"Everyone, good morning!"
Usagi-sensei stood on the podium as she posed in a cutesy manner.
"I believe everyone has settled on a Duo now, congratulations. Now, I am sure you guys already reconfigured your seats, right?"
Usa-sensei glanced at the last row of the classroom. There is a certain youth who is currently by himself. She had a cheeky grin on when she started teasing the guy.
"Oya oya, looks like someone doesn't have a Duo."
Everyone turned towards the student being singled out.
Noah looked at the scenery outside as if this all didn't concern him.
Indeed, Noah didn't partner up with another student. Nobody is capable enough to pair up with him.
Imari and Julie partnered up as they moved out of Noah's room. Tomoe and Tachibana also became duos. Meanwhile, Aoi and Tohru became duos too. Most of the students in the class found a fitting partner. They reconfigured their seats in the classroom to sit with their Duos. They also moved into the same dorm rooms as their Duos. Noah thought the school would arrange a Duo for him. He never considered the possibility that all first-year students would find their own Duos leaving him as the only one out.
After rounds of trials and gruesome exercises, the First-year students dwindled down to 41 students. After the students formed 20 pairs, there is only one student left, Noah.
Noah didn't anticipate this outcome. However, this seemed like a better alternative than partnering up with the school's choice. Doing so would entail staying in the same room as a stranger, something Noah wouldn't like to do. For Noah, there is beauty in sitting alone in the classroom and chilling alone in his dorm room.
Imari and julie looked at Noah. The person in question appears to be nonchalant about his awkward situation.
"You are by yourself?"
"Teacher, can he continue without a Duo?"
"Well, even if you ask me, there's no way lil ol' me can pull a rabbit out of the hat to pair up with this lone wolf."
"But, we have incredible exercises coming up, I am sure some of you are going to quit. Maybe someone would pair up with this Irregular then."
The class isn't too happy to hear this revelation.
"With the Duos roster set, we are now going to start our Blaze training."
Usa-sensei continued as if she couldn't sense the heavy air in the room.
"Right, next week, we are going to permit the use of Blaze in mock battles known as New Duos battles."
The students inhaled deeply.
They are as shocked as they are intimidated by the idea.
Imari also gasped.
"They expect us to fight next week?"
Noah also frowned. This school is encouraging violence over the pursuit of knowledge, that much is evident.
The Blaze are basically weapons that can inflict spiritual damage. Although these weapons can't make people bleed, smashing each other with weapons isn't exactly the best idea especially when most of the students are rookies.
Plus, these weapons had untold secrets and are literal manifestations of students' souls, telling them to fight with these weapons probably isn't the best idea.
Fortunately, the school forbids the usage of Blaze outside of permitted lessons. Anyone who disregards this rule will be severely punished.
Kouryou Academy teaches the students how to fight and develop as Exceed. It is only natural that the school would install lessons on Blaze usage. The students didn't think it would be this soon.
"Alright, listen up, here are the rules of the New Duos Battles."
Usa-sensei made rabbit ears with her palms near her head.
"First, we need to decide the time and place. We will do this next Saturday before the Golden Week starts. The time will be 5 p.m., I expect us to be done by 7'o clock in the night. The venue is the northern plains of the academy, the clock's toll shall be the signal."
"As for the enemies..."
Usa-sensei smirked. She lifted her index finger.
"Everyone except your Duo is the enemy!"
Noah raised an eyebrow.
Imari raised her arm before standing up.
"Isn't this very unfair for Noah? He has no Duo?"
"Ara ara, ponytail-chan, are you for real?"
"You're saying this is unfair for the Irregular who defeated a trained Exceed with his average strength using pure skills and technique. If anything, his participation is unfair for rookies who just trained a week with their Duos, wouldn't you say so?"
Imari held her breath.
Even the other students exchanged bitter looks.
Usa-sensei has a point, even without a duo, Noah is a very formidable opponent by himself.
He had astonishing mastery in various martial arts and he displayed ample battle experience during past exercises.
He is also in possession of Blaze which classified him as an Irregular.
Exceeds are just enhanced humans. Rank I Exceeds can't dodge bullets. Doing so would require Exceed rank of IV or higher.
At this stage, almost none of them can win a fight against Noah's hot steel weapon with their cold steel weapons.
"As you all know, the Astar Marks have levels. At the end of each school year, students are allowed to participate in Sublimation Ceremonies. Those who have trained hard will be able to level up."
Usa-sensei continued to cheer the students up.
"But, for this New Duos Battle, the Duo with the best results will be granted one special sublimation chance."
The students were elated to hear this. Noah who was barely listening suddenly developed an interest in this topic.
He sat up straight.
Other than looking for the World Fragment, Noah wanted to understand and deepen his mastery of Astar marks. It is something that enhanced his magic and mental prowess after all.
At the end of the year, everyone will get a chance, sure, but that is no guarantee of successful sublimation. The rational conclusion is to try and obtain as many chances of sublimation as possible to maximize sublimation instances. Noah knew this too.
Usa-sensei read Noah's mind and she grinned.
That smile had a hint of malevolence in it.