The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 78

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Freshman Class Assignment Test (2)

Dean McDowell felt himself relaxing a bit in the laid-back academic atmosphere that prevailed over the school. Sitting at his desk in his office in Triss Hall, this aged gentleman stretched grandly before poring over the pile of documents again.

Even during vacation, academic administrative reports were less than half of the usual volume. Though the reduced workload was preferable, the painful reality of his position requiring work during the break was lamentable. McDowell often wished for a minimum quality of life guaranteed, despite the seniority that often leaves little room for complaint about workload.

“Today is the day for the freshman class assignment test, isn’t it…”

He scanned the submitted reports from the professors responsible for class assignments in the Combat, Magic, and Alchemy departments. The locations and contents of their exams varied, yet each provided reasonable grading criteria.

Particularly intriguing was the Magic department. Professor Glast’s oversight had always governed its class assignment tests. The academy trusted his discernment entirely, leaving all matters in his capable hands.

But now, Professor Glast was absent. How would the Magic department assess and distinguish new students’ abilities?

McDowell found this transition quite interesting. The new point person for the test was Claire Elfin, Glast’s protégé. Rumors about her were so frequent among the academy elders that they bordered on tiresome.

By all accounts, she must have saved a nation in a past life; her fortune with people was said to be otherwise inexplicable. Regardless of whether they were mentors or disciples, only the finest talents seemed drawn to her. One wonders if she’s blessed with a fate that attracts people, or simply that none around her are dispensable.

Such luck is the envy of any faculty member, and McDowell considered her a person consistently blessed beyond reason.

“Hmm…”

He pondered whether she truly was so fortunate. Flipping through Elfin’s department roster didn’t clarify his thoughts; if anything, it made him feel ambivalent.

Assuming there must be a reason, McDowell signed off on the documents.

[Research Office Roster Report – Assistant Professor Claire Elfin]

Office Senior: Claire Elfin

Leading Assistant: Anis Haylan

Academic Scholarship Personnel: Yenika Faelover, Ed Rothtaylor, Clevius Nortondale

*

“This isn’t good… Ahaha…”

Sitting atop Orun Mountain, Assistant Professor Claire Elfin sighed with worry. In front of the altar lay six or so damaged magical engineering devices.

“It seems the circuits are twisted from an external shock. They’re dead even with magic infused. This will require a separate repair request from a professor of magical engineering. But there’s no time for that now…”

‘Illusionary Disks’

These were rare magical engineering devices capable of drawing opponents into confusion with illusions of all sorts of beasts and demons.

The plan was to scatter dozens of these devices as traps on the path leading to the summit. While it wasn’t a big deal that six or so had malfunctioned since many other disks remained, it was frustrating that the most important ones were the ones to break.

“The most crucial disks had to break… This is a headache.”

The violet disks Anis had been carrying were different from the others.

They were made with intricate circuits and powerful magic… meant to serve as the final challenge in the class assignment test.

While ordinary disks might produce illusions of wolves or kobolds, the violet disks would spawn formidable demon races and beasts.

As far as I knew, the majority of first-year students were quickly subdued by the gray bears, red blood gargoyles, and banshees that emerged from these disks.

When later questioned by the academy, Claire answered innocently and terrifyingly, “Huh? Isn’t overcoming that what A-class is all about?”

Despite her apparent naïveté, as Glast’s disciple, she was cruelly decisive when it mattered. One could not judge her solely on appearances.

“No choice, then. With only two violet disks left… I’ll just have to proceed with the test. We’ll have to place them where paths overlap to compensate.”

She seemed nonchalant, but she knew all too well this was not a favorable situation.

As the coverage of violet disks diminished, the test relied more on luck.

Students who inadvertently avoided the violet disks would pass easily, while those with greater potential, but unfortunate enough to trigger one, would fail quickly.

“How did we manage to get all this here, only to end up not using it?!”

Clevius’s gloomy appearance complemented his despondent attitude as he desperately ruffled his hair.

“Wow, seriously! After all that trouble! How could this…!”

He held his breath mid-sentence upon noticing Anis sitting quietly in a corner near the altar.

Anis was the cause of the issue.

She had insisted on carrying the important magical engineering devices herself to prevent loss, but ended up dropping them.

While they looked sturdy on the outside, anyone unfamiliar with magical engineering might not realize how sensitive the internal circuits were and the degree of care needed in handling them.

Claire’s nonchalance was also problematic. She assumed Anis would handle everything properly, leading to negligence.

“I’m sorry. I should have been more mindful.”

“No, it’s…”

Clevius broke off, sweating profusely, his head bowed. Rubbing his fingertips, he silently grumbled, “How can I be angry when she looks so apologetic!”

The mood dampened instantly. With Claire, Yenika, and Clevius silent, I decided to speak up.

“Standing here won’t fix the broken devices.”

Clearly, the situation was dire.

I knew from the main narrative of “Academy’s Failed Swordsman” that it was precisely these violet disks prepared by Claire that had frustrated the first-year students.

The details of the actual class assignment test were known to me only as distant news since I wasn’t well-informed about the specifics.

However, I doubt such happenings occurred in the original story.

Anis dropped the crucial devices because she was startled by my close presence.

Considering that, one can easily foresee the subsequent events.

If the significantly lowered difficulty of the test leads to an influx of A-class passers…

This will affect the upcoming ‘Joint Combat Training’ event.

Freshmen driven by the desire to become the premiere A-class students surge at Taely. Taely effortlessly overpowers these new challengers while Saint Clarice observes with interest.

The entirety of this narrative structure risks unraveling.

Not only that, if the freshmen’s class assignments are thrown into disarray, all the ensuing incidents and interpersonal relations will also venture into uncharted territory.

Of course, not everything can be perfect. Some minor issues can be resolved, but this level of distortion is too significant to ignore.

*

When does one feel the most immersed in the realm of learning at Sylvania Academy?

If you asked Tanya, she’d say it’s when she has the honor of interacting with her noble peers. Specifically, Saint Clarice.

It is said that the virtues of learning trump societal distinctions, allowing even those exalted as spiritual pillars to walk the halls of the academy as equals.

Few have seen Saint Clarice and those who have often glimpsed her from afar amidst crowds.

Millions recognize her as the spiritual cornerstone of the Telos faith.

Publicly, Clarice always wore her radiant white holy garb, inspiring reverence and genuflection wherever she went.

Yet, here she was, draped in the same Sylvania school uniform as the rest, a surreal sight that made one question whether she rightfully belonged among them.

Her regal demeanor remained undiminished even in standard attire.

Her nearly white blonde hair cascaded to her waist, and her still, crimson eyes were unsettling. Aside from a large red butterfly-shaped hairpin, her appearance was devoid of accessories, but she dazzled nonetheless.

At Orun Mountain’s base…

Awaiting the start of the test, the gathered Magic department freshmen stood frozen.

Practicing Telos followers dropped to their knees. Prominent figures from the Rothtaylor clan—who had undergone Telos baptisms—were among them, and Tanya quickly lowered her head in reverence.

“You may dispense with the formalities for my sake,” said the young, yet clear voice.

“Tending to every etiquette would only make life at the academy burdensome. Please, for my sake, be at ease with your courtesies.”

Despite Clarice’s request, most were reluctant to raise their heads.

Tanya Rothtaylor was the first to do so, her status putting her in the rare company of those comparable to Clarice.

“It is an honor to meet you, Saint Clarice. I am the future head of House Rothtaylor, Tanya Rothtaylor.”

“Oh, the Rothtaylor. Your patriarch Crebin received baptism from me. I hardly remember it; I was too young at the time.”

“It’s an event our house holds in high esteem.”

Tanya, known for her assertiveness, respectfully abided by the decorum, a shock to her classmates. She seldom bowed her head or deferred to anyone, but before the church’s saint, even her character softened.

“I’ve heard about your eldest daughter, Arnen. Though belated, I offer my sincere condolences.”

It was Arwen, not Arnen, but Tanya didn’t correct herself. Doing so would only awkwardly strain the conversation.

Given Clarice’s responsibilities to a multitude of noble houses, expecting her to remember every scion’s name would be too harsh. It was fortunate enough for her to recall as much as she did.

In any case, within Sylvania Academy, only Princess Pheonia ranked on par with Clarice.

“I’m honored you remember and offer your condolences. I’ll receive baptism when I come of age.”

“I look forward to it, Miss Tanya.”

Their exchange eased the tension as other students began to relax. Though meeting the saint was a remarkable event, the immediate focus was the class assignment test at hand.

The Combat sector met in the student plaza, the Magic sector at the base of Orun Mountain, and the Alchemy sector below Obel Hall.

While each department differed in meeting points and test content, their goal was uniform.

The aim was to be assigned to Class A.

Over the years, under Professor Glast’s test administration, the prestige of Class A soared tremendously.

The eager…

The members of Class A, even at a glance, were not ordinary students. Lucy, Lortelle, Zix, Aila, Adelle… More than half were considered aces of well repute.

In addition to such status, Class A students received additional benefits.

Tuition was fully waived; they were entitled to reside in the esteemed Ophelius dormitory admired by the entire academy, and they had free access to most student welfare facilities.

Whether they coveted that distinguished honor or the tangible benefits, a spot in Class A was irresistibly desirable to any newcomer.

Indeed, all the freshmen who had gathered at the base of Orun Mountain shared these aspirations, with most yearning to join Class A for various reasons.

“The signal is the flare of magic at the peak of Orun Mountain, if I recall correctly…”

Muttering to herself, Tanya gazed upward through the crowd to the mountain’s summit.

With the magic flare as the signal, the dispersed magic stones hidden around Orun Mountain would begin to be imbued with various types of magic.

After utilizing their resonance abilities to locate a magic stone and offering it at the altar at the peak, one passed the test.

The type of magic stone found, the time taken, and the approach to overcome were all criteria for scoring, so haste was advisable.

After all, these were freshmen of Sylvania.

Not all were of noble pedigree—many were prodigies of exceptional talent across diverse fields, and just as full of scholarly ambition.

Restricted to the magic department alone, plenty of notable freshmen were present.

The Holy Maiden of the Telos Church, Clarice; Tanya of the Rothtaylor family; Agui, the successor to the Rokin mercenary group; Joseph, the youngest researcher of the Tog Magic Power Association; to name a few could go on forever.

All eyes were focused on the peak of Orun Mountain.

The edge of the altar, barely visible from below, seemed remarkably high.

*

In the Nortondale household lives the Sword Demon, so the long-standing rumor goes.

Losing his sanity meant no distinction between friend and foe. He would pierce eyes with daggers, rip out jaws barehanded, tear flesh, and shatter bones.

Any weapon in hand meant an unstoppable frenzy of tearing flesh and reveling in the spurting blood.

Even within the esteemed Nortondale lineage of unparalleled swordsmanship, it proved difficult to turn that boy, ridden with an inner demon, back to humanity.

Despite attempts to appear normal, without sanity, his surroundings turned bloody. Flashes of red in his eyes, he would slaughter everything around him, an ethical concept like ‘morality’ having no place for such a monster.

He knew swordplay without ever being taught, and within just two days of awakening to magic, he began wrapping his sword in mana.

His talent as a swordsman was undeniable; as a human being, however, fundamentally the opposite.

Even the family head, Evian Nortondale, in the end, gave up on him.

The Nortondales knew well that Clevius Nortondale couldn’t help the demonic nature he was born with.

To suppress the demonic force within, it was necessary to sever him from his innate power.

Rumors of a blood-crazed Sword Demon, the disgrace of the family name, and the pressure that such a monster was troubling everyone haunted Clevius since childhood. The label of a monster thus trailed him throughout his life.

His shattered self-esteem turned him into an ominous being, yet at least he was no longer living as a blood-crazed monster.

Holding a sword no longer brought joy. Instead, he felt fear that his power could kill something. Given the choice, he’d rather flee than fight.

The learned fear consumed him from within, his depleted self-worth having become a constant.

“You’ll have to wield the sword.”

Words spoken by Ed Rothtaylor.

At the peak of Orun Mountain, the ‘Altar of Substitution.’

The members of the Claire laboratory congregated to share their opinions. Among them, Ed Rothtaylor lost deep in thought, suggested to ‘change the content of the test.’

“The final altar will be defended by us. If the newcomers can break through the altar guarded by seniors, it means they’re qualified for Class A. It’s a fitting reason, and besides, historically, members of Class A have always been stronger or more capable than the seniors above them.”

“So we’re to take on the ascending freshmen directly…? Then who’ll supervise?”

“There’s no need. The supervisory system mainly exists to prevent cheating, but if we become the very problem they must overcome, there’s no reason for supervision. As for safety, Yenika can probably handle it all by himself.”

Orun Mountain was too vast to be covered by a single person, but for Yenika, proficient in flight magic, safety checks might be manageable, if not detailed cheating supervision.

“But… The test content has already been reported to the academy. Proposing changes now would be…!”

“We can re-report, Anis. Just minor adjustments to the documentation and re-submission.”

“Are you suggesting we carry out the test first and then report afterwards? Wouldn’t that violate the school rules?”

“If we run to report now, it’ll be timely. The authorized reporter… Professor Claire, that is.”

With those words, all eyes turned toward Professor Claire.

Though the suggestion came from Ed Rothtaylor, ultimately the decision lay with Professor Claire.

“Oh… Uhmm…? To write up the report now and re-submit… am I to be burdened with more work?!”

“Is it not possible?”

“If I scurry back to the laboratory and quickly review the copies… I might pull it off just in time for the exam results…”

Claire hummed in deep thought before asking Ed.

“For sure, maintaining the test as is could oversimplify it, leading to an excess of Class A qualifiers… that would stir up quite the aftermath… But on the flip side, even with you guys defending the altar, are you sure you can face all the new students?”

“Precisely, we won’t face everyone. We only need to deal with those who have found the magic stone and broken through the illusion enchantment field.”

“If they’ve made it through all that, they must be at least a bit capable, right?”

“Most will be too exhausted to go further. It should be manageable, I think.”

Without the purple disc, breaking through a mere illusion disc field would still be exhausting enough.

At the center of the gathering, Ed washed his face with dry hands once again. Brushing his wet hair back, he took a deep breath and laid out the plan.

“In summary, while Professor Claire rushes to report with the updated documents, Senior Yenika will dash off for student safety supervision, Clevius will defend the southern entrance of the altar, and Anis will take the north.”

“What about you, Ed?”

Upon Anis’s inquiry, Ed casually touched the altar.

“I’ll guard the altar. I’ve thought things through, and believe I’d be more useful here. There’s not enough time to explain in detail.”

After this agreement, silence fell among the group once more.

Ed’s alternative seemed reasonable enough.

Anis was the top student of the Elemental Department, and Clevius was the de facto chief of combat.

True, it might be difficult for the two of them to stop all freshmen who had broken through the enchantment field. But, given the exhaustion of the newcomers, the majority could likely be managed by them.

Yet, there was no guarantee things would go according to plan, and the fact that Ed intended to remain at the altar troubled him.

“This mess is my responsibility… I won’t voice any dissent.”

Anis readily expressed her decision.

Professor Claire pondered before gradually siding with Ed, and Yenika showed no particular concerns.

That left Clevius.

The focus of everyone’s attention now turned to him.

“Ah… Oh…. Agh…!!! Seriously…!”

Clevius didn’t trust Ed Rothtaylor. But with the consensus pointing in one direction, even Clevius found it hard to be stubborn.

“Fine…! I got it…!”

Swiftly descending the mountainside was Professor Claire.

Yenika Faelover, awkwardly gathering her magic to hover slowly.

Anis Heilan, gathering her elemental magic and moving north to block the entrance.

Clevius Nortondale, unsheathing his sword with evident reluctance to defend the south.

With everyone gone to their respective tasks, the silence returned to the ‘Altar of Substitution.’

Only the occasional rustle of the wind disturbed the stillness, aside from which there was no noise.

Left alone, I took a moment to look up at the altar. The huge stele was so tall the writing at its peak wasn’t clearly visible.

Surveying the surroundings, the panoramic view of Acken Island from the mountaintop unfolded before me.

The professors’ building to the southeast, the residential area to the southwest, the northern forest, the northeastern cliffs, and the coastal area at the easternmost edge.

I took a deep breath of the highland air, then reviewed the enchantment objects scattered on the ground.

————————————————– [ Enchantment Object – Illusion Disc (Purple) ]

“Very rare” grade.

A disc device that reveals the illusion of a formidable foe powered by the creator’s mana.

Crafted to a higher standard than regular illusion discs, it can reveal a stronger enemy.

Construction Difficulty: ●●●◐○

※ This enchantment object is damaged. It does not perform to its full capability.

—————————————————

There were six of these.

My enchantment skills are still too rudimentary to fully repair them, but perhaps, by reassembling the internal parts well enough, I could at least achieve an output close to the original design.

If time was needed, Anis and Clevius would provide it.

I laid the discs down and returned to the altar.

‘The Altar of Substitution.’

A mystical altar capable of extracting mana from any substance offered to it and allowing the mana to permeate the atmosphere and body.

I took out a small leather pouch from beneath the altar. Professor Claire had brought it, filled with the same material as the magic stones scattered and hidden around Orun Mountain. It seemed to be the remainder that was scattered elsewhere.

While these magic stones, filled with a considerable amount of mana, are quite valuable, it seemed adequate supplies were provided—anyways, most could be retrieved via recovery spells.

I took a stone from the pouch and offered it to the altar. The sensation of flickering mana lingered at my fingertips—a feeling I hadn’t experienced in quite some time.

Concentrating, I saw something resembling a flaming bat spirit.

The paltry mana within was insufficient, the bat sprite seemed to be trying to communicate, but I couldn’t hear it clearly.

The mana embedded within wasn’t as satisfactory as the price suggested.

After checking the quantity of magic stones left in the pouch, I sat on the altar.

The sight of Acken Island was breathtaking from beneath the gleaming altar.

I relaxed a bit, propping my elbows on my knees. In that comfortable position, I sat silently and once again gathered my thoughts.

A test for assigning new students to classes, unforeseen crisis management, maintaining differentiation, keeping an appropriate number of Class A qualifiers… I’d made all the plausible excuses but, regrettably, that was not where my interest lay.

Frankly, I had no intention of allowing even a single freshman to pass this test.

Regretful as it may be, it couldn’t be helped.

I utilized the ‘light cluster generator’ enchantment object received from Professor Claire to discharge a burst of flash magic into the sky. It was the signal for the start of the test.

There I sat, in front of ‘The Altar of Substitution’ on the peak of Orun Mountain, quietly gazing downwards.

The wind blowing down from the peak… seemed somewhat more than just a natural breeze.

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