That weekend I was heading towards the cafeteria for the study group that Liang had organized. I'd met Raul at the boys' dorms, so we were currently walking together.
"I'm glad that someone in our class took the initiative and gathered a study group like this," Raul said with an embarrassed smile. "I've never been that good at those things myself."
I shook my head. "I'm starting to get the feeling that this study group will just turn out to be a tutoring session for me."
"Huh? Why's that?"
"Because Liang and Kay basically said the same thing," I said and let out an exaggerated sigh. "I thought this was supposed to be an academy for the most elite of the elites. How come you're all already having trouble with the theoretical parts? I've been able to learn most of it." Of course, the Authority of Hope's assistance made it easier for me to learn, but I was still doing decently without it.
"The most elite of elites amongst heroes." He pointed out. "If you ask me, all we have to know is how to fight. The reason guilds exist is to help us gather information, come up with strategies, and take care of all the annoying things." He laughed and patted me on the back a bit too roughly a few times. "Besides, it's because you're smarter than me that Liang invited you, right?"
I tried shaking my head and looking away to cover the small smile that formed at the tips of my mouth. Ever since Raul first approached me a few days ago, we'd met talk several times on the way to and back from lessons. I was starting to take a liking to him. His cheerfulness was invigorating. None of the relationships I'd had during these past years had been this humor-filled or lighthearted. Everything was always so serious, and we didn't have any time to act like that. We were always too busy trying to survive to joke around.
But there was still a part of me that felt like what I was doing now was a betrayal of Ken and the others who I'd known. Was I allowed to leave all that behind me this easily and make friends with the first people that acted nicely to me?
Whilst I did feel like that, I ignored it and kept conversing with Raul. I convinced myself that this is what Ken would have wanted. He wouldn't have sacrificed himself like that just for me to act all depressed and be stuck in the past. I had to face forward towards the future.
When we arrived at the cafeteria, we spotted Liang, who had already pushed a few tables together and was sitting down with a few others. The cafeteria itself consisted of a large room filled with stools, tables, and comfortable looking couches. Liang and the others were currently sitting at the corner of the second floor, and Raul and I hurried up the stairs to meet them.
When we got closer, I looked over the other people that Liang had invited. Kay was sitting with her head on the table, which was filled with text and notebooks, not giving a single care about the surroundings. I was surprised to see Abigail Gallagher sitting next to her. Opposite of Abigail was Jean Bradford, who was currently in the middle of a conversation with Abigail. From the sounds of it, they were talking about what it was like having Tanju Shar as an instructor.
For the record, I'd looked up more facts about Tanju Shar and other high-ranked heroes in general. Tanju Shar 'The Great' was her nickname. At rank seventeen, she was a world-famous champion-ranked hero that was considered one of the best archers in the world. Her nickname came from the fact that her bow had belonged to Alexander the Great a couple thousand years ago, and it was a powerful relic that she'd found in a tower in her youth. The fact that she became an instructor only because of Abigail showed how important her grandfather was. In this world, being related to a legend practically meant that you were nobility.
Also sitting at the table was Alima. So she decided to come after all. Wonder what changed her mind?
Liang got up from her seat and greeted us. "Great, you came! Now, we've got two brainy people to solve all our problems for us!" She announced and turned to Jean. "I'm disappointed though that Mr. Top Scorer over here apparently can't help much in that department."
He looked up at her with a hurt smile. "Hey, I never said that I was bad at studying. I'm just not super good at it either."
"But you're the top scorer! How can you not be good at studying!? What kind of results did you even get on the physical exam to make up for that!?" Liang exclaimed. She shook her head and looked back at me with a greedy smile. "But at least we've got you and Abigail to make up for it. I tried convincing that princess, too, but she preferred studying on her own."
"...I know I agreed to join this study group, but you know I won't do all your work for you, right?"
"Let's get started!" Liang urged for Raul and me to take a seat, and I sat down next to Jean without any further discussion.
"Hey Kim, Abigail told me that you had a late Awakening and gained a specialized Talent. Is that true?" Jean asked me. Abigail was looking at me curiously from over the tale
"Really? You never told me that!" Liang exclaimed in surprise after Jean's question. Even Kay raised her head to look at me with slightly interested eyes.
"Yeah, it's true." I nodded my head as I answered Jean's question.
"What's your Talent? If you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine." Liang said.
"Li-Liang, I don't think it's nice to ask that," Alima mumbled quietly from the side.
"Aww, come on. I'm just curious. I promise I won't use it against you when we fight."
"You don't have to answer that," Jean said and shot Liang a look. "You could at least respect people's privacy a bit in these matters, couldn't you?"
Liang rolled her eyes and let out a disappointed sigh. "Ugh, fine. I don't get why you guys care so much about it. Where I'm from, your Talent is something to be proud of. I bet you all know what my dad's Talent is."
"Actually, I don't," I raised my hand in the air.
"Yes, well, you're weird, so it doesn't count. Don't think I didn't see your reaction when Tanju Shar first showed herself. You had no idea who she was, did you?" Liang turned the tables and peered at me.
This caused quite a reaction from the other people sitting at the table.
"Wait, you hadn't heard about Tanju Shar before!?
"Man, have you been living in a cave for your whole life or something?
"You should appreciate the fact that instructor Shar is deigning to teach you more."
I felt uncomfortable when everybody's attention was directed at me like that, so I tried changing the subject. "That doesn't matter now, does it? I thought we were here to study, so let's start before it's too late."
The others seemed unwilling to change the subject so easily, but when they saw that I wasn't about to say anything else, they relented and opened up their textbooks. I nodded my head and smiled inwardly at my success. "Good, then where should we start?"
The rest of the evening passed by quickly. Even though the conversation steered off course a few times, we managed to get through a decent amount of material. Although Abigail and I ended up having to help the rest a lot and couldn't learn as much as the others, we could at least share notes so that the evening wasn't a complete loss for us. But even if the evening had been a complete waste of time, I wouldn't have minded it much. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought. I wouldn't mind doing this in more in the future.
When we were finished for the evening, Raul and Jean walked back together to the dorms with me, and I got to know a bit more about both.
Jean was an orphan from Canada and had been raised by an old swordmaster. His dream had always been to become a hero and fight for justice and innocent civilians
Raul, on the other hand, was from a relatively poor family in Brazil and wanted to become a hero so that he could earn a lot of money and help out his family.
When we reached the boys' dorms, I said my goodbyes to them and entered my dorm room. After eating a small evening meal, I laid down in bed and went to sleep.