༺ Day of the Entrance Exam (1) ༻
“We’re nearly there, Princess White.”
Märchen Academy was bustling with people for the first time in a long while, regaining its former vibrancy.
On a sunny morning, with the school gates wide open, young examinees walked across the grounds, each filled with their own sense of determination.
It was the day of the entrance exam.
Despite a series of unfortunate incidents, the competition for entry into Märchen Academy didn’t decrease in the slightest.
Its reputation as the continent’s top academy remained, and the Imperial Family had declared that they themselves would directly protect Märchen Academy from the disaster known as demons.
With the widespread information that the fifth Imperial Princess would be enrolling in Märchen Academy, the examinees felt a sense of relief.
When crossing the bridge that connected the Zelver Empire and the Märchen Academy grounds, one could enjoy the view of the expansive Arkins Sea.
Accompanied by numerous guards, a magnificent carriage was crossing the bridge. It was a luxurious blue carriage with a gold trim, a color symbolizing the Zelver Empire’s Imperial Family.
Inside that luxurious carriage, a girl with grey eyes was looking out the window.
Her pure white hair, which reflected the sunlight like snow, was neatly braided and tied at the back, and adorned with a pretty red ribbon.
She had skin as clean and fair as a doll, and she wore an exquisite dress that harmoniously mixed white and red.
Imperial Princess Snow White, commonly known as White.
White did not respond to the knight sitting across from her.
The knight was Merlin Astrea, the daughter of the Sword Saint, Gerald Astrea, she was a swordsman prodigy selected as White’s personal escort knight while still being a student at the academy.
‘Almost at Märchen Academy,’ she said… Merlin’s words were undoubtedly meant to prepare White mentally.
But White just gazed distantly at the horizon beyond the Arkins Sea, with a wistful expression.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
…White looked at Merlin, her face filled with fear, before trembling.
“I-I know it’s a bit late, but can’t we just go back now…?”
The tone was cowardly, sharply contrasting with the heavy, contemplative atmosphere she had been immersed in just moments before.
“It’s not possible. It is an Imperial Order.”
“Look at that vast sea. Many lives must be conceived in its depths. Wouldn’t there be demons over there? Yes, of course! Oh oh, when you think about it…! Here, so many demons appear, right? This place is like a demon realm, a demon realm! Why on earth isn’t this place abandoned already… No, that’s going too far, but why isn’t it temporarily closed? No matter how much I think about it, i-isn’t it too dangerous? It would be better to go back right away, right?!”
“Regardless of the words Your Highness speaks, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor’s will remains the same.”
That damned Imperial Order, Imperial Order…!
Tears welled up in White’s eyes.
Father, why do you put me through such trials…!
White was the only princess of age who could attend the academy.
Despite being a princess with high authority in this country, White’s pure wish was to enjoy her youth as she studied and grew alongside her peers.
From the beginning, she was completely excluded from the imperial succession conflict. Being like a flower in a greenhouse, it was perhaps natural for her to harbor such sorrowful feelings.
Moreover, observing the undercurrents of the upcoming battle for imperial succession was immensely burdensome.
Inevitably, she increasingly felt the desire to flee from the Imperial Palace
But, telling Emperor Carlos that she wanted to go to the academy… turned out to be the root of the problem.
‘Of all places, why Märchen Academy…’
I want to go to Märchen Academy.
Not long after saying that, demons started appearing one after another at Märchen Academy…
And then there was that Black Monster that was said to have reached the realm of an Archwizard. Where did such a suspicious monster suddenly appear from? What were the academy’s faculty and the Imperial Knights doing if they couldn’t identify it?
In her mind, Märchen Academy had transformed into a demon realm where she could lose her life at any moment.
The protection of the Imperial Knights? That wasn’t enough to reassure her. She was a fearful person, constantly imagining the worst scenarios to the point of unintentionally frightening herself.
So when she decided to give up on going to Märchen Academy, this time it was Emperor Carlos who pushed her forward.
Bianca Anturaze, the Saintess of the Helize Church, and of noble status in the Holy Kingdom of Bardio.
And Miya, the Priestess of Horan, the Land of the Fire Blossoms.
The reason was that he had learned that these two were planning to enroll in Märchen Academy.
White had been told that she should definitely build a friendship with those two when she said she wanted to attend Märchen Academy. It was said to be for the future of the empire…
The Empress also expressed the same opinion as the Emperor.
In the end, the cornered White was forced to take special lessons to gain admission into Märchen Academy and reluctantly came to take the entrance exam as if it were a bitter pill to swallow.
Why doesn’t she just carelessly take the entrance exam and fail, you may ask?
‘I can’t. Absolutely not…!’
The responsibility entrusted to White was extremely heavy.
Where else could one find a social venue like Märchen Academy where one could be beside the Saintess and the Priestess?
On this small island, becoming peers with those who wield immense global influence was not just rare, but such an opportunity might never come again. The chance to be constantly involved with them was truly unique.
Moreover, she was a princess. Having always received high-quality education from the top wizards of exalted Magic Towers, she was confident in her skills among her peers.
Naturally, the imperial recommendation letter was delivered directly to the academy, so bonus points were a given.
Could she, being such a person, fail the exam and not be admitted? What kind of aftermath would follow… White couldn’t fathom such a terrifying future.
‘The Saintess and the Priestess will definitely pass the entrance exam.’
After all, they were rumored to be both incredibly strong and intelligent.
Especially the Priestess, White heard she was a formidable being, capable of summoning nation-destroying magic beasts as her familiars. She was so remarkable that in Horan, she was revered as a true ‘Divine Maiden’.
Thanks to her, Horan was said to be in its golden age…
Each piece of such information turned into a burden like a sandbag, piling up layer by layer, weighing heavily on White’s shoulders.
“Merlin, I’m scared…”
White trembled with a face full of fear.
Merlin, with her eyes closed and her head slightly tilted in contemplation, had her dark green hair tied in a ponytail that followed the movement of her head.
After pondering what to say, she soon nodded her head with a serious expression.
She held her fist tight in front of her chest.
Merlin’s eyes sparkled for a moment.
“The responsibility entrusted to Princess White is immense. The future of this country… No! The future of the entire world depends on you! Be strong! You will do well, Princess!”
White felt as though she could cough up blood under the weight of the pressure.
The written exam took place in Orphin Hall.
White was on the verge of tears. The results of her intensive training had shown through.
She wasn’t at the top, but she was confident that she had scored well enough to safely enter Märchen Academy.
After finishing the practical exam in the dome-shaped Duke Hall, White walked out with a dazed expression, which was a stark contrast to the confident stride of her escort, Merlin Astrea.
Regardless, she was the princess. The students stood at attention with nervous faces, but White had no time to pay attention to any of that.
“I think I might have passed…”
“As expected of Princess White. You are splendid.”
“No, that’s not it… I didn’t wish to be this excellent… All my hard work wasn’t for thi-!”
Near the stairs leading to the spectator seats, a male examinee screamed and fell.
The boy groaned in pain. He had rolled down only three steps, so it seemed he wasn’t badly hurt.
All the examinees’ gazes turned in that direction.
“Ugh… Who is it?!”
The boy was about to yell out of anger but ended up gasping for air.
On the stairs, a girl stood with her leg extended forward, an indifferent expression on her face. It was clear to everyone that she had kicked the boy. She was doing it conspicuously.
Beneath a black beret, her black, jade-like hair flowed. Her sideburns were neatly braided, and her gentle eyes were well complemented by red cat-eye makeup.
A black robe with the fire and plum blossom emblem of Horan covered her body down to her knees, but because her leg was raised, her fair legs proudly displayed the beauty of her figure.
The luxurious black fur on the robe’s collar suggested it was quite an expensive garment.
Merlin murmured to herself.
“Move. You’re in the way.”
The Priestess with black pearl-like hair lowered the leg she had used to kick. Her attitude was incredibly nonchalant.
The air in Duke Hall became heavy.
Not only the male student was startled, but the other examinees and Princess White were equally startled.
Miya, the Priestess from Horan, the Land of the Fire Blossoms. A girl who demonstrated abilities so overwhelming, they were easily enough to claim the top seat in this entrance exam, a formidable authoritative figure, akin to a ruler of the Eastern Nations, and revered as a ‘Divine Maiden.’
To put it in terms of the Zelver Empire, it was as if both the power of the Emperor and the authority of the Saintess were concentrated in this one girl.
If one had even a basic education, not knowing who she was would be unthinkable.
In the Zelver Empire, her power might be somewhat diminished, but her status remained unapproachable.
White was puzzled.
It seemed that the male examinee was just blocking the way… Couldn’t the issue have been resolved with a simple request to move aside? Kicking him was an overreaction.
The Priestess’s gentle and pretty face didn’t seem to match her character.
“Shall we go, Lady Miya?”
Following the female escort wizard’s words, the Priestess Miya answered in an annoyed tone and hastened her steps.
The boy, startled, quickly stood up to apologize, but Miya didn’t even pretend to listen.
White, with a look of despair, touched her forehead and called out the name of god in distress. The scenery made her feel dizzy.
To have to befriend a woman with such a shitty personality, just based on first impressions…?
What am I going to do about this bleak future?
White looked at Merlin for help but she just gave a thumbs up with her sparkling eyes.
Her commanding expression seemed to say, ‘Princess, you can do it. Become friends! For the peace of this world!’. It brought tears to White’s eyes.
The priestess, Miya, after leaving Duke Hall, walked demurely while humming a tune.
The Princess, the Saintess, and the Priestess were all globally famous; they boasted exceptionally neat and beautiful looks among the examinees and drew frequent glances from others.
Despite the red cat-eye makeup, her calm and innocent-looking eyes surveyed the surroundings with curiosity.
Miya suddenly let out a laugh.
The personal escort following her asked, “Is there something that pleases you?”
Miya, holding a magic weapon in the shape of a black fan, gently tapped her lower lip with it and turned her head towards the escort.
“Someone is watching me.”
The escort reached for the wand at her waist, adopting a defensive stance.
“Mae is telling me now. It’s not an ordinary gaze. This is… a mystical power. It must be him.”1ED Note: Mae definitely refers to Tamamo-no-Mae aka the name of the Nine tails fox for those who didn’t know
Miya blushed. ‘Mae’ referred to her nation-destroying familiar, a nine-tailed fox.
“Hehe, he’s watching over me…! Ah…!”
Take me, Sir Hero.
This was the constant plea of Miya, the Priestess from Horan.
‘He’ referred to the Black Monster, the Nameless Hero. A being beyond imagination who slayed demons and had single-handedly defeated the Floating Island just a few months ago.
It was clear how much Miya, who usually treated people like trash, idolized and obsessed over the Nameless Hero. It was quite dramatic.
But to the extent of moaning in excitement… Such a scene was new for the escort, but it wasn’t too surprising.
No matter how much she looked around, the escort couldn’t understand Miya’s response.
There was nothing but the scenery of Märchen Academy, mystical or not.
The escort had no way of knowing that Isaac was monitoring Märchen Academy with his [Clairvoyance].
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- 1ED Note: Mae definitely refers to Tamamo-no-Mae aka the name of the Nine tails fox for those who didn’t know