Two men and women sat around a circular table. But the four did not look at each other. Either they studied the documents in their hands or were busy using their 'AI' devices.
There were two empty chairs, missing the Second and Third Seats.
The basic color of the room's furnishings was an ebony brown, and it appeared quite dignified as it was illuminated by a bright and warm lighting using magic. The ceiling was crafted into a gentle dome and there was a pair of double doors at the end.
This was the conference room for the 'S-ranks'.
They were the special class of Temple Academy formed by the best students, standing at the apex of the ranking system.
A loud feminine voice yawned in an unruly manner and abrupted the silence.
She was a gorgeous woman who had a pair of curled horns sprouted from the sides of her head. Her hair was a flowing, lustrous jet-silver that reached down to her waist. Her crimson red pupils were vertically-slitted and filled with a seductive look of delight as she savored her favorite mystery-flavored lollipop.
She was the Fourth Seat of the 'S-ranks'
"Where's Mirai? Soooooo late to the meeting!"
Another feminine voice replied, but her tone was much softer and cuter. Her mismatched eyes, one blue, one red, seemed as adorable and sparkly as the stuffed animal bear she was holding. She was the Fifth Seat.
"Mirai said she's going to check out First Year Orientation, Doragon. She'll be here soon."
"No way! Rawfy, tell me you are trolling."
"I'm not darling. She texted me earlier this morning."
"Oh ho ho~, Hard to believe that girl is actually taking an interest in something for once."
Knowing their comrade for the last two years, Mirai was never the type of person to engage in any extracurricular activities. Her facial expressions and golden-eyes were always emotionless whether they fought against Diamond-level monsters or engaged in dueling sessions.
Besides, it was optional for 'S-ranks' to attend the First Year Orientation.
Compared to the rest of Temple Academy, the S-ranks were given massive amounts of freedom. There were no constricted schedule or fixed classes. They had access to the entire campus and its full utility. In fact, there was no need for them to be at school every day. As long as they completed their weekly tasks and reached the battle assignment quota, they did whatever they wanted.
"And I'm guessing Kani isn't showing up again. Yikes!"
"She's currently on a quest, something to do with annihilating the Northern Goblin Tribes."
Doragon chuckled. "I swear. She only shows up to school once per month. Girl doesn't care about her grades at all."
"Well, Kani-chan is trying to be promoted into 'Hero-tier' in the Adventurer's Guild. Can't help it if the poor dearie been grinding endlessly for the past few months. I do hope she's taking good care of herself and is remembering to eat."
Rawfy hugged her teddy bear gently. Because of her short and dainty appearance, she looked like a loli. Although she looked youthful, she was almost twenty-five and a Fifth Year. Her age did not correspond to her appearance at all.
"Mirai said that she wanted to meet a Four Attribute Magic user, Doragon-chan."
"Ay, Swindle my man." Doragon glanced at the First Seat and curled her carmine lips into a smug expression, "Sounds like you have a twin."
His face had a firm and unyielding expression, as though forged from raw adamantium. Half of his body—right side—was tattooed in various runic symbols and mythical creatures such as a hydralisk and dragon. The bald man who had been silent finally spoked in a deep voice. His calm and confident tone gave the impression that he was the leader.
"Amae. First year. A1 class. Capable of using up to 6th tier magic based on the results of the entrance exam."
The pile of documents Swindle was reading turned out to be the new student's profile. He had used his authority as the First Seat to gather classified information that was unobtainable to other students.
"You plan on recruiting her?"
"Too early to make a decision."
"But it seems like you have taken an interest in her." Doragon laid back and placed her legs on the table indifferently.
"I find her test results intriguing. But it could be beginner's luck. In the meantime, I will be observing her upcoming battle scores, " Swindle then glanced at Rawfy and nodded. "Help me with magic and ability appraisal at the first Battle of the Divisions."
"Ehhhhh, always letting my cute Rawfy do the boring work! Just cause she's the only support-based magician in here, doesn't mean you can—"
—Suddenly the doors glided open as a girl stepped in. Motes of yellow lights trailed behind her like fireflies.
Her hair resembled threads of brilliant sun, and it grazed into a side-ponytail off her right shoulder. She twirled her index finger onto the signature red ribbon that tied her hair elegantly together. Above her head shined a halo.
"Took you long enough!" Doragon stood up eagerly from her seat and pointed at her in a dramatic fashion. "So what do you have to say about yourself, Mirai Heavenlight!"
Mirai sat down at her seat in a casual manner, not paying special attention to the obnoxious Fourth Seat. Her expression was blank and monotone as usual, however, one could notice a tinge of sparkle within her golden eyes.
"Is the meeting finally starting?"
Polaris —Sixth Seat— chimed in as he looked up from his 'AI' device. He was silent throughout the earlier conversation. His short hair was a stunning snow-white and possessed an air of nobility.
"Nopeee. No way! Not until Mirai explains herself."
"Is there a need for such trivial argument? I've got a tight schedule to follow this week." Polaris shook his head and sighed. "Let's not waste time."
"I believe I told Rawfy to inform you all," Mirai said.
"About the Fourth Attribute User, Amae?" Swindle joined in the conversation. While their interests in the new student may be aligned, but it seemed that the reasoning behind their curiosity was completely different.
Mirai raised her eyebrow and studied the First Seat's expression.
"Yes. Know that if you decide to do one of your weird experiments on her, Swindle, I won't forgive you." Mirai scanned across the room and announced, "The same goes for all of you."
Doragon's crimson eyes suddenly burst into ardor as if the furnace inside her was suddenly fueled. Being rebellious was her core personality. Plus, as a descendant of the True Dragon Brood, she could feel the ancient primal instincts inside of her roaring in elation at the idea of fighting a Fourth Attribute Magic User.
"Maybe I will, Mirai! Just because you said that."
In an instant, the floating motes of lights above Mirai charged itself at Doragon at a sonic speed. But instinctively, the half-dragon waved her right hand across in a sweeping motion.
A verdant mist appeared and absorbed the entirety of the spells.
"That's my first warning." Mirai glared at Doragon who giggled in delight to the sudden attack.
"Seeing how this person peaked your interest, you know I can't deny a juicy treat like that."
As the two bickered back and forth, the remaining three Seats paid no attention to the specifics of their arguments. They would only intervene if the situation escalates to a dangerous level which was unlikely.
"First-time I see Mirai-chan this upset," Rawfy held her teddy bear in the air as an array of 8th tier spells fired in the background. "I wonder who is that new student to her."
"My guess is that this Amae person is important to Mirai," Polaris speculated as he browsed around on his 'AI'. "Judging how emotional Mirai has gotten the past few minutes...Oh? Apparently, she has an older brother in F-class. How ironic."
"That's obviously a farce. Haven't you watched today's duel? It's been on the front page of the forum and the talk of the school, Polaris-chan."
"I was busy negotiating a trade with the Far East Merchant Society earlier. But let me take a look."
Although Polaris could care less about trivial dramas that sparked the duel, he wanted to know what strategies Onii had used to win. As he focused on the recap, Rawfy turned towards to the leader who was watching Mirai, as though if he was carefully examining her irregular behaviors and deducing her inner thoughts.
"What do you think of Onii, Swindle-chan?"
"There's no doubt about it." Swindle revealed a slight smirk. "He's at least an 'A-ranking' with that level of skill. And I bet you he has killed before."
"What makes you say that?"
"He has that look."
Just then, Mirai interjected in the conversation.
"I'll make myself crystal clear. If any of you mess with Onii or Amae, I will make your lives a living hell, especially you Doragon."
As Doragon clicked her tongue, the room gradually went silent. That was when Swindle recollected everyone's thoughts.
"Any reasoning behind that, Mirai?"
"I cannot say because of a promise."
"Understood. Then we will leave your personal matters at that."
With that, Swindle started today's meeting with various to-do assignments such as patrolling Temple Academy and monster clearing in the outskirt villages.
Meanwhile, Doragon felt her entire body shivering in pure delight. Throughout the meeting, she was completely distracted by what happened earlier.
Within the 'S-rank', she was the only hybrid, utilizing a mixture of magic and martial art in combat. In the Academy, there was no one that could beat her in close-hand combat. Even Swindle had trouble if she transformed into her Half-Dragon form. So the thought of fighting a mighty swordsman in an all-out close-quarter battle shook her very core.
Directly on the opposite side of the bloodthirsty woman, Mirai kept stroking her dainty red ribbon that laid on top of her right collarbone. The silky feel reminded her of the interactions with Onii and Amae that it almost brought her to tears. It was a gift from the incident back in Temecula three years ago.
A sigil that marked the beginning of her first friendship.
A bittersweet memento that reminded her of the tragic past.
And how the two siblings had pulled her from the depths of hell...
...and ultimately, saved her from an inevitable demise.
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