『Off Campus Duel! Sword Eater, the Ace of Donrou Crushed by Worst One!』
The very next day after the duel, a newspaper plastered with an article titled that was spread around. There were even photos of the duel taken secretly. The one to write the article was none other than the new Newspaper Club’s Kusakabe. She first suspected it after hearing Ikki and Ayase’s conversation during the selection match. So the next day, she tailed the three of them, including Stella.
「For a journalist, this level of stalking skill is a must!」
That seemed to be the case. And Ikki could only click his tongue since he didn’t feel a shred of her presence even once during everything that happened.
This article was also a big blow to Hagun. Of course, since the opponent was the ace of another school, even if it was an off-campus duel, it couldn’t possibly be a fluke against one of the whole country’s best eight. Even the guys who still harbored a bit of doubt didn’t have any choice but to shut up and accept Ikki’s abilities.
And somewhere among all of them, someone asked this―
Who is stronger? Hagun’s strongest, the current student council president Raikiri  Toudou Touka or the Worst One?
No one knew where that question came from, but that question sparked a fire in the students of Hagun Academy. Raikiri is among the best four! Of course she’s stronger. No, if it’s Worst One then, he might be able to beat her. No way. Yes way. No. Yes!―
Arguments like that broke out through campus and by the time a week had passed, everyone wished for the answer badly.
A week after the duel with Sword Eater. It was evening. Ikki and Stella finished their daily training in the forest recess and were now resting on the bench, sitting side by side.
And during that, Ikki got a mail from Ayase, the contents―it said that her father, Kaito-san, had regained consciousness.
“Eh? Sempai’s father woke up!?”
“Seems like it.”
“What amazing timing.”
“Yeah, Ayatsuji-san also seems to be surprised. Look here.”
Ikki showed Stella the mail contents.
「Father has regained consciousness!!!!!!!」
“Wow, it’s true. She’s surprised all right! There are as many exclamation marks as there are Dr●gon Balls.”
“Well, it’s fine if she’s lively.”
Actually, after the duel that day, they hadn’t seen Ayase even once. Because after that day, when they returned to school―
‘I’ve made Kurogane-kun do everything this time, so I’ll at least decide what to do from now myself.’
Saying that, she went to the selection match executive committee and confessed that she had cheated on the match. Because of Oreki-sensei’s intervention her expulsion was avoided, but her entries in the selection matches were all deleted and she was suspended from school for 7 days. That was why Ikki was glad to find out she was still doing well despite all that.
“But since her father woke up, it’ll be hard for her to return to school.”
Because he had been in a coma for two long years. His body was probably very weak. The rehabilitation would be tough, that’s for sure.
Besides… he has a cardiac disease. Ayase should also want to spend a bit more time with him.
“She won’t come to practice anymore will she?”
“…It’s a bit lonely.”
“But it can’t be helped.”
Rather, it should be a matter to be happy about, since Kaito finally woke up, even though the doctors were saying he wouldn’t last till winter.
“It might be short, but I want those two to spend a meaningful time together.”
As he prayed that with Stella beside him while looking up at the evening sky, his datapad suddenly rang out. Someone called him, and speak of the devil! It was Ayatsuji Ayase.
“Oh! Now she’s calling directly. —Hello?”
“So you are Kurogane Ikki-kun. I heard about you from Ayase. I want you to marry her at once and succeed my doj―” *Bang**Ugh*
“What the hell are you doing? You just woke up after two years here! Sorry Kurogane-kun, the idiot said something rude. I called you because he wanted to say thanks but….”
“Hahaha! You don’t need to hide it Ayase. You love him right? I mean Kurogane-kun. A parent can understand. When you were talking about Kurogane-kun you looked just like a wife talking fondly about her husband. Just like how your mother used to be!”
“Aaaaaaaah! Ahhhhh! Don’t say something so weird―!!!”
“You don’t have to hide it. Papa just woke up, so about you two―”
“Just sleep for another two years―!!!”
“K-K-Kurogane-kun! F-Forget that! T-Talk to you later!” *Click* ―Beep-Beep-Beep―
“…Well, somehow, it feels like Kaito-san will outlive all of us….”
“I was thinking the same thing.”
“But somehow, everything feels resolved right?”
The dojo was returned to Ayase, and Kaito also woke up. Ayase might not come to practice any longer so it was a bit lonely, but well, it wasn’t like this would be the last time they saw her. The case about the Ayatsuji-dojo was full of ups and downs since the restaurant, but since it’s calmed down that was good.
“But, it’s a bit quiet now since we have one less person….”
“Rather, we’re the only ones here.”
“Well there’s that too.”
Today, both Shizuku and Arisuin were absent just like Ayase.
“That’s rare, Alice is one thing but for Shizuku to be absent is….”
“Yeah… maybe she’s tired.”
“…That means… it’s just the two of us… right?”
Stella interlocked her hands with Ikki’s. She was looking up at him with hope, and ruby eyes that seemed to be harboring a slight fever. Ever since the pool, their relationship has become more like lovers, though it still remained platonic.
So signals like this, they were already going with it, both sides. Sitting on the bench, they closed their distance little by little and drew near each other.
Both of them suddenly turned around at that one extra voice.
“Smooch~ …Eh? You’re not going to kiss?”
It was Arisuin who tried to mix in with their kiss from the side.
And as for Stella and Ikki, they fell off of the bench almost instantly.
“A-Alice! W-What are you doing!”
“Oh no~ With that passion, I was thinking if we could do a threesome~”
“”NO WAY IN HELL!!!””
“It’s a joke, a joke~♪ Aww~ Both of you were red, it was so cute~ Ahaha.”
Was their reaction just that weird? Arisuin had tears in the corner of his eyes and had a big smile. “But still, Big Sis is surprised~ Closing your distance like a hedgehog… so slowly, could it be that you’re still green—”
“W-W-We haven’t gone that far!!!”
“Ah, is that so? But that’s some fast progress. Now you can flirt with each other so well.”
“…Rather Alice, you noticed that we were dating?”
“Well, yeah, somewhat. But I confirmed it today~♪”
Stella showed a bitter expression. Arisuin was a sociable character, so he was popular among both the girls and boys. So if they were found out now, it might get bad―that was probably what she was thinking.
Isn’t there some way to fool him? Stella was complaining with her gaze.
No, but that’s impossible now. But if they properly explained the situation, then he might keep it a secret. So he decided to confess everything to Arisuin.
“Hey Arisu, about this―”
“I know, be at ease. I don’t plan on telling anyone.”
Arisuin might’ve guessed their situation on his own. He put his index finger before his lips and winked. As expected of the person who even made that human-hating Shizuku open up, he knew how to handle humans.
“I’ll just enjoy it from a special seat~♪”
Is what it felt like. He should be kicked by a horse.
“Damn, it was a mistake to be found out here, but I guess Shizuku not being here is fortune within misfortune.”
“Right. By the way, have you seen her, Alice?”
“Yeah. I was just late since I was playing UNO with the fans but Shizuku said she’d be training on her own today.”
“Oh, that’s strange. For Shizuku to not be with Ikki. And at her own volition that is.”
“Yeah, she’s probably preparing herself…. Her next opponent is an opponent this time.”
“Huh? Her next opponent has been decided?”
“Oh my, you guys don’t know?”
Does Stella know? Arisuin looked at her but she denied it. Of course, Ikki doesn’t know either.
“Alice? Who is Shizuku’s next opponent? And what do you mean her next opponent ‘is an opponent’?”
Ikki asked, worried. And Arisuin showed a difficult expression.
“She’s the strongest…. The number one of this academy.”
At the same time, the sixth training arena.
It was used as an arena from twelve o’clock until five in the afternoon during the selection matches, but after that it was used as a training area for battle royals that anyone could use.
Of course they would use Illusionary Form. It was different from lessons and without any hard and fast rules. So people who didn’t take part in the selection matches also participated. For that reason, sounds of battles bustled out throughout the arena every day.
But today was different. It was complete silence that ruled. The heat of a battle couldn’t be felt either. Only the absolute zero atmosphere could be felt that overpowered the sixth training arena.
Well, of course that would be the case, because―
“W-What the hell’s with her….”
Because every last one of the knights who battled here had turned into ice sculptures.
“She actually… took out fifty people… all alone…!”
In the audience, a student spoke with a shaken voice. The meaning of his words could be traced back to ten minutes ago.
A first-year came to the training grounds and said this to all that was present: she wanted to face all of the people there alone.
The ones who received this ridiculous challenge were all feeling admonished, probably.
But the result…? Total annihilation. Not a single one of them could touch her. The only one who stood there was―’Lorelei’ Kurogane Shizuku.
She sighed while viewing the frozen prairie she had created. She thought that if she fought with fifty of them, it’d at least become some practice but, it wasn’t enough at all. Was Hagun really of such a low level? This much was just stressing it.
“…However, you are not going to disappoint are you?”
She looked down at her datapad. On the display was a mail from the executive committee notifying about her next opponent. It was the number one of Hagun and in the national top four from last year.
「The opponent for Kurogane Shizuku-sama’s tenth match has been decided to be Toudou Touka, third year class three.」
Finally! Shizuku had a weirdly mesmerizing smile on her face.
She could finally stop fighting while holding back, taking care not to end up killing her opponents. This farce was finally ending.
She wanted to fight an opponent where she could go all out. She had been thinking that for a long time.
This kind of thing, I wonder if it’s like Onii-sama.
Well, if it was ambitions then it’d be closer to Stella…. But, as an opponent Todou had no shortcomings. She was an opponent whom she had to fight with all her strength in order to win.
At last she could fight with all her strength.
At last she could break someone down with all her strength.
Even though the surrounding temperature was so cold it pierced the atmosphere, she could not stop the explosive excitement coming from within her. No, if it was a fever she couldn’t cool down then it’s better not to try in the first place.
Shizuku continued to laugh, as if entrusting her body to the passion of the battle to come.