Surviving as a Mage in a Magic Academy - Chapter 27
“These bastards should be grateful we used a somniferous plant instead of poison,” Nilia said in a huff.
Yonaire and Yi-han had informed her ahead of time, and she was furious at the White Tigers for what happened between them.
“They targeted Wardanaz for absolutely no reason!”
“Well, it wasn’t actually for ‘no reason’. I joined a swordsmanship class that they were all attending.”
“Huh?? Why would you…”
“But that’s beside the point.”
Confused, Nilia stared at him with her eyes wide open, but Yi-han ignored her and continued.
“Anyway…Dolgyu. I get that you’re surprised, but I’d like you to understand that what we did was by no means underhanded or cowardly. It was part of our strategy.”
“Y-yeah. It’s their fault for falling for it,” Nilia said in agreement.
As a huntress, something of this level wasn’t worthy of being called “revenge”.
“Still, it doesn’t seem all that honorable…”
“And that’s where you’re wrong, Dolgyu. If you wish to be honorable, you can’t be so narrow-minded. Let us take a look at the result. If we had fought, we would’ve all been caught because of the noise. Would that have been honorable? No! We would have been smearing our names in the dirt! By spiking their drinks and having them fall asleep, we were able to resolve the situation without causing a commotion and embarrassing ourselves. Not only did we escape capture, but we’re also now able to send these friends back to the academy without hurting them. If this isn’t honorable, what is?”
“I-I suppose so…”
“It’s honorable, I say. Honorable,” Nilia echoed Yi-han’s sentiment.
Yonaire and Gainando also played along.
“Yup, no other word could describe our action.”
“Seriously, what we did is worthy of being awarded badges of honor by the palace.”
As people say, live with wolves, and you learn to howl. Without realizing it, Dolgyu was gradually being affected by Yi-han.
Rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle-
Yi-han nodded after hearing the sound of the undead approaching from afar.
– Suppression complete.
– Suppression complete.
Their pursuers did not question the fact that their targets were all asleep. Their intelligence simply wasn’t high enough to do so.
‘Now we just wait it out.’
He was certain that the principal’s summons would soon disappear. Now that they had secured all the students from the White Tigers, they had no reason to stay.
“Where are you going?”
“Let’s check our surroundings while we wait.”
Yi-han carefully walked toward the direction of the academy’s walls. Their plan of escaping the academy had gone down the drain due to an unforeseen event, but he refused to return empty-handed.
‘There’s something I want to check.’
Massive walls surrounded the academy, and he wished to see how far they extended into the mountain range.
He was also curious about whether there was an actual escape route.
The rest of his group cautiously followed him.
Though they no longer had to worry about their pursuers, it was still dark in the mountain, and the higher up they climbed, the steeper it got. They were also met with more trees and shrubbery along the way.
“It’s getting a little too dark…”
“This might be dangerous. We might trip if we’re not careful.”
It was darker than ever before, and they could no longer rely on the light coming from the torches of the White Tigers.
“Wardanaz, we need a light source.”
“Wouldn’t that be dangerous?”
“There are enough obstacles around us. It should be fine.”
“If you say so… Light!”
A blinding light enveloped their immediate surroundings after Yi-han cast the spell. It was as if the sun had come out.
Nilia became uneasy when she noticed this.
Theoretically, with so much vegetation around them, the light shouldn’t extend far below the mountain…but Yi-han’s spell seemed a tad too powerful.
‘I hope no one sees us.’
– Please turn off the light, young students. It’s so bright I can’t sleep.
It didn’t sound like the voice belonged to a human. It was a deep voice imbued with mana, and it was coming from the depths of the forest.
Unsurprisingly, the students were stunned, having had a run-in with the crazy principal just now.
‘Is it another trap?’ They wondered.
“May I ask who we’re speaking to?” Yi-han was the quickest to recover from the shock.
‘We’ll go for a preemptive strike if it’s another summon by the principal.’
– Since you students entered my territory, I’ll be the one asking questions first. If you get it right, I’ll welcome you as guests. Otherwise, I’ll consider you trespassers. Now… no need to be tense. It’s but a simple riddle. One night, a dwarf lit five candles inside a room. However, a strong gust of wind from the window extinguished one of them. Not long after, a guest that was drinking beer in the next room entered, swinging the door wide open, resulting in another candle being extinguished. To prevent any more candles from being extinguished, the dwarf closed the door and the window. How many candles remained lit the next morning?
‘It’s a trick question.’
Yi-han quickly noticed the trick in the riddle.
At first glance, the answer would seem like three, as two candles were extinguished out of the five that were lit. However, candles could only last for a short period of time. Hence, there would be none remaining in the morning.
Gainando, however, didn’t consider this and shouted out the first answer that came to his mind, leaving Yi-han flabbergasted.
“…W-wait. The candles should have run out by morning.”
Yi-han couldn’t help but blurt out an objection, to which the mysterious voice responded sounding rather amused.
– Since it’s a riddle, it goes without saying that we’re talking about magic candles that don’t run out.
Yi-han flipped out inside.
‘This frickin’ world of magic…’
As promised, the riddle was extremely simple.
– Since you got it right, I’ll welcome you as guests. Hmm… but it’s been so long since I last had visitors. It would be a bummer to end things so quickly. How about this? I’ll give you another riddle. I’ll still treat you as guests if you get it wrong, but if you get it right, you’ll earn a reward.
“Ready whenever you are,” Yi-han said without hesitation.
He wasn’t stupid enough to turn down such an opportunity.
– I am tall in the morning, but shrink at noon. I grow in the afternoon, but fade away at night. What am I?
There was a pause as the students racked their brains over this unexpected question.
‘What could it be?’
‘I have no clue.’
Gainando, on the other hand, was confident as he had gotten the first question right, and so he shouted out his answer.
“A monster that’s big in the morning and in the afternoon, but small at noon!”
“Huh!? Oh, I forgot to mention the part where it disappears at night-”
– …As I said, it’s incorrect.
“Could it be… a shadow?”
Everyone stared at Yi-han in surprise.
– How did you know?
It was a famous riddle, a variation of the Sphinx’s. Yi-han, who didn’t wish to go through the trouble of explaining how he had knowledge from his past life, gave a simple response.
“The answer popped up in my head when I concentrated my mind and allowed wisdom to flow into me.”
What he said was quite ambiguous, but such responses were often interpreted in a good way, and the mysterious voice seemed extremely impressed.
The voice sounded more excited than before.
– Excellent. I welcome you, clever young students.
The densely packed trees all moved aside, and the surrounding terrain began to change as if it were being covered by fog. An open space revealed itself before them, one that was rich in natural mana and seemed inhabited by the forest’s spirits.
What greeted Yi-han and his friends was an oak tree.
Deep within the mountains, there were all sorts of monsters, spirits, and fantastical creatures, and the oak tree was one of them.
– Everyone seems tired. Here, drink this.
The oak tree moved its branches and offered them wooden cups with cold, green drinks in them.
‘Doesn’t smell that good.’
It seemed and smelled like vegetable juice. However, he could feel that the drink was rich in mana, so he carefully took a sip.
The fatigue in his muscles faded away. It felt refreshing as if he had a cold drink after running on a hot summer’s day.
He could feel his body cooling down as the drink traveled down his throat. It was incredibly bitter, but the effects were immediate!
– It’s made from the saps of the trees in the forest. How does it taste?
“It’s incredible. May I have some more?”
– As you wish.
Yi-han whisked out his leather flask and collected the sap. To survive in the academy’s harsh environment, he had to collect things like this when he could.
While he was collecting the drink, the others asked the oak tree various questions, curious about this mysterious space that was usually only open to the spirits.
“What’s this space for?”
“Are there any other trees?”
“This is too bitter. Is there something else we can drink? I’d like something sweet, like fruit juice.”
Yi-han soon joined them in asking questions, not willing to forgo such a rare opportunity.
“May I ask some questions as well?”
– You may. But before that, introduce yourself.
“My name is Yi-han.”
The oak tree was amused after noticing how he didn’t mention his family name, which was unusual for nobles.
– And which family are you from?
“The Wardanaz Family.”
The oak tree took a step back, dealing emotional damage to Yi-han.
– Sorry. It’s not your fault, but the rumors surrounding your family…Well, let’s just say the Wardanaz Family has produced a lot of powerful mages.
“Is that so?”
– Yes, with many of them being maniacs.
– But you’ve stated your given name before your surname. Very good. I’m sure you’ll become a good mage. Now, what are you doing here in the middle of the night?
Yi-han spun a lie without blinking an eye.
“We were enjoying a night’s walk.”
Yonaire bit her lips to stop herself from laughing.
The oak tree didn’t fall for such an obvious lie either.
– Ah, you must have been trying to escape the academy. But based on the shape of the moon tonight, it should still be your first week here. Were you trying to escape on your first week?
“…See, the situation isn’t that simple…”
Yi-han tried to explain, but the oak tree had already seen through everything.
– My, running away on the first week… the freshmen this time around are quite different.
Yi-han gave up on giving excuses.
“Mr. Talking-Oak-Tree. If you’ve seen others like us before, can you advise us on how to escape?”
– I’ve lived in this forest for hundreds of years and have seen many like you. Escape is possible. However, it’s not feasible for freshmen at your level.
The oak tree didn’t seem to have any intention of revealing any other secrets. Yi-han wasn’t disappointed though and threw out another question.
“If we continue in the direction we were going, would we be able to leave the academy through the mountains?”
– No. There are walls there.
“…The walls extend that far??”
– Yes. And the walls have magic cast on them. You wouldn’t want to carelessly scale them.
Yi-han was left utterly speechless.
They had traversed the mountains and climbed steep slopes for hours, and yet they were being told that the walls extended there as well.
It was even amazing in a sense!
‘So it’s practically impossible to escape by finding where the walls have been cut off…’
They couldn’t go around them, nor could they scale them.
The oak tree lightly admonished them.
– As freshmen, you shouldn’t attempt to recklessly escape the academy. It’s extremely dangerous to do so. The mountains are quiet right now, but the monsters that are asleep will wake up soon after a few weeks.
“Thank you for your advice.”
The oak tree looked Yi-han in the eyes. Its words had failed to reach the young mage.
Rather than looking scared, he seemed more determined than ever, and the oak tree very much appreciated his spirit.
– I shall give you a riddle. Orcs of the Black Axe tribe, Red Feathers tribe, White Eagles tribe, and Green Frogs tribe gathered for a feast. The naughty goblins were also able to join them in their festivities. How did the goblins manage to do this?
All the students present at the scene were confused by the oak tree’s riddle.
Gainando shot his mouth off once more.
“They were popular!”
The oak tree ignored him.
I forget the names, but there are four dormitories that should align with the “tribes” mentioned. The orcs probably represent the upper years, and the naughty goblins clever first years. The feast should be a collaborative escape attempt, but there’s a chance it’s also a more formal event I guess.
The method is probably “information asymmetry,” which I can see the potential for even if I’m not smart enough to pull it off. From what we know about the dorms, they’re prideful and reluctant to associate with each other. The upper years might have adapted to the school environment well enough to shake hands with the devil when it comes to benefits, but they still feel disgust for each other. The escape route probably demands each of their specialties to combine to get through, but communication between factions is likely very minimal. The “goblins” thus need to present as faction A in front of faction B, and faction B in front of faction A. It might be more complicated than that in reality because there’s four factions, but I highly suspect that by year two there will be alliances between factions based on power balance and who they hate the most, in which case they still only need to trick two groups.
The best way to do that is probably to act as a messenger between factions that also intentionally stokes rivalry to reduce the chances of them being able to resolve the misunderstanding. A lot of the details of implementation depend on what the actual situation looks like, which we don’t yet know. They might not be able to pose as second years and need to position themselves as freshmen getting a free ride based on their connections (connections in the other faction, who they’re mad at for making them carry dead weight.)
Anyway, he’ll figure something out. If you aren’t strong enough, you just need to trick people stronger than you to act to your benefit. The professors are too difficult, but slightly older kids can be freely toyed with.