The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 123

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Combined Combat Practice 2 (9)

There are many facilities at Sylvania Academy, including the dorms and teaching buildings, but the most noticeable if you had to pick one would certainly be the ‘plazas’.

The main plaza of the teaching buildings, the student plaza, the eastern plaza, the academic society plaza. The main plaza of the dorms, the plaza for each dorm, the market streets, and even the entrance plaza.

From majestic and vast plazas to modest and small ones. The abundance of such open spaces is there to ensure that students have as many places to rest as possible.

As if responding to this intent, the plazas are filled with students who are soaking up the late spring sunshine, engrossed in photosynthesis. Faculty, dorm merchants, and even outsiders are meandering through the plazas, enjoying the peace of midday.

The entrance plaza is where one first arrives at Sylvania Academy after crossing over the Mekses Bridge and through the main gate. This place serves as the face of the school.

Ed and Clarice were crossing the center of that plaza. It appeared as though Ed was pulling Clarice along by the hand, naturally drawing the attention of those around them.

“Senior Ed. We… we don’t have time for this… we really don’t have time…!”

The two knights escorting Clarice tried to dissuade Ed, albeit awkwardly. They couldn’t resort to force, for when they had drawn their swords, Clarice had exploded with fury.

Using force was out of the question, yet doing nothing made Clarice look distressed.

However, the knights’ current mission was to escort Clarice to the Triss Pavilion. While Ed’s intentions were unclear, he had prevented a spontaneously planned journey outside the school in a carriage… so they decided to simply observe the situation for the time being.

Not that Ed was taking any particularly grand or special action.

He just continued to pull Clarice along to a sunlit wooden table near some street trees. After setting down drinks bought from the student store with a thump, he plopped down across from her and repeatedly ran his hands down his face.

Ed was just as taken aback by the abruptness of the situation, and the information available to him was incredibly limited.

Clarice’s assertion that time was repeating itself. And her attempt to prove it by reciting military numbers assigned to her in the distant past… before claiming that the sacred dragon, Sacred Dragon, would resurrect and destroy Acken Island at the end of this combined combat practice.

Given the current circumstances, Ed had to operate under the assumption that everything the saint said was true.

That was because Clarice’s behavior was too bizarre. She had sought out Ed in front of the Gluckt Pavilion, grabbed him by the arm, pushed him into a carriage, and insisted they needed to run away, prompting them to head outside the school.

It was a ludicrous escapade that one wouldn’t expect from her unless her mind was addled.

“We don’t have time to rest like this, senior Ed. At this rate… we’ll die again…. This time we need to cross the bridge and escape along the coast…. There might be a more robust and remote hideout if we make it across to the mainland and follow the coastal area…. Of course, the chances are slim, but… if there’s even a cave-like place along the coast….”

“Sainthood.”

Ed called her out softly, and as if snapping back to reality, Clarice took a sharp breath. Ed calmly added,

“Please, stay calm. Let’s take a deep breath first.”

“There’s no time for that…! I don’t want to watch you die again…. Suffering… dying time after time… protecting me… I can’t bear it anymore…. That’s why we have to go right now…. If we don’t, the Mekses Bridge will be blocked once things escalate…! If not now….”

“It’s okay.”

“It can’t be okay…! If we don’t move right now, you will die in agony…! You wouldn’t like that…! I wouldn’t either…! I really hope… this time… you survive….”

“I’ve told you, it’s okay.”

Having said that much, Clarice’s eyes suddenly whirled back to Ed.

Without any movement, just continually assuring her that it was okay, Ed’s presence began to ground her.

“…Senior Ed….”

From the time she had encountered Ed in front of the Gluckt Pavilion to the end of the combined combat practice.

How many times had she struggled to find a solution in this short span of time?

It was hard for Ed to know. He could only guess based on the scratches that filled the saint’s body.

“I… I just don’t know anymore….”

Clarice hung her head low and once again began to cry. Considering what had transpired, her tear ducts should have run dry, but emotions cruelly continued to shake her equanimity.

“I’ve tried everything I could think of. Dragging Senior Ed forcibly, trying to flee like this, trying to hide like that, I’ve tried everything… but really… No matter how insignificant or faint the hope, no matter how slim the chance, I’ve challenged it all but nothing works…. There’s really nothing that works….”

Clarice, tears wiped away, poured out her words.

Students passing by the plaza looked at the curious scene and whispered among themselves, while the guard soldiers, unable to understand the unfolding situation, could only sweat uncomfortably.

Watching the forlorn saint, Ed stood up quietly and sat next to her. Then he grabbed Clarice’s arm, pulled out a healing ointment from the purchases made at the student store, and briskly applied it.

“Senior?”

“First, as a saint, you must prioritize protecting your own body above all else. Having wounds that don’t heal is a critical risk.”

Ed’s mind was clear when he brought Clarice to the plaza.

Although Ed had extremely limited information, it was enough for him to grasp the context.

The scratches filling the saint’s body were the first sign of strangeness. There was no way the saint, who had decked out to meet the holy figure, would show up at Triss Pavilion with her body full of wounds.

“Your saintly aura of protection, given by the holy laws, is a power that guards your body from anyone who holds malice towards you or ‘intends to attack’. Moreover, as a saint who is blessed by the divine Telos, I heard you have resistance to all kinds of holy techniques.”

Regarding the high priest Verdieu, who seemed to read minds like telepathy. Despite his ability to pierce through the thoughts of others with his sacred techniques, it had not worked on Saint Clarice.

Those baptized by the saint gain resistance to all kinds of sacred techniques. It would be impossible for the hierarchy of the sacred law to harm its pinnacle, the saint.

“Do you understand… what these wounds imply?”

“The meaning of… these wounds?”

The saint is now cornered by a dead end.

Despite all possible means being exhausted, she was still frustrated that she could not escape from Sacred Dragon, the sacred dragon Bellbrook.

The task for Ed, then, is to give a new direction for such a saint.

“This phenomenon of time reversing itself must have been brought into existence through sacred law. Therefore, it’s logical that a saint protected by holy grace retains her memories, and her body’s wounds don’t reverse.”

“….”

“In the end, we should look to a church official who practices sacred law as the source of this crisis.”

“That’s… but….”

Clarice had not ruled out that possibility entirely.

In fact, it was Ed who informed her that the magic circle painting the sky was a mix of sacred laws and the circles of the holy magic.

However, no matter how much she searched, she couldn’t find the whereabouts of the holy emperor or the high priest. The same was true for the alleys of the teaching buildings where the magic circle had bloomed. No matter how many times she went, only terrified students filled the place.

Maybe, if every single building, room, and corner of Sylvania were thoroughly searched… but with the little time left until the end of the combined combat practice, it was unimaginable how many times she’d face that hell again. Sylvania Academy was vast, too vast.

Besides, if those two had deliberately gone into hiding, then even with a hundred days of searching with her delicate hands, the saint might never find them. That would truly be a dead-end path.

“That’s… right…. After all, the holy emperor and the high priest would’ve entered Sylvania via the Mekses Bridge, so their movements should be limited around that area.”

“Yes, that’s correct. However, considering they have gone unnoticed, they must be employing disguises, using magic to hide their actions, or moving along unknown paths. The best place to start investigating is from the entrance, near where the holy emperor’s carriage is stored.”

“Why would they go to such lengths to hide their movements?”

“Whatever their reason, it certainly doesn’t seem honorable.”

Having exchanged such dialogue, Clarice already had the ointment extensively applied to her wounds.

Ed brushed off her arm and threw the remaining ointment onto the table.

When Clarice came to her senses, her trembling voice had calmed down and her tears had dried.

Only then did she realize Ed had been aware she was on the verge of breaking down, cornered by circumstances.

Those who have rammed their heads against a dead end crave the same thing: a new direction.

“Do you now see a new direction?”

Ed had an idea.

If Clarice was indeed repeating time, then this could be the third act of “Sylvania’s Failed Swordmaster,” a part of the tale that remained unexplored territory.

This, too, is part of the official story, but unlike previous tales, Ed did not fully comprehend its true nature this time.

However, he knew the outcome.

The primordial swordsaint, who had sealed it away, and the great sage Sylvania, who had maintained that seal, preserved the creation of the sacred dragon Sacred Dragon.

Even for a grand sorcerer, breaking the seal beneath Acken Island, made with a gigantic magic circle, would not be easy. In fact, most weren’t even aware of the seal’s existence.

“Syl-

In Act 3 of “Sylvania’s Failed Swordsman,” there was no such event as the resurrection of Sacred Dragon Bellbrook. Sacred Dragon Bellbrook is unquestionably the final boss of the last chapter. He shouldn’t appear at this point in the story, and even if he does, there would be no way to stop him. It was only in the very last narrative of the entire tale that they managed to defeat him. If the saintess were to capture or kill him here, the story would not cohere.

So, there’s only one remaining possibility. They must have prevented the resurrection altogether, making it as if it never happened. Therefore, the only direction Ed can suggest to the saintess is one.

“Running away is not the answer. We must find and eliminate the root of the problem.”

I understand. It is the mythic dragon that splits islands and tears the heavens. It’s a monster that can turn a whole region into hell with just a few attacks. When mere mortals encounter such a creature, their only thought is to flee. It’s the same for all humans standing before a gigantic disaster.

But we can’t keep doing things this way. Things won’t progress. I had to remind her of this fact.

“Even if you manage to run away, if time rewinds, we’re back to square one, aren’t we…? What then would be the point?”

“I know that… But… I just don’t know what to do… The only thing I can think to do right now… is to run away…”

“First, calm yourself and take control. You’re too exhausted. Madam Saintess, you’ve been doing well enough so far.”

Clarice looked haggard. Patting her back, Ed reassured her gently. Clarice took a breath and… once again, embraced Ed’s frame.

For Ed, it was an awkward situation, and for the onlookers and guards around, it was a sight that could make them pass out. Yet, he managed to hide his discomfort as best he could and softly stroked her hair.

“How many times have you repeated this?”

“I don’t know… I was counting at first but when it got over ten… I just… forgot…”

“You’ve had a tough journey.”

Clarice, sobbing and burying her head in Ed’s chest, stayed that way for a long time.

* * *

There are people you could ask for help, Ed said for sure. In this situation, Clarice wondered how much help she could really get… but Ed had a certain grasp of the situation in his mind.

“Listen carefully, Madam Saintess. Ultimately, the key to this issue is to find His Holiness and the Archbishop. Once we locate them, we can unravel the truth about the time-reversing holy magic. Only those two would have such prowess within academia.”

Clarice slid her left hand between Ed’s right and clung to his arm, as if terrified he would disappear.

From Ed’s perspective, the clinginess felt excessive, but given the saintess’s emotional struggles, he couldn’t simply push her away.

“I’ve looked for them so many times… Repeated that process, but never once heard any news of His Holiness or the Archbishop. It’s truly strange. That such esteemed figures could hide their movements in such a veil, despite the many eyes and ears that should be focused on them.”

The surrounding gazes were burning. The sight of Saintess Clarice clinging to Ed was confounding, appearing dreamlike to onlookers.

To the students of the academy, she seemed to be swept away overnight. But in reality, the struggle was all on Ed’s shoulders.

Sweating, Ed made his way to the student council building, striding into Nail Hall where the first and second-year students were engaged in combat practice.

“Madam Saintess… you must let go… We can overlook it outdoors, but we cannot enter the arena where students are training while in this state.”

Ed’s entreaty was met with Clarice’s whimpering refusal, shaking her head vigorously.

After this loop ends, the relationship between Clarice and Ed will reset. From Clarice’s perspective, this might be her only chance to be this indulgent.

She must gather her strength and be strong. Yet for the permitted time, she just wanted to stay attached to Ed.

Once the joint combat practice ended, Ed would, by any means necessary, be prepared to risk his life to protect Clarice.

“……”

Ed took a deep breath, steeled himself, and swung open the door to the Nail Hall’s arena.

The sound of combat roared ― loud clashes and swift strikes echoed. On the platform, wade and Taely exchanged blows. Wade tried to land a sword hit on Taely, but Taely, having ascended his growth curve, effortlessly parried Wade’s attacks.

Yet Wade’s defense was no less formidable. Taely decided to unleash a basic Sword Saint technique, at which point Wade would lose his will to fight and drop his sword.

Ed could predict what would happen next.

The next combatant would likely be Claude from the Alchemy Division.

Despite Claude assaulting Taely with a combination of hallucinogenic potions and basic spells, Taely would still dominate.

Driven by competitiveness, Claude would eventually resort to a forbidden potion. As of now, the outcome unfolded exactly as Ed had anticipated.

Yet, Ed’s goal wasn’t to watch the duel.

Given the size of Nail Hall, there was a large audience. The doors opening slightly would not draw much attention, except for a few students nearby, who gaped in shock at the sight of the saintess refusing to detach from Ed.

Eventually, time would revert. Ed reminded himself of this as he gritted his teeth and ignored the onlookers.

Pushing through the crowd absorbed in the fight, he found a student leaning against the wall, watching the duel—a female student clad in a deep red uniform and robe, a second-year student from Section A, likely scheduled for numerous combat practices.

Ed stood beside her, looking up at the platform, and spoke softly, “Sell me some information.”

The girl, startled by the voice, momentarily widened her eyes.

Ed wasn’t someone who should have been there at that time. He should have been at Gluckt Hall, attending his assigned combat practice. There was no reason he should appear in Nail Hall, where first and second-year students were dueling.

“Oh my.”

But the girl, Lortelle Keheln, didn’t ask for details. She simply continued watching the duel, running her fingers through her neatly braided reddish locks.

“Nice to see a friendly face here. Did some lucrative opportunity come up?”

“That I don’t know.”

Lortelle—always smiling like a fox—never seemed puzzled, even during sudden appearances. Maintaining her composure regardless of any anomaly, the young trader operated in darkness but was far from weightless. Digging into her actuality would reveal a figure who had tucked Sylvania’s economy into her pocket—a power broker beneath the surface.

All the information flow of the lifestyle academy passed through Elte Commerce, and all the information of Elte Commerce reached the ears of the acting president, Lortelle Keheln.

― ‘Madam Saintess… I have been informed that inspection personnel have appeared at Mekses Grand Bridge. I hear that Elte Commerce’s cargoes are currently crossing through Mekses Bridge, creating quite a commotion with goods wagons and escort mercenaries. They’re asking to wait because it’s a bit chaotic.’

Returning from the Mekses Bridge to the student council building, Ed had seen Elte Commerce’s logistics train filling the bridge. Judging by its unprecedented commotion, it wouldn’t be resolved within a couple of hours.

Hadn’t they said the Holy King and Archbishop had passed over the Mekses Bridge? The logistical disruption was likely because their passage temporarily bottlenecked the bridge.

Thus, numerous Elte Commerce traders would have seen the Holy King’s procession. Additionally, the carriage depot staff who would have tended to the Holy King’s coach were also academy merchants. It was inevitable that the merchants’ eyes would catch a glimpse of the two wherever they went.

The trading zone within the academy was wholly Lortelle Keheln’s domain. Even a single gold coin rolling on the ground couldn’t escape her vigilance.

For her to personally inquire—there was no faster way to learn of the Holy King’s whereabouts.

Ed was prepared to pay whatever Lortelle would demand. He had insisted, time would reverse anyway.

“I need to find someone urgently. At least before the joint combat practice ends. I’ll pay whatever you ask.”

“Well… It’s rather sudden but…”

Lortelle turned her gaze away from the arena, standing up to face Ed, maintaining her composure despite the sudden request.

But upon witnessing the saintess clasping Ed’s arm and looking at him with tearful eyes, Lortelle couldn’t help but gasp.

Even after scrutinizing, the face remained unmistakably that of Saintess Clarice, the pinnacle of the Telos Order, receiving the reverence of all believers.

“…???”

Even the most rational and discerning individuals would struggle to foresee such a scene.

Ed knew this and patiently waited for Lortelle to come to terms with the panorama before her.

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