After my extreme training and sparring, Ellen left me alone and focused on her own training. Cliffman had returned home, so he wasn’t at the gym today.
Cliffman was that type of guy to me.
An unknown guy I’ve encountered at the gym quite often.
When we met, he’d slightly greet me, but he didn’t say a word. It was to the point where I’d notice when he wasn’t there, but we weren’t on talking terms yet.
Ellen was busy, beating up scarecrows and honing her techniques. Actually, there was no reason for her to spar with me. To be that girl’s training partner one had to have a certain level of skill. To her, I was only a little kid just starting out.
I continued to cook dinner, but that wasn’t such a big deal. I always ended up making too much for myself. That was all. Somehow, I kind of stopped being so strict in our cooking lessons and focused more on swordsmanship. She still looked after me, even after the duel was over though.
I mean, wasn’t that strange?
I mean, I just wrote that letter for the sake of writing it, but still, she super dumped me. I was really curious what she was thinking about me, now that she was right in front of me.
In fact, I only wrote that love letter to get dumped and get some achievement points.
After that, we somehow ended up eating lunch together, then practiced swordsmanship and then ate dinner together.
However, Ellen didn’t act particularly close to me, and neither did I act close to her.
To the extent that she would probably even ignore me even if we were to run into each other on the street.
No, well, even the classmates who hated me like Erich, Cayer or even Harriet, would show some sort of disgruntled reaction when they’d see me, but she wouldn’t even look at me?
We had late-night snacks and early morning snacks together almost every day. We’d meet each other every morning when we did our morning training and we even stuck around at the gym after school.
But we didn’t really have any private conversations.
We seemed to be close, but we weren’t really.
If we were to ever meet outside, I bet she would even ask me who I was.
However, she did try to be my champion in the duel.
She was always calm…. I don’t know….
However, when I meet up with her, I can’t read her well….
It wouldn’t kill me. I just would have to ask her right? I wasn’t some dense main character from some novel nor was I expecting anything.
If one doesn’t know something, one should ask.
It was that simple, right?
Ellen looked at me.
“Do you like me?”
It didn’t really hurt because I expected her to answer like that.
I really didn’t care that much.
However, Ellen had a different reaction compared to last time. Ellen had a grim look on her face, turned towards me and asked me.
“Do you like me?”
Seeing as she didn’t say something like “You told me you liked me some time ago though”, she might have forgotten about that incident.
Anyway, seemed like we became close enough to ask about these things casually. I knew it would just be better to answer no to these kinds of things.
I didn’t even mean to ask about that in the first place.
“Then are we friends?”
At my words, Ellen stopped swinging her sword and silently contemplated.
She took a minute or so.
Ellen opened her mouth again as she pointed her sword towards the scarecrow.
“I think so.”
That was her answer.
* * *
So, it seemed like Ellen Artorius just recently seriously thought about whether we were friends or not for the first time. Hence, why it took some time for her to think about the answer.
That being said, calling Bertus my friend was a little strange, as it felt more like a hierarchical relationship. So, Ellen could be said to be the first friend I made in Temple. If you thought about it, it was rather funny. She was extremely taciturn, so it should have been the hardest to get closer to her. In fact, it would have taken her a long time before she made some friends in the original story.
However, knowing that Ellen didn’t care about my reputation and didn’t have any preconceived notions about me, was rather comfortable. As a result, we became like this.
After my stamina recovered I went back to my usual routine, namely posture and strength training.
Standard bedtime was at 11 o’clock. I would train at the gym until 9, then I would come out and have a late night-snack at the dining room, usually with Ellen.
So, Ellen and I both only trained until 9 so that we would still get to eat some food. We didn’t decide on that, it just naturally happened like this.
It was now 9 o’clock.
It was time to stop the training.
“Aren’t you overdoing it today?”
Today, Ellen was a bit different from usual. Even if she didn’t have the same amount of stamina as Ludwig, she still had almost as much. She had been beating the scarecrow without even taking time to catch her breath.
She was breathing roughly, and I could see that her whole body was covered in sweat. I noticed that she was training harder than usual.
I didn’t want to be a cat that cared about tigers, but her condition was certainly a bit strange.
“Why don’t you stop and take a rest?”
“……I’ll train a bit longer.”
Ellen said that without even looking at me. Well, she said that we probably were friends, but sticking my nose in anymore would be weird. She might tell me not to pretend to be close or something.
“Then hurry up and go rest. I’m leaving.”
Ellen didn’t answer me as I left the gym.
* * *
Obviously, there were hardly any students left in the dormitory, and the ones that were still there probably went to sleep because it was close to curfew.
Come to think of it, Temple sure provided dream like living conditions.
They do the laundry, provide meals, give out pocket money, prepare whatever you might need and even give you a fully stocked kitchen you could use at your own convenience.
They also give you four gold coins as pocket money per month. Of course, it was just small change to kids from good houses, but it was a lot of money for me. If it was for personal training or research, they’d even give you additional support depending on its content. In other words, it was kind of like a research grant.
In fact, it wasn’t really important to graduate from Temple to live a good life. Actually, wasn’t one able to live a comfy and cozy life just by being a Temple student?
Wasn’t this a dream school no one would want to graduate from? Wouldn’t one want to live on as a Temple student until one died? This would lead to an infinite loop of procrastination.
Wasn’t this another setting error? One would want to continue attending Temple, and Royal Class, just for these benefits alone.
I went to the kitchen while having these weird thoughts.
Even though I didn’t receive any more support in the form of divine power, I was still exercising a whole lot, even if it wasn’t to the degree of Ludwig or Ellen. Hence I still had to eat a lot. I also felt like what I ate didn’t really turn into fat.
I originally cooked for myself, but I definitely improved ever since I started living in Temple. There were a lot of ingredients, and if one needed anything specific, one could just ask for it and they would provide it right away.
I’d get tired of always eating the same thing, so I made this and that. I didn’t want to live off of snacks like Ellen, so I tended to make my own food.
Someone who only lived from hamburgers and pizza would get tired of those one day.
Living life routinely was fine, but I didn’t want my diet to follow a routine as well.
I looked through the ingredients kept in the kitchen pantry and thought about what I should make.
Well, this didn’t really fit my concept, but….
Still, I was indeed grateful. Besides, this was a sensitive time for her as well.
I took out a bag of bread.
I was thinking of making some sandwiches.
There were two people in Temple I felt grateful to.
Adriana, who recently turned to the dark side and became like a church nun. No, calling a nun part of the dark side was a bit much, wasn’t it? Well, that was how it felt to me anyways.
And Ellen Artorius.
To be honest, I often told Adriana that I was grateful to her, I didn’t do the same with Ellen because of the nature of our relationship. It wasn’t like she was doing anything unusual anyway, she just ate what I made and trained in the gym.
Ah. No matter how I tired to make it out to be, I was like nothing more than a high schooler who was happy about having made his first friend.
A, actually…. I think I felt a little touched….
I had to admit that.
I was kind of touched hearing that we were friends! How silly! Ah! I know!
I made some club sandwiches. I didn’t have to put as much effort into those. I thought it would probably be better to make a lot because she’d probably end up eating a lot.
I put in a moderate amount of vegetables, plenty of cheese and ham. This could probably be called a calorie bomb, but neither I nor Ellen cared about these kinds of things. We exercised too much to die of hyperlipidemia.
I also found a food basket in the kitchen, so I packed the freshly made sandwiches in there and headed to the gym.
And I couldn’t help but be a little surprised by the sight before my eyes.
Ellen was lying in front of the scarecrow, the remnants of a broken training sword lying next to her.
“Ah! You’ll catch death if you sleep here!”
Although that was what I had said, I was running towards her.
* * *
Temple’s Royal Class was one of the most intensive educational institutions of the Empire. Besides the ones I already mentioned there were numerous services provided for VIPs.
So, that kind of meant that I didn’t know what they were specifically.
I just wrote something like: The service is great!
Of course, I knew some of the services. One of them was a priest dedicated to us, who could use recovery spells and was stationed in a specific place 24/7. It was like the nurse office teacher. The only difference from an infirmary teacher was that they could also heal severe injuries, and not just perform first aid.
I couldn’t really remember, but I probably received that priest’s help after that duel last time. I carried Ellen on my back and called for a priest.
I went to the recovery room, where I once lay, and laid Ellen down on the priestess’ instructions. While casting some divine spells, the she asked me about the situation.
“She looked exhausted or something like that. She was lying on the gym floor.”
Other than the forehead being slightly wounded, she didn’t seem to be seriously hurt. But she smashed her training sword, you know? Anyway, she didn’t seem to have serious injuries.
“But I’m glad you were able to find her so quickly. Well done.”
Even if she just passed out because of exhaustion, it might have gotten dangerous if she was found too late, so the priestess praised me.
She asked for my and Ellen’s name and grade, so I answered.
“First year Reinhardt and Ellen. Mr. Epinhauser is your homeroom teacher, right?”
“Good job, Reinhardt. I’ll write down a merit for you.”
I didn’t think that would happen. The uniformed teacher looked at me with a kind smile. It was a benevolent smile that showed that she was a genuinely religious person.
Ooh, it really does feel divine. I can’t. I’m sorry, I forgot about my roots….
“I heard you were a mess, but it seems you are very different from the rumors.”
Oh, my reputation had even reached the teachers. Anyway, she seemed to be quite impressed that I would carry my classmate on my back, contrary to the preconceived notions everyone had.
But there were things like merits? I didn’t even know those existed here.
The priestess checked on Ellen’s condition and said she would get up soon. She told me that I could go back, but I stayed by her side.
The teacher looked at me with a mischievous smile, as if she knew what I was thinking.
No, it wasn’t like that.
Just like the teacher told me, Ellen slowly opened her eyes after about 10 minutes.
Ellen raised her eyelids, let out a low groan and turned to look at me and the priestess, then opened her eyes wide.
She seemed bewildered.
That stone Buddha looked flustered.
It was such a precious scene, so I tried to immediately burn it into my memory.
Ellen thought for a moment, before she seemed to realize what was going on.
“Hey, if you sleep in places like that, you might end up dead . You’re so young. Do you want to be reincarnated so badly? Tch.”
At my persistent words, the priestess burst into laughter and Ellen turned her head away from me. She clearly was very embarrassed right now. However, it wasn’t just the two of us here. That teacher doubling as a priestess was also present.
“Ellen, even if he says that, Reinhardt still carried you on his back. He came in here with a totally pale face and said “Teacher, do something!” Isn’t that right?”
“Te, teacher…. Why did you say that…. ”
No, you idiot! How could you tell her? Ellen was glancing at me when she heard what the teacher said. You didn’t think, I’d do that, huh?
“It seems like you practiced too hard. Don’t overexert yourself. Understood?”
“Yes…. I’m sorry.”
With these words, the priestess left the recovery room, telling us that she would report this after the school closure.
“Why were you sleeping there on the floor?”
At my question, Ellen stared blankly at the ceiling.
“While I was practicing my techniques and beating the scarecrow, my training sword suddenly broke…. I think I fell forward and hit my head because my balance was broken.”
Ellen seemed to remember clearly how she fainted.
Exhaustion wasn’t the problem, it was because she head-butted the scarecrow. It seemed like an acute concussion.
Come to think of it, wasn’t that quite serious? No, that’s not it. The reason probably was both exhaustion and the concussion.
I didn’t know if someone would have carried her out if I wasn’t there. Well, it was fine now, seeing that she was okay.
“Hey, didn’t I save you then?”
“I did, didn’t I?”
I did say that I’d let it go seeing that she was alright and all, but what if I didn’t come back to share the sandwiches I made with her? She might have been found dead the next day.
The girl with the best talents this world could offer nearly ended up dying after head-butting a scarecrow….
How could there be such an absurd situation. Ellen lay down and looked at me quietly, before she nodded her head slightly.
It wasn’t her usual voice, it was a little more subdued. How cute. Well, the charm of taciturn characters would appear when their concept collapsed.
Ellen definitely overdid it today. She continued to swing her sword without resting, on the contrary, she trained even more intensely.
Someone with usually good self-control went over her limits, and, in the end, after she tried to swing her training sword even after exhausting all her strength, she ended up hitting her head on the scarecrow.
No one else knew the reason why she would do something like that, but I knew.
This girl was in a more mentally shaken up state, completely different from her normal self.
So, I didn’t ask her why she overdid it.
“Why don’t you stand up?”
Since she was treated with divine power, she should have completely recovered. There was no reason for her to continue to lie down.
“Let’s just eat some sandwiches. I made a lot.”
Ellen jumped up. Look at her react right away when I mentioned food. I bet she would inhale all the food again.
“I made it for you, so you better be thankful.”
Of course, I didn’t forget to brag as per usual.