Ruth had been attending school for the past 4 years now. Children would start primary education at age 5. It was an obligation for parents or guardian to do so, even orphanage children were provided education, subsidized by the government.
Ruth was eight years old currently. In regards to the core education material, it would be reading, writing and basic maths. After that would be complex maths and science. The entire school program would last until one reached 16 years of age. Continuing on from there, the graduates would either decided to work or further study in the field of their choice. Which usually meant finding a suitable mentor, instructor or professor.
For those who had physically enhanced talents, they could further themselves as knight, army units, adventurers, forgers— to name a few.
For those who had magic talents, they would be able to go for transcription studies, magic arts, magi craftsman, magic professors and the likes.
In between the two were plenty of jobs that anyone could do, such as farming, cooking and teaching.
The morning session of school was where the students were taught core educational materials, and it wasn't something that Ruth enjoyed. What she would look forward to was the afternoon session to her school 'puke blood', don't mention that name.
During the afternoon sessions, students would be split into two groups, depending on their respective talents. This was an opportunity for Ruth to learn and practice magic— something she would drool over.
Today, seated beside Ruth wasn't her usual friends, but Curtis. More precisely, it was because Curtis sat at the very far back, Ruth too decided to change her siting position accordingly.
Gyrostones, gems, crystals, parchment transcription scrolls, spellbook display, graphs and note charts. All these could be found in the so-called magic-lab. Since there were over a hundred students present, the magic faculty had been divided into 4 separate classes; Curtis and Ruth being in class 3.
While Ruth had her spellbook ready placed on the table, Curtis was— or had been writing note drafts sporadically since yesterday. It has been on like this every chance he got. He didn't look too good, staying up the whole night before, fatigue settling in, slight anxiety could be seen on his face.
Besides that, there were many curious glances being sent Ruth's way, which made her feel quite uncomfortable. She wondered how her big brother was able to casually ignore all these laser beams.
Th teacher in charge of the third class of the magic faculty came in, and everyone made a unison greeting, childishly—
At least that was what Curtis thought, still feeling that blood rising up to his throat every time he thought about returning to a kindergarten-like setting. Actually, he had never been to kindergarten.
The next thing the teacher did was taking attendance, calling out each student's name one by one. Curtis almost missed his turn, not noticing the teacher calling him as he was too absorbed on figuring out a solution to a certain issue—
Ruth lifted the pages of her Spellbook open one by one until it reached the page containing the repertoire for the fireball spell.
The homework from the previous class was— to hold a small ball of flame at the fingertips. Most students had already achieve the level of creating a small speck of fire, no problem. The next step after that would be to effectively direct and control the flame. In this regard, most students would struggle to keep a flame stationary on their finger, or worse, they even burnt themselves.
When the teacher told the class to show her their results, many students failed to build the appropriate the size, others were unable to control the trajectory of their flames. One of the students had accidentally generated a mutated fire where it emitted a weird chlorine-green glow. The moment the teacher saw that, she extinguished it immediately with a shot of condensed water.
Among the students in class, Ruth was known to be the cream of the crop. Excited, she focused her attention intensely. What appeared to be a speck of flame crawled up her index finger, multiplying in size. Whereas most would only achieve a quarter of the size, Ruth was able to conjure up a flame at least two inches in diameter, and not have her hands burned in the process.
The Teacher Lily smiled at Ruth, which led her to notice the peculiar boy sitting beside Ruth. The new student. He was apparently, scribbling something? He obviously wasn't paying attention to class.
"Curtis," the teacher called out in a gentle tone, to which she got no response. And it wasn't like the sounds of intense scribbling had stopped either.
Ruth, with her free hand, shook Curtis' shoulder.
"Yes?" Curtis raised his head to look at Ruth, his gaze landed at the fire fragment Ruth had on her finger pointing upwards, "Oh."
A cluster of flames ignited beside Curtis.
While remaining oblivious to the shock the teacher was experiencing, Ruth looked at Curtis with a raised eyebrow. It was that stare again.
"Too big of a flame?" The flame clusters condensed into one single blue flame, under the compression, it turned into a small, almost invisible pearl, with the temperature absolutely searing. It could be felt by the entire class, "And a red flame.." the invisible flame gained corporeal form and became a small red jewel, "It's hard to hold back," Curtis muttered.
Ruth shook her head, "mommy said we shouldn't ignore our surroundings."
"Is that right…" Curtis trailed off. Back in Elfian Dynasty, the professors would conduct lectures while he had the privilege to do whatever he wanted. Normally, Curtis would take brisk notes while doing research— and conducting experimental theories at the same time. Whether or not you paid attention to the lecture was at your own discretion. He realized that he was in a lecture room no more, but a room filled with kids. All eyes on him.
"Curtis, was it?" Teacher Lily had a cold sweat on her face.
"Sorry," Curtis bowed slightly, "Do you mind reinstating the task, I wasn't paying attention," usually, this was what Curtis would say when the lecturer suddenly tossed him a question he didn't hear.
"The task was to hold a fire ball on the finger tips you see…"
"A fireball?" Curtis could only see fire fragments being generated by the student. By the standards of Elfian Dynasty, a fireball had to be at least the size of one's fist. In any case, Curtis now understood the disparity in magic between the two dynasties. "I understand," the lone red flame circulated in the air before landing above the index finger Curtis raised.
The teacher, kept her facial expression unchanged—no, she had a forced smile. Her pride shatter to bits.
'Were the children of the Sheyl family always this talented? This student, Curtis is an unusual one, despite not having a spellbook in hand...'
Ruth on the other hand, although previously hailed as the best, wasn't really affected all by the fact that there was someone even better than her in magic. This realization led Curtis to feel rather surprised. In a way, Ruth did not have the mindset of learning magic for the sake of showing off.
The teacher gave him pass, or rather—distinction to Curtis' display of the spell, then backed away to help the other students, slouching.
"I guess I'll use her as a guinea pig," from the corner of Ruth's eye, the golden star that that Curtis referred to as a grimoire appeared out of thin air yet again. "I'm sorry Ruth, I'm currently in a rush. Tell me if the teacher notices that I went missing after this alright? I'll be at the outdoor table beneath the tree."
There was a small flash of white light, the students immediately looked over, but the grimoire disappeared before they had the chance to catch a glimpse, nobody saw what had happened.
Then, Curtis got up and casually walked away.
"Big brother?" for the first time, Ruth finally acknowledged Curtis, calling out to him in a soft voice—just to have him not notice.
"Big brother, the teacher didn't notice," Ruth looked down at Curtis, "What is big brother doing?"
"Thank you. Me? I'm trying to become one with nature," what Curtis was referring to were the lack of plants. There were plenty of stone, processed wood and concrete everywhere, but not plants. He felt that being swallow whole by half-meter tall weeds were a lot more comfortable than taking a stroll around town. He was laying on the bed of overgrown weeds little distant away from the outdoor table.
Oddly enough, Ruth did not notice that Curtis had casted a spell to lower their presence. It would be troublesome to have too many people—kids, interview him.
"What's this?" looking at the table where Curtis left his notebook. The contents inside were all written professionally. Moreover, it was written in a language Ruth couldn't understand.
"My research notes, or rather, just the draft," Although Ruth's replies were childish, Curtis knew that she could basically understand the meaning behind the words said by adults. He though he would be doing her a favor by speaking in this way.
"What's that for?"
Curtis raised himself up from the nice weed bed, "It's my lifeline," he drawled, moving to the table, he beckoned Ruth to sit down.
With Ruth closely observing Curtis' every move, he took out a small Spellbook from his pocket and it somehow expanded in size. Elliope had bought this Spellbook for his studies. Though, Curtis treated it as if it was a proxy instrument to trick people.
His primary magic instrument wasn't the Spellbook, but his grimoire. A Grimoire was basically a Spellbook. The big difference between the two was in everything else…
The grimoire was actually book, a 1000 page book that could disappear into the air per command, asserting an incorporeal form. With it being bound to it's owner, Curtis, it could not be used by anyone other than him—with the exception of his special someone. In it's half-corporeal form, it looked very much like a star— or under closer inspection, a lotus flower.
In it's corporeal form, it was a grimoire, a meticulously crafted Spellbook that had the ability to shrink and expand, divide and categorize its pages.
"There," Curtis transcribed a simple spell from his grimoire into Ruth's spellbook. Though, it wouldn't be accurate to call it a transfer because Curtis didn't even refer to his grimoire, having practically memorized all the spells in his disposal. "Try it out," It was a spell to create a water in the shape of a lotus.
Ruth nodded wildly, partly due to the excitement inside her heart.
While she was busy with that, Curtis had to tweak his proxy Spellbook. And the first thing he did was to burn the words—
Those three words inside his grimoire, into the last page of the book.
"I love you."
After meticulous work, it was successfully engraved into his proxy spell book without any obvious deviations.
Ruth who had given up after her third attempt took to Curtis, and saw those words of confession. To the Ruth who was still naive when it came to love and thought love was something provided only by her parents, "Who wrote that?"
"This?" Curtis broke into a laugh that contained sorrow and contempt as if reminiscing something, "My Lotus wrote that."
Ruth tilted her head cutely.
Looking away, at the evening sky, Curtis made a heavy sigh.
For a moment, Ruth could see his eyes glistening moist.
"I have to survive this no matter what— and find a way back home."
At the end of this ordinary day, Ellis walked out of school. Turning her head towards the meadow— Curtis was dead on grass? She jerked a little, stopped and observed from a distance.
He wasn't dead, contract to her expectations. He seemed to be talking to a standing black haired girl.
After a while, Ellis thought she should just leave, the time was drawing near. She was adjusting the position of the bag around her back when a sparkling object caught her attention. Mesmerized by it, Ellis couldn't tell why everyone else didn't even bat a glance. Then she saw Curtis take the girl's book and wrote something in it.
Ellis wanted to ask what it was, feeling spurious, but her legs couldn't move. Like some invisible barrier between them, she just couldn't break past.
She was afraid of approaching him?
In the end, she shrugged off this odd feeling of connection and walked back home.
This was their start.