Since Lith had been officially admitted at the White Griffon academy, the lives of the inhabitants of the village of Lutia had become easier and safer, especially for Nana.
When news spread that the village was the birthplace of a mage, nobles had become friendlier, avoiding to break the law or cause any trouble.
Even passing merchants would be more likely to offer discounts, no more harassing the local smiths.
The usual crowd of rogues and troublemakers, that usually hanged around the tavern during the night, had turned meek or left altogether.
Of course, such behaviour didn\'t come from the goodness of their hearts, nor from the fear of the youth that maybe in the future would become a great mage.
Everyone knew he was away, and it would take no less than two years for him to return.
The reason for such sudden change of heart, depended by the fact that those who didn\'t behave had made the strange habit of disappearing without traces, kill themselves leaving behind a suicide note confessing their crimes or simply died in accidents.
What everyone but Nana ignored, was that a mage\'s birthplace was his starting fief.
Being Lith evaluated as a Rank A student, one of the Queen\'s personal units was constantly monitoring the village, weeding out problems in the bud.
They had no way to distinguish a simple criminal from someone that, either by his own will or because manipulated, was attempting to harm Lith\'s family.
Most importantly, they did not care.
As soon someone was identified as a potential threat, even if the investigations gave no results, they would get rid of the problem, just to be on the safe side.
The Queen kept them updated on Lith\'s performance and potential, stressing the importance of giving him no further reason to resent the Griffon Kingdom and defect.
After the results of the mock exam, it was only because of Duke Hestia\'s compliance toward the school rules, leaving his daughter alone in hot waters and not trying to take revenge, that he barely managed to keep his Dukedom and his neck.
(AN: Duke Hestia is the father of the leader of the trio that attempted harassing Lith during the first day.
See Chap 57)
Based on what her contacts had told Nana, once Lith\'s talent had been recognized by Manohar himself, both the Court and the Mage Association had taken to heart his well-being.
For Nana it meant the chance to keep a big price on her services, despite having nothing more to do outside her role of healer.
Oh! Oh! Oh! She laughed enjoying another sunny morning.
Who would have thought that helping that young spirit of your brother could bring the new heyday of my life.
It\'s never been so peaceful in years.
How could my little brother have anything to do with it Tista chuckled, while using chore magic to clean the room.
Nana shook her head.
Tista, my girl you outshine your brother in many things.
Looks, kindness, bedside manners.
There are just two things that you should really take from him.
One is talent.
What about the other Despite having learned spells up to tier three, Tista had still no idea how Lith had managed to cure her.
She could only explain it with an abysmal gap in their gift for magic.
No, I would never criticize someone about something innate.
I was talking about being cynical and practical.
You are too naïve for your age.
If your brother was here, he would look at me with his soul chilling glare, make a couple of questions to which I would answer enigmatically, and I\'m sure he would understand what I mean.
Lith doesn\'t have a soul chilling glare! Tista rebuked her mentor.
He is the most loving and caring little brother one could ask for.
Because he always treated you like a precious gem.
Try asking your future brother-in-law what does he think about Lith.
And when you do, look him straight in the eyes and don\'t let him change the subject.
Tista was about to rebut, when the door of the home office opened.
Both the women turned their heads, discovering that it wasn\'t a patient, Lith had returned.
Lil bro! Tista welcomed him with a warm hug.
You haven\'t changed at all!
He held her tight, whishing he could kiss her on the head, but she was seven centimetres (3 inches) taller than him.
I went away for a month, not a year! Or did you expect me to come back scarred from the battlefront
Meanie! She pushed him away with fake rage, giving a small punch on his shoulder.
Thanks for everything you did for me, Master Nana.
I wouldn\'t be in the academy without you. Lith hugged his old mentor too.
Nana enjoyed the embrace for a moment, asking herself if it hadn\'t been a mistake choosing to not have children.
After her fall from grace, she had withdrawn, avoiding any meaningful relationship to not get hurt again.
Maybe it was just the old age, or maybe hanging with those two little brats had cracked her armour.
In any case, it was too late.
Why are you wasting time with this old bat Nana scolded him, poking him on the head with her walking cane.
Your parents are worried sick about you.
Tista, you can have the rest of the day off.
Bring him home, use force if you must.
Tista giggled, taking his brother\'s arm before leaving.
Someone feels clingy, today.
Since when do you like getting spoiled Lith laughed at the affectionate gesture.
Since ever, duh!
During their walk, Lith noticed many youths suddenly changing direction or crossing the road.
Between her beauty, her status and income as the future healer of the village, Tista was one of the most coveted maidens.
Very few cared about the fact that she was still two years from the marrying age.
Before Lith\'s departure, most were too scared to approach her.
He had killed men at the age of six, a magical beast at eight, and was infamous for being overprotective of his family.
While mothers and girls praised his decisiveness, it struck fear in the hearts of the suitors, that now believed to finally have free hand with her.
Is there someone in particular bothering you
Tista made one of her radiant smiles that could light up a room.
I can defend myself.
Besides, they are harmless.
Are you sure Accidents happen.
You just have to say the word.
Despite the casual tone and his bright smile, he wasn\'t joking at all.
Tista didn\'t notice, and laughed at the \'joke\'.
Speaking of accidents, the village lately has become really quiet.
I feared that after you left, brigands would attack as soon Nana left the village.
Instead the whole region has never been so safe in years.
Lith raised an eyebrow in disbelief, it didn\'t make sense until he remembered Linjos\' words.
- I had almost forgot my family is under surveillance.
I must be careful not be followed when I perform my experiments. –
Since they spoke on daily basis with the communication amulet, Tista asked him why he had disappeared in the last three day.
Lith told her everything about the mock exam, leaving her in awe.
Five mages fighting together against evil magical beasts What an experience! I bet you looked like the heroes of the stories dad always told us when we were little.
Magical beasts are not evil.
Some are good, other bad, just like humans.
And we didn\'t look like heroes, more like scared teens.
Plus, I\'m terrible with people, and you know it.
Have you not been listening or are you just trying to flatter me
Tista punched his arm again in reply.
When they arrived home, Lith noticed that the cultivated fields were bigger than he remembered, there were farmhands helping their parents.
Now that all their kids had become independent, Elina and Raaz had decided to expand the family business.
When they saw him, they ran to his side, hugging him while crying uncontrollably.
My baby, my little baby is back. Was the only thing they managed to say.
Lith felt incredibly happy and awkward at the same time.
Happy for their infinite love, awkward because he had yet get used to it and because he didn\'t know if he deserved it.
The real Lith, their son, had died twelves years ago, replaced by an alien mind.
He knew it wasn\'t his fault.
He didn\'t kill the baby, nor he had chosen them willingly.
Sure, Orpal and Trion had damned themselves with their actions, yet it was the miraculous survival of the baby that had led them to those events.
Lith felt responsible for breaking up that wonderful family.
- Aren\'t you forgetting something Solus meddled with his train of thoughts.
Without you, your mother could have died of childbirth.
Remember how weak she was at the time If she had been grief-stricken, she may have not survived, letting herself go without fighting.
Not to mention that we don\'t know what would have happened.
Orpal might as well started targeting Tista instead of you, and we both know how she wasn\'t able to stand up for herself.
She could have died, either by illness or by your sick brother\'s hand.
I can easily see him, teaching her a lesson resulting in her conditions getting worse.
Sure, he would later apologize and realize his mistake, but I still think he would have gotten himself disowned.
Did you somehow force him to say all those mean things to Tista, making her, your mother and Rena cry all the time Did you manipulate him into sending those five goons to beat you to a pulp No.
It was all his doing, and he paid the price.
It\'s much better having two healthy good children, instead of a hot-headed conceited a*shole.
The only way Orpal had to be happy was to be an only child. –
Knowing the human nature, Lith was prone to agree with her.
Stealing a newborn food, his obsessive need for attentions, were all indicators of a twisted personality.
Lith hadn\'t forgiven Orpal, nor felt sorry for him.
Only for his family.
Feeling Tista\'s warm embrace, seeing her safe and happy, quickly dispelled the doubts that were clouding his mind.
Saving a single Tista or Rena, was worth killing a thousand Orpals.