Chapter 1 – The Greedy Grimoire (1)

“Theodore Miller.”

A man with dark circles under his eyes called Theodore’s name. The man’s thin cheeks were pulled tightly over his already prominent cheekbones, creating an almost skeletal face. His neat attire was the only thing keeping him from being mistaken as a resident of the slums. In reality, this man was actually a third-grade professor and a 5th Circle master, placing him among the best magicians within Bergen Academy.

The skinny man, Professor Vince, spoke in a businesslike tone, “You should know why I called you.”

Theodore Miller, often shortened to Theo, nodded silently. He couldn’t bear to open his mouth and answer the question. He had prepared himself, but he couldn’t pretend it wasn’t tearing him in half now that it was actually happening.

“Your written examination score is brilliant. You were only deducted three points across all your subjects, and even then, only for minor mistakes. No one else could answer those questions except for you, so think of it as a perfect score.”

Although it couldn’t be confirmed publicly, the academy had a tacit rule that a full score shouldn’t be granted so easily, so some test questions were purposely designed to trip up students. Nevertheless, Theo had only lost points for three questions. In some ways, it was a performance that rivaled certain professors. 

Vince could not help but admire the talent of the young man standing before him, but the truth was a bitter pill.

Theodore Miller lacked the talent to become a magician.

“However, you can’t graduate since you failed the practical requirement.” Vince’s decisive voice landed heavily on Theo’s shoulders.

The academy had two graduation requirements. The first was to obtain a written examination score of above seventy points. The second was to become a 3rd Circle master. The first wasn’t difficult, but the second requirement was a large problem.

It was just too difficult for Theo to become a 3rd Circle master, especially as he was born with abysmal magic power and sensitivity. Even though he forwent sleep in order to squeeze in more practice, he couldn’t even reach the level of his classmates’ feet. Despite hours of practice, magic would always wrest out of his control.

As a result, Theo hadn’t been able to graduate for three years.

Hmm… Theodore, what circle are you now?” Professor Vince asked, as a tinge of frustration entered his voice.

He had asked the same question last year and the year before. However, the answer hadn’t changed.

Theo repeated the same answer, “... 2nd Circle.”

It was a terrible number.

Most of the academy’s students reached the 2nd Circle by the end of the first grade and the 3rd Circle when they entered the third grade. There were also some excellent students who reached the 4th Circle by graduation. However, Theo had stayed at the academy for five years and still hadn’t breached the wall of the 3rd Circle. But that wasn’t the only problem.

“Have you mastered 2nd Circle magic?”

“... I failed.” Theo's already quiet voice faltered.

If magic power was the only lacking thing, he could have supplemented it with outside sources. It would have been expensive, but if he consumed reagents made of magic power, he could obtain enough power needed to reach the 3rd Circle. However, Theo’s sensitivity was almost zero. Mana sensitivity was indispensable for magic. The lack of magic power could be overcome, but there was no method to increase mana sensitivity.

It was why Professor Vince had given up on sponsoring Theo.

It’s a waste of Theo’s brilliance, but... with poor mana sensitivity, he’ll never survive as a magician. Spending five years and not even mastering 2nd Circle magic, it’s hopeless.

He looked down at Theo with a wistful expression. Any other student would’ve given up a long time ago. Theo, who knew better than anyone how untalented he was, had not given up once in five years. It was a level of drive and commitment that stood in stark comparison to the greenhouse flowers that his classmates seemed to be. If Theo had even shown ordinary levels of mana sensitivity, then he would have easily claimed the position of class valedictorian.

However, reality was too cruel to Theo.

Professor Vince pulled out an envelope from the drawer and hesitated for a moment. This wasn’t the first time, but it felt like the weight of the envelope had increased with the years.

It was the letter given to a grade repeater.

“This is my role as a professor, but… I can’t help feeling like I’m doing something wrong to you. I’m sorry.”

“... No, it’s fine.”

“Read it once and discard it. There shouldn’t be anything different from last year, but you never know.”

Theo accepted the envelope calmly. His fingers were on the verge of trembling, but he managed to keep them steady. This was his third repeater letter. The first letter was enough to make one an object of ridicule, while the second would mark one as a family’s disgrace.

Theo was the first student at Bergen Academy to ever receive it three times. But the third letter came with a certain implication. 

This was the last one.

A fourth letter didn’t exist.

Professor Vince hadn’t said it explicitly, but if Theodore Miller didn’t graduate next year, he would be expelled. It would be a scandal so disgraceful that it would be better for him to quit now and keep his honor.

Is this the end?

Theo looked down at the letter with empty eyes. Those eyes that had once been filled with bright dreams had faded into dullness. He had stepped into the academy with determination to become a great magician. But now, he must face a cruel reality that bore down on him like a boulder.

I can do it next year. I can graduate next year. 

Hope felt like a delicious poison as he stood on the precipice of ruin.

Theodore Miller was born the eldest son of a disgraced noble family. The Miller family, who had once served their feudal lords as earls, had met their downfall a hundred years ago. The various attempts to re-establish their family had left nothing for Theo.

So, Theo had wanted to become a magician. Unlike those who had to bear harsh training from childhood, children with noble titles could enter the academy without much difficulty. He thought he was quite smart, so he convinced his parents and joined the royal academy.

However, that was all his family could do. Theo would go to sleep later and get up earlier than anyone else. He worked enthusiastically in class and practiced late into the night. Rather than blaming the scarce environment, Theo had believed he would be rewarded if he put in more effort.

Was I too optimistic?

His original classmates had graduated two years ago, and then juniors a year below him graduated. Now, there would be juniors two years younger than him who would accept their degrees.

Even the new students knew his name. He was the academy’s dunce. Theo would bring dishonor to the fallen Miller family.

Where did it go wrong?

Was it when the spells used in the first test had failed? When he had realized that his mana sensitivity was hopeless? When he had accepted his first repeater letter a few days before the graduation ceremony? When he had thought that his efforts had been lacking after receiving two letters?

Or maybe… when he first dreamt about becoming a magician.


He had never once resented his own poverty. There were people who ate less than him and those who couldn’t live in abundance. Even though their status had fallen, Theo was still a noble and had managed to enter the royal academy.

However, his patience was reaching its limit. The magic reagents which other students drank like water? One bottle would cost two months of the Miller family’s budget. Hiring another magician as a private tutor? He wouldn’t be able to afford one even if he sold the Miller estate.

Of course, many students graduated without using those methods. They simply increased their magic power with natural born talent. It was possible for someone to graduate if they were lacking either talent or money. However, Theodore Miller had neither.

“I should be heading back.”

As soon as the professor nodded in agreement, Theo turned around. He didn’t know how long he could maintain his composure. He could already feel it starting to crack. At the very least, he didn’t want the professor to see something so ugly.


The door closed with a harsher sound than when he’d entered. Professor Vince’s expression was complicated as he looked at the closed door through which Theo had disappeared, but the professor soon dropped his gaze back down to the book he was reading.

But the pages of the book weren’t turned for a long time.



The loud bell of a clock could be heard in the hallway, marking the beginning of the evening. Magic ensured that the volume was the same no matter where it was heard. Students staying in the dormitory had to remain at school after the bell, while students not staying in the dormitories were required to leave immediately.

As Theo blindly headed to the dormitory, he suddenly stopped moving.

“... Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten dinner yet.”

Should he go to the cafeteria now? He thought for a moment before shaking his head. The repeater letter had robbed him of his appetite. Should he go back to the dormitory and sleep? No, his drowsiness had been lifted a long time ago. It would be fortunate if he could avoid a nightmare tonight.

In the end, Theo’s footsteps headed to the same place as always.

It was a place that rarely had visitors, and it was the most comfortable place for him in Bergen Academy. The library.


Related Novels