The first academic day at First Magic University began just the way it did every other year. At the central gate, a crowd of freshmen gathered to pretend they were really entering the holy of holies in New Earth’s magic education system for the first time.
They were accompanied by proud parents.
Proud-looking parents, at least.
Some of them had actually raised a child who’d secured a scholarship at an institution where the cheapest major cost 50,000 credits per semester. Few families could afford that much. After all, you had to multiply that by eight to calculate the total cost of an undergraduate degree.
Then there was a master’s degree, four times as expensive as a bachelor’s. The doctoral was…well, only those with grants and scholarships were accepted. Not even the city mayor’s children could take doctoral courses just by paying the tuition.
And that was even though the mayor of Myers City was a sort of king for all of Atlantis, which was a sovereign state…or maybe it wasn’t. That was an affair too complicated for any Sphynx to ever tell heads or tails of it. Although one Sphynx did actually try.
So, the happy parents celebrating with their children represented a variety of backgrounds, from happy middle-class professionals and small-time entrepreneurs to the heads of aristocratic clans.
Yes, Atlantis still had an archaic institution like the aristocracy. It was just modernized, with boatloads of money and power concentrated in their hands.
Each clan had a skyscraper of its own, and they vied with each other to see whose was the tallest and most luxurious. Currently leading the charge was the Liebeflamm clan, fire wizards rumored to be descended from the Ifrits, or Arabic fire spirits (if spirits can have a nationality, of course).
Luckily, the pompous ceremony, complete with speeches delivered by the rector, the prorector, the deans, the best students, the alumni, and the benefactor money bags, didn’t last long.
Shortly afterward, the uniformed crowds of students (both males and females) rushed through the gate onto the campus. Most of them flocked into the central building where, after checking the schedules handed out by their course leaders, they hurried off for their first lectures.
The B-52 lecture hall was packed to capacity just fifteen minutes later. The twenty-three tiered rows buzzed with anticipation like a panicking anthill.
“Have you heard?” a voice came from a bunch of girls wearing make-up too ostentation to stay unnoticed. “The professor is just twenty-one!”
“That’s impossible,” a guy one row higher shot back. “It takes dozens of years of practice to become a professor in any area of magic, not to mention lots of research articles published in peer-reviewed journals and a good impact factor.”
“How do you know?”
“My grandpa is a professor.”
“Fuck your grandpa then, kid.”
The girls laughed. The young boy flushed, hunching up to hide his head like a tortoise in its shell. While he was apparently one of those lucky to be born with a head on their shoulders, the girls mocking him were just lucky to be born. At least, if they had brains, they weren’t in any hurry to show them off.
Everyone was excited about their introduction to legendary black magic. The thrill had as much to do with the fact that it was prohibited as it did the mysteries that enshrouded it.
There was just one group of three guys and two girls huddled up in the farthest corner of the hall that wasn’t inspired in the least. In fact, they were withdrawn and looking kind of even doomed.
Like a man going on a date despite being diagnosed with incurable impotence earlier that morning.
Yes, it was that kind of doom, one worse than what a prisoner sentenced to death feels on their way to the place of execution.
The prisoner knows that their pain is about to be over.
But for those five, the real pain was about to start.
“They have no idea what they’re waiting for,” the red-haired guy named Travis sighed.
“Who’s waiting?” A young man with A-list celebrity good looks took his eyes off his reflection in a small mirror. “I’m totally booked for today. Two fittings, four photo shoots. Sorry, guys, I just can’t—”
“Shut up, Leo,” Travis, Elie (the blonde), and Mara (the small pretty girl) barked in unison.
Jing, the Asian, stayed impassive, peering off somewhere into the distance. Not into the lecture hall, but into himself.
“What exactly did he tell you, bestie?” Elie whispered…or rather hissed. Beautiful as she was, she was far from Leo’s level. “That he wasn’t listening to you?”
“I think he just wanted me to think so,” the gray-haired girl smiled naively. “Maybe he’s not that bad, after all.”
“Not that bad?” Travis flared up instantly. “I asked my brother to dig up some info on Alexander Dumsky, and you know what?”
“You told us already,” Elie replied, rolling her eyes. “A good twenty times. But whatever, it again. For the twenty-first time.”
“I’ll say it a twenty-second time if that’s what it takes to get it through your thick skull. No. One. Has. Ever. Heard. Anything about an Alexander Dumsky in any of the Old Earth countries. Eastern or Western Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Gulf, none of them. No. One. Ever. Anything! And when he tried to find out more about the so-called ‘professor’ here in Myers City, he was told to let it drop. And he’s a Central Office detective!”
“All the personal info you could need about our supervisor,” Elie said, stressing the last word, “is available for everyone to check out on the site. You can read his work, check out his articles, look through pictures from conferences. Do you really think he could have faked all that by himself?”
“I don’t know, Elie. I don’t know.” The boy sighed. “But next month, my brother is going to a conference in China. He’s going to visit a friend who lives there—I spotted him in one of the pictures you say are such proof evidence. We’ll expose the bastard and—f”
Whatever else Travis was going to do with the black wizard would forever remain a mystery shrouded in darkness and terror. A young man kicked the door open and stepped into the lecture hall.
Paying no heed to the students who fell suddenly silent, he took a deep pull of his cigarette, let the smoke join the cloud already around his head, and sat down at his desk, hands in pockets.
He cursed happily as he rummaged through the draws, his cigarette tucked in his mouth. But only the first few rows heard how nasty his language was.
The lecture hall became even quieter.
The professor of black magic, a genius who’d earned this rank by the age of twenty-one, a handsome man with short haircut styled the way it was done in the 2010s, a character dressed in a very expensive suit, put his feet up on the table and, still smoking his cigarette, opened in front of him…
Not a grimoire. Not a book on dark magic. Not some other book or even a course syllabus, but a very fat porn magazine complete with a lurid cover.
The lecture hall got very quiet.
A small feather fell from the ceiling, easing its way through the air. Every little rustle it made echoed like raging thunder in the spring.
“Ah, right.” Checking himself, Professor Alexander Dumsky carelessly opened the laptop and pressed several buttons. On the large graphitic board (so backward) behind his back, projected by a previous-century apparatus, appeared a giant magic seal.
The very sight of it left many of the students there giddy, a group that used to think of themselves as some of the best and brightest young minds in the city.
Never before had they seen such a complicated, involved, and intricate tangle of magic symbols, signs, figures, and other shapes.
“Whoever doesn’t solve this by the end of the semester, will fail my exam and be expelled,” the professor declared in the distant voice of a person engrossed in whatever they were reading. “The clock starts now.”
Travis was about to say something when his gaze was met by the bright green staring eyes of the black wizard.
Hiccupping, he got to work copying the seal onto his tablet.
“Did he hear me?” he muttered. His whole figure seemed to shrink.
A couple of moments later, everyone in the lecture hall was sliding their styluses across their tablets.
Alex dove into the dossier on the Mask, using the Asian’s preferred term for the guy in his head. And he wasn’t reading because he had to. Not because it was his job. Just because…
Well, because he hadn’t told the Guards everything he knew. He’d actually revealed just a tiny bit of what he’d learned about the demonologist in that apartment. And if even half of Alex’s guesses were true, hard times were about to come crashing down on him.
They were going to be much, much harder than those four years in the wizard prison. Much harder than playing guard dog for humanity’s defenders.
“Professor?” Out of the corner of his eye, Doom saw a girl timidly raise her hand.
Slamming the dossier shut, he peered at the young prodigy.
[Name:Tasha. Race:Forest Elf. Mana level:650. Open the extended dossier?]
The extended dossier? Ah, sure. He was a professor, and this bunny girl was his student. That’s why the lenses offered him more info.
Damnation. All demons of hell.
An 18-year-old elf at the sixth level? Were all the other young prodigies there going to waste his precious time, too?
The elven girl (rather good-looking, which was why Alex responded to her) seemed to shrink as she squeaked.
“What are we supposed to do with the seal?”
Alex shifted his gaze from the elven girl, the magic Pandora still ringing on the wrist of her raised hand, to the seal, then back, then to the seal again.
He’d already memorized all the demons of hell.
“You’re supposed to distribute the energy flows so that the spell consumes a max of 1,200 points instead of 1,900. So, you’re in it up to your neck. Funny, yeah, up to your neck. Start working! The sun is high, and I haven’t gotten any solutions yet.”
After that, Alex donned his headphones demonstratively and got back to reading the dossier. He’d had more important things to take care of the previous night.
If he was going to meet the demonologist face to…well, face to mask, he wanted to be 147% ready.
Once the professor put his headphones on, no one in the lecture hall dared whisper or even look up from their tablets. No one but the redhead.
“Reduce 1,900 to 1,200? Cut mana consumption by seven levels?! I can’t even figure out the outline! That’s impossible! And—”
Once again, Travis’s words would remain shrouded in secret and mystery forever. The shroud that time, however, was made up of the excessively strong smell of perfume coming from the short, plump, and balding dean entering the hall.
B-52 was visited by Travis Lebenstein in person, rather colorful as that person was. What he saw there was more than he could take in.
So, he decided to go with his usual tack, distracting the professor and asking, “What’s going on here?” in a voice so thunderingly loud that it almost shattered the windows.
The way Alexander Dumsky pulled a single headphone out of his ear was enough for many of the students to grip their protective charms.
They sensed that blood was about to be shed.
My name is Kirill Klevanski. I was born in Russia, in St. Petersburg, and English isn’t my native language.
I have always been fond of fantasy worlds and magic creatures, and so I found myself writing a fantasy novel one day.
My career as an author began when I was eighteen. I got my first contract with a publishing agency easily. I wrote 4 books for that series and then I got bored. The publisher didn’t like that.
At the age of twenty, I suddenly found myself among the most popular Russian fanfic authors. My fanfic of ‘Harry Potter’ got over 1.000.000 reads in under seven months.
At the age of 22 I was a “real author” with my own printed book series. Blah, blah, blah…
Had I achieved any real success?
Come on now! It would’ve been just one more boring and hardly believable story if I’d had!
All the top publishing houses in Russia had banned me from literary events and wouldn’t work with me.
...I was only twenty-three, however, my literary career had collapsed and been buried...
“Ha-ha! Go cry to your mommy”, someone said.
No, thanks. His Mom was my #1 fan.
The internet has given us freedom. And so, thanks to the internet, I continued writing and self-published my works on many book sites.
More and more, book by book, I used each free minute I had to create new fantasy worlds. Some of my books became rather popular, while others were… just a tad awful.
At one time, I stopped writing.
I wasn’t having as much success as I’d dreamed about. Instead, I got my diploma and went on to work as a History teacher.
“Ha-ha again! An even better ending for the story of such a cocky man!”
Yeah… I stopped writing, but I never stopped reading. One day, I came across two genres—LitRPG and Wuxia. The idea for an epic saga came to my mind in an instant!
The "Dragon Heart” saga has become one of the most read fantasy series in Russia. Over 10,000,000 reads in just one and a half years.
The series “Dragon Heart” has 12 books and over 1100 chapters out already, as well as its own fan club. The whole story is planned out (I won’t get bored of this one, promise) and will have over 2000 chapters and 20 books.
Nowadays, this story is popular all over the world.
That’s why I came here to tell you my story.