The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 72

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Surviving Winter (5)

Lortelle smiled faintly.

He had heard rumors that there were many big shots among the new students this year, and he had roughly identified their backgrounds.

If he looked at Tanya with a sidelong glance, she really resembled her brother quite a bit.

The sharp eyes and bright blond hair were dead giveaways. However, her demeanor was uniquely different from Ed’s.

The peculiar sense of livelihood and robustness that one felt from Ed Rothtaylor seemed much subdued in her; instead, it was replaced by the dignified comportment befitting a noble.

One could sense her confidence but not arrogance. Perhaps this was the grace of a lady who had been cultured through the years.

Though not particularly pleasant for Lortelle, who had come up from the bottom, she was still Ed Rothtaylor’s sister, after all.

There was nothing to be gained by showing animosity, even though all she talked about was chasing Ed away despite being all decked out for the occasion.

“Have you ever met that man, Senior Lortelle?”

“Yep, I have.”

His nonchalant speech was permissible due to being a grade higher.

In the academic lands of Sylvania, even nobles must adhere to basic manners according to grade levels. It was almost like prostrating in respect, though one couldn’t simply treat nobility poorly.

Only figures like royalty or saints, akin to the heart of the continent, could transcend this principle.

“In that case, there’s no need for a lengthy explanation. You must be well aware of what kind of man he is.”

“I know, alright.”

“An embarrassment to the Rothtaylor family and a veritable thorn in the side. I’ve lived alongside that man since childhood, so I know very well. Full of pretense, and oblivious to any real grace—such a vulgar person. While he held the position of heir to the family head, just because of his age, I can’t tell you how many times I lamented to the world.”

While sipping tea, Lortelle quickly ran things through his head.

The situation was somewhat unexpected and disconcerting, but it wasn’t too complex when looked at objectively.

The real issue was how to deal with it.

Clearly, showing her the door was not a wise option.

“Still, I believed that the world has a way of righting itself and that man would eventually fall due to his vanity. While meekly playing the role of a well-behaved kinswoman before him, I was up all night studying behind his back, constantly advancing myself.”

“That must have been tough.”

“It’s nothing compared to Senior Lortelle, who rose from the very bottom. Anyway, such a person should not set foot in Sylvania. He could mar the esteemed reputation of the noble Sylvania Academy someday, and it’s a disgrace for our Rothtaylor family as well.”

One couldn’t easily dismiss the young lady of the Rothtaylor family.

In the Academy of Sylvania, Lortelle may be the senior, but in terms of social status, one can’t take her lightly.

Favored by Crebin and likely to seize power someday, isn’t that potential great?

Moreover, while Tanya harbors ill will towards Ed, there’s no telling whether Ed regards Tanya as an enemy. Any harm to his sister could lead to a severe falling out on Ed’s end.

But it’s a matter beyond emotional concerns.

Connections are a more honest asset than gold.

It broadens and deepens in direct proportion to the effort and time invested.

And Tanya Rothtaylor is a rather exceptional asset. To Lortelle, who views everything from a business perspective, there’s no better investment.

Therefore, the answer is to feign collaboration while currying favor with her. As long as any plans or conspiracies are kept from her, all will be fine.

While that’s the likely solution…

“The more I hear, the more I wonder how Divine Telos could have allowed such a person to carry the Rothtaylor blood. Though he took up combat lessons from youth, he never achieved real success. Just a man puffed up with vanity, stuffed with flattery from his retainers, with no acknowledgment of his incompetence.

He managed just a slight awakening in mana sensitivity and acted as if he were some grand mage, and when he barely passed the entrance to Sylvania, it was quite a boast. Seeing him caught up in trouble and ending up like this in just a few years, frankly, it was quite a relief.”

Tanya’s deep-seated resentment for Ed was unspeakable.

Despite dedicating her life to upholding the name and decorum of the Rothtaylor, she lived beneath Ed, filled only with vanity without making any substantial contributions of her own.

It was bearable until the eldest daughter, Arwen, was alive.

At least Arwen was a role model in every aspect required of a Rothtaylor. Tanya lived hoping to reach even the soles of Arwen’s feet.

But once Arwen met an untimely death and the pitiable Ed inherited the position of heir, she was tormented by the unfairness of the world.

How frustrating to entrust the future of the Rothtaylor to a man who couldn’t even match the capacity of an average noble.

“I acted like a modest and obedient sister before him, but there’s no need anymore. Now his true colors are revealed to the world. A man like that, full to the brim with vanity and pride, lacking any substance—you, Senior Lortelle, would have seen right through him in an instant.”

“So, then?”

“Yes. So, with this opportunity… um…”

She had been speaking enthusiastically when suddenly she was at a loss for words. Tanya had just realized the unnatural flow of the conversation.

There was no exchange. Lortelle had been responding only with short answers to her monologues.

Was there some offense committed? She looked back at Lortelle, but he remained smiling serenely.

Her russet hair, neatly rolled back under a blue rose hairpin, fringed with occasional flashy frills, sat undisturbed.

It seemed like a still image, yet the hair was actually gently swaying with gravity.

No other expression but a smile.

“Um… That is…”

“Why?”

“Did I do something wrong—”

“No.”

If it’s personnel sent by Crebin to act on his behalf, there’s a high chance they possess some potential or talent.

He’s not a man to make a fruitless investment led by sentiment. Without promise or… even utility, he wouldn’t bother.

Yet, in Lortelle’s eyes, no potential seemed apparent.

Whatever talents Tanya might have had, they didn’t seem to have blossomed.

There may need to be a catalyst to properly gauge the worth of such a person… But actually, that’s beside the point.

“No, it’s just… you seemed angry… Is it my mistake?”

“Angry? What are you talking about?”

Lortelle is known for never losing his reason even before the strangest variables and crises. Always making rational choices, he’s a paradigm for traders.

Tanya knew this too, as Crebin had warned her in advance.

But, unfortunately for both Crebin and Tanya, they had overlooked one variable.

Despite her decisive resume teeming with florid epithets—the actual owner of Elte trading company, the Golden Daughter, a devil who sold her soul for money, the Leading Merchant of Salvation—they forget… she too is but a young girl of her age.

There certainly is a critical weakness that must not be touched, despite her unfailing rationality in the face of all other variables.

The bulging vein across her forehead proved that fact.

“By the way, are you done with your tea?”

As Lortelle’s mind turned cold, plans swiftly fell into place.

* [Acquired Tome: Medium Magic – ‘Focused Explosion’]

[Acquired Tome: Medium Magic – ‘Wind of the Origin’]

He crossed the camp, tucking a few magic tomes under his arm that he had secured from Professor Glast’s library the night before.

They weren’t precious books. Anyone could borrow them from the student library, but it was nice not to worry about return deadlines.

-‘Thanks for today. Tomorrow there’s just some simple paperwork. For the day after next, when we set up the exam site, come and help me one more time. Other than that, just make sure to assist well on the day of the exam.’

The day’s student council scholarship work was coming to a conclusion. It felt more like Anis, than me, who did the hard work.

Though it was bothersome to run around here and there, it wasn’t as grueling compared to physical labor.

The sun was setting. Such is winter. A moment of inattention, and darkness has settled in the sky.

I considered retiring early to my cabin but decided to sit by the campfire instead.

Blizzard winds typically made staying outside rather unbearable, but on a day like today, with the post-snow coziness lingering, sitting by a campfire was bearable.

I habitually conjured mana and cast a fire spell towards the campfire.

However, the flame didn’t rise.

“Ah… right…”

Right now, I’m unable to use magic. I was looking forward to reading outside in the fresh air, but it’s somewhat inconvenient without a fire to do so.

I lifted my head to look around the camp, scanning tree branches, cabin roofs, flat rocks, but nothing caught my eye.

After pondering briefly, I got up and headed towards the cabin.

Upon opening the wood door of the now rather splendid cabin, the bulging blanket on the bed caught my sight.

The creature that used to pop out of various spots in ways one couldn’t imagine seemed to have become a bit predictable lately. Or maybe I’ve gotten used to the creature’s antics.

“Hey, Lucy.”

When I pulled back the blanket, Lucy lay curled up asleep, perfectly at home, breathing softly.

As I lifted her witch’s hat, a tiny hand shot up and grabbed it tightly.

“Light a fire for me, will you?”

Lucy sat up groggily, tilting her head. I smoothly took out a piece of jerky from the jerky pouch and offered it to her, and she took it without hesitation.

Then she raised both hands up high, signaling for me to pick her up. Since I’m at a loss, I don’t complain. After all, Lucy weighs next to nothing, almost worryingly so.

Upon stepping outside with Lucy towards the campfire, before I could say anything, a fire blazed up instantly. After a brief ‘thanks,’ I motioned to take her back inside the cabin, but Lucy quickly clung to my coat.

“I want to stay outside too.”

“Sure.”

Since I can’t use magic for the time being, I plan to rely on Lucy for various things. At least to get through this winter, her help was necessary.

I went to a flat rock near the fire without any complaints, and Lucy hopped off first, cheerfully patting a spot next to her on the ground.

I took my seat with the magic tomes, and Lucy buried her head in my lap, lying down casually with her arms stretched out. Whether she considered people as pillows or pillows as people was unclear.

– Crackling and popping

Having heard the sound of the campfire burning so often, it felt almost like my ears automatically filtered it out.

Given the time, it was quite dark. The light from the campfire wasn’t quite enough to read the tomes, making me furrow my brow. As I struggled to read in the dim light, a crackling flame softly floated beside my ear.

The flames rise up, warm and providing a light perfect for reading. The caster of this flame magic slumps on my knee, staring blankly into space, resting. This one is unexpectedly delicate when it comes to such things…

The winter forest, undisturbed by the wind, is especially quiet. The only sounds are the rustling of book pages and the crackling of the campfire. When the persistent cries of the insects have retreated, sitting quietly in the chilly air gives one the feeling that the entire world has come to a stop.

“Hmm…”

I quietly turn the pages, reviewing the theories learned in our Elemental Studies class. While I have a grasp of the basics, mastering specific intermediate-level magic requires more in-depth knowledge.

Since every student’s target intermediate magic is different, covering everything in general lessons is not easy. Self-study is inevitably necessary to some extent.

Though I can’t use mana, and therefore cannot practice physically, if I at least become proficient in theory, by the time this vacation ends, I should be able to master intermediate magic as well.

The intermediate magic I aim to learn are ‘Point Explosion’ and ‘Origin’s Wind.’ Based on my many leveling experiences, combining wind and fire magic significantly boosts combat efficiency.

Once I’ve mastered intermediate magic, I can proudly say that I’ve had professional magic training. However, mastering just these two would be a good start.

“The smell of perfume…”

Lucy, who had been lying quietly, suddenly made an off-hand remark.

“Is that so?”

It seems that the scent of Anis’s flowers has clung to me, likely from when she slipped on the mountain earlier today.

Lucy sniffs at her sleeve, then sniffs near my chest again before pushing herself up with an elbow and tilting her head.

“Do you have a fever? Are you sick?”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Don’t get sick. You could die.”

I currently have a slight fever, an after-effect of using Professor Glast’s ring.

As I learned when I collapsed from overworking before, Lucy abhors someone close falling ill due to sickness. Likely due to a previous experience of loss.

“It’s not a deadly illness, don’t worry.”

“If your mana is twisted, I can untangle it.”

She presses firmly on my chest to untangle any mana, but realizes immediately that something’s off.

It’s not that my mana is twisted. There is simply no mana; it’s been emptied.

Lucy momentarily looks confused before nodding in understanding.

“You did something reckless.”

“I can manage, somehow.”

“Once winter ends… you’ll probably become a lot stronger…”

Murmuring to herself, Lucy lies back down and sprawls out.

There’s plenty to do during the winter. While the forest wraps in the warmth after the snow now, harsh cold, heavy snowfall, and biting winds will surely hit our camp often.

Our cabin needs reinforcing, and while I can find food, I need to personally ensure the camp’s durability.

“Hey. Can I ask a weird favor?”

“A weird favor?”

Lucy flips her witch hat off and extends her silvery-white hair towards me.

“Would you stroke my hair just once?”

I stare at her incredulously, and she quickly grabs my wrist and places my hand above her head.

As I stroke her hair, Lucy slowly drifts into sleep, a nostalgic look on her face as if remembering something… it feels like something I’ve seen many times before.

When the calm winter ends and spring arrives, it will be time to wake from hibernation.

In a way, this winter is… Lucy Mayrill’s irreplaceable time of rest.

1. Organize workshop plans ✓ 2. Build storage warehouse 3. Extend cabin 4. Check scenario ✓ 5. Review scholarship responsibilities ✓ 6. Raise magic engineering proficiency to the third stage or higher 7. Acquire advanced archery skills 8. Master intermediate magic theory ✓ 9. Contract a high-level spirit ✓

After some time, I hear someone coming through the underbrush. It’s Lortelle, not in his usual dazzling attire, but in a simple semirobe with his hair tied to one side.

I had heard that business at Elte’s firm was bustling due to the vacation season. I expected that the tasks related to the magical engineering supplies I requested might be delayed.

“Ah, Lortelle.”

“It’s been a while, senior Ed. I have something to discuss with you, and I’d like to ask about something too.”

“About those previous requests? Just tell me to come over to Elte’s and I’ll go there, why go all the way to the camp?”

“No, that’s alright…”

Lortelle hesitates, then falls into thought for a while, stroking his jaw with a finger, staring blankly at Lucy.

*

“That’s bizarre.”

A guardian of the northern vegetation, raised and nurtured by the Islan family.

Spear of Foliage, Zix Effelstein.

One of the recommendations Lortelle made for Tanya. Among the second-year seniors, aside from the genius magician Lucy, Zix was said to possess the upper echelons of magic power in the department.

His intrinsic mana capacity might not be outstanding, and his pure magic firepower could be outclassed by other students of Class A, but in one-on-one combat, he was known for his distinct combat sense.

Moreover, he was well-liked and respected by most of his second-year peers… To win over the upcoming second-years, Lortelle advised that Zix must be recruited first.

With no miracles expected on the first encounter, merely making an acquaintance was the goal. Indeed, advice befitting her.

The place of meeting was at the entrance of the path leading to the Lortelle Hall, the dormitory for honor students at the edge of the academic living complex.

Zix’s first impression was striking as he single-handedly carried several travel bags, each big enough to contain the upper half of a person.

Behind him, Elka Islan, the librarian, struggled with a small bag. To an outsider, it seemed as though they were embarking on a large-scale migration.

“The story went a bit long, but thank you for listening until the end. The gist of it is quite simple.”

Smiling warmly and bowing politely, Tanya continued.

“If you assist me in getting even with that man, I will offer the greatest reward possible. This promise is backed by both the name of the Rothtaylor family and the official seal of Elte’s firm. The reward could take various forms; for example, the Islan family is renowned for its prestigious archaeologists, right? I could offer access to numerous antique artifacts stored in the Rothtaylor family’s vaults.”

“Really?! …Oops…”

Elka Islan, Zix’s partner, reacted to the words.

Zix and Elka, apparently planning to return home during vacation, were sorting their belongings.

Pausing to set down his burdens, Zix sat on one of the large wooden trunks while he observed.

“That’s so…”

Pushing off his impromptu seat, Zix approached Tanya with deliberate strides, closing the distance.

Though his solid build was not overly large, standing beside the comparatively petite Tanya made him seem significantly more imposing, prompting her to instinctively swallow nervously.

His mana, flowing palpably, was unmistakable. Zix’s cold gaze, looking down at Tanya, sent shivers down her spine.

“You are… Senior Ed’s sister?”

“Yes… heh.”

Her voice betrayed a nervous hitch. Tanya hurriedly suppressed it, but Zix, tense in the midst of the silence, allowed a cool, mocking laugh to escape.

“Haha, did you hear that, Elka? This is senior Ed’s little sister.”

The atmosphere was far from normal.

By the time Tanya sensed it, the situation had already shifted.

Without showing any further signs, Zix slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a spherical object, a magical engineering device used by freshmen.

A wave of tension hit Tanya the moment Zix placed the device into her hands.

“This is a basic magical engineering tool used in essential classes, but don’t buy a new one; use this instead. It’s a mana sensitivity trainer and it’s already set up, so it’ll be easy to use.”

“…Yes?”

“Oh right, Elka. Did we pack up the notes from Professor Delrof’s Elemental Studies class?”

“Yeah, I’ve got them here. Was about to throw them away, believe it or not.”

“Here, take all of these. There’s a big difference in class with and without the outline. The absorption efficiency will change drastically with these notes. Look, it’s all organized here. Take these too.”

“Uh? Eh? Yes?”

Tanya scrambled to hold onto the stack of notebooks and documents.

“And this is the training manual for Professor Feld’s class on mana efficiency. The important parts are marked, so it’s better to use this than to buy a new one. This wand is for the Monstrology class; I’ve modified the search magic specifically for Mount Orun. It’ll be convenient for you. Here, take it too.”

“Ah, yes? Yes…”

“And this, and this. This is… you might not need it. Oh well, take it anyway. Dispose of it if it’s not needed. Elka, did you find the headdress for Professor Hallen’s class?”

“Here it is. And this is an annual membership card to Laplace Bakery in the living complex. It’s really popular even among nobles who have to queue up. Since there’s still time left in the winter break, you use this. Anyway, I’m going back to the family home. Here’s the headdress too.”

“Right, take this as well. Oh, you’re out of hands. Servant, please take this. And these as well; they’ll be of use. This necklace and headdress… here, I’ll put it on for you.”

After a while of handing over an array of valuable tips and supplies for academic life, Zix and Elka wiped the sweat off their invigorated faces with a sense of accomplishment.

Tanya simply stood there, swarmed by all the items, struck dumb. She braced herself, fearing the pile of luggage might collapse.

“Um… you did hear my proposal correctly, right?”

“Huh? Oh… something about doing something to senior Ed… Right, that’s it. It’s natural for siblings to have a rivalry. There’s never any love lost between them. Well… It’s not surprising, given senior Ed’s personality. It’s easy to misunderstand.”

“Zix! The ship’s about to leave…! We have to get the luggage to the docks now…!”

“Right, I got it. Elka. Anyway, you’re… senior Ed’s sister, right…? Really nice to see your face. I’m Zix, going into second year, and I’ve had a certain relationship with senior Ed.”

Zix began gathering the bags again.

“We owe each other a bit, having known each other for a while and all, it’s that kind of special relationship. Nice to see you making the rounds early like this, showing promise just like your brother. You’re bound to become something. It’s such a fortune to be born into a good family, with good people around you. Yeah.”

Proud and with an affectionate pat on the young lady’s shoulder, Zix clenched his fist and cheered her on energetically.

“Anyway, give it your all…!! Let’s do it together… One, two, three… fighting…!!”

With that, Zix quickly moved towards the dock, laden with baggage once more.

The silence left in the wake of a storm.

Confusion surged in with a delay.

“…”

“….??”

“…..?????”

Tanya, clutching at her armful of belongings, spun her confused eyes in circles.

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