Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 25: Refraction
For Aina Fox, her father was her aspiration and her pride since childhood.
Aina was born into this world as the eldest daughter of Viscount Fox’s family 17 years ago.
The House of Viscount Fox, in which she was born, was considered a lower rank noble house.
It was a small territory which governed a few towns and villages in the border region. They had a sufficient standard of wealth, but were still considered poor amongst other noble houses.
Even so, Aina didn’t feel miserable about it, and more than anything else, she was proud to be a daughter of this house.
The reason she was so proud was because of her father.
While he was just a Viscount, he was someone who managed to win the respect of the other nobles.
The hope of humanity, the Saint… There were magic knights who overcame harsh training and bore the duty of protecting the Saint, who was the champion of justice that everyone yearned for.
And amongst those knights, there were the elites called Guard Knights. There were only 12 people who had that title at the time, and even among those 12, her father was considered the most capable one. This earned him the seat of Prime Knight.
He was the one who stood closer to the Saint than anyone else, to protect her, and to become her sword and shield in the fight against evil.
This position was truly only fit for the knight among knights and was an aspiration for everyone who braved the battlefield. It was considered the greatest glory of all.
Furthermore, the current generation’s Saint is Elrise, who was said to be the greatest of all time. As such, it could only mean that Aina’s father, who stood closest and protected the Saint, was the greatest knight who protected the hope of humanity.
When Saint Elrise started actively doing her duty, Aina’s father was always there by her side.
Everyone honored her father’s gallant figure.
For little Aina, her father was the coolest hero, even more so than those heroes that were mentioned within stories.
The guardian who was stronger and cooler than anyone, and protected the princess… Aina loved her father so very much.
But such dignity was crushed one year ago.
At the time, Leila Scott, who had just graduated from the Academy, participated in the Sacred Duels — the contest that happens once a year before the Saint to decide one’s rank within the Guard Knights, and her father was defeated by that 19-year-old woman.
As a result, Leila succeeded Aina’s father’s position as the Prime Knight, and he dropped to the 2nd rank.
For Aina, who watched the duel amongst family members that were permitted to watch, it was a very shocking and unbelievable thing to witness.
She thought that it was a lie, she thought maybe her father was not in a good condition to fight at the time.
While her father was happy with the result and said “Now a more capable person than I am will protect the Saint”… Aina was unable to accept such a result.
Thus she swore to win back her father’s honor.
Fortunately, she had been learning about the sword and magic since her childhood, so she didn’t think she would lose against anyone.
She easily passed the Academy’s entrance exams, and she felt superior about how much better she was compared to others as she watched other people who were struggling to pass the entrance exam.
For Aina, the Alfrea Magic Knight Training Institution was merely a stepping stone, just one of the many transit points during her life.
She thought her becoming the best graduate would be the obvious result.
The real battle would begin after she graduated and became a Guard Knight… to defeat Leila Scott during the Sacred Duels and win her place as the Prime Knight along with restoring her father’s honor.
… Or so she thought.
Yet at the so-called stepping stone, she easily stumbled.
The Academy held 2 Fighting tournaments every year, the 1st one was a tournament among students of the same grade, while the 2nd one was a tournament for all students of the Academy.
She thought her obtaining the championships of both tournaments would be the obvious result.
She believed that she wouldn’t lose, even if her opponents were the senior students.
Aina had been trained by her father since her childhood.
The weight of her goals was different from that of other people.
“Everyone sure is working hard. How will this year’s tournament go in Leila’s opinion?”
“In my opinion? Let’s see… This year has many high-level students gathered. I guess I will have to work hard as well.”
The sound of the Saint’s and her Nemesis’ (Leila) conversation entered Aina’s ears.
Or rather, she stood in a place where she could hear their words.
“Especially those 4 people… Vernell, Aina Fox, John, and Mary Jet especially stand out compared to the rest. Vernell is slightly lacking in technique, but he has splendid basic capability. Aina Fox doesn’t have any particularly outstanding aspect, but her moves are polished. I can only say that it’s as expected of the daughter of Guard Knight Fox. John is a former soldier. He is more experienced in fighting compared to the others.”
Aina felt better as she heard Leila’s evaluation of her.
Even if she was her Nemesis, she did understand things.
Indeed, I am the daughter of my great father. I’m fundamentally different compared to the other small fries.
She slightly disliked being labeled as not having any outstanding qualities, but at least her evaluation was better than 2 other people.
But she felt worse as she heard the next words.
“Finally, there is Mary Jet, whose magic and sword capability are well balanced. While her power doesn’t stand out, her technique is already at the level of knights. In my opinion, she is the top candidate to win.”
What the heck is that? She thought.
Aina felt discontent hearing Leila talk as if Mary was stronger than her.
She knew about Mary Jet.
She was a gloomy person whose thoughts were hard to read, a plain girl.
She also didn’t seem to possess the qualities of a knight.
She did think Mary was somewhat capable and had a slightly favorable opinion of her but… even so, she hated the fact she had been evaluated to be worse than Mary by her Nemesis.
That’s fine. I will win overwhelmingly and show her that she is mistaken.
I will win.
As she thought so, she stood in the ring — and lost easily.
In this Fighting Tournament where she thought she was guaranteed to become the champion… forget the version for the entire Academy, she was beaten during the semi-finals of the tournament for students of the same grade.
She wasn’t the champion. She wasn’t even 1st runner-up1.
4th place2. She didn’t even manage to enter the final and fight for the title of champion.
Aina slapped the hand given to her, then she quickly left the arena as if running away.
She felt miserable.
So miserable that she felt frustrated, and her tears flowed.
As if adding salt to injury, were the events that happened after she ran from the arena.
After that, Mary lost her fight against Vernell in the final and became 1st runner-up, then a Greater Demon trespassed the Academy.
The people who stood up against the demon that came to kill the Saint were 5 students and 1 teacher… The Champion Vernell and 1st runner-up Mary, 2nd runner-up John, and their friends Eterna and Fiora.
Lastly, one of the Academy’s teachers Supple.
They managed to achieve victory after a hard battle and became a presence that was known by everyone. Yet Aina was not there during the battle.
While they are not yet knights, those 5 students were recognized for their deed of protecting the Saint, and Saint Elrise herself personally spoke to them and expressed her gratitude. They are the heroes. Yet Aina was not there.
Amongst the students who were in the top 4, only Aina did nothing when the Saint was in danger.
“Hey, that’s the 3rd runner-up Aina-san.”
“Ah… the only one amongst the top 4 who didn’t do anything…”
“She’s so different compared to the other 3.”
“Even though her great father is the Guard Knight Fox…”
“Stop that. Just because her father is a great person, it is pitiful to expect the same from the child. It’s too heavy a burden.”
“Even though she boasts so much usually…”
“What was she doing when the demon came?”
“I dunno… Maybe she shivered in fear?”
“Ah, I know. When I panicked and esca- I mean, when I went to the toilet, I saw her inside a classroom.”
“Eh? So she escaped? Are you kidding? That daughter of the Fox family did that?!”
“In the end, that’s all she is I guess.”
“Her attitude after she lost was painful to watch.”
“Even though she had such a big mouth, she was like that when the decisive moment came.”
After that day, the evaluation of her from the other students changed.
Even though they themselves didn’t fight, she was being targeted by such malicious rumors.
Because Aina usually looks down on other people, and she didn’t even attempt to hide such an attitude, which made her bad evaluation spread even faster.
I am different from you guys because I am the daughter of Prime Knight Fox.
She didn’t make that up, as everyone knew that fact, and she didn’t bluntly say “You are lower than me” in words, but such an attitude was clear to everyone.
Because of Aina’s attitude, speaking of it in a good way it could be called honest, or inconsiderate in a bad way, her attitude caused the number of her enemies to keep increasing.
Even so, she managed to shut them up with her capability… but now, her “power” which supported that crumbled to the ground.
This is not the case, it’s weird. Something is wrong!
Aina wanted to scream so.
If I were there, I would have also participated.
I could have defeated such a monster alone and protected the Saint. I am capable of doing so!
I merely failed due to bad luck!
I just happen to not be there when it happened, it was merely that.
But regardless of how she said it, the fact remains that she didn’t do anything back then, so it’s meaningless.
Everything is just an empty howl.
Aina is now branded as a coward, one who did not even fight.
From that day on, she talked to no one and began to train without thinking of anything else.
No matter who they are, it feels as if they’re looking at her in contempt.
Above all, if she didn’t vent like this… she might go crazy due to resentment.
She loathed Mary3.
Ever since she lost to her, everything took a turn for the worse.
If she didn’t vent it through training, she might have screamed everywhere.
It’s all your fault, if only you didn’t exist… Such unsightly grudgeful words may come out from her throat.
Thus she was absorbed in training as if to escape reality.
She was running away from the fight she lost and running away from facing Mary.
“I can understand. You got an unjustified evaluation from others.”
The one who called out to Aina, who ran away from everything, was the Head of the Academy.
He is quite old considering that he is in his mid-40s, but his body still has firm and robust muscles.
Considering a man’s life expectancy in this world barely reaches the 60s, he was already considered an old man, but his body is still filled with youthful energy.
His gray hair is tied all back, his eyes are sharp like those of a predator.
With his height of 188cm, he is considered tall since the average male height is 165 cm.
“Luck is such a cruel thing. Just like you, while possessing qualities worthy of becoming the Prime Knight, a single defeat when you’re unlucky made you lose everything. The timing was also bad. If you were there, you would also have played a part in protecting the Saint.”
Those were such sweet words that slipped into Aina’s heart.
Aina’s heart is currently cracked. She was wounded so much to point that it almost shattered.
In that moment, his words gently entered her heart.
“I can’t let such a regretful thing happen under my watch. I see you have the potential to become a great knight. It is a great loss if such talent is ruined here. Also, this has not been confirmed but… It seems that Mary might have cheated that time. Before the match began, didn’t you feel cold for no reason at that time? Does this ring any bells? I believe at that moment, before the match began Miss Mary already attacked you without you noticing. Thus your movement was slowed… and you were unable to fight at your full strength.”
In conclusion, none of that happened.
No matter how you think about it, if something happened to the point of reducing her fighting strength, Aina would have noticed it.
Were it cold, there would be memories of when she felt cold.
Aina had no such memories.
But… people prefer to think in the way that is convenient to them.
Even more so if it’s about the past.
Now that I think about it, it did happen.
Once a person thought that, they will believe that to be the truth.
Reversing illusion and reality, making a groundless suspicion which switched places with the truth.
When one did bad things, they would first think “I am not the only one at fault”.
Then it became “Maybe I’m not wrong at all”, which then turns into “I am not at fault!” and finally “why does my innocent self have to be blamed like such.”
People with such thoughts, definitely exist in quite the numbers.
“Look, didn’t you feel cold that time? But you did not notice it. That was the trick of Miss Mary.”
The Headmaster’s words entered her mind as if to brainwash her.
I see, that was the case, she thought.
I didn’t lose in a fair fight.
I just lost due to a cowardly tactic.
As she understood (misunderstood) it, she started to become angry.
That’s dirty, I can’t forgive it. Such a thought dominated her mind.
As her thinking ability dropped, the Headmaster gave her a suggestion.
“I believe you are the most capable student this year. That’s why I will believe in you, and tell you something… Actually, there are agents of the Witch who are hiding within the Academy.”
“I’ve always been looking for a trustworthy person. I don’t know who is who and have fought in solitude. But I think I could believe in you. Your current predicament might have some connection to the enemy’s scheme.”
Aina was surprised by the Headmaster’s words.
At the same time, she felt a twisted happiness.
She felt superior that this fact was revealed to her instead of Mary.
“Do you understand? For the monster to have appeared at that timing, and as if planned, such an activity happened. The Witch’s agents are already big in numbers. It’s unknown where their eyes might be. And the Saint came to such a place at this time.”
“Tha- That’s bad! We have to let her know…”
“No, that’s not good. They will think we said something weird if we let her know. This is our chance. We can let the enemies make a move and then catch their tail.”
The Headmaster bent down to Aina’s eye level.
Then he grabbed her hand and quietly asked her.
“Aina Fox… please fight together with me. Let’s protect the Saint together.”
“Ye- Yes! If you’re alright with me, I would gladly help!”
“Good answer. I’m glad that I’ve chosen you… Then I wish for you to watch over Saint-sama’s activities and report it to me. Especially if she moves around while avoiding people’s eyes… Do you know of the incident a few months ago, when she was summoned by Fara-sensei? If she is moving alone, it’s likely that she was summoned by the enemy again, and it’s highly likely that she is in danger. We will need to rescue her as soon as possible. So report it to me if it happens.”
Aina got caught in the Headmaster’s sweet invitation.
Once people think that they’re doing the right things, they will hardly question it.
Even more so if it was the girl whose heart was wounded.
Combined with her personality, Aina no longer doubted anything.
“I will give you a method of reporting to me. This is a clever bird which listens to people’s words and then repeats them. To avoid predators, they are capable of camouflaging themselves to their surroundings, so even if you let it ride your shoulder, no one will notice. When you wish to make a report just talk to it, and let it fly. The bird will come to my place, and it will repeat your words to me.”
What the Headmaster gave her as he told her those words is a tiny bird.
It seems that it was used to humans, it had no resistance and as it rode Aina’s hand, it instantly became the same color as Aina’s skin, as if it was never there.
“Try saying something.”
“E- err… then… good afternoon.”
By the Headmaster’s demand, Aina greeted the bird.
Then the bird raised its head and opened its beak.
“E- err, then, good afternoon.”
“Uwah… it’s somehow cute.”
“Uwah, it’s somehow cute.”
The bird mimicked Aina’s words.
Feeling a little happy, Aina petted its head.
It felt fluffy and comfortable to touch.
“Alright then, I will leave it to you. Obviously, this is a confidential mission. Do not tell anyone else.”
“Yes! Leave it to me!”
Aina gave a confident reply to the Headmaster.
Headmaster looked at her with kindness, and he left that place.
But as he walked away, his kind smile twisted, his lips’ edge raised higher.
That is, a smile full of evil intention, sneering at the foolish girl.
And Vernell’s party who listened to the conversation while hidden, looked at each other as if they had heard some outrageous things.
“Regarding Elrise’s facade”4
– Dark power touched her and forcefully preserved her smiling expression — none of that kind of heavy thing happened
She masked her expression solely to keep her Saint role play perfectly, and she does it solely to make her real self hidden since it will appear if she didn’t mask it
(Like when she’s watching girls, she prevented the Ossan grinning face from appearing by this method)
Interested in advanced chapters for this story? We’ll be posting advanced chapters through Ko-fi!
Watashi wa Sugoi Desu is celebrating its 4th year anniversary with a logo and fanart contest! Want to participate? Check out the details here!