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Chapter 53 Sports Festival, Mid - Part 1


 Four students per class, thirty-six in total, entered and lined up by class on the outer edge of the oval track.
 The placement seemed to be random, and just in front of Chihiro is 1-A――Yuse Shuka. It seems that she is the rider of the race. All the members except Shuka are men.
 
「Guys, the rider of class 1-A will probably come to this side」
「Ok」
「Let's focus on that for now」
 
 The three cavalry of Class C nod to each other.
 After putting on a landmark headband, Chihiro is lifted by the three.
 He looked around at his surroundings with a heightened vision and adjusted his breathing.
 A few tens of seconds later, the starting pistol sounded. Immediately after, all the teams start moving at the same time. Shuka's...as expected, ran straight into Chihiro and the others. 
 
**a
 
「Kamishiro!」
「Yah, leave for now! We'll meet them where the crowd is less dense」
 
 Chihiro and the others detoured to the left, avoiding the area where the melee had formed. Then, to their surprise, Shuka and the others charged through the melee, closing in on them.
 Naturally, the other cavalry attacked them, but...
 
「Out of my way!」
 
 They are lightning fast.
 They swept away the second-year rider who had reached out to them, and snatched away the headband while running straight through. Her hand is very fast due to her [Heat Manipulation].
 Seeing the disqualified cavalry of 2-C, the other cavalry seemed to have given up on Shuka.
 No one made any further moves on her, and so her team approached Chihiro and the others without hesitation.
 
「It's been a hundred years since we met here!」
 
 A sharp, intense look pierced Chihiro's face.
 It seems, she doesn't complain about not being able to face Kamishiro directly. And to counter her, Chihiro resisted the urge to look away, and looked back into Shuka's eyes.
 ――Approach from the front, and attack him by scooping him up with my right hand.
 Chihiro understood the plan of attack, and his body moved almost simultaneously with the start of Shuka's attack. Perhaps confused by the uncomfortable feeling of having her mind read, Chihiro saw Shuka's expression change into a quizzical one, and he could brush off Shuka's hand with his left hand.
 However, his left hand went numb from the shock.
 
「Wha...?」
 
 Shuka stiffens for a moment in surprise, but of course, not wanting to wait for her to regain her composure, Chihiro extends his right hand, aiming for Shuka's headband. However――
 
「!」
 
 Just in time.
 Shuka brushed off Chihiro's hand just in time. Despite the fact that the time lag between recognition and reaction is short, her instantaneous power makes it happen and it's terrifying.
 
「Fall back!」
 
 A sharp command was given, and the horse of 1-A took a few steps back.
 
「Izumi-kun!」
「Sorry, just stand by!」
 
 Though it was tempting to attack Shuka before her team could regain their stance, Chihiro probably wouldn't be able to deal with her if she countered.
 So now, if Shuka is coming at him, he would counter her.
 It's probably the only way to win. It might be possible to wait for Shuka to run out of stamina, but it would be dangerous if Shuka's energy capacity is unknown. Maybe she will consume calories to the limit because it is before lunch.
 
「Kamishiro Yuuki!」
 
 Before Chihiro know it, Shuka and the others are approaching again. And it's head-on again. This time, they seem to be planning to stick around until they get Chihiro's headband, and then decide the game with a series of high-speed moves. Surprisingly, she and her team smart. They must have understood from the earlier interplay that they would be blocked if they just used a single move.
 This is not good. But Chihiro read her mind again.
 ――For the first strike, move the right hand from the waist to the headband straight ahead. Chihiro, who had read thus, thrust out his right hand in order to make the first move.
 If he could get to the headband first, he would win.
 
「Too bad!」
 
 But Shuka's left hand blocked Chihiro's move. She managed to block the counterattack with her right hand, but now there was no time to attack. Still, Shuka senses the attacks just in time and continues to prevent them.
 It helps her that his attacks are straightforward,
 
「Why don't you just get beaten up, Kamishiro Yuuki!」
 
 Both of them are getting impatient with the stalemate.
 And it is not only the rider who is burdened. The horsemen, who continue to face their opponents and slowly changing direction as they approach each other, are also gradually accumulating fatigue.
 In this situation, the disadvantage is the rider who has less mental space and is heavier.
 
「Ah!」
 
 After a dozen or so attempts, Chihiro's horse on the right behind him collapsed, and the students on the left staggered along with it. Seeing Chihiro's horse collapsing, the horse of 1-A hurriedly moved away.
 
(I will fall)
 
 Chihiro, thinking that he would fall, squeezed his eyes shut, but the expected fall did not come.
 Because Kamishiro raised his arm and held Chihiro's body. Thanks to Kamishiro, Chihiro is able to keep his balance just in time, and he managed to control himself by being carried by Kamishiro.
 
「Izumi-kun, hold on tighter」
「Uh, yeah」
 
 "Sorry, please take care of the rest", his classmate said so when Chihiro clung to Kamishiro. To be honest, it's very uncomfortable to have his crotch against the back of his head, but at this point, there is no replacing it. 
 
**b
 
「...OK. If you still want to do it, I'll fight you」
 
 Although Chihiro and the others who had regained their footing with just the two of them made her tighten her expression, their expression also tightened. At the sound of her voice, the cavalry of class 1-A rushed forward.
 
「!」
 
 Kamishiro avoids to the right with minimal steps. When they turn to face each other, he moves to the left.
 
「You're moving restless!」
 
 Shuka sometimes reaches out to Chihiro, but she can't seem to get her aim right in the fast-moving world. So, her attacks are unsuccessful.
 And with fewer people, Chihiro and Kamishiro are able to move around more easily.
 However, the stability is lost, and Chihiro struggles not to be knocked down.
 
 And then, suddenly, Chihiro realized.
 On the field, most of the cavalry had already left. Besides Chihiro and Shuka, there are only two cavalry left.
 When that group is finished, the winner will intervene on their fight.
 ...So, they need to decide by then.
 Kamishiro and Shuka must have thought the same thing.
 
「Izumi-kun, we'll do it next」
「We will!」
 
 Their voices overlapped, and the final battle began.
 Shuka's horse is charging straight at Kamishiro, but Kamishiro is prepared to take it, and so he could avoid it by one step to the left. This is a necessary measure, because if they collide, it is Chihiro and Kamishiro who will collapse.
 And Shuka seemed to be aware of it.
 
「I'll take it!」
 
 A hand is extended at high speed. Taking advantage of the horse's stability, Shuka moves her hands away and concentrates on the attack.
 
(Shall I take it? No, we're at a disadvantage in an endurance battle)
 
 Ignoring Shuka's hand, Chihiro extends his right hand. He aims for his opponent's headband.
 Shuka is quicker.
 But...
 
「Eh...?」
 
 *wobble*. Chihiro's body shakes, and his attack misses.
 Naturally, since he is desperately clinging to Kamishiro's head with all his limbs, the more he moves his right hand away, the more he loses his balance.
 But now, both Chihiro and Kamishiro are nearing their limits. So, there is no time to regain their balance, and now, the game is between Chihiro falling off from Kamishiro or he taking off Shuka's headband as soon as possible.
 ...Don't think about anything else.
 Chihiro just went for the headband.
 Ignore what's happening to his body. All that mattered is that his right hand reached the target.
 
 And he got it.
 
「...You're good」
 
 Shuka muttered, her eyes widening and a smile appearing on her face shortly after.
 Hearing this, Chihiro felt himself falling.
 
「Ah!」
 
 Kamishiro's arms stretched out as quickly as he could and caught Chihiro with both arms.
 "Kyaa..." Some of the students (mostly girls) cheered, but the people in question are not concerned with that.
 
 *exhale sound*
 
 Chihiro exhaled and looked up at Kamishiro's face, trying to calm his heartbeat.
 His forehead was sweating, but he was smiling. 
 
**c
 
「Good work, Izumi-kun」
「...Kamishiro-kun, is this going to be a disqualification?」
「Well...uh, yes. You've fallen from the horse...」
 
 And then a voice from the side.
 
「But as long as the rider doesn't touch the ground, it's safe」
 
 It's Shuka, who has dismounted. While the other three rushed out, only she remained there, looking up at Kamishiro.
 
「I lost this time, but don't think you can win next time」
「...Haha. It's not me who won this time, it's Izumi-kun」
 
 Kamishiro laughed at Shuka's aggressive ranting, wondering where she got such energy.
 To be honest, Chihiro would have preferred not to get involved in the conversation.
 Fortunately, Shuka only glanced at Chihiro and snorted, "Hmmph".
 
「I'm not interested in options」
 
 With that, she strode off the field.
 Chihiro and Kamishiro couldn't help but follow her with their eyes. ....
 
「Behind you, they're coming!」
「Eh?」
 
 When they looked back, the only remaining cavalry is closing in on Chihiro and the others.
 
「Izumi-kun, hurry up and get on my head」
「Uh, yeah. Oh, but I have to wear this headband, too」
 
 The two rushed to get ready, but couldn't make it in time.
 They fell to the ground together by the rush of the third year's cavalry.
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