「I’m back, Kurono-san.」(Fiona)
「Ah, welcome back, Fiona.」(Kurono)
I welcome Fiona back to the dormitory nonchalantly, but on the inside, I’m breaking out into a cold sweat.
My body is still being tormented by the aftereffects of using the three divine protections,『Overdrive』,『Overgear』and『Over-Accel』, in quick succession.
The reason I managed to make it safely back to the dormitory is because the moment I was seen by the curious onlookers who had gathered around the arena, they parted to open a path for me to walk through.
It’s the same phenomenon that occurred at the victory party, but this time I was thankful for it. If someone had gotten in my way unnecessarily, I would probably have collapsed pathetically in front of everyone.
I somehow managed to endure the desire to collapse until I made it to my bed, and after that, I devoted myself to resting until now. In other words, I slept. The pain I felt after waking up is similar to muscular pain felt the day after performing excessive exercise, I suppose.
Well I guess this is how it is in the beginning. Even for『Overdrive』, this is only the second time I’ve used it.
Even if they are divine protections, simply receiving them from the god isn’t the end of it. Making full use of them requires just as much practice as martial skills and magic.
「Kurono-san, are you looking a little pale?」(Fiona)
It seems that my suffering is showing on my face to the point that it can be seen right away.
My quarrel with the guards is a problem that I’d like to keep hidden of possible. If those guys refuse to change their behavior and keep coming after me in the future, I’ll consult Fiona and Lily so that I can deal with them appropriately. But if it ends with just today’s incident, I should refrain from causing a fuss and making them worry unnecessarily.
Well, I suppose it’s still best to tell them about Safiel who actually came to that place to kill me, though.
In any case, I’ll be making a policy of deceiving them by magnificently ignoring the details about our duel.
「No, I’m just a little tired from attending lessons for the first time in a while. More importantly, Fiona, aren’t you looking pale?」(Kurono)
This change of conversation isn’t something that I randomly chose on the spot. Fiona really looks pale to me.
Well, to a complete stranger, it would appear as if she simply has her usual sleepy, blank expression, but I was able to notice this unusual change in her appearance.
「As embarrassing as it is, I ate a little too much.」(Fiona)
「… Umm, is this the part where I’m supposed to laugh?」(Kurono)
「No, as disappointing as it is, it is the truth.」(Fiona)
A shocking revelation that makes me want to shout, “W-what did you say?!” To think that Fiona could feel ill from eating too much.
「How could that happen, did you just eat something that tasted that bad?」(Kurono)
「No, I ate a very delicious food called Sushi.」(Fiona)
「You ate sushi?!」(Kurono)
I’m really jealous. I should have abandoned the idea of seriously attending my lessons and followed Fiona. My casual return to the school only caused the guards to pick a fight with me, after all.
Come to think of it, I completely missed my chance to eat lunch. Instead of having a feast at the school cafeteria, I skipped out on a meal… Damn it, now that I’ve realized this, I’ve started to feel hungry.
「There was an eating competition to celebrate the store’s opening, so I got a little fired up.」(Fiona)
I see, which is why she couldn’t put on the brakes.
「Since it’s you, Fiona, you won easily, right?」(Kurono)
「I did win. However…」(Fiona)
In this moment, a shadow has appeared on Fiona’s face. Could it be that she was only able to eat sushi without wasabi and made to suffer in some kind of childish, embarrassing way?
「The victory was handed over to me.」(Fiona)
And so Fiona begins to tell the full story of the Sushi-eating competition that celebrated the opening of the Spada branch of the Sushi store『Orwed』–
Piles of small dishes extending towards the ceiling. Groans of suffering rising from everywhere. Constantly occupied toilets.
The Sushi-eating competition is reaching its climax.
「Don’t give up, keep eating. Eat even if it kills you. It’s fine, I’ll make you able to keep eating even if you die.」(Safiel)
「No, really… It’s seriously impossible, so… Gefuh.」(Kai)
The tower of small plates stacked on the table prove that Kai Est Galbraith does indeed have a superhuman appetite to match his superhuman physical abilities despite having only a human’s body. However, his efforts are in vain and he tragically drops out of the competition.
「’S no good… s’ really no good… I’ve lost this ‘un.」(Gustav)
Gustav, whose name was at the top of the list of favorites to win the competition, utters clear words of defeat on the verge of the time limit’s expiry.
The booth was already completely filled to begin with, but everyone except the Golem have filled up their stomachs and expanded their volumes even more.
Will they be able to get out of their seats? This is a great question that has yet to be answered, but the attention of the spectators, including competitors who have already dropped out, is focused on the two individuals sitting at the counter.
「… Negitoro*, please.」(Fiona)
One of them is a beautiful young woman wearing the uniform of the Royal Spada Academy, Fiona.
Her expression would cause those looking upon it to think that she needs to address her need for sleep more urgently than her hunger, but her mouth doesn’t stop moving for even an instant.
The way she eats her prey (the sushi) is enough to make people think that perhaps it is being thrown into another Dimension rather than going into her stomach. It is overwhelming to the point that even the genius swordsman of『Wing Road』and the leader of the『Iron Demon Brigade』cannot compete, let alone regular people who simply boast that they have large appetites.
However, there is one other individual here who is able to keep up with her incredible eating.
「Ah, well then, I’ll have the same without the wasabi.」
This person’s black blazer is proof that he attends the academy like Fiona. However, his age is clearly lower, to the point that he could be assumed to be of the absolute minimum age required to enroll at the academy. This child is the ultimate rival in this competition.
Fiona moves the negitoro into her mouth indifferently with a blank expression, still managing to make this action seem somewhat elegant. Meanwhile, the unnamed child smacks his lips as he enjoys the taste of the negitoro’s paste with the same innocent smile that he was wearing at the start of the competition.
Incidentally, negitoro is a sushi dish made using negi, a vegetable that is a specialty of Rune, and the minced meat of a large Rank 2 fish-monster known as a Troll Fish.*
The competition unfolds as a dead heat. The two of them are taking turns on the offense and defense, possessing completely identical appetites – or so it may appear to the spectators, but Fiona finds this difficult to believe.
At this rate… I will lose.
Fiona elegantly throws the negitoro into her mouth with her gloomy eyes giving off a mysterious aura, but on the inside, she can feel that she is reaching her limit.
「Hmm~ What should I eat next… I’ll go with tuna, back to what I had at the start! With no wasabi!」
Meanwhile, her rival sitting next to her places his original order of tuna as he has already done countless times, as if this is his first meal of the day.
Rather than the child simply appearing to be composed, it almost looks like an illusion where time is constantly rewinding back to the start of the competition for only this child.
Fiona has encountered several individuals who can match her appetite in the past, but this is the first time that she feels such a difference between her and her foe. The sight of the child’s delighted, small cheeks stuffed full of tuna even causes shudders of fear to run through Fiona’s body.
I’m sorry, Kurono-san… For me, this child is…
At the moment that Fiona gives up –
「Hmm, I have to stop here, or else… Well then, I’ll have a custard pudding for dessert.」
Suddenly, the child declares that he is placing his last order.
Has he become full? Impossible; he clearly has room to spare but has chosen to suspend his meal of his own accord. In other words, he is moderating his own eating.
「I’m terribly sorry, but custard puddings are only sold at our main branch in Rune.」
His last order has unexpectedly failed.
His eyebrows form a sad-looking figure 8* and his expression looks as if tears will spill from his red eyes at any moment, but it seems that this hasn’t changed his decision.
「Thank you for the meal!」
Somewhat in despair, he takes out a wallet in the shape of a deformed Silent Sheep from his breast pocket. It opens with a stiff noise and he scatters Elroad Coins that shine to the point of being blinding across the counter.
The fact that he has clearly overpaid his bill with these dozens of gold coins is enough to make some of the employees and spectators gasp.
The child leaves the store, turning to look back regretfully several times along the way.
「Two orders of tuna, please.」(Fiona)
Thus, Fiona’s victory was secured.
「– That is what happened. I am unable to proudly say that I was victorious.」(Fiona)
「Wow, I guess there are some amazing children out there.」(Kurono)
With Fiona’s story, all we know is that the boy with the overwhelming appetite was wearing an academy uniform, but in this case, I couldn’t care less about that child’s personal details.
It’s just that I’m surprised by the fact that there’s a child who can match Fiona’s appetite.
「Yes, I am sure that like me, he has a constitution that causes his food to be mostly absorbed as mana.」(Fiona)
The secret behind Fiona’s appetite is finally revealed. I’d thought that she was just a thin person who eats a lot, but I see now, she absorbs food as mana.
Strictly speaking, all creatures of this world absorb both nutrients and mana from food. Mana generally recovers in the same way that stamina does. A tasty meal and a good night’s sleep is probably enough to fully recover one’s mana.
However, if there are any individual differences, they lie in the constitutions that people are born with.
「Well, there is no doubt that that child possesses a greater constitution for absorbing mana.」(Fiona)
「But still, a win is a win. Aren’t you glad you managed to win?」(Kurono)
Before I know it, I’m patting Fiona’s head as if praising and comforting her. The texture of her characteristic light-blue hair is just as pleasant as Lily’s blonde hair. Silky smooth hair that flows between the fingertips, hair that any woman would envy – as my thoughts begin to resemble a shampoo commercial, I realize what I’m doing.
「U-umm, Kurono-san… This is, you know…」(Fiona)
But I’ve realized a moment too late. No, it was already too late the moment I reached out with my hand.
Fiona looks down with embarrassment on her face that even a stranger would be able to see, voicing her protests.
No, there aren’t any words of clear rejection among the sentences coming from her mouth, but I’m not thickheaded enough to miss the nuances that mean, ‘It’s embarrassing so stop it’.
It’s time to remove my hand and panic as I try to come up with an excuse.
「Err, sorry, I wasn’t thinking.」(Kurono)
I couldn’t even make an excuse. It seems that I have no talent for tricks such as dodging topics with eloquent speech.
But as Fiona looked genuinely frustrated at the fact that the victory was handed over to her at the eating competition, she had a childlike cuteness that really made me want to pat her head. To the point that I would say,「there, there」without even thinking.
Well, I don’t have the courage to honestly admit that. Sorry for treating you like a child, Fiona. It seems that only the child-form Lily would allow this, after all.
「No… It isn’t that I disliked it…」(Fiona)
Seeing Fiona fidget as she looks the other way, I feel the urge to pat her again. But control yourself, you must control yourself, Kurono.
She’s been considerate enough to forgive me and say that she didn’t mind it. I’m not going to do something as foolish as willingly stepping on a landmine.
As I deal with this inner conflict, a strange silence passes between me and Fiona.
Th-this is a little awkward. Isn’t there some kind of sensational conversation topic that will get rid of this situation –
「Umm, Kurono-san, I actually received a rare book as a prize for winning the eating competition.」(Fiona)
「O-oh! Please show me that book!」(Kurono)
Fiona takes a single book from the Dimensional pouch that she had when we went on our date.
It’s roughly A4-sized. The deep red binding has faded a little; it certainly is in a state where it would be called an old book.
It’s just like the grimoire that Fiona borrowed for me from the library – no, it really might be a grimoire. This book’s appearance is enough to make me think that this is the case.
「This book is apparently the secret book in which Count Redwing, someone from a foreign world like you, Kurono-san, wrote the essence of Rune’s culture. It is indeed written in mysterious letters that I have never seen before, so I was unable to decipher any of it.」(Fiona)
「… No, that’s not right. This is no secret book.」(Kurono)
I make this declaration immediately after seeing the string of characters dancing on the front cover.
「As I thought, Kurono-san, you can read this, can’t you?」(Fiona)
Fiona looks at me with an expression as if to say that she did expect this but is still unable to hide her surprise. I return a dead-serious stare as I answer.
「Yeah. This is… a diary.」(Kurono)
That’s right, I can indeed read the writing that Fiona refers to as「mysterious letters.」The book’s title that is written on the front cover in large letters is written in genuine Japanese characters.
Hiragana, katakana, kanji. This is the first Japanese sentence that I’ve seen since being summoned to this world, but there’s no way that I could forget how to read this language. I understand its meaning and even the tricky nuances hidden within it.
This is the book’s title.
「It is now that I, Count Zenichi Theo Redwing, will reveal the record of my secret memories! It contains things about my ex-girlfriend, so don't tell my wife!」