Episode 30: Headmaster-san
As instructed by Rezan, Mil decided to go and talk to the headmaster.
So Sachi, who always goes home together with me after school, went back to the dormitory first.
She had asked to be told about it later, but Mil thought it would depend on the content.
If it wasn’t a good conversation, she didn’t know how her state of mind would be afterward.
Above all, it was Sachi who had caused her such anxiety.
“If you come back crying and angry, I’ll comfort you, so don’t worry.”
“I’m not going to get scolded…”
There was no other way to put it, probably.
Anyway, after the classes ended and she parted with Sach, Mil headed to the headmaster’s office.
The magic academy’s building was a four-story structure, consisting of the East Wing and the West Wing.
The two buildings were connected by two corridors in the shape of “II,” and when viewed from above, the academy formed the shape of the letter “P.”
In the center, there was a spacious courtyard where they had lunch today, and it had become a popular place for students to relax.
The East Wing housed regular classrooms used for everyday lessons, so students mainly frequented that side.
On the other hand, the West Wing had classrooms used for research clubs and other special purposes, and the staff room where the teachers gathered was also located in this wing.
Therefore, Mil rarely visited the West Wing and walked down the hallway with an uneasy gait.
She had come to the staff room in this West Wing when she was called there the other day, but there was a teacher as her guide at that time, so she didn’t get lost.
However, today she was alone.
She had never had the opportunity to enter the West Wing alone before, and an indescribable fear welled up within her.
She realized just how much she relied on Sachi, and she couldn’t suppress her involuntary sense of fear.
Above all, she had recently drawn attention to herself, so she hoped to reach the headmaster’s office without meeting anyone if possible.
Was that wish answered by God? Mil arrived on the fourth floor without encountering anyone.
And in front of what she presumed to be the headmaster’s room, there was a familiar woman with purple hair waiting.
“I’m grateful that you came, Miltie-kun.
Shall we go inside right away?”
Seeing Rezan’s figure, her sense of relief was short-lived, and tension quickly resurfaced.
Behind these golden double doors, a great magician who ruled over the magic academy was waiting.
She had seen her on the day of the entrance ceremony, standing on the podium, explaining various matters about the academy.
She was an elderly lady with golden hair gathered into a single bun.
She had many wrinkles on her face, and she seemed to be using a cane.
Come to think of it, she didn’t recall seeing the headmaster around the campus, so this would be their reunion since then.
She still felt an inexplicable unease, and as Rezan knocked on the golden doors three times:
“Headmaster Ananas, Miltie Glasse has arrived.”
“Very well, come in.”
A response came from behind the doors, and Mil couldn’t help but tilt her head.
Because the voice she heard and the image of the headmaster that came to mind showed a clear difference in age.
(Was that… a child’s voice?)
Curious but with a puzzled expression, Mil opened the door and entered, finding herself in a lavishly decorated, spacious room.
The room was nearly square in shape, with a soft-looking sofa and a glass-covered table placed in one corner.
Presumably, it was a seating area for conversations with guests.
In the opposite corner, there was a large cauldron of some sort, with something bubbling and simmering inside it.
It looked like a cauldron from a fairy tale, with a witch stirring it with a long wooden spoon.
But what surprised Mil the most was the person sitting in the distinguished seat at the back of the room.
“So, you’re Miltie Glasse, the first-year scholarship student.
I’m glad you made it this far.”
The elderly lady with the bun she had imagined was nowhere to be found…
Instead, there was a young girl with golden hair who appeared to be around five or six years old, waiting with a proud expression on her face.
Mil opened her mouth wide and stood there dumbfounded.
“Hmm? What’s the matter? Is there something on my face?”
“No, it’s not that…”
On the contrary, what puzzled her was the fact that the person had flawless, glossy skin with no wrinkles.
Wasn’t that elderly lady she saw on the day of the entrance ceremony the headmaster of this magic academy?
Answering her question, Rezan, who entered afterward, said:
“Headmaster Ananas, the disguise spell has worn off…”
“Hmm, it hasn’t worn off.
I simply didn’t use it from the beginning today.
After all, I’m only going to have a conversation with one student.”
There is indeed a magic spell that can change one’s appearance.
It is a versatile magic that, when used by someone with a strong imagination, can even transform them into the shape of a magical beast.
Many magicians still use it in combat.
But why would they bother using a disguise spell just to appear before students?
And why choose an aged appearance, of all things?
As the question appeared on her face, the headmaster let out a self-deprecating smile and said:
“If I were to have such a frail appearance, the students would surely take me lightly.
After all, this magic academy is filled with hot-blooded individuals.
To add a little dignity, I chose the appearance of an old woman.”
Even if she transformed from a young girl to an old woman, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in how she was treated.
And simply having the title of headmaster would prevent any students from being disrespectful, she believed.
As someone who is shy around people, Mil would feel nervous regardless of the appearance.
In any case, now that she understood the reason behind the old woman’s disguise, Mil recognized the young girl in front of her as the headmaster.
At the same time, the headmaster began speaking, including a self-introduction.
“Well then, you probably know, but I am Ananas Clostata, the headmaster of this magic academy.
Congratulations on being selected as a scholarship student, Miltie Glasse.”
“Th-Thank you very much.”
She displayed a slow reaction to the sudden revelation.
Observing Mil’s expression, Ananas raised her thin eyebrows inquisitively.
“Hmm? You seem unsatisfied with something…”
“Well, um… I still can’t believe that someone like me is a scholarship student, you know…”
Honest with her feelings, Mil expressed her doubts, and Ananas, crossing her arms in a pose that didn’t match her appearance, lowered her head in contemplation for a moment.
Eventually, she raised her childlike face and glanced at Rezan.
“I recall that the selection of scholarship students this time was supposed to consider not only the results of magical power measurement but also other achievements.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
It seemed that the headmaster wasn’t deeply involved in the selection of scholarship students.
However, the headmaster spoke convincingly.
“Taking into account your attitude in class, the results of the entrance exam, and your performance in academy requests, among other factors, it was determined that you were worthy of being a scholarship student of our 320th generation.
Are you satisfied now?”
Despite that, Mil still appeared unconvinced, her face clouded.
Learning that the criteria weren’t solely based on magical power made her feel somewhat reassured, but ultimately, her other achievements weren’t particularly outstanding.
Her attitude in class was just being quiet, and the results of the entrance exam and the completion of academy requests were all achieved with the help of that person.
In that case, isn’t Sachi the amazing one, not herself?
Once again, the thought of Sachi came to mind, and Mil unknowingly compared herself to her.
Feeling down on her own, unbeknownst to her, Ananas continued.
“Now, I have a favor to ask of you as a scholarship student.”
Mil recalled her purpose for coming here.
She had come because the headmaster wanted to talk to her directly, but what could this favor be?
“Have you heard that recently the failure rate of students in completing academy requests… in other words, the number of ‘failed attempts,’ has been unusually high?”
“N-No, I haven’t heard much about it…”
Just as she started to say that, she suddenly realized.
The other day, they accepted the request to defeat the Rock Golem in the Golden Sands.
Come to think of it, before they took on the request, another group of students had attempted it but couldn’t defeat the Rock Golem, leaving it incomplete.
Because of that, the receptionist girl with straight bangs looked troubled, and Sachi, feeling sorry for her, took on the request.
So, does this mean there has been an increase in failed requests recently?
“It’s not just about the new students.
Even the excellent second and third-year students who have passed their advancement exams have been failing academy requests more frequently.”
The Royal Harvest Academy of Magic is the world’s premier institution for training magicians.
Simply being accepted into the academy is proof of having exceptional talent as a magician, and on top of that, the second and third-year students who have advanced are supposed to be incredibly skilled individuals.
So why are these people, who should be so capable, failing the academy requests they take on?
Even though they’re called requests, they shouldn’t be that difficult.
“The students who fail the requests have no clear reason, saying things like ‘I wasn’t feeling well’ or ‘I couldn’t use magic properly.’ I can’t understand any definitive reasons.
I can’t imagine our students making poor excuses, but the number of requests that are left unfinished due to these failures is rapidly increasing.”
So there are no clear reasons.
If there were clear causes, they could devise countermeasures, but if it was simply a matter of not feeling well, it would be attributed to “the fickleness of fate.”
There’s no need to blame anyone.
However, regardless of the reasons or causes, the reality is that there are indeed unfinished requests.
“As a result, the trust in the academy has plummeted, and the number of people coming to the academy for requests is decreasing.
That’s why I want to ask you to do something.”
With a puzzled expression, Mil tilted her head, and Ananas, her cheeks relaxed, spoke.
“I want you, as a scholarship student, to resolve the academy requests that are currently unfinished and left hanging.”
“We’ve already assigned requests to excellent second and third-year students, but there are only so many of them.
We were looking for someone from the first-year students who could help.
Then I heard about you, who not only has excellent grades but was also selected as a scholarship student.
I thought it would be great if you could assist us.”
Resolving the unfinished requests.
It’s not an exceptionally difficult task, but the reason why she was chosen is the only thing bothering her.
Mil hasn’t been fulfilling the academy requests on her own until now.
In a sense, in this academy, she has always had an incredibly reliable ally by her side, so she thought it was easy to complete the requests.
Ananas, who doesn’t know that, had chosen Mil for perfectly valid reasons.
“There are other first-year students who could handle it, but we trust the scholarship student like you the most.
I won’t force you, but if you’re willing to do it, I’d like to offer you higher rewards and points than usual for the requests.
What do you think? Will you accept?”
She was filled with the immediate desire to respond, saying, “This is an overestimation by the teachers.
I clearly lack the necessary skills, so I decline.”
To assist in completing the academy requests alongside second and third-year students, bypassing the other students in her own year, is reckless.
She wasn’t someone worthy of the honorable title of scholarship student.
She was just a failure who was constantly saved by Sachi, and she had never solved a request on her own.
So, if it were the usual Mil, she would have declined, feeling hesitant.
But at that moment, she hesitated, looking troubled, and eventually opened her mouth with determination, surprising herself with her answer.
“If… if it’s okay with me, then I would be honored to…”
Mil secretly clenched her fists tightly.
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