“Good morning, Alto.”

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“Good morning, Justina.”

I started the day by looking at Justina’s smile.

I ate the food that Justina made, got ready, and went to the academy with her.
The effects of the Dragon Shackles were still active during this time, but I had gotten used to them.
I could move my body without any problem, and I didn’t feel any burden at all.

“Ah-eh?”

On the way to the academy, Justina, who was walking next to me, saw my face and tilted her head curiously.

“Alto, are you feeling nervous?”
“How did you know?”
“It’s because I love you.”

Perhaps it was because we were living in the same room, but I felt that Justina was more observant than she used to be.

I could feel Justina’s eyes on me.
What was so interesting about seeing such an ordinary face?
I don’t think I will ever understand girls.

“We have exams today, you know. So I’m nervous.”

Once a month, an exam is held to measure the students’ abilities.
There are two exams: a written exam and a practical exam.

The exam I was worried about was the latter.
The grade I got last time… it was disastrous.
I was in the middle of being bullied by Cedric.
I couldn’t concentrate on the exam, I couldn’t prepare for it, and I got the lowest grade possible.

Even if you do poorly on the exam, you will not be penalized.
At most, the teacher will tell you to work harder.

But…

I’m a man.
I have ambition, I have the desire to do better.

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Besides, I’ve been trained by Justina…
Aside from classroom lectures, I want to get a good, solid grade on the practical exam.

“Wow, there’s such a thing as an exam.”

Justina hadn’t taken the first exam, probably because she had enrolled late.
Maybe that’s why she didn’t seem to know that the exam existed.

“What are they going to do with all that?”
“It’s like a place to observe your daily effort. I’m sure the other purpose is to encourage competition by clearly showing the results.”
“Mm-hmm. That’s quite an efficient method for a human being. I think it’s not bad.”
“You’re going to take the exam too, Justina. Are you going to be okay?”
“Hmm, I’m a little nervous about the written exam. I’m interested in human history, but I’m not really interested in languages and calculations, so I haven’t really studied them seriously.”
“Since you’re a dragon princess, isn’t it bad if you get a bad grade?”
“Ahh… that might be true. My mom and dad will scold me if I don’t do well. I was admitted to the school on the condition that I do my best as a student.”
“Well… I don’t think the questions are that difficult, so as long as you don’t sleep in class, you won’t get a red mark.”
“What’s a red mark?”
“It means to fail. I don’t think Justina will have a problem with that.”

She was very interested in history class and listened to it very carefully…
Even in classes that she wasn’t interested in, she made sure to take notes.
So, the written exam would not be a problem.

The practical exam… I guess it goes without saying.
Maybe she’ll set a new record?

“Good luck, Alto!”
“Yeah.”

Encouraged by Justina’s smile…
I was once again determined to do my best and get a good grade.

 

________________

 

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The written exam was held in the morning.
I had a good grasp of all the subjects, and I was confident that I could get into a reasonably good ranking.

Justina couldn’t stop running her hand over her pen during the history exam.
She had trouble with the other subjects, but she was still able to fill in some of the answers.

And… in the afternoon.
It was time for the practical exam.

The content of the exam was simple.
A random opponent was chosen and a mock battle was held in front of the teacher who was the examiner.

Basically, if you win, you get extra points.
Even if you lose, you still get some points if you put up a good fight.

Three mock battles were held…
The ranking was determined according to the points earned, simple as that.

My opponent was…

“Oh, so I’m dealing with Estenia. Lucky me. I’m so lucky to go against you, a wooden dummy. Is it because I’m good at what I do?”

…was the worst.
He was one of Cedric’s cronies.

After that incident, Cedric voluntarily dropped out of school some time later.
He didn’t want to have anything to do with Justina again, and even submitted his withdrawal form by proxy.

So Cedric disappeared completely, but…
This, in turn, caused his cronies to grow up.

Thanks to Justina, I’m not directly bullied, but I still get tangled up with them every now and then.
I’m in another class, so I don’t usually have the opportunity to interact with them. …However, in these situations, if I’m unlucky, I could possibly bump into them.
Today, I can say that I was very unlucky.

“Go for it, Alto!”

Due to the limited number of teachers, it wasn’t possible to test everyone at once.
Students took turns, and those who were waiting for their turn could watch the other students’ matches.
Justina was at the edge of the training area, cheering me on.

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Seeing Justina like that, her opponent, a male student, shivered in fear.
Apparently, they were afraid of her.
He may not know the details, but he understood that Cedric was beaten by Justina.

“H-Hey.”
“…What?”
“If I beat the sh*t out of you, am I going to get beat up by her…?”
“No, don’t worry about that. Justina understands that this is an exam, so she won’t be taking it out on you for that.”
“Hehe… that’s a relief to hear. Now I can sandbag you in peace. I’m looking forward to it… I’ve been so stressed out lately because I haven’t been able to play with you. I’m going to let all of it out now.”
“Don’t think things will go your way.”

I held up my training spear.

It’s strange.
Before, I used to shake just by seeing him…
But now, I feel extremely calm.

Whether I could win or not, I don’t know.
I just felt like I could give it my all without any regrets.

“You… think you can beat me? Hey, hey, you’re cocky, even for the mere Estenia… Don’t get carried away, okay?”
“I’m not getting carried away. I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
“That’s what I’m talking about. A f*cking small fry like you should go cry and grovel!”

With a vicious look on his face, the male student held up his training sword.

“I’ve made up my mind. I’ll beat you to a pulp. Even if you cry and apologize, I won’t forgive you. I’m going to remind you that you’re much lower than me, much lower than trash.”
“…”
“Hey, hey, can’t you not talk? Hahaha, get down on your knees and lick my boots, I’ll go easy on you.”
“I’m not going to waste my breath. That’s all I’m saying.”
“You’re… dead.”

The male student’s anger swelled.

And then…

“Start!”

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At the same time as the teacher’s signal, a male student kicked the ground.
He turned his body to the side in order to cover his essential areas.
In this state, he moved his upper body forward to gain momentum.

This was the basic assault posture.
The sequence of motions was as smooth as water flowing, almost effortless.
In a good sense, it is an ideal attack, just as it was taught.

But… I wonder why?
From my point of view, it looked like he was just messing around.
It didn’t look like he was taking it very seriously.

Because his movement was so slow that it made me yawn.

“…”

Wordlessly, I strained my hand to grip the spear.

Now I was in a state where the Dragon Shackles were removed.
A month has passed…because it was an exam, Justina removed the shackles.

I could feel the results of my training in my body.
I thought back to what Justina had said to me before the exam.

…Okay, let’s do this.

Observe first.
In order to stop him from charging, I’ll hit him with a checking blow.
I spun the spear around and hit him with the handle…

“Hee…gyahhhh!!!?”

I shattered the training sword, which was supposed to be sturdy and unbreakable…
I then punched the boy in the face.
The male student was blown away like a piece of paper and crashed straight into the wall of the training area.

“What was that!?”

I couldn’t believe the unbelievable amount of power I had just unleashed, and I couldn’t help but pout and make a dumb face right there on the spot.

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