Chapter 3: Saint Academy
Inside a silent room where the sound of the second hand of a clock echoed-
Luna sat deeply in her chair and was absorbed in reading the novel about the villainous heiress that Rho had found.
The so-called ‘Villainous heiress’ is one of the popular genres in novels.
The basic storyline is that the main character reincarnates as a villainous heiress, makes full use of the knowledge of their previous life, does their best to avoid their ruinous fate.
Having just finished reading one book, Luna quickly stood up from her chair and looked toward an empty space.
“—It’s my first time meeting you, but I feel that I really hate you.”
With frigid eyes as if looking at an insect, she said over her shoulder and turned with her heel.
She collapsed onto the bed in her room and flailed her legs.
(To say such cruel words to the eldest son of a weak noble who came from afar seeking audience… unbecoming of a Saint.)
Imaginary situation, imaginary opponents, delusional settings―― the so-called ‘Imaginary Villainous Heiress Move’.
(Ah, the villainous heiress is truly irresistible. This indescribable sense of immorality… it’s the best)
Luna, with a satisfied expression, hugged the pillow tightly, and just as she calmed her excitement …
“-Luna-sama, are you okay?”
Rho’s face appeared in front of her nose.
Luna unintentionally let out a strange voice and fell off the bed.
“Ro-Rho!? Why are you here!? Knock properly!”
“I did many times, and I’ve tried calling you. But there was no response and I heard strange voices so…”
“I-I see… Then I don’t blame you.”
Luna turned to the other side to hide her bright red face.
It looks like it will take a long time before she becomes a splendid villainous heiress.
“By the way, Luna-sama. You’ve been pretty relaxed for the past few days… are you sure you’ll be okay?”
“I’m asking if you are ready for the entrance exam for the Saint Academy, which will start soon.”
“Saint Academy…? Entrance exam…?”
With her mouth wide open, Luna tilted her head bewilderedly.
It was clear that she wasn’t aware.
“Is this… that memory loss…?”
“Th-that’s right! That’s it!”
Luna, the Saint from 300 years ago and the modern Luna Spedio shared no memory.
There were inevitably memory gaps like this between Luna and the Spedio family.
In order to fill that gap, Luna would claim ‘memory loss’ due to the traumatic event where she was ran over by a carriage.
“I’m sorry Rho, I can’t seem to remember right now, so could you briefly explain what you just said?”
Rho cleared her throat and began to talk about the basic information about the Saint Academy and the schedule for the entrance exam.
“First of all, I will briefly talk about the origins of the Saint Academy. Three hundred years ago, the Saint was executed, and the quagmire war over her ended, and mankind enjoyed peace. However, it didn’t last long either. Once again, the Great Demon King began to invade humanity, who had lost the deterrent power of the Saint.”
“Hmm hmm (it is generally the same as the book I read in the library.)”
“Humanity, who was in a predicament, sought a ‘clue to salvation’ by tracing the Saint’s history. As a result, they found a book of prophecies in the Saint’s old house. It was written that the Saint would reincarnate in the distant future. Humanity, having received that revelation, immediately established the Saint Academy and devoted all of their energy to discovering the Saint.”
“I see… (Eh, what prophecy book? I don’t remember writing anything like that.)”
While Luna was puzzled, Rho suddenly dropped a ‘bomb’.
“Next, regarding the entrance exam, it’s tomorrow.”
“Yes. Passing or failing will be judged comprehensively by adding up the raw scores of both written and practical skills. To enter the Saint Academy, you must appreciate Saint’s Studies appropriately and must display the Saint’s power.”
“Bu-but, even if you suddenly drop that on me…”
“Luna-sama, Carlo-sama, Trebas-sama, and of course, all the people of the territory are supporting you for your exam.”
Rho said and left the room.
Left alone, Luna.
“Sh-shit shit shit… What is Saint Studies!? What prophecy!? And why is the entrance exam tomorrow!?”
Scratching her head, she fell into panic.
“I-in any case… I just have to do my best!”
Serious at heart, she opened a textbook on Saint’s Studies on the bookshelf and tried to cram in some knowledge.
The next day–.
“Fuwaa… Good morning, Rho…”
“Good morning, Luna-sama. You have dark circles under your eyes. Did you have trouble sleeping last night?”
“Yeah, just a little…”
There was no way she could say, ‘I was cramming all night’, so she trailed off evasively.
After that, Luna, who had breakfast in the dining room as usual, boarded the Spedio family’s carriage.
Outside the window, the people living in the Spedio territory were cheering Luna on.
“Luna-sama, please do your best!”
“Luna-chan, granny is also rooting for you!”
“Luna-oneechan, do your best!”
A young man, an old woman, a small child, and the people of the Spedio territory gathered together to wish Luna luck in passing the exam.
“Luna! Do your best!”
“Luna, I’m rooting for you!”
Carlo and Trebas, who climbed onto the roof of the mansion, waved a large flag that read ‘Guaranteed Pass’.
“Th-thank you very much, I’ll do my best…”
Feeling the weight of expectations, Luna felt even weaker.
After a few hours of being rocked by the carriage, she arrived at the Saint Academy in the royal capital.
“–Thank you very much.”
After thanking the driver of the Spedio family for pulling the carriage, Luna faced the Saint Academy school building.
“This is the Saint Academy…”
A clock tower so tall that she had to look up at it, a beautifully maintained large garden, and a chalk-colored palace-like main school building, the Saint Academy was much larger than she had imagined.
(For starters, I have to complete the registration.)
She walked to the temporary reception set up in front of the main gate.
“Excuse me, I’m Luna Spedio with examinee number 1835…”
“Examinee number 1835, correct? ――Yes, I have confirmed it. Please take this admission ticket with you and head to the auditorium.”
After bowing, Luna passed through the main gate and entered the main school building.
Inside the main school building, there were red arrows indicating the location of the auditorium, so she arrived at the exam hall without issues.
When she entered the auditorium –.
In complete contrast to the evening party she attended the other day, an atmosphere of pure tranquility spread throughout the venue.
(How should I put it, the atmosphere is astounding…)
Despite the fact that there were easily over 300 students taking the exam, the auditorium was silent.
Even the sound of swallowing seemed too noisy and her spine naturally straightened.
Luna moves to the seat marked with her examinee number and sat quietly so as not to stand out from her surroundings.
After a while, about ten minutes before the start of the exam, a female teacher stood on the stage in the auditorium.
Wearing a proctor’s armband, she cleared her throat and attracted the attention of examinees.
“I officially announce the start of the 300th Saint Academy entrance examination. As stated in the entrance examination guidelines, the written examination will be conducted first.”
When she said that and snapped her fingers, wind blew out of nowhere, carrying questions and answer sheets onto the student’s desk.
It was a practical distribution method utilizing wind magic.
In the silence where she could hear the sound of the second hand of the clock moving,
“Now then– begin.”
The start signal was announced, and the sound of turning paper resounded all at once.
Luna also started to keep up with the surroundings, and after quickly writing down her name and examinee number―― a huge number of questions stared back at her.
(Uwa, that’s a lot…)
The written test consisted of 100 questions, all of which were open ended.
The time limit was two hours, so it was a fairly heavy exam.
(Fuu, don’t be hasty. First of all, calm down and calmly solve one by one.)
She took a small, short breath and started on the first question.
Question 1. Where was the Saint’s birthplace?
(This is easy, Sacred Country Grandise Landonia territory Kansas Village)
Question 2. What is the name of the phantom beast separated from the herd that was picked up and raised by the young Saint?
(Uwaa, nostalgic. The answer is ‘Tama’. I never met him after he returned to his herd, but I wonder if he was able to live a healthy and happy life…)
Question 3. What is the name of the royal villa of the Albus Empire where the Saint was imprisoned?
(Ah, that place… I remember it. Rousa’s villa. It was a cramped place, but the food was delicious.)
Naturally, the written exam for the prestigious Saint Academy was full of difficult questions.
It goes without saying that the answers were recorded in the corners of textbooks, but if you didn’t visit the Saint’s historic sites, there is a mountain of questions that can’t be solved.
However, for Luna, the real Saint, what was being questioned was everything she had experienced in the past.
It was easy to solve the questions because the answers could be found just by tracing the memory.
(Okay, okay… I can do this, I think I can aim for all correct answers!)
Luna’s hand, which smoothly recorded the answers, suddenly stopped before the final problem.
Question 100. Write down the Saint’s thoughts just before she was executed.
The final question asked the student’s thoughts.
(… What I thought…)
Luna’s answer was—blank.
The Saint, who had lost hope in humanity, thought nothing by then.
After the written test was over, they took a 30 minute lunch break and moved on to the practical test.
The meeting place for the practical exam was in front of a dead tree in the backyard of the Saint Academy. Ten minutes before the start of the test, an old man with an impressive white beard showed up.
With a proctor’s armband wrapped around his left arm, he struck the ground with a wooden cane, attracting the attention of examinees.
“Eh, well then, let’s start the practical test.”
The old man held his long white beard with his left hand as he pointed the cane in his right hand at the large withered tree behind him.
“The tree that grows right behind me is the cursed Sacred Tree Yggdrasil. It used to be the most beautiful and powerful tree in the Kingdom of Elgia… About 300 years ago, it received the black magic of the Great Demon King who invaded the Kingdom――and received an unusually powerful curse, withering like this.”
Just as the old man said, she didn’t feel any vitality from Yggdrasil.
The pitch-black trunk seemed fragile and the thin branches had no leaves, buds or flowers.
No matter how you looked at it, it was just a dead tree.
“However, this sacred tree is not dead yet! If you pour in holy attribute magic, it will convert it into life force and repel the Great Demon King’s curse! The more magic you pour in, the more Yggdrasil will grow, blooming beautifully and vividly! This year’s practical skill test is about how much you can make the Sacred Tree bloom beautifully――in other words, it’s a test to measure the amount of magic power of the examinees!”
The old man took a breath and continued.
“The standard for passing is at least one bud. Those who do not satisfy this do not have the qualities of a Saint, and don’t even qualify to be an attendant either. I will declare your disqualification on the spot.”
The tough remark made the students nervous.
“Well then, let’s get started. First— Ascort, Karen Ascort.”
The red-haired female student whose name was called took a step forward.
Standing in front of Yggdrasil with a tense look on her face, she placed her hands on the pitch-black trunk and poured her magical power into it.
As a result, it produced five buds, one of which bloomed into a pink flower.
“Hou… you even made it bloom? Not bad, Karen Ascort.”
Karen, who was praised by the old man, bowed her head happily and returned to the waiting line for the students.
At the same time that her magical power supply was cut off, the Great Demon King’s curse reactivated again, returning Yggdrasil to its original withered state.
Afterwards, many students took the practical test.
Some had only one bud.
Some have buds and green leaves.
Others failed to even form buds and were rejected on the spot.
And finally— it was Luna’s turn.
“Then, next is Spedio… Spedio? Are you not present, Luna Spedio?”
“Eh, ah, yes!”
Because she wasn’t used to the new surname Spedio, her response was delayed and her voice cracked.
“Pu, ahaha… What, she’s way too nervous, isn’t she?”
“Ara ara, where did this country bumpkin come from?”
“I’m sure she came from a very rural area. I’ve never heard of that Spedio family name.”
Luna stared only at the Sacred Tree Yggdrasil while the cold gazes of the students around her were pouring in.
She ignored the noise around her.
After all, it was not the time to bother about that.
(This… might be… bad.)
The magical power of the Saint exerts absolute power over the magical power of the Great Demon King.
If she made a mistake in the amount of magical power she pours into it, she might break the curse on the Sacred Tree.
Even if it doesn’t go that far, if it bloomed flashily, it would attract unnecessary attention.
(Phew… Let’s calm down, I’m sure it’ll be fine)
Lightly patting her cheeks with both hands, she gently touched the trunk of the Sacred Tree.
(… If I had to grow one or two buds on it, this would be about enough, right?)
The moment Luna timidly injected an extremely small amount of magic into it――an abnormality occurred with the Sacred Tree Yggdrasil.
The thin black trunk transformed thick and healthy brown, thick branches stretch out with a creak, and the numerous buds that were on them bloomed with lovely cherry blossoms.
A full bloom.
The Sacred Tree Yggdrasil had regained its true form after 300 years.
“N-no way… impossible…!?”
The exam proctor, the old man, collapsed on the spot,
“Wow, how beautiful is that…”
“This is the Sacred Tree Yggdrasil…!”
All the students on the spot were mesmerized.
Luna on the other hand
Cold sweat dripped down her back, and she immediately cut off the supply of magic power.
At the same time, the Great Demon King’s curse ran through the entire sacred tree, and Yggdrasil returned to its original withered tree again.
In the midst of an indescribable silence,
“S-Spedio! Try it again, right now!”
The excited old man shook her shoulders and forced her to try again.
While the eyes of expectation washed over her,
(…If I screw up here, it will really be the end. I will be elevated to be the Saint again and my ideal villainous heiress life will disappear…)
She took a deep breath and concentrated all her attention on magic control.
(Reduce the output to the lowest limit, to just one millimeter… just for a moment, let the magical power – flow!)
As a result, one bud suddenly bore fruit.
“……Hmmm…… I guess there was some kind of error earlier. Most likely, part of the magic that the students poured into the Sacred Tree kept accumulating inside it, and it happened to be released when Spedio attempted―― thinking about it, that sounds plausible… But that was truly beautiful. It might be interesting to get the current students together and try to reproduce the previous phenomenon.”
The old man muttered to himself and was completely in his own world.
“Ah, um… Excuse me, can I go back now?”
When Luna, who was spacing out, asked, he suddenly came to his senses.
“Oops, I’m sorry. I was so absorbed in it. Luna Spedio, you can step back.”
Gazes mixed with hostility pierced Luna’s back as she returned to the exam waiting line.
“… What was that, I have a bad feeling…”
“Even though it was just a coincidence that it bloomed by chance, that elated expression…”
“Maybe she’s deluding herself now thinking that she’s the reincarnation of the Saint?”
While the students were whispering sarcastically in hushed voices,
(…Uu, everyone is staring at me. That definitely made me stand out…)
Luna dropped her shoulders in disappointment and curled up smaller, with her head drooping.