Getting to the campus wasn’t that easy. Especially since we had to actually get through the gates - which turned out to be quite difficult while a dragon flew around. But after some talking, they did open the gates so we could pass - probably in hopes that I would do my hero’s magic against the dragon. All I told them not to worry about it, and that the dragon was actually an ally.
I don't believe they believed me.
We also took out one of the guards who acted suspiciously and didn’t really want to cooperate. They were probably panicking about the fact that I was there. So we told them that he was probably controlled by some kind of magic and that we need to deliver an important message to the king. I also ordered them to keep the gate open, so people could escape. I even encouraged them to tell people to escape.
Of course, we didn't go towards the king, but towards the campus, hoping that it was filled with all the students. But as we reached the campus, it was empty and quiet. Or at least so it seemed.
“Damn all the demons,” I swore, sighing. “Of course they're gone,” I said
“How? Where? The gates were closed?” Alice responded.
As I was about to respond, I noticed one of the students rushing towards the campus, arms full of books. “Eh? Hero! You finally made it!” They said.
I raised my eyebrow. “Where’s everyone?”
“In the library. Follow me!” We casually took some of their books, following.
As we reached the library’s doors, we heard noise coming from inside, mostly talks. We entered the reception room, which was empty, and then followed the student to the main reading hall.
The room was filled with students, all of them either going through books or searching for something. In front of us was a large table, also filled with books, Aurora standing behind it, looking up at us.
“Hey! You made it! Give me all the books!” All of us placed the books on the table. Aurora immediately took the books, read the title, and rerouted them to someone else. All I could think of was Loid. I had to tell her. She needed to know. Just like I had told Arryn.
Alice placed a hand gently on my shoulder, stepping in front of me. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“We are researching information about shadow demons and Valgrathan. Also about controlling people and how to deal with it,” she explained, looking at us. We just stared at her, speechless. “What?”
“I… How do you know about Valgrathan?” I muttered, dazed.
“Oh, that’s because I told them!” a voice reached us from behind, as someone entered the hall. I turned around, looking at Loid, standing there casually, arms filled with books of his own.
“Loid…?” I said, frozen in place. Alice was taken aback, likewise. “You’re… alive?” Tears began to run down at the edge of my eyes. Loid tilted his head slightly. And then he understood what was going on.
“Oh. Right. I-”
I took a few fast steps forward and hugged him, letting all the books fall down on the floor. “Fuck you. I don’t understand, but that was bad for my heart!”
Loid chuckled, hugging me back.
Aurora smiled and walked around the table, collecting the books. “I don’t fully understand, but I’ll get them. I feel you two need a moment," she said.
“Thanks, Aurora!” He nudged his head towards the entrance. All three of us walked outside, watching the dragon flying around. “I’m sorry. This must be super confusing to you," Loid said after a short silence.
“No shit,” I said. Even Alice had her arms crossed.
“Well, there’s a very good explanation for this. But I’ll give you a short version. We don't know how much time we have.”
“To be fair, I'm surprised he still hasn't taken any action,” I said.
"And I'm scared of why he's not taking an action yet," Loid murmured.
"So?" Alice said.
“Well, after I discovered two of my powers, I also found my conduit, quite immediately."
I stared at him. "Okay?"
“Surprisingly, it’s me,” Loid said, spreading his arms wide apart, making a wide smiling face.
“Really?” Alice asked.
“I’m shocked as well. But I’m not dumb. I know that I’m a slightly lazy self-centered dummy. I’m working on it, alright? So, I started experimenting with my power,” Loid continued, letting his arms fall down. “During this month, after discovering my conduit, I haven’t participated in any of the classes, not even once,” he confessed.
“What?” Alice said. “I’ve seen you in every single class, I've been at, though.”
“Yeah. All of these have been my copies. Every single one of them. Meanwhile, I’ve been at home, sleeping, or screwing around, or reading a book, or, well, let's just say many things.”
We both stared at Loid, mouth slightly thin-lined. Loid began to grin. “I never intended to tell anyone about it, but it’s out now, I guess? So either way, apparently my clones are exact me. That means they can cast spells depending on how much essence I give to my clone. They have my personality. And they have independent thinking. However, they will obey every command I give them, and they will do their best of ability.”
I sighed. “And your magical essence pool is stupidly large,” I muttered.
“Yeah. So, the clone you were with was actually my experiment. I made a clone, gave him almost all of my essence, and told him to be me, with a few usual conditions, one being not telling anyone about my powers. This is why my clone couldn’t tell you anything, besides asking to trust him.”
Alice got slightly excited. “And when your clone dies, you receive the clone’s memories?” she said a bit hurriedly.
“Exactly,” Loid nodded. “So, while my original body was back in here, researching about pointless stuff, I suddenly told everyone to research about shadow demons and Valgrathan.”
"When did you create your clone?" I asked, scratching my chin.
"A few days ago. But I was immediately out for almost as long. And I still haven't fully recovered."
I frowned. To be fair, his power was so cool that I wished I had it myself. If Loid wanted, he could actually become insanely good. “Hey, don’t you want to take my job?” I said jokingly.
“Nah,” Loid said, shaking his head. “I’d never want to become a hero. Too much stress, too much responsibility. Plus, it’s probably going to be my clones that are going to do adventuring. Sounds so much safer.”
Alice and I stared at Loid. “I know this is right and fair, but fuck you, Loid,” I said it out. I was risking my life for everything, and he could do all of that. Life was so unfair.
“Okay, here’s a real question though,” Alice suddenly said, looking at him with squinted eyes.
“Yes?” Loid answered slowly.
“Are you right now a copy or a real deal?”
We all just stared at each other for a moment. A few seconds passed and we began to laugh. “I’m original. But I do have a few copies running around, collecting books,” Loid said, nodding.
“I’m glad. For a moment, I thought I had lost another one,” I said, giving a strong pat on Loid's shoulder.
Loid began to laugh. “Please. If I was the original in that situation in the sewers, I would never do anything like that. I love my life, alright?” He began to walk towards the entrance to the library, we followed. “Either way, let’s gather the information that we have, alright? I think we need to get every bit of information we can before we run out of time,” Loid said, looking at the dragon one last time. I was proud of Loid, taking command of the situation. "That’s Aldrynte, isn’t it?”
I looked at him. “You’re quite smart, aren’t you?”
“It wasn’t that hard to figure out, knowing that we let only her escape first. Don’t worry, I didn’t tell the others.”
I suddenly stopped. “How many copies of yourself can you make that are functional for a night?” I asked.
Loid stopped. “It’s easier if you tell me how many.”
“Twenty-five,” I said.
“Can be done. Why?”
“Tell them to go all the wall gates and check out the guards who are not letting people through, or are blocking. They need to be dealt with. They are most likely under Qildor’s control. Once that’s done, they should run through the lower city and help anyone they can.”
“That’s an easy thing to do,” Loid said. “But that’s as much as I can do too. Any more, and I’ll be quite useless for later,” he said.
I nodded. “Wait here, with all of the copies,” I said, rushing inside. I searched for a paper and quill, writing two letters. As they were done, I placed them inside separate envelopes, finally sealing them with the hero’s badge. I rushed back outside, watching an army of twenty-five Loids standing in front of us. “This is a letter to provide proof that your copies are coming with my authority. Make a copy of that letter to each… Loid.” That was a weird thing to say.
“Easy thing to do,” the original Loid said.
“And one of you, deliver this letter to the King. It gives basic information about what's going on.”
We gave a letter to each Loid, as all of them began to run in a different direction. Funnily enough, all of them whined as they left.
"Original, let me tell you this much that this is something you'd never do yourself!" the final one said as he began to run away.
"I would if it was really necessary," he half lied. “Sorry about that. I used to talk with them a lot, helping me understand some of the bad quirks I have. Either way, let's go,” Loid said.
We turned around and began to walk back to the library hall, to put together the information we could.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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