Chapter 18.1: But Even So…
“What’s going on–” exclaimed a boy, cut short as he was sucked into a vortex. A red-haired boy was waving goodbye.
But Akira’s waving was also cut short as, for what seemed to be the hundredth time that day, the childish laughter of a devilish-being crept its way into his ears. What he found creepy was not the laughter’s source, but its paradoxical, child-like purity. It never failed to make him shudder.
Without a care in the world, his sister continued laughing as she formed and threw flashbangs towards Hiroshi. The latter was running around and making holes, all the while keeping an eye out for any rock balls headed his way.
“Okay, thank you all for the testing! I saw no issues with the Flashbang spell. As expected of something from my new series! Ah, come to think of it, we should’ve gotten enough points to pass by now.”
“Wait, shouldn’t you have mentioned getting into JNIM first? Aren’t the priorities a bit…” Hiroshi muttered, pausing his labor for the moment, which made Akane gather the Flashbangs besides her.
Seeing the boy’s perplexed look, Akira walked over and put a limp hand on his shoulder. In a voice devoid of emotion, he said, “Don’t bother, Hiroshi. You get used to it.”
“Ah, I see. I better reset those traps…” Hiroshi replied, walking away after deciding to leave the lunatic to her own devices.
Gazing at Hiroshi’s back with empty eyes, Akira was about to sit down, when a gust of wind blew his hair. He heard a metallic clinking noise, followed by a voice brimming with exhaustion.
“Ah ‘ere it comes. Three, two, one…”
Muttering to himself, Shun had appeared, a set of metal collars on his arm. The boy brushed his right hand against them in a swift motion.
[ELIMINATION CONFIRMED, TALLYING.]
“Elimination. Confirmed!” Shun spat out. “Tallyin’! If I havta hear that line one more damn time, Imma puke…”
Taking the heap of flashbangs near Akane in his arms, he didn’t even bother to run along the field. Instead, he began tossing them into the holes Hiroshi was making.
“Ye machine bastard, yer like a snail without me!”
“Relax, relax…” Akane said, returning from her delusions. “The exam has to end soon, you know? Look at your neck. You’ve reached the triple digits! We’re getting in for sure.”
“I changed my mind. Imma get an ulcer…”
Shun tossed away the last flashbang, which rolled into the one remaining hole. As soon as his hands were free, he wrapped them around his stomach, as if his organs were about to fall out of a gaping hole. It made Akira feel sympathetic, for he too was feeling something similar.
“This feels extremely wrong…” Akira muttered.
In response, he saw the twins perk up and start nodding so fast he thought their heads would fall off.
“Ya got that right, usin’ a tactic like this… Blergh…”
“Ah, well… You know what? Let’s just ignore that,” Akira said, smoothing it over with a smile, as he changed the topic upon seeing the brothers turn a twin shade of green. “The tactic may not be agreeable, but why don’t we congratulate ourselves?”
“Yeah… Yeah! You’re right!”
Hiroshi, after recalling his Speculo, gave Akira a pat on the back and grinned widely.
“We’re getting into the top institute in Japan!”
“Hell yeah! Also, bro, that’s a nice number of points ya got there. Thirty, huh? How nice.”
“Hmm? Do you have something to say?” Hiroshi asked with a tone that made the joyish atmosphere vanish into a vacuum of coldness. It was as if he’d used his Speculo, Yin.
But Shun wore a smug smile that was impervious to the iciness. “Just sayin’, since I have over a hundred.”
“Hey. Hey you. You just followed the role Akane gave you, right? Akira and I were told to take care of other things. We didn’t have to eliminate them, so it’s obvious who’s going to have more points, right?”
“You want to die?”
Watching their antics, Akira was sure Hiroshi was jesting, and there was no need for him to intervene. Even though Hiroshi had brought out his gauntlets, even though he was sending mana into them, and even though he was walking towards Shun with a menacing look, there was surely no need to intervene. Yes, his non-action wasn’t because it was too bothersome to get involved in such a fight.