It was half past three. It was a little before classes were scheduled to end.
Although he still had a lecture remaining, he had skipped out of class at Charl’s insistence.
Seeing him covered in fresh bruises, he had seemingly gotten out of nowhere, Charl eyed him suspiciously.
“Why are you all beat up? Did you have a scuffle with a lion or something?”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just Diana(1) being jealous.”
“Such an incomprehensible man.”
‘You’re the incomprehensible one,’ he thought. Thanks to Charl’s whim, Yaya was clearly in a bad mood. Even now her pupils were unnaturally wide, and as dark as a bottomless lake.
“Well whatever. Come with me.”
Charl lead the way, walking out of the lecture hall. As usual, Sigmund was riding atop her hat. Wagging his tail left and right, it made him look oddly adorable.
After exiting, Charl continued walking without stopping for a break. Leaving the main street, they searched behind the technical vocations building, inside the grove, and in the backyard.
No matter where they searched, the only constant was more walking. Even though they chose paths with no signs of anyone traversing them, they found nothing.
All too quickly, two unproductive hours passed.
Street lights in the vicinity had been lit, and the setting sun had disappeared behind the walls.
With Yaya releasing killing intent, the situation was becoming unsettling.
Charl looked like she wasn’t going to give up yet. Arriving at a deserted path where the remnants of an automaton had been discovered the night before, she gave him an order that reeked of false pride behind it.
“Raishin, walk back and forth along this path ten— no, twenty times.”
“… Is this some sort of charm?”
“Don’t be absurd. It’s obvious you’re going to be a decoy.”
Her answer was as he expected. Fed up, Raishin let out a sigh.
“Even if Cannibal Candy does appear, it’ll be ok since I’ll defeat it. So just relax and let yourself be attacked. Now go!”
“I refuse. Besides, Cannibal Candy only comes out in the middle of the night.”
“— Where did you hear that from?”
The source was the disciplinary committee. Yaya had translated the documents that Lisette had passed to him, and that was how Raishin had come into possession of that particular bit of information.
According to the documents, Cannibal Candy was only active from midnight till dawn.
Furthermore, he had never attacked automatons two days in succession before.
In other words, whatever Charl was planning to do was practically useless.
“That’s just what the normal people believe. It’s because of that biased way of thinking that the disciplinary committee and security haven’t been able to produce results. It’s not necessarily true that he won’t start attacking in successive days, or not appear at this time.”
“… That’s another way of looking at it, I guess.”
Raishin scratched his head, deeply troubled. Charl was extremely fired up about this. At this rate, she would force him to search with her till the next morning.
It looked like he wasn’t going to be able to make her give up. Devising a plan, he decided to approach the problem from a different angle.
“By the way, didn’t you say we were going out on a date?”
Charl stared at him blankly,
“Aren’t we on it right now?”
“Don’t be stupid. There’s no way something like this can be considered a date.”
“S-stupid? You called me stupid? When you point fingers at someone, four of them point back at you!”
“I get it. Simply put, you don’t have any friends, do you?
“What— I— you—“
“You’ve barely made my acquaintance, and yet you have no one else you can go to for help so you had to ask me.”
He hit the nail on its head. Ever so slightly, tears formed in Charl’s eyes.
“Don’t act so smug. I don’t need to take your know-it-all attitude, you pervert!”
“Let’s go on a date— tricking me into wasting time and energy with such sweet words, forcing me to walk such a great distance I almost crossed the Sanzu River, and denouncing me as a pervert. You really are a piece of work for a lady.”
“I was only trying to help you. It’s my way of showing thanks, accusing me of other stuff is uncalled for.”
“Huh, so you knew about me taking Felix up on his offer?”
She fell silent. It appeared she did know. She had probably overheard it from somewhere or another.
If that was the case, then—
Raishin stole a glance at Yaya. To be honest, he was reluctant to do what he was about to…
“That’s enough of playing detective. It’s time to properly start the date.”
Charl stiffened up upon hearing Raishin’s words. Yaya froze as well.
“Don’t speak such nonsense so freely. I’m a busy person, and I don’t have the time to play around with you.”
“Weren’t you the one who said ‘Let’s go on a date.’? Or is the Belew household a family that reneges on their words?”
He hit her where it hurt. Charl’s shoulders shook with vexation.
“F… fine. Let’s go somewhere then.”
“Good. In that case, let’s go into the city.”
“The city— you mean outside the academy…?”
“Obviously. Since the sun has already set, there’s nothing to do inside the academy.”
A panicked look crept into her eyes. Suddenly becoming very hesitant, she looked down at her feet.
“But if we go into the city, then Sigmund…”
“You idiot. Since we’re going on a date, our automatons won’t accompany us.”
“Uu… Sigmund, say something!”
“Hm. I’m not that thoughtless.”
Spreading his four wings, he flew up from Charl’s head.
“This is a good chance. Enjoy yourself.”
It felt like he’d received her guardian’s consent; Raishin forcibly grabbed hold of Charl’s hand, pulling her along as they walked out of the academy.
(1): Diana is written with the kanji for Moon Goddess, in reference to Yaya being the Moon part of the Setsugetsuka series.