The Distant Trail of Ciara Badvia - 1-7-5 Negotiation: Alceste and Raknag
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The Saria Magic Academy
Part 7: Professor Raknag’s Make-up Classes
NEGOTIATION: ALCESTE AND RAKNAG
“And you are the one approaching me with this, why…?”
Professor Raknag heaved a rare sigh. At first glance, he was the type to often scold people for their incompetence and ask harsh questions. He was not, however, someone who would easily get exasperated toward anyone. He also respected someone’s opinion as long as it was clearly stated, whatever his perspective of it was. (1)
Tyril’s words brought about an unusual expression on Raknag’s face, but she pressed on. “Um, a deal is a deal, so…”
“From your tone, I can tell you’re aware of the nonsense that is.”
“Yes, well…” Tyril began weakly, but she resolved to tell Raknag the truth. After all, she did try to refuse Alceste, but the decision wasn’t up to her in the end. (2) Still, Tyril knew that Raknag would still be dismayed by it.
“She’s a difficult girl,” she said, frustrated. “To be honest, I should’ve just refused her outright and told her to come herself.”
“Perhaps you should…” Another deep sigh. Tyril was crushed, but then Raknag continued. “But that will not be enough, I think. Alceste and her friends will likely look for an opportunity to make things difficult for you. I shall tell them myself.”
“R-Really?” Tyril blurted out louder than intended.
I don’t believe it! She never thought Raknag would do that, though she refrained from voicing it out. It wasn’t like they were close enough for her to openly say that.
“That would make things easier. Wait until the next practical session… No, that won’t be for some time. I’ll seek them out during tomorrow’s lunch break, then.”
“T-Thank you! That’d be really helpful!”
Tyril bowed deeply. She couldn’t have been more relieved to have Raknag come with her. This unexpected turn of events made her break into an uncontrollable smile.
During lunch break the next day, Raknag accompanied Tyril to find Alceste and the others.
The professor was well aware of the students’ schedules. By confirming which class the trio was taking beforehand, it was easy to pinpoint their location and call them away from their lecture to an appropriately small classroom. Lute pouted, having wanted to go to the cafeteria, but Alceste gently chastised her for her behavior.
“I’ve heard that you all would like to take my make-up classes.”
“Yes, that’s correct. Professor, I’ve heard that you are regarded as an expert on the fundamentals of magic. One of the best. While we already are attending two practicals per week, we’re still hoping to get further instruction from you.”
Alceste’s tone was polite, almost uncomfortably so. Affirming her words behind her were Lute and Eint, grinning and smiling quietly.
“Hm… Then why leave your message with Zeeland? If you really do wish for this, then you could have come to me directly and tell me yourselves.”
“It’s my understanding that you rarely give individual make-up lessons, professor. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no student other than Zeeland here could claim to have received such close instruction from you. We thought she had to be special in this regard, and so we asked for her assistance. Isn’t that right?” Alceste added, turning to Tyril with a smile, seeking her agreement. No, more than that—she was forcing one out from her.
Raknag, brows furrowed, responded before Tyril could.
“It’s not that I refrain from conducting make-up lessons; rather, I only give it to students who need it. In general, a student who attends the two practical classes I teach each week should be sufficient, but in Zeeland’s case, I determined that there were certain aspects she lacked in her practical training due to being transferred midway through. I believe all of you handle the regular curriculum with no issues, so for what reason do you need make-up classes?”
“To deepen our understanding of magic, of course. As someone who’s not only a professor of the magic academy but also a renowned mage, we believe you can teach various magic beyond what is covered in class. We want to learn such things from you.”
“You exaggerate. I am nothing more than an instructor in basic magic. The point of my classes is to help students specializing in applied sorceries to understand the basics of magic, with the end goal of referring them to other professors in the department who are better suited to their skills once their foundation is solid. No student has ever asked to stay with me longer than that, and if one does, I would promptly show them the door.”
Raknag spoke calmly and with a steady gaze, without so much as blinking. As still as a statue without any other visible movement. This was his usual demeanor, both in the classroom and outside of it.
Tyril always ended up tongue-tied when he acted like that, whereas Alceste and the other two’s composure and smiles were unbroken. She couldn’t help admiring them, despite herself.
“How strange. To dismiss students seeking your guidance… I find it hard to believe you would make such a mistake. Professor, the academy appointed you not only as a researcher but also as an educator. You’re under the wrong mindset, I’d say.”
“The wrong mindset…?”
“Are you not? Your knowledge surpasses ours, surpasses individual students. You have a gift for magic, and it is your duty to share that gift with the students, so I don’t understand why you would refuse. My father, Alterv Alceste, taught me to offer tea and a book to any who would bow their heads to me when I become a full-fledged mage.”
Alceste adopted a demure appearance, hands neatly in her front and smiling. Tyril mulled over Alceste’s words.
Did Raknag understand what Alceste’s aims were? An unusual frown marred his face, showing a complex expression. Not once considering the possibility that he could be won over, Tyril started questioning which of them would prevail.
The commotion coming from outside the door felt so far away, like from a distant world, and Tyril suddenly felt unsure whether the other world lay within or beyond this room.
“I repeat,” Raknag said, “the practical lessons are densely packed with enough information and experience for you students, enough to serve as a foundation for becoming a competent mage. The make-up lessons are solely for students who haven’t yet reached that stage. If you’ve already grasped my lessons and still want to progress further, then start studying magic under other professors. Stop being foolish and persisting in ‘learning the basics more deeply.’
“You would not have said I was under the wrong mindset if you truly understood my words. Do you think I’m refusing your request for make-up lessons just to avoid the hassle?”
“We would never. If we had the slightest idea that you were that sort of professor, we wouldn’t be so insistent in the first place. Perhaps I’ve been too harsh—I apologize. Still, we’d prefer to have you teaching us practical magic, Professor Raknag, and not another professor.
“I hadn’t intended my choice of words, but when you said you were nothing more than an instructor of basic practical magic, it just slipped out. After all, considering the students who wish to study under you and the extent of your magical talents, it’s a wonder why you’re selling yourself short and pointing those students to other professors instead.”
For the first time, Raknag’s lips twisted.
(1) Unsure about translation.
(2) Unsure about translation. I mean, Tyril hardly refused from what I could tell. It could be referring to Raknag instead.