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218. Smart Salvos

Then school break was over.

Everyone returned to their classes, filling the campus once more. Well, Mavos Academy was like a small city in itself. A large majority of their population came not from students, but from others living here, so even during break, it was never emptied of people.

But now, as I walked through its streets, I saw once again the familiar uniforms of students attending Mavos Academy’s College of Aspirations. They chatted casually, talking about what they did over the break. Surprisingly, most of them didn’t do any studying. Most of them took the time to relax or enjoy themselves, because… they were exhausted from school?

I didn’t really understand how it worked. Saffron told me that regular Humans apparently had limits, and couldn’t just study all night like I did. Sure, they had potions and elixirs that could help them overcome their need for sleep, but it wasn’t permanent. And if they abused those potions, there were negative side effects too.

Although, apparently, there were some Skills out there that helped Humans curb sleep. These Skills didn’t have any downsides to them like potions did.

Whatever the case was, I greeted Lamarr as I settled onto my seat as my first class started, excited for another day of classes.

The red-haired man— Warrior King of Traith— nodded.

“Greetings, Salvos.”

“How was your break, Lamarr?”

“I returned to my kingdom to oversee any matters of import that were brought up while I was gone.”

He unpacked his belongings. His Bag of Holding held within it a dozen different textbooks, while I had only a single notebook in comparison.

“How about you, Salvos?”

“Huh, cool. I took a trip to the Rainforest of Monsters and befriended a giant Golem!”

Lamarr raised a brow.

“I see.”

He didn’t press me any further, and I glanced over at the door as lecturer Claudia entered the room. Despite having not seen her for a week, she barely gave us a cordial greeting as usual, dragging herself on her feet over to her desk. She set down a stack of papers— what was presumably our test results.

“When I call your name, you’ll come up to the front to collect your midterms...”

Her voice droned on as she began handing out the papers. I eagerly awaited for my name to be called out, and when it finally happened, I ran up to the front and grabbed it before sitting back down. I didn’t even look at my result until I was seated once more.

“What did I get…?”

I stared at the number written at the top of the piece of paper. I got…

“How?!”

My eyes widened as I nearly fell back on my chair. Lamarr leaned over, raising a brow.

“What is wrong?”

I turned to him, pointing excitedly at my paper. The grade I’d gotten was absolutely amazing! I didn’t think anyone could’ve possibly gotten as high of a grade as me!

“I got 78 out of 50! Can you believe that? I got a higher score than even the test itself!”

Lamarr blinked. He just stared at me for a few seconds. When I didn’t respond, he cleared his throat.

“I am unsure if you are making a joke or if you are serious, Salvos.”

“Why would I be joking?”

I cocked my head.

“I see.”

He crossed his arms, and I frowned. Was something wrong with what I said? He didn’t look exactly excited about seeing my fantastic grade. It was possible that he was envious, but Lamarr hadn’t shown himself to be that kind of character until now.

I drew back, almost defensive, as he reached for my test paper. He pointed at the number written onto it.

“This, Salvos, is not your score out of 50. This is the percentage you scored in the test.”

“The… percentage?”

“It means that you did not receive 78 points, Salvos. You received 39 points.”

“Oh.”

I deflated. I look down at my test paper, seeing the squiggly symbol next to the numbers; it was written so tinily that I didn’t even notice it. My shoulders sagged in disappointment, but Lamarr gave me an approving look.

“It is quite an impressive score for someone who joined so late into the academic term. A distinction grade. The second highest grade you can get. I’d say to raise your chin high, Salvos, for you should be proud of yourself.”

“What did you get?”

I turned to Lamarr, still scowling slightly. He raised his own test paper.

“A higher distinction grade.”

My jaw dropped as I saw the number written onto his test. He had a 95 percent score for the midterms! That was way better than mine! However, he was convinced I’d done well. He tried to explain to me how good i was in the class, and I refused to listen—

Until I heard the conversations happening behind me. A fourth year student from the College of Aspirations was bragging about the score he received on the exam. He lifted his sheet up, showing it to his friends.

“Look, I even got the second last question right—”

I narrowed my eyes as I saw the number. 68 percent. He had gotten a whole grade score lower than me. And yet, he was excited about it. It wasn’t just him, either. I looked around, seeing the other dozen students in the room discussing their results.

74 percent. 44 percent. 57 percent. 35 percent.

I probably was staring too hard because many of the students gre uncomfortable and quietened down, even though Claudia hadn’t started the lecture yet. I turned back to Lamarr, beaming. He placed a hand on my shoulder.

“Mavos Academy is one of the top institutions— no, it is the top institution for learning in the world. To thrive here is proof of excellence. Good job, Salvos.”

“Thank you.”

—--

Each of my classes today returned my midterm grades. I did quite well for each of them, on average getting a distinction— even on the cusp of getting a higher distinction for my class on enchanting. The only class which wouldn’t return a grade to me today was my class on alchemy, and that was because it didn’t have any midterms.

It had a practical session, so I had gotten back my grade for it two weeks ago. It was, unfortunately, the worst grade I’d gotten. But that didn’t dampen my mood even as I was about to leave my enchantment class for my alchemy class. I waved at Professor Lisbenon, rushing out of the room, only to pause when a blonde girl called out to me.

Valda, one of Saffron’s friends and my classmate, stood with her hands behind her back as she approached. I turned to her.

“Hi.”

“Apologies for troubling you, Ms Salvos—”

“Just Salvos is fine.”

I casually waved a hand off. If this were the first time we’d met, I’d have tried to make a good impression by being more formal, but I’d spoken to her a few times before. Valda hesitated. Then she nodded.

“R-right, S-Salvos.”

Her lips were pursed together. She was clearly uncomfortable with referring to me without formality. However, I didn’t like it when my name was butchered. So, it was between her being uncomfortable or me being uncomfortable. I prioritized myself, of course.

Valda continued.

“If this is not rude of me to ask, M— Salvos, Liberator of the Plaguelands—”

She used my Title instead, which was fine with me.

“I was hoping to inquire about, uh, whether or not you got a distinction for this class. I-I don’t mean to cast aspersions against your character— I am certain you received a distinction fairly easily. However…”

“I did, yes.”

I interrupted her before she could ramble any further. I proudly showed her my results, and she gaped at it. I lowered the piece of paper, grinning.

“What about you?

“I got a… 64%.”

Valda looked dejected as she raised her test results. I nodded, echoing what Lamarr said earlier.

“That’s pretty good.”

“Oh, uh, thank you.”

She hesitated as I cocked my head. I wasn’t in an extreme rush to get to my alchemy class— I had enough time between classes. But I did want to know what she was so nervous about. I tapped a finger on my elbow as I crossed my arms.

“Well?”

“I-I am one of the highest scorers in the class, you see? Even with a score like this. A lot of my friends failed.”

She squeaked out as my gaze bore into her. I looked over at where she was pointing at. Her friends were gathered at the back of the class, staring at her with anxiety clearly written on their faces. When I faced them, they averted their gaze.

“S-so, if it’s not a problem with you, we were hoping if you’d be able to tutor us. Like, as long as it’s not a burden. You can say no if you want. I’m sure you’re very busy, and we’d totally understand if you—”

Valda rambled on again, but I didn’t cut her off. I furrowed my brows.

Tutor them? Like Nolan was tutoring me? It would take some time away from my own studying. Although, teaching others could help me revise and even compare notes. Also… being asked to tutor her made me feel smart.

And I liked this feeling.

I gave her a thumbs-up, even as she continued.

“—since you’re a Diamond and all you’lve probably heard—”

“Sure!”

Valda tried to work her jaw.

“You… will?”

“Yep! Why wouldn’t I?”

I waited for her to respond. She took a moment to gather herself. When she did she bowed her head deeply.

“Thank you very much. I am very grateful to you for this, Salvos, Liberator of the Plaguelands.”

“I am quite amazing, yes. But I’ve got to go now. Let’s discuss this again next time, alright, Valda?”

I patted her on the shoulder and headed for the door. The blonde girl just stood there, still bowing, raising her head slightly only to watch me leave.

It was surprising, hearing a self-proclaimed genius ask for my help. The fact that so many students did badly in the exam was expected— this wasn’t a class full of fourth year students, but first and second year students. After all, this was Mavos Academy. It had one of the highest failure rates in the world.

And I did pretty amazing, if I had to say so myself.

—--

I hummed happily to myself as I skipped into the alchemy lab. I arrived just in time for [Alchemist] Raymond to reach the class himself. He raised a brow.

“Well, well, Ms Salvos. It does appear that you’ve enjoyed yourself during your break.”

“I have, yep!”

We entered the lab, and I found a place for myself across from Veronica and Nolan, sitting next to Gallus. I greeted each of them— we hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we exchanged pleasant, casual conversation.

Then [Alchemist] Raymond drew our attention, splitting us into pairs. This time, I was paired with Veronica Adash. We weren’t given any specific task to complete, like we were usually given. Instead, we were provided with a lot of ingredients and even the pre-potions necessary for a greater-tiered potion. Then we were told to create one before class ended.

Veronica and I decided on creating a Potion of Greater Protection; if we had tried to make the potion ourselves with only the base ingredients, it’d have easily taken us years as non-[Alchemists]. But since Raymond had done most of the preparation work for us by turning most of the ingredients into various other base forms for brewing, we just needed to do the final step and we’d be done in a few hours.

“I had prepared all this over the past three weeks for you guys, so try not to let it go to waste. But this is exactly the kind of ingredients you will want to gather for your final assignment of this class. None of you here are low-leveled. Each of you have riches and connections beyond imaginable. Use whatever it takes to complete your assignment. You could, of course, borrow or request a certain list of ingredients from me. But it is a limited list. Certainly not the kind of ingredients I’d prepare for you in class.”

We got to work, and Veronica and I exchanged casual conversation with each other as we underwent the slow and laborious process of turning multiple Potions of Lesser Protection and a Potion of Strength into a Potion of Greater Protection by mixing it with various different tinctures.

“You know, I’m surprised, you seem happier than your usual self, Salvos. Which is an assertion I never thought I’d ever make.”

I beamed, raising my chin as I remembered all the praise I received today about how smart I was.

“Today has just been a good day. I got back my result for the midterms— I did great in all of them. I learned a new Skill called [Partial Phasing]. And I even was praised for being smart!”

“That’s very good, Salvos—”

Veronica Adash spoke, slightly distracted as she raised a beaker. Then she paused. She quirked a brow.

“You've learned [Partial Phasing] with your second Class?”

“Yep! Do you know that Skill?”

I turned to her, curious. Veronica nodded.

“It’s a Skill [Dimensional Mages] try to learn early on to manipulate small pocket dimensions. It’s not a [Full Phase]— you can work wonders with that. It’s more like… what [Crafters] commission [Space Mages] to create Bags of Holdings. It’s an essential Skill for any kind of [Space Mage] at the lower levels to learn.”

I paused.

“It helps create Bags of Holding?”

“Indeed.”

Veronica turned her attention back to the beaker, which was now sizzling. She spoke, focused on two tasks at once.

“It allows you to do more than just tug at the fabric of space. To fold space, not just in a haphazard manner. But to intricately weave it, even if just a little bit, to your will.”

I blinked.

“Really?”

“It’s considered a necessary Skill. Although, you can learn it yourself through theory and practice. Especially if you learned the Skill, like you said you did. You probably can manipulate the folds of space better than a brand new [Space Mage]. So, it’s not really a necessary Skill, in my opinion.”

I nodded along, only barely listening to what she was saying. Because I had an idea. If what she said was right and that I could manipulate a small enough area of space to fold into itself, then I could potentially flip the space of this plane to match with that of another plane. Then I’d just have to punch a hole through it.

This seemed like a good idea.

I might actually finally get back to the Netherworld.

It couldn’t possibly go wrong.

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