A few days later, Marchioness Distar summoned Lith once again, this time in a proper polite way, giving him time to prepare and an explanation for their meeting.
They met in a neutral territory, in Count Lark\'s lounge.
Contrary to etiquette, the noblewoman stood up when he entered the room, making a curtsy even before Lith had greeted or bowed to her.
Welcome, young mage.
Thanks for saving my daughter\'s life.
No one knows how much time she had left in such conditions.
I actually do. Lith thought with a cruel inner smile.
She had barely two weeks left when I first visited her, before her organs started failing one after the other.
Luckily, she has a tough skin, so I wasn\'t forced to play the sink or swim healing attempt.
I wouldn\'t have cured her before at least five days, my safety comes first.
I can waste time and lose opportunities, but I will not gamble my whole life for a stranger, no matter who he or she is!
Also, I have several reasons to apologize to you.
First, for how I treated you.
I was rude and condescending.
I shouldn\'t have tried forcing your hand, but I was desperate at the time.
Your sister was ill too, I hope you can understand me.
Lith inwardly sneered.
You only say this now, because I succeeded and you are afraid of needing my help again in the future.
I feel no compassion for the likes of you.
No need to apologize, your Ladyship.
Life sometimes burden us with a weight we are unable to carry, and desperation can make even the best of us lose his morals. Was what he actually said.
He needed a new and more powerful backer.
Being friends was of secondary importance, their relationship was strictly business related.
It was important to lay solid foundations for it, putting aside pointless grudges.
But he wouldn\'t forgive nor forget.
If she failed or betrayed his trust, it was a good thing that revenge is a dish best served cold.
The Marchioness shook her head.
I think that your forgiveness is still undeserved.
I lied to you that day.
I have no authority outside my Marquisate, so I cannot guarantee your successful enrolment in any academy outside the Lightning and White Griffon.
Her gown had many small pockets, hidden by the complex embroideries.
From one of those, she took out a ring bearing the King\'s crest.
It\'s a long and boring story… She said looking furtively at Count Lark, suppressing an ironic laughter.
...but what it matters is that at the moment in my Marquisate I hold a power on par with the King, so both academies can only accept my orders.
Lith wasn\'t yet completely convinced that going away, even for just two years, was the best course of actions.
He decided to test the waters first.
Wouldn\'t be possible to be home-schooled If you hold such authority, it should not be a problem giving me the same benefits I would get from an academy and private tutors.
After all, the location isn\'t that important.
It actually is.
The forests surrounding the academies play a big part in both the points and grades system.
Also, yes, if you insist, I could achieve what you asked, but bear in mind that my situation is merely temporary.
Once the Court finishes deliberating the current matter, everything would get back to normal and I\'m not sure to have all the resources you\'ll need.
On the other hand, if you enrol in an academy now, it would be like according to a King\'s decree.
And once inside, even if I lose my almighty status, you would be protected by the rules of the kingdom and of the Mage Association.
No one would be fool enough to make an enemy out of the King.
Archmages and Royalty are deeply intertwined.
It sadly makes sense. Lith inwardly sighed.
It\'s best to exploit the situation to its fullest.
Between her desire to make up to me, no matter her reasons, and her temporary King status, I should be able to get some extra safety measure.
If only half of what Nana told me is true, I\'ll need every advantage I can get to avoid useless drama and pointless face-slapping.
I think that going to the Lightning Griffon is out of question, the Headmistress will probably want my head on a stick either way.
I wouldn\'t be so sure. The Marchioness replied.
Anyhow, with your talent as a healer, I had guessed you wanted to go to the White Griffon.
You do know it\'s the school with the biggest light magic department, right
But of course. Lith lied through his teeth.
But I\'m also quite interested in the art of forgemastering.
Which academy would be the best choice for such specialization
Any of them. Marchioness Distar shrugged.
They all have good Forgemasters, but the great ones avoid academies like the plague.
Artists like to be free, while in an institution they have to take care of paperwork, teaching, the student\'s items.
All things that would keep them away from their research.
Not to mention that for an academy Forgemaster, keeping the nature of his research secret is much harder.
To get funds from the academy, you have to share.
All great mages hate sharing.
That piece of news reassured Lith.
White Griffon it is, then.
How long will the trip take Lith recalled that Nana once stated that the academy was more than five hundred kilometres (311 miles) away from Lustria.
Even if it was just for an audience, he would need to pack some clothes.
From my house Considering that we first have to speak with the Headmaster, and then you have to take your admission exam, I\'d say three, four hours tops.
You\'ll get home in time for dinner, that\'s for sure.
Lith found difficult to do the math.
Even flying at his top speed, he would need at least two hours to get there and back, not to mention that the Marchioness didn\'t seem the type to fly that long, messing her hair and dress right before meeting the Headmaster.
But they were already off a rocky start, Lith preferred to pretend to have understood everything, instead of flaunting his ignorance once again, destroying that little of respect he had gained so far.
Seeing his conflicted expression, the Marchioness completely misunderstood the situation.
Don\'t worry, young mage.
It\'s just the admission exam.
You will get the opportunity to say goodbye to your family and friends.
The academy will not start before another two months.
You have plenty of time to settle all your business.
Lith thanked her with a deep bow.
Please, don\'t thank me yet.
I hope you\'ll accept this as part of my apologies.
She handed him a communication amulet, very similar to all those he had seen up to that point, except for the fact that it had only one rune on it, right on its center.
To mark it as your own, just send some mana in the stone. Lith did as instructed, both the gemstone and the lone rune lit up, like they had become scorching hot.
To exchange your contact rune, you just need to make two amulets touch while they are activated. Both the Count and the Marchioness held their amulets out, every time they touched, their rune got impressed on Lith\'s amulet and vice versa.
The Marchioness amulet was completely covered in runes already, to accommodate the new one, all the other runes shrank in size, just enough to leave enough space for another of the same dimension.
There\'s no limit to the number of contact runes an amulet can hold. She explained.
This will help you get in touch with me or Lark if anything happens.
It will also make staying in touch with your family easier. She gave him a little box, holding a second amulet.
Only one person can activate it.
So, your family has to choose wisely.
Lith bowed profusely, that gesture had taken a big burden off his heart.
She had explicitly offered as his backer, and thanks to the amulet he could always help his family through the two nobles, if necessity arose.
The appointment was set at the Marchioness\' house at noon.
Lith always had trouble with time, so he arrived early, to stay on the safe side.
Servants treated him with the utmost respect, but were unable to hide their surprise
Clearly the rumors in the house had spread fast, and he probably didn\'t fit the image of the great healer that saved the young mistress that they had pictured in their heads.
Marchioness Distar made him wait but a few minutes.
She wore a simple day dress, her long hair down.
It was impossible to suspect that she was actually the Lord of the entire region.
You are already here.
On foot! Lith couldn\'t avoid asking.
We could take a stagecoach, but it\'s a waste of time.
The Mage Association\'s branch is right there. She pointed to another luxurious building, not even a hundred meters (110yards) away.
Lith bit his lower lip, thanking fate for being still short enough to make impossible for her noticing his shocked expression when he wasn\'t looking up.
The door was closed and with no guards, yet all she had to do was to press her family ring where the keyhole was supposed to be to open the way.
The inside of the house resembled very much an embassy.
The clerk at front desk stopped them in their tracks, asking for their proof of identity and the reason of visit.
The Marchioness handed to him a piece of paper that appeared out of thin air.
She probably has a dimensional something on her too.
The clerk passed the paper over a blue gemstone set into the desk.
When both glowed of a pale blue he said.
Everything seems all right.
Your destination is right beyond the door.
He waved at the wall at his right, appearing incredibly stupid in Lith\'s eyes.
But then several rune markings appeared from the wall, forming a small ring of energy that quickly expanded, becoming big enough for both of them to pass through.
A real dimension door! If I have to choose between healing and forgemastering, I\'ll take the second without any regret.
It took but a step to travel all the distance between the capital of the Marquisate and the Headmaster office of the White Griffon.
Lith recognized it because it was almost identical to the Lightning Griffon one.
The only differences were how the furniture was positioned, and the Headmaster personal effects on display.
Books he had written, certificates of merit from both the Kingdom and the Association.
They covered the whole wall behind his desk
No frigging antechamber!
The Headmaster was waiting for them, he stood up as soon as the door appeared, approaching Marchioness Distar and welcoming her with great warmth.
Marchioness Distar! Is always such a pleasure to meet an alumnus of our academy, even if she graduated before my time. Without waiting for her reply, he made her a deep bow, that she reciprocated.
Headmaster Linjos, is an honour to have the chance to finally meet you.
I heard a lot about the incredible feats you managed to accomplish at your young age.
It\'s no surprise at all that for you becoming the youngest Headmaster ever.
You are too kind.
Excuse me for my bluntness, but I was really surprised by your sudden request for an urgent meeting.
Has anything else happened to your family Is there anything else that White Griffon can do for you
Linjos was deeply embarrassed, the academy was about to resume its activities and Manohar was still unreachable.
The Headmaster had taken multiple notes to reprimand him sharply.
Taking a short personal leave was okay, disappearing for almost six months straight, not so much.
Thanks for your interest, but my family managed to survive, one way or another.
The reason for this audience is that I wanted to introduce you this brilliant young mage.
He is pretty famous, you should have heard of Lith of Lustria.
Ah! Finally recognizing the youth behind her, Linjos stepped back.
A beehive had just walked unannounced in his office.