Grimacing at the stark contrast between a meal in the slums and one at Highend, I can’t help but smile upon seeing Asuka’s eyes sparkle with anticipation.
By the next day, I’m attending the entrance ceremony at Astel Academy.
It seems like a form of mockery that the academy scheduled my admission process for the day before the entrance ceremony.
「…Feels so weird wearing this after so long.」
I murmur to myself, sliding my arms through the sleeves of the uniform. Walking along Highend’s pristine streets, I can’t help but compare this attire to the rag-like clothes I usually wear in the slums.
The uniform provided by the academy feels too polished, too different from what I’m used to.
「And entering there will be a challenge.」
In front of the main gate of the academy, a crowd of nobles and merchants’ children have gathered. Their posh demeanors and confident chatter make the entrance seem like an intimidating space for someone like me, who hails from the slums.
「…I’ll stay somewhere quiet until the entrance ceremony starts.」
I opt to linger in one of Highend’s alleyways where not a single piece of trash can be found.
Thinking I’d be alone, I’m taken aback when I spot a girl in the same uniform as mine.
Golden hair, cascading down to her waist like a river of sunlight, and eyes as blue as precious gemstones. The stylish girl looks just as shocked to see me.
「Ah! You’re the one who helped me yesterday…!」
I tilt my head, puzzled.
I don’t remember assisting a beauty like her. Maybe she used some sort of transformation magic?
A girl from Highend, visiting Noenth alone, with the possibility of having used a disguise? Things are getting increasingly complicated.
And wait… could she be?
Feeling a surge of malevolent energy, I swiftly draw a sword from my own shadow.
「A barrier?! And it’s… a Spirit World Barrier?!」
I’m immediately aware of the barrier enveloping us, one of the most advanced barrier magics in existence. It’s not something that can be activated so easily!
Before she can apologize, the girl is hit by a sudden blast of magic from an unseen assailant, causing her to lose consciousness immediately.
Now, I’m all alone.
The number of enemies remains unknown, and being trapped within the Spirit World Barrier, I’m at a considerable disadvantage.
「…Sigh, this is hopeless.」
Accepting the inevitable, I lower my sword.
I can’t possibly fend off an ambush this elaborate on my own.
The moment my sword drops, I’m hit by a forceful impact, and darkness consumes my consciousness.