When Tomoe softly denied his praise, saying that she was still a long way away compared to her mother, Shinichi found himself palming his face. Tomoe’s mother was now just a memory, so she was likely unconsciously making her much bigger than she really was.
“You know, no matter how you put it, using your mother as a standard to compare yourself to is strange. Whether it’s your power and control or the precision and scope of your detection skill, every one of them is already at special class level.
If that’s not enough for you to have confidence, then most of the exorcists in the world have no right to be in business. You should be proud.”
“R-Really? I-If you’re going that far, then I guess I can be somewhat at ease.”
When she heard Shinichi’s sincere impression that was mixed with a hint of dismay, Tomoe became embarrassed and found herself unable to accept it honestly.
The reason her face was so red was because she just wasn’t used to being praised so straight-up like this.
“Wow, I don’t really get it, but it sounds like Tomoe’s amazing, huh,” Ryou said.
“…You’d surpass her in terms of spiritual power, though,” Shinichi said.
“Huh, me?” Ryou said.
Shinichi glared enviously at Ryou with his eyes half-closed.
Perhaps because of their circumstances, or perhaps because they were not blessed with proper guidance and mentors, they haven’t been able to properly evaluate themselves despite the height of their talents.
It was a truly vexing story to a person like Shinichi with no talent.
“I know the two of you have your circumstances, but the exorcist clans really do some pretty stupid stuff, don’t they? To think they would actually expel people such as yourselves that are overflowing with talent… Truly, people with no eye for talent are pitiful.”
Of course, it might actually be precisely because the exorcist clans knew that they were talented that they were treated the way they were, but Shinichi intentionally left that part out.
In a sense, they were proof that accepting blood from outside was a huge success.
They could have been the start of a wave of mixed bloods, so fearing that, the group against that drove them and their parents away.
Of course, that was just a possibility, and it could also be spun to say that it was their fault that their families were driven away.
But even if that was the truth, Shinichi didn’t have the slightest intention of telling them about it.
“Tomoe did tell me that I had a lot of spiritual power, but I don’t really get it.”
To this boy blessed with such vast reserves of spiritual power, it was just a power that he didn’t understand.
Understandably, even Tomoe, who had similar circumstances, found herself groaning with a difficult face.
“Now you know why I make such an unpleasant face from time to time,” Shinichi said.
It was really annoying to know someone with more talent than yourself only for them to be completely indifferent about their talent.
Tomoe humbly nodded in affirmation with a slightly apologetic expression.
“Yes… I’ll be careful from now on.”
“Good. So, were you able to keep up with the conversation until now?” Shinichi asked Ryou.
In the first place, this was an explanation given because of Ryou’s lack of understanding.
With Shinichi’s jutsu-related knowledge – as much as they might be from another world – and his groundings in Onmyouji-related knowledge – as much as they might be from manga and novels – Shinichi was easily able to follow, but it would still be meaningless if Ryou wasn’t able to keep up.
“…Erm, I was able to understand about half, I think.”
Ryou said with his eyes swimming and such lack of confidence that he did not at all resemble that arrogant boy Shinichi saw on his first day of transfer.
With an atmosphere that was completely just like that of a stereotypical athletic high school student that couldn’t keep up with academic work, but was good at physical activities, a headache assaulted Shinichi amidst his sighs and smiles.
“Before training yourself physically, maybe you should train yourself in that aspect first? Your fundamental knowledge and control are way too lacking. You’re basically running on the least needed to function.”
At most, he had just enough control not to lose control, and he knew just enough to defend himself from spiritual threats.
If he just wanted to live a normal life, then that much would be fine, but the problem was that he wanted to fight, so that ‘least needed’ was actually just straight-up insufficient.
“In the first place, why didn’t you train in that aspect when you want to be strong? I know you’re not happy with the way you and your mother were treated, but it’s better to have more weapons.”
Spiritual power was a terrifying ability for people that did not have it.
A power that even Garesto’s equipment could not detect or defend against was exceedingly strong in this day and age.
Even if they have been taught not to use it against normal people, the thought was still bound to cross their mind.
“…Don’t laugh— I mean, don’t get mad, okay?”
“Is it a reason that’ll make us laugh or angry?” Ryou said with a troubled and somewhat difficult face.
The way he said it took Shinichi aback, but he still urged him to say it.
“The man I want to defeat isn’t from the clan. Isn’t it unfair to attack someone with spiritual power when they don’t know how to use it? I don’t want to win by being a coward like the Ootsu family. I want to beat him in his own specialty and win unconditionally.”
Otherwise there wouldn’t be any point to it, Ryou said with a strong – almost obsessive – voice.
Perhaps he was aware that this wasn’t the smartest thing to do, as his eyes could be seen darting here and there, but even then.
Meanwhile, Shinichi’s eyebrows were furrowed just as one might expect.
“I thought it would be something like that… Now, I don’t feel like like laughing or getting angry, but as expected, I’m astonished.”
“I-I know already! If I think about it calmly, I know I have a higher chance of winning if I use it than if I don’t, and I also know that my spiritual power is a great power that I inherited from my mom, but…”
Strategically speaking, the threat of a power that could neither be seen nor blocked was indeed tremendous.
And while Ryou might be averse to his bloodline, so long as his respect and affection for his mother remains, he was not averse to the power itself.
But what astonished Shinichi was none of those things.
“That’s not what I meant, you fool.”
Ryou asked, feeling as though Shinichi was making a fool out of him, but Shinichi just remained quiet for a moment before nodding to himself and seemingly coming to an understanding all on his own.
“…Hmm, what to do? I could tell you, but… Yeah, let’s make it your homework instead.”
“I’ll give you a few days. Figure out what’s wrong with your current mindset. It’s something really simple, and you’ll realize just how stupid what you said was.”
As Shinichi briefly told Ryou to do his best and think about it, he made a mischievous face and laughed.
His face was saying that Ryou would surely make a hilarious face once he has it all figured out.
Ryou became glum because of that, but at the same time, Shinichi seemed to be telling him that if it’s him, he’ll understand, leaving him both embarrassed and frustrated with no recourse but to curse at his complicated feelings.
“Sorry for being stupid. I know I suck when it comes to academics!”
Although Ryou was top 3 as far as the school’s overall ranking went, that was mostly because of his high Status and the practical skills section being heavily favored.
Although he was by no means bad in class and his grades weren’t low, he was definitely at the bottom of the barrel when the high rankers were considered.
“Ku ku ku, don’t pout, don’t pout. You want to be stronger, right? If so, then you have to at least be that stupid or it won’t work out.”
“You were able to gain your current power thanks to Garesto and this academy, but if you want to go even higher, then the only path left to you… is to run. Run straight ahead like an idiot.”
Right? Shinichi turned to him with a laugh, as though seeking agreement.
His logic seemed reasonable but at the same time, it also seemed absurd, yet there was something about the way he spoke that was strangely convincing.
At the very least, something resonated within Ryou.