Chapter 327 Part 1

The pilot schoolyard, with its short-cropped lawn. There are many tables and chairs lined up, filled with people enjoying the lunch boxes they have brought them.
But not everyone is in the yard. Those of higher status were taken to the school’s cafeteria, where they were served by the chef.

「Compared to last year, there are many promising students this year. The difference is, of course, your return as the instructor.」

After finishing the same meal as everyone else, the knight commander with a Kaiser mustache said while enjoying the aroma of coffee.

「No no, I didn’t do much really. I give advice once in a while, but the others just see it as unnecessary meddling.」

The old instructor replied nervously while waving his palms in front of his chest. It is only natural that both of them are here because of their positions.
The old man and the middle-aged man were talking to each other while smiling happily, saying things like, 『No no, your advice is very valuable』 and 『You sure are good flattering people』.
Then one of the school officials walked up to the old man and bent down to talk to him.

「Sir knight commander. I’m afraid that something rather unfortunate has happened.」

After making his subordinate back away, the old instructor opens his mouth with a troubled look on his face. The content of the message is, 『There’s someone who is inviting the semi-finalist to lunch and seems to try to recruit them』.

「It’s the knight commander of the merchant guild Knights. They must be looking for a pilot for their new C-class Knight.」

The Kaiser mustache who heard this bends one eyebrow.

『Something like private Knights is just a place for dropouts.』

Such perception is already a history of the past. In particular, the merchant guild Knights had a good reputation among the people for having made it possible to pass through the highway without an escort.
It was impossible to say that there would not be pilots who would fall in love with them.

「I will tell them to only call out the top four students after they have completed their training with the knight order.」

Kaiser mustache nodded at the old instructor’s suggestion.
He turned his eyes to a corner of the cafeteria, probably because the guild master of the adventurer guild was there. Like the merchant guild, this guild, too, had decided to receive a C-class Knight.

「Well then, please excuse me.」

The old instructor finished the remaining coffee in his cup and left his seat to go to the yard.
Watching his back, the knight commander’s thoughts turned to the four victors.

(Three of the newcomers are rare gems that haven’t shown up in recent years. The remaining one is also incomparable to the one who participated in training last year.)

He also finishes his coffee and exhales lightly.

「It’s not hard to understand why they were itching for it. They probably want to taste it firsthand.」

He said it out loud and the people around him twitched in response.
It was an ordinary remark, but those who knew about the rumors surrounding him did not take it that way.

『The warm, soft object that fell on the ground, he reached out with his index finger and scooped it up. He brings it close to his face, smells it, sticks out his tongue, and licks it up with a smile.』

He was imagining such a vivid image in his mind.

「He’s insane.」

It was a young man from the seat beside him who said it. He was one of a pair of friends.
Judging from their appearance, both are probably the children of high-ranking nobles.

『Fermentation and Decomposition』

The same phenomenon is divided according to a person’s values, but in Gourmet of Gold’s eyes, they are as different as heaven and earth, or clouds and mud.
For him, the word is an insult. But he pretended to not hear it, put his hand on his chin, and closed his eyes.

(My tastes are not yet accepted by the people.)

Because he was aware of this, he had decided to let the ridicule of his peculiar hobby, slide once.
However, the long middle-parted hair snickered and continued.

「I can’t believe he didn’t hear that. It seems not only his nose and tongue are rotten, but his ears as well.」

With his black expression, Kaiser Mustache opened his eyes quietly and looked at the owner of the voice. The young man in the middle had already stood up, his fists in front of his chest and a belligerent smile on his face.
The middle-aged man understands that pose.

(A duel huh?)

However, although it is called a 『Duel』 they’re not using swords. It’s just a 『Fistfight in public』.
This is an etiquette established by the king several generations ago, and its purpose is to prevent the loss of life and body parts.

『Bloodthirsty and overconfident.』

Perhaps because of their upbringing, many of the children of nobles are like this.
They need a place where they can show off their superiority and inferiority by beating each other up in front of everyone. If they don’t vent, they might do something foolish, such as cutting down an important person from behind with a sword, which would destroy both the assaulter and their family.

(Never underestimate the energy of young people and their lack of thoughtfulness.)

With a live example in front of him, the Knight Commander sighed lightly and stood up.

(Let’s see, I guess I’ll teach him a lesson.)

The young nobleman with long hair parted in the middle, on the other hand, smiled widely when he saw that his opponent had accepted the duel. Judging from his posture, he must have studied martial arts to a certain extent.
His friend, a short-haired young man still seated at the table, had his elbows on the table and was holding his head in his hands.

(Acting haughty like that and all.)

The two couldn’t accept the Gourmet of Gold being a 『national figure』.
But the short-haired young man could see a little more of things than the long-haired one.

(Even if he’s the strongest among his classmates, there is no way he can beat him.)

They can make fun of him all they want, but the fact that he’s a pilot who has been through many actual battles and deaths still remains.
To challenge such a person to a duel would have been like asking to be beaten.

「Come at me, you freak!」

The young man with long hair parted in the middle moved one of his hands as if to provoke him.

「Hmf!」

Without minding the provocation, he delivered a low-level thrust at the longhaired young man’s side without allowing him to block or dodge it.
The right fist, with the middle finger raised, was twisted into the side of the young man’s head.

(…..Is that the 『Infinite Alchemy』!?)

The short-haired young aristocrat paled at the sight of the Gourmet of Gold’s special move.
If the rumors are true, his friend now would be the 『Goose that laying a golden egg』.

「Shut yourself in the toilet until the sun goes down while reflecting on your attitude.」

The Kaiser mustache leaves the cafeteria with words that confirm the short-haired young man’s guess.
The short-haired young man murmured to himself as he followed Kaiser mustache’s back with his eyes.

(I admit that you’re strong. But look around. No one here accepts you.)

He is a man who has worked his way up from a low-class pilot to becoming a Knight Commander. His abilities are undoubtedly genuine.
However, his tastes are ruining everything.

(If only he wasn’t the Gourmet of Gold, everyone would have respected him.)

The short-haired young man came from a high-ranking noble family, but he also disliked authoritarian old men. If only Kaiser Mustache didn’t have any peculiar hobby, he might have been supporting him.
His long-haired friend aside, the short-haired young man only thought of it as a 『shame』.

(Are you really alright being alone, Gourmet of Gold? I wonder if you’re happy with that.)

In his mind, he imagined Kaiser Mustache in front of a heaping pile of gold, drinking himself to death.
A heart that hasn’t broken or changed even after decades of being ignored and ridiculed. The appearance of that retreating figure that stood firm is proof of that.

(I see. So your heart is made of gold too is it?)

It is a substance that never rusts, and its existence is rare because of the small amount produced. The knight commander is exactly like that of the lonely metal.
The short-haired young man’s feeling eases just a little bit after realizing that. The roar of the apocalyptic beast pulled him back to reality.

(What now?)

When he turned his face toward what appeared to be the source of the sound, he saw a figure of the shaking long-haired young man with his eyes and mouth opened wide.
The roar that announced the apocalypse was definitely coming from his belly, and it was still echoing.

「Run! Hurry and run!」

He senses this and, in a panic, shouts and points down the hallway. But his friend shook his long hair from side to side as if to say, 『I can’t move』.
Seeing that, the short-haired young man shouted again with a louder voice.

「Just run! Or your social life will end here!」

Before he could finish, he stepped forward, grabbed his friend by the arm, and ran out of the cafeteria.
Luckily, they made it just in time.

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