The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 73

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Winter Survival (6)

“Ughhh… Uhhh…”

“Great work.”

Having completed the submission of academic matters, the planning proposal and basic preparations for freshman class assignments, the drafting of academic schedules post-opening, the final exam grading and ranking, and the preparations for the full professor evaluations, Assistant Professor Claire buried her head on her desk, feeling as if her soul had been drained.

“Just get through next week’s freshman class assignment test, and you can rest for the remaining holiday period.”

“It’s amazing, Anis. Such stamina, really. Your skin hasn’t even bloomed. I’m already getting flaky… Is this… youth…?”

With her head down, Professor Claire only turned her head to look at the tabletop mirror. A corpse stared back at her.

On the other hand, Anis, encircled by documents at the central research desk, was almost unrecognizable in her shimmering elegance. Although she seemed fresh as if just at the beginning of her shift, she had incredibly been working two consecutive all-nighters.

This was the result of her dedication while being the sole assistant in Claire’s understaffed lab.

Anis managed everything, even the trivial tasks not her own – to the point where one might confuse who was the professor and who was the assistant.

‘As expected… External scholarship students can’t be relied upon.’

Meanwhile, Anis sighed as she flipped through the paperwork.

Unlike Anis, who worked directly as Claire’s chief assistant, it was difficult to expect a sense of belonging from the scholarly student workforce.

One must be careful in assigning important tasks to them, and even for minor ones, careful checks were necessary to ensure proper handling.

Third-year Yenika or first-year Clevius, nobody handled the paperwork cleanly. There was always something to nitpick over in these document-related tasks, though it might indeed be challenging at the student level… Still, Claire had foolishly expected the bare minimum.

Mostly, Anis had to redo the work. The only exception was Ed Rothtaylor.

The most worrying student, Ed, was expected to require close supervision by Anis. However, surprisingly, he required none.

If it weren’t for the concern over Ed and Yenika, Anis might have been more efficient attending elsewhere. Supervising someone who already did their job well was pointless.

The administration and practical handling of paperwork were without fault. Typical student workforce usually lacked experience and proficiency, often neglectful even in trivial matters.

But Ed Rothtaylor seemed not to simply dismiss problems but looked for flexible, solution-oriented approaches.

For instance, during a preliminary site visit for the exam, he didn’t just follow a checklist:

– “This entrance could be incorrectly used by students; we should block it off in advance.”

– “This pathway is too slippery. If it’s like this on exam day, we’ll have problems.”

– “The exam area is larger than expected. We should either reduce the scope or increase the number of magic stones hidden to adjust the difficulty.”

Ed’s practical problem-solving skills did not seem typical for someone born into high nobility.

This was unexpectedly startling. Pretending not to be surprised would be a lie.

“By the way, Anis, you were with Ed, right? How was it? Pretty much the same?”

“The same?”

“Hmm… you might not know, Anis. Ed was expelled, right?”

“I… I am aware of that.”

“Are you? Then, here’s a secret just between us… would you like to hear?”

Now slightly relieved from the overwhelming work, Professor Claire playfully proposed to Anis.

“That Ed, do you know where he lives? In the forest north of the academy. He built a cabin there, in the northwest corner of that vast forest, and lives alone…!”

“Really?”

“Yes. I followed him during the Ophelius Hall occupation incident… Umm… keep this a secret from Ed…!”

A top secret about Yenika’s unrequited love. Not even Yenika herself would casually share such a fact.

Anis swallowed and nodded.

“It turns out he built quite a sizable camp for himself there… complete with tools, a bench, fireplace, display stand, drying racks, a smoker… and nothing looks mass-produced. Unexpected craftsmanship for someone who does not appear inclined that way, right?”

“Is that so?”

“Plus, he’s even made contracts with spirits. Spirit affinity training is notoriously inaccessible; I’m not sure how he managed, but… he must have worked hard for it.”

Suddenly Anis saw a glimmer of the reasons behind Ed’s problem-solving abilities.

Surviving alone in the wild necessitates facing and resolving numerous practical problems – skills naturally acquired from overcoming day-to-day challenges.

Nobles, cocooned in comfort, could never achieve such practical sensibility – an underrated skill, but Anis knew its worth all too well.

“So when Anis followed Ed, it seems quite fitting. You two share more than you think, right?”

“Me and Ed? Well…”

“Sure. Have you seen the progression in Ed’s grades? Want me to show you?”

“Aren’t students’ grades not to be disclosed to others without consent?”

“Oh, right…”

Laughing it off, Professor Claire playfully twirled her hair.

“Anyhow, when I saw how determined he is, I got a real sense of it. Even Professor Glast cheered him on. In spite of the disadvantages, he lives and strives without complaint. Not everyone can do that.”

“It’s somewhat embarrassing to be spoken of in that regard…”

“Well…? But I think it’s quite impressive.”

After saying that, Professor Claire looked up at Anis.

Anis, now accustomed to the mountain of paperwork, maintained her poise despite the heavy workload.

Despite being a commoner, she often received compliments that were befitting for nobility, for good reason.

“Um… It’s flattering to receive such high praise, but…”

Anis, resting her chin on her hand, pondered. Before considering Claire’s high praise of herself, the assessment that rested in her mind was of Ed Rothtaylor.

Her recent reconsideration of Ed wasn’t simply because his past misconduct had been forgotten.

It would be difficult to extend a warm encouragement for a beautiful romance with Yenika based solely on a reversed evaluation.

Yet, upon engaging with him firsthand, there wasn’t a single fault to find. A robust boy – nothing more.

He did not seek recognition for his efforts, nor did he flaunt his hard work. Simply a man firmly carrying out his duties in weighty silence.

Reaching this thought, she wondered if he wasn’t just a truly decent man. Objectively, he wasn’t bad – decent looks, no arrogant demeanor, and Claire’s favorable reviews… To think his persona as a womanizer was all an act seemed even more unnatural…

Upon reviewing Ed’s behavior closely, there seemed to be a gentleness. Unintentional knowledge, but he also seemed physically fit, and the embrace suggested a surprisingly reassuring scent.

Without the typical student odor of sweat or musk after a day’s labor, it seemed he managed his hygiene well, likely to avoid inconvenience to others.

“…Anis? Are you daydreaming?”

Caught off guard, Anis inhaled sharply and shook her head quickly.

“No, just thinking about something work-related. Should we open the windows for some air? It’s a bit stuffy.”

“Hmm? Yes, let’s air it out. Just make sure the papers don’t fly away.”

“Yes, okay.”

Despite the mundanity, Anis gulped down her breath as if struck in the back of the head by a hammer.

No wrongdoing was committed. Just an objective observation…

Ed just made an assessment of the man, nothing more. He hadn’t thought that rating others was sinful, but a vague sense of guilt seemed to tighten around his heart, causing goosebumps to crawl up his spine. Why so? Anis wouldn’t bother to pinpoint that emotion exactly.

However, she doesn’t deny that she felt a certain special connection knowing that Ed resembled her. The hardships of a life lived with grim determination aren’t easily shared with just anyone.

Her friends from Sylvania, drunk on the romantic lives of young girls, were accustomed to lively and charming topics rather than heavy and gloomy stories.

The male students throwing themselves at Anis for her looks were no different. Most had never seriously reflected on life beyond the youthful troubles of being a student.

It wasn’t particularly a bad thing. A student’s charm is at its peak during their school days. Besides, it would be unusual to find someone serious and somber amidst the romantic-filled Sylvania Academy.

Only those who have faced it know that cold reality bites harder than the harshest winters.

Anis had revealed a slight hint of her genuine feelings to Ed, something she now tried to chalk up to a momentary lapse.

“Anis, your face is all red. Did you perhaps overdo it?”

Professor Claire’s words made Anis feel as though her heart was pierced by a knife.

She abruptly rose to her feet, approached a mirror to lift her bangs, and examined her face. Seeing her flushed cheeks and dilated pupils, she realized her situation and quickly sought to regain her composure by splashing her face with water. However, the cold sweat kept pouring.

But she couldn’t deny the truth.

Objectifying vague notions of feelings and emotions was Anis’s forte. Pretending ignorance was no longer an option.

Yet, was this emotion not still manageable? Discovering it early was, at least, a silver lining.

Emotions have stages, and if cut off before they develop, they can be neatly wrapped up.

While trying to calm herself, a remark by Professor Claire flashed through her mind:

– “And he even made a spirit contract on his own. You know, spirit resonance training has entry barriers. I don’t know how he did it, but… he must have worked hard.”

Indeed, there were entry barriers in spirit resonance training, and without the help of a high-level spirit practitioner, such progress would be hard to explain.

As for who might be the high-level spirit practitioner around Ed Rothtaylor, the answer was quite obvious.

Moreover, Ed mentioned camping in the northern forest, which is completely within Yenika’s territory.

The spirit Ed contracted would most likely be from the deep parts of the northern forest.

If the spirit that Ed contracted actually accompanied him or at least witnessed his time with Anis…

Anis swallowed.

“Since work is done, want to grab a snack…?? Should I bring something? What would you like…?”

Oblivious Professor Claire was insistent only on getting her tea brewed.

A comprehensive disaster.

*

The Faelover family’s ranch wasn’t enormous, but it was reputable within the town for raising high-quality livestock. This was largely attributed to the family’s values of thoroughness, harmony, and coexistence.

Being the sole daughter of the Faelover family, Yenika, had never been arrogant despite her exceptional talent.

Rather, it was her beautiful heart, filled with consideration and love for everyone, that shined brighter than her abilities.

– “Yenika is kind.”

– “There’s no one as warm-hearted as Yenika.”

The same was true even after moving to Acken Island.

Leading a life like a beloved storybook character, far from loneliness and surrounded by sincere friends, however, a life without worries did not exist.

Under the bright moonlit night, by the guardian tree of Merilda.

As Yenika trained in spirit resonance and looked up at the guardian tree, it was still lush and vast regardless of the season.

She sniffled lightly.

– “Yenika Faelover stands out among the junior year students for her recognition, popularity, and skills – truly an ace among aces. As a merchant, I may have financial ability, but natural charisma that draws people in… well, not everyone has that.”

– “Politics is all about taking sides, right? It’s crucial to win over those who are loved and supported by the students. Don’t worry too much. Since Miss Yenika always listens and trusts people with her inherently good nature.”

– “Still, respect her as a senior. It’s unlikely, but Miss Yenika might be feeling down. I’ve never seen her that gloomy, but just in case, refrain from upsetting her.”

Thanks to Lortelle’s sincere advice, Tanya felt as if she had gained an entire army.

Such a chance to converse with the actual power behind Elte Trade wasn’t common.

Tanya was initially puzzled by Zix’s unexpected reaction, but there was no time to dwell in confusion.

Next week was the entrance exam for the new student class allocation, then the break would end, followed by the student council presidency election shortly after the new term. It was time to start networking.

Eventually, she arrived at the great tree by the northern forest lake, known as ‘Merilda’s guardian tree.’

Though to Tanya, newly arrived at the school, it merely seemed like a large zelkova.

With a handful of servants, she had managed her way through the treacherous paths of the northern forest to reach it. For the chance of winning Yenika over, she was willing to endure much.

She saw the silhouette of a girl gazing at the zelkova. The girl, slender like Tanya, had pretty pink braids cascading over her shoulder.

The girl sent off a flame-made bat with a wave of her hand, seemingly having a conversation just moments ago.

To Tanya, with no spirit resonance skills, it seemed as though she was just stretching her arms.

Composing herself, Tanya called out loudly,

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you, Miss Yenika!”

With due respect in her voice, she greeted.

Turning slightly towards Tanya, Yenika seemed exactly as Lortelle had described.

Naturally kind and lovely, an idol adored by the whole academy. Perhaps the ideal senior Tanya had envisioned.

For Tanya, who had lived her whole life in a noble hierarchy, a senior who could genuinely interact outside those structures was nothing short of romantic.

The sense of warmth and relief seemed to alleviate all tension, and picturing her academic future, Tanya smiled gracefully.

“I’d like to introduce myself and chat… if that’s alright with you?”

After speaking with dignity, she looked at Yenika.

While she seemed exactly as imagined, there was a hint of gloom on her face. Was she troubled by something?

Still, Tanya had heard that Yenika always listened and trusted others.

“My name is Tanya Rothtaylor.”

As she introduced herself with a bright face, Yenika turned her gaze towards her.

Under the bright moonlit night.

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