Every genre has its own formula. It’s what we call a cliché.
If you think about it, it’s only natural. To establish a set of a specific genre, there must be common elements.
For example, let’s take the classic hero’s tale. In my opinion, the format of this rather mundane genre is as follows:
The Demon King or adversary appears.
Heroes form a party.
Heroes embark on a journey to defeat the Demon King.
The process of defeating the Demon King’s subordinates unfolds.
One of the subordinates becomes infatuated with a hero.
At the end of the journey, the Demon King dies, and the world regains peace.
Based on this format, Ivan considered this world to be a classic hero’s tale.
However, now, Ivan was meticulously digging through Kim Sunwoo’s memories from 30 years ago to compile a list.
What’s the formula for academy stories?
Chapter 3: Gotta Expect a Terrorist Incident on the Academy Admission Train.
Even though Her Highness was throwing out ‘Winter is coming’ lines like she’s a Stark, she’s way off, man.
It’s January, no doubt, winter’s in full swing, and we just had an awesome New Year’s bash at the orphanage not long ago.
Basically, there’s still plenty of time before the school semester starts.
Ivan’s reminiscing about the stuff he impulsively burned down 30 years ago, yearning for it.
There were some academy stories in there, for sure. Names? Can’t remember, but they had stuff like demons sneaking into school, epic duels, mystics, or witches…
Jotting down what he’s got, it’s looking like this:
A typical school setup.
“Anything goes in academy.”
Literally, you can have anything from cowboys to demons showing up.
So, even assassins lurking behind the kids of the hero party are in the mix.
“Academies are always under attack.”
Sad truth, academies get invaded more often than frontline forts. Stats say that unless the main character doesn’t enroll, there’s like a 98% chance of an academy invasion.
“Demons are always lurking in academies.”
Demon King is history, Seven Dragons, it’s all history. Demons are either slaves or exiled to the ends of the Earth now.
Outta nowhere, right in the heart of the United Kingdom’s capital, and, of all places, it’s a dang academy. It doesn’t matter how tight security is; someone’s sneaking in.
So, supporters of demons or the demons themselves gotta be hiding out in the school for sure.
First things first, forget goblins or orcs, they stick out like a sore thumb, man. No way they’re hiding in plain sight.
Better believe it’s the shape-shifters like succubi and demons who are laying low.
“Among the undergraduates and staff, there are traitors.”
You gotta keep an eye on instructors who are acting all sketchy towards the main character.
Chances are they’re cozying up to the demon crew.
“Inside the academy, there’s gotta be some secret treasure troves or hidden relics.”
St. Jan’s Academy, it’s super new, like less than a decade old, right smack in the capital. But you just know there are ‘secret rooms’ or something hidden in there…
“The students can be divided into three main groups: regular kids, those with some demon connection, and government agents.”
And when we say ‘students,’ we’re not talking about bookworms. These guys are like walking accidents waiting to happen, and guess who’s gotta be the hero? Yep, you guessed it, the main character.
Then you’ve got the rest of the students, the quiet ones that nobody talks about and the ones who can’t stand the hero.
So far, it’s the usual school drama stuff. But here’s where it gets really interesting.
Students with demon connections, basically demon sympathizers, spies, or cultists.
“If they start causing problems, shut them down before they make things worse.”
The orphanage director, the former boss of the Cleanup Unit, really hammered this one home.
The best way to protect your crew is to eliminate the enemy.
“Next up, we’ve got government agents.”
When the rich and famous kids enroll, it’s a no-brainer to have agents watching their backs.
The twist is, these agents often have a side gig as spies for their own countries.
You can’t just take them out, though. Killing them would cause a diplomatic crisis since they’re technically students.
“There’s no age limit, so even active-duty agents from wartime can enroll.”
The orphanage director, the old Cleanup Unit head, was deep in thought, stroking his chin.
It would be easier if we knew who’s who. At least we could have a chat with them.
Ivan stared at the decorative hand axe on the office wall, lost in thought.
“Now, when an instructor says everything’s fine during exams, training, or any other academy situation, you better believe trouble’s on the way.”
That’s why companies should outsource safety inspections and ditch their own systems, man.
In a school where spies, killers, demons, and traitors outnumber the regular kids, there’s no safe spot except the principal’s office.
Even Dumbledore didn’t catch his last breath in there.
Normally, the position of principal or chancellor should be held by an administrator, but strangely, in the academy, it’s ‘common sense’ for the principal to be the strongest in the world….
“Now, let’s get to the real deal, the ‘ending conditions’ for school stories.”
The academy’s got two goals: ‘stay alive’ and ‘bring world peace’… Hold up.
If this world’s an academy story, then everything that’s happened so far is just the ‘backstory.’
Let’s break it down.
The Demon King made an appearance, the hero took him down, and peace was restored. But here we are, just four years after the war, and the United Kingdom is on the brink of chaos. All the nations are racing to rebuild, but it’s a competition for resources, and old colonial issues are resurfacing. In places where demons once held sway, countries are still mistreating demon slaves.
So, what’s the real deal here?
“World War? Nah, that’s too grand.”
If this is a school tale, it has to revolve around high school and college-aged characters. A world war would be too much for kids like that.
So, what then?
“Resurrection of the Demon King…?”
Ivan sipped his coffee, contemplating his notebook like it’s a puzzle he’s solving.
No matter how you slice it, that’s the most logical move. A story where the descendants of the hero party have to confront a revived Demon King to restore peace to the world.
Assuming the resurrection of the Demon King is a constant and the students drop out around their second year…. If we expect the academy invasion to occur at least a year later.
What’s the plan right now?
He jotted down one more line in his notepad, then grabbed his coat as he stood up.
“‘Terror always happens on the academy admission train (or whatever ride they’ve got).'”
Ever since Harry Potter, in a world with trains, it’s always academy admission by train. (Or if not, they use carriages. Either way, trains and carriages are easy targets for terror. Truth is, all forms of transportation are vulnerable. Even walking ain’t safe.)
This United Kingdom was using military trains left over from the war for regular travel.
And you can bet that military trains aren’t immune to terror. Ivan knows this from 18 years in the service.
Demons used trains too for transporting military goods, so Ivan’s had his fair share of stopping train terror and causing some. It got old after a while.
The Cleanup Unit’s missions always unfolded like that.
Today, Ivan was missing South Korea badly. Instead of dealing with stone eggs and tuna kimbap in a peaceful world, he was on this train, dealing with terrorism and demons.
He added macbanseok and tuna kimbap to his ‘List of Things to Eat When I Get Back to Earth.’
“Watch me, just watch! Y’all better watch how successful I’m gonna be!”
Ecdysis stood on the train platform with her gear bag and suitcase, puffing her cheeks and glaring at the crowd.
The crowd was holding up big signs to tease her.
-“Eldest daughter of King Einar the Great, top dog at St. Jan’s Academy!”-
She wasn’t even in second place, let alone first, but Ecdysis didn’t argue. They wrote that on purpose to see her reaction.
-“So proud of you! Drovian Kingdom’s finest! Gorgeous!”
-“In the blood of the great conqueror, Einar the Great! Takin’ on the world of orchestration!”
“Orchestration! So what?! What’s wrong with that?!”
Ecdysis shot back and hopped on the train.
Behind her, laughter echoed, “Hahaha!
Man, what a bunch of meanies. They couldn’t even cheer for her…!
The train pulled away, and she hid her face in her sleeves, tears flowin’ as she got farther from them.
The folks watchin’ her from beyond the train window scattered with low murmurs.
“Think she’ll find her courage?”
“She’s got plenty of dignity, of course she will!”
“Those folks from the Krasilov Kingdom are a bit slow, can’t fully trust ’em.”
“But hey, at least she’s not travelin’ alone. I’m sure she’ll do just fine on her own.”
The crowd that teased Ecdysis and King Einar’s attendants all went their separate ways, each sharing their concerns.
Daughter of ‘Butcher’ Einar Ulriksson, a hero party warrior. Ecdysis Einarsdotir.
Accepted into the Orchestration Section of the St. Jan’s Academy Music Department!
Just two days later, the train carrying Academy admissions from the Drovian Kingdom, near the Krasilov Kingdom’s border, derailed.
Naturally, it’s ‘common sense’ for a train heading to the academy to face terrorism, so Ivan wasn’t surprised.
Instead, he grabbed his pistol and axe.