༺ I got a new job ༻
“Retire, you say?”
My expression remained unchanged, but the man in front of me adjusted his glasses with trembling hands. That didn’t change the words on the retirement request form in his hands.
“Can’t you reconsider?”
“I’ve already made my decision.”
“We were actually discussing your promotion with the higher-ups.”
I didn’t respond and maintained my posture. The man in front of me sighed and shook his head.
“Well, what use would a promotion be to you anyway? If that’s what you wanted, you would have come to the headquarters and worked under me a long time ago.”
“I wanted to stay on the front lines back then.”
“The war is over.”
The man with a warm, grandfatherly face was Marquis Kalshtein. He was a top-ranking officer in the imperial army and the Commander-in-Chief of the northern front.
Although he was a renowned and respected commander, feared by the Demon Army, he was more like a close friend to me. We had known each other since before he became old, before he was a Commander-in-Chief, and before he was a marquis.
Of course, that was in private. In a formal setting like this, and when submitting a retirement request, a mere soldier couldn’t treat the Commander-in-Chief without formality.
While I maintained my upright posture, my neck began to feel stiff, but Marquis Kalshtein rubbed his forehead as if he had a headache and spoke hesitantly.
“The imperial army still needs you.”
“That’s too much praise for a mere soldier.”
“A mere soldier? If you’re a mere soldier, then I’m just an officer. If we gathered 10,000 soldiers from the imperial army, would they have killed more monsters than you? Would those 10,000 soldiers be able to achieve even one of the feats you accomplished? I don’t think so.”
I just kept my mouth shut. Regardless of the truth in his words, I knew that responding to such an overestimation would not help my retirement request.
As expected, Marquis Kalshtein’s words seemed more like grumbling, and he put the retirement request form in a drawer and brought up another topic.
“So, where are you going after you retire?”
“I’m sure I can find a place to go.”
“From what you’re saying, it seems like you have nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, which is quite a relief.”
He spoke as if treating me like a jobless person. But he wasn’t wrong. I hadn’t decided on anything specific to do after I retired from the military.
Marquis Kalshtein fell into deep thought for a while. The slow movement of his hand as he stroked his chin was an old habit that appeared when he was pondering how to handle a situation.
Then, his gaze fell on a piece of paper that was placed at the very front of the stack on his desk. He opened his mouth as if he had thought of something.
I could also see the contents of the paper. It was boldly titled “Admission Guide.”
“How about this? Instead of signing this retirement request form, you sign another document. I’ll change your position and maintain your current rank.”
“If it’s for the headquarters, I decline.”
“It’s not for the headquarters. It’s for the academy.”
There’s only one place in the Empire that could be called an academy. The Philion Imperial Academy. A place where the best talents from all over the Empire and its ally nations and colonies gather.
“So, it’s Philion, where your granddaughter is enrolling this year?”
“That’s right. My lovely granddaughter, who’s so precious to me… Ahem! Anyway, you know her well, so I’ll skip the explanation. I need you to go to that very Philion .”
The fact that the Commander-in-Chief of the imperial army was a doting grandfather was well-known within the military.
It’s not like I wanted to know that.
Whenever the old man had a chance, he would sit me down next to him and talk non-stop about his granddaughter, how beautiful she is, how old she is now, and so on. I had no choice but to listen, even if I didn’t want to.
Speaking of the academy, what kind of mission could a soldier possibly undertake there? Surely, it wasn’t suggesting that I attend school at this age.
No, I didn’t want to hear it. As always, I had a hunch that listening to the explanation would only get me entangled in the commander’s scheme. My goal was to retire, so I opened my mouth to reject the offer, but Marquis Kalshtein quickly raised his hand.
“Listen first. As you know, it’s been 5 years since the war ended. We don’t need as many soldiers as we used to. Even the royal family is trying to reduce the size of the military. The army is a money-devouring monster, so they probably want to use the budget for post-war recovery and gain public support. People now want peace instead of the long-lasting war.”
“Good for them. I’ll be leaving now, too.”
“Listen to the end, would you? Does peace mean that no wars will occur? In times like these, it’s even more important to prepare for the future, in my opinion. And the future lies in the hands of the growing youth. You’ll be the one to educate them so that their talents can flourish, as an instructor at Philion Academy.”
Finally, I understood the meaning of the position change. Become an instructor at the academy and teach the students? Me?
A position as an instructor at Philion Academy was not open to just anyone.
Only those who could be counted on in their respective fields, such as active Royal Guards, elite magicians from the Magic Tower, and elite officers from the military, could take up the position. I didn’t think it was a position for an ordinary soldier like me.
“I don’t even know what I should teach.”
“I believe you can teach better than anyone else.”
“Are you talking about how to kill?”
“No. Teach them how to survive.”
It left a bitter taste in my mouth. All the actions I had taken to survive, the old wounds I had pressed down in the corner of my heart, they all bubbled up, crawling up my spine and evoking unpleasant memories. Each memory was stained with blood.
I calmed my mind. As the unwanted memories slowly sank back into the depths, my mind found peace, and I had a moment to think.
The biggest reason I wanted to retire was that the lingering embers in my heart had been extinguished. There was no longer a desperate need to do anything. I had been in the military for 20 years, which was long enough, and I thought it was time to do something else for myself.
Marquis Kalshtein had saved my life a few times, and his high praise, while undeserved, was honestly appreciated. I trusted that he wouldn’t be playing a cruel joke on me.
And if I became an academy instructor, I wouldn’t have to stain my hands with blood anymore.
“Then… I’ll give it some thought.”
“Go ahead! Think it over carefully and let me know. In the meantime, I’ll hold onto this retirement request.”
“Yes. I’ll take my leave now.”
I left the commander’s office with a salute in the imperial style.
Marquis Kalshtein watched Eon leave and let out a sigh, wiping the cold sweat from his forehead.
“Phew… That was a close one.”
Given Eon’s personality that he had observed so far, the fact that he said he would think about it meant that he was already half-accepting the offer.
If Eon didn’t have any thoughts about it, he would have clearly rejected the proposal outright. It was obvious just from how he had consistently turned down numerous invitations to meet his granddaughter.
In any case, leaving Eon, who claimed to be an ordinary soldier, as a mere retired soldier would be a great loss for the Empire and an act of treason to the Imperial family. In that sense, his actions today were no different from fulfilling his duty as an imperial soldier.
Marquis Kalshtein pushed aside the stack of documents on his desk and began preparing the paperwork for Eon’s position change.
If he gave too much time for consideration, Eon might change his mind, so he needed to have everything ready to go as soon as Eon uttered the words “I’ll go.”
Since the dean of Philion Academy was aware of Eon’s capabilities, there was no doubt that they would welcome him with open arms as an instructor, rather than reject the offer.
‘I should also write a letter asking to have my granddaughter placed in the same class as him.’
As the Commander-in-Chief of the imperial army, he couldn’t request admissions to the prestigious Philion Academy, but surely they would accommodate such a small favor as assigning an already admitted student to a specific class, wouldn’t they?
With the gift of a war hero, Marquis Kalshtein had no doubt that such a favor would be granted.
‘When a man and a woman are in the same space, even a stubborn guy like him will have some reaction!’
The empire would be happy not to lose a capable soldier, the academy would be happy to gain an outstanding instructor, Eon would be happy to find a new job instead of being unemployed, and Marquis Kalshtein would be happy to create an opportunity for his granddaughter and prospective son-in-law to grow closer.
This was truly a plan that would benefit everyone, like catching a pheasant and eating its eggs, draining a ditch, and catching a crayfish. No one would be at a loss due to this brilliant strategy, which was the ‘masterstroke’ of Marquis Kalshtein.