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Chapter 6 – Unprecedented Entrance Exam
The season was nearing autumn, and the mornings and evenings were getting a little chilly. In one corner of the castle, the knights’ training ground was bustling with activity.
“Ah… t-that’s right…! There, you should press him at once…!”
“Arara, Chris. Do you really want Ain to win so badly?”
“Of course! If it’s Ain-sama, he will surely be able to win!”
Chris showed an excited look next to Olivia as they sat down in the corner of the training ground. In front of their eyes, there was a small stage like an arena. The people standing there were Ain and a castle’s knight, and they were in the middle of a mock battle.
Ain’s height is taller than average, but he is still a young boy. But rather than strength, he uses skill and tact to wield his sword against a full-fledged knight.
“Kuh… I can’t get my aim… in line…!”
To put it badly, he moves around restlessly; to put it better, he moves in a small circle and moves around the knight busily. One can tell that the knight’s physical strength has been exhausted, and he’s out of breath.
(Thanks to Dullahan’s magic stone, I can somehow cover my physique…! It’s a bit unfair, but I have to use it effectively…!)
It’s a battle of swords and physical strength, without the use of illusory hands. However, there is no denying the fact that he can compete in this way thanks to his significantly increased stats. However, it is also true that the effort of Ain himself is also involved here, and it is also true that he is able to cross over with his skills.
“…Ain-sama… it’s my win!” Said the knight while he swung his sword. Ain dodged and took the opportunity to slip into his chest. The knight desperately tried to move out of his reach, but Ain was already in complete striking distance.
Eventually, Ain’s dagger is swung up.
The dagger was pointed at the knight’s neck. It was at that moment that the knight tried to adjust his stance.
“──T-this is my defeat.”
Then the knight dropped his sword to the ground, raised both hands, and hoisted a white flag.
Today, it’s been a little over a year since he arrived in Ishtalika. Ain had finally defeated the elite knights of the castle. As the sound of the wooden training sword rolling echoes, Ain finally realizes it.
“I’ve won… I’ve won, mother!”
The bright smile on his face oozes a strong sense of accomplishment and happiness. He walked lightly over to where Olivia was sitting and told her how happy he was.
“You really worked hard… Ain. It was really cool.”
Olivia hugged Ain, unconcerned about the sweat he had beaded and without worrying about the dress she was wearing getting dirty.
“Chris-san, thank you so much for always teaching me how to use a sword!”
Then, he thanked Chris, his sword instructor, and bent his waist to bow his head. She hurriedly waved her hands in confusion, probably because the crown prince had bowed to her.
“A-Ain-sama! You shouldn’t do that…! I’m happy for you too, so please raise your head!”
Her hair was as beautiful as gold thread, and her gesture was cute despite her appearance. Although she’s a bit clumsy, her rich emotions are very appealing.
“…Come, Chris, why don’t you give him a compliment too?”
C-compliment? Said Chris, flustered.
She didn’t know how to praise him, and in the first place, how could she praise the crown prince himself?
Chris didn’t feel calm inside, but after repeating a few breaths, she came up with an idea.
“N-now, if you’ll excuse me? You’ll have to excuse me…!”
Holding back the urge to tsukkomi, Ain waited patiently to see what she would do. Eventually, she approached Ain, bent down, and brought her gaze close to Ain.
“──You’ve worked hard a lot and a lot, haven’t you? You were really strong and admirable in that fight just now…?”
Ain wondered what she was going to do, but she dropped to her knees, looked at him, and slowly reached out with her hand. It went to Ain’s head and gently stroked it with her tender hands.
(I get petted a lot… I’m still a kid, after all. It can’t be helped.)
As her long hair fell in front of her chest, a soothing and gentle scent surrounded Ain.
“Ah… U-um… Thank you very much.”
He seemed dumbfounded and lost his bearings, but his embarrassment prevailed, and he put on a complicated expression.
“H-huh? So you didn’t like it after all…? P-please don’t look at me like that…!”
“Geez, Chris. It’s not that Ain dislikes it──.”
Yes, he doesn’t dislike it at all. It’s more like…
“Chris-san! It’s okay! Please don’t look so sad! And mother, too! It’s embarrassing, so please don’t say it!”
It was quite a shocking sight to see the face of a beautiful woman who looked so sad in front of him. If a single tear had been shed, it would have been extremely destructive.
“Fufu. She’s so cute, so… it’s a pity.”
Olivia made a gesture of sticking out her tongue like a naughty child. Ain inwardly praised her, saying that she was as pretty as ever but still cute.
But still, it felt good. It felt as if his body was filled with vitality, and his head was filled with a sense of comfort. Then the sound of applause reached his ears.
“You have achieved it, Ain-sama!”
Lloyd approached Ain with a big smile on his face, and Ain wondered how long he had been here.
“Now, I cannot allow you to lose to His Highness, whom you are supposed to protect. Run around the outer wall until the sun goes down.”
He should be praising Ain for winning, but… The knights who were ordered to do so bowed to Ain and Olivia and ran to leave the training ground.
“Lloyd-san? Um, you shouldn’t be so strict.”
“It’s not like that. Ain-sama has indeed become more reliable, but from the standpoint of the marshal, it would be unacceptable to do nothing for him.”
“That said, it just so happens that thanks to the skills I was born with, I was able to absorb magic stones…”
Therefore, he felt a little bad even if he could beat the knight.
“No. That should be the result of your own efforts, Ain-sama!”
Lloyd returned in a strong tone.
“If not for your training, you would not have been able to use your power like this! Therefore, this is all a result of your own efforts!”
Olivia and Chris seemed to agree with that opinion, and both of them nodded deeply.
Ain was praised so directly that he smiled a little embarrassed.
“Even so… it’s hard to believe that you’re the crown prince.”
It’s not a disparaging remark but a compliment in his own way. His training gear is covered in dirt, his wounds are still healing, and his brown hair is disheveled from sweat. It’s not just that he’s mischievous, it’s that he understands Ain’s sense of purpose, and that’s why Lloyd is so happy to see him like this.
“──Even if it’s just one step at a time, I’m sure you’re getting closer to His Majesty the First.”
He mentioned the existence that Ain admired.
“Well… with this kind of dirt, people won’t believe you when you say you’re the crown prince.”
With sweat and dirt and wounds that are still healing, this is not how a crown prince should look.
“By the way, I’m ready as well, so let’s get started when you’re ready.”
What is it that he is getting ready for? What is he planning to do? Ain wondered. He looked at Lloyd with a puzzled expression, and his lips loosened up in a chic way.
“I’m going to have a mock battle with the knights as well. The only reason I haven’t crossed swords with Ain-sama until now is because I was concerned about the danger involved. But Ain-sama defeated the knight… So that’s how it is.”
…I see, then I won’t be hesitant to be allowed to practice with a partner with higher skill. Ain said.
Ain picked up a sword and headed for the arena. Lloyd’s huge body is standing in front of him and is looking more powerful than ever.
(It’s not just like a big rock, it’s like a big mountain.)
He has no hope of overcoming Lloyd, and the result is obvious since he will be practice against a higher skill partner. However, the prospect of a mock battle with Marshal Lloyd, the pinnacle of the superpower Ishtalika, made Ain’s heart leap.
(He’s a man who has risen to the top through hard work. It’s not going to be easy…)
“A-Ain-sama! Lloyd-sama is not good at the… bottom step!”
Ain laughed and replied to Chris’s words as she shouted while expanding her hands.
“Wait, Chris! That’s not the kind of thing you should be teaching!”
Next to her, Olivia laughed and put her hand over her mouth. On the other hand, Chris was probably wondering whether to say something, but her desire to cheer him up won out in the end.
“What else? Is there anything else?”
“There are no others! So… please do your best!”
She closed her lips tightly, grasped her hands, and held them in front of her chest; she must be really rooting for Ain.
(There are none, huh…? No, I’ll do my best.)
As soon as his strength was restored, he took a step toward Lloyd.
“──Hey, isn’t it strange! Lloyd-san! It’s not the kind of power you should show to a six-year-old boy.”
The training swords are supposed to be made of wood, so how did this happen? Seeing that the ground has been gouged out as if a small meteorite had hit it, the extraordinary power is astounding.
“However, to be able to dodge such an attack… you have really grown up strong!”
There was no way he could catch such an attack! He desperately tried to dodge it while looking at the situation.
Lloyd is fast, robust, and too strong.
“I-I give up…”
Realizing that it was too early for him, he collapsed to the ground when he was at his limit. He would have liked to praise himself for having fought so well for a few minutes.
“Um…would you like some water?”
“Ah, Chris-san… I’d like to have some, but I think it’s better if you stay away from me at the moment.”
When she approached him with concern, Ain answered with a tired look.
“…I’m so exhausted that I might end up sucking the magic stone in your… body.”
She then hurriedly backed away and hugged her bountiful chest with her arms.
“You can’t absorb it, okay…?”
(Why are you holding your breasts, Chris-san?)
Thus, Ain’s training was over for the day, and he went to the bath, exhausted.
After getting ready for bed, Ain went to Olivia’s room.
“Ain, you should be getting ready to go to the academy soon.”
As he sat down on the sofa and had a brief conversation with her, she started to say something like this. It’s already autumn, and Ain will be seven years old when winter comes.
He was curious about the academy, as he had heard about it.
“What kind of academy am I going to?”
“The academy in the royal capital, where father is the director. …If you prefer a different school, there is one in the port city…”
But that means living alone, away from Olivia. As proof of this, she wipes away a few tears.
“I think the academy in the royal capital would be best. That way, I won’t be separated from mother.”
The two of them were sitting next to each other on the sofa. Olivia hugged Ain, as she was happy with Ain’s words.
“Sheesh… you really are a good kid, aren’t you? Then, you might go to the academy in the royal capital by water train.”
“Huh? Is it okay for the crown prince to go to school by water train?”
“It’s okay because you’ll be accompanied by a guard.”
I see. So it’s okay if there is a guard. Said Ain.
He was surprised that it wasn’t as strict as he thought it would be.
“Yes, I’ll tell you what kind of academy Ain is going to.”
Olivia began to explain about the academy in the royal capital.
The name of the academy is the Royal Kingsland Academy of Ishtalika. Kingsland is the name of the royal capital of Ishtalika, and they are using it as it is. However, to make matters worse, there is also a National Kingsland Academy.
(How confusing… Please rename it…)
The Royal Academy has the name “Royal” on it, and its director is Sylvird. In addition, the difficulty level of the Royal Academy is higher than that of the National Academy, and the number of students is less than half of that of the National Academy.
“So, you can take the entrance exam based on your strengths──.”
For example, history or law. Of course, you can also take the exam based on your skill with swords or magic.
However, Ain was confused.
“In my case, my strengths are Toxin Decomposition EX and the dark knight.”
It’s hard to determine how to use them. It’s so unique that he’s not sure if he should even use it.
“Yeah… I also think those two are difficult to use.”
Normally, a dark knight would not reside in a person. He should avoid using it for the test. In that case, he would have to use Toxin Decomposition EX. But because of the Toxin Decomposition EX’s uniqueness, there are no plans to release it to the public yet.
“So I have to do it with a sword…?”
“It’s unfortunate that you can’t use the power you have, but I think it’s for the best.”
“Well… if that’s the case, I’ll take the entrance exam with swordsmanship.”
Lloyd and Chris. He could show them his polished swordsmanship. His efforts are such that he has gained the gift of training. Moreover, the training he had continued after arriving in Ishtalika. Perhaps it was because of these two things that Ain was able to become what he is today.
“Ain can even beat the knights of the castle. I’m sure you’ll be fine in the sword test.”
“I’ll try my best. Speaking of which, when is the exam?”
“Because there are so many people taking the exam, it’s held every month before winter.”
If it’s held every month, Ain thought, he might as well finish it quickly. It’s not something that needs to be dragged out.
“In that case, I’d like to finish it right away, and can I take the most recent entrance exam?”
“Yes, I understand. I’ll take care of the necessary procedures then.”