༺ Face-to-Face ༻
In Sera’s worldview existed the concept of perpetuity or rather eternity.
If you go beyond a certain level in any field, you will be able to unite with the will that encompasses the world… Of course, it’s hard and a very complicated process in general.
And thus the humans who managed to reach such a level are given a kind of power as a reward.
A power that can influence the laws of nature, something that is beyond the interference of the human body.
There were scattered anecdotes akin to legends about the very first Duke of the Tristan territory, who is considered one of the strongest knights of all time as a representative Eternal, splitting the very vestiges of time and space with his sword alone.
It was said that no armor was useful against him, as he could cut through the very fabric of space itself with a single swing. That he could cut away the day, turning the morning into evening…
That same person created the Tristan Style Swordsmanship that I was using currently.
It’s a ridiculous story. Hence why, it was deemed to just be a legend with no indication of it actually happening.
‘But that’s probably not the case.’
Considering the strength of the Eternal in front of me, it could be said that the story that was handed down through the ages wasn’t exaggerated in the least.
An Eternal who was granted the power of Immortality. She’s famous not just in the empire, but throughout the entire continent as a whole.
“Oh, student. You’re early.”
However, such a legendary existence looked no different than a short girl.
Looking at the vitality flowing through her violet-colored hair and eyes, no one would be able to tell that she was a thousand-year-old monster—
I hastily took my seat upon hearing that voice.
“Thank you for accepting my sudden invitation, you must have been surprised.”
She had a kind tone and smile. Probably to smoothen the conversation.
But I know what kind of person Atalante is.
Despite having lived for a thousand years, she basically hated wasting time more than anyone else.
If she decided to have a face-to-face talk with me, that only meant that she had an important business to discuss.
“Do you know why I called you here, Dowd Campbell?”
“I am uncertain.”
“I have some bad news, and even worse news for you. Which one would you like to hear first?”
Why isn’t there anything good?
“Let’s start with the bad first.”
“Hmm~ Student Dowd Campbell has already been involved in several incidents even before being assigned to a class.”
The Headmistress of the Academy then put on a monocle and looked through some documents. Was there a record of my involvement?
“…I didn’t intentionally participate nor cause any of those incidents.”
“That’s what makes it so jarring. In Elfante’s long history, we’ve had all sorts of students. But I have never seen a student causing such a stir before their first class.”
After saying that, Atalante let out a deep sigh.
“But it’s also a talent to always be able to get out of such troublesome scenarios, isn’t it?”
“…Why is this bad news?”
All she did was praise me.
To this, Atalante replied with a smile on her face.
“Having bad luck means that you will be caught up in another incident in the future. So that’s the bad news.”
That… I was unable to refute.
“And that misfortune leads to the worse news.”
Atalante took off her monocle and rested her chin on her hands with a grin on her face.
“Student, by any chance…”
“How much do you know about the devil?”
The gaze that came with that sentence was not at all amused.
Atalante was interested to know what kind of person Dowd Campbell was.
Despite knowing almost everything that happens within the academy, he was still a mystery to her.
At least, his current look was implying such a sense.
Atalante smiled inwardly as she looked at Dowd Campbell, whose expression did not change despite her throwing such a bomb of a statement his way.
Ordinary students would’ve been frozen over just by the mere fact that they were alone with the Headmistress. They would feel intimidated just from the sheer difference in status that separated them.
On the other hand, there was this boy…
‘He’s not even nervous.’
Despite the fact that the Headmistress herself brought up the ominous topic of ‘the devil’, his expression did not change.
Rather, he seemed to be in deep thought.
It was like… he was considering what would be the best answer in the current situation.
‘With this, his emergency response passed.’
As a seasoned veteran, she didn’t need to think too hard when evaluating something or someone.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to convey just how much I know about this matter.”
But Dowd’s answer was unexpected.
“I don’t know what you’re going to do with that information.”
Atalante couldn’t help but laugh at the response.
“…You don’t like it?”
In fact, it’s not hard to know that there’s some plotting going on behind the scenes. It’s already been shown several times.
Imagine, someone not having their class assigned to them while all the other students already started with theirs. Naturally, that would raise some suspicions.
“It’s hard to like it knowing that I’m being manipulated.”
She didn’t expect one of those specific means to be mentioned here.
Atalante’s eyes narrowed as she asked back.
“…What did you say?”
“As you mentioned earlier, I have been involved in several large-scale cases. With so many eyes watching, there’s bound to be rumors one way or another.”
Dowd Campbell calmly continued.
“The hegemonic powers are currently in the midst of chaos. It wouldn’t be strange for numerous people to contact me at this time. Everyone is trying to reel in shining talents by hook or crook.”
Indeed, there was such news all over.
Tribal Alliance’s coup d’état, huge organizational changes in the Holy Land. The power struggle over the throne and so much more.
The continent was in utter turmoil.
The same went for the Golden Triangle.
On the surface, they were just good neighbors living in harmony while helping each other, but behind the scenes, all of them were engaged in a fierce competition to recruit the best talent.
However, this was by no means a piece of information that a mere student would be able to obtain, analyze, and logically infer on their own.
Even more so if it was the son of a baron who did not have the right to access such advanced information.
And yet, this boy was casually talking about such things.
Like it was completely natural.
Atalante smiled inwardly.
“However, there’s nothing but crickets. All I can say is that someone is artificially suppressing information about me. Or…”
“It’s a step further and everyone is collectively pretending not to know. I don’t why or how you would do that.”
If Atalante didn’t have a reputation to uphold, she would’ve stood up and begun clapping like a seal.
It was an accurate judgment. He was excellent at weighing information and situations and filling in the gaps as well.
‘Political sense, also a pass!’
In fact, Dowd occupied an important position in her future plans. Atalante was worried whether he would be lacking, but now, she was not disappointed in the least.
No, rather, she was pleased that a jewel of this level was discovered among the students.
It was probably because of her excitement from meeting a talent, but she unconsciously leaked things she shouldn’t have at the current stage of the plan.
“First of all, I would like to apologize for controlling information about you. But I want you to know that it is essential.”
“…Is it a big deal if I stand out?”
Atalante continued with a smile on her face.
“The world will end.”
It was fun to finally see the opponent’s poker face crack.
Looking at Dowd’s bewildered expression, Atalante continued with a chuckle.
“I am not lying. But it won’t happen right away just because rumors are spreading. However, there is no doubt that the chances of that happening will increase.”
“…the end of the world, no, just what are you talking about…?”
“For now, just focus on your school life. Anyways, you’ll find out sooner or later. The academy is also doing its best to prevent that.”
Having said that, she handed Dowd a piece of paper with a smile.
“Why don’t you take a look at this first?”
It contained a big symbol.
“I asked you about the devil earlier, right? It’s because of this.”
“This is the symbol of a group called the PURIFIER.”
Dowd’s expression turned solemn at the mention of that word.
‘He knew this too?’
Thinking so, Atalante calmly continued.
“It’s not well known to the public, but they’re a pretty infamous group of devil worshipers. They’ve been identified to be the ones behind Lady Tristan’s attempted assassination and the monster sabotage.”
Like the name suggested, it’s a group of people that worshiped the devil, the enemy of all mankind, as a God and were gunning for the Devil’s resurrection.
Their existence was akin to that of a cancerous tumor to society.
“With already two attacks on Lady Tristan, there is no guarantee that there won’t be a third.”
“…Why are you telling me this?”
But instead of answering, Atalante just wore a mysterious smile.
She had already given enough information about the plan. She was unable to say any more than this.
Thinking so, she took something out of the drawer.
If she couldn’t tell him the details, shouldn’t she at least show her sincerity, right?
“Would you like to take this?”
It was a small black card. On the surface, it looked nondescript, but Dowd’s eyes widened when he saw it.
He was being quite expressive.
‘…Does he know what this is?’
As she was thinking that, she heard from the other side.
“…Is it okay for the Headmistress to just hand out something like this?”
Atalante paused for a moment. His words were implying that even the headmistress shouldn’t just give away something this valuable to others.
Did that mean he already knew what it was?
No, there was no way for him to know.
Even within the academy, this was something that only a very few people, including her, knew about. If he knew what this was, it was not just simply about being smart enough to put pieces of info together to draw out the overall picture. It’s almost psychic.
Atalante asked once more with some anticipation in her heart.
“You sound like you know what it is?”
“This, in a week’s time, at the Gregory Hall—”
Dowd couldn’t speak any further.
It was because Atalante burst out laughing at such a natural answer.
‘Ah, truly, a fine piece.’
This boy always subverted her expectations.
She couldn’t remember when was the last time she met someone like this.
“Just take it. People with as much bad luck as you will need it.”
Moreover, he had just entertained her this much, she should give him a reward at least.
“If you know what it is, then you should how know it works too. Use it properly, get what you need, and then show me the result. If I like it, I’ll give you an additional gift. Alright?”
Dowd took the card in a daze, as she said with a wink.
“…I’ve never thought of receiving homework from the Headmistress.”
“Oh, speaking of that, I actually have something else in mind for your homework.”
“How are you getting along with the Hero candidate and Lady Tristan?”
Dowd’s expression terribly twisted at the mention of their names. To the extent that even Atalante herself was taken aback.
This was a man who didn’t even flinch when hearing devil worshippers attack the academy.
“…Well, I would love to get along with them, I suppose.”
Meanwhile, his body was screaming that he didn’t want to get involved with them.
“Then try to get along well with them.”
Nevertheless, she had no choice but to leave these words.
“Is there any reason why it must be so?”
She replied with a soft smile.
“The world will end, otherwise.”
She couldn’t help but laugh again seeing Dowd’s stare that says, “Is the end of the world so easy?”
Well, this wasn’t a lie either.
The ultimate goal of the plan would be achieved through these three people.
“The end of the world…”
I aimlessly walked, while repeating what I heard from Atalante earlier.
In truth, I didn’t quite understand what it really meant. Simply because it was on such a grandiose scale.
In the game, the end of the world was merely the bad ending. However, the fact that my actions could now influence something like this, and I would get a first-hand experience of the result of that, was quite overwhelming…
‘…Let’s think about this later.’
Rather than that…
“I got this.”
I looked at the black card in my hand.
This is a kind of key that opens the door to another world.
This was something that was practically never given to the player character. In fact, even within the Academy faculty, only those as high up as the Deans or the Headmistress were aware of its existence.
And I think I knew why the production team made it that way.
If they gave you something like this from the very beginning, it could completely ruin the balance of the game.
I didn’t expect to receive this so suddenly. Was it because I successfully completed the main quest and the emergency mission?
But that didn’t mean that I liked this development.
‘The main scenario is out of order.’
The PURIFIER group was only supposed to appear a few months later. Those who haven’t even had their classes sorted shouldn’t have heard this information.
The scenario was progressing much faster than expected.
In other words, I also needed to grow as fast as possible.
It’s the point where the main character and the final boss intertwine. Whether I like it or not, it’s obvious that I would get involved in the scenario in one way or another.
I took a deep breath and organized my thoughts.
The Purifier was a notoriously vicious early boss, so much so that he gained the moniker of newbie cutter.
Even with [Desperation], considering his specialty… I could really die here.
‘But with this…’
I turned the black card over in my palm.
Things could be a lot easier than I thought.
It all depended on how I use the materials I get from the space that I’ll enter using this card.
I organized the ways I could utilize my resources.
The Monster Research Department, the access to the Vision Warehouse, and Percy’s one-time request ticket. If I use them all strategically…
I’m sure there was something I could create that would make the Purifier boss fight go smoothly.
“Ah, here you are. I was looking for you.”
As I was walking down the hallway, I suddenly someone calling me which snapped me out of my thoughts.
It was the Knight School’s Dean— Conrad Baltador.
“You were looking for me? What’s the matter?”
“Your class is still undecided, but there was a notice from the Academic Affairs Committee that you can’t fall behind because of that. Take this.”
The Dean was telling me this himself.
Am I so special for them to treat me like this?
“It’s a temporary class. You can take classes together with these students starting tomorrow.”
… Are you fucking kidding me?
“…Is this correct?”
“Is there anything wrong?”
Uh, there is.
With trembling hands, I pointed to the list of students.
Class Representative— Eleanor Elinalise La Tristan.
Vice Class Representative— Iliya Krisanax.
I don’t need to look at the other students. I can already smell the scent of doom just from these two names alone.
Why am I being put into the same class as these two, of all people?
“Is this correct?”
“Why is the Student Council President taking classes with the freshmen…?”
“Ah, right… About that.”
Then Conrad said with a cool smile.
“It’s the Headmistress’ order, so it can’t be wrong.”
Come to think of it, I remember her talking about some homework.
Try to get along well with them.
‘I suddenly had the urge to kill someone, that hag.’
I mean it………. Fuck…!