Chapter 27 – Friend
The sky was consumed in different shades of grey and white, the sunlight barely managing to penetrate the thick whitened haze. No visibility, 100% humidity, it was a dull and grey day. The perfect weather for my current mood.
It’s been a moment since I parted ways with Aoban, but my heart is still unsettled. I haven’t completely calmed down yet. It might actually be the first time I had a big fight with him. I really don’t look forward to our next meeting…
I got in an argument with Aoban, I still don’t know how to get rid of Pikachu and I lost Frost. Talk about having a bad day… I was now heading to the library. I wanted to clear my mind, and with the sky filled with clouds threatening to transform the scenery into a giant puddle anytime, it was the perfect day for a read. Besides, what better source of information than a library?
It was almost evening. With the classes over, the corridors and the courtyard were now filled with students. I tried to take a shortcut, but with so many people, it was difficult to avoid everyone.
“It’s all your fault!”
“Please, give me another chance!”
“You already had your chance! We’re done here!”
“I’ll work harder! I’ll do my best so-”
“That’s not enough, you keep ruining everything!”
Great. A group of students arguing. What a timing. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to get myself involved in it, especially since I just had an argument with my brother myself, so I simply tried to ignore it. However, as I was just about to pass by them, one of the said student fell right in front of me, barely avoiding me.
“Are you alright?” I asked, offering a hand, no longer able to continue ignoring the matter.
The young girl on the floor looked up at me. When our eyes met, she gasped in surprise, but she quickly regained her composure.
“Yes, thank you,” she replied as she took my hand. “I’m so sorry, I hope I didn’t hurt you!”
When she got up, I noticed she was actually much taller than me. I know I’m short, but even so, the difference in height really surprised me. She was at least a head taller than me. Height aside, she looked like your plain regular teenage girl, I guess.
“Let’s go,” a voice ordered.
I turned my attention to the group of students with whom the girl was arguing and who were just about to leave.
“Shouldn’t you at least apologize?” I stopped them. “You pushed her, didn’t you?”
The one who seemed to be the leader clicked his tongue in annoyance after glaring at me.
“Mind your own business,” he groaned with a stern voice.
Recalling my brother’s words, I suddenly felt the flash of annoyance coming. This is exactly why I didn’t want to get involved inin th…
“What? Got a problem?” The boy asked with arrogance, as he saw the corner of my lip twitch.
Before I had a chance to reply anything, one on his pal grabbed his arm and whispered something in his ear. I couldn’t hear it, but I could guess. I could read my name on his lips. He was warning him about me. The boy once again clicked his tongue. Then, with much reluctance, he turned around, probably deciding it was wiser to ignore me. But…
“Apologize,” I insisted.
“I-It’s fine!” The girl stammered. “You don’t have to worry about it.”
I was being stubborn, I know. But to be honest, I just wanted to vent my renewed frustration on him.
The boy faced me, took a threatening step and approached his face to mine.
“I’M SO-RRY,” he said through clenched teeth. “Happy?”
After this ingenuine apology, he rejoined his friends. He gave me one last glare before disappearing in the corridors.
I turned my gaze on the young girl, who was now displaying a weak smile.
“And sorry about that,” she added. “I got you involved in my problems.”
“No problem. They were in the wrong.”
“No, it was my fault…” She said in a whisper, before letting out a somewhat forced chuckle. “But it’s fine, I’m used to it!”
“Used to it?” I repeated, my eyes squinted. “Are they harassing you?”
“N-No, it’s not like that!” She immediately denied, her eyes widened, clearly taken aback by my question. “They’re not such bad people! They’re- We’re in the same working group. Well, were.”
Oh, I see. I’ve heard about it. Here, only half of evaluations are based on your own merit. Since this academy aim to form future soldiers, adventurers or diplomats, it emphasizes teamwork a lot, which is why the other half are group evaluations. Students were thus compelled to belong to a working group. Although it might seem unfair at first, this rating system was actually quite representative of each students’ worth. Most of the time, there were hardly any difference in the level of members from the same group. Birds of a feather flock together. The best students teamed up together, while the weakest ones didn’t have the luxury of choice. In the end, the groups were quite uniform.
As for me, I didn’t have a group yet. I had yet to be evaluated so I was not assigned to any group. And finding one? I can’t even find a friend.
Anyway, I think I’m starting to see the bigger picture. They probably failed an evaluation and argued about it. I heard disputes are quite frequent when it comes to project groups.
“Don’t worry about it, you’ll make up.” I tried to cheer the girl in front of me.
But it didn’t seem to have worked as she sighed loudly.
“Not this time,” she complained.
“It was my last chance. They kicked me out. I’m no longer part of the group. ”
I raised an inquisitive brow.
“I’m not very talented,” she explained with a faint smile when she saw my expression. “I’m slow and clumsy, and I have troubles following everyone. I’m always a burden to them. And this time, I really screwed up big. Because of me, our group dropped in the general ranking.”
“So they kicked you out?”
“That’s just mean.”
She seemed really depressed about it. She didn’t seem like she was slacking off. Quite the contrary, she gave the impression of being a hardworking person, so I just felt that I needed to say something to comfort her. Hearing me, the young girl looked at me with round and surprised eyes. Then, despite her situation, she started chuckling.
“You’re a kind person,” she giggled.
Her words really made me feel awkward. I was genuinely sorry for her, but at the same time, I could also understand to some extent how frustrating it must be to have someone slowing you down.
“You are,” the girl asserted with a friendly grin. “You don’t even know me but you took my side. And you’re also cheering me up. You have a gentle heart.”
I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, so I tried to suppress a smile to hide my embarrassment. I was used to flattery. Be it from my mother or from the maids, I received compliments on a daily basis. At some point, it became something normal. However, being praised by a total stranger was completely different. If I learned to remain unfazed by the servants’ flattery, it was somehow delightful to be complimented by this young girl.
I guess it’s pretty nice to talk to people sometimes.
Huh? Wait a second. I’ve just realized it, but aren’t I having a normal conversation with someone my age?
It’s… IT’S MY CHANCE!
Calm down Lynett, don’t screw it up. Act normal. This is your one chance to get a friend that will not threaten to destroy a whole kingdom if she’s upset. Your social life depends on this. She seems friendly and she doesn’t look too intimidated by me. This is perfect. Stay natural.
I cleared my throat.
“Do you know what happens to deposed kings?” I inquired.
The young girl tilted her head.
“Mhm? They get replaced?” She tried to guess.
“They get throne away!”
What’s with that awkward silence? She’s not reacting at all!
“Oh, was that supposed to be a joke?” She eventually asked as she finally understood. “That was funny, haha.”
I get it. It wasn’t funny at all. You don’t have to force yourself to laugh. Damn it, I’m so embarrassed. And I ruined this perfect opportunity. I should have just asked for her name…
“By the way, my name’s Vivian,” the young girl then introduced herself with a gentle smile.
Huh? She just… Ooooh!
“M-My name’s Lynett!” I exclaimed awkwardly.
“Yes, I know.” She chuckled a little.
“I recognized you. Your eyes, your hair… You’re the new student, right? And Aoban Whiteheart’s younger sister.”
So she does know after all. I thought she might not have been aware of it since she didn’t try to immediately avoid me, but I guess it’s not the case.
“That’s right,” I sighed.
Vivian waited for me to re-establish an eye-contact before giving me a half smile.
“Well, it was nice to meet you Lynett,” she said. “I guess I’ll leave you alone. I won’t bother you anymore than that. You were heading somewhere, right?”
Oh. She’s leaving.
“Yeah, I was going to the library,” I responded with a small voice, my previous enthusiasm now completely gone.
Vivan widened her eyes in surprise. She gave a quick glance behind her before returning her attention to me.
“But… Uhm. The library isn’t that way,” she explained after hesitating a bit.
Lukas, this is all your fault. Had you done your job properly and made me visit this god damn school, I wouldn’t have gotten lost. I’m totally blaming you. I must really look like an idiot…
As she didn’t get an answer, Vivan broke the silence first.
“If it’s okay with you, should I accompany you?”
Huh? I looked up at the girl in front of me. She was displaying her brightest smile.
“Y-Yes please!” I blurted out, almost by reflex. “If that’s not bothering you!”
“No it’s fine, I needed to borrow books anyway! Follow me. I’ll show you the way.”
An angel! She must be angel! She is so kind! I wasn’t sure whether she understood that I was trying to befriend her, or she simply proposed to accompany me out of courtesy, but either way, I was just grateful.
I happily followed Vivian as she guided me through the corridors of the academy. This time, however, I made sure to let her lead the conversation. I’ve never really been chatty, so I wasn’t sure what to talk about. But more importantly, I didn’t want to take the risk to ruin the mood by making another lame joke.
As I thought, Vivian is really kind. I could already tell. She seemed like a really cheerful girl and, unlike me, she never seemed to run out of subject to talk about. My complete opposite. I wonder how old is she? She’s taller than me, so I suppose she’s older. But then again, she seemed taller than most girls. Ah, I’m jealous. Looking more closely, she also seemed kind of cute. Yeah, a bit of make-up, and with that face and height, she would’ve totally been able to become a model by my old world’s standards.
After a few minutes, we finally arrived. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention at all to the route so I probably won’t be able to come back here on my own. I was too focused on Vivian…
The library was as large as I expected it to be. The walls of the room were covered with shelves, leaving only a small gap for the door. There were row after row of neatly lined up books, and a nice scent of paper filled the air. With most bookshelves reaching all the way to the ceiling, there were even little ladders on rails to let you reach the top books easily.
It was just like in movies. It was my first time being in an academic library, and I was definitely not disappointed.
“Here we are!” Vivian announced. “Are you looking for something in particular?”
“Uhm… Not really,”I replied. “Books about magic in general I guess.”
“Are you a mage?”
“Me too!” Vivian added with a huge smile. “What a coincidence! I’m sure you and I will get along!”
This is it, right? She basically just offered me her friendship, right?!
I shyly returned her smile when she suddenly took my hand.
“Come here!” Vivian instructed as she forcibly guided me through the study tables.
S-Slow down! Unlike you, I have short legs!
Eventually, she stopped in front of what seemed to be the magic section.
“Pick anything you like!” She said with a proud smile.
The books were arranged in alphabetical order. Anything I like, huh?
Magic 4 Kids. Magic as Easy as 1, 2, 3. Mana is an Open Spell-book. The Wizard King. And even a title that reminds me of that one edition who used to be so popular on Earth. Magic for fools…
I looked up at Vivian, who seemed to be waiting for me to pick something.
“Uhm… Aren’t those children books?” I asked.
“Not really?” She tilted her head to the side. “Isn’t it what you were looking for?”
“I was hoping for something more serious and more detailed.”
“Is that so? You won’t find anything else here though.”
“This library is divided in different floors, and the books are arranged by level.” Vivian explained. “The ground floor is the beginner level.”
“A-All those books are for children?!”
“Not exactly. Although it’s true they’re mainly aimed at younger audience, since it’s often at this age people are initiated to magic, they can also be read by adults! Some of them are even specifically made for the illiterates, with almost no text and only images.”
Wow. There is at least half a million books here. And there are all meant for novices? Gods.
“The thing is, I learned the basis of magic a long time ago,” I explained. “So I was expecting something more… advanced.”
“Then it’s going to be a problem…” Vivian muttered with a long face.
“Lynett, you didn’t pass the test, right? You probably don’t have access to the upper floors yet.”
I furrowed my brows. “I need a permission to borrow books?”
“Yes, of course.”
What do you mean, of course? I can understand arranging books by their levels. It’s actually a pretty smart idea. But limiting their access? I get that books are precious here, but what’s the point? What did I come here for, then?
“If you want, I can borrow some books for you.” Vivian proposed, as she saw the disappointment in my expression.
“You can do that?” I asked with a renewed enthusiasm.
“Well, I don’t have access to the last floors, but I can at least borrow you intermediate level books.”
She’s an angel. I’m sure about it now, she’s an angel.
“Then I’m counting on you,” I told her with a serious tone.
Vivian chuckled a bit. “Any preferences? You said you were looking for books about magic, right?”
“Summoning magic,” I specified after thinking for a while. “Oh, and if you find anything about demons, it would be also appreciated.”
I hesitated asking her for books about soul magic. However, not only I’m not sure I’ll find anything here, but since it’s a forbidden magic, I also don’t think it’s wise to ask this to someone I just met -although she does seem very nice.
“Alright, I’ll find you these,” Vivian exclaimed. “I’ll be back in a moment, wait for me, okay?”
As she left for the staircase, I sat at one of the tables, letting my gaze wander freely in the library. Although it was the beginner floor, and its books should be mainly aimed at children, there weren’t so many children here. In fact, there were mostly people my age. Teenagers, or even young adults. Vivian was right. Adults did read those books with childish-sounding titles. Well, why not? As long as the content is good. After all, it’s true that not all beginners were children. Thinking about it, only nobility had the privilege to send their children at school at a young age like this. Most people would start their apprenticeship in their teenage years.
After waiting for about twenty minutes, Vivian finally returned, her arms carefully wrapping a bunch of books.
She neatly lined all the books on the table so I could see them better.
“These are for you,” Vivian said, as she pointed the first two books. Fundamentals of Arcane Familiars and Shadowbringers. “I hope this is what you were looking for. I wanted to to bring you some more, but I can only borrow four books at once.”
“It’s more than enough! Thank you very much!”
Delighted, I took the two books. They were old and heavy, but the leather still felt soft as I ran my finger over the gold lettering. I had almost forgotten this feeling of excitement when you got a new book -although they’re not exactly mine. Then, my eyes fell upon the two remaining books.
Aqua Pura and Guidebook of Healing Rituals.
“What about these?” I asked.
“They’re for me,” Vivian responded as she took a seat next to me.
“You’re a water mage?”
“Yes,” she replied, her lips proudly curling into a smirk. “What about you?”
“Huh? W-Well, I haven’t specialized yet.”
“I see. I heard the Whitehearts have a high affinity to the Light attribute. You should become a healer!”
A healer, huh? That’s not a bad idea. I remember I once wanted to become a healer. But if I officially specialize in Support magic, won’t it mean I’ll have to completely rely on my teammates when it comes to battles? And what about solo battles? Mmh. Maybe not after all. However, it’s true that I’ll have to choose a specialization soon. It’s better not to let the world know that I can do anything.
At that moment, a clanging sound echoed through the campus. A pealing of bells announced it was now five o’clock.
Vivian got up and carefully placed her books in her arms.
“Heh? You’re leaving?” I asked.
“Yes,” she responded. “I hadn’t notice it was already this late.”
Oh, of course. She’s a student too, she must have things to do. To think I took her time even though she was busy… I couldn’t bring myself to hold her back, although I was a little disheartened to see her leave.
“Sorry, I can’t stay, but I hope you’ll enjoy your books!” Vivian said with a friendly smile.
“It’s fine! Don’t mind me.”
We probably won’t meet again, right? This academy is huge, and there is over 10,000 students here. The probability of bumping into her again is pretty low… Thinking about this, I mustered my courage and called her out.
“Vivian! Will I see you again?”
The young girl glanced at me with round eyes, her head slightly tilted. After a short moment of silence, a grin played on her lips.
“Sure!” She responded, the broad smile on her face growing. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”
Eh… Eh?! Really?
“Besides, I’ll have to return these eventually,” she continued as she pointed the two books she lent me. “They’re under my name.”
Oh. Right. Of course.
As she was about to leave, Vivian abruptly stopped and turned in my direction one more time.
“How about tonight?” She inquired.
“Tonight?” I repeated, my brows furrowed.
“Yes, if it’s okay with you, how about we eat together tonight?”
“Cool! Then eight o’clock at the Glasshouse refectory. Okay?”
She waved at me with a gentle smile before leaving the library, this time for sure.
I HAVE A FRIEND! Hahahaha! How about that Frost? No tails, no golden eyes, a real normal human friend! Moreover, I’m eating with her tonight! Hehehe, a meal with a friend. How long have I dreamt about this? Damn, I want brag about it. I want to go home and tell mom that I’m eating with a friend. I’m definitely regressing mentally. But who cares? After all, I have a friend! Today is a great day!
After Vivian left, it took me a while to calm myself down. If from an outside perspective I was completely composed, in my head, my brain cells had already decided to throw the biggest party of the year.
I’m an idiot.
Once I completely regain my cool, I decided to read the books Vivian had gotten for me as I had time to kill until the evening meal, and since I was in a library, there was no better thing to do.
I decided to start with the book about summoning magic, Fundamentals of Arcane Familiars, and I finally have a way to get rid of Pikachu. Thinking about it, it should have been obvious. I feel so stupid…
Magical beasts feed on mana, so familiars are entirely dependent on their owner. Once their owner run out of mana, they can no longer maintain a material form so they disappear until being summoned again. There is another way to force them to disappear though. By defeating them. Familiars don’t die. Once they are defeated, they simply vanished and can’t be summoned again for a certain period of time. The cooldown time entirely depend on the condition of the familiar and its master.
I haven’t passed a contract with Pikachu, so he isn’t a familiar. But his situation isn’t so different. All magical beasts are territorial. If you defeat them, unlike familiars they won’t vanish, but they will still leave the area, searching for another territory. So basically, I just need to beat Pikachu up until he decides to leave. This is totally animal abuse, isn’t it? I’m quite reluctant to do it… Moreover, there is one more problem. Since Pikachu isn’t a familiar, he might actually die if I go to hard on him. I created him so I feel responsible for him. I don’t want to keep him, that’s for sure, but I don’t want to kill him either. I mean, creating him just to kill him afterwards? That would be so cruel…
I decided to leave things as they are for the moment. I’ll figure something out. Eventually…
I had stayed in here for quite a long time, now. It should be almost time. I left the library, heading to my room. I had to ask for the way several time since I had no idea how to get there. Turns out that the library isn’t that far from my dormitory.
Looking at the sky, I could guess it was about 7:30 p.m. Throughout the years, I learned to tell the time by tracking the sun’s position in the sky. That’s how most people did without a clock or a watch. I did have a pocket watch, but since I rarely went out, I never really took the habit to always wear it.
When I finally arrived in front of my room, I noticed the door was unlocked. Was Nomi inside? I opened the door, and I saw her. My roommate was seated on her bed, facing the entrance. She was leaning forward, her elbows resting on her knees with her fingers intertwined. Her face was devoid of expression, her eyes however… She looked furious.
“W-What?” I asked, a bit hesitant. “You scared me. Were you waiting for me? What’s with that expression?”
Without breaking the eye contact, Nomi lifted her left hand to show me something.
“What is this?” She questioned coldly.
As I followed the direction of her hand, my eyes fell upon what was left of the closet Pikachu destroyed this morning before fleeing. A wooden skeleton of charcoal.
Nevermind, Pikachu, you’re dead.