-Chapter 32, DGM-
The gatekeeper of the academy did not mince his words.
Fortunately, Link had already made preparations in advance. His mana capacity was 24.1, which was the standard of an ordinary magic apprentice. It would be more unusual than miraculous if he was allowed in.
Of course, he had 105 free points to blow. If he wished it, he could pump everything into mana capacity. In that case, even with the effect of ‘mana deficiency’ whisking away 90% of his attributes, he would have 129.1 mana capacity due to the scale of 1 free point to 10 mana points. This was equivalent to a level 2 magician’s standard, which would allow him to get admitted into the academy.
But squandering away his free points like this was foolish, as even if he had the power of a level 2 magician, he did not have knowledge on par with it. He would be known as an anomaly.
After entering the academy, the academy would arrange an educational program for level 2 magicians. However, he would not understand one whit of it and would simply look retarded.
Link’s attempt at entering the academy was merely a gamble. If he was rejected, he would return to the inn to strengthen his basics and self-study. He would not suffer any loss through this. He returned Al Wright’s comforting gaze with a faint smile to show that it was fine.
However, there was also room for profit. The previous game had not mentioned that eastern valley magic academy used paper as stepping stones.
In the game, as long as the player met the bar and handed over a sum of money, he would be an official student of the academy. Nothing else would be taken into consideration.
Al Wright asked in place of Link. “Then how would my friend demonstrate his insights in magic?”
Vincent chuckled, sizing up Al Wright. He glanced at the humble attire Al Wright wore. “Young man, I suggest you worry about yourself first. The studying fees for eastern valley magic academy are not low.”
Vincent had inspected a countless number of people before, and his gaze was very sharp. He estimated both the prices of their attires and compared them. Although the grey robes of the ordinary youngster beside him looked dull, it was meticulously handsewn with the skin of a gray rat. The price it could fetch was probably 10 times the price of the other handsome youngster’s attire.
If he was not wrong, the ordinary looking child was probably the son of some noble or aristocrat, while the handsome looking one was a commoner.
As for the studying fees, Al Wright had long prepared the necessary sum. When he decided to study magic, he had racked his brains for ideas to earn money. As he was bright, he had managed to scrape together 200 gold coins which he had heard was the academy’s studying fee.
“200 gold coins, was it? I’ve already prepared that amount.” Al Wright nodded.
To his astonishment, Vincent laughed, shaking his head. He held up two fingers. “Lad, you’ve heard wrongly. 200 gold coins is the privilege that only those with the background of nobles enjoy. The norm is 300 gold coins. However, the school has aready met the quota for accepting students this year. If you enter now, you will be considered an additional student, which will require additional arrangements and magic resources. These all require money. However, you are only a commoner without any privileges. The final amount probably totals to 2,000 gold coins.”
Al Wright stared blankly, his brows twisted. “Even so, how could the additional feed swell to 10 times the original?”
How many commoners could dole out 2,000 gold coins in this world? Only the merchants of big businesses in the southern freedom alliance could bear hefty studying fees like that.
Wasn’t this blatant preferential treatment of nobles?
However, Link knew that the magic academy wasn’t totally ripping off cash from the students. Because to magicians, material wealth were merely figures. To ordinary people, they were astronomical amounts of digits, but magicians squandered them on whatever magic resources they thought they needed.
For example, the crescent magic wand in Link’s hand was worth its weight in 1,000 gold coins. As for the fire crystal magic staff, it was even worse. An estimate would set it at above 3,000 gold coins.
This was also reflected in the previous game world, any magician chosen in the game could be embodied in one word: Money splurger! Just learning the necessary skills would be several folds more expensive than other occupations, let alone the various magic equipment.
From Vincent’s stand, 2,000 gold coins was not a figure he had simply cast out, but instead a number he had arrived at after slight calculations. The magic academies were not biased in their treatment towards commoners.
Evidently, Al Wright did not understand the magician world. Hot fury erupted in his heart.
On the other hand, Vincent was expressionless. Vincent spread his hands, reclining on the bench. His tone was lackadaisical, “I don’t know, I didn’t set the price. The dean did. I’m only in charge of telling you this.”
However, Al Wright was did not back down. He dug out a letter. “I have a recommendation from Earl Lady Alice.”
Vincent shot it a glance. The letter was sealed with a waxed seal. The crest of a rose flower blossomed on the seal. He recognised this seal. It was the crest of the only female earl in Norton kingdom’s family insignia.
Vincent looked at Al Wright’s handsome face closely, before bursting into laughter. “Oh, it looks like being handsome has its fair share of advantages. I can’t believe you managed to obtain an earl’s recommendation. The dean stated that applicants with a noble’s recommendation would have their studying fees reduced by 500 gold coins. The academic fees are 1,500 gold coins now.”
Link’s eyebrows shot up when he saw the letter. It looked like this chap knew how to adapt to situations. Many commoners could not earn 200 gold coins even if they slaved away for a lifetime, but this young man of 17 years had achieved it. Furthermore, he had obtained an earl’s recommendation, and the earl was female. If Al Wright did not sacrifice even one thing to stand where he was now, Link would not believe it.
However, the price of 1,500 gold coins was a price that Al Wright still could not bear.
He finally erupted, unable to keep his fury down. His handsome face was flushed with anger as he grated his teeth. “This is daylight robbery!”
Vincent shook his head, unconcerned with the scene Al Wright was making. He tranquilly admonished Al Wright. “Watch your tongue, young man. I have a good temper and I won’t find trouble with you. If you repeat these words to a magician with a bad personality, he’ll personally light your candles.”1
Al Wright was still furious, and he wanted to step forward and argue. Link frantically pulled him back.
They were just some nobodies currently, while eastern valley magic academy was Norton kingdom’s cradle for magicians and their dean was a level 7 magician. Making a scene here would leave a vile impression and had no use.
Al Wright was a commoner with insufficient cash. Although the system of the academy was somewhat unbalanced, these were indisputable facts and not something making a scene could solve.
When Link met a problem, he would rationally confront it before finding a solution to it.
It was because of this nature of his that he had became the number one magic god in the game. It was also because of this that the ruler of light sent him to this alternate world. Not only had he escaped from Glaston city alive, he had also wrestled it from the claws of defeat.
Now, it was the same.
Link was extremely clear on how the academy worked. If one wanted to alter the practices of eastern valley magic academy, dissatisfied hooting would be vain. What one really needed was strength, shocking strength that would raise eyebrows.
With Link’s pull, Al Wright was brought back to his senses. However, his eyes were red.
He had experienced the injustice of society before. If it were the past, he would definitely be able to restrain his temper. But he had poured all his efforts, blood and dreams into this day.
For this sum of 200 gold coins he had eaten countless grievances that ordinary people could not imagine.
He had taken on various kinds of missions. Because he lacked martial skill, he had taken on investigative missions instead. He had narrowly escaped from every single mission by the skin of his teeth. with the rewards from the missions, he had went into businesses, only to suffer the extortion of local ruffians and hoodlums. He had hoarded copper coin by copper coin ever since he was 10. Other than the invitation of his friends, he had only eaten 3 dry barley bread a day, forgoing meat and fish. With insufficient nutrients, he would go to the river in the middle of the night to catch fish to eat. He could only go in the middle of the night because he was too busy in the day. His clothes had been the same ones he had worn since 3 years ago. The old horse he had ridden on the king’s road was also not his. It was something his friends had pooled together to buy to give him as a departure present.
Now, he had heard that the magic academy was more demanding towards commoners, so he had thought of every possible method to obtain a recommendation.
For this, he had slept with that fat and ugly harlot for a month on a daily basis. He had endured that terrifying torture every night. He had abandoned his reputation, his pride.
He had invested everything, his entire life to achieve that dream of magic in his heart, so as to not squander away his gift in magic. He had invested everything to excel.2
But when he had handed out the recommendation letter and had hoarded enough money, with his heart brimming with hope – reality had hit him harder than a baseball bat in the stomach.
The doorstep of the academy had been raised to a plateau he was unable to reach. And his efforts had gone down the gutter, along with all his investments.
Hoard money once again?
Pooling together 1,500 gold coins would only be achieved after he was 20. If his luck was terrible, he could die in the midst of completing missions. Furthermore, these years were the prime years for studying magic. How could they be squandered so easily?
Anger. Sadness. Desperation. The young Al Wright could see his life’s objective right before his eyes, but it was blocked by a moat, a layer he was incapable of passing. Unconsciously, his vision had begun to blur.
‘Is a commoner pursuing his dreams really that harsh?’ Al Wright clenched his fist tightly, looking towards the sky as he restrained his tears.
He would not allow this guard dog to mock him.
Vincent saw everything. He smiled and shook his head, sarcastically remarking, “Young man, I’ll point you an obvious road you can take. You can return and find Earl Alice again, and serve her well. Maybe she’ll dish out the cash for you then. Hehe.”
Al Wright trembled in indignation. This was the one blotch of disgrace in his history. Vincent’s words had cut like a knife, cruelly opening the old scars in his heart.
His face flushed, his heart palpitating. His fist clenched as a thought formed in his mind. That was to rush forward and beat up this old man.3
Just as his limit broke, a grip came down on his shoulder. He struggled madly, but the grip was like iron. “Let go of me!”
Link’s voice came into his ears. “Al Wright, don’t destroy yourself!”
The voice was freezing cold, like a bucket of icy water had been poured over Al Wright’s head. His struggle immediately died down.
He turned to look towards the youth of similar age quietly watching him and lightly shaking his head. His black pupils were as dark as midnight, and his features were ordinary. However, his gaze seemed to carry a power that could quieten people down immediately. It seemed as if nothing in this world had ever emotionally moved him.
As calm as unmoving waters, yet as chilly as a cold blade.
This moment, this scene, had been deeply engraved into Al Wright’s heart.
Many years later, every time he was irate, indecisive or in despair, this moment would would emerge. It would tell him how a magician faced the cruel, merciless world.
-Chapter 32, end-
TLer’s Note: Al Wright prostituting himself to get the cash was very sad because i once read a manga about the interactions of an inmate on death row and a suicidal pianist. The inmate’s backstory was really similar, and the entire manga was really, well, sad. Might wanna check it out: Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan
It’s only 8 chapters but its heartrending. Right, enough of that. I was down in the dumps for the entire day because i just read a sad webtoon
Next chapter is really short, and yes, although it’s a spoiler as some of you may point out once again, I’ll give a hint of the next chap: something to do with gravity and newton.
edit: i had honestly hoped to give ya’ll a personal edit on this chapter because i wanted this chapter to somewhat emotionally impact readers even a bit but looks like i couldn’t make it. soz, maybe another time or smth. Chapters 27-32 are still unedited :/