“Hey isn’t that one of the DC officers? I think his name was Arthur, right?”
“Isn’t he only a first-year? How was he able to get into the disciplinary committee? Does he have connections or something?”
“Stupid. Even if he had connections, I hear everyone from the disciplinary committee needs to be really strong.”
“He’s kinda cute, no?”
“Yeah, he’s totally my type.”
“That white fox on top of his head is so adorable!”
I sat towards the back of the classroom with Elijah next to me. The constant murmurs and whispers that echoed against the walls made my head hurt. The professor for our first class, Fundamentals of Magic Theory, had yet to arrive, allowing the discussions of this morning’s ceremony to ceaselessly go on.
“Look at how popular you are, Mr. DC Officer.” Elijah nudged me with his elbow while giving me a sarcastic smirk.
Before I had the chance to respond, the person who I assumed was the professor, walked in with confident strides.
Our professor seemed pretty young—at most, in his mid-thirties. He had well-parted brown hair that he kept neat and styled. His face was freshly shaven to reveal a narrow jaw. He was on the thinner side, but in no ways out of shape. His proportions were good for a conjurer, which I could tell by the wand strapped to his side.
Using the folder he was holding as a gavel, he thumped it on the front podium before speaking. “Now, now… I realize that there are many wonderful things to talk about, but you guys aren’t very good at gossiping. If the person of topic is in the same room and can hear what you are saying, then it really isn’t gossip now, is it?” He looked in my direction and gave me a wink, making me shake my head in defeat.
Some of the students gossiping shrank down in embarrassment but most of the students just laughed.
“My name is Professor Avius and I must say that it’s great to meet you all. While this is technically a basic class and some may think that it is unnecessary, I, on the other hand, believe this class is the foundation for what will make you a great mage. We won’t be doing much casting but there will be fun assignments and projects that I will assign along the way, so look forward to it!”
With that, the class erupted in a synchronized groan at the thought of doing projects. I couldn’t imagine what sort of projects he was going to assign twelve to fourteen-year-olds but it should be rather easy.
“On that note, I think today is a rather fine day to have a lecture! No one’s going to get any younger so absorb as much knowledge as you can while your brains are still fresh! Take out your notebooks and writing utensils!” His thin face wrinkled as he smiled.
Elijah adjusted his glasses and promptly took out a fresh new notebook and pen while eagerly writing the title of the class and today’s date.
I just leaned forward and rested my chin on my hand as I began to listen.
“Today’s topic will focus on the segregation between conjurers and augmenters!” He wrote messily on the chalkboard. “There is a deeply embedded discrimination against augmenters by conjurers on the premise that augmenters are ‘brutes’ or ‘savages’ that can only fight by getting themselves dirty.” He used his fingers to air quote. “This is a rather uneducated stigma that everyone should get rid of right here and right now.” He leaned forward, his face turning serious.
His words caused a few murmurs of disagreement and some of acknowledgement.
“Coming from the point of view of a conjurer, it is silly to say that we are above augmenters because our bodies are more suitable for influencing mana remotely as this is an advantage we have only while we are in lower levels.” He scribbled some key points on the chalkboard. “When a mage’s mana core, conjurers and augmenters alike, reaches the silver stage, the ability to manipulate mana becomes much more unrestricted. There becomes less of a distinction between the usage of mana veins and mana channels because the purity of mana that is produced from our mana core enables us to freely manipulate mana remotely and directly.” He underlined ‘remotely’ and ‘directly’ while circling the point, ‘less of a distinction.’
I heard Elijah ‘ooh’ in understanding and furiously scribble the statement into his notebook.
Hmm… This professor at least knew what he was talking about. While training, I’d become more and more aware that the higher the stage you reached in your mana core cultivation, there indeed was less of a true distinction.
“So tell, me class. If, in the end, two mages—one conjurer and one augmenter, both reach the silver core stage, who would have the advantage? I, for one, say that it’s is either evenly matched or that even the augmenter would have an advantage.” This statement creates even a louder protest from the students.
“Before you shoot me down, think about this. Until the silver stage, assuming that we have both the talent and necessary luck to get there, both conjurers and augmenters train in developing their magic. However, augmenters also trained in hand-to-hand combat, refining their bodies along with their skills since the time they awakened, which was usually during the prepubescent age. As the augmenter becomes stronger and reaches the latter stages of his core, he will continue to develop his long-range skills, although it may be inferior to conjurers at this point. However, once the Augmenter reaches closer and closer to the pinnacle of his core development, casting long-range spells will become more and more natural while the augmenter will still naturally keep his combat skills. So, tell me… are conjurers really the more noble, more dominant type of mage?”
“Some old-fashioned mages continue to believe that conjurers remain the prevailing mana manipulator but Director Cynthia, along with many other influential figures in this continent are trying to establish ways to inhibit this belief. I implore you youngsters to keep this fact in mind. augmenters, don’t get hot headed because of this topic since, at this stage, you are still clearly at a disadvantage against conjurers. Conjurers, don’t just mope around at this news and develop your combat skills. While it may be harder for you to defend yourselves without the natural competency in forging mana around your body internally, that doesn’t mean there is no way to use spells to strengthen your body. So learn how to fight hand-to-hand.” He closed his notes and stopped talking, leaving a moment of silence for us to digest what we just heard.
“Any questions?” he said softly, giving us a sincere smile.
Elijah’s hand immediately shot up and the professor pointed at him to ask away.
“Professor, if what you’re saying is true, what is really the end result between the two category of mages when they reach the silver stage or even higher?” he asked seriously, not a hint of my usual girl-thirsty friend in sight.
“Good question…Elijah Knight.” He looked down at his notes before he responded. “The end result is two mages with different preferences in styles of fighting. The conjurer at this stage will be able to imbue their body with mana just like an augmenter can at lower stages, but their fighting style will lean more towards long-range combat, consisting of many layers of spells to trick and weave around an augmenter who may be more adept if they get close.” He wrote down some of the major points in his explanation.
“As for the augmenter, while long range spells will become more natural for them, just like the conjurers at this stage, they usually lean more towards fighting up close and using projectile spells more straight-forwardly. Augmenters, after all, are not as accustomed to remotely fighting like the conjurers who, in order to distance themselves from close-range threats, prepare many layers of spells through multi-casting and chain-casting.” He circled the keywords for us to remember.
Elijah just nodded in understanding as he again wrote down, almost word for word, what the professor just explained.
The class ended with a few more minor questions from various classmates. As the giant bell tower rang, the professor wrapped up the discussion and we prepared for our next class.
“I’ll see you at lunch then?” Elijah asked while he packed up his bag.
“Sure. The person who gets there first saves the other a spot in line.” I patted my friend on the back before leaving through the door.
As I walked through the densely packed hall, I sensed some gazes here and there after they recognized my appearance and uniform. On the way to my next class, which was Practical Mana Manipulation, I realized that there were quite a bit of students who had bonds. Most weren’t so impressive, like the horned rat I saw on a student’s shoulder, but there were some rather large beasts that students were proudly showing off. This boy who looked to be around 15 was riding on top of a giant lizard and had his chin proudly out. I didn’t even know what that lizard was called but from the amount of mana it had inside its beast core, it couldn’t be more than a C class mana beast.
When I arrived to my next class, I noticed that the layout of this room was very different. It was shaped like a miniature arena, with a battling platform in the middle, encased in a barrier field, and rows of seats circling around it.
I made my way to a random spot and sat down. ‘I’m hungry,’ Sylvie grumbled as she began impatiently thumping her head on top of mine. ‘Yeah, me too; lunch is still a bit away though, do you want to go and catch something?’ Sylvie nodded and scurried off at a speed that startled me. She was surprisingly fast when it came to food.
More and more students started filling the room after a few minutes. While most were first years, there were some second years that decided to take this class later.
“May I sit here?” I turned my head to find Kathyln in her disciplinary committee uniform standing beside me.
“Sure, go ahead.” I moved my bag that I had on the seat next to me so she could sit. Her expression didn’t change but she did give me a slight bow before removing her notes, carefully straightening out her skirt in a refined manner before taking a seat.
“Well, look who we have here! If it isn’t Princess Kathyln and my rival, Arthur Leywin.” From the front of the door, Feyrith confidently walked towards Kathyln and I.
Since when did he become my rival… and a rival in what, exactly?
“Aren’t you loud this morning.” I leaned my head on my hands as I looked at him.
“Well, it is a fine morning today. Didn’t the commencement ceremony today make you excited?” he harrumphed as he took the seat on my other side.
Why was he sitting next to me? I thought he wasn’t very fond of me.
“While it is a bit late into the morning, it is still technically the morning so…Good morning!” A rather upbeat, bulky man wearing a light armor clapped to get everyone’s attention. He looked more like a low-class adventurer instead of a professor but when I inspected his mana core level, I was surprised to see that he was light yellow stage.
“Well, we have quite the crowd of students. I know my class is always popular but I’m honored to have this many students! My name is Professor Geist. Welcome ladies and gents, and welcome DC officers. It is a privilege to have you in my class.” I couldn’t tell whether he was being sarcastic or not when he directed his little welcome at us but I chose to not mind it.
“This is Practical Mana Manipulation, or PMM as I like to call it. That means we will be doing things very practically! Practically, in my definition, means through example, because what better way to learn than through hands-on experience, right?” His deep bass voice boomed throughout the class, waking up anyone that might’ve still been sleepy, which included me.
“I understand that most of you are first-years and that many of you have just awakened not too long ago. However, parents have been more and more dedicated in teaching their children as soon as they awaken before they even send them here, so even that assumption is mostly inaccurate. However, for the sake of equality, I shall assume that every first year is a beginner in mana manipulation, of course with the few exceptions, i.e. the three sitting right there.” He pointed to the three of us while giving us a wink, drawing attention to us from everyone inside the room.
“I’m sure everyone, including myself, is curious as to what sort of level in ability our newly formed DC has. They are the ones that are going to be protecting the students here in this academy after all, right?” Several shouts of agreement spawned from around the room.
I inwardly sighed, realizing that this professor was going to make this class a real pain in the ass for me. I saw even Kathlyn’s brow twitch in annoyance on her usually expressionless face.
“Hmph! Well. if Professor Geist insists, I shall volunteer myself on behalf of the disciplinary committee to demonstrate the ability that our group, that was personally picked by the director, possesses.” Feyrith got up from his seat and placed his right hand over his heart in a proud manner.
“HAHA! That’s more like it! Feyrith, correct? Come down to the stage,” he gestured.
Feyrith elegantly hopped down from his seat onto the battle arena in the center of the large classroom. Some of the students cheered for him while others were eager for blood.
“Hmm, if my guess is correct, you are a light orange stage conjurer with water specialization, correct? Pretty good for a fifteen-year-old, even as an elf.” The professor rubbed his chin, studying him.
“Yes! By the fact that I cannot sense your mana core level, I assume that you must be quite a bit of a higher level than myself. It is an honor to receive your tutelage.” While Feyrith’s response was very well-mannered, he had a slight tone of arrogance, as if implying that even if the professor was a higher level, he could stand his own against him.
“Of course! I am at light yellow level stage, after all! To make things fair, I will only use long range attacks in this demonstration.” He took out a two-handed sword from a dimension item he had attached to the buckle of his belt and stabbed it into the stadium behind him.
I could tell Feyrith was about to protest that it wasn’t necessary but before he could, Professor Geist held his hand up. “Please. If I were to lose, I would at least have an excuse, right? Please cut this old man some slack.” He winked at him as the other students started laughing.
He sounded sincere but I could tell that he was confident in winning against Feyrith, even with this handicap.
“Feyrith is going to lose,” Kathyln said softly.
“Oh really? How can you tell?” For me, it was just a gut feeling but it seemed like Kathyln saw something that I didn’t.
However, she didn’t respond, so I just went back to watching the mock battle that was about to start.
“Let me quickly set up the barrier before we begin so that our audience is safe from mana projectiles.” The professor mumbled a few incantations and a space around the arena started glowing dimly.
“Let us begin!” He grinned as Feyrith took out his wand and prepared for a spell.
“Water Serpent!” A stream of water circled around Feyrith and soon took the form of a giant snake. “Flood Domain!” Feyrith instantly set off another spell immediately after the water serpent spell formed. Soon, a pool of water rose up to their knees on the arena, and the water serpent dove into the layer of water surrounding both Feyrith and Professor Geist.
A domain spell was a higher-tier technique that was used to make the territory more advantageous to the casting mage.
“Fireball,” Professor Geist said to my surprise.The low-tier spell that every fire attribute mage learned formed in Professor Geist’s palm but rather than the normal reddish-orange color, the spell glowed a dim blue.
It amazed me that an augmenter was able to figure out and apply the theory behind the properties of fire when even the smartest conjurers had trouble efficiently using it.
The blue fireball shot out of Professor Geist’s hand and flew towards Feyrith, who had no idea how strong that spell actually was.
“You’ll have to do better than that, Professor!” Feyrith confidently flicked his wand up and manipulated the layer of water on the ground to form a thick wall of water in front of him. At the same time, the Water Serpent spell Feyrith conjured erupted out of the water beside Professor Geist and lunged at him.
Our professor enveloped his left arm in a blue flame and braced against the force of Feyrith’s spell. As the water serpent struck Professor Geist, a cloud of steam erupted, hiding him from view.
Meanwhile, the blue fireball smashed into the wall of water, creating a sharp hiss as our professor’s spell bore through Feyrith’s defense, making its way towards my fellow DC member.
Feyrith’s face paled as he realized he was defenseless against the fireball but he was able to react in time to form another layer of water in front of him to minimize the damage.
“Oof!” The fireball, now reduced to the size of a fingernail by the time it reached Feyrith, still left a hole in the protective uniform he was wearing, knocking him back a couple of steps before he stumbled onto his butt.
“Do you surrender?” Professor Geist gave a wide grin as he walked out of the cloud of steam while juggling two more blue fireballs in his hand.
“Y-Yes…I concede.” Feyrith had his head down in shame as he trudged back to us, his uniform soaking.
The students were all mumbling about how the DC wasn’t that great, doubting whether we actually had the capability to protect them.
“You did well, Feyrith.” I patted the elf’s back. He did well considering he didn’t know what he was up against. What was this professor trying to do by making a fool of us here? Did he just want to boost his ego by picking on his students?
“Would anyone else like to volunteer?” he stated while looking at Kathyln and I. I was about to raise my hand but was startled when Kathyln suddenly shot up from her seat and spoke. “Please guide me well,” she said simply before lightly hopping down into the arena.