Don’t get me wrong. The town still looked amazing and there were a few people of different magical species around, but the majority were either humans or dwarves. That makes sense since this started as a dwarven trading outpost. It was underwhelming though. I guess I had watched too many movies in the past and just had an unrealistic expectation. Oh well, I will just monitor and try adjust my expectations in the future.
I continued with the academy group through several main streets until we finally took a left turn and started down what was labeled Academy Avenue. Not very creative, but I guess it gets the job done. In front of me around 400 meters away I could see the street end at a large ornate gate. That must be the entrance to the academy. As we get closer I can see that the name VULCAN ACADEMY is emblazoned in a large half circle above the gates. Two bored looking guards were outside the entrance, but they snapped to attention on spotting Sven.
“Welcome Back Teacher Sven.”
“Send a message to the Headmaster that I will be coming to see him in an hour with a new student.”
“Yes Teacher Sven.”
“Children, you have the rest of today and tomorrow off from classes, but do stay out of trouble. Anyone who is late to their first class on Moonsday will have their physical fitness workout doubled.”
After several groans and cheers for both the time off and the threat of extra work the students wandered off to different areas. Sven motioned me to follow him. I started walking after him and realizing that I had just heard a name for one of the days of the week. Moonsday, I wonder how many days are in a week. Man I really need to get to the library to pick up some common knowledge quickly or people are going to start asking weird questions about me. I focused back onto what Sven was saying.
“So we will get lunch in the academy cafeteria then go and meet the headmaster, after which we will pick you classes give you a map and a guide and figure out your living arrangements. Does that sound okay to you Mark?”
“Yes teacher Sven that sounds fine.”
After a much better lunch than what I was expecting, the word cafeteria never inspires confidence, Sven led me to a large building with three towers on top of it.
“The center tower belongs to the Headmaster. Either address him as Headmaster or Professor Pinter. The left tower hold the vice-head of magic Elenore Elyssius and the right tower the vice-head of battle Henrik Youthton. Since you are registering as an independent student you will have a mentor and be able to study anything you want. However, you will be considered to be part of the central tower under the headmaster.”
“Alright teacher Sven, are mentors assigned or do they select their students?”
“Any time a student is given permission for an independent study the upper level faculty watch a demonstration of his skills and then they discuss who would be the best to mentor the student.”
“So I have to give a demonstration. What kind of demonstration? Is it spells, fighting, a mix, or what exactly.”
“The demonstration is left up to the student, but most choose to use the academies illusion fighting arena to demonstrate their advanced fighting and magic skills.”
“Okay teacher Sven, I have never heard of an illusion fighting arena. What is it and what does it do?”
“For a small cost of mana cores it will create scenarios for you practice fighting in safely. If you are “killed” in the illusion it just stops. It can be set to almost anything you can imagine and is relatively cheaply priced at three cores per hour. Sometimes special students are given free time in the illusion arena to practice as rewards.”
“I guess I will use it for my demonstration as I have nothing else prepared.”
“Don’t worry Mark, from what I have seen, your approval is guaranteed. We just need to see you fight to pick the right person to help you as your mentor. There is no pressure at all.”
On that note we had reached an older beastkin lady, who with those ears had to be of the tiger variety.
“Helen, would you please inform the Headmaster that teacher Sven has brought a prospective independent study student to be interviewed.”
“One moment, please. The headmaster was expecting you, please go up to his office. Sven you know the way.”
“Thank You Helen.”
As we passed her I guess Sven could see the question in my eyes. “Helen is a former adventurer that has retired and now is the Tower Organizer.”
So tower organizer is like the head secretary of a big corporation then. I definitely want her to like me. These types of people make everything run smoothly.
“Thank you for your help Miss Helen.”, and then I smiled.
She just nodded and smiled back. Good, first impression made and it was positive. I followed Sven up three flights of stairs and then he knocked on an impressive door that had Vulcan Academy Headmaster engraved on it.
We entered into a very large office/reception room. There was an elderly gentleman who still possessed a very strong aura about him behind a desk on the far end of the room. I assume that the person must be the headmaster. We approached a little closer and then Sven spoke.
“Headmaster, may I introduce Mark Stefanopolis to you. His story is an interesting one, and after meeting him and testing him with the Fire Caves dungeon I believe he will benefit the most from becoming an independent student here at the academy.”
“Hello Headmaster, I am glad to be here and I hope that I can learn from you and the others here at the academy.”
“Interesting, an Elemental Thri-Keen. I have only seen one other like you in my entire life.”
I was a little startled at this information. I thought this was a special evolution due to my race and abilities. However, come to think of it, if I can evolve into it there is a chance no matter how small that someone else evolved or mutated into before now also.
“Well Mr. Stefanopolis, why don’t you tell me your story.”
I told the headmaster my prepared story. Wandering master, out on my own now, the whole tear jerking thing. I am not sure he actually bought it, but he was at least neutral or did not care. At the end of the story, the headmaster was silent for a few minutes. Finally, he spoke.
“Very well, I accept that you would make a good independent student. Especially as you will need to catch up on some basics, while being very far ahead of other students in other areas. Sven, alert the upper level teachers that Mr. Stefanopolis will demonstrate his abilities tomorrow after lunch. I assume that you wish to use the Illusion arena?”
“Yes headmaster, if this will not cause a problem.”
“No problem, I will arrange for it to be available for our use tomorrow afternoon. I look forward to your demonstration.”
After some more small talk Sven escorted me back out of the headmaster’s office. He brought me back down to Helen’s desk and told me he had work to do. He then took off and abandoned me before I had even the basic necessities. I turned to Miss Helen and gave her my best smile.
“Hello again Ms. Helen. I seem to have been left here without any guidance. I wonder if you would be so kind as to answer a couple of questions for me.”
“Go ahead young man, what can I help you with today?”
“I am the newest independent study student here at the academy and I seem to be a bit lost. I have never been on the academy grounds before let alone this being the first time I have ever been in a city. I would like to know if you could provide a map of the campus and maybe a recommendation for a private residence I could purchase nearby the academy?”
After hearing my story and request I realized that Helen was going to be on my side.
“My goodness, I can’t believe that they just left you without any help or guidance. You wait right here and I will take care of everything.”
I patiently waited and soon Miss Helen came back down after going up the same stairs Sven and I had just been on. I guess she went and talked to the headmaster.
“Well Mr. Stefanopolis, I seem to have the rest of the day off. So I will be giving you a personal tour of the campus and helping you find a place to stay. Do you have a preference or monetary limit I should know about before we start?”
This woman was much more formidable than I thought if she could go straight to the headmaster and dictate what exactly what she was going to do. I am glad I made a good first impression.
“Well Miss Helen, I need to sell some fire cores, and weapons from a dungeon, but after that if the prices I have been told are accurate I should have between 2-3000 thousand gold coins. Will that be enough for tuition and a house outside of campus. You see I have been living in the wilds with my master for the last 17 years and I do not know if I can handle a lot of people all at once right now.”
“Oh you poor dear, that will be plenty. Don’t worry about your tuition either. I will set you up with a scholarship when I come in tomorrow morning. So if you are nervous around others, then someplace either isolated or large enough that you can feel comfortable will be what we will look for.”
“Wow, Miss Helen that sounds great, thank you so much for helping me out.”
“No worries dear, now let’s get going. I think selling the cores and shopping first. I think that the campus tour can wait until tomorrow morning, but we absolutely must get you settled into a place tonight.”
What happened next was a whirlwind of efficiency. Miss Helen either knew everyone there was to know, or knew someone who knew the right person. I soon had all of my dungeon spoils sold off at a premium and was the proud owner of just over 3,500 gold pieces. Much more than I had estimated. 2 hours later we were still looking for a house after buying all the essentials such as bedding, cook ware, clothes and assorted other miscellaneous things I never even realized I missed.
After the last tour and seeing how I was not impressed, Helen asked me an important question. “Mark what is the biggest drawback to every house we have seen so far?”
“Um, Miss Helen I really like nature and actually have some ability to grow and shape plants. All of these house were nice, but very sterile and only had huge courtyards of stone. Is there anything with maybe a garden or something? It could be farther out, travel is not an issue, I can teleport in each morning.”
It seems I impressed Miss Helen with these bits of information.
“Hmm, that does open up a lot more options. I’ve got it the old Elvish Embassy. I am pretty sure no one has bought it or moved in yet. We will head to Stephen’s business right now to find out.”
I followed this powerful force of nature to a business simply entitled “Stephen’s Land and Business Holdings Headquarters”. I followed Helen inside and was introduced to an older Dwarven gentleman named Stephen Bouldershard. The proprietor of the business I assumed from the name. Helen did not waste any time and got straight to the point.
“Stephen, my new friend Mark here is in need of a place to stay. I had the wonderful thought of maybe taking the old Elvish Embassy property off your hands since I heard you were finally trying to sell it.”
“Of course Helen, the market price is 2,500 gold pieces and will include the manor and the entire enclosed forest of 50 hectares on the outskirts of the city.”
“That sounds perfect, but 2,500 gold coins, really Stephen?”
I kept my mouth shut and let Helen the negotiator get me a better price.
“Well Miss Helen”, said Stephen as he started to sweat, I could lower the price a little for such an old friend.”
“Old, did you just say I was old, Stephen?”
I could see the fear in Stephen’s eyes as he realized how badly he had messed this up.
“I misspoke Miss Helen, you still have the looks and youthful bloom of someone in their 20’s. I can easily let this property go for 2,000 gold coins to such a dear young lady such as yourself.”
Helen nodded to herself and said, “we will take it. Mark pay the man.”
Wow, she just saved me 500 gold pieces. I have to remember not to only thank her, but to be careful to never call her old. Ever.