The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 59

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Glast’s Subjugation Mission (8)

The issue reported by the commercial guild’s staff was something that was bound to happen sooner or later.

“The news is that the mercenaries hired by the Golden King Elte have entered Acken Island! They’re taking advantage of the chaos near the faculty building to seize control of the Sylvania branch of Elte’s commercial guild and plan to capture the highest representative, Lortelle!”

“The Elte guild’s forces are significantly depleted, leaving them completely defenseless!”

It’s a well-known fact that time waits for no one. The reason time seems to fly by for me is probably because of how hectically I’ve lived my life. Running around day in and day out just to make ends meet, and suddenly, it’s the final chapter of Act 2. It feels like just yesterday when Yenika took over the student council and caused mayhem… Juggling exam scores, the storyline, and camp duties, what seemed like a major incident half a year ago is now just a distant memory.

No matter how diligently and thoroughly one lives, things that couldn’t be addressed in the rush of life tend to resurface at the most hectic, sensitive times. Act 2 went mostly without a hitch. Even the slight deviations, such as the “Ophelius Hall Occupation” and “The Sage’s Seal Scramble,” were neatly resolved. However, one glaring issue, left dangling and unresolved from those events, clearly remains.

The Golden King Elte, who was thoroughly defeated in the original story without a chance for recovery, got a bit of a reprieve due to his earlier-than-expected downfall, providing him a last-ditch effort to struggle. This is more a deferred issue than a resolved one.

“Yes, that’s right. It seems the Elte guild has completed the dethroning process, but the way they’ve accepted their downfall so calmly suggests they have something up their sleeve.”

“I’m worried that Senior Ed might get hurt because of whatever Elte is planning. That’s why I called, to make sure there were no issues with him.”

“I see. Given Elte’s desperate situation, we can’t predict what he might do, so we must always stay alert.”

Lortelle mentioned this when visiting the Elte guild. She surely had some countermeasures in mind. Act 2 is the last chance to regroup before the latter half of the storyline begins, where trials become increasingly absurd. It’s the period when Taely gains enough strength to stand against the main characters of the storyline. We’re almost through the major trials of Act 2. With Glast’s defeat, Act 2 should come to a clean and definitive end. We can’t let remnants of the past create new variables unchecked.

I’ve mentioned time and again, my informational advantage, knowing the predetermined flow of the future, is my greatest weapon, an absolute edge that must not be squandered if I am to survive in this world. Those who should exit in Act 2 must do so within it. Elte, a merchant who has navigated the commercial world’s challenges, poses a significant variable if he manages to maintain his power. There’s no need for detailed explanation; I’ve experienced enough. Even the butterfly effect caused by a third-rate villain who should have fallen at the story’s beginning can significantly shake the world. That’s inevitable since that third-rate villain is me.

I’m prepared to deal with and rectify such anomalies. After all, I need to survive. It’s not about others; it’s my story. However, if it’s not me but others involved, the story changes.

Carrying Lucy, I walked towards Taely’s group, followed by Lortelle and Yenika catching up in bewilderment. “Stay back, or…!” Taely, holding a sword, shouted with Elvira sweating and glaring at me. Just as Taely was about to push the sword forward, Zix grabbed the hilt, lowering it, and stood between Taely and me. “Senior Ed. We don’t want to fight you. We just want to save Aila.” “Go ahead. I’m not in the mood to fight anyway.” It seems there was a misunderstanding about my intent to fight Taely.

“The path from here should be mostly clear. I can’t be bothered to explain the details, but after saving Aila, ask her. She was kidnapped with me, so she can fill you in on the situation.” “Senior Ed, then you…” “I have urgent matters to attend to. I need to go. So, make way.”

After a moment of silence, an exchange of looks occurred between my followers and Taely’s group. Zix looked at Taely, nodded, and stepped aside with him, making way. As the two main leaders stepped aside, the rest of the group hesitantly moved aside too. I glanced at Lortelle and Yenika and walked down the cleared path.

Passing by, the intense gazes on me were unmistakable. Accompanied by Yenika, who had unsummoned all her spirits, and Lortelle in her robe, with Lucy sound asleep, I headed towards the exit. Turning back, Taely’s group was reorganizing and watching us.

“Taely.” She looked as if she had seen a ghost. Understandable. Yet, there’s still much to do deep within the underground waterway. Small named bosses and various monsters along the path have been dealt with, but the sage researcher Kum, the revived demon of the waterway, the cyclops, and the inquirer Glast remain. Lortelle, one of those bosses, will have to wait. The Elte matter is more pressing. Lortelle, being a conditionally hostile boss, can be skipped without much issue. There will be many more challenging and rewarding trials ahead, especially enduring Glast’s holy magic, which will test the limits of human endurance.

“Work hard.”

There was no need for lengthy explanations or extensive encouragement. With just that brief remark, my companions and I vanished into the darkness of the underground waterway. Taely’s group watched my receding figure in silence, but ultimately, no one said anything further.

Our pace quickened. Splashing through the water, Yenika, Lortelle, and I advanced toward the exit direction.

“My father’s downfall within the guild is a certainty now, but that doesn’t mean there are no ways to turn the situation around,” Lortelle summarized the situation with her calm tone. “The downfall of Elte’s guild is based on accountability. The decisive factor for this downfall was the loss in the drum trade… If we can dissociate from this responsibility, there might be a chance to survive.”

“Then…”

“Yes… The goal is to find evidence that this business loss was manipulated.”

Originally, Elte should have been backstabbed by Lortelle in the Sage’s Seal scramble and fallen into ruin, without any chance for a comeback. The responsibility for the drum trade loss should have immediately led to his downfall.

However, the fact that news of the downfall’s certainty is heard, but not of its completion, suggests…

“Are they using the guild’s internal forces for a power struggle?”

“According to the original plan, the downfall should have been expedited without any chance for resistance, but it seems things haven’t gone smoothly due to the acceleration of the plan.”

This allowed Elte to gain just enough time to return to Sylvania.

“We’ll overturn all the documents in the guild’s branch, but I doubt we’ll find any evidence that could change the situation. I’m not foolish enough to leave such evidence behind.”

“So, the conclusion remains the same as before.”

“Yes. The most certain method is to capture me directly, whether through torture or whatever means, to spill all truths.”

Whatever the case, capturing Lortelle, the pivot of Elte’s downfall plan, was the most definitive approach.

“No, Ed!”

Yenika abruptly grabbed my sleeve, almost causing me to drop Lucy in surprise. She then wobbled to the front, arms raised to block the path, trembling.

“We can’t follow Lortelle, Ed.”

“Yenika?”

“You’ll get hurt again!”

Yenika seemed surprised by her own loud voice, quickly softening her tone, hiccupping as she regained composure.

“Ed, you’ve just escaped captivity. Don’t forget that. With your current condition, trying to deal with Golden King Elte is too reckless…!”

Then, Yenika turned her gaze towards Lortelle.

“Did you forget you collapsed from overwork just the other day?!”

Yenika wasn’t used to expressing anger. Raising her voice or pressing someone felt unnatural, her voice faltering. Yet, she stared sternly at Lortelle, unaccustomed to such confrontation.

“This is about Elte’s guild. Strictly speaking… it has nothing to do with Ed. I just wish Ed wouldn’t get hurt any further…”

Her voice dwindled, even as she expressed anger, a very Yenika-like reaction. And her argument wasn’t wrong. After all, Elte’s downfall and everything else was strictly Lortelle’s concern. From an outsider’s perspective, as long as I kept myself safe, the power dynamics of Elte’s guild didn’t matter much to me.

However, Lortelle was unlikely to be swayed by this rationale.

“What are you talking about, Ed?!”

No, it was Yenika who spoke first. Lortelle opened her mouth to speak but then dashed back a few steps as if struck by lightning, her cheeks flushed, as if ambushed unexpectedly.

“Move! We don’t have time!”

If Elte had truly invaded the Sylvania dormitory, it wouldn’t take long for him to trace Lortelle’s location to this underground waterway. Everything Elte desires is here: Lortelle Keheln, who can prove the drum trade loss was a setup for his downfall, myself for the credibility of her testimony, and even the physical Sage’s Seal he desperately sought.

While the third-party intervention and the academy forces led by Headmaster Obel won’t sit idle, they won’t have the capacity to deal with Elte amidst this chaos. Elte might exploit this opportunity.

“What do you mean it’s not someone else’s problem?! Have you and Lortelle become more than acquaintances?! Because of the contract? Right, if Lortelle loses control of the guild, it’ll affect the distribution of magic engineering supplies to you, right?! Yes, that must be it!”

Suddenly, Yenika’s brain seemed to spin faster than usual, her ability to assess the situation seemingly doubled. As I hurriedly moved forward, Yenika spontaneously crafted an excuse I hadn’t even considered.

Yenika… smarter than I thought??

“Yes, exactly!”

“Right! Uh-huh! Uh-huh!”

In the sudden turn of events, without having fully explained everything to Yenika, her ability to infer and adapt on the fly was evident.

Certainly befitting of a top student in the grade.

Even with the situation of carrying Lucy on my back, Yenika just hurried along with her oak wand clutched tight, instead of asking how it all came to be. First things first, we had to return to the Elte Exchange’s Sylvania branch to assess the situation.

It would be wise to prevent Elte from pulling any tricks, at least until Taely wraps up the final chapter.

So we raced toward the exit at full speed. I was already tired, and carrying Lucy made my breath come short.

Moving through the endless-seeming subterranean waterways, battle traces occasionally came into view.

Presumably, these were signs that Taely had passed by. Considering the many demonic golems and mid-bosses from the entrance of the sewer, it was plausible.

Approaching the exit, we came upon the aftermath of a tremendous battle.

The mid-boss of Act 2, Scene 2.

The superior demonic golem Hayton and Dorothy, the third-year top student from the Alchemy Department.

Hayton was demolished into fragments scattered all around the entrance of the sewer, and amidst the wreckage, Dorothy lay unconscious.

“What a disaster.”

The initial phase of Act 2 isn’t particularly difficult. Given Taely’s current specs, he could’ve blitzed through in a straight line without much resistance.

It’s my first time running through the secret lab and the waterways in reverse, so observing these aftermaths felt quite novel.

I quickly scanned the entrance area to assess the situation. The demonic golem Hayton was truly finished.

Dorothy, collapsed on the ground, bore a face streaked with saliva and tears, as if frozen mid-scream from sheer terror.

One might think she was tormented, but Taely doesn’t have that sort of disposition.

“Taely, you really went to town on your seniors, wait ’til I see it, without a drop of pity.”

As I sighed upon seeing Dorothy’s state, Yenika oddly echoed my remark with an airy tone. It wasn’t really a question that needed an answer… right?

“It’s a bit violent! Um!”

“Senior Yenika…”

Lortelle looked pitifully at Yenika, who fidgeted with her fingers, as if to say, ‘Why lie when you’re going to be found out anyway?’ Suspicion struck me again, and looking down at Dorothy, the shawl covering her body looked familiar.

Embroidered with delicate cosmos patterns, it was unmistakably Yenika’s, worn over her uniform.

On second look, Yenika stood there, hiccupping and cloaked only in her uniform.

“Sorry! I lied!”

“You did it, Yenika?”

“I didn’t mean to do this. It happened while trying to do this and that, but I’m not heartless or tearless…! Don’t misunderstand! It’s true… absolutely true…”

“Ah, no, I’m sorry for assuming it was you without knowing.”

My apology came out reflexively, seeing her desperation to defend herself.

“I didn’t have time to explain myself… Ed…! Don’t get the wrong idea…! This… I need to start with Muk flying toward me… Oh… don’t look at me like I’m a violent person…! Don’t look at me that way!”

While I had no view of Lortelle’s expression, listening to Yenika’s story was necessary to understand what had been happening outside while I was trapped.

“Let’s hear the rest as we head toward the exit!”

We were already close; just one long staircase, and we’d be outside.

The damp depths of the underground waterway made me feel cut off from the outside world.

Once outside, breathing fresh air, I’d contemplate our immediate course of action.

So, we sprinted up the stairs, with Lortelle and Yenika quickly following.

Once across the long stairway and outside the waterway, the crisp night air filled my lungs, and a clear night sky came into view. Before that feeling of liberation could settle…

“…”

The sight before us was unexpected.

A spacious marble-paved entrance to the waterway.

Among the chaos, one carriage stood out… Lortelle Keheln’s.

Had the employees been instructed to wait outside before entering the waterway?

However, most of the employees had been subdued.

One, two, three… There were too many mercenaries surrounding the waterway entrance to count.

“You’re earlier than expected, father.”

“Threatening the association’s employees revealed that you’d headed for this sewer. You still have much to learn about personnel management, Lortelle.”

Despite the stars in the night sky, the darkness around the waterway entrance lingered.

Ordinarily, the academy could never allow such a large number of mercenaries to enter.

However, most employees were either dealing with the aftermath at Triss Hall or dispatched to locate Professor Glast.

Taely, who had first discovered and followed Glast, quickly gathered comrades to continue the pursuit, while the staff, receiving only paper reports, lagged behind.

Had we waited for staff processes to apprehend Glast together, we couldn’t predict what might have happened to Aila. That’s why Taely’s unilateralism wasn’t entirely unjustified.

Still… I wished the academy staff had managed to stop Elte’s intrusion…

This mistake… Elte’s meticulous nature must have played a part.

“How did you cross the bridge to Acken? There’s only one entryway.”

“If you can cross the waters, you need not bother with a bridge.”

Using the cover of darkness, Elte had ferried the mercenaries into the academy in small boats, cunning as a viper.

“The academy will surely make this a major issue.”

“Better than losing my life, isn’t it? Besides, if I can tie up all my business here now, I’ll gladly face any subsequent condemnations or responsibility inquiries.”

Elte’s formerly dazzling image had dimmed.

Once a flamboyant figure exuding wealth, Elte now dressed in a modest and unremarkable way, albeit a few remains of valuable ornaments showed past glory had faded.

He looked like a man clinging to a ledge before descent, desperation clear in his unwary gaze.

The size of the mercenary force brought to face just a few students meant to some… an excessive precaution.

“If Headmaster Obel acts in person, a mere trader like me would be subdued in an instant. But I must settle things before that.”

“And if you can nab the seal amidst the chaos, all the better, right?”

Lortelle’s question was met with Elte’s laughter.

A moment like this was a rare opportunity for Elte.

Fail to seize it, and he may never get another chance.

“I’m not ready to step off this stage yet, Lortelle.”

I quietly gazed at Elte.

The fake boss of Act 2, doomed to a tragic end by Lortelle’s betrayal.

Despite his sturdy appearance, I felt no animosity bubbling up.

Selfish, inherently vile, willing to murder for glory and fortune, and to manipulate others without hesitation.

I knew well.

In any story, a villain as vivid as one from a painting is indispensable.

For each protagonist who moves and inspires all with virtue, there must exist a villain, evil by birth, destined for a miserable end.

It’s ironic that it’s easier to become a villain than a hero living in this world.

Struggling for one’s share in life, one could routinely appear heartless and cruel to others.

Certainly, Elte had gone too far, crossing moral lines repeatedly.

Nevertheless, I bore him no ill will.

Elte obstructed our path so doggedly because he, too, sought survival.

No villain desires merely to remain a defeated outcast after falling from the grand stage.

To survive… this is every living being’s yearning, irrelevant to purity of character.

My situation was the same, which is why I refrained from moral judgment of Elte.

Yet, I had no intention of yielding.

The ground shook without warning.

Everyone—Elte, his mercenaries, the subdued association employees, Yenika, and Lortelle—appeared stunned by the sudden tremor.

The shock was different from when Lucy broke through the earth.

As the world seemed to turn over, I steadied myself.

Then, Susan’s Estate was struck by lightning from a clear sky.

Only when the night sky’s seven great stars align can the high celestial magic ‘Descent of the Demon Realm’ be used.

Among Professor Glast’s celestial magics, it commanded the grandest scale.

Massive amounts of mana circulating in the atmosphere met Glast’s celestial magic, resonating with celestial magic circles etched across the academy grounds.

Explosions echoed, and giant towers of mana erupted from various points, their scale belying the imagination.

Each mana tower seemed to pierce the clouds, as high as a half-day’s climb.

This was the construction event of Glast’s mana tower, unfolding the moment Taely’s group entered the secret research lab.

To chase Glast, who had fled to the top of a mana tower, they had to aim for the deepest entrance within the secret research laboratory.

The towers absorbed celestial magic like antennas, not one or two but ten in total.

To twist the very laws of nature, such was the necessity.

The story’s final stage was ascending above us.

Reacting to the overwhelming mana, Lucy, who had been carried on my back, opened her eyes wide.

“The resurrection of the lion?”

She murmured to herself as she lifted her head to view the sky.

Beneath the night sky embroidered with crimson mana, I stood erect.

Even with the world in upheaval, Elte glared steadily at us.

The stage of our story lay beyond.

I understood his grit—to survive and ascend above the stage by any means.

Alas, this is where Elte’s journey ends.

This is not a neatly packaged tale of the triumph of good over evil unfolding on a grand stage.

Mired in the mud are the villains’ bitter struggles for existence, where elaborating on good and evil seems laughable.

No more roles await Elte.

If a person isn’t benevolent, doesn’t positively influence, or can’t lend strength in dire times…

Regretfully, it’s time for him to exit the stage. My resolve to survive remains unchanged.

For I, too, must live on.

*

Taely’s group effortlessly bulldozed a near-straight path from the underground waterway to the monster research laboratory.

Besides the weakness of the monsters, the major passages had already been cleared, likely by Ed Rothtaylor during his escape.

No trace of battle remained, and the route showed no sign of wastage.

No signs of traps to ensnare Taely’s group were found.

Reaching the soul library, Ed appeared to have completed the task—no enemies were left.

Was it truly only support for Taely’s group that motivated Ed Rothtaylor?

What then, could that ‘urgent matter’ be that caused him to rush away from the waterway?

In this crisis—with a teacher causing trouble, a student kidnapped, and a seal stolen—what could be more urgent?

With these questions, Taely’s group continued deeper into the secret research facility.

At this moment, their priority was saving Aila. That was all that mattered.

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