School Arc – Chapter 20
Even when the possibility of other people coming into the room shot up, even as I squirmed my way out from under him, I wasn’t able to wake Wolf halfway through his comatose sleep.
『We weren’t pricking up our ears to listen in, you know. Or perhaps I should say… with the thick doors, we couldn’t hear anything to start with. We simply got surprised by the scream…』, when my little brother let the cat out of the bag, I eyed my father with suspicion as my father laughed to cover up his embarrassment, but, since I was sure I had them worried, I couldn’t get angry at them.
Then, Father hurriedly ran away. I suppose his parting words that he had business with the school faculty was no lie, at least.
As for Shade, it seems like he planned to escort me until I reached the women’s dormitory, so this also led him to walk briskly on.
「Shade, I think it would be better if you rest. You’re looking a little white」
「I’m a handsome fair-skinned young man by nature, you know」
「… yes, a handsome fair-skinned young man listening in with his ear pressed to the door, what a picture-perfect sight that turned out to be indeed」
Even though I replied back with words filled with sarcasm, for some reason, Shade pulled a happy-looking smile.
「I knew it… you’re really tired, aren’t you?」
I said it worriedly, actually really serious, but he replied 「how rude」 sounding somewhat lively.
「You really did get better, didn’t you, Elder Sister?」
In the end, he said that sort of thing with a look that said 『what a relief』 , so I ended up at a loss for words.
Wolf also leaves me speechless from time to time by saying embarrassing things. But, this sort of honest attitude coming from Shade still left me wondering how I should respond to it in its own way.
「Uuhm…I’m truly sorry for all the worry I caused this time…」
「It’s unlike you to apologise, so please stop」
Having been flatly cut off, I decided to change the topic.
「I wonder… how many do you think fell victim to nightmares in the end?」
「Who knows. Even if you trust my self-assessment of the situation, we can’t really tell the difference between those caused by magic to those that are simply just nightmares」
「Did you not see nightmares, Shade?」
「Yeah, the way I train is different, so it doesn’t affect me」
When I was about to reply back that training had nothing to do with anything, I realized Shade wasn’t looking in my direction. With his stubborn profile looking straight ahead, I felt uncomfortable for some reason.
「Hey, is that really the truth…?」
This time, he didn’t answer back. With Shade keeping silent altogether, I sighed.
Shade had seen a nightmare. But, in the current situation, it doesn’t seem like he’ll obediently tell me what his nightmare was about. Right now, it’s not evident enough to show in his physical condition, though.
Even my muttering was ignored.
If I compared Shade with Wolf, I think Shade still lets other people spoil him. But even then, it’s not like he asks me advice on just about everything. Maybe it had to do with his self-respect or maybe his pride as a man, I wager it was probably something along those lines.
Shade had ended up walking on at a brisk pace, so we were almost at the women’s dormitory.
「Shade, do you have any questions for me?」
「That’s right. I am the first to conquer the nightmares, right? So, if you have any questions, I’ll answer them for you」
「Then, let’s hear it at least. What’s the secret to overcoming the nightmares?」
Even though I wished he’d ask for my advice, he asked only for a foolproof way to beat the nightmares. Well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Nevertheless, I answered him in earnest.
「The thing is… it is love!」
Even though I’d say that it was pretty well said, would you believe it, after a pause, Shade had the audacity to clutch his stomach in laughter.
「Isn’t it rude of you to start laughing!? I was being serious…!」
「I’m sorry, I’d been expecting it to be some kind of deeply profound words…」
He was trying to downplay it by putting on a docile expression, but he eventually burst out laughing after that.
「You’re not making this any better, you know! 」
「N-No… really, it’s not like I’m complaining, you know. It’s just… I was caught off guard…」
「… if you’re laughing that vigorously, then looks like you’re OK」
「That… might be so. I’m probably stronger than you’d expect. At any rate, I am your brother, after all」
When Shade finally stopped rolling over in laughter, a playboy smile deliberately graced his face.
「But just to be sure, please give me your love too, Elder Sister」
「What are you saying all of a sudden?」, I said with a snort.
「There’s no way I wouldn’t love my one and only precious little brother, right?」
Shade looked amazed at my declaration, then replied with a slightly bright expression.
「…I wonder about that」
Contrary to those dishonest words, his cheeks were a little red.
Naturally. Rather than from him feeling my love, the fact that he’d been rolling around in laughter earlier was more likely the cause of the reddening.
Resolving to have Shade go to see Father later, I headed to where Lily was.
I wasn’t heading to Lily’s own room, but rather, the female dormitory’s medical office.
The cause of her comatose state was a different nature to that of the black fog, so I heard they’ve been performing various medical treatments on her for the chance at recovery. Despite the fact that there should’ve been a way to wake her up if it was only a spell to induce sleep, even now, they still haven’t come up with a counter spell. Generally speaking, the non-standard quality of Gift’s magic made it very troublesome.
「But, her condition is a little off today」, remarked the medical office doctor.
「Did her condition get worse?」
I frantically inspected Lily’s countenance, but, there wasn’t any particular difference.
「No, quite the contrary. It looks like she’s gaining awareness. She’s responding to the ambient sounds」
When the doctor called out a 「Liliam」, Lily’s eyelashes twitched several times in response to her call.
「Lily! Lily! Can you hear me?」
I raised my voice too, and this time, even though it was only lightly, her eyelids opened.
Then, Lily’s small hands reached out unsteadily to me as if asking for help, so I immediately took her hand in mine.
「Lily, you’ve finally come to」
Lily’s verdure green eyes, though still in a daze, had certainly reflected me.
The medical office didn’t turn boisterous all of a sudden. It was good news that Lily had finally woken up, but if we don’t understand the cause, we still need to be wary for any movements from Gift.
Ultimately, it took time until we determined that there were no changes in the school. In this regard, since several students with sharp intuition have testified that 『for the time being, the black fog hanging in the air was fading at the school 』 , our theory held true.
The damage of the black fog was mainly having me, Wolf, as well as the others, see nightmares, it seems like students complaining about not feeling well had been plenty. There was a sharp distinction between Lily’s symptoms and ours, but the theory was that the cause of her coma was also the black fog.
In other words, with Wolf and I, the main victims, overcoming that fog, we surmised that since the magic effects on our bodies were fading away, Lily would probably be waking up as well.
They say that even the fog that had been blocking the path to the guest house’s basement was fading away. That is, they say that Gift lost the barrier that had been blocking others from trespassing.
I don’t know what he’s going to unleash next time, but one thing’s for sure, if he remains left alone in the school, he will continue to pose a threat to the public.
I dare say, it’ll probably turn into offensive attacks from here on.