My body couldn’t help but tremble in suppressed anger at the thought of being in the same class as that brat Lucas, and of all classes, a team-fighting class. The sick irony of having that traitor in a class focused on learning team cohesion in battles almost made me want to laugh.
Our eyes met but he looked at me apathetically, like I was an insect on the ground.
“Good! Everyone’s here!” a loud voice suddenly booms over the field. As all of the students started turning their heads to locate where the voice had come from, I looked straight up to see a massive hawk-like mana beast hovering over the field.
This beast was at least 4 meters long and its wingspan was well over 8 meters. With its sharp talons tucked underneath it, the beast slowly made its descent, revealing a well-toned woman with a giant sword strapped to her back, standing up on the back of the hawk.
“Welcome! My name is Professor Glory, and I will be the one teaching all of you brats! This Flare Hawk is Torch, my precious bond.”
The first thing I did was measure the stage our professor’s mana core was at, but upon trying to inspect her level, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my head as Professor Glory whipped her gaze at me. Giving me a confident smile, she gazed down in my direction. Hopping off of her Flare Hawk, she made her way around the group of students in her class. Studying each of the students she passed, she took a closer look at some of them before making her way towards me.
It wasn’t unusual for mages to build defenses around their core stages, especially the higher level ones. It was also a lot more difficult to hide which element they used, since the mana particles of their element naturally surrounded them. Most don’t find the need to hide their elemental attribute so it wasn’t a big deal even if they couldn’t, but needless to say, it was surprising to see how strong Professor Glory’s defenses were.
I couldn’t tell what her core stage was or even her elemental attribute. While I got the hang of masking my core stage level, I needed to use seals in order to completely hide my elemental attributes. I wasn’t sure whether she used seals like I did but one thing was for sure: she knew I was the one inspecting her.
“I have to say, you guys have set the bar pretty high for all of the other classes,” she announced after inspecting Lucas. She took quite a bit longer to inspect the disciplinary committee and the student council members, nodding every once in awhile.
“Well if it isn’t my newest colleague, Arthur Leywin. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Professor Glory gave me a playful grin, as if she was itching to tease me.
The students started murmuring amongst the group in confusion.
One of the male upperclassmen raised his hand. “Professor Glory, what do you mean by colleague?”
“Ah! Most of you probably saw him at the commencement this morning but this boy is a freshman disciplinary committee officer. A real prodigy if I do say so myself. He’s also a newly appointed professor for the Practical Mana Manipulation class that you guys all took during your underclassman years.” She gave me a firm pat on the back.
“You can’t be serious, Professor!”
“If that brat is a professor then I’m the king of this continent!”
“What has this academy turned into, to accept a freshman as a professor?”
“How is that even possible? Even the best upperclassmen these days don’t get picked to be professors, but that first year did?”
The various noises of protests made me sigh. They were bound to find out eventually but it would’ve taken the upperclassmen a bit longer to find out this news, considering they didn’t really get much information about the lower division classes.
“GRRRR~” Sylvie’s fur stood on-end as she growled warningly at the group of students. ‘Papa is stronger than all of you combined!’
Everyone had seen Sylvie by now, whether it was from passing through the academy or at the commencement ceremony earlier today so no one really cared much about the tiny mana beast on my head that could turn big enough to swallow them whole.
“Now, now! Before we jump straight into complaints, we should have more faith in the director’s decision. He has qualified to some degree by beating the professor that taught the class previously!” She shot me a wink.
“But Professor Glory! The underclassmen professors aren’t all that great anyway! I bet some of the upperclassmen students here could beat most of them!” Another round of complaints issued on, making me grow sleepy. Must’ve been the food coma setting in from lunch.
“Haha! To be honest, I’m itching to test how strong you really are, boy! Unfortunately, Director Goodsky made it clear for us to not do that. So! These students here will test you in my place!” She put her hands on her hip, grinning in anticipation.
By now, I noticed a sudden raging fire burning in some of the male students’ eyes as they looked at me. I could almost see the words they were thinking etched into their face.
‘I’m going to kill this bastard.’
‘Who does this brat think he is?’
‘Murder, murder, murder, murder…’
‘I’m jealous. Why is he good looking too? He needs to die.’
The female students, on the other hand have a look in their eyes that scared me even more. Their stares remind me of hyenas looking at fresh meat as they almost drooled over the ‘goods’ that I suddenly became to them.
Taking a glance at Tess, I notice that she has a surprised look on her face, her lips curling slightly in pride, but when she noticed that I was looking at her and quickly glanced away, her ears a little red.
Sigh, you know… it’s not weird for you to talk to me.
Clive, on the other hand, scowled in contempt while Lucas looked at me with his brow raised in renewed interest, as if I had gotten promoted from an insect to a mammal.
“Director Goodsky told me to take it easy on my upper division classes until I adjusted to school. This is my first day, after all,” I tried to ease my way out of this. Fighting against these hormonal teenagers wasn’t going to end well.
“Oh, come on! That’s no fun now, is it? In order to get proper respect, a certain amount of skill needs to be shown, you know? It’s just to prove to us that you are actually capable of being in this upper division class. Isn’t that right, class?” she shouted.
Was this a military boot camp or something? Why was there always a reason to prove myself in whatever situation came up?
“Sigh… What did you have in mind, Professor Glory?” I said in defeat. This wasn’t going to end and I didn’t want to waste my breath in arguing with people who didn’t want to hear logic.
“Fear not! I am a just and fair woman!” she harrumphed.
Just and fair, my ass.
I felt as if she had just read my mind because she wrapped her well-built arm around my neck and squeezed. Unlike the Twin Horns’ Angela’s chest, hers was muscular and hard, not much different from a man’s.
“We will start off this semester by playing a little game! Aren’t I so nice?” By the look on her face, she was the most excited about this. Continuing on, she said, “So! What kind of game should we play… a mock team battle? War?”
“How about having the three disciplinary committee officers on the same team, Professor? I feel like that could be a good way to let us work on teamwork as well,” Curtis raised his hand as Claire nodded in agreement next to him.
“Hmmm, not a bad idea!” she responded while rubbing her chin.
“But Professor, both Curtis and Claire are top students in this academy! It wouldn’t be fair to have both of them on the same team as him,” a tall, black-haired teen argued.
“That’s true…. Aha! I got it! For the DC team, we will have Arthur play the role of king, the match resulting in an immediate loss if he gets put out of battle. I think that should be fair. Now, what about the other team?” As if she was talking to herself, she started muttering off possible candidates when a hand raised.
“Professor. How about having the student council president and I as their opponent?” Clive suggested.
“What?” Tess turns her head to Clive in surprise. But before she had the chance to object, Professor Glory clasped her hands.
“OHH! Now things are getting interesting! But it would be unfair to have only the two of you against the three of them.” She looked around the group of students.
“I think the president and I will suffice if the immediate loss rule affecting Arthur Leywin is implemented,” he said seriously.
“I’ll volunteer to be on the Student Council Team,” Lucas Wykes said calmly while leaning on his staff.
“Hmmm, Mr. Wykes, our other genius freshman… Very well! It would be a good chance to see your abilities in action as well!” I could tell she had a twinge of doubt. Maybe she’d heard some rumors about him.
Some of the other students groaned in disappointment that they didn’t get the chance to beat me up and be on the same team as the student council president but everyone was clearly excited to see the match.
“The match will have a time limit of 30 minutes, where we will have a short discussion and a breakdown of it afterwards. Please gear up!” With that, a pile of what looked like exercise gear dropped to the ground out of Professor Glory’s dimension ring.
Turning serious, she began explaining. “This is special equipment designed by artificers to measure the amount of damage that is dealt. This equipment will activate, releasing a shrill noise, if the damage it takes passes the threshold that’s encrypted into it. If anyone chooses to ignore this warning and continues to fight or cast spells, it will lead to immediate expulsion from my class and other possible consequences regarding your stay here as a student. This rule goes for any upper division fighting class in this academy, so engrave it into your guys’ brains. All of you are at the level where protecting yourselves with mana shouldn’t be a problem. Let me reiterate this but, this equipment won’t protect you so don’t rely on it as a source of protection,” She announced to everyone else in the class as well. Clearing her throat, Professor Glory shouted. “Do I make myself clear?!”
“Good! Now, the six of you gear up.” She got back on her bond while the rest of the students headed towards the viewing platform.
Curtis came up to me and patted my back before picking up his gear. “Well, it seems like we’re going to have an early practice session! Let’s do our best, Arthur. I still remember you wanting a sword back then. Let’s see how good you are!”
“We can’t embarrass the DC name now, can we? I’ll make practice extra hard for anyone who doesn’t meet standards!” Claire grinned evilly while grabbing her gear.
Clive and Lucas walked past me, ignoring me as I went after them to pick up my gear. The gear consisted of a tight jacket and a series of straps that I wrapped around my legs and arms.
I was having trouble putting on the arm wraps when Tess silently came up and helped me bind the straps around my right arm.
“Is it okay for Princess Tessia to be helping me like this?” I smirked while letting her help me.
Shooting me a glare, she tightened the straps, jerking my arm towards her. “Can it, Mr. Genius. They’re over there anyways. Sigh…I can’t stand acting like I don’t know you.” Her gaze softened.
“You know, they’re going to find out eventually. Why try so hard hiding it?” I shrugged.
“You mean… you don’t care? Grandma Cynthia mentioned to me about you wanting to keep a low profile so I thought…” Her face lost composure as she started stuttering.
“Pff… Well I haven’t been doing a very good job of that, now have I?” I couldn’t help but snicker, confusing Tess even more.
“It’s okay. There are just a few things I mainly wanted to hide. As long as those remain a secret, the rest doesn’t really matter. For one, do you notice anything?” I stuck out my chest to let her analyze me.
“I don’t get what… Ah! I can’t sense your—mfff!”
She was getting too loud so I had to cover her mouth. Leaning closer to her face, I whispered, “Yup, that, and Sylvie’s true identity as well. I’m keeping most of my abilities a secret for now so you have to do your part as well. Maybe keeping the fact that I visited your kingdom a secret might be a good idea but you don’t have to ignore me, Tess.” I let go of her mouth and patted her head, making her flush and push me away from her.
“Y-You’re too c-close,” Tess muttered under her breath as she’s tilted her head down.
“Are you guys done flirting over there?” Professor Glory’s voice from above surprised the both of us as I quickly finish adjusting the straps.
“Ah! Arthur. I suggest you leave your bond in a safer place if she’s not capable of assisting you during the battle like Curtis’ bond.” She pointed towards the viewing platform.
“Kyu!” Sylvie cried in protest.
“I think it’ll be better for you to sit this one out, Sylv,” I said while patting her small head.
‘Aww… Okay.’ She jumped off my head before scurrying off out of the field.
Tess just finished putting on her gear as I went up to her. “Let’s both do our best. I want to see how much you improved.”
Giving me a confident smile, she said back, “You better watch out then,” before running off to the other side of the field where Clive and Lucas were.
I headed towards Curtis and Claire. Claire was stretching while Curtis mounted on top of his World Lion, Grawder.
“Even with Grawder, we’re still at a disadvantage because they have two conjurers and Clive is a long range augmenter. The fact that it’s an instant loss for us if your gear activates gives us a seriously limited set of options.” Claire leaned on her unsheathed sword while stretching her leg back.
“You’re right. Claire and I don’t really know anything about your fighting style so we’ll match your pace. We’ll take priority in protecting you while we get in range to do some damage.” Curtis responded while petting Grawder.
I looked for Tess, Clive and Lucas and spotted them a few dozen meters away. Seemed like we were going to be target practice for them until we got in range. This would be fun.
I couldn’t help but grin as my blood boiled. It would feel good giving Lucas a few good blows during the match, although I could only imagine that both Lucas and Clive were thinking the same thing.
I took out Dawn’s Ballad, making sure to not take out its sheath, as both Curtis and Claire readied their weapons as well.
“That’s a beautiful sword you have there, Arthur,” Claire whistled as she stared at my blade. Then she released a fierce battle aura as she infused both wind and fire attribute mana into her body.
I had to admit that Curtis also looked pretty damn impressive wielding his dual double-edged swords while mounting his bond.
I turned forward as well, imbuing wind and earth mana into my body and sword. My hair and clothes fluttered as the ground beneath me pulsed to my command.
Professor Glory’s powerful voice echoed through the battlefield, signaling us to begin.
“LET THE MATCH COMMENCE!”