Chapter 1-2 : Graduation
Royal Alchemist Training School.
That was the only school in this country where you could obtain the national qualification as an alchemist from.
If you graduate from that school and get a qualification as an alchemist, you will be guaranteed to lead an easy and stable life.
However, the competition rate was high, and it was very difficult not only to enroll in the school, but also to graduate.
The Royal Alchemist Training School was such a super-difficult school.
Alchemists were considered to be elite people.
Not only did they have the ability to make potions and artifacts, they could also make a lot of money by selling them.
Because these items are essential in people’s daily life, there was always a shortage of supply to meet people’s demand, that’s why the price was very high.
The price was controlled by the country, and excessive price reductions were not allowed.
In other words, the price will remain high, even if you lower it.
If you select your products carefully, you don’t have to worry that your products won’t sell.
Therefore, if you become an alchemist, you will never starve.
You can earn enough money even if you don’t work that hard.
One of the characteristics of the Royal Alchemist Training School was that anyone could enter the school as long as they made an effort.
Not only aristocrats and commoners, but also orphans had the opportunity to enter.
The knowledge required for the entrance exam could be learned from the textbook which you could borrow for free after you register.
Even the registration to take the exam was free.
Well, it was all free, but if you can’t even read letters, there’s nothing you can do.
However, you can study letters even in an orphanage, so it all depends on your efforts.
Moreover, if you became a student with outstanding academic results, not only would you be exempted from the tuition fees, but you would also get a scholarship. Also, there was prize money for students who score high every time an exam was held.
In a sense, this school was a place that had an “if you are willing to study, we will make your life easier” environment.
But, because of that, the chance to be accepted into the school was very low.
For commoners and orphans, alchemist was the only occupation for them to change their social status, so there were so many commoners and orphans applicants.
Of course, the entrance exam would be very strict and difficult.
Furthermore, the aristocrats, who hired excellent tutors, were also taking the exam, so it was impossible for the commoners and orphans to beat them if they only made a little effort.
And even if they managed to pass the entrance exam, they still couldn’t be relieved.
There would be exams held every four months. If their scores didn’t reach a certain level, they would be mercilessly expelled from the school.
And of course, there was no retest, make-up test or anything. This applied even for aristocrats.
As a result, only less than 10% of the students were able to attend the graduation ceremony that was held every five years, and I, Sarasa Feed, managed to graduate from that super-difficult school.
Ahh~ That was very hard!
Huh? My impression after graduation?
Well, I didn’t have time to think about it.
After all, I was busy with the final exams until yesterday, you know?
The test results were announced this morning.
I was so nervous last night and even had a nightmare that I failed and couldn’t attend the graduation ceremony…
Well, students who didn’t pass the final exams are rare though, because the remaining 10% students were the ones who had survived numbers of difficult exams during the school period. Therefore, the students who took the final exams were those who had an outstanding academic result.
But, if you don’t concentrate enough on the exam, you might fail.
However, everyone was more enthusiastic in the final exam than the usual exam.
Because… Well, it will be very embarrassing if you’re the only one who can’t attend the graduation ceremony, right?
The only risk was… maybe if you get sick?
Everyone knew that, and they did their best to maintain their physical condition.
If anyone worried about their physical condition several days before the exam, they would rather choose to take a break from school for a while rather than get sick on the day of the exam.
Of course, I also did my best!
Not only In studying, but also in maintaining my physical condition!
As a result, I received the prize money from the final exam, along with my diploma.
I’m really grateful for the money.
I lost my parents in an accident when I was eight, and after that incident, I was taken to the orphanage.
Since then, all I’ve been doing was studying to escape from reality.
I troubled everyone in the orphanage because of that, but they didn’t stop me from studying but supported me instead, because there was a tacit understanding in the orphanage that everyone had to support those who were aiming to enter the Alchemist Training School.
In return, the orphans who successfully became alchemists, would be sending donations for the orphanage. This was also a tacit understanding.
We didn’t live in poverty thanks to the donations from the senior orphans who have successfully become alchemists.
And finally, my two years of studying in the orphanage paid off.
I passed the entrance exam with an excellent grade as an orphan.
I got free tuition, scholarship qualification and the qualification to live in the dormitory.
Because of that, I was able to leave the orphanage at the age of ten.
After entering the school, I spent all my time studying while doing a part-time job.
Fortunately, I was hired as a part timer at an alchemist’s shop, and ended up as a disciple of the shop manager there.
Thanks to that, I could learn more about alchemy while doing my part-time work, so I was able to keep my academic ability at a level where I could receive the reward money from exams.
However, I rarely got the top place in every exam, but I was lucky, because all the students above me were aristocrats.
Eh? Why do I say ‘I was lucky’, you ask? Well, it’s because there’s a ‘custom’? Or should I say a ‘tradition’? About the reward money from exams.
Originally, the reward money was only given to the top three students every exam.
But, there was a social trend that was close to “Noblesse Oblige” among aristocrats to refuse the reward money.
*/Noblesse oblige is the idea that people with higher social class should help people with lower social class.
Therefore, the reward money that they refused would be given to the top three non-aristocrat students.
Thanks to that social trend, I have received prize money from most exams.
Of course, for the aristocratic students, refusing the money wasn’t compulsory, because that was just a trend, but the pride for being an aristocrat made them refuse the money anyway.
However, there were also aristocrats who gladly received the money. But most of them were the lower-class aristocrats who were even poorer than commoners.
I was really grateful to this social trend because I was able to save more than 5,000,000 reas by the time I graduated.
Normally, a commoner could only earn 500,000 reas a year, so that means my savings was about 10 times the commoners’ annual income!
Ahh~ I really did my best! Good job, me!
Well, more than half of that money was from scholarship and the prize money, but the rest was from the money I earned from my part-time job.
Because I lived in the dormitory, I didn’t need to pay rent and food expenses,so I rarely spend my money, but still… earning this much money just by using the time I had between classes and study time was really tough.
Thankfully, the daily salary of my part-time job was about the same as a commoner’s full-day earning.
Well yeah, I know, this is not the amount that can normally be earned from just a part-time job.
I could earn that much because I was working as an apprentice alchemist at a master-class alchemist’ shop.
If an apprentice alchemist can earn that much, just imagine how much can a professional alchemist earn!?
That must be much much more than that!
And from today, I AM that professional alchemist!
I took out the Alchemist License that I received at the graduation ceremony from my pocket and looked at it.
It was made of a mysterious substance that was close to thin metal but very light and flexible.
An alchemist mark, my name and the Royal Alchemist Training School graduation certificate were engraved there.
Furthermore, my magic crest was also recorded, and it even had a mechanism where everything that was engraved in my license would disappear when someone else touched it.
This license was a really good example of a masterpiece made with alchemy.
Mu fu fu~
Staring at my alchemy license, I smiled unintentionally as I rested my cheek on the other hand.
I might look suspicious, smiling alone while staring at my license in front of the gate like this.
Yes, I’m alone…
The graduation ceremony is over, and it’s time for me to start my new life as an alchemy.
But… here I am. Standing alone while smiling suspiciously in front of the school gate.
Well, All I’ve been doing was studying and working these past five years.
Because of that, no one came to congratulate me.
In my surroundings, there were graduates who were reluctant to say goodbye to their juniors, and those who were talking with their family while crying in joy.
I was the only one who was different.
Because… I didn’t have someone beside me.
B-But it’s not that I’m lonely or anything, okay!?
――No… I’m lying…
Actually, I do feel a little lonely… Just a little.
Well, it couldn’t be helped.
After all, I was always studying and working, so I barely made conversations with others.
If you rarely talk to other people, you can’t make friends, right?
That’s why I had almost no friends.
So, it’s not that I didn’t have friends at all.
Until last year, there were two seniors who got along well with me.
There was also a junior who became friends with me through my seniors’ connection.
However, both of my seniors graduated last year, and now they were working in different towns, so they were not here in the royal capital.
I still keep in touch with them through letters, but I’m sure they are busy with their new life as alchemists now, that’s why I couldn’t ask them to come all the way to the royal capital just for my graduation ceremony.
Speaking of letters, other than buying necessities, I only spent my money to pay for the mailing cost.
As for my junior, unfortunately she didn’t feel well from a few days ago, so she didn’t come to my graduation ceremony.
She said she would come, but her regular exam was right after the graduation ceremony.
I couldn’t let her fail just because she came to my graduation and got sick, so I strictly said, “Don’t ever come! You should take a rest and get better!” to her.
Exams were a serious problem that could affect someone’s whole life, so I definitely didn’t want her to fail.
「I think it’s about time to go…」
It was a little painful for me to stand alone in this atmosphere.
The gazes of suspicion that I felt were probably not just my imagination.
I turned back and looked up at the school building where I had spent my five years.
Most of the time I was only studying, but there were still other fun memories here.
At least, thanks to studying, I wouldn’t have any trouble in my life, so I thought my student life here wasn’t that bad.
Once I’m out of the gate, I have to walk alone toward my new life.
With determination in my heart, I turned around and walked through the school gate.