༺ The Hero Didn’t Study (1) ༻
The temporary headquarters of the Imperial Army’s northern expedition. Because of their ease of installation and dismantlement, there were some Gers that the Imperial Army used.
“Woah, is that guy the Chief Team Manager?”
“The world has really gone to hell. The 4th Unit has hit rock bottom.”
Inside one Ger, there were seven men and women gathered. Dressed in black uniforms, their faces were full of fatigue, but they were giggling with amusement.
“It’s an expected result.”
A man with black hair at the center confidently stated. He had succeeded in obtaining the title of Chief Team Manager, a position that had not been decided until then, and his face was filled with derision and disdain towards the other team managers.
“It seems like I won’t be able to hang with an average team leader since they stink so much.”
“What should we do with him?”
“Let’s teach him a lesson for now.”
At his remark, the other Team Managers knocked him to the ground and began to beat him up with all sorts of things.
“Fuck this! This is outrageous!”
“Since when was there a hierarchy among team managers?”
“Do you think you’re above us because you’re the chief? Hey, you’re just in charge of scrap work.”
After a few minutes of beating him up, everyone stood up as if nothing had happened.
“Ah, this is why I love the 4th Unit. Where else can you get the opportunity to beat an Earl’s heir?”
“You filthy blue blood.”
“Do you want to get beat up again?”
All seven burst into laughter. After all, pranks like this always happened.
“But still, it’s impressive. They actually appointed a Chief?”
“The team managers have been dying fast. So what’s the point of setting one when they’re soon going to die?”
The average lifespan of a 4th Unit’s Team Manager wasn’t very long, especially since war broke out in the north. Thus, they refrained from appointing a chief. But now, the Team Managers had survived for a period that exceeded the average, so a Chief was finally appointed.
“Let’s make it through until the war’s end.”
“Once the war ends, I’m quitting this shitty Prosecutor’s life.”
“I… I’m going to confess to that girl from my hometown…”
“You crazy bastard.”
Even the Team Manager, who had no history with women, began saying nonsense, swept up by the mood. If this were a play, it would be a scene that foreshadowed a sad ending. However, the seven didn’t care.
After all, they were definitely going to survive and return to the capital. That’s what the seven of them thought.
* * * *
I woke up as the morning sunlight that had entered through the curtain tickled my face.
Fuck, that dream.
I sighed and got up. Maybe it’s because I’ve been hearing too much about those guys lately that they ended up appearing in my dreams. But still, I’m glad. At least it was one of the better memories that had surfaced in the form of a dream.
‘I used to have a lot of fun back then.’
At that time, being appointed as Chief Team Manager had made me secretly happy. These days, I would have avoided any additional responsibilities like the plague. Back then, it felt like I had been recognized as being superior to those guys. How funny.
What was even funnier was that the Manager and the Team Manager had now become a Minister and Executive Manager, respectively.
I got up from bed while touching my neck. I suddenly remembered how I’d promised to quit the Prosecutor’s Office after the war ended.
In a place where we used to joke around, I ended up talking sincerely.
Caught in a sudden game of truth, the other guys also started sharing their real wishes.
However, no one knew back then that quitting the Prosecutor’s Office was the most difficult wish of all. Not me, not that guy, nor any of them.
Thinking about that made me chuckle.
* * * *
As soon as I got to the club room, I opened the cookie jar only to find it empty. The cookie jar hadn’t been filled because of the club fair, so it had been drained for the first time.
I sighed at the disappointing situation.
My little stash of human food was gone. Eating the cookies alone in the empty club room when nobody else was around was my routine. And now, it was broken. I’ll have to ask Louise to make a generous amount for me.
Turning away my gaze from the cookie jar, I sat on my usual seat and looked around. There were plenty of ingredients and tools. Whenever I was alone, I sometimes wondered if I should try to bake something. Being alone like this was okay if it was a day or two, but it’s been a couple of months.
‘I’m having weird thoughts again.’
I had to overcome this temptation. I know my cooking skills very well. I’d tried to cook for the other officers before. The result was, of course, very bad.
I guess it was inevitable. After all, I’d never cooked for myself. But the circumstances forced me to do it, so there was no choice.
‘Should I bring some books?’
I’d been avoiding bringing any other objects other than cooking tools. After all, there was a chance of a potential mess due to the flour. But what else could I do while spending time alone?
I particularly missed the club time even more today.
After a few hours, the club members finally came. They were more diligent than I thought.
“I think that I’ll have to study for a while.”
“Is that so?”
I just nodded at Louise’s words. It was indeed exam season now. I don’t know who was the one who made the Academy’s schedule, but having them study for the exam after intensifying the atmosphere through the fair was truly artistic.
“It’s the first exam since I entered the Academy, so I’ll do my best!”
I couldn’t say anything after seeing her talking while clenching her fist. I couldn’t ask her to make some cookies for me instead since I was feeling dizzy. That’s something even a grown-up can’t say.
From what I’ve seen so far if I ask, Louise would probably do it, but I didn’t want to become the kind of adult who blocks others from advancing.
“Yes, do your best. I’m sure you’ll obtain good results if you put in the effort.”
In the end, all I could do was encourage her with cliche words. I guess I’ll have to go to the library starting tomorrow.
“Studying here is great. It’s quiet since there’s only us.”
“We can talk to each other freely, unlike at the library.”
“Oh, right. In the library, we have to be careful not to disturb others.”
Erich and Lather’s conversation confirmed my suspicions. It seemed like the club would be full of the smell of paper and ink instead of cookies for the time being.
In reality, grades didn’t matter that much for the aristocratic students, who made up the most amount of students. They won’t be going to higher educational institutions after graduation, nor will they be seeking employment somewhere. So what was the point of getting good grades?
Of course, some might go for Administration related jobs or the military after graduation, but they have separate recruitment exams that don’t consider academic performance. Not only that but getting a recommendation was better and more effective. This was still a world where a recommendation weighed more than an exam.
However, the aristocratic students still cared about exams. The reason was simple. It was because of their competitiveness. Pride was very important for those that had blue blood running through their veins. On the other hand, students that were commoners tried their best since that increased the chances of them being noticed by the nobles, which was something that could change their lives.
“It seems like there are a lot of exam subjects.”
“I heard that they’d reduced them compared to before.”
I became surprised after seeing the number of textbooks that Louise had lined up. This is the reduced amount? It looks like the amount of books that one would need to max out credits in a university.
As I stared at the textbooks, Louise, who was tilting her head, smiled awkwardly as if she’d just remembered something.
“It’s indeed a lot, just like Oppa said.”
I moved on after seeing Louise’s trembling pupils. She must have belatedly realized what she’d said.
‘I’m an adult that hasn’t gone through the Academy.’
Louise’s initial reaction was as if she were asking me if I didn’t learn more during my Academy days. Meaning, ‘It used to be worse during your time, so why are you reacting like this?’
However, I don’t know about ‘that’ past. After all, I hadn’t enrolled in the Academy, let alone graduate. Fortunately, Louise realized it before I said anything, so I was able to avoid an awkward moment.
Louise turned her gaze to the textbook, her ears red. Yes, I understand you. Don’t worry. I know I’m the special case.
“Ah, Advisor. You didn’t attend the Academy?”
Rutis’s words aimed at me made my body freeze for a moment, and Louise carefully watched my reaction. Even Erich, who was far away, seemed taken aback and turned his gaze towards me.
“In reality, I also had some concerns about entering the Academy. After all, I don’t need the diploma. Also, isn’t it great to find a job you’re suited for before others?”
If the 2nd Manager was the one who said that, I would have already beaten him up. What was more annoying was that he hadn’t said it with malicious intent. It was an honest compliment, and it would be weird to get angry at a compliment like that.
“Maybe you should’ve also looked for a different path instead of coming to the Academy.”
“Well, didn’t I meet good people after coming to the Academy? I might have regretted it if I hadn’t come.”
Rutis burst into laughter while I smiled for a different reason. If he hadn’t come, at least the annoying number of troublemakers would have decreased from five to four, which would’ve been great.
“Oppa? Even if you didn’t come to the Academy, you’re already someone impressive. I think that’s even cooler.”
Louise realized Rutis hadn’t said it with any malicious intent, so she tried to come to the rescue. Unfortunately, those words weren’t particularly consoling.
I wasn’t bitter for not having come to the Academy. What drives me mad is that the path I chose instead of coming to the Academy was this one.
Of course, just like Rutis said, I did meet many people because of this path. However, the thought of having chosen this path with my own hands, influenced by the patriarch, still haunted me.
I barely managed to reply after a brief moment of silence.