A single paved road ran through the academy grounds in a north-south direction.
This road was known as the main street. It was the artery of the academy which connected the various lecture-halls and auditoriums, the eight dormitory buildings, as well as the dining hall together. During lunch break, students could be seen crowding the road.
It was a clear and sunny Monday. As expected, the streets were crowded with students during today’s lunch break as well.
Rather abruptly, the bustle subsided.
A wave of nervous fear spread through the crowd, the students turning around one after another to look at the source.
Behind them, a lone girl was approaching, her beautiful golden hair fluttering behind her.
She had graceful features, and her body was well-proportioned. She was such a beautiful girl that you could almost see the air around her sparkle, but she had a sour look on her face, which ruined her elfish beauty. A hostile aura was emanating from her, like she was some sort of ferocious beast.
A small dragon, no bigger than a cat, was resting on top of the hat she was wearing.
It couldn’t be called anything other than a dragon. Its head resembled a cross between a lizard and a crocodile, but the expression on its face was more noble and refined. There were two horns growing on its forehead, and its body structure resembled that of a feline. It had four wings across its back, so rather than saying they resembled a bird’s wings it would be better to say they were similar to a butterfly’s. Its whole body was covered in steel-coloured scales.
“It’s like Moses parting the Red Sea.”
The dragon on her hat spoke. It had a surprisingly low voice for its size.
Like the dragon had said, a path in front of the girl was opening up, the sea of people in front of her rapidly and neatly splitting into two.
“Everyone’s scared of you.”
“Hmph. That’s what usually happens.”
“Casually stating this as ‘usual’, that’s the problem right there. Even you were Cannibal Candy’s true identity, the level of fear you inspire wouldn’t be as great as the level you do now.”
At that moment, a male student fell over in front of her, having seemingly stumbled over something.
Noticing the girl, he began to shake violently.
“Aaa, ah I’m sorry! Don’t kill me, please!”
He scrambled away in a hurry. His fleeing visage was much like that of someone who had run into a bear. The girl pouted.
“You’re right, it does seem a little unreasonable. How can people be that scared of me?”
“Because you ARE that scary. You’re the girl who, having barely stepped foot into the academy, sent five seniors to the hospital.”
“I was just punishing them for their insolence. They might have been trying to invite me to join their club or whatever, but since they were a little too touchy-feely for my liking, I felt my body was in danger, and so…”
“Then there was that time when you shoved your room mate out the window.”
“That was force majeure (1). That girl tried to sneak into the bathroom and because that irked me— I mean, to protect a maiden’s secrets, I had to do it.”
“Would you also call the destruction of the anatomy laboratory room because you didn’t want to touch a frog force majeure as well? The professor cried over losing so many valuable specimens, you know.”
“And how about that time where you panicked because of a wasp, and ended up setting fire to the whole garden?”
“Quiet, Sigmund. If you don’t shut up now, I’ll change your chicken to chickpeas.”
“I’m not a bird, Charl. Chickpeas alone will not sustain my body.”
The blonde girl— Charl made no effort to hide her irritation as she strode on with large steps.
However, the dragon didn’t give up, and continued on.
“How about making some friends? I think the reaction from people around you would change as well.”
“Everyone here in the academy is an enemy. They’re all obstacles in the way of the Wiseman’s throne. I have no intention of becoming familiar with anyone of them.”
“That sort of attitude will cause you to remain alone. You’ll never get a boyfriend at this rate. Are you fine with being unpopular for the rest of your life?”
“Who’re you calling unpopular? There’s no way all the men in the world can resist such a cute girl like me. Even now they approach me in droves, much like common houseflies swarming over a rafflesia flower.”
“While a rafflesia is a perfect name for you— someone who people hold their noses and flee from—I have serious doubts over boys flocking to you. Doing whatever you feel like doing, there’s no way a stubborn donkey like you could ever— Oh, I stand corrected. It looks like you have drawn in a fly after all. Although it looks like he has someone tagging along with him already.”
Raising a forelimb, the dragon pointed ahead. Charl looked over, and standing right in the middle of the opened path was a strange pair.
One of them was a youth. He was wearing what looked like a military issue harness on top of his uniform, which was worn out of shape. The harness seemed to act as a replacement for a holster, being packed full of magic tools like magic stones and amulets, as well as a knife and a torchlight. He had a sharp glint in his eye, and his body was sharp and angular.
The other was a girl. She wasn’t wearing a school uniform. Instead, she was wearing a splendid outfit, probably a kimono. She had seen it before in one of those weird paintings, called an Ukiyoe(2) or something. She was short and had a small face, like she was a doll— no, Charl was ninety-nine percent sure she was an automaton.
In any case, both had faces which she had never seen before.
While her eye was turned by the intricate craftsmanship of the automaton, the youth had brazenly spoken.
“Lady Charlotte Belew, I presume.”
He spoke his lines like he was acting in a play, and had an arrogant smile on his face. To label him a handsome person outright… would be difficult, but from his overall looks, there was no denying he had an oriental charm to him.
“Sophomore year in the academy, a member of the Rounds, who comprise the top thirteen people in the Night Party. London bookmakers have you at three-to-one on winning it, which means you’re one of the leading candidates for the Wiseman’s throne.”
He smoothly recited Charl’s profile.
“Registration Code Tyrant Rex. I guess you really are like a fearsome dragon.”
He finished in a mocking voice. However the look in his eyes was sharp in contrast, staring at Charl’s hand— or more precisely, his gaze was fixed on her glove. Made of silk, it shimmered under the light; the words [Tyrant Rex] had been woven into the pearl-white glove with gold thread. This glove was special, only participants in the Night Party were issued one.
Just who is this rude, ill-mannered boy?
Charl frowned petulantly, staring at the youth.
“Since you know that much, what are you planning? What do you want with me?”
“Hand over your entry qualification.”
She was dumbfounded by this statement. For a brief moment, she couldn’t comprehend what he had just said.
“… Are you challenging me to a battle?”
“No. Consider this more of an advance notice.”
Charl sighed deeply.
“Are you an idiot? Or perhaps— you must really want to die.”
She radiated a killing aura, cold as ice.
Instilling fear in the surrounding people, the students hurriedly retreated from the scene.
Thus, rather abruptly, the lunch break on campus turned into a battleground.