Changed one of the lines to the "your back..." as suggested in one of the comments.
Volume 3 Chapter 16
While Ryouma was leisurely riding the carriage, a class was being held at the Imperial Capital’s Academy.
“Let’s begin the class. First–” [Teacher]
The teacher uninterestedly read the textbook out loud, and began a dull class with no appeal. The students listened to that quietly. Amongst that group of students was a girl. It was Elia.
She straightened her posture, and listened carefully to the instructor. But that was only a front, as deep inside she was actually doing her best to endure the tediousness of the class.
When the morning class ended, she left her seat, and she went to a corner of the school building where magic training is to take place. The magic training area was opened to allow students to use it to train their magic in their own time. And because it’s rarely used for anything else aside from magic training, it’s not a popular spot.
Elia sat herself on a bench at a corner of the area, and she began to eat her lunch. Afterwards, she trained her magic until the end of lunch break. Then she went to her afternoon class, and when that ended, she went back to her room in her dormitory.
It’s already been a month since she’s enrolled in this school. And ever since, this has been her daily pattern.
Elia let out a sigh as she stopped releasing her magic.
“It’s only been a month, and yet I’m already at the end of my patience… Who would’ve thought that the classes here would be this boring?” [Elia]
From the first year until the third year, students of this school must study the foundation and culture of various things. From the fourth year until the sixth, one must study specialized knowledge and skills. After graduating, depending on what path one took in school, he or she will enter into further studies or apprenticeship.
Elia who has just enrolled is currently studying the basics of the basics. The basic history of the country, geometry, arithmetic, magic, and with stamina building in mind, swordsmanship. But those are all things that all nobles, not just Elia, have already studied.
Such classes were simply too easy for Elia. Even if her grades are good as a result, there’s no sense of achievement.
Moreover, there wasn’t even a single person from her class of 40 that attempted to talk to her. Of course, this wasn’t because they were bullying her or ignoring her. Rather it’s because of her title as the daughter of the duke coupled with her frightening magic power that they were unable to talk to her. As much as possible they didn’t want to get involved with her.
Because Elia knew that she was being avoided, she didn’t bother waiting for anyone to come and talk to her. Even excluding the people she naturally can’t get along with, forcefully trying to mingle with others will only cause them to put up a fake act, completely unable to refuse because of fear. And of course, Elia hated that sort of relationship.
As a result, despite having been enrolled for over a month already, Elia’s friend number was zero. Like this, Elialia spent her days in the school enduring the boredom and the loneliness.
“Even though I already knew about it before enrolling… haa…” [Elia]
“What’s wrong, miss?” [Somebody]
Without knowing when someone had neared her, Elia turned around to that voice.
“Oh… You’re Earl Willdan’s…” [Elia]
When Elia turned around, shock visibly showed on the face of the person who had called her. And she quickly introduced herself as she bowed her head.
“Please pardon my rudeness. My name is Michelle, the first daughter of Earl Willdan. I was unable to distinguish the lady as the daughter of Duke Jamil from behind, please excuse my lack of manners.” [Michelle]
She is Michelle Willdan. Although the daughter of an earl, she is an unladylike female student. Her short hair that’s too short to reach her shoulders has been cut without much thought. Her clothes are a mix of a man’s pants and a woman’s shirt. Her belongings look to place greater emphasis on practicality rather than on looks as she carried with her a big, plain, black bag. And her androgynous face made her appear to be a boy merely disguising as a girl.
“Rude? The differences in social classses don’t apply to this place, you know? Besides I’m not particular about it either myself.” [Elia]
This school makes all of its students wear uniforms regardless of whether one is a noble or a commoner under the pretense of having no distinction between social classes. However, they don’t regulate accessories. Because of that the noble students purposely wear gaudy hair pins made out of gold or jeweled rings in order to show off their status.
Elia, however, isn’t wearing any of those gaudy accessories. And although she might be wearing the proper school attire, because of the lack of accessories, Michelle mistook her for a commoner female student.
“Thank you very much.” [Michelle]
As Michelle said that, she laughed. Unlike the others, Elia couldn’t feel any sense of wanting to avoid her from Michelle. Because of that Elia decided to try talking to her.
“Would it be fine to call you Michelle-san?” [Elia]
“Of course, milady.”
“Please call me Elia. I’ve said it before just now too. Social status has no relevance in this place.” [Elia]
Hearing that, Michelle smiled and said,
“… Fufu, then I’ll be calling you Elia. Also, I’d like to keep our speech less formal if you don’t mind, it’s exhausting after all.” [Michelle]
“Very well then. I prefer it that way myself actually.” [Elia]
“I see. By the way, I asked the same thing a while ago, but… is anything the matter?” [Michelle]
“No, there aren’t any problems in particular. It’s just that this school’s classes are rather…” [Elia]
“Ahh… I know exactly what you mean. I’m also only pretending to be taking the classes, and during break times, I avoid talking to people in order not to be caught in some weird clique.” [Michelle]
“Oh, is that how it is? I was under the impression that you were popular?” [Elia]
“Haha, well certainly at first. The girls mistook me for a guy and got quite attached – oh by the way I’m wearing this cause it’s comfortable – anyway as soon as they found out that I’m a girl, they distanced themselves from me. Well it’s not that much of a problem though, after all I’m not really that sociable. Besides it was troublesome, so I was actually gradually avoiding it.” [Michelle]
“I see. Then why are you here today?” [Elia]
“Today’s different. Because today I specifically came here to experiment with this.” [Michelle]
As she said that, she took a piece of paper from her bag. On that paper was a magic formation drawn by pencil. Seeing that, Elia said,
“Magic formation… Michelle-san are you an alchemist?” [Elia]
At those words, Michelle’s eyes opened wide for a moment, but immediately after her face turned into a smile bigger than any of the smiles she’s showed so far.
“Unfortunately, I’m not an alchemist. I’m only studying magic formations.” [Michelle]
“Magic formations, was it?” [Elia]
Magic formation is an extremely minor branch of study in this world. It stems from the phenomenon where magic power is able to pass through to alchemy’s magic formation, causing it to shine bright. The study of magic formation is all about answering the question why the formation is able to do that.
As she said that, Elia looked deeply at the piece of paper with a magic formation drawn on it with pencil.
“So there was that kind of study.” [Elia]
“It’s a study that branches from alchemy, but because of the lack of results, it’s gradually declined. I came here to this school because I heard that there was a teacher who teaches it here… But unfortunately, the teacher has apparently retired last year, so now I have no choice but to study it by myself. Well at least I have plenty of time.” [Michelle]
“So that’s how it is.” [Elia]
“That’s right. By the way, Elia.” [Michelle]
“What is it?” [Elia]
“You seem to be quite familiar with how alchemy uses magic formation, huh? There’re plenty of rumors going around regarding alchemy, saying a magic formation isn’t needed, instead some sort of medicine or sacrifice is a requirement. Moreover, you don’t seem to have any ill will towards alchemy either.” [Michelle]
Hearing that, Elia couldn’t help but think to herself, “Oops.” At that moment, Michelle, sensing something was amiss, quickly revised her words in a panic.
“For the record, I’m not prejudiced against alchemy or anything. In fact, if I had to say what I thought of it, then I’d lean towards being interested in it.” [Michelle]
“It’s because the study of magic formations originated from alchemy, so I have some interest in its roots as well. It’s not really that strange, right? Although I do hate those alchemists who use alchemy as a way to commit fraud, I don’t believe that all alchemists are like that. There are also alchemists in this world who like scholars of the field of magic formation continue in their research without bearing fruit. Or at the very least, I believe this to be the case.” [Michelle]
Hearing that, Elia was a little relieved.
“I see.” [Elia]
“If possible, I’d like you to teach me a bit about alchemy, but…” [Michelle]
But even if she says that, Elia herself doesn’t know any alchemy. Well she knows a little from Ryouma, but it’s not at a level where she could teach it to other people. And more than anything, even if she does claim to have no prejudice, Elia still can’t help but feel hesitant to talk about Ryouma being an alchemist to other people. And Elia definitely won’t tell anyone about the things he makes.
“Unfortunately, I’ve only had the opportunity to meet with an alchemist, and I’m not actually studying it.” [Elia]
Elia refused as if it was a given. In response, Michelle didn’t say anything more, and she meekly backed down. Then she began to prepare for her experiment.
Michelle then laid the paper on the floor, and she opened it. After which she then took out some pink colored grains from her bag, and mixed it with ink.
“Michelle-san, what is that?” [Elia]
“This ink is just an ink. As for the grains, they’re fire and neutral magic jewels that were pulverized and mixed together. Our magic formation differs from the magic formation of alchemists in that magic power can’t pass through to the formation with the formation alone. Without mixing ink and powdered jewels, it’s not possible to pass magic power to it. And in the end, what we accomplish isn’t the same magic formation the alchemist’s use but our own version of the magic formation.” [Michelle]
“Then in that case, is there anything different?” [Elia]
“From what I currently know, the effect of the magic formation changes based on the attributes of the magic jewel powder that the ink was mixed into. While the ratio of the distribution of the magic jewel only adjusts its power.
For example, if the ink is mixed with a fire attribute magic jewel, and from that a magic formation is drawn, then any magic power that passes through it will be fire attribute. As for the strength of the fire, the distribution of the ink will deal with that, and the formation will be responsible for managing the flames.
The formation isn’t just some scribbles either. First, one must draw a circle. Then inside that, a pattern should be drawn, but I don’t understand that part much.” [Michelle]
“What do you mean you don’t understand much?” [Elia]
“The pattern drawn within the circle also affects the effect and efficiency of the formation. But unfortunately, I don’t know what the most efficient pattern is. So I’ve been trying out one formation after another in order to find out what’s efficient. But because of that, I’ve come to need a large number of magic jewels. And as a result, I’m always in need of money. Otherwise, I can’t continue with my research.” [Michelle]
“So that’s how it is… By the way, why are you doing this research again?” [Elia]
“The reason I’m researching? Well that’s because it’s interesting. It’s an unpopular topic without much data or progress on it. Which is really just another way of saying that there’s still plenty left to discover, right? So I want to unveil its secrets and see if I can make use of it.
And besides, even if I look like this, I am still the daughter of an earl. And the Willdan family has been a family of researchers for generations. If someone amongst us wants to research, then the family will without question wish them good luck and provide them the funds.” [Michelle]
When Michelle said that, Elia saw a slight resemblance to Ryouma in Michelle. As Michelle drew the magic formation with her ink, she said,
“I don’t know what effect will come out of this, so back off a little.” [Michelle]
Just as she was told, Elia took her distance. After confirming that Elia had distanced herself from the formation, Michelle allowed her magic power to flow into the formation. And the formation glowed bright red. When Michelle saw that reaction, she quickly distanced herself from it. And after five seconds, a small ball of fire flew out of the formation as the explosive sound like that of firecrackers resounded.
“Oh, oh… to think this kind of reaction… hmm?” [Michelle]
Although Michelle was preoccupied with the reaction of the magic formation, she still noticed that there weren’t just one, but two surprised voices that cried out behind her. At that, she turned, and just like her, Elia did so as well. There, Miyabi, a female fox girl student, was apparently just about to enter the training area. Seeing that, Michelle called out to her.
“Looks like I scared you. My apologies.” [Michelle]
“This is the training area, so it’s only a given that loud sounds would boom out around here. If anything, the one in the way is me, for that please excuse me.” [Miyabi]
“Oh, no, no. Please don’t mind it. Rather than that, you are Miyabi-san, correct?” [Michelle]
“She’s in the same class, right?” [Elia]
“It’s an honor to be remembered not only in face but in name as well by the daughters of the Willdan Household and the Jamil Household.” [Miyabi]
Replied Miyabi in a fashion meant for interacting with nobles.
“There’s no need to talk so politely. Miyabi-san, are you going to practice now?” [Elia]
“No, actually, milady. There is something that I would like to pass on to you.” [Miyabi]
“To me?” [Elia]
“Yes. I’ve been entrusted with a message from someone the lady knows. Which is why I’ve come here today.” [Miyabi]
If Miyabi just outright declared that it was a man who had entrusted her that, and someone managed to hear it, then it might catch fire and become a topic for gossips. So in order to prevent that, Miyabi’s been looking for an opportunity to talk to her privately. And after a month, she saw Elia enter the training area alone as usual.
But unfortunately, this time, Michelle was around, causing her to panic. But of course, she was calm enough to be able to answer when asked.
In order to plot this meeting, Miyabi’s been getting information from other people regarding Elia’s and the personality of the other nobles. From that she found out that Elia and Michelle don’t place much emphasis on the differences between social statuses. A normal response won’t cause any problems. Knowing that lessened the mental burden on her. But other than that, she also had the message from Ryouma as an excuse for calling out to her.
“A message for me?” [Elia]
“Yes. Would the lady happen to know the name, Ryouma?” [Miyabi]
“From Ryouma-san!?” [Elia]
Ryouma thought of creating an impetus for Elia to make friends, but he wasn’t sure whether they would actually become friends or not. After all, whether they get along or not is something that the two of them will have to decide for themselves. That’s why he made his move in order to get Elia and Miyabi to meet, but he didn’t say anything about Miyabi to Elia.
What Ryouma didn’t tell Elia was that they both shared a common acquaintance. He did this thinking that there’s no need to since there are plenty of other topics to talk about. That and another reason was that Ryouma also held some mischievous thoughts, wanting to surprise Elia a bit.
“It would appear that the lady does in fact know him.” [Miyabi]
“Yes, but why would Miyabi-san know Ryouma-san?” [Elia]
“I came to know him through my dad. And he told me to pass on a message to a girl named Elialia in the academy.” [Miyabi]
“So that’s how it is…” [Elia]
At that, Michelle spoke.
“That Ryouma is Elia’s acquaintance?” [Michelle]
“Yes, he’s a bit strange, but he’s my friend.” [Elia]
“Well he’s certainly a bit strange…” [Miyabi]
Hearing Elia’s words, Miyabi absent-mindedly said that. And hearing about how weird Ryouma is, Michelle became curious.
“And, what did Ryouma want you to pass to me?” [Elia]
“’Do your best,’ is all he said. It seems he’s worried about you.” [Miyabi]
Those words were enough for Elia to guess Ryouma’s intentions. After all, she knew very well that there’s no need to ask someone to say only a few words. Moreover, writing it by letter is more than enough.
So the only reason then must be that Ryouma remembered what Elia had told him before parting at the town of Gimuru about how she had no friends. And so he tried to create an opportunity for Elia to make friends.
“Thank you very much. I’ve properly received his message. And since we’ve met like this anyway, it must be some sort of fate. If you don’t mind, would you like to become friends with me?” [Elia]
“Is that alright? Saying something like that to me is…” [Miyabi]
“There are no differences between social statuses here. Besides, it’s lonely having no friends in school.” [Elia]
At those words, Miyabi smiled and she accepted. Michelle also joined in.
“Then in that case sign me up as well. I don’t have many friends either.” [Michelle]
“But of course.” [Elia]
“I got your back!” [Miyabi]
Like this, the three met, and as they shook each other’s hands, lunch break ended. They went back to class, and they passed through the boring afternoon classes.
If you’re wondering why Miyabi doesn’t have her speech pattern, it’s because she tries to turn it off when she can. Remember her first meeting with Ryouma? It’s something like that. Although actually her pattern did come out in her last sentence, but I’m not really sure how to show something that slight in English.
Willdan girl uses boku (male pronoun).