"Ah!" gasped for air, sweat from head to toe.
The young man wiped the sweat drops off his forehead and sat, feeling his body heavy and numb not only by sleepiness but also by the horrible nightmare he had just watched in his sleep. The sun had already paid a visit on the bed, heating his bare feet and the comfortable sheets, plus a black cat that stretched the moment his legs moved and softly meowed.
“Morning… did you sleep well?” he chuckled, taking the cat in his arms, which purred the moment the man caressed its ears. “I'm ok… you're very comfortable, aren't you?”
The man placed the lazy cat on the pillow and stretched, looking at himself in the mirror. His face was terrible: dark circles that insisted on staying; the skin was pale and slightly greasy due to the sweat, and the short beard pleaded for a razor. Meanwhile, the nameless cat on the bed stretched and nuzzled on the pillow, leaving traces of its fur.
After washing up and wearing new clothes, the man sat on the backyard chair, book in hand and the cat on his lap.
"What a weird dream...," he voiced the thought, taking a sip of freshly brewed coffee. "Umbra, can you go to the floor? I need to eat," he chuckled at the cat on his lap that purred and nuzzled on its owner.
Umbra softly meowed and jumped on its owner's neck, making him dearly hug the purring cat. The man whistled, and soon the pet turned into some sort of dust, incorporating into the man's shadow.
"It's my first day, Umbra, and I know you want to tag along, so stay very quiet" he smiled and took his cell phone to check the time…
… and he was already very late!
Ah~ the University of Magic!
It was such an astonishing construction, made of stones and marble to give it a touch of elegance, with a wide entrance surrounded by charming small trees and bushes that were soon-to-be bloom, and a fountain right in front of the main building. The spot was perfect for gatherings and viewers, where people could meet up with friends and colleagues or have (or not) an ice cream, enjoying the view at its finest.
Carpe Diem, for the ones who enjoy it.
Simple yet charming.
Some might say the principal wasn't creative, but he did place a few new flowers here and there and new devices and services using mana.
We ought to know more about it sooner or later because, at the horizon of a wide brown marbled corridor, a young boy rushed his way and seemed in a horrible hurry, which was true. His ashy green medium hair was dancing in the wind like his robes. Beside him, a tall, blond girl joined the boy's run, holding a box full of giggling plants that had much fun of that bumpy run.
"LYDIA, IT'S YOUR FAULT THAT WE ARE LATE!" he shouted, and the woman laughed nervously.
“It’s our fault, Mine!!! You turned off the alarm, and I… kind of did the same later" Lydia grieved and almost stumbled her toes on a rock, which made the little plants throw a loud 'Weeeee!'
"YO! Be careful!!!" he avoided the worst with a spell. "Today the administration will tell us our new classrooms. We cannot afford to make any mistakes."
Lydia's robes were dark green-colored, a fabric made of a rare (and vicious) plant she extracted its cotton. It was full of flowery details sawn by hand and some more modifications made here and there. Her brown boots were already dirty with mud, so her bag was on the back, but the culprits were giggling joyfully in the pot she was holding with all her might!
"THERE! AARUSHHH!! HELP US!!" Lydia cried at someone who calmly gazed at the hasty duo.
The boy wore a traditional teacher's clothes with fewer modifications like Lydia's. Its fabric was made of a dark purple shade and had golden details on its sleeves like an arabesque. The only adaptation he made was beetle-like buttons replacing the original black ones. His slightly hooked nose contrasted with his thin olive eyes, which seemed to be always smiling.
"I knew you two would be late~" Aarush clapped his hands in congratulations as they gasped for air. "You two are in shape, at least. Earlier, a black-haired young man arrived as panicked as you two, and he barely caught his breath."
"Did they start the meeting?" Mine asked, wiping the sweat off his forehead.
"Don't worry, director Soleil is also late," he chuckled.
A new course was about to start that semester, which was the reason the meeting was scheduled. Part of the Dark Mana and Miasma Department, the new Exorcism graduation only needed one more step to start the classes: sorting the teachers and presenting them to the first years. All the teachers were gathered in the meeting room, ranging from those who taught basic subjects like magic writing to those who specialized in more complex topics such as purification and equalizing.
The meeting was brief (since the teachers had to attend other classes in different departments), yet charming and heart-warming.
Soleil Silva, the Principal, was right beside a gloomy Abannak Moreau, the Vice Director, who had a face that wanted to die in his spot. The Director wore a white tuxedo with flower dots on the sleeves and a fresh Lily on the lapel.
A red-colored robe teacher almost took a fast nap, but Aarush poked her cheeks many times. Fani Fen was her name, and she struggled with her messy sleep schedule while Aarush was perfectly wide awake and avoiding her napping. Lydia, on the other hand, shamelessly slept a few minutes because those little buds gave her a hard time last night. Mine paid attention to everything the administration presented, from the new systems to his new classrooms and workload. He was the University's bright and gold teacher, their youngest prodigy who quickly reached high status due to his performance and mastery. Also, he had been under the Magical Council's eyes since then.
However, there was a new teacher who caught their curious eyes.
"Now, we're announcing the new member to the University of Magic's family: Addai Lee-hobb! He's the new dark mana teacher, and will be taking the discipline's side B, while Shire Metsu will still teach side A," Soleil happily informed, waving his wand. "Come Addai, present yourself!"
The boy stood up from the crowd and, in a blink of an eye, was standing still on the stage in front of the public. He had an impressive posture and was quite striking to look at. His fluffy dark hair created a remarkable contrast with his thin heterochromatic eyes - one yellow and the other deep blue. His glasses were held elegantly by golden strands, adding to his charming appearance.
A true gentleman.
"It's a pleasure to be part of this institution," Addai bowed. "I aim to be welcoming to the new students and ensure that we have an enjoyable time together.”
"He's hot, isn't he?" Lydia poked Mine's cheek, and he deadly stared at her.
"Lydia, it's not time for this!" Mine quietly scolded, then pinched her nose, making her whimper.
"You two better behave. Abannak is staring at you two" Aarush broke out in a cold sweat as the Vice Director rose to their feet, fixating their gaze on the people beyond the gathered crowd.
The Vice Director wore a long dark robe with silver details on the collar and black gloves. Simple yet elegant like his long silver hair tied up with a blue ornament. He looked directly at Mine's soul, and the boy could feel something spicy coming up.
"Addai, since you are new, we have sorted an experienced teacher named Mine Karawaga to guide you through your first months. He will be your tutor," Abannak explained, and Addai nodded. "Can you please present yourself, Mine?"
Mine approached the stage, putting on the simple light, teal-colored teacher robe he had washed the previous night. The tips of his hair oddly changed from ashy-green to yellow to blue and then to teal color, like a chameleon. He was smaller than the new teacher and not too younger.
His round, pink-colored eyes stared at the other teacher, welcoming him with a smile and a handshake. His smile was as lively as his flushed cheeks, eyes almost closed, and the eyelashes the center of attention.
"It's a pleasure to meet and greet you all here" Mine greeted the new students and waved his wand, summoning light mana bunnies to ethereally hop around people.
"I hope everyone likes Addai's classes and doesn't fail mine… it's well-known that some students work hard on dark mana and forget the light…" he sighed and glared at the students, while the bunnies turned slightly reddish.
Low gasps then silence. Mine chuckled at their horrified faces and, with a wand movement, all the mana bunnies vanished in the air, releasing a soothing aura.
"What a show-off," Lydia teased lowly, and Aarush chuckled.
“Enjoy your first year at the Uni and come to my classes later!” Mine bowed again, cheerfully smiling.
Meanwhile, Soleil continued talking, so Mine guided the new teacher to take a seat. Unfortunately, his seat next to his friends was too far away, so he had to pick another one next to the stage, which was surprisingly vacant.
"I'm hoping to learn a lot from you," Addai bowed respectfully.
"I need to give you directions. Meet me at the teacher's common room after class" Mine grinned, storing his wand into his pockets.
"Sure thing," Addai smiled.
A handshake, and it seemed like the room had gone silent for a few seconds. A pair of eyes stared at him, and, as straight-faced as a good Karawaga, stared back. It all lasted just a few seconds, but long enough to realize that the smile on the new teacher's face had discreetly slipped into another expression that didn't appear on his face.
"You good?" Mine asked, still holding Addai's handshake.
"Huh? Yeah, why?"
"Nothing at all," Mine chuckled, releasing Addai's hand. "Nice gloves," he grinned, resting his hands on his lap.
"Thanks," Addai crossed arms, turning his attention to Soleil's words.
The new students weren't quite interested in Mine's classes because he seemed too young to teach. However, when Mine made a corpse stand and started showing the remaining mana record, all their doubts faded almost instantly, replaced by amusement and fear of what he could do to that corpse.
Morning and Afternoon classes ended. Fortunately, they were smooth and didn't wear him out a lot. Maybe because it was the first day, so neither the teacher nor the students were overwhelmed.
Then, an acute screech alone filled the corridors, and it didn't take long, and more screeches were heard. No mistake they were... mandragoras!
Mine remembered Lydia would be giving her first-year students mandragora buds for them to work on it the whole semester (or year, depending on their survival). She needed to go to the Pure Mana Building because the little buds were too fussy to be under the sun and didn't want to share space with other plants so... that place would be perfect due to the building's energies, which soothed the fussy ones.
Lydia had a mastery on them that avoided all the horrible inconvenient screams. Additionally, the buds grew fond of her after she began caring for them like little pets, providing them with adequate watering, nutrition, and supplements. Still, the moment she handed a bud to each student... they didn't appreciate it at all!
Mine, a bit late for the meeting with Addai, rushed through the corridors to the teacher's common room; a location at the main building. It was clean and wide; all the teachers had a private locker and table to study and work; also, it was full of books they eventually brought to enrich their knowledge, not that the main library didn't have some, but those there were exclusive.
The moment he touched the doorknob, he heard a few whispers coming from inside, so he knocked on the door before entering.
“Hello? May I come in?”
“…” no replies in return.
"I'm opening," Mine turned the doorknob and received a rude yank backward.
“How rude,” a voice whispered near his right ear, close enough to feel the speaker’s breath.
"WHAT THE F-?" he faced the speaker angrily, clenching his fists, ready for a counterattack.
He felt a beautiful anger flow and blur his already blurred vision.
What’s with that harshness and petulance?!
"Ops, sorry," the person apologized and released his collar. "Let's pretend nothing happened."
"Shit… I'll pretend then, just because I'm too tired," Mine huffed and walked into the room, placing his backpack on the sofa. "Only this time I'll turn a blind eye on it," he sterned, recognizing the person.
"Thank you," Addai bowed.
"Take a seat. I wrote a few things for you. It's about the University system and procedures," Mine handed him a few papers meticulously written. "Any doubts you have my number."
God knows how much an anger flow fades slowly, and Mine was doing his best to not hit that soul. So, he took some of his books, placing them on the table to tidy up the locker he used as book storage since his main one – the one from the Light Mana Department – was already full enough. It looked like the locker was begging for mercy, crammed to the ceiling with books and notebooks, but its owner always thought there would be more and more objects in there.
Mine rarely stayed in the teachers' common room in the central building, because his department was the quietest, so it was much more helpful to stay there than in the common; but when he needed to use the books or was too lazy to go to his department, he stayed there. In addition, Addai did not have access to the other buildings as he was still in the probationary stage. He was only allowed to access Herbology, Miasma, Arena, Main Library and the main administration building.
"What is this?" Addai asked, with dots of curiosity in his voice.
“This” he pointed to a rainbow bracelet on Mine's wrist that looked like it had seen better and brighter days.
"Ah, it's a common bracelet. An old friend gave it to me a long time ago. Stop procrastinating and focus on your document there."
“Ok, ok… Your Wisdom," Addai mocked, and Mine stared at him in disbelief.
"What? Did you think I would be your friend? I’m still not convinced you’re that good as... ah! As legend says, right Mr. Karawaga?" he leaned on the chair and crossed his arms.
"I'm as capable as you are," Mine looked at him even more incredulous with such petulance.
“Ah, yeah, yeah. That's what everybody says," Addai waved his right hand in disdain, "Your face even resembles as a child's one," he chuckled.
If God allowed, and so the University Ethic's code, Mine would surely punch the newbie's face... but he needed to act cool.
"Look, I've been polite so far," Mine said, already losing his composure. "And, with that, I leave and politely tell you to fuck off,” he put his belongings in the backpack.
"Wow~" Addai whistled, and Mine got out of there, trying not to shove his hand in that person's face.