Chapter 19: Is that right?
Following that, the days passed without incident.
She attended classes at the academy and spent her free time after school in the library’s hidden room, talking to Brandt and going shopping with Regina.
She’d never met Keira or her cronies. She had seen them from a distance in the hallway, but when Keira noticed Anastasia, she ran away as if fleeing.
—However, I have been getting a lot of stares from girls when I pass them.
The majority of them were second- or third-year students, but there were some first-year students as well. But they were all new faces to me, and none of them had ever spoken to me.
It was an unpleasant feeling, but Anastasia left them alone because they only glared at her and didn’t do anything to her.
“Today’s request was… Oh, there’s a moss collection request.”
Diving in dungeons on weekends had become a habit.
—It’s as if we’re a party, with everyone present.
Hoyle took and passed the Hunter promotion exam at the end of the month, making him a rank 5 hunter in the Magic Kingdom of Shannon.
Anastasia and Regina are still in rank 6 because they have not achieved enough and are unable to take the promotion examination.
Brandt is still at rank 4.
The four of them are going into dungeons again today.
They always go to dungeons that can be completed in a single day. This is perfect because today they were tasked with collecting mosses.
“I didn’t expect Gina to go to the dungeon every time.”
Regina’s prejudice against hunters was obvious at first, but she now appears to be happily heading for the dungeon.
Regina chuckled when Anastasia muttered something in response.
“This surprised me as well—but I can feel my magical spells getting better, and it’s becoming increasingly enjoyable.”
Under Anastasia’s tutelage, Regina had been practicing magic spells using dungeon monsters as test subjects.
Her basic skills were previously strong, so she is clearly improving.
“…You’re pretty good for a vertical roller, aren’t you?”
(TL: He’s referring to her hair.)
Hoyle mumbles in a frustrated tone.
Hoyle hasn’t gotten much better. He used to be able to use intermediate magic spells and was extremely powerful, but he hasn’t gotten much better since then.
“I believe Hoyle-kun relies too heavily on his own magical power—with brute force, even inefficient methods can be completed—but you’ll understand how it works if you learn the theory, so you’ll be able to improve the quality of your magic spells.”
Hoyle sighs as Brandt rebukes him.
“Theory… I’m not particularly good at it… but when you see it in action, I suppose it’s true…”
Regina is learning the theory well, and she seems to have some thoughts about the speed of her progress.
Anastasia is moved by her significant progress since the beginning, when practical battles were more important and theory was just a theory on the table.
“First semester exams are coming up; are you alright? If you fail either the practical or written exam, you will have to make up your vacation time with supplementary lessons.”
“… Huh?! What in the world is that?!”
Hoyle screams. He obviously had no idea.
But he is the only one making a racket.
“You guys knew about this!”
Hoyle bites Anastasia and Regina, who are unconcerned.
“Without a doubt. But I don’t think it matters…”
“There is no such thing as a red mark in either the practical or the written examinations.”
Anastasia and Regina can both pass their practical and written exams with flying colors.
It’s not a red flag; rather, it’s a race to see who’s at the top.
“Tsk… that reminds me… darn it… I’m the only one…”
Hoyle looks to the ground in shock.
“Isn’t it better to study theory more thoroughly through supplemental lessons? Even a bird brain like yours can learn this way.”
“…I was planning to spend my semester break in my home country—my younger brothers and sisters are anticipating my arrival.”
Hoyle lacks the energy to respond to Regina’s sarcasm and instead answers truthfully.
“That’s right! senpai! You, like me, are a commoner! He didn’t get much education either, but he’s at the top of the third-year students! Then he must have a loophole! Tell me… Please!” .”
Hoyle appears to have found solace in Brandt.
But Brandt simply laughs.
“No… I’m a quick learner; since freshman year, I’ve been at the top of my class in both written and practical exams.”
Hoyle is stomping on the ground and shedding tears of frustration.
In his mind, the red mark seems to have already been confirmed.
Suddenly, Brandt claps his hands and smiles brightly.
“Well… Yes, I have a brilliant idea. I’ll show Hoyle-kun how to study for the exam; I’m familiar with the trends for the first semester of the first year, so I believe he can avoid a red mark for the time being.”
Anastasia can’t help but notice Brandt’s smile is a little suspicious, but Hoyle jumps at the help that is thrown in front of him.
“But only under one condition—the location is the library. People will notice you and will most likely comment on your presence with me. If that’s alright with you, then…”
“Yes! Yes! They’ll tell you that a first-year student is being taught by a third-year student at the top of the class, and that I’m being cheeky, aren’t they? It makes no difference if I can avoid red marks! Besides, I’m aiming for the top of the academy too!”
Hoyle exclaimed exuberantly with a repeated nod.
It was supposed to be a good image of senpai teaching the junior students how to study, but Anastasia got the impression that Hoyle was making a bargain with the devil.
Brandt and Hoyle were later seen studying in the library.
There was initially excitement around them, but it quickly died down, possibly due to the location of the library, and it appeared as if they were being watched only briefly.
Anastasia’s surroundings have also changed since the start of their study group.
The number of girls staring at her began to dwindle, and by the end of the first week of the study group, they had all vanished.
The girls, who had previously stared at Anastasia so much that they had memorized her face, now averted their gaze when they saw her.
“…Today, Brandt-sama removed the trash from Hoyle-kun’s hair.”
“Well… that’s nice~ But did you know yesterday…”
She could hear the girls whispering in the background at that moment.
Anastasia is perplexed and asks Hoyle about it right after class.
“What’s going on…Senpai is being unusually nice to me, but I’m a little scared. N-No, he teaches me carefully and patiently, and he is easy to understand. I appreciate that, but… more and more people, particularly girls, are looking at me with a warm smile on their faces, which scares me as well—for some reason, it gives me chills…”
Hoyle responded a little tiredly.
Anastasia is perplexed as to what is going on, and fear wells up within her.
This time Regina pulled Anastasia to the edge of the classroom and whispered to her with a mysterious look.
“… There’s a rumor going around that Brandt-senpai is dating Hoyle.”
Anastasia spouts out.
—I thank God that I didn’t put anything in my mouth.
“There used to be rumors about Tasha, but I’m sure that was just a bonus because she was a member of the same party as Hoyle…”
Anastasia wonders if this is why the girls aren’t staring at her anymore.
She wonders if Brandt had a crush on Hoyle and wanted to teach him how to study because of it.
“… I’m not in a romantic relationship with Hoyle-kun—I was just trying to divert their attention away from the numerous people who appear to be offended by Anastasia.”
Anastasia cringes as she hears a whisper diagonally behind her. Her heart is pounding like a fast bell, and she’s too startled to speak.
Somehow, Brandt was there.
“Come on, Hoyle-kun. I’m here to pick you up. Let’s study again today.”
Brandt calls out with a fresh smile, and the rest of the students in the classroom buzz.
Brandt, the best third-year student, has traveled all the way to the classroom just to pick up Hoyle.
Anastasia thinks quietly to herself that this will be good fodder for the girls who have been gossiping about her.
While looking pressured, Hoyle quietly follows Brandt.
Anastasia is stunned as she watches them walk away.
This was apparently done to discourage the girls from staring at Anastasia.
But what does implying a romantic relationship with Hoyle mean?
Is it a good idea to sacrifice Hoyle?
And why are the girls who have been staring at Anastasia now smiling warmly at Hoyle?
And, most importantly, is Brandt content with such rumors about him?
Anastasia is getting a headache from all of the questions.
She looks at Regina, who has the same odd expression.
“… Shall we go shopping for a change?”
Anastasia nodded at Regina’s suggestion, which seemed to be an escape from reality.