Hi! Look at this familiar title! Hope you’re all staying safe.
Chapter 62: Train Ride
Where am I? A train? Did I die? Am I on my way to the afterlife!?
I chuckled to myself remembering similar thoughts on the first train ride to Laurent City. They seemed distant but in reality they weren’t very. Well, the years are longer on this world so it would be close to two years ago in Earth days.
But this wasn’t Earth so should it feel distant?
I shifted my focus at the speed to the train flashing by scenery trying my best to avoid staring at the two passengers in front of me.
I wonder if the lucid from then saw these scenes before I entered his mind. Instead of the rolling hills there were endless waves of red sands. This scarlet desert was being used to go around the stacks of gloomy sharp-peaked mountains off in the distance — the same cursed mountains I had planned to run away into.
Up on the red surface we moved nimbly, this train felt like it flew through the air packed with bright faces as it had made its way through cities, the wealthier ones, or micro-stations in the middle of nowhere —which is the way I had boarded after being escorted to the station by a guarded caravan on a vehicle that was quite pitiful compared to Frium’s.
“Hey, are you guys hungry?” I smiled and waved at Aegris and Aegis.
Aegris snorted looking away while Aegis just returned the smile carrying a pleasant face that was more ferocious than anything Aegris could muster.
I had wondered how I should act but luckily I noticed there was a tacit understanding that we would at least keep appearances this much to avoid needless gossip. Other cadets had even led me to this seat not knowing the status of our current relationship.
[I may have miscalculated their love for you. It might have been higher than I had thought.]
Don’t say love it feels a little weird when talking about two sibling’s feelings for me.
[Their respect and admiration for you then, but that doesn’t really match up either… as the proper singular word doesn’t exist in English. Love really is the closest.]
Is it because they haven’t tried to rip out my throat?
[Yes, they seem to be able to tolerate you.]
That’s fine I guess…
Seeing as anything I say would only worsen the situation I flipped my head back to stare out of the window. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out how to mend what I did without revealing the truth but found no answer. Hopefully, their toleration would mean in time the bridge between us could be fixed.
Thinking this the sunny eastern coast began to come into view.
“Now arriving in Ruby Sand City.” The train speaker intoned.
Just as I wondered about it Eurval had already populated the information.
[Ruby Sand City]
[Population: 1.1 Million]
[Major Export: Mana Tempered Scarlet Silica]
[Significant Companies: Scarlet Sands Holdings, Rook Astral Body Augmentation and Rehabilitation Center, S-Group Hotels, Nine Eyes Asset Management]
[Population Demographic: 20.3% UNSA, 19.5% SEOF, 18.2% NAE, 10.1% ETU, 31.9% Others]
[Average Yearly Income: 27,329sc]
[Known as a tourist location Ruby Sand City is known for its diverse demographic and beach villas due to its lax regulations on foreign ownership of commercial or personal property. The native Uegal are among the largest ethnic group that make up more than half of the UNSA population demographic here and hold the tempering techniques for the special sands of the Scarlet Desert. ]
My eyes widened a little as the city really came into view.
If Civieto was the picturesque Mediterranean countryside then this was an oasis resort in a never-ending summer. The temperature looked high but it didn’t look uncomfortable in fact the scenery made me want to experience the sun on my face and feel my feet sink into the warm red sands on the beach.
Past the beach, and the many villas, was the ocean filled with crystal blue waters contrasting the scarlet sand creating a memorizing coastline as far as my eyes could see. Even further if I focused my eyes there was the slight outline of the transparent walls, that I’m sure reached the seafloor, protecting this city from anything coming from the ocean.
I want to come here too…
“Ruby Sand City Passengers Are Now Boarding.”
The rolling boarding began and new compartments connected themselves to the end of the train without a single shake. With a final message of docking completion we left behind the non-transparent half defensive walls made of a red looking clay that faced the land, we left just as fast as we came.
[It’s time to add more lustrating material Lucid]
Hearing the reminder I pulled out a vial and quickly drank it beginning the process I was all too familiar with. Like a daily prayer to myself, I executed the process almost instantly, but as of this morning the process is now different.
Will micro-lustrating really work? I can’t help but feel unnerved.
I asked Eurval
Lustrating too often and not giving my mana body enough rest can cause damage potentially permanently crippling me.
[I’ve modeled the process and refined it to a usable degree. It’s not completely new, it’s similar to partner type lustrating but instead we continuously guide lustrated mana between two mana bodies in an endless flow with every so often sprinkling lustrating materials as the emulsifier.]
[Just like you practiced keeping First Snow continuously active you must learn to do the same with this.]
I understood the theory behind Eurval’s technique. Instead of compounding mana once doing this continuously would naturally yield a higher result. But I haven’t slacked in my own studies and knew nothing was this cut and dry.
Having my last mana body Eurval has been thoroughly experimenting and testing new theories at an inhuman rate.
Heh, I laughed again at my own joke.
[Lucid, I must remind you that you’re not human now you know.]
While her ability to study and theorize was high her use of mana was very coarse and unrefined. Watching her move her mana about was actually a bit endearing like a newborn doe with shaky legs trying to stand up.
Suddenly feeling superior I put on a pleased smile.
My tiny elation was quickly doused by that freighting word.
You didn’t…aren’t you an all-powerful AI now how? Was this on purpose for making fun of your novice like ability to control mana?
[Magic is almost all feeling. There is no cerebellum I can simulate or nerves I can virtualize. I mean can simulate ideas now but the perverse nature of magic towards reality is very strange for a being like me. Using magic is counter-intuitive.]
You mean a magically created being…
I closed my eyes and entered my mana body as I looked at how I would fix the turbulent river flow coming from a vanishing point an infinite distance away, which is ironic because the mana coming from Eurval’s mana body was within me too.
I judged for a moment as I tried to figure out how to fix it then glanced at my own stream leaving my manabody towards the same vanishing point.
This had happened several times but this time it wasn’t something she could remedy herself. Eurval seemed to have miscalculated the rate of emulsification from the vial I had drunk and had returned to me a rather violent river.
Did I drink it too fast?
[Will you be fine or should I recall it?]
A worried voice poked through.
I’ll be fine and canceling it will make us lose all of the gains from the past few hours, it’s just gonna hurt. A lot.
I wept silent tears preparing for the turbulent flow towards me then turned my attention to my side of the loop of mana adjusting it to better key the harsh influx. Crashing in like a tsunami I did my best at cradling it like a newborn rocking and cooing it before putting it back to rest in its bed. After waiting for a moment both sides of the loop had stabilized and I slowly released the extra mana she had sent me back to her in a perfect gentle, but a now thicker, stream.
The loop around the outside of my mana body returned to normal as my icy structure reacted coolly seeing the danger had passed. I’m sure Eurval’s, and my old mana body, was now doing the same too.
Seeing my work was done I bit my lip reluctant to go.
I don’t want to leave… It’s gonna hurt so bad.
Bracing myself I forced my consciousness to leave this space.
I opened my eyes to see the siblings suddenly look away but before I could wonder why they had been staring at me I lifted my arm and with a less than gentle fist pounded my chest in an attempt to soothe, or rather overwrite the ethereal pain with the physical kind.
Hunched over I grit my teeth and continued to punch myself in the chest until it felt like my heart was no longer stopping.
Do astral bodies bruise?
I wondered and quickly messaged Alexander.
[Alexander: Why do you ask?]
[Alexander: Did something happen!?]
[Alexander: Are you okay?]
[Alexander: Where are you]
[Alexander: Are you at the academy?]
Before I had a chance to reply to the first message a stream of messages began to pour into my head along with notifications requesting my location.
[Lucid: It’s nothing serious I was just curious.]
[Alexander: Are you sure? I can treat something like that with no problem!]
[Lucid: Really I’m fine. I just had a little error while lustrating on the train to Laurent City but it’s nothing big the pain is gone already.]
[Alexander: Okay… but I’ll be waiting for you at the station when you arrive! I can check your body for you there.]
[Lucid: You really don’t have to.]
It said he had seen it but it seems he was going to ignore my last message.
[“…” is right. I wonder if saving him back then and winning the tournament made him a bit obsessive over you.]
Are you jealous?
[After we melded you forever became a part of me and I a part of you. We’ve trapped each other in an impossible labyrinth I have nothing to fear. I just find it interesting how you still can’t stop yourself from creating complexes over you in others.]
Complexes? I don’t do anything like that? I just want people to like me.
Eurval said nothing and the thoughts waving around indicated she wasn’t agreeing.
I really don’t. After some convincing, I managed to talk Alexander to meet after orientation on the basis of not having time.
“Who do you think boarded?”
A cadet sitting behind me spoke to her group of friends.
“Probably the cadets from those families.”
The station that we passed by was privately funded but it was open to the public, due to regulations, although the normal public rarely had a reason to be in the area where the most expensive villas were.
Half listening to the conversations around me I continued to lustrate. Like First Snow, this would take time to master. The train sped on and in a few hours we would arrive at the academy.
But those families? I could already guess who.
The final hours on the train had felt long but now that we were close the expansive set of walls encapsulating Laurent City quickly grew as we neared them waking time to speed up again. It was too bad that the train ducked down underground stopping me from fully seeing the mass of the walls once again.
Slowing down to a highway speed the train workers had come and done their rounds and out of nostalgia I ordered the same foods but chose to eat them this time.
Eurval spoke casually as I sipped on the dark fizzy drink.
[I should have noticed when you didn’t remark at the food you were being served at the academy back then. The normal reaction should have been marvel. The dishes are modeled after what heroes from the past described to be made for them.]
A few bits of information implanted into my mind as I began to realize what Eurval meant. Like the heavily marketed breakfast cereals full of dubious claims in my world the favorite foods by those that were summoned in the past seem to have entrenched a similar mindset making people growing in strength want them.
But if the food was prepared by a gastronomic mage I would be more willing to believe the claims.
As I wondered where those rare mages were, and how much it would cost to hire one, the train had already arrived at a familiar stop in the middle of the park by the academy.
In my daze of nostalgia, the siblings had already departed and left me behind before I could react.
Seeing their backs leave I sat with my mouth a little a gape then quickly followed after them.
It’s not like I was expecting to walk with them or anything under the guise of keeping up the front!
“Eh? The siblings left without Lumi…”
“Yeah… they didn’t talk at all during the train. Did something happen?”
I closed the cap of the empty drink and tossing the bottle in a bin nearby as I stepped off the train. Placing my feet down onto the park walkway I took in the sights once more.
Walking on the crackless concrete slabs I head towards the cloud-piercing towers. Already knowing the correct way I quickly caught up to the two familiar red-haired siblings.
“Hey! You guys forgot about me back there! So mean your jokes!” I exclaimed pushing myself between the two, throwing my arm around Aegris’ shoulders like an old friend.
Aegis sent me a cold stare and Aegris looked like he wanted to bite my head off he shuddered so hard I thought he would violently twist to throw me off but for some reason seemed to have quelled his anger faster than I thought and just silently endured me hanging off of him.
I still liked them and I wasn’t going to allow our relationship to fizzle out into apathy. The only other option I could hold on to while I figure out a way to mend our relationship without telling them the truth was to be overbearing, annoying, and anger-inducing to at least keep me on their minds.
Aegris would be easy but I was sure Aegis already understood my intentions and only glared. But it meant her feelings hadn’t dissolved either.
“We have to keep up appearances a little better than that,” I said in a low voice smiling brightly at Aegis as new cadets had turned to see these three famous faces.
With those words, her cold stare narrowed a bit causing me to smile knowing I chose the right button.
Walking along with them I laughed lightly as if I had never hurt them spewing random nonsense about the beauty of the park as we head to the Academy.
Pointing at the twin towers coming up ahead I looked at the siblings.
“It’s more amazing up close, isn’t it? I knew they were huge but the scale in person is something else.”
[Did you expect something else?]
Hiding my bitter smile I kept the bright face having already been treated to absolute silence the entire walk together.
“It can leave you speechless, but we should hurry into the arena for orientation.” Letting go of Aegris’ and urging the two we entered the building and head for the elevator.
After an elevator’s quiet ride up we arrived at the academy’s arena.
Even more so than the previous years.
“Lumi! Welcome to Laurent Academy!”
I was surprised at such an enthusiastic greeting compared to my first arrival it was much different. While I didn’t have any luggage this time the greeter’s eyes told me they wished I did so they could further ingratiate.
Aegis and Aegris received the same level of enthusiasm and the two did, in fact, have luggage handing it to the employee’s hands.
Walking past the initial area and heading towards the inner areas that led to the arena’s seating thousands of pairs of eyes began to stab at us when they took notice of our identities. Unlike the legendaries, none of us had any flashy accessories or hairstyles and looked rather ordinary, save for our pretty little faces.
“Oh, it’s Aegis. Lumi and Aegris too.”
“She’s so much prettier in person and her brother too.”
Putting my arm around Aegris’ shoulder again I waved to the curious onlookers. Squinting my eyes in a sweet smile.
“Oh my goshhh! They’re so close just like rumors said.”
“W-what if they’re long lost brothers I read rumors like that too…”
“Stop pushing me! Let me take a good video of this. The fanclubs are gonna have a freaking meltdown when I post this. Maybe I should sell it as a video set instead… I need a new wand…”
Drawing attention from the cadets their eyes staring us up and down. It wasn’t as revering as it was for the legendaries of my memories but it was a high level of acknowledgment.
The cadets even made sure to keep a set distance away.
Still in the end we ended up being overshadowed. Our names were known and our skills approved but what were skills compared to the heirs of some of the most powerful families on this continent? They were just as talented and had to funds to further augment their abilities.
“Oh my gosh, it’s so crazy to see them in person now! Crazier than last year…”
One girl said dazedly.
“Our generations Heros…” A male cadet said with awe in his voice.
Eyes fell away from us three onto a four-person group. The attention they were receiving was much more respectful. Everyone had quieted down and stood calmly as these four heroes past them.
Not wanting to kill the mood I fought the urge to laugh at the awkward air around them still I was unable to stop my lips from twitching.
Did no one else notice it? I looked around me as people crowded to get a glimpse of the heroes who pulled together in the final hour to save tens of thousands. No one knew the actuality of their relationship.
Runter shot piercing glares are Mei hiding them behind slight smiles at the crowd, Abigail trying the best to show a fake harmony by standing between them with gentle eyes of a princess, and Eugene trying his best to stand at the maximum distance apart behind them but still just close enough to be considered walking with them.
No one could fathom these four could have pulled off such a feat without being close.
In the eyes of everyone here, they were four heroes that worked together as comrades pushing through as a team to defeat a keeper saving the victims who had been sucked into the Tole Forest Dungeon.
A small chuckle leaked out when they neared me and I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the bizarre feeling of seeing this scene in a completely different light compared to everyone else. Only to stop my smiling after feeling Aegis eyes scan over me, she said nothing in the end and looked away as I led us three towards some empty seats.
Sitting, my eyes lingered on Eugene for a little as I watched the four heads to their own seats. His expression, while it was always reserved, looked a bit dark. Darkening further ever so slightly when reverent gazes would come.
Once the four heroes sat down everyone else quickly found their own seats and the arena was filled up. Though it did feel a little extra rowdier compared to the previous year.
Was it due to accepting poorer students? I wondered.
However, just like the previous year, everyone shut their mouths at the sight of a familiar pair of bat wings and a beautiful cascade of purple hair bouncing as she walked to the podium before us.
She was definitely adopted.
Now that I knew Laurent and Niefule traveled the northern continent, where the majority of hyredieans are, I was sure they had picked up the current academy leader and their daughter Hospica there.
[Do you think she was involved in our murder?]
Eurval questioned rather coldly.
Maybe it was the human side of me that wanted to believe that all the people of this world weren’t shit and I gave Laurent’s daughter the benefit of the doubt.
“Welcome Cadets to Laurent Academy.” She stared rather seriously.
“Last year we faced a disaster displacing, ruining, and taking the lives of too many. A tragedy that will take time to heal, if it will heal at all. And as part of that healing, we are focusing on the path to a prosperous future. The first step Laurent City and Laurent Academy has decided to take is investing in talented cadets from all walks of life to grow into permanent thriving residents of Laurent City marking the start new era for us together. We hope, new and returning cadets, that as one we can walk forward.”
The feeling in the arena softened followed by short sets of claps adding to the changing air.
Who wouldn’t easily believe the sincere tone coming from those pretty lips as her pretty wet eyes begged for cooperation? Even I could feel myself being lost in her gaze.
But invest in talents from all walks of life? Grow into permanent residents?
What a roundabout way to say “our population took a massive hit so we need to emigrate talents from elsewhere or we’re going to fall behind the other cities in the available work force.”
It’s not out of the goodness of their hearts but out of necessity. I looked at the two siblings happy they weren’t buying the fake sincerity either but they were buying the opportunity it has created. I knew they eagerly wanted to move their family here.
Getting bored my eyes drew away from the hyridean beauty and to look at random faces of new cadets as I continued to listen. The president had noticed the tonal move and had shifted into a brighter one as she began to discuss something that was finally of interest to me.
“We weren’t able to showcase our talents last year, so to keep your motivation high this year the final prize for the winner of the Magic and Martial Games will be the same. The single talented individual who stands above their peers will be granted the opportunity to use the Akashic Orb.”
[Alexander: Are you tired?]
A message arrived.
[Lumi: Have you been staring at me?]
[Alexander: No! I was just looking around and saw you close your eyes for a bit]
So he was looking long enough to notice my eyes had closed for a bit? Teasing only a little I replied
[Lumi: What’s with that reaction I was just joking lol Yeah we came right off the train so I’m a little tired of sitting. I can’t see you where are you sitting?]
[Alexander: I’m a little behind to your right. I’m sending an arrow!]
With his message, a giant bright yellow arrow appeared above the seats flashing in my peripheral pointing down. Turning my head slightly behind my shoulder I saw Alexander with slightly red ears giving a small wave.
I’ve been recharged.
I smiled back with my eyes in crescent moons putting on the softest expression I could even tilting my head just right to give off a gentler appearance. The way I’ve seen Alexander interact with older people makes me certain he’s eager to find a mentor or a senior with the older brother type demeanor to not just rely on but be noticed by.
Looking suddenly embarrassed he looked back to Hospica with ears a little redder.
I want to be that for him. I can be that for him, his reliable senior, I already have a deep impression of reliability from saving him and helping him out when we first met. Add my words of encouragement on his talents I seemed to have struck him pretty well.
How much I can get him to like me as his “older brother”, more than his parents? And if he has any more than his actual siblings?
What kind of interactions would it take to become his most treasured person?
[Accepting this side of you has made you comfortable in expressing it openly now. Not even bothering with any pretenses.]
I had nothing to say because Eurval was right.
Like a good cadet, Alexander turned his attention back onto the speech so my eyes moved from him and ended up on Eugene sitting stiffly and perfectly straight.
Looking closely now, he looked rather gloomy.
Is his family still giving him trouble? I would figure not since he got an ether shard. He’s on track to top strongest on this continent multiple branches of the Rook family should have immediately started supporting him. Especially because he is a direct descendant of the matriarch of the Rook family.
Too bad I can’t just go and ask him out of the blue if something is wrong. He would be wary and probably put someone to investigate me, but I couldn’t help but feel worried. Even in the dungeon he never had a dreaded aura.
As I wondered what could be wrong orientation was beginning to wrap up.
“I’m sure you’re all excited to begin your free week here in Laurent City so I won’t keep you longer. I hope I’m the first to welcome you to Laurent City and Laurent Academy and I hope many will find your home here.”
Hospica looked lovingly at all the faces here before receiving applause. Smiling for a bit she then stepped off the stage waving as she left the arena.
After she left cadets began to trickle out excited with faces having been stuffed by everything her tongue had fed us.
[It’s time to go. Alra is waiting for us.]
Agreeing I quickly got up and head for the exit leaving the two siblings slightly surprised.
Alexander had come over too but by the time he made his way to the siblings, I was already gone.
In a haste, I was able to make it out relatively easy boarding a train in almost no time.
So where is Alra exactly?
[He should be right where I left him in the middle of the Tole Forest. Without melding it shouldn’t take you more than an hour to get him and come back.]
Looking at the map Eurval was projecting populated with new access granted to Laurent Academy’s cadets I saw him marked in an area clearly labeled extremely dangerous for fresh faces.
Leaving the city through the long tunnel that ran through the massive walls I received a few faces wondering why a cadet was already leaving to go hunt. Once I was out facing the Tole Forest I made my way out of sight before kicking out running through the forest at an extreme speed.
Passing through the same sights that had taken me hours to cross before in mere seconds I couldn’t help but feel like time had truly passed.
I wasn’t the same person that had been always at a loss at every little thing.
“Alra! Are you here!?”
Having arrived in the area Eurval had marked I began to call out when Alra was nowhere to be seen.
[Look at you all worried.]
Worried wasn’t the entire feeling welling in me. It was also me realizing how strong the guilt I had pressed down was bubbling back up.
While I had my circumstances in the end I had just used and abandoned Alra. Only seeing it once when I used him to survive the dungeon before I ended up in the pit of Lucids.
So my exasperation in finding Alra was really just me afraid of Alra rejecting me and refusing to see me again.
Frightened the moment Alra sets eyes on me it will realize it wanted nothing to do with me.
With a monotoned voice a young boy appeared from behind some trees walking steadily with a blank expression.
My heart raced, was he indifferent because he cared nothing for me? Paired with the innate connection that was growing stronger each step he took toward me I couldn’t help but break into a cold sweat.
“Are we going into the city?”
Snapping out of my daze he was already at my side looking up at me his expression still blank.
His flat listless tone made my heart sink.
“I’m sorry,” I said rather meekly.
His face carried the same expression I wore then. A lifeless look.
While it’s only been a year his growth was rapid. Alra’s age looked to be around 8 or 9 and he had a mind as intelligent as mine due to the nature as part hyre so his entire infancy was without affection.
While Eurval cared greatly for me her emotional intelligence for anything other than me was lacking, to say the least. I’m positive pre-melding she only cared for him because she knew I would be sad if something happened to him doing the minimum of just keeping him alive.
“It really is a cycle.”
“What’s in a cycle?”
I smiled bitterly not answering.
“Nothing, c’mon let’s go,” I said as I crouched down with my back facing him.
I turned back to see his puzzled look so I took his small hand and pulled him onto my back holding onto his legs.
“Hold on tight.” After I felt him clutch his hands around my neck I began to move forward.
Shooting off like a rocket I sped back to the city, although a little slower, I made it back in a bit over the same time I took me to get to where Alra had been.
A Laurent guard by the wall gate called out as a walked alongside Alra heading for the entrance of the tunnel through the fortress wall into the city.
“Cadet Nous only residents and cadets are exempt from entry fees and applicable tolls to stay in the city.”
The guard looked to my side.
“Your guest is not registered as a current visitor nor is a resident. He or you must register before entering.”
He was right if I had paid and registered through their system we would have walked in unbothered. However, at the moment I didn’t have the money to pay Laurent City’s exorbitant costs.
“Sorry for the confusion but he is my animated entity.”
The guard paused in thought for a moment.
“Animated entity…” after mumbling my words his eyes shot open in surprise then put on a rather scornful look mixed with a little disgust. However, his attitude in his voice kept professional. Clearing his throat he spoke again.
“If that is the case you must register it with the guild by the end of the day and if it will be staying within the academy you must also register it at the academy before the courses begin.”
Although professional the emphasis on calling Alra it made his refusal to recognize Alra as a person going forward clear. Well, Alra isn’t really human anyway. What is he really now actually…
“Thank you for your cooperation.”
If I lied and Alra was an unregistered person the formation underground wouldn’t let me take a step into the tunnel through the fortress walls so the concern of the guard was gone once I answered as the truth would come out regardless and if I didn’t comply with the regulations the formation would automatically alert guards to my location for questioning.
After finishing our exchange the guard made his way to his post but his eyes followed Alra’s back as we passed through, glaring.
Alra seemed to have noticed the looks and his mind was perceptive to distance himself from me and walk a little forward like a little soldier.
Walking a little faster through the tunnel to try and catch up he sped up to continue to stay in front of me his tiny feet moving swiftly to walk-run.
With a forceful step, I caught up in an instant grabbing him by the hand gently.
“Don’t worry about stuff like that. Didn’t Eurval say I didn’t want that type of relationship before?”
I asked having seen that memory from our mind.
“You’re uhh…” the following words felt a little embarrassing.
“Basically our son…”
“So, don’t worry about anything and just do as you please by my side.”
I wasn’t sure how to word our fatherly relationship. It was a bizarre one to say the least.
He seemed to have understood as his body relaxed as we continued forward. His hand even squeezing mine a little tighter. Highly intelligent but with the disposition of a child many would call “mature for his age” that stemmed from the neglect.
I sighed thinking about what I would do to remedy and continued to walk.
Thinking in silence as I made my way back to the nearest AG, one was conveniently located near the gate entrance inside, it was interesting to see how necromancy had a bad look. Many forms were no longer illegal but the disturbing connotations from its past seemed to have always stuck.
But this wasn’t necromancy and closer to true life creation magic. Just like Eurval and I, he was something greater than human or hyre.
Inside the modern building, I made my way to an open receptionist.
“Welcome, Lumi. What can I assist you with today?” The receptionist greeted me when I walked up seeing Alra beside me she leaned a little forward and greeted him too.
He was a cute kid with tender skin and a listless expression that made anyone want to see a reaction.
“And who’s this cute little guy? Are you running errands with your big brother?” Her tone raised in pitch and spoke sweetly
Alra looked at her blankly shaking his head at her question causing his white bangs to shake and show a light iridescent undertone, probably of the protective elemental runes he had.
Her eyes immediately softened and her lips smiled at his reply.
CUTE! Even I felt my heartstring be tugged.
“We’re here to register my undead to freely be out inside the city.”
Hearing my request her eyes shifted a little but seemed to constantly wander to look at Alra’s little face peeking over the desk in which she would put on a smile again.
“Alright, would you like to show us in a private room? Or is out here okay?”
“Out here is fine.”
“Very well, please make sure there is enough space when you summon. When you’re ready you can begin.”
I stood for a moment and her eyes returned to Alra as she waited for me. But there was nothing to wait for after a few breaths she looked back at me.
“Is there not enough space? Would you like a room after all?”
“Oh no, it’s just my undead. He’s already out.”
She gave me a quizzical look then looked behind me and even up at the ceiling.
“I’m sorry but I can’t seem to observe it. I need to confirm it before I am allowed to submit the registration permit. Is it spectral in form? Or have the ability to optically camouflage?”
“No, it’s him.”
I pat Alra’s head beside me ruffling his hair. I couldn’t help but smile as he twitched his nose without saying anything then quickly fixed his hair neatly again.
The receptionist’s eyes widened unable to quickly recalibrate back into a calm demeanor.
Before they would wonder causally to Alra but now they shook rather chaotically switching from me to Alra at a rapid pace.
“O-oh.” She said a slight shock in her voice.
“N-now that I’ve confirmed, then please recite our mandated oath as the final step.”
Nodding my head the oath text appeared in my vision through Eurval.
“I, Lumi Nous, swear on my soul and bodies that I have summoned and obtained my undead, animated being, or being than can be considered of necromantic origins, true or not, through no duress or forceful coercion. Under their own volition or previous life will does said being agree to be under my magic.”
The oath was completed without a hitch so the guild receptionist nodded her head. After she tapped her finger in the air in front of me I received verification that Alra was a legal form of undead.
With the verification, Eurval forwarded it to the city obtaining an instant reply with Alra now granted permission to roam.
“W-was there anything else I could assist you with?”
For a moment I thought about also registering Eurval, but in the end decided against it.
“That was all thank you,” I answered as I frowned seeing her eyes now actively avoided looking at Alra.
Shaking my head I gave a short bow and walked towards to door. Like the guard, her eyes trailed on Alra the difference being they were sad eyes filled with pity with only a little disgust. With the disgust directed at me instead.
They must think I reanimated my dead brother or son…or a random kid. Children are rather vulnerable to be targeted by necromancers because often their minds wouldn’t be able to know or understand if they were being manipulated into accepting becoming one. Allowing them to be legal per se. With the number of orphans caused by chaos in poorer areas without force or extreme pressure, it wouldn’t be hard to obtain them.
“Hey, is that Lumi? He practices necromancy? Eh?”
“Lumi? Who is that?”
People began to take notice and maybe would have noticed sooner if I had summoned an undead with a flashy spell.
“That guy, the guy that won the tournament in Obsense.”
More began to look.
“Oh it is him, I don’t remember him using anything like that in his matches… I didn’t watch all of them though.” Someone else added.
Alra and I left the AG before anyone worked up the nerve to call out to me and head for the nearest train station. We didn’t wait long before a train appeared and swiftly took us to the familiar park by the academy.
Following Eurval’s guidance, I made my way to the 4th floor of the twin buildings. Compared to the shopping district like ambiance with flashy signs and windows once I passed the 3rd floor only halls in dead silence with orderly labeled doors could be seen.
Each door that led into various labs, professors’ private offices, and large rooms specialized for practicing specific types of magic.
Where I had Eurval lead me to was an expansive room taking up two floors of height space, its use for miscellaneous academic services for cadets.
One of the popular uses was for familiar registrations more specifically small kind that was always out usually canine or feline in appearance, however, this section also took care of undead registration.
Its spot was towards the far side from the entrance having a designated area to register a familiar if they were going to be summoned for long periods or permanently within the academy.
The designated area even had a special pen for familiars. That area was used for the type that had searing furs of flames or panted dense breaths of poisons for summoners who weren’t confident in their control. A barrier would protect the students from any accident.
Standing by this area was a tall woman in an oversized teal tunic made of a thick and stiff material over a pair of loose green pants that showed no taper. She had a serious expression that exuded meticulousness however it didn’t carry traces of being scary or judgmental.
“Lumi is it? Are you here to register a familiar?” She turned causing her long brown hair to sway as she faced me.
[Deria Leyland: A researcher part of the High Water Summons circle and professor in charge of familiar and magical summons at Laurent Academy for first years. Deria is renowned in the Scale Allegiance for her breakthrough ability allowing an extreme reduction in mana consumption for magical summons. Believed to be able to summon two platoons of elemental summons each commanded by a familiar. Rumored to have more than two platoons and can fully summon a small company for a short period of time.]
Estimated Combat Data: STR: ~15000, AGI: ~17000, MGI: ~88000, Mana Cap.: ~200,000+AM]
Deria’s expression looked curious. Looking at her available data she was no joke and these were already more than conservative estimates.
“Not a familiar, I’m here to register an undead.”
“Oh? How surprising. Step into the area behind me and summon it and I see you’ve already obtained the guild’s verification so you don’t need to do anything other than summon it for me to see.”
She moved slightly aside signaling a straighter path for me to pass her into the summoning area.
“Is something the matter?” She asked seeing I wasn’t moving.
“I don’t have anything to summon, I’ve already summoned him. He’s right there.” I pointed at the small lounging area.
Sitting quietly kicking his legs was the tiny pale Alra sitting neatly and straight unable to touch the backrest.
Her eyes wavered for a moment then she nodded her head.
“How interesting….” She muttered.
“What advanced form of animation, I wish I could ask the technique but I won’t press you. I just find it unfortunate you aren’t in any of my courses.”
“Alright, it’s complete. He is free to go wherever you can go inside the academy while you’re a cadet here.”
“I appreciate it.”
I didn’t say anything more about her previous comment and gave a short bow. She understood I didn’t want to talk about and just gave a friendly smile and a nod. But in her eyes now carried a different look. Like I targeted people I was interested in, in her eyes was a similar studious glare wanting to claim me into her circle.
“Oi, did he just say that was an undead? The heck, gross.”
I turned my head hearing me being mentioned seeing two cadets walking in.
Seeing my face their expressions instantly changed.
“Shhh, that’s Lumi!”
“Oh shit. D-did he hear me?”
I smiled receiving bewildered expressions followed by apologetic ones not out of remorse for their thoughts on Alra but just from their fear of me.
They gave a small bow as we passed each other.
“You idiot!” Said one hearing a clear thud from a punch.
I wasn’t hiding the fact so I wasn’t choosing to speak in a hushed voice, but I found the reactions towards the undead amusing. What is wrong with undead that are willingly serving and weren’t cohered through nefarious means?
Alra isn’t one but necromancy was something so far removed from me on Earth that the connotations surrounding its use don’t feel heavy at all. Even if he was an undead I doubt I would feel any type of guilt on its use on a willing subject.
“Undead is bad?” Alra asked in a monotoned voice.
“No, it’s not bad or good. If you’re worried about how everyone is looking at you or me just don’t mind them. I don’t care what you are.”
I don’t even know what he is.
“To me, you’re just Alra and you’ll just be Alra the being I want to take care of.”
And it’s good everyone else sees this cute kid as something revolting or pitiable. It makes it easier for me to stand out as a place of family, belonging, security, and warmth.
But I do owe it to him to give him such a place. He was my responsibility that I ignored and I have to make up for that.
Alra looked up at me tilting his head his white bangs shifting to the left. With a bit of hesitation, he took the initiative and held out his hand turning his palm up towards me.
Does he want me to hold it? I smiled as I took his offer and clutched his small hand tugging slightly leading him with me out of the 3rd floor and into an elevator.
Happy he was beginning to accept me little by little I guided him along as Eurval guided me towards my assigned apartment-dorm.
The new semester would begin. My time would be focused on learning as much as I can. I doubt I can obtain ascend before the MMGs but if I can get close it will make my leave and task to find my classmates all the easier.