“Alto, let’s go eat.”

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At lunchtime, Justina invited me to eat with her.
Seeing Justina, her classmates who were about to ask her to join them looked at each other and stopped.

My position as one who was bullied remained the same…
As usual, I’m still treated like a tumor in class.

Some are actively involved and participate in bullying me, while many others keep their distance because they don’t want to get involved with me.
Well, it was nothing new, so there was nothing to worry about.

Cedric, the original culprit, was absent today.
According to Justina, he will probably drop out of the school.

Well, that was what happens when you instigate something like that… I felt about 10% sympathy for him.
The other 90% was “Suck it up”.

“Ah, let’s go eat.”

There was no way I was going to refuse Justina’s invitation, so I left my seat and followed her.

“Do you want to buy another sandwich today? Or do you want to try the cafeteria?”
“Let’s go to the roof.”
“So, sandwiches from the store?”
“I’ve got some ideas about that. Come on, come on, hurry.”
“H-Hey.”

I was taken by the hand of a very happy looking Justina to the rooftop.
Somehow… Just now, Justina looked like a child who was planning a surprise.

As I stepped out onto the rooftop, I was greeted by a dazzling light.
It was a little hot.
I moved to the shade.

“So, what’s your little idea?”
“Hmmm… Ta-dah!!”

With a dramatic gesture, Justina took out…

“A bento?”
“Yes! I wanted you to have one, so I secretly made it for you!”
“Ahh…”

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I couldn’t help but spill out my emotional voice.
A girl’s homemade lunch.
It was something that every man yearned for.

Besides, Justina had already proven her cooking skills.
I was really looking forward to it.

“Is it okay if I eat it?”
“Of course. I mean, I’ve made it for you, so I’d be upset if you didn’t eat it. Also, I would be a little sad.”
“Thank you.”

I picked up the bento and opened it on my lap.
It contained sandwiches and neatly cut fruits.
There was also some fried meat in it, making it a hearty meal.

““Itadakimasu.””

We gave our thanks together and quickly ate our sandwiches.

“This is…”

There were so many vegetables sandwiched between the bread.
I wondered what kind of magic trick she used to keep the vegetables fresh and crisp.
There was crunchy lettuce, sweet tomatoes, cucumbers, as well as ham.
The spicy sauce that brought them all together only increased my appetite…

“W-What do you think…?”
“D-Delicious. It’s really good.”
“I’m glad… It’s been so long since I’ve cooked lunch, I was really nervous.”
“With Justina’s ability, you don’t have to worry.”
‘That’s not true. Well, I was a little bit confident, wasn’t I? But, but… when I’m with someone I like, I get really nervous. I think about what to do if he says it’s not good, what to do if he leaves something behind, and so on.”
“Don’t worry. It would be such a waste to leave something that Justina made for me.”
“Heh.”

Justina’s face turned red.
It was due to the sunlight… there was no sun out.
I think she was embarrassed…
There was also this kind of naivety.

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She’s really a girl that I will never get tired of being with.

“Ah, that’s right. After you eat, you should drink this.”

She handed me a portable water bag.
It smelled faintly of sweet citrus.

“This is?”
“It’s the secret drink of the dragons.”
“Secret?”
“It has two effects: it heals the body from fatigue and it promotes growth. It’s very different from the medicines and potions that humans make, and it’s very effective.”
“Eh, that’s really something.”
“I think it’s going to be tough for Alto without it. Drinking it now will give you the best effect for later, so take it immediately. If you take it, you won’t be afraid of sore muscles and you’ll be able to grow even more.”
“Thank you, I’ll take it.”

I ate the lunch that Justina made for me, savoring it thoroughly…
Then I had the special drink.

“Eh? This…”

It tasted strange.
It wasn’t that it was bad, but it was almost tasteless.
It smelled like citrus, but it tasted like water.

And it was coarse or something…
What was in it?

“What are the ingredients for this?”
“Let’s see…”

Justina named about 30 medicinal herbs that were known for their nourishing and other benefits…

“And maybe dragon horns and dragon blood.”
“Guho!”

All of a sudden, I was about to throw up at the mention of such graphic material.
I managed to hold back and asked her back.

“Horns and blood…?”
“…Yeah, I put mine in there.”

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Justina looked away, a little awkwardly.

“Ah… are you going to push me away? It’s not normal for someone to go that far… but I wanted to help Alto, so I rushed to make it during my break…”
“No, it’s not like I’m going to pull away from you or anything.”

Justina made this for me.
I don’t think it was creepy or anything, but…

“Are you okay with that? I can’t believe you used your own horn and blood…”
“You’re worried about me… Thanks. But I’m fine. It’s just a little bit of my horn and a little bit of blood, just enough to keep me from getting anemia.”
“I see…That’s good to know.”
“By doing this, you will not only recover from fatigue and promote your growth, but you will also be able to tap into the power of the dragon. I’m not sure if it will work 100% of the time because it depends on your aptitude… but yeah. I’m sure Alto will be fine!”

As usual, Justina smiled brightly toward me.
I could see her strong trust in me.
I could see that she really believed that I could become stronger.

…Why is it that Justina can trust me so much when we’ve just met?
Is it because it was love at first sight?
Or was there nothing in particular?

I was curious and asked her…

“Hmmm… what can I say, it’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s my intuition as a dragon.”

I didn’t expect it to be a hunch.

“Justina, you don’t seem to think things through, do you?
“Mmm. Are you making fun of me?”
“No… Sorry.”
“You admitted it!?”

I managed to calm down the sulking Justina and continued talking.

“Don’t make fun of a dragon’s intuition. I don’t mean to brag, but dragons have good senses.
“Well, okay.”
“I’ve only been alive for fifteen years… But I know. My heart and intuition are telling me that Alto is going to be an amazing dragon knight. I’m sure he’ll be a great dragon knight and fly with me.”
“Are you sure that you want to become my cavalry dragon…?”
“What? You don’t like it?”
“No, not at all. I just don’t think I’m the right person.”

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“You said that again.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve always been this way and it’s hard to change suddenly. It’s just…”

I looked straight at Justina.

“I want to believe in Justina’s words that I can be strong, I’ll do what I can, and keep trying.”
“Yes, that’s what Alto is all about!”

Justina smiled at me.
I’ll have to learn to live up to this smile.

 

________________

 

After that, my training continued.

The content, however, was the same as the first day.
Wearing the dragon shackles at all times…
Drinking Justina’s special nutritional drink.
It was a repetitive process.

It was easy to put into words, but it was actually quite painful.
Whenever you were awake or asleep, gravity was twice as strong, and the burden on your body was unbelievable.

Even though I had Justina’s nutritional drink, my muscles were aching all over in the beginning…
I couldn’t move normally, and I kept getting fresh wounds from falling down.

However, as the days passed, I got used to it…
After a certain number of days, I was able to move in the same way as before the shackles.
Before I knew it, I no longer had muscle pain.

According to Justina, the more I got used to double gravity, the more my body trained.
To be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything.
Nevertheless, I believed in Justina and worked hard at my training…

And so, a month has passed.

 

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