Onii examined his 'AI', paying special attention to its functionality.
Having heard rumors about this life-changing gadget that was only available to Academy students, Onii understood the convenience of instant communication without mana. This was the first of its kind. He heard it was developed by the Headmaster's research team who had devoted themselves to modern science.
"Now let's start class with something more exciting."
Lirin's eyes glowed in ardor as her mouth curled up into a coy smile. Compared to earlier, her voice sounded more animated.
"I want to know what type of students you are."
She immediately pointed to the girl sitting in the front left.
"You, come up to the front and tell the class your name, your element, and a fun fact. Make it interesting."
The girl nodded and skipped casually to the front, her positive vibe and laid-back attitude alleviated the tension enveloping the atmosphere. Her short-bobbed blonde hair was layered nicely down to her neck and her distinct facial features amplified the impression of being a lively girl.
"Hi everyone! I am Mana," The girl waved her hand as her lips blossomed into a dazzling smile. Unlike most girls, she did not wear makeup, and her body was fit and tanned.
"My element is Earth. And a fun fact is that I am a 'Platinum-tier' adventurer. My role in my guild team is a frontline magician and we are called the Moonlight White Cats."
Surprise swept across the crowd as everyone knew the significance of being an adventurer.
Bronze. Silver. Gold. Platinum. Diamond. Adamantium for Master-tier. Customized for Hero-tier.
Every registered adventurer had a pendant that corresponded to their designated ranking. The latter was more valuable, which meant that adventurers of those ranks could select more difficult and rewarding quests. This was the widely known system that the Adventurer's Guild had developed to pair people with the appropriate difficulty of work.
Mana held up a jade-green pendant as the class marveled in amazement. The jewelry was a solid proof that signified her as a Platinum-tier, who probably earned her rank through numerous quests and adventures. In other words, she was someone with real battle experience.
Lirin frowned with a disappointing look, letting out a disappointing sigh.
"Am I talking to a bunch of bricks? I hope you all understand the point of self-introduction is to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. And that way, we'll be able to synergize as a cohort for the tournaments." She shook her head and turned towards Mana. "Here, here! I have a question for you!"
"Yes, Doctor Lirin."
"Why are you in F4 class when you are a Platinum-tier? I believe that's at least a B-ranking in the Potentials. Possibly A-ranking if you can cast up to 6th tier offensive-based spells."
Mana smiled sheepishly as if she knew too well about the disparity in her status.
"Okay honestly, I have test anxiety and messed up really badly on the entrance exam... Needless to say, I became too nervous and ended up fainting half-way..."
Lirin nodded then redirected her attention to the class.
"For those of you in similar situations as Mana, there is no need to fret. Situations like these are rare, but it does happen. All of you will have chances to demonstrate your magic abilities as the school year goes on."
Many students raised their hands, complimenting her background and questioned her experience as an adventurer. The popularity seemed geared towards having her as a leader for the Battle of the Divisions because of her battle experiences.
I will have to be mindful around her. Onii thought to himself, placing his customized pendant deeper inside his pocket.
"Good day, everyone, My name is Tsuko."
It was another female. However, her voice was higher-pitched and gentle, giving the impression of an elegant maiden.
"My element is water and my fun fact is that I am currently the Third Princess of the Shui Kingdom."
Another wave of surprise swept the crowd, even Lirin cocked an eyebrow.
As expected of her high-born bloodline, Tsuko was surrounded in a sacrosanct-like aura. Her hair was a brilliant blonde-silver and her eyes were a unique, twinkling purple and face glowed with an utmost compassion.
"I wish for you all to address me as Tsuko and not 'Princess' or 'Your Highness'. There is no need for royal formality when we are in the Academy. Afterall, we are classmates."
The class cheered and applauded in response; overjoyed that royalty was physically in the same space with them. Some whispered amongst themselves.
"Wow... to think we have an actual Princess in our class... I can't believe it..."
"Do you think Princess Tsuko came by herself?"
"I doubt it. There's no way someone of that status comes to the Academy unprotected."
The chatter quieted as she gracefully walked back to her seat.
Tsuko's introduction reminded Onii of a bureaucrat, carefully phrased and filled with hidden intentions. While everyone was enthralled by her charm, he had a feeling that she was hiding something.
Onii had most of his attention on her purple eyes that turned fuchsia throughout the introduction.
Is that the rumored「Celestial Eyes 」?
Tsuko's introduction reminded him of a bureaucrat, carefully phrased and filled with hidden intentions. While everyone was enthralled by her charm, he had a feeling that she was hiding something.
He too had a secret. It was a secret that could not be uncovered from the average appraisal spells. However, if Princess Tsuko did have those special set of magical eyes, his secret ability might be discovered by random chance. Having Celestial Eyes would allow her to sense mana as if it were completely visible to her—
—He would have to be much more alert around her.
"Mich," A long, blonde-haired boy stated confidently as he stopped at the front. "I am a fire-type. Fun fact is that I am from the Ael household. Yes, the one famous for their magic tomes."
"Wait... no way, are you really from the Ael Household?" A student gasped in awe.
"Yes, that's exactly right!"
Mich clapped his hands as though he was selling a product.
"My family manufactures offensive and defensive magic tomes. Then we sell them to the public at an affordable price after acquiring the magic sequence and incantation methodology."
Another surge of amazement as many nodded in admiration. Ael Household was a well-known merchant family who domineered the magic tome industry. It was mainly because of their presence that basic utility-based magic was now commonly used by the mass.
"If anyone is interested in a partnership or wants a special discount, I will hook it up for you," Mich smiled like a businessman.
One could not say Mich was particularly handsome, and his facial features would be easily lost in a crowd. However, he radiated a subtle charisma. The source seemed to come from the faint, yet outgoing smile on his face, as well as his assertive body posture.
"Then I will be taking your offer," Lirin grinned. "I've been wanting「Luminescence Spread and Fade」and 「Tinderbox」."
"Of course, Doctor Lirin. For you, it's free of charge."
Although magic tomes were widely accessible, they still remained expensive. For the average citizen, the price of one basic, utility-based spell would equivalate to a couple months pay. And learning the spell depended on the user's affinity for magic.
Now then, let's make this fast and simple.
Everyone focused their attention on the mysterious student with an ornate weapon, resting beside his waist which bounced with every step. Since he sat near the back corner, it took him several seconds to reach the front.
"Onii. No element. Fun fact is I have a cute little sister."
He finished in one quick breath and bowed politely. After witnessing a high-ranked adventurer, a regal princess and a wealthy merchant, Onii's introduction felt completely lackluster to his predecessors.
"Oh...?" Lirin raised her eyebrow and pointed at his weaponry. "Is that perhaps a Katana...?"
Onii nodded, surprised that his instructor knew about the details of his blade. Katana was a sword that hailed from the distant ruins of the Far East, a rare and precious treasure used by an Ancient Civilization known as the Samu Rai.
Lirin fell into a deep thought as the class erupted into whispers.
Onii made a quick mental note. He knew that Lirin was no ordinary magician if she knew about the Katana.
Suddenly, a voice bellowed out at him.
"So it was you who caused a ruckus near the fountain earlier," Mich glared at Onii and stood up from his seat. "I thought you were at least a C-ranking based on your outfit but to think you can't even use magic."
Onii studied him carefully. The merchant had been eyeing him on and off since the beginning of class, but he did not understand why Mich would cause unnecessary drama in front of the class.
What is his true intention?
Surely he isn't that stupid to make enemies on the first day.
"Did you use your sister's talent to get into this school? I can't believe there's a swordsman in a magic institution. How ridiculous!" Mich continued in a condescending tone while shaking his head with a scowl.
Many students looked at Lirin, to see if she would intervene and stop the conflict. For some reason, she smiled neutrally and watched. It was as if she was enjoying this sudden escalation of conflict and showed no signs of wanting to intervene.
"You disgrace all of us magic users; you DO NOT belong here!"
Some onlookers felt the acrid sting from his comment but Onii's expression remained unfazed.
"So Onii," Mich's palm ignited into flames and waved it around. "How does it feel to be born without a magic affinity? I bet you are jealous of your sister. I heard she's a Four-Attribute Magic user. How sad is it for you that you can't even use magic at all."
Mich grinned, his eyes seemed to be ignited from his speech as well.
"Now that I really think about, maybe your little sister is dumb—"
—With a flick of a finger, Onii's blade instantly cleared his sheath, slicing through the air at Mich. There was a single word to describe the speed of this movement — lightning.
Although the swordsman was originally a couple of meters away, he appeared instantly in front of Mich.
"W-what...?! W-Weren't you... in front of the classroom...?"
Mich muttered in consternation as the blade was now inches from his throat.
"H-How did you get here so fast...? W-What was that speed...?"
"I can care less if you talk down on me," Onii's statements were simple and backed with a powerful will. "Your words are irrelevant to me. BUT..." The blade edged closer to his throat, "If you ever talk like that about my little sister again..."
Onii glared the trembling student in the eyes, piercing his soul in the process.
"...I'll kill you."
Mich gulped at the possibility of his own death.
An uneasy silence remained in the air.
Shit. I couldn't control my anger again. My body just moved on its own.
Amae even warned me this morning to not be mad for her sake.
But... is that really okay? As an older brother, I can't allow someone to badmouth my sister and get away with it.
After what seemed to be an eternity, Lirin stood up and approached the two casually as if she was waiting for this exact moment.
"Now then, Mich and Onii. Whenever there's an argument between students, we solve it the Temple Academy's way."
Lirin smiled. It was an expression brimmed with a mixture of excitement and curiosity. Her amber eyes flared with an uneasy merriment as she announced to the class:
"In this school, you settle conflicts with a duel."
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