The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 16

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Joint Combat Practice (3)

“Phoenia, you were born with a blessing from the gods.”

The first person to realize Princess Phoenia’s inherent insight was her father, Emperor Clorel.

The life of royalty is a continuous struggle of covert fights and schemes. One cannot fathom the sticky darkness that lies behind the glorious and lofty life of royalty seen by the public.

Therefore, Emperor Clorel’s words calling his daughter’s insight a “blessing from the gods” are somewhat incorrect.

Her ability is not a whimsical gift given by a god. In the grim abyss, it is a sense she acquired to protect herself.

With such self-assurance in her abilities, Phoenia had reason to be confident.

The regent’s eyes, plotting to poison his own aunt; the duchess’s gestures, filled with desire to turn her son into royalty; the quivering pupils of the servant who stole a gold watch strap from the bedroom; the uneven footsteps of the squadron leader who embezzled the knights’ equipment maintenance funds; the envious glares from her kin, jealous of her power; the shaky voice of the dukedom’s spy disguised as a maid.

Princess Phoenia knew that beneath all those looks of high and noble affection lay a dark and obscure abyss.

Yet she had lived the life of a dignified princess, penetrating their dark intentions while pretending to be unaware.

“Please take care of me.”

Therefore, she had no choice but to look straight at the man who had finished preparing for the duel and greeted her politely.

Princess Phoenia’s intuition was already in the realm of the extraordinary. To have an insight into humans that rivals hers would literally require mind-reading.

“Ahahaha, what’s that? Isn’t that Ed Rothtaylor? He used to wear such bejeweled clothes, but now he looks so haggard!”

“How modestly he fits!”

“He used to pretend so much without any magical talent; now his true colors will show!”

Whispers reached the arena above. It seemed like they wanted to jeer with all their might, yet they behaved relatively decently in front of the princess of a nation.

“Yes, I ask for your care as well.”

The princess lightly raised her hand to feel the flow of mana. Her condition was at its peak. Always maintaining one’s physical condition is also an important virtue of a good mage.

With narrowed eyes, she glared at the man.

“Your efforts will surely be rewarded! Don’t get downhearted! Hey, straighten up! There’s nothing to be ashamed of!”

“Walk proudly! You did well enough! It’s just that you had a tough opponent! Don’t be discouraged over something so trivial!”

A boy on the brink of flunking, she had shouted desperately as she was passed, ignoring a princess of the nation.

At first, Phoenia was surprised not by the fact that she was ignored, but by Ed Rothtaylor’s desperation.

“I heard him shouting at Taely earlier. That guy sure is venomous.”

“Oh boy. He taunts someone and then makes more of a fuss than that person. What did he want, teasing a kid who had never even used a sword?”

“Or maybe he wanted to seem a bit nicer now. Why… am I cheering for the one I used to harass? Something like that.”

“Wow, his intentions are pretty sinister.”

“It turns out he’s just that kind of person?”

The whispering of the audience was too audible to be called whispers. Even if Ed Rothtaylor couldn’t hear them from where Phoenia stood, the princess could clearly catch their remarks.

Yet, Ed Rothtaylor’s eyes were serene. Like a clear pond which a single drop of water cannot disturb, there was not the slightest tremor in his pupils.

For Princess Phoenia, reading emotions in others’ eyes was as easy as eating cold porridge.

Indifference, insensitivity, and irrelevance.

These familiar feelings were characteristic of Ed Rothtaylor, who was always such. The murmurs of those mocking him could not leave even a scratch on his heart.

Ed Rothtaylor had the same air about him when she encountered him in the camp. After all, there are many such people in life.

There are those born indifferent, those who don’t care, and those immune to what others say.

Their own life is central to themselves. Once a firm conviction is rooted in the heart, there is a steadfast will regardless of others’ intents.

Such temperaments were sufficiently pervasive even among the first-year students.

Lucy Meyril had it, Golden Daughter Lortelle had it, and Zix of the Spear of Foliage had it.

Upon realizing this, a sense of relief even came over her. Only then did the contour of this man named Ed Rothtaylor seem to clear up.

It took a while, but Ed Rothtaylor was, after all, an equal entity within Princess Phoenia’s insight. With that certainty, she was able to stand up and face him.

But his action in passing the princess, in earnestly encouraging the freshman he tried to flunk,

once again muddled the princess’s mind.

The desperate encouragement was to mock the struggling Taely?

Was it a hypocritical act to wash away his past by supporting Taely?

Without knowing the full context, one might be compelled to reinforce such speculation among the audience.

However, to Princess Phoenia, Ed Rothtaylor’s true desperation was apparent, a scrap of it clearly seen since the entrance exam.

Had he pleaded to the princess in the camp as he did now, it would not have caused such a headache.

“Please don’t expel me, I’m sincerely reflecting. Please have mercy just this once.”

If he had knelt, rubbing his hands together, and desperately appealed, then she wouldn’t have felt this uncomfortable emotion.

There were plenty who made desperate appeals in front of the high and lofty princess to be kicked like pebbles.

Yet, he dealt with his own expulsion indifferently and among numerous students mocking and jeering him, he maintained an indifferent stance.

And this unnaturalness, showing desperation for the freshman he tried to expel who was frustrated, what was it about?

“Ed Rothtaylor, you confuse me.”

The princess sighed deeply. Was it worth spending energy on this?

She was tired of being disturbed by his inscrutable interior.

After all, he is just a student who has been expelled…

Not a corrupt warlord dreaming of overthrowing the imperial family, nor a corrupt regent embezzling public funds, nor a despicable servant touching the imperial treasures.

Even if he owned an interior that even the princess’s insight couldn’t fathom, what of it?

Fine, now the chance to shake him off cleanly had come. With this duel, she would shake it off once and for all. That’s how the princess steadied her mind.

Whether it’s understood or not, Ed Rothtaylor is just a man she will have the chance to fight heartily one time.

“In this duel, I hope to bring a definite end to it.”

The world is full of things unknown. Yet, whether to laugh openly, to cry openly, or whatever it may be, if there’s an opportunity to shake it off refreshingly, that’s fine. The details don’t matter as much. The heavens and earth don’t flip upside down because Ed Rothtaylor can’t be fathomed.

Ed Rothtaylor’s amount of mana had already been gauged. While not impressive, the way he naturally controlled the flow of mana in his palm showed he wasn’t an easy opponent.

After all, this was a sparring match between a first and second-year student. There was an imbalance of power, so restrictions were placed to use only basic magic of each to level the playing field.

Watching Ed Rothtaylor warming up and controlling the flow of mana, it could be deduced that he had repeatedly practiced basic elemental magic. To what extent he could wield intermediate elemental magic was unknown, but at least his basic elemental magic would be sufficiently proficient.

Princess Phoenia’s magical abilities certainly weren’t overwhelmingly talented like Lucy or Lortelle.

But fundamentally, due to her diligent nature, she hadn’t neglected her magical training.

“Please begin the sparring match now.”

With the adjunct professor’s command, Princess Phoenia readied herself.

The first strike gauges the opponent’s capacity. Phoenia’s specialized water elemental magic was suited for unpredictable attacks.

It’s not easy to react to the spontaneously changing trajectory of her attacks.

“Here I come.”

As Princess Phoenia raised her hand, the basic elemental magic ‘water ball’ materialized.

The mass of water shaped by this mana could freely change its form and was a difficult technique that applied high pressure with a surprise attack on the enemy’s blind spot.

Princess Phoenia could produce up to five water balls simultaneously to attack from all directions, but first, she created only one to gauge the skills of her opponent.

Ed Rothtaylor used wind and fire elemental magic. How would he counter?

Depending on how he responded, she would alter her strategy and gradually increase her output to fight with all her might.

That’s how through exchanging moves, they would have a dramatic battle that cleanses everything, and she would finally shake off this unknowable man. There are too many things in the world to worry about other than this man.

With that determination, the water ball she threw changed trajectory and struck Ed Rothtaylor.

Princess Phoenia saw it. Ed Rothtaylor’s eyes were definitely following the path of the water ball. Wind or fire? What would he use to defend? And after that defense was formed, what would be her follow-up strike…

However, the water ball that Phoenia launched hit Ed Rothtaylor in the abdomen.

Ed Rothtaylor’s body floated briefly in the air before rolling on the ground. A cloud of dust rose, and he was sprawled on the floor.

“…I lost.”

“What did you say?”

Princess Phoenia’s pupils shook greatly for a moment.

“Hahahaha!”

“Wow, what was that? He went down on one blow even worse than Taely!”

“He acted all cool but was knocked out with a single strike!”

“Princess Phoenia, that was impressive!”

“It was truly exhilarating!”

The audience, who had restrained their cheers, erupted in applause and shouts. The sight of Ed Rothtaylor, who was like a public enemy, being valiantly defeated brought joyous voices to life from all around.

However, Princess Phoenia, who stood opposite the duel stage, saw it all too clearly. Up until the moment before the ball was thrown, Ed Rothtaylor’s eyes were locked onto its trajectory. He didn’t fail to block it. He chose not to.

“What exactly are you trying to do right now…”

“Well done. I’ve learned much from you.”

Brushing off his clothes, Ed Rothtaylor stood up and saluted the princess. It was then that Ed Rothtaylor finally looked straight at the princess.

Only now did Princess Phoenia realize. This man had not made eye contact with her since ascending the dueling stage.

From the beginning, he had no interest in the duel.

Princess Phoenia felt something hot lodge in her throat, as if it wouldn’t go down. The uncomfortable emotions she had hoped to shake off after a satisfying fight were now threatening to engulf her.

*

Is now really the time for a duel???

I hurriedly walked down from the duel stage with brisk steps. The glorious jeers that greeted me today flew at me once again. It must have been very satisfying for them to see me go down with a single bout of magic.

“Where did that Taely go?”

There’s a hierarchy to all matters, and each has its own level of importance.

When interacting with Princess Phoenia, it’s crucial to act with utmost caution to not affect the scenario. After all, the princess is a very important character in this narrative.

However, more important than such interactions is the protagonist of this world – Taely.

If Taely succumbs completely to these trials and his spirit breaks, it could be a fatal flaw to my grand plan to reap all the benefits and graduate with flying colors.

So, I must do something. No matter how important Princess Phoenia is as a character, her importance cannot supersede Taely’s trajectory.

“Anyway, finding that Taely is the first priority.”

Ignoring the taunts, I strode through the corridor leading to the exit of Nail Hall. Sure, practice wasn’t over, but I could easily blend in with the crowded onlookers and slip away.

As long as I can find a way to pull Taely out of his slump, I can cover for any impact on our grades with sheer effort.

Determined, I walked briskly, but there was another person trailing behind me.

“Ed Rothtaylor!”

Surprisingly, it was Princess Phoenia who had run down from the duel stage in haste. She wasn’t known for her stamina, yet there she was, panting and leaning against the wall to stop me.

“Um? Princess Phoenia, shouldn’t you be accompanied by your guard to venture out so far?”

I turned to her with the most perplexed look in the world.

“Stop pretending you don’t know anything!”

I was honestly flustered by the princess’s outburst. She wasn’t originally such a character, was she?

What could have possibly stirred her emotions this much?

“Always acting so ambiguous, striking yet not, do you know how frustrating it is for the one trying to gauge your intent?”

“I… I do not follow what you’re trying to say. If you’re referring to the duel, I must say—I’ve learned well from…”

“Well learned my foot…!”

Her clenched fists trembled visibly. She’s seriously upset…?

“Princess Phoenia, please… calm down.”

“Thinking I never intended to win from the start, that I was only looking for an escape off the duel stage…!”

“Princess Phoenia. Your voice is too loud…”

It’s not often that I show such discomposure outwardly, but the princess’s reaction was totally unexpected.

Princess Phoenia detests using her authority to oppress others, and always values dignity, maintaining her dignified countenance no matter where she is. It’s not fitting for her to lash out indecorously, especially not now. If someone saw or heard it, the rumors wouldn’t be kind.

So, I tried to calm her down.

“Despite the challenges of keeping up with classes, that fox-like merchant is attempting to subvert the academy for personal gain…! There’s no end to Professor Glast’s malice…! Amid all this, the servants invoke the laws of the royal house…! There’s already enough to worry about! This is hard for me..!”

Why all this anger at me? Is a hastily fought duel such a grave sin? I understand that you’re filled with pent-up injustice, but why explode at me?

“Princess, please calm yourself.”

I went against the possibility of being reviled and touched the princess. To be exact, I just placed my hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye.

“Breathe deeply.”

As she felt the sudden embrace of a man’s hands, she finally gasped for air. It’s unlikely anyone would dare touch the princess’s sacred body, so in this intimate moment, the sudden physical contact must have taken her by surprise.

Normally, the unusual shock of such intimacy makes humans feel discomfort and they quickly regain composure.

“Don’t get too worked up. Breathe in, and out.”

Princess Phoenia followed my suggestion and took a few deep breaths…

“Oh..Ah…!”

She covered her face with her hands, realizing how undignified she had just been. This was a moment of sober reflection. Embarrassment has a way of creeping up with time.

“Please… forget about what happened just now…”

“Oh… yes…”

Of course.

Following that, she covered her face with her palms for a while. Her ears turned red as if she was deeply embarrassed.

Are we done?

May I go now?

“Yes. I have a bad habit. I tend to pry and assume, even when I could just ask directly. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in the royal household too long.”

Then she started to tell me things I hadn’t asked about.

Alright, I get it! I’ll listen attentively at a later time with an appropriate reaction!

For now, please let me go! I must find Taely!!!!

“Although I knew it was a bad habit…”

How could I tell the princess “Please, I don’t care. Let me go. I’m in a hurry”? I had to nod along for now.

“Indeed, Princess. If that’s the case, then…”

“So, let me ask you directly.”

And now what?

“I think this. You know something about the darkness of the Rothtaylor family or you have been harmed by them, and that’s why you’re trying to sever ties with them. You provoked Taely to create a reason for expulsion, right?”

The princess looked me straight in the eye as she continued. It was a sharp conjecture. Usually misleading, but she was right in guessing there was a dark side to the Rothtaylor family.

At some point, I had mentioned that the head of the Rothtaylor family, Crebin Rothtaylor, is studying the magic of immortality with the power of the evil god Mebuler. Many lives have been sacrificed for experimentation.

But that’s a story the princess will investigate using her academic power in the latter part of the scenario. That part of the story is still far off.

“If you know anything about the dark side of the Rothtaylor family…”

Why would I ever tell her that?

“I don’t know much about that.”

“…That can’t be true.”

The princess cut off my reply sharply.

“It doesn’t add up logically. What about the words you shouted at Taely earlier? Why would you encourage and support someone you were trying to expel..? Don’t you actually not dislike Taely that much?”

“Um… that is…”

This kid is sharp with her questions, isn’t she?

“That was just teasing. Or… um… you know… why… since everyone hates me. So I thought, maybe if I cheered for Taely, I would look like I… changed? Maybe something like that…?”

“It’s obviously a lie!”

“No, it’s not a lie…”

“I take pride in my insights when it comes to judging people.”

The princess leaned in and spoke with certainty. She was right. The compassionate Princess Phoenia’s eye for understanding people is truly unmatched.

“Even if everyone else thinks so, I was certain I saw through you at that moment. When you were encouraging Taely, you were genuinely desperate and sincere.”

Oh right, of course, I was desperate and sincere… if he despairs, I’m ruined…?

But since I can’t explain that, I opted for the ‘absolute defense strategy’ universally employed by everyone from elementary students to adults.

“Seriously…”

Where’s your proof?

You have no proof, right?

That’s just your suspicion, right?

“No, but…”

“It’s true… really, it is…”

There’s no way forward from here. It doesn’t matter how piercing her insight or how confident she is; if I say it’s not true, it’s not. If she’s dissatisfied, she’ll have to find evidence.

“It’s true… really true…”

“Ah… really…!”

When we reached this point, the princess once again frantically gripped her head.

She stomped her feet with an expression of utter frustration, repeating the same words, unable to find any solace. Feeling cornered with no outlet for her anger and no relief for her frustration, she took it out senselessly on the path under her feet.

“Oh—! Really–!!!!”

Chasing a truth that seems within grasp yet remains elusive or repeatedly dodging confrontation can indeed make one’s head steam. It’s not just a one-day or two-week occurrence but something that has been ongoing for weeks.

Furthermore, her insightful ability to pierce through anyone would make any such experience twice or thrice as frustrating for someone unused to such a situation like Princess Phoenia.

But there’s nothing I can do. A secured future flow is my only capital.

Would you reveal it, if you were me…?

TO ACCESS EXCLUSIVE CONTENT AND SUPPORT THIS NOVEL, CLICK HERE !



One response to “The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 16”

  1. If he behave like this how can he get scholarship?

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