Taken by healers and doctors, the three Ludancia professors left the scene, with Mikhail following them as well. Luka wanted to stay, but it would be bad if the professors found out about her relationship with Claude at this point, so she went with Mikhail too.
「So, how did I do?」Claude asked proudly.
「The way you moved, it was hard to believe you were the same guy who was cowering before the fight.」Ivan said.
「What?! Th-That was Hikaru’s fault for setting that fight up out of nowhere!」
「Anyway, you seemed to have gotten better with the sword.」Hikaru said.
Putting more points on Weapon Mastery really did make one more proficient with it. Weapon Mastery did not equate to power. The latter was affected by Strength, Power Burst, and the quality of the weapon itself.
Not really for me.
Hikaru’s specialty was Stealth. Proficiency wasn’t really necessary for surprise attacks.
「I-I know, right?! It did feel like it, but you just confirmed my suspicions!」
「Damn it. Is your job class really that incredible?」Ivan asked.
「It’s not exactly an extremely incredible class. So don’t get carried away, Claude.」
Ivan assumed it was all thanks to Claude’s job class. They really couldn’t think of any other reason he got stronger either.
「But he won against instructors! He can get cocky for a bit, can’t he?」
「You parried Kilnenko’s rapid attacks with your sword, right?」
「Hmm? Ah, yes. I did well… didn’t I?」
「You were standing completely still. A bit of a surprise attack and you would have been thrown off balance.」
「You were too focused on your sword that you forgot to take a proper stance. It happens often to people who improved all of a sudden.」
Hikaru himself experienced it first-hand when he maxed out his Throwing Skill. His mind couldn’t keep up with his body at all.
「You can’t afford to get cocky until you get used to your job class.」
「He’s right, Claude!」Ivan cut in.「It looked like Professor Mikhail changed his opinion about you. I’m sure he’ll work you hard starting tomorrow!」
「What? You mean there’s gonna be another demon besides Hikaru?! Get me out!」
「Did you just call me a demon?」
「Well, you are one. Duh.」Ivan said.
「What do you mean? I didn’t train with Claude.」
「Well, you see…」
Apparently while Hikaru was in Forestzard, Claude fought against Ivan and the other Jarazack students and they kept telling him that “Hikaru is much nastier than this.”
「W-Wait a sec! I know! Let’s go celebrate!」
「I’m sure Professor Mikhail has no complaints about what you showed. In fact his eyes were screaming “I want to fight this guy too!” So let’s celebrate!」
「That’s a great idea. All that tension quickly left my body and now I’m exhausted. Let’s get a light drink.」
「It’s important to take a break too. Gotta keep up the motivation!」
Ivan somehow managed to talk his way out of trouble. Hikaru was then kidnapped to Three Cheers for Booze.
「To Claude’s victory! Cheers!」
Three drinking cups clashed. It was lunch time, so there was a fair amount of people in the pub. Many were drinking, as it was common in this world to drink even during the day.
Today’s menu was pasta with tomato sauce with plenty of meat and vegetables. The pasta itself was not the noodle kind, but shorter chunks. It tasted delicious with sauce seeping inside.
Hikaru sensed something off with the flavor. The food was delectable, as always.
Ah, right. Garlic.
He recalled how the food in Pond’s Pasta Magic tasted like it lacked something. Still they were delicious as the owner was a great cook. But this tavern used garlic. Maybe they grow locally?
「I’m going to see the owner.」
「Hey, Hikaru! That’s water you’re drinking!」
Ivan grabbed his shoulders and forced him to sit down as he was about to get up.
「Drink some ale too.」
「Let me go. I can’t hold my liquor. Please don’t force me.」
「Alcohol actually makes you strong!」
「And you expect me to believe that? Anyway, I need to talk to—」
A voice came from the entrance. Lavia and Catherine. Hikaru didn’t have a lot of opportunities to have lunch with Lavia as she frequently just stayed in the library. She had been spending a lot of time with her new friend Catherine too.
「I didn’t expect to see you here, Lavia.」
「Catherine said she wanted to come by again.」
「H-Hey! It’s not like that! Any place would’ve been fine, but I remembered Lavia’s tea so I suggested this place. That’s all.」
She desperately tried to make an excuse, clearly not expecting to see the boys here.
「Was this place actually so boorish?」Catherine asked.
「It’s a pub. You didn’t know that?」
「Master, can we have lunch for two please?」Lavia said as she took a seat beside Hikaru. Her voice was much softer than the hustle and bustle in the establishment, but the Master gave her a thumbs up.
「He heard you, huh?」
「His ears never miss an order.」
It seemed Lavia knew that for a while now. Hikaru considered opening the Master’s Soul Board, but refrained from doing so. He couldn’t just go infringing someone’s privacy.
Now that I think about it, we don’t know his real name.
In this world, the only form of identification were the guild and soul cards. There were no public registers. Names weren’t that important here.
「So… any reason you’re drinking so early in the day? Do you even have the luxury to be doing this?」
Catherine sat down beside Lavia and shot an icy glare at Claude. The young man groaned as he put back the cup he was about to drink on the table.
「Not my problem.」Ivan muttered, downing his ale.
Come on, man. You gotta help him out.
「Claude just defeated three professors from Ludancia in successive matches. So we’re celebrating.」
「What? Explain yourself.」
「For the record, I told them we shouldn’t even celebrate like this.」Hikaru said.
Hikaru dodged responsibility and threw it back to Claude. The Master, in the meantime, brought the girls’ food.
「W-Well… I, uhh… got stronger. So I wanted to check…」
「Please explain clearly. This concerns our alliance, right?」
Stammering, Claude began explaining what happened. Hikaru whispered to Lavia, ignoring them.
(I’m surprised she said “our” alliance.)
(She’s working hard, you know. She’s checking records of past Foundation Anniversaries in the library and what matters were brought up in the meeting. And she’s making notes for our plan.)
Hikaru thought she didn’t care, but Catherine was actually quite proactive.
「All right. I get it.」
Claude finished explaining.
「You should be grateful to Luka. She should be telling them right now that you got sick of the Ludancia professor so you quit his class.」
「Of course. I’m impressed she went with Professor Mikhail. She wants to put in a good word for you so they don’t at least suspect your relationship with her. She’s a girl who can pull off something like that.」
「That’s my Luka.」
Catherine’s expression hardened as Claude started mooning over Luka.
「She wouldn’t have to do all this if you didn’t do anything stupid. You should be more aware of your actions.」
「Uh… I’m sorry.」
「You too, Hikaru.」
「You knew Professor Kilnenko would interfere and you let him be.」
Apparently Claude even told her that part. Damn it, man… Hikaru scowled at Claude who gulped down his ale, feigning ignorance.
「I knew he would poke his nose into our affairs sooner or later. So I thought, might as well deal with the problem sooner.」
「You could’ve done it after the anniversary.」
「I thought about that, but we were in a rush as well. It’s extremely important for Claude to be able to fight Professor Mikhail.」
「I had some other, rather violent options too. Like Kilnenko could’ve been involved in an unfortunate accident last night. Would you have preferred that?」
Claude turned pale.
「You even considered that? Damn, you really are the nastiest one around.」he said.
「What’s this unfortunate accident about?」
Ivan didn’t seem to get it, but Hikaru refrained from explaining. Catherine heaved a sigh.
「I guess it’s true. Whether this alliance works out is up to you.」she said.
「Me? Why?」Hikaru asked.
「Silvester said so before he went back to Zubura. He was even worried. If you went the wrong direction, the alliance could collapse.」
「I just hope his worries don’t turn into reality.」
Catherine stared at him. Lavia then grabbed Hikaru’s arm.
「I don’t care if it’s you Catherine. I’ll get mad if someone bad mouths Hikaru.」
「I’m not criticizing him. Remember Rose Knight Paradise? “The powerful knight, while reliable, is also dangerous.”」
「What? Rose Knight Paradise?」Hikaru asked.
「It’s the book that triggered my first conversation with Catherine. Do you want to read it?」
「Sure, if I have the time.」
As they were talking, the door to the pub opened, and a large man appeared. Professor Mikhail. The moment he spotted Claude, he yelled “Let’s have a practice match!”
That’s one more step forward, Hikaru thought.