White Griffon academy.
Over a month later, one week before the first exam of the fifth year.
The life of Friya Solivar Ernas had always been an emotional rollercoaster.
A speeding trap that kept her dozens of meters above the ground and which would never stop, no matter how much she screamed, cried or barfed.
Sometimes it would slow down, but only because another big fall was nearing.
She had wasted her childhood attempting the impossible task of earning her mother\'s affection.
After she turned twelve, she had been thrown in a dog eats dog environment.
Everyone in the academy wanted her to fail, hoping to get her place in the rankings.
Everyone in the Solivar Household wanted her dead.
Her brothers and sisters were afraid of the status she would achieve by becoming the first mage in the history of the household.
If Friya succeeded, being the firstborn or the line of succession would become meaningless.
She would become Duchess Solivar\'s right hand mage and inherit everything when mommy dearest took her leave.
Friya had spent so much time watching her back that her encounter with Yurial had been like seeing the sun after a perennial winter.
Thanks to his status and power, the environment turned peaceful, giving her the opportunity to relax.
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Meeting Quylla saved her soul.
Despite having a much harsher life than Friya, Quylla still had a gentle heart and only strived for affection.
She restored Friya\'s faith in mankind.
After giving her the equivalent of a sugar candy, the fourth year turned out to be the apex of her misery.
First, she had lost her family.
Being branded like a traitor, she had been forced to accept Lady Ernas\'s offer to adopt her.
Then, she had killed her first human in cold blood and lastly came Balkor.
Alas, the worse had yet to come.
All those events had pushed her to the brink, yet they also helped Friya to open up with her new parents and sister.
They had grown closer over time until she had stopped feeling a prisoner and became part of something bigger.
Until she felt part of the Ernas family.
Being loved unconditionally, having the freedom to decide about her future was something that in the past she could only dream about.
Now that she had everything, Friya was scared to death.
Scared to lose that safe haven and return to a cruel world that didn\'t give a damn about her.
She had no idea what to do with her life.
\'Being a Healer is a quiet job, but quite boring.\' She would often mentally list all the pros and cons of her available choices.
\'Also, I don\'t like people very much.
Spending my life helping others sounds like a waste of time.
The career of a Mage Knight is even worse, I would be killing people for a living.
I\'m sick and tired of fighting, I just want some peace.
\'It\'s absurd to ask a sixteen years old girl to decide her future.
Maybe I should take a sabbatical.
Until I find my answer, I can always be the Ernas Household\'s private magician.
Besides, the fifth year is still long.
I have all the time I need.\'
Quylla Ernas was having the time of her life.
She had a doting father, a creepy but caring mother, two wonderful sisters, and the house of her dreams.
Despite all the bad things that had happened, the fourth year had been the happiest of her life.
It had given her a place where she belonged and more importantly, a family.
She still had three more years before being considered an adult, but she had already planned her future.
After graduating, Quylla had decided to work as an assistant at the White Griffon\'s light department until she was old enough to apply as a Professor.
She had already discussed it with her mentors.
Even Manohar was enthusiastic at the idea and promised to endorse her application.
The thought actually scared her.
With the fickle genius\' reputation, his approval could do more harm than good.
Being a Healer and a teacher was her dream job.
It would give her the opportunity to improve the world around her while leaving her the time to start and nurture her own family.
After the winter break, with the start of her growth spurt, her confidence in her looks and talent skyrocketed.
Quylla was looking around for a boyfriend, but with little luck so far.
Orion apprentices were kind boys, but only saw her as a child.
As for her colleagues, those she liked didn\'t return her interest and vice versa.
Like a very shy fourteen year old boy that had already asked her out a couple of times.
Quylla would have preferred someone more assertive.
She was fed up enough with her own shyness to put up with that of others.
Yet his last move was bold enough to convince Quylla to give him a chance.
Xodard had gifted her a small ring.
I was nothing fancy, just a trinket a student of humble origins could afford.
It was the note it was wrapped in that mattered.
A charmed ring for a charming girl.
\'A cheesy pick up line, but it\'s still cute.
I\'ll wear the ring for our first date.\' She thought.
\'If things don\'t work out, I can always give it back.\'
The fifth year\'s subjects were demanding, but, unlike during the fourth one, no Professor assigned homework.
That left Yurial plenty of time to practice his skills as a Warden in the lab built inside his living quarter and to help Lith with his research.
\'It\'s amazing how the so called impossible arrays all require at least hexacasting and fine control over all the different mana flows.
Yet Lith manages to perform them at the first attempt thanks to his mastery of first magic.
Maybe I was wrong always dismissing it as inferior magic.\'
Their research progressed slowly.
Unlike everything Yurial had learned so far, each array seemed to have a complex function.
Casting them wasn\'t enough to obtain results.
To respond to an external trigger, the energies that formed the arrays had to be properly manipulated while holding the balance of the overall structure.
Over time Yurial became fascinated with them and learned how to cast them by himself, to experiment even when Lith was otherwise occupied.
Thanks to that exercises, Yurial\'s mastery of tier four and five arrays improved by leaps and bounds.
Sometimes, when he was focused on the mystical patterns, he could feel a burning sensation located near his solar plexus.
At first, he thought it was a coincidence.
After the phenomenon happened several times, he tried all of his diagnostic spells.
When none of them detected any anomalies, Yurial even asked for Manohar\'s second opinion.
Even according to the god of healing, there was nothing wrong with him.
The royal constable Jirni Ernas was nervously drumming her fingers on the armrest of her chair.
It was unusual for her being nervous, let alone impatient.
Like every predator, she knew the importance of biding her time, of choosing the time and place of the attack to not leave the prey the slightest chance of survival.
Yet all that waiting was wearing down her nerves.