ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
“Hey, Art. I thought we were heading to your home; where’re we going?” Elijah turned to me after noticing we’d taken a different turn on the way back to Helstea Manor.
“There’s a place I need to stop by first. Don’t worry, it’ll be a quick detour,” I answered, quickening my pace even with Sylvie on my head.
Elijah broke into a jog behind me. “Wait up!”
When we reached the destination, I couldn’t help but let out a disappointed breath, my shoulders dropping.
“I thought so,” I mumbled to myself.
“Xyrus Elixirs? Did you need to buy something from here? It’s almost midnight; of course it’s closed.” Elijah cupped his eyes over the front glass door, hoping to spot someone inside.
“It’s nothing. Let’s head back home,” I replied. As I was about to turn away from the building, a shiny object, caught in the crevice of the aged alley leading to Xyrus Elixirs, caught my attention.
As I kneeled down to retrieve it, my eyes narrowed. It was an orb similar to the one used on Tess, except, instead of rainbow speckles inside, there were golden flakes floating within. Attached to the small marble-sized orb was a crudely written note:
Your little Princess will probably need this
“What are you staring so intently at?” Elijah leaned over my shoulder to see.
I crumpled up the piece of parchment and quickly shoved the orb inside my dimension ring.
“Let’s head back home first, Elijah. I’ll need to tell my family that I might have to miss a couple more days of school. Go back to the academy tomorrow and tell everyone that I’m okay.” I patted my best friend’s shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile in response to his concerned expression.
“Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about everything after.” With that, Elijah gave me an accepting nod back.
KATHYLN GLAYDER’S POV:
After finding out what had happened down at the dungeon from my brother, I was shocked. I almost wanted to blame him, to blame Professor Glory, to blame someone but I knew it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
Arthur is going to be okay, right? He’s just that type of person. No matter what situation comes up, he always returns with that lazy smile on his face that, for some reason, calms me.
“You’re being foolish, Kathyln,” I berated myself as I walked down the marble street to the disciplinary committee room. My thoughts lingered on Arthur as I imagined his grateful expression after heroically saving him… had I been there.
I shook my head, trying to snap out of my delusions. “No, no. It’s not my job to look after him. Besides, he already has the student council president.”
A few faint giggles from students passing nearby sent blood rushing up to my cheeks as I veered in another direction.
I’m confident that he’ll be okay! I convinced myself. I’m sure of it…
“Gah!” I heaved out before I quickly covered my mouth, surprised that I’d let out such a barbaric sound. After checking that I was alone in the alleyway between two buildings—a shortcut I had discovered to the disciplinary committee room—I exhaled a sharp breath of relief.
Maybe it was from the stress these days as a disciplinary committee officer. I had assumed things would stay quiet after the formation of the committee—almost to the point of wondering if we were even needed—but recently some unforeseen circumstances had been brought to our attention.
Claire Bladeheart, our leader, pulled each of us aside a few days ago. While explaining the cause, she implied that Arthur was an undeniable factor that led to this.
I wanted to rebut then, but I decided to hear her out. Claire had been secretly gathering information with Kai, who specialized in stealth. From what she’d explained, it seemed that there was a radical group dissatisfied with the direction the academy was heading toward recently.
This group was made up of only humans, and from the few faces that Kai was able to catch a glimpse of, they were all from rather high-up noble families.
One particular noble that had been spotted was named Charles Ravenpor. His father was on rather close terms with mine, but strictly for business. Father would always grumble in dissatisfaction after having a meeting with Mr. Ravenpor because of how ill-mannered and self-centered he was.
While I was jealous of Claire’s unwavering confidence that Arthur was still alive, she was also relieved that Arthur wasn’t here at the moment because he was supposedly one of the main reasons this radical cult-like group had started. There was a big faction from this group that thought Arthur did not belong in this academy because of his “humble” background. The fact that he was a professor on top of having the privilege of taking upper division classes fueled the already built-in hatred that some of the envious royal students had.
We weren’t allowed to confront them as of yet because of the lack of evidence, and the fact that they hadn’t really done anything bad yet, but from the looks of it, there were even some professors of this academy supporting them, making it all the more difficult to rashly make a move.
It wasn’t until a few days ago, though, that some of the radical group members started to act. Denton, one of my classmates that shared the same period in Arth—Professor Leywin’s class, was the victim. He had actually been one of the students that strongly opposed Professor Leywin teaching a class that was so important in building foundations as this. However, he’d warmed up to him—rather, he looked up to him now.
Hopping up on a storage crate to clear the fence, I looked down at the isolated building of the disciplinary committee. Looking behind, I could see the tip of the statue where Denton had just been found three days ago, battered and naked while hung upside down, for all of the passing students to see, a note covering his privates instructing him to drop out of the ‘plebeian’s class’ if he didn’t want this to happen again.
It turned out that he had been taken to one of the narrow alleys between the back buildings and beaten up by the radical group. From what Claire told me, they wanted to “teach” him how to properly use mana, since they didn’t really think Arthur was be good enough to nurture the “potential” that he had. Denton ended up becoming a target dummy for various spells when he resisted.
Director Goodsky was still away so her assistant, Tricia, and Professor Glory had ended up pulling him down and making sure he was okay.
Since then, having no choice but to act on behalf of Director Goodsky, Tricia had been trying to quell the anger from various elven and dwarven parents who thought this had to do with racial discrimination since the victim was an elf.
Needless to say, Denton was taking a break from school for the time being.
Why was this happening? What was the point of doing this? What good did dividing students like this do? Did these students have such low self-esteem that they needed to bring down anyone they thought was better than them to feel better about themselves? Why was it that the more power and privileges someone had, the more greedy they became?
Was it naive of me to wish for everyone to just work together for our continent?
To top it off, a dark and gloomy atmosphere had clung to the disciplinary committee room since the accident with Arthur. Claire and my brother hadn’t spoken at first, the both of them blaming themselves, while everyone remained frustrated because our actions were so restricted. Now, everyone was on high alert; all of the disciplinary committee upperclassmen were out for surveillance during the morning and afternoon while Feyrith and I took watch in the evening, with one of the upperclassmen helping us out instead of going to class.
Kai tried to find out their meeting spots but as soon as he had a lead, those places would always change. It seemed as if they were always one step ahead of us, always relocating so someplace new.
The professors were useless. Most of them were all talk in front of the dissatisfied elven and dwarven parents, saying they’d do their best to find the culprit, but not being able to take direct action because the human parents were also dissatisfied due to their children being accused of racial discrimination.
In the end, the professors were too tied in their little game of tug-of-war to be of much help. As they tried hard to be on both sides, they ended up being on neither.
That was the problem with a school so heavily funded by the parents of the students. The only one that had the authority to oppose them directly and openly was Director Goodsky, and she was nowhere to be seen.
It seemed as if her disappearance had allowed this radical group to now openly create a disturbance… because she wasn’t here to stop them.
I finally made it to the disciplinary committee room and walked up the stairs, the echo of Claire’s voice getting louder the closer I got.
“Things are escalating faster than we thought. I had a feeling that this would be the case—the group is trying to create as much of an uproar before Director Goodsky gets back and then go into hiding temporarily after,” Claire announced while leaning forward with her arms on the table. The dark bags underneath her eyes told me she hasn’t rested since getting back.
I took a seat after everyone acknowledged me with a nod, too frustrated to verbally greet me. I couldn’t help but notice it—the seat where Arthur usually sat, empty. But now wasn’t the time to brood. I turned my attention back to the group just as my brother began to speak.
“I talked to multiple professors about the situation like you asked, but it seems you were right. None of them were willing to actively help in finding the crux of the problem. They’re turning a blind eye to all of this because of our ‘lack of evidence,'” my brother reported through gritted teeth, running his fingers through his hair.
“We already know who one of the members of the groups are so why not just take that rat out and interrogate him? I doubt he has the balls to last even a couple of minutes before spilling out some secrets,” grunted Doradrea while leaning back in her chair.
“Already tried that but Charles Ravenpor is never by himself these days; he’s always surrounded by at least five lackeys. It’ll be impossible to take action secretly with them there. Besides, we need to think about our actions from the entire academy’s perspective. No matter how many things we could get away with, it wouldn’t look good if a student was just taken in by us without proper reason,” Kai argued, shaking his head.
Theodore pounded his fist on the table, tipping over a cup of water. “What the hell is the point of having something like the Disciplinary Committee if we can’t do anything in cases like this?”
“It can’t be helped. We know too little about what this group is planning on doing and more importantly, what they’re capable of. We have too little information on them and it doesn’t seem like there’s only a few of them,” Claire sighed as she sat back down.
“…We need to wait for Director Goodsky to come back,” I said.
“Of course that would be the best thing to do, but we have no idea where she is let alone when she’ll come back,” our leader responded.
“If only Arthur was here,” I mumbled aloud.
I immediately regretted what I said as my brother’s expression turned crestfallen as I mentioned him. They were both there and they were trying to stay strong. After getting the students back to the hospital, my brother told me that Professor Glory was planning on going back down with a reconnaissance team to look for Arthur. She’d said that there’s a high probability that he was still alive if he survived the fall because most likely, all of the mana beasts in the dungeon were on the first floor.
“Kat, I’m sorry, but we just can’t factor in Arthur as an element.” My brother tried his best to fake a smile.
“…He’ll come soon.” I must’ve said this aloud by mistake because everyone, even Theodore, gave me a pained look.
“Umm, excuse me?”
Every one of the Disciplinary Committee members, including myself, whipped our heads at the unexpected voice coming from the first floor of the room.
It was Arthur’s best friend, Elijah.
“Ah, you’re Arthur’s close friend, right?” Claire, who immediately softened her expression, motioned him upstairs.
“Yes, I’m sorry for intruding. I got to school a bit later than I expected but it’s great that you guys are all here. Listen, I know you guys are worried about Ar—”
Arthur’s friend was cut off by a series of thunderous explosions that shook even the reinforced walls of this room.