It was the day after we learned how to perform a magic chorus from Tred-sensei.
Since it was a weekday, we had school today.
Claire-sama and I were attending classes at the Imperial Academy.
I suddenly started to look around.
Seeing our remaining classmates around us, I was reminded of the ones that were no longer present.
Lana was currently being investigated in Bauer in regards to her situation with Salas.
Eve was also under investigation for a while, but she was slated to return to Sousa afterward.
Joel was also deported back to Bauer after committing what was considered a sin against the Spirit Church.
Philine had been exiled, and contrary to what I believe, it was rumored that she had been assassinated.
Frieda disappeared the moment Philine was exiled as well.
With the classroom being so vacant without the people I grew close to, it felt more empty than it actually was.
“Rei, you’ll get caught if you’re looking away, you know?”
Claire-sama poked the back of my hand with a pen when she noticed that I was not paying attention to the lecture.
“Sorry. When I thought about how everybody’s gone now, I just……”
“I understand how you feel, but for now, you should concentrate on the lecture.”
I picked up the pen that had rolled onto my notebook and tried to regain my focus.
“Now then, for this question…… Otto, come to the front and answer it.”
When the instructor pointed at Otto, he got up from his seat without saying a word, walked up to the blackboard with a glum expression on his face, and answered the question.
“Very good. That’s correct.”
After being praised by the instructor, Otto went back to his seat the same way as how he got up.
‘Oh?’ I thought to myself.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that Otto was what you could call a problem child, so whenever our instructors ask him to solve a question, he would always mutter a couple of curses under his breath.
But for some reason, today, he suddenly became meek and quiet.
His facial expression was as unfriendly as ever, but I wondered about what could’ve happened that made him so peaceful.
“Otto seems a bit strange today, doesn’t he?”
Claire-sama seemed to be curious about Otto.
“We feel the same way, Claire-sama,” is what I would’ve said, but we were currently in the middle of class, so I refrained from doing so.
“I wonder if anything happened.”
“Are you curious about it?”
“It has something to do with one of our classmates. Of course I would be.”
Hearing Claire-sama say that like it was the most natural thing in the world reminded me of just how wholesome she was.
For me, I was only a bit puzzled by the situation, but that was it.
Unlike Claire-sama, I didn’t possess a heart so warm that I could genuinely be concerned over other people simply because they were my classmates.
“Should we ask him about it after class?”
“Yes, let’s do that.”
“Huh? Eat lunch with you guys? Why? Just leave me alone.”
Yep, that was to be expected.
Although, that unexpected rudeness was sort of refreshing.
Since it was lunch break, we had invited Otto to eat lunch with us, but he turned us down.
However, Claire-sama wasn’t the type to back down so easily.
“Otto. Do you have anything on your mind right now? You seem a little strange today.”
Claire-sama persistently continued to make conversation with him.
Claire-sama was the type that would go out of her way to make time for those that she considered her friends.
On the flip side, she was also the type that would aggressively fight back against those that she considered as her enemies.
“It’s nothing, alright? Didn’t I tell you to leave me alone?”
Otto said curtly.
It was curt, but he didn’t raise his voice at all.
If anything, it felt like his mind was elsewhere right now.
Could it actually be something serious?
“What do you want?”
“You seem kind of absent-minded, you know?”
“That’s just your imagination.”
“Could it be……”
“W…… What is it……”
If my assumptions were correct――
“Are you lovesick?”
“…… Haah…… You’re wrong. Unlike you guys, I don’t constantly have love on the brain.”
Oh dear, did I miss the mark?
And I was so sure I was right too.
“Well, whatever. Let’s just eat here, Claire-sama.”
“Let’s do that.”
“Wai-, who said you could just――!”
Leaving the complaining Otto aside, Claire-sama and I pulled out our lunch boxes and opened them up.
“It looks delicious today as well. Thank you, Rei.”
“…… Do what you want.”
Otto looked at us in astonishment for a bit before taking out his own lunch and started eating.
“Did you make that lunch yourself, Otto?”
“So what if I did?”
“No, I mean, I was just thinking about how good it looked.”
“Anybody can make this kinda thing.”
Otto stabbed a fork into his omelette and brought it to his mouth.
“Are fried eggs something that anybody can make?”
“Huh? All you need to do is season it and then fry it, right?”
“Whenever I try to make it, before I even get to the seasoning part, the whole thing has already turned into gravel, though.”
“It turns into that before you even get to the seasoning part?! Crack your eggs properly!”
Otto, nice riposte.
“I heard that you come from a soldier’s family, so what about your parents?”
“Huh? Who cares about that?”
“I mean, you always have to make your own lunch, right?”
“…… That’s just because everybody in my family is always busy. Making my own lunches is just the most logical thing to do.”
I felt like I just saw an unexpected side of Otto.
The impression I got from him from our first meeting was terrible, but when we actually talked like this, it was surprisingly easy to make conversation with him.
“Is it just you and your parents in your family? Do you have any siblings?”
“Why have you guys been doing nothing but asking me questions?!”
“It’s not like we mind if you ask us questions too, though. Bring them on.”
“…… That’s not what I meant.”
Otto scratched his head.
“As for siblings, I have one older sister.”
“Whoa, what kind of person is she? Is she studying in the Imperial Academy too?”
“She already graduated. Right now, she’s…… undergoing military training in the Imperial Army.”
The tone in Otto’s voice suddenly shifted in the last half of his sentence.
Could this be……?
“So your sister is also a soldier, huh.”
“…… Our mother and father both tried to stop her, but she wouldn’t listen. Even I tried to persuade her out of it a countless number of times……”
“You were against your older sister’s wishes of becoming a soldier too?”
“I mean, it’s dangerous, isn’t it?”
“That’s true. Plus, the Empire is constantly at war with other nations, so maybe someday, your sister might――”
“It’s not ‘someday’, okay!”
Claire-sama and I immediately exchanged glances.
“Even without needing to wait to be sent into battle, my older sister――”
“What are you talking about? Did something happen to your sister?”
Claire-sama asked, returning Otto back to our conversation.
“…… It’s nothing. Forget I said anything.”
“Otto, if it’s okay with you, we can help you.”
“Didn’t I just tell you to forget it?!”
Otto violently slammed the desk and stood up.
The classroom fell quiet.
“? What’s this……?”
Something fluttered out when Otto hit the desk.
Without thinking, I went to go and pick it up.
“!? Give that back!”
Otto looked like he was fuming as he snatched it away from me.
However, I had already seen it.
“…… Did you see it?”
“Sorry, I did.”
Otto’s eyes were bloodshot now.
This was bad.
“Otto, let’s go somewhere else. I think we need to talk this through peacefully.”
“Wait a minute, Rei! And you too, Otto. What’s going on?”
“Claire-sama, you should come with us too. You’re fine with that, right, Otto?”
When we finished our half-eaten lunch, we went to the unpopulated courtyard.
We took our seats on a bench before I cut straight to the chase.
“Otto, explain it to us. Why are you thinking about doing this?”
Claire-sama, who hadn’t fully come to understand the situation yet, asked like she had a question mark hovering above her head.
Otto remained silent.
I turned to Claire-sama and explained,
“Otto is planning to kill Dorothea.”