The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 46

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Chapter 1: The Battle for the Sage’s Seal

The peace of everyday life has become a distant memory, like the bygone spring and fall. It’s only after the cold season arrives that one realizes how fortunate those previous warm and clear days were.

Truth be told, given the grueling days I’ve faced, those times can hardly be called gentle. Still, the situation has improved significantly since I first started my life of survival. I now have a shack to lay in, a storage full of meat, vegetables, and spices, and a decent pile of firewood. The days of starving and sleeping rough seem to be behind me.

The ripple that disrupted this relatively stable life began with three letters from different senders.

*

I’ve started to catch up with the academic curriculum as well.

Despite not possessing outstanding magical talent, I’ve begun to achieve above-average grades. I’ve particularly started to stand out in theoretical subjects, to the point where even the teaching assistants have started taking note of my name.

Simple memorization and theoretical arrangement can be mastered with enough time and effort. By deducing sleep and using every scrap of time, knowledge can be forcefully crammed into one’s head, making it a matter entirely separate from magical talent.

My physical training has also seen considerable progress.

I am now much stronger than before, to the point where an average adult male would not easily best me—a vast improvement from the feeble and skinny figure I was in spring.

However, my combat skills are still progressing slowly… But I’ve managed to acquire quite a few tools to help me in that area.

[New Masterpiece]

Ceremonial Dagger: An explosive ceremonial dagger that has been enchanted with a fire elemental pattern to allow the casting of explosive magic.

The magic can be activated within a certain range and has been pre-etched for rapid deployment and high magic power efficiency.

Infused Elemental Pattern: Elemental Magic – Explosiveness (lower fire elemental, Muk)

Magic Power Storage Capacity: Medium Sensing Distance: Short Crafting Difficulty: ●●○○○ [Crafting complete. Your crafting proficiency has increased.]

The dagger’s blade is adorned with a pattern that appears ablaze with light.

A sense of pride washed over me as I engraved various patterns onto the dagger that had accompanied me since the start of my survival journey.

[Muk, the low-ranking fire elemental sitting on my shoulder, who is quite selected among Yenika’s elementals, spoke with a clinical precision.

[Master Ed, the elemental pattern has melded smoothly. Equipment that has spent a lot of time with the owner benefits from improved efficiency, and it’s clear that this dagger, which has been with you for such a long time, truly understands you!]

Muk chattered in a clipped voice as if to hammer in the point.

[Master Ed, another step forward! It’s truly a delight and cause for celebration! This unworthy Muk is so filled with joy, I wish to sing a song to express it—a shepherd’s song passed down through oral tradition from the region of Phulanshan… Ack!]

I grabbed Muk’s wing tip hurriedly and set the elemental down on a nearby tree trunk. As I stared at it, Muk wriggled uncomfortably.

[Master Ed, I beg your forgiveness! Punish this unworthy creature as it deserves! The most shameful thing is that I do not know what I’ve done wrong! Please, enlighten me of my mistake so that I can reflect sincerely and show you improved behavior…]

“Hey, drop the formal speech.”

[…Excuse me?]

Muk, after all, was an elemental chosen by Yenika for his exceptional intelligence among the low-ranked elementals.

Its magical sensitivity is so adept that while calling me Master Ed, it swiftly engraved the elemental pattern and proved flexible and agile in behavior, even helping during hunts.

Muk’s value as a personal heater goes without saying, and it even manages to navigate social interactions quite skillfully—clearly all aspects are top-notch.

The one critical flaw, however, is that it is excessively formal.

“Ease up on the formality. It makes me uncomfortable, seriously.”

[But, I cannot do that!]

“Why not?”

Normally the relationship between an elemental and a summoner is not hierarchical but a simple contractual one. Lower elementals treat Yenika with utmost deference because she is an exceptionally powerful summoner.

Elementals, after evolving from ethereal spirits to lower elementals, sign contracts with summoners to receive magical energy and enhance their own status. If given the chance to contract with a capable and sensitive summoner, it is customary for the elemental to feel grateful and humble themselves. Therefore, to consider themselves equals of a summoner like Yenika with immense sensitivity, they would have to be at least upper-elemental level.

Yenika is always surrounded by many elementals not just because she draws them naturally, but because of her innately attractive magical sensitivity for elementals.

Especially for lower elementals, the mere fact of Yenika making a contract with someone like me is reason enough for humility… It’s not surprising that they bow deeply as a result.

But as a summoner just starting my journey, there is no need for such excessive formality. Putting on too much false authority could only introduce potential issues in communication.

“Go on, say it. Ed. Just two syllables.”

[Master Ed, this is improper!]

“If you insist on such formalities, doesn’t it seem abnormal? There’s no need to be this deferential, nor is there anything so impressive about making a contract with me that warrants such a fuss.”

[Well… umm…]

Seemingly hit in a sore spot, Muk faltered, flapping its wings awkwardly.

“Are there any promises you received specifically about this?”

[Well, there is…]

“Let’s lay everything out on the table. We’re going to be seeing each other often, aren’t we?”

Muk shuddered, and then it suddenly began to wail.

[Oh Master Ed, why hide anything! By contracting with you and acknowledging your abilities, I can almost guarantee twofold the refined magical power from Lady Yenika compared to other lower elementals… It was really just to fast-track my own rise in status…!]

“…”

Just as I suspected.

[Yes, it’s true! This overflowing respect and loyalty towards you, Master Ed, does not come from pure admiration but rather from this filthy and lowly creature’s desire for advancement! I am ashamed!]

“Well, it’s good you’ve come clean. Anything else?”

[Furthermore… after inquiring about your reputation around the academy, the common consensus was that you have an authoritarian streak, so it was partly to cater to your preferences…]

“So it seems.”

I lifted the newly enchanted dagger, turning it this way and that, lightly swinging it a couple of times. It felt no different from my usual swings.

A poorly infused elemental pattern can adversely affect the equipment, rendering it either too heavy or light to handle properly. However, the infusion done by Muk was completed cleanly, with no apparent adverse effects.

I casually threw the dagger towards a nearby tree trunk, embedding it firmly.

– Bang!

A small explosion erupted as I injected a tiny amount of magic into the connected elemental pattern. With such a small amount of magic triggering this degree of explosion, a full-powered activation could function as a modest explosive.

When the rising smoke dissipated, the dagger, undamaged by the blast and apparently imbued with flame resistance, was revealed unscathed. A flawless job indeed.

“It’s good you were honest with me. No need to grovel like that.”

In any relationship, true purity probably only lasts until elementary school. As humans mature, interest and personal motives inevitably taint their interactions.

I’ve long since graduated from the naive belief that human relationships should maintain absolute purity. What’s truly important are skills and attitude.

The elemental pattern was cleanly etched.

You’ve looked into my reputation before contracting with me. Depending on how you view it, this might seem opportunistic… But from another perspective, it just shows thorough preparation and courtesy.

You took the time and effort to understand me, to match me… In that sense, it reveals how thoroughgoing you can be.

A bit of materialism can even be a strength if it’s not overdone.

“Fine, then. Speak freely.”

[But, I…]

“I understand, okay? You’re free to use informal speech. You know the situation, don’t you? Isn’t that obvious?”

[Master Ed…!]

Muk, overcome with emotion, burst out with the pent-up feelings it had been holding back.

[The truth is, it’s been difficult! A higher ranked elemental status doesn’t mean much! Those born earlier acting all high-and-mighty…!]

I wanted to say something but held back. I recall hearing that telling new recruits or privates to relax and speak freely actually puts more pressure on them.

There are situations where formality is naturally uncomfortable, and insisting on informality can ironically create discomfort. It’s a complex issue where being uncomfortable can actually feel more comfortable.

Well, he’ll work it out himself. Judging by his adeptness in social situations, he seems to have enough sense to manage well on his own.

I drew the dagger from the tree and slipped it back into its leather sheath, attaching it to my thigh with a strap. Standing up, I could easily reach the dagger at a moment’s notice. Not a bad setup.

[By the way, what will you do with those letters? If you’re not going to check them now, shall I put them away in the shack for you?]

Muk fluttered to the opposite side of the campfire, picked up the three letters and fluttered them in its beak.

One was in a formal, businesslike envelope with no seal, just folded and delivered casually. It had been brought by Anis, one of the academy’s teaching assistants.

Another was bordered in gold with an elegant wax seal, giving off an orderly impression. It had been delivered by a middle-aged clerk from the Elte Trading Company.

The last was on opulent paper with dazzling ink—a truly luxurious item. It had been brought directly by Claire, the captain of Princess Pheonia’s royal guards.

“I need to check them now.”

The content of each letter was different, but, unquestionably, the last one was the most shocking.

*

The Sylvania royal family’s residence may indeed be lavishly sprawling, but compared to the Ophelius Hall, it’s incomparable in size.

And yet, because building costs were almost equivalent, one could only imagine the opulence within without stepping a foot inside.

A man draped in lightly modified armor with a horsehair plume entered the princess’s room.

“I have returned from the northern forest. I have delivered the personal letter as you commanded.”

“You’ve worked hard, Claire.”

Claire, the Guard Captain for the Third Princess Pheonia Elias Clorel, had been dealing with complicated emotions of late. Dedicated solely to Pheonia’s welfare, the recent turn of events had not been to his liking.

When his lady first came to Sylvania to focus on her studies, he’d felt quite grateful.

To outsiders, the life of Princess Pheonia led in the royal palace may have appeared glamorous, but the truth was less enviable.

Since the declaration by Prince Rindon, the sole heir of Emperor Clorel, to renounce his succession to the throne, the tension among the princesses has become suffocating even to those merely observing.

Princess Sela of Frost and Princess Persica of Wisdom have been looking at Princess Phoenia with eyes full of suspicion for some time now. No matter how much she asserts her lack of ambition for the throne, Princess Phoenia’s position, backed by the people’s support, places her within reach of the throne at any moment.

This situation could require a bit of scheming, and there are plenty of influential individuals eager to align with Phoenia. The order of succession could be ‘adjusted’ in any number of ways.

Of course, it’s unlikely Phoenia would engage in such tactics, but that doesn’t free her from suspicion.

Enrolling in Sylvania was a brilliant move to validate Princess Phoenia’s sincerity.

Departing from the royal court at such a crucial time to pursue education signals a genuine disinterest in the throne, especially since it entails spending at least four years at the school.

What is Sylvania? Above all, it’s a land of academic virtue.

She had hoped to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the distant Clorel royal court and spend a few years creating memories and broadening her horizons… but things don’t always go as planned.

“…You look troubled, Princess. Forgive my forwardness, but are you worried about something?”

“…Well.”

Princess Phoenia sighed deeply, tying her platinum hair up and sinking into a luxurious sofa.

She admitted it to herself.

Her decision to flee the Clorel royal court was not just to pursue education… it was also an escape.

Always entangled in intrigue, needing to assert authority, and prove her worth as a ruler or face being cast aside – she ran from a fate that demanded constant struggle.

After a lifetime of such existence, a few years of respite seemed reasonable, expecting the tiresome succession disputes to resolve themselves in her absence.

Yet, here in distant Sylvania, the same patterns emerge. People can’t escape their nature, whether by intention or not.

“It seems… I am destined to live a life embroiled in conflict.”

“Princess.”

“There’s no need for comfort, Claire.”

The words shared by Headmaster Obel last night linger in her ears.

Sylvania Academy’s finances are in dire straits. Immediate funding is essential to cover various payment deadlines this quarter.

Despite reaching out to Princess Phoenia, there was nothing she could do right away.

While Phoenia’s influence could potentially draw some funds, there’s no guarantee they would arrive in time for the deadlines, and more fundamentally, there’s no justification for such action.

The royal family does provide substantial support, but ultimately, Sylvania Academy is a private educational institution founded by the great sage Sylvania. Justifying additional royal funding requires a valid reason.

As a mere third princess, she cannot manipulate the royal treasury, especially now when she is physically distant from the royal court.

She had no choice but to indirectly decline Obel’s request. Sympathy alone couldn’t address the financial dilemmas of an institution as large as Sylvania.

The issue should have ended there.

“The plan to sell the Sage’s Seals will have to be realized, it seems.”

“Yes. Of course, there will be significant pushback from the students and faculty… So rather than a direct sale, it will likely be in the form of collateral or a mortgage.”

“That’s quite cunning. Leaving possession intact while initially acquiring ownership, planning to collect the items gradually. Classic Elte Trading Company.”

The concepts of possession and ownership are distinctly different.

News of the Sage’s Seals, the heart of Sylvania, being sold for money would incite massive backlash, so for now, they acknowledge possession – the act of holding the items.

Over time, as interest wanes, they’ll concoct any justification to move the seals displayed in Triss Hall to a warehouse temporarily. Researching the seals would be a suitable pretext.

Those seals are unlikely to be displayed again.

“Princess Phoenia, you still look troubled.”

“Thank you for your concern, Claire. I’m fine; please go rest.”

Phoenia massaged her temples, relaxing her shoulders.

She had lived a life amidst intrigue. The documents brought by Obel and the unfolding situation reek of unseen dark schemes.

Her intuition points to Lortelle Keheln, the young de facto leader of Elte Trading Company.

The girl with auburn hair tied low and a fox-like smile, wandering among gold coins, never reveals her true intentions.

Phoenia’s insight into the girl’s nature reveals a scammer who deceives and exploits as naturally as breathing.

Even as the summoning ceremony of Glascan envelops the sky and the academy’s buildings crumble, her serene, softly smiling figure remains etched in Phoenia’s mind – a calm beyond human.

The plan to purchase the Sage’s Seals seems to dance on her palm.

She admitted it frankly.

She’s scared. Truly frightened.

In Phoenia’s eyes, Lortelle is a demon clad in gold. Capable, perhaps, of deceiving even the gods.

Surely, she will ascend to the top of Elte Trading Company. It’s hard to imagine someone like Lortelle acting under someone else’s orders.

Could there be someone capable of controlling such a girl… in this world?

“Perhaps, there’s no need to be adversaries just yet…”

Princess Phoenia trailed off, sinking deeper into the sofa.

After all, the negotiations surrounding the Sage’s Seals are strictly an internal matter. It’s not necessarily Princess Phoenia’s place to intervene.

Nevertheless, she couldn’t help but pull out a quill and start writing a letter.

Another force has entered the fray.

She couldn’t just sit by regarding the actions of this ‘third party’.

Ed! Ed!

It felt distant, like hearing sounds from outside while submerged underwater. I thought someone might have called me, but I didn’t have the leisure to pay attention at the moment.

The reason my head was so cluttered was because of the letters I had received.

The first and second letters were manageable.

They didn’t contain anything particularly significant; just information to be aware of.

However, by the time I got to the third letter, I had to read it with full attention.

I couldn’t afford to be caught off guard by the turn of events in the political landscape.

It was obvious. The story had become quite tangled compared to the beginning, but all that was needed was to keep an eye on the situation and steer it in a somewhat similar direction.

If Taely could resolve everything on their own, then there would be no need for me to intervene.

In this second act, mastering the second technique of the Sword Saint and enhancing my magic resistance should suffice.

Yet, complacency was forbidden. The flow of the story had already deviated significantly.

Evidence of that deviation lay in my hands.

“Ed.”

If we were to look for the cause of this anomaly, it would be Elte’s premature downfall.

Golden King Elte was originally destined to be overthrown by Lortelle in the event of the Sage’s Seal contest.

However, due to some unforeseen reasons, that course was altered, leading to an earlier downfall during the Ophelius Hall siege.

What changes could this bring about?

Elte’s intention to purchase the Sage’s Seal was based on the potential to sell it at a higher price.

Meaning, there was someone who had requested Elte to procure the Sage’s Seal.

The name of that person… regretfully, is all too familiar to me.

The reason why the princess sent me a personal letter was instantly clear. In a way, I am an insider. She must have thought she could probe some useful information from me regarding that person’s moves.

“Ed!”

I snapped back to reality.

Yenika was in front of me, looking almost tearful, having apparently been shaking my shoulder.

“Ah.”

“Snap out of it! What’s going on with you!”

“Sorry, Yenika. I was deep in thought about something, lost in my own world.”

Yenika, who had arrived at some point, sighed in relief and placed a mug on my shoulder. Then, realizing how close our faces were, she stepped back with a start.

“Don’t push yourself too hard! It’s good to be diligent, but… health is most important!”

With her hands on her hips, Yenika scolded me, to which I nodded, bowing my head again.

As I had mentioned once, the person who commissioned Elte Keheln to purchase the Sage’s Seal is── Crebin Rothtaylor, the head of the Rothtaylor family.

For Crebin, who studies the magic of eternal life, the Sage’s Seal, which deals with Holy Magic, holds enough research value.

However, if Elte has fallen from power… the client himself must step in.

“Ed, your expression is really not good right now.”

Yenika said, looking worried. And rightfully so.

The personal letter from the princess contained a request to inquire about the head of the Rothtaylor family, whom I was once associated with, insisting I visit the royal quarters. It also hinted at suspicions regarding Crebin’s actions.

Originally, the negotiation for the Sage’s Seal was supposed to be a tug-of-war between the academy and the trading company.

Now, it has turned into a three-way conflict involving the academy, the trading company, and the Rothtaylor family.

Crebin Rothtaylor is a boss character who doesn’t appear until Act 4 of “The Failed Sword Saint of Sylvania.”

Exposed and ruined by Princess Phoenia, who wields both academic and royal power, in the latter part of the story, his difficulty level needs no explanation.

At this point, subduing him seems virtually impossible.

Fortunately, his goal is solely the Sage’s Seal. If he gets the seal, he’ll likely back off.

But what happens after he obtains the seal is… unknown. It’s uncharted territory.

It’s not just a matter of having an informational advantage. It’s about whether it’s even possible to clear this scenario.

From the standpoint of the official story, the confrontation between Princess Phoenia and Crebin Rothtaylor is a scenario that shouldn’t be tackled yet.

Crebin Rothtaylor. If he indeed intends to get involved in this seal negotiation, he must be kept at bay by any means necessary.

He shouldn’t be stepping onto the stage of the story yet. A character meant for the latter half should remain reserved for that part of the narrative.

“Sorry, Yenika. I didn’t mean to worry you.”

I managed a smile and threw a few more logs into the fire.

Bowing my head quietly, I began to organize my thoughts.

Yenika, sitting opposite the campfire with her knees hugged, suddenly changed her expression to a stubborn one and stared at me quietly.

“I won’t move until you tell me what you’re worrying about, Ed.”

Her insistence was so uncharacteristic that I almost laughed.

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