"Oh?" Myr squinted.
According to what he knew, Annelotte hated Geoffrey deeply. Why did she agree with his proposal then? Did Annelotte's views of change because of her amnesia?
"But the barrier I'm referring to is different from the one His Highness proposed," Annelotte said.
"I wonder what form it would take, then?"
Geoffrey initially felt rather relaxed when he heard Annelotte's agreement, but the twist made him furrow his brow. Even though he really appreciate Annelotte's beauty, it wasn't nearly as fervent as it used to be. That woman was actually a gifted like his little brother and that point alone was enough for Geoffrey to feel enmity for her, just like Leguna.
"I believe the students we recruit shouldn't be judged based on their family background and statuses, but their actual talent and abilities. Only after making sure they're qualified to become proper magi will we spend money and effort to cultivate them."
"Then, Miss Annelotte, I wonder how you propose we should obtain the funds?"
"Even a low-order magus can make a sizable fortune. I agree that the empire shouldn't have to pay for their daily expenses. They will have to sort this out with their own abilities."
"However, Miss Annelotte, the low-order magus you mentioned have to be at least of the 6th stratum to be able to make the kind of money you're suggesting. What about the magi beneath that level? That's the most costly part of their journey and they won't be able to earn much money either."
Annelotte gave it some thought and responded, "I've mentioned that the academy will only take in talented individuals. Given that's the case, it won't take more than two to three years for them to make it to the 6th stratum."
"But what will they do before that? I'm sure it's clear to you that taking out a single copper will make Andro feel like we're peeling off his own flesh."
"We can let the students borrow loans from merchant guilds or work certain jobs for the academy. If it's not enough…" Leguna suddenly blushed at that point, "Leguna will take care of it!"
"What? You don't want to take charge?" she said, turning to glare at him.
"I can't be more willing, but I don't have any money.."
Annelotte pondered deeply and recalled that Leguna would do whatever she wanted as long as she threw a little bit of a fit.
Should I try it?
"I don't care!" she said stubbornly, "Think of a way to solve it!"
Leguna wiped the sweat off his forehead and unwillingly agreed. Since Madam Annie already said so, he'll think of a way! The bureau had quite the extensive information network, after all, so good use of it would generate some amount of money.
"I'm against this proposal," Geoffrey said, a little jealous of the unabashed flirting between the two, "Sir Leguna is the head of the bureau. His position is a sensitive one and if he uses it for personal gain, I'm afraid there won't be a shortage of mouths criticizing him."
"That's right, girl. It isn't a good idea."
Myr disagreed with her for once.
Annelotte fell silent. She knew that her proposal was a little too childish to begin with.
However, as she had lost most of her memories, she couldn't quite remember much of her plans for the academy. She had wanted to drop the position of principal of the new academy initially, but one important part of her memory kept reminding her that she had to do it to help Leguna.
Thanks to that, she had no choice but to read through her own files and tried to retrace her train of thought. But before she managed to think it through, Myr started the discussion phase, so she went in without much preparation.
Annelotte didn't understand why she had to help Leguna out in the first place. Putting aside the considerations of her old self, didn't Leguna look like nothing but a fellow who constantly pestered her? Why did she still want to help him?
She couldn't figure out the reason, but she only felt like she had to do so. It didn't seem like her memories were affecting her. In fact, it was more of an instinct. Had she been accustomed to helping him before?
Not only did she not understand what was going on, they even confused her quite a bit. That was why she proposed such a childish solution for the funding problem.
"Then, do you have any other solutions?" Myr asked in a low voice.
The matter of Annelotte's amnesia wasn't widespread. Myr had only made a brief report about it to Larwin and said that her memories were affected due to the poisoning, but it didn't affect her daily life.
But now, he felt a little troubled at the sight of her difficulty. He knew that Annelotte's proposal was no doubt sensible in the long run, but the more pressing matter was the fact that the empire's coffers were drained out. If they couldn't even sustain themselves in the short run, matters of the future were less of a concern.
"I can also rely on myself to make up for the spending of the academy," Annelotte said after much thought.
The matter came too suddenly. Had she time to prepare, she would've been able to deal with it, but now, she had lost her memories concerning this issue. There was no way she could come up with a solution to the problem that quickly, otherwise Andro would be driven out of his job as finance minister.
"That is indeed one way, but it isn't enough."
Geoffrey seemed a little too pushy, much to Leguna's dislike.
A few minutes of silence later, Leguna gave the other three a look and sighed. Of all the time he spent with her, it was the first time he'd seen Annelotte stumped and speechless.
He didn't know that the usual unrelenting Annelotte would actually react like that, so he didn't make a sound and wanted to see what she would do. But now, he couldn't take it any longer.
"Well, I would like to ask all of you one question."
"Just ask away, don't beat around the bush!"
While Myr seemed rather annoyed, he actually felt quite relieved that Leguna took the initiative to speak up.
"Your Highness, I wonder what the original purpose for setting up the magic academies was," he said after giving Annelotte a reassuring look.
"To expound on magic in a semi-public fashion following the Stokian model to nurture more combat magi or magic theory researchers," Geoffrey said.
"Good. Then, was it ever mentioned that the academies had to operate at a profit?"
"Of course not," Geoffrey said, shaking his head, "But you have to understand that without funding, the academies can't operate. In other words, even though money isn't our goal, it is still a necessity. In fact, it even has a higher priority than the end goal."
"I understand this perfectly well. Since that's the case, it's simple. Grandmaster Myr, I have a way that can solve this and I wonder if it might be suitable."
"Let's hear it then."
Myr could tell that he had devised a sneaky plan from the look in his eyes.
"As I've brought up, the magic academies were originally devised by His Imperial Majesty to nurture talent in the field of magic for our empire. Based on that, Annie's requirements for student recruits are in line with His Imperial Majesty's goal. However, as Your Highness has put it, funding is also something we have to consider."
"So? What's your solution to this?" Myr asked impatiently.
"My solution is simple. Let's use both ways!"
"Both ways?!" They were all puzzled.
How would that work? Could they really get the commoners and nobles to live in the same environment? How would the fees be set in that case?
"That's right. We have two academies set up. As far as I know, one is built in the eastern part of Melindor and the other is built in the west. Since the two academies are not connected, why does the recruitment policy have to align?"
"You mean to say that one academy will take in only nobles and the others will recruit talented commoners?" Myr managed to guess Leguna's plan.
"That's right--" He winked at Myr before continuing. "--I believe the noble young masters wouldn't want to study with commoners too, right? In that case, let's just segregate them completely. One academy shall cater to the rich young masters who have mountains of wealth to back them up. The other can focus on cultivating talented individuals who show potential. Even though their backgrounds are mediocre, with enough support, they'll still be able to become fine magi. That's the idea."
"But you still haven't solved the matter of funding the commoner academy," Geoffrey said, bringing back the topic at hand.
"It's simple--" Leguna shot him a scheming look. "--We'll get the noble academy to pay for it!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter