Tonight’s celebration was hosted in Roel Ascart, Paul Ackermann, and Geralt Stephenson’s honor. They were the stars of the night.
There was not a single empty seat in the massive assembly hall.
On the stage stood a uniformed Lilian Ackermann and dozens of members from the Purplerose Faction and Bluerose Faction who had participated in the raid on the Bloodtribute Cult. They stood with their chests puffed out and a garland around their necks.
Principal Antonio, dressed in a gold-rimmed white robe reserved specifically for major events, stood on the stage as he exuberantly addressed the student populace.
“A month ago, while most students were enjoying their peaceful campus life, a blood envelope was delivered to the newly-founded Request Club of our Saint Freya Academy, informing them of a vile incident. Due to the severity of the matter, the sender chose not to sign off on the letter.
“It was an anonymous report that lacked credibility, but the Request Club, led by Roel Ascart, Paul Ackermann, and Geralt Stephenson, didn’t overlook it. With the limited clues on hand, they challenged the odds and searched for the truth. They sought the Enforcement Division’s aid despite their previous differences and patiently staked out for days. Their efforts paid off, and they successfully eradicated an evil cult hiding in the shadows of our academy.
“Their responsibility, courage, wisdom, and sense of justice are traits that the rest of us ought to learn from. On behalf of the entire Saint Freya Academy, I’ll bestow the three of them a Tier-1 Contribution Medallion. I ask all of you to give your loudest applause to our brave warriors!”
Resounding applause filled up the assembly hall following Antonio’s words. Roel, Paul, and Geralt exchanged gazes before walking onto the stage.
Roel’s appearance stirred a huge commotion amongst the members of the Bluerose Faction in the audience stand. Cheers and whistles sounded nonstop. Nora and Charlotte took the lead to rise to their feet and offer a standing ovation. Lilian also looked in his direction and revealed a ravishing smile.
“T-that… Senior Lilian is actually smiling!”
“… In the years I’ve spent studying here, this is my first time seeing her smile.”
Such remarks could be heard amongst the Austinean students below. Some of them recalled the rumors spreading around recently, and it made them cast doubt on Lilian and Roel’s relationship.
On the stage, a young woman with black hair and blue eyes waited patiently for Roel with a box held ceremoniously in her hands—Melty Sani.
She was the whistleblower of the Blood Envelope Incident, as well as the person whom Roel spent several sleepless days guarding. She had already received a medal for her contribution, but she chose to remain on the stage to officially express her gratitude to her savior.
Roel, Paul, and Geralt walked up to the stage in a line. The latter two received their medals from Principal Antonio himself whereas Roel received his from Melty.
“Lord Roel, thank you for staying by my side and vigilantly protecting me for those few days.”
“It’s only right for me to do so. As a Ringbearer, I’m obligated to protect the student populace and maintain order in the academy, not to mention someone as kind and righteous as you.”
Hearing those gentle words, Melty looked into Roel’s clear, warm eyes, and her face swiftly reddened. Her eyes rippled with deep sentiments as she asked softly.
“Lord Roel, I know that I’m an Austinean, but would you accept me into your Bluerose Faction?”
“Of course. My faction doesn’t discriminate against one’s background. It’d be our blessing to have someone as upright as Miss Melty amongst us.”
Melty was moved by Roel’s smiling response.
“Thank you, Lord Roel.”
As she said those words, she suddenly tiptoed and kissed Roel’s cheek in front of the crowd.
Roel’s face visibly stiffened at Melty’s unexpected move, but looking at the enlivened crowd beneath, he let out a helpless smile and politely thanked her.
It was permitted for a lady to offer a kiss to her savior under such a setting, but it must have taken a lot of courage for a conservative Austinean to perform such an act. Out of consideration for her feelings, Roel wouldn’t have avoided her kiss even if he had known about it in advance, or else it would have put her in a spot.
Besides, this gesture would also further boost the Bluerose Faction’s reputation.
While the students cheered loudly, they also looked at Roel in admiration, fervently wishing that a day would come where they could also become a hero and save a damsel in distress.
This was also Principal Antonio’s aim for holding such a grand award presentation ceremony. He wanted to advocate the correct values and guide the students in the right direction.
With Roel and the others receiving their medals too, the award presentation ceremony was finally concluded. Nevertheless, the students continued to blaze with enthusiasm as they knew that there would be a celebration banquet hosted by the academy right after.
Or rather, it might be more precise to say that they were here for the celebration banquet rather than the award presentation ceremony.
All celebration banquets hosted by Saint Freya Academy were organized by the Commercial Street Union, which comprised six of the ten 3-star restaurants in Leinster and many other famous 2-star restaurants. With such an extravagant line-up, there was no doubt that the celebration banquet would be filled with a huge array of delicacies.
It was a foodie’s paradise, especially for a certain black-haired man.
Patience, patience! I need to at least keep up a graceful front!
Roel told himself as he gracefully made his way across the corridor leading to the banquet hall… but it was really hard to exert self-control when he saw the other students dashing past him to head for the buffet tables.
The mixture of restraint and frustration on his face induced a chuckle from Nora, and Charlotte also tried her best to keep her lips from inching upward too.
In contrast to how Roel was trying his best to maintain his poise, the nouveau noble Paul wasn’t as particular about etiquette. Having starved for an entire night now, he charged toward the buffet table with the rest of the crowd and snatched a roasted chicken drumstick.
“For goodness sake, you’re a prince! Can you stop acting in such an embarrassing manner?” Geralt criticized Paul with a disdainful frown.
His haughty attitude only lasted a mere second. The moment he caught sight of the glowing flesh beneath the chicken skin, his eyes widened. He promptly pulled out a chair, took a seat, and grabbed a chicken drumstick for himself.
“T-this is… Seven-colored Truffle Roasted Chicken!”
“Seven-colored Truffle Roasted Chicken? What’s that?”
“It’s the specialty of Weoweos Mystic Restaurant. The chicken is first marinated for several hours with a sauce made out of seven-colored truffles so as to allow the flavors to fully set in. After that, it’s roasted over low heat in a special oven for half a day. The resulting product is a rich and succulent chicken that promises an explosion of harmonious flavors in one’s mouth!”
After a quick explanation, Geralt swiftly chomped down on his chicken drumstick, aiming to gobble down as much as he could before the others gathered around.
As for Paul, he curiously examined the chicken drumstick in his hand before taking a bite.
The moment his teeth sank into the chicken drumstick, he was first welcomed with a crisp taste before an explosion of the fragrant seven-colored truffle sauce and rich oil filled his mouth. A perfect texture accompanied with harmonious flavors and deep lingering savoriness—this was foodgasm!
“This is unbelievably delicious!”
Before the terrifying prowess of a top-notch delicacy, Paul and Geralt were reduced to helpless slaves who could do nothing but continuously stuff more of it into their mouths.
It was also around then that Roel finally arrived in the banquet hall. He first shot a glance across the room and saw that nearly everyone, be it noble or civilian, had chosen to put away all pretenses and immerse themselves in the delicacies.
As a veteran of banquet halls, Roel had already mastered the art of elegant chowing. Even as he wolfed down the food before him, he was still able to remain graceful by some mysterious force of nature.
Meanwhile, Principal Antonio and the teaching staff were chatting with one another with glasses filled with sparkling blue alcohol. He raised his staff slightly, and the instruments by the sides freed themselves from the walls of the banquet hall and began playing a cheerful symphony.
The addition of melodious music on top of the delectable food brought the atmosphere to a new high.
“Roel Ascart, Paul Ackermann, and Geralt Stephenson, please step forward.”
Just as the banquet was at its peak, a voice suddenly echoed across the banquet hall. Following that, several staff members dressed in chef clothes pushed a cart containing a massive cake.
This sight excited many of the female students present.
Bewitching Dessert House—this was the most popular restaurant amongst the women of Saint Freya Academy. The desserts they made sold faster than hotcakes all year round. It was usually reserved for special occasions, such as the current celebration banquet.
The celebratory cakes of Bewitching Dessert House would usually conform to the theme of the occasion, making them bona fide exclusives. Its chief baker was Great Magician cum Dessert Lecturer Milin, so in a sense, the desserts could be described as edible magic tools.
With roaring cheers coming from all around, Roel and the others walked up to the massive cake and saw a slanted crimson envelope sitting at the top. There were three little figurines resembling them standing around the envelope.
“Say your name and activate the cake!” exclaimed the petite Milin.
Activate? Is the cake some kind of mecha?
Roel and the others reported their names one by one.
The first figurine lit up.
The second figurine lit up.
“… Roel Ascart.”
The third figurine lit up.
With all three figurines lit up, the crimson letter at the center started emanating a faint light. All of a sudden, the cake exploded into hundreds of crimson envelopes that flew in all directions.
Roel, Paul, and Geralt were flabbergasted by the sudden disappearance of the massive cake. It was then that Milin started shouting across the room.
“Those who wish to have a slice of the cake, place an envelope onto your plate.”
Roel did as he was instructed to.
The crimson envelope blazed into ashes the moment it came into contact with the plate, conjuring a piping hot slice of cake in its wake. On the cake was a figurine that resembled him.
Amazed exclamations echoed from the students. Even Roel couldn’t help but blink his eyes in surprise. Thanks to this performance, the atmosphere in the banquet room climaxed. The students excitedly raised their plates to catch the falling crimson envelopes to claim their dessert.
Amidst this bustle, a black-haired imperial princess managed to find an opportunity to sneak to Roel’s side. Slicing a bite-sized piece of cake with her fork, she looked at Roel with her glimmering amethyst eyes and said coaxingly.