Chapter 11 – The Weak And The Strong

  • by lemuel moo
The sky was bright orange when a short lady with two pig-tails and a tall lady with long straight hair who carried Alyssa on her shoulders walked into a secluded bar. One of the waitresses in the bar immediately came forward to greet them.
”Welcome back Celinda, I have asked the chef to prepare your favorite steak for dinner! Camelia, you can put Sunny down before Violet mix your — “
As Camelia put Alyssa down, the waitress became silent as she noticed Alyssa.
”… I see. Both of you chose Alyssa instead of Sunny?”
There was an air of awkwardness between Camelia and the waitress, but Camelia brushed it aside with her nonchalant tone.
“… Yeah. Tell Violet to prepare our usual drinks for both of us now.”
The waitress bowed slightly and immediately went to the bartender to relay the order. After Camelia snuggled the unconscious Alyssa on a sofa with a blanket on her, both Celinda and Camelia went to the bar counter for their drinks.
A blonde wearing a slit black dress with a stylishly tied up hair was walking past and saw Alyssa resting on a sofa. She immediately turned towards the bar counter and snickered at Camelia and Celinda.
”My, why would you both choose this trash over Sunny? What is wrong with the both of you?! I thought if we have Alyssa fight Sunny, she would realize how inadequate she really is?”
Celinda retorted angrily at the lady’s dismissive remarks.
”Shut it, Ivy! Boss left it to our decision, and it is none of your business whether we choose Alyssa over Sunny or not!”
Ivy was an elegant lady with a high standing in the underworld and within the Flowers Of Death. She represents the Flowers Of Death in classy parties and functions for public relations. Therefore Celinda’s reaction sent a shock to everyone in the bar.
Ivy wasn’t a lady who could be ruffled easily, and she continued to mock Alyssa with her words.
“You do know that Sunny studied her dagger skills from one of the ‘hidden weapon’ users in our organization, right? Alyssa will never break into the top hundred flowers in our organization with her pitiful skills.”
Before Celinda could react, Camelia raised her hand towards Celinda to calm her down. Then Camelia took a moment to sip on her drink before answering. Both of them knew Ivy’s provocative personality. Therefore Camelia took a calmer approach to respond.
“… Alyssa’s desperation for her own personal justice serves our ethos in our organization. Sunny has no cause to join us at the moment, so Alyssa is a better fit.”
The Flowers Of Death was founded approximately four hundred years ago. At that time, it was common for kings and aristocrats to have many wives and concubines throughout the land. These highborn males used soothing words and empty promises to fill their harems with beautiful ladies.
One queen got so mad about her husband’s philandering ways that she secretly plotted against his life. No one found out who the culprit was and she assumed her husband’s role as ruler of a kingdom shortly after his death. As she was friends with neighboring queens, princesses, and concubines in other lands, she coaxed the others to form an assassination group who would serve justice to unfaithful husbands. 
There were a hundred ladies who joined this secret assassination group at the start, with the queen at the helm, and hence the Flowers of Death was born. They trained their assassination skills at night and assumed their royal duties by day. Using their royal positions, they would gather information from intelligence agencies to discover rumors of the unfaithfulness of all males and then exact their vengeance on behalf of women.
The Flowers Of Death grew infamous as an underworld organization, and the Queen allowed any lady to join if they need a personal justice or vengeance to be served. Time has evolved the Flowers Of Death into an all-rounded mercenary group today instead of punishing infidelity in marriages.
”Come on, that ethos expired decades ago. It’s not like you joined this organization because a man has betrayed you. You ladies haven’t even dated before!
Well, nevermind! What you believe is none of my business anyway…”
As Ivy walked passed the duo, Celinda raised her hand, and the surrounding chairs moved by itself and blocked Ivy’s path.
”Where are you going?”
”…As sharp as always, Celinda! I’m just going to meet my partner for a bit.”
”To do what?”
”To remedy your mistake and Camelia’s…”
The chairs and tables in the bar immediately floated from the ground and were poised to throw themselves at Ivy! Ivy covered her mouth and began laughing hysterically at the floating objects.
”Woah, this is so scary! Your psychic powers are amazing as usual, Celinda!”
Celinda glared murderously at Ivy as the latter laughed it off.
“Didn’t I say we are the ones who get to decide who should join us?! Who asked you to butt in between Sunny and Alyssa?!”
Ivy was unperturbed by the floating furniture that was surrounding her, and she took a side glance at Celinda to appease her.
“Relax… I have a date now, so I am not going to do anything tonight.”
Upon those words, the floating furniture rests itself gently as though nothing had happened and Ivy sauntered towards the door. As Ivy exited the bar, the ominous aura which had been emanating from Celinda subsided gradually and Camelia pat Celinda on the back.
“Chill, Celinda. We haven’t mentioned anything about Gale Gainsborough, and we probably shouldn’t. Let Ivy get a shock of her life when she finds out that there is somebody who could fight toe-to-toe against the both of us.”
Celinda gave a mischievous grin as she swirled her drink playfully in response.
“What an interesting guy! I really want to know Gale better, and this will be a good chance to see what he is made of!”

“Brother! Your breakfast is already on the table! I have some duties at school, so I’m going to school without you!”
“Okay! Catch you later!”
As Gale came out of the shower and walked to the dining room, he saw a plate of delicious sunny-side up eggs, bread, bacon and sausages on his table. He leaped to his seat eagerly and began feasting on his breakfast while pondering about the events that happened before with Clere and Sunny in a couple of weeks back.
“Clere has been training with [The Turtle Breathing Technique] for a while now, and it’s about time to meet with her regularly for training.”
Gale looked around the living room and saw a photo of Raine and him when he was ten years old, and she was eight. He took a moment to reminisce about his memories with Raine.
Gale and Raine had been living alone for many years. Their parents were rarely home and often had to travel abroad for work. Thus Gale had to be the leader of the house, and he had always been the one who prepared the meals and did household chores for the both of them. As Raine matured in age, she grew dependable and decided to be the cook for the house. 
“Raine’s cooking is getting better and better. She’s going to make a very good wife!”
He paused for a moment, heaved an audible sigh and began talking to himself.
“Raine’s been too forthcoming with her advances toward me! Dressing scantily when I’m around, sneaking up to my bed at night or planting good morning kisses whenever I wasn’t aware! What is making her do all these things?!”
There was no explanation nor logic to these things, or so Gale thought. Thus, he dismissed it and promptly finished his breakfast to go to school.
As Gale walked to school, he passed by a secluded alley and memories began floating up in his mind. That was the alley where he first met Clere when she saved him from some punks.
Suddenly, Gale heard a scream in the alley. Startled, he ran into the alley and saw four punks trying to extort money on another guy. It was a different set of punks which he had never met before, and he muttered to himself.
“…This alley is cursed or something. Without fail, there will be some bullying here from time to time.”
The group of guys stared at Gale as he interrupted them with his presence.
“Who the hell are you?”
Unperturbed by the antagonistic glares from those punks, Gale stepped forward bravely and met their eyes without flinching.
“You should pick someone of your own size, clowns.”
Those punks looked at each other for a moment and laughed gleefully.
“Whaddya know? Another easy fruit for the picking.”
Gale found himself surrounded by those punks as they flashed their shiny knuckle dusters under the morning light. One of them had a metal bat, and he moved behind Gale.
“Cough up whatever valuables you have right now.”
“Why should I?”
The metal bat struck Gale’s head from the back heavily, and Gale crashed on the ground. Those punks laughed hysterically at Gale’s pitiful sight.
“Do you now know why? We only like to strip girls and not guys, so be nice and remove your valuables before we send you to the hospital.”
The victim who was bullied was staring at Gale helplessly, and Gale saw that he was wearing the same uniform as him.
…I really hate to display my strength here in front of my schoolmate, but we are going to be late for school if I tarry any further.
As Gale picked himself up, he clenched his fist and was about to punch the guy who swung the metal bat when suddenly a girl appeared out of nowhere and landed her legs on their faces with her roundhouse kick! The duo crashed onto the ground and was groveling in pain.  
The mysterious girl immediately held Gale up with her arms and Gale felt a soft sensation on his arms as his arms sunk into the largeness of her breasts.
“Are you alright?! You took a direct hit from a metal bat!”
As Gale had hardened his head before the impact with [qi], there was no blood on his head. He touched his head to check if there were other abrasions on his head.
“…Yeah, I’m pretty much fine.”
At that moment, Gale noticed that this girl was wearing the same school uniform as him.
Deja vu? A random heroine always happen to appear here too!
The other two guys were greatly surprised that two of their friends were floored so easily, so they immediately charged toward the girl with their swinging bats, but the girl swept all of them to the side with another roundhouse kick with ease, and they crashed into a wall. Gale observed her breathing and her techniques for a moment, before moving forward to pick the bullied victim up.
“…Aren’t you going to help her?! These guys are picking themselves up, and they have knuckle dusters!”
“She will be fine with her level of skills! I’m more concerned for you because you took a few hits from those clowns.”
“You took one on the head too! Shouldn’t you be worried — “
Gale ignored the victim’s words and immediately examined his injuries by pressing on various parts of his body, channeled some of his [qi] into the victim’s internal organs and read his pulse on his wrist. The victim was blushing a little at Gale’s kindness.
“…Are you a physician? You seemed skilled.”
“…I learned some tricks in the past. Just making sure you aren’t having internal injuries or whatever.”
After the heroine dished out several jabs and punches into the punks’ torso and faces, they scurried away like rats in fright. She then drew near to greet Gale and the victim.
“Don’t act brave when you are so weak! You should have just gotten help instead of confronting those bullies!”
Upon further inspection, Gale noticed that the girl had beautiful flowing silver hair, and she looked stunning! Her chests, waists, and hips were nicely curved as though she was a gravure idol. The victim was a small and petite guy with glasses, and he stood forward to give a slight bow in gratitude toward the girl.
“T-Thanks for the help!”
“You should thank this gentleman here! He is the one who took a hit for you!”
Gale was used to punks beating him up while he rarely retaliated in order not to cause a scene, so he didn’t like to be thanked for that and redirected the praise back to the lady.
“But you are the one who saved us, so we should be thanking you instead. 
By the way, I noticed we all come from the same school. Shall we go to school together?”
The girl’s countenance radiated with joy and she immediately chirped back in response.
“Yea, but before that, can one of you host me in your house? I need a place to stay!”
Both guys stared at this girl for her outrageous suggestion.
“…Are you homeless?”
“Not exactly, but I came to this city in a rush today, and I have not settled on my accommodation yet. Look at my luggage there!”
Near the entrance of the alley, there were a couple of luggage bags sitting in a corner.
Gale looked at the victim, but the latter immediately averted his gaze. Gale sighed, and though he had many questions for the girl, he decided against asking too much from the start since she just saved the both of them.
“…Alright. Come to my house then. I have a sister, so she probably can help you out in finding an accommodation suitable for you too.
Shouldn’t we introduce ourselves?”
The silver-haired lady immediately responded.
“I’m Jacinta Heywood! Nice to meet the both of you!”
“A-And I-I’m R-Reynard Gebhard! P-Pleasure to meet you both!”
“And I’m Gale Gainsborough. Let me bring Jacinta to my house first since she can’t possibly carry her luggage everywhere. 
Reynard, we may end up late for school if I were to bring her to my house. Perhaps you want to go ahead to school first?”
“S-Sure! I can’t be late today, so I will see you both later!”
As Reynard left promptly, Gale went ahead and picked up Jacinta’s luggage before motioning her to come along. She caught up and observed Gale for a few moments.
“…What’s wrong? Something on my face?”
“Are you sure you are alright? I can’t imagine someone will be fine after receiving such a blow from a metal bat!”
“I’m fine.”
“Kekeke…You don’t have to act so tough in front of a girl, you know!”
Gale gave up explaining himself while Jacinta continued the conversation with a ludicrous suggestion.
“How about I protect you, and in turn you let me stay at your house permanently?”
Gale stared into Jacinta’s eyes as he couldn’t believe what he just heard.
“…Admit it. You are just homeless, and you ran out of money!”
“I’m not! I just don’t want to live by myself, and I shudder at the thought of it!”
“Well, you can live with Reynard then! He needs protection more than I do!”
“You have a sister living with you, haven’t you? Both of us won’t be living in a house alone! Come on, I won’t freeload from you, and I can pay you to rent!”
“Rent?! I am not a host for a rental house!”
“Take it as repayment of my kind deed earlier! I just saved you a few moments ago, and you should be grateful! Besides, you really need protection! You are so weak, yet you like to act like a hero!” 
Dare I say that I’m a bodyguard myself?! 
“No, I don’t need protection, but I will let you stay until you can find yourself a new place.”
Jacinta pouted, and Gale thought she looked very adorable. He caught himself quickly and turned away with his red face.
“…Fine. I will look around in school to see if I can convince a host to let me stay at her house.“
“…I know you have the skills to defend yourself, but aren’t you too audacious to live with a random stranger?!”
“Of course I don’t approach any random stranger and live with them! Consider it a privilege that I trust you!”
“You trust me?! Why?!”
“You did not worry about your own safety when you went forward to help Reynard! Of course, I will trust you!”
That’s just because I know I can get myself out of a pinch easily!
“Well, don’t trust guys so easily. I could be putting on a show.”
Jacinta smiled sweetly at Gale, and Gale could not help but blush.
“Even though you are weak, I am pretty impressed by your bravery when you put yourself on the line!”
…These disillusioned thoughts of hers are so annoying!
Gale and Jacinta eventually reached his house, and he pulled her luggage into the hallway. Gale’s house had a couple of guest rooms, and he introduced her to one of them.
“Let’s just leave your luggage here at the moment and head to school. You can unpack afterward.”
Both of them then promptly grabbed their schoolbags and headed to school once again. Along the way, Gale started to ask more questions to find out more about Jacinta.
“So why have you moved to study at Aelfsige Academy in the middle of a school term?”
“Why not? Aelfsige Academy is a recognized private school, and it’s been my dream to be here!”
“…You came here without any accommodation and family, and that’s all the reason you’ve got to enroll in Aelfsige Academy so suddenly?!”
“Like I said, I was about to look for a host to stay with a schoolmate! My family is abroad at the moment, and I requested to live by myself to attend school here!”
Gale couldn’t bring himself to believe Jacinta, but he figured that it was none of his business anyway. As they were running late, both of them started to sprint to school before the gates were closed. 
Gale knew that Jacinta was going to be fast with her legs since she was skilled in martial arts. Gale then decided to run faster and faster, and Jacinta steadily increased her pace to match Gale’s speed. Before long, Gale showed the true prowess of his stamina and leg strength as he outran Jacinta by a large margin until he was out of her sight.
“That would let her know that I’m not weak by any stretch of the imagination!”
Gale reached the school gates first and waited for Jacinta. Shortly after, Jacinta reached the school gates, and she panted heavily before him.
“…Impressive, Gale! You have good stamina and speed! If you didn’t have a strong sense of justice, I reckon you didn’t need a bodyguard at all since you could always run away!”
...You didn’t get the hint that I have more strength and stamina than you?!
After Jacinta recovered her breath, she radiated with a brilliant smile towards Gale before separating herself from him.
“I have to meet the principal as today’s my first day! I will catch you later!”
Gale couldn’t help but heaved a sigh audibly. 
How am I going to explain to Raine that Jacinta is staying at our house?!

“Class, we have a couple of new students who will join us today.”
Gale immediately perked up as Miss Mia was chirping like a bird enthusiastically. Don’t tell me its those two whom I met earlier…
A petite guy came in meekly and introduced himself.
“H-Hi everyone! M-My name is R-Reynard G-Gebhard! I just arrived recently from overseas, and I look forward to making good memories during my stay here!”
The guys were stone-faced while the girls smiled courteously without giving much of a response. Kasumi coughed to catch everyone’s attention and led everyone to welcome him warmly.
“Let’s give it up for Reynard! So tell us, Reynard, why do you come to Aelfsige Academy to study?”
“T-To become strong! I want to learn how to wield a sword from Mizushima Hideki and you, Miss Kasumi!”
Everyone was surprised by Reynard’s response. Sang immediately raised up his hand for a question.
“Strong?! Why do you need to be strong here at Aelfsige Academy? You can always learn martial arts outside of school!”
“I-It is just my personal wish! I hear that Miss Kasumi’s swordplay is famous and I’m here to learn all about it!”
It felt awkward and bewildering since Aelfsige Academy wasn’t one of the best schools in the world for a combat curriculum, but no one dared to say a word since Reynard replied so earnestly. Kasumi then broke the deadlock. 
“Alright, look for me after school, Reynard! I do have a private dojo here, and we can talk about training you to be strong!
Let’s welcome our next new student!”
A silvered-hair lady walked in, and suddenly the whole class was radiating with light. A floral scent filled the room, and the whole class was electrified as they witnessed beauty in their midst. Gale could not believe her perfume was permeating throughout the class.
…Did she drown herself with perfume after running?!
“Hi everyone! My name is Jacinta Heywood! I too moved from overseas and came here to study!”
The class cheered with so much enthusiasm that Reynard was embarrassed having to stand beside Jacinta. Gale could not help but pity the poor guy as the guys rushed to ask Jacinta questions.
“Are you single?”
“Where do you live?”
“Why do you come to Aelfsige Academy?”
“What are your hobbies?”
Kasumi sighed and then motioned the class to be quiet.
“Take a queue number, you animals! Wales, we will start with you. Ask your question.”
Wales stood up enthusiastically in response.
“Are you single?”
The guys roared with joy, and the girls looked disgusted at their response.
“Why do you come to Aelfsige Academy?”
“I came here to learn about swords with Mizushima Hideki and Miss Kasumi!”
Hideki immediately perked up and blushed because Jacinta had named him specifically. The rest of the guys groaned in defeat.
“Hideki again?! He already has Satori! And maybe even Clere!”
Clere glared angrily at her name being mentioned, and the guys went quiet meekly.
“Where do you live?”
“I currently live with Gale, and I’m his bodyguard!”
Gale buried his head with his hands, and the class gasped in shock! Clere could not believe her ears and stared at Gale to seek for answers!
“What’s your relationship with Gale?!”
“We just met today, and I saved him from some bullies, but I will be his bodyguard from today onwards in exchange for staying at his house!”
Clere continued to stare at Gale, but Gale did not return her gaze since he didn’t know how to explain himself. Kasumi was surprised too and looked at Gale, who buried his face with his arms.
“I-I see. Both Reynard and you can look for me after school as we talk about swords. Let’s choose seats for the both of you…”
As Reynard looked around the classroom, everyone was stoned-face, averted his gaze and became silent. Gale raised his hand and pointed to an empty seat that was beside him. Reynard then gratefully went toward Gale and sat beside him.
“Well, nice to meet you again, Reynard! I will bring you around during lunchtime!”
It was Jacinta’s turn, and everybody’s eyes were glistening with hope that she would sit near them. Hands were raised up to offer the empty seats that were around the classroom.
Jacinta had wanted to sit beside Gale and was eyeing the seat that Reynard took, so she pouted a little towards Gale and Gale pretended not to notice it. She then smiled and walked to an empty seat where the majority of the girls were while the guys sighed in defeat.
Miss Mia suddenly thought of something and asked the two new students a question.
“Oh yes, since you both are new here, do you want someone to show you around the school?”
Without a moment of hesitation, Gale immediately spoke up.
“I will be bringing Reynard around, Miss Mia. Someone else can bring Jacinta around.”
All eyes were on Gale as they couldn’t believe how he gave up the chance to show Jacinta around. Jacinta smiled sweetly and replied.
“I will pick Mizushima Hideki. I will be in your care, Hideki!”
Hideki blushed as the guys groaned in defeat again.

During lunchtime, Clere immediately marched to Gale and demanded to know what had transpired between Jacinta and him. Reynard stood silently beside them and observed the conversation.
“How did Jacinta ended up being your bodyguard?! Did you tell her that you are my bodyguard?!”
“… Wasn’t it you who said you wanted to be inconspicuous about having a bodyguard? I haven’t mentioned anything about it yet!”
“E-Even so! How can a bodyguard have his own bodyguard?! It makes no sense!”
“I know, right? She’s just looking for a reason to stay in someone’s house. She will move out when she finds her own accommodation.”
Clere then immediately switched the focus of her conversation and began probing further into Gale’s psyche.
“Why did you give up being her tour guide around the school, especially when you know her before the rest of us? Isn’t she gorgeous?! Or are you swinging the other way…?”
Both Jacinta and Reynard stared at Gale suspiciously as they were waiting to catch his expression or signs of weakness from his body language.
Gale heaved an audible sigh.
“Her footsteps are too light. That’s all.”
Reynard didn’t understand a single thing, but Clere caught on quickly. Jacinta had trained as an assassin, so her footsteps were light, and thus Gale was a little wary of her.
At that moment, the trio could hear a loud voice behind them.
“Who’s that girl beside you, Hideki?!”
Satori appeared at the classroom door as Hideki was about to show Jacinta around. She was clearly displeased at the sight of a pretty girl who was near Hideki.
“Hey Satori, I was asked to show my new classmate around the school. Sorry, but I can’t hang out with you during lunch today.”
Jacinta then took a step backward as she apologized to Hideki and Satori.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you have a girlfriend. I wouldn’t have suggested you then — “
Hideki immediately interjected.
“No, it’s alright. Satori and I are just friends. As I was transferred here not too long ago — “
Satori was infuriated at the suggestion that Hideki and her ‘are just friends.’ Thus, she immediately turned on her feminine wiles and brought her body close to Hideki.
“Surely you don’t mind me tagging along, don’t you Hideki? I can show her around with you, can’t I?”
Jacinta was displeased at Satori’s act, but she decided to play along and smiled sweetly at Hideki.
“I don’t mind! The more, the merrier isn’t it, Hideki?”
Hideki was hard pressed from both sides. Satori was a top ten beauty of Aelfsige Academy, and as she pressed her body toward him, he could not help but blush. However, Jacinta looked like a model, and jealous eyes were affixed upon him because he had the chance to show Jacinta around. He certainly didn’t want to be seen with Satori at a time like this.
“Err… Satori, you can come along but would you mind not holding onto me like this? It’s hard for me — ”
At that moment, Gale, Clere, and Reynard were leaving classroom from another exit and Jacinta took the chance to approach Gale before the trio was out of sight.
“It looks like trouble over there with Hideki and Satori. Can I come along with you all instead?”
Gale took a peek at Hideki’s countenance and nodded in reply. Hideki was very embarrassed and resigned sheepishly as Satori was showing no signs of letting go of his arm.
“Yeah, come along. The more, the merrier over here.”



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