Chapter 172: The one-armed lecturer, part 2


Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama


I made a courtesy call to guild headquarters when I arrived at the capital, then headed for my designated lodging. There was still a bit of time before the lecture started, so I decided to relax a little.

『If only I could’ve come in person』, said Lyla’s ‘Shadow’.

「The people here aren’t used to seeing you around, and it’s way easier to send a ‘Shadow’ instead of finding a way to suppress your magicka.」

『You’re right, but…』

「The sooner you get your collar back, the better.」

She was always looking forward to eating and drinking at the capital, and had been disappointed when told that she couldn’t follow this time.

『Dee checked on Warwick’s progress a while ago. He’s still not done yet.』

A one-of-a-kind item like that must be relatively difficult to fix.

「He would be done by now if not for that cat transformation feature.」

『I-I like the design as well, not just the functionality.』

Only she knew whether she was telling the truth or not. From my point of view, she seemed inclined towards wearing such accessories.

『Hardworking as always』, she commented when I went over the lecture notes again.

「I accepted the task, so no point doing a shoddy job now.」

『That attitude is why so many people have come to rely on you』, she chuckled.

Heading for the same lecture hall where the symposium had been held, I left earlier to ensure that I would be on time.

I instead arrived too early and not a single soul was present.

「…」

『Something wrong?』

「Not at all.」

The ‘Shadow’ at my feet looked up at me.

『Something’s clearly wrong. You’re constantly fidgeting around, like there’s monsters in your trousers…』

「Am I?」

『Could you… be nervous?』

「No reason to be」, I replied, skimming through the notes again.

『Your book is upside down.』

「…」

I honestly hadn’t realised.

「I can’t seem to keep my back straight.」

『That’s because you’re nervous.』

「And there’s this weird upheaval in my stomach.」

『Ditto.』

「I feel calmer killing someone than giving a speech in public.」

『Kufufu. That’s a serial killer for you.』

「It’s strange. Even when I went against you and Aimée…」

『You can put on an air of indifference when doing something you’re not used to, but chances are the pressure is still there.』

The Demon King chuckled again.

『Even you have such weaknesses.』

「It’s not a weakness.」

『Stop pretending otherwise. Didn’t you also explain something in this lecture hall back then, though?』

「I was just expressing my opinion about the lecturer’s magic circle. Delivering content to the audience, not so much.」

『If you feel calmer in battle, then a ‘Normal’ life is still a long way away.』

「I don’t want to hear that from someone like you.」

At that moment, the door opened and a female employee entered.

「Oh, it’s you –」

We made eye contact. She approached me while I wondered whether we had met before. When she noticed my armless sleeve, I explained that it was an injury I had received at work and realised just how troublesome it would be to tell the same story over and over again.

「You were at the symposium, weren’t you?」, she asked.

「I was.」

「Ah, I was there too! And here I am again. You were only a newbie back then… but look at where you are now!」

I could hear Lyla’s ‘Shadow’ snorting at my feet.

「It’s nothing much, really.」

「Oh, you can’t say that! The lecturers this time are all renowned mages or distinguished employees working at headquarters!」

And I’m part of that bunch, huh.

「Your explanation back then was really clear-cut. I learned a lot!」

「Glad to hear that」, I replied with a smile.

Returning my smile, she lowered her head slightly and sat down at the front row.

『A diplomatic smile.』

「Did you say something?」

Nothing, said Lyla, sitting under the rostrum.

『You’re a bad one, hitting on her like that.』

「Never had the intention to.」

『The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I can’t leave you alone for even a moment today.』

「Do as you like.」

The lecture hall began filling up with people after that.

「Ayo, if it isn’t Roland-kun!」, greeted a male employee.

I remembered him from my tenure at the capital’s southern branch. Coming over for a handshake, the smiling man seemed to have heard of the ‘incident’ and said nothing of my missing arm.

「It’s been a while.」

「I knew you were gonna make a name for yourself, and you didn’t disappoint!」

「It just happened that I was unable to decline the invitation.」

「‘It just happened’…? An opportunity like this isn’t normal, you know?」

It’s not…!?

「In a good way」, he added hurriedly when he saw my expression. 「I meant that in a good way.」

In a good way… does that make it okay? I had no idea whether I should be happy about it.

「I’m looking forward to your lecture」, he said before finding a seat. 「With someone like you speaking, I know it’s gonna be good.」

When it was time to start, I greeted the attendees and went straight into the content. The nervousness I had been feeling disappeared the moment I began. Ta’uro had asked me to lecture on the criteria I used and considerations I took when testing hopeful adventurers. Most of my audience was taking notes with a pen in hand.

「While the passing mark for the magical assessment is a thousand points, it is but a benchmark at the end of the day. Even if the examinee fails to meet it by a large margin, I will still pass them if one of their strengths can compensate for it.」

The audience began talking among themselves.

「Eh. But won’t adventurers who fail to meet the magical requirement be more or less useless?」

「The minimum value is there because those who don’t meet it can’t use their skills effectively, no?」

「That’s what I heard too.」

I continued in spite of their reaction and threw a question to the floor.

「Who do you think came up with that benchmark?」

The attendees promptly quietened down.

「Again, it’s not a hard and fast rule. I agree that skill usage depletes magicka little by little, but that depends on the user too.」

I related how I had passed Rabi with only two hundred and thirty points.

「Although she fell completely short of the mark, her skill was of a direct-conversion defensive type. Since all of you are employees, you should be able to see the importance of such a feature.」

Only a handful of listeners were lost, while the others were able to follow my train of thought.

「It’s a prime example of why you can’t judge examinees by their magicka alone. You have to consider their personalities, their potential and their unique points before deciding whether to pass them or not.」

I threw in a few more examples of adventurers that I had passed and how they were faring at present.

「To hell with your nuanced decisions」, snarled an employee seated right at the back.

His voice rang out through the quiet room.

「Potential? Please. What matters is whether they can defeat me」, he continued. 「That’s my benchmark, and if they don’t like it, they can fuck off somewhere else.」

「That is correct. The examiner can use his own metrics to decide whether they pass or fail.」

He nodded with self-satisfaction.

But I wasn’t done yet.

「Some methods, however, carry a greater likelihood of having examinees that fall through the cracks. That is why — with no offense intended — I am conducting a lecture like this.」

「If they aren’t strong enough, they’ll just get themselves killed!」, he retorted.

「Nobody is strong from the get-go. Strength is obtained through striving to improve oneself day by day.」

「An examiner can’t believe in flowery bullshit like that! You came up with that crackpot theory because of your missing arm, didn’t you?」

「That is correct. Losing that arm has weakened me considerably.」

As I tried to appease him, I felt an enormous surge of magicka at my feet.

『That guy… I’ll show him!』

「Relax, muscle head.」

I poked the ‘Shadow’ with a finger.

「D-Did you feel that…!?」

「Yeah, it came from the lecturer…」

Sensing Lyla’s magicka, the audience had gone pale with their eyes fixed on me.

「I may be weak –」

「So don’t go around pretending to be some bigshot!」

I activated my skill.

Within a fraction of a second, I had darted behind him and placed my thumb on his throat.

「!?」

「– but I can still pierce your voice box right here and now.」

Hearing my voice, the people around him leapt away from me.

「Eh? How d-did you…」

「If you wish to voice your opinion, please raise your hand before doing so.」

I sensed that he was trembling, with sweat dripping from every pore.

「I… I’m sorry… please let me go…」

Fear written all over his face, he turned towards me gingerly when I released my grip.

「Please raise your hand if you want to say something」, I reiterated. 「I mentioned this right at the start… do I have your cooperation?」

「…Yee…」

「Thank you for your understanding.」

I turned to the others.

「I apologise for the sudden interruption. Let us continue.」



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