The bell rang, signifying the start of lunch break.
“Dammit…! Because of you we have to perform needless manual labour.”
Raishin was grumbling while using a mop to clean up. Although he was grumbling, he was dutifully cleaning the great hall, an action which could either be attributed to integrity or a refusal to quit once he had started something.
Yaya was still sobbing. It seemed like she was still affected by the snide remark earlier.
“That’s enough crying. Was Professor Kimberly’s sarcasm that much of a shock to you?”
“Uu… Raishin is an idiot.”
“That was unexpected. Well, it’s not like I can disagree with that statement.”
Tidying up the cleaning equipment, they left the great hall— or rather, he did so, but Yaya obstinately remained inside unmoving, continuing to sniffle instead.
Raishin was at his wits end. He sighed loudly.
Grabbing on to Yaya’s hand,
“Come on, cheer up. Let’s go grab something to eat.”
Raishin led a now cheerful Yaya by the hand, and this time they did exit the great hall.
Outside the great hall, students were already thronging the main street.
A large volume of students spilled out from the various buildings and lecture halls.
Most of them were headed towards the centre of the main street, where the cafeteria was located. The sight of so many people heading towards a single location made Raishin think they were heading towards a demonstration or starting an insurrection.
Going with the flow, Raishin and Yaya moved with the crowd. Receiving gazes from the surrounding people, after a walking a while they saw a modern looking building, one side of which was completely made up of glass.
“So that’s the rumoured steel reinforced concrete, huh? It looks very different from the dining hall in the dormitory.”
Entering, the difference became even more distinct.
Firstly, the ceiling was high up. White tables with modern designs were lined up in rows inside a bright and spacious environment, making it look very hygienic and clean.
As Raishin had exited a lecture for the first time today, it went without saying that this was his first time at the cafeteria as well.
While standing there like an idiot, a delicious smell wafted over and he turned towards its direction.
Jutting out from the wall, directly outside the kitchen, huge quantities of food were lined up in a row. Large plates and metal cutlery were stacked up next to an assortment of meat dishes, fish dishes, salads and a selection of breads.
The students had queued up in a line, loading their massive plates with the food.
This was a different system than the dormitory. In the dining hall of the dormitory, you’d select an item from the menu, and then eat whatever you got.
“Look, Yaya. Everyone’s just helping themselves to the food.”
“Can we just take what we want, then?”
“Looks like it. I don’t really get how this works, but when in Rome…”
Hunger and a lack of sleep were clouding his judgment. Not thinking any deeper about the situation, Raishin joined the tail of the line. Even here he was the centre of attention, but it was a regular occurrence by now and so he ignored it. Grabbing a tray, he placed a plate atop it and started helping himself to the food.
As he advanced, the head of the queue came into sight, and Raishin finally realised his mistake.
There was a cash register at the end of the queue!
Nimbly operating the register, a lady was receiving bits of paper from the students.
“I have to pay!?”
Raishin was mortified. He wasn’t expecting money to change hands. Then again, it should have been obvious. Even the food expenses in the dormitory were under a separate account from the basic lodging fee.
Getting a bad feeling in his gut, Raishin turned around and stretched out his hand.
“Yaya, hand me my wallet.”
“It’s in the dormitory locker.”
“… So you have nothing?”
“… What are we going to do now?”
While the exchange occurred, the line advanced steadily onward. To go against the flow of traffic now would be weird, not to mention returning the food back to where it came from. To do so would violate common etiquette, something even a foreigner like Raishin knew.
“… Do you think they’d let me put it on my tab?”
“There’s no such thing as a tab here. You really, reaaaalllly are the biggest blockhead ever.”
An extremely thorny voice flew over from behind him.
Turning around, he saw the familiar face of a girl standing two students behind him.
Gorgeous golden hair, blue eyes, and her trademark dragon companion.
“Don’t address me with such familiarity. You should address me as Miss Belew.”
Had she always been this close? Raishin wondered. Today it seemed her gaze was fiercer than usual; however it looked like she wasn’t glaring daggers at Raishin, but rather, the girl standing behind him.
The two boys sandwiched between them turned pale, and offered to let Charlotte move ahead in the line. Charl gave a curt “Thank you.”, and walked over towards Raishin.
Rummaging through her pocket, she took out three one pound notes—
And handed them to Raishin.
This was an unexpected action. Raishin was taken aback, but to turn down the offer would be crass of him. Politely lowering his lead, he gratefully accepted the money.
“Sorry for the trouble.”
“Say ‘thank you very much’ properly.”
After paying for both his and Yaya’s portions, he exited the queue. Waiting after he had paid at the register, Charl followed after and wordlessly thrust a notebook in his face.
It was an excessively elegant notebook, and there was something written in it.
Because it had been scribbled quickly, he couldn’t read it. Raishin turned to Yaya for help, and she read it aloud in a small voice,
“I will pay Charlotte Belew four pounds.”
“It’s an IOU. If you value your life, you’ll sign it.”
“Are you trying to rob me? And why is there interest?”
“Of course there’s interest. There’s no need for me to feed a pervert like you for free after all.”
“Don’t call me a pervert. And fine, I’ll pay you back four pounds.”
While Raishin struggled to sign his name with alphabets he wasn’t used to,
“How’re you feeling, Sigmund?”
A little surprised, the small dragon resting on top of Charlotte’s cap raised his head.
“I’m fine. It was just a light scratch.”
“That’s good to hear. There you go, Charl.”
He returned the notebook. “What’s this horrible scrawl?” went Charl, but she seemed satisfied enough that Raishin had signed it, and moved to walk away from them.
“Wait. Since you’re already here, let’s eat together.”
Both Yaya and Charl exclaimed. It must have been a great shock, for the plate on Yaya’s tray started to rattle, and Charl almost dropped her pasta and chicken.
Charl’s mouth wordlessly opened and closed, like a goldfish.
Then the slits of her eyes were raised in indignation.
“I refuse. Why would I want to dine with a pervert like you?”
“Don’t be like that. Aren’t we comrade in arms who’ve fought beside each other?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. That was because you selfishly— speaking of which, in the first place you were the insolent pervert that challenged me to battle. Why would I ever dine with a man like that..? Ah I get it. Putting it simply, you must be an idiot. An idiot with a death wish. A sorry, pitiful excuse of a man.”
She was being very blunt. Charl continued her verbal assault with Raishin unable to get a word in edgewise.
However, he didn’t give up. He followed after Charl with a nonchalant look on his face, taking the fact that she didn’t try to escape as a good sign, and sat down on a seat opposite her.
Charl stared at him dumbfounded, but she didn’t say a thing, relapsing into a silent frown. Grabbing her fork, she stabbed viciously at her tomato pasta.
It was obviously she had been thrown off her rhythm. Raishin was left wondering how to deal with this awkward situation.
Sigmund saw none of this as his concern, and started to chomp away at his chicken with gusto.
Yaya had gone into a dark silence. She hadn’t even touched her sandwich, radiating an unsettling presence instead. However Raishin just ignored her and started talking to Charl.
“Why have you gone silent? Does your stomach hurt or something?”
“… I’m really astounded. Does your impudence know no bounds? Even your nerves are as idiotic as you. Besides, I’m keeping quiet because I’m bored. As a man, shouldn’t you be the one creating conversations that arouse my interest?”
“Oh? So you’re saying you want to be turned on?”
“What… grrr…. Sigmund! Destroy this idiot this instant!”
“Calm down Charl. Let me finish my chicken first.”
“Be quiet, or starting tomorrow I’ll feed you nothing but dog food. Now hurry up and—“
Mid-sentence, she noticed a change in Raishin.
His eyes were fixed on something on the opposite side of the glass wall, like he was trying to devour it with his eyes.
“Hey. Did something just happen?”
However, Raishin didn’t reply.—He didn’t have the composure to reply.
Charl pouted in a huff,
“Ignore me? You’re just going to ignore me? Just who do you think you are, you rude fellow!”
He couldn’t tear his eyes away. Raishin’s eyeballs followed after that figure.
He had a silver mask, and was draped in a black cloak. He struck a gallant figure, but at the same time, had an air of composure around him as he walked.
For a brief moment, a horrifying sight flashed before his eyes.