༺ Finishing Touch (4) ༻
Josephine Clara was an old professor of the Academy who had been here for over 80 years. She was one of the old bigshots who had constantly been the Senior Professor of Merkarva Academy, and yet she had never been the Chairman in those 80 years.
Previous previous Chairman, Biren.
Previous Chairman, Bihu.
Current Chairman, Casarr.
All three of them were rookies who had all suddenly appeared out of nowhere and had less ability and fame than Lady Josephine.
Lady Josephine had never been in charge of the Academy, even though it wasn’t strange for her to have been the Chairman the whole time during those 80 years as the genius witch of history and a master at dimensional spells.
The reason for that was simple.
The position of the Chairman had always been reserved for one person.
“Sorry for sending your friends outside. It is something that has to be done in secret, after all.”
Eriu Casarr, Lady Josephine Clara, and I were the only ones left behind in the hospital room. It seemed that most of our encounters in this iteration were happening at the infirmary.
“Firstly, there are a few questions that we have to ask you. Please understand that we cannot gloss over this with ease, unlike what happened with Student Marie.”
She was still testing things out. In order to quickly progress our conversation, I tossed the Primal Rune that I collected from Fermack.
Lady Josephine immediately responded with a dimensional spell as if she perceived that as an attack. The rune of the Prime vanished in the air before soon reappearing on her palm.
After that, she glared daggers at me, but I could sense that she wasn’t sure whether she was supposed to show goodwill or hostility against me.
“Professor Fermack was a spy.”
The two of them lamented after hearing my words. A professor of the Academy who had been working for 10 years was actually a spy and the mastermind of this incident.
Even though there was no proof to back up my claim, the two should have noticed something after seeing his corpse.
A vow to the world that was engraved on the bodies of the great warriors of Shadow Paradise. There weren’t many people who knew of this ancient ability that offered a great amount of power to its user at the cost of high risk.
But there was still something that the two of them were unaware of.
“Do you know who sent him in as a spy?”
“Well… That’s something for us to investigate…”
And how long will that take? Probably after the 4th Arc or something. Instead of waiting until that point, I decided to tell them beforehand.
“Tates Valtazar. Fermack Daman is that man’s disciple.”
“That can’t be! 80 years ago, we…!”
Lady Josephine reacted with an agitated voice before quickly shutting her mouth. Eriu Casarr’s eyes were also trembling in disbelief.
“Six Ways of the Spear. Void. Precept. Don’t tell me you don’t know them, because you’re the one who taught him everything. For your reference, that’s the same for me.”
“…Don’t tell me you…”
The three above-mentioned abilities were all secrets of the race of Paradise. More importantly, Void, which came off of Six Ways of the Spear, was a technique that only had two users in the contemporary times.
And yet here I was telling them that I had also learned them. In other words, the conclusion they would come up with about me was…
“You’re Valtazar’s disciple…!”
A dimensional fissure appeared in an instant. Beyond the fissure that was activated with more speed than before were all sorts of corpses drooling while waiting to pounce at me.
‘Partholon’, the most threatening of all the shredded Shadow Paradise, huh. She was more serious than I thought.
One flick of her fingers and I would be swallowed by the plagued corpses of Partholon, but…
“Please stop with the bluff. It’s not like you’re going to kill people without being sure of their identity.”
I cursorily carved a rune in the air that meant ‘to close’ as the door to the dimension was forcibly shut down.
Lady Josephine was shocked by the fact that her dimensional spell had been shut down by a single rune. There were still tens of activated spells that were ready to be fired at me, but she must be shocked that I dispelled that particular one.
“Clara. Please cancel your spells.”
“Do as she says. The Chairman here is just a spare body anyway, right? I’m sure the true body is not even in the state to leave the Castle just yet.”
Even Chairman Eriu was surprised after hearing those words. Undoing the cast restricting my arm, I stood up from the bed and slowly walked to the young man… or rather, my Master, who should be controlling that humanoid doll.
“King of Iron Mountain? That’s just the beginning.”
“You… What exactly…”
“Your disciple, Valtazar is still alive and has built up power. He has become a lot stronger than before, and he’s no longer alone either.”
You guys won’t be enough to stop him.
“Because of your hesitation 80 years ago.”
Hearing that, Chairman Eriu slowly started to take several steps away from me. Her one and only mistake laid in her past indecisive action, which had been the result of her affection for her disciple.
“He survived and is now threatening this world.”
I reminded her of her mistake and pushed her into a corner. I made her traumatic memories to resurface.
“Now, because of the betrayal of your trusted disciple, the Prime has scattered all across the world. And you have only managed to recover two of them.”
One of them was the Primal Rune swallowed by the King of Iron Mountain. I reminded them how that one would have also been stolen without my help.
She admitted it. She had no choice but to admit the truth – the existence of Fermack Daman, who had been waiting for the right opportunity after infiltrating the Academy 10 years ago, was the proof.
Without giving them time to organize their thoughts, I pushed them further into a corner.
“The great stone of destiny, Lia Fail, is in the hands of Tates Valtazar. And he probably has most of the 4 treasures of Danu already.”
The original world of the race of Danu. When the path to Paradise comes down, Tates Valtazar would enter it while carrying the 4 treasures in his hands.
There was no way that Erin Danua wouldn’t know what that meant as the ‘Queen’.
“After a proper coronation, Tates Valtazar won’t be an usurper anymore. What comes next is very predictable, right? Erin Danua?”
I uncovered her secret.
Biren 80 years ago. Bihu 50 years ago. And now Casarr.
She, who used to observe the world using the body made of rune stone and all those fake names, was being shaken by my flood of extraordinary information.
The guilt that she couldn’t deal with Tates Valtazar; and the regret that she had raised someone like him up as her future successor.
That was her biggest mistake as a teacher who had taught innumerable disciples, and here I was throwing those facts at her face.
“What exactly… is your goal?”
I took off my clothes in front of ‘her’, who was in the shape of a man.
Above the scars and wounds was the indestructible Precept on my body. Josephine and Erin, my Master, gasped after seeing it.
They were under the impression that I was an evil disciple of the Evil King, the usurper Tates Valtazar, and yet there was a very contradictory Precept engraved on my body. I had revealed all my hands and gave them my most crucial information, and yet the two of them were the ones that stepped back in shock.
Pushing her further into the corner, I placed my hand on the wall next to her and gazed down into her eyes. I saw the stupefied look on my Master’s face. Even the fake body was unable to conceal her clear blue eyes.
“We have the same goal in mind.”
“…Are you trying to stop him?”
“To protect this world, I will gladly become your first spear. You can even treat me like a hound.”
I was showing a very oppressive and insolent attitude but… there was no other way around it. There were too many suspicious parts about me for us to form a regular relationship of trust.
Even so, I wanted this person to live.
『Child, I am an adult. As long as I am an adult, I have the duty to prioritize your safety as a child.』
Her back which she showed me at the end, was still a vivid and painful memory.
This time, it was my turn to protect her.
It was a dark palace with no signs of sunlight. There was a red carpet on the floor, and the only source of light was from the ambient lighting of the lamp stone.
At the end of that chamber was a dark throne of stone, sleeping on which was a single lady.
Her hair which seemed to have been made from melting silver was reflecting the light from the lamp stone to brighten up the dark throne.
Visiting her in that lonesome place was her one and only friend.
A blonde-haired lady entered the palace through a dimensional gate. Josephine walked towards the lady sitting on the throne, who slowly opened her blue eyes in response.
“I… am against it.”
Josephine’s emerald eyes weren’t as resolute as usual. Even she was confused, and that served to show just how shocking everything they heard today was.
For about 100 years, Josephine had been living with Erin Danua… who was currently indulging in her past memories.
“Tates… is still alive.”
Just like she did to Josephine, Erin had showered Tates with love, if not more. She, who had been alive since the ancient times, had been looking for a successor and had been considering Tates as the inheritor to the throne.
However, she was betrayed by that trusted disciple and hesitated at the last second when she was supposed to deal the final blow.
This was the result of her past inaction, and she had to take responsibility for it.
“Can we… trust him?”
He was a strong-willed boy with burning red eyes. What exactly was he, she wondered.
“I know. I… shouldn’t easily trust people.”
What she received in return for her trust was the betrayal 80 years ago. She couldn’t easily trust the boy called Korin Lork, who had suddenly appeared like a comet, nor should she. However…
“Let’s keep an eye. For now… we can’t be sure of anything.”
As someone who was bearing a large burden, it was an obvious choice. She couldn’t bear more risk.
Even though he stopped Fermack from retrieving the Primal Rune… and even though he had vowed to save the world… there was still the possibility of everything being a trap to deceive her.
But one thing she just couldn’t understand was…
“Why… was he looking at me so pitifully?”
Was she imagining things? The silver queen re-entered her slumber with unresolved doubt lingering in her mind.
On the last day of the semester at Merkarva Academy was the grade adjustment ceremony, where they reassigned grades to students depending on their achievement.
This grade adjustment was very important. The ones given during the admission were temporary student ranks, whereas these ones were official grades assigned by the Guardian Alliance.
In other words, it was possible for students to have the qualification of a real guardian despite staying a student, depending on the results of this adjustment.
“Uun… Korin, do you want potatoes?”
I took the baked potato that was in her hands. The peeled potato had sugar seasoned on top, which was my favorite way of consuming potatoes.
“It’s amazing as always.”
All the students were at the Festival Hall for the last-day-of-semester ceremony, and Marie was giving out potatoes to everyone. She had already given it to about 100 people, and she was still going at it.
“Senior. Why did you cook so many potatoes today?”
I inquired while helping her give out potatoes. Actually, around 20 of Marie’s friends were already volunteering to give out potatoes. Looking at how they all seemed used to the task, this seemed to be a regular event.
“Today’s the last day of the semester! Everyone will be leaving, so we have to bake and give out all the potatoes in the warehouse. Otherwise they’ll go bad!”
“…You have a warehouse?”
Why exactly do you have a warehouse of potatoes inside the Academy? Interesting…
“Thank you everyone for your amazing work. Your astounding growth over this semester has been the model growth of our Academy and…”
We were handing out the potatoes while Chairman Eriu Casarr… or rather, Erin Danua my Master, finished with her speech. The grade adjustment was about to start very soon.
“Shall we head over?”
“We will now be introducing the students who will be receiving an adjustment to their grades.”
The students walked up to the stage one by one as the Chairman called out their names. Most of them were seniors of the Academy.
That was natural because freshmen students only took mandatory courses and simple missions from the Mission Board, so it was hard to have enough achievements for a grade adjustment.
Besides, it was rare to call freshmen students for something dangerous.
“Highest-achieving student of the 2nd year Magic Department, Marie Dunareff.”
The crowd buzzed, but it was still positive as if it was within their scope of imagination.
Marie had been a Grade 1 mage at the start of the semester. Most of the students of the Academy graduated with Grade 1 at best.
In fact, it was very rare for the 4th year students to even reach Grade 1, and yet Marie was a prodigy among prodigies for reaching Grade 1 at the 2nd semester of her 1st year at the Academy.
Despite that, she was going through another adjustment, which was even faster than Lunia Arden.
“Student Marie has experienced an unfortunate event, but has proven herself with her indomitable spirit and has greatly assisted with preventing the accident at the laboratory from going out of hand.”
Marie’s achievement in terms of missions this semester was close to being zero, because she wasn’t even allowed to leave the city after becoming a vampire.
However, there were things she did as the helper of Professor Deina’s experiment, and the biggest reason was her mana capacity breaking through the roof after turning into a vampire.
It was impossible not to raise her grade considering her overwhelming strength.
Besides, it was only thanks to her holding back the King of Iron Mountain for a long time, that the Academy had a lot less victims than what the situation called for.
“Guardian Marie Dunareff. With the recommendations of Merkarva Academy’s Chairman, Eriu Casarr and Dina Grandeia, the president of the Southern Guardian Alliance, we assign you to the rank of Semi-Unique Grade.”
Even though it wasn’t anything unexpected, everyone cheered out loud after seeing her grade actually go up, because this was the legendary moment of the history’s youngest semi-Unique Grade guardian.
To be honest, Marie was already as strong as a Unique Grade, but the requirements to be considered a Unique Grade were slightly different for demons and guardians. Besides, it was also extremely rare for demons to become guardians so the standards weren’t very clear.
At the end of the adjustment announcement for the 2nd year students alongside Marie, the crowd was bustling up after perhaps thinking that the ceremony was almost over, but unfortunately for them, it wasn’t over just yet.
“We will now be calling out the names of freshmen students who had actively participated in reducing the magnitude of the incident that occurred at the laboratory along with Student Marie.”
The crowd buzzed in response. The King of Iron Mountain incident was known to have been an extremely dangerous one, but the beast never ended up leaving the laboratory so there were only few things known about the incident.
There were a lot of hidden secrets about the matter including both the King of Iron Mountain and the betrayal of Fermack Daman.
“From the Magic Department, Yuel and Kranel Luden. From the Knights Department, Alicia Arden, Dorron Warsky…”
One by one, the named freshmen characters walked up to the stage. They weren’t surprised or anything because they had already received a letter beforehand.
There were already four freshmen students that were getting a promotion in their grade at the adjustment ceremony of the 1st semester. It was definitely unprecedented and was thus received by a heated discussion.
“And lastly, Korin Lork.”
Hearing my name, I confidently headed to the stage. The fake body of my Master, Eriu Casarr, was on the stage presenting news about our promotion.
“Taking into account their achievements thus far and their dedication at the laboratory, Students Yuel, Kranel, Alicia and Dorron will be officially promoted from Grade 2 to semi-Grade 1.”
It was an unprecedented promotion. With this, our grade also gained the extraordinary record of having four semi-Grade 1 students with none being in Grade 2.
“And lastly, Student Korin Lork… was a Grade 5 guardian but…”
My name was finally called.
There was a deal I had made with my Master.
“Looking at his remarkable fights and his exceptional achievement, and with the recommendations of the 3 people: Chairman Eriu Casarr, Senior Professor Josephine Clara and Professor Haman Welsch, we proclaim his promotion into Grade 1.”
– What? Grade 1?
– He came in as a Grade 5 and became a Grade 1 in just one semester?!
– How does that even make sense?
Grade 5 Knight -> Grade 1 Knight.
It was a grade given after some negotiations under the table with the Guardian Alliance.
Finally, I now had more social power and the right to create a guild of guardians.
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