After dimensional magic, it was time for the specialization lessons.
Professor Nalear\'s course was on forced hold.
The number of students requiring a second evaluation had far exceeded expectations, a day hadn\'t been enough.
Phloria had the rest of the morning free, while Lith and the others went to the Master Healer class.
Once at the academy\'s hospital, the students discovered that Professor Vastor had organized a small refreshment before officially starting the new trimester.
The class had gone down from thirty-four to twenty-eight student, and some of them had barely broke a C.
Between those who had lost a friend and the ones terrified at the idea of suffering the same fate, very few were in the mood for celebration.
Vastor didn\'t seem to notice, though, and even if the report cards were supposed to be a secret, it wasn\'t hard to guess grades based on how he treated the different students.
He devoted a lot of attention to Quylla and Lith, arousing the envy of many.
Those who like Professor Rudd were biased against commoners\' bloodlines, would have given an arm and a leg to get the opportunity to teach them a lesson.
Yet they were well aware that because of the Ballots, the best they could do was get demoted from unsuccesful mages to expelled ones.
Not to mention that instead of being reprimanded, Vastor had received an award for beating unruly students during the mock exam.
Keep working hard, my dear pupils.
And remember what I said at the beginning of our lessons.
After the second trimester the class will be halved.
We will be lucky if twenty of you manage to actually graduate as healers.
From how he was looking at the angered students, he had got a taste for it.
During the lesson, Lith\'s group had finally the opportunity to take the lead in delicate procedures like re growing lost limbs and organs.
Previously, the three men teams, one responsible for the regeneration and the other for keeping the patient\'s vitals stable, were both comprised of two professors and only one student.
Now the balance had shifted, and only a professor remained in each team.
When Quylla and Lith weren\'t in charge of one of the teams, Professor Vastor would always put them as second in command, ready to take over the procedure in case anything went wrong.
It took Lith a few patients to understand all the quirks and risks of regenerating a lost limb.
The tier four spell couldn\'t be handled by just mindlessly pumping mana, or everyone could have done it, even without a specialization.
The whole process revolved around a delicate balance between the two groups of healers, with the patient as their fulcrum.
The mage leading the regeneration had to keep the spell active, while giving the patient\'s body the time to rejuvenate.
With too short intervals between mana pulses, most of their effectiveness would be lost, making the procedure longer and more difficult.
Also, it would put a great stress on the patient\'s body, with the risk that the new limb would be defective.
One had to give the vitals support team the time to reintegrate the patient\'s lost vitality during the process, burdening his metabolism as little as possible.
The second team acted as a life force IV, but the drip rate had to be manually adjusted depending on the circumstances.
Too fast and the energy would be lost, just giving the patient a sensation of euphoria.
Too slow and the massive drain caused by the regeneration could kill or permanently incapacitate him.
The teams had to coordinate between themselves, the first sending mana pulses spaced enough to allow the life force infusion to be effective, the second adjusting the flow whenever was necessary, to avoid the regenerative spell to be interrupted by a too prolonged pause.
Lith and Quylla quickly mastered both roles, receiving many compliments from the medical staff and thirty points from Professor Vastor.
They were the only ones that despite occasionally losing control of the spell, would manage to fix things on their own, without needing a Professor to take over.
In Lith\'s case, he did it on purpose.
Thanks to Invigoration, he was capable of having complete awareness of the patient\'s status.
Lith could understand with a glance when more life force was necessary or not, instructing the other team to speed up or slow down, and time the regenerating pulses so that the next one would arrive only when the previous was already losing effectiveness.
Yet he had to make mistakes, achieving perfection from day one would have been too eye-catching.
Even with the help of true magic, the task took a heavy toll on both his mind and body.
The stress of handling a human life put a huge pressure on everyone, the patients were real persons and not test dummies anymore.
Because of the long pre operation phase, the students had been forced to spend time with them during the previous semester, to talk and know them personally.
It was impossible to consider their lives just a number in their success/failure ratio.
And while Lith used Invigoration, the others could only rely on their magic sensitivity, listening to the patients\' pulse and keeping an eye on their complexion and pain.
It was something incredibly hard, Lith had no idea how others could manage to do it.
The scariest thing was that despite all that, Quylla was just a few steps behind him.
Even if stuck with fake magic, she was able to absorb like a sponge all the notions and suggestions Professor Vastor gave them, managing to get in tune with every patient.
Lith would have never been capable of doing that, at least not that fast.
He learned by experience, little by little with every procedure, using Invigoration as a guiding hand whenever he had a doubt.
The more time they spent together, the more aware he was that it was only a matter of time before she revealed herself to be a genius.
Her mana core was already on par with Lith\'s.
- I can only pat myself in the back for taking care of her for all this time.
If necessity ever arises, she can become an invaluable asset.
If she really is an S class healer, she\'ll relieve me of all the unnecessary attentions, avoiding for a simple A class talent like me to be pressured.
Besides, it\'s not like she can threaten my position.
With my knowledge of biochemistry, biology and anatomy, I will always be the top in the theoretical field.
Who would ever guessed that all the extra credits seminars for the college would pay off like that -
All the other students didn\'t know if to laugh or cry at their helplessness.
Envy and shame fought in their hearts, like two lions tumbling down a cliff.
No matter which one would win, the result would be the same.
Even Yurial and Friya felt a tinge of jealousy while comparing themselves to them.
But most of all, they were proud and happy for their friends.
Lith had helped them countless times in the past, never asking anything in return.
What had started as a simple business relationship, had evolved in honest friendship.
As for Quylla, they could never resent her.
At the beginning, Yurial had approached her just out of curiosity.
He had considered her like a pet, someone talented that would be easy to manipulate due to her childish naivety and poor background.
But Quylla\'s growth as a person and mage had stunned him, leading Yurial to shed his prejudices and accept her as a peer.
Now, after three months together, he felt deeply ashamed of his initial attitude towards her, and was trying to make amends.
Friya, instead, liked to think of her as the little sister she had always wanted.
Quylla was honest and had a big heart.
Their friendship had developed naturally from their first meeting, both suffering from the constant harassing from the other students.
When Quylla\'s body had started to change due to the rapid growth induced by the tonic, Friya had helped her managing her first period, teaching her everything about what being a young woman meant, becoming her confident.
When Friya had hit a wall during the Healer specialization, Quylla had volunteered to help her.
Thy had started studying together, and whatever difficulty Friya encountered, Quylla had been always there for her.
She had never talked about her private lessons to anyone, not even trying to impress Lith, for whom Friya knew she had a huge crush.
Quylla\'s humble and gentle nature had moved her beyond what words could express.
Friya had found in a stranger, something that even her own family had always denied her.
She was ready to do anything for her little adoptive sister.
As for Quylla, she was thankful for tier four magic being so hard.
Her work as a healer, with the constant pressure of having another human\'s being in her hands, was the only thing forcing her unruly heart to rest.
When they had first met, Yurial was like a Prince Charming out of the fairy tales she read as a kid.
He was noble, powerful, rich, handsome, smart, and gentle.
Almost too good to be true.
Lith, on the other side, had been more like a demon lord.
Cold, scary, brash, talking to everyone like they were ants, glaring with soul chilling dead eyes.
But after the first two days, something had changed.
She had noticed how indifferent Yurial actually was, sometimes even forgetting about her existence.
Friya was the one actually caring for her, while Lith was… complicated.
When the first magic private lessons had started, he had lost most of his edge, becoming more supportive and helpful than Professor Trasque himself.
He was the only one not staring at her for the amount of food she gobbled every day.
On the contrary, he would even encourage her to eat more, and help her keep her diet balanced.
Lith would always worry for her safety, encouraging her to pick up a Ballot, even defending her when she still had to get her own.
In the last months, whenever students tried to casually bump into her, Lith would switch place with Quylla.
No matter how big the other guy was, Lith would remain immovable like a mountain, while the other would fall on his a*s wincing in pain.
After a month from their first meeting, when she had her first period, he had been the one noticing her distress, relieving the pain with one of his personal spells and bringing her to Friya to get help.
As a healer, he was bound to know everything about it too, yet he had the sensitivity to avoid embarrassing her, letting another woman help her face that awkward situation.
It was after that moment that something inside Quylla had changed.
Whenever she saw him, she would get butterflies in her stomach, her mouth would go dry.
Each time they spoke, she needed sheer willpower to not speak fast, or giggle at everything he said.
Over time, he had become gentler and kinder, helping them whenever he could during the private lessons, answering all their questions and giving them pointers.
She started to admire his cold attitude towards strangers, not giving a damn about what they thought or said, having eyes only for his friends.
Lith soon revealed to be wise beyond his years, knowing many things and having anecdotes about almost everything.
Sometimes, when they walked side by side, their hands casually touched.
In those moments, she felt really hard to resist the compulsion to take his hand, to feel his warmth.
Other times, when she was alone in her room, her mind would go crazy with fantasies and delusions, making her feeling hot and fuzzy in the strangest places.
When Quylla talked about that to Friya, she told her that it was perfectly normal, even though she blushed listening to the question.
When Friya explained what it meant, Quylla thought she would die of embarrassment.
Luckily, there were just the two of them, and she knew that she could trust her friend.
Over time, she had learned to manage her feelings, mostly because she was too scared to do anything about them.
Except that towards Professor Nalear, Lith seemed to be completely uninterested in girls.
Quylla was conscious that even if thanks to the tonic she was now 1.5 meters (4\'11) tall, she was nothing special.
Her figure was still undeveloped and very childish.
She lacked Friya\'s curves or Phloria\'s innate charisma.
The only thing she could do was stay strong and hope for her feelings to fade away.