Victory Puzzle
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"Ralph Rubinstein, was it?" 

Don Brocious' calm voice tided through the shores of the room, sending all the teachers and professors on alert as they turned to face the head of the ocean blue round table. "What'd you say he did?"

"Sir," Professor Artie answered. "It seems he has defeated Rin Rubinstein in a mock duel between the two."

"Rin Rubinstein... The second year's second rank?" Don Brocious raised his eyebrow. "I don't remember such an outstanding individual from the entrance exams."

"That's 'cause he's not outstanding." 

"Really? I think it's his age to blame." Artie countered Claudio Alo's remark, passing off Don Brocious' scowl as a product of his imagination. "Ralph Rubinstein was the first to finish and was also very helpful as the brains of the first rank's group."

A few nods and 'ahh's rang out in the room. "Then why did you say he's not outstanding?" One of the nodding teachers asked Claudio.

"Remember the Stat assessment? He's the F-Ranked kid."

Nods and 'ahh's rang out in the room again, except the ones nodding had switched roles with the other party.

"F-Ranked?" Don Brocious muttered. "Now, I'll admit I'm old, but what kind of scam are you trying to pull me into? How can an F-Ranked student defeat the number 2 of the second year?"

The head of the table sighed exasperatedly and looked around the room. "Artie?" He called out.

Not bothered to answer back, professor Artie tapped on his watch and a holographic screen propped above the table. The wide purple screen displayed a student's picture with his stats and scores in different classes drawn out in graphs, while data on his skillset and abilities alongside what he needed to work on filled the bottom of the screen.

"That's Ralph?"

"The king himself."

"Tsk." Don Brocious ignored his friend's snark with a clap of his tongue and turned to the screen. He quickly skimmed through the profile, his eyes treating the meager attendance and the substantial academic knowledge as a speed bump. Other teachers and professors in the room also looked at the profile, though they knew there wasn't much for them to say about this topic on the agenda.

"Is he hiding something?" Yet, one of them blatantly proposed a theory.

Don Brocious looked at Claudio with an upturned gaze.

"Impossible." With a tap of his fingers, Claudio's screen took the stage, and pages after pages of Ralph's personal information started playing out a scene. "Raised by a single mother, who's very reputable in Mana Research. His past matches perfectly with what was submitted, a keen interest in magic and awakening alongside a jaw-dropping talent in Martial Arts of all types."

The certificates and letters Ralph had and hadn't submitted to the Academy appeared on the screen one after the other.

"His middle school was where his growth as an Awakener began and plateaued. His stats haven't increased at all since then. A star killed by fate, he is."

A look of annoyance filled Don Brocious' face at Claudio's words. Something being strange was always more convenient than it being normal and nice. "Anything about his father?"

"The entire family hates the man. No signs or chance for contact. As for the father himself..." Professor Artie said. He was the one who looked into most matters regarding the students' backgrounds and was the one who helped Claudio get the information he had. "He's currently employed as a drunkard and a beggar down in Yew Nork."

"That so?" Don Brocious sighed and interlocked his fingers. He sighed as he rested his elbows on the table and his face on his fingers. "So, how did he defeat his sister then? Huh?"

Another tide filled the room as Don Brocious posed the question. Unlike the calm wave that ebbed away, this time, the professors and the teachers in the room had their heads forced down and their gazes lowered at their inability to provide an answer.

An oddity had occurred in the Academy.

An oddity, they, out of everyone in the world, could not bear in the slightest.

If they couldn't figure anything out, cutting the student up and asking his intestines for an answer was also not too far off, figuratively.


Right then, the door to the meeting room opened wide, crashing against the walls on both sides. All the occupants of the room turned to the door to see the most beautiful and enchanting person they had seen in their lives.

"I hope I am not late," Isabella Ahlgrim, the flower that had fluttered into the room said. Her voice dripped with grace to the very last syllable.

"Miss Isabella," Don Brocious answered with narrowed eyes. "I believe you weren't ever invited, so no, you aren't late."

"I invited myself," Isabella quipped back.

"Would anyone like to give up their seat for Miss Isabella? No? Ok." Before anyone could answer, Don Brocious moved past his question and shrugged at the newcomer in the room. He was already displeased from thinking of the troubles he would have to go through to investigate the kid, and now the bothersome baggage the World Hunter's Association had pushed on them had come here.

"It's alright, I will stand," Isabella smirked and walked into the room. Her high heels clacked along the floor as the doors behind her closed themselves to the beat. "You see, your agenda for today interested me a lot."

"The Special Exam?" Artie asked.

"No, the kid. Ralph Rubinstein."

"Do you know anything about him, Miss Isabella?" Don Brocious asked.

"Of course. He knocked down that haughty sister of his a notch, right?" Isabella raised her chin and looked at the entire room provocatively. 

"Yes, and we are puzzled as to how he could have done that. Being an F-Ranked."

"That's simple," Isabella said. "It's because he's my pupil."



These guys are strangely casual with each other. What are the chances Isabella's fixing will really fix things?