The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 167

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

The Land of Livestock was not a misnomer.

In Phulanshan, where the number of cows and pigs far outnumbered that of humans, Toren Village nestled deep in the mountains had seen its fair share of joyous events in recent years.

The village, already aging, saw no new influx of young people.

The workload remained the same, yet there was no one venturing this far for work, so the same faces were seen day in and day out.

Therefore, when something good happened in a family, it was only natural for the entire village to buzz with excitement.

Celebrations in one household became the celebrations of the whole village. It wasn’t unusual for the entire place to be ablaze with gossip by afternoon, with all rushing to offer their congratulations.

The most recent cause of the village’s stir was the return of Yenika Faelover.

Although Yenika would faithfully return home during her holidays to make her presence known, this time her return sparked an unusual level of clamor.

The incident began immediately upon her arrival.

From Yenika changing into her village woman’s attire and doing the dishes, to helping out on the ranch as usual, to having meals with her parents accompanied with sheep’s milk, cheese, and rye bread—all flowed naturally.

Yet, there was an air of abnormality.

Orten Faelover and his wife, Sella, who were the heads of the Faelover Ranch, knew their precious only daughter, Yenika, better than anyone else.

They were also acutely aware of the fact that she was atrociously bad at lying. The two had watched her growing up for over a decade and could read her emotions simply by her expressions.

— ‘You’ve seemed worried lately, Yenika. Is it because you stepped down from your top position? Even second place is quite an achievement, you know.’

— ‘Uh, what?! No, it’s not that! Of course, I’m a bit disappointed… but I’m not depressed or anything because of it! Dad, really!’

Sitting at the dining table, Yenika vehemently denied Orten’s words, waving her hands frantically, possibly to ward off any undue worry.

This was a true response. While it was a relief that she didn’t seem to be stressed about her grades, the parents wondered, why then did she look so listless?

It was as if she was worried about someone, often staring blankly into space or heaving deep sighs, which the couple had witnessed several times.

— ‘Or perhaps… has a certain young man caught your attention?’

— ‘Huh? What are you talking about! Why would you say something so strange and incomprehensible! That kind of talk makes it sound like I have weird thoughts! Really, Dad, you always do this!

Instead of wasting time on such weird talk, I’m going to feed the animals! Well, I was going to do it anyway… but just stop saying things without any context! You’re, you’re startling me!’

Yes, that’s right.

Just by observing Yenika’s lengthy explanations, the Faelover couple couldn’t help but show amusement.

Indeed, Yenika Faelover had come of age.

The Faelover couple were open-minded about matters of the heart.

In a village where young folk were rare, and one had to search every nook and cranny to find some, the couple had always worried about Yenika growing up naive, unaware of the ways of the world, and becoming a village spinster.

Worried about the lack of helping hands on the ranch and possibly hooking a man, the couple’s hearts raced with excitement.

After all, the Failovers were not picky when it came to suitors.

Despite their daughter’s accomplishments, they never expected her to bring home a noble of high rank, a skilled mage with handsome looks, or a popular, well-reputed socialite.

They merely hoped for a man adept in ranch work and handy with his skills, content as long as she didn’t end up a spinstress, hastily married to some dubious character out of desperation.

And here was Yenika, seemingly developing a romantic interest in a male student from Sylvania!

A son-in-law! A son-in-law!

Those sweet three syllables that the village hadn’t dared to dream of, now echoed throughout. Son-in-law!

Like a pirate discovering treasure, Sella Faelover’s eyes lit up, wrapping her arms around Yenika.

Even considering that she was their daughter, there was no reason for any man to refuse Yenika Faelover. She was cute, pretty to boot, lacked nothing in competence, and such a pure and kindhearted country maiden was a national treasure in these times.

Regardless of who the young man was, there was no reason for refusal, and in the Failovers’ minds, the formal engagement meeting was already underway.

The most important point, of what kind of person the young man was, was brushed aside. They were ready to accept anyone as long as he wasn’t an absolute misfit; after all, a student enrolled at Sylvania was somewhat guaranteed to be passable.

— ‘Yenika! Yenika! You finally hit the jackpot!’

— ‘Dear, don’t get too carried away…! But, who is this young man? Would he dislike parents like us who are too boisterous? Do you think he prefers a more dignified atmosphere…? Should I have the dress from our wedding altered?

— ‘Is he keen on archery? Sharing a drink with my son-in-law and shooting targets was my dream… Well, it might be too early for that. I’d rather he be a bit more masculine than lean… What do you think…?’

Kimchi soup couldn’t make someone as flushed with excitement. There’s a limit to being silly.

Soon enough, Yenika’s expression became stern.

— ‘I told you, it’s not like that! Why, why would you think that?’

— ‘Yenika! There’s no need to hide, we know everything already! So, what’s his name…?’

— ‘I’m not telling you! Why should I ever tell you something like that!’

‘He doesn’t exist’ wasn’t her response; it was ‘I won’t tell you’, and at that moment, Yenika had inadvertently admitted the truth. After all, she was someone who really could not lie to save her life.

— ‘It’s okay to tell us a little! Yenika! Do you know how hard your father has worked, how tough it’s been managing the Faelover Ranch?! I too would love a little joy in my life!’

— ‘Ah, Dad… Why are you always so…’

— ‘Shoveling manure, milking cows… I wouldn’t mind ending my life in such fashion, but still,a man desires… to grasp a worthy handle, stand firm on two strong feet…! So, let’s at least hear that name! Men must judge men, it’s always been that way!’

— ‘Enough! That’s enough! Please! Keep your voice down! The neighbors will hear!’

As Yenika banged on the table in frustration, Orten Faelover sighed deeply, his muscular arms hanging limp.

— ‘Fine… If that’s how it is… then that’s how it is…’

— ‘Dear, we’ve braced ourselves, haven’t we? We can’t always expect Yenika to remain naive and kindhearted… One day, adolescence will come knocking, and we decided on the day Yenika was born to be strong. Don’t be too heartbroken. It’s just the promised time arriving.’

— ‘Yes… that must be it… It’s a stage everyone goes through. Now Yenika will start complaining about the clothes I wash, frowning when our eyes meet, slamming the door and running off to her room, demanding her allowance… I was already prepared in my heart, but still, it’s such a sorrowful thing… I’m becoming the old man confined to a corner of the house, stinking of old age… Yes, this must be the twilight of life… bitter and lonely…’

— ‘Why are you being so dramatic…! I’m not like that, I’m not…!’

Seeing the pained look on Orten’s face, Yenika hesitated and found herself stammering, unable to say his name.

His name was the last thing she could reveal in this tight-knit country society. Announcing it would spread the rumor throughout the village in an instant, a fact known all too well to Yenika, who had lived there the longest.

Yet as the subdued expression of her oppressed parents continued to weigh on her… the beads of cold sweat began to form.

“Uh.. well…”

In the end, Yenika, with her kind nature, stammered out her response.

“He… he’s good at archery…”

Seeing Orten’s brightened expression made Yenika feel flustered.

— ‘Oh, Yenika! I heard the news! It seems you’re having a rich school life, it made me so happy!’

— ‘Bring him to the village sometime! I’ll prepare a 20-year-old raspberry liquor for you!’

— ‘Then I’ll be sure to butcher a whole pig!’

— ‘Just a pig isn’t enough, is it? We should get a cow! I’ll search the entire pasture for the best one, and if he ever comes, make sure to tell us!’

She may not have stated his name, but it was a slip of the tongue regardless.

Excited Faelover parents like these couldn’t possibly keep such a significant matter from the rest of the village.

As Orten, buoyed by a drink at the village hall, shared his exchange with Yenika, the rumor quickly spread like wildfire.

By the next evening, the village was already abuzz with celebrations, and as Yenika wandered the village square with baskets full of fruit, she felt heat rising in her face.

— ‘Oh, when he comes, make sure to drop by our Helcken General Store! We don’t have much to offer… but if there’s something you need mending, we’ll do it for free!’

— ‘He must be from a rich family, or a noble, right? There are many like that! Yenika, you’ve truly made it! You’re our village’s pride!’

— ‘Yenika! Yenika! Yenika! Yenika! Yenika!’

— ‘Ah, those were the days! I used to thrash city boys around 25 years ago… How I long for those days~’

After being congratulated all day, Yenika declared to the Faelover couple at breakfast the following morning.

— ‘I want to return to Sylvania tomorrow.’

It was as if a bolt from the blue. Though Yenika usually stayed at least a fortnight each time she returned home, she declared that she’d be going back after just three days.

— ‘What’s wrong, Yenika? You should stay a bit longer.’

— ‘I…’

Her face turned beetroot red with tears in her eyes, Yenika spoke.

— ‘I can’t stay here any longer…’

For a simple-minded country ranch couple, the delicate heart of a young girl was just too much to handle.

… Such a tearful affair.

*[I remembered the old times for a bit]

In the center of the northern forest lies a rather sizable lake.

A truly marvelous lake. Although the expanse of stagnant water isn’t significant for a lake, it neither becomes cloudy nor putrid.

Stagnant water usually becomes murky, but as if someone were continually purifying it, the water in the Central Lake was always clear and mystical.

Especially in the mornings, when the mist due to the moisture hangs loosely and reveals the lake’s visage amidst the morning sun, making a scene reminiscent of a fairytale—a sight to behold.

Some students used it as their morning exercise route, with regulars like Zix.

Well, that’s how it was in the morning… but as the night fell and the stars shone…

The surface of the water reflected the starlight, shimmering obscurely in the distance. Atop a small grassy islet in the center was the ‘Guardian Tree of Merilda.’ Leaning against it and taking in the view of the forest, one might think the night sky also lay upon the land. For the mirrored heavens on the calm water shone with such a clarity that the stars seemed to belong there.

From somewhere among the coniferous woods stretching between the two skies, the distinctive sounds of summer night insects, and the rustling of small mammals moving through the underbrush could be heard. Summer nights are never silent, so different from the lonely winter nights that leave one feeling abandoned in the world.

Even in this forest that seemed filled only with trees, life palpably lurked, the thought reminding me that beings called life were indeed everywhere around.

“Lost in old memories?”

[ Just sometimes. Everyone has those moments. ]

Merilda was walking lightly across the water’s surface. She was unbound by physical form, allowing for such feats. With her magic depleted, she’d have been invisible to my eyes without the aid of her staff, reflecting the starlight above like a second night sky.

Looking at her, stepping lightly over the water, it almost seemed as though she was treading the sky itself.

[ Not long ago, you smashed the House of Rothtaylor. ]

“That’s a rough way to put it.”

[ What does it matter? It’s the truth. ]

With a light lift of her skirt, Merilda twirled, and the gentle breath of wind that followed faded.

[ To me, the Rothtaylor family has been a name of historical significance for a long time. ]

“I don’t see it any differently.”

[ Well, knowing history and having witnessed it are two different things. ]

“That’s true as well.”

Merilda smiled, knowing I would agree.

[ Every time I see such large groups or powers fade away, it hits me how the times have changed. It’s… draining, somehow. ]

“Hmm…”

[ Hard to understand? ]

“To be honest, yeah. I don’t quite get it.”

Continuing our conversation with a laugh, Merilda said:

[ Sometimes, it feels like the ages are leaving me behind. Perhaps because I am nearing the twilight of my life as a spirit. Idle thoughts cross my mind too often. ]

‘Nearing the twilight’—at those words, I had to pause and organize my thoughts.

Merilda was an ancient, high-ranking spirit.

Many believe that spirits have no such thing as a lifespan, but that’s misinformation. They don’t die of physical trauma or magical force, but no spirit can exist beyond their allotted time in this world unless they elevate their rank.

Ascending from an ethereal spirit that fades after a week, to a lower spirit that maintains its magical form for years, to a middle spirit with decades of sustained existence, to a high spirit that survives centuries without ruin—every spirit ultimately must join the cycle of this world.

Though they don’t ‘die,’ they do return to nature, and while this may not differ much from death, there’s hope that they may be reborn as ethereal spirits and start anew. A spirit’s life is long and monotonous, indeed.

“Merilda, you…”

[ Don’t misconstrue, I’m far from the end. At least a century to go. ]

She smirked a wolfish grin as she spoke.

[ Worried I’d be gone soon? Heh. ]

“… It would be a lie to say I wasn’t.”

[ Wow, you’re honest when it comes to these subtle things. You’re quite sentimental, aren’t you? ]

“No matter what, I’ve had more than a little help from you. I’m not that heartless.”

Leaning back against Merilda’s guardian tree, I looked up absent-mindedly at the sky.

“I was just curious about what prompted your mood. Now it makes sense.”

[ Me? Melancholic? ]

“You aren’t fooling anyone. You’re down. Why would I need to say it?”

Whether a spirit or a human, the presence of emotions is the same, and in my opinion, the way the heart works isn’t much different be it for a person, an animal, or a spirit.

The reason why Merilda seems unusually low-spirited or burdened must be similar.

“People are the same,” I said with a deep sigh.

This was equally true on the battlefield and in peaceful society.

Young, green, and full of vigor… spirits like Muk always ‘look to the future.’

Middle spirits, even as they engross themselves in increasing their mana sensitivity and power, dreaming of someday becoming high spirits… commanding fellow beings and traversing the world with capable spirit mages.

However, those who have lived long enough… those near the twilight of their existence ‘look to the past.’

They reminisce about the spirit mages they’ve met, the humans they’ve observed, and the eras they’ve experienced. Weighing the days lived against those yet to come, they effortlessly understand what kind of being they are.

Those who have more days ahead see the future; those with more behind reflect on the past.

A college graduate and an elderly gentleman nearing retirement don’t see eye to eye for this reason. The youth speaks of the future; the elder recounts the past. Once this dissonance is realized, the elder spirals into melancholy.

The end of my story is approaching. In the end, the era has moved on without me.

Once this becomes clear, surely there are times when tears well up, even when simply gazing at a setting sun.

[ She was quite like Sylvania, that girl. ]

Suddenly, the topic shifted to the Great Sage Sylvania.

Merilda, strikingly resembling Sylvania, prompted wonder if it was her appearance being referenced. But realizing it wasn’t about looks, I remained silent.

Patricia was a child so engrossed in her own research that she knew no news from the academy.

[ That great sage was a bit of an oddball; even in the toughest conditions, she devoted herself wholly to her magical research. ]

“Is that why you stayed close to her?”

[ I just wanted to watch over her. Reminded me of the old days. Sorry if I caused you any trouble while doing it. ]

“Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t a bother. Tricianna settled everything when she came.”

Merilda softly chuckled and cocked her head.

[ Turns out, that girl differed from Sylvania more than not. Well, I suppose it makes sense. A weirdo like that doesn’t come by often. ]

“I suppose not.”

[ Yeah, maybe I did feel a little down. ]

Gazing up at the spires of Sylvania, with her dress unfurled, Merilda stood upon the water. The towers rising sharply among the night stars weren’t just a few.

Visible even from the northern woods’ lake, the towers were a continuation of the legacy of an eccentric mage once exiled to this island.

What had begun humbly now stood as a premier educational institution on the continent. Considering the vast swath of time, the specifics may blur together into a remembrance as vivid as foregone yesterdays.

Merilda’s accumulated memories, still preserved through her own twilight, carry significance well beyond ordinary recall.

Her times overseeing the entire island, dealing with the antics of Sylvania, the headstrong mage. Hands on her hips, laughing heartily, Sylvania wasn’t someone to be forgotten easily.

[ Looking back, she really was quite the friend. ]

Merilda spoke with a fondness in her voice that seemed distant from melancholy, even if her expression suggested otherwise.

*[ We have the remnants of the highest wind spirit. ]

My rapport with Merilda had surely grown, even without needing to consult my status window. This wasn’t about tangible stats; it felt like a real bond between a spirit and a spiritualist. After all the journeys and conversations we’d shared, it was fitting.

Perhaps actual affinity had grown, and it would impact the potency of spirit arts or skills if I looked at the stats. But what Merilda shared after our deeper conversation was information of another magnitude.

[ The position of the top wind spirit has been vacant for decades. No one has approached that realm since the old highest spirit returned to nature, leaving only its remnants behind. ]

Merilda came over to the guardian tree, took a seat next to me, and continued:

[ To call it remnants feels wrong. It’s more like a small, silky cluster of magical energy. There’s nothing like a corpse for a spirit, but this is the closest comparison—a trace left behind as it vanished. ]

Gesturing to the night sky, palms open, she recounted:

[ Possessing it could greatly accelerate the training of your spirit arts. Sylvania buried it after finishing her research, but if you want, I’ll give it to you. ]

“A sudden change of heart?”

[ Not really. Finding a friend like you is hard. Yenika is lovely, but if you ask if she’s someone to confide in deeply, well, that’s another matter. ]

“High Wind Spirit ‘Tir Kalax’.”

A bear-shaped spirit, as enormous as a mountain ridge, was now only a figure of past legends.

[ It won’t be free, though. ]

She said this with a sly smile.

“You seem to have something unnecessary in mind.”

[ Not at all~. As I’ve said, I’m a bit blue. Just thinking it’d be nice if someone could dispel this gloom. ]

“What more do you want?”

Merilda suddenly sat up, pulled my tie towards her, and whispered in my ear.

[ You know Yenika likes you? Romantically. ]

Her unexpected bluntness caught me off guard.

[ I understand you’re busy, but you’ve finally come into quieter times with spare moments, right? ]

“What are you getting at?”

[ Maybe it’s time to move things along. ]

With that, Merilda playfully wrapped the tie around her hand, her voice laced with allure.

[ Before the vacation ends, you should at least kiss Yenika. ]

“…”

Wordlessly I stared at her, as if my soul had ascended, while Merilda flipped her white hair nonchalantly, feigning innocence.

[ The fox lady from that trading company plans to set up camp here. It’s pretty clear Yenika would lose in a tussle, so to ease my mind, establish the facts of the matter quickly before then. ]

“…”

[ Deal? ]

Summer break was already winding down.

It wouldn’t be long until the students began their return to the academy.

Feeling an ominous premonition for reasons unknown, I found myself staring at Merilda’s smug face for a long while.

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One response to “The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 167”

  1. merlida being wingman to yenika big tim

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