When I started my fourth year in the academy for nobles, I was called to the teacher’s room. There I was asked what I was studying, and to choose a master based on what my career path would be.
Everyone had to choose a master in order to graduate, but school policy dictated that students were free to pick their master.
Many students had to choose based on circumstances outside of school, and there were also times when some subjects had too many people and others too few, so sometimes the students’ choices ended up not reflecting their true interest-.
For me, I had quietly decided to choose someone who studied sorcery, so almost any teacher would do. Many teachers in the academy were nobles specialized in magic, so there was plenty to choose from.
This was why I went to many teachers’ offices. Many were happy to see me, since my good grades would reflect well on them if I graduated.
But mister Bellocchio treated me just like any other student.
“Tianna, you are not particularly interested in studying magic, are you? If that is the case, I recommend professor Piari or professor Dustin.”
He was very curt when I visited his office.
Maybe not curt, maybe it was more complicated than that.
He pointed me in the direction of people that he thought would be more suitable for me. A very normal piece of advice.
However, I was a little conceited at the time, and took it as a provocation.
“…Are you saying I’m not suitable to study here?”
“It is just a matter of choice. If you wanted to work towards perfecting your magic for one reason or another, I, and other teachers that study magic would do our best to help you. But that is not the case, is it?”
“…Does that mean the teachers you recommended don’t devote themselves to studying magic?”
“No, they do, but their inclinations are different. Professor Piari and professor Dustin are both great teachers and researchers.
Professor Piari studies ancient chants and spells, and has deep knowledge of the arts. He can teach a lot of what should be learned.
Professor Dustin places less emphasis on the results of the graduation exam, and more on making sure his students have a good grasp on the fundamentals. He does not believe that students should do whatever they want as long as they achieve passing grades in the exams. I implicitly recommend that students who have harsh obligations outside of school become his pupils.
Some students who already have a job ready for them also do so to start learning about it as quickly as possible and get a head-start.”
As frustrating as it was, the two teachers he recommended did seem right for me. I had never spoken directly with professor Bellocchio, and yet, he knew all about me. I had no choice but to admit he was right.
“…That might be true. I have been studying sorcery, but I will not be working as a sorcerer, and instead will be the wife of one. Is it better to start learning under someone who understands this?”
“”Eh? Being a sorcerer is not an occupation.”
I mustered up words loaded with frustration, and received a very unexpected answer.
The look on my face was that of genuine surprise.
“There is such a thing as the job and title for sorcerers. There are sorcerers in the military, or even people like myself. As a sorcerer, I rely on my magic to study so I can guide students. I am a sorcerer in name and reality.”
“But doesn’t that make being a sorcerer an occupation?”
“A sorcerer is a sorcerer even without the status and job. Whether you are someone’s wife, noble or commoner, or not even affiliated to any country, a sorcerer is a sorcerer.”
“What is it?”
“So what is a sorcerer?”
“Someone who strives to perform magic.”
His response was so simple, it actually confused me.
“H-hum… If you don’t join a specific group, the army, or a research institute, you aren’t accepted as a sorcerer. People can still call themselves sorcerers, but they’re just self-proclaimed sorcerers right?”
“Finding employment is one thing, but joining a faction with loose regulations is easy. In fact, people were calling themselves and being called sorcerers long before this system was even in place.”
“I guess, but…”
“Sorcerers are just that, people who strive to perform sorcery, hone their skills, and study sorcery. I would go as far as to say that people without this motivation, who view magic as nothing more than a tool or daily necessity, are the ones who should not be called sorcerers.”
What he said was so extreme, I actually forgot my anger and instead worried for the person in front of me. If someone from the various sorcerer groups in this country heard him, he would be in deep trouble. Those groups were military organizations, much like chivalric orders. They used magic as a weapon or a tool, the complete antithesis of what professor Bellocchio thought.
But it struck a chord within me.
“So magic is different than a sword, spear, or bow?”
“If you use magic to attack something, they are all the same. But if you reverse it…”
And then, a foolish sounding noise echoed in his office.
It was the sound of water boiling in a can. It was not one made by striking thin metal, but one made by melting and molding it, and it looked rough.
It was most likely a magic item with some sort of mechanism to boil water inside it.
“…When I boil water using magic to make tea, would you call it a weapon?”
“It can be if you really boil it and throw it at a ruffian.”
“Precisely. It all depends on how people see it, and how people use it.”
Professor Bellocchio moved the water to a teapot, and poured the tea himself.
At that point, I noticed there were not any servants around, meaning I should be pouring the tea.
“Ah, professor, that’s…”
“Oh, I should have asked. Do you dislike tea?”
“No, that’s not…”
But he did not seem to care, and handed me a slice of cake he got from the same shelf as the tea.
What a strange tea party, if you could call it that.
“Ah… It’s good.”
Professor Bellocchio started drinking his tea. This was probably something he did every day, as he seemed used to using tea utensils.
There were no signs that any servants were ever around. Now that I was feeling calmer, I looked around the room and saw piles of books and magic items, and I assumed not all of it was needed for his school work.
There were magic items that were obviously used to perform tricks and playing. Despite his serious expression, he liked to enjoy himself too.
“You’re very free, professor Bellocchio. I think you’re very unusual.”
“Do you have any reason to believe you are not free?”
“I don’t really know but…”
I tried to tell him about myself, but stumbled. Watching this strange teacher and comparing him to myself, made me wonder what kind of life I should be leading.
I was Alex’s fiancee, there were no doubts there, and I had never felt any doubts about my life.
It was a life given to me by my parents and family name, but I decided I was alright with that.
The fact that I came to like my fiancee was also an expression of my own emotions.
But could it be that having doubts, thinking about them, and exploring different possibilities was something acceptable?
“Professor, is magic something free?”
Professor Bellocchio responded with a slight, but definite nod.
“Even if I don’t get a job that directly deals with magic, or become someone’s wife?”
“As long as you strive to perform and learn about magic, you are a sorcerer.”
When I heard his response, I told him I wanted to be his pupil.