The book about arcane enchantments turned out to be very hard to understand, just as Ciara had told me. At that time, I haven't yet found anything about the mirror world but that was because I got distracted by something else; the other book which was just about arcane in general.
Having found my own transformation of 'life' within, I couldn't just ignore it and not read it first. The thing that took my breath away was the fact that healing and life weren't the same, it was called 'life' transformation for a reason.
It could be used for healing but not in the same matter as arcane healing would be, it simply worked on a completely different basis. While arcane healing used Essence of the caster to magically heal the target, arcane life simply poured more 'life' into the cells, reinvigorating them and speeding up the natural healing process, even allowing for a perfect recovery.
Why did that difference matter?
Because it used up the target's lifespan, there was only a limited amount of times the cells could divide, arcane healing ignored that limit because it just reverted the damage using the caster's Essence, arcane life transformed the caster's Essence into a life boosting energy instead.
A cold sweat broke out on my back when I realized what could have happened to Aren, thank god it was only an insignificant amount in the grand scheme of things. People in this world lived much longer thanks to the Vitality stat, even Ciara's was at ten which meant that she aged ten times slower after reaching her prime years, at least that's what Nec told me.
This was also the reason why he didn't age at all in these sixty years.
Powerful Mages and Contemporaries (which I had finally learned from Nec was a shortcut for 'contemporary heroes') often lived hundreds of years despite the world having a recorded history of only three to five thousand years, and that was including semi-legendary events that didn't have a proper place in the timeline.
There was a lot I didn't know, I had to wait for Nec to return to ask him some questions.
And that's what I did, waiting while having some infirmary fun with Eina and spending every evening with her. At some point, Lili brought over some games and after a lot of persuading, Jon allowed for more people to visit at the same time so we could have some proper games.
During that time I managed to convince Awyn to take me to Miss Sado, to order a dress for the ball of course. She was overworked but instantly threw everything aside when I walked in, helping me choose a color and other details.
"Your partner is taller than you?" She asked me, pursing her lips at my pained posture.
"Yes," I replied, raising my hand to what I eyeballed to be Eina's height, "About this tall."
Miss Sado smacked her lips in approval and said, "That's good enough difference. What about this; violet color, fitting but not revealing, with wavy folds and a low cut to show off your great calves and allow you to move."
"I don't like violet too much, what about something brighter... Like lavender?" I asked, tapping my chin while thinking.
"Alternatively we can use silver, same as your eyes," She proposed, not too happy with my proposition.
Shaking my head, I replied, "I know my partner will be in silver, we can't wear the same color."
Frowning, she asked me, "He is wearing silver? I don't remember anyone ordering a silver suit in years."
"She is wearing a silver dress, yes," I replied, squinting my eyes from annoyance.
The outrage in Miss Sado's eyes was as bright as day, she was on the verge of an outburst but thought better of it and pursed her lips, most likely after remembering who I was.
"Lavender it is then," She squeezed out, putting on a fake smile.
I returned the gesture, as bad as hers, and added, "I would like it to have a tall fitting collar and no cleavage, I am bandaged all over, I don't want it to be visible."
"Fine, I will add long sleeves to fit that collar then. Don't worry about the rest," She said, and suddenly asked, "Eina Argent?"
Freezing, I replied, "What about her?"
"Nothing," Miss Sado replied, pressing her eyebrows together.
The twinkle in her eye confirmed my suspicions, she must have realized when I revealed the color.
"How much do I pay?" I asked her, reaching for my bag.
"Nothing, of course. I will make sure to make your dress first. A pair of soft flat heel slippers free of charge," Miss Sado said, waving me away.
"I see, thank you, Miss Sado," I said to her, teleporting back to the infirmary, on Awyn's courtesy of course.
The days flew by, Awyn and the teachers were kind enough to not update me on Reymon's status, all I knew was that there was no progress yet. Finally, the day we all had anticipated arrived, Nec returned but his timing was... Awkward to say the least.
Giggling, I pulled Eina in for a kiss, my hand reaching around for her supreme behind, she giggled but didn't stop my greedy hand. This was when Nec decided to storm in, angrily jumping through the curtain and freezing when he saw us. My heart almost stopping, mine and Eina's lips separated with a smack, the panic in her eyes was like that of a cornered animal.
Slack-jawed, Nec mumbled some excuse and jumped behind the curtain, pulling it closed.
"He saw us!" Eina squeaked, her face changing color to pure scarlet, not dissimilar in color to Chopsticks core.
Unexpectedly, I too felt embarrassed, coughing awkwardly, I squeezed out, "It's fine. He won't make it awkward. I hope."
"Does he know your preferences?" Eina asked me, nervously looking at the curtain as if Nec was going to jump in again.
"Yes, and he is supportive," I said, caressing her burning cheeks.
"I-I am going to run for it," She said to me, smooching my forehead and dashing out of the infirmary at top speed.
After a moment, Nec's face craned from behind the curtains. A wry smile on his face, he asked, "Can I come in now?"
Rolling my eyes and puffing my cheeks, I ostentatiously invited him in.
Awkwardly rubbing his nose, he asked in a low voice, "Not your girlfriend, eh?"
"Now she is," I replied in a victorious tone, raising my eyebrow.
He grinned but then remembered that he came in angry, he then snapped at me, "What were you thinking?!"
"I had my reasons," I replied, crossing my arms and grimacing from the pain.
Taking a deep breath, Nec asked again, this time in a calmer tone, "What reasons exactly?"
"Well, as your daughter I had to take some responsibility for the academy. No other girl could have suffered that fate so I abused my authority and made the teachers follow through with the plan, " I squeezed out in a single breath, watching Nec's facial expression change to pride, anger and worry, sometimes all of them at the same time.
"And suffer the same fate?" He asked in a trembling voice, indescribable emotion on his face.
"Nothing happened to me," I replied, averting my gaze.
This possibility wasn't something that I wanted to think about.
"My heart almost stopped when Awyn told me what happened," Nec revealed, heaving a few calming breaths.
Struggling up from the bed, I said, "I am sorry but I had to do it."
He shook his head and said, "The teachers won't listen to you anymore, I will specifically instruct them not to."
All I did was guiltily nod my head, it was only fair.
Nec's beard shook, he wanted to give me a hug but stopped himself when he remembered I was hurt.
Of course, this was the reason I stood up in the first place, I don't miss out on fatherly hugs, not this time around. I stayed in his fatherly embrace for a while, Nec told me off during that time, not too harshly but when he told me how many horrible thoughts were flashing through his head when Awyn was describing to him what happened; I started to feel incredibly guilty.
In the end, he said, "I am proud of you but you can't risk like that anymore. First Thunder and now this. You are going to kill your old man with a heart attack before he had the chance to raise you."
Laughing, I pulled away and plopped onto the bed, sucking in air and grabbing my aching rib.
Nec worriedly asked me, "Do you need anything?"
"Painkillers for the ball, please?" I asked him, puppy-eyed.
He shook his head and replied, "I can't give you any. Every drug in this world is based on alchemy, not our science. Even our potions are affected by this world's laws, there is nothing I can do without finding an arcane healer."
"Worth asking, at least I have three dances," I sighed, climbing back into the sheets and resting on the pillow.
"Speaking of which, you are going with that girl?" Nec asked with a grin.
"Obviously," I replied with a pout and snappily added, "It's Eina not 'that girl'."
"Eina, of course. I bet you will look great together, even if you can barely move," He laughed, a sparkle in his eyes.
"Thanks," I gruffed.
Still flashing his teeth, he asked me, "Would you spare your old man a single dance?"
"At the ball? Of course!" I replied, excited about this idea.
"I am not the best dancer but there is enough time until tomorrow, I will do my best to practice," He replied, heaving a sigh of relief as if he was afraid that I would deny such a fun request. He then asked me, "What do people think about you having a girlfriend? Congratulations by the way."
"Thanks, and, uh, she is too shy to make it public. The ball is a test run I guess," I replied, sourly.
Frowning, Nec said, "This is a pretty dramatic event for a test run."
"Yeah but we agreed to go together before, well, we got together," I explained, massaging the bridge of my nose. Then I added a question, "What should I do?"
"Teenagers," Nec murmured, looking confused. He sighed and worriedly said, "You shouldn't push on her, let it happen over time. She has no family, only you."
Feeling down, I said to him, "It feels like she is ashamed of me, I won't force her but it really hurts."
He caressed my head and emotionally said, "Marie, she must feel the same."
"You think so?" I quietly asked.
"Yes. Remember, this is not our old world, same-sex pairs are frowned upon by most societies. Only in the Republic of Lespa is the situation different and only if the relationships are not permanent," Nec replied and sighed when he saw an angry frown form on my face. He said, "Remember, our society had much more time to develop and was relatively safe in our era. This world is different, its very dangerous and has a shorter history than ours. They simply didn't get to that point yet."
Fixing my eyes on the pillow, I grabbed his hand and muttered, "I just want to show off my amazing girlfriend."
His hand trembled and he gently squeezed my bandaged fingers, he quietly said, "I am sure you will have the chance. No one in the academy would dare to openly tell you their thoughts about this."
"But what about Eina? She has lessons without me," I squeezed out, worried about her.
Sighing, Nec replied, "I don't know sweety, you need to steel your heart if you are serious about this relationship."
"I am!" I said, carefully propping myself up and looking him in the eyes.
"Then I wish you two the best, make sure to tell her that I am happy that you found each other," Nec said to me with a smile, a doting expression on his face.
"Thanks, dad," I murmured, feeling better and dropping back onto the pillow. Remembering something, I asked, "Why were you gone for so long? I missed you picking me up after the lessons."
Taken aback, he smiled but then grew serious and replied, "Some big things happened."
Raising my eyebrow, I asked, "Big things?"
"I will tell you after the ball," He replied, his tone not leaving me a room to wriggle in another question about it.
Because of this, I changed the topic and nervously asked him, "What about that Reymon guy?"
"I will pay him a visit," Nec said emotionlessly, this was even scarier than when he shouted, it was as if all of his 'good papa' vibes disappeared completely.
Taking a deep breath, I reminded him, "Don't kill him yet, we need to learn how he got the mirror."
"Awyn told me everything, he is holding up well under their... Methods," Nec said, scratching his beard.
"I suggested waterboarding but it didn't work," I said, pouting in dissatisfaction.
Raising his eyebrows, Nec said to me, "That's because you explained it wrong, you just almost drowned him a few times."
"Oh," I exclaimed, feeling stupid.
"I have ways to make him speak, better ones than the boys," Nec said, a dangerous glint in his eyes.
This wasn't something that I wanted to know in detail, I said, "Will you tell me when you get the answers?"
"Most likely," Nec replied, nodding his head.
"Oh, why didn't you explain to me how life transformation works like before?" I asked, pointing at the drawer.
Pressing his brows together, he opened the drawer and Chopsticks flew out of it, freezing when he saw Nec.
"You stupid bird! I should dismantle you for leaving her alone!" Nec berated him, forgetting about my question.
"S-she ordered me, boss!" Chopsticks said and nervously chirped, clicking his beak and quietly adding, "I wouldn't be aesthetic dismantled."
Frowning, I said to Nec, "Leave him alone, he is doing a great job!"
Taking a deep breath, Nec shook his head and decided to forget about it. He asked me, "Why was he in the drawer?"
Chopsticks answered before I could, he said, "Because she doesn't like when I look at them making out! Every day, they smooch for hours while I sit in the darkness!"
Slack-jawed, I grabbed the closest thing laying next to me, the pillow, and threw it at him, cursing at my rib and weak fingers. The pillow narrowly missed him because it slipped from my grasp, it flopped against the curtain and onto the floor.
Laughing, Nec winked at me and said, "Good call on keeping him in the drawer."
"No comment," I said, my face burning. I asked again, "What about the life transformation? Look at the books."
He picked up the first book, handing me the pillow back in the meanwhile. Chopsticks jumped back up onto the drawer after his narrow dodge, not daring to run his beak any longer. Nec opened the bookmarked pages and after a few seconds of reading, heaved a sigh.
He asked me, "You tried to heal that boy, is that correct?"
"Yes, luckily I couldn't do much," I said, grimacing.
"The reason why I didn't explain too much is that you are way too inexperienced at the moment," Nec said, closing the book and continuing, "Arcane transformations are not the same as regular transformations."
Nodding my head, I said, "I know, you already told me that they don't affect the element like regular ones."
"Exactly, your light has the properties of a pure light element until you actively pour life infused Essence in. For now, focus on mastering just the light," Nec sternly said, indicating that this was a serious instruction.
"I understand," I said, glancing at the books.
"I won't take this book away but don't get any funny ideas from it," He said to me, throwing the book back into the drawer. Smiling, he said, "You should rest, it's already late and you need to be in your best shape tomorrow."
"Okay," I muttered absentmindedly, worrying about the ball.
He hesitated for a moment before leaning in and kissing my head, "Goodnight."
"You too," I replied, grinning into the pillow.
Nec chuckled and standing up muttered, "I wish. A certain prince is waiting for me."
He must have teleported away because I didn't hear him leave, not that I wanted to check. Humoring myself with the thought that he was watching over me, I fell asleep.