༺ Huh? Am I getting pissed? ༻
After the end of the long holiday, the day that marks the start of the academy’s new semester had finally arrived.
“This… It feels quite different.”
“What do you mean?”
Leaning on the horse carriage that was taking me to the academy, I muttered to myself while Kania sat beside me, looking confused.
“Didn’t we ride the same carriage to the academy a few months ago?”
“Now that I think about it, you’re right.”
“But at that time you looked like you wanted to kill me.”
I said with a smile. Kania quietly bit her lips and quickly apologized.
“It was a joke. Anyway, how are those kids doing?”
“Are you talking about Lulu’s companions?”
Kania looked back at a smaller, luxurious horse carriage that was following behind us. I extended my gaze in that direction as well.
“As of now, they still seem anxious.”
“Indeed. They are people who had fallen into the pits of despair and spent years inside there. It would be hard to recover from such an ordeal overnight.”
I sullenly responded to Kania’s answer, but she just continued with a smile,
“But there is also something that changed.”
“Something that changed?”
“Yes, it isn’t much, but it’s a sign of hope.”
I felt relieved to hear that.
That’s good. Even a little bit of hope can make a big difference.
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, in order to survive, it is important to have at least a little hope. That is what experience has taught me.”
I said that with a satisfied smile on my face. Kania looked fixedly at me and asked a question.
“Those people would never know of your plan before everything ends and will continue to hate you until then. Despite everything, you still smile like that. Are you really happy?”
“Of course. I gave hope to those who were in despair, and in the future, I will make their hopes a reality”
“You are really amazing.”
Soon after, Kania pouted her mouth and began to grumble unhappily.
It was still the same Kania, who, until just a few months ago, would keep her emotions locked away even when I asked about them. However, lately she’s been displaying much cuter expressions like this one.
Of course, I much prefer her this way. I appreciate her as a butler, but I also cherish her as a friend.
“But Young Master, is it really true that you bought the alley market while in disguise?”
“Yes, I believe that if I take the first step confidently, it will make things easier in the future”
“But… Can you handle it?”
When I nodded my head, Kania just showed an anxious expression.
“Don’t you already know what it means to rule the market alley?”
“Yes, ruling the alley market means… you will have a significant impact on the back alley. Those two alleys are intertwined after all.”
Hearing my explanation, Kania let out a sigh and said,
“I will help you.”
“No. I will do this by myself.”
“If you were to help with this as well, you would end up overworking yourself.”
Saying that I touched the dark circles under her eyes with a concerned look. Kania’s expression turned lighthearted.
“There are already so many tasks you are handling. I will do this by myself, so you don’t need to worry about helping me for now.”
“I’m Young Master’s aide…”
“And while handling this work by myself, I want to get some time to relax. That’s the reason.”
“…Time to relax?”
“Yeah, I can’t keep living committing evil deeds all the time.”
Hearing my words, Kania, who had a bewildered expression on her face until then, soon answered with a sigh.
For a while, only silence filled the carriage.
“Ah, it seems like we have arrived. I can see the Academy.”
In that silence, I gazed outside of the window while scratching my head. Soon after, I could vaguely see the silhouette of the Sunrise Academy in the distance.
“Then, please take care of me this semester as well…”
“Young Master, the operation we planned beforehand has to be carried out now.”
I had been smiling and shaking my hand with Kania, but she instead mentioned the operation with a serious expression.
“Is it really okay? It will be quite painful…”
“In order to hide your identity, a little pain means nothing to me.”
Feeling guilty, I stretched my hand out to her. Kania quietly took off her suit and the operation finally started.
“Then, I ask for your cooperation today as well…Heugh!”
“…Hold on for a while, Kania.”
As expected, Kania was someone who had unwavering loyalty towards me. Just for my sake, she endured the pain as I left my handprints on her body.
I really should be nice to Kania.
“Hey, your complexion looks so much better!”
“Yeah… I received some treatment during the holidays.”
“Really? That’s great!”
The commoner students in class A were cheerfully exchanging news with each other inside the classroom.
“After taking care of my mother and sister’s treatments, only a little was left for living expenses.”
“Still, that is better than nothing. I spent it all paying off my debts.”
“You guys too? it’s the same with me…”
While most of the students were having cheerful conversations, some of them wore disheartened expressions.
They had finally come into possession of a large sum of money, something they had never experienced before, but most of it was used to cure their families or pay off debt.
Therefore, although they were freed from the burden that had driven them to accumulate money, they remained poor.
“But still, don’t you feel relieved anyway?”
“Of course. My younger sister, that rude little brat, even called me ‘oppa’, you know? Really, money is indeed amazing.”
“I don’t need to worry about a debtor knocking on my door or about sick family members… I can do my part-time job with ease now. It was such a relief.”
However, they began to see the bright side.
Just the fact that the weight on their shoulders had lifted made breathing easier.
It gave them hope that they could live a better life.
As the commoner students chatted with genuine smiles on their faces for the first time in a long time, the classroom door slowly creaked open. They turned their attention to the door with curious glances but were soon taken aback by what they saw.
“What happened with the professor?”
”I don’t know, did someone make fun of her being an old maiden again?”
“Shh! Do you want to die?”
Isolet entered the room with a scowl and disheveled hair. She met the students’ gazes with a bleak expression and made her way to her desk, where she let out a deep sigh.
“I have something important to tell all of you…”
“Shut your mouth and sit, Frey.”
But before she could continue, Frey and Kania entered the room, and Isolet shot them a threatening look.
Frey, who had been wearing an arrogant expression and signaling Kania, was taken aback and hesitated for a moment.
“I told you to sit.”
Isolet fiddled with her sword as she looked at Frey with a cold glint in her eyes. Seeing that, Frey frowned before finally taking a seat
“Young Master, why is Professor Isolet suddenly acting like that?”
“I have no idea either, What’s the deal?”
Kania and Frey, who couldn’t carry out the plan they had elaborately prepared in the carriage, sat sullenly and discussed among themselves in a low voice. But they still couldn’t wrap their heads around the reason behind Isolet’s anger.
“I have bad news.”
The students speculated about the reason for Isolet’s mood, but their thoughts were cut short by her announcement.
”Starting from this semester, the scholarship system has been abolished.”
The commoner students all gasped in shock and rose from their seats. With a gloomy look, Isolet continued her announcement.
I myself only received the news this morning. Therefore, I’m also very confused. But this remains an indisputable fact.”
“Why-Why so suddenly?”
The scholarship system is a tradition that has continued for a thousand years, right? But why is it being abolished…!”
The commoners then began to clamor towards her, bombarding her with questions.
It was because none of them had enough money to pay for the exorbitant school fee.
“The reason is simple. Both the Church and the Imperial Family have cut the academy’s budget and support in half”
But when Isolet responded to them with gritted teeth, the classroom fell silent at once.
The commoner students who had been clamoring, shut their mouths at once in the face of the authority of the Church and the imperial family that was pressing down on them. The aristocrats simply looked on indifferently, as they were already wealthy
Only Clana, the Imperial Princess, gritted her teeth in silence with an infuriated expression.
“What nonsense is that!”
But a voice from one of the students broke the suffocating silence that had descended on the classroom.
“The Class A students at Sunrise Academy are considered one of the elite forces in the academy. How could their support be reduced to half, let alone be cut off completely? It doesn’t add up!”
A majority of the commoner students and even some of the aristocrats nodded at the remarks made by Aris, the representative of the commoner students, with frowning faces.
“…From now on I will guide you regarding that.”
Looking at Aris, Isolet raised her hand in signal with a firm expression on her face.
The door to the classroom suddenly opened and a group of people with smiling faces entered.
“Those people… who are they?”
For some reason, those people were looking at him with a covetous gaze. Gritting her teeth, Isolet angrily answered Aris’s query.
“Following the official letter that was sent, the new patron system is now being introduced to replace the current scholarship system.”
Having said that, Isolet briefly glanced at the greedy-looking sponsors who were standing next to her and said,
“These people have connections with the Imperial Family and the Church… and are said to be trustworthy people. The students can approach them to showcase their abilities and worthiness for investment… damn it.”
Isolet, who somehow managed to suppress her anger, continued to speak with difficulty. In the end, she couldn’t restrain her anger any longer and started to spew curses.
“…Frey, follow me to the office.”
In the cold atmosphere, Isolet, who had been worriedly nibbling at her lips, summoned Frey, who had been watching the situation quietly. She then exited the classroom with a murderous aura.
Under the watchful eyes of the students, Frey soon quietly rose from his seat and began to head to the exit.
“Hm, Hm. It can’t be helped. We have no choice but to continue with the introduction.”
After the both of them had left, an aristocrat with a greedy expression approached the desk and began speaking in an annoying voice,
“Nice to meet you, students of Class A. We are your new sponsors who will be responsible for all of you from today.”
“Won’t you clap your hands?”
Hearing the intermittent applause erupting here and there, the aristocrat continued to talk while smacking his lips.
“Then shall we start the meeting?”
“So why have you called me here?”
Following Isolet, Frey arrived at the office. He slouched onto the chair and asked that question.
However, Isolet just sat there gritting her teeth while suppressing her anger.
“If you have nothing to say, then I suppose I will leave”
Frey was about to leave when Isolet suddenly grabbed his arm.
”What are you doing…”
Frey visibly showed his disapproval upon seeing Isolet’s sudden movement. However, Isolet kneeled on the floor with a flustered look and said,
“I beg you. Please, be the sponsor for the children.”
Isolet earnestly begged him,
“If those people really become sponsors for the children… don’t you also know what will happen?”
“Well, I’m not sure…”
“The women will be forced to give out sexual favors, and the men will become slaves.”
Hearing those words, Frey asked a question with a frown.
“How can you be so sure of that? Although they don’t seem to give you a good impression, they were carefully selected by the Church and the Imperial Family, after all.”
“The students of class A have been dragged into a power struggle between the Imperial Family and the Church.”
Isolet continued her words with a distressed look.
“When the Demon King’s existence was revealed to the public, the Imperial Family and the Church became hell-bent on securing more talents for themselves. This is a fact that you know very well.
“So, the two forces locked their eyes on the Sunrise Academy. Regardless of how much the Academy was losing its past glory, this is a place where talented people gather.. Forget class A. Even class C has the ability to overwhelm ordinary soldiers.”
Isolet clenched her fists in anger as she continued.
“Of course, rather than compromising each other, both sides have instead been trying to recruit more students to their own side. So, they sent their own people to the Academy and made them sponsors.”
“So it is only for that reason?”
“It is also a way to keep Dean Lionel in check. He’s been abusing his power as a Dean lately, so the Imperial Family and the Church view him as a problem”
Frey frowned at the mention of the Dean, and he soon calmly inquired.
“And what about the evidence that the kids will be treated horribly?”
“Do you really not know? The nature of the aristocrats who can influence the Imperial Family and the Church is such that they sponsored the imperial knights, which alone constitutes more than tens to hundreds of knights.”
“Even so, they are all talented people known throughout the empire, right?”
“Though they are talented individuals in the Empire, if you don’t side with them, you won’t cross the knights. But I believe because of the groundless conviction the students will eventually comply with their demands is not sound.”
Finished with her talk, Isolet began to beg Frey with a trembling voice once again.
“However, the problem is that such groundless conviction could actually occur. Innocent young sprouts are about to be trampled upon after being caught up in this power struggle of adults. I can’t bear to watch that happen before my eyes.”
“So what does all that have to do with me?”
“Please be the sponsor for the kids.”
When Frey replied coldly at the words, Isolet replied in a trembling voice.
“I will give you everything you wanted.”
“So Frey, I ask you once again… For old times’ sake.”
Saying so, Isolet laid down on her belly in front of Frey.
“Professor Isolet? Come with us for a second.”
Suddenly, a servant of the Imperial family and a priest dispatched from the Church interrupted their conversation. Gritting her teeth in anger, she listened to the words of the priest,
“The aristocrats have raised a lot of objections regarding your position. It seems like we need to have a long discussion.”
“In short, it is just a personnel evaluation. Well, you should already know the result after all.”
They said so with a smile on their mouth. Isolet pitifully left the office with her head hung low.
Then just like that, the office fell into silence.
That was until Frey, who had still been staring at Isolet’s drooping figure, muttered in a low voice,
“Am I getting pissed?”
“Hmm… alright. Let’s end our discussion here. Are you satisfied?”
During lunch, the representative of the commoner students, Alice, and a few other students were chatting with an aristocrat with a slimy voice at a restaurant near the Academy.
“By the way, your hands are so stiff, aren’t they?”
The aristocrat, who had just finished discussing sponsorship with the students, suddenly took Alice’s hand and started playing with it.
Taken aback by the greasy touch, quickly pulled his hand away. The aristocrat then got up from his seat and said.
“Don’t act like that…”
“…You will soon get used to it after all.”
That Aristocrat then left the table, and there was a long silence.
“Ugh… I’m so sick of it. Whatever they want from us can’t be good if this is how they act. We won’t be paid anyways. I’m seriously considering leaving the academy.”
Just then, someone approached them. A student who was fed up with the ongoing lewd behavior of the nobles stood up from his seat.
“You should at least hear them out, right?”
“Leave it. There is no need…”
The person in front of her grabbed her hand. The student was about to reject him with a cold tone.
But as she gazed at the immense gold coin that he threw onto the table, she froze in her seat.
“It is only the deposit… Can we talk now?”
The person in the black robe spoke kindly, and the girl hesitated for a moment before sitting down again.
It was too much money to refuse.
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