༺ Opal Black Class (1) ༻
Marian von Kalshtein had the nickname ‘Belle of the Social Scene,’ but she didn’t have a sociable personality.
This didn’t mean that she was uncomfortable mingling with others; rather, she wasn’t the type to actively lead conversations.
In fact, it made sense when you thought about it. Whenever Marian attended a party, everyone was eager to talk to her, so there was no need or reason for her to approach others first.
That’s why this atmosphere, filled with silence in the classroom, was extremely uncomfortable.
As soon as the self-introductions were over, Instructor Eon went straight to his room, and the others dispersed to do their own things.
So now, the only ones sitting in the lounge and participating in something resembling group activity were Marian, Schultz, Titania, and Princess Elizabeth – just the four of them.
It was unclear whether sitting still and watching each other can be considered a group activity.
The founding purpose of the Philion Royal Academy was to foster outstanding talent, but its educational philosophy was rooted in equality.
It provided the best education to talented youths without discrimination based on their social status or background, and raised them to become outstanding talents contributing to the Empire and the continent’s future. That is the purpose of Philion Academy.
Therefore, within the academy, all students were equal under the name ‘student.’ The academy prohibited any constraints due to social status, and students did not receive superior education just because they were royalty or inferior education because they were commoners.
Of course, if you truly mixed all the students regardless of the educational philosophy, there’s a high chance of problems arising. Just as a prince and a beggar would never understand each other, people of different classes had entirely different lives.
Students who have just entered a new environment needed time to bond and grow close, but can they really have a conversation if you put aristocrats and commoners, who have lived in completely different worlds until yesterday, in one place and say, “Now you are friends. You are equal, so get along from now on.”?
Take Marian as an example. Let’s assume she tried to have a simple conversation with the elf sitting next to her now.
It would be common to ask where the other person is from if they were an imperial aristocrat and then talk about the specialties and attractions of that region to expand the conversation…
“Oh my, hello. Where are you from?”
“From the Liniya Great Forest.”
“Ah… I see.”
It was obvious that this would happen.
Marian only knew that the Liniya Great Forest was located in the western part of the continent and that there were many trees there. As there were so many trees, it was natural for it to be called a great forest. Similarly, the elf would likely not know about the imperial culture or the latest trends.
That’s why Philion Academy created four dormitories, grouping students with similar backgrounds to give them time to adapt to the new environment.
But then, the question arises.
‘Why on earth am I here?’
She understood the purpose of Opal Black. Take Saladin, who was not present here, for example. He was a prince of the Al-Kamil Kingdom. With his noble status, he should have naturally been assigned to Diamond White, but Prince Saladin was neither from the imperial colony nor from the Empire. Typically, foreign nationals were assigned to Emerald Green.
Oznia is a commoner by status, but she has been raised in the magic tower since childhood as a disciple. Her life must have been far from ordinary, and she probably lived a life that would make many aristocrats envious. Could she adapt to Garnet Red?
What about Titania? As a member of another race, she would naturally be placed in Emerald Green, but the great forest was much larger than most countries. Being the daughter of the elf tribe leader, she was like a princess among humans. It was the first time since the academy’s founding that an elf has been admitted.
This year’s freshmen included a considerable number of students with ambiguous backgrounds. If there was only one such case, the academy would have let them choose the dormitory they wanted, but with so many, the academy’s intention to group them together was understandable.
Then, what about me?
Couldn’t I have just gone to Diamond White?
She thought she would have a comfortable and cozy academy life, surrounded by familiar aristocratic children, laughing and chatting, but she was quite taken aback when she found out she had been assigned to a new class out of the blue.
She wanted to request a dormitory change right now if she could. However, there was only one reason she couldn’t.
Marian sat on the lounge sofa, rolling her eyes without saying a word. At the end of her gaze, there was Princess Elizabeth, quietly absorbed in her reading by the fireplace where the firewood was burning.
If the Imperial Princess didn’t complain about the class, how could she, a young lady of a mere marquis family, say she couldn’t be here and move to another dormitory? It would be the perfect way to make herself disliked by the princess. Marian didn’t have the guts to do that.
So, Marian just stayed quietly in the lounge. She wanted to go to her room like the other students and rest comfortably by herself, but she was just breathing, unable to move or do anything while watching the princess’s mood.
And the instructor who should have solved this awkward atmosphere seemed to have no intention of coming out of the room.
‘Does he think he’s so great? Sure, he has a handsome face, but still!’
Didn’t he care whether the students got along or not, or did he not want to see their faces unless there was a reason? Marian’s already bad impression of Eon grew even worse.
At that moment, the calm-looking male student wearing glasses, Schultz, suddenly coughed.
The eyes of the students gathered in the lounge focused on him.
“We’ve finished introducing ourselves, but it’s still awkward. As we’ll be seeing each other’s faces for a long time, it’s uncomfortable to stay like this, so why don’t we try to have some appropriate conversation?”
As expected of the Prime Minister’s son! Marian secretly cheered. She felt a little sorry for thinking that he was a gloomy guy whose thoughts were usually unknown.
“Um… what would be a good topic for conversation?”
Titania, the only non-human in the group, asked with an awkward expression.
“Well, if we’re going to have a common topic, it would probably be the academy. Tomorrow is the entrance ceremony, so we could talk about the classes, or how about talking about our homeroom instructor?”
“Instructor Eon? He seemed a bit scary…”
“First of all, I’ve never heard the name Eon Graham before. Does anyone know him?”
Marian flinched slightly. She knew that Eon Graham was one of the seven heroes of the continent, known as the ‘Malevolent Star.’
But she couldn’t speak about him. Her grandfather had firmly warned her to be careful with her words, as Eon didn’t want his identity to be known.
Schultz seemed unaware of the instructor’s true identity. Titania, who had only lived in the Great Forest, naturally wouldn’t know either.
Could the Princess know? Marian cautiously glanced at Elizabeth with only her eyes.
It was difficult to guess the Princess’ thoughts, as her expression was no different from usual.
“He looks strong.”
Batar Koon, who was over 2 meters tall, entered the lounge with heavy footsteps.
He looked like he had just been running, with his torso drenched in sweat, and without washing, he plopped down on a nearby chair.
Marian discreetly moved to the next seat on the sofa. It was an attempt to distance herself from Batar even by a little.
Schultz, seemingly unaffected by the smell of sweat emanating from Batar or pretending not to notice, smiled with a gentle expression and said,
“Batar, have you been exercising?”
“Yeah. The training ground here is great for running. Anyway, that instructor, he smells like a strong one. I want to try fighting him.”
Marian barely held back the urge to shout, “The smell is coming from you!”
“Since he’s an instructor at Philion Academy, he must have considerable skills. Your Highness, is Instructor Eon perhaps from the Royal Guard?”
“Schultz, speak casually.”
Elizabeth closed the book on her lap and said.
“The academy is a place where outside status doesn’t matter. Now that we’re all classmates, I would like it if you spoke casually. Not just to me but also to other friends. Of course, it’s not a compulsion… Marian?”
Marian answered, startled. She was so flustered by suddenly being pointed out by the princess that her tongue got twisted.
“Will you treat me casually?”
“Yes, y-yep. Ah, no, uh… I, I will…”
She couldn’t refuse the request of the Imperial Princess. Schultz, who had been quietly listening, seemed to understand Elizabeth’s intention and nodded, speaking in a more casual tone.
“Considering our future, that’s the right thing to do. Then I’ll, no, I’ll also speak casually. Is that okay, Elizabeth?”
“Of course. And to answer your question just now, there’s no Royal Guard with the name Eon Graham. That includes even those who have retired.”
“I see. He didn’t give off the impression of a knight anyway. He looked more like a soldier. Who could he be?”
Considering he had to teach the royalty of their own country and other countries, the academy must have made a reasonable decision, and it was only natural that the homeroom teacher would be someone of a certain caliber.
As no one knew about the homeroom teacher, the students let their imaginations run wild.
Theories ranged from high-ranking nobles of the Empire (Schultz argued he would know if that were the case), a warrior from a foreign country, an adventurer from the continent, a top-ranked mercenary, and even the royalty of a fallen kingdom.
The discussions were not serious but rather half-joking, half-serious, meant to ease the awkward atmosphere, and the speculation grew increasingly absurd.
Although Marian knew Eon’s true identity and did not actively suggest opinions, she participated in the conversation, agreeing or disagreeing with some guesses.
The students laughed and chatted, gradually easing the awkwardness. As the atmosphere became more relaxed, Elizabeth, who had been silently listening to the conversation, suddenly spoke up.
“Do you not hear that sound?”
“Yes, I can definitely hear it.”
Batar immediately nodded, as if he had heard something. Marian, who hadn’t heard any sound yet, was puzzled and listened carefully.
Thud… thud… When she focused, she could hear something. It sounded like something shaking loudly…
Thud…! Thud…! No, it’s not just a sound. The building was actually shaking. The vibration was spreading as if someone was hitting the building. Thud!! Thud!! The sound grew louder and louder, shaking the entire building.
Marian was frightened. Confusion and caution were written on the faces of some students.
What’s going on? An attack? This is the middle of the academy, even inside the Philion Academy? An assassination targeting the royalty? A magical beast escaped from the laboratory? Or someone with a grudge against one of us?
That’s when Elizabeth abruptly opened the door and went out. No one had a chance to stop her. Batar followed her, and when the two left, Schultz and Titania also followed.
Not wanting to be alone in the break room, Marian hesitated before following them as well.
When they reached the lobby, the sound grew even louder. It was only then that Marian realized someone was banging on the door so hard that it might break, and she was worried it might actually happen.
That’s when Eon came down to the lobby. Fortunately, as one of the continent’s seven heroes, wouldn’t the instructor somehow handle whatever was outside?
Marian’s relief was short-lived as Eon strode towards the door without hesitation and flung it wide open.
Huh? So suddenly? What does he think is outside?
Marian was surprised when, as soon as Eon opened the door, a dark shadow rushed into the lobby with a thud. It would be more accurate to say it rolled across the lobby.
There, a boy wearing oriental-style clothes lay sprawled on the floor in a mess.
“Ah, ouch… I finally got in… Huh? I met you before!”
Eon sighed deeply and spoke.
“Gwyn Tris. You’re the last one to arrive.”