“Magic is a combination of both consciousness and intelligence. Therefore, an unconscious puppeteer will be unable to release magical energy. Although, in the case of Bandolls, since they have human parts in them, it is not impossible for them to generate magic energy themselves—”
The light voice droning on was accompanied by the sounds of chalk on the blackboard.
After lunch, drowsiness was assailing Raishin. Just as he stifled a yawn, the lecturer turned around and threw the chalk at him.
The tears made his vision blurry, so Raishin’s reflexes were slowed. The chalk hit him spectacularly right in the forehead.
“Raishin! Are you ok?!”
Throwing her pencil aside, Yaya rubbed his forehead.
“As usual, you sure have some guts, Second Last. Not only did you not bring your texts, you had the cheek to turn up late, and now you’re not paying attention in my class.”
The owner of the voice was an intelligent-looking and beautiful woman standing behind the lectern, dressed in white. Her head hair was swept upwards, and she was wearing a pair of silver-rimmed glasses. It was Raishin’s homeroom professor, the head of the machine physics department Kimberly.
Her cold stare could be felt from behind the lenses.
“All the participants in the Night Party have excellent grades… all but you, the only person to earn entry via winning a battle. Consequently, your academic ability is severely behind the rest of them. For the sake of such a pitiful boy, someone has crammed all the important parts of the 1st year syllabus, and in fact, you should be kissing the feet of the genius who condensed the syllabus— who is this someone you should be thanking?”
“I owe everything to Professor Kimberly.”
“The Night Party starts tomorrow. Are you sure you have the time to be playing around? I don’t wish to nag you, but you could at least be a little more serious about this.”
Kimberly was strict, but the tone in her voice was light. That she would be teaching a tedious subject like this was strange. It was very shocking.
Unable to keep silent anymore, Raishin opened his mouth.
“Even if you say that, the Night Party is conducted via the use of Machinart. Practically, isn’t an idiot like me, as well as those honour students from the Rounds under the same starting conditions?”
The glasses on Kimberly’s face slid down. They revealed a shocked look on her face.
“Is it possible… you actually have no idea? Wasn’t it taught to you in guidance class?”
“It may or may not have been, but because of a combination of anxiety and lack of sleep— I lost to the sleep demon.”
“Oh boy… I think this was mentioned earlier, but the academy functions on complete meritocracy. If not, there’s no way a young and vivacious woman like me could be able to become a professor.”
“Vivacious is such an obsolete word, it shows just how old you actually are.”
The chalk flew at him once again. Raishin hurriedly raised his hand to block it.
“The Night Party is also a meritocratic world. The smarter ones get better treatment, and the slower ones will get the short end of the stick. The 100th seat, or in other words, the lowest entrant is quite frankly, the harshest placement of all. For example, the order of battle.
“Order? I thought the Night Party was a battle royale?”
“No. It’s a royal rumble.”
He had heard the phrase before. In the past, when magicians fought in battle, in order to increase the excitement for the spectators, this unique style of fighting was invented.
“On the first night, the 100th seat— in other words, you, and the 99th seat will do battle.”
He would be abruptly thrust into battle. So then, his opponent would be Frey?
“If one party manages to steal the other party’s glove, the fight ends there. Whatever happens, the 98th seat will join the battle the next day. Then the 97th seat. Every night, a new opponent will enter the battlefield. There won’t be any time to rest.”
“So, it’ll be constantly a 1 on 1 fight?”
“That’s not necessarily so. There’s a time limit to every battle. Look at that clock tower over there. You have until it hits midnight to fight. If there’s no conclusion to the battle by then,”
“—The battle will be considered to have reached the next day.”
Kimberly nodded. So that was the essence of the Night Party. As a struggle for survival, the state of the battlefield would be chaotic. It was even possible that the lower ranks might band together to take out a higher rank…
Raishin thought for a moment,
“Then, is it possible to just evade everyone till the last night, and fight the Marshal without wasting any effort?”
“I’ve said it before, the Night Party is a meritocratic world. The first fight between the 100th and the 99th seat— their situation might look the same at first glance, but they’re not on equal terms.”
It was an enigmatic answer. What did she mean?
“It is possible for the 99th seat to sabotage you.”
“But, I won’t have that right.”
“Yes. You’ll have to be on the field for at least an hour. … well, there are exceptions to this too, but you don’t have to worry about it for now.”
“I think I’ve got it. So when the next day comes, the 98th seat has the right to avoid battling—“
“The 99th seat only has the right to sabotage you. The higher rank you are, the more priority you’re given over the rest. There are no limits to what you can do to sabotage others, after all.”
“Question. Is it possible for the 99th seat to avoid fighting me till the very last moment?”
“That scenario isn’t ideal. The Night Party doesn’t just last for a single night. If you’re fighting with someone from a higher rank, and a lower rank suddenly cuts in, what do you think will happen?”
“It’d be 2 on 1… Depending on the situation, it could become disastrous.”
“In theory, the lower ranks will try to eliminate each other on the night they appear. By doing so, they can preserve the 1 on 1 condition.”
If that was true, then certainly, Raishin’s existence was a potential stumbling block to Frey. Fighting with someone from an upper seat, if Raishin was darting about the place, she wouldn’t be able to focus fully on the fight, and there was nothing more dangerous than that.
In that case, like Charl said, Frey was scheming to assassinate Raishin because she wanted him out of the way?
Frey was timid and weak, not vicious and cunning. He couldn’t imagine her killing people because she had the aim of becoming the Wiseman. Or perhaps, she had a reason for wanting to go that far…?
Lost in a sea of thought, the sound of the bell ringing broke his concentration.
“That’s the bell for the end of class. Oh boy, all that worthless chatter has eaten up so much of our time. Study the rest on your own, and compile a summarised report for me. At least 30 pages.”
Slamming the texts on the table, Kimberly turned and left quickly. He could only stare at the retreating figure bitterly.
“30 pages… Is she serious?”
Raishin turned pale as he stared at the borrowed texts. He had to read all these written in English? And then summarise it in 30 pages?
“… Speaking of which, because of all the time wasted on idle chatter today, we didn’t finish covering the texts, didn’t we? Even if I tried my best it’d still be quite useless right?”
“Cheer up Raishin. Yaya will help with the reports.”
“Yeah… I’ll be relying on you then, Yaya. A lot.”
Feeling a lot like crying, he reached out for the texts. On the other hand, now that Raishin was relying on her, Yaya closed her notebook happily.
Departing from the school building, they walked on a small path back to the dormitories. Because of the heat of the sunset, they walked under the shade of the trees, their figures blending in with the darkness.
While walking, Raishin muttered like he was talking out loud to himself.
“… Brother and sister, huh.”
“Yes. I’m sure that Irori will be an excellent sister-in-law to Raishin, and vice versa. <3”
“I could care less about your perverted fantasies. I’m not thinking about that, I’m thinking about the two from this afternoon.”
Hearing the words “I could care less” made Yaya depressed. However, she quickly recovered.
“Are you talking about Frey and Loki?”
“They don’t resemble each other at all. Their presence is totally different from each other.”
“No. They resemble each other alright.”
Strength and weakness. At first glance, Loki and Frey possessed two contradicting expressions, but the two were strangely similar. There was no life in their eyes, and they both never smiled.
“If they’re siblings, why can’t they get along with each other?”
Realising her slip of the tongue, Yaya quickly sank into low spirits. Her voice was choked like she was crying.
“Sorry… Yaya shouldn’t have…”
“Idi-ot. What are you feeling down about?”
Resting his hand on her head, he smiled at her as he always did.
“Even siblings will have things that happen to them. Or perhaps, things will happen because they’re siblings.”
“And also, once you lose one, you understand some things too.”
With that, Raishin sank into silence, deep in thought.
Yaya trotted lightly in front, and turning to face Raishin, looked up at the person she had feelings for.
“Raishin… are you interested in that?”
“Open your eyes! Those are just lumps of fat!”
“Not her chest! She said she was going to assassinate me, remember? I’m interested in why she said so.”
“Lies! Look into Yaya’s eyes and say that.”
“I’ll say it as many times as you wish. I have no interest in those balloons… on her chest at all.”
“You looked away! You did! You did!”
“No you idiot, that was because, uh, the sunlight was on— I mean in my eyes.”
‘”You’re fumbling with your words~!”
Having his neck wrung was unbearable. Raishin hurriedly ran for the safety of his room.