One day, Ernesti sat with his arms crossed in the living room at home, thinking with a serious expression. The reason was the letter spread on the table before him, with 'Laihiala Pilot Academy student prospectus' written on the top. At the age of eight and a half years, he finally received an offer to attend Laihiala Pilot Academy.
Eru's family resided in Laihiala Academy City, named after the best educational facility in Fremmevira, Laihiala Pilot Academy. The education system was divided into three stages, primary school from age 9, middle school from age twelve, and high school from age 15, taking three years for each stage. Most students only complete the first six years of school because high school was similar to college on earth, intended for students who seek further specialised education. It was customary to recognise all those above the age of fifteen as adults. Most people started their career around the age of 18, but depending upon the circumstances, some may join the workforce at 15.
Even though Laihiala Academy had the term 'pilot’ in its name, not everyone enroled had the goal of being a Knight or a Knight runner. One reason was the sponsorship from the kingdom for primary and middle school education, so children from all social standings studied there. Fremmevira's education system differed from modern compulsory education, a result of the special circumstances of the nation.
Fremmevira was known as the 'Kingdom of Knights'. Its name sounded great, but it actually meant that 'battles' occurred frequently. There was a large number of Demon beasts lurking on the outskirts of the nation, where the majority of the citizens were defenseless farmers working on the vast fields, making them vulnerable to attacks. The threat had always been there. In order to secure a steady supply of tax and food, protection of the farmers became an important policy to the nation, but Fremmevira did not plan to eradicate all of the Demon beasts because they appeared to be infinite.
The Knights existed to protect the citizens, but there were lapses in their defence due to the large area under their protection. The Knights were usually deployed after the discovery of a Demon beast, which was a passive strategy. This meant that the citizens would be under threat before the Knights moved in, to intercept. With this historical background, at some point the farmers hoped to possess skills to protect themselves, which was fulfiled by the nation in short order, by setting up a ministry and related facilities to teach them the minimum combat techniques, and magic knowledge needed for defence. In the end, Fremmevira was not a peaceful nation; even the farmers needed to pick up weapons to defend themselves.
There was opposition among the aristocrats ruling the country, on educating the lowly farmers to fight, but the policy remained in place to keep the nation running. Based on the results, the policy was a success. By pushing for a minimum standard of education among all people, it unified the citizens and their concept of pride as a nation. The improvement in domestic security was also a lucky bonus.
With this back-story, a trend of setting up education facilities was started all over the country. Laihiala Pilot Academy took advantage of its geographic location near the Capital and enroled students who were peasants, merchants, and even nobles. The academy was thus divided into an agricultural faculty, a business faculty, a pilot faculty, etc. All majors included classes on combat techniques, but most of the curriculum was tailored to make the students employable. The school holds many different classes to accommodate the family circumstances of its students, as well. Students need to attend at least 3 years of class and achieve a certain level of proficiency to graduate.
Chid and Ady sat beside Eru, who was studying the prospectus seriously. They had already flipped through the prospectus, and were eating the snacks on the table. When the snacks were almost gone, Eru was still deep in thought, which surprised them.
"Hey, what's troubling you? You wanted to be a Knight, right? Just take the Knighthood major."
"Erm, that was my plan... But there is something bothering me."
"Bothering you? Is it something like, 'the Knighthood major is too easy'?"
"No, that's not it... My goal from the very beginning was to be a Knight runner."
Knights certified to ride on Silhouette Knights are known as Knight runners. Eru's family knew about his ambition, and Chid and Ady had heard about it several times, too.
"The number of Silhouette Knights is limited, and only the elites of the Knighthood major can become pilots. The Knighthood major will take 6 years to complete and is followed by the piloting course. When all of that is done, including the deployment process... It will be a long time before I am actually riding a Silhouette Knight."
It is not easy to become a Knight runner; Silhouette Knights are 'weapons', something created to protect the nation. That's why, it requires years of training before it is possible to pilot one.
Eru thought about it for a while and faced Mathias.
"Father, I have a question, does the Knighthood major allow the skipping of grades?"
Mathias frowned, his son had asked something difficult. He understood Eru's worries and also knew how tough it would be.
"With the efforts you put in, and your magical capabilities, that is certainly possible... but the Knighthood major is different. Not only are you tested on your sword and magic abilities, you will also go through ethics lessons, and you have never learned about ethics officially, correct?"
This was a blind spot. Mathias continued with a troubled expression:
"Silhouette Knight pilot training is the final class before you enter pilot school. Students usually enroll at age 15... But for you... eh, if you are not tall enough, there won't be a suitable machine for you to pilot."
Everyone looked at Eru, and the scene fell into a hellish silence. Eru was smaller than the peers in his age group, which was obvious compared to the Olter siblings beside him. But no one thought this would be important.
Eru looked down in utter disappointment. He would need to wait 7 more years to pilot the giant robots of his dreams. He didn't mind waiting, but no one would blame him for thinking the process would take too long. But not everything will go your way. Eru wanted to change the mood in the room, when he felt a shadow loom over him. He lifted his head and saw Tina standing before him.
"I'm sorry, Eru. Because you look like me... your height..."
Seeing his mother rubbing his head with an apologetic face, Eru opened his eyes wide and shook his head.
"That's not it! Mother, it doesn't matter! I am still young, and this is not the only way..."
Eru stopped suddenly as he remembered something, surprised by his own words and closed his mouth slowly. This inspiration gave birth to a new possibility.
"...That's right; this is not the only way. I was too focused on piloting and wasted too much time. I should be spending my efforts in the right place..."
Tina tilted her head in confusion, as she watched Eru slowly raise his head with resolve.
"I can just make one myself."
Chid asked on reflex when he heard Eru's fragmented words.
"A Silhouette Knight. I will make one myself."
"...E...Eru? Are you serious?"
Eru looked more determined than ever. His words were too surprising; everyone in the room didn't know what to say.
"Wait... Wait a minute, what do you mean... by making?"
"I mean literally. All my actions thus far are based on piloting, but now that I think about it, I won't get my personal machine this way."
Everyone was stunned, was Eru thinking of hogging a Silhouette Knight for himself? Aside from a handful of powerful nobles and merchants, no one owned a personal Silhouette Knight. Creating and maintaining one would require enormous funds and manpower, going the pilot route is a short cut compared to this. That is the common sense of this world, but for the robot nerd from an alternate world, Eru didn't care about all that.
"That's right, isn't it? The machine issued by the kingdom cannot be modified too drastically! Why didn't I think about something so basic? A custom Silhouette Knight is the way to go. I will need related knowledge to modify one completely anyway... I overlooked this."
Chid and Ady put their hands on their foreheads when they saw Eru's evil smile, they knew that this was bad. The normal Eru would always act maturely with a casual air. But he had an unbelievably passionate side to him too, erupting unexpectedly. Chid and Ady felt that they were looking at Eru's true obsessive nature.
"You're doing it for real? Eru..."
"Yes! I am sure that I will be wasting my time if I carry on this way. Setting the goal of building one myself will be a good hobby, and is more practical than saving money and buying one, right?"
Chid thought either choice would be crazy, but he chose silence intelligently. Mathias glanced at the uninterested Chid and said sternly:
"Eru... I understand how you feel, but it is not as simple as you think."
"I know, father. But if possible, I want a personal Silhouette Knight, so I am going to do all I can."
"I see... alright, then. But, work hard on your Knight lessons, too."
"I will. I really want to be a pilot, so I won't take it lightly."
Eru had no hesitation on his face. Ady started patting Eru's head for some reason, moving from being stunned to being impressed.
"Well, you are really willing to do whatever it takes for your goal."
"... I am a bit concerned with the way you put it, but there is no reason to give up when there are choices for me to take."
"Amazing. Eru looks so cute, but is so passionate."
Because of how I look, normal methods won't work on me.
Eru looked out the window; he could see the facility that took up half the space in the city... Laihiala Pilot Academy.
"Well... I am looking forward to the day I go to school in Laihiala."
Mathias and Tina smiled at each other; they didn't want to see their son depressed. Even though his goal was ridiculous, if it is Eru, he can definitely strive towards it wholeheartedly.
"... I don't want to lose, Eru is too amazing."
"Noth... Nothing. Okay, let's work hard to be Knights!"
Chid and Ady had decided to major in Knighthood, too. The three of them wanted to work hard on their goal together at Laihiala Pilot Academy, and looked forward to their campus life in the future.
== C.E. 1274
The season changed to spring, the time for Laihiala Pilot Academy to welcome new students.
Laihiala Pilot Academy didn't only take in students from Laihiala city but also from the Capital, the neighbouring city, and all over the nation. Taking into account the possibility of a Demon beast attacks and traffic conditions, most of the students leave for academy city early, so new faces could be seen around the dormitory in recent days.
On the morning of the entrance ceremony, Ernesti, Archid, and Adeltrud walked to campus along with Batson. With the dormitory filled with students from foreign countries, local students usually commuted to school from home.
Laihiala Academy City was surrounded by a giant city wall, but Laihiala Pilot Academy had a wall of its own. Although its purpose was to demarcate the campus grounds, with the vast amount of land that makes up the academy, the continuous line of walls extended to the streets, becoming a well-known landmark.
"Now that I think about it, I have gotten used to the wall but have never gone in..."
"You can go in as much as you like from now on."
The group walked along the wall and reached the tall school gates shortly. This was the main entrance into the academy. Because the piloting students will ride on Silhouette Knights, the gates were adjusted to accommodate their height. The door was wide open for the entrance ceremony.
The four of them were about to enter excitedly when Eru suddenly stopped. Chid, Ady, and Batson looked back with surprise, but understood when they saw the things beside the gates. On either side of the main gate were Silhouette Knights, welcoming all of the visitors and incoming students. The group had to drag Eru, who looked like he was about to prostrate himself before them, away and entered the academy.
The most important part of the schedule was the entrance ceremony. The ceremony mostly consisted of listening to speeches given by the teachers. After lunch, the teachers would lead their students away, and give them a brief introduction to the content of the course. Although they were divided into various faculties, primary school focused more on the basics, with common modules across the whole school year. The division was very vague, and the contents only start to vary during middle school.
The entrance ceremony was held in the grand hall. The group gazed in awe at the gigantic scale of the campus, but Eru, who had visited his father's workplace before, knew the way and walked confidently towards the grand hall, while the other three desperately chased after him to keep the short Eru in sight.
"It's great that we don't need others to lead us, but it is easy to lose track of Eru. He is really small."
"Right, it would be easier to locate him if he was taller, but that's fine. He is cuter this way!"
"I didn't grow much either."
Eru couldn't stand them being so noisy and spoke up.
"I'm going to leave Chid and Ady behind."
"Ah, I have an idea! We won't lose Eru if I hug him right?"
"I'm not okay with that."
As the group was joking around, the grand hall was already overflowing with people when they arrived. Everyone here was a new student, as expected of the largest educational institute in the nation. They thought it would be too crowded to even stand in the grand hall, but they somehow found some seats. The school had already anticipated this overwhelming crowd.
The ceremony began in the grand hall filled with tense freshmen.
Grandfather of Ernesti... Dean Lauri Echevarria started off the address, followed by esteemed members of the academy. The four children who listened to the speech with their backs straight started to feel irritated as the event dragged on. Although they displayed patience uncommon for children, they still had bored expressions by the end of the ceremony. Fortunately, the torment stopped before noon. With the end of the speeches, the entrance ceremony drew to a close, and the freshmen filed out of the grand hall.
It was lunch time, so the group headed for the school canteen. Some people bought food there; others took out their lunch boxes. Upperclassmen, who were familiar with the place headed to the eateries outside the campus. Everyone settled down to eat their lunch in their own way, but the cafeteria remained crowded. In this chaos, a prominent group sat in a corner of the canteen.
One of them was a pretty girl, who had short, silvery hair with a hint of purple.
The other two had unkempt black hair and wavy shoulder-length black hair, a boy and girl who shared a similar feeling.
The last was a young dwarf who had reddish brown hair.
From afar, the members of this group had nothing in common. Even though the group drew many curious glances, no one had the courage to approach them.
"The canteen is incredibly crowded."
"But we found a place to sit immediately, which is great."
"They offered their seats to us immediately... I wonder why?"
Eru chatted with Batson as he ate his crepe covered in pie crust. It was a mini crepe with pie crust that was easy to carry, and fitted nicely into Eru's small hand. Ady looked very pleased, as she watched Eru eat the biscuit in silence.
"Are there speeches in the afternoon? They are too long winded."
"Doesn't matter, you didn’t listen to them anyway Chid. Didn't you fall asleep?"
"Let's eat our lunch first. There are lots of people here, so we should finish up and let others sit, too."
There were empty seats at their table. Eru felt embarrassed that no one else was sitting with them. At this moment, a female student ignored all of this, and walked towards them.
Her blonde hair swayed as she walked in confident strides, causing a small commotion among the students. It was rare for her to show up here after all. She sat in the empty chair as if they were planning to meet up.
She was obviously older than Eru and the others, an upperclassman. There was no standard uniform in Laihiala Pilot Academy. Her clothes seemed to be low profile but well made, with accessories that didn't hinder her movements. Eru guessed she must have come from a well off family, either a daughter of wealthy merchants or aristocrats.
There were two types of reaction from them: Eru and Batson looked at the stranger with confusion, while Chid and Ady held their breath and stared at her. Those were not passionate eyes for a beautiful lady, but bashful eyes. Eru didn't understand this, but he was certain the girl had connections with the twins.
The pretty girl who came uninvited smiled as she looked at the tense twins, then faced Eru and Batson. Her smile became gentler as she introduced herself.
"Hello my cute friend. My name is Stefania Serrati. What about you?"
Eru was lost for a moment, but he put down his half bitten biscuit, sat properly and replied:
"I am Ernesti Echevarria, this is Batson Termonen, as for these two..."
"It's fine, I'm already acquainted with them. Archid, Adeltrud, long time no see, I'm glad you are both healthy."
Stefania had been smiling gently the entire time, but Chid tensed up his normally sleepy face and said:
"Long time no see, Stefania onee-sama."
The stiff tone didn't sound like something Chid would normally use. Stefania's face collapsed, but she regained her smile immediately.
"... Both of you are at the age where you are attending school at Laihiala. Since we have the opportunity to study at the same school, why don't you visit me?"
"Stefania onee-sama is in the third year of primary school, right? Oh yeah, Baltsar onii-sama is studying here, too?"
"Right, he is majoring in Knighthood, 2nd year of primary school, you will have the chance to meet him soon."
Compared to Stefania's attitude, the demeanour of the twins was weird. Chid was stiff in his tone while Ady was uncharacteristically quiet. It seemed like they had family ties, but it felt unnatural. Batson routinely switched his gaze from one member to the next in this awkward atmosphere. Everyone had stopped eating. Suddenly, Eru finished his biscuit aggressively, contrary to his small stature. He ignored the surprised stares of others, wiped his mouth and smiled.
"Alright, we have finished our food. The cafeteria is too crowded, and it's not considerate to hog the table, let's go somewhere else. What do you think?"
"... Ri... Right. Both of you are majoring in Knighthood? There will be plenty of chances for us to meet, let's chat slowly next time."
Stefania, who had a regrettable expression, patted Eru's head for some reason before leaving. The four baffled children were left behind. Batson wanted to clarify things, but Eru said that lunch break was over, and they should head for the classroom. He forcefully left his seat and left. Batson wasn't satisfied, but he still went towards the crafting faculty, while the trio moved towards the Knighthood department with an awkward atmosphere.
There was nothing worth mentioning about the afternoon’s freshmen welcome activities. They were simply briefed on the schedule for the future, and the contents for lessons tomorrow. After orientation, everyone was dismissed, and the students prepared to leave.
Even now, Chid and Ady still seemed troubled. They were not joking like usual, instead, they were unfocused and had an awkward air about them. On the way home, Eru led the way and told them:
"I don't know the details, but don't be depressed. Class is starting tomorrow, so training will be cancelled for today, take a break."
Chid and Ady stopped. "Eh, Eru." Chid called out with a calm resolve.
"What is it?"
"Aren't you going to ask, erm, about her?"
"If you feel the need to share, I will listen."
The air about the twins visibly eased. They looked at each other as if to confirm something. After a while, Chid started:
"Eru, we have something we need tell you."
"Alright, let's talk in my room."
And so, the trio left campus and headed for Eru's place, to his room. As this is the place where they hold their magic lessons, the two were familiar with it. They sat on the table and bed as usual, but the difference was that they were quiet. After a while, Chid began:
"Ah... Erm, simply put, our father is an impressive noble."
After being silent for so long, those words were too direct. Eru blinked and asked:
"So you are aristocrats? But you two have not done anything noble like? And, even joined me for training."
"It's complicated... actually not. Our mother is not the noble's wife but a mistress."
"Erm, because mother is easygoing, she says she doesn’t mind being a mistress since she has us."
"Father's wife... well, is very jealous and conscious of others."
"Even if she doesn’t like mother, her pride prevents her from feuding with a simple mistress."
Even Eru wasn't sure how to react, so he simply nodded.
"Mother is too obedient, doing everything to appease others. In the end, madam didn’t allow us to live under the same roof as her, making a big scene."
"And, we were given a place to live, that's why we moved here. The living expenses are handled by father."
"Eh, that's how it is... Stefania Onee-sama that you met earlier is the daughter of madam."
"Tiffa-nee is alright, but the problem is with the other two brothers. The younger brother is very irritating."
"He likes to go on a power trip, bullying us because we are scions of a mistress. Just like Madam."
The two of them complained nonstop and ended with a big sigh. Their expressions twisted when they mentioned the brother, making it easy to imagine all of the things that happened between them.
"This brother you mentioned is in Laihiala?"
"Correct. He is one year older than us, so he is in the second year of primary school."
"I see. I have a feeling that there will be trouble."
Chid nodded firmly. It's not a premonition; Chid knew that there would definitely be trouble. The life at the main house flashed in his mind. He had to bear with the oppression and the hardships back then, so he didn't spend too much time reminiscing.
"We are still grateful towards father for providing us with the living expenses. But..."
"If they leave us alone, we won't trouble them either. But they like to mess with us and can't stand us."
They probably recalled unpleasant memories, Chid was gesturing furiously while Ady said moodily.
"Since Tiffa-nee knows... That guy will probably come soon. If you are with us, you might get caught up in this too..."
Ady was depressed when she said this. Her usual confidence had disappeared. Because she usually gives off a bubbly impression, the gap appeared wider.
"I understand the gist of it. So what's next?"
Eru was standing before they had realised it.
"... What do you... mean by next?"
"Do you plan to defend, ignore them, or attack?"
"Oh, should be attack... Hey!"
Chid unconsciously went along and was shocked. Eru smiled as he usually did when he is talking about dangerous things. Even Chid, who knew that Eru was not just a pretty face backed off.
"What is with you all of a sudden? I am glad you are my friend, you would be terrifying as an enemy."
"You are helping us? As expected of Eru! You are so reliable, but this is our family problem. We can't trouble you."
"That's right. I have no idea how much I can interfere, but I don't plan to seeing my friends so troubled. Just call me whenever you need me, I will be there."
"... Okay, we're counting on you!"
Chid and Ady nodded confidently, they were smiling once again. Eru looked at them and thought:
I didn't expect them to be nobles. Their sister didn't seem to hate them... why is that? No matter what, it seems there will be trouble...
Eru thought about it from an outsider's point of view, keeping this matter to heart. The upcoming school days will be more chaotic than he imagined.
After the tumultuous entrance ceremony, they started their school life the next day.
There were no scheduled lessons today either, because the briefing took up half the day. This was extremely boring for the 9 year old kids who just enrolled. Most people paid no heed to the teacher's presentation, and the atmosphere was clearly screaming 'won't it end already' for all to see. But one student was excited about a few trivial details.
There… There is such a course...
That's right, it was Ernesti Echevarria. And the matter that gave him such a big impact? It was the flimsy piece of paper in his hands. A table was drawn neatly on it, the timetable for all classes, probably basic information given out by the school to all freshmen. What did he learn from the timetable?
...There is a... 'Silhouette Knight Design Basics' course...!? But the timetable he was holding with his trembling hands did not belong to the Knighthood major for primary school. You can infer from the name that this course is meant for Knightsmith students, who are aiming to build and maintain Silhouette Knights. It is catered for students in their 2nd year of middle school (around 13 years old), and this course had nothing to do with Eru who was majoring in Knighthood.
But, after reading such tempting words, the out of control speeding train... Ernesti will definitely go for it. He confirmed the Knight faculty timetable, and in the same time slot was one of the most important courses for Knighthood majors... fundamental magic.
I must attend this course no matter what... this class is in the way...!
Suddenly, the teacher on the lectern felt a strange sensation, as if a starving beast had made its way into the classroom, sending a prickling sensation down his back. He shivered, stopped his lecture and looked around the room, but he could only see a bunch of unmotivated kids, there was no famished beast here. The teacher shook his head and decided to treat it as a false alarm.
He overlooked the fired up, petite student hidden in the crowd.
The Knighthood courses that they are studying has two types, Fundamental Knight courses and Generic courses. The Generic courses are the same as other majors, while the Knight courses focus on magic knowledge, mana training, and swordsmanship.
Generally speaking, human magic is classified into elementary, intermediate, and advanced according to its power and ease of control.
As most citizens know elementary magic, they are also known as 'common spells'. Hence, intermediate and advanced spells are recognised as real magic. Faculties aside from Knighthood majors strive to be at the intermediate level. Since advanced magic is also dependent on the depth of one's mana pool, only Knighthood majors learn it. Ernesti knew through experience that increasing the mana pool requires plenty of effort. Hence, joining combat related careers such as Knights requires a lot of effort in mana training. Allocating more time on mana training than other courses is the unique feature of the Knighthood faculty.
And so, the day to attend Fundamental Magic class arrived.
This was a memorable first lesson. The lesson was not conducted in the classroom as the students needs to be tested to determine their magical abilities, and to be divided into different groups.
Eru's trio had already learned magic before enrolment, so their foundations were strong. Apart from them, there were some who had learned the basics, too, so they would be in a different class from those without any magical training. The newbies were placed in the 'general class', while the experienced ones were placed in the 'advanced class'. Advanced class might sound impressive, but the only difference with the general class is the experience. Regardless, advanced class students were viewed as elites anyway.
This was because the advanced class had kids from noble clans and merchant families, who were able to receive education in sword and magic before enrolment. This meant that they had a certain standard of wealth. In a way, Ernesti, with his family background in the education field, and his disciples, Archid and Adeltrud, were exceptions.
The chattering students followed the teacher to the sports arena. The fastest method to test magic capabilities was for the students to use them, and to cast destructive spells, they need to move to a specialised training ground surrounded by walls. The classmates gathered in groups of twos or threes, surveying the straw man targets wearing old armour, rearing to go.
On the surface, this was just an introductory class. They wouldn't be scrutinised because of their magic abilities at this stage, but it was a chance to show off and garner fame, if they performed better than their peers. A lot of the advanced class students had confidence in their abilities. Everyone was in high spirits and did their best because of this.
One of the students casted a Fireball, an intermediate level fire spell. An orange magical sphere appeared from the staff, hitting the target with blazes trailing behind it. True to its name, the magic exploded in a ball of flames upon impact <TL: Kanji is Explode Fire Ball>. The armour retained its shape but was scorched black, showing the explosive power of the blast. The students were in an uproar after witnessing this scene, very few freshmen knew intermediate spells before starting school and have mastery over the powerful Fireball. But Fireball was an impressive spell and drains a lot of mana, the boy was already at his limits after casting it. He was panting roughly, almost to the point of mana exhaustion, but he still looked very pleased.
The teacher supervising the exercise held high hopes for this batch. With such mastery of magic upon enrolment, he would become an elite magician if he puts in the effort at school. The teacher tried not to display this thought on his face, and continuing to record the results in silence.
"Everyone seems used to Fireball, should we do something like that, too?"
"Right... Ah, Eru, what do you want to do?"
Archid folded his arms lazily, standing some distance away from the area that was filled with excitement. Adeltrud hugged Eru as usual, as she conversed with him. She realised Eru was not being himself. Eru always gave off a gentle air, now he had a stern expression as if he was going to a battlefield. Ady tilted her head in confusion, her past experience tells her that Eru will only make such a serious face when Silhouette Knights are involved, but she had no idea how it is related to the magic test that is going on right now.
The test continued. Next up was finally Eru’s turn. His stature was petite, compared to his classmates, but his expression was stern like never before, and he had a serious atmosphere about him. Eru spoke when he got into position.
"Teacher, I have a selfish request."
"Hmm? What is it?"
The sudden question surprised the teacher.
"If the results of the test exceeds the contents of the class by a large margin, can I be exempted from taking this course?"
"... What are you talking about?"
Eru's strange words stunned the teacher. He frowned deeply when he realised what Eru meant.
"...Ernesti Echevarria? What do you mean? Refusing to attend lessons? This joke is not funny..."
"No, I am very serious. I have another class that I wish to attend, so it will be a big help if I am exempt from this course."
The teacher was dumbstruck. He had been a teacher for quite some time, but he had never seen a student so confident before. It might be okay for a middle schooler, but a freshman in primary school? The teacher wouldn't allow this request easily.
"How bold of you, I won't accept it so easily. Ah, right, since you said that, at least show me advanced magic. Then I will think about it."
"So it will dependent on my results? I heard that very clearly..."
The students around them listened to the conversation and anticipated a good show. Most of them just wanted to watch the drama, but only Chid and Ady knew of Eru's strength and the inevitable results, they looked at each other.
The teacher was also hinting that punishment will follow if Eru failed, and deliberately made things difficult for Eru. But the teacher did not realise that he was facing a demon who wanted to give his whole life to Silhouette Knight designing; Eru would give his all without hesitation.
Eru started to construct the magical script in the virtual region in his brain... the magius circuit. He pushed his amazing calculation abilities, starting the processing sequence. He drew out Winchester from his waist, casting spells along the wake of his staff... Piercing Lance. This was a type of compressed fire spell, focusing the explosion on impact in one direction, increasing the piercing power of Fireball. And, he did not just activate one, there were ten Piercing Lances appearing one after another in the air.
After completing the deployment of the Piercing Lances in short order, he took aim at the target, firing them off simultaneously. The long and thin flaming spears were right on target, and the armoured target was hit repeatedly. The narrow interior of the armour was heated intensely after being pierced on impact, the straw man was instantly torn apart. The armour could not withstand the devastating heat and melted in a red glow before finally exploding.
The teacher and students were speechless, unable to believe their eyes. Piercing Lance was an intermediate spell but was a higher level spell than Fireball. Constructing the script in such a short time and activating 10 of them was not a simple task. And amazingly, Eru didn't seem fatigued after casting such a powerful spell. This means that the mana cost of the Piercing Lances was not a burden on Eru's mana pool. This was not something a freshman, who had just enrolled in yesterday, could achieve.
This was more than enough, but Eru kept his word. He lifted his other Winchester... different from the one he used to cast Piercing Lance. The next script had been completed in his mind, a complicated and orderly spell, conjuring a magic much stronger than Piercing Lance.
The air around them started to shift, forming a tornado in an instant. It went straight for the target from Eru's position with a large howl. The strong wind would definitely have blown the straw man away if they hadn't been nailed to the ground. The furious wind and rumbling thunder resonated within everyone's ears. The lightning created by magic was much more destructive than the Piercing Lances, turning the armour into dust with one strike.
Thundering Gale... A melded magic using wind and lightning sigils, a real Advanced Spell.
Eru started training from age 5, so casting these series of spells, including advanced spells, was not a burden on him, and he was not even out of breath. When he looked back, he saw a startled expression. The teacher was slack-jawed and stiff. Eru smiled happily and said to the teacher:
"How was that teacher? Do you agree to exempt me from this course?"
"...Eh? Ah, yes, do what you want."
No one protested or challenged his decision. And so, Eru earned the freedom to work towards a bright future.
Everyone stared from afar at the pleased Eru, who gained victory with his overwhelming abilities. Even Chid and Ady looked at the target that was blown away with blank eyes.
"He made such a big scene, he was totally into it."
"Yeah, he can skip this class and attend the Silhouette design module of his dreams!"
"He was willing to go this far... Anyone who gets in his way will be burnt to ashes..."
Ady said as she backed away. Chid pulled her back with a bitter smile.
"That's wrong. He is not taking it easy because he has a goal, right? I will blow the target away too."
Chid rolled his shoulders gleefully with anticipation. Eru gave him a warning despite what he did:
"Don't mind me, but is it okay for you to stand out? You have an irritating brother here, right? Do you plan to challenge him?"
"What are you saying, after causing such a commotion? Like I said, we will stand out with you around anyway."
"I think ... you are spot on, I can't deny that."
"Right? I will be right back."
"Take care... Work hard!"
The training ground hadn't recovered yet, from the disaster caused by Eru, everyone looked at Chid with sympathetic eyes when he stepped onto the field without a care in the world. No one wanted to be next, right after Eru's unbelievable magic display. Chid knew this, but still entered with his head held high.
My tutor is amazing. It will be hard to catch up to him. I have to put on a good show, too!
For Chid who studied under Eru, he was used to Eru's shenanigans and knew he couldn't match Eru yet. That why, he couldn't hold anything back.
Chid steadied himself, closed his eyes, and started to construct a script with his magius circuit. To be honest, he was more proficient in power type spells, so he chose to use one. He drew up the staff he favoured and held it high, then pointed it at the target. The mana and script streaming into the crystal catalyst made the red orb glow brightly. He chose to cast a single shot spell, an intermediate spell more powerful than Piercing Lance... Flame Strike.
An oval shaped magic sphere flew out with a spectacular trailing blaze, causing a bigger explosion than fireball. The reverberating sound acted like a signal, drawing the attention of everyone present back to the arena.
Chid fired a second shot, the two overlapping explosions blew the targets away. For him, two shots were the limit of his mana pool. He was unsteady on his feet from fatigue, but he still smiled and passed the baton to the next person... Ady.
"You are still the same, only going for brute force... My turn!"
Chid and Ady were twins, but their strengths differed widely. Unlike Chid who was good with power, Ady specialised in intrinsic control. She carefully constructed the script, held her magic staff with both hands and aimed at the target. A dazzling lightning appeared the next second, piercing the target with the rumble of thunder. She chose the intermediate spell of the lightning architect sigil... Riot Sparrow.
As depicted by its name <TL: Kanji is Lightning Javelin>, Riot Sparrow changes lightning into the form of a javelin before firing it at the target. Lightning spells are powerful, but it is hard for the caster to direct it accurately. Increasing the accuracy adds additional burden on the caster, and along with its difficult control makes people view it as a higher class of magic compared to others. From the aftermath, the trio displayed incredible capabilities.
They ignored the atmosphere in the arena, high fiving each other in celebration. Ady hugged Eru and twirled around while Chid was so tired he couldn't stand up straight. Compared to the casual trio, the other advanced students felt uneasy. They were thinking:
What are we going to do, if we take classes with these three incredible people?
As previously mentioned, the advanced class had many scions of aristocrats and merchants, a bunch of children with large amounts of pride. Their childishness and immature pride angers others easily, but the scene before them was too amazing, shattering their young pride and competitiveness. They gave up and sighed deeply. Eru and the twins didn't care about their depressed classmates. Their classmates’ troubles were just beginning.
That fundamental magic class was seen as a catastrophe. A few days later, Batson led his petite childhood friend and repeated for the one hundredth and first time.
"Ah... it's that way, that's the classroom you want... But, are you really going to study there?"
Laihiala Pilot Academy had many grades and faculties, so it needs plenty of classrooms and facilities. Because the campus was divided by grades and faculties, a lot of students would only meet each other at the canteen during breaks.
"Of course, how can I miss such an interesting class? Ah, here will be far enough, Batson."
Batson watched the youth enter the classroom and remained baffled.
"But this is the crafting faculty, and that is a middle school classroom..."
The atmosphere before class began was casual, some were preparing for the next lesson, some were working on their assignments, and others were just chatting lazily.
"Quiet please, class is beginning... It seems very quiet today."
The teacher said the usual as he entered the room, but he noticed that something was wrong and stopped. The students were usually noisy and rowdy before class started. To be craftsmen requires a practical attitude. In other words, it is better to try it out instead of thinking about it. There was nothing wrong with this line of thought, but that meant a lot of them just couldn't sit still.
For these students, this lecture based class was unpopular. It was rare for his charges to be quiet before the teacher arrived. He might have felt moved, but instead, he felt that something was out of place. The 40 odd years old teacher surveyed the students in the room and noticed that they were staring at the same spot. He followed their line of sight and saw the culprit of this abnormal situation.
"... What are you doing here?"
The teacher asked the student sitting in the middle of the front row, who did not belong here.
It was a young and small sized boy, nothing like a middle schooler. Because the middle school desk was too large for him, he had to kneel on his chair. His position was upright and proper, with the text book 'Fundamentals of Silhouette Knights Design' on his lap, waiting excitedly for the class to begin.
This scene was warming, but contrasted with the situation in reality. This was a classroom in middle school, not a place for primary school students.
"I'm here for the lesson."
"I see, because the class is about to begin. But that's not what I meant. You don't look like a middle schooler."
"I am a primary school student from the Knighthood faculty. I came because I want to attend this course."
Their conversation was going in circles, but the teacher, who was firm, warned Eru calmly.
"Well, it is good to be passionate about your studies, but there are classes for Knighthood majors, right? You should come after you finish that class."
"It's okay. I knew all the contents of that class. The teachers are fine with exempting me. You can confirm this with them."
"... Is that so? Then, that’s fine. Alright, let's continue with the topic from the previous lesson, regarding the structure of Silhouette Knights..."
All the students retorted in their heart: “How is that fine!", but the teacher decided that he would lose, if he felt bothered by Eru and carried on teaching adamantly.
The outsider who hogged the first row, Ernesti Echevarria, glanced at the teacher and opened the textbook happily, preparing to take notes. Being so pleased because of a lesson, the middle schoolers felt too lazy to retort. And so, the crafting faculty accepted this outsider and the course somehow carried on smoothly.
"Before dabbling in the design of Silhouette Knights, you have to familiarise yourself with the structure, this is a simple rationale. But what needs to be done specifically? That is hard to answer. One of the reasons is the difficulty in constructing the Silhouette Knights. It requires crafting, magic, and alchemy, so there is a lot to learn, meaning the problem is with the amount of studying materials. That is why only people, who are going to make Silhouette Knights, Knightsmiths, will learn how to design them. Knight runners won't have the time to learn all of this knowledge."
That might be true, but we can't apply this to the boy intruding into the crafting faculty... Ernesti. He is a robot nerd whose obsession wasn't even cured after reincarnation. He read volumes of robot designs and specification, even memorising the name and models of robots. If you teach the method of crafting a giant robot to this guy, what do you think will happen? He will treat the textbook as a bible and study it religiously, preparing for lessons and revising the topic until perfection, going beyond the scope of the lesson and researching tons of information. His attitude is great, but his burning passion makes the middle schoolers, who are older than him back away.
"... Comparing the current military model Karrdator and the previous generation Salodrea..."
As Eru listened to the teacher's explanation, he flipped his textbook. He always sat in the middle of the front row, and after a few lessons, that became his permanent seat.
The elderly teacher scribbled on the blackboard with the clear sound of chalk, listing the basic structure of the Silhouette Knights. This includes the 5 main crucial elements... The 'magius engine' acting as the brain, the 'ether reactor' that serves as the heart, the 'crystal tissue' simulating muscles, the 'inner skeleton' reinforcing the structure, and the 'outer skin' as the armour.
"As everyone knows, these two models have similar ether reactors; the difference in power output lies in the crystal tissues..."
The Silhouette Knights are powered by the mana produced from the ether reactor. The ether reactor converts the ether in the world into mana, simulating the organic functions of living things in the form of machines. As long as there is ether around it, this device can keep on running. Normally, the mana produced by the reactor will turn back to ether and spread it into the atmosphere. Hence, there is a need for ether to circulate within the crystal tissues to maintain its form as mana.
Crystal tissues are crystal catalysts, that has been modified through alchemy, and able to change its shape under the influence of specific scripts and mana. Apart from using it as the muscles of the Silhouette Knights, this property also allows it to be used as mana batteries.
"The script in the magius engine has been refined, but the improvement is not significant. Because of its ruggedness, it has been used for over 300 years without major changes..."
The magius engine is responsible for controlling the heart and muscles. It contains gigantic and complicated magic scripts, allowing the pilot to control the Silhouette Knights.
The inner skeleton and outer skin are simply a metallic frame and armour. But current technology cannot create the skeletons of the gigantic humanoid robots as a single entity. They have to be made from the combination of smaller parts, wielded together with physical boost magic and scripts to support its weight. This allows the Silhouette Knights to look tougher in its defence, but creates a flaw with the body being unable to support its own weight without a constant supply of magic.
Silhouette Knights simulate the functions of living beings, an existence created by the combined efforts of crafting, magic, and alchemy.
"Please turn to the next page. This covers the Silhouette arms of the Silhouette Knights. Although it is not directly related to the design, but this is still important, so please study this part carefully."
Silhouette arms refer to the ranged attack equipment used by Silhouette Knights. Surprisingly, the Silhouette Knights, which are a combination of magical components, are not able to use ranged magic on their own. The magius engine can only be used to move the Silhouette Knight itself, and does not include the ranged attack function. The Knight runner is required to construct a magic script when spells are needed.
Of course, casting magic at the level of Silhouette Knights... known as Overt spells... is impossible for humans. There are rare cases where an individual is able to process the magic, but constructing the script needs time and cannot be used in actual battle. For Silhouette Knights to use overt spells in the heat of a fight, the magic script has to be prepared in advance.
"For people aiming to be Knightsmiths such as yourself, there is no need to study 'Emblem Graph', but you must master the script at the level of Culverin."
Emblem graph doesn't construct magic through the use of scripts, like the magius circuit of living beings. Emblems are drawn on the exterior of objects, which are then used to cast spells... It uses the theory that scripts can be visualised in the form of a pattern. When using emblem graph to cast magic, the mana can be channelled directly to the object the emblem is grafted on, in order to activate it. It appears to be a convenient technique so far, but because drawing the script needs a large physical area, it will run into the problem of the equipment being too cumbersome. If you take into account the difficulty and the effort required to make them, the emblems are not really marketable to citizens.
But the advantage of using the emblem graph is the ability to prepare any spell as long as there is enough space. You just need to provide the power and the spells can be used without much control. Simply put, this technique is suitable for the gigantic Silhouette Knights, which are made from the combination of magical components; the only disadvantage is that each emblem can only use one spell. That is why the army created a variety of Silhouette arms in order to deal with different situations. It is common to see a Silhouette Knight going into battle with several arsenals on its back.
A bell in the distance rang when the class reached this point, announcing the end of the lesson.
"Ara, time is up so I will stop here. Remember to revise today's content... Ernesti, please 'have mercy' on us."
Ernesti watched the teacher leave after uttering these words, he was uncertain what he did wrong. He took plenty of notes today as well. By the way, his progress has already exceeded normal students by months.
After finishing classes for the day, Ernesti returned home and took out his books to revise the content of the day's lesson. Although he meets up with Chid and Ady for training occasionally, he prefers to head home and review whenever there are Silhouette Knights design classes.
Eru learned a lot from the class. Thanks to that, he gradually grasped the basics of Silhouette Knight designing. But the more he understood, the more questions he has for the parts beyond the basics. In the construction of Silhouette Knights, the crucial elements, such as crystal tissues, inner skeleton, and outer skin, are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, the country invested heavily in the education of engineers and alchemists. This ensures that forts at the front lines, and towns with appropriate facilities can supply the Silhouette Knights with the necessary parts. A lot of crafting faculty students, apart from Eru had actual experience in crafting. But the details about the magius engine and the ether reactor... the heart and soul of Silhouette Knights are classified. The lesson covered their functions, but their interior structure remained a mystery.
Silhouette Knights are a major military force for the nation, but it is problematic for normal citizens to possess. Its distribution is controlled by the government, and the construction methods of the core parts are national secrets. Even the 'kingdom of Knights', Fremmevira, is strict about this. Withholding the crafting method led to a drop in production efficiency, so it cannot be mass produced, making the value of each Silhouette Knight sky rocket. Silhouette Knights are treated as expensive tactical weapons because of this.
"...That might be the case, but I am not worried about the magius engine."
It is already known that the magius engine is used to control the movement of the whole robot. That means similar scripts can emulate this. Simply put, Eru intends to hack into the magius engine. It was an idea Eru had come up with, because of his incredible processing ability and background in software engineering. But he can't do anything when it involves something that is not dependent on theory, emulating the fundamentals of magic in this world, the heart of magic technology... the ether reactor.
"But... without more clues, I will come to a bottleneck... After all, 'that world' doesn't have the concept of ether."
Uguu, Eru frowned and rolled around in bed.
He understood one thing from class; the ether reactor was made from a special mineral called 'Elven ore'. But the mining and methods used are unknown, all information regarding fairy stones are kept secret. Although Eru's goal was to build his own Silhouette Knight, the worst case scenario was to buy an ether reactor. But even so, the price of ether reactors made the plan impractical.
"Eh, no use worrying about it. Let's start researching from what I already know."
Eru mumbled and returned to his desk. The notes he took did not have any blank space, so he took out another self-study notebook. He dipped his pen in ink and immersed himself in preparation, and revision, a time to research his hobby. Eru lived an incredibly busy life, but it was a blissful life according to him.
Eru's student life traversing between the Knighthood and crafting faculties continued for some time.
In the beginning, others were irritated by Eru's unprecedented actions, but they became used to it with the passage of time. Everyone started to notice the cute features that Eru had inherited from his mother. The short Eru who happily listened to the fundamentals of Silhouette Knight Design was treated like a mascot, and Eru had gotten used to being patted on the head as a greeting. And one day...
"Ara, you are..."
Eru finished his crafting classes and was on the way back to the Knighthood faculty when he heard a familiar voice. He looked back and saw a lady with wavy blond hair, a nice pair of eye brows, and slightly drooping blue eyes, that were squinting because of a smile.
"You are Ernesti... right?"
Archid and Adeltrud's sister... Stefania Serrati said, as she walked to his side, bending down with a smile to accommodate Eru's height. Eru replied politely making her even happier.
"Ara, I remember, you are in the same grade as Archid right? Why are you here?"
Even though she looked joyful, she still asked. This was the secondary school campus, not a place where a primary school student, like Eru should be visiting. When she heard Eru's honest reply, that he was attending a middle school crafting course, her eyes opened wide from shock.
"Eh, you are really smart, but why are you rushing to learn this?"
In a way, this is an obvious question. A student will be hard pressed handling the work at their grade level. In the long history of Laihiala Pilot Academy, there are very few such independent students. Eru's answer was very simple and to the point.
"Because I'm interested."
"Interest...? Even though it’s school work? Hmm... I see, you are a bit special."
Because there was another class, the two chatted as they walked. Eru's actions were unpredictable. Stefania was surprised sometimes, patted his head sometimes, and was always smiling and in a great mood.
As class had just ended, there were a lot of commuting students in the corridor, but they were shocked at the sight of the blonde girl and silver haired boy, giving way to them. Thanks to this, their journey proceeded smoothly, reaching the freshmen campus of primary school in no time. Stefania was in the 3rd year of primary school and needed to go to another campus. As she was leaving Eru reluctantly...
"Ah, Eru... found!"
Someone ran over at a high speed, it was Adeltrud who had seen Eru by coincidence. The petite Eru is easily hidden in a crowd, but with everyone avoiding him, he was easily discovered. Adeltrud looked gleeful when she was coming over, but stopped when she saw her sister beside Eru.
"Ah, Onee... Onee-sama"
Ady alternated her eyes between the two, and seemed to be quizzing Eru about what was going on. Eru didn't give a direct answer and smiled awkwardly. Stefania smiled gently as she approached Ady. From their previous encounter, Ady seemed to be bad at dealing with her sister from a different mother, but Stefania didn't seem to be bothered.
"Don't be so guarded, I won't bully you."
Seeing Ady acting so hesitantly despite answering obediently, the two of them smiled bitterly.
"But why is Eru together with Onee-sama?"
"Ara, it's simple... because I like smart, and cute kids!"
Stefania placed her hands on her hips and declared confidently. What a forceful way of putting it. Ady looked like she was frozen on the spot, convinced by Stefania. As expected of sisters, Eru thought.
"I've had my eyes on him since the last time we met, and he is the centre of some 'topics'. We chatted just now, and I discovered that this child is both smart and cute!"
Stefania became more excited as she spoke, finally giving in and hugging Eru.
"Nah, Eru wants to be a Knight, right? How about this? Want to protect onee-chan as my Knight? I will welcome you with three meals a day and sleeping together on the same bed."
"Wait... wait, no! Eru is my soft toy!"
What is it with this family, scary. And Miss Ady, what do you mean by soft toy?
The stiff Ady who was rooted on the spot because of the impact of the confession was now yelling, snatching Eru back. She might have been too tense, but even her tone had reverted back to normal. Stefania was smiling coldly. Because she was beautiful, this made her even scarier. Eru saw her close her hands as she said quietly. "Ara, so that's how it is~". Eru decided to pretend that he didn't see anything.
"Ady, your tone is back to normal."
Ady covered her mouth, her face seemed to be saying 'this is bad'. Stefania shook her head immediately. "It's okay. You don't need to try so hard at school. I am not like Baltsar who is petty about such things."
"Since Onee-sama... says that..."
"Before that, Ady? Can you let go?"
"Eh? Ah, sorry. You are just the right size, so I hugged you without thinking..."
Eru broke free from Ady, while Stefania looked at her longingly.
"Yeah... Eru's height is just nice for a hug..."
"That's right, Onee-sama, and his hair so soft and smooth..."
"Adeltrud... as expected of my sister!"
Eru put some distance between the perverted sisters who were holding hands. There were many things he wanted to retort, but Stefania seemed so happy. Maybe she was just joking, with Eru as an excuse to become closer to her sister. He decided to think of it that way, and hoped that it was true.
The sisters ignored Eru who was averting his gaze, and talked about how much they love cute things. Their discussion was so passionate that you could see a pink aura around them. Eru felt like escaping reality, thinking 'just do what you girls want', and he suddenly remembered something important.
"Ah, the next lesson is starting."
The bell signalling the start of the class rang, as if on cue. The three of them rushed to their classrooms in a panic, but unfortunately, they arrived late and were lectured by their teachers.
"Oh, isn't that Archid? It's been a while." Just as Eru and the others were talking noisily, Chid and another person met by coincidence at another place. This was the number one person that Chid didn't want to meet... Chid and Ady's half-brother... Baltsar Serrati, someone who had always picked on them.
Baltsar had normal features on a decent face, but his scowling smile was a minus. Chid frowned reflexively when he saw the irritating face of his brother, but managed to keep his composure thanks to his training since he was young.
"Long time no see... Baltsar Onii-sama."
"I heard the rumours, although the contents are idiotic... I heard that there is an amazing freshman this year, eh?"
Baltsar said suddenly. He was probably trying to find a fault, since he usually ignores what Chid says. Even though Chid hated that attitude, he didn't complain. Baltsar was taller than Chid, and seemed happy about something, as he looked down on him and continued:
"After asking, didn't that freshmen have some familiar companions."
"Really? I never heard anything about that..."
It's finally here, Chid braced himself. Baltsar was more imposing than usual, there was no way the conversation would become cheerful.
"Hey, is that the attitude you should show your brother? Are you a brat that didn't learn manners?"
"Forget it. I am generous and will forgive a brat without manners like you."
Baltsar squinted his eyes and deepened his smile, a creepy smile like a predator hunting its prey. Chid worked hard at hiding his wariness.
The actual topic is coming, how can I get away from this...?
"I heard you guys weaseled into the advanced class. That trash of a class has grown so much, but, even so, I will praise you honestly. Eh, although you are a bastard, we are still family after all. It would be shameful if you couldn’t do this much... That's right, I said ‘do this much'. Freshmen brats shouldn't know much of anything, right? But I heard a rumour that concerned me. How boring, if it was true..."
Baltsar squinted his eyes further, Chid felt a sense of uneasiness down his spine.
"I heard you guys made quite a scene? Hey, that's not true, is it?"
Baltsar's smile vanished without warning as he drew closer menacingly; speaking in a low voice, so no one else could hear them:
"Don't you think you are acting out of line for a mere child of a mistress? Huh? A bastard? The rumours are probably not true, and I don't know what trickery you used, but wouldn't it mislead everyone."
"No, they did not misunderstand. Onii-sama, we..."
"Enough, shut up."
The smile on Baltsar's mouth had turned into a frown. Seeing Baltsar getting emotional, Chid was tense and ready for anything. But unexpectedly, Baltsar said without emotion:
"Archid, what are you scheming?"
"Casting intermediate spells easily just after enrolment, and planning to become a noble Knight? Is that the extent of your ambition? Are you planning to bring that title to 'my house' as a welcoming gift?"
Baltsar asked with his poker face.
"Nope, I told you before. We don't want to pester, the main family. My ambition to be a Knight, is for my mother and our future livelihood."
"...Alright, as a gentle elder, I will believe my foolish brother."
"I am very... grateful."
Baltsar resumed his cold smile, patted Chid on the shoulder, and left. Chid who was left alone sighed deeply.
He didn't plan to do anything to me here, but he won't let us off so easily. If he is just picking on me, I can endure it. I hope he doesn't cause any stupid commotions.
But the looming sense of unease lingered within Chid, contrary to what he thought.
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