The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 36

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Occupation of Ophelius Hall (6)

“Do you know that, Miss Ellis? I was rejected.”

On the 5th floor corridor of Ophelius Hall.

The supply room, the maids’ lounge, and other multi-purpose rooms made up this area, which remained as quiet as if indifferent to the chaos on the lower floors.

Students normally had no business on the 5th floor. The guest rooms were all situated on the lower floors, and the majority of the maids were confined to the staff meeting room on the 4th floor, so the expansive corridor on the 5th floor was inevitably silent.

Sounds of commotion from the lower floors could be heard. It seems that Ed Rothtaylor has been causing a spectacular fuss; the bigger the incident, the better for the interests of Lortelle.

Soon there were also sounds that could be Clevius’s panicked screams, likely causing the students trapped in the guest rooms to become increasingly anxious. If the situation grew more serious, they would break down the walls in unison and escape.

Ellis stood in the darkness, quietly observing the girl who spoke to her.

“Miss Ellis, you know who I’m talking about, right? That man who looked so bad and wicked.”

“Are you speaking of Lord Ed? The young man we met at the last camp.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“To think he was to your taste. I was unaware.”

“His appearance may be decent, but that’s not what I meant.”

Lortelle Keheln sat on top of a wooden cabinet in the supply room, drying her hair. She had just finished confirming that everything was going according to plan.

“I smelled the scent I gave you on that man, too. He went off on a sentimental tangent that didn’t suit him one bit.”

“Is that so?”

“And then, predictably, I was brushed off. ‘Take responsibility for your choices,’ he said.”

Lortelle twisted her hair and shook it loose, smiling to herself.

“We folk like us, we have to live by those words, don’t we?”

Ellis did not nod or shake her head at this statement.

As the head maid of Ophelius Hall, Ellis is a veteran maid with over 20 years of service.

She started as an apprentice maid at the unknowing age of 15 and ultimately gained recognition for her abilities at a relatively young age, being appointed as the housekeeper of Ophelius Hall.

Such individuals have a deep-set conviction. That is why they cannot be easily swayed by money.

To make them act against their buried principles, you would have to pour in enough money to shatter their very values.

It was here, in this space, where the most investment had been made to force the scale of the occupation of Ophelius Hall.

To abandon a workplace they had been loyal to all their lives, to hugely escalate the situation, to tear down half of Ophelius Hall, and to be responsible for the entire incident.

To bribe someone into committing such actions, they had to be ensured a life free of financial worries, even after paying for all their sins.

This created a considerable deficit in the ledgers of the Elte Trading Company’s Sylvania branch. Although necessary investment for greater returns is essential, the loss incurred in bribing a senior staff member of Sylvania Academy was substantial. It was not an easy financial wound to heal.

But for Lortelle, no expense was too great.

It wasn’t just for the sake of greater returns. This series of actions also played a role in finding one’s own kind.

She had seen countless individuals seduced by shining gold coins and abandoning their convictions.

Such people are usually those cornered or those who consider their light and weightless principles as the pride of their lives.

Those are not worthy of being called kin.

The true kindred are those who, for a lifetime of devotion, have thrown away their firm beliefs and values in the face of gold.

The more noble and praiseworthy those beliefs and values, the more Lortelle feels an overwhelming rush of emotion. Only this sight can soothe her loneliness.

“Lucky to have you, Miss Ellis.”

Even a veteran maid who has served the students of Ophelius Hall for over 20 years collapses helplessly before greed.

Before a tower of gold, all nobleness loses its value.

Lortelle is well aware that this is a futile form of self-consolation.

A life lived abandoning all else for gold. Nothing more than a psychological defense mechanism to affirm such a lifestyle.

Even though she is aware of this, Lortelle cannot stop searching for her kindred.

“Otherwise, how could such a plan be feasible?”

There is no need to emphasize how crucial the involvement of the head maid of Ophelius Hall has been to this situation.

“As the situation seems to be going according to plan, I will remain in the warehouse. Like an innocent student who is frightened and hides in the warehouse in a hurry.”

“Understood, Miss Lortelle.”

No matter her unfortunate past or the circumstances of being driven to a corner, Lortelle is undeniably the antagonist, the mastermind.

If there is an afterlife, surely she will burn eternally in hellfire.

She deserves neither understanding nor sympathy—something Lortelle knows all too well.

Thus, she is inevitably left searching for her kindred.

Desperately seeking someone who would sink to the bottom of the swamp with her, though she knows so well that no such person exists.

What a pitiful human being she is.

Like a girl of her age unable to fall in love with someone or open her heart like a family, spending her life dying alone in solitude.

With a sigh of compassion, Ellis…

…drew her rapier, pointing it towards Lortelle.

“Miss Lortelle, while I’m on the subject, let me tell you.”

From the moment a mage allows a swordsman to close the distance to this extent… the fight is already determined.

“I, for one, am not your kindred.”

*

“It’s not as hard as I thought.”

On the 3rd-floor corridor of Ophelius Hall.

Outside, the torrential rain continued to pour.

Amidst that, the Taely party steadily advanced forward.

Taely, Aila, Elvira, Clevius.

After capturing the fleeing Clevius on the 2nd floor, they forcefully recruited him into their party.

On the 3rd floor, ‘Kelly, Laundry Manager,’ blocked their way, but they managed to overcome her without any troubles.

– “I’m sorry Miss Ellis… I couldn’t see the task you trusted me with through to the end…”

Kelly continued to murmur to herself even after she was neatly subdued and dumped into a corner of the hallway.

It makes one wonder where Kelly’s twin sister, Shenny, who almost always accompanies her, has gone.

Of course, the Taely party didn’t spare a thought in that direction.

“If we keep up this pace, we’ll finish up soon, right?”

Before they knew it, they had entered the 4th floor.

Perhaps it was due to excessive tension at the start, but things seemed to resolve smoother than expected.

After all, the difficulty on the first floor was bizarrely challenging. Thereafter, no one strategically targeted the Taely party’s weaknesses.

“…”

Aila, unlike her usual self, wore a stoic face.

The sight of the second-year mage amidst raging flames, shirt soaked in blood, continued to haunt her, clashing with the undignified figure from the entrance exam, incessantly irritating her.

Aila is prideful. The fact that Ed feigned defeat left a deep scratch on her arrogant nature, but that doesn’t mean she would lose her senses.

‘It’s troubling. He had definitely been hiding his true abilities.’

However, verification of this fact seems necessary.

Once her curiosity was piqued, not even the most challenging puzzles could stop Aila. There must be some aspect of Ed Rothtaylor that Aila is unaware of.

“Run away!”

“Screaaaaam!”

These concerns were momentary, as a mob of underperforming students poured out from the end of the 4th-floor corridor. Each bear expressions of terror, rushing past the Taely party toward the exit of Ophelius Hall.

“The protective magic has gone haywire!”

“Willain, that idiot! Didn’t I tell him not to touch it carelessly!”

“Damn it! Where have all the maids managing the protective magic gone? Just run!”

“I don’t know! I really didn’t expect things to turn out this way!”

As the students screamed and bolted, the hallway descended into chaos in an instant.

“Wait, wait a minute! What’s going on? Why is everyone panicking like this?”

Taely shouted, trying to stop the students, but it was a futile attempt.

The ground shook, and vibrations began to spread throughout Ophelius Hall.

At the corner of the 4th-floor corridor, by the administrative office’s entrance, one man stumbled out.

It was Willain, the representative of the underperforming students from the 3rd year of the magic department.

The various protective magic circles that emanated from his body were so intricate that even skilled mages would struggle to manage them. Usually, it takes several maids with ample mana sensitivity to dive in and adjust these circles at once.

As an emergency protective system for managing the whole Ophelius Hall, no one without explicit administrative authority should have access. The fact that Willain is being overwhelmed by the magic circles is unnatural in itself.

It was a trap set by Ellis and Lortelle, deliberately leaving the activating crystal orb for the management system prominently placed in the center of the administrative office.

“A-aah! Help me!”

Willain staggered under the pressure of the magic circles surrounding him, flailing his arm. Various magic circles etched on the walls and ceiling activated at his distress, shattering a corner of the outer wall.

A loud crash rose as dust clouded, and rain infiltrated the hallway.

“I can’t control it! Save me!”

Willain fell clumsily, triggering more spells with his movements, which blew off the ceiling and ruptured the opposite wall.

These were the building’s self-defensive magic circles, originally designed to defend the noble-status students from external invaders.

However, the current situation resembled a child holding a gun loaded with live ammunition. If not handled with recognition of its dangers, the muzzle could just as easily aim at allies.

“We need to knock out that spellcaster Willain right away! It’s too difficult to deactivate each magic circle one by one in this state!”

Aila might be deficient in actual magical activation skills, but her knowledge about magic itself is exceptional. She quickly grasped the situation.

No sooner had she finished speaking, Taely nodded briefly and leaped forward. He intended to knock out Willain using the flat of his sword.

“Yaaargh!”

But anyone would panic when confronted with such sudden aggression, and even that reaction could trigger new magic circles.

-A boom of power!

From the windows to the pantry door, Taely was sent flying by the ensuing magical ripples. He got up quickly, tucking and rolling, but continuous screams from Willain brought forth new magic spells into the corridor.

Wind bullet, ignition, earth wall summoning, shadow blades, and seismic spells.

Different magic circles activated independently, turning the hallway into a chaotic battlefield, denying anyone access to Willain.

Without a doubt, all the murals on the walls, wooden decoration stands lining the hallway, and even the outer walls and floors, were shattered, broken, and torn apart.

The students confined in their guest rooms were already trembling from the sound of chandeliers falling. Their patience finally reached its limit.

– ‘What on earth is happening outside!’

– ‘Are we really in danger if we stay here?! Shall we break the walls and escape!’

– ‘What are the maids doing!’

-Crash!

A girl from a sequestered 2nd-floor guest room finally gave way and broke through the wall to evacuate.

This was distinctly different from Clevius’s case. Now, the building felt as though it could collapse at any moment. Staying still could mean death.

-Boom!

-Boom! Boom! Boom!

Once two or three people started breaking through the walls, consumed by herd mentality, other students began to escape from their rooms in various ways.

1st-floor students broke windows to flee into the rain, those capable of flying magic or skilled at landing from heights broke out through windows, while others utterly obliterated the outer walls of the hallway, and some even resorted to breaking the floors connecting to the first floor with all their might.

-Boom!

-Crash! Crash! Boom!

The sounds of destruction resonating through Ophelius Hall were unending. In different ways, the students desperately tried to save their lives by escaping outside.

Taely’s party realized things were going awry, yet the rampaging protective magic circles controlled by Willain showed no signs of stopping their destructive tirade.

“Elvira! Do you have any Night Butterfly Flower elixir left?!”

“Don’t be stupid, Taely! The Night Butterfly Flower elixir disrupts the magician’s manipulation of mana; it won’t work on pre-cast magic circles like that!”

Elvira clicked her tongue and crouched down. She then began mixing together agrimonia seeds and the crushed shells of emperor clams.

He sprayed it around. As the magical energy surged at its center, all sorts of basic magic that had sprung from the protective magic circle were temporarily blocked.

Though the range was narrow, offering little practicality, the Agui-grass potion served its purpose quite well in such a narrow corridor.

“Anyway, those protective magic circles are just supplemental! Their quantity is formidable, but their power can be managed! Break through and knock out Willain!”

With these words, Elvira quietly dragged Clevius, who had been hiding behind the wreckage of a cabinet, out by the scruff of his neck.

“Arghhh! Kaaaack! What the— I thought no one would notice!”

“Typical Clevius, always trying to hide at every opportunity!”

While kicking Clevius in the rear, Elvira shouted to Taely.

“If the two of you charge together, you can definitely restrain him! I’ll support you from behind, so suppress Willain before the damage gets worse!”

At her words, Taely nodded and Clevius looked aghast.

*

-Kwaang!

-Paang!

The outer walls of Ophelius Hall had burst open. The fourth-floor boss raid had begun.

Considering that besides Ellis on the fifth floor, the difficulty isn’t exceptionally high, it seems there won’t be much time left until the end of the Ophelius Hall occupation crisis.

“Ed, where are you going! Your wounds will open!”

“It’s nothing! Most of this isn’t even my own blood!”

Yenika hurried after me, running around Ophelius Hall drenched in rain.

Soon enough, we found a large carriage parked by the staff-only passage at the back of Ophelius Hall.

The carriage, ornately trimmed in various gildings, looked expensive and dazzling at a glance. However, when considering who was inside, it couldn’t be more austere.

Usually, when he travels somewhere, he accompanies at least ten carriages. That he has traveled with such a limited entourage indicates a matter of urgency.

It seemed as if it had been standing still at the spot for quite some time, waiting… as if waiting for Ophelius Hall to be partially destroyed.

Then, a woman emerged from the staff exit, neatly dressed in a maid’s uniform, holding an umbrella.

‘Shenny,’ in charge of tableware management

One of the orphans raised by Housekeeper Ellis of Ophelius Hall—originally, according to the normal plot, she should have blocked Taely’s party with her younger sister Kelly on the third floor.

However, unlike in the main scenario, Shenny had left the scene and was now knocking on the door of the carriage.

Something was going awry—an unmistakable sign.

As Shenny stepped back to show respect, a gaunt gentleman emerged from inside the carriage. He was Victor, a long-standing executive of the Elte Commerce Guild.

Victor opened the door, courteously holding an umbrella out for the owner to step out of the carriage.

Then he emerged from the grand carriage entrance.

A slim-fitting white shirt, a dark red belt, and tight leather pants looked simple, but the overcoat, flooded with gilding and bejeweled, boasted the value of an entire ship, and the gem rings on his fingers were each as heavy as a house.

The Golden King of Elte Commerce, Elte Keheln, was not young nor old. His neatly groomed goatee was sharp, and the dignity that loomed about his body seemed to be an extension of himself.

I had an inkling.

This moment is the starting point for all the anomalies to commence.

If my memory serves me, Golden King Elte’s visit to Sylvania Academy is supposed to happen much later, after the occupation of Ophelius Hall has ended during the ‘Sage’s Seal Contention’ event.

Elte, now with his back against the wall within his own guild, attempts a turnabout by purchasing the Sage’s Seal. That’s because Crebin Rothtaylor, the patriarch of the Rothtaylor family, called an exorbitant price for it.

However, Elte is ultimately double-crossed by Lortelle and makes his exit from the life of a merchant.

Yet, here he is now.

I may not know the process, but the outcome remains.

What twisted where and how to become what is now before me lies completely outside my sphere of awareness. It would be presumptuous to try to discern it all at this juncture.

But suffice it to say, what’s to come could be surmised.

The twin maids devoted to Housekeeper Ellis, Shenny and Kelly—with Shenny meeting with Golden King Elte, it means Housekeeper Ellis was in collusion with him.

Yet in the official story, it was clear that Housekeeper Ellis was completely bought out by Lortelle.

She is burdened with the blame for failing to manage the protective magic circles of Ophelius Hall and is punished after decades of service, abandoning all her accumulated career.

She was not one to be swayed merely by money. Ellis held steadfast convictions and values.

That these could be compromised solely by wealth was not deeply explored. The consensus was simply that she must have been offered an overwhelming amount of money.

After all, Lortelle has a tendency to encourage noble beings to bend their beliefs in face of money, searching for kindred spirits—but this scenario blatantly differs from the official one.

“Ed… You’ll catch a cold…! Your body temperature dropped because you’ve lost a lot of blood!”

Yenika, having caught up later, removed the shawl she had around herself within her robe, rushed forward, and promptly covered my head with it.

“Why be so sad! Really!”

“Yenika.”

“Huh, yeah?”

It’s not the time to stay still. Though the full grasp of the situation isn’t clear yet, I have a good idea of what can happen going forward.

“I have a favor to ask. It’s urgent, and I might be overwhelmed on my own.”

While holding her arm over my head, adjusting the shawl, Yenika listened blankly and then tilted her head questioningly.

Her response is predictable. If someone hears such a plea out of the blue, the default is to inquire about the situation first. What is it? Is it urgent? What kind of trouble are you in? Explain the circumstances. Things like that.

If I’m to get Yenika on board, how should I explain it to her? What would be the best way to relay only the core of the situation without elaborate details? As I pondered these things, Yenika swiftly replied.

“Okay. Got it.”

Was that likely consideration just for my urgency, or did she decide my content wasn’t worth fretting over from the start?

“What can I do?”

Her attitude, skipping the interim processes and asking straight for action, made me appreciate having such a good friend.

* [ Letter to Mr. Elte Keheln ]

Greetings, respected Guild Master of Elte Commerce, Golden King Elte Keheln.

My name is Ellis, and I serve as the housekeeper in charge of the Ophelius Hall within the lofty Sylvania Academy.

This letter will self-immolate through the engraved incineration magic circle after being read to ensure your safety from fire hazards.

The reason I have taken up a quill to write to you, who is busy every minute and second, despite having no connections, is to report to you about your adoptive daughter, Lortelle Keheln, who is currently enrolled in Sylvania Academy.

She has been leading the Ophelius Hall partial destruction to create a financial crisis for Sylvania Academy’s scholars, following your orders to acquire the ‘Sage’s Seal.’

The plan progressed smoothly. Soon, with my involvement as the hall’s housekeeper, it’s nearing an almost certain success.

If all goes well, Sylvania Academy’s finances will be cornered, and Elte Commerce will have a significant upper hand in the negotiations for the ‘Sage’s Seal.’

However, due to ‘certain reasons,’ I am now privy to her true intentions.

Mr. Elte, do not trust your adoptive daughter, Lortelle Keheln. She is not your ally.

She knows it was you who orchestrated her birth parents’ deaths. She is aware that you recognized her talent and drove her life into a corner, leaving her no choice but to take your hand.

Unnoticed by you, she has been wooing the six major merchants of Elte Commerce and planning to remove you from the guildmaster position.

The ‘Sage’s Seal’ negotiation is also a bait to lure you into Sylvania Academy so you won’t be able to respond to the anomalies that will take place at Elte Commerce’s headquarters in time.

I have in my possession incriminating letters taken from her room, which she believes were thoroughly burnt in the incinerator. However, burning them is a task for us maids.

She probably didn’t expect that the maids of Ophelius Hall would meticulously collect each shred of the torn letters intended for disposal.

I am prepared to denounce her at any time.

Regardless of how this case unfolds, I will stand trial for my failure to properly manage Ophelius Hall.

If I mention the name Lortelle in court as the mastermind behind everything, I won’t be the only one plunging into hell.

But as always with life, nothing comes for free.

In exchange for my silence on this matter, I have been promised a hefty sum of gold by her.

Only a more massive sum of gold could potentially outweigh that amount.

Beneath this letter, the attached sheet enumerates the names of ‘institutions’ I secretly manage regularly. The amount of gold transferred to these institutions will subsequently determine my actions.

My eyesight is failing, and due to certain reasons, my hearing is almost gone as well—I believe there’s no need to go into details. Nonetheless, this year may likely be my last in performing my duties as a housekeeper.

I am the sole human privy to the entire truth of this matter and have no other options left. Depending on which side I align with, things can become either more complex or simpler.

I plead for your merciful and wise judgment.

– Housekeeper of Ophelius Hall, Ellis.

[ Attached Sheet ]

Serun Region Croox Orphanage Kohelton Orphanage Shelter Ahtens Croxel Orphanage Odell Region Alten Orphanage Temil Region Public Orphanage Shelter

*

“Ed…! You’re injured! If you move too quickly, the wounds will open!”

I’ve come to realize painfully that the variables of the world are too complex and myriad to control entirely.

All we can do is try our best to ensure the big factors are managed without issue.

As I navigate through the rain with Yenika, I arrange my thoughts.

For reasons yet unknown… should Ellis truly betray Lortelle, Lortelle’s downfall will be inevitable.

Lortelle Keheln’s pivotal role in the official plot.

In Act 3, she must confront Princess Phoenia and lead the political battles within the academy; during the Right Mountain search operation, she must rally talents; and in the Lucy Subjugation campaign, she must represent the merchant forces… A character assigned a substantial role.

In Act 4, she firmly becomes an ally to the protagonist’s faction and openly opposes the Rothtaylor family, even evolving into one of the main friendly forces… Her influence on countless minor incidents and episodes is too extensive to list.

Lortelle, on the downfall.

A single sentence that could collapse the entire premise of numerous scenarios.

A scenario without Lortelle Keheln is an unknown world from my perspective. All future knowledge, information superiority, everything tumbles down, leaving no trace.

Could I outright replace Lortelle’s role? While not impossible, it would undoubtedly be a daunting and exhausting endeavor. It’s a cliché, but feeding myself is hard enough—such hardships are categorically declined.

Unless I choose to abandon my academy degree and step outside to a life in an unknown fantasy world headfirst… Lortelle Keheln’s exit is unequivocally unacceptable.

“Yenika, do you know where Zix’s room is? I might need to ask for his help as well.”

“Huh? Um, not really sure… we’re not that close… I don’t really know…”

“…Right, then we’ll have to search for ourselves. He might already have escaped the building.”

I wiped the rain streaming down my face and returned to the entrance of Ophelius Hall. The evacuated students murmured in confusion, not knowing what to do.

The occupation of Ophelius Hall was drawing to a close.

With the protective magic activated, the faculty would arrive within minutes.

Lortelle Keheln, no matter how much she plunges, cannot garner sympathy or understanding. As all-encompassing as her backstory might be, she is indeed a villain.

Justice triumphs over evil, retribution comes to those who deserve it, and the wicked face due judgment.

These are all valid sayings, but I decide to postpone them for another time.

A mastermind to conceal all truths and stand trial is non-negotiable on stage.

No one knows how the scenario will escalate without an antagonist, nor how it will snowball into a world-shattering tempest.

At the rainy entrance of Ophelius Hall,

I brainstormed to my limits,

looking up at the now-destroyed Ophelius Hall with Yenika by my side.

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