The Rebirth of the Hero’s Party’s Archmage chapter 42

Episode 42

I was able to return to school on Sunday evening. As soon as I got back, I headed straight for the dormitory bathroom. My coat and shoes were a mess with mud and dust from my nearly three-day journey, but compared to Pippi’s appearance, it was nothing. When I poured warm water over her with a magical toiletry tool, Pippi fluttered her wings and wiggled her bottom joyfully.

“Wow, look at all this dirt. Pippi, when was the last time you had a bath? 200 years?”

“I don’t know, don’t know, don’t know.”

The body temperature of Sun Parrots, which carry flames within them, is about 5 degrees higher than humans, so they enjoy bathing in hot water, Frida had told me. It must have been a luxury she hadn’t experienced even once while waiting for me; at best, she just got wet from occasional rain showers over the course of hundreds of years… That thought made my heart heavy again.

“From now on, I’ll only treat you to luxury. I’m the heir of a renowned family in the Empire. We’re swimming in money.”

“Corn, corn, corn.”

“Corn? Hey! If I wanted to, I could buy you an entire cornfield. Heh heh.”

“Heh heh, heh heh, heh heh.”

“Heh heh heh.”

“Heh heh heh, heh heh heh.”

“Heh heh heh heh heh heh.”

“Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh, heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.”

After exchanging such devious (?) laughter with Pippi for a while, I sensed someone’s presence outside and returned to my room with Pippi wrapped in a towel. As soon as I dried her off a bit, she flew around the room, exploring, and then perched on the bookshelf, shaking off the water contentedly.

“Sorry, is it a bit cramped? Just bear with it for about three years. Once we return to the mansion, I’ll build you a private greenhouse.”

“Greenhouse, greenhouse, greenhouse.”

“How’s that sound?”

What good is high status if not used generously?

Thinking this way, I changed into lighter clothes, placed Pippi on my head, and left the dormitory.

“We’ll be confined soon due to curfew… Let’s buy you a cage next weekend.”

“What about now? Now? Now?”

“We need to get you registered.”

The destination was the university’s administrative office. To legally keep Pippi at the school, there were procedures to go through.

“You intend to register this… as a messenger bird?”

In , messenger birds refer to avian species used by mages for communication. Unlike the common folk who use pigeons or crows, mages typically employ owls with high magical sensitivity for their messages. That’s why the administrative staff gave Pippi a curious look, which wasn’t surprising.

“This one here might not look it, but she has incredibly high intelligence. Pippi—oh, I mean Peach, mimic what this person just said.”

To avoid any issues, I decided to change Pippi’s name to Peach, and I also went by the name Rain instead of Lyn.

Perched on the office desk, Pippi bobbled her head to a rhythm.

“Oh, how adorable.”

An office clerk covered her mouth in admiration, but Rain shook his head.

“Impressionism, not dancing.”

“Corn, corn, corn.”

“Are you going to keep doing that?”

“Corn・Corn・Corn.”

“No, this bird… she’s really good at talking; she’s doing this on purpose, you know?”

The staff looked at Rain with pity as an unexpected awkwardness flushed his face red.

‘Pippi, are you turning me into some silly doting fool on purpose…?’

The clerk smiled warmly, yet expressed concern.

“Registration is certainly your prerogative… but isn’t this too dangerous?”

“Why is that?”

“If it’s just a parrot, it might get eaten by the owls. They are birds of prey, after all. And parrots usually don’t have the magical sensitivity to properly function as messenger birds.”

An owl flew into the office building at that moment—it wasn’t a student’s bird but one used officially by the school.

As the bird perched on the desk, another clerk began retrieving a letter from a capsule tied to its ankle. The owl fixed Pippi with an intimidating glare, though Pippi was at least three times smaller; Sun Parrots were significantly smaller compared to other parrot species.

But Pippi met that insolent gaze and, with indifference, unfurled a wing.

Whooosh───!

A beautiful arc of flames emerged from her wingtips, forming a shape in the air. The sudden heat startled the owl, causing it to fly away hastily as the office staff’s mouths dropped in awe.

“A parrot using magic?”

“No, could it be… a Sun Parrot?”

“A Sun Parrot? That makes even less sense.”

It really didn’t make sense. Sun Parrots were a mythical species so rare that even across two continents their population numbered less than a hundred. There was a family in the Empire known for systematically breeding them and gifting them as companion birds to their descendants—the Duran Grand Ducal family of the North, bearing the phoenix as their family emblem.

But that was only possible because the Duran had been breeding Sun Parrots since the Tersia calendar era…

“Yes, she’s a Sun Parrot.”

“How could that be? Where did you get her?”

Rain smiled slyly as the staff’s eyes gleamed, each one eager to touch Pippi.

“Just picked her up in Red Mountain Range by chance.”

It was no lie, after all.

The staff didn’t ask further; they knew that with the Ludwick family’s wealth from Richland, it was possible to acquire a Sun Parrot, assuming one was on the market…

“So, does this settle the registration?”

“Of course! Have you filled out everything necessary?”

“Come here, Pippi… I mean, Peach. Let’s go.”

Truly a parrot of overwhelming intellect, Pippi immediately flew onto Rain’s shoulder. She tilted her head affectionately when he glanced at her.

‘Pippi is by my side.’

Just that fact brought a smile to my face as I returned to the dorm.

Perhaps the three-day journey was more taxing than I realized. As soon as I returned and relaxed, fatigue washed over me.

I attempted a few math problems at my desk but ultimately collapsed onto my bed.

“Pippi, can you turn off the lights?”

As consciousness began to slip into darkness, the room went dim, and a warm body settled next to my face on the pillow, collapsing in a human-like manner next to me.

It was Pippi.

Rubbing my face against Pippi’s head, treasuring her warmth, I fell asleep.

“Good night, Pippi.”

“Good night, good night, good night, Lyn.”

That night, for the first time since awakening from a long sleep, I didn’t fall asleep alone in solitude.

* * *

Monday morning, I got up with stiff movements and donned my school uniform, maintained by the dormitory caretakers.

From the moment I awoke to when I was ready, Pippi continued to sleep soundly on the bed. It was my first time witnessing her sleep longer than me.

‘She must have been tired…’

For over 200 years, she had not had a single day of rest, constantly on guard for intruders. I quietly closed the door to avoid making noise.

Leaving the dormitory, I headed for the Dragon Wheel Hall, where the exam results would be announced in the auditorium.

Yawning and dragging my feet, I encountered an unexpected figure amidst the cherry blossoms swirling in the courtyard.

“Good morning—”

“It’s Thane, Sir Thane.”

With his tall and handsome appearance accompanied by a gentle smile, it was Associate Professor Kyle. As he was heading to the main building, after giving some instructions to an assistant, he approached Thane.

“Your face still seems to hold the fatigue from the exams, are you okay?”

Thane was somewhat puzzled, but bowed his head as a gesture of respect as a student. When Professor Kyle smiled broadly, a breeze picked up, and the cherry trees in the courtyard swayed refreshingly.

“The student council activities might just start today. Hmm, I’m really looking forward to it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“What else? Student council life, of course.”

Student council?

Is the student council starting its activities?

Thane was indifferent not knowing what it had to do with him, but nodded anyway. Kyle chuckled.

“Amongst peers, there’s no one who can match you, Sir Thane. You know this best, don’t you?”

“…”

“Fortunately, there’s a senior who might just stimulate you, sitting in the position of the student council president.”

“Student council president?”

“Yes. I hope you both become a great stimulus for each other. That’s bound to happen. I have a good eye for people, you see.”

Kyle grinned and patted Thane’s shoulder in encouragement before turning away.

‘I’m really looking forward to it.’

If my teacher had been healthy the year before last, he would have supervised the exams himself, and he would have given that child extra points.

‘The meeting of such talents, truly, I can’t wait.’

Watching Kyle’s retreating figure with curiosity, Thane cocked his head and then set off towards the Dragon Spirit Hall.

When he entered the auditorium, Logan waved at him from the back seats on the right. The other Chaighark student sitting beside Logan bit his lip in what looked like shock.

As Thane took the seat next to him, Logan spoke with an excited voice.

“To receive an S grade in all the midterm exams, you’re truly impressive, Sir Thane.”

“There are three others besides me.”

“The important thing is that you earned an S grade from Lilian, of all people! With this, you might actually become an officer in the first-year student council.”

“Student council? Come to think of it, Professor Kyle mentioned that earlier. What does that have to do with me?”

Logan cocked his head as if to say, ‘don’t joke,’ and then he began to explain.

“The reason the midterm exams in the first semester of the first year are important is because only the top student gets the eligibility to become an officer from the first year… Most student council presidents have followed this route.”

The student council was comprised only of the most promising students – only those who made it to the ranking were eligible to become officers.

There were only two chances: the positions were offered only to the top scorers of the midterms and finals of the first semester of the first year.

If the top scorer was already an officer, then the chance would go to the runner-up. In this way, the student council was composed of two members per grade, a total of six members.

“Is that similar to a club? Do I have to do it?”

“…Do not understand?”

“Sigh, it’s annoying to have more work to do.”

“If you don’t join, it’s outrageous! So many students are struggling to get into the student council. You’ll draw public anger if you talk like that!”

It was the first time Thane had seen Logan this agitated since the magic war, which made him blink in slight embarrassment.

“Is that so? Sorry, I didn’t realize it was so important.”

Not long after, as all the students had taken their seats, the university chancellor Madelia Page stepped up to the podium.

Following her, five assistants entered, carrying a gigantic placard that they began to post on the wall. Despite the immense advancements in magical devices, always adhered to the traditional method of announcing grades.

Soon, as the grades were publicly posted in order of ranking, sighs of dismay leaked out from various parts of the auditorium. Strangely, however, only the top five names were recorded on the placard.

“What’s going on? My name isn’t there.”

Gertrude was in eighth place, Logan was seventh, and Wiber was sixth, while Lilian Karain was fifth. But above that, there were none. No other names were listed.

Thane also looked toward the lower rankings. It appeared that as many as 33 students had been expelled, as the rankings only listed up to the 200th place.

Then, Chancellor Madelia Page solemnly opened her mouth.

“Attention, I will now announce the names of the top four students from the first to the fourth seat of this midterm exam.”

Nora Ledon.

Krista Warden.

Cayden.

Thane Ludwik.

“Those whose names have just been called, please come up to the podium.”

As the students gasped, the three stood up each with their own distinctive style.

Krista rose nobly characteristic of nobility, Nora playfully, and Cayden seemed somehow elegant, as if there was a melody flowing from his movements.

Logan gave a thumbs-up in support to Thane, following the three competitors onto the stage.

‘This is… interesting.’

It was an exam evaluated at a basic level, so he hadn’t felt much tension, but now that he was in this situation, his heart was pounding strongly.

Was this feeling one of enjoyment?

When he climbed onto the podium and stood next to a guy named Nora, he could only hear his own heartbeat pounding in his ears.

“Now, I will read out the evaluations of the professors who graded the bonus points for these gentlemen.”

Chancellor Madelia Page unrolled a scroll.

“These four students, having received S grades in all of the midterm exams, have proven their unparalleled excellence in magical skill, understanding, and knowledge.”

“…!”

“However, even among such excellence, there’s a student who has pushed further ahead, a student possessing the potential to carve a future in magic, and to whom the highest score has been awarded.”

Thane tilted his head.

The future of magic? What does that mean? Chancellor Madelia unfolded the scroll.

“What demands of its top student is not just excellence or superiority, but uniqueness. The special nature of being a gem that shines unparalleled among many raw stones!”

“…!”

“Such brilliance qualifies one to lead other students, the one with the right to be called the top student──!”

With arms folded, waiting behind the stage, Professor Kyle smiled broadly.

“You seem in a good mood, Professor Elin.”

At that, Elin, who had been grinning, suddenly dropped his smile and gritted his teeth in feigned anger.

“I’m not happy at all. Can you imagine how annoying it is? Just thinking about how much further that kid might climb makes me nauseous.”

You still can’t be sincere, Elin. Your lips are twitching.

The two had been rivals for first and second place during their school days at , with their teachers being the then dominating figures of the magical world, Skalzi and Marhena.

Of course, Elin was a disciple of Skalzi, and Kyle of Marhena. Eventually, Kyle won and achieved first-class honors…

“Is that so? That’s different from me.”

“Why?”

“I’m in a very good mood. Perhaps I’m witnessing a historical moment that will be written in the grand annals of the future.”

“What are you talking about?”

“That right here and now, for the first time, the future of magic is about to be revealed to the world. Will the headline read something like this?”

As a hush of anticipation fell over the crowd, Chancellor Madelia Page’s eyes scanned the four students before pointing to one of them.

The boy had shiny black hair.

The boy had eyes redder than blood.

The boy had once been called a disaster, mocked across the nation with the epithet of a cursed noble. The boy’s name was, unequivocally.

“──Thane Ludwik, the top student of the 1388th midterm exams!”



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