“Easy… take it slow. There you go.” Elijah supported me back up. It’d been exactly one week since I had gotten injured and also since the last time I’d walked. Even with mana circulating throughout my body, strengthening my limbs, I still felt rather sluggish.
“Kyu…” Sylvie looked at me with as close of a concerned face she could have for a fox-like mana beast. She was walking beside me instead of curling up on top of my head, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to hold her up.
Elijah came over to my hospital room as soon as his first period was over. I would be starting off my day as a professor for the Practical Mana Manipulation class and I wasn’t so eager in my current state. With my legs giving out every couple of steps and my back and sides burning, I barely had the strength to get to the class, let alone teach it.
After slowly getting used to walking, I stopped leaning on Elijah for support and used Dawn’s Ballad as my walking stick. I couldn’t help but chuckle because of the ill-humored irony. I remember how I had thought that this sword was nothing more than a walking stick when in fact, it was a priceless sword. I shook my head at the fact that my assumption back then had actually been a foreshadowing of my current situation.
Elijah wrapped the handle and sheath in a white bandage both for comfort and for safety from suspicious eyes. Here I was, a twelve-year-old, already using a cane to support myself from falling.
“Are you going to be okay by yourself? Maybe I should at least help you out in between classes today?” Elijah’s face wrinkled in concern as he stuck close by me, ready to catch me if I stumbled.
“I’ll be okay.” I didn’t have the confidence to say that I wouldn’t fall, but I didn’t want to keep Elijah constantly by my side.
As we arrived in front of the classroom, Elijah’s brows were still furrowed underneath his glasses, and I knew he was hesitant to let me go by myself.
“Arthur. Let me help you.”
I turned my head around to see Princess Kathyln run toward me, away from her group of friends. Without giving me a chance to respond, she placed her arm around my waist as she dipped underneath my free hand so I wouldn’t just be using on my walking st—sword, as support.
“Uhh… okay. Thank you.” I shrugged at Elijah, who stood with jaws agape. He held up two fingers as he mouthed the word ‘princesses’ but I just shook my head and turned back to make my way inside my room.
“I heard our new professor is finally coming today!”
“Oh really? I liked Professor Glory, though.”
“Anyone should be better than Professor Geist, right?”
“You never know, we might get an even more dangerous weirdo this time.”
“Hey, isn’t that the disciplinary committee officer that beat Geist?”
“Why is he limping?”
The various discussions the students were having all changed to murmurs about me as soon as I walked in.
“I’ll be fine now, Princess Kathyln. Thank you.” I eased my arm off of her shoulders.
“You need help up the stairs…” Her expressionless face didn’t match the concern in her voice. I just shook my head and motioned for her to go first.
Sylvie followed close behind as I walked to the middle of the room, taking small hops towards the moveable podium that was placed in the center of the small stadium.
“Whew…” I let out a deep breath in relief as I put all of my weight on the podium that stood a bit too tall for my height.
Looking up, I spotted Feyrith in one of the desks with a curious expression on his face. As soon as Kathyln reached her desk, I spotted her looking back, trying to find me. She also gave me a confused look when she realized that I’d never gone up the stairs behind her and instead, moved to the middle of the room.
By this time, the conversations amongst the classmates centered around me diminished as more and more of the young mages began wondering what I was doing leaning against the professor’s podium.
“I’m not sure how many of you know my name, but I believe that most of you at least know who I am. My name is Arthur Leywin, a disciplinary committee member, the only son of two wonderful mages, a doting brother, and your new professor. Let’s get along.”
I counted down in my head, predicting when the class would erupt. Almost exactly in sync, the entitled students that filled the classroom stood up in disbelief and some in anger as they shouted to stop kidding around and get back to my seat.
“You expect us to believe that a brat like you is our new professor?” one of the second-years exclaimed.
“Stop messing around and get back up here! Who do you think you are?” one short first-year barked.
I let out a pained breath as I relished the thought of being able to teach this class while lying down.
This would be a lot easier if Professor Glory or Director Goodsky let the class know that I would be teaching beforehand. She should have at least given me an official document to prove that I was the new professor, but knowing her, I couldn’t help but wonder if Director Goodsky did this on purpose.
It, at least, seemed like something she would do.
“Mmm… would you guys believe me if I said that Director Goodsky appointed me to be the professor for this class for the remainder of the semester?”
Another round of protests resounded within the room as the students grew rowdier.
Looking to my fellow committee members, I could see Feyrith’s sharp face, filled with a mixture of incredulity and doubt, while Kathlyn wore a perplexed expression.
“Don’t get so cocky just because you beat the old professor! Do you think you could’ve won if Princess Kathyln and Feyrith didn’t tire him out?” a different second-year jumped down and landed on the stage with a loud thud.
The student had a pretty big build, and judging from the poor circulation of mana in his body, he was probably at the level of being able to augment only some of his body.
He took long strides towards me, preparing to carry me off the stage. Feyrith stood up, ready to jump on the stage as well to stop the big guy but I just shook my head at him.
Misunderstanding my gesture as a taunt, he roared, “You shaking your head at me now? Who do you think you are?”
Half of the students were a bit nervous, not wanting to get caught up in another drama during class, while the other half was cheering Mr. Brute on.
Shifting my gaze back down at the boy approaching me, I uttered a single word.
Suddenly bombarded with a large influx of mana, the large student crumpled to his bottom with enough force to slightly shake the stage we were on.
The room grew deathly quiet as I hobbled over to the confused and embarrassed student sitting upright on his behind. Standing over him, I remained silent, giving him a moment to let it sink in to the oaf what sort of position he was in.
“Director Goodsky didn’t bother giving me any official documents proving my claim, but like it or not, I will be teaching this class.”
I stepped over the student and made my way to the other side of the silent room.
“If any of you has a problem with this, you can take it up with this cute little fox here, though I guarantee that she will easily wipe the floor with any of you.” I scooped up Sylvie below her armpits and show the entire class.
The students looked at one another, unsure of what to do, so I continued speaking. “For those who want to leave, I won’t stop you—in fact, I’ll even allow you to be put into another class of your choice. However, if any of you here are even a tiny bit curious as to what this little boy here with a limp can teach you, feel free to stay.” I pointed at the door and waited a few seconds, but whether it was because of my little demonstration with the second-year or because they were afraid, none of the students actually left.
“Now… If you’ll please go back to your seat, student, I’ll begin my lesson.” I peered at the second-year that had jumped down to eagerly show off his limited ability.
His face turning beet red, the student quickly got up and scrambled back up to his seat. As he did so, I took my time slowly limping back to the center of the stage and leaned on the podium that Sylvie had jumped up on.
“Since this is a Practical Mana Manipulation class, I’ll ask a practical question. What is the best way to utilize mana in the surrounding atmosphere?” I scanned through the seats filled with students when almost instantly, a beak-nosed human student with a ponytail shot her hand up.
“Mana is best utilized by absorbing the mana naturally formed in the atmosphere into the mana core where it can be condensed and purified for use when spells or techniques are cast.” She gave me a smug look, obviously proud of her answer.
“Good. Now, as you all know, the difference between augmenters and conjurers lie in the fact that augmenters mostly use the mana in their cores via their mana channels while conjurers directly absorb mana from the surrounding atmosphere via their mana veins. So… why do both types of mages have to meditate and absorb mana if only the augmenters actually utilize the mana they absorb into their core?” I quizzed, not looking at anyone in particular.
“…” The same girl’s confident hand shrank down as she pondered over the answer.
“While augmenters incorporate mana into physical attacks, thus reducing the amount of mana used, conjurers manipulate the space that the spell is casted in directly, consuming more mana. Because of that, conjurers use the purified mana in their mana core as a reserve to avoid backlash,” Kathyln answered, her face relaxed as she remained seated.
“Correct. Then the last question of the day: is the color of a conjurer’s or even an augmenter’s mana core a truly accurate way of measuring the level of the mage’s power?” I leaned forward, shifting my weight from my left leg to my right.
I hold in my chuckle as Kathlyn’s usually composed face scrunched in deep thought. “That’ll be your homework for today. Everyone, come down to the stage and line up! I want the conjurers to my left and augmenters to my right.”
After a few grumbles of complaints, eventually everyone made their way to one side of the stadium, all lined up side by side, facing me.
“For this exercise, I want everyone to initiate the most basic spell of your affinity. Conjurers, no wand,” I stated.
For augmenters, the most basic spells taught all came in a very similar form. For fire affinity augmenters, it would be Fire Fist, which was igniting a small ember covering their fist. For wind, it would be Whirlwind Fist. For water, it would be Aqua Fist, and for earth, Boulder Fist. After mages were able to manifest their elements, the augmenters’ first step was learning to integrate their element into their hands, the limbs they were most accustomed to using.
The fact that these royal mages were even allowed to attend this school was because, thanks to their lineage, they had high talent and usually had the ability to manifest their elements early on. It took my father more than twenty years in order for him to manifest an actual flame, but these twelve to fourteen-year-olds were already capable of this. That was the difference in genes, something that even I found to be undeniable.
As for the conjurers, the most basic spell involved gathering a specific elemental mana into a sphere and shooting it. For fire specialists, that would be in the form of the spell, Fireball. For wind, it would be Wind Bullet. For water, Water Bullet, and for earth, Stone Bullet.
Conjurers had it easier since they didn’t have to directly form the element in their bodies, but absorb the specific mana particles around them and use that to invoke the spell. Why conjurers had specializations in different elements had to do with how well they were able to sense the specific elemental mana particles around them and utilize it.
I leaned my head on my palms as I watched both types of mages prepare their spell.
The augmenters in the class all began concentrating with their dominant hands clenched into fists. A few long seconds later, their spells became visible as their respective elements enveloped their fists. The time it took for the augmenters varied but not by much.
The conjurers in the class all began softly chanting as the space in front of their palms began glowing different colors, depending on their elemental affinities. Unsurprisingly, the time it took Feyrith and Kathyln to form the spell in front of their hands was much faster than everyone else.
The only difference between the augmenters and conjurers in their spells was that the augmenters’ elements surrounded their fists while the conjurers’ elements gathered in front of their palms.
“Now, augmenters, I want you to try and launch your spell in front of you. Conjurers, I want you to try and absorb the spell you conjured into your hand.” I gave them an innocent smile as they stared at me blankly.
After a few seconds, they realized I wasn’t joking so, one by one, they began their attempts at a concept very foreign to their nature.
I watched as the augmenters all failed in their attempts. Some roared as they flailed their arms while others tried to chant to no avail. It got to the point where it became almost comical as one student thought roaring out ‘fire’ would do the trick.
The conjurers weren’t any better as all of them ended up getting cut, burned, wet or bruised. After about ten minutes of struggling, most gave up and looked at me accusingly; even Feyrith and Kathyln had expressions of doubt.
“This is stupid. We all know that only high level augmenters can cast long distance spells!” one of the augmenter students cried.
“Yeah! And what’s the point in absorbing back a spell we prepared and conjured anyway?” an elven student whined as she cradled her hand.
Leaving Sylvie on top of the podium, I hobbled to the opposite side of the stage, away from the students.
Taking a brief moment to concentrate, I aimed at an open space between the conjurers and augmenters.
A gust of wind formed around my hand before shooting out past the students. By the time it reached the metal wall behind them, the bullet of air dissipated harmlessly.
One of the students retorted, “Big deal, but most augmenters can do that once they reach orange stage.”
“True, it’s not hard to do that, but—” I raised my other arm and shot a stream of compressed air directly out of my palm. The attack whistled as it hit the wall behind the students once more, but this time, the wall caved in at the pressure, forming a small crater. “—have you seen any augmenters do that at the orange stage?”
The students, startled by the impact of the supposedly same spell, whipped their heads back and forth between me and the wall.
“I can’t accurately demonstrate what would happen when conjurers are able to absorb the spells that they invoke, but trust me, it’ll only help you.”
I staggered back to the podium and grabbed my bond. “That’s it for today. Try and come up with the answer to the question and practice what I just told you to do. See you tomorrow.”
I gave them one last wave as I left the room. Once outside, I could hear the students inside erupt in excitement.
“How’d I do, Sylv?” I asked, letting go of my bond.
‘Not bad. But I could do better,’ she replied brightly, walking by my side.