༺ Luce (1) ༻
The academy issued a statement to the students after the dueling evaluation was over; they were currently in the process of investigating the cause of the frequent appearance of demons, and would prepare the best safety measures to ensure that no students were harmed.
The curriculum proceeded as normal, as if nothing had happened. Some students protested that the academy was hiding something and demanded the truth, but they were in the minority.
‘Of course, it’s not a logical situation.’
An existence that threatens people’s lives had appeared several times, yet the academy was going back to its normal operation even though a student or professor almost died.
Even if demons were regarded as natural disasters, it didn’t make sense.
However, in reality, the board of directors, the principal, and the academic staff were working day and night to get the situation under control. Unless they had been living under a rock, there was no student who didn’t know that fact.
However, by the end of the first semester of year 1 – the Thunderbird Subjugation – the matter would escalate and would become too big, forcing the Imperial Knights to eventually intervene.
And this served as an opportunity to bring together the so-called ‘Golden Generation’, which included a relatively insignificant princess, a saintess who handled divine power (physical), and a sociopathic priestess from the East. The princess had planned to enter the school from the beginning, the saintess came because of a sense of justice to face the darkness of this world… no, it was because of her love for winning. And then there was the priestess, who had a plan of her own.
I wasn’t certain, but it appeared that those with special status or birth tended to have a peculiar way of thinking. If I survived, they, the Golden Generation, would become my juniors.
‘But that’s for later…’
What mattered now was that the original story had been greatly twisted.
During the dueling evaluation, the final boss of Act 6, Scene 3, Leafa the Illusive, appeared and because of his loose lips, he had leaked some crucial information to Professor Fernando.
The very existence of a ‘mole’.
How did I, a commoner, know about this, you ask? Of course, I found out thanks to observing the main academy staff through [Psychological Insight] and it detailed ‘Worried about the future because the demons have a mole at the academy.’
In that case, I should prepare for an IF scenario – when the truth that Alice is the ‘mastermind’ becomes revealed sooner than in the original scenario.
For reference, even Dorothy’s [All in the World] couldn’t discover that Alice was the person controlling everything from behind the scenes. It was because Alice had a unique trait called the [Red Queen’s Paradox].
To conclude, no one could read Alice’s psychology or essence.
‘Anyway, I have to prepare for a situation where Alice’s identity is revealed sooner than expected…’
“I-I thought I told you to keep it within moderation, nothing higher than 3-stars…!”
The yellow glowing boulders slammed into my body, crashing into each other, causing an explosion of mana.
The impact sent my body tumbling across the grass before slamming into a tree.
Whew, that was a surprise…
I groaned and managed to raise my upper body.
The being that had knocked me off my feet was a small golem, tilting its head. Its body was made of solid stone that looked incredibly hard.
It was my 3-star rock attribute familiar, Eden.
Don’t pretend to be cute while tilting your head. It doesn’t suit you.
Race: Demonic Beast
Psychology: [Wants to look cute to you. Kyu.]
Two days ago, I had the opportunity to summon a familiar during ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱ 「Act 3, Chapter 2, Familiar」. The students took turns summoning familiars using the summoning circle.
I was worried that there would be unexpected variables like there were in the dueling evaluation, but fortunately, it ended safely, without any incident.
One could summon up to 4-star familiars with the Familiar Summoning Circle. From 5-stars and above, you had to meet in person and sign a contract.
A 3-star like Eden exceeded my expectations, so I excitedly signed a contract with him.
The main character, Ian Fairytale, summoned a fire attribute familiar named ‘Rex,’ as per the original story. A whopping 4-stars. He resembled a newborn Tyrannosaurus, and according to the original plot of the familiar part, Ian and Rex would soon have a confrontation to clarify their master-servant relationship.
As a result, Rex would become the partner of the Master Fainter protagonist, and this time, he would win because the demons weren’t his opponent.
‘Well, that’s that.’
I should focus on my familiar.
I stood up from my seat, rubbing my battered stomach. I could endure this kind of pain three or four more times… well, not really.
It seemed that the penalty for disobeying orders, pain, had not come to Eden.
Disobedience was judged by the familiar’s perception. They must be aware of the fact that they were not following their master’s orders. Eden seemed to think that he followed my orders well.
In other words, it was also proof that his intelligence was so low that he didn’t even realize that the spell he had just cast was a 4-star spell.
Well, this was something that could be explained and taught.
“Well, it certainly hurt less than I thought it would.”
I was testing the ‘Elemental Bracelet’, an unexpected item I obtained by defeating Leafa the Illusive, with Eden.
The Elemental Bracelet increased my resistance to a specific element by ’40’. Elemental magic of a certain level would no longer be able to harm me.
This effect lasted 24 hours, i.e., once 24 hours have passed after the bracelet effect was activated, the increased elemental resistance would return to its original state. Then I could use the effect once more.
Presently, I had set my elemental resistance to the rock attribute. To modify the setting, all I had to do was simply adjust the ring attached to the bracelet to the pattern of the desired element engraved on the bracelet.
As it turned out, the effect was more amazing than I had expected. It didn’t hurt unless I was hit by high-star spells, and I was much less likely to be pushed away.
Even if I got hit with 4-star magic, it just hurt and that was it. Oh, who am I kidding? It hurt like hell, but I would have passed out without the Elemental Bracelet.
What if I was wearing the Elemental Bracelet during the dueling evaluation?
When Tristan Humphrey unleashed his [Whirlwind], I could have given him a proper blow without being blown away.
“Eden! 3-stars! Remember, 3-stars! What you just cast was a 4-star, so don’t use it anymore!”
Eden replied, raising his right arm in the air.
His voice was more on the neutral side.
Pretending to be cute didn’t suit him, but was it because he was my familiar? My heart seemed to be filling up with affection…
* * *
If you had to choose the tallest building on the Märchen Academy site, it was definitely the ‘Hegel Magic Tower’. However, since it only had occupancy rights on the academy site, it was safe to say that it was a kind of private company that had nothing to do with the academy.
The Hegel Magic Tower was home to many wizards from Märchen Academy. This was because, in exchange for occupying part of the academy site, additional points were given to Märchen Academy graduates who took the entry test. The tower itself was so prestigious that it was often mentioned as a possible career path for Märchen Academy students.
The entire top floor was used exclusively as a research laboratory for a single wizard.
It was a place only those who opened their heart to her were allowed to enter. Professor Fernando Frost stepped inside.
It was a large circular room; many books were floating in the air, and the walls were lined with them. Traces of alchemy were everywhere, and the high ceiling was made of glass, allowing a clear view of the sky.
In the center of the lab, a female wizard with auburn hair sprawled comfortably on the floor. With a small stature and physique, she read her book calmly while waving her legs.
Aria Lilias, Fernando’s teacher and the Tower Master of Hegel Magic Tower.
She raised her head and glanced at Fernando with an impassive face, then turned her gaze back to the book she was reading.
“I came to say hello, master.”
“I wanted to ask you something.”
“You did not even ask how I am doing first? As expected of my disciple, losing your manners.”
Aria Lilias had a habit of speaking in simple sentences.
“Have you heard the latest news from the academy? About the demons and black monster?”
“Repeat that nonsense.”
“On the first day of the dueling evaluation, I almost lost my life to a demon.”
The news of her disciple’s near-death experience caught Aria’s attention. It was a fact she knew, of course. Since Hegel Magic Tower was located near Märchen Academy, she couldn’t help but hear news about the academy.
“But the black monster protected me, and was even able to use even 9-star magic without difficulty. It is presumed that monster has already reached the realm of an Archwizard.”
“How do you perceive this? The identity of someone who suddenly appears one day and vanishes immediately after.”
A black monster.
It first appeared during the first-year class placement evaluation of the Magic Department, and defeated a demon that appeared out of nowhere.
During this dueling evaluation, that monster protected Professor Fernando by overpowering the powerful demon that had created another world.
“…What does the academy think?”
“They see that monster as a demon who rebelled against the other demons.”
“What do you think?”
“I assume you have already guessed it, but that monster is probably one of your students.”
It was something Fernando had already thought of, so he didn’t question it.
“One thing is clear, that monster was trying to protect you.”
Fernando’s figure was reflected in Aria’s profound gaze.
“My advice is, do not interfere. Do not pry into the secrets of someone who is trying to protect you for no reason. Just analyze and solve the cause of the demons’ appearance.”
“May I ask why?”
In the blink of an eye, Aria’s face was right in front of Fernando’s. She had levitated her body with telekinesis magic.
From a distance so close that their faces were almost touching, with an emotionless face, she spoke in a sarcastic tone.
“You still don’t understand? That monster came after observing an anomaly of this academy that even I had not noticed. It came to protect the people at this academy. You can’t help, so don’t do anything stupid.”
He knew that the black monster was on the academy’s side and was trying to protect people.
Fernando testified before the Truth Investigation Committee that the monster was not an enemy, but after numerous discussions, the conclusion was reached that ‘The black monster is likely to be a demon that rebelled against the demons.’ How else could he have known when and where the demons would appear?
Most of the faculty were afraid of the monster. But Fernando was different; he wanted to be on the monster’s side, just as the student had been on his.
“Of course, master.”
Fernando answered in a calm voice.
Darkness began to tinge the sky.
Luce Eltania, the first-year head of the Magic Department, went to the training ground for the first time in a while to practice lightning attribute magic and was on her way back to her dormitory.
With all of the students’ attention focused on her, she felt overwhelmed and left after half an hour.
Even when she left, the students exclaimed, “As expected of the top student! Does that mean she only needs to practice that much…!?” Which made her feel even more overwhelmed.
“Oh, really? That’s hilarious!”
Suddenly, Luce’s eyes caught sight of the girls passing by on the street. They were walking side by side, chatting happily.
“Later, see you tomorrow!”
“See you tomorrow!”
As the road diverged, the female students waved goodbye and parted ways.
It was an ordinary sight. Eating together, chatting together, and at the end of the day, looking forward to the next time they saw each other.
It was just an ordinary daily life for the other students, who she always saw and never paid any attention to.
But for some reason, today, the sight of them stirred something in Luce’s heart.
Suddenly, the image of a man came to her mind. Luce’s footsteps began to take a different course, and instead of going straight to the dormitory, she took a roundabout path. The place she arrived at was near the corner of the Butterfly Garden.
‘Hmmmm, just passing through, just passing through…’
Even if she took this path, she could still reach the dormitory, so it was the right way back. It’s just that it would take 5 times longer than her normal route.
The road at the end of Butterfly Garden was usually deserted. Only the sound of bugs echoed loudly.
‘There it is.’
Luce’s gaze darted in all directions, scanning left and right, until she spotted Isaac in the corner of the garden. It was indeed a coincidence.
On the first day of the dueling evaluation, Isaac had succumbed to the magic of Tristan Humphrey. Everyone present must have felt the stark difference in magic power between the two.
How disappointed Isaac must have been when he felt that insurmountable wall. On the contrary, he pretended to be unaffected by it, and the memory of him, who looked more pitiful, came to mind again.
However, frustration did not deter him. During his subsequent duels, he showed a burning desire.
‘I was happy.’
Seeing this, Luce felt a sense of satisfaction.
As she reflected on the dueling evaluation in her head, she suddenly remembered the incident of the demon’s appearance.
Greung had appeared again. It was said that he protected Professor Fernando and then disappeared again. If she had focused her mana perception, she might have noticed him appearing. It was a pity she didn’t.
Every time she thought of the monster, she felt a subtle emotion she had never felt before. It was not an uncomfortable feeling, but more of a favorable one.
Recently, Luce realized the true nature of said emotion. This feeling was the feeling of ‘wanting to get to know someone….’
For this reason, she spent a considerable amount of time pondering the concept of ‘friendship’ through books. But the more she did, the more difficult it was for her to understand what a friend was.
How do people understand and accept this ambiguous concept as if it were so natural? It was really strange.
And recently, there was one more person she wanted to be friends with.
The wavy, silver-blue haired male student who came into view was that person… but.
‘What is he doing?’
Luce was taken aback. For whatever reason, Isaac was…getting beat up by the magic of his own familiar?
Isaac’s condition looked awful. His eyes were forced open, his breathing was ragged. His condition looked precarious, as if he would collapse at any moment.
Suddenly, water mana began to gather next to Luce. The mana took the form of a small killer whale, and with a light coating of water mana on its body, it began to swim through the air like an ocean, shouting.
[Emergency! Emergency! A familiar is beating its master!]
It sounded as if a little boy were shouting in an innocent voice.
The little killer whale demonic beast, ‘Bello’. It was a 4-star familiar who responded to Luce’s call during the familiar summoning.
[Bello Emergency Dispatch! No violence! No violence!]
“Go back… Huh?”
Luce was trying to unsummon Bello, who was about to fly toward Isaac, while saying “go back”.
Suddenly, Isaac’s eyes rolled back, and his body slumped to the side.
He fell onto the grass and lost consciousness.
Luce’s heart sank; she didn’t bother to recall Bello, but instead hurriedly ran towards the unconscious Isaac.
[Incident occurred! Incident occurred! Arrested for beating your master, dude!]
Passing through the noisy familiar, Lucy held the unconscious Isaac’s upper body in her arms.
* * *
Sometimes I dream about my 3-pyeong studio in Sillim-dong.
The already tiny room was half-filled with thick books; I spread three open books on my desk, trapping myself in a narrow world. I looked like an ordinary civil service examinee.
I felt as if I were walking through a tunnel that was pitch black and had no end in sight.
I wondered if I could reach the end of this tunnel.
Sometimes, when I felt like my heart was about to collapse at that thought, I would mercilessly slap my thighs. Otherwise, my narrow world would shrink and my existence itself would cease to exist.
The pain was a means of maintaining my sanity.
‘But why am I reminiscing about that time?’
…I remembered. I kept receiving Eden’s spells to experiment with the Elemental Bracelet in various ways. The pain reminded me of my examination life.
It seems the damage must have accumulated and the fatigue that had been building up must have caused me to pass out.
So, am I just lying there in the corner of the garden?
No, my body is warm and cozy. I’m pretty sure this sensation is…
My eyes fluttered open.
What kind of bed is this?
Then, my eyes caught the sight of a familiar yet unfamiliar ceiling. I wasn’t talking about déjà vu. It was a familiar ceiling in ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱, but it was an unfamiliar ceiling to me as Isaac.
I raised my upper body. Even at a glance, this was a luxurious room. Even the bed I was lying on was unnecessarily large. It was the size that usually comes to mind when imagining the bed of rich people.
I looked around. No matter how I looked at it, this place… it looked like the interior of Charles Hall, the dormitory for top-tier students that I saw in ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱. In addition, looking at the dressing table and interior, it seemed to be a woman’s room.
Huh? Wait a second.
‘A woman’s room!?’
All dormitories were divided into male and female dormitories. Of course, it was strictly forbidden to enter the dormitory of the opposite sex.
Why am I in such a forbidden area?
Soon, the damp towel that was stuck to my forehead fell off. It was a neatly folded towel.
‘Was I being taken care of?’
My mind raced. Who brought me to Charles Hall? Kaya? Was it Kaya?
It was then.
[The victim woke up! The victim woke up!]
A small killer whale flew in front of me, swimming through the air as if it were the sea.
Now that I think about it, I think I might have heard this familiar’s voice right before I passed out.
And I knew who the owner of this familiar was because I had played ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱ until I got tired of it.
“Are you awake?”
It was a soft yet soothing voice, like the moonlight, it seemed to seduce my ears.
When I turned my eyes to the head of the bed, my eyes caught the sight of a girl with rose gold hair sitting somewhere.
One of the official heroines with a graceful beauty, with morpho butterfly-colored hair ties adorning either side of her head.
She was scanning me with eyes that seemed to contain the blue ocean.
It was Luce Eltania, the top seat of the first year’s Magic Department at Märchen Academy.
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