As I opened the door to the back entrance of the auditorium, I was met with an unexpected greeting.
My hair was blown back by a bloodcurdling roar as Sylvie had to cling onto me to avoid falling off. Along with the deafening shout of the mana beast that greeted me came bullets of saliva that showered my face and upper chest.
“There, there.” While wiping off the spit of the mana beast, I nonchalantly proceeded to pet its face, which was inches away from my own. This mana beast stood about two meters high on all fours. Its body was covered in thick dark brown fur and a deep red mane circled its head. Two pointed, vicious teeth spouted out from above its jaw, making it all the more menacing, but compared to Sylvie’s dragon form, I could only see it as an overgrown kitten.
Even Sylvie looked at the mana beast with little interest as she just settled back on top of my head.
“Woah… he wasn’t surprised at all…” From behind the mana beast peeked out a student that looked to be a couple of years older than I was. He had very dull, light gray—almost white—hair that reached over his brows. He had narrow eyes that were virtually slits and a smile on his face that didn’t come off as pleasant but more so mocking.
Though lean and tall, his overall frame looking quite frail. What stuck out the most, however, was that his uniform was very different from mine and any other I’d seen so far. He wore a loose, dark gray oriental-style robe that covered his arms and came down past his torso, black pants, and a golden sash tied around his waist. Peeking out of the inside of his robe was the insignia that all of the disciplinary committee members had to carry around—the silver knife. Something felt a tad off about him—something that made me wary.
“You must be the last DC officer to arrive! My name is Kai Crestless, a fourth-year! Just call me Kai.” His expression didn’t change at all, his eyes still narrowed and lips still smiling, but he put up his arm in a welcoming gesture, revealing hands that were completely wrapped in bandages so that it looked like he had gloves on.
“Hello. My name is Arthur Leywin. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” I shook his bandaged hands.
“Bah! Another frail-looking pretty boy! Why aren’t there any more real men in this committee?” Looking around, I found where the voice came from and couldn’t help but remember what Elijah had told me yesterday before dinner.
A female dwarf that came up to my chest with limbs as thick as tree trunks hopped down from where she was sitting and came up to me. The only indications that told me she was female were her long brown hair and high-pitched voice, neither of which suited her masculine appearance.
“Looks like we’ll be working together, so I might as well introduce myself. I’m Doradrea Oreguard, a first-year, like yerself. Let’s get along, ey?” she said simply while firmly smacking my back, sending a jolt throughout my body. What power.
“Arthur Leywin. Nice to meet you,” I replied, rubbing my back.
“Well, come on now! Follow me. Kai and I waited in the front to see who the last guy was going to be. The rest of the DC officers are in the other room. Director Goodsky didn’t really give us any details so everyone is curious.” She led me through a hall, Kai following behind us with the mana beast.
“Everyone! The last guy is here!” Doradrea shouted at the top of her lungs as we reached a room at the end of the hall.
Inside the gigantic room that I figured was used to hold events, I saw five other figures.
Without further ado, I walked up closer to greet them all at once. “My name is Arthur Leywin and I just started attending this academy as a scholar mage student. I am a dual-elemental attribute augmenter capable in wind and earth.” I offered a curt bow.
“Arthur Leywin?” The first voice that spoke up sounded surprised. Looking back up, I saw a boy that appeared to be around seventeen. He had deep, mahogany-colored hair that spiked out, making him look almost like a lion himself. His fierce sword-shaped brows combined with his strong brown eyes produced a striking gaze. It took me a couple of seconds but I soon realized who he was.
“If I remember correctly, you must be Prince Glayder?” The longer I looked at him, the more confident I became that he was Curtis Glayder, son of Sapin’s king.
“I can hardly call myself a prince now ever since the three kings and queens dismissed their titles and became The Council. Just call me Curtis.” He spoke very charismatically, his deep voice carrying a certain depth. His expression was a bit troubled though, no doubt because his father’s guard did cause some problems for me the last time we met.
“Nice to see you again, Curtis. You must be a fifth-year now, right?” I responded cheerily, which eased the troubled look he had.
“Yup! fifth-year fire attribute augmenter as well as a beast tamer. Nice to see you again,” he announced as we grasped hands. Curtis’ uniform looked much more intricate than Kai’s loose-fitting robe. His outfit reminded me of an old-fashioned military uniform without the cap. His black blazer had dark gray accents and gold buttons. A military cord attached from his right shoulder to the collar of his blazer, giving a refined yet fierce air to him.
“Ahh, that world lion that greeted me must be the one your father acquired at the auction several years back.” Everything clicked as the mana beast that so kindly greeted me sat down behind Curtis.
“Ah… did Kai use Grawder to scare you?” He shot a look at Kai who just shrugged back. “Anyways, yes. I remember you were with us when we purchased him as a cub. We formed an equals contract last year after he reached A class.” He tried to sound humble but I could tell he was extremely proud to call himself a beast tamer. I didn’t mind because it really was a great feat he had accomplished, especially since he was able to form an equals contract instead of a master-servant contract with his beast.
“Looks like your bond changed a bit as well! Although it didn’t really change much in size.” He rubbed his chin while studying Sylvie, who had fallen asleep on my head. Just by analyzing his internal mana circulation, Curtis didn’t seem to have gone through assimilation since the World Lion’s beast will wasn’t too strong on him.
“Yeah, her growth rate seems awfully slow,” I said indifferently.
“It’s okay! Even though there are quite a bit of students here that have bonds, most of them aren’t beast tamers and not many of them even have equals contracts.” He patted my shoulder, trying to comfort me.
Looking closely, Curtis and his world lion looked oddly similar. Curtis’ hair and Grawder’s mane were of comparable color and both of them had a fierce look.
“Ah, right! You remember my sister, Kathyln, right?” he continued. The pretty, petite black-haired girl gave me a silent bow. She was dressed very similarly to his brother except instead of pants; she wore a skirt that came down above her knees, much like all the other girls in this academy. The only girl I’d seen so far that hasn’t worn a skirt was Doradrea, which I had no complaints about.
“Nice to see you again.” I gave a simple bow in response. She had grown to look more and more like her mother. The stark contrast of her flawless porcelain skin and her jet-black hair, dark eyes, and long lashes made her look like a doll.
“Nice to meet you once more, Arthur. I am a first-year as well, coming in as a scholar mage student. I am a single specialist conjurer in ice attribute magic.” She bowed once more, her expression set like stone.
I see… She’s a deviant!
“I guess I’m next, although the order is off! My name is Claire! Claire Bladeheart. After the new changes in the school grade system, I’m considered a sixth-year battle mage student with dual attribute in fire and wind, and I’m also the leader of the disciplinary committee! I’m an augmenter like yourself, so just ask me if you have any questions!” This upperclassman oozed positivity and passion from her very pores. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as Tess or Kathyln but she did have her own charm, with her scarlet red hair that came down to her chin. Claire wore a military-style uniform as well but instead of golden cord like the Glayder siblings, both her shoulders had gold epaulettes, which were basically ornamental shoulder pads along with an embellished collar that went up around her neck. That, along with her light gray and gold-accented skirt with knee-high boots gave her uniform a much more royal feel compared to my simple one.
I tried imagining myself in a uniform like Claire’s or Curtis’ and I shuddered at the thought. While it looked great on her, I was glad that the DC officer uniforms were tailored to each of their preferences and that Director Goodsky made mine much simpler.
It took me a second to register but I suddenly remembered why her name sounded so familiar. “Are you perhaps related to Kaspian Bladeheart?” I questioned.
“Oh? Do you know my uncle?” She tilted her head to one side.
“No. I’ve just heard many great things about Kaspian Bladeheart’s strength from my father’s ex-party member.” I gave her a warm smile as she nodded in understanding.
“I see. Well, I received training from my uncle as soon as I had awakened so many of my techniques are similar to his. Of course, I still have a long way to go, though.” I saw her place a hand on the golden hilt of the rapier strapped on her left side.
“Long time no see, Arthur Leywin!” a tall blonde elf that looked to be a couple of years older than me walked up, crossing his arms while he looked down at me.
“I apologize… Do I know you?” I really had no idea who this elf was until Sylvie mentally transmitted who he was.
“Ah! You’re Feyfey!” I pointed at him in surprise. Boy, did he get big. He was at least a head taller than me and he turned out to become quite the pretty boy.
Feyfey’s face instantly turned beet red as he placed both hands on my shoulders. “It’s FeyRITH…Feyrith Ivsaar III. And although I’m a first-year like you, I’m still a couple of years older than you so don’t call me by nicknames. I’m a water specialist conjurer, by the way.” I could see veins popping from his forehead.
“Haha! Long time no see!” I exclaimed as I shook his hands. He just looked at me, bewildered. His uniform was completely black with gold stripes across his shoulders. It was simpler than everyone else’s but it suited him well.
“Last but not least, this is Theodore Maxwell!” Claire got in between Feyrith and I and directed my attention to the last member.
“Hmph! Seems like the disciplinary committee has stooped low enough to recruit twerps.” Theodore stood up and I swore I thought he was a bear. He stood at about two meters high at least, easily around the same height as Grawder. His uniform was just a vest that was unbuttoned, revealing his bulging muscles. By the tear marks on the arm openings of the vest, I could assume it wasn’t originally designed as a vest.
He stood in front of me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
Suddenly, I felt the weight on top of me increase several times over as my feet began sinking, the floor around me beginning to crack. This was a deviant capable of manipulating gravity.
My body was able to withstand it thanks to the assimilation I had gone through with Sylvia’s dragon will but I still definitely felt my body begin to protest. I strengthened my body further with mana as I lifted his hand off of my shoulder, my eyes dead set on Theodore.
He wanted to test me?
“Hmph.” Feeling the cold, wordless gaze I gave to him, Theodore released his skill and walked away, muttering, “Not bad.”
A whistle sounded from the cluster of students.
“Arthur has guts. Feyrith crumbled to his knees when Theodore did that to him.” Kai snickered from the side.
“Hey, I’m a conjurer and Arthur is an augmenter! Please do not compare me to brutes like you guys,” he lashed out, his face red from embarrassment.
“Now, now! I’m excited as to what this semester will bring us! We’re going to be a team from now on, guys! We’ll get lots of chances to bond and get closer, so look forward to it!” Claire piped up in a cheery voice as she puts her hand out.
“I’m looking forward to it!” Kai put his bandaged hand on top of Claire, his face still a mocking smile.
“Aye! Sounds like we’re going to have some interesting times!” Doradrea got on her toes as she put her beefy hand on top of Kai’s.
“Haha! Yes! Let’s do our best!” Curtis placed his hand in as well, Kathyln wordlessly following suit.
I’d just met everyone and I was already tired. “I’m sure it’ll be a blast,” I breathed out while placing my hand on top of Kathyln’s. Sylvie ran down my arm and placed her paw in as well.
Theodore put his massive hand on top of Sylvie’s and my hand, making the whole circle stumble a step forward. As Theodore gave a silent nod, Claire gave us a big, confident smile and shouted, “TO US! THE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE!”
“Before the club rush commences, the student council would like to formally introduce to you, the students of this academy, a group that was personally picked by the director in hopes to resolve and prevent disputes amongst students as well as enforce penalizing measures for troublemakers. While the student council’s main job is to help the director make sure this academy and the events held run smoothly, this group’s job allows them to use magic appropriately to uphold the peace and safety of students, whether against other students or trespassers. Please join me in welcoming the disciplinary committee!” Tessia’s voice rang at her last words.
The auditorium filled with applause as the red curtains we stood behind were raised. We stood there, shoulders square and hands glued to our sides. I had to admit that with people like Curtis with Grawder behind him, Theodore, Claire and even Feyrith, we were an impressive sight in our color-coordinated uniforms.
I took a peek at Tessia and I realized she was staring at me but as soon as our eyes met, she quickly turned her head away. As we stood in front of the students of Xyrus on the stage, side by side, we pulled out our knives and held them out in front of us so the insignia showed. Unsheathing our knives, we proceeded to do a small, choreographed routine before saluting the crowd.
Claire spoke out on behalf of the disciplinary committee with a short speech before we all headed out towards the back of the stage, leaving the crowd with mixed emotions.
For some students, the disciplinary committee meant to serve as a shackle that prohibited their spoiled behavior. For others, the disciplinary committee served as an aegis, protecting them from the threat of harm.
Either way, it would be an interesting school year.