The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 121

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Joint Combat Training 2 (7)

“―Don’t run. You might get hurt.”

The brothers, who had been playing tag along the pier, halted in their tracks. The makeshift pathway, patched up with shoddy wooden planks, came to an end, and they were just about to step onto the beach.

“There could be rocks hidden, so always watch where you’re stepping.”

The older brother turned his head first to look towards the source of the voice. At the spot where the pier met the shoreline, sitting on a gently sloping breakwater, was a clumsy-looking girl with her knees hugged to her chest.

Her blonde hair damp with the morning dew.

The sun, just starting to rise, illuminated her face with a soft smile.

Though she seemed to be their age, there was a curious maturity about her. The boy stared blankly at the girl’s face for a moment before nodding, then he tightly grabbed his younger sibling’s hand and they both dashed towards the beach.

Despite being peers, the girl couldn’t help but feel a protective instinct, prompting her to utter that warning.

“……”

After a while, the girl――Adelle――inhaled the fragrance of a single hyacinth blooming by the sea, then carefully tucked it into her hair.

Then, gazing at the bustling pier in the early dawn, she took another deep breath of the salty morning air.

This was Oldec, the land of merchants.

The empire’s largest trading city, boasting dozens of departures a day, Oldec.

Children from the largest orphanage situated here, the Deldross Orphanage, grew up much faster than their peers.

Without parents to take care of them, they were compelled to quickly become self-sufficient individuals.

Most of them are put to work as soon as they can take care of themselves.

From lugging baskets of water to simple cleaning tasks and wringing out mops to eventually preparing food, laundering clothes, and those skilled with their hands might start woodworking.

Growing up without parents in a brutal society required them to be quickly capable of self-preservation. As harsh as it may seem, there was no choice. This was the policy of Deldross Orphanage.

It was more than just a protective home for children, but a place that prepared them to navigate the dangers of the world on their own.

Perhaps influenced by the atmosphere of Oldec city itself.

Adelle, with her naive appearance, considered these thoughts quietly as she sat, facing the sea breeze.

Even in the early hours of dawn, the pier was alive with workers loading ships.

Merchants drummed their abacuses amidst the noisy crowd, captains checked inventory, and workers haggled over transportation contracts and insurance negotiations.

Humans rising before the sun to toil.

In this bustling city of commerce, diligence and industriousness were paramount virtues.

“There you are, Miss Adelle.”

Suddenly, she noticed the approach of a man striding with hands clasped behind his back from the opposite end of the breakwater.

His clerical garments, though fitting, bore the grime of hard work. He had the visage of a devout clergyman.

“Have you heard the news?”

“You’re being sent to the capital for a bishopric assessment, I heard.”

Adelle swung her legs, seated on the ledge, and grinned broadly.

“Congratulations. Woah, you’ll become a very high-ranking person. Bishop Verdieu!”

The Deldross Orphanage operated under the support of the Telos denomination, a religious institution.

Particularly as the largest orphanage among those in the empire, someone of at least bishop rank was sent to take charge before becoming an archbishop.

Archbishop Verdieu reached Adelle’s side, walking along the breakwater.

The girl’s attire shouted poverty: an overworn skirt, a blouse with fraying cuffs, and straw-colored hair tied with an old rag. Despite that, there was a certain grace to Adelle. Too young and clothed in tatters with simple jewelry, yet that grace remained inexplicably intact.

“Saint Elnir, who blessed the capital, passed away after seven years of administering baptisms. It has been a story since last year.”

Adelle, anticipating what Verdieu might say, didn’t respond but listened attentively.

“For a consecrated prayer towards Telos, the legacy of saints must persist. Our current conundrum is finding someone with divine energy comparable to hers, but you, Miss Adelle….”

“Bishop Verdieu, you think too highly of me. Really….”

She flicked a cosmos flower she held in her other hand as her legs continued to dangle.

“Seeing the future isn’t something I have control over. It’s merely serendipity. Even if it’s by divine energy, how can it be my power if I can’t wield it at will?”

“Miss Adelle, that’s of no consequence.”

Verdieu stood beside her, hands still clasped, peering at the lively pier, a scenery all too familiar to him.

The high clergy of the capital dispatched him to Oldec for a reason: his work ethic closely mirrored that of merchants. Indeed, Verdieu had effortlessly adapted to the culture of Oldec.

“What’s important is… the sheer existence of your extraordinary ability. Seeing the future means bending and twisting the fate of the world created by Telos, particularly the destiny of time. To my knowledge, only celestially powered arc mage can enable such a feat.”

“Arc Mage? I don’t know how to do anything so grand.”

“Perhaps it’s an innate manifestation of divine power, even if you weren’t taught it. That alone is quite remarkable.”

Verdieu’s red ponytail fluttered in the wind, revealing the back of his head.

“To ascend to sainthood is your destined vessel. It’s a tremendous honor for me to have discovered one ahead of anyone else.”

“……”

“Let us head to the capital together. Once you prove your powers to the Divine Emperor, you will be ordained as the next saint. Miss Adelle.”

Adelle was not someone to wither away in the corners of an Oldec orphanage. Verdieu was certain of that.

Adelle lifted her head to look at Verdieu, then smiled again. She extracted a lute strapped over her shoulder and cradled it. Nestled in her arms, the lute seemed to fill her embrace, befitting a child.

After plucking the strings awkwardly a few times and nodding her head to the rhythm, she had recently begun learning. Verdieu too was well aware of her budding musicianship, but her skill was woefully lacking at the moment.

“Seeing the future is more fleeting than one would think, Archbishop.”

“Nobody thinks so.”

“No~ The course of the future can unexpectedly change with the slightest alteration, and despite many hardships, it often resiliently maintains its path.”

The twang of the naïve lute spread through the rowdy shore.

Adelle saw many futures. Without pattern or omen, sudden scenes appeared before her eyes.

Like the future of the orphans gathered around Oldec without parents, she sometimes glimpsed the futures of those who stayed here.

Unaware of their names or traits… the future of these children, as intermittently seen, varied greatly.

A wanderer swordsman traversing the lawless land of Keheln hunting bounties, a young awe-inspiring mage and merchant who seizes financial power in the colossal Elte enterprise, the unprecedented beast tamer to domesticate high-level monsters.

She saw the shining futures of such children, but even Adelle was uncertain if these futures would materialize as seen.

“With countless branches spreading out, seeing just one twig in the flow of time, how valuable can it be? The future can change in unexpected and seemingly insignificant ways.”

“… Is that so?”

“That’s how it goes. There’s still much I don’t understand, ehehe.”

As the girl plucked her lute, looking out to the shore, she spotted the brothers who had run off.

The boys who played tag while running. The older one, after rushing for a while, suddenly stooped to glimpse the ground.

There laid a large rock. Nearly tripping due to his momentum yet narrowly avoiding it, he sprinted off once more.

Without falling, the two brothers ran along the shore, gradually fading into the distance.

“But heading to the capital… I wonder if it’s quieter and more serene than this bustling place….”

Adelle watched them while smiling serenely herself, feeling peaceful as she stared at the shimmering sea under the sunlight.

Finally, for the first time, she entertained the possibility of seeing a glimpse of her own future―’Adelle’s future.’

* * *

“Sister Clarice, you look indisposed. Are you alright?”

The murmuring crowd filled the air.

The day of the Joint Combat Training near the entrance of Gluckt Tower.

Seated next to Ed with a wooden table between them, Clarice could not regain her composure for a while. It was only natural.

Amidst this, by caressing Ed’s face, checking his body for injuries, and bursting into tears, she only stirred the murmuring among the students further.

She couldn’t just sit idly by. So when Ed reached out to the Sister to inquire… she seized his arm abruptly.

“… Sister?”

This was a bolt from the blue for Ed. However, Clarice, as if oblivious to Ed’s reaction or the onlookers’ stares, anxiously pulled him along.

“We have to run away…!”

“Excuse me…?”

“We… let’s run away together…!”

Having weathered too many events in a short span, Clarice was overloaded.

Yet, the harrowing flashes in her muddled mind were vivid:

The sacred dragon covering the island’s sky, the rain of scales, the falling students. Ed’s knowing reaction, Ophelius Hall collapsing, and the final moments where he met his death sheltering the girl in his arms.

The memories rushed past her like a panorama. Following this Joint Combat Training, a shadow of destruction would fall over Acken Island.

It wasn’t a dream. It was a tangible experience, albeit for reasons unknown, she was sent back to the past.

Before calamity strikes… fleeing as far as possible is the best strategy. A reasonable and justifiable course of action.

“There is nothing we can do… just… we need to escape…!”

Choking back tears, Clarice dragged Ed by the arm and strode hastily towards the carriage. Everyone around, from Yenika seated beside them to the multitude of students, became statuesque.

To most observers, her abrupt announcement to flee in broad daylight was far from normal. But as mentioned earlier, the Sister’s mental state was anything but normal.

“No, sister…? Sister…!”

Ed was pulled all the way to the carriage. It wasn’t something he could just shake off.

Clarice promptly instructed the soldiers to put him in the carriage and, with a shove, Ed found himself aboard the sumptuous vehicle belonging to the Sister.

After boarding herself, she commanded the coachman to immediately head for Mekses Bridge.

“But Sister. You should be heading to Triss Hall shortly to receive the Divine Emperor….”

“I will assume full responsibility… just hurry to Mekses Bridge…!”

If it’s now, before the appearance of the sacred dragon, the bridge wouldn’t be crowded.

The Supreme Pontiff and the Archbishop were foremost in her mind. If they were on Acken Island, it was utterly predictable that they would be caught in the dragon’s wrath.

Yet, at the moment, Clarice had no knowledge of their whereabouts. Before turning back time, she had long awaited them at Triss Hall, but they never showed.

Every minute and second were precious. To seek them out and have them comprehend the situation, to cancel all arrangements and have them flee the island was unfeasible. Likely before they could be found, the dragon would descend first.

Clarice’s teeth chattered, beads of sweat forming uncontrollably. As a Sister, she wanted to ensure the Divine Emperor and Archbishop’s safety first… but, ultimately clenching her jaw, she had the carriage set off for Mekses Bridge.

Now… saving those in reach, getting more people out was the right thing to do. It’s impossible to wait around searching for the Supreme Pontiff and the Archbishop, risking squandering this miraculous chance of survival.

At the driver’s bench sat the coachman and knights who had protected the Sister to the end and met their demise in her rescue.

And across from Clarice… sat Ed Rothtaylor, the man who had died protecting the Sister from the rubble at the very end.

Right then, these were the only people Clarice could reach. She longed to take more people with her from the school, but the carriage could only fit so many.

Therefore… she had no choice but to first save those who mattered to her.

The sensation was like weighting human lives on a scale. The chilling sense of sin crawled up Clarice’s spine… yet, even so, she couldn’t bring herself to stop the carriage.

That gargantuan dragon was not a foe humanity could contend with. Yielding to guilt and remaining on Acken Island would amount to nothing more than a senseless death.

“Sister, this cannot continue.”

Ed protested in the rocking carriage.

“Sister, you should be heading to Triss Hall. I also have the Joint Combat Training scheduled, if we continue like this both of us….”

“After the Joint Combat Training ends….”

Whether one believes it or not.

Without expecting belief, Clarice continued speaking.

“A giant dragon will descend upon Acken Island. And then… it will kill us all.”

“…Excuse me?”

Even if she appeared as a madwoman, it mattered not. She just wanted to divulge the truth.

“I was about to die once… but I came back to the past.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know myself…”

Having steeled her resolve, Clarice barely managed to finish speaking.

“Crushed… instead of me… died… so… no matter what happens… ask for help from Senior Ed… Of course, you might not understand what I’m saying right now… but still… that…”

“No, saintess… what exactly… are you…”

It was difficult to believe such a sudden tale straight away. Even putting oneself in the other’s shoes, it was understandably perplexing.

A Saintess of the Order suddenly appeared, dragged him into a carriage, and claimed she had returned from the future.

But for Clarice, this was the absolute truth.

“How am I supposed to react when you say something like that suddenly…?”

“I know it’s hard to believe… but… the only person I can rely on is Senior Ed…”

Amid the chaos, Ed seemed to be the only one who had grasped the gravity of the situation.

And, he was the one who had sacrificed himself to protect the Saintess until his very end.

“No matter what you say… to me…”

“Please… believe me… It’s true… I really saw a dragon…! And all the students dying, and Senior Ed dying to protect me… I saw it all clearly with my own eyes…”

The scenes from that time haunted Clarice, leaving her traumatized. Tears streamed down her face, carrying genuine emotion, yet Ed was still perplexed.

Clarice wiped her tears repeatedly and then finally remembered Ed’s last words.

“Saintess… perhaps we should stop the carriage and talk.”

“One… five…”

Ed, with a troubled expression, initially tried to calm Clarice down, but she continued undeterred.

“One five… zero five zero zero one six zero… Yes… one five, zero five zero zero one six zero…!”

“What…? Suddenly… what is that?”

Suddenly, a familiar sequence of numbers halted Ed’s speech.

It wasn’t a sequence of numbers Ed Rothtaylor remembered.

Across distant worlds, before living as a fallen noble, it was a tale from before.

Perhaps Ed had also spoken it in segments before his death.

Reaching this realization, Ed’s mind flashed to the familiar sequence of numbers.

15-500160.

That was the military identification number he remembered before crossing into this world.

Instantly, Ed’s expression hardened. Such information could not be known by anyone but himself.

Obviously, Ed had never shared this information with Saintess Clarice.

Yet, the exact sequence of numbers she recalled lent immense credibility to her words.

—Creak.

Suddenly, the carriage stopped. The driver’s window opened, and the coachman reported,

“Saintess, there are inspection troops at the Mekses Bridge. Currently, goods from the Elte Trading Company are crossing, causing some chaos due to the goods wagons and mercenary escorts. We are asked to wait a bit.”

“Now…?”

“Yes. It seems there was a backlog due to a dignitary’s procession. It’s difficult to clear all these carriages quickly, so we may have to wait a while…”

“Just break through.”

Ed, sitting opposite, threw open the driver’s window and spoke.

“… Excuse me?”

“We will take responsibility for the situation. It’s urgent, so break through as soon as there’s space.”

“Well… there might be some issues from the academy…”

“Don’t worry about that. Or is it impossible due to the space constraints?”

The coachman hesitated and looked towards the Mekses Bridge.

Elte’s trading carriages were crowded, and mercenaries were haphazardly arranged on both sides.

While there was space beyond the bridge, the arrangement of the carriages and mercenaries made a breakthrough seem difficult. Yet, to an experienced coachman,

“… I’ve been a coachman for 22 years. If you can endure some shaking… with some exaggeration, even the ocean would seem easy to cross.”

“Very well.”

Ed closed the driver’s window and firmly shut the windows on both sides where the Saintess sat.

Facing the Saintess, who was visibly confused, he spoke with a seriousness that had not been there before.

“Please explain everything again, slowly, without omitting anything.”

As if he had gained an army, Clarice sniffled and swallowed her breath.

“I… I…”

—Crash!

At that moment, the carriage violently shook. It was the impact of breaking through the inspection.

“If Ophelius Hall has fallen, then indeed there would be no safe place left on Acken Island. Choosing to flee was a wise decision.”

Ed accurately assessed the situation just from Clarice’s trembling narrative.

“And if you say time has reversed… it must involve Divine Magic.”

“Divine… Magic?”

“Since you are a student of the magic department, saintess, you would have at least heard mention of it during the first year curriculum.”

Clarice nodded from within Ed’s embrace. Despite the carriage’s jolts becoming bearable, she clung to him like a newborn baby.

With no time to question further, Ed didn’t dwell on it.

“Among existing magical theories, only Divine Magic can interfere with time. However… a magic powerful enough to rewind time on such a massive scale… cannot be produced by human mana alone.”

“Is that so…?”

“So, it’s unlikely that only Divine Magic was involved. Either a massive external source of mana was utilized, or divine power from the gods was harnessed… then it’s a different story. However, the former would require a long preparation period and large-scale magical engineering, while the latter would consume a vast amount of divine power.”

“Divine power…”

“Yes… Sacred Techniques. Not something just anyone can use.”

The sacred techniques used by the Telos Order’s paladins and high priests often intervened directly in the efficiency of mana.

Yet, combining it with Divine Magic was strictly experimental. Large-scale Divine Magic itself was scarcely studied, and time-related magic was considered taboo, making it difficult for priests to access.

Even professional magicians often deemed Divine Magic a realm of mystery, let alone devout priests attempting to combine it with sacred techniques.

“It seems very likely that high-ranking clergy were involved.”

“I see… So that’s why…”

Just before Ophelius Hall collapsed, Ed had been pondering something while looking at the sky, and now it all made sense.

Even as the situation grew urgent, Ed was analyzing the cause.

“I don’t know why such a risky attempt was made, but we should be thankful it saved our lives.”

“We must make the most of this opportunity… First, we’ll explain the situation and seek help once we reach the territory of Lord Jazul. This should also alert the royal court. Whether that can stop the great dragon, I’m not sure.”

“We must try whatever we can. By the way, saintess… You seem to be sweating.”

Upon hearing this, Clarice’s shoulders shivered and she blushed. Before she knew it, she had burrowed so deep into Ed’s embrace that she was clutching at his collar.

But she couldn’t help it. Being by his side, who maintained his composure even in such dire times, brought her an inexplicable sense of relief.

His calm demeanor had allowed her to keep her own composure, where most girls her age would have collapsed in tears.

“Just a moment…”

Clarice said, snuggling deeper into Ed’s embrace. She wanted to stay this way at least while the carriage was moving.

“Well… as you wish…”

As Ed spoke and lowered his arms, she felt another wave of relief and sought to indulge in this fleeting peace—

Then a roar tore through the sky.

It was the very sound from her nightmare.

They had traveled quite a distance from Acken Island by now. Mekses Bridge, and even Mount Orten, appeared as mere parts of the distant landscape.

But the colossal dragon… its size was overwhelming even from such a distance. Its presence was distinctly felt, its enormity more real because it was viewed from afar. A dragon so vast, it could obliterate the Sylvania Academy with a mere kick.

“Ah… Eek…!”

A nightmare rekindled, but this time they had escaped. Reminding herself of this fact, Clarice tried to regain her composure within Ed’s embrace—

Then a tremendous crash and a whirring of magic enveloped them.

It was the activation of ‘Sacred Protection,’ which enshrouded the Saintess’s body.

Sacred Protection defended Clarice’s body from malevolent attacks, not from natural disasters or accidents, but from intended harm.

This meant a considerable attack had hit the carriage. The familiar sound of the carriage walls being shattered resonated.

The Sacred Dragon Bellbrook’s attack knew almost no range limits.

The rain of scales from the Sacred Dragon that enveloped Acken Island meant that no matter how fast the carriage raced across the plains, it couldn’t escape its reach.

However, the farther away they were, the less dense and powerful the attack.

Much more manageable than a direct hit, though the activated Sacred Protection was significantly weaker.

Yet the carriage couldn’t withstand it. One of the wheels shattered under the impact, and the diagonal wheel came off, eventually causing the carriage to collapse.

“Ah, ahhhhh!”

After several violent jolts and twists, the Saintess’s carriage met its end.

Lying in the dust of the overturned carriage, the Saintess barely opened her eyes.

“Are you alright, saintess?”

“Yes, yes… I’m fine…”

She said, looking up at Ed within her embrace. He was bleeding profusely from his head, already severely injured by several scales.

The distant sounds of battle from Acken Island filled the plains.

The magic of the Sacred Dragon and the counterattacks of the magicians lit up the sky like fireworks.

In the midst of this, the wounded Ed… managed to rise within the overturned carriage. Luckily, it was not a fatal injury.

“Ed, senior…!”

“It’s okay. I was holding the Saintess, so Sacred Protection shielded many vital areas and organs.”

He looked far from okay.

While his neck and abdomen were relatively unharmed thanks to the Saintess, one arm was drenched in blood, and his thigh showed a gaping wound. Nevertheless, Ed gritted his teeth, stood up, and kicked open the carriage door facing the sky.

Pushing the Saintess out first, he too clenched his teeth and emerged from the carriage.

“Heaving, heaving…”

“Ah, ah…”

The horses were already decapitated.

The knights and coachmen too had been directly hit by the scale magic, unprotected by the outer walls of the carriage, suffering fatal injuries as the carriage rolled over the ground.

The bodies of the coachmen and soldiers sprawled along the path the carriage had rolled were a ghastly sight.

“Saintess… if we cross this forest region… we’ll reach Lord Jazul’s territory…”

Ed tore his collar to bandage his wounds and staggered to his feet.

“We must keep moving.”

Clutching her trembling chest, Clarice barely managed to stand.

Then, supporting the battered Ed, they staggered across the plains.

Behind them, the battle between the Sacred Dragon and the magicians continued.

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