The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 71

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Winter Survival (4)

Orun, cloaked in the full embrace of winter, was filled with skeletal branches, now stark against the freezing air.

While the occasional evergreen spared the landscape from total barrenness, it was the blinding snowfields that predominantly caught one’s eye.

Sweeping the snow from a flat rock mid-mountain, Anis and I settled upon it once we were sure of its dryness.

“It’s not a grand mountain, but a mountain nonetheless. Some areas are deceptively dangerous, and with the season being what it is, slipping in the snow could seriously injure a student. We must stay vigilant while supervising, right?”

Anis unfurled her tied-up chestnut hair, complaining of the chill at her neck since entering the mountains.

The waves in her shoulder-length tresses bounced lightly, releasing a subtle fragrance of incense as she brushed them with her hands.

“Phew… it’s tough… Ed, you don’t look tired at all?”

“It’s about time for a break. Let’s rest for a bit.”

Midway up Orun, we were alone. In this season, one would scarcely expect students to venture so high by their own volition.

Apart from the chatter of birds and the crush of snow beneath our feet, there was complete silence; only a gentle wind occasionally unveiled grass buried under the snow without causing much of a disturbance.

“Thanks, Ed. You’re so strong. It’s all the more troubling that I’m causing delays because of me… You’re also very understanding…”

Anis fiddled with her fingertips, bashfully averting her eyes.

“There… I must have had many misunderstandings about you.”

With a sheepish glance upwards, Anis quickly looked away again, as though embarrassed by her own words.

“Misunderstandings?”

“You must know, to some extent. I’m very close with Yenika… I worried she might fall in with the wrong sort, and that made me colder to you…”

Thinking back, Anis’s cold treatment wasn’t particularly significant.

Merely receiving cold looks or being avoided on occasion was all it amounted to.

Considering my reputation was in ruins for the first semester, I understood the behavior. Nearly all the students avoided me, not just Anis.

I was too preoccupied with my own survival to take much notice.

“It’s okay. I didn’t mind much. You had your reasons. I understand.”

With a casual dismissal, I glanced over the field trip checklist prepared by Assistant Professor Claire.

We had to verify spots on the mid-slope suitable for placing magical equipment and to set up safety measures near any dangerous cliffs. It was a cumbersome task to check up to the altar at the summit, but if we hurried, we might finish before sunset.

Returning to camp meant a litany of chores, so I wanted to complete the task swiftly.

However, I couldn’t drag Anis around when she was already low on stamina; and to avoid overexerting myself, frequent breaks weren’t such a bad idea.

“Ed is… more diligent and sincere than I thought.”

As she twirled the ends of her hair, Anis spoke meekly and met my gaze slowly.

“Having someone like Ed in the lab is such a relief. It’s been hard managing the work alone; you know how Professor Claire can be… A promising scholar, yet lacking in some areas…”

“That’s true. You’ve had your share of troubles.”

“Mm, I guess so… But it’s okay.”

Anis beamed, lightly gripping my arm.

“Now that you’re here, Ed.”

“There’s not much I’ve actually done yet…”

“But you’ll help from now on. Look, we’re almost done with the site visit.”

Anis sprang up, maintaining her sidelong glances as she approached me.

“I’m thankful it’s Ed who’s here. Of course, the other two are a great help too, but having Ed is a real support for me.”

“…?”

“Ed, it may be painful to mention, but… after all, you were disowned by your family, weren’t you?”

Expressions can be so varied. They may all be smiles, yet so different.

The smile Anis now gave me seemed to indicate a lingering pain rather than cheerfulness.

With a bittersweet smile, she nonchalantly rested her hands on her hips and bent slightly forward, as if wanting to see my reaction.

“It’s not easy standing on your own in such a dazzlingplace as this.”

Her allure was subliminally different from flirtation. She seemed to evoke a mixture of maturity and relatability in someone of our age.

Stepping closer and trailing her hand down my arm, she didn’t lose the bittersweet smile as she continued.

I sympathized. I managed on my own after my family’s fortunes fell right when I joined the school. I wanted to keep attending, so I persevered alone.”

“That must have been hard.”

“Yes, it was tough.”

Anis looked away distantly, as if recalling the struggles of her solitary battles of the past.

“It felt like walking through a long, lonely winter.”

She certainly gave off an impression of resilience, whether in financial matters or others, she had clearly handled it all on her own.

“Maybe that’s why I felt a kinship with you. You must have had a difficult time with academic life as well. And with all those rumors…”

“It’s not so bad once you get used to it. Don’t be too disheartened. You’ve held up well yourself.”

“Ahaha. Thanks. We have quite a bit in common.”

At her sentimental disclosure, I offered my share of comforting and empathetic words.

I was somewhat surprised by her demeanor. I had pegged her as more cold and pragmatic than this.

Though we weren’t close, this side of her felt new to me. People truly reveal themselves over time.

“Indeed, you have a strong spirit, Ed. I’m truly glad we’ve resolved our misunderstanding. Umm.. uh… perhaps the sensitive conversation has affected me… I feel a little flush…”

Anis, once more busying her fingers, turned away hastily.

“Ah… Anyway, I’m embarrassed! Let’s head to the summit; we’ve rested plenty. We should finish quickly, and do be careful. There are lots of loose stones arouuuuund here!”

Before finishing her sentence, Anis had slipped, tumbling towards me and landing squarely in my arms.

“Owoooah!”

Anis let out a flustered yelp, pushed off my chest, and quickly extricated herself.

“Sorry! I tripped over a stone!”

“Be careful.”

Looking down for the treacherous stone, I found nothing—just slippery snow.

Anis began vigorously fanning herself, as anyone would in an embarrassing situation, while I patiently waited for her to regain composure.

“Just a moment… Why am I so hot… I’ll calm down shortly…! Wait for me here…! I’ll be right back…!!”

She dashed behind a nearby bare tree, leaving me seated on the rock, exhaling deeply and watching my breath cloud the snowy scene before me. Orun seemed peacefully dressed in white—a starkly beautiful sight.

“It’s tricky.”

Sitting on the exposed roots of a barren tree, Anis collected her thoughts.

“From the outside, he looks so upstanding… Is it an act…? Knowing that I’m Yenika’s close friend…?”

Puzzled, she stroked her chin and brooded. Clearly, my response hadn’t been entirely convincing.

I kept to my plan flawlessly.

Appearing competent but with a slight vulnerability that suggested a need for care.

A fellow soldier through a challenging academic career—an empathetic bond.

Unsure whether she preferred a mature charm or youthful cuteness, I aimed for a mix, adding subtle touches of physical contact and culminating in the ‘accidental’ embrace.

Her confusion was apparent, but whether it stirred deeper feelings was unclear.

I was tempted to observe more, but if she hadn’t responded by now, it likely wasn’t a sign of strong interest.

“Hmm… Did I get too absorbed in it?”

In the earnestness to check, I ended up performing method acting. I ended up lamenting the harsh, winter-like academic life, so perhaps my true feelings had inadvertently mixed in a bit.

What can I do? Paradoxically, the perfect lie is born when intermingled with a sliver of truth.

It seems like it was an effective blow, so if a response comes, it will likely be soon.

“That… I didn’t realize before, but you’re in better shape than I thought.”

Anis, looking down at the palm that had just touched Ed’s chest, opens and closes her hand again. It feels like the unexpectedly firm touch remains.

Acting like a simpleton yet blessed with good stamina. I thought he was just an ignorant noble’s son, but against expectations, he has decent workmanship. His appearance is not something I need to bother evaluating.

Indeed, to a naive girl like Yenika who knows nothing of the world, she might completely fall for him, but Anis has background knowledge.

After all, Ed is a descendant of the high-pressure Rothtaylor family, and the notoriety of the past doesn’t just disappear overnight simply because things have calmed down.

They say physiognomy is a science, so my doubts about Ed’s behavior haven’t vanished. This is how persuasive it can be to think that he’s played women like this.

To womanizers who change masks and discard women, such manipulation is as easy as eating cold porridge. If even Anis finds him a strangely ambiguous figure, it’s only natural that an innocent girl like Yenika would fall completely for him.

“Yeah, that’s how it is,” Anis nods in acceptance and steadies her breath.

A thick mask drapes over the surface of the skin.

*

The renovated Ophelius mansion now looked far cleaner and more modern than before.

Of course, there is no way Tanya, who has just set foot in Sylvania, would notice the difference.

She could only admire it in comparison to the Rothtaylor mansion—it appeared nothing short of magnificent. When she had come to apply before, it was still under construction, so she hadn’t imagined it would turn out this beautiful.

“The maids have organized the luggage you sent. It’s the second room on the inside of the third floor.”

When the young lady of the continent’s most powerful Rothtaylor family arrived, it was natural for Belle Mayar, the highest authority of the Ophelius mansion, to pop out.

Belle Mayar greeted Tanya politely and guided her as she gracefully nodded her head.

“Just complete the dormitory admission process through the servants. I have somewhere to stop by before that.”

“Yes, I understand.”

Well-educated and stylish-looking attendants descended one by one from Tanya’s grand carriage, dressed in antique clothing.

Accompanied only by a minimum number of servants, Tanya turned her path towards the dormitory block.

She’s not the most energetic, but she enjoys walking. Savoring the crisp winter air as she leisurely tours the campus.

The professorial halls of Sylvania indeed brim with romance. This land of study, where the noble and talented refine themselves towards becoming shining talents, uplifted her mood as if she was already a part of its community.

– ‘It gladdens me to heed your intentions, for as your father, I wholeheartedly support your ambition.’

The generous and dignified Duke of the Clorel Empire, Crebin Rothtaylor.

Before leaving the Rothtaylor mansion, the final dialogue she had with her most respected father gave Tanya even more strength in her shoulders.

Before heading to Sylvania for academics, Tanya had made two resolutions to her father.

To become the youngest student council president in Sylvania, she pledged to elevate the family’s honor, and to completely erase the yet unsettled shame of the Rothtaylor family—the existence of Ed Rothtaylor from this glorious land.

This was Tanya’s ambition, resolved solely for the glory of her eminent family. It seemed Crebin was deeply impressed.

Tanya was immensely proud of that fact.

Due to the tragedy of the mysterious death of her elder sister Arwen and her elder brother Ed’s expulsion, she became the next head of the Rothtaylor family by chance.

She struggled to shake off the sense of unworthiness she felt for attaining a glory she wasn’t meant to have.

Now, as she’s been accepted into Sylvania and feels recognized, Tanya feels her enthusiasm well up again. She was eager to take the new student placement test soon and have her capabilities acknowledged.

She might have been the first of the new students to enter the dormitory.

Considering the student council elections, there isn’t much time. She wanted to meet as many important figures in the school as possible, stamp her presence, and recruit them to her side.

Becoming the student council president in her first year—a feat never before achieved in Sylvania’s history—was Tanya’s primary goal.

– ‘Within the academy, there are several ‘big shots’ present. Convincing each student one by one is important, but if you want to become the student council president, it’s crucial to enlist the key figures who drive public opinion as your allies.’

Crebin’s golden advice. And his help.

– ‘There are many ‘big shots’ within the academy with whom I am acquainted. Since I have some business to take care of, why don’t you, acting for me, make your presence known to them, and while proposing various ideas, expand your influence. Surely it will be a good experience… Hm… No, persevere, Tanya.’

Tanya was breathless even as she walked.

Though she lived in the Rothtaylor mansion and was raised as a precious gem, she rarely did anything on her own initiative.

She was merely carried on the family’s glory, without substantively doing anything for the family.

This was her chance. Not only was she representing her father, but more importantly, it was about establishing Tanya Rothtaylor’s own position.

“That’s all.”

Tanya concluded with a bright smile.

Her ambition to become the student council president. Her resolve to completely restore her family’s honor by erasing the likes of trash Ed Rothtaylor.

And what benefits she could offer when supported. What promises she could make.

Having laid all that out, she smiled once more with dignified grace.

As fresh as a newly bloomed rose, the eagerness of a new student was captivating. The ‘big shot’, sitting across the table from Tanya, remained quietly seated throughout.

“Anyway, the student council elections are a long way off, and there’s a lot to do as a freshman before that, so this is merely a casual promise. Anyway, if you support me, I can actively reflect your opinions in the proposals for school regulations that even influence within the dormitory. Senior. Besides, someone like you, Senior, would know far better than I what it means to have the student council president as an ally.”

Tanya naturally continued her speech, recalling Crebin’s words.

– ‘Sylvania will provide you with the utmost respect due to your status, but at the core, it’s a land of academics. Even the princess herself accords teachers the respect they deserve as educators within the realm of study, so don’t commit rudeness by relying on your noble status. Anyone higher in grade than you are considered a senior.’

Before status comes the year of study. Of course, the person in front of her would treat Tanya with respect according to her status, but she had no intention of being insolent.

Tanya had already heard many rumors of Sylvania’s brilliant seniors.

She was now face-to-face with one of the ‘big shots’ from those rumors. It’s a matter beyond status. A matter of ‘achievements’ and ‘capabilities’.

Regardless of the lowliness of one’s birth, the demonstrated ability cannot be scorned by anyone. And isn’t it so that not even the most battle-hardened veterans bow in recognition? The figure opposite her had consumed many ‘big shots’ and grown big as a lion.

Even the air of nobility they exude is indistinguishable from that of the aristocrats. Had it not been for the glory of Rothtaylor, encountering such big shots directly would have been a tremendous honor unlikely to be afforded to her.

– ‘Remember when you meet the person I introduce you to. Always treat your counterparty with due respect. Especially when it comes to negotiations and transactions, you cannot lightly regard them as someone you can’t handle.’

– ‘She and I… we crossed paths concerning the business plan for the sage’s seals. There are still negotiation items pending, so try to handle the matter as my representative. It’ll surely be a good experience… Hm… No, be strong, Tanya.’

Lortelle Keheln, with sparkling eyes, watched the new student looking up at him.

“…”

After listening to the end of the story, Lortelle gently closed and reopened his eyes and… wore a dignified smile in response.

“How interesting.”

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