The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 158

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Crebin Subjugation(9)

I have killed before.

Now, this is hardly a shocking revelation.

As Ed Rothtaylor, struggling to survive in this bleak world, it’s been a while since I started scrambling for my life… But still, the time I’ve lived in this world is dozens of times shorter than in my previous one.

Thus, I’m still a foreigner in this world.

In modern warfare, the act of taking a life is so straightforward it leaves you questioning whether it should be this easy. Align the sights, hold your breath, and pull the trigger—then it’s over.

With that, a life is extinguished—simplistic and frighteningly clean to the point of sarcasm.

At first, there’s no realization of having taken someone’s life. Your hands may tremble after the act, but without feeling real, you’re left dumbfounded.

The real horror comes when you try to sleep at night.

The face you saw through the scope, the living gestures, and the trace of life that disappeared with a single shot—all that remains is a lump of meat.

The second you realize that fact, guilt blooms like a nightmare and gnaws away at your sanity.

It’s a common experience on the battlefield.

In the heat of battle, you don’t notice it, but when you retire to a peaceful world… those memories resurrect like ghosts to torment your mind.

For those who have lived years on the battlefield, this ailment is like measles—they all go through it, and in time, overcome it.

I too had a severe case but recovered, straightened myself out, joked with friends, watched movies, played games, and gradually brightened my worldview.

I now refuse to wallow in self-pity over those memories, though they do resurface from time to time.

The guilt that floods in after taking a life for the first time is a disaster that befalls everyone equally.

Especially in times of war. It’s common to mentally escape by justifying that you had to kill to survive.

And that can happen.

Mental escape is something everyone does, myself included.

Officers understand this well, watching soldiers gradually rationalize their actions, gauging their intentions.

The problem lies with those who stray in another direction—those I’ve always guarded against and kept at a distance.

──Because I thought I could become like that if I let my guard down.

It’s one thing to escape by convincing yourself it was unavoidable.

But those who rationalize “I was always such a person”… they’re truly dangerous.

I revel in murder.

I am someone who finds ecstasy in taking lives.

So, I feel no guilt. I have no desire to be understood.

Such declarations serve as an escape from guilt, leading one to mistakenly believe they’ve become some behemoth of ‘pure evil.’

In time, freed from the torment of guilt, they become monsters who retire after years on the battlefield.

If lucky, they find work in defense or security, living a moderate life branded as societal eccentrics. But those who turn down a darker path may end up smuggling guns or rolling with gangs until they leave the world with a bullet in their cheek.

Remembering those fates sometimes sends shivers down my spine, and I’m reminded of how close I came to becoming such a madman.

That’s why I’ve fought my guilt to the end.

In doing so, I became someone who doesn’t rashly take responsibility for others, nor do I try to save someone in distress without reason.

It wasn’t out of ignorance for the disappointment in failure… just a preposterous reason. But I believe it to be a justified direction.

Those who have gone astray aren’t just killers who enjoy murder. They’re cowards who couldn’t handle the multitude of guilt and ended up mad.

That’s why I always had a question for those who were led astray.

… Do you still hold onto the feeling you had the first time you killed someone?

* * *

Whoosh!

A sound like oozing blood echoed. The demonic seal etched into Crebin’s left hand began to redden. The seeping blood filled the crevices of the seal, and the ominous aura of magic started to rise.

Soon after, the magic enveloped Crebin’s entire arm, turning his left forearm into a nasty mass of flesh.

Crack, whoosh!

Several tendrils sprouted from his hand, coiling around him. Crebin still looked human, except for his left hand, which was indistinguishable from a monster.

In his right hand, he held a longsword with his family’s crest. While his left hand had undergone a disturbing transformation, his right still seemed intact.

“I can feel the power.”

Crebin spoke in a composed tone.

“This is the power I’ve always desired. Immortal magic is not far off now.”

After asserting this, he firmly clenched his grotesque left hand.

──And in that moment, the Blessing of the Tempest vanished.

There was no trace of magic power left. In a blur too quick for perception, all nearby pressure was pulled in and compacted.

Waiting for the Blessing of the Tempest to reactivate proved to be a vain effort. However, one thing was made clear: never be complacent.

I couldn’t dodge Crebin’s attacks by merely responding to magic power.

It was the same in the game [Sylvania’s Failed Swordsman], but there’s a big gap between hearing explanations in-game and actually facing it in reality.

You could only try to evade his attacks by anticipating his movements. It’s like dodging a bullet by watching the gun’s direction—a plausible idea, but nearly impossible in practice.

However, improbable doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. I’ve reached the pinnacle of this hell.

Either I take down Crebin, or I die. With only those two outcomes, I act neither rashly nor too cautiously.

Kaaaaak!

The roar of the high-ranking wind spirit Merilda echoed throughout the Rothtaylor estate grounds.

She ferociously swung her forepaw at Crebin, but he twisted his left hand grotesquely, and an inexplicable force stopped her attack.

Even when she unleashed the elemental magic ‘Wind Blade’ toward Crebin, it was neutralized by an unknown power just before reaching him.

Lucy had said that he uses a type of magic that falls outside the conventional magic system. It was the power of Mebuler.

If that is indeed a type of magic that’s undecipherable, then I know one as well.

Dark crimson magical energy rose, swirling around my body, pointing directly at Crebin.

Crebin’s brows furrowed momentarily. He was incredulous that I knew how to wield holy magic, but there was no time for surprise.

‘Forced Consolidation’

Holy magic’s power, transcending all relations of superiority, is just like Mebuler’s in that it cannot be countered.

It would be a mistake to think that only Crebin could overturn such superior forces.

In an instant, Crebin’s body was pulled towards mine. The next thing I knew, my dagger was thrust towards his face, yet his tentacles unbelievably snagged my arm at impossible speeds.

Crack

I clenched my teeth and pulled my arm back.

There seemed to be half a dozen tentacles, each writhing with the intent to destroy everything around them.

I exerted all my strength, twisting my body and rolling toward the broadsword embedded in the ground. As I did, I took the opportunity to slice off the tentacles with my sword’s blade, shaking off the remaining fragments and juice.

The tentacles’ reflexes were unbelievably sharp. There was no guarantee of victory in close combat.

It was shocking how well Crebin handled the sudden holy magic attack.

I composed myself again and stared down Crebin.

Crebin Rothtaylor, halfway awakened, had always had the same battle pattern. He’d fight up close using the tentacles from his left hand, and at a distance, he’d rely on spells using the demon’s magic.

Typically, it was best to move in and out of the intermediate range, pouncing into close combat whenever he began casting a spell.

If I could keep up that sense of distance, I could predict Crebin’s moves. Tentacles might give him an edge up close, but he wouldn’t have the same reflexes while manifesting magic. That was the gap to exploit.

“Huff….”

Crebin let out a long sigh and then relaxed his body. Gradually, he began to float in the air. The real battle was about to begin.

Above the estate where Mebuler and Lucy were fiercely fighting, Crebin’s body slowly drifted higher against the backdrop of vanishing magical arrays.

His garment, floating like a specter on the rooftop in the wind, billowed.

“My son Ed Rothtaylor was always a coward.”

Crebin knew everything. He was aware that Ed Rothtaylor had fully grasped Crebin’s dark thoughts, but had never mustered the courage to stand up to him.

“He had no ambition either, and only desired to live merrily among family and retainers. It might seem unfitting for the eldest son of a noble family, but as my son, he had admirable qualities. Useless ambitions do no good.”

All at once, Crebin closed the distance and thrust his longsword. Even a simple stab turned into a threatening surprise attack due to his buoyant movements amplified by Mebuler’s power.

Crash!

As I leaped back to evade, the forsaken longsword thrust into the ground.

“You fled to Sylvania…”

“I may not understand all the details, but to think you planned to be expelled, even using the princess to do so. I didn’t expect you to be that meticulous. So when I heard you were still alive, I was puzzled. You were not meant to survive.”

“Wasn’t it you who sent Cadec and Nox to kill me in the first place?”

“No, we’re not talking about that here.”

Crebin seemed to have vaguely realized that I was a different person from Ed Rothtaylor.

I didn’t understand all of it, but it was strange for him to jump to conclusions like that. Especially since there was no clear evidence.

Crebin explained it succinctly.

“It’s been over a year and a half since I sent the letter notifying of your expulsion.”

Crebin Rothtaylor’s letter of expulsion.

It was the first document I checked when I came to this world, the only means that allowed me to grasp the whole situation after being expelled from the Ophelius Hall.

To me, it was the letter that marked the beginning of everything, the notification that signaled the start of this grueling survival journey.

“After that, before you were expelled from Ophelius Hall, my son sent a reply… You wouldn’t know.”

“What do you mean?”

It’s a completely new story to me now.

If there had been a reply to that letter, it wasn’t me… it must have been Ed Rothtaylor before I took over his body.

Crebin’s subsequent words completely defied my expectations.

“— He wrote in excruciating detail about not wanting to live anymore, about ending his life. I never told Tanya, though.”

At that, I involuntarily gulped down a gasp.

Ed Rothtaylor, who had forsaken the glory of his family and fled, realized he had no place left in the world.

Trapped in boundless emptiness, just staring out the window at the academy.

A quiet room. Soon to be expelled. A life of lonely toil ahead, with a jobless, cruel world to contend with. His future was nothing but darkness.

Sitting alone in the quiet room, he finally chose to end his life’s journey.

Quietly, in a tranquil room, with nothing but a long rope and a chair that could be easily kicked over.

Certainly, in my memory, Ed Rothtaylor briefly appeared during the ending credits. Although not in a flattering light, he was still alive.

The discrepancy between my memory and this reality.

Ed Rothtaylor had definitely tried to end his life that day.

But even that he failed to accomplish.

Why couldn’t he even die as planned?

The reason for that was— ‘To be honest, it was quite shocking.’

Belle Mayar.

She took peculiarly good care of me on the day I was expelled from Ophelius Hall, despite my reputation as a good-for-nothing.

I had thought she was just a maid from Ophelius, fulfilling her duties without prejudice…

‘But to think you were living like this… When you left Ophelius Hall, you looked as though you’d lost everything, I thought you’d just walk straight out of the academy.’

‘Anyway, I’m glad you’re doing well.’

Every word she uttered carried new meaning to me now.

Afterward, seeing how much more robust and proactive I had become, she spoke with an air of relief.

Maintaining a professional conversation, not wanting to upset me.

She’d come to camp to check on me whenever she had the chance, offering her help when needed.

It dawned on me that Belle Mayar, once Ed Rothtaylor’s devoted maid, had witnessed him at the moment of his extreme decision and intervened.

Finally, everything began to fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, even the reason why I was brought into this world.

Ed Rothtaylor, who’d lost all will to live, didn’t want to endure a life filled with nothing but darkness.

I… I took over the life that he’d abandoned.

Thump.

Was it because my thoughts were racing?

Crebin’s blade pierced through my shoulder at an almost imperceptible speed, no magic could be felt.

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