LUCAS WYKES’ POV:
“And what the hell is this supposed to be?” I raised an eyebrow, looking around inside the dimly lit room that reminded me of some crudely built wine cellar.
It was that poor excuse of a mage from the Ravenpor House that brought me here, telling me that it would be something I’d be interested in.
I normally would’ve blasted that sod away when he talked to me so arrogantly, like he was doing me a favor; but I was quite curious, especially after the explosion at the Tri-Union Building earlier today.
“Welcome to one of the many humble dwellings that we use to hold our meetings,” said a coarse voice. I was surrounded by at least sixty hooded figures, but only the one sitting lazily in the middle while addressing me had a mask on.
It was a plain white mask with two small eyeholes and a smile crudely drawn where the mouth should be. The mask was rather simple enough but the simply drawn smile gave off a sinister feel.
Charles Ravenpor, who was next to me, put on his own hooded robe and knelt down on one knee with his head bowed.
“My lord, I have brought Lucas Wykes like you asked,” he said in a careful, hushed tone.
“Ahh, the famous Mr. Wykes, here in the flesh! So glad you could join us for our little…crusade!” he laughed, averting his attention from Charles.
I looked around. “I’m not here to join anything. I came here out of curiosity, but I’m not impressed. Who are you supposed to be, anyway? You don’t seem to be a student… Don’t tell me you’re a professor?” I scoffed.
“How dare you! You should be grateful that we even considered letting a mutt like you join us!” one of the hooded figures to my right hissed.
“A mutt?” I echoed back, feeling a vein bulging from the side of my forehead.
I soundlessly prepared a spell for the ingrate who dared to mock me, but before I could finish the chant, the man behind the smiling mask snapped his fingers.
Suddenly, the hooded snob that call me a mutt let out a shrill howl as he combusted into flames.
I couldn’t help but click my tongue. Even for instant casting, that was fast… frighteningly so.
“Now, now. That isn’t a very courteous thing to say to our newest member, right?” As the masked man, who was still lazily sagged down on his earthen throne, spoke, the fire had already burned through the boy’s robe, burning his skin.
“F-Forgive me! I was wrong. I apologize! P-Please!” he begged as he desperately tried to crawl toward the masked man. Meanwhile, the other hooded figures were too scared to do anything to help him.
Turning away from the hooded figure still screaming in pain, I faced the masked man. “Before I decide whether I want to even join this little cult of yours, what is it you’re trying to accomplish, and why do you even need me?”
I couldn’t sense his mana core but it didn’t seem like I was on the same level as him.
“Circumstances make it unable for me to personally act for now, so I need some capable mages in order to thoroughly complete my plans. You see, I hate leaving loose ends,” he explained as he used an arm to prop his head up.
“Taking advantage of your director’s absence, it is the opportune time to act so that by the time she comes back, it will all be too late,” he continued. After snapping his fingers again, the fire suddenly disappeared, leaving the boy twitching from the pain.
“And as for what I hope to do, let’s just say that my goals coincide with these folks and I simply thought that it’d be nice to kill two birds with one stone. Everyone here is a dissatisfied human noble that once took pride in the fact that this academy was meant only for the purest of lineage. While you may be a special exception to this case, I would still like to have you on board,” he answered plainly.
“Besides, the whole ‘accept all’ motto that this academy now follows makes me want to barf. Don’t you agree, Mr. Wykes?” As he said this, the hooded figures all nodded fiercely in agreement. Just from his tone, I could tell that this guy was smirking behind his mask.
“Whether they make you want to barf or not doesn’t matter to me. Why waste my time and energy on bugs I could squish at any time? The peasants that were able to weed their way into this academy aren’t any better than the low-class adventurer thugs that go around blindly flailing their weapons. Even the nobles that were brought up in the most pampered conditions aren’t worth crap to me. If this is all that you have to say, then I have no reason to lower myself to be put on some leash and take commands from you,” I snapped at him, turning my back.
“Lucas, what a hurtful thing to say. How could you ever compare yourself to some sort of dog tied to a leash?” He covered his mouth with his hands, sarcastically, like he was actually surprised.
“It seems like what I’ve heard is true. That you are a rather prideful mage that looks down on people of low birth. Did your friend, Arthur Leywin, not prove you wrong in this aspect?” The coarse voice playfully egged me on, making me stop in my tracks.
I whipped my head around. “What did you—”
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that, although you were hailed as a prodigy in the field of magic and have been pampered with elixirs and strengthening methods since your awakening, you aren’t a match for the child, Arthur Leywin,” he shrugged, holding his hand up.
I could feel my fists whiten in frustration, but he cut me off before I was able to refute.
“The sad thing is, he was never even trying. I bet even you always had a nagging suspicion that he had always been holding back, hahahaha!” He erupted into a fit of laughter as he clutched his stomach, legs kicking in the air.
“Who do you think you are?” I growled.
My body was already glowing as mana spilled out from my mana core, ready to fire at him, but I never did. This throbbing sense told me to not mess with him, like it was… hopeless.
No! I’m Lucas Wykes of the Wykes Family!
But who the hell was he and why did he talk like he was here the whole time, watching over us?
“I told you. I am but a mere benefactor that came here for the betterment of this land.” As he said this, he got up and gave an exaggerated bow with his arms spread out.
Sitting back down on his crude throne, he continued, “Mr. Wykes, I believe that, even if our views aren’t the same, we could have some sort of mutual benefit in this.”
“Go on,” I said through gritted teeth.
He ignored the fact that I was still completely surrounded by fire attribute mana, dangerously close to releasing it.
“Soon, I will be able to personally take part in this and when I do, I want to completely shatter the frail glue holding the three races together. However, until that time comes, I need your strength to help run things smoothly,” he explained.
“How do you personally plan on splitting up the three races and why would you think that doing this would even benefit me in any way? Besides, you think The Council and the Lances were made just for decoration?” I argued.
“The Council is tied up with various things at the moment, and I’ve taken extra precautions to make sure that your director is held up and out of reach. The field is set, Mr. Wykes, so let me ask you this—how would you like to have the ever so cautious Arthur Leywin fight you at his full strength, and for you to obtain the necessary power to defeat him even then?” He lifted his hand up, beckoning me toward him.
“How do you know about Arthur?” I pried, growing more cautious.
The man in the mask shrugged. “It’s obvious that I’d do at least some research on my lovely recruits. So how about it… the power to defeat even your beloved Arthur?”
I remained silent, unable to make heads or tails out of this character.
“As long as you agree, I promise that you will get your hands on a level of power that you never thought was possible,” he continued.
I looked at the hooded figures and could tell that they were interested as well, but stayed quiet due to the fear of becoming the next victim of the masked man’s ‘discipline.’
This was all too good to be true.
“If what you say is true and he has been cautiously hiding his powers to the extent that he has, how are you going to get him to fight me at his best?” I scoffed, unwilling to believe.
“Quite simple, actually, and it is also a task that I need to get done as well so it works out. Arthur is only human and he holds great importance to his family and his friends, but particularly more so to one person,” he says as he lifted his index finger up, the smile on the mask most likely matching the sinister expression he had as well.
“Tessia Eralith…” I whispered, unable to hide the smirk on my face.
“Yes! Tessia Eralith! An elf! In this sacred Xyrus Academy, an elf is the leader of the students! Do all of you think this is right?” he bellowed at everyone so his voice echoed in the small dungeon.
“NO!” the hooded figures all roared in unison.
“She may not be here yet but I reckon she will soon, and most likely with Arthur. Don’t you think that maybe a bit of elf princess blood being shed ought to get your buddy ‘ol pal, Arthur, riled up?” he sneered as his hands ignited in flames.
I never cared for the elf princess besides thinking that she suited my tastes. I let her be since her body hadn’t even matured yet but it did seem like something was going on between her and Arthur. Who did he think he was anyways, to think that he deserved someone like the princess of the elven kingdom?
He was just a lowly peasant.
As I began playing through the possible scenarios in my head, I couldn’t help my lips from slowly curling upwards as I imagined his precious little lover’s life in my grasp as Arthur begged me to stop. The brat who always thought he was better than I was…on his knees.
I wondered if he’d lose his sanity if I were to slowly bleed her in front of him?
I began licking my lips in anticipation. “Why the hell not!”