Food. It’s one of the essential things for a living being to have in order to stay alive.
It doesn’t matter what gender, age, or race. No organism can survive without food.
A teacher once said that only plants are the exception, being the only thing to live off of light and water, but I laughed when I heard that──people could say outrageous things.
Anyway, this is one of the vital actions that an organism must do, or else it isn’t a organism.
After living off my life as a human and being reborn as an elf, I am still no exception to this action.
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Here, at Arufareia Academy, we get meals three times a day; one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening.
When I was a human, I only ate two meals a day. Seeing this kind of difference brings a sort of nostalgia──such a cultural difference.
That aside, it was that time of day again.
So. It’s time for lunch.
In the classroom I was currently learning at, there was a slight merry mood, totally unlike a few moments before.
The sounds of happy children resounded in the classroom.
It was as if all the satiety that they had gotten from breakfast was a lie; they all looked happy as though they were at a festival.
I was jealous of the children who could get into such moods. Although my body was young, my mind was that of an old man, and it wasn’t my style to get into such a mood off of food.
My only purpose for living was for one reason; to wear my life down until it disappeared. This was my way of living.
…..So I say, but.
「Slava-kun, want to eat together?」(Seria)
「Oh, it’s Seria! Slava~ I also want to eat together~」(Shido)
Said the young girl and boy, respectively. Eating together with an honest friend or two wasn’t that bad.
Shido and Seria both walked over, lunch trays being held by both hands, and sat down on the same table as I.
….It used to be just Seria and I eating lunch together, but before I knew it, Shido was also eating lunch together with us.
Master always said that if one were to eat, they should eat good food with good friends. Now I understand. As the three people conversed, a small smile appeared on their mouths.
「Oh, then let’s eat together.」
As soon as I said that, the two moved vacant desks and connected it to my desk, and sat down.
The owners of the seats seem to be friends of these two. One of the owners was sitting in Shido’s seat.
Well then, let’s start eating.
♦ ♦ ♦
As we were eating, Seria asked questions about what we had learned today in class.
On the other hand, Shido asked questions pertaining to Martial Arts class, most of them being questions about how to fix his stance and movements.
These questions, to a「Martial Arts」 master like me, were just like child’s play. Thankfully, these questions were fairly simple and wouldn’t arouse one’s suspicion if I answered them.
Shido always asked me these kind of questions, and in turn, I answered them by giving him 「Advice」. Before we knew it, we were already close friends.
Thus, I started thinking that eating together during lunchtime was just an excuse to get some pointers and tips from me.
Eating was very slow process, and I thought to myself, “If I had a grandchild, would it become something like this?”
I had used to think that school only existed to restrain the present me──however, it’s very fun.
I cut my salted pork into pieces with my knife and stabbed the pieces with my fork.
I wasn’t in a hurry, so I slowly chewed the salted pork after putting it into my mouth.
「It’s gotten slightly better?」
While we were enjoying our meal, a voice spoke out.
──Damn, we thought. Though it wasn’t the appropriate phrase.
Honestly, I wanted to enjoy my meal, but.
Behind Shido, who has an emerald hair color, was a girl with glossy black hair.
「I would also like to sit down to eat together, may I?」
The object of adoration for all elves.
The legendary martial artist, Alma Shijima, directed a smiling countenance towards me.
「It’s Alma-sama! Ah, of course!」
「You’re very good at teaching; you should teach the technique instead!」
I readily gave consent because Seria and Shido were making sparkling eyes.
It was the embodiment of a 「Martial Artist」asking for a seat, a figure that Shido admired. I didn’t have any complaints.
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….For me, it felt like my daughter was asking me to eat together. I can usually refuse none of her requests──
It was my daughter’s eyes, which looked as if they were hunting prey, that had worried me.
Somehow, I have a bad feeling about this. Contrary to my feelings, I shook my head in order to get rid of this feeling.
「Slava, what’s wrong? Are you uncomfortable with me here?」
Alma laughs as if she had detected a sign of restlessness in me. I chewed the pork I had in my mouth and swallowed it.
…..Alma’s gentle laugh. When combined with a smile and her peerless beauty, it could also be said to be bewitching.
However, this was why I was feeling a sense of impending crisis. Though it was a smile that a million people would worship, to me, it was my daughter’s smile that would create some kind of trouble.
Calm down? How could one calm down when they were facing the smile of a hunter hunting prey?
However, I still can’t decline the invitation to teach. With Seria’s hopeful gaze and Shido’s 「Don’t do anything unnecessary」expression, I could not decline the request even if I wanted to. Moreover, it was my own daughter’s request.
「No, there isn’t such a thing. Please sit down.」
「Is that so…~tsu! I’ll gladly sit down~」
In the end, I accepted the request.
Alma laughs happily when she gets my permission. It was the same when she was a small child; she always laughed happily whenever she got my permission.
Alma moves to the vacant desk. To fit four people, Shido moved over a bit and created enough space for Alma to sit.
It should be noted that Alma probably didn’t think she would be rejected. After all, her food was already at the space with vacancy.
「Well then, I’ll start eating too.」
Alma, who was sitting on a small chair, behaved herself and cut the meat into smaller pieces before carrying it to her mouth.
…This is nostalgic. I used to eat meals with her the same way in my past life.
Noticing that I had recalled the scenes of how I used to have meals with her, I suddenly put on an amused expression for a second.
「Nnn? Is there something on my face?」
However, such an expression was seen by my daughter.
I didn’t feel much anger from her tone, as she had on a gentle smile. It was just a teasing tone.
「Ah, no. There isn’t anything.」
「Is that so? Then it’s all okay.」
Oops, I was too busy thinking about my previous life. Thank god Alma didn’t catch anything. Since she’s an elf, she has a long life, so she could’ve realized that I was reincarnated.
Any further, and I really would have been exposed. I really have to stop doing these suspicious actions. I braced myself to do some small talk in order not to arouse suspicion.
While we were making small talk, I found out that the ingredients actually didn’t cost much. This cooks’ arm is pretty good. While talking about this topic, lunchtime goes by.
Shido, Seria, and I. We finished our meals in this order, and what was left was Alma’s small bread.
In the middle of our small talk, Alma stuffed the bit of bread into her mouth, and the meal was finished.
I glanced at the clock──which had a bird fly out every few hours──and glanced at it. There was too much time in lunchtime.
…..That said, it was like this every day; meal times always took up more time than time spent learning. We always devoted the rest of the time to chatting.
However, it’s a little different today.
「Tasty~na, the meal, that is.」
There was some tension remaining, most likely due to Alma’s appearance. Because Seria and Shido were less talkative today (due to Alma’s appearance), I heard the sigh that Alma let out.
♦ ♦ ♦
「Now then ~to. Now that I’ve finished my meal──」
Alma’s eyes piercing gaze turned towards me.
I had guessed as much, but to do it now. Though I had already noticed it before she had sat down, her attitude had completely disappeared during the meal──or so I thought.
Alma wipes her mouth with a piece of cloth, though her mouth wasn’t all that dirty, and put it down.
Then, Alma put her face close to mine──close enough that I thought they would touch.
「….You’re too close, sensei.」
I try to escape by saying those words.
Alma put her hands on my shoulder, and then pulled her face a little closer; a little too close.
I can’t escape. I give up on giving an appropriate excuse to leave, and stand in place.
Shido and Seria both look confused, as they don’t know what is going on. Eh, you can only rely on yourself in situations like this, after all.
After a short while──that seemed like a long time compressed into a small amount of time──Alma’s eye color changed.
Could it be that she has already figured out my identity? While preparing for something like this, what Alma said was──
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「I strive in order to find a suitable candidate for the Shijima style──would you like to become a successor?」
「I know this is sudden and all, but you have talent! Could it be that you don’t want to succeed the name of Slava of the Shijima style──the strongest in the world!?」
Would you like to become a disciple? It was that sort of thing.
There was one criteria that a disciple had to fulfill if they wanted to be invited; they had to have talent.
The people around me reacted quite strongly. What is this…maybe this is how I’m supposed to react.
「A-Awesome! Alma-sensei gave you a direct invitation! As expected of Slava!」
「Slava-kun, this is an amazing thing!」
Cried out Shido and Seria in loud voices.
When the people in the classroom heard these cries, all the eyes gathered unto Alma and I.
These eyes, without exception, showed admiration and excitement. It didn’t matter if they were teachers or children.
To get an invitation from the 「Strongest Martial Artist」(Elf), it was expected that the recipient would be talented, and there should be no reason to refuse this invitation.
However, it’s different for me.
The girl before my eyes was certainly a legendary「Martial Artist」, however, there was always someone higher ranked. The ‘someone’ higher ranked than this girl, who had her name engraved in history books, was I.
This was why I couldn’t be her disciple. After all, I am her master──though she doesn’t know it.
The thing about me being a disciple, I hadn’t even registered it. If it were any other type of discipleship/apprenticeship, I may have considered it, but there is no ‘discipleship’ for the Shijima style.[^2]
「Oh, I decline it.」
「Why!? It’s a pity that such a shining gemstone like you will be buried. Honestly speaking, you have way more talent than I do!」
Of course I did. It would even be understandable if I surpassed a teacher in 「Martial Arts」tomorrow if I tried. This was because I had already surpassed Alma a long time ago in terms of 「Martial Arts」.
Since this was a chance for Alma to further her footwork, a slight disturbance in magical power in the air was felt.
Nevertheless, I was aspiring to be the best at all times──so, such a thought as ‘I don’t want to unless it’s a strong opponent’ came to my mind.
F-for the time being, I have to get through this problem.
The method of delaying the problem was a good idea, however, it didn’t work in this situation. Therefore, I must make countermeasures.
「Or does Slava have a dream?
….If that’s the case, I can’t force it──Sorry, I should have listened to your story first.」
Fortunately, Alma, of her own accord, has shown me a way to escape.
The rope that Alma has dropped might be a trap, but for now, I can only use this to get out of the situation.
Think. Think about the best way to get out of this.
「So! Scholar. That is, I want to become a scholar──」
…..Is the answer I managed to squeeze out. However, the thought of「Wrong」came from within me.
Though, I had been reading books, but they were 「Martial Arts」books from another school, and its use was only to know the prices of the skin of monsters that I had been hunting.
I had a feeling that everyone in the classroom had a 「That doesn’t sound right」feeling.
「…..Despite only reading books about 「Martial Arts」only?」
Apparently, my actions had already been seen by Alma──I wonder when I had been observed.
Anyway, now this place is──
「I-I have plans to go to the library during lunch time, see you later!」
Let’s try escaping. Though it might be useless.
I, whose lies had been seen through, tried to escape.
If this was a 「Martial Arts」competition, no matter what, I wouldn’t have shown my back to the opponent. However, it wasn’t, so I happily escaped.
Alma’s voice could be heard behind me. My daughter hadn’t run after me because she had to fulfill her duty as a temporary teacher. Of course, my destination wasn’t the library.
「Waa! I won’t give up on you Slava!」
It was this moment that a battle of my disciple who wanted me to become a disciple, began.