I couldn’t help but pat Elijah on the shoulder, as it looked like his soul was about to escape from his mouth. There were shadows underneath his lifeless eyes, his sunken cheeks making him look like a hollow skeleton.
“There, there…” I sighed. Even Sylvie took pity on him as she hopped off of my head and landed on his, biting the crown of his head to stir him awake.
His ghastly eyes bore into me as he turned his head. “… Not fair,” he mumbled.
“What?” I leaned in closer to better hear what he was whispering.
He leaned in closer to me, his lips almost touching my ears. “IT’S NOT FAIR, GODDAMMIT!”
“AHH!” I jumped in surprise as my ears start ringing. “What the hell! Don’t shout in my ear!” I stirred my pinky inside my ear canal to wipe away the stray spit that had been launched inside by my bitter friend.
“Looks, talent, and even luck with girls! Why do you have everything?” He placed both of his hands on my arm, a concentrated expression across his face.
Confused by this seemingly random action, I asked, “What are you doing?”
“…Trying to see if I can absorb some of your Arthurness,” he mumbled, still concentrating.
“Are you dumb?” I shook my head, waving his hands off of me.
On our way to the dining hall a bit down from the dorms, I explained briefly to Elijah how I met Tess—he really hated how I called her that—inside the Forest of Elshire. The whole time I was telling him the story, from living inside the kingdom of Elenoir’s Castle with Tess to learning mana manipulation from her Grandfather, I could almost see my words pierce through him as his life slowly drained from him.
“Do you know how attractive dwarves are, Art?” He leaned in a bit too close for comfort while the both of us kept walking.
“H-How much?” I peeled my head back from my overly emotional companion.
“NOT. AT. ALL,” he said matter-of-factly. “The sense of beauty that dwarves hold is the complete opposite of humans, Art! I may have been raised in their kingdom but there will never come a day when I can empathize with their definition of ‘attractive.'”
I laughed, unable to wrap my head around what an attractive female would look like to the dwarves, but I asked anyway. “Haha! Elaborate for me how devastating your life was.”
“When I turned eight, my grandfather, the elder who took care of me, introduced me to whom he hoped would be my future wife. The whole week prior, he was going on and on about how beautiful and elegant she was. When she showed up, I swear I thought I was looking at a man, Art.” His body shivered from the thought of recalling his past nightmare.
“Her name was Helgarth, and I swear she made me fear for my chastity. Her square jaw, her trunk-like, veiny limbs, her long, thick nose…She had a s-stubble on her upper lip, Art. She had FACIAL HAIR at the age of nine, Art!” Elijah was shaking me at this point, as I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Okay, okay, I get it! You were a very deprived young boy who started going through puberty much too early for his age.” I shrugged with my palms up while trying to calm my fit of laughter.
“You spend your childhood filled with masculine woman who go around showing off their bulging arms and see how you turn out when you see normal girls.” He shook his head, returning back to his lifeless self.
“Well… You are in the most prestigious school as a battle mage student, and you’re probably at least a full stage ahead of anyone in our class, so just show off your skills. You’re bound to land someone, somehow,” I said, optimistically.
“Your pity is literally hurting me.” He sighed, making the both of us laugh.
“I personally like your new uniform better,” Elijah mentioned as he studied me. “It makes you seem more strong and unapproachable somehow.” He nodded in agreement at his own statement.
The new uniform I received from Director Cynthia wasn’t too different in terms of looks from my Scholar Mage uniform.
It was composed of a white dress shirt with a single black stripe on the mid-arm above the elbows, and a light gray vest. Both the new vest and dark gray pants were made from a different material though, with special engravings on the inside that made me suspect that it had protecting qualities to it. In place of my pocket watch on the breast pocket, however, was a strap that went across my chest and snugged in around my shoulder, holding my sheathed, silver knife over my heart. A gold string replaced the red string that I had tied around, underneath my collar, giving my whole attire a more royal look.
I looked down and let out a sigh. I had to admit that the uniform did look good, but I didn’t like gaudy clothes like this. There was also an outerwear piece that I was supposed to receive later when it was properly fitted for me.
“So, what are you going to do about the disciplinary committee?” Elijah asked me a bit more seriously.
I tilted my head, not knowing what he was implying. “What do you mean?”
Shrugging his shoulders, he looked forward, realizing we were almost at the dining hall. “I mean, I know you’re already part of this new committee and all, but are you going to really take it seriously and stuff? It sounds like a lot of work.”
True. The director wanted me to be a part of this new committee but didn’t really specify what exactly I had to do. “I’ll try my best. I might as well give it my all since I’ve decided on going through with it, right? Besides, Ellie is going to be attending this academy in a few years. I need to do my best to pave a path for her so when she does come, it’ll be easier on her.” I opened the door, welcomed by the students’ indistinguishable conversations and the hearty aroma of meat and herbs.
As the both of us stepped in, the hall turned quiet and I could feel the stares of the students as they studied us. Ignoring the glares and the occasional curious glances, we made our way into the line and got our food, situating ourselves in a back corner.
“Looks like you’re already popular, Art.” Elijah smirked as he picked up a piece of roasted meat with his fork.
“What can I say?” I gave an arrogant hair flip and the both of us started laughing.
“Ah! Don’t forget that we have the club rush tomorrow morning!” Elijah said, his mouth full of meat.
I let out a sigh at this. “Oh yeah… I have to go to the auditorium pretty early tomorrow. The disciplinary committee is being officially announced before the club rush starts tomorrow.” I played around a bit with my vegetables before trying to give them to Sylvie, who promptly rejected them.
Director Cynthia had left me a note with a couple instructions along with the new uniform.
“That means you’re going to meet the rest of the disciplinary committee! How exciting! Wake me up before you leave then.”
“Will do.” I picked up a piece of roasted meat for myself but Sylvie stole it before it reached my mouth.
We conversed about the clubs Elijah should join and the classes we had. As it turned out, the disciplinary committee met every morning, which irked me. Looks like I’ll finally break my poor sleeping habits.
Besides that, my daily class schedule consisted of: Fundamentals of Mana Theory, Practical Mana Manipulation, and Basics of Artificing.
After lunch was when my upper division classes would start. Those classes were Deviant Magic Theory I, Team Fighting Mechanics I, and Spell Formations I.
During the fall semester, there were a lot more upper division classes for battle mage students while the spring semester classes consisted of a wider variety for scholar mage students.
Most students only took 3-4 classes a semester but I was essentially loaded with double the classes, my last class ending at 7 in the evening, not leaving me any time for clubs. As for Elijah, we only had Fundamentals of Mana Theory together; his other classes comprised of Basic Chain-Casting and Mana Utilization I.
Clubs geared towards upper-division students met before lunch, since their classes were all in the evening, and vice-versa for underclassmen. “Maybe I should join a hand-to-hand fighting club. I heard that more and more conjurers are trying to become at least a bit adept at close-range fighting, just in case,” he pondered while shoving another piece of meat into his mouth.
“Mmm yeah, I heard that from my father. He’s been telling me that there are some conjurers that wants to be recruited to learn close-ranging fighting, though I don’t exactly know how that’d work.” I wondered why I didn’t feel full even when my plate was empty, but then I realized that I’d barely eaten any of the meat thanks to Sylvie, who was now ‘kyu’ing in satisfaction on top of my head.
During our meal, the both of us could tell that people were conversing about us, with looks being shot every now and then from random people. However, none of them actually came up to us until now.
A group of students, all with battle mage uniforms, walked up to our table, completely ignoring my existence. The leader of the group, a tall male with wavy brown hair that was parted in the middle, stuck his hand out to Elijah.
“My name is Charles Ravenpor II, born from the famous Ravenpor Family. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, right? I couldn’t help but notice you spending time with someone beneath you. I’m being especially courteous today in letting you be in our group.” His chin stuck out, confident that Elijah would take his hand.
“You should be honored to be part of the Ravenpor Group,” one of the groupies echoed in the back.
“The Ravenpoop Family? Never heard of a family named after a bird’s feces. Have you, Art?” Elijah looked at me with a very clueless look, making me laugh through my nose.
“No, but I’d be very embarrassed to be in family like the Ravenpoop, even if I did know of them.” I tried to hide my smile as I played along in this immature exchange.
Some of the students nearby who were listening in on our conversation started snickering.
“Y-You… How dare you mock a prestigious family like the RavenPOR House?” Charles slammed his fist on our table, emphasizing his house name, which made them laugh even more.
“I am a second class student that should be shown respect! I reached out to you, a newbie, because I didn’t want a battle mage student to lower himself by being with a scholar trash student, but you instead spit in my face like this?” His hand was already twitching to reach for the wand strapped to his right leg.
Elijah looked him dead in the eye and refuted, “First of all, it’s scholar MAGE student. Arthur is just as much of a mage as any battle mage student. Second, why would I go with someone who blatantly looks down on my best friend and roommate? Third, it’s obvious you’re not here out of kindness towards me but here because of hostility towards Arthur, so stop your childish show and go piss off.”
I had to admit that when my friend put on a serious expression, coupled with his naturally sharp features, he did look quite scary.
Issuing duels inside a facility not meant for battle was prohibited so using magic inside the dining hall would result in quite a big punishment, but that didn’t seem to stop Mr. Ravenpor here.
Wind gathered around him as he struggled to keep his anger under control. “Jack!” he roared, the wind settling down around him as he called forth one of his minions.
A boy that had a face that looked around 13 but a body that looked too big for his age stepped up from the back.
“Show these brats how things work around here,” he growled, stepping back.
Jack looked a little hesitant but Charles barked that he’d be properly compensated, making Jack reveal a wicked grin as he fit a clawed gauntlet over his fists.
“Sucks for you,” he simply smirked, cracking his neck before splitting the table in half.
The dining hall was in a commotion by now as the students all gathered around, some standing up on the tables to get a better view.
Elijah protected his face in surprise as the table split into pieces but I remained unfazed, my legs crossed as I took a sip from the water cup I was holding, while even Sylvie had fallen asleep.
“Are you crazy?! This is a dining facility!” Elijah shouted as he stood up to face Jack, who cracked his clawed fists.
“Don’t matter. Boss is going to take care of everything anyway. Keep your teeth clenched now.” He smirked as his right fist glowed with non-attribute mana.
He was a second-class student as well by the two stripes on his black tie, but even without an attribute, his core was still dark orange, which, for his age, was pretty damn good.
Elijah’s right hand glowed, his two rings a dim yellow as he prepared a spell, but I’d already noticed that Jack’s pitiful killing intent was directed towards me, not my friend.
I didn’t even look up and prepared to settle this quickly but once again, before I got the chance to do anything, vines shot out from the ground and wrapped tightly around Jack.