A light flashed in his eyes. A well placed blow landed deep in the sides, making it difficult to breathe.
“We’d better stop now. Or we’re going to be late.”
“Che, fucking lucky bastard.”
“He was born lucky.”
“Is he? I guess it is a miracle that such a dipshit of a noble managed to squirm himself into the Campus.”
“We’re quite lucky too. Where else could we beat up a noble like this?”
“You call that a noble? I heard his slut of a mother made that thing to climb out of her job as a pub whore.”
The group disappeared, continuing to chat amongst each other. Isaac turned over to see the sky. As he watched the dotted clouds leisurely move across the blue sky, Isaac muttered to himself.
“Ah, fucking hell.”
The past year of peace had gotten to him. He enjoyed the boring and uneventful days. He loved to ponder about what he should do to pass his time. He relished in taking his time on the cafeteria menu.
“Oi, are you alive?”
“You said you’d watch my back.”
“Ahaha. Kids these days are quite scary, you know.”
Mazelan helped Isaac get up on his feet apologetically. When a new wave of students came with the start of another year, Isaac found out why nobody had bothered him until now. One reason was because Mazelan was always with him, but the real reason was because no student had the courage to attack a student who had received special treatment from the Duke Corduroy himself.
As the Campus was isolated from the outside word, there was no way anyone could receive news from the outside unless it was an emergency, and that included Isaac’s past. But new faces came with new information, and the freshmen of the Campus had revealed Isaac’s situation at home.
Violence between students is punished. But Isaac was not associated with any of the schools. So Isaac was not protected by the rules.
Man I feel like shit. Let’s shit on Isaac.
Shouldn’t we be careful? I heard his brother is in the College.
The word is they treat him like he doesn’t even exist. In fact, they are instigating it in secret.
Really? Then let’s go. Haha hoho!
At first it was petty harassments like a shove here and there, but after 6 months without repercussion, Isaac had turned into the Campus’ punching bag.
Isaac had considered murder in retaliation, but that was not even an option. When an act of violence is found out, expulsion is the final and immediate action. When Isaac, who isn’t in a school attacks another student who is enrolled in a school, the act of violence checks out. But when other students hit Isaac, no matter how bad it is, the act does not go through. It was extremely unfair treatment, but they didn’t tell him to survive without a reason.
With the continued bullying, Joon-young’s frenzy which had been calmed by the peaceful days had begun to resurface.
“At this rate, I think I’ll starve to death before anything else.”
He had been using the student’s cafeteria but the harassment also happened during his meals. Students would ruin his meals by flipping his plate and the cafeteria would refuse to refund it or give him a new plate when it happened.
“The students can’t enter the port, so don’t go around too much and stay there. There’s a kitchen in your residence, so you can cook there as well.”
“No. I can’t stand being like this.”
“Hm? Then what are you going to do? I’m sorry, but I’ll be graduating soon, so I can’t visit you much more.”
“Have you heard this phrase? Men rule the world, but women rule over men.”
“… You? Seduce someone? With your status? The girls in Campus have really high standards you know.”
Mazelan truly was brusque with his words.
“You want me to get you a perfume?”
Gonzales was confused at such a sudden and unexpected request.
“Yes. You should be able to buy a bottle with this ring.”
The only thing Isaac had in possession was his mother’s ring. It was his mother’s wedding ring that had been given to Isaac when his mother died. The ring was well-crafted with a small gem imbedded in it. As long as Gonzales didn’t get scammed, he should be able to buy what Isaac requested.
“Getting it isn’t the problem but…”
Gonzales finished his question with a stare. What is he planning with a perfume for girls?
“I need to survive too.”
Gonzales’ confusion deepened with that answer. What has perfume got to do with survival?
“I’ve been telling you this whole time. Just join me on the ship. Don’t look down on the sailor’s loyalty.”
“Thank you for your words, but I have my own dreams too.”
“Administrator in a small city?”
“A petty dream right?”
Gonzales shook his head. He could never beat Isaac in an argument.
“But this ring’s going to sell for quite a bit. Do you need anything other than the perfume?”
“You’d be struggling to buy a perfume if you meet the wrong merchant on the streets. I think you should ask your daughter for this.”
When would a sailor ever buy a perfume? From a sailor’s point of view, the price of that small bottle of fragrance was equal to a great night out in the pubs.
“Hm. I guess I can ask her for that. Well, I’ll give it to you on the next trip.”
“No need for thanks.”
Gonzales took on Isaac’s request without a problem.
“Now it begins.”
Isaac muttered to himself as he watched the supply ship sail away. The Campus, which is isolated from the outside world, needed some sort of resupply in order to preserve itself. Isaac chose Gonzales as his supplier.
The way Gonzales treated Isaac was one thing, but the biggest reason was his current financial status. He was an officer of the Empire’s navy back in the day, but he invested his entire savings to open a small inn next to the port. Sadly, without anything to stand out from the rest along with the competition from existing inns, Gonzales’ inn suffered quite the financial crisis.
They did make a little earning thanks to Gonzales’ connections, but he was the father of two daughters and two sons. As they grew up watching other children enter the Campus, they naturally grew up wanting to go to the Campus themselves. When a commoner wishes to join the Campus, they first needed to register to a private school to prove their talent. This meant he had much to pay for, but little to earn it with.
Gonzales had no choice but to work as a sailor again while leaving the inn to his wife. He managed to become a deckhand of the supply ship using his connections as the Empire’s naval officer, but it was not enough to feed 4 children. He was the perfect candidate for Isaac. There was no way he could refuse once he tasted the money.
One of the first things Isaac noted was the strictness of the Campus. He couldn’t tell if the Campus was a school or a military camp. All students were to be awake and assemble at 6 o’clock. After a roll call, they would perform Drill & Ceremony and a jog around the school field. He wondered why a medieval school required such training but accepted the reasoning that it was meant to help the students stay fit.
PR Note: “Drill & Ceremony” were not especially clear in distinguishing between a regular noun and a proper noun.
But what truly confused him was that the clothes, food, and even their school items were commissioned by the school. All it did was restrict the freedom of the students in the middle of their puberty, but their excuse was to train their patience as part of their curriculum; as such, they restricted their freedom to the level of a military camp.
Isaac abused that fact. From Joon-young’s point of view, all the students in the Campus were diehard scholars. There were many private schools spread across the Empire, but only the most talented from those schools could join the Campus. Nobles were an exception, and they used their lineage to skip past that stage and enter the Campus directly.
When in the Campus, students are expelled after receiving 3 failing grades, no matter their lineage. This forced the students to study with their life on the line. Isaac wondered how much of a monster the students in College would be when even the students in Campus were at this standard, but looking at Mazelan didn’t really help Isaac figure out what their standards were for entry.
But no matter how much you restrict the students, girls would never be satisfied with wearing the same clothes every day. They would all be eager to show off their beauty with accessories like ribbons, hairbands, bracelets, rings, and necklaces.
A girl’s vanity was the perfect target for Isaac. The ratio between boys and girls always changed in the Campus, but on average, it was 2:1; at times, it was even 10:1. The girls were always at the centre of attention no matter where they went, but even within the girls there was competition fierce enough to shame the men’s fight for power.
“That Eliza. How do I get back at her?”
Selina stomped her way to the library, each step a product of her jealousy. As a 3rd year in the 3rd Magic School, her graduation was coming soon; that also meant it was time for marriage. She had recently been decorating herself in hopes of finding a suitable spouse to take back to her manor. In all honesty, she was hoping she could seduce a male student of the College, but she had little opportunity to meet them in the first place. And unlike her extreme vanity, she was well aware of her own place. A daughter of a Viscount was a common sight in the world of nobles, and even dreaming of a prince from the College was a farfetched one.
So she had little choice but to look nearby. With some confidence in her appearance, she picked and compared many of the male students until she found the perfect candidate to be her spouse.
Philip. He was also a 3rd year in the 3rd School of Magic, and he held the best grades in the school. Although his birth as a commoner was a small flaw, everything else was perfect for him to be the candidate. She had been making moves on him since the start of the year, but there were many competitions. The greatest rival was Eliza. Even today, Eliza somehow found out about Selina’s plan of seducing Philip in a private study group and took him away when Selina dropped her guard for a moment.
“Could there be some other way?”
Eliza’s beauty was lacking compared to Selina’s, or at least that was what Selina believed. But since the situation has reached this point, she had to find some way to capture Philip’s heart. This was easier said than done when everything is given equally to all in the Campus, limiting her options.
“Ahem, excuse me.”
Selina made a guarded look when Isaac suddenly appeared and blocked her way. Although Campus was inhabited only by students, it didn’t mean it was completely safe. As they are currently exploding with hormones through puberty, many violent events, accidents from failed magical experiments, and even crimes of vengeance occurred within the Campus, to a point where the Campus created the Student Disciplinary Council to watch over them.
Isaac was especially famous within the Campus. There had been rumours that he may end up performing a crime out of desperation among the female students.
Selina remembered the rumour and quietly began casting fireball in secret just in case Isaac tried to do anything to her.
Noticing Selina’s guard, Isaac spoke as he stepped backwards.
“You don’t have to be so guarded. The reason why I have stopped you is because I have something that can help you, my lady.”
Selina kept her stance, but her eyes opened wide when she saw the bottle Isaac pulled from his pocket. The purple liquid within a small, clear but well decorated bottle was something Selina knew well. It was her favourite after all.
“That’s the Spring’s Whisper!”
Greed beset Selina’s eyes. She was confident she could grasp Philip’s heart with that in possession. While the Campus commissioned everything, they did not control the bags which students bring when they come to Campus. But when they can only leave the island once a year, it was difficult to last more than 2 months with supplies from a single bag.
This was even worse for the female students, as the Campus never commissioned makeup, perfume, and accessories, so they were always in high demand within the Campus.
“Sell it to me immediately!”
Selina cried out. Her eyes still fixated on the Spring’s whisper.
“That would be 50 Giga.”
“What! Preposterous! Who do you take for a fool? Did you think I wouldn’t know the Spring’s Whisper never goes above 10 Giga in price?”
Selina argued against Isaac’s exorbitant offer, but Isaac talked back with the attitude of ‘if you ain’t buying, you ain’t a customer.’
“I’m sure an educated lady such as yourself would know that rare items are sold at a premium. It’s basic business. Plus, this is the newest version of the Spring’s Whisper, which came out just a month ago. That would mean that this is the only bottle in existence within the Campus. You should know the true value of this bottle, right?”
Selina was conflicted. It was true that if she got that Spring’s Whisper, she would not only be able to seduce Philip, but she will also be at the centre of attention amongst her friends.
After some thought, Selina made the decision and threw the ruby brooch she wore on her shoulder to Isaac.
“You should at least be able to get 100 Giga with that.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not in a position to give you your change…”
“There is one condition. If you accept, you can keep the change.”
“You are banned from selling this Spring’s Whsiper to Eliza. That is my condition.”
“That’s a condition I can bear.”
“So, is that a deal?”
“Ha. Thank you for your patronage.”
Isaac placed the Spring’s whisper on the floor and slowly stepped backwards. There was no need to act friendly so soon. Taking a polite and reserved stance was more than enough.
Plus, there were so many more things he could sell. If her condition banned Isaac from selling perfumes as a whole or demand he only sell to her, Isaac would have denied her request without hesitation and looked for another customer. But when it only prohibited the sale to a specific person, it was not a problem.
“And it’s not like Spring’s Whisper is the only perfume out there.”
As expected of a student from the Campus, she was resourceful enough to come up with such an idea in such a short time, but the students in Campus were still lacking in experience.
“Man oh man, this is a good start.”
Isaac began to play with the brooch, throwing and catching it. This was a business model based on profiteering through monopoly. The starting funds would always return in factors as revenue, so the more funds he had, the larger his revenue would be.
Unlike most commoners, Philip was walking a steady path to success. His talent in magic was confirmed by the private school he attended and led to his enrollment in the Campus.
When Philip first arrived at the Campus, he believed it wouldn’t take long before he would stand amongst all the other students and may even attend the College. It wasn’t long before Philip realised just how large the world was.
He may have been well renowned as a genius in his hometown, but in the Campus his level of talent was a common sight. Philip’s family sacrificed everything for his chance in the Campus, and he could never disappoint them by coming back empty-handed. He spent all his time and energy on the study of magic.
Magic was a costly subject. There is bound to be a difference between someone whose infinite budget can support any experiment to someone who is not. Thankfully, the Campus’ policy of commissioning had given Philip an equal starting point. And he utilised that fact to his fullest. Even when he managed to become the top student at his school, he did not show arrogance or lower his guard.
But when did it all start? Many of the daughters from noble families, ladies Philip couldn’t even dream of making eye contact with, started to approach him with trivial excuses. Philip may have been lacking in experience with those of the opposite sex due to his studies, but he was well aware that his status as the top student was what was bringing these girls to him.
But romance was not his priority. He could always have it once he graduated. What was more important was his status as the top student. He steeled his resolve and like a stone statue, stayed firm on his studies.
“Geez! You’ve studied enough. Let’s take a break. I’ve brought my favourite tea leaves this time. A tea break between study sessions can help you focus later on.”
Eliza had been on Philip’s side, pestering him to come outside for a break. Philip turned to see her and with a complicated yet firm voice, he rejected her.
“I’m sorry, Lady Eliza. I still have much to prepare for the next class.”
“Che! You always say the same thing.”
Philip’s mind was in a conflict as he watched Eliza turn away from him with a pout. He never hated having girls next to him. He was a man after all. But none of it mattered to him when his family had put everything on the line for him. Plus, the lack of makeup in the Campus’ list of rations significantly helped Philip keep his resolve.
Other than personal hygiene items, the Campus did not commission makeup; students had to bring them themselves. Makeup was a consumable, and a quickly exhausted one at that. So even a beautiful girls such as Eliza couldn’t hide her dry hair and uneven skin tone when they spent their time in the Campus.
“Oh! You were here.”
“Ah! Greetings, Lady Selina.”
As Selinah approached Philip in the library, Philip greeted her with a bow. At the same time the corner of Eliza’s eyes sharpened.
After a brief staring contest between Eliza and Selina, Selina scoffed to her heart’s content and sat opposite to Eliza. There was no need to brag. All she needed to do was sit close and let the fragrance do the work.
A sweet yet enticing fragrance tickled Philip’s nose, shattering his focus. He instinctively continued to sniff for the origin of the smell, which led his eyes on to Selina. When their eyes met, Selina feigned innocence and just smiled.
“What? Is there something on my face?”
Philip’s face turned red as he wildly flailed his arms. She was just one of the distractions before, but that smile from Selina rattled his heart into chaos.
“Ah, it’s nothing.”
“Hm. How boring. Ah! I have some questions about the Copying Magic Theory. Can you teach me?”
“Huh? Yes, of course.”
As Selina leaned closer to Philip with that excuse, more of the fragrance ensnared Philip. At this point, his focus was at Selina’s mercy. Eliza could do little but bite her lips in rage while Selina sent the victor’s stare at the enraged girl, laughing in her heart.
“… Those girls are vicious.”
Isaac had been watching from the windows in secret. Witnessing Selina’s change in personality compared to when she met him, Isaac firmly believed his business was a success.
“Beauty products always have the best margin of profit.”
The competition between women for beauty is beyond imagination. For now, Selina had taken the lead with that perfume, but other girls would search far and wide to find out where she got it from. Selina would have no choice but to reveal Isaac to at least her friends from the constant questioning, and at that point, Isaac’s business would turn into a goose laying golden eggs.
“Monopolies have always been the best kind of business.”