"On what grounds?!" Geoffrey stood up emotionally.
"On the grounds that the students of that academy won't be as talented," Leguna spat with a roll of his eyes, "Since there are two academies, why can't we have one provide the funding and the other provide the talent? It's a self sufficient system, right?"
Annelotte looked at Leguna weirdly. She didn't think he would come up with something so blatantly shameless as to demand others to pay for the expenses completely. At the very least, such a thought wouldn't even occur to her. Leguna even tried to call it 'self-sufficient'!
Though she lost much of her memories, she still remembered that the two academies were supposed to compete, yet Leguna actually asked the competition to fund the academy. How could anyone even think this up without having thick enough skin?
"That won't do!" Geoffrey said and flailed his hands madly, "If one academy charges a lot and the other has subsidies, only a fool would sign up for the expensive one!"
"That might not be the case," Leguna said with a shrug and a vile smile of a merchant, "Your Highness just doesn't understand the mindset of the rich! They don't care whether something is actually good or not, just that it's expensive. As long as it can be used to boost their repute among their circles, they would be more than willing to take the bait. Money isn't a concern as long as it helps their status!"
"Hmph! How do I know whether you're right or not?" Geoffrey wouldn't be easily moved.
"Then think about this from another angle," Leguna said with a roll of his eyes, "As Annie mentioned, the commoner academy will have its own barriers for entry. Nobody unqualified will be allowed to enroll, regardless of their family background. So, what should a noble who wants the title of a magi do? That's where the noble academy comes into play!"
This fellow really has the qualities of a sneaky merchant, Annelotte thought at the sight of his smug look.
"Even if the noble academy can amass enough money, why should one academy cover all the costs?"
While Geoffrey secretly cursed Leguna for being daft, he had to admit that he was an adept scammer. Even he had to admit that what Leguna said made sense.
"That's because the empire needs two things," Leguna replied with a confident smile, "Money and magi. Since His Imperial Majesty spent so much capital building two academies, we have to provide what is required. This is something that won't harm the empire in any way. Or, does Your Highness have any personal reason to stop more magi from being cultivated in the empire?"
Geoffrey grit his teeth tight. Leguna's last sentence had pushed him into a corner.
It wasn't that he didn't want to produce magi for the empire. He just didn't want Annelotte to be the one to do it. Even though Larwin didn't state it outright, he had intended for the two academies to be competitors. Yet, Leguna was now trying to take all the high achievers for Annelotte's academy and he would have to split half of the hard-earned funds he got. How would that fly?
"Alright," Myr said after a yawn, "I think Leguna makes sense. We'll settle on that then!"
"Grandmaster Myr!" Geoffrey cried a little anxiously.
"Your Highness, relax. I haven't finished," Myr said with his hand held out, "It's a little unfair to have the noble academy cover all the funding, after all."
"So what would be a good compromise then?" Leguna asked with a casual shrug.
He knew Myr wouldn't do anything to harm Annelotte.
"First, due to budget constraints, one academy was constructed smaller than the other. Since His Highness intends to have one academy exclusively for nobles, the larger academy should be used for that purpose."
"I have no qualms with that," Annelotte agreed.
Both academies were built with sufficient facilities and the size wouldn't be a problem. The commoner students who truly wanted to learn magic would surely not mind smaller living space.
"Additionally, half of the fruits of the commoner academy's research has to be unconditionally shared to the noble academy."
"Half?" Leguna said with a start.
If the number was that high, wouldn't it be a rather bad deal?
"I wonder who decides which research would be shared?" Annelotte asked.
"Hmm…" Myr looked and Annelotte, then back at Geoffrey, and felt that if he didn't make up his mind here, one or the other would lose out. "Let it be me, then."
Geoffrey grit his teeth and chose not to object. He wouldn't agree to it if Annelotte was the one to make the decision. Geoffrey was a magus and he understood the importance of the quality of research. For instance, the restoration of magic cannons achieved by Annelotte was enough to be the magnum opus of any alchemist.
There were also some research results that were completely worthless. If Annelotte tossed only the bad ones to him, what use would he have for them? Even though he knew that Myr was slightly biased against Annelotte, letting him decide on which research to be shared was something Geoffrey could agree with. He wasn't expecting to be the one to decide either, since Annelotte was sure to be against it.
Seeing that Annelotte didn't object, Leguna took it as a yes.
"Third," Myr said, "I'm sure we all understand that the financial aid for the commoner academy is only temporary. So, when it has the ability to be self-sufficient, I hope that the commoner academy will repay what they owe to the noble academy. Let's set the term to be ten years, shall we? This amount of time should be enough for some talented young people to grow into respectable magi, yes? As for how they will repay the academy, I'll need you to figure it out, Annie."
Ten years was a long time and it wasn't even certain whether she'd still hold the position of principal. She couldn't be bothered to think that far ahead. It would be a waste not to use free money others offered now.
"Those are the three conditions. I wonder if the two of you have anything to say about it?"
"Just a little," Geoffrey added, "I hope the money owed can be repaid in units of mana-storing crystals. Ten years is truly too long and the sum of money owed might inflate up to thirty percent."
Unlike Annelotte, Geoffrey wanted to hold on to his position as principal for good. He wanted to use the institution as leverage to fight his younger brother for the throne, after all. That was the reason he wanted to recruit as many noble students as possible in the first place in hopes of bettering his connections. While ten years seemed to be a long time, given the state of Larwin's health, it would be difficult for him to remain on the throne for long. Geoffrey wouldn't give up on the slightest opportunity to gain an edge for himself, even if it meant he would recoup his investments ten years from now.
"No problem," Annelotte said.
Seeing that both of them came to an agreement, Myr breathed a sigh of relief. If not for her father, Myr would love to spoil Annelotte as much as he could. But while he could afford to reprimand the first prince from time to time, he couldn't obviously give him the short end of the stick.
So, he shot Leguna a thankful glance for coming up with a solution. "Alright, it's settled. Your Highness, I'll leave the academy at the west of Melindor in your charge. Annie shall take over the smaller one in the east."
"To differentiate them, I believe we have to consider the naming of each academy properly," Geoffrey suggested.
His intent was clear: one academy had to sound more prestigious than the other.
Myr shot Annelotte a glance. "Alright. Geoffrey, your academy shall be called First Hockian Magic Academy, and Annie's will be Second Hockian Magic Academy. Is that acceptable?"
Geoffrey didn't try to hide it. If he did, Leguna might just find another way to screw him over shamelessly again.
"Good, we'll conclude the discussion here. You two can head back first. There must be much on your plate, since the academies are going to start semester in another two to three months."
"I'll be taking my leave."
Having gotten what he wanted, Geoffrey no longer dallied.
Annelotte, on the other hand, stood at the entrance for a moment. Though she wanted to go right away, she decided it would be better to wait for him since he had helped her out today.
"Annie, come in."
Leguna waved at her happily and thought that since she was waiting for him, she was slowly trying to accept him again. How could he not be happy?
"Alright, kid, just ask whatever you need to! I still have an alchemy experiment to conduct later!" Myr said as he jumped on the chair and took a sip of tea.
"I've come to ask about someone…"
Leguna put on a solemn look when it came to serious business.
"Oh? I didn't think the bureau head of all people would want to ask me about someone. Let's hear it!"
Even though Myr looked rather nonchalant, he felt a sense of foreboding. He took another sip of tea and felt his tea cup shake with his hand.
He looked intently at Myr and said that name.
"Willis, Willis Rolin."Previous Chapter Next Chapter