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Chapter 155 – The Young Lady Named Sophie Linier ~ Miscalculation of Gerald Forsius V~
“Simply put, the operating cost of the dining hall had been tampered with.”
Lars began to explain in Sophie’s stead.
“There was a discrepancy between the budget that was taken for the annual operating expenses and the actual expenses. The actual expenses had a smaller amount, but the accounting book was tampered with accordingly.”
“Doesn’t that mean… the academy had falsified the national expenses?!”
Luca gawked at the major problem that was likely to make the principal and the people under him punished.
“No, not the national expenses. The only thing that got falsified was the donation from the gold star.”
“The operational cost for the dining hall has been the same fixed amount every year. Things served in the dining hall might differ when it was a year of poor harvest, but it still fulfilled the major premise of guaranteeing a minimum amount of meals.”
However, the donation from the gold star would be added to that amount. That added amount wasn’t used but kept instead.
“…I don’t quite understand it, even if it’s donation money, it is still embezzlement, right?”
Looking at Lars, who explained such a major problem casually, Luca was getting more and more surprised, and he had a hard time telling if it was he who was the weird one in this situation.
“Of course, it is a heavy crime if it’s exploited for personal gain. But in fact, not a single copper coin is in anyone’s hand.”
“In that case, why did the academy keep doing something that benefited nobody all this time?”
At Luca’s question, Lars thought for a moment about how to explain it so it was easiest to understand, and then continued his words.
“There are two main purposes that the gold star pays the academy. One is to purchase a star, which is often ridiculed as a star fee, and another one is donation money. Star fees are counted as part of national expenses, but that isn’t the case for donation money. The donation money is filled with the desire of the parents so their children could lead a fulfilling academy life in a well-equipped environment.”
The one who offered the most donation money was neither the black star nor the silver star, but the gold star.
That was why the gold star felt conceited, thinking it was thanks to them that the equipment of the academy was enriched, which caused some people to ooze such an attitude.
“As a matter of fact, the donations of gold stars are used for many facility maintenance and equipment purchases, but some is allocated for the gold stars alone. That was decided ever since the establishment of ‘The King’s Sword,’ and it was known as the ‘nameless test’.”
“For those who managed to find it and solve it brilliantly, they were granted a star and the right to use that allocated money—such was the practice ever since the academy was founded.”
It was a seed that was sown quietly.
Its type varied from time to time, but that seed was released in the hope that someone from each generation would find it and reap it.
There was a quote on the first page of the gold star’s textbook.
[“Excessive curiosity will destroy you. But if you do it without fear, then the star will shine.”]
That was referring to this “nameless test.”
“Did Sophie-sama know about the existence of this test?”
Luca never heard from his elder brother that such a thing existed so he asked Sophie, but she denied it.
“I did think the academy side was testing the gold star in some way, but I never thought it was so established. I see… so it was called ‘nameless test’.”
There was doubt scattered in everyday life.
And the information could be gathered should they look for it.
It was as if the academy were telling them what that something was.
“But I’m surprised the entire gold star faculty will be granted one star.”
Originally, the cost for a gold star to purchase a star was a considerable amount.
Granting those things to the whole faculty would result in significantly reduced earnings for the academy.
“Regarding that, according to the principal, over the long history of the academy, there was never a case where the written opinion regarding that matter was written using the name of the whole gold star. At most, three or four people would usually find it each time. In the first place, only a few people found and solved this ‘nameless test,’ and as for recent years, there was only one person.”
“Only one person?”
Sophie muttered as she found that surprising.
“Yes. That person managed to find the problem and solve the mistake by himself. He surely belonged to a different level than the current gold star.”
With that said, Lars made a wry smile.
There was Sophie, who was granted the purple star, and his fellow gold star classmates; it was only them who managed to accomplish it. For Lars, it was definitely not something he could solve alone.
First of all, under the circumstances where they had no idea about the existence of the test, none of the current gold stars would have such a reckless thought of trying to correct a mistake done by the academy.
Those who could do that were only those who believed in their own strength and had the necessary knowledge and insight.
Indeed, only a person like the girl in front of him could solve it alone.
As Lars laughed in self-derision, Sophie shook her head.
“That’s not the case. I do think the capability to think and take action on their own is a wonderful thing. But thinking about it with everyone, unifying opinions, and then taking action is several times harder to achieve than accomplishing it alone.”
Those slow words that sounded like a self-reflection made not only Lars but also Luca pay attention.
“It’s especially true when you are a student. Such experience would help you a great deal and continue to support you from now on. It’s a very wonderful thing that is hard to come by. —You can be proud of it.”
Those were undoubtedly Sophie’s true thoughts.
In her previous life, when he was still a student, he lived his life without ever cooperating with someone to accomplish something.
He didn’t even want to receive help from his best friend, who he cherished.
Unity was just a form of escaping responsibility.
Cooperation was nothing but pampering himself.
Those were the only thoughts he had back then.
It was because he couldn’t live like a normal person.
It was because obvious things that everyone else had were things he lacked.
He made it a rule that he shouldn’t be the same as others.
He needed to be able to do everything by himself.
He needed to make do with everything alone.
With such thoughts, he tried to live.
With such thoughts, he had lived his life.
But was it really the correct thing to do?
The gold star students that came bearing the notice that Lars and Aaron were summoned to the principal’s office were filled with anxiety and frustration. But even then, they had the belief that if it was those two, they would be just fine.
Just like how Sophie believed in the two, the gold star students also believed in Lars and Aaron.
It was something that Sophie had abandoned in her previous life.
It was something he failed to find value in.
It was something he even failed to take notice of.
“During your exchange with the principal, there’s no way he would approve the written petition readily from the beginning, right? Didn’t he reprimand you with words filled with pressure?”
The summons from the principal was the final test.
It was to see whether they could keep their belief that their proposal was correct without a speck of doubt, so the principal would ask questions with a strict tone on purpose.
However, even that was something that Lars and the others were prepared for through several simulations.
“The fact that he told you the overview of the test afterward is proof he approved both of you.”
As Sophie smiled and asserted that it was undoubtedly the power of Lars and others, Lars naturally made a wide smile.
“Thank you very much! Ah, but…”
Lars was about to say something, but he hurriedly turned his eyes away, said, “No, it’s nothing!” and closed his mouth.
He almost said “The exchange with the principal was several times easier than the practice questions with Sophie-sama!” right there.
Compared to the intimidating words from the majestic principal, Sophie, who continuously pierced their flaws mercilessly with a cute smile, was harsher in their mind, this was something that Lars thought shouldn’t be said, so he proceeded to laugh it off and handed a document to Sophie.
“This is the actual amount of the allocated money. Since there was nobody who managed to accomplish it in recent years, the money seemed to pile up more than we expected. This document is about the amount of food we proposed and would immediately be done tomorrow.”
Upon seeing the number on the paper, Luca swallowed his saliva out of surprise.
It was an amount that one would never be able to see if one lived a commoner life.
“With this, the copper star will be able to secure a satisfactory amount of food.”
Marcus and his friends, who kept complaining about hunger every time they saw Sophie’s face, would surely be pleased.
“If not only the amount but also the taste become delicious, I’ll rest assured by the time Michal enrolls.”
As Sophie recalled her cute little brother, Sophie happily said, “It’s all thanks to Lars and the others!” but Lars awkwardly opened his mouth.
“Um, Sophie-sama. Regarding that matter… the amount of food will indeed increase, but there won’t be a particular change to the taste.”
“That’s… according to principle, ‘Meals are things that taste like that’…”
The age of the principal was older than Alan Aubin the Golden Lion. Considering his age, he should be among the last generation that was taught “eating simple means being a gentleman” from his childhood.
“I see. So that’s how it is…”
Sophie’s tone immediately became low at once.
Her big, fresh green eyes narrowed like sharp knives, and her mouth formed a distorted smile.
Looking at the change in Sophie’s expression, Lars had a panicked voice.
As expected, compared to the principal, having this lovely girl exude her tranquil fury was several times more taxing to their minds. The right arm that Lars extended without meaning to was unable to do anything but grasp empty air.
It wasn’t just Lars, but Luca was also the same. Both of them were more aware than anyone in this academy about how peculiar Sophie was about food.
That was why both of them were shrinking back at her simmering eyes and couldn’t continue their words.
When they were confused about how to make the follow-up, it was Firth of the silver star who walked up to them.
“Ah, Sophie-sama. You forgot your handkerchief in the classroom…”
Before Firth could complete his sentence, he noticed the atmosphere was quite odd, so his words stopped in the middle.
“Firth, you came just at the right time! Can you come with me?!”
Firth’s leg took a step back at the force that Sophie exuded, which felt different from her usual atmosphere. The fact he still responded immediately was almost out of conditional reflex.
Toward the girl who was acknowledged by Lorenzo Forsell and granted the purple star, not only Firth, but all students of the silver star did not have the option to say no to her.
No, even without that, how many people could say no when they were talked with such force? That was how ghastly it was to him.
“Lars! Sorry, but please ask all silver stars who aren’t busy at the moment to come to the dining hall!”
“Eh? Silver star, is it?”
Why silver stars?
Lars was dumbfounded as he ruminated over it, but just like Firth, he accepted her request. This one was also out of conditional reflex.
“Well then, let’s go!”
Firth was taken away by Sophie as if being dragged, and Luca hurriedly chased after Sophie.
Lars was stunned as he saw their leaving figures for a while, but he immediately returned to himself and rushed to the silver star’s classroom.
—After that, the appearance of the silver star students running toward the dining hall was witnessed by everyone, and the light of the dining hall didn’t go out until late that night.
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