Hide and Seek
Hiding in the trees when chased by an elf in a forest isn’t
too bad of a plan. Just give a few seconds’ thought about what the
meaning behind an entirely meaningless action might be.
Somewhere around half a year passed since I began giving our exchange students special classes.
“That’s why you’re an idiot! Shouldn’t you be able to get it just by thinking about it?”
“Eeh, but whyyy? I don’t get it!”
Today, just like every day, I could hear Shig and Rin squabbling with each other in the classroom.
“Alright you two, that’s enough!”
However, more recently, Luka’s been starting to break them up.
“I was wondering what would happen when she started, but it looks like it turned out well.”
Looking at the situation progress from a little ways away, Violet smiled. Luka was fairly hesitant at it at first, but she already had lots of experience in this after looking after her younger siblings for so long. She seemed to have come into her stride the past few weeks, so we’ve all seen Shig and Rin get scolded by her quite a lot.
“You two really are like siblings.”
In response to Luka chiding him with her hands on her hips, Shig muttered out a response… which provoked yet another warning from her. Rin, laughing at his misfortune, was equally scolded in turn. Rin generally just went about doing things her way without letting anyone trip her up, but it seemed as though Luka was able to get through to her with her scoldings.
“To be honest, I thought that I would be the one who would need to assume that role. Luka seems suited to it, though.”
Watching Luka patting their heads after chiding them, Violet spoke in a gentle tone.
“Rather than being like an older sister, Violet, you’re more like their mother. It feels like you’re always watching over them.”
Unexpectedly, Violet’s eyes opened wide upon hearing my comment. Perhaps she’s still too young to be likened to a mother?
“Then that would make us something of a couple, would it not? Mentor is the classroom’s father.”
What she responded with was just as unexpected.
“Oh, well, umm, sorry, I didn’t mean—”
Yuuki shoved herself between Violet and I, who’d become somewhat incoherent.
“I’m who’s gonna be big brother’s bride!”
“Are you now?”
Seeing Yuuki cling to me with so much gusto, Violet smiled in amusement.
“I’ve said it many times now, but I’m already married.”
Even while patting Yuuki on the head, I admonished her. Of course, I took Yuuki’s words as those of a youth’s short-lived yearning. However, I knew from past experiences that it would hurt her if I didn’t answer them straight on.
Yuuki scrunched up her lips in discontent and grumbled, but that was all. It didn’t look like her feelings were hurt.
“Now then, how about we start class?”
Clapping my hands together to gain everyone’s attention as soon as there was a lull, I waited for my students to get back to their seats.
Setting aside Violet’s, Yuuki’s, and Shig’s chairs which all had standard backings to them—along with a hole in Shig’s for his tail—we also had version fifteen of Rin’s light-yet-robust wheelchair and a sturdy ottoman for Luka to sit her belly down on. Quite a line up, if I don’t say so myself.
“Mentor, what are we doing today?”
Luka wasn’t the only person who’d come into her own in the classroom. Through many trials and tribulations, I’d also gradually come to understand what I should do.
Giving them some goal and allowing them to go about it in their own way generally worked out better than just giving each of them the same thing and teaching them directly.
“Right… today, we’re going to play hide and seek.”
“Hide and seek?”
Rin parroted back the game’s name, followed by Shig and Luka both tilting their heads in confusion.
“But that’s a kid’s game.”
“What is hide and seek?”
They did so for opposite reasons, however. Shig, because he knew what it was, and Luka, because she didn’t.
“It won’t be any standard hide and seek, of course. You’ll be using magic to escape and hide. The person who’s it can use magic to give chase, as well. Being found is alright, but you’re out if you get touched. If you can keep away until nightfall, you win.”
“Sounds fun! I wanna be it!”
As soon as I gave Luka and the others the explanation of what they’d be doing, Rin’s hand darted into the air.
“Then I want to too!”
Competitive as he was, Shig raised his hand as well.
“Sorry, but I’ve already decided on who’ll be it.”
Shig grunted in dissatisfaction.
“Who’s gonna be it, big brother?”
It was rather unusual for me to unilaterally decide on a role for them, so Yuuki asked me in curiosity.
“Today, you all—”
Smiling, I continued.
“—are going to be attempting to escape from Violet in the forest.”
＊ ＊ ＊
“I will be off, then.”
After the other students went and hid in the forest, Violet counted to one hundred and followed after them. Seeing her off, I took a few small red scales out of my pocket. They were things I’d removed from my dragon form, parts of me.
“Those that are strong enough to defend against any and everything, that hold a crimson luster and gleam in the sunlight, that are fragments of the dragon that is me. Be my ears and let me hear, be my eyes and give me sight beyond sight.”
Scattering five of them on the ground and reciting the incantation, flames rose up to show me each of my students. I had handed each of them matching scales to use this magic, enabling me to see what they were doing.
The first one to catch my attention was Yuuki running through the forest with Rin on her back. It would be difficult for Rin to move about in the forest—a place with no pavement and scarcely no flat ground for her wheelchair—so I had her pair up with Yuuki.
Rin generally looked small due to her youthful appearance, but her lower body was fairly long. If you compared her full length to Violet, who was rather tall, Rin might just come out on top. She was somewhere around forty kilos, too. For Yuuki to be able to dash so easily through the woods despite bearing her weight as well spoke a lot of her strength.
On the other hand, Shig and Luka’s pair seemed to be wandering aimlessly through the forest. They didn’t necessarily need to pair up, but I told them to do so to be similar to Rin and Yuuki. Both of them held better natural physical capabilities than humans, too. The speed they traveled at as they went through the brush was comparable to a human sprinting on flat ground.
And following behind them was Violet in a very relaxed manner. She looked as though she were talking a stroll in the park, not hurrying in the least. She had the composure only an elder could, seeming as though she’d be able to capture them the instant she got seriously.
“… Those are some pretty harsh conditions.”
When I turned around upon suddenly hearing a voice, I saw Nina gazing into the flames.
It’s true that the forest was vast with many places to hide. Normally speaking, this would make it so that it’d be highly impractical to find someone hiding in it by yourself. However, Violet was an elf. Although it wasn’t the forest she grew up in, I think she should have many ways to search for them…
“Well, whatever. What about food?”
“Ah, whoops. I forgot. Well, there’s fruits and nuts everywhere in the forest, so they can just grab something when they get hungry.”
I don’t think they’ll have enough time to actually hunt… but maybe Rin and Yuuki’s pair might be able to?
“Want me to make their’s while I make mine?
“I’m talking about lunch, obviously.”
Nina shook her head, acting as though I said something stupid.
“Oh, they’re not coming back for lunch. Perhaps I should have set up a rest break for them?”
“… You know—”
Shaking her head once again, Nina sighed.
“They’re not going to last till lunch against Violet.”
“Caught you, Shig.”
I heard Violet’s voice almost simultaneously with what Nina said.
When I turned around in surprise, I saw Violet catching up to Shig in no time flat and grabbing his arm. I only looked away for two or three minutes. When did she…!?
It looked like Luka had managed to escape, as she was dashing away at top speed while keeping an eye on her rear.
“You are me, I am you. Beat with my feet and swing with my arms, we run—shadow clone.”
Once Luka finished the incantation, her shadow suddenly seeped up from the ground and reformed to look exactly like her before continuing to run straight ahead. Seeing her shadow off as it left indistinct footprints on the ground and broke twigs as it ran, Luka stealthily hid behind a shrub so as to not leave any traces of her doing so.
She couldn’t be seen from outside of the shrubbery, but she could see her surroundings rather well. Luka strained to listen with her perky ears as she concentrated on listening for anyone approaching her. She had senses that surpassed even the most excellent hunter due to being a lykoscentaur, her hearing and sense of smell were so sharp that they were incomparable to human senses. If she concentrates, there’s nothing that could get the jump on her.
“Got you, Luka.”
—Other than an elf in a forest, that is.
Her neck caught by the arm that quietly avoided the bushes’ leaves hanging down overhead, Luka let out a queer shriek.
“Oh? Looks like she isn’t putting much strength into it, but the way she’s holding her neck right there’s pretty much impossible to escape without getting your neck dislocated first.”
“Violet isn’t going to injure her right!?”
Hearing Nina’s calm explanation, I shouted out in a panic.
“Don’t worry about it, she wouldn’t do something so imprudent.”
Alighting down to the ground, Violet pat Luka on the head.
“Well then, two more to go.”
Saying that with a smile on her face, her eyes were trained exactly on Yuuki and Rin’s current location.