At the school entrance ceremony—
The elderly academy president stood upon a platform in the auditorium. Giving off the aura of a friendly grandfather, he spoke in a soft tone as he gave his congratulatory address.
“My dear, talented students, aspiring to become magicians. How far you’ve come to enroll into the Royal Magic Academy. We faculty pray for your future endeavors and welcome you from our hearts. We eagerly anticipate the future in which the alumni of our academy leave their vast footprints onto the kingdom. I implore your best efforts.”
With that, we all became academy students.
We headed straight to the classroom after the entrance ceremony ended. Laura and I were miraculously in the same class.
A young man with a conspicuous, short goatee stood in front of the teacher’s desk.
“I’m Firvus, the teacher in charge of you all. Treat me well for the year we’ll be together.”
Despite Firvus telling us to study, he talked about how he cruised for most of his student life, which elicited a laugh from the students.
“I mean, can you blame me? I was classmates with that Royal Court Magician Carlyle. I couldn’t even bring myself to try.”
Firvus gave a dry laugh.
Classmates with Carlyle—The instant the students heard that, the look in their eyes all blazed with voracious zeal.
…That Royal Court Magician is not only a prodigy but super popular, huh…
Firvus was an easy-going guy, and he seemed like he’d be a teacher popular with the students. Once the conversation settled down, Firvus continued with a look of recollection written all over his face.
“Aah, that’s right, that’s right. I almost forgot to mention.”
Afterward, he rummaged through his pockets.
He retrieved a small something, then placed it on top of the teacher’s desk.
“It might be hard to see, but—this is the school emblem.”
The crest of the Royal Magic Academy was carved onto the surface.
Firvus picked up the emblem and lifted it up for us to see.
“You all have yet to receive an emblem. You want it? Too bad. Not anyone can receive this emblem.”
Firvus waited for everybody to assemble their gaze onto the emblem and continued.
“This is granted only to students who pass a certain score in an exam. The first one you’ll get is the Stone Emblem. You’ll need to obtain this by the time this one year ends.”
“…What happens if we can’t?”
One of the students asked.
Firvus responded with a sweet smile.
The students began murmuring amongst each other.
I had no reaction—I didn’t feel shaken.
I already knew, after all. Nothing has changed since back then.
The students were making a commotion, but there wasn’t any need to be so paranoid. As long as you grew at a normal pace and lived a regular school life, anyone could attain that emblem.
…Although, the me ten years ago couldn’t get it.
I couldn’t get the emblem until the bitter end. I tried to go to the end of the year test—but in the end, I was crushed flat by my own nervousness and my disappointment in myself, then ran away from school.
The emblem I could never receive.
I wondered if I could obtain it this time.
I wondered how I’d feel if I could obtain it.
I want it.
That’s what I thought.
Firvus placed the Stone Emblem down and picked up a different one.
“Hey hey, don’t panic over some rock! Anyone can get this thing. Iron is after Stone. If you don’t have Iron, you’ll be expelled by the second year. Be careful now!”
Afterward, Firvus raised a glittering emblem.
“And finally, the last emblem you’ll need is Silver. If you can’t get this by the time your third year ends, you won’t be able to graduate. Bring out your fighting spirit for this one. Buuut… It doesn’t end at just this.”
After giving an evil laugh, Firvus picked up two other emblems with his opposite hand.
“If you get Silver, you can graduate. However, those who earn even better grades are awarded Gold, and those who go even further are awarded Mithril. Going higher than Gold is real tough. Mithril is a medal that’ll last a lifetime. Try your best.”
One of the students raised their hands.
“What is it?”
“Mr. Firvus is an academy graduate too, right? What was your emblem?”
“It was plain old Silver! Got a problem with that!?”
The classroom erupted in laughter after hearing that.
“What about your classmate Lord Carlyle?”
“He was awarded Mithril by the time his second year ended.”
In that instant—
The classroom went dead silent.
They probably understood with those words alone—the insurmountable difference in ability that laid between a regular person and a prodigy, that is.
Firvus waved his hands back and forth.
“Weeell, that guy is extraordinary. Don’t compare yourself to him—he doesn’t count. For now, just use me as a goalpost and try your best.”
“So just aim for average for now?”
“That’s right, that’s right—Hey, wait up! Whaddya mean by ‘average’!? You lookin’ down on me!?”
The students chuckled. A gentle atmosphere washed throughout the classroom.
“…Well, that’s how it is. Aim for the Stone Emblem for now. Until then, you’re students here, but not students here. Get what I mean? Hurry up and make us recognize you as real students, you damn half-bakes.”
After Firvus gave a daring grin, he said, “That’s all for today, so scram!” and left.
The students stood up and began preparing to leave.
Laura called out to me as I began sluggishly arranging my things.
“Albert! I’m glad we’re in the same class together! First off is the Stone Emblem! Let’s both do our very best!”
The Stone Emblem.
The emblem that the old me could never obtain.
Our homeroom teacher mentioned it earlier. Until we obtain it, “you’re students here, but not students here.”
In that sense, the me ten years ago was never even an actual student until the very end.
I merely existed in the school.
That’s precisely why I strongly wished—I swore—that this time would be different.
The meaning behind why I returned here must surely be to experience the fulfillment of getting that emblem.
I turned to Laura with a smile, then spoke.
“Yeah, let’s give it our best shot.”
Albert’s school life now begins! Here’s a little extra that the author included:
Next chapter comes later today!