In the White Griffon, like in all the six big academies, students from different years had no common spaces, to avoid the older and stronger seniors to haze their juniors.
This feat had been achieved simply by having each academic year take place on a single floor.
On the ground floor of the castle, there was the welcome area for the visitors and the Secretariat, were clerks would take care of the academy\'s paperwork.
The first floor accommodated the first year of academy, the second floor the second one, and so on.
Above the fifth floor there were the staff\'s living quarters and their personal labs, but most of the space was noted on the map as either empty or assigned to nondescriptly named departments.
Lith suspected that all the academy\'s private business, like the hidden specializations\' training courses, took place there.
In that moment, thought, while looking at the castle map with Soluspedia, Lith wasn\'t wondering about the academy\'s mysteries, rather he was cursing its faulty design.
- Dammit! It\'s no wonder that the Professors always move around with Warp Steps.
I didn\'t realize it at first, but even a single floor is like a small city, much bigger than the whole Lutia village.
The Prize Hall is quite far from the hospital.
It will take me at least ten minutes to reach it, and much more to return to my apartments.
I hadn\'t planned on doing this much cardio! I\'m tired, the only things I want to do are sleeping and eating.
The only silver lining in this situation, is that everyone is suffering the same fate.
After the gong, Professor Vastor left on his own, leaving us stranded in the ward. –
With all that had happened during his first day, the psychological burden on Lith\'s mind was enormous.
Facing bullies, holding himself to use true magic, being forced to tolerate so many idiots without kicking their as*es, was something he was no longer used to.
Since his rebirth, he had always kept the human interactions to a minimum.
Now he was constantly on alert, he couldn\'t lower his guard for a second, the Ballot always at hand.
He couldn\'t wait to lock the door behind him, and finally have some peace and quiet.
- I don\'t know if we\'ll ever be allowed to use Warp Steps in here… Solus pondered.
…but why exactly aren\'t we floating, flying or something There is no rule against the use of magic within the academy, except if used to harm or harass others.-
Lith froze on the spot, facepalming because of his own stupidity.
- Either I\'m too tired to think clearly, or you are definitely smarter than I look.
I love you, Solus. Lith thought.
I love you more. She replied.
Lith pretended to cast a personal flight spell, and then zoomed away sticking with his back on the ceiling.
The ten minutes trip became a one minute flight at low speed, Lith couldn\'t risk crashing against someone else.
During that time, Lith contemplated how having a symbiotic relationship had changed his life.
He was not thinking about Solus having a 360° 40/10 sight, her pocket dimension or any of her capabilities.
What never ceased to amaze him, was how he had come of being used to think of himself as we rather than I in his own thoughts.
Despite the terror that she had struck in his heart after their first meeting, Solus was now closer to him than his sisters.
They shared even his dreams, while he was asleep.
When he arrived, the Prize Hall was a complete disappointment.
Lith had imagined it like a library, but filled with magical treasures, with the shelves occupied by items and their descriptions.
He had thought about browsing through them, asking the clerks\' help from time to time, but reality begged to differ.
Squeezed between the Battle Mage and the War Mage training halls, stood something that closely resembled an ATM.
On the flashing display there was the blinking image of an opened palm, so Lith followed the fool-proof instructions, sending mana into it.
The display turned bright, making a 3D hologram of a clerk appear.
It was a chubby woman in her thirties, with a tired face that put Lith\'s to shame.
Her eyes focused on his face, Lith could see her fiddling with some kind of crystal.
You are Lith of Lutia, right The crystal in her hands was projecting a detailed image of his facial features.
Is anyone there with you Is someone forcing you to spend your points
No. Lith was cynical and paranoid, yet he was surprised by how bad things in the academies had to be, to enforce such protocol.
The woman pressed another crystal, and a bubble of light enveloped Lith.
You are in a safe zone.
No one can see or hear us now.
Do you need help I can send you a guard in a second with Warp Steps.
Are you sure everything is fine
Yes, I am fine.
Thanks for your kindness.
1000 points on your first day! The woman sounded sincerely amazed.
Kid, you have hit the motherlode, feel free to check our inventory.
On the screen appeared something similar to a web page, that he could navigate through by using mana.
Dimensional items\' prices ranged from the 100 to over 300 points, magic storing rings costed 100 points per tier.
There were also weapons available, but Lith had never held a real one.
His training, back on Earth, made use only of wooden swords, knives and spears.
The balance was completely different, and without a proper training they would be useless against a skilled opponent.
Potions were the cheapest objects, costing 10 points each.
The most expensive item was the uniform, costing 5000 points.
That would allow Lith to keep it even after concluding his studies, and have it looks changed to something less flashy.
Sadly, there was no wrist or pocket watch available.
He bought the cheapest dimensional amulet (80P), one magic storing ring for each of the first three tiers (600P), and a physical enhancement potion of each type (30P).
Lith now had all he needed to mask the use of true magic and Solus.
The clerk sent him the items via Warp Steps one at a time, asking him to imprint them in front of her, for security reasons.
Even the potions were no exception.
On his way back, he stopped at the canteen.
It was too early for dinner, but he was in dire need for comfort food, so he stored a hot chocolate cup and some pastries before going back to his room.
The books had yet to be delivered, so he could finally relax and contemplate his purchases.
The first thing he did, was use the speed, strength and skin hardening potions, comparing their effects with Fusion magic.
After filling them again with coloured water, all he had to do was to pretend to drink one of those to be able to activate Fusion magic without arising any suspicions, as long as he kept the effects similar.
Only when he went to the bathroom, he realized how big his room was.
It was very similar to a one-bedroom apartment, around fifty meters (55 square yards).
It had a double bed in the top right corner, his chest was in front of the bed.
A couple of meters to the left, against the wall, there was a wooden wardrobe.
On the left wall there was a hardwood desk and a chair for his studies, with a couple of empty bookshelves mounted above it.
Furniture aside, the room was empty, making it appear even bigger.
An inner door lead to the biggest bathroom he had ever seen, occupying over a third of the room.
There was a real toilet and a sink in front of a mirror, both with running water.
Lith was on the verge of tears, after all those years he had almost resigned himself to pee*ng in the wind and poo*ing in a hole in the ground.
Even at Count Lark\'s home the best he could get was a chamber pot.
Most of the space, thought, was occupied by a bathtub big enough that could comfortably accommodate four people.
- Is it me, or whoever designed this room has a dirty mind First the double bed and now this Lith thought.
Makes sense, considering they are piling up teenagers without parental control.
Remember the spell Nana gifted us before going to the Lightning Griffon Solus pointed out.
Actually, I had almost forgot it.
But seeing how fast Tista and Rena developed, even at twelve years it mustn\'t have been hard for Nana finding a partner.
I am tall for my age, but still hairless and shorter than most my classmates.
Not to mention that, even the idea of touching a kid makes me want to puke. –
Lith then took the most magnificent, comfortable dump since his rebirth.
That moment alone made every hardship he experienced since coming into the academy fade away like a bad dream.
After that, he took a long hot bath, or at least that was the plan.
He had barely dipped his body and lathered his hair when someone knocked at his door.
I knew it! This should be the fourth law of thermodynamics: whenever a body and soap meet, a parcel arrives!
Furious, with a wave of the hand he used water magic to remove most of the water and soap from his body, pulling out his uniform from the pocket dimension right on his body, like he had never undressed.
As predicted, a clerk had come to deliver him all the books required for the fourth year of academy.
Noticing his frown and wet hair, the clerk guessed what had happened and left after making Lith sign his register.
After a bath and another call home, Lith went to dinner.
He was about to consume a delicious stuffed blinker when something unexpected happened.
His perfect solitude was interrupted by three known individuals approaching his table.
Lith stopped them before they could sit down.
Sorry, but we have a saying in my village.
The best way to enjoy a blinker requires only two guests: me and the blinker.
We didn\'t want to share it, we just wanted to sit here, with you. Yurial said.
Really Lith knitted his eyebrows.
Aren\'t you afraid of the consequences of associating yourself with a pariah
Yurial laughed at the idea, drawing all the eyes in the canteen.
The only thing the others knew, was that the four of them belonged to the same specialization.
Expecting a fight to break out, the room fell silent.
What\'s there to be afraid of My father is an archmage, he can wipe out most of these guys with a finger snap.
Besides, powerful mages should stick together.
Yeah What about the glass flask you threw at me this morning Or the dirty handkerchief she hit me on the head with Lith said while pointing at Friya, who became red from the embarrassment.
How do you know it I was right behind you.
I\'m that good.
I admit it, we started with the wrong foot, but there\'s no reason we cannot be friends. Yurial said with a confident and charismatic attitude.
Friends Lith stood up, the audience even stopped chewing, trying to eavesdrop their conversation.
That\'s the son of an archmage! Guess he doesn\'t fear the coward\'s end. I hope they kill each other. These were some of the comments that Lith and Solus managed to perceive.
If you were in my shoes, would you really be friends with someone that first mistreated you, only to act all friendly when he has discovered your talent My educated guess is no.
You all should have been smarter, and not have judged a book just by its cover.
Lucky for me, you revealed your true nature, so I won\'t buy your nice act.
I admit it, I was wrong and I apologize for that. Yurial was unrelenting, Lith had to give him that much.
You may not like us, but try to be more pragmatic.
If they see you with us, your life will be much easier.
Point taken. Lith replied.
But right now, I don\'t feel like making \'friends\', maybe another time. He extended his hand to Yurial, who promptly shook hit.
Thanks for not threatening me with your dad\'s power.
Would have worked Yurial asked with a smile.
No, I would have called your bluff.
Neither you or any archmage, strikes me as someone so petty and short-sighted, of making an enemy out of entire academy for something so trivial.
Yurial accepted the compliment and walked away, closely followed by Friya.
Quylla remained behind, staring at Lith with her big puppy eyes.
Sorry for not helping you this morning, but I was too scared to move. She said in a low tone.
They aren\'t bad guys, I think they deserve a second chance.
They have been really nice to me.
Lith snarled, closing his face to hers in a threatening manner, but his voice was actually calm and caring.
Listen well, short stuff.
Never trust people just because of a few cheap words or presents.
To them our talent is just a tool, they do not consider us as equals.
People will always be nice and friendly until you serve your purpose, but at the first mistake they\'ll drop you like garbage.
Stick to those two, but don\'t let them use you.
And now go, before someone thinks we are friends.
Either you take a Ballot too, or stay the heck away from me.
Lith yelled the last word for the others to hear.
In his eyes Quylla was destined to end up like Nana, unless she managed to wise up and shed away her childish naivety.
Finally alone, Lith sat back down and started to wolf down his dinner.
- You\'ll see, you bastards.
It\'s only a matter of time before this young snake from Lutia becomes a dragon and swallows you whole. -