Chapter 4-6: The Will To Become Strong

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Ayanokōji's POV

I began my return toward the guest room where Shiro was waiting for her brother later than usual this time.

Back before the first meeting of this special test, I'd organised a discussion with a certain person, off out of the way in the opposite direction of the meeting rooms where no students were at the time.

And now, as a result of that discussion, I had just rendezvoused with a different person at that very same location.

Although it was the middle of the afternoon, when you'd expect the most activity out on the deck, the area of the ship that I was at was rather deserted. That's because this was the far end of the cruise liner, around where the meeting rooms for the current special exam were located.

It seemed to be some sort of psychological effect – after an hour of spending time within their groups, wherein they were constantly reminded of the strenuous special exam that is in progress, students wanted to get a change of scenery to wind down.

Consequently, it was ideal to hold meetings at this area of the ship right after the special exam discussions if you wanted them to be hidden from the public eye. Unfortunately, it seemed to be pointless, though, as the discussion had eventually broken down and lead nowhere.

As expected, while I was walking back towards the guest rooms, I ended up walking through the densely packed part of the deck – where all of the various luxuries were, like cafés, swimming pools, the theatre, arcade, massage spa, and everything else you could imagine.

Students were making full use of these facilities to enjoy their vacation, even in the midst of the Zodiac test.

I spotted some familiar faces; there was Kushida and her friends having fun and playing in a swimming pool, clad in dangerously lascivious swimsuits. Kushida was particularly magnetic to the male eye, her swimsuit erotically supplementing her perfect figure and generous proportions.

I quickly averted my eyes to prevent any unwanted reactions from occurring.

There was also Ichinose and her friends, who had joined two café tables together and appeared to be blissfully chatting about some funny and interesting things.

As I observed all the different groups enjoying their youth, I felt a little left out. It's not like I could ever join any of them, however, so I pushed those sorts of feelings aside and carried on.

Twenty minutes later than I normally did, I arrived at the guest room I was allocated to, unlocked the door, and stepped into the dimly lit room. And, there, I was met with a peculiar sight.

Shiro was curled up on her bed, as she usually was, but she was trembling much more noticeably than usual now. She seemed to be aware of my presence in the room, but didn't move to acknowledge me.

No, but more importantly...

"Sora isn't here...?"

I arrived twenty minutes later than usual due to a rendezvous I'd arranged, which meant that Sora definitely should've gotten here before I did. That, however, didn't appear to be the case.

Moreover, I inferred that he hadn't planned to be late – if he had, he would've definitely told Shiro about it, and then she wouldn't be this frightened by his absence.

Of course, Shiro is always frightened by Sora's absence, but her fright was clearly heightened this time around – she didn't know why Sora wasn't here yet, or why he wasn't. And that scared her.

I felt a bit awkward as I shut the door behind me, since I didn't really know what I was supposed to do in this situation. Shiro's situation was a delicate one, so acting or speaking carelessly could land me in quite a bit of trouble.

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