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45: Sisters and Brothers

 Once the fundamental curriculum uprising died down, Rudel and the others were released from the disciplinary room. The reason was simple, the disciplinary room was now at full capacity, and the teachers called this a special measure instituted for stopping the riot. While Eunius rejoiced, he was the only one who had remedial lessons waiting around the corner, while Rudel and Luecke went to pay Vargas a visit.

Izumi accompanied them, and as the three of them headed for the infirmary, they were greeted by the delightful form of Vargas being fed fruit by Basyle.

"He sure has it easy at a time like this."

Luecke peered in from the entrance. Izumi watched and wondered if that was how people saw her and Rudel... she warmly watched over them. But Rudel boldly entered that dimension of happiness.

"Are you okay, Vargas? So the two of you got along that well... anyways, there was something I wanted to consult with you on."

"... Rudel, you're amazing."

"Yeah, it's Rudel after all."

Luecke and Izumi awkwardly entered behind him. Vargas panicked with a reddened face, but Basyle just grinned.

"T-this is, umm... right, well, that's how it is."

While Vargas tried to give an excuse, Rudel cut right into his main point.

"The truth is, what I wanted to talk about... I'm troubled because I don't know how I'm supposed to treat my brother. Can you tell me what I'm supposed to do? I heard you had lots of siblings, so I thought it might serve as reference."

Alongside the cafeteria incident, Rudel explained how his little brother Chlust seemed terribly afraid. In fear of the first year Fritz, he had holed himself up in his room. Once he had explained that much, Vargas was surprised such an amazing instant had happened while he was hospitalized, but was even more shocked to find Rudel ignoring all that, instead coming to consult on his brother.

"You don't get along with your siblings, right? So I don't think there's much meaning in comparing my family to your relationship with Chlust, but... more importantly, what are you going to do about that first year Fritz?"

Vargas seemed mindful of Fritz and the first years who caused an incident of this level. They had gone too far, but even if they had gotten high on their horses, they were fellow commoner students. Surely he was curious about the punishment in store for them.

"I'm not really interested so I'll leave it to the headmaster. And it's not something I can decide. So how should I interact with Chlust?"

After thinking a bit, Vargas couldn't reach an answer so he started talking about himself.

"Hah, this'll just be about me. I've looked after my siblings, and I'm close to both my little brothers and sisters so I doubt it will serve as good reference, but... if they did something bad I would scold them, and if they came home after losing a fight, I'd teach them how to fight."

"You didn't lend them a hand?"

"No, wouldn't it be strange if I came out into a fight between little ones? And kids are fighting all the time, you know. So if when my little brother was irritated he lost, taught him how to fight and don't lose next time! I cheered him on."

Hearing that, Rudel thought up something. Basyle tried asking in wonder.

"Chlust-sama is going to graduate this year, right? What reason do you have to care about him? I don't think it's revenge, but..."

Rudel and Chlust's relations were terribly twisted. Warped enough it wouldn't be strange to see them as noble siblings fighting over the position of future archduke. Basyle couldn't understand why Rudel would care about such a person. Izumi was also curious.

"I think you should stop getting involved with him, Rudel. You've both got some things to think about, and while I don't think you'll raise a hand against your little brother after he was scared so... what are you trying to do?"

"Yeah, I was thinking to help him back on his feet before graduation. The way things are going, he won't be of any use after he's sent to the borders, and in the worst case, it could lead to his death. Chlust is loved by my parents... I don't want my family to be saddened."

On those words, Luecke felt a slight sense of unease.

"But didn't you say your parents hate you? Do you really have to care about those sorts of parents? My parents were strict, but that was to make me first-rate. I don't get the feeling yours are like that."

While four pairs of eyes gathered on him, Rudel thought just a bit before answering.

"I'm thankful to the parents who brought me into this world, and on top of raising me, they're even letting me go to this academy. It's just as Fritz said, I really am blessed. It's definitely painful to be hated... but hating Chlust for it seems wrong."

Having heard out Rudel's feelings, while they couldn't quite grasp it, they didn't oppose it either. Vargas posed a question as a representative.

"So what are you going to do with Chlust? This is incomparable to just teaching him how to fight."

It was a question tinged with jest, but Rudel was serious.

"No problem. I'll teach him how to fight one on one, and the opponent is also decided. In order to overcome fear, rather than defeating the foe who instilled it, it is more important to win against yourself, or so I read in a book... after the fundamental curriculum's interclass tournament, I'll have him fight Fritz."

Izumi was opposed. Saving Chlust was nice and all, but she didn't see any good coming out of dragging Fritz in.

"W-wait Rudel! Fritz is no good. I'm sure he'll receive a harsh punishment for this incident, and his abilities are too far above Chlust's."

Luecke supported her.

"I'm also opposed. That guy made light of us a few times too many. Enough for even Eunius to get pissed... if Fritz' punishment is too light, the other nobles aren't going to accept it."

Rudel listened in and thought.

"So facing Fritz is impossible... no helping it. I'll give up on Fritz and just train him up, I guess. No, perhaps I can pit him against Eunius?"

"Chlust is going to die..."

Vargas breathed a sigh as he put in a retort.



Perhaps Rudel's thoughts had got across, or Fritz was simply lucky. Through a certain individual's infiltration of the academy, Rudel's wish was to be granted. That individual was the first princess Aileen, and the main heroine of the story. Her interest in her little sister Fina and the academy were the cause.

As Fina had cried out in the previous year's tournament, she wanted to see with her own eyes what sort of life she was living in the academy. From there, she altered her plans, and on that very day when the riot was raised, she was in Fina's room surrounded by high knights, enjoying a cup of tea with her sister.

"You look well, Fina. I wasn't able to say it last time, but it looks like your life in the academy has become a good opportunity for you."

To her big sister's warm smile, Fina answered her true feelings. The elder sister Aileen had some hopes for all sorts of expressions to spread across her expressionless little sister's face.

"Yes, sister... this academy is the best place ever."

(Nothing but fluff and happiness! I really wanted to flirt and fluff up Mii today, while I consulted on how I'm supposed to capture master, but... it's because you snuck in that I never got to!)

"I heard you had someone you liked... father said it was that Rudel boy, but is that true? That has to be a joke, right?"

"... No, it is true. He has given me the cold shoulder but even now I am trying to earn his favor."

(Because of that black hair, my path to fluffadise is... I'll definitely lift that petting ban and make master my own! Even so, good job father! With this, I can begin bridging the gap between us.)

But Aileen's expression suddenly changed.

"Fina, I cannot permit you to love a man like that. Barbaric and selfish... I heard he even went against father. I'm against it! While father and mother don't seem to mind it, we're dealing with one of the Three Lords, so even marriage is possible."

"I'm aware."

(That's what I'm aiming for. This isn't love or anything like that... this is fate! There's no doubt the heavens are telling me to set course for a fluffadise of my own! If it's for my dreams, I'll sell my soul to the almighty fluff!)

As they carried on such a conversation, the high knights suddenly started a ruckus. Wondering what was going on, the two inquired to the situation, and

"It seems there's been a riot in the school cafeteria. A commoner boy and the second son of the Arses Houses got into a feud... it seems Rudel-dono has contained the riot, but the academy has requested we keep on our toes."

"Oh my!"

"... Is that so?"

(The hell are you doing, Chlust? Bringing trouble to master's hands... more importantly, the commoner boy is probably Fritz, master's enemy, right? That guy doesn't do things halfheartedly.)

"I cannot forgive two brothers ganging up to bully a poor commoner! I shall talk with him directly. Gather those involved at once!"

"Eh!?"

(What's she on about? Even if they were feuding, no one said anything about bullying, right? Just because you hate him, you're having your image of him take priority? What's more, the one who quelled things was master. As I thought, master really is unlucky.)

After that, she wouldn't hear Fina's explanation that this was a misunderstanding, and Aileen went off to meet Fritz. It was a fateful meeting. And this meeting would come back to torment Rudel in the future...