Silver Cross and Draculea:Volume04 Prologue
"Let me do it!"
During afternoon homeroom, the girl raised her pale arm proudly and declared.
All her classmates' attentions were drawn to this young otherworldly beauty who was completely flawless in appearance only—Rushella Dahm Draculea.
Perhaps she enjoyed being the center of attention, Rushella crossed her arms and nodded with satisfaction. Then greatly pleased, she asked the boy next to her:
"So hurry up and tell me, Hisui, what does 'relay' and 'final leg' actually mean!?"
"You raised your hand without knowing what it was about..."
Although this was well within expectation, Hisui still could not help but retort with a suffering expression.
Indeed, today's homeroom discussion was about the upcoming sports festival's various matters.
The distribution of various chores during the festival, confirmation of participating events, deciding on the future schedule—These were all being decided smoothly except for the final debate.
The final debate involved designating Rushella as the final leg runner for the relay race that she had just volunteered for.
Hisui originally thought the class only needed to pick a few participants to enter the race, but it turned out that all members of the class were obliged to participate.
Putting the issue of ordering aside, apparently not just Rushella but also Hisui had to take part.
"Say, what's with this kind of troublesome event...? Shouldn't this type of event be limited to the third years? ...It's not like this could serve as our graduation memories. This would only create mental trauma for the slowpokes."
"What are you rambling about incomprehensibly!? I'm asking you, what does 'final leg' mean exactly!?"
"...The last runner in a relay race. The person who gets the most attention and wins the most applause. Depending on the result, you'll either be seen as a great hero or a great sinner."
Hisui explained this cruel and unwritten rule of the sports festival.
But to an optimist like Rushella, this warning basically fell on deaf ears.
Seeing her eyes flash brightly, clearly she only heard the first half of his explanation.
"I see, then isn't this kind of role created just for me! Very well! Class Rep, let me do it!"
Before Hisui could stop her, she raised her hand up high and announced.
In charge of the class discussion, Sera Reina looked awkwardly at Hisui to seek his judgment.
In these kinds of situations, she always felt it was best to delegate the decision to Hisui who understood Rushella the best.
Hisui could only sigh and offer sound advice.
"Come on, stop it. Besides, the sports festival is held during daytime. Simply participating will be dangerous for you, okay?"
Hisui calmly hinted at Rushella's weakness as a vampire.
Due to her fear of sunlight, she always observed rather than participated in PE class.
She could use her vampire physical abilities to show off during indoor events, but unfortunately, there was no stage for her to shine in the sports festival.
The classmates and PE teacher were deceived using the excuse of a bodily condition of sensitive skin... which was not entirely a lie.
Currently, everyone's gaze seemed to be asking her not to act tough... It looked like no one doubted the lie at all.
"...So, let's choose someone else for the final leg. Please continue, Class Rep."
At Reina's request, Hisui released Rushella from the center of the debate.
Although Rushella sat down, naturally, she was not pleased with Hisui at all.
"Why not!? What does it matter!? If it's sunlight, just ask 'Senpai' for help again...!"
"Listen to how strange you sound. And it's not like you should rely on others so much. After all, she has her own life."
Hisui was worrying for a certain unofficial club member—Uno Kirika.
Using her skills as a "witch," she was able to make a light-blocking agent for vampires to screen out sunlight.
But naturally, that required a lot of effort and also involved practical matters like money.
"...Besides, even if you use that, you're still only at your daytime level, right? Maybe you're top among ordinary high school students, but against the track and field club's specialized sprinters, it's not so clear cut anymore... But then again, our school's athletic clubs aren't particularly strong, so you should be winning without a doubt."
"What does it matter!?"
"Of course it matters."
In any case, Hisui did not want Rushella to stand out too much.
Everything stemmed from this principle.
After all, her beauty was already superb. Attracting the attention of all teachers, students, parents and visitors could very well end up causing trouble.
"Mmmmmm.... What does it matter!? I'm just going for a run..."
Hisui tried his best to handle this problem child and let the homeroom discussion continue.
Excluding Rushella, everyone else hoped to select a candidate that they all approved.
In theory, boys from the track and field club would be the best candidates.
However, although Hisui's class had track and field students, none of them were boys specializing in sprinting.
Compared to the entire year group, there were a few boys in the class who were especially fast, but one of them was already selected as the first runner and could not take the final leg as well. He was sitting by the window, staring outside with disinterest, clearly with no intention to swap his spot.
This meant choosing from the remaining candidates... But no one apparently wanted to take on this heavy responsibility.
Actually, Hisui had no right to judge others, after all, he himself was trying his hardest to avoid the burden too.
Just as everyone hesitated, a boy in the first row closest to the black board spoke up.
His name was something like Kuroda—A speedy guy from the baseball club. Probably the best candidate for the final leg. His refreshingly short hair and deeply tanned skin left others with a deep impression.
"Say, this spot doesn't have to be a boy, right? Since it's a mixed-gender event in the first place, it's not like the final leg decides the victory. Class Rep, you should pick someone from the girls."
"Agreed. Don't restrict it to boys only."
"Any girls in the track and field club?"
"Ah, isn't Iga a sprinter?"
Agreement resounded all over the place.
The earlier discussion only considered boys for the final leg, so they restarted the debate again.
No one wanted to do it.
Just push it on someone else and prioritize keeping it away from me... Although it did not go that extreme, everyone was trying to minimize their chances of getting chosen.
Although Hisui felt the same, he could not help but feel a little displeased.
"Uh...... Then... Iga-san...... How do you feel about doing it?"
In a hesitating manner, Reina asked Iga Airi who was sitting in the middle of the classroom.
The usually inconspicuous short-haired girl whose appearance and grades were equally ordinary lowered her gaze and shook her head.
"Umm... I... can't run fast......"
She was not being humble. It was the truth.
Despite belonging to the track and field club and focusing on sprinting, that did not necessarily mean she could run the fastest.
Hisui had never heard praise for how fast she ran.
"...Say, if we're gonna pick from the girls, Seira-san is the best candidate, right? Aishin Middle School's Sera Reina is quite famous and has excellent achievements in running events."
These words carried nostalgia and a bit of hope.
Although the two of them were from different middle schools, they had met before.
Hisui recalled Reina's self-introduction on the first day of class.
She seemed to have mentioned something about being good at all track and field events.
"Right, there's Class Rep too. Then let's go with Class Rep?"
"Yeah yeah... I support Class Rep. To be honest, it's quite unbelievable that you didn't join the club."
"Rather than picking a boy randomly, Class Rep probably runs faster."
Agreement resounded throughout the classroom.
Not just the boys but even the girls were unanimous as well.
It looked like things were set beyond a doubt.
In actual fact, Reina's speed did rival the top male contestants.
Due to this fact, plus her lack of overt refusal, it looked like the final leg runner was decided.
But Reina remained helpless.
Ever since her middle school years were mentioned, her expression looked stiff.
Hisui noticed it.
"Not so fast."
His tone of voice was very casual without enthusiasm.
But because he seldom spoke out in class, all the classmates all turned one after another to look at Hisui in the back row.
With the entire class gazing at him, Hisui scratched his head with an annoyed expression.
Of course he found it annoying.
It was absolutely annoying to the extreme.
But he had no choice but to say it.
"All the other classes are probably going to send a boy as the final leg, right? Isn't it a bit inappropriate for us to send Class Rep there as the only girl? Even though she's fine in terms of speed."
He did not refute the class' approval of Reina's abilities but simply told them the truth.
He was not sure if this would change their minds, but at least it slowed them down to ponder.
Asking Reina to be the final leg was not a problem.
But that did not mean she must take on the role.
Although she could run very fast, but against other fast boys—what would the result be like?
Supposing Reina was the fastest runner in the class, but if there was no decisive lead before the baton passed to her, asking her to be the final leg was meaningless.
She was just one candidate at most.
Everyone returned to the discussion stage again.
This was exactly Hisui's goal.
He simply hoped to shift people's view slightly and avoid having Reina as the sole target.
"Anyway, let's write down the names of the candidates first and decide by voting or recommendation? A secret ballot is fine too. Worse comes to worst, we can simply decide it with rock-paper-scissors."
"Don't make things so complicated."
Hisui hurriedly covered Rushella's mouth and stopped her sudden speech.\
"(Stop it, what are you doing!?)"
"Fine, be quiet then."
Rushella struggled desperately while Hisui muffled her with all his strength.
Then the entire class smiled while watching their little farce.
Before their battle could be decided, the bell rang to signal the end of the period.
In the end, the decision still was not made.
An uncomfortable atmosphere hung in the classroom.
Just as everyone looked at one another, Reina resolved herself and spoke:
"Well... Uh, let's tentatively have the final leg... as me, okay? As for the rest of the sequence, I'm going to pass out a form. Everyone please fill in your name and pass it along. If there's any conflicts, please discuss peacefully... Otherwise resort to rock-paper-scissors to decide. Anyway, it's all decided."
She smiled and offered an appropriate suggestion.
Although her smile was a bit stiff, at least there was a conclusion. All the classmates nodded in agreement.
"Then... I'll make the form and pass it out next time during break."
Thus homeroom ended.
During the afternoon break between periods, everyone was passing Reina's form around, writing their names down next to their desired number in the sequence.
The form was very simple. Apart from the first and final legs that were already decided, the numbers from two to thirty-nine were listed out. Once everyone wrote their name next to their desired position, the ordering was set for now.
If the position desired was already taken, negotiation was needed... But to be honest, that was kind of meaningless.
In actual fact, people simply wrote down their name where they saw a blank and were not really particular about the order.
Because the most troublesome position was already decided.
Hence, when Hisui received the form from Rushella, he simply wrote down his name in a blank spot without looking carefully.
"...Hey, there's only one spot left!? Are you bullying me!?"
"Shut up, I wanted to choose another spot too! Besides, this can't be helped, right? The people at the end are always left with no choice."
"...That's true. Since you're the one who handed it to me, that means you only had two choices available. Oh well, it actually doesn't matter."
Saying that, Hisui looked down at where he had written his name. It was the position of the second leg.
On the other hand, Rushella was thirty-ninth.
Immediately preceding the final leg.
To think the class left the first and last spots open, it felt a little malicious.
Although he could try negotiating another position, Hisui decided to leave it.
In terms of pressure, this was nothing compared to the first and final legs. "A mere sports festival, winning and losing are as irrelevant as clouds in the sky"—People were not that liberated in their ways of thinking.
Hence, Hisui was a bit worried about Reina in the last leg.
Hisui handed the completed form over to her in the neighboring seat.
"Here you go. I guess it's sort of settled now."
"...Yes. Thank you. Also during homeroom......"
Reina bowed her head and thanked him.
But Hisui did not think he had done anything worth thanking for. Neither was he that capable.
"...At the time, I'd look more cool if I said 'Let me do it.' But I don't have the courage. Besides, others probably won't approve if I'm the one doing it."
Despite making his words sound like the truth, Hisui knew clearly in his heart that he was just being a hypocrite.
Having sensed that Reina did not want to be the final leg... He should have offered himself instead.
In the end, he simply shifted people's perspective to push the burden onto others apart from Reina.
What he did was not villainous but neither can it be called justice.
Most importantly, the burden of the final leg still ended up on her shoulders.
"Is it really okay? Although you can run fast... This isn't obligatory. No matter which order you're running, you're still contributing to the overall victory, right?"
"...It's already decided. Someone has to do it after all."
But Hisui knew that her smile did not come truly from the heart.
"Then I'll hand this sequence report to the teacher... Eh, strange......"
"What's the problem?"
Seeing Reina's puzzlement, Hisui curiously looked at the form. Rushella also crowded over. But there was nothing out of the ordinary.
"No one was missed, right? Is there something strange?"
"Well... It's completely filled in. How odd, Kida-kun is absent today..."
Reina looked over to the desk that had remained empty all day since morning.
Hearing her explanation, Hisui also noticed what was strange.
A classmate was definitely absent. If everyone only wrote down their own name, there should be one blank remaining.
"Who helped Kida write his name...? Or did someone write their name twice?"
"Hmm, it's quite strange indeed. Very well, let's check it!"
Rushella gave the orders and Hisui pointed to the names on the form, checking them one by one.
Halfway through, his hand stopped.
His face twisted uncontrollably.
Then he exchanged looks with Rushella.
Naturally, Rushella was also displeased.
"What's the matter, have you discovered the problem?"
Reina looked over to where Hisui was pointing.
Seeing that name, her face instantly turned gloomy.
Who knew if it was by chance or deliberate—The name, written in red ballpoint pen, made Hisui and Rushella shudder in horror.
Reina also trembled and took a few steps back, accidentally bumping into a boy behind her.
"What's up, Class Rep?"
The boy asked.
Reina pointed to the empty seat.
All the students still lingering in the classroom noticed the commotion and looked at where she was pointing.
In the seat which was supposed to be empty...
There sat a girl.
Long black hair. An old-fashioned uniform.
Translucent body, vague outline—objects can be seen through her body on the other side.
Feeling the student's gazes, she—Fuwa Touko—smiled lightly.
"Eh, no way, you can see me!?"
...After that, screams filled the classroom as the students scattered and fled.
Leaving only Hisui and Reina who had fainted in his arms.
As well as Rushella standing there in shock.
With a displeased expression, she asked the familiar earthbound spirit:
"...What are you doing here?"
"I have arrived❤"
Hisui could not help but spit out the same words someone used to comment on Rushella a long time ago.
After that, of the Seven Wonders of Seidou High, the "Touko-san" tale quickly rose to the top in prominence due to sighting incidents that were to follow.
Translator's Notes and References
- This girl(彼女): this is a repeat of the Volume 1 Chapter 1 scene when Rushella made her entrance in the class. Kanojo(彼女) in Japanese is used as a third person reference for females (her/she/this girl) as well as meaning "girlfriend."
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