Another day passed on in remaining lowkey. Shii and Rineri’s joined hands made handling things considerably easier and finally it was felt that this situation was not as bad as initially it may seem.
Rineri’s clock alarmed at 8:15 to the one who barely managed an hour of sleep—Rineri silenced it and glanced once more at the girl who was sleeping soundly beside him.
However, the silence didn’t last for long as three knocks were heard coming from the dorm door. Afraid of the chance that it wasn’t Shii, Rineri covered the girl entirely in his blanket and approached the door. Upon opening the door, he saw…
Shii, appearing equally sleep deprived, held a bag forward in his two hands.
“This should last for both the lunch break and dinner”, he told Rineri upon entering and put the bag on his desk.
“Great, soon we have the practical classes which aren’t forcefully attended, meaning that only if you want to train you have to go… It will be a helpful way to catch up, but after a 3 day cycle of physical classes there is a cycle of the practical exams and the competition is then too…” Rineri replied, being interrupted from time to time by a yawn.
Shii nodded as he continued to pull the containers of food out of his bag and onto the bag before responding,
“I’ll go. I need better combat experience”, he said, recalling the night he got beat up by a bunch of elves.
“I’ll see you after, I’m going to get her some new clothes and start to try and… Communicate…”, Rineri spoke as he looked at the girl in his bed, unsure of how he'd even start with this.
A while later, Shii arrives at the training grounds for the practical classes. He made sure to move with haste so that he wouldn’t be late again and succeeded by arriving there 20 minutes earlier.
The training ground was an open field adjacent to the main academy building. It contained an archery range, rows of practicing dummies and flat areas for various kinds of training. Some students and all relevant teachers had gathered up in their own groups, mainly discussing or resting.
Shii being—on the surface—an archer, decided to sit down on a bench by the archery range and dozed off into the bright skies. He felt tired but reserved considerable energy nonetheless for the endeavors he was to go on today.
“This will probably take a while to start… I won’t be able to sneak a nap in… Oh, I wonder if the girl from yesterday will be here too…” He wandered in his thoughts.
Meanwhile on the other side, in the lonesome kitchen, there was one person who stood against the serving counter. It was Ikene housing a bored and lost expression. Suddenly her head perked up as she spoke out,
“I just felt as if someone talked about me, huh”
Now not so bored, she decided to take her leave and dismissed herself from the kitchen.
As more and more minutes passed, the remainder of the students gathered, indicating that the session was soon to begin. Shii scouted around through his eyes in search of Rineri and realized that he still hadn’t arrived yet.
“Still not there, I wonder if his shopping trip went well…” Shii thought sarcastically, knowing that Rineri would have trouble buying clothes for a girl.
Rineri at last arrived, seemingly less in trouble than before. Wearing a soft smile, and open eyes. But that was all fake, for those who had seen him before, knew he was bursting from shyness and embarrassment… Probably from trying to buy female clothes as a boy in the nearby store…
“Shupid…” he muttered out to himself, sitting at his desk before greeting Shii. Explaining that the girl, Rikka, was safely dressed and back resting in the bed.
Shii, now indoors with Rineri, couldn’t help himself from giggling, thinking of how awkward it must have been for the poor adolescent.
“I see… I see… Did you two have fun?~” Shii teased him with a grin.
Finally, Ikene and Nscar entered the classroom, causing the practical classes’ prelude to spring into action. The two waved to the teasing Shii and embarrassed Rineri before sitting down at their own desks.
The teacher entered with a grand aura, his magical presence being that of a warrior. This indicated the first practical class of magical combat had started.
Shii looked at the teacher as his nervousness spiked—it was finally time for him to learn something that actually mattered.
“Here marks the commencement of the magical combat class. My name is Korsxa”, the voice from the teacher spoke with authority and stability.
“However, just before we begin, I’d like to speak of the schedule ahead of us. As you know, a national competition is going to be held in 7 days from now. These practical classes will aid you in both the competition and your general usage of magic itself”, the man said with a small pause before continuing,
Aside from the competition, in 3 days we will also hold an exam that evaluates your ability—which these optional classes will improve. The exam will be split into two parts.
The first part will involve typical sports activities such as sprints, high jumps, archery and so on. Your physical wellbeing and adeptness will be evaluated in this.
The second part will consist of two evenly matched opponents facing each other in a non-harmful duel. This will gauge your practical, real-life critical thinking, improvisation and coordination ability”, he concluded the long speech while writing the two above mentioned events on the blackboard with their respective dates.
“We are going to start off with defensive combat. This includes defensive spells and techniques. Pay attention because a fighter that’s always unable to defend oneself is no good fighter at all”, the teacher continued and started writing on the blackboard.
On hearing the word “defense”, Shii was once again painfully reminded of how he was easily beaten up in that tavern once more—all because he let his defense down for a brief moment.
“Come to think of it… What was that magical shockwave? I’ve never seen anything like that before… It was so… breathtaking”, Shii dwelled in his thoughts and let his attention drift from the class for a brief moment.
“The most primitive form of defense is through the application of barriers. It’s possible for almost every element. The process is generally 2 steps—first the generation of an element and then using compression to form a barrier of it.” Korsxa explained as he raised his hand forward and used a skill,
[Water Generation + Air Compression] — A barrier formed midair made out of water. It seemed like a waterfall that had stopped flowing in the midst of time.
The teacher throws the chalk in his right hand towards the barrier. The chalk hit the barrier and immediately bounced off after piercing a negligible width of it—landing back into Korsxa’s hand.
“This is how you can use water and air compression to defend yourself. The strength of the barrier depends on the volume of water and intensity of the compression”, Korsxa explained further.
Teacher Korsxa went on to describe various forms of defensive spells, followed by utility, countering, and finally offensive spells. The class was taught how to use various different kinds of magic in succession in order to assure superiority in battle. Unsurprisingly, nearly all of the information taught was basic knowledge that both Shii and Rineri had known for a while.
Rineri who had now completed the required part of these classes, the introduction to them, was allowed to leave and did so. He left a note to Shii—informing about how he’ll be on some personal business that the teachers already knew of…
Shii—who was now even more sleepy—rested his head down on his desk between his arms; unintentionally creating a display of his tiredness to the other remaining students. He had already read the note but barely contained the awareness to comprehend it.
Shortly after, footsteps came closer to him until a poke was delivered to his head, causing him to jump up in awakening.
“H-Huh?” Shii muttered out as he grasped the sight of who had poked it—it was no other than the popular Nscar, causing Shii even more surprise.
“Hey, you should get some sleep for the impending competition. Anyway, I’m Nscar!” Nscar introduced himself with a seriously straightforward yet sincere tone.
“I’m Kenny, but call me Shii. Nice to meet you”, Shii said with a smile looking towards him.
“I came to invite you to something”, Nscar leaned closer in and told Shii, “it’s Ikene’s birthday tomorrow. I heard you two are good friends, so you should come. She may not seem it but she’s a fairly lonely person on the inside, like the rest of us”, he finished speaking and once again stood back upright.
“A-ah… I see… When is the party tomorrow?” Shii asked hesitantly out of shyness.
“It’s evening 18:30, basically around this time”, Nscar replied. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing formal or stressful. Just a few of us, you can invite Rineri too”, He elaborated further to Shii.
“O-okay… Rin and I will definitely come over then!” Shii jumped at the opportunity to better his contacts and reputation after mustering up the necessary courage and swallowing down the rough beating of his heart.
Nscar started walking away as he left a cheerful remark,
“See you guys tomorrow then!”
With the conversation over, Shii finally left for his room and collapsed on the bed from pure exhaustion. The day felt like a dream due to the lack of sleep and overwhelming feelings but things were looking fairly positive for him as a plus point.
Evening 19:27: After resting briefly, Shii set out to perform what he’d been tirelessly, unwillingly dwelling over for the past two long days. He picked up a certain belonging and left his dorm.
He walked out through the main route this time while somewhat cautiously making sure no one was trailing him until he’d walked a fair distance away from the academy gates.
“Now onto the time-consuming part”, Shii told himself and activated a skill.
[ Air Acceleration ] — this time, however, he adjusted it for higher stamina efficiency at the cost of intensity output. Now enhanced, he started running towards the direction of the Elven commercial district.
Upon laying sights, the commercial district appeared much more crowdier than the entertainment district. Various kinds of businesses ranging from street food, restaurants, bakeries, cosmetics and clothes, legal all the way to Inns. It was a prosperous, business heavy and fast living area.
Swiftly moving through the crowds using his skill, Shii’s conscience was sure that a place like this would surely also house a branch of the Withered Rose Guild. His eyes moved from shop to shop.
“Clothes… I might have to buy new clothes soon if anything happens to this black robe that I’m wearing”, Shii thought upon seeing a clothes store; he knew that if his adventures were to be taken seriously, he would surely come home with more than just a few scratches.
However, his train of thought quickly crashed and perished once he noticed something more important, the Withered Rose guild sign. Quickly, he changed course and ran towards the direction of the sign with great excitement inbound.
Finally, Shii stopped right at the branch door and deactivated Air Acceleration. With a deep breath and nervousness, he opened the door and entered the adventurer’s guild.
A modestly populated room with many tables and people. From elves to humans to beastfolk, it contained many mixes with a chatty yet serious and competitive environment. At the very end of the room was the receptionist’s desk with a noticeboard containing a list of pinned papers—presumably quests.
Shii gulped in sheer nervousness and started walking forward towards the reception. His gaze remained down between his feet and his path. His heart pounded hard in anticipation of how the conversation would go as droplets of sweat left his body. His right hand grasped the referral token within his pant’s right pocket with great dedication; he knew it was the only thing that would allow him in the place of adults.
The gaze of the receptionist and Shii intersected at last ever so normally from the sights of a third person whereas the fortresses of self-doubt and nervousness had made a completely different shape and figure of the young adolescent who hoped to become an adventurer.