The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 146

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Triumphant Return, Part 4

Third Princess Phoenia returned to the Clorel Imperial Palace.

It has been a year and a half since Princess Phoenia, who always stayed in the palace, left for the Sylvania Academy. Her graceful presence always drew admiration as she strolled through the palace, lovingly embracing the servants.

The people of the palace had worried about her spending four years abroad until graduation. However, returning during the holidays had somewhat eased those concerns. This vacation was no exception; it was her third holiday since enrolling in Sylvania.

The footguards and servants all paid their respected greetings at the sight of Princess Phoenia, who they have not seen in a while. With her sparkling platinum blonde hair, which matched perfectly with her dress, and her dignified yet graceful demeanor, it was undoubtedly the Phoenia they always looked up to.

Crossing through the palace’s grand gates with the grandeur of a returning general, Phoenia entered the majestic Rose Palace to offer her prayers to the divine Telos. A procession of numerous attendants followed behind her, resembling a festive parade.

Entering the audience chamber, Phoenia greeted the Emperor of Clorel with a formal bow.

“I have returned for the holidays, Father. How has your health been in the meantime?”

“It’s truly been a long time, Phoenia. My health has always been on thin ice. Perhaps because I do not follow the physician’s advice and concentrate too much on my work.”

“Even if the people of the world exalt Father’s name, what is the point if Father’s own well-being is compromised?”

“A valid point. However, not only my body but yours doesn’t seem to be in the best of health either.”

Phoenia was suddenly at a loss for words.

She had returned to the palace with splendid adornment and proud elegance. To anyone, she appeared as beautiful and benevolent as the day she left to go to the palace.

Yet, the look in the Emperor of Clorel’s eyes as he regarded her had deepened. Having watched over Phoenia since her childhood, there was something unnaturally forced about her current state to him.

For example, she typically excitedly shared her experiences and newly learned facts when she met the emperor, rather than voicing concerns for his wellbeing. It was only after her enthusiastic storytelling that she would belatedly ask about his wellbeing, so lively was she as a young girl.

Phoenia’s childhood was not filled with only happy occurrences.

Despite living at the apex of power and enduring all kinds of covert struggles, she often showed a proactive and vigorous demeanor before the Emperor of Clorel. It was this resilience that made the emperor hold Phoenia in high esteem.

Yet, as time passed in Sylvania, Phoenia seemed to be gradually losing her proactive nature.

Now, welcoming her third holiday since starting at Sylvania, the emperor started worrying for Phoenia.

The changes in Phoenia were all too familiar to the emperor, who had dealt with many challenges and failures throughout his reign.

“Have you faced frustration after numerous failures?”

Challenged by the point-blank question, Phoenia chose to remain silent.

Her time in Sylvania had been filled with various experiences and incidents, yet nothing ever seemed to go as Phoenia planned, a stark contrast to her life at the palace.

The emperor could not precisely know which challenges she had faced—it could be academic, social relationships, or a deep frustration with the realities of political logic.

Growth in humans is often wrought from countless frustrations; the emperor was not ignorant of this fact. Nonetheless, it was painful for him to watch his daughter born of his blood walk such a difficult path.

The disillusionment of Crown Prince Lindon, who renounced his right to the throne due to the wearisome court intrigue, remained a poignant wound to the emperor. He did not wish for history to repeat itself.

“I feel…I may be too lacking to take up the throne.”

“Phoenia.”

“Indeed, having been absent from the palace for a long time, my standing has weakened.”

Power within the imperial household was slowly shifting towards the First Princess Sella.

Position in the royal court is built on the support of key bureaucrats.

With the Imperial Prime Minister, the Lord Commander of the Guard, the leaders of the Knight Orders, and the Chief Steward slowly shifting their allegiances towards Sella, little formidable personnel were left loyal to Phoenia.

Authority, after all, is upheld by those below.

As those who supported Phoenia dwindled, so her connection with the imperial power grew more distant.

Phoenia was well aware of this reality. However, she lacked the will to rebuild her foundation.

Chronic lethargy was consuming Princess Phoenia.

* * *

“Since the heir to the Rothtaylor family, Ed Rothtaylor, was expelled, I thought he would cling to Phoenia’s side. Had it not been for the Rothtaylor family, there would have been no occasion to learn of this fact.”

Finished with her attire and her noble dignity on full display, entering the audience chamber was like the air inside had frozen over.

It was the signature, chilling atmosphere given off by Sella Einar Clorel, known as the Frost Princess.

Despite only wearing a comfortable lace slip, her chilly aura was unmistakable as she sat at her office desk.

Turning an adult this year, she became the first of Emperor Clorel’s three daughters and one son to come of age.

From the moment she concluded her adult ceremony, she had made her intentions clear: she was determined to contend for the throne. Yet, no one in the imperial household was surprised or found it peculiar. Rather, many considered Sella the most likely to surpass Princess Phoenia.

Whereas Second Princess Persica aspired to be a knowledgeable ruler versed in various fields, and Third Princess Phoenia sought to be a virtuous ruler accepting of all ranks, First Princess Sella dreamt of ruling supreme, leveraging her high authority and power.

A strong and stable nation arises from such high authority and centralized power, the monarch being the steadfast core of the mighty empire. This was Sella’s conception of governance.

Therefore, Sella was exceptionally sensitive to shifts in the balance of power and its direction.

“Yet, it was Phoenia who suggested the expulsion of Ed Rothtaylor. They should have been sworn enemies, one would assume. What happened between them while in Acken to prompt Phoenia to trust him with such a candid letter?”

Loyal Steward Dest poured tea into the empty cup again as he stood by Sella.

Sella was reading Phoenia’s letter handed to her by Crebin Rothtaylor, making sure the sound of pouring wouldn’t disrupt her focus. The peak of seasoned stewardship was evident in his every action.

Dest, attired in a refined suit with pristine white gloves and a red bowtie, displayed flawless, deliberate movements with his neatly trimmed, square beard.

Having managed Sella’s private residence, the Lurr Palace, for seventeen years, the steward was among Sella’s closest allies.

To Sella, seemingly bare as she wore nothing over her slip, the presence of Dest wasn’t even acknowledged. The difference in their statuses was so vast that she didn’t consider him human.

To her, status differentiation went beyond mere hierarchy; it divided humans and those less than human, which explained her lack of precaution with anyone less significant than the Rothtaylor family.

While her hair was a similar platinum shade to Princess Phoenia’s, it had a subtle bluish tint, giving it a unique coolness. After sliding her bluish tresses aside, Sella murmured as if deep in thought.

“The contents of the letter itself are trivial—a simple greeting asking after the Rothtaylor’s wellbeing, the sort sent periodically with the seasons.”

“Then, the letter is…”

“Yes, it’s not the content but the form that’s key. Why send such a letter through Ed Rothtaylor’s hand in this delicate time? It feels like a preemptive declaration that Ed Rothtaylor is marked as her man; she is making a stand.”

Princess Phoenia was now a formidable threat to Sella.

If Phoenia aimed to pull someone of such importance her way, Sella could not take it lightly.

Legs crossed, chin resting on her hand, Sella lifted the teacup with a chilly gaze toward its rim.

Her alluring bare leg extended, lightly tapping the edge of her luxurious, solid wooden desk.

“Is he worth the effort?”

This question nestled quietly in a corner of Sella’s mind.

“I cannot say for sure.”

No criterion is as effective in assessing another person as the opinions of others, yet these should never become the sole definitive standard.

Sella was someone who always relied on her own judgment, though she could consider others’ evaluations.

“Well, testing the waters a few times in social gatherings should suffice. The events begin tonight anyway.”

“Your attire for the event, Princess Sella?”

“I trust your taste.”

The Rothtaylor family’s social events, spanning five days, escalate in grandeur toward their culmination. On the final evening, the vast garden is used to create an enormous party space.

Given that the attending dignitaries are commonly consumed with their busy lives, getting them all together is no small feat. Hence, a grand event on the last day to gather everyone signifies the importance of communal presence.

The five-day schedule is straight-forward: evening parties, social gatherings, and banquets, while mornings are reserved for rest in individual quarters.

Afternoons are spent in private meetings among the notable guests, whether in personal chambers, gardens, or nearby pavilions, where like-minded individuals engage in intimate conversations.

Then, as evening falls, all reconvene for the social event. As the days progress, the growing crowd becomes quite a spectacle.

“Who arrived on the first day?”

“Besides you, Princess Sella, not many notable individuals. Jahl, the Marquis at the borders, and Sinir Bloomriver, the head of the Bloomriver family. Most others are minor nobility trying to enhance their connections.”

Dest subtly slid a document towards Sella—a list of visitors he had meticulously sorted, omitting the lesser nobility and highlighting the arrival schedule of figures warranting Sella’s attention.

“Legion Commander Magnus on the third day, saint Clarice on the second… and investor Roland on the third…”

Forcius, commander of the Northern Plains defense forces, would arrive with Magnus. He was already aligned with Sella’s faction.

Due to the significant military influence commanded by Magnus, Sella was eager to strengthen their rapport.

Furthermore, it seemed certain that Archbishop Samal of the Telos Order would also join. When Samal succeeded the excommunicated Archbishop Verdieu, Sella rejoiced.

Samal, deeply indebted to Sella since his bishop days, assumed power, bolstering her influence within the Telos Order. As Archbishop, Samal could directly converse with Saint Clarice and assert his opinions confidently.

This meeting presented an opportunity to solidify that connection further.

Investor Roland from the Elte Trading Company was also compelled to heed Sella’s will.

With a history of revisiting trade laws benefiting the Chloeron branch of Elte at her behest, Roland was well aware that the imperial authority could strangle his enterprise at any moment.

In the guild, his direct superior and the de facto power holder of the mercantile company, Lortelle Keheln, would also be a contact he could forge.

“The problem seems to be with the city of alchemy, Crete…”

Skimming through the papers, Sella pulled her draped hair back and tossed it over her nape.

Balvern, revered as a master in the land of alchemy, Crete, had no ties with him. He was an eccentric researcher, buried in seclusion.

It was truly a matter of building relations from the ground up.

“Should we prepare a gift? I’ve heard alchemists prefer practical gifts over ceremonial ones. Arranging test tubes or expendable alchemical supplies in a nice package might ingratiate you with them.”

“Can you procure them now? We’re in the territory of Rothtaylor.”

“Lord Balvern will arrive on the fourth day, so there’s enough time to match it.”

“Please take care of it.”

With those words, Sella put the documents down.

Swinging her crossed legs idly, Sella let out a cold laugh.

“Let’s see if I can open a conversation with the renowned patriarch of the Bloomriver family tonight.”

Of course, the social gathering where she would do this was scheduled for tonight. The sun was still high in the sky.

“But before that… Hmmm…”

* * *

Bang!

About a dozen wolves, created through illusion magic, vanished instantly, engulfed in flames.

Ice spears thrown afterward were also consumed by the massive magical power as they were manifested.

The magic was executed with serious intent.

The white-haired middle-aged woman, Sinir Bloomriver, the matriarch of the Bloomriver family, was incredibly shocked, but she didn’t let it show on the surface.

“Is it over…?”

On one side of the central garden of the Rothtaylor family, a dueling training ground was set up.

There, a girl who had deftly handled all of Sinir’s spells, was yawning. Lucy Mayrill, with her pretty white hair neatly tied back.

Members of the Rothtaylor family were gathered, watching the duel. A side table with refreshments and the wooden stands to block the sunlight all had an air of antiquity.

At the center, Crebin Rothtaylor was visible, and his children, Ed and Tanya, were beside him.

“Not a single scratch…”

Sinir let out a word of admiration.

The Bloomriver family was the empire’s leading magical lineage.

Unlike those who delve deep into magical studies and academic fields, they primarily dealt with practical combat spells designed for victory in duels.

Sometimes employing sly and wicked magic for victory, the Bloomriver family was known within the empire as “the house of witches.”

The matriarch, Sinir Bloomriver, was herself a crafty witch through and through.

But all schemes are reduced to mere tricks before pure power.

Incredibly, this feeling extended even to Lucy Mayrill, a mere student, who seemed to have magical prowess far beyond the years Sinir had spent leading the mighty Bloomriver family.

Sinir gulped down her dry spit.

She had arranged this duel herself.

During last winter’s break, she had heard plenty about the freshman Lucy Mayrill who had entered the academy.

Trissiana Bloomriver, the current Sylvania Ministry of Magic’s 4th-year valedictorian, and her twin sister, Patricia, were both members of the Bloomriver family, Sinir’s children.

The twin sisters returned home during the break and couldn’t stop talking about Lucy Mayrill, so Sinir was curious to see how capable she was.

The result was beyond imagination.

Sinir couldn’t inflict even a single scratch on Lucy.

As Sinir sweated coldly and nodded, Lucy turned her head without a word of thanks and yawned.

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