Chapter 31: The Occupation of Ophelis Hall (1)

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My original goal was to create a safe living environment for myself before vacation ended.

My crude wooden shelter was now dirty and deteriorating.
I couldn’t even remember the last time I had a good’s night sleep.

I thought I would be able to finish my cabin before our school break ended so I could start living in it once the second semester rolled in.
But now that the second semester was just a week away, I realized I still had a long way to go.

“Hmm…”

I looked at my cabin.
It now had a wooden door and a window.
I made sure to buy a big hinge this time.
It would be a headache if it fell off again.
Although I was worried it would quickly get rusty due to its size, and soon make that loud creaky sound.
Well, it was still better than just falling off. 

Anyway, I still had more work left to do before I could live in my cabin.

The most important things right now were a fireplace and some furniture.

I was actually worried about the fireplace.
Sure, it wasn’t that cold this time of the year, even at night, but once the season changes, indoor heating would become a must.

On top of that, a fireplace would provide my only source of light at night.
It was also necessary to cook my food.
Fire was needed for many other survival purposes.
It was absolutely essential that I be able to start a fire indoors.

But it would be a disaster if I make a fireplace out of wood and it… catches on fire.
It would be a disaster.
This was the reason I needed to build my fireplace with a stronger material.
The first thing that came to mind was bricks.

Elte Company’s General Store downtown sold everything you could think of, but it would still be too much, even for them, to be selling bricks in an educational facility.
I ended up going to Nail Hall’s construction site and asked to buy some of their bricks, but they couldn’t sell me any since their bricks were delivered exactly as inventoried. 

In the end, I decided to start making my own bricks.

 

 

[Newly Crafted Product]

Brick Casting

Construction scraps were nailed together to make a square.

You can mold mud into bricks by filling it with mud. 

Production Difficulty Level: ◐○○○○

 

 

“Phew…”

It only took me five minutes to make a mold to cast my bricks in.
I threw my hammer on my workbench and wiped off my sweat.

I gathered mud from the river and squeezed it into the casting, making sure to press it in hard.
I then took it under the shade and removed the cast.
I planned to mass-produce standardized bricks by repeating this process tens, or even hundreds, of times.
I would then dry them for a week and then stack them up in my cabin to create a decent fireplace and chimney.

However, I would be using mud to stick my bricks together instead of cement.
This worried me since mud wasn’t as strong an adhesive as cement was.
I thought I should make and attach a support fixture to keep everything together.

It would also be great if I could make some furniture to use indoors but I didn’t have any specific plan for that just yet.

I could easily make some simple pieces of furniture since my woodworking proficiency was quite high.
I had learned quite a few tricks here and there.
The design behind each was actually quite easy to come up with.

Items like tables and chairs were relatively simple as long as I had the materials.

It should also be quite easy to create a bed frame.
Although for the mattress… it should work if I were to buy something like a large piece of fabric or bag of sorts and fill it up with feathers, cotton, or hay.

I would also like to install a glass window, if possible.
But I wondered where I would even be able to purchase such a thing.

 

I walked through the forest as I gathered my thoughts, my bow in hand as I searched for my meal for the day.

 

 

[Combat Skills Details]

Grade: Beginner Combatant

Specialized Fields: Bow

 

܀ Bow Proficiency Level 6

܀ Vital Points Snipe Level 3

܀ Quick Shot Level 2

܀ Retreat Shot Level 1

܀ Sense of Aim Level 2

܀ Field of View Expansion Level 1

 

 

It was at times like this that I realized just how talentless Ed Rothstaylor was in Combat Skills.
I always had to force myself to use the bow whenever I went out to hunt.
But the vacation was almost over and my bow skills were still this poor.

Looked like I would need some special measures to grow this as well.
I would find a way, one way or another.

“I found one.”

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I chanced upon a fawn walking through the forest.
I hid among the trees and took out my bow.  

 

I had been finding all sorts of people at my camp recently. 

Bell Maya used to stop by and share various ingredients with me but she hadn’t been coming over as much these days.

Meanwhile, Ziggs would jog through the forest once every three or four days.
Apparently, he hadn’t only been running through the forest, but all over Acken Island instead.
Just as I expected, his Vitality stat wasn’t normal.
If not for Elka being in the Magic Department, I was sure he would have joined the Combat Department.  

There was also that one innocent student who happened to pass by but ran away in horror at seeing me carry a bunch of dead squirrels. 

Then Claire, Princess Penia’s Head Escort, also came to check on me to see how I was doing.

Ah, how should I put it? Quite a few people now knew that I lived here in the northern forest.
I hoped the news wouldn’t reach the Academic Affairs Office and end up causing me trouble…

Well, not like the whole of Acken Island was managed by the school so there shouldn’t be a reason for them to kick me off of it immediately.
I didn’t have to be too scared of that possibility.

 

But of the guests who would often visit me, there were three students who were particularly special.

Guest A was a one-of-a-kind genius magician whose visits were at complete random.

Sometimes, this guest would come over in broad daylight, when the sun was still high up in the sky.
She would then lie down next to my campfire and sleep.
Other times, she would come over at midnight where I would find her sleeping on the roof of my unfinished cabin. 

There was also that time I came back after hunting by the river to find her laying down on my hammock.
She was looking at my cabin with big sparkling eyes.
She must have felt like she now had a new secret base or hideout…

She would then keep on asking me things like:

“Hey, you know what? Are you going to make a chimney?”

“Oooooh! You installed a door!”

“How about you build a backdoor too!”

Even when I was cutting firewood by the riverside, she would just randomly appear from the top of a tree and say:

“Can’t you install a glass window instead?”

“It won’t collapse, will it? I shouldn’t use my magic nearby…”

“How about adding a window on the roof too?”

And when I went to check up on the hunting snares I had set up, she would randomly pop out of bushes and ask:

“Can I try using magic inside?”

“How about laying down some marten skin inside, huh?”

And then that time I was sharpening the blade of my dagger using a rock, she was right on top of said tock and kept on kicking her feet high up in the air to tell me:

“While you’re at it, why don’t you try having the door open towards the sunlight?”

“You know, they say you need two windows for the wind to circulate better.”

Anyone would think this punk was bullying me.

I was getting sick of answering her questions and suggestion one by one that I ended up picking her up, and throwing her into the wooden shelter.
Every.
Damn.
Time.

This was Guest A.

 

Guest B was a second-year top student who was also quite the talented Elementalist.
I was rather welcoming of this visitor.

“Ta-da! I brought some eggs.
Bell said it would be great if I could bring these to you so I came to visit.”

She put down a basket of eggs by the campfire and did her classic ‘hehe’ laugh. 

This was a neighbor who I was grateful for since she would bring me food and other daily necessities that were rather difficult to find in the woods.

Even though this Elementalist kept on coming over every day, she would just sit down by the tree and read her books while she talked with spirits.
It was a rather pleasant sight so I allowed it.

One day, she manifested a spirit that brought over a large washbowl and started boiling water out of the blue.

“I’ll show you something amazing.
Don’t worry about anything and just sit there, Ed!”

I didn’t pay any mind to the faint laughter I heard coming from her direction as I kept on pouring mud into my brick casting by the river.
I finally came over when it was time to eat and found her with her sleeves rolled up and her skirt tied high while she continuously stepped on something in the washbowl.

I went to check what it was and I found my uniform shirt.

It was a shirt that I had been washing like crazy, crazy with force enough to nearly tear the fabric apart.
Even still, I had to keep wearing it the entire semester.
Therefore, it was only inevitable that over time, things like dirt stains that couldn’t be erased would pile up.

This particular guest seemed quite uncomfortable with this shirt.

“Ta-da! I boiled salt water and pressed it down to make it white.
Isn’t it amazing? My parents used to do this when my clothes would get dirty back on our ranch.”

She then opened up the completely white shirt with a proud smile on her face.
Seeing that smile made it look like she was waiting to get praised.
I couldn’t help it.
I have her a round of applause. 

I kept on clapping and said, “You’re the best! So cool! It’s amazing how you know such things!” She just lowered her head through all the praises, all awkward and shy.
She was someone who would always do the opposite of what you would expect from her.

There were some things that were quite obvious about her, but there were also things that I couldn’t quite understand.
For example, whenever Lucy would randomly show up out of nowhere, Guest B wouldn’t even be surprised and give her greetings, nor ask me things like, ‘How often does Lucy come here?’ 

She was truly someone whose actions couldn’t be explained. 

This was Guest B.

 

But the main point of this was Guest C.

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Guests A and B were people who relatively showed up quite often.
There was no particular surprise meeting them so I would just treat them as I usually did. 

But with Guest C, this thought came to my mind, “Why the hell is this person here?”

 

The sun was starting to slowly fade in the west, bathing the forest in red.

My first arrow missed so I ended up chasing after it for more than an hour.
At the end of the day, I was able to catch a deer and hauled its corpse back into camp.

Two unexpected people were waiting for me by the campfire.

One of them was dressed in a neat maid uniform.
She stood calmly, her two hands together.

The other was sitting next to the fire, humming a song as she had her chin resting on the palm of her hand. 

“Oh my, Ed.
I’ve been waiting for you.
Your work must have taken quite a while.”

To the public, this person was called ‘The Golden Daughter.’

She was Guest C.

 

* * *
 

Reaper Scans

Translator – Plumper

Proofreader – kianianian

Join our discord for updates on releases! https://dsc.gg/reapercomics

 

* * * 

 

‘The Occupation of Ophelis Hall’ was an event that marked the start of Act 2, and would take place in Ophelis Hall on the very last day of vacation.

Just summarizing the main points would take quite a while.

As the summer vacation came to a close, the lower-ranking students that had just returned to school would take over Ophelis Hall, overcome by resentment towards the students who lived there for having special privileges and treatment.

At the heart of it all was Wilane, ‘The Representative of Lower-Ranking Students,’ whose speech spanned well over 20 chapters.

They argued that top students who lived in Ophelis Hall were guaranteed a life of aristocracy.
They had permission to select seats first when taking classes, they had first choice when it came to eating, and they even have maids dedicated to them. 

These frustrations that had accumulated over time suddenly exploded due to an incident that happened during vacation.

Heavy rain began to pour down in southern Belor where Acken Island was located just as the students were returning to school.
However, the academy announced that they would only provide carriages and ships for students from Ophelis Hall.
The other students would need to figure out how to get back to the Academy on their own.
But not only that, the academy would only give them a few days to return before they are expected back. 

The lower-ranked students who had to endure the heavy rain as they traveled back to the academy, all the while in fear of having points deducted for arriving late–these students finally exploded.
They met at Dex Hall and established a plan to come together and occupy the luxurious Ophelis Hall and express their dissatisfaction.

It wasn’t a realistic plan, of course.

Not only was Ophelis Hall home to the top student in each grade, but even the maids who managed the dormitory were not easy opponents.
Everyone in the building knew how to wield a rapier, and the senior maids even knew how to use intermediate magic.

No matter how many low-ranked students gathered, there was no way for them to successfully take over Ophelis Hall.
It was like watching a group of lemmings swarming over a cliff from a distance. 

And even if they managed to occupy the dormitory, Ophelis Hall was home to all sorts of aristocratic and influential people.
This meant they would receive a heavy punishment.
This made the scale of the situation a bit limited. 

But that was until Lortel intervened.

 

“The low-ranked students are talking about quite an interesting plan among each other.”

Lortel was smiling widely across the campfire.
I kept sharpening the blade of my dagger without giving her much of a response.

I looked up to check and the person next to her was definitely Elris, the head maid of Ophelis Hall.

As if she was waiting for Lortel’s orders… there wasn’t anything strange about her quietly standing there without saying a word.

She was the only person who had access to the protective magic inside Ophelis Hall.
And although it was called protective magic, slightly twisting it in a certain direction would enable you to use it in a totally different way.

There was no reason to explain just how important having that level of authority was.

Only those who have worked long enough at the academy, all while receiving the school’s full trust, could qualify as the head maid. 

In other words, Elris was definitely not someone who could have been easily bought over with just a few coins.

“So?”

“I want to ask for your help.”

“You need my help?”

“You suit the role.”

Lortel deeply sighed and continued to talk.

“Originally, the decoy… I was going to have Totte do the job but he got himself seriously injured.”

I put the dagger that I was sharpening down at her words.

This was a story that I couldn’t just ignore.

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“Oh, you’re finally going to seriously listen to me, huh, Ed?”

“What about Totte?”

Decoy Totte.
He didn’t have a very important role but it was a name I remembered clearly.

He was the intro boss that appeared at the beginning of Act 2.
His role was to get into an argument and get beat up by Taylee over vacation.
He would later reappear as a one-phase boss in Act 2 Chapter 3: The Occupation of Ophelis Hall.

It wasn’t as big of an event as the Glasskan Subjugation was, but this Ophelis Hall event would have enough influence in the later stories. 

It had five named bosses.

The 1st-floor boss, ‘Decoy Totte.’

The 2nd-floor boss, ‘Gloomy Clevius.’

The 3rd-floor bosses, ‘Shaney, who is in charge of dishes’ and ‘Kelly, who is in charge of washing the beddings.’

The 4th-floor boss, ‘The Representative of Lower-Ranked Students, Wilane.’

The 5th-floor boss, ‘Head Maid Elris.’

First among these bosses was Totte.
He was meant to set the atmosphere, get beaten up, and then disappear.
If this was the original timeline, then he should have already been bought by Lortel to become part of the Ophelis Hall incident.

“Ah, how should I say this? That guy wasn’t one to take things seriously.
Plus he didn’t seem that trustworthy at all… but he knew to keep his mouth shut, at least.
So I thought I would go ahead and trust him, but then I didn’t expect Ziggs to beat him up that badly.
He’s in the hospital right now.”

Something seemed to have fallen out of place in the timeline.
I was sure there weren’t that many influential large events that should have taken place over the vacation.

“Ziggs beat him up?”

“Totte seemed to have gotten into a fight with Taylee and Ziggs.
Seriously, why did he go ahead and do something stupid like that?”

So far, everything seemed to follow what I knew.

Totte was another third-rate villain who was used at the beginning of Act 2.
His only role was to get beaten up by the main character’s group of friends after arguing over nothing.

In fact, this character was only meant to make Ziggs look good.
Totte came over and mocked the ‘failed swordmaster’ Taylee, saying his talent was fake.
So Ziggs came over and hit him full-on.

Taylee and Ziggs would have gotten quite close during vacation, so it was only natural to start Act 2 with such an incident.
I knew that was going to happen.

However, it seemed like there were some parts I didn’t know.

For example, what did Totte specifically say to Taylee?

“He looked at Taylee and said, ‘You’re not even as good as Ed Rothstaylor… You’re just a human that’s even lower than an insect.’ Weren’t his words too harsh?”

“Ha….”

“To tell you the truth, Taylee and you were both insulted at the same time… but Ziggs was the one who got twice as angry.”

Ah… this was why I was trying to minimize my involvement with any of the main characters… these situations were starting to become a bit too difficult to deal with.

“Elvira told me that Ziggs would have normally been a little upset, at the very least.
But he seemed more angry than usual that day.
Well, he did apologize after his anger faded away, but Totte was still a bit too emotional at that time.”

Lortel paused to catch her breath.

“I can’t trust such an emotional person.”

Then she looked me straight in the eyes and said,

“Your task is not that difficult.
All you have to do is get the key from Elris, stay in Ophelis Hall for a while, and then open the door to let the lower-ranked students in.”

“I’m sure there are a lot of other people who could do that other than me.”

“There’s actually not as many as you would think.
No matter how the situation turns out, this is a job that needed someone to remain level-headed.
And above all else, you have enough reason to participate.”

Why was Lortel telling me all this?

“Even if I bribed someone with enough money, there was no guarantee they wouldn’t rat me out to the school’s internal investigators once the incident is over.
‘Oh, the person behind all this was actually the first-year student Lortel.’ If someone went ahead and confessed that, how do you think that would make me feel? There wouldn’t be anyone I could trust.”

I finally understood why Lortel picked me.

I had already been kicked out of Ophelis Hall.
I continued attending the academy despite getting ridiculed and looked down on by everyone.

I didn’t really care, if I were being honest.
Ed Rothstaylor deserved that kind of treatment in the first place.
Sure, it was a little bit unfair to me, but right now, all I could really do was focus on my own survival. 

How students view me would fade over time, one way or another.
The first-years seemed to have actually started viewing me favorably.

“Don’t you want to hit them back, Ed?“

Lortel smiled softly as she asked me.

It seemed like she thought I was holding a grudge against the academy.

Well, that was just pure speculation on her part.

“Eh, not really.”

“Oh? Really?”

“But sure, I’ll listen to your terms first.”

I didn’t panic and came to a conclusion right away.

If I rejected Lortel’s offer, she would just go and search for someone else to do it.
That would just make me even more anxious.
I wouldn’t know would replace Totte then. 

I’d rather take the role, carefully open the door, then lose to Taylee. 

That was all his role was anyway.

The only difference here was that Totte, the first phase boss, was currently unable to do his job.
So as long as I was able to solve that issue, then the timeline would be able to go back to its original path.

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But that didn’t mean I would just do it for free.
Since Lortel was someone who would be able to pay me a lot, I ought to get as much as I could from her.

“20 Coins.”

The pay seemed ridiculously high for such a simple task.
But considering the fact that I would need to keep quiet after, the calculation seemed correct.

Since I wanted the timeline to progress as smoothly as possible, there was no reason for me to reveal Lortel’s involvement in the first place.
In fact, this would be pretty much free money to me.

As long as I behaved well, then there wouldn’t be a reason for them to investigate me.
I’ll just keep quiet and stay out of the spotlight.
I’ll send Taylee on his way up and then hide out in Yennekar’s room for a while, maybe even drink a cup of tea, before escaping.

“Deal.”

I began sharpening my dagger once again.

A signal that there was nothing more to talk about here. 

 

I had now become the 1st-phase boss.

 

* * *

 

“I feel like something’s wrong.”

It was night in the middle of the forest.

The young merchant and the head maid walked side by side back to Ophelis Hall.

The silent head maid, who had not spoken once, now spoke with a clear voice once she was alone with Lortel.

“He never asked ‘Why?’”

It was only natural for a veteran maid to see through people.
At the very least, she could tell that Ed Rothstaylor was not a regular person.

They didn’t have much to talk about, but it was funny how she had deduced that something was different about Ed with that level of conversation.

However, whatever the head maid felt was strange… and Lortel clearly felt it too.

“It seemed that even you felt it too, Elris.”

Lortel smiled.

“Come to think of it, he had always been like that.”

There was no sense of curiosity from him, something that humans normally should have.

With Lortel proposing such a thing, it would’ve been only natural for him to ask ‘why’ countless times.

Why did Lortel intervene in the Ophelis Hall Occupation?

Why was Head Maid Elris with Lortel?

Why aren’t you disgusted by this initiative from lower-ranked students?

There were so many other ‘why’s he could have asked.
They should have kept on coming. 

This was a backdoor transaction for 20 gold coins.
It was only human nature to wonder what their purpose was.
Why were they doing such a thing? Lortel had even prepared some believable lies beforehand.

And yet, Ed Rothstaylor only asked ‘why’ once.

Why are you asking me, of all people, to do it?

“With that kind of reaction… it only could be one of two reasons.
He was someone not interested in anything else as long as he gets paid…”

Lortel felt her spine burning for the first time in a while.

“…
or he was someone who was able to see through all of this.”

Lortel still clearly remembered the warmth of those three gold coins he had placed back in her hand.
At the very least, Ed Rothstaylor was not someone who would sell his life for gold.

If so, using the process of elimination, there was only one possibility left.

“How much does he know? I don’t think there should be any clues.”

Lortel closed her eyes gently before smiling her peculiar fox-like smile.
It had been a long time since she had felt this feeling.

This ‘fear of the unknown.’

 

It was getting late into the night.
Lortel kept on walking through the darkness of the forest without hesitation.

Back there, all he did as she excitedly kept on talking, was to sit there and sharpen his dagger across the campfire.

She wondered what he was thinking after she left.

She couldn’t figure out what he was feeling, which only made Lortel’s heart run even faster.

Someone who was the same as her.

To the point where it was… terrifying.

 

____

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