The following morning, Lith and Phloria were taking a small walk before picking up the rest of the team for breakfast.
Descending from a long line of Mage Knights, Phloria had more experience with swords, and since she had to attend only one specialization course, she was his main teacher between the two girls.
That allowed them to spend quite some time together, since both of them had free afternoons to practice swordsmanship.
Actually, Phloria sometimes needed to cram at night, to catch up with her studies, but it was something she gladly did.
She would have not given up the weekend lessons about first magic for the world.
Besides, once she managed to get to know him better, she really enjoyed his company.
The same went for Lith, up to that point, she was his favourite.
Phloria was mature and level headed, speaking her mind so often that sometimes she came out rude.
She also had various interests and hobbies, making her able to talk about almost every topic, not only about magic or Court life.
Lith enjoyed their talks, learning about the new world mentality and non-written society rules.
Having lived most of his new life in a small village, Lith could learn more from one of her anecdotes that from an entire book.
That day Phloria wore her long black hair down, making them dance in his face every time she turned her head suddenly.
Why are you still growing your hair Lith asked.
I thought that having them short was more convenient for a fighter.
Yeah, you got that right.
But during the last break, my mother kept nagging about me not being feminine enough.
She said that if I cut them even shorter, people would mistake me for a boy.
What a load of sh*t! She grumbled.
Lith could only keep silent, inwardly agreeing with her mother.
Phloria was very tall, even more than most Professors, and she still had plenty of time to grow further.
She also had wide shoulders and enough strength to easily lift him, like during the mock exam.
What do you think about it She abruptly asked.
That I hope she didn\'t phrase it so cruelly.
But I have to give it to her that you are prettier this way. Lith dodged the question with a compliment.
Of course not, my mother is of noble origins, she would never be so straightforward.
She just pointed out how hard it is to find suitors form me, adding how scared she is at the idea that our bloodline would die with me and all that cr*p.
I thought you had siblings. Lith raised an eyebrow at such arguments.
He clearly remembered that her parents had three children.
And when I pointed it out, she replied with the bogus theory that women are more likely to pass down a greater degree of magic.
At that point I gave up.
You know parents, you are always on the losing side of any discussion.
Lith nodded, not knowing what to say.
No one had ever tried to control that aspect of his life.
While we are at it, you do know that Quylla has it bad for you, right
Yes. He actually suspected that Quylla was developing a crush, but he hoped that with time and not giving her special attentions, it would pass.
He did not want to openly reject her and hurt her feelings.
Yet I don\'t understand why.
Well, she\'s an orphan.
She clearly has daddy issues, and between your big brother and drill sergeant vibes, I\'d say you make the ideal candidate.
But why me and not one of the Professors or something I mean, I\'m nothing special, just…
Tall, good-looking, talented and caring Phloria cut him short.
You are right, is a complete mystery.
Lith glared at her in annoyance.
That\'s not funny.
Stop ruffling my feathers.
Well, right now I have to take back the good-looking and caring part.
With that face, you are creepy.
Lith\'s expression returned to normal.
By the way, I would keep an eye on Friya too.
It would not surprise me if her family sent her after you.
Talented magicians with no family name are much sought-after.
Please, I\'m just a fourth-year student. Lith scoffed.
It\'s too soon for that kind of shenanigans.
Nah, you are still too naïve.
It\'s the perfect moment to start an approach to develop in the future without seeming too desperate or interested.
During the fifth year it would be too late, one needs an edge over the competition.
It\'s not like they are going to make you marry after all.
If you do not live up to their expectations, they can always back off at any moment.
That makes sense. Lith furrowed his brow, thinking about the unexpected problem.
Thanks for the heads up.
But to be honest, you should thank my father.
It\'s only when he asked me if I would mind a younger spouse that I realized what was happening.
Lith was afraid to ask the question, but he did anyway.
What did you reply to him
After stressing out that I don\'t mind a \'small\' age gap, don\'t get me wrong, I don\'t want to end up marrying someone much older than me, I said that I would consider it.
No reply was the only reply.
If I said yes, he would have sent my mother to make me change my mind.
If I said no, he would have probably started arranging our marriage.
He is kinda bull-headed.
I see. Lith tried to keep his poker face, but unconsciously took a step away from her.
Don\'t overestimate yourself, short stuff. She laughed at his move.
I\'m my own woman, I may bend on many things for my parents\' sake, but love is not one of those.
If they try to force me, I\'m ready to become independent after the graduation.
If I keep my grades as they are, people will line up to hire me.
From that point, they walked in silence, until they knocked on Quylla\'s door.
During breakfast, everyone expressed their curiosity about the new lessons and their Professors, making bets about their looks.
Lith sneaked a look at Friya from time to time, and only when he realized that nothing had changed, he managed to put his paranoia to rest.
Because dimensional magic was a compulsory course, it took place in the fourth-year lecture class.
As soon as the last gong rang, Professor Rudd walked in.
He was a tall man, about 1,78 (5\'10) high, with grey streaked black hair, and ice-cold blue eyes.
He was in his mid-fifties, wearing the robe open and revealing a slim build.
Aside from Vastor, he was the oldest teacher Lith had ever met.
Good morning, dear students. He spoke every word like he was spitting poison.
I\'m Professor Khavos Rudd, and I\'ll teach you dimensional magic.
As you can see, I am not one of those hot stuff children that our beloved Headmaster Linjos placed in the academy.
I\'m one of the remnants of the old guard.
One of those that, allegedly, find a waste of resources to teach magic to those that not belong to mages\' bloodline or at least noble families.
At those words, Lith, Quylla and Friya took out their Ballot, placing it on their desk.
After one too many practical joke, Friya had decided to follow Quylla\'s advice and got her freedom back.
Being noble, that speech wasn\'t addressed to her, but she still wanted to prove her point.
Friya wasn\'t scared of putting herself on the line for her friends.
Rudd continued like he didn\'t see anything, despite the three of them were sitting in the front lines.
Even in such hypothetical scenario, thought, I would still be a professional capable of leaving his prejudices outside that door.
I expect you of doing the same.
All the commoner students didn\'t believe a word he said.
Many started regretting not having a Guilty Ballot.
Dimensional magic is a complex and deep subject, so do not expect of getting rid of me after just three months.
My class is where we will separate true mages from simple birds.
Even a magico can fly, but only a mage can do this.
After a quick wave of the hand and a hushed word, Rudd disappeared from the back of the class, near the chalkboard, reappearing in front of the first row of students.
His hands never stopped, before they could even gasp, he had already disappeared, materializing with his feet on a second-row desk, making a full round of the class before returning back to the point of origin.
This spell is called Blink, one of the most common battle uses of dimensional magic.
It\'s particularly useful to Battle Mages and Mage Knights to push forwards, since they use weapons.
But everyone can use it to escape in a pinch.
Just to be clear, I didn\'t use any artifact, just my skills.
If you aren\'t capable of doing this by the end of the course, you will never pass it.
The good news is that failing my class will not prevent you from graduating, just mark your failure as mages.
He smirked looking at the student\'s worried faces.
A hand rose up from the middle row.
What I still have to begin explaining and you already have a question I wonder how you got admitted here.
Nonetheless, speak freely.
Are you going to teach us teleportation Asked a red-haired chubby boy.
Professor Rudd broke out in a loud laughter, full of contempt and amazement.
Most of the students understood that he wasn\'t laughing at the question, but at the boy himself.
Teleportation I haven\'t heard that word in years.
It\'s a withered branch of magic, whose only success was to get the world rid of all the idiots that practiced it.