"And this is where you've been taught every day since school began?" Lily asked incredulously as she looked around the plain classroom. Sure, the four windows on the side of the south wall was a pleasant change, as you could see almost the entirety of the town from its high vantage point. And if she squinted enough, Lily could even make out the mountains on the horizon, marking the borders between Appealte and Alcudia.
But even that wouldn't help mood of the classroom once it was all said and done. Looking around, Lily realized what was so off about this situation. A quiet classroom, plain walls, immaculate chalkboard.
'All that is missing is a boring lecture and I'd be able to fall asleep with no trouble at all. How had Isabella fared alone then?'
Her new party member, Isabella, fidgeted from the side. Lily knew that if she was in Isabella's shoes, she'd have thrown a fit a long time ago.
'She was probably just too nice about the whole situation and didn't complain much.'
"It's not as bad as you think. Miss Elena is a good teacher. Actually, a great teacher," she amended as Lily stared at her.
'Yup. Definitely too nice.'
"Sigh. And how much real practice are you getting in? You know, as a mage. Experimenting with spells? Actual Spellcasting? Combat training?"
"Yeah, that's what I thought, Isabella. Bells. Bella."
Lily groaned lightly and frowned as she sat in the front of the classroom.
"Bella, help me out, please. Grab that end of the desk."
"I'm moving them over here by the window. Look how nice it is outside, and with the sun shining on us we'll be able to fall asleep faster."
"Umm, I don't think that's what we are supposed to do during class, Lily."
It still didn't stop Isabella from helping her move the desks closer to the windows though. Ignoring her party member's comments, Lily smiled as she sat down at her new desk, the sun beating down warmly as she sat under the window. It was the perfect spot, much better than even her own classrooms. Being a perfect student was tiring after all, as was sitting in the front seat listening to old information presented in an even worse way than the first time.
"It'll be fine, Isabella. Look at this desk. It's so inviting and sparkly. It's basically begging us to relax and sleep on it. Just...wake me when...it's...for..clas..."
"Lily, wake up! Miss Elena is very mad."
"I'm mad Lily. Why did you wake me up? It's so relaxing here," Lily pretendedly grumbled.
"YOU ARE HERE TO LEARN!"
"I don't want to learn from her. She's boring and she's not really teaching us anything important." Lily murmured.
'This is worse than my regular schedule. Who planned this curriculum?' Lily peeked out, her vision filled with Isabella's face as she worriedly looked at her. She had been awake for a good portion of the class, and the truth of the matter was she really almost did fall asleep.
But what couldn't stand about the situation was that the education they were receiving was subpar, even for Lily's nonexistent standards.
'How come my mentor classes was so interesting and she was just in a plain teacher in a forest. While here in Nespe Academy with the best facilities, and even the Healer Hall teaching exclusively one on one, I am learning absolutely nothing!
... All right, it's time to speak my mind on this. As father always said, 'If no one is complaining then something must be wrong.''
"This is the worst class I've ever been in, Bells. Your teacher is really bad. I think even my advanced magic teacher is better than her, and he just reads straight from a book!"
"Lily, you have to be nicer! She's our teacher."
"She's not even fit to be your teacher. And she wouldn't even qualify as a backup for me," Lily murmured, sitting up to look at her teacher with disdain.
"Please, Lily. I don't want to get into another fight. Look, even the guards behind us are getting upset, and I've hardly ever seen them show emotions!"
"Tch, they should be upset as well. Her teaching style is terrible. She devoted a full two hours on nothing more 'than the gods are mysterious and I won't tell you about it unless you join the Healer Hall.' She could have been using that to teach spells or any other subject for that matter!
I mean, I've seen bad teachers before, Bella, and she's one of them. Either we need to get a new teacher soon or complain until we have someone competent to teach us instead."
She could feel the guards behind her still, hopefully deep in thought instead of anger. Honestly, they should be concerned about the education any apprentice is getting.
"Wha, that is untrue young lady!"
"The most I got out of the whole morning class was that there are actual records of the gods hidden deep within the Royal Family and the Healer Hall's archives."
While Isabella's teacher tried to come up with a reasonable excuse, Lily herself zoned out. 'That does beg the question though; how does mentor know so much about them?' Lily thought to herself. She shook her head, both physically and mentally, 'No, mentor will tell me when she's ready. After all, I am still an Apprentice. Maybe it's a big secret?/'
The ringing of a bell broke her concentration, though the teacher was still trying to prove her own case.
Slapping the table, Lily jumped up and grabbed Isabella's hand, fully intent on leaving the classroom. Though her new party member was dragging her feet.
"Lunch time, Bella! Let's hurry to the cafeteria, we need to arrive earlier if we want to eat the good stuff. Maybe we can even meet Ty- eh? Why are the doors locked?"
"We can't leave the classroom, Lily. Not until the final class is done," Isabella murmured.
"Wha! That's ridiculous!"
"You two wait here while I discuss things with my boss." Shooting a venomous glare at Lily, Miss Elena swiftly left the classroom, followed closely by a single guard. The door slammed shut before either of the two girls could get close.
"How rude. I hope she gets replaced."
"She is really nice though, Lily."
"Bella, being nice and being a good teacher are two vastly different things. We need competent teachers at our age. Otherwise, our growth will be stalled."
Lily bit her lip. 'And I really want to get into Alduit Academy by my own efforts.'
"Fine then. What do you do during lunch?"
"I wait until the lessons start again. Sometimes I even fall asleep... Sandwich?" Isabella asked helpfully from the side as she took out her own lunch, holding half of her sandwich in Lily's direction.
"... thank you."
Three grumpy old guards and two children. This was the worst lunch she'd ever sat through. No, actually Isabella's family dinner was the worst. But this was pretty bad as well.
Finishing her sandwich, she looked around, gauging the size of the classroom once again.
"Well, if we can't leave the classroom, then its time to practice combat, Isabella!"
"Out of the question." One of the old guard simply stated.
Lily pouted, glaring at the guards in the back. "Why?"
"That is what we are here for."
"No wonder Miss Elena is so weak then. No party member of mine will not know how to fight in close combat. Besides, Isabella can practice healing if we get hurt. Isabella, go and reason with them, quick! We have nothing else going on for a bit anyway."
Isabella cocked her head to the side.
"But why do we need to fight? We're just mages. We're supposed to stay in the back."
"Silly. What will you do when you're about to run out of mana? Or if we get mobbed by monsters? Roll over and die? No, we're going to protect ourselves as best we can while we regenerate our mana. The guards are good, but they can't protect us from everything," Lily berated harshly. That was one of the most impactful lessons she received from Miss Paige.
"What a unique thought. Most mages would hesitate to get into close combat situations."
"Meh. Train for the worst situation possible. Then you'll be ready for anything!"
"Umm... yeah! Sure, Lily! I want to practice!"
"Okay, so I'll start by attacking you and then we'll take turns. Is that alright with you?"
“What are we hitting each other with? I don’t think we’re supposed to use our textbooks for that.”
“No silly, we have practice weapons for a reason. Every classroom should have some to use. Come on, help me find them.”
Rolling her eyes, she edged around the guards in the back. Lily kicked the walls, ignoring Isabella's bewildered look until she hit a cavity hidden at the base of the walls. Isabella was shocked as Lily started pulling out random weapons.
“It’s a space-saving feature, as well as to keep the classrooms looking nice. No one wants to spend time making practice weapons look presentable if a guest comes to inspect the classrooms. It's much easier to just shove everything into a pile and out of sight."
Lily checked the conditions of the practice weapons and shoved the larger ones back into the hidden compartment. "Now then, would you like a sword, shield, staff, or a dagger to start?”
“Umm… what are you going to use, Lily?” Isabella hesitated, her eyes looking at each of the weapons nervously.
“I’ll use a practice staff, since I don’t want my own staff to get damaged."
“I, I’ll use a dagger then.”
“My aunt taught me how to use a dagger. And my wand isn’t the best for blocking things.”
“True, your wand is rather...unique,” Lily struggled to say something positive about her wand as she handed over the dagger. When she compared it to her own staff sitting next to the table, even she had to admit the branch was piddly. Though she was positive there was more than meets the eye to Isabella’s wand.
“You do know how to hold a dagger. Right?” Lily frowned as Isabella took up a weird stance a dozen steps or so away.
Instead of holding the dulled iron dagger like a sword, Isabella was holding it upside down, like she was about to stab someone. And she was protecting her face with her hands crossed.
“Mhmm. My auntie said this is the best way to fight with a dagger.”
“Huh. Well, I guess your aunt is a Bodyguard. It's just a little weird looking. But fine. Now, I’ll rush over to attack you and you have to either dodge, parry, or attack.”
“Umm, are you sure this is a good idea, Lily?”
“Hm? Yeah, it should be fine.”
“Okay, then. I’ll move in three...two...one...now!”
Lily awoke with a start, her head throbbing in pain. A blinding light was hovering over her head, though it faded quickly, Isabella's face came into view as she blinked the light out of her eyes. Looking to the open window, the sun hadn't moved much, so she must have been out for just a few minutes.
"Are you okay Lily?" Isabella's concern was clear through her tone of voice. Lily realized she was resting with her head on Isabella's lap. Reflecting, Lily slowly pieced together what happened. She had dashed forward and then...
"... your guards hit me, didn't they?"
"... yeah. On accident though! They sounded really apologetic. I guess they weren't expecting you to be quite so fast."
Lily sat there with her head in Isabella's lap as she started to heal her again. The pain was coming and going, and yet... "... Bella, does it usually take this long to heal a wound? I think I would've died if I was in a fight by now. I'm seriously going to have to rethink how our party fights if it takes this long to heal wounds. I was sorta expecting it to be a lot faster than this. Like, I could get up after a few seconds fast and continue fighting."
"Sorry. I'll practice harder. I just haven't gotten to head wounds yet. Sorry!"
"...and why do I have a bandage on my head? It's tied rather tight."
"Sorry! I haven't gotten to actually practice healing cuts yet. Sorry!"
Lily smiled a bit foolishly. "It's okay Bella. We'll have plenty of time to practice everything. We are party members, silly."
'And maybe one day we'll be friends,' Lily thought to herself as she closed her eyes again, the light penetrating through her eyelids ebbing Isabella moved her hands over her head.
Isabella's family was still quite scary, after all.