“… come with you?” I ask, confused.
“Yes, I want you to come with me to my country. Surely, you must want to see the glorious Elf kingdom with your own eyes, right?” Ilyrana asks.
“Are you serious!? I mean, of course, I do, but…” I falter.
… but I only have two more days left to live. So, unless we leave right now, I don’t think I will even reach halfway to the Elf country, much less see it in person.
“But?” Ilyrana asks.
“But I don’t understand, why do you want me to come with you? Are you inviting anyone else like this as well?” I ask with a frown.
Princess Ilyrana’s smile widens, but she doesn’t reply immediately. It appears like she’s thinking about something.
“Yes, I am inviting two more humans,” She finally answers.
“That girl, Debbie Sherman, who shares the first position with you in the mock duels and Aria woods, who’s the third-best after you two.”
“So, this invitation is only for the first three rankers, huh?” I ask.
“Well, if you want, we can take some of your family members and friends as well— but yes, this invitation is only for the top three contestants of the mock duels,” she tells me.
“And did Debbie and Aria agree to go with you?”
“You’re the first one I’ve asked,” Ilyrana simply says with a shrug.
Pink, what do you think?
[Hmm… Seems really suspicious to me.]
“So, does the school know about this?” I inquire further.
“Mr. Winde does. Though I would like to request you not to reveal about this to anyone— not yet, at the very least— or things might get a bit difficult for me,” Ilyrana says.
“Anyway, can I get your answer, please?”
“I… I need some time to think about it,” I say, shaking my head.
More like, if I survive the glitch, I might give this a thought.
“Very well, I think the tournament will last for around three to four days, so all-in-all, I have a little more than a week left here. I will expect a reply before that,” she says.
“Well then, this was all the time we had. I should get back to the stadium. Once again, thanks for coming to meet me, Jacob,” Ilyrana says, giving me a single nod before starting to move towards the door. Her bodyguard follows.
“Hey, wait! Can you tell me just one last thing?” I ask, stopping Ilyrana on her track.
“Aren’t you a curious one? Go on.”
“Why invite us to your country at all? I mean, it’s not like you have anything to gain from it,” I say.
“But I do— no, we, the Elves, do. I think you’re forgetting something,” Ilyrana says, raising her right hand and tapping her wrist meaningfully.
“The Core Stone?” I ask.
“Yes, the bracelet which stabilizes these Core Stones are invented by the Elves. Through you and those two girls, we would like to record the performance and result of our invention. Though unfortunately, we cannot do that here in your country. Honestly, it won’t take much time, just an hour or two every day for the duration of your visit,” she answers.
“Wait, didn’t Principal Winde said that the Humans stabilized the Core Stones? Elves just helped a little bit, didn’t they?” I ask with a frown.
At this, Ilyrana gives a small sigh.
“I shouldn’t say this, but well… Did you really believe your principal, Jacob? You never wondered how Humans, one of the most inferior beings when it comes to magic, managed to create such a strong magical device?” she asks.
“Eh… No,” I say with a slightly red face.
Now that Ilyrana is asking this, it really doesn’t make any sense to me.
“Don’t worry, none of your fellow students wondered about this either, most of them were so excited to finally get to use magic that they ignored these small contradictory details in Mr. Winde’s speech,” She tells me.
“But well, that doesn’t mean that the Humans didn’t contribute at all, you know? To tell you the truth, I don’t think there’s anyone in the Elf kingdom who couldn’t use magic— all of us level up. We needed Humans to test this particular device of ours.”
“Hey! But doesn’t that mean that you take us as your—”
“I thought that was your last question, Jacob?” Ilyrana asks mildly.
“I know, but—”
“Sorry, but I really need to leave now. If you accept my invitation, we will get a lot of time to talk again. You can ask as many questions as you want then,” she says, giving yet another smile.
Ilyrana starts walking and the bodyguard rushes forward to open the door open for her. Though before exiting the P.E. storage room, she stops once again and turns around.
“And please, don’t forget that I asked first.”
Before I could ask her what she means by this, Ilyrana and her bodyguard are gone.
“I still cannot believe it,” Kate says, shaking her head.
“Well, I can. You trained really hard,” I say with a smile, patting her back lightly.
The school is over and currently, Kate, Riley, and I are leaving the grounds, making our way to the gates.
“But still, rank six!? That’s just insane! And what’s more, unless something really unexpected happens in tomorrow’s duels, this rank is fixed!” she says happily.
“Congratulations! And Riley, congratulations to you, too. You did very well,” I say.
“Yeah, thanks… Rank eight. It’s not that great, but I will get selected,” she says, her mood down.
Riley never said this out loud, but I know that her main goal was to surpass Kate in the rankings. She probably doesn’t even care about being selected. The exact same thing can be said about Kate as well— she considers Riley as her rival.
“Anyway, remember what I told you guys earlier about my match with Alex? I way thinking, maybe, I can walk you two to your houses? Just to be safe, you know?” I ask.
“Jacob, don’t worry about that guy said. You gave him such an embarrassing defeat, I would’ve been surprised if he hadn’t said anything,” Kate says.
“I know, but still, there’s nothing wrong with me walking you to your house, right?” I ask, raising my eyebrows.
“Of course, not. But you see, my father was insisting on picking me up from school. He’s probably waiting outside right now,” Kate says, sounding genuinely regretful.
“No worries. It’s better that your father is here,” I say with a nod.
“And what about you, Riley?”
“Riley’s coming with me as well!” Kate says before Riley could answer.
“She is? I mean, you are, Riley? Why?” I ask.
“Oh, about that—”
“Riley’s house is on the way! My father will drop her!” Kate says hastily, getting a little fidgety all of a sudden.
“Really? That’s convenient…” I say with a frown.
“It is, isn’t it?” Kate says with a nervous chuckle.
“A-Anyway, I think we should get going or my father will get worried. Bye, Jacob!”
She quickly grabs Riley’s hand and dashes away along with her.
“Bye!” Riley shouts, too late to realize that she’s being dragged away.
“What was that about?” I mutter in confusion.
Relatively slower than them, I start moving towards the school gates as well, but suddenly, something catches my eyes. Maya and her friends are walking ahead of me.
“Hey, Maya! Wait!” I jog forward, calling out to Maya.
Probably recognizing my voice, she stops on her track.
“You guys go ahead, I will catch up in a minute,” she tells her friends before turning around.
“What is it, Jacob?” she asks in a cold voice (which sounds quite normal to me these days).
“Can you come home early today?” I ask.
“You gave me a month to prove my innocence, right? I want you to meet someone who can help me with that,” I tell her.
“Is it that woman who comes to our house every day and leaves before I arrive?” Maya asks.
Shit! She saw Rebecca!
“Y-Yes, she’s the one,” I answer honestly.
For a moment, Maya observes me with her deep brown eyes.
“Very well, I will meet her. Now, excuse me,” Maya says, turning around.
Suddenly, I get hit by a really weird feeling, prompting me to speak again.
“Hey, Maya! Listen, can we walk home together?” I ask.
“I’m going to hang out with my friends, Jacob. Don’t worry, I will come home early.”
Saying this, Maya walks away.
“Damn it…” I mutter.
I know I should be happy that Maya agreed to meet Rebecca, but for some reason, there’s this heavy feeling in my heart instead. I got this same feeling earlier today as well, right after my duel with Alex.
Like something really bad is about to happen…