༺ Everyday Life (1)༻
She was all alone in the shivering cold forest.
Actually, she wasn’t literally by herself.
There were animals. The predators of the forest were trembling in fear next to her and thus, it might be possible to say that she was not alone since she was with the beasts.
The demonic beasts that used to be the target of fear were now frightened because of her. For some unknown reason or because of some shift in values, that inexplicable fear made her feel rather content.
Her scorching thirst and the shivering cold encouraged her to drink their blood but the thirst never went away and her heart was still cold.
I see… My heart, and my veins do not pulse anymore…
That was when the boy came looking for her. With a whole crew, he was probably here to subjugate her.
Right… It was a natural turn of events. The tiny sliver of rationality left in her mind allowed her to predict the outcome of her life as an animal.
“It’s fine. You can slow down.”
The hand tapping on her back was soft; and the touching skins conveyed warmth to her body. Her rationality which had been floating adrift settled back down to her body from the torrent of emotions.
“It’s fine. It’s fine.”
At last when she managed to remove the bestial instincts and regained her humanity—
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry… I’m… sorry.”
The only words that she could force out of her mouth was that of an apology.
Do I even have the right to ask for forgiveness?
Was Isabelle okay? What about junior?
As a girl who loved people more than anything else, her conscience and the sense of guilt gnawed at her mind with each passing day.
Without retaliating against the restrictive spell of Lady Josephine, Marie locked herself on the other side of iron bars.
When the boy visited her at the prison, she was in fact psychologically impoverished even though she didn’t show it on the outside.
What if I went crazy again?
There’ll be no turning back if I end up killing people…
Marie could still remember her own self when she had been driven by her instincts into constantly craving blood. The memories of her rationality being chased out and the separation of her mind and the body still gave her goosebumps.
She was a beast – a monster; and a demon.
She was the enemy of humanity who might suddenly start coveting blood. Was someone like her allowed to act like a normal person?
『Senior Marie. You’re a nice person. You’re kind, and you’re pretty… Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I want a happy ending for you if anything. So… I want Marie Dunareff to be happy.』
She regained her usual state of mind in the blink of an eye. His words immediately sent all of her concerns flying out the window.
The words that he said while shyly scratching his twitching cheeks felt more sincere and earnest than anything else she had heard in her entire life.
And because she remembered the boy’s devotion of putting his body on the line to save her who had turned into a monster…
Marie knew that those memories would forever be etched in her mind until the end of her life.
How would she ever forget it? How would she possibly forget that intense and heated moment, and the sincere goodwill and dedication of the boy?
He was the one who warmed up her cold veins and allowed her tranquil heart to start beating again.
『Senior Marie. You’re a nice person. You’re kind, and you’re pretty…』
『It’s okay. You can slow down.』
In a fit, she kicked the blanket off of her body. The cold dews of the night weren’t enough to cool down the heat pervading her body in the dead of the night.
Overall, there weren’t that many lessons at Merkarva Academy.
However, there were comparatively a lot more freshmen classes, which was probably because there were a lot of fundamental and essential skills like bookkeeping, camping and map-reading lectures, which were given out during the first year.
“Hey. Look at this.”
We were in the middle of a domestic lesson – after learning how to sew ripped clothes in the previous lesson, we were now working on creating rations to have during a mission.
“What do you… Puhup!”
“Jaeger. You… kukuk!”
“What is it?”
“Hoh, damn. That’s crazy.”
“Uwek… that’s disgusting. Boys are seriously just…”
“Don’t come here. It’s not funny.”
At the center of the mixed reactions from male and female audiences, Jaeger seemed proud of his creation.
In the middle of two balls of minced meat that you could swallow at once was a large mushroom which was easy to find in the mountains – that was Jaeger’s take on ration.
“How does it look, Korin! Don’t you feel like eating it?”
“Looks like something that freaking Park would love.”
“Just some stupid guy out there. Anyway, you should do that when you can~. When you’re old, you can’t even make jokes like that even if you want to.”
Because you could get ostracized in an instant.
Well, leaving aside whether Jaeger was going to be ostracized or not, it seemed that his love life at the Academy had just been rendered impossible.
“Seriously. Just boy’s stuff…”
“Let’s not talk to him.”
Even Jaeger seemed flustered after sensing the reactions of the female students who accounted to roughly half of both the Knight and the Magic Department, but it was already far too late.
“Umm… Please don’t come here. We are not that close, are we? Uhh, Mielle! Is that a pound cake? It does have a lot of calories, so I think it’s a great choice.”
“Korrriiiinn…! You traitor…!”
What was he even talking about? Of course you had to go with the girls in domestic lectures for good marks.
“Looks great. Can I have a bite?”
“Ehew~. Must be rough having a friend like that. Here you go.”
“Ohh, that’s refreshing. It will be even more amazing with tea.”
“Tea? Don’t you think it’ll be tedious to boil tea all the time when we’re outside?”
“Not necessarily. Tea bags are small and light, and it’s hard to have access to fresh water outside so boiling the water into a tea is a good way to filter the water.”
“Wow~. Thanks for telling me that. Do you want another bite?”
“I’ll be glad to. Ohh, this is seriously amazing. Mielle, I think you could even run a bakery.”
“Now that’s definitely an overstatement.”
I returned to my seat after chattering with some of the girls and trying out their stuff when Lark came over to me. Lark was making smoked salmon and was thus taking a fair bit of time.
“Korin. What are you even making? Why are you making the potatoes so thin?”
“Huhu. This is what I call the cutting-edge technology of rations. A revolution!”
“What are you talking about?”
I pressed down on boiled potato chunks with a hot rolling pin and made them as thin as paper. There were already 20 sheets of them.
With a little bit of water and a bit of stirring, these sheets of thin potato could turn into mashed potatoes, and could also become like hash browns after frying them with some oil.
You could pretty much carry an infinite amount of potatoes if you continued pressing down on them, which was why it was a popular ration during World War II.
It would become a proper dish with a luxurious ingredient like cream or milk, but the prime goal of this thing was to fill up your stomach which was why it needed a compromise.
I used to carry a lot of these when we were going outside on a long mission.
“Hmm. I definitely wasn’t expecting you to use potatoes like this. Was that why you heated up the rolling pin?”
Professor Lulara of Alchemic studies, who was in charge of this lesson, looked into my product with an intrigued look on her face.
“To think you would make a preservative food like this without even using magic… I’m sure the Knight Department would love this idea. Student Korin. I’ll give you merit points for that, well done.”
“Wow. Thank you.”
“If you’re alright with it, I would even want to check with the department and see if there is a possibility of this being used in the practical world.”
“Ohh. Then please call it Korin Potato later on.”
By the way, it was called Park Sihu Potato in the previous iteration. That son of a bitch – it was my idea and yet by the time I realized it, there was something called ‘Park Sihu Potato’ added in the midst of the standard rations of the military and the guardians.
“And Student Jaeger? You get demerit points for misconduct.”
With that, Jaeger now had 3 demerit points. Starting from minus 5, he would have to start cleaning the campus and stuff, and he was quite close to it now.
– Dude. Did you hear that?
– What is it?
– You know Senior Marie, the highest achiever from 2nd year’s Magic Department, right?
– Ohh~. You mean that Senior Potato?
– I heard this from a senior in the 2nd year, but apparently they’re done with her inspection!
– Really? Is she actually safe?
– Who knows? According to the chairman, she is.
It had already been a week since Marie’s incident.
The news of Marie awakening into a demi-human had been publicized shortly after that, and everything was literally in utter chaos.
Actually, awakening into a demi-human wasn’t rare in this world, because the demonic molecules could be aroused by anything in existence. There were quite a lot of them, and there were even residential areas dedicated for demi-humans.
The problem, however, was that it concerned the prodigy of the 2nd year’s Magic Department, Marie, and another noteworthy fact was that the genius had awakened into one of the more dangerous demi-humans, vampires.
On the first day, there were mixed responses from the students.
Shouldn’t we chase her out? It’s scary. How can we even go to the same Academy as a demi-human?
However, their arguments were rejected in an instant because of the existence of Hua Ran, a demi-human freshman. Leaving aside the potential risk of Hua Ran, she was currently commuting to the Academy without creating any problems so the threat of demi-humans wasn’t something that felt as realistic.
A week after the announcement that Marie had awakened into a vampire – after all sorts of complaints and queries from the Kingdom, the Tower of Mages, the Old Faith, the New Faith, the Guardian Alliance and other places, and after innumerable professors from the Magic Department checked up with her while basing off of countless books that told of the traits of a vampire, Marie was finally deemed to be safe.
As of yesterday, Marie was announced to be completely safe, and it was also announced that she would enter a special dormitory under the personal supervision of Senior Professor Josephine.
Because of that, Marie had naturally been at the center of every conversation in the campus for the past few days, and that was no different for one of the related personnel, Jaeger.
“Oi. That demon senior… I mean, Senior Marie is coming out today right?”
“I think so? And don’t even think about calling her a ‘demon’ and whatever in front of the 2nd year seniors. You’ll be actually bashed to death.”
Jaeger didn’t seem confident in containing his chattery mouth.
“Ohh~ Korin. You’re pretty good at cooking aren’t you?”
“That mashed potato looks nice. Looks like you have a lot, so do you mind me trying a little?”
“Just wait. Let me pack some of it up first.”
The mashed potato that was made with the remainder from the potato sheets was quite decent. After packing some of it up, I ate the rest with the other guys which marked a successful end to the domestic lesson.
“Sorry, Isabelle. I… I’m so sorry…”
“No! I, I’m telling you it’s okay.”
At the back door of the central lecture building, Isabelle was starting to feel tired from the constant over-the-top apology of her friend. On the first day of Marie awakening into a vampire, Isabelle had been attacked and had been unconscious for a long time.
Having her blood sucked out was by no means a good experience, but Isabelle had her own share of combat experience as a 2nd year student of the Magic Department. She was rather used to being exposed to fights and blood losses.
Marie was more important than that. When Isabelle ran to her after hearing the news and called her name while gasping for breath, what she had gotten in response was Marie taking a step back in fear.
‘Marie was crying back then, wasn’t she?’
How scary would it have been for her? How confusing would everything have been?
Isabelle was as empathetic as a person could be when it came to things related to Marie, who had been her roommate ever since their 1st year at the Academy.
She heard how vampires would usually be swept away by their intense impulse to suck blood when first awakening into one. Isabelle was very proud of how Marie had been able to stop herself in the middle and come to her senses.
“I’m sorry… I thought about how I should apologize but there’s nothing I can do… this is the only thing I can do to ask for your apology…”
“It’s okay, it’s okay! It’s normal for things like this to sometimes happen in life!”
As expected of Marie’s friend, she had a bright and optimistic perspective.
That was why she had readily accepted the offer of Chairman Eriu and Lady Josephine who requested her to refrain from mentioning the fact that her blood had been sucked by Marie for Marie’s sake.
Even though they promised to give her a significant present as compensation, Isabelle adamantly turned them down.
Her belief was that compensation was unnecessary when protecting a friend.
Now that Marie had regained her sense of self and had more than enough verifications from the professors of the Magic Department, there should be no need to mention this topic again.
“You’ll be going into the special dormitory soon, right?”
“N, nn… Just in case.”
“Marie. Everyone will still be your friends, and that’s the same with me. Do you still consider me your friend?”
“Of course. But…”
Isabelle patted Marie who was immersed in her sense of guilt.
“Thank you, Isabelle.”
Marie leaned her small and adorable body on Isabelle’s chest. In Isabelle’s eyes, Marie still looked adorable and cute even when she was gloomy from guilt.
Feeling like the characters of a youth drama, Isabelle was very content with the satisfying turn of events. She was open-minded enough to disregard the experience of her blood being sucked out.
“Oh, there you are.”
It was when she was savoring Marie’s hug that a seemingly insolent and arrogant… yet cheerful voice echoed across.
Marie’s voice was directed beyond her shoulders. When Isabelle stiffly turned her gaze to the back, she saw a boy who gave off a wild impression.
She had seen him before. He was the freshman student who that stupid Kane picked a fight with for no reason – he was a subject of caution who Marie had been greatly interested in these days.
“W, why are you here?!”
Marie asked as her golden pupils glistened and blinked cheerfully, in contrast with the gloomy look from before. During her question, she jumped out of Isabelle’s hug and hopped her way towards him.
The only thing Isabelle could do was watch the girl run forward in a hurry.
“You’re looking healthy.”
“Nn! It’s been a while!”
“Has it? We saw each other two days ago, didn’t we?”
What? What was going on?
Why was Marie talking cheerfully with that freshman who she met two days ago, instead of me, her friend whom she hadn’t met for a week?
More importantly, were normal students even allowed to visit her two days ago?
They seemed quite close as well, didn’t they? Why was that freshman talking casually to Marie, whom every 2nd year student was dying to talk to?
“Here. Congrats on your discharge.”
“Wow! Mashed potatoes! It’s my favorite!”
“Have that when you’re hungry, and this one here is also for you.”
“It’s given to people that come out of prison in hopes they live a pure life from now on1TLN: When people get discharged from prison, their friends or family would bring tofu. It’s white and it symbolizes purity. The common rule is to eat it raw without any condiments or sauces, because adding spices or other ingredients ruins the symbolic meaning of having a white tofu.. Well, it’s just an Eastern culture.”
“Wow~. Korin you’re so smart!”
Marie unhesitatingly dug into the white and unseasoned tofu.
Then, she gave a bright smile with bulging cheeks without even swallowing the tofu inside her mouth. Gazing down at her with a facial expression that wasn’t too different from Isabelle’s was the freshman boy.
“Why don’t you take your time? Slow down.”
“Uht, uuhht! Mhmm! Ahht?!”
As if those words overlapped with something from the past, Marie reacted like a broken doll. Her cheeks were deeply flushed in red as she took several steps back and immediately hid herself behind Isabelle’s back.
“I, it’s… nothin… I mean, thanks for the tofu! It’s great! Ah, actually, I need to go somewhere with Isabelle!”
Marie blabbered gibberish while making up things that they hadn’t even decided on.
It was good that Marie had returned to her, but Isabelle couldn’t help but notice the meaning behind Marie’s gaze.
‘See you later, thank you. I’m a bit busy!’ saying that, Marie looked keen on sending Korin away and yet was constantly sneaking a glance at his face.
“Are you busy? Well, that’s unfortunate. Take care of yourself and see you next time.”
“Aht. Nn? Umm… okay…”
Isabelle did not miss the look of regret that flashed past her eyes.
This can’t be!
Isabelle’s instincts warned her that this was that thing.
She had no idea how that freshman was able to deceive this lovely and adorable highest-achieving student of the 2nd year Magic Department, but the animosity that rose inside her from the sense of betrayal that she received from Marie was instead pointed at the man.
He looked like a wolf and a bad guy who would have made countless girls sad.
In her eyes, his wild appearance suddenly appeared to be that of a delinquent; his muscular body looked like that of a savage bully of the Knight Department; and his easy-going and considerate actions as that of a fully-experienced playboy.
Isabelle pitifully gazed at her friend but without understanding the message implied by her gaze, Marie simply lamented in regret.
“S, see you later…”
There were so many things Isabelle wanted to say after seeing Marie shyly force out her words of farewell after the boy was pretty much gone, but swallowed most of them back.
“N, nn? Why?”
“Men… are all wolves. Be careful.”
“Umm? Is Korin also a wolf then?”
Geez. Is that who you immediately thought of? Are you not even going to try to hide it?
“Wolf… wolf… Nn. That’s a cool animal.”
The advice that Isabelle gave in fear that this innocent and unaware girl might make a mistake ended up bringing about a reaction that was completely different from her intention.
I heard that the special dormitory where Marie would be going into would be a building that had a mixed appearance of the western and the eastern continents. It was probably going to be the same dormitory as the one Hua Ran was in.
I could only hope that Marie would be fine at the special dormitory away from her friends, and be on good terms with the one and only other person that would be living there with her.
My stats had an explosive increase after resolving Marie’s incident. 100 points… that was the same as leveling up 20 times. I also earned 15 points through several missions on the weekend, and that summed up to 115 points.
Besides, both the Aura Rank and the Mana Rank went up by one level.
Even though the equal distribution of stats meant that my stats wouldn’t be distributed efficiently, the sheer amount of stat gain was enough to make my body incomparably different from before.
Now with this, my physique was at an okay level.
As long as I raised my Aura Rank and consumed the Mandrakes that were growing up nicely… I should be able to use the Sixth Style before the final boss fight of the 2nd Arc.
Considering how I could only use the Sixth Style near the end of the previous iteration, it was a ridiculous growth speed.
In the upcoming 2nd Arc, my individual strength would also become extremely important, so I had to reach the sufficient level as soon as possible.
‘Huhu. I have Mandrakes.’
Just thinking of the three Mandrake brothers that should be growing nicely at the dormitory made my heart race!
‘That much should be enough. The concerns are the Murderer of the City of Fog and the King of Iron Mountain… as well as dealing with that traitor.’
The Murderer, John Doe, was a key that would link me to Lunia Arden. It will be through this event that Alicia will grow into the True Alicia mode.
Alicia Arden was the key character of the 2nd Arc’s storyline. She needed to learn Domain Severance and defeat the final boss of the 2nd Arc, ‘King of Iron Mountain’ with the help of Sword Master Lunia Arden.
And because I had to deal with that bothersome guy by myself, I had to save my strength as much as possible during the fight against the King of Iron Mountain.
Well, there was still some time until this would happen. The ‘Murderer of the City of Fog’ incident which had acted as the catalyst that awakened Marie in the original storyline hadn’t even occurred yet.
However, there was the chance that the events would happen earlier than scheduled like what happened recently, so I had to prepare as much as possible ahead of time.
“What is Alicia even doing these days?”
She used to come to the training rooms a few times on the first few days but I couldn’t even see her shadow these days.
That talented yet weak-minded and untraining genius – when exactly would she start wielding her sword properly?
Because I knew of her talents and her circumstances, I simply waited for the time being.
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- 1TLN: When people get discharged from prison, their friends or family would bring tofu. It’s white and it symbolizes purity. The common rule is to eat it raw without any condiments or sauces, because adding spices or other ingredients ruins the symbolic meaning of having a white tofu.