Because of the transmission magic, Barrett-sensei’s voice echoed throughout the school. At that moment, the outdoor field where we were gathering was filled by explosion and great noise.
There was a mighty impact that was closer to “earthquake” than sound. Had Gilbert-senpai did not pull me towards him at once, I wouldn’t have been able to move my hip for sure.
What on earth happened? Suddenly, the other academy students screamed and ran off to the opposite direction to ours.
The place where it was supposed to be full of motivation and tension became a like a picture of Hell in just a few seconds after it started.
“Wh-Wh-Wh-What was that?! J-J-Just now, why is there an explosion―?!”
“Close your mouth for a while. You’ll bite your tongue.”
Without a word, he restrained me and held me in his arms. At the next moment, there was a second intense explosion and a flash of light pierced my eyes even if it was closed.
“Those guys . . . Won’t they moderate it? Geez.”
Even if I cover my ears from the rumbling sound of the earth, I cannot scream. I’m somewhat scared. Even so, there is a gentle touch that strokes my head… it seems that this is not a dream after all. Thanks to Senpai, I can keep my sanity but perhaps it is rather easier for those who fainted.
…After waiting for a few seconds or a few minutes, by the time I raised my face, black gray smoke completely covered the field.
“I-Is, Is this a ‘practical’?!”
Unbelievable. Do you still call this a lesson?!
There were cracks in the grounds here and there and I can even see a fire rising. Beyond the smoke, a few people have collapsed.
Is this still a lesson?! Studying?! Are the upperclassmen engaging in war in this school?!
“…Well, the other side was a special case.”
Senpai did not seem to be particularly surprised. He only heaved a sigh and assessed the surroundings with nonchalance. He murmured with a loud voice, like that very loud first shot.
“Se-Senpai . . . I―”
“Yes, we will temporarily retreat. Hold on to me properly, okay?”
I was confused with all these happenings yet Senpai reached out to me as usual and pulled me as he started to walk. He didn’t mind the other students who were panicking.
“……What on earth happened back there?”
“The place where the explosion first happened was caused by the gathering of the group of the top students of the sixth year.”
He showed me a bitter smile and, at the same time comprehension dawned on me, I felt an intense regret. The gathering of the top students was composed of the top student from this magical country Rosevita’s “Kirheinz family” and the other excellent people who were aiming for the top. I was completely at ease because of the words “part of the lesson” but it seems that the standard “lesson” is different for them.
“In other words, this is totally not a safe test!”
“Well, yeah. I’m happy that I was partnered with you.”
Am I being threatened to say honestly? Senpai said and smiled bitterly again. To all my classmates, I’m very sorry. We’re not here to cheer up our upperclassmen, we were only deceived. The truth is we were grouped as a precaution. If you analyze this, this is a test that has nothing to do with elementary course students.
I wish none of my classmates were at the center of explosion!
Behind Senpai and I, who was bowing my head deeply, there was another intense explosion.
* * *
After ten minutes or so of walking, we finally reached to a place where we can breathe decent air, and there, a different picture of Hell was spread before us. Some students were sitting and crying. Some were shouting. Some could only stare at a distance. There were a number of students who wants to go and tell the teacher that they are going to quit.
“Well, that very sudden explosion will surely break your mind.”
I, too, would have submitted myself for disqualification had Senpai not been with me. No, maybe I would have fainted after that first explosion and waited to regain consciousness. Whatever it is, I can only say that this situation is too early for us elementary course students. It can’t be helped if we cry.
“Since you will not be hit directly, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Senpai, on the hand, looked at the battlefield where the smoke continued to rise with his usual nonchalant expression. He would have probably fought at the ground zero if I were not with him. It is somewhat a complicated feeling.
The location of the practical exam which can be seen at a little distance is like an a arena without an auditorium. Besides, stone flooring was spread over the excessive space and narrow pathways crowded its surroundings. In the pathway, there is a rain-proof roof and thin stone pillars that supports it, but there are no other obstructions in addition to that. Owing to that, one can understand the state of the battle to a certain extent even if he/she left the field.
Indeed, it doesn’t look like a direct hit but . . .
Every time I see smoke rising, I can see shadows of people fall at times. I believe that no one will accidentally die because of a simple exam but… No, I really should stop these strange thoughts. It’s not a laughing matter.
Senpai’s eyes showed fascination towards the battlefield. Although his expression did not change, it seems that the golden color is gradually getting hot.
“…Could it be that Senpai wanted to fight?”
Surprisingly, when I cautiously asked him, he immediately turned towards me. A smile appeared on his good-looking face and he patted my shoulder.
“I’m just being vigilant. Even if you are here by my side, I am not thinking about fighting.”
“But you’re watching it intently.”
He replied to me kindly. But still, I am curious about the right answer.
Senpai was stunned for a moment, and after a couple of seconds, the smile was back on his face.
“I am always prepared to attack those guys.”
In other words, he claims that he is also “an outstanding person who is aiming for the top,” and although it was said in a roundabout way, his answer is an “affirmation”. Yeah, as expected. I quickly became a hindrance.
“You were scared, right? Then, it’s no use for me to be there today.”
The word “today” pricked my heart. I troubled him just by staying beside him. It’s true that I am afraid of going back there but that will make me a burden. I cannot say “Should we go back?” either…
……I wish Senpai could fight in a different place.
I looked down and scanned the surroundings. All I could see were students who lost their energy to fight and there are no things that are seemed to be set up anywhere. Well, naturally, since we ran for cover.
But if this continues, Senpai will not be able to showcase his abilities. It will become a “useless day” if he stays by my side. I do not want that.
Is there somehow a place where we could simply fight……
Futo. Those students who were pushing their way through leapt into view. Two, three . . . about ten people in all. I could recognize from their appearance that they are upperclassmen. They, who were perhaps advanced course students, were passing through the crowd, walking fast.
What is it? It’s like something is heading towards us……
I wonder if they are Senpai’s acquaintances. Their vigorous footsteps are going straight towards our direction. When I looked up, the smile disappeared from his face in no time.
“Uhm, Senpai. They are your acquaintance, right?”
“I’m sorry, Meryl. I forgot.”
Although I just asked for his confirmation, his voice was low. He exerted force on my shoulder to grab me.
“When the top students are not there, I am also targeted.”
His short answer was unexpected. I looked back at the same time my body was being pulled.
The practical field where we have escaped from was enclosed with black smoke.
“W-Wait, wait, Senpai?! Why were they targeting us?!”
“I did not intend to fight, but I can’t avoid it. Hold onto my waist.”
“No, no! That’s impossible! I disagree!”
I reflected on it. I wanted to apologize. But can’t there be a five-minute break?
I take back what I said! I take back what I saaaaid!!
Hearing the fast footsteps chasing us, my body is dragged again into the world of smoke. My feeble screams and the eroding sound of the air and earth were all drowned out.
“Meryl, I am counting on you.”
“I’m scared! It’s impossible! Let me go home――!”
It appears that the practical exam (Hell) has just begun.