The sheer size of the Olsyvia Academy was quite something, taking up virtually all of the central regions of the city of Olsyvia, living up to the academy’s nickname of ‘Academy City’. Apart from the Olsyvia Academy, there were two other academies that shared the city; The academy that was located in the city’s west was the Alexander Academy, a school with little connection to the outside world, favoured by those non-human races due to its secluded nature, rumour has it that much of the school’s population was made up of various types of elves.
In the city’s east was the Antoinette Academy, which unlike the Alexander and the Olsyvia academies, were open to the general masses, accepting mainly dancers, musicians and other practitioners of the fine arts, making the Antoinette Academy essentially one of Earth’s renowned ‘art’ schools. The price for attending the Antoinette Academy was rather high, with the average tuition being higher than that of the Olsyvia Academy, but it was unsure if it was higher than that of the Alexander Academy.
After all, there were quite the number of nobles and royalty that attended the Olsyvia Academy, if wealthy commoners didn’t have the talent to enter the Olsyvia Academy’s central branch, they could still attend the nearby Antoinette Academy and hope to be recognized by some noble or even royalty, skyrocketing their own positions in society. Under the direction of the two student council members from the Filomina Academy(Noble Branch), Bella continued towards the Olsyvia Academy.
Mia, Angel, Noesha, and Betia, the four lolis who had came with Bella were under the guise of being the maidservants of Duchess Bellina. During this tour however, the four of them decided not to stay by Bella’s side and had instead decided to wander around by themselves. Noesha’s spatial magic could keep them completely hidden in an alternate space, so not even Bella knew where the four of them had run off to.
The Church of Light’s four holy maidens had already been picked up by a reception girl of the southern branch, the St. Louis Academy. Apart from the eastern branch that was home to various kinds of extraordinarily talented people, the other four branches of the Olsyvia Academy paid close attention to the movements and the whereabouts of their new students. For example, the two student council members from the Filomina Academy had already completed most of the paperwork for Bella before she had even arrived, making the entry process much simpler for Bella.
The Filomina Academy was mainly attended by the children of the five human empires’ nobility, mostly the household’s young masters and young ladies. It was extremely rare for someone holding such high peerage like Bella entering the academy themselves, much of the academy’s top echelons were only the sons and daughters of Dukes at most, paling in comparison to Bella’s own peerage of Duchess. Because of this, Bella had been designated a priority student by the Filomina Academy’s student council before she had even arrived.
“Would you prefer us to call you Duchess Bellina, or Miss Bellina?”
“You don’t have to be so formal, I don’t really care about that kind of stuff, you can just call me by my name. What, is that weird or something?”
“No, it’s just that… you’re a little different from what we imagined.”
The two girls from the Filomina’s student council looked a little strangely at Bella, based on the intel that they had collected, the new lord of Saniyah, Duchess Bellina was a ‘new money’ noble that had purchased her peerage by throwing money at the empire’s royalty. Based on past experiences, this kind of ‘new money’ nobles were almost always those who would flaunt their wealth and position at any chance that they were given, to the point that they would probably have their names engraved on everything around them if they were given the chance.
So it was a surprise to the two that Duchess Bellina was so easy to talk to and even seemed to be rather humble. However, one thing that counteracted that was the blindingly shiny suit of armour that Bella was wearing that was made completely out of platinum and inlaid with many exquisite gems, which on closer inspection turned out to be several of the rare ‘gem of the seas’. ‘Gem of the Seas’ was a type of precious gem that were hidden in the deepest parts of the world’s seas, sought after for its unique shimmering and radiant blue that seemed almost as if the gem had been carved out of a piece of the sea itself.
One such gem could be exchanged for at least 6 other slightly less rare gems of the same quality, being many, many times more valuable than its weight in gold. If it wasn’t for how rare they were, such gems would have long replaced gold bars as the currency used by the underground world. Bella’s full suit of ceremonial armour seemed to have several dozen such gems inlaid in it, if they were representative of Bella’s wealth, she would probably be ranked in the top ten in wealth at the Filomina Academy, a place where all of the students were nobles!
Olsyvia was an ancient city that had over ten thousand years of history, during the invasion of the 12 demon kings it was the city of Olsyvia that had become the last bastion for the human race against the demonic onslaught. Countless human heroes fought to the end here, fending off the demons until the day that the 12 demon kings had mysteriously disappeared. Due to its history, Olsyvia was also called the ‘Eternal City’.
The heritage and history of such an ancient city wasn’t something that could be seen and understood in such a short tour. The past months had been quite stressful and Bella intended to take advantage of the current time to relax herself, she slowed her pace down as she walked through the streets that carried a medieval European air and design.
The other students who were also heading towards the Filomina Academy had already noticed Bella, in fact, most of the empire’s nobility had turned their eyes towards Bellina before she had even entered the school. Many of them knew that Bellina’s peerage was given as part of a deal between the royal family and Bellina’s adoptive father, the wealthy merchant Clement, who only held the honorary peerage of Knight.
Initially, the other nobles looked down on the new lord of Saniyah for several reasons, the first being that there had been no other female in recorded history to have obtained the peerage of Duke, as well as the fact that Bellina’s peerage was bought, made it natural for the other nobles of esteemed and accomplished families to look down on her.
When Bellina had just received the title and peerage of the Duchess of Saniyah, several neighbouring duchies of various sizes under the lead of Duke Brandon, lord of the Grande Duchy, had assembled a coalition of over 60,000 soldiers and invaded Bellina’s fiefdom. The result of the ensuing battle was that the decorated commander of countless engagements against the beastmen, Duke Brandon, had his forces almost completely obliterated by this new Duchess. Of the 60,000 strong coalition, only 10,000 had managed to escape, with over 40,000 being taken prisoner.
The results sent shockwaves through the empire’s nobility. After the battle Duke Brandon had to pay countless remunerations as well as a full ransom for the 40,000 soldiers that had been captured. Regardless of everything else, many of the empire’s nobles swiftly sent gifts to Duchess Bellina as a show of good intent.
Even the Emperor of the Gabriel Empire(Swordsmen) had sent an envoy to negotiate peace between the two sides. Amongst the human nobles within the 5 great empires, it wasn’t uncommon for fights to break out between lords of the same empire over land, resources, or other interests, such fights were acknowledged in silent acquiesce by the emperors as long as it didn’t conflict with the empire’s interests nor threatened the authority of the emperor. Afterwards, the empire which the nobles belong to would usually send an envoy to negotiate a peace between the two conflicting sides if it seemed like the battle was too one-sided or had been causing too much damage. After all, it wouldn’t exactly be ideal for two of their nobles to completely destroy each other.
The Emperor of Gabriel Empire sending an envoy himself was an indirect recognition of Duchess Bellina’s position, and after this, the rest of the empire’s nobles could no longer view her as simply an ornament who had bought her peerage. The nobility of the Gabriel Empire had already begun to slowly accept this new duchess.
Even though some of the nobles suspected that this battle was something that Duke Brandon had collaborated with Duchess Bellina on to improve the latter’s merit and solidify her position, but lacked any evidence to prove it. Because of this, there weren’t any nobles currently willing to find trouble for themselves by making enemies with Duchess Bellina, making Bella’s life that much simpler.
Duchess Bellina was rumoured to be a thickly built and masculine female, one that was ugly but could also cut down several fully grown men with a swing of her sword. Now that they finally saw her in person, quite a few young noble males were painfully regretting their decisions, expressing that they wanted to rip the pieces the one who had spread the false rumours. How was this beauty with golden hair and blue eyes ugly? Was the one who had spread the rumours blind???? Or were they trying to make the situation this much awkwarder for the Filomina Academy’s males.
Before Bella had even arrived at the school, the academy’s males hadn’t written Bellina’s name on their invitations that they had given out, due to them believing the rumours. It was one of the Filomina Academy’s traditions that near the beginning of the school year, those students with a stronger background would host a friendship banquet, inviting other students who were attending the academy, in order to improve the relations between them and the host.
Reasonably speaking, Duchess Bellina should have been someone that appeared on every invitation list, as it was noble etiquette to send an invitation to those of higher peerage, even if they did not show up at the actual banquet. However, every single one of the noble young masters had been misled by the rumours and seemed to have made some unspoken agreement, with none of them inviting Duchess Bellina, which ended with all of them getting bamboozled. Noble etiquette dictated that such invitations should be sent out 10 days in advance, now that there were only 9 days until the banquets, an invitation now would no longer be sincere.
Bella casually glanced around, unsurprisingly discovering a bunch of the Filomina Academy’s male students with a faceful of regret. That rumour didn’t spring out of nowhere, Bella herself had requested the defeated Duke Brandon to spread it. Bella had learned quite a bit about this tradition of the academy from Ivy, she had done this in order to avoid having to participate in the male students’ banquets.
“Bellina…kouhai, this is the front gate to the Olsyvia Academy, the one to the left that’s always shut is one of our friend schools, the Alexander Academy. The one to the right with a bunch of people coming in and out is our other friend school, the Antoinette Academy, remember to take the right gate when you want to enter the academy!
Arriving at the academy gates, Bella was about to follow the two girls from the student council to fill out the last bits of paperwork when the communication stone that she always carried on her began to ring. Who was it that was looking for her at a time like this? Her two sisters, Irene and Lisha, weren’t scheduled to arrive until tomorrow, and Kriss would only around dinner time today.
Not caring for the curious gazes of the two student council representatives, Bella brought the communication to her ear as if she was using one of Earth’s cell phones and pressed the receive call button. As soon as Bella did so, a familiar voice began talking to her through the communication stone.
“Have you arrived yet Bella? Can you come find me at the Zasia bridge, like right now, the bridge is right beside the Euphemia Academy, there’s something that I need your help with.”
“Ariel, the western branch’s Euphemia Academy is for royalty only, I’m only a noble so I can’t enter!”
“I don’t care, as long as you find a way to get here. What, you’re not going to take responsibility after playing with a maiden’s heart! You heartless pervert, I’m going to…”
“Miss, there’s nothing impure between us…”
“If you don’t come, I’ll… I’ll find a random man off the street and get married! Do you think that I won’t…”
“I understand, give me a bit and I’ll be right there.”
“I’m right beside the flower bed near the Zasia bridge, you’ll see me as soon as you get there. Remember, be fast!”
After the battle in the town of Sakerid, Ariel had also ‘glued’ herself to Bella, obtaining a communication stone for herself and hitting Bella up at random times to talk. Only after a couple times did Bella know that because of Ariel’s need to hide her beauty, she never really had any friends, and it just happened to be that Bella was one of the few people who knew about Ariel’s true beauty, which was why Ariel decided to make friends with Bella.
After Bella made a request to go meet someone under the Zasia bridge, the two members of the Filomina Academy student council studied her with rather surprised looks in their eyes. The Zasia bridge and its nearby area was one of the 9 ‘holy places’ for the Olsyvia Academy’s couples to publicly display their affection. It came as quite a surprise for the two of them to learn that Duchess Bellina was planning to meet another girl under the Zasia bridge.
Out of noble etiquette and simple courtesy, the two student council representatives didn’t ask any questions and gave Bella directions to the Zasia bridge. Before they left, they also presented Bella with a temporary ID card, stating that the holder was a new student of the Filomina Academy, which could be used to ask nearby teachers for directions to the branch school if Bella were to ever get lost within the Olsyvia Academy.
After parting ways with the two girls, Bella was able to notice the strange looks that they were giving her, but due to time restraints, Bella decided not to ask the reason that the two girls were looking so strangely at her.
The Zasia bridge was built over a small river that also acted as the border between the Euphemia and Filomina academies, with the Zasia bridge being one of the few pathways between them. Only after arriving here did Bella realize why the two girls were looking so strangely at her after she had told them that she was coming to see another girl, this bridge seemed to be a sacred place for the school’s couples.
While there weren’t that many student couples here, but almost all of them were well experienced, knowing how to control themselves in public so that they wouldn’t be breaking any of the academy rules. The place where the Zasia bridge was located was rather scenic, and also quite isolated, meaning that patrolling teachers normally wouldn’t pass by here, making this area one of the Olsyvia Academy’s ‘holy places’ for couples seeking to go on a date. Those who came here were basically all nobles and royalty and were all people of identity and position, choosing an isolated spot such as this would reduce the risk of rumours being spread about them.
Even though there was no academy rule forbidding its students to date, but it also didn’t support it. All that the academy asked of its students regarding this matter was that they shouldn’t be too intimate in public places and keep it on the low. This request seemed to be something to take care of the ‘single dogs’ in the academy, keeping from being ‘attacked’ everywhere they go in the six years of their academic life. The entrance age of the Olsyvia Academy started at the age of 15 up to the age of 18, and a student would generally spend at least 6 years at the academy before being able graduating.
In the area around the bridge, several guards were stationed, but keeping themselves lowkey and well hidden. These guards were members of the Olsyvia Academy’s security force, their main purpose here was to ‘kindly invite’ students not from the Euphemia or Filomina academies away. This was one of the actions that the academy took to preserve the privacy of these nobles and royalty that had fallen in love.
The crests on the school badges of the Euphemia and Filomina academies were easily recognizable; the Euphemia Academy had a royal crown as their crest to signify their status as royalty while the Filomina Academy’s crest was a black sceptre, representative of noble status.
The guards here identify which academy the students were from based on their school badge, as that was something that wasn’t so easily lent out to others due to there were punishments for students who were discovered wearing the badge from another branch. Bella could only enter this area because of the fact that the newcomer ID card that she had been given had the Filomina Academy’s crest on it.
Bella looked around a little irritatedly at all of the intimate couples around her, Bella strongly suspected that Ariel had purposely called her here just so that Bella could enjoy a faceful of other peoples’ romance.
Fortunately, Bella wasn’t the only ‘single dog’ around, in a comparatively quieter and emptier place near the bridge, Bella spotted a girl in a hooded grey robe standing still. Seeing that the robe’s style was virtually identical to that of Ariel’s, as well as remembering the fact that Ariel had a habit of hiding her beauty from the general populace, Bella didn’t think much before going up and patted the girl on the shoulder, believing that the girl was indeed Ariel.
If Bella had been just a bit slower, she would have been able to see the girl’s reflection in the river. It was a shame that her hand simply moved to fast, only discovering in the reflection that the girl’s hair was not the same silver colour as Ariel’s. Quite evidently, this girl wasn’t Ariel, Bella had gotten the wrong girl… again.