Happy new year!!
Blonde hair, red jersey... Riko is standing near them before they knew it. She is looking at Chihiro, but her eyes are slightly averted to avoid eye contact.
「What's your need?」
Maria reacted before Chihiro did.
Riko then glared at her lightly.
「I'm sorry, but I don't have any business with Fukami-san. It's Izumi I want」
Chihiro had a bad feeling.
He is afraid that he would be abused or ridiculed again.
And that premonition is not far from coming true.
「Izumi, train with me. One on one, anything goes, real combat style」
Riko said what she wanted. The faint smile that would normally be on her face is not there now. There is something out of the ordinary about her.
「...Why, with Izumi-kun?」
Maria's cold eyes glanced at her.
「What's it got to do with Fukami-san? I'm talking to Izumi」
Maria frowned at her words.
She narrows her eyes as if to change her perception of the other girl.
「It's relevant. I was the one who offered to train him first」
Riko's attitude is curt.
She cuts her off as if she doesn't matter, and says to Chihiro.
「It doesn't matter if he hasn't said yes yet. Hey, Izumi, which one do you want to train with You're not going to say you don't like either of us, are you?」
The air is strangely tense.
「Do you want to train with me, or do you want to run away and play house with Fukami-san?」
「That's... Izumi-kun, you don't have to take it」
It was an obvious provocation.
If Chihiro accepted the invitation, Riko would definitely try to mess with him.
Now is the time for basic training.
There is no problem to train in a real battle style if the students agree, but there is no reason to complain about avoiding unnecessary injuries and fatigue.
It is not "escape" for a student or an ordinary person to worry about their own safety.
Chihiro's mind drifted back to his conversation with Maria this morning.
[Good luck, my Master]
So, Chihiro decided that he would do his best.
When the dust piles up, he'll work as hard as he can.
...Besides, even yesterday he was able to face Riko head-on.
He then clenched his fists and nodded.
「Okay. Let's do it」
Even though the chances of success are slim, Chihiro told Maria that.
Maria let out a breath and looked back at Riko.
「Do you mind if I watch?」
She would probably refuse, Chihiro thought.
After all, Riko must be planning to torture him even harder than usual. So, there's no need for more people.
Or so he thought.
「Do what you want」
Riko readily agreed to accompany Maria.
After that, the three of them moved indoors to the private training room. On the way, they told the teacher in charge where they are going, and Riko announced that she would continue the training without attending the HR class at the end of the day.
If she does this, she will be able to continue her training even after the class is over.
"...She's going that far?", Chihiro's thought.
And after they arrived, he looks around and saw the private training room is about the size of a kendo match plus more.
Riko, the last person to enter the room, closes the entrance with a bang. After locking the door, she silently turned around and pulled out a wooden sword from the toolbox in the corner.
She had never used a weapon in a fight with Chihiro before. It might be her first time.
That being the case, Chihiro did the same and picked up a wooden sword.
He had returned the one he had just used outdoors, but this wooden sword is exactly the same. The feeling was still there, and when he grasped it, it felt comfortable in his hand.
―― The wooden swords used at Shibahou Academy are covered with a rubber-like cover to reduce the power of the blade. Even so, one must be careful with it, though a single hit is not likely to cause serious injury.
Maria, who watch the game, stood in the middle of the room, near the wall.
「I'll at least give you a signal to start」
Riko replied in an absent-minded voice.
She took off her jersey and threw it against a random wall.
In her dark yellow outfit, her body lines are clearly visible. Although not as voluminous as Maria's, her shapely breasts and buttocks are attractive enough.
However, now is not the time for leisurely observation.
Chihiro adjusted his breathing, switched his consciousness, and faced Riko. His stance is Chūdan-no-kamae because he did not know any complicated kendo kata, and could not use them.
Maria's quiet voice echoed through the practice hall.
Immediately after, Riko kicked straight to the floor. Chihiro doesn't step forward, but tries to follow her gaze.
However, Riko's eyes and face are suddenly covered by black sunglasses.
This is an application of the illusion ability. Chihiro's ability to read minds is now blocked, though her vision becomes a little narrower. Also, he could not predict Riko's actions from the movement of her eyes.
「Are you surprised?」
Riko's cold voice startled him, but she is almost there.
Then, a horizontal blow hit him. He managed to defend himself with his wooden sword, but it was flicked wide in return. Moreover, his left hand, and his right hand became numb. Apparently, he had been hit very hard.
The next blow is a big one. He can't defend himself in time and retreats. But as he dodged, it grazed his chin.
The impact made his head spin.
If Chihiro hadn't dodged the attack, where would it have hit?
While shivering at the thought, he readied his wooden sword and thrust it at least once.
Riko snickered and hit him hard with the wooden sword.
As if pulled by the impact, Chihiro's stance collapsed. Chihiro's body fell back as if pulled down by the impact, and he is hit by another blow to both hands holding the wooden sword.
With a sharp sound and pain, Chihiro dropped the wooden sword unintentionally.
It fell to the floor with a clatter, and Riko kicked it away, sending it tumbling to the edge of the room. It is not practical to pick it up and hold it again.
「I knew it」
Chihiro look up at Riko's voice.
The girl's face is tinged with amusement.
「Yesterday is just a fluke. Izumi, you're making a fool of yourself. Even today, you're happily talking with Takatsuki-san and the others」
Her expression is one of ecstasy, not from sexual pleasure, but from a sense of superiority in tormenting the weak.
Even though Chihiro is taller than her, he felt like he is being looked down upon from an absolute height.
This girl does not recognize Chihiro as a human being. She thinks of Chihiro as a lowly being, an insect to be ridiculed.
It seemed like madness.
「You should reflect on that」
With that said, Riko swings her wooden sword but Chihiro quickly blocked it with his left arm.
The wooden blade naturally pierced his arm, making a light creaking sound.
And he thought that if he didn't fight back here, he would be killed.