- Before going to the cafeteria, can we please go to the Library I need to copy the whole book to be able to follow properly the next lessons. Solus asked.
How do you plan on doing that My Forgemaster schedule is full of theory, I doubt we will cross the Alchemists again.
That\'s why I stole a schedule from an airheaded kid.
We just need to make time so that you can give me a ride back and forth.
Now I\'m strong enough, surviving two hours by myself is easy as pie. –
In a corner of his mind, where Solus couldn\'t read unless she willingly searched for it, Lith added:
- Wish I could say the same. –
On the road to the library, they shared their memories of the respective lessons, yet Lith omitted all the parts where he suffered from loneliness and isolation.
In his mind it was a sign of weakness, something to be ashamed of.
- By my maker! Another hot teacher Even the male Professor from the Alchemist class was quite a sight for sore eyes, the girls wouldn\'t stop staring at his a*s every time he turned around to write on the chalkboard.
Do you think that it depends on their mana cores, or is it just a marketing move on the Headmaster part
Both are possible, but I believe the latter to be more likely.
Young minds are easily swayed around, especially if their hormones are properly channelled.
Back on Earth, my medium school music teacher was so hot that all the boys in the class learned how to play at least an instrument properly.
Some even started listening classical music, just to impress her. –
When they reached their destination, and opened its double doors, the academy\'s Library turned out to be exactly as Lith had imagined the Prize Hall to be, except with books instead of magical items.
The bookshelves were full to the brim, forming corridors between themselves.
The room was so big that Lith suspected they had made it with dimensional magic.
At the entrance, a clerk in his mid-twenties asked if he needed help.
Luckily, the library had been organized well, and with the clerk\'s directions Lith was soon back with the Master Alchemist textbook and all the tier four magic books he managed to carry with him.
On every shelf there was a tag, stating that the use of dimensional items was prohibited, and Lith would never risk getting banned by such gold mine.
I\'ll borrow these books, please. He said.
The clerk was shocked by the amount, it was more than the average person would borrow in a whole year.
Sorry sir, the max allowed is three books at a time.
Lith clicked his tongue, picking the book for Solus and a tier four spellbook each for the War Mage and Battle Mage specialization.
He was eager to find out what spells of mass destruction looked like and how to improve his battle spells.
Cross checking Lith\'s profile with the books of his choosing, the clerk inwardly smiled.
- Sigh, so young and naïve.
He is clearly biting more than he can chew, but at his age, everyone dreams of being a genius. –
Back in their room, they spent all the time before dinner copying the books.
They had long prepared for the mammoth task, bringing with them enough empty books and ink in the pocket dimension to put the Encyclopaedia Britannica to shame.
Solus\' task was the longest one, she needed to copy every single page, while Lith would just make an abridged version of each spell, copying only hand signs, accents and a short description alongside its name.
That would make possible for him to recognize those spells on sight, so when facing another mage, he would have the opportunity to take the necessary countermeasures.
It would also allow him to reproduce them with true magic without being discovered.
At dinner, he sat once again with his fellow healers.
As much his heart cringed at the thought of their company, he wouldn\'t be at the academy forever.
Lith needed reliable connections in the outside world too.
Besides, he had just discovered how lonely he really felt without Solus.
He needed to get back in touch with his human side.
The mood at the table, though, was gloomy.
Friya kept stirring the food in her plate, just nibbling from time to time.
Quylla wolfed down her food, again, but there was no joy in it.
She kept avoiding their gazes, like she expected to be scolded any second.
Lith was gripped by his inner conflict.
He would have much preferred being alone with Solus, yet he needed to get a hold of his emotions, like the adult he was.
Now that he had a cool head again, he had realized that even Professor Wanemyre had called him mean eyes at their first meet.
Solus had proven to be right all along, he couldn\'t keep glaring all his life.
He had to make peace with his inner self, or at least learn again how to control the emotions that showed on his face.
To achieve any of that, he needed to be around people, either learning to appreciate their company or at least to fake it.
Yurial had the impression that someone had died, and he was the only one kept in the dark.
Friya, how was your day He said trying to break the ice.
It\'s just the second day and I needed help to succeed in Nalear\'s class and in my Mage Knight specialization.
Don\'t get me started about Trasque.
I don\'t know if it felt worse scoring so few wins, or his smug grim every time I lost to a commoner.
Why that stupid tutor of mine didn\'t focus more on chore magic I feel so stupid and insignificant.
I have always considered myself as someone talented, special.
Yet now I am just another noble that everyone makes fun of, either because of my looks or my lack of skill.
I am so tempted to give up, but I\'m the first person in my family to get accepted in one of the six great academies.
I cannot waste this opportunity.
It\'s perfectly normal to feel that way. Yurial replied.
I didn\'t fare any better today, and my father is an archmage.
But from Nalear\'s class, I learned that it\'s better to swallow my pride.
I didn\'t hesitate to ask for hints during my Warden specialization, since time is part of the grade.
What about you Lith Why are you feeling so down I heard you aced your forgemastering class, gaining quite some points.
You should be walking on air, don\'t let yesterday\'s bad memories ruin your day.
Lith put down the silverware, trying to collect his thoughts.
Being harassed is never pleasant, but I faced worse.
I\'m not worried about that.
As for my success, I\'ll admit it was quite pleasant.
If I dismissed it saying things like \'it was nothing much\', I\'d be a lying hypocrite.
But Like Friya, it\'s my first time too being away from home, surrounded only by strangers.
It helped me realize that I spent so many years hunting in the wild, that I forgot how act like a human.
Be honest with me, do I glare a lot
Every second. Yes. Always. The consent had been unanimous.
Lith didn\'t trust them, so he had shared with them just a secondary issue.
He was actually talking about his real worry with Solus, to make his expression match his emotions.
- As much as it pains me to admit it, I\'m worried about the future.
Now I have everything planned out, but what if I succeed I have no purpose outside making me immortal, and at the end of the day, is it even worth it
Rena has already left, Tista will sooner or later marry, and my parents deserve to finally have some happiness and time on their own.
But where that leaves me Outside my family and you, I have nothing and no one that I love.
I can\'t live my life for them.
Not only I would become a burden for them, but it would also aggravate my problem.
Sooner or later, everyone will die, and I will be left alone.
What worth could possibly have a world devoid of joy
Oh Lith, you are really hopeless. Solus was really moved, he had actually put her at the same level of his family, outside a joke context.
You are just twelve, yet you already worry about something that will happen decades in the future.
I told you back then and I\'ll tell you again, give this world a chance.
Over time, many things can happen or change.
Focus on the present, whatever problem you\'ll have, we will face it together.
Trying to control and predict everything is a desperate endeavour, and it will eat you from the inside. –
My father always says that from great power comes great isolation.
But don\'t worry, Lith.
That\'s what friends are for.
To shed a light in your darkest days. Yurial patted him on the shoulder, trying to console him.
In another moment, Lith would have sneered at him, pushing his hand away.
But thanks to being able of making small talk with strangers again and mostly to Solus\' words, he managed to actually relax his expression for the first time since in the academy.
Thanks, Yurial. He said with a smile.
- Friends, uh Then why are you consoling me and my small problem, instead of Friya that has much bigger issues Not to mention he completely ignored Quylla.
Friend my a*s, you are just trying to suck up to me. –
What happened to you, Quylla Lith asked.
She followed his example, taking a pause from eating to talk easily.
Honestly, this academy sucks hard, it\'s even worse than my village.
Before becoming a healer, I was considered a burden because I was too small and weak.
After learning magic, since I was much stronger than my predecessor, everyone started treating me like a monster.
Even as a child, I could tell that they were afraid of me, of what I could have done if I wanted revenge.
I always felt different and alone back home, so I decided to come to the academy, hoping to find others like me.
To make friends, to have a magical family that could understand me, someone to actually trust.
The more she spoke, the angrier she became.
Instead my bubble burst from day one.
Everyone here pushes me around, calling me names like cockroach, skank, and after I started taking the tonic, even pig.
I\'m sick and tired of being afraid.
In hindsight, I was better off at the village.
At least there they feared and respected me.
Here I\'m a laughing stock, either because I\'m short, ugly or because I picked only a specialization.
But what could I have done
I never learned how to fight, my body can barely withstand powerful healing magic, let alone more violent kinds of magic.
During Trasque\'s lesson, I lost all my fights, and even if they humiliated me, he never reprimanded one of them! I hate him too!
To be fair, no one had dared to humiliate anyone, not after Lith had so easily lost points at the beginning of the exercise.
Trasque had let them fight fair and square, the problem lied in Quylla short arms and flimsy build.
Being unable of using any kind of silent magic, except for the light one, even girls of her age could overpower her with a single hand.
Using magic or a weapon was just overkill.
Lith: Guess the only one that had it easy is Yurial. Friya: Yeah, mister \'archmage heir\'.
No one has the guts to mess with him. Quylla: F*cking lucky b*stard.
Suddenly, an honest smile appeared on Lith\'s lips.
The mood around the table suited better his tastes, so full of anger, mistrust and deception.
He saw potential in each one of them, especially Quylla.
She resembled a young Tista that he could turn into another Lith.
He was the only one, aside maybe from Professor Vastor, that knew that once her body developed properly, her mana core would have no limits to its growth.
Cyan for sure, maybe blue, if not purple.
Well, Quylla, people don\'t need a reason to pick on you. Lith said.
They need one not to.
And the best reason you can give them is a Guilty Ballot.
Think about it, I am tall for my age, talented, or at least so they say, and yet I get harassed on daily basis.
If the tonic works and you start to grow, nothing will change.
Remember Nalear\'s story, she had talent and looks, yet survived only because of the Ballot.
You should learn from her, and not repeat her mistakes.
He could see from their faces, that both Quylla and Friya were seriously considering the idea of getting a Ballot of their own.
Lith needed a few deep breaths, to find the strength to say what he needed to.
As for your problems with first magic, I… He needed his sheer willpower to keep his expression relaxed, instead of acting like someone that was spewing poison off his tongue.
I could teach you all.
We don\'t have lessons during the weekends, we would have plenty of space and time. The table exploded with cheers, his proposal was immediately accepted.
Lith knew that respect and trust were something that had to be given, before they could be given back.
Yurial and Friya had both a light cyan mana core, like Nana, but theirs could still grow.
Quylla had a bright green mana core despite her childish body, so for her the sky was the limit.
Even without his help, it was just a matter of time before they mastered first magic.
He would exploit their desperation, giving them what they wanted before it lost its value.
Just like when he helped Marchioness Distar, it was the best moment to make his investment.