Third period ended and their lunch break began.
Nell did as she was told and walked with with Isabella.
The place she was brought to was…
“This place is…the arena, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. It’s a place that’s basically open only for urgent events like duels, but right now…certain students are making use of it everyday. Did you know about that?”
“No, not at all.”
“It’s a highly classified piece of information, so that’s only natural, I suppose.”
“Let’s talk quietly from here on. I’m sure they’ve started sparring right about now.”
Nell felt like she was sticking her nose into something she shouldn’t, but since she trusted Isabella, she decided to follow after the princess silently.
They entered through the general admission entrance and then climbed up some flight of stairs. It would seem like Isabella intended to peek in from the audience seats. Nell was reluctant but still followed behind.
Halfway up through the stairs, Nell could already hear the sound of things clashing against one another. The more they got closer to the arena’s grounds, the louder the sounds became.
And when they finally reached the audience seats, Nell saw the two students who were fighting in center with their metallic training swords.
Those two were…Herbert and Marlon.
“Gah, shh, haa!”
Nell was quite enthusiastic about her magic training, but the times she held a sword in her hands could be counted in one hand.
She was rather poor in learning the sword, so she thought she would be better off focusing on learning magic when it came to protecting herself. That line of thinking was further reinforced by her father’s overprotective nature.
Moreover, in a small corner of her mind…another possible reason for her to avoid learning the sword was because it made her remember Herbert who was so devoted to his swordsmanship when they were young.
Regardless, even Nell could tell that there was something off about the way the two fought.
First, Marlon swung his sword.
Herbert saw the attack and then avoided it accordingly.
After avoiding, Herbert then launched a sweeping attack.
Put in that way, nothing was out of the ordinary.
Seeing it in person though, everything about that exchange seemed weird.
Nell saw Herbert avoid each of Marlon’s attacks.
By all rights, Marlon should have been much faster than Herbert who has grown so fat he was called a pig. And yet, Herbert avoided only after seeing those attacks. There shouldn’t have been enough time to avoid by then, but somehow, Herbert still managed to avoid at the very last moments through what could only be described as high-speed movements.
Those high-speed movements were like the scene change in a play, only it was instantaneous. One moment the scene was happening inside a castle and in the next the stage was a forest.
After avoiding another of Marlon’s attacks, Herbert thrust at Marlon. Of course, it was a thrust made with that high-speed movement.
Marlon contorted his body to avoid the thrust, but he wasn’t able to dodge it completely and it grazed his side.
Such exchanges happened over and over.
Nell was unsure if she was simply dreaming this up. It hurt when she pinched her cheek though…
This could be nothing else but reality, she concluded.
Nell couldn’t explain how Herbert was moving in such a swift yet disjointed-looking way.
Even saying that he learned some special footwork technique still wouldn’t allow him to be that quick.
It was as though time flowed differently for Herbert…
Nell shut down that theory as soon as she thought of it. It was just too ridiculous to be true.
After all, the power to control time only existed in fairy tales. And so, banishing such thoughts to a remote corner of her mind, she resumed watching the fight between Herbert and Marlon.
This time, things were very different.
Herbert was no longer moving like he did just a moment ago, and was now being hit by Marlon’s barrage of attacks. Herbert did try to turn things around, of course, but Marlon’s barrage just wouldn’t let him.
Strangely enough, even with bruises forming all over his body, Herbert’s will to fight still didn’t show any signs of wavering.
No matter how many attacks he had received, he still put into action his body as well as his mind in order to find an opening for a counteroffensive.
Seeing that, Nell remembered something.
It was from a time where she and Herbert were still close.
During that time, Herbert was getting all beaten up because of Rodeo’s training.
<<Nell, I promise you, I’ll win against Rodeo someday!>>
<<Of course you will! And I’ll be watching you in that very moment!>>
Nell’s consciousness was then brought back to the present.
Unlike in the past, the Herbert before her was fat and ugly. Yet, his appearance was the least worrying change he had. So why was it that, despite all of the changes to his appearance and everything else, Nell couldn’t pry her eyes away from him right now?
In response to Herbert’s continued persistence, Marlon went for an all-out attack.
The thick ray of light that Marlon fired managed to pierce Herbert’s leg.
It was such an intense attack that it made the scent of burning flesh drift in the air.
Unsurprisingly, that made Herbert fall down and reluctantly surrender.
Up until the end, Nell’s eyes were glued to the fight.
In fact, Nell kept her eyes on Herbert and his wound even after the fight concluded.
It was only after Marlon casted a healing spell on the wound that Nell finally breathed a sigh of relief.
Afterwards though, she raised her head as though she was startled. When she did, she found Isabella grinning like she just saw something so amusing.
“I thought I should explain some things…but it looks like I don’t?”
“W-what do you mean?”
“I mean, do you need an explanation?”
Nell was curious about Herbert’s movements, but now that her friend was watching her expectantly, she refrained from asking.
In the distance, Herbert and Marlon stood up together and then shook hands.
Nell wondered if that was the thing called male camaraderie. Despite the two boys being fierce enemies just a while ago, they now stood with cheerful expressions on their faces for some reason.
It was a world Nell didn’t understand all that well.
At any rate, Nell started leaving the arena as she removed the dust on her uniform with her hand. The arena apparently hasn’t been cleaned recently.
This time, unlike when they entered, Isabella was the one following after Nell.
Nell still hated Herbert.
However…there was no way she disliked seeing Herbert strive his hardest.
Is this just some remnant of his past self? Will he one day go back to being like that again? I don’t really know, but…but I’ll come again later.
Nell decided that if she had the time to spare, she should probably go watch the two train again.
Despite being unable to sort her feelings, Nell left the arena.
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