Chapter 53

“Aunt Paige, do you think everyone will be alright?”

Markus anxiously said aloud as he paced about the clover filled clearing as his Aunt Paige looked over Boary once again. Her frown wasn’t helping his anxiety, though she had already told him that everything would be okay.

“Your Aunt Zenith knows what she is doing. So long as she words her statement diplomatically, everything will be fine. She’s not crazy enough to threaten the Healer Hall. I mean, I would threaten them outright, but I would try to depend on the items I gave her first. Order of things, you know? At best they drop it outright, at worst she fights a few Protectors and thrashes them.”

Patting Boary on the head, his aunt finally stood up a walked back to the house, seemingly content with Boary’s condition. She had barely spared a thought for his other aunt, but that hardly surprised Markus. He knew full well that his aunt liked to push problems down the road and deal with them all in one go.

But that didn’t help his nerves. “… Aunt Zenith is just a Teacher though,” Markus said worriedly.

“Meh, I’d be more surprised if she got injured. She has a Mana Shield, knows [Defensive Cloth] and [Vital Guard]. She can tank a few hits before Tyler jumps in to help. Besides, nothing speaks louder than a Mage surviving a close combat situation. And then if worst comes to worst she has the backup item I gave her which I know for a fact will end any debate the Healer Hall has to offer.

If anything, she’ll probably try and kill me for not giving her enough information, but again, that’s what Tyler is there for.” Shooing Markus off in front of her, Paige slowed as she felt someone nearby. Grabbing a stone from the path, she threw it at the tree, whispering, “Stop pointing that arrow at me, Nick. Zenith will be fine.” 

Nick strode out from behind the tree and walked beside her. “You’re awfully confident that everything will be okay, Paige. Would it have killed you to have told her all that in writing?”

“Nick. We both know Zenith can handle herself. And it’s good exercise for her. She’s not even thirty yet. She can handle a few high-stress encounters. Honestly, I think it’ll do her more good than harm in the long run. You don’t stay a High Class in peaceful times, after all.”


“You did it, Mentor! Though, what were those items?” Lily asked as the Healer Hall left to converse amongst themselves.

Zenith let out a quiet breath. That had… well, not gone as well as she had hoped, but it was still an acceptable outcome. Still, it would have helped if she knew the true background of the item’s Paige had given her. The Nespe Academy and Royal Family might as well not be present for all the help they were, a fact both had probably realized judging by their awkward expressions.

“It’s something relatively useful to have. Technically, by presenting the item you have the authority to make a demand to the Healer Hall. At least, that’s what I gathered it should be able to do. And the book was an old diary that contained a few healing spells. Came in handy when I was learning healing spells. To be honest, I didn’t think that would work since I did get both items from a corpse.”

“Cough, cough. That you discovered during one of your travels,” Tyler added rather helpfully after seeing the others freeze. 

“Yes, of course, that I procured from a corpse during my adventuring days.” She amended her words slightly, though she was inwardly skeptical about Tyler’s reaction. Was it not customary to loot the dead’s belongings in Alcudia? Any mage worth their Class would check for any useful items.

“Anyway, Emilia, I’m really sorry about all of this. I’ll make sure I talk to Paige about this. I really shouldn’t have trusted her to teach the nuances of Party Creation. That was my fault.”

Zenith bowed rather heavily to Lily’s parents. This could have been mostly if not entirely avoided had she taught that lesson. But no, who knows what had possessed her to let Paige of all people teach that one subject. Paige! The person who literally could manipulate the whole ritual to her own benefit!

“It, it’s fine Zenith. I am just surprised you had something that important lying around. And that you would use it one something like this.”

Zenith looked up. “It’s not a waste to me, Emilia. What good is an item if you never use it? Honestly, I could have probably just have taken Lily back to the forest and she’d been fine after a few years. Still might take her back and tutor her myself if the school system doesn’t keep her best interests in mind,” Zenith said rather pointedly as the head combat teacher stood nearby.

“Now, it worked out for the best. Both the Academy and the Royal Family have their own set of issues to deal with. Though, it is hard to say if you made it better or worse. They don’t take threats lightly,” Kenton said quietly as he looked over to the Healer Hall.

Zenith frowned. No one takes threats lightly. That was the whole point of issuing a threat in the first place. Plus, she never outright stated that she would attack, only that she would fix the problem herself. Subtle nuance aside, it was hardly worth starting a fight over.

“Well, assuming they even have a legal leg to stand on, I still feel confident that we have the upper hand. Still, Lily, stay near Tyler for now until we leave. If the worse comes to worst, he’ll be able to protect you until the three of you reach Cidala.”

“Mentor? Do you think they’ll attack? They are the Healer Hall after all,” Lily asked nervously.

“… how good is the leverage they have on you, your majesty? Nevermind,” Zenith rescinded her question after seeing the queen stiffen.

Now Zenith was starting to feel the tension rising in the library. ‘Paige! Why am I the one having to deal with all this crap! This is all your fault!’.

She could see the Librarian doing something from the corner of her eye as she sat down by her desk. The sudden stilling of the ambient mana clued her into what the Librarian had just done.

“Lily. Stay within two steps of Tyler. It looks like we might be in for a fight.”

“Eh?”

“The Librarian activated the building defenses. Be careful,” Lily said as she cupped her hands and blew into it, focusing a portion of the ambient mana toward her palms instead of the formation surrounding them. The Healer Hall had come to a decision and was walking back toward the trial floor. ‘Best to get ready for a fight,’ she thought as she compressed the wind orb into her hand. Though she hoped it wouldn’t come down to one.

 —

“We’ve come to a conclusion…” Healer Prim announced solemnly as everyone strode back to their respective positions. Zenith shooed Lily over to her family instead of front and center, and alone stood squarely in front of the Healer Hall. They would have to go through her before they could get to Lily. ‘Please, please don’t force me to fight.’ 

Zenith stilled, focusing on the air around the library. ‘Not enough to really cast a barrier of wind, though I can do at least a dozen [Wind Blades] if need be.’

That was the problem for a Wind Mage with fighting inside a building. She knew a portion of her mana would have to be set aside for her [Air Molding] skill. Not as much mana as when she was a Wind Mage since she now had a greater affinity to wind, but it would still limit her to a small degree. And then she would have to dedicate another portion of her mana separate to defend against any offensive Skills or Spells that she was sure to encounter.

“… that the girl, Lily Thompson, will be allowed to keep her party intact. The Protectors of the Healer Hall will take a step back and protect the girl in secret, conforming to your general wishes, Miss Zenith.”

Zenith waited for what was coming and kept a close watch on the Protectors themselves.

‘Although…’

“Although, we are unsure about the veracity of the items in your possession. Please present them for inspection.”

‘… that’s a bunch of crap.’ Zenith was sure they would attack her the moment she got in range, most likely for something as nonsensical as ‘getting to close to a Cleric’. And it would probably be even worse for her if the Protectors came close to her. She hadn’t seen a High-Class fight yet since they arrived, and she would be damned if she was the first to test a High Class in close combat before Paige or Tyler.

Still, she had to decide fast what to do. “I’ll float the items over.”

Releasing some of the wind from her fist, she slowly pushed the items over, keeping a careful watch on the people in front of her. This would be the best time to attack while she was busy focusing on levitating the items. 

But to her surprise, Prim just stood there and waited for the items to fall into her hand. Zenith held her breath as Prim lifted her cross to the one she just gave, clearly waiting for something to happen. As Prim circulated her mana, her cross started to glow, and with it, the one Zenith had claimed glowed as well.

“Okay, they are not counterfeit items. This trial is adjourned. The girl may live.”

Relieved, Zenith turned to face Tyler and took stock of his eyes and spun back around, protecting her head with crossed arms, using the compacted ball of wind to push backward and away from her position. The slicing of a blade told her all she needed to know.

‘Of course they would attack! Stupid Zenith, get your head in the game!’

The blade was coming in for another attack, judging by how the slashing of the blade had not finished. A windmill slash.

‘[Defensive Cloth], [Vital Guard]!’ 

Zenith shrunk herself as much as she could, hoping to reduce the target area as much as possible. Her bracer light up as the blade edged closer, her mana shield fully activating in response to an attack. And then it dimmed as the blade dipped away from her head and the bracer. Zenith grimaced and focused more of her mana to resist the attack, just in case her opponent used a Skill.

‘Great, the Mana Shield turns off if an attack is not aimed at it!? Of all the mana cost-saving measures to use, why on earth would anyone choose that enchantment on a shield!?’ 

Even worse, it was not fun watching the blade edge closer and closer to her body. ‘This better work Paige or I’ll haunt you forever!’ Paige had painted a rather nice picture of her fighting against two Assassins and surviving with just her two defensive Skills, so she gambled on Paige’s expertise and experience.

The hard-knocking sound the sword made as it hit her robe, and the absence of a noticeable mana drain told Zenith that her opponent hadn’t used a Skill when attacking. Still, the impact jolted Zenith backward and as she released her hold of the orb of air, fully expending the small orb.

Luckily that gave Zenith enough room to maneuver, hopefully far enough away from the enemy. “[Air Molding], [[Wind Blade]]!” She slashed her arm horizontally, hoping to hit the Vanguard or whatever defensive Class her enemy was and hit… nothing. “Damn! Where’d he go!?”

Recalling the wind before it got too far away, Zenith braced herself for a coming attack and stopped as she took stock of the library. Her enemy wasn’t trying to pursue her as she backed up. No, he had instead elected to kneel on the ground, his head bowed deeply. She frowned as she noticed the Queen and Prim take a step back and curtsy as well, and soon the others in the room displayed the same actions.

It didn’t take long for Zenith to realize what had happened as she stood still. The light of her necklace was hardly noticeable in her vision, but to everyone else, it was a pale deathly blue.

‘…the impact and me jumping backward must have jolted the necklace out from under my robe.’

Zenith counted to ten before she started moving again, hoping she could display enough arrogance to pass off as someone important. ‘This is the worst day ever. And I’m going to kill Paige.’ 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s