Around the same time, Laura was sitting on a bench under the shade as she ate bread for lunch alone.
The waning heat of the post-summer sunlight felt pleasant.
A quiet, comfortable place to spend time—is what it should’ve been, but Laura felt down.
She breathed out a sigh for the nth time, as if trying to eject the gloomy fog in her heart.
It must’ve been because of the loneliness of being alone.
Because of Albert not being next to her.
The thing she took for granted was no longer so granted.
These feelings of discomfort were incomprehensible to Laura.
…I wonder what Albert’s doing around now…
Albert was eating at the cafeteria with his newfound noble friends.
Laura had been going to the cafeteria for a little while, even after she stopped eating with Albert. However, whenever she saw Albert with the nobles, she felt slightly bitter and stopped going to the cafeteria.
…Maybe I’m losing my nerve…
Laura found her own feelings detestable.
Albert’s trying his best in an unfamiliar environment. It isn’t right for me to be harboring these feelings.
The gloomy fog in her chest wouldn’t go away, and the sighs all the same.
“U-…Um, you’re… Laura, right…?”
Someone abruptly called out to her.
She didn’t recognize that voice. It was extremely rare for people other than Albert and teachers to call her name.
“…Yeah, I am.”
Laura raised her head. There stood a single female student.
She had light-blue hair and was wearing the academy uniform. Tension was plastered all over her face, which showed her meek personality.
Laura knew about this girl.
If I’m not mistaken, she’s a commoner in the same class—
“Can I help you, Liz?”
Her face went from tense to surprised when her name was called.
“Huh…? We’ve never talked before, but… you know my name?”
“I have all of my classmates’ names memorized.”
Laura smiled gently. She had a hard time making friends, but that was the least she could do every time a new school year started.
“T-That’s amazing… I still haven’t memorized everyone’s names… I barely talk with boys or nobles, too…”
After laughing, Liz apologized, as if she remembered something.
“Ah, sorry, sorry! So, about my business with you… Um, I wanted to try and talk with you for a bit!”
Laura tilted her head at the unexpected developments.
“I want to… try and talk! With Laura!”
Liz suddenly raised her voice, as if she were resolving herself to leap from a cliff.
Laura was shocked.
She never would’ve thought that was what Liz was going to say.
However, she didn’t find it unpleasant; rather, she was delighted to hear it.
“Sure, it’s fine.”
Laura then scooted to the edge of the bench.
“By all means, have a seat.”
Liz sat by Laura’s side.
From then on, Liz began talking about herself as she stuttered and stammered. Liz was born in a small village with no magicians, and everybody in the village rejoiced in her talent in magic.
“So, I’m aiming to become a magician for my village!”
Laura could sympathize with what Liz said.
The reason being—
“I know how you feel, since I’m the same. I also want to become a magician that can contribute to my village.”
“Yup! Yeah, that’s what I was thinking!”
“That’s what you were thinking?”
“…Well, uh, you know… aren’t you, like, famous…?”
She spoke ambiguously, and of all the things to say, she said famous—
Laura understood the meaning behind her words. She must’ve been referring to her lineage.
“That’s why you must’ve had the same feelings for your village, too… is what I was thinking. I was thinking you were the same as me. I’ve been wanting to talk with you for some time!”
“I see, so that’s how it was.”
Laura smiled sweetly.
She felt somewhat embarrassed. This was the first time a girl the same age as her that wasn’t from her village said that she wanted to talk with her.
“In that case, you could’ve just spoken to me a lot earlier.”
“That’s true… but, you know… was Albert his name? You were always with that guy, so…”
Albert was a male adult who was well over 10 years older than both of them. Laura could definitely see how Liz might’ve felt reserved when she saw him with her.
“But you aren’t with him as of late, right?”
Laura was vague in her choice of words.
She didn’t really know what to say herself.
“Albert was actually a noble, right? I’ve recently been seeing him with the nobles pretty frequently, but I guess that means he can’t bring himself to be with a commoner, after all… or something like that?”
The moment Laura heard those words—
“Albert… isn’t that kind of person!”
Laura reflexively let out a loud voice.
Thereupon, she instantly felt embarrassed.
What have I done! To someone I just met, no less!
Laura bowed her head in a panic.
“I-I-I-I’m sorry…! I spoke without thinking!”
“It’s fine! I’m the one who should be sorry! I said something so rude!”
Liz also seemed to feel apologetic as she apologized.
Laura put her thoughts in order as she spoke, picking her words carefully.
“…You see, Albert isn’t that sort of person; he’s very kind. He’s always been through various hardships until now, and he’s finally being recognized by everyone. This is an important time for him, so, um, it can’t be helped that I can’t meet with him.”
She was literally “persuading herself” as she spoke.
Now that it’s been revealed that Albert is a noble, he couldn’t just neglect his relationships with other nobles; such was only logical.
This is an important time for him—
To Laura, those words were a habitual set of keywords meant to soothe her inner turmoil.
“When things die down, I’ll have another opportunity to talk with him.”
“I see… so that’s how it is… You sure trust him, huh?”
“Yes, I do. I trust him a lot!”
Liz made a broad smile after hearing what Laura said.
“If you’d like, is it alright if I talk with you another time?”
Those words were comforting to Laura.
It was like a flower bloomed inside of her chest. It didn’t fully ease the loneliness of not being able to meet with Albert, but—it most certainly filled the gap in Laura’s heart, even by a little.
Feeling somewhat shy, Laura responded like so:
“Yes. If you’re alright with someone like me, then I’m available whenever…!”
A few days later, we were called to a room in the academy for class.
“Today, I’ll be conducting an exam to measure your proficiency in offensive magic!”
…Proficiency in offensive magic?
I wonder what kind of exam it’ll be. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a test like this when I was enrolled 10 years ago.
Kyria, who was standing next to me, laughed.
“An offensive magic exam… Sounds pretty interesting.”
“Do you have a minute, Albert?”
Someone suddenly called out to me from the side.
I shifted my gaze, and there I saw a blue-haired boy with well-defined facial features.
If I’m not mistaken… he’s the top student in our year, Blain Milhis.
He was the student that challenged the Frenzied Spirit with Flin at Lake Bjarnu.
Blain stared at me and continued.
“I want to challenge you, who contributed greatly in the previous conflict, to a match in this exam.”
Today’s second chap. Managed to get it out today. The next 3 chapters are gonna be a 3 parter, I found it pretty fun to read when I first read the raws. Tomorrows gonna be recreator, see you guys then.