~~Magic University Central School Building, Fourth Day of the Fourth Month~~
“I’ll have you know that I’ve seen your contract sheet.”
Summoned to Irene’s personal staff room, Irene showed me the contract that I had signed before putting it down on the table.
“So you’ve already gone through them? That’s… surprisingly fast.”
“You and your shenanigans… Well, all I care about is you joining the White Faction, but do you realize how much of a problem this will be if the higher-ups saw through it?”
“Aha, so you won’t personally take issue with this? I’m indebted to you, ma’am~~”
“…Seriously, it’s about time I got used to you. And yes, you do owe me one now, understood?”
Irene pointed at me to emphasize her point.
“Did you think I didn’t mean what I said?”
“Bah… I knew you’d say that…”
Irene dropped her shoulders and heaved a sigh.
Now, this is getting hard to look at. Maybe I should play along with her for once.
“How about this, then — I’ll answer a single question. It can be about anything.”
She sprang up, eyes sparkling.
I was greatly surprised to see that she ended up appearing shorter than when she was sitting down.
“The size of your chair isn’t quite right, don’t you think?”
“Shut up, you!”
Irene lashed back, her face reddened. That seemed to have hit a sensitive spot, so I’ll need to watch out from now on.
“So, do you want to ask that question now?”
Irene pondered it over, her arms crossed and one hand holding her chin.
“…I’ll think of something for another time.”
“Understood. Excuse me, then.”
“Y-yes, I’ll see you later.”
She sounded a bit awkward saying that.
Most likely, she meant she’ll be expecting me at the Guild tonight. Which reminds me, have I been seeing her almost every day as of late, or was that just my imagination?
Either way, it was true that she had been tagging along on my hunts to study my magic. Which was why I had only been using the most common spells. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it does double as a training routine of sorts, so I suppose there’s no issue with doing that.
I headed back to the classroom for the afternoon lectures.
In the classroom, Lina was talking… well, chatting away with some of the classmates. Looks like she’s not having any difficulty making friends.
Me, on the other hand…
“What is it, Pochi?”
“There’s an ignition-type Spell Circle on your seat.”
Well, I did make quite the strong first impression. I suppose I should’ve expected things to turn out like this. Goes to show that I’m still childish at heart.
Though Pochi had told me what was up, I had actually realized it right from the start. Humans are envious creatures, after all.
Whoops, that’s not a good line of thought. That made me come off as inhuman, in a sense.
“Still… this Circle is way sloppier than the usual. It’s got the invisibility effect applied, so how is it so easy to detect?”
“What will you do this time, sir?”
Pochi asked with mischievous anticipation. This being my first case of there being bullies out for my peace and calm, she seemed to be enjoying the ride.
“It’s a pain to erase this thing for the umpteenth time, so let’s see if we can rat out the offender. Rise, A-rise, Magic Stalker.”
Red beams of light shot off from the Circle of the Fire Trap spell on my seat. They converged toward the one who had originally drawn the Ignition Spell Circle, wrapping around him like a web.
And he was none other than… the tanned brute with close-cropped hair, Midors.
“Th-the hell’s this light… I can’t get it off!?”
Midors tried, again and again, to shake off the light with his hands, but they would not go until either the tracked Spell Circle was erased or the time limit wore off.
“You! What the hell are you getting at!?”
“It’s called Magic Stalker, a spell for tracking a Spell Circle’s producer. Now, Midors, would you mind exchanging your chair with mine? I’m afraid that I don’t quite have the guts to sit on a chair with your Spell Circle on it.”
I suppose being rendered speechless was a fitting description for him now.
Magic Stalker was a spell that required a decent mastery of magic to employ. Midors, seeming to have at least known its name, instantly tensed up upon hearing my explanation.
Head down and fists tightly clenched, Midors bolted out of the classroom.
I could only wish that this would deter him from any further shenanigans… but that was probably asking for too much.
With my situation being like this, I had been avoiding direct interactions with Lina, opting to talk with her telepathically. Lina seemed quite apologetic, but she was by no means the one at fault. Rather, I was glad, since this was another sign of her character’s development.
The priority was to maximize the payoff of Lina’s studies. For that, all the things coming my way now were frankly, insignificant.
“What a mess that was, sir~~”
“What a mess, indeed~~”
“Many better ways you could’ve gone about dealing with that, sir~~”
After school, Pochi and I sat on a bench in the Central School Building’s courtyard and reviewed our day.
But of course, the “mess” didn’t refer to what had happened earlier today, but the opening day. I had made a reckless declaration to bail Lina out of a predicament, which, thinking about it now, was by no means admirable.
“Humans tend to let their guard down in critical moments, for they are shallow in immediate assessments… There.”
“Writing that book again, sir? Principles of a Philosopher, was it?”
“Aye-yup. It’s more of an observation record on the human psychique, though.”
“……No wonder your Fool title doesn’t go anywhere.”
As Pochi was spouting some nonsense, a little dragon, half of Pochi’s size, flew towards us.
“Master Azhley, lett ter fromm Master Lina!”
“Oh, thanks, Baladd.”
And so Baladd left the way she came, most likely back to Lina’s room.
“Wait, is it all right for Baladd to be out and about, sir?”
What Pochi implied was concern over letting an A-ranked monster fly freely within the Magic University’s vicinity.
Familiar theft, which we had discussed sometime before, was another worthy point of concern.
On the topic of Familiar theft… Even imprinted, newborn monsters were quite easily attached to humans. In turn, it was still not worry-free even if they were made into Familiars at that stage. If they were separated from their Master, the contract’s effect would weaken, making it vulnerable to be broken by various methods. If that were to happen, a new contract could easily be forged without the monster itself noticing.
In short, the steps were to steal the Familiar, break the weakened contract, then establish a new one. It may not be the most admirable course of action, but because of such things, the activities of such Familiar monsters needed to be regulated carefully.
“She’s in limited invisibility mode.”
“Wait, weren’t you having some big issues with the transparency property back at the dungeon, sir?”
“Remember when we snuck into Lina’s room the other night? I drew a persistent-effect Spell Circle for her. The spell itself isn’t quite fully developed yet, but it can make those who stand over the Circle invisible for three minutes. And by limited, it means you, myself and Lina can still see her.”
“Aha… so you managed to get some use out of it in this state, I see…”
In a rare occurrence, Pochi showed some admiration for my work. That usually was reserved to when I fully completed my research or achieved some big breakthroughs.
Another reason for that to be so rare was because she would not do so if the topic of research did not capture her interest.
“By the way, what was in Lina’s letter, sir?”
“Oh yeah, let’s see… well, this is more of a report than a letter, I’d say.”
“A report, sir? She could’ve done that through Telepathic Call, so perhaps she wanted this particular piece of information to be preserved?”
“She said she’d made friends with Claris and Anri, and that those two don’t see me in a negative light.”
“Ooh, that’s a step forward in a good direction, sir!”
~~The Next Day, Magic University Maginasium~~
“Be prepared for practical training, students. Miss Irene here has kindly agreed to supervise your training for the day.”
Trace started by introducing Irene to the students. All my classmates were visibly excited. Regardless of her Faction, she was one of the Six Archmages, after all.
As usual, Irene kept her rigid stance with her arms folded.
No one had expected to be trained under Irene’s supervision. That is indeed worthy of excitement, but I couldn’t help but feel a tad bit bothered.
“Trace, I can take it from here.”
“I’ll leave them in your care, then.”
Trace lightly bowed her head and excused herself from the Maginasium.
“Once again, I am Irene, in charge of your practical training for the day. I’ve already met you all during the entrance examination, but almost none of you particularly stuck in my memory. The least you can do is make me remember all of your names by this academic year’s end.”
Everyone present straightened their stances and shouted in unison, their voices echoing through the Maginasium, just like the military.
“Here’s your first assignment… Fire & Remote Control!”
Hol’ up a minute, isn’t this…
“Make this Fire spell disappear from the Maginasium. You are prohibited from destroying or leaving the facility. I’ll let you leave early if you are successful — Now, let’s see those hands.”
Two voices echoed through the Maginasium.
One a girl, one a boy… The girl was none other than my pupil and the boy was the freshman representative.
With Irene’s template inquiry, Hornel’s face was painted with a scowl. Being the freshman representative wasn’t enough to earn him a spot in Irene’s memory, it seemed… Or perhaps she was doing that on purpose.
“I am Lina!”
“I am Hornel!”
“Well then, since she responded first, we’ll start with Lina.”
This is going to be a challenge, Lina.
There was probably just one common spell that a freshman could use to clear the Fire outright. Not that there was no other way, but… it was unlikely that anyone would think to try them.
Now, Lina… what’s your move?
“You, where do you think you’re going?”
“I need to do this to put out the Fire.”
“……If you say so.”
Lina stood close to the door out of the Maginasium.
“Rise, A-rise, A-rise! Earth Control!”
Lina traced a Spell Circle in the air, unleashing a spell out of the Maginasium.
“Transporting dirt from outside to pile on the Fire, I see. That’s an idea that wouldn’t have worked in the classroom.”
That could’ve worked for me in that examination classroom though — It was only a matter of arcane energy stock to expend on sending a Spell Circle far enough.
In Lina’s case, her distance must be quite limited. Still, it was great of her to think of doing this.
Lina created an encasement out of the dirt she had brought in, extinguishing the fire with a magnificent touch. At the same time, sounds of cheer could be heard from Pochi, Claris and Anri.
Claris was the tonsured girl in a white priest vestment and veil.
Anri was the girl with quite the glamorous figure, who, according to Pochi’s investigations, had already gotten herself a fanclub.
Lina returned to their sides and they congratulated her with high-fives. I think she might have shot a wink at me too… she sure is maturing day by day.
Hornel stepped forward and traced his Spell Circle.
Let’s see your moves, representative boy.
“…Hah, Minimum Acceleration!”
So he already got it figured out. Wonderful.
Hornel attached a magnitude-reducing spell onto the Fire. The Fire spell gradually shrunk down to the size of Little Fire.
With this done, the rest was simple.
Hornel swung his staff, snuffing out the remaining fire with a light shockwave.
“Anyone wants to go next?”
With Hornel’s display breaking the ice for them, one student after another raised their hands.
Irene had said that those who were done could leave, but as one would expect, no one did so. Being in front of one of the Six Archmages, they were probably too nervous to make a move.
“You’re the last one, Asley — Step forward!”
For a second there, the Hornel boy had his face painted with yet another scowl.