“—Alright, everyone, I want you all to talk about your dreams.”
She was always one for spontaneity.
Of course, there weren’t many people who would be able to talk about their dreams so openly after being suddenly asked, but in the face of that evil smile that declared she wasn’t going to take no for an answer, no one was brave enough to refuse.
“Come on, you can speak in turn.”
In a corner away from the roads were several boys and girls seated together around a bonfire. Refusing the woman seemed scarier than talking about their dreams, and they didn’t want to put on an unseemly display, so they puffed up their chest and spoke about their dreams.
“I want to become a swordsman stronger than anyone! Then I’ll cut down all the bad guys!”
“I want to become someone amazing, then I’ll build a home for kids like us.”
“Good luck.” “I’ll help too.” The others said as they cheered, and
“I’ll make magic formulas simpler. When they’re too complicated, no one can use them. No one’s willing to take on this job, so it’s up to me to make everyone’s life easier,” a girl said.
Despite acting mature, this beast-eared girl, Selene, was actually the youngest of the lot.
“Cheeky brat,” some remarked, but there was a warmth in their voice.
“I’m going to become an adventurer! I’ll enter dungeons and unveil their mysteries!” A brown-haired boy said.
“But you’re such a scaredy cat,” someone said.
“Hey, isn’t there anyone here aiming to become a member of the Knight Order of Rimoa? ,,,We’re technically candidates, you know?”
No one said it out loud, but everyone felt like saying, ‘what a simple guy.’
“Oh, I don’t really mind. It’s just an excuse anyway, so you should all choose the path you want. Ah, but if you want to commit evil, then you better be prepared to face me. That’s fine too, though,” she said with a smile. That was clearly a threat, so everyone shook their heads in fear, while saying they would never do such a thing.
“You’re up next,
The black-haired boy had been doing his best all this time to understand everyone’s dreams, but then the woman suddenly asked him that and waited for his answer.
It took him awhile before he could fully comprehend what the woman had said, then he opened his mouth slowly.
“My, dream, is—”
“—What was my dream again, Isis?”
The sun beyond the horizon was just about to rise. The sight before him had changed so suddenly that Shinichi could only wryly smile.
“Daybreak, huh. The choice of dream is as terrible as usual.”
He had been sleeping on a branch connected to a large tree, and upon waking up, he seriously pondered where to file a complaint regarding the selection of his dreams.
“Is something the matter, Master?”
Youko was on his shoulders as usual, and when she noticed that he’d woken up, she asked that question with concern.
“It’s nothing, just the usual. Looks like any chance of me having speculated incorrectly and the exam peacefully ending is now zero.”
Nothing could be better if the exams just ended peacefully.
He might’ve had a hunch that something was going to happen, but there was always a chance that nothing would happen.
Unfortunately, even that chance had vanished.
Youko realized what he was getting at.
“You saw a different dream from usual, I see.”
Despite that slight pain in her voice, she pointed that out nonchalantly.
Shinichi’s dreams were always repeating
A rerun without any of that forgetfulness that usually came as a form of self-defense by the mind.
But from time to time, he would dream of a different memory.
He’s once told Youko that there’s a meaning hidden behind those dreams.
“Dreaming of the past as a warning is really cryptic, but not only is the accuracy really high, it even feels like I’m blowing myself up afterwards. This is the worst.”
“Ah, but I was able to see them again properly after a long time. As usual, my memory only works when it’s about other people.”
He could remember the dreams of the others and even the expression they wore, but he couldn’t even remember what he said.
Shinichi could only laugh, but there was a tinge of sadness in his laughter.
‘Habit is a scary thing.’
“…There’s something I want to entrust to you,” Shinichi said.
“What is it?”
But Shinichi didn’t have the time to wallow in self-pity right now, so he got rid of all those emotions and spoke to Youko.
“This time we don’t know what the culprits want. We don’t know where and what their objectives are. So you go back to the campus and hold the line there. That’s the weakest point right now.”
Because of the exam all the students and the teachers assigned were in the fields.
There were barely anyone left who could fight in the campus, so it was at its weakest right now.
Of course, even then attacking what was basically the center of the floating city, Kutoria, was still a difficult ordeal for the attackers.
If they planned on attacking, then they would either have to get past the defensive systems of the city or attack the fields where raybeasts ran rampant.
But with the existence of a traitor within the academy, there was no guaranteeing that Kutoria was safe despite all that.
If something were to happen, Kutoria was the easiest place to conquer ‘right now’.
“What about the other places?”
“The defense unit and the security department will take care of the rest. If it’s just some idiots from somewhere attacking, then there shouldn’t be any problems.”
That was Shinichi’s judgment after having observed and analyzed everything they had to offer.
He hadn’t merely been hacking and snooping around just for show.
They have been protecting the peace of the city for the past 8 years.
That’s why he found the school that possessed unique rights and unique personnel ‘complicated’.
But in the end, neither the facilities nor organizations were originally meant for a battle.
“This time around they probably have a plan. So I’m giving you permission to use your fourth tail should you deem it necessary.”
Whether the enemy’s actions in the academy was their main objective or merely a distraction or even if they weren’t planning on attacking it at all, leaving it too defenseless was simply too poor of a plan.
He had just learned of the value of the school’s name yesterday.
If the school were to be destroyed, the shock to society couldn’t be calculated.
Youko knew that too, but she was more concerned about the taboo.
“…A-Are you sure? I was sure you hated it…”
“It’s not a question of whether I hate it or love it. But well… After you use it, it will probably be troublesome, especially for
Youko bowed her head.
“T-Thank you for your concern. I’ll be, careful.”
In a rare display, Youko’s eyes swam as she muddied her words.
Shinichi understood what she was getting at too, so he didn’t say anymore and just patted her head.
“Don’t take on everything on your own. As long as it’s not in front of others, I don’t mind. Good luck!”
“Yes! I’m sure you don’t need this, but… May the fortunes of war be with you, Master!”
Youko muttered as though praying, then she leaped off his shoulder and ran off into the forest.
She ran so fast she truly was like the wind as she headed for the academy.
“Well, at a place like this, beating her in a race is probably impossible.”
Despite the natural road and all the plants and trees, none of them could even hinder her a little.
But that was only natural, after all, she’s been living in a place like this for over 300 years before they met.
Even if this forest wasn’t familiar to her, it was still no different from being her domain.
In just a few seconds, Shinichi lost sight of her even with his mana-reinforced eyes.