The Asterisk War

Chapter 7 - Noble Eyes Part 1

”…Getting suddenly hugged like that from behind; is there anyone who wouldn be surprised? ”

”Don misunderstand. Thats not something Id do for just anyone. Im quite sure, you know? ”

Claudia covered her mouth with her hand, and coupled with her earlier statement, it was difficult to tell which parts were just a joke.

”So? ”

”Yes? ”

”Don tell me that was the so-called last procedure? ”

Ayato forcibly brought things back on topic.

Disregarding everything else that had occurred, this was the primary reason Ayato had come, after all.

”Ohh…that. Yeah, that was a lie. ”

”…Lie? ”

Ayato felt his jaw drop.

”Because its easier this way~ ”

From the looks of things, Claudia didn feel the least bit of remorse.

e already a part of this school, procedures and whatnot, its a~ll done already. Its just that, in that circumstance, this was the most effective way to handle things. Julis is quite the zealous person, so I can guarantee that if it wasn a violation of school regulations, shed undoubtedly have continued that duel. ”

”But, but thats… ”

”Oh, do you mean to say that you would have preferred to continue? ”

”… ”

Of course, that wasn the case.

”If things had continued down that course, what would you have done? Neither I nor the school has any desire of witnessing such things. ”

”… ”

Well, if nothing else, what Claudia had done had been for his sake, after all. While her actions weren quite to the degree of ”ruthless ”, her way of doing things differed from her appearance.

Nor could hide nor hair is found of the weak and delicate Claudia who had hugged him just now.

”Now then, class is about to start, so lets end things here. If theres anything you need, don hesitate to ask. If theres anything I can do to help, itd be my pleasure. ”

Smiling beautifully, Claudia sent Ayato off with her gaze.

”Ah- Well then, this is the special transfer student Amagiri Ayato. Please get along well with everyone. ”

What a careless introduction.

Because of their new environment, teachers usually placed extra emphasis on caring for transfer students; in this instance, however, not the slightest hint of concern could be felt.

Ayato turned to gaze at the woman by his side, the homeroom teacher of Year 1 Class 3, Yatsuzaki Kyouko, whose only reaction was to say, ”Its your turn now. ”

She was rather tall, with a gaze best described as penetrating…or perhaps ferocious, and a tone and an attitude utterly unsuited to being a teacher.

That said, that was not what was most surprising, which would be the nailed bat she held in her hands. Well-worn, and dyed a deep scarlet, its forbidding presence discouraged further inquiry.

”Hey, hurry it up. ”

”Ah, right away! Um, Im Amagiri Ayato. Pleased to meet all of you. ”

Ayatos introduction extended only as far as his name; perhaps he wasn the talkative type.

Every gaze in the room centred on him.

Some students were intrigued, students who couldn care less, students who seemed to stare deeply, and students who were on guard.

Transfer students were always the subject of attention, but this was rather excessive.

Just one girl stared at Ayato with a complicated expression, the reasoning for which Ayato was only too aware.

”Seat, hmm…Ah, why don you sit with the person you were playing with fire with? It just so happens to be empty, perfect. ”

”Who, who did you say was playing with fire with that guy?! ”

The person Kyouko had referenced, Julis, stood up, her face reddening.

”Hmm, who other than you, Riessfeld? This morning, you were too unrestrained. As a member of the Top Twelve, you can just rampage about whenever you feel like it. This is not Le Wolfe after all! ”

”Gu… ”

Julis reluctantly sat back down in her seat, located in the second row from the back.

Luckily, there were empty seats on either side of her.

”Id never have guessed wed be classmates. ”

”…Im not laughing. ”

At Ayatos words, Julis could only sigh.

Not all that warm of a welcome, it seems.

”Even though lots of things happened earlier, in short, pleased to meet you. ”

Julis still had a few words for Ayato, so she turned to him to speak.

”I owe you, so when you need my help, Ill lend you a hand just once. Other than that, leave me alone. ”

Having said her piece, she abruptly turned away.

-After which…

”Haha, rejected. ”

From behind drifted over a comment half sympathetic, half exclamatory.

Ayato turned around. He saw a young man with lean facial features, a sympathetic expression on his face, extending a hand toward him.

”Well, you are dealing with the Princess, after all. ”

Ayato grasped the young mans hand, which he shook vigorously.

”My names Yabuki Eishirou. We
e roommates. ”

”Roommates…you mean in the dorms? ”

”Yep. My room was intended for two people after all. ”

”My apologies. After having the room to yourself for so long, it must be a little cramped now. ”

”No worries. ”

Eishirou seemed to be quite the candid young man.

Though it wasn immediately obvious while he was sitting, he ought to be a full head taller than Ayato. His attitude seemed rather childlike, but both his expression and his stature spoke of his maturity. His left cheek bore an obvious scar, giving a sense of unbalanced aesthetics.

”Anyway, if Im going to have a roommate, Im glad its an interesting one. ”

”…Im a pretty ordinary person, you know? ”

e you talking about? The very first morning of your transfer, and already duelling one of the Top Twelve? Whats more, daring to push down that Princess in front of that crowd of onlookers? Theres no need for false modesty here. ”

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Ayato felt he hadn the slightest degree of false modesty, and if given the opportunity, would gladly take an hour or two to clear up the misunderstanding. Nevertheless, it appeared as ifthe rumour had long since spread.

Accordingly, the second class ended, and he found himself surrounded.

”Hey, Amagiri-Kun, what happened at your previous school? Transferring in at this time means something must have happened right? ”

”Also, why were you duelling the Princess? We still haven received any information on that! ”

”Nononono, whats important is, is it okay to be that passionate about the Princess? Hmm? What do I mean? Wasn that duel about ending your love in a blaze of glory? Or wait, maybe forbidden love? ”

”Wait, wait! Rather than all that ridiculousness, what I want to know is your strategy for fighting the Princess! Howd you do it? ”

”I never expected this. ”

The other group of students were separated by a wall of indifference.

”This is, of course, due to the Gruene Roses lenience toward a newcomer. ”

”Honestly. Whether it be personal background or reactionary speed, this is far in excess of what passes for normal in this city. Relatively speaking, this might be even harder than making it into the Named Charts. ”

”Whys someone like that a special invitee? Not that it matters one way or another. ”

And so forth.

It felt to Ayato as if the class had continued without ceasing. By the end of the school day, he was exhausted in both heart and mind.

”Ugh… ”

”Its been hard on you. It sure isn fun being popular. ”

The light of the setting sun poured through the classroom windows, shining upon Ayato, who collapsed upon his desk in exhaustion, and Eishirou gave him a friendly pat on the back.

”Well, Ive realized all of this. ”

”Of? ”

”That Im not the popular one; Julis is. ”

Ayato glanced at the seat by his side, exaggeratedly shrugging his shoulders.

The owner of that seat had vanished without a trace the moment class ended.

”It wasn that people were interested in me per se, but rather that they were curious about he one whod duelled the Princess, right? ”

”Hmm, not bad. ”

Eishirou applauded.

His expression revealed his esteem for Ayatos remark.

”The thing I don get is this; if thats all they wanted, why not ask Julis directly? ”

”If it was that easy, things wouldn be like this. Haven you noticed? That Princess isn exactly friendly. ”

”…More or less, yes. ”

Thinking of the smile Julis had shown after having her handkerchief returned, Ayato wondered why she kept others at a distance.

”Well, who knows what the reason is, but its a fact that she deliberately maintains a distance between herself and others. Moreover… ”

”Um, just a moment. Youve been saying he Princess over and over; is that a nickname? It seems like everyone else was doing the same. ”

”Hrm, nickname or not, huh…Well, truth be told, shes an honest-to-goodness princess. ”

”…Huh? ”

Ayato was sure hed misheard.

”A princess? You mean like the kind in fairy tales? ”

”Exactly. Getting cursed by an evil witch, saved by the kiss of a prince, forced into a political marriage, coming from a magical land, sold into slavery, and getting toyed with by tentacles, that kind of princess. Simply put, the daughter of a king. ”

Although the second half of that answer sounded rather strange to Ayato, he nonetheless understood.

”After the Ember Tears, the nations of Europe returned to being monarchies. While true control over both government and economics was grasped by the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, they found it convenient to place puppet monarchs on the throne. The first princess of one of those countries, Lieseltania, is that Princess. Her full name is Julis Alexia Marie Florentia Renate van Riessfeld. Her name is recorded on Europes list of royalty. ”

”Um…that was a little too detailed, don you think? ”

”Oh, this is just purchased information. Provided by the Newspaper Club, incidentally. ”

He smiled brazenly.

”Why was the Princess fighting in a place like that anyway? Normally, princesses should be more graceful. ”

Remembering the incident where hed nearly been roasted alive, Ayato tilted his head in thought.

Julis indeed possessed elegant demeanour, august manner, and boldness–– in excess.

”Who would have guessed you didn know yourself? And here I was, thinking Id get the inside scoop. ”

Eishirou wore a serious expression that seemed to say, ”looks like my information was correct. ”

”Shes decidedly lovely, fiercely strong, and a real princess to boot. Shed be the centre of attention. Since joining our class last year, she hasn just caught the eye of others; they stirred themselves into a fanatic fervour as her guards. Not long ago, she issued them a command. ”

”…I can picture that all too easily. ”

”Anyway, do you know what it was she told them? Silence! I am not a work of art to be admired. ”

”…Again, all too easily imagined. ”

”The majority ran off, but as expected, this completely normal response left some very unhappy. The Princess responded by challenging each of them to a duel in turn, and one by one, defeating them handily. Not long after, the Princess soon achieved a position as one of the Top Twelve. ”

That was to be expected.

Having fought Julis himself, Ayato was very aware that her strength was anything but a sham. Even here at the War Academy City, Asterisk, there were likely only a handful of individuals stronger than her.

”Thats why theres no one capable of approaching that Princess. Until today, there hasn been a single person able to work up the courage to simply talk to her like that. ”

”Uh…how do I say this; she does have friends, right? ”

”At least as far as I know, no, no one. Oh, pardon me for just a moment. ”

Eishirou raised his hand to forestall further comment, before reaching into his pocket to withdraw his ringing phone.

”Whats up, President? ”

Between them a ”space ” window had opened, displaying a girl with shoulder-length hair snarling at full volume.

『 ”Don ask me whats up! I told you already I wanted your article proofread and ready for printing first thing in the morning! What on Earth have you been doing!? ”』

”Ah, sorry, something came up… ”

『 ”No excuses! Just get your ass over here within the next five minutes! ”』

As the space window suddenly disappeared, Eishirou kneaded his forehead with a wry smile.

”…Well, thats how it is. If I don head over, things won go well for me. ”

”Its just about time for me to head back anyway. ”

”Lets meet back at the dorms then. ”

”Before that…Yabuki! ”

Facing Eishirou, preparing to exit the classroom, Ayato tossed something to him.

”Ohh? ”

Eishirou caught the item with a surprised look on his face. Inspecting it more carefully, he laughed.

”So you noticed. ”

”Thank you. If it wasn for this, Im sure things wouldn have ended that simply. ”

What hed thrown was a Lux activation tool.

It wasn , however, the one hed received from Claudia, but rather the one from this morning.

”Howd you know it was me? ”

”Hmm? Oh, your voice. ”

Playing things down, Ayato replied mildly, but Eishirous face lit up.

”In the middle of all of that, you still remember a single voice from that crowd so clearly? ”

”Return what is owed. Thats something my sister repeated time and again. ”

”…Hah! As I thought, you are interesting! ”

Eishirou shook with laughter.

”So, Amagiri, the duel from this morning…in actuality, you won, didn you? ”

”…Ehh, for the current me, I don think thats possible. ”

This was not a lie.

”Hmm… the current you, is it? ”

Satisfied with his answer, Eishirou left the room with a lively gait.

Ayato, now alone in the room, sighed heavily.

”This school is more difficult than expected. ”

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