After Professor Marth finished healing Lith\'s arm, the bandages were removed, revealing that it was back to normal, except for one small detail.
Unlike the rest of his body, that still retained his normal colour, it was pale like it had never seen the light.
Marth didn\'t miss the silent question in his eyes.
Sorry, I don\'t know how Manohar manages to do that.
In theory it\'s impossible for new skin to retain any kind of tan, but that doesn\'t stop him from doing it anyway.
Then, whispered in Lith\'s ear:
It\'s better if you go to Manohar later, if the skin problem bothers you.
I don\'t feel like bringing him back here would be a good idea.
Lith nodded, both the Headmaster and his father probably wouldn\'t be able to take in another one of his pep talks.
Professor, you have yet to tell me what happened after I lost consciousness. - Thanks to Solus, Lith already knew the answer , but he needed to pretend to be curious about it.
But it\'s better if you hear it from the ones that actually saved your life.
It took quite some effort to force your friends to leave your bedside and get some rest.
His parents were moved, hearing their son had such dedicated friends, Lith not so much, since it made crumble another chunk of his personal beliefs.
It also raised a creepy question.
- Solus, since now I\'m wearing an hospital nightgown, please, tell me Manohar didn\'t strip me in front of the others.
No, he didn\'t. She giggled.
But there would be nothing wrong with it, you are all doctors after all.
True, but if the situation was reversed, do you think any girl would like being seen naked by three of her male friends
It depends on the friends, I guess. There was a hint of malice in her words.
Okay, that\'s it. Lith decided to solve the matter once and for all.
Solus, what\'s happening to you Ever since we came to the academy, from time to time you try to fix me a girl or another, say something inappropriate, like right now.
People aren\'t just slabs of meat, they have feelings too.
That\'s rich, coming from you! For the first time since they had met, Lith could sense her anger.
He didn\'t reply, waiting for Solus to vent out.
Since when do you care for feelings All you do is lying to manipulate everyone, fight like a madman, amass power, rinse and repeat.
Have you ever thought about my feelings About how scared I am every time you do something stupid, putting your life at risk like it\'s nothing
Or how envious I am of all of you, free to talk, laugh, walk in the sun, while I\'m trapped all the day inside a ring of stone, living my life through you And to be honest, is not much of a life.
You have so many people that love you, so many chances to get close to others and become real friends, instead of just pretending.
Yet you always reject them like trash, and that makes me furious.
You know, maybe the Scorpicore was right.
Maybe I really am a cursed object, because this life sometimes really feels like a curse. –
Despite she had no tears to shed, to Lith it was like she was bawling her eyes out.
It made him feel terribly guilty and helpless.
Too often he had closed himself to her, either to study or practice, speaking only to ask her help.
They had been together for so long, yet he still sometimes treated Solus like some kind of home appliance.
Lith couldn\'t deny anything she had said.
To him people were just tools, while feelings were a useless burden.
- I\'m sorry, Solus.
I don\'t know what to say.
All this time I never stopped considering how you felt, always taking your happiness for granted.
It\'s not entirely your fault. She mind-sniffed.
I never shared my worries with you, because I was afraid you wouldn\'t care or understand.
Thanks for proving me wrong. A warm aura spread from her consciousness, the equivalent of a hug.
By my maker, it was all so much easier when we just met.
With me being content just with surviving, learning new things every day.
But now, knowledge is not enough anymore.
I want to feel, I want to experience, and you are my only window to the world.
I should be the one apologizing, for being so pushy all this time.
Well, maybe between Necromancy and Forgemastering, we can find a way to give you a proxy body.
A corpse or a golem Thanks, but no thanks.
I already feel like a monster, sometimes, I don\'t need to also look like one.
Besides, I think life isn\'t a problem to be fixed, more like something I need to decide if it\'s worth having. –
Lith didn\'t like at all how the conversation had turned out.
His only true friend was suffering, and that wasn\'t something he could just passively accept.
After changing into a new uniform, he let Professor Marth call for his \'friends\', that despite the short notice arrived incredibly fast.
Normally, Lith would have found a way to avoid the inevitable group hug that ensued, but Solus\' words were still ringing in his ears.
- Progress, not perfection. – He repeated in his mind, like a mantra, resisting the revulsion that the physical contact with those four strangers arose at instinct level.
They drowned him in questions about his health, repeating more than once how they had thought to have lost him.
Elina was moved to the tears, seeing their affection for her child.
Guys, allow me to introduce you to my parents, Raaz and Elina.
At those words, they finally released him.
Raaz shook their hands, while Elina embraced them tightly.
If you ever come to pass in our village, you will always be welcome in our home.
I\'ll never be able to thank you enough.
After a few niceties, Lith prompted them to tell him what had happened after he crashed into the spatial crack.
Despite already knowing everything, he remained impressed by their focus and dedication during such a critical moment, to the point of remembering the finest details.
Obviously, with Linjos present, they overlooked all the punching part.
Then it was Lith\'s turn to express his gratitude.
A simple thank you and a handshake was fine for Raaz, who was a stranger to them.
Not to mention he was quite intimidated.
For all he knew they could all be prince and princesses.
Lith had no choice but to put a big smile on his face and hug them one by one.
While for the others he managed to perform a in and out kind of hug, when it was Quylla\'s turn, she locked him in place.
Lith could feel her hands running over his back, while she sunk her head in his chest, sobbing a little.
After a few seconds, the situation became really awkward.
Everyone was looking away, until Raaz saw the silent plea for help in his eyes and said:
Son, what do you want to do Do you want to come back home, change academy or stay here We\'ll respect your decision, whatever it is.
Only then Quylla finally let him go and hid behind Friya, blushing wildly after having realized what she had done.
Lith pondered for a while.
Despite all its flaws, the White Griffon academy was still the safest place for him.
Other academies would probably discriminate him for his origins and past, forcing him to constantly watch his back.
Also, he still had to solve the mystery of the boxes in his pocket dimension, find a way to avert the dryad\'s prophecy and to save Solus from her misery.
She could refuse his help all she wanted, Lith would never give up on her without a fight.
I want to remain here, dad.
I think I need them as much as they need me.