The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 172

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

Elte Trading Company Recapture (1)

?It must have been over a year ago.

It was a day when unpleasant rain drizzled down from the sky.

The words that were spoken back then still often echo through Lortelle’s mind.

– “They say that power gained through betrayal inevitably falls through betrayal. Despite all my efforts and vigilance, it seems I am no exception.”

Bound and seated in the carriage headed for the royal palace, King Elte of Gold, peered through the wooden bars at Lortelle with a sharp look in his eyes.

A bitter smile tinged with coldness was etched on his face.

– “Look at me, do you find it amusing?”

The once-luxurious robes now caked with dirt and torn in several places, and his distinguished beard was soaked in blood.

Sitting dejectedly on the dirty carriage floor, being drenched by the rain, his appearance was a far cry from the majestic merchant prince who once commanded the continent.

As the carriage began to move, Elte Keheln gazed straight at Lortelle and spoke.

– “You’d better not smile. Pay close attention.”

Although one might have anticipated curses and abusive language… surprisingly, he spoke to Lortelle in a calm tone.

He lifted his arms slightly, showing tattered rags that could no longer be called the clothes of a merchant.

In the cramped space of the prisoner carriage, he spoke to Lortelle with a sardonic smile.

– “Your future.”

As the carriage moved away, Lortelle felt a strangely unpleasant sensation.

“Those who rise through betrayal will eventually meet their end through betrayal.”

This phrase could be found everywhere, from the scriptures of the holy wars to the maxims among the merchants.

Once the weapon of betrayal is grasped, it clings to the holder until death, leaving a cursed blade behind.

Once branded a traitor, no one will trust that person again.

One might maintain relationships out of need or mutual benefit.

But no one will venture into a once-in-a-lifetime business with someone with a history of betrayal, nor will they build a relationship of trust beyond mutual interests.

If one has gained power through betrayal, they must live in solitude until the day that power is snatched away.

The moment you become careless or your heart softens, the very blade of betrayal that you once held will pass to another’s hand and pierce through your own chest.

Once you’ve taken up this forbidden weapon, there is no escape.

Especially in the world of commerce, where trust and credit are as valuable as gold.

As one rushes towards an inevitable downfall, struggling each day to hold on… when the time comes, there’s no choice but to humbly accept death.

Until that final moment, there will be no one who truly trusts Lortelle Keheln.

At least in the world of merchants, the downfall of one who ascends to the throne through betrayal inevitably takes this form.

Pouring rain.

Lortelle Keheln narrowed his eyes at the departing prison carriage.

For someone who always wore a snake-like smile, her face looked unusually serious.

*

“Why is the atmosphere like this?”

She asked the same question again, but this time to a different person.

In Lortelle’s tidy and lovely private villa, she changed her clothes and sat in the rocking chair by the fireplace, and asked the waiting maid, Belle, directly.

“Why are senior Ed and Senior Yenika acting so cautiously and reservedly around each other, like newlyweds that have spent only one night together?”

“…”

“And why can’t you meet my eyes when I ask you this, Belle?”

Lortelle’s incisive question sent Belle into overdrive as she broke into a cold sweat. She had faced various crises working at the Ophelius Hall, but never before felt so cornered.

Try as she might to diffuse the situation, naturally, there were no easy solutions.

So, her only option was to convey the truth unvarnished.

“Miss Yenika and Lord Ed shared a kiss.”

A successful one-liner.

Despite only uttering a single sentence, Belle felt her breath catch in her throat. Gazing at Lortelle with wide eyes, the girl seemed surprisingly calm.

The conversation on erosion by money and power reflects a common discourse in society, where daily life becomes difficult without these resources. Lortelle admits to being in a position where he cannot sympathize with having neither, and suggests being without is better than losing them. This raises a question about what Lortelle truly wishes to express by initiating such a talk.

Belle, choosing to listen rather than respond, starts to decipher Lortelle’s intent. Lortelle’s fear of losing money and power, and the loneliness that would ensue, is evident. Having grown up in the swamp of merchants since childhood, Lortelle knows the worthlessness of her magical skills, articulation, and past achievements in the absence of wealth and authority.

Despite her successes, all of Lortelle’s authority stems from wealth and power. Her accomplishments have made others attentive to her directives. The core of all her relationships, whether with employees, business partners, or competitors, is money and power. To Belle, Lortelle seemed incredibly lonely, too early matured by the harsh realities she faced from a young age.

Lortelle’s fixation on protecting her status quo, driven by fear, reflects the desperateness akin to a minstrel’s treasured lute or a beggar’s tin can. The tragedy of Lortelle’s situation is her grasp on power, just like a child clutching a favorite toy, hinting at a darker comparison to that of a mischievous fox.

Occasionally, there’s a glimpse of another person in Lortelle’s life – Ed. He seems to appreciate Lortelle for who she is, not for her wealth or accomplishments. Belle skillfully notes the value Ed holds in Lortelle’s life, how authentic human connections can transcend financial transactions.

Ed represents hope for a different kind of relation – one where trust doesn’t come with a price tag but is infinitely valuable. However, maintaining a balance in such relationships is a challenging task, even for someone as shrewd as Lortelle. There’s always the fear of losing that delicate bond.

Lortelle acknowledges feeling a range of emotions she hadn’t before – an indication that, perhaps, there’s more to life than commerce. She has become accustomed to erecting barriers but now finds herself contemplating the genuine interests and well-being of another person like Ed. This kind of emotional connection is novel and treasured, likened to a blind person seeing color for the first time.

As their meeting concludes, bell and Lortelle discuss mundane matters, like rising food supply prices, before bidding farewell. Outside, immersed in thoughts about Lortelle’s interactions with Ed, bell stops by Ed’s campsite. Unlike Lortelle, Ed leads a simple life by the campfire, content in his realities.

Belle’s mood darkens at the thought of Ed’s significance to multiple people, including Lortelle, and the human incapacity to divide oneself into parts to cater to everyone. The complex emotions cause Belle to join Ed by the fire, both marked by their thoughts and routines as the night deepens.

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