Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
The sports festival has started.
While marching lazily, I kept telling myself that it would be over soon.
“…Your face says it’s troublesome.”
“Really? But that’s how I really feel after all.”
Masumi-san was exasperated.
I really wanted to go home. I sighed deeply and lamented the day that was about to begin.
Surprisingly, in the first event, which was the 100-meter race, I was running in the first group.
The knowledge of our class not deciding on the order of participation had spread not only to the other first years but to the whole school.
Although this was within the scope of the rules, it was truly unprecedented. However, putting aside the nominated participation events, where it was necessary to decide who would participate, the total strength was the same for the whole class events regardless of how the order was arranged. In that case, making the match be decided by luck was not a bad choice. Deciding the result solely through “luck + physical ability” could be considered a pure match of ability.
Well, there was no way Katsuragi himself could have thought of that, as he still had a grim expression on his face. He must have been blaming himself for not being able to bring the group together. He was an upright person, or rather, a stubborn man.
In the first place, not even Arisu-chan could lead the current Class B. Everyone had given up on collective victory and decided to pursue their individual goals alone. Therefore, they wouldn’t work as a group unless they had other purposes or were given rewards such as points. Even the status of Class Leader became nothing but an empty title.
It was meaningless to preach the joy and honor of winning to those who focused on enjoying themselves as they pleased.
While I was thinking about things, it was my time to run.
In the next lane, there was Sudou full of spirit. There was no doubt he was aiming for victory.
As the starting gun sounded, I moved my legs. I participated in physical education classes normally, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t run at all. However, it would be foolish if I ended up hurt by this, so I never exerted my full power and only used around 80% – 90% of my strength.
I reached the goal. It was about 16 seconds so it wasn’t fast at all, but I managed to avoid being ranked last.
“Haah… it’s tiring.”
“Haruto-kun, that’s amazing! You worked hard!”
Kikyou-chan came up to me and took my hand.
It’s weird to be praised that much despite my result, such was my thought.
When I looked at the bulletin board, my rank was recorded as “second place.”
How did I rank second despite that time? It made me very doubtful. I didn’t look at other students as I ran, so I thought I would be around 4th or 5th place. I couldn’t believe I actually ranked second.
Then I recalled Horikita’s suspicious behavior.
It was possible the other classes knew that Sudou would run first, so they deliberately put slow runners to make up for it.
However, according to Arisu-chan, the client of this espionage should be Ryuuen. But looking at the result alone, I could only see it as Class A putting a slow runner against Sudou as a countermeasure. What did this mean?
…Just with the information I had, I couldn’t reach the answer no matter how much I thought about it. I’d have to ask Honami about it later.
“Here, have some water!”
While I was thinking, Kikyou-chan brought me water. She was cute.
I gratefully accepted and drank it. This was good enough for her public mode…
“You’re sweating. Let me wipe it for you~”
She wiped my head and face with a towel that was prepared before I knew it. She was quite thorough.
“I’m the one who won the race. Yet why am I feeling defeated like this?! Isn’t it weird?!”
“Sudou, give it up. Kikyou-chan is already…”
People around seemed to say something, but I ignored it.
(“Arisu-chan seems to be waiting at the cottage over there.”)
Kikyou-chan put her mouth close to my ear and quietly whispered.
Aah, so Kikyou-chan came here to tell me that. We were acting separately even before the entrance march today, and I wasn’t told where Arisu-chan was. I was just about to look for a teacher to ask that.
Kikyou-chan was really considerate, or rather, she really cared about us.
Her smiling face looked even more adorable than usual.
I hurriedly headed to the cottage Arisu-chan was waiting at to see her.
“O~i, how are you doing? I came here because I was worried.”
“Ah, Haruto-kun. Thank you very much for coming.”
Arisu-chan looked happy. She seemed in good health, so it made me relieved.
And there was another person in the cottage… a pretentious man.
“Hou, so you are that rumored…”
He was Kouenji from Class C. Apparently, he decided not to participate in the sports festival. I also wanted to do that, but it was quite difficult.
“My name is Takashiro Haruto. I have known about Kouenji from the beginning. After all, you are a famous man.”
“Then I don’t need to introduce myself. I have wanted to talk with you for a long time.”
“I see, I was also thinking the same thing. That attitude of ignoring the noises around you is worthy of respect. Even if one decides that participation isn’t worth it, it isn’t easy to actually choose not to participate.”
Kouenji wouldn’t match the others. He acted only according to his own will. He also had the ability to back it up. Unlike a small fry like me, he was a genuine big shot.
I honestly respected this man who lived a life that I could envy.
“…I see, as I thought, you are different from most people. Isn’t it, Little Girl?”1
“What’s with that nickname? However, I do think Kouenji-kun’s recognition is correct.”
He seemed to get along quite well with Arisu-chan. In that case, perhaps…
“Kouenji. If I ask you to watch over Arisu-chan during the sports festival, would you accept it?”
“You don’t need to ask. Protecting the weak is a natural responsibility for those who stand above others.”
He sounded really arrogant, but he seemed willing to protect Arisu-chan for the time being. There was no better bodyguard than this guy. I lowered my head and held out my right hand.
“Thank you, I appreciate it.”
“There’s no need to thank me.”
We exchanged a firm handshake with smiles.
Judging by his attitude, it seemed Kouenji recognized me to some extent.
“So I am the weak, huh…”
Arisu-chan made a complicated expression for a moment but nodded deeply. She seemed convinced.
With my biggest worry resolved, I returned to my class’s tent with peace of mind.
On my way, I saw Sudou enter the cottage angrily. I think it was no use even if he got angry at Kouenji, though.
The second competition was the hurdle race.
Maybe because I didn’t get the fisherman’s benefit this time, I ended up in 6th place.
…From what happened until this point, one thing came to my mind.
Class A was way too strong.
They were clearly winning at an abnormal rate.
The students with slow legs were defeated in 7th and 8th place, while the other students won by a narrow margin.
Because they were too strong, I began to suspect that they had acquired the order of participation of all other classes. Not just me, maybe everyone else also thought the same thing?
By the way, Class B was doing well, and it seemed we were currently second only to Class A. This result also supported the hypothesis that the participation table was leaked.
I had no idea what was going on and I was getting excited. The sports festival had gotten quite interesting. It didn’t increase my competitive drive, but I was beginning to enjoy this event.
I came to Honami using the short interval until the third event, the pole toppling.
It seemed she was going to have a secret conversation with me, so she beckoned me after saying she was going to the bathroom and brought me to a place where nobody was around… inside the school building.
“…Honami, what did you do?”
It seemed Honami was happy to see me and gave me a broad smile.
Then after confirming there was nobody around, she told me with a small voice.
“I did my best to make sure Haruto-kun could enjoy the sports festival.”
“I am the ruler after all,” added Honami.
I see, so that was how it was.
I think that Ichinose Honami was the type of person who was suitable to be a tactician. It was because her brain moved fast and she was good at reading people’s thoughts. However, the talent that stood out from her… was the boundless kindness that would make her a good person. Because this aspect of her was too strong for better or worse, it negated her original potential. Basically, her personality and ability didn’t match.
The previous incident seemed to bring out a little bit of her potential.
“Fufu, I thought Morofuji-san was having trouble with points. So in exchange for helping her, I requested her help for a little bit… and she accepted.”2
Aah, she has done it.
…She was trying to make me enjoy the event since I looked bored. Just for that selfish motive, she took action that messed up the sports festival. She did what she wanted just for my sake.
The fact that also happened to be the best course of action for her class just made it ironic.
“You’ve gotten stronger, Honami. You are the best right now.”
“Thank you, master.”
She stared at me with a wistful look on her face, so I embraced her. I could smell a faint scent of perfume.
…Ah, she nibbled the nape of my neck. It felt ticklish and sent chills down my spine.
“You aren’t a dog, so stop it.”
I instinctively pulled my body away. It was cute, but I think it was no good.
Honami seemed to get embarrassed as expected and her face flushed red. Her eyes seemed cloudy.
“Okay, it’s about time for pole toppling. I don’t feel motivated, but I’m going.”
“Be careful not to get hurt. If someone out there actually hurt my master then…”
She didn’t continue her words, but I understood that she wouldn’t show mercy.
At that moment, I felt fear towards Honami for the first time.
…I think I understand a little why Arisu-chan got frightened.
I could see a madness in her kindness. Perhaps I actually ended up creating a monster.
Morofuji-san had already become a believer of the cult.
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