A Game of Tag
Alright everyone, that’s enough. Time to eat!
—Scarlet Magic Academy’s Vice-President, Nina
“… This is a little troubling.”
Pressing a hand to her forehead, Violet looked at the spring as she tilted her head. In the deep bottom of the water, Rin could be seen. However, although this was hide and seek, the rule was that you wouldn’t be defeated so long as you weren’t touched. She needed to somehow get close to Rin underwater.
Just like how the forest was Violet’s territory, so was the water Rin’s. Although it wasn’t as though Violet couldn’t swim, it was sheer folly to attempt to capture a mermaid underwater.
After hesitating over what to do for a little while, Violet left the area. Although Rin was staying still at the bottom, she was an excessively energetic girl. She quickly grew tired of waiting and became impatient, so she swam up to the surface to look around and make sure that Violet had left.
“Rin, watch out!”
Hearing Yuuki’s warning the moment she approached the shore, Rin quickly dove back into the water. Violet, her body clad in leaves to mimicry the trees, reached out her hand and grew thorny vines from her fingertips. The thorns caught Rin’s tail, however…
Together with a shout, Rin shot something out from the water and easily tore through the vine rope.
“Mentor, what about that?”
“Hmm. I guess she’s safe. You have to touch them with your own body.”
“The thorns are like a part of me though…”
Unexpectedly, Violet complained. She was probably feeling a bit vexed at losing her target. She looked about, but Yuuki had erased signs of her presence completely.
As if to tease Violet, Rin sent bubbles up to the surface.
“Mentor, this is Rin’s home, correct?”
Violet spoke in her usual calm tone.
“Would it be a problem if I made it unlivable for a while?”
Oh, it looks like she’s more annoyed than I thought.
“That would be a bit much… Rin, if you don’t want it to be destroyed, get out, okay?”
I transmitted my words to Rin. Violet looked like she was growing impatient.
“Please do something to prevent it then, alright?”
Saying that, Violet raised her arm and grew briers all over it, hands included. It grew larger and larger, eventually resembling what looked like a gigantic glove. Honestly, it looked exactly like a glove a giant would wear.
She then placed her hand into the spring. Although Rin did her best to avoid the fingers, Violet wasn’t aiming for her. Far down in the water was a great big rock.
“I, am strong.”
Putting her finger onto the edge of the rock, Violet recited an incantation. It’s the Swordsaint’s—!
The thorn glove expanded even further and lifted the rock with a jerk. When she pulled it up to the surface, she threw it away to the side. Where she threw it was the entrance for the spring’s source of water. A small river of flowing water.
The spring had a single stream where water came into it two where water left. By damming up its only entrance, she intended to dry it up.
Just as Violet went to grab a second rock, Rin started vigorously producing more bubbles. Upon taking a closer look, the bubbles she’d been producing for a while now were drifting in the water, none of them had disappeared. Pushed on by the newly produced bubbles, they jumped out of the water’s surface and began to enclose around Violet.
Even so, it wasn’t as though the bubbles were some offensive ability. They were just ordinary, powerless bubbles. Which meant—it was a feint!
Violet, arriving at the same conclusion as me, lifted her free left arm and produced a thorn sword. Then, an instant later, Violet used her sword to clash against the one that came at her from the trees above.
“Ah, you realized!”
What Yuuki was holding wasn’t her usual stone sword. She probably figured that it would be a bad idea to use bladed weapons in a game of hide and seek. It was just a long, wooden stick. That said, it appeared to be strengthened through magic as it was able to hold up against Violet’s sword unharmed. Violet reached her hand out toward her, so Yuuki quickly took a distance. Unlike their match from before, this was hide and seek. Even if she could defeat Violet, Yuuki wouldn’t win. All Violet had to do to win was touch Yuuki. No matter how good Yuuki was, winning a one on one against her with that condition was too hard.
—But this wasn’t a one on one.
Resurfacing, Rin shouted at Violet from behind. Well done. Yuuki had just escaped to a position that placed Violet directly between her and Rin. She then used magic to shoot a bubble… no, a water ball. Was that what she used to cut through the vine a bit ago?
Violet immediately caught the blow using her thorn glove as a shield, but the water ball had enough force behind it to tear through the thorns. Moreover, Rin could shoot them rapidly. Although Rin’s aim was insufficient even with her using an incantation due to her lackadaisical personality, dodging so many of them shot back to back looked like it was tough on Violet.
“You are slow!”
Just then, Yuuki used her magic. It caused Violet to lose her balance, however…
“I am fast!”
It was was immediately countered by her own magic.
Even Violet found it impossible to move normally while strengthened through magic. Therefore, she burdened herself with the thorn glove as well as waited until she could counter Yuuki’s magic with it. What a wonderful plan.
However, Yuuki wasn’t one to miss a chance presented to her. At practically the same time as Violet did that, Yuuki aimed low with an attack. It was something that Violet, who’d lost her balance, wouldn’t be able to cope with.
Yet Violet lept up into the air through very unnatural movements and dodged it.
Even if Violet could have done something like roll to avoid the blow, there’s no way she should have been able to jump with the stance she’d had. Not foreseeing the turn of events, Yuuki opened her eyes wide. Violet had extended a vine from her arm and latched onto a tree branch, using it much like an action wire.
She then extended another thorny vine to a different tree and used it to move through the air. This method of moving about was what she’d used to catch up to the other students so swiftly.
Unable to do anything, Yuuki looked up at Violet moving around at high speeds overhead. Rin shot more water balls at Violet, but none connected due to how fast she was moving. While this was happening, Violet extended another vine to Yuuki to catch her.
Even so, Yuuki wouldn’t allow herself to be caught so easily. She slapped it away with the wooden stick in her hand, cutting it through. Her balance destroyed once more through the shock of that attack, Violet fell to the ground.
—However, this was a trap.
It enticed Rin to shoot her water balls lower down to collide with Violet. Unfortunately, Yuuki was now in the path of those balls.
It turned into a great example of friendly fire. Yuuki, having grown entirely negligent of Rin, was struck in the back by the water balls and got knocked tumbling. Her body was then surrounded by Violet’s thorn vines.
“Not like this…!”
Yuuki tried to cut away the vines with her stick by thrusting it between them, but the vines lifted her body up into the air before she was able to and flung her away.
“E-eh, ummm, hah!”
If Yuuki kept on as is, she’d collide right into Rin, who’d popped up through the water’s surface. Rin opened her arms wide and caught Yuuki. However, unable to absorb the impact entirely, the two of them shot down into the water.
Yuuki did her best to get out of Rin’s hold on her, but it was already too late. Two huge, thorn-made hands enclosed them and grasped them firmly.
If it were just Rin there, it probably wouldn’t have went so simply. Capturing the girl who was able to swim freely through the water while launching water balls to keep her distance would have been a herculean undertaking. However, Violet had thrown Yuuki at her to give herself a chance at catching them both. Violet’s split-second decision led to her victory.
“See? Told you they wouldn’t make it till noon.”
Pointing to the sun that was just now beginning to reach its zenith, Nina spoke in triumph.
“Yeah, looks like you were right. Let’s go have lunch with every—”
“Mentor, one more time! Let us try it one more time!”
Interrupting me, Shig spoke up in frustration.
“Wouldn’t it be be alright to wait until after…”
“Umm, Mentor, I would also like to try again. I’m not hungry yet, so…”
Then even Luka started to ask for the same.
“Me too! I wanna do it too!”
“Big broooother! I wanna do it another time too!”
Agreeing with the others, Rin and Yuuki spoke up in insistence as well.
“I don’t particularly mind… but what to do…?”
I meant about not eating. It wasn’t too much of a problem for Luka as her species could go a while without eating, but the others were still growing children that needed to eat regularly.
“Couldn’t you all just wait until after eating?”
Shig shouted in response to Nina. With that, Nina narrowed her eyes and glared at him. It was something she did whenever she felt irritated at something.
“Alright then, sure. Let’s do it again. Just—”
Nina spoke in a penetratingly cold voice.
“This time, I’ll be it.”
After that, everyone—Violet included—was caught within five minutes.