Rivelia was on her way to the port, her anger seeping out of her from every angle. Her path to the port was uninterrupted, for everyone she met steered away to avoid her overwhelming anger.
‘How could the Committee make such a decision?’
Rivelia could not accept it at all.
She remembered the conversation that happened in the Headmaster’s room.
“This is unacceptable!”
Rivelia slammed both her hands onto Corduroy’s desk, and Corduroy couldn’t hide his displeasure on his face. It was his favourite desk.
“Are you disobeying the decision from the Committee?”
“How can you let that man roam free like this?!”
In response to Rivelia’s outburst, Corduroy opened one of the cabinets on his desk and began pulling out documents, one pile after another. By the time he was done, there were stacks upon stacks of documents covering his desk in its entirety.
“These are the complaints we’ve received since Isaac had stopped his business for just 3 days.”
“They will demand for more exemptions once they get used to their current life.”
“Well, that is only if Isaac’s business were to continue. But he will be graduating in 2 years from now.”
“Even if he were to graduate, the students will protest for the business to continue.”
“It is easy enough to reject them at that point. I am embarrassed to admit it, but the situation had come to this because we were all too lazy to make a response. It is most definitely the Committee’s fault. But we will not shy away from the mistakes we’ve made and will bear the responsibilities that come with it.”
“So you’re happy to simply watch from the side?”
“That’s exactly what we did when refused to treat him on the brink of death.”
Rivelia was at a loss for words. Even she felt some pity for Isaac for what had happened in the infirmary. But the Committee only made what they believed was their best course of action.
“This will all come to pass in time. Isaac has taught us a valuable lesson, and we won’t make the same mistake in the future. In fact, we are quite satisfied with how little damage it caused.”
“Uck! So I have no choice but to approve his actions.”
“It never needed approval in the first place. In truth, most of the professors are on good terms with Isaac, with all the gifts he had been donating. We are just as bound to the rules as the students, and it is we who are most at loss from those rules. He has much talent when it comes to scheming. It’s a relief that he doesn’t seem interested in politics.”
Rivelia was only left with frustration. This was the first campaign she had eagerly started since she had taken office as the President of the Student Council, but none of the students seemed to agree with her plans and follow the same vision as her. She was well aware that the students seemed cooperative while she was around but were very much reluctant otherwise.
It couldn’t have been a worse beginning for her as the President of the Student Council, having no choice but to take back her words, just like Isaac had told her before. Reisha and Krent had spread the word that Isaac wouldn’t continue his business until Rivelia came to visit Isaac once again to tell him personally that the ban had been lifted.
He was a type of man Rivelia had never encountered before. She was well aware that many men approached her because of the name she carried. She despised that fact, which motivated her to become what she is now. She proved her strength to those who mocked her because of her gender. She did all she could to live up to her reputation as the daughter of the greatest noble family in the Empire. But that man saw nothing in her. Not her family, her skill or her beauty. He saw her as a stranger in every way. It was exactly what she craved for, but now it only agitated her. She was also confused and disgusted by the hypocrisy within her.
Mazelan had told her all about Isaac before. He was a child with the mind of a pessimistic old man, but underneath lies an uncanny resourcefulness which only surfaces when he is in trouble. She never listened to his words, believing it had no value to her. Now she realised just how aggravating Isaac’s resourcefulness could be when he was an enemy.
Her rage peaked once more when she saw him fishing leisurely at the edge of the port. Kunette, who was eagerly eating honey next to him, noticed Rivelia and quickly told Isaac to turn his attention to Rivelia.
“Hey! It’s a shame we didn’t make a bet last time.”
Rivelia replied in a cold voice, but underneath it was a burning desire to kick that smug face of his.
“I see why you were so indifferent last time. I admit, you were too big of a fish for me to catch as a student who had only been here for 1 year.”
“Should I say it is an honour?”
“Hmph! But you only have 2 years now. That attitude of yours will end once you graduate.”
“That’s why I’m well under way in preparing my retirement right now. But thank you for being worried about me.”
“W, who do you think is worried about you! Tsk! Remember that I have my eyes on you! The moment you break any of the rules, I will make sure to expel you!”
“Man, for such a beauty to say she will be watching me always. I think my heart just skipped a beat?”
“Uck! You better lay low if you don’t want any trouble!”
Rivelia could no longer stop her anger controlling her face. Her family would have been shocked to see her this way, for her face was twisted beyond recognition from anger. Kunette, who watched all this, spoke to Isaac.
“… Don’t tease her too much.”
“Hooh? Do you like her that much?”
“… A scared little girl holding a burning ice.”
“Ha! Her? Scared? And what do you mean by a little girl.”
Isaac laughed. But he remembered what Mazelan said about Kunette’s special power.
‘He said she can see true nature right?’
He overlooked it the first time, but he became curious after Kunette saw through Rivelia. What do her eyes see in me?
“What about me?”
Kunette looked deep into Isaac’s eyes when he asked that question. Isaac could see his reflection in her puppy like eyes. She stared at him without a word, and Isaac smirked.
“If it’s too difficult to say it, then don’t bother. I’m not that curious.”
“Lazy? I think that’s perfect.”
Isaac laughed once more, but Kunette hadn’t finished speaking.
“… Lazy. A lazy, sleeping monster that has shackled itself until someone bothers it.”
Isaac had a complicated look when Kunette finished her words.
“Monster you say? Well, I guess you’re right. But none of it matters if nobody bothers me right?”
Kunette didn’t say a word back to Isaac, only a slight nod. As the mood became increasingly awkward, Isaac pulled out another cigarette as he watched the horizon.
“Yeah, as long as nobody bothers me.”
The Committee, which was one of the two major governing bodies in the Campus, was made up of the principals and most notable professors of each school within the College. It was a governing body in name; in truth most of their meetings were just a friendly gathering between the greatest masters and intellects within the Empire. The majority of the work was done by the Student Council and the Committee only discussed problems beyond their capabilities, but such incidents were few and far in between since the Campus had been founded. However within the last few years, so many incidents had to pass through the Committee that the professors were in quite a conundrum.
Since the head of the Committee is always the Headmaster of the College, there was no struggle for power within the Committee, and what little conflict there was in there was mostly the fight of pride between the muscle heads and the bookworms, just like a rivalry between knights and wizards. Most meetings started in a friendly manner and finished as such, but right now, all the members of the Committee were struggling to wrap their heads around the current problem they faced.
While the cold and uncomfortable silence filled the meeting room, the Head of the Committee and the Headmaster of the College, Duke Corduroy, sat on his chair with one hand on his chin and the other tapping on the table. His displeasure was quite apparent on his face.
“In just 3 years, he has grown to a point where we can’t do anything against him.”
Corduroy’s words held both discontent and admiration. Some of the other members showed their displeasure to his words, while others nodded in agreement.
“He really is one of a kind.”
Corduroy muttered as he tapped his table with the document that was on the table. Those documents held the records of all the actions of Isaac Rondart.
“I think we’ve let him be for too long. Shouldn’t we start to restrict his actions at this point?”
Those careful words were immediately met with Corduroy’s grunt.
“And who will take that role? Only to receive all the blame and the infamy for their actions? Even I’m too scared to handle the consequences. Is there anyone else up for the job?”
Stopping Isaac wasn’t an issue for the Committee; they held absolutely authority in the Campus. The real problem was the aftermath it would bring. Isaac had so firmly taken root in the Campus that removing him would lead to devastating consequences. Everyone knew about what had happened to Rivelia, whose attempt at stopping Isaac ended in complete failure.
About a third of the students in the Campus were female. The ratio was about the same for the female professors in the Campus. And it is in their instinct to take care of their appearance, but even the most basic form of makeups was impossible in the Campus. To the girls who only want to show their beautiful side, walking around the Campus without any makeup was the ultimate humiliation. But everyone in the Campus was only allowed to use what was given by the Campus, and makeup were obviously not included.
Some brave women rose up against this rule and asked for them to be added in their regular supplies, but all that returned was a harsh scolding telling them to get back to their studies. And just when they were about to waste their youth and beauty, Isaac came like a saving grace.
The price was steep, yes. But they were willing to trade their wallets for beauty. It was true that there were many times Isaac’s business could’ve been found out. But the girls were well aware that although Isaac wasn’t technically breaking the rules, it was very likely that his business would stop the moment it was found out.
So they unanimously agreed to keep it a secret. But even if they were to close their mouths about it, the boys were quick to notice the sudden change in the appearance of all the girls in the Campus. But hey, it’s much better to look at prettier girls, so they feigned as if they didn’t notice. If Rivelia didn’t expose Isaac to the public like this, all of the girls in the Campus would have lived like princesses with the fairy god parent that was Isaac supplying them for the 5 years.
“I’m sure some of you also feigned ignorance after you’ve noticed it. You are still men, no matter what age you are.”
Some of the principals blushed in embarrassment and began to cough dryly in response. There was no way the professors didn’t notice the change in their students. They just ignored it with the excuse that it wasn’t affecting their studies. But the biggest reason would be the bribes which Isaac gifted them through Mazelan.
The title of principal or professor in the Campus is one full of honour, but the responsibilities which came with it were just as heavy. They must lead with examples, so they too must follow the rule to only use the supplies which the Campus had given them. As the greatest intellectual elites in the Empire, they were very much used to using the finest products the Empire had to offer. With Isaac easing their inconvenience so willingly, it was inevitable for them to exhibit some positive feelings toward Isaac.
“What is there to worry about? We should bring him to justice immediately!”
Those impatient words were from Principal Mildrey, who was in charge of the 1st military school and the Dean of all the military schools in the Campus. Since Isaac was already well acquainted with the ways of war, the military school received much less gifts from him. Mildrey seemed to have no ill feelings in going against Isaac because of that.
Corduroy simply looked at Mildrey with a blank face.
“On which crime?”
“It’s just breach of the rules, plain and simple! How could a student make a business targeting other students! This is an incident that had never happened since the Campus was founded!”
“I’m asking which school’s rules did he break.”
Mildrey couldn’t say a word back. Isaac was a student of the Campus, but one who isn’t part of any of the schools. It was because nobody wanted to take in a student who was so obviously going to have the worst grades in the entire Campus, but nobody would have even dreamed that he would become such a menace.
“We refused to heal him as he was about to die because of the rules, and now you’ve decided on using the rules against him?”
“Then if we were to take him into one of the schools…”
“Is that so? Does that mean you’ll be the one taking him in?”
Mildrey shook his head before Corduroy even finished his words. It would only cause a headache to take in a student who couldn’t even gather mana in his body, plus his lack of talent in swordsmanship. Plus, if Isaac was a hot potato before, he was now a scorching boulder. Taking him in would put his title as a principal in jeopardy, and he wasn’t ready to take that adventure yet.
“You may have forgotten, but all of the schools rejected Isaac’s application using excuses such as lack of talent and whatnot. But if you were to take him in now, it would mean that our decision back then was wrong. Are you ready to take the blame when that happens?”
“Then why don’t we just expel…”
Unable to let go of the situation, Mildrey put out another idea, which only earned Corduroy’s contempt.
“And are you ready to handle the aftermath?”
In truth, he very much preferred the eyes of admiration from the cute and beautiful female students rather than those sweaty boys. Imagining the girl’s eyes of admiration turn to that of hatred was enough to even scare him.
Corduroy sighed at the sight of all the professors, who were clueless as to what could be done. They indeed deserved respect in their own field of studies; they have put much time and effort to reach their position. But maybe because they’ve only been digging a single well, they were hopeless in anything that wasn’t their field of expertise.
The brutes of the Military School weren’t even a factor at this point, and the same could be said for the professors of magic. The only ones that showed some insight were the professors from the administration field, but even they were only able to just grasp the current situation. To Corduroy, his only hope was the Dean of the Administration School. The infamous Kranjit, the ‘Racoon of Politics,’ who had entered the Campus to teach the students after he had retired from the political world.
“Speak your opinion.”
Kranjit shrugged his shoulders when Corduroy asked for his advice.
“There isn’t much to think about actually.”
“Not much to think about?”
“Yes. We can simply cover up his shortcomings with his great achievement in the name of the Campus.”
“What achievement did he accomplish in the Campus?”
“You are well aware that all the students in the College are the greatest talents in the Empire in their own field right?”
“What are you playing at? Aren’t you one of the College graduates yourself?”
“I’m saying it because I’ve been there. I personally know what monsters those students are.”
Even the royal family cannot enter the College if they didn’t have the talent for it, which is why entering it is the greatest pride and honour to those in the Campus. The College was where countless feats of accomplishments beyond the scale of average men were made.
“But because of their overflowing talent, many of them are too proud and self-centered.”
“They have the talent to make up for such things.”
“It’s nice that they have so much talent that they can afford to be arrogant, but they also lack the drive for their studies. I mean they do put some effort, but not many of them are, how to say, desperate.”
“We can’t blame them since they’ve never been put into such situation. Isn’t that what it means to be young?”
“Do you know the number of stars College graduates get on average?”
“It’s 9 to 12, is it not?”
“That’s right. But our estimates show that the number of College students that will graduate this year and the next will skyrocket.”
PR Note: If you remember from chapter 15 (Mazelan’s graduation), stars are used to denote the number of years it takes for individuals to graduate the college. If you have 8 stars on your emblem (like Mazelan did), it means you graduated in 8 years. In essence, the author is implying in a very roundabout way that for the current and next year, more students will graduate with less stars on their emblem. Those students with less stars on their emblem mean that they graduated in an even shorter time period, which adds even more prestige to the students and the teachers that taught them.
Kranjit’s words put the meeting room in a commotion. The more students graduate the College in each year, the more it will bolster the reputation of the College and the professors in it. But there was no way these numbers would rise without reason.
“It is indeed something we should congratulate, but why is that happening?”
“Kranjit smiled bitterly at Mildrey’s question.
“It’s because of Isaac.”
The professors fell into a deeper confusion. The College indeed had some interaction with Isaac, but it was nowhere enough to make any impact of significance.
“It started with Rivelia. Were you aware that Rivelia had even stopped her duties as a Student Council to prioritise her training?”
“Oh! For the genius such as Rivelia to show so much effort even in the College, she is indeed miles above everyone else. I guess she has become the shining example for all the students to follow.”
Mildrey and the other professors nodded in agreement and started to compliment Rivelia and the Pendletons.
But what Kranjit spoke afterwards stopped them on their tracks.
“You are aware that both the College and the Campus distinguish who the Sunbae and Hubae are by looking at which year they graduated right?”
“Who in here wouldn’t know of that?”
“That is what made Rivelia desperate. She said she would rather die than become Isaac’s Hubae.”
Silence fell in the meeting room. Becoming a Hubae to Isaac, the greatest troublemaker, whose lack of talent was unmatched by all. The students of Campus may go over it without much issue, as they have a strict schedule to follow. But what about the students of the College? Those who can choose when they can graduate just by putting more effort into it? It was obvious that internal discrimination would take place in the College based on whether they graduated before Isaac or not.
“Her training has become so intense that even her master, the man who would drive the students to near death in the name of training, is telling Rivelia to rest. But Rivelia continues her training because of Isaac, and other College students who have heard of this quickly realised that they too may become Isaac’s Hubae if they go about like they’ve always had.”
“That’s an unexpected series of events.”
As Corduroy muttered those words, all of the professors were in deep thought. They weren’t sure If they should be happy or sad about this. But what was important was that being professors in the year which the highest number of College graduates were produced would do well to raise the reputation of the professors and their family.
The Campus may seem detached from all this, but any benefits that have been missed by the College would all trickle down onto them.
“Ahem. Why should we bother about him when he’ll be graduating in 2 years anyway? He can continue his noble deed for us and we will be there for our students who are very motivated.”
Everyone agreed on Mildrey’s words and decided to overlook on Isaac’s actions as long as it wasn’t too significant. There was more to gain from keeping Isaac rather than to remove him.