"Are you okay?! Did something happen? Can I do something for you?" His hands on my shoulders; Nec bombarded me with questions, looking genuinely worried.
Raising my hands to calm him down, I replied, "Yes. Yes. Yes." I stole a glance at Lili and added, "Nothing happened to me, but..."
Turning to look at Lili, Nec asked, "Lili? Something happened to you?"
Abashed, Lili replied, "No, Sir. Not to me."
"We will talk about it later," I said to Nec. When he heaved a sigh, I continued: "I had an idea for a spell, but it kinda doesn't work."
"Wait," Nec raised his hand, looking around the arbor as if he just realized where haws. "You got out of the infirmary already? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Uh. Didn't think about it. Sorry," I apologized, winking at him. "Also, how did you not realize where you are? You teleported here!"
"The foundation beneath the island is locked onto you at all times. I only followed it," Cracking a smile, he shook his head and said, "Please elaborate on that spell of yours."
I explained the light umbrella fiasco and my idea about walking in the air. Nec had a mysterious smile all the way through my explanation. Meanwhile, Lili awkwardly stood to the side, not so discreetly gawking at him. To say that I felt weird would be an understatement.
"So, if you could give me some tips that would be great," I said in the end.
"Solidifying Essence within the summoned element is a really high-level technique. It's usually taught after you reach eight stars and one of them has to be Master Spell Weaving," Nec seriously said, stroking his beard. "There is a lot of theory and practice that goes into it."
"So I'm too bad to even attempt it," I said with a sigh.
"How's your meditation practice going?" He asked me.
"I got the hang of the visualization part, but that's about it," I replied, feeling my ears getting hotter. My improvements were definitely poor by his standards.
Contrary to my expectations, he smiled and ruffled my hair, "You're doing great! I've prepared some great spots for our Sunday trip. I'm sure you will get inspired!"
"I will do my best!" I excitedly said.
"Trips must be nice," Lili meekly said from the side.
Looking at her, I said, "Last time I was crawling through a dungeon full of undead. It was questionable."
"Oh. Never mind then," She replied, giving us a weird look.
"This time it won't be as disastrous, I swear!" Nec said to me, his lips curling into an apologetic smile.
Returning a smug smile, I raised my hand and stuck out my pinky. Catching on, he shook it with his. "Alright, no breaking the pinky promise," I said.
"Absolutely," He replied.
"Anyway, since I can't make the spell I wanted... Could you help Lili out a bit? She is almost ready for Beginner Spell Weaving," I said, hoping that he wouldn't mind it.
"No problem sweety," He said and turned to Lili, "Why don't you show me what you can do right now, Lili?"
"Y-yes, sir!" She stammered, trying to get a hold of herself.
Amused, I sat to the side and paid attention to what Nec was telling her. It never hurt to listen to him, even if he was explaining something I personally didn't have trouble with. Lili's stats were lower, as expected of a regular person, and she needed to focus way harder than me to achieve the same result.
At some point, Nec left the enlightened Lili to let her practice and approached me. He squatted next to me and asked, "Can you tell me what happened?"
I could see Lili shooting a scared glance in my direction, but I signaled her to not worry before looking at Nec again. Taking a deep breath, I replied, "Eina was crying and Miss Sado and her students are involved, but I don't know the details." Seeing the frown forming on his face, I added, "I didn't want to deal with it myself because I get too emotional. Could you look into it, please?"
"That's a very mature reaction," He said with a wink, meaning of which only I understood. It was weird because I quite definitely was a bratty teen, even if I was originally older than fifteen. There wasn't much that I could do other than trying to grow up again. And that's assuming I was a mature person in the first place.
"Ehm, yes," I replied, awkwardly.
"Is that pride I'm feeling?" He asked with a smile but quickly grew serious. He said, "I will look into this for sure. Where is she now?"
"Thanks. And I don't know. She doesn't even know yet that I'm aware of it so don't tell her. I will do it myself," I said to him.
"Please, don't tell her at all," Lili squeaked from the side.
"I have to! And you better focus on that water stream of yours, you're splashing it all over the place," I said to her, puffing my cheeks.
Her lips pursed, she snapped a reply, "It's wet from the rain anyway." At the same time, the stream of water she was carefully managing exploded thanks to her lack of focus.
Stealing a glance at her, Nec smiled and said, "You won't get the star like this, dear. You need to let the Essence flow through you freely even as you speak."
"Y-yes, sir!" She replied with a blush, trying to summon up more water.
We stayed together for some more time. I had to put on the jackets because it was getting chilly while Lili practiced her own thing. Soon, I joined in and practiced my own spells under Nec's watchful gaze. At least, that's what we did until he checked the time and gave me a funny look.
"Eina should be free by now, why don't you go and meet her?" Nec proposed.
Dissipating a rather shaky looking light construct, I nodded my head and replied, "I'm definitely going right now! What about you, Lili?"
"C-can we practice some more?" She asked, her gaze alternating between me and Nec.
"I have some time so why not?" Nec replied with a smile.
"I'll stay here as well. Have fun," Chopsticks said to me. He was sitting on a support beam under the ceiling, imperiously watching us since... Well, I haven't noticed when he came back since he didn't talk to us at all.
"Alright, see you!" I said, waving to them and dashing off.
Nec most likely stayed behind to give me and Eina some privacy, a true power move on his part. The thought of leaving the enamored Lili alone with him was hilarious, but I knew nothing outrageous would happen.
Smirking at the headache that Nec had to deal with, I quickly made my way to the dormitory and practically passed through it in an instant. I threw myself into the room and instantly smashed the doors closed behind me. Eina wasn't there for sure. Even her boots were missing.
I made sure that she wasn't in the bathroom and then dashed away again, this time towards the infirmary. The rain couldn't stop me, even if it was slippery. On top of that, the water was getting into my slippers as they only wrapped around my toes and the heel. At least I didn't have any socks on so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Crashing into the infirmary, I asked a nurse I saw sometimes when I was lying there. "Was there a girl with long platinum hair there? The one that visited me every day?"
"She just left. You must have missed her," She replied, looking at me in a funny way.
Sweeping my wet and disarrayed hair back, I thanked her and dashed off while wondering which path Eina took. After hurriedly pondering over it, I choose a different one than I came from and headed to the canteen. Weird looks and raised eyebrows were all I found there.
Soaked and disappointed, I decided to just wait for her in our room. Ignoring the weird looks I received in the dormitory as I climbed the stairs, I squeezed the water out of my hair and hoped that Eina would be there soon.
Absentmindedly walking into the room, I threw the wet slippers onto the windowsill and started changing into dry clothes. The doors croaked when I was fighting with the shirt sticking to my back. My heart revved up from excitement, I turned around and smiled. There she was, in all her glory.
Eina's jacket was wet but unlike me, she thought about using the hood to somewhat protect herself from the rain. And she probably didn't run in the open as I did.
"What are you doing?" She snorted a laugh.
Only then did I realize the weird pose I had. "Why don't you help me take it off?" I asked with a grin.
She pursed her lips and closed the doors before approaching me. With her help, all of my clothes, save for the underwear, landed on the ground. Eina's face was getting rather red as she said, "You're completely soaked. It got see-through."
Looking down, I felt my ears getting hotter as I replied, "Well, you've seen me anyway."
Smiling to herself, she turned around and hung the soaked jacket on a wooden hanger we had in the corner. She asked me, "How did you get so wet? Lili soaked you?"
"Nope. I was looking for you, but my timing was really off so I gave up. I literally came back right now," I replied, throwing myself onto the bed and stretching.
She gave me a rather intense look before sitting on the bed and grabbing my hand. She asked, "Where's Lili now?"
"We were practicing. My dad's coaching her right now," I replied and pulled on her arm.
Giggling she fell onto me and climbed into the bed, smooching my cheek and snuggling in. This was hard when my rib was broken, mostly because of the pain I was feeling at the time. "You should get some clothes on," She quietly said.
"Or you some off," I joked, pinching her side.
"Just teasing you, babe," I laughed and freed myself. I threw on some fresh pants and a shirt that I lazily buttoned up, rolling the sleeves up. "Too bad the weather is so ass. We could have gone on a romantic stroll around the island or something," I said to Eina before tackling her into the bed.
She ran her fingers through my hair and said, "You should comb them soon. Long hair needs a lot of attention."
"Will do," I said, closing my eyes and listening in on her breathing. It was rather calm, even if her heartbeat was somewhat quicker than usual. I heaved a sigh and said, "I know something happened."
Her heart jumped. I could hear it clearly with my enhanced senses. Slightly stiffening up, Eina asked, "What happened?"
Supporting myself on my elbow, I looked her in the eyes and seriously asked, "What did they do?"
A trace of panic flashed through her face, but she frowned. She scoffed and said, "Lili told you? What a rat."
"Nothing happened," She snapped.
Rolling my eyes, I dropped onto her and sighed. Hugging her, I said, "I won't do anything stupid. I mentioned it to dad and he will discreetly investigate it."
She squeezed my arm and also sighed. "I had a bad day then. That's all," she said in an attempt to get me off the case. As if that would work.
"Babe, I adore you, but sometimes you're a headache," I said with a frown. "You may think you're the top, but that doesn't mean I'm useless in this relationship. Let me be the support once, huh?"
She snorted at me and said, "You literally called me your lanky bitch once."
"Hey, you thought it was funny," I laughed.
"When are you starting your special training with General?" She asked, changing the topic. I could tell she was forcing herself not to laugh.
"Ah, I actually don't know. Maybe next week," I replied. Of course, Eina was aware of some things, but not too many. She didn't know the details, I only told her that it was a part of a deal I made with Nec.
"Don't overwork yourself or you won't get taller," Eina said, pretending to be serious.
"I'm fun-sized. Also, I literally won't grow more than a few centimeters in the next decade or so," I said, poking her in the ribs.
This was the con of having high Vitality early in life. Usually, it would gradually increase as long as the person trained and got older. Only the peasants had their stats below three, mostly due to unhealthy lifestyles and lack of knowledge.
If my stats were returned to their original value of one hundred, I would be stuck in a teenage-like body for most of my life. That aspect of the Vitality stat kicked in around sixteen or seventeen years of age. Unless I had a growth spurt in the next two years, I would be stuck looking like I was now for dozens of years.
Thinking of this, I read Eina's stats. They were close to mine, with the Physical ones around seven and the Magical ones actually higher at thirteen and above.
"Yes, you're fun-sized," She laughed, poking my nose. "Also, you shouldn't worry about not growing more. You're beautiful as you are."
"Obviously. How else would I be a ten?" I laughed squeezing myself into her chest. Yes, heaven could be found on earth sometimes.
"You little runt," Eina squeaked, pinching my side and making me jump. "You're just jealous because mine are larger."
"That's only in relation to your figure. I'm built like a pretty neighborhood girl while you're a temptress," I said, my finger doing circles on her stomach.
"Another weird comparison from your homeland," She murmured. In a quiet voice, she added, "My figure doesn't matter anyway."
"But you're happy with it?" I asked.
"Good, that's a step in the right direction," I said, heaving a sigh of relief that she didn't try to self depreciate herself again.
"It's hard to think otherwise when a little demon keeps throwing compliments at me all the time," She said to me.
"Because you're the cutest and the smartest girl on the island," I said, pecking her on the cheek. Under my breath, I added, "Except me of course."
"I might start to believe that," She said, looking me in the eyes. I loved the intense azure eyes she had on that pretty face of hers. Definitely one of a kind.
"Please don't be angry with Lili. I pressured her into talking," I suddenly said.
"I know. But really, it wasn't as bad as you think it was," She seriously said to me. "I sometimes have to let it out. I just forgot to lock the doors."
I didn't completely believe her yet. Instead, I caressed her hair and said, "Happens to me too. My dad saw me having a meltdown recently. He's super jumpy now, trying to make sure I have everything I need at all times."
"You have a great father. What about me?" She asked, her gaze vacant.
Realizing that I said something I shouldn't have, I climbed onto her and looked her in the eyes. "You have me."
Eina was about to reply when the doors creaked. Our heads moved at the same time, just in time to see Lili staring at us. She raised her eyebrows, shook her head and walked out. "Close the doors next time," She said on the way out.
"That was awkward," I said, getting off Eina.
"No comment," she added.