The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 169

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

No, look here, Miss Yenika (2)

It’s been quite some time since I entered Sylvania the Failed Swordsaint, and in this world, I’ve interacted and established relationships with numerous people.

Along the way, some relationships have developed smoothly and become special, while others have become twisted and complicated.

That’s just how human relationships are. It’s impossible to get along with everyone.

My life has been busy.

Although I am taking a break now, there were hardly any days since I first arrived at Acken Island where I was able to sleep soundly without rolling around restlessly.

The reason I lived this way is simple: I needed to survive.

Practical and realistic threats to my life came several times each semester.

The threat of starvation, suffering from the cold or heat, falling ill… not to mention, there were scenarios where I had to fight for my life against enemies. Every single moment was a continuous threat.

Reality is different from movies.

Even as the time passes and seasons change, people sometimes bicker and struggle with relationships as if they were on a school trip, clutching their racing hearts.

While one engages in foolish banter to create a plausible atmosphere, the maintenance of a cabin does not happen by itself, nor do the traps you’ve set magically collect themselves, or the game you’ve caught wait patiently without spoiling.

Even in the midst of a bullet-ridden battlefield, lovers exchange words of love.

In the movies, it might become a beautiful story of two lovers resisting a cruel fate.

However, in the realities of war, love is nothing more or less than a weakness.

The tragedies of reality strike unexpectedly and without foreshadowing.

When you one day see your lover’s face carried in on a stretcher, pierced by bullets, their eyes grotesquely bulging… the tender emotions of love turn into curses that eat away at body and mind.

Though one might act as if they are the protagonist of the world, the spotlight never shines on them.

Even the death of a lover is merely used as a backdrop scene, no different from other soldiers passing by.

Having witnessed such scenes countless times, anyone would naturally realize.

When death looms right under your neck and you have to struggle for survival, you must focus all your mind on surviving alone.

Even in this journey to the Lost Taely mansion, I’ve come close to death numerous times.

The reason I continued to survive amid countless threats of death was a sole focus on surviving.

Because of that desire to survive, my comrades have always called me a ‘cockroach’.

A human who, even if left naked in the middle of a desert, would somehow survive to complete their name and die.

I always self-affirm.

Setting priorities for tasks, let’s take care of what’s needed first. At any time or place, I must be like a mechanical device—logical and rational.

Whether it’s a battlefield littered with the dead or a romance-filled academy.

If there’s a knife under my throat right now, the first thing I need to take care of is the survival itself.

Until I could step away from the battlefield and unwind a bit, that’s how I lived, hardly ever faltering.

Cold reason always made clear judgements about the magnitude and priority of issues.

– ‘A person with a frozen heart.’

Only then did I remember a story buried in my memories.

– ‘Though harsh reality has shaped you, the world doesn’t only rain cold snow. Surprisingly, there are clear and sunny days, warm and cozy days too.’

– ‘However, if you get used to looking up at the sky soaked in rain, you can’t help but think that it will also rain tomorrow. That’s human psychology.’

– ‘I hope that someday you meet someone who can melt the frost on your heart just like snow in the sun.’

Is it a memory of the battlefield or after retirement? I can’t remember well, but it was a strangely poignant voice.

– ‘Until then, even if it’s cold, button up and hang in there. You’re strong enough to do it.’

* * *

“Ed always has a lot of worries piling up, but this time it feels different.”

Yenika Felover, across the campfire, spoke with a serious and heavy expression.

Regrettably, the reason I am in such a predicament is not so grave or serious. It’s simply because I’m troubled about how to respond to Merilda’s whims.

If I play along with Merilda’s caprice to push me into kissing Yenika, I could very well do it.

I’m long past being embarrassed about kissing, and can grab Yenika’s lower jaw and press my lips to hers this instant if I decided to.

However, I also need to consider Yenika’s perspective.

Even if I kissed her on the spot, although she would be bewildered at first, once she realizes that it happened due to Merilda’s shallow whims, I doubt she would feel particularly good about it, at least I wouldn’t.

To extract information from Merilda about the remains of the highest-ranking spirit and casually kiss someone just because… from a certain point of view, it’s an irresponsible action.

Unless it’s someone I’ve never met before, Yenika Felover is a colleague with whom I’ve lived and worked for the longest time since I’ve arrived in this world. I wouldn’t want to treat her carelessly.

Then, I should just kiss her as one human to another, putting Merilda’s whims aside.

But then again, on second thought, it isn’t that simple.

No matter what I think, Yenika would certainly believe that I kissed her due to Merilda’s whim.

Then the only remaining possibility is one…

To lay it all out for Yenika, to tell her everything and ask if she would kiss me.

… I’m no expert in romance, but I know that this last resort is the worst option possible.

“Sorry, but I can’t say, Yenika. This seems like something I need to consider on my own.”

After saying that, I hoped to gloss over the conversation with Yenika.

However, whether she took it to mean something else, she suddenly puffed up her cheeks and widened her eyes.

“…Really?”

Was she feeling spiteful?

Perhaps she thought that we shared every deep part of ourselves, and the fact that I was withholding something crucial was not exactly being well received… Yenika started grumbling.

“Ergh!”

Yenika stamped her feet for a while, making strange noises.

From my perspective, there wasn’t much I could say. I had no choice but to look at Yenika awkwardly, as if troubled.

“…Ed, can I ask you an odd question?”

“…Go ahead.”

“I’m wondering whether I should pressure you to spill your worries or just let it be, pretending I didn’t notice.”

“…And you’re consulting me on this?”

Yenika grumbled but sighed deeply.

Then, as if she were carefully choosing her words, she looked up at the sky and fell deep in thought.

The sun was setting. Frankly, I was just relieved that evening had come.

Ever since the break started, the days have noticeably lengthened. Wasting the day away like this feels like a luxury, considering how I used to divide and conservatively spend my time.

“I don’t want to be a burden to Ed.”

Suddenly, as if she had managed to condense her carefully chosen words into one sentence… Yenika spoke up again.

“What?”

“I hope I haven’t been a burden to you, Ed.”

She reached a conclusion that I couldn’t understand from my perspective.

In fact, Yenika Felover has almost always been a help to me, hardly ever a hindrance.

It’s not for Yenika to worry if she’s been troublesome or burdensome… it’s a concern that the people around her who interact with Yenika should bear.

When such a thought unexpectedly came from her, I looked at her with a disbelieving gaze.

“It seems complicated… Ed.”

“No matter what I say, you’ll likely take it as a polite consolation. I was wondering how I could speak to make it not seem that way.”

“That’s… so?”

“Well, it’s bound to be straightforward. How you take it is up to you.”

With that, I too looked at the fading daylight sky and casually spoke my thoughts.

“You have never been a burden to me, Yenika.”

Without exaggerating nor being too indifferent.

Simply telling the straightforward truth is often the right answer to most problems in life.

“It’s just like that.”

On hearing these words, Yenika stared blankly into the fire for a moment, then slowly smiled.

Was that satisfaction blooming or relief felt?

Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint any single emotion. Like the flickering flames of the campfire, human feelings shift this way and that.

Emotions are so complex that it’s impossible to say for sure what Yenika’s warm smile concealed.

Luckily, she didn’t seem worried.

“So it is…”

Following that, I realized I had dug my own grave.

“Then, I’ll press you, Ed!”

“…What?”

“What’s your worry! Tell me! Hurry up!”

Had I chosen the wrong option?

Yenika, face flush with Color, was waving her arms frantically as she spoke.

“Your worries are my worries too, so out with it!”

And then Yenika set down her staff and baggage. She dragged a makeshift wooden chair from the edge of the camp with a grunt and sat down facing me, close by the fire.

Despite probably feeling a good deal of heat from behind due to the closeness of the flames, Yenika sat looking me straight in the eye, undisturbed.

“…….”

“Until you tell me—”

“I won’t move.”

“But you’ll get a heat rash on your back. Doesn’t it feel suffocating…”

“It’s even more suffocating watching Ed fretting alone over his problems!”

At this point, Yenika clenched her teeth so hard that she was practically stomping on the ground out of stubbornness.

When it gets to this extent, I can neither withhold information nor just sidestep the issue. I should have never brought up the topic in the first place.

After debating it over and over again in my mind, I finally decided to speak up.

“Well, whatever the concern, if we tackle it together, we can quickly find a solution! Ed, don’t just suffer in silence, but share your worries…”

“Do you think you can coordinate with me?”

Before Yenika finished her sentence, she froze in place.

***

“Merilda really… Why did she have to talk about such unnecessary things…”

Is the natural color of people’s skin not flesh but red?

Yenika, who had been stubbornly sticking to me up until a moment ago, unexpectedly backed away and went to sit on a flat rock in the distance, turning her back to me. Her face wasn’t just flushed; it seemed as though her skin tone had completely changed, and she was now merely repeating the same words.

“Surely, Ed has a reason to worry… With the person involved right in front… No, then what exactly has Merilda told until now…? Uh…?”

Seeing her rambling to the point where I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or to herself, I couldn’t intervene carelessly.

However, I shared my concerns without mincing words.

If I ended up kissing Yenika because Merilda pushed me into it, it would be nothing but a deception to Yenika.

I’m not a wicked enough person to toy with someone’s feelings for my own gain.

Nonetheless, there’s something that must be clarified here.

“It might seem like I’m overthinking this, but still, let’s grit our teeth and talk about it…”

As I slowly began to speak, Yenika took a discreet look towards me. Her poised, sitting posture seemed as if she belonged in an important gathering.

“Well… I kind of know… What feelings… you are harboring towards me… In truth, it would be nonsensical not to know.”

“St, stop! Wai, wait a minute!”

Yenika covered her mouth with shaking hands, darting her eyes away from me. She looked pitiful, shivering as if she were a herbivore in front of a predator, stomping the ground for no reason.

“Ed, I’m suffocating….”

“……”

“Ri, right… Whatever… That’s how it is! Yes! That’s just me… Um… Wouldn’t I treat Ed this well without any feelings for him?! It’s an obvious thing! This is not the kind of conversation to be had in an awkward atmosphere, is it? We, we’re all grown up! Why do we have to act so awkwardly! Ugh! Ahh!”

Despite speaking this way, it was evident how tense Yenika was.

The impression she gave as a girl who seemed to have stepped out of a fairy tale was undeniable, owing to characteristics like these.

However, if Yenika Faelover is a fairy tale protagonist, then I am nothing but a street rat, struggling in reality’s gutter.

Reflecting on the gap between us brings certain things into focus.

“I’m sorry I turned out to be this kind of person.”

“Uh, yeah?”

“I’ve lived too long in an environment where survival was the only concern, to the exclusion of anything else.”

On the other hand, I weighed the gravity of the tragedies I’d witnessed.

Those who saw loved ones carried on stretchers, bullet-ridden, invariably broke down.

It wasn’t just out of contempt for their love affairs when life-threatening crises loomed overhead; it’s because frivolous emotional entanglements, when death is uncertain, only add burdens.

Not even ensuring my own life in such situations, how can I be thoughtless of the one who would face the death assigned to me?

The pain of rejection is temporary and eventually heals, but the pain of loss often lasts a lifetime.

It’s harder to overcome, and more often than not, people collapse under its weight without recovery.

Had I realized this, I should have been more cautious.

I should not have recklessly interacted with others.

I have encountered many trials.

The script was twisted, the developments warped, but I’ve managed to keep my life so far.

From the battle for imperial power to family civil wars and the Bellbrook Expedition. I had come a long way with the trials that remained, which were few enough to count on one hand. But as challenges are wont to do, those that remained boasted greater severity than the ones I had faced.

If I manage to conclude all these trials, grasp the diploma of Sylvania in my hands, and set out from Acken Island with various capabilities, track records, and connections to fully live my own life…

If I overcome all the disasters mapped out in the scenario of [Sylvania’s Disqualified Sword Saint] and stand firmly in this world as my genuine self, then…

Could I envision a grander future, free from the terror of death?

Will the day come when I can move beyond merely surviving to considering how to live?

“Having lived like that, I became such a person. Hardly someone you’d take a liking to.”

Crackle, crackle—twigs burned in the campfire.

Unbeknownst to me, the sun had set, and the night began its slow approach.

As ever, the northern forest at night looked peacefully serene from afar.

Our campsite, too, naturally blended into the forest as if it had always been a part of it.

“Don’t say that, Ed.”

Glancing at Yenika’s face, it had calmed significantly, yet it also held a tinge of sadness.

Her complexion had cooled, appearing much more at peace.

“Ed is not as cold-blooded as you think.”

“Thanks for saying so.”

“It’s not empty words. Remember what you said earlier? You worried that if you spoke, I would take it as mere comfort out of politeness. That’s precisely how I’m feeling now.”

Yenika turned her body to face me squarely.

“The reason you were so troubled and uneasy was because of your concern for me. If I had just gone along with Merilda’s whim and kissed, that would have made me feel strange. Sure, in the moment… I would have been happy… but…”

“……”

“My words slipped a bit… Anyhow… What you thought was right. Merilda, you shouldn’t have done such unnecessary things! Just causing me… to worry like this!”

Once again, Yenika’s lips quivered, and she started panting heavily.

“Anyway… Please forget what I said earlier, Yenika. As I mentioned, kissing you in such a way would not only be disrespectful to you, but there’s also no need for me to play into Merilda’s whims.”

“Ed… But Merilda mentioned that the elemental remains… are essential, right?”

The remains of a superior elemental.

A mystical relic that could dramatically enhance my stagnant spiritual talents… There were plenty of ways to find it without being manipulated by Merilda.

No need to cling to this method.

“I’ll handle it myself, so just pretend you didn’t hear any of it. Frankly, it’s not that I am fine with it; I’m not. I wouldn’t want to use you as a means to an end.”

“Ed. Although I’m pleased with what you said… Actually, I’ve thought of a radical solution.”

“…What?”

With a sudden inhale, Yenika hesitantly continued, her voice stammering as if reading awkward lines from a script.

“So it comes down to this, right? You were considering my feelings, right? Even if I say it’s fine, you don’t want to take action that feels exploitative…?”

Saying this, Yenika jumped down from the rock and approached me.

“The solution is actually quite simple.”

“I have a bad feeling about this…”

“Ju, Just change the agent of the action…”

“What?”

“What if it weren’t Ed doing it but me instead?”

Before I could even respond, it happened.

Yenika had a timid nature, often hesitating in all matters.

But when pushed to the edge or when quick decisions were needed, she was capable of decisive actions, wasn’t she?

I hadn’t expected this trait to still be relevant now.

For a while, only the sound of insects chirping through the forest filled the air. Nothing else but silence.

Out of the two mouths that could converse, both remained shut.

“Huuh…”

After the act, Yenika stepped back, covering her mouth, panting on her own.

Her eyes wide open, she glanced at me a few times before straightening her shoulders as if to congratulate herself silently.

“…Uh… Yenika…”

“Ack! I’m exhausted! Traveling from home by boat wore me out! I feel like I’m going to collapse! See you tomorrow!”

Before I could say anything, Yenika made a fuss and ran into her cabin.

Apparently, just making eye contact left her breathless.

Soon after, bang, the door of the cabin closed.

“No…”

Left alone in front of the campfire, I looked down at the fire poker on the ground.

“…Excuse me…”

Shouldn’t I have been given a chance to speak my position?

This was as astonishing to me as a bolt from the blue… I was struggling to grasp the situation.

In any case… It felt oddly awkward.

The problem was that Yenika and I were neighbors living next to each other.

Her dramatic reactions upon mere eye contact made me apprehensive. Starting tomorrow, we would have to continue seeing each other’s faces daily… Such an enormous mishap.

Perhaps had I bluntly asked if that was it, I could have reacted appropriately.

But with her running away like this… What am I to do…

Concerned about what would happen as soon as the next morning, I repeatedly rubbed my face.

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One response to “The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 169”

  1. Chapters like these are good for the heart <3

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