༺ A Special Exam ༻
“Young Master? Did you sleep well?”
The next day, after returning safely from the forest to the academy, I woke up feeling quite refreshed.
“I slept really well today.”
Instead of waking up and having to look at the old ceiling of the secret base or the sky radiating sunlight, waking up and looking at the ceiling of the dormitory made me feel quite secure.
“Are you really sure you slept well this time?”
“Yes. Thanks to the ordeal ending early, I was able to sleep peacefully without getting haunted by nightmares.”
As Kania continued to ask, I answered with a subtle smile. However, upon hearing my reply, she frowned and asked again.
“Then, were you lying when you told me that you’ve been sleeping well all along?”
At that sharp question, I gently avoided her gaze as my voice was muffled. Kania sighed and settled down on my bed.
“Young Master, there’s no need to hide anything from me. I’m the only one who Young Master—”
Then, just as Kania held my hand and began to speak, the door to the dormitory slowly opened and someone walked in.
When Irina entered my room and saw Kania holding my hand, she greeted us with a slight blush on her face as silence descended upon the room.
“…I’m no longer the only one who understands Young Master, but I’m your devoted aide, aren’t I?”
Kania, who finally broke the silence, glared at Irina, and finished speaking.
“Um… I’ve finished all the procedures. So, from now on, I’m your maid.”
Just as Irina said, starting today, she’ll officially become my maid.
At first, Irina insisted on dropping out of the academy and instead wanted to join me as my exclusive maid, but I stopped her from doing so.
Leaving the academy will not only hinder her progress to becoming an Archmage, but it will also have a negative impact on the scenario.
After I convinced her, she decided to become my temporary servant and insisted on living in the same dormitory as me, but this time, Kania desperately tried to stop her.
By the way, I don’t know the details of the conversation between the two of them after that.
All I know is that hours later, Kania, who came out of the room first, had a cold smile on her face while Irina looked defeated.
As a result of not able to become either my exclusive maid, nor my temporary servant, she started to work as a maid for the aristocratic dormitory.
It was against the rules for a commoner like Irina to work as a maid in an aristocratic dormitory, but that was easily circumvented by giving Dean Lionel a small bribe.
So she began to live in an empty room right next to me and became a dedicated maid who came to me whenever I called.
“By the way… this is a bit awkward. No matter how unavoidable it is…”
“So, Ms Irina. Why the hell did you insist on such a choice?”
Kania’s sharp question interrupted Irina, who was awkwardly checking her maid outfit, which she wore for the first time in her life.
“In regards to that, there’s something you guys need to know.”
Irina sat back in her chair, took a deep breath, and uttered surprising words from her mouth.
“I’ll start with the conclusion. Kania, you are currently under suspicion, and Frey, you might be assassinated soon.”
As both of us looked at her in astonishment, Irina sighed and finished her words.
“So I became a double spy in order to improve our situation somehow.”
Even after Irina had finished speaking, it took a while for both of us to fully comprehend her words. We then looked at each other and said.
“It makes sense that I’m under suspicion. The information that has been coming to me lately has been too sparse.”
“I was wondering why an assassin wasn’t sent yet. It’ll be even more difficult for us from now on.”
After saying that, we both looked dejected. On the other hand, Irina looked at us and started talking again.
“Firstly Kania, you are being suspected by the Imperial Princess.”
“By Her Highness Princess Clana?”
“Yes, I’m not sure yet… but the Princess thinks there is a high chance you might betray us, and is trying to gather evidence.”
Upon hearing those words, Kania stated with a firm expression.
“Well, no matter how many vague secret documents I slipped to her… If the information keeps repeating, there’s no way Her Highness Clana won’t notice.”
“That’s right, I’ve often seen the Princess muttering that the documents you gave her are rather strange.”
As Irina responded to her words, Kania took her fountain pen out and began twirling it around her fingers, completely immersed in her thoughts.
“And, the Princess is also preparing to assassinate Frey.”
“Her Highness Clana is plotting to assassinate Young Master?”
Then, when Irina started talking again, Kania stopped spinning her fountain pen and interrupted her as her brows furrowed.
“Wasn’t Princess Clana planning to completely ruin Young Master and then kill him?”
“Yes, she was.”
Irina looked at me and continued speaking. Looking at the two women casually talking about such a terrifying subject made me think that maybe it was fortunate that they found out about me.
“But the Princess’ thoughts changed because of the 『Raid on the Commoner’s Dormitory』 and the 『Holy Undead Knight Incident』.”
“…How much.. How much did her thoughts change?”
“If it’s possible to pull it off secretly, the Princess decided to kill you as quickly as possible.”
Upon hearing that, my expression hardened, but then I answered with a smirk.
“It’s fine. There’s no problem with that. No matter how fast Clana expands her influence… it’ll be hard for her to gather enough strength to threaten me within a year. So it depends on the level of the assassin—”
“The Princess has joined hands with the elders of the ‘Moonlight Family’.”
I flinched when I heard those words as my heart pounded.
I had the confidence to overcome the assassination plot that Clana devised.
However, the moment she teamed up with the Moonlight family’s elders, the story became quite different.
This is because it meant that the Moonlight family’s elder council, who had been working as assassins since their household’s founding, were about to start their efforts in earnest.
Of course, they had already ordered Serena to kill me, but the fact that they were trying to kill me by inviting other factions to join them meant that their plan wasn’t proceeding well.
This is because it’s quite unusual for the Moonlight family, who is the shadow of the empire, to join forces with other powers, even if it’s Princess Clana.
“They’ll try to aim for your birthday party next week. To stop that, I tried to convince the Princess that I’d risk myself and go spy on you, but I’m not sure if that worked.”
While I was thinking, Irina, who had passed on more information, looked at me sullenly and said in a low voice.
“So be careful. Don’t die for nothing.”
Having said that, Irina slowly turned her gaze to the side, as I laughed out loud, finding it rather funny.
“By the way, how the hell do you know such information? I don’t think Clana would share all of that.”
Irina, who heard my question, answered as if it was nothing special.
“…It’s true that Clana didn’t share the assassination plan with me, but I discovered the alliance with the Moonlight family myself.”
“I stole the letter.”
Hearing this, my expression went blank for a moment, then I asked in an absurd voice.
“Is that information something that could be stolen so easily?”
Then Irina said with a slightly proud expression on her face.
“Because I was poor since my childhood… I became good at stealing things.”
“By the way, didn’t I meet you for the first time when I ran into you on the street while you were running away with some bread?”
Hearing those words, I suddenly remembered Irina and asked a question with a grin.
“At that time, when I knocked the bread on the street, you became furious, so I bought a larger loaf that was several times bigger…
“Mhmm, I mean, there was nothing else I could do to make a living.”
Hearing those words, Irina blushed and smiled awkwardly as she blurted out excuses, while Kania, who was sitting quietly next to her, suddenly interrupted the conversation.
“Now is not the time for this, Young Master.”
“We should come up with the next plan and strategy. We can’t allow any more variables.”
As I quietly nodded my head at those words, Kania took a notebook out of her arms and started asking me questions.
“First of all, I want to know a little bit about who will be a threat in the future. I will deal with them in advance… No, I will investigate.”
Hearing those words, I began to answer while recalling the contents of the prophecy.
“If there are people who will be a threat in the future… Aside from the Main Heroines, there are also Sub-Heroines’.”
“Yes, someone like Isolet… or Arianne, Irina’s friend.”
While Irina was startled upon hearing this, Kania wrote something in her notebook with a serious expression on her face.
“Ah, and next year, more of them will be entering the Academy… The daughter of the Intelligence Guild Leader who reigns over the secrets of the Underworld, the Youngest Paladin of the Sun God Church, and the Princess of a small country in the Western Continent. They are all Sub-Heroines as well.”
Then, as I began naming more and more people, Kania grabbed her notebook and whispered.
“…It’s not as bad as I thought?”
Upon hearing her words, I scoffed and answered.
“Of course, that’s based on the normal route… For the path of false evil, they’re just as difficult as the Main Heroines.”
Hearing that, I looked at Kania, who sighed and looked at me pitifully. Seeing her like that, I quickly delivered a piece of good news.
“Still, I have a good relationship with the information guild’s daughter right now… That part—”
“Alright. Then, what’s the next ‘Main Quest’?”
However, for some odd reason, suddenly Kania’s eyes turned as she cut me off mid-sentence. Feeling a chill down my spine, I quickly opened the system window in front of her.
Quest Content: Raid the upcoming massive slave market and free the slaves to prevent catastrophe!
Reward: Increases the Awakening Progress of the Hero’s Armament. Increases total mana.
Failure penalty: Reputation will be greatly reduced.
“…A raid on the slave market?”
As soon as I read the contents of the system window that appeared in front of me, Kania opened her mouth with a hopeful expression.
“I’m sure it’s not the incident I’m thinking of, is it?”
“I don’t know which one you mean… but it’s probably the incident you’re thinking of.”
Hearing these words, Kania heaved a deep sigh and lowered her head.
“The slave market is nothing more than a ticking bomb. If you mess this up… even the Young Master won’t be able to handle it.”
After a while, Kania opened her mouth quietly and spoke in a worried tone.
“Is it really necessary to follow the Main Quest? If you get too swayed by the system, someday an accident is bound to happen. So, I think this Main Quest is—”
“It’s not because of the Main Quest.”
I briefly stared at her and spoke resolutely.
“Even if it wasn’t the Main Quest… Even if the rewards and penalties were reversed… I would have still decided to stop this incident, no matter what.”
“Young Master, but—”
I raised my hand to stop Kania from interfering and spoke again in a clear tone.
“I’ve already made this decision since the time I regressed. I will prevent that horrible disaster and free the slaves, no matter what.”
Kania, whose expression momentarily stiffened when I did not change my mind, smiled lightly.
“If it’s the Young Master’s will, then I will obey. After all, I’m the Young Master’s aide.”
“Thank you, Kania.”
As I responded to her with a smile in return, Irina, who was quietly watching us, timidly intervened.
“Uh… I’ll do my best to help as well.”
“Yes, thank you Irina.”
I thanked her and got up from her bed and left the dormitory.
“Then, I’ll be going to class now.”
The time had come to return to the boring classes.
“Today is the last day of the first semester. And, at the same time, it is also the day the special exam begins.”
Something is wrong.
As usual, I was trying to pass time by pretending to listen, but Isolet announced a special exam.
“…What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure either.”
When I asked Kania who had entered the classroom with me, she answered with a confused look on her face.
“Uh… a special exam?”
And when a commoner student raised her hand and asked if it would be the same for all the students, Isolet replied calmly.
“The special exam will be used to select the students who will be kicked out of Class A next semester.”
Upon hearing this, both my and the noble students’ faces turned white.
“What on earth are you saying!?”
“The results of the last final exam… Weren’t all the removed students picked from the commoners?”
“This is an abuse of power! No matter how famous the professor is, this kind of behavior is—!”
Eventually, the noble students got up like a swarm of bees and started protesting.
“…It’s an order from the Imperial Family.”
When the nobles shut their mouths at those words, Isolet grinned and said.
“Thanks to those who lobbied and paid bribes to get their points… The Imperial Family was understandably upset when some talented people failed.”
“The Imperial Family chose to retest instead of investigating deeply. Therefore, I’m just following the words of the Imperial Family. Do you have any objections?”
Of course, no one objected to that statement. Because the moment you raised such an objection, you would be objecting to the authority of the Imperial Family.
Amidst such a chilling silence, I rolled my eyes and fell into deep thoughts.
‘Something strange is happening though…? Was the Imperial Family this virtuous?’
The present Imperial Family is a breeding ground for corruption and bureaucracy.
In fact, most of the corruption occurring in the Empire is managed and controlled by the Imperial Family.
Therefore, the large-scale corruption case that occurred in this final exam should have also been ignored by the Imperial Family.
But why did the Imperial Family make such a decision?
‘Is Clana behind this?’
I glanced at Clana, but she also had a confused expression on her face.
Even Clana, who was quickly gathering power and influence, would not have the authority to disrupt such corruption.
And Clana, as well as the majority of her followers, wouldn’t have the ability to go against the authority of the existing Imperial Family.
‘…The Empress? The Crown Prince? The First Imperial Princess?’
So I began thinking about the people who had the authority to do such a thing with a snap of their finger. However, no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t think of any reason they would do this.
After that, I tried to guess what happened for a while longer, but as my head began aching because of this, I gave up speculating about this and asked Isolet a question.
“So, what are the contents of the exam?”
Isolet then began explaining, without even looking at me.
“The special exam we’re going to take today will be a team battle.”
When the children heard the words ‘team battle’, they began to murmur. However, when Isolet emanated a cold aura, the students became quiet as she continued explaining.
“The teams, as always, will be divided into a team of aristocrats, and a team of commoners, and each team will appoint a commander.”
With that said, Isolet put the ballot box at the front of her desk.
“The commander will be decided by vote. So nobles and commoners will both vote for their respective commanders.”
Saying that, Isolet handed out the voting slips, and most of the nobles began to sneak glances at me.
‘…Well, they don’t want me to be the commander either.’
Right now, I’m hated by everyone due to the rumors about my close ties with the Demon King.
So, even aristocrats who pretend to like me will probably never vote for me.
If they are smart, wouldn’t they choose Clana? The current ‘Rising Sun’ as their commander?
“Then, let’s start the count.”
I was so engrossed in my thoughts, I barely noticed Isolet suddenly tapping the ballot box and declaring the count of the votes.
Then, the chalk on the blackboard moved automatically and started writing down the voting results automatically.
– Nobles’ side: Frey Raon Starlight
– Commoners’ side: Clana Solar Sunrise
And the result, quite simply, exceeded my expectations.
‘The nobles are more stupid than I thought… and the commoners are smarter than I gave them credit for.’
I fell in despair due to the fact that I had to take on the role of commander, when I still had so many others things to take care of.
“Fine. From today onwards, I appoint Frey Raon Starlight as the commander of the commoners and Clana Solar Sunrise as the commander of the nobles.”
After she declared as such, silence lingered for a while.
“Professor? What does that…”
“There are no mistakes. In the special exam that will take place during the holidays, Frey will be the commander of the commoners and Clana will be the commander of the nobles.”
When she finished speaking, everyone became silent again.
Perhaps they were also in such a shock that they did not even think about making a fuss.
“Then, now that the commanders have been decided, let’s reveal the details of this special exam.”
Isolet, who looked at the students calmly, raised the corners of her mouth and said.
“From now on until the end of vacation, if you protect your commanders, you win.”
Everyone was confused by that, and Isolet quietly added a word.
“The commander of the winning team will be given the authority to select some of the people who will be removed from Class A.”
Meanwhile, somewhere in the back alley…
“So, what does the Demon King intend to do?”
“Anyway, the Demon King hasn’t revealed his identity until now, I’m going to die of frustration… Isn’t this too much?”
“This is unacceptable. How can someone who is neither demon nor monster…”
The beings gathered in a dark room, who had their faces covered with robes, were all voicing out their complaints.
Everyone stopped complaining and shut their mouths when the man sitting at the head of the table slammed his desk in disgust.
“This is an order from the great Demon King…”
The ‘second-in-command’ of the Demon King’s army, who was staring at them coldly, looked down at the same photo everyone was holding and declared in a serious tone.
“…From today onwards, this man is to become one of the top Executives of the Demon King’s Army.”
Man Cyberpunk Edgerunners is depressing af, but it did teach us a valuable lesson. There are no happy endings in life, only moments of joy, so cherish those moments.