Chapter 2: The Academy’s Worst Student (2)
“Frey, what are those?”
Lucas looked at the pills strewn all over the bed and replied.
“That wasn’t what I meant. What I want to know is-”
“Swallowing five would cause you to lose consciousness, while ten puts your life at risk. I’m aware of what you want to talk about, professor.”
Dio was astonished. The timid Frey he knew would never cut him off. Moreover, the timbre of his voice was much more powerful than he could remember.
“I’m sorry to have caused you to worry, but it’s not going to happen.”
His voice was firm, a quality not found in the original Frey. Dio was flustered, but soon made a guess.
‘Was it a great awakening?’
Perhaps he did swallow the pills and arrived on the brink of death, only to survive by the will of the heavens. He must have gone through a multitude of inner changes. If an outsider heard this, they would object in fervor. But however rare, some magicians have gained strength after passing through the veil of death. Moreover, raising the level of one’s magic a star higher also results in the strengthening of one’s mental power. The more he thought about it, the more he believed it to be true.
The reality was different, but Dio’s mind was set.
“I’ll need to retrieve the pills.”
Lucas personally picked up the pills scattered on the bed and handed them to Dio. Taking them, he nodded.
“Frey, I won’t ask you how you got this many sleeping pills. However, keep in mind that I cannot allow such behavior twice.”
“I understand, sir.”
Dio intended to leave at those words, but he turned his head and added.
“It seems like something fortuitous occurred. Congratulations.”
Lucas nodded with an unsure expression.
“But make sure to skip the practical training session tomorrow afternoon.”
“What do you mean?”
It was really an honest question for Lucas, but Dio’s expression became rigid as if he thought he was trying to feign innocence.
“You don’t think you’ll be able to defeat David just because you climbed a rank, do you? He’s well-known for being an excellent 3-star magician. You won’t be able to do it as you are now.”
“I’ll tell the professor in charge of the afternoon class, so go to bed early.”
Dio parted with those words. Lucas remembered David’s threat.
“I’m going to make you half-dead in tomorrow’s practical training session.”
“Bastard of the Blake House!”
“Hahaha! You can look forward to it!”
A contemptuous cackling brunette came to mind. His name was David Stonehazard.
When he recalled David’s face, sweat pooled on his palms. Frey was frightened. But the fear soon vanished without a trace; his identity as Lucas forbade him to be afraid of such a teeny brat.
“Tomorrow’s training session.”
Lucas was not worried. There was a mountain of work to be done ahead of him. In comparison, the problem of a little kid like David was not worth his effort. Deciding to head outside first, he opened the door and left the dormitory.
Lucas breathed deeply, the brisk night air permeating his lungs. It had an unpleasant odor. Frey’s memories let him know precisely where he stood.
‘The student dorms.’
It was the worst dormitory among them. Because it was near a garbage disposal site and a stable, the air smelled foul. Even worse, it took as long as 20 minutes to walk to the main building. As a result, there were less than 10 people living in the large space.
Lucas surveyed his surroundings and found an area where mana thickly concentrated. It took little effort since the area in question was the dormitory’s backyard. It was a place hardly visited by others and was left mostly untouched. Hence, the nearby natural mana had been preserved to some extent.
‘But what a shame…’
Lucas thought of the places he used to train at in the past.
Glaciers that no human set foot upon, rivers of flowing lava, and summits that seemed to pierce the heavens… All of them were natural areas that allowed him to feel the purest mana. Regrettably, he knew that as he was now, he could not go anywhere near those areas without losing his life.
“Let’s not be impatient.”
Lucas muttered to himself. Patience should be exercised thoroughly. Not only that, it was crucial that he remained level-headed without ever losing sight of the anger which drove him. Closing his eyes, he began to steadily concentrate.
* * *
What Lucas was practicing was the most basic training technique called assimilation. The goal was to become one with nature through immersion. It was his former friend, Schweizer Straw, who devised this training method. Recalling him left Lucas a bit nostalgic.
The most distinctive feature of this practice was that the effect varied greatly depending on the mental discipline of the trainee. In the past, when Frey would do this training all day, the mana he was able to concentrate amounted only to a handful of dust. Lucas on the other hand…
The sun steadily climbed over the horizon. Nevertheless, Lucas did not move an inch and maintained his posture. He slowly opened his eyes, which were overflowing with a cerulean aura. To an onlooker, it would have been an astounding sight. The cerulean energy that was clearly visible at first glance was the manifestation of mana. The heady concentration was unmistakable proof of reaching five stars.
Lucas vomited a mass of foreign matter. The putrid black substance reeked. Before long, similar liquids began to trickle out from pores all over his body.
It was the impurities accumulated in this body since Frey was born. In order to move mana more efficiently, they needed to be cleared first. The movement speed would increase drastically from just this purge alone. In addition, the body could now be cloaked with mana more easily, making it possible to engage in a fierce battle with sufficient maneuverability.
For about a dozen minutes, Lucas sat down and spewed forth an amount of black liquid so great that it was unthinkable to have come from such a small body. Once finished, he sighed with a satisfied look. Although he smelled dreadful and his clothes were drenched with the black substance, he was full of vigor.
Looking at the mass of impurities that left his body, Lucas muttered.
“This guy’s blood vessels were blocked so severely, it’s abnormal.”
It was almost unbelievable that he was a child of a renowned magician family. His blood vessels were tightly clogged, and his sensitivity was hopeless.
“… Though impurities this great cannot be natural.”
He couldn’t tell if someone had a hand in this. It was not improbable, as Frey had a missing memory from his childhood.
He decided to put away his thoughts for now. In any case, Lucas was successful in raising his power to the fifth star. Magecraft laid within the realm of the mind, not the body. Though it was obvious that the two could not be separated entirely. However, as long as he remembered himself as the Great Mage Lucas Traumen, it was only a matter of time before he regained his original position.
He was certain that time would be greatly reduced.
‘But right now, five stars is the limit.’
Frey’s body could collapse if he was too rash. How could he waste this body so vainly? Lucas shook his head and waved his hands.
A loud rumble echoed. At that moment, the ground was uprooted and dirt rose from the earth. Transient Spear! It was an advanced spell only 5-star magicians or higher could use with ease. Frey took some of the upturned soil and masked the impurities on his body. There was still an awful stench, but no one would find it odd since he resided near the garbage dump.
He then returned to the dormitory, as cleaning his body took precedence. It was still dawn and not many lived there in the first place, so he was able to wash alone.
When Lucas was done, he began changing into his student uniform. Seeing his face reflected in the dusty mirror, he murmured.
“Well, you’ve got a pretty good face.”
Lucas said it offhandedly, but in fact his appearance had changed a great deal overnight. As the impurities in his body were removed, his skin became dewy while his eyes glistened. Even his unkempt hair was now as silky as a noble’s. Frey was not ugly to begin with. Rather, he was strikingly handsome. However, the usual Frey had always cowered with his back curved, shoulders shrunken, and head bowed.
But now he was different. His waist and shoulders were straight, and his always trembling eyes were firm. Overall, the impression he gave had changed remarkably.
Frey’s appearance now shone as if a diamond in the rough had been thoroughly polished through persistent workmanship. So much that the students who knew him would not easily recognize him. In that sense, Lucas was indifferent.
As he finished changing, he realized that both his stomach and throat ached painfully, evidence that he needed sustenance. His thirst for mana was satiated, so now his body desperately craved a meal. He wanted to eat. Anything would do. He just wanted to chew, swallow, and drink.
‘The cafeteria is in the main building.’
He headed straight to the cafeteria. It was early in the morning, so there were only a few people present. In the past, he preferred quiet meals, but after 4,000 years of being stuck in a space with nothing, more silence than necessary felt uncomfortable. The current low hum was just right. The clatter of dining utensils, the whirring of the busy kitchen, and the low roar of the students’ chatter created a tranquil atmosphere.
Wheat bread and hot soup. Something so simple caused tears to well in Lucas’ eyes as he ate.
It was his first meal in 4,000 years, so he probably would have had a similar reaction even if he chewed on roadside weeds. Lucas ate the soup with care as if it was the best one he ever had. The food at Westroad Academy’s cafeteria deeply moved him, living up to it’s stellar reputation.
With a sigh, he finished his meal. Lucas wanted to close his eyes and immerse himself in the lingering bliss of satiety, but he could not afford it.
He quickly regained his senses and headed to the classroom where his first class took place. The reason why he wanted to attend class was simple.
‘Frey’s knowledge is lacking.’
Since he liked to study, he was a bit more knowledgeable compared to his peers, but he was still like a frog in a well. Lucas needed to figure out how the current world operated. In this sense, his position as a student at the academy was perfect. He intended to use his current status to its fullest until he could grasp the situation and gather enough information.
Lucas decided to live as Frey for the time being.
‘This is it.’
He opened the classroom door and entered not as Lucas, but as Frey.
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