The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 81

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Freshman Class Assignment Test (5)

Clevius.

It might be our fate to live in the gutter for the rest of our lives.

It would be unfair to say we are wrong for being born like this, but it may be wiser not to struggle in vain.

Even if it was not my intention, the blood on my hands will not disappear.

As your father, I am filled with despair.

I want to tell you that one day you will have a bright future and that the trials of now are merely temporary… that everything can be overcome with hope.

But comforting you with such honeyed words would only be escaping from reality.

So, I have no choice but to confront you with reality.

The likelihood of a grim and gloomy life is substantial. More often than not, the efforts won’t be rewarded.

You’ll likely spend your time longing for a ray of sunlight in an underground devoid of daylight.

But Clevius, I believe that even a life without light has its value. Even a life that seems like an endless cave can have meaning.

I’m not saying this to make you feel better. I’m certain the time will come when you’ll understand.

Living this life, you might resent the blood you were born with.

You will meet many who live radiant and glorious lives, lives that make yours seem like a gutter in comparison.

It’s only natural to feel deprived. Face that unfair and sad feeling head-on.

Forget the sentimental thoughts of why you must live and what meaning there can be in such a life.

Once you live like that, meaning will find its way to you.

I’m sorry I don’t have more to tell you. Still, I have no doubt that something of value will find its way into your life.

*

“I…I’ve lost…”

“Well done.”

As I shattered the student’s mana stone, I waved off a nameless junior who had come seeking victory.

Then, I sat back down at the altar to rest. My body was aching, and the ordeal was far from trivial.

That makes it the fourth one. The test for class assignment is nearing its end, but fewer students have made it here than I’d expected.

The toughest opponent was Joseph, who arrived first. And rightly so. His quick and easy passing through the illusion trials meant he was capable.

Those who struggled to make it here generally have skills that are somewhat lacking. But for a freshman, that level alone is quite impressive.

Students who came after Joseph were mostly stopped by Anis and Clevius. It’s a harsh task to face a nearly third-year honors student in magic and a second-year combat leader while exhausted.

Most have been weeded out by those two, and the few who did manage to get here either used escape magic to slip past or stealth magic to sneak in unnoticed.

They were students who opted for tricks over a frontal assault.

That kind of flexible thinking is commendable, but once they reached the altar, they were all stopped by me.

“Sigh…”

Among the new students, apart from ‘Wade’, the son of the northern border legion commander, the overall level is quite average. And Wade is in the combat department, not magic.

Of course, there are prodigies like Joseph and Agui, who stand out among their peers in the average grade level.

However, compared to the so-called ‘protagonist generation’… the current second-year students, the talent pool is significantly narrower. The protagonist generation was extraordinary, not that the new students are lacking.

“It turned out to be a rather simple test.”

As the test neared completion, I sat quietly at the altar, sighing deeply.

The Freshman Class Assignment Test is not part of the main storyline of .

For the protagonist’s generation, it’s merely an event they’ve heard about in passing.

Therefore, I couldn’t wholly predict how the Freshman Class Assignment Test would unfold from my standpoint. It’s difficult to know every detail.

That left one lingering question.

The disoriented Assistant Professor Claire having failed to adjust the difficulty level, resulting in no students qualifying for Class A.

Yet, among the new students, there must have been one with the strength to breeze through the test regardless of the difficulty.

Even Wade, who was poised to claim the position of top freshman, couldn’t be assured victory against such an opponent.

With the capacity to subdue whatever emerged from the purple illusion discs… For that person to not have made it into Class A is indeed an odd situation.

“…They probably didn’t want to stand out.”

That is likely close to the truth.

I sat quietly on the altar, catching my breath while looking up at the open sky. I had prepared extensively, but in the end, there was no need to use it all.

Hoping the test would continue smoothly, I quietly stayed in my place.

*

The first memory Clarice had as a saint was when she was baptizing the Vitis frontier earl of the Clorel Empire.

The sight of the changing earl, who bowed his head as if it were the most honorable moment in the world when a petite girl with holy water on her hands made the sign of the cross and placed a red silk cloth symbolizing divine service on his shoulder, imprinted on the girl’s mind.

Next came the Count of Cela, who guarded the manor by Sail Lake.

Then, it was the head of Rothtaylor’s house, Duke Crebin.

Clarice, appeared grown even for the title of a young girl, clearly remembered Duke Crebin, who knelt before her to express his reverence.

Since the man had been the only one among the noble families not baptized by the Telos Church, Clarice worried he might be hostile. Some were suspicious of his sudden support for the Church.

But to Clarice’s surprise, the duke embodied the ideal ruler at the baptismal ceremony.

Kind, dignified, wise, a man who understood the masses.

Not only Duke Crebin but also his accompanying family and servants exuded grace, and Clarice immediately grasped that this was what true nobility looked like.

Among them was the heir, Arwen Rothtaylor, sitting gracefully in the guest seat, always showing a serene and beautiful smile.

It was inevitable to think that this was what ‘the dignity of a lady’ meant. The Rothtaylor house, the empire’s finest, upheld all things with grace. Such were new experiences for the young Clarice.

Members of the Rothtaylor family were all dignified and profound. Surely, such an environment would shape any person to handle any ordeal with wisdom.

Before Clarice realized it, a bias of sorts solidified in her perception.

“Ugh, huff… huff…”

Tanya struggled to catch her breath and straighten up on the ground.

The ‘illusion disc’ trap that stretched from the middle of the mountain; even approaching it could make you instantly lose consciousness, falling into a trap of magical apparatus and forced to fight foes within illusions.

Since it was only a test, no physical harm came, but still, for a freshman with no real combat experience, facing various monsters or wild beasts—although mere illusions—was mentally grueling.

Tanya was no exception.

“Oh… huff…”

Leaning on a nearby tree, Tanya wiped the cold sweat off her body.

She could have been gutted by a goblin’s blade if she hadn’t swiftly cast ‘Wind Blade’ to subdue the goblin. A breeze through the belly would’ve been inevitable, though she wouldn’t have felt pain or taken actual damage… but her legs were still trembling.

As she neared the summit, various illusions assailed Tanya’s mind.

It wasn’t just once or twice but numerous encounters. There were times her fingernails embedded into her flesh or when she was caught off guard by bladed attacks.

Each time, it felt as though vitality was being siphoned from her. Just climbing the slope was becoming a tough task, and her mental state was strained.

“Look at this, please. A pine cone!”

“It’s so magical that a tiny thing like this, when planted, can grow into such a huge tree!”

“Wow! Look at these leaves; each one is a subtly different color. Is it because of the varying amounts of sunlight they receive?”

“Is this mushroom edible, I wonder… hmm…”

But the companion, unaware or uncaring of Tanya’s state, excitedly roamed around, as if on a field trip.

With all these illusionary magics lurking around, one would wonder how the girl could be so cheerful.

Especially since she seemed unaffected by the magical trappings, as per Tanya’s observation.

Tanya watched Kylie with curiosity, but saw no signs that she had cast any protective magic.

“I guess I just have a… unique constitution.”

“A unique constitution?”

Kylie, noticing Tanya’s bewildered look, flashed a beaming smile and fumbled with her words.

“It’s complicated to explain and, besides, the test is almost over, isn’t it? Look there, we’ve hardly got any climb left. We should finish the test first!”

With weary eyes, Tanya gazed at Kylie.

All the way to the mountaintop, Kylie had been bouncing around gleefully, taking in the surroundings like a child on an outing.

Though she claimed to be there to assist in the test, perhaps her real desire was simply to wander the mountain.

“Tanya, you’re amazing… Truth is, with this level of difficulty, it’s surprising you didn’t give up already… like many others have. Hardly anyone is left, you know.”

“Well, I really want to get into Class A…”

Tanya brushed off her dress, stood up, and opened her chest with determination.

“If I lack the proper skills, I can’t help it, but I have to try everything I can! Giving up is the most shameful thing!”

“Is that so? Even if you don’t make it to Class A, Tanya… you are already so lovely and noble. Kind-hearted, and you even have some magical prowess.”

“Oh, you know how to flatter, don’t you? While I appreciate the compliment, that’s not enough for me.”

Tanya took a deep breath and boldly proclaimed,

“The moment you lose the will to improve is the moment you completely stagnate as a person…!”

“That… that’s true…!”

“Kylie. You come from the frontiers, so you might not understand this, but high status and authority come with their own responsibilities and burdens!”

Kylie’s eyes sparkled as she clenched her hands and nodded vigorously. A sense of satisfaction swelled within Tanya.

After all… an antagonistic noble lady often has her followers.

They don’t do much of substance but echo the noble lady’s voice, forming a semblance of a faction.

Tanya didn’t consider such transparent hypocrisy the right way to act. But regardless of right or wrong, it felt good…!

The adoring eyes that lift and praise you as someone great… it’s unexpectedly not so bad!

“Indeed…! You are absolutely right..!”

“Uh…”

The urge for affirmation was particularly fatal for Tanya, who craved recognition. Kylie Ecknair… had an especially lively response..!

Strong reactions come from sincerity. This girl named Kylie truly empathized with Tanya’s long-winded speech about the weight of high status and responsibility.

… ‘Empathy’?

Tanya sensed a dissonance for a moment, but more pressing was the immediate challenge of the test before her.

“After all, having a diligent attitude in everything is really important. Seeing you, Tanya, makes me feel more motivated!”

“That’s right! Always make an effort in everything, and live a fulfilling life, then authority will naturally follow…!”

“Truly, people from the Rothtaylor family are so reliable and thoughtful!”

As Kylie clenched her fists tightly, nodding enthusiastically at Tanya’s words, Tanya felt a surge of pride for the grand standing of the Rothtaylor family. Suddenly…

– ‘You never even saw me as human, did you?’

– ‘So what are you going to do about it? What can you? Are you going to kill me? Now Arwen’s gone, and if you kill me, the successor title is yours.’

– ‘Go on, try it. Here, take this ceremonial dagger. Stab it into my chest. Here, I’ll give it to you… take it in your hand.’

“…Not everyone is like that.”

“What?”

Tanya was still in a state of confusion.

The image of Ed she had seen at the camp might have seemed reformed, but she couldn’t quite trust that his change of heart was genuine.

The terror that still clung to a corner of her heart was Ed Rothtaylor, the worst of rakes. It seemed impossible for such a man to so easily mend his ways. That deep seated belief did not fade easily.

“Not everyone is like that. Even the most prestigious families can produce rubbish… and unbelievable rascals, over time…”

“…Who are you talking about?”

At Tanya’s suddenly lowered tone, Kylie stopped mid-sentence.

The atmosphere turned gloomy, perhaps because Kylie thought it was her fault, and clumsily, she changed the topic of conversation once again.

“Anyway, if that’s what Tanya thinks, I will help Tanya however I can! Let’s enter Class A with heads held high!”

With clenched fists pumping in the air, Kylie quickly tried to lift the spirits of Tanya, her first friend of the same age, worried about upsetting her.

“But… thanks for cheering me on, but, what exactly will you help with?”

“Ah… Well, I actually have… a special skill. You’d be surprised if you saw it? Though, often times… I can’t control it…”

Kylie, beaming with a bright smile, made one wonder what could possibly make her so excited. Tanya could only heave a fleeting sigh.

*

“But why did Zix choose… to come specifically to the Department of Magic? Even if I belong to it, it feels like such a waste of your other talents.”

The Barony of Islan, situated next to the grasslands of the northern kingdom, is a land of archaeology that has produced many scholars.

Thus, despite being a relatively small domain, it still holds its own status among the nobility.

Elka Islan, a longtime acquaintance of Zix, now essentially his life partner, looked out the window of the swaying carriage.

He had come quite far from the continent’s southwestern island of Acken. The thought of seeing his family and vassals after a long time at his family home brought him joy.

Opposite the young lady sat ‘Lance of the Flora,’ Zix, quietly nibbling on snacks. He tilted his head curiously, looking towards Elka.

They had been exchanging idle chatter during the long journey, but the topic that had just come up was unexpectedly abrupt.

Zix was versatile in all fields, a true polymath.

Single-handed swords, greatswords, spears, javelins, knuckles, bows, bludgeons—he knew them all, and his knowledge of mid-ranking magic was nearing mastery. His alchemical knowledge was also outstanding; he had deeper insights than many students of the Department of Alchemy.

Further, most of his knowledge was ‘practical’ in nature, because he found purely academic knowledge hardly meaningful.

No matter the task, he produced top-tier results—a ‘complete person’ incarnate.

“Why so sudden?”

“If you had gone to the Department of Combat or Alchemy, you could have been the top student there. I feel bad as if you gave up many benefits because of me.”

However, in the Department of Magic, a legendary monster stubbornly occupied the top seat.

The enormous wall that is Lucy Mayrill isn’t someone you could challenge simply because of outstanding skills or proficiency in knowledge.

Although she seems idle like a corpse idling around the academy due to her lazy disposition, if she sets her mind to it, she could become a student with the best grades ever, beyond just the top of the grade.

Zix looked at Elka, who was giving him a worried look, and smiled wryly.

“I don’t put value in such things. It’s okay, Elka. Don’t mind it too much.”

And with that, Zix added.

“And I wouldn’t have been able to be the top student even if I was in the Department of Combat.”

With a deep breath, the hand holding the sword started shaking.

Clevius knew it himself – no matter if he held the sword again, he would never be able to ‘go wild’ as before.

The beastly nature that he had castrated would never come back, no matter what.

Instead, the horror from slashing through people left a lasting mark on his heart, causing nausea.

Clevius was guarding the altar’s southern entrance.

Not a single freshman had managed to break through the south entrance of the altar.

“This… X—Argh….”

The twentieth freshman lost to Clevius’s swordplay, thrown out by the sheer force of the sword alone.

The new student pinned to a nearby tree shook violently in terror—clearly offended by the overwhelming power difference.

But Clevius was shaking just as much.

“Just… if you’re going to… try… please… don’t…”

Sweat dripping like rain, Clevius relaxed his grip on the sword. It had been a while since he had fought like this.

Wielding the sword brought up unpleasant memories. He had lost his senses then, but the memories remained intact. The sensation of cutting through flesh still lingered at his fingertips.

The sword rolled on the ground, its hilt kicking his toes.

“AGGGGH-!!”

Clevius collapsed, his legs giving out.

“Huff… Hah… Hah… Really… What’s… happening to me… Ed… Ed Rothtaylor…! That damn guy…!!!!”

It was Ed who had come up with this idea.

Swept up by the atmosphere and without refusing, Clevius had to find someone to blame nonetheless.

Suddenly, Clevius felt a surge of rage over his own miserable condition.

A gloomy and bleak person by nature.

Unable to overcome the blood he was born with, nor the trauma that followed, always complaining and leaving no room for likability—such a person.

Shabby and dull, just looking at him would make one depressed.

A premature baby. A murderer. Sword demon. Disgrace to the family. Defective. Mutant.

Only when he had become numb to all the insults that always followed him did he finally escape to Sylvania. But even here, he was treated the same.

If he had to live such a miserable life until the day he died, what was the point?

“Oh my, there’s still a trial left.”

Just when he thought everything had wrapped up, there were still guests left.

The placement of arcane magic supplies at the altar was nearing completion. Standing at the entrance to the altar, far across from Clevius, stood two girls.

One was a girl with neatly combed, fiery golden hair. The other one had brown hair that reached down to her waist, giving off a somewhat cozy appearance.

One of them was unknown, but the other one was recognized. She was the miss spoken of from the Rothtaylor family, newly admitted.

“Yeah… Huff… I might be a bit tired but…”

Clevius Nortondale lived a life in the shadows.

He will probably spend his life wallowing in filth.

What about Tanya Rothtaylor? Showered with favor from a prestigious family, she would lead a brilliant life.

If you simulate the kind of life you’d lead until the day you die, the contrast is enough to make one surge with anger again.

Clevius picked up the sword again.

Cursed blood, neglect from his family – either way, life so far had shown no promise.

The words of his father, who irresponsibly assured the worth of such life, were no longer effective.

“I’m sorry, but… I’m… not in a good mood…”

He steadied his breath and rose to his feet.

Grinding his teeth, the blade he drew was suffused with a ruddy aura. The cold air of winter created steam around his mouth, and the fierce glow in his bulging eyes turned towards Tanya and Kylie.

“Let’s finish this quickly.”

– Bang!

“Ah… Was the holy magic too strong…?! Are, are you alright…?! Oh, oh no, nothing’s broken, right?! I… I should have known better than to use something like holy magic that I’m not familiar with…!”

Clevius was knocked to the ground by the unforeseen impact from behind.

He didn’t even understand what hit him as he was pinned to the nearby tree. Only the startled voice of the girl with brown hair could be heard.

The world goes dark when the eyelids close.

Just before losing consciousness, Clevius lamented internally.

This life truly is dark and dull.

A life without worth is this miserable.

*

The light at the Altar of Galem began to fade.

Even the sun in the sky was slowly hiding its tracks.

20 minutes before the end of the test.

Most students had been subdued or had given up.

The general outcome of the exam had already been determined.

Ed, sitting quietly at the altar, looked at what was probably the last couple of guests of the day.

Tanya swallowed dryly. A familiar face.

Once a subject of fear, another time of hatred, now an individual too complex to summarize in one word.

Ed Rothtaylor sat at the altar in tatters, evidence of several fierce battles he must have fought.

Sitting slowly in front of the glowing pillar on the altar, his breath steamed up and disappeared into the air.

His opponent too seemed quite tired. Tanya realized that she was in a rather advantageous situation.

“So brother is…. the last exam.”

“I won’t say much. Give me your mana stone.”

Peeling his backside from the altar, Ed stood up lightly and drew a dagger.

In one hand, he held mana drawn from the mana stone.

The mages of the Rothtaylor family are mostly distinguished in fire magic and wind magic. It was a family trait, and Tanya was no exception.

However, Tanya’s command of magic was at most basic level and her skills were immature. As a mage, she was simply average among the new students.

Without her combat capabilities, she definitely couldn’t qualify for Class A. All she could do was try her best.

“Brother, you mean… That man…? From the Rothtaylor family…?”

Standing by her side, Kylie looked back and forth between Ed and Tanya. Then, a mix of emotions played across her face as she noticed Tanya’s frightened expression.

The setting sun. The red sky. At the high altar, a figure with a dagger in one hand and mana in the other looked down.

The expression wasn’t visible due to the backlight from the sun, but the cold gleam of his eyes through his hair alerted them that he was watching.

– ‘Not all of them are like that. Even in prestigious families, rubbish people emerge over time… and so do outrageous brats…’

It was then that Kylie realized. This man was the rubbish brat Tanya had mentioned.

Not knowing what Tanya endured from this man, but seeing Tanya, who was always confident and dignified, panic so… She simply couldn’t imagine him as a good person.

Kylie braced herself and looked at Ed.

His neatly rounded golden hair was singed and disheveled after consecutive battles. The sleeves rolled up on his shirt were full of burn marks, and his trousers were covered in dust from rolling on the ground.

The dagger he drew was a decorative one, but it had been used for so long it bore signs of daily life—albeit the blade was meticulously sharpened.

Kylie had a peculiar fantasy about noblemen.

Especially those from esteemed families like the Rothtaylor.

Impeccable appearance with accessories adorned here and there; a warm, accommodating smile; and elegance in every gesture.

If she imagined the prince on a white horse she might encounter someday while roaming the world… Certainly, he would be that noble and elegant man.

A romanticism that any girl of that age might entertain once. Even more so for Kylie, with her exceedingly limited experience with men.

However, the appearance of someone who seemed the exact opposite of her ideal man… Kylie was frankly terrified.

Strictly speaking, it was someone quite the opposite of her ideal man.

“Tanya.”

Finally, the boy uttered her name. Both Tanya and Kylie stiffened for different reasons, bracing for the boy’s inevitable declaration of battle.

“I’m sorry, but can you just go back…?”

A response that defied expectations.

The boy was already too battered to want to fight further. He was utterly exhausted.

“Still, if you’re coming… then come…”

He sat down again at the altar, gathering his mana above it.

The test was nearing an end anyway. There was no need to conserve mana stones any longer. Ed invested all the remaining mana stones from the altar into his spirit summoning ‘Hyunhyun (顯顯)’.

A monument bigger than a house’s beam.

At its top, sat a wind wolf wrapping its tail around the monument, opening its wide maw.

– Whooshhhh!

“Ahhh!”

An unbearable gale blew. Even the summoned high-ranking wind spirit could cause people to fly with just the gale blown during its manifestation.

Tanya and Kylie grasped nearby stone structures to withstand the fierce wind with difficulty. As the wind gradually subsided, they could finally look up at the top of the monument.

The creature was as big as a house. Its majesty was akin to the storm itself.

Behind Ed, who sat at the altar, the giant wolf looked down at the girls through gaps in the storm, its maw dripping saliva, and its eyes glowing with blue spirit energy, full of uncontained mana.

It was a sight beyond conceivable reality. The pinnacle of incompetence now summoning what?

With clenched teeth, Tanya looked at Kylie.

As she looked at Kylie to ask if she was alright…

“I’m just going to leave,” declared Kylie, trembling and tearing up while still holding onto the column.

But weren’t you going to help until the end?

Tanya couldn’t bring herself to press on.

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