“Hmm. It’s smaller than an academy but bigger than I thought it was going to be”, Kalli observed as we made our way through the school parking lot.
I walked alongside the redhead, careful not to think too loud, suggesting, “I guess an academy might be like a college. Those campuses are bigger than high school.”
She looked around, taking in the environment, “I understand I think. Only children learn here.”
I shrugged, “That’s one way of putting it.”
We made a pitstop at my locker. I unlocked it and tipped its entire contents into my fanny pack. I grinned widely and left the empty locker open, muttering, “Good riddance.”
“What do you mean?”, Kalliphae asked, glancing at the empty unit.
I pointed at the locker, “This was a place Tim knew I had to go every day. It was one of his favorite spots to ambush me.”
“You need to face him, Melvin”, She admonished me, “You saw how quickly he backed down when I confronted him.”
Kalli was trying to help me. It was easier said than done though. If I put up with him for a few minutes every day, he usually let me live the rest of it in peace. Who knew what I was going to stir up if I kicked the hornet's nest.
I decided to turn the tables on Kalli with a question, “How do you know so much about bullies?”
“I have…experience”, Kalliphae replied hesitantly, “Everyone in the orphanage had a little bit of Tim in them. I learned to do what’s necessary to survive. Running away in my world results in death.”
I walked in silence for a few minutes as I attempted to digest what Kalli was telling me. We made our way to the library. When we walked past Mrs. Hodgins, her jaw dropped. I grinned and said, “Good morning Mrs. Hodgins. I want you to meet my new friend, Kalliphae.”
Kalli curtsied and introduced herself, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am.”
Mrs. Hodgins’ jaw opened and closed a few times, but no sound came out. The old scholar took a deep breath and croaked, “How?”
“Excuse me. ma’am?”, Kalli asked, sounding confused.
The old librarian collected herself and asked, “How are you level 7? That shouldn’t be possible.”
A raised a hand but didn’t wait to be called on, “I can explain. Let’s go back to my office.”
It was crowded with the three of us sitting at my tiny table in the back. I took a deep breath and started to explain, “First off, you were mistaken about the top-level people in this world. I’ve learned about someone who is level 27 and met someone who is probably at least double that. Second, Kalli isn’t from this world. I summoned her.”
Mrs. Hodgins looked stricken. She asked, “How is that possible? The president was only level 5 and he is the most powerful person in the world.”
She was completely ignoring what I said about Kalli. I continued, “From what I’ve been told, the super high-level people don’t operate in the open. There are magical bloodlines that pass on knowledge from one generation to the next, and even higher level ancient people that I think live forever. Also, there’s a whole bunch of worlds and there was even a war between them.”
I started to drone on but Kalli whispered in my head, Give her a minute to process.
Mrs. Hodgins sat still for a few minutes in deep thought. Kalli’s voice touched my mind, You said she’s level 2?
Yes. As far as I know, she’s the only one in my school that isn’t level one. At least that’s what she says.
The scholar looked up and asked, “Kalliphae, that’s what you said your name is right? This class of yours, Pyromancer, does it has something to do with fire? Do you start fires or put them out?”
Kalli held up in the same motion she used to summon fire and asked, “Is it safe to conjure flames here? Do you have those fire horns here?”
“Fire horns?”, Mrs. Hodgins asked confusedly.
I shook my head, “No. Definitely not safe. Unless I tell you otherwise, let’s just say every building has a fire horn. Public buildings like this one also have sprinklers. Water will come out of the ceiling and ruin all of these books if you start a fire.”
Mrs. Hodgins finally caught on, “Oh, you must mean fire alarms. Yes, I’m afraid we do, and what Mr. Murphy says is correct too, most buildings in the school have a sprinkler system. I take it you make fire then?”
Kalli nodded quietly. Mrs. Hodgins continued, “How on earth did you acquire level 7? It took me years just to get to level 2.”
“I had training”, Kalli explained, “Getting to level 2 at such an old age is very impressive in its own right.”
“What does age have to do with it?”, Mrs. Hodgins asked indignantly.
Kalliphae patiently attempted to explain, “You see, children from bloodline families start training from birth. They strive to make it to at least level 5 by the age of puberty. From there they undergo extensive training so that they can be level 10 by the age of majority. People who awaken at an older age have a tougher time leveling up. It’s kind of like learning a language as an adult versus learning it as a child. Much more difficult. If I am not mistaken, you also don’t have a teacher. That would make knowing how to level up very difficult all by itself.”
I latched on to the one thing she said about children hitting level 10 by the time they reach majority. That would entail continuous leveling from birth.
I thought you had to start over at level 1 if you took a new class.
Kalli’s eyes shifted from Mrs. Hodgins to me and I heard her voice in my head, That’s true in your case. When a child begins leveling at a young age, the class he gets at puberty absorbs that experience. Nobody knows why, but it doesn’t happen after puberty.
“Level 10 by majority? I assume you mean 18 years of age?”, Mrs. Hodgins asked.
Kalli shook her head, “Majority is different for everyone, but it's usually closer to 16. Do people grow up slower in this world?”
The scholar’s eyes widened, “Are you from another world, dear?”
I groaned, “I said that earlier. Try to keep up. I summoned her from another world.”
Kalli’s mental rebuke rang in my head, Be nice to her. That was rude.
I nodded that I would behave just as Mrs. Hodgins said, “Oh right, I’m sorry. This is a lot to take in.”
Kalliphae’s voice took a gentle tone as she soothed the scholar, “It’s perfectly all right ma’am. We can take this as slow as you need us to. Just ask your questions.”
Be careful not to tell her what we were up to. She is on our side, but I can still get in trouble for playing hooky from school and she probably won’t approve of us taking that quest or going to see the enchanter.
This time is was Kalli’s turn to nod. She thought at me, Don’t worry. I know how to keep a secret. I’ve been keeping secrets from the headmaster at the orphanage for years.
Kalli spent an hour answering all of Mrs. Hodgins’ questions. She asked a lot of the same questions I had and wanted to know more about the social hierarchy of our world. Kalliphae didn’t know anything about our world other than what Lavender told us. However, she knew a great deal about her own world.
“The Emperor rules the largest continent on our world and has territories everywhere else”, Kalli began, “Some nations have sovereignty, but those are usually carefully structured alliances where they pay homage to the emperor. Currently, the only war going on is between civilization and monsters. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any monsters here since I arrived. Did you somehow subjugate them?”
Mrs. Hodgins and I exchanged a brief look of confusion. I answered out loud, “I don’t know. I always thought that monsters were myths. Of course, I was just born the other day right?”
Kalli laughed and Mrs. Hodgins raised an eyebrow. Kalliphae stopped and explained, “He means he just woke up the other day. It’s not uncommon to call a newly awakened a newborn.”
Mrs. Hodgins examined me and her eyes bulged, “How are you level 2? It took me years to do that.”
I thought back to it. I didn’t recall leveling up. I just woke up and it was there. I shrugged, “I guess it happened after I summoned Kalli.”
Kalli nodded in agreement and said, “That makes sense. The summoning ritual that Melvin attempted is very complex and requires a great deal of mana. Even with him botching it, he probably got a ton of experience from it.”
“Do you think there is anything I can do to level up faster?”, Mrs. Hodgins asked Kalliphae.
She looked at me then back at the scholar, “What skills do you have? Do you know?”
Mrs. Hodgins’ eyes glazed over as she pulled up her menu, “I have three skills, Inspect, Research, and Lecture. The problem is I don’t have any information worth using them on. There aren’t any books on actual magic.”
Kalli rubbed her chin thoughtfully, “That is a tough one. You are going to have to make contact with one of the families to get access to that information. I presume Lavender could help you, but it doesn’t sound like we will be able to go back there.”
I snapped my fingers, “I have an idea.”
I raced to the nearest shelf and picked out another book.
With a quick edit, the book began to transform. I said, “Watch this.”
An in-depth history of magic (Edited)
“Are you sure you’re a summoner?”, Kalliphae asked as she watched the transformation intently.
Mrs. Hodgins raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything about the previous class she saw in my menu. She reached out for the book, but didn’t pick it up, asking, “Is this for me?”
I grinned at the librarian, “Sure, but you’ll have to check it out first.”
We both laughed while Kalli looked at us like we were insane. She asked, “What’s checking out?”
Mrs. Hodgins stopped laughing and was suddenly all business, “You can apply for a library card and borrow 3 books for up to a week.”
Kalliphae gaped at us, “You let people borrow books from the library? Where I come from only nobles have that right.”
Mrs. Hodgins replied, “Would you like to learn more about this world? I can enroll you in some classes while you’re visiting our world.”
Kalli looked at me, Can I really do that?
Do you want to do that? What kind of kid wants to go to school?
She looked at me mournfully, The kind of kid who never got to go.
Kalliphae turned to Mrs. Hodgins and said, “Yes, I’d love to enroll in your school.”
Mrs. Hodgins clapped her hands together, “That’s great dear. I’ll get it all taken care of. Do you need a place to stay while you’re in our world? I have an extra bedroom at my house?”
Kalli looked at me and my heart dropped. She noticed and sent me reassuring thoughts, Look, Melvin, this is probably a good idea. It’s only a matter of time before I get caught by your mother then we will both be in trouble. What do you think she will do if she catches us?
I was speechless. I didn’t have a good answer for that. Before I had a chance to think up a reply she said, “I would love to stay at your house while I’m here. I was staying with Melvin, but his mom doesn’t know about me.”
“Oh my”, Mrs. Hodgins replied, “That must have been awful.”
Kalli felt my sadness and waved her hands, saying, “No, it wasn’t bad at all. I just don’t want to cause any more problems for Mel anymore.”
While I was still upset, I did like the fact that she gave me a nickname. I smiled and thought.
If it makes you happy then that works for me.
She returned my smile and thought back, And don't worry. As long as we stay in the group we can talk even when we're far apart.
That was going to be interesting. Mrs. Hodgins picked up the book and said, “I will go make the arrangements right now. For today, just hang out with Melvin here. I know he’s in detention and that’s bound to be boring, but we do have some interesting books about our world here if you want to check them out.”
Kalli waved her off, “Don’t worry Mrs. Hodgins, I’ll be fine. Mel and I have things to discuss anyways.”