SS2 – Their Youth I
—I wake up to the sound of the alarm.
The same ceiling as always. And yet, I rubbed my eyes over and over, and touched my chest, which was beating loudly.
It was as if all of the excitement and passion from yesterday was still there.
Suddenly, I realized that my hand was clutching onto something tightly, and I looked down.
It was my glove. Yes, I had been holding it when I fell asleep. As if to prove that what I saw yesterday was real. Not a phantom.
I got up from my bed and headed to my desk… And there it was, the glimmering, golden trophy.
The corner of my mouth rose into a grin.
—The Combat Technique Tournament. Student battle…Martial Arts division. Champion.
Like that, her morning began with a blissful smile, so different from usual.
There was nothing like a cafeteria in the dormitory of the Viskinel Military Academy. But that was never a problem.
There was a shop, dining hall, and a fancy cafe in the main building. The cafe was part of the library, in fact. So that you could read books while you rested.
And in this cafe, a single female student held a cup of coffee in one hand as she let out an exasperated sigh.
“…Fae. You know, you’re the only one who eats so much here in the morning.”
The girl looked puzzled as she held her fork. Fae Ysia had short hair that was the color of a peach. And in front of her, there was a row of cakes. Though, a stack of empty plates showed that she had been eating more than a little already.
“You got some on your mouth…”
Tory Suzumiya said as she wiped Fae’s lips. She had dark eyes and hair and wore frameless glasses.
The two were good friends, and would often eat together like this. After all, they were both in the same club. The Board Game Club.
As for who was better when it came to the games, it was Tory. However, there were times when Fae was so unpredictable that her moves would cause chaos on the board, and she would win before Tory could regroup.
The two could not be more different when it came to their personalities. But perhaps that was why they got along so well. Or it could just be a sign of Tory’s tolerance, that it didn’t bother her to be beaten in such ways.
Regardless, as the two were great friends, they would often have breakfast together like this.
“By the way, Fae. You have your gloves. Are you training today too?”
And so soon after the tournament. But Fae just laughed.
“It’s like…the feeling has stayed with me…”
“I see. Well, congratulations anyway.”
“Obviously, I’ll go and root for you in the finals.”
Fae nodded and then suddenly lowered her head as if realizing something. Tory looked at her questioningly. But at the same time—due to their long acquaintance—she could guess what it was.
“Don’t worry about me.”
—Tory Suzumiya. She was also in the tactics division. However, she did not like to use weapons. Firearms were an exception, but her real strength was in magic.
When it came to magic, she boasted the highest grades in the whole academy.
Tory’s ancestors had immigrated from the east a long time ago. And she was a commoner. her family was not rich. And while she did not experience the same kind of prejudice that the Yugrile immigrants did, she did stick out in this academy, where so many of the students came from noble families.
Still, the reason that she was able to enroll in spite of the expensive fees, was because of her talent when it came to magic.
Of course, there was no magic division in the tournament, however, she had participated in the group battle for two years in a row now.
But this year, her third year, things had gone differently.
“There was too much competition this year. It couldn’t be helped.”
The reason she could not compete was simple—it was due to a certain instructor.
After being taught by him, the students ended up taking the top spots in most of the divisions they competed in, which was unprecedented.
Everyone knew that this was because of Yukito.
“It’s too bad that magic is the one thing teacher Yukito does not do…”
Swords, martial arts, even spears. However, he had almost no knowledge of magic. At least, that was what he said.
“He did use a magic sword in the fight…”
“Well, he said he only copied it after seeing his opponent do it. I didn’t know if he was being serious…”
Fae shrugged her shoulders. If it was true, then it surpassed any notions of being merely talented. However, with someone like him, it might just be possible.
Fae suddenly raised her voice.
Tory turned to follow her gaze. She saw the beautiful girl and she also let out an ‘Ah.’
She was the most famous student at the academy.
“Iria. This is unusual. Seeing you here in the morning.”
“…Tory? Oh, yes. There was something I needed to do.”
Iria Orlando said. She was holding a tray with toast and tea.
They greeted each other, and then Iria turned towards Fae.
“You’re Ms. Fae. You won in the martial arts…”
“Uh, yes! Good morning!”
“Yes, good morning. May I sit with you?”
Said Fae, and Tory giggled.
“What’s that, Fae? Are you nervous? We’re all in the same year.”
“But we’ve never talked before…”
Indeed, in the past three years, Fae had never ended up in the same class as Iria. And they also majored in different subjects.
But that was not the real reason.
Fae was not a shy person, and she was usually the type to be quite bold when meeting people for the first time. That was one of the reasons she had been able to befriend Tory so quickly, even though the girl always read books in a corner of the classroom.
And so Tory could tell that Fae was nervous now.
While Tory often stuck out in her class, in some ways, no one stuck out more than Iria.
Her father was a count, and she was accomplished in both literary and military arts. A genius who was perfect in every way. Both beauty and ability. She had it all.
All the girls looked up to her. The boys as well.
“…If anything, Tory, I’m surprised that you are friends with Ms. Iria.”
“Really? Well, we’re just classmates, really.”
“Tory. That kind of hurts me.”
“Hey, if you want to be friends, then I am open to it.”
But it was the truth. They were classmates, nothing less and nothing more.
It was just that Tory did not put Iria on the same pedestal that everyone else seemed to. It was her personality, and she treated everyone in the same way.
In fact, Iria had a similar personality.
“I see. In that case, I will do my best so that we can be friends comfortably. So, can I join you?”
“Yes, of course.”
Tory gestured to the chair, and Iria put down her tray and sat.
“So, what brought you here this morning? A lady who lives in her parents’ mansion…in a cafeteria for breakfast.”
“…I stayed with Sherry last night.”
In other words, a sleepover. A pajama party.
And with the president of the student council and the new champion, Ms. Aize. An impressive group.
Both Fae and Tory looked a little surprised.
“Huh… You are that close?”
“Is that strange?”
“No, well… Especially Ms. Aize. I thought she was like your rival.”
Ms. Aize was almost as well known as Iria.
Being from Yugrile was enough to draw attention. And her skills did a lot to silence anyone who might take issue with her.
Though, some students looked down on her for being inferior to Iria…which Tory could not understand. Regardless, she had proven her worth in the exhibition match and secured the title of the strongest student in the academy.
“Yes. I will have to ask for a rematch eventually. But that is different.”
Fae suddenly said with excitement.
She thrust one of her fists into the air.
“Rivals and friends! It is so much better that way!”
Iria agreed with a laugh.
“…Unfortunately, I won’t be able to be your rival, Fae.”
“What are you talking about! You are my rival! I have not really surpassed you yet!”
“You’re being…ah. The board games…”
Fae chuckled and Tory smiled with exasperation.
And then the three talked about less important things.
Tory told them about a film she watched recently, while Fae recommended her favorite sweets. Iria mostly nodded and listened.
And as Fae grew more comfortable with Iria…
“Hey, hey. I know it’s just a rumor…but is there any truth to it? That you are dating teacher Yukito?”
Iria suddenly raised her voice. Her eyes widened as she froze.
“Really, why would you ask something so directly? …Still, what is the truth, anyway?”
She grinned at Iria.
Iria shook her head with disapproval.
“You’re being stupid. That’s completely ridiculous. He is a teacher, after all.”
“Hmm. I see.”
Tory and Fae did not miss the fact that Iria’s cheeks had flushed a little.
Iria closed her eyes and took a sip of her tea. Then she noticed how the other two were grinning at her, and she looked away.
“…I don’t know what you were expecting. Sorry, but there really is nothing else to say on that matter.”
“Yes, we didn’t mean to…”
But the two continued to smile, much to Iria’s annoyance.