Annelotte stepped onto the podium. Even though the students of both academies numbered fewer than 600, there were quite a number of other civilians watching the ceremony. Even if they weren't interested in magic in itself, quite a number of men would pay attention to Annelotte's beauty. For the women, however, Geoffrey was their shining and heroic prince.
As a result, quite a number of people were gathered nearby. The surroundings of the academy were completely packed and there were tens of thousands of people present. They almost looked like an indiscernible swarm of ants.
It was all too easy for someone to get nervous from the spectacle alone. At the very least, even Leguna would feel his legs shake if he had to give a speech to so many people. Stage fright affected people no matter what their level of cultivation was.
Surprisingly, Annelotte managed to keep her calm. She really saw the people as nothing but insignificant ants.
She ignored the magic sound broadcasting device and spoke directly. "Ladies in gentlemen, welcome to the opening ceremony of the Hocke magic academies. I'm the principal of Second Magic Academy, Annelotte Ladis."
Perhaps she was trying to show off by not using the broadcasting device. Instead, she used her mana and accurate control of it to send her voice into the ears of each and every person. Unlike the broadcasting device, her voice ignored distance or spatial restrictions. Everyone heard the same voice no matter they were nearer to or further from her.
The crowd cheered in a frenzy after an initial moment of silence.
While the disciplined students didn't cause any commotion, the crowd had absolutely freaked out.
Quite a number of men cried out Annelotte's name excitedly. They weren't there to see magic. Instead, they were there to get a glimpse of Annelotte's legendary visage that was famous across the whole empire.
She had finally appeared! Even though she almost lost her life according to the rumors, she now seemed fine and dandy. The rumors didn't hold water at all! They were probably drummed up by the women jealous of Annelotte!
The crowd cheered frantically despite how Annelotte didn't show the least bit of passion. She only needed to stand there to rile the whole crow up. Her mere words were far more effective than Geoffrey's passionate speech!
She stared at the crowd expressionlessly and waited for them to quiet down. "As His Highness Geoffrey has said, First Magic Academy does indeed have the ideal learning environment with the best facilities. This is something Second Magic Academy can never compete with. The reason for that is simple. Second Magic Academy doesn't have sufficient funding. As such, I have to apologize to the students of our academy. I hope you forgive my mistake!"
Annelotte then bowed.
"Madam Principal…" said a female student among the crowd uncontrollably.
Innilis turned to look at the girl who spoke out. She was blonde-haired just like Innilis and seemed a little younger and more petite. She stood to Innilis's left a row behind, so Innilis could easily see her face.
She looked to be a rather pretty girl around her mid-teens. Her eyes were blue like Annelotte's and her nose was high. She sported a cute little mouth. However, Innilis wasn't able to figure out her background due to their robes.
Since she enrolled in Second Magic Academy, that meant her background wasn't much to speak of. She didn't even have a single accessory on her platinum blonde hair, which could be a sign of her poor background.
The girl looked at Innilis and whispered, "Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt…"
"No, it's fine!" Innilis gave a friendly smile and stretched her hand out. "Nice to meet you. I'm Innilis Leit."
"Nice to meet you…" The girl hesitated for a moment, not knowing whether talking to someone else in a situation like that would offend Annelotte or not. But since Innilis seemed so friendly, she didn't dare to rudely ignore her. Her identity was special after all, and the big sister had told her that she would be in trouble if she didn't get along with others.
In the end, she still stretched her hand out to take Innilis's. "I'm Winleysha. People usually call me Sasha."
That girl was the same Sasha Leguna met in the millennium capital.
After One left Leguna, she was really troubled on how she should deal with Sasha. She could simply let her go back to her simple life with her mother, but when she took Sasha home, she knew that her mother's sickness wasn't so easily treated.
Even if she recovered, they would still be single parent and child. It would be hard for them to lead a good life in a war-torn world like that. To fulfil her promise to Leguna, One decided she would think of a way to give Sasha the ability to fend for herself. Just as she was pondering over how she could achieve that, a discovery changed her mind completely.
Sasha was a water swayer. While her affinity for the water element wasn't as high as Annelotte's, she was still gifted.
Due to that discover, One was forced to make a choice between two options. She could kill Sasha immediately so that she would never fall prey to anyone else, or send Sasha far away from the millennium capital. Considering Leguna's reaction if she did the former, she had no choice but to figure out a way to take Sasha and her mother to Melindor.
Taking care of the girl was easier said than done. Since Sasha was gifted, One only needed to pull a little trick to get Second Magic Academy to pick her. With the support of the academy, the allowance they received should be enough for Sasha to treat her mother with.
Sasha felt a little weird thinking back at her experiences over the past few months. Even though her family was ruined by Hockians, she had to go to Hocke and serve them to protect what was left of her family. It truly was odd!
However, she no longer held as much hate for northerners. She had been rather weak-willed to begin with and didn't dare to hate anything or anyone. All she wanted to do was to treat her sick mother and have some wheat bread every day. That would be enough!
"Sasha?" Innilis blinked her large green eyes. She felt like she was looking at her late elder sister, Minnie. She smiled and said, "Then, I'll be in your care. I'm sure we'll meet often!"
"Me too…" Sasha blankly replied. She wasn't aware that Innilis had decided she would tell Annelotte to move her into Innilis's dormitory.
Annelotte stayed silent for a moment after her bow. "While we don't have the finest facilities or environment, there's something that only you all have."
Everyone quieted down and eagerly anticipated what she would say next.
"That is… Each and every one of you is a person whose talent I, Annelotte, took note of. While we haven't met before, I can assure you that all of you have passed the rigorous selection process of our academy. Your talents have been acknowledged by me, and I believe you can be prouder than anyone else based on that fact alone."
She wasn't trying to exaggerate it at all, and her tone sounded rather neutral. It was as if she was merely stating a logical fact. The fact that they were acknowledged for their talent was something most people couldn't compare to.
It was only a simple fact, but one could only imagine the confidence and persuasiveness it took to say something like that, and it was clear that Annelotte had both.
Gradually, the students of Second Magic Academy began to comprehend the implications of those words. They didn't cheer like the students of First Magic Academy. All they did was wear a touched look on their faces with their fists clenched. It was as if their fighting spirit was simply waiting for the right time to shine.
"Whoooaaaaaaa!" However, the mindless fans in the crowd were completely floored by their empress's confidence. They cheered as loudly as they could to support her.
"That's why, let's all work hard together!" She finished with a simple sentence and left the podium. Though it was the shortest speech to be given in the history of both academies, time would eventually show how effective it had been.Previous Chapter Next Chapter