Chapter 2: Rowan Military Academy (2)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Mahoro walked the long cobblestone path dragging his suitcase along, and up ahead he saw another young man dragging a suitcase along in the same fashion. He was a new cadet who had arrived at Crimson Island on the same ship. Many of the cadets at the Academy came from noble backgrounds, but once they landed on the island, all cadets were treated the same, regardless if they were noble or not. Those accustomed to travel by carriage, here they had no choice but to walk and carry their own luggage.
It was the last day of August, but the heat of the sun was fierce and drew perspiration. Tomorrow was September 1st, the day when lectures would begin, and everyone seemed to have arrived today on the eve.
Nevertheless, the security here was strict, as Mahoro kept an eye on his surroundings.
Rowan Military Academy was situated in the middle of the ocean, 110 kilometres1 west off the coast of the mainland, on Crimson Island. There were vast forests and lakes on the island, but there were also training grounds for firearm combat exercises and the like. Crimson Island was shrouded in mystery, and information like its land area and elevation were not available to the public. According to one story he heard, there was a tribe called the Forest People who lived on the eastern side of the island. There was essentially no information on the Forest People, and Mahoro wondered if they were indigenous to the island. When he researched the Academy, there were people that laughed that it was a fortress, that it was full of secrets, but after boarding the ship, he saw the soldiers checking all the passengers aboard and he finally understood.
The kingdom imposed strict regulation of information and speech related to Rowan Military Academy. The citizens knew that it was a prestigious school that taught magic, but no one knew the particulars of what they studied or learned there.
The first three years at the Academy were spent on theory and practice of magic, and the final year was dedicated to what was called active field training, which placed cadets into military units. Mahoro only learned these details after he was accepted into the Academy. He heard that withdrawal from the Academy would place the individual under heavy surveillance by the military, for whom they deemed to be dangerous persons—which was why Siegfried’s disappearance had so alarmed the military. Military officers had visited the Baldwin estate repeatedly, demanding to know if they were, in fact, harbouring Siegfried, despite the detail that it was his family who wished to know his whereabouts the most.
I shall spend the next four years here…
After about a 15-minute walk up a gentle uphill slope, a large brickwork building started to come into view. It was the main Academy building. Ivy covered the bricks of the old-fashioned hall; it had wings on either end in a U-shape and a large clock tower installed at the very centre of the building. As he ascended the hill, Mahoro could see several more buildings to the right.
There was an information board placed on the grounds in front of the Main Building. Facing it to the right was the Chapel and the Auditorium, which connected to the Main Building via a passage. Behind them were the Accommodation Blocks. Facing the board to the left was the Library, and behind them were the instructor accommodations.
A trail of young cadets dragging their suitcases headed towards the Accommodation Blocks.
When Mahoro turned around on the grounds, he could see a long horizontal three-storey building made from stone. That was probably the Accommodation Blocks, where he would stay for the next few years. There were several staff members standing outside the front entrance of the Main Building. The cadets formed a queue and showed them their admission permits.
“You’re in Block D Room 203. Mind that you check the door plate.”
It was Mahoro’s turn, and a plump middle-aged woman with glasses handed him a pamphlet. Information and maps of the Academy buildings and campus were printed inside. Apparently other than Academy-related facilities such as the accommodation blocks, school buildings, and library; all other facilities were not permitted entry unless authorised. There were also instructions that warned against entering the training grounds without prior notice as there was the possibility that firearm combat exercises using live bullets could be in session. There was no mention of the Forest People on the other side of the island, as if they did not exist at all.
Mahoro earnestly studied the maps, trying to memorise where everything was located, but today was a hot day, and he was unable to focus. Mahoro was weak to the heat, and if he stood out under the sun for over an hour, he would immediately collapse.
Nghh… It’s so hot that my mind refuses to work…
As he checked the maps, wiping away his sweat, someone from behind tapped him on the shoulder.
“You’re in 203, right? I’m in the same room. I’m Zach Cogan, nice to meet you.”
Mahoro turned to see a young man of small stature with freckles and short, shaggy hair. If he was assigned the same room, that would make him his room-mate. Zach gave a bright smile on his tanned face, holding out his hand, and Mahoro nervously shook it.
“I’m Mahoro Baldwin. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“No need to be so stiff~ You can be more relaxed when you’re talking. So you’re a noble from the House of Baldwin? I was worried about my room-mate, but I’m glad it’s you~ ’Cause I’m small, you see? A massive muscley bloke would be too depressing. Lucky me there’s someone smaller than me here!”
Mahoro smiled wryly at Zach who was overjoyed with smiles.
“That’s true… This place is like a titan’s empire… And I’m not someone you would really call a noble. I would say that I’m at the outer edge of the Baldwin family… It’s almost embarrassing to say my name,” he said quietly.
The male figures all around them had strong, solid physiques, and Mahoro felt out of place among them. Mahoro was quite small for an eighteen-year-old, and he had no physical strength. Even when he lived at the Baldwin estate, others would mock him for being dim-witted and diminutive.
“Really? Well, that makes it easier for me~ You look like you’re always in a daze, Mahoro. Oh, but I prefer it that way. It’s much better than sharing a room with someone scary. Oh, right, Mahoro is kind of a strange name. Your hair is blond, but your eyes are black. Do you dye your hair? Oh, and you’re really pale~ Like eye-catchingly pale~”
Mahoro blushed and nodded at Zach’s question. He regularly dyed his hair, otherwise his hair would be pure white and attract attention. His natural hair colour was pure white, his skin was pale white, and even his eyelashes were white. His entire body contained very little pigment. Mahoro was eighteen years old, but he looked younger than his age, and he bore somewhat of a complex about it.
“I’m unable to tan in the sun. If I stay out too long under it, I’ll end up fainting. You’re really lucky, Zach,” Mahoro said to his deeply tanned room-mate, and in return Zach grieved that his wristwatch had left a pale spot when he had gone to the beach. Zach had a cheerful personality, and Mahoro thought that they would likely get on. He was lucky that his room-mate turned out to be very easy to talk to.
Mahoro asked, “Since you’re here, are you related to one of the Five Noble Houses too? But I’m not very informed about these things.”
“I’m a full-fledged commoner, but I received a notice that ordered me to apply to this academy. Somehow I’m distantly related to the House of Ainsworth,” Zach said, beaming with pride. The House of Ainsworth was the line that controlled water magic.
Zach continued, “This place is brilliant. I never thought that I would be accepted here. I was so excited last night that I couldn’t sleep.” He gazed up at the Main Building.
Suddenly, the loud sound of a bell rang out.
Mahoro covered his ears in surprise. The bell of the clock tower signalled that it was 12 o’clock. The sound was loud enough that the whole island could probably hear it.
“Let’s go in,” Zach said, taking off into a trot.
The Accommodation Blocks where Mahoro was staying, from the outside was a stone three-storey building that resembled a stylish hotel. The long horizontal building that he saw from the front was, in fact, constructed in an open-square with flowers that filled the courtyard. There were four blocks from A to D, with one entrance between Blocks A and B which were closest to the Main Building, and one entrance between Blocks C and D which were next to a lake. They passed under the arched entryway with a perch on the side and an owl resting on it. The owl stared at Mahoro and Zach.
“So cute~ Oh, whoa, whoa!!”
Zach tried to touch the owl, and it viciously pecked at his finger. He narrowly missed injuring himself. Apparently the owl was hostile.
They entered the Accommodation Blocks to find a reception, a large hall, and a spiral staircase that connected to the upper floors. According to the pamphlet, on the ground floor of the Accommodation Blocks were the mess hall, lounges, bathing facilities, and recreation rooms. First- and second-year cadets stayed on the first floor, and third- and fourth-year cadets stayed on the second floor.
“Have you heard about the Platinum rooms?” Zach whispered into Mahoro’s ear, waiting for the staff to process their check-in procedures.
“The top three cadets with the best overall marks out of the third and fourth years get special rooms. The rumour’s that they’re individual rooms with their own private bathrooms. Platinum room cadets also get other special privileges, like no curfew.”
Zach knew a lot more about the Academy than Mahoro did. They had a curfew of 7 pm, and if they failed to return to the Blocks in time, they would be punished. Plus, they could only use the shared lavatories and baths, and there were designated times when they could use them.
“You know a lot about this place,” Mahoro said with full admiration.
“I became friends with the captain of the ship, and he told me a lot about the Academy.”
Apparently Zach had leveraged his natural social skills and had already collected a wealth of information. Mahoro gazed at Zach with respect in his eyes. He was eager to search for any information regarding Siegfried, but he didn’t know what to do or where to start. Would he be able to accomplish his goal if he were to follow Zach’s example and take similar actions?
After their check-in procedures were complete, they headed to Block D. It was the furthest block from the Main Building. The blocks were all constructed in the same manner, so they passed the large halls, climbed the spiral staircase, and searched for Room 203. Mahoro’s and Zach’s names were printed on the door plate.
“Today’s the start of our new life as cadets!” Zach shouted, throwing the door open. It caused Mahoro to smile as he pulled himself together and stepped into the room.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.