The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 136

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Silver Coins Three (4)

“You’re using classic and predictable tactics, uncharacteristic of you. Planning to corner the market on school supplies, are you?”

“Yeah, well. Those with quick wits would have already caught on to the scent.”

The setting is the Professor’s Hall in the dead of night.

Usually bustling with classes during the day and research activities in the late evening, the place succumbs to silence at night.

The buildings here are significantly taller than those in the living quarters.

While the living quarters truly exude an air of daily life as their name suggests, the Professor’s Hall carries a sense of order and tidiness.

Bricked pavements and flower beds, immaculate buildings, and welcoming rows of trees along the sidewalks.

Even though it’s a familiar scene we see every day, an educational institution of this scale is quite rare in this world.

Lortelle had led me to the Professor’s Hall at midnight, suggesting a night walk.

It might be a bit far for a simple walk, but I guess it’s because we have a lot to talk about.

“But I never thought Senior Ed would be curious about the internal affairs of the merchant guild. Are you worried about me, by any chance?”

“Well, kind of. You did seem worrisome.”

“One would usually say, ‘you’re worried about me’ in a jest――”

Lortelle, who was walking ahead, stopped abruptly and turned around. It seemed my response was unexpected.

After a quick glance at my face and avoiding my gaze, she spoke with a hint of embarrassment.

“Did, did I hear that wrong?”

“Even if you are thoughtful, that doesn’t mean you never make mistakes.”

“There’s always a risk with every choice. I was just taken aback by how bluntly you expressed your concern for me.”

With a sheepish look, Lortelle averted her eyes and made a fuss. She fanned her face for no reason, then moved ahead again.

“Defense and offense are entirely separate talents, it seems. Looks like I’ll need more training in this area…”

Muttering to herself, she walked through the night streets for a while longer.

“Weakness exchange.”

The destination turned out to be a wooden bench at the center of the student plaza.

During the day, this central bench by the fountain was so packed with people, I had never sat there. It’s always full.

But now, in the dead of night, the bustling atmosphere reminiscent of a marketplace is gone, replaced by stillness.

The darkness that settles over the academy makes the towering buildings around feel eerie.

Nail Hall, Gluckt Hall, Obel Hall, Delen Hall. From these luxurious buildings right next to the student plaza, to the distant Student Library or Tricks Hall on the hill, and the Pesson Hall where alchemy classes were mostly held, to the Marel Hall where the combat department trained – buildings rarely visited by a student of the magic department.

Each of them, silent in the night’s darkness, gives off an odd sense of dissonance despite being a daily sight.

I’ve been to school at night during my school days as well.

Even the most ordinary scenery feels like a different world when changed to nighttime.

“The children of noble families exchange weaknesses when they marry. It’s said that knowing each other’s vulnerabilities makes their relationship stronger… Sounds plausible and romantic, but in reality, if you think about it, it’s a conniving custom.”

“There’s such a custom…?”

“It’s mostly outdated now, but I heard some of the older or more traditional families still practice it. I guess the Rothtaylor family doesn’t have such customs, huh?”

“Well, I’m not quite at the marrying age yet.”

“That is true… Anyway.”

Lortelle sat on the bench and pulled her robe’s hood over her head. As usual, her bluish rose-shaped hairpin shone subtly in the moonlight.

“Shall we exchange weaknesses?”

“… All of a sudden?”

“I’m going to explain my situation regarding this matter, so I’ll inevitably have to reveal my inner vulnerabilities to you.”

I never really thought of delving deep into Lortelle’s private matters.

“Well, it’s not like there’s nothing I can’t show, but it still feels like I’m getting the short end of the stick.”

“……”

“You know. I can’t stand being at a loss.”

Lortelle smiled her coy smile, waiting for my response.

The truth is, a weakness exchange is rather tricky. The vulnerabilities that the scions of noble families have are often so dark or filthy that they’re too fatal to be shared with others… For me, though, there aren’t any vulnerabilities that would be so lethal.

If I were to present a trivial flaw, and Lortelle comes forth with something deep and dark, won’t the deal be unbalanced? It might not matter much to me, but it could be a grave offense to Lortelle.

So, I fell into deep thought.

“Don’t overthink it. In truth, I’m doing this strange thing because I overheard.”

“What’s your intention.”

“I also have ears~ Just that, I can hear a bit further and wider than ordinary people~”

That ‘bit further’ she refers to means she could hear everything from the entire living quarters.

In other words, she had heard the rumors about me looking down or being out of energy lately.

Even though I insisted I was fine, how Lortelle took it was another matter.

I closed my eyes.

It was already a dark night, but closing my eyes brought complete darkness to my sight.

What faintly gleamed in that darkness beyond my retinas were memories of the past.

Joint combat training, student council elections, freshman class assignment exams, Glast hunt, Glascan hunt, expulsion from the Ophelius Hall.

Moving back further to the distant past. Before living in the forest and gritting my teeth, to when I used to be Ed Rothtaylor, I pass through the paths I’ve walked.

Finally, I spoke.

“A lot of people around me have died.”

Lortelle didn’t pry for details.

“The environment was like that. I’ve been through a foreign battlefield for a few years. I got injured along the way. Thanks to that, I spent my final years quite leisurely.”

“How unexpected.”

“Believe it or not, it’s up to you.”

Lortelle shook her head slightly, indicating her belief. She had never heard about the heir of the Rothtaylor household having war experience.

“Just in the battlefield, people die often. At first, it’s tough emotionally. The closer and more involved with them you become, the harder it gets.”

“I can imagine. People tend to bond in such extreme environments.”

“So at first, you grit your teeth and try to save them. Even if it means collapsing from exhaustion, you try running through the battlefield carrying the severely wounded or watching a comrade’s last moments, crying as they breathe their last… In reality, those who have been there do experience this. It’s kind of like a rite of passage.”

My shoes came into view as I crouched and rested my arms on my knees, and I could see an army of carpenter ants marching between them.

“It comes to a point where you realize it’s all futile. It only wells up pain in your heart, and in the end, people are replaced. Becoming attached becomes an activity laced with huge risks. It’s your favorite word, risk management.”

“I don’t like it. Who would want to manage risks?”

“Well, whatever. Inherently, I came to a conclusion. Forgotten now, because it was decided such a long time ago.”

Lifting my head to the usual stars in the sky, I felt a different sensation from looking up through the trees in the forest.

“When you try to save, it hurts when they die.”

“……”

“If you don’t try to save in the first place, you won’t get hurt.”

Lortelle stayed silent.

“That’s how I could keep my sanity. That’s when I understood why leaders became cold-hearted. Even a foot soldier like me understood, so everyone else must have too.”

Closing my eyes again, I remember the girl bleeding against the wall of Gluckt Hall.

Despite having solved every trial and task in a hectic rush, failing to save that one person by a hair’s breadth. That nearly identical memory was from a painfully long past.

I looked at my fists, clenched and unclenched them idly.

“I’ve become quite desensitized.”

It’s because I tried to save that it hurt when they died.

Maybe the conclusion I had forgotten was due to the romance of this school after all.

Walking through the school yard fills my head with flowers from the aura of students brimming with dreams and hopes.

However, for me, reality has always been a trial. Life was not about ‘living,’ but ‘surviving’.

Doubting the world ceaselessly while maintaining sharp senses was the way I’ve lived.

“This is my vulnerability.”

That’s where I concluded.

If weakness exchange was the pretext, this should be enough for negotiation.

It was a significant revelation from my side, as it was a part that had never been exposed to anyone else.

Lortelle remained silent for a while. Then, looking up to the night sky while sitting properly on the bench, she brushed her auburn hair and slowly began to speak.

“The meaning people attach to death varies… and I won’t frivolously judge your view, senior.”

However, she still had more to say, looking at me with a faint smile. It wasn’t as refreshing as usual, it seemed a bit distant, perhaps an illusion caused by the dazzling moonlight.

“I’ve also seen many die near me. Mostly, because of me.”

Lortelle leaned back against the hard bench, looking up at the top of Obel Hall, used for the student council.

“My parents were helpless. We used to eat rotten bread in the slums all day from the little money they gathered by begging. But I believe they were good people, at least until they sold me to the orphanage under the orders of Elte Guild.”

“Hard to respond to that.”

“I don’t resent it anymore. When pushed to a corner, people easily fall for just a few gold coins.”

“Unaware that their lives would be swiftly taken as a means of silencing them, they naively fell for the whispers of Elte Trading Company. Poor souls.”

“……”

“Well, that’s how I ended up as Elte’s lackey. Now I’m the acting head of the company.”

Their faces may no longer be clearly remembered.

Yet, it seems in some corner of Lortelle’s heart, her biological parents remain as kind-hearted individuals.

Even though they sold her off, she appears to accept their squalid fall from grace.

Having been cornered herself, Lortelle probably understands the psychology of such people very well.

“Do you know how much my parents were paid to sell me off? A mere three flen gold coins. Not thirty, not three hundred, just three.”

Three flen gold coins.

It’s not a negligible amount. Based on the poverty line, it could sustain basics for several months with frugality.

However, to trade one’s own flesh and blood for such a sum is unimaginable.

“That’s when it hit me. Pushing a person cornered by hardship into the abyss isn’t due to a mountain of opulent gold but immediate petty cash pressures.”

Lortelle paused there to catch her breath.

Although, the story wasn’t long enough to warrant that break.

Her voice was but a whisper, complementing the sleepy ambience of the professor’s quarters.

“Since then… I trust no one.”

In the few years Lortelle rose to prominence within Elte,

she self-taught the art of ledger-reading, memorized exchange rates, adapted to market fluctuations, handled personnel, managed crises, and tasks essential to leading a trading company—all absorbed with remarkable efficiency.

Her knack for absorption would be deemed astonishing.

While her talents extended to combat, magic, alchemy, and scholarship, her true worth derived from handling gold coins, earning her the moniker ‘Golden Daughter.’

“Years passed, and I began to see people less as individuals and more as mechanical devices, responding to my actions like clockwork.”

“……”

“Perhaps, it shared a common thread with the commander Senior Ed spoke of. Ease of trust equates to ease of betrayal. By not attempting to trust, eventually, no one trustworthy remains. In the end, the only person I can rely on is myself… See.”

Only then did Lortelle lift her gaze back onto the silent night academy.

It’s beginning to make sense why Lortelle brought me here in the middle of the night.

“The night academy is eerie and silent, isn’t it? Usual busy locations void of life, it feels like being left alone in the world.”

“… Indeed.”

“To me, days feel just like this.”

Solitude in a crowd.

A plaintive malady that gradually eats away at the spirit.

“Well, at least I have company now.”

That one time, as I looked down upon the grisly battlefield from the heights, I could almost envision my silhouette in the background.

Likely, a young Lortelle gazing upon the city of Oldec would have appeared no different.

“I told you.”

Lortelle leaned her head on my shoulder… and quietly, bathed in the gentle moonlight, closed her eyes.

“We are kin.”

* * *

“I was informed a rat had infiltrated our company. I’m in the process of catching it.”

Lortelle confided her plans as she rested her head on my shoulder.

“Since a few days ago, stock counts in the warehouse were mismatched, and ledgers appeared unnaturally manipulated… Someone’s been steadily diverting funds from our branch. Now, the cracks in the books are beginning to show.”

“Is it that Dun fella? Wasn’t he buying booze with embezzled funds?”

“Dun isn’t that bold. His modus operandi is enjoying minor luxuries using repetitive, small-scale deceit. It’s likely someone far more vile is at play.”

Lortelle adjusted her position, leaning in closer to me.

“The exposure of suspicious ledger entries implies their scheme is reaching its limits. They might soon attempt a grand theft before escaping.”

“So the recent book hoarding was…”

“A tempting bait. If book prices rise further… They’ll offload their stock for cash before our company and flee. By tracking individuals actively purchasing books, we’ll unearth that rat’s identity.”

Ultimately, it boils down to severing ties with a company comrade.

But Lortelle showed no hesitation.

“As I mentioned, my bane is… not trusting anyone. Even if that loneliness consumes me, I refuse to trust rashly. Regardless of appearances, motives are predictably cliché.”

“……”

“I fear betrayal.”

At the core of Lortelle’s psyche lies fear.

Just like many others, Lortelle is no different.

“Yet I feel fortunate. It seems like only yesterday I was sold for three gold coins, and now, I’m someone who can entice a desired individual with three gold coins for a day’s work.”

“… Isn’t three coins for a day’s rate a bit excessive?”

“I swung high initially. Anyway, I suspected you’d decline. And what if you did? That’s just one less person for me, isn’t it?”

Rubbing her face on my shoulder, Lortelle smirked seductively.

“It’s fine. What’s one less person to me?”

She didn’t explicitly state her reason. Instead, she just wrapped her arm around, gaze teasing, looking at me intently.

“You know why, right?”

Any response would seem out of touch.

So I just let Lortelle cling and nuzzle against my arm.

* * *

“I’m sorry, Miss Lortelle. I appreciate the offer, but…”

The next morning, as Lortelle left from a room in Ophelius Hall, the head maid, bell Mayar, approached her.

“Miss Lortelle’s departure from Ophelius Hall is worrisome enough, but it’s too daring for me to follow suit.”

“……”

“Three gold coins a day is quite excessive… Frankly, a generous sum for me… But I take pride in my work at Ophelius Hall.”

Belle Mayar bowed deeply.

Awakened and simply dressed, Lortelle gazed back with a compassionate expression.

“A daily rate of three coins is an audacious proposal indeed… It breaks my heart to be turned down like this….”

“Ah…”

“Of course, bell, the noble passion you have for your work isn’t something money can measure… But could you reconsider? I really don’t want to lose a maid as competent and diligent as you.”

Viewed with such tender eyes, bell felt an uneasy flutter in her heart.

However, she firmly shook her head again.

“I’m sorry.”

“I see. Well, if Belle says no, I must accept it. Then… how about a part-time arrangement?”

“Huh? A part-time arrangement…?”

Lortelle softly held Belle’s hands, speaking with a tearful voice.

“Reduce the pay to a third but come manage my villa or camp during free times. You’ve been keen on practical work, right?”

“Yes… Eh…?”

“I heard you’ve been caring for Senior Yenika. Just like that, pop by periodically for management work. It’s casual; come whenever convenient, deal with the tasks, and that’s it. Just a fixed number of visits per week… Can you at least consider this?”

Caught off guard by the unexpected proposition, bell hesitated.

But the offer wasn’t unappealing. Belle, naturally diligent, managed her maid duties alongside caring for Yenika, her time management impeccable.

Plus, a pent-up desire for more practical work, an autonomous schedule, and the fact that a girl was imploring her with tear-filled eyes—it was hard to refuse.

Feeling oddly indebted, bell found herself agreeing.

“That… if it’s just that much…”

“Wow…! Thank you, bell!”

Lortelle clapped jubilantly.

“Then… I’ll send the contract under your name!”

The negotiation was a swift affair, with the contract already prepared.

Watching Lortelle retire to her room with a bright smile, bell realized…

The offer was a decoy from the start.

They had laid the groundwork for ‘rejection,’ leading to an enforceable follow-up contract.

Well… it is just like her to do so.

Not that Belle was oblivious.

It was merely the irony of being outplayed that made her chuckle.

Watching Lortelle, foxy grin intact, return to her quarters, bell laughed hollowly.

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3 responses to “The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 136”

  1. Hmm. So moreso than the time loops, Ed’s trauma seems to stem from his first life.

    1. Niels Løgstrup Mulvad Avatar
      Niels Løgstrup Mulvad

      I don’t know about that, wasn’t the MC described as a young normie/game addict? To me it seems more like he is describing the trauma of seeing Adelle dead (she has been described as haunting him in the last few chapters).

      1. He’s referencing his past life right before talking about a foreign battlefield. Adelle’s death caused him to have PTSD over his time at war.

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