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Chapter: 20


A world where no one praises you just for doing it

               The royal capital, Reinadia is a city that prospered as the headquarters of the Ring religion.

               On the center, the place where the Holy Nomorous Spirit lives, the chapel where the pope lives and the castle where the King lives, the cobbled streets with no dust on them spread out.

               The reason why there is no dust is that fatherless childs clean it up for money.

               Therefore, when you visit Reinadia, it’s not strange to see people purposely littering.

               Because they are giving jobs to the disadvantaged children.

               As you would guess, all this information was already in my head.

               However, it’s as my father often said.

               [Seeing is believing].

"Uwaa—! There is a lot of people!"

"Ooh…!"

               My voice leaks out from behind Phil as we look through the carriage’s window.

               Even so, I grew up in modern Japan.

               That memory is fading by now, but I’m much more accustomed to seeing crowds than the people in this world.

               Even if it’s the royal capital, it isn’t a big deal!! Hahahahah!!"

               … Or so I was thinking.

               A large number of people, carriages and voices pass through the streets.

               A lot of things I have never seen are lined up in the shops.

               And that’s just the beginning.

               Suddenly, something like a giant lizard passes in front of the window.

               It’s a dragon horse.

               As its name suggests, it’s a dragon that acts like a horse, and although it has more physical strength than a horse, it’s more vulnerable to changes in temperature because it’s a warm-blooded animal.

               I read that in a book.

               Dragon horses pull a wagon, and a ma of only half the height of a normal human was sitting on the coachman’s stand.

               It’s a halfling.

               It’s one of the races that live in the many northern countries, and what they have in common is that they are short, they are dexterous with their hands, and they prefer an calm life.

               Or so I read in a book.

               Besides that, there is a man with scales in his arm selling groceries, which is evidence that he’s a descendant of the dragon people, and there is a dwarf walking with a big bag.

               — Oh, there is an elf! There is an elf! It’s the first time I see one besides Raquel… So, every elf is beautiful after all…

               Ring religion doesn’t discriminate between races as long as they posses intelligence, regardless of their appearance.

               That is because they are all under the blessings of the spirits.

               That’s why Reinadia is a big trading city, where various races gather from all over the continent.

               When I saw this city, I felt like I was back in modern Japan.

               Tokyo is full of Asians!!

               It’s feels strange to see a city this popular.

               The carriage carrying Phil, Raquel, my father and mother, Mr. Posford and I goes down the main street where six carriages can run side by side.

               This carriage was prepared by the Spiritual Arts Academy, and there is an emblem on the side indicating that it’s owned by the Spiritual Arts Guild.

               There are many other carriages with the same emblem.

               They are all moving in the same direction.

"We are passing the gates"

               At the same time as he said that, the carriage passed through a large gate.

               Phil and I look outside the window.

               A large wall made of reddish-brown bricks continues all the way while drawing a gentle curve.

               This is the wall that separates the Spiritual Arts Academy from the rest.

               Many young men and women are coming and going through the cobblestone roads.

               And everyone is wearing the same outfit – The school uniform.

               And when I look ahead.

               There is a large building.

               Like a temple, or like a palace.

               I don’t know exactly, but it’s a circular building that some famous architect made with a good mix of religious symbols.

               That’s our destination.

               One of the facilities owned by the Royal Academy of Spiritual Arts.

               It’s a [Battlefield].

◆◆◆―――――――◆◆◆―――――――◆◆◆

               There are hundreds of people in the stadium’s lobby.

               Half of them are as young as me.

               They must be freshmen like Phil and me.

               Today, the ability test for the admission to the Spiritual Arts Academy will be held here.

"Uwaa—. There are so many people!"

"Yes… I honestly thought there would be fewer people"

               There is no entrance exam. It’s said that it’s a super-elite school that can only be entered by recommendation or scouting…

"Most of them are children who have won a letter of recommendation from a master and entered this school. Scouted students like you are the minority"

               Raquel said.

               Among the spiritualists, there are many who run those "Spiritual Arts Dojo", where they hold a sign with their name and train students.

               Actually, I also got an invitation to one of those before I met Raquel.

               Well, I did something like what I did to Raquel, acted like a gold spoon boy and got expulsed instantly.

"Eh—? Does that mean that Ji-kun and I are amazing?"

"… Maybe? Probably? Well, if you think about Raquel’s spartan training, it would be a problem if we weren’t—"

"Don’t get carried away"

"Auu!" "Ouch!"

               Phil and I received master’s hit on our heads.

               Raquel looks at us, who are holding our heads, from the front.

"You have talent, that I can assure you as I have trained you for the past year and a half"

               Raquel then gazes at the freshmen in the lobby.

"Similarly, all of these children are expected to have the qualities, they made the efforts, and went down that gate.

… Can you understand? Here, It-Is-Natural-To-Have-Talent.

Effort… Is-a-Given.

From today on, you have to win in a fierce competition in this world—

In this world… Where no one will praise you just for doing it"

               That took away my breath.

               In a moment my relaxed body became tense.

"Raquel-san. Can I have a word now? As a graduate from this school"

"… Please"

               Dad replaced Raquel and stands in front of Phil and me.

"Well, It’s exactly as Raquel said.

This school isn’t an easy place. There is no one that can do well just because they are a genius.

In order to survive in this world, there are things that are necessary besides natural talents and efforts…

As I said before, I was missing that. Why do you think I managed to graduate?"

               When he asked that, Phil and I look at each other.

               Phil answers first.

"Because you were lucky?"

"Hahaha! That’s also important. Yes, I was lucky. That’s also true. But there is something else besides luck… Jack, what do you think that is?"

               I think a little.

"… Heart. Willpower… You didn’t give up."

               Hearing my answer, dad nodded.

"Sorry"

"Sorry…?"

"I didn’t give up, but at the same time… I gave up"

               ????????

               Question marks appear over our heads.

"I didn’t want to give up on graduating. I didn’t want to give up on becoming a Spiritualist, and a person, not just a family member.

That’s why… I gave up everything else.

The illusion that one’s talent is superior to others—

With the excuse that I could do it—

Everything was thrown away.

Accepting one’s failure, accurately selecting what one can do, what one can’t do, what one has, and what one lacks, everything of oneself…"

               That is—

               Such a terrifying decision!

               Select your future yourself…

               In the process, how many excuses were made to escape on the way were cut down…

               How much fear did he face while thinking that maybe nothing would remain by the end?

"Listen, Jack, Philine-chan.

Know what you lack. But… don’t count what you lack…

If you start counting the things that you lack instead of counting the ones that you do have, you will be crushed by the weight in the blink of an eye.

To put it bluntly, I really wanted to die.

I know a lot of people who just did it and left the Academy, people who were more talented than me…

They are living happily now, though.

Even so, the knowledge that you were not enough at a point in life will never disappear…"

               Raquel quietly calls out to father, who looks bitter.

"As expected, that story is a bit too much for kids who are about to enter this academy…"

"You’ll know sooner or later when you enroll, when your parents tell you about it, you won’t understand at first, because I was the same.

The time came, and so before you fall into depression, I want you to remember [This story]"

               [And] He said with a smile on his face.

"Jack and Philine-chan will surely get over it even you hit a wall.

After all, just like I did, my son fell in love"

"Hey, Dad!"

               What are you saying, so suddenly!!

               [Fuehehe—] Phil hugged my arm while laughing happily.

"You too, choose the time and place!"

"Eh—? Would it be okay if there was no one else?"

"Wha…! A-Anyway! Let me go!!"

"Nooooo!"

               My parents and Raquel smile at me desperately trying to pull off Phil.

               What is this… I became a toy for them.

               Recently, I feel that my mental age is becoming more and more that of my physical age.

"Then, Jack, Phil. I’m going through the procedure"

"We also have to give our greetings. You should go change your clothes in the changing room"

               Phil and I receive our change of clothes from the servant we brought.

               Right now I’m wearing formal clothing, but for the exam I have to wear clothes that allow easier movement.

               When the exam is over, the school will provide us with a uniform.

"Be careful not to get lost. I think there are a lot of maps around here"

"I know, master. You don’t have to worry about us getting lost. You don’t have to treat us as childs anymore"

"Yes…"

               After that, we separated from Raquel and our parents.

               Now it’s only Phil and me.

"Ji-kun"

"What?"

"I should choose time and place, right?"

"It’s okay already! Let me go!"

"Eeh~"

               I drag Phil, who was dissatisfied, and start looking for the changing room for new students.

◆◆◆―――――――◆◆◆―――――――◆◆◆

"…"

"…"

               I am lost.

"Ji-kun…"

"Well, wait Phil. Don’t look at me with those eyes"

               I look at the map hung on the wall inside the stadium.

               … I don’t understand.

               The roads are too cluttered.

"Maybe I should go over there… What road is this connected to…"

"Oh, that’s right. Let’s fly, with Ji-kun’s spiritual art. We can look if it’s the right direction, right?"

               Hmm—…

               If someone saw us, they would get angry.

               The test was failed when we couldn’t even find the correct place, isn’t that quite a punch line…?

"Can’t be helped…"

"It’s decided then! Look, the window over there is open. Let’s go!!"

               Phil jumps at me, is it because she won?

               Although it’s called a stadium, it’s actually divided into a number of buildings, the first stadium, and the second stadium, and there is a courtyard in between.

There is a courtyard in front of us, and there is a window that is open on the second floor of the building on the other side.

               From what I see in this map, I think that that room has nothing inside.

               If it’s like that, then I guess it’s fine.

"Hold onto me"

"Yes!"

               Holding Phil, I jump to the window using [Veiled Wings of Freedom].

               And put my foot on the window frame.

"Eh?"

""Eh?""

               And our eyes open wide.

               Mine, Phil’s and that girl in her underwear’s.

               … Well.

               For the time being, the red-haired girl who seemed to be changing clothes in the room looks about the same age as us.

               In other words, she’s outside my strike zone.

               It’s me after all, a guy who doesn’t get excited even when I see Phil’s naked body.

               I have advanced in life.

"— Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!"

               It wasn’t the same for her though.

               Her scream exploded like an ultrasonic wave—

               At the same time, a bright red fireball approaches us.

"Uwaa!?"

"Hiaa!!"

               We also screamed as we begin to fall from the window frame.

"Aah, I’m sorry!"

               Immediately after hearing that voice, the red-haired girl came out of the window while hiding her body with a curtain.

"It’s okay—"

               Of course, it’s okay.

               We were floating in the air just below the window.

               However, maybe it’s because of that.

               Well, it’s probably the reason.

               That I have perfect eye contact with the girl.

"Ah…"

               There is no situation where the expression of a bitter smile fits so well.

               I couldn’t stand the silence, but I didn’t know what to say, so I just said something.

"Do you need a bra at that age?"

               The girl’s face got dyed the same color as her hair at once.

               And as before, the same scream and fireball exploded again.

◆◆◆―――――――◆◆◆―――――――◆◆◆

"It was my fault for changing clothes with the window open, I admit that! But don’t you guys have common sense, why did you come in through the window with your spiritual art!?"

               The red-haired girl, who was seized by her own escort as she was about to send another fireball at us, began to scream angrily at Phil and I after she got dressed.

"The nerves! I wonder why I didn’t think about someone jumping through the window on the second floor! It was my fault that I opened it! It’s my fault!"

               A child wouldn’t admit it, but she’s angry.

               But well, there is a reason for this.

"I thought it was an empty room. This isn’t the changing room, though? Why are you changing clothes here?"

"Because, isn’t it natural!?"

"No, what is"

"There is no way I would change clothes in the same room as others!"

               Ha—…

               Is that so.

"That’s why I rented an empty room and had someone on the lookout in front of the door! I didn’t expect someone to come from the window! It was a blind spot. I have to be careful from now on!"

               She’s a child that can honestly reflect on it.

               She’s a selfish young lady.

"Ehm… I’m sorry we entered through the window while you were changing clothes"

"I’m sorry!"

               Phil and I apologize to her, but she just nodded.

"I’ll forgive you this time. I also committed a mistake"

               She’s not really acknowledging us…

               The girl then swept her characteristic red hair with her right hand… And pushed out her chest as if full of pride.

"It’s late, but. I’m Azalea Austin, Marquis Austin’s second daughter. You also look like freshmen, are you?"

"Oh, I’m Jack Lieber. Son of Count Lieber"

"Count Lieber? Aah… Now that I think about it there was a county called Daimkuld, wasn’t there"

               Oh, is she looking for a fight?

"The countryside is good, isn’t it? It’s full of greenery. I have heard that Daimkuld if a good land with stable income. You have a good father"

               Now I was praised.

"So, is she your sister?"

               And then, the girl – Azalea turns to Phil, and Phil hugs me tightly.

"I’m Philine Posford! Ji-kun’s wife!"

"Ha?"

"Eh?"

               What is this kid saying?

"Eh… Ehm…"

               Hey! Azalea is in trouble!

"Maybe you meant future bride?"

"No! Wife!"

               Phil is unyielding, and stares at Azalea with the eyes of a stray cat fighting for territory while still hugging me.

"What are you wary of?"

"That girl is an enemy. I can tell by the smell. It’s a woman’s instinct"

               It’s more like wild instinct than woman’s instinct.

"Ehm… D-Do you mean that you are dating?"

               Azalea was trying to talk to Phil even though she was acting like this, good kid…

"That’s right! Ji-kun is mine and I am Ji-kun’s! And we also do many things!"

"Wha…!?"

               Azalea’s face is dyed bright red.

               … Did this lady understand what Phil said?

"M-Many things… That, no way… You are still kids… Doing that…"

"Sometimes we kiss!"

"Kiss…!?!?"

               Yes, Philine-san, can you please shut up for a moment.

               I closed Phil’s mouth with my hand.

"Moga moga moga—!!"

"Phil, you have gone out of control today"

               Your husband can’t keep up with you at all.

"A-Aah…! Pervert…! So pervert…! That stare…! I’m sure you always do it with your mouth instead of your hand…!!"

               Aaagh, I can’t keep up with this whole mess.

               It took a while to Phil’s mouth and Azalea’s brain to calm down.

"I showed you something unsightly"

               With a slightly red face, Azalea clears her throat and tries to change the conversation.

"I’m sorry for butting in, but that’s way too rushed! You are still kids! T-That’s… So! Perverted!"

"About that, I’m sorry"

"What kind of education did you receive!? Who teached you, who was it?"

"Teacher… Would that be master?"

"Yeah. By the way, I’m a student of the [Flame God] Amaterasu, who became the hero in the old war in Margrave Brendan-sama’s territory"

               I’m sorry for Azalea who is explaining this very proudly even though I have never heard of it, I’m not very informed about the world, so I didn’t know about a school with such a cool name.

               Have I ever heard about a Margrave Brendan?

               She sounds like a typical proud student.

               I look at Phil’s face.

               Well, if she wants to know our master’s name, I guess I can say it.

               She’s didn’t tell us to not say it.

"My teacher is Raquel. Phil’s too"

"Raquel?"

               Azalea tilts her head.

"I’ve never heard of such a master. I wonder who that person is"

"She said she’s registered in the spiritualist guild, but she’s not very close to anyone"

"Funn. Then, you two, maybe you should use another master’s name even if you learnt Spiritual Arts from that Raquel person. If you don’t, you may regret it? When you enroll into the academy I mean"

               Her words sounded like a provocation, but her tone of voice sounds like a serious advice.

               However, Phil didn’t catch it. Quiet.

"Promising youths from all over the country gather at this academy. It’s not at the level of a little better than average.

Did you know? It’s said that the group called "Crimson Cats" that was causing havoc was destroyed by only two children. There was a talk about scouting them this year, right?

I wonder what they are like. I would love to meet them and talk to them once!"

               I close Phil’s mouth again when she was about to speak up.

               It’s going to be annoying if we don’t stay quiet.

"In addition…"

               Azalea’s tone of voice suddenly dropped, and her facial expression became more serious.

"It seems that the [Genius Prince] will finally enter the academy…"

"[The genius prince] …?"

               When I tilt my head, Azalea looks at me with surprise.

"Don’t you know? The third prince of this country, who is said to be a prodigy of the royal family! It seems that he has achieved many results in actual battles as a spiritualist!"

               A child prodigy born from the royal family… Is there someone like that?

               Daimkuld is quite far away from the royal capital, so that kind of information doesn’t reach us that often…

               Even if it wasn’t, I was busy doing my best to keep up with Raquel’s training.

"Fufu… My arms are trembling. My talent will only shine if there are suitable rivals"

               She seems to be an overconfident lady.

               She’s burning in fighting spirit on her own.

"Well, do your best, too. This is also a connection, so I hope you can pass the 6th grade at least. Just be careful not to get injured! Then, have a good day!"

               Azelea Austin left with her escort after saying something I don’t quite understand if it was gentle or high-handed.

               In the end she was talking alone…

               Phil finally made a comment after Azelea’s flashy red hair disappeared.

"What a selfish kid!"

               I’ll let that one slide.

               … Is she the type that hates people like her?

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