༺ The Empire’s Future (1) ༻
It had been less than a week since I became an instructor, and already several tasks had been added besides teaching.
Night patrol with Oznia.
Evening sparring with Gwyn.
Lastly, there was the student council advisor task.
During weekdays, students at the Philion Academy attend classes, and most spend their weekends freely.
Students sometimes go home on weekends or engage in self-directed learning, but most spend time enjoying club activities within the academy.
Today is the first weekend since the start of the semester.
It should have been the beginning of a leisurely day with birds chirping and flowers blooming, but unfortunately, my morning was not so relaxed.
It was because Marian suddenly came to see me.
“Instructor Eon. I have something to say.”
Judging by her bold intrusion into my room early in the morning, it seemed she was even more in need of a break than I was.
As usual, I asked bluntly.
“What’s the matter?”
“There’s a very trivial issue with the student council.”
“A trivial issue?”
“You know today is the first day of student council activities, right? We have to start everything from scratch, and only Elizabeth and I can do this. And both of us are struggling with our duties.”
Marian showed a weary smile.
“Do you know how many documents are needed to create a new student council? How many times I’ve been to the administrative district these past few days, and how many reports I have to write daily? Haha… I could really use a second body.”
It didn’t seem like a trivial issue at all.
I knew Marian had been very busy lately.
The student council is not an ordinary club but an organization with its own discipline and authority. Naturally, it cannot be created just by wanting to. A clear procedure and administrative process were required.
I, who had attended the faculty meeting as an agenda item for the Opal Black Class student council, knew this fact well.
The problem was that I cannot help with such tasks. I have no talent for paperwork, and I don’t know much about the procedure for creating a student council.
Instructor Lirya might know, but it would be awkward to ask for help with that.
Fortunately, Marian and Elizabeth, as members of high-ranking nobles and royalty, were proficient in paperwork, and Marian showed confidence that she could handle such tasks alone.
Thanks to that, I could trust and leave it to her, but it seemed that the limit had finally come.
Although I took on the advisory position half by coercion, an advisor is still an advisor. As an instructor, I couldn’t ignore the struggling students.
I nodded my head and said,
“What do you need help with?”
“Really? Are you going to help?”
“It looked like you needed help. Am I wrong?”
Marian’s eyes widened, and then she opened her mouth with a desperate expression.
“You’re right. I desperately need your help. Can you take Oz and Tanya to buy the necessary items in District 8? It’s too risky to send them alone. If you do that, I’ll save a lot of time.”
Oz and Tanya? Who are they?
Could she be referring to Oznia and Titania?
Considering the nuance of the words, I couldn’t think of anyone else but them. They formed a student council among female students, and they had already become close enough to call each other by nicknames.
Or maybe Marian just has an exceptionally good social life.
“I just went to check on her, and she’s not in any condition to get up.”
Marian spoke with a slightly cautious tone, as if trying to gauge my reaction.
“Perhaps she overdid it during yesterday’s training. I’m planning to let her rest today.”
“Oh, I see.”
Marian didn’t know about the conversation I had with Gwyn yesterday. She probably thinks that Gwyn exhausted herself practicing with her sword alone after class.
Instead of explaining that, I just gave a slight nod.
“Alright, go ahead.”
Marian’s face brightened as if she had just met her savior.
“Really? Thank you, Instructor Eon!”
I could feel that Marian was genuinely grateful.
She had been somewhat cold towards me when we first met, but now she seemed to have forgotten all about that, and was in quite a hurry.
It felt rather unexpected.
“You’re really dedicated.”
“Well, it’s something I decided to do, so of course I have to do my best. If I don’t, it’ll just hurt my pride.”
“Right. You’re doing well.”
Marian was surprised by my casual comment and stared at me with wide eyes.
I left the room to fetch Oznia and Titania, and I could hear Marian’s confused voice behind me.
“Huh? Did the instructor just compliment me? Does that mean the top student’s plan B is working? What? Really…?”
I had no idea what she meant by that.
I took the two people who were still in the dormitory and headed to District 8, the free market street.
The free market street is a commercial area where merchants from all over the continent, including the Empire, sell their goods. Ranging from massive stores to small street vendors, it was packed with various products from all over the continent, and naturally, it was also the area where the Merchant Guild’s headquarters was located.
If something couldn’t be found here, it was said not to exist in the Empire – that’s how comprehensive District 8 was, a huge market selling all sorts of goods.
As we left the academy’s main gate and got on the tram, Oznia maintained her usual calm demeanor. However, Titania couldn’t hide her excitement, looking like an overjoyed child.
“Wow, look at all those stores!”
As soon as Titania entered the bustling market of District 8, she exclaimed with wide eyes, as if she found everything fascinating.
“Oz! Do you see that? I’ve never seen so many shops in one place before!”
“It’s just a market.”
“A market? This is a market? Oh my gosh! I’m actually at a human market!”
Oznia didn’t seem to have the energy to respond and closed her mouth.
Titania was originally from the Liniya Great Forest and had never left the forest, so these seemingly trivial things felt fascinating to her.
On the other hand, Oznia seemed uncomfortable in such a crowded place and already looked tired.
I calmly asked Titania, who was excitedly exploring the market like a child.
“Is this your first time in a place like this?”
“Ah! Instructor Eon! I’m, I’m embarrassed…”
Titania bashfully smiled, twirling the tips of her leaf-like green hair.
“When I first came to the Empire, the forest elders were very strict, so I couldn’t wander around alone. That’s why everything I see is so fascinating. I’ve always wanted to explore a human city… But, since we didn’t come here to sightsee today, I suppose I should restrain myself, right?”
She seemed embarrassed that she was excited about Oznia and me being so sullen.
I thought for a moment and nodded my head, saying,
“It should be fine if we just look around casually. But don’t go too far away from me.”
“Wow! Thank you!”
I’ve often seen Titania taking care of Oznia or other students like an older sister in the classroom, but now that she’s outside, she’s showing her innocent, age-appropriate side.
Wait a minute. How old is Titania now?
Of course, elves live much longer than humans, dozens of times longer.
She entered as a freshman, so it’s clear that she’s eighteen like the other students, but I’m not sure if this is her actual age or a human-equivalent age for elves.
I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be right to judge elves by human standards.
While I was lost in thought for a moment, Titania had already forgotten my warning not to stray too far and had walked up ahead.
Titania pointed at the colorful trinkets displayed at a stall and exclaimed with excitement,
“Oz! These are so cute! Can I get some as gifts for the other kids?”
“Whatever you want…”
Oznia replied half-heartedly, not even glancing at the trinkets, seemingly uninterested. She just seemed desperate to get back to the room.
Titania, seeing Oznia’s sullen response, picked up a dress with a floral pattern and frilly decorations from the neighboring shop and twirled lightly.
“How about this? Do you think it’ll suit me?”
I swallowed wordlessly.
The outfit Titania chose looked rather poor, even to someone like me who doesn’t know much about clothes. The material seemed cheap, and the excessive floral pattern gave it an old-fashioned feel. It didn’t suit her at all, even as an empty compliment.
Instead, Oznia frowned and said,
“No. Not at all. It’s totally weird.”
“Really? Weird? It looked pretty to me.”
Titania put down the floral dress with a disappointed expression.
It seemed that Titania’s aesthetic sense was quite different from that of humans.
While the two were looking around the market, I bought the items Marian had requested. From stationery like pens and notebooks to peculiarly named magical items, the purpose of which I could not determine.
Of course, I didn’t use my own money. It was the student council activity fund that Marian had provided.
I put the last purchased item into the spatially-expanded backpack that Marian had prepared for me, thinking it would be necessary, and went to find the two.
The two were already in front of an ice cream shop, each ordering what they wanted.
“Oz, what flavor do you want?”
“I’ll have strawberry.”
“Then I’ll have mint chocolate.”
I could have just come here by myself if it was going to be like this.
As I sighed and was about to approach the two, I heard a noisy voice in the distance with my sensitive hearing.
It wasn’t just the usual hustle and bustle of the market, but a more ominous and dangerous atmosphere in the voices.
“Drive out the immigrants!”
“Execute the non-humans!”
“The empire belongs to the imperial citizens!”
The sound of many footsteps, as if marching through the market streets.
Many people were shouting the same slogans with anger and resentment in their voices.
They were slowly getting closer to Titania.
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