“Who do you take me for!”
A high-spirited voice boomed under a clear sky.
“I am the daughter of House Archive, one of the great pillars that supports this kingdom. I am Rires d’Or Archive!”
This girl had a very eye-catching habit of placing her hand on her chest when making such boasts.
She appeared to be between 16 and 18. Her golden hair shined to the point of almost sparkling, her powerful eyes were of an almond shape with blue pupils. There was sophistication and beauty in her facial features, a girl that you could tell was high-born with a glance. Her physique was excellent, she had the kind of presence that would draw the eyes of those around her by only standing in one place.
But her most eye-catching attribute was not her perfectly shaped face, nor her symmetrical proportions that were the ideal for a lady, it was her hair.
They were vertical rolls.
Her blonde, voluminous hair was curled into vertical rolls. And it wasn’t just one or two. There were five rolls in all. Two rolls that hung past her shoulders, and three that hung behind her back. The total sum was five voluminous, vertical rolls that swung every time the girl named Rires d’Or Archive opened her mouth.
“Now, face me fair and square. Baron Laila Toha!”
Riru, the girl with the vertical rolls, was standing at the scene of a duel.
The words that she proudly shouted were also meant to rouse herself. Her hand which gripped the still sheathed rapier was trembling just a little. But as long as there were actual people in the audience, she could in no way show signs of being afraid.
After all, this duel was something that she had instigated herself. She had wagered her pride as a noble, and she would give her all in this fight.
The opponent that had to bear Riru’s reckless posturing was a black-haired and black-eyed girl of the same age.
“I don’t care whatever you may be called, really…”
It was the girl named Laila Toha who spoke between sighs.
This was a girl who had pushed her way into the academy by using her status as a Special Class Adventurer to become a noble. While it would only be for her generation, the kingdom had offered this girl the title of Baron for her achievements in the labyrinth. As someone who put great importance on the history and dignity of the noble class, Laila was like a concentration of everything that Riru hated.
But it wasn’t only that. Even if she didn’t like her, Riru would have stopped at a little bullying. She would not have challenged her to a duel where a small mistake could cost her her life.
So what did Laila do? She had charmed the prince.
Riru’s pride could not forgive the idea of a baseborn girl getting close to the top of the kingdom; the royal family. Nor the idea of an upstart getting close to her betrothed. And so she decided to rid the academy of this problem. It was the most natural thing to Riru.
But this girl just had to defy her. She’d confront her about her backbiting, evade her harassments and push back against authority with violence. And as their war began to escalate, Riru had thrown the white gloves at Laila and challenged her to a duel.
Part of it was by impulse. The rest was that the feud had started to evolve those around her, and she needed to keep up appearances.
But Riru had no intention of backing off.
“This is quite idiotic. It’s not too late to quit, you know? I don’t think any serious nobles even challenge each other to duels these days. And you don’t even have a second…”
“Silence! Do you have no concept of the pride of nobles, of the sanctity of the duel!?”
“…Right. Then I won’t bother.”
Laila answered as if she were most annoyed as she brushed her short hair to the side.
Unlike Laila who had fought and lived as an adventurer, Riru was the daughter of a noble. While she had learned some swordplay as a part of self-defense, that was basically it. She had no experience in life or death situations. This was a battle that Laila would never think she could lose, it was nothing more than a joke.
But as it was such a rare occasion, she decided to make just one request.
“If I win, you and your followers shall stop harassing me. That is my one demand. Okay?”
“Hmph. Why, you do sound as if you’ve already won!”
Riru spat as her nostrils flared.
She wasn’t sure how good Laila would be, but it wasn’t as if she could not fight herself. Or at least, so Riru thought to herself. And she was desperate to believe it.
In her heart, she was afraid.
It was she who had set up this duel. There were spectators. There were people involved with both parties surrounding them and watching. She could not leave this situation, running was unthinkable.
Riru had come all this way on momentum, but a real battle with swords was something that made her very afraid. She was afraid of the fact that she could die, it was something she wanted desperately to ignore. She couldn’t admit such a possibility to herself even as she understood that she could not pull out. So Riru had no choice but to roar and act strong.