༺ Philion Academy (2) ༻
‘Malevolent Star’… My expression hardened at the name I hadn’t heard in a long time.
It reminded me of a particularly painful and difficult period during the hellish war. Furthermore, the fact that I, Eon Graham, was the Malevolent Star was not publicly known. Apart from my superior, Marquis Kalshtein, only a few select individuals within the empire were aware of this fact.
I calmed myself down and collected my thoughts. Upon reflection, Dean Heinkel was a member of one of the only two ducal families in the Empire, and he was also the head of Philion Academy, the best educational institution on the continent. It wouldn’t be strange for him to know that I was the Malevolent Star, especially since he likely received a letter from Marquis Kalshtein beforehand.
I relaxed my stiff expression and said,
“Please don’t call me by that name.”
“Heh, I must have been excited to meet one of the famous Seven Heroes of the continent in person. I’ll be more careful from now on.”
“Now, don’t just stand there, come sit down. Let me pour you a cup of tea.”
“I’m fine as I am.”
“I can’t let a hero of the Empire stand like a wooden statue. Or do you not want to drink the tea I’m offering?”
With him insisting so much, it was hard to refuse. The dean’s office had a table and sofa for entertaining guests, and Dean Heinkel semi-forcibly made me sit down and served the tea.
It wasn’t that he personally brewed the tea. He waved his hand lightly, and the tea began to brew on its own, and the teapot flew to the table without him even touching it.
Dean Heinkel handed me a teacup with a rich aroma and asked,
“So, Eon, what are your impressions of the academy so far?”
“It’s large and spacious. Other than that, I’m not sure yet.”
“Well, it’s only your first day. Besides its vast grounds, there are many good things about this academy. That’s true for both the students and the teachers. I hope you’ll gradually come to realize those good aspects.”
As I sipped the tea, I couldn’t help but think that my life at Philion Academy would be filled with new experiences and challenges. While I might have left the battlefield behind, the path ahead would surely have its own battles to fight, and I was determined to face them head-on.
Heinkel, the dean, took a sip of his tea as he spoke. I hesitated for a moment, feeling the atmosphere urged me to drink as well, so I lifted the teacup.
“Ah, do you not like black tea?”
Dean Heinkel asked in a gentle voice as if he had read my hesitation.
I stared at the swirling red liquid for a moment, then slowly nodded and took a sip of the tea. I put the teacup down with a subtle expression.
Charlotte really loved black tea.
It didn’t fit well with the battlefield, but Charlotte believed that mental relaxation was important during the harsh and grueling battles that were a constant in the frontilines. While magic could heal physical wounds, it couldn’t heal the wounds of the heart. After fighting monsters, she would heal me with magic and always brew a cup of black tea with great care.
I couldn’t tell if Charlotte brewed good black tea or not. The only black tea I had ever tasted in my life was the tea she served, so I had no basis for comparison. But after nearly 15 or 16 years, I tried black tea brewed by someone else for the first time and belatedly realized something.
‘Charlotte. You didn’t have the skill for brewing tea.’
But even though I didn’t know the taste, I liked the black tea that Charlotte brewed. That’s why I hadn’t drunk black tea that reminded me of her since she left. The reason I hesitated just now was because I thought I couldn’t be tied to the past forever.
Now, even when I think of Charlotte, I don’t feel anything. I can think of her calmly, as something that happened back then. The black tea Dean Heinkel brewed had a different aroma but a similar color, and the taste was much better.
“It tastes good.”
“I’m glad. If you didn’t like the black tea, I would have offered you coffee instead.”
“That’s all right. I’ve had enough tea already; I’d like to get to the main point now.”
We couldn’t just talk about tea forever. The reason I came here wasn’t to have trivial chitchat with the dean. With that, Dean Heinkel set down his teacup and smiled warmly.
“The main point… It seems you think this meeting is like an interview to evaluate you.”
Dean Heinkel chuckled softly before replying,
“Well, not exactly. I do want to get to know you better, but it’s more of an informal conversation to help you feel more at ease in your new environment. However, if you wish to discuss a particular topic, please feel free to bring it up.”
As I considered his words, I realized that I didn’t need to be on guard and that perhaps it was time to let go of the past and embrace my new life at Philion Academy.
Instructor Lirya had said that my acceptance was already confirmed and that I should relax, but I couldn’t take her words at face value. After all, this was Philion Academy, the best educational institution on the continent. Even if I had passed the initial screening, it was difficult to imagine they would hire me as an instructor without ever meeting me in person.
I have never received a proper education. In fact, compared to the students currently enrolled at the academy, I have learned much less. I’m not as eloquent or easy to converse with as Instructor Lirya, making it difficult for me to teach someone wholeheartedly. While I’m confident in my combat skills, that’s about it. Being a soldier and an instructor are two distinct roles.
To be honest, I have doubts about Dean Heinkel’s intentions. Of course, as an educator for 30 years, teaching students, he isn’t a villain. However, if he plans to exploit my reputation as the “Malevolent Star” for some purpose, I am prepared to leave without hesitation.
Dean Heinkel’s wrinkled eyes curved softly into crescents.
“Only I know that you are the ‘Malevolent Star’, Mr. Eon. Even Instructor Lirya, who guided you here, doesn’t know this fact. And she won’t find out in the future unless you reveal it yourself.”
“Hehe, you really are a reticent person. Are you curious about my intentions?”
Dean Heinkel seemed to have guessed my inner thoughts long ago.
“To be honest, yes.”
“It’s not a big deal, actually. It’s just a difference in perspective on what an educator should be between what I think and what you think. And it’s also about how much you underestimate yourself.”
“Underestimate… you say?”
“First impressions. Of course, they are important. But in my experience, as an older man who has met countless people over the decades, first impressions don’t last very long. There were people who seemed diligent in teaching students but turned out to be strict disciplinarians, and on the contrary, there were those who seemed to be careless but received the most love from their students. That’s why I consider a person’s past actions to be important when making judgments.”
Dean Heinkel leisurely finished the remaining half of his tea.
“What kind of life have you lived so far? What have you done? Your past is proven by the accomplishments you have made in your past days. I have already determined that it is enough.”
“How can you be sure that I will teach the students well?”
“Hehe, sure? What are you talking about? Naturally, you won’t teach well at first.”
The dean’s words surprised me, but he continued on, “What I mean is, everyone starts off as a novice. You will grow into the role, learn from your mistakes, and eventually become a better instructor. As long as you’re willing to learn and adapt, I have no doubt that you’ll succeed. Don’t underestimate your own potential, Mr. Eon.”
“Of course, you will make mistakes. It’s natural. However, I believe a true educator is someone who grows alongside their students. Even Instructor Lirya struggled with speaking in front of her students when she first started. But now, she has become a respected instructor who is loved by her students. No one is perfect from the beginning.”
“I’ve heard that Philion Academy is the best educational institution on the continent. So, doesn’t that mean its instructors have to be the best as well?”
“Our instructors are indeed skilled in their respective fields. Some are from the Royal Guard, and some are top-tier mages from the Magic Tower. But were they excellent at teaching students right from the start?”
“I haven’t received a systematic education like them. It could put me at a disadvantage.”
“Then teach what you’re best at, Eon. Good educators are not born, they are made.”
Dean Heinkel said with a gentle smile.
“There is no single right answer in education.”
After much contemplation, I eventually accepted the position as an instructor.
Dean Heinkel later informed Eon of several essential aspects of working at Philion Academy. He would be responsible for teaching ‘Basic Physical Training’ and ‘Combat Practice’. He also reminded Eon not to forget to get his instructor’s badge and uniform from Lirya.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the academy provides dormitories for instructors, so if Eon didn’t have a family, he would recommend living in the dormitory. Eon decided to move in with his belongings by the following day.
As the day was drawing to a close and a gentle sunset glow filled the room, someone knocked on the dean’s office door.
“Dean! It’s Lirya Bennet.”
The door opened, and Lirya Bennett entered the dean’s office. Every time Dean Heinkel saw Lirya, he couldn’t help but be amazed that her youthful appearance was not the result of any magical intervention but simply her natural state. Of course, revealing his astonishment would undoubtedly anger her, so he greeted her with a nonchalant demeanor.
“So, Instructor Lirya, has Instructor Eon settled in well?”
“Yes. I showed him around all the necessary facilities. Starting tomorrow, he’ll officially be living in the dormitory as an instructor.”
“I see. What was your impression of him, Lirya?”
Lirya crossed her arms, tilted her head, and pondered. She still seemed unaware that her girlish actions were the reason students found her adorable.
“He’s reserved, cautious, and very polite. He seemed like a genuinely nice person, rather than having been raised like a noble. The high-ranking officers I’ve known were of noble origin and only pretended to be polite with their words, but they were all arrogant. Instructor Eon didn’t give off that vibe. Oh, and he’s quite handsome, too?”
“Hehe, indeed. I was quite surprised as well. He is indeed a striking man.”
Dean Heinkel nodded as he recalled Eon’s first impression. There was no doubt that he had been a stunningly handsome boy in his youth, breaking many young girls’ hearts.
“Anyway, it was a bit surprising.”
“Instructor Eon, I mean. You don’t usually hire instructors so quickly, do you? You’re normally very picky. He must have really impressed you, huh?”
“Ah, I see what you’re saying. Actually, I trusted a friend’s judgment.”
Lirya ‘s eyes widened in surprise.
“By ‘friend’, do you mean… Field Marshal Kalshtein?”
“If that overly protective man, who cares deeply about his granddaughter, has chosen a man as her future husband, he must have scrutinized him much more thoroughly than I would. There was no reason to refuse a candidate who had already been thoroughly vetted.”
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