Chapter 321 Part 1

Under the high blue sky with clouds, a pleasant breeze that makes you want to squint blows through the streets of the royal capital.
Summer is already over, and autumn has arrived in its place. It is the arrival of a pleasant season.

「Just stay down!」

「Something like this–!」

But not here, at the pilot school. The main auditorium is filled with excitement, and the students’ voices in the simulation cockpit are flying about.
The students are controlling a one-meter-tall, humanoid golem. These mini versions of Knights were engaged in fierce battles in four magic circles drawn on the floor, each about 10 meters in diameter.

『Regular Practical Exam』

The biggest event of the year was just around the corner.
Many of the students aim to become a member of the knight order. In order to do so, they had to finish in the top four in the examinations.
However, only students who managed to get into the advanced class were allowed to take the exam. The students were making desperate appeals to their instructors to get into the 32-student limit.

(I hope I won’t fall into the intermediate class.)

Sighing in front of the mirror in the washroom is a young woman with a well-developed face but no flashy features. Tauro calls her Plain-chan.
She wears a pilot’s uniform of a shirt and tight skirt and gives the impression of a timid and gentle girl. No one would’ve thought of her as 『Cassabell’s poster Queen』.

(Even if I managed to participate in the exam, I would just lose right away.)

The final grading before the regular practical exam was finally announced just a few moments ago.
Although she qualified for the competition by staying in the advanced class, she is not confident at all.

(It was so fun when we were just in the beginner class.)

Standing, walking, running, and holding things. The basic movements were surprisingly easy to do, even for her.

(Fufufu, maybe I do have a talent for this.)

With that in her mind, she moved up to the intermediate class with great enthusiasm, but as soon as they began to have mock battles using the Knights, her performance slumped.
Since then, she has been bouncing back and forth between advanced and intermediate classes until today.

(I wonder why I thought I wanted to ride a Knight back then.)

She can’t help but let out a weak comment like that. 『That time』 refers to the time when a member of the Kingdom knight order came to recruit Plain-chan.

『You definitely have the talent for it. So if you will, please come to the pilot school.』

It is an attractive offer that tickles one’s pride. However, working in a brothel and going to school would have cut into her family time.
As she is not naturally good at competing with others, it was not unlikely that she would have refused the offer.

(But I accepted the offer.)

Because she’s aware of the reason, a thin vertical crease forms at the base of Plain-chan’s eyebrows.

(He offered it when I’m in the middle of working after all.)

She thought she had to show manners. Since the men from the knight order came to the store she works at as a customer.
And because she heard the story while in high tension as the Queen, she declared her answer immediately with great vigor.

(If we’re speaking of a person with talent, then those people are more fitting. I could never be like them.)

She thought of the undefeated Jayanne duo.
These two immensely beautiful women were brilliant in piloting golems and were sure to dominate the top ranks in the regular practical exam.


Comparing herself to those two, her shoulders slumped.
Although she can’t tell by herself, she is not inferior to the Light Cruiser-sensei and Cool-san in terms of both magic power capacity and magic power manipulation.

『Fighting Spirit』

This is the only factor that differentiates her from them.

(Do your best, me. This is a choice I’ve made myself.)

It doesn’t matter whether it was her when she was in Queen mode or when she was herself, it is a fact that it was her that made the promise.
Plain-chan lightly slaps both her cheeks to regain her spirits, and heads for the exit of the washroom to return to the main auditorium.
But on the way, she stops dead in her tracks. She hears students in the hallway talking about her.

「You’re so lucky. There’s no one but weaklings. Especially that gloomy girl, there’s no need to even count her.」

The one who spoke was a young boy who always had a smirk on his face.
In the regular practical exam, which is held for two days, the first day is a four-man team competition. The top two winners will advance to the tournament on the following day.
The Smirking Boy’s words were probably referring to the results of the draw for the preliminary round, which followed the division of the classes.

「I know right? The other two guys aren’t much trouble either, so I’ll just take it easy and get ready for day two.」

The one who replied is a brown-haired female student with narrow eyes. Plain-chan knows that she is in the same group and that she is known as the 『Gloomy girl』.
But she’s not angry. Because she thinks they’re right.

「The real competition is the tournament. This is the year I’m going to win and become a member of the knight order.」

The Smirk Boy’s expression turned serious as he continued his words.

「When that happens, my standing will be superior to his. Just watch. That bastard pilot of a private Knight, I’ll order him around and make him kneel.」

The one who popped up in his mind was his former classmate.

『Avoiding close combat and using long-range offensive magic to earn points and win by decision』

The guy’s fighting style was such shameless cowardice that he was not allowed to participate in training even though he won.

『Serves you right』

That was what he thought at the time, feeling satisfied with the news.
But before he knew it, the guy had become the commander of the merchant guild Knight, and he showed up at the temporary practical exam wearing his pilot uniform.

「That bastard…. Dares to disrespect us and act high and mighty.」

The hot-headed, Smirk Boy remembered the gaze directed at him from the honored guests’ seats set up in a higher place.
The harassment that he decided he would definitely do when he became a member of the knight order. The brown-haired, narrow-eyed female student is taken aback by the sight of him beginning to mutter its contents.

「Aren’t you being a bit hasty? We can say for certain that two slots are already filled with those two women.」

Those words must have brought him back to his senses as the Smirk Boy’s expression turned grim.

「How annoying. They’ve made it to the top of one of the three most prestigious brothels. They should’ve just been satisfied with that. Why do they have to put their hands on piloting Knights too for goodness’ sake?」

Light Cruiser-sensei and Cool-san. He didn’t think he could beat these girls, as expected.

(Let’s go out into the hallway after both of them are gone.)

Plain-chan thought, but the words uttered by the brown-haired female student with narrow eyes sent a chill through her heart.

「But for real though, that gloomy girl. She’s the daughter of a family that runs a food stall downtown, right? Wouldn’t she have made more money by delivering those cheap foods than she did by coming here? She doesn’t have much of a chance anyway.」

Plain-chan who works in a brothel while also helping out at home. Perhaps someone has spotted her.
She is not known as the Queen of Cassabell because of her butterfly mask and her different atmosphere. And above all, it is because the only person who can come to the three houses is the instructor.

「I know right? I also think so.」

The Smirk Boy agreed with her, but they were wrong.
If you are good enough to advance to the advanced class at the pilot school, you will be regarded as the best golem user among others.
What they don’t realize is that they are living in the small world called the pilot school and don’t have a broader perspective.

「Maybe her stupid doting parents made her attend this school. Seriously, why don’t they just make her do dishes or something, instead of making her have weird dreams?」

As they laugh and whisper, their presence goes away into the distance.
Plain-chan appearance has no sparkle to attract the attention of people. Even if she told them that she worked for one of the big three brothels, they would not immediately believe me.
But she has been sitting on Cassabell’s platform since before she became Queen.

『People who realize how good she is will fall deeply and get hooked with her.』

She is that type of woman. The one who should be commended would be the concierge at Cassabell who did not overlook her value.

「…They can talk about me as much as they want, but talking about my family is going too far. How can they speak ill of them when you know nothing about them?」

Plain-chan slumped down and let her words slip out. When she looked up again, her eyes reflected in the mirror were filled with dark fire.

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