The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 38

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Siege of Ophelius Hall (8)

There is always a corresponding reason for goodwill or trust.

The reason why Slog, one of the six major merchants of Elte Trading Company, joined forces with Lortelle is that he is in a position to aim for the next head of the company.

The reason why Seaton, the head of Melveric Trading Company, joined Lortelle’s plan with a smile is that he believes the internal discord of Elte Trading Company will bring a new wind to the power structure of the commercial city of Olduck.

The reason why Sharo, the receptionist of Elte Trading Company, is clinging to Lortelle is that she expects Lortelle might unwittingly drop valuable information.

The reason why Kadan, a worker of the company, becomes especially hearty in front of Lortelle is that Lortelle often hands out tips.

The reason why Tini, the pet bird raised by the academy, sticks to Lortelle, is because the feed Lortelle provides is of the highest quality.

Just like tags, reasons accompany every act of kindness. At least in Lortelle’s world, that is the case.

Usually, if you can discern those reasons well, you can fully comprehend the intent or psychology of the other person.

There is no family tied by blood, no lovers pledged in love, no comrades who have spent a long time together. It is impossible for someone to show kindness to Lortelle without a reason; paradoxically, that allows him to maintain a cynical attitude towards all human relationships.

“There’s no time to explain in detail. Anyway, Ellis betrayed you, didn’t she?”

Despite knowing, he trusted Ellis. What a foolish and idiotic mistake he made.

His life’s attitude, which had never fully trusted anyone, now seemed meaningless.

The person who comes to mind is Yenika Faelover.

Raised abundantly with affection and love, she is a princess from a fairy tale book that confronts the world only with kindness and love. Seeing the passionate look she gives to Ed Rothtaylor… one must concede that it is indeed the pure love of a beautiful girl untarnished by the harshness of the world.

Having seen such, he should not have forgotten his own gloomy and worn face.

Swept up in the romantic scenery of the Sylvania Academy, he should not have deluded himself that he could become such a romantic and lovely being.

“I saw Shenny trying to make contact with Elte. Shenny was a maid loyal to Ellis, wasn’t she?”

Ed Rothtaylor speaks as he rushes ahead in the first-floor corridor.

“Nevertheless, both Ellis and Elte won’t report your whereabouts to the academy. Elte the Gold himself wouldn’t want this incident to be revealed as having a connection with Elte Trading Company.”

There were five people Lortelle had bribed for this siege of Ophelius Hall.

Housekeeper Ellis, twin maids Shenny and Kelly, student representative of the inferior students Willain, and Ed, the fallen noble.

Ellis, Shenny, and Kelly had turned to Elte’s side.

Willain would have also joined Elte, not Lortelle.

And Ed should have been swayed by Elte.

Suddenly, his steps halt. Ed, who had been sprinting ahead, turned around with a puzzled look and soon furrowed his brows.

We don’t have time for this, what are you doing?

Finally, Lortelle gathers his composure and with a fox-like smile and says words that even he doesn’t understand why he’s uttering.

“I’m sorry, Senior Ed. As you can see, due to the unstable situation, I cannot guarantee if I can give you the promised 20 gold coins right now.”

As if the betrayal of Ellis matters, ever since being hit in the back, there’s a sticky feeling in his chest.

Lortelle must admit, he’s in a state of enervation.

Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to make such a stupid move.

For some unknown reason, Ed Rothtaylor didn’t join Elte but stayed on Lortelle’s side.

Then the best course of action would be to read and see through his intentions to use him for his benefit.

But in a foolish way, he spills such a confession.

What the hell is this idiotic action? It’s like admitting to your allies that there is no reason for them to be on your side.

“Who’s asking? I’m busy as hell and you’re just standing there blankly.”

However, Ed dismisses Lortelle’s words without a trace of hesitation.

“You, if you get caught by Elte right now, it’ll be the end of your life. Shouldn’t you be thinking of the future or whatever and just run away?”

Ed, standing across the hallway and scolding, looks like he is covered in blood.

He must have been in that state due to holding the first floor of Ophelius Hall as Lortelle had asked.

Still, he doesn’t even complain about his hardships. He could have grumbled a word or two about the effort he’s gone through.

“Or do you have another pointed plan?”

“…”

“If you have one, let’s do as you say.”

Ed speaks as if he will readily join Lortelle’s decision, with no signs of doubt.

Really, this man gives the impression that he will certainly offer a hand according to Lortelle’s opinions.

As repeatedly said, there is always an appropriate reason that accompanies goodwill and trust.

However, there is no such reason for this man’s goodwill and trust.

No matter how logically and rationally considered, this man should have fallen for Elte’s persuasion. If asked a hundred people, all hundred would have done so.

If the reason is not visible, it should not be trusted. He’s not fully understood the other party yet, and sharing one’s inner thoughts recklessly could lead to an unknown fate.

Wasn’t it just before that he ended up in this state by trusting Ellis? He can’t repeat the same mistake.

But his mouth starts to move on its own. His inner voice shouts to stop, but unable to hold back the hand grasping for the last straw due to his battered emotions, he starts to spill everything about Elte Trading Company’s internal matters and the full story of the power struggles within the company.

“…There was a plan for price manipulation at the company headquarters. Presumably, it was planned by my father.”

“Explain.”

“Since the big eradication campaign against the monster tribes in the eastern mountains last summer, the price of armor and weapons plummeted. We bought up all the surplus and monopolized it, then repeated internal trading to…”

“Insider trading, huh? Just summarize.”

Ed briskly cuts off the explanation.

When the seat is empty for the purpose of expediting work processing, the elder among the six merchants under the command inherits the right to sign off on decisions. Slog, one of Elte’s six major merchants, had joined Lortelle’s plan after being promised the position of the next leader—an old fox in the game.

If Slog nonchalantly stamps the approval seal on the pawnshop sales contract as if it were just another day… the responsibility would tragically fall upon Elte. Even if an outraged Elte seeks to punish Slog, with the grounds for his downfall already set, it would be his defeat.

In fact, all these plans should have unfolded during the ‘Sage’s Seal Scramble’ event. Despite Elte’s screams invoking the name of Lortelle in fury, the event concludes with the last sight being Lortelle, hidden in a corner of a shaky carriage, faintly smiling beneath his robe.

What follows is Act 2’s conclusion where Professor Glast, who had stolen the envelope to his secret laboratory, is to be chased and annihilated. Truthfully, this is the main event and it’s much bigger in scale.

“If you go to my room, there’s a transmitter. It’s a direct line to my internal forces within the company headquarters.”

“Just send the transmitter out and hide until the sales plan from headquarters is carried out, then it’ll be your victory.”

“However, father must be expecting this to some extent. By capturing me tonight, he intends to force out confessions of the plan and the internal traitor.”

One cannot afford to leave his post carelessly. Knowing the risks, Elte rushed to Sylvania anyway because he couldn’t discern between loyalist and traitor within his confidants.

He must have departed with the minimum contingent to avoid notice, yet even so, news would quickly reach the ears of the company.

Bets were placed by both sides. This chase will determine the final fate of father and daughter.

“Go out the back door and circle around to enter your room through the window.”

“That’s what I intended to say.”

“Good, we’re on the same page.”

Indeed, we’re on the same page. The exchange of ideas is smooth, as if lubricated.

Quick to understand, proactive in coordination, strong in crises, and undistracted by emotions.

Watching Ed rush down the hall after grabbing his wrist, Lortelle swallowed hard.

The back door of the Ophelius Residence is visible. Not as grand as the front, but the intricate patterns and images, nonetheless, speak to the building’s dignity.

“Listen, Lortelle, nothing good comes from being spotted right now. You need to hide well without being seen.”

“I have a villa purchased separately in the Minae region. If I can just get out there by carriage…”

“If I were Elte, I’d have people waiting at both bridges leading out of Acken Island. You’d definitely be trailed.”

Ed’s prediction was spot on.

The coachman driving Lortelle’s carriage was trustworthy, but the carriage itself was somewhat flashy.

If they went across the bridge so openly, they were bound to be followed.

“Tell the coachman waiting at the living quarters to just send out an empty carriage off the island. Then instruct him to abandon the carriage at an appropriate place and flee. They’ll mistakenly think you escaped Acken Island.”

“And me…?”

“I have an unfinished hut in the northern forest. Just hold out there for a mere three days.”

It’s too close to be considered. The forest right next to Sylvania would not be so easily suspected as a hiding place.

“I’ll send the transmitter from your room. A simple message like ‘sell it right now’ will suffice, and the main office will handle the rest.”

“…Yes, that’s right.”

Observing Ed’s movements and his efficiency in task handling, it’s almost as if he’s a lifelong business partner with no waste in action.

Even knowing that such a romantic relationship isn’t feasible, Lortelle’s battered heart whispers once again in his ear.

Perhaps, this time it could really work.

As often said, obsession is not an emotion that arises aiming for a flower on a distant cliff.

It blooms from a precarious deficit, seemingly reachable but just out of touch…

“…”

Ed, about to open the back door, instead peeks through the crack and quietly shuts it.

“Listen, Lortelle. Someone’s guarding the back entrance.”

With a low voice, Ed quickly explained the situation.

“You can’t afford to be caught in your movements. I’ll go out to handle it and head towards your room. Meanwhile, if you notice an opening, flee towards the living quarters. Got it?”

Lortelle nods with difficulty, but Ed, seemingly dissatisfied, narrows his eyes and presses Lortelle for affirmation.

“Are you paying attention properly? Uncharacteristically, you seem out of your mind?”

“Yes, yes… I understood you well.”

Ed grabs Lortelle’s shoulders and pulls, pushing him against the wall beside them. Lortelle jolts with surprise but realizes he’s been pushed into a hidden spot from outside view.

“Just make it to the northern forest and you should be free from pursuit. The rest is up to you.”

With these words, Ed turns to open the back door.

“Mr. Ed.”

In a reflex, Lortelle called out to him, realizing his own panic.

“Why… why are you going to such lengths to help me?”

With every act of kindness comes reason. Discerning it usually reveals the person’s psychology or principles of action.

Yet he persists in making a rookie’s mistake of bluntly probing into motives, which no beginner trader would dare do.

Logically, it makes no sense. By all standards, Ed Rothtaylor should have aligned with Elte.

Whether financial gain, chances of success, or influence—by all current indications, Lortelle is at a disadvantage.

Even if considering a moral dichotomy, Lortelle could never be seen as the ‘good’; at best, he’s malicious.

Yet despite this, Ed stands with Lortelle.

To Lortelle’s query, Ed furrows his brow as if deliberating an answer then…

“Just because? Felt like it had to be done?”

With such a nonchalant tone, Ed pushes open the back door and exits.

The sound of rain and the door swings open, and the Ophelius Residence is filled with the noise of battle likely stemming from the fight between the head maid, Ellis, and Taely’s party upstairs.

The commotion suggests the Residence is in its final throes of battle, while Lortelle intuits Taely’s party will win. Even the Residence’s head maid couldn’t last against Taely’s sword techniques.

Pinned against the wall, Lortelle remains motionless for a long while.

Ed Rothtaylor’s true motives remain enigmatic. Despite the certainty of underlying reasons for trust and favor, his reasons were invisible.

Lacking financial motivation, ideological disposition, or erratic emotion-driven actions, what then could be the other reason?

A sudden thought of Elte’s interrogation sends a shiver down Lortelle’s spine. But upon further reflection, such a romantic inclination is out of the question. Indeed, Ed Rothtaylor isn’t the type to be swayed by emotion.

After all, isn’t Yenika Faelover always attached to him?

However, the dissonance Lortelle feels stems from the possibility that their relationship may not be romantic. Yenika’s passionate gaze towards Ed should be easy to discern at a glance. Yet… that affections seem to be one-way.

Seated in the corner of the corridor, Lortelle ponders in what seems a permanent state.

For what it’s worth, “Just wanted to help you” is a phrase that makes one’s heart race with breathlessness.

An odd feeling arises, not from the sensation of the building shaking, which it isn’t, despite the ferocity of battle noises reverberating throughout.

Shouldn’t there be vibrations, debris flying around with this noise level?

Yet the peaceful sight of rain outside the window enlightens Lortelle to the true source of his dissonance.

The sounds were not of battle, they were the beats of Lortelle’s own heart.

As the rain in Ophelius Residence lightens, anticipation builds that it might cease soon.

At the top floor, Taely’s final showdown with Head Maid Ellis is expected.

On the first floor, Zix and Yenika must demonstrate their prowess against Elte.

Apart from the glaring battles, a maid stands in the dim shower, soaked by the rain.

She had been stationed at the back door for some time, silently prepared to catch any fugitives for her master, Ellis.

The drenched maid uniform clings to her, and lavender hair spills out untamed.

As she turns slowly to face me, it’s Shenny, one of the twin maids and a boss on the third floor, who should have blocked Taely’s path.

She simply lifts her gaze to meet mine.

“I didn’t expect Mr. Ed to emerge from there, this is quite unexpected.”

After guiding Elte, Shenny had immediately blocked the back door to prevent Lortelle’s escape.

Holding her usual cold expression, she draws her rapier.

Regrettably, I’m well acquainted with Shenny’s stats and pattern. Only when paired with her sister, Kelly, can she unlock her full potential. Separated, she can hardly demonstrate more than half that strength.

Is this the last gatekeeper?

I face Shenny in the rain.

Soon, this arduous siege would reach its end.

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