The face of the dual-wielding boy visibly paled as he froze at the unmistakable voice. I turned to see that the whole student council was walking towards us through a gap created by the students.
Taking calm but hurried strides in the front was Tess, her doll-like face expressionless. Behind her, I spotted Lilia, who gave me a worried look.
My attacker immediately recalled his two blades into his dimension ring and gave a respectful bow towards them, sweat beading down his forehead.
“What is going on, Arthur?” Jarrod is the one that spoke up, making everyone in the crowd raise an eyebrow in surprise.
“Looks like the scholar Mage knows someone from the student council.”
“No wonder he was acting so cocky just now.”
“Pfft. Did you see him raise up his arm like he was going to stop the attack with his bare hands?”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the whispers from the crowd. Even for preteen children, I had expected them to be taught manners to some degree since they were all from influential families.
“No, nothing much happened, although you should go take a look at that dwarf student lying over there—Boznean, I think that was his name.” I pointed over to the tree where the dwarf was still groaning while clutching his stomach.
Elijah walked towards me, hoping to distill the situation. “Hi, Lilia. Sorry, we ended up getting caught up in this little scuffle after the duel between them ended. No harm done!” He gave a slight wave at her as he started talking while directing his words at Tess, her face still shrouded in a mask of apathy.
“Still, this student was about to attack you when a duel wasn’t even issued. This is a serious offense.” Lilia stepped up, her gaze a bit sterner as she pulled out a small notebook and jotted something down.
While Lilia, Jarrod, and Elijah were talking about what exactly happened, Tessia’s piercing eyes drilled into me, as if she was expecting me to do something. Honestly, even with extended life experience, I have no confidence in what to do when it came to these situations.
Did she want me to treat her respectfully as the student council president? Did she want me to treat her as a childhood friend? Did she want to keep our past relationship a secret as a whole?
‘It’s Mama!’ Sylvie ‘kyu’d’ on top of my head, and I had to firmly tell her to hold still and not go to her.
Meanwhile, the crowd was getting more and more rowdy, the males doing the best they could to get a better look at Tess, hoping to engrain her image into their memories to use in times of loneliness or longing.
“You. I believed I asked you a question. Do you dare?” She took a step forward, her eyes boring down on the second-year student. I was thinking that the student was technically a level higher than Tess, but when I took a look at the ribbon that was tied neatly underneath her collar, it had two stripes as well.
“N-No. Of course I would never dare break the rules like that. I simply wanted to scare the boy—I had planned to stop before my weapon would hit him. But seeing that I was still acting rashly, I apologize,” he said, shooting me a threatening glare as he bowed to Tess.
“Leave.” Her eyes continued to look down at him as he shuffled a good distance away before he turned around and ran out of sight, a few of the boys in the crowd following after him; most likely the ones that fanned the flame in this whole scuffle.
“And you! Why are you starting a fight with a senior on the first day of school? You should know your place! No matter how rowdy he may have been, he is still your senior and he didn’t break the rules when dueling with the other student. Furthermore, he is a battle mage student while you are a scholar mage student. Did you not pay attention to my speech about discrimination between the two sects of students here? Yet, you still chose to interfere, making these types of problems apparent on the first day!” She knit her arms tightly as her stern gaze bore down on me, her face flushed with either anger or embarrassment—which of the two, I couldn’t tell.
“What?” My gaze narrowed as I asked, unsure if I heard her correctly.
I took a step forward this time, and I could see Elijah’s eyes widen in horror as he realized I was going to go past the point of no return.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me like you’re lecturing me based on a presumption you drew from the last five seconds of stumbling upon this situation. Are you really lecturing me, right now?” I took another step forward and I could see Tess’s once haughty face beginning to crumble.
“He was about to seriously injure or even kill that dwarf lying there right now, after the duel system broke. If I hadn’t stopped that arrogant brat, you would’ve had to deal with a murder case, not an unregulated fight between two students,” I continued, my voice coming out louder than I had wanted to.
“I apologize for the trouble I’ve caused, Student Council President,” I said icily, stunning everyone, including Tess.
As soon as I turned around, a hard lump formed in my throat from the guilt. I had just mocked the students for their immaturity, but here I was, acting the same way. I had forgotten that Tess was just a thirteen-year-old girl, yet I had expected her to act in a way that even I couldn’t.
Elijah followed closely behind as I kept walking, my pride keeping me from turning back around.
What a lovely reunion.
“Hold it, first year.” Clive Graves ran towards me, grabbing me by the arm as he tried to spin me back around. “Were you raised in a cave? Are these the manners your mother taught you growing up? Do you even know who she is?”
Holding firm, I stopped and looked at him over my shoulder.
I knew from first glance that I would’ve never gotten along with him, but his words somehow had the power to irk me more than most fools. Was I raised in a cave? Was he seriously deprecating my mother?
“Let go.” The malice dripping in my voice startled even Elijah as he instinctively took a step back. Clive immediately released my arm, jumping away as he guarded himself with mana.
I took a quick glance at Tess and realized she’d fallen down, more from surprise than out of fear. There was a brief moment where I asked myself if I should help her back up, but as a crowd quickly formed around her to make sure she was okay, I simply let out a sigh and continued my way towards the dorm. Elijah trailed behind as gasps and startled murmurs resounded behind us.
“President Tessia, please get back up! Are you okay?”
“Who the hell was that? I think Treasurer Jarrod called him Arthur, right?”
“Oh man, he is so screwed. He just told off the student council president of the academy.”
Elijah took a few hurried steps to catch up to me, eventually walking by my side. “You know what you just did, right? Man, you sure love attracting trouble, don’t you? First the dungeon and now this?” He shook his head but continued to follow me as he reassured me nonverbally that he’d remain by my side.
I almost chuckled at the fact that no one knew my history with Tess until another wave of guilt twisted my insides. Maybe I was bit too harsh on her—no I was definitely too harsh on her. She’s still just a little girl! I shouldn’t have lost my patience just because she acted her age.
As the guilt consumed my thoughts, I slapped my cheeks and decided to let nature take its course—because that was always the best course of action to take in a relationship.
School should at least be this exciting, right? I comforted myself. I wasn’t really mad at her, but for some reason, my patience had grown thin at that moment. I knew I should reconcile with her before it became too awkward but I got the feeling that the timing was going to be an issue.
Elijah and I had managed to make it to our dorm building without further trouble. There were two male dorms and two female dorms within the academy. The two set of dorms were separated by underclassmen and upperclassmen. Underclassmen were students that were still taking their general education classes. These students were then moved into the upperclassmen dorms after they’d finished their general education courses and had formally decided on what type of student they were going to be.
The underclassmen dorms were simple, to say the least. It was clean and well-kept but lackluster in terms of furniture or decorations. It was a warm beige-colored interior with stairs that went all the way up to the top floor, where each floor contained a narrow hallway lined with rooms.
“Room 394. We’re here!” Elijah unlocked the door by placing his palm on a round stone above the handle. It looked to be a simple artifact used to read basic mana signatures. As soon as he had opened the door, Sylvie bolted into the room, immediately making a nest out of one of the beds.
The room wasn’t nearly as fancy as the one in the Helstea Manor but had a very homey feel. Walking in, to our right were two closets and to our left was a small bathroom crammed with two adjacent sinks, a shower and toilet.
Two beds were placed side by side, separated by a nightstand placed against the left side of the wall while on the right side was a long drawer for folded clothes. The sleeping area and the studying area were divided by a wall that came up to our waist, with three elevated steps leading to an arrangement of desks and couches. The two desks were placed against walls opposite of each other so we would be seated facing away while studying. A long couch was positioned against the miniature wall, separating the desks from the beds. The far side of the wall was made almost entirely of glass, which instantly attracted me towards it. The view encompassed a big portion of the campus, which was currently a canvas of fall colors. Looking at it from here, I would have no idea that this place was an institute for mages without being told so.
I took a seat on the couch, somewhat excited about the days to come. Sylvie leaned against the window, looking out at the view.
“Ahh! We didn’t even have dinner yet but I’m already pooped! I wonder whose fault that is?” Elijah jumped on the far bed that was right behind the couch, the one that Sylvie hadn’t claimed as hers.
I fell onto the couch, my body practically melting from fatigue. My eyes glazed over, staring off into the sky outside my window until I noticed the pile of luggage cases that were brought in by our driver beforehand. Letting out a sigh, I turned away and denied their existence, dreading the hours of unpacking to come.
TESSIA ERALITH’S POV:
GAAHHHHHH! I screwed up. I screwed up. I screwed up. I TOTALLY screwed up!
I buried my head into my pillow and screamed my lungs out in frustration.
“MMMMMMMFFFFFFFFFPPPHHH!” We were supposed to have an emotional, romantic reunion! Well, it was emotional, but in the complete opposite direction! Why did I even say all of that anyway? Why did I lash out at him? I know Art would never pick a fight without a reason but I just went and told him off on something I didn’t even see! Gah!! I’m so stupid!
I bet he hates me now…
Why did I say that! I even brought up my speech! Bahhh! I must’ve sounded like such a snob! But still, we were in a crowd like that and he did have some fault in the commotion. B-But…
I’m sure he hates me now…
If Art just greeted me or even just talked to me normally, I wouldn’t have said that! That’s right! It’s all Art’s fault! He even ignored me when I came all the way there to help settle the mess he was in! He didn’t even say hi! I wasn’t expecting a full-blown hug or even a k-k-kiss or something! Just a ‘long time no see, Tess,’ would’ve been fine! Who was that black-haired guy that reminds me of a raven, anyway? Is he his friend? Best friend? It seemed like the both of them knew Lilia and Jarrod! Gahh! This is so frustrating!
I screamed into my pillow again in hopes of releasing some of my frustration. “MMMMMFFFFFF!”
A sudden knock on my door jolted me upright.
“This is Clive…I’m here to check up on you. Are you feeling okay?” I heard the muffled voice through the door.
I quietly cleared my throat before I responding. “I’m fine, thank you.” I used my ‘public’ voice, as I called it, which made me sound much colder.
“Who was that first year, anyway? I can’t believe he dared lecture you like that when you were trying to give him advice! Should I talk to the director about this? We could get him punished and—”
“It’s fine, so leave. Don’t go to the director, either…that’s an order.” I spoke harsher than I usually did to get the point across. How dare he badmouth Art. Only I can badmouth him.
I fell back onto my pillow after I heard the faint sound of his footsteps leaving. Dorms were separated by gender and class while before, it was separated by the type of student you were. For the student councils though, we each had our own room in a building that was right next to the Director’s office. It was uncomfortable living with guys in the same house, but Lilia was here, and the guys were generally okay, so I didn’t mind too much.
Stupid Arthur. Did you know how much I wanted to scream out your name and run to you when I saw you in the audience? Even if he was far away, how could I ever miss that bright auburn hair with a mana beast resting on top of his head! Sylvie looked really different from when she had first hatched but that didn’t surprise me. The fact that she was a dragon was something that should’ve shocked me but with Art, nothing he ever did could surprise me… he was just like that.
“Haaa….” I didn’t even have the energy to scream in frustration anymore. I wanted to blame Art for all of this but I knew he wasn’t all at fault. He probably wanted to keep our relationship a secret for me since I was a public figure here. But still… Why was Art only dumb when it comes to a girl’s heart?
I hope he doesn’t hate me…
There were so many questions I wanted to ask him too. What has he been doing? How was his time as an adventurer? Did he get hurt anywhere? Did he miss me? Did he think of me at all these past four years?
I wanted to brag to him how much stronger I’d gotten too… After directly training under the director, my skills as a conjurer improved by leaps and bounds. I would’ve trained under Grandpa, but it wasn’t the best idea because he was an augmenter, which limited what he could teach me. He taught me the basics of mana manipulation but as far as going down the route of a conjurer, the director knew a lot more. She was also familiar with the differences in elves and humans, which helped her train me specifically.
Grandpa knew I had great potential because, when I first awakened, I created an implosion that blew up my entire room and part of the downstairs kitchen. That was back when Art used to live with us. That was when I had to wake him up every day too.
Oh no. I shouldn’t start crying. Art wouldn’t hate me just for that, would he? I should just clear things up with him and apologize. He wouldn’t ignore me, right?
‘Curse his ignorance and insensitivity towards the female heart!’
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
I watched idly as Sylv took a nap beside me on the couch, her tiny body heaving up and down with each tiny breath.
“It’s not like you to explode like that all of a sudden though, Art. It would’ve made more sense for you to just ignore her and walk off, right?” Elijah was still lying down in his bed, his hand propping his head up as he faced me.
“Well, I admit I shouldn’t have exploded but I couldn’t help—”
We both turned our heads to the door when two brisk knocks interrupted our conversation.
“That’s strange, who would want to see us on the first day? Maybe our neighbors are just saying hello?” Elijah got up to answer the door.
“Who is…” After a brief silence, I turned to see Elijah frozen still. Getting up to see what was going on, I saw Director Goodsky standing nonchalantly at the door, smiling at me.
“Good evening, Arthur. Elijah. May I come in?”