Amidst the rain which began to fall heavily, I forced my sluggish body to chase after Ibuki. The sky, covered with rain clouds, blocked the sun, and visibility was poor. Even though I couldn’t see Ibuki, fortunately there were footprints on the muddy ground. I’m sure that if I follow them, they will lead me to her.
She walked around a 100 meters from the base camp, going sometimes left and sometimes right, along the way. Then, unexpectedly, her figure stood still, as if she stopped and waited for someone to come and meet her. Inadvertently, I went into hiding, even though this action had no meaning.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Without even turning to look back, I heard Ibuki’s calm voice through the sound of the falling rain.
“I am aware that you have been following me. Why don’t you come out already?”
“Since when did you notice it?”
“Right from the start.”
Her short answer, gave me an ominous feeling that I had not felt from her before. Her quiet and reticent impression didn’t seem to change. But, something was different.
“So, what is the reason, you’ve been following, me?”
“I wonder if you do not know, unless I tell you directly.”
“I don’t know.”
Now she made me look like I was the villain.
“You clearly understand very well why you are being followed, right?”
“I really have no idea. Why? What’s the reason?”
Turning back to face me, Ibuki was looking at me straight in the eyes. There was no dejection in her eyes. I almost had the urge to apologize to her. I had no definite proof either. I was just acting based on my own intuition.
“Don’t you think that there is no use in lying, anymore?”
I felt my own hesitation for a moment, but I pressed on for an answer.
“At least I want to hear from your own mouth, the reason why have you been following me.”
“From the case of a piece of underwear being stolen, to the tumult of the fire. D Class has had a series of misfortunes.”
“Do you realise that some people suspected you?”
“Ah!. Since I am an outsider. It cannot be helped being suspected.”
“In other words, that’s what I mean.”
“That I am the culprit. So where are the evidence?”
“Unfortunately, there is no evidence at all about the underwear theft. Even so, I think it was you.”
“This is quite a terrible story. You suspect me, even though there is no proof.”
Well, she was so good at it. I could only praise her.
She didn’t make her move until the 5th day and she did not try to approach anyone from D class, at all. This stance, conversely, allowed her to spend time with us, without being suspected.
“The reason I suspect you is because of today’s actions. You do not need a further explanation, do you?”
Somehow, I wanted to take a testimony out of Ibuki. Trying to make me explain all the reasons why I suspect her. It’s like to admit that I am the leader. Even if I am 99 percent certain that she is guilty, if there’s a possibility of one percent that she is innocent, then, I should avoid pursuing things straight.
“Let’s get straight to the point. Give back what you’ve stolen from me.”
I said that to Ibuki who was standing in front of me, but without looking in her eyes.
Giving a short answer, she began to walk at a quick pace. I also kept chasing her, following her speed.
Ibuki changed her course heading straight into the forest.
“Where are you going?”
“Let’s see, where am I going to?”
It was difficult to walk straight into the woods. I realised this in the past several days. Even more so in this weather, which doesn’t give us much visibility. However, Ibuki didn’t seem to care and stepped further into the woods. I also couldn’t pull back, here. I have been following her, in order to find out the truth. Now that I have made a mistake, I must take the responsibility of solving the problem.
I must make up for my mistake. I must make up for my mistake.
The same words repeated over and over again in my head.
The trial had just begun. I couldn’t fail here… Besides, it is my mistake for being so aggressive towards Karuizawa.
My heart beat became intense. Little by little. I held my breath and cut down the distance to Ibuki. It depended on the situation, but it might be necessary to consider recovering the key card by force.
It’s alright. If it’s me, I can do it.
I can do it, I can do it, I can do it…
I understand fully well, that I am not calm. But still, I have to do something about it now. I have been doing well on my own so far, and I will continue to do well by myself. There is no one else to turn to.
Being in the forest was somewhat better than being in the open, on the road where the rain and the wind were fierce. But the visibility was even worse, and the footing was much worse than I expected. And as I went right and left along the path, I naturally lost my sense of direction.
But my biggest problem was my physical condition. I have noticed from a little while ago that as time passed, it deteriorated. Up until now, I had signs of a little fever, but maybe because of this rain, my body temperature dropped. My limit line had collapsed and a cold was coming to attack me all of a sudden.
When Ibuki suddenly stopped, she unexpectedly looked up at the tree. A piece of handkerchief wet with rain was tied in front of her.
“Until when will you chase me? Would you stop it?”
“Until you return what you’ve stolen from me.“
“Would you calm down and think for a bit? If I had stolen the keycard, it’s not like I would have had such a dangerous thing forever. Someone seeing that means immediate disqualification. I won’t end up just losing points.”
I didn’t refer to a keycard even once while telling her to return the stolen item. In other words, it looks like Ibuki confessed in that moment. She showed me her white teeth while faintly smiling as I was trying to pursue that point.
“You thought I had confessed? Sorry, but that’s wrong.”
“If that’s so, then what’s the deal…”
“I’m fed up talking with you.”
Ibuki crouched down starting to dig the ground using both hands.
Being strucked by intense dizziness and nausea, I leaned on a large tree beside me without thinking.
“You look very sick.”
Ibuki turned her head once noticing my condition. However, she continued with her operation.
“Ohh… Ohh… Hah…”
Until now I managed to breath normally to the utmost, but I couldn’t endure anymore. My jersey soaked with downpouring rain suddenly snatched my body temperature away. I fought against the feeling of wanting to lay down the best I could, but I couldn’t properly lift my head. …When I thought about my resilience, it only really started there.
“Ibuki-san. I’ll start investigating you using sheer strength. You won’t mind?”
Muttering, Ibuki stopped digging up the earth, stood up and approached.
“——- Sheer strength? Would you be more specific? To wield violence?”
“… This is the last warning. Return it obediently.”
I confronted Ibuki with a sharp tone. I wanted to avoid using force, but there was no other way. I can’t show this side of self to anyone…
There was a problem with Sudou that had occurred before. He was hitting C class students and the case turned out in a trial involving the school. That time, I condemned Sudou who had to deal with a lot of unexpected difficulties. I deserted it then as a well-deserved punishment. To think that I was about to try to solve things with violence like this is seriously hilarious.
“The last warning, huh… I get it, I get it. So what if I do as you please?”
She dropped the bag onto the ground, lightly raised her hands and took a pose of surrender. She got here very obediently. I couldn’t watch her resignation, but I couldn’t let go of this opportunity.
I stretched out my hands, checking the bag first.
The next moment, Ibuki’s small leg aimed for my face. The smallest precaution saved me. I bounced backwards, avoiding the kick. The thief jumped and took a defensive posture clinging to both hands.
“You’ll really do it.”
“Violent act means immediate disqualification…”
“Are you saying someone might see us in this place? You’re willing to do it as well.”
While I was contemplating whether she smiled suggestively, she grabbed my shoulders and pushed me down in the next moment. Without even managing to react defensively to the unexpected events, I collapsed into the muddy ground.
“Would you like a few moments to rest?”
Her face looking down on me from above seemed blurred to me, who was riddled with wounds. Ibuki made a fist tightly as she grasped my collar and pulled up the upper part of my body. If I received this directly, it would tear my consciousness to pieces. I dusted it off, rolled on the ground, and escaped. I got up from the muddy ground with my hands, desperately trying to raise the upper part of my body. For the first time, I was glad I did martial arts.
“Huh? You can sure move. You practiced something?”
Without losing her head, Ibuki looked at me in evaluation as if impressed. Detecting instantly that I had knowledge of martial arts, she realized I wasn’t an average person. How should I respond without telling her that my condition is at its worst?
“Indeed… I’m nothing but failure in this trial.”
I have not contributed a thing to D class. In fact, in spite of my poor physical condition, I butted in trying to pull D class’ legs that were working so hard. I wish I could have reported from the start.
Since I felt unwell, I could have requested another person to be the leader. Or I could have just refused. But my pride interfered which was unforgivable.
I made a fool out of many, and hated the fact that I, who had cursed at those incompetent, wasn’t of any use. Ha ha… I let a dry laugh in my mind. Was it until now that I made excuses for myself like this?
“It was you, right…? Who stole the keycard.”
Ibuki, who I was trying to chase, stopped. We shortened the distance shortly after. She pretended to do an attack with her right arm, only to do a high, fast kick with her leg. I escaped her attack and stretched my arm trying to distract her counterattack. Ibuki avoided my arm being instantly aware of the danger. She then switched over the next attack, forcing me to do a bewildering defense.
While having bad foothold, I kept the center of the gravity low, without worrying about giving the impression that I had the skills. Besides, in her, I didn’t see any hesitation in hurting others.
Ibuki laughed showing her white teeth, like she was enjoying this situation. I never thought I would see her with such a big smile. Because of all the moving around, I was attacked by an intense cold and nausea. It was only a matter of time to stand still until the end.
“You did your best until here so I’ll give you a reward and tell you the truth. I’m the one who stole the keycard.”
Ibuki put her hands in her pocket and slowly she took out the card. On the surface facing my way, my name was engraved firmly.
“You admitted it pretty quickly after all that.”
“It has come to a point where it doesn’t matter whether I admit it or not. There’s no striking evidence that I hurt you. It’s not like the school can make a right judgement. Isn’t that right?
Ibuki’s reading was right. There was no factor that could make the school perceive this situation as it really was.
Ibuki reached the same conclusion. Even if I got damage unilaterally here, Ibuki could find any excuse as much as she liked. Even if I complained, the two guilty parties of the crimes won’t get punished. It was D class that had many points to lose.
But, if I managed to get back the keycard, we could possibly be saved. By seizing reliable evidence, there was no choice but to force C class to admit to their faults.
Fingertips remained on the keycard.
There was a chance that we could claim its legitimacy if stolen. If it functioned to make the truth come to light, the school may thoroughly investigate as well. I couldn’t abandon that hope. But I couldn’t get back the keycard unless I gained total control of Ibuki’s next actions. I couldn’t believe she was stupid enough to show this kind of bold behavior.
If she took it away, the card won’t ever be discovered or found anywhere else.
If that happened, it’d only become a dispute involving me not stealing what had already been stolen.
From there, I had no more energy to break into a run and draw near to her. To make matters worse, I had no strength in my fist either. But all I had to do was to make use of whatever force I had left.
I wonder if Ibuki had some reasons why she was rushing things, or she was just underestimating me. I advanced through the ground and commenced the attack. Like a hunter who enjoyed a one-sided hunt. She glanced at me for a moment, taking advantage of my weak situation.
She was all fake.
While I focused my attention on the lower half of the body, she turned without wavering and swung her right fist with the smallest movement. She barely grazed my hair and avoided any physical contact or attack at any short distance, then she applied a little force to the back of my body and made use of her momentum. Even if I was incompetent then, I’d still try everything until I defeated her.
I tried to take her arms and she lost her balance but again, she grasped the situation in a moment and slipped through my arm. I was trying to see things through by using my strength and speed but I was also avoiding any physical contact. I mustered my remaining strength and I drove into the pit of her stomach with my left fist.
Ibuki, who couldn’t breathe anymore, kneeled on the spot like she was suffering. But at the same time my strength also reached the limit and my field of vision was distorted. There was no way I was going to chase her if she escaped, so I kept her under control.
“That’s the worst…Already reached my limit.”
Because I moved my body intensely and overdid things, my condition, which was already bad enough before, became hopeless. But I couldn’t let myself collapse. My blow was superficial and it wouldn’t defeat her.
“I don’t know…I was sure you were involved in it.”
Ibuki stood up wiping her muddy face.
“Involved? In what……..?”
Ibuki showed a moment of hesitation but eventually, standing alone, she revealed.
“I didn’t burn the manual.”
“Do you have the intention of just repeating a lie again?”
“What would my profit be in doing such a thing like the arson? It’s inevitable that people would want to search for the criminal again with the uproar of the fire. And I also would strongly suspect myself. But there’s only great damage and not even one advantage in this.”
Certainly I agreed with what she was saying. She was stealing the keycard before the fire broke out. There was no time for her to bother burning the manual and fan the flames.
Then, who? Did it even make sense to burn the manual?
“The reason I talked to you in such a roundabout way was to confirm that. You seem to be much different. But in that case, it’s better to say that it was hard to understand. Do you think he’s in the D class? I’d say a guy who seemed to be aware of my crime even before you.”
Ibuki sighed as if she couldn’t understand.
Immediately, after the appearance of said person in my mind, I noticed that Ibuki was gone. The next moment, a blow shocked me and hit me hard when she attacked my head with a blunt weapon. I fell, hard.
“Our conversation is over.”
I unconsciously started to feel that I had to get up, but the hand which had lightly been bruised by Ibuki’s right foot made me fall again. Then, Ibuki gripped my bangs firmly and pulled me up.
“Ah, let me go…..”
“Sorry. I’ve got a busy schedule ahead of me.”
Suddenly, she aimed at my face and slapped me with her right hand. My thoughts and my body were at their limit and it was impossible for me not to suffer damage. I shook off the hand that was gripping my bangs. Then, I tried to get upright and draw distance with clumsy movements.
But my legs tangled and crumbled again to the ground like they used all their strength.
“Did you think that such a coercive method will be excused?”
“Come on now. I don’t feel like answering.”
When I narrowed the distance, she raised her feet high and kicked me in the face knocking me out.
How many times I repeated this to myself.
I…..made a great mistake.
In an attempt to repair that mistake by myself, I transformed it into an irreparable situation.
Disclaimer: We do not own any content of the original light novel ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ (Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e) by Shōgo Kinugasa. As of now, our team is currently working on volume 3. We hope you can look forward to upcoming updates and respect translators’ and editors’ work. Leave your comments down below and for further requests and inquiries, contact us here.