I am always that way. Why is it that big events that change my fate come only when I am not prepared?
It is the usual afternoon of a fine day. A magical history teacher (from the department of history) who was famous for being strict in terms of punctuality did not appear five minutes after the class started, and the class was beginning to become noisy. She is over 40, still single and devoted to her work, and in her class, students from whatever grade level would always take their seats two minutes in advance. To that degree of strictness, she is indeed a troublesome teacher.
“I wonder what happened.”
“Who knows? Though I haven’t heard about any meeting dragging on.”
When I asked my seatmates, they are all puzzled. Some of them are already playing with their teaching materials, saying, “I will not be self-studying.”
We still waited, and when the teacher came, more than half of my classmates were absorbed in conversation. When everyone hurried to their seats, the strict teacher did not reproach us. On the contrary, she sighed deeply so she wouldn’t see the situation of the classroom.
…I wonder if her pale expression is because of us.
Just like that, she went to the teacher’s desk with a slow gait and instructed us to keep our studying materials. Next, she went to hang a big sheet of paper on the blackboard.
What is it… Distribution list?
The names were written into groups, which consist of around ten people. There are also other academy students from different year levels included.
The teacher who was putting up the paper finally looks back, waiting for us to raise questions. It was not the strict gaze she always showed but a confused, weak look.
“…Although it is sudden, it was decided that all academy students will have a practical test.”
Almost all my classmates answered. Of course, I also raised my voice.
“Practical test . . . that practical, right? The one the senpais are doing.”
“Yes, that one.”
She replied to the nervously asking timid boy. Apparently, it seems that there is no mistake in the “practical” that we are aware of.
That is the “group battle training”.
It is classified as a practical lesson but it is more appropriate to call it “examination” because evaluation and grades can be attached in each lesson. It is done by a class or a year level as a whole, but it also has the highest risk so the students are supposed to be accompanied by medical magicians aside from the supervising teachers. In the first place, practicals are supposed to be incorporated into the lessons on the second half of the fourth grade.
“You don’t have to be perplexed. I also objected, but unfortunately . . . I could not overthrow the decision of the higher ups.”
The teacher bowed deeply according to the correct posture. She is a strict and troublesome person, but she is the kind of teacher who thinks about her students very much. Everyone closed their mouths, thinking how it is rude to make a noise.
“However, I negotiated for everyone in the elementary course so that there would be less danger. I will explain the detailed regulations from now, so please listen carefully.”
This time the teacher, with strong determination in her eyes, raised her chin and wrote some characters next to the distribution list. There seems to be a reasonable amount of regulations, and my classmates who were watching also began taking notes.
To put it simply, the main rules were like these.
- Implementation starts from the day after tomorrow until the end of that day. However, if all academy students are disqualified, it may end within that time.
- The academy student who wins until the end of the whole duration of the time limit is the “winner”. However, the evaluation and the grading are based on the “behavior during the test”.
- The conditions for disqualification are “completely ran out of magical powers” and “knocked unconscious” aside from “fainting” and “falling asleep”. “Dozing” within the time limit is considered as negligence and the student will be forcibly disqualified.
- Resting and sleeping during a break are excluded
- If one did not use magic and the time ends, he/she will be disqualified.
- Keep the magic attacks to intimidation and make sure not to hit others directly. If you intentionally injured your opponent, it is subject to deductions and punishments.
Furthermore, the stipulations according to the year level are:
- As a mixed team of about ten people, from the first year to the third grader, “If anyone in the team remains, everyone in the team is a winner.”
- Academy students from fourth year and above will be grouped into teams according to their ability. However, in the higher year level, they will be subjected to penalty if “the underclass students are disqualified”.
Besides this, although the detailed regulations were revealed, it seems that we elementary course students can be said in a positive note to be “the protected ones”, but if you look at this in a negative way, it can be said that we are participating as a “burden”. Of course, it seems that we have to use magic, and we may fight if we can fight.
It seems that it seems better for me to be adequately “protected” as I’m not good at combat.
I can use recovery magic once, but as an assistant I can strengthen or restore the ability of students who can’t fight or let them sleep during the break, so I think this is reasonable. I’m content with saying “Go, fight!” or doing something for them.
Although I am worried, it seems that it was not only me who was slightly relieved about the described contents. Everyone exchanged opinions quite lively, and then they started to look for their name on the lists of teams in the blackboard. Apparently, it seems that the teams are properly divided according to ability.
“…Surprisingly, even though it was that kind of test, everything has been considered.”
“Yeah. Personally, just the word battle training is enough to make me worry.”
I smiled wryly at Monica who came to my seat. In my case, there was a matter with Eliza last time, so I am extra sensitive to the word “battle”.
“Ah, unfortunately, you and I are on different teams. The name of the classroom was written, so maybe I should go there?”
“So it seems. Others are already going.”
In the distribution list, classroom names are also listed in addition to the students’ names. Looking at the students who have the same question go to their designated places, I wonder if the teams are going to do a strategy meeting.
“The teacher said that the test is on the day after tomorrow. Well then, Meryl, I’ll also go.”
“Okay, take care.”
I sent a usual smile to my friend, and then I also stood in front of the blackboard. Let’s see, who are partying with a “poor-at-attacking student” like me? I do not know a lot of people form the upper class, and I hope they are kind people……
I tilted my head in confusion. But I have already looked at the list from corner to corner. For now, I’ll try searching again on the team from the very end……
“My name is not here.”
Even though I read every person’s name, I still couldn’t find my name.
Could it be that I was forgotten? No, no, even if it is a sudden test, the teacher who carefully sorted the students by ability made a trivial mistake of overlooking……
“You are Foster, aren’t you?”
“Ah, yes. I am.”
The one who woke me up from my reverie was no other than the magical history teacher. She had the same cheerless expression at first and her eyes were beckoning me as if I am a pitiable thing.
“……I hate to say this, but actually, your grades on attack magic cannot be compensated by the third year students……”
And so, the shocking response was told clearly in a caring voice. Apparently, it seems that my grades were worse than my imagination.
I persevered through words of comfort such as “The others are also doing badly” or “I can still recover and I will surely succeed”, but unfortunately I was not able to catch up. The words “cannot be compensated” are riding heavily on my head like a rock.
“Err, excuse me. Then, am I automatically disqualified?”
Rather, I think it is probably best for those upperclassmen who were not able to compensate for my deficiencies. For their own sake and the others, too.
The teacher presented me a note with a wry smile and said in an unexpectedly low voice.
“The person-in-charge for the supervision this time designated an academy student to join you. That person was from a year level higher than the third year, but I was told that you are acquainted with that person. Uhm . . . Don’t get so depressed, okay?”
An “Art Department’s Preparation Room” was skillfully written in the note. The teacher suddenly gently stroked my head, said “Good luck!” and pushed my back.
…She was called a “tough teacher”, but maybe she is quite a kind and a nice person. Just understanding that, it was a big step today, yeah.
Anyway, it is useless to stay in the classroom so I went to the designated place as instructed. I have never set my foot in the preparation room of the “Science of Magical Arts*”. I don’t know a lot of upperclassmen so I wonder who is going to become my partner.
*(T/N: 魔術技工学 [majutsu gikougaku])
I should have been disqualified because of my inferior abilities. The teacher is so earnest…
Outside the window, the sky is beautiful and sunny today as well. I sighed deeply and touched my chest filled with a miserable feeling.
* * *
After a few minutes of walking and getting a little lost in this extremely vast academy, I finally arrived at the “Art Department’s Preparation Room”. It was a classroom that I don’t recognize at all. As a preparation room, it is supposed to be the office of the department’s teacher. The Art Department’s teacher . . . what kind of person is he/she?
“Excuse me. I am Foster, a second year student. I came here for the exam.”
First, I have to talk to the teacher. I knocked and spoke as politely as possible……
My arm was grabbed through the open door and I was forcibly pulled inside. While I was falling forward, I readied myself for the coming impact . . . but I softly crashed into someone’s arms.
…Into the wide chest that I knew well.
“It’s been a while since lunch, Meryl.”
I don’t have to raise my eyes and confirm. It was Gilbert-senpai who became my lover, laughing like a child who succeeded with his prank.