The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 168

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Oh no, Miss Yenika, (1)

As the news spread about the Rothtaylor family, the Clorel Imperial family was in a real turmoil.

Many of the high nobility perished by the tragedy caused by the head of the Rothtaylor family, Crebin Rothtaylor, the Rothtaylor territory and mansion grounds were annihilated, and if not handled properly, the curse of the evil god could have even affected the imperial family directly.

The fall of the Rothtaylor family, which had served as a close supporter of the Clorel Imperial household for many years, and its patriarch, Crebin.

Already, the members of the Rothtaylor family held their own significant positions in various places within the Clorel Imperial court.

Among them, there were middle management roles such as the knight order’s administrative staff and serving staff managers, to major positions such as chairman of the imperial advisory council, the top ceremonial officer, and the chief justice… The Rothtaylor family had its roots set in many places.

Though they had attained their positions through Crebin’s influence, with the revelation of Crebin’s death and his heinous deeds, they were all temporarily suspended from their duties.

When several key positions within the imperial hierarchy became simultaneously vacant, the deputies handling the workload led to several administrative snags… And eventually, this necessitated the convening of an emergency meeting.

“There are quite a number of empty seats.”

“All the talents hailing from the Rothtaylor family have been gathered in the imperial annex.”

At the imperial emergency meeting where key imperial figures were discussing the situation, the conference seats were laid out in an arch in front of the seated Emperor of Clorel, yet there remained a noticeable number of vacancies.

The palace steward, who oversaw internal and external affairs of the imperial family, was recounting to the Clorel Emperor the names of those absent, most of whom bore the name Rothtaylor.

In front of the Clorel Emperor were positioned the seats designated for the three princesses who were rightful successors to the imperial powers, and behind them were seated figures like the imperial knight order captain, the steward, the admiral, the prime minister—those at the center of power.

Essentially, it was a meeting where those who decide the direction of the Clorel Empire had gathered.

“The reason we are gathered today is well understood by you all. We are here to discuss the tragedy that unfolded in the Rothtaylor territory and the subsequent cleanup efforts.”

The Clorel Emperor presided over the meeting in his calm and dignified tone.

“I’m sure you have many things you wish to report to me. We will also need to discuss the future course of the Rothtaylor family. Rewards will be granted to those deserving, and punishments will be meted out where due.”

The three princesses, seated closest to the Clorel Emperor.

Sella, Persica, and Phoenia, each with a different expression. They sat at the center of the meeting, eyeing each other and the proceedings.

The Clorel Emperor had already sensed it. His three daughters were each maintaining different stances regarding the Rothtaylor family, once at the core of power.

The scene with the realm’s powerful figures lining up around the three legitimate heirs of the royal family… It was as if showcasing a glimpse into the intricate web of power structures.

This matter won’t be concluded easily.

With that thought, the Clorel Emperor announced the start of the meeting.

A meeting so noble and significant that a commoner could not even come near.

In a corner at the back of this very important meeting, there sat a girl wearing a witch’s hat pulled down low. She was a witness secured on-site by Sella and had contributed significantly to the subjugation of Mebuler.

She was of a small stature, her legs crossed as if laying back in the plush chair. The uniform she wore was so loose that it lacked any semblance of dignity, and the hat too large, hiding her face.

The girl, whose expression could not be discerned, quietly sat in the corner of the meeting room, listening to the flow of the conversation.

* * *

The dock at Acken Island was not particularly large.

Most of the traffic was concentrated around the Mekses Bridge.

Normally, one would expect to travel to and from an island by boat, but the transport structure of Acken Island was peculiar.

The population residing there was not so large that it required frequent shuttling of sailboats, and most goods were transported via the bridge.

With the nearby Jazhul County or the small trading city of Bellbrook providing goods, there was little incentive to use maritime routes. Considering the scale, it was cheaper to transport goods via trade caravans.

Thus, the Acken Island dock was not frequently used except by a few students who utilized sea routes to get home, or by a handful of merchants who received rare goods from distant lands.

―Creak, creak.

As the sea level rose and fell, the flat-bottomed barge also swayed up and down.

Landing on it, Zix Effelstein then turned around to catch Elka, who was stepping onto the small passenger ship.

“Ugh, ugh… I thought I was going to die of seasickness.”

“It appears that next time, it might be better to take a carriage. The ship may be faster, but it’s too harsh on your condition, Elka.”

“This time we had a lot of luggage, so there was no helping it….”

Elka Iseland hugged the semi-robe draped over her shoulders and shook her head. While she still felt some dizziness, the aftereffects were minor compared to the long journey.

From the northern grasslands to the western shores of the Empire, then by ship straight to Acken Island—the trip was indeed much shorter than if they had come only by carriage.

“I will take the luggage from the workers here, so you go ahead to the Loreille Manor and rest.”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll rest up at the dock, so when you finish your business, let’s go together.”

Zix looked at Elka with a concerned expression, but Elka encouraged him not to worry too much, then staggered toward the dock.

However, just a few steps in, she spotted a familiar face and tilted her head in curiosity.

“Oh my, it’s Senior Yenika.”

Upon hearing that, Zix, busy receiving heavy luggage, turned to look in the same direction.

Across from where Elka and Zix had disembarked from the barge, Yenika was getting off another ship, carrying a simple travel bag. She wore a light blue skirt and a white blouse with her sleeves rolled up, struggling to carry her burdens.

“Oh… Zix… and… Elka…”

“Your return to the academy is quite early, senior Yenika. We always have to attend academic conferences a few weeks before school starts anyway…”

Elka Iseland, a librarian who managed the student library and also conducted research in magical book societies, liked to arrive early before the rush of demands for magic books at the start of the term.

Zix didn’t necessarily need to return early, but he had gotten into the habit of coming back to the academy early since Elka did.

“Aren’t you usually quick to go home, senior Yenika, to help out your hometown? And you typically return to the academy as late as possible, but it seems like you’ve had an unusual year this time.”

“Ah, well, it’s just that…”

Yenika hesitated at Zix’s question, unable to reply, and nervously fumbled her words.

Rumors had already spread in Yenika’s hometown about her love life, and the village was abuzz with talk behind her back.

Eventually, Yenika let out a resigned sigh and spoke, tears in her eyes.

“It just happened that way…”

“…You must have had your reasons.”

Zix didn’t pry any further. He finished collecting Elka’s luggage from the workers and wiped his sweat, sneaking a glance at Yenika.

“It seems that many students have already returned to the academy. There are quite a few who didn’t leave for vacation at all. If you head to the academy now, you’re bound to encounter many familiar faces.”

“Yes, that’s right… Ed should be back early too…”

“Senior Ed? I heard he went back to his family home this year… Is he already back at the academy?”

At that, Yenika paused awkwardly, not sure what to say.

The news about the Rothtaylor family wasn’t exactly pleasant to share. She didn’t want to be the one to spread it around, even though everyone would inevitably find out.

“Hmm…”

Zix had a hunch and began to sweat a little at Yenika’s reaction. While receiving the last piece of luggage, he sat down on one, wiping away his sweat.

“Are you and Senior Ed not getting along well?”

“What, what kind of question is that…!”

“Ah, no, it’s just that, well, I notice that you seem a bit off every time Ed’s name comes up lately.”

Zix had an oddly sharp intuition. He was remarkably acute in such matters, which made Yenika sweat even more at the back of her neck.

“Zix, that sort of questioning might be rude. We should allow Senior Yenika to handle her own affairs.”

“Oh, I see, should I? I’m just not sure about the proper etiquette in this situation…”

As Elka raised her index finger and pushed on Zix’s forehead, he exhaled deeply.

“No, it’s not really a bother… it’s just… I’ve just been at odds with Ed recently…”

Yenika set her bag down and sighed deeply.

“I’ve been worried actually. Maybe I’m being too much of a burden on Ed…”

Her unexpected confession led Zix and Elka to look at each other momentarily confused before taking some time to sort out their thoughts.

“You find Senior Ed burdensome?”

“Uh, yeah… I mean, perhaps he could, right?”

“Well, I have a different opinion. Consider Senior Ed’s personality. If Senior Yenika were a burden, wouldn’t he have told you directly?”

Above the swaying barge, the three quietly sat down to organize their thoughts until Elka finally broke the silence.

“Senior Yenika must have her reasons for thinking that way, right?”

“Well, thinking back on my actions… I mean… that’s definitely burdensome, isn’t it? Above all, recently… things haven’t been quite falling into place…”

Yenika had thought she was being considerate of Ed by yielding the top student position, but to Ed, it seemed to have hurt his pride. She wouldn’t have realized it if not for Anis’s advice.

Moreover, she had accompanied him to the Rothtaylor mansion under the pretense of protection, only to be unable to prevent him from getting seriously hurt.

Afterward, Yenika had suggested that they go to Fellan together to heal and observe the political situation; however, Ed had firmly declined and returned to the Sylvania Academy.

While it was also Ed considering Yenika’s vacation plans, the refusal nagged at her nonetheless.

“Living together in the camp and everything… maybe I haven’t been considerate enough of Ed?”

“…To be blunt, there aren’t many who care for Senior Ed as much as Senior Yenika does.”

“Still… the pressure Ed feels is entirely something else…!”

Zix took a breath and glanced at Elka before sighing deeply.

Yenika’s self-awareness was severely lacking. In any case, there weren’t that many men who would dislike a girl like Yenika Faelover for being a bit forward. Would Ed really be any different?

But, of course, he couldn’t afford to compliment Yenika’s looks in front of his girlfriend Elka. He had learned such tact through countless failures.

“It seems you’re belittling Senior Ed, but… men are all the same, senior Yenika.”

“…Huh?”

“Well, there aren’t many men who would push away a proactive woman. You could be a bit more forward with confidence. But that’s just my opinion.”

Glancing at Elka’s reaction to his words, he saw her staring at him with narrowed eyes. The feeling was precarious, but he seemed safe for now.

“Not all pressures are unpleasant. Sometimes it makes you happy, thinking they rely on you.”

“Zix…”

Elka called Zix’s name with a smile, but then sighed deeply, her expression briefly turning sad.

“I’m feeling quite conflicted… Zix.”

“Don’t worry about it too much. I was never one for a life of luxury.”

As Yenika looked on with a puzzled expression at their exchange, Zix felt the need to explain.

“I’ll be leaving Ophelius Hall from next semester. I’ve already submitted my resignation, and it’s been accepted…”

I’m currently in that state.”

“Really? You’re not lacking in grades, though.”

“That’s true, but ever since this semester started, Elka’s asthma has gotten worse… Now she needs someone to stay close by and help her out. If I’m going to stick around Elka while handling student council work, I have no choice but to move to a single room in Lortelle Mansion.”

Elka belongs to Lortelle Mansion, a dormitory for honor students. She gave up her luxurious life in Ophelius Mansion to live near Elka and to assist her with daily life.

“Well, the facilities are a bit lacking compared to Ophelius Mansion, and I won’t have the servants to attend to me, so I’ll have to do everything myself… But that’s the way it should be. You can’t take for granted what you have, as if it will always be there.”

“It must be tough on you.”

“It’s not a situation worth complaining about. Compared to the brutal life in the wild, everything here is comfortable and fine.”

Zix checked all the luggage he had received, and once he confirmed that nothing was missing, he paid the worker.

The worker at the dock, a man with a friendly face, smiled brightly at Zix, said his farewells, and departed.

Zix then neatly gathered his bags. Despite picking up large wooden trunks and suitcases, he showed no sign of struggle.

His natural strength was remarkable. He could have been a combat student instead of focusing on magic without any issue.

“Anyway, I can’t presume to know Senior Yenika’s worries, but it seems like a pointless concern to me.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Men understand men’s thoughts better. The reactions of men who truly feel burdened or want to keep their distance are quite different. A real red flag is… more blatantly obvious.”

Zix chooses his words carefully. He wasn’t one to interfere in others’ romantic affairs, after all.

But he could offer at least a little assurance.

“Like, if they avoid eye contact, or forcefully shorten conversations with one-word answers… Or, if they openly show an uncomfortable expression… Anyway, the warning signs sent by men are pretty obvious. I’m saying that they don’t express it subtly and mysteriously as Senior Yenika worries.”

“Hmm…”

“So have some confidence. Senior Ed must be feeling quite attracted to you, senior Yenika.”

With that definitive conclusion, Zix, having gathered his bags, headed towards the dock.

“Well, pushing and pulling, and playing the waiting game are important… But sometimes, if you just push forward without overthinking, you’ll find that people fall easier than you expect. If something doesn’t work one way, you have to try another; that’s a rule of thumb in everything.”

“That’s… a fair point.”

“So cheer up, senior Yenika. There will be good results.”

Saying that, Zix, with luggage in hand, made his way onto the jetty. He made a fist and pumped it as if to give strength, an added touch.

Elka, who scurried after him, glanced at Yenika, then adorably clenched her fists and cheered her on with a “fighting” chant.

Left alone on the barge, Yenika put down her bags and took a deep breath.

Then, clenching her fist tightly, she gathered her strength and rose from her seat. Certainly, there was nothing wrong with what Zix had said.

There’s no benefit in having low self-esteem. If Ed had found Yenika to be a burden, he would have said so by now.

Encouraged by this realization, Yenika moved more lightheartedly toward the northern forest camp.

* * *

“Hello, Ed! I came back a bit early!”

Now, the northern forest camp feels like home to Yenika.

Of course, no matter how comfortable a place feels like home, it can’t compare to the actual comfort of one’s true family home in Fellan.

However, for this vacation only, she couldn’t bear not returning to the camp.

To Yenika, who left her hometown crying, the sight of her parents waving handkerchiefs in farewell was pitiable…but for a teenage girl just awakening to love, it was too cruel of a place.

Nevertheless, camping with Ed felt more emotionally stable.

Yenika, with her bags in tow and a bright face, greeted him energetically.

In the fireplace was Ed Rothtaylor poking at the fire with a poker, someone she hadn’t seen in a while.

Since Belle handled all the basic tasks, Ed could focus solely on resting and recovering.

Seeing Ed looking so much better, Yenika let out a deep sigh of relief.

However, now she could see Lortelle’s mansion, which had been completed.

A new building erected in what used to be their private camp space did not sit well with her. Despite feeling begrudging, she understood that Lortelle could not return to Acken now due to overwhelming business obligations, having to deal with all affairs from Oldec when not in session.

Now, it’s only Ed and Yenika in the camp. The fact that they were alone there magnified that feeling, and Yenika briskly walked over to the hearth.

“Oh, you’re early, Yenika.”

Ed, who was there to meet her, seemed to have improved in health substantially.

Yenika responded with a broad smile and a nod. Just seeing his face was enough to fill her with joy, buzzing over like a wagging dog, thrilled even to just sit silently by the fire, her shoulders lifting with excitement.

“I just realized, vacation will be over soon….”

“Yes, Ed, how have you been? I was really worried. When you were at the Rothtaylor mansion, you were badly hurt.”

“Yes…”

Ed looked down and poked the fire pitifully. At this moment, Yenika felt something strange.

“I’m glad you seem to have rested well during the vacation! Once vacation ends and the new semester starts, we’ll have a lot of work piled up, so we’ll need to stay strong!”

“Yes, that’s true….”

After speaking up to that point, Yenika carefully observed Ed’s expression.

He avoided eye contact with Yenika and seemed deeply lost in thought, alternating his gaze between the fire and her.

Ed Rothtaylor often showed this behavior when he was deeply worried – he would react appropriately to the surrounding situation while still devoting part of his thoughts to the concern at hand.

However, Yenika became aware of something off. Even someone as oblivious as her could tell that Ed’s demeanor was clearly unusual.

― ‘Not making eye contact, cutting off conversation with short answers, or openly showing discomfort… the warning signs from men are pretty clear.’

Zix’s casual words came back to her suddenly.

To anyone’s perspective, Ed Rothtaylor seemed to be clearly feeling burdened.

But it was odd for him to feel burdened by Yenika now. After all, they had spent so much time together.

However, the perception of a person can change in an instant.

Yenika swallowed hard, her eyes widening.

‘Am I really… such a burden…?’

She was not unaware.

She had clung to Ed for so long for the sake of her affection, yet it was she who had sometimes used formal language or tried to put distance between them under the pretext of redefining their relationship.

From a third person’s objective viewpoint, she was just a girl of that age making a fuss over needless worries. But to her, she was more serious than anyone.

If she continued to ride such highs and lows based on every little response from Ed, she would never be able to hold the reins of the relationship.

But this was beyond her control. Yenika Faelover was just such a girl – could she really blame herself for being born this way?

“Yenika. There’s something I need to tell you.”

“Yes! What is it?!”

“… Why are you suddenly using formal language…?”

“Yes! What is it?!”

Ed abruptly broke the silence, and Yenika nearly bit her tongue in surprise.

Across the fire, Ed’s face was seriously earnest. Yenika swallowed dryly and listened intently to his words.

“There’s… this might sound odd. Still, there are reasons for it, so… just listen. It’s not necessarily a difficult request, but depending on the situation, it could be….”

“Yes…?”

“I could go into the details, but that would be… cowardly, perhaps. It wouldn’t be respectful to you… I’ll just say it directly….”

“What is it…?”

She can’t remember a single time when Ed Rothtaylor had preceded his speech with such preamble.

Tension rising, Yenika straightened her back and widened her eyes.

“That, you know…”

“Uh, yes….”

“…….”

“…….”

Then, Ed finally said, while pressing the dirt with his poker stick.

“…Never mind.”

“What?! What is it!”

“No, forget it. Lately, I feel I’ve asked too much of you, and this would really be out of line… Forget it. I’ll find another way… just… forget it….”

“No, tell me! What is it! What?!”

Impatiently, Yenika dug her heels into the ground and pressed him for an answer. Ed, sweating and looking embarrassed, replied.

“Really, it’s alright. I have a conscience, you know, and the idea of exploiting you like this makes me uneasy….”

“We’re not so formal with each other, right? If Ed needs a favor, I’ll listen, so don’t worry. Just tell me what it is, okay?!”

“Promising anything without thinking isn’t good… Yenika… it’s not good… really not good….”

“What in the world is it?!”

Yenika couldn’t hold back anymore. Stamping the ground, she demanded to know.

Suddenly, she noticed something in Ed’s expression again – a look of true distress, struggling to find the words to explain.

Having grown closer over time, this was the first time Yenika had seen such a look on Ed’s face.

A single sweat drop trailed down Yenika’s spine.

“Ed.”

Yenika and Ed Rothtaylor had become quite close. The barriers between them had fallen away, allowing them to exchange even unreasonable requests with candor.

Yenika wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

Aware of this, Ed was still unusual in his reluctance to speak.

He had relied on Yenika for much, even involving her in the disaster at the Rothtaylor mansion.

If Ed was hesitating over something that troubled him, it must be a severe and profound problem.

Suddenly, it occurred to Yenika that it was no time for jest or laughter.

She had never seen Ed look so troubled or in such difficulty. He was the man who would calmly sort out what needed to be done even if the world were ending the next day. To see that same Ed so troubled by a problem was incomprehensible.

It was then that Yenika knew what she needed to do. To implant confidence in Ed. To tell him that no matter what trials come, she will stand by his side. To assure him that he can trust her with his troubles. She must declare that steadfast trust.

A serious look came over Yenika’s face, marked by firm trust and resolve, as if to say she would shoulder any heavy burden with him.

Her serious expression carried determined will, as if ready to bet even her life on it, reminiscent of a general’s resolve before heading into battle.

“I’m ready for anything, Ed. So… it’s okay, you can ask me anything. No matter how serious it is, I’m on your side.”

To Ed, this was unbearable.

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