The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 15

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Joint Combat Practice (2)

I’m not sure who first coined the term “butterfly effect”, but the idea behind it is truly brilliant. The small wind derived from the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cross the ocean and turn into a hurricane that engulfs buildings on a distant continent… or so the concept roughly translates.

It’s a phrase commonly used when talking about chaos theory and how it’s nearly impossible to control the future given the numerous variables in play. They say that even the slightest deviation in an initial condition can affect entropy exponentially…

There’s no need to overcomplicate it. From what I gather, it’s just that a seemingly trivial matter can snowball into an unexpectedly significant outcome.

The deep point seems to be: don’t try to control every little thing in the world, roughly speaking.

I never dreamt that I’d truly experience the weight of that statement during this joint combat practice.

Indeed, there’s not a single falsehood in old sayings.

*

One of the three buildings of the student council, nail Hall, has traditionally served as the venue for joint combat classes.

The well-maintained Colosseum-style arena and spectator seats shone, their every seat and floor scrubbed to a gleam. Even the training grounds for physical combat reflected the noble elegance expected from such a prestigious school.

I sat among the spectator seats, watching the simulated combat practice play out before me.

This year’s freshmen were literally in a war of stars. Gems that would typically be found once or twice in a year filled the grade to the brim, inevitably drawing the attention of sophomores.

Among them, the trio that earned the stern Professor Glast’s recognition stood out: Zix wielder of the Spear of Grass, Golden Daughter Lortelle, and the Slothful Lucy.

The public’s interest completely concentrated on these three newcomers from the magic department.

– Boom!

“Thank you. It was a valuable experience. Your control over magic was particularly impressive. I’ve learned a great deal.”

In the central arena, one of them, Zix — a descendant of northern nomads — had just concluded a bout using wind magic to catapult a senior offstage.

His long, curly hair that fell to his neck fluttered from the aftermath.

“I hope to learn from you again in the future.”

And with those polite words, he bowed. That guy is definitely not right in the head.

Zix’s opponent, a second-year from the magic department… What was his name… Mikael? Anyway, he was being helped out by attendants, unable to collect his wits.

In these student combat practices between first and second years, only basic magic was permitted. Still, judging from what I’ve seen, Zix’s mastery of magic hardly seemed limited to the basics.

If he were to invoke more advanced spells, his display of power would likely be much more formidable.

A murmur spread among the second-year students.

– “Another victory for the first years.”

– “At this rate, none of the sophomores will stand a chance.”

– “What’s up with these new students? How did so many monsters end up in the same place?”

The joint combat practice, almost a traditional event by now, took a devastating turn. The term “senior” no longer held any meaning as the sophomores were systematically decimated by the freshmen. It got to a point where the latter seemed merely showpieces highlighting the abilities of the former.

Truly a sad state of affairs.

[ The following students please finish preparations for the practice and report to the waiting room. Lucy Mayrill, Taely McLore. ]

The much-awaited combat roster announcement caused a fresh stir among the crowd. The moment has arrived.

I adjusted my sitting posture and focused on the stage.

Public attention would naturally drift towards Sylvania Academy’s unprecedented genius, Lucy Mayrill.

However, this plot twist merely served as a narrative device to focus the limelight on the protagonist.

The true subject of interest should be Taely McLore, born with the fate of a Sword Saint in this world. He never held a sword before, yet his first swing cleaved through Lucy’s swift magic.

His opponent is momentarily stunned as his expected hit is blocked, allowing Taely to rapidly close the distance. Startled, Lucy lashes out with an intermediate-level lightning spell, thunder Strike.

While Taely falls to the reflexive strike, Lucy’s use of a mid-class spell results in her disqualification, and Taely wins the honor of being the first to defeat Lucy Mayrill in combat.

[ Lucy Mayrill, please finish preparations and ascend to the combat platform. ]

What an epic scene.

Taely, who spent a lifetime riddled with accusations of talentlessness, even receiving dismal treatment at Sylvania, suffered through a life full of trials, always failing in combat classes and rebuked by the likes of Ed Rothtaylor.

Despite everything, Taely never halted his training. His perseverance was about to be rewarded. The drama of the production couldn’t be understated; even his childhood friend Aila shed tears at the sight, her face highlighted in a poignant close-up.

[ Lucy Mayrill, once again, please prepare for the practice and ascend to the combat platform. ]

…?

[ Lucy Mayrill, please come up to the platform. Lucy Mayrill. ]

Where is she?

*

The odd sense of exhilaration I felt as Taely McLore stepped onto the stage is hard to put into words.

Though it was a world beyond the screen, I had lived through his life several times over, experiencing everything from dismal bad endings to profound true endings.

Concurrently, I couldn’t help but consider the trials that lay in Taely’s path.

He was destined to be a Sword Saint, but his journey was anything but smooth. There was not a single route before him that wasn’t fraught with hardship.

So, I decided I would cheer him on.

I’d resolved to focus on my own life and offer support to this character, who would shoulder all the tribulations that Sylvania had in store.

“I will do my utmost best with all my strength!”

Taely’s energetic greeting from the stage was met with encouraging applause.

Yes, it was applause of ‘encouragement’. The attendees saw all too clearly the fate awaiting the boy about to be crushed by Lucy Mayrill.

They’re oblivious to his true talent. This boy outshines all the students gathered here today.

Knowing what I do, I find myself looking forward to the inevitable public opinion shift.

But that aside, what was I doing at that moment?

“Uek, aah!”

I was pinching Lucy Mayrill’s cheeks.

The location was an auxiliary podium set up behind the central stage at Nail Hall. Clearly having drifted there during a sleepy lull in the joint combat class, it was the perfect spot for a nap.

Considering it would be too conspicuous for her to exit Nail Hall, a secluded spot like the underside of an auxiliary podium would have been the obvious choice for a nap.

I had just discovered Lucy, curled under there and asleep.

“Ah, uek.”

“Hey, wake up. Wake up, it’s your turn.”

After much effort to rouse her, Lucy Mayrill lifted her upper body from underneath…

“Rothtaylor still in school? Wow, he’s really tenacious.”

“And why is he getting all chummy with the top freshman?”

“They look close, right?”

“Are they really friends? Isn’t that just a guardian?”

It was quite amusing to see a sophomore who suffered the most humiliating defeat and a freshman, the most glorified top student, bickering and fixing each other’s hair. I finished tidying my hair, feeling embarrassed myself.

Then, still half-asleep, I helped Lucy stand up and straightened her casually worn coat. I tucked in the shirt hem peeking over her skirt, tightened it properly, and set her disheveled collar straight.

Next, I pulled up her slipping knee sock and tightened her tie, and she looked reasonably tidy. The sleeve cuffs were long because she didn’t pay much attention to the uniform size and just grabbed whatever—nothing could be done about that.

“Okay now?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Go on out then.”

Pushing Lucy’s back, I sent her off to the arena. Yawning hugely, as if the entirety of existence was a nuisance, Lucy stood opposite Taely and…

[ “Let the duel begin…”

]

– Boom!

In a single strike, she embedded a low-level lightning spell into the center of Taely’s abdomen.

That seemed to take about 0.3 seconds.

*

Taely McLore’s life had always been a series of trials.

A country bumpkin and a failing student who never managed to produce decent grades since his admission—a nobody unrecognized by anyone but his childhood friend Aila. As he continued displaying below-average abilities in everything, even his family started to turn their eyes away. Every time he wondered whether to give up on everything, that moment kept coming back.

For Taely, admission to Sylvania was an opportunity to prove himself. It was as if God was smiling at him.

Barely passing the written exam after an all-night cram, and nearly failing the practical tests due to a malicious upperclassman’s interference—if not for the princess’s mercy allowing him through. Despite the continued trials since the start of the semester, he always managed to find a way through.

Nearly lost his life to a monster cobalt accidentally summoned during a classification test, and was ostracized by his peers for being a failing student, preventing him even from entering the auditorium during the opening ceremony. But thanks to the constant support from Aila and his fellow failing comrade, Aiden, he persevered.

And now was the moment for proof.

Lucy Mayrill— a prodigy whose talents caused even upperclassmen and professors to look on in amazement.

Everyone anticipated defeat and pitied him, but Taely never lost hope.

Just a few more days of effort wouldn’t be enough to beat the opponent. Amidst the sneers of the students, Taely continued to work on his martial skills through the night.

Even in this seemingly hopeless moment, Taely never stopped working towards victory.

And right now…

Before he could react, he was struck by a lightning spell and pinned against the arena wall.

“Uhk… Sniff… Huh…”

Nonetheless, Taely stood up again. Around him, various weapons like swords, bows, and whips lay scattered.

Weapons prepared for combat students in a corner of the arena, mostly with blunted and modified edges.

Taely looked at the knuckles fitted in his hand—it was a weapon that had seen many years with him. Quietly, he removed the knuckles.

A sensation as if struck by lightning crossed his mind.

Among the strewn weapons, a shabby wooden sword caught his eye. As if drawn by it, his body moved first, and grabbing the wooden sword that lay on the ground, Taely slowly got into position, despite his battered body.

It was the first time he had wielded a sword in his life.

His opponent, a magician revered by all.

Yet, Taely stood firmly on his two legs once more, driven by the belief of those who trusted him.

Biting his teeth, he grasped the sword.

“He took up the sword…!”

As I watched Taely pinned down in an instant, I swallowed my breath but then clenched my fists as he lifted the sword.

That’s right, just do it!

“Lucy Mayrill!”

Taely called Lucy’s name with a blazing voice.

Even I, watching from the stands, felt something rising within me. This was the moment.

The moment Taely, who never gave up despite life’s trials and a fate that abandoned him, was signaling the start of a comeback.

The cry of a sword sage who refused to surrender was imprinted in the hearts of all the students present.

“Haah!”

Moving with unbelievable grace for someone handling a sword for the first time.

The mana embedded in Taely’s crude wooden sword—I knew what it was. It was the aura reserved for those born with the fate of a sword sage, capable of slicing through layers of thick mana walls as if they were paper.

Spectators began to feel overwhelmed.

Taely’s changed presence made all students hold their breath. There was a hint of anticipation for an upset.

And then an inexplicable wind blew.

In a sudden gust, Taely was lifted into the air.

– Boom!

Struck by another lightning spell, Taely was once again pinned against the wall.

This time it took about 0.5 seconds.

“… Huh?”

*

It was a complete knockout. Smoke rose, and behind it, Taely was utterly devastated.

Lucy Mayrill yawned and rubbed her eyes.

“Good job…”

She descended from the stage as if she’d just finished a tedious task with a relieved expression. The audience had been utterly silent until that point.

All eyes were on her, but as if it didn’t matter, Lucy made her bouncy way back to me. She touched my collar with a dazed expression and started fiddling with it again.

“I can’t have my jerky now?”

And then I realized.

The wind magic Lucy had used during the duel might look like basic wind magic, but she didn’t perform it herself. I recognized the spell, designed to disrupt an opponent’s movement and create an opening by destabilizing balance.

“Higher Wind Spirit, Merilda’s contract skill that you can learn, ‘Blessing of the Gale’ was in action.”

It wasn’t for long, just a few days.

Always napping with a nonchalant look and just incidentally formed a contract with a high wind spirit in the process.

Originally, Merilda and Lucy weren’t related in the scenarios. Their paths didn’t cross. Lucy hardly ever had a reason to be in the northern forest, which is why.

But recently, because of my camp’s situation, they probably connected. Hence, Lucy was now unnecessarily stronger with Merilda’s blessing.

No matter what, no one could’ve imagined a contract with a high wind spirit in just a few days.

“…”

I glanced over at Taely. Dropping the sword, he sat down with his head bowed. The usual lively spark in his eyes was gone.

Incredible talent gaps are like violence. Once you experience that vast wall, the spirit breaks in an instant.

This is serious…

I quickly stood up. I couldn’t just leave him like that. I pushed aside the clinging Lucy and walked toward Taely, who was despairingly descending from the stage.

[ “Next in combat training, Ed Rothtaylor and the revered Princess Phoenia Elias Clorel, please…”]

Despite my name being called out. I saw Princess Phoenia tidy her appearance in the stands and stand up.

As I crossed paths with the princess on my way to the arena, her gaze turned aggressive upon seeing me. Her hostility towards me was nothing new.

From the princess’s perspective, she seemed pretty determined about something, but at that moment, Princess Phoenia was not my concern.

“Ed Rothtaylor… You were that one…”

Before the princess could finish talking, I walked right past her. Taely would exit completely if I just stood there.

Ignoring a princess might be outrageous, but at least in this hall of learning where virtue precedes social status, I wouldn’t be executed. Right now, something much more important was at hand.

Stunned by being utterly ignored, the princess watched as I shouted clearly at the vanishing Taely amidst the crowd.

“Hey! Taely!”

Whether this was meaningful or not, I wasn’t sure, but it was better than standing idle.

“Your efforts will be rewarded! Don’t lose heart! Hey! Straighten up! You have nothing to be ashamed of!”

If Taely’s spirit broke and he was consumed by despair, I’d likely end up suffering for it. I couldn’t just let things be.

“Walk proudly! You did well enough! It was just unfavorable circumstances! Don’t get discouraged over such a thing!”

Please, don’t give up just yet!

I have to suffer because of you! There’s so much trouble to come in this academy!

I kept shouting messages of support to Taely as he slowly disappeared into the crowd, a genuine plea from the heart.

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