skills seemed to have improved quite a bit.
“You seem to practice a lot, right?”
“This is much better than before.”
The teaching assistants told me that they could see that I had been working hard even while there weren’t any lectures, so they complimented me quite a lot.
On the other hand.
-Hmm…. I don’t think this is enough yet, Ellen.
-Let’s try a little more. It was a little disappointing, you know? You need to lower your center of gravity.
-Yes.Ellen was directly learning from the swordsmanship teacher not one of the assistants, but she was getting scolded a lot more, rather than receiving praise. Actually, it was Ellen who received the most criticism here.
That was only natural.
I started from 0 after all. So even a little bit of progress got praised excessively.
However, Ellen’s starting point was at 100. She did extremely well to begin with, meaning no real improvement, so there was nothing to really praise. These were classes, not some sort of competition, and the teachers, no matter how perfect a student was, had to somehow teach them something.
So, Ellen, who had swordsmanship skills incomparable to her other classmates, got subjected to incredibly high standards.
It’s like someone who previously got 0 points for a test getting 10 points, so they get praised. On the other hand, someone who had 90 points on their test and would continue to just get 90 points. They would be questioned why they didn’t improve even a bit.
That was the advantage of being a trash character.
What would have happened if I entered into that sword genius, Ellen’s body?
-It’s still not enough. Your sense of distance between the swords is still lacking.
They probably would have questioned why this gifted kid suddenly became so sloppy.
“Okay, Reinhardt! Let’s do that one more time! You’re doing great!”
I was actually pretty fortunate that I entered that incompetent Valier’s body.
“Reinhardt? What’s wrong?”
“Ah, no. I just got a little discouraged….”
I got slightly disappointed in myself for thinking that I was lucky for having entered such a loafer’s body.
As always, I had lunch with Ellen after our lessons, then I went to my horseback riding class. Harriet probably hadn’t talked with the Grand Duke yet. I wondered how things would go.
In Liana’s case, Bertus talked to her, but I didn’t actually know how things would go on her end. Anyway, it would be nice if none of the children took a leave of absence based on Bertus’ sudden action.
With these thoughts occupying my mind, I returned to the dormitory. Arriving there, I found someone quite unexpected waiting for me.
“Do you have some time?”
It was Charlotte who was waiting for me there.
She then made quite a weird request of me, without an inkling of hesitation.
“How about we go outside for a bit?”
“Huh. Will that be alright?”
She only asked me to go outside with her. No, but at this time?
“We won’t be able to go out yet, though…. The ban hasn’t been lifted yet, right?”
The investigation into that demonic terrorist incident shouldn’t have been completed yet. So the ban on Temple Students shouldn’t have been lifted yet, either. Hearing my words, Charlotte looked slightly sullen.
“There are some exceptions.”
I couldn’t refute that the Prince and Princess were pretty much treated like a special existence even in Temple.
“But without any escorts? Is that really okay?”
“It should be fine.”
It seemed clear that Charlotte was just trying to leave Temple with me alone.
What? Is that what one called denseness? Charlotte covered her mouth and laughed, seeing the look on my face.
“At the moment, there are only three people inside the Empire who are probably the safest at the moment.”
Charlotte pointed a finger somewhere. She roughly pointed in the direction of the Imperial Palace.
“I’m sure, you know who one of them is.”
Then she pointed towards the dormitory.
“Then there’s Bertus.”
After that, she pointed at herself.
I didn’t know what the basis for this theory was, but she seemed convinced that she wouldn’t be harmed in the least.
Charlotte would only be with me, but she wasn’t the least bit nervous.
No one was allowed to go outside at the moment, Charlotte, on the other hand, was able to go out and even take me with her just by talking to the people positioned at the entrance of Temple. They didn’t even ask why we wanted to go out.
Classes ended at 3 pm, so there was still a long time until the sun set. Charlotte slipped over a robe that seemed to have been prepared in advance. Charlotte’s face was much more well known than Bertus’ at the moment.
As I kept feeling anxious, Charlotte just faintly smiled at me from inside her robe.
“You really don’t have to worry. No matter what might happen, there are defensive measures in place.”
Charlotte walked ahead as if she had no worries at all.
“But where are we going?”
“The Aligar district’s shopping street.”
That was the moment I realized why she wanted to go out today.
The wanted to go to the place Valier was last seen. Charlotte planned on investigating herself.
Charlotte in her robe and me wearing my casual clothes boarded a mana train.
“Couldn’t we just use Warp Gates?”
Of course, there were only a few people who actually used warp gates to travel between districts.
The Warp Gates weren’t something one could use for free usually, but if it was the Imperial Princess, I was pretty sure that we would get a free pass.
While we were shaken around by the train, Charlotte froze at my words.
“Since the incident last time, the Warp Gate management procedures have been strengthened a lot more. I don’t want to leave a record.”
The demon prisoners escaped via the Warp Gates. Although that fact wasn’t known by the public, because of that, the forces guarding the Warp Gates increased and the security checks done on the Warp Gate’s users seemed to have gotten considerably stricter.
I should also have been among the ones not in the know why the security measures around the Warp Gates had been strengthened.
“What do the Warp Gates have to do with that incident?”
“Hmm…. I’ll tell you when we get off.”
Charlotte gestured to me to wait. She probably didn’t want to talk about these things in such a crowded area.
We went out like that because we wanted to visit that place with just the two of us, but wasn’t there a possibility that Bertus or one of his subordinates was following us? Could we be sure that we didn’t have a tail on us? Or did Charlotte not care about that?
She might be one of the people safest in the Empire, but I wasn’t, you know? Bertus was already treating me like someone firmly attached to him, or at least he had his eyes pretty strongly focused on me. So what excuse should I give him, if he caught me doing this?
I was riding a mana train with the Princess who suddenly asked me out.
This sure was a unique experience one wouldn’t encounter every day.
We got off at the Aligar District station and headed towards the shopping street.
“The suspects who caused that incident escaped via the Warp Gates. That’s why.”
Charlotte didn’t tell me about the demon prisoners black market trade.
“Didn’t they follow them through the Gate?”
“They were cautious. They activated the Gate by force, went through it, and destroyed the Warp Gate on the other side after they came out.”
It was quite arduous to ask her questions like someone who had no idea about this incident as someone who knew all about it. Charlotte calmly told me what she could.
“Anyway, why are you taking me to the Aligar District shopping street. Can’t you see that I feel like I’m walking on an extremely narrow tightrope right now?”
If I got stuck between Bertus and Charlotte like that, I’d lose a lot of my freedom of movement. Rather than having to escape because my true identity got discovered, I might actually have to escape because those two got wind that I’m a sort of double agent.
Bertus should already know that Charlotte and I have a certain connection. He just didn’t tell me yet that he knew. The same should go for Charlotte.
“I know what you’re worried about.”
Still, it was true that I leaned more towards Charlotte because of the guilt I felt towards her, so I could speak more frankly to Charlotte than to Bertus.
“I need you for my own reasons, I don’t know about Bertus, but in the end, it should be the same for him. Right?”
Charlotte probably saw me or even heard me speak to Bertus herself.
“I don’t really know what Bertus is thinking, but it’s not a bad relationship we’re having.”
“As long as you are in Temple’s Royal Class, Bertus won’t do anything to you. You can relax. Strictly speaking, the one you should be careful of would be me, but you know I need you.”
Charlotte was a bit different from Bertus in that she spoke to me directly like that.
“I’ll be fine as long as I’m in the Royal Class? Why?”
Just because we were classmates?
“As you know, Temple gives us exams and corresponding grades, right?”
“And you also know that there are not only individual exams, but also group exams. There are also classes and activities that require teamwork, which also count in one’s evaluation, right?”
Of course, I knew.
Class A and Class B would compete against each other, and that was pretty much reflected in these grades. Of course, there had to be fields in which the classes could compete directly with each other. That way the main character’s class, the inferior one, would later on have the pleasure of winning over the superior class.
Although the rationality behind grading everyone as a group was pretty much non-existent, it was a setting I deliberately put in so that there could be a direct competition between the two classes.
“With that in mind, wouldn’t it be disadvantageous for him to harm his classmates, badger them or treat some more preferentially when there are such group activities, right?”
“I… guess so.”
This wasn’t on the same level as someone missing from a sports team, but just by having too few people on one’s side would certainly carry a lot of disadvantages.
I made a lot of weird group activities for Class A and B’s competition, after all.
In other words, if one were to lose, all our grades would drop.
“So, Bertus won’t do anything to me because he doesn’t want his grades to drop?”
“Yes. So, unless you go too far over the line, he will most likely leave you alone.”
Bertus was smart, but was he really the type to obsess over grades to such a degree?
“This sounds a bit unconvincing…. Are grades so important to him?”
“I don’t know if they were in the past, but now they are very important to him.”
Saying that, Charlotte turned her eyes to me.
Their performance at Temple might not have been that important in the past, but right now it was something incredibly important to both of them. That was why Bertus wouldn’t try to kick me down if I didn’t do anything beyond reason.
“Do you remember? The Emperor’s message that we would be deprived of our right to the throne if something were to happen to either of us?”
On our first day after entering Temple, the Emperor sent a decree to Temple’s Royal Class. It was a message directed to both Charlotte and Bertus, as well as their followers inside the Royal Class, to warn them not to try anything.
Clearly, those two would be unable to harm each other until it was fully settled who would succeed the throne.
The Emperor knew full well how Bertus tried to kill Charlotte. I didn’t really know what exactly happened, but the Emperor didn’t seem to hold Bertus accountable for this.
However, he wanted to prevent future bloodshed between family members.
He now created a situation in which both Charlotte and Bertus were now desperately trying to keep each other alive, far from trying to kill each other. The current Emperor held so much power that, even if they got harmed unintentionally, he could make some completely unrelated person the Emperor.
That was the situation they were in.
“Then, taking this situation into consideration, do you think our evaluation at Temple would matter now, or not?”
Even if Temple was the best educational institution on the continent, it was completely absurd to assume that the one who graduated with better grades would become the Emperor. This wasn’t a matter one could decide using their grades.
However, even if it wouldn’t be the only factor leading to a decision, it would most certainly still play a big part.
Bertus and Charlotte were even in the same grade.
So this would be a type of indicator who between those two would be superior.
And Temple didn’t only give grades for individual strength as well.
In many cases, one had to achieve certain feats through teamwork. Whether it was group tasks or group activities.
The grades in Temple were bound to have some impact on the throne succession. There was no doubt that they had a significant, if not absolute, effect on that decision.
“Meaning, if even one person was missing, it would be a huge loss.”
If they were even one person short in a group activity, it would be a great disadvantage. Therefore, Bertus wouldn’t do any direct harm to me. That was what Charlotte was getting at.
Only then did I understand why Bertus took the initiative in discouraging the others from taking leaves of absence. If two kids decided to leave we would be down to only 9. Two less than Class B. Appealing, that evaluating the group activities like this was unfair, would be useless as well. Bertus had to somehow outperform Class B.
In usual times, his performance at Temple wouldn’t be so important to him, but now it was very important.
That being said, it was, of course, just as important to Charlotte.
“Was it intentional then? That the two of you got put into Class A and B respectively?”
“Well…. I can’t say that it wasn’t now, can I?”
I still didn’t know what kind of supernatural power Charlotte held, but it was pretty clear that the two of them got put into different Classes and placed as Number 1. Both were in the class leader position. They were ultimately put into such a position to test their leadership skills on their classmates.
In the end, what Charlotte wanted to convey was that I didn’t have to fear Bertus too much.
And it also made sense that I didn’t have to be afraid of Charlotte as well, because she needed me for her own reasons.
Then there was a different matter that bothered me.
“By the way, wasn’t it a bit harsh…. putting you in Class B?”
The Classes were divided by talent. Class B corresponded to the inferior Class. Wasn’t Charlotte dissatisfied with that treatment?
Charlotte shrugged her shoulders.
“I think this was better for me, though?”
“Ah…. I know what you mean.”
The honor student’s dilemma also applied here.
It went without saying that Class A far outperformed Class B.
However, if Class B were to surpass Class A even once, then it would seem like Class B created a miracle.
Charlotte seemed to think that Class B was currently in a pretty low position but could rise higher. However, although the story won’t play out like in the original, in the story I wrote, Class B would end up outperforming Class A.“Anyway, aren’t you telling me a bit too much. I’m still a member of Class A.”
“Do you think? Even Bertus knows this much, though.”
Charlotte smiled, as if her telling me this much wouldn’t pose a big problem to her.
“Okay. No more chit-chat.”
We arrived at the Aligar District shopping street. A place where many adventurers met their financial end even today.
“The last place the boy I was looking for was seen was in this shopping street.”
Charlotte came here to look for traces of Valier.
With Valier standing right next to her.