The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 74

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Surviving the Winter (7)

“The surplus magic engineering supplies have been sorted. You can pick them up if you speak to the store staff. Also, we’ve managed to source most of the materials you listed, except for the legendary crafting ingredients. It’s difficult to procure them, especially during winter. Twilight Sand for the ‘Delheim Hourglass’ is hard to come by this season, and there are no available ‘Gluckt’s Eye’ Fulan mountain crystal orbs on the market.”

It seems like we’ve got an estimate for the crafting formulas that can currently be researched. Devices like the ‘Grapple Hand,’ which can pull objects from a distance, ‘Craegl Magic Ink’ that increases magical inscription efficiency, and ‘Illumination Orbs’ that serve as lighting are manageable without Lortelle’s assistance.

The issue lies with magic engineering goods of rare grade or higher. While research could lead to their creation if materials were available, ‘Very Rare’ grade items or higher start requiring magic. Some processes involve directly imbuing or removing properties.

The primary crafting goal was the ‘Lightning Struck Millennium Staff,’ a ‘Very Rare’ item needing magical inscription, but currently, I can’t use magic.

“There are other methods, but they’re quite troublesome, so it’s a dilemma.”

Seeing Lortelle, he looks quite tired. It’s the end of the year. Regardless of the era or setting, the year-end is a hellish time for those in business. They must wrap up the year’s work, settle accounts, plan for the next year, all while handling the onslaught of regular duties.

“I know you’re busy, and you even took care of my request. It could have waited.”

“I took care of it while I was at it, so don’t worry too much. Uh-huh.”

Stretching his arms with an air of nonchalance suggests he was working in his office right up until coming to camp.

Sitting across the campfire, Lortelle, who seems to have lost some energy, slightly lowers the corners of his mouth. The fleeting smile suggests he’s quite fatigued.

“Coming all this way just to relax, and even teaching me stuff. It’s not a short distance.”

“I came to relax, so don’t worry.”

Closing his eyes and sipping the herbal tea, he looks utterly at ease.

A few snowflakes quietly settle down. I wrap up the books I was reading and place them under the tent.

The moon smiles. The once full moon now leaves only traces. Time flies by when you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle.

The sound of flowing river water has also stopped at some point, and looking over the campfire towards the riverbank, thin ice has formed.

Even the river, thought to flow year-round, has entered hibernation, and the camp is swiftly enveloped in silence.

Sitting alone in the winter night camp, it feels as though time has stopped.

This silent moment comes fairly to everyone, but how it’s received varies. To me, this winter is a time to regroup, rest during the vacation, and a trial to protect myself from the severe cold.

But for people like Lucy and Lortelle, transcendent from such concerns, this winter’s silence probably doesn’t mean the same.

Surprisingly, Lucy and Lortelle, seemingly different in every possible way, share something fundamental. It’s not anything grand; rather, it’s a feeling most people bear quite commonly.

Different in form, but most people carry loneliness in their own ways.

And winter’s emptiness aggravates that loneliness annoyingly well.

Those who’ve walked alone through the quiet streets of winter nights know the sensation of traversing a sleeping world reinforces one’s solitary state.

Winter has that kind of magical power. Not a particularly pleasant story, but true.

“You’ve had a tough time.”

“Actually, there’s a lot more to talk about.”

Lortelle speaks in a calm tone.

“Why is Lucy sleeping there?”

“It’s winter.”

“Does that answer the question?”

Shrugging, I draw a sigh from Lortelle as he takes another sip of his herbal tea, then looks at Lucy with a contemplative gaze. He mutters about her possibly overreacting, then smoothly changes the topic.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have come all this way just to talk about magic engineering supplies.”

“Is there something else?”

“Oh, pretending not to know?”

Lortelle smiles wryly, gathering magic in his hand. A considerable book materializes above his palm, floating in mid-air – unmistakably the ‘Sage’s Manuscript.’

“I’m the senser for this book.”

“Oh, you went through with the bid.”

“That’s right.”

His fox-like grin while stirring the campfire made me wonder, recalling a detail I’d forgotten amid the rapidly changing situation after collapsing from overwork.

I had implored Lortelle, promising to fulfill any request if he bid on the Sage’s Manuscript for me.

“It turned into an interesting story, didn’t it?”

The sly smile as I rub my forehead. After all, it was my own words.

“Of course, I’m not foolish enough to burden Ed with a task so immense it’s difficult to fulfill… but as a merchant, it’s only right to recoup the investment.”

“What kind of grand request are you planning?”

“Just take my side.”

Dissipating the manuscript with a swirl of magic, Lortelle looks down across the campfire.

“Take your side?”

“It’s just intuition… but I feel a significant turning point in my life will come before I graduate.”

Why bring up such a topic now? Ultimately, it’s winter’s doing.

Talking under the crescent moon, Lortelle seemed almost otherworldly.

“Politics is about choosing sides. Perhaps there will come a time when everyone living here must make a binary choice.”

“What kind of absurd assumption is that?”

“Think of it as an absurd assumption and hear me out.”

Though labeled absurd, it’s not entirely so.

Lortelle has a sense of what’s coming.

A destined rival awaits him.

The Princess of Benevolence, Phoenia Elias Clorel. Ascending to the student council president in her second year, she dominates the academy and unveils the shadows of the Rothtaylor family… essentially, the main character of Act 4.

“If that time comes, please take my side. That’s all I need.”

The showdown between Phoenia, expanding her role from Act 3, and Lortelle is not for me to decide. Ultimately, it’s Taely’s choice of side that will determine the winner.

“My support might not mean much, but…”

“I don’t think we’re going to lose.”

“Right. Senior, although your reputation within the academy has improved a bit, in both political and non-political terms, your support won’t likely lead to any significant outcomes. After all, you are just a student.”

“It feels strange hearing it put so bluntly.”

“So what? It’s not about whether or not it has political significance.”

Lortelle chuckled and continued the conversation.

“It’s just… it’s a matter of whether it matters to me or not.”

“That’s not too difficult to manage.”

The remnants of the crescent moon still shone brightly enough, casting a dim light over the camp.

I was taken aback by the sight of Lortelle’s face illuminated in the moonlight.

Teasing and probing into the other’s thoughts with a bewitching smile is a common practice for Lortelle.

However, seeing such an innocent smile was a new experience… Indeed, she could be called a girl with a thousand faces.

“I’m pleased.”

She said this plainly and swirled her mug gently, quite befitting of Lortelle herself.

“There is one more message I have left to convey to you.”

The time at camp was mostly spent discussing various matters and the state of the world.

Despite this, they claimed to feel rejuvenated and well-rested, which seemed odd, but since they said so, I remained silent.

“In fact, this is the main point.”

It was frustrating having the main topic brought up only when it was time to leave.

“What is it?”

“Senior Ed, you have a younger sibling, right?”

With a bright smile, the conversation continued, giving me a headache.

“Your younger sibling seems to be grinding their teeth over various issues. I wasn’t sure if they really see you as the enemy of their house or if it’s just a slight grudge born out of sibling rivalry, so I left it alone. Honestly, it was kind of cute… “

“Tanya?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Lortelle stood up, dusted off her clothes, and grinned.

“Well… I did take some light measures, nothing too serious. I just introduced her to some people around the academy to feel out the atmosphere.”

“…Is that so?”

“She plans to go around today and come find you tomorrow morning to give you a piece of her mind… Since Tanya is your sister, you know her well, right? Does she truly resent you that much?”

She asked a little more seriously.

“If she really does, I think I may need to reconsider my position.”

I didn’t respond immediately, just rubbed my chin in thought.

It was a matter that required deliberation.

*

The early morning sun was blinding.

Given that it was vacation, there were no classes or academy scholarship student duties to attend to.

I thought about sleeping in but decided to get up early to make the most of the day.

Unlike the night, the northern forest felt lively with the sun up.

The chirping of sparrows and the rustling of leaves in the light wind were soothing to the ears, a change from the silent night forest.

“…”

Lost in the freshness of the morning air, Lucy emerged from the cabin following in my steps, staggering and sleepy, almost like a doll.

During the break, the rules of Ophelius Hall seemed to relax, and it felt like we spent more time at the camp than in the dorm.

Our days consisted of napping, going out to eat, eating together, occasionally reading books, and taking walks.

From my perspective, there was nothing to complain about. At least during the winter break, Lucy’s magic was of great assistance, so it was preferable for her to stay at the camp. I didn’t want to over-rely on Yenika.

“Could you start a fire?”

Lucy, still bleary-eyed at the entrance of the cabin, lit a campfire before the sentence was even finished. She then slumped over to the other side of the fire and curled up to lie down.

Apparently suffocated by the cabin’s air overnight, she had come out for a breath of fresh morning air.

After stretching my limbs, I brewed a cup of tea and sat by the fire.

Sinking into the morning atmosphere, an important realization hit me.

– ‘Since Tanya is your sister, you know her, right? Does she really resent you that much?’

I gulped dryly and took a deep breath.

As I’ve mentioned before… I don’t know…!

Ed Rothtaylor of exits as a third-rate villain in the first act of the first chapter.

I can only speculate about his life while living in the Rothtaylor residence.

Given the hapless and bewildered Ed Rothtaylor, it’s hard to believe he lived a decent life.

It’s highly likely, even certain, that Tanya Rothtaylor genuinely hated Ed Rothtaylor. What she might plan to do or how I should respond is still unknown.

I have no idea what terrible things Ed might have done to Tanya while they lived in the Rothtaylor residence or the extent of her grudge.

Up until now, my knowledge of the future has served as a solid basis for judgment, but for this case, that reliable future knowledge is worthless.

I must adapt on the spot.

“Sigh…”

Once more, I exhaled and washed up, combing my fingers through my hair.

This was undoubtedly a tricky situation.

“What’s the use of worrying?”

At that moment, I saw a figure walking in the distance.

A young girl accompanied by several servants. Even from afar, the figure bathed in the morning sunlight breaking through the forest was clear.

Her wavy golden hair was memorable—a color all too familiar to me.

Bright golden eyes and a confident stride were exactly as I had seen in the third act.

I simply sat at the camp’s chair and watched the approaching figure without moving.

Tanya Rothtaylor.

The biological younger sister of the body I now occupied.

Our relationship was unknown, so I had to remain still. By staying put, I could at least avoid making things worse.

Tanya’s sharp gaze stopped in front of the camp. Silence enveloped us for a moment.

She scanned the camp’s surroundings before turning her intense eyes towards me.

Slowly, she opened her mouth…

“Oh, it’s been a while… Brother…”

A servant beside her took out a neatly packed tie pin as a gift.

“I, I brought a present since we haven’t seen each other in so long…”

“…?”

I smoothed my lips and looked again at Tanya.

She diverted her gaze awkwardly, seeming somewhat afraid, or perhaps embarrassed… It was as if she had seen something daunting.

At the very least, Tanya didn’t appear to harbor deep grudges.

Then, I was able to come to a conclusion.

…Yes. That’s it…

Well done… Ed Rothtaylor…!

It seems you had a sufficiently solid life while at the Rothtaylor residence…!!

Sorry for jumping to conclusions…!! I… was unaware….!!

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