We were setting up for a tea party but it wasn’t that much.
All we had to do was arrange cups for several people at the usual table in the lounge and pour golden herbal tea from a pot. We didn’t even prepare any snacks or sweets. Dinner will be served in a few hours.
Matty, who followed Cliff, took his seat while looking down and sipped his tea.
“I’m sorry for making you worry about me…”
Matty looked really apologetic even though he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Alec said to our timid friend, “I was just thinking about tea. I hope we didn’t force you into having tea with us.”
“Y-you didn’t. Not at all. I always forget to take breaks. Thank you for worrying about me.”
Matty quickly bowed his head. His gentle, cute, round eyes were more hidden by his eyelids than usual.
Merry quickly grabbed the pot and filled up Matty’s cup that had barely gone down.
“Ah, ah, you’ll spill your tea.”
Matty quickly grabbed the cup and put the rim to his mouth when he exclaimed, “Hot,” and of course the tea ended up on the floor.
“Calm down, especially you, Merry.”
I wiped their wet clothes and the floor with napkins brought by the waiter and made them sit down properly. They both get anxious too easily.
“Matty, are you having trouble studying for the exam?”
Matty looked dumbfounded when I broached the subject.
“We’d be happy to help you if you’re having trouble studying for the exam. It’s a written exam, right?”
“Ah, yes. That’s what I heard, but…”
Matty was slurring his words.
“I’m not really sure.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Hmmm, I mean it is a written exam but I don’t know what kind of questions will be asked on the exam. Will it be like our school exams, or will it be different…?”
“Ah, I see. So, you need to see the past exam questions.”
The exam will be about magic, but the way one studies for the exam will probably change depending on the type of questions that show up on the exam. It will also help to prepare your mind to not panic on the day of the exam due to the unfamiliar question format.
“Are you saying that he should find previous exam questions?”
Cliff was exaggerating somewhat. This isn’t a spy mission or anything.
“Let’s ask a teacher about the question format, frequently asked topics and other things related to the exam. You’ll feel less stress if you know those things, right?”
Maybe, we could get our hands on some past exam papers.
But if we don’t do this soon then the teachers will go back to the palace. They don’t live at the school and rarely work overtime.
“Alright, let’s go!”
Merry grabbed Matty’s arm and quickly stood up. She wasn’t running but she did walk in big strides.
Those who remained in our seats all smiled wryly, then we followed after them with our cups.
The teachers use the staff room during their breaks.
I knocked on the bright door and soon heard a voice from inside giving us permission to enter.
Merry entered first followed by me.
I saw a dark-haired mage sitting curled up on the sofa in front of the red-hot fireplace.
We let out sighs when she saw him turn back and look at us with his unshaven face.
“Why are you always the only one here?”
“Am I not allowed to be at work?”
Harold-sensei said, somewhat less cheerful than usual. He had a blanket on his shoulder which was clipped in front of his chest.
“You are, but aren’t you going back?”
“It’s cold in the government building. If you have questions, then you can ask someone tomorrow.”
He stayed near the fireplace while saying this. You live in a government building? You live at work? I was getting information I wasn’t interested in.
He then proceeded to address Alec after a curt nod in my direction.
“You are here too, Your Highness? It must be cold in the corridor.”
He pointed to the one-person sofa in front of the fireplace. His words and tone sounded polite, but he was being rude. Rock looked displeased.
“It’s okay, I’m alright.”
Alec also had a difficult expression on his face and declined the offer.
“I’d rather you help Matthias.”
“He would like to learn more about the research institute exam.”
Merry continued; she couldn’t wait for Alec to answer. She decided to ask Harold-sensei about the exam.
Harold-sensei stared at Merry, then glanced at Matty who was behind her.
Then he laughed.
“I see, if that’s the question then I’ll help.”
I have a bad feeling about this.
This person doesn’t usually laugh at good things. He must have thought it was funny, or he was making fun of Matty, or he thought he could benefit from this.
Harold-sensei stood up, leaned against the sofa, smiled then opened his arms.
“So, how much are you willing to pay?”
He asked for money straight away!
The inexperienced boys and girl raised their eyebrows in confusion and only I shuddered at his bold statement.
“I’m surprised you can talk about cheating in front of the Prince.”
He was saying that he would sell the exam paper. Of course, it wouldn’t be a past exam either.
Cliff, in particular, began to look at Harold-sensei as if he was filth, but Harold-sensei acted as if it wasn’t a big problem.
“I’m sure His Highness would find this to be a good lesson,” he shamelessly said.
Filth! He’s filth!
“Don’t incite innocent youths to do bad things!”
“People always lose their innocence in their youth. You’re the ones who came to ask me about the exam.”
“We only came to ask you the format of the questions, and if there are any past exams around then Matty would like to use them as reference.”
“Oh, I see. Unfortunately, there is no such thing.”
Really? I can’t trust this shrewd person.
“I don’t care if this boy fails. I won’t force him into anything. He can just stay scared until the day of the exam.”
He said in an unpleasant tone, but we will lose if we give into temptation here.
I saw someone staggering forward beside me.
“… How much?”
I quickly threw out my arms to stop her.
Her eyes were shaking with anxiety and she looked as if she was a mother preparing to make way for her child’s future.
“Calm down! You’ll be blackmailed for the rest of your life if you succumb here.”
There was no guarantee that the money would be paid only once. It was the same as seizing someone’s weakness.
“You’re making me out to be a very bad person.”
Harold-sensei smiled wryly. Does he believe he’s a good person after all the bad things he has said?
“You would do it too if you could.”
“Who knows. I’ve never been offered this choice before.”
He played dumb. I believe he’s taken a bribe or two though.
“Don’t think about doing dumb things, Marylee.”
Cliff snapped as he glared down at Matty.
“Matthias, do you want to be honoured by cheating?”
Matty shook his head. Why was he being accused and frightened when he himself never asked how much Harold-sensei wanted. Stop it, I feel bad for him.
Although Cliff is a fresh breath of air right now since he never changed.
He held back the swaying Merry TN: I totally forgot her name was Marylee when I did her nickname the first time :shrug:…. and firmly warned the filthy adult.
“Your Highness. I suggest you dismiss this teacher for the sake of order.”
Alec turned towards the corrupt teacher with a complicated expression on his face.
“Harold-sensei, if you do this kind of stuff on a daily basis then…”
“Well, you can’t just say that you do~.”
“Idiot. If I was really doing this on a daily basis then I wouldn’t be negotiating in such a roundabout way.”
Well, he’s probably right.
He was probably half joking, half-teasing when he made the offer.
This man was good at conducting himself, so he would have made this offer in a more unobtrusive place. In a way, I trusted him.
But I can’t let my guard down. I can’t be sure that he won’t secretly go to Matty later to make him an offer.
Perhaps he sensed my doubt since he held up his hands as if to indicate his surrender.
“Alright, alright. I’ll prepare some questions for you like any respectable teacher would.”
He wrote something in a memo on his poor excuse of a desk near the window and held it out, “Here.”
Merry snatched the memo and we all peeked at it from behind her. There was only one sentence on the memo.
『The spell for flying is…』
We built a raft and flew. Why are you asking us this question?
“I heard a question like that is asked every exam.”
Harold-sensei had already returned to the sofa in front of the fireplace by the time we looked up.
“The exam questions are created by the researchers when they have free time. They aren’t questions that require detailed knowledge like the ones teachers make.”
“But doesn’t that mean there’s more than one answer for the questions?”
Harold-sensei answered Merry’s question without looking back at us.
“Yeah, there’s no right answer. They want newcomers who can give them a breakthrough on the research they’re struggling with.”
So, it’s a few times harder than the school exams.
But I personally find it interesting. As a former researcher, I’m motivated by questions that test my wisdom instead of just questions that just require memorization.
Although I wouldn’t be asked those questions, I kind of wanted to take the test.
But not everyone feels the same way as me.
“Really?! Th-then how is he supposed to study for it?!”
“I don’t know.”
The teacher wasn’t interested in paying attention to the panicking Merry.
“Merry, that’s enough.”
Matty pulled on his cousin’s sleeve but Merry shook him off.
“It’s not! You won’t be able to answer the question if you don’t ask him what it is!”
We’re back at square one even though we all tried to convince her that it was a bad idea to buy the question. Merry was unable to think calmly right now.
The timid Matty was calmer in this situation.
“I’m sorry. I can’t tell you that I’ll be alright, but…”
Matty fiddled with his fingers in front of his chest and said timidly.
“… But- but this exam is something that I want to do.”
His voice may have been quiet, but his intentions were clear.
His widened eyes had determination in them.
“I know the format of the question now thanks to you all. That’s enough for me. I’ll do the rest on my own.”
It felt as if he was saying, “I want to do my best.”
I’m sure Merry heard it too.
Merry was taken aback. She turned around and looked down.
“… What if you fail?”
Ah, why would you say that?
Matty, on the other hand, smiled.
“… I don’t know, but I just have to give it a try.”
Matty had already made up his mind. The person in the situation is usually the one who is calm.
Merry pursed her lips and unhappily stared at Matty for a while.
Then, she sighed.
“… I won’t forgive you if you fail.”
Matty unconfidently nodded quietly.
“If you’ve reached an agreement, then can you get out of here? It’s already cold, so take your cold conversation outside.”
It was amusing to see him say that then put the blanket on himself again.
“Is it poison to someone who has lost their innocence?”
“Yes, so go away.”
With his back towards us, he waved his hand as if to brush dust off his shoulder.
We bowed our head towards the teacher who had given us the advice we needed even though he had said some unnecessary things as well and left the room.
“You aren’t as unreliable as Merry makes you out to be.”
I whispered to Matty who was next to me in the dark corridor on our walk back.
From an outsider’s perspective, Merry worried about him too excessively for no reason.
Although Matty sometimes entered a menial state with no way out, he was surprisingly strong and wasn’t swayed by others.
“T-that’s not true. I can’t do anything.”
“Now that’s a lie.”
“No, it’s true. I wouldn’t have made it to this school if Merry hadn’t helped me. I wasn’t sure if I could get in and even if I could, I wasn’t sure I could live with others.”
“Because I’m like this,” Matty touched his brown hair which wasn’t a hair colour that was common among nobles.
“But when I look at you and His Highness, I’m starting to think that maybe I don’t have to think too much.”
“You mean that in a good way, don’t you?”
“Huh? Ah, yeah, I do. Of course, I meant it in a good way. You both are so unconcerned about everything, so I’m starting to believe that I shouldn’t be so concerned about what others think.”
We don’t care about anything… The way he said that makes me feel uneasy but I guess he’s talking about our status and attitude.
Neither Alec or I would be at the magic school if things went by custom.
“I’ve never known what I could do… but I’ve learnt in the past two years that it’s not about what you can do, but what you try to do that counts. I’m trying desperately to do what I want to do like you… It wouldn’t be cool to be dragged around by Merry all the time, right?”
Matty deliberately lowered his voice towards the end and muttered, “But I was also dragged around by her too.”
“First… I have to be able to do things by myself.”
It was a charming desire.
The two of them don’t clearly express their feelings to each other but they will eventually have the confidence to tell the other how they feel as they grow up.
I smiled as I imagined such a future.
“You can be anything you want. I’ll help you. I’ll even help you study for your exams.”
I smiled and immediately asked him.
“What kind of magic do you think you need to be able to breathe in the ocean?”
“Is it possible to walk on water?”
“It would be nice if magic could heal wounds straight away.”
Cliff, Alec, Marry and even Rock started asking Matty impossible questions after me.
“Can you come up with a magic spell that can instantly wipe out an enemy without leaving a single speck of dust?”
“Matty, do you think you can control the weather with magic?”
“I want to know if there’s magic that can read a book to you in your head without having you to read it.”
“Think of a spell that would silence a rude person.”
Matty was troubled.
“… I need time to think about all that.”
It was my fault that Matty became more reclusiv as a result of our magic demands every time we saw him.
|↑1||TN: I totally forgot her name was Marylee when I did her nickname the first time :shrug:….|