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Shortly after Orlen's revelation, Lucius finally left Ardred's dorm room and went straight to the registrar's office with a boggled mind. He threw furtive glances at the students that he passed by along the way, wondering just how many of them could obliterate him with a single spell, or even a single slap, for that matter.

Absently, Lucius finally withdrew into his thoughts—completely taken in by his confusion as he walked northeast after exiting the main hall through the left side door.

I need to get stronger soon if I plan on staying here for the time being.

He passed by the beautiful gardens which he ignored and kept on walking until his peripherals caught a building with a red roof.

Lucius gritted his teeth. If only he knew he was going to be sent to the future instead, then he definitely could've made the Asherii hide several treasures in the form of Bestowment Crystals or Materia for him to find. He even doubted that Castarossa would disagree, seeing how desperate the old man was for the Asherii Kingdom's resurgence.

He took two rights turns, a left, and another right, all while rubbing his stiff upper lip—still deep in thought.

No. There is no use thinking about these things. I still need to find a way to get stronger fast besides training though. Perhaps some of the Asherii's ruins survived?

Lucius barely looked around as he entered the nearest building while muttering to himself, much to the curiosity of the people he passed by.

"Heya, kiddo. Anyth'n I can do for yeh?"

I can still remember it. All 137 locations where the Asherii hid their treasures and valuables in case of kingdom-breaking emergencies. Some are temples. Noble estates. Hidden bases. Only 52 of those are in Alavaria. The nearest one is...

"Hello? Yeh there?"

I need to start eliminating some of those since most of them are likely found and emptied by now. I still lack the information. I need to—

"Hey! Wake up yeh daft boy!"

Lucius flinched—his trance-like state of concentration finally breaking. He looked at the large, marble table in front of him and saw a bearded, sharp-eyed human man with an impatient look on his face. He squinted at the small and elegantly crafted plaque embedded on the front of the table.

Lars, Antebellum Academy Head Registrar. Hmm, it seems that I've finally arrived.

"Pardon me, Sir Lars. I was just..." Lucius trailed for a moment, then continued, "Thinking."

"Yer out of it, kid," Lars said with a sideways glance before leaning over the table and squinting. "Ey, are ye the kid that the Grandmaster was talk'n' about? Ye sure took yer precious time get'n here. Were ye lost?"

Elrond already told him about me? That was fast. Almost too fast, even. Must be telepathy.

"No. I was just invited to a lovely social gathering. A party, actually," Lucius said, unable to resist adding a hint of pride in his voice to reciprocate the registrar's mocking tone.

"Hehe, enjoyin' yer first day at the academy, I see. Good fer ye! But I hope yer still going to be able to enjoy yerself start'n tomorrow, kid!"

Lucius barely showed any reaction towards Lars's lighthearted attempt to dampen his enthusiasm, although he had to admit that it pushed his sense of urgency a little bit further.

"Anyway, 'ere ye go! Yer very own identification badge. Remember, yer goin' te have te wear it over yer uniform start'n tomorrow! Don't ye lose it or you'll be lose'n yers!" Lars said with a laugh before leaning over the table once again and handing Lucius a small, rectangular plate.

At first, the badge was blank, but as soon as it fell onto Lucius's open palm, words were immediately engraved on it. His name, Virtus, and the word 'Primus' appeared one by one, much to his amazement.

"Uh, I'll lose my what, exactly?" Lucius said as he kept the identification badge under his tunic.

"Just don't lose it, boy," Lars grumbled as his smile slowly turned to a frown. "Is humor dead? Kids these days..."

Lucius nodded awkwardly and was about to exit the office when he remembered something.

"B-Before I go, is there a Hall of Tomes in the academy, Sir Lars?"

"Hall of—Oh! D'ye mean the library? Heh, the Grandmaster warned me that you'd be talk'n funny. It's in the building across the dormitories, boy, ye can't miss it. The building's tarted up like some bride on her wedd'n day!"

Lucius frowned.

I talk funny?

"O-Oh, great. I'll be going now then," Lucius said, nodding politely towards Lars before walking out of the door and closing it shut behind him. All he heard behind him was a mumble and a chuckle. Another joke, most likely.

Lucius grimaced after walking a distance away from the door as he wondered just what the hell was up with the Head Registrar.

That man was strange. No. 'Weird', was it?

...

Lucius stood before the library and frowned, thoroughly amused. "Huh. It does look exactly as he described it."

With a perfectly symmetrical exterior and a balcony covered by all kinds of colorful banners that fluttered with the wind, it truly wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the library was the most elegant and intricately designed structure he had ever laid his eyes on. Well, except the entirety of Antebellum, of course.

Lucius couldn't help but take a moment to grin and marvel at the sight before he entered the building. He walked inside, and his eyes widened as he saw a high bookshelf that reached the ceiling right beside the entrance, along with ladders that slid from bookshelf to bookshelf by themselves.

Lucius walked further in and found that the bookshelves were also neatly and systematically divided into sections based on their content. Such a magnificent and wonderful sight almost brought a tear to his eyes. He once dreamed of seeing a Tome of Halls—or in this case—a library that isn't a giant pile of unorganized and perpetually-uncleaned, dusty mess like the one he had to work with back in Askanar Castle.

With a new-found jubilance in his steps, Lucius approached the librarian—a tall, well-dressed, elven woman with a strange device—two pieces of glass bound together by what looked to be a metal frame—hanging over her deep blue eyes.

What in Deus's name are those?

"What is it?" the woman said in a dull, uninterested voice as she looked at Lucius.

"I was just wondering if I could borrow a book from here. Maybe several," Lucius said as he tried not to stare at the woman's face obsessively, but failed.

"Why are you staring at my face? What, have you never seen glasses before?" the woman said in a more invested and ecstatic tone while adjusting the strange device by tapping the small, metal bridge connecting the lenses with her finger.

"What? Oh. Glasses. P-Pardon me, lady, but what is it for, may I ask?"

"Why, you—It's an accessory! Haven't you been watching the shows lately?" the woman said, somewhat outraged. "And my name is Marjorie, not miss, okay? Call me Marj. Ugh, I hate my name. It's too long."

"Shows?" Lucius raised a brow. "What are these 'shows' you speak of, uh, Lady Marj? A play of some kind?"

"Where are you from, kid? Seriously. I didn't know that students these days can still be this uncultured." Marjorie rolled her eyes before sighing deeply. "What books do you want to borrow anyway?"

"Books about the major occurrences and events in the past, mostly. Oh, and a book about treasure discoveries made for the past five hundred years or so."

"The History section it is, then. Take the hall down to the right and take two turns left. Return here with your identification badge after you've decided what books you want to borrow. Oh, and don't get lost on your way back, okay? I'd rather not spend any of my quality watching time waiting for you to turn up before closing this place down."

Lucius nodded before walking further inside. The vast library, he suspected from the librarian's ominous words and the intricate, aether-filled inscriptions on the walls, was built with a space-enhancing spell of some kind.

What overshadowed his curiosity for the library's secrets, however, was the sense of child-like wonder that filled him as he stared longingly at every bookshelf he passed by.

All this knowledge, just waiting to be uncovered. I wonder how many years it would take for me to consume all of it?

...

"Oh, you're finally—"

Lucius could barely see Marjorie's face behind the pile of books he was struggling to lift with both hands, but if he had to guess from her words suddenly cutting off, the woman was more than likely surprised.

With a small grunt, Lucius placed the books atop Marjorie's table and shook off the numbness in his arms.

"You haven't mentioned any limit to how many books I can borrow, correct?"

"Yes, but—"

Not even letting Marjorie finish, Lucius quickly handed over his identification badge without another word.

Marjorie looked at the identification badge. "You're one strange kid, Lucius...Lucius? You haven't got a clan name?"

Lucius shook his head and nonchalantly answered, "I'm an orphan."

"I see," Marjorie said, the previously annoyed expression on her face turning into that of pity as she stared at Lucius's identification badge. "Good luck spending your time here, Lucius. Remember, knowledge is a luxury given free here in Antebellum Academy. Do not forget to use this to your advantage."

Noticing the slight change in the woman's tone, Lucius could only nod curtly before taking his badge back and taking in a deep, yet quiet breath in anticipation before lifting the books he placed on Marjorie's table.

Much to his surprise, however, the tall pile of books easily budged as he lifted them. Moreover, even after he blundered in keeping the pile of books balanced initially because of his surprise, the pile still hadn't fallen all over him. It was as if the books were being held together by an adhesive and were stuck together as one.

"Thank you," Lucius said before giving Marjorie a knowing glance.

"Don't mention it. Now, go to your dorm and start reading your books. Oh, and the spells I cast on them will expire in about ten minutes, so you better hurry, okay?"

Lucius, however, mused for a moment while weighing the pile with one hand. With a curious look on his face, he then said, "This is too light. Can I take more?"

...

Lucius ended up bringing two tall piles of books with him as he ventured back into the dormitories. He passed by the building where Ardred's dorm room was, but he immediately skipped over it as the rooms were arranged according to a student's Virtus.

He walked to the furthest section of the dormitories. After several minutes of walking, he finally managed to find his destination and entered the building with the sign that said "100 Virtus and below" and presented his identification badge to a small, bucktoothed Ferrian at the reception.

The small Ferrian, with his small, round ears flapping oh-so-adorably as he walked, then led Lucius to a door among many others across the wide hallway before leaving him without even a single word uttered.

Lucius, however, paid no mind to the dorm keeper's lack of interest in idle chatter. He simply opened the door to his room and looked around with a satisfied sigh. The room itself was small. It was even smaller than his old room back at the castle, but it was much tidier, and to him, it held a certain charm that his old one didn't have in the slightest.

After all, with the Asherii and Castarossa out of his life for good, this room was truly his, and his alone.

My new home for now. Hmm, not bad at all.

Lucius's expectations, however, were quickly dashed as soon as he saw two desks, two wardrobes, and two beds on top of each other on the corner of the room, along with a boy at the bottom bunk who seemed to have just woken up right after he entered.

Lucius looked around much closely, and to his surprise, there were already a few articles of clothing, books, and countless other personal belongings that were arranged in a neat pile across the room.

B-But Ardred was alone in his dorm room, was he not? Don't tell me...

At that moment, the piles of books that Lucius was carrying grew immensely heavy in an instant, and with a weak Corpus stat, he was simply no match for the tremendous burden he was carrying.

Unsurprisingly, every single book fell onto the floor with a loud crash, with one landing on Lucius's feet making him shout, which in turn startled the stranger on the bed wide awake.

"OH SWEET HEAVENS PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!"

 

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Red Fox

  • Nirvana
  • a.k.a. Red Fox

Bio: I hate grapes. Wine's not bad though.

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