As the year came to a close, a clear gap had emerged between the three of us and the rest of the students.
In matters related to magic, I was always on top, while in everything else, Leo consistently held the lead.
As for Kyrio…
“It’s tough being sandwiched between two monsters like you.”
She could only wryly comment.
When it came to magic, both Leo and Kyrio would seek my advice, and for everything else, Kyrio and I learned a lot from Leo.
That was a major reason why we stood out from the other students.
But it’s not like we hoarded knowledge among ourselves.
None of the other students ever came to ask me for tips. They resented Leo and me—especially me—for our good grades and talked about us behind our backs. Bob was the exception, openly hurling insults at us.
Leo and Kyrio, on the other hand, would often ask questions and sincerely listen to my advice.
That was the difference.
But maybe, from another perspective, the other students’ reactions were more natural.
Imagine it: an insignificant commoner suddenly surpasses the nobles, showcasing top-notch skills, and even receives favor from an influential person like Merlin.
That must be frustrating. On the other hand, it’s strange that Leo and Kyrio, both nobles, would humbly seek advice from me and follow it.
Pondering this, I once asked them if they were okay with seeking guidance from a commoner.
With a self-deprecating tone, Kyrio responded, “Being a noble is just a formality for me; our house is on the brink of disappearing anyway. Personally, I don’t care about whether someone is a noble or a commoner.”
And then, Leo laughed.
“You excel in areas where I do not. It would be absurd not to acknowledge that. It’s only natural to seek advice and learn from those who are superior in certain aspects.”
“That’s surprising, Leo. I mean, you seem so prideful.”
“Nonsense. My pride isn’t so fragile that it would be wounded just because I acknowledge that you surpass me in some aspects. I am the fist, and you are the sword.”
“It’s a metaphor. By acknowledging that the sword is stronger than the fist, does the value of the fist diminish?”
Smiling, Leo said just that.
What he said was correct.
While I was unmatched in magic, Leo excelled in everything else.
Perhaps it was his ogre blood, but his physical abilities were extraordinary.
Even when I enhanced myself to the limit with magic, I still got thoroughly beaten by Leo in hand-to-hand combat training. That’s when I realized the true meaning of being outmatched.
In classroom learning as well, Leo topped everyone but me in subjects other than magic. During history lessons, he would display a depth of knowledge and understanding that overwhelmed even the teachers.
With Leo tutoring me and Kyrio in his free time, it was inevitable that our grades would improve.
Thus, by the end of the year, Leo was first in overall grades, I was second, and Kyrio was third.
Transitioning into the second year, the days of smooth sailing from our first year took a sharp turn into a series of shocks.
It’s not that my academic performance dropped or that my relationship with Leo and Kyrio worsened. The harassment from the other students actually decreased, though Bob was as hostile as ever.
The reason I was shocked was because, in our second year, we began studying Shaark’s detective system and the methods of criminal investigation.
Unlike a police organization, individuals would investigate cases. I was initially thrilled to delve into this, but from there, it was one shock after the other.
What baffled me was the sloppiness of it all.
Suspects were identified based on found evidence and motive alone, followed by coercion to extract a confession. Once that was done, they were handed over to the judiciary, and that was that. The investigation was complete.
The credibility of the evidence was never questioned, and proper investigation procedures and steps were nonexistent. There was no trace of the logic and reasoning I had dreamed of.
That was the current state of affairs.
I was foolish.
I realized that immediately.
It was a mistake to think that logic and reasoning would have a place in the investigative world of this personal, subjective world.
A deeper look revealed that the legendary detectives who solved major cases each had their own effective methodologies, but if these weren’t shared, then they weren’t passed down or systematized.
As a result, investigative techniques hadn’t advanced at all.
I had misunderstood.
Even the famous detectives I admired operated within systems where there were police organizations, systematic investigations, and protocols. And yet, they solved cases that slipped through the cracks of those systems.
In other words, organized investigations, standardized procedures, methodologies, and scientific techniques for examination were all prerequisites. These were so fundamental that they often went unnoticed in detective novels or were overshadowed by logic and reasoning.
This isn’t merely a matter of my personal interests. With investigations conducted in this manner, we’re practically parading through a carnival of wrongful convictions and perfect crimes.
The crime records speak for themselves – countless cases remain unsolved or cast doubt on the guilt of those convicted.
In fact, such cases are likely in the majority, a realization that struck me with sheer dismay.
Something must be done about this.
I felt a pressing urgency at that moment.
It’s not out of vanity or self-importance, but with the memories of my previous life, I believe there’s something unique that only I can accomplish.
And so, from the second half of my sophomore year, I dedicated myself to this task.
First and foremost, I needed a set of standards.
I recalled my conversation with Leo about mystery quizzes and his impressions of them.
Determining what is reasonable is imperative.
What conditions must be met to deem someone the perpetrator? What kind of evidence can be considered credible?
These questions and more demanded universal criteria applicable to all, the very antithesis of individualism.
Next came the standardization of procedures and methods – determining the correct approach to investigations. For this, I incorporated the techniques I’d cultivated during my time as a detective.
Report writing, in particular, received attention. I created a template for documenting cases, believing that standardizing the format of our records could make a significant difference.
As for the actual investigative methods and techniques, I acknowledged my limitations, given my background as a mystery enthusiast turned detective.
Instead, I set up a process to gather, systematize, and optimize the various effective investigative techniques employed by detectives in this world. Indeed, there is nothing quite like drawing upon the wisdom of those who have gone before us.
Even though it was still riddled with holes, by the time a rough overall picture had formed, the second year had somehow come to an end, and we were in our third year.
In a corner of the cafeteria, the usual trio of us had gathered.
“So, you’re done with yours?”
“Show us, show us.”
Naturally, the first people I showed my newly completed draft to were Leo and Kyrio. Until then, I hadn’t shown it to anyone out of embarrassment, secretly writing in my dorm room alone.
“Wow, you’ve written about all sorts of changes.”
Kyrio, who had gradually become more approachable, commented as she read.
“Right? I tried to step outside the box and go against the usual norms of Shaark, no, Pangaea.”
“Hmm, it might be a bit too progressive for me to understand.”
Kyrio pondered, while Leo, on the other hand, had been silent the whole time.
“Leo, I’d like to hear your thoughts or advice. I’m thinking of using this as a springboard for my graduation thesis.”
Even when I urged him, Leo didn’t respond.
Finding this strange, I looked at him closely. Leo, his eyes wide open, was trembling all over while still looking at my draft.
It was my first time seeing Leo like this, and as I stood there, bewildered…
Suddenly, Leo roared and ran off.
Kyrio and I exchanged puzzled glances.
Then, in a matter of seconds, Leo was back, running at an incredible pace, clutching a few sheets of paper in his hand.
With that, Leo thrust the papers at me.
I felt compelled to take them and started reading.
And then, my eyes widened.
It appeared to be a draft of Leo’s thesis.
It was about Shaark’s current judicial system, proposing a reform.
And the proposal was incredible.
First, it suggested changing the current situation where clergymen and nobles reign as judges. It proposed making dedicated judges a qualified profession. Yes, it completely transformed the judge’s role, which was currently seen as a sublime duty, into a profession.
Just the idea itself was amazing. I, with memories of the previous world, could come up with something like this, but for someone born in this world to think of it was astounding.
I was impressed.
Moreover, it proposed changing the current judges’ biased judgments to ones based on universal and clearly defined standards, suggesting a substantial revision of the laws for this purpose.
Up to this point, there were parallels to my own proposals for reforming criminal investigations.
But what truly astonished me was what came after.
The thesis proved that this reform proposal was not merely a flight of fancy but a historical inevitability and in accordance with divine will, citing a vast amount of literature, scriptures, and history.
Its persuasiveness was on a completely different level from my own thesis.
I couldn’t help but mutter.
Compared to this, my own thesis was nothing more than wild speculation.
“Don’t be stupid. Compared to yours, mine is just empty talk.”
But Leo, with a biting look on his face, said that.
It was the first time I had seen such a face on him, and both Kyrio and I were surprised.
Anger and jealousy were unmistakably expressed on his face.
“This thesis lacks any concreteness. Changing just the court system is impossible. The court is a place for judgment. Making it universal and rational is useless if the objects and materials being judged remain antiquated. I knew that, but…”
Leo glanced at my thesis with annoyance and then looked back at me.
His eyes were a mix of respect and jealousy.
“You bloody genius. So you were working on that part. It’s really good to have become friends with you.”
“My piece still has a long way to go. Unlike yours, it lacks any persuasiveness.”
“That’s fine. Let’s work on making it persuasive together. In return, let me revise my thesis using your proposal on investigation.”
“Oh, yeah. S-Sure, go ahead.”
“Really, what a strange story. It seems like our theses are two halves of a whole. But with this and Merlin’s backing, along with my position as a noble, perhaps our theses could change this country.”
With that, Leo’s eyes gleamed with excitement.
Kyrio spoke up.
“What is it?”
Leo’s expression suddenly returned to calm.
“You’ve been acting differently since a while ago. Are you that obsessed with judicial reform?”
Leo shook his head plainly.
“What I am obsessed with is reform itself. I am a genius.”
Suddenly, Leo started saying such things.
“I have been blessed with family background, physical strength, and intelligence. Everything. I have power. Those with power have missions. Obligations. Don’t you think?”
“Hence your proposal of judicial reform?”
To my question, Leo smiled slyly.
“No. In other words, it’s my duty to change the world. The means don’t matter. I just want to try changing the world.”