49 – Watching
They have nothing to do with us, right? They have nothing to do with us, right?
They have nothing to do with us… with us… with…
If Karl were here, he’d probably be raising an eyebrow and saying, “What’s with this echo effect?”
Selena was experiencing that feeling right now, very clearly and unequivocally.
Something sticky and stubborn that she wanted to shake off but couldn’t.
I want to say something. I want to counter quickly. It’s not like it’s really irrelevant.
Even though I rejected the confession three years ago, it wasn’t a sincere action.
Rather, the relationship is better now than it was back then, and we’re getting along well!
‘Hey! You just met Karl! I heard that it’s been less than a week since you met! Moreover, Karl can’t even remember you properly! In contrast, I’ve received a confession! Hey! I have a favor to ask!’
…I wanted to say these words like a chimney. I wanted to shout it out right away.
But Selena couldn’t bring herself to do that. Lavrenti’s words were ultimately right.
Strictly speaking, there is no connection between her and Karl. At best, they are classmates. A bit more, friends.
That’s it. That’s all there is. More than that is impossible in the current situation. The reason is, of course, because she rejected him.
Whatever the reason, it became an unpleasant memory for both of them.
She regrets it now, but changing her mind is not important.
If asked whether that part applies to Karl as well, she is unsure.
The person who suffered the most was Karl. Beyond that, dreaming is impossible unless he allows it.
Yes. Just like on that day, the day Karl confessed to her, just like she confessed to him.
‘No, Karl…! If only we had kept it normal. Why confess publicly…!’
Suddenly, a subtle resentment begins to rise. Honestly, it was difficult to endure.
Already struggling as a freshman, she had been troubled by confessions for over a month.
Should she quietly ask him for his intentions, right in front of everyone!
But Selena shook her head. Blaming Karl for all this is not right.
If Karl really liked her, he would have accepted a public confession or anything.
Now, resenting Karl like this belatedly is only fair.
Whether he knows what’s in her mind or not, he seems to know very well, to be honest.
At Lavrenti’s urging, Selena remained silent for a moment, then slowly parted her lips.
“The secret is….”
Wait a minute. Come to think of it, how did she get close to Karl again? It’s kind of strange when you think about it.
Certainly, their relationship was uncomfortable for each other. How did they become so close now?
What was the catalyst for that? No, was there a catalyst in the first place?
‘If I have to think about it… It’s probably that.’
After a brief hesitation, Selena spoke decisively.
“Nothing special. Just, me and a sword. Because I’m at the academy. A student of the academy. We happened to meet, exchanged greetings. And as we chatted, we became close, just as Liebe said, even though it’s not any special relationship.”
Academy. Academy. As if enchanted by some magic, Liebe murmured the word for a while.
‘The secret lies in the academy…?’
From Selena’s perspective, it might seem like a reason given without much thought, even awkward.
But for Liebe, it felt entirely different. In fact, he considered it quite reasonable.
‘Right. I haven’t seen my mentor since that meeting. And my mentor always wanted to return to the academy.’
Despite having comrades and undoubtedly having been a crucial turning point in life, the military was not a place where anyone would want to stay. If one could leave, it was a place to depart from.
So, the sword that escaped the military ended up at the academy and met Selena there.
Meeting someone in the place you desired must have felt different from the start. They could have become fast friends.
Given the good atmosphere, their relationship naturally grew closer, and so on.
‘Indeed, is the academy the answer?’
Liebe turned his head to gaze at the academy for a moment.
Academy life. It might be a dream for others, but at least for him, it seemed like a distant story.
How many family members did he have to support immediately? He had to repay the grace he received from his parents.
And considering the money needed for academy life, it must not have been easy to arrange.
Thinking about the living expenses for his siblings, it seemed very tight.
Embarrassingly, he had to admit that he was a person far from learning, despite being able to read and write. He had never thought of wanting to learn more.
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If it weren’t for the sword, he might have truly driven a stake into the military. It surely would have been like that.
“It’s tough. This thing called the academy. The desire to get closer to my mentor is like a chimney, but…”
Rubbing her lips, Liebe immersed herself in contemplation.
And Selena, looking at her, also got lost in thought.
“How does it look?”
“It was really sharp until a while ago, and now it’s calm again.”
“Hmm… I wonder how it will unfold!”
“This guy with the sword is completely unpredictable.”
Even the four people secretly listening to the conversation between the two women couldn’t help but comment.
Now, when the protagonist named Karl appears here, it’s truly perfect…
“Why are you all sitting there huddled? Got stung by bees?”
Wasn’t it said that even tigers come when you call? Karl appeared behind the group of four.
He had definitely heard that he went to the palace. It could be considered a rather early appearance.
“What’s up? Already here?”
“I heard you went to the palace.”
“What did you do there?”
“Whoa, whoa. Calm down, you Hydra guys. One question at a time. One by one.”
You may have four mouths, but we only have one!
To cut to the chase, I ended up working with the Crown Prince.
I don’t know why Hizens insisted on having me accompany them to the negotiations.
“…Is it okay? I mean, they wouldn’t be considering killing me on the negotiation floor, right?”
The only thing needed on the battlefield is an act that distinguishes between friend and foe.
Even if they are the same person, if they are a traitor, you kill them, and if they fought together, even an elf is treated as a comrade.
In that regard, despite being elves like Luzence on the Hizens side, they were somewhat understanding, perhaps because they had the recognition of being “allies.”
But inevitably, both are elves. From my perspective, it’s a hassle dealing with these pointy-eared folks.
Hizens might insist that they should not be seen as the same ignorant hardliners as the Gampas, but… what can you do? When you see elves, you instinctively start looking for a greatsword.
The Crown Prince seemed to be aware of that as well, adding, “If it’s too much, tell me right away. I’ll do my best to reject their proposal and make them reconsider.”
Although I hesitated for a moment, in the end, I nodded. I can’t be buried in the past forever. Besides, Hizens is an obvious ally, a fellow warrior who fought alongside me.
“I will go. To the negotiation table.”
When I gave a prompt reply, the Crown Prince smiled gratefully. He told me to let him know if I needed help later. I even got a promise that he would do everything he could from his end.
Well, I guess I’ll keep that wish card handy and use it when the Crown Prince becomes the Emperor.
“Anyway. This is how I earned another honor medal. The end.”
I briefly touched on the negotiation with Hizens and shared the details of the medal ceremony with the group of four.
Then, the gaze of these Hydras looking at me suddenly seemed to become strange.
“This, this crazy guy.”
“Is this really a person? Hey, Karl. You’re not human, are you?”
“Receiving two honor medals is unbelievable…”
“Can I just get one signature?”
Ugh, popularity. It’s tricky, indeed, being popular. …Or so I thought.
“To be honest, I’m a bit confused too. I stepped back from the military, and now they’re talking about some honor medal.”
As far as I know, the Imperial honor medal is only awarded to soldiers or combatants.
Honoring their bravery and self-sacrifice, with hopes for more heroes to emerge in the future.
And here I am, discharged. Some still address me as sergeant, but strictly speaking, it’s a pre-discharge duty. Now, I’m just an ordinary academy returnee.
I found this part so perplexing that I even asked the Crown Prince about it. How on earth does one receive an honor medal? Isn’t that something to be earned in times of war?
The response I got was quite absurd… or rather, remarkable?
“I ordered it. Captain Kal.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I didn’t push my status. When Captain Kal performed heroically, he was still a soldier. There’s a law that allows Imperial soldiers to be conscripted into the reserve within three months of discharge in case of a similar emergency.”
So, if we really want to be technical, you still have a bit of a soldier’s status! Huh? You’ve been discharged, but you’re still somewhat a soldier, so why not give you an honor medal?! Something like that.
It was beyond absurd. Forced reasoning at its finest. If this were to be spread among the discharged individuals, there would be a riot. ‘Aaaargh! Still a soldier! Aaaargh!!’ They would scream.
Of course, it was merely a pretext to award me the honor medal.
Seeing him bring in such forced legal interpretations to present me with the medal, it was clear that the Crown Prince wanted it not only through pushing but also through war! Fine! I gladly accepted.
“Think of it positively. Getting another one would be great.”
“Yeah. I’ve never seen someone with two honor medals.”
“Will this record last forever?”
“I bet my tail it won’t.”
Meanwhile, they just look peculiar. And Joachim, you don’t have a tail, my friend.
“But what about our hydras… What were you guys up to?”
“Us? Just watching.”
Turning my gaze discreetly to where Schliphen was pointing…
“…with Selena and Lave? Why did she come back to the academy?”
“We don’t know.”
“Of course, we don’t.”
“But, hey, Kal.”
“We do know one thing.”
Laughter, a mocking chorus of four, echoed from behind.
“What’s so funny? Why are you laughing, you brats? It’s annoying.”