93 There and Back Again
Lith spent his last free days studying Alchemy and Forgemastering.
Both the crafting disciplines were very hard to convert into true magic.
Alchemy was a weak subject for him.
He barely managed to understand the basics, leaving most of the work to Solus, while he studied his clothes, amulet and magic storing rings, hoping to understand how to replicate and enhance their pseudo cores with true Forgemastering.
Before leaving, Lith managed to pay a social visit to Protector, Reaper and Lifebringer. He wanted to be updated about the situation in the Trawn woods, but more importantly he was fishing for Alchemic ingredients.
During spring, animals would change their coats, and deer would shed their antlers. What for him was a treasure for them was garbage, so they had no reason to deny his request.
By simply grooming them for a few minutes, he had enough to stuff several pillows.
After returning to the Academy, life once again resumed its routine, with only a couple of changes. Lith obtained from Phloria and Friya training in sword arts, and in exchange Phloria would take part in his silent magic private lessons.
Adjusting their schedule proved to be a bit hard, but thanks to Soluspedia, Lith didn’t need to study much. Worst case scenario he would not sleep and Invigorate himself to cram through the night and leave the afternoons free.
That, coupled with Phloria attending to only one specialization course, allowed him to practice often.
Months passed, and so the end of the first trimester came.
Many students were afraid of the finals, and started to compile a list of all the possible trials that could be required for them to perform.
Lith couldn’t care less. If it was a written exam, with Soluspedia it would be a walk in the park. If the test was of practical nature, he was quite confident to be able to screw it up just enough to be in the top 10, but avoiding the top spots.
The day of the finals, they were all assembled in the compulsory courses’ class, the only one that could accommodate all the fourth-year students, waiting for Professor Trasque to arrive.
Yet the one that entered the room was Headmaster Linjos.
“Good morning, my precious students. This time, I bring you only good news.
There will be no finals, because you have already taken all of them.”
Most of those present went into panic, thinking that the mock exam had actually been a real one. All those that reached this conclusion, cursed the Headmaster inwardly, for the unfairness of crushing their grades after only a month of preparation.
“This is one of the changes that I have made to White Griffon system, that no one was aware of. You have been judged daily for three months, based on your preparation and the effort you put into the lessons.
I want you to know that rather than failure or success, special importance has been attached to your progress. To how you learned about your weak points and worked on fixing them.
After such prolonged and careful evaluation, any further test would be useless, especially written exams. They would only serve to see who is better at cheating, like often happened in the previous years.
The only way to get good grades with my system, is through hard work and perseverance, not by goofing off a whole term and hoping for a mad rush to be enough.”
His tone became harsh during the last sentence, looking straight to some students that cowered behind their desks.
“Also, there will be no ranking, not until the end of the year. It’s another toxic relic of the past, that only managed to sour relationships and turned friends into enemies. I will now give you your report card, but it’s for your eyes only.”
In front of each student appeared a blank piece of paper.
“To read its content, just imprint it with your mana. To those who have passed all their courses, you have my congratulations. For those who have failed one or more classes, you’ll have to retake them entirely in the second trimester.
If you have problems with your timetable, I suggest you to drop a specialization, if you are taking more than one. Is better to achieve less than failing entirely.”
Scared murmuring filled the air.
“To those that find such judgement unfair, feel free to bring the matter up to the Professors or to me, if you prefer. We’ll give you impromptu make-up tests.
In case you succeed, the votes will be changed accordingly. There will be no punishment in case of failure. Dismissed. Take the rest of the day to plan your future properly. You have only until the end of today to ask for a second evaluation.”
Linjos had yet to reach the door that everyone was picking his own report card, infusing it with magic.
Lith’s one was as following:
Theory of Combat Magic: A; Principles of Advanced Magic: A; Forgemastering: A; Healing: S-. School points gained from daily evaluation: 3,365.
– “F*ck! What did I do wrong to get that S?”
“Do you mean aside from sharing your spell, proposing brilliant ideas on daily basis and removing the Clacker’s venom from your body and weaponizing it in front of the whole staff?” Solus sneered.
“Dammit, Linjos keeps screwing up my plans. I can’t ruin my average score during the finals if there are no finals. That man is diabolical.”
“What is done is done.” Solus mind-shrugged. “Let’s see how the others fared.” –
Looking around the class, watching the student’s faces was enough to get an idea of their grades. Those who cried or cursed loudly had clearly failed at one or more classes.
Lith didn’t have to go far, his four “friends” had taken the habit to sit next to him as soon they had returned from the four days break.
“What’s with the sour face?” Yurial asked looking worried.
“Did something go wrong?”
“Let’s get out of here.” Lith replied with a whisper.
“To not betray Linjos’ expectations, is better to talk somewhere private.” He pointed with his thumb to the heart broken students.
Everyone nodded, then they got up and exited the room unnoticed. Yurial’s place was the closest one, so they headed there
After closing the door behind them, Lith activated his Hush spell. He was almost certain that all the rooms were soundproof, considering the philandering style they were built for. But he wasn’t the type to take chances.
“Well? How did it go?” Phloria prompted him.
“Mine is: Theory of Combat Magic: B+; Principles of Advanced Magic: B; Mage Knight: A+. School points gained from daily evaluation: 2,254.”
Everyone gave her a short round of applause.
“Thanks, but I bet I have less points than you lot, since I got only a specialization.”
“Yeah, we are almost the same.” Quylla stood straight as an arrow.
“I got Theory of Combat Magic: B-; Principles of Advanced Magic: B+; Healing: A++. School points gained from daily evaluation: 2,382. Sadly, I still suck at the combat part of magic.”
Another short round of applauses, with a side of whistles.
“Sigh, seems I’m not in the running for the top spot as a healer anymore.” Yurial said with an apologetic voice.
“I got only Theory of Combat Magic: B; Principles of Advanced Magic: B; Warden: A; Healing: A. School points gained from daily evaluation: 2,530. At least I can console myself with the extra points.”
He seemed really dejected. Taking out a specialization, the archmage’s heir had scored two plusses less than a starving commoner.
“Don’t beat yourself up, man.” Lith said patting Yurial on his back.
“Quylla and Phloria performed outstandingly, but you are no worse in any way. Managing to score two As in both your specializations of choice is no easy feat.”
Yurial humbly accepted the compliment, and so did the girls.
– “Now my only hope is that I didn’t just shoot me in the foot unknowingly insulting Friya.” – Lith though, trying to play both sides of the fence.
Luckily, she didn’t seem upset.
“Yeah, you have done good. Mine is Theory of Combat Magic: B; Principles of Advanced Magic: B; Mage Knight: B+; Healing: A. School points gained from daily evaluation: 2,420.”
“That’s an excellent result for someone who’s the first in her family to become a magician, with no legacy or training to speak of, except a second-rate mentor.” Lith said to lift her spirit, while winking at Quylla.
It meant “I know that you and I got a worse start than her, but please follow my lead.”
But instead of winking back, she blushed and looked away, leaving Lith in a daze.
“You have yet to answer my question, though.” Yurial said with an inquisitive look.
Lith sighed, pondering if to tell them the truth or tune down his votes.
– “After all, I am their combat magic teacher and the fastest learner in advance magic. I doubt they will actually be surprised.” –
And they weren’t. There was no awkward pause before they started clapping and complementing him. Yurial even took out a laurel wreath from his dimensional amulet.
“I hereby crown you king of the hill.”
“That was to be expected.” Friya said. “Without you, I doubt I would have got a B in combat magic. Maybe a C, if not fail it entirely.”
“I would have failed for sure.” Quylla wasn’t dejected at all, while saying it. On the contrary she was proud of her achievement.
“I never fought in my life, and never did much with magic beside healing.”
“I would have surely achieved a solid C, maybe C+, but that’s it.” Phloria shrugged. “I learned a lot in these two months. Who knew that first magic was so useful?”
“I’m the same as Quylla, but for different reasons.” Yurial said.
“I was so eager to please my father that I only focused on tier three magic. I always considered first magic a tool for servants. I knew nothing about it.”
“If what you all said it’s true, then you should go and report it to Trasque.” Lith said returning the wreath to its owner.
Seeing their confused expressions at his words, he proceeded to explain.
“You heard Linjos, he is trying to change the system. New things are bound to have flaws, and need a proper feedback to be fixed. If you share with him your doubts and struggling with the course, you’ll help the system, and as a result all other students.
He won’t be angry at you for being honest, more likely you’ll gain extra points.”
“How do we know this is not a ruse for you to get even more merits at our expenses?” Doubt had reduced Quylla’s eyes to slits. She didn’t want to believe Lith making her look bad for his own profit, but she had learned to look out for herself.
“Easy, don’t mention my name.” He shrugged. “One of you can take credit for the lessons, for all I care. I’m not proposing this for points, but because I care for you and the academy.
Without Linjos, my life here would be much harder, and I think the same stand for most of us. Another thing, try to remember what he said about accepting your limits and working to fix them. I really think it would do you some good.”
Lith left the room, letting them decide without him interfering.
After discussing it for a while, his words actually made a lot of sense.
“I really can’t make head or tails about Lith.” Yurial confessed.
“Sometimes he acts normal, but when it comes down to magic and responsibilities, it seems I am talking to my father instead of a friend. Always worrying about my future, me eating properly and learning my lessons.”
“Agreed.” Friya said. “At some point I started doubting he was only twelve, so I had a background check made on him. He is really twelve, and it’s supposed to be the youngest child of his family. Then why do I get the impression he is…”
She struggled finding the right word.
Later, they decided to follow Lith’s advice, and report everything to Trasque.
He asked them a few questions about what they had found particularly hard and challenging, and how they had overcome their respective bottlenecks.
“Seems a single Professor is really not enough.” Trasque sighed. “Combat Magic has the highest rate of failure among all courses. We need to fix this ASAP. Thank you for your sincerity guys.” He said snapping his fingers.
“I just raised your grade in my class by one notch. I’m really proud of your growth.”
Meanwhile, Lith was in his room, taking a nap to catch up on his sleep.
A sudden knocking woke him up, prompting many curses. He was having one of his rare good dreams.
Seeing his frown, the academy’s clerk apologized for the inconvenience and delivered him the new books.
The first one’s title was: “Get out of my face. A comprehensive guide of all you need to know about dimensional magic.”
The author’s name was Khavos Rudd.