“Alicia, can you explain what you’re doing on my bed?”
In an unoccupied guest room in the Azure Manor, Roel stared at the foreign ceiling above him as he asked with a tone that carried a hint of ire. Beside him, an adorable silver-haired girl squeezed her head between his arm and waist, tickling him a little.
“You’re awake? Good morning, Lord Brother.”
Upon hearing Roel’s livid question, Alicia blinked her eyes and decided to play deaf. She ignored his question and instead attempted to lean in for a morning kiss, but Roel cruelly rejected her by pushing her shoulders back.
“Don’t you think that you have overused this trick, Alicia Ascart? Don’t think that you can circumvent my question just like that!” warned Roel with narrowed eyes.
He felt like he was going to go bald from stress one of these days.
Yesterday night, after the two of them arrived at the Azure Manor, Roel gave his room to Alicia so that she could catch a good sleep while he humbled himself with one of the unoccupied smaller guest rooms. This gesture showed just how much he doted on her.
It was one thing for him to wake up with soreness all over his body, but what really grated at his nerves was when he realized that his sacrifice had been in vain. Alicia had forsaken the comfy bed in his bedroom to squeeze with him in this stiff single bed!
Of course, Alicia had an answer to that too.
“Lord Brother, I’m a sensitive sleeper. As comfortable as your bed is, I wasn’t able to fall asleep there.”
“You’re sensitive about that soft bed, but somehow you’re fine with this stiff one? I don’t recall our manor having any beds as stiff as this.”
“This bed is indeed atrocious, but at least Lord Brother is here.”
Facing the smiling Alicia, Roel found himself unable to come up with any rebuttals to her remark. In the end, he could only heave a sigh.
He used to think that Alicia would become more independent over the years and start distancing herself from him, but contrary to his expectations, she only grew even more clingy. Looking at how things turned out, he wondered why he had ever made such an assumption.
I guess I got careless. I feel like I’m becoming more doting on her over the years too.
While he was deep in thought, Alicia grabbed his arm and tried snuggling up to him, only to be stopped by the exasperated Roel once more. The two of them finally rose from bed and washed up in preparation for breakfast.
It had almost become a routine for Roel and his close aides, Paul and Geralt, to have breakfast together in the dining room. Ever since Alicia chose to camp out in Saint Freya Academy, she would occasionally join their breakfast gathering.
Alicia’s previous conflict with Lilian led to her viewing all Ackermanns with hostility, including Paul Ackermann. She would often express her enmity toward Paul over the dining table, which made the latter feel both uneasy and helpless.
It was only when Roel had a proper chat with her to inform her about Paul’s background that the situation finally alleviated.
As much as Alicia disliked Paul for personal reasons, she was not a cold-hearted person. After learning that Paul was an illegitimate child and had an unfortunate childhood just like her, she started restraining her hostility toward him.
Of course, that didn’t mean that she would suddenly become chummy with Paul. The latter still had to distance himself from her on the dining table. Tolerating him was already the limit of the goodwill she would show to an enemy’s sibling.
Once they were done washing up, Roel and Alicia made their way to the dining room, where they were welcomed with a lifeless greeting.
“Ah. Good morning, chief, Miss Alicia.”
“Good morning, Geralt. You don’t seem to be… doing well.”
Faced with a young man carrying a pair of heavy eye bags comparable to the pandas in his previous life, Roel’s eyebrows shot up in intrigue. Paul, who was also in the dining room, greeted him with the same lifeless tone and a strained smile.
“The two of you are…?”
Roel was perplexed by their poor conditions. Alicia also tilted her little head in confusion. It was soon revealed that their lethargy was caused by them burning the midnight oil for their studies.
Academic classes were of equal importance when it came to earning Academic Credits, especially for First Grade students who had a disproportionately higher number of academic classes. The sheer amount of knowledge they had to learn was immense, and the subject that plunged most students in despair was none other than mathematics.
Saint Freya Academy’s mathematics classes were definitely not to be made light of. Their difficulty far surpassed the average standards of Leinster’s other higher education institutes. It would appear that math was a nightmare for students even across worlds.
It was worse for Paul as he hadn’t been educated from a young age.
As Paul’s roommate and someone decent at math, Geralt selflessly stood forward and offered to help Paul lest the latter embarrass the Bluerose Faction with his disastrous result. The desperate Paul thankfully took him up on his offer, thus commencing their supplementary lessons.
But after the first night of lessons, while Paul appeared to still be surviving, Geralt looked as if he was on the verge of being driven mad. The reason was simple…
“Before I started my lessons, he was able to answer four out of ten questions.”
“Hm? That doesn’t sound too bad.”
Roel blinked his eyes, surprised that Paul was able to show such a level of competency in math despite his background. However, Geralt’s deadpan eyes told him that there was going to be a twist.
“What about now?”
How in the world were they regressing with more teaching?
Roel fell silent, not knowing what to make of their counterproductiveness. Geralt had clearly given his all to tutor Paul, and Paul had spent the entire night trying to absorb as much as he could. It was just that the outcome…
Sensing Roel’s gaze on him, Paul tried his best to squeeze out a smile. His attempt at putting up a strong front stifled the encouraging words that were already at the tip of Roel’s tongue.
There was something called progression in learning, and that was why it was important to build up a strong academic foundation before moving on to advanced topics. For Paul, who had spent his childhood doing nothing but plowing the fields, it was clearly impossible for him to catch up with his peers in just several months.
“Heh, to think that a prince of the Austine Empire wouldn’t even be able to do such basic calculations,” remarked Alicia snidely.
She quickly thought of something and turned to look at Roel excitedly.
“Lord Brother, what about that old woman then?”
“Senior has scored full marks in all of her academic subjects last year.”
Alicia clicked her tongue. She unhappily settled down on the chair next to Roel and quietly dug into her breakfast. Roel chuckled softly at her response, but he soon noticed something amiss.
Hold on for a moment, I don’t think that Paul’s results were this disastrous in Eyes of the Chronicler.
Those who failed their examinations and didn’t have sufficient Academic Credits would have to undergo remedial examinations. There wasn’t such a development in the game, so this begged the question of how the in-game Paul managed to pass his examinations.
Roel thought hard on this question, knowing that the in-game Paul would have faced great difficulties regarding this problem too.
Judging from the different circumstances in the game…
“Ah, I see.”
As Roel turned his focus onto Paul’s circle in Eyes of the Chronicler, realization suddenly struck him.
It must have been Charlotte.
There was no way Paul could have covered the syllabi sufficiently within such a short span of time to pass the examinations no matter how hard he worked, but it would be a different matter if he had known some of the questions beforehand. Charlotte’s divination could work wonders at times.
Roel’s mind was put at ease after having thought of a way out, but before he could say a word, there were suddenly knocks on the door. The few of them glanced at one another, and the nearest Paul rose to his feet to open the door. Soon, he returned with a newsletter in hand.
“Big brother Roel, it’s the academy’s newsletter.”
“At this early hour? Did something huge happen?” asked Roel with a frown.
Paul looked at the newsletter in his hand and read out the headlines.
“Important news: Transfer students from Knight Kingdom Pendor’s Saint Fran Academy have invaded.”
The other two young men sitting on the dining table widened their eyes at the news.