During his youth, after Tyris had chosen him as the next King and gifted him true magic, Arthan Griffon would often laugh at how hard and convoluted fake magic was.
Without the countless legacies left behind by Awakened ones, most magical advancements would have been impossible.
What made fake magic invaluable, was that anyone with a strong enough mana core could practice it.
As for most things, there was strength in numbers.
By standing on the shoulders of the Awakened ones, fake mages had improved the lives of all those who lived in the Galen continent and beyond.
Thanks to Lochra Silverwing and many others, magical research was possible for fake mages too.
Some of them had made discoveries so great to put to shame even Awakened ones.
Arthan Griffon understood why the Awakened were so jealous of their secret.
It wasn\'t just a matter of power, but also of longevity.
A dog could live up to twelve years, a Ry up to forty, a Monster for hundreds of years, while Guardians were seemingly immortal.
If all mankind turned into Awakened ones, having children would eventually become a crime, forcing the various Royal families to cull their own population from time to time.
As Arthan grew old, he also grew envious of Tyris\' eternal youth.
He was unwilling to let his genius perish by the hand of something trivial as old age.
At that time, she interfered even less in the Kingdom\'s matters, letting humans take care of themselves.
After wasting years searching for an Awakened, Arthan had used most of the Crown\'s and Mage Association\'s resources to buy his way into immortality.
Failure after failure, his project became more ruthless and desperate, using the lives of his subjects to prolong his own.
Despite his secrecy, Tyris soon discovered Arthan\'s crimes, executing him on the spot and setting the canons that defined forbidden magic.
Arthan Griffon\'s name became a synonym of madness, a bogeyman used to scare the children and make them behave.
It\'s impossible! Tyris was flabbergasted.
I made sure to destroy all the blueprints and specifications of that evil contraption.
I left behind only the parts that could be used for medical research and even the few fragments left are heavily guarded.
Are you saying this is all her fault Salaark pretended to be outraged, pointing her finger at Tyris while her other hand switched the position of a few pieces on the chessboard.
There was no such word as defeat in her vocabulary.
No, I\'m not.
That\'s cheating, by the way. Leegaain put everything back into place with a wave of his hand.
What one man can invent another can discover.
Especially if he has access to the remaining pieces and has enough talent to reverse engineer the machine.
Judging from the result, our culprit is either a rare genius or someone that spent years improving Arthan\'s madness.
We are lucky to have found this place when we did.
Losing their latest specimen and all this equipment will set them back for years, especially now that we are keeping our eyes open for anomalies.
Okay, enough with the bad news.
Give us the good news too. Tyris gave Salaark a reproving look while making her next move.
That was the good news. Leegaain replied shocking them both.
Weren\'t you listening The setback, the ignorance about world energy and cores, the fact that they can at best create Abominations instead of Awakened, those are all good news.
The bad news is that when the new lab will be up and running, they only have to fix the humongous energy consumption problem and find a way to suppress the psychic maelstrom to be capable of turning whoever they want into the Abomination knock-off version of a Guardian.
After the end of the lessons, Lith\'s group resumed studying dimensional magic in Yurial\'s room.
It was the only subject they could prepare for in advance since they had no idea what they would do for Necromancy or Magic Crystals.
As for their specializations\' classes, the Professors were throwing the books away in favor of a more practical approach.
Friya and Phloria were worn out both physically and mentally.
Professor Thorman is a monster. Friya was still panting, incapable of catching her breath.
Three minutes of sparring, one minute of rest, three minutes of casting.
Rinse and repeat for two whole hours! If one fainted, he would just have a healer give them some life force and a sweet drink before starting again.
I don\'t remember ever wanting to take a shower so badly. Phloria added.
We can postpone our meeting.
Clean yourself, get some rest and get back here. Yurial\'s proposal was also for his own benefit.
He had spent his lesson learning how to handle the arrays\' activation order to alter their effects.
The problem was that the slightest mistake caused the arrays to cancel each other, forcing him to start over from scratch.
Each array was demanding on his focus and mana since Professor Juong had one of his assistants time the casting speed of each student.
Yurial had a splitting headache caused by the lack of mana, but was too prideful to call quits first.
- Please say yes.
Daddy needs some sleep.– He thought.
Thanks, but no thanks. Friya replied.
I am certain that the moment I touch my bed or hot water I\'ll fall asleep until tomorrow morning.
Quylla and Lith were the only ones in peak condition.
Quylla because she had no specialization aside healing, Lith because of Invigoration.
Despite their fatigue, the training went smoothly.
Friya turned out to be a natural at dimensional magic, managing to master Blink before dinner time.
Once she was able to cast it successfully ten times out of ten, she stopped practicing to rest and give tips to the others.
The canteen had never been so quiet during dinner.
Everyone was either too tired or depressed to speak, even Lith\'s group.
The clattering of the silverware was the only audible sound.
Sorry guys, I\'m too exhausted to do anything but sleep.
I\'d call it a day if it\'s okay with you. Yurial\'s proposal was unanimously approved.
Friya, Quylla please escort me to my room.
I\'m still without a Ballot and had enough of ambushes for today. Yurial faked a yawn, winking at Lith while Phloria wasn\'t looking.
- How nice of Yurial being your wingman. Solus thought.
Lith didn\'t reply, sighing in resignation instead.
Part of him found all that situation insane.
Despite his body was one of a twelve year old, his true age was around forty.
The more he thought about it, the more the idea of having a high school sweetheart sounded dumb.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
Another part of him was tired of being alone, a shadow in a world of lights.
That part of him was aware that the age gap would never disappear and that the longer he waited, the more excuses Lith would make up to keep isolating himself from the rest of the world.
After speaking with Yurial, he had realized how lonely it was to live trapped in a life of duty.
No one could force Lith to marry, but he already knew that after the academy he would be forced to train until he became sixteen, accumulating wealth for his future travels.
Then, he would join the army, starting his quest to find a body for Solus and a solution for his twice lifelong problem.
Lith didn\'t want to start over again, to find a new family, and most of all, to lose Solus.
He had already decided that if he couldn\'t find a way to prevent his next reincarnation, then he would settle for a way to achieve a permanent death.
He and Yurial weren\'t so different, after all.
Both wiser than their age and living on tracks they couldn\'t escape from.
Thanks for walking me to my door despite your horrible day. Phloria suddenly said, waking Lith from his stupor.
They were already in front of her room.
I don\'t know how you guys managed to attend your lessons after almost losing your lives this morning.
Especially you, Lith from Lutia. She smiled warmly at him, making his dark and light side clash against each other with growing intensity.
I wish to one day be as strong as you and be capable to protect all those I hold dear.
She unlocked her door and was about to disappear inside when Lith stopped her.
About that, there\'s something I need to give you. Phloria turned around, seeing he was handing her a Guilty Ballot.
I had Linjos remove my imprint, so now it\'s yours.
I can\'t accept it! What if something happens to you She pushed it away with both hands.
To me Lith chuckled.
I faced magical beasts, monsters, and assassins.
Yet I\'m still here.
Nothing in this academy, be it physical or emotional can touch me, but you are different. He placed the Ballot in her fingers, appreciating their warmth.
You still have feelings that can be hurt, a mind that can get scarred.
It\'s too late for me, I\'m beyond salvation.
Take it and promise me you\'ll have a happy life.
Both Phloria and Solus were on the verge of tears.
The former could only feel the pain behind those words, while the latter was seeing all of Lith\'s lives flashing in front of her eyes.
Phloria imprinted the Ballot before putting it away in her dimensional amulet.
I promise. She said closing the door behind her, incapable to face him any longer.
- Was it that hard Solus asked.
Actually, it was. Lith replied.
Good! Nothing that\'s worth having comes easy, remember Your words, not mine.–
Their bickering was interrupted when the door reopened and Phloria embraced Lith, giving him a quick, soft kiss.
Barely a peck.
Also I promise I will try to share that happiness with you.
No matter how thick skinned you have become, you are still alive.
Please, don\'t talk ever again as you are going to die at any moment.
She held him tight for a long second, giving his body and mind the time to react to the sudden turn of events.
Once again, a warm feeling spread through his being, like when he was in Elina\'s embrace as an infant.
With that also came the hunger.
The violent desire to fill the bottomless void that plagued his existence ever since he could remember.
His inner conflict resumed, part of him just wanted to drown in that warmth, while the other wanted to kill Phloria for being a liability, a weakness that could only lead to more suffering.
Was my first kiss that good or that bad for leaving you in a daze for so long She asked blushing in an adorable manner.
Woof. Lith\' brain short circuited because of the conflicting emotions, suddenly remembering his lost bet with Solus.
Phloria chuckled at his nonsensical answer, giving him a second peck before disappearing behind her door.
- Was it that bad Solus gloated.
Woof! Woof! Lith replied.
As most of the happy times of his lives, it wasn\'t bound to last.
An almost inaudible sound drew his attention, making Lith activate Life Vision, spotting three figures hidden behind pillars and corners.
Well, well, well.
The academy is so clean, yet the roaches are so big.
Three of them at that. He said out loud, making them come out in the open.
Without the advantage of surprise, hiding was just useless.
It\'s not the first time you follow us.
Why you don\'t run away as usual Isn\'t that what cockroaches do when you shed light on them Lith said with an amused voice.
The three students were all taller than Phloria, the shorter one was 1.82 meters (6\') high.
Yet they were all on edge.
Their goal had been the girl all along, none of them wanted to face Lith unless he was tied up and drugged.
His background check was intimidating on its own and the fact that he had just survived the attack of professional assassins was public knowledge.
They were three against one, all taller and heavier than him though.
He was also finally without a Ballot, so they only needed him to cast a spell in self defence to have him expelled.
At least in theory.
I can\'t believe you gave your Ballot to that wh*re even knowing we were here.
The leader swallowed a lump of saliva, looking at his companions to gain some confidence.
He didn\'t want to be there, but he couldn\'t disobey his mother.
Lith laughed maniacally.
What use do I have for a Ballot The rooms are all soundproof, why ruin our meeting with a recording device Lith\'s pupil dilated to the point of covering most of the iris, making his brown eyes seem to have turned black.
The corridors were lit by magic stones, fueled by the castle\'s power core.
In all the academy\'s history, they had never malfunctioned.
Yet when Lith moved forward, the lights flickered at his passage.