Chapter 36: A Son, Brother, and Friend
I could never get used to the teleportation gate no matter how many times I go through it. The feeling of being stuck in a space where I had no control just didn’t sit right with me.
Twiddling the dimension ring stuck on my thumb, I couldn’t help but get a headache at how careful I would have to be once school started. Even the ring was bought so that I wouldn’t’ have to carry my sword around. While I never used my teal bladed sword as an Adventurer, I did have it sheathed on me at all times. Even Lucas eyed my black walking stick with curiosity while we were in the dungeon together.
Arriving at the other side of the gate in Xyrus, I heaved a big breath. I was home.
Catching a carriage home, I passed by the Academy that I’ll be attending. The premise was enormous and just looking at it from outside, anyone could tell how much time and resources the Kingdom put into this place. It seemed like it’s own little world inside of the city, with various structures and landscapes changing along the way.
“Sir, we have arrived at Helstea Manor.” The driver got off the front and opened the door for me, tipping his hat as I stepped off.
Handing him a couple of copper coins, I walked up the stairs I was so familiar with. Sylv was still sleeping. I was getting worried at how much a toll transforming her body like that took on her, but after prodding her mentally, I was relieved that she was still just sleeping very heavily.
“BOOM!” The double front doors flung open and the girl that came flying out was a sight for my sore eyes.
“BROTHER WELCOME BACK!!!” My sister, Ellie, head-butts me in the stomach, almost knocking the wind out of me as she clings on for dear life.
Rubbing her face into my shirt, I couldn’t help but chuckle as I patted her head.
“Uuuu… you’re not leaving anymore right? You’re staying right?” Through teary eyes, my sister’s almond colored iris shimmered in a mix of emotions.
Peeling myself away from Ellie, I squat down a little so I’m eye level with her.
“Yeah, I’m back Ellie.” I give her my most sincere smile.
“EN!” She nods her head vigorously as if to say that I said the right answer. Ellie should be almost 8 now. Her birthday was a couple of months before mine so there’s always a period where she’s only 3 years younger than me. For most people, that wouldn’t matter but for some odd reason, Ellie never fails to mention after her birthday that she’s only 3 years apart. Looking at her carefully, I can tell she’s blossoming into a cute young lady. Her puppy eyes became more prominent as she lost some of the baby fat in her face; her perky nose red from crying.
I started internally panicking a little for the near future when she would start dating. The day she brings home a boy would be the day I will unleash the full extent of my goddamn powers.
“Arthur!” My mother comes running forward alongside my father, both of who have an expression that seemed to smile and cry at the same time.
My father, who seemed to be getting more and more muscular, instantly picked me up.
“My boy! HAHA! You’ve grown so much!” My father’s beard was a bit longer now and I can see some wrinkles near his eyes and mouth.
My mother grabs my hand and places it on her cheek, not saying anything except for a few quiet sobs.
“Idiot son! Do you know how worried I was when my ring activated? I thought you were dead!” She looks up at me and the angry face she tried to put on disappeared and was replaced with a bright, teary smile.
“Your mother couldn’t sleep for days after the ring activated. I kept telling her that everything will be fine and that something just must’ve happened to your ring. I know my son wouldn’t die that easily!” He tried to comfort me, but the guilt was still just as heavy.
Putting me down, my father continues, “Thankfully, the status on the masked swordsman, or Note, was updated at Guild Hall, saying that you and your party arrived at the branch near the Beast Glades.”
“I’m sorry Mom, Dad, Ellie for worrying you guys again. I seem to cause nothing but concerns for you guys haha.” I scratch my head as my mother continues to hold onto my other hand with Ellie comforting her.
Shaking her head, my mother looks up at me. “It’s a parent’s job to worry about her children, although you seem to do your end of the bargain a little too well. Ellie was waiting by the window the whole day since your friend Elijah came with Jasmine.”
“MOM!! That was supposed to be a secret!!” She started pouting while she started softly hitting our mother on the back, making us all start laughing.
“Arthur!” “Art!” I hear two voices. I look up at the top of the stairs and I see Elijah, and Vincent with Tabitha. The friend that I made in the dungeon came down first and put his arm around my neck, half strangling me as he puts his weight on top of me. “Took you long enough to get here! Jasmine already went back with the Twin Horns. Did you decide to go on a touring trip?” We both chuckled. Elijah seemed a lot more expressive these days, almost making me forget the nearly robotic face he had when I first saw him at the testing grounds.
“Arthur Leywin! The prodigious son is back!” Vincent clasps my back as he gives me as big of a bear hug as he can with his thin body.
“We’re glad you’re back safe, Arthur.” Tabitha follows behind him and gives me a hug as well. The Helstea couple hasn’t changed much and was as lively as ever.
“Thank you for taking care of my family Mr. Helstea, Mrs. Helstea.” I smile and give a polite bow.
“Now now! You’re going to make me angry if you stay so formal with us!” Vincent shakes his finger while pretending to be angry.
“He’s right you know. Please, Arthur, your family is a part of our family. I hope you can just call us Aunt and Uncle.” Tabitha gently strokes my head.
I nod and start looking around. There’s one person missing from the Helstea family. Before I can ask, Vincent seems to have noticed who I was looking for.
“Hehe. If you’re looking for Lily, she’s not here.” Vincent has a wicked grin on his face while Tabitha just rolls her eyes at him.
“Lily got accepted into Xyrus Academy thanks to you. She started attending last fall semester of the Academy after she turned 12.” Tabitha also has a warm smile on her face.
My eyes widen at the good news. “Wow! My parents did mention it but Wow! Lily really did it! She’ a student now!” I smile broadly.
Tabitha nods at this. “Yes. She really wanted to be here when you came back to tell you herself but unfortunately, spring semester started so she’s stuck in the dorms until break.”
Vincent laughs urging both our families and Elijah to the living room.
We discussed about my time as an Adventurer. There were some things I left out for my family’s sake. I eyed Elijah when I skipped the part where Lucas betrayed us. I didn’t want either my family or the Helstea family getting involved.
My sister was wide eyed the whole time while I was telling the time while Elijah and I were in the dungeon. She had the expression that I was telling her a fantasy bedtime story with all of the dungeon monsters and magic involved. The audience couldn’t believe it when Elijah continued the story on for me and told them about how I defeated the Elderwood Guardian. My father and Vincent’s jaws were slacked when I just shot them a grin and pulled out the core.
“Speaking of which. Dad, what stage are you at?” I asked.
Giving me an embarrassed chuckle, he says, “I’ve been stuck at the bottleneck of the dark orange stage since you left. No matter how much I meditate and purify mana, I can’t seem to break through.”
“Perfect. Dad, you should use this then. I had to use a little bit of it while I was healing but there should be enough in this beast core to help you break through.” Without giving him a chance to decline, I toss him the dull green core.
“No. Arthur. This is something you fought for with your life. I can’t just take this from you.” My father tries to give me back the core when Vincent stops him.
“Reynolds, the boy must have his reasons. You’re his father for God’s sake. Get stronger, it’ll help me as well haha!”
Tabitha just chuckled at this. “Alice, your son brought quite the present.”
My mother just sighs helplessly while Ellie starts studying the dull green core in my father’s hands.
“Dad, please take it and use it. You need to catch up to me.” I look at my dad, trying to make light of the fact that I gave him something invaluable. After telling everyone that I was at the light orange stage, I received even more faces of shock, although not as much as it used to be. I guess they’re grown accustomed to my abnormal talent.
Reluctantly, my father accepts it and puts it away in his pocket. The next order of things was about Elijah. He told everyone of his background already before I got there but I clarified that he was both a close friend, and a benefactor who saved both Jasmine’s and my life. Continuing on, I turned to Vincent and asked if it was possible to enroll Elijah to Xyrus Academy.
After pondering for a bit, Vincent agreed to sponsor Elijah under the Helstea House to Xyrus Academy. Vincent excused himself first, saying that he was going to write a letter to Cynthia Goodsky, the Director of Xyrus Academy. My father went out into the backyard, saying he was going to start training immediately so it was just my mother, Ellie, Elijah, Tabitha and I.
My mother and Tabitha took turns asking me about more details while I was Adventuring and my mother insisted I take a check up from her to make sure I didn’t have any lasting wounds. I told her I was fine and that I used the glove she gave me to good use. She didn’t seem too happy about the fact that I actually had to use it on myself but was just glad I was still in one piece.
I talked a bit more with my baby sister. She was curious as to why Sylvie changed appearance and why she was sleeping. After explaining that she was tired from the Adventure, I realized how drained I was.
“Mom, Aunt Tabitha, I think I’m going to head up with Elijah as well. I feel a bit tired from the journey.” Elijah gets up after me.
“Of course. Don’t forget to wash up before sleeping.” My mother smiles at us.
“Goodnight Brother! Goodnight Elijah!” My sister chimes.
After excusing ourselves, Elijah and I head up to my room. “Elijah, you wash up first, I’m going to organize my things.”
The maid brought the set of sleepwear I asked for and I placed it in front of the shower for Elijah.
“Dude! I’m naked!” Suddenly realizing that I had a full view of his ‘Elijah junior’ he covered his lower body with his hands.
“Pfft! Relax, I can’t even make it out because of the steam.” I just grin before leaving the bathroom.
Elijah comes out of the shower in the pajamas with his hair still wet and glasses fogged up.
“Your turn.” He says while drying his hair with a towel.
The hot shower was bliss. I carefully cleaned Sylvie with the damp washcloth but it didn’t seem to bother her at all, still not stirring awake from her slumber.
After both of us were clean, Elijah and I talked on my bed, Sylvie in my lap.
“Do you think we’ll learn a lot at Xyrus Academy?” Elijah is trying hard to keep from smiling. It was obvious how happy he was to be going to school.
“Who knows? I imagine it’ll be a little boring no? Both of us are well above the skill level of the first years there.” I shrug.
Elijah continues, “But there will be people from all those powerful houses. I imagine there will be a few who can be on my level right? I’m really excited to learn how to start controlling my powers. I’m glad that Xyrus has a lot of famous mages to learn from.”
“Yeah. I think it’ll be useful learning more about Lightning and Ice attribute skills.” I look down at my hands. These hands have grown a lot faster than I imagined. Just a few years ago, my hands were that of an infant, but it was now a lot bigger and it’ll continue to grow, just like my powers. I couldn’t help getting excited as well at the future to come.
Elijah interrupts my train of thought. “So what are you going to do about Lucas?”
I grow serious. “Lucas has no idea who I am and until I’m confident that I can confront his whole house, I’ll have it stay that way for the time being. I need to train harder than before.”
“Well you know you can count me in. Lucas is probably going to have it out for me when he sees me but he doesn’t think too much of me. I can’t believe that jerk tried to sacrifice us so that he could escape.” Elijah’s fists turn white as he trembles from anger.
“I know. He’s going to pay for everything he did, but no matter what, we can’t act against him yet.” I lay down on the right side of the bed, placing Sylvie, who was curled up, by my pillow.
Elijah lies down on the other side of the bed. After a few moments of silence, he turns his head my way.
“Hey Art. Do you think I’ll find a girlfriend at Xyrus?”
“Pfft! THAT’s what you were thinking of right now?” I get into a fit of laughter while Elijah blushes a deep red and starts kicking me from his side of the bed. “I’m being totally serious man! I hope there are a lot of pretty girls at Xyrus.” He sighs.
“For such a serious looking guy, you sure worry about normal things. Don’t worry. There will be plenty of rich pretty spoiled brats at Xyrus to take your pick from. Just wow them with your metal magic haha!”
“Screw you! I bet you won’t have trouble being popular, with your prince-like features…And you know I have trouble controlling my magic.” He turns away so his back is facing me.
“Don’t worry Elijah. We still have more than half a year until school starts. I’ll help you get better control of your mana manipulation before then.” I state.
After a brief pause, Elijah mutters a soft thank you without turning. What a shy boy.
“Goodnight perv. If you start coming unto me while you dream about a cute girl, I swear I’ll shock you.” I laugh, turning away as well.
“Pfft, don’t worry. Goodnight.” He retorts.
My mind, which was once filled with various thoughts on the future, starts going blank as I nod off to sleep.