The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 4

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Preparations for School Opening, 7 Days Before (2)

The Rothtaylor family, into which I had been born, was like a group of villains straight out of a picture. Intoxicated by their ancient name, they ingrained vanity and a sense of chosen superiority into their descendants from one generation to another. The spirit of the venerable ancestors who knew what honor and generosity meant was long gone; only a sense of privilege lingered like a specter, with the family members holding key imperial positions and acting arrogantly.

In truth, there is a grand secret to the Rothtaylor family.

The head of the household, Crebin Rothtaylor, made a contract with the evil deity Mebuler from the mythical era and has been researching the magic of eternal life. This resulted in a myriad of inhumane experiments, with countless lives sacrificed for the sake of research.

This entire plan is inconspicuously exposed by Taely, the protagonist of ‘Sylvania’s Failed Swordsman,’ about two years later. Despite struggling to the end, Crebin is subdued.

As for the Rothtaylor family, what happens to them doesn’t even need asking. They’re described as arrogant and pompous to a fault, engaging in wasteful extravagance in front of others.

They face a truly desperate downfall, meant to bring satisfactory closure for players. Those who actively conspired with Crebin Rothtaylor’s schemes are executed without exception, and anyone even slightly involved is imprisoned or punished in one way or another.

In that light, reconsidering my current situation seems necessary. Although now I’m hungry, cold, and uncertain about my immediate future, maybe it wasn’t so bad to sever ties with the Rothtaylor family early on.

In short, it’s rather a good thing.

*

“Are you saying you’re grateful to me? That is hard to believe.”

I rose abruptly from where I sat. Truth be told, surviving in the wild for three days had left me a sight for sore eyes, and no doubt that was why the princess was so shocked.

Just a few days ago, that same brat, strutting around arrogantly while pretending to be nobility, now looked like this—while it was a delightful comeuppance, it also aroused pity.

I thought about pushing this point, but the Princess Phoenia was not one to allow personal feelings to affect her official judgment. An appeal to emotion would more likely backfire than not.

What would be the best outcome?

Whether I continue at this school or not, it would be best if Princess Phoenia, and indeed all the other students of Sylvania Academy, paid me no mind. Raising a fuss now could potentially publicize the fact that Ed Rothtaylor has yet to be expelled, which would only harm me.

I’m in a precarious position, with the school board potentially able to expel me anytime. It’s better to stay inconspicuous until my situation gets to a point where the school could hesitate to expel me.

Thus, there is nothing to gain from being disliked by Princess Phoenia.

“The handling of my matter is up to your judgment, Princess Phoenia. I will follow suit,” I replied, trying to sound indifferent.

Showing desperation by clinging and begging would only backfire. The more a person seems cornered and desperate, the easier it is for others to look down upon them.

Princess Phoenia of ‘Sylvania’s Failed Swordsman,’ famous as the ‘Benevolent Princess,’ has a pair of special ‘eyes’—the ability to see through a person’s pretense and caliber.

From her young days reigning as a royal, she grew up piercing through the flattery and deceit, the insincere compliments, and sinister sophistry of countless people.

Behind her seemingly boundless benevolence hides the monarch’s gaze, which judges the nature of humanity at a glance.

I turned to look at the crackling fire, the burning logs breaking apart as they reached the end of their life.

I could easily stoke the flames anew with a fire-starting spell, but my magical training was not yet complete, and I was reluctant to expend magic power unnecessarily.

I passed by Princess Phoenia and sat down by the fireplace, using a poker to stir the fire, gathering the scattered logs back into the center.

“Have you been here for three days straight?”

“It’s quite bearable once you get used to surviving like this.”

My policy was clear.

The most definite way to avoid attention is to not give attention.

An attitude of ‘I don’t care what you do to me.’ If I maintain this stance, they will likely ignore me in return.

Even though the fact that she is the Third Princess reigning over Imperial courts is an enormously unsettling factor, it’s a strategy with more chance of success than getting on my knees, crying and begging, especially when compared to those actions.

Just leave me be.

But that alone is not enough by 2 percent.

After all, the princess’s intention was to report me into academic judgment to have me expelled. I must compromise on that matter.

“Royalty, by nature, is so noble that even a short walk causes a cortege of dozens of servants to attach themselves, and a half-day outing goes hand in hand with a fully armed escort,” I’ve heard.

Bribes and flattery. Although necessary, there is a problem.

I have nothing to offer for a bribe, and flat-out flattery would make me look cheap and reduce me to contempt in an instant. So I have no choice but to use a compromise.

“Yet for such a noble figure as Princess Phoenia to journey alone into the dangerous northern forests of Acken Island, especially at this hour when the sun is setting. Surely, there must be a pressing reason for it.”

Even when walking through the school grounds, the Princess Phoenia is always accompanied by servants catering to her every need.

Of course, that doesn’t mean she has no escort even now. They’re likely keeping watch over me from hidden spots, ready to strike should I make any false moves.

“And? If you think I’m alone and vulnerable to your revenge, you’re quite mistaken.”

Knowing this, she could defiantly make such remarks.

I smiled softly.

“Professor Glast’s magic department class assignments are already infamous among us second-years for their cruelty. Each year, he tortures students in new and original ways. You’re also undertaking that class assignment, I see.”

While striking the fire with a poker without looking at the princess, I continued speaking calmly.

“If you visit the lake to the southeast of the forest, you’ll find a little rock island in the middle. It’s only large enough for a single pine tree to grow, which is known as ‘Merilda’s Guardian Tree.’ If you take a look around the knot hole of that tree, you might find something worthwhile.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You will have to search the whole forest anyway, so it might not be a bad idea to stop by.”

Princess Phoenia seemed to glare at me for a long time, as if with a piercing gaze. Although her stare was uncomfortable, I did my best to ignore it.

“What’s on your mind? Are you still harboring thoughts of revenge?”

“As I said before, I simply wish to continue attending Sylvania.”

The sound of crackling rose with the sparks. I had barely managed to revive the fire.

“So this is… what you might call, a bribe I’m offering you, Princess.”

Finally, I flung the poker into the fire.

“If you refuse… there’s nothing I can do about it.”

With that, Princess Phoenia glared at me for a while longer, then scoffed at the absurdity of the idea and left.

Well, anyway, the princess’s actions are now out of my hands.

*

– “Let go of me! Do you know who I am? I’m Ed Rothtaylor, the second son of the Rothtaylor family! Get your dirty hands off me, you pigs! How dare you touch me?”

– “Taely? Hah… A low-born failure like you, you’re nothing but a mouthy pig.”

– “Wh-what? Princess? The benevolent Princess Phoenia? I-I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you!”

– “Princess! You’ll taint your noble and exalted name by standing up for a pig like Taely. Please, punish him accordingly!”

– “This is all wrong! It’s a trap! A trap, I tell you! That pig Taely is jealous of me—it’s his scheme! Filthy creature! Filthy pig!”

‘Is this the same person?’

Princess Phoenia strolled through the forest, recalling the scene she had witnessed during the entrance examination.

The image of the vain noble trying to cheat and expel the failing student Taely came to her mind.

She didn’t even need her special ‘insight’ to see how repugnant and pathetic he was. Anyone could tell he was a haughty and unsightly man.

He was a sycophant in the face of power and cruel towards the weak. Even when he first concealed his identity, he had dared to disrespect Princess Phoenia herself.

He couldn’t be left to remain in Sylvania. That’s why Princess Phoenia took action herself.

Even though she was a student, the school could not simply dismiss her opinions. Such was the influence of royalty.

The fact that he’d been publicly shamed and ousted from the family for his crimes had already been three days past.

‘He seems a lot calmer than before.’

In fact, three days’ time might be enough for self-reflection and to change a person. Reality was, she had no time to be preoccupied with such thoughts.

The pressing matter at hand was the class assignment test.

The infamous Professor Glast’s test of searching for magic orbs throughout the Northern forest.

The test was to return to the faculty building after finding magic orbs scattered throughout the forest. Started after lunch, the test was still ongoing as the day was nearly at an end.

Out of 310 freshmen in the magic department, almost 290 had already found their orbs and returned to the faculty building.

A majority of the students were able to find their orbs within an hour of the test starting.

There were only a few students left in the Northern forest by the time the sun was setting.

Truth be told, Princess Phoenia would have easily found a magic orb long ago. Anyone with the ability to detect basic magic levels could have found them.

Leaves, piles of dirt, small wooden benches — magic orbs could be found just about anywhere.

But something felt off.

There were more orbs than there were students. Not just more, several times over.

Even as the first test after enrollment, it was too easy — too kind for the notorious Professor Glast’s exam.

Surely there was a hidden intention. She couldn’t shake the feeling from her mind.

Most students had hurried back to the faculty building, assuming it was first-come-first-served.

Even those who doubted it would come to that ended up returning without much gain as the evening approached. There were quite a few who came back holding magic orbs in their arms as if more is better by quantity.

The moon was already high in the sky.

Yet, Princess Phoenia hadn’t returned to the faculty building.

The persistent thought that there must be a hidden motive to this test kept her from retreating.

Walking and walking, she found herself at the lake.

The rocky island mentioned by Ed Rothtaylor was visible.

A lone pine tree in the middle of the lake was bathing in the moonlight, creating a mystical atmosphere called ‘Merilda’s Guardian Tree’ by Ed Rothtaylor.

“Hmm…”

Princess Phoenia pondered for a moment, chin in hand, then concentrated her magic power on her toes and performed ‘Water-Walking.’

A spell that allowed her to walk on the surface of the water for a short period by expending a significant amount of magic power. While very inefficient in terms of magical energy and difficult to maintain for long, making it impractical in battle, it served the advantage of crossing the water without getting wet.

Moving carefully, Princess Phoenia reached the islet and noticed something embedded near the tree’s knot.

Could it be a trap set by a spiteful Ed Rothtaylor?

If he dared plot against the Benevolent Princess, he would not come out unscathed, which he probably knew very well.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be cautious. The princess carefully approached the old tree.

“A magic orb…? But it’s a different color…”

A golden orb shone embedded in the tree, emitting a soft glow.

Princess Phoenia tilted her head.

“It’s a peculiar design… It has a gentle golden shimmer but… nothing else…”

She tried detecting magic, but the amount of magic in it was minuscule. It was nearly impossible to notice that it contained magic at all.

“Is this thing valuable?”

She wondered if it would be worth something if sold. But to the princess, the worth of things held little significance.

“Anyway… it appears to be something meaningful…”

The princess swept her platinum hair up to keep it from brushing against the dirt, then crouched low.

Sitting down, she studied the orb embedded in the tree, considering whether to just take it.

“I can’t do that.”

This orb was only found because Ed Rothtaylor had directed her to its location.

It wasn’t discovered through her own merit. Thus, taking the orb would be against her pride.

Princess Phoenia decided to leave the lake.

Passing the test through deceitful means would be shameful; she understood this all too well.

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