hem like our routine, but I endured it all because I wanted to show them that actions had consequences.

Though I wasn't sure if it would work; after all, they claimed they loved me only when I was present and while I wasn't there they told lies about me.
So I was not sure if they liked me or hated me, but I still stopped any kind of skinship.

Because if it was true that they liked me, they would think twice before spreading any more rumors about me.
They might even fear I would cut all ties with them if they made one more mistake.

And If they didn’t like me, well… there was nothing wrong with that either.
I didn't want to hug or kiss someone who hated me after all.

So I didn't think the path I was taking was wrong.

I had also somewhat achieved one of three goals I had set for myself; Now I was known as the strongest knight in the academy, and now I just had to replace the word 'academy' with 'world'.
I knew I was making it sound like it was simpler than it was but I had to do it anyway one way or another.

I headed to the training ground to take a class while having such thoughts.
Several of my classmates were warming up and getting ready.

I could definitely feel the impact of the competition.
A few of them were beaten down by me, but friendship grew in the midst of it, and bad stories about me faded away.

And among them, there was one person who caught my eye; I saw Judy, who hadn’t been to class recently.


I was surprised and called her name.
She glanced at me and waved her hand slightly.

As I got closer, I noticed she looked different; a paler face, dark circles under now dimmed eyes, and with a blank stare Judy sat alone.

“Why haven’t you been here lately?” Ignoring the obvious changes I asked her.

“…I was hurt.”

I indeed knocked her off the horse… but what she said was clearly a lie.
There were no visible bruises on her body and even at the time of facing her I was sure she wasn't hurt.

“Where were you hurt?”

I looked at her body and asked.
She looked into the distance without answering.


“…Judy, we were supposed to talk to each other if something happened.”


“Last time, I talked to you about my younger sisters.
You too should talk to me this time.
Or is it really because of me?”

“……It’s not like that.”

I raised my head and folded my arms.

Was it because I took care of the twins for a long time? I was sure there was something that Judy was hiding.

“…Stay after class.
Let’s talk about what's bothering you.” I declared and soon after the class began.

✧ ✧ ✧

Throughout the class, Judy didn’t seem to be paying attention.
As I said, it didn’t look like an external injury, instead, she seemed to be hurt on an emotional level; I could tell that because I was also as numb as her when I heard about what twins spoke behind my back.

Since it was a class using a wooden sword, even a single mistake was rewarded with bruises.
Judy was now covered with bruises all over her arms and legs.

I approached Judy, who was sitting on the floor rubbing her sore body, and sat down next to her.

It was a large place, but only the two of us were sitting because other students had already left.
It looked as if we were talking about a secret.

“So why?”


“Even though you’ve been hit so many times today, aren’t you feeling well?”

When I exercised, my head felt refreshed.
The reason for waiting for the class to be over was, of course, because I wanted to postpone the conversation so that we both could attend the class, but it was also the reason that I wanted to talk about it with a light heart after sweating like this.

“…It is related to the Ice family, right?”

Hugging her legs, Judy put her head on her knees and reacted for the first time.

“Well… I haven’t seen you since the tournament, so whatever happened must have happened in the tournament?”


Since she didn’t speak, I started reasoning one by one.
Since she didn’t deny my claims, it seemed I hadn’t said anything wrong so far.

“Then it seems that people from the family came to the tournament.
You wanted to look good.

“…It’s not like that.”

“Obviously… didn’t you have an older brother? in the political science department…
The eldest son of the Ice family.”

“…I don’t know.
I told you we didn’t get along.”



Judy shook her head and sighed.
In that state, she was unable to speak.
I felt like she was trying to hold back her emotions.

“…I got a letter saying that he wanted me to win.”

“…From whom?”



The story was enough.
I soon understand why she was behaving this way.

Judy was an illegitimate child but In the end, she belonged to the Ice family.
No matter how unfriendly her family was with her and even if she was ignored for being an illegitimate child, Judy would still want their approval and love.

I didn't think she was stupid.
After all, I also was unable to give up on twins either.
The Pryster family had become an inseparable part of me as well.
So I could understand Judy.


I said quietly.
She was like this because I won.

I felt embarrassed.
Because in the end, I wanted to win the championship for the twins, and after winning, we just fought with each other.

“…Sob… hewww… Sob…

Suddenly I heard a sobbing sound next to me.
Judy still had her head buried in her lap and was crying.

“What? Are you crying?”

I quickly turned around and headed in front of her.
I bowed my head to see her face, but she was hiding her face safely.

“Judy…don’t cry… This isn’t the last contest… There will be many opportunities to prove yourself, but if you lose hope and despair like this, you would never be able to win.
And Judy, second place is great too!”

“Hmm… sob… sob…”

“Are you okay? Uh? Next time…
Next time we will win..! Okay?”

“How can I win with you..! Ugh…”

Judy suddenly bursts into tears.
I was confused and couldn’t figure it out.
It was the first time I saw a woman crying this way other than twins.

“Practice..! Just practice more.
And I’ll help too.
Oh, and…! It’s not like we’re hostile..! There might be a grouping contest… Then I’ll definitely help, okay?”


“Then stop crying, okay?”

She continued to bury her face in her lap no matter what I said.

I quickly shook my head.

What would I have done if Keirsey or Asena behaved like this?

I imagined Keirsey crying right now.
She didn't listen to anything I said and didn't stop crying.


I put my hand on Judy’s head and gently stroked it.
Judy’s body was startled, and she raised her head slightly and looked at me.
It seemed this was the correct answer.

“It’s okay.
You can do better next time.”

Judy’s eyes just stared at me.

Suddenly, I felt like a large shadow was engulfing me from behind.

I looked back and saw a silver-haired beauty approaching us from afar.

It was Keirsey.
Her eyes which were fixed on my hands exuded a strange sense of pressure.

As she got closer, she opened her mouth.


“Keirsey, when did you come?”

She ignored me.

“…Why are you petting her?”

“…Yes? Ah… I was trying to comfort her…”

“But when I cried a few days ago… You didn’t even hug me.”


Keirsey kept approaching us.

I got up slowly.
She was getting too close.

Suddenly, she raised her arms.
It was as if she was trying to hug me.

I raised one hand and stopped her.
Then, Keirsey’s face became even colder.

…I felt this must be Keirsey's face that the characters in the novel saw whenever she trampled on them mercilessly.

Her eyes stared at Judy once, and then they glued to my face again.

Keirsey bit her lips slightly, then squeezing the hem of her academy uniform, she whispered in a barely audible voice.

“…Is that woman more precious than me?”

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