The Courtyard Incident

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“Commander! It’s urgent!”
“What’s the ruckus?”

During one of the Order of the Academy’s regular meetings, someone barged into the room.
I vividly remembered how pale the male knight’s face was as he spoke.

“There was a report that a noble student nearly killed a commoner!”
“What was that!?”

The room filled with a confused buzz.

“Give us the details.”
“Yes.
Earlier in the afternoon, Deed Marey-sama was spotted arguing with a commoner.”
“Deed was!?”

Blood seemed to drain away from Yuu-sama’s expression.
Deed was Yuu-sama’s personal attendant and a noble himself.
He also served as our dealer when we played cards with Misha and the commoner.

“So that’s where he was this whole time…”
“… Yuu, let’s hear the rest of the report.”

Sein urged the man to continue.

“… Go ahead.”
“It started as a simple argument between the two, but drew a crowd and eventually caused an uproar.”

More and more people got involved with a clear divide between the noble students and commoner students.
I had no doubts that the commoner’s movement lay as a backdrop to this conflict.

“And then… It seems that one of the commoners spoke ill of Yuu-sama.
Unable to hold himself back, Deed-sama struck that commoner with magic.”
“There’s no… Deed would never do something like that!”

Yuu-sama just couldn’t seem to accept it.
I felt the same.
No matter how rude someone may have been, violence should only ever be used as a final resort.
I didn’t know what that commoner had said, but this was definitely an abnormal situation.

“The situation was very messy, so I might not have the entire truth… But, it is a fact that a male commoner suffered a serious injury and had to be carried to the Church’s infirmaries, and that Deed turned himself into the military.”

Having heard that someone had, in fact, suffered heavy wounds, Yuu-sama’s face turned pale.
It appeared that he still wasn’t able to believe that Deed would do such a thing.

“Yuu, you go check in with the military and listen to Deed’s side of the story.
Commander, you good with that?”

Rodd-sama made a swift decision.
Rather than speculating about the unknown, he accurately grasped the situation and gave decisive instruction to move forward.

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“Yes, that sounds good.
The military may still be questioning him, so you might not be able to talk immediately, but even after they’ve finished, I don’t see them allowing him to speak with anyone other than his family or Yuu-sama… So it would be a great help if you could do that for us.”

Commander Lorec agreed with Rodd-sama’s directions.

“With the situation as is, I’d like to assign Lambert to accompany you as an escort.”
“Got it.
I’ll be going then.”

Yuu-sama and Lambert promptly left the room.

“I’d like to hear the commoner’s side of the story too.”
“Shall I go? I’m a commoner as well, so they might find it easier to talk to me.”

The one who offered to go was Misha.
Though on the surface she maintained her composure, I was sure that she felt restless.
The incident had, after all, happened in close connection to Yuu-sama.
While she was still acting rationally, I could also feel that she desperately wanted to do something to help Yuu-sama.

“They probably wouldn’t let Misha through on her own… Claire, you go with her.”
“Understood.”
“Then I’ll be going too.”

When I acknowledged Rodd-sama’s command, the commoner next to me did too.

“It’s in your hands.
The rest of us will check on the current situation in the academy.
If necessary, we’ll deal with the aftermath and settle things before they can get out of hand.”

Rodd-sama looked around at everyone as he spoke.

“Alright everyone, move!”

 ◆◇◆◇◆

The infirmaries were treatment facilities operated by the Spirit Church.
The sick and injured would seek treatment, but the nobles looked down on the facilities with contempt.
This was largely due to how the costs of treatments were calculated.
The wealthier that one was, the more one would have to pay, the poorer that one was, the less one would pay.
As a direct result of these services, the church had amassed immense support from the commoners.
Simply put, support for the church was not exclusively religious.

The infirmaries were located in various places, with one of them being on the Royal Academy’s campus grounds.
The injured male student in question had been carried to that very infirmary.

“We’re still treating the patient, so I must ask that you wait a little longer.”

When we arrived at the infirmary, we explained the situation and asked to meet the injured man, but it appeared that his treatment was still in progress.
With no other choice, we waited in the waiting room.

“U-Uhm… If you’d like, please help yourself to some tea…”

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A red-eyed nun offered me tea from a tray.
After I thanked her and took the cup, she offered tea to Misha and the commoner as well.

“I, I believe the treatment will be over soon, p-please wait just a little longer.”

The nun gave us a quick update and bowed before retreating into the back.

“… Broadly speaking, I bet that commoner said something outrageous and just got what he deserved.”

With nothing else to do, I decided to speak my thoughts.
While violence was perhaps taking things too far, I had no doubts that what that commoner had said only provoked an appropriate response.

“Even assuming that it was an act of self-defense, don’t you think magic might have been excessive?”

Misha offered a rebuttal.
In truth, I thought the same, but my emotions got in the way and I was unable to admit it.

“Hmph, that a commoner could even think to slander a noble is, in and of itself, abnormal.
Perhaps if the situation was flipped… Just when was it that commoners forgot their proper place?”
“Are you saying it would’ve been okay the other way around?”

Even the commoner who normally affirmed everything that I said spoke against me.
That difference in attitude threw me off, and I found myself a little surprised that it had.

“That’s… Well, it wouldn’t be good for nobles to use loose language or slander others either…”
“Ah, but if it’s toward me then come on and bring it.
No, please, I insist!”
“Show some restraint!”

But it wasn’t long before she was back to her usual self, so I told her to consider the proper time and place.

“Claire-sama, we’ve just finished with his treatments.
Please, come this way.”

A voice called out to us, and we were guided to meet the injured student.

“Wha…!?”

I gasped the moment I saw him.
The male student had suffered injuries much heavier than I had imagined.
I heard that he had been hurt, but I hadn’t expected his entire body to be wrapped in bandages… Regardless of what he had said, it couldn’t be fair to claim that this was an appropriate consequence.
“Excessive.” Misha’s words suddenly flashed through my mind.

“…”

As Misha and I both stood there unsure of what to say, the commoner knelt down on her knees and looked straight into the male student’s eyes.

“My name is Rei Taylor.
What’s your name?”
“… I’m Matt.
Matt Mon.”

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“Matt, we’ve come as representatives of the Order of the Academy and would like to hear your side of the story.
I understand that the wounds are still fresh, but could I ask for your cooperation?”
“I refuse.”

Matt made his refusal clear in word and tone.

“The Order is just gonna side with the nobles, aren’t they? I have nothing to say to you.”

From what I had heard, Matt was involved in the commoner’s movement.
That of course meant that he already held animosity toward nobles, which had consequently gotten worse as a result of this incident―It came as no surprise that he held hostility toward us members of the Order as well.

“The Order of the Academy doesn’t just blindly take the side of the nobles.
We’re here to support the entire student body.”

Misha tried to persuade Matt in a calm tone, however―

“I’ve heard those empty words all too much.
Leave.”

With that, Matt turned his back toward us.
It appeared he wasn’t even willing to give us the chance.

“Hey, Matt… I don’t want to put it this way, but I think it’d be in your best interests to talk.
You and I are both commoners, we both know that the odds are stacked against you by default.”
“! I knew it! There’s no justice in this kingdom! That’s why we must bring true justice―Argh!”

It appeared the commoner’s words rubbed Matt in the wrong way.
As he tried to force his body up off of the bed in rage, Misha rushed to calm him.
The commoner continued.

“Matt, calm down.
We’ve come here to try and prevent those unreasonable outcomes.
So, could you tell us what happened?”
“…”
“Please.”

I was caught by surprise.
The commoner had put her usual mischief to rest and addressed Matt earnesty.
She and I were meant to be the same age, and yet, as she spoke to relax Matt’s obstinate heart, she somehow appeared much, much more mature.

For a time, Matt remained silent before reluctantly opening up.

“It started… As just a simple argument.”

It would appear that Matt was actually the activist that had previously reached out to Yuu-sama.
On behalf of the Commoner’s Movement, he asked Yuu-sama for the support of the church, but his attempts ended in failure.
While his companions tried to console him, saying that it couldn’t be helped, Matt felt depressed that he hadn’t been able to contribute as much as the others.
It was then that Deed warned him to stay away from Yuu-sama.

“Who do the nobles think they are? While they hog all the wealth and authority to themselves, they don’t spare even a thought to us commoners.
Are we not even allowed to protest?”

From that line of thought, Matt’s criticisms continued.
While Deed initially offered calm, logical responses, the continued insults towards his master, Yuu-sama, eventually got to him.
Impassioned by anger, Deed said, “How can you be so ungrateful even as you live under the protection of us nobles!”

“As our argument continued, a crowd gathered around us…”

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Then, it became an argument between the noble students and commoner students.
The exchange that could no longer be considered a discussion continued to escalate and―

“I was just so frustrated… So then, I… Went and said it.”

―Royals, nobility, they’re all just parasites living off of the commoner’s taxes.

“The nerve!”

In response to his unbelievably offensive statement, I felt my anger surge.
Did this man have any idea just how much effort and dedication went into preserving their lifestyles?

Just as I was about to say as such, the commoner stopped me.

“Claire-sama, I ask that you please refrain.
Right now, listening to Matt’s story is our top priority.”
“… Urgh.”

It frustrated me to admit, but in this case, she was right.
When I glanced at Misha, she too shook her head from side to side.
I decided to, at least temporarily, lay my anger to rest.

“Then? How did Deed-sama respond?”
“Up until that point, he maintained a sour expression… But after I said that, with the face of a demon he pulled out his wand and the next thing I knew, I was engulfed in flames.”

Perhaps recalling the experience, Matt hugged his shoulders and shuddered.

“When I came to, I was already here on this bed.
That was also when I realized exactly what had happened to me.”

Matt’s voice was filled with frustration, and tears welled up in his eyes.
When I saw that, I felt any anger that I had left toward him shrivel up and disappear.

“If the Order of the Academy is really there to support the entire student body as you say, then please, see to it that he receives a harsh punishment!”
“It will be the academy that decides the outcome, and we’ll have to hear Deed-sama’s side of the story too.
But rest assured, we’ll do everything that we can to prevent a tragedy.”
“… Please.”

Leaving those final words, Matt hid himself underneath his blanket.

“We’ve heard what he has to say, let’s let him rest.”
“That’s true.”
“…”

We made our way out of the infirmaries.
All the while, I couldn’t help but think…

―Who exactly is in the wrong, who exactly is to blame for this?

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