Five months have passed since Rio entered the Royal Institute.
Currently, Rio had become the target of bullying.
On his first day, he was not able to read letters or numbers resulting in him becoming the subject of ridicule.
But by reading books in the library, he taught himself how to read letters and remarkably was able to catch up with the rest of the class.
In the first place, he was a University student in his past life.
With the exception of the common sense in this world, as expected there were almost no issues.
Even though it would seem like Rio’s progress suddenly sky-rocketed, the person himself faked a gradual learning curve in order to avoid attention.
It could not be helped since he was aware of his circumstances; nobody knew his true level of intellect.
By the time he caught up with the rest of his classmates, Rio’s grades placed amongst the top ranked students.
None of the surrounding students expressed any interest at all.
Those with childish pride satisfied themselves by continuing to look down on him, while others who previously saw him as a failure still saw him as one.
All the more since he was formerly an orphan.
However Rio did not intend to interact with other students either so he had no connections with anybody in his class.
Rio only used the Institute as a place for acquiring knowledge about the world; that was all.
Since the surrounding students continued to ignore him, he led a lonely school life. Not that it mattered because he was already used to being alone during University in his former life.
Rio did not form bonds with any students as he did not need their help for any of his school work. He was not bothered by the degree of ignorance he received from the students either.
It seemed there were various slanders made behind his back due to their envy of his results.
However an event that allowed the surrounding students to openly express their resentment finally occurred in magic class.
When the time came where he could perceive magic, Rio was finally allowed to perform the Contract Ceremony.
The steps to performing the System Contract1 were very simple.
A geometrical pattern called the magic formation was drawn on the ground; the contractor then stands on top of it whilst meditating while releasing magical power and chanting an incantation.
If the contract is successful, the magic formation drawn on the ground disappears and becomes engraved on the contractor’s body instead.
The contract formation’s pattern increases in complexity proportional to the rank of the magic.
“I did it! I was able to do it!”
“Oh that’s just the elementary class magic <Ignition>2. It’s to be expected that you’d succeed. There never has been a case where someone failed.”
Lectures were carried out about different types of magicians3 by different lecturers.
Because Rio was an all-rounder type, he had to attend lectures from both sides.
The nearby students raised their voices in glee as they succeeded their Contract Ceremonies.
Unfortunately, Rio had yet to succeed in performing a contract.
(Why? This is… I understand the procedure yet for some reason… Contract attempts keep failing.)
Rio was puzzled.
When he stood on the magic formation and channelled magical power into it to create the contract, he somehow acquired an understanding about the details of the magic.
However before the contract could complete, his body rejected it.
One person, two persons, the students who successfully completed the contract continued to increase.
Until only Rio was left.
The astute among them quickly picked up on that.
“Oi, that Rio can’t complete his contract!”
Eyes of many students practising their magic in high-spirits gathered on Rio.
There was a large distinction between those who could use magic and those who could not.
This became increasingly clear during war where magic users became the leading actors.
Even if they did not approach the front lines, magic users still gained that kind of prestige.
In addition, those who awakened to their magical prowess gained longer lasting youth.
That was why many among the privileged class learned magic as a testimony to their status.
It was due to such a reason that the Royal Institute incorporated magic into their curriculum as a mandatory subject.
And because the amount of magical power is inherited from a child’s parents, noble children were sent to school in search of potential marriage partners. Therefore for most students, it was necessary for them to attend lectures pertaining to magic.
Recently, the other students could not stomach the former orphan who stole the top academic ranks yet could not complete the Contract Ceremony.
Now an excuse emerged for them to openly ridicule Rio. It was definitely a blessing for the ones try to hold in their disgust.
Magic can only be wielded by the chosen few; being an all-rounder type was a lie; a former orphan is still an orphan after all. They happily jeered at him.
Eventually, they would think the Spirit Light Stone malfunctioned; Rio was not fit for the Royal Institute; Rio’s outstanding academic performance was a fraud, and so they went on saying these malicious things.
The lecturer tried to control the situation but was ignored and the students continued whispering criticisms against Rio.
Ever since that day, Rio had not been able to succeed in the Contract Ceremony.
“Rio, come to my lab room after school.”
Rio was called by Seria after the math lecture ended.
After school, he headed towards the laboratory room.
He often chatted with Seria so it was not unusual for him to come by her laboratory room.
Rio enjoyed talking with Seria because somehow their wavelengths matched allowing them to converse naturally.
“Good, you came. I heard. You weren’t able to perform the Contract Ceremony?”
“I’m afraid so.”
Seria jumped straight to the main topic when Rio entered the room.
The reason was because Rio often answered her straight-forward questions.
Somehow or another she picked up the story about him failing his contract.
“You’re able to perceive magic right?”
Seria put her hand to her chin entering into deep thought after Rio replied.
When she assumed this posture, Rio understood she would become unresponsive to anything he said so he waited in silence.
“…For example, the elementary magic spells <Ignition> and <Create Water>, you weren’t able to complete their contracts right?”
He shrugged his shoulders while answering Seria’s question.
Probably because magic did not exist in his former world, he did not feel it was absolutely necessary to be able to use it. Yet there was still a lingering desire to try the unknown.
Therefore he felt disappointed about his current situation.
“…It’s strange. I think the cause for your failure is… is because you can’t control your magical power? No, because an elementary magic spell only requires magic perception to succeed…”
Seria grumbled to herself while lying face down.
“I’m sorry. I can’t determine the cause of your failure.”
After organising her thoughts, Seria raised her head and apologised in vexation.
“I don’t mind. Besides we still haven’t established the fact that the contract is impossible so I can take heart in that fact for now.”
“I see, well, even though I don’t understand, I’ll still hear you out and provide as much advice as possible.”
“Thank you very much. By the way, what kind of sensation do you feel when the Contract Ceremony succeeds?”
Rio immediately raised a question.
He was still anxious about the contract.
“Sensation? Nn~ let’s see. It feels like something flows into your body and it becomes hot after that?”
Seria answered Rio with uncertainty.
“Will you understand the contents of the contract?”
“Understand the contents of the contract? What do you mean?”
“E~tto, how to say it, the phenomenon of how the magic spell is able to interfere with the laws of nature4?”
Rio thought back to when he was performing the contract and tried to simplify his explanation as much as possible.
“Why ask? Well it’s okay, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t understand. If magic research advances more I will understand. I mean, that is my research topic.”
(Am I strange? I can see that she doesn’t understand me… isn’t this bad?”
Rio knew he could not provide an answer for Seria and instantly recognised the danger of his careless question.
Many humans in this world believed in religious deities.
It was common knowledge that magic was a sacred power bestowed onto the human race by Gods.
Only by performing the Contract Ceremony would they come to an understanding about the contents of that sacred power.
The pious believer— no, the general population of believers would treat him as a heretic if he slipped up.
“Is that so? I think I can use your ideas as a reference to understand the sense of a completed contract.”
Rio could not talk about what he truly felt to Seria.
It did not mean he did not trust Seria, just that he needed to investigate the matter a bit further.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t serve as a reference.”
“No, I understand it even if just a little bit. About how each person senses it. I’m sorry for saying some odd things.”
“Well that… it was an interesting point of view. The feeling when the contract is completed. I haven’t thought much about it either. It would be interesting to perform a survey about that…”
By hearing Rio’s words, Seria had a flash of inspiration.
Once again, she displayed an expression of deep interest and immersed herself in her own world.
(She really is a researcher at heart.)
Rio could only smile wryly at Seria’s state.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I tend to get carried away whenever I begin thinking about something.”
Seria laughed bashfully with a flushed face.
“Not at all, because I was able to get a glimpse of Sensei’s lovely face.”
Seria’s face reddened in embarrassment.
Somehow, she seemed weak against jokes.
“T-That kind of thing, is Rio okay with it? Your classmates are quite awful; they’re cheerfully insulting and mocking you. Are you by any chance being bullied?”
Rio felt that Seria was trying to change the subject. Though from her question, she seemed genuinely worried about him.
“Thank you for worrying about me but there aren’t any problems in particular.”
Rio felt happy about her concern so he answered in a way not to cause her any worry.
“Rio has a really dry sense of humour unsuited for his age… Are you really alright?”
Seria asked once more to make sure.
“Should I say I’m bullied? The degree of bullying is still that of a cute child. I can just ignore it. It’s only some badmouthing behind my back.”
“That, so it’s just teasing. Ha~ so the bullying done by nobles is quite lousy.”
Seria roughly scratched her head.
“I think Rio’s intelligence is similar to mine. You instantly absorbed everything I taught you and your academic results rose at an unbelievable rate too.”
Seria suddenly said that with a serious expression.
“You think too highly of me. …Anyone could do the same if they put in the effort.”
Seria thought Rio was intelligent but it was only thanks to him retaining knowledge from his previous life, Rio thought so.
“I know Rio puts in the effort. You’re always up late studying in the library.”
Saying that, Seria had a heart-warming expression while tenderly looking at Rio.
“But you know, it’s natural to make an effort. There doesn’t exist a genius who doesn’t make an effort. People become intelligent simply because they put in the effort. They put in the effort because they are intelligent5. That’s how it is. That’s why Rio is smart. As someone who is praised as a genius, I can guarantee that.”
“That is… I am honoured. Thank you very much.”
“Yes. You’re welcome. It’s only that, I’m worried about Rio.”
Saying that, Seria’s expression darkened a little.
“There are many nobles in the Institute. Won’t they instantly compare themselves to you? They’ll become jealous since you surpassed them. Rio is clever so I don’t believe that you’re one to and bottle everything up… right?”
Seria said that with a bashful face causing Rio to smile slightly.
“Thank you for worrying about me. I assure you I’m fine. Look at it this way; I can face my stress because an understanding person is here to support me. Besides, I have the nerves to shamelessly complain to you if needed.”
“A seven year old is telling me how to deal with stress…”
Seria was astonished but still smiled while saying that.
“Well it’s no good this time so please allow me to rely on you Seria-sensei.”
And Rio looked at Seria with a mischievous smile.
Seria broke into a wide smile when she saw Rio acting like that.
“Alright. I’ll lend you my chest this time.”
She opened her arms in order to embrace him with her small body.
“Well, since Seria-sensei is very small, I’ll have to lower my body to be held by you right?”
“Na!? Very small you say! I’m still growing!”
“Haha, I know. You’re still only 12 years old.”
“I— I feel like I’m being treated as a child by someone who’s younger than me…”
Seria tasted a strange sense of defeat.
They laughed together and thus the day ended.
Then the next day Rio came to school, he noticed the bullying had escalated to a new level.
The desk he usually sat at was vandalised with many cuts and scratches on its surface from what seemed like a knife.
In addition, a flower was placed on the desk.
This flower was usually offered to the dead in the Bertram Kingdom, it was definitely not something to be given to the living.
It seemed they were finally using a more tangible method of bullying.
Yesterday’s magic lecture acted as the trigger.
To perform something as tasteless as this, Rio was amazed at the level of hatred they harboured.
He looked at the condition of his desk and chair, and then surveyed the surrounding students.
Some of them averted their eyes but most of them were sneering and laughing at him.
Those whose families were of higher ranked nobles were particularly nasty.
They did not bother to try and hide their contempt.
By chance, when Rio caught the eyes of Christina and Roana seated near the group of higher ranked nobles, they avoided his gaze with sullen expressions.
Before long the lecturer entered the classroom and noticed disastrous state of Rio’s desk.
“O-Oi, what happened to that desk?”
When the lecturer noticed the meaning behind the flower placed on the desk, he became perplexed and asked the students about the situation.
“Since that’s where Rio always sits, wouldn’t he be the culprit?”
The one that said so was one of Roana’s fans.
“Is that so?”
Hearing that the lecturer turned to Rio.
“No. The desk was already in that condition when I arrived this morning.”
“Is that the truth?”
The lecturer stared at Rio doubtfully.
To be frank, he did not care about it but it would not be amusing if he was falsely accused.
He intended to get back at them with a bit of revenge—
“Why would I vandalise my own seat? Furthermore, I know that according to the Kingdom’s laws, destroying public property is a criminal act and the offender will be lashed and fined as punishment.”
Rio spoke his defence without faltering.
“However I truly doubt the students of the prestigious Royal Institute would ever commit such tasteless acts. Surely it must have been a stray goblin? It is a serious issue if a goblin has infiltrated the school. A request should be submitted to reinforce the city guards.”
He made himself more convincing by maintaining a serious expression throughout his talk.
“Mu, t-that… right…”
The lecturer’s face cramped up after hearing Rio’s reasoning.
It was not that the lecturer did not trust Rio. He could already guess who the offender was but he did not want to provoke the high ranked noble families.
Therefore he placed his doubts on Rio but the answer he received far exceeded his expectations.
It could be said that the goblin was the most well-known monster in this world.
It was the weakest amongst monsters, possessing low intelligence but strong sexual desires.
To compare a human against a goblin was considered the greatest insult.
Although Rio did say it was the work of a goblin, it was clearly the deed of a human.
He refused to acknowledge the culprit to be a student within the Institute but kept insisting a goblin was behind the misdeed.
It was all just sophistry but he dared to ridicule the culprit.
As if admitting he was the culprit, a student glared at Rio with a scornful expression as if he could no longer stand Rio’s presence.
But he could not rebut Rio either.
It would be equivalent to openly admitting his fault.
Improvisation by considering every possibility, it was a truly intricate retaliation.
The lecturer felt that he accidentally awoke a sleeping dragon.
When Rio looked around the classroom, as expected, a number of students belonging to senior nobility were cursing Rio to death.
Perhaps they were the culprits.
“…Sorry, Rio please move to another seat. I will collect the flower after lecture.”
The lecturer decided to quickly begin the lecture to avoid any more trouble.
Rio seated himself at a vacant desk as he was told.
After the lecture, a number of students deliberately slandered Rio so that others could also hear.
They talked about how Rio failed the Contract Ceremony; the mocking atmosphere returned to the classroom.
Others who were unhappy about Rio immediately joined in.
Rio on the other hand simply ignored them.
It was a childish relationship that would last until graduation.
He had better things to think about such as why the Contract Ceremony failed and other things involving magic.
He could strengthen his physical abilities and body with magical power.
Yet he could not complete the contract.
Rio currently only held a snippet of knowledge pertaining to magic.
First, he could see magical power with eyes.
Second, he could strengthen his physical abilities and body with magical power.
Third, when performing the Contract Ceremony, he could understand how the magic spell interfered with the laws of nature.
Fourth, for some reason right before the magic formation can engrave itself into his body, it was rejected.
Fifth, even though he could perceive the magic carved into the magic formation, he could not understand its contents.
From those facts alone, Rio was unable to deduce the reason for why the Contract Ceremony failed.
But if he could not complete the Contract Ceremony, he would be unable to use magic, was what Rio thought.
Because he had to understand the method of invoking magic through the magic spell.
Then he should be able to use magic if he imitated those principles.
It did not take long until he arrived at that conclusion.
If humans who were able to use magic were considered the hardware, then the software would be the magic spell.
Rio recognised magic as such.
Then the Contract Ceremony would be the software; he felt like he was misinterpreting something that could not be expressed by words.
Certainly, by using a magic spell one could intervene with the laws of nature.
But he was missing one crucial piece of the software.
That was what Rio thought.
However, he did not know what he was missing.
To begin with, he already had too many abnormalities.
It may be unnecessary for him to try conforming to the norm.
Maybe he could use magic without a contract. He would no longer have to be concerned about being unable to complete the Contract Ceremony.
Rio optimistically thought it was something like that.
He just needed to prove his theory now.
Rio intended to replicate it by recalling the flow of magical power from the magic formation.
1. Refer to Glossary
2. Read as Ignition, written as Ignition Magic
3. Two main types: mage and fighting
4. Physics, chemistry, etc.