Chapter 44: You Dare?
The incoming students of all three races that were cheering for each of the Student Council members fell silent when Tess walked in. With her gunmetal silver hair swaying behind her as each of her dignified steps echoed throughout the silent auditorium, she single-handedly changed the atmosphere inside this entire building.
As she bowed and tucked her hair behind her ear, a roar of applause erupted as both males and females alike cheered from admiration. I thought the cheers would last a lot longer but as soon as Tess started speaking, it was as if each of the students in the crowd covered each other’s mouth so that they can hear her voice.
“My name is Tessia Eralith and I am honored to stand here as this Academy’s Student Council President.”
Murmurs started after the crowd once again cheered for our beautiful president. Next to me was a scrawny human boy that was talking to his friend on the other side.
“THAT’S the Princess Eralith I was talking about. My older brother that goes here told me she became a direct disciple under the Director and she’s been on campus since last year and will start formally attending this year with us!” He leaned in to his friend so only he could hear but the volume he spoke betrayed him.
“T-that means she’s the first non-human to set foot on this campus. Wait… she’s only a first year and she’s already the Student Council President? Is that even possible?” His friend, whom I couldn’t really see, spoke louder and louder with each word, the neighboring students hearing it as well.
“Yeah I heard of her as well! She’s supposedly a super-genius of some sort right?”
“Why the hell is she so damn beautiful if she’s also talented as well? This isn’t even fair…”
“I wonder what I would have to give to get her to even look at me?”
The audience was filled with different talks about Tessia but while for the males it revolved around how much of an unobtainable star she was, for the females, it was a mixture of admiration and envy. Sylv was going crazy on top of my head as she recognized Tess down on stage.
“Kyuu~” ‘Papa! That’s Mama! She’s down there! Let’s go say hi!’ Sylv was jumping up and down so I picked her up and wrapped my arms around her.
‘Who’s your Mama!’ I couldn’t help but sigh in defeat at her excitement. Tess became pretty close to Sylv a bit after hatching so I can see why she’s so fond of her… but mama?
“Woah…” Elijah, who I stopped paying attention to firmly gripped my arm with both of his hands as if he needed me to support him from fainting.
“Woah…” Repeated Elijah. For how smart he looks, he sure acts like an idiot at times like these.
“You okay there, Elijah?” I lightly nudge his head but his head just bounces like a bobble head toy.
“…Art…I think I’m in love.” His hands that were firmly gripping my arm suddenly intertwined with my arm as he linked arms with me, imagining me as Tessia.
Okay this is getting out of hand. I tell Sylvie to attack and she promptly locks her jaw on the top of Elijah’s head as he starts screaming from more surprise than pain.
“Oh sorry…” With Sylv still dangling on the crown of his head, Elijah lets go of my arm and starts focusing on the stage below again.
As the crowd settled down enough for Tessia to start speaking again, Director Goodsky silently disappeared.
Tessia spoke eloquently enough to even surprise me. She was only 13, yet she had the ability to draw the crowd’s full attention with her unadorned words filled with maturity. She spoke about the principles of this Academy, how this is a holy ground where students should feel safe to walk freely around. Tessia emphasized the discipline one would face if anyone hurt another student outside of a consented duel.
“While I may be a first year as all of you are, having given the privilege to be inside the academy a year longer made it all too apparent to me that there is a deeply embedded discrimination against the Scholar mage students by the Battle mage students. I for one will not tolerate any sort of aggression or bullying based on the fact that one is a Scholar Mage student.” Tessia’s voice never waivered as she stood behind the podium.
The crowd grew a little noisy at this statement, as everyone present knows all too well some of the hardships one may face if they are a Scholar Mage student.
“Starting this year, while uniforms and the upper courses required may be different, for the first two years, general education, that contains the mixture of both Scholar Mage classes and Battle Mage classes will be mandatory for better assimilation between the two different types of students. After the two years is up, one may choose to switch their education specialization by taking a test, although it is a quite difficult one.” This last statement drew in dissatisfied complains from amongst the students in the crowd. While both Elijah and I didn’t have to take a test due to my special connection with Director Goodsky, all students, regardless of background had to test for either a Scholar Mage or Battle mage position.
To get in as a Scholar Mage, an incoming student only needs a basic foundation in magic, which is mana gathering. While they had to take a written exam to test their mental acuteness, the practical portion of the exam was much more simple. Battle Mage students, however, had a much stricter practical exam, actually performing basic spells or techniques depending on whether they were a Conjurer or Augmenter. It may seem like a cakewalk for someone like Elijah, Tess, or me, I’ll admit it could be quite a bit of challenge for someone who just awakened.
The tall stern looking fellow stepped up next, silencing the crowd with a wave of his hand.
“My name is Clive Graves and I am your Student Vice President. Continuing on from what the President said, this year contains many changes. Along with the assimilation and freedom to move between the two student types, there will also be no limit on how long a student can attend this academy. While in the past, the professors here pushed students to graduate after 4 years, it is becoming more and more apparent that many graduate’s capability as a mage is becoming less than satisfactory. Therefore, the Director has declared that instead of a time limit on graduating, in order to graduate from Xyrus Academy, one needs to fulfill a list of requirements and pass the graduation exam. While the conditions to graduate have become many folds harder, the time limit to graduate has increased to 10 years. In that time, we fervently hope to produce top class mages in both the theoretical and combat fields. We welcome everyone here, humans, elves and dwarves alike to this Academy.” Clive bows, the rest of the Student Council following him.
The last part of the announcement wasn’t exactly news for any of us. It was announced quite recently though, which made me think that it had something to do with the new Continent. Was this Academy being used to produce higher quality mages in case of a future battle against the new Continent?
“That’s the firstborn son of the famous Graves family! Make sure not to get on his bad side.” Again the boy next to me whispers in a pointlessly loud volume.
After finishing up the ceremony, all the new students were dismissed to their dorms. Filing out of the auditorium, my eyes unconsciously looked for Tess but she was nowhere in sight. Outside, the trees that arched over the marble walkways produce small showers of leaves of fall colors. The students were all excitedly chatting amongst their peers, getting to know new people. Walking deeper within the campus to where the dorms were, I see female students passing by Elijah and I, taking a double take back at us and giggling with their friends.
“Sigh… I feel like I become significantly less better looking when I’m next to you.” Elijah’s shoulders hunch as we walk along side-by-side, Sylv pitifully patting Elijah’s head from on top of mine.
“Well, even if most come after me, some of the girls will have to eventually settle for you right buddy?” I tease, giving him a playful wink.
“Screw you.” He hits me on the stomach as the both of us laugh.
The loud explosion surprises the both of us as well as the students walking around us. We rushed towards the commotion at the end of the marble walkway.
“I don’t see how a short-ass dwarf like you can hope to be a proper Augmenter. Why don’t you stick to forging some weapons for real warriors like me?”
“What da hell didja say? Who do ya think ya are anyway?”
I stop running when I realize what’s going on a still pretty good distance away, shaking my head. It was just a stupid brawl about to happen between two students. The explosion was made from the human hitting his fist on the nearby tree with mana.
“Couldn’t this become dangerous?” Elijah looks around where some of the students had to deliberately walk around the two of them just in case they start fighting. We were amongst the last to leave the auditorium so most are already deeper within the campus or inside their dorms, so there weren’t many people but if they do start fighting, some students in the vicinity may get caught up in this mess.
“They wouldn’t dare do something like fighting on the first day right? Let’s just go.” I try to nudge my friend to a roundabout route avoiding the two arguing students.
“Come on, we have nothing to do besides unpack anyway! Let’s just see how good they are. Look, the human looks to be a level two Augmenter.” He points at the brawny human.
Looking at them, both the dwarf and human student had Battle Mage uniforms, but the human had two stripes on his tie while the dwarf had only one.
“My name is Nicolas Dreyl! Declare the duel short-ass so we can start! Or are you all bark no bite?” The human smirks, placing his right hand on the badge pinned to his left breast.
“Tch! Yer gonna be sorry.” The dwarf that looked around 150cm with a bulky build looked awkward wearing the blazer uniform but the way he carried his giant battle-axe with ease tells me he’s more than what the single stripe on his tie tells us.
The metal badge on both the human and dwarf glows brightly as the dwarf starts chanting after placing his hand on his badge as well. “I declare a duel between me, Broznean Boor and Nicolas Dreyl!”
“I accept the duel!” The two badges glow and different colors until it syncs together and produces a loud ‘ping’ sound.
The badge on the Battle Mage uniform and the pocket watch on the Scholar Mage uniform act as an artifact for the dueling system, creating a layer of barrier around the user that can take a certain amount of force. When the barrier breaks, the duel is considered over and the other party the winner. It takes around 24 hours for the artifact to charge another barrier where, during that time, dueling is not allowed. Mages of a higher level aren’t allowed to issue a duel with lower levels to keep it fair, which is why the human had to taunt the dwarf to start the duel.
The human mage takes out dual swords from his dimension ring and gets into a stance as the people around start backing up to avoid getting caught up in the fight.
“Go dwarf!” Elijah starts cheering himself in favor of Broznean, getting dirty looks in the process.
I study the two Augmenters and see that the level two human is a red core stage mage while the dwarf is still a black stage. This should be interesting.
“HAAP!” The human student roars as his two broadswords glow a dim yellow color and the earth surrounding him starts trembling.
“JAH!” The dwarf leaps up and propels himself forward by pushing off of a nearby tree, charging his battle-axe as well with earth attribute mana.
“Ooh! Both are Earth Attribute Augmenters Art!” Elijah gets more excited as leans closer towards the fight as Sylv is asleep on my head.
“Tremor Smash!” The dwarf shouts, placing his left palm on the head of his axe, making the dull glow condense.
The power of the blow from the dwarf forces the human to skid back even as he blocked with both his swords. I could see both his arms shaking as he grimaces.
The human boy lowers his two swords and dashes towards the dwarf who was already in a defensive stance. The dual swords scrape along the ground and as he swings up after getting into range, a trail of earth follows along, creating a blade of earth after his blade.
Not bad. While it wasn’t surprising that the dwarf could already use his earth attribute element, it surprised me that a human on the red stage could already augment his earth attribute to that degree. He was talented in that sense.
“Shatter!” The dwarf’s body glows yellow and he stomps his right foot hard unto the ground, creating a ripple around him as the earth blade that was coming towards him falls down in fragments. The dwarf blocks the human’s two actual blades with his axe but gets a little scrape on his arm from the upward swing.
“Earth Pillar!” Following the upward swipe, he stomps hard with his leading foot directly in front of the dwarf creating a pretty fragile column of rock from the ground that hits the dwarf squarely on the stomach.
“Oof!” The dwarf’s body lifts into the air from the force of the blow and his shield breaks with loud shattering sound, signaling that the duel is over.
Cheers go off from the humans that gathered but the dwarves amongst the audience groan in embarrassment.
Elijah just sighs and starts to leave but before I follow him, I see the slight smirk on the human’s face as he once again imbues mana into his two blades.
That fool wasn’t planning on finishing it with that. He was going for the final blow.
If I were to use a long-range technique, that’ll create even more problems but if I go there and directly interfere, everyone would know it would be me.
Gah! Why couldn’t Elijah see that the human was going to cast another technique? If Elijah interfered with a spell, it would be more natural since he’s a Conjurer.
There was this way too. Sorry Tess.
“IS THAT THE STUDENT COUNCIL PRESIDENT I SEE COMING OVER?” I deliberately yell louder so that the human boy that won the duel would be startled.
Just like I anticipated, he clicks his tongue and puts his swords back into his dimension ring, jerking his eyes around to find the President.
The crowd that was talking amongst their friends, analyzing the duel all started looking around for Tessia.
“Where’s the Student Council President?” Elijah stretches his neck above the crowd to look for her.
“Oops! I must’ve been mistaken!” I just shrug my shoulders and turn to walk past when a hand firmly grasps my shoulder.
“Are you picking a fight with me or something brat?” It was the human that was just dueling, Nick or Nicole or whatever.
“Yeah! What the hell man! Getting us excited for nothing!” I see some of the humans evidently disappointed at not being able to see their idol in person.
“I thought I saw her. Once again, my bad.” I use my hand to peel his hands off of my shoulder, giving him a wink.
“Yeah, your bad.” He snatches his hand away before he walks away, spitting on the ground in front of my feet.
“You know, a good advice if you want to graduate…I don’t think killing that dwarf boy would’ve done you any good.” I stand still as Sylv spits directly at the back of his neck.
He instantly whirls back around with his two swords in his hands once again. I can almost see a vein bulging out of his forehead like it would in a cartoon.
“Pfft.” Oops, I shouldn’t laugh in this situation. I take a quick glance and see that Elijah is just shaking his head, knowing it’s too late.
“YOU DARE??” The thirteen-year-old boy with swords too big for his immature body dash towards me in a manner I find clumsy, preparing to cross chop with his two blades, his face bright red in anger.
I lift an eyebrow as I lift one hand up to stop the blow. Why make myself look foolish?
Just as I prepare to shatter his two swords, a voice stops him straight in his tracks. It was the voice that all of the new students heard not too long ago and the voice probably every male fell in love with. It was also the voice of my childhood friend.
“Do YOU dare?”