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219. Tutor

“Saffron!”

I ran through the door, beaming with excitement. The papers in my hand fluttered as I raised them, ready to show my companion my amazing grades and compare it with hers. However, the pink-haired noble wasn’t there. I paused, looking around.

“Aw, where is she?”

Apparently, she hadn’t returned back from her classes yet. I was too early. I scowled, sitting down on the sofa, waiting for her to return.

—--

“Saffron!”

I ran up to my companion as she stepped in through the door. She blinked, dropping her things.

“What is it, Salvos?”

“Look, look, look, look, look—”

I waved my test papers in front of her face, and her eyes widened.

“You received three distinctions?”

“I did!”

Saffron looked genuinely impressed. She folded her arms across her chest, still staring.

“Huh.”

“That’s my line!”

“And those are some good grades.”

She picked up her things, bringing them over to a table. I nodded proudly, basking in my own greatness. I peered over her shoulder.

“So, how’d you do for your midterms?”

“I was one of the top of my class. While I did not do as well as you did, I also am not able to stay awake all night, studying without sleep every single day.”

“Hey! I only do that like five or six times a week!”

I took a step back defensively. Saffron rolled her eyes.

“I do have to say, Salvos, that you’ve outdone yourself. Even I didn’t expect you to excel in your studies more than me.”

“I’m smarter than you!”

I grinned, raising my chin.

“Perhaps you are in your academics. However, I am far more educated than you in a plethora of ways.”

“Oh really?”

Saffron nodded, making a list.

“Socializing, general information, and tending to my own responsibilities as a noble. This is all without your ability to ignore mental exhaustion.”

“I can’t ignore mental exhaustion! I do get tired sometimes.”

“Sometimes, yes. But us mortals have our limits. Only those at the truly highest levels are capable of casting aside their mortal restraints.”

“But aren’t you a Vampire?”

I tapped a finger on my chin, and she glared at me.

“Not so loud, you idiot. And yes, Vampires aren’t technically mortals. We’re part mortals. Those of us who attain our Subspecies at Level 100 can forego their mortal needs. But as you can see, I am not Level 100.”

Saffron waved at herself. Indeed, she wasn’t even that high-leveled. Maybe as a Human, she’d be considered very high-leveled for her age. But I was still better than her!

“That’s not a lot of things, Saffron. Just admit it, I’m smarter than you!”

I huffed. The pink-haired noble scoffed. Then she paused. She turned to give me a sly smile.

“I do have other things I’m busy with, Salvos.”

“Oh yeah? What are they?”

“Indeed. It is quite troublesome, really. In addition to what I said, I busy myself with learning skills such as taking care of my beloved companion, who has proven herself to be quite the handful so far.”

I blinked. Then I raised a fist.

“Hey! I’m not a handful!”

“Of course you aren’t. I was talking about another troublesome companion of mine named Salfos.”

“Oh, ok.”

I nodded. Then I frowned.

“Wait a minute—”

“Anyway, I have had a busy day, Salvos. I’d just like to rest now, with my free time.”

I harrumphed as she started past me. Saffron sighed, turning back around. She smiled at me.

“You did a good job, Salvos. I’m proud of you. I really am.”

Instantly, I brightened. I smiled from ear to ear, pressing my hands to my cheeks.

“I’m so great…”

Then she placed a hand on my shoulder.

“However, you shouldn’t belittle others even when acknowledging your own success. I do not particularly mind— I’ve known you were smarter than you looked for a while now, and I’ve seen your hard work. But others who are less familiar with you as… Salfos, the immature and prideful Demon…”

She gestured at me, and I narrowed my eyes. Before I could speak, she continued.

“...and are more familiar with you as Salvos, the Liberator of the Plaguelands, may have their image of you shattered if you act as condescendingly as you sometimes do.”

“I don’t want that…”

I hesitated, shifting slightly.

“But I do know how to act appropriately around others.”

“You do, Salvos. You are capable of putting up a facade. But only briefly. You thaw too quickly, revealing your true nature to those who you’re comfortable around.”

“Isn’t that a good thing? Daniel says honesty is good.”

“Not in your case.”

She shook her head.

“Remember, you have a reputation to uphold now. It may not truly represent you or capture you fully. However, it is far better than to have yourself misrepresented in a bad light rather than a positive light. After all, you’d rather others know you as the intelligent Diamond Ranked adventurer over a foolish young woman, do you not?”

“I do.”

“So, do take care of yourself and your actions. Don’t do anything foolish, alright?”

Saffron headed for her room, yawning.

“I’m going to rest.”

“Wait— do you want to see my Lair?”

I asked eagerly. There was a moment’s pause; she looked like she did want to take a look at it. Unfortunately, she ended up deciding against it.

“Maybe some other time, Salvos. Maybe you can show it to me this weekend?”

“Alright…”

I wasn’t completely dejected with my response. Her delaying it gave me time to tidy up my Lair before she paid me a visit. Also, it meant that I could make preparations for the ritual I was planning.

Veronica Adash had given me an idea. It was a good idea. I liked the idea. I’d try to cross to the Netherworld with what I had now. It sounded risky, but I liked taking risks.

For now, though, I’d just continue my school days as per usual. And one of those included tutoring other students.

***

Valda was a genius.

She was a fifteen years old prodigy, having enrolled at the prestigious Mavos Academy only a year before. Her levels reflected her talent, but what others didn’t know was that it required a lot of hard work on her part to get to this point.

Her family was not rich. She wasn’t provided a lot of the resources the rich nobles that normally attended Mavos Academy were given. While she came from a lineage of Vampires— those of whom were typically wealthy and of high status— her family had been disgraced three centuries ago. Now, they were but [Traders] who thrived off selling copperthorn leaves grown from their vineyard.

If Valda’s wealth were measured to the common masses, she'd be considered ‘rich.’ However, she was upper middle class at most. And her family couldn’t even afford her tuition— not without some sponsors.

That was right— due to Valda’s talent, she was partially sponsored for her enrollment to Mavos Academy. It hadn’t been easy. It had been difficult, even. She studied night and day just to pass the entrance examination. And things only grew more once classes started.

From dealing with her studies to training her combat skills, she placed herself under a lot of pressure and stress just to get this far. Her achievements were things which she was incredibly proud of. However, that also made it harder for those around her to bond with her.

Other than the Vampires in Mavos Academy— there were currently two others, Saffron and Adney, although there was a third, Beatrice, a year ago— Valda struggled making any friends over the course of her first year. Even worse was that she was younger than all the other students there. So, she struggled to fit in.

But she had good grades. At least, she was considered a top student in all her classes. Valda was never the top scorer, but she was always within the top dozen or so students in her class, with a large majority of others failing. While she was not the best in class, she was a good student. She then decided to take advantage of her position to get to know others better.

Valda approached those who were failing in the class; they needed help, or else they’d be expelled. And she offered them her help. That was how she made her first friends.

Jeremiah, Marie, Eve, and Jonas.

They were of the nobility class— except for Jonas. His parents were Platinum Ranked adventurers who sent him to Mavos Academy. Valda’s group of friends weren’t… dumb, per se. But they simply struggled with focusing in class. And as such, Valda struggled with helping them thus far.

While she was a child prodigy, she wasn’t a teacher. She helped a little bit. Not enough for Jonas and Marie to pass their midterms. It hurt her to see them fail. She even blamed herself a little bit. They didn’t, but she did.

In her desperation to help them, Valda turned to one of the most esteemed students in their class. Salvos, the Liberator of the Plaguelands. It wasn’t the first time they spoke; Valda had been confident in herself— that she’d find common ground with Salvos. But after a brief interaction, Valda realized just how far above her the Diamond Rank was.

The proceeding times they spoke, it took Valda all the courage she had to approach Salvos. And their conversations lasted just as briefly as the first time. And when Valda asked Salvos for tutoring assistance and Salvos actually said yes, the girl couldn’t believe it.

She still couldn’t believe it, even as she walked behind Salvos, following her to the library. Jeremiah, Marie, Even and Jonas walked beside Valda. None of them dared to even walk at the same pace as Salvos— instead, whispering quietly amongst themselves.

“She’s really going to teach us.”

“Do you think she has some sort of secret studying technique?”

“Don’t be stupid— she’s clearly just a genius. I heard she received no formal education before entering Mavos Academy.”

“What about her beauty routine? I need to know how she keeps her skin so pure as an adventurer—”

It was Eve who spoke last, causing Valda to hush her. The fifteen year old girl was certain that Salvos could hear them. And her friends were certainly not leaving a good impression on Salvos.

Just look at her… Valda turned her gaze to Salvos. The Diamond Ranked adventurer kept her gaze forward, an almost bored— maybe even annoyed— look on her face. It was obvious. Valda knew that this was going to go badly. She knew that Salvos would never offer to teach them again.

Valda had to apologize now before things got worse. Before Salvos grew ever more annoyed.

***

I was being praised!

I was so happy that finally, someone recognized me for what I was: a genius. I heard what that boy said. Jonas. He called me a genius! And I most definitely was one.

It took all of my willpower to stop myself from dancing and throwing my hands in the air as I shouted. A grin kept creeping up on my face, but I twisted my lips down to suppress it— to keep it from showing. Saffron’s words weighed in my mind. I knew I had to uphold their perception of me as something good.

So, I said nothing, leading them into the library, cordially greeting the [Librarian] as I entered.

“Good to see you again, Ms Salvos.”

“Likewise.”

I carried myself with the aura of the nobility, and Valda and her friends recognized it. They were in awe just from the fact that the [Librarian] recognized me. I was doing such a good job.

I was about to lead them to my usual study spot with Nolan, when Valda hurried next to me, speaking in a small voice.

“Um, I-I…”

I glanced back, smiling.

“Yes, Valda?”

“I-I apologize if my friends and I have made a poor first impression on you. We are truly grateful for this opportunity you’ve granted us, despite our i-impositions.”

“Of course.”

I nodded, even as she squeaked.

“I am very much unbothered by your request. Do not worry.”

She paled.

“R-right. O-of course someone like you would find this task unburdensome.”

“Indeed.”

I pursed my lips, stopping myself from beaming. I turned away from her, speaking casually.

“Plus, I like you, Valda. So, even if it had been a problem, I’d have aided you regardless— but it’s not.”

I quickly qualified the statement at the end, emphasizing the fact that I was, well, a genius. She paused, stopping in her tracks, even as her friends followed me into the private study room. I faced her, brows raised.

“Are you coming?”

Valda stood there, blinking, in a slight daze. Then my words broke her out of it, and she rushed in.

“Y-yes!”

I nodded, closing the door behind her. I looked at my five students, sitting themselves at the table, looking at me with admiration. See that, Saffron? I can maintain their impression of me. That had been easy. Because I was a genius, so of course they'd think I was a genius. But now...

Now was the hard part. Because— how exactly was I supposed to teach them?

 

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