It only took a couple of moments for the vines to completely encase Jack. As he struggled to break free, the vines twisted tighter, turning his face into an ugly shade of purple.
While most were confused, Charles seemed to know exactly what was going on as his face paled and he immediately stepped away from the commotion he’d created. Elijah was a bit surprised as well, his head turning left and right to see who used the spell, but the person responsible had yet to show herself.
Standing up, I faced the suffocating Jack, who’d given up his struggle against the vines. The atmosphere in the dining hall turned tense as everyone stayed silent, waiting for the perpetrator of the spell to show up. Giving Elijah a meaningful glance, I silently lifted my arm, placing my palm on the vines as I released the spell. Holding back on the amount of mana I used, I willed a sharp gale of wind from my palm.
The Ravenpor groupies behind Jack covered themselves against the sharp gale as they got caught in the attack as well. With the spell, I so graciously freed Jack from the vines that were choking him, but in the process, shredded his clothes as well, leaving him the same way he came out from his unfortunate mother’s womb.
Jack plopped to his knees, coughing and gasping for air. Without either a word or a change in expression, I turned and walked towards Charles, who was still trying to discreetly make his way out of the dining hall. He was by the wall, almost in front of the main doors, when I unsheathed the Disciplinary Committee knife I received from the director, imbued wind mana into it, and threw it. The knife cut through the air and pierced through his blazer, pinning him against the wall.
“What the hell?” He yelped as I came face to face with him.
“Maybe it’s just me but I find it pathetic when brats like you who come from noble families beat your chest for something that you never even earned. Before bragging about how powerful your family is, be competent enough to at least not embarrass them.” I pulled out the knife he was struggling to remove in one swift swipe and left through the door, not looking back.
The brisk autumn air greeted me as I closed the door, my breath becoming visible in a cloud in front of me.
‘It’s Mama!’ Sylvie’s head shot up from atop my head.
I ignored my bond, looking up at the night sky illuminated by countless star as I spoke out loud. “You know, you could’ve killed him if I didn’t disrupt the spell.”
Just a few meters away to my left, the familiar voice responded. “I was going to cancel it once he passed out. Besides, I know you were going to handle it.”
“Oh, now you leave it up to me? What stopped you from doing the same this morning after the ceremony?” I snickered.
I walked toward the figure that was leaning against the wall of the building, her face and other recognizable features masked by the shadow of the starry night.
By her silence, I could already picture what sort of troubled expression she had on her face. I stood in front of the figure, close enough to see her face, but she was looking down so I could only see the crown of her silvery gunmetal hair that seemed to shimmer in the moonlight.
“Ahem,” I awkwardly coughed, covering my mouth with a fist. The silence between us felt like an eternity. Finally, she glanced up, revealing her face as she fiddled with her hands behind her back.
The awkward atmosphere surrounding us instantly dissipated as we head-butted each other in our attempts to bow in apology at the same time.
I couldn’t help but burst into laughter as I rubbed my throbbing head. “I think I heard my skull crack just now.”
“Shut up.” Tess massaged her head too as she continued to look down her shoulders began trembling and I heard a sniffle.
I squatted down so I could see my childhood friend’s face. “Tess. Are you crying?” I teased, gently wiping her tears with the inside of my sleeve.
“I-It’s because it hurts…” She sniffed, her eyes continuing to avoid mine as she let me wipe her face.
“Did it hurt that much?” I softened my voice as I stood back up, gently patting the place where my head hit her.
“Yes! It hurt a lot!” Smacking my hand away, she buried her face in my chest, wrapping her arms around my waist as she began crying.
The seconds seemed to elongate as I felt her body tremble from her erratic breaths and hiccups. I looked back at the night sky, feeling my face burn as I clumsily returned her hug.
“I-I th-thought you h-hated me.” I could barely make out what she was muffling with her face still buried in my chest in between her sniffling
“Even if there are times when I get mad at you, I would never hate you, Tess,” I said gently.
“I-I don’t want that.”
“Don’t want what?”
“I don’t want you to get mad at me either!” she mumbled into my chest.
“Well this time, I was in the wrong. I shouldn’t have lashed out at you like that.” I suddenly realized that I didn’t really treat Tess like everyone else. While I didn’t feel a reason to get mad over most people—besides my family and Elijah—Tess was probably the only one capable of making me act genuinely, even if that was sometimes immature.
“No! I was wrong too! I-I shouldn’t have called you out like that in front of all of those people! B-bBt it was because I have to be the strict student council president in front of everyone, you know?” Her face looked desperate as she finally looked up, her concerned eyes red and a little puffy from crying.
“Art! You should’ve seen everyone’s faces after you—oh my heavens…” Elijah, who only saw the shaded outline of my back, came running towards me, until he spotted who I was with.
Realizing that Tess was still wrapped tightly around me, I couldn’t help but give him an embarrassed look.
“I-I’ll see you b-back at our dorm…” he stammered out before darting off, nearly tripping over his own feet.
“Haha. Tess, I think it’s about time you let go of me.” I smiled as I watched her face turn crimson.
“O-Oh right.” She immediately let go of me, taking a step back as her gaze shifted down, too embarrassed to look at me.
I couldn’t help but let out a soft laugh at how my childhood friend really hadn’t changed. “Do you want to take a little walk with me?” I gave her a smile as Sylvie jumped off from the top of my head and into her arms.
“Kyu!” ‘Long time no see, Mama!’
TESSIA ERALITH’S POV:
Each of his steps were light and confident, as if always certain of his direction and purpose… Was it the way he walked?
Those eyes that looked calm and poised, yet still a little playful… Was it his gaze?
The way it glowed even when it was this dark outside… Was it his smile?
What made me this stupidly attracted to him? He’s just another boy! Another, rather talented, rather well-mannered and slightly better-looking, boy. That was it!
What was it about him that made me become so foolish around him and why did I keep doing things to embarrass myself in front of him?
I unconsciously let out a defeated sigh.
“Is something wrong?” He looked at me with concern. His gentle voice sending shivers go down my spine.
“N-No! Nothing’s wrong, haha!” I felt my face turning red again so I started petting Sylvie faster as a distraction. Gosh dangit!
I could feel his eyes studying me as we walked along the marble path, the only source of light from the moon, peeking between the trees that arched the walkway. The last time we had met, earlier today, we barely spent a few seconds together before things got bad, so it’d really been almost four years since we’d last seen each other. I would’ve stared at him too but I knew I was going to turn bright red, so I just keep my gaze down.
I wondered if he looked at any other girl like this. I wanted his attention all to myself, just like now. I stopped myself before I sighed out loud again.
We started talking about what we’d both been doing these past few years. His time as an adventurer was really exciting but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that he had been with that girl named Jasmine the whole time.
“Pfft!” The corners of Art’s eyes crinkled as he revealed his bright smile.
“W-What?!” I held Sylvie up in front of me defensively.
“It’s just that I’m enjoying the different expressions you’re showing me while I tell you my story.” I caught a glimpse of his eyes, making me turn red again. This was getting ridiculous.
I would’ve been pretty cold if I didn’t have Sylvie as a heating pack, but Art didn’t look cold at all. I wondered if being a beast tamer made his body stronger in these situations too. I started getting embarrassed as I remembered hugging him for so long.
He was really warm, though.
As we kept talking, I got a little less tense. I told him a bit about my training with Grandpa but I focused more on when Grandma Cynthia was my teacher.
“You call her ‘Grandma’?” His head tilted a little in curiosity.
Nodding, I replied, “She told me to call her that since I was her only disciple and since she didn’t have any children.”
“I see…” He pondered.
I continued on about the strict training I had to go through and how it was hard for my plant attribute magic to improve because of the lack of reliable teachers. Although there weren’t any other races that could manipulate plant attribute mana, even amongst elves, there were very few people that were adequate in plant magic. While some noble lineages did have the capacity to learn it, they ended up focusing on another element instead because of how hard it was for them to learn plant magic.
“So you ended up becoming a dual specialist in plant and wind, huh? Wow, I knew you’d be a talented mage.” His genuine look made me feel proud. I often got embellished praises from all sorts of different important figures but just a simple compliment from him made me this happy.
He continued, “It makes sense that Director Goodsky is teaching you then.”
I wanted time to stop as we reached the front of the dorms. Why were the dorms built so close to the dining hall? It should’ve been on the other side of the school…
“We should both get some sleep. It’s getting late and tomorrow is a big day.” He patted my head.
I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if it didn’t make me feel like he was treating me like a kid.
“Y-Yeah, you’re right. Congratulations on becoming a disciplinary committee member, Art.” I tried my best to smile but I started over-thinking how I looked.
Fortunately, he just grinned back as Sylvie hopped back on top of his head. “Thanks.” I stared at his back as he started heading to his dorm. But to my surprise, he turned back arounds.
“I almost forgot!” He took my hand and brought it up, placing something from his pocket into my palm.
“Here! This will probably help you a lot.” Letting go of my hand, he gave me a playful wink before turning back toward the dorms as Sylvie waved her small paw at me.
He didn’t even give me a chance to thank him.
Looking down, I studied the small, dull green orb. It didn’t seem special at all, but it did mean a lot to me just because it came from Art. Knowing him though, this wasn’t just some sort of decoration he wanted me to have.
“I wonder…” I willed a bit of mana into the orb and almost dropped it in surprise, my hands trembling uncontrollably.
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
‘Papa, you’re really happy. Is it because you made up with Mama?’ Sylvie teased me as I walked up the stairs and back to my dorm room.
‘Can it, Sylv. And can you stop calling her “Mama”?’ I pinched my dragon bond’s ear, making her squirm.
“Room 394! Finally…” Tessia and I had been walking pretty slowly and had stopped in between while we talked so it was pretty late at the night. I opened the door carefully, just in case Elijah was asleep, but I almost jumped in surprise to see him sitting cross-legged, facing the door, his eyes bloodshot.
“Err… I see you’re still awake.” I waved awkwardly.
“Hell yes, I’m awake.” He crossed his arms and used his chin to point at my bed, signaling me to sit.
“Haa…Go on.” I sighed helplessly as I let my best friend release his barrage of questions.
It was almost four in the morning when he was finished, the two of us sprawled out on our beds, tired both physically and mentally while Sylvie had fallen asleep hours ago.
“I can’t believe you were h-hugging her.” I saw him shake his head while he lay on his back.
“I told you, I’ve known her since she was five. It’s not surprising that she’d be more comfortable around me,” I simply stated.
He shook head again. “After you left, some of the students suspected that it was the president that used the vine spell since she was the only one that could use it to that degree. Do you know all of the things the students called her?” He got up and looked at me.
“What did they call her?” I asked, a bit interested.
“There were two I heard the most.” He leaned in closer. “One: The Untouchable Princess,” he stated.
“Untouchable? Why? Is she that much stronger than everyone else?” I asked.
Ignoring me, he said the other. “Two: Lunar Goddess.”
“Huh? Why Lunar Goddess?” I chortled at the juvenile nicknames.
“Because she’s like the moon, Art. The moon looks so close that you can grab it, but no matter how much you try, you’ll never touch it. But you! You t-touched the Moon! You hugged the moon!” he flailed his arm in defeat and plopped back into bed.
“Go to sleep,” I retorted.
We were both too tired to even try to wash up, and my head was already hurting at the thought of how tired I would be in the morning, but memories of what happened tonight had kept me up. I kept wondering if I had done the right thing in the dining hall. It was a habit I’d acquired from being a king—to overthink my past actions and always plan my future actions. To my side, I could hear Elijah fast asleep, mumbling something about the moon again.
“Wake up!” I smacked Elijah on the stomach as I finished fastening the shoulder strap for the knife that represented my status as a disciplinary committee member.
“Oof!” Elijah bolted up in surprise but groaned once he realized how tired and in pain he was.
“I can see why you don’t like being woken up like this,” he mumbled as he rubbed his stomach.
Smirking at my friend, I walked to the door. “I’m leaving now so hurry up and get ready. I’ll see you in first period.” Without looking back, I gave him a wave and headed towards the auditorium. I was supposed to formally meet all the other members of the disciplinary committee in the small waiting room inside the auditorium, so I was a bit excited as to what kind of people they might be.
Sylvie “Kyu-ed” in excitement as well as she swayed her head from side to side. After today, everyone would know that I was part of the disciplinary committee. I grinned at myself after imagining what the Ravenpor group’s face would look like after becoming aware of what my different uniform meant today.
Arriving at the back entrance to the auditorium, I straightened up my shirt, vest and strap, and opened the door, feeling tired, sleepy, curious, and a bit excited.