“You were able to pull it off.”
Though Yi-han cursed the professor deep within, as a hardened graduate student, he didn’t let his dissatisfaction show.
Instead, he maintained his expression and gave a deep bow.
“It was all thanks to you, sir.”
“No need to thank me.
It was all your effort.”
Even though he had been praised, he didn’t feel like celebrating at all.
Just a while ago, Professor Bolady had mercilessly shot the marble at him.
If he hadn’t been able to block it, some of his bones would’ve definitely cracked.
Thankfully, he avoided the disaster by stopping it in midair using
‘These professors are really something…’
“Now, let’s go again.”
This time around, Professor Bolady didn’t use the Soul Star marble.
Rather, he took out an iron orb the size of a human fist and tossed it toward Yi-han.
Before it could hit the ground, Yi-han cast
The iron orb paused mid-flight.
In a corner of his mind, Yi-han wished for the iron orb to coincidentally shoot toward the professor’s chin, but now that he had gotten a hang of the spell, such accidents were unlikely to occur.
Professor Bolady pointed up with his fingers.
Yi-han willed the iron orb to move up.
Though it was slightly unsteady, the orb quickly rose up.
Following the professor’s instruction, the orb returned to its previous position.
Draw a circle clockwise.
Draw two circles anticlockwise.”
After a series of orders, Professor Bolady nodded.
“It feels stiff, but it’s much better now.
From now on, you’ll be training with this iron orb instead.”
“But sir, I’ve yet to draw a perfect circle with the Soul Star marble.”
“Try it again.”
Yi-han put down the iron orb and inserted mana into the Soul Star marble.
Then, he attempted to draw a circle with it.
Surprisingly, the circle he drew was much better than the one he drew before his near-death experience.
“Mages can grow through intense experiences.
Soul Star marbles are merely tools to help fledgling mages.
You no longer need them.”
“Now, begin drawing circles with the iron orb.
Once you’ve reached a certain level, we’ll repeat what we did just now.”
Professor Bolady believed there were two kinds of people in this world, those that froze up in the face of danger, and those that reacted to it.
Needless to say, combat mages belonged to the latter, and the boy from the Wardanaz Family showed potential in this field.
It only made sense to take advantage of it.
However, Yi-han, who had just been given what was equivalent to a notice of murder, felt complicated.
Curse this academy!
Though Yi-han had almost died, time continued to flow inside the academy.
When class was about to end, Professor Bolady handed Yi-han the iron orb.
– Draw circles with it whenever you have free time.
– And never let your guard down.
– …What is that supposed to… never mind.
Yi-han felt that there was something fishy going on as he left the room.
Was Professor Bolady going to follow him around and ambush him?
Though it sounded absurd, the academy had made him paranoid.
“Sorry, did you have to wait long?”
Yi-han waved at a devil mixed-blood who was wearing a priest uniform.
It was Tijiling, the follower of the Order of Presinga.
– Can you look after Tijiling for me?
Knowing that the students of the Immortal Phoenix lived frugally, Priest Mehrid had asked this of Yi-han, worried that Tijiling, who was still in her growth period, would collapse.
Since he was given three baskets of food in return, Yi-han was going to keep his promise.
‘I’ll have her well-fed so that I can receive another basket the next time we meet.’
Determined, Yi-han sat down together with Tijiling.
Nighttime was fast approaching, and the sky was dyed red as if the mountains surrounding the academy were on fire.
‘If only we weren’t locked up in this academy… wait, why am I thinking like some prisoner?’
Yi-han returned to his senses.
He wasn’t a prisoner.
Although the institution did restrict students in several ways, strictly speaking, they were still in a place of teaching.
“Here’s the uniform that you requested.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Yi-han received the priest uniform from Tijiling.
In return, he gave her a loaf of round bread with marmalade jam.
It was soft and sweet, incomparable with the bread provided by the academy.
“Thank you, but I’m fine without it.” Tijiling, however, turned him down.
“Is there a reason why you refuse?”
“Even now, Lord Presinga is suffering in our stead.
Knowing that, I can’t bring myself to enjoy the food.”
Yi-han held himself back just as he was about to say ‘What kind of bullshit is that?’
He was also now a member of the Order of Presinga.
I almost contributed another tale to the infamous rumors surrounding the Wardanaz Family.’
He calmed down and nodded to himself.
It wasn’t an easy task to force someone as devoted as her to eat something.
He had to test her boundaries, bit by bit.
“Man, this bread is disgusting.
It must’ve been out in the sun for a long time.
You wouldn’t have to feel sorry about eating this.”
“What is this canned beef? It’s absolutely repulsive! Surely, eating this would be alright?”
“The person who baked this bread must’ve given their blood, sweat, and tears in the hopes that you would eat it.
Same for the one who made this jam.
Ah, what a pity.
If you won’t eat it, I guess it would have to go in the trash…”
‘Did it work?’
Yi-han saw the hesitation in her eyes as she was washed over by a sense of guilt.
For a moment, he thought his tactic had worked.
These bread weren’t made for me.
I saw them on display in bakeries before.”
Yi-han clicked his tongue.
Apparently, Tijiling had a rather keen eye for detail.
And I was almost there as well…
Tijiling felt apologetic seeing how hard Yi-han was trying.
“I’m really fine.
I’ll tell Priest Mehrid that I ate, so please share the food with someone else.”
To be honest, it was a tempting idea.
He’d have an easier time as well.
However, the fact that he had to lie made him hesitate.
Priest Mehrid had specifically asked him to take care of Tijiling, going so far as to gift him an extra basket of food.
Lying to someone like that didn’t seem fair.
If it had been a promise with Principal Skelly, he wouldn’t have hesitated to break it, but Priest Mehrid was a kind man.
While Yi-han was experiencing an inner conflict, Tijiling took out a wooden cup that was crudely made.
Then, she put in a tea leaf and poured hot water into it, causing steam to rise.
“Mind if I pour you a cup of tea?”
After a moment, she nodded.
She had been feeling guilty about refusing the meal.
A cup of tea wouldn’t hurt anyone… right?
“No, not at all.
“Promise you’ll drink it?”
Why do you ask?”
“Nah, don’t worry about it.”
Even the Order of Presinga enjoyed coffee and tea, though, of course, they didn’t add any sweetening agents.
Their drinks were made purely out of coffee powder or tea leaves.
It wasn’t only the Order of Presinga that was like this.
Other religious groups didn’t add anything to their drinks either.
Since coffee and tea were cognitive enhancers, they allowed priests and priestesses to pray for longer periods of time.
Hence, Tijiling naturally assumed that the tea Yi-han would brew for her would have a deep and bitter flavour, which would help her remain alert.
However, she was gravely mistaken.
‘I’ll make it nutritious as heck.’
Yi-han borrowed Tijiling’s kettle and began boiling water after adding some black tea leaves.
To improve the aroma, he grated the ginger and cinnamon which he had taken from Uregor’s hut and put them in the kettle.
He didn’t stop there.
While the black tea was boiling, he dunked in a generous amount of sugar, a sight which horrified Tijiling.
“What are you doing!?”
“…Do you have an issue with the tea that I’m brewing? A tea brewed following the recipe from my family?”
Yi-han feigned a hurt expression, which put Tijiling in an awkward position.
It’s not that I have an issue with it, but it feels a bit waste-”
“Surely, you aren’t implying that my family recipe is wasteful!?”
Tijiling shut her mouth, afraid that she would say something that might hurt Yi-han’s feelings.
Seeing this, Yi-han nodded, feeling smug.
Tijiling, however, caught sight of this, and she became slightly suspicious.
‘Is he pretending to be hurt? … No, such blasphemous thoughts I’m having.’
Yi-han was a brother of the same faith, not to mention a member of the Wardanaz Family.
He wouldn’t try to trick her by bringing forth his family’s name.
Unlike her, who was a devil mixed-blood, Yi-han was a descendant of the Wardanaz Family, one of the most prestigious households in the Empire.
While she was justifying Yi-han’s behaviour, the man in question finished making the tea by pouring in milk as a finishing touch.
“Please have a taste of the milk tea.”
Tijiling carefully brought the cup near her lips and took a sip.
Immediately, she was overcome by a sweet flavor, one which she had never experienced before.
‘Seems like it’s a hit.’
Tijiling’s expression softened, indicating that she liked the tea.
All this time, she had only drank tea that was bitter, so it went without saying that she took delight in the sweetness of milk tea.
She very quickly finished drinking.
Yi-han poured her another cup.
Without questioning it, Tijiling began drinking again, only to pause midway through.
“Does the tea not suit your taste? The tea that I brewed following my family recipe-”
“I get it, so please stop doing that.”
The milk tea had worked better than he’d expected, so Yi-han started preparing the next drink.
He first added sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and milk into boiling water.
Then, he mixed it with corn flour.
The end product was something more akin to a soup than a drink.
‘What an evil scheme, if I do say so myself.’
He was blown away by his own ingenuity.
He was going to start by serving drinks, gradually transitioning into soups and gaslighting Tijiling into thinking it was normal.
After finishing the chocolate soup, he put some biscuits on top of it.
By the time Tijiling noticed, she had already licked her bowl clean.
“Since you’ve had your fill today, you’re obligated to eat next time as well.
From now on, you shall come here regularly at a specified time.”
“…Do we really need to take this that seriously…?”
Though she felt grateful to Wardanaz for looking after her, she found it amusing how he was speaking like some villain.
Without context, an outsider would think he was force-feeding her.
Most of the freshmen had either gone back to their rooms feeling sad and hungry or were playing chess in the resting lounge over a piece of bread.
Yi-han, on the other hand, was walking out of the dormitory’s door.
‘I’m a priest of the Order of Presinga.
I’m a priest of the Order of Presinga.’
He was wearing the priest uniform, and he looked no different from a student of the Immortal Phoenix that had come out for his prayers.
He had a simple goal in mind: to find the path that outside workers used to enter the academy!
As long as he could find it, he would be able to disguise himself as one of the workers and leave the academy.
‘Unless I have to, I should refrain from using invisibility magic.
There might be all sorts of traps lying ahead.’
This was why he acquired the priest uniform despite having his belt of invisibility.
The academy was probably littered with traps, and if he entered a zone that nullified invisibility magic, he would be put in a precarious situation.
In order to survive in this institution, he had to make backup plans for everything.
‘…I’m starting to wonder if this is really a school…’
Arriving at this thought, Yi-han became slightly depressed.
‘How did it come to this…’
The first floor of the academy’s main building, which was usually bustling with students, was empty by now.
Next to the large central stairways leading to the second floor and the basement, there were hallways connected to classrooms.
Though the building’s interior appeared grand and awe-inspiring in the morning, now that it was dark, there was something eerie about it all.
‘If it’s a location where outside workers often visit, it’s probably on the first floor.’
Yi-han’s gaze landed on the area behind the central stairways, which was where the banquet hall was located.
Since none of the classes were held there, the freshmen had never set foot in it after the entrance ceremony.
It was then.
Yi-han was shocked to notice another student silently creeping in the dark toward the area behind the stairways.
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