The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 54

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Glast Subjugation (3)

Aila, who had gone to meet Professor Glast, did not return.

Sitting in a corner of the schoolyard, stuffing a sandwich down her throat, Taely suddenly cocked her head.

Though the lessons on Magical Creature Ecology were light and almost akin to liberal arts, Aila, who was well-versed in such knowledge, wouldn’t have any real problems with exams even if she missed classes.

But it was strange that she didn’t show up at all, not even at the Elemental Studies or Combat Magic Practice, where she often kept out of sight.

Aila had a particularly low proficiency in combat-related skills. It was unlike the diligent girl to skip classes, especially those covering her weak points.

“…Did she go back to the dorm?”

Her long, slender hands held a sword sheath adorned with many exquisite gems.

Engraved with magic patterns, the sword was accompanied by jewels imbued with mana that bolstered those very patterns.

Furthermore, the various accessories she wore were also inscribed with a multitude of additional effects, and she had learned quite a few useful auxiliary skills, ensuring she was no longer teased as a below-average student.

Although there was a long way to go, she had completed a year of meaningful training.

Taely picked up her sheath and twisted her body around. The more her swordsmanship opened up, the better her physical condition became, allowing her to increase lesson time without any strain on her body.

“Did something urgent come up?”

Murmuring to herself, Taely followed her own path.

The next day was the appointment for the Sage’s Sealing Sensitivity Ceremony.

It would only be a matter of time before the rumor that two students had been abducted by Professor Glast reached Taely’s ears.

*

Without warning, my eyes snapped open.

It was like waking up from a deep sleep, sudden and without any precursor.

A slight daze had me disoriented for a moment, but I soon snapped out of it, recalling the events before I lost consciousness and stubbornly clinging to my sanity.

“Yikes!”

As I quickly regained my senses and propped myself up, a strange moan reached my ears.

The first thing I saw was a ceiling made of stone. And when I lowered my gaze to look around, I was surrounded by the same glossy walls.

On one side of the space were iron bars. A girl was crouched in one corner of this prison cell, a place you’d envision when someone mentioned solitary confinement.

“No, don’t come any closer!”

The girl, huddled in the corner of the prison wall, shouted at me with a quivering voice. Although she seemed to be wrapping herself for defense out of fear, her trembling state only emphasized her defenselessness.

In fact, if I really were a criminal with evil intentions, there couldn’t be a more perfect prey.

Well, being scared isn’t a crime… but it’s hardly a wise response.

“Aila Triss…. Right?”

Holding back the headache that began to surface, I rubbed my face with my palm. Standing up, I took another look around and also checked what was visible beyond the bars.

I thought I understood why Aila was shaking with fear.

Across from our cell, in another room beyond the bars… a monster was imprisoned.

Its lower body was that of a lion or tiger, but its upper body resembled that of a muscular ogre from the demon tribe. Feathered arms and a half-broken demonic wing protruded from its back, and a blue pus oozed from where an ear had been severed… Its waist and back were littered with various arms of different races, like bundles of appendages.

Though currently asleep and not showcasing any aggression, its mere appearance was enough to make any onlooker gulp.

It was the ‘Demon of the Underground Waterways’ from Chapter 2, Act 7, now collected by Professor Glast’s research team for the study of magical creatures.

I had been attacked out of nowhere when responding to the professor’s call to his lab, losing consciousness, only to awake to this beast slumbering across my cell.

And in the same room lay a fallen noble, no different from an enemy… Aila’s panicked response was not incomprehensible.

“Have you come to?”

Across the bars, a man who appeared to be a warden entered my line of sight.

“I apologize for the lack of hospitality. Especially considering you are a valuable student.”

Lines wrinkled his face. He wore a mask, probably to hide burn scars from elemental studies. But the scars peeking out around the mask confirmed his identity.

His bent posture, short stature, and thinning hair were marks of time and stress, rendering him a decrepit old man… However, he was among the most versatile of those who either collaborated with or followed Professor Glast.

The scholar of Celestial Studies, Krum.

A tricky adversary from the final boss phase in Professor Glast’s lab. He could self-destruct from his own celestial magic if you just dodged and stalled for time. After which, the demon would escape and provide Glast with an opportunity to flee.

“Whatever Professor Glast is planning, I know not, but he’s instructed to manage you thoroughly as you’re considered an indispensable asset.”

“Is that so?”

“You’re calmer than expected.”

I had anticipated being in Professor Glast’s secret lab before losing consciousness. There was no need for disarray; all this was part of the course.

“Aila was instantly screaming for release upon regaining consciousness, but you seem quicker to catch on.”

Apparently, Aila had begun crying out for help as soon as she came to.

When I glanced at her, she trembled and resumed her futile defensive posture. I had no intention of harming her.

“Indeed, Professor Glast must have his reasons.”

Responding thus, both Aila and the scholar Krum tilted their heads.

No matter how much trust one had in the academic achievements and abilities of Professor Glast, it was abnormal to speak in favor of someone who had subdued and kidnapped you without a word.

I wasn’t particularly trusting of Glast; it seemed pointless to have faith in someone fated to downfall at the end of the story.

“Anyway, I’ll be meticulously monitoring the research data at the end of this corridor, so don’t get any funny ideas.”

With that, Krum walked away.

I peeked down the corridor and recognized its structure from my gameplay experience.

Crossing it would probably lead to the Monster Tribe research lab. One of the central locations of Glast’s secret studies.

Having gained entrance to this secluded place without any risk was a significant shortcut.

Now, there was nothing left for me to do. I merely needed to wait.

In time, Taely, fuming over Aila’s kidnapping, would storm in with the subjugation team and wreak havoc in the lab, and I could slip away during the commotion towards the Soul Library.

To reach these labs, Taely would’ve had to pass through the Soul Library, fighting the librarian in the process. By the time she arrived here, the library would be in shambles.

Thus, with no spellbound books or shelves to hinder my way and no librarian to scold me for wandering the library, I could scoop up as many replicas of magical books and formulas for magical engineering as possible, completing my mission.

The only thing left for me to do? There was nothing.

…It was almost guilt-inducing, how sweet the deal was.

“Yikes… Eek…”

Being stuck in the same room with a constantly trembling Aila was somewhat mentally exhausting…

How unfortunate it was for Professor Glast to have made such a decision. To kidnap Aila, of all people.

That girl was like a protagonist-favored time bomb in this world. He should have been ready for the disaster that could erupt at any moment in his lab.

Though, it’s pitiable since the professor surely wouldn’t know such circumstances.

“If you take even one step closer, I’ll scream. I’ll bite my tongue. Don’t come any closer. I mean it! You think it’s just a bluff?! If I resist with all my might, you won’t walk away unscathed either! Don’t move!”

I wasn’t moving. I hadn’t uttered a word. Whether she bit her tongue or not was none of my concern. I was just blankly staring into space, sorting out my thoughts, while Aila blurted out a string of defensive words out of sheer anxiety.

When I glared at her, she summoned a pitiful amount of magical power to form a crude defensive spell.

Her mastery in elementary magic was unparalleled amongst her peers. Such a feeble barrier would shatter easily against a casually summoned blade of wind, but there she was, quivering while trying to maintain the strongest defense possible.

It would be pointless to tell her now that I harbored no ill will against her.

If asked, I was actually quite well-disposed towards Aila.

I had played ‘Sylvania’s Failed Swordsaint’ numerous times. I had seen her steadfastness and sincere heart always siding with the protagonist through every route and scenario, more than dozens of times.

If anything, I admired her, why would I oppose her?

Given the situation, it couldn’t be helped that Aila was so withdrawn, but perhaps it wasn’t a bad idea to share at least the necessary words.

“I won’t bite. No need for an overreaction.”

I decided to keep it brief and stick to the facts.

“I have no grievance with you.”

“What… did you say…?”

Sitting slumped in a corner and looking up at the ceiling, I exhaled deeply.

My seemingly indifferent behavior didn’t alleviate Aila’s guard. She continued to watch me, swallowing hard, and eventually, though still showing unease, she lowered her arms.

As the flow of mana through her arms ceased, the supported defensive spell began to fade. Given the level of Aila’s mana, maintaining such a barrier was futile from the start.

“It’s a lie.”

“If I wanted to harm you, I would not miss such a perfect opportunity. Isn’t that so?”

We were in a place where no one could intervene. Aila was unable to resist. The disparity in power was significant.

Aila would’ve known this too, which was likely why she was trembling with fear.

“Cut the crap, and don’t needlessly expend your energy. Just sit still.”

With that, I spoke with conviction to Aila.

“Wait, and Taely will surely come to save you.”

“Taely? Do you have the right… to speak of him…?”

“What right am I lacking? I may have been rude during the entrance exams, but I had my reasons then, so let’s call it even. I also helped quite a bit during the Glascan incident..”

“You’re sorry…?”

Confusion filled her eyes, and Aila looked down before fixing her gaze back on me.

“Did you say sorry? Apologized? Now you of all people… Did Ed Rothtaylor apologize?”

“Do I hear doubt just for going minorly out of my way here? Jeez.”

Considering what Ed was like before I took over this body, her reaction wasn’t entirely unjustified, but nearly a year had passed since then.

It’s about time for you to accept things. Whether Ed had turned over a new leaf, got excommunicated and lost his mind, or was actually like this all along… Think whatever you want… Just come to terms with the fact that I won’t antagonize you like before.

If the main scenario hasn’t changed, I couldn’t care less what you all do, whether you poke a utility pole or not.

“Even if I can’t earn your trust, Taely is trustworthy, isn’t he?”

“That… that is true…”

“Then wait for him. He’ll come to rescue you, no matter what. He’ll find out about your kidnapping and figure out where this secret lab is. If necessary, he’ll break in and take you out. So calm down a bit and trust Taely.”

When I mentioned Taely’s name, Aila’s expression softened somewhat. However, her defensive stance did not waver. Crouching in the corner, she looked like a puppy in front of a wild beast, and I felt more sympathetic than angry.

“I trust Taely.”

“Good, that’s nice to hear.”

“But, I wish he wouldn’t come to rescue me.”

What was she talking about?

Aila buried her face in her knees and continued.

“To Taely, I’m just a burden. He’s already faced countless trials in his life, and now he has to venture through this place full of monsters to save me because I was kidnapped… I’d rather…”

“Aila Triss. You’ve observed Taely for a long time too, so you know that kid grows stronger with every trial.”

Taely McLore, the protagonist of ‘Sylvania’s Failed Swordsaint.’

A boy whose life is filled with trials, but it is those very trials that make him stronger.

While I wouldn’t wish for such a life… it isn’t my story to tell.

“Take this as another trial for his growth and leave it to him. Got it?”

“That’s not something the one being helped should say.”

“Of course, you should be grateful. But don’t pre-emptively give up and make a fuss. Just stubbornly trust him. He will come to save you. You get it?”

After this exchange, Aila seemed a bit more relaxed. It would be nice if she’d calm down further, wouldn’t it?

“Ed Rothtaylor, I didn’t expect you to say such things…”

“Me?”

“You’ve insulted and belittled Taely before.”

“Hmm… That’s true…”

The Ed I knew was truly the scum of humanity.

“Just some stuff happened before. Don’t pry too much.”

If you don’t want to explain or can’t, just muddle through. There’s no need to reveal anything significant about myself, nor do I want to be deeply involved.

Just please, be quiet and wait patiently for Taely. Don’t waste your energy needlessly.

Without wishing to speak further, I simply sat down and clammed up.

Up until this kidnapping, I checked whatever I could. So far…

“Wake up, Taely! It’s an enemy!”

Elvira, who first finished assessing the situation, starts collecting all the vials. She’s putting them one by one into the torn alchemy bag, but the rows of rain, like a storm, make it difficult as they obscure her vision.

“You know, I wasn’t really… that curious about what you guys were doing.”

What Yenika wanted to ask wasn’t complicated.

Did you guys do that to Ed?

She didn’t ask directly like that.

Whatever was happening in Ophelius Hall or whatever Taely’s group thought when they entered Ophelius Hall was no longer Yenika’s concern.

“Yenika!”

In the midst of the storm, a boy’s voice finally reaches her.

He can hardly keep himself upright, but the boy squeezes out Yenika’s name with all his might.

Seeing the boy battered and bruised, Yenika feels a deep ache in her heart. Not wanting to push him further, she quietly says to Ed,

“Wait a minute, Ed.”

A full minute, to be generous.

That should be enough to sort things out.

She can imagine the aftermath of smashing Ophelius Hall, injuring the juniors, and the repercussions of breaking the school rules. Nevertheless, it’s ultimately her past self that accelerates Yenika’s actions.

The desire to live up to expectations, not wanting to cause harm to others, and trying hard for the sake of close ones only to fall flat is definitely a reflection of herself.

Ed, struggling alone to the point of being covered in blood and collapsing, is a reflection from the opposite mirror.

This sight stirs the dragon in Yenika Faelover.

She knows all too well how tragic and sad it is, and therefore, she can’t leave Ed Rothtaylor behind.

A burning eagle, a lion swirling in the form of wind, a giant made of water, and a horse made of mud rise for their master. Each one is an intermediate elemental that would require at least a few people to subdue.

Taely’s group steadies themselves, sweating coldly.

“We need to escape, Taely.”

Elvira accurately pinpoints the situation.

Why Yenika is so enraged is unknown, but challenging the renowned second-year magic department’s top student is a suicide mission.

Even Lortelle, among the first-year Class A members known for the most delicate manipulation of magic, couldn’t make a sound in front of this monstrous summoner.

“Let’s face it. We can’t break through here.”

An unexpected presence. Ed Rothtaylor, the fallen noble guarding the first floor of Ophelius Hall.

Despite the overwhelming difference in power, it took a long time to subdue him, and now a second-year top student appears, scattering intermediate elementals. It’s madness to throw oneself into this crazy situation for a few expensive herbs.

“But…”

However, Taely can’t shake off his uneasy feeling.

The situation in Ophelius Hall seems more than just an occupation. There seems to be a greater darkness lurking behind, a shadowy presence.

From Taely’s perspective, it might all seem like someone else’s problem, but if actual students are getting hurt, it’s a different story.

Taely’s sense of justice is innate, and his posture of not succumbing to trials is a quality he’ll carry to the grave.

It’s a clear fact, Taely is destined to live the life of a protagonist.

Yenika Faelover, a formidable wall he has already faced. Can the overwhelming power difference truly be overcome with tenacity?

But that uncertainty isn’t so important to Taely.

Taely always acts according to what he believes is right, having lived through seemingly impossible trials with sheer stubbornness.

However, Taely’s recklessness has been seen as correct because this world has acknowledged him as the protagonist.

As long as the flow of the scenario, “Sylvania’s Failing Sword Saint,” continues without breaking, trials will be overcome, and Taely will grow from them… repeating.

But Yenika, the enemy they face again, exists outside the ‘scenario.’

Against an opponent that jumps out from beyond the narrative flow, can Taely’s protagonist qualities prevail? Can he overcome even this overwhelming power difference with his resilience to trials?

Everyone knows that real-world trials are not as forgiving as dramatic game scenarios.

If the power difference is overwhelming, defeat is the logical outcome. Overcoming trials with sudden awakenings of power, divine intervention, or coincidences… those are usually stories within scenarios.

“Taely! Snap out of it! Face reality! Since all the windows are already broken, let’s go that way…”

“Then, go when you’re told to go…!”

The one who interrupts Elvira, standing up, is Ed Rothtaylor.

“Yenika! That’s enough, calm down!”

The sight of Yenika, fury reaching the tip of her head, is like a disaster in itself.

Her fluttering robe and pink hair are completely soaked, making her look like a ghostly maiden who has crawled out of a swamp.

If things had gone according to plan, Taely’s group would have been sent upstairs, and Yenika would have sat with them in the rose arbor,

As I gestured for her to be quiet, Aila once again reacted overly sensitively, gasping and crouching down.

I wonder how low my image has fallen in her eyes…?

There’s no time to dwell on such thoughts, and I approached the corner of the room again, reaching out my arm.

[ Yes, it really was there! The key holder! I brought it with me! ]

Merg had carefully materialized while I was distracting the guard’s attention and managed to take a bunch of keys from the key holder located in the corner.

Having a thorough understanding of the main devices and key elements within Glast’s secret laboratory allowed me to give Merg proper instructions. I had entered this prison multiple times before.

In this instance, my foundational knowledge about proved to be quite useful.

I took the bunch of keys and began to carefully insert them into the lock, making sure the sound wouldn’t reach Kum.

Soon, one of the keys clicked into place, and the door creaked open.

I peeked out to see Kum at the end of the hallway, apparently so engrossed in his research materials that he didn’t hear the door open.

“Alright, let’s escape, Merg. Once Kum is deeply focused on his research materials, he won’t move unless disturbed like earlier.”

[ Indeed! As expected of Master Ed! Such quick situational judgment! I’m not sure how you knew the location of the keys, but from the perspective of this unworthy Merg, your appropriate commands and decisiveness… ]

Anticipating another round of his smooth praises, I quickly unsummoned Merg. He’ll likely follow me around for a while anyway. We’ll discuss his unsolicited actions later.

Stepping through the opened door, I suddenly noticed Aila trembling in the cell, seemingly confused.

A human who was previously doing nothing suddenly starts conversing with a spirit, causing a commotion, and then, within minutes, secures the keys and escapes.

And now, she’s faced with the open prison door. The person who opened it, the very Ed Rothtaylor she considered an enemy, must be confusing for her.

Creak

I then closed the prison door behind me.

“You…”

“Listen carefully, Aila Triss.”

I spoke directly to Aila inside the cell.

“Stay here.”

There was no reason to take Aila with me. She needs to remain here, according to the script, and be rescued by Taely.

For the scenario flow leading to the top of the magic tower to remain intact until the end, Aila needs to continue being a hostage.

But leaving her alone locked up felt too cruel… Since it was uncertain what extreme actions a frightened Aila might take when left alone, I had to at least reassure her.

“Outside this lab, there are all kinds of monstrous specimens, researchers of sanctity studies, enchanted magical tools, and golems either roaming or standing guard. It’s dangerous to move alone, and if we’re caught moving together, you’ll be in danger too. Understand?”

“That… That’s…”

“Being taken hostage means obedience is your priority. Don’t do anything foolish and get hurt. If Kum notices I’m gone while on guard… rat me out that I’ve escaped. That way, at least you’ll be thought to have stayed quietly in the cell… and you won’t be harmed.”

I locked the door and secured the key again.

“And you can’t run anyway, can you? Your legs are too weak.”

Aila, having been caught trembling, startled and curled up.

“I’ll take responsibility and come back with a rescue team or bring Taely, so just sit tight here and breathe. Got it? You should understand without explanation that this cell in the secret lab is the safest place. Trying to escape is like walking a tightrope with your life on the line. Understand?”

“But… Ed, you…”

“Please, don’t answer back with unnecessary words. Just answer yes or no. Did you get that? That’s how I asked.”

Pressing her like this, Aila eventually nodded her head reluctantly after trembling. Now she’s being a bit more submissive.

“Good. Keep quiet and stay put. I’ll take care of everything.”

Saying that, I crouched down and hid myself behind a decorative cabinet in the hallway.

At the end of the hallway, Kum was reviewing his research materials. It seemed I would have to match my timing with his next patrol to move towards the exit beside his desk.

Though it may seem like I’m gambling with my life, I’ve now found a reason that compels me to act.

Yes, frankly, I was somewhat expecting changes in the scenario flow.

Considering the various episodes I’ve been entangled in, I couldn’t think that everything would go smoothly without any incidents or troubles.

I was somewhat relieved by the situation flowing relatively smoothly so far. However, inevitably, new complications arise. Minor variables can be managed somehow. My abilities have improved significantly, and with my knowledge of the future, most issues can be resolved one way or another. Convincing Yenika or Lortelle to join? I could meet and talk with them to solve the issue.

However, there are variables that are absolutely beyond my control. I took a deep breath. Sylvania’s Failure Swordsman, Act 2’s final battle: The Glast Subjugation. Within that scenario flow, once you enter, there’s a bad ending route from which escape is impossible, no matter what.

“And the fact that the little witch in a hat, who frequents the camp, intends to join…”

Lucy Mayrill, the top student of the first year and the final boss of Act 3, a prodigious genius. Her joining is not good news. It’s not the bosses that could easily be swept away by her immense power that are the problem. Variables not in the main scenario that suddenly twist the plot can be patched up by me running around doing damage control. Even existing ‘bad ending’ scenarios, for the most part, can be resolved by me somehow. But, there are indeed a few bad ending routes that are difficult to solve from my end.

Bad Ending 27: “The Indolent Lucy.” The condition for this route is any interaction between Professor Glast and Lucy Mayrill after the incident. Lucy, persuaded by a desperate Glast to turn against her allies, leads to this route… Once entered, a bad ending follows after the event battle with Lucy. Lucy, completely swayed by Glast’s heartfelt plea to become an enemy, is not meant to be defeated in Act 2. There was no known solution for defeating her at this point in the story, even after hundreds of hours of speculation by hardcore gamers and dedicated fans. Preventing any encounter between Professor Glast and Lucy Mayrill was crucial by any means.

“Merg senses it, near the underground waterway. The academic staff’s reaction is lukewarm and unsatisfactory… I’ll have to go myself. Will you help me, Lucy? I feel really safe with you around.”

One might wonder if help is truly needed. Yenika Faelover is strong enough, and Lucy is infinitely lazy. Yet, Yenika Faelover’s words carry a peculiar force. Her lively and vibrant tone also holds a strange seriousness, enough to sway even Lucy, who previously had no interest in worldly affairs. Lately, she had been feeling rather empty.

“Yawn.”

Lying on the makeshift rooftop of her hut, stretching like a chirping chick, Lucy hugs her witch hat and shakes her head to clear her sleepiness, then lazily watches the campfire.

For days, the fire hasn’t been lit at the campfire site. Although it seems trivial, Lucy had enjoyed the crackling sounds while napping. She liked the bitter taste of the jerky that wafted through the air, and although it was bothersome, she found comfort in being picked up from the ground while deeply sighing and thrown onto a fur bed.

Rolling her petite frame, Lucy gazes at the starry sky for a moment, reminiscing about an old man with wrinkled fingers she once knew. The sky is vast, and the full moon is clear. The girl gazing up at the moon, kicking her feet, becomes a part of the landscape. Then, a dreamy voice blends into the night air like paint.

“I miss you.”

What’s lost is lost.

Despite knowing this, the loneliness that occasionally wells up is something not even the strongest can completely shake off. The person is already gone. The time to be heartbroken about this acknowledged fact has passed. Yet, the loneliness left by the departed leaves marks on that tiny heart. Even knowing they can no longer be seen, that is a completely separate issue.

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