Philarch was a city-state with a population of less than 300,000 people. Rather than the country itself being famous, Ixium, the comprehensive Academy that operated within Philarch, was more famous.
The amount of people living in Ixium had grown to over 70,000, including the professors and staff affiliated with Ixium, and once the employed manpower was included, there were nearly 150,000 people living mainly in Ixium. The Academy, Ixium, was a national project of the city-state of Philarch.
People flocked to Ixium to build the best connections and get the best education. They paid the expensive tuition and spent a considerable amount on living expenses. A part of the money went into investing in the Academy’s faculty and facilities. As the quality of Ixium was constantly being improved in order to avoid losing their position as the best academy, a virtuous cycle repeated in which more students flocked to the school.
Chris, a 15-year-old this year, enrolled into Ixium to complete a six-year mandatory course. The mandatory course curriculum combined 3-4 school year courses of the preparatory grade and 1-4 school year courses of the regular grade.
Ixium’s curriculum was based on a 12-year course with 4 years each, of preliminary grade, preparatory grade, and regular grade, and students were able to split or combine them as they wished, according to their age and standards. Chris had been enrolled for a year now and was a 3rd year student of the preparatory grade.
The learning curve in Ixium was very difficult, but even if your grades were at the bottom, you were given your certificate of graduation. Receiving the costly tuition and dealing with the profits was the Academy’s riddle. In exchange, the certificate for course completion was only given to students with a certain grade(results) or higher. If someone wasn’t familiar with this system, you could publicly claim to them that with only the certificate of graduation, you had completed the academy’s courses magnificently.
Unfortunately for Chris, his father was very familiar with this cheating of the system. When he sent Chris to Ixium, he threatened that if Chris came back with only the graduation certificate, he would strip him and chase him out of the house.
Chris had just finished his 3rd school year and his grades were barely managing. Still, it wasn’t too bad. He was merely happy with the fact that he could go home without having to take additional semester courses.
As Chris was passing by the campus, he turned his gaze to the subject of the students’ stir. A hot topic of discussion in the school was passing by. It was a dark-haired boy, too young to be called a youth and too mature to be called a child.
‘The heavens are unfair.’
Chris thought every time he saw Damian. Damian has a remarkable appearance that stood out among the thousands of boys that infested the Academy. And that wasn’t the only thing. He was an outrageously brilliant guy that had never run for head position in the school.
‘And what’s with that out-of-place fox?’
Chris felt like a bigger and fiercer animal would be more suitable for Damian to carry around. However, the yellow-furred fox that was always following after Damian was tiny. Interestingly enough, the fox looked very haughty for a mere beast. At times, it seemed like it was showing off to people but Chris told himself he was just imagining things.
‘Same as usual, eh.’
Today as well, Damian completely ignored the students’ leering gazes. He didn’t look like he was putting on airs, he just had no interest, whatsoever.
‘…No matter how many times I see it, they look so alike.’
Whenever Chris saw Damian, there was someone that always came to mind. That person was someone famous in Chris’s home country, Xenon. There was almost no one that did not know him.
Chris had made his official social debut at this year’s New Year party. Many nobles made their official debut at the new year party held by the royal family. This was because the party was huge, and many nobles attended the party. Chris’ family was not poor, but Chris’ father did not want to spend money on holding a separate debut party.
It was at this party that Chris first saw the ducal couple; the Duke of Taran and his wife, who were attending. The Duke of Taran’s particular features were quite famous, so Chris was well aware of them, but the person he saw was quite different from what he had imagined.
The rumors surrounding the Duke of Taran painted him as a fearsome, crude, terrifying person, but the appearance of the Duke of Taran dressed in a tailcoat, was a very well-built, refined aristocrat. The impressive sight of the Duke of Taran had continued to float around his head. Which is why when Chris first saw Damian, he was overrun with shock.
Chris wasn’t the type to be privy to rumors but soon after he was enrolled, he heard rumors about Damian. A monstrous genius who was boarding in the dorms. It was said that he had never not gotten first place, and even for a skill like swordsmanship that had to be cultivated, he was proficient enough to compete with the professors for dozens of times. When he saw Damian, Chris realized that there were really geniuses in this world.
‘We are completely different species.’
Maybe because the gap between them was so wide, Chris didn’t even envy him. Rather than envy, he was more curious about the connection between Damian and the Duke of Taran.
‘There’s no way they can look so alike if they didn’t have a blood connection.’
In Ixium, there were many comments going around about Damian’s obscure identity, but no one mentioned the Duke of Taran. At first, Chris wondered why, but now, he knew. They were all being careful with their words.
‘For the Duke of Taran to have such a big son…it’s too young, isn’t it?’
Chris didn’t know Damian’s exact age. Physically, Damian looked like he was the same age as Chris or perhaps even older.
‘I mean, I’ve heard that the Duke of Taran has a daughter, but I’ve never heard of a son.’
If Damian wasn’t the Duke’s son, then a relative maybe? Chris wanted to grab Damian who was walking farther away and ask.
“Can’t you look where you’re going?”
As Chris was turning around, he heard an abrasive voice and turned back again. When he saw the scene occurring a little distance away from him, a frown formed on his brow.
‘With the way these bastards are picking a fight, you have to wonder if he is really related to the Duke of Taran…’
The books Damian were holding had fallen to the floor and two boys stood in front of Damian, blocking him.
‘Those guys again, huh.’
This was a frequent occurrence. Once those two boys saw Damian, they were itching to pick a fight.
‘Ai, the fact that guys like these are from my country is a disgrace.’
Damian’s country of origin, let alone his status, was obscure. His family obviously had enough money to cover for Ixium’s tuition fee, but seeing as he was boarding in the dorms, people guessed that he was probably not from a noble family. When the boys coming after Damian were not penalized or put at a disadvantage, the idea that Damian’s status wasn’t anything much, became more concrete.
Chris didn’t see why Damian’s nobility or lack thereof, was a reason to pick a fight. He also couldn’t understand why there were a lot of people who were secretly unfriendly towards Damian. He accidentally overheard his classmates talking and learnt that there were a lot of people bitter at Damian.
Regardless of the circumstances, Damian had never shrunk or looked intimidated in front of anyone. Apparently to them, such an attitude was arrogant. They didn’t bluntly say ‘arrogant’, but Chris felt that his classmate, who were dancing around their meaning, were really pathetic.
‘It’ll end the same way, today too.’
This frequently occurring scene had never led into a fight. The saying was ‘it takes two to tango.’ Damian didn’t go against them at all. So the bastards picking a fight had no choice but to fume and step back. Chris admired Damian’s choice to ignore them. They weren’t even opponents worth facing.