“D-D-Director Goodsky! I-It’s an honor to meet you in person.” Elijah gave a forceful bow that looked almost comedic towards the ever-graceful Cynthia Goodsky.
He lifted his head back up too quickly, almost dropping his glasses in the process while the director gave a polite smile, the crow’s feet around her eyes adding to her charm.
“Please come in, Director Goodsky. Elijah, stop blocking the doorway.” I pulled out the chair from my desk, motioning for the director to take a seat on the sofa.
“I told you to call me ‘Cynthia.'” She pouted as she almost floated past Elijah and took a seat on the couch, the door closing on its own. The amount of harmony she had with the wind element continued to amaze me, as the air around her almost seem to bend to her will without even a command.
“I don’t think it would be wise of a twelve-year-old with no background to be on a first-name basis with the director of the most prestigious academy in this continent.” I chuckled as I took a seat on my desk chair while she sat cross-legged on the couch cushion, her back straight and proper.
“My…your bond has changed a lot in appearance since the last time we met. Intriguing.” Cynthia tried to hold Sylvie, who was curled on the couch, but she hopped out of her reach and nestled herself on top of my head.
“Haha, as shy as before, I see.” She gave Sylvie one last studying look before turning her gaze to me. “Hmmm…how peculiar. I seem to only sense wind and earth attribute mana inside of you. Are you, by chance, using a seal?” She tilted her head to the side while Elijah stood ramrod straight behind her, as if in front of a commanding officer in war.
I lifted my left arm to reveal my bracelet with two charms dangling on it to answer her question.
“Can’t say I’m not disappointed. I was hoping to go around flaunting you as my little protégé but I guess even a dual elemental augmenter is rare enough to do so. Though you becoming a scholar mage student was something that I definitely expected.” She let out a soft chuckle.
“I was planning on paying a visit to your office to update you on some things but it saves me the trouble with you coming here, I guess. I’ve probably made an enemy from a not-so-friendly family while I was an adventurer so I don’t want to give him any reasons to suspect me, at least not right now.” I leaned back in my chair, studying the two charms attached to my bracelet.
“Yes, I’ve read the reports on the case between Adventurer Note, and Adventurer Lucas Wykes. Quite a troublesome foe you’ve managed to procure. Since they are a military house, I do have a certain amount of authority over his family, but they have too many hidden workings that continue to elude us.” Director Cynthia rubbed her chin, trying to think of a solution.
“It’s fine. I don’t consider that an urgent matter. He’s just a chore I’ll have to get around to finishing someday. If I do something rash now and it blows back to my friends and family, that’s when it will be a problem. I would actually like your help with another matter.” I put my elbows on my knees as I leaned forward towards Director Cynthia.
“Please speak,” she kindly replied.
“I want to take higher level mana theory classes, especially those on deviants,” I stated simply.
“Hmm… That wouldn’t be too difficult to do, but Arthur, wasn’t one of your main reasons for attending this academy to fit in with your peers?” She eyed me in a scrutinizing manner.
“I don’t mind taking these extra classes on top of my normal ones, where I would be with students my age. I’m just impatient to learn a bit more about deviant mana manipulation since I’ve hit a ceiling on that recently.” I almost blurted out, ‘since there was no deviation magic in my old world.’
“Fine. I can make that happen, and I can even give you a pass to permit you to observe the upper class top mages’ mock battles as well.” She sounded magnanimous but I only eyed her suspiciously.
“Okay… So what’s the catch?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Arthur, I’m heartbroken! I only wanted to do this for your growth!” She over-exaggeratedly placed a hand on top of her heart, as if genuinely offended.
“Art! You’re being rude to the director!” Elijah looked a little panicked, as he couldn’t see the director’s facial expression as she did this.
I smiled at her, waiting silently for an answer.
Goodsky sighed. “Very well. Of course I believe it’s only fair to receive some compensation for doing these kinds of favors for you,” she caved in, baffling Elijah.
“I hope you don’t say something absurd like joining the student council.” I shook my head.
“I heard of your little bout with the princess earlier,” she laughed as my face turned a bit red in embarrassment.
“I didn’t expect the ever calm and composed Arthur Leywin to explode like that. I guess Princess Eralith is a bit special?” She was still snickering at my embarrassment.
“Wait, what does she mean by that, Art?” Elijah walked towards us so he could see the both of us now, although he remained standing out of respect towards Cynthia.
Before the Director answered, she looked to me to see if I was okay with it. After giving her an unconcerned shrug, she told Elijah. “Your best friend also happens to be the childhood friend of our lovely student council president.” The Director’s lips curled up into a sly grin, as if she was just a teenager telling some rich gossip.
I was a little worried that Elijah’s jaw might unhinge by how much his face slacked. I could see a mixture of emotions, from shock to betrayal to envy, all in his face.
“How? When? What?” He couldn’t produce complete sentences as he tried to wrap his head around the whole situation.
Ignoring him, I turned back to Cynthia. “How did you find out, anyway?” I asked, curious. “I’m not surprised that you know but it shouldn’t be something you could just randomly stumble upon either.”
“Haha, about that… Virion Eralith happens to be an old acquaintance of mine. I didn’t tell anyone else, but I did excitedly mention to him that my academy would be receiving a gifted quadra-elemental mage in a couple of years. He and I were quite competitive since way back, but he took the news quite calmly, which made me suspicious. However, I didn’t find out until I took in his granddaughter as my disciple. Do you know the first thing she said when I took her in?”
I could tell she was trying to hold in her laughter, but why? I just shook my head in defeat, my face becoming even a deeper shade of red.
“‘When is Arthur Leywin going to start attending this school?'” Director Cynthia said in a high-pitched voice, attributable to a younger Tess. For how grand and mysterious she might seem to everyone else, here she was, laughing like a preteen, taking joy in my embarrassment.
“What? Art! How do you know her?” I could tell that Elijah practically wanted to choke the answers out of me but was holding it in since the director was still here. Although, she probably wouldn’t have minded.
“Eventually, I pieced two and two together. Really…Being trained by Virion, I feel somewhat betrayed, Arthur.” She put on a pouting face again.
By this time, Elijah had just sunk into his desk chair, giving up, done with life.
“I don’t mean to intrude in on your love life but she thinks very highly of you, Arthur. I’m sure she didn’t mean to come across as the way she did earlier. My training regimen is not easy and the few that have tried before her have failed. The reason she is able to keep up and continue to train under me is because of her desire to catch up to you, Arthur. Even you must realize that you acted quite immaturely back there.” She caught me off guard, suddenly scolding me like a disappointed mother.
“Yeah. I know how dumb I acted there as well, no need to remind me.” I sighed, leaning further back into my seat.
“You will make up with her soon, right? I’d hate to see my disciple disheartened while she trains.” She smiled at me gently before continuing. “What I want from you is not to be in the student council, but actually be a part of a committee that is going to start this year. The disciplinary committee.”
I knew she would want me to do to something like this. “Forget it. I don’t need the theory classes. I’ll just teach myself from the books in the library.” I shook my head.
“The books on deviants aren’t accessible to underclassmen and even for upperclassmen, you need to show that you are a deviant—something you can’t do right now, right?” She calmly refuted my plans.
“Being part of this disciplinary committee or whatever…how does that make sense? I’m a new student that’s in this academy as a scholar mage, What would the other members think, anyway?” I tried to reason.
“While they might not agree at first, with some time, I believe you will be more than capable of changing their minds, even with your self-placed handicap.” Director Goodsky threw in a playful wink, seemingly dead set on going through with this.
“Arthur, unlike the student council members that are chosen on a broader criteria, the disciplinary committee will be strictly based on strength. Your responsibilities won’t nearly be as much as the student council, and being in the disciplinary committee will give you the chance to work with students, some of which are also deviants, that are all strong in their own fields.” Her arguments were getting stronger.
“You mentioned that the disciplinary committee members are based on strength—” Before I finished my sentence, she cut me off.
“No, Lucas Wykes will not be on the disciplinary committee if that is what you are curious about. Arthur, this opportunity is something that other students would take as an honor. I insist on you taking it.” She leaned in, her face a bit more serious now.
“…” My head bent down as I thought things over. On top of regular and extra classes, I would have to do committee work, putting a big strain on my individual training time, which I was still figuring out where to do in secret.
As if she read my mind, she threw out her final offer. “Since the amount of work may be a bit too much on top of class and independent study, how about I offer you access to a private training facility where you won’t need to worry about anyone intruding.” She pointed at my bracelet.
“Please, Arthur, I really feel like this could be a good deal for the both of us in the long run.” Her face softened a bit as she showed sincerity.
I started thinking about how being in the disciplinary committee would fit into my plans, and finding no particular detriment in agreeing to this, I answered. “Fine, I’ll agree to be a part of the disciplinary committee.” My shoulders loosened as I let out a sigh.
“Good! Since classes start tomorrow, I will give your new schedule to your first period professor. Here is your new uniform I prepared in the case of good news. The knife is just meant to be the symbol of the disciplinary committee, but it is quite expensive so do take care not to lose it.” She gave me a wink as she threw me a tailored uniform with a sheathed knife and strap. It irritated me that she already had this prepared before she came in, even if it was ‘just in case’.
It dawned on me that even with my previous life and this life put together, both Grandpa Virion and Director Goodsky would still be older than me; after all, I only lived until my late thirties, around where I was getting past my prime as a duelist. I’d been so caught up in the fact that I had two lives that it didn’t occur to me that there were still people here that were older. Of course, I still had the advantage over traditional mages here because where I came from, the ‘magic’ usage was a lot more advanced.
The advantage that the older mages from this world had have, however, was that they were used to the amount of mana in the atmosphere here and had mastered it to a certain degree.
I guess even with two lives, there was still bound to be someone wiser.
I involuntarily shook the thoughts out of my head, causing Director Goodsky to tilt her head in curiosity.
“Now that the matter I’ve come to settle is settled, I shall take my leave! Enjoy your first dinner here and do please patch things up with my dear Tessia as fast as you can. I don’t want my precious disciple to keep moping.” She wisped away, leaving me wondering why she didn’t just enter like that. It was probably to respect our privacy or something.
As soon as Director Goodsky left, a shadow loomed over me as Elijah peered down at me, his facial expression akin to a demon’s.
“You’ve got some explaining to do.” And I swore I thought I saw pointed teeth as he smirked evilly.