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Chapter 18

Alfred Cobb, the principal, sat behind his desk looking at the two young adults in front of him. The business suit attire he wore gave a feeling of formality, yet his messy white hair gave hint that his personality did not tend towards neatness.

Compared to him, the other man wore his hair in a neat manner. The exquisite design of the frames of his glasses made him look even more intelligent. His broad shoulders and strong demeanor fit just right with the taste of the women of this world.

“Kazu… who may this young woman be?” Alfred asked.

“She’s n-”

“I’m his partner!” Mel cut off Kazu.

“Cut the nonsense child. How did you get past the gates?” Jay slammed his fist on the desk.

Both Mel and Kazu showed no response to the intimidation. Instead, Mel’s eyes narrowed as she swung her legs back and forth while Kazu yawned.

“Calm down, Jay.” Alfred cleared his throat. “Now, what brings you here young miss?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Mel gave out a prompt answer. “For the food!”

“Young miss…” Alfred furrowed his brows. “You’d be able to enjoy the food if you were a student. Now you aren’t, aren’t you?”

“Then make me a student!” Mel shouted.

“You see, this is one of the most prestigious schools in all of the country. Do you know what you are saying Ms….”

“Melith.” Mel responded.

“Ms. Melith, there are only three ways you can enter the school: by graduating with outstanding marks in school, as you know, schools and academies are different. Second is by being from a noble house. And lastly, by invitation.” Alfred sighed.

“Hah! You said invitation didn’t you?!” Mel’s eyes shined while giving a smirk. “If you invited Kazu, that means you also invited me!I’m his partner after all.”

Kazu came closer to Mel and whispered, “Psst, I thought you couldn’t change to human form. What’s with this?”

“Aah, shut up! Can’t you see I’m talking to these two!” Mel pushed Kazu away.

“What?! In the first place, you made me look like a fool for a whole year! And now you just turn into that form?!” Kazu countered with a shove.

“It’s not my fault I was stuck in that blood-sucking dungeon for a long time!” Mel pointed at Kazu. “You should’ve come and gotten me earlier!”

“Dungeons don’t suck blood, Mel; they suck energy! You were there when Sage told us!” Kazu yelled.

“Gyaah! Don’t mention that tramp!” Mel stood up and clenched her fist. “Were you taken by that woman!?”

“Why does it always come to that?! So what if I have? Maybe I’ll go to her right now!” Kazu shouted.

“Gu! Kazu you idiot!” Mel’s fist landed on Kazu, who had already prepared to block. The shock sent Kazu a few steps.

“Oh, I like where this is going.” Kazu eased his stance. Reaching for the pocket of his jacket laid down on the chair, he took out a brown paper bag.

“-Thats?!” Mel shouted.

Kazu let out a smirk. Following that, he took a piece of jerked beef from the brown bag. “For a girl, even back then, you always liked these right?”

“My weakness…” Mel’s knees hit the ground. Her eyes turned up to face Kazu with a pout that looked like a puppy begging for food.

“Umm… excuse me…” Alfred interrupted.

“”What?””

“Jay and I have come to a conclusion.” Alfred proposed. “If she is your partner, then it would mean she is also in the mission. In that case, we’ll give her special permission to enter the school.”

“Yes.” Jay nodded, “However, the aptitude tests are starting soon. Please follow me to the auditorium.”


***


A total of 9 rows with 15 students in each line, lined up in front of the stage. The scenery was like the one in Rose academy, but the students were all young adults. Of course, no parents showed up except for the parents of nobles.

They wore distinguished clothes such as business suits, patterned robes layered in complementary colours such as blue with white, red with gold, and black with red. The dresses of the ladies of noble houses were exquisite and complex. To Kazu Tomoe, all of them seemed akin to the works of Alexander McQueen who Aiko once mentioned. However, the women’s expressions could be described as flaunting.

Step, step, step, step.

Students whispered amongst each other as the principal, Alfred, walked up to the stage. He stood up on the podium with his unkempt hair. Although, he looked unclean earlier, his business suit gave a commanding aura down on the entire auditorium. It was enough to sway the young adult students’ hearts, except one.

Riona Rye, on the first row of the students, stood with a blank expression. She did not bat an eye at the man who came up the podium. Her lifeless eyes gave anyone who stared at her a chill down their spine. Yet such a freezing stare did not affect the woman beside her who had glanced her way.

“Riona, look at that teacher.” The girl beside her whispered, pointing at male teacher with glasses, Jay.

“Cynthia, shush.” Riona put a finger on her mouth.

Before starting his speech, Alfred cleared his throat. Then, he glanced a bit at Jay as the man whispered to him in an inaudible tone. At the end of their conversation, Jay nodded and Alfred resumed staring at the student body.

“Students. Welcome to your first year in the Royal Academy.” Applause followed this first line. Most of the students wore a proud posture.

“Getting in the Academy means that these students had spent most of their childhoods practicing their craft. Hard work and dedication let them pass through their previous schools. Students, be proud of yourselves.” Another round of applause followed.

“Here at the Royal Academy, we refine and nurture our students to the very best in orde….”

The speech continued as Kazu, way in the back row, dozed off. Turning his eyes to his right, Mel wasn’t even standing. She sat down with her legs crossed while eating the jerked beef Kazu had given her earlier.

“Mel, you still haven’t told me why you can change to that form.” Kazu asked in a low volume.

“I guess I recovered enough energy. Its fine right?” Mel answered.

“Sure for now… but how are you going to be dorming?” Kazu sat down with Mel. Students stared at both of them with strange eyes. The two held a leisure conversation during the formal speech by the principal of a renowned school. Even though the students heard their conversation, none of them had any idea of what they were talking about.

“Aren’t I going to dorm with you?” Mel prompted.

Sudden enmity gathered around Kazu as the male students stared at him. Mel’s delicate features had attracted the male students ever since she arrived at the cafeteria earlier that day. Her cherry pink lips, golden eyes with purple haze and a dress that complimented her soft and delicate legs. The male students even forgot to ask if she was cold in that kind of dress, especially now, during the winter.

Meanwhile, the girls let out a pink aura of their own in admiration of Mel’s declaration. At the edge of their eyes, they saw Kazu who held the attraction of such a beautiful girl. His appearance was a disappointment their eyes in comparison to Jay Oswald standing on the stage. However, they sensed a mysterious pressure radiating from the black haired student. None of them knew where to put their finger on why that is.

“Don’t be stupid. I don’t think dorming works like that.” Kazu whispered.

“That doesn’t matter at all. I’ll go wherever you go.” Mel claimed.

The female students, who listened in on their conversation, had no idea of the context. With that said, the corner of their ears went bright red with Mel’s further proposal. Their fantasies and wild imagination played out in their heads on repeat as they heard Mel’s words. Alas, all of them were expected to succeed in the academy. Few expected romance considering the little time left after studies.

On the other hand, the male students’ faces paled. With Mel’s words, none of them dared to even think of trying to take Mel for themselves. Honour was still honour; therefore, committing adultery or coveting another man’s woman would tarnish their own reputations.

“My speech has concluded. Jay Oswald, bring out the orb.” Alfred said.

“Yes principal.” Jay went through the curtains of the stage. Upon walking back, he rolled in an orb five times the size of his head. The orb was much bigger than the one used in Roseful Academy. A strange light emitted from the center of the orb.

“First row of students, please walk up.” Alfred commanded.

The first row of students marched up the 3 steps of the stage. Each one had a thumping heart, nervous of their result. On the other hand, Riona had no worry on her face. Instead, she had a mild yawn.

“Erinn Greyheart… now taking the test.” The first student walked up after pronouncing her name. She held out her hand to the orb and touched it with her palm. A red glow burst forth inside the orb. Pink and green light swirled around the orb orbiting the red glow. Erinn’s eyes widened at the unknown light swirling with her original red glow.

“Students, some of you may be wondering about the different lights in the orb. Those lights are a reflection of character, traits, personality, and one’s heart. Pink symbolizes caring, and green symbolizes timidness. It will play a role in determining your class in this academy.” Alfred declared. “Erinn Greyheart, Fire intermediate, 2nd rank aptitude, Class A. Please proceed down the stage and continue watching the ceremony.”

A sigh of relief came from Erinn. When she heard the word “timid”, it had a negative connotation in her ears. However, the principal still placed in Class A making all her worries disappear. Coming from a noble family, such disgrace would have never been allowed if she had not placed in a class lower than A. With this, her mother, on the side, also eased the tension on her face.

“Cynthia Renards, now taking the test!” Cynthia grabbed the orb with her palm. Her eyes stared at the orb with stern a stern look and her posture gave off confidence. The orb glowed green. Its glow shined slightly brighter than Erinn’s. With it, a mix of red and blue danced around the green glow.

“Confident and flexible. Cynthia Renards, Earth Intermediate, 4th rank aptitude. Class A.” Alfred declared.

Without waiting for the principal to ask her, Cynthia came down the stairs by herself and stood beside Erinn. When she came near Erinn, Cynthia reached out her hand to shake. Following this, Erinn couldn’t help but shake her hand.

“Nice to meet you. I guess we’ll be classmates.” Cynthia smiled with confidence.

Erinn nodded instead of giving a vocal response. The overwhelming confidence Cynthia showed drowned her own which made her voice stick in her throat.

“Riona Rye, taking the test.”

Murmurs from the audience rose a couple of decibels louder. All the students spoke to whoever stood beside them as the beauty declared her name. Some had a tone of admiration while some had spoke with fear. But everyone had the same thought: she was the niece of the dean, Yuli Aramod, a man placed on the heroic ranks.

Riona put her palms on the orb. Little by little, a blue light shined. It pulsed low and high like a beating heart until it stopped into a monotonous bright glow. Its glowed much brighter than the previous two contestants. Centering around the central glow, 3 swirls of light appeared. A dark gray glow jittering as it orbited the central glow. A pale green swirled in a slow movement around the center. Finally, a dark blue sphere floated way below the central orb.

Alfred’s eyes widened as he saw the three colours. The murmurs of the audience grew even louder with the mystery of the 3 swirling colours. Riona herself became shocked after the 3 swirling colours appeared after her bright blue orb shined.

“Riona Rye, Water Intermediate, 9th rank aptitude. Class… U.”

A loud voice wanted to burst through Riona’s vocal chords, to deny Alfred’s placement. Anger in her eyes lit up and the temperature around her dropped by a couple of degrees. Alfred could only look on at Riona with narrowed eyes emanating pity.

The aptitude test continued after the large event of Riona’s placement. A couple of students were also placed in Class U, but none had a strong response to being placed in it compared to Riona’s silent anger. The average of the student body was Adept 7-9 with some exceeding intermediate 1 in their elements. Most of the lower aptitudes were placed in Class B or C. Students who were at adept 9, 10, and intermediate 1 had a chance of getting in class A but most were put in Class B.

Overall, 133 students came before Kazu and Mel. 51 students had Earth alignment, 28 fire, 44 water, and 10 wind. This diversity of elements were natural. Fire and wind were much harder to control since those elements didn’t take a physical form. Water and Earth had physical forms which meant a lot more people used them and also had more uses in real life scenarios.

“Kazu Tomoe taking the test, I guess.” Before walking up to the orb, Kazu yawned. Mel also sat down on the stairs of the stage while chewing on her beef jerky.

Now placing his hands on the orb, it slowly pulsed with a colourless light, a white light—the wind attribute. When it reached its brightest point of white light, it turned gray. One gold swirl floated around the gray glow. Much like when Riona took her test, loud murmurs rose up in the student body. But this time, they were more akin to why such an ominous colour presented itself. In addition, none of the students knew what the gold swirl meant.

At this point, Alfred and Jay whispered to each other. None of their voices could be heard under their breath. Kazu also didn’t want to use his awareness skill to listen in on such a trivial matter, he concluded.

After a few minutes, Alfred raised his figure and said, “Kazu Tomoe, Wind intermediate, 1st rank aptitude. Class U.”

The student body’s murmurs exploded into a roar. Faces were littered with confusion that demanded an explanation of the colour. Even Riona’s lips twisted into a frown when she saw the ominous colour of gray.

“Students!” Alfred shouted and a shockwave of pressure pressed on to all the student’s lungs. “Due to impurities in his wind, it has turned a gray colour. Did you not see the gold swirl? It is the colour of greed; hence, impurity in his attribute. Now Kazu Tomoe, please join the other students.”

All the confusion in the students’ eyes disappeared after the explanation. In everyone’s minds, they knew who to avoid the most—the student named Kazu Tomoe. When Kazu moved to join the rows of students, their eyes avoided contact with his. Along with that, they jittered away and their lips down turned with disgust.

“Hahaha! Stupid Kazu. Watch me get the best one out of all the students!” Mel shouted loud and clear. The volume she shouted at caused Kazu to put a palm on his face. At the same time. everyone’s eyes glared at her with doubt as their brows furrowed.

“Melith cross whatever whatever.” Mel immediately touched the giant glass orb. Once she touched it, a distinct white light appeared in the center of the glass orb. It grew and grew until it occupied all of the glass. Once this finished, its brightness grew until a certain point, much like Kazu’s. The white light then turned gray, but it did not stop there. It grew darker and darker by the passing second. It stopped only until it reached a pure black colour.

Not a single whisper sounded in the auditorium. Of course, to the students, this meant this one had the most malicious of ill wills. Naturally, they all stepped back and even tried to block Mel’s body from their view with their hands.

“Melith Cross, wind intermediate, 3rd rank aptitude… Class U.” Alfred sighed.

“Hah, stupid Mel. Yours is even blacker than mine. Serves you right!” Kazu shouted, breaking the silence.

“Guh- Shut up!” Mel jumped off the stairs. “Give me that bag!”

Mel snatched the brown bag Kazu kept in his hands. Tears formed around her eyes and she whispered to herself, “I’m a good girl… guuu.”

“The tests have ended. All students proceed back to your dorms or homes. Classes start next week. That is all.” Alfred signaled Jay to come over and quickly left the auditorium with him.

Quick steps echoed in the empty hallway. Alfred picked up his pace even faster as Jay followed him. Their faces grew tense as they felt an immense aura coming from Alfred’s own office. Alfred swallowed his spit before opening the door.

When they entered, Alfred bowed down to form an almost 90 degree bow. Jay followed suit, still with a confused look on his face.

“Don’t mind the courtesies. I’m just here for a quick visit.” The man, in front of the desk, announced. Both Alfred and Jay relaxed their postures following this announcement. A young man wearing a dark blue business suit stood in front of the desk. It was layered in a light blue dress shirt that one could mistake for white from a far. On his hand, he held a staff with a turquoise gem embedded on the top. It emanated a strange odour of the salty ocean,yet it calmed the senses. The man kept his blond hair long enough to be shoulder length and his facial features exuded a cool type of masculinity.

“Sir Yuli, what brings you here today?” Alfred’s voice trembled.

“How’s my niece?” Yuli asked.

“She is doing well” Alfred cleared his throat and then continued, “But I’m afraid to inform you that she is placed in Class U…”

“Hahahaha!” Yuli laughed. “That’s fine, that is fine! And, may I ask how our guardian did?”

“Sir Yuli, apparently he had a partner so we had to take them both in the academy. Unfortunately, he scored lower than Riona, with his impure gray wind attribu-”

“Did you just say gray?!” Yuli shouted. The paintings trembled from the vibrations caused by his roar.

“Y-y-yes Sir Yuli, his colour was g-gray.” Alfred squealed.

“Fools!” Yuli turned his back. “I bet none of you have ever seen colours higher than advanced... For the wind attribute, once you reach master, your wind attribute becomes gray.”

“Sir Yuli, his partner earned a black colour this would mean?”

“Black?” Yuli turned around in a hurry and gripped both sides of Alfred’s shoulder. “Was it a pure black?”

“...Yes” The pain of the grip constrained his voice, but Alfred managed to let out the answer.

Jay stared at the man before him confronting the principal like that. A crest, in the shape of a coat of arms, pinned on Yuli’s chest read “Heroic-rank”. Being a new teacher, this confirmed all the rumours he heard about the dean of the academy. The crest itself inspired awe, and in some, fear.

Just now releasing his grip, a large smile turned up from Yuli’s lips. His arms fell limp as he moved away from Alfred. Once he stepped a few steps back, he turned around and said, “Ha… what luck we have. Frederick’s little girl- no, my niece! Such wonderful bodyguards that would have cost fortunes to hire.”

***


“Pfft, even in this form, I’m even more limited than when I’m in my sword form.” Mel commented. “Being able to move myself like this feels good though.”

“Heeeh... That means I don’t have to carry you around everywhere.” Kazu’s eyes turned to the girl beside him, Mel. She wore a loose fitting dress that seemed to only fit around the waist and shoulders. The frills on her dress fluttered with each step on the snow. She wore white ankle heel boots that illuded the eyes from the real length of her legs.

“On a side note, aren’t you cold in that?” Kazu asked.

“Not really.” She shook her head. “Look below, I’m warming up the air around me.”

Sure enough, the snow melted each time she stepped. The falling snow also did not pile up on her clothes. A grin forms on her face when Kazu finished checking her out.

“Heehee, Kazu so perverted—checking me out in public.”

“Tha-!”

Bam!

A loud sound of an object hitting metal shook the trees from sheer force. At this point, Kazu and Mel reached the fork where all the paths interconnected. 2 boys stood against each other in the middle of it and a large encirclement of students interrupted the pedestrian flow. One of the bows held a blunt sword and a shield on his left hand. The other participant of the fight held a single short staff with a small blue gem. The students cheered on the fighters as usual for entertainment.

“Dirty mage!” The knight lunged at the mage with his shield up.

The mage jumped back and chanted, “Oh great god of water. This disciple asks forth one’s power. Strike, water sphere!”

“Haha, water sphere? Its just a ball stupid!” The knight easily blocked it with his shield.

Upon seeing the easily blocked spell, everyone held their breaths for the end. However, a large amount of water invaded between the two fighters. The body of water encased both the mage and knight that were fighting. It halted everything. Even the cheers of the bystanders came to a silence.

“...Ocean’s cage.” Riona whispered.

Her signature cold gaze surrounded both the mage and knight who were fighting. On seeing the two’s faces, a click of a tongue described her thoughts about the whole fiasco—annoying. She looked at them with demeaning eyes and said, “You’re in my way. Get out.”

On that command, both water encasing hurled themselves at the trees in opposite directions. The bubble of water popped once it impacted the trees, releasing both offenders.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Her steps continued and turned to the path leading to the Practical Applications facility. Once she disappeared, conversations between students continued and everyone carried on with their walks. Most of the student went to the direction of the dorms while some to the front gate to exit the vicinity.

“Hey, if I recall correctly, you’re Kazu right?” A stranger came up to both Kazu and Mel. His eyes wandered around their faces, halting at Mel’s eyes. However, Mel broke eye contract as soon as she noticed. He wore the same dark blue suits everyone everyone wore, except he had khakis. His hair was wavy, but it only complimented his relaxed attitude. Both arms and legs were built well and complimented his posture. Certainly, he was someone who was above average in appearance.

“Yeah, you?” Kazu replied.

“The name is Leonard Beulen, in class B. Mind if I chat along the way to the gate?” Leonard asked.

“I don’t mind.” Kazu’s eyes turned to Mel. “She doesn’t mind either so it’s fine. But aren’t you afraid of my... bad luck… is it?”

“That’s some bull crap anyways.” He rested his bag behind his shoulder. “Everyone has something dark in them whether they’re the most innocent person or not. Doesn’t matter, no point in going on about it.”

“You’re pretty laxed.” Kazu sighed. “Know anything about that girl?”

“Riona?” Leonard snickered. “Funny you ask. To be honest, everyone hates her. But, what’s that gotta do with me? Nothing, that’s what. As I see it, she might just need friends to loosen up. But hey, she’s mad all the time so that can’t ever happened.”

“Hah, so you’ve actually tried to be friendly with her?” Kazu asked.

“What man hasn’t? Have you seen her body?” Leonard turned his head to Kazu. “Not to mention, her face looks like a doll. Anyone would want her. But then again, you see, her face is always like a doll. Her face only changes when she’s mad.”

“You must be a creepy stalker or something.” Kazu joked. “She can’t be as bad as the people randomly fighting on the path. After all, earlier this morning…”

“Sure she isn’t. But those guys are different. Its that, y know? Sorcerers and knight rivalry.” Leonard spat. “Its stupid I tell ya.”

“That makes sense. Well, let’s just hope we don’t bump into those guys. Otherwise...” A large grin appeared on Kazu’s lips.

Kazu and Mel parted with Leonard after exiting the gate. They headed south through the main street of the city. A person could walk straight through the main street until he reaches the gates. However, it was a street exclusively popular to carriages. Ever since winter arrived, the popularity of carriages fell as they took longer to reach their destination than walking.

Furthermore, the worm trains didn’t operate in the winter. The giant worms migrate south, via underground, to a much warmer climate. Their lives depended on warmer temperatures as their skin wasn’t thick enough to handle the cold.

On the way south, Mel nudged Kazu’s arm. As Kazu’s eyes turned to her, she held up the empty brown bag. All 3 pounds of beef jerky gone in a single day.

***


Practical Applications Facility.

The facility was climate controlled by heat stones placed in even distances from each other. Two women wearing tight gear with padding on the vital spots stood at opposite sides of the mini stadium. Beads of sweat ran down their cheeks. Both of them gasped for air to regain their breathing.

Riona’s clothes were dirtied by the earth magic while Cynthia’s clothes were wet from Riona’s attacks. Neither of them yielded defeat. But as they stared at each other’s eyes, a smile formed on Cynthia’s lips.

“You know... shouldn’t this be enough?” Cynthia smirked.

Riona nodded.

Both of their stances eased into a more relaxed posture. At the same time, they reached for the bench. Cynthia collapsed on spot while breathing heavily.

“Don’t mind it too much. It’s just a class.” Cynthia commented

Riona clenched her fist.

“It’s already evening. Are you sure you’re alright going alone? Your house is outside of the south gates right?” Cynthia asked.

“Un.” Riona left the stage and entered the locker room.

A memory of her father rose up from her heart.

You’re perfect.... Riona.

Those words that day stuck in her heart. 3 words repeated on an endless loop played inside her head. Yet that perfection broke with the class placement of the principal.

Bam!

A dent on the locker appeared.

“Oi oi, don’t ruin my locker.” Cynthia walked in. “Go home and get plenty of rest alright?”

Riona, again, nodded at the single person she can call friend. After showering and drying herself, she left without saying goodbye to Cynthia.

Heavy snow fell. It hid the stone pavement that were there just a few weeks ago. Every step she took made a crunching noise.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

The scenery of the falling snow didn’t calm the fire in her heart. She forced her legs to tread fast through the snow to escape from the fires of her mind. Until a noise stopped her. She came across a restaurant with loud customers inside. The noisy family filled her whole view. Each one had smiling faces.

“Family… something I can never have.” Riona whispered.

After treading the snow for a long while, she finally exited the south gates. Her home sat south of the southern gates. It was due to her family’s production business that they were allowed to build a mansion outside the walls.

Her father expected her to be perfect in order to inherit and protect the family legacy. With her father’s words, which came from the only one she knew as family, there were no other answers other than “Yes.”

Suddenly, in the middle of her walk, growls from all directions could be heard. She looked back, but the south gate was too far. Her energy was all but expended with from her practice with Cynthia.

However, she did not yield. She lowered her stance. Soon, the wolves jumped out from the trees and encircled her. They were more used to the snow—running away became the last and worst option.

“Roar!” A wolf jumped at her from behind.

Its claws barely grazed her hand, but blood still spilled on the snow. The presence and scent of blood made the wolves’ restless.

She raised up her hands and a blue light emitted around her body. All the wolves went on alert, discarding their restlessness, and drew their movements with more care as they felt the energy gathering.

Power started forming, but as she gathered it in her hands, the light started flickering. Her eyes furrowed to concentrate—alas, it was not enough. Her fatigue from the spar earlier did not let her draw anymore energy. And with that, the light flickered even more until fading away.

“This is how it ends? hahaha…” She let out a weak laugh. Her stance no longer showed its strength. Instead, it showed complete submission to death.

“Raaarg!” Again, a wolf jumped at her from behind. It aimed for her neck as she closed her eyes.

Whoosh!

A large gale flowed across her. With her eyes still closed, the bite that came at her never met her neck. She opened her eyes and turned to see a man in a black coat. His face couldn’t be seen as he stood against the moonlight with his hood on. However, she saw eyes with the fierceness of fire. In contrast to her who had cold freezing eyes, he was much different from her.

Riona’s eyes swept across the man’s figure and caught the giant claymore that was held in one hand. Its blade alone exceeded 2 meters with a width of 30 cm. The snake like patterns of its hilt seemed to be alive as it reflected the moonlight on its golden scales. No, it was alive. Veins of gold and purple haze stretched along the blade, circulating around in a rhythmic pattern.

The man swept his hand to create a gale of enormous strength. In one fell swoop, the wolves turned into minced meat before it could even let out a squeal. Then his figure blurred. The man appeared behind her in an instant.

Consequent thuds sounded as bodies dropped softly on the thick snow. A circular painting of blood formed around her—all of the wolves died in an instant.

The man looks at her one more time. But this time, his gaze looked disappointed rather than apologetic. Without saying a word, the man disappeared with a large gust.

Riona, that night, arrived at the mansion with a frown on her face.

“Welco- Lady Riona, your hand!” The maid immediately ushered her inside and applied first aid.

However, Riona clenched her wounded hand into a fist. Her tight grip caused the blood to flow more rapidly than before.

“That bastard!” Riona shouted.

Not even saying a word before leaving, it made Riona furious. His eyes also looked at her with disappointment—something she never experienced in her life before. But most of all, her arrogance did not tolerate such a quick and messy way of dealing with the situation. It was as if he wasn’t even aiming to save her.

Her rage caused a fire to burn within her heart, yet the layer of ice encasing these flames only seemed to grow thicker.

***


“Achoo!” Kazu sneezed.

Mel: You need to change that coat. It’s all burnt.

“Hm, you’re right.” Kazu jumped over another branch. “To think those damn wolves followed me. Wonder what Riona was doing there?”

Mel: Hmph! Why do you care? Quickly, let’s go home. I wanna eat.

After jumping several more trees, Kazu arrived in front of the cozy house—his family’s house. After a year of living in that house, he could no longer keep the warmth from flooding into his heart. Everyone in the house, including those that visited, he never once forgot to think of them when he trained out in the forest and mountains.





##################
Thanks for reading!


Spoiler :
On a side note… anyone here play Osu?
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