Chapter 26: Master (4)
The cranberry soup shop had a long table in front of the owner’s kitchen.
A bar table, if you will.
“You’ve had a rough morning! You’re in the same grade, why don’t we sit together?”
I didn’t see any reason to refuse the owner’s offer, so I sat down next to Kaen.
I asked for chicken soup.
When you go to a restaurant for the first time, it’s only right to try the best menu items first.
As I sat down next to her, I felt her shoulders lift for a moment.
My ‘super senses’ were giving me a lot of information without me having to look directly at anything.
‘Is this the first time I’ve seen Kaen this close?’
We hadn’t had a chance to meet yet, as we were still half a world apart.
From Kaen’s point of view, I’m hiding my identity and power, and it’s difficult to approach me.
Anyway, for now, Kaen is playing the part of a normal Class C cadet.
“It’s good to see you! I’ve had my eye on you ever since the placement test…!”
Kaen says to me in a cheerful tone.
Her ‘real’ tone was much more serious than this.
It was a lot clumsier than Aizel’s acting, but hey, acting is acting, so I’ll take it.
“Oh, I’m Zetto.” I bowed my head slightly to Kaen, who was sitting next to me.
Kaen greeted back, her pink hair bouncing in response.
Her emerald eyes were a striking contrast to her hair color.
Meanwhile, Sierra, who was next to Kaen, was flailing her arms through Kaen’s body and staring at Kaen’s head.
The whole place was in a frenzy of bizarre behavior.
It’s a good thing I’m the only one who can see it.
Being scrutinized by Sierra, Kaen stopped eating her soup and put an arm around her shoulders.
It was a pure question so I wondered how Sierra’s presence affected the others.
“It’s just… I just got this unexplained chill… Ahaha…! There’s no reason for that…”
Kaen scratched the back of her head.
More like goosebumps.
I’ll have to tell Sierra to keep her distance later.
Before the chicken soup I ordered is served, Sierra, who has stopped looking at Kaen, says to me in a low voice.
[ Disciple, this woman is not an ordinary person, but she seems to be pretending to be… unusually ordinary ].
I can’t respond to Sierra’s words in front of people, so I let it go.
Sierra seems to have noticed.
I hadn’t gotten to the part about her being the Sword Saint’s disciple yet, but I’m sure I will one day.
Each character had their own story, and I had to intervene to change the outcome for the better, so it was inevitable that I would eventually run into them.
“Here’s the chicken soup you ordered!”
The owner said as he finished making the soup and shoved it in front of me.
‘That came out pretty quick.’
I scooped up a mouthful of soup with my spoon.
“Oh, Uncle, I want another bowl too!”
Kaen, who had been watching me, exclaimed.
“I thought you were eating well from last time!”
The owner, excited by the extra order, also exclaimed.
The Kaen I know doesn’t eat much.
If she was a glutton, Yuri would eat much more.
So the calculating Kaen wanted to stay by my side a little longer, but I don’t know why.
It wasn’t long before I realized she was secretly watching me, so I had no information.
The Kaen of the game should have been playing a normal Class C cadet by now, keeping her face out of the game.
She was acting as if she didn’t exist, and even when I found her early in the game and tried to talk to her, she didn’t respond well.
She’s quick to say something and then walks away.
“Cadet Zetto, you’re so good with the sword even though you’re blind… That must be the result of ‘hard work’…?”
Kaen says to me, scraping her spoon across the empty bowl as she waits for her soup.
“Well… It’s the result of having a good teacher.”
At my next words, Sierra, who was sitting next to me, leaned in close enough to obscure my soup and whispers.
[A good teacher… This teacher hasn’t even taught her student how to swing a sword yet.
An unknown master… What a convenient excuse.
A languid voice echoed in my head that tickled my entire body, though it wasn’t really audible.
Sierra seemed to be amused by my excuses.
“Your master…must be a good person!”
Kaen giggled brightly as she repeated the word master.
I nodded at her and took another mouthful of soup.
[ Pause… I feel like I’m watching a play to kill time with you both talking through thick masks.
Sierra was only vaguely aware of Kaen’s acting but I looked at her and wondered what the hell she was doing.
Kaen and I ate the soup in silence after that.
The soup was moderately seasoned, bland in flavor, warming to the stomach, and easy to eat again and again.
As I was scooping up the soup, I saw Kaen struggling next to me.
She looked very full.
‘If you’re not going to talk to me, why did you eat more…?’
I had just finished my meal and was about to leave the table to make room for Kaen, who was struggling to eat more.
“I’ll come again next time~!”
I said to the energetic owner and left the restaurant.
From behind me, someone rushed out after me.
“That… Cadet Zetto…!”
I turned around at the sound of urgent footsteps and saw Kaen gasping for breath.
“Perhaps you could have a duel with me next time, I’m a swordsman myself… I’m not good, but I’d love to learn!”
Kaen requested a duel but I was unsure of her intentions.
She is Sword Saint student and like Aizel is not necessary for her to attend the Academy.
Sierra was watching Kaen’s mysterious request for a duel.
What are you doing? Accept it.
I mulled over Sierra’s words.
‘Kaen is a disciple of Sierra’s goal, the Sword Saint, but…’
As long as Kaen doesn’t use a sword technique of any kind, I think we can get along just fine.
I don’t think Kaen asked for this duel to defeat me anyway.
There’s no way she’d reveal her sword art in a mundane duel like this.
“…Very well, let’s cross swords sometime.”
I accepted Kaen’s offer but I couldn’t tell if Kaen was pleased or surprised.
“I’ll come find you when I can!”
Kaen smiled and waved at me.
Maybe I should take this as an opportunity to find out what Kaen’s intentions are.
I noticed that he had moved away and stopped putting on my bright face.
He was blind anyway, so a cheerful expression would be meaningless to him. It was just a nasty habit of mine.
I lowered the corner of my mouth and opened my eyes calmly.
‘He’s been watching me, too.
How did he know I’d become a regular at that soup shop every morning?
Judging by his behavior, he was new to the shop.
‘Is it just a coincidence…?’
But he had noticed my surveillance.
After that, I tried to be stealthier with my shadow erasing and just when I thought I was safe, he came looking for me.
He sat down next to me and exuded a shameless air.
‘You’re hiding your power.
I’m sure of it.’
The vibe I felt after he sat down was indescribably creepy.
I didn’t like the timing of his appearance in the store.
It came just as I was finishing my soup, and I ended up forcing myself to eat another bowl.
It was disgraceful but I had no choice but to challenge him to a duel.
‘But you’re still accepting my duel request so easily…Despicable.’
A duel between cadets is a pure competition, but it’s different for those who are in the spotlight.
I’ll be spreading the word before the duel so that many cadets will come to watch.
‘Make him show his strength in front of the cadets.’
He can’t be a cadet in Class A and lose to a cadet in Class C.
I have to match him just right and force him to reveal his strength then I’ll reveal my hidden power, and I’ll steal their attention at once.
It was a devious plan, even for me.
‘How dare you hide your power in front of me?’
I’ve done everything in my power to hide it and I’ve come all the way to the Innocence Academy to get a more exhilarating feeling.
I have months of hard work ahead of me, and I have no intention of sitting idly by and letting him get away with it.
‘However, it also seems that he has accepted the duel too easily…’
That didn’t seem like the choice of a man who wanted to hide his strength and that’s a problem.
For now, I think he’s hiding his strength to attract girls.
A few days ago, I remember seeing Cadet Aizel enter the men’s dormitory for him.
I waited for her to show up, but she didn’t leave the dorm until morning but I couldn’t figure out what that meant and I still blush when I think about that day.
‘What an unscrupulous…’
I stayed up all night, dozed off in class, and was scolded by Instructor Kaliman.
Cadet Aizel wasn’t the only one.
Maybe Cadet Yuri, who was close to him, was also in danger.
‘No way… Is he targeting me…?!’
I sensed the creature’s power reaching out to me.
After all, I was a girl, too.
‘A cool girl, a cute girl, a strong girl, they’re all the same to you.’
I vowed to kick his ass in the duel.
‘But I’ll have to make sure I don’t use my grandfather’s swordsmanship against Zetto.’
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