Disguising Myself as a Man to Become a Knight! - Chapter 10
Preparing for Battle
In the competency test, you would battle against three randomly assigned students.
It seemed that not only fourth-year students, but also fifth- and sixth-year students would take part in this test. The scoring system was designed in such a way so that the lower grades wouldn’t be at a disadvantage, and since this would be an opportunity to swap special courses with general courses, even the upper grades were somewhat tense.
“His Royal Highness the Prince is absent due to official business….”
It had been two weeks since she entered the school. Sheila, who had become accustomed to living in a group in the dormitory, had her shoulders slumped over breakfast.
The dining hall was crowded with all the students of the knight department, as it was impossible to get a meal after the prescribed time. Incidentally, since the dormitory was separate from the civilian dormitory, there were many young hot-blooded people. It was said that the amount of food was larger than that of the civilian dormitory.
Sheila was still grumbling as she tucked a pile of potato salad into her bread.
“It’s not often we get to see a class with all the grades together, so this would’ve been a great chance to see him.”
Zechs brought his spoon to his mouth as he chewed a heap of cabbage.
“His Highness doesn’t have to attend, he’s bound to enter the special course.”
“Why? And, speak clearly please.”
The merchant must be putting all his energy into speaking, she was completely appalled.
Zechs swallowed his cabbage firmly before answering.
“You know that the general course usually mainly ends up guarding the countryside or downtown, right? Do you think we can relegate His Highness the Prince to such a mission?”
“Oh, I see. That makes sense.”
Still, she thought it was a shame. She was curious about His Highness’ fighting style, and also about his face.
Both Leidyrune and Jorn Werner were very handsome. When it came to Claushezade, he was so magnificent that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he was already at the level of gods. She was aware that aristocrats were like that, so she wanted to see what the royalty standing at the top looked like.
“Oh, that’s right. If I want to meet His Highness the Prince, I can meet him at the dormitory.”
After all, they lived together in the dormitory. She thought she would have a chance to meet him somewhere sooner or later.
“You’re an idiot. Do you think His Highness will eat in the dining room with everyone else? Of course, he eats in his room.”
Zechs bit into his fourth piece of bread and dropped a light hand on Sheila’s head.
“He was the youngest person ever to be assigned to the Order of the Imperial Knights at the age of 13! It was during the political upheaval, but it was unheard of for a student who hadn’t yet come of age to be selected!”
“That’s very strict.”
“It’s only natural, they’re royalty, remember?”
While they were talking lightly, the meal was almost finished. When she was finally full and thinking about having some after-dinner tea, Cody, who was caught between the two of them, groaned.
“How can you guys talk to each other without a care in the world? I’ve been nervous since last night….”
When she looked over, Cody’s spoon hadn’t moved at all, and the breakfast on the tray was almost untouched.
“I don’t care about Zechs, but why is Sheila so calm? Since you just entered, you have no idea how far you can go, right?”
“Yes. That’s why it’s so exciting.”
“…. I see…”
Cody muttered in a faint voice as he answered with a clenched fist. He rubbed his stomach area constantly.
“Cody, do you have a stomach ache? If so, the dried roots of the goldthread and the skullcap plant will help. I brought some from the village if you want.”
Sheila was about to get up from her chair when a stern man eating at the table behind her leaned over and wrapped his arms around Cody’s neck.
“What, Cody, you got a stomach ache? It’s just your feeling, just your feeling!”
The dormitory leader, Axe, who seemed to be the son of a count, wasn’t half as hot as he seemed. There weren’t so many people who looked good with their gushing sweat and shining muscles. He also spoke the rural language with such ease that one wonders where in the world he learned it.
He seemed to care about people, but his methods were inaccurate. Cody, who was strangled and blue in the face, was having difficulty breathing. Should she stop him or go back to her room and get him some medicine right away? As Shayla wondered, Zechs waved his hand lightly. He was probably telling her that he would take care of the situation and that she should hurry.
Behind her, she could hear Axe’s voice twirling around Zechs. No matter how much they usually teased and argued with each other, he’d never abandon Cody at times like this, so she knew they were good friends.
◇ ◆ ◇
People began to gather in crowds at that training hall that she saw on the day of the opening ceremony.
She’d used it several times for a few classes, but this was the first time she’d seen all of them together, from the fourth grade to the highest grade. That alone was enough to make Shayla excited. From now on, she would be fighting three times against people she didn’t even know.
It was a match to see how good you were, so it didn’t matter if you lose. But it’s always better to win all of it, right?
She clenched her fists again, determined to do her best, and looked up at Cody.
“How’s it going? Does it help a little?”
His complexion was better than before. He smiled weakly.
“Yeah, I feel a lot better, thanks to Sheila…”
Actually, it would’ve been better to grind them endlessly in a mortar and pestled them to powder and drink it, but there was no time for that, so she chopped them into small pieces and had him take them. It was a race against time to see if it would work before the test, but it seemed to work.
“The fights are pre-determined, right? I wonder where they’ll announce it?”
As I looked around the arena, a wave of people in the distance walked in. Standing in front of the crowd was Claushezade. The students all fell silent at his appearance.
Glancing around him, Clauschezade announced in a clear voice.
“We will now begin the competency test!”
Excitement was building, even more than usual. She could see that everyone was fired up. Even though the test was just a part of the lesson, the young and spirited people couldn’t help but get excited at the thought of a showdown.
“Now, I’m going to post the list of battles here. There should be three marks next to your name. The names above the marks are your opponents.”
The names were lined up horizontally and vertically on the square table. It seemed that the names of the students were written in the exact same order. There were several circled marks on the table. This was an unusual way of writing down names, but it was more efficient than writing down each student’s opponent one by one.
Because of the large number of students, the tables were looked at in order, starting with the most senior student with the highest rank. The occasional loud groans from the crowd were a cause for concern. But Sheila, an underclassman and a commoner, was the last in line.
“Which one is it….”
When it was finally her turn, she checked the table with Zechs and Cody. At the bottom of the list, they found the name Sheila Danau. Looking to the side, they quickly found three circled marks. The name written there was―
“Sheila… you, seriously…?”
Zechs muttered in a stiff voice. Cody’s eyes widened as he too saw who Sheila’s opponent would be.
First match: Seiryuu Mifune
Second match: Regress Olbrandt
Third match: Leidyrune Centrix
The surrounding classmates were also looking at Sheila with sympathetic eyes. She wasn’t sure, but did that mean she had a lot of strong opponents? She thought it was worth it.
“I’m surprised at how strict you are, Claushezade-sensei.”
“Well, he’s a strict guy, but what’s wrong with him all of a sudden?”
“That’s how tough these games are.”
Zechs, who looked exhausted even before the match, leaned on Sheila’s shoulder.
“Listen. It goes without saying that Leidyrune-senpai is strong, but the rest of them are also regular players. In the first match, Seiryu-senpai is a commoner of the highest rank, but he is very strong even though he has no magic power. If you are an aristocrat who can only use a little magic, you’re no match for him. And in the second match, Regress-senpai is an aristocrat, so he has magical power. That alone makes him a formidable opponent, but he’s the worst match for Sheila.”
“Because of the way he fights?”
“No. That guy is…. He’s the leader of Leidyrune-senpai group of admirers.”
Sheila blinked at the unfamiliar word. It was Cody who explained it to her.
“I see. Sheila probably doesn’t know. When you’re like Leidyrune-senpai, you get a lot of fans. After all, his family background, status, strength, and appearance are flawless.”
Indeed, he was very charismatic when you said it like that. She didn’t like him much because he seemed to despise commoners, but from the perspective of a son of a noble family, he was very close to the top of the ranks. She could understand that.
“Do you mean like, like him? Or love?”
When Sheila asked, they looked at each other and squared their shoulders.
“I’ve been trying to blur things out, but you’re asking a hard question….”
“This guy gets to the point sometimes, doesn’t he?”
He was blabbering, Sheila wondered if he didn’t want her to hear him. She could hardly make sense of what they said.
Cody and Zechs looked at each other for a while and nodded gravely as if to indicate.
“Well, I guess this means no one will say anything bad about Sheila, right?”
“Yes, I suppose so. It’s only Sheila who has a tough opponent so far.”
She wasn’t sure, but it seemed that her question was ignored. But Sheila, being a simple soul, was quick to bite on the topic at hand.
“What? What? Did they say something bad about me?”
“There were a few people who said that because Claushezade-sensei was personally tutoring you, you might be favored by him. But thanks to you, I’m sure those rumors will be completely dispelled.”
Sheila glanced at Claushezade.
Perhaps he was always looking ahead, so he might have thought about that and arranged the matchup. Sheila didn’t even know that someone was bad-mouthing her.
She was being helped. He was always watching over her.
Sheila felt warmth in her heart as she sensed his unwavering will.
She wanted to live up to Claushezade’s trust. She wanted to give back more than what he gave her.
Sheila renewed her determination before the test.
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