༺ Dupe Bug (2) ༻
The Iron Lady, the old veteran who had been serving the Merkarva Academy for 80 years, Lady Josephine, was racking her brain due to the constant complaints.
『Our Order cannot permit the admission of demons into the Academy! This is a serious criminal conduct against humanity!』
『There have been many concerns in the royal family about the Chairman’s continuous acceptance of demons.』
『The Tower of Mages requests your cooperation for research into a living vampire.』
『Accepting demons as students? You guys are playing with fire right now.』
Those were the stances of the Old Faith, the royal family, the Tower of Mages and the Alliance, but it wasn’t as if they were too much to handle.
Except for the Old Faith which was a group of fundamentalists, Chairman Eriu had a good hold of the royal family and the Alliance and as for the greedy mages of the Tower, it was possible to negotiate with them.
The Old Faith was the only one with a strong resistance, but their forces were nothing compared to what they were like in the past.
『Our Order supports the Chairman’s recent actions. I believe everyone should be given the same opportunity.』
There were many believers who escaped the stiff and corrupt state of the Old Faith through the religious revolution and founded the New Faith. They, who now became the mainstream religion of the world, announced that they would walk a different path to that of the Old Faith.
One of their representative ideologies was their friendly attitude towards demi-humans. Thanks to that, the Academy was able to borrow the power of religion to settle the crowd for now but…
The youth wearing a clean suit while carrying a walking stick – the Chairman – came to bid farewell while placing a top hat over his head.
“I will have to leave for a while,” he said.
“Would you like me to go instead?”
The Chairman was now going to visit various organizations with documents about Marie that had been prepared by the professors of the Magic Department.
Several professors like Professor Ronan were going to follow Chairman Eriu and use the supporting documents to prove that Marie could control her bloodsucking impulse.
“For other places it might be okay, but you wouldn’t want to go to the Old Faith, would you?”
Closing her eyes, Josephine reflected on the rampant witch hunt that happened a hundred years ago. That brutal scenery during her youth was still vivid in her memories.
“Please take care of this place while I’m away.”
Josephine went to the entrance of the city to send the Chairman off. It took less than 10 seconds with her dimensional spell.
“Use the emergency contact if something happens.”
“I will. I wish you a safe journey.”
After sending him off, Josephine took his role and continued working.
One of the agendas was a new demonic beast experiment of Professor Deina and a collaboration with Professor Fermack. Because it was an experiment of a sealed Unique Grade demonic beast, it was hard to permit professors with less than 10 years of service.
‘This will be the 10th year of Professor Fermack. It should be fine to allow it.’
Next up on the agenda was from Old Man Haman, who had been working at the Academy for 30 years, where he included his plans for a joint training session during the summer holiday. It was an annual event so Josephine permitted it without much hesitation.
“An experiment of a vampire’s regeneration? Professor Jack? Does he think he’s still at the Tower of Mages?”
“Construction of the 3rd dormitory? Hmm…”
“Permission for a new restaurant? This…”
From the look of things, it was an eastern fish restaurant. It seemed to be a restaurant that served raw fish on rice which was a trend these days among the young ones.
Josephine could give off a whole speech about how barbaric it was to eat raw fish, but thinking that this was probably a culture of the young ones that she couldn’t understand, she postponed the judgment for the time being.
‘Wasn’t Hua Ran very interested in this barbaric food?’
She even went to the city recently after applying for an official exit permit. Considering how she used to be reluctant about getting an official permit because of how she had to hang a tracking artifact all the time, it was a surprise how obedient she was.
It was evident that the child’s recent change was because of that one knight boy.
An early stop to Marie’s incident at the start of the semester and an even fight against Sword Master Lunia Arden, as well as assisting with the subjugation of the infamous killer, John Doe – there were so many things he had done and recently, it seemed that there had been several heated debates among the professors of the Knight Department about Korin Lork.
It was on whether they could leave a student at that level at ‘Grade 5’ or not.
Josephine was also interested in this proficient student for a slightly different reason.
A Grade 5 Knight who stopped Marie as if he had predicted it, who then had a surprisingly even fight against Lunia Arden. After that, he even helped with defeating the infamous John Doe.
“…A request for a location to harvest a Mandrake?”
Spotting the name of a person whom she had been just thinking of, Josephine carefully observed the application.
The seed that could be exchanged for 100 points during the prac lesson at the hunting grounds was the Seed of a Mandrake.
Although Professor Lulara of Alchemy should have taught the students about how to raise Mandrakes already, harvesting was a different issue.
It was because Mandrakes tended to let out a ridiculous scream as soon as they were plucked out of the ground.
This scream even had a magic damage to it so no matter how tough a knight was, their eardrums could still erupt and might even die in the worst case scenario.
That was why applications had to be submitted when it was time to harvest them.
“…There’s nothing wrong but…”
Considering the potential risk of harvesting a Mandrake, it was nothing strange for an application to be submitted. Besides, Korin had also attached a plan of how he would boil it into a stew after the harvest.
There was nothing wrong with the application but there was something that weighed on her mind and that was the location.
“…That can’t be.”
Did he know where this was? Josephine immediately shook her head while telling herself that it was impossible.
Because the only ones that knew of that secret were herself, the Chairman, and… the traitor from 80 years ago.
On the western side of the Academy past the Merkarva Great Library was a large laboratory that was loved by the Magic Department.
The labs were close to the dormitory of the Magic Department students and after going deeper into the premises towards the labs of the professors, one could smell a very deep fragrance of herbs.
“Are we going to harvest the Mandrakes at a place like this?”
Alicia asked in doubt while being wary of the surrounding empty plot of land which had nothing but dry leaves. This place did give off a very ominous aura.
“How much do you know about Mandrakes?”
“Umm… I know they scream a lot when they are uprooted.”
“Right. So when you’re harvesting Mandrakes, you need to make sure your eardrums don’t explode. A high-quality earplug is a must and it’s better if you’re in an empty plot of land.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to do it indoors if you want to reduce the risk of having other people get caught up?”
Her question was very reasonable but there was a scientific reason behind why we couldn’t do it indoors.
“You see… sound gets reflected.”
There was a time when I was super into speakers. After buying the best 8-inch speakers and 12-inch subwoofers, I fine-tuned the room by attaching sound absorbing panels all around.
What I learned during that process was that ‘sound’ was reflected after hitting a wall.
Now, what would happen if the scream of a Mandrake, which was as loud as the full volume of a concert speaker, was to echo inside a sealed room? And what if that high note had additional magic damage on it?
“It’ll be infinite splash damage…”
“It’s a thing. Anyway, harvesting a Mandrake indoors is the same as killing yourself.”
It only required a few clicks of a button during the game so I wasn’t aware of it until Professor Lulara, who experimented with Mandrakes, told me about it in the last iteration.
She talked about a fearsome experiment that killed a demonic beast in 10 seconds. That was when I first realized that monsters could be killed due to exploded eardrums.
“Did you check if there was anyone nearby?”
“Yes. I put down the warning signs as well. By the way, why did you choose the back of the laboratory?”
“Because no-one comes here.”
The place I chose for the Mandrake harvest was behind the western laboratory of the Academy. The land here used to be maintained to grow various magic organisms but a mistake with a prototype ended up polluting the entire plot of land which thus resulted in its abandonment.
…Or at least that was the public excuse behind why this place was sealed off.
‘There’s actually a secret passage connecting to the underground laboratory here.’
The special underground laboratory which only a few of the professors of the Academy were allowed into had all sorts of demonic beasts and spirits sealed inside, and this place had a passage connecting to the laboratory.
There were only about 4 people aside from me in this world who knew about this secret passage.
Now, some explanation was required to justify why such a vicious place was here inside the Academy campus.
There were quite a few Unique Grade demonic beasts and spirits that couldn’t be physically killed. An example was the King of Iron Mountain which was unkillable without a special skill.
These monsters had to be sealed somewhere, and because they would be immediately stolen when sealed in a random place, they had to be placed under the direct supervision of strong people and stuff but…
“Don’t these get busted every time anyway? Is this even meaningful?”
Both back when I was playing the game and in the last iteration, I became way too used to seeing strong and sealed monsters being unsealed. In fact, the final boss of the 2nd Arc, ‘King of Iron Mountain’ was a prime example of an incident breaking out during an experiment, right?
“We’re going to begin.”
“Please don’t say something like that from the side.”
“It’s to… make sure we stay vigilant.”
I placed down the flowerpots where the Mandrakes were planted. Each of the pots had gold, silver and normal Mandrakes planted inside. Well, a Mandrake was already far from being normal though.
In any case, I took out an earplug – a special one that was crafted with the skin of a Northern Silver Fox. Both Alicia and I wore it in our ears and prepared ourselves.
“Ranger Alicia! Are you ready?”
“I am ready, Captain!”
Mandrakes couldn’t be harvested alone. You needed one person to grab the flower and pull it out, as well as a helper to immediately cut the roots from the stem. As long as the roots stayed intact with the stem, the Mandrake would continue its ridiculous scream.
“Huu… Am I shivering?”
“I, I’m also getting very nervous.”
This was my fourth time harvesting a Mandrake. In the last iteration, it required the collaboration of me and Mr. Park.
I pulled it out while he sliced it apart with magic.
“Huu…! Let’s go!”
I grabbed onto the stem of the planted Mandrake and…
“Here we go!”
I pulled it out in one go.
The bare face of the Mandrake was revealed on the roots as soon as I uprooted it. It was a horrid face that appeared like a newborn baby that was 200 years older.
The guy seemed slightly startled by the sudden sunlight but nonetheless, it immediately opened its mouth.
Its scream echoed like crazy all across. If this was my child screaming, I would have been very glad from how loud it was, and would have thought he was the second coming of Alexander the Great or something.
“Do it now. Alicia! Aliciaa?!”
Now’s your time to shine, True Alicia! Show us your swordsmanship that can even reach the Domai…!
I had no idea when it happened but Alicia was lying down with her face on the ground and was foaming from her mouth. Looking at how one of her ear plugs was loose, I realized that her ears hadn’t been under protection the whole time.
This idiot wasn’t wearing the earplugs properly!
I was the only person here with earplugs and at this point, there was no other choice but for me to cut off the stems of the Mandrake myself!
Taking out a knife from my pocket, I ran it back and forth on the stem like a saw as it then started raising its voice.
Could I last until I was done cutting it off? The Mandrake’s voice was getting increasingly louder.
“Dude, you think you’re good at high notes or something?”
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth! I will offset your sound with my sound – I am from Korea, a country that possesses IU! I will show you what the 3 high notes are like1[TLN: Good Day by IU (Korean singer) is famous for having 3 consecutive high notes near the end of the song.]!!
“KIEEEEEEEEEEE! I’M LOSING BRAIN CEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLS!!”
– Slit slit!
– Slit slit! Chop!
While canceling the Mandrake’s scream with my own, I finally managed to cut off its stem.
The scream slowly subsided and I then threw its ugly face down and similarly collapsed onto the ground.
It felt like my ears were filled with blood. Did my eardrums pop a little?
Uhh, if I remember correctly, I think the Yellow Gold and the White Silver Mandrakes were a lot noisier than the normal ones though…
“Oi. Get up.”
Tap! I tapped on the fallen Alicia who then immediately stood up from the ground.
“Hauhk…! I, I wasn’t sleeping!”
“As if you weren’t… Wipe your drool before saying that.”
Alicia lowered her head in embarrassment while wiping the foamy drools from her mouth.
“Don’t worry. I was going to harvest up to Silver today but…”
Could I trust Alicia? Seeing how she wobbled immediately after standing up and crumbled back down, I just couldn’t help but doubt her.
That was when I heard the sound of something dropping from a high place and turned my eyes to the side. There should have been signs about restricted entry so why was someone walking towards us?
“Hello, Korin. What are you two doing here?”
The trespasser was in fact a completely unexpected person. Rather than a trespasser, it would be more correct to say that she was an uninvited guest.
“Senior Marie? Didn’t you say you had an experiment at the laboratory today?”
“Nn. It was noisy so I jumped down.”
Jumped down? From where?
I unconsciously lifted my gaze and found out that one of the windows of the tall laboratory building was open at a strange angle.
It’s around the 12th floor. Did she jump from there?
“…Senior. You seriously should try becoming a knight.”
“Mhmm… Maybe if you teach me, Korin. I saw you going around with Junior Alicia the whole time at the training rooms.”
“Well, that’s because we’re both knights.”
“So, what were you two doing here?”
She sounded quite obstinate with that question though. Was I thinking too much? In any case, I showed her the dead Mandrake by pulling it up from the ground.
“I told you last time, right? That it was about time to harvest Mandrakes.”
“Ahah~ I see!”
Only then did Marie relax her expression and hop towards us.
“Are you going to pull the rest out as well?”
“We took some damage today so I was thinking of doing it later.”
“With Junior Alicia?”
“Hmm… We need two people for this so it is easier for me to pair up with Alicia.”
“Let me just do it for you!”
“Uhh, wait. It’ll be hard to cut that if you’re not a knigh…”
“Hmm~? Silver? That’s interesting.”
It was over! She pulled it out too early! The White Silver Mandrake was getting ready to let out a sonorous shriek!
W, wut the heck? Did the Mandrake just hiccup?
“We have a Mandrake farm at home, you see~. Even though we produce less than 30 a year, I’ve been harvesting them a lot back when I was young!”
“Uhh… How is that related to them not screaming…?”
Marie brought a finger to her lips and tilted her head, before blurting out as if she wasn’t sure about it herself.
“After harvesting them for about 5 years, they simply stopped screaming whenever I pulled them out!”
Umm, was this similar to how dogs became docile when seeing a vet?
The Mandrake couldn’t even dare scream anymore and was hiccuping with a gloomy look on its face.
“Look, Korin. For Mandrakes, you grab onto the stem like this.”
Marie used her tiny hands that were half the size of my arms to skilfully hold onto the stem and the roots, and twisted it in one go to separate the stem in an instant.
The Mandrake died with a single suppressed scream. Its corpse hung loose after a gruesome death.
“Korin. Are you going to boil it into a stew? Or are you going to eat it raw?”
“Umm… the sparkling ones will be eaten raw and the normal one will be used for a stew.”
“Really? That will take some time then. Junior Alicia?”
“Ah y, yes! Yes! Senior!”
“I will prepare the stew so while we’re waiting for that, can you bring something else to eat? Hmm… Some rabbit meat and potatoes will do.”
“Sorry? Uhh… D, do we have to?”
“Yes. I will make a rabbit stew for you!”
“A rabbit stew! Roger that, Captain!”
Alicia quickly ran off after a salute. Why did I suddenly lose my captain position?
“Umm… Senior Marie? What should I do?”
“You don’t have to do anything Korin.”
“You don’t have to do anything. I will do everything for you.”
Her words… had a strange charm that made it difficult for me to turn them down.
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- 1[TLN: Good Day by IU (Korean singer) is famous for having 3 consecutive high notes near the end of the song.]