After parting with Aristel and Myuhi, Shinichi and Frire walked through the forest.
They were headed for the examination area of 1 – D, but they were only walking so that they could have some time to talk privately.
“—So the students of 1 – D haven’t been afflicted with that mind skill?”
That was the first thing on Frire’s mind.
For people like them who couldn’t sense photon without relying on a photon sensor, Shinichi’s opinion as someone who could see that ring without relying on an external device was invaluable.
“Yeah, if something like that had been casted on them, I would have noticed it already. No one was afflicted with the skill, and she’s with them too. If something had happened, we’d be seeing pillars of lightning, fire, or ice already.”
Shinichi had left Youko with the students when he left.
Frire figured that might be the case when she didn’t saw her with him, and when he confirmed it, she heaved a sigh of relief.
“You really are soft,” Shinichi happily said when he saw her heaving a sigh of relief.
Frire felt like he was teasing her, so she made a glum face and snapped back, “Shut it. What’s wrong with a teacher worrying over her students!?”
“Nothing at all, though it would be nice to know how this student beside you ended up being treated like this.”
Shinichi’s happy face showed no signs of crumbling, and in the face of those sharp eyes of his, Frire found herself faltering.
She had demanded him to take on the role of 1 – D’s examiner substitute without even explaining to him the situation.
Shinichi knew she had her own troubles, but it still felt like she suddenly pushed the issue on him.
Because of that his words came out a little harsh.
“…Don’t get mad.”
That’s why she instinctively pleaded that.
At this point, a hint of annoyance could definitely be seen on Shinichi’s eyes.
“It’ll depend on what you have to say, so hurry up and talk.”
“…T-This morning the principal suddenly came to me while sweating buckets, and asked me if I could take over for the overall supervisor of the exam since the teacher who was supposed to do it was unavailable for health reasons, but I don’t think that’s why he was so troubled.”
”So he was troubled by something else altogether?”
In the first place, the exam supervisor has had a high fever since the previous day, so there must have been another reason why he couldn’t decide the substitute until today. That reason must be why he was sweating buckets.
Or at the very least, that’s what Frire thought.
“Yes, it’s likely he’s being pressured by someone else. ‘Nakamura Shinichi must participate in the exam no matter what’ The principal went about it the long way, but that was basically what he was demanding.”
“Tsk, so they’re finally doing things this way, are they?”
But despite acting as though he was troubled, Shinichi’s expression said otherwise.
He probably expected this much already, Frire reasoned. And it was likely that he already figured out who’s responsible for it too.
“Are these the same people responsible for filtering out the information supposed to be given to you?”
The principal had only spoken to Frire this morning, so despite coming up with some names, she still wasn’t quite sure who exactly was pressuring the principal. At least, until Shinichi avoided a certain topic.
“As far as odds go, it’s most likely them. The next question then would be
Frire knew about his abilities, but to everyone else, he was just a problem child. As for those who knew about his circumstances, they blamed his behavior to a secret he was hiding. And when it came to revealing said secret, nothing could be more reliable than this exam. After all, once he’s taken the exam, he’ll have no choice but to show his abilities.
Creating a dangerous situation for him would also be child’s play for those from the academy. Here, the only other people were his classmates, and raybeasts could be found everywhere. The classes may have been assigned their locations according to rank, but bringing a threat from elsewhere wasn’t that difficult. In fact, Shinichi himself did just that, a fact that nearly made Frire faint when he reported it to her.
“Their goals are obvious, so as a teacher, I can’t just let them do as they please.”
It wasn’t just because she promised to help him.
It was also because there was a high probability of the students of 1 – D getting caught in their schemes.
She didn’t need to worry about Shinichi, but the other students were a different story.
“…That’s why you made me an examiner substitute, huh. With this you can fulfill the requirement of making me participate in the exam, while at the same time, not requiring me to fight.”
“On top of that, the amaryllis can also accompany you. As long as that one is with you, anything those schemers might try to pull will have lost meaning.”
After all, there was no way for them to see how strong Shinichi himself was when the strongest beast was accompanying him as his guard.
If Shinichi participated as a student, she would have to tear the amaryllis away from him, but there was no such need if he were to participate as the examiner. Moreover, she could also ask him to protect the class of 1 – D.
Although it incurred Shinichi’s displeasure a little, it was the best plan she could come up with on the fly.
Alas, for some reason, Shinichi was looking at her suspiciously.
“…You sure did well coming up with that despite being put on the spot. But if you ask me, I think you’re just tacking on some excuses.”
Shinichi eyed her suspiciously, but she couldn’t find the words to retort his accusations.
The truth was that she only really thought of assigning someone to be the examiner of 1 – D and figured that Shinichi would fit the role quite well.
But before she could explain everything to him, he figured it out on his own.
“…How could you tell?”
Being glared at with his eye half closed finally made her surrender.
Apparently, she had no confidence whatsoever in keeping anything from him.
Alas, her words seemed to have struck a nerve, and Shinichi suddenly bellowed.
“Take a good at look at how you’ve been acting until now! Do you really think a woman like you who hasn’t been thinking about the consequences of her actions could be capable of thinking so far ahead!?”
It hurt, but she had nothing to refute with.
Frire felt like he was blaming her for her lack of self-awareness, and that caused her to shrink and be unable to retort.
“It’s true that your decision helped me out, so thank you, but don’t you think it’s about time for you to start thinking before you act!?”
“I-If you’re grateful, can you not scold me so much!?”
She herself knew she needed to think over her actions more, so Shinichi telling her off so much made her retort.
“In the first place, you’re the one who acted thoughtlessly so much today! Normally, you would just tell people not to ask you any questions, and yet! I thought you didn’t want others to find out about you!?”
Surprisingly, Shinichi didn’t actually mind it when she retorted.
All that momentum when he bellowed vanished, and he even hung his head a little.
“I had to warn him, but I’m supposed to be really weak.”
Shinichi had to show him some ‘strength’ in order to threaten him.
When she heard him say that along with his wry smile, she calmed down, then she knit her brows and asked him.
“…But even then, wasn’t that too much?’
“It was also meant to thank him.”
“Thank him? Ahh, because he showed you something nostalgic? Sigh, sometimes I can’t tell if you’re bold or just thoughtless.”
In the end, he had to show off some of the things he was hiding to warn the guy, and on top of that, he even used that to thank him.
In the end, it was hard to tell if this boy was someone amazing or just an idiot.
“Ha ha, I think either is correct, though.”
“…Let’s drop this topic. I think my head is going to hurt.”
Because the boy walking next to her answered her questions without a care in the world, her head started to ache.
A part of her wanted to ask what happened to all that talk about thinking before acting, but for some reason, Frire didn’t pursue it.
Shinichi’s sudden discouragement worried her.
“Like I said I’m sorry this time. I got too excited, and before I knew it, I’d beaten that thing down.”
When she followed the direction Shinichi was pointing in as he apologized, Frire was dumbfounded.
The sight of the gaudy red giant of steel strutting through the land made her do a double take. But it was not because Shinichi had beaten that that she did that. After all, she too could do the same thing, so it only stood to reason that he would naturally be able to beat that thing. At the very least, she believed that something she could do, he definitely could too.
“I’d heard that Earthlings really like giant robots. It seems that’s true.”
That’s why what came out of her lips next were those astonished words.
She thought it was ridiculous to prioritize the aesthetics of a mobile weapon over performance or function.
According to the developer, it’s been equipped with a powerful weapon, but no one’s seen said weapon yet.
“Ahaha, I don’t think all Earthlings are a fanatic for big robots, but I’ve been a huge fan of Grandfizer since long ago, so I can’t really speak for others.”
“That’s the name of that guard robot. It’s based off of a robot from an anime that became popular 10 years ago. Because of that I completely lost my calm, and before I knew it, I’d already knocked it down.”
She understood the feeling of suddenly becoming overly excited after seeing something he was passionate about before.
It was just that behind the laughters of the boy was a trace of disappointment.
“…So the reason you revealed so much was because you wanted to lessen that impression and threaten him at the same time?”
“It was a desperate move, though.”
The boy was wryly smiling when he said that he messed up, but a trace of exhaustion could be seen behind it.
That was a rare sight. After all, he never showed signs of exhaustion even during their mock battles.
But she was one of the few people in the academy who knew the reason behind that.
“Ah, 10 years ago… Right, from your perspective, it’s only been four years.”
She had been briefed on his circumstances before meeting him.
He was drifted away by a dimensional drift, but despite only staying in the other world for 2 years, when he came back, 8 years had passed.
It was hard to say whether that time gap was big or small, but either way, it was hard to imagine how much he must have suffered.
It must have been hard for him to remain calm after seeing something he was once passionate about.
Especially since the 8 years he missed wasn’t just your normal 8 years.