"You don't like magic?!" Nec asked me, grabbing his head in disbelief, "No, no. Magic is great! I am sure you will grow to love it!"
His enthusiasm was infectious, I sat straight and said with a smile, "I hope so, just bad memories from Lemuria."
"Oh, you didn't play as a caster? I can understand where you are coming from then." Nec said, scratching his beard, "Magic allows us to reach heights we have never seen before, I've been an astrophysicist previously, magic extends to that field."
"Whoa, seriously? That's an amazing job!" I exclaimed and in a small voice added, "I was a medical student."
Nec squinted his eyes, "Right, this reminds me. Do you remember yourself before arriving in this world?"
Raising my eyebrow, I replied, "Well, I was a medical student..." I paused, my heart whistling, something was wrong. "I don't remember how old I was."
"You must have been in your twenties, that's still a child to me," Nec said with a fatherly smile. "Were you male or female? I know I was a male because I was married and had a child, only because of this though."
Trembling, I grabbed my head, "I think... I don't know. I definitely feel like I was female but something feels off."
Sighing, Nec said, "In my hazy memories I am just a shapeless blob, no physical details."
Scared, I tried to recall how I looked before, the myself that I met when Thunder took my heart; nothing. Even that night with Lisa, I couldn't remember my thoughts, something was off. In my mind, I surely was a female from the start. I must have been.
"This is impossible. I've seen myself. In the limbo." I mumbled, trying to recall any details.
Nec leaned in and placed his hand on my shoulder, jolting me out of my mulling. Smiling, he said, "It doesn't matter. I think my age was similar to this body so my state of mind wasn't affected too much. As for you? Do you feel like a twenty-year-old?"
"No. I feel my physical age. If it makes any sense," I squeezed out, dodging his eyes.
He ruffled my hair and said, "You are Marie, I am Nec, we are what we are, this is how this world molded us."
"Have I regressed mentally?" I asked, getting nervous.
Nec sighed and seriously said, "I can't know that. Maybe you did, maybe you were not as emotionally developed as you thought you were. With time, you will get used to it, I don't care who you were, only who you are and who you will grow to be."
Taking a deep breath to compose myself, I replied, "It's scary. How can I remember so much about our world and nothing about myself? It has been less than a month."
"I believe that's the price for our new lives, even if we didn't ask for them. Some kind of balance was necessary." Nec said and thought for a moment before adding, "I am glad that you didn't lie."
Frowning, I asked, "How would you know if I lied or not?"
Nec chuckled and replied, "Who do you think came up with the lie detecting enchantment? The seat you are sitting on is enchanted as well."
I sprang up to my feet, the crow on my shoulder complaining, and suspiciously glanced at the seat and then at Nec.
He apologetically raised his hands and said, "I am really sorry if you feel that I betrayed your trust. If it makes you feel any better my seat is the same, we can switch and I will repeat everything."
"That's why I don't like wizards!" I said, pouting. "Why would I lie to you?"
Sighing, Nec changed the seat and said, "I hate magic."
The seat lit up like a beacon for a moment before returning to normal. Seeing this, I sat on his seat and also said an obvious lie, it lit up as well. Relaxing a little bit, I heaved a sigh of relief, I felt really glad that he cleared it up, even if a bit annoyed that he didn't tell me in the first place.
"I hope you can forgive your old man, after Han I couldn't blindly trust anyone," Nec said, his voice quivering when he called himself my old man.
"Alright, that's a good reason." I said and taking a deep breath, I asked, "Now then, how come you are from two thousand thirty-seven? That's four years later than me!"
Nec shook his head, "I am not sure, the people from later periods have an advantage though. Han is from a year later than me, he has one expansion advantage over me. Luckily, it wasn't a power creep one."
Tracing my chin, I thought out loud, "Then I am very behind, any cool things came out in that time?"
"Some things, mostly new zones and gear. There was a new legendary item too, Superi Lance, shame I haven't had the time to grind for it." Nec said, sighing with regret.
"I only have one legendary," I said, reaching into my bag of holding and pulling out Lux Divus.
"LD! I am actually jealous, I missed this event," Nec said, eyeing it, "May I?"
"Sure, it's soulbound though," I said, throwing him the shield and sword.
He excitedly caught it and poked the surface, his finger giving off a faint gray light, he kept nodding to himself and mumbling something in Oulic, I had a hard time understanding what he was saying. Finally, he carefully returned it and ruffled his own beard, deep in thought.
"What element do you have?" I asked, hiding LD back into my bag.
Startled, Nec replied, "None of course."
"What?" I asked in disbelief, "Then how are you the strongest Archmagus? I thought sorcerers can't fight!"
Nec chuckled and replied, "Because I am cheating, I just blast people with pure concentrated Essence."
"How?" I asked. This went against everything I was taught at the academy so far.
Nec shrugged and said, "We have the advantage of having references from our previous world, fiction gave me many ideas. Using some math, I devised spells of incredible piercing and crushing power. Having the strongest Essence in the world is an unfair advantage. "
"That's amazing!" I said, genuinely impressed. Suddenly, I recalled something, "There is something important I forgot to tell you. There is wakestone, well, pumping blood in my chest."
Nec frowned, "You died? I don't know how it works in this world. Stand up, with your back to me."
I nodded my head and stood up, Nec did the same and placed his palm on my back, over my whistling heart. Some kind of warmth spread from his fingers, it was pleasant and not invasive at all, meanwhile, Nec was muttering something.
He collapsed into his seat and said, "This is a blessing in a disaster, your body is saturated with magic, your Essence is thicker as well."
Pouting, I sat down and said, "I would rather have a normal beating heart, not this whistling thing."
Nec hesitated and said, "I think it's possible to make it work like a normal heart but it would be detrimental to your body. At the moment your blood is pumped in a continuous loop, it's much smoother than normal blood flow, and that's not mentioning the other benefits."
"Alright, if you say its better then I'll just get used to it," I said, sighing quietly.
His beard shaking, he said, "With time you should be able to ignore the sound it makes, the same way you do with the regular heart."
Nodding, I said, "Normally I don't really hear it anymore, only when it revs up."
He gave me an encouraging smile and changed the topic "Let's talk about your education, I think you should attend the lessons normally and we would have one full day of practice every week. Some trips every now and then as well."
"Oh, I was about to ask about that. I really want to have normal lessons," My face burning, I added, "It's kinda the first time I made some friends in school, I don't want to lose it."
"Of course! Not to mention, I am not exactly a battlemage, Orion will do much better at teaching you that. There is also that girlfriend of yours, how could I bear to take you away?" Nec said, winking at me.
Choking on air, I said, "She's not my girlfriend!"
Nec grinned and with another wink said, "All right, all right. Not your girlfriend."
I wanted to snap back at him but I stopped myself, laughing instead, my laugh still sounded weird as if I were choking and wheezing at the same time. Confused, Nec looked at me for a moment before joining me and laughing along.
Gasping for air, I said, "She really isn't. I've never had a talk like that before, it's too funny."
It really was, my previous father... I don't even remember how he looked like anymore, only his constant berating and disapproval. The current situation with Nec was a bit awkward, it just happened but I already felt he would be much better, not to mention how accepting he was.
I was sure that with time our relationship could get more genuine, at least I wanted it to be, especially now, I needed someone that could support me as a true father would. As for my previous life, it could go to hell for all I cared.
Nec was right, I was Marie now.
We spent the next few hours chatting about things we liked and those we didn't, Nec excitedly showed me his self constructed telescopes and a model of the solar system we were in. It only had five planets, all of them were small rocky types and there were no gas giants.
"I've made some calculations but with my current telescopes I cannot be sure if there aren't any more planets on a further orbit," Nec explained, letting me peek through one of them.
Somehow, it didn't matter that it was the middle of the day, I could still see the stars and even a grayish planet after Nec adjusted the telescope a bit. He excitedly showed me his diagrams and calculations, I couldn't understand a thing from them, it was all advanced physics.
I had to politely decline when he proposed teaching me about the subject, I didn't really have the drive.
"That's fine too, I won't force you to follow in my footsteps," He told me, patting me on the shoulder.
Shaking, I forcibly stopped my tears, this was all I ever wanted to hear my first father say, he never did, he only wanted me to become a doctor like he was. Nec gave me an encouraging smile and put the telescope away, telling me to put Ring of Tongue on.
The crow screeched and said, "Finally, what a scuffed language!"
"You are scuffed," Nec said to it and then asked me, "Do you want him? You can't exactly have regular pets in the academy but this is fine, the sorcerer students also have construct pets."
Puffing my cheeks and trying to sound natural, I said, "If you insist..."
In reality, I was really excited to receive a gift like this. My first gift from him.
Nec laughed and said to the crow, "There you go, aesthetical reasons or not. Have fun you tinbrain."
The crow snorted and pecked me on the ear before saying, "He never gave me a name so you better give me a regal one."
I caressed his metallic beak and after a moment of thought, I said, "Chopsticks, very nice isn't it?"
The crow shook his head and replied, "That's what happens when kids think up names. I accept it but I would have preferred something like His Excellency Crowmaton."
Grimacing I said to him, "That sounds stupid, Chopsticks is cute." I glanced at Nec and grinning, I said, "Thank you...Dad."
Nec's beard shook and he smiled back, "Don't worry about it," he said to me. Looking at Chopsticks, he said, "You know your job."
Chopsticks seriously nodded his little head, and affectionately pulled on my hair. Seeing this, Neck chuckled and snapping his fingers teleported us out of his office. It took me a moment to realize that I was in Awyn's office now, he was nowhere to be found, only Eina was sitting there, sipping on some steaming drink.
She almost spilled it everywhere when I appeared out of thin air, Chopsticks chirped and curiously scanned her from head to toes.
"Passable," He chirped to himself.
Frowning, I poked him and said, "She's pretty, what do you mean passable?"
"I have high standards, you pass them of course," Chopsticks seriously said, puffing out its metallic chest.
"Of course," I muttered and turned to Eina, "Sorry that it took so long."
Eina nervously stood up, she didn't know what to do with herself. "I wouldn't dare complain."
Sighing, I asked her, "What will you do now? Do you need money?"
She nervously shook her head, "I still have a lot, h-he always made sure I had enough to look rich even amongst other wealthy students."
"Alright, just ask me if you need some help," I said and wanted to add something but Awyn's voice cut me off.
"Ah Marie, let's talk about your punishment," He said.
My stomach twisting into a knot, I smiled wryly and looked over my arm and asked, "Principal, what do you mean?"
With a mysterious smile, Awyn replied, "You said you are willing to take the punishment, we decided that it's only fair for your little rule breaking."
Well played Papa, well played.
In the end, I would have to help Eina every day for two hours until her punishment was done. That wasn't exactly a slap on the wrist but I didn't complain, she probably needed some company now. With this decided, Awyn let us go and said that we had a day of rest.
Walking through the corridors, I asked Eina, "Do you want to meet with Lili now?"
Eina nervously shook her head, "I will later, first I need to deal with my retainers."
"Are you ditching them?" I curiously asked.
"Yes. The nobles too, you taught me something important and well..." She paused and blushing, she blurted out, "I want to be your friend. If you agree."
I poked her with my elbow and said with a smile, "Sure, just show me that pretty smile of yours."
She gave me a side eye and smiled, very wryly but it was good enough for me.
Chopsticks chirped and said, "That's a crooked smile if I've ever seen one."
We separated, Eina already ate when I was with Nec so she went to the dormitory, planning to deal with her 'friends'. As for me, I went to the canteen to eat and hopefully meet up with some people. Lili wasn't there but Tomas, Ciara and Aren were, there were four stars on Aren's shoulders now.
I dashed up to them and said to Aren, "Congratulations!"
He jumped up and exclaimed in a shaky voice, "Marie! I was so worried!"
He tried to grab me but I dodged while Chopstick shot him a derisive glance, chirping in annoyance. Seeing this, Aren awkwardly sat down, averting his gaze.
Tomas laughed and asked, "What's with the crow? Anyway, good that nothing happened to you. I bet Argent will get expelled."
Ciara added, "She better be, I've had enough of that bitch."
Clenching my teeth, I squeezed out, "She isn't going anywhere, we, well, made up."
All three of them looked at me as if I hit myself in the head.
Aren asked me, "I hope you are joking."
"I am not! She will apologize to everyone later," I explained, scratching Chopsticks beak.
It was smooth and metallic, really pleasant to touch.
Ciara grimaced and said to me, "As if that would be enough, didn't ya have a few fights?"
Sighing, I said, "I am not asking you to be friends, just don't be too hard on her."
Tomas coughed awkwardly and said to me, "Marie, this is the same person who bullied people for two years. You don't seriously expect us to just forgive her?"
"You don't understand," I said, repeating Eina's words to them, "She had a lot of problems, and her father disowned her."
Aren laughed and said, "Serves her right! Now she has no status, right? Oh, I am going to-"
I cut him off, and angrily said, "Try bullying her and you can forget about talking to me ever again!"
Without waiting for his response, I stormed off to the buffet. I should have known this wouldn't be so easy. Oh Eina, this is going to be harder on you than I anticipated.