The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 125

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Joint Combat Training 2 (11)

The horse was in less than favorable condition.

It was merely the one who hadn’t been harmed while pulling the carriage. Although the sound of the hooves briskly hitting the ground had continued, before long it became irregular.

The horse’s staggering body was felt. It seemed like too soon its life would come to an end. Yet, until the very last it kept running for the rider it carried on its back. Perhaps, this was its unyielding spirit – an homage to a lifetime spent hauling the saint’s carriage.

―Kaaaaaaang!

The deafening roar of Sacred Dragon filled the air once again. Darting across the plazas of the faculty quarters, the bloodstained view of the grounds quickly fell into sight.

“Listen well, Lady Saint. For this round, it’s a lost cause!”

Ed yelled, gripping the reins tightly, speaking to the saint who had wrapped her hands around his waist and buried her face in his back.

“We will do our best to shed light on the situation, so if you go back… This time, you must prepare to settle the case ‘perfectly’!”

The wind grazed past their ears. Clarice, who had her face pressed against Ed’s broad back, firmly nodded her head.

Once more, the ground of Acken Island shook under an earthquake. The spells of high-level elemental magic summoned by Obel filled the sky, with Lucy thwarting Bellbrook’s massive front paws heading towards the living quarters.

―Kwang! Kwang! Kwang!

An immense defensive magic circle enveloped the area, but with every strike from Bellbrook’s paw, it increasingly distorted.

Clarice held on to Ed trembling with fear, but soon she felt a sense of unease. Ed’s arm, which held the reins, was shaking unnaturally. Looking up to Ed’s face, she saw him with clenched teeth and grave eyes, pushing the horse forward. His eyes reflected a once-in-a-lifetime resolve.

Only then did Clarice reflect again.

Within the time she had repeated dozens of times, she had faced the overwhelming intimidation of that great dragon over and over.

Even if this ends, there will likely be a next.

But to Ed, in the loop of time, each moment was his first.

A human who must face catastrophe that emerges abruptly amidst a life of normalcy.

To Clarice, it was just another repetition, but to Ed, each moment was a gamble staking his own life.

Even knowing that time could reverse, to stake one’s life carried an unimaginable horror.

Grinding his teeth, his grip on the reins was tight… it was all too natural.

But he did not let this terror show. He bore even the desire to flee, knowing that if he showed any sign of disturbance, so too would Clarice.

Clarice tightened her grip around Ed’s waist.

―Kagagagak!

At that moment, with a cry of agony, the horse collapsed. It had spent all its energy.

They were lifted off suddenly, enveloped in a distant sensation of floating. Ed quickly drew Clarice’s arm, holding her tightly as they rolled on the ground.

Fortunately, they fell towards a flower bed, avoiding any severe injuries. However, already injured, Ed struggled to breathe, trying to suppress the pain.

Clarice, looking up from within Ed’s embrace, felt as if her heart was tearing.

“senior Ed… you’re bleeding from the arm…”

“It’s fine. I’ve been hurt worse before.”

After shaking blood off his arm, Ed got up and dusted his pants. Then, pulling Clarice to her feet, they looked up at the long-awaited Scholar’s Cathedral.

―Kwang! Kwang!

Sacred Dragon’s magic, threatening to shatter all of Acken Island, still covered the sky.

Against that night sky, the large cross stood unbothered.

Although not a vast building, it was neither small; its exterior wall deftly crafted of bricks and marbles, elegant stained glasses interspersed, bearing the simplistic cross emblem of the main deity, Telos.

“It seems we have indeed come to the right place,” Ed remarked, gazing up at the cross atop the soaring spire.

Even as they approached the cathedral, a lone figure, seemingly concealed by invisibility magic but now revealed, stood before them.

The figure was enrobed in deep reddish-black bordered with gold. Though the silhouette was slightly obscured, one could guess he was of middle age, bearing the marks of time, a chiseled jaw, and the muscles on his arms suggested years of discipline.

Wings emerged through the robes at his back, spreading wide matching the silhouette of the cross behind him.

He held an iron spear in hand, distinctly a high-quality piece.

Clarice swallowed at the familiar sight – an Apostle of ‘Telos’ directly under the Sacred Emperor Eldain.

Among the grand history and the large scale of the Sacred Empire’s sorcerers, only eight held this esteemed title.

Ed was aware of the group too.

Each of these individuals was revered as the finest sorcerers of the empire. Combined, the eight could thwart even Lucy Mayrill, heir to the lineage of archmages.

―Pang!

The man landed at the entrance of the cathedral, kicking up dust. The wind buffeted his clothing.

Their most critical weakness was their faith.

No matter how powerful a sorcerer, they cannot oppose the blessing of the deity Telos received by the saint.

That should have been the case…

“I apologize, saint Clarice.”

The hierarchy is always subject to change based on circumstances.

If the directive came from someone higher than Saint Clairice, he would, albeit reluctantly, block her path.

“By the orders of Sacred Emperor Eldain, no one may pass beyond this point.”

Clarice’s eyes widened in shock.

The Apostles of the Empire had always been steadfast allies.

Always bowing with respect upon meeting the saint, reverently kneeling, showcasing their deep faith.

Every interaction with the saint was held in the highest esteem, a life blessed by the deity, a privilege they lived with honor.

Kneeling at the cathedral entrance, that the Apostle now obstructed her path made Clarice gulp dryly against the confusion.

Ed whispered in her ear to stay focused.

“Break through at all costs. Your only concern should be to enter and reveal the truth within the cathedral. Put aside all other thoughts.”

“What about you, senior Ed?”

“I can create a brief distraction.”

Ed drew out a dagger from his thigh scabbard. The blade, inscribed with elemental sigils, gleamed with sharpness under the moonlight.

Clarice shook her head fiercely at his form. Ed was already severely wounded. And before them was an Apostle of Telos, among the most elite in the Sacred Empire. Perhaps a saint could hold her ground, but against Ed – defeat was inevitable. It was clear where this confrontation was headed.

With clenched teeth, Clarice rushed forward, shouting at the Apostle.

“Step aside from the entrance…! I need to see what is transpiring within…!”

“Saint.”

The man’s voice carried a somber tone as he shook his head.

“I apologize, but you cannot pass. Though I could say that… there’s nothing further you could do even if you passed.”

―Kang!

Before he could finish, Ed’s dagger flew aiming for his eye with the momentum of a desperate leap. Ed, holding the dagger in a reverse grip, attempted to thrust it at the man.

Of course, such an attack was casually parried by the man. Intercepting with the spear handle, Ed’s trembling hand could not press on.

“Who are you…?”

He knew such an attack would be easily deflected. As Ed released the grip on his dagger, a large crystal orb launched from within. It was a handmade ‘Shock Amplification Pulse Orb’ crafted by magic engineering.

Though the man widened his eyes, the explosion was right in front of him, and he was swept by the blast.

“Kugh!”

Initially, Ed’s intent had been to clear the entrance. Although the man was pushed back by the wave, steadying himself against the cathedral’s wall…

―Bang!

Clarice had already burst through the door into the cathedral.

“Damn…!”

The man hissed, ready to follow suit, but an air blade hindered his path.

―Kang! Kang!

The sacred magic utilized divine power, borrowing the strength of deity Telos. Mostly converted into arcane energy for use, but the man often used it to enhance his physique.

With strength many times that of an ordinary human, he flung Ed away. Sailing through the air, Ed hit the ground, rolling, coughed up blood with the taste of iron lingering.

“You’re bleeding quite severely.”

The man dusted off his spear, looking down from the cathedral steps at Ed, now a battered mess on the ground.

“Just lie there and rest. I’m not sure what you’re after, but if it seems to complicate matters, I may have to end your life. I would rather not commit to such killings.”

He turned his back to chase after the saint, but once more heavy impact struck his shoulder.

Arrows fired from Ed’s magic bow failed to penetrate the man’s skin but hit his shoulder.

“This… cur…”

As he turned, a malicious energy flickered in his eyes.

Ed quickly completed his assessment. Knowledge of the Apostle of Telos’ capabilities was something he was already aware of. With his current skills barely on the rise, defeating a sorcerer of the empire’s highest echelons was impossible. A different strategy was needed.

The man grasped his spear and spread his wings, intent on swiftly disposing of Ed and catching up with the saint.

Ed pulled out the ‘Phoenix Ring of Glast’ from his pocket. If he was returning to the past anyway, there was no concern over drawing on future magic power.

Just how much magic could he draw upon if he was prepared to never wield magic again for the rest of his life?

As he considered this, Ed infused magic into the ring and leapt into action once more. The dagger, inscribed with elemental sigils, returned to its master mid-flight, and magic emerging from the ground enveloped the area.

The man had good instincts. Sensing the situation was not going as expected, he raised his hands in prayer, gathering divine power, enhancing his body, turning himself into a being beyond human limits.

A battle between a mage and a warrior – naturally the opponent would close the distance.

Catching on to the man’s movements, Ed knew he would strike quickly.

Suddenly the man kicked off the ground, charging forward. His spear aimed directly at Ed’s heart, the speed comparable to a bullet, beyond normal human perception.

However, as the spear almost struck Ed’s heart, the man was uncertain whether he had caught his prey.

He thrust forward, prepared to embrace the guilt of taking another life.

―Thwack!

“Cough!”

Ed managed to twist his body just enough to avoid a lethal blow to the heart, but the spear pierced through his chest. Blood pumped from the wound as it struck deep into Ed’s chest.

The sacred robes stained with spattered crimson. Observing the scene, the man silently prayed to his god.

He had once more committed to kill. He silently confessed this truth in his heart.

―Flash!

It was at that moment.

Ed’s blood-soaked hand seize

He seals his movements to make it impossible to remove.

“This… this guy…?”

The face that smiles bitterly does not belong to someone on the verge of death.

“When you can’t close the gap in specs…”

Once again, Ed’s lips part to spit out blood. Even while bleeding profusely, Ed continues to speak.

“You have to rely on luck and gambles.”

“This… Crazy… bastard…!!”

Ed Rothtaylor asks. My stake is my life. What will you bet?

The correct answer is to brace oneself to sacrifice one’s own hand to push Ed away and create distance. However, a moment’s hesitation sends him to his doom. In the world of edge-walking duels, the slightest delay in judgment can turn the fight on its head.

―Whooooosh!

A barely managed elemental summoning ritual. Merilda, the high wind elemental that burst from the ground, opens its mouth and tears him apart in one bite.

“Krraaaagh!”

Blood spurts from within Merilda’s mouth. No matter how much he wrapped himself in high-level sacred arts, his essence is still human. If he enters that giant wolf’s mouth, even marble would shatter to pieces.

His blood-soaked body falls from Merilda’s mouth and rolls across the floor, barely breathing.

―Thud.

Ed kneels down, still skewered by the spear.

His blood profusely soaks the floor.

―Whoosh!

Ed is critically injured. Even the slightest magic power burden will exponentially increase the bleeding.

Merilda swiftly reverts to her original form to reduce the magic power burden and lands on the ground, then she darts toward Ed.

[ Are you insane? Are you in your right mind? Stop! Come to your senses! ]

But trying to grip Ed’s wounds tightly wasn’t going to do anything for injuries of that severity.

[ Why did you do this madness! If only you had simply summoned me and faced me head-on… ]

“Quietly… please… my ears are ringing…”

As Ed grips the blood-soaked hem of Merilda’s clothes, he coughs up more blood.

Ed already knew the man’s name. He knew about the Apostles of Telos, a group already within his knowledge.

The elite eight-person Special Forces directly under the Emperor, the Apostles of Telos. Within them, sat Tadarek the Swift of the Third Seat.

A face-off against him would inevitably push this side to a disadvantage with his overwhelming speed and aerial dominance.

Spec differences were already severe, and it was futile to continue a battle having handed over the tactical advantage to the opponent.

That’s why he gambled on a short-term duel. The stake was life, and the prize was a victory that overturned a vast spec difference.

Victory in duels isn’t always determined by strength and weakness alone.

Ed Rothtaylor only moves toward the direction that even by whatever means necessary, will bring about victory. One must know how to wager without flinching, even if that stake is one’s life.

It was all about having the mental strength to overcome that fear.

[ You… really…! Hey… No…! Come to your senses…! Don’t die! Do not die! ]

Merilda was at a loss while gripping Ed’s profusely bleeding wounds.

Ed lifted his creaking neck to look at the cathedral’s open doorway.

Then… with a satisfied face… he slowly closed his eyes, as if drifting to sleep.

* * *

Cathedrals are generally structured in a similar manner. Walking past the entrance and a small hallway leads to a large chapel.

All cathedral buildings are the same. The space that occupies the most importance is, without a doubt, the chapel.

However… The door leading to the hallway was locked from the inside.

Clarice had visited this cathedral several times. She was a saintess of the Telos religious order. It was normal for her to show her face whenever there were events during the weekend or the school term.

Hence, she roughly knew the internal structure. Knowing the hallway beyond was quite extensive, Clarice raised her sacred power and broke the door.

―Boom!

It wasn’t especially pleasant to smash a space where godly presence resides with sacred arts. Yet, it wasn’t the time to worry about piety.

If she crossed the hallway and entered the chapel…

That’s when she saw something.

“Ah… La…”

“…!”

Clarice, having broken and entered, sees a girl staggering out from the end of the hallway leading to the chapel.

Bright yellow hair neatly arranged with beautifully embroidered flowers.

Though it’s been nearly two years, Clarice clearly remembers that face. The young musician who had always played the lute from the window of the saintess’ room at the top of Sacred Dragon tower.

Despite being long enrolled, Clarice never got to meet her, always feeling frustrated.

“Ah… Del…”

Adelle is now Clarice’s senior by academic regulations.

However, Clarice, taken aback by that unexpected face, called out to her like an old friend.

Adelle, stumbling out of the darkness covered in blood… was covered with her own blood.

Her body full of various scratches, and some cuts were so deep that blood was currently seeping out.

“Adelle… Adelle…!”

Clarice rushes out to catch Adelle, who was about to fall forwards.

She looked at the badly damaged Adelle, sitting on the ground while sobbing.

“Adelle… What happened… How did… This happen…?”

“Saintess…”

Sitting side by side, Clarice hugs Adelle’s shoulders as tears flowed from her eyes again.

What happened that led to this? What occurred inside the cathedral? Why did she come out here? There were so many questions, but the immediate priority was checking on Adelle’s condition.

As Clarice was about to ask if Adelle was alright…

“―You came sooner than I thought.”

Upon hearing those words, Clarice gasps.

“…What?”

“There’s no need… for you to return.”

Adelle clenched her teeth and propped up her upper body, which was in Clarice’s arms.

“I’m sorry… for putting you through this… hard experience.”

“Adelle… What are you… talking about?”

“Still… it’s almost over…. It will end soon…. Just a little longer….”

Then, an immense light burst forth from Adelle’s body. The marking shining on her arm was unmistakably the ‘Sacred Arts’ Blessing’ allowed only for the saintess of the Telos order.

This blessing, which protects her body from all sacred arts and attacks that could harm her, could only be inscribed with the unison of 1 archbishop, 6 bishops, and 8 apostles, and the sacred blessing of the emperor. It’s the highest blessing of the order, something unimaginable for anyone but the saintess.

And what surged next was a massive magic circle based on ‘Sacred Magical Power.’ The massive time-reversion spell, manifesting from Adelle’s body and spreading out, once again — seeks to rewind the world’s hands of time.

Adelle’s unique affinity to transmute divine power into sacred magical power. A prodigy of the ages who had no precedent in church history, Adelle was that girl.

The composure to exhibit leisure at all times, regardless of what calamity might strike Sylvania, playing the lute and reciting poetry… in the end, was because she was a saintess unknown in history.

With the protection of the sacred arts to keep her safe, she could always be shielded from any malicious attack.

“This is… This is….”

Clarice watches the manifesting magic circle, trembling.

The world was filling with light. In the midst of that light… Clarice barely caught a glimpse of Adelle struggling to smile.

“Adelle…! Adelle…!”

Clarice holds onto her sanity, tearing up as she attempts to grasp the fading consciousness, but…

Regrettably, the world did not grant her any more time.

* * *

“Saintess, we are to converse… but what exactly will we be discussing?”

On the afternoon of the joint combat practice day. Under the vast blue sky, gentle sunlight, and a wooden table.

Ed, closing his book and placing it on the table, looks at Clarice with a puzzled expression.

“…….”

Suddenly, Clarice slams the table and stands up.

She stares into the air for a moment with a dazed face.

Only Ed and Yenika look back at the saintess with confused faces, not knowing what to make of it.

After a minute or so, Clarice turns her gaze towards Ed.

It was the man who repeatedly faced death to give her an answer, almost an angel in her eyes.

With his help, she felt so close to the core of the issue, but still, the puzzle pieces didn’t fully come together in her mind.

Just… Clarice… went to sit next to him habitually, tightly wrapping her arms around him. There was a strange sense of security.

Meanwhile…. She kept thinking… endlessly considering… what she had seen.

“……???”

“……Eh????”

From Ed and Yenika’s perspective, it was nothing short of a bolt from the blue.

* * *

― ‘The blessing of the sacred arts seems to have settled in your body successfully. Now you only need to complete the ‘Sanctification Baptism’ in public to proclaim yourself as the saintess, and you will rightfully rule at the top of the Sacred Dragon order, Adelle.’

― ‘I suppose. I do feel divine power rising up more than usual.’

― ‘The blessing of the sacred arts will let you harness that divine power to the max. With the ability to also access Sacred Power, Adelle, you will become the most powerful saintess in the history of the Sacred Dragon order.’

― ‘It’s too much of a compliment, Archbishop. I feel like I’m indulging in luxury to have such an immense magical blessing all to myself.’

― ‘It is a blessing that befits your noble grace. This sacred blessing will forever protect you. Having the aptitude to pull its full potential, you’ll feel like you’re always wearing a sturdy shield.’

Adelle awakens. The dim corridor leading to the combat practice field in Gluckt Hall.

Strumming the lute idly in that corner felt like something from a very long time ago.

Coughing up a little, a streak of blood trailed down from her lips.

The spilt blood pooled, soaking the surface of the lute beside her.

“Ah…”

Despite seeing this scene over and over again, Adelle smiles, sensing that she has returned once more.

The sight of Achenheim, the dragon of the sacred cathedral, destroying Acken and slaughtering the students flickers before her eyes, but… it’s all been undone.

Adelle’s blessing can overturn even the flow of time.

Adelle rested for a while lying down, keeping her wounds unchanged.

“After everything becomes undone, and no one remembers…”

Perhaps ten minutes later, as strength returned, she slowly stood up.

And, as she had done countless times, she picked up her lute, staggering… and slowly, ever so slowly, moved toward the cathedral.

“Perhaps… it’s not so lonely after all.”

Despite many repetitions, the moment she steps out of this quiet corridor never gets familiar.

― ‘Hey.’

― ‘Yes? Ed, senior.’

― ‘You will die soon.’

― ‘I know.’

It feels like a distant past now. That conversation with Ed in this corridor.

Though she couldn’t discern his intentions, eerily enough, he pinpointed Adelle’s fate precisely.

Strange indeed. The world should always rewind the same way. Yet, Ed never appeared before Adelle again, except for that first time.

There had to be a reason, but Adelle didn’t dwell on it. She had no time to scatter her thoughts on such matters.

She just stands, leaning against the wall, planning to head again towards the cathedral.

“Phew….”

Finally, she feels her divine power draining. No longer remembering how many repetitions they were at, the end seemed in sight.

It had been a long journey. Whom to blame? It was a path she had chosen for herself.

And thus, Adelle steps out of Gluckt Hall with an unsteady stride.

The night sky she had gazed at before the day of the Sanctification Baptism flickered in front of her.

That night, Adelle finally succeeded in catching a glimpse of her future.

And fearing that future, she abandoned becoming a saintess, fleeing to a position of a sanctuary keeper under various pretexts.

Well, she couldn’t have done otherwise.

The future glimpsed between the vast stellar skies…

Was a future where she was sacrificed as a saintess to undo the resurrection of the Sacred Dragon.

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