The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 175

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The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide

As the Secretary of Elte’s Association, Lien approached with documents in hand, hesitatingly proposing a plan.

“The Association is considering the removal of Lord Lortelle as a proxy leader and a reorganization of the internal power structure.”

“Lord Lortelle’s proxy, adopted daughter of the previous leader Elte Keheln, is seen as a relic of the past era, marked as someone to be eradicated from within the Association.”

With those words and embracing the paperwork, Lien presented the negotiation proposal.

As I walked down the hall of the Association, employees wearing robes marked with the Association’s emblem glanced at me from the corner of their eyes. I have been to the Elte Association’s Sylvania branch numerous times, so most of the staff recognize me. Even the ones with whom I had occasionally exchanged greetings were now looking at me intently.

Ever since I became closely acquainted with Lord Lortelle, the employees showed noticeable kindness or were much more inclined to engage me in conversation.

Now, as I naturally show my alignment with Durin on the sidelines, I can feel even more eyes on me. To them, my casual split with Lord Lortelle who I was so close with, must be striking.

No one would outright call me trash or question how I could commit such an act. The reason why Durin can stand up to Lortelle to this extent is that within the Association, Durin’s voice has become significantly louder.

The Association’s staff, at their core, are merchants through and through. Their allegiance sways with the dynamics and real power within the leadership. The environment Lord Lortelle grew up in was always like this.

“You know as well as I do that Lortelle isn’t the type to be subdued just by tying up his hands,” Durin said, smiling wryly as we walked side by side.

“You’re not suggesting that taking down one branch in Sylvania is enough to completely suppress Lord Lortelle who is recognized as a substantial power in the head office?”

“Of course, I would never move without a certain level of certainty,” I replied confidently.

We passed through the lively warehouse of the Association, then ascended the stairs and walked through the office where the employees worked.

“There was also a movement in the main branch of the Elte Association to push out Lord Lortelle’s proxy. Of course, she took advantage of the school holidays to go down and subdue them herself, but our Sylvania branch was out of favor during that time, allowing us to move freely.”

“And how do you plan on subduing Lord Lortelle, whom even the head office can’t handle? I don’t suppose you’re considering something as drastic as murder. It wouldn’t solve anything.”

Durin Grecks is not someone who takes action without a basis. That was the assessment of Lord Lortelle Keheln, who had Durin under his command for several years.

Durin, who deftly took advantage of small embezzlements but never crossed the line or if you’d look closely, one could call him a coward at most.

The reason for Durin’s radical actions must be because he has someone backing him.

“Vacation will end soon, and the new semester in Sylvania will begin. If we can just keep Lord Lortelle’s proxy from doing anything until then, everything should be resolved.”

“I need to know what you’re relying on so I can respond accordingly.”

Instead of answering, Durin turned around with a subtle smile.

“You’ll know if you watch.”

In other words, he would not reveal it. Even though I signed the agreement and declared to Lortelle’s face that I had stabbed him in the back, Durin still didn’t trust me in the end.

Merchants are a breed that doesn’t easily trust others. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t particularly like them.

“I didn’t expect you, Mr. Ed, to join us so quickly. I figured we would have to spend some time convincing you, given your close relationship with Lord Lortelle’s proxy.”

“If the conditions are good, I’ll join anywhere.”

Early graduation is an enticing offer for someone like me who places significant value on a Sylvania diploma.

“However, you’ll need to assure me. If you can truly suppress Lortelle, how a mere Association member like you can facilitate early graduation.”

With that, I stopped in the middle of the corridor as Durin continued ahead. He turned back, and we locked gazes.

“If there’s no assurance, there’s no cooperation. There’s no reason for me to be committed to the contract if its terms aren’t met.”

It’s a reasonable demand from my position.

“You know how risky it is to sever ties with Lortelle Keheln by my own hand? I’ve shown goodwill.”

“If you want my cooperation to continue, you’ll have to provide a satisfactory guarantee.”

Durin spent a moment observing my expression and then chuckled lightly before opening a door in the hallway.

We entered his personal office, and the plethora of documents was impressive. Ranging from logistics details to grand shifts in power structures, the insights were painstakingly accumulated over years of dedication and groundwork.

“More than five years have passed while I’ve been strategically waiting at Elte Association, seeking my fortune.”

He was a man who, at a young age, gave up his studies to live solely as a merchant.

“I waited silently during crises and turmoil, believing that the time wasn’t right, that the perfect opportunity would arise someday.”

“So despite all those uncertainties, this time you sprung into action because you saw an opportunity?”

“There are many reasons for it. So, Mr. Ed, please trust and leave this matter in my hands.”

Slumping into his chair and setting down his beret, Durin continued.

“Lord Lortelle Keheln will be caught, without fail.”

Durin continued in a low voice, his intent clear.

“So, even if you don’t know anything right now, it’s fine. It would make me more nervous if you tried to find out everything.”

“You seem to think too lightly of me,” I replied.

I skidded a chair across and sat opposite him at the table, dropping my cloak and leaning forward.

“Do you really think you’re controlling the whole game behind the scenes?”

The atmosphere tensed as Durin’s expression tightened.

“Do you think you’re the only one who sees the bigger picture while everyone else is clueless?”

“Mr. Ed, it doesn’t help to talk like that…”

“You’re being presumptuous.”

After closing my eyes and recalling the last part of the negotiation proposal, I opened them again to address Durin.

5. Ed Rothtaylor is to officially become an employee of the Elte Association, maintaining this status for at least five years beyond graduation.

6. Ed Rothtaylor must attend all dinners, meetings, and dialogues with the Association’s friendly factions and influential figures, maintaining amicable relations with them.

“It was apparent upon reading the proposal. Your request is not solely for assistance in capturing Lortelle, but also to lay out the post-power relationships.”

“It’s never a bad idea to maintain a long-term relationship with someone like Mr. Ed.”

“It’s amusing, Durin. There’s no reason to formalize such things in a contract.”

Friendly relations aren’t established by signing a contract; it’s the opposite.

“Obviously, this is for someone else’s benefit. The fact that Ed Rothtaylor and the Elte Association are now in full collusion is to be demonstrated to a third party through this contract.”

Translation:

“The fact that they’ve started to move means the imperial power structure’s reorganization has affected the Elte Merchant Association in one way or another.”

What Dun had offered me was simply a negotiation proposal. He had provided no other information.

However, I was able to sufficiently gauge Dun’s backing with just that.

Information is a thing that readily reveals its truth, more than one might think, if you just manipulate the direction of interpretation back and forth.

“The timing is too perfect. You plan such a big operation, and just at that moment, a force starts to stir in Oldec to pull down Lord Lortelle through underhanded means? Almost as if they timed it to distract Lortelle’s attention.”

Dun started to tighten his expression as I casually threw out words of a kind he hadn’t anticipated.

“I’m beginning to suspect that the events that took place in Oldec were also part of the plan.”

“Suspicions are just suspicions. How could I, a mere employee of the merchant association, intervene in the affairs of the Oldec headquarters?”

“Because you’re not the mastermind.”

I’m not familiar with the power structure of Oldec. Since coming to this world, I’ve spent most of my time on Acken Island, so I don’t know much about the local atmosphere.

“I never thought you were the mastermind from the start. You’re just a pawn in the game as well.”

“…”

“I’m looking at the bigger picture behind you.”

Dun might think he’s drawing a big picture, but I’m also seeing the structure that he’s looking at.

“The fact that Sylvania Academy seems also to be involved, offering things like early graduation guarantees. Certainly, the logistics monopoly of the Elte Merchant Association was spearheaded by Lortelle, it would’ve been a burden.”

But Obel Forcius is known to be stingy with such backdoor deals.

If there were negotiations, it would be with someone like Vice-Headmaster Rachel. Someone who tends to do a lot behind Obel’s back.

With the rising prices, the Elte Merchant Association’s monopoly on distribution. In the process, Dun had been the one to reap exorbitant profits, but it appeared as if Lortelle had led it, having sat as the deputy of the chief for so long.

From Dun’s standpoint, garnering the support of the academy would be easy.

By threatening Lortelle’s position and then offering, once in control, to ease the monopolistic walls—that would mean relinquishing the exclusive rights to several key items Elte trades in.

For a merchant association pursuing profit, giving up a logistics monopoly is unheard of, but with political machinations behind it, the story changes.

From the academy’s perspective, this situation is like a gift. A windfall from their infighting lands in the academy’s lap. There’s no reason to refuse such spoils.

“Yes, I concede. Your insight is truly remarkable, Master Ed.”

Dun let out a hollow laugh upon hearing my deduction.

“To think you discerned all that from just one contract proposal, I must admit it’s amusing. It was a good decision not to make you my enemy.”

Dun laughed emptily once more, then, with a more serious face, continued the conversation.

“However… If you’ve noticed that much, you must have a feeling about the condition that Deputy Chief Lortelle finds herself in, don’t you?”

Lortelle Keheln, confined to her private office, subdued.

Now… it wouldn’t be strange if she were in a situation where she had turned the whole world against her.

The Elte Merchant Association in Oldec, Sylvania Academy, and even the imperial court are contributing to her downfall.

Dun slightly raised his hands in surrender, saying,

“When you have perceived this far, I have no choice but to lay all my cards on the table.”

And so he spoke without reservation.

“The next chief of the Elte Merchant Association is set to be Slogg, a senior member of the Six Great Merchants. Always in opposition to Deputy Chief Lortelle.”

It was a name I had casually heard when the underperforming students had taken over the Ophelius Hall during the turmoil.

While I’m not thoroughly acquainted with the local conditions in Oldec, I was well aware of how fierce the merchants there can be.

“Who controls the seat of the chief of the Elte Merchant Association, the continent’s greatest commercial trading company, is a sensitive issue for the empire. It’s one of the largest trading firms that holds the economic power, after all.”

“… So what?”

“The three imperial candidates would naturally want someone sympathetic to their cause in the chief’s seat of the Elte. Having that influential person’s backing could provide a significant political advantage.”

Equipped to decipher the political climate, Dun had managed to discern all this merely by examining the documents that came and went.

“So, naturally, there’s frequent scheming to help a supportive merchant quietly secure the chief’s position. Especially now, when the struggle for imperial power is escalating, it’s the perfect time for plotting.”

“Then who does this Slogg, this great merchant, support?”

At that question, Dun smiled faintly, then revealed.

“Persica Delfinir Clorel.”

Finally, the underlying picture becomes apparent.

“The name of the Empire’s second princess.”

Princess Persica Delfinir Clorel

Oldec’s great merchant Slogg Ainderk

Sylvania Academy Vice-Headmaster Rachel Teslyn

And Dun Grecks, the executive officer of the Elte Merchant Association.

Names of opponents that Lortelle Keheln must face, bound in her office without any power and left with no allies.

The empire’s princess, the trade giant, the academy’s vice principal, and even the traitor who had been under her.

They were overwhelmingly powerful foes for Lortelle, with nothing left but her wretched lot to contend with.

Understanding how things had unfolded to this point, I realized why Dun was so candid about revealing his backers.

Defending Lortelle now, when events have taken such a turn, would be like committing suicide.

Moreover, Lortelle herself would know this.

Though I only just reviewed the contents of the negotiation proposal and had yet to fully grasp the situation, I would have finished sorting my thoughts by now.

If I could deduce this much, the sensible Lortelle could easily come to similar conclusions.

With the situation objectified like this, Lortelle must also have come to a conclusion herself. That at this point, there’s no one who would choose to help her.

I feel the same way.

I had maintained a friendly relationship with Lortelle because her position as the head of the trade association had been of great help to me, whether it was camp life or advancing through scenarios – anything.

Now, Lortelle is on the verge of losing all her influence.

In this life as wild as nature, the reason I’ve always managed to survive is that I never disregarded reason and rationality, even in the most extreme situations.

To make a rational decision means to discard her now.

If I’m to extend a hand to her, there must be other rational reasons for doing so.

She’s already in a state of near-collapse, and right in front of me is Dun’s negotiating proposal, a tantalizing escape route.

Considering the cost-benefit analysis, it’s a bad move to help her in any way.

Lortelle Keheln must think so too. Always pragmatic, she must’ve fully accepted that no one would stand on her side.

If I am to extend a hand to Lortelle beyond the ‘rational,’ it must be based on a human connection.

Not supporting Elte’s chief, not a powerful ruler, but rather…

Taking the hand of the person, Lortelle Keheln.

The price of such a decision might be higher than expected.

However… I remember traces of ‘humanity’ I witnessed on the battlefield.

In times of war so dreadful that one might value a fleeting life as precious, humanity still blooms.

Whether it’s love, friendship, or camaraderie, as you make your way through hell, some will die for others unhesitatingly, share their supplies, or stay to guard a comrade’s body without fleeing.

What defines a person?

‘Irrationality.’

It is the act of saving someone in the gutter that showcases our humanity.

Furthermore, if that person once visited the camp for idle chatter, expressed attraction, offered companionship beside a winter fire, or tried to help when times were tough, there’s nothing more to say.

Then, I realized something I had come to understand effortlessly, without knowing when it began.

At some point, she ceased to be the chief of the Elte Merchant Association to me… she was ‘Lortelle Keheln,’ a person in her own right.

Having reached this realization, I could easily come to a conclusion.

─I shall save her first and see.

Even that monologue was so obvious that it didn’t need to be stated.

“Alright, now that that’s settled… I have one request. Help me with a personal matter, just one thing, and I’ll fully commit to your plan.”

Only after arriving at a conclusion did I speak with cold eyes.

“What is it?”

“I’m going to kidnap someone.”

From here on out, the plan is entirely under my control.

“Give me some support from Elte’s end.”

At those words, Dun smirked knowingly.

“I don’t know the specifics, but it seems you’re not entirely clean either.”

“That’s how it goes.”

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