The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 11

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Dean’s Interview (2)

Sylvania Academy is so vast that its organizational structure is obscenely complicated.

Yet, as is often the case with organizations, the higher up you go, the simpler it gets. While the organizational chart, spread out before you, may resemble a spider’s web, if you detach and look solely at the top portion, it couldn’t be simpler.

McDowell, who serves as the dean of Sylvania’s Department of Magic and holds the post of the highest amongst the three deans, belongs to that straightforward segment of the chart.

Descending from the top, his name appears right at the second fork. He is in the position that comes immediately after the vice-principal.

“The academic staff hasn’t begun the expulsion process for you. Well, they must have decided it was unnecessary.”

McDowell, with his bushy beard and old-fashioned monocle, might seem laid-back, but his demeanor towards me was anything but.

I did not even bring the tea the dean’s secretary had poured to my lips. The atmosphere was obviously not friendly.

“Why bother with the hassle of combing through the academic regulations to expel you, going through a disciplinary committee according to the rules, and following those procedures to kick you out?”

The dean across from me said with a firm face.

It’s a surprising fact that this authoritative attitude is just the surface of Dean McDowell.

He acts dominantly to mask his gentle and compassionate nature.

You wouldn’t know this unless you progressed with the sub-quests, but having experienced many hardships and completed various concept plays, this isn’t such a surprise to me.

To serve as a dean in a place like the Department of Magic, which is a hotbed of eccentrics, one inevitably must hold an intimidating demeanor.

The political arena of academia is full of those who will climb over you if you appear weak. It’s commendable that he maintains his character.

“If that doesn’t work, then I shall proceed with the expulsion through administrative authority.”

That’s why I was utterly puzzled. There were two reasons why this encounter perplexed me.

First, as mentioned before, why would Dean McDowell, who normally avoids confrontation with students, behave in such a threatening manner?

Second is his status.

As the dean of Sylvania’s Department of Magic and the highest amongst the three deans, he shouldn’t need to concern himself with the expulsion of individual students or the process thereof. Rather, he is the one who reviews and approves the execution plans.

With each position comes its respective duties.

Having a student called into the office to discuss their expulsion is odd – akin to visiting the local government office for a copy of the family register and finding the mayor attending to the public service.

“Do you have anything to say in your defense?”

Typically, a normal student wouldn’t think this far. They would be panicking just from being summoned by a high-ranking official and told they are expelled.

After pondering this, the intention became clear to me.

Causing me disconcertion was the intention all along.

“It’s a valid point you’ve made.”

So, I decided to respond with that before thinking it through a bit more.

A lavish and grand reception room, an unexpected call amidst an official ceremony like an opening ceremony, a meeting with a high-status person well-dressed, an aggressive and intimidating attitude, a situation blind with the threat of expulsion.

The higher-ups are skilled at creating such situational pressure.

The intention was to observe my reaction.

Inevitably, that leads to the question: Why?

Ed Rothtaylor is merely a student with a slightly noble bloodline. He’s not outstanding in magical talent, nor did he excel in his written exams.

In Sylvania, even that so-called noble lineage is nothing more than an odd name card. The place is filled with children of nobility and the wealthy, and even a princess is among the students.

For Ed Rothtaylor, a mere student, such a precious time is halved to have a one-on-one.

There were few possibilities. I sighed internally.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to Princess Phoenia. Looking after her subjects even on the grounds of learning, and always being attentive to the little things.”

A comment thrown casually.

Discussing expulsion, then abruptly bringing up the princess amid a conversation about something utterly unrelated. It would seem nonsensical.

Suddenly, what nonsense is this? Why is that story coming up now?

Such a response must follow.

“What did you say?”

But then a slight furrow appears for just a moment. Although brief, I caught that reaction.

“What do you mean by that?”

However, the other party has been holding the position of top dean for over five years. It took less than a second to recover the momentarily unravelled poker face.

But that brief moment of disconcertion was enough to realize the truth.

As expected.

If a position that can afford to investigate me involves the top dean, then only Headmaster Obel, Vice-Principal Reyna, and Princess Phoenia could be candidates.

The principal or vice-principal, who I have no real interaction with, have no reason to test me. On the other hand, Princess Phoenia’s case is much more plausible.

Even in a place that values the virtues of education over social status, the princess’s words can’t be ignored.

It’s quite characteristic of Princess Phoenia.

She could have had soldiers bring me in, tie me up, and demand, “If you don’t want to be expelled, confess everything about yourself.”

Maybe she thought that wouldn’t actually get my true intentions out.

Or perhaps she thought such barbaric and coercive methods weren’t her style and were pointless.

Probably both.

Looking at the results, it was the right decision.

Tied up and interrogated, I wouldn’t have confessed to actually being possessed, telling them that I’m a separate entity from this person known as Ed Rothtaylor.

Who’d want to be treated as a madman unnecessarily?

Certainly, she would’ve explored other methods.

“No, I misspoke. I apologize. Ha ha… Silly me… I’m just nervous… Ha ha ha ha ha…”

I stumbled over my words uncomfortably, scratching the back of my head with feigned embarrassment. I gave a dumb laugh, but Dean McDowell’s eyes, previously looking at me, sharpened even further.

He’s quite perceptive.

He’d seen through my attempt to gauge him.

Oh no… It seems like the push and pull went too far.

“I was just… considering what the ‘right answer’ could be.”

I decided just to go forward boldly.

“I’m wondering what reason you have for summoning a mere student like me to size up my worth… what could the ‘right answer’ possibly be?”

An expulsion sentence is just nominal, I’m aware of that.

I laid that out as a premise. It implied that I had some understanding of your intentions, without expressly saying so.

Had the other party been oppressive and high-handed, it would have had the opposite effect. They may get offended by the suggestion of being faced off against.

But I knew this about Dean McDowell – as far as that aspect, he isn’t unduly authoritative.

“To be honest, I believe the actions I took were wrong, but… I don’t think they were wrong enough to warrant expulsion.”

“If one were to rifle through the academic internal rules, they would find enough to justify expulsion.”

“Rules and regulations are always vague and open to interpretation, aren’t they? That’s why there’s a disciplinary committee, and why the accused student is given a chance to speak.”

I decided to go with a principled response.

“Then I have no choice but to make full use of the opportunity given to me. I must convince the disciplinary committee as best I can, post bulletins around the campus, and try to sway my peers. I’ll have to make an appeal for this injustice inflicted upon me.”

For the academy, this scenario would be a headache.

“Are you threatening me now?”

“Not at all. I’m quite serious.”

I said with conviction.

After all, it’s impossibly absurd for a student facing expulsion to intimidate the very top dean.

If they set their mind to expelling me, they could ignore these minor eruptions of dissent. It might be noisy and bothersome for a while, but that would be the end of it. After all, there was little chance of any fellow students taking Ed Rothtaylor’s side.

“I will simply do everything within my power. If I end up expelled… well, so be it. But to be expelled without doing anything would surely leave me with regrets later on.”

After saying as much, I took a sip of the tea the secretary had brought.

“Is this the… ‘right answer’?”

It’s like an exchange with masks on. I’m sure it’s the same for the other side.

Silence for a moment.

McDowell gazed at me with his chin resting on his hand, then finally spoke up again.

“Princess Phoenia made some cryptic comments about you. Now, I can somewhat sympathize with what she said.”

A private conversation revealing insights into another’s character, a gift apparently inherited by the princess who took an interest in me.

There was no explicit mention, but we both knew the fact.

“You’re cunning like a fox, but not reprehensible.”

“If you put it that way, it makes me seem like I’m up to no good, doesn’t it?”

“Compared to other students who grew nervous just by being presented here, you are calm.”

Had I been too calm? The thought crossed my mind. Even if it was a misstep, it was too late to take it back now.

“Nonetheless, you may leave. Whether or not your answer is the ‘right’ one, I shall reserve my judgment.”

“Then, what about the expulsion…?”

Upon my question, Dean McDowell chuckled. The first genuine reaction I had seen from him.

“You’re truly adroit.”

There was never an intention to expel. You’ve seen through this fact, haven’t you?

His roundabout way of expressing the point was now the McDowell I knew.

*

That was close…!

As I added firewood to the campfire, I sighed in relief.

I’m not entirely sure what transpired, but I feel like it may be an important turning point for my future actions.

Though I say that, a wrong answer might have truly cost me my figurative head.

Glancing at McDowell on my way out, the relaxed, smiling figure was gone, and he had returned to his contemplative, serious self.

He was earnestly sizing me up.

He’s someone I can’t afford to take lightly.

Anyway, the die has been cast, and all I can do is focus on what I must do.

[ New Completed Item ]

A makeshift drying rack, crudely built out of wood to dry clothes or food. The supports aren’t sturdy enough to bear too much weight.

Difficulty of Creation: ●○○○○ [ Creation complete. Craft proficiency has increased. ]

Wiping sweat from my brow, I admired the finished drying rack, and it brought welcome news. I felt the need to check my life skills; with all the commotion and busyness, I hadn’t had a chance to check my proficiency in detail.

[ Detailed Life Ability ]

Rank: Novice Artisan Specialization: Carpentry Dexterous Hands Lv 10 Design Lv 2 Gathering Ability Lv 3 Carpentry Lv 7 Fishing Lv 3 Cooking Lv 4

A proficiency level of 10 in Dexterous Hands…

Dexterous Hands is a foundational skill for all life-skills and is most closely related to the overall stat of dexterity.

As the proficiency level of Dexterous Hands increases, the growth rate of other skills also sees a noticeable boost.

Moreover, reaching skill proficiency level 10 is quite significant. It means you’ve essentially mastered the basics of that skill.

Once proficiency level 10 is crossed, the required experience to advance to the next level increases significantly. Proper ‘investment’ is now required.

I collapsed onto a flat rock, surrendering to the heat of the campfire.

Compared to the sofas of the dean’s office, it’s uncomfortable and cold. Yet, ever since I arrived in this world, I feel as though the rock perfectly matches my behind.

Sitting comfortably in my now-familiar camp, I opened and closed my hands before me.

“Indeed… Perhaps he should not have been born a noble?”

Life-skills, compared to combat and magic, seem to grow rapidly.

Inborn flair means little if not supported by the environment. If he’d been pampered as a noble, these abilities would’ve been wasted.

Well, actual crafting or cooking, and even mending might be considered beneath his station. Given his status, there was no helping it.

“Still, after all that toil, it feels like I’ve managed to create a survivable environment.”

My camp, built with my own hands, has become dear to me, though it might seem homeless compared to Sylvania’s excellent facilities in Ophelius Hall.

And since I had a feast at the opening ceremony, hunger isn’t an issue. It seems I could just fall asleep like this.

“But I can’t allow myself to just doze off.”

The ceremony was brief, leaving plenty of time. And unlike the rush to avoid being late in the morning, I leisurely walked on my way home and still had energy to spare.

I picked up a few books that were scattered on the grass. Instead of sleeping, I planned to read before it got darker. The books were from the professors’ library, about various edible plants and wild herbs.

Knowledge equates to survival. As my ability to distinguish edible plants improves, so too will my dietary options.

“It’d be nice to make a workbench or reading stand. I’ll give it a try this weekend.”

With that thought in mind, I lay back on the makeshift wooden shelter and opened a book.

Ten seconds later, I was asleep, practically knocked out.

I was, after all, a bit weary….

*

In a corner of the professors’ building, Dean McDowell’s office for the Department of Magic remained quiet.

McDowell rested his chin on his hand, sitting on the reception couch long after Ed Rothtaylor departed.

“Hmm…”

Despite a mountain of paperwork requiring his attention, he remained motionless, lost in thought.

The dean’s secretary, who was tidying up documents, sighed quietly, so as to not catch McDowell’s notice.

It had been a while since McDowell had sunk into such a deep reverie, doing nothing.

Work was piling up, of course, and the secretary’s permission to leave often didn’t come on time.

It seems another day has gone without leaving on schedule, and as that realization dawned, the secretary continued to delay…

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