32 – Unfair
“Sorry to keep you waiting, teacher.”
I had visited Count Orlando’s house, and was drinking tea as I waited. And then Ms. Iria appeared.
“Not at all. I’m sorry for calling on you so early.”
“No. It seems that I slept late today.”
“It’s a holiday. Oversleeping sometimes is probably good for you.”
We started with some small talk while waiting for her tea to be brought. And then I said, ‘Now, as for what I wanted to talk about…’
“Is it about Ms. Aize?”
Came the preemptive strike. I nodded, feeling a slight chill.
“I heard that you have become a special instructor for Ms. Aize.”
“Special instructor…I don’t know if…”
“No, it’s only fair. After all, you instructed me for quite some time during vacation.”
…There was something sharp in her voice. Ouch.
No, this was not a betrayal or anything…she began to say. And so I opened my mouth.
“Well, to me, it’s not really a matter of being fair or not.”
I was just one teacher. If someone asked me to teach them, I wanted to do it.
However, it was also true that learning about Ms. Aize’s circumstances had made me sympathetic as well.
“…In that case, what if I asked you to train me as well?”
“Of course, I will. In fact, it’s what I have been trying to tell you, and had to resort to visiting directly.”
She thought about this for a moment, then placed her chin on her hand and sighed.
“You really are indecisive, aren’t you, teacher?”
“What do you mean!?”
I protested in surprise. She chuckled and said, ‘I’m joking.’
“…Teacher. Aren’t you going to blame me?”
“I know about Ms. Aize’s circumstances as well. Probably more than you. …But even then, I am not going to just hand over the victory.”
Her eyes were serious.
Regardless of circumstances, she was not going to hold back.
“I see no problem with that.”
Iria’s eyes widened, and I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Indeed, I also thought that Ms. Aize had so much more at stake.
However, while it may sound cold, it had nothing to do with Ms. Iria.
And so I was not going to tell her to just give up.
“I doubt Ms. Aize wants you to do anything less than your best. Besides, it would be a disgrace to your sword. It would be one thing if it was your own wish, but if it is not, then I would never agree to it.”
“…You don’t find me repulsive? When I know…”
Ms. Aize’s goal was to win the tournament. Even if Ms. Iria allowed herself to be defeated, the others would not do the same.
Both Ms. Iria and Ms. Aize understood that.
“Besides, even if you did win against her, and she is unable to accomplish her goal…”
That was not the end.
“If she really means it, then there must be other ways.”
In the corner of my words, I added the force of a blade.
Yes, by force, it would be very easy.
Not for Ms. Aize or Ms. Iria, of course. But when it came to nobles and the government, well, it had nothing to do with me.
Of course, not right now.
That would be like throwing all of Ms. Aize’s passion into the mud.
However, were she to really want my help. I would surely do it. Not just for her, but for myself as well. I could not just watch her fail.
Even if it caused trouble for Ms. Iria and the Count. …I would then do what I could to make amends for that, no matter how long it took. Of course, I would prefer to not cause any trouble for them.
“…You don’t play fair, teacher.”
“Yes, you are sly.”
—If only I had such power.
She whispered so quietly, but I did not miss it.
(…Why did she pursue power to this degree?)
That was something I could not ask her. However, I could not stop the question from welling up inside of me.
Humans had an instinct to pursue power.
Their very nature wanted it more than anything.
Power could take various forms. It wasn’t always physical. Money and authority were fundamentally the same.
I could not deny that. I was like that as well.
Ever since I was taken in by the old man’s ‘power.’
However, her wish was more different—it must come from ‘something.’
As she looked down, my hand touched her head.
She raised her face in surprise.
…Ah, damn it.
She had looked like a lost child, and I couldn’t help but want to comfort her.
I pulled my hand back and looked up at the ceiling while muttering, ‘Uhh…’
Well, what did it matter?
“Let’s become stronger.”
In the end, that was all that I could say.
I didn’t know what she was hiding. Whether it was right or wrong. Perhaps the day would come when I would regret it.
Still, if she wanted strength, then I would help her.
“If you are in doubt, believe in your own sword. And if there are times when you can’t believe it, believe in me, who believes in your sword.”
Her sword really was straight, earnest and pure.
It was because it was such a sword, that I allowed myself to get so involved, perhaps.
Just like I had been taken in by the old man’s sword, I was probably taken in by hers.
“I don’t know how much I can do, but I will lend you a hand.”
“…Teacher. It really isn’t fair.”
As I looked puzzled, she smiled sadly.
This time, I really didn’t understand what she meant by that.