After Sigmund had flown away, Raishin remained standing where he was for a moment.
He looked up into the tree where Yaya was. She was perched on a branch with one hand over her brow, staring far into the distance.
“How’s it, Yaya?”
“I’m sorry, Raishin. I do not see them anywhere anymore.”
Raishin tilted his head slightly. Considering Sigmund’s massive body, he stood out like a sore thumb. Theoretically, the number of places where he could hide himself should be limited, right…?
“Alright, in that case let’s search for them on foot.”
Lightly landing on the ground, Yaya looked up at Raishin with a difficult expression on her face.
“But Yaya isn’t allowed outside school grounds…”
“Don’t worry. We’re only going to be searching within the academy.”
“— So you really think Charlotte is inside the academy after all?”
“If she escaped to somewhere far away, her flight would be noticed by someone for sure. Since she disappeared so quickly, it means she must have landed somewhere nearby.”
“But what if she was using a magic art to conceal her presence, like Komurasaki’s Yaegasumi?”
“Of course, I’m aware of that possibility. However, if that’s the case…”
“… If that’s the case?”
“Then it’s hopeless. We won’t be able to do anything.”
If she was hiding outside the school, the field of search would widen and there would be too much ground for him to cover alone. Therefore, he was betting on the probability that she was still inside the academy.
Just as he started to walk off, Raishin suddenly scanned the surroundings with a sharp look in his eyes.
“Raishin? What’s the matter?”
“… I thought someone was… No, it’s nothing. Let’s go.”
With Yaya in tow, he ran off in the direction Sigmund had flown.
Raishin didn’t even stop to eat as several hours passed as they continued their search.
Even after dusk had fallen, they continued to search for any traces of Sigmund by the light of a lamp. Considering Sigmund’s massive body, the ground would be disturbed and grass would be trampled when he transformed.
However, they were unable to find even a single trace.
Yaya looked up at the night sky, before worriedly turning around to face Raishin.
“Raishin… It’s time.”
She had a drowsy expression in her eyes, and was forcefully trying to keep her eyelids open.
“Are you tired?”
“No. Yaya is a puppet built by Shouko, so my body’s sturdier than Raishin.”
She laughed in panic. However, Raishin knew she was actually quite feeble.
“… Ok, let’s return to the Night Party then. Sorry, but I’ll be counting on you for this as well.”
“Ok. Leave it to Yaya.”
She nodded, relieved. So she really was tired after all.
Raishin looked up at the sky, using the position of the stars to navigate. With the loss of the clock tower, he could no longer pinpoint his exact location, and he found it inconvenient.
“This way. We better hurry, it’s going to be eleven soon.”
“Tonight the 87th seat enters the fight. Do you think Frey will have defeated him by now?”
“We’ll find out when we get there.”
Exiting out from the grove of trees, he found himself facing a well maintained garden. Cutting across it, he headed north along the main street.
Along the way, he spotted the remains of the clock tower.
Even though it was this late, a large number of students had gathered around it. The mountain of rubble had been cordoned off with a rope, and disciplinary committee members were keeping watch over the site. There also quite a few normal students mixed in with them.
The students were standing there, dumfounded. Looking closer, he spotted a few female students crying as well.
It was like a funeral. As an outside, Raishin didn’t get it, but even then it was clear to him that this wasn’t just an ordinary clock tower. Most likely, this had been the symbol of the academy.
With complicated feelings in his chest, he passed by them.
Shortly after, he passed by the medicine and law faculties, reaching the field of battle.
The gas lights lighting up the place were dazzlingly bright, but as expected of the current time, the gallery was sparsely filled. The Stonehenge like field of battle was completely deserted though.
“Frey isn’t here. Did she leave already?”
“Who knows? Don’t let your guard down though, during the Night Party, we’re both enemies to each other.”
Yaya frowned uneasily, looking at Raishin with upturned eyes.
“Raishin… if we were to fight Frey now…”
“Yeah, I know, it would be tough. I’m still worn out because someone attacked me during the afternoon.”
“Uu…” Yaya fell silent at that. She looked like she felt responsible for that, and visibly deflated.
Normally, Frey was accompanied by her thirteen Garm-types. During a battle though, she’d just control five. Raishin was still unable to fully grasp the Sonic magic circuit, so if they did end up fighting, there was a legitimate danger that he would be knocked out.
Having said that though, it was inevitable that they would have to clash someday.
Eavesdropping on the scraps of conversation in the gallery, he vaguely understood the situation. Tonight’s guest of honour— the 87th seat still hadn’t shown up.
“Second Last has entered the field of battle at 10:55pm.”
In a booming voice not unlike an opera singer, the female executive committee member announced his entrance.
Standing in the middle of the field, he waited for his opponent to arrive while the night wind continued to blow.
Who was the 87th seat? He couldn’t remember.
He realised he should have done his homework on the enemy. Usually, if Charl was here, she would feed him information about his opponent without fail.
(It’s almost like she’s my manager or something…)
Charl had a list of all the Night Party entrants, with detailed information on all hundred participants.
With a start, he suddenly realised Yaya’s eyes were like a bottomless lake as she stared up at him.
“Raishin… You were thinking about Charlotte…”
“How did you know?”
Yaya didn’t answer, giving him a smile instead.
Raishin was surprised. What was with that smile? It was beyond scary.
He waited in fear— no, irritation for an hour.
In the end, the 87th seat didn’t appear, and it became midnight.
Since the clock tower was destroyed, there was no chime of the bell. A student from the executive committee rung a hand held bell to signal the end of the contest. Raishin relaxed, his tension dissipating.
The students in the gallery yawned as they departed. Giving a sidelong glance to the executive committee members who were cleaning up the area, Yaya breathed a sigh of relief.
“It’s a good thing nothing happened in the end. Raishin, you should hurry back to the dorm and rest.”
“No. I’m not going back yet.”
While saying that, he started walking.
“Eh? Please wait a minute. Where are you going?”
“Well, there’s a girl I want to see before I go to bed.”
There was a weird snapping sound as Yaya suddenly ceased all movement.
“Wait… Yaya? It’s not what you think, ok? I just wanted to make it sound cool— Wait! Calm down!“
His eyes widened rapidly. Before Yaya could do anything to him, Raishin broke into a dash, sprinting away from danger.