The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 144

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Gold Return (2)

The Rothtaylor territory is located on the most coveted land at the heart of the Empire, an incredibly large expanse. Its position is truly exquisite.

To enter the imperial capital of Clorel from the bustling cities on the western coast of the continent, one almost invariably had to pass through the Rothtaylor territory.

The lay of the land seemed to be a physical manifestation of the Rothtaylor family’s role in guarding the Clorel imperial family—so much so that the people of the Empire often referred to the Rothtaylor territory as the Shield of the Capital.

Indeed, those who had passed through the Rothtaylor territory couldn’t help but agree that the reason for its reputation as the Empire’s most valuable land was well deserved.

The warm sunshine lazily descends onto the plains with gentle paths stretching far into the horizon. The scenery, so vast that it opened up one’s chest, resembled paradise itself.

Resting against the carriage wall while taking in the serene route could make one forget all the worries in their head, allowing for a peaceful rest to the sound of the carriage wheels.

This was also true for Tanya, who had spent nearly her entire life in the Rothtaylor territory.

As the carriage entered the Rothtaylor lands, familiar landscapes came into her view. Under normal circumstances, the tranquil scenery of the Rothtaylor territory would bring peace to her mind.

“……”

However, Tanya’s complexion was pale as if overtaken by the chill of winter, steadfastly focusing straight ahead.

The carriage could seat up to four passengers, with two long benches facing each other.

Excluding the coachman, the group was precisely four, so there was a spot for each.

Yet, one seat remained empty—because Lucy Mayrill was not seated.

“Um…”

To Tanya, the senior Lucy Mayrill seemed like an enigma, a person with fourth-dimensional quirks.

Having seen both her tired, sluggish states and the fiery anger that reached her head, Tanya found it challenging to figure out how to interact with Lucy.

Usually, Ed Rothtaylor, her brother, would keep Lucy in check, but this time, the situation was subtly different.

Lucy, gently breathing in Ed’s lap like a newborn chick, curled up in a pose unlike her usual languid self, a sight to which Tanya couldn’t quite adapt.

Right beside Tanya, sitting across and staring intently at Lucy was Yenika.

With the stern posture and calculated breaths Yenika displayed, one would think laser beams might shoot out of her eyes at any moment—a stark reminder of the scolding Tanya had once received from Yenika.

“……”

All women around Ed Rothtaylor were formidable in their own right.

Whether it was the celestial girl-like Yenika, the fluttering feather-like Lucy, or the mature-looking Lortelle, recalling their hidden sides made Tanya shiver at the thought.

Despite the significant implication that Ed’s association with any of these women could bring changes to the family dynamics, Tanya, plagued by accumulated trauma, was silent and unable to speak up.

―Evil.

Just then, Yenika rose slightly from her seat.

The very Ed Rothtaylor was leaning asleep against the carriage wall.

They had been through a long journey, having to spend the night outdoors twice. As fatigue set in, the party members had become less talkative and visibly drained.

Lucy, who had fallen asleep, started twisting and muttering in her sleep before naturally climbing onto Ed’s lap and curling up.

Unable to tolerate such a sight, Yenika promptly pulled Lucy back to the seat next to her.

“Ye, senior Yenika…”

“Sleeping like this… is dangerous…”

After reseating Lucy and sitting back down herself, Lucy once more climbed onto Ed’s lap, her consciousness seemingly returning bit by bit.

Yenika tried repeatedly to seat Lucy back down, but Lucy was adamant about resting in Ed’s lap. She was resolutely determined.

“Uh… Eek…”

In the end, to prevent Lucy from climbing onto Ed’s lap, the only solution was to block the path entirely.

Yenika, fretting, eventually sat down on Ed’s lap herself.

“……”

And then, meeting Tanya’s eyes, she bowed her head in awkward embarrassment, yet she remained firmly seated on Ed’s lap.

Lucy, eyes wide open, stared at Yenika, who in return sat up straight as if to say, “What are you going to do about it?”

Yenika was more substantial than the petite Lucy; the carriage space was not so generous that one could move freely without worry of touching here and there.

Still, Yenika clenched her teeth and maintained control over Ed’s lap, her last stand of pride leaving Tanya wordless and unable to intercede.

“… What’s going on?”

Shortly after, Ed woke up, startled, and jumped up, hitting his head on the carriage ceiling.

* * *

“We should arrive by tomorrow.”

The procession had just entered the Rothtaylor territory, but there was still some distance to the manor.

Stuck to Ed’s back was Lucy, and Yenika was eyeing her fiercely.

In the midst of all this, Tanya was nervously nibbling on bacon.

The camping… albeit called such, the carriage driver’s variety of luxurious tents and camping tools made the experience not too harsh.

Around the campfire, dining together, the group felt a chill despite the peak of summer—a testament to the formidable powers that Yenika and Lucy possessed.

For Tanya, aware of their strength, watching the spark between them was nothing short of horror.

Even before their quarrel, the two girls were already objects of fear for Tanya, akin to playing with fire next to a pile of gunpowder.

Meanwhile, Ed managed the situation well, mediating between the two with a measure of grace despite his evident discomfort.

“Oh, brother…”

At her wit’s end, all Tanya could do was stick to trembling in the middle of the journey.

“You, you seem very close to both of them…”

Tanya’s sharp political sense pinpointed exactly what needed to be done at the moment.

It was crucial to pick the right side.

Who to side with in order to survive was clear; the crux was gauging whom Ed favored.

“……”

While stuffing bread into his mouth, Ed glanced at Tanya.

They had had many conversations during the carriage ride.

They spoke about how Ed came to know and befriend people like Yenika and Lucy. How he lived after the expulsion, the trials he’d faced, and how he overcame them.

Just listening to the tales was awe-inspiring, and Tanya could deeply understand the significance that Yenika and Lucy held for Ed.

Yenika was not only Ed’s closest friend and competitor of the same age but also a companion who fostered many fond attachments by living side by side through thick and thin.

Especially since she supported and cheered for Ed from his bare-fisted days, she represented something akin to a steadfast partner in Tanya’s eyes, making her feel more at ease.

Lucy, on the other hand, was a reliable ally who often became part of Ed’s strength, providing solutions when trapped in a tight spot. As Ed seemed to be one of the few who deeply understood Lucy’s feelings and life’s twists, and considering that his presence was of immense importance to Lucy, who was searching for a reason in life, it appeared Ed, despite his posture, also leaned on Lucy emotionally. The bond they shared made it hard to imagine one without the other.

The issue was that while there was only one man, there were two women—or even more if one considered the general state of the academy. A dramatic confusion could ensue if Lortelle got involved—too complex a situation for Tanya to fathom, leaving her holding her breath. It was a relief that for now, the only people Ed deemed necessary to bring immediately were these two.

Amid this engulfing atmosphere, the coachman addressed Tanya.

“Miss Tanya, when we return to the estate tomorrow, it seems you’ll commence discussions regarding the seal negotiations.”

“Ah, that’s right. Nearly a year has passed since the seal changed hands, so initiating purchase negotiations now shouldn’t arouse undue suspicion.”

If the seal was reacquired immediately after transferring to Lortelle, the overt ties between Elte Trading Company and the Rothtaylor family would be too glaringly obvious and raise doubts.

Thus, the Rothtaylor family was timing the purchase negotiations accordingly. Now that Elte Trading Company likely wanted to realize its profit from the seal, it was time to advance the purchase talks.

“It so happens that one of the key figures of Elte, Roland, will be attending the social gathering; perhaps you could engage in dialogue about it.”

“In fact, the fastest and clearest course would be to speak with senior Lortelle… but meeting privately with the head decision-maker of Elte as the student council president of the academy could spawn all sorts of rumors…”

“Best to preliminarily conclude on estimates and outcomes, then proceed once the term begins.”

As the coachman suggested this, Tanya nodded.

Just as she was about to take another sip of the herb tea the coachman had brewed for her――

“Yenika Faelover.”

She heard that name being spoken.

Instinctively, everyone’s gaze turned toward Lucy Mayrill, who was hugging Ed’s back.

It was the first time for Tanya to hear Lucy directly call someone by name without using pronouns like that guy, that old man, or that person.

It had been assumed that Lucy simply couldn’t be bothered to remember others’ names, but now, that theory was shattered.

Even Ed looked surprised as he turned to Lucy.

And then Lucy spoke directly to Yenika.

“Ease it down a bit. There’s a bunch of spirits around here too, you know.”

At the end of this wearisome standoff, a preemptive strike finally took flight.

Tanya inhaled sharply and couldn’t exhale, tensed by the unfolding confrontation.

“…What?”

“It’s always a swarm of spirits hanging around the camp, rushing to you and chattering away whenever something comes up.”

Lucy seemed to be making a point that Tanya could guess at. Yenika immediately tensed her shoulders and the sweat began to trickle down her brow.

“Have you never thought about what it feels like to be watched like this, every single move being reported to you, day and night?”

Upon hearing Lucy’s words, Yenika gulped and glanced sidelong at Ed’s expression.

Ed Rothtaylor was already aware that his immediate surroundings were usually filled with spirits.

Though the northern forest wasn’t swarming with spirits everywhere you went, the campsite had always had a consistent presence of them.

Since Ed didn’t feel he had anything to hide or be ashamed of, he didn’t pay it much attention.

However, Lucy, who frequently visited the camp, seemed to be bothered by this, hence her direct confrontation with Yenika.

“Sneaky.”

“The spirits, they do as they please…”

“There was a way to stop them, but you didn’t. Pretending to be so innocent…”

Tanya narrowed her eyes and glanced sharply at Yenika. Yenika, feeling the weight of Tanya’s gaze, fidgeted with her fingers and kept averting her eyes.

Unable to watch any longer, Ed, while stuffing his mouth with bacon and bread, said,

“It’s fine. I don’t really mind. Well, given my position, there are safety reasons, and it’s not like the spirits are known for being tight-lipped—it’s been that way for more than a day or two. In fact, I’ve received a lot of help from them.”

“See…! The person concerned isn’t bothered…!”

“But I… didn’t expect them to report my every move…”

As Yenika heaved a sigh of restraint, Lucy spun around to sit on Ed’s lap. Yenika, despite narrowing her eyebrows, couldn’t help but be concerned about Ed’s reaction.

“Kiki… Was it upsetting?”

“It’s not upsetting, but… I just didn’t know about it. Don’t worry too much about it.”

“Ugh…”

Yenika pouted and could not muster a comeback.

Although Ed had never ordered the spirits to report his every action, he didn’t discourage them from prattling about him either.

Not actively preventing it doesn’t make the culpability any less, so Yenika had no choice but to keep her mouth shut.

“Creepy, sly, damp…”

Lucy, sitting on Ed’s lap, kept murmuring such things. Despite speaking in a sleepy voice with her half-moon-shaped eyes half-closed, there seemed to be a smile hidden beneath her words.

Yenika found Lucy’s behavior vexatious, but unfortunately, it was all facts—irrefutable.

“If I were you, I’d be sorry enough to keep my distance but—”

Just when Lucy began to ramble, Ed grabbed her cheek, stretching the small flesh.

“Ease up. You know better than anyone that Yenika didn’t do it with ill intent.”

“Ed…!”

As Yenika nodded, her voice tinged with gratitude, Lucy puffed her cheeks and tugged at Ed’s tie, her face full of dissatisfaction. She couldn’t use force against Ed, so this was her form of protest.

Ed continued speaking as he patted Lucy’s head.

“Once we arrive at the mansion, we’ll have a simple luncheon, and then I have to meet my father. We might even have lunch together.”

Now that Rothtaylor Mansion was near, it was time to discuss tomorrow’s plans in advance.

“After we introduce ourselves and have a chat, we’ll talk about the social gatherings… and we’ll be assigned our rooms. Ideally, Lucy should be assigned the room closest to me.”

“Wh… Why?”

Startled, Yenika asked.

“You, Yenika, might need to be a bit more isolated. I want you to use the spirits discreetly and get a good grasp of the overall layout of the mansion.”

“I’m quite familiar with the structure already, brother.”

“Listening to descriptions and actually checking are two very different things. And monitor the flow of magic closely to detect any unnatural or suspicious areas.”

Patting Lucy’s head, Ed urged his companions adamantly.

“We are here to find evidence that could expose the true nature of Crebin Rothtaylor. Let’s not forget that. Along with our testimony as insiders, if we can find solid evidence, Crebin’s position could be shaken.”

“……”

Yenika and Lucy showed little reaction, but Tanya’s face shadowed with concern.

Tanya, a girl who lived her life in admiration of Crebin and for the glory of the Rothtaylor name, had her perceptions greatly altered after learning about the darker side these past few months and having even faced murder allegations herself.

Her heart must be conflicted at the thought of bringing down Crebin, given her heritage as the Rothtaylor family’s lady.

Human emotions are not so easily organized, and Ed hoped Tanya would manage to keep her feelings in check while in the Rothtaylor household.

At that moment, Lucy spoke up.

“There’s no need for me to be in the next room. I have to keep a watchful eye on you at all times.”

The Rothtaylor Mansion was practically enemy territory.

Lucy, it seemed, was always intent on protecting me.

She hugged her knees and said in her usual dull voice,

“Just share a room with me. We can just ask for it.”

Silence enveloped the room.

Tanya felt a shiver run down her spine and could not bear to look at Yenika’s expression.

“What on earth are you talking about…?”

“You have a mission to understand the mansion’s interior discreetly, but my job is to guard his safety.”

“Ed… Such foolish words…”

Yenika was at a loss for words, especially seeing Ed seriously considering the notion.

After all, Ed was risking his life in this. There was too much at stake to make excuses and take unnecessary risks.

Seeing Ed’s thoughtfulness, Yenika felt her head spin.

* * *

The walls encircling the Rothtaylor Mansion became visible from afar.

The sheer scale of the compound was astonishing—more akin to a village than a mere mansion.

The estate included a small hill, and a clock tower adorned with the family’s emblem towered high.

The main building, servant quarters, warehouses, and even the buildings erected for garden maintenance… just the structures in sight numbered half a dozen.

This was indeed the birthplace and stronghold of Ed and Tanya Rothtaylor, from which the Rothtaylor commanded the continent.

A mansion befitting the family’s grandeur, much larger than the Ophelius Hall where the academy’s distinguished guests resided.

Understandably, it would only diminish a great power’s prestige if their estate were smaller than an academy’s accommodation.

As the charioteers opened the grand gates and welcomed us, a beautifully decorated path leading to the estate unfolded, lined with roses and trees.

Entering the mansion grounds, whether it were the cornered lord’s subjects or retainers, they all bowed respectfully to the carriage.

Here, a Rothtaylor was equivalent to the emperor, a deity in their own right—commanding greater immediate authority than the distant Clorel Emperor.

After a lengthy carriage ride, we arrived at the entrance where a host of maids and servants were neatly lined up to greet us.

“We’ve finally arrived.”

The driver courteously opened the carriage door, revealing the grand entrance of the immense mansion.

Marble stairs adorned with flowers presented a majestic sight, flanked by the bowing lines of servants—an overwhelming scene for Yenika, a commoner.

Predictably, Lucy showed no concern.

“Your journey must have been tiring.”

As the driver stepped aside and Tanya nodded first, she gracefully accepted the escort, alighting from the carriage and handed her luggage over to a servant.

Lucy, who sat by the door, hopped down casually, but Yenika, daunted by the surrounding glances, stumbled awkwardly.

Clearly out of her element among the gentry, she shuffled forward, fingers twiddling, until a servant politely offered to carry her luggage, and she recoiled in surprise.

Truly, some cannot escape their common roots.

Then I descended, effortlessly passing my personal luggage to a servant.

―Bang! Thud!

At that instant, my small wooden suitcase toppled and rolled onto the ground. It seemed my hand had released its grip too soon.

Silence spread through the entrance, an unease among the servants as if catastrophe had struck.

“I’m… I beg your pardon…! Master Ed…!”

The servant who was handling my luggage suddenly prostrated on the ground.

“The splendor of your homecoming was so dazzling, I… this unworthy one is mortified to have bungled…!”

He groveled as if haunted by trauma, desperately pleading.

One could guess from this the sort of person Ed Rothtaylor had been.

I intended to speak but instead simply picked up the wooden suitcase. The servant twitched, assuming I would wield the suitcase as a weapon against him.

Glancing around, the lined-up servants were motionless, with a closer look revealing their sweat-drenched foreheads.

“It’s fine. I can carry it,” I said and entered the mansion, carrying my suitcase.

The usage maintained a strange silence, an odd tension I felt I almost understood…so I refrained from making a fuss.

* * *

Upon entering, the first thing to catch one’s attention was a massive portrait.

Behind an eagle statue symbolizing the Rothtaylor’s prestige, the huge painting dominated the wall.

Typically, the spot is reserved for the founder’s portrait or the current head’s, a reminder of the family’s lineage to all who visit.

However, the painting hanging in the Rothtaylor lobby depicted a young woman.

Her wide eyes brimmed with vitality, and her long flowing blonde hair exuded warmth as much as her gentle heart did.

A soft, graceful smile on her face generated a soothing presence.

The inscription beneath read her name clearly.

“Arwen Rothtaylor.”

“You’re seeing Arwen’s portrait for the first time in a while, brother. When you were in residence, you seemed to despise it strangely enough.”

Tanya stopped mid-sentence, gasping as if she had misspoken, concerned she might have erred.

I shook my head and just gazed back up at the large portrait.

She’s no longer in this world.

Nor do I have the position to lecture about her.

I simply wondered about Crebin’s motives in hanging Arwen’s portrait so grandly.

Was it a gesture of mourning for a daughter gone too soon? Or, intended as a tribute to a Rothtaylor lady who had been a role model?

Maybe only the man himself would know.

“They’re here.”

At that moment, the grand wooden doors atop the lobby staircase opened, and a man, followed by several servants, appeared.

“You’ve had a long journey.”

He was wrapped in opulently tailored clothes, adorned with expensive fabrics, and draped in a thick cloak.

Youthful to an unseemly degree for his age, owed to a simple reason: wealth.

I looked up at Crebin standing on the balcony and slowly began,

“It’s been a long time, father.”

What response would he have for that?

During the ensuing silence… Crebin finally spoke.

“Yes, I’ve been very concerned. I’ve missed you. Ed, my son.”

Crebin’s smiling face seemed to melt away any displeasure.

However, none from the party could feel the bond of family in that smile, recognizing the multiple layers of masks… they knew all too well.

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One response to “The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 144”

  1. Man Lucy and Yennika are both amazing, but I think I’m slightly leaning towards Lucy

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