The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 122

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Joint Combat Practice 2 (8)

The only option now was to flee. After coming to that conclusion, they had been on the run for hours.

Ed and Clarice, having entered the outskirts of the Cranbel Great Forest, did not pause and kept moving forward.

If they could reach the domain of the Jazhul border lord and ask for help, perhaps at least the two of them could save their lives.

Holding onto that hope, they continued through the forest.

Ed was already bleeding profusely. Alone, he could barely walk straight due to the staggering.

Clarice supported him, clenching her teeth with her inadequate strength.

― Boom! Cracklecracklecrash!

The sound of doom spreading across the Acken islands rang out.

They had traveled several kilometers away from the source, but the sound could still be heard. The dragon-like shape filling the skies held a majestic presence far on the horizon, even more than when viewed from Acken Island.

“At least… if we get out of range… then… no matter how many days it takes, we can reach the domain of the Jazhul lord…. Please, hold on just a little longer…. Senior Ed….”

Despite her tears, Clarice did not let her strength falter.

However, as a saint who had lived a life of worship within the halls of the holy, her strength was feeble compared to other girls of her age.

Her slender, pale arms could hardly sustain the sturdy body of Ed. As she struggled to keep moving with her trembling body, Ed’s increasingly lax frame began to weigh her down.

“Cough… Sob… Sob….”

Trying to maintain balance while intermittently staggering, Clarice supported Ed, tears streaming down her face. She drew upon her limited magical power to apply a holy technique to press upon Ed’s wounds, but it was impossible to cover all his injuries on her own.

Grinding her teeth, she continued to push through the forest, drenched in blood, as if possessed by a phantom, repeating the same words over and over.

“It’s okay. It’s okay. We just need to go a little further. The territory of the Jazhul lord is just ahead. So please… just hold on a little longer….”

Ed’s injuries were severe at first glance. The pain surging from those wounds was almost unbearable.

Yet Ed clenched his teeth, not uttering a single word of complaint, enduring the agony. Such mental fortitude was truly admirable.

Clarice constantly drew upon her magical power to compress the wound and minimize the bleeding, but she could not address the physical wounds themselves. Only the high-ranking holy technique practitioners of the holy capital could fully erase such injuries.

She could try imitating their powers to some extent, but the magical efficiency would be disastrous, leaving her exhausted without having healed even half of Ed’s critical injuries. Reviving a life so close to death’s edge was incredibly difficult.

“Why… can’t I do anything… Why can’t I do anything… Sob… Sob….”

Biting down on her tears, Clarice continued to pull Ed through the forest. The cries of the divine dragon still resonated across the sky.

Although she was endowed with an exceptional amount of holy power and corresponding magical strength as a saintess, she lacked the proper utilization. After all, she came to Sylvanie to learn how to harness the magic that coursed through her body.

All she had was the holy protection that cloaked her body, a blessing that helped her avoid death in almost every circumstance. However, even this could not protect Ed.

“This kind of blessing… I would rather it belonged to someone else… Instead of someone like me….”

As she gazed down at Ed, she repeated these thoughts, but the blessing embedded within her could not be transferred elsewhere.

Watching the color drain from Ed’s face, Clarice moved forward once more, grinding her teeth together.

“This isn’t the time…. We can make it this time…. You can do it….”

―Roaaarrrr!!!

The roar of the divine dragon echoed again in the sky. At that familiar sound, Clarice knew.

It was coming again.

The scaly procession that covered the skies would soon unleash another dreadful strike, engulfing all in its range.

Though they had distanced themselves considerably, one or two more shocks were all it would take for Ed, already at death’s doorstep, to lose his life.

“No… It cannot happen… Absolutely not…”

With tears streaming down her face, Clarice laid Ed on the ground. Even if they hid behind some cover to minimize the impact, the attack could not be completely blocked. Therefore, her only choice was to use the holy protection encircling her to shield Ed.

The scaly procession in the sky again sharpened its intimidating edge and charged forward.

Clarice, small as she was, tried to cover Ed’s body from every direction, but in such a short time, she could not fully protect him.

Clutching Ed as he laid on the ground and weeping, the barrage of scales mercilessly pierced his body.

“Cough!”

A fatal blow seemed to have penetrated near his collarbone. Ed spat out a mouthful of red blood, looking up at Clarice with faded eyes.

“Don’t… Senior Ed…. Just a little more… Just a little further….”

In the forest, rustling leaves faced the strong winds.

Behind Ed, who lay atop the dirt, a pool of blood spread. Seeing the crimson on her hands, Clarice trembled all over.

“Senior Ed… Senior Ed….”

This was the second time his face had lost its liveliness.

Nevertheless, it was something she could never grow accustomed to.

Witnessing the death of someone dear, no matter how many times repeated, never becomes familiar.

It becomes a wound in the heart, imprinted like a curse, constantly drawing out pain.

Is this how it ends… Do I let go of Ed now?

He was the one who had worked to protect Clarice until the very end. This time, she had tried to save Ed, but a cursed fate doesn’t simply let go.

“Senior Ed… I’m sorry…. I’m so sorry….”

Hugging the dying Ed, Clarice poured out her tears.

“I’m really sorry…. I’m sorry for being useless…. For not doing anything… For continuously causing death… And still… not being able to give back… always relying on you… I’m sorry…. I’m truly sorry…. Sob… Sob….”

Thus… Ed approached the end of his life.

But it was not to be immediate.

―Swoosh.

As a comforting hand wiped away her tears, Clarice’s mind snapped back into focus.

Ed’s bloodstained hand, mustering the last of his strength, was wiping the tears from her eyes.

“There’s no need to apologize…. Please, don’t cry needlessly…”

Despite Ed’s consoling words, Clarice’s eyes continued to overflow with endless tears.

“It’s alright…. Don’t be sad, don’t give up…”

“Senior… Senior Ed…”

“Again… I’ll help you…. Probably… I will… So… don’t cry… don’t give up… Please….”

―Thump.

Eventually… Ed’s hand loss its strength and rolled to the ground. His eyes, wide open without closure, gazed emptily into the sky.

Clarice held onto Ed, crying for a long while. Behind her tearful figure, a brilliant light poured down.

Then, looking up into the sky, she saw the same magical circle that she had glimpsed from the Ophelys Pavilion.

Unlike the view inside, the circle’s enormous shape was now clearly visible in the full expanse of the sky. The constellation formed within the magical circle glowed a faint blue with holy power, beautifully adorning the heavens.

And then, a radiant white light enveloped everything, and Clarice lost consciousness.

* * *

“Saintess. You mentioned wanting to talk… what is it about?”

Light returned to the world.

There was no sound of the divine dragon cleaving the heavens, no sight of Ed drenched in blood.

With his book closed and placed on the table, Ed looked at Clarice with a puzzled expression, wondering what she wanted to discuss.

She had seen his death twice.

His form cradling the ruins of Ophelys Pavilion, protecting Clarice but ultimately surrendering to death within his embrace.

Her efforts to shield him, only for both to receive the divine dragon’s attack and meet their end at last.

Either way, the image of his blood-smeared figure remains vivid in her memory, overlapping countless times over his serene face.

―Wham!

“Eh… Eek…?! Saintess, wh-what are you doing…!”

Startled, Ed’s cheeks turned crimson.

Ignoring Yenika’s reaction, the saintess first tightly embraced Ed. Once cradled in her arms, she was filled with the same reassuring feeling as when they were in the carriage.

“Saintess…?”

Ed asked with a dumbfounded expression, to which Clarice responded by burying her face into his chest without a word. Tears poured out, but she paid them no heed.

Murmurs filled the surroundings, which was inevitable under the circumstances. Yet, Clarice seemed completely indifferent to it. Afterward, events progressed swiftly.

With a firm grasp on Ed’s wrist, Clarice rushed him onto the carriage and fled once again, taking a different escape route. Instead of heading towards the open plains without cover, she chose to detour and go along the eastern rocky mountains.

But, despite the skilled coachman driving at breakneck speed, they were unable to reach the rocky mountains before they were once again under Sacred Dragon’s assault.

This time, under Clarice’s protection, Ed did not sustain a fatal wound; however, he slowly died from excessive blood loss before they could reach the rocky terrain. The sight of his complexion gradually fading and his reactions waning remained a terrible trauma.

“Saintess, if you want to converse… What are you referring to…?”

When they returned, Clarice held Ed’s hand again and headed for the beach. She reasoned that hiding underground was surely safer than risking a direct hit by scales while traversing the plain.

Ed knew of two places they could take refuge in: the coastal caves on the western shores and a secret laboratory used by Professor Glast.

They took shelter in the western coastal cave, but it collapsed due to an earthquake caused by Sacred Dragon’s descent. Clarice nearly died crushed by falling rocks, but Ed rushed to her protection and was injured in her place. His lower body crushed, Ed clenched his teeth against the agony and died without blaming Clarice, wiping away her tears with his dying breaths.

“15… 0300160… 15 0300 160…!”

By then, Clarice’s only purpose had changed to saving Ed. She was determined to save the life of this man, Ed Rothtaylor, who had sided with her till the end, no matter what.

This time, they took refuge in Glast’s Soul Library. She sealed the upper area and constructed several layers of support magic in case the ceiling came crashing down. They survived the earthquakes caused by Sacred Dragon’s descent and were safe from the scale assaults. Clarice wept tears of joy.

However, the ground that had been hit multiple times by Sacred Dragon’s magical bombardments could not withstand only with support magic and eventually collapsed.

Buried under the avalanche of soil, Ed covered Clarice’s body with his own till the very end, pulling his magic to sustain the ground as long as possible to prevent her from getting hurt.

Thus, in the collapsing ground, Ed died protecting Clarice once more.

Though everything else reset with time, the scars on Clarice’s body remained. The reason for this was unknown.

Therefore, Ed died over and over again, prioritizing Clarice’s safety above all else. She never became accustomed to his death.

Each time he died, she felt as if her heart was being torn apart. Despite the repetition, Clarice bit down her frustration and endured.

If she were to succumb to despair and give up, there would be no one to save Ed, who had died many times for her sake.

Even without fully understanding the situation, Ed continued to help her. Now Clarice could not afford to give up on his life.

“Saintess, if you want to converse… What are you talking about…?”

Despite her face pale and eyes growing dark, just seeing Ed helped her grit her teeth and summon strength. She closed the book, hugged Ed’s bewildered face, and steadied her breath.

She could no longer remember how many times it had been.

Clarice watched intently as Sacred Dragon descended, standing atop the Sylvania Institute’s roof, leaving Ed behind.

She observed the sky filled with magical circles but could not pinpoint the origin of the magical power. Having ascertained that, she watched the demise of Acken, soaked in blood.

“Saintess, if you want to converse… What are you talking about…?”

Clarice explored all sorts of escape routes and hideouts. Despite dozens of attempts, there was no place on Acken where they could be safe from Sacred Dragon Bellbrook. Each failure cost Ed his life as Clarice’s substitute.

That’s why Clarice could not afford to give up.

“15… 0300160…”

Suddenly, after saying this… Clarice had nothing more to say.

Ed, with eyes wide open, watched the Clarice who accurately stated her military identification number. Seeing her like this felt as if the memories of Ed dying for her countless times were consuming her from within like cancer.

Though Ed’s image of dying for her over and over overlapped endlessly, she never managed to save him.

She had tried everything possible, but she couldn’t run away from, hide from, or find a way to overcome the incredible power of Sacred Dragon Bellbrook.

Nor could she ascertain the cause of the continuous time reversals.

It was rumored to be connected to a high-ranking clergy member, but no matter how much she searched the academy in this short timeframe, neither the Pontiff nor the Archbishop could be found.

The grand carriage was located next to the Mekses bridge in the carriage storage, and only the coachman’s testimony of leading the closest associates into the professors’ building remained.

Even under countless time resets, she couldn’t determine the location from which the massive magical circle was activated. Clearly, it had to be somewhere in the professors’ building, but she couldn’t pinpoint the exact spot.

Only the tedious repetition of the joint combat training day gnawed mercilessly into her psyche.

If she had come this far, perhaps it was time to stop relying on Ed.

If watching him die was too painful to bear any longer, perhaps she needed to leave him behind and carve out her own path. Though such thoughts occurred to her, losing the only person who could understand her predicament was an even greater fear.

Could she maintain her sanity amid the fear of truly being left alone? Another form of fear gnawed at Clarice’s heart.

Clarice, her appearance completely haggard… could do nothing but recite Ed’s military identification number.

“Saintess…?”

Ed looked on helplessly at her.

“Saintess,” the coachman notified, “inspection teams have been dispatched near the Mekses bridge. Currently, the goods from the Elte Trade Company are being transported across the bridge. Due to the overcrowded situation with goods carriages and the escort mercenaries, we’ve been asked to wait.”

Suddenly, the coachman’s words reached her. Only then did Clarice grasp the current situation.

So, she brought Ed along, sat him in the carriage, and ordered the coachman towards the Mekses bridge.

As Clarice sat with vacant eyes, Ed stood up and ordered the coachman to make his way through no matter what.

The coachman nodded and began to maneuver the carriage amidst the congested trade carriages of the Elte Trade Company on the Mekses bridge.

In the jostling carriage, Ed held Clarice firmly.

On close inspection, Clarice’s body was covered in countless bruises. Although time reset, her injuries, for some reason, remained.

Initially, it was just the imprint of Ed’s fingers on her wrist, but as they repeated the sequence, more and more minor injuries accumulated.

Seeing this… Ed commanded the coachman to stop the carriage.

“…?”

Clarice looked up at Ed with empty eyes.

“Please get off, saintess.”

“… Yes?”

“Take a rest, please.”

Wasn’t it a hair-trigger situation?

Clarice didn’t understand the meaning behind Ed’s words.

“… I know a few people who I could ask for help.”

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