Blain silently waited in an unused classroom.
It was currently 1:10—
The door opened with a creak.
“Gosh, Blain, you’re already here,” said someone.
It was Sarles, who was Blain’s friend and similarly possessed the Iron Emblem. He entered the room, speaking in a cheerful and laid-back tone.
Blain began speaking, “I was the one who called you here, after all. I can’t have you waiting.”
“Jeez, you sure are uptight!” said Sarles, laughing. “Although, its you we’re talking about, so I guess it’s no surprise… so why exactly is our straightlaced Blain cutting class again?”
Sarles made an amused smile.
Just like Sarles said, it was currently time for class. Although, because of yesterday’s commotion, it was just set to self-study.
Until now, Blain had never once played truant.
“…I wanted to speak to you in private, Sarles.”
“Uh-huh. And why’s that?” said Sarles, grinning broadly. “AH! Could it be that you’re gonna confess to me!? Sorry, Blain. You’re a good guy, but I’m—”
“It’s about yesterday night.”
Blain glossed over Sarles’ banter.
Sarles gave Blain a smile, who didn’t seem to be in the mood for any games. “Oh, I guess you aren’t joking around. My bad. Tell me what’s up.”
“I’m suspecting you.”
“What? Suspecting? Suspecting me of what?”
“Did you cause last night’s commotion?”
“By last night’s commotion—you mean that whole undead fiasco?”
Sarles widened his eyes in apparent shock.
“AHAHAHAHAHAHA!” he burst out laughing.
‘After chuckling to himself for a short while, he continued speaking, “Hey, hey, hey! Blain! I’m just your average student, y’know? There’s no way in hell I could summon that amount of undead. Could you, the head of the class, pull that stunt off?”
“Right? So there’s a fat chance that I could do it when I have worse grades than you!”
“…I wonder about that…” briefly responded Blain, shaking his head. “I don’t think you’re actually giving it your all.”
“I’m telling you, you’re just overestimating me!” said Sarles, dismissing Blain’s retort with a laugh. “In the first place, do you have any concrete evidence that I’m the culprit?”
“…Yesterday night, I destroyed one of the magic circles that was spewing out undead. There were a few idiosyncrasies with the characters sketched onto the magic circle,” Blain stared right at Sarles and continued, “and those idiosyncrasies matched the idiosyncrasies that I know you have, Sarles.”
Sarles’ frivolous expression didn’t budge an inch.
“That’s a pretty interesting find. Although, being suspected just because of that makes me feel pretty sad. Couldn’t it have been a coincidence?”
“That’s not all. After I destroyed the magic circle, I was attacked by someone wearing black from top to bottom in the school building.”
“Were you now? And then what?”
“I battled that person, and the movements they displayed bore a striking resemblance to yours.”
Blain was confident in the conclusion he arrived at.
After enrolling, Blain had frequently sparred with Sarles as a form of self-training. He had the drive to sharpen himself, and that he did.
They clashed against each other countless times over.
The weight of Sarles’ punches, the way he kicks—it was all ingrained in Blain’s mind.
“…Sarles, what were you doing last night?”
“I was sleeping in my room. I said my head hurt, didn’t I? See, I’ve got a solid alibi!”
“Unfortunately for you, that doesn’t prove anything.” Blain shook his head. “You could’ve just used a spell that reproduces your voice whenever there’s a knock on the door.”
“Surely not. I can’t even argue back if you start bringing up shit like that!”
“Yesterday night, the three of us Iron Emblem holders were called in to help out. You know that, right?”
“Yeah, cuz you told me about it, Blain.”
Blain nodded in response.
Last night, Blain returned to the dormitory with Albert and visited Sarles’ room to talk about exactly that.
“I went over to your room to let you know we got called in and asked you to come along. Why didn’t you come out of your room back then? I’m your friend, and I was trying to get in touch with you.”
“Sorry about that. My head hurt so much that I couldn’t even get up. I got a little better after getting some sleep, though.”
“…I see. You have the wrong idea, just like I thought…” muttered Blain with a sigh.
What Sarles just said proved his own lie.
“I wasn’t the one who tried to get in touch with you—it was Albert and Mr. Firvus.”
Sarles’ facial expression, which had been carefree until now, twitched for the first time. Blain had suspected that Sarles was under the wrong impression ever since their exchange last night.
—So that’s why I got a knock on my door! Sorry, I didn’t have the energy to ask what was going on!
Sarles said that and bowed his head to Blain.
That’s what someone would do if they thought Blain was the one who knocked on their door. Hence, Blain set Sarles up with that question.
“Can you explain this, Sarles?”
“Yeaaah, about that… ahahaha…” he laughed, seemingly stumped.
Sarles spread his arms together and exclaimed, “BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I APPLAUD YOU FOR CATCHING ON, MASTER DETECTIVE BLAIN! I HAD AN INKLING THAT YOU WOULD BE THE ONE TO STAND IN THE WAY OF MY GRAND SCHEMES!”
Blain withdrew the wand at his waist and pointed it at Sarles.
Moments later, a web of light unfolded around the spot where Sarles was, converging on him with the speed of a retracting rubber band.
However, the net didn’t manage to capture anyone.
“AAAAAAAAAAH! I’M SCARED! YOU’RE SCARING ME, BLAIN! HOW COULD YOU JUST FIRE OFF A SPELL AT ME?!”
Sarles had already retreated backward.
Blain tilted his head. “Didn’t you just come clean…?”
“Nonono! That was a joke! I was just kidding! That didn’t count!” said Sarles, rattling on and on like he usually did. “Here’s the thing, Blain. It’s true that I was under the wrong impression. I mistakenly thought you were the one who called out to me. But like, can you really blame me? I had a headache and I was sleeping—I wouldn’t be paying attention to whoever the hell was calling me.”
“Are you gonna let me off the hook now?”
“No, not yet.”
“HUUUH!? There’s still more to this!?”
“Take off your clothes.”
“What?” replied Sarles, stupefied. “Where the hell did that come from?! That was totally out of left field! Wait, is this a confession after all? That’s gotta be it! Sorry, but I’m—”
“Don’t try and weasel out of this. What I want to see is your left torso.”
Blain gave Sarles a sharp stare.
The smile on Sarles’ face finally faded away. “…And why’s that? Is there something of interest on my left torso?”
“When I was attacked by that man dressed in black, I punched his left torso. I know I got a solid hit in, so there should be some bruising.”
“…So what you’re saying is, my left torso’s bruised.”
“That’s right.” Blain nodded and continued, “This is to prove your innocence. Can you cooperate with me?”
“Unfortunately, I can’t do that…”
Sarles changed his stance in one smooth motion. Until now, he’d been standing upright—but now, he could immediately adapt to any change in the situation.
This was a battle stance, and he had his guard up, ready to react to anything that came his way.
Blain watched as Sarles readied for combat, feeling downtrodden.
He had spent a good portion of his time with Sarles after enrolling.
But now, it seemed like their friendship would end here.
He cast the same spell—but so was the result.
Sarles evaded the spell in the blink of an eye.
“Magic Arrow! Magic Arrow!”
Sarles countered, aiming his right hand at Blain and firing two shots of Magic Arrow.
Blain dodged in similar fashion, and the sound of shattering glass resounded from behind. Sarles converged on Blain in an instant as he was dodging.
Blain repelled Sarles’ attack.
Sarles’ movements were one-to-one with Blain’s assailant from yesterday, to the point where it made Blain depressed. Everything—from the weight of his punches to the trajectory of his kicks—was exactly the same.
Sarles stared right into Blain’s eyes and laughed. “HAHAHAHA! This is revenge for yesterday!”
Blain gasped slightly.
Revenge for yesterday.
He no longer intended to hide it.
“Bingo! You got it right! Way to go, Master Blain—!” said Sarles, broadly grinning. “I’m someone that Darkness is counting on!”
That unknown word caught Blain’s attention. Taking advantage of that split second, Sarles delivered a devastating knee strike into Blain’s stomach.
He was blown away by the impact, and he retreated to the window.
Sarles promptly closed the distance and shoved Blain’s chest toward the window.
The Magic Arrow from before must’ve broken the window, as Blain’s upper body was pushed out the window unobstructed. The shards of glass sticking from the bottom of the window stabbed into Blain’s back.
Blain’s face grimaced from the pain, and Sarles peered down on him. “Heheheh. Now then, my dearest friend Blain—I have a present for you.”
A black flame ignited on the index finger of Sarles’ right hand. “How about forming a pact with me and becoming a soldier of Darkness?”
Today’s chap. Gonna work on the next chap, thanks for reading.