~~Six Oclock in the Morning, Eleventh Day of the Fifth Month, Ninety-Fourth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
“Asleys still not back…”
Lala said while she was crouching down, plucking weeds that had grown around her crops.
“Still not back, indeed…”
“”Since We could not connect to him with the Telepathic Call, it would be better to assume that he is either far away… or that he was prevented from using it for some unknown reason.””
With Itsuki speaking up in agreement with Lala, Tzar proceeded to explain to them while using his ends to pluck out weeds on the fields.
“Right… besides, it hasnt even been that long yet.
Way too soon to start worrying, dont you think”
“But Betty…what about Lina You think shell be fine”
“Oh, brother, you know how strong she is.
Mentally and physically.
She even beat Egd in a martial arts match yesterday.”
“Geh – for real!”
It was quite unexpected for a warrior such as Egd to be bested at martial arts by a mage like Lina.
Although Lala wasnt all that familiar with Egd, she still voiced her surprise alongside everyone.
“Well, this is Lina were talking about… fighting her probably threw off Egds concentration.
Ah – hey, dont slack off, brother!”
“And thats my part done.
Its about time for breakfast, so Ill go help Natsu and Haruhana get things ready.
Go wake up everyone else when youre done here, all right”
Betty stood up, gave her order, and then went back into the house.
Blazer, Itsuki, and Tzar finished their weeding quota at around the same time; they moved on to prepare todays work.
“Man, Im just not good at this kinda thing…”
“Bruce, over there.”
“Yeah, yeah… wait, Lala, isnt it about time you go call Ryan and the others”
“Youre the one whos supposed to go today.”
Lalas utterly disinterested response exuded enough power to prompt a deep sigh from Bruce, now the agencys figurative rickshaw boy.
“So, he still hasnt returned…”
The same day, seven oclock in the morning.
Student Council Adviser Irene grumbled to current President Lina, who had been up all night clearing up the Councils works.
“Id thought hed leave the communication channel open this time, but there hasnt been anything for the past half month… Its quite concerning, I must say.”
“You think so, professor”
Upon hearing such an unexpected remark, Irene stopped fiddling with the brush that she had held with her lips.
She had never expected Lina to have any different opinion from hers on this matter.
Now thats a surprise.”
“Hmm Did I say something… strange”
It was just… unexpected.”
Irene g.r.o.a.n.e.d subtly up her nose, leaned back on her chair, and then fiddled with the brush in her lips once again.
“Professor Irene… Youve warned me not to make a habit of that a while ago.”
Now Irene remembered the warning in question that she had given to Lina in the First Month of this year.
She took the brush away from her mouth.
“That reminds me, its barely been three months ever since he was back in town, hasnt it”
“During that, he went away for awhile for the Rank-up Evaluation, too… But, well, a lot of things happened over these past months.
Ive gotten to learn quite a lot, too!”
Irene giggled bitterly at the look on Linas face as the latter pumped up her fists in an attempt to emphasize how much shed grown.
“Heh, come back and brag after doing something about those bags under your eyes.”
“Ah- huh S-Sorry…”
Seeing how Lina was covering her eyes out of embarrassment, Irene giggled again; at the same time, the latter heard footsteps approaching from a distance.
“This weight, oscillation, and pace… could it be Hornel”
Their prediction was correct – Hornel, out of breath, swung the door open and rushed his way in.
Once he was done catching his breath and readjusting his glasses, Hornel proceeded to say,
“Hah… hah… sorry for running late, Lina.”
“Huh Isnt there a little bit more time until your shift”
“My, oh my, greeting Lina before a member of the faculty now, are we”
Hornels face cramped up slightly upon being hit with a sarcastic tease.
He took it seriously – at least seriously enough to try and clean his act by bowing his head down.
“Good morning, Professor Irene!”
Irene smiled and replied to him, perhaps satisfied to see a student of hers panic so comically.
Irene inclined her head, wondering what question he might have.
Lina did so as well.
“Why is Lina… covering her eyes”
“Heh heh… Its a secret.”
At this time, Hornel had already raised his head up, and was now tilting his head in perplexion toward Irenes suspicious grin.
Eventually, Linas blushing faded, though the sense of awkwardness remained.
Hornel took this chance to sit down in his usual seat.
“So, getting to work… we were looking to add one of this years Freshmen to our ranks, yes How has the investigation been going”
“Well, we did manage to compile a list of candidates here, but couldnt narrow it down further…”
“How come They may not be up to snuff… yet, but shouldnt there be at least some talent in there Cant we just choose someone well-rounded from the list”
Hornel asked while looking over the set of doc.u.ments.
Before Lina could answer him, Irene explained, sounding quite sour,
“See, from what Ive seen of the White Faction… theyre all too polarizing.
Theres this boy, Mash, whos pretty mediocre but quite ambitious and well-liked by pretty much everyone.
Timmy is an immensely popular girl, too, but her capabilities are bottom of the barrel.
And then theres…”
Irene abruptly stopped, but Hornel understood what she had meant to say.
Hornel being the Student Councils Vice President, there was no way for him to be unaware of this matter.
Tifa, another one of Asleys pupils, had enrolled in the University, and had subsequently been crowned the top student of her year.
Numerous rumors of her had made the rounds after the school year had started, and he had heard from Lina herself that they had studied together under Asley.
And above all else, Irene would always complain each time she held a practical skill testing session – that she was one of the worst things ever to deal with.
“Shes the best by far… if we consider only her skills.
Surprised me in every way, if I am to be honest.
But her… mindset… is a major issue.
Sure reminds me of a certain someone…”
“Oh, no, Sir Asley never-“
He was problematic in his own unique way.”
Irene said, in a semi-interrupting manner.
“Just consider what he has done – entered false registration credentials, manipulated the Contract, caused conflicts within the class, did business with the Colorful Food District, sold his rights of the Teleportation spell to ME.
Seriously, Lina, you were one of the few people hes had a non-problematic human relationship with.”
Lina and Hornels faces cramped up in reaction to Irenes rough groaning.
[Wait, doesnt this mean all those businesses with Sir Asley…]
[Could it be that Professor Irene was involved in most of them…]
Irene, noticing the change in their expressions, threw a glance at them, prompting the two to avert their lines of sight, with Hornel going back to his doc.u.ments.
Then, after a period of awkward silence, Hornel looked up and proceeded to say,
“Ill vouch for Tifas inclusion, maam.
Her capabilities do exceed her character and popularity, all things considered.
Without power, the Student Council is useless anyway.”
“But then…why not choose Mash instead If we look at things in the long-term, he has a good chance of thriving in Student Council work.
His progress seems fairly consistent, and considering our open positions, I say hell be a good fit as the General Affairs Manager.”
“Hmm… what do you say, Lina You havent presented any opinion yet.”
“Well, I think I might try negotiating things with Anri…”
Ever since Hornel had been reassigned as the Councils Vice President, Anri had replaced him as the Public Morals Enforcer.
Irene quickly realized that the negotiation had to do with that position.
“Are you considering reassigning Anri as the General Affairs Manager, and have Tifa be the Public Morals Enforcer in her stead”
“Is that… out of the question”
“Not quite – more like exceedingly difficult.
The position of Public Morals Enforcer is critical to the Councils integrity, not something you ought to entrust to a first-semester Freshman – not to mention Tifa, of all people.
Even if all three of us approve, the rest of the Council members will most likely not.”
Lina crossed her arms and pondered it over.
It seemed that the aforementioned plan was the best one Lina had in her head.
She was having a hard time accepting Irenes opposing opinion.
Irene herself, understanding that, grunted out of slight amus.e.m.e.nt and explained,
The final opinion still falls upon you two.
Since the current President and Vice President both belong to the Black Faction, its inevitable that Tifas name is brought up, backed by her capabilities as a member of the White.
Anri is likely to understand what Lina wants, too… so you two might as well go for the d.e.s.i.r.ed outcome as much as you can.”
Linas face brightened up with joy, her hands clasped together.
“Thank you very much!”
She produced a hearty, dazzling smile; seeing that, Hornel felt his face flare up.
Irene, considering the matter settled for the time being, stood up from her seat and looked at Lina again.
“All right, then.
I can dismiss you from todays morning classes, so that you can get some rest.
Ill inform your classs lecturer myself.”
“Ah, yes, maam!”
Linas voice echoed through the morning air of the office.
Taking Irene up on her offer, she immediately stood up.
The two then left the room, but not before Irene told Hornel one last thing,
“Hornel, were counting on you to take care of the rest.”
Their footsteps faded into the distance; the Student Council Office was now shrouded in silence.
Only the blue-haired boy remained here; he pictured the face of the girl that had been in the Presidents seat just moments ago.
He heaved a sigh of relief, as if expelling the tension in his body along with that one word – the secret word he couldnt afford to let anyone hear.