Chapter 29 – Rival
This has to be a joke… I have been waiting for this day forever and this is a huge let down.
My first magic lesson.
It has already been a little more than a week since I arrived here, and I had yet to practice magic. Regardless of their major, the students of this academy followed the same kind of syllabus. Two weeks of theoretical classes, two weeks of practical classes, and a final examination at the end of the month. According to their results, students could be promoted or demoted to another class. Since I wasn’t admitted to this school the traditional way, I was assigned to the beginner class. It didn’t particularly bother me, since I knew I’d have the opportunity to get into a better class once the monthly examination was over, but now I’m starting to lose patience.
“Now begin to bring awareness to your breath, as you feel the lightness of your body,” the teacher instructed with a soft voice. “Your mind is completely aware, your body is completely relaxed. You are present, you are here, you are one.”
I know this is the beginner class, but are they being serious right now? It’s been almost two hours that we’ve been doing the same breathing exercises.
That’s right. They were teaching us how to control mana. This was something I always took for granted before so I had almost forgotten, but it’s true that normal people first needed to learn how to use mana before learning how to use magic. Only now I realize how lucky I was, never to have to go through that unlock-your-chakra bullshit. I’m definitely not patient enough for meditation.
I want to return to my room…
The worst about it? This class is mandatory. I can skip theoretical classes just fine -and I did-, but practical classes are mandatory. Which means I’ll have to endure this for two entire weeks. And here I thought magic school would be fun...
“Lynett?” The teacher called, as she saw me zoning out. “Is something wrong?”
“Er… No, everything’s fine,” I replied.
“Stay focused. It is important to clear your mind so that you can feel the mana flowing in your body.”
I can feel the mana just fine…
The exercise continued for at least another hour before the teacher decided it was time for a break. Another minute and I would’ve really passed out of boredom.
“It’s exhausting… Who would have thought it’d be this hard to become a mage?”
“Right? I should have chosen the swordsmanship major!”
“I think I’m making some progress! I could feel my body burning hot with energy!”
“Really? This must be your mana!”
Nah, it’s called a headache. This is what happens when you stay in the sun for too long. It was kind of cute though. That innocence. Magic as always been as easy as 1, 2, 3 for me, so I can’t really relate.
As I kept listening to the other students’ conversations, one of them said something that caught my attention.
“Look, that’s Mustache!”
I turned in the direction of their gaze and I noticed Mr. Glenn. Among the students, he was best known as Mr.Mustache, or just Mustache. The reason? The splendid mustache he was growing, one that could put even Friedrich Nietzsche to shame.
“What’s he doing here?”
What, indeed. Mr. Glenn was a well known teacher. If I remember well, he teaches Magic Empowerment to the most advanced classes. For what reason did he come here to see us, rookies who are still learning how to control mana?
"Mr. Glenn!” Our teacher exclaimed when she spotted him.
“Greetings, Mrs. Olga,” he responded with a friendly smile. “Am I bothering?”
“Of course not! We were just having a break.”
The two teachers discussed for a while under the curious gazes of the students. Eventually, Mr. Glenn turned his head in our direction and Mrs. Olga clapped her hands a couple of times to attract our attention. She waited for us to fall silent before clearing her throat.
“Mr. Glenn came to visit us. Why don’t you greet him?”
“Hello Mr. Glenn!” We shout out in unison.
The old teacher chuckled loudly.
“You still seem full of energy!” He joked as he started twirling his mustache. “Are you children listening to Mrs. Olga well?”
Mr. Glenn nodded proudly. “Good, good! Mrs. Olga may be a new teacher, but she is no less outstanding! Study well, and you may find yourself in one of my classes in a few years!”
“Heard that? Mustache’s class!”
“Can you imagine being in one of the advanced classes?”
Mr. Glenn’s few words were enough to encourage the whole class. A sudden positive energy quickly spread among the students. Their whisperings did not go unnoticed as the two teachers exchanged chuckles. Once the ambient noise finally subsided, Mr. Glenn cleared his throat.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to check on the other classes.”
He saluted our teacher before turning in our direction. Then, as he was about to leave, his gaze stopped on me.
“Well, well. A new face!” He commented as he continued playing with his facial hair. “A Chosen One I’ve never seen before. Could she be…?”
He glanced at Mrs. Olga who simply nodded at him. His smile widened.
“The famous Lynett!” He then exclaimed as he came closer. “I’ve heard so much about you!”
Mr. Glenn wasn’t really that old. He was, at most, in his fifties. However, as he continued to pat my head enthusiastically, he reminded me of a grandpa.
“I’m surprised to see you here!” He added with a childlike smile.
“Well, I didn’t pass the entrance exam,” I tried to answer as I rearranged my hair before he cut me off.
“Right, right, the entrance exam…”
Mr. Glenn fell silent as he continued to mumble something under his beard, his mustache curling around his finger. I can tell it’s a habit and I probably shouldn’t be watching but it was weirdly fascinating. As I kept staring at his mouth, it didn’t take me long to notice the smirk forming on his lips.
“I know!” He then exclaimed. He leaned forward to reach my eye level and rested a hand on my shoulder. “Why don’t you accompany me?”
I raised a dubious eyebrow, trying to understand the meaning behind his words. Without even giving me a chance to reply, Mr. Glenn turned to his colleague.
“Mrs. Olga, would you mind if I borrow you a student?”
Although she seemed a little concerned at first, when Mrs. Olga understood he was referring to me, her expression quickly softened.
“Well, if it’s Lynett, I guess it’s not a problem,” she considered. “It’s not like if this young lady was invested in my classes anyway.”
I know she said that jokingly, but I couldn’t help but break into a nervous laughter in embarrassment when I heard her, especially since she does have a point. Mrs. Olga definitely isn’t a bad teacher, but hey. Anyone would be bored if they had to attend to a beginner class of something they’ve already mastered.
In the end, without consulting me, the two teachers agreed that I would go with Mr. Glenn. For what, I don’t know, but I’m not complaining. Since the class was about to resume, we left our own way, leaving the not so enthusiastic students with Mrs. Olga.
As we walked, I realized that Mr. Glenn wasn’t as talkative as he seemed. He didn’t say a single word. He simply glanced my way once in a while to make sure that I was following him, smiled, and kept going. Since I realized he wasn’t the one who was going to break the silence, I spoke first.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
Mr. Glenn grinned at my sudden interest, as if he had been waiting for me to ask.
“At the beginning of the week, I usually like to visit different classes” he explained. “It’s part of my job to keep an eye on the students and their progression.” He marked a pause, bringing a palm to his neck, and glanced at me over his shoulder. “I’m in charge of this department, you see?” He added.
His grin grew wider.
“I’m flattered!” He said half-joking.
Mr. Glenn wasn’t just a teacher. He was also responsible of this school’s magic department. As far as I know, while the headmaster was in charge of supervising the school, each department of this academy also had a head teacher. Mr. Glenn was one of them. Usually discharged of their duties as a teacher for two half-days or one day a week, they also had the responsibility of supervising the other teachers of their department, their students, and ensure that the standards in teaching and learning are being achieved. Kind of like an educational inspector.
“Is this where you’re bringing me?” I inquired. “To another class?”
“Well, I don’t mind some company,” he admitted. “Besides, I thought it would be more interesting for you. From what I’ve heard, you already can use some magic. Mrs. Olga’s classes mustn't be very challenging, right?”
I really didn’t want to bad-mouth Mrs. Olga in front of her superior, but remembering her meditation sessions, I couldn’t help but agree.
“Not really,” I mumbled.
“I thought so!”
As I heard Mr. Glenn chortling out loud at my side, I deemed wiser not to ask anything else. Thus, the rest of the walk passed off in silence.
Ultimately, after a quarter of an hour, we arrived at our destination. The first thing I noticed was the difference in the working environment. Most practical classes were conducted outdoors, but while our class only looked for an empty open space, this area was actually designed for real training. Dummies for the students to practice on, some devices I didn’t know of, and a lot of obstacles arranged for real circuit training. Yeah. This is definitely closer to what I had in mind when I thought of practical classes.
The area wasn’t empty, and it didn’t take long for the class that was using it to notice our arrival. There were about sixty students for only one teacher. Definitely not a small class.
“Mrs. Borge!” Mr. Glenn called out.
A female teacher in her thirties turned in our direction. Dressed in a simple but practical blue robes, she already seemed much more of a magic teacher than Mrs. Olga.
“Mr. Glenn,” she greeted us in a neutral manner as we went to meet her. “May I help you?”
“Oh no, don’t mind me!” Mr. Glenn exclaimed. “I’m just here to observe, as usual.”
“And this is?” Mrs. Borge asked when her eyes fell upon me.
“Right, this is Lynett. A transfer student. Would you mind if she joins your class this one time?”
The female teacher tilted her head and furrowed an eyebrow as she raised a hand to stroke her chin.
“Well, I don’t think this is a problem, but we’re almost done,” she then responded.
“Perfect!” Mr. Glenn declared, ignoring her last remark. “Lynett, why don’t you go sit over there?” He suggested as he turned my way.
I nodded and, following his hand gesture, I walked to join Mrs. Borge students to sit among them. Becoming the center of their attention, I could feel myself growing uneasy. However, among the curious stares, I soon noticed the insisting gaze of a familiar face. A relieved and delighted grin drawing on my face, I made my way through the crowd of students and hurried to sit at her side.
“What are you doing here?” Vivian exclaimed, as discreetly as she could.
I shrugged. “Mr. Glenn brought me here.”
“I can see that, but-”
Mrs. Borge loudly cleared her throat.
“Silence please,” she demanded, staring in our direction. “We will now continue the class. Have some patience, it’s almost over.”
Mrs. Borge seemed naturally charismatic. She had an authoritative, yet soothing voice. It didn’t take long for the gossips to die down and for the students to become attentive again.
It took a few minutes, but eventually, the teacher stopped looking our way as she resumed her class.
“So, what were you doing with Mustache?” Vivian whispered, her curiosity unwavering.
“He came to my class and then he just brought me along.”
I shrugged. “Who knows?”
Vivian squinted her eyes, trying to read my expression. “You’re really something else,” she then blurted out.
“Why?” I inquired, my brows furrowed.
“You’ve just transferred, and you’ve already caught the eyes of the head teacher,” she explained.
“Isn’t it exactly because I transfered that I caught his eyes?”
She tilted her head, and after a while, she let out loud sigh.
“You’re probably right.”
Looking around me and inspecting the other students, I noticed no other familiar face -not that I know a lot of people anyway. They were all quite engaged in their lesson. The students listened attentively to the teacher and carefully observed their classmates practicing, waiting for their turn.
“So that’s your class, huh?” I asked. “They are all so diligent.”
“That’s because Mustache is here,” Vivian explained. “They’re not usually so attentive.”
“He is in charge of the advanced classes after all, they want to impress him.”
Oho, I see.
“Besides, as a head teacher, he is also one of the jury of the selection board,” Vivian added.
“The selection board?”
“Yeah, you know, for the examinations at the end of each month. They decide if you stay in your current class or if you’re promoted or demoted to another class.”
No wonder. Basically, he’s one of the big guys. He gets to decide of your future within this academy. Well, coming from a head teacher, I guess it was to be expected. But looking at his nonchalant face, it was still hard to believe. He really gave off a strong grandpa next door vibe, although he was not that old. Then again, in this world, it was not uncommon to become a grandparent in your forties.
Returning my attention to class, it looked that the students took turns to practice their magic in front of the teacher. The exercise seemed to be about hitting one of the six targets on the yard, all set five meters apart from each others. The most basic training method when it comes to long-ranged attacks. The exercise didn’t seem too difficult. The targets were unmoving and big enough to be hard to miss, yet, less than half of the students managed to hit them. Listening to the Mrs. Borge’s explanations, it looks like the main problem is the students’ limited range of control over their mana.
“Alright, I think that’s enough for today,” the teacher finally announced. “It’s wasn’t so bad, I can see some progress.”
The tired students’ face brightened at her words.
“Nobody tried to hit the thirty meters target though,” Mrs. Borge noted. “Since the class is ending, does anyone want to try?”
The students were hesitant, understandably so. The ten meters target didn’t seem to pose too much of a problem, the five meters one even less. The difficulty seemed to start at fifteen meters, and so far, no one managed to hit the target at twenty meters, so of course, hitting a target at thirty meters away would appear impossible. Still, a couple a hands went up. I understood soon enough, seeing the quick glances given to Mr. Glenn. The presence of the head teacher was tempting. The more Mrs. Borge waited, the more hands rose. However, at some point, a student volunteered more confidently than his peers, which the teacher didn’t miss.
“Lucius,” she called him out. “Why don’t you show your classmates what you’re capable of?”
“Yes, Mrs. Borge.”
In an assured manner, the boy called Lucius stood up and made his way through the other students to join the teacher.
“What, Lucius again?”
“Such a teacher’s pet.”
The boy didn’t seem very popular among his peers. But seeing the other students averting their gaze when the boy glared at them, I could tell that his confidence was probably not just for show.
“Vivian,” I called out in a small voice. “Is he good?”
“Rather than good, he’s excellent,” Vivian conceded after letting out a long sigh. “He’s the best of our class. The teacher always calls him for a final demonstration at the end of the class, supposedly to motivate us.”
The best of this class, huh? Well then, let’s see what he’s worth.
“Whenever you’re ready,” Mrs. Borge said.
The boy nodded. He closed his eyes for a few seconds and took a deep breath. The other students all fell silent. Despite the fact that they didn’t seem to appreciate him, they were still very interested in his performance. Suddenly, following his chant, a fire ball gushed out of the boy’s hand to reach the target without a problem. In an instant, the previous silence disappeared, commotion rising among the students in awe. Even the teacher was clapping.
“Wow, you saw that?”
“He really hit the target!”
“That fire ball was huge!”
“As expected of Lucius.”
As everyone was praising the boy, only one person was left unimpressed: me.
I was genuinely confused. I didn’t understand the cheers. This is the best student of the class? From my point of view, his performance was mediocre. Out of all those who tried before him, he had the worst control of his mana. The only reason why he hit the target was that he used an enormous amount of mana, to make sure the fireball wouldn’t change its course. But that’s just reckless. Such a simple spell shouldn’t use this much mana. In a real battle situation, he would have collapsed within the five first minutes. And that fireball wasn’t that big. His was definitely bigger than the students’ before him, but that’s just because he kept fueling it with mana. Besides, it had the same size of the fireball my aunt did twelve years ago. Does that make her a genius or are they just over-impressed because they’re inexperienced?
“Vivian, what did you think of his performance?”
“Huh?” The girl beside me tilted her head. “It was awesome, wasn’t it?”
As I thought. I think I get it. They are merely judging his performance by what they see. Physically. Mana can’t be seen. It’s something that you feel. Thinking about it, I think Yoko mentioned something like that before. Humans do not have the ability to feel mana -not without a device. Their affinity to magic isn’t high enough. They can feel strong disturbances but that’s about it. So it’s no wonder they were impressed by Lucius’ magic. His fireball’s size was definitely bigger than the others’, and it did reach its target. But at what cost?
“Very impressive,” Mrs. Borge acclaimed. “Now then, does anyone else want to try?”
“Not after Lucius…”
This time, there were no volunteers. It seems that rather than motivating them, Lucius’ performance was totally discouraging them. It’s understandable though. No one would want to try after the -supposedly- best student.
“I want you all to work hard until you can all do the same. Next time we’ll-”
Mrs. Borge didn’t finish her sentence as she was startled by a sudden hand rising up in the air -mine.
“Lynett, what are you-” Vivian started before I cut her off.
“I would like to try, please.” I announced, loud enough so that everyone could hear me.
As the other students all turned in my direction in surprise, Mrs. Borge gave a quick glance to Mr. Glenn, as if to ask if it was okay. Mr. Glenn nodded with a smile, and Mrs. Borge returned her attention to me.
“Alright, Lynett is it?” She spoke up. “Go ahead.”
Following the teacher’s order, I stood up to join Lucius. He was glaring at me, clearly not pleased by the fact that I was trying to steal his spotlight. Well, sorry, but it can’t be helped Lucius.
I don’t want a spotlight. I don’t need a spotlight. Standing out won’t do me anything good, but this time, I’ll make an exception. After all, circumstances have changed.
I haven’t forgotten my main goal in this Academy: the Great Tournament. Considering the fact that over fifty schools will take part to the competition, each school has a limited number of participants. One hundred students per school. The Arcane Academy has over ten thousand students. One hundred out of ten thousand… That’s the top one percent. So if I want to participate, I need to stand out. And quickly. The tournament takes place in five months, but the play-off will begin a month before that. And in order to to give them the best possible odds, most schools will train their candidates for at least a month. Which means the tournament participants will be selected within the next three months. Time is against me.
So sorry about that Lucius.
As I approached, the boy stepped aside, still glaring.
“You know what you have to do, right?” Mrs. Borge asked.
Locking the target with my eyes, I raised my arm and focused mana in my hand. At this point, controlling my mana was as easy as controlling any part of my body. Unlike my peers, who needed at least a few seconds to focus their mana into one point, in an instant, my mana was concentrated at the end of my hand, ready to be launched. However, as I realized something, I immediately interrupted the magic.
I don’t know any chants! I had completely forgotten. Revealing that I can use [Voiceless Incantations] is definitely not an option so what do I do? I could have stolen Lucius’ chants but I absolutely wasn’t paying attention to it so I can’t remember it…!
Noticing my sudden pause, the teacher called me out.
“Lynett? Are you alright?”
“Y-Yes, one moment, please!”
“What in she doing?”
“Is she nervous?”
Lucius didn’t miss the occasion to affirm his superiority.
“So what, were you just for show?” He mocked arrogantly.
“Lucius, let her focus,” Mrs. Borge demanded.
The boy didn’t add anything else, but the sneer on his face indicated me that he was no longer considering me a threat.
Shit. That god damn chant.
Wait. A chant is a chant, right? Mages create their own chants when they come up with a new spell. In other words, it doesn’t have to mean anything. As long as I say something.
A smirk appeared on my face and Lucius frowned at my renewed confidence.
Once again, a raised my arm and focused my mana at the end of it.
With this one word of mine, a fireball appeared and shoot the target. Swift and precise. Since I still didn’t have a full grasp of the average level of a student here, I made sure it would be exactly the same size as Lucius’ fireball.
The lack of reactions bothering me, I turned around to inspect the other students. They were frozen in place, all looking at the target with dumbfounded faces. The atmosphere suddenly stiffened up, the first one to pull themselves together was the teacher.
“V-Very impressive!” She exclaimed as naturally as possible.
Weird. Is it the chant after all?
“She reached it…”
“Just like Lucius!”
“No, wasn’t it even better than Lucius?”
Hearing this last remark, Lucius clenched his fist, glaring furiously at me. Then, he turned to the teacher.
“Mrs. Borge!” He called out. “I would like to try again!”
A little startled at first, the teacher didn’t seem to find any inconvenience with that -after all, students were finally willing to hit that thirty meters target.
“Yes, of course, go ahead.”
The boy shot me one last deadly glare before focusing on the target. Once again, he closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.
“Ô Ignis, I implore thee! I cry foul, feel the wrath within me. Devour my soul and bring destruction before me! 『Fireball』!”
Ah, what a fool. This time, he put even more mana in it.
The spell did work, though. The fireball, which appeared even bigger than before, hit the target. And just like that, a new commotion rose among the students.
“Wow, did you see that?”
“It’s even bigger!”
“Lucius is the best after all!”
The boy, cheered up by his audience’s acclaims, puffed out proudly his chest and turned to me, a presumptuous grin on his face.
Ah… How childish.
The students fell silent again as I launched a second fireball to the target. Once again, I adapted its size to Lucius’ fireball. The boy, whose grin disappeared faster than lightning, froze in disbelief. After a while, finally coming back to his senses, and without even asking for the teacher’s permission this time, he immediately started chanting again.
“Ô Ignis, I implore thee! I cry foul, feel the wrath within me. Devour my soul and bring destruction before me! 『Fireball』!”
As I expected, he once again concentrated more mana into his spell. This is madness. He is playing with fire. Unfortunately, this is not a game he can win. Not against me.
I launched another fireball to hit the target. Frustrated, the boy immediately retaliated.
“Ô Ignis, I implore thee! I cry foul, feel the wrath within me. Devour my soul and bring destruction before me! 『Fireball』!”
The teacher didn’t dare to interrupt our little clash, as the students simply watched, their mouths wide-open, unable to take their eyes off of us.
Lucius’ fireball was growing in size each time, but so was mine. However, while mine kept a steady course, his were progressively losing in speed and accuracy. He was exhausting his mana pool and it was starting to show. He quickly ran out of breath, cold sweat forming on his forehead. Although he was trying not to show it, it was obvious to all, his strength was leaving him. He kept rubbing his eyes, meaning that his vision was becoming blurry. He was going to pass out at any moment now.
I have to give it to him, he lasted longer than I thought.
“Why don’t we stop now?” I suggested.
But that angered him even more. Ignoring my proposition, the boy gathered every last bit of his strength to cast one last spell. However, this time, in the confusion, he messed his incantation up. One stutter. Just one stutter. This is all it takes for an incantation to fail. Lucius knew it.
He did manage to make a fireball appear, but this time, it was too unstable. He had no control over it. The fireball drifted randomly and ended up vanishing upon hitting the ground not even ten meters away from him.
Either from the shock or from exhaustion, the boy collapsed on the floor, his eyes locked on the spot where his fireball was extinguished. He missed the target. And I wasn’t going to miss it next. He knew it. It was his loss. Neither the students or the teacher said a word. Not even the students who were talking behind his back. Seeing him in this state, who would have the heart to say anything?
It can’t be helped, but I-
What are you doing Lucius? Why are your eyes wet?! Y-You’re not going to cry, are you?
As disappointment over took him, tears started to flow down on Lucius face.
He really is crying.
Come on, don’t do that to me. Aren’t you the one who started this? I am very uncomfortable with crying people.
Crap, crap, crap. He’s crying. In front of everyone. What about your pride, Lucius? Now the whole school is going to say that I made a boy cry.
As his sobbing became uncontrollable, everyone started to panic. The teacher tried to cheer him up, praising him his performance, but Lucius wasn’t listening. On the other hands, the students started to gossip among them, watching the scene their eyes full of pity. Some were glaring at me.
Ah, fuck. Now I’m starting to feel bad.
Well, he is just a kid after all. That fight wasn’t even fair to begin with.
Fine. You win.
As I raised my hand, preparing to launch another fireball, all eyes turned on me. They were probably thinking I was going to rub it in. But it was the contrary.
A fireball gushed out of my hand, but as soon as it appeared, I made it vanish. Unable to comprehend the scene, the students exchanged doubtful looks.
“Oh, what a shame! I ran out of mana!” I loudly exclaimed, making sure everyone one had heard me.
The awkward silence didn’t last long as the students quickly accepted my explanation. After all, there would be no other reasons why my fireball suddenly disappeared, right? Besides, from their perspective, it would make sense to run out of mana after casting so many spells -just like Lucius.
Speaking of Lucius, he quickly regained control of himself. After staring blankly at me for a few seconds, he wiped the tears off his face and got up.
“Hah, it’s my win!” He declared proudly, his fists resting on his chest in a triumphant pose.
Well, he sure recovers fast.
Lucius kept staring at me, his eyes full of confidence again, probably expecting some kind of reaction from me.
Ah, yes, yes, you win. Whatever, kid. I showed enough for today anyway.
The demonstration over, Mrs. Borge let out a relieved sigh. Applauses rippled around the yard as palpable excitement spread among the students. It seems that they had been quite satisfied with this display of magic. Among them, Vivian was particularly enthusiastic with her clapping.
“It’s ok, you did great!” She shouted when our eyes met. “You were awesome too!”
I tried to hide a weak smile, seeing her attempting to comfort me after this “defeat”. Completely oblivious of her surroundings, Vivian kept waving at me, a broad smile on her face. She sure is precious.
After a few moments, Mrs. Borge decided it was time to call the class back to order and clapped in her hands a couple of times to catch our attention. It took some time, but the students eventually calmed down.
“Alright, alright,” she spoke up once the silence was finally back. “Hopefully you all will be able to learn something from this. This demonstration was surely-”
Mrs. Borge turned in the direction of the voice who just cut her off and we all did the same. It was Mr. Glenn. He had stayed quiet during all this time, simply watching from afar, but now he was finally butting in.
“Really impressive,” he repeated all smiles. “Don’t you think so Mrs. Borge?”
“Of course Mr. Glenn. I’m glad to hear you liked it.”
Hearing the head teacher himself praising his performance, a candid smile spread on Lucius’ face. This time, there was not the slightest trace of arrogance in it.
“I believe this deserves a place in one of my classes, what do you think Mrs. Borge?”
A couple of voices gasped in surprise at this proposition. Some students started muttering in a low voice while others were eying Lucius with envy. The boy, who initially was as taken aback as his peers, quickly regained his senses. His smile grew wider, turning into something much less sincere. His ego was back. He was now glaring arrogantly at his peers. Anyone could tell what he was thinking. They were all hoping to join the big boss’ class one day and were all training for this purpose, but he was the one who had been chosen.
Mrs. Borge, on the other hand, didn’t seem surprised. She still had the same serious expression on her face, although there was a hint of resignation in it.
“I believe you are better-qualified than I, when it comes to this matter, Mr. Glenn,” she pointed out.
The head teacher grinned. As he approached us, Lucius stiffened up, straightening his back. He tried to hide his growing smile, to appear as serious as possible. He didn’t have to try for too long though. When the head teacher finally stopped at his side, his smile vanished on its own. Even though he was right beside him, Mr. Glenn had no interest in him. He was completely ignoring him. Instead, he was completely focused on me. The head teacher slightly bent forward to give me a smile.
“I expect a lot from you Lynett,” he said.
Lucius’ expression fell apart as he realized that Mr. Glenn was talking about me. His mouth kept opening and shutting like a goldfish, but no sound came from it. The students were as dumbfounded as him, not comprehending the situation. Only Mrs. Borge seemed to have expected this as she let out a long complaining sigh.
“Didn’t Lucius do better?”
“She ran out of mana!”
“Uh, why me?” I asked, as confused the others. As they said I “ran out” of mana first. So from an outside perspective, Lucius would be a better choice, even though he messed up his last spell.
“Seeing such a wonderful performance really lifted up my spirits! It even reminded me of something that happened to a friend of mine, a while ago,” Mr. Glenn commented, completely ignoring my question. “Would you like to hear it?”
“Sure?” I responded out of politeness.
“Well you see, back when I was a teenager, I had a friend, whom I met in this very school actually,” the head teacher related. “He was a disaster when it comes to magic, but he was excellent with the sword.”
What the hell is he talking about now?
“It didn’t take long for him to reach the top,” Mr. Glenn continued. “He quickly found himself offered to became the disciple of a sword-master. And so he did become his disciple. But my friend was what you would call a genius, you see? So after a few years, he had already surpassed his master.”
Yeah? I don’t really care, though. Why is he telling me this?
“He was thirsty for power, but there was nothing left from him to learn from his master. So you know what he did, Lynett?” The head teacher asked.
“No I don’t,” I replied, trying to hide the boredom in my voice.
At this moment, an unpleasant grin spread on Mr. Glenn’s face.
“He hid his own abilities,” he emphasized.
A shiver ran down my spine as I suddenly understood the reason why he was telling me this story.
“He wanted to learn a new style so he went to find another master,” Mr. Glenn continued. “But no masters would accept the disciple of a rival, you know? So that idiot tried to pass off as beginner. Very foolish of him, don’t you think?”
I broke into a nervous laughter.
“W-Why?” I wondered, as normally as possible.
“Because he got busted immediately! After all…” The head teacher gave me a meaningful smile. “After all, the masters saw right through his act. No matter how clumsy his swordsmanship was, no matter how slow he would react, he couldn’t fool them. Because a real master would be able to tell. By the way he holds his sword, by the way he walked. He could tell he was no amateur.”
Lucius and the others kept staring silently at the head teacher with confused expressions. They didn’t understand the point of telling us this story. They couldn’t. After all, the underlying message in it was addressed to me.
Mr. Glenn placed a hand on my shoulder and leaned forward.
“Nice try, young lady,” he muttered with a smirk.
Redressing himself, he turned in the direction of Mrs. Borge.
“Well then, if you’ll excuse me, I must get going now!”
The female teacher sighed.
Leaving the confused students behind, Mr. Glenn exited the yard. After a couple of meters, he stopped, turning around one last time.
“See you tomorrow in my class, Lynett!” He shouted, contentedly waving in my direction.
Humans can’t feel mana, right?