The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 49

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Battle for the Sage’s Seal (4) >

It seemed faster to look for a spot without fancy decorations.

Under the cloak with an embossed image of an eagle taking flight, there was a jacket lined with gold trim, and beneath a shirt ruffled significantly with frills, were reddish-brown cotton trousers. Every nook and cranny of his outfit was festooned with all sorts of jewels.

The lavish jewels and ornamental pieces often symbolize an individual’s vanity.

The most direct way to display abundant wealth and elevated honor is to make one’s appearance extravagantly luxurious.

Yet, intriguingly, even clad in such resplendent garb, Crebin Rothtaylor managed to look both dignified and sharp-witted.

His jawline was sharper than expected for his age, and his gaze was piercing. His movements were precise without any excess, yet somehow, he also exuded a soft dignity from his demeanor—certainly an enigmatic figure.

One could immediately sense that he was not an ordinary individual.

As the head of the Rothtaylor family and one of the key figures in the current Clorel Empire, Crebin Rothtaylor possessed an aura that could intimidate others merely by his presence.

“It’s regrettable that Headmaster Obel couldn’t join us in person, given his deteriorating health. I do worry for him and hope for his swift recovery.”

“Thank you. I shall make sure to pass your regards to the principal.”

With a dignified air, Crebin took a spoonful of soup and expressed his condolences to Vice Principal Rachel, who was present as the principal’s delegate.

Despite Crebin’s presence, the fact that the leader did not show up in person was a major breach of protocol. The reason he ended the conversation with only an expression of regret was that someone present, of higher status than Crebin, had remained silent throughout.

“It’s relieving to see that you’re in good health. His Majesty has been quite concerned about the princess being abroad for her studies.”

“Thank you, Crebin. Please tell the Emperor that I’m adapting well and studying hard.”

“As you wish. And, although it’s been some time, I’ve yet to formally apologize… I heard it was distressing for you because of a foolish incident involving a certain immature member of our family. The expulsion procedure was carried out long ago as per your instructions, but I’m still troubled that I’ve yet to offer a proper apology for that impropriety.”

“It’s alright, Crebin. Don’t weigh too heavily on it.”

Princess Phoenia, with a somewhat rigid expression, declined Crebin’s apology.

Meanwhile, Lortelle, sitting at the luncheon without uttering a word, simply observed everything.

There was no sign that Crebin was bothered by Lortelle’s silence.

A Vice Principal from Sylvania, a princess from a country, a head of a ducal house—this was a gathering of nobility so lofty that their mere names would make anyone genuflect.

For Lortelle, born in a slum and of low status, sitting at this table was nearly an insult to their nobility—naturally, it made sense that he would not speak hastily.

Though the title of being the ultimate authority in the Elte Trading Company was by no means light, it was not an official title.

Elte’s fall from grace was almost certain, with the next head likely to side with Lortelle… the weight of power that Lortelle would hold was not something even they could easily dismiss.

However, this was ‘still’ purely internal affairs of the company, officially unannounced, so it was expected that Lortelle be treated this way.

Thus, Lortelle merely sat smiling graciously, his eyes as sharp as the knife he held, observing Crebin.

This was the man born of the same lineage as Ed Rothtaylor.

Noble, dignified, benevolent, and wise—the head who had made a name for himself.

Was his reputation well-deserved? The behaviors of the retainers accompanying Crebin seemed to be filled with sincere respect.

Each of their actions in attendance radiated respect for Crebin.

“You must be… the representative from the Elte Trading Company.”

“I am Lortelle Keheln. I am deeply honored to sit in your esteemed company, despite my unworthy stature.”

“The only daughter of Gold King Elte Keheln. I am well aware of his insight and pioneering spirit.”

Crebin offered a polite compliment, to which Lortelle gracefully received it as an honor with a business-like smile.

They both knew of the troubles Elte faced within the company ranks, yet neither let their smiles fade.

“I didn’t expect you were eyeing the Sage’s Seal. Perhaps merchants with good sense indeed flock to fine goods.”

Lortelle responded with a modest smile to Crebin’s teasing remark.

“We’re attracted to anywhere that smells of money. If there’s good profit to be made from merchandise, we go where we must.”

After the lunch was over, the actual Sage’s Seal was brought into Triss Hall’s central meeting room.

Experts in magical literature from both the Elte Trading Company and the Rothtaylor Household took some time to verify that the letter was genuine.

Additionally, there was time to report on the condition of the letter, the amount of magic it contained, and the status of potential resonators, before the conversation moved to the main point.

“I won’t go into too much detail about the situation.”

The current circumstance, needing to sell the Sage’s Seal, was a great misfortune for Sylvania.

They didn’t wish to make a big issue out of it, nor could they sell it at a mere pittance to those lacking purchasing power.

“We want to avoid negotiations dragging on unnecessarily and spreading rumors. As I mentioned in the report last night, if you could write down the sum you wish to offer… we’ll decide based on the highest bid proposed.”

Scrolls of parchment were delivered to Lortelle and Crebin, seated some distance apart at the negotiation table.

The parchment they carefully unfolded was heavily enchanted for preservation.

Ink imbued with magic was used to prevent any tampering with the written figures.

Crebin stroked his chin thoughtfully, seemingly deep in contemplation.

Lortelle also closed his eyes, deep in thought.

The Sage’s Seal was unique in the world, yet there had been many similar transactions of such magnitude in the history of commerce.

Lortelle, well-versed in those historical transactions, had that knowledge at hand as readily as the multiplication table. It was natural for him to recite it effortlessly.

‘The Order’s Grimoire’, a book infused with several dozen enchantments by the legendary alchemist Cal, sold for 8,100 Flen gold coins.

‘The Book of Tropism’, the only one of its kind in the world analyzing biological cloning magic, housed in the royal library, auctioned for 6,730 Flen gold coins.

The exploration records penned by the great mage Gluckt as he journeyed across the unknown southern continents, fetched 7,020 Flen gold coins in the end.

They had to judge the imputed magic value, academic material for research, and sheer luxury value collectively.

The core matter was thus how much profit could be made.

Watching the two quietly examining their parchments, Princess Phoenia, serving as an official notary, modestly averted her gaze.

“The bids have been received. We appreciate both parties’ valuable proposals.”

The academy staff politely acknowledged the submissions, and shortly after, Vice Principal Rachel reviewed the offered sum from both parchments.

The result was the opposite of what Princess Phoenia had anticipated.

Bidder – Crebin Rothtaylor (Representative of the Rothtaylor Household)

Offered sum: 8,900 Flen gold coins.

Bidder – Lortelle Keheln (Representative of the Elte Trading Company)

Offered sum: 9,400 Flen gold coins.

*

“Just call out any high number and get the Sage’s Seal. There’s absolutely no loss in simply acquiring it.”

“Is that so? But aren’t you unsure of that?”

Sitting side by side at a campfire, Zix passed the soup back to me.

After two days, my body seemed to be regaining some vitality. As the knotted magic was untangled, my body rapidly improved.

“Elte Trading Company isn’t digging up land for business. If they can’t sell it for more than the purchase price, they’ll suffer a loss, yet Lortelle unexpectedly agreed so smoothly to your proposal, sir.”

“The Rothtaylor family will purchase it back anyway, no matter how high we go. So, there’s no chance of running a deficit.”

“Does the Rothtaylor family value the Sealed Letter so much that they would buy it back regardless of the price?”

I nodded to Zix, albeit it was a lie.

I have no idea how much the Rothtaylor family is willing to spend on the Sage’s Seal.

If Lortelle truly purchased the letter at an exorbitant price, the Rothtaylor family might even give up on it.

After all, the Sealed Letter related to sacred magic is only a supplementary research material for the eternal life magic Crebin is researching. Without it, the study could still proceed.

Lortelle, an outsider, couldn’t possibly know these details. Yet, he took the bait on my instigation for two reasons.

One, Lortelle was harboring a personal interest in me.

And two, he took a gamble on the unique position I held as a former member of the Rothtaylor family, thinking that I might be privy to internal affairs and, therefore, trusting my judgment as worth an investment.

It may seem utterly devious; making Lortelle waste astronomical sums of money to remove Crebin from the competition for the Sage’s Seal.

Most of the money would be recoverable upon the sale of the letter, so the loss wouldn’t be as significant as it seems… Regardless, it was still a substantial amount.

However, to Lortelle’s advantage, it mattered little how much was bid.

Because he was unlikely ever to have to pay that sum.

Ultimately, the Sage’s Seal will be stolen by Professor Glast before the sale goes through. The transaction will never conclude.

My only concern was to somehow exclude Crebin from the ongoing narrative.

-Rustle

Suddenly, there was a rustling from a corner of the bushes. As Zix and I turned to look, a familiar-faced girl strode into the camp, panting as if she had rushed over.

“Huff, Senior Yenika. You’ve already come all the way from the faculty quarters, and it’s not even lunchtime yet?”

“Yep! Showed up to all my morning classes! Nothing left to attend, no assignments ’til tonight!”

“Still, you should have had lunch before coming over…”

“I’m not hungry!”

Yenika brushed off her clothes with a bright smile, then took a few brisk steps towards the campfire, tugging at her tangled pink locks.

“Ed! You look much better now!”

“Oh, Yenika. Sorry to cause you concern. I got the details from Zix. Sounds like I’ve been a bother…”

“No? No, not at all!”

Yenika waved her hands emphatically, shaking her head and checking my complexion.

“I didn’t worry a bit! No need to feel sorry for making me worry! Really! Not at all! Didn’t even give it a second thought!”

“But, Senior Yenika, you were running around the academy crying, and rumors even spread like you were heartbroken… And last time at the academy meeting…”

“Ah!! Aaahhhhhh! Such interesting stories you have, Zix! But, oh my, it’s cold today!! Gotta be careful!! Don’t want to catch a cold!!!”

Already short of breath from running through the forest, she was clearly embarrassed by my apology.

Truly, a girl with a warm heart—she might have been worried, but she didn’t want to show it.

Sorry, I’m not inclined to listen to apologies.

Yenika swayed back and forth, her gaze darting here and there, before taking a few deep breaths and sitting down opposite me. Suddenly, a bat made of fire leaped out from behind her.

“Please kill me! Lord Ed! Please end my life! This poor Muk had no idea that you were going through such trouble!”

“What? Muk. Were you there?”

“I would have leapt out to apologize immediately, but I was worried that my impulsiveness might adversely affect Lord Ed’s mana, so I’ve been sustained by Miss Yenika’s power!”

Yenika nodded repeatedly and turned her gaze to me.

Muk flew over and landed on my knee, tearfully performing a bow of apology.

“Why the fuss?”

“If you saw your state when you fainted, Senior Ed, such a commotion would seem trivial.”

Zix’s words turned my face ashen. It must have been quite a sight, like that of a corpse.

“Well… it’s natural to be like that after being unconscious for ten days…”

Ten days.

“Wait… ten days?!”

I swiftly rose to my feet. Although not fully energized, I checked the cave where I had stored meat for preservation. The smoked meats were putrid, the stench attacking my nose.

“Oh…ugh!”

Frowning, I quickly covered my nose.

Smoked meats could be kept without issue for about five days; they were meant to be consumed incrementally to maintain supplies. But since I had been unconscious for all ten days, everything had spoiled.

On going to the riverbank, I found the fishing net used for trapping had been neglected and torn. The fish we had bred were all gone, having sought their freedom.

“I’ve lost all my sustenance.”

I let out a deep sigh and sat back down at the fireplace. Well, I only have myself to blame for not taking proper care of my body.

I suppose I have no choice but to use the money I saved for immediate food expenses. Not a significant loss, but it’s a painful mistake when thinking long-term.

Considering what’s needed to survive the winter, the list of pending tasks is long, and with this setback, my concerns only grow.

“You’re planning to overdo it again, Ed.”

As if reading my mind, Yenika quickly interjected.

“Don’t worry, Ed. I’ll help you.”

“I’ve got some free time until the next test. I can help you with simple hunting or carpentry, Senior Ed.”

Zix brandished his tool as if it were nothing and spoke.

“Work just needs to be done as it comes, right? Somehow things always get done.”

His carefree smile suggested he knew the ropes of living by whatever means necessary.

Indeed, things tend to work out when you just handle them as they arise.

Sitting by the fireplace, I looked up to see Yenika and Zix deep in thought, wondering what to tackle first. It reminded me of last spring.

Penniless in the forest, I had huddled beneath a hastily made wooden shelter, embracing myself in sleep.

It hadn’t been that long ago that I was alone in the dark, getting eaten by bugs in my sleep.

Right. There’s been sluggish progress, but I’ve survived and resolved more than not.

Although the lineage has been disrupted somewhat, major events have been dealt with promptly – no need for sheer lamentation.

Survival tasks can slowly be reclaimed with their help, and the story’s flow… Assuming Crebin loses the auction bid, there won’t be much trouble.

Still, I mustn’t be complacent.

*

The bidding for the Sage’s seal at Elte Merchant Company ended.

Crebin Rothtaylor appeared flustered at first but then smoothed his expression and looked warmly at Lortelle.

Lortelle returned the look with a smile.

Transactions of this scale for such books were rare.

Naturally, the Rothtaylor family had an idea of the market value.

The highest historical transaction for a magical tome topped off at about 8000 gold.

Thus, if the essence of Elte’s bidding was ‘profit-making’, they wouldn’t quote a price much higher than that.

Considering this, Crebin placed his bid with a buffer over the record-high price, at 8900 gold.

And Lortelle, reading into this, went slightly higher, undercutting Crebin.

Crebin was doomed to lose from the start if the main aim was profit-making.

‘Not profit-oriented…?’

Princess Phoenia stiffened as she sat among the audience.

Merchants usually operate based on profit. The price Lortelle quoted, 9400 gold, is unfeasible when considering break-even mathematics.

Thinking historically about the prices of magical tomes, it’s almost impossible to resell at a higher price.

Lortelle isn’t the type to bury money in such a faint chance.

If not for profit, then there must be some other intent.

However, Phoenia’s eyes screamed. Lortelle’s foundation is apparent greed for gold.

If profit wasn’t the motive, then what could that fox-like girl be aiming for?

The seal’s magical power can’t easily be utilized without a proper conduit, and without a full understanding of sovereign magic, even a conduit would find it meaningless.

Neither magical use, scholarly value, nor financial profit is attainable with the seal.

If Lortelle aggressively bids for the seal despite all, what could be the reason?

Without those values, what changes with the seal purchase?

“Hmm….”

Crebin’s expression was uncharacteristic.

With an embarrassed face, he politely greeted everyone and left the conference room. He didn’t seem to be in the best of moods.

Only then did Phoenia feel as if her head was struck by lightning.

If we assume there’s a motive behind the meaningless purchase of the seal, it must be to counter Crebin Rothtaylor.

It’s the aspect of utmost concern to Princess Phoenia.

– ‘Princess Phoenia, I really wanted to tell you that the rumors of Senior Ed siding with the Rothtaylor family were unfounded.’

The words Lortelle spoke in defense of Ed stung Phoenia’s heart.

If there was someone who fought against the Rothtaylor darkness, having been cast out and thrown into the wild, biting through hardships to survive, then the one who pushed that person into the abyss was none other than Phoenia Elias Clowell herself.

*

———————————-

Sales Transaction Agreement Purchaser: Lortelle Keheln (Representing Elte Merchant Company)

Seller: Obel Forcius (Representing Sylvania)

Transaction Amount: 9400 Florins Flen

Transfer Date: Seven days following the signing of this certificate.

Contents of the agreement below.

.

.

.

————————————

Lortelle rolled up the sales certificate and tucked it away, a broad smile on her face.

Ed’s message indicated that regardless of the lofty price, the Rothtaylor family would ultimately buy back the seal. Trusting his words, she quoted even higher prices.

Half of it was trust in Ed, an insider to the Rothtaylor family.

The other half? With Lortelle’s acumen, even if things didn’t go as Ed indicated, she could resell it for no less than 8500 gold.

A 900-gold loss would hurt, but if one considered it a ticket to freely use Ed’s expertise, wasn’t it a small price to pay?

“Anything… absolutely anything…”

For once, Lortelle let loose, placing various hair ornaments amidst her locks.

Gone was the enigmatic fox-like countenance seen at the negotiation table; now she adjusted a blue rose-shaped headband in front of the mirror.

“…Anything? Really?”

Overcome with embarrassment, her cheeks flushed.

Before the negotiation table sat a woman with the cold visage of a devil, but when it came to the tug of war between man and woman, she was nothing but an innocent girl, ignorant of it all.

This dichotomy even bewildered her as she tried on the newly acquired head adornment.

The sight was enough to make the princess bleed with envy.

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