'This... is going to be a problem, isn't it?'
The four youths consisted of two guys and two girls, with one of them being the very frail-looking man with sunken cheeks. As he was holding a bow and had a quiver sitting on his back, it wasn't hard to conclude that he had been the one to fire at us.
"Tch! Leave it to the lowest-ranked to miss a free shot like that."
The other man wasn't too happy with Henrik's performance as he stepped forward while holding a sword and a shield. With light-brown hair and a slightly less athletic build than George, his very average face already told me a bit about what kind of man Joshua Amin was.
'Nothing special... or at least he won't be any special in the future.'
"Joshua, don't be like that. We already knew that Henrik was useless when we made this group."
A girl with black and blue hair raised the wooden wand in her hand as well, piling up even more insults toward the poor boy while preparing herself for battle. She was almost on the same level of beauty as the two unofficial idols in our class with her mature face adorned with sleek lines, but she didn't quite have the same 'glow'.
'Martha Rue... probably a mage?'
"Guys... shouldn't we focus on those two instead?"
The last of their party, the other girl, held two daggers in her hands, and her long, dark hair was currently in a ponytail. What was weird was that even though her appearance carried a similar matureness to Martha, the words that came out of her mouth were soaked with insecurity.
Her name was Harriet Swarth and she was just one of the many people who I knew nothing about.
What I did know, however, was the fact that we were in a bit of a pickle. Because if I didn't manage to somehow get George to the destination that was shown on the map next to me, the non-lethal exercise would end up being a lot more dangerous than I would have liked it to.
Yet, for some reason, my heart didn't race like I thought it would.
No, as I stood up and readied the dagger that had been lying in wait on my waist, my head was cooling down once again. Instead of panicking, my mind was currently busy trying to find a way out.
'We can't win against them. Maybe if it was George and Eva instead of George and me, but as things stand, we don't stand a chance.'
George was strong, and it was very likely due to his having a rank-three talent already, but even that would likely not be enough for him to fight against four other students.
'Wait a minute... four?'
There were twelve people in each class, which meant that a third of them were currently standing in front of us right now. And that was extremely weird. Because that most likely meant...
"George, we have already won."
Despite him not looking my way, as he didn't want to let our enemies out of his sight, I could see him reacting heavily to my words, completely unable to comprehend what I was talking about.
At the same time, I could see Joshua flinch as well, making his sword and shield bounce a bit.
"What do you mean?"
Once again I spoke, a bit louder than necessary just to make sure our opponents also heard what I was saying.
"They must've decided to make three groups of four for some reason. This means that if they have another group of attackers, they will always be fighting with a numbers disadvantage. And our classmates aren't so weak as to allow themselves to lose during such circumstances."
Now it wasn't just Joshua who reacted to my words, but all four of them started getting a bit antsy due to my reflections. Naturally, I was just speaking somewhat empty words. For all I knew, the B-class might just be strong enough to win regardless, but that didn't matter.
All that mattered was that the group in front of us was now forced to make a choice. Either they engage in battle with us and risk losing the 'war', or they let us go and make sure to help their classmates.
But the best-case scenario would always be...
"Henrik, Martha go to the others..."
"Joshua? What are you...?"
"Hurry! Go! I and Harriet are more than enough to deal with these two!"
It was by far the worst decision that Joshua could have made, but it was also natural for an immature mind to try to get the best of both worlds. And as the skinny boy and the black and blue-haired woman saw their leader's face, they somehow didn't have the inner strength to rebuke him.
And I almost didn't have the inner strength to keep myself from smiling widely as the two of them ran off and disappeared through the thicket of trees around us.
Now, all that was left was to...
The hero dashed forward as soon as the archer and the mage left, catching Joshua completely off-guard, as he was still stuck in his own thoughts.
Somehow, he managed to raise his shield just in time to catch the hero's sword, but from the way he was slowly getting pressed down onto the ground, the difference in strength was too obvious.
"George, get ready!"
Although I would have very much liked to honor their duel, I didn't hesitate to raise my arm, creating a situation where Harriet had to choose between helping her friend or attacking me.
In the end, she hesitated too much as the blue ball of energy made its way toward Joshua, only to hit him right in his defenseless side as his shield was too busy holding back George's sword.
A second later, he was lying on the ground with a sword right next to his neck, and although she had finally readied her two daggers, Harriet also couldn't make a move unless she wanted to risk Joshua's life.
Joshua's eyes were filled with rage and confusion. Confusion because he probably couldn't understand what just happened and rage because of my 'cowardly' way of supporting my classmate.
It was to the point where he couldn't stop himself from speaking a bit too much.
"Shit! I knew that I shouldn't have listened to Mike! Fuck!"
'So it was like that, after all.'
I can't say that I was surprised that Mike had given away the fact that we were going to be on our own, but it was surprising that this event had such an anticlimactic ending.
"I said, do you surrender?"
The dulled sword inched even closer to Joshua's neck as George didn't feel like wasting any time on his antics. However, before the man even got a chance to open his mouth again, a man wearing a black uniform appeared from seemingly nowhere and somehow managed to get in between the hero and Joshua.
"Joshua Amin is eliminated from the competition, and due to her hesitation, Harriet Swarth will also be eliminated."
"What do you mean?! Why would I be...?!"
Just like Harriet, I wasn't quite sure what was happening either as the teacher suddenly declared her to be eliminated as well.
"Because if this was a real fight, your hesitation would have led to you either getting killed or taken advantage of due to the A-class taking a hostage."
It made sense, but at the same time, it didn't.
Ultimately, none of us were going to argue with the words of a teacher, and that included the very angry-looking Joshua who rose to his feet, as well as the regretful Harriet who simply followed him out of the forest with a sad face.
And so, just as quickly as the four had emerged, they were now all gone, leaving behind a confused me and the hero who was now turning his two very, very skeptical eyes toward me.
"Did you know this would happen?"
"Did you know this would happen?"
Looking at the red-eyed man, I just couldn't accept what had just happened.
From the start to the end, he hadn't even taken a second breath in response to the B-class catching us out. Not only that, he immediately managed to make them split up by throwing out some very naïve, but still effective words.
What was unnerving was the combination of these things.
How could he be so calm when his spell proved that he was so weak?
The spell that Alex had launched was proof of this. The only reason that Joshua even fell down from it in the first place was only because of me pressuring him, making it so his stance was off-balance.
And now, when he was looking at me with the same, empty smile that he so often carried, I knew I wasn't about to get a good answer.
"I had no idea. But now that it did happen, let's keep going."
Within a second, Alex was once again on the move and I didn't feel like I had any choice but to follow him further into the forest despite me knowing that we weren't moving according to the directions given to us.