“Wake up!” a shout pierced through my ears.
Air was forced out of my lungs as Elijah oh-so-tenderly pounded my sternum with the force capable of resuscitating a corpse.
I threw the sleeping Sylvie at him in hopes that she’d protect me from my aggressive roommate.
“Sylvie! It Hurts!” Elijah howled. As expected, my startled bond had instinctively started clawing at Elijah’s face until she calmed down.
“There has got to be a better way to wake me up besides physical pain,” I grumbled, rubbing my stomach.
“You’re telling me. Do you know how hard it is to wake you up? And you reward me by throwing Sylvie at me? Even if she isn’t in her full dragon form, do you know how sharp her claws are?” He winced, gingerly touching the shallow scratches that Sylvie had inflicted.
“Anyways! We’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up and get ready. I’ve already washed up so get your butt out of bed.” Elijah stood on top of my bed, pushing me off with his foot.
“Let’s go wash up, Sylv!” I pretended to be excited as I grabbed my companion and headed over to the shower.
‘No! Papa, I don’t want to shower! I’m cleaaan!’ “Kyuuuu!” The desperate wails of Sylvie merely escaped out the other ear as I hauled her inside. Sylvie now had fur, or very thin, long and soft scales that were very similar to fur. This meant that she attracted dirt like a magnet, so washing her more often had become a necessity.
“Brother, are you awake?” Ellie opened the door as I was changing. Elijah was at least fully dressed but I only had my bottom half clothed.
“How do you like your big brother’s awesome muscles?” I flexed my body in different poses.
“Eww! All I see are skin and bones, Brother.” She just shook her head, giving me a hard stare that seemed to question whether I was the same brother she so admired back on her birthday.
“Anyway, Mom told you guys to hurry up and get dressed so we can eat.” Ellie closed the door behind her without waiting for a reply.
I let out a sigh as I started buttoning my shirt. She was so cute at her birthday party. Kids grow up too fast.
The uniforms that Xyrus had sent us weren’t too out of the ordinary. For me, it consisted of a white dress shirt, a grey vest, a maroon string we tied around our necks underneath the collar, and a pair of tailored navy dress pants. There was also a gold pocket watch attached to a chain on my vest’s breast pocket, overall giving me a very scholarly look.
Elijah’s uniform, on the other hand, had a much sharper design. His black blazer had white trimmings that matched his black pants. Instead of a string, he wore a black square-end tie with one white stripe, indicating that he was a level one student. With his white dress shirt underneath and a badge with a crossed sword and staff etched intricately over the breast pocket, he looked dashing.
Instead of the usual tools a conjurer carried, Elijah, instead, had fashioned a black two-part band on his index and ring finger. These two bands were connected by a thin black chain, which gave him a very gothic look, especially now that he’d recently purchased new glasses that were a bit more fashionable. He made it pretty clear to me that this would be his debut in finding a girlfriend so he took great pride in how he looked, although he always grumbled on about how no matter how much he tried, he would always be in my shadow.
I gave him a helpless shrug, but I took a mental note to thank my mother and father for their genes later.
Taking a good look at both Elijah and myself in the mirror, I could tell how much we’d matured physically. The once nerdy Elijah from two years ago was now gone, a much sharper and cooler appearance replacing him, which oddly contradicted his personality.
As for myself, my eyes were a rich sapphire color that almost seemed to glow, my hair a fiery auburn color that contrasted well with my eyes. Bluish eyes and reddish hair made me realize how coincidental it all was. What were the odds that my defining traits aligned with the two base elements I was most adept at? My facial features were a lot softer compared to Elijah’s but while soft and kind, they also looked poised and elegant.
I studied my face as if it weren’t my own. Even after twelve years in this body, I hadn’t gotten completely used to my appearance compared to the rather normal face I had in my old world.
“Are you sure you made the right choice, Art? I can’t believe you wanted to go in as a scholar mage. I thought you would for sure go in as a battle mage like me,” Elijah remarked as he styled his hair. The trim straight black hair that he had was now shorter and styled to the side.
“And I can’t believe one of the main reasons you wanted to attend Xyrus as a battle mage student was because it had cuter girls.” I slapped him firmly on the back while giving him a perverted smile.
“Shut up… Just watch. The new and improved Elijah will be popular and find a girlfriend that can only make you drool in jealousy!” He adjusted his blazer, taking one last look at himself. Obviously satisfied by his appearance, he walked towards the door while I followed. Sylvie hopping on top of my head and her small claws dug into my scalp to keep grip, worrying me ever-so-slightly that I might bald prematurely.
“Took you boys long enough to get ready! Who are you guys trying to impress?” My mother wagged her finger at us while Tabitha, who was in an apron matching my mother’s, started giggling.
“Good morning, boys. Hurry up and eat. Lilia is going to be up onstage for the orientation since she’s part of the student council. She’s probably nervous by now so make sure you cheer her on.” Tabitha sat down across from us next to Mother and Ellie.
“I see the both of you are wearing the necklaces I gave you,” I noted while my mouth was still full of oatmeal and fruit.
“Yup, why wouldn’t I when it’s such a beautiful piece of jewelry? I wish your father had half the amount of sense that you do,” my mother sighed, fiddling with the Phoenix Wyrm ornament.
“All my friends are jealous because of how pretty it is! Be sure to get me things like these more, okay Brother?” Ellie leaned forward on her chair as she talked excitedly.
“Sure,” I dismissed, trying to calculate exactly how much something like the pendant would actually cost.
“Umm, Aunt Alice? do you mind healing my face before we go to school? I don’t want my debut at school to go wrong because of these cat scratches.” Elijah turned his gaze to Sylvie who stuck her tongue out in reply.
“Still fighting with Sylvie?” my mother grinned. “Come here and let me take a look at that.” She placed a hand in front of Elijah’s face and whispered a faint chant until a glow started emanating from her fingertips. A few moments later, the small scratches on his face disappeared as Elijah let out a content sigh.
“Thanks, Aunt Alice.” Elijah leaned back in his chair and continued eating breakfast.
My father came in, quite evident he had been training from the beads of sweat rolling down his face. “Sorry I’m late for breakfast! I was in the middle of a small breakthrough!” He eagerly sat down and looked at Elijah and me. “Wow, my two boys are already going to school. I can’t believe it. Looks like we raised Arthur well, right honey?” My father smiled broadly.
“What do you mean ‘we’? I was the one that raised him,” my mother scoffed, giving him a sly grin.
“I guess the only times I raised my children were when they got into trouble then?” My father raised a brow.
“As long as you know,” my mother stated matter-of-factly, causing the whole table to chuckle.
The only ones missing were Vincent and Lilia. Lilia had to go to school a few days earlier since she had to do some work for the student council but Vincent had been more and more busy these days as he was part of the management committee for the ship, Dicatheous, setting sail today.
“I was pretty surprised when you said that you wanted to attend Xyrus as a scholar mage though, Art,” my father brought up while scarfing down his eggs.
“Yeah, both are good choices but, in the end, battle mages are the ones that get all the glory,” Tabitha sighed. Lilia was a battle mage as well despite disagreements from both Tabitha and Vincent. The two of them wanted Lilia to become a scholar mage since it would be a lot less dangerous in the future but Lilia was persistent on making a name for herself.
“I’ll still take some general classes on mana battling whenever I can to loosen my muscles but there’s not much for me to learn if it’s just fighting tactics,” I chuckled.
“Not much to learn… If any of the students heard you say that, you’d get beat up—no wait, if the could even beat you up.” Elijah just laughed to himself at the thought of the massacre the school would have if anyone picked a fight with me.
“Please control yourself to a degree, Arthur. There are members of very influential families attending that school. You wouldn’t want to create trouble for Tabitha’s family,” my mother chided, her face filled with worry.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be sure to only moderately beat people up!” I saluted while stuffing my face with more oatmeal, Sylvie stealing the fruits mixed into it. My mother just shook her head but my father laughed, just as a maid walked in.
“Mr. Arthur, Mr. Elijah, the driver says that we should leave now if you are to make it on-time for the orientation ceremony,” she said while bowing.
“Well, off we go!” Elijah finished the last bite of his ham and stuffed some greens into his mouth before standing up and straightening his black blazer.
I stood up and walked around the table to where my mother and Ellie sat. “Mom, Ellie, before I leave, I need you guys to show me your index finger for a bit.”
“Huh?” My mother looked at me, confused, but nevertheless showed me her index finger while my sister unhesitatingly followed suit. I took a quick poke at both their index fingers with my mana-imbued finger, just enough for a droplet of blood to form on the tips of theirs.
“Put the blood on the necklaces.” The seriousness in my voice made them silently concede despite their initial surprise. They both placed their index fingers on their respective necklaces and the blood on the tip of their fingers got absorbed into the jewel immediately.
“These necklaces are now bound to you so only you two can wear them. They’ll protect you just in case me or Dad isn’t there, but still keep yourselves safe while I’m gone, okay?” I gave the both of them a strong hug and my sister teared up a little bit. I hugged my father and Tabitha as well, my father holding me firmly in his strong arms.
“Be good, boys, and don’t worry about us,” my father said.
“Come visit whenever you can and keep in touch!” My mother added before letting us off.
“Bye Brother, bye Elijah! Be safe!” my sister shouted out to us as we walked down the stairs.
“Your luggage is in the back of the carriage.” The driver bowed and opens the door for the both of us.
“Destination, Xyrus Academy!” Elijah pointed his finger to the sky as if making a declaration before getting inside the carriage.
I couldn’t help but smile, looking back at my old home, as I stepped inside the carriage that would bring me to my new one.
The ride to Xyrus Academy wasn’t too long since it was in the same city, but the campus itself was enormous, so going in through the main gate took some time.
There was an abundance of other extravagantly decorated carriages, some twice as long as normal carriages, with low-ranked mana beasts pulling them.
“Pshh… what a bunch of show-offs,” Elijah grumbled as he watched pompous-looking students, confidently stepping out of carriages, with decorated weapons to signify that they were either a conjurer or augmenter.
Our carriage was quite luxurious as well, but that was from the standpoint of commoners. Compared to those richly decorated carriages of major families, ours weren’t nearly as eye-catching.
“We have arrived, Master Arthur, Master Elijah.” The driver opened the door for us and we stepped out, the both of us inhaling a deep breath of the campus air.
“Huh…the air tastes the same here…Thought it’d taste better,” Elijah said while smacking his lips.
“Don’t be stupid.” I pushed my friend forward as we followed the crowd of students walking on the bright marble path.
“Holy mother of…” Elijah’s jaw dropped as he looked almost vertically up at the building in front of us. The enormous white building that had runes etched covering it left even me astounded.
“Let’s go in.” I snapped Elijah back to his senses and we walked in alongside the other new students attending this school for the first time.
Once inside, I winced by how loud it was. Thousands of excited students chattered away, some with friends that they had come with, some with people they were meeting for the first time.
“LET’S FIND A SEAT!” I needed to shout for Elijah, who was right next to me, to hear. Eventually, we found a seat in the middle of the auditorium near the back rows.
Looking around more carefully, I was surprised at how many dwarves and elves I spotted, chatting away with those around them.
“Wow, I’ve never seen full elves until now. Looks like it’s true that all three races can fully attend this academy now.” Elijah excitedly looked around, scouting for potential soul mates amongst the crowd. I couldn’t help but shake my head at the expected behavior, unable to see these students as anything other than little kids.
Getting bored of looking around me, I focused my attention on the stage where it was still empty except for a single podium. Suddenly, a sharp blur focused into form and I saw Director Goodsky standing behind the podium. She wasn’t wearing the oversized hat that conjurers normally wore like she did the last time we met almost four years ago. Instead, she wore an elegant white circlet that matched her white robe, appearing much more refined than the witch-like impression she had given off on our first encounter. Director Goodsky had her eyes closed but when she opened them, she seemed to be peering straight into me, sending shivers down my back. Smiling, she raised her hand slowly while her eyes remained locked onto mine.
By this time, many more of the incoming first years noticed her and began talking even louder, some cheering, but when Director Goodsky’s hand reached the level of her head, suddenly, everything went dead silent.
Looking around, everyone had expressions of surprise, because while everyone’s lips were moving, no sound was heard from anyone in the audience.
“Excuse me for my rudeness but I do hate speaking up. Not good for my throat, no it is not,” she said in a pleasant voice that—while soft—was heard perfectly clear, even from here in the back row.
“I welcome everyone here, the future leaders, scholars and powerhouses of Dicathen, to this humble academy. I am Cynthia Goodsky. Please call me Director Goodsky and do not be afraid to say hello when I walk around campus. I am no good with speeches so I stand here before you mages today to say hello, and introduce to you the Student Council that represents this academy and takes part in making important decisions along with me. Please give them a warm welcome.” She waved her raised hand and one by one, members of the council started walking out.
I first saw Jarrod walking confidently, looking straight ahead, his pretty boy face eliciting a wave of shrill screams from the girls in the audience. Behind him, a very playful, cheery guy came out waving at the audience and beaming us a bright smile.
“Look, look! There’s Lilia! We need to cheer!” Elijah stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs and I followed him, yelling her name as well. Her shy demeanor was nowhere to be seen as she walked calmly towards the center of the stage, where she gave small bows in each direction. There was no way she could see us or make out our individual cheers but we still gave it our all to cheer on our friend.
Behind her walked out a tall student with long, parted bangs. His face was frozen into what looked like a stern grimace with a sharp gaze that seemed to be looking down on everyone, giving him a rather pompous appearance. While the cheers for him wasn’t as loud as it was for Jarrod or the cheery guy, he, nonetheless, strode with practiced grace.
Finally, the last to arrive actually made the crowd silent. The unmistakable gunmetal silver hair that reflected the lights in the auditorium gave her a serene glow as her peachy-cream complexion made the boys around me gape. She turned to face the audience so that her round, turquoise eyes captured the hearts of every boy in this auditorium.
She was only thirteen…right?
I had a hard time believing the girl I couldn’t see as more than a kid had matured enough to catch me off guard. Her face still contained a childish innocence but the way she carried herself made me doubt that this was the same girl I had known since near-toddlerhood.
While still a little taller than Lilia, she was quite a bit shorter than the serious-looking guy next to her, but her posture made her seem bigger and grander than everyone else on the stage. Taking a deep bow, she came back up while tucking part of her hair behind her pointed ears, her face emotionless as a doll’s.
“My name is Tessia Eralith, and I am honored to stand here as this academy’s Student Council President.”