Since that day, Doug continued to thoughtlessly challenge Heath to a match.
“Heath, t-today is the day I’ll have you fight me…”
“I told you, no.”
What was thoughtless about it was that Heath would absolutely never agree.
Perhaps because Doug knew that, his sentences always trailed off weakly.
But Doug couldn’t think of any other ideas.
At any rate, he just tried his utmost to challenge her, but it was clear to everyone else that she would never agree.
“Fight me after this!”
“You’re so annoying.”
It was clear that with that exchange, it was Doug taking the damage.
But by now there was no backing down―――well, obviously, since he even transferred into the Northern Dorm for this―――so for the whole week, Doug continued to recklessly challenge her.
“Doug, I can understand the feeling of wanting to reach your goals… I really understand… You’ve got passion. That’s a good thing in and of itself… But when you bother other people because of that… that’s not good, right? Apprentice knights live as a group together, you know? Even Heath has complained.”
Heath had ruthlessly told on him.
After listening to Hislo’s somewhat half-hearted lecture, an hour later Doug emerged feebly from the instructor’s room.
The Northern Dormitory was home to a bathing area for the exclusive use of the apprentice knights.
It was housed on the first floor of the dormitory and had access to clean water. From there, knights would draw out the water to wash off the sweat and dirt from their training.
Because the bathing area was partitioned into stalls with curtains, it was possible to clean oneself away from the eyes of others. Not only that, each stall was surprisingly big, so it was possible to bring in one’s clothes too.
Why was it built like this? Back in the day there had been no partitions because the apprentices would bond together as they cleaned themselves.
But one particularly straight-laced knight complained that wandering around naked together, even amongst other men, would bring their characters as knights into question.
The result of that were these stalls.
As for Fii, she couldn’t thank the guy enough.
Because of him, she didn’t have to worry about a thing and could bathe whenever she wanted.
And as a girl, Fii loved bathing.
After all, it felt great to clean one’s body, and the cold water felt especially good after training.
She even started to hum.
“Ah-, Gorms! There’s no more soap! Lend me yours!” she shouted.
Gorms was in the stall next to her.
“Again? Here. I’ll lend you one.”
“Thanks! When I go shopping next time, I’ll buy you a new one, okay?”
A bar of soap came flying from above the partition walls. Fii caught it with a smack and then began to carefully clean herself after lathering it over herself. While she was scrubbing away at her ankles, she heard Gorms getting out.
“Oh? Are you done already, Gorms?”
“You just take too long.”
“Ehhh, but it feels so good.”
Having cleaned just what he needed, Gorms left Fii behind.
Well, it wouldn’t help to rush, so Fii continued to carefully clean.
Doug was lost in thought as he poured cold water over his head.
(I wonder what I should do…)
Instructor Hislo had a point. Doug couldn’t argue with Heath either.
But he hadn’t given up.
Doug had an idol.
Captain York, of the 18th Division.
Apparently he had been taught by Doug’s master, Kaizar. In other words, York was Doug’s Senior Apprentice Brother.
Not only that, but according to Kaisar he was “the most talented student I’ve ever had.”
Four years ago, York had entered a martial arts competition just once. His swordsmanship had mesmerized Doug.
Even though York’s opponent had been a famous knight, York had closed the distance in an instant and defeated him with a single blow. He was like a flash of black lightning.
Ever since then, York had always been Doug’s greatest idol.
One day he wanted to work under him.
But when Doug became an apprentice knight, he heard an unbelievable rumour.
Apparently a boy had entered the 18th Division as an apprentice.
All members of the 18th were scouted personally by York.
In other words, they all had enough talent and ability to draw York’s eyes.
Because of that, Doug had assumed that there was no option except to train hard to become an apprentice and then earnestly work as a knight to catch York’s eye.
But apparently this apprentice knight had directly entered the 18th. It was unprecedented.
Doug couldn’t stand it. He begged again and again to be transferred into the Northern Dormitory, and because of his passion, his request was finally granted.
And when he saw Heath, Heath’s small, delicate frame had shocked him.
After all that, Doug defeated Gorms who stood in his way and finally challenged Heath, but he was rejected…
He had never even considered that he might be rejected.
Doug didn’t really have a reason, but he just assumed that if he won, then there was a chance his wish would be fulfilled, and even if he lost, there might be something he could learn from it.
But he was rejected again and again, never even getting a chance to fight. His transfer here had been meaningless.
(What am I supposed to do in this situation…)
Doug agonised over the problem. And then he came to a conclusion.
(There’s really no option except to fight…!)
But lately Doug had been so annoying that Heath would run away at the mere sight of him. Far from fighting, Doug couldn’t even issue his challenge now.
And then he realised something.
(But in here, he can’t run…!)
Doug had seen Heath coming in here to bathe as well. He hadn’t heard Heath leave yet.
Heath was still here.
If Heath was in a stall, then it was a dead end.
Doug made up his mind and splashed a final bucket of water onto himself before wiping himself dry and changing.
With that, he stood in front of Heath’s stall.
Ready to challenge Heath, he pulled open the curtain.
“Heath! Today is the day that… I…”
Doug turned into a statue.
What lay beyond the open curtains was the sight of a naked, blond-haired girl…