༺ On the way to the capital ༻
The history of Philion Academy went back so far that it could be traced to the founding of the Empire itself.
The name “Philion” was even derived from the name of the founding Emperor, which demonstrated the depth of its history, the quality of its education, and the fact that there were few educational institutions of such scale not only in the Empire but across the entire continent.
Naturally, not just anyone could hold the position of dean at such a prestigious academy. Heinrich was proud of his position.
Having devoted himself to education for around 30 years, he had been dean for a decade now. Even for someone as experienced as him, the contents of the document he was reading were enough to make his head spin.
This year’s new student roster for Philion Academy.
Imperial 3rd Princess, Elizabeth von Galateia.
Granddaughter of the Imperial Army’s Commander-in-Chief, Marian von Kalshtein.
Descendant of the Sword Saint, Gwyn Tris.
The youngest disciple of the Magic Tower, Oznia Hebring.
The eldest son of the Empire’s Prime Minister, Schultz von Vallier.
Just at a glance, there were too many headache-inducing names. But Heinrich, an experienced educator, wouldn’t have been so troubled if the students were only from the Empire. The problem was the names that followed.
First Prince of Al-Kamil Kingdom, Saladin Al-Kamil.
Descendant of the Great Warrior of the Plains, Batar Koon.
Elf Princess of the Great Forest, Titania El Illendrin.
Heretics, immigrants, and even other species? It was impossible to predict what kind of problems would arise when so many people from such backgrounds gathered in one place. Rather, the issue was that there were too many problems to consider.
Sending heirs from other countries and ethnic groups to the Empire was a very complex and sensitive issue that could be seen as holding them hostage.
If the Empire had not become an overwhelmingly powerful nation after the last great war, and if there hadn’t been a general atmosphere of peace across the continent, there would have been no occasion for so many important figures to enroll in the academy at once.
Many people internationally were happy that the future leaders of the continent were gathering in one place to build friendships and develop relationships, believing that this would ultimately contribute to the peace of the continent. However, from the perspective of the dean who had been saddled with this ticking time bomb, it was an utterly miserable situation.
In Heinrich’s eyes, this list appeared as nothing more than a time bomb with an unpredictable countdown.
“What should I do with this…?”
Since the enrollment had already been decided, there was no turning back now. No matter how much he looked at the document, the contents wouldn’t change. As he stroked his white beard and sighed deeply, a bird suddenly flew into the room through the open window of the dean’s office and dropped a letter onto the desk.
It was a Juggler, an artificial spirit often used for communication throughout the empire. Its appearance, with its entirely black feathers and a single red feather protruding from its forehead, was very familiar. As expected, the letter brought by the Juggler was from an old friend of Dean Heinrich.
Although Heinrich was now deeply involved in education, he had also been a battle mage who had fought on the battlefield in his youth.
The name of his comrade who had faced death together with him on the battlefield was Kalbad von Kalshtein. He was a young nobleman at the time and is now the Marquis of Kalshtein.
Although their paths had diverged, one to the military and the other to the academy, their long-lasting bond had continued even after several decades. Receiving letters from his old comrade was not a rare occurrence. Heinrich thought that he probably wanted to send a letter of greeting, as his beloved granddaughter was enrolling this time.
Heinrich tore open the letter, wondering what kind of boasting about his granddaughter he would find, but the content of the letter was not what he had expected.
Inside the letter was the personal information of a soldier along with a document regarding a change of assignment. At first glance, it seemed unimportant, but as soon as Heinrich saw the name written in the document, his previously gloomy eyes lit up.
“No, no… Eon? Eon Graham?!”
Those nine letters were a name that anyone with power in the Empire could not help but know. A person more famous for his eerie nickname than his real name. One of the seven heroes of the continent who was revered by the entire nation after the war.
Startled by the unexpected name, Heinrich sprang up from his seat. He looked at the paper standing up, upside down, and sideways… Just a moment ago, he had wished the names would change, but now he desperately hoped that they wouldn’t.
No matter how much Heinrich looked, the contents of the paper didn’t change. As a result, the letter from Marquis Kalshtein, which was sandwiched between the documents and contained a small request, completely escaped Heinrich’s notice.
“Has this old man finally gone senile… Sending that stubborn guy here? Why?”
Heinrich couldn’t understand the intentions of Marquis Kalshtein, but from his perspective, it was unexpected good news. Just as he was about to significantly increase the number of professors and security personnel due to the headache-inducing new student roster, such a talented individual had rolled into the academy on his own!
Heinrich felt sorry for his old comrade, but once he had made up his mind, there was no turning back. Eon Graham, one of the seven heroes of the continent, was a talent he had to hold onto no matter what.
Then, a groundbreaking idea came to his mind about how to handle the headache-inducing new student roster.
When in doubt, it might be a good idea to gather them all in one place.
A city with a population of one million and a long history, it is the Imperial Capital. It is divided into 25 autonomous districts, each of which is roughly the size of a small city, making it the largest city in the Galateia Empire.
The roads and buildings are mostly paved with white marble, showing the majesty of the city during the day, and at night, the magic lights of the entire city emit a bright light, showcasing the city’s splendor. The nickname “City of Light” Shangria was given because it never goes dark.
…I couldn’t help but know this information because the coachman had been talking about it all the way.
“Here we are, almost there! Can you see it? The city in front of you is Capital Shangria!”
The unusually friendly and talkative coachman pointed to the city in the distance and said. I slightly adjusted the military cap on my head and checked the view outside.
Indeed, the city’s name was not in vain, as the white marble walls were clearly visible even from a considerable distance. The majestic scenery made the farmer couple, the bundle merchant, and the street mercenary who were riding in the carriage with me all exclaim in admiration.
I silently admired the approaching city and then turned my gaze away. At that moment, the coachman who was driving the carriage approached me with a sly smile.
“I see it’s not your first time in the capital?”
I pressed my military cap down firmly and shook my head.
“No, it’s my first time.”
“Ah, is that so? I thought you were a frequent visitor since everyone who sees the capital for the first time usually reacts like that.”
The coachman pointed towards the other passengers in the carriage. They were all gazing at the dazzling city walls, completely absorbed in their dreams.
Upon entering the capital, they talked about finding new clients, getting good commissions, and making a fortune….
Dressed in worn and shabby clothes, they shared hopeful stories with each other, as if everything would be resolved as soon as they entered the city.
The coachman muttered softly, just loud enough for me to hear.
“After the war ended, a massive amount of war spoils flooded the empire. Since then, people like them never cease to come. Those who see the capital as a land of opportunity… Well, they’re not wrong. The problem is that those opportunities are not equally available to everyone.”
The coachman’s voice sounded somewhat sarcastic as he said this, which was quite different from the friendly demeanor he had displayed while introducing the capital just moments ago.
“What brings you to the capital, sir? You look like a soldier… Have you come to see your family after a long time?”
I didn’t answer the coachman’s question and instead folded my arms, bowing my head. I didn’t feel like answering personal questions, and the warm sunlight and cool breeze made it the perfect weather for a nap.
“Quite a taciturn customer, I see.”
With no response, the coachman clicked his tongue and stopped prying. It was a relief for me. Talking to strangers was nothing but a nuisance, and the coachman’s questions had reminded me of memories I had long forgotten.
His mention of seeing family brought a certain face to mind. The image of a girl who left my side to chase her dreams instead of keeping the childhood promise we made.
Her fair skin, rare in the countryside, her delicate features, her lustrous golden hair. Her blue eyes, the color of a sea I had never seen, sometimes had a bored expression, but when she looked at me, she wore a bright and innocent smile.
In the past, just thinking about her face would make my heart ache.
Now, even when I thought of Ella, I felt nothing.
TLN: More chaps in a couple of days, you can look forward to it!