Two weeks after that, I am somehow making do as Alexia’s boyfriend. Every once in a while I get harassed by other students, but everything so far is still within tolerable levels.
More than anything else, Zenon-sensei has not come to beat me up or seek to ‘solve’ things with any direct approaches that involve violence, so at least that’s a relief.
As for the man in question, he continues to give Alexia and I appropriate and thoughtful guidance during classes. He no longer comes over for casual talks, but clearly is an adult capable of keeping public and private separate.
In comparison to that.
“That man truly irritates me. Looking like he’s all that just because he is a little good at the sword.”
When we’re before people, of course she’s got her act on and all, but when we are alone, her words become like a tornado of vilification.
I am pretty much just a yes-robot. I learned early on that any and all rebuttal would only be a waste of time.
“Pochi, you also saw that absolutely shady smile of his, did you not?”
“Yep, yep, I did.”
It has become our routine to return to the dorms after school via a longer path through the woods that few other students use.
During that time, I simply continue to agree with whatever Alexia says. Not even 10% of it actually enters my brain.
We continue walking slowly down the path as the sun sets above. Whereas walking normally would get us through to the other side in 10 minutes, we easily take longer than 30 minutes. Some days, I can already see the stars by the time we get through, but patience. Some days I feel like yelling at her to just find a random wall to talk to instead, but patience. I can bear it.
Patience, patience, and more patience.
But even I have one thing that I really need to say.
“Ahh, can I ask you something?”
Alexia sits down on her favorite tree stump and crosses her legs.
Why the hell are you sitting down, get the fuck up and continue walking – is what I really want to say but I know I have no choice but to also sit down next to her.
“In the end, what is it about Zenon-sensei that you dislike so much? Objectively speaking, as a marriage partner he seems like a pretty good catch to me though.”
“You…… were you even listening to what I was saying?”
Alexia looks slightly displeased.
“Everything, alright? I dislike his very existence, and everything about it.”
“He is handsome, is the country’s Swordsmanship Instructor, has a high social status, has money, and is able to clearly demarcate between public and private. Everything about him seems good. In actual fact, he is quite popular among the female students, I hear.”
My words are only met with a scornful laugh.
“That’s all just his outward appearance. Appearances can be fabricated and kept up as much as wanted. As a prime example, me.”
“I see, damn that’s a convincing example.”
Speaking of which, Alexia is also highly popular. Since she’s putting on so deep an act that it makes me want to puke sometimes when I see it.
“That is why I do not evaluate people based on appearances.”
“Then how do you evaluate people?”
“By their flaws.”
So says Alexia with a self-satisfied look.
“A truly negative judgment method. Fits you to a tee.”
“Why, thank you. Incidentally, the fact that you are only composed of flaws and that you possess absolutely no virtues whatsoever scores you relatively highly in my book.”
“Thank you, it’s my first time receiving such a compliment that does not make me happy at all!”
Alexia smiles wryly.
“It’s good that you are an easily identifiable piece of trash. And that is why I dislike that man.”
“Since we’re on the topic, tell me some of Zenon-sensei’s flaws, then.”
“From what I can see, he has none.”
“Then isn’t he just perfect?”
“There isn’t a single human alive who is perfect. If there truly is, then that person is either a big, fat liar, or there are screws loose in their head.”
“I see, I see. Thank you for that totally jaded and prejudiced reply. I truly learned something today.”
“You are very welcome, oh Pochi of the endless list of flaws. Go fetch~!”
With that, Alexia takes out a single gold coin and throws it. I dash out at full speed to catch it.
Damn straight, just done earned me 100,000 Zeny.
I put the gold coin into my pocket, then return to Alexia, who is clapping her hands in delight.
“Good boy, good boy.”
She is patting my head. Patience.
“You’re hating this, you’re hating this so much~”
While being patted, once more I think to myself that she is a terrible human being.
“It’s showing in your face, you know?”
“I’m letting it show in my face.”
With a ‘fufu’ laugh, Alexia stands back up.
“Well then, about time to get back.”
“Pochi, tomorrow I’m going to smash that annoying face of his with a wooden sword, so make sure you watch carefully.”
Upon hearing Alexia say so, I couldn’t help but to ask.
“That thing…… are you seriously going to do it?”
“What are you implying?”
Alexia turns around and glares at me.
I really shouldn’t have asked that. But it is something that I truly cannot turn a blind eye to.
“Zenon-sensei is indeed stronger than you. But from what I can see, the difference between you two is not so great that you’d be single-sidedly done in.”
I like Alexia’s sword. Because it is a sword built up from days and days of accumulation, one step at a time. But when it comes to the real thing, actual combat, there is one unnecessary element mixed in. And I really cannot stand seeing a sword that I had recognized being tainted by that one element.
“Easy for you to say. What do you know, white robe?”
“Sure, it’s the nonsense of a white robe. There is no need for you to pay any mind to it.”
“Fine, I’ll tell you. Things are not as simple as you think.”
“Is that so?”
“I have no talent. I was born with a large magic capacity, and I’d like to think that I’ve also put in a fair share of effort. I think myself relatively strong. But even with all that, I can never win against a real genius.”
“I’ve always been compared to Iris nee-sama. There were expectations from the people all around, but even more than that, I myself also greatly respected Iris nee-sama and wanted to catch up to her. But I could not do things the way Iris nee-sama could. What each one of us had from the very start was too different. So I decided to find my own way to become stronger. But as a result, do you know what people call my sword?”
When the sisters’ swords are raised in comparison, there is a certain phrase that comes up with almost guaranteed certainty.
“The commoner’s sword.”
(T/N: ‘Commoner’ here refers to ‘a common person’. As opposed to a genius. This is completely unrelated to her status as a princess.)
“Yes, that. Oh and by the way, yours is also the commoner’s sword. Too bad, eh?”
Alexia laughs in self-derision.
“I don’t think it a bad thing at all. I like your sword, after all.”
Upon hearing my words, Alexia’s breath stops for a brief moment, then she scowls at me.
“Previously, someone else had also said those words to me. It was Iris nee-sama, on the stage of the Festival of the God of War, after my unsightly defeat at her hands.”
“ ‘I really do like your sword, Alexia.’ ”
With curled lip, Alexia attempts to imitate Princess Iris’s voice.
“I’m sure that person didn’t understand even a fraction of my feelings. How wretched I felt at that moment. Even since that day, I’ve hated my own sword so much.”
Then Alexia laughs. I don’t know what is contained in that laugh, but at the very least it is not a happy laugh.
I have something that I really must say. If I don’t say it, then it would be akin to denying my very self.
“I am an extremely facetious person. If something happens and a million people suddenly die, I wouldn’t really care. If you go mad and become a serial killer going around indiscriminately slashing people left and right, I wouldn’t really care either.”
“If I go mad, the first person I cut would be you. I’ve just decided.”
“But there is one thing that I would never compromise on. Even if it is worth absolutely nothing to other people, to me it is the most important thing in my life. And the way I live my life is to protect only that single thing that is important to me. Which is why, what I will say next, I fully mean with all of my heart.”
Just one sentence.
“I like Alexia’s sword.”
After a short period of silence, Alexia replies.
“What meaning is there in those words?”
“None. But if I really had to say, it’s because I got angry hearing something that I like being denied. That’s all there is to it.”
“Is that so.”
Alexia turns around……
“Today, I will go back alone.”
…… And then walks off.
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